# 91 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 19. God’s truth on tour.

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Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), a German philosopher, inspired by the words of Psalm 19, said: “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more seriously one reflects on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” (Critique of Practical Reason 1788).

 

Psalm 19 helps us to appreciate these “two things”. Listen to David’s words (from the Passion Version):

 

[Gods story in the skies]

God’s splendour is a tale that is told;

His testament is written in the stars.

Space itself speaks his story everyday

Through the marvels of the heavens.

His truth is on tour in the starry-vault of the sky,

Showing his skill in creation’s craftsmanship.

Each day gushes out its message to the next,

Night with night whispering its knowledge to all.

Without a sound, without a word,

Without a voice being heard,

Yet all the world can see its story,

Everywhere its gospel,

Is clearly read so all may know.

What a heavenly home God has set for the sun,

Shining in the superdome of the sky!

See how he leaves his celestial chamber each morning,

Radiant as a bridegroom ready for the wedding,

Like a day-breaking champion eager to run his course.

He rises on one horizon, completing his circuit on the other;

Warming lives and lands with his heart.

 

[God’s story in the Scriptures]

God’s Word is perfect in every way,

How it revives our souls!

His laws lead us to truth,

And his ways change the simple into wise.

His teachings make us joyful and radiate his light;

His precepts are so pure!

His commands, how they challenge us

To keep close to his heart!

The revelation-light of his Word makes my spirit shine radiant.

Every one of the Lord’s commands are right,

Following them brings cheer.

Nothing he says ever needs to be changed.

The rarest treasures of life are found in his truth.

That’s why I prize God’s Word like others prize the finest gold.

Nothing brings the soul such sweetness

As seeking his living words.

For they warn us, his servants,

And keep us from following the wicked way,

Giving a lifetime guarantee:

Great success to every obedient soul!

Without this revelation light

How would I ever detect

The waywardness of my heart?

 

[Our story from the heart]

Lord, forgive my hidden flaws whenever you find them.

Keep cleansing me, God,

And keep me from my secret, selfish sins;

May they never rule over me!

For only them will I be free from fault

And remain innocent of rebellion.

So may the words of my mouth,

My meditation-thoughts,

And every movement of my heart

Be always pure and pleasing,

Acceptable before your eyes,

My only Redeemer, my Protector-God.

 

Kidner summarizes the psalm as follows:

 

“The very sound of the two movements…tells something of their two concerns: the broad sweep of God’s wordless revelation in the universe in…verses 1-6…and the clarity of His written word, reflected in…verses 7-10, to which the heart-searching of verses 11-14 is the worshipper’s response.”    (see references # 29)

 

[For more about this psalm, which Wilcock calls “one of the most memorable psalms in…any part of the Psalter” (see references # 5), then check out my earlier posts as follows:

# 19 Psalm of Praise (Psalm 19 introduction)

# 20 No Excuse (Psalm 19:1-6)

# 21 Fully Alive (Psalm 19:7-11)

# 22 Six Qualities (Psalm 19:7-11)

# 23 My Rock (Psalm 19:12-14)]

 

Father, thank you for the revelation you have given us through your creation and your Word. In response,

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.    Amen.

 

# 90 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 18. With my God I can scale a wall.

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Broyles calls this psalm “a royal psalm of military victory”. And as we move on to the concluding verses of the psalm we can see why. Listen to what King David has to say:

 

29 With [God’s] help I can advance against a troop,
with my God I can scale a wall…

32 It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect…
34 He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 You make your saving help my shield,
and your right hand sustains me;
your help has made me great…
37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
    I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
38 I crushed them so that they could not rise;
    they fell beneath my feet.
39 You armed me with strength for battle;
you humbled my adversaries before me.
40 
You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
and I destroyed my foes.
41 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—
to the Lord, but he did not answer.
42 I beat them as fine as windblown dust;
I trampled them like mud in the streets.
43 You have delivered me from the attacks of the people;
    you have made me the head of nations.
People I did not know now serve me,
44     foreigners cower before me;
as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
45 They all lose heart;
they come trembling from their strongholds.

 

The most important thing about David’s words though is that David acknowledges that without God’s help, God’s strength, God’s intervention, there would have not been such a victory. Certainly, David did all that was expected of him as the Warrior King, but it was God who ultimately made the difference.

