Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Psalm 47

Reasons to rejoice (vs. 1-9)—There are many reasons to glorify the Lord and this psalms mentions only a few, and those are largely related to Israel’s situation. But the principles are certainly today. We clap our hands (in joy) and shout the victory He gives to us (v. 1). Such “victories” would be physical as well as spiritual to the national/theological country of Israel. So, why should such rejoicing take place? First, God is “awesome” (v. 2, “terrible,” KJV; “awesome” is obviously better here). He is the King over all the earth (v. 2). Knowing that our God rules the entire world is certainly a reason for joy and comfort. Further, He would “subdue” Israel’s enemies (v. 3), and give them the inheritance He had promised them (v. 4). Jehovah had, of course, already given them the land He had promised to Abraham, but for that “inheritance” to continue is a praiseworthy thing. The shouting and “sound of a trumpet” of verse 5 also have martial overtones; physical Israel needed victories over their physical enemies, and we need victories over our spiritual opponents. The Lord leads us to those victories, and should get the credit. The idea of shouts and trumpets sounding as armies go/went into battle is not relevant in our age, but it was a primary way of rousing the spirit and encouraging the faint-hearted in ancient times. The fife and drums of American revolutionary times would be a parallel. But because of His glorious leadership in battle, the psalmist encourages his readers/listeners to “sing praises to God” (v. 6), the “King of all the earth” (v. 7). These praises should be sung “with understanding” (v. 7), thus with full appreciation of what He does for us.  God reigns over (all) the "nations" (v. 8, KJV has “heathen,” which is probably the way the Jews of old would view the “nations”). He is on “His holy throne” (v. 9), gathering the great and small of the land to protect them (v. 9). Thus, “He is greatly exalted.” There is no other God like Him, of course, for only He reigns. This is indeed a psalm of victory, triumph, and encouragement.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Psalm 46

"God is our refuge and strength" (vs. 1-3)--This beautiful psalm is one of great encouragement; I've often read it at funerals and encouraged the downtrodden to read it. In times when our life is stormy, He is our refuge. He can provide strength. He is "very present" when we are in trouble. These are words of comfort, indeed. And because of this, there is no catastrophe so great that we cannot meet it. The earth being removed, etc. of verses 2 and 3 are hyperbolic. If there is no reason to fear the most awesome and frightening of calamities, then there is no reason to fear the relatively minor disturbances of our lives.

The city of God (vs. 4-7)--Rivers meant life in the ancient world, especially in a hot, desert climate where people scraped along to make a living by agricultural means. So the "city of God" has not only "a river" but also "streams," and they "make glad" (v. 4). God's holy place is there (v. 4) and He is in its midst. That city will "not be moved," and from the earliest moments of the day, "God shall help her" (v. 5). The wicked can rage all they want to, but all it takes for the earth to melt is the voice of God (v. 6). Again, He is "with us, our refuge” (v. 7).

"Behold the works of the Lord" (vs. 8-11)--The psalmist then counsels us to take the time to think on what the Lord has done. He can make "desolations" in the earth (v. 8), but also cause wars to cease (v. 9). This thought would be especially relevant to a small nation like Israel which was surrounded by cruel, heartless, pagan enemies. The Lord "will be exalted among the nations" (v. 10). He is the one, true God. The song ends with a repetition of verse 7: "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge" (v. 11).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Psalm 45

The overflowing heart (vs. 1)--This psalm is Messianic. Not only is part of it quoted in Hebrews 1, but, even though we are dealing with poetical language, the descriptions in this chapter could hardly apply to any man, poetry or not. The psalm opens with a prologue; the "inditing" of the KJV simply means "overflowing." And indeed, our hearts should overflow when we think of the glories of the Savior.

Various descriptions of the Messiah (vs. 2-9)--He is "fairer than the sons of men," whose lips (messages) are full of grace, and thus He is blessed forever by God (v. 2). He is mighty and majestic "because of truth, humility, and righteousness" (vs. 3-5). He is, indeed, God (v. 6), Who rules "forever and ever," with a "scepter of righteousness." This is the passage that is quoted in Hebrews 1:8-9 and applied to Jesus. Note that, contrary to Jehovah's Witnesses' doctrine, Christ is truly God. But in Psalm 45, we also get an interesting insight into the triune nature of deity: "Therefore God, your God, has anointed You" (v. 7). Jesus is God, yet in the scheme of redemption worked out in heaven, He is, in effect, "outranked" by the Father (cf. I Cor. 11:3). This, of course, is only a temporary arrangement designed for accomplishing the salvation of man. The Father sent the Son Who sent the Holy Spirit. There is no inequality or superiority here, any more than man is "superior" to woman. Different roles have been assigned to make various tasks easier and more efficient. This Messiah is "scented" with the most fragrant spices (v. 8), and worthy of praise by the highest and noblest (v. 9). The daughters of kings are His servants.

Exalt and worship Him (vs. 10-17)--The theme of verse 9 is expanded through much of the rest of the psalm. The "daughter" of verse 10 might be the "kings' daughters" of verse 9, though there is a plurality in verse 9 that is lacking in verse 10. Regardless, He is so exalted that the "daughter" is commanded to "forget your own people also, and your father's house." Our highest allegiance is to be to Him (Luke 14:26). He desires us, too, but we should "worship Him" (v. 11). Again, that language cannot apply to man, even poetically; only God is to be worshipped. As they should, the rich and the powerful honor Him in various ways (vs. 12-15). His "sons" shall be "princes in all the earth" (v. 16), and He will be remembered and praised "forever and ever" (v. 17). A beautiful psalm lauding the virtues and worthiness of Jesus, the Christ.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Psalm 44

The Lord's assistance in conquering Canaan (vs. 1-3)--"Assistance" might not be a strong enough word. Certainly He worked through His people, but the psalmist, correctly, gives Jehovah most of the credit: "You drove out the nations with Your hand" (v. 2). "They did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; but it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, because You favored them" (v. 3). It's a good place to begin a review of any life--the guidance of the Lord.

Trusting in God for victory (vs. 4-8)--Since He led Israel of old to victory, He can do the same for subsequent generations. He is the King Who can "command victories for Jacob" (v. 4). It is through His aid that enemies will be defeated (v. 5). We should not trust in our own devices (v. 6), but acknowledge that it is He Who was "saved us from our enemies" (v. 7). Thus, our boast is in Him, and we will "praise Your name forever" (v. 8). Israel was a national, as well as spiritual, entity, and thus the constant reference to "enemies" throughout the Psalms is literal and physical in character. Putting this on a more personal relevance for us, our great "enemy" is Satan. And it is through the Lord's assistance only that we can defeat Him.

All is not well (vs. 9-16)--The Psalmist here gives us a marvelous view of what our attitude ought to be. The first eight verses provide no hint that something might be wrong. The Lord has been instrumental, in times past, in leading His people to victory, and thus deserves to be praised. Regardless of what happens in life "Jehovah is worthy to be praised" (Ps. 18:3). But in the current case, "You have cast us off and put us to shame" (v. 9). Indeed, we have another fine example of palilogical parallelism..."You...You...You...You...You..." This is for ease of memorization. All of these matters are synonymous. The Lord had cast them off (v. 9), made them run from their enemies (v. 10), left them as weak as sheep (v. 11), sold them for "next to nothing" (i.e., they were worthless in His sight, v. 12), made them a reproach (v. 13) and a byword (v. 14). Dishonor and shame followed (vs. 15-16). The circumstance behind Israel's current miserable state is not recounted. The writer, having attributed past glories to the Lord, now attributes the current distress to Him as well. Jehovah is active, and near, in our lives. We must never forget that. And He does as He sees best for us.

"We have not forgotten you" (vs. 17-23)--This is questionable. Certainly, there were always faithful people in Israel, but they were nearly always in the minority. The account of Israel's history, as recorded in Judges through II Chronicle, is not one of faith and devotion to God. But, the psalmist claims that they had not "dealt falsely with Your covenant" (v. 17), "nor have our steps departed from Your way" (v. 18). Regardless of the accuracy of those statements, the Lord had turned against them (v. 19). The writer is somewhat confused. If they had been unfaithful and idolatrous, Jehovah would know it--"for He knows the secrets of the heart" (v. 21). "Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter" (v. 22). Paul quotes this passage in Romans 8:36 in reference to the persecution God's people might endure; but that is no indication that God no longer loves us. I do not believe this verse makes this psalm refer strictly to the Christian age. Paul is simply saying that the circumstance of the early church was similar to that in Psalm 44.  I think part of the application here is to realize that, even in those times in our lives when we believe we are doing the best we can for Him, there will be anguish and sorrow.  And we won't know why God is allowing it to happen.  Or, more appropriately, bringing it upon us.

