Psalm 63 (Part Three)

I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory (63:2 NIV).

Verses two through eight presents five vital experiences of the saints (those set apart for God, which is a basic idea about true believers.) Each of us should seek to know each of these experiences in an increasing measure. Salvation is not some kind of “fire insurance policy” but the experience of eternal life with God that begins now. Each ideally will develop in an increasing measure. The five experiences are:

  • God’s glory
  • Praise
  • Satisfaction
  • Meditation
  • Trust

Unfortunately, some approach the Bible and its message with mere intellectual curiosity. They like to hear “steps for successful living” or how to be prosperous or moral or have a happy family or whatever quest they’re into. The Bible becomes a manual that provides a philosophy for life or counsel about how to get through their problems. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones said years ago, they have “taken up” Christianity, but Christianity has never taken hold of them. To them, it is practical information without spiritual transformation. This psalm does not permit such an approach. It speaks of the person whom the true and living God has “taken up”. Against a barren assent or knowledge, this psalm tells us of spiritual experience with God as the center, as the great desire of the heart. King David’s purpose in this song is to shout out that God himself may be known!

It is important to remember that David lived during the time when the law or old covenant governed a person’s approach to God. His worship had to be through physical means like sacrifices offered at an altar at the earthly sanctuary, the tabernacle. We must think about the means he needed to use in worship. Certainly, all believers in God in all ages know God himself through faith. My point does not concern the reality of fellowship with God, or even whether any particular believer in one age of redemptive history had a greater desire for or intimacy with God than a believer in a different age. Everything is in proportion to one’s faith. But we ought to keep in mind the historical setting of this psalm.

When David wrote “in the sanctuary”, he meant that physical place chosen by God as the home of the Ark of the Covenant. Earlier in Israel’s history, this had been the tabernacle built in the time of Moses; later it would be the temple constructed by Solomon. David lived in a transitional period, and he meant the tent he had erected to house the Ark. During the law covenant, God revealed his glory in connection with the Ark. The old covenant people could see the cloud of glory arising from above the gold mercy seat of the Ark, between “the wings of the cherubim”. Part of David’s experience was very physical.

In the new covenant, believers in Jesus the Messiah are God’s temple or sanctuary. For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people (2 Corinthians 6:17 NIV; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Peter 2:4-5; etc.) We do not go to a place to see a physical appearance of God’s glory, but the Spirit of glory and of God rests on us (1 Peter 4:14 NIV). When we are with other believers in Jesus, we form the temple of God that we already are. The Lord Jesus is present in such gatherings (Matthew 18:20). This truth should cause us to worship together with reverence and awe! By faith we can see the Living One in our sanctuary! Since we are God’s temple, we can know his spiritual presence (which is very real; something does not have to be material to be real, witness God himself.) In our gatherings, we should see his power and glory. We should see his power in the transformation of lives. We should realize that there is shining spiritual glory in our meetings. We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18 CSB).

Grace and peace, David

Psalm 63 (Part Two)

God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water (63:1 CSB).

David begins with a basic confession of faith. God, you are my God… David confessed that trouble, heartache, anguish, and even spiritual discipline for his sins could not affect his relationship with his God. The Lord was as much his God in the Desert of Judah as when he was in the palace in Jerusalem. It might be easier for us to declare our faith when all is well, but faith will freely speak with conviction when hard pressed. His statement was based on the core covenant promise made by God to his chosen people (Genesis 17:7-8; cf. Hebrews 8:10 for the same in the new covenant.) Our world may collapse around us, but God’s covenant faithfulness never changes. He is our God at all times. We may always call him my God. “How sweet is such language! Is there any other word comparable to it for delights?” (Spurgeon)

Flowing from this confession of faith is David’s fervent search for a sense of God’s gracious presence. He wants to know, to sense that God is with him in his trial! Haven’t all believers experienced this? “The longing of these verses is not the groping of a stranger, feeling his way towards God, but the eagerness of a friend, almost of a lover, to be in touch with the one he holds dear” (Kidner).

