Psalms 42 - 72 (Book Two)

Growing in Christ

"He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:45

Overview of Old Testament or New Testament

Links to observations drawn from other books of the Bible

Practical and Pastoral Observations on the Book of Psalms (please read each chapter slowly and meditatively before reading observations below):

Psalm 42 and 43 comprises a single, sadly beautiful poem, probably from the Babylonian exile (43:1ff).


The deepest desire of the human heart is for communion with God, a desire compared to extreme thirst in a waterless desert (v.1-2; the verb of longing appears elsewhere only in Joel 1:20). This yearning for God from exile (prison, sickbed or other inability to worship as before) is second only to the despair of separation by guilt of sin. The psalmist mourns (v.9) to the point of despair (v.5,11) over this loss of the deepest thing in him connecting with the very depths of God (v.7).

Memory of the temple, where he so often experienced communion with God, the joyful procession to worship (v.4), the altar and instruments of worship (43:4) deepen his hope for reconnection. Without them in the meantime, the psalmist turns to prayer and singing when sleep evades (v.8), learning to praise God even when stripped of the familiar symbols now gone.

The God of our Extremity: Even in extreme loss, God remains who He is. He is the God of hope (42:5), of loving kindness (v.8), the source of my song (v.8), my life and rock (v.9), my deliverer and strength, (43:2), light and truth guiding me back to Himself (43:3) who is my exceeding joy (43:4).

Discouragement, even despair, has been the experience of many who have followed God's call, including heroes of faith (Heb. 11), in seasons of hardship. It may be that all who receive a vision of God and His Kingdom experience, in seasons of opposition (v.10), a depth of despair, in part proportional to the clarity of their vision of what should and could be.

Practical Application: In moments of loss I will return to the God who is the source of our vision of shalom and its guarantee of certainty. I will meditate on the Lord, His light and truth; increasing my vision of Him and communion with Him until the opposition of the world, the flesh and the devil pale in comparison. I will hope in God who causes my face to shine (42:11: "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.")

My Prayer: Father, let nothing keep my heart from You. As my culture opposes You, we too can feel the isolation of exile. This is a theme of the NT also. Sometimes in the battle our vision of your Kingdom (shalom on earth) is more vivid than our vision of You who are its only source. Lord, re-unite them. Let me seek Your face from which flows all else. Allow this vision to keep me from despair and be the "help of my countenance."

Unity: How can the vision of God's Kingdom become separated from the vision of God's face? Yet it does. Even Marx, while denying God, had an (eschewed) vision of God's Kingdom of justice and equality. Yet, as Marxism has shown repeatedly, God's Kingdom is impossible without God. God and His Kingdom must remain one, and the source is God.


Psalm 44

The Un-understandable: God's people sometimes experience severe loss or persecution, personally or corporately. Such circumstance should cause us not to withdraw but to press into God with the urgency and passion of this psalm. Though we don't know the author or circumstance, this prayer of national lament may have been written following the loss of a major battle with greater danger on the horizon.

The psalmist acknowledges all past victories dependent solely on the Lord grace and power (v.1-3) yet grieves current dependence on the Lord has met with defeat (v.4-8); and pours out his heart's deepest pain and anguish (v.9-19). The psalmist feels betrayed since he has not turned to other gods (v.20) or deviated from God's ways (v.18). Yet he does not abandon God and will go to no other place appealing only to God's lovingkindness.

Personal Application: Though we do not understand tragedy and defeat, it is better to pursue God without understanding than to abandon him for nihilism, false gods or despair. I will seek to learn what the Lord teaches me from my own failures and not repeat the errors. But even if I'm aware of no personal sin or failure, yet experience loss or failure, I will not express demands based on entitlement. God owes me nothing. All I receive above that is grace. 

My Prayer: Father, this may be the most difficult lesson to learn. I am grateful the experience does not come often. Even so Lord, it is the experience of my Savior and I will receive it as He did, in the garden and on the cross, if it is the Father's will.
"Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him." (Job 13:15)

Psalm 45


Leadership Privilege and Responsibility: The King and Queen are addressed in a wedding poem; perhaps initially for Solomon but used subsequently in other royal weddings. God is gracious to those He calls to high leadership - provided they reflect His character: holding to truth (v.4), uprightness (v.6), loving righteousness and shunning evil (v.7).

As the King reflects Elohim in these ways, the King is like Elohim (v.6). The Queen also has high responsibility keeping peace between the nations represented in the marriage and giving outside rulers access to the King (v.12).

Personal Application: The first call of leadership is to reflect God's character. This includes also meekness (v.4) and joy (v.7). On such leadership God's blessing rests (v.16) and such leadership brings the people joy (v.17).

I will lead in uprightness, reflecting the character of God, blessing those I lead and serve. I will not ask of others what I am not willing to do.


My Prayer: Father, cause my character, in private and in public leadership, to reflect Your goodness, honor and majesty.

Psalm 46 - a song of Zion (along with 48, 76, 87, 122)


Unshakable: the historical background may be Sennacherib's invasion during the reign of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:13-19:37). Whatever happens, God is our refuge in danger (v.1-3), our help and stronghold (v.4-7) and peace in the midst of our tumultuous world (v.8-11).


God refreshes us with His river of life (v.4), reminiscent of the rivers of Eden, Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 22.


God is with us (v.7), Heb immanu, from which we derive Immanuel: God is with us (Matt 1:23).


God Speaks: In v.10 God speaks directly: "be still, at peace, knowing Me, the Most High One who is your safety and stronghold." We may therefore remain peaceful within the strivings and chaos of the world, rooted not in our strategies of self-protection, but in the presence of God.