"Why do you hide your face?" (vs. 23-26)--There is no resolution to this song. The writer does not understand why the Lord is doing what He is doing, not if they had been faithful to Him. They had been humbled (v. 25), so "redeem us for Your mercies' sake" (v. 26). Show how merciful You are by delivering us from this current troubles. Again, we see a psalm that is so very relevant to our own lives. We do not know why things happen in our lives--good and bad--but through it all we should praise God and request His aid in times of sorrow and suffering.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Psalm 43

A plea for vindication (vs. 1-5)--As noted in the previous post, this psalm seems, in some sense, to be a continuation of the previous one. Indeed, in a number of ancient manuscripts, it is written as a part of Psalm 42. The Syriac (Syrian) version of the Old Testament says this song was composed "by David when Jonathan told him that Saul intended to slay him," but there is no historical evidence for this. The Arabic says this is a prayer for backsliding Jews. Regardless, the author is pleading for God's aid "against an ungodly nation" and "from the deceitful and unjust man" (v. 1). Verse 2 sounds much like Psalm 42 (and some earlier psalms as well)--the belief that God has "cast" the author off and is not helping him. God's light and truth can lead to His "holy hill" where is found "the altar of God," "exceeding joy," and "praise" of the Almighty (vs. 3-4). Yet, at the moment, as in Psalm 42:5 and 11, the author finds his soul "cast down" and "disquieted." He seems to be chastising himself some: "why am I so depressed? All I need to do is hope in God and He will help." There are those times in our lives when we are truly in a downcast condition and wonder why, given God's limitless blessings, we feel the way we do. Why can we not appreciate Him more? The answer to that is not easy, but again, I believe that's one of the reasons why the Lord had these psalms written--to help us understand the realistic human condition. In spite of all that God has done for us, there are times when that thought doesn't seem to help our dispirited feelings. Yet, we can continue to "hope in God" for deliverance and we can still praise Him, regardless of how we feel.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Psalm 42

"Why are you cast down, O my soul?" (vs. 1-11)--It's interesting that this psalm and the next appear to go together. Verses 5, 11, and 43:5 are the same: "Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance." This is perhaps a chorus in the song. Because of this "chorus," both psalms have a mood of despair, but of hope. The writer desires God "as the deer pants for the water brooks" (v. 1). Yet God doesn't seem to be responding to him (v. 2), which brings tears "day and night" and continual mocking from his opponents (only identified as "they" in verse 3). Remembrance of his desire and need for God causes the songster to "pour out" his soul and reminds him of times he went "to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast" (v. 4). This tends to imply that he is not doing so now, for reasons that are not stated. Then the first rendition of the chorus, if such is what it is (v. 5). A despondent soul, which can only "hope in God" and praise Him "for the help of His countenance." There are indeed times for us all when we believe that only the Lord can help us. And sometimes it seems like He isn't, or at least He is delaying His answer longer than we desire Him to. But never give up (Luke 18:1-5). When our souls do get "cast down," then remember what He has done for us before (v. 6). Since He has the power to control nature, He can control our puny lives (v. 7). In His time, "Jehovah will command his lovingkindness"--notice the future tense, "will command." He wasn't doing it in the present, but the psalmist had faith that at some point, the Lord would act in his behalf. At the moment, and apparently for the immediate future (the future tense is used again in verse 9), the author thinks God has forgotten him, and he doesn't understand why (v. 9). His enemies are giving Him fits, and mocking him, chiding him for trusting in a God who is not there. So, the song ends on the despairing, but hopeful, chorus, "Why are you cast down, O my soul?...Hope in God" (v. 11).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Psalm 41

“Blessed is he who considers the poor” (vs. 1-3)—The Lord has always pronounced favor on those who aid the less fortunate; indeed, it is a sign of “pure religion” (James 1:27). Without a governmental welfare system in the Old Testament, Jehovah required voluntary service to the poor; indeed, there is no virtue in America’s system of forced benevolence. Even the king, who had the authority to compel people to do whatever he wanted, recognizes the blessings that accrue to those who “consider the poor.” Jehovah will “preserve him” and “he will be blessed on the earth” (v. 2). Protection from enemies (v. 2), and strength and sustaining in illness will also be his (v. 3). Again, this is poetic language and not intended as absolutes. But they do teach a general lesson that helping the feeble is noticed and blessed by God.

David and his enemies (vs. 4-9)—There seems to be a decided shift in the theme of this psalm from henceforth. David acknowledges his sin and asks for mercy (v. 4). Perhaps because of that sin, his enemies oppress him in various ways, in word (vs. 5-8) and in deed (v. 9). Specifically, these enemies “speak evil” and “lies” (v. 5). “His heart gathers iniquity to itself” (v. 6), then goes out and commits it. Notice that the heart is where sin begins, and if the heart is “gathering” sin, it will execute it. His enemies hope for David’s death (vs. 7-8), and even “my own familiar friend in whom I trusted…has lifted up his heel against me” (v. 9). David is once again contrasting the actions of man with the help only God can provide.

The appeal for mercy (vs. 10-13)—There is some indication that David might literally be ill. He speaks of such in verses 3, 5, 8, and 10. Whether that is so, he comprehends his need for mercy (v. 10), and in this case, he wants that mercy “that I may repay them,” i.e., the enemies he had been earlier discussing. Part of the evidence that Jehovah is “well pleased” with him was the defeat of the devises and plans of his foes (v. 11). How David knew that such a victory meant that the Lord was pleased with him, we do not know. Once again, we witness the belief that David had that God was active in his life and all that happened could be attributed to His moving and working on David’s behalf, or against him. The Lord would “uphold me in my integrity and set me before Your face forever” (v. 12). This is a cause for rejoicing and praising the Lord (v. 13).

Such ends Book One of the Psalms. We do not know, for sure, how or why the book has five divisions. Some have supposed that the songs were collected at different times by different persons. Regardless, the Hebrews recognized these divisions in the book and they have come down to us as well.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Psalm 40

Waiting patiently for the Lord (vs. 1-3)--Good things usually happen when we do, and David mentions four of them in the first three verses: He hears (v. 1), He brings us out of a "horrible pit" and sets us upon a firm foundation (v. 2), and He puts a new song in our mouths, i.e., a new reason for living (v. 3). As a result, "many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord" (v. 3). Waiting patiently is not something most of us are good at; but we simply must have the faith to let God work out things in our lives according to His will.

The wonderful works of God (vs. 4-5)--For the man "who makes the Lord his trust" (v. 4), there are many wonderful works of God that open up to his vista. Verse 5 is lovely: "Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; and Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." Our blessings are countless and innumerable; indeed, we don't even begin to know all of the things the Lord does for us. His works are truly wonderful. But only open eyes can see them.

The work of the Messiah (vs. 6-10)--These verses certainly refer to the Messiah; at least verses 6-8, because the writer of the book of Hebrews tells us so (Hebrews 10:5-9). Verse 6 is a frequent theme in both the Old Testament and New. While God does expect and demand worship, without a pure heart such worship is vain. The prophets speak almost endlessly of this (see Isaiah 1:10ff; Jer. 7:1-4; Amos 5:21-24). Verse 7 cannot refer to David: "Then I said, 'Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.'" And, again, the New Testament tells us these verses apply to Jesus. He certainly taught the word of God at every opportunity (vs. 9-10).

A final prayer (vs. 11-17)--We seem to return strictly to David in this section; verse 12, "My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head," can hardly apply to Jesus. David prays for the Lord's "tender mercies," and "lovingkindness" (v. 11); those are what he believes will save him from the "innumerable evils" that had surrounded him, and his own sins (v. 12). Whereas earlier in the psalm, David counsels patient waiting on Jehovah, in verse 13, he pleads, "O Lord, make haste to help me!" Verses 14-16 give us another grand example of "palilogical parallelism": "Let them be ashamed...let them be driven backward...let them be confounded...let all those who seek you...let such as love your salvation..." Again, this is for ease of memorization. David wants his enemies baffled and defeated, and all those who seek the Lord to rejoice, be glad, and praise Him. The Lord is our help and deliverer, yet David ends the psalm by again requesting, "do no delay, O my God." Well, David, follow your own advice of verse one and "wait patiently." But the human element, always so plain in the Psalms, is in evidence here. While we (and David) know that we should wait for the Lord's deliverance, which will come in His time, not ours, we still hope and pray that He will act soon. Thoughts such as this are what make the Psalms so valuable. They teach us grand lessons about the nature and actions of Jehovah, but they speak in such human language as well.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Psalm 39

Meditation (vs. 1-3a)--I think the key to this section is found in the first part of verse 3 "While I was musing..."  David wasn't speaking, he was thinking.  "I will restrain my mouth...I was mute with silence, I held my peace" (vs. 1-2).  He was grieving for some reason (v. 2), and grief that burned in his heart (v. 3).  He appeared to be meditating on life itself.

The results of his meditation (vs. 3b-6)--David finally speaks up, talking to the Lord, and indeed, he is considering the futility of life.  He speaks of the frailty (v. 4), the brevity (v. 5), and the vanity of this earthly existence.  "Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor" (v. 5).  It's a good lesson for all of us to learn.  It doesn't matter if a man "heaps up riches" (v. 6); somebody else will enjoy them--he "does not know who will gather them." 