David sang I eagerly seek you. When in difficulty, it is natural to seek relief. David profited from his affliction by deciding to seek God first (Matthew 6:33). “He doth not say, my soul thirsteth for the blood of my enemies, but my soul thirsteth for thee; nor doth he say, my soul thirsteth for deliverance out of this dry and barren wilderness, but my soul thirsteth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is, nor he doth not say, my soul thirsteth for a crown, a kingdom, but my soul thirsteth for thee…” (The Works of Thomas Brooks, Vol. 2, p. 91).

I thirst for you; my body faints for you… Observe the involvement of his whole being after God. Though the body may be the instrument of sin (Romans 6:6), the body is created by God and so not evil in itself. Believers should offer their bodies and the parts of their bodies to God, for service to him, instead of in service to sin (Romans 6:12-13, 19; 12:1). We look forward to the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23). Observe also the intensity of David’s desire for God. “Thirst is an insatiable longing after that which is one of the most essential supports of life; there is no reasoning with it, no forgetting it, no despising it, no overcoming it by stoical indifference. Thirst will be heard: the whole man must yield to its power…” (Spurgeon).

David continues in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. He sang of the desperate need he felt at that time (2 Samuel 16:2; 17:29). Yet there he found his help in God! We do not have to be in a comfortable place to receive comfort. We may go to God in the most unfavorable situations. As John Piper (Desiring God, p. 24, first edition) pointed out, this also testifies of the true character of God. The Lord is happy, joyful, content, and satisfied. Who would want to seek someone who was frustrated, dismal, gloomy, and discontented? When we see God in his glory (Psalm 115:3; Revelation 4:11; etc.), we realize that he is more than able to help us in our misery.

My friend, are you thirsty today? Hear anew the invitation of the Lord Jesus. On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:37-38 NIV). Go to the Lord and drink deeply!

Grace and peace, David

Psalm 63 (Part One)

God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water (63:1 CSB).

David wrote this psalm when he was in the desert of Judah. This probably refers to the time of his flight from his son Absalom (cf. 2 Samuel 15-17). This was a time of great sorrow and deprivation for David. His emotions were stretched to the limit, and we can see him making some unwise choices and saying harmful things, as well as acting godly. All of us are a strange, even weird mixture of grace and sin. Let’s not be too critical of David and remember our own weaknesses. David became a temporary exile from the center of law covenant worship in Jerusalem. Being away from worship is a burden for those who love the Lord (cf. Psalms 42-43). Adding to David’s grief was the knowledge that all this came as discipline from the Lord for his sins connected with Bathsheba (cf. 2 Samuel 12:9-12).

During this situation, David wrote this psalm to record what he learned about the relationship between the covenant Lord and his people. He learned that believers can sing even when they are in desert places, because the thirsting soul finds satisfaction in God. This ought to encourage us all, since our lives have many such times, even prolonged seasons of drought. We do not need to wait until we arrive at a spiritual high to experience God. We can know him in deep trials and when troubles multiply. I have recently seen a dear brother and sister in Christ go through such a time; indeed, they are not out of it yet. But it is stirring to see them rejoice in the Lord. Think of three others who experienced God in the desert—Hagar, Moses, and Elijah.

This psalm is intensely personal. Sixteen times David spoke about his relationship with the living God. His friendship with God was far from the ritualistic or legalistic performance mentality of many religious people. God can be known personally. We can experience his personal activity in our lives. We can know his presence when we are separated from the “sanctuary” (tabernacle or temple in the old covenant and the local gathering of Christ’s people in the new covenant age). It is good to gather with the godly, but it is refreshing to know that he remains with us when we cannot.

From ancient times, this psalm has been known as “the morning psalm of the church” (Leupold). This was due to the translation of “early” instead of “eagerly” or “earnestly” (NIV). “Chrysostom testifies ‘That it was decreed and ordained by the primitive Fathers, that no day should pass without the public singing of this psalm’” (Perowne). While this might not fit with our modern lifestyle and worship, it can be a useful nudge to induce us to refer to it more frequently. The passionate language will help us leave behind the coldness of our disappointments to be warmed in the experience of God’s greatness and love for us. We will learn about how to talk to the God we love.

