APPLICATION: With the invasion of Ukraine happening right now, it struck me that this Psalm could be used to pray for Ukrainians there and for those watching the news haplessly. The Psalm begins with a declaration, a decision of trust in the Lord, followed by an appeal not to be put to shame, a declaration of faith in verse 2, that "no one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame WILL come on those who are treacherous without cause." (Watch out Mr. Putin!)
Now, from verse 4 on, we see a desire to draw closer to God, and an openness to learn of his ways which are in sharp contrast to the treacherous enemy. This brings the humble request that God not remember the sins of youth, but instead God's character of mercy.
Then from verse 11 onwards we have another appeal to God's character for forgiveness. "Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose." Verse 15 is a lovely statement of sure hope based on God's provision. "My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare."
The next verses, from 16 on, could be prayed for anyone or by anyone in a dire situation, but for those fleeing an invading army, being helpless in the face of an overwhelming enemy, these verses would be especially fitting:"See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me! Guard my life and rescue me do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you."
Deliver Israel [Ukraine], O God, from all their troubles!
A golden oldie HYMN: "I Feel the Winds of God Today" #426 in the old blue 1938 hymnbook.
PRAYER: for our enemies: "O God, the Lord of all, your Son commanded us to love our enemies and to pray for them. Lead us from prejudice to truth; deliver us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and enable us to stand before you, reconciled through your son Jesus Christ our Lord." (P. 681 Book of Alternative Services, Anglican Church of Canada.)
“Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?”
Psalm 24: 3
We know about the authorship of the Psalm but not much more. However, it is interesting in its setting following on from Psalms 22 and 23. In the latter two Psalms David moves from a mournful state, to gentle reassurance and then finally in this Psalm to majestic triumph. Such is a process often found in the Psalms and can be found in us when we focus upon God. Whilst we do not know when the Psalm was written it is easy to imagine that it was penned for the return of the Ark of the Covenant where David led the procession in joyful praise (2 Sam. 6: 12-15).
In the Psalm the dominion and authority rightly attributed to God recognises Him as Creator Almighty (1-2). This though, immediately raises a question; how can anyone, even His chosen people, stand in His presence? The answer is clear, those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who only worship God. These are the vindicated that are welcomed into God’s presence (3-6). They are not only welcomed but blessed. The welcome continues as the King of Glory opens the gates of heaven for His people; He is simply to be praised in awe and wonder (7-10).
So, for the covenant people of Israel there was a real welcome from God the King of Glory. Their part was to seek and obey Him, to welcome Him into their hearts. This led to a true blessing and a very privileged relationship with the Lord Almighty.
The answer to the question of verse three always personally challenges me. Who has clean hands and a pure heart; who among us is completely free of idols (4)? Reassurance, however, comes with the words, vindication from God his Saviour (5b). Our Saviour, Jesus Christ has atoned for our sin filled hearts and can make us clean before God. He has made it possible for us to be welcomed by the King of Glory AND blessed. Our part is repentance and faith in Him. The rest of the Psalm reminds us to seek God and to lift our eyes to focus on Him. This is when we are truly blessed and can see God for more of who He is.
So, may we open the gates to our hearts so that the King of Glory may come in; He in turn opens up the gates of heaven for eternity to His people made holy by the Saviour Jesus Christ. In addition may we open the gates of our Church to welcome Him in, and let us welcome our brothers and sisters also.
The Question of Application
What are the gates that need to be opened in your life so that God may enter and bless?
God, our creator and ruler of all, open our hearts that the King of glory may enter, and bring us rejoicing to your holy mountain, where you live and reign, now and forever. Amen
Ancient of Days by CityAlight
King of my Heart by Bethel Music
TEXT: PSALM 23
OBSERVE: Psalm 23 is placed between Psalm 22, which depicts Jesus as suffering, and Psalm 24 which depicts Him as sovereign. In this psalm, Christ is characterized as the all-sufficient shepherd. When we read these psalms together, we see a connection of a shepherd's cross, his crook, and his crown. In the gospel of John, Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd, which echoes many of the words of Psalm 23.
