I. Book I (Psalms Psalms 1–41)

1:1 This tells how to become happy. The word translated “happy” in the CSB can also be rendered “blessed.” To be blessed by God is to be happy.

20:1-3 This psalm is the testimony of David and the congregation of Israel on the eve of battle. King and people are gathered in the sanctuary in Zion, where God manifested his presence, to invoke his help against their enemies (20:2). In a day of trouble, they petition the Lord to answer with victory (20:1) and pray that the offerings for the atonement of sin would be acceptable (20:3).

20:4-5 The worshipers ask that God would grant the king’s desires and fulfill his battle plans (20:4). They joyfully anticipate victory as the king raises the banner in the name of [their] God (20:5). David’s victory would be seen as God’s victory.

20:6 David expresses assurance that God has answered their request and would grant victory to his anointed. The Lord would act with his right hand—that is, by demonstrating his great power and strength.

20:7-8 David’s confidence was not like the confidence of the Gentile kings who take pride in chariots and horses. They trusted in their military might and boasted in their armaments. But, the boast of David and his people was this: We take pride in the name of the Lord our God (20:7). Regardless of the size of the respective armies of Israel and their enemies, David knew that victory comes ultimately from God. Therefore, he trusted in the Lord’s character, reputation, and sovereignty—and expected a great collapse and fall of his enemy (20:8). We should follow David’s example. As we face the conflicts of life, we can be certain that our God is big enough to deal with them. The greater our focus on God, the greater our confidence in God.

20:9 The worshipers respond to David’s confidence with a petition that God would give victory to the king. This is true not only for David, but also for the Son of David, the ultimate King. God’s people long for the Messiah to have victory over enemies—both his and ours. So, we follow him by faith, having confidence that he will reign in our circumstances and defeat all opposition.

21:1-6 David affirms God as the source of his strength and the foundation of his joy. He praises God for giving him his heart’s desire, including victory over his enemies (21:1-2). The Lord had given him abundant blessings, including the preservation of his life and the majesty that went along with being king, as well as the joy of God’s presence (21:3-6).

21:7 What was the key to David’s state of blessing? The faithful love (Hebrew: hesed), or covenant faithfulness, of the Most High. David’s stability could not be shaken. Because of the intimacy of their relationship, God had the freedom to act on the king’s behalf.

21:8-10 Because David’s enemies were also God’s enemies, God’s wrath would devour them and end their hopes of having any offspring. When we are closely united to God in a family relationship, our enemies are his.

21:11-13 Regardless of what David’s enemies had plotted against him, God would turn their plans against them (21:11-12). The strength and power of God are to be forever exalted and praised (2:13).

This psalm of David consists of two halves. The first half is a lament (22:1-21a), while the second half shifts to thanksgiving (22:21b-31).

22:1 David cries out because he was experiencing a sense of hopelessness and abandonment. It was this deep sense of being divinely abandoned that Jesus would experience and express on the cross (see Matt 27:46). Though these words were true of King David, they were fulfilled truly and fully in the Messiah, David’s Son.

22:2-5 Though David was living in a state of despair (22:2), nevertheless he continues to affirm God’s holy character to declare him worthy of Israel’s praises (22:3). He rehearses the confidence of previous generations who trusted in God and experienced his deliverance (22:4-5). This history lesson serves as a reminder to David—and to us—to continue to trust the Lord in spite of circumstances.

22:6-8 David was enduring constant scorn and ridicule, being despised and mocked by others (22:6-7). Those who hated him said, He relies on the Lord; let him save him; let the Lord rescue him, since he takes pleasure in him (22:8). These would be the very words used to taunt Jesus as he hung on the cross (see Matt 27:43).

22:9-10 David recalls his history of dependence on the Lord. Even when he was an infant in his mother’s womb and a newborn, he was completely reliant on God. Thus, he knew he was still dependent on God even as a grown man and king of Israel. Remember to rehearse your history of trusting in God’s protection and provision. It will help you trust in him for today and tomorrow.

22:11-18 David’s enemies were like beasts—bulls . . . lions, and dogs—that encircled him and sought to devour him (22:12-13, 16). He was exhausted. His strength was gone (22:14-15). The piercing of his hands and feet and the casting of lots for his clothing are not elaborated on in Scripture but proved prophetic in that they were fulfilled in Jesus’s suffering (22:16, 18; see Matt 27:35; Isa 53:5; Zech 12:10).

22:19-21a David pleads with God to be near and to rescue him from those who wish him harm (22:19-20), again comparing his enemies to beasts: dogs, lions, and wild oxen (22:20-21a). David knows that only the Lord was capable of saving him.