The heavy hand of the Lord (vs. 7-13)--And even though our only hope is in the Lord (v. 7), it does seem, at times, that even He is against us.  At times like that, we are most aware of our sins (v. 8). "Remove Your plague from me; I am consumed by the blow of Your hand" (v. 10).  Jehovah rebukes us and man's "beauty melt[s] away like a moth."  Again, "surely every man is vapor" (v. 11).  David asks the Lord to deliver him from his transgressions, and to not make him a reproach (v. 8).  Even when David had nothing to say, "it was You who did it" (v. 9).  Once more we see how involved in his life David believes the Lord to be.  All that happens to him he attributes to God.  The king had a very strong sense of God's abiding presence.  Sometimes David felt that God was close, but in this psalm, "I am a stranger with You, a sojourner, as all my fathers were" (v. 12).  So he pleads for God to hear his prayer and see his tears, though he wants Him to "remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength, before I go away and am no more" (v. 13).  Whatever the current circumstances were, they caused David to examine life in general, realize its brevity and vanity, and that God can make our lives difficult, but only He can deliver us (v. 8).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Psalm 38

The burden of sin (vs. 1-22)—This whole psalm appears to be a mourning over sin. David believes that the Lord is very angry with him (vs. 1-2). That’s an interesting thought. How does David know God is angry with him? Did the Lord tell him by revelation? Probably not. David simply believed that “because of my sin” (v. 3), and his current circumstances, the Lord was punishing him. David speaks several times of physical infirmities--“there is no soundness in my flesh” (v. 3), “my wounds are foul and festering” (v. 5), “my loins are full of inflammation, and there is no soundness in my flesh” (v. 7). This could be poetic and not literal, but the repeated mentioning of physical maladies leads me to believe that David is truly plagued at the moment with some illness. And he attributes that to the Lord chastising him because of sin. His sin had overpowered him: “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (v. 4). Indeed, all who try to live godly know that feeling, but, of course, such is no excuse for sin. He pleads his case before Jehovah (v. 9); there is no one else to help. His own heart and strength fail him (v. 10), his loved ones, friends, and relatives “stand aloof” and “afar off” (v. 11). And his enemies plot his destruction (v. 12). But there was nothing David could do about it. He was as helpless as a deaf and dumb man (vs. 13-14). However, he believes the Lord will hear him (v. 15) and deliver him (v. 16). David has just about reached his limit, or believes he has (v. 17). His attitude towards his sin is the correct one: “For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin” (v. 18). Oh, that more people would have such a spirit! But he opposed by strong foes, and numerous ones (v. 19). They are against him “because I follow what is good” (v. 20), though apparently he hadn’t done so in the present circumstance. He makes one last plea to Jehovah: “Do not forsake me, O LORD; O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!” (vs. 21-22). It’s enlightening that there is no resolution here. Unlike many earlier psalms where David makes his petition and then glorifies the Lord because of a positive answer, this song is left indefinite. As of the final writing, God had not answered David. And indeed, that is frequently how we feel. Contrary to our desires, the Lord delays His answer and our soul is in anguish. We must wait on Him and accept the consequences of our actions.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Psalm 37

"The meek shall inherit the earth” (vs. 1-40)—This isn’t an easy psalm to outline; there doesn’t seem to be any organization that I can see. There are a couple of themes that run constantly throughout it, however. “The meek (or some such) shall inherit the earth” is one of them (vs. 9, 11, 22. 29, 34). The other theme is a constant contrast between the righteous and the wicked. There are some special poetic devices used in a place or two which shall be duly noted.

David starts the psalm by encouraging us not to worry about “evildoers” (v. 1). “They shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb.”  Rather—and here we have the palilogical poetical device— “trust…dwell…delight…commit…trust…rest…do not fret…cease…” (vs. 3-8). All of these things have attendant blessings attached. Once again, “evildoers shall be cut off” (v. 9), but “those who wait on the LORD, they shall inherit the earth” (v. 9). This “inherit the earth” concept needs a little exploring.

In Matthew 5:5, Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” The last part is borrowed from the 37th Psalm (and a couple other locations) and is a proverbial, poetic statement for reception of the highest blessings. The “land” promise was very important to the Jews, of course, so any reference to it would be a comfort to them. But, keep in mind, we are dealing with poetry here. The Jehovah’s Witnesses like to apply Matthew 5:5 as literal—the “meek” will live forever here on earth, taking the poetic statement and trying to turn it into reality. There are several problems with that. First of all, who are they going to inherit the earth from? Somebody has to die before there can be an inheritance. Who dies so that the “meek” can inherit the earth from them? Plus, Psalm 25:13 says of the man who fears the Lord, “his descendants shall inherit the earth.” Who gets the earth, the meek (righteous, he who fears the Lord), or their descendants? The error here by the JW’s is grievous. NEVER take poetic language and build a doctrine on it. It’s poetry, it’s emotive, it’s flowery, it’s not prose and not intended to be taken with exact literalness. Many, many people, and not just the JW’s, are guilty of that interpretive faux pas.

Back to Psalm 37. The futility of the wicked is noted in verses 12-15. He “plots against the just,” but “the Lord laughs at him” (vs. 12-13). I don’t think I want Jehovah laughing at me, at least not in this sort of context. The efforts of the wicked will eventually turn back upon them (vs. 14-15). It is much better to have only a little, and be righteous, than to be rich and evil (v. 16), for “the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous” (v. 17). The Lord knows His people “and their inheritance shall be forever” (v. 18). That’s the true “inheritance” we are looking for—the eternal one. The righteous will be taken care of in times of peril, but not the wicked (vs. 19-20); “into smoke they shall vanish away” (v. 20). The Lord leads the “good man” (v. 23) and “delights in his way.” The righteous may stumble from time to time, but the Lord will “uphold him” (v. 24), and always take care of him: “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (v. 25). The righteous are merciful, and do good (vs. 26-27), and because of that righteousness (“justice”), the Lord never forsakes “His saints; they are preserved forever” (v. 28). Not so the wicked (v. 28). His descendants “shall be cut off.” The idea of “descendants” is an important one as well. A man who had none was considered incomplete or cursed by God. A huge family was a necessity in an agricultural, and warrior, society. Thus, “children are a heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3), and a barren woman was shamed, as was a man whose descendants were “cut off.” There were few blights worse than that. Then we have some characteristics of the righteous. He speaks wisdom, and keeps the “law of his God in his heart,” thus “none of his steps shall slide” (vs. 30-31). Indeed, keeping God’s word in our hearts is the only way to avoid sin (Psalm 119:11). The wicked are ever pursuing the righteous (v. 32), but the Lord knows that (v. 33) and will protect His saints. Thus, “wait on the Lord and keep His way” (v. 34). The wicked may appear strong for a season (v. 35), “yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more; indeed, I sought him, but he could not be found” (v. 36). Total obliteration for the evil ones. Keep your eyes on the blameless man; “the end of that man is peace” (v. 37). Or as the NKJV says, “the future of that man is peace.” In contrast, “the future of the wicked shall be cut off” (v. 38). Our salvation is “from the Lord,” and He is our “strength in the time of trouble” (v. 39). He will help the righteous, deliver them from the wicked, and save them (v. 40). Why? “Because they trust in Him.” This is one of my favorite psalm. It is very comforting and speaks forthrightly of God’s care for His people and hatred of wickedness.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Psalm 36

The wicked (vs. 1-4)—These first four verses certainly provide us with a good overall perspective of a wicked person: no fear of God, self-importance, no humility, an evil and deceitful mouth, lack of wisdom, he plots iniquity at night in his bed, and does not hate sin. Not every wicked person will manifest all of these qualities, but you can be sure that he will possess too many of them.

Contrast: the goodness of God (vs. 5-9)—We see some palilogical parallelism in verses 3 and 4 (“he…he…he…he…”), and some more in verses 5 and 6 (“Your…Your…Your…Your…”), a very nice poetic touch. David writes of God’s mercy, faithfulness, righteousness, and judgments, and the figures he uses indicates that all of them are boundless and eternal. Because God’s “lovingkindness” is so “precious,” “the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (v. 7). Men are satisfied—“abundantly—with “the fullness of Your house” (v. 8). David is probably not speaking here of God’s religious house. Just as our houses are full of food and provisions, God provides His blessings from His “house” as well. And part of that satisfaction is because in the Lord we have life and light (v. 9). How much more beautiful is the life God provides than that of the wicked!

