By James Boice on Jul 02, 2018 12:00 am
Psalm 65 is an extraordinary, exquisite poem about nature. But it is also predominantly about the God of nature, who is gracious to man, powerful in his acts and the source of all nature’s bounty—which is what we would expect of a song written by David, the great poet of Israel.
By James Boice on Jun 29, 2018 12:00 am
For five verses the wicked have been hatching their nefarious plots against King David. They have done it secretly, cunningly and with mutual bucking one another up and with encouragement. They have reached the point of congratulating themselves on their efforts, saying, “We have devised a perfect plan” and “Who will see us?” But suddenly, just when they think they have succeeded brilliantly, God, who has been watching it all from heaven, launches his bolt against them and quickly brings them down. Indeed, they have been in his sights all along, and it does not require a quiver full of arrows to destroy them. One arrow does the job.
By James Boice on Jun 28, 2018 12:00 am
Yesterday we were talking about two of the five different things that psalm 64 verses 2 through 6 examine. Today we’ll continue with the remaining three. Remember that we are called upon to fight the Lord’s battles with the Lord’s weapons, not the weapons of the world. The world’s weapons are money, power, influence. Our weapons are the Word of God and prayer. It is said of the warfare of the saints against Satan in Revelation, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11).
By James Boice on Jun 27, 2018 12:00 am
As noted in the introduction, this psalm spends most of its time on the wicked who are attacking David, rather than on God. The result is that we are provided with a helpful study of this particular kind of evil. Looking carefully at verses 2-6, we find them analyzing: 1) the nature of this evil; 2) the weapons of these evil people; 3) their methods; 4) their plans; and 5) their fierce but complacent pride. We’ll look at the first two of these today and the last three tomorrow.
By James Boice on Jun 26, 2018 12:00 am
The psalm begins by David asking God to hear his complaint. In our ears the word “complaint” has a negative sound, because we associate it with complaining and we don’t like people who complain. But that is not the sense in which complaint occurs here. Here the word refers to a formal allegation, in this case against the wicked by one who is being unjustly treated by them.
By James Boice on Jun 25, 2018 12:00 am
It is not very often that David finishes a psalm without mentioning his enemies. There are exceptions, of course, but not many, and sometimes the references occur in the least expected places. Psalm 23 pictures God as David’s loving and wise shepherd. But do you remember verse 5? Verse 5 says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” The fact that David mentions his enemies so often gives some idea of how many enemies he had and what his life as the king of Israel was like.
By James Boice on Jun 22, 2018 12:00 am
The last three verses of the psalm look to the future and express David’s confidence that in time his enemies will be destroyed, the mouths of those who have slandered him will be silenced, and he will again be openly praising God with others who also love and seek him.
By James Boice on Jun 21, 2018 12:00 am
Let me suggest another way of looking at this section of the psalm. We can see it as statements, first, of David’s satisfaction in God and then of two results flowing from it.
By James Boice on Jun 20, 2018 12:00 am
About a thousand years after these words were written, David’s greater descendant Jesus Christ said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7). David did not know these specific words, of course. But he did know the reality of them since he elaborates this idea in the next section (vv. 2-8).
By James Boice on Jun 19, 2018 12:00 am
There are various ways of outlining the eleven verses of this psalm. They can be found in the various commentaries. The New International Version is probably right on track, however, when it sets verse 1 off as a stanza to itself. This is because the verse expresses the longing of David’s soul for God and because the next section (vv. 2-8) describes how that longing has been answered in the past and is being honored in the present.
By James Boice on Jun 18, 2018 12:00 am
There are three types of people in any Christian gathering. There are those who are followers of Jesus Christ in name only, which means that they are Christians in name only. They seem to be following after God and Christ and say they are, but theirs is a false following, like that of the five foolish virgins who did not truly know the Lord and were rejected by him. The second class are those who are following Jesus but are following “at a distance,” like Peter at the time of Jesus’ arrest. The third type are those who, as Murdoch Campbell suggests, “in storm and sunshine, cleave to him and enjoy daily communion with him.”1 These people want God, and they want him intensely, because they know that he and he alone will satisfy the deep longing of their souls. David was a person who desired God above everything else, and Psalm 63 is a classic expression of his longing.
By James Boice on Jun 15, 2018 12:00 am
The last two verses of Psalm 62 are intended as a summary of what David has been learning, but they also go a step beyond it, as biblical statements often do. Bible truths are seldom mere repetitions or summaries. In this case, David says that he has learned two lessons: namely, that God is strong and that God is loving.
By James Boice on Jun 14, 2018 12:00 am
If we are to divide the psalm into three stanzas, marked by the selahs at the end of verses 4 and 8, then the last stanza (vv. 9-12) echoes the first in that each is about both God and man. The first is about God and David’s enemies, in that order. The third is about mankind in general and God. So the matter is the same but the order is reversed.
By James Boice on Jun 13, 2018 12:00 am
David knew that he was fixed on the rock, and that he would never be shaken. Yes, but still he had to keep trusting, and he knew how variable and weak the faith of a man in God can be. This is what we find emphasized in the second of the psalm’s stanzas. David had trusted God. But now he also: 1) encourages himself to continue to trust God (vv. 5-7), and 2) urges the people to trust God too (v. 8).
By James Boice on Jun 12, 2018 12:00 am
The first stanza (vv. 1-4) introduces us to the three interacting agents in the psalm: God, the psalmist and the psalmist’s enemies. His enemies are trying to throw him down, as I indicated, but David is trusting God who is his “rock,” his “salvation” and his “fortress” (v. 2). The critical point is that David is trusting in God only or in God alone.
By James Boice on Jun 11, 2018 12:00 am
Do you ever feel like an endangered species? If we are to believe what we read in the papers, there are a lot of endangered species these days, and there are many powerful organizations that have been brought into existence to try to save them. There are endangered whales, endangered seals, endangered plants and animals, even the endangered snail darter that held up a major hydroelectric project in the south for many years. When we are discouraged, depressed or threatened we sometimes feel that we too are one of these endangered species and that we are soon going to be destroyed, wiped out or forgotten.
By James Boice on Jun 08, 2018 12:00 am
As we look back over Psalm 61 we are reminded that David began it feeling that he was at “the ends of the earth,” that is, far from God. But as he thought about God and prayed to him he drew closer to God and grew in confidence until he ends actually expecting to be established in Jerusalem, his capital, for many days and many generations. That is something to praise God for. And that, quite naturally, is how the psalm ends: “Then will I ever sing praise to your name and fulfill my vows day after day.”
By James Boice on Jun 07, 2018 12:00 am
In verses 6 and 7 the psalmist apparently ceases to pray for himself and prays instead that God will “increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations,” that he will be “enthroned in God’s presence forever” and that God will appoint his “love and faithfulness to protect him.” At first glance, it seems that another hand has added these words, perhaps at a later date, and that is the way many commentators have understood them. Yet it can also be argued that David is writing about himself as king, merely switching to the third from the first person for stylistic effect. The last verse seems to imply this since it returns to the first person, promising that the speaker will praise God if the earlier petition is answered. David could do that if God prolonged his reign for generations.
By James Boice on Jun 06, 2018 12:00 am
What