INTERPRET: When we read this psalm, where David wrote “The Lord is my shepherd”, we might think that David was writing from his personal experience and knowledge of shepherding. Although this would have certainly been on his mind, we must remember that David was not the first person to call God his Shepherd. In fact, David was drawing on the words of Jacob, who at the end of his life said to his son Joseph’s sons: “May the God before whom my grandfather Abraham and my father Issac walked - the God who has been my shepherd all my life, to the very day, the Angel who has redeemed me from all harm - may he bless these boys” (Genesis 48: 15-16).
Jacob had walked through many dark valleys, that for the most part were made dark by his own deceit. But at the end of his life he could look back and rejoice that the Lord had been his Shepherd; pursuing him like a lost sheep, providing and caring for him. In Psalm 23, David was saying that like Jacob, he had found himself in dark valleys and discovered there that the Lord was a shepherd to him. But while Jacob and David experienced that presence of the Lord as their shepherd, protecting and caring for them, a far greater revelation of God as Shepherd was to come.
APPLICATION: In Jesus, we see the sacrificial nature of the good shepherd, who sacrificed his life for the sheep (John 10: 11). In Jesus, we see the ongoing work of the the good shepherd, who will equip his sheep with all they need, to do his will and produce in them every good thing that is pleasing to him (Hebrews 13: 20-21). In Jesus, we see the generosity of our great shepherd, from whom we will receive a crown of never ending glory and honor (1 Peter 5: 4). Finally; we see the worthiness of the good shepherd, as he sits on the throne and gives his sheep shelter so that they will never be hungry or thirsty: “For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd” (Revelation 7: 15-17).
As we learn from the life of Jacob, we see that very often the valley’s we encounter are caused by our own doing and our own sin. Thankfully, the good shepherd leads us to safety by his sacrificial death. As we learn from the life of Joseph, we understand that we are given what we need to be able to trust in our shepherd to lead us out of trouble. This is because he equips his sheep. We also learn from David who received a crown for a time, that we who trust in God will all receive an eternal crown as Kings and Priests. This is because our Good Shepherd sits on the throne, and will be the subject of our worship for eternity.
PRAYER: My good Shepherd, because I have you, I have all that I need. You lead me into rest and empower me. You guide me to live in ways that honor you. Even when I walk through darkness and difficulty, I don’t have to be afraid, because I look up and find you right there. Your sacrifice on the cross has drawn me to you, and your Word keeps me close to you. My life is overflowing with your goodness and mercy. Forever I will live safely within your fold. AMEN.
SONG: PSALM 23 PRAYER VIDEO and SHEPHERD OF MY SOUL
February 21st – Les Kovacs Psalm 22
Observe: King David is once again in mortal peril and calls on the Lord to save him. In the first 18 verses, he expresses such anguish because of the dire circumstances he finds himself in: he feels forsaken by everyone he trusts, including God, and feels insignificant; he is mocked by his adversaries; he is surrounded and fears for his life; he feels broken and beaten down; his throat is parched. Yet through all of this he remembers that the Lord is his deliverer, and calls on Him to come quickly. He remembers that his strength comes from the Lord and calls on all of Israel to praise Him for HIs mercy. David calls on everyone to the ends of the earth to praise the Lord and turn to Him because He is Lord over all. Everyone is to exalt God’s righteousness, even those yet unborn.
Interpret: Psalm 22 is considered a Messianic Psalm in that it refers directly to the account of Jesus on the cross, even though David wrote it around one thousand years before Christ’s death. The parallels between David’s psalm and Jesus’ words is nothing short of miraculous. At a time when David feels most persecuted and is praying to God for deliverance, the Lord gives him a glimpse into the most significant moment in all of human history, which Jesus is dying on the cross. The first words of the Psalm are “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These are the same words Jesus speaks in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34. In verses 6-8, David says that his enemies are mocking him, but trusts God to rescue him. The Gospels accounts record the people mocking Jesus by derisively saying that if God loved Him so much then God would save Him. David writes of being surrounded by strong bulls and roaring lions that tear their prey apart, just as Jesus was beaten and tortured by the soldiers before the final indignity. Verse 14 says “I am poured out like water, my bones are out of joint”, which is a perfect description of Jesus as He hung upon the cross and had His side pierced by a lance. Verse 18 says, “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment”, exactly as the mockers do on Golgotha.