Personal Application: Because God is who He is, I will not fear (v.2), I remain glad regardless (v.4), I am not moved (v.5) and remain still (peaceful) (v.10) in the midst of all.

My Prayer: Father, how grateful I am for Your solid eternal presence surrounding my life - which cannot be shattered or broken into by anyone or anything, ever. How I praise you that You alone will be exalted over all the nations and peoples of the earth.

Psalm 47


The Universality of God's Reign: like Ps 96 and other OT passages, the psalm shows Israel clearly understood Yahweh was not limited to their clan but would rule also the nations (v.2,7,9). The God of Abraham (v.9), Isaac and Jacob (v.4) is God of all the peoples of the earth. All rulers will come before Him acknowledging His authority over them (v.9).


The King is Above All: In Ps. 18 God is depicted as descending from heaven; Emmanuel, God with us. In Ps. 47:5 God ascends with a shout of victory and the sounding of trumpets; God majestic over us.


God's righteous rule brings joy: In our dark fallen world the ascendency of the goodness of God who loves his people (v.4) brings joy (v.1), songs and praises (v.6). His exaltation brings our jubilation.

May all the nations to come to Him in joy - 'clap your hands, all peoples' (v.1). In some ways Joseph's "coat of many colors" anticipates the colorful 'shields of the earth' (v.9) coming to the Lord of All.

Personal Application: I will worship the Lord and invite others to do so (evangelizing individuals, discipling the nations). In both worship and invitation I anticipate the day when faith fully gives way to sight!

My Prayer: Father, thank you that You reign! it is my joy to worship You and to urge all others to enter into Your joy. May You be highly exalted in all the earth (v.9) - soon and fully!

Psalm 48 - a song of Zion (along with 46, 76, 87, 122)


The Greatness of Zion is Yahweh: The great King is characterized by loving-kindness (v.9), righteousness (v.10) and just decisions for this good of His people (v.11). In addition, He keeps His people safe (our stronghold, v. 3). This wonderful God reigns supreme and is worthy of all praise. (The 'far north' v.2 in heathen lore was thought to be the abode of the gods. Not so: in Jerusalem the true God reigns.)

"As is Your Name, O God, so is Your praise to the ends of the earth." (v.10)

Earthly kings are nothing in His Presence: When earthly kings see the towers, ramparts and palaces which bring the pilgrims joy and confidence (v.12-14), they in contrast are afraid of the Lord of the hosts of heaven's armies who will cause Zion to stand forever (v.4-8). We rather are joyful, confident and expectant, trusting His character, wisdom and protection.


Personal Application: Though the kings of the earth gather, alternately in fear and rage (v.4-6), He is my father and protector and I will be at peace. I will be hopeful and joyful and confident among the kings of the earth who will fall.

My Prayer: Father, thank you for being my stronghold. Thank you that though to kings of the earth do what they can, they will not stand. I worship You, Lord and King of Hosts!

Psalm 49


The value of the soul: No matter how we might anguish over this most important question of the ages, none of us can redeem our own soul or the soul of someone we love (v.7-9). God alone redeems our souls for eternity so to Him we turn in simple trust. We are utterly dependent on Him who has redeemed us in Christ and who will receive us by His grace (v.15).


Misplaced Hope and Fear - the Rich: Since the (often wicked) rich and powerful cannot keep anyone alive (v.6,7) - least of all themselves (v.12) or even the memory of themselves (v.11) - we would be foolish to curry their favor for any false security. They cannot give hope. Nor should we fear them (v.5, 16) since they can do nothing to take our true security. So we can treat them like anyone else, rich or poor.


Misplaced Hope - Things: Because God gives what alone is ultimately valuable (redemption of our souls and communion with Him), I need not fear loss of what is not ultimate (v.5), nor strive for what I cannot hold (v.10-12).


Personal Application: Understanding the nature of true and misplaced hope simplifies life and it's priorities. I will not seek the temporary glory of the praise of man. Therefore I need and will not speak of what I have or do. Nor will I seek the false security of things. Therefore I will be generous and not worry about markets. I will seek only the everlasting hope which comes from the Lord.

My Prayer: Lord, help me keep the perspective of eternity always and to live my life accordingly.

"Why should I fear in days of adversary, when the iniquity of my foes surrounds me?" (v.5) "But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me." (v.15)

Psalm 50 (Asaph wrote also psalms 73-83.)


Heavenly court: God the righteous Judge (v.6) summons of all the earth "from the rising of the sun to its setting" (v.1) to hear His verdict against His people and to take corrective measures - i.e. to "order his way aright" (v.23) - so as to see the salvation of God.

God is not honored with insincere sacrifices; He does not need bulls and goats for He owns them already (v.9-13). Nor does God want a verbal honoring of His covenant when the heart is undisciplined (v.16) and has no intention of loving obedience.

God's righteousness does not ignore visible behavior, far from it, but looks first at the roots of the visible, in the human heart. God is not fooled by, nor is He to be served with, external behaviours (sacrifices, v.8) but with a grateful, trusting and obedient heart (v.14) God desires hearts which fully depend on Him in every difficulty (v.15) while seeking to live rightly (v.23) in loving relationship with all (18-20).


God's righteousness is to be lived before it is spoken. For the privilege of speaking of God's law and covenant we must live in a way that honours Him (v.16). This is said not to dissuade God's people from speaking of Him, rather to encourage us to speak out of a heart fully devoted to Him. Words without a life to match are without value to reveal the only true God; life without words is also incomplete.