A prayer for continued blessings (vs. 10-12)—Because that life is so wonderful, David asks for continued lovingkindness and righteousness (v. 10). The king wishes to be protected from pride and the wicked, the places where “the workers of iniquity have fallen…and are not able to rise” (v. 12). Acknowledging our need for God is one of the great evidences of an attempt to serve Him, and the exact opposite of the wicked who, as verse 1 says, has “no fear of God before his eyes.”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Psalm 35

Plead my cause, O Lord (vs. 1-10)—Some unknown enemy is again plaguing David and, in military terms, he asks for the Lord’s assistance: “Fight against those who fight against me” (v. 1). Take shield, buckler, and spear to stop those who pursued David (v. 2-3). Be my salvation (v. 3). I mentioned, a few psalms ago, a poetic devise common in Hebrew literature called “palilogical parallelism,” where a certain word or phrase is repeated in order to aid memorization. We see this again in verses 4-8: “Let those be put to shame…let those be turned back…let them be like chaff…let the angel of the Lord…let their way be dark…let the angel of the Lord…let destruction come…let his net…” All of these are curses upon David’s enemies, and again, this structure of the poem facilitate easy remembrance. And the end result is joy and rejoicing and praise to Jehovah (vs. 9-10).

He complains of their ungodly behavior (vs. 11-16)—They were false witnesses who rose against him, and David’s biggest complaint is found in verse 12: “They reward me evil for good.” When they were ill, David mourned for them, humbled himself, fasted, prayed for them (v. 13), and was is great distress (v. 14). “But in my adversity, they rejoiced” (v. 15), and “they gnashed at me with their teeth” (v. 16). These verses tend to make us believe that David is being stabbed in the back by friends or family; some have suggested that Absalom might be meant. We don’t know, but it does appear that someone close to him has betrayed him. That’s not an uncommon thing within a king’s court.

How long, Lord? (vs. 17-28)—And, like all of us, David desires a speedy resolution to his problem. “Lord, how long will You look on?” (v. 17). If Jehovah would rescue him, “I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people” (v. 18). But such liberation has obviously not taken place yet (v. 19). He describes more of their wickedness in verses 20-21, mainly sins of the tongue. Certainly the Lord has seen it (v. 22), and David requests equal justice of God: “Do not keep silence.” Poetically, in verses 22 through 24, he moves from a synonymous parallelism (“do not keep silence…stir up yourself…vindicate me…”) to palilogical parallelism in verses 25-27: “Let them not say…let them not say…let them be ashamed…let them be clothes…let them shout…let them say continually….let the Lord…” Those last three “lets” are for praise of God, so perhaps David has found some relief for his circumstance. The psalm ends with a final word of praise: “And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness and of Your praise all the day long” (v. 28). It’s not impossible that there were no specific historical circumstances behind this psalm; it could be just a song written by David to describe certain conditions he has faced in his life and ends with an exaltation of God.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Psalm 34

Magnifying the Lord (vs. 1-22)—This psalm is an acrostic, which means each verse starts with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in sequence. There is a place or two where the sequence is not perfect, but for the most part it is consecutive. There are a few psalms like this. Such is done for ease of memorization; since most people had very little education in the ancient world, and thus couldn’t read, poetry was frequently used to help remember the material presented. A full one-third of the Old Testament is written in poetic form. The acrostical nature of this psalm makes it a little difficult to outline; David jumps from subject to subject, so I’ll just give a running summary of what he says.

The title of the psalm, “A psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed” is problematic. As I’ve pointed out before, these “titles” were added by later editors, so we aren’t sure they are accurate. But they could be.

David starts the psalm with a praise and magnification of Jehovah (vs. 1-3). Verse 4 states the immediate reason: “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Others also “looked to Him…and were not ashamed” (v. 5), and this included “the poor man” (v. 6). Fearing (reverencing) the Lord is mentioned in verses 7 and 9; He will protect us if we do (v. 7), and provide for us (v. 9). Even the “young lions” don’t have that assurance (v. 10). The Lord is “good,” and we are blessed if we trust in Him (v. 8). David then provides some lessons for “you children.” This probably not literally “children,” but those of a contrite, teachable spirit. If a man wants to live a long life (v. 12), he should use his tongue righteousness—not speak evil or deceitfully (v. 13), “depart from evil and do good,” and “seek peace and pursue it” (v. 14). These things won’t guarantee a long life, of course, but they are certainly good principles that will largely prevent us from being in situations that are dangerous. Remember the poetic nature of the language; the principles, though true, are general and not specific. The Lord watches over His people (v. 15), hears them and delivers them (v. 17), and “is near those who have a broken heart”—broken by sin (v. 18). The contrite, humble spirit is something else He looks at (v. 18), but he is opposed to those who do evil (v. 16). “Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (v. 19); He allows us to be tried and tested, but He will deliver us—righteousness is the key here. Verse 20 has a Messianic fulfillment—“He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken. Its immediate application is a general supplement to verse 19, but again, has a long range fulfillment in what happened to Jesus. John makes the reference in John 19:36: “For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, "Not one of His bones shall be broken.” Evil is the downfall of the wicked, and condemnation follows “those who hate the righteous.” But contrary, “The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned” (v. 22). It’s a lovely psalm with some very comforting, encouraging thoughts.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Psalm 33

Praise is beautiful (vs. 1-3)—The idea of praise runs through these first three verses. We have some synonymous parallelism here—the same idea being repeated over and over. Note: rejoice, praise (v. 1), praise, make melody (v. 2), sing, play skillfully (v. 3). They all express a concurrent theme. Instruments are mentioned (harp, instrument of ten strings), which some point to for authorization for the use of mechanical instruments in Christian worship today. But David lived under the old law, not the new. We don’t burn animal sacrifices today, as they did under the Law of Moses. It is even questionable whether David was right in introducing instruments into the worship of the old law. Study Amos 6:5 for more information (I have a lengthy discussion of this on my Minor Prophets blog).

Why this praise? The power of the word of God (vs. 4-12)—Verse 4 starts with the word “for” which indicates purpose. Why should give the Lord such magnificent praise? “For the word of the LORD is right, and all His work is done in truth. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD” (vs. 4-5). Several good reasons listed there, all based upon the authority and correctness of Jehovah’s word. He made all things by His word (not evolution, v. 6), and He sustains all the same way (v. 7; cf. Heb. 1:3). Fear Him and respect Him (v. 8), again based on the awesome power of His word: “For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (v. 9). It is an amazing thought to realize that, simply by speaking, God can create an entire universe. Actually, He could do it with a simple thought, but He chose to do it by speaking it into existence. Man’s word comes to nothing (v. 10)—it is very unwise to put our faith in humans, who might tell us one thing, but let us down the next moment—but the Lord’s counsel (word) stands forever (v. 11). Thus, “blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD” (v. 12). How tragic it is that such can no longer be said of the United States of America.

The sovereignty of God (vs. 13-19)—Jehovah’s dwelling place is in heaven, and He sees all of us from that august location (v. 13). Each of us are made differently, and the Lord “considers” all our works (v. 15). The word “considers” has the primary root of “discern,” or “understand.” He knows what we are thinking. Rebellion against God is fruitless; even the mightiest army is a vain thing before Him (vs. 16-17). The Lord looks for those “who fear Him,” and “who hope in His mercy” (v. 18), and He will “deliver their soul from death,” and “keep them alive in famine” (v. 19). The sovereign God knows His people and protects them.

Wait, rejoice, trust, hope (vs. 20-22)—Four great qualities of the godly are enumerated in these last verses. We wait on the Lord, who is “our help and our shield” (v. 20). Since we trust Him—He never fails us—our hearts “rejoice in Him” (v. 21), and He will be merciful to us, just as we have hoped that He will (v. 22). The centerpiece of this psalm is verses 6-9—the power and trustworthiness of the word of God. We can trust, hope, and rejoice in Him—and we should—because His word is secure.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Psalm 32

Forgiveness (vs. 1-2)—The first two verses of this psalm provide a lovely panorama of God’s forgiveness: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” The man whose sins are forgiven is indeed “blessed,” and more so than anyone else. There is no greater blessing from God than forgiveness; it is our only hope of eternal salvation. It’s interesting that David closes this section with a statement about purity of heart. Although he doesn’t indicate here that such a heart is a condition of forgiveness, we learn elsewhere that it most surely is (Matt. 5:8).

Confession (vs. 3-5)—In order for our sins to be forgiven, we must have the humility to confess them. In verses 3 and 4, David describes in eloquent language the agony and distress he felt in sin, until “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v. 5). As we would expect, this is in accord with New Testament teaching as well: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). Confession indicates a contriteness of spirit that acknowledges that we have offended God by our iniquities and that only He can cure us. Dependence upon God is a prerequisite to being accepted by Him. He holds the key to eternal life in His hand, and if we want that ultimate of all blessings, we’ll have to ask Him—on His terms—and realize we are utterly unworthy of salvation.

Forgiveness a motivation for prayer (vs. 6-7)—Prayer also acknowledges our need for and dependence upon God, and because He pardons, “everyone who is godly shall pray to you,” and even in the most distressing times, we will be protected (v. 6). Verse 7, in Hebrew poetry, is called “palilogical parallelism”. I’m sure you were dying to know that. But this form of poetry is one in which one or more words at the beginning of the first line are repeated as an echo, or canon of music, in succeeding lines. In this case, “You” is found repeated in an acknowledgement of the protection Jehovah provides His people.

