What are you supposed to do when you feel you are a million miles from God? There is no sense of His presence and your situation is one where you are hurting badly. Where do you turn? The answer from Psalm 61 may surprise you when you read it today.
David wrote the 61st Psalm at the inspiration of God – even though he felt like he was at the end of the earth – and God was thousands of miles away. Actually, David was not more than 50 miles from Jerusalem. The problem was that he felt like he was at the ends of the earth from God Himself. He was running from his son Absalom, who wanted to kill him and be king in his place. So the “ends of the earth” statement is more a spiritual description – or maybe an emotional one. Regardless of this David felt a world amount of distance from God. Who did David turn to at this point? He turned to God.
One of the first things we need to remember when we “feel” a million miles from God is that this is how we “feel” – it is not a hard, cold fact. So the best thing to do is to tell God in prayer how we feel. That is what David did. He cried out to God and called to him – even though he felt like he was calling from the ends of the earth. If we allow emotional reasoning to keep us from God, we are going to wind up feeling even more hopeless. But, on the other hand, if we don’t own up to how we feel, I seriously doubt we will get much of anywhere with God.
Let’s be honest. God is omniscient. It is not like He is clueless as to our thinking. So what we need to start with is to cry out to Him, letting Him know honestly where we are at the moment. That is what David did.
“Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint . . . “
He said he felt like this when his heart was “faint.” The Hebrew word here refers to something that is covered over and around and under. David’s heart was so covered with his situation that he could not see. But even if he was at the end of the earth – he was going to call on God.
His next statement is the source of many Christian songs. “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” What a beautiful prayer. He knew at the “ends of the earth” he was not going to get to God on his own. So he cries out for God to lead him. God is the rock that is higher. God was stability and strength. He was higher and infinitely more stable than David. So David asked for God to bring him to where the Rock was located.
In the next several verses of Psalm 61 David begins remembering Who God is. This is not the first time he’s been in a difficult situation – and God has come through every time. He remembers that God is his refuge – his tower of strength – his shelter. So David asks for God to bring him to His “tent.” This is a reference to the tabernacle – the place in Jerusalem where God dwelt between the Cherubim on top of the Ark. God was not limited to there – but in the history of Israel – God was more than able to take care of Himself and His stuff from there. When men rebelled against God and Moses – God wiped the entire group out as fire went out from His presence and killed every one of them. When a couple of drunken priests wanted to defile the worship place of God with their drunken stupor – God struck both of them dead with fire that consumed them. The lesson learned for all time – do not mess with God in the tent! David asked to be brought there – forever! This was also the place where God’s presence dwelt – and so what David was truly asking for was to be in God’s presence forever – for he knew that was the safest place on earth – or honestly – anywhere!
As David prayed . . . as David meditated on Who God is . . . his heart was no longer smothered over by his circumstances. He was no longer a slave to his feelings and emotional reasoning. This was replaced by Biblical reasoning. David stops and writes, “selah” which means basically – stop and consider what I’ve said. From this point – the entire psalm changes in perspective and in attitude. David speaks for the rest of the psalm about how God has heard him and what God is going to do.
God has heard me! God has given me the inheritance of those who fear Him! These are David’s first cries of joy! What a delight to know God has heard us – especially when we formerly thought God was a million miles away. And – since we have feared God and turned to Him in the midst of wanting to give up – God is going to bless us with a wealth of blessing. At this point David begins to speak boldly of what God IS going to do! David says, “I’m going to live!” But then David begins speaking in ways that are beyond what a mere man could receive.
David is speaking by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration – and at this point the Holy Spirit begins speaking of the Messiah. He will live forever. He will remain before God forever. Grace and truth will be preserved through Him. These are all blessings that will come through Jesus Christ. John said in his gospel that grace and truth would be realized through Jesus!
David closes the psalm by saying he wants to praise God forever – and to live before God in obedience day by day. That is where God brings us when we turn to Him. He brings us to Himself – and to His grace. He brings us to promises that have been made in the Word of God. He brings us to His ultimate promise which is the Messiah – Jesus Himself. What a blessing.
Some may wonder why God would allow us to be in such a place. But I have a bigger statement to make. God leads us to such a place! He has purposed for us to come to the point where we feel a million miles away. His purpose in it is not to damage our faith or our spiritual walk – but to enhance it. Read these words God led Paul to write about God’s work in him and his associates.
”For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:7-11
What is God’s purpose in allowing us to get to where David was? It is so that we will despair in our own living where we trust in ourselves and instead trust in God who raises the dead. It is so we will look to God to be the One who delivered us – who will deliver us – and who yet will deliver us! His other purpose is to not only engage in prayer the one who is dealing with the problem – but so that many persons will be engaged in prayer as well. Then as we watch God do what only God can do – we will praise God Who alone should be the One to be praised.
Feeling a million miles from God? Yeah – God has you right where He wants you. Its where He had David – and look what He did in him?
Verses 1-4 How lovely are Your dwelling places, O LORD of hosts! My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, My King and my God. How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Selah.
Question: Do you long for the courts of God - the place where He is worshipped?
The psalmist remembered the place of worship - i.e. here the temple. He LONGED and YEARNED for God. His heart and flesh sang for joy to the living God! He considered those who were there blessed as they were ever praising God there!
Does this describe us as we consider worship - as we consider gathering with God’s people each Sunday. Yes, I know this referred to the Temple and to worship there - but is not worship with the saints the nearest equivalent to it? Do we LONG and YEARN for those times? Do we consider those who are singing and praising God to be so very blessed?
I don’t know about you as you read this - but I was rebuked and realized that this did not - and even now does not describe how I approach worship with the saints. But by God’s grace - and some serious repentance it WILL NOT be how I approach this coming Sunday with all of you as we meet to seek God.
Verses 5-7 How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; The early rain also covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength, Every one of them appears before God in Zion.
Question: How do you walk out of and back into the place of worship?
The psalmist speaks of how we walk out of the worship of God - and how we walk through the world as a result of it. What the psalmist is saying here is that as we walk through worship - God makes our hearts strong so He can walk through us into our world as we depart.
There are “highways to Zion” in the true worshipper’s heart. The worship of God in the temple led to a heart where there was a highway to God. Zion refers to Jerusalem - the place where they went to corporately worship God - and seek Him - and know Him - and even be made right with Him when they sinned.
