Sunday, July 24, 2011

Psalm 144 - Bless the Lord!

LINK: Psalm 144

BACKGROUND 

I want to remind you that we are doing all the psalms out of order so that we can read them in the context of the history of Israel. I hope it is not too confusing for you!

Psalms 144-150 end the book of Psalms with PRAISE! Psalms 144-146 are examples of personal praise because they use the personal pronouns I, me, and my.

David wrote this song in order to bless the Lord (144:1, 15) and thank Him for making him a successful warrior. He probably did not write this after his encounter with Goliath, but it indicates why David was so brave against the giant. He knew that God was capable of defeating anyone because God was his . . .
  • Rock (ṣûr) - "Yahweh is a Rock, not in being represented as an idol carved from stone, but in that He is totally reliable. He is a sure source of strength and He endures throughout every generation." 
  • Lovingkindness (ḥesed) - "God’s hesed was not basically mercy, but loyalty to His covenant obligations, a loyalty which the Israelites should also show." We talked about this word in the story of Ruth. 
  • Fortress (meṣûḏâh) - "In the rocky crag the eagle makes his stronghold (Job 39:28). But man erects his fortress out of stone or brick to protect himself from external dangers. Nevertheless with great strategy a stronghold may be taken: e.g. David captured the stronghold of Zion (II Sam 5:7). For the believer, especially David, God himself was the stronghold in whom he trusted throughout his trials" (Ps 18:2 [H 3]; 91:2).
  • Stronghold (miśgāb) - This word is found fifteen times in the Old Testament with eleven of them being in the Psalms. It speaks of "God being the believer's high tower (II Sam 22:3), or his refuge (Psalm 46:7, 11 [8, 12]), or defense (Isa 33:16). The allusion is to the fact that in the ancient world, safety to either the one fleeing or to the one at rest was synonymous with teaching and remaining upon some fortified height which would be inaccessible to beast and enemy alike. The Psalmist, as well as the prophets, saw this to be the precise picture of the believer’s security in God."
  • Deliverer (pālaṭ) - This word occurs twenty-seven times in the Old Testament with nineteen of them being in the Psalms. Other references are in Psalm 18:2; 40:17; 70:5; and 140:7
  • Shield (māgēn) - "māgēn refers to the smaller and more common type of round shield carried by light infantry and officers . . . In view of the fact that God is always the one who protects (gānan) His people, it is no surprise that He is so often called the shield (māgēn) of Israel. He is the shield about His servants (Gen 15:1), the house of Aaron (Ps 115:10), the nation of Israel (Deut 33:29) and all those who walk uprightly and put their trust in Him (Prov 2:7; 30:5)."

    All quotes are from Harris, R. L., Harris, R. L., Archer, G. L., & Waltke, B. K. (1999, c1980). Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (169). Chicago: Moody Press.
REFLECTION/APPLICATION

I have just spent the morning meditating and praying through the first four verses of this Psalm. One thing I like to do when I meditate is to define words and then rewrite them in a paraphrase version of the verses. You can use a regular dictionary, a concordance that will give you cross-references, or invest in a good Hebrew dictionary like the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (my personal favorite).

PRAYER 

Pray through all or part of Psalm 144 today. :)
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