I. Book I (Psalms Psalms 1–41)


I. Book I (Psalms 1–41)

Psalm 1

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.

Everyone wants to be blessed, but we should define what that means. For many people, being blessed refers to stuff acquired. Yet, one can have an abundance of stuff and be miserable. So, put simply, blessing is the God-given capacity to experience, enjoy, and extend the goodness and favor of God in your life—whatever form God’s goodness and favor takes. Paul confesses, “I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:12-13). In other words, he had learned to enjoy God’s heavenly goodness regardless of his earthly circumstances.

Interestingly, the psalmist explains what the blessed / happy person does not do. First, he does not walk in the advice of the wicked. The biblical metaphor of “walking” refers to how one lives. The fastest way to miss your blessing is to take counsel from those who have no regard for God’s view on life. Second, he does not stand in the pathway with sinners. The blessed person does not hang out with people who will influence him toward sin and away from God. Third, he does not sit in the company of mockers. Mockers make light of serious things, sitting in judgment of everyone and everything. Yet, they fail to allow their critical gaze to turn back to themselves. Notice the progression: walking, standing, sitting. The one who is regularly influenced by people with little regard for God finds himself more and more at home with human viewpoints and misses God’s blessings.

1:2 What does the blessed person do? He delights in the Lord’s instruction. To delight in something is to find your joy and pleasure in it. The blessed man or woman finds this in God’s Word, meditating on it day and night. To this, someone may object, “I have a job and a family. I don’t have time to read the Bible day and night!” But, the psalmist doesn’t say the blessed person reads God’s instruction day and night; he says he meditates on it.

To meditate on something is to recall, ponder, and interact with it in the mind. When we meditate on God’s Word, we mentally chew on it until it becomes a part of us. This, in fact, is why consuming God’s Word is often spoken of in terms of eating: “Your words were found, and I ate them. Your words became a delight to me and the joy of my heart” (Jer 15:16; see Ps 119:103; Ezek 3:1-3; Rev 10:9-10).

When we meditate on the Word of God, we think about how it connects to life. We ask ourselves, “How does the Word speak to the circumstances I am currently facing?” The gap between hearing the Word and being blessed is closed with meditation. Considering life from the divine viewpoint and acting in accordance with it brings the tangible experience of blessing.

1:3 The blessed person is like a tree planted beside flowing streams. Such trees are not easily swayed; they hold their ground. The “flowing streams” in view are irrigation channels, so regardless of how barren the weather, such a tree is positioned to drink from a continuous source of life.

That the tree bears its fruit in its season indicates that the blessed person is productive, maximizing his potential. Importantly, fruit reveals something about the quality of the tree that bears it. If you’re not bearing worthwhile fruit, then, it’s because there’s nothing worthwhile inside of you. Moreover, trees don’t eat their own fruit; the fruit exists for the benefit of others. Thus, you know that you’re blessed when you are being a blessing.

That the leaf does not wither doesn’t mean that a blessed person never has negative experiences. Rather, the negative things don’t cause him to wither and die. You know you’re blessed when you bounce back from life’s trials more quickly than you once did.

1:4 The psalmist contrasted the fruitful life of the righteous one who is blessed by God with the worthless life of the wicked. Instead of being like mighty and stable trees, the wicked are like chaff that the wind blows away. In the ancient process of winnowing, the kernel of grain was separated from the husk. While the kernel fell to the threshing floor to be collected, the worthless husk and other parts—the chaff—blew away in the breeze. The righteous who live by God’s Word produce things of eternal value. The wicked and their useless deeds won’t last.

1:5-6 The basis of God’s judgment will be his omniscience, his intimate knowledge of all people—the wicked and the righteous—and all they do. The wicked will not stand among the righteous on the day when God’s just verdict is rendered (1:5). He watches over the way of the righteous. But, because they fail to submit to God’s authority through his Word, the way of the wicked only leads to ruin (1:6). Choose wisely which path you will take.

Psalm 2

2:1-3 This is the first messianic psalm, which moves from the lesser King David to his greater son, King Jesus. It celebrates the coronation of the king. Though the psalm includes no title indicating authorship, the New Testament attributes its words to David (see Acts 4:25-26).

The raging of the nations mentioned in verse 1 is in vain in that it’s a waste of time. Why? Because these kings and rulers of the world had conspired together to take their stand . . . against the Lord and his Anointed One (2:2). And, while a coalition of world powers could threaten humanity, they pose no threat to the God of the universe. At the height of David’s power as king, many nations submitted to Israel and paid tribute, and they desired to tear off their chains and be free from David’s domination (2:3). But, to stand against King David was to stand against God, which is ultimately futile.