Despite all his troubles, David does not lose hope. He knows that God was faithful to the descendants of Jacob and did not hide His face from them, so even in his pain he praises God for all the good things that have come from Him. He foretells that all the earth will rejoice and bow down before the Lord, and that His righteousness will be declared to future generations and to a people yet unborn, which would be us. And he ends the psalm with words, “He has done it!” which echoes Jesus’ final words in John 19:30, “It is finished.”
Application: If you didn’t know that the writing of the Psalms and the Gospels were separated by a thousand years, Psalm 22 might appear to be an eye-witness account of the crucifixion of Christ. The similarities are strikingly real. But this is not only a Messianic Psalm, it is also a Lament, as David beats his chest over the unbearable straits in which he finds himself, while in his next breath, he declares our universal dependence upon the Lord and professes his gratitude for the grace of God.
At the most consequential moment in all of human history, Jesus hangs on the cross, and in His full humanity, He asks the same question that David did in the opening of this Psalm, and that we sometimes ask when we are faced with what seem like insurmountable problems in our lives. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Indeed, why would God forsake Jesus, His only Son, in these final minutes? It's because God detests sin and cannot allow it into His holy presence, ever. This is why we, broken humanity, would be eternally separated from God without an acceptable atonement, which we in our fallen state can never make. But Jesus, who was absolutely without sin, took our place in punishment, made the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, and bought our freedom with His very life. He became vulnerable for us. It should have been us on the cross of shame from whom God withdrew His favour, but instead Jesus took our place. He exchanged His purity for our corruption; His perfection for our brokenness; His glory for our shame.
When we experience the lowest, darkest times of our lives, whether it’s financial problems, health issues, or relationship breakdowns, which we all go through from time-to-time, we can feel like David and wonder why the Lord feels so far away from us. We feel as though we are carrying more burden than we can cope with, that we are blocked at every turn, that there is no one to help us and are all alone in our hardships. At times like that we can do what David did; turn to the lifter of our heads (Ps 3:3); and remember God’s goodness and His many blessings to us. Praise His holy name and trust in His good and perfect will.
Jesus knew what it meant to be in the most horrible of circumstances, yet He willingly endured more punishment than we will ever know because of His great love for us. By His sacrifice, He bridged the gap between us and abolished our separation from Himself. Because of what He did for us on the cross, we can know that God has not, and will not, ever forsake us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we know that when we are faced with life’s challenges, you want us to bring our heartaches to you. Help us trust you when things go wrong in our life. Deliver us from our enemies, particularly when we suffer unjustly. We thank you that you did not abandon Jesus, nor will you abandon us when we cry out to you. We thank you for your great loving-kindness in all circumstances. This we pray in the merciful name of Jesus, Amen.
Song: It Is Finished – Matt Redman
Psalm 21 Lynne McCarthy 2/18/22
Observe: David’s passionate praises for God’s strength in victory over his enemies explode because God [has] given him his heart’s desire, and [has] not withheld the request of his lips (2). Thanksgiving is the foundation of this psalm for God’s graciousness in answering the king’s prayer.
Verses 3-7 continue this joy. God has met him with all His goodness. David didn’t have to hunt or plead for His presence or His resident goodness; God in His graciousness brought it to him. A commentator writes regarding David’s crown of gold: “… he waited for God to place it upon his head.” In waiting, David recognized the glory and majesty he enjoyed was of God, not of himself.
God will deal with his enemies and David lists how this will happen (11-13). Burning in fire (9; see Daniel 13, Revelation 19), the arrow in the face (12), wildly contrast to gold crowns and delirious joy. David trusts God’s justice and faithfulness in His judging. God exalts His own strength; He needs no one to do this. David and his people will continue to praise His power (13). Somehow, it’s a royally happy psalm!
