V. Book V (Psalms Psalms 107–150)
V. Book V (Psalms 107–150)
107:1-3 This psalm exhorts God’s people to give thanks to him for his gracious act of redeeming his people from Babylonian exile and gathering them back in the land. That re-gathering was only partial, however. It will be permanently fulfilled in Messiah’s millennial kingdom reign.
107:4-9 The psalmist recalls how God cared for his people in the wilderness when they cried out to him (107:4-6). He rescued them and led them (107:6-7). Thus, the psalmist calls the people of God to thank him for his faithful love—the love he expresses toward those in covenant with him (107:8). Such knowledge should cause God’s people today to praise him and look to him for deliverance in their own times of trouble.
107:10-16 Next, the psalmist recalls the Babylonian captivity when God’s people were carried off to darkness and hard labor as a result of their rebellion (107:10-12). Yet, in their desperation, when they cried out to God, he rescued them from their gloom and chains (107:13-14). Again, the psalmist urges the people to thank God for his faithful love (107:15).
107:17-22 They suffered because of their foolish rebellion (107:17). They refused to obey God and came near to death (107:18). As before, though, he delivered them from their distress when they called on him (107:19). The psalmist again offers his repeated refrain: Let them give thanks to the Lord for his faithful love and his wondrous works for all humanity (107:21). Clearly, the psalmist has no interest in declaring the virtue of rebellious sinners, but rather in proclaiming the grace and mercy of the covenant-keeping God.
107:23-32 The psalmist continues with praise to God for his sovereign rule over nature. When those on ships encountered the ferocity of stormy wind and waves, they cried out to him, and he stilled the storm (107:23-29) and took them where they needed to go. What should people do in light of such glorious deeds? By now, the reader of the psalm knows that they should give thanks to God for his faithful love and exalt him (107:31-32). When God delivers us from the overwhelming circumstances of life, we should respond with great praise.
107:33-43 The Lord’s power over creation results in wasteland becoming fruitful (107:34). Thirsty ground is satisfied so that hungry people can be satisfied (107:33, 36). When his people are oppressed, God pours contempt on their oppressors, cares for the needy, and ends injustice (107:39-42). Whether the opposition is nature or humanity, nothing stands in the way of the sovereign God. Therefore, the wise should pay attention. Nothing is more valuable in life that the Lord’s faithful love (107:43). Nothing is wiser than aligning yourself with it.
108:1-6 David expresses his confidence in God, praising him for his faithful love and faithfulness (108:1-4). He desires to see God exalted and to see him save his people (108:5-6). Thus, he worships God for what he has done in the past and for what he hopes he would do in the future.
108:7-13 God answers, declaring his ownership of the territories of Israel (108:7-8) and his power over Israel’s enemies (108:9). Yet, David knew that he needed leadership and help. Unless the Lord accompanied David’s armies, there was no hope; human help is worthless (108:11-12). Without God, we are impotent to achieve anything. With God we will perform valiantly (108:13).
109:1-5 David pleads with God to act (109:1). He is under attack by wicked people without cause; though he has demonstrated love toward them, they lie and accuse him (109:2-4). They repay [him] evil for good (109:5). Yet, though he could have given up in despair, he vows that he would continue to pray in spite of his pain (109:4).
109:6-15 David requests divine retribution against the one who unjustly persecutes him. He does not seek vengeance himself, but rather calls for divine vengeance. He trusts in the one who declares, “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay” (Deut 32:35). He asks that God would ignore the prayer of this wicked person (109:6-7), take him away from his family (109:9), confiscate his property (109:11), and grant him no descendants (109:13).
109:16-20 David did not ask God to do this merely for his own sake, but because the wicked man lived and acted contrary to God’s righteous character. He did not love kindness but persecuted the needy (109:16). He loved cursing and hated blessing (109:17). Therefore, he prayed God would bring the man’s cursing upon himself (109:18-19).
109:21-29 David appeals to God’s faithful love and asks him to deal kindly with him and help him (109:21, 26). He is suffering, wounded . . . weak, and an object of ridicule (109:22-25). In spite of that, he is confident that God could overturn the actions of the wicked. Though people curse, God can bless (109:28). And David wants his enemies to know that his deliverance is from the hand of God, so that he would receive the glory (109:27).
109:30-31 David concludes with public thanks and praise to the Lord (109:30). He is confident of God’s character; therefore, he anticipates God’s intervention. The God who helps the needy (109:31) would help David in time of need—and he will do the same for us.
110:1 David describes a conversation that he was permitted to hear. The Lord (Yahweh) spoke to David’s Lord—that is, to the Messiah. Thus, David overhears God the Father speaking to God the Son, telling him, Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool. To sit at the right hand of a king was a position of privilege and authority. The Father vows to put all of the Son’s enemies under his feet. This is an indicator that the promise spoken in the beginning, in which the seed of the woman would vanquish the serpent—“he will strike your head”—will be fulfilled (see Gen 3:15).
Jesus himself claimed that this verse spoke of the Messiah and proved that the Messiah was David’s Lord, not merely his descendant (see Matt 22:41-46). The New Testament authors clearly see this verse fulfilled in Jesus, applying it to him numerous times (e.g., Acts 2:34-35; 1 Cor 15:25; Eph 1:20; Heb 1:13). Upon his resurrection and ascension, the Son took his seat at the right hand of God the Father.
110:2-3 God vows to grant his Messiah to rule over his enemies in his millennial kingdom (110:2). The Messiah’s people will join him in battle against the wicked (110:3), and these believers will share in his righteous rule.
110:4 Not only would the Messiah be a mighty King, but God the Father also vows that the Messiah would be a priest . . . according to the pattern of Melchizedek. Just as Melchizedek was both a king and a priest (see Gen 14:18), so the Messiah would occupy both offices.
Moreover, Melchizedek blessed Abraham, and Abraham paid a tithe to Melchizedek (see Gen 14:19-20). According to the author of Hebrews, this shows that Melchizedek’s priesthood is superior to the priesthood of the Levites who would descend from Abraham (see Heb 7:1-10). Thus, Jesus—a priest “according to the pattern of Melchizedek”—is superior to the Levitical priests. He has offered a perfect sacrifice to atone for sin, and he lives forever to intercede for us by virtue of his resurrection.
110:5-7 This psalm anticipates the victorious rule of the Messiah with his saints, when he establishes his kingdom on earth. The Messiah will be completely victorious over those who oppose him. He will crush kings and judge the nations (110:5-6). God the Father has granted universal dominion to the one whom he has designated as the messianic Priest-King: the Lord Jesus Christ.
111:1-9 To declare hallelujah is to bestow boasting and honor on the Lord. The psalmist praises God publicly and wholeheartedly (not merely externally or ritualistically) (111:1). God’s mighty works are splendid and majestic—they are even worthy of being studied for both their power and purpose (111:2-3). The psalmist recounts God’s wondrous works among his covenant members, including providing for them, giving them the inheritance of the nations, and redeeming them (111:4-9). The Lord is holy and awe-inspiring (111:9). He’s in a class by himself.
111:10 In light of the glory of God, the psalmist concludes by describing the disposition that should characterize all true worshipers: the fear of the Lord. To take God seriously is the foundation of wisdom. To be wise is to have a clear understanding of how to obey God’s commands in specific situations. Exercising such wisdom leads us to experience God at a deeper level, which should lead to even more praise.
