Notes on Psalm 8: How Excellent Is Your Name!

(1a) To the Chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David.

  • We don’t know the occasion of this Psalm, but it takes a joyful turn after the last few which have been Psalms of trouble. The Psalm is directly attributed to David, and his grasp of God’s greatness and Man’s position in God’s plan is masterful indeed. Psalm 8 represents some of the loftiest poetry that can be found in Scripture and it is certainly intended to awaken a sense of wonderment in God’s people. It is a celebration not only of God’s majesty but a celebration of the greatness He has created to be in Man, as Man works in partnership with Him. Here we see the other side of the coin from the complaints about “workers of iniquity.” We see the glory in Man which God originally created him to have and which we know Man will again enjoy with God when the fullness of His Kingdom comes.
  • We can speculate that this was a psalm intended for public worship, as it is the first one which speaks with a corporate voice: our Lord. Until now, all the Psalms have been personal – some of them intensely so.
  • The significance of the word gittith is unknown, but there are at least two theories. The word comes from Gath, which was a town of the Philistines. It therefore could have been music on an instrument of Gath, which is not impossible as David had spent time among the Philistines. The second theory perhaps is more likely, that it means a song of joy. “Gath” means a winepress, and a song of the winepress was a song of joy at harvest time. It is worth noting that the other two Psalms mentioning gittith are also songs with joyful elements.

(1b) O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens!

  • The psalm begins with a confession that the LORD (the Divine Name YHWH) is our Lord. There is a recognition here of the relationship that Israel has with the Creator. This is reflected in Judaism’s most basic prayer, the shema: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD.”
  • His Name is said to be excellent throughout the earth, meaning that the glories of what He has done are obvious. For the Jews, the name of a person or a thing has a special significance, as it reflects the person’s character as well. When a person remains faithful to God he is said by the Jews to have sanctified God’s name because he has valued God’s name more than anything. David’s great sin was a matter of allowing the LORD’s enemies cause to blaspheme His name.
  • God’s glory is so great that it cannot be contained by the earth – the heavens themselves are too small an expanse to contain His Glory!

(2) Out of the mouth of babes and nursing children You have ordained strength because of Your enemies, that You might still the enemy and the avenger.

  • There are many instances of children with a solid faith, and nothing is more precious to God. Perhaps David is also thinking here of himself and how as a teenager he had strength to fight the enemies of God.
  • What does it mean that God has appointed strength? There is a clue in the way Jesus interpreted this verse – on what we call Palm Sunday He said that God has ordained praise. (How wonderful it is when children praise the Lord!) And so from God’s perspective, strength and praise are related. Spiritual strength is released to us as we worship the Lord. The strength is found in praise. Praise to God has the effect of silencing the enemy. How does this work?
  • First, when we praise Him, His presence draws near and the enemy is thrown into confusion. There are many examples of this in the Bible. Secondly, when we praise Him our hearts are focused on Him and we no longer are listening to the enemy’s voice speaking to us.

(3) When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have appointed,

(4) What is man, that You are mindful of him? And the son of man, that You visit him?

  • The glories of the universe God has created cannot even be described – chiefly because we do not understand them. Even though the total sum knowledge of the human race is doubling every few short years we have only understood the basics of just a few topics. David did not have the scientific understanding of these matters we have today and could only catch a glimpse of the beauty of the heavens and perhaps something of their vastness, but he knew nothing of the distance of the stars, nor of what lies beyond the confines of our own galaxy. The planet Jupiter, if hollow, could contain 1,000 Earths. Yet Jupiter and our own Sun are mere specks in the vastness of space, where distances are measured in light-years: the distance that light can travel in a year. And light itself travels at some 186,000 miles per second, or 7 times around the Earth in a second.
  • How big is the universe? It’s only in the past several years that scientists think they know – perhaps well over 100 billion light-years across. But as vast as it is, David describes it as the “work of God’s fingers.”
  • What is Man indeed? For all his boasting, he is only dust. He has not even explored or tamed this own world, let alone the regions beyond! Why should God care about him?, wonders David.

(5) For You have made him a little lower than the angels (lit. elohim or God), and have crowned him with glory and honor.

(6) You made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet:

(7) All sheep and oxen, yes, and the beasts of the field;

(8) The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passes through the paths of the seas.

