In the previous Psalm we learned that when the Lord is silent, we are to wait on Him. While we wait we do not just sit around doing nothing. Many of us would want to take action, to do something rather than wait, hoping the Lord will follow us and bless what course of action we have decided to take. Many of us would feel so helpless and alone while we wait that we become anxious. We begin to worry about what will happen or that when the Lord acts, it will be too late. Many of us then give way to ranting and raving, venting our anger at the Lord for not acting and for not caring.
King David may at times have felt abandoned, anxious and helpless. But while he waited on the Lord he did not give way to his anxiety. Instead he prayed. He voiced his feelings as a fervent and respectful petition to the Lord. He did not speak with arrogance, belligerence or with a sense of self-righteous entitlement. He knew that the basis for his petition was not on his own goodness but on God’s mercy. While the wicked will go to their just punishment, the righteous will receive favor because of God’s love and forgiveness. God’s mercy is only possible to us now because of the sacrificial blood of the lamb of God. We have no right to it; we have no right to make demands on God. We can, however call out to Him so that He can bestow upon us His wisdom, guidance, patience and mercy.
David must have written these words of confident prayer for help while in the midst of his enemies and difficulties. They are of great comfort to us for they express the great faith and assurance we would like to experience, all the time. We know that the Lord is our light to guide us into truth, to dispel fear and the evil one. We know that the Lord is our salvation who delivers us from our foes as well as from temptation. We know that He is our stronghold who protects us from the storms of life that rage all around us. We know these truths but we would like to experience them all the time, but we are all too prone to doubt and fear. In a sense we put more faith in the fears and follies of sinful men, the lies of the devil and our own doubts and imperfect knowledge than we do in the promises of the Lord.
Most of the time our prayers are like those David prays in the latter half of this Psalm. We pray fretfully in the midst of our trials on the verge of despair. We call out to the Lord but we do not perceive His voice. We don’t feel His hand of comfort. We don’t see His light to show us the clear path that we must follow. We do not feel the strength of His protection as we are besieged within ourselves. David’s contention is that in these times we must be patient and wait for the Lord. We may be tempted to despair fearing that He has deserted us. Yet truly the word of God tells us that our Savior and Lord has not forgotten us. He will not let us fall. He will act to help us in His own time and He never arrives late.
One of two thoughts may occur to us as we read this Psalm. The first thing that we may think of is how much we identify with the Psalmist. He avoids evil as well as the company of evil people. We may feel that we do as well. Such a thought could get us to the point that we think we are better than they are, that we are holy and godly and so we deserve better treatment from the Lord than they. On the other hand we may be annoyed at the Psalmist who seems to be much too proud and boastful. It seems like he is trying to exalt himself rather than the Lord. Anyone who boasts like this, we may feel, is reprehensible and ungodly.
But we know neither of these thoughts are condoned here. What the Psalmist is really getting at is the expectation of the godly. The expectation is that the life of holiness, the life of one separated unto the Lord is in itself rewarding. The holy life is better than the life of sin. Those who live lives of sin, immorality and evil will suffer the consequences of their evil both in this life as well as eternity. The Psalmist is not boasting about their doom but admitting that he is weak and easy prey for temptation. That is why he stays away from the company of evil people. He does not want to be corrupted by adopting their ways nor does he want to suffer their punishment. The lesson for us is that no matter how strong we think we are, evil company will corrupt us and lead us astray. Instead, we should cultivate the fellowship of the saints in the church for our mutual edification. Then we will be better equipped to live among the worldly and testify to them of Christ without imitating their wickedness.
These 2 Psalms appear to have been designed to be sung by the people of Israel on behalf of their king. The first is a prayer for the king in time of war, while the second is a hymn of thanksgiving to the Lord for victory. When these Psalms refer to the king they are speaking most likely of a godly righteous man like David. Yet we can well apply the words and prayers of these Psalms for our own political leaders as well as those in authority over us on our jobs and in our church.
These days it seems that our government officials receive nothing but criticism and disrespect from both liberals and conservatives. While we in the church must always demand godly leadership in church and government and petition for moral laws, we must realize that all those in our government, even those we have elected are there by the will of God. This is not to say that they always do what is right, for they are fallible and sinful people, just as we all are. But no one gets into office without the Lord’s say so.
