The Psalms: Book 1
Psalm 1: Two Ways.
There really are only two approaches to life-that of the blessed and the wicked. The blessed “delight in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (v.2) This is the first axiom of all thought and existence, and it ought to be a day and night exercise. The ungodly follow their own counsel, on this they stand and on this they sit in judgment. (v.1) There is no such thing as a casual walk through life-a choice has to be made. The blessed delight in God’s law-the ungodly scorn it.
Ideas and attitudes have consequences. The blessed are like trees planted by rivers of water-their roots are deep and the water is never ending-they are secure. The blessed therefore bring forth fruit and prosper. He who is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6), made clear that by their fruit they would be known (Mt. 7:20). “The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.” (v. 4) By standing in the path of sinners (v.1), they will ‘not stand in the judgment.” (v.5)
“No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jn. 14:6) There is only two ways in life and only one way to live the blessed life. “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” (v. 6) Clearly this is more than mere information-the LORD knows the thoughts and actions of the ungodly. Rather, this is His electing love, for as Jesus also said- “No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws him.” (Jn. 6:44) Delight in the law of the LORD and you will be blessed.
Psalm 2: Kiss The Son.
The beginning Psalm contrasts two ways based on two counsels. Here we see that a counsel which is a majority still doesn’t make it right or successful when it is “against the LORD and against His anointed.” (v.2) It is the counsel of the rebellious (v.3)-seen on a national and global scale (vv.1-2). But the LORD laughs and holds them in derision (v.4) because He is in charge and has a plan and a man. (v.6) They, on the other hand, will meet with a word of judgment. (v.5, 9)
God governs by decree. His will stands. It does not depend on majorities. As with so many of the Psalms, this one found some fulfillment in David’s son, but as is pointed out in the coming of the Christ, only God’s own Son, the second person of the trinity could meet the requirement of one of whom it was said, “You are my Son, today I have begotten You.” (v.7 cf. Mt. 3:17; Mk. 1:1, 11; Lk. 3:22; Jn. 1:18; Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5, 5:5) This Son sits enthroned forever, and it is to Him ultimately, that the nations are given (v.8).
“Kiss the Son.” (v.12) This is the counsel followed by the blessed who put their trust in Him. It is in the light of this Psalm, and of God’s decree, that we should view the great commission of Mt. 28:18 ff. There remain two ways. There is wrath for those who follow their own counsel against the LORD, or there is the blessedness of those who put their trust in Him. The end has been decreed. Which side are you on?
Psalm 3: Salvation Belongs To The LORD.
Many find themselves uncomfortable with what are called the “imprecatory” Psalms. Prayer raised to God for judgment on one’s enemies can be fraught with dangers. It is important to remember that these are the enemies of the godly, that is, those who fear God. They are his enemies and only secondarily ours. However, no one who understands what it means to follow the LORD will ever doubt that His enemies will be theirs. There are only two ways in this world and if one follows the LORD there will be a battle.
The LORD’s enemies are confident that He is absent. (v.2) His people, on the other hand, are confident in the knowledge of His protection and help. He answers prayer. (vv.3-7) Majorities don’t rule (v.6), the LORD does. “Salvation belongs to the LORD.” (v8) We can be thankful that this is the case. There are two outcomes-because ideas and attitudes have consequences. The LORD will strike down and make toothless all His and our enemies, but His blessing is upon His people. (v. 7-8) “Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God.” (v.7) This is a prayer God will answer.
Psalm 4: Gladness In My Heart.
Some mistakenly think of idolatry as an ancient or modern yet primitive practice, but idol worship of whatever kind is just the outward practice of that approach to life which seeks out falsehood. It is a mistake to imagine that all religious behavior is evidence of a sincere seeking after the truth. Just the opposite is the case. Men apart from God love worthlessness. (v.2) The godly, on the other hand, look to God with expectation as He who hears, has mercy, answers, and delivers. (vv. 1,3)
It is possible to be angry and not sin, in fact it is necessary to be angry with what makes God angry-if you really love Him. The sacrifices of the godly are righteous-religion is the inescapable expression of a moral and ethical condition. An often forgotten prerequisite of true religion is to be still, and one’s meditation must go to the heart or core to be real. (v.4) Trust in God must find its seat in the heart-the core of one’s being, the centre of one’s thoughts. This also is the opposite of idolatry, which is superficial.
Skeptics, doubters, and unbelievers scoff at the thought of a good God acting in history. (v.6) The godly, on the other hand, understand that even the seasons and harvest time come from God, the Lord of history and Creator and Sustainer of all that is. (v.7) This knowledge brings gladness to the heart of the godly. Does God make your heart glad? The shorter catechism states man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The ungodly turn His glory to shame. (v.2) The godly live for His glory, and He brings gladness to their hearts. Whether we have the wine and the grain we always can have the gladness, peace, and safety because we know He rules over all. (vv. 7-8)
Psalm 5: God and King.
“Doing theology” is more than academic study and philosophical reflections. For the Christian, theology is about kingship. Our God is also King (v.2). “Doing theology” from a biblical perspective is also a moral and ethical endeavor (v.4-5). God also hates. It is also about truth (v.6), in opposition to those who speak falsehood. For the believer it is about praying to the God Who is King, whose rule is sovereign. It is the believer’s first thought in the morning, with expectation (v.3).
The righteous know that they are such because of God’s mercy. It is mercy that inspires godly fear (v.7). We worship One Who is holy. Mercy is required. There is no faithfulness spoken from those who speak only death. Their flattery comes from a heart given to destruction (v.9). They will “fall by their own counsels,” because “they have rebelled.” It is not that people do not know the truth-they are rebelling against what they know.
Joy and rejoicing, on the other hand, is the life of the righteous. Those who put their trust in their God and King have Him as their defense (v.11). Blessing and favour rest upon those who love His name (vv. 11-12). The justified believer is made righteous by His mercy and prays for God’s sanctifying help. “Make Your way straight before my face.” (v.8) God’s way is straight. We need to pray we see it and walk in it.
Psalm 6: Healing For The Troubled
The first of seven so called penitential Psalms (cf. 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143), David pleads for mercy because he is weak, for healing because he is sick, in body and soul, and for deliverance (vv. 1-4). Once one dies there ceases to be opportunity to serve (v.5). David’s situation brought him to tears. It was more than personal failings, he had enemies. These enemies were such because they were “workers of iniquity” (v.8), they were not workers of iniquity because they were his enemies.
Some people seek to take advantage of the failings of God’s people, but despite his own failings David was still a servant of the LORD. God’s enemies were his enemies. Therefore the LORD heard his supplication and received his prayer (v. 9). They will be ashamed and greatly troubled who would trouble the people of God and mistake His discipline as an occasion for hatred.
Psalm 7: Trust God.
Real trust in God shows when one is willing to suffer, if need be, for one’s own faults. It is an acknowledgement that the LORD is just. For one with integrity, trusting in God’s justice means judgment for one’s enemies instead (vv. 1-10). “God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” (v. 11) Though they conceive trouble and bring forth falsehood, they will ultimately fall by their own devices (vv. 14-16). The just, on the other hand, “will praise the LORD according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.” (v. 17)
Psalm 8: One Covenant LORD!
The name ‘LORD’ speaks to the covenant, and it is excellent (vv. 1,9). It also speaks to His glory. Some of the weakest members of the covenant-infants and nursing babes-put to silence the enemy and avenger (vv. 1-2 cf. I Cor. 1:27). This same God ordained everything into existence (v.3), including man (vv. 4-5). To man he gave the dominion mandate (Gen. 1:28), to which this is a Psalm of praise.
But there is a greater Son of man to which this speaks and through whom alone this mandate can find fulfillment-Heb. 2:5-9. It is to the greater Son of David to whom these babes offer praise – Mt. 21:16. There is one covenant LORD! All His enemies will ultimately be put under His feet (v.6 Cf. Ps. 110; I Cor. 15:27; Eph. 1:22; Heb. 2:8). “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” (I Cor. 15:25-26) With the fall the mandate took on a new dimension, but the Son also bought and brought redemption.
Psalm 9: Wholehearted Gladness.
Being in covenant with the LORD is an all in proposition. “I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart.” (v.1) Nothing less than the whole heart, one’s core, will do. Praise of God and His works comes from one who is glad. (v.2) God judges in righteousness therefore he defends the righteous. Destruction awaits the wicked. (vv. 3-8) But the LORD is a refuge to those who trust Him. (vv. 9-10) Zion, His redeemed, sing His praises and declare His works, and He avenges them. He responds to the humble. We rejoice in His salvation. (vv. 11-14)
One thing stands out throughout the Psalter in regard to the wicked-they will ultimately be caught by their own devices. This is a godly prayer. They will either see the evil of their ways or else they will write their own destruction-of individuals, families, or nations. Whether it be pit, net, or snare the point is the same. In this way, “the LORD is known by the judgment He executes.” (v. 16) Hell is the ultimate conclusion for those who forget God. (v. 17) Those who fall by their own devices think that their own devices is all that there is. The needy, on the other hand, will not be forgotten. The nations face judgment for they are but men (vv. 19-20), but the poor in spirit (the humble) will live forever.
Psalm 10: The LORD Alone Is King.