22:21b-26 You answered me! (22:21b). In the midst of his despair and petitions, David knows that God has heard his prayers. Therefore, he celebrates. He proclaims the Lord’s name and urges God’s people to praise . . . honor, and revere him (22:22-23). Those who have experienced the goodness of God can’t help but worship him and exhort others to do the same. David uses his situation to be an encouragement to others. He wants to live in obedience before God’s people and urge them to find satisfaction in him (22:25-26).

22:27-31 David anticipates the time when all the ends of the earth will turn to the Lord (22:27). Though he was chosen by God to serve as king, he recognizes that, ultimately, kingship belongs to the Lord. All the nations will one day submit to the kingdom of God when the Messiah comes to reign (22:28-29). Then, a people yet to be born will hear all peoples declare his righteousness (22:31).

23:1 The Lord is my shepherd. David was familiar with tending sheep. After all, he used to do the job (see 1 Sam 16:11-12; 17:15, 34-37). He knew firsthand what it was for a shepherd to protect and provide for sheep, so he describes his relationship to God in those terms. What David had been for his sheep, God had been to him. Notice that the Lord wasn’t a mere generic shepherd to David; he was David’s personal shepherd. He calls him “my shepherd.” As a result, David confidently confesses, I have what I need. Because God had covered all of David’s needs, he recognized that he lacked nothing.

Some Christians have trusted God to save them for eternity, but they don’t have much confidence that he can provide for them in history. David’s beautiful, poetic testimony can help instill in us the confidence that he can. Having declared the Lord to be his shepherd, David proceeds in the remainder of the psalm to explain how God met all his needs.

23:2-3 God met David’s spiritual needs. Just as a shepherd gives sheep rest in green pastures and refreshes them with quiet waters (23:2), so God had done spiritually to David. The cares and struggles of this world can leave us exhausted. Such times are opportunities to learn our dependence on the Lord. He provides spiritual refreshment and restoration. He renews our life (23:3).

God met David’s directional needs. He leads me along the right paths (23:3). Sheep are prone to wander and become lost; they need guidance. Many cars today have navigational systems. If you deviate from the best route to reach your destination, the system will warn you to return to the right road. Through his Word and his Spirit, God leads us along the right paths in life—and reroutes us when we foolishly become wayward. Why? For his name’s sake (23:3)—that is, so that others can hear us say, “My God has brought me here.”

23:4 God met David’s emotional needs. Regardless of the danger surrounding them, sheep can follow their shepherd without fear. He provides comfort with his rod (used to beat wild animals that attack the sheep) and his staff (used to guide the sheep and pull them back from harm). When life takes you through the darkest valley, receive consolation knowing that your divine shepherd has power in one hand and grace in the other.

23:5 God met David’s physical needs. Though enemies hovered near, God fed him when he hungered and anointed him with oil when he needed healing. Like David, we must recognize that we have one source. There are many resources—many channels God may use to provide and care for your physical well being—but you have only one source. And God never runs dry. That’s why David’s cup overflowed.

23:6 God met David’s eternal needs. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life. Shepherds often have sheep dogs that keep the sheep from wandering. The divine shepherd has two sheepdogs named “goodness” and “faithful love.” Sometimes, they bark and nip at you when you wander from the fold. But, they do so with the intent of driving you back into fellowship with your shepherd, so that you may eternally dwell in the house of the Lord.

Submit to “the great Shepherd of the sheep” (Heb 13:20), our Lord Jesus Christ. He lays down his life for his sheep (see John 10:11), and through his wounds, we are healed (see 1 Pet 2:24). If you have gone astray, return to him (1 Pet 2:25), because he knows his sheep, and they know him (see John 10:14). He will welcome you.

24:1-2 David affirms the worldwide scope of God’s dominion. The earth and everything in it . . . belong to the Lord (24:1). The reason God can claim sovereignty over all things is because he is the Creator of all. He laid the earth’s foundations (24:2). Everything exists because God spoke it into existence (see Heb 11:3).

24:3-6 David gives the requirements for the one who wants to be accepted in God’s presence (24:3). He or she must have clean hands and a pure heart (24:4)—that is, a life that is clean inside and out. This is the one who will receive blessing and righteousness (24:5). Like Jacob, he will wrestle with God (see Gen 32:24-30), but get to see his face (24:6).

24:7-10 King David calls for the gates of the holy city of Jerusalem to be opened for the triumphal procession of the King of glory, the Lord Almighty (24:7). The historical context of this psalm may have been David’s return from battle with the ark of the covenant, which was considered the Lord’s throne (see Exod 25:22; 1 Sam 4:4; Isa 37:16). Above it was the divine King—the Lord of Armies—who was mighty in battle (24:8, 10) and gave victory to Israel. The Messiah, too, will one day defeat his enemies in the tribulation and establish his millennial kingdom.