Interpret: This is part two of a “royal psalm” with the image of a joyful, victorious king throughout; a Messianic psalm; certainly, a thanksgiving psalm. Psalms 20 and 21 run together: a request in Psalm 20:5: May Yahweh fulfill all your requests becomes a reply in Psalm 21: You ... have not denied the request of his lips (2b), a third-person ask and response to answered prayer. David wrote this song for the children of Israel as he goes into battle: May He give you what your heart desires (20:4) with the answer to that prayer: You have given him his heart's desire (21:2). These Psalms are antiphonal -- prayer request; response; request; response.
But it’s in David’s exaltation of Messiah, from beginning to end, that we read this Psalm. Jesus’ image is throughout: crowned with glory and honour, He lives forever (length of days), is faithful in judging and victorious over sin and death. Trust in God is David’s response to His responses (7). God’s unfathomable goodness comes to us In Jesus.
Apply: How do we determine our hearts’ desires? Inner urges, callings that don’t go away. A casual remark like a flare placed by the Lord to get our attention. A Scripture verse that sets up a longing, maybe a chain of events. Something we’ve always wanted to do for Him and others, and the Lord effects His plan in His time. Prayer preparation followed by thanks is significant to this determination.
God brings His goodness to us. And as we receive such undeserved goodness, ‘Thank You!’ runs like a holy tape loop in our minds and hearts.
If we read this Psalm on these two levels – Davidic and Messianic – God’s grace causes our praise and thanks for all He has done for us as we ask, wait, listen – and thank. We can be as excited as David!
Ask: Really, what is my heart’s desire? I hardly know, so I wait for Your heart’s desire worked out in my life. Would You give me the patience to wait, Lord?
Pray: Lord, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed, give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by these we, being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness. Through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. (BCP)
Sing: Psalm 21: My Soul among Lions Song of the King https://youtu.be/UJOTKHDHYZM
Observe: Psalm 20 is basically in two parts. The first part (vs. 1-6) consists of requests from the people of Israel for David their king. The second part (vs. 6-9) is a response from David describing his confidence in God and ends again with a request.
Interpret: The people of Israel obviously respected and loved King David. They asked the Lord for His protection as David went out into battle and stated their plan to rejoice when the Lord did protect him. (vs. 5) They then ended their litany with another petition that the Lord would grant David all his requests, thus ending their requests with another final request. The second part of the psalm refers to the Davidic King stating his confidence in the Lord God. Although this psalm doesn’t really refer to Christ, we may liken it to Jesus, who was the ultimate Davidic King – the Messiah. Now this I know: the Lord gives victory to His anointed. (vs. 6) The psalmist then concludes with a final prayer: Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call! (vs. 9)
Application: These past couple of years have been challenging in so many ways for all of us. Many of us are discouraged and weary. Can we say as David did? Now this I know…we trust in the name of the Lord our God. No matter the circumstances, good or bad, we can have the confidence that God “has our back”. He will help us rise up and stand firm and answer us when we call. A couple of weeks ago I personally had reached a low in my life. The unanswered grieving for my dad followed immediately by Christmas preparations in home and church life, my mother-in-law rushed to the hospital on Christmas Eve for emergency surgery and then the aftermath of taking care of both her and my father-in-law (now in separate facilities) as well as my own health issues brought me down. I had never experienced anything like that. Years ago Bill Bright put out a little booklet called The 4 Spiritual Laws. In it he likened our life to that of a train. The engine is faith, the coal car is fact, and the caboose is feeling. We can run the train without the caboose, but we can’t run it without the engine and coal car. That has been a real blessing for me when I picture it. In my despair, even though I didn’t feel it, I knew that I could trust in the Lord to bring me through. My feelings don’t run my faith or the facts of the Bible. I don’t have to feel good to know that God cares and loves me and will be my victory. I trust that you believe this as well. We can have the same confidence that David did!
