I will praise Him!
A song of ascents.
LORD, remember David
and all his self-denial.
He swore an oath to the LORD,
he made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
“I will not enter my house
or go to my bed,
I will allow no sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
till I find a place for the LORD,
a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
(Psalm 132:1-5, NIV)
I will praise Him!
A psalm of David.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
(Psalm 23:5-6, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 22
For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.”
A psalm of David.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him, since he delights in him” (NIV).
Do you believe in prophecy?
Psalm 22 is the most graphic description of Christ’s crucifixion found anywhere in the Bible. Yet here it is—tucked away among the Psalms—written roughly 900 years before the birth of Christ. How can this be? During David’s time, crucifixion as a form of execution had not yet been invented. Furthermore, crucifixion is portrayed from the victim’s point of view—Jesus’ point of view.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These are the words of Jesus on the cross and they form the opening line of this psalm. Of course, Jesus knew he was quoting this psalm when he cried out in anguish.
But did his arrogant mockers know that they too were fulfilling scriptural prophecy as they hurled their insults, “He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” These words from Psalm 22 find an uncanny parallel in the verbal abuse thrown at Jesus in Matthew 27:43 where we read, “He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
Remarkably, David saw it all. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he beheld the cross nine centuries in advance. I believe in prophecies to come because of prophecies fulfilled.
Response: Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to this cruel world to suffer on my behalf. Thank you that I can put my trust in Your Holy Word. It was, is and will be forever true and trustworthy. Amen.
Your Turn: Why do you have confidence in God’s word?
Reading: Psalm 21
Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies;
your right hand will seize your foes.
When you appear for battle,
you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace.
The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath,
and his fire will consume them.
You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
their posterity from mankind.
Though they plot evil against you
and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed.
You will make them turn their backs
when you aim at them with drawn bow.
Be exalted in your strength, LORD;
we will sing and praise your might (NIV).
I have a confession to make. The overall title of my blog is I Love the Psalms! But there are some psalms where the fondness runs very thin. That’s the case with this psalm portion. The pacifist side of me gets very uncomfortable with all this talk of God’s wrath burning like a consuming fire. My reasoning goes something like this: If God gets angry with others; I might be the next one dropped in the toaster.
In this psalm David paints a portrait of the LORD as a warrior. I’m not so sure I want to see the LORD as a fearsome warrior. I prefer to see Him as a gentle shepherd—the Good Shepherd—not a God of vengeance firing arrows at His foes. But if I have my way—if I see Him only as a meek shepherd—do I have a right picture of the LORD? Am I blind to an important side of His character? Is He both a warrior and a shepherd?
I can be guilty of shaping God according to my image—the likeness I prefer. But the god I create is not the true God. The true God is always greater, more awesome, fear-provoking, and loving than I can possibly imagine. Words on a page fall short—always fall far short—when we attempt to describe God.
As for this world, it’s inhabited by evil men. Some are heinously evil—monsters in human skin. Others by the mercy of God are filled with kindness. A measure of the grace of God is extended even to those who do not know Him. If God refused to rain judgment on the perpetrators of evil would He still be a good God? If this world were perfect, would we still long for heaven?
Who am I to judge God? Who am I to find fault with my Creator and His ways? Here is the conclusion: Ride on in the battle against evil, Warrior King. Shelter me in your arms, Good Shepherd.
Response: Heavenly Father, I confess I have an incomplete picture of you. I can never grasp or comprehend your fullness. I bow before you, LORD Almighty. In humility I worship you, the magnificent and perfect, I AM. Amen.
Your Turn: Has your picture of God changed over time? Has it become more biblically accurate?
Reading: Psalm 19
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth (NIV).
When was the last time you went for a walk beneath a canopy of stars? Now, I’m not talking about catching a fleeting glimpse of a dozen or so stars, obscured by the incessant glare of city street lights. I’m talking about walking beneath a canopy of stars, visible in their myriads, stretching from horizon to horizon. Now that’s a truly awe inspiring experience!
That’s where David begins this Psalm. He begins it beneath the stars. He begins it beneath a sky so big it reduces any who behold it to a mere speck of insignificance—a speck below the glorious vastness above. Can you see him standing there—the youthful shepherd, on the Judean hillside, gazing into the face of eternity?
And eternity is talking. The sky is talking to him. What is it saying? Can you hear its words? David can. He hears it pouring forth speech. And it’s not just the night sky that’s talking to him. The heavens are speaking continually, day and night. This is an endless conversation heard around the world.
You see the sky speaks in a language understood by all. Who has not stopped and stood in wonder at the sight of a dazzling sunset, marvelled at the shafts of light beaming down from behind a thunderhead, been amazed by the appearance of a rainbow, or perhaps you have seen the aurora whirl and dance across the northern sky?
These experiences are universal. They are available to all, on every continent, in every nation, to every language and people group. The sky is talking. Are you listening? Do you understand the words?
Response: Heavenly Father, help me hear your voice speaking to me in nature. Open my eyes and my ears to the glory of your creation. You are more wonderful than I can imagine. I praise you for all your marvelous works. Amen.
Your Turn: Does God speak to you through the beauty of nature? Have you paused recently to wonder at the majesty of His creation?
Reading: Psalm 18
The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be God my Savior!
He is the God who avenges me,
who subdues nations under me,
who saves me from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
from a violent man you rescued me.
Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations;
I will sing the praises of your name.
He gives his king great victories;
he shows unfailing love to his anointed,
to David and to his descendants forever (NIV).