How much more is this true of Jesus Christ, the Son of David? He is the true “Anointed One,” the Messiah, the Son of God. To reject the Son is to reject the Father (see 1 John 2:23). Gentile and Jewish rulers conspired against Jesus and executed him by crucifixion. Yet, this was all part of God’s plan (see Acts 4:25-28) that he might bring salvation to sinners. In the end, then, their plot proved futile; even death could not hold him.

2:4-6 In spite of the rebellion of the nations on earth, God remains enthroned in heaven. And the God who created the universe with the mere words of his mouth chuckles at the ridiculous rebels and ridicules them (2:4). No one who fails to submit to the Lord’s authority, he knows, will escape his anger and wrath (2:5). He is in control and will respond with judgment for the wickedness of rejecting his king (2:6). Ultimately, this will happen when Jesus rules in Jerusalem during his millennial reign.

2:7-9 The interesting statement, You are my Son; today I have become your Father (2:7), is first a reminder that the Davidic king was considered God’s “son” when anointed and installed on his throne (see 2 Sam 7:12-14). But, this sentence is even truer of Jesus, the heir to the Davidic throne and the only one who can truly be called “the Son of God.” Though David possessed a great kingdom and ruled the nations because of the victories God gave him, only King Jesus will receive all the nations as his inheritance and the ends of the earth as his possession when he reigns in the millennium (2:8). No nation—however powerful—will be able to stand against him. With his iron scepter, he will one day break and shatter all who oppose him (2:9). Rebellion against the kingdom reign of Messiah is pointless; it is the rebellion of an ant against an elephant.

2:10-11 All kings are called to be wise and receive instruction (2:10). God calls them to serve him with reverential awe and to rejoice with trembling (2:11). If they will humble themselves in submission, they will prosper. To continue prideful revolt is a fool’s errand that will result in defeat.

2:12 How can the kings of the earth submit to God during the millennium? By paying homage to his Son. In Hebrew, to “pay homage” is literally “to kiss” the Son—that is, to submit to his authority and rule. King Jesus is not only to be obeyed but also worshiped just as the Father is worshiped. “Every knee will bow . . . and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11). So, why should the nations perish in their rebellion? They can escape the Son’s anger against sin by taking refuge in him. Those who do so are happy and blessed. The church is to model this satisfaction that will be universal in the millennial kingdom.

Psalm 3

This psalm is ascribed to David. It is his cry for deliverance when he fled from his son Absalom who sought to seize his throne and drove the king from his palace (see 2 Sam 15:1–16:14).

3:1-2 Verse one is an acknowledgement that many of David’s fellow Israelites under the influence of his son had risen up against him. They were convinced that Absalom was too strong for the aging David and that God couldn’t deliver him. There is no help for him in God (3:2) means that, in their eyes, David’s demise was certain.

3:3-4 Regardless of how bleak the circumstances looked, David expresses his confidence in God’s deliverance: You, Lord, are a shield around me (3:3). Though he recognized the danger of his situation, his focus was not ultimately on his enemies but on God. He cried to the Lord whose earthly throne was on Zion, his holy mountain (that is, Jerusalem), where the temple would be built (3:4). God was the source of David’s protection; therefore, he believed he would be restored to a place of dignity. God himself would lift his weary head (3:3).

3:5-6 Whether David lay down to sleep or awoke to a new day, he recognized that God—not his own strength or ability—sustained him (3:5). And, if he couldn’t even sustain himself through the daily act of sleeping, how much less could he do so during a rebellious uprising? Trusting in God’s sustaining power, David would not fear thousands who stood against him (3:6). He had a great sense of peace and calm from God in spite of his difficulties. When our circumstances overwhelm us, we are called to look to the same God of peace.

3:7-8 David petitions God to rise up and save him. He calls on God to override his enemies and subjugate them. To strike one’s enemies on the cheek (3:7) was an insult intended to bring them to their senses and place them into submission—in this case, both to God and to David. David concludes his prayer of deliverance with a Godward focus because salvation belongs to the Lord (3:8). He alone determines the time, place, and method of our deliverance.

Importantly, David was not looking out only for himself. He was concerned for God’s people; thus, he prays, may your blessing be on your people (3:8). When we are illegitimately oppressed, our focus should be on God. Though we must not ignore the reality of our suffering, we can find peace in the midst of our storms. What you look at will affect how you feel.