The psalm can be simply outlined as followed: the believer’s desire of God (63:1), the believer’s experience (63:2-8), and the believer’s security (63:9-11). We want to think about these ideas. What do you do when you are in a desert place? What do you know of God in such circumstances? How can you relate to God in such times? Are you in a desert place now? Please open your Bible and listen with your heart to this song written by a man that knew the misery of desert places.

Grace and peace, David

Psalm Eighteen (Part Four)

Psalm 18:7-19

The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry (18:7 NIV).

In this psalm, David taught his people to sing with him about God’s deliverance of him, so that they might have confidence that God would bring full deliverance one day through the Lord’s Anointed, the Messiah. He previously declared the desperate situation he was in. Next, he pointed out in marvelous poetic pictures God acting to rescue him.

We gain our identity from big events in our lives. In birth, we enter this world and a family. That family gives us our name and forms our basic ideas, expectations, habits, and morals. It can take our God-given personality and either nurture it or twist it. When a man and a woman join in marriage, they give what they are to each other, and they form a new family identity, which in turn will nurture the new partners or twist them.

God gives us a new identity when he saves us and makes us part of our people. Our new identity comes from the event of redemption. God intends it to form us increasingly into his image, as we walk with each other in newness of life. Sadly, what we learn and experience with others in a local fellowship of believers can distort us from what our likeness to God ought to be. If you’re with people that are greedy or angry or judgmental or shallow, you will be influenced by their attitudes and behavior. In this new covenant age, the redemptive event is what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross and his resurrection. We ought to be gospel formed people. Our identity then influences how we think and act: You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20 CSB). Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1 NIV). The truth of the gospel sets the direction of our way of life.

In the old covenant, the event of redemption was the exodus from Egypt, including the crossing of the Red Sea and the receiving of the law covenant at Sinai. Much of what we hear about the old covenant people Israel in the Prophets and the Writings flows from the exodus. It gave them their identity. They were a physically redeemed people. Why did I go into this matter? It matters because David wrote about his deliverance from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul (see the heading of this psalm) through the “lenses” of the exodus. He used the language of the crossing of the sea and the giving of the law to talk about how the Lord rescued him.

We can speak of poetic language and metaphors, but this is more than that. It is personal and redemptive. David understood that the God of the exodus and Sinai was the Lord who delivered him. It was the God who redeemed his people from their enemy Egypt who delivered David from his enemies.

In our next post on this psalm, we want to look at the imagery that David used from the exodus and Sinai. But at this point, let us examine ourselves. Do we consciously think of ourselves as redeemed people? Does the truth of the gospel events permeate our world and life view? Do we act as people set free by Christ? We have a lot to glory in. Let us move forward with the joy of redeemed people. But the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away (Isaiah 35:9b-10 ESV).

Grace and peace, David

Psalm Eighteen (Part Three)

Psalm 18:4-6

The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears (NIV).

Next, David sang about the desperate situation from which the Lord had rescued him. We don’t know the tune to which these words were sung, but a minor key would have been a good choice. In this broken world there are many times that we will be melancholy and downcast. This is unpleasant. David was not ashamed to write about the dark times of his experience. He wanted his people to face cold, gloomy reality.

This is very unlike some of the songs I learned in Sunday School in my childhood. Here is a one: “I’m in right, out right, up right, down right, happy all the time. I’m in right, out right, up right, down right, happy all the time. Since Jesus Christ came in and cleansed my heart from sin, I’m in right, out right, up right, down right, happy all the time.” I assume that the teachers wanted Sunday School to be a warm, welcoming place. And after World War II, the Korean War, and during the Cold War, they themselves probably wanted to escape from the horrors of life. However, the song did not present an accurate view of life or what the Lord promised his people in their walk with him. The point is not to fill the hearts of children with terror, but it is to say what is accurate.

Accuracy about life and God’s ability to deliver fill this psalm. David started the song on a positive note. Then, in the verses quoted above, he described the reason God’s might was needed to rescue. In the English of the NIV, depressing “D” words pile up to make his point: death… destruction… distress. The word translated grave is the Hebrew Sheol, the invisible realm of the dead, from which only the Lord can deliver. David piled up words to announce that he was totally dependent on God, apart from his mighty power, he was certain to die. Until we understand our desperate need, we will not cry out to the Lord to save. David wanted people to feel how bad his case was. Unless the living God had intervened, he was dead.