Praise is the appropriate response to our great God. He alone can claim victory. We should not enter into his presence for worship in a careless or casual manner. He is the King of glory! If we fail to honor and worship him for who he truly is, it is to our detriment.

25:1-3 In this psalm, King David expresses a deep longing for God’s intervention in his circumstances. Notice the repetition: He does not want to be disgraced before his enemies (25:2). He knows that those who wait on God will not be disgraced. Instead, treacherous people will (25:3). David is confident that his trust in God is justified (25:2). He would experience a reversal. That which he feared would actually fall on his enemies.

25:4-7 David requests divine guidance so that he might walk in God’s ways (25:4). He trusts in the Lord as the one who delivers (25:5) and calls on him to remember his faithful love (25:6)—his covenant love—instead of remembering his sins (25:7). David appeals to God based on the loyal, loving relationship they shared. The greater his intimacy with God, the greater his dependency on God. The greater his dependency on God, the greater the expectation for intervention and deliverance. This is why our covenant relationship with Christ is so critical. David knows that past sins could interfere with God answering his requests, so he confesses them to position himself for divine favor.

25:8-11 Because of God’s character (the fact that he is good and upright), sinners can learn from him the right way to live (25:8). They ought to humble themselves and receive his instruction (25:9), rather than proudly assuming they can make it their own way. The Lord’s ways are always good and true, and they are experienced by those who come under the cover of his covenant (25:10). Again, David asks God to forgive his iniquity (25:11), which could block the flow of covenant blessings.

25:12-15 Who is the person who fears the Lord? (25:12). To fear God is to take him seriously. This disposition toward God is reflected by our obedience to him. Such a person will live a good life, which includes blessings that lead to internal and external prospering (25:13). God rewards those who fear him with his inside information—secret counsel that is particular to the person and his individual experience of God’s covenant (25:14). Therefore, David kept his eyes focused on the Lord, confident that he would pull his feet out of the net—that is, deliver him from his enemies (25:15).

25:16-22 Again, David pleads with God to be gracious in the midst of the affliction brought on by his enemies (25:16-19). He petitions the Lord to guard him, and he waits on him to act (25:20-21). Yet, the king doesn’t want God to rescue him alone but the whole congregation of Israel (25:22). This is a reminder that as we pray for ourselves, we ought to look to the needs of fellow believers. Let us ask God to work through our requests so that he might benefit others, as well.

26:1-2 David calls on the Lord to vindicate and exonerate him from false accusations because he has lived with integrity (26:1). He invites divine scrutiny of his heart and mind (26:2). Only God has access to our inner lives—to our thoughts and motivations. So, to request such an internal examination, David was clearly confident of his uprightness.

26:3-5 He validates his integrity by pointing to his life, his actions. Not only does he live by the truth of God (26:3), he also avoids association with the worthless . . . hypocrites . . . evildoers, and the wicked (26:4-5; see 1:1).

26:6-8 David seeks to address any sin in his life. To wash his hands is to metaphorically cleanse his life of evil deeds. He also offers the appropriate sacrifices at the altar to atone for sin (26:6). This enables him to attend public worship, where God’s glory was manifested, so that he could give thanks and proclaim God’s wondrous works (26:7-8). We are called to do the same: confess our sins to God, celebrate the atoning sacrifice of Christ through Communion, and join together corporately with God’s people to worship God for who he is, what he has done, and what we are trusting him to do.

26:9-12 The king concludes with his desire to separate himself from evildoers (26:9-10), live with integrity (26:11), and bless the Lord in the assemblies of God’s people (26:12). These are key steps for us to take, too. Do not come under the influence of those who despise God; instead, walk in God’s ways with an upright heart, and stay in fellowship with God’s covenant people to keep you steady in difficult times.

27:1-3 David affirms the Lord as the source of his confidence. As his light (27:1), God illuminates the darkness that surrounds David. As his salvation (27:1), God delivers him physically and spiritually in spite of the adversity he faces (27:2-3).

27:4-6 I have asked one thing from the Lord . . . to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life (27:4). David passionately pursues intimate fellowship with God as he worships him in his tabernacle. It was this pursuit of God that bolstered his confidence in him. This great psalmist of Israel knew that, in God’s presence, he would experience both divine covering and divine exaltation (27:5-6).