Personal Application: By Your grace I will enter Your presence with thankfulness and loving dependence, and each social situation with a heart seeking to express love and righteousness.

My Prayer: Father, tune my heart to dependency and gratitude and love. Purify likewise your church that those who call on your Name honor You with their hearts and love for neighbour, that no just accusation be made against us, dishonoring You.

Psalm 51


It is God against whom I sin (v.4) even when my sin hurts others, both because 1.) it is God's standard of holiness I violate when wounding a fellow human being and because 2.) God is immanent (as well as transcendent) and is therefore sinned against when I hurt others or His creation. David does not minimize his bloodguilt against Uriah (v.14) but acknowledges that, in his adultery and murder, he sinned first and even primarily against God.

    John Owen preached, "You must be killing sin or sin will be killing you."

Freedom begins with confession: How wonderfully, honestly and thoroughly David brings his sin to God. There is no shortcut, no ignoring sin hoping it will just go away, no other way to become free. David is crushed by his own sin as if his bones were broken (v.8). Perhaps all who confess deeply with this realization know the feeling David expresses. Likewise I can offer nothing to God but a broken and contrite heart (v.17).


David asks for forgiveness in two ways, objectively and subjectively, neither of which he can do: Only God can blot out his sin (v.9), keeping David in His presence (v.11). Only God can do deep work in David's inner being: creating a clean heart, steadfast spirit (v.10), restored joy and renewed will to do right (v.12). Only a clean, restored and clear heart can allow further service.


God forgives: I cannot by myself get away from my sin or its guilt (v.3), only God can "blot out all my iniquities" (v.9) and restore me (v.10-12). Gratefully I acknowledge (v.17): "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." God alone, as I confess my sin, restores the joy of my salvation.


Personal Application: Therefore I will come quickly, immediately when I become aware, with my temptation, sin and guilt to the Lord for cleansing, forgiveness and release.

My Prayer: Lord, enable me to be honest with myself ('truth in the innermost being' v.6) in a daily 'examin' process. Each day anew, keeping very short accounts, please grant me a clean, steadfast (v.10), joyful and willing (v.12) spirit.

Psalm 52


God is good and our confidence when evil has wounded or seems to prevail (as it did when Doeg betrayed David in I Sam. 21-22). David doesn't attempt to 'solve' the 'problem of evil' as a philosopher but rests in God who alone can and will solve it.


Evil use of the Tongue: the focus is not so much on speaking falsehood (v.3) in the sense of that which is untrue but on purposefully speaking, though there may be truth in it, that which will destroy - physically, emotionally or spiritually.


The same evil heart of Doeg the Edomite, who Saul brought into his administration though Doeg shared not allegiance to Yahweh, and whose heart was willing to speak evil of Ahimelech the priest, was also willing to kill 85 innocent men, all servants of the Lord (I Sam. 21-22).


The value of silence: To do good with the tongue also involves knowing when silence pleases the Lord; not only to avoid lies but also gossip, sarcasm, unkind and unnecessary words.


Contrasting ends: Those who do evil with their tongues or hands are broken down and uprooted by the Lord (v.5). Those who live for the Lord are fruitful, blessed and grateful (v.8,9).


Personal Application: I will be strong in the Lord in the face of evil, disappointment or difficulty - because God is good (v.8-9) and will triumph. When disturbed by the presence of evil or evil men, I will remind myself of their end (v.5) and of the Lord's coming to set things right (v.9).


v.8 "But as for me, I am like a green olive tree (symbolizing prosperity and longevity) in the house of God; I trust in the loving-kindness of God forever and ever."


My Prayer: Father, make me strong, confident in You and patient in history as I worship and obey You and "wait on" (v.9) the coming of the Day of the Lord!


Psalm 53

Rejection of God leads to corruption, injustice (v.1) and heartless wickedness (v.4). Atheism has no basis for morality or restraint born of the expectation of accountability.

God is the source of our salvation (v.6); to reject God (v.1) is therefore to suffer ultimate loss. One who does so is a fool as one cutting the branch on which he sits.


Doctrine affects conduct: What one believes is not of theoretical or armchair interest. People live consistently with what they believe. Doctrine (e.g. 'no God' v.1, therefore no accountability) always eventually affects conduct (e.g. 'corrupt') cf. vs.1b & 3.


Decisions of the Heart: The decision to deny God is birthed not in one's mind but in one's heart (v.1). Arguments to the contrary are deceptive as the root of rejection is first emotional.

The heart has reasons of which the minds knows not. It's not that the mind is not of great value, it is. (I won't expand on the value of the mind here; many others have done so eloquently.) Yet the mind is directed by the heart, not vice versa. And we can perceive with our hearts what cannot be perceived with our minds. 

God's Initiative: Since God finds no one on the earth is good as He is or who naturally seeks Him (v.2-3), He must put even the desire to seek Him into our hearts.


Personal Application: I will turn my heart towards God continually to learn wisdom (cf. 'fool' v.1). I will, by His grace, seek His face continually and be satisfied with nothing less.

My Prayer: "Father, thank for helping me see that the issues of the mind are always issues of the heart first. Father, keep my heart pure, in Jesus' name, Amen."

Psalm 54


Those who set themselves up against us: Why some set themselves up as enemies against us is not always clear. Sometimes even those who have little or nothing to gain by doing so, set their heart on harming others. This was David's experience in I Sam. 23 while running from Saul. Yet God sustains us in the face of those who set themselves, as His enemies, against us (v.3). Cf. v. 4: "Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul."


