Sunday, February 23, 2020



This Psalm is David’s complaint to God about unjust rulers and judges. He compared the unjust rulers of Israel to God who is just.

Rhetorical Question

David began this Psalm with a rhetorical question which he then answered. A rhetorical question is a question asked with no expectation of an answer, because the answer is obvious.

The question is addressed to Israel’s rulers. The text refers to “gods” (ESV) or “rulers” (NIV) or “mighty ones” (CSB). The word that appears in the Masoretic Hebrew text means “silence”, which makes no sense in context.

The Masoretic Text (MT) is the authoritative Hebrew and Aramaic text of the Old Testament. It was primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D.

Scholars believe that a vowel was changed inadvertently to show the word as “elem” instead of “elim”. The use of “gods” makes sense as the passage contrasts these little “gods” with God. But, “rulers”, used by the NIV, seems to fit the context well and is easily understood.

The question is: do you (the rulers) decree, or speak, what is right and do you judge uprightly? David questioned whether the rulers made just laws and whether they judged people according to the laws (justly).

In Israel, in David’s time, a ruler was supposed to rule by the law of God as found in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament. The priests and judges made some judgments.

The king also made judgments. The law required the king to make his own copy of the law as approved by the priests. He was to keep it with him and read it every day. (Deuteronomy 17:18) He was also bound to keep the law himself.

To judge rightly, or justly, the rulers had to rule according to the law. Anything else would be wrong, or unjust.

David answered his rhetorical question with a strong “no”. He said the rulers devised wrongs against people and dealt out violence. Saul certainly did this toward David and anyone else he deemed to be a rival or enemy.

The Wicked

David moved from calling them rulers\mighty ones, to calling them “the wicked”. He had already said they did not judge by the law or live by the law. This means they did not honor or obey God and were, therefore, wicked.

They were estranged from the womb, going astray from birth. This might refer to the doctrine of “original sin”, that every person is born with a fallen nature because of Adam’s sin. At a minimum, it means their very nature was evil and unjust. They were lawbreakers.

They did not keep God’s covenant. They were, for example, liars. (3) One of the commandments is “you shall not bear false witness”. (Exodus 20:16) Leviticus 19:11 says “you shall not lie to one another”.

Their lies were harmful like a snakes venom. It destroyed people and it destroyed the nation. They could not be reasoned with, either, they stopped their ears like a snake that ignored the snake charmer. They did not listen to God or to the needs of the people.

Prayer for Justice

David pulled no punches when he asked God to act. He asked God to break out their teeth. Since the rulers used their mouths to cause harm, he asked God to stop their mouths.

David asked God to make them vanish. He wanted them to disappear like a snail that dissolves into slime. He wanted God to blunt their arrows, or render them powerless. David wanted them swept away. He wanted them to perish.

David not only wanted them to perish, but to do so quickly. He wanted it before the pots felt the heat of thorns. This seems to refer to the use of thorns to start a fire. They would catch fire and burn quickly.

Rejoicing in Future Vindication

When God acts to avenge him, David and those who are righteous will rejoice. He graphically says they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked. This is a similar image to Isaiah 63:1-6, when the Lord comes in vengeance upon Edom. His garments are crimson because the lifeblood of the people of Edom spattered his garment. He had trod the winepress of God’s wrath.

It is also similar to Revelation 14:19-20, where an angel harvests the earth and throws them into the great winepress of the wrath of God. The blood flowed from the winepress as high as a horses bridle.

Revelation 19:13-14 uses the same image. The rider on the white horse wears a robe dipped in blood and he treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God. It is a graphic picture of God taking vengeance on his enemies and the enemies of his people.  

David also wanted the effect that God’s actions would have on other people. They will see there is a reward for the righteous. And they would know there is a God who judges on earth. The triumph of God is the vindication of the righteous, of believers. Justice is imposed and his kingdom is established. There God will rule with righteousness and justice.

Like David, that is what we have to look forward to. David looked for it in his lifetime. We look for it at the end of time.

Sunday, February 16, 2020



The instructions to this psalm give us the occasion for its writing. It was written about David’s fleeing from Saul in the cave.

