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Psalm 20:6-9

Psalm 20:6 Now I know that Yahveh gives victory to his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty deliverance from hisright hand.

Psalm 20:7 Some take pride in chariots, and others in horses, but we take pride in the name of Yahveh our God.

Psalm 20:8 They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand firm.

Psalm 20:9 Yahveh, give victory to the king! May he answer us on the day that we call.1

call waiting

I confess and deny not – I hate telephones. I especially loathe having to place a call and then wait for ages listening to some recorded loop of messages assuring me that my call is important to the faceless voices on the other end of the line.

King David responds to his people’s prayers for his victory in battle here. He is not taking pride in the size of his attack force, but in the greatness of God. He is sure that God is going to answer him from his holy heaven with mighty deliverance from his right hand.

Lord, some of our friends need your deliverance today. We are putting in a call for them, and we know you will answer.

1subscription: For the choir director.

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his victory

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Psalm 20:1-4

Psalm 20:1 May Yahveh answer you in a day of trouble; may the name of Jacob’s God make you safe.

Psalm 20:2 May he send you help from the sanctuary and reinforce you from Zion.

Psalm 20:3 May he remember all your tribute offerings and accept your ascending offering. (Selah).

Psalm 20:4 May he give you what your heart wants and fulfill your whole purpose.

Psalm 20:5 Let us shout for joy at your rescue and raise the flag in the name of our God. May Yahveh fulfill all your requests.

his victory

This psalm was originally designed to encourage the king as he prepared for battle. This section focuses on the people’s prayer for protection and provision. The king can expect protection because God will not forget the many years of tribute offerings he has given. The king can expect provision because God will not forget his years of ascending offerings. Before the battle begins, the people celebrate victory by shouting for joy at the king’s rescue and raising the flag in God’s name.

Lord, our prayers today are accompanied by your victory flag. The success we expect is your victory because it is due to your faithfulness.

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that awful difference

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Psalm 19:12-14

Psalm 19:12 Who perceives his unintentional lapses? Cleanse me from my hidden faults.

Psalm 19:13 Also, keep your servant from willful sins; do not let them rule me. Then I will be blameless and cleansed from blatant rebellion.

Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the musing of my heart be acceptable to you, Yahveh, my boulder and my Redeemer.1

that awful difference

After looking at the sky, David was overwhelmed by the magnificence of God. After looking at the Scriptures, he was overwhelmed by the sweet holiness of God as reflected in them. But when he looks inwardly, reflecting on the words of his mouth and the musing of his own heart – he sees a creature that is unacceptable to such a great and good creator. He sees a creature whose iniquities range from unintentional lapses, to hidden faults, to willful sins, to blatant rebellion.

What does David do when confronted with that awful difference between himself and his God? He prays to God for cleansing and sanctification and perseverance.

Lord, when we see the evidence of you in the universe and in your word, we see an awful difference in ourselves. Cleanse us, sanctify us, and make us strong to stay in your holiness.

1subscription: For the choir director.

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sweet holiness

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Psalm 19:7-11

Psalm 19:7 Yahveh’s instruction is complete, renewing one’s soul; Yahveh’s testimony is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise.

Psalm 19:8 The precepts of Yahveh are right, making the heart happy; the command of Yahveh is radiant, making the eyes light up.

Psalm 19:9 The fear of Yahveh is pure, enduring continually; the ordinances of Yahveh are reliable and altogether righteous.

Psalm 19:10 They are more desirable than gold– than a pile of pure gold; and sweeter than honey dripping from a honeycomb.

Psalm 19:11 In addition, your servant is cautioned by them, and in keeping them there is a hefty reward.

sweet holiness

The God who magnificently reveals himself in nature has not left it to that. He has also revealed himself in his his word: the Bible. It is described as pure, sweet, reliable, and more desirable than a pile of pure gold. The revelation in nature reveals God’s greatness. The revelation in scripture reveals his holiness.

Lord, show us your sweet, holy self in your word.

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magnificent

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Psalm 19:1-6

Psalm 19:11 The skies record the magnificence of God, and the expanse displays the work of his hands.

Psalm 19:2 Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge.

Psalm 19:3 There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard.

Psalm 19:4 Their message has gone out to the whole land, and their words to the ends of the world. In the sky he has pitched a tent for the sun.

Psalm 19:5 It is like a bridegroom coming from his home; it celebrates like an athlete running a course.

Psalm 19:6 It rises from one end of the sky and circles to their other end; nothing is hidden from its heat.

magnificent

God is magnificent, and the sky itself tells us that. He created this enormous expanse and set it above and all around us. The story is told every day and every night. The story does not need to be translated into my language, because everyone from the youngest baby to the most elderly can immediately understand it. Just look at that blazing sun, elegantly marching across the horizon. The sun tells the story too. It says, “He who made me is magnificent.”

Lord, thank you for showing off. Your sky is awesome, and so are you.

1superscription: A Psalm of David.