27:7-10 David appeals to God to be gracious and hear his call (27:7). He wants nothing more than to seek the face of God (27:8)—that is, to pursue God’s presence in order to experience his favor and fellowship. David knows that God is the only one he could truly not do without. If everyone were to abandon him—even his father and mother (27:10)—he would not be left void of care. God would fill the gap.

27:11-14 Show me your way (27:11). David wants clear direction and a level path so that his enemies would not overpower him (27:11-12). Having received encouragement and comfort from God, David then turns and offers encouragement to others (see 2 Cor 1:3-5): Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart be courageous (27:14). “Waiting” on God does not mean being passive; rather, it is an active engagement of life’s challenges within the revealed will of God as we hope for his deliverance.

28:1-5 David pours out his heart to the Lord in a plea for mercy and help (28:1-2). He asks that God not judge him along with the wicked, but instead repay them as the evil of their deeds deserved (28:3-4). People devote themselves to wickedness because they fail to consider . . . the work of [God’s] hands (28:5). They are without excuse and incur his wrath (see Rom 1:18-23).

28:6-8 The king praises God because he heard his prayer, served as the source of his strength and protection, and enabled him to escape the schemes of the wicked. Praise is the appropriate response to divine intervention in our lives. Whenever God provides some form of deliverance in your circumstances, it ought to prompt fresh praise for his shield of covering amid the evil that surrounds us.

28:9 David concludes with a request for protection of the entire nation. David was the king, the shepherd of God’s sheep. Yet, he knew that the Lord is the ultimate shepherd, both for him personally and for Israel. So, he urges God to shepherd his people and carry them through their trials.

29:1-2 David calls the heavenly beings to praise the Lord by ascribing glory to him (29:1-2). Such worship is fitting. It is the adoration due his name because of the splendor of his holiness, which refers to God’s separateness and uniqueness (29:2). He is uncontaminated and in a class by himself. Thus, worship is not merely something created beings do for God; it is something we rightly owe him.

29:3-9 As Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” The creation testifies to the majesty of the Creator. The voice of the Lord is the focus of these verses. Clearly, the reference is to a thunderstorm. Such a spectacular display is not the work of so-called Mother Nature, but of Father God. His lightning flashes flames of fire and shatters the cedars of Lebanon (29:5, 7). Nothing in all of creation is unaffected by such power (29:8-9). Thus, as his people gather to worship him in Jerusalem, they shout, Glory! (29:9). We must give the Lord the unique exaltation he deserves.

29:10-11 God has used his creation to judge wickedness, as at the flood (29:10; see Gen 7:11-24), and to deliver his people, as at the Red Sea (see Exod 14:15-31). As the Creator of the earth, God is rightly seen as the King of the earth, enthroned above all he has made (29:10). He exercises final authority. This ought to give his people comfort when we face opposition that’s too powerful for us. God has the final word. Regardless of how weak we are, he gives his people strength. No matter who curses, he blesses his people with peace (29:11)—that is, with completeness and well-being. His overwhelming glory should encourage us and evoke even greater praise.

30:1-3 David exalts God for lifting and delivering him from a deep pit—and preventing his enemies from celebrating his downfall (30:1). He had apparently suffered from a physical ailment, but God healed him and rescued him from Sheol, the grave (30:2-3).

30:4-5 He invites the people of God to sing to the Lord and praise him (30:4). For his anger with his children is temporary. He is eager to reverse course and bring blessing. Weeping may stay overnight, but there is joy in the morning (30:5). This should encourage us in repentance. God does not enjoy bringing discipline but prefers to shower us with his grace.

30:6-7 Feeling secure and self-assured, David had said of himself, I will never be shaken (30:6). In other words, he had become proud and independent from God. This led to divine discipline. God hid [his] face, removing his covering and presence (30:7). God hates pride. It was the sin of Satan. Therefore, a prideful heart will always drive him away. “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet 5:5).

30:8-10 When experiencing the disciplining divine hand, David humbled himself and sought favor from God (30:8). He pleaded with God for forgiveness. After all, if he were to descend to the Pit in death, he could not praise God or proclaim his truth (30:9). He wanted God’s healing and restoration so that he could publicly exalt the God who delivers.

30:11-12 David concludes the psalm, celebrating how God had removed the sackcloth of his sorrow and replaced it with the clothing of gladness (30:11). As a result, David refuses to be silent (30:12). How could he be? How can we be? When we experience the deliverance of God in whatever form it takes—spiritual, physical, emotional, relational, or financial—let our testimony be the same as David’s: Lord my God, I will praise you forever (30:12).