God speaks and a final word from David (vs. 8-11)—At the end of this psalm, we hear from the Lord. He will teach and lead us (v. 8) IF we aren’t stubborn like a mule (v. 9). The wicked will have many sorrows, but mercy “shall surround” the one who trusts the Lord. Because of this, God’s people—“you righteous” (v. 10) and “all you upright in heart” (v. 11)—should be glad, rejoice, and shout for joy. What greater promises could we have than God’s promise of His forgiveness and His direction in life? But we must confess our sins with a pure heart and trust Him, two things many human beings simply refuse to do. And thus they miss out on the most precious blessings of life.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Psalm 31

A prayer of trust (vs. 1-8)—We see the same themes repeated frequently in these psalms, but then, most of our spiritual songs revolve around the same themes—trust, adoration, and praise of God. David expresses his thoughts beautifully. He speaks in verse one of his trust in Jehovah, and his desire for deliverance “in Your righteousness.” He makes several noteworthy requests in this section: for God to hear Him and be his refuge (v. 2); guidance and direction “for Your name’s sake” (v. 3); escape from his enemies through the Lord’s strength (v. 4). His expression of total commitment, “Into thy hand I commend my spirit” was borrowed by Jesus on the cross. In verses 6-8, David tells of his hatred of idolatry and idol worshippers, his trust in the Lord (v. 6), his rejoicing at God’s mercy (v. 7) and His protection from enemies (v. 8). So, again, themes we have seen before, but themes that we, like David, need every day of our lives.

A prayer for mercy and deliverance (vs. 9-13)—The tone of the song changes here, and David pleads for mercy “for I am in trouble” (v. 9). What “trouble” he was in is not stated, but there was grief, sighing, and failing strength “because of my iniquity” (v. 10). We should all grieve over our sins and ask for mercy. His enemies were a problem, but so were his neighbors, and all his “acquaintances” (v. 11). Keep in mind this is Hebrew poetry—parallelism—so some of these statements must be understood in that vein. He is being slandered, and his life is being plotted against (v. 13). Again, how actual this was is problematic; but it expresses feelings and needs that all of us have at times.

Trusting God to save Him (vs. 14-18)—Through all his distresses, David knows that only the Lord can pull him through (v. 14). He places his “times” in the Lord’s hand and requests deliverance “from those who persecute me” (v. 15). Salvation was “for Your mercies’ sake,” not David’s. In other words, David wanted God’s mercy to be demonstrated and exalted more than the saving of his own skin. What a wonderful attitude. David asks for God’s punishment upon his oppressors: “Let the wicked be ashamed; let them be silent in the grave. Let the lying lips be put to silence” (vs. 17-18). Again, to David, only the Lord could do this.

The Lord’s goodness (vs. 19-22)—Verse 19 is one of my favorite in all the Psalms: “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!” “Great” is God’s “goodness” to those who fear Him and trust Him. David knew that part of that goodness was the Lord’s protection (v. 20), plus his “marvelous kindness” (v. 21). Indeed, God’s goodness towards us is “marvelous.” When David thought that perhaps the Lord had turned from him (and this thought was “in my haste”; he didn’t wait on the Lord as he should have, v. 22), “nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried out to You.” We must not be hasty in our judgments of God’s actions, and realize that He does hear our pleas.

Words of encouragement (vs. 23-24)—If David’s own example is not sufficient, then we have his final words of exhortation. Love the Lord, for He preserves His people and “fully repays the proud person” (v. 23). Have courage—there will be many times in this life when we will need it—and remember that “He shall strengthen your heart,” if we will hope in Him (v. 24). He may not always respond according to our schedule, but He does hear and He will bless us as He sees our need. Trust in the Lord.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Psalm 30

Extolling the Lord (vs. 1-3)—The heading of this psalms says it is a song at the dedication of the house of David. It isn’t exactly known where this information came from; it isn’t in the text of the psalm itself. David extols the Lord for having lifted him up (against his enemies, v. 1), healing him (spiritually?, v. 2), and saving him from death (v. 3). Whether that was literal or not, we don’t know; this is poetry, remember. But it also doesn’t sound like a dedication of a house, either. Keep in mind that the headings at the beginning of each psalm were added later and are not part of the song itself.

Thanksgiving for God’s mercy (vs. 4-7a)—God’s people should sing praises and give thanks to Him, of course (v. 4), and for numerous reasons. David mentions the brevity of His anger, and the enduring favor He bestows upon us (v. 5). There will be sorrows in this life, but they, too, will soon pass—“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (v. 5). Prosperity and steadfastness are also gifts of Jehovah (vs. 6-7). Thus, our thanksgiving should be at every “remembrance of His holy name” (v. 4).

A prayer for deliverance (vs. 7b-12)—The last statement in verse 7, “You hid Your face, and I was troubled,” obviously belongs with the rest of the psalm. How David knew that the Lord had “hid [His] face” is unknown; the king obviously attributes some trouble in life to God turning away from him. Perhaps a sin that David knew he had committed, or a test from Jehovah. In this case, verse 9 seems to indicate pressure from some enemy. Regardless, David made his supplication to God, and argued, in verse 9, that he couldn’t very well praise God if he were dead: “What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth?” So, he pleads for mercy—always acknowledging that it is only by God’s mercy that he is delivered. I again marvel at the humility of an absolute monarch. The tone changes in verses 11 and 12 where David has obviously obtained the relief he seeks. His “mourning” had been turned into “dancing,” and his “sackcloth” (a sign of grief) was now “gladness” (v. 11). And the end result of that was that “my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent,” and that he might “give thanks to You forever” (v. 12). Hopefully, we won’t wait for something good to happen to us before we offer God the praise of thanksgiving that we owe Him.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Psalm 29

“Give unto the Lord” (vs. 1-2)—These first two verses are aimed at “you mighty ones.” The Hebrew is “sons of the strong ones,” or even “sons of rams.” One ancient manuscript translates it “ye hosts of angels, sons of God.” So David could be talking to angels, but more than likely “mighty ones” of the earth. Power tends to make one proud and David is trying to humble those who might have a tendency towards that vice. In effect, “there is One greater than you; acknowledge it.” Ascribe to Him the glory and excellence that He is due, and worship Him “in the beauty of holiness” (v. 2). Indeed, to the Lord, holiness is beautiful. All of us should make it our aim to be as holy as possible when we approach the throne of the Holy God of heaven and earth.

The power of “the voice of the Lord” (vs. 3-9)—Over the next several verses, David describes the power that is in God’s word. It is “over the waters” and His “glory thunders” (v. 3), an apt description of the authority, force, and might of God’s word. That “voice” (word) is powerful, full of majesty (v. 4), can break cedars (vs. 5-6); He can make them “skip like a calf”, i.e., they are nothing in power compared to Him. His voice can divide a fire (v. 7, try to do that), shake a wilderness (v, 8), cause a deer to give birth and strip a forest (v. 9), and, as a result, everyone should glorify Him (v. 9). We know from other Scriptures just how powerful the Word of God is, including His having made the universe with it (Psalm 33:6, 9), and provided us salvation through it (Romans 1:16). Jesus is the “Word” of God (John 1:1), i.e., the mind of God expressed in human form. What a marvelous thought that is. In Jesus, we see God’s mind. David rightly lauds the word of the Lord.

The Lord exalted (vs. 10-11)—Even the great flood, the most calamitous event this earth has even known, obeyed Him. He is King forever (v. 10), and He can—“will”—give strength and peace to His people (v. 11). If His word and abilities are so great as to do all that David has listed in the earlier portions of this song, then He can certainly provide us with the blessings we need to sustain us in this life. Oh, for a greater faith and trust in Him!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Psalm 28

A prayer against the wicked (vs. 1-5)—Some enemy is troubling David again, so in verses 1 and 2, he requests the ear of the Lord. “To you will I cry…Hear the voice of my supplication.” There are times, for all of us, when we feel like God doesn’t hear our prayers, but He always does. He may not, and often won’t, answer them immediately, but He does hear. David knew that if the Lord did not come to his aid, he would “become like those who go down to the pit” (v. 1). The wicked “speak peace to their neighbors, but evil is in their heart” (v. 3). David knew that the Lord would eventually “take [them] away” (v. 3); he just didn’t want God to take him with them! David wants Jehovah to go after the wicked: “Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavors; give them according to the work of their hands; render to them what they deserve” (v. 4). They paid no attention to the Lord or His works, “nor the operation of His hands” (v. 5). Thus, “He shall destroy them” (v. 5). How many warnings—directly and implied—are there in Scripture to the wicked that they should turn from their evil ways before it is too late!