  • As little as Man is, God made him to have dominion over all that He has made. He made him a little lower than the angels, literally than God Himself. We know that in God’s economy or scheme of creation that Man is superior to the angels and everything that is made. The Bible teaches us that we shall even one day judge the angels. The Devil or the cherubs and seraphs in all their might cannot compare to men who are made in the image of God, especially when, in the glory of the Resurrection man shall be made perfect, shall be made like God and be able to look upon Him with unfiltered gaze. At that time redeemed mankind shall radiate with the glory of the risen Christ who is within them and upon them! Even in the Garden, Adam and Eve were clothed with glory and honor and only when they sinned did they become aware of the need for another covering.
  • It is Man’s glory to rule for God over His creation and in Christ this shall be fulfilled. He gave this planet to Man and He will rule it as the God-Man together with His Kingdom of Priests ransomed out of every nation under Heaven. Rev 5:9-10 says, “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.’”

(9) O LORD our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!

  • After reviewing the greatness of God, and how well He does everything, David concludes the Psalm as He began it, with a cry of amazed praise to God!
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Seeing what’s not there

Joe Carter did yeoman service in First Things a couple of weeks ago coming to the defense of Francis Schaeffer. The late Mr. Schaeffer, a figure unknown outside of Evangelical circles, has been much in the news of late, chiefly for having his views savaged by his son, Frank.

Mr. Carter’s defense was more directly prompted by a New Yorker piece on Michele Bachmann and he uses the device of correcting shoddy investigative work to not only defend Francis Schaeffer but also to dismantle the liberal bogeyman of Christian Dominionism.

Dominionism, that trendy theocratic spectre, was also exorcized by A. Larry Ross in The Daily Beast yesterday. Ross, a long time media rep for Billy Graham, has a thoughtful list of ten things the press gets wrong about people who are trying to live as Evangelicals.

A decreasing level of religious literacy and lack of contact with unabashedly religious people in our culture are just two factors among many which lead to slanted and sloppy reporting. While Christians can patiently try to explain who and what they are to mainstream media outlets, it remains to be seen whether those outlets are willing to do their homework and not only understand Christian terminology but realize that most of us are not looking for an earthly kingdom.

I still miss Leonard Ravenhill

A little Ravenhill is good for the soul. Our era is in need of people who care more about what Christ thinks than what the world thinks. Here’s a free Ravenhill quote:

"A popular evangelist reaches your emotions. A true prophet reaches your conscience."

Notes on Psalm 7: The Slandered Saint

 

"end of the day" by Paul Bica on Flickr

(1a)  <Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite.>

Spurgeon said we could call Psalm 7 the Song of the Slandered Saint, and that is certainly accurate. We do not know much about what gave rise to this psalm, but it has been suggested that the villain, Cush, is one of Saul’s supporters or captains who has been bringing Saul a bad report. The fact that this Cush is a Benjamite could support this, as Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin. These events could also have taken place later, as the enmity between Benjamin and David went on for some time.

This is another psalm of trouble. David cries out to God concerning the evil of the wicked and is teaching people that what they sow in wickedness they will surely reap. Finally, at the end of the Psalm, he expresses confidence that God will vindicate him because he has been righteous in this matter.

Shiggaion is a word that means this is a wild song. It is said to come from a word meaning to reel around as though drunken. It is a song of passionate intensity. Only Psalm 7 and Habakkuk 3 are referred to with this title.

 

(1b) O LORD my God, in You do I put my trust; save me from all those who persecute me, and deliver me.

(2) Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

(3) O LORD my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands,

(4) If I have rewarded evil to him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy)

(5) Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life on the earth, and lay my honor in the dust. Selah.

  • David expresses trust in the Lord in the face of persecution. This was no accident – this was deliberate and deadly persecution. Remember that Saul in his madness would love to have killed David. Saul was no doubt willing to pay a good bounty to anyone who could deliver David’s head, and even had scores of priests killed because they had helped him.
  • The lion image is a very vivid one. David, having been a shepherd, had seen what lions could do and in at least one instance had battled and killed one to protect his flock.
  • David makes a deal or a bargain with God – if he, David, had truly done what he was being accused of doing, he told God that the enemy could have his soul and trample his body on the ground. This was another graphic image from ancient warfare and one which David had certainly seen – men being run over by horses or even chariots. He was willing to undergo this kind of mangling if he were lying.
  • David had not rewarded good with evil; indeed, he had actually delivered people who were his enemies for no reason at all. Jesus said that if we only love those who love us there is no reward, for even pagans do as much. David foreshadowed the love of God in Christ by loving those who were his enemies.
  • This section ends with a “selah,” as the musicians would continue their “wild song” and we would reflect on David’s innocence and the rightness of his heart in the matter, seeing he was blessing his enemies.

