Psalm 28 seems to have three parts. David begins with a call for help before turning to the fate of the wicked. Then in verse six he changes to praising the Lord for hearing his cry and responding and caring for him and his people. Psalm 29 is a praise song declaring the majesty and power of the Lord. The name YHWH appears 18 times in the eleven verses. Psalm 30 was written as a song to be used at the dedication of the temple (or palace). The note about it being for the palace seems more appropriate to the content of the psalm which is very personal and speaks from David’s perspective.
March 3, 2010
Psalm 25 requests selective memory on God’s part. David desires that God remember his great mercy and love but forget David’s sins and rebellious ways (vv6-7). He also requests salvation from his enemies and the removal of his sin. Those two themes seem to be parallel in his thinking. Psalm 26 again proclaims his blamelessness and requests redemption. Psalm 27 sounds a similar note from David as he puts his trust in the Lord and requests only one thing, that he “may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” For all his success David certainly faced a lot of opposition and seems to have led a rather anxious life.
February 11, 2010
Psalm 22 begins with a recounting of God’s goodness to Israel and then departs from that historical high point to David’s current anguish. His enemies surround him and (v18) “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment” which is reminiscent of Jesus’ experience (Mt 27:35; Mk 15:24; Lk 23:34; Jn 19:24). The following Psalm is probably the most famous of them all, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want….” I remember on my internship in Swift Current that Pastor Ken liked to read this psalm to all the patients we visited in the hospital. It is certainly an encouraging poem for those undergoing suffering or need. Psalm 24 is a praise song to the King of Glory who is the Lord Almighty.
February 10, 2010
Psalm 19 is very well known because of its proclamation of universal revelation (19:1-4). It also honours God’s direct revelation (v6-11) because universal revelation is not enough: “who can discern their own errors?” Psalm 20 is a call for God to respond to distress and for those in distress to trust in him. Psalm 21 is recognition that God will defeat evil, in a selective way, not in a general way such as the Great Flood. It is encouraging that it is no longer the entire human race that is evil but only select members of it (v10). Perhaps David is not as discouraged when he wrote this as he was when writing Psalms 12 and 14.
Psalm 16 is full of David’s praise. It is also interesting in that it reflects on life after death. “My heart is glad…because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (16:10-11). Some commentators believe that the ancient Hebrews had no concept of heaven after life on earth but this would seem to suggest otherwise. Psalm 17 is another lament about the wickedness of those on earth but it ends with hope. “As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness” (v15). Psalm 18 is a song of victory after David was victorious. He gives all credit to God and keeps none for himself.
February 9, 2010
Psalm 13 is David’s expression of being in a bad place at a bad time seemingly without the Lord’s assistance. However, he expresses a hopeful attitude: “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” Psalm 14 repeats that the entire human race is evil: “All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Although there seems to be no hope he calls for God’s salvation to come out of Zion. Psalm 15 is good evidence for James’ statement that one must obey the whole law (2:10). David asks “LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy mountain?” He answers by listing a whole range of requirements: 1) their walk is blameless; 2) do what is righteous; 3) speak the truth; 4) do not slander; 5) do no wrong to their neighbours; 6) cast no slur on others; 7) despise the vile; 8 ) and honour those who fear the Lord; 9) keep their oaths even when it hurts; 10) lend money to the poor without interest; and 11) accept no bribes against the innocent.
The first eleven verses of Psalm 10 recount the wickedness of, well, the wicked, concluding “The wicked say to themselves, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.” The remainder of the Psalm is a call for God to notice and act against the wicked. Psalm 11 affirms that the Lord is upright and hates injustice and will act against the wicked. Psalm 12 takes a similar approach beginning with the statement: “Help, LORD, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.” One has to wonder if David includes himself among the human race and acknowledges his own guilt. Given the content of verse seven if would seem not: “You, LORD, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked…” Perhaps David is acknowledging that he is not human and therefore from outer space? It would seem so from reading the TNIV. Conspiracy theorists – on your marks, get set…sorry the Olympics begin this week.
January 22, 2010
Psalm 7 was written because of a Benjaminite named Cush of whom we know nothing else. David confesses hi reliance on God to vindicate him and ends by giving thanks to God for his righteousness. Psalm 8 contains the popular “How Majestic Is Your Name” theme that has been sung by such artists as Sandi Patti, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Lincoln Brewster, and Yours Truly. Most of these differ enough from the original psalm that they can claim copyright or pay the copyright holder. Of course, almost all Bible translations are copyrighted as well so you couldn’t sing the actual Psalm except perhaps in Hebrew. Disgusting. Psalm 9 is a call for God’s justice to be plain to all throughout the earth. It concludes with the statement: “Strike them with terror, LORD; let the nations know they are only mortals” (9:20).
All three of these psalms were written by David and are addressed to the director of music. The first and last for accompaniment by stringed instruments and the second by pipes. All three are first person addresses to the Lord but obviously were used in corporate worship. Although most of us will not face the kind of enemies that David did we too can make use of them. “The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame” (6:9-10).
January 21, 2010
My normal practice has been to read the Psalms throughout the year at the same time as I read other books. This time I am reading through them in a block so I can blog about them as a whole. This is a new experience so it will be interesting to see if any new insights into their overall makeup jump out at me.
Psalm one starts us off by focusing on righteousness verses wickedness. The righteous read and obey the law: “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (1:2). Psalm two serves as a warning against those who would oppose God: “Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling” (2:11-12).
The third Psalm is the first to have an introductory statement: “A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.” These are helpful in understanding the context, although not all are agreed on their authenticity. It is interesting that David called out, “Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked” but mourned greatly when he learned that Absalom was killed (2 Sam 19:4ff).