112:1-6 The psalmist describes the person who fears the Lord. Such a person is not all talk; rather, he takes delight in [God’s] commands (112:1). He knows that fearing God is about how you live and not merely what you say. The psalmist also recounts the blessings available to those who fear the Lord and describes their godly character (112:2-4). As a result, they will experience goodness and be unshakeable (112:5-6).
112:7-10 The one who fears God will not fear circumstances or people because his heart is confident, trusting in the Lord (112:7-8). He cares for the poor, and God cares for him (112:9). The wicked one, on the other hand, sees the activity of those who fear God and is driven to rage. Nevertheless, such rage is impotent; his desire . . . leads to ruin (112:10). Thus, we are reminded that, ultimately, the righteous will prosper and the wicked will perish (see Ps 1).
Psalms 113–118 are known as the Hallel Psalms (hallel is the Hebrew word for “praise”). These were sung by Jews celebrating the Passover.
113:1-4 Give praise . . . praise the name of the Lord . . . let the name of the Lord be praised (113:1-3). This threefold call is a reminder of the obligation his people have to continually extol God’s greatness. It’s natural to praise that which is worthy of praise. People do it all the time in everyday life. So, how much more natural should it be for those who know the God who saves, the God whose glory is above the heavens, to offer him such (113:4)?
113:5-9 The Lord is enthroned on high (113:5). He is transcendent, yet he is also intimately involved with his creation. He stoops down and raises the poor from the dust (113:6-7). Those whom society considers as nobodies, then, God lifts up to sit with the somebodies (113:8). He gives children to those who are barren, turning mourning to joy (113:9). All this and more should lead God’s people to praise him “from the rising of the sun to its setting” (113:3).
114:1-2 This psalm celebrates the deliverance God gave his people from Egypt (114:1). He made Judah his sanctuary and Israel his dominion (114:2)—that is, he became the nation’s King and ruled from his temple in Zion (Jerusalem).
114:3-8 The parts of creation are spoken of as if they were alive. The sea and the mountains retreated from the Lord when he came to rescue his people (11:4-6), highlighting his sovereignty over everything. The earth was wise enough to tremble . . . at the presence of the God of Jacob, who even brought a drinking pool from the rock (114:7-8). How can weak and sinful humans do otherwise? A holy dread and awe of our Creator should be the response of those who know the awesome might of God.
115:1 Believers who have a correct perception of God and a correct perception of themselves know that God alone deserves glory, not us. This is because he is the source of faithful love (the kindness he provides to those under his covenant covering) and truth (the absolute standard by which reality is measured).
115:2-3 The nations in the ancient world had idols, visual representations of the gods they worshiped. Thus, when they looked at Israel—for whom idolatry was forbidden (see Exod 20:4-5)—they asked, Where is their God? (115:2). The psalmist answered: Our God is in heaven and does whatever he pleases (115:3). In other words, the Lord is not a finite idol, but rather a limitless, transcendent God with the sovereign power to accomplish his will.
115:4-8 The Lord is not like idols made of silver and gold (115:4). They are impotent—unable to speak . . . see . . . smell . . . feel . . . walk (115:5-7). Thus, no matter how much you plead with them, they are unable to deliver you. Moreover, those who make them are just like them (115:8). You become like that which you worship—a sobering reality. So, be sure you worship the one true God.
115:9-15 The psalmist issues a clarion call to God’s people to trust in the Lord (115:9-11). All forms of idolatry are to be rejected. Trusting him alone is the only way to access the blessings that he—the Maker of heaven and earth—is able to provide (115:12-13, 15).
115:16-18 God has given the earth for the benefit of the human race (115:16). So, what is it that humankind is to do while we live on it? Praise the Lord (115:17). This is not something for the dead to do. Here the psalmist is not denying life after death. He is simply saying that submitting to God in praise, faith, and obedience is something we are called to do now. We cannot wait until later. After death, it is too late to make this decision. Only if we bless God now will we be able to bless him forever (115:18).
116:1-4 The psalmist expresses his love for God because he listened to and responded to his prayer (116:1-2). This increases his commitment to call on the Lord for the rest of his life (116:2). His circumstances weren’t inconsequential. The psalmist faces dire, life-threatening trouble and sorrow (116:3). In that context, he appeals to God to save his life (116:4). Prayer is an acknowledgment of our desperate need for God. It is a request for heaven to intervene in history.
116:5-11 He praises God for his grace, righteousness, and compassion. Notice, though, the corporate dimension of his worship. He points out that he is our God (116:5), belonging to all of his people. The psalmist then offers testimony of his experience with God in order to encourage the congregation. Though he had been brought low by his difficulties, the Lord had saved him (116:6). Therefore, he confidently says, I will walk before Lord (116:9). Though his enemies lied to him (116:11), he knew that the battle was not over and that God would have the last word.
116:12-14 In light of the Lord’s goodness to him, the psalmist contemplates what he could give back to God (116:12). He mentions two things. First, he would take the cup of salvation (his blessings and deliverance) that God had graciously given him and call on his name (116:13). In other words, he would continue to worship and depend on the God who saves. Why would we turn anywhere but to the one who has proven that he can deliver? Second, he would fulfill [his] vows to the Lord (116:14). Obedience is the only appropriate response when God has come through for us.
116:15-19 The death of [God’s] faithful ones is supremely valuable in [his] sight (116:15). He finds great pleasure and joy in fellowship with his children, who go to be with him eternally at death because of their personal relationship with him. Knowing this, the psalmist pledges to continue praising and serving the Lord publicly (116:17-18) so that God’s people would be encouraged to do the same.
This is the shortest of all the Psalms.
117:1-2 All nations and all peoples are called to glorify and praise God (117:1). Though the psalmist was a member of the people of Israel, he recognizes that the God of Israel was the God of the nations. The God who entered into covenant with Israel and demonstrated his faithful love to them (117:2) is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He calls everyone everywhere to come to him in worship.
Paul quotes 117:1 in Romans 15:11, emphasizing the truth that, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Gentiles can glorify God for his mercy (see Rom 15:7-11). Because of the gospel, Jews and Gentiles are able to come together to worship God for his great salvation.
118:1-4 The psalmist calls on Israel (all God’s people), the house of Aaron (all the priests), and those who fear the Lord (all who take him seriously) to give thanks to him. Why? Because his faithful love endures forever. Notice the repetition. The biblical writers weren’t able to emphasize important truths with bold typeface or italics like we do today; instead, they used repetition for emphasis. If there’s one thing the psalmist wanted us to know, it is this: For those who come under God’s cov-enant covering, his loyal, covenantal love lasts forever. It doesn’t get any better than that.
118:5-9 When the psalmist was in distress, God delivered him (118:5). If you have access to this kind of divine aid, what is there to be afraid of? What can a mere mortal do to us (118:6)? Or, as the apostle Paul puts it, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom 8:31). When God is your helper, those who hate you do not have ultimate power over you (118:7). So, with the psalmist, let us not trust in humanity but take refuge in God (118:8-9).
118:10-14 Though the psalmist was surrounded by enemies, outnumbered and outmatched, he destroyed them (118:10-12). Yet, this was not because of his strength or strategy. Rather, the Lord was his strength and helped him (118:13-14). Victory is found only in God—as the quote from the victory song of God’s deliverance at the Red Sea also highlights (118:14; see Exod 15:2).