The Lord hears (vs. 6-9)—David received a positive answer to his prayer: “Blessed be the LORD, because He has heard the voice of my supplications!” (v. 6). David attributes this answer to prayer to his trust in Jehovah; thus the king would rejoice and praise the Lord in song (v. 7). The Lord is the “strength” and “saving refuge of His anointed” (v. 8). And as a final plea, David asks, in behalf of His people, that the Lord “save…bless…shepherd…and bear them up forever” (v. 9). Salvation, blessings, guidance and protection, and strength in trials—a good brief catalogue of the needs and desires of every saint of God.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Psalm 27

Whom shall I fear? (vs. 1-3)—To David, the Lord is his light, salvation, and strength. And because of that, he has nothing to fear (v. 1). As David’s light, the Lord provides guidance and direction in his life. As his salvation, the Lord is his deliverer, and as his strength, David is able to make it through hard times. Even if “an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear” (v. 3)—the Lord is on the king’s side, and that’s all he needed.

The beauty of worship (vs. 4-6)—Since he realized that it was the Lord Who guided and protected him, David’s heart was full of desire to worship Him: “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple” (v. 4). “In the time of trouble,” the Lord would hide David, “in His pavilion, in the secret place of His tabernacle” (v. 5), again emphasizing the Lord as his protector—His pavilion, His tabernacle. The next thought, “He shall set me high upon a rock,” seems contradictory, but remember this is poetry. The “rock” suggests immobility, and “high upon” it means no one can reach him. All of this the king attributes to Jehovah. As a result, “I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle” (v. 6). The reasons for worshipping God are many, of course, not least of which is what He has done for us.

The Lord our help (vs. 7-14)—Understanding all of the above is an incentive for prayer, which occupies most of the rest of the psalm. David asks for the Lord’s ear, and His mercy (v. 7). Jehovah makes requests of us—“seek My face”—a request David was happy to fulfill with his “heart” (v. 8), not just his lips. Our seeking after Jehovah must be with the whole heart, or we will not find Him (Jer. 29:13). Even though David knows it is the Lord Who is his helper, He still asks Him to be so; the Lord knows what we need before we ask Him (Matt. 6:32), and we know much of what He can do for us (light, strength, salvation, helper, etc.). But still, He is God, we are His servants, and it is in all ways right and proper that we should humble ourselves and acknowledge our need and dependence upon Him. And especially when faced with “enemies,” as David mentions earlier in this psalm. Verse 10 is lovely: “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take care of me.” Even if our nearest and dearest turn away from us, the Lord never will. And indeed, even if we turn our back on Him, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). No matter how far we have drifted from Him, or for how long, He will always accept us back. Rather than depending upon human wisdom, David asks “teach me Your way, O Lord,” (v. 11), especially when “enemies,” “adversaries,” and “false witnesses have risen against me” (vs. 11-12). “Unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD,” David would have lost heart. Hope is the anchor of the soul, and when all seems lost, we can remember that the Lord is always there. So David’s final exhortation is to “wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart” (v. 14). Patience builds character, and the more of that we have, the better able we will be to meet future trials and burdens. The Lord will work, for our good, in His own time. Thus, “wait, I say, on the LORD!” David’s deliverance is a perfect example of what will happen if we do so.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Psalm 26

A plea for justice (vs. 1-5)—In this song, David again trusts the Lord to vindicate him based on the king’s righteousness: “I have walked in my integrity, I have also trusted in the Lord” (v. 1). Such is the only way we can be vindicated. David asks the Lord to test him, “prove me, try my mind and my heart” (v. 2). He’s not challenging God, he’s asking for the Lord to purify him; it is through such tests and trials that much of our spiritual growth is actuated. David keeps the Lord’s “lovingkindness” ever before him, and walks in God’s truth (v. 3). Avoiding the wicked and hating evil is part of that (vs. 4-5).

“I have loved the habitation of thy house” (vs. 6-8)—Before we can truly approach “the altar,” we should wash our hands “in innocence” (v. 6). “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 15:8), because Jehovah knows that such worship is done in hypocrisy. But David wanted to “proclaim…all Your wondrous works,” and do so “with the voice of thanksgiving” (v. 7). When we truly think of the wondrous works of God in our lives, then it is impossible not to be thankful, and not to love “the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth” (v. 8). What comfort and solace there is in house of God!

Protect me from sinners (vs. 9-10)—Yet the world and its attractions are powerful; Satan will never leave us alone when we try to serve God (I Peter 5:8). Even the king himself succumbed many times to the temptations of the flesh (see II Samuel 11 and 24 for examples). So, even when we feel confident in our relationship with Him, we should always remember to pray for protection from sinners, “bloodthirsty men in whose hands is a sinister scheme, and whose right hand is full of bribes” (vs. 9-10). God will not tempt us with evil (James 1:13), but He can, through His providence and our adherence to His word, help us overcome and resist sin.

“I will walk in my integrity” (vs. 11-12)—David pretty well comes full circle as he closes this psalm. He started out talking of his integrity, and ends with the same thought (v. 11). But even then, he realizes his need for redemption and mercy (v. 11). It doesn’t matter how righteous we are attempting to live, sinless perfection is simply beyond us. Thus, while there are times when we can, and should, feel good about our relationship with God—indeed, hopefully, we always feel that way, though there are certainly ups and downs for all of us—we must never forget that our works do not save us (Eph. 2:9) and we need the “riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). Yet if we will stand “in an even place”—on level ground, spiritually—then “in the congregations will I bless the Lord” (v. 12).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Psalm 25

A prayer for deliverance, guidance, and forgiveness (vs. 1-7)—This is a lovely song, encompassing much of David’s desires unto Jehovah. It begins with a statement of trust (v. 1), and then there are several requests, the first four of which are “let” such and such happen—let not God’s people be ashamed, but let some limitations be placed upon those who deal wickedly (vs. 2-3). David asks for guidance in verses 4 and 5: “Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me,” and he acknowledges that only God can do such. Then, “Remember…Your tender mercies and lovingkindnesses,” but don’t remember my sins and transgressions (v. 7). And David acknowledges that all of this is based on the mercy and goodness of the Lord (v. 7).

The goodness of God (vs. 8-11). After making these requests, David recognizes some of the wonderful qualities of God. He is good and upright (v. 8), and He will teach sinners and the humble to follow His ways. For “all the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth,” but only for those who “keep His covenant and His testimonies” (v. 10). God’s blessings are always conditioned upon our obedience to Him. David’s own humility is in evidence in verse 11: “Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.” Any humble person, regardless of how righteous they might be, will believe his/her sin to be great. Indeed, the closer one draws to God, the further the distance between seems to be. A better understanding of the holiness of God will produce greater humility and appreciation for just how merciful He had been to us. Note that David wants his sins forgiven, “for Your name’s sake, O Lord.” Shine the spotlight on the mercy and grace of God, where it truly belongs, and not of sinful, unworthy humans who have no right to boast in any of their actions.

The man who fears the Lord (vs. 12-15)—Those who reverence Jehovah will be taught “in the way He chooses” (v. 12), “shall dwell in prosperity” (v. 13), and “his descendants shall inherit the earth” (v. 13). First, he will have descendants—something very important to ancient man—and they shall be blessed with sustenance from the earth. Furthermore, the fearful will have a better understanding of God (v. 14), and “He will show them His covenant.” If we keep our eyes on Him, He will deliver us from trouble (v. 15).

A final prayer (vs. 16-22)—There is a slight change of tone in the final few verses of the psalm. David seems to be in greater distress than at the opening of the song. “I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged” (vs. 16-17). He asks for mercy (v. 16) and deliverance (v. 17). Perhaps some trouble had come upon David before he finished composing this song, but more than likely, it simply refers to the condition that mankind often faces—trials and tribulations—and directs us to the One who can save us from them. This theme is followed through the remaining verses—affliction and pain (v. 18), enemies and hatred (v. 19), and shame (v. 20). With the “let me not be ashamed” of verse 20, David returns to a thought he mentioned earlier in the psalm (v. 2), but again, with seemingly a bit more urgency here at the end. He beseeches God for mercy (v. 16), deliverance (v. 17), forgiveness (v. 18), physical protection from his enemies (v. 19), spiritual protection for his soul (or life—v. 20), and redemption for all of Israel (v. 22). He doesn’t ask these favors unconditionally—“Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You” (v. 21). Once more, if we want God’s blessings, then we must be willing to give Him something in return.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Psalm 24

The earth is the Lord’s (vs. 1-2)—Not only its physical features, but those who dwell therein (v. 1). Everything ought to belong to Him, since He created all.

Who can approach Him? (vs. 3-6)—Thus, who has the right to approach this holy, awesome God? Since His “place” is “holy,” only a certain quality of character may “ascend” His hill (v. 3). This portion of the song is similar to Psalm 15, but not as comprehensive. Three characteristics are necessary: clean hands and a pure heart, those who don’t worship false gods, and the one who guards his tongue and speaks honestly (v. 4). This is the one who “shall receive blessing from the Lord,” and be pronounced righteous (v. 5). This is the true “Jacob,” or “Israel;” not physical Israel, but the one who seeks God (v. 6).