Here is how practical this gets. The worshipper of God passes through life - here it is called the “valley of Baca.” The word “Baca” means weeping or troublesome place. What is said about it is that the one who worships God - and in whose heart a highway to Zion is laid as a result - they take the valley of trouble and weeping and turn it into a spring where the water wells up and bubbles out of the earth.
Does your worship lead you to walk through your week with a highway to God in your heart. Does it lead to a highway where you can see God take even your most troublesome moments - your weeping moments - and turn them to a spring of water?
Does your worship lead you to go from “strength to strength” as you walk in the world? The picture here is that of God strengthening you for the week ahead - that you may face difficulty and sorrow - even trials and troubles - but you go from event to event in God’s strengthening. That highway to Zion is there so that you can run to the Lord and receive His strength to handle these things. Is this true of you?
The end of this section is that as they go from strength to strength - they eventually appear before God in Zion again. This is a picture of that HIGHWAY again - we are learning to live a life that turns to God! And - even as we walk it - we are led again and again to return to seek God afresh and anew.
Is this true of us? When I looked at this - again I was reminded to repent and return to
Him. That IS what I want - a worship so focused that I turn to Him for strength to strength as I walk through this world - and that I return to Zion again to worship Him all over again - because He is so good and so faithful.
Verses 8-12 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah. Behold our shield, O God, And look upon the face of Your anointed. For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in You!
Question: Do we consider a single day with God better than a thousand anywhere else?
The psalmist prays and desires God’s answer. He desires to see God’s face (know His favor). He states that a single day in the courts of God in worship and seeking and hearing Him - is better than a 1000 spent anywhere else. If the place of worship and seeking God with His people is a 1000 times better than anywhere else in the world - how do you think we would think about worship?
The psalmist also considers God as the sun which shines on him - the shield which protects him - He recounts God giving him grace and glory. He contemplates the good that God has given him. His eventual thought is that God does not withhold any good thing from the ones who walk with Him uprightly.
His finishing statement is that the man who trusts God - is indeed blessed.
Do I walk away from worship corporately with the saints - and think - HANDS DOWN THIS IS A THOUSAND TIMES BETTER THAN ANYTHING ELSE!
I had to face this psalm with a good bit of red-faced embarrassment. But it was not something that happened that was bad - it was wonderful! I was reminded of how it should be - and what it can be if I come and approach worship with the saints before God as an amazing - wonderful - amazing thing. My hope is that with the repentance this psalm has offered me from God - I will respond - and that my view of the worship of God with His people in the church will be greatly elevated. It is my hope I will see it as a thousand times better than anything else imaginable.
One of the most interesting things about the Psalms is that most of them are not purely praise. The average person, if asked what the Psalms are, would probably think that they are songs of praise to God. The Psalms are compositions of praise to God - but they are more than that. They are songs that were sung to God on a myriad of occasions involving just about every kind of emotion and situation. Psalm 9 is one of the psalms that fit this kind of description. It begins with praise to God, but then quickly turns to how God has delivered the psalmist from past situations of peril and danger - then does another turn to a prayer for God’s future deliverance. Let’s take a closer look at a Psalm that should give us great confidence in our God as the One who has delivered us - and who will deliver us because of His great mercy and compassion.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
David begins with four “I will” statements that open this song to God. This should remind us that a true heart of worship is not an emotional thing - it is a choice. We are to choose to thank God. We are to choose to tell of all God’s wonders. We are to choose to be glad and exult in God. We are to choose to sing praise to the name of God Most High. These are not options for us - to be entered into when we feel like it. They are to be regular choices for the child of God who recognizes that Jehovah is worthy to be praised at any time and in any circumstance.
David begins with giving thanks to Jehovah. Often thanksgiving for God’s blessings is a good way to start when we worship Him. Psalm 100 reminds us to enter His gates with thanksgiving - and then enter His courts with praise. Taking a few moments to consider what God has done should be enough to fill our minds with all the ways we should thank God. Take for instance the ground upon which you walk, or the air you are currently breathing. Who is responsible for that? God is, for He created it all. Then remind yourself that according to Psalm 139 you were knit together in your mother’s womb by His hand and formed by His mighty power. If this is not enough remind yourself that you’ve eaten food - or enjoyed a sunset - been amazed at the stars in the sky - or enjoyed the warmth of the sun. Yep - all by His hand and because of His provision. Then think of grander things like your salvation by His grace. The provision of righteousness through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ that has been gifted to you by God. Consider that you have a Bible in your hand or your home - something that has only existed since the printing press - and even then was often opposed and would result in punishment by an anti-God government (by the way there are still governments all over the globe who continue to see the Scriptures as dangerous - and as contraband). All these things are reasons to thank God. David also gives a qualifier in his thanks to God. It is with all his heart. This is not an exercise in “having” to say thank you to God - like you may have had to thank someone as a child being prompted by good parents. This should be an overflow of our hearts as we consider the riches of God’s kindness, goodness, and love.
David’s next step is to tell of all God’s wonders. There are the wonders of His creation - which scientists will continue to examine and will never exhaust. There are the wonders of the heavens - stars, planets, solar systems, galaxies, asteroids, supernovas, and the wonders of a universe we can’t even measure yet. There are the wonders of the human body - for we are fearfully and wonderfully made. There are the wonders of this earth with its array of animals and plants - which we have not fully catalogued. There is the wonder of God’s mighty works and the miracles He has wrought among all the peoples of the earth. And if this is not enough - there is the infinite wonder of His person and attributes. He is holy. He is good, He is kind. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He is to be feared. He is to be loved. He is to be gazed at with infinite wonder and amazement. And the list could go on as infinitely and eternally as both time and space could ever offer. Oh the wonders of His plans and purposes that could blow our minds. The wonder of a God who can know the heart of every person - their every word before it comes out of their mouth - and the motive that is behind their every action and attitude. Truly God is a God of wonders and how we should think on them and praise Him for them.
David’s third choice is to be glad and exult in God. The word glad is the Hebrew word “samah” which means to rejoice, be joyful, to be glad, even to gloat over how God is the ultimate. The word has the idea of a state of happy and agitated rejoicing. What a fascinating concept that is to consider. We are to be glad in God! We are to choose to rejoice and be joyful - to be glad and to gloat over all other things (other stuff, other false gods, other worldviews, and even other reasons to be happy and glad). We are to choose to be in a state of agitation - but not agitated toward anger or resentment or frustration. No! There should be an agitation of our minds and thoughts to where we are almost over stimulated to rejoice and be happy in God and His plans and purposes for us. There is a second word used here, “exult.” The word is “alats” or “alas” which means to be jubilant in rejoicing. Strongs Concordance says that the word means, “to jump for joy, be joyful and rejoice.” Seeing these two words reminds me that praise and worship is a choice - and when we consider God’s deliverance both past and future - we should jump for joy in a gladness based in God’s infinite goodness and superiority over all things.