31:1-5 David appeals to God for deliverance from oppression. He affirms his complete trust in the Lord because he alone can be described as a rock of refuge and a mountain fortress (31:2). Such a stronghold would be impregnable to enemy attack. That is what God was to David. There is no safer shelter than living under the Lord’s covenant covering, so David is confident that God would guide him through his troubles (31:3). Like Jesus on the cross, he confessed, Into your hand I entrust my spirit (31:3-5; see Luke 23:46).

31:6-8 He expresses his hatred for the worship of worthless idols (31:6). Indeed, they are lifeless and powerless. The Lord, on the other hand, was worthy of David’s trust because of his faithful love (31:6-7). Because of God’s commitment to his covenant with David, and David’s dependence on him, he delivered David from his enemy (31:8). Like David, we must reject idolatry in whatever form it takes. God draws near to those who place their confidence in him alone.

31:9-13 David pours out his heart to the Lord regarding his distress and frustration (31:9). Note the language he uses to describe how he feels and how he has been treated by others: his life is consumed with grief and with groaning; his strength has failed (31:10); he has been ridiculed and forgotten—not only by enemies but also by friends (31:11-12); he has been hurt by gossip (31:13). Let David’s transparency before God be an example to you. When you have been wounded by life, take these divinely inspired prayers and make them your own.

31:14-22 In spite of his desperate circumstances, David trusts that God has the power to rescue him (31:14-15). He knew every aspect of his life was in God’s hands, and he anticipated deliverance because of God’s character. For those who fear God, the goodness of God is described as something stored up (31:19). He has piled his goodness high and is ready to dispense it to those who take him seriously, honor him, and look to him with expectation. “What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived—God has prepared these things for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9). Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his faithful love (31:22).

31:23-24 David exhorts his fellow worshipers—including you and me—to love God, be strong and courageous, and put their hope in him. God is worthy of this because of who he is and the support he promises to all who look to him. Let this psalm challenge you to know God’s character so that you can appeal to that character when you need him most.

32:1-2 The apostle Paul writes, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). David knew this to be true—particularly about himself. That’s why he could affirm the blessedness of forgiveness from God. What joy to know that God has forgiven our transgression and iniquity.

32:3-5 When David left his sins of adultery and murder unaddressed, it took its toll on him, physically and emotionally. His bones ached, his groaning filled the air, and his strength was drained (32:3-4). His problem was not medical, though, but theological: God’s hand was heavy on [him] (32:4). Thus, David emphasizes the relationship among unaddressed sin, physical and emotional wellbeing, and loss of fellowship with God. When he acknowledged [his] sin, God granted forgiveness and removed David’s guilt (32:5).

32:6-7 In light of the mercy David experienced, he calls on all believers to respond the same way regarding their own sin. We should pray to [God] immediately. When we are engulfed in floodwaters of distress, we need to go to God without delay in confession and repentance (32:6). Those in Noah’s day refused to repent, and the flood of judgment took them away. But, Noah responded to God and found himself and his family covered. Likewise, David experienced God as his hiding place, a place of protection from trouble (32:7).

32:8-11 David uses an illustration to reinforce the foolishness of resisting repentance: Do not be like a horse or mule . . . that must be controlled with bit and bridle (32:9). Such animals are stubborn; they must be made to do what they don’t want to do. Similarly, humans don’t naturally confess their sins and repent of them. But, we must see the incentives for doing so: forgiveness from God, intimacy with God, and joy in God. The wicked who refuse to repent will have many pains, but the one who trusts God will be immersed in his faithful love and can shout for joy (32:10-11).

So, when you have sinned and the call for repentance comes, don’t hold back. Confess your sins specifically, agree with what God says about them, appeal to his grace and mercy for forgiveness, and anticipate the return of the joy of your salvation.

33:1-5 Psalm 33 is a call to collective praise of the Creator, a song of God’s righteous ones set to musical accompaniment (33:1-3). God ought to be worshiped musically by his people because he is true and faithful: his word is right and his work is trustworthy (33:4). What does he love? What does he want to see in his people? Righteousness and justice (33:5). These two are regularly linked in Scripture. They combine the vertical righteous standing before God and the horizontal just treatment of our neighbors. They are coupled together here because they must not be separate, but rather operate simultaneously.

33:6-11 David expands on the word and work of God from 33:4. All of creation is a product of his powerful word (33:6). He spoke, and it came into being; he commanded, and it came into existence (33:9). The Lord merely speaks, and things happen. He simply declares a thing to be, and it is. Such sovereign, creative power should cause everyone everywhere to fear and stand in awe of him (33:8). By his word, God also controls history. The counsel and plans of menacing nations may strike fear into the hearts of humans (33:10), but they are nothing before God—just a mere “drop in a bucket” (Isa 40:15). He thwarts them, but his counsel and plans are unstoppable (33:10-11).