We are reminded once again that it is a godly desire and prayer that the wicked be caught by their own devices. “Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.” (v. 2 cf. vv. 12, 15) In their evil pride they do not seek God nor do they think of Him. (vv. 3-4) In their pride they think they stand secure-God’s judgments do not matter. Out of the overflow of their hearts comes cursing, deceit, oppression, trouble, and iniquity. (v. 7) They are cowards-they secretly wait to overthrow the helpless. (vv. 8-10) “He has said in his heart, God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see.” (v. 11 cf. v.13) But God does see and He will repay (v. 14). It cannot be stressed enough-this is a godly desire and prayer-one that God will answer (vv. 16-18), “that the man of the earth may oppress no more.” “The LORD is King.” He will not forget the humble. (v. 12)
Psalm 11: Foundations.
What are the foundations? “In the LORD I put my trust.” (v.1) Who do you trust? “The upright in heart,” (v. 2) are those who trust in the LORD. What is the condition of your heart? To be upright or righteous speaks to morality, but also to integrity-that quality of being whole or undivided. When the bible speaks of the heart it refers most often to one’s core and God requires it to be undivided. Wisdom ensures it is undivided. God sees and tests all people-righteous and wicked both (v. 4). His soul hates the wicked, those who love violence (v.5-6), and this violence is first and foremost against God’s law. On the other hand, “His countenance beholds the upright.” (v.7)
Sadly, it is often those in the church who say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain.” (v. 1) There are so called Christians who say that God’s law is passé at best, or worse yet, that the Lord Jesus has somehow abrogated that law which is a reflection of God’s holy character. Jesus could not have been clearer in Mt. 5:17-20, but we have so called ministers of the word flatly opposing Him. We need to strengthen the foundations or else the wicked will succeed until there will be no safe place for the upright.
Psalm 12: God’s Word Pure And Sure.
Who is the godly man who ceases? He is faithful. What does that mean? He does not have a double heart. His heart is upright. He has integrity. (vv. 1-2) Pride and flattery are the words proceeding from the double hearted. (v.3) From these comes what is to them a rhetorical question: “Who is lord over us?” (v. 4) But the godly ultimately finds safety in the LORD to whom they look for help. (vv. 1,5) But if the wicked are not cut off (v. 3), vileness will be “exalted among the sons of men.” (v. 8) We are not left to wonder by what standard we are to go by.
“The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. You shall keep them, O LORD, you shall preserve them from this generation forever.” (vv. 6-7) God is not double hearted. “Seven times” in the scriptures speaks to perfection. His word can be trusted-it is both pure and will last. The denial of the inerrant continuing authority of the canon of scripture is more than an academic point-it is a denial of the integrity of God Himself. For the godly there is more possibility of silver losing its value than for God’s word not to be pure and sure forever.
Psalm 13: How Long?
How long? This is a hard question, borne out of adversity. It can take on the colour of many a situation and circumstances, but it all comes down to the struggle of thinking that God has forgotten and one’s enemies will exalt themselves. (vv. 1-2) The answer lies in being enlightened by God. “Enlighten my eyes” is a prayer God will answer. Again, this is the first axiom of all thought and existence. It does not really help in the long run to get lost in one’s own thoughts. Without God we sleep the sleep of death. (vv. 3-4) When God enlightens us we begin on the path of life, and one day we will sleep the sleep of life. (v.5) It is all about trusting in His mercy-the necessary thing, with a heart that rejoices in His salvation.
Psalm 14: The LORD Is A Refuge.
“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (v.1) At the core of the fool is the ultimate denial. The fool lacks understanding (v.2). Many very educated people are fools. In fact, their time and talents are dedicated to denying what all men know-God does in fact exist. Men are totally depraved (vv. 2-3). The LORD sees and knows. Fools are corrupt workers of iniquity. There is an inseparable connection between the thoughts of one’s heart and a life lived.
But the righteous call on the LORD and find Him to be their refuge (vv. 4-6). What separates the two groups? The salvation of the LORD is the difference. Whatever the captivity might look like in each person’s life it is ultimately the captivity of the depravity spoken of here. It is the LORD who must bring back (v. 7), for the depravity above is total. “For he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6)
Psalm 15: Never Moved.
“LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? (v.1) An interesting question not often asked but if thought of the vast majority would no doubt presume an entrance. But dwelling with He who is holy is not a simple matter. Religion divorced from ethics isn’t biblical. It is more than simply having an interest in the “spiritual”. Those who dwell among The Holy One are those who are upright from the heart out. (v.2) It is ethical but not superficial. It is more than outward acts. Words and deeds proceed from an upright heart. It is loving God and one’s neighbor as one’s self. (v.3)
Does the church honour those who fear the LORD, or is it to often the vile person who should be despised? (v. 4) Interest on loans is a part of business in the world, but to charge a fellow believer interest in a loan to address their need is a form of exploitation (v. 5 cf. Dt. 23:19-20). It is no better than taking a bribe against the innocent. Sanctification or being holy, is walking according to God’s law. Those who deny the continuing authority of the law of God in the house of God are frankly no members of it. “He who does these things shall never be moved.” (v. 5 cf. II Pet. 1:10)
Psalm 16: The Path Of Life.
God watches over those who trust Him. (v. 1) But apart from the LORD we have no goodness. (v. 2) The church is the delight of the saints. (v. 3) But sorrows accompany those who serve another god. (v. 4) The saints, on the other hand, have a covenantal inheritance from the LORD-lines in pleasant places. (v. 5-6) As always, the one thing that divides these two groups and the first axiom of all thought and existence is that the saints receive the counsel of the LORD-the covenant God at our right hand. (vv. 7-8) Our inheritance is not just in this life, but there is hope beyond the grave. (vv. 9-10) The saints are those on the path of life with the joy of the LORD and pleasures forever more. (v. 11) Everything else is the path of death.
Psalm 17: Satisfied.
Those who look to God in prayer must not do so with deceitful lips-we must speak the truth (vv. 1-2). God tests the heart-the core of who we are. Deceitful lips are futile-because God knows (v.3). The upright are guided by the word of God-it is the first axiom of all thought and existence. Only those who keep their steps on His paths will be upheld and protected from the destroyer (vv. 4-5). God listens to and saves those who trust in Him (vv. 6-7). The upright are the centre of His attention (vv. 8-9). The wicked likewise follow the same basic principle of speaking from what is in their hearts (v.10). However, they trust only in themselves-sinful pride, and they seek out the upright to destroy them (vv. 11-12).
There really is no neutral ground-both stand and walk on opposite sides of the great divide. The upright live-yes live-in the open light, and walk on the straight path. Terribly boring to some it would seem. But for those who take this path the battle is fierce. On the other side are those traveling the crooked secret dark hidden paths of deception-“men of the world who have their portion in this life.” (v. 14) The meek do indeed inherit the earth, but for us the earth is not all that there is. The meek do indeed rejoice in children and hopefully leave them an inheritance. However, we have the hope of eternal life. When we die we sleep the sleep of life (13-14). “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” (v. 15)
Psalm 18 Light In The Darkness.
David penned this Psalm upon his deliverance by God from Saul, and with some minor differences it occurs also in II Sam. 22. His trust was in God and God delivered him. The covenant LORD is the rock, fortress, and deliverer of all who trust in Him. He is our shield and the horn of our salvation, our strength. Worthy to be praised indeed (vv. 1-3). Our greatest enemy is death. (vv. 4-6) I the midst of darkness deliverance comes from the glory cloud (vv. 7-15).
“The LORD thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered His voice.” (v. 13) “He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.” (v. 19) God takes us from hiding in the crags and caves of defeat and fear to a broad place of peace and security. David was righteous. “For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all His judgments were before me, and I did not put away His statutes from me.” (vv. 21-22) The temptation is great when suffering and persecution come to deny the word of the LORD, but David did not.
It may not seem like it in the midst of the struggle, but God is a just judge. “For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks.” (v. 27) It was not ultimately in himself that he trusted. One look at himself was enough to humble him (cf. Pss. 32; 51), but he knew that with the covenant LORD there was forgiveness. The proud think they have it all together but, He “will bring down haughty looks.” David did not trust in his own wisdom or insight. It was the LORD who lit his lamp and enlightened him in his darkness (v. 28). And that light was nothing less than the word of God proven (v. 30).
David did not manufacture his own righteousness-it was the LORD who made his way perfect (v. 32). God is the one alone who gives strength for victory (vv. 31-34, 37-42). Salvation is our shield, and it is broad and complete (vv. 35-36, 43-50). “The LORD lives! Blessed be my rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.” (v. 46) The church needs to get a larger vision of the scope of our salvation and the LORD our God! Christ will reign from His heavenly throne till all His and our enemies are put under His feet (vv. 43, 47 cf. Ps. 110:1; Mt. 22:44; I Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:22; Heb. 1:13). Great mercy and deliverance He has shown to His Anointed (v.50) “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” (Rom. 16:20)
Psalm 19 Perfect Revelation.
We have in this Psalm what theologians like to call ‘general’ and ‘special’ revelation-for lack of better terms. All people have enough knowledge from the created order to know that God exists, is glorious, and has created all that is. It has a speech and knowledge which does not require specific words or language to make the point. The existence and circuit of the sun is but one example. (vv. 1-6) Through general revelation all men are without excuse if they deny their Creator (cf. Rom. 1:18-3:19)
On the other hand, the law has a perfection and surety which is able not only to convert the soul, but to also make the simple wise. Some would suggest that the scriptures are only given for the former, but the scriptures themselves say otherwise-including this psalm. The statutes of the LORD reveal what is right and give enlightenment in all things. In the scriptures we also are warned about what is right, and in keeping His law there is great reward (vv. 7-11).
