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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Psalms 16-20

Michtam is a word used to describe a song or poem with highly valued content. Sometimes it is translated as "golden" and indicates it is precious as gold, denoting a composition so precious as to be worthy to be engraven on a durable tablet for preservation; or, as others render, "a psalm precious as stamped gold," (Easton's Bible Dictionary) Michtam may also have been a musical reference or instruction.

Psalms 16

David seeks God and puts his trust in Him. Then he seeks other people who trust in Him. He avoids those who worship and sacrifice to other gods. He knows their problems will increase because they are not following after the true God.

He claims the Lord as his by inheritance. Now it is his turn to call for obedience. He recognizes God's counsel and instruction. The good things of life are in God's hands.

Come take of his bounty and the rejoice of his presence.

Psalms 17

It is possible to be distraught and suffer anguish even when we have committed no sin or error. Circumstances in life may bring pressure and anxiety, even to the righteous. David went to God with this kind of need. We don't need to heap criticism and guilt on ourselves, but it is still God who has the resources to soothe and strengthen us.

Examine your actions and make sure you don't have any sin to confess or any mistakes to correct, then leave it in God's hands.
Satan does take advantage of weakness in the Spirit.

Verse 7 reveals the place of safety and reminds us of God's constant watchfulness:

Show me the wonders of your great love,
    you who save by your right hand
    those who take refuge in you from their foes.

Keep me as the apple of your eye;   

I really love the reference to God's right hand. It is used many times in both the Old Testament and the New. The Right Hand indicated authority and power. In Latin, the left hand implies harmful or sinister motives. The right hand means approval. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God.

David sets a role model for us. He will not confront his enemies, but he asks God to act for him. He goes into detail about the actions of the evil enemies. He builds a convincing case against them, but he leaves the retribution to God. We will do well to follow his example.

Psalms 18

Psalms 18 describes David's praise of God in the case of his deliverance from Saul. This needs a little refresher course on the previous events in David's life. 

Saul was the first king of Israel, but he was disobedient and presumptuous, and God told Samuel he would be rejected. Samuel tried to claim forgiveness and repentance for Saul, but when he continued in his arrogance, Samuel anointed David to succeed him.(1 Samuel 16) Saul was still King, and David was still herding his father's sheep. The Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul. An evil spirit tormented Saul, so they sought for a musician to play a lyre to calm him when this happened. Someone knew about David's skill in music and they sought him out. 

David impressed Saul. He was helpful with the vexations from the evil spirit and he was good company. He brought with him, wine, bread and meat. Saul received relief and David went home.

Chapter 17 of 1 Samuel tells the story of David and Goliath, and Saul is reminded of the brave and talented young man.

David was given command of troops and was successful in his campaigns. (1 Samuel 18) Saul grows jealous of David's success. Saul promised David his daughter Michal marriage.  Both Michal and Jonathan warned David and helped him escape Saul's anger. David never tried to kill Saul though he had opportunities.

David ran from the attack of Saul for years recounted in the rest of 1 Samuel. The death of Saul is recounted in both 1 Samuel 31 and 2 Samuel 1 giving different details.                                                         
Saul and his three sons were found and the Philistines claimed victory. David weeps for his friend Jonathan and lamented for Saul and his sons.
 Read Psalms 18 and look for indications of his loyalty to Saul and his praise for God.

Psalms 18:2 contains many words that reflect David's mindset: God delivered him using a fortress, shield, and stronghold. He recalls the years of threat from Saul in terms of the a struggle for life. Psalms 18:3-5 detail the constant fear he experienced from Saul's men.

There are hints in the Psalm of natural events that plagued David during the time in the wilderness when he was hiding and running from Saul.  He speaks of thunder and lightning. I envision a storm that put his life at risk. (Vs. 13&14)

He says God drew him out of "deep waters" in vs. 16.  I did not find a place in the test of 1 Samuel that can traced to these events, but in the years he spent as a fugitive, surely these are possible.

Read Psalms 18 for a richer understanding of David and his worship of God.

Psalms 19 

Psalms 19 praises the evidence of God's message in the work of nature and the voice of  nature that echos without words. He praises the laws and statutes of God who evidence is in the natural world. 

He uses a poetic device which defines the attribute of God's law and an explanatory phrase that follows: "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes."

This Psalm may be more familiar that some, but recognition may rest in a few of the metaphors rather than a complete reading.

Verse 14 is a benediction often used independently. Read it and find your own reason for placing value on it.

Psalms 20

Psalms 20 is a plea for deliverance from trouble. David is confident of God's attention to those who are loyal to him. His words are reassuring to anyone who is faithful to God.

Vs. 4 is a favorite: May he give you the desires of your heart. This forces the reader to examine the desires of the heart. Are they pure? Are the desires of your heart something God can endorse? Don't assume He can violate his own nature to do as you ask. 

Sometimes people claim that righteousness is a method of gaining God's favor without confession and repentance. The other side of that question is equally as valid: When we are acting in defiance of God's love or grace should we expect to receive his commendation?

Don't take my word for it. Read the Psalm and examine your own heart. The let your own words be examined in the light of His answer.