 

(6) Arise, O LORD, in Your anger, lift Yourself up because of the rage of my enemies, and awake for me to the judgment that You have commanded.

(7) So shall the congregation of the people surround You; for their sakes therefore return on high.

  • Here is another request, so frequent in the first few Psalms, for God to arise. From David’s perspective, God has not been doing very much on his behalf! He needs to remind God that his enemies are raging, and that these are the kinds of people who “shoot first and ask questions later.”
  • Still David knows that God is just, and so he assumes that God has already decided to do something about the situation. Therefore he asks God: awake to the judgment You have commanded.
  • The result of God’s favor towards David will be that the people will surround God. This means they will surround Him in worship, or it may mean they will come around Him to make petitions for deliverance as David has been doing. The picture of returning on high means to return to the high throne of judgment so He can make commands for His people to be delivered.

 

(8) The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to my integrity that is in me.

(9) Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God tries the hearts and reins.

(10) My defense is from God, who saves the upright in heart.

(11) God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

  • He is confident that God will judge the people, and asks to be judged according to his righteousness in the matter.

 

(12) If he does not turn, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow, and made it ready.

(13) He has also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordains His arrows against the persecutors.

(14) Behold, he labors with iniquity, and has conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.

(15) He made a pit, and dug it, and has fallen into the ditch which he made.

(16) His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own crown.

(17) I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

  • David expresses the common belief that God will punish the wicked using the devices of the wicked. We can call this the “Haman’s Gallows Principle,” after Haman in the Book of Esther, who was hanged on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.

 

Photo credit: Image by Paul Bica on Flickr under Creative Commons License.

Notes on Psalm 6: The Lord Has Heard My Supplication

Psalm 6 is another Psalm of trouble in which David reaches out to the Lord, except this time in more distress of soul. We have more of a window into David’s distress than in previous Psalms, and he reaches a new depth of honesty as he shares his pain. Here he has the sense that God may possibly be against him.

This is another “imprecatory psalm,” in which David actively prays against his enemies. Again, under the New Testament we do not pray these kinds of prayers – unless they are our spiritual enemies.

This Psalm is also directed to the Chief Musician. The word sheminith here means “the eighth,” or perhaps an octave. It may mean a song sung by low voices, and it has been suggested that a low tone would fir the mood. It may also be an eight-stringed instrument that is being referred to.

 

1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger, neither chasten me in Your hot displeasure.

2 Have mercy on me, O LORD; for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled.

3 My soul is also sorely troubled, but You, O LORD, how long?

  • David fears that the Lord is rebuking him in anger. David knew that God was entitled to rebuke him if He thought it was necessary – but the idea that God might exercise His wrath against David was too much to bear. The Bible says that God reserves wrath for His enemies.
  • Next, he appeals to God’s mercy. Because God has experienced human weakness, He knows full well the limitations of our nature. The weakness of David had even extended beyond his soul and into his physical being. His bones had become troubled.
  • In verse 3 he becomes almost defiant. His soul is troubled and he asks God how long it will be?

 

