Category: psalms

This short one feels like a traditional David rant against his closing in enemies and while his enemies were more than likely actual enemies wanting to do him physical harm, i find connection to the description of them more through a metaphorical sense of people who are against me or something i’ve said or done, in less combatative but still quite real-feeling ways:

1 Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
    protect my life from the threat of the enemy.

2 Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked,
    from the plots of evildoers.
3 They sharpen their tongues like swords
    and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent;
    they shoot suddenly, without fear.

5 They encourage each other in evil plans,
    they talk about hiding their snares;
    they say, “Who will see it?”
6 They plot injustice and say,
    “We have devised a perfect plan!”
    Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.

But when i read the next piece i have to see this as David’s wishful thinking or heart’s hope and desire rather than a Biblical teaching on how things are going to play out:

7 But God will shoot them with his arrows;
    they will suddenly be struck down.
8 He will turn their own tongues against them
    and bring them to ruin;
    all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.

Because i’m not convinced God was actually going to shoot arrows at them or that they would necessarily even be struck down, not in this life anyways. We read elsewhere in Scripture how often the wicked seem to prosper and i can bear witness to that. And while we trust in an eternal justice from God, there does not always seem to be a local karmic system in place that brings bad to those who commit bad. And often, rather than scorn, it is praise and delight and adulation that is heaped upon these people. So we really have to believe there is something more bigger picture going on…

But, as always, even in the midst of a gloomy situation, David manages to end off strongly with a focus on the God who saves and is worth praise:

10 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord
    and take refuge in him;
    all the upright in heart will glory in him!

And so we are left with that challenge that regardless of present circumstances, where d we put our faith and trust and are we glorifying God as we should?

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

Wow, love me some psalm 63 – was contemplating just sticking the whole thing in here cos it is such an uplifting psalm [we caught David on a good day, people] so i highly encourage you to go and read the whole thing, but as per usual, here are some thoughts or reflections on part of it:

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

[vs 1]

i guess you can read this two ways. the first time i read it i found it highly encouraging – this hunger and thirst for God… but now that i see it again it does look like it could be a cry of desperation – i really need you right now God, because life is not looking so good at the moment…

but it is still a statement of knowing – ‘You, God, are my God’ and that really feels hopeful again. so no matter how life or circumstances appear right now, i know that God is my strength and refuge and the One i am needing to rely on and call out to.

And then this next section really expands on David’s understanding of who God is and you start to sense the depth of relationship that exists and can learn a lot from how he is able to express that so poetically:

I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
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.

[vs 2-5]

This psalm smacked me a little [okay a LOT] in the face this morning. It is easy [when employed or engaged in ‘ministry’ type work] to fall into the trap of everything being about God and not enough just being God. So do I earnestly seek God? Not enough right now if i am brutally honest [although i have been trying to eat lunches outside as a continuation of the non-rush experiment – just stopping and being and trying in that time to ‘be still and know that He is God’ so that helps].

When last did i ‘earnestly seek God’?

When last have i ‘beheld His power and His glory’?

Are my lips glorifying Him? How about my keyboard and fingers?

And is my relationship with You, God, something that satisfies me as with the richest of foods?[which in my case would be double chocolate frosting in a can or some form of ribs with mashed potato on the side]

i guess i really could go through the whole thing, but let me leave some for you. but this next piece is a great way to end and an encouragement to finish your days like this:

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
 Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
 I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

[vs. 6-8]

 [To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

This is another great little Psalm so i thought it would be good just to post the whole thing:

1 Truly my soul finds rest in God;
    my salvation comes from him.
2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

3 How long will you assault me?
    Would all of you throw me down—
    this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
4 Surely they intend to topple me
    from my lofty place;
    they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
    but in their hearts they curse.

5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

9 Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
    the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
    together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
    or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
    do not set your heart on them.

11 One thing God has spoken,
    two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
and, “You reward everyone
    according to what they have done.”

Verse 1 and 2 are just so comforting – what a way to begin a prayer – my soul finds rest in God, my salvation comes from Him, He is my rock and my salvation and then followed by the powerhouse piece of ‘He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.’

These are the words of someone who intimately knows the God they are talking about.

Then he breaks into a mini rant about the people that are giving him a hard time.

But then it’s almost as if his thoughts are interrupted and he heads back to the focus on who God is , taking it up a notch and just pretty much gushing on God. And then calling on others to join in: Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him for God is our refuge. So he has moved from an individual appreciation to a community related declaration. He is our refuge.

And then works towards the end where He focuses on two aspects of God – how powerful He is and that He rewards people for their deeds.