Psalm 4

4:1 Answer me when I call, God. David expresses his dependency on the Lord because he is the source of righteousness, the one who vindicated him. Just as God had freed him from his past suffering and affliction, David knew that God would meet him in the midst of his current trials. He appeals to God to be gracious to him, hear his prayer, and provide what he needs to face his circumstances.

4:2-5 David warns “the sons of a man” (the literal rendering of CSB’s exalted ones) to take God seriously; this is what Scripture calls “fearing God.” They should not love what is worthless or pursue a lie (4:2). Rather, they should tremble before God and not allow their anger to cause them to sin against God’s anointed king. For God watched over his faithful servant David and would hear his cries for help (4:3-4). It was thus a better option to trust the Lord and offer righteous sacrifices (4:5).

4:6 God alone is the source of blessing. David thus encourages the discouraged around him, those who ask, Who can show us anything good? He reminds them that the Lord can revive the countenance. He would illuminate them and show them favor in spite of their adversity.

4:7-8 David celebrates the joy that God had placed in his heart—more joy than was possible even during the great harvest festival (4:7)—because, in the midst of David’s difficulty, God had given him sleep . . . peace, and safety (4:8). This is a reminder that in times of trial, God often gives proof of his presence. Thus, the follower of God can experience “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” and that “will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7). This psalm reminds us that God provides confidence and encouragement in our suffering. We, in turn, are able to share that confidence and encouragement with others.

Psalm 5

5:1-3 David appeals to the Lord to consider his sighing and pay attention to his cry (5:1-2). Though David was king over Israel, he recognizes that he depends on God, the true sovereign King over all (5:2). David makes his plea early in the morning; he does not delay. The more dangerous, difficult, and desperate the circumstances, the more urgent it is to begin each day seeking God’s intervention and watching expectantly for him to answer (5:3).

5:4-6 David focuses on God’s holiness. He is completely separate from wickedness and evil (5:4). He is opposed to sin, regardless of the form it takes. Therefore, he opposes all evildoers (5:5). We can have confidence that his judgment will fall on violent and treacherous people (5:6). David extols God’s separateness from evil and his hatred of sin because he wants to appeal to God’s righteousness to act on his behalf.

5:7 David praises God for his faithful love, his hesed—the Hebrew word for God’s loyal affection for those underneath his covenant. It was because of this love that David was able to enter the Lord’s presence to worship him. David recognizes the unique calling of God on his life and the mission he’d been given. The Lord had promised to give David a royal dynasty, through which the Messiah would come and reign forever (see 2 Sam 7:11-16). God’s covenantal loyalty drove David to worship.

5:8-10 David needed guidance to do the right thing, given the adversaries he was facing. He recognized that righteousness is found in God alone; therefore, he needed God to lead him so that he could operate in sync with what God viewed as right (5:8). In contrast, his foes were unrighteous. He describes their throats as an open grave. This means he found their words to be full of deceit with murderous intent. There was nothing reliable in what they said (5:9).

He calls on God to punish them because their rebellion against him was, ultimately, against God. David also prays that their own schemes would be used against them (5:10). Just as God would reverse the actions of Haman against God’s people and cause his wicked plot to fall on his own head (see Esth 3–8), David asks that the plots of his enemies would cause their own downfall because they were actually scheming against God.

5:11-12 David was confident that God would act on his behalf and on behalf of his people. He praises God for the blessings and protection he provides for those who love him. He urges God’s people to boast about him and to shout for joy as a way of expressing recognition of who God is, what he has done, and what he can be trusted to do (5:11). The one who experiences God’s favor will be surrounded by God like a shield (5:12). There is no safer place to be.

Psalm 6

6:1 David admits his guilt before God and asked for mercy. To receive mercy is to avoid getting the punishment that you deserve for your sin. In spite of his own, David asks that the Lord not discipline him in wrath. Like a son appealing to his father, he asks for relief from earned rebuke.

6:2-3 David had sinned, and his spiritual condition had physical and emotional repercussions. His bones and soul experienced anguish and terror (6:2-3). He asked the Lord how long his chastening would continue (6:3). But, notice that in his pain, David does not run from God; he runs to God. We, too, can go to God for mercy and understanding, even in the context of our sin and failure, because of his loyal love and our covenant relationship with him through Jesus Christ (see 1 John 1:5-9).

6:4-5 David pleads with God on the basis of his covenantal, faithful love (6:4). He asks that God rescue him before he descends to the grave (Sheol), for then it would be too late. In other words, he wants to be able to praise God for his deliverance so that people would see and know that he is a God who hears and delivers. In death, there would be no opportunity to do that (6:5).

