As the Psalmist cries out to the Lord, he relates how he found the word of God to be his source of strength when he had almost given up. He was confused, he was spiritually parched and dry, and felt as if God had deserted him. Yet he did not succumb to despair or unbelief. He did not renounce the ways of righteousness nor did he give in to the taunts of his enemies. He had faith and trust in the Lord despite all that happened because the word of God was his limitless source of strength. He thanked God that though help was long in coming, it was sure and certain.
What the Psalmist teaches us here is that God’s Word is as permanent and sure as He is. We need to rely on it in these days of change and numerous crises. The world we knew, the world that we grew up in, the world that we thought was so secure and stable is not. As believers we should never expect it to be. Our world is undergoing great transformation accompanied by violence, conflicts and rampant immorality. It is difficult for we who are committed believers to maintain our composure, to keep on living with hope and faithfulness, to avoid succumbing to the ways of the world, to have faith in the Lord. Despite what we see around us, we must look at the Word not the world. It will help us keep our focus on what is unseen, the Kingdom of God. God is in control, not the world.
In these 2 sections, the Psalmist thanks God for affliction. Apparently the Psalmist had strayed from God’s word and into sin. In response, the Lord had afflicted him with some sort of misery, suffering, persecution, enemy attack or illness. Whatever these trials consisted of, he asked the Lord for encouragement and strength to endure them. He asked the Lord to silence the arrogant and ungodly who ridicule him because of his hardships. He asked the Lord to teach him the right way to go. So even though these trials were harsh and demanding, the Psalmist knew that he had to endure them because they were leading him closer to the Lord.
Many in the church today would cringe at the idea that affliction could be sent by God. Many Charismatics and all those who preach the gospel of health and material prosperity would say that to thank God for affliction is a negative confession, it is not what God wants. They attribute all afflictions to the devil, to Satan. While Satan may indeed have a hand in inflicting suffering on all human beings, ultimately the Lord God is the one behind all suffering. He allows all of it to happen for His own reasons, reasons which He does not have to divulge to anyone. So very often as we see here, affliction is designed to lead the believer back to God after he or she has gone astray.
As we endure our own afflictions most of they are not results of our sin or the sin of someone else. Yet we have to acknowledge that sometimes they come because we have been led into sin and are direct results of that sin as well as our own pride and arrogance. At such times we are humbled in the face of our tribulation. Then we must confess to the Lord and ask for strength and wisdom.
This Psalm is a prayer that was sung or spoken during a solemn procession to the temple to offer praise and sacrifice to the Lord. The opening verses extol the Lord for His lovingkindness. The Psalmist finds this an appropriate response to the Lord’s deliverance. He trusts in God and finds that He is always there, always faithful to His promises. He finds this a great comfort in the face of enemies and those who oppose him. After all, he is always safe in the arms of the Lord, whereas those who do not know him are forced to rely on human intelligence, strength, armies and military weaponry none of which are totally reliable.
The psalmist blesses God for victory. He compares himself to the stone that the builders, his enemies, had rejected or discounted as a loser. Any victory or success is due to the Lord’s favor and strength. We recognize that the Lord Jesus applied this verse to Himself. He was rejected by the very people He came to save and was killed by them. The day that the Lord has made is the day of His resurrection from the grave. This proves that He was not a loser, but that He was victorious. He then has been exalted to the right hand of majesty on high, the ultimate sovereign ruler over all that is forever. This means too that the day that the Lord has made is now, the day of salvation. As we think about our own coming day of resurrection we find a solid basis for our present joy.
This Psalm draws a sharp distinction between trusting in the Lord and trusting in idols. The pagans ridicule the people of God because the Lord is not a God who we can see though we can see and touch idols. They may look nice especially those made of costly metal and encrusted with gems. Yet they are immobile, cannot move or act. And those who trust in them become the same way: deaf, mute, blind to the truth the Lord proclaims and totally impotent when it comes to their ability to run their lives. They may think they have control but they are in fact slaves to sin.
Yet the God Lord reigns from heaven and is sovereign over all the earth, and all that exists. All that occurs on earth is under His control. For that reason the psalmist called on the Israelites to trust in the true God rather than idols. It may seems ridiculous to urge any sane person to do this, but as we know there are millions of people who trust in idols and false gods because these are gods of their own making, gods who reflect their own lust for power, sexual immorality, riches, and self-righteousness. The Lord God is real. He is alive. He alone is worthy of worship because he alone is able to provide help and protection to those who trust Him in their time of need.
And since today is 9/11, a day we remember a great tragedy in the history of America, let us use this time to reflect on our own lives and way of thinking. This evil of that day should lead all Americans to the Lord but it has not. If anything, life has gotten worse, immorality and ungodliness have grown large and eclipsed Christian values. Let us all remember that even our our nation, our heritage and our constitution can become idols. Nothing should take the place of God in our lives and our thinking and living ought always to reflect the values of God’s Kingdom.
At Passover it was customary to sing these 2 Psalms before the Seder meal. Psalm 113 calls on God’s people to praise Him because though He maintains an exalted position, He has humbled Himself in order lift up the lowly and downtrodden. Psalm 114 follows a similar theme though this is described in the specific event of the Exodus when the Lord delivered Israel from the slavery of Egypt. In both cases the Psalmist calls on God’s people to praise Him for He is Almighty and holy yet intimately concerned for the well-being and salvation of those He loves. Since all of the creation of the natural world exalts His awesome power it is only right that His people, in fact all human beings do the same.
These Psalms tell us of God’s great love for us. Though in this world we may have tribulation and suffering while the wicked and ungodly prosper, we know that God often reverses that situation and at times exalts exploited and downtrodden believers to positions of material wealth and influence. He expects them to use their new position to give Him glory, not to pamper themselves by wasting our prosperity on property, trinkets and vacations.
Even if the Lord does not provide any material blessing, He lifts all those who trust in Him. He does this by guaranteeing that He will be with them in their trials to give them the strength and grace to endure. He also does this by taking away the fear of death through the ultimate assurance of salvation and life everlasting. The ungodly who rich or poor, powerful or not, famous or unknown cannot say this.