118:15-21 How does the psalmist respond to God’s deliverance? He responds with joy and praise (118:15-16). Because the Lord had preserved his life, the psalmist confesses, I will live and proclaim what the Lord has done (118:17). He wants to enter the gates of the temple and publicly give thanks to God for his salvation (118:19-21).
How do you respond to answered prayer? Do you give vocal acknowledgement to God and glorify him so that others may be encouraged to trust him? Or, do you take his blessings and provision for granted?
118:22-26 The psalmist uses a building metaphor to teach an important truth. The builders rejected a stone that God had selected. In his sovereign providence, he ensured that this particular stone would become the cornerstone (118:22) of a figurative building of his design; it would be the stone on which everything else would be aligned. This imagery is fulfilled in Jesus Christ (see Luke 20:17). He is the Messiah sent by God to his people. He is the blessed one who comes in the name of the Lord (118:26; see Matt 21:9). But, Israel’s religious leaders rejected him and had him put to death. Nonetheless, God vindicated him, raising him from the dead to be the Lord of all. Those with eyes of faith recognize this as wondrous (118:23).
118:27-29 The psalmist concludes as he began (see 118:1-4). He gives thanks and exalts God for the faithful love that he expresses toward his people (118:28-29). Not only is such divine, covenant-based love exactly what we need, but it also endures forever (118:29).
Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Psalter (and the longest in the Bible), is an acrostic psalm. Each of its twenty-two stanzas is introduced by a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet, presented in sequence. Each letter is indicated at the beginning of the paragraphs below. The entire psalm is an appreciation for, celebration of, and dependency on the Word of God to enable us to properly negotiate the twists and turns of life.
119:1-8 Aleph. The blessings of God’s word. The Hebrew word translated here as happy (119:1-2) can also mean “blessed.” Those who walk—that is, live their lives—according to God’s Word are blessed (and happy!). This is the same truth affirmed at the beginning of the Psalter (see 1:1-2). This is why God has commanded that his people diligently keep his precepts (119:4). Doing so brings pleasure. Moreover, the one who keeps his statutes will not be ashamed, but rather have an upright heart that brings forth praise (119:5-7).
119:9-16 Beth. The protection from God’s word. Following God’s word provides safety. This principle is especially critical for those who are young—those who are learning to resist temptation and keep [their] way pure (119:9). By treasuring the principles of Scripture in our hearts, we train ourselves to love God’s ways. Then, when we are confronted by temptation, we are prepared to reject sin (119:10-11). If we embrace God’s word with our hearts, we will rejoice in it more than in all riches (119:14).
119:17-24 Gimel. The comfort of God’s word. The psalmist requests God’s favor—that God would deal generously with him and open [his] eyes to give him understanding from [his] instruction (119:17-18). He needs comfort in the midst of difficult circumstances because arrogant men had insulted him and spoken against him (119:21-23). Nevertheless, he is committed to observing God’s decrees, which he considers his counselors (119:24). There is no better teaching and counseling for life.
119:25-32 Daleth. The strength of God’s word. The psalmist prays to be revived and strengthened by the word. [His] life is down in the dust, and he is weary from grief (119:25, 28). The instruction of Scripture, however, enables him to avoid the allure of sin and the way of deceit (119:29). Therefore, he does not merely read God’s decrees—he clings to them (119:31).
119:33-40 He. The commitment to God’s word. He expresses his total dedication to the Lord’s statutes . . . I will always keep them (119:33). He asks that God would bless such a commitment by turning his heart from dishonest profit and his eyes from what is worthless (119:36-37). He desires a life of value, not one of disgrace (119:39). Devotion to the word can provide such a life.
119:41-48 Waw. The instruction of God’s word. Given the covenant relationship that he shares with God, the psalmist asks for his faithful love, so that he might be delivered from those who taunt him (119:41-42). As a result, he vows to always obey [his] instruction and declare it openly and without shame to those in powerful seats of authority (119:44, 46).
119:49-56 Zayin. The hope from God’s word. In spite of the affliction and ridicule he was experiencing, the psalmist had received hope through God’s word (119:49-51). This gave him tremendous comfort and freedom (11:50), which further motivated him to obey [God’s] precepts (119:52, 56). Biblical hope is not mere wishful thinking. It is a confident expectation about the future based on the character of God and his promises.
119:57-64 Cheth. The obedience to God’s word. The psalmist was surrounded by wickedness, as if ropes were wrapped around him (119:61). Nevertheless, he was committed to keeping the Lord’s words and commands (119:57, 60). Obedience was a priority. His gratefulness for Scripture was so profound that he woke at midnight to thank God for it (119:62). Whom did the psalmist befriend? All who fear God and keep his precepts (119:63).
119:65-72 Teth. The discipline of God’s word. The word of God disciplined the psalmist. Previously, he had been afflicted and went astray into sin (119:67), but the word corrected him and taught him discernment so that he could clearly distinguish between right and wrong (119:66). He recognizes this as good treatment from the Lord (119:65, 68), “for the Lord disciplines the one he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights” (Prov 3:12). It is good when we are afflicted by God so that we can learn [his] statutes (119:71).
119:73-80 Yod. The trust in God’s word. The hands of God formed the psalmist. Therefore, he trusts his Maker’s word. He desires understanding so that he could learn [God’s] commands, and he desires compassion so that God’s instruction would be his delight (119:73, 77). The psalmist trusts God to bring shame on the arrogant and, simultaneously, to keep him from shame through a heart that was blameless regarding [God’s] statutes (119:78, 80).
119:81-88 Kaph. The faithfulness of God’s word. The psalmist was experiencing weakness and distress because of his persecutors (119:81-84). He wonders how long he would have to wait for deliverance and vindication (119:84). Nevertheless, he knows the Lord’s commands are faithful and true and that he would act in accordance with [his] faithful love (119:86-88). Therefore, the psalmist would obey [God’s] decree (119:88) while waiting on God to work.
119:89-96 Lamed. The security of God’s word. God’s word is forever and firmly fixed in heaven (119:89). It will never change and remains relevant to all people in every culture throughout history. The foundation of the word’s faithfulness is God’s faithfulness; his creation and judgments are firm (119:90-91). The psalmist knows that he has security through God’s precepts, so he determines to never forget them (119:93).
119:97-104 Mem. The preciousness of God’s word. To the psalmist, the Lord’s instruction is not merely something to read but to love (119:97). By devouring God’s commands, he has become wiser (i.e., he had more insight for right living and decision-making) than his enemies . . . teachers, and elders (119:98-100). Thus, the word was sweet to him—sweeter than honey—and led him to walk in purity (119:103-104).
119:105-112 Nun. The illumination of God’s word. The word is a source of light to guide the believer through life. It’s a lamp directing our feet in a dark world (119:105). When the psalmist’s life [was] constantly in danger, God’s instruction provided illumination (119:109), helping him to see his circumstances from God’s perspective. He was resolved to obey [the Lord’s] statutes (119:112) so that he could live without stumbling.
