Featured Post

Crucified Before the Foundation of the World

"Crucified before the foundation of the world." What does that mean? How could that even happen? Historians and archaeologists ta...

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Psalms 56-60

Psalms 56

This Psalm is noted as a miktam, a golden psalm. It is also noted for the tune, "A dove on distant oaks" which also refers to David exiled from home, in a foreign land, and without succor.
This is another Psalm which records David's dependence on God during the time he hid from Saul in Gath among the Philistines.(See 1 Samuel 21:10 for further details.) David feared Saul and could not confront him because he was the King of Israel. Samuel had anointed David to be king after the reign of Saul, but David never attempted to hasten the event.

In this Psalm, he recounts his fear and trials. He believes that man cannot do anything to him that God does not ordain. He seeks God to secure his peace and does not forget to remind God of his vows to him.

He is fearful and alters his behavior to appear mad to his captors. 
He does not attempt to take vengeance but appeals to God to deliver him and bring righteous judgment on those who torment him.

When his enemies turn back, he takes this as a sign of God's blessing toward him. He continues to give thanks and praise for God's deliverance from death. God has kept his feet from stumbling. 

Psalms 57

This Psalm is a Miktam by David set to the tune "Do Not Destroy." It recalls the time he hid from Saul in a cave.

The text does not mention the cave, but the endless chase and persecution he experienced.
He calls on God to protect him from the beasts and the pursuers.  In the midst of this danger, he exalts God and sings glory to his name. He details the trap they set for him: a net to entangle his feet and a pit in his path, but they were victims of their own plot.
He closes with a refrain of praise:
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens          
        Let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalms 58

These Psalms seem to record various stages of the siege David endured in his efforts to avoid confrontation by Saul. This one is also set to the tune of "Do Not Destroy." It is also a Miktam, a golden psalm.

The psalm begins by addressing the rulers and judges calling for justice and equity. He calls the wicked who are evil from their birth, to righteousness.

He seeks justice from God who will tear the teeth from the mouths of the lions who rip the victims

During this difficult time, David never sways from calling on God.
He does confess fear, but he always seeks God's instruction, and he is faithful to obey. He had his family with him and about 600 men who were loyal to him. They hid in the caves and ravines in the desert.

He ends this psalm with the knowledge that the righteous are avenged and rewarded, and there is God who judges the earth.

Palms 59

This is a Psalm of David, again to the tune of "Do Not Destroy." It is provoked by Saul sending men to watch David's house to kill him.

David is feeling the stress of constant pressure from Saul, and he views it as a military campaign. He repeatedly defends his own honor and innocence. He calls God to witness his jeopardy and his plight. He will take no steps to destroy the attackers, but he urges God to do so. He is somewhat disrespectful calling them "dogs,"

He closes with praise and confident assurance of God's strength and deliverance.

Psalms 60

This is another Miktam concerning Arameans of Mesopotamia and Central Syria and Joab striking down 12,000 men in the Valley of Salt. It is sung to the tune of "Lily of the Covenant." 

David is desperate. The very ground is shaking under him. Perhaps there was an earthquake. He turns to God saying, "Restore us. Save us."

Things look bad, but David never surrenders to defeat. He still vows God will gain the victory and trample the enemies.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Psalms 51-55

Psalms 51

David has confessed sin in other psalms and sought forgiveness, but he never identified the sin before. This time we know the sin and the consequences. Read the story in 2 Samuel 11-12:24.

He did not discuss the origin of the problem in Psalms, but in 2 Samuel 11, it is readily apparent. When his troops were in the field, David walked on the roof of his house and cast his eye toward a woman bathing. David had no lack of female companionship, but he was the King and no one denied him. Bathsheba did not protest his attentions either.

It's strange how sin propagates sin. First, David saw Bathsheba, then he had her brought to him. That was enough to have caused her husband alarmed. But then David went to extremes to prevent her husband's suspicion. Uriah had no guile and never accused either of them. Each step in the deception drew the net of sin tighter on David. You can't get out of the hole by digging it deeper. David's own conscience drove him to hide the adultery but brought murder to the forefront.