In this apparently hopeless situation, David did what people who believe in God do. He prayed. Notice again the personal relationship he claimed with God: I cried to my God for help. Because he knew God, he brought his requests to God. He knew that God heard him. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. God has compassion on us in our trials. He may not answer the way we want or expect, but he does act as we pray. David wrote to give God’s people words and ideas for us when we cry out to the Lord. He wanted them to know that in the bleakest times, God hears and cares and helps his people. Don’t give way to despair. God might well have closed one way for you. But he who will not lead you one way will lead you another, as you trust in him. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6 CSB).

Grace and peace, David

Psalm Eighteen (Part Two)

Psalm 18:1-3

For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord. He sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies (NIV).

David spoke God’s words to his people. He let them know the truth about their covenant Lord, the living God. In this song (always remember that the psalms were intended to be sung), he also wants them to feel the greatness of their God. He wants them to delight in the reality of all that God had made known to them. Too often believers have heard the poor counsel, “You shouldn’t be feeling that way. Now stop emoting like that and do this list of actions.” That is not how the Father in heaven speaks to us in his word. Listen to what the Spirit led David to write.

David related to God in an intensely, special way. He used the word “my” nine times about God in these three verses. We do this about people we love constantly: my father, my mother, my brother, my sister, my child, my grandchild, and my friend. We claim them as ours. Love naturally “hugs” those that we love. David was not ashamed to interact with God personally, even when writing a worship song. Hopefully, the point is obvious, but in case it’s not, when we sing in public worship, we reach out to claim our special relationship with God. Be bold; God likes it when we’re bold (Hebrews 4:16).

David expanded on previous revelation about God. The Lord in his word reveals himself in a progressive manner, building upon what he has already said in the past. Some people try to “find the whole Bible” in Genesis 1-12, or they say that “this passage is the Bible in miniature”. Never is correct. In the Scriptures, God made himself known bit by bit, carefully building on what he previously declared, until the fullness of his revelation in Christ as made known in the New Testament Scriptures. For example, God gave types and shadows of the Messiah in the writings before he came, which the writings after his death and resurrection explain more fully. In this psalm, David calls God his “Rock” a few times. This name from God comes from three texts in the Torah (Gen 49:24; Deuteronomy 32:4, 31). The best known opens the Song of Moses, which Christians today should know much better than we do (cf. Revelation 15:3). The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he (Deuteronomy 32:4 ESV). When we are familiar with this verse, we can see that David works this text out through the remainder of this psalm. In other words, part of what David sings is his meditation on Moses’ song. Ponder Colossians 3:16 in this context about what we ought to be doing when we sing in church. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalm s and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16 ESV, my emphasis).

David’s descriptive names of the Lord flow out from his experience of God and his protection during his years of trial and suffering. God is his strength, fortress, deliverer, refuge, shield, horn of salvation, and stronghold. Read through David’s life in 1 and 2 Samuel up to this point, and listen to various psalms that he wrote about his troubles, and you will discover these concepts coming out from what he lived. Using what God has made known about his name, we likewise can speak of our God in this way. Though our life situations will be different from David’s, yet we can see, for example, that he has been our deliverer in many ways. We can sing to the Lord our experience of who he has been in our lives. As we read God’s word, these ideas will begin to pop out in our praise. Develop your relationship with God, as David modeled it in this psalm.

Grace and peace, David

Psalm Eighteen (Part One)

Psalm 18:1-3

For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord. He sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies (NIV).

The Psalms tell the story of God’s reign in song. They show God at work through his anointed king, usually David, and great David’s greater son, the Anointed One (Messiah). At times, we hear of David’s struggles, sin, sorrows, and repentance. At others, we are called to join in the celebration of God’s victories, which involve the salvation and deliverance of his people from their enemies.