119:113-120 Samek. The reverence for God’s word. The psalmist hates those who are double-minded when it came to God’s instruction (119:113). His devotion to Scripture is not half-hearted; rather, his entire hope is in the word (119:114). The psalmist is aware of what happens to those who stray from [God’s] statutes: God rejects them and removes them from the earth (119:118-119). Therefore, with deep reverence for the Lord’s word, the psalmist confesses, I tremble in awe of you (119:120).
119:121-128 Ayin. The value of God’s word. The psalmist was looking to God for deliverance from his oppressors (119:121), those who had violated [God’s] instruction (119:126). Unlike them, he follows all the precepts of Scripture and hates deceit (119:28). He perceives the richness and value of God’s word. He loves the Lord’s commands more than . . . the purest gold (119:127). Indeed, nothing is of greater worth.
119:129-136 Pe. The wonder of God’s word. The decrees of God are wondrous because they give light and understanding (119:129-130). This is why the psalmist prays that God would be gracious to [him] and establish his steps, so that he would keep his word and not let any sin dominate [him] (119:132-133). He wants to experience the wonder of God’s shining face—that is, his presence—so that he could learn his statutes (119:135). He loves the instruction of the Lord so much that he sobbed when others disobeyed it (119:136), a fact that should prompt us to ask how we respond to the world’s rejection of God’s word.
119:137-144 Tsade. The righteousness of God’s word. The Lord is righteous; he is the standard of what is right. Therefore, his judgments are just, and his decrees are righteous (119:137, 144). If you want to live a life that is pure (see 119:9), then, you need the purity of God’s word. Though the standards of this sinful world are constantly in flux, [God’s] righteousness is an everlasting righteousness (119:142).
119:145-152 Qoph. The truthfulness of God’s word. Because the psalmist knows that all [God’s] commands are true, he knows that they are established and can never fail (119:151-152). Therefore, he wants the God of such words to intervene on his behalf. Evildoers were near, and he needed the Lord to help and save him (119:146-147, 150). The psalmist continuously finds his hope in [God’s] word (119:147).
119:153-160 Resh. The deliverance of God’s word. In spite of his affliction, the psalmist has not forgotten the Lord’s instruction (119:153). In fact, he confessed, I love your precepts (119:159). That’s why he had confidence that God would deliver him from his troubles. He knows that the wicked who reject God’s statutes do not experience deliverance because salvation is far from them (119:155). Deliverance comes to those who hope in God and in his word.
119:161-168 Sin / Shin. The joy of God’s word. The promises of Scripture are to the psalmist like a vast treasure that made him rejoice (119:162). Because of his love for God’s instruction, he praises him seven times a day (119:164). In the Bible, seven is the number of perfection or completion. So, in other words, praise is continually on the psalmist’s lips. There is great joy in loving and keeping the word of God. Those who do so experience abundant peace and nothing makes them stumble (119:165).
119:169-176 Taw. The praise for God’s word. The psalmist concludes with a plea for God to rescue him from his enemies (119:169-170, 173). What does the follower of God do when he needs help in the midst of trouble? His lips pour out praise and his tongue sings (119:171-172). The psalmist longs for God’s salvation (119:174). What will he do if God lets him live? Praise him more (119:175). May it be so with us. Let us praise the Lord for his beautiful and powerful word. And let our testimony match the psalmist’s final words: I do not forget your commands (119:176).
Psalms 120–134 are the songs of ascents, used by Israelite pilgrims traveling up to Jerusalem to participate in the annual feasts.
120:1-4 The psalmist pleads with God to rescue him from those who sought to destroy him with their lying and deceit—and the Lord answered (119:1-2). Then, knowing of his enemies’ assured destruction at God’s hands, the psalmist speaks to them of God’s coming judgment. It would be like a warrior’s sharp arrows with burning charcoal (119:4).
120:5-7 The psalmist expresses sorrow that he had to dwell among people who pursued war when he was a man of peace (120:6-7). Meshech is a reference to a people who lived far to the north of Israel, while Kedar referred to a people who lived to the southeast (120:5). Likely, then, this was his poetic way of saying that he was surrounded by those who were not God’s people. But, though he was living amid a culture that despised righteousness, the psalmist looked to God for help and honored God with his obedience.
121:1-2 The psalmist considers the mountains of Israel, mighty towers of rock. Such images of strength caused him to ask himself, Where will my help come from? (121:1). He concludes that help comes from of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth (121:2). Indeed, the greatest protection doesn’t come from the mountains—but from the one who created the mountains.
121:3-4 The Lord is the Protector of his people (121:3). There is no safer place in the universe than being where God wants you to be. He cannot be defeated, and he does not slumber or sleep (121:4).
121:5-8 The Lord is a shelter (121:5). He protects from all manner of evil, physical and spiritual. He guards his people from all harm, whether by day or night, whether they are coming or going (121:6-8). Submit yourself to God’s kingdom, then, and receive the blessings of his covenantal covering.
122:1-5 David expresses excitement as he anticipates worshiping with the people of Israel in the house of the Lord, the tabernacle in Jerusalem (122:1-2). God had given the twelve tribes of Israel an ordinance to obey. They were to appear before him in Jerusalem at the annual festivals that he had established for them so that they might give him thanks (122:4; see Deut 16:16-17). Not only was Jerusalem the location of the Lord’s tabernacle, it was also the city of the king, the location of the thrones of the house of David (122:5)—from whose family the Messiah would come.
122:6-9 David vows to pursue Jerusalem’s prosperity (122:9), and he exhorts true worshipers to pray for the peace and security of that city and its people, his brothers and friends. To be devoted to the Lord, in fact, meant to be devoted to the city he had chosen for his king and for the worship of his name. The prayer in view here will, ultimately, be answered under the Messiah’s kingdom rule (122:6-8).
123:1-4 The psalmist looks to God, the King of creation, the one enthroned in heaven, for provision and help (123:1). As a servant looks to his master, so the people of Israel looked to the Lord to be favorable toward them (123:2). Though their enemies had shown them contempt, they were confident that God could reverse their circumstances (123:3). Thus, the psalmist prays repeatedly, show us favor. If the Lord grants you favor, no one can stand against you.
124:1-7 To encourage the people of God to trust in his faithfulness in their present circumstances, David recalls God’s deliverance in the past. If not for divine intervention at the Red Sea, Israel would have been slaughtered by Pharaoh’s army and drowned in the raging water (124:2-5). But, God had enabled his people to escape from their captors like a bird from a trapper’s snare (124:7).
124:8 Reflecting on God’s help in the past gave David confidence to declare that God would help his people again. As the Maker of heaven and earth, he ruled over them. This is a powerful lesson for God’s people today. Keep track of the goodness of God in your life. Take note of times when God delivers you from adversity. You’ll need to recall these times of blessing to give you confidence in God’s faithfulness and power for future troubles.
125:1-3 This psalm affirms the permanence of Mount Zion as an illustration of the security experienced by those who trust in the Lord (125:1). Just as mountains surround Jerusalem, so also God surrounds his people, giving them covering and protection (125:2). The ultimate display of God’s protection will appear when the Messiah comes to reign as King from Jerusalem in his millennial kingdom. In that day, the scepter of the wicked will not remain and will not cause the righteous to turn to injustice (125:3).
125:4-5 The psalmist asks God to do what is good . . . to those whose hearts are upright (125:4)—that is, to those whose hearts trust in God and submit to his kingdom agenda. What will become of those who prefer crooked ways (the paths of sin)? The Lord will judge them with the evildoers (125:5). Let all God’s people remain loyal to him, turn from wickedness, and travel the path of righteousness.