The King of glory (vs. 7-10)—In verse 7, David address the “gates” and “everlasting doors.” The allusion is a little obscure, but since those gates allow the “King of glory” to enter, it seems plausible that this refers to a triumphal entry into the city by a victorious monarch. David repeats this refrain, for emphasis, in verse 9. Verse 8 tends to support this “victory” idea by referring to the Lord being “strong and mighty” and “mighty in battle.” Who is the King? Only Jehovah, and the ASV’s use of that name is good, because only Israel had “Jehovah” for a god. Many peoples could call their god “lord.” He is Jehovah “of hosts”—of all, as verse 1 tells us.

This whole song emphasizes the majesty of Jehovah God. He is creator of all things, He is so holy that only a certain type of people may approach Him, and He is the victorious King of Glory. David not only knew this God personally, but he understood something about the respect that he (who was a king himself) owed to that God. We should love Him, but we should also revere Him.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Psalm 23

“The Lord is my Shepherd” (vs. 1-6)—This is probably the most well-known of all of the 150 psalms and there is no way a human commentator can do it justice. David, of course, was a shepherd in his youth and uses that knowledge to write this great song. The shepherd had total responsibility for the well-being of the sheep. A human shepherd is frail and subject to fiasco, but the Lord is the perfect shepherd and will unfailingly perform His duties: thus, “I shall not want” (v. 1). He leads us to the richest of sustenance—“green pastures”—and there is nothing to fear—“still waters,” not rushing streams where a sheep might be swept away. There is also spiritual protection: “He restoreth my soul”—mercy when we need it. “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness”—if we follow Him, as the sheep is supposed to do, we will be protected from the consequences of evil. And notice, He does it “for his name’s sake” (v. 3)—for His glory and honor, which is our purpose on this earth. Man can find his highest fulfillment and rationale for life in serving God. Pursuing our own selfish desires will only lead to disappointment, for we shall never find true satisfaction in the vanity of this world; there will always be something beyond that we will want. God simply did not constitute man so that material things will satisfy us. We are created in His image—our spiritual nature is the true reality, for it will last long after this flesh has returned to the earth. And thus, living “for His name’s sake” is where true contentment and purpose for our existence is found.

With the Lord as our Shepherd, there is no fear in death: “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” He will meet us when we cross over the Jordan into the heavenly Promised Land. We are comforted by His rod and staff (v. 4). If we get a little out of line, a touch of His staff brings us back into harmony with Him—we can be sure that He constantly watches over us to make sure we do not stray. He prepares us a spiritual feast (v. 5), such to make our enemies jealous. He pours rich blessings upon us, yea, so many that “my cup runneth over” (v. 5). All we need to do is trust Him: “’Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it’” (Malachi 3:10). Following our Shepherd will lead to “goodness and mercy” following us “all the days of [our] lives.” And in the end, eternal life: “And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (v. 6).

What more could we want? Gentle reader, “trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Following the True Shepherd will provide us a straight, contented path in this life, one that leads directly to eternal life with Him.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Psalm 22

Feeling forsaken by Jehovah (vs. 1-21a)—Whether this psalm is wholly Messianic or whether David’s sufferings and eventual euphoria are a type of Christ is not clear to all Bible students. That there are verses here that refer to Christ is undeniable. Here they are:

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me” (v. 1);
“He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him” (v. 8);
“They pierced My hands and My feet” (v. 16);
“They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots” (v. 18).

These four are clear allusions to the crucifixion of Jesus. The whole psalm is probably Messianic, though placed in the historical circumstances of David’s life, and I’ll write my comments below from David’s perspective, yet I encourage the reader to remember that “David” probably means “Jesus.”

Regardless, David feels forsaken by God (vs. 1-2), a feeling we all have at times in our lives. He does not deny—nor should we—the holiness of God (v. 3), and that trust has brought, and will bring, deliverance (vs. 4-5). It simply hadn’t happened to David yet. He feels virtually worthless—“I am a worm” (v. 6)—and all the people have turned against him as well; he is ridiculed and mocked (vs. 7-8). Yet, he knows that it is God Who “took me out of the womb” (v. 9); he has never turned from God (v. 10), and, at the moment, there is no one else to turn to (v. 11). He is surrounded by strong, vicious enemies (vs. 12-13), “poured out like water” (v. 14), without strength and near death (v. 15). In what can only be references to Jesus, “they pierced My hands and My feet” (v. 16), and “divide My garments among them” (v. 18). If we apply this in any way to David the king, it must only be poetic and figurative, for these things never literally happened to him. There is a final request (vs. 19-21a) for Jehovah to deliver him. And indeed…

“You have answered me” (vs. 21a-31)—The remainder of the song is a praise to the Lord for just that fact, and an encouragement to others to do the same. Because of His great deliverance, “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You” (v. 22). Others—“you who fear the Lord” should also “praise Him” (v. 23). Jehovah does not forever hide His face; when we cry to Him, He hears (v. 24). Our praise should be public (“in the great assembly”), and we should be faithful in our commitments to Him (v. 25). He takes care of even the lowliest of His people (v. 26). One of the evidences of faithfulness is indeed praise: “Those who seek Him will praise the LORD” (v. 26). “All the ends of the earth” will, at some point, “remember and turn to the Lord,” and “shall worship before You” (v. 27). He’s the King and “rules over the nations” (v. 28). The prosperous “shall eat and worship,” and those near death “shall bow before Him” (v. 29). One cannot help but reminded of Paul’s great eulogy in Philippians 2:9-11: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” It will happen some day, and both David in Psalm 22 and Paul in Philippians 2 are agreed upon it. David ends Psalm 22 by announcing that God’s greatness will live on and on, from generation to generation (vs. 30-31).

Again, it is best to look at this psalm, though written by David, as a summary of the work of Christ on Calvary and its resultant blessings. Jesus did come in the flesh, with all the emotions, feeling, frailties, doubts, and pains that such entailed. But His death is the ultimate cause for universal praise to God; without Him, nothing else written in the book of Psalms has any meaning at all. This great psalm reminds us of the entire theme of the Old Testament: Christ is coming for the redemption of mankind. That was promised by God all the way back in Genesis 3:15, and is kept before us, constantly, as we read through the Old Testament writings.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Psalm 21

“The king shall have joy in Your strength” (vs. 1-6)—In the first six verses of this song, David praises the Lord for the many blessings He has showered upon the king. Joy and rejoicing are found in the strength and salvation of Jehovah (v. 1). The Lord gave him the delights of his heart and answered his prayer (v. 2). David recognizes that goodness comes from the Lord, and there are no impurities in the blessings He gives—“ a crown of pure gold” (v. 3). Long life is also a gift from God (v. 4). Glory, honor, majesty—all of these “You have placed upon him” (David, v. 5). Blessedness and “exceeding” gladness are found in Jehovah’s presence (v. 6). Do we remember to thank the Lord for the joy, strength, gladness, salvation, purity of His blessings, life that we enjoy, and glory that He favors us with daily? Material items are wonderful; spiritual blessings are far superior, however.

The Lord and His enemies (vs. 7-12)—There is no hope in fighting against God. David knows it; he trusts in Jehovah and knows that “through the mercy of the Most High he shall not be moved” (v. 7). David never forgot the mercy of the Lord. Contrariwise, the Lord’s enemies will not escape; “Your right hand will find those who hate You” (v. 8). He will make them as a “fiery oven,” and “shall swallow them up in His wrath.” “Fire shall devour them” (v. 9). As indescribable as the love of God is, He is also a wrathful God to those who oppose Him. Even the enemy’s offspring will be destroyed (v. 10), and the reason for this vengeance is found in verse 11: “For they intended evil against You; They devised a plot which they are not able to perform.” All evil is ultimately against the Lord, a rejection of His word and direction. The “plot” of the wicked will eventually come to naught. The Lord will prepare them for His punishment (v. 12). These poetic verses indicate Jehovah’s anger with the ungodly and the ultimate vanity of that way of life.