4 Return, O LORD, deliver my soul, oh save me for Your mercies’ sake.

5 For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who shall give You thanks?

6 I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.

7 My eye is consumed because of grief; it grows old because of all my enemies.

  • The next section is more argumentative. He asks for God to return. It is not as if God actually goes anywhere… He is omnipresent! This is an example of what is called anthropomorphism: ascribing human characteristics to God. This is a common device in the Scriptures which helps us to understand God. The Bible speaks about God’s wings, etc., but we are not to understand that God has actual wings, as God is a spirit. But to human beings, the sense that God is not fighting for us makes us feel as though God is distant, and we have no better words with which to talk about the experience.
  • In verse 5 there is a difficult topic – the idea that the dead do not praise God. We must remember certain things here. David’s revelation of the afterlife was limited. Only with the New Testament did mankind receive a complete revelation of what occurs after death. This does not mean that David was in error; he could not have been in error because he was speaking Scripture by the Spirit. In fact, the situation of those in the grave (sheol) was different before Christ. Before Christ both the righteous and the unrighteous dead were together in the underworld. In Ephesians 4 we read how Jesus led captivity captive, and we believe that this is a reference to His loosing the righteous dead from that compartment called “Abraham’s Bosom.”
  • Still, the dead give God no praise in the sense that they cannot add any longer to the praise of God in this world.
  • In verses 6 and 7, David poetically describes His weeping in the night seasons. The tears of the righteous are precious to God. Jesus Himself wept in moments of strong emotion. This was not viewed as unmanly in any way, nor as somehow inappropriate from the standpoint of religion.

 

8 Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; for the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping.

9 The LORD has heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.

10 Let all my enemies be ashamed and exceedingly troubled; let them return and be ashamed suddenly.

  • David concludes the song with one of his typical warning to the unrighteous. “Workers of iniquity” is a stronger phrase than “sinner.” These are people who practice and devise evil, and spread it. Although they might have mocked David in his weakness and illness, he wants them to know that God has heard him.
  • The word supplication in Hebrew carries the idea of asking for mercy and grace. Many times we do not know how to pray as we should – we do not know what to ask for. David had practiced the wisdom of simply asking for God’s mercy in his situation. This type of praying asks for God’s grace, mixed together with His wisdom. For God knows what is best for us and what will also bring Him glory.
  • When David was being chastened by God (and all Israel with him) he was given the choice of three different judgments. His response was to ask for the mercy of the Lord and to let God pick. He said, ” I am in great trouble; let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.” (2 Sam. 24)
  • David said the Lord would receive his prayer. It is important to know that God does not receive all prayers. David had said himself that if he regarded iniquity in his heart the Lord would not hear him. (Psalm 66:18) There are many other things besides sin that can keep our prayers from being hindered, such as trouble in marriages (1 Peter 3:7) and praying with a double mind. (James 1:8) May our hearts be pure so that nothing will hinder our prayer and our abiding in Christ!

Notes on Psalm 5: Surrounded With Favor

< To the chief Musician upon Nehiloth, A Psalm of David. > Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation.

2 Hearken to the voice of my cry, my King, and my God, for I will pray to You.

3 You shall hear my voice in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct my prayer to You, and will look up.

4 For You are not a God who has pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with You.

5 The foolish shall not stand in Your sight: You hate all workers of iniquity.

6 You shall destroy those who speak lies; the LORD will detest the bloody and deceitful man.

7 But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy, and in thy fear I will worship toward Your holy temple.

8 Lead me, O LORD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face.

9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is wickedness; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.

10 Hold them guilty, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against You.

11 But let all those who put their trust in You rejoice: let them shout for joy always, because You defend them; and let those who love Your name be joyful in You.

12 For You, LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.

 

The Fifth Psalm is yet another Psalm of David when he is encountering trouble. Like the two previous psalms, this one has an explanatory note: it is directed to the Chief Musician, and it is to be performed on nehiloth, which means flutes.

Psalm 5 carries the same pattern as the previous Psalms – starting with a man being attacked by unrighteous enemies. It carries a great description of the evil of men and particularly of their words. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he uses David’s description in a list of Scriptures to show how evil and depraved the human race is without God. David closes with a ringing declaration of the protection and blessing of God which will surround the righteous with favor.

1 < To the chief Musician upon Nehiloth, A Psalm of David. > Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation.

2 Hearken to the voice of my cry, my King, and my God, for I will pray to You.

3 You shall hear my voice in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct my prayer to You, and will look up.

A. In Verse 1 David asks God to hear His words. We know that God is hearing but yet our humanity moves us to ask God to “pay attention,” as it were.

B. He also asks God to consider his meditation. This is a word which means something like a complaint. It also carries the idea of inward moaning and groaning. In the New Testament we have something similar in the sighs and groans of the Spirit within us. David was not above complaining to God, and indeed pouring out one’s complaint to God is seen in the Psalms as something spiritually healthy. Pouring out one’s complaint to others may actually keep us from meeting God and receiving help in the matter!