The fourth and final “I will” David employs is that he chooses to sing praise to the name of the Most High. There is a single word for the phrase “sing praise” in the Hebrew. It is the word “zamar” which means to play an instrument or to sing with musical accompaniment to God using instruments like a harp, lyre, tambourine, cymbals, and even loud cymbals. The sound of singing to God with musical accompaniment on instruments is not only spoken of in the Psalms, it is commanded in many of them. The content of such songs is to praise the name of the Most High. The word “name” has the idea not just of any name, but that of a famous name. It is a name that when heard touts the fame of the one mentioned. Here it is the name of Elyon - the most High. The word indicates not just one who is high - but the very highest of all. The musical song praises Jehovah’s famous name - and sings of how He is highest of all - with none greater and all infinitely inferior to Him.
David certainly kicks off this song of praise in high gear. Yet don’t mistake his words for a mere emotional outburst that lasts only as long as the music in the service keeps playing. What David is very clear about here is that whether he is in high spirits or feeling lower than a snake belly in a wagon rut - he chooses to praise God. This is a WILLFUL thing - not just an emotional one. Thus we can learn from him that any time is a good time to “I will” some praise to God. It is a choice we are to make - and make no mistake about it - we will not regret making that choice.
The Song of Psalm 8
Oh the glories of God’s hand,
A ground upon which man can stand,
And look with wonder at all he sees,
Moon and stars made by majestic decree.
Oh the thoughts of who is man,
Bearer of God’s Image was the plan,
Dominion over creatures both large and small,
Yet rebellion and sin destroying it all.
Oh the humbling of the very One,
Maker of man, earth, sky, and sun,
Suffering wrath and sin’s bitter cup,
Encased in a tomb for death to corrupt.
Oh the shaking of the ground,
Sounds of death’s defeat, oh glorious sound,
An opened tomb, an empty grave,
Crowned with honor and glory He rises to save.
Oh the grace that is given to man,
Oh the glory of His eternal plan,
Oh the song that through heaven will ring,
How majestic His name for all ages we’ll sing.
by John F. Lawrence
What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? 5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! 6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, 7 All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, 8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:4-9, NASB
The third question answered by the psalmist in Psalm 8 is this, “What is man?” The context of his question is considering man in light of the heavens - the moon and the stars of the firmament. Think on this for a moment as you get your mind into the right frame to think as the psalmist did. The following is from Jon Courson’s commentary on the Bible.
If the sun were hollowed out, one million three hundred thousand earths could fit inside. But the sun is small compared to the star, Anteres, because if Anteres were hollow, it could hold sixty-four million suns. Anteres, however, is nothing compared to the star, Hercules, which, if hollow, could hold one hundred million Anteres. Yet the star, Epsilon, dwarfs Anteres, for if it were hollow, it could hold three million Hercules.
The numbers involved in comparing earth to the star Hercules are pretty much beyond our understanding. It would be multiplying 1,300,000 X 64,000,000 X 100,000,000. That number written out is 832,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. That is 832 septillion earths could fit inside the star Antares. I’m afraid we are not capable of honestly assessing how big that number is. But . . . it is something we should consider when thinking about one human on the face of one of those 832 septillion earths that it would take to fill up just 1 star in God’s created universe. Pretty insignificant is what we would have to surmise when thinking about this.
That is what the psalmist is thinking - what is man in light of the universe? The God Whose creative genius and power made this earth with only His words - is far greater and more astounding than even Anteres. Yet God does take thought of mankind. Yet, says the psalmist, You, God, have made Him a little lower than God. When we truly consider this, we are left with our mouths hanging open. God made us to be image bearers! We can know Him and respond to Him - and even reflect His glory in our lives. We are truly crowned with glory and majesty.
In verses 6 and 7 we see all that God intended for man to do. We were made not just as image bearers, but also as co-regents with God to rule over this earth. All that is no the earth is put under mankind’s feet - with a list of sheep and oxen first as domesticated animals - and then the beasts of the field - birds of the heavens - and all sea creatures as well. That is how we were originally made. It is enough to make the psalmist repeat what He said at the beginning of the psalm about how Jehovah, our ruler has a majestic name in all the earth.
If we were not to have the New Testament - this would simply be a song that reminds us to praise God for His person - His creation - and for His wonderful gift of life and dominion to mankind. But even without the New Testament this rings a little hollow to those who live on earth now. It is hard to consider that we rule over the beasts of the field when we are terrified of many of them who are predators. Allow a man to happen on a grizzly bear or one of the huge cats like a lion or tiger - and our thoughts don’t turn to mastery - but rather to terror at what they can do to us. The same is true when we face great whales, killer whales, or sharks in the seas. And let’s not even get started with what nature can do - with things like tornados, hurricanes, lightning, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. It certainly does NOT look like we “rule” over all things. But then we are reminded of sin and the Fall of mankind.
We did rule over all things at one time. Then we chose sin rather than obedience and fellowship with God. We decided we could run the earth better than God. We wanted to be our own god - making our own rules and doing things as we see fit to do them. The end of that foolish experiment is the world in which we live today.
Psalm 8 - in fact this very part of Psalm 8 is quoted in Hebrews 2:5-8 where we read this:
For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has testified somewhere, saying, "WHAT IS MAN, THAT YOU REMEMBER HIM? OR THE SON OF MAN, THAT YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT HIM? "YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS; YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR, AND HAVE APPOINTED HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET." For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.
We certainly do not see all things subjected to him - to man. But why does the writer of Hebrews quote Psalm 8 then? It is because he is about to tell us what we DO see at this present time.
But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9
What we DO SEE is JESUS! We see Him made a little lower than the angels. Jesus Christ is God - fully God - and yet He was made a little lower than the angels when He came in the incarnation. He is the God-man - perfect God and yet man. He humbled Himself as a man - and subjected Himself to suffering and death. He chose to pay the penalty that we deserved because we had sinned. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus also “tasted death for everyone.” He faced not just death in general - but death as the punishment for sin. It is because of this that Jesus was crowned with glory and honor. You can read it all in Philippians chapter 2, verses 5 through 10. And it was because of this death that the grace of God was given to us. Salvation from the certainty of God’s wrath poured out in punishment for our sinful rebellion against Him.