There are two possible stories in 1 Samuel that may be the basis for this psalm. The first is in 1 Samuel 22, where David escaped from the Philistines after going there to seek asylum from Saul.

The second is in 1 Samuel 24. Saul had abandoned his pursuit of David to fight the Philistines.  When that was over, he returned to the wilderness to seek David. He went into a cave to use the bathroom, not knowing that David and his men were hiding deep in the cave.

David refused to kill Saul, though his men urged it, but cut off a piece of his robe. After Saul left the cave, David yelled down to him, showed him the piece of his robe, and said it proved he was not a threat to Saul.

Saul acknowledged David’s righteousness and his right to become king. Saul returned to Jerusalem and left David alone for a while.

Given the victorious nature of this Psalm, even though it is a lament, the second story seems to be a fitting background to the Psalm.

This psalm is structured in two stanzas with a refrain at the end of each.

Stanza 1: The Cry For Mercy

David cried out to God for mercy. He placed himself in God’s care. He said his soul took refuge in God. He was hiding in a cave, but did not see the cave as his refuge. Only God could be that for him.

He used a metaphor of a baby bird being sheltered under the wings of a mother bird. David wanted to stay in the shelter of the Lord’s protection until the storms of his life had passed, meaning Saul’s attacks on him.

David sought mercy and refuge from God because he knew God’s character and attributes.

First, God is “God Most High” or “El Elyon”. This name expresses God’s exaltedness. For example, When Abraham returned from battle and met Melchizedek, Melchizedek referred to God as the creator of heaven and earth and the Most High. (Genesis 14) Since God created the heavens and the earth, he is above them and in control of them.

God declared that there is no one beside him. (Deuteronomy 32:39) There is no one who can claim to be who he is. Therefore, we are commanded to have no gods before him. (Exodus 20:3)

Since God is the Most High, the One who is over all, David can appeal to him for shelter even from the king of Israel.

David also acknowledged that God fulfills his purposes. God expressed his purpose to make David king. No one can prevent that because God will not allow anyone to thwart his purposes. Daniel 4:35 expresses this clearly: “he [God] does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him ‘What have you done’?” And those words were spoke by one who thought himself to be as a god on earth, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia.

David also acknowledged God as having steadfast love and faithfulness. (3) These are attributes of God that God himself declared to Moses in Exodus 34:6. In that passage, the Lord passed before Moses and proclaimed “the LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…”.

David trusted God to be faithful and to have steadfast love for him because that is who God is. That is God’s nature.

That is why we study the attributes of God as revealed in the Bible, so that we will know who he is and trust him because of his nature as God.

David did not forget his troubles, even though he trusted in God. He saw himself as surrounded by wild and fierce animals. (4) He experienced people whose words hurt him.

This stanza ends with the refrain: Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth. (5) This is a prayer by David that all people will recognize and acknowledge God’s exaltedness.

It reminds us of Jesus’ prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-19)

It is also part of the reason for the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, so Christ’s glory will be known over all the earth. (Matthew 28:19)

Habakkuk 2:14 tells us “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of he glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

The Cry of Confidence

Although David is in a difficult and scary place, his confidence in God is solid. He declared that is heart is steadfast. (7) He does not waver in his faith in God. He will even sing, presumably in praise to God. (7) He will get up first thing in the morning and praise God with instruments. This might remind us of the Fanny Crosby hymn “Praise Him! Praise Him!” which says:
“Praise him! praise him! tell of his excellent greatness!
Praise him! praise him! ever in joyful song!”

And the reason to praise him is:
“Like a shepherd Jesus will guard his children --
In his arms he carries them all day long.”

Ms. Crosby’s thoughts are not much different than David’s. Both recognize God’s care of us and his exaltedness.

David’s praises are again rooted in God’s attributes, his steadfast love and his faithfulness. (10)

This second stanza ends with the same refrain:
“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!

This prayer makes me think my prayers are often not big enough. While it is fine to pray for our needs and the needs of others, we should pray this prayer for God’s kingdom to come over all the earth so that all will see and know his glory. David prayed this way. Jesus prayed this way.