We see the righteousness and honor of Uriah. He came at David's call, but he would not go home and sleep on clean sheets and share company with his wife when the troops were in the field. Even drunk, he remained fit for duty and honorable.

David did a lot of work to pull off the subterfuge and involved several people in the plot. Bathsheba was complicit in the plot, and Joab did the final stroke of betrayal leaving Uriah without support in the battle. In his confession, David says that he sinned against God. All sin is ultimately against God even when others are hurt by it. David takes no thought of the others who suffered from his sin.

In the verses of his confession, David never defends his actions. He repeatedly acknowledges his own responsibility and accepts the righteous judgment of God. He uses metaphors of cleaning the dirt from his soul (vs.2 and7) renewal of a steadfast spirit (vs. 10 and 11.)  When he is restored through repentance, he wants to teach sinners the value and benefit of being faithful. He doesn't want Israel to be punished for his sin.

About the first thing that is lost in sin, is Joy. David asks God to restore the Joy of His salvation. Many times he seeks the nearness of God's presence. Once he prays that God would restore his broken bones. Every part of his life was affected by the sin. He calls on God to restore "a clean heart within him." 

We may not have committed the same sin as David, but his repentance is a model of us. Read it for yourself!

Psalms 52

This Psalm was written after Doeg revealed to Saul that David had sought provisions and armaments from Ahimelech. Ahimelech was the priest who served in the Temple. He gave David the holy bread and the weapons of Goliath. Saul ordered Ahimelech and his family and all the priests to be killed because he feared everyone who was supportive of David.  David's family was included in Saul's judgment. Saul thought David was trying to take his throne, but his paranoia was his downfall. David's movements were directed against the Philistines, never against Saul.

The Psalm is spoken in accusation against Doeg who had killed 85 priests. It would be easy to charge the events to Saul, and rail against him, but David thought of Saul in grander terms than that. Although Saul sought him and chased him in the wilderness, David never gives in to anger or hostility aginst Saul. Saul was his father-in-law and the father of his dearest friend. David had opportunities to kill Saul, but he never raised his hand against him even though Saul threw a spear at him.

Read the dramatic story of David's rise to rule over Israel in 1 Samuel 18-2 Samuel 2. 

Psalms 53

Mahalath is probably a musical or literary term. It may refer to a tune of the psalm.

This Psalm is a definition of the world and society that has no honor or respect for God. Compare it to Psalm 14 and evaluate the consequences. Put your mind to understand the problems that would melt away if we obey the righteous edicts of God.

The writer looks forward to a time when people will see the restoration of God's order out of Zion.

Psalms 54

In this Psalm we again see David attacked, threatened, and fearful, but as before, he resorts to God for protection. He as hiding in the territory of the Ziphites, but they betrayed him to Saul.

We still have the option to seek God's direction like David did and be obedient to it when we face financial and political choices. David is a good model to look to for strength in tough times. Like David, we must also remember to praise him for answers and resources. Offerings of thanksgiving are appropriate also.

Make this Psalm a regular in your daily reading.

Psalms 55

  Many expositors view this Psalm was written on the occasion of Absalom's rebellion with Ahithophel as the treacherous friend, but I agree with Matthew Henry's view.  It is likely that the distress David is experiencing is from the bitterness from his former companion Saul whom he played the harp for to quiet his spirit.

David details his emotions since he is constantly attacked by Saul's words and actions. This Psalm is an excellent resource for those who live in stressful situations and feel persecuted by those who are close to them.

Remember these words when you feel attacked and persecuted. "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you," (vs. 22)
He lists the calamities that are assured to the wicked, but David's trust is steadfastly in God. He addresses God in closing, "as for me I trust in you."(vs. 23)

Bible references are from the NIV.  Matthew Henry's Commentary was consulted in writing this post.