126:1-3 The psalmist recalls the joy that God’s people experienced when he restored their fortunes upon their return after exile (126:1). They recognized that this was the work of the Lord, resulting in laughter and joy (126:2).
126:4-6 Thinking of watercourses in the Negev, which were streams that overflowed south of Israel during the rainy season, the psalmist longs for an overflow of God’s blessing so that they might experience restoration and have their sorrow turned to joy (126:4-5). This is an important truth: don’t become complacent in your expectations. God is “able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20). In his sovereign grace, God can cause those who sow in tears to reap with shouts of joy (126:5). He can turn our sorrow into blessing.
This is the second of two psalms by Solomon (see Ps 72).
127:1-2 According to Solomon, all labor done independently of God is done in vain (127:1) Even seeking to build a home and a family apart from God is a waste because no matter how diligently you apply yourself, your human efforts are limited without God to back them. What we need in our households is his involvement and blessing—combined with our faithful labor. No matter how many books on marriage and parenting you read, or how much advice you receive, all falls short unless your foundation is built on God.
127:3-4 Far from being a burden or inconvenience, children are intended to be received and valued as a gift from the Lord, a reward (127:3). They should be treated as a wonderful inheritance and, thus, receive care and training.
Children are like arrows in the hand of a warrior (127:4). But, if they are to hit their targets—that is, to fulfill their kingdom purposes—parents must shape them and aim them correctly. Boys and girls must be raised to know the Lord, gaining experiential knowledge of God through watching their moms and dads live in dependence on him.
127:5 The man whose quiver is filled with such “arrows” will never be put to shame. He will send his children into the world so that they honor God and their families. Building the next generation is important kingdom work, so don’t presume to engage in it without bringing your parenting under submission to the King’s agenda.
God’s kingdom agenda is defined as the visible manifestation of the comprehensive rule of God over every area of life. He administers this agenda through spiritually binding relationships called covenants. To bring his rule to bear on your life, God operates through four covenantal spheres. This psalm provides a helpful illustration of these spheres.
128:1-2 The first sphere through which God works is the individual. The psalmist declares, How happy is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways (128:1). God’s goal is that every person learns to take him seriously and to govern himself or herself under divine rule. We cannot merely keep God on the periphery of our lives but must be willing to embrace commitment and accountability. The Lord will bless those who do so in their fortune (you will surely eat what your hands have worked for), their feelings (you will be happy), and their future (it will go well for you) (128:2).
128:3-4 The next sphere is the family. God created the family to be the foundation of civilization. Societal breakdown in the United States, then, doesn’t begin with the White House; it begins in your house! Because God designed men to be godly leaders in their homes, he addresses them. To the man who fears the Lord (128:4), he says, Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children, like young olive trees around your table (128:3).
When a husband takes God seriously, becomes a servant leader in his home, and loves his wife sacrificially as Christ loved the church (see Eph 5:25), he encourages his wife to be the fruitful helper that God wants her to be (see Gen 2:20-23). Furthermore, such a man is diligent in his responsibilities as a father. He will gather his children around the table to teach them wisdom, a habit that will result in productive citizens.
128:5-6 The third sphere through which God accomplishes his kingdom purposes is the church. The name Zion (128:5) was used in the Old Testament to describe either the city of Jerusalem or the holy temple within it. But, in the New Testament, the church is the temple of God (see 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21), and Christians are said to come to worship at “Mount Zion” (Heb 12:22). Thus, for believers, Zion refers to the church, God’s people.
Christians are called to be part of God’s covenant community. If you’ve been born again by placing faith in Jesus, you’re not an only child but part of a family that calls God “our Father” (Matt 6:9). Thus, in the New Testament, taking an active part in a local church is a normal and expected part of the Christian experience.
Certain blessings can only be received corporately. God wants to bless his people, but it comes from Zion (128:5). The church of Jesus Christ is like an embassy operating with God’s kingdom authority in a foreign land. The church is where the rules of eternity operate at a location in history. We gather together to hear from heaven so that we may live out heaven’s viewpoint in the world.
The final sphere is society. The psalmist concludes with a desire to see prosperity in Jerusalem and peace in Israel (128:5-6). He desires good and comprehensive well-being (i.e., shalom or “peace”) for the capital and country where God’s people dwelled. We ought to do the same.
Frequently, we expect our own country to be made better from the top down though politics, but God wants to see societies transformed from the bottom up. When God’s kingdom agenda is a priority in individuals who are committed to families that are committed to churches that are committed to making a difference in their communities, society is transformed for the better. May it be so with God’s people today.
129:1-4 The psalmist invites God’s people to testify to his mighty deliverance. From the beginning of the nation (Israel’s “youth”), they were oppressed, but their enemies had not prevailed against them (129:2). They had suffered greatly, as if someone had plowed over their backs (129:3). Yet, because the Lord is righteous, he brings justice to his people and thwarts the intentions of the wicked (129:4).
129:5-8 The name Zion is frequently used in the Old Testament to speak of the city of Jerusalem or God’s holy temple within it. In either case, to hate Zion is to hate God. So, the psalmist prays that such people would wind up in disgrace (129:5). He asks that they would be like grass growing on rooftops, which withers away because of the lack of soil (129:6). Just as it is wrong to curse when we ought to bless (see Jas 3:9-10), so it is wrong to pronounce a blessing on the wicked who don’t deserve it (129:8).
130:1-3 The psalmist cries out to God from the depths of his emotional turmoil (130:1). He realizes his desperate situation as his sin is juxtaposed with God’s holiness: If you kept an account of iniquities, Lord, who could stand? (130:3). When our sin is measured against God’s righteousness, we fall short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23) and deserve death (Rom 6:23).
130:4 But—praise God—that’s not where it ends, because with [God] there is forgiveness. The Lord made forgiveness possible through the atoning sacrifices he required of Israel. But, ultimately, these sacrifices are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. By faith in his death on the cross, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:14). God extends such grace not so that it will lead to indulgence but so that [he] may be revered and taken seriously.
130:5-6 The psalmist waits for divine deliverance from guilt, like watchmen who stay awake all night waiting for the morning to come. He looks to God to remove the weight that his sin had laid on him.
130:7-8 In light of God’s faithful love, the psalmist urges Israel (and believers today) to put [their] hope in him for the blessings of redemption and deliverance (130:7). One day, the Lord will redeem Israel from all its iniquities (130:8). They will believe in their Messiah and repent of their rejection of him, and Christ’s millennial kingdom will be ushered in.
131:1 David understands who he is in light of who God is. Knowing that God alone is exalted and that God hates pride (even in a human king), David rejects a desire to be proud or haughty. In spite of his royal position, he placed himself humbly under divine rule.
131:2 He affirms his dependence on God; he is like a child resting against the bosom of his mother. David is confident of the care and protection of the one who watches over him. Regardless of what is happening in the world around you, there is no safer place to be than under the covenant covering of God.
131:3 David concludes by encouraging Israel to hope in the Lord with the same confidence that he had. We do not trust in God merely for ourselves. Rather, our visible trust, demonstrated in our submission to his will, should encourage others to do likewise and find rest in him.