33:12-19 What a blessing it is to be part of God’s elect people (33:12)! In his omniscience, he observes everyone (33:13). He does not deliver those who are self-sufficient, who rely on their own might or ingenuity (33:16-17). Instead, he rescues those who depend on his faithful love in the midst of the most perilous circumstances (33:18-19).

33:20-22 David ends with a reaffirmation of the trust and hope that he and the people had in the Lord (33:21-22)—which was demonstrated as they waited on him. To wait for the Lord (33:20) is not to be idle. It is to refuse to step out of his will to address your situation. By doing this, you can have confidence of experiencing his faithful love (33:22).

The superscription indicates the psalm’s historical context. David penned it after he had pretended to be insane in the presence of Abimelech. This is a reference to the time when David feigned madness to protect himself from being executed by King Achish of Gath (see 1 Sam 21:10-15). “Abimelech,” a Hebrew word meaning “my father is king,” was apparently a title or another name for Achish.

34:1-3 David vows to praise the Lord—not merely when all is well—but at all times (34:1), and especially when things are at their worst. Such worship of God will elicit gladness from other believers and encourage them (34:2). David urges these fellow saints to exalt God with him (34:3). In other words, he says, “Don’t make me praise God by myself. Let’s together make him appear as big as he truly is.”

34:4-5 Meditating on the perilous situation from which he’d escaped, David reveals that he had sought God in the midst of his troubles, and the Lord thus rescued him from his fears (34:4). We live in a world full of things that incite fear. So, where will we turn when fear strikes? Those who, like David, look to the Lord will have joy (34:5). Faith expressed in prayer is God’s antidote for fear (see Phil 4:6-7).

34:6-7 Though David was a mighty warrior, he was at the mercy of King Achish on this particular occasion. He was a mere poor man who could only cry to God. And God saved him (34:6). Your weakness is not a liability when the Lord is your God. Those who fear him—those who give him the honor he deserves—need not fear anything else, because the angel of the Lord (that is, the pre-incarnate Christ) will set his battle encampment around them (34:7).

34:8-10 David extends an invitation to taste and see that the Lord is good. He invites us to perform a taste test about something he’s discovered. Anything that is good in your life has its origin in God (see Jas 1:17), so you can trust him to do what only he can do. Young lions may hunt for food and yet go hungry. But, what are we called to do in our need? Seek the Lord (34:10). “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Matt 6:33). If you align yourself with God, you will be positioned to receive the goodness that he knows you need regardless of the trials that come your way.

34:11-14 What does the fear of God look like? (34:11). What is required of someone who wants to experience what is good? (34:12). Keep your mouth and actions from evil (34:13-14). Instead, do what is good and seek peace (34:14). The formula is simple. If God is “good” (34:8), and you want “to enjoy what is good” (34:12), then “do what is good” (34:14).

34:15-18 The righteous, those who trust the Lord and submit to his kingdom agenda, receive his full attention. His eyes see them, his ears hear them, he rescues them from . . . troubles, and he grants them his presence (34:15, 17-18). As it turns out, those who do what is evil also receive God’s attention. But, in their case, he sets his face against them in order to wipe their memory . . . from the earth (34:16). How would you prefer that God take notice of you?

34:19-20 The righteous have many adversities. In fact, you haven’t seen trouble until you’ve become a Christian because that’s when the devil puts his bull’s-eye on you. Yet, the Lord has the ability to rescue, no matter the situation. David learned that truth firsthand. That’s why he could say, he protects all his bones; not one of them is broken (34:32). This promise found ultimate fulfillment when Jesus went to the cross (see John 19:33-36).

34:21-22 David concludes with words that you can bank on: Those who hate the righteous will be punished (34:21). Indeed, those who set themselves against God and his people will not escape his retribution. In contrast, those who take refuge in him will not be punished (34:22). When you place yourself under God’s covering, you’re in the safest place in the universe.

35:1-10 Oppose my opponents . . . fight those who fight me (35:1). David’s prayer is an appeal for God’s intervention against his enemies who were persecuting him. He wants God to be like a warrior, using his shields and spear to protect him (35:2-3). He wants his enemies to be like chaff in the wind driven away by the angel of the Lord (35:5). He hopes they’ll be caught in the very net that they hid for him (35:8-9). If the Lord would save him, David vows to rejoice in the deliverance of the God who rescues the poor and needy (35:9-10).