 

In fact, David summarizes the situation by saying,

 

30 As for God, his way is perfect…
   31 For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?

…your help has made me great.
32 It is God who arms me with strength
and [He] makes my way perfect…

 

With so much tension in our world in these troubled times, and with so many people, particularly in Syria, but also in other places, dying due to senseless killing by all those involved, we certainly do not want to glorify war. As one ANZAC veteran said at my grandchildren’s school assembly recently, “In the end, no one wins in war.”

 

But, at the same time, we can’t hide our heads in the sand either. As Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (a German philosopher, 1770-1831) once said, “History proves that man learns nothing from history”, and so wars have continued throughout the ages, and sadly will continue until the Lord returns.

 

Then of course as we read the Bible, we realize that there is another dimension to all this that we can’t forget and that is spelled out very clearly for us by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6 as follows:

 

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

 

And so, Paul exhorts us as believers to:

 

10 be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

 

Sounds a lot like what David did at the time of writing Psalm 18.

 

And, as a result, he experienced victory and so can we.

 

I love the way David then concludes this wonderful Psalm with praise, thankfulness and adoration, giving us an example to follow:

 

46 The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be God my Saviour!
47 He is the God who avenges me,
who subdues nations under me,
48     who saves me from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
from a violent man you rescued me.
49 Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing the praises of your name.

50 He gives his king great victories;
he shows unfailing love to his anointed,
to David and to his descendants forever.

 

It would be easy to get down when we watch the news on TV and hear of all the injustices, atrocities done in the name of one religion or another and the suffering of innocent people, but Easter reminds us that the Ultimate Victory has been won.

 

Jesus “by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross… has now been exalted [by God] to the highest place
and [He has given] him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:8-11)

 

Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.          (1 Corinthians 15:57)

 

Father, enable us, in this spiritual warfare we find ourselves in, to not only stand firm, but advance against a troop, and with you, our God…to scale a wall…It is you God who arms us with strength and makes our way perfect. In these tumultuous days we live in, train our hands for battle. May we, your people, be strong in you Lord and in your mighty power. And may we praise you, Lord, among the nations, for you, Lord, are their only hope. Amen

 

# 89 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 18 He delights in me.

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“…he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (v 19)

 

That’s where we ended our last conversation about this amazing psalm. David now continues and so it seems, at face value anyway, to share with us, the reader, why God “delights” in him and rescued him. Listen to his words:

 

20 The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
I am not guilty of turning from my God.
22 All his laws are before me;
I have not turned away from his decrees.
23 I have been blameless before him
and have kept myself from sin.
24 The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

 

Possibly, one of the first thoughts you had as you read these words of David was of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. Maybe you remembered the story from Luke’s Gospel chapter 18:9-14 which says:

 

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

 

But, somehow, this does not seem to fit with the David that we know so well from his history and from the devotional songs and poems he wrote, the man described by God himself as “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). So, if this is not a case of David boasting about how good he is, then what is it?

 

Wilcock warns us “against taking things at face value.” He doesn’t believe that “it depicts a man who reckons that the basis of his relationship with God, and therefore the most important thing in the world, is his own good character.” He continues, “I do not recognize in that portrait the man of verses 1-19, who is in love with God, who sees God bringing blessing out of every crisis of his life, who marvels that God should have done all these things for him. The most important thing in this man’s world is his God.

So, we are not to imagine that it was David’s virtues which originally endeared him to the Lord. The springs of that first delight were not in David’s deserving but in God’s undeserved and unaccountable love…

No, the claim and the reward…are not the making of a relationship, they arise within a relationship which has already been made…It is a confidence that those who out of love for the Lord want to walk in the ways of the Lord (v. 21) will find that the blessing of the Lord will come to meet them. He delights to reward obedience.” (see references # 5)

 

And so David continues:

 

25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
27 You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty

 

In his so-called “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus describes the person who is “blessed” or, we could say, in whom the Lord “delights”, in a way that amazed those who were listening. He said:

 

      3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit…
Blessed are those who mourn…
Blessed are the meek…
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…
Blessed are the merciful…
Blessed are the pure in heart…

Blessed are the peacemakers…
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”                          (Matthew 5:3-11)

 

Of course, none of this is possible by our own efforts at being “righteous”. If any of these character traits are to be revealed in our lives it will be the result of being in an intimate relationship with the One who spoke them. As we walk in obedience to Him and He lives His life through us as he described in John 15:

 

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

 

Father, as we consider the chaos and sadness of our world around us, we desire to be different, so as to bring hope to all we meet. Not with a “holier-than-thou” attitude, but to be like You, the one who “humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Amen.