132:1-5 The people ask God to remember David, both for the hardships he endured and for his vow to centralize the worship of God in Jerusalem (132:1-2). He brought the ark of the covenant into the city of David (2 Sam 6:12-17), so that he could provide a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob (132:5). David wanted his throne to be near God’s throne.
132:6-9 The people remember when Israel brought the ark from the fields of Jaar (that is, Kiriath-jearim). The Philistines had captured it, endured God’s wrath, and returned it (see 1 Sam 5:1–7:1). The people long to go to God’s dwelling place on earth (the temple) and worship at his footstool (the ark) (132:7-8). The ark of God’s power assured his victory on behalf of his people. They pray for righteousness for the priests and joy for the faithful (130:9).
132:10-12 They ask God to be faithful to his covenant promise to David (see 2 Sam 7:11-16) and, thus, not reject his descendant, God’s anointed king (132:10). For the Lord had promised that David’s descendants would sit on [his] throne forever (132:12). But, rather than through a perpetual succession of Davidic kings, this promise would be fulfilled in the resurrected Son of David who lives forever.
132:13-18 God had chosen Zion . . . for his home (132:13), the place of his earthly rule, and he promises to bless its people (132:15-16). In response to their prayers, the Lord vows to be faithful to his promise to David. His anointed one will be a source of power and light (132:17). He will vanquish his enemies and reign in glory (132:18). Believers today hope in this same Anointed One, and we long for his kingdom (see Luke 1:32-33; Acts 2:30). “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20).
133:1 David exalts the glory of brothers living together in harmony. Just as it was good and pleasant (attractive) when this was true among Israel’s tribes then, so it is true of God’s people today. When brothers and sisters in Christ gather for worship, it is beautiful. When we come together in peace, love, and unity, it reflects the attitude of Christ (see Phil 2:1-5).
133:2 The unity of God’s people is like when the oil was poured on Aaron’s head to anoint him to the priesthood. The oil consecrated him to his God-appointed task, and the unity of God’s people brings divine consecration to them. To experience the kingdom work of God in our churches, unity is critical. God will not work amid division and dissension (see John 17).
133:3 The Israelites’ unity is also compared to the dew of Mount Hermon, the tallest mountain in Israel. The atmospheric moisture from Hermon fell on the mountains of Zion, bringing refreshment and productivity to the land. Similarly, unity among the people of God frees him to rain down blessing on them. This explains why the devil seeks to sow discord among God’s people. He wants to block the flow of God’s blessings.
134:1-3 The psalmist calls on the priests who serve, standing in the Lord’s house at night, to praise him (134:1). Their uplifted hands express not only worship, but also dependency (134:2). He then prays that their Creator—the Maker of heaven and earth—would bless his people (134:3).
Through Jesus Christ, believers have been made priests to one another (see 1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:6). Therefore, these words apply to Christians everywhere. We are called to bless God and serve one another.
135:1-7 The palmist calls the priests who stand in the temple, the house of the Lord, to praise and sing to him for his goodness and his choosing of Israel as his special possession (135:1-4). The Lord is also to be praised for his supremacy over worthless idols and his sovereign power over creation (135:5-7). He is truly incomparable.
135:8-14 God is to be praised for his protection of his covenant people. From his defeat of Egypt during the exodus (135:8-9) to his vanquishing of many nations during the conquest of Canaan (135:10-11), God repeatedly delivered his people and then blessed them with an inheritance (135:12). No one has a glorious and enduring reputation like the Lord (135:13).
135:15-18 Those who trust in idols are fools. Though the Lord is the Creator of heaven and earth, silver and gold idols are made by human hands (135:15). They are lifeless (135:15-17) and—unlike the living God who saves—cannot act on behalf of those who worship them. Those who make them are just like them (135:18). This is the powerful principle that you become like what you worship. If you look to what is lifeless and empty as your source, your life will reflect it.
135:19-21 The psalmist concludes with a call to all God’s people (Israel) and all those who serve as priests and ministers in the temple (the houses of Aaron and Levi) to bless the Lord (135:19-20). The one who dwells in his temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem is to be praised (135:21).
This psalm celebrates the faithful love (Hebrew: hesed) of God, his steadfast and never-failing love toward his covenant people. It includes a beautiful line repeated throughout: His faithful love endures forever. Probably after the priest sang each verse, the entire congregation would respond by singing this refrain.
136:1-26 The psalmist calls the people to give thanks to the God of gods and the Lord of lords who alone is sovereign and supreme (136:1-3). He is to be praised for his works of creation (136:4-9), his miraculous redemption of Israel from slavery in Egypt (136:10-15), and his deliverance of his people from their foes and into the land of promise (136:16-24). He is the God who rules from heaven, the only true King (136:26). Let us give thanks to the faithful love he has shown us through Jesus Christ our Lord.
137:1-6 The psalmist recalls the deep sorrow the exiles experienced during their Babylonian captivity. They sat by the rivers of Babylon and wept (137:1). They remembered the glory of Zion, while their captors mocked them, asking them to sing . . . the songs of Zion (137:1, 3). The psalmist wondered how he could sing Zion’s songs in a foreign land, yet he was determined to remember Jerusalem, though it lay in devastation (137:4-6).
137:7-9 The psalmist moves from sorrow for Jerusalem to a desire for justice against his people’s oppressors. He longs for God’s vengeance against the Edomites, who cheered Jerusalem’s destruction, and against Bab-ylon, who carried out the violence (137:7-8). His prayer against the little ones (137:9) reflected a desire that his enemy would have no descendants.
138:1-6 David vows to praise God wholeheartedly, because his love and truth are constant (138:1-2). The Lord had exalted himself by answering David’s prayer (138:2-3). Therefore, Israel’s king desires all the kings on earth to thank God and sing of his glory (138:4-5). For he gives attention to the humble but rejects the proud (i.e., those who believe they can live their lives independently of him) (138:6; see Jas 4:6). Believers should not be ashamed to give public praise to God before all people, whether great or small.
138:7-8 David was confident that God would deliver him from danger with the power of his right hand (138:7). He pleads with God to fulfill the purpose he had for him and not to abandon him (138:8). We, too, can be brutally honest with God. Even while you praise him, you can ask him not to let you down—particularly in times of crises—knowing that he will answer for your good and his glory.
139:1-4 David contemplates the staggering omniscience of God. Not only does the Lord know everything about the universe, he has also searched and known his servant (139:1). God knows every last detail about you, too. Nothing escapes his knowledge; nothing catches him off guard. He knows all of your actions, your thoughts, and your words (139:2-4). Before a word is formed on [your] tongue, God knows what you will say (139:4).
139:5-6 In light of this, David concludes, You have encircled me and placed your hand on me (139:5). In other words, “I’m locked inside your knowledge, God. There’s nowhere to run and hide.” While the Lord’s complete awareness is bad news for the unbeliever, it is glorious news for the believer. It means we are never lost and never forgotten. Though others misunderstand and misread your intentions, God is never confused about you. God understands. How does David respond to such wondrous knowledge? He admits that it is beyond him; it’s unfathomable (139:6). When we comprehend that God can do the incomprehensible, it should cause us to be overwhelmed with worship for him.