6:6-7 David confesses his emotional turmoil. His groaning was continual, and his tears drenched his bed (6:6). He was engulfed in sorrow, eyes . . . swollen from grief, because of his sins, the actions of his enemies, and the possibility of an untimely death (6:7).

6:8-10 David declares his separation from all evildoers (6:8). He was confident that the Lord had heard his weeping and his plea for help; his prayer for mercy and deliverance had been accepted (6:8-9). Thus, he looks forward to how God would act on his behalf, turn back his enemies, and disgrace them for their deeds against God’s anointed one (6:10).

Psalm 7

David sang this psalm to the Lord concerning the words of Cush, a Benjaminite. The identity of Cush is unclear, but he was likely one of the men of King Saul (who was from the tribe of Benjamin) who hunted David when Saul felt threatened by him.

7:1-2 David prays to God to rescue him from his pursuers (7:1). Like a lion chasing its prey, his enemies (likely King Saul’s men) hunted him so that they might pounce and tear him apart (7:2).

7:3-5 David was willing to be chastised if he had done anything wrong. If there [was] injustice on [his] hands, he was willing for his enemy to overtake him and trample him (7:3, 5). This means David wants God to uphold his righteous standards—even if it meant that David himself was punished. In this way, David affirms his integrity. He was confident that he had acted uprightly. It was his enemies who were guilty.

7:6-8 David implores God to rise up like the righteous Judge he is, take [his] seat on the tribunal, and make things right (7:6-7). He wants God to vindicate him and judge him according to his integrity (7:8).

7:9-11 David affirms that God not only judges human actions but also examines the thoughts and emotions (7:9). Nothing escapes the omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipresent (everywhere-present) God. The evil of the wicked does not go unnoticed. He is aware of their deeds, and he shows his wrath every day (7:11).

Not all judgment, then, is reserved for the future. On a daily basis, God carries out judgment on the wicked though they don’t expect it. Moreover, as Paul tells us, we must “leave room for God’s wrath” (Rom 12:19). We are not to take vengeance into our own hands because God is our vindicator, our shield (7:10).

7:12-16 God is ready, like a warrior with sword . . . bow, and arrows to execute judgment on anyone who does not repent (7:12-13). He routinely causes the wicked schemes of man to result in their own downfall. For instance, the sinner who digs a pit for someone else falls into it himself; the evil one who concocts violence finds that it comes crashing on his own head (7:15-16). Therefore, we must pursue righteousness, or repent when we have failed, so that God can operate on our behalf and we can avoid such ends.

7:17 David thanks the Lord, knowing that he would do what is right, because of his righteousness. And, he sings about the name—that is, about the character and glory—of the Lord Most High. How can we not give voice to God’s praise?

Psalm 8

8:1-2 In the Bible, the name reflects the character and reputation of the person. Thus, to praise God’s name is to praise God. David considers the Lord’s name as the most magnificent in all the earth. It’s full of splendor because he has covered the heavens with his majesty (8:1). Infants and nursing babies—that is, those who are humble and dependent (8:2; see Matt 11:25; 18:1-4; 19:14)—are able to experience God’s name as a stronghold of protection from an enemy (8:2).

8:3-4 When David considers the billions of stars and galaxies, he stands in awe. This glorious masterpiece is nothing more than the work of God’s fingers, a divine painting set in place to be admired (8:3). Yet, the immensity of it causes David to realize just how small he and the rest of humanity are: what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him? (8:4). Modern man tends to be full of himself because God is so small in his eyes. But, when we see God as he truly is (massive!), we understand how truly miniscule we are.

8:5-8 Though man is small in light of who God is, nevertheless, the Creator made him only a little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor (8:5). This means that though you are reduced in size in comparison to God, you are increased in significance in relationship to him.

After Satan rebelled, God created Adam and Eve to have dominion over the earth. He made man ruler over the works of [his] hands and put everything under his feet (8:6) with the idea that humans would rule on God’s behalf. Through us he intended to establish a kingdom that would defeat Satan’s kingdom. And, though Adam and Eve and the rest of us fell into sin, God’s kingdom program outlined here was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the God-Man (see Heb 2:6-9). Jesus defeated Satan and provided redemption for humanity through his atoning death on the cross (see Heb 2:14-17). Ultimately, Christ will reign in his millennial kingdom, subjecting all creation to the kingdom of God (see 1 Cor 15:24-28) and vanquishing Satan once and for all (see Rev 20:1-3, 7-10). Until then, Christ’s followers are called to exercise authority on earth in his name and model his kingdom rule in obedience to his kingdom agenda (see Matt 28:19-20).

