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.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Psalm 17

A prayer for vindication (vs. 1-4)—This entire psalm is a prayer. David is not boasting of his righteousness, but he does know when he has been righteous. Thus his cause is “just” (v. 1, NKJV), or “right” (KJV, ASV). His prayer is “not from deceitful lips.” He asks for “vindication” and that the Lord would “look on the things that are upright” (v. 2). He even believes that the Lord has tested him and “found nothing” (blameworthy). God, of course, does test His people; sometimes we pass and sometimes we fail, but we do need to understand that He is trying to build our character, and that usually happens more through trials than through ease. Following the “word of Your lips,” will enable us to keep away “from the paths of the destroyer” (v. 4). The word of God will protect us from sin if we will only “hide it in our hearts” (Ps. 119:11).

Praying for God’s help (vs. 5-8)—Yet, even though David is sure that he has acted wisely and justly, he is still aware of his deep need for God. In these verses there are a series of requests: “Uphold my steps in your path” (v. 5); “incline your ear to me” (v. 6); "show your marvelous lovingkindness” (v. 7); “keep me as the apple of your eye” (v. 8); and “hide me under the shadow of your wings” (v. 8). It doesn’t matter how faithful we have been to the Lord, without Him we can do nothing (John 15:3); “our sufficiency is from God” (II Cor. 3:5).

David’s enemies (vs. 9-12)—And anytime we strive to be truly faithful to Jehovah, there are those who will oppose us. Such is the case here with David. He makes his requests of verses 5-8 because of “the wicked who oppress me” (v. 9). They are “deadly enemies,” and David indeed had some during his life. We don’t know the circumstances behind this psalm, but it could have been written at many difference occasions in his life. Verses 10-12 provide a description of these wicked: they have closed up their “fat” hearts (v. 10, NKJV, or “are inclosed in their own fat,” KJV, ASV); they speak “proudly” (v. 10). They have “surrounded us” (the righteous? David moves from the singular to the plural in verse 11), and they lurk, like a lion for his prey, “crouching down to the earth” (vs. 12, 11). Evil men lie awake at night, thinking of the wickedness they can do in the morning (Micah 2:1). “The sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light” (Luke 10:8). Denying God and finding excuses for sin is more difficult than accepting Him and justifying righteous conduct. It takes more time to conceive sin than to simply obey what God has commanded.

“Arise, O Lord” (vs. 13-15)—The psalm closes with a request that the Lord act against the wicked. “Confront him, cast him down, deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword” (v. 13), from those “who have their portion in this life” (v. 14)—in other words, who live for worldly things and not to serve God. But as for David, “I will see Your face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness” (v. 15). Given his comparison with the world in verse 14, David might be talking about seeing God after death in heaven. Or it might be that, through a righteous life, we can “see” the glory of God and thus know Him and the kind of being He is, and find satisfaction and peace through that means.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Psalm 16

“For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell” (vs. 1-11)—It’s possible that this psalm is totally Messianic and applies solely to Jesus. Verse 10 definitely refers to Christ, because Peter quotes it in Acts 2 and applies it to the resurrection of Jesus. But more than likely, David is referring to himself here and his ultimate release from death is a type of Christ’s. However, it is important to realize the Messianic teaching found in the psalm.

David begins the psalm with a request for protection based upon his trust in God (v. 1). He expects that the Lord will do as he asks because He delights in His “saints” (v. 3). Those who “hasten after another god” will have their sorrows “multiplied” (v. 4). But the Lord is with His people. There can be no goodness apart from Him (v. 2). He is our “portion” and our “cup”; He sustains us (v. 5). He guides our lives so that we may have “a good inheritance” (v. 6). He directs us with His counsel (v. 7), thus teaching our hearts how to act properly. If we set Him before us, He will be at our right hand and “I shall not be moved” (v. 8). Thus, we can be glad, rejoice, and rest in hope (v. 9). He will eventually raise us from the dead (v. 10), and that is because of what Jesus did as the first fruits from the dead. But while on earth, the Lord will “show me the path of life.” In His presence there is “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” (v. 11). Again we see David’s undying faith and trust in God, not only for the needs of this life, but for deliverance after death. But without the redeeming work of Christ and His resurrection from “Sheol” and “corruption,” none of this would be possible (v. 10). David’s belief that God is in his life, in toto, is a good illustration for us to believe the same thing.