The God who is Greater: David rejoices (v.7) because God foiled the intention of the people of Ziph by prompting the Philistines to provide a distraction to Saul (1 Sam. 23:28). God honors those who trust Him in the face of their enemies. Even if we were to perish we are eternally better off in His hands.  


Personal Application: I will trust the Lord when those who are "without regard for God" (v.3) are against me. Some enemies refuse reconciliation or love and remain implacable and I must entrust them to God (v.5b).


My Prayer: Father, why some reject You (Ps.53:1; 54:3) I don't understand, but Lord, protect us from their hostility, helping me even to love those who make themselves my enemies for Your sake as Jesus did on the Cross. 


Psalm 55


Ryrie: "David prays in anguish (with respect to himself, vs. 1-8), in anger (with respect to his enemies, vs. 9-15), in assurance (with respect to God, vs. 16-23)."


Betrayal is painful and all the worse when it comes at the hand of a friend. Jesus experienced this from Judas; David from the unnamed leader of a group that seeks him harm. David yearns to escape to a safe place (v.6-8) both from his emotional pain (v.4) and from bloodshed (v.5,23).


Response: David prays God will confuse (v.9) and remove those who have turned against him (v.15, 23), confident in the Lord because of God's unchanging commitment to justice (v.19), because He hears and saves (v.16f) and because has repeatedly demonstrated Himself fully worthy of trust (v.23). There is no thought of David personally taking vengeance; this David leaves entirely to the Lord.


Personal Application: While God is faithful, humans in contrast break trust (v.13f, 20f) and wound their friends. I must be vigilant against breaking trust also; not self-seeking but trustworthy as the Lord. I will not allow a difference go unreconciled or to grow into broken trust. While I cannot always agree with my friends or do what they wish; I will not disagree or go a different direction behind their backs. I will be straightforward, explaining what I believe is right and why I will do it.


My Prayer: Lord, I'm grateful to have not suffered betrayal as you did in Gethsemane or as David speaks of here. Whether or not it happens, keep me faithful to others, as You are faithful. Enable me too to be a refuge for those who are wounded by the unfaithfulness of others.

Psalm 56

Fear is a universal human experience: Fear is natural when our safety, security or life is threatened. David doesn't deny or hide this: "when I am afraid" (v.3). It is not sinful or unspiritual to be afraid. Fleeing Saul, David in desperation fled to Saul's enemies, the Philistines, for refuge but wasn't safe there either (1 Samuel 21:10-15). His trust could only be in God (v.3). The evil at work in this world is fearsome but there is One who is greater. Therefore David purposes, v. 4: "I shall not be afraid."

God knows: David knows God is fully aware of his fears and sorrows. His rhetorical questions in v. 8 include a rhyme between "sorrows" (Hebrew nod) and "bottle" (Hebrew no’d).

The Limits of Man's Harm: David's question, "what can mere man do to me?" (v.4) does not suggest man can do little harm - history shows the great harm man has and can do - only that there is a limit to the harm man can do. In the Lord, David was confident mere mortals could do nothing to him that God did not permit (v.4, 11).

As Jesus pointed out, man can kill only the body but not our soul (Matt. 10:28), as evidenced by the cross and resurrection. Some will scoff at this limit saying it is not enough. I too wish God always saved physically and don't know why sometimes He does so miraculously and sometimes only spiritually. More importantly however, His final salvation is sure and this gift is far greater.

God is For Me: Ultimately David rests in the knowledge "this I know, that God is for me" (v.9); the wonderful truth Paul develops further in Romans 8. Everything rests on this. There is much in life that is against us and God could be simply neutral, which could be understood as 'fair,' but He is not simply 'fair' but He is for us. Love is not neutral. God demonstrated this in loving us while we were against Him as sinners, yet dying for us (Romans 5:8).

Personal Application: Before I sleep, I will pray for dreams from God, and against dreams from the enemy of my soul. When facing non-physical opposition (to ideas or suggestions), I will not take rejection personally. When facing physical danger, I will trust the Lord. "In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (v.11).

My Prayer: Father, thank you that You are for me and, as I trust You, protect me from anything You do not permit. Lord, protect the oppressed from those they know and from hostile strangers. Break in miraculously to save. Make the instinctive cry of our hearts for You.

Psalm 57

Danger lurks: around us all, from the possibility of accident or ill-health to evil persons, as dangerous as lions (v.4). David, surrounded by the forces of Saul, knew no way of escape. The cave in which he took refuge was not enough; only God could be his ultimate Passover protection (Exodus 12) till destruction passes by (v.1). Whether we are aware of dangers around us or (sometimes mercifully) not, the Lord is our protector.

God Saves: David's confidence is in "God Most High" (v.2). This all-powerful God will send loving-kindness and truth from heaven to save (v.3). As a bird protects her young, God covers His own in the face of danger (v.1).

Steadfast: He causes my heart to be unshaken (v.7), even to soar with praise (v.7-11). God's praise is not only David's to sing but His glory is for all the earth to rejoice (v.11).


As we trust the Lord over time, we can look back, seeing how often the Lord has protected us, that our hearts grow increasing steadfast (v.7) as we await His salvation. Years of the Lord's faithfulness mounts confidence and, with David (v. 7), we find that we can actually sing, perhaps to the surprise of those around us (v. 9), also in the face of danger.


God's Glory will Fill the Earth: David's song (v. 10-11) fills the present and the future. Today God's loving-kindness is "great to the heavens" and "His truth to the clouds" (v. 10). In the future God will be "exalted above the heavens and His glory be above all the earth" (v. 11).