8:9 David concludes as he began. In light of who God is and the kingdom he is establishing, his name is to be praised as magnificent . . . throughout the earth.

Psalm 9

9:1-6 David thanks God with all [his] heart for all of his wondrous works. Regardless of his own power and fame, David chooses to boast in God alone (9:1-2). The reason for his praise was that the Lord had vindicated him and destroyed his enemies (9:3-5). This demonstrated both God’s righteousness in judgment (9:4) and his unrivaled power (9:5-6).

9:7-10 The Lord sits enthroned forever (9:7). He is the true, eternal King who rules over all. As a result, he executes judgment on the nations, acting with fairness on behalf of the oppressed and the afflicted (9:8-9). He is the champion of those who are persecuted, providing a secure refuge for those who seek him (9:9-10).

9:11-12 David exhorts those who are oppressed to praise the Lord and proclaim his deeds on their behalf, for God remembers his people. Therefore, his people should remember to glorify him for his deliverance.

9:13-14 He asks God to consider his enemies and to protect him from their murderous intentions (9:13). What is his motivation? So that I may declare all your praises. David wants to give verbal witness to God’s salvation so that all Jerusalem would hear and join him in worship (9:14).

9:15-18 David anticipates God’s destruction of the wicked (9:16). He will cause their malice to return on them like a boomerang. They’ll fall into the pit they made for others; they’ll be snared in the net they have concealed for the innocent (9:15). The Lord will simultaneously judge the wicked and deliver the oppressed (9:17-18); that’s a great promise!

9:19-20 Rise up, Lord! (9:19). David calls on God to strike fear in the hearts of the nations (9:19). Whatever power they thought they possessed, they needed a reminder of their own mortality. Therefore, he prays that God would remind them that they are only humans subject to the God who created them (9:20).

Psalm 10

10:1-11 Lord, why do you stand so far away? and Why do you hide in times of trouble? are questions that struggling believers have asked through the ages (10:1). Indeed, it does sometimes seem that the wicked are allowed to prosper and get away with cursing the Lord (10:2-3). All this seems to do is to convince evildoers that there’s no God and, therefore, no accountability (10:4). Thus, they are encouraged to continue in their wickedness, believing there will be no judgments rendered. He is secure in his ways (10:5). The evil man just continues to live as he pleases and to afflict the innocent (10:6-10). He reasons that God—if there is one—hides his face and will never see (10:11).

10:12-15 The psalmist urges God to act against wickedness: Rise up! (10:12). He wants God to uphold his glory and name by addressing the rampant wickedness around him. He knows that God is aware of the condition of the oppressed . . . the helpless, and the fatherless (10:12, 14). He longs for the divine Judge to break the arm of the wicked, evil person (10:15). The question is: When would God take action?

10:16-18 The psalmist concludes with triumphant praise for the Lord, the King. He looks by faith to the future, knowing that God alone will reign forever, while the nations will perish (10:16). Ultimately, the oppressed, the orphan, will be delivered from those who don’t follow God (10:17-18). He will eliminate those who cause terror (10:18).

Because we know God’s character and his past actions, we can have confidence that he will bring justice at the right time. This should encourage us to pray in faith. Even when we see nothing happening, we can be certain that God doesn’t miss a thing and has set the timer for when he will intervene.

Psalm 11

11:1-3 David confesses his confidence in God, who is his refuge, his ultimate place of safety. David rebukes the advice of the faint-hearted and the weak who suggest he should run from danger like a bird fleeing to the mountains to hide (11:1). Indeed, the wicked have their bows bent and arrows pointed, ready to bring down the upright in heart (11:2). When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The people were afraid that due to the proliferation of evil and lawlessness in society, the nation—its social order and institutions—might crumble (11:3). David viewed what was happening from an eternal, heavenly perspective and thus challenged the righteous not to be passive in the midst of a decaying culture; rather, they were to be influential and impactful as salt and light. This is a principle that we, too, should apply (see Matt 5:13-16).

11:4-6 [God’s] eyes watch; his gaze examines everyone (11:4). David’s eternal perspective is revealed. He knows that God is sovereign, ruling from heaven over the affairs of men. He sees the deeds done on earth, hates the wicked, and will punish them with burning coals and sulfur (11:5-6). A scorching judgment will fall on evildoers—in God’s appointed time.

11:7 In contrast to the fate of the wicked, the upright will see God’s face. Because he is righteous, the Lord loves those who perform righteous deeds. Those who follow him will ultimately experience his presence and enjoy his blessings.