So we ask again, in light of the second chapter of Hebrews, the question of this psalm - What is man? The answer is both beautiful and majestic as well as horrific and tragic. The answer is both devastating and fear-inducing as well as astounding and that which should cause us to worship our Lord Jesus Christ for all eternity. Man is the special creation of God, crowned with glory and majesty and given wonderful dominion over all God has made in this world. Man is also an infinitely tragic figure as he chose to throw it all away for a lie that he could be as God. Man is encased in a world that now reminds him daily that he has lost his exalted position, as death, destruction, decay, and ultimately damnation is his lot left to himself. But - by the grace of God - and by One Who was made a little lower than the angels, even though He is God - there is the hope of redeeming grace. There is One Who has suffered and died the death man deserves - so that man may by grace receive a life he does not deserve.
Psalm 8, as we have already seen, is a wonderful song of praise to God. In it there are answers to some questions that have piqued the interest of humankind since its creation. Last time we looked at the first of those questions, “Who is God?” In this second installment we will look at the second question answered for us. That question is “What is the Universe?”
This second question is answered in the process of asking the third one which is, “What is man?” As the psalmist prepares to pose this question, he does so in the context of the heavens, which he refers to as the moon and the stars. That is where we will camp out for our study today.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
The Psalmist, having started with God Himself, sees all things in a God-centric way. The heavens are referred to as “Your heavens.” They belong to God because they are “the work of Your fingers.” This is an anthropomorphism, because God is Spirit and has no fingers. Yet it is a clear statement that God is the maker of the universe - the heavens, the moon and the stars.
When we turn to Genesis and the creation of the universe and all that is in it, we see that God spoke and the world came to be. The book of Hebrews reiterates this point when we read there the following:
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. Hebrews 11:3
God made this universe by the authority and power of His word and His command. He created it out of nothing, using no previously known substances. It exists because of His command and His will and desire. The psalmist refers to the “moon and the stars, which You have ordained.” The word “ordain” here means to place and set up, so we see that God has not only made all things - but the place where they are set in the scope and expanse of the universe is His design and handiwork. Another word that should interest us is the word “heavens” which is plural. The idea communicated by the Hebrew here is that the heavens themselves are beyond our ability to see. With the deployment of space telescopes like the Hubble Telescope and the future James Webb Space Telescope we have been and will be able to see deep into the heavens. It seems that the same desire that the psalmist had still exists in the mind of humankind. The only difference is that the psalmist approached such things with a holy awe - modern scientific man has decided there is no God and contemplates his existence on that basis.
The psalmist considered the heavens. The word used here means to see something - but also came to mean the process of mental observation and the thinking that was stimulated by it. It is clear, as stated earlier, that the psalmist is God-centric in his thinking. It is His heavens. God made it and we are simply His creation in the midst of it. The psalmists considerations did not produce the arrogance of the current day which denies God - opting instead for blind chance to have led to all that we see and are. His considerations produced humility in his heart. He looked at a vastness in the heavens and began to see how small and insignificant he was in it. Since God created all that there is - and since His splendor is beyond the heavens themselves - the psalmist could only bow in worship and adoration of a God so great and powerful. His response was to wonder at God Who has revealed Himself to us. The creation itself sings His praises - speaking of His greatness, His creativity, His power, His majesty, His glory, and a trillion other worthy things that only touch the fringe of Who He is. Such considerations do not lead the psalmist to think great thoughts of himself, but rather puts him in his place as a tiny, minuscule piece of a universe filled with the moon and the stars.
Our knowledge that we’ve gathered today should render us even more amazed at the glory and majesty of our God. We think we know so much more than the primitive man who wrote these glorious words. But our combined knowledge of the universe is such a mere pittance of what can be known. Even our telescopes are blind to certain segments of the universe and cannot even see them. We don’t even know the first part of the small blue orb on which we travel through the heavens. But our knowledge has led us to lift ourselves up - at least enough to deny the existence of our God. We have become educated enough to become fools, exchanging the glory of the incorruptible God for an image of our own making and thinking. We are not humbled or thankful - giving praise to the One Who made all this with His infinite wisdom and power. We even are arrogant enough to reject His ultimate revelation of Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, the God Man. Precious few are those who have taken their knowledge and used it to humble themselves in the sight of God. When I consider such things I have to wonder just who is the primitive one and who is the wise man.
The answer to the question, “What is the Universe” is simple. It is His heavens - His moon - His stars. It is the creation of God which when considered in its vastness and glorious majesty should cause us to humble ourselves and wonder why our God would choose to reveal Himself to such sinful, arrogant, and prideful people. The heavens are declaring the glory of God each and every day. The contemplation of them was meant to make us bow before their Creator in humble, self-effacing worship. What about you? When you consider the heavens, the moon and the stars of the universe, what is your response? Do you worship the pride and arrogance of man who sees it all as a random accident - and who then decides he has no one to thank - no one to worship - except himself and his own desires? Or . . . do you see the glorious design - the powerful hand - the infinite wisdom of the God Who made it all - AND - Who for some unimaginable reason has chosen to reveal Himself and His great love for you in this midst of it?
Question #1 - Who is God?
Psalm 8 is one of the psalms that just rises above others. This is not because it is more important than others, but probably because the economy of language which it uses to express the greatness of God. This psalm is such a blessing as it helps us to answer three important questions.
Who is God?
O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
The first question the Psalmist addresses is the one, “Who is God?” He answers it by addressing God Himself. O Jehovah, our Lord, is how he begins. Jehovah of course is the name by which God made Himself known to Moses and to Israel. The name is actually the statement, “I am that I am.” It is a statement of self-existence that is dependent on nothing or no one. God is! He has always been and He will always be. He is the self-existent One Who reveals Himself.
When we speak in theological terms - and seek to describe an infinite (limitless) and eternal (timeless or outside of time) God, we almost instantly become a little uncomfortable. Ours is the day of self-expression and the ultimate autonomy of the self. One might even say the deification of the self. But there is a huge problem with our enthroning of self over ourselves. We are utterly dependent on other things. Our autonomy is an infinite overstatement. Take away air - we die. Take away water - we die. Take away food - we die. Alter the placement of earth either a little closer to the sun - we burn up. Alter it further away - we freeze. Allow something as microscopically minute as a virus (invisible to the naked eye) - we die. We are anything but autonomous. But our arrogance boasts of an imaginary independence.