Personal Application: I will not be shaken though storms of destruction pass. I will take refuge in Him, and from the shelter of His presence I will joy in the Lord. To my soul: Peace, be still, in Him.


My Prayer: Father, You have been patient as I gradually learned to trust You in smaller storms, and later in life in larger storms. Help me now to trust and praise, steadfast in every storm!


Psalm 58


Justice is a Mark of Good Government: Humanity is born sinful (v.3) and inclined not to listen to God (v.4-5). Therefore it is the role of government to provide justice. But many administrators of justice, then as now, further their own interests rather than those of the needy. David challenges the rulers who judge Israel ('gods' v.1) unjustly, even adding to evil in the land personally (v.2-5).


Corruption remains the primary scourge of government. The consistent rule of (compassionate, but just) law is more foundational even than democracy, since democracy can also be subject to corruption.


Injustice begins in the heart: David sees the heart, when it is unrighteous before God, as the birthplace of injustice which results in violence (v.2).


Injustice makes us burn within, especially when we receive it from those tasked to provide justice. David expresses this righteous anger vividly in vs. 6-9. Some question the legitimacy of imprecatory psalms as beneath godly men. We need to be honest with ourselves also, asking "how will I respond emotionally to unjust men or women?" Will I respond lightly (e.g. v.7 "let the unjust flow away like water"); or more powerfully (e.g. v.6: "O God, break the fangs of the young lions")? David expresses both.


Thankfully we may expect justice from God even when we do not receive it from men; even from those (judges) specifically tasked with providing it. God's judgment will come suddenly (v.9) and this certainty of vindication brings joy to the godly (v.10-11). On that day at last everyone will say, "There truly is a reward for those who live for God; surely there is a God who judges justly here on earth."


Personal Application: Evil is such that gratefully I will receive justice from God, even rejoice. I will not be overwhelmed but be strong and constant in hope for justice from the Lord.

Prayer: Lord, it is so hard to be still in the face of injustice. And, especially with injustice to the weak, it is wrong to do so. Give courage to demand justice from the unjust rather than be silent. Father, we cry out as the persistent widow (Luke 18)!

Psalm 59 (context: 1 Sam 19:11-18.)


Opposition in life is inevitable but this is the test: when it happens I, like David (v.3-4), must be careful to examine myself before the Lord to see that the opposition of others is not in response to my sin against them or others. It is desperately easy to feel self-righteous when opposed. We must look deeply within before calling on the Lord to remove the opposition. Who opposes you? Why?

In unjust opposition God is our stronghold (v.9) and shield (v.11), our strength and refuge (v.16), the one who shows us lovingkindness. In fact, David knows God's lovingkindness to be so great he feels he must ask God not be gracious to the treacherous (literally, "those who do evil under cover", v. 5).


A Request to Limit God's intervention: Even for those who desire, in their opposition, to kill him (v.3), David does not ask death in return, but that the Lord remove them ("scatter," v.11), that "men may know that God rules" (v.13). Even in David's call for justice, there is a request for delay in God's final justice.


Thanksgiving: Confident in God's intervention or in response to it, David reminds us of the importance of giving thanks to the Lord for His grace and protection:  "But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, For You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress." (v.16)


Personal Application: I will ask the Lord to help me still my heart in Him when faced with threats or imminent danger.

My prayer: Father, remove the unjust and violent far from those they torment. Be their, and our, shield and stronghold. Show the world that it is You who are full of lovingkindness. Turn the hearts of evil men to You. In Christ alone, Amen.

Psalm 60


Background: This psalm and possibly the next several prayers share the historical context of 2 Samuel 8. While David fought to defend Israel's borders in the north, Edom invaded and defeated Israel in the south. This defeat was inexplicable to David in the light of God's promise: "I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever" (2 Samuel 7:13).


Defeat is not always our fault. David was open to the possibility that God was angry due to sin (v.1). We should ask the Lord this question first when in defeat and repent quickly if we have walked in arrogance or other sin.


However sometimes defeat comes while we do right. We may in fact experience defeat while pursuing a goal given us by the Lord, our calling from Him or simply following the scriptures. David was doing so in 2 Samuel 7 and 8, the context of his defeat. When this happens (not "if"), we must not assume our task or calling was not of the Lord, or that the Lord is no longer with us, but rather seek Him more earnestly.


God is our only hope for victory so to Him alone we turn for deliverance. Hear David's prayer: "O give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain" (v.11). This is not to say we shouldn't work and pray with other believers for God's purpose and glory; we should. But David's prayer reminds us that our ultimate hope lies not in our strength or allies but in God alone.

A Prayer: "Father, thank you that You are our strength and salvation, that ultimately You "will tread down our adversaries" (v. 12). Help me in all circumstances of apparent defeat or victory to trust You always and only. In Jesus Name, Amen. 

The Larger Context: It is important to remember victory or defeat is always in a larger context we cannot yet see, but for which we trust the Lord. We should not quickly assume victory or defeat is final or complete but 1.) always praise God for victories as they come and 2.) be vigilant that this victory is not snatched from us by the enemy in subsequent complacency.


Psalm 61


Disheartened by the victory of Edom, David prays for strength and security (vs.1-2) based on the confidence that comes from God's nature (vs.3-4) and character (vs.5-6),. Confident only in the Lord for these reasons, David expresses in anticipation of God's preservation, praise and commitment (v.8).