Psalm 12

12:1-4 David expresses sorrow that the righteous appear to be extinct: The loyal have disappeared from the human race (12:1). Instead, they had been replaced by liars (12:2-4). The absence of the righteous had created a void that had been filled by corruption. Hypocrisy ruled the day. Thus, David appeals to God to address the problem: to cut off all flattering lips (12:3).

12:5 God vows to act—to help the needy and the poor. Final deliverance and justice will take place in his kingdom; nevertheless, there are moments in history when he brings his sovereignty to bear and rights wrongs committed on earth.

12:6-8 David confesses confidence in the perfection of God’s words. Like silver that has been refined in the fire, so the words of the living God are pure (12:6). He is faithful to keep his promises and to preserve those he loves from those who bring harm by deceptive words (12:7). God’s Word will overrule the deeds of the wicked. Though humanity often exalts the worthless (12:8), the Lord will prevail.

Psalm 13

13:1-2 David feels forsaken by God and wrestles with thoughts of abandonment. Four times in the first two verses he asks, How long. He longed for God to intervene. It appeared that God was allowing David’s enemy to dominate him (13:2). This is a common human experience. When we encounter trying circumstances during an extended period, we can feel abandoned by God and assume that evil is winning.

13:3-4 David calls on God to answer and deliver him (13:3). As powerful as David was, as mighty as his army, he realizes that defeat is certain without God’s intervention. Do you see things similarly? Do you recognize that your spiritual defeat is certain without the aid of God’s strengthening hand?

13:5-6 David has confidence in the Lord’s faithful love—his commitment to his covenant, to his people, and to his king. Regardless of the actions of his enemy, then, David is determined to rejoice over the deliverance that he knew God would provide (13:5). Likewise, we should live with expectation in the goodness of God as we wait for him to move in our own situations. He has treated us generously in the past. Let us sing and put our hope in him (13:6).

Psalm 14

14:1-3 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” The “fool” in view here is a person who lives life without regard for God. Either he disbelieves in the existence of God or is convinced that he is not accountable to God for his actions. Day after day, the idea of divine justice is far from his mind. Therefore, his lifestyle is corrupt (14:1). There were so many such people around in his day that David pictures God looking down from heaven on the human race and finding no one who sought God or lived in wisdom (14:2). There is no one who does good, not even one (14:3). Indeed, the entire human race has been corrupted by sin.

These first three verses are quoted by Paul in Romans 3:10-12 when he makes his case for the sinfulness of humanity. Elsewhere he says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”; therefore, our only hope is the grace of God and “the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:23-24).

14:4-6 Will evildoers never understand? (14:4). David is amazed that the wicked think they can devour God’s people and not experience consequences. They are unaware that God will overwhelm them. They don’t realize that God is with those who are righteous (14:5), and to attack God’s people is to attack him. Though, for a time, sinners frustrate the plans of the oppressed, they will not prevail. For the righteous take refuge in God (14:6). He will vindicate them. So, take heart, you who follow the Lord. He keeps track of injustices, and he will bring about your deliverance at the right time.

14:7 David longs for the day of Israel’s deliverance, the day when God would restore the fortunes of his people. Ultimately, this will take place when Jesus Christ rules from David’s throne in his millennial kingdom. On that day, God will establish justice and joy universally and comprehensively. In the meantime, God’s people are to model his rule in a sinful world.

Psalm 15

15:1-5 David raises very relevant questions: Lord, who can dwell in your tent? Who can live on your holy mountain? What are the qualifications for the worship of the true God in his dwelling place? The answer is the one who is aligned with God—the one who lives blamelessly, practices righteousness, and acknowledges the truth (15:1-2). One cannot merely profess to love God, but also must actually walk before him in integrity (15:2-3). In other words, to have access to God, one’s life must reflect devotion to the two great commandments: love for God and love for people (see Mark 12:28-31).

The righteous one cares for his neighbor and despises those who do evil (15:3-4). He honors those who fear God—those who take God seriously. He keeps his word whatever the cost (15:4). No matter what personal harm may come to him, he holds true to his commitments. He does not seek to prosper by ripping off others, nor can he be bribed. Such a person will never be shaken (15:5). Because he aligns himself with God, he will have a stable life because God will oversee it.

Psalm 16

16:1-2 In this passage, David uses three different Hebrew names for God (Elohim, Yahweh, and Adonai) to appeal to God’s sovereignty for protection, because he took refuge in him (16:1).

I have nothing good besides you (16:2). Can you make this same declaration? Is God your ultimate joy and treasure? Believers need to understand that we only have one source: God. Everything else is a resource. David understood this, especially during difficult times.