The scriptures have the specificity to show us our errors and secret faults, and to keep one from presumptuous sins. God has not left men without a clear testimony of salvation and of guidance in the affairs of life. Knowledge of His law keeps one from “great transgression.” (vv. 12-14) The law convicts of sin, shows the way of salvation, is our guide in sanctification, and enlightens us as to living before him our Creator in the whole of His creation. And the psalmist understood a basic principle-this knowledge had to be more than words spoken, it must find its place in the heart-scriptural to the core (v.14).
Psalm 20 Remember The Name.
This Psalm comes as both an invocation of blessing and a prayer, and the beginning words combine both. “May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble.” It is often noted that in the bible a name means much more than it does for us today. The name spoke to the character a person of the one named. To have the name of God defend is to have the creator and sustainer of all that is as one’s defense. (v. 1) Help is on the way. Zion and the sanctuary speak of God’s dwelling place-though He cannot be contained, it does speak to His presence, power, and glory. (v. 2) There is nothing better than to have owns sacrifices accepted-the response of gratitude for who He is and what He does. (v.3)
Not only sacrifices accepted but desires fulfilled, is the psalmist’s blessing and prayer. After all, only God can fulfill our purposes, and we can only fulfill our purposes because of His salvation, and only a sovereign God can answer our prayers (vv. 4-5) Our confidence is in the Messiah! It is only through the LORD’s Anointed that we can have any confidence. (v. 6) This was their hope for their king (v. 9), but it applies even more so to the King of kings. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” (v. 7) Some also trust in kings. However, we will trust in the God of the covenant, the LORD, and His Anointed.
Psalm 21 Glory To God And Joy In His Presence.
It is possible that we have in this Psalm and 20 companion Psalms structured for liturgy covering the same theme. “Both are liturgical Psalms: the first is an intercession, the second a thanksgiving. In both the king, the representative of Jehovah and the representative of the people, is the prominent figure; and the salvation or victory which Jehovah bestows upon him is the leading thought.” (A. F. Kirkpatrick, ‘The Book Of Psalms,’ p. 110) In both cases the beginning is sung by the people or their representative: Ps. 20: 1-5; Ps. 21: 1-7. The second section would have been sung by a leader-priest, prophet, or the king himself: 20: 6-8; 21: 21: 8-12. Finally there is the concluding prayer of the congregation: 20: 9; 21: 13.
The language is so exalted, especially of vv. 4-6, that some want to apply it exclusively to the Messiah. However, as with many passages it like has a twofold application. Israel’s king was a kind of representative between God and man. “Language which startles us by its boldness was used of him: language which was adopted and adapted by the Holy Spirit with a prophetic purpose, and only receives its ‘fulfillment’ in Christ. The Psalm then has a prophetic aspect, and looks forward through the earthly king of whom it spoke in the first instance, to Him who “must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet” (I Cor. xv. 25). Hence its selection as one of the Proper Psalms for Ascension Day.” (Kirkpatrick, p. 110)
So thanksgiving is offered for victory given to the king (vv. 1-7), an answer to the prayers and petitions offered (Ps. 20). It would be a mistake, however, to think that what was experienced by the king is something different than what is the life of the whole people of God-even beyond simply their rejoicing in or with him. The strength of our covenant LORD is our joy, and in His salvation we all greatly rejoice (v. 1, 5)! He grants our heart’s desires and answers our prayers (v.2). There are both blessings in this life (v. 3), and life eternal (v.4). It was the LORD’s presence itself which made the king glad, and should make us glad also (v. 6). The king trusted in the LORD, and so ought we, for with the LORD there is mercy and by it we will never be moved (v. 7). The people of God are secure in His mercy!
It is worth noting here the Q and A #1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Some think that catechisms and confessions are an imposition on scripture, but for those who study them and know the history, it is rather the opposite. In most cases the authors were so immersed in the scriptures that they were able to distill its truths in pearls of wisdom and truth. Here is a case in point. Man’s chief end or purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and this is what we find the king and ourselves doing here. “His glory is great in Your salvation,” and “You have made him exceedingly glad with Your presence” (vv. 6-7).
In verses 8-12 we then have the confirmation of victory and the anticipation of more to come in the future. It is the LORD’s presence which is the ground of victory. When His enemies are ours He wages war and brings judgment (vv. 8-9). They will have no future (v. 10), and what they devised they will not be able to perform (v. 11). Not only will they have no future, but they will turn back (v.12). Jesus, the greater King said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Mt. 16: 18) The church needs a fresh vision of the victory promised to Messiah, and through Him to the church. It is fitting to see this in the Psalm of Ascension, because on the basis of His ascension our King now reigns and will do so until His enemies are made His footstool (Cf. Ps. 110).
Benedictions have an important role and place in the life of the people of God and in godly biblical worship. Petitions are made, promises given, and answers come, but what is the ultimate focus of worship? “Be exalted, O LORD, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power.” (v. 13) What is the focus in the public worship of God today? Is it the covenant LORD and His character and deeds? It should be. It is only in His strength and power that we have life, and that with victory now and for all eternity. However, when we understand who He is and what He has done these alone are the grounds of true worship.
Psalm 22:1-21 “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” These are words which we all know from the lips of Jesus (Mt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34). They can actually get lost in the depths of theological discussions on the death of Christ and how he suffered for our sins. We must not miss the fact that these words resonated with David, and resonate with the saints throughout the ages. We can thank God that His word is real, because if one is honest there are times when one feels the force of these words. Feeling forsaken for one’s sin is perhaps understandable, but no less painful. But what of those times when one simply has that sense of being forsaken by God?
“Why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?” When the pain of loneliness, helplessness, and hopelessness seems all pervasive, the help God could provide seems so distant indeed. God seems so distant. Not only this, but it is as though He does not even hear us-the groaning. One would think that a prayer uttered as a groan would make its way through, even a cry. There are times when one cries day and night and God seems so far from hearing us. Spiritual melancholy and depression is a real thing for anyone who actually cares about their spiritual life.
This is the point-these feelings only come to those who actually long for God’s presence. These words are appropriate because we know God is holy-He is different, He is not like people who forget, or who are powerless. He is God-“enthroned in the praises of Israel.” David notes that He is also the God who has acted in history. “Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and you delivered them.” This knowledge makes the seeming silence so painful. “They cried to You, and You delivered them.” So why does he not hear and deliver him, or us? “They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.” But David does seem to be ashamed.
“But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people.” There will be times in one’s spiritual journey when one feels this way. “A reproach of men, and despised by the people.” (v. 6) Was this a reflection by the people on David’s failed leadership? Or was this simply the scorn of people who wait for the opportunity to mock one who puts his trust in God? Maybe we should be reminded that God usually uses other people to offer help in time of need, and these individuals failed to do so. “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him.” (v.8)
That this psalm does find fulfillment in the Son of God makes it all the more powerful. The psalm finds echoes throughout the NT. We see vv. 6-8 in Mt. 27:39-44 and Mk. 15:29; Lk. 23:35. The crucifixion finds other references in this psalm as well. There is the direct quotation of v. 18 in Mt. 27:35 (cf. Mk. 15:24). It is very interesting that Matthew refers to David as “the prophet.” So David spoke not only of his own agony, but he also spoke to the future Son of David. But two things stand out in these words from the scoffers-they acknowledged that the sufferer trusted in God, and that God did delight in him. We should not miss this, and it makes the suffering all the more poignant.
So David recounts the history of this relationship. He says that even from his infancy he was made to trust in God (vv. 9-10, cf. Ps. 71:5-6). God made him trust-even from the womb! This should help silence those who would then exclude infants from the covenant of grace and it’s administration. David, and our Lord Himself, trusted in God from the womb. For this reason he cries out to the Lord-it is all David has ever known! He knew God could help like no one else could (v. 11). It cannot be stressed enough that adult conversions were the exception and not the rule. The norm in the covenant community was the confession of David (cf. Is. 46:3; 49:1).
Bulls of Bashan and a roaring lion of course speak of the powerful. David knew the feeling, and Jesus was indeed subject to the political and military forces of the day. We all feel at times that we are subject to the powerful forces of the culture around us. But there are some who actually face the prospect of death. One certainly thinks of the martyrs through the years, to this day. What is significant for all of us is that Jesus knew something of this suffering. From bones to heart, David and our Lord suffered in body and spirit-to the core (v. 14 cf. Pr. 17:22). Physical pain is more obvious of course. Both are real. One feels wasted when brought to the door of death (v. 15). Thirst was both physical and spiritual (cf. Jn. 19:28).
Dogs in the bible were viewed here like the bulls and roaring lion. They faced a wicked majority (v. 16). Christ, the suffering servant of Isaiah 53:7, had His hands and feet pierced (Mt. 27:35; Jn. 20:25). All His bones could be counted as they cast lots for His clothing (Mt. 27:35; Mk. 15:24; Lk. 23:34; Jn. 19:24). And so, they do not give up looking to the LORD in prayer (v.19). They know the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD as One who can deliver. The LORD alone can save (vv. 20-21 cf. Ps. 35:17). Happily, David, the Lord, and all God’s people can say-“You have answered me.” (v. 21)
Psalm 22:22-31 Kingdom Rule Over The Nations.