139:7-9 Not only is the Lord omniscient, but he is also omnipresent. God is everywhere. David asks, Where can I flee from your presence? (139:7). But, of course, no one can escape God. David therefore confesses that wherever he might try to hide—even in heaven or in Sheol (the grave) or at the eastern horizon or at the western limits (139:8-9)—he would still bump into God. He inhabits the universe from top to bottom.
139:10-12 Believer, no matter where you are, God’s right hand will hold on to [you] (139:10). No darkness is too dark to hide us from his sight (139:11). To him, the night shines like the day (139:12). So, regardless of the circumstances you face, remember God is ever-present. Call on the intimate God in your day of distress, knowing that he is right by your side.
139:13-14 In spite of popular opinion, we are not the products of evolution. We are not here by chance. David affirms that God had not only created him, but he had actually knit him together in [his] mother’s womb (139:13). You, too, are a work of art that God put together by hand. You have been remarkably and wondrously made (139:14). No matter the circumstances surrounding your conception, no matter your ethnicity or gender, your existence is intentional. You are not a mistake, for God makes no mistakes. You are created in the image of God (see Gen 1:27) with purpose and meaning. This truth is to be the foundation for a person’s self-worth and self-esteem.
139:15-16 David was not hidden from God even when he was in his mother’s womb (139:15). He thus declares, Your eyes saw me when I was formless. This truth is why abortion is so horribly wrong. Divinely given human life exists from the moment of conception. God didn’t merely see an embryo or fetus in the womb; he saw David (“Your eyes saw me”).
Moreover, David says, All my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began (139:16). The Lord similarly knew all of your days from beginning to end. Your existence is no accident. You are part of the divine plan.
139:17-18 David is overwhelmed by but also comforted by God’s vast knowledge: How precious your thoughts are to me (139:17). No matter his circumstances, David knows that he is in God’s presence and intimately known by him. And the same is true of you. The Lord is aware of every detail of your life. He cares for you, and you are continually on his mind.
139:19-22 Because of David’s deep love for the Lord, he hates everything that was in opposition to him (139:21). Thus, he prays for God’s judgment on the wicked (139:19) in accordance with his holy character. David considers God’s enemies as his own (139:22).
139:23-24 David concludes by acknowledging that his motives were flawed. But, he also knew that God understood his heart through and through. Therefore, he asks God to search and test him so that he might reveal to him any offensive and unrighteous thoughts and intentions (139:23-24). Like David, we do not fully know ourselves, either. So, let us pray that God’s Spirit would help us understand ourselves rightly so that we can repent where necessary and enjoy intimate fellowship with him as he leads us in the everlasting way (139:24).
140:1-5 David appeals to the Lord to defend him against violent men who were stirring up trouble for him, using their venomous tongues to turn others against him and ruin his reputation (140:1-3). Their actions toward David were equivalent to setting a trap for an animal (140:5). They worked in secret to bring him down.
140:6-8 No matter what the wicked did to him, David continues to declare his trust in the Lord, his strong Savior. As the king, David no doubt had the best of armor. But, ultimately, he knew that God himself was his shield . . . on the day of battle—especially when it came to maintaining peace of mind (140:7). He prays that God would thwart the wicked in their goals and short-circuit their pride (140:8).
140:9-11 David asks that the plans of these evildoers would backfire on them (140:9). He petitions God to judge them with hot coals and fire so that their evil deeds would come to an end (140:10).
140:12-13 Just as David knows that the Lord would judge the wicked in righteousness, he also knows that the Lord would render justice to the poor and needy (140:12). God will intervene on behalf of the downtrodden—either in this life or in the life to come. One day, God will set all things right, and the upright will live in [his] presence (140:13).
141:1-2 David petitions with urgency and desperation, asking God to hurry to his aid (141:1). He describes his prayer in terms of priestly sacrifices: incense or an offering burned for the Lord (141:2). In other words, David didn’t consider his entreaty as only a plea for help. It was an act of worship.
141:3-4 David understood his own sinfulness and longed for righteousness. Therefore, he asks the Lord to keep him from wickedness—in his speech, in his heart, and in his actions (141:3-4). He did not want to be lured into sin by the delicacies of the wicked (141:4)—that is, by anything that would appeal to his sinful desires and draw him away from the Lord.
Similarly, believers today are exhorted to beware of the desires of the world: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions” (1 John 2:16). Indulging in such “delicacies” does not ultimately satisfy our spiritual hunger. It causes us to lose fellowship with God.
141:5-7 David welcomes the rebuke of the righteous. If words of correction were delivered to him in faithful love, David would not refuse them but would consider them like healing oil for [his] head (141:5). Yet, he still hoped that God would judge the wicked in light of their treatment of his people (141:6-7).
141:8-10 David affirms that his focus is on the Lord: My eyes look to you. . . . I seek refuge in you (141:8). He asks that God would protect him from death and let his enemies fall into their own nets that they had set for him (141:10). When troubles surround you, keep your eyes on the one who can deliver you from them or through them.
142:1-3a David displays his great need for God in the midst of his desperate circumstances. He implores God to listen to his concerns: I cry aloud . . . plead aloud . . . pour out my complaint . . . reveal my trouble (141:1-2). Though David himself was weak within, his God is omnipotent and knows the way he should take (142:3).
If you have wrongly assumed that all prayer should be dignified and employ only theological jargon in your petitions to God, you have not understood prayer rightly. Let David be your model. He approaches God honestly, pleading emotionally for deliverance. As a troubled child depends on his or her daddy, go to your heavenly Father in your turmoil and open your heart to him.
142:3b-4 Whether David was actually alone, he certainly felt alone. He mourns, No one stands up for me . . . no one cares about me. That’s why he fell on his knees before the Lord. David needed a refuge that only God could provide (142:4). Even when you have fellow believers standing by you, no one has the wisdom and power to care for you like God does.
142:5-7 David pleads with God because he was weak and his enemies were too strong (142:5-6). He asks for God to free him from the prison of his circumstances. Notice the purpose for this request: so that I can praise your name. It means David longs for deliverance in part so that he would have another reason to worship. He concludes with confidence that God would deal generously with [him]. As a result, the righteous [would] gather around him (142:7). Through divine intervention, then, the man who was alone would be alone no longer.
143:1-4 Because of God’s faithfulness and righteousness, David calls on the Lord to save him from divine judgment (143:1). He acknowledges his own sinfulness, for no one alive is righteous in [God’s] sight (143:2). But, his enemies were persecuting him unjustly (143:3), and David didn’t have the spiritual or emotional strength to overcome them (143:4).
143:5-6 David finds solace and hope in remembering former days, when he had experienced God’s mighty works (143:5). He longs for God’s intervention to restore his spiritually thirsty soul (143:6).
143:7-10 David wants to experience the faithful love of God so that he might understand the way [he] should go for protection from his enemies (143:8-9). In addition, David wanted to walk in God’s ways. He prays, Teach me to do your will (143:10). It wasn’t enough to be saved from his troubles. David wants fellowship with God and his direction and guidance as he obeyed his commands.
143:11-12 He looks to the Lord’s righteousness and faithful love to both deliver him and destroy [his] enemies. He appeals to the fact that he was God’s servant. When we come under God’s covenant covering and submit to his will, we can have confidence that he will work for our good and his glory.