So should we. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


Worry is the interest paid on tomorrow's troubles. 

Sunday, February 09, 2020



This Psalm was written by David in response to his fleeing to the Philistines to escape Saul as recorded in 1 Samuel 21:10-15.

David had fled Saul after being warned by Saul’s son, Jonathan, that Saul wanted to kill him. David went to Nob, where the priest gave him the shewbread to eat and Goliath’s sword. This caused Saul to have everyone is Nob killed.

David went from Nob to Gath and hoped to find asylum with the King, Achish. This shows how desperate David felt, for the Philistines were historic enemies of Israel. And, although Saul was king and leader of the army, everyone recognized David’s contribution to Israel’s victories. They sang “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands”.

And then there was that unfortunate incident with Goliath.

David evidently hoped the Philistines would shelter him as a common enemy of Saul. However, the Philistines in Gath remembered David and his battles against them. They seized him. This caused David to be afraid, so he acted as if he were insane and was able to escape. So now, not only was Saul chasing David, so were the Philistines.

This psalm is another lament, a personal lament of David for his plight of running from Saul and the Philistines and trying to stay alive even though he had been anointed to be king.

Although this is a lament, it also contains David’s declaration of trust in God during extremely difficult times.

This psalm is another one meant to be sung. Instruction is given to the choirmaster of which tune to sing it to: “The Dove On Far-Off Terebinths”. A terebinth is a tree common in the Mediterranean countries.


The Psalm begins with David’s plea for God’s mercy. He knows he will receive no mercy from Saul or his other enemy, the Philistines, so God is his only hope.

Although David was God’s anointed, he does see himself as entitled to anything. Instead, he asks for mercy.

David’s enemies were relentless. We see that in his saying “all day long”. Saul would pursue David until he killed him. David emphasizes  this relentless attack by using two different words to describe it and repeating the words: tramples and oppresses. He lived with it every day and night, knowing Saul and his army was looking for him.

Remember, too, that David has done nothing to harm Saul. The Lord indeed rejected Saul and chose David. Therefore, even though David had done nothing to try and take the throne away from Saul, Saul’s resistance to God’s will and his paranoia drove him to hate David and fear him.

Trust in God

In all of his difficulties, David has not abandoned his faith in God and God’s plan for David’s life. That does not mean David was never afraid. He was afraid for his life many times. But he says, “when I am afraid, I put my trust in you”.

This is a great expression of faith and a good word for us. Fear is paralyzing. It feeds on itself and grows if you let it. David could easily have collapsed in fear of Saul’s relentless pursuit and his superior army.

Instead, when David began to feel afraid, he placed his trust in God. He placed his trust in the words of God, who had said he would make David the king of Israel. His faith is a deliberate act in defiance of his emotional state.

The writer of Hebrews cited this verse while telling his readers to be content with what they have because God said he would not forsake his people. So, with confidence, they could recite this verse in the psalm. (Hebrews 13:6)

That is the good word for us. When you are afraid or anxious, do not wallow in your fear, rather place your trust in God. Trust that he will act in your best interest and he will give you strength to get through your trials.

In contrast to God, flesh cannot harm David. People cannot thwart the will of God. God keeps his promises. He is faithful.

David’s Afflictions

In these verses, David returns to the description of his afflictions. This is, after all, a lament. He emphasized that they were after him continually (all day long). They tried to hurt him, but also his cause, to be the leader of God’s people.

They thought of nothing but trying to do evil to him. They watched for him, they waited for him, hoping to catch him and hurt him.

So, David asked God to act to cast them down. He wanted God to express his wrath toward them because they opposed God’s people and, therefore, God himself. Here David must be referring to the Philistines, who were the enemies of God’s people Israel. He asked God a rhetorical question, “will they escape”, meaning God should not let them escape from his wrath.  

Yet again, David believed God would act in his behalf. He recounted his personal suffering, his tossings while trying to sleep, and his tears of emotional pain, knowing God is aware of them and keeps a record of them. (8)

And David proclaimed that God would turn back his enemies when he called upon him. Because, even in suffering, David knew God was for him. Paul captured this same thought in Romans 8:31, saying “If God is for us, who can be against us?”.