In Psalm Eighteen, David celebrates how God had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies (title of the psalm). At a quick glance we might assume that this referred to the end of his life, but nearly the same words are said when he became king over all Israel, following years of struggle with his father-in-law, Saul, and other rebels against God’s choice of David as his king (2 Samuel 7:1). David is about thirty-seven at the time he wrote this. He had ruled over Judah for seven and a half years, but finally, the Lord had set him up as king over all Israel. A study of 2 Samuel 7 will show that the Lord made a covenant with David, that the Messiah would come from him. Then end of this psalm is definitely Messianic, as we will see.  David’s great task became restoring the worship of the living God in Israel. To do this, he wrote many songs for public worship. Notice how the title informs us that this psalm was for the director of music. Since the Lord had brought David through many troubles to the throne, David rejoiced about God doing the same thing for Israel through the Anointed One. He glorified God, calling himself only the servant of the Lord.

Observe that David sang to the Lord the words of this song. The heart of a person set free has a song. The believer sings to the Lord. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and they will trust in the Lord (Psalm 40:3 CSB). Thanksgiving for mercy and grace received causes those set free from sin and death to worship. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16 ESV).

David wanted his people to share his joy, and to prepare them to trust the Lord throughout difficult times that would certainly come. The key to all this is his love for the Lord (18:1). David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). He set his inner person on seeking the glory of the Lord. He wanted everyone to rejoice in God’s overflowing goodness, and so he gave himself to compose songs for worship for his own soul and for others to sing with him.

Are our hearts filled with songs for the Lord? Are we thankful for how he has delivered and continues to deliver us? If our songs are absent or faint, we ought to examine ourselves to find the cause of our spiritual disorder. The life of faith is meant to be a walk of thanksgiving and joy! David sought to rekindle this in his people. May our souls be filled with refreshing experiences of God’s goodness to us!

Grace and peace, David

A Lesson in Praise (Part Two)

Psalm 145:1-3

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom (NIV).

Proper worship requires a correct perspective (145:3). To use painting as an illustration again, can you paint a portrait or a landscape without some knowledge of what you’re trying to paint? Can you paint in the dark? How well can you paint with while wearing smudged glasses?

For this reason, we must know the reason for praise.

  • We have a perpetual reason for praise in the character of God. Consider this, does a weak, immature view of God cause weak, immature praise? If you love and know the living God, you ought to have much to say about him! Here is the foundation of David’s ongoing, daily commitment to praise. He was a human like we are. He had both good days and bad. He had joys and sorrows. But the source of his praise did not come from the varying circumstances of his life. They came from the being and character of the Lord.
  • Another reason is the awesome greatness of our God. We cannot fully search out the majestic greatness of God. God is too much to explore, since he is infinite. This does not mean that we do not explore. America is filled with scenic wonders. What a beautiful land we have! I do not expect to see this whole country. It’s too big. That does not stop me from viewing its beauty where I can look. Even so, as we explore the glory of God’s greatness, we will see new wonders.

Our praise is to correspond to its object. Give great praise to our great God. Ponder the scene in Revelation 5:9-14. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped
(ESV).

The God we praise is infinitely greater than the praise we are able to offer. We should search out God’s greatness, but after doing our best, we must confess it to be unsearchable.

George Whitefield, an evangelist during the First Great Awakening, used to say, “Anoint my stammering tongue to tell thy love immense, unsearchable.” We ought to have his desire to praise. A true believer does not need a “holy day” for an occasion to praise the Lord. While we should give thanks on Thanksgiving Day, every day is a day of thanksgiving, every day a day of praise. Observe also the repetition of David’s determination to praise God. Do we share his viewpoint?

Grace and peace, David

A Lesson in Praise (Part One)

Psalm 145:1-3

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom (NIV).

Have you ever thought about everything our ancestors had to do to survive? A trip to Old Sturbridge Village or Plimouth Plantation can remind us of how much of their lives was dedicated to survival. Think of all that they had to make by hand. Except in museums and among survivalists, their skills are basically a lost art. Except on Thanksgiving Day, their praise and worship of God has been lost also.

As long as our higher technology endures, it doesn’t matter if we are ignorant of their basic survival skills in physical matters. It is nice to know about the past, but we don’t need to live in it. Yet we must realize that there is another area of life, the spiritual, in which our technological achievements provide us no help. We can operate things we have made: automobiles, automatic dishwashers and vacuums, online banking, entertainment devices, microwave ovens, and computers. The Pilgrims would be at a complete loss about what to do with them. But we do not know how to relate to the God who created us. We need a lesson in praise.