Prayer: Father God, we know that we can trust in Your name. Help us to rise up and stand firm and give us victory through You Son’s name. Amen
Song: We Trust in the Name of the Lord our God
Observe: Psalm 19 is in three main parts. First, God’s glory is revealed in his creation, and then God’s glory is revealed in his law. These are followed by a prayer for help in keeping God’s law.
In the first part, v.1-6, the psalmist looks at the created order, saying, “The heavens declare the glory of God,” paralleled by “the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Their soundless voices go out everywhere. In v.4-6 the sun is personified as a runner striding through the skies.
Part two, v.7-10, is the psalmist’s praise of God’s law, the Torah. Using language from Hebrew wisdom (making wise the simple, the fear of the Lord, more precious than gold, etc.), we hear echoes of Psalm 119, that long meditation on gracious and righteous living according to the Torah.
Part three, v.11-14, is a prayer for help to avoid the mistakes and sins that come despite knowing Torah, and a final prayer of dedication and offering.
Interpret: The skies above are clearly revealing God’s glory to those who know how to listen to what creation is saying about God. Like the brightness of the sun (nothing is hidden from its heat), God’s law sheds light on us (the commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes). The law of God sheds light even on our hidden faults. God majestically flings out the sky and sun, and God just as majestically declares his glory in his law. Faced with all this glory around us, can we do anything but pray in humility for our souls to be revived?
Application: Frail creatures that we are, still God reveals himself to us: in nature and in his word. I’ve asked many people where they meet God, and often the answer is, in the beauty of the natural world. Being a lifelong landscape painter myself, I totally get it. But sunsets and waterfalls are not enough to really and fully know God. I’ve heard someone say, (I call this golf course theology), “I can worship God on the golf course just as well as in church.” “Sure,” I reply, “but do you? Do you really and truly meet and worship and obey the living God on the ninth hole?” Turns out, nature worship by itself needs God’s word, which is all about what we face when we drive home from the golf course or the lakeside. God speaks through his creation, and God speaks to us through his Word. We stand before both in awe and humility.
Prayer: (Many preachers use v.14 as a prayer before preaching.) “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.”
Hymn: “This is My Father’s World”
Psalm 18 "This God – His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him."
Psalm 18 is “A psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.” It is the fourth longest Psalm in this book and is largely the same as the Psalm sung by David at the end of his life in 2 Samuel 22. It is likely that he wrote it as a young man in the aftermath of the death of Saul and the death of his other enemies before and leading up to his coronation. Note that David, in an act of immense kindness, does not count Saul as one of his enemies in the preamble to this Psalm “… rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.”
David praises God for all His many mercies and protections over the following 50 verses, beginning with a profession of love for the Lord. He draws upon all sorts of cataclysmic symbolism to illustrate the Lord’s salvation: “the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled … smoke went up from His nostrils … He bowed the heavens and came down.” He praises the Lord not only for His acts of salvation but for His righteousness and His care for the humble, “for you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.” In the final verses, David declares that for all these wonderful things he will sing to the name of God among the nations for His steadfast love.
As stated above, this Psalm is much the same as the one David recites before his death recorded in 2 Samuel. It is evident that while he wrote it as a young man, he was able to look back at the end of his days with tremendous gratitude, singing this song of praise to the God who held him all the days of his life. David lived a particularly turbulent life; never mind all the people like King Saul who continually tried to kill him while in exile, or the sons that were killing one another and usurping David as ruler, or the violent death of his best friend, or his own terrible sins; all of this took place in the brutal and unpredictable ancient world! At the best of times everyone in those days would have been at the mercy of all types of diseases, raiders, mental health issues, famine, and more; isolated and exposed to the teeth of the ravenous hounds that were constantly circling Israel.