Would we like to know true autonomy? Jehovah, the self-existent One comes to mind. He has always been - and indeed is completely outside of time. He made time - and then chose to step into time (though utterly unaffected by it) so that we could grasp what He was doing as He created all that there is. He does not require anything to exist and to thrive. He is life and existence. Consider any of the millions of things we need to exist and thrive - and none of them apply to Jehovah. He exists in an infinite present tense viewing all of time and space as He is in it, through it, and unaffected by it. But He is referred to as more than just Jehovah in this passage. He is Jehovah our Lord. The word used here is Adonai. Adonai means Lord, Master, Maker, Owner. The self-existent God is also our maker, master, and owner. Here is where an understanding of God definitely will separate from how our culture views things today. It is hard to declare your own autonomy when you are just a creature made by God - owned by God - and in rebellion against the fact that you are ruled by Him as well. I can hear the howls, “I am not ruled by anyone! I am my own person, and I make my own choices!” Such as statement is as ridiculous as the claims made by the Jews to Jesus when He said if they sinned, they were slaves of sin. They cried then (as we do now), “We are Abraham’s children and not slaves to anyone!” If I were making of movie of this, I’d have a small contingent of the occupying Roman military walk by. They had been slaves to just about everyone! Babylon, Assyria, Persia, Greece, and now Rome. The fact is that we are owned by God. We should submit to His rule and reign - but we continue in Adamic rebellion even to this very day. What we may perceive as God’s inaction as to His rule and reign is actually mercy. We should be consumed for our rebellion - and yet mercy reigns daily - as well as grace, which is given so that rebellious sinners may come to repentance and faith and be delivered from the current status as “children of wrath.”
The psalmist exclaims, “Oh Jehovah, our Master, Maker, and Ruler, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!” Saying that God’s name is majestic means that He is excellent, lofty, and above any other. There is no other name on earth - nor will there ever be one - that can match His name. They all fall infinitely short. His majesty is not even completely describable by appealing to the vastness and power of the heavens themselves. God has displayed His splendor above the heavens themselves. The word displayed means to set something somewhere - to place it. God, being the creator of all things, set the heavens and all their contents in place. But His own splendor (Hebrew word “hod” meaning vigor, authority, and majesty) is above the heavens. But this is not a stretch as the maker of something is always far greater than the thing made. Thus God’s vigor (physical power), His authority to set things where and how He commands, and the majesty, excellence, loftiness of it all is beyond the heavens themselves. The heavens are the scene where His splendor is seen - because earth is not a sufficient gallery for such things to be displayed.
2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.
Another way that the question, “Who is God?” is answered is by examining His strength. When you are omnipotent (all-powerful), which God is, you can display your strength any way you want. Yet, according to the psalmist, God manifests His strength through one of the weakest things on earth.
Consider the following scenario. A battle royal is set between God and the greatest champions the world can gather. All the enemies of God, as well as all who desire revenge against Him for some perceived wrong are gathered. From the midst of this sea of earthly greatness and power the most muscular, the most powerful, and the most gifted of all fighters emerge - all ready for the ultimate fight of their lives. What an astounding crew of humanity stands before us. That is the corner of the enemies of God and those seeking revenge against Him. Then we turn our eyes to God’s corner. We can only imagine the colossus that will greet our eyes that is representative of God’s power. Then in shock we see a group of infants and nursing babies. They lie on the canvass and wiggle their hands and feet - unable to even get themselves upright. Yet what will shock us even more is the beat down that will be imposed upon the champions of mankind. God has established strength from the mouths of infants and nursing babes. Their dependence upon God is total and absolute. Yet it is this very weakness and utter dependence that will win the day. God will make the enemy and revengeful cease via the power He will display through absolute weakness. For God chooses the weak things of the world to shame the wise. He chooses the things that are not to shame the things that are. In the end when the bell rings - it will be the babes and nursing infants who will prevail. Why? Because God’s power is infinite - and He can and will win the day with the very weakest of things imaginable.
This answers another aspect of the question, “Who is God?” He is the mighty and powerful one - infinitely mighty and powerful. There are none who can stand before Him. They are like chaff, which His wind blows away. All of mankind gathered together with all their strength and might are nothing - in fact - less than nothing before Him. Good to remember when we take flight into the fancies of our own autonomy and ability to establish our own will opposed to His. This is why later in the Psalm the writer seems to be gazing into the night sky and suddenly realizing how very small he is in light of this incredible God.
Who is God? That is actually the most important question that we will ever ask. As A. W. Tozer so eloquently stated, the most important thing about us is what we believe about God. The psalmist in this 8th Psalm has not be exhaustive on such matters, but his brief praise of God goes a long way to dispel many false concepts and notions of just Who God is.
There are times when what you truly need is to take your eyes off of all the mess that is happening on earth and just focus on Who God is. A. W. Tozer said that the most important thing about any of us is what we believe about God. This is why Psalm 29 is such a gift to us from God Himself. It is a Psalm that has no other focus except God alone. With that in mind, let’s dig in and put our eyes on Him for a while.
David begins with a call for God to be praised in the highest realms. Here are his words. Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in holy array. (Psalm 29:1-2, NASB)
David wanted Jehovah God to be described in reference to His glory and strength. But he is commanding that the “sons of the mighty” do this. Who are these “sons of the mighty?” The Hebrew says that they are sons of El – which is the Hebrew word for God. Sons of God in the Old Testament Scriptures is another name for angels. But why would David be calling for angels to praise God? It is because he knew that his own praise would not be sufficient for such an infinite, glorious, and mighty God. Therefore he calls for angels to join him in his praise of Jehovah – a thing that they would be more than delighted to do. He asks for them to describe God in reference to His glory – the brightness and heaviness of Who He is. He also asks for them to describe God in reference to His strength. The word used here is “oz” and it refers to strength both outward and inwardly. God is mighty in power as well as mighty in the glorious inward strength of character and inward perfections that are infinite as well. Jehovah’s name is also to be given glory. He is the self-existent One who reveals Himself – the great I Am – God Who knows no bounds or limits – infinite and eternal. Finally, David requests that the angels wrap themselves in God’s holiness and worship Him. The word worship means to fall on one’s knees or to lay totally prostrate before another in praise and adoration. Our God is so great and awesome that all the holy angels should give Him worship, adoration and praise for how glorious, strong, and inwardly perfect He is!