God Hears even though I am faint and feel far from Him - "from the end of the earth I call to You" (v.2). We can therefore always call when troubled, "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I." (v.2)


God is faithful to preserve me as I seek to serve Him - both in this life (v.6) and in the life to come (v.7). He is the "rock that is higher than I" (v.2), our "refuge" and "tower of strength" (v.3) and "sheltering wings" (4) in times of trouble.


Personal Application: When disheartened by the evils surrounding me or others, I will call on the Lord who is my only hope with confidence because of His character and promises. I will walk in dependence and confidence in Him as I pursue His mission.

My Prayer: Thank you Lord that You are strong and always hear. Thank you that your lovingkindness and truth preserve us in times of trouble. My trust and confidence is in You.

Psalm 62


Unfair advantage: David experienced a common injustice when he was attacked while in a weakened condition (v.3). Satan and those used by him should not surprise us in this. Those who have been utterly alone and silent in their desperation will relate best to David's anguish. May you engage also David's trust in the Lord.


God Alone: David's confidence remained in God alone. God is uniquely our Saviour (v.1) because the Living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob alone is God. Trust nothing and no one but God, especially do not use others to lift yourself up. This temptation includes wealth, v.10: "If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them." The God we trust alone and without competitors is all powerful and full of loving-kindness (v.11-12).


Unshaken: When friends or enemies fail or seek to hurt us (v.3-4), God is our only refuge (v.8) and stronghold (v.6) and we may remain in Him unshaken (v.2, 6).


Personal Application: Let's seek to be conscious, in our next moment of stress, of the calmness of trust in God within, this especially in the very moments external circumstances are shaken. v.8: "Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us."

My Prayer: "Father, in our moments of greatest weakness (v.3) those who are against us and You do their best. Thank you that in You our anchor holds and we will not be greatly shaken (v.2). For You alone our soul waits in silence (v.1)."

Rendering judgment: Those who are deceitful weigh nothing in the balances (v.9) and will be found wanting when God renders all according to their work (v.12).

[Scripture speaks of two judgments: the first is one in which our faith in Christ is evaluated; those who trust in Christ enter heaven while those who trust in themselves or other inadequate resource go to a godless eternity known in scripture as hell. The second judgment is one of works where, in heaven or hell, our degree of punishment or reward is determined. The first of these judgments is ultimately most critical and the reason for the Cross of Christ. (I Corinthians 3:10-15)]

Psalm 63

God is the desire of David's being (vs. 1-4), the delight of his soul (vs. 5-8), the defense of his life (vs. 9-11). In deepest yearning only God satisfies.

Yearning for God: The difficult experiences of life often accent the depth of desire we have for the Lord. In this case David's physical thirst in the wilderness deepens awareness also of his spiritual thirst for the Lord (as fasting often deepens the intensity of our prayers).

Satisfaction in God: Because God's lovingkindness (lit. covenant loyalty) is better than life, I can and will praise Him even when hardship surrounds (v.3). Cf. also v.5: "You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy."

Only one who seeks God as earnestly as David in this psalm, is as deeply satisfied with God as is David. In my experience there are no shortcuts. Our seeking and satisfaction is never complete until we deeply know there is no other. And rejoice in Him!

Personal Application: I will not view yearning as privation but as a gift deepening my relationship with the Lord. May the Lord then be our yearning also, greater than all other yearnings, including life itself (v.3). "I will seek (v.1), thirst, yearn (v.2) for Him. I will have no greater desire."

My Prayer: "Father, until evil is finally fully removed from the new heavens and earth, my rest, peace and satisfaction is totally and only in You. To You I give praise as my only hope and confidence."

Psalm 64

God's response to the schemes of the wicked: There are those in every generation who make deliberate plans (v.2, 5) to oppose and destroy those who follow Yahweh in His redemptive mission (vs.1-6). Yet by His goodness and power Yahweh is our protection, refuge and glory (vs.7-10). 

The mystery and complexity of the human heart: God knows our inward thoughts including those we don't disclose, sometimes even to ourselves, and the depths of the heart of a man which cannot be plumbed by humans, v. 6: "The inward thought and the heart of a man are deep." It is not wise therefore to assume that we know our own hearts but rather that we ask the Lord to reveal the depths of our own hearts and motivations to us.

Dangers of the Tongue: There is much warning in Scripture about the harm done, intentionally (v.3-5) and unintentionally, by the tongue which, unless we tame it, simply reveals the depths of our hearts.

Trusting God in the Long View: Too often we accept evil as powerful, inevitable and assume nothing can be done. This Psalm assumes rather that God is against those who plot evil and that all men will finally hold the Lord in awe and declare His good works (v.9).

Our response in the meantime: We believe our universe to be moral in nature despite the evil in it because God is immanent and the Lord of history; we believe it ultimately because of the attributes of His character. Therefore, despite the assumptions of those who reject or know not God's righteousness, we will trust in the Lord when opposed or actively persecuted and will not cease to serve the Lord.

Personal Application: I will ask the Lord to show me the depths of my own heart so that I can ask Him to cleanse me of hidden darkness. Not only that of the world but also my own sin will yield to His glory!

My Prayer: "Father, keep my heart clear and steadfast in the face of opposition, trusting You and faithful to You. Lord, my anger sometimes rages at injustice and evil and I struggle to respond rightly. Yet I see Your active resistance in this Psalm and want to take evil no more lightly than You."