David was not kept from any of these things as he lived his life and was the target of both physical and psychological harm, yet even at the end of all things, looking back on his life and the way God had continually provided for him and shown immense kindness and mercy, David was able to say “This God – His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.” David in no way glosses over his troubles, “the cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me,” (v.4-5). But if he shed a candle of light on his trouble, he lit a bonfire to illumine the goodness he found in God! His entire life could be summed up in the emboldened verse above – that the word of the Lord proves true!
Application & Question:
Are you trained in gratitude? Is that something you’ve ever thought as something in which to be trained at all? So often in 21st century North America we expect to see God act in massive and dramatic ways as we find in this Psalm and become discouraged or disillusioned when we don’t see this happening. I am convinced that if the average true believing Christian can’t see God working in their lives, they are simply looking for the wrong things. I fell into this trap often as a younger fellow, convinced that God had simply passed me by after I came to Him, neither helping nor hurting, and certainly not answering my grandiose prayers. It was only after I was gently but firmly rebuked by some friends and told to look for the smaller ways in which God was acting in my life that things really began to change. For instance, He made it possible for me to meet with these friends in the first place when it initially couldn’t happen; He provided food for the week when I was living in a place I couldn’t really afford; helped me and a fellow cook get along on what I was expecting to be a particularly tough night; joined me in a truly felt way during my devotional that day which wasn’t a normal occurrence.
Learning to look for the small things that God has and is doing for us each day is not to say we serve a small God or that God doesn’t want to bless us in big ways; it is saying that He cares about us so, so much that He is with you today, even in the tiniest things you have going on right now! Small seeds preclude enormous gardens, small blueprints come before an enormous project. Jesus says in Luke 16:10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” We must first train ourselves up in these small ways as preparations for the big ones. Learn to be faithful with the little before reaching for more!
David was crowned as King of a mighty nation, but he began as a faithful overseer of sheep, composing songs to the Lord and slaying mighty beasts of the field. He learned to be faithful in small things first, learned to love the words and commandments of the Lord first. He trained himself in gratitude as well, seeing the faithfulness and goodness of God in all things, not just the giants slain or disasters averted. It is only by this intentional and learned behaviour that we can build joyful, gracious, thankful lives, never missing what God is doing here and now, ever singing and praising Him with a glad heart, saying “this God – His way is perfect.”
Thank you, Lord, for your goodness and patience with us as we learn to listen to your still, small voice. Give us a passion for diligently seeking your face and teach us to blot out those near and clinging sins that seek to steal our attention. Thank you for acting in the tiniest of ways which we will never fully see or appreciate, and for caring about our daily needs! We are not worthy ourselves, but you’ve made us worthy when we came to your Son. Grant happy hearts to your people today and teach us to love your righteousness above everything else. All these things we pray in the name of Jesus Christ – Amen!
Song: The Gates - Young Oceans
“As for me, I shall be vindicated and shall see your face; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with seeing your likeness.”
Psalm 17: 15
This Psalm is a prayer attributed to David. It is not linked to a specific time or event. Our studies in the Old Testament last year showed us that there were many times and occasions in which David might have said and written this prayer (such as his persecution from Saul). As we unpack this Psalm it may help to think of one such incident in David’s life.
In many Psalms we find a particular pattern. The Psalmist raises an issue with God. There is agony and patent honesty. Then as the matter is put before God, and the focus changes to God, the Psalmist finds peace and confidence anew before the matter is resolved in actuality. We see this pattern in today’s Psalm. The Psalm seems to be a night time prayer; God, examines David’s heart ‘at night,’ (3), and David will find peace when he ‘awakes,’ (15). We can imagine David lying awake in a state of fretfulness and anxiety, unable to sleep. He raises his just cause before God and compares his ways with those of his oppressors. He describes his faithfulness to God and then describes God’s love, faithfulness and power. Having made his case and petition he finds peace and renewed confidence.
It is noteworthy that the difference between David and his oppressors is found in the condition of their hearts and whether or not they walk in God’s ways. David’s heart belongs to God. God examines David who resolves to walk in God’s way asking Him to direct his paths and highlight any sin in his life; David’s vindication comes from God not himself. The oppressors have callous hearts and arrogant mouths (10) who are wicked, violent and of this world; their reward will be in this world alone (4, 9 & 14). David’s peace and confidence comes from a right relationship with God and faith filled trust (8&13).