As noted at the end of verse 21, this psalm now takes a turn. The answer David received causes him to turn to praise. He now looks forward to worshiping in the midst of the assembly or congregation (cf. v. 25). It is also an interesting transition for the greater son of David. Through His sufferings He showed Himself to be a brother. The writer to the Hebrews first demonstrated His deity, but then in referring to Psalm 8, and this psalm he highlights His humanity, and His sufferings (Heb. 1-2).
“You who fear the LORD, praise Him!” The fear of the LORD is the pre-condition for a lot of things, including true worship. Jesus Himself was heard “because of His godly fear.” (Heb. 5:7) The writer to the Hebrews also sees this as proof of the priesthood of Christ, after the order of Melchizedek, and that most quoted OT passage-Psalm 110. Psalm 110 also sees Messiah’s priesthood as extending throughout the whole earth. He will reign at the right hand of the Father until all his enemies are made His footstool. As Paul pointed out, the last enemy would be death itself (v. I Cor. 15:25-26).
David, in effect, issues a call to the covenant community to worship. Ultimately the LORD did answer his cry (v. 24). The poor also would have cause for rejoicing (v.26). Before the great assembly David would pay his vows (v. 25). But David’s hope went much further. He saw a day when all the families of the earth would worship before the LORD (v. 28). Sadly, David and the other prophets had a hope and faith much larger than what is exercised by much of the church today. They saw a day when Messiah’s priestly kingship would extend throughout the whole earth (Zech. 14:9; Obad. 21; Ps. 2), and this is to be the prayer of the church-Mt. 6:13.
Psalm 23 The Lord Is My Shepherd-Now And Forever.
David knew what it was to be a shepherd, and also what it meant to shepherd God’s people (Ps. 78:70-72). He also knew that he was an under-shepherd, that God has always been the Shepherd of His people (78:52; cf. 80:1). It was something the other prophets also knew (Is. 40:11; Ez. 34:11-12) We also know that the Lord Jesus is the Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:11; I Pt. 2:25), as the Lamb (Rev. 7:16-17). David also knew what it was to have God as his shepherd, and this should not escape us. We need to know Him as our Shepherd. “The LORD,” that is, the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD, “is my Shepherd.” (v. 1a)
“I shall not want.” (v. 1b) This is true for body and soul (vv. 2-3). “Green pastures”-not old hay in a desert, or beside stormy waters, instead there is “still waters.” Life is full of dry places and stormy waters, but our Shepherd makes us to lie down in green pastures and to be lead by still waters (v. 2 cf. Ez. 34:14-15; Rev. 7:17). Our Shepherd gives us soul restoration (v. 3). The LORD’s righteousness restores the soul (cf. Ps. 5:8). We are lead in “the paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake.” It is His righteousness and His paths. The LORD leads us for the sake of His own name.
But the circumstances of life are not always green pastures and still waters. There is sometimes the opposite extreme-“the valley of the shadow of death.” (v. 4) Yet even here, the LORD is with us. We need not fear evil-the rod of the Shepherd drives away enemies. His staff also is a comfort-for He guides us “in the paths of righteousness.” Comfort is what we need when death, calamity, and evil would seek to overwhelm us (cf. Is. 43:2). There is comfort because in the LORD’s righteousness there is pardon-Is. 40:1-2. This is what the voice of one calling in the wilderness came to proclaim-Is. 40:3 ff., and the ministry that the Lord came to fulfill (cf. Is. 51:3, 61:2; Lk. 4:18-19).
The LORD’s people will have enemies. It isn’t just trying circumstances nor even death. But the LORD provides even amidst our enemies. The LORD’s comfort and provision is not dependent on the outward circumstances. It is often in the midst of the most trying times and amongst the most trying people, that His provision and comfort is known and appreciated the most. Goodness and mercy is what the LORD’s people seek. Mercy is necessary-for we all, like lost sheep, have gone astray (Is. 53:5-6; I Pet. 2:25). Furthermore, David and the saints of old, just like us, have this hope of eternal life. Dwelling in His presence in both-all the days of our lives, and in His house forever.
Psalm 24 The LORD Of Heaven And Earth-The King Of Glory.
The covenant making and covenant keeping LORD owns the whole world and everyone in it, “for He founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters.” (v. 2 cf. Gen. 1:9-10) David refers back to creation itself. Paul will do the same thing when he refers to David and this psalm. “God created and sustains the whole earth; it belongs to Him. Paul cites this verse to establish the principle that there is no food, even things offered to pagan idols, which is unlawful for Christians to eat (I Cor. 10:25-28).” (NGSB, p. 777) Paul refused to give creation over to those who served another god.
It was a fitting quote for Paul, because Paul chose to raise a distinction between meat itself, a part of God’s creation, and lifting one’s soul up to an idol in worship (v. 4). The understanding that the LORD is the creator and sustainer of all becomes grounds for worship. To that end David asks who is worthy. The answer is, only those who have “clean hands and a pure heart.” Hands refers to work performed. Those acceptable must have both-clean hands and a pure heart. The former reveals the latter. When the two do not coincide, this is deceitful (v.4).
David is quick to affirm that this righteousness must come from the LORD-the covenant making and covenant keeping “God of His salvation.” (v. 5) Salvation is necessary. No one comes by this righteousness on their own. Those who seek Him and His salvation will receive His blessing and worship in His presence. The LORD is the King of glory-the glory presence. He is the LORD of glory because He has won the battle in history-“the LORD strong and mighty.” (v.8) He is also the LORD of hosts-He rules not just the world, but heaven also.
Psalm 25 Help For Heart Disease.
For David, and for all the saints, the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD alone is God. He puts all his rust in Him, therefore he asks that he would not be ashamed, that his enemies would not triumph. Rather, “let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.” Here ashamed means more than a thought or a feeling-he wants them stopped, and he looks to the LORD to accomplish this (vv. 1-3)
David knows his dependency on the LORD to lead him. His conception of his God and His ways is completely dependent on revelation. “Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.” (v. 4) This is how He leads us. David knew his need for salvation thereby. “For you are the God of my salvation.” (v. 5) Like David, we need to appeal to the LORD’s “tender mercies” and “lovingkindnesses” which is known in the history of redemption (v.6), for as he will rightly point out, sin is a problem (v.7).
God has all the grounds He needs to condemn us and leave us in our sin. This is why David appeals to God’s mercy. Mercy is required! Mercy must accompany goodness. Without mercy, since the fall, there can be no goodness. Nothing can change the character of God. “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He teaches sinners in the way.” (v. 8) Again, this is our dependency on the LORD. Our response must be one of humility. Only the humble can be taught, because only the humble acknowledge this dependency (v. 9).
Again, truth must be accompanied by mercy (v. 10). This comes by way of covenant. This is what David means when he appeals to the name of the LORD. “Pardon my iniquity for it is great.” This is a covenantal appeal-for the LORD had committed Himself to His people via the covenant (cf. II Sam. 7; I Chron. 17). Within this covenantal promise is the Messiah’s reign, and the building of His house (II Sam. 7:12-13). Covenant is accompanied by testimonies. We find in His word what we need to know about this covenant, and this covenant is not empty-the LORD teaches and guides us in this relationship.
Humility is accompanied by the fear of the LORD-these are inseparable (12). For those who follow the LORD, the promise is of prosperity-indeed, they will inherit the earth! The fear of the LORD is the secret of covenant life. David shows us the way. “My eyes are ever toward the LORD.” He was confident of deliverance. “For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.” (v. 15) It is within the covenant relation that David pleads for the LORD to turn to Him, for then it will be in mercy (v. 16).
Ultimately David’s real troubles, being “desolate and afflicted,” was because of his own sin. His sin brought him distress and pain. It goes to the core of our problems-sin is a heart problem. We are sinful to the core. There are the outward acts, to be sure. But the disease goes to the heart, the core of who we are. I have seen the enemy, and the enemy is me. We need the forgiveness that only our covenant LORD can give us (v. 18).
But the saints have enemies. We have enemies because of what we believe, and for the God that we serve. Covenant religion is hated by those outside the covenant. It speaks to the claim which the LORD makes to be the only God. Certainly one can suffer from without for one’s own sinful ways. However, it is the forgiveness that is in the covenant that many hate-the idea that mercy is needed and is found in no other.
David can claim integrity-for he did not deny his sin. His “uprightness” comes by way of the LORD’s mercy. Redemption is what David seeks, not only for himself, but also for the people (v. 22). There are no “troubles” that the LORD cannot deliver them from. How many of us think that our troubles are beyond His reach? David was confident that the LORD was able to deliver us from them all, including the deep troubles of a sinful heart.
Psalm 26 The Place Of Glory.
David had integrity-it doesn’t mean he was sinless. It does require that one acknowledge the sin and look to the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD for forgiveness. This is clear from the previous psalm and many other passages, including II Samuel 7 and I Chronicles 17 which highlight David’s covenant relationship with the LORD-a covenant based on mercy-an administration of the covenant of grace. It is for this reason that integrity is inseparable from examination. David asks the LORD to examine him-there can be no other way for integrity, nor for the vindication which he seeks (cf. Ps. 139:23-24).
Being proved by the LORD involves going to the core-the heart and mind. Sin has brought in a tremendous ability of the human heart toward self-deception. He is careful though. He prays for an examination based on His lovingkindness-he knows he is not without sin. He also knows this is the only way to walk in the truth. The first and chief sin of the wicked is to deny that God exists and the truth of who He is, and to worship and serve another-which is idolatry (v. 4 cf. Ps. 139:21-22). He also prays for examination of the core, because to be double minded or have a heart divided goes to the core of hypocrisy. David refused to associate with those who were inside the church but lived contrary to the testimonies of the covenant (vv. 4-5 cf. I Cor. 5:9-13).