Just a really delightful piece and one to turn to when feeling a bit down or distant from God

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

This one is like a little gem of a psalm. Short and sweet and [if you read the intro and see it mentions this one should be played on string instruments] a little haunting [in the good way]. So i would just actually post the whole psalm here:

1 Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.

2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the foe.

4 I long to dwell in your tent forever
    and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
5 For you, God, have heard my vows;
    you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

6 Increase the days of the king’s life,
    his years for many generations.
7 May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
    appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

8 Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
    and fulfill my vows day after day.

‘I call as my heart grows faint” – for me it feels like this is an older person writing this. i get the feeling of a contented tiredness. this is someone who has experienced God as his refuge and as his strong tower in times of need. this is someone who knows God as the One who has heard his vows.

i’m not sure why it is particularly but i really like this psalm. it feels so peaceful, even as there is a cry and a call and this sense of long journey to the ends of the earth. there is not the same panic that exists in a number of other psalms when enemies are chasing or foes are trying to take the psalmist in. this one feels like someone who has lived a long journey, punctuated by times of Godly intervention, and is ready just to sit in the courts of God and lift up His name forever.

when i am old and nearing my time to move on, i hope this will be the kind of piece i can compose to God…

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

this is a pretty short psalm and to be honest i didn’t get a whole lot from it. we do know that it is written by David and it is written in a time of war and battle and so that influences the mood and the atmosphere of the writing.

the one thing i felt when reading the intro, and this may just be me, but it seems to read slightly differently from some of the other psalms. this one begins with the phrase, You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us” but whereas in some Psalms it seems more like an accusation or a huge question of ‘Why, God?’ the way i read this psalm was almost more an acknowledgement that we deserved it [knowing Israel’s history, probably because once more we were disobedient or turned against you] and so this sense of ‘i get it God, but please turn it around now.’

1 You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us;
    you have been angry—now restore us!
2 You have shaken the land and torn it open;
    mend its fractures, for it is quaking.
3 You have shown your people desperate times;
    you have given us wine that makes us stagger.
4 But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner
    to be unfurled against the bow.

Like i say, that could just be my reading of this piece, but it’s the phrase, ‘now restore us’ that follows the first line, that seems to suggest there is no huge accusation or question, coupled with verse 4 which reads, But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.’

Verse 9 asks a couple of ‘Who?’ questions with David leading up to his conclusion by moving the focus squarely on to God before giving Him this acknowledgement. Yes, we are confident that our help will come from God:

10 Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us
and no longer go out with our armies?
11 Give us aid against the enemy,
for human help is worthless.
12 With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies.

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

Another Psalm begins with David in trouble, railing against his enemies [this time we more specifically know they are men who have been sent by Saul to watch his house] and what is great again is that we see where David turns to:

1 Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
    be my fortress against those who are attacking me.
2 Deliver me from evildoers
    and save me from those who are after my blood.

We don’t know it’s his first point of turning [for most of us it rarely is, right?] but whether it is or not, we get the sense of his trust and reliance on God with terms like ‘fortress’ and phrases like ‘deliver me’. David always seems to end up at the feet of God when he has trouble [and fortunately when he is full of praise] as opposed to letting trouble in his life send him running away from God. If we only draw close to God when things are going well, that says a lot about our relationship with God. In the same way, if we only draw close to God when things go badly, that also says a lot. A good relationship stays consistent through good and bad. Whatever comes my way I will face it knowing God is with me.

What is great about this psalm [as it is with so many of them] is the honesty. This is not great theology David is throwing out here, it is human emotion in whatever words he has at his disposal. We can see this as he goes from show no mercy to wicked traitors [verse 5] to But do not kill them, Lord our shield, or my people will forget [verse 11] and then to consume them in your wrath, consume them till they are no more so a little bit of contradiction happening here which just gives an indication that this is more an expression of how David is feeling right now, than an accurate portrayal of what he actually thinks God is going to do. We see this later when David has at least two opportunities in caves to kill Saul and chooses not to.

What is particularly great about this psalm is that David starts and ends with God. There appears to be a danger of him losing it during the piece and getting caught up in the enemy-bashing but it’s almost as if he checks himself and ends once more with a focus on who God is and what He will do. Reminding himself why he ended up there again.

16 But I will sing of your strength,
    in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
    my refuge in times of trouble.

17 You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
    you, God, are my fortress,
    my God on whom I can rely.

 [To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

Wow! David having a bit of a bad day, it seems.

This is one of the Psalms I would generally skip or quickly move past to the next one if it was just for my reading, but since I’ve committed to commenting on them I guess I will have to give it a try, but this one is NOT for the faint of heart. In fact, if Psalms had movie restrictions, this would get an R for sure.