C. In Verse 2, David is reminding God that he belongs to Him – calling Him “my King and my God.” It is a wonderful thing to belong to God and be able to say with confidence that He is indeed our God. Jesus of course completed the picture by reconciling us to God, so that we can call Him Father, too. And the Son has become our Friend. Wonderful love of God!

D. David says that he will pray in the morning. What better way to start the day than with prayer to God? The famous Bible commentator Matthew Henry said, “Let prayer be the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.”

E. He also says he will look up. Praying at the beginning of the day enables us to look Heavenward and get God’s perspective on the day, rather than living under the sun.

 

4 For You are not a God who has pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with You.

5 The foolish shall not stand in Your sight: You hate all workers of iniquity.

6 You shall destroy those who speak lies; the LORD will detest the bloody and deceitful man.

7 But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy, and in thy fear I will worship toward Your holy temple.

A. In Verse 4, David knows that he must stay in God’s path to enjoy the favor of the Lord. God takes no pleasure in wickedness. You cannot bring about good by doing what is detestable to the Lord, no matter how lofty your motives may seem.

B. Evil will not dwell with God. Spurgeon said it best when he said, “He will not afford it the meanest shelter. Neither on earth nor in heaven shall evil share the mansion of God. Oh, how foolish are we if we attempt to entertain two guests so hostile to one another as Christ Jesus and the devil! Rest assured, Christ will not live in the parlour of our hearts if we entertain the devil in the cellar of our thoughts.”

C. The foolish will not stand in His sight: the fool is the one who has said in his heart that there is no God (Ps. 53). Those who live their lives carelessly, as though there were no God, will pay the consequence. They will be brought before God but not remain with Him.

D. God hates workers of iniquity. We know that God so loved the world that He gave His Son, but it was necessary for the Son to suffer precisely because God is angry with the wicked everyday, as David said in Psalm 7. The Bible never whitewashes man’s sin nor does it pretend that the wrath of God is not coming against those who work iniquity. This is just as true in the New Testament as in the Old. In Romans 1 we read that the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness. It should be obvious to all who read the Word that God will judge the world.

E. Because God is truth, His Word speaks often against lying. We do not need to elaborate here on how wicked a lie is nor the destruction it can cause. Murderous and deceitful people will have no place in God’s Kingdom.

 

8 Lead me, O LORD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face.

9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is wickedness; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.

10 Hold them guilty, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against You.

A. David asks to be led in God’s path, not his own – a good piece of wisdom! He knows he needs to be led by God because of man’s treachery.

B. This is a classic description of the wickedness of men as expressed in their speech. In addition to lying, the sin of flattery is mentioned here. Flattery is not harmless, as many think. Flattery is the beginning of manipulation and deception.

C. David prays that they will fall by their own counsels. This is an interesting prayer and it reflects the belief of the Jewish people that God uses the evil a man plans against others to destroy the man himself. Proverbs 26:27 says that he who digs a pit will fall into it. We also have the biblical example of Haman, hanged on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai in Esther 7.

 

11 But let all those who put their trust in You rejoice: let them shout for joy always, because You defend them; and let those who love Your name be joyful in You.

12 For You, LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.

A. David ends with a call to the righteous to rejoice. It always calls for faith to rejoice head of time for what God will do – indeed, we could say that this is the very essence of faith! Only a living faith can thank God for what He has promised, confident that it has already been granted.

B. We can shout for joy because He is fighting for us. He will indeed bless the righteous and with favor surround us like a shield. The word “surround” here also has the meaning of “crowning.” The picture is certainly one of protection, but there is also a picture that our adornment from God will be a crown of favor on our head!

Notes on Psalm 4: Dwelling in Safety

1 To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm of David. Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: you enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.

2 O you sons of men, how long will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love vanity, and seek after lying? Selah.

3 But know that the LORD has set apart he who is godly for Himself; the LORD will hear when I call to Him.

4 Tremble and do not sin, speak within your own heart on your bed, and be still. Selah.

5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

6 There are many who say, “Who will show us any good?” LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.

7 You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.

8 I will both lay down in peace, and sleep, for You alone, LORD, cause me to dwell in safety.

 

The Fourth Psalm is another Psalm of David when he is encountering trouble. Some believe it is meant to go along with Psalm 3, and like Psalm 3 it carries the idea of a man who has confidence in God because he has seen God deliver him many times.