16:3-4 David’s delight in God (16:2) expands to delight in what God cares about—his holy people (16:3). Those who are important to God were important to David. Those who take another god for themselves experience nothing but sorrows (16:4). Not only does idolatry rob God of his glory, but it also brings inevitable grief to those who practice it. An idol is any person, place, thing, or thought that you look to as your source instead of God.

16:5-6 The Levites were the only Israelite tribe that received no portion in the promised land. Instead, because they received the privilege of serving God in the tabernacle / temple, the Lord himself was to be their inheritance (see Num 18:20; Josh 18:7). Likewise, in spite of all that he had received from God, David sees the Lord himself as his portion (16:5). Thus, his boundary lines had fallen in pleasant places. In other words, he had great joy in knowing that God—not his possessions—was his true inheritance (16:6). Whatever material blessings the Lord grants are not your inheritance either. They are merely bonuses.

16:7-8 David is grateful to take refuge in God’s presence. The Lord counsels, instructs, and guides him because David was near him (16:7-8). Similarly, Christians are called to remain in Christ (see John 15:1-8). By doing so, we experience stability in an uncertain life and bear fruit. The greater life’s challenges, in fact, the more believers should strive to remain in God’s presence.

16:9-10 David is confident that the Lord would not abandon him to Sheol (the grave) or let him decay (16:10). If this was the case for King David, how much more is it true of the great Son of David, Jesus Christ? Both Peter and Paul applied this passage to the Messiah, whom God raised from the dead (see Acts 2:24-28; 13:35).

16:11 In your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures. Both in history and in eternity, there is unfathomable joy in God’s presence. No challenge can overshadow this truth. Thus, believers must make living in God’s presence and anticipating an eternal future with him a way of life.

Psalm 17

17:1-5 David petitions God to hear and respond to his prayer for vindication, for his lips were free of deceit (17:1-2). In other words, he had no unaddressed sin in his life that would block God’s answers to prayer. David had submitted to divine discipline. God had tested and examined him (17:3). Therefore, David is confident that no remnant of sin could hinder God from answering his prayer. This man knew his steps followed God’s paths (17:5).

17:6-12 David longs for God to reveal his faithful love to him and show himself to be the true Savior of all who seek refuge in him (17:6-7). The Lord’s protection of his people is described in beautiful imagery: Protect me as the pupil of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings (17:8). As one is zealous to shield his own eye from danger, so God shelters his servants. As a mother bird lovingly protects her chicks, so the Lord overshadows his own. David’s violent enemies surrounded him (17:9-12), so he wisely sought God’s covering.

17:13-15 Though the wicked continued to reap benefits in the world (17:14), David is confident in God. Though the judgment on evildoers might be delayed, it would come. In the meantime, David chooses to find his ultimate satisfaction in the presence of his God (17:15).

Psalm 18

David wrote Psalm 18 to express his gratitude to God for delivering him from the grasp of all his enemies, including King Saul. This psalm is also found in 2 Samuel 22.

18:1-3 As the king of Israel, divinely installed on the throne, David had a legal relationship with God. But, the relationship was also one of love: I love you, Lord, my strength (18:1). And because the love was reciprocated, David is confident in God as his source of deliverance and salvation (18:2).

18:4-6 David describes his situation as equivalent to that of an animal in a trap, entangled in the snares of death (18:5). Apart from divine intervention, he is doomed. So, he called to the Lord for help. And God heard (18:6). Sometimes, we can be wrapped up by our negative circumstances and surrounded by hopelessness, but this state simply gives God the unique opportunity to demonstrate that he alone is God—the only solution to our problems. We need only to ask for his aid.

18:7-15 These verses provide a poetic description of God’s response to David’s plea. The imagery is vivid and powerful: the earth shook . . . Smoke rose from [God’s] nostrils . . . The Lord thundered from heaven . . . he hurled lightning bolts. As a result of David’s cry for divine assistance, the Lord responded via creation. It was as if nature itself erupted on his behalf to bring salvation.

18:16-19 Because David and God shared an intimate relationship, God delighted in him and orchestrated a massive intervention to deliver David from his powerful enemy (18:17-19). Too many believers don’t experience close fellowship with God. As a result of the distance, they don’t get to see God work on their behalf in a dramatic way.

18:20-24 God rewarded David according to [his] righteousness (18:20, 24). Our faithfulness and obedience to God brings reward, including victory over our circumstances. Never underestimate the blessings that result from living blameless toward God (18:23).