David acknowledged that washing was necessary to enter the LORD’s presence to worship (v. 6). Again, he was not sinless. His integrity was based on the acknowledgment of God’s judgment on sin, including his sin. “But as for me, I will walk in my integrity; redeem me and be merciful to me.” (v. 11) In his integrity, he acknowledged his need for mercy and redemption. If his integrity was based on his own efforts or works, there would be no need for mercy and redemption. He has grounds for thanksgiving, and he can’t but tell of His wondrous works (v. 7). He was the recipient of the covenant of grace, and part of that covenant was the LORD building His house-a place where His glory presence would dwell (v. 8).
David’s integrity went beyond the acknowledgement of his condition before God. God in His covenant would provide an answer to sin. But the LORD also made David to stand “in an even place.” (v. 12). God’s placement of us is secure. He makes us to stand. Furthermore, his ways are even-there is nothing crooked about them. The wicked, those outside the covenant, are just the opposite. The work of their hands is given over to sinister schemes. Bribes are part and parcel for those who lack integrity. But David will stand, and when he stands in God’s house it will be to worship- to “bless the LORD…with the voice of thanksgiving.” (vv. 7, 12)
Psalm 27 Wait On The LORD!
Light is a common metaphor in scripture, going back to God creating light in the darkness and separating the two-the first day of creation-Genesis 1:3-5. David’s enemies, on the other hand, stumble around in the darkness and fall (v.2). The LORD was his salvation, therefore he did not fear-even to his core, his heart (v.3). His confidence was in the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD-David’s strength (v. 1).
The one thing Davis sought was God’s presence. It was upon David’s desire to build a house for God to dwell among the people, that David received the final OT administration of the covenant of grace-II Sam. 7; I Chron. 17. And within this covenantal promise is the Messiah’s reign, and the building of His house (II Sam. 7:12-13). It was not so he could behold the beauty of the temple, rather, David wanted to behold the “beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.”
“To inquire,” was also David’s desire. For David, God’s word alone was the first axiom of all thought and existence. To hear God’s word read, sung, and expounded was the desire of King David’s heart. How many attend church today without such an inquiring mind and heart? Why did David do this? “For in time of trouble He will hide me…He shall set me high upon a rock.” (v. 5) Those who build their lives on the word will be secure, while those who do not will stumble in the darkness upon the shifting sands of their own thoughts.
“And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me.” (v. 6) “Now,” because he went to the LORD and inquired. David’s kingship and victory over his enemies ultimately can be attributed to his dependence on the word. So should it be for all His people-in every walk of life. Such victory is a cause for joy and rejoicing (v. 6). David’s plea is for God to hear him, and the first thing he seeks is mercy. Mercy must come before everything-for we are sinners in need of grace. The LORD sends out the invitation, and so we seek (vv. 7-8).
David fully acknowledges that God would be justified in turning away-this is why he pleads what he pleads (v. 9). He knows he needs salvation from the LORD. When the closest of human relations, and those one would most look to for help-one’s parents, fail us-the LORD will take care of us. God usually uses means-the service of others, to meet our needs, but he is not bound by specific means. Again, David looked to the LORD for instruction. Many parents fail their children at just this point. Their covenantal obligation was to pass on instruction in the word- Dt. 6:1-2. It is just this instruction which David sought.
It is very important to see that this popular verse – 10, is found in the context of David seeking the LORD to inquire of Him. “Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies (v. 11) We are led when we are taught the LORD’s word. It is the word which makes everything clear and plain-a smooth path. “False witnesses” can only be defeated with the truth. We also should not miss the point that to bear false witness is to “breathe out violence.” (v. 12) Breaking the commandment (Ex. 20:16; Dt. 5:20), is an act of violence. Only the word of truth can remove the obstacles in one’s thought, and that of one’s enemies.
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” So with parents failing, and false witnesses breathing out violence, David’s confidence remains in the LORD. This confidence isn’t just in the life to come-it is now, “in the land of the living.” Goodness is what he knew he would see. God would take care of him, and false witnesses would not prevail. False witnesses will meet with the very end which they sought for those they bore false witness against.
David gives his testimony when he says-“Wait on the LORD.” Wait on the LORD-the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD. This is the beginning and end of it all. Wait on the LORD-He will teach us. Wait on the LORD-He will take care of us. Wait on the LORD-He will deliver us. “Be of good courage,” because you wait on the LORD. “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.” Those who wait on the LORD are strengthened to the core. “Wait, I say, on the LORD!
Psalm 28 The LORD-Our Rock, Strength, Shield, Refuge, and Shepherd.
This is another Psalm which begins with a prayer and ends with an answer. Nothing is worse then silence from the LORD. This is the condition of those who turn their backs on God. The wicked, on the other hand, “speak peace to their neighbors, but evil is in their hearts.” (v. 3) Conflicting words-prayer on the one hand, and cursing on the other. David pleads for what is a common biblical principle-that the wicked would be given over to their own deeds-that they would suffer the consequences of their own devices. Ultimately they deny that God rules-that He has acted in history and will do so again (v. 5). Destruction awaits them.
David rejoices! Contrary to the wicked, David’s heart beat for the will of God. To his core he longed for the vindication of his LORD. The LORD was his rock, strength, shield, and refuge. The warrior David knew who to trust, and he did so from the heart (vv. 6-8). David also prayed as a leader among his people-the LORD’s covenant people, for their salvation and blessing. The wicked speak peace but plot destruction in their hearts. But the LORD is able to turn that cursing back upon them and bring blessing to His own. The LORD is our Shepherd. David knew this and prayed for the LORD to thus strengthen and uphold His own covenant people. It would ultimately find fulfillment through Messiah-His anointed (v. 8).
Psalm 29 “Glory!”
David issues a call to worship, to the glory due His name, “in the beauty of holiness.” Holiness is a beautiful thing (cf. I Chr. 16:28-29; II Chr. 20:21; Ps. 110:3). Worship is a beautiful thing. He is the God of glory-the glory presence, where the might ones ever live to praise Him (vv. 1-2 cf. Acts 7). They sing the song of Moses, which is also the song of the lamb (Rev. 15:3-4; cf. 4:8-11; 5:8-14; 7: 9-12;). It is a call to respond to the voice of the LORD, the God of glory who thunders (vv. 3-4). His voice is in all creation. The trees break, the fire spreads, and the wilderness shakes (vv. 5-8). “The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth, and strips the forests bare; and in His temple everyone says, ‘Glory!’” (v. 9) Creation has a voice (cf. Ps. 19:1-6 cf. 18:30). Men are without excuse (cf. Rom. 1:18-32). “And in His temple everyone says, ‘Glory!’” (v. 9)
Beginning with Abraham, Stephen recounted the history of the acts of the God of glory (Acts 7). But it started before Abraham. From the dawn of creation God’s voice was heard (Gen. 1). The voice of the LORD shakes the whole wilderness, but in particular David mentions the wilderness of Kadesh. The wilderness of the promised land (Nu. 13:26). The wilderness that Joshua and Caleb were prepared to take, even as had been promised. God’s voice in the world always goes before and accompanies His covenant keepers. And the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD, “sat enthroned at the Flood.” (v. 11) Noah believed, and he was blessed (cf. Gen. 6:17-18; Heb. 11:7).
“And the LORD sits as King forever.” (v. 11) The LORD not only shakes the earth as King, but He removes the kingdoms of the men of the earth (Ps. 10:16-18). These nations will be Messiah’s, and one day all will bow before Him (Ps. 110; cf. 28:8). He has always reigned as the King of glory (cf. Ps. 24). It is this God who is the LORD of His people. Strength and blessing are given to His covenant people. It is no wonder that “in His temple everyone says, ‘Glory!’” (v. 10) “O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places. The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people. Blessed be God!” (Ps. 68:35)
Psalm 30 Favour And Mercy-Dancing And Gladness.
The psalmist worships in response to help from the LORD. He was cast down, he prayed, and the LORD lifted him up. His foes did not succeed in keeping him down. The LORD rescued him from death (vv. 1-3). He wants to encourage his fellow saints to trust in the LORD. Answers may not always be immediate. Remembering His name is a cause of thanksgiving-for it represents who He is and what He has done and can do. Even when He is angry with His own, it is but for a moment-“His favor is for life.” (v. 5) The psalmist acknowledged that he should not have put his confidence in his possessions-instead he should have kept his focus on the LORD (vv. 6-7).
The psalmist does not want to die, but not because he thought that this would be the end. He believed that he would give thanks to the LORD God forever (v.12). Rather, he wanted to continue to praise and serve Him in this life (vv. 8-10). It is the chief end of man to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. His point being that prolonged days could profit, if he continued to serve and worship the LORD. He also acknowledged that the favor of the LORD was absolutely necessary (v.7). The LORD alone is able to replace mourning with dancing, and the clothing of sackcloth with that of gladness. We need God’s favor and mercy, and with His favor and mercy there comes joy.
Psalm 31 Be Of Good Courage!
David’s hope was in the LORD. This was his testimony to the saints, and a call to worship (vv. 23-24). In prayer he declares his trust in the LORD, and pleads to be delivered (vv. 1-2). He knew the LORD as his rock, fortress, and strength, so he prayed for His help (vv. 2-5). He was caught in a net which his enemies had laid for him. David had already known the LORD’s redemption-and so he had committed his spirit to Him (v.5). Leading and guidance is what he desired (v. 3). This is the rightful position of all His saints.