In the Bible the Holy Spirit has told us how we can know God and relate to him. He used men like David, the man after God’s own heart, to write about the way to praise God. In this psalm, David praises God for his glory and fame (1-7), his goodness (8-10), his kingdom (11-13), his providence (14-16), and his saving mercy (17-21). Let us listen attentively to what has been written about praising God for his glory and fame.

Proper worship requires full personal involvement (145:1-2). It begins with entering into a personal relationship with the living God. It is the wonder of being known by God and knowing God. We hear his voice in the Scriptures, and respond to him through faith by the Holy Spirit.

The foundation of this relationship is our union with Christ, in whom we are right with God by grace through faith. David understood it and gloried in it. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them” (Romans 4:5-8 NIV). Since his sins were forgiven, he could call the Lord my God the King. The fountain of praise bubbles with the joy of justification. David understood his place in this relationship. Though he was king of Israel, he knew that he had a King, the Lord God Almighty. The forgiven soul likes to kneel before the Throne of Grace and worship the King of grace.

Since he had a relationship with the living God, David acted as such a one should. We know that a husband and wife should treat each other with love and respect. They pledge these things to each other in the marriage covenant. In the context of this psalm, how does David teach us to treat God? He committed himself to praise forever. A new master plan is in place for the rest of his existence. He also committed himself to praise daily. A new, happy routine or habit was added to his life. The first commitment is the big picture. The second is each stroke of the paintbrush. An artist doesn’t usually paint the whole picture at one time. He or she consistently works toward the larger goal. So it is with our life with God. We walk with him daily, always grateful, while growing in gratitude.

Evaluate your own commitment to praise. Is there one? How well are you doing? To use the illustration, how consistently have you worked on the painting? Do your brushes need cleaned? Do you need to add some new colors?

Grace and peace, David

Psalm Nineteen (Part Ten)

Psalm 19:13-14

Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer (NIV).

We conclude this great psalm about God’s revelation. Its closing words speak joyfully about his confidence in God and the grace that is freely received from him. God’s words are intended to lead us to his joy, but that is only received as we trust in him, as he has revealed himself to us.

“Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.” As David prays for help against sin, he uses the argument that such help will enable him to live for God as he should. This is the blameless character of which he speaks. He would be blameless in regard to willful or defiant sin. Every saint should make this his/her aim, as also the apostle Paul tried to live. Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people (Acts 24:16 NLT).

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart…” David concludes this psalm with what has become a very well-known prayer. Notice that he asks for God’s help with both his outer man (“my mouth”) and his inner man (“my heart”). As Jesus taught, the mouth speaks what comes out of the heart. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him (Matthew 12:34-35 NIV). What David prayed showed his concern for the purity of the whole person, body and soul. We might perhaps say the right thing, but if the heart is not producing those words, we are being hypocritical.

David recognized that his heart would meditate or ponder on things that his mouth might not necessarily say, yet he wanted to be pure in heart also, for he knew that God knew what he was thinking in his heart (cf. Psalm 139:1-6). Idolatry of the heart is as evil as outward performance (Ezekiel 14:3-4). David wants God alone to be worshipped by him.

David was focused on the Lord. He desired that his words and thoughts would be pleasing in your sight…. Here was David’s great concern, that his whole person and actions would bring pleasure to God. The believer should not merely be concerned about avoiding offense to God, but he or she should have a positive concern about how to please the living God. If we are made to glorify God and to enjoy him forever, then we ought to recognize that we are not reaching the goal of our being until there is this joint pleasure of God in us and we in him. True Christianity is more than not doing things; it is living in the Lord’s presence in fellowship with him to bring him honor and pleasure and to enjoy all his excellent worth.

O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer: Here is the focus of David’s life. The God who has spoken in creation and in the holy writings is more than a communicator to David. He is also personally interested in David, and graciously makes himself available to those who trust in him. David views him as his Rock, the one who is able to provide full stability to David’s life, and as his Redeemer, because he had set David free from his sins (see Romans 4). The goal of the Scriptures is to lead us to have fellowship with the living God. David entered into that purpose. Have we?

Grace and peace, David