February 18, 2015.
Daily Reading: Psalm 18-20.
Background: Psalm 15-17.
Concepts and Connections.
The Lord is the Rock, the Deliverer: The words of this Psalm can also be found in their entirety (verses 2-50 at least) in II Samuel 22, as it is recorded as David’s out pouring of praise after the Lord had delivered him from all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. Though the comment about Saul may seem a little out of place in II Samuel 22, David’s early life was full of adversity and his fleeing from King Saul likely left a large impact on the young man, which he was reminded of when other enemies fought against him during his reign as king. However, just as the Lord had delivered him from the hand of Saul, so had he delivered him from all of his enemies, and for that David writes this psalm of praise, commemorating all the great works that the Lord had done for Him and proclaiming His glory to all who would hear. It is clear that David didn’t only go to God when he needed something or was in a troublesome situation, but also after God delivered him from the situation. We too need to remember not only to ask God for help, but also praise Him when He delivers, for His name is worthy to be praised at all times.
As we look more deeply into this psalm, we start to see the vivid imagery that David uses to describe the fear that the environment around him produced and the sense of hopelessness that the situation provided for him. However, when the Lord rises from His temple after He had heard the plea from David, then the earth quakes and the mountains tremble at the anger of the Lord and His power to deliver David out of the hands of his enemies. We see all power and strength attributed to the Lord, and a firm confidence in His hand. “For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?” There is only one God, and through Him we are equipped with strength to endure all of our trials and tribulations. It is not through our own strength, but through His strength. Paul makes a similar appeal in Romans 8:31-39, asking the question, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
David also comments on why the Lord is gracious to him, because he has kept His statutes and walked in His way. Of course this doesn’t mean that David never sinned (see II Samuel 11-12), but rather it is to say that David continually walked in the path of the Lord, striving to keep the faith. The same holds true for us; if we are walking in the light, then the blood of Christ continually cleanses us of our sins (see I John 1:5-10). The Lord looks on His children with love, and He will be our strength and deliverer. Let us ever praise His name.
1. The heavens declare the glory of God: This psalm that is attributed to David is split into two sections with a short prayer-like call at the end. The first section pertains to the general revelation of God, as the work of His hands can been seen through nature. This is one reason why the psalmist can say elsewhere “The fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no god.'” (see Psalm 14:1 and 53:1). The general revelation of God has been given to all nations of the world through the marvelous works of nature and from the moral law within. Paul talks about this general revelation, arguing that because of it, those who do not believe in God have no excuse to not believe in Him, for His divine nature has been clearly seen since the creation (see Romans 1:18-23). There have been many philosophers that have come to this conclusion without the special revelation of God though His law and His prophets, for they have looked out at the world, the heavens and nature itself, and logically concluded that there must be a divine being that started it all. When we look out to this beautiful world, we should see God. We should see His power, His beauty and His intricacies. The prophets use this concept of the Lord stretching out the heavens to attribute glory and power to His divine name quite often (see the context surrounding Isaiah 42:5, 44:24, 45:12, 51:13, Jeremiah 10:12, 51:15, and Zechariah 12:1). God uses nature to point to His glory when He answers Job out of the whirlwind (see Job 38-42). As we can see, the heavens really do declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims His handiwork.
2. The law of the Lord is perfect: The second section of this psalm deals more with the special revelation that God had given to His people, the children of Israel. David starts out by declaring that the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. Many times throughout the psalms is the law the subject of honor. Psalm 119 is almost entirely about the love of the law and meditating therein. There was a deep love and respect for the law that the Lord had given to the children of Israel, because it was a privilege to them. The Lord had chosen the seed of Abraham, through Isaac and further through Jacob, to bless all the nations of the earth. He had chosen the children of Israel to receive a revelation of righteousness that the rest of the nations of the world did not receive at this time. The law was a blessing, not a hinderance to the people, and the psalmists understood this, praising the Lord for His graciousness and righteousness. David’s psalm here is no different, praising the law for its glory and perfection, and painting a picture of desire for the law, which is sweeter than the honeycomb. Sometimes we look at the commands of God, the law of Christ (see I Corinthians 9:21 and Galatians 6:2), as burden or a hinderance to satisfying our worldly desired. However, we should look at it in a different perspective, closer to how the psalmists saw the words of God, as a blessing, a special revelation, that will lead to life and godliness (see II Peter 1:3). Jesus came so that we might be made alive, to have life and to have it more abundantly (see John 10:10). Let us rejoice in His will.
3. Words of the mouth and meditation of the heart: The psalmist ends the psalm with a prayer to the Lord, that the words of his mouth and the mediation of his heart be acceptable in the sight of the Lord, who was his Rock and Redeemer. David seemed very conscious of his relationship with the Lord, and he wanted to walk correctly in the paths that the Lord was leading Him down. There is a lot of humility in this statement, as it is somewhat of a plea for mercy and wisdom. There is much to be said about mediation in the word. It can bring joy and understanding, as well as a deeper faith in the Lord God almighty. Let us ever dwell in His Spirit, as He is too our Rock and Redeemer.
Blessings and trust: If you read through this psalm, you may notice that the first five verses are a wishing of blessings from the Lord on the audience of the psalmist. Knowing that all good things come from above (see James 1:17-18), the psalmist calls on the only power in the universe who can really originate any of theses blessings for us, and he seeks the favor of the Lord that he might bless those who hear with protection, support, salvation and fulfillment. Then the psalmist switches to describe the ultimate faith and trust that he has in the Lord, a faith that all men should have. He describes the faith that some put in horses and chariots as opposed to putting their faith in the Lord. One one power will stand when conflict arises, and it is in Him we should put our trust, not in our own power or the power of our nation. Those who trust in the power of men will fall. But those who trust in the power of God will stand.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Job 12-14.
Praise the Lord, who is worthy of blessings, riches and honor.