He has a hatred for those who follow useless idols-it wasn’t strictly personal for David. He rejoiced in the LORD’s mercy-as with all the saints, his position before the LORD was based on mercy and redemption, soul and body (v. 9). He was a man who confessed his own iniquity (v. 10). His enemies, and even his neighbours and acquaintances, would’t let him forget it (vv. 11-13). But his trust was in the LORD-this was all that mattered. He trusted in the good providence of the LORD his God (vv. 14-15). The LORD’s salvation based on His mercy is what he sought (v. 16).
He prays for the defeat of his enemies-because they were the LORD’s enemies-idol worshipers (v. 6), who “speak insolent things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.” (v. 18) There is nothing better and more suited to body and soul, than the goodness of God. His goodness is laid up for those who put their trust in Him (v. 19). The wicked may plot and scheme but the saints rest in His protection (v.20). He is sovereign, so they speak in vain (v.15). He, on the other hand, is the “God of truth.” (v. 5).
David knows he is blessed-for the LORD has heard his prayer (vv. 21-22). In fact, he acknowledged that in his haste he had his doubts. Despite his doubts the LORD delivered Him. Sometimes our trust is shaky. We can thank God that the strength of our faith is not in us, but in the LORD. For this reason David gives his testimony to the saints and calls all to worship. The LORD’s righteousness (v. 1), strength (v. 4), truth (v. 5), mercy (vv. 7, 9), goodness (v. 19), presence (v. 20), and marvelous kindness (v. 21) shown to David in his own life, indeed showed him to be a blessed man.
There is one verse here which stands out for the saints-the greater son of David’s trust in the Father (v. 5 cf. Lk. 23:46). Jesus turned often to the psalms of lament (cf. 22, 69). These are equally precious to all the saints, including the blessedness expressed here, and the call to worship (vv. 23-24). Our times are in His hands, and He is still the LORD who delivers (v. 15). The city may be strong, but His marvelous kindness is greater (v. 21). “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; all you who hope in the LORD.” (v. 24 cf. Ps. 27:14).
Psalm 32 A Song Of Deliverance.
Transgression, sin, and iniquity all speak to what is “lawless deeds,” as we find in Paul’s quote of these verses in Romans 4:7-8. The Catechism puts it succinctly. “Sin is any want of conformity unto,-or transgression of,-the law of God.” (A. 14) What we also find in Paul is that he sees the blessedness here as the imputation of righteousness-the opposite of the imputation of sin. Imputation means essentially to impute to one’s account-a judicial judgment (cf. II Cor. 5:19).
Imputation speaks to justification. Here also we find a succinct statement in the catechism. “Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.” (A. 33) God makes a judgment based on mercy and grace, in that He pardons us our sin and accounts us righteous and therefore blessed.
There is no deceit in the spirit of the blessed. One cannot deceive God, and in justification there is no reason for deceit. We come to God in complete honesty of our transgressions, and we are forgiven. Only those who seek a works righteousness must be engaged in deceit-for “there is none righteous, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:10ff. cf. Ps. 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Ps. 51) The clear road to blessedness is an honest confession to the LORD.
David confesses the fault of remaining silent (vv. 3-4). Only with confession is there forgiveness (v. 5). This gives great confidence to the godly, to look to the LORD in prayer. So the godly are not sinless, rather, the godly are those who out of fear of the LORD turn to Him confessing their sins, and are forgiven (vv. 6-7). This psalm, and many others, become “songs of deliverance.” He is our hiding place from trouble-including the worst of troubles-alienation from the LORD Himself.
Forgiveness sets us on a new course. It is His law-word that exposes our sin and need for redemption. It is also that same word that is now our guide, and it is instruction which is what we need (v. 8). “Be not like the horse or mule.” The horse wants to take off running ahead of where it should be, and the mule doesn’t want to move at all. There is a lesson here for us. Discipleship or sanctification is what Eugene Peterson called, ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.’ (InterVarsity Press, 1980)
“Work with me,” is what the LORD is saying. The horse runs away, and the mule won’t follow. Some people do require bit and bridle, but the LORD would prefer we have some understanding, and dance the dance of sanctification-a long obedience in the same direction. It is all about a willingness to be taught the word with the intent of living it. Sorrow accompanies the wicked, but for the godly-those who trust in the LORD and His mercy and righteousness-there is gladness and joy. There is a true blessedness for the upright in heart, who are such because they have been forgiven.
Psalm 33 Our Help And Shield.
Praise to the LORD is both vocal and instrumental, and it is a beautiful and joyful thing, when it comes from the upright (vv. 1-3). “For the word of the LORD is right.” (v. 4) This is one reason for praise. A second is His works. A third is His person-He loves righteousness and justice. “The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.” (v. 5) But it is His word which brought all into existence-from the dawn of creation (vv. 6-7). All creation is called to worship. “For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded and it stood fast.” (v. 9 cf. Gen. 1; Ps. 148:5-6) His word always accomplishes the purpose for which He sends it (Is. 55:11). It is living and powerful (Heb. 4:12).
His counsel thwarts that of His enemies (v. 10). His plans stand (v. 11). Therefore, those people are blessed whose God is the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD, those chosen in His mercy (v. 12). He not only created all things but He looks upon all He has made and governs all in His providence (vv. 15). He is not a part of creation-there is a fundamental Creator-creature distinction (vv. 13-14). But He is also not absent. He has not wound up world and let it go with no further involvement or concern (v. 15). Some people think that this world is all there is and human beings shape their own history and destiny (16-17). But “the LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing.” (v. 10)
In contrast to “the sons of men,” those who fear the LORD, who put their hope in His mercy, are kept in body and soul. Their soul is delivered from death, and He keeps them alive in famine. Mercy issues in the hope of eternal life, and His providence ensures their life (vv. 18-19). We hope in His mercy (vv. 20-22). “He is our help and our shield.” The people of the covenant have the LORD as both their help and shield-strength for the battle and our protection in defence. His name is ‘holy’. As creator, ruler, provider, and redeemer, He is set apart from all others. “Our heart shall rejoice in Him.” (v. 21) We wait and trust, because we know He will show mercy and be our help.
Psalm 34 Love Life-Seek Peace.
This Psalm is constructed in somewhat of an acrostic-with each line started by the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet. However, unlike the stanzas of Psalm 119, this one has no line for the sixth letter, and the seventeenth comes at the end. The content lends itself to general liturgy, even though the preamble attributes it to David pretending madness before Abimelech, who then ended up driving him away (cf. I Sam. 21: 10-15). “Abimelech is probably a royal title for the king of the Philistines, not the proper name of the king (Achish, in the time of Samuel).” ‘New Geneva Study Bible,’ p. 787) This is a way of pointing out that even though it is the LORD who ultimately delivers, it is not without the ways and means of wisdom and cunning. David had the reputation of slaying ten thousands, but the LORD was behind it all-in strength and in weakness.
Praise and boasting in the LORD is the key to a blessed life. It is praise at all times-good or bad, strength or weakness. To boast in the LORD is to not boast in self (cf. Jer. 9:23-24; II Cor. 10: 17-18). It is the way of humility and why the humble will be glad to hear it. The latter is the way of the proud and wicked. For the humble, praise is a continual thing. It is a matter of magnifying the covenant LORD, and as a community exulting His name-which represents everything of who He is and what He has done (vv. 1-3). The covenant making and covenant keeping LORD can be sought and found by the righteous (cf. II Chron. 15:1-2; Ps. 9:10). The poor also will be heard, for it is the LORD who has established and maintains this relationship. The humble members of the covenant fear Him, and as their covenant LORD his angel encamps around them as their protector, and He delivers them (vv. 4-7).
We taste and see that the LORD is good when we find His words sweet to our taste (v. 8 cf. 119:103; I Pet. 2:3). But it is not enough to taste the word and find it sweet (Heb. 6:5), one must trust Him (v.8). So faith is both content and trust. Like God’s word, which was spoken in history accompanied by His acts, so our faith and belief must be accompanied by trust in the LORD who has acted and will continue to act. The saints are all those who fear the LORD, and they do not lack any good thing (v.9). The saints, because they trust in the LORD, seek Him in prayer, and they are satisfied (v.10 cf. Js. 5:16). The fear of the LORD is the way of life (vv. 11-12). Children need to learn that this is the secret to a long a blessed life. Words and deeds reveal the nature of a person. Doing good and seeking peace is the way of those who love life. Deceit is in the heart of those who love death (vv. 13-14).
As always, there are two ways-the way of blessing and life, or the way of cursing and death. Judgment is assured against those who do evil, but even in this life the covenant LORD will cut off the remembrance of them from the earth (vv. 15-16). As a running theme throughout the scriptures, the wicked will reap what they sow. “Evil will slay the wicked.” (v. 21a) Because the righteous are righteous, the wicked hate them, but they will ultimately be condemned (v. 21b). On the other hand, the covenant LORD hears the cries of His saints and delivers them from all their troubles-in this life and in the one to come (vv. 15, 17). He is near to the humble (v. 18). The afflictions of the righteous may be many, but He delivers them from them all (v.19).