Like Psalm 3, it also has an explanatory note: it is directed to the Chief Musician. The Chief Musician occupied an important position in the Davidic worship. Here he is told that the music is to be performed with musical accompaniment – the neginoth, or strings.

This Psalm is full of what another era would have called “homely wisdom,” down-to-earth nuggets of faith which we as believers have often heard but of which we should still remind ourselves often.

Psalm 4 contains a pattern found in many Psalms:

  • A prayer to God
  • A rebuke to the wicked
  • A declaration of faith and trust in God

 

1 To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm of David. Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: you enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.

2 O you sons of men, how long will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love vanity, and seek after lying? Selah.

A. David says He is the God of his righteousness. He is the God who upholds us: He guards our integrity and He vindicates us when we are slandered or wrongly accused. He reminds God of the times He saved David and took him out of trouble. The idea of the distress is a military picture: it means that David was in a narrow strait like a valley and the Lord brought him out of that situation. We can imagine David being in an ambush with his enemies looking down on him from the tops of the hills. Somehow God brought him through it, and this situation will be no different.

B. His enemies continue to mock his fame, and to seek what is worthless. The idea of “vanity” is an interesting concept in the writings of both David and Solomon. It carries the idea of worthlessness or fruitlessness. The Bible speaks of laboring in vain or travailing in vain. This means much effort with little result. David had seen many times the elaborate efforts men went to in order to destroy God’s people and God’s anointed, and it was all for nought. We are reminded of Psalm 2, when he wonders why they nations imagine a vain thing. If it is vanity to fight God, then it is also worthless to fight His people.

C. These enemies also love lies. The Devil is the father of lies, and all his works are founded upon a foundation of lies. All the theories of destructive political philosophies are built upon lies – remove the lie and the whole building will crash to the ground. The “big lie” tactics of the 20th century are still with us today.

D. He ends with a selah, asking us to reflect on the vanity and lying ways of evil men.

 

3 But know that the LORD has set apart he who is godly for Himself; the LORD will hear when I call to Him.

4 Tremble and do not sin, speak within your own heart on your bed, and be still. Selah.

A. Now David rebukes these evil men by confidently asserting that God has set apart godly men for Himself. The idea of being set apart or sanctified means that God has reserved something for a special purpose. When we become God’s special possession, we become “the apple of his eye” and He will uphold us. He warns these men (and reminds himself at he same time) that when he calls, God answers!

B. In verse 4, he warns these men to be afraid of God. The fear of the Lord is the missing ingredient in today’s society, as it was in many sectors of David’s world. If a man can tremble before God, there will be an inward check on his behavior which will keep him from trouble. The counsel to speak within your own heart and be still is a call to people to simply be quiet and reflect on the words and ways of God. Modern society desperately needs this advice from David. Noise is everywhere, and we need to ask if this is because people are trying to drown out the convicting sound of the voice of their consciences. The evening is a perfect time to lie still before God and contemplate His ways. David holds out hope that these men will reflect on their ways and turn back to God.

C. David invites us to do the same by making another selah.

 

5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

6 There are many who say, “Who will show us any good?” LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.

7 You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.

8 I will both lay down in peace, and sleep, for You alone, LORD, cause me to dwell in safety.

A. David’s first remedy for these people is that they offer the sacrifices of righteousness. For the unbeliever, this means the sacrifice of righteousness that God has appointed for us – the Blood of His own Son. For the believer, it is those spiritual sacrifices such as thanksgiving and praise. These and these alone will keep us from living a life of vanity and fighting against God, because they focus us and center us on the Lord. The second remedy is simply to trust in Him.

B. Verse 6 deals with the common problems of negativity and cynicism. Cynicism is a common sin of the young and of the old as well. “Who will show us any good?” This kind of negative and gloomy outlook will destroy real faith, and it is all too common in our day. One popular Web encyclopedia notes, “In underscoring how widespread cynical impulses had become in western society, in 2005 Yale University researchers presented findings that children as young as eight years old regularly discounted what they heard from others as being tarnished by self-interest.” David says the answer is found in the Presence of the Lord – the light of His countenance shining on people.

C. David himself had experienced joy and not cynicism, and he rejoiced in his relationship with God – it brought him more satisfaction than the material blessings of the harvest had done for the wicked.

D. The outcome of the matter is that he will sleep in peace and safety because of the Lord’s love and care.