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great rescue and a greater seed

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Psalm 18:47-50

Psalm 18:47 The God who is the giver of vengeance to me and speaks against peoples under me —

Psalm 18:48 He frees me from my enemies. You exalt me above my adversaries; you rescue me from violent men.

Psalm 18:49 Therefore I will give thanks to you among the nations, Yahveh; I will sing praises about your name.

Psalm 18:50 He gives great rescue to his king; he shows loyalty to his anointed, to David and his descendants permanently.

great rescue and a greater seed

This song of Israel celebrated the great rescue God gave David, by freeing him from his enemies and showing covenant loyalty to him. And this loyalty is claimed for David’s descendants as well. Consider the most famous of David’s descendants. Jesus of Nazareth was apparently defeated by his enemies when he died on a Roman cross. But God exalted him above his adversaries, rescuing him from violent men. God raised him from the dead, and he is now enthroned in heaven.

There are at least two clues in this passage which indicate that it is messianic. First, the word Messiah (Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ) is used by David of himself in verse 50. Also, David refers to his descendants using the singular noun seed (זֶרַע). Notice this prophecy about David’s coming seed:

  • “When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants (זֶרַע) after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. “He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. “I will be his father and he shall be My son; and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. “But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.”‘” (1 Chronicles 17:11-14 NASB).

Of course, this referred to Solomon, as David’s son who inherited the kingdom. But the New Testament authors recognized that it ultimately pointed to David’s greater seed: Jesus (Luke 1:31; Romans 1:3; Galatians 3:16).

Lord, thank you for your rescue/resurrection and coming reign of David’s greater seed.

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rescued from normality

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Psalm 18:43-46

Psalm 18:43 You have freed me from the disputes1 among the people; you have appointed me the head of nations; a people I had not known serve me.

Psalm 18:44 Foreigners submit to me cringing; as soon as they hear they obey me.

Psalm 18:45 Foreigners lose heart and come trembling from their fortifications.

Psalm 18:46 Yahveh is alive– blessed be my boulder! The God of my deliverance is exalted.

rescued from normality

Under David’s rule, the Israelite nation became a dominating superpower. Here David attributes that national success to God. The deliverance he celebrated was more than just peace. It was peace through strength. It was more than just respect and admiration. It was submission. David saw himself as not part of the petty disputes of the nations, but above them.

God can save your soul from future destruction. He wants to do that. And he also wants to rescue you from the pettiness and normality that can make life today unpleasant.

Lord, we reach out to you and ask for your help. You are the God of our deliverance.

1רִיב

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Can we have enemies?

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Psalm 18:39-42

Psalm 18:39 You have decked me out with strength for battle; you forced my adversaries to their knees beneath me.

Psalm 18:40 You have made my enemies retreat before me; I annihilate those who hate me.

Psalm 18:41 They cry for help, but there is no one to save them– they cry to Yahveh, but he does not answer them.

Psalm 18:42 I pulverize them like dust before the wind; I empty them out like street mud.

Can we have enemies?

David has already proclaimed his need for God and his confidence in God, so these words can be understood in that context. He is not boasting in his own wisdom or strength, but praising God for his faithfulness.

Have we evolved beyond this kind of talk? Some of the comments I read on the psalms suggest something like that. They imply that the New Testament says we should love our enemies, so this kind of talk is no longer applicable.

I think they are wrong. It is not unscriptural to admit that certain people are against you, and to ask God to help you defend against their attacks.

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a spacious place beneath me

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Psalm 18:35-38

Psalm 18:35 You have given me the shield of your deliverance; your right hand reinforces me, and your humility exalts me.

Psalm 18:36 You make a spacious place beneath me for my steps, and my ankles do not give way.

Psalm 18:37 I pursue my enemies and overtake them; I do not turn back until they are finished.1

Psalm 18:38 I crush them, and they cannot get up; they fall beneath my feet.

a spacious place beneath me

As a long distance hiker, I so much appreciate that phrase “You make a spacious place beneath me” in verse 36. When the path is narrow and ragged with sharp rocks, every step takes more time, and one false step and your ankles are toast. Even the most experienced hikers are liable to fall or otherwise injure themselves on such a path. Apparently David knew about long distance walks. He also knew the luxury of spacious paths. When he was looking for a way to describe how God took care of him, he used this metaphor about God putting him in places that protected his feet. Because his feet remained strong, he was able to overtake his enemies, and they fell beneath his feet.

Lord, thank you for the protection which makes us strong.

1 כִּלָּה (pi)

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secret behind success

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Psalm 18:32-34

Psalm 18:32 God– he decks me out with strength and makes my road perfect.

Psalm 18:33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer and sets me securely on the heights.

Psalm 18:34 He trains my hands for war; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

secret behind success

Strength, stability, mobility and strategic intelligence: these are characteristics of a powerful military unit. These are David ‘s secret— only he does not keep it secret. All these attributes are his because of his relationship with God.

David’s victories come from the Lord. This victory psalm celebrates the secret behind his success.

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