35:11-18 David laments over those who repay his kindness toward them with evil (35:12). When they were sick, he had mourned, fasted, and prayed for them (35:13-14). But, when David stumbled, they gloated and mocked (35:15-16). He thus asks God, how long will you look on? (35:17). When would God take action? Yet, he again promises to give public praise when his deliverance comes (35:18).

35:19-21 He urges God to prevent the triumph of his foes because they hated him without cause (35:19). They were the kind of people who wink and make false accusations against those living peacefully with others (35:19-20).

35:22-26 You saw it, Lord; do not be silent (35:22). Regardless of the lies people spread, God knows the truth. Thus, David calls on him to be his defender and vindicator (35:23-24). He pictures his enemies as beasts that wanted to growl, We have swallowed him up! (35:25). And, because their actions were so shameful, David longs for God to clothe them with shame (35:26).

35:27-28 David desires that the vindication he expected from God would lead to continuous praise from both God’s people and himself. When you experience injustice, let the words of David’s inspired psalm help you to pray. Don’t fail to give God the praise he is due when he comes through for you.

36:1-4 David points to two reasons why the wicked person turns to ungodliness: Dread of God has no effect on him, and he has a flattering opinion of himself (36:1-2). In other words, he has a low view of God and a high view of self. He continuously commits sin, and his conscience does not trouble him. He boldly speaks evil and plans evil (36:3-4).

36:5-9 Where does David turn to find relief from the wickedness that surrounds him? He meditates on God, comparing his faithful love . . . faithfulness . . . righteousness . . . judgments to the grandest aspects of the created world (36:5-6). As the king of Israel, David was a wealthy man. But, the most priceless treasure to which he had access was the faithful love of God. The one who benefits from it is like a chick protected under the wings of a mother hen (36:7). Those who look to God as their source will experience the abundance of his provision and be satisfied (36:8). He is the wellspring of life (36:9).

36:10-12 David concludes his prayer with a request that God would provide his protective love for those who know him in intimate fellowship (36:10). He asks that the wicked would not prevail but be defeated by divine judgment (36:11-12).

37:1-6 David encourages the righteous not to fret over evildoers, for they are temporary and will wither quickly like grass under a hot sun (37:1-2). The key to security is to delight in the Lord. Then, he will give you your heart’s desires (37:4). You can expect God’s movement in your life when your thinking and desires match his. He desires to bless you more than you want to be blessed, so commit your way to the Lord (37:5). If you entrust your entire life to the King’s agenda, he will act on your behalf with righteousness and justice (37:5-6).

37:7-15 Our focus should be on God and not on the wicked. We are to wait expectantly for him (37:7). Notice that we are not to merely wait, but to wait with expectation—confident that he will respond when our “trust” and “delight” are “in him” (37:3-5). We need not be agitated about evildoers, for the Lord will deal with them (37:8-10). Remember: vengeance belongs to God; he will repay (Deut 32:35). The Lord knows that the wicked person’s day is coming when he will fall by his own schemes (37:12-15). But, those who look to and submit to God will experience provision and peace (37:9, 11)—and will receive their duly allotted inheritance (see Matt 5:5).

37:16-26 The little that the righteous person has is better than the abundance of many wicked people (37:16). No matter how much the wicked acquire, eventually they will be broken . . . fade away . . . destroyed (37:17, 20, 22). No matter how little the righteous have, however, the Lord supports and watches over them (37:17-18). Their inheritance will last forever (37:18). God will keep their blessings secure until the time is right to dispense them—sometimes in history, but mostly in eternity. He is a loving Father to his people. Even when they fall, he holds them with his hand in a gentle but firm grip (37:24). God’s children will not be abandoned. Instead, he is generous to them so that they, in turn, are a blessing to others (37:25-26).

37:27-40 David further contrasts the righteous and the wicked regarding their eternal destinies. The posterity of the wicked will be wiped out (37:28). Though a wicked, violent person seems to be flourishing at present, the Lord will uproot him so that he is no longer found (37:35-36). His future . . . will be destroyed (37:38). But, those who turn away from evil and do what is good will dwell . . . permanently (37:27, 29). The one who follows God will have a future (37:37). Make the Lord your refuge, your shelter, and he will deliver you (37:39-40).

38:1-8 David begins the psalm with a cry to God for mercy (38:1). He was experiencing the chastisement of God, which was affecting him physically, spiritually, and emotionally (38:2-8). This divine discipline on David was because of [his] sin . . . iniquities, and foolishness, which he admitted to the Lord (38:3-5).

38:9-12 David’s suffering was open and exposed (38:9-10). He looked to God for help because there was no one else to whom he could turn. His suffering caused his loved ones and friends to avoid him; it caused his enemies to threaten him and plot treachery against him (38:11-12).