I think maybe one important point that can be brought up using this psalm is the following: Just because it’s in the Bible does not mean it is true. Wait, let me be more specific there – does not mean it’s true for me. Not every line in the Bible is teaching. Because it says he took a second wife means I can take a second wife. Because Cain killed his brother means I can kill my brother. No, that just shows lazy, uneducated reading of the Bible. Because the Bible is written in so many different forms of writing [history, poetry, song, metaphor, teaching] we need to be mindful of the intention of the part we are reading. What message would the intended audience have taken from it? Is this what God is trying to say to me now?

And with psalm 58 I think that is important because it is a bit of poetry or song and really seems to be David [once again, you say] having a bad day rant against the people he sees as unrighteous or his current enemies at the time [he had quite a lot throughout his lifetime] and he wishes some pretty hectic stuff against them.

1 Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
    Do you judge people with equity?
2 No, in your heart you devise injustice,
    and your hands mete out violence on the earth.

The first two verses echo what a lot of us might think and feel about our present governments, I imagine. Just a sigh of frustration as the people who have been put in the places of leadership [or authority, perhaps] just don’t seem capable or at least focused on doing what is right.

But then over the next few verses David gets a little graphic about what he wishes would happen to them and the wicked in general. I’ll let you go and look those up.

Then in verses 7 and 8 he comes up with some strong metaphors which I do want to look at [the one is very hectic and unfortunate, but does convey strong imagery] in terms of perhaps finding something that might apply to us in an introspective kind of way:

7 Let them vanish like water that flows away;
when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.
8 May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along,
like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.

So, pretty hectic, right? But let me look at each one briefly in terms of the possible meaning I see in them [this is not necessarily what David was meaning but just trying to draw some meaning of my own from what I read here]:

# ‘water that flows away’ indicates something with non-present boundaries. If water is placed into a container it will remain there and be useful. But once you take all the boundaries away, remove all the limits and restrictions, then the water will be lost. It will seep away into nothingness. This can be a strong reminder for us as individuals and as society I think or the need for helpful boundaries and restrictions. Not ones that are so rigid that the water is not allowed to flow where it needs to or even ones that can’t be changed or adapted from time to time. But the complete lack of all restriction and restraint can often lead to something becoming completely ineffective and useless.

‘let their arrows fall short’ to me speaks of the lack of power behind the arrow. If you put an arrow into a bow and let go, the arrow will fall directly to the ground and have shown to be completely useless in achieving its goal [or your goal with it]. In the same way if we continue to operate purely in our own strength so we will miss our goal [or God’s kingdom goal for us] again and again. We need to be empowered by His Holy Spirit living in us and invited to operate fully in us. Have you surrendered yourself completely to God or are you at least in the process of living day to day offering your life to Him. When we allow ourselves to have the power of God working in and through us, then our arrow will fly further and be more effective in hitting its intended target.

‘a slug that melts as it moves along’ – with my limited understanding of biological things, i’m still pretty sure that if you throw salt at a slug it melts and so when I read this I think of a slug that is moving along on a trail of salt. The lesson for us being that if we pursue or follow a destructive path [or a path that contains strong elements of the things that are bad for us] then we are causing our own destruction. The warning to be aware of the things in our life that are not helpful or healthy for us and making wise [sometimes difficult] decisions to that we don’t melt as we move along. The enemy never starts out with tempting someone to commit adultery or to kill someone. No, he begins with the subtle temptation of a returned lingering glance, of a late night meeting with that person you have felt attracted to at work [despite being married] and choosing to go and have a drink with them afterwards instead of heading home [and not telling your wife about it] or a little white lie that at a later stage will need a slightly bigger one to cover it. Before you know it there is a weird smell and a bubbling sound. We are called to be salt in terms of adding flavour and preservation to things and people around us. But we must identify the things that would act as salt to us if we were slugs and choose a different, less dangerous path, every time.

‘a stillborn child that never sees the sun’ – this is a hectic image and not one I really want to look at because of all the pain that it carries for anyone who has walked that path [and even those who know people who have]. But simply put, it brings to mind the idea of missed potential. All that could have been that will now not be.

And so this psalm is a rant from David and not necessarily a teaching on what we should even wish on our enemies – after all, Jesus gave us some strong teaching on how we should love them, bless them, walk the extra mile for them [and at least the metaphorical satisfaction of the burning coals that might fall on them if we do] – but by looking at the extent of his curse-wishing on them, we have hopefully been able to do a quick stock take on our own lives and take some valuable lessons of things, life paths to avoid from those.

 [To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

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