As with many of the Psalms, this one also finds messianic fulfillment. Concerning His anointed ONE, the covenant LORD “guards all his bones, not one of them is broken.” (v.20) This was ultimately one of two witnesses to the Messiah’s death-John 19: 31-37. This was to fulfill the law in His role as the Passover lamb (Ex. 12:46; Nu. 9:12). The other witness fulfilled was Zech 12:10. So at the mouth of two witnesses, His death was assured-Deut. 17:6. He is our Angel of the LORD, and with Him all the angels serve Him and His people (v. 7 cf. Heb. 1:6-7 (Ps. 89:27; Ps. 104:4), and v. 14 (Ps. 103:20)). The covenant LORD is with those who seek peace and pursue it (v. 14 cf. Mt. 5:9). Whether rich, like David, or poor (vv. 4-6), the LORD blesses the humble who fear, trust, and seek Him (vv. 7-8, 17-18 cf. Is. 3:10-11).
Psalm 35 The Angel Of The LORD Delivers!
Sometimes life is a battle, and the enemies seem just too powerful for us. We need the LORD to say to our soul, “I am your salvation.” (v.3) Shame, dishonor, and confusion is what David wishes for his enemies (vv. 4, 26), dark and slippery paths where they pass like chaff with the wind (v.5-6). He asks for the help of the Angel of the LORD, for they pursued him without cause (vv. 5-7). He prays for what is a very common theme in the psalms-that his enemies would be caught in the net which they have laid for him. Let the wicked be caught by their own devices (vv. 7-8).
The Angel of the LORD was known to intervene for the covenant people in the flow of history. From the Angel’s visit to Hagar (Gen. 16:7-12), this Angel is special. She called the name of the Angel of the LORD who spoke to her-“You are the God who sees.” Not just a servant of the LORD, but the LORD Himself. In His word to Abraham, to spare his son (Gen. 22), the Angel of the LORD says, “now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (v. 12). Jacob struggled with this Angel and prevailed (Gen. 28:12-19; 32:24ff.; 35::9ff.; Hos. 12:4). This same Angel would speak to Jacob in a dream (Gen. 31:11-13), with promises of his future, and His redemption he would recall as he issued his blessing upon the sons of covenantal succession (Gen. 48: 15-16).
This same Angel of the LORD appeared to Moses, “in a flame of fire from the midst of the bush.” (Ex. 3:2) It was this Angel that went before the people and behind, to bring about their deliverance (Ex. 14:19 cf. 33:2; Nu. 20:16). He was one who could pardon transgression (Ex. 23:20-23), or bring judgment on the same (32:34 cf. Jud. 5:23; II Sam. 24:16-17; I Chron. 21:12ff.). It was this same Angel who confronted Balaam on his way to curse the covenant people, and instead issued a blessing (Nu. 22:22-35). He is the covenant keeping LORD (Judges 2:1), who appeared also to Gideon, who in turn built an altar to worship Him (6:11-24).
This same Angel would appear and speak to Samson’s parents upon his birth. They eventually understood He was no ordinary man or angel, for when they offered a sacrifice on an altar, “it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar-the Angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar.” (Jud. 13:20) Manoah thought they would die, for they realized He was God (v. 22). This same Angel would later appear and speak to Elijah during his battle with Jezebel (I Kgs. 19:5 ff.), and the passing of the prophetic torch to Elisha. Again He would speak to Elijah concerning Ahaziah, and his seeking counsel from false prophets and false gods (II Kgs. 1).
He would also deliver Hezekiah, according to the word delivered from Isaiah, and in faithfulness to David (II Kgs. 19:34-35 cf. Is. 37:36). Furthermore, Isaiah would recount the deliverance brought by the Angel of the Presence. “In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them and carried them all the days of old.” (63:9) Daniel also knew this angel to be His deliverer (3:28, 6:22). Zechariah would also speak of the future work of the Angel of the LORD to restore Jerusalem (1:1-2:5; 12:8). He also spoke of the conflict of the Angel with Satan himself (3:1ff.), and of the vision of the lampstand and the olive trees (4:1ff), the flying scroll (5:1ff), the woman in a basket (5:5ff), and the four chariots (6:1ff.).
David, the last to receive an administration of the covenant of grace under the old covenant, also saw the Angel of the LORD (I Chron. 21:16). David, moved by Satan, numbered the people-showing that he at this point of weakness turned to a works salvation, putting his confidence and pride in men, rather than in the covenantal promise of a seed without number, first given to Abraham (I Chronicles 21:1ff.). David should have listened to Joab, but instead he got a visit from the prophet Gad with a choice of judgment for his sin. David chose to fall into the LORD’s hands, and but for the LORD’s mercy, Jerusalem would have been completely destroyed by the Angel of the LORD (v. 15).
“Then David lifted his eyes and saw the Angel of the LORD standing between heaven and earth, having in His hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces.” (v. 16) Eventually David would show his true colours-pleading to the LORD to spare the people for his sin. It is to this Angel that David now turns to in this psalm, the same Angel he spoke of in Psalm 34:7, the One who has delivered His covenant people throughout history. David had to learn the hard way, that it was only through the Angel of the LORD that he and the people would have victory.
“The Angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” (Ps. 34:7) “And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; it shall rejoice in His salvation.” (v. 9) David knew the joy of salvation by grace. God delivers the poor and the weak-not those who trust in their own strength (v. 10). In a court of law, David will not rely on the testimony of men who seek only evil, instead he will acknowledge his sin and plead for the LORD’s mercy (vv. 11-21). “I will give thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.” (v. 18) He looked to the LORD to speak and arise to his vindication, and this according to the LORD’s righteousness, not his own (vv. 22-25).
It was the LORD’s righteousness that David trusted and rejoiced in. “My tongue shall speak of Your righteousness and of Your praise all the day long.” (v. 28) And this was David’s call to the people of the covenant. “Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; and let them say continually, ‘Let the LORD be magnified, who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” (v. 27) The LORD, not man, is to be magnified. And wonder of wonders, the LORD takes pleasure “in the prosperity of His servant.”
Psalm 36 In Your Light We See Light.
What do men choose to see? To know one must go to the core-the heart. For David, this oracle comes from his heart-it is the core of his thinking. The point-the wicked have no fear of God. There are two groups of people in the world-those who do fear God from the heart, and those who flatter themselves with their own self-acceptance. The wicked must practice deceit, for they cannot hide from their own iniquity. When a person elevates their own assessment of themselves above the standard of God’s word and judgment, there is a course taken which makes it impossible to go in any other way but wickedness (cf. Is. 65:2).
The proper fear of God is the divide. Those who have no fear of God have “ceased to be wise and to do good.” (v. 3). They actually take some time to reflect on how they can practice evil-they “devise wickedness” on their beds (cf. Pr. 4:16; Mic. 2:1). The godly are on the polar opposite of this spectrum (cf. Ps. 4:4; 63:6). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Pr. 1:7, cf. 9:10; 15:33; Job 28:28; Eccl. 12:13) “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” (Ps. 111:10)
It is not to oneself that the godly look-“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”(Rom. 3:23, cf. Rom. 3:10ff. Note Paul’s quote of v. 1 at 3:18). Rather, the godly look to the LORD, the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD, for mercy. “A special word in Hebrew, signifying the loving devotion in which God binds Himself to His people. It indicates His lovingkindness toward those with whom He is in covenant relationship. This word recurs throughout Psalms, showing that it is a book of covenantal prayers.” (New Geneva Study Bible, p. 791) His faithfulness, righteousness, and judgments are what the saints look to (vv. 5-6). These are at the very foundation of all that exists.
The covenant making and covenant keeping LORD is our kinsmen-redeemer, under whose wings we take refuge (v. 7 cf. Ruth 2:12;). This is our God. There are indeed multiple covenant terms in the psalms and in this one in particular, including the reference to His lovingkindness (v. 7, 10). In his passage on the promise of the new covenant, Jeremiah speaks of the faithful remnant who found grace in the wilderness, God’s rest, as being drawn with His lovingkindness (31:1-3). It continues to those who know Him. This word ‘know’ is also a covenantal term. It speaks to being in covenant with the LORD, and it is the ultimate promise of the new covenant administration of the covenant of grace (31:33-34).
Lovingkindness is like a covenantal twin sister to God’s faithfulness. “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night.” (Ps. 92:1-2) So shall it be characteristic of Messiah’s reign (Ps. 89:1-4). And in the scriptures mountains speak to rule and reign-and for the saints His righteousness rules-“like the great mountains.” (v. 6). And David knew something of the promise of God’s house-the focus of the LORD’s covenant administration with him (II Sam. 7) ”They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house.”
“And You give them drink from the river of your pleasures.” (v. 8) I wonder how many reflect on drinking from the river of the LORD’s pleasures? Many know the first part of the answer to the shorter catechism Q 1, but forget the latter-to enjoy Him forever. This is covenant life! “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.” The light goes on for us when we go to the LORD for the revelation which He gives. There really is no conflict of visions. One is light the other is the blindness of darkness. And it is just this pride which men have in their own thoughts and imaginations which becomes they’re downfall.
“Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.” (v. 11) The foot of pride is the death knell of grace. The humble fear the LORD and are wise. The fool trusts in his own imagination, and in pride meets his downfall. Man committed only to his own devices has to inescapably retreat to self-deception, for the verdict of truth is clear-all have sinned. The covenant people, on the other hand, will forever drink from the river of His pleasures, as the recipients of His grace.
Psalm 37 The LORD Upholds.