The joyful exuberance of the opening lines of this final reading from Psalm 18 is well worth reflecting upon. David exults, “The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!”
To my thinking, there’s nothing quite as dead as a rock. But here in the same breath, David praises the living LORD, his Rock and his Savior. Living rock seems to be a contradiction in terms, but our God is very much alive. He was alive and active in David’s life, and He is alive and active in your life as well—as active and alive as you allow Him to be.
But the LORD also wants to be the Rock of stability in your life—the solid foundation from which you draw strength. A life anchored in God can withstand the storms of adversity and the test of time. The LORD is that stalwart mainstay that actively trains us for eternity.
Most importantly, our LORD saves. He saved David from all of his troubles. It was God’s intervention in David’s life that brought him the victory time after time. God was not content to sit in heaven and cheer from the sidelines. The LORD got involved in David’s life. He responded repeatedly to David’s cries for mercy and help.
If David had ample reasons to praise God and be thankful, we who live on this side of the cross, under the new covenant, have far more grounds for praise. God intervened directly for us. We have a Savior in Jesus, who left his throne in glory. He put His own skin in the game. The Father sent His one and only Son to live as a man, and then suffer and die on our behalf. And Jesus did not remain dead. God the Father raised him from the dead. Now with David we can say, “The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!”
Response: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus. Thank you for his life, his death and his resurrection. I love you, Lord Jesus. You are the living Rock on which I can build my life. Through you I am more than a conqueror. Holy Spirit help me live this day in praise of my Savior. Amen.
Your Turn: Is the LORD your living Rock? Has He been your help? Has Jesus become your Savior? How will you honor Him today?
Reading: Psalm 18
I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
I crushed them so that they could not rise;
they fell beneath my feet.
You armed me with strength for battle;
you humbled my adversaries before me.
You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
and I destroyed my foes.
They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—
to the LORD, but he did not answer.
I beat them as fine as windblown dust;
I trampled them like mud in the streets.
You have delivered me from the attacks of the people;
you have made me the head of nations.
People I did not know now serve me, foreigners cower before me;
as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
They all lose heart; they come trembling from their strongholds (NIV).
Why do you enjoy sports? Why do you take pride in seeing your home team win? The answer is really quite simple: Inside you beats the heart of a warrior. I can deny that I have a warrior spirit, but in reality there’s a competitive, fighting spirit written into my DNA. It’s in your DNA too. In fact, that warrior spirit is essential to your success and survival.
David had an abundant supply of testosterone fuelled warrior spirit, and in the psalm portion above, we see it on full display. David was a fighter and every competitive warrior signals his triumph. You do as well. This psalm was part of David’s victory celebration. For a scientific discussion of human response in moments of victory visit: Olympic victors‘ first reaction is dominance, not pride | TIME.com
For me as a follower of Jesus the question is not, do I have a warrior spirit? The question is how will I direct that warrior’s heart into a path that is pleasing to my heavenly Father?
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ twelve disciples turned the world upside down. Their response to Satan’s attacks was not merely defensive. Through prayer and proclamation they took souls captive to the obedience of Christ. The apostle Paul declares, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere (2 Corinthians 2:14). Paul was a triumphant warrior in the spiritual realm. David was triumphant in the natural realm. What about you?
Response: Heavenly Father, help me rise up as a spiritual warrior for you today. Help me to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Jesus everywhere. Through the power of Christ I know that I am more than a conqueror. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you personally gaining ground in the spiritual battle all around you?
Reading: Psalm 17
They close up their callous hearts,
and their mouths speak with arrogance.
They have tracked me down; they now surround me,
with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.
They are like a lion hungry for prey,
like a fierce lion crouching in cover.
Rise up, LORD, confront them, bring them down;
with your sword rescue me from the wicked.
By your hand save me from such people, LORD,
from those of this world whose reward is in this life.
May what you have stored up for the wicked fill their bellies;
may their children gorge themselves on it,
and may there be leftovers for their little ones.
As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face;
when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness (NIV).
In this world there are those who have a callous heart—a heart that is indifferent to our pain, and the suffering of others. Here in Psalm 17, David finds himself surrounded by such people—people who were ready and willing to tear him down. This is a very difficult place to find yourself. This is why David cries out to the LORD for vindication. Earlier in this Psalm he pleads, “Let my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right.”
David’s response in this very trying situation is highly instructive. He does not try to defend himself. He does not plan a personal counterattack. He has no personal plan for revenge. What tactic does he use? He calls out to the LORD, “Rise up, LORD, confront them, bring them down; with your sword rescue me from the wicked.”
David, the mighty warrior, refuses to use his own sword. Instead he calls on the LORD to draw His sword and rise to his defense. That takes a lot of faith and a lot of trust in God. When surrounded and attacked my natural response is to rise up in hostile indignation. I’m inclined to counterattack with all guns blazing. But David held his peace. He did not rely on his abilities. He fled to God. There he lay out his complaint and asked God to intervene. When King Saul maliciously attacked him, David did not seek revenge. He allowed the LORD to take up his cause and deal with Saul. See 1 Samuel 26.
David’s confidence was fully in the LORD. Finally in this psalm, he declares his confidence with these words: As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.
How confident are you in God’s saving intervention on your behalf?
Response: Heavenly Father, help me to seek vindication from you. Help me put my troubles in your hands. Rise up and come to my defense. Today, I trust in you to act on my behalf. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you seek revenge when others have hurt you? Have you asked God to intervene?