God later answered David’s prayer as to the Philistines as he defeated them several times after becoming king. (2 Samuel 8:1)

Trust In God

These verses repeat the thoughts expressed in verse 4. God’s acts will vindicate David’s trust. Therefore, David will continue to trust in the Lord and even to praise him. It is much easier to praise God when the victory is won, but David praised God before that, while the battle still raged.


In these verses, David moves from lament to thanksgiving. In anticipation of victory, before it happens, David will present a thank offering to the Lord as he had vowed to do.

God had saved David before, and David believed God would do it again, so he would thank him for it in advance.

David also acknowledged that God delivered him so the he could walk before God in the light of life. That is a beautiful sentence. God does not just act to relieve us of suffering, but he helps us so we might walk before him, living our lives in a way that pleases him and brings glory to his name. And when we live this way, we experience the light of life, God’s presence, which only those faithful to him may experience, and which makes life not just liveable, but joyful.

Sunday, February 02, 2020




Although this appears to be a song, since stringed instruments are instructed, it is also a prayer. David wrote “give ear to my prayer, O God”.

But, we can also assume, since it is a song, that David wrote it for corporate worship, making it a hymn for the people to sing when calling upon God.

The first stanza, the first three verses, shows David praying for mercy and expressing urgency. He asked God to hear (give hear), to not hide, to attend, and to answer. These are all pleas for God to answer David’s requests.

David is also urgent in his need. He said he was restless in his complaint. His enemy is causing him trouble and he wants God to deliver him as soon as possible.

We cannot connect this song to a specific event in David’s life. Some in the early church saw it as a reflection of Jesus on the betrayal of Judas.

It is common for believers who are afraid or suffering to be impatient for God to answer and to act. We all want our needs met and our suffering ended. We know that God will act in his own time, but it is ok to ask God to act now.

David’s Emotions

David was an emotional man. He did not hide his emotions from God. He felt anguish. (4) He was afraid (terrors of death, fear & trembling, horror).

Like many who are suffering, David longed to escape. He would fly away if he had wings (6), he would wander into the wilderness (7), or he would hurry to a shelter (8). It is not uncommon for people under stress to dream of sailing away in a boat, or taking off in a camper, or moving to a new place.

David was a heroic man at times, but he was also a human who longed to escape from his problems.

Prayer for Vengeance

If David could not escape, he wanted God to destroy his enemies, or at least to destroy their ability to hurt him. He made a reference to God acting against the people who built the Tower of Babel. God made them speak different languages, or divided their tongues, and so destroyed their ability to work together for evil. (Genesis 11:1-9)

David described these people as causing violence and strife in the city, so they were not enemies from the outside. They were those working iniquity among the people of Jerusalem.

This is something we see in our time. We certainly have enemies from outside the church. But there are also those within the church bringing strife and error into the body.

The Betrayer

David continued saying the enemy was not from the outside by homing in on one person. This person had been a friend and companion. (13) He and David had taken counsel together and attended church (the temple) together. (14)

David did not mince words about what he wanted God to do. He wanted God to kill them. (18) He wanted them buried alive. “Sheol” means the grave. He felt that they were evil and they deserved it.

Faith in God

In contrast to the evil men, David called upon God and believed God would save him. He prayed three times per day and believed God heard him.

David believed God would save him, redeem him, from his enemies. (18) He would hear David and humble his enemies. (19) God would and could do this because he is sovereign, he reigns from of old. (19) He would also act against these men because they did not fear God.

Casting Burdens Upon the Lord

David’s friend hurt him by violating his covenant with him and trying to hurt him while being a smooth talker. (20-21) But, believing God would deliver him, David could counsel the other worshippers to cast their burdens on the Lord, believing he wold protect them.

The Septuagint version of this Psalm says to cast your “anxieties” on the Lord. Peter used this language when he said to cast your anxieties on the Lord, for he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

The final verse shows David’s confidence that God will bring down those who are treacherous. They will not have long lives. David trusts in God for his protection.

pray when you are in distress
don’t hide your emotions (fear, anxiety)
trust God
wait for God’s timing