144:1-2 David’s descriptions of God show us two things clearly. First, he considers God the definitive source of security. The Lord is a rock . . . fortress . . . stronghold . . . deliverer . . . shield, and refuge. To put this in football terminology, we would say that God is the ultimate defensive line. No opposition can break through. No other source of protection is as reliable.
Second, David expresses the depth of his personal relationship with the Lord through his repeated use of the pronoun my before these descriptions. Not only is God a fortress, but he is also David’s fortress.
God was, is, and always will be almighty. The question is this: are you appropriating the divine King’s power in your own life? Do you have access to his heavenly strength through faith and submission to his kingdom agenda?
144:3-4 David is overwhelmed that God would care for human beings in general and him in particular (144:3; see also 8:4). What amazing grace that God would condescend to enter into intimate fellowship with humanity! And how (even more) amazing is it that the divine Son of God would take on human nature so that he might redeem us (see Heb 2:1-18)?
144:5-8 David affirms God’s control over the heavens . . . mountains, and lightning (144:5-6). He is their Creator; therefore, they do his bidding. With such sovereignty, the Lord could certainly rescue David from the grasp of those who sought him harm (144:7).
144:9-11 David sings a new song of praise to God, knowing that he is the one who gives victory to kings (144:9-10). In the end, the size of a king’s army is irrelevant. The size of his God is what matters. As David testifies elsewhere, chariots and horses, symbols of ancient military power, are no match for the Lord (see 20:7). So, again, he pleads with God to rescue him from his deceptive enemies (144:11).
144:12-15 With God’s deliverance of his people, David knows that blessings would follow. Israel’s sons and daughters would flourish (144:12). The people would experience great productivity from crops and livestock (144:13). And their land would be secure (144:14). How should one respond to such blessings sent by God’s hand? With joy! Happy are the people whose God is the Lord (144:15).
145:1-3 Because of God’s unfathomable greatness, David commits himself to praising him every day (145:1-2). Such a commitment is not unreasonable, for God deserves endless worship. His greatness is unsearchable (145:3).
145:4-7 The knowledge and exaltation of God is to be passed down from one generation . . . to the next (145:4). David commits to doing his part to declare the splendor . . . majesty . . . wondrous works, and greatness of God to others (145:5-6).
Are you likewise committed to exalting God so that his kingdom expands? Do you regularly teach your children about the Lord? Do you share the gospel and your own personal testimony with unbelievers in your circle of influence? Are you discipling others so that the church may mature in Christ?
145:8-13 David recites what God himself had revealed to Moses (see Exod 34:6): The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love (145:8). His glorious character and actions toward his people elicit their thanks and blessings (145:10). Those who have experienced the goodness of God, in fact, can’t help but declare his kingdom and mighty acts to all people (145:11-12), because [his] kingdom is an everlasting kingdom (145:13). Because God’s rule will endure forever, God’s people ought to proclaim it and urge everyone everywhere to submit to the King.
145:14-20 David extols the gracious provision of God, who helps the oppressed and provides food for all humanity (145:14-15). He hears those who call out to him with integrity (145:18). He delivers those who fear him (145:19). He guards all those who love him (145:20). Thus, we see a clear picture of what God expects of us if he is to act on our behalf: we are to pray to him with integrity, live as those who takes him seriously, and love him with all that we are.
145:21 Like David, let us commit ourselves to vocal, public devotion to God. May we declare his praise so that every living thing might know and bless him forever.
146:1-4 The psalmist vows to praise the Lord all [his] life (146:2). This is eminently wise because the Lord is everlasting and able to save all who come to him. In contrast, nobles—no matter how powerful or glorious they are—cannot save (146:3). Moreover, a nobleman’s days are numbered. He will die, and his plans with him (146:4).
146:5-6 The person who looks to the Lord—the Maker of heaven and earth—for his help is happy or blessed (the Hebrew word can be translated either way), because the Lord is faithful forever. He has no limitations and is eternally trustworthy.
146:7-9 God’s resume is impeccable. He provides justice and care for the exploited . . . the hungry . . . prisoners . . . the blind, the oppressed, the resident aliens . . . the fatherless and the widow. There is no category of abused, broken, burdened, or underprivileged people on whom the Lord does not have compassion. The same should be true of God’s people; the church is called to emulate its Savior and care for the downtrodden, renewing their hope and lightening their loads.
146:10 The psalmist concludes with an affirmation that the Lord reigns forever. No matter how difficult your trials, they will not last forever. But, God’s kingdom will. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
147:1-6 The psalmist declares how good and lovely it is to give praise to God (147:1). Worship of God is always justified because of his vast power over his creation: he counts all the stars and gives them names (147:4-5). Worship is also right because of the amazing grace he demonstrates to his covenant people. Though his people were brokenhearted and oppressed (either due to their sins or life circumstances), the Lord punished the wicked, gathered the exiles together, and granted them to rebuild Jerusalem (147:2-3, 6).
147:7-9 Another reason to praise God is his providential care of his world. He (not “Mother Nature”) sends rain and causes grass to grow (147:8). All animals receive their sustenance from the Lord’s gracious hand (147:9). This is God’s common grace upon all of his creation.
147:10-14 What impresses God? What does he value? Not the things that typically capture the attention of humans. Powerful warriors and armies, for instance, are nothing to him (147:10). Rather, God cherishes those who fear him and hope in his faithful love (147:11). In other words, if you humbly submit to his kingdom agenda and live in dependence on him, you can rest assured that God will be crazy about you. He loves to bless his people (147:12-14).
147:15-20 The psalmist exalts God for his word. For by his word, he exercises control over the elements of nature (147:15-18). But, even more, he is to be praised for the word that he revealed specifically to his people. Only Israel personally received this gracious word—not any other nation (147:19-20). God’s new covenant people should similarly exalt him for the special revelation of both the written Word and the living Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.
148:1-6 The psalmist invites the heavens, as well as the heavenly beings, to praise their Creator as they fulfill their created purposes (148:1-4). For he commanded, and they were created (148:5). The Maker deserves the worship of all he has made.
148:7-14 The psalmist also calls on everyone and everything that fills the earth to render praise to God (148:7). Creatures and inanimate objects, kings and peoples, young and old (148:7-12)—all should exalt him because he is the Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of all. He demonstrated faithfulness to the Israelites (148:14), the people of Abraham. And through them, he blessed all peoples of the earth (see Gen 12:3; Gal 3:7-18).
149:1-5 This psalm calls God’s people to praise him with fresh singing and dancing because he is both their Maker and their King (149:1-3). He showers his people with salvation because of his love for them. So, the faithful, those who look to him alone as their source, should celebrate and shout for joy (149:4-5).
149:6-9 Israel is called to have exaltation of God . . . in their mouths and a sword in their hands to carry out his vengeance on the nations (149:6-7). In other words, praise is to be accompanied by action. They were to honor God with their lips and also wage war against wickedness. The Lord honored his people by letting them carry out his own judgment, based on his word, against evildoers (149:9). He is to be praised both for his grace and for his justice.
150:1-6 The psalmist gives a final doxological call for praise to God—both in his sanctuary (the tabernacle or temple) and in his mighty expanse (heaven)—for his abundant greatness (that is, for who he is) and for his powerful acts (what he has done) (150:1-2). No instrument is to remain silent (150:3-5). And neither is any voice: everything that breathes is to render praise. Thus, the Psalter ends with a call to worship: Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! (150:6).