Psalm 65

End-of-Year Thanksgiving: It may be David celebrates harvest as we might the end of a calendar year. Interestingly David looks back and at the present, more than ahead. Sometimes we hear others, or ourselves, say: "I can't wait for the New Year. Last year was so hard. I want to forget it and look ahead." David likely also went through difficulties in the year but praises God: "even the hard pathways overflow with abundance." (v.11, NLT)

God is worthy of praise for His gracious favor (v. 1-4), greatness over all creation (v. 5-8) and abundant provision to His people (v. 9-13). He is also the One who hears prayer (v. 2), forgives sin (v. 3), is worthy of trust (v. 5) and causes the earth's bounty (v. 9-13). We are in a place of blessing, care and grace as we live and serve under His loving provision. 

Silence (v.1) can be a deep and powerful expression and experience of praise (v.1). Praise can range powerfully and meaningfully from full-throated roar to utter stillness in His overwhelming Presence. (Cf. the silence of heaven in Rev. 8:1 recognizing God's awesome power and right to judge.)

Personal Application: I will focus on the goodness of the Lord.

  • In celebrations of the New Year, I will reflect more with thanksgiving on God's good gifts past, then on what I desire for the year ahead.

  • When I become aware that I've again turned my eye away from His glorious light and love, temporarily distracted by some aspect of our fallen world or spiritual warfare, I will count out on my fingers 10 blessings.

My Prayer: Father, how blessed I am to be in You, chosen (v. 4) and provided for by You. Despite Satan's incursions, this is Father's world! I praise You! For your character and steadfast consistency with your goodness and magnificent attributes of your nature I give You thanks!

Psalm 66

God's Care and Provision: God is worthy of praise for He keeps us alive (v.9) and though He tests us (v.10-12), He keeps us from falling (v.9) and brings us into a place of abundance (v.12).

God is Worthy of Universal Praise: God's matchless worth is to be voiced among all the peoples of the earth (v.4 and 8). God's praise remains our mission and motivation (Acts 1:8), even among those who are rebellious (v.7) and those who feign obedience (v.3).

Personal Application: I will speak of God's goodness to those I see daily, not only because doing so may lead some to a desire for right relationship with their Father in heaven, but equally because doing so is an expression of praise and God is worthy to be praised before all the earth (v. 3).

My Prayer: Father, You are worthy to be praised by all peoples throughout eternity. Help me to be among that mighty throng and to call all I know to join with them for Your Glory!

Psalm 67

Purpose of Blessing: The psalmist reminds us of the blessing prepared for God's people (Num 6:24-26) and it's purpose. God's gracious blessing is both for His people (v.1) and specifically to cause all the nations to turn to know and praise Him (v.5) for His salvation, justice and mercy (v.2) .


Preparation of a People: The whole of the Old Testament is the story of God's work to prepare a people (the Hebrews) to be a missionary people to all nations (v.2); a beacon of salvation that all peoples might praise their creator and redeemer (v.5). Sadly, Israel didn't fully grasp their calling and at times themselves wandered far afield.


That calling is now extended to include the church who understands it better and obeys it in part but also not universally. Followers of Christ have been called to extend the mission of Christ and this mission exists, as it did for Israel, that all the peoples may know and praise God their Saviour (v.3).

Personal Application: I will not feel guilty for receiving God's blessing or fail to share it freely that all may know and praise Him. When people comment on any of God's blessings - health, goods, relationships - I will say, "It's from the Lord, God is good."

I will be generous with time and with those goods. Witness to the nations may be part of why Jesus says, "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." (Matt. 5:42).

My Prayer: Father, we have taken Your blessings for granted and assumed them to be primarily for us, without being equally committed to Your ultimate purpose of turning the peoples around us to You, even those who resist You. Lord, forgive us and revision us to Your purposes for Your goodness - the salvation of the earth.

Psalm 68


A psalm of victory (composed perhaps on the occasion of 2 Sam. 6:12 when the ark of God's covenant was moved into the Temple) calls the wicked to flee before God (v.1-6), celebrates Israel's victorious march out of Egypt (v.7-18) to establish His throne in Jerusalem (v.19-31) and calls all the world to worship Him (v.32-35).


Celebrating the Wonders of God: The Hebrew names of God in this celebration are varied and wonderful: Elohim (v. 1), Jah (an abbreviation of Yahweh (v.4), El Shaddai (v.14), Yahweh (v.16), Yah Elohim (v. 18), Adonai (v. 19) and Yahweh Adonai (v20). Each of the names and their combinations warrant study and worship.


God's Goodness: God bears our burdens (v.19) and is our salvation and deliverance from evil (v.1) and death (v.20). God is the fountain (source) of Israel (v.26) and is our strength (v.28,35) and provision, especially for those who are most needy (v.5-6). He scatters those who delight in war (v.30).


God's victory will be complete. The godly hope and rejoice in the prospect of God’s universal dominion (NLT). Our mission is to follow Him closely and advance His good purposes throughout the earth.


In the midst of a violent world, God's people can yet be glad in His goodness and sing for joy (v.3) at His greatness (v.8,19-20) and invite the kingdoms of the earth to do the same (v.32). God's purpose is to bring blessing and peace to all those nations who acknowledge Him. Those who persist in being His enemies will be destroyed (v.1-2, 21-23).


My practical response: In our world which wants many gods and resists the only True God, I will serve only Yahweh. I will call all the earth and each individual to turn to the God of Scripture for salvation and eternal blessing in His Messiah.

My Prayer: Father, thank you for your gracious reign through David who pointed to the gracious reign of our Lord Jesus. May the wicked be scattered (v.1), wars cease (v.30) and all the earth know and love You.