Thus we should pray for those in office even if we do not like them or their policies. We should ask the Lord to help them to turn to Him for wisdom, grace and humility. Those nations who have godly leaders will be granted His favor. This is why the United States and Great Britain, among other nations, have been blessed for generations. But these and any other nations whose leaders turn their back on God will suffer. Now we see this happening on a worldwide scale as it seems that sin is running rampant and unchecked and evil and wicked people, prosper. This is because nations the world over have abandoned the God of the Bible and turned to myths manufactured by scientists, educators, cultural icons, media gurus and the very politicians who are supposed to be godly leaders. And yet we still must pray for them all.
This Psalm speaks of God’s revelation which proclaims His glory and majesty. His revelation is divided into 2 parts. The first is what theologians have termed “general revelation”. God has revealed Himself in the physical world, in the universe. The testimony proclaimed in the heavens, the sun and the stars declare God’s glory daily to people of every culture, language and tongue. They declare that He exists. The action of the sun, which warms us and nurtures our life, tells us that He is a God who loves and cares for us.
Although creation proves the existence of God, many refuse to believe. Many ignore Him and worship the created things rather than the Creator. Those who do believe the testimony of the heavens will seek deeper revelation. God has provided this in “special revelation”, that is, His law, the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Like the sun, these give light to our dark path, provide comfort and bring spiritual life. And what is most important, special revelation tells us of redemption. There is no greater revelation than Jesus who is God incarnate. Jesus reveals to us God’s unconditional love, what He has done for us, what He expects of us. And so we thank our heavenly Father for the wonderful gift of salvation we have in Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior and God.
This Psalm is repeated in 2 Samuel 22 which takes place in the final years of David’s reign. As he looks back over the years, David praises the Lord because He has firmly established the kingdom of Israel under his reign. The Lord has accomplished this by delivering David from all his foes, first King Saul, then the Philistines, the Moabites, the Edomites and the Arameans. Finally, the Lord had delivered him from the hands of his own son, Absalom. He praises God for being so good to him.
In his praise David likens God to a rock, a stronghold, a fortress, a shield and the horn of his salvation. A rock conveys the idea of shelter, safety and strength. In the desert a rock provides shade for relief from the brutal heat. In the wilderness, a rock provides shelter from rain and wind. In the mountainous areas of Israel, a rock is the high ground that provides a stronghold and hiding place from the enemy.
For us, we know that the foundations of any house or skyscraper must be anchored into the bedrock. Otherwise it will not stand the test of time and will crumble under the slightest storm, wind or quake as we have seen in recent history. So rock also means strength and stability to us.
Thus all of these metaphors we encounter here convey the truth of God’s strength and stability. Those who plant themselves on this Rock find that they can stand up strong and unmoved in any storm, test, trial or tribulation. When the people of the world are shaken and blown away in such times, like some many grains of dust before a hurricane’s winds, those who trust in God can endure with hope.
This Psalm is another of David’s prayers for help in time of trouble. The basic gist of what he asks is that he be kept “as the apple of your eye.” and “hide me under the shadow of your wings.” Down through the history of the church, both of these phrases have been of great comfort to believers. We all want to be the apple of God’s eye, that is, we want His love and affection, we want to be the center of His attention. As God is omnipotent He does certainly keep each of us in His loving sight at all times. And certainly we all want to have His protection. He is like a mother bird who protects her weak and defenseless children under the shadow of her wings. She protects them from predators with her own body.
David knew he could go to the Lord. He does not think it a sign of weakness to ask for His help. That is how we should all approach the Lord, pleading our weakness, inadequacy, vulnerability and defenselessness because though we can fool others and even ourselves with false confidence and self-esteem, we can’t fool God. So when we go to Him, we must go in humility even in the face of our enemies, or the onslaught of terrorists and murderers, or sickness and trials. We should also fly to the wings of the Lord for His help and protection when we are under the assault of Satan who hurls his fiery darts of temptation at us. He desires to cause us to stumble and fall. If we confront him without the aid of the Lord we are easy prey. Going to the Lord can help us defeat Satan’s onslaught even in the middle of strong temptations and addictions. The Lord can help us get through all temptations without compromise or sin.