18:25-29 God is faithful . . . blameless, and pure with those who deal the same way with him (18:25-26). He rewards obedience. Conversely, he is shrewd and humbles those who are crooked and haughty (18:26-27). He is just. David knew that with God on his side, he could defeat an enemy and advance against any opposition (18:29). Such should be our mindset, as well.

18:30-45 David rejoices in God’s character. He is perfect in all his ways. Therefore, his people can trust him to be their shield and defender (18:30). David then explains how God equipped, enabled, and strengthened him to battle and be victorious over his enemies (18:32-45). David cried for help; the Lord heard and saved. Though David’s enemies cry for help . . . there is no one to save them (18:41).

18:46-50 David praises God for delivering him from his enemies—proof that he was the living God and not a lifeless idol. As his rock (18:46), God was David’s source of security and safety. Remembering his covenant with David to give him a royal dynasty (see 2 Sam 7:11-16), God showed loyalty to his anointed king and to his descendants (18:50); this blessing would even affect the Gentiles.

Psalm 19

19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands. Divine revelation takes two forms: general revelation and special revelation. Special revelation consists of the written and living Word of God. In it, God reveals in detail who he is, what he has done, and what he requires of us. Only through the special revelation of Scripture can we know the gospel of Jesus Christ.

General revelation, on the other hand, consists of that which all people everywhere can know about God, even if they have no access to Scripture. For instance, our moral conscience lets us know that we are accountable to our Creator (see Rom 2:14-16). Similarly, creation itself testifies to the existence of the one who made all things for his own glory (see Rom 1:19-21). The heavens “declare” God’s glory by confirming that an omnipotent deity exists and has made things that are marvelous in scale and complexity.

19:2-6 God’s works of creation pour out speech every day (19:2). Their message goes out to the ends of the world (19:4). As David says in Psalm 14:1, only the fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” His existence is inextricably clear from the world he has made. The sun serves as a supreme example (19:4) of this truth as it rises from one end of the heavens and circles to their other end. This masterpiece dominates the skies for all to see. Nothing is hidden from its heat (19:6). Without the sun, in fact, we would cease to exist; thus, it cannot be hanging in the heavens by chance. The Creator is greater than his creation. Atheistic evolution, then, is the worldview of a fool. Every watch demands a watchmaker.

19:7-10 After opening with the idea of general revelation, David moves to the topic of special revelation: the Word of God as recorded in Scripture. He makes declarations about the sufficiency of Scripture to address every aspect of life.

First, the instruction of the Lord is perfect, renewing one’s life. Perfect means “whole” or “complete.” In other words, Scripture lacks nothing. Everything you need to know to be what God expects you to be has been revealed in his Word. It can renew you and provide you with abundant life. Second, the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise (19:7). The Bible is reliable. You can bank on it. Those without experience, the simple and foolish, can be trained how to be discerning and can be enabled to make good and wise choices that reflect a divine perspective from reading and trusting it.

Third, the precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad. The divine principles of the Bible lead a person down the right path. They point out the road we ought to take and promise us blessing for taking it. Fourth, the command of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up (19:8). In other words, the commandments of God are eye-opening. They illuminate dark situations so that we know how to proceed.

Fifth, the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. God reveals himself without contamination or flaw. His Word is unchanging and always relevant. Sixth, the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous (19:9). “Ordinances” are judgments or verdicts delivered from a judge’s bench. We can be assured that anything that comes from the supreme Judge of the earth is righteous and true.

Seventh, they are more desirable than gold. The Bible is more precious than your paycheck. It’s more valuable than anything the world has to offer because it can provide what the world doesn’t have. It’s sweeter than honey (19:10). You don’t comprehend the sweetness of God’s Word by merely reading it, however. You must experience it: “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (34:8).

19:11-14 The words of Scripture warn us of danger and promise us reward for keeping them (19:11). So, whether our problem is hidden faults (those no one but God sees) or willful sins (wrongs that we actually plan to do), the Bible can tell us how to be cleansed (19:12-13). The Word of God is sufficient for helping us to make both our external words and our internal meditation . . . acceptable before God (19:14).

Psalm 20

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.

Psalm 21

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).

Psalm 22

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).

Psalm 23

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.

Psalm 24

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.

Psalm 25

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.

Psalm 26

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.

Psalm 27

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.

Psalm 28

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.

Psalm 29

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.

Psalm 30

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).

Psalm 31

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.

Psalm 32

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.

Psalm 33

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).

Psalm 34

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.

Psalm 35

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.

Psalm 36

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).

Psalm 37

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).

Psalm 38

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.

Psalm 39

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.

Psalm 40

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.

Psalm 41

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.