It is tempting to be envious of others when they prosper (v. 1 cf. 73:3). The course of the wise is rather to fear God (Pr. 23:17). The point is, the prosperity of the wicked is fleeting (v. 2 cf. Pr. 24:19). It cannot be stressed enough that it is not prosperity seeking which is wrong, it is envying those who acquire their riches through wickedness. Those who prosper through wickedness will not last (v. 36). Rather, those who fear God and delight in Him, trusting in Him and His faithfulness, will have the desires of their heart-without wickedness, and it will be lasting (vv. 3-4). The saints should seek to prosper in righteousness and justice, which comes when we commit our way to Him (vv. 5-6).
“Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him.” (v. 7 cf. v. 34) This should be easier knowing that the LORD will ultimately “cut off” all evildoers (v. 9 cf. v. 38). “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret-it only causes harm.” Wrath and fretting only harm those who harbor it, we are to leave vengeance with the LORD (Lev. 19:18; Dt. 32:35; Rom. 12:19). Ultimately, it is those who wait on the LORD who will inherit the earth forever (vv. 9-11, 29, 34), “and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (v. 11 cf. v. 37). The wicked have their plans, but the LORD laughs at them, “for He sees that his day is coming (vv. 12-13).
The wicked aim at the poor, needy, and upright, but they will suffer the end of their own devices (vv. 14-15). Ultimately it is better to have little but know the LORD, then to have riches with wickedness (vv. 16-17). There is an inheritance of the upright which is forever (v. 18). But even in this life, the upright will be satisfied (v. 19), while “the enemies of the LORD…vanish away.” (v. 20). This is the point-they are the enemies of the LORD first, and this is why they are the enemies of the upright. It is also why we avoid vengeance-with our own sin it is far too easy to misplace our anger. It is an issue of God’s vengeance on His enemies.
Blessing and cursing-this is the great divide (vv. 21-22). A good man might fall, but will not be utterly cast off, because His trust is in the LORD (vv. 23-24). The descendants of a covenantal man are blessed, but those of the wicked are “cut off.” (v. 28 cf. v. 34) The good and righteous man lends and gives, whereas “the wicked borrows and does not repay.” (v. 21 cf. v. 26) This is the key-for the righteous, “the law of God is in his heart.” (v. 33) The law-word of the LORD is the first axiom of all thought and existence, and for the righteous it is found in the heart, the core of a person. Everything flows from the heart. It is for this reason, and this reason alone, that “the righteous speaks wisdom.”
“But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD.” (v. 39) Ultimately the righteous are such because they are saved. “He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the LORD shall help them and deliver them.” (v. 40 cf. Ps. 22:4; Is. 31:5; ) We trust in Him and His salvation. For those who wait on the LORD there is no condemnation (v. 33 cf. Ps. 34:22). This psalm is what may be called one of the wisdom psalms, and it shares a unique acrostic structure-with each stanza beginning with successive letters of the alphabet. Besides being poetic and a possible aid to memory, some suggest it denotes a complete treatment of a subject. Whatever the case may be, the message is clear-look to the word, and the salvation of the LORD, and leave vengeance to Him.
Psalm 38 In You, O LORD, I Hope.
The LORD’s judgments pierce to the core, the heart (vv. 8, 10). It is a humbling experience (vv. 1-2, 6). It is foolish to sin against the LORD (v. 5). Sin arouses His anger and causes us distress (vv. 3-4, 7, 9) Even friends and relatives stand aloof (v. 11), and there is no shortage of enemies seeking to take advantage (v. 12). They plan deception, but we are deaf and speechless (vv. 12-14) Sometimes one’s sin cannot be denied, but enemies will exploit this, even if the sin is not against them (v. 19). Some people are our enemies because we do good. That good may in fact be the acknowledgment that we, like them, are sinners in need of forgiveness (v. 20).
The LORD is our salvation (v. 22), so the psalmist is not hopeless. David knows that God will listen to a heart humbled by the knowledge of it’s own sin (vv. 15, 17-18). He can bring the desire of our enemies to nothing (v. 16). The LORD, the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD, is our God. Therefore David prays to not be forsaken. It is a covenantal prayer for the LORD to keep him by keeping the covenant (vv. 21-22). “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (II Cor. 7:10 cf. Pss. 32:5; 51:3)
Psalm 39 A Prayer For Wisdom And Forgiveness.
Sometimes the wisest course of action is to remain silent. In the presence of the wicked even speaking that which is good is a bad thing (vv. 1-2). But eventually David could hold his peace no longer (v. 3). Numbering one’s days is a humbling experience, because it is God who determines them (v. 4). It is the way of the wise (cf. 90:12). David sought humility-man is a vapor or a shadow. What a man has accumulated will simply be passed on to another (vv. 4-6). Then there are times when we are silent because we are guilty. But because David’s hope was in the LORD-he prayed for deliverance (vv. 7-9).
Sin is a plague (v. 10). What beauty a man has melts away under the weight of iniquity and the Lord’s judgment (v. 11). Though he was silent for a time, David eventually prays, and he prays that God would not be silent. All men are strangers to God (v. 12). Sin has made it that way. He is holy. This is why David does not want the LORD to look upon him (v. 13). It goes back to the garden (Gen. 3:8). So his only hope was that the LORD would deliver him from all his transgressions (vv. 7-8). This was his simple hope and prayer. It is a prayer to the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD.
Psalm 40 “The LORD Be Magnified.”
“I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry.” (v. 1) Some things only happen when one waits patiently. We all have to wait. Not all of us all the time can do it patiently. But when one is waiting on the LORD, patience is both required, and rewarded. God’s timing is often not ours. We often want instant answers, when patience is what is required. David was delivered from a deep and slippery place-no place to go and to unsure a footing to get anywhere anyway. From this he was made to stand upon a rock with his steps established-secure with a future and direction (v. 2).
“He has put a new song in my mouth-praise to our God.” (v. 3) “A new song.” Not a song about a pit and mire, a song about deliverance from a pit and mire to standing on a rock with a future. The LORD is his God and object of praise. “Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD.” (v. 3) One can hope, as did David, that the LORD’s work in one’s life will lead others to also trust in Him. There is a lesson here-our lives are always a testimony to our covenant LORD. It is a blessed position to be in (v. 4). Blessedness comes to those who are humble and speak the truth. Hence, David “does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.” (v. 4)
David thinks upon both the works and words of the LORD. Men often speak a lot of words about works, many which are never done. The LORD’s works are done, and they are wonderful. And His thoughts were not just general-but they were thoughts toward His people (v. 5), -thoughts of salvation and deliverance (vv. 2, 16-17). Also thoughts, wonderful thoughts, of the Messiah to come. “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; my ears you have opened.” (v. 6) God did command sacrifice, but obedience is really what He desired and required. Ears open, both represents the whole body (the translation found in the Septuagint used in Heb. 10:5-7), but also the willingness to listen and do.
Sacrifices were not instituted as something the LORD needed but as something man required. However, without obedience they were futile (Ps. 50:9-10; Is. 1). God’s law written in the heart is what He desired. Jesus accepted it as the Father’s will that He go to the cross (Mt. 26:39). “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (Jn. 4:34 cf. 6:38, 17:4, 19:30). Jesus has “proclaimed the good news of righteousness.” (v. 9) He has declared His faithfulness, salvation, lovingkindness and truth (v. 10). It was too these that David looked in need, for his iniquities had overtaken him (v. 12). He needed the LORD’s tender mercies (v. 11). He needed help and deliverance (v. 13).
David’s enemies were also taking advantage of his own sin, wishing upon him further evil. For this, He prays that God would bring them to mutual confusion and dishonour, being confounded by their shame (vv. 13-15). The LORD’s salvation is what is needed. In this the saints rejoice and are glad (v.16). It is not in one’s own work, not even the most religious of works, in which the saints put their hope. We are poor and needy (v. 17). It is the LORD looking upon us to deliver us that brings joy and gladness. Waiting patiently and praying for His help, is the life of His saints.
Psalm 41 Blessed Be The LORD God!
Those who are blessed consider the poor. ‘Blessed’ is the key word (v. 1). Those who are blessed know that all they have comes from God, so it is really a matter of being a good steward. The LORD looks after such as these, and He continues to bless them in the earth (v. 2). The LORD will be there when sickness comes (v. 3). And the blessed know they are sinners who need forgiveness (v.4). Our enemies delight to take advantage of our own failings of course. These are people who visit one’s sickbed only to take advantage-hiding their intentions while they visit, only to proceed with their plans when they leave (v.5), to devise one’s hurt (v. 6).
Like Job’s friends, these are people who dismiss others by suggesting they deserve the sickness (v. 7 cf. Job 19:19). For some, it justifies in their minds, not offering assistance. And in this context we find the infamous words of verse 9. “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” David had his Ahithophel (II Sam. 15:12). Sometimes it is fellow church members (Ps. 55:12-14), and those who were in covenant (Ps. 55:20). Jeremiah wasn’t popular with many (20:10). For this reason Micah issued a cautionary not (7:5). And then there was Judas (Mt. 26:14-16, 21-25, 47-50; Jn. 13:18, 21-30; Acts 1:16-17).
We need the LORD’s mercy (v. 10). Those who know His mercy ultimately triumph (v. 11). His mercy upholds us in our integrity-this isn’t something we could do in our own strength (v. 12). The blessed are not those who take pride in themselves and their own works, but in the LORD’s mercy, which sustains us. It is an eternal hope-in the presence of the LORD forever. His mercy is the beginning, middle, and end of the life of the blessed. “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and amen.” (v. 13)