Next, David begins to speak of God’s power experienced in a storm that he describes as it moves from the Mediteranean Sea through Lebanon and then over Israel. He calls for Jehovah God to be praised for His works on the earth. One of the things we need to grasp in Psalm 29 is that this is poetry. It is meant to be read and felt. It was fascinating in my research to learn that often this Psalm was read both in the synagogue and the church during a raging storm. Charles Spurgeon wrote this about how we should approach the 29th Psalm:
“'Just as the eighth psalm is to be read by moonlight, when the stars are bright, as the nineteenth needs the rays of the rising sun to bring out its beauty, so this can be best rehearsed beneath the black wing of tempest, by the glare of the lightning, or amid that dubious dusk which heralds the war of elements. The verses march to the tune of thunderbolts. God is everywhere conspicuous, and all the earth is hushed by the majesty of his presence.”
The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders, The LORD is over many waters. 4 The voice of the LORD is powerful, The voice of the LORD is majestic. 5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; Yes, the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, And Sirion like a young wild ox. 7 The voice of the LORD hews out flames of fire. 8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; The LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the LORD makes the deer to calve And strips the forests bare; And in His temple everything says, "Glory!" (Psalm 29:3-9, NASB)
As David describes this approaching storm, He refers to the sound and effect of it in reference to the “voice of Jehovah.” He first speaks of the approaching storm with two references to “waters.” The first is a reference to the clouds and it speaks of how they are boiling and how the thunder resounds through them. He speaks of how the God of glory thunders. Then he speaks of the Lord over many waters – a reference to how the Mediteranean Sea was driven and tossed as waves crashed and the wind drove the waters toward the shore. Jehovah’s voice is majestic in the midst of the storm. Storm imagery is common in Scripture. God revealed Himself often in them with Moses and Israel at Sinai, with Samuel, Elijah, Job, and many of the prophets. The arrival of a major storm can be an astounding and intimidating thing. I find it fascinating that when storms hit even today they are described by insurance companies as an “act of God.” Indeed!
When the storm arrives in Lebanon and then Israel David’s descriptions continue. Mighty cedar trees in Lebanon are broken and shattered in pieces. Other trees are stripped bare. The entire country of Lebanon and their highest peak Sirion (which is another name for Mount Hermon) are described as writhing, bucking calves and wild oxen. As the winds blow and surge through the mountainous region the mountains themselves seem to writhe and twist and turn as the trees are whipped around and even destroyed by the power that is unleashed in the storm. The wilderness shakes and shudders under the blast of God’s nostrils as the storm continues through Israel and then into the wilderness to the south. Deer give birth in the tempest and entire forests are stripped bare. And as they watch and hunker down in the temple – all those who see the power of God cry, “Glory!” as they are given a front row seat to the power and majesty of God.
Man prides himself on his accomplishments and feats. Yet there is nothing like the humility that a storm brings to mankind. We cannot stop them – and we cannot adequately prepare everyone for them. As I wrote this piece the Caribbean was still trying to put things back together after Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record. She pounded the island nations of the Caribbean with sustained winds of 185 miles an hour. Several meterologists came together to try to describe the power unleashed by this massive storm. Their estimate was that as this hurricane was at a Category 5 level – she packed 7 trillion watts of power. They went on to say that this was greater than the equivalent of all the bombs dropped during World War II. When I read that I gasped. I remember watching footage of Flying Fortresses dropping hundreds of bombs at a time – leveling entire cities. I remember the pictures of the fireball that enveloped Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And yet, all that power manifested in WWII was matched by God with one storm. Kind of puts man in his place doesn’t it?
David puts a fitting close to this Psalm of praise to Jehovah God. He has spoken of glory to God in heaven – glory to God on the earth – and now he will speak of glory to God among men. Here are his words, “The LORD sat as King at the flood; Yes, the LORD sits as King forever. The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:10-11, NASB)
The God of the storm can seem terrifying. Some might even thing the storm is out of control – but that is not the truth. David continues by telling us that Jehovah sat as King at the flood. Of all the storms ever experienced in the history of mankind on earth – none was as great and terrifying as that of the flood of Noah’s day. We were awed when a hurricane was stranded over southeast Texas and dropped 50 inches of rain over certain areas. But we are not talking about a measly 50 inch rain storm. We are speaking of enough rain and water to reach far past the highest peaks of the earth – thousands of feet of water. If there ever was a time to think that nothing and no one was in control – that would have been it. Yet God sat as King over the flood. His sovereignty knows no bounds or limits. He also sits as King forever, according to His revelation here through David. That is a very comforting (although I agree, also terrifying) thought. There is NOTHING that has happened (i.e. the flood) or ever will happen (i.e. what you are currently freaking out over) that is beyond God’s sovereignty and control. He is in, through, above, and beyond every storm, whether it is physical or emotional or spiritual. There is no financial storm – no personal storm – no national storm over which He is not Lord. Therefore, there is nothing or no one I should fear or honor more than Him.
David ends Psalm 29 on a beautiful note of praise. This praise is in reference to this mighty, all-powerful God and how He deals with His own people. Jehovah God will give strength to His people. This is the word “oz” again which, if you remember, refers not just to outward strength – but also inward strength. This God who can make earth itself writhe and buck like a wild ox is there to grant to you the strength you need every day! What a glorious thing to know – especially after seeing a God Whose glory and might is seen in terrifying and humbling ways in a major storm. There is nothing you will ever face in life that is beyond Him. There is nothing you will ever have to walk through for which He does not have not just adequate – but super-abounding strength (both inwardly and outwardly) from which you can draw. Lastly, David reminds us that Jehovah will also give His people peace. He will bless us with peace. The word here is the Hebrew word “shalom” which refers to a wholeness, a soundness, a completeness from God. It is also a reminder that the sweet peace that guards our hearts and minds is a gift from Him.