Psalm 69


David and Jesus: Though David experienced unjustified persecution from his mentor King Saul, Jesus suffered far greater unjustified persecution. For this reason perhaps Ps. 69 is one of the most quoted Psalms in the New Testament. Cf. v.8 with John 7:3-5; v.9 with John 2:17 & Rom. 15:3; v. 21 with Matt. 27:34; v. 25 with Matt. 23:38. Ultimately Jesus was rescued not from the cross but through the resurrection.


God is Our Rescuer: We look to the Lord for refuge and rescue when our enemies persecute us unjustly. We therefore cry out urgently, boldly and persistently (v.1-3) to the Lord when hemmed in and in trouble (v.1-4). How great is the One who overcomes the evil of the evil ones!  33: "The LORD hears the needy and does not despise His own who are prisoners."


Integrity Under Persecution: Even when fighting for my life I will live to bring honour to the Lord. I do not want my sin and weakness to cause those who trust the Lord to be discouraged or the Lord to be dishonoured by my behavior or attitude (v.6). The Lord knows my sin and foolishness and I seek Him to protect those who love Him from being harmed by my shortcomings.

My Prayer: Father, hold me steadfast though I be attacked unjustly. Keep my heart right. "May those who wait for You not be ashamed through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; may those who seek You not be dishonored through me, O God of Israel." (v.6)

Psalm 70


God's people come under urgent pressure from those who respect neither them or God. This should not be surprising in that when God is rejected, His people, and the value He places on us, are naturally disrespected and persecuted by the world in consequence of their rejection of Him who loves us.


Yet God is our help and deliverer (v. 1, 5). We can ask God to "turn back" (v. 2-3) those who seek our hurt; and in this to hasten and not delay (v.5).


When pressured and afflicted, we are encouraged to take two positions:

  1. To be among those who seek the Lord and love His salvation (v. 4); though persecuted without cause I will rejoice and be glad in Him, "Let those who love Your salvation say continually, "Let God be magnified."  

  2. Pray: v.5: "Hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay."

It is not a lack of faith to cry out urgently to God, but an expression of it. Can you imagine having no one to call out to for help and salvation?


My Prayer: Father, deliver us from evil and from those who desire our hurt (v.2b). In times of need for protection and help, please help me see You, seek You, be glad in You, even as I call on You: "Hasten to me, O God!"


Psalm 71


The Older Believer: Need, Calling and Perspective. The aged psalmist (v.9, 18) is more vulnerable to his enemies, perhaps due to his age (v.9-11) and yet, due to long experience with God, is greatly confident in the Lord's deliverance (v.17-19). In addition, he feels his calling ever more urgently; to declare to the next generation the goodness of Lord before he dies, and all who are yet to come (v.18):


v.17-18: An important ministry of older believers is to declare God's salvation, goodness and power as a testimony to the younger generation. Older believers have life experience, stories to tell and earned respect.


v.15 "I will tell everyone about your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power, though I am not skilled with words (NLT) / though I do not know the sum of them." (ASV)  The Hebrew text can be rendered either way and both translations speak important truth - we are called to testify to the Lord even if not naturally good with words testifying to God's inexhaustible mercies which cannot be known or counted that all may praise Him (v18c). 


The Older Believer's Testimony is this: God is faithful showing mercy without limit (v.15) to His children - from their youth (v.6, 17) into old age (v.18). He will protect those who call upon Him (v.12) from ruthless men (v.4) and is our constant hope (v.14). The elderly recognize, perhaps more than most, that we never cease being dependant on the Lord for life itself and its sustenance (v.6) in our journey and mission.


My response: I will call on the Lord for deliverance in all circumstances (v.1-4), hope continually (v.14), praise Him for his righteousness and glory (v.8,16) and tell of His salvation to the next generation (v.18).

My Prayer: Father, I will praise You always for your grace and goodness. You are our only hope in this dark world of ruthless men in rebellion against You. Help me to trust and praise You in all circumstances and hope in You continually (v.14)

Psalm 72


God desires to bring blessing to all the peoples of the earth. One earthly means of bringing blessing is through righteous kings who reflect God's character and are accountable to Him. Solomon prays that Israel's kings will be supremely good and prosperous, extending God's blessing on the whole earth. The surpassing righteousness and dominion sought in Solomon's prayer anticipates the coming of Jesus, the Son of David.


The mission of earthly rulers is to follow God and bless His people in righteousness (v.1-4), peace (v.5-7), power (v.8-11), compassion (v.12-15), and prosperity (v.16-17). The church must call earthly rulers to their responsibility and model in it's community these blessings of God's reign.


Shalom cannot exist without righteousness. For this reason righteousness (right relationships) - and the justice which is required for righteousness - must come first. The role of the king must therefore include, in order to defend the poor against injustice and rescue them from violence, bringing their oppressors to account for their wrongdoing (v.4, 12-14) NLT).


My Reponse: I will first seek the Lord for His righteousness, peace, power, compassion and prosperity in my life also drawing on His character. I will model these blessings in Christian community. I will ask - even demand - earthly rulers to pursue these blessings of God in their stewardship of caring for God's people.


Canada's Motto: Psalm 72:8 is the motto of Canada (official since 1921, suggested in 1866 by Sir Samuel Tilley of New Brunswick, a father of Confederation): "He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." (KJV)  May not only Canada, but all the nations of the earth, submit to the King of Kings and know His righteousness, peace, power, compassion and prosperity!

My Prayer: Father, how great are the blessings of those who will welcome your reign and how great is our need of your Kingdom of righteousness, peace, power, compassion and prosperity! Turn the hearts of the nations to You, the hearts of the rulers of the nations, the hearts of the peoples of the nations - please Lord, by your great mercy!