Psalm 63 (Part Seven)

I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you (63:4-5 NIV).

Having presented the reason for his experience of praise in an unlikely place, David next described how that praise is expressed. Four ideas come to our attention.

  • God is the object of his praise. His relationship with the living God that included an experience of the Lord’s glory would certainly cause David to praise his God and none other. True praise is not merely participation in religious ritual. Anyone can do that, even the most wicked of humans. Praise to the Lord is the overflow of one’s heart in love, joy and gratitude.
  • David’s praise was expressed verbally in the form of music. He used the talents and skill that God had given him to paint musically a picture of God’s wonderfulness. While those blessed with musical gifts should use them for the glory of God, those lacking them should not neglect this important part of worship. God is the maker of art and beauty, and so we should use artistic means to make known his splendor. To fail to sing praises robs God of the glory that we ought to bring him. Sing to the best of the ability that he has given to you. Our Father knows that some of us were not blessed with musical talent. He still desires to hear our voices.
  • The praise of the Lord should be a constant, lifelong activity. How can we do otherwise when we are in a personal relationship with God, have experienced his glory, and know that his unfailing love is better than life?
  • We should notice the involvement of the physical body in worship. Here David wrote about the lifting up of his hands. There are times to worship and bow down. (Please don’t try to avoid lifting your hands by piously saying you worship quietly. I rarely see anyone on their knees, much less falling prostrate before the true and awesome God.) In the Bible we see people shouting, dancing, clapping, and clanging cymbals! There are times for exuberant praise. When was the last time anyone could say that clearly you joyfully and enthusiastically praised the Lord in public worship?

The third vital experience of the believer is the experience of satisfaction in the Lord. This is something that has been neglected by the typical believer in evangelical circles. Consider the popular Christian books. We have a host of books on “Christian fiction”, prophetic matters, and how to solve your personal problems and prosper. We have a growing number of special interest study Bibles. Dare I mention books about the Christian and politics? I think it is fair to say that most of these books say little about the living God and finding satisfaction in him. To feel good about the form of worship and liking the songs sung to us by “worship leaders” is very far from the experience of delighting in the Lord. We can become so concerned about how we feel about the music, the message, and the other stuff of a typical service that we do not think about worshiping God together as his people. While we will benefit from praise and worship when we do both in faith and love, our benefits are not the goal. We worship and praise in an overflow of our hearts to God. We responsively declare with the outer persons of our bodies and the inner persons of our hearts the greatness and surpassing worthiness of God. More on how this relates to our satisfaction in God next time!

Grace and peace, David

Psalm Nineteen (Part Six)

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19:10-11 NIV)

In verses ten and eleven David declares the value of the Scriptures and the great help he had obtained from them. Here we learn the tastes and felt needs of a godly person. They show that God the Spirit had used his word effectively in David’s heart, and help us understand why God called David “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22 NIV).

Leaving his pattern of the previous three verses, David closes his praise of the Holy Writings by telling of their “absolute desirability and sweetness” (Leupold). The Bible is truth that both enriches the soul and satisfies the heart. Notice how David uses two phrases to set forth the exceeding greatness of the Word. It is more precious than gold, but he cannot stop there, so he adds, “than much pure gold.” Let’s take a look inside the ‘Fort Knox’ of God’s revelation. What do you see? You see what surpasses piles of pure gold. The Lord invites you to lay claim to all of this treasure that you desire. But what good is money if you have nothing to eat? Well David says, “Look again here is something sweeter than honey,” and then he dangles the jar before your tongue and says, “than honey from the comb.”

“As spiritual treasure is more noble than mere material wealth, so should it be desired and sought after with greater eagerness. Men speak of solid gold, but what is so solid as solid truth? For love of gold pleasure is forsworn, ease renounced, and life endangered; shall we not be ready to do as much for love of truth? … Trapp says, ‘Old people are all for profit, the young for pleasure; here’s gold for the one, yea, the finest gold in great quantity; here’s honey for the other, yea, live honey dropping from the comb’” (Spurgeon). “Well then may we count those the sweetest hours which are spent in reading the holy Scriptures; well may we say with the prophet, Jer 15:16, ‘Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and they were the joy and rejoicing of my heart’” (Watson, A Body of Divinity, pp. 36-37).

The Scriptures are a means of God’s grace. “Gold is of the earth, earthly; but grace is the image of the heavenly. Gold is only for the body and the concerns of time; but grace is for the soul and the concerns of eternity” (Henry). So then, if we are wise, we do well to make substantial investments of our resources in what will be for our eternal good. The earthly market is destined to collapse. How much better to invest in the heavenly market that promises a certain, eternal return on all that you invest in it.

This section closes with a response to the Lord about the benefit that David had received from the Scriptures. The Hebrew text conveys the idea that David reviewed how the law of the Lord had affected him; that is, not only is this happening now, but in the past it has happened. David could speak from his own experience. The Word warns of the spiritual dangers we all face. The wise person takes it for his daily mentor and lifelong guide. The Lord does not leave people to wander without warning near the brink of woe. He has spoken; in fact, the Word shouts warnings to us! But the Scriptures not only warn; they also promise comfort. The idea, as has often been stated, is not that we should keep the Scriptures in order to gain reward in a legalistic manner. Many miscarry in this manner! Instead, the idea is that we find in keeping God’s word (not merely in memorizing it or knowing its content) that we do gain great reward. How much joy, peace and hope the Bible sets before us! And every believer knows in experience the reality of this reward, and we look forward to more! “If there be so much to be had in the wilderness, what then shall be had in paradise!” (Brooks)

Grace and peace, David