Let me end this look at God with this. The greatest storm you and I will ever face is to stand before this infinitely powerful God on the day of judgment to give an account before Him of our lives. The storm that has been and is still currently gathering that will be unleashed on that day is far beyond anything can ever describe. It will be the full unleashing of the fury and wrath of God against sin. On that day, if we have nothing that will speak for our sins – and that will make us acceptable to God with a perfect righteousness – we will face that storm with nothing to protect us. Only two times in history will this wrath and full measure of God’s holy fury ever be released. One is after the final judgment on that final day. The other happened about 2000 years ago outside Jerusalem. You see that storm gathered in all its full rage as Jesus gave Himself to be crucified on the cross. He then bore the full brunt of the wrath of God against sin – a storm infinite in its power and passionate ferocity. Jesus faced that storm and paid the full price for sin for us. It is a thought that is beyond our comprehension as to the love that was given. But the fact remains – He gave it. We do not have to face that storm alone or unprotected. God offers us life and the only shelter from it – which is found in Jesus Christ. Jehovah God Himself will give His people peace! What a glorious fact! Oh that we would hear the sirens – heed the flags that warn of this impending storm. Oh that we would awaken to our utterly unprotected state – and flee to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for refuge. The very One who revealed Himself to us in the storm – bore the full brunt of that storm – so that we might have life and shelter from it. What will you do? How else can you prepare? What other Shelter is there than Christ Jesus our Lord?
In the world of music we have types of music like country, rock, alternative, blues, and rap just to name a few. We also have kinds of songs like ballads, anthems, love songs, all with their various ways of communicating what is being said. The Psalm we are looking at today has the title, “A Shiggaion of David.” This musical term refers to a reeling, weaving, or veering. What it refers to is a type of song that expressed strong emotion that shifts from place to place as the psalm moves along its path. This particular psalm is one in which David first calls for help from the Lord – and then as he weaves his way along his emotionally charged cry to God – he eventually calls for God’s judgment
O LORD my God, in You I have taken refuge; save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me, or he will tear my soul like a lion, dragging me away, while there is none to deliver. Psalm 7:1-2
David’s call for help is very real. Saul was trying to kill him – so the words referring to a lion dragging him away and tearing him limb from limb is not an exaggeration. Although David refers to having his “soul” torn. That refers to the mental anguish that often accompanies times of stress and difficulty in our lives. He speaks of being dragged away while there is none to deliver him. He is being chased down and feels as if the lion’s breath is hot on his neck as he is being hunted. His call is for God to act as he takes refuge in the Lord. He cries out for “saving” – the word here speaking interestingly of being given space. How often have we faced difficulty and trouble and felt like everything is coming in on us. We feel a moral, mental, and even physical claustrophobia, as everything seems to be tightening around us. It is in those times when God offers us relief and grace to handle things.
O LORD my God, if I have done this, if there is injustice in my hands, if I have rewarded evil to my friend, or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary, let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it; and let him trample my life down to the ground and lay my glory in the dust. Selah. Psalm 7:3-5
But David’s cry for help is for more than just deliverance from his enemies. He also recognizes that often HE is his own worst enemy. That is why he also cries for God’s grace in discerning whether or not he has acted ungodly. He is concerned that his own heart may have acted unjustly. He may have treated a friend in an evil manner – or even plundered an enemy without cause to do so. His loves his Lord enough to ask for his own judgment if he deserves it. So when some freak out at David’s call for God’s judgment on the wicked later – they need to see that he began with himself before ever turning to their actions and attitudes. Oh that we would follow his example and examine our own hearts before calling for a spotlight to be shown on our detractor’s actions.
Arise, O LORD, in Your anger; lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries, and arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment. Let the assembly of the peoples encompass You, and over them return on high. The LORD judges the peoples; vindicate me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me. O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; for the righteous God tries the hearts and minds. My shield is with God, Who saves the upright in heart. God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day. Psalm 7:6-11
David then cries for God’s action against the ungodly. We may struggle with this because we wrongly think that this is not godly. The reason many think this is because they don’t understand the justice and righteousness of God. The term used by theologians for these parts of psalms is that they are imprecatory. What this means is that they represent God speaking through the psalmist and describing what should be done against sin. Fortunately for us God exercises mercy and forbearance far more often than He does wrath and judgment. This does not mean He is not wrathful against sin and that judgment is not just in every case. It simply means He does not manifest that wrath in the moment of the sin. That should catch your attention because God is just – and His justice HAS to be satisfied. The judgment that sin deserves is ALWAYS meted out – for if it was not, then God is not just – or His justice is a joke. It might come as a surprise to some to know that every last bit of the wrath of God has been paid in full. It ultimately came upon His Son Jesus Christ on the cross.
David calls for God to come in his anger against the way his enemies rage against him. He reminds God that He has appointed judgment – and that He will judge those who are guilty and vindicate those who have remained true to Him. He calls for God to save him – but bring upon the ungodly that are coming after him true righteous judgment. There is a phrase that should arrest our attention in verse 11. David reminds God that He is a righteous Judge – as well as a God who is indignant every day. This word, “indignant” means to be enraged and it is used with another word that refers to a kind of snorting with the nostrils in fury and anger. Note here that David reveals God as One who is indignantly enraged with the wicked. Too often we take the grace of God for granted and represent God as a tamed, benevolent grandpa who wouldn’t hurt a flea. But please know that God is holy and righteous. Because His righteous ways are ignored – and His holiness downplayed (or honestly even mocked by many) – His wrath hangs heavy over mankind with nothing holding it back but His infinite mercies. Were He to truly loose His wrath – it would consume us quicker than a toothpick thrown into the sun itself. But before one judges David for such language and requests – note that there is an alternative.
If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready. He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons; He makes His arrows fiery shafts. Behold, he travails with wickedness, And he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood. He has dug a pit and hollowed it out, and has fallen into the hole which he made. His mischief will return upon his own head, And his violence will descend upon his own pate. I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. Psalm 7:12-17
David absolutely prays for God to judge the ungodly. But note that he also offers an alternative. There is repentance – which by the way is the wise and humble response to God’s wrath. David offers it in a warning – with God making preparation for His wrath. He also warns about the foolishness of walking in wickedness and falsehood. God will bring that evil upon the head of the one who practices it – and those who love violence will see their own lives end in a violent fashion. But remember – God has been gracious enough not to respond in instant wrath – but has made a way by having His wrath fall on His Son – while offering us forgiveness.
David ends this song singing of God’s righteousness and the worthiness of His name. Such a cry for God’s help and for His judgment is something we may not see much of today – and yet this prayer is perfectly in order before God.