A final benediction (v. 13)—“ Be exalted, O LORD, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power.” Men should indeed exalt the Lord, and sing and praise the power He has to effect His will in our lives, if we will only let Him.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Psalm 20

A song of blessings for others (vs. 1-9)—Most of the verses in the psalm consist of blessings for the readers. The New King James Version simplifies the song by putting “may” before each desire. There are several of these. “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble” (v. 1). May He defend you (v. 1), send help from His sanctuary and strengthen us (v. 2), remember and accept our worship (v. 3), grant us our heart’s desires, and fulfill our purposes and petitions (vs. 4-5). Spliced into verses 4 and 5 are a statement of rejoicing and praise. Before a final “may” in verse 9, David expresses his unshakeable faith in the Almighty. I know Jehovah “saves His anointed,” and “will answer him from His holy heaven” (v. 6). Many men trust in the power of this world—“some trust in chariots and some in horses” (v. 7), but God’s people “remember the name of the Lord our God.” Verse 8 is a contrast. Those who indeed trust in their own strength “have bowed down and fallen;” those who trust the Lord “have risen and stand upright” (v. 8). A final plea: “Save, Lord! May the King answer us when we call” (v. 9). David includes himself in that last verse. The word “may” could imply an element of doubt (the KJV and ASV use “let”), but David has already expressed his confidence that God will hear us when we pray. Always remember that these psalms are poems, songs put to music. They have certain Hebrew structures they must follow and thus very often express general truisms rather than absolutes. It is why building doctrinal positions from a verse in a poem is very dangerous (Calvinists do this with Psalm 51:5). The Lord will do every “may” in this psalm if we are faithful and devoted to Him, and wait patiently for Him (Psalm 40:1). But again, be careful of thinking in terms of absoluteness. The Lord is not going to grant us all of our “heart’s desire” (v. 4). But He will certainly bless us with what we need and answer our prayers according to His will. And the closer our will is to His, the more our “heart’s desire” will be granted.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Psalm 19

God’s natural revelation (vs. 1-6)—God has revealed Himself to mankind in two different ways: through nature and through His word. This chapter brilliantly analyzes both. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (v. 1). Day by day, night by night, “there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard” (vs. 2-3). In other words, humanity has many different languages and most people cannot communicate with each other very easily. But we can all understand the “language” God speaks as represented by the heavens—every place, every where, “to the end of the world” (v. 4). And “in them He has set a tabernacle for the sun” (v. 4). That sun comes forth like a bridegroom from his chamber—everyone awaits—and when Old Sol arises, everyone rejoices “like a strong man to run a race” (v. 5). Nothing on this earth can escape it (v. 6). Again, what David is doing is describing the existence and majesty of God, as revealed through the creation. One has to be really desperate to examine our world and not see a Creator behind it. No one would ever argue that our most sophisticated machinery—for example, a computer—simply happened by chance, or evolved from some primeval junk pile. But the earth, of which the smallest cell is far, far more complex and complicated than anything the human mind has ever fashioned, is the product of blind, chaotic, non-intelligent, purposeless forces! Folks, that is what passes for “knowledge” and “erudition” on college campuses today. The theory of evolution is the most idiotic idea humanity has ever conjured up; but people will do desperate things to avoid obeying God. David’s simple statements here in Psalm 19 about the heavens and the sun are proof enough to anyone with an open mind and an open heart.

God’s special revelation (vs. 7-11)—Yet, there is only so much we can learn about God from looking at nature. We may see His omnipotence, His omniscient, His benevolence and justice—but there is much that nature does not explain to us about Him. Most importantly, nature cannot tell us man’s purpose on this earth. Why did God put us here? Where did we come from? Where are we going? Why is there so much wickedness, heartache, and sorrow here? Is there anything we can do to please this seemingly capricious God, Who blesses the wicked, curses the righteous, sends earthquakes, famines, and pestilence to one people and sunshine and rain to another? This information can only be learned from God’s special revelation, His word. That word is perfect and sure, converting us and giving us wisdom that His natural revelation cannot (v. 7). It is right and pure, giving us a reason to rejoice in the knowledge it provides and enlightening as to why we are here and how we can please and serve Him (v. 8). The word of the Lord produces a reverence that it is clean, “enduring forever,” and pronounces judgments that are true, and righteous (v. 9). The words of God are more precious than gold and sweeter than honey (v. 10). They warn us, directing us from wicked, harmful pathways, and when we obey God’s diktats, “there is great reward” (v. 11). The natural revelation of God and the special revelation of God work hand in hand. In His word, we can see that, much of what is discerned from natural events, is true—for example, if one abuses alcohol, he will often pay the price. Both nature and the Bible tell us that. But again, nature is limited in its revelation. It cannot teach us about salvation in Jesus Christ; that knowledge comes only from God’s special, verbal revelation. We know God from nature; we know how to please Him from His word.

Man’s response (vs. 12-14)—Thus, since can know about God from nature and His word, we learn about ourselves and the ways to honor and satisfy Him. Even man cannot fully understand himself (v. 10); we need His aid to avoid sin. Being blameless is the goal, for God is holy, and we should strive to be like Him (v. 13). We know He exists; nature tells us that. We know He is holy; His word speaks of that. We know we fall short of His glory; our own experiences teach of that. Add it all up, and our prayer should be “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer” (v. 14). 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Psalm 18

David calls upon the Lord (vs. 1-3)—This psalm is almost an exact duplicate of II Samuel 22. It appears that, unless II Samuel 22 is well out of chronological order, the song might have been written over the course of a number of years, which is not an impossibility. The heading, in verse 1, which is also found in II Samuel 22:1, reads “Then David spoke to the LORD the words of this song, on the day when the LORD had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.” Note: from the hands of all his enemies and from Saul. Again, unless there is a chronological incongruity in II Samuel 22, Saul had been dead for a long time. Also, Psalm 18:50 speaks of God giving great deliverance “to His king”—David. So at least some of this psalm was written while David was monarch.

Regardless, it is a psalm of praise, vindication, and victory. In verses 1-3, David calls upon Jehovah, “who is worthy to be praised” (v. 3). No matter what happens in this life, we owe the Lord obedience and praise. He will deliver us, for He is our strength, rock, fortress, shield, stronghold, refuge, and savior (vs. 1-2). That pretty well sums it up, as far as the Lord being our protector from the wiles of our enemies.

David in distress (vs. 4-6)—Verses 4 and 5 provide a brief statement of the circumstances that led the king to call upon Jehovah. So, “in my distress I called upon the Lord…[and] He heard my voice” (v. 6).

A powerful description of divine intervention (vs. 7-15)—In majestic, dynamic language, David describes the Lord’s deliverance. The earth “shook and trembled,” and the very foundations were rattled (v. 7). Smoke came from His nostrils and kindled coal (v. 8). The heavens were bowed, and the winds, clouds, and darkness were at His beck and call to do His bidding (vs. 9-12). He “thundered from heaven” and His voice was like “hailstones and coals of fire” (v. 13). His arrows scattered the enemy, and “lightnings in abundance” (v. 14). The blast of His nostrils exposed the “channels of the sea” and “the foundations of the world” (v. 15). One is almost overwhelmed with the power and majesty of this description of God’s working in behalf of His servant.

David delivered (vs. 16-19)—The king was troubled, in “many waters,” but “He delivered me from my strong enemy” (v. 17). No adversary is too difficult for the Lord to overcome. Sometimes that adversary is too strong for us (v. 17), but with the Lord’s support (v. 18), we can be saved. Verse 19 sets the stage for the next section of this psalm: “He delivered me because He delighted in me.”

God will reward us according to what we deserve (vs. 20-27)—David asserts his own righteousness here, and this is why the Lord saved Him. “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness” (v. 20; cf. also v. 24). “I was also blameless before Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity” (v. 23). David put himself in a position, by staying pure, where the Lord could bless him, and Jehovah did not let him down. Verses 25-27 indicate that, in effect, we reap what we sow: mercy if we are merciful, blamelessness if we are blameless, purity if we are pure, perverseness if we are perverse. “You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks” (v. 27).

A catalogue of God’s assistance to David (vs. 28-45)—We aren’t saved by works, of course, and neither was David. In spite of his righteous, blameless life, he knew that without Jehovah’s help, there could be no escape. God “will light my lamp” (v. 28). With Him, David can “run against a troop” and “leap over a wall” (v. 29). Following His word will lead to perfection (v. 29). He armed the king with strength (v. 32), made his feet “like the feet of deer” (v. 33), taught his hands “to make war” (v. 34), gave him the shield of His salvation and held him up by His right hand; His gentleness led to David’s greatness (v. 35). He enlarged David’s path so that his feet would not slip (v. 36). Through Him the king pursued his enemies, overtook them, destroyed them, wounded them; (vs. 37-38); it was the Lord who armed the king and “subdued under me those who rose up against me” (v. 39). The Lord gave David “the necks of my enemies, so that I destroyed those who hated me” (v. 40). They (his enemies) cried out, but in vain; even the Lord “did not answer them” (v. 41). Jehovah delivered the king, and put him at “the head of the nations” (v. 43). Those foreign peoples would obey him, submit to him, and be frightened of him (vs. 44-45). David NEVER forgot to give the Lord glory for all of this, which is an amazing thing, for he was a king, with total power. And there aren’t many absolute dictators in history who did not let their power go to their heads and convince them that their “greatness” was their own doing. This is certainly one of the major reasons David was a such a marvelous, exemplary servant of God. If only world leaders today would imitate him!

A final word of thanks (vs. 46-50)—“The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted. It is God who avenges me” (vs. 46-47). That is a fair description of David’s attitude. “He delivers me from my enemies…therefore I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and sing praises to Your name” (vs. 48-49). David wanted even non-believers to know who was the true King and Lord of Israel. 

Deliverance and mercy come from Jehovah (v. 50). A marvelous psalm of trust in God and praise to Him.