38:13-20 I put my hope in you, Lord (38:15). David’s need was great and his situation was desperate; therefore, God was his only hope. He looked to God to protect him (38:16). He recognized that his sin had led to his suffering and that his enemies were too powerful for him (38:18-19). Only God could deal with both problems. David was helpless to help himself.

38:21-22 He petitions God not to forsake him but to be quick to save him: Hurry to help me, my Lord, my salvation (38:22). In your moments of need, remember that God is your Savior, too. He does not merely provide you with salvation; he is your salvation.

39:1-3 David resolves not to sin through his words (39:1). The book of Proverbs contains much wisdom about how to do this, which is necessary help because James reminds us how hard it is to control the tongue (see Jas 3:1-12). Because David did not want to say anything he would regret, he kept silent, even from speaking good. In the long run, however, he took his silence too far; it only intensified his pain and anguish (39:2-3). We can sin not just with our words but also with our silence. Knowing when to speak and when to withhold something requires wisdom.

39:4-11 David prays that God would help him understand how short-lived he was (39:4). In comparison to God, his life span was insignificant. Every human being, in fact, is nothing but a vapor (39:5, 11). In light of such brevity of life (39:4-5) and its uncertainty (39:6), David declares that God is his hope and the one who would rescue him (39:7-8). David also petitioned God to end his discipline and remove the consequences of sin he was enduring (39:10-11).

39:12-13 David asks that God would not be silent (39:12)—as David had been earlier when he should have spoken (39:2, 9). He prays that God would hear his cry, not treat him like a stranger, and show him favor in his remaining days.

40:1-5 David celebrates his past deliverance from trouble. God heard his cry and responded (40:1). With vivid imagery, David explains how God lifted him from a miry pit and set his feet on solid rock (40:2). Therefore, he praises God with a new song, so that it would motivate others to put their trust in the Lord, too (40:3). Such trust in God makes one happy (40:4). David’s psalms arose out of his deep experiences of God, and he desired that others would have rich experiences of him, as well. We ought to keep track of the wondrous works that God has accomplished in our lives, so that—like David—we are able to testify confidently that they are more than can be told (40:5).

40:6-8 David affirms that God prefers that we commit our lives to him rather than merely offering sacrifices to him. He submits himself to the scroll of God’s Word, which reveals God’s will (40:7). David does not obey God begrudgingly. He does so willingly and with joy: I delight to do your will, my God (40:8). Many people want personal guidance directly from the Lord, yet they skip the guidance available in his revealed Word. You cannot be led in God’s personal will for your life if you neglect his revealed will in Scripture.

The author of Hebrews applies these verses to Jesus Christ, who came to fulfill the Father’s purposes (see Heb 10:5-7).

40:9-10 David is overwhelmed when he contemplates the attributes of God. He could not keep [his] mouth closed (40:9). Thus, to the assembly of God’s people, he proclaimed God’s righteousness . . . faithfulness . . . salvation . . . love and truth (40:10).

40:11-17 He shifts from praise to urgent prayer. His iniquities had brought negative consequences upon him, so he pleads with God for compassion (40:11-12). David implores God to rescue him (40:13), prevent his enemies from triumphing over him (40:14-15), and to let all who seek [God] rejoice (40:16). All of these actions brought glory to the God of salvation and causes his people to declare, The Lord is great! (40:16). This should be our declaration, too.

41:1-3 David highlights the truth that God shows special concern and care for those who are considerate of the poor (41:1). Anyone who wants to receive mercy, then, must show mercy. God takes note of such demonstrations of kindness and causes the blessings of mercy to boomerang back to the merciful. He rewards the merciful with protection, security, and restoration (41:2-3; see Jas 1:27; 2:13).

41:4-9 David confesses his sin and sought God’s grace (41:4). He is grieved to see his enemies taking advantage of his condition, saying he would not survive the consequences of his sin (41:5-8). These who conspired against him included even his friend in whom [he] trusted. Though this person had shared close fellowship with David over meals, he raised his heel against him (41:9). Perhaps this is a reference to Ahithophel, David’s counselor, who betrayed him by joining Absalom’s conspiracy (see 2 Sam 15:12; 16:20–17:4). According to the New Testament, though, the passage was ultimately fulfilled when Judas betrayed his Master, the Son of David (see John 13:18-30).

41:10-13 David wants to see his enemies repaid for their evil (41:10-11). He has confidence in God’s support because he had acted with integrity (41:12). He concludes with eternal praise for the Lord God of Israel (41:13). This closes the first book of the Psalms.

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