So what can we learn from this prayer and song of David? First we learn that we can call on God in those moments when it seems like the entire world is against us as we follow Him. But we do so making sure that we actually are living for Him. The second lesson is that God is a holy God and He is indignant every day with the sin and wickedness of this perverse fallen world. That doesn’t play well in our society today – but in all honesty it is not because God is as fault in the matter. Men continue to dishonor and disobey God daily. Regardless of what society now calls acceptable – God’s stance on sin has not and will not change. What we are reminded of then is to pray for people to repent. We are reminded to pray for men to repent before God’s arrows of wrath and released in all their fury. In the end it will not be the consensus of public opinion that will be lifted up – but His name and His righteousness. This is a sobering and true reminder to hold fast to Him and His ways regardless of what the world says or does to us.
Have you ever been concerned that godly men seem to be disappearing from our landscape? Ever get discouraged because the crassness and craven words that seem to be dominating the airwaves and print media? Do you ever begin to lose heart because it seems the only ones who are getting ahead are those who use their mouths and words in such a way as to crush those who are in their path? Well, if you’ve ever felt this way – there is good news. A man who was going through the same thing wrote psalm 12.
David was discouraged. He cried out to God in the midst of his circumstances saying the following: “Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases to be, for the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. 2 They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak. 3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, The tongue that speaks great things; 4 Who have said, "With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?"
David watched as godly men were disappearing from the scene. The word he uses to describe these men has the idea of being like the Lord in his character – but it emphasizes the idea of kindness. These men were fading from the scene, as were faithful men. Where were the men of character and kindness who inspired confidence and gave stability to the society around them. They may not even have been popular for their godly, holy views and yet, the depth of their character and the way they lived stabilized things. The problem was – Saul was the leader – and he encouraged ungodliness in the people. He was only interested in his own power and was willing even to murder the priests of God if he thought for a moment that they were against him.
David also watched as leaders arose who ruled with their words. First of all they spoke falsehood and flattery. They said one thing that would flatter you publically, but privately they were weaving a deceptive web to destroy you. Saul confessed sin in chasing David and trying to kill him. He even wept when David confronted him with it. Yet within a very short time Saul was hunting David again. The literal Hebrew in David’s cry to God was that these men “spoke with a heart and another heart.” This was the habit of Saul to speak with one heart – and yet would have another heart that was completely different from his public statements. He was double-hearted, hypocritical man. The men David watched who were in power – boasted that they would prevail with their tongues. Just their speaking would produce heroic things. They thought themselves invincible with their mouths and their speeches. They would say whatever they wanted. No one would be able to take them down. If someone were foolish enough to try, they would lash him or her with their words and tongue like someone whipping a man until he was crushed and destroyed.
David’s cries for help did not fall on deaf ears. God heard David and spoke. He assured David that He was the protector of the afflicted and needy when He said this,
“Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, Now I will arise," says the LORD; "I will set him in the safety for which he longs.”
It is a sweet thing it when God speaks and comforts our souls this way. The first comfort to us is that He has seen what is going on in the world. God speaks of the devastation of the afflicted – the words here describe a violent devastation. He not only hears our prayers – he even hears our groans under such violent oppression. David then reminds himself that God’s words are pure. In fact they are purer than anything imaginable. He speaks of silver refined seven times in a furnace. The beauty in that picture is that no smelter of silver would go through that process more than 3 or 4 times. At that point, one could not get the silver purer because the height of purity would have been reached. Yet David speaks of something smelted 7 times, the number of perfection in the Scriptures. That is because God’s Word is more pure that the purest substance on earth. There is absolutely no impurity in the promises of God – they are true and faithful to the end. This is why David praises God, knowing that when God makes a promise, He will keep His Word. Such a promise to David speaks not just to his generation – but also to all succeeding generations forever. They all can rely on God’s Word as their help in time of trouble and their hope in the most hopeless of moments.
Even as David finishes this song to God with confidence he ends it with another reality. We live in a Genesis 3 world where the fallen state of man and the devastation it brought to this earth will remain until this world passes away. Those who look merely to human rulers will be disappointed. The world around us is devolving in sin through every generation. The reason for the devolution of man and every political system by which he seeks to govern himself – sin.
There is vileness in this world that began with Adam and will not end until the last trumpet is sounded. Jesus put it in these words, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. (John 3:19, NASB) Evil is not static. We are reminded in Romans 1:32, “. . . although men know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but give hearty approval to those who practice them.” Is it interesting that hundreds of years after David wrote this Psalm, Paul says pretty much the same thing in the New Testament?
There is a vileness that is exalted among the sons of men. The Hebrew word David uses is expansive in its meaning. It speaks of that which is worthless and sinful. It speaks of something contemptible to God both morally and socially, and it usually involves both shameful excesses of ungodliness as well as a complete and total worthlessness to all those around. Vile indeed expresses what God sees as godless men think they reign unrestrained with their mouths and their words. When these wicked men rule – they strut. They boast of their wickedness and say that no one rules over them. Such is the world until Christ returns. An unfortunate reality is that as the years hasten to the day He does return – the wickedness of such vile strutting leaders will increase. Right will be called wrong – evil will be embraced as good. It will pave the way for the “man of sin,” the antichrist. He will be the ultimate vile, strutting ruler – boasting in himself, and even one day taking his seat in the midst of the temple of God – boasting that he is god. But he will be the last of the vile, sin-advancing rulers of this present world. He will be overcome and devastated by the sword that comes out of the mouth of Christ. That phrase simply means that the Word of God (called the sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 6) is what will win the day. The victory will be enjoyed by those who put their trust in a silver sword forged 7 times in the fire – free from impurity – powerful in its every statement – and more than strong enough to deal with “the” wicked ruler – and every one of his imitators down through the ages. Trust in that word, children of the King. He spoke it – and He will arise and lift you to the safety for which you long.
Pastor John Lawrence
Psalms for Life . . . God moved on several people to write the Psalms. This is a book of songs and poems written by people who were seeking to be devoted to God as they walked though their lives. This is a collection of songs and poems that express the true, wonderful, and often raw emotions that we have as we journey through life with God. I hope you will be blessed and encouraged as you read. But more than that I hope that these expositions and writings will help you to seek Him in the midst of the life you live in this world. It will be at times comforting and encouraging, while at others it will be challenging and awkward. Regardless of where you find yourself on this spectrum as you read, it will be a reminder that God invites us into His presence to truly walk with Him, know Him, and at times, pour out emotions of joy, sorrow, frustration, anger, and everything else you can imagine. He not only invites you to do this - He delights in it too! Hope you enjoy your journey!