All of us have burdens, questions and trials at different times in our lives. Many of us will struggle to sleep because of our burdens. This Psalm (and indeed the whole bible!) shows us that clear, simple and open honesty with God is the first step to peace and freedom. This honesty and openness needs to be within a wonderful relationship with God, our hearts are to belong to Him. Our righteousness, rightness with God, does not come from ourselves but with a relationship purchased by Jesus Christ; He is our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5: 21). As we lay our fears, concerns and petitions before God we can then focus on Him. His love, power and majesty come into view and our perspective on our worries is rightly changed. We find peace and freedom from fear, before the matter is dealt with in reality, because we have found God. We then find sleep and awake in peace, confident in God and ready to face the day (15)!!
The Question of Application
Can you find and then see God through your worries and fears? What promise in Scripture can you lay hold of and pray in faith?
God of truth and justice, watch over us, your people, in adversity, that we may know the wonders of your love and see the glory of your presence; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen
How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds (Christian Sermons and Audio books, John Newton)
Text: Psalm 16
“My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.” (Psalm 16: 9-10)
OBSERVE: In this psalm David asks the Lord for protection, trusting in God as a safe place from enemies and evil. David makes it clear that everything good he has comes from the Lord. This psalm displays David's joy, using words such as "delight, "glad” and "pleasures." It is clear that David celebrates his relationship with God in his daily life. He can feel secure because the Lord is always with him, even in the face of death. His celebration foreshadows the Messiah, who would conquer death and experience resurrection. David displays assurance in his eternal destiny throughout this psalm.
INTERPRET: This is a wonderful psalm relating how David found the secret of contentment and great gladness even in pressing times. This psalm also predicts Jesus and His work for us. Perhaps unknowingly, David spoke beyond himself. In one sense David was indeed the Holy One of God, whose soul would not be left in the grave. Yet in a greater and more literal sense, only Jesus Christ fulfills this in His resurrection.
Fresh from his study with Jesus, Peter stood before the crowds in Jerusalem on Pentecost, quoting the words of David: “My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave” (Psalm 16: 9-10). Then Peter did something with the psalm that must have seemed outrageous to those who had read it all their lives: he said that David really wasn’t talking about himself but about Jesus (Acts 2: 29-31).
In quoting and applying this passage from Psalm 16 to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, Peter showed an inspired understanding of the work of Jesus on the cross. He understood that because Jesus bore our sin without becoming a sinner, He remained the Holy One, even in His death. Since it is incomprehensible that God’s Holy One should be bound by death, the resurrection was absolutely inevitable.
APPLICATION: It had dawned on Peter that the words from Psalm 16 went beyond anything that David experienced. David did die and was buried; David’s flesh did see corruption. Peter recognized the voice of the Messiah speaking prophetically in the voice of his ancestor David.
The fact that Jesus remained God’s Holy One despite the ordeal of the cross demonstrates that Jesus bore the penalty of human sin without becoming a sinner Himself. It also shows that this payment of sins was perfect and complete, the only type of payment a Holy One could make. In these ways according to Peter, the resurrection proves the perfection of Jesus’ work on the cross.
What an amazing truth! Not only will we live because of Jesus; but we will escape the grave. Not only will we escape the grave; but we will receive an immortal glorious body.
So…….if we believe in the Risen One, should we not live in ways that display our belief in these truths? We will live forever because of Christ; so we can put our focus now on the eternal Kingdom. We will escape the grave; so we do not have to live in fear. We will receive an immortal glorious body; so we should not allow our current flaws to chain us. Let us live for Christ; now and forevermore.
Prayer: Jesus, Risen One, because you live, I will live. Because you conquered the grave, my soul will not be left among the dead. And though my flesh may rot and decay, I believe in your promise that you will take my weak, mortal body and change it into a glorious body like you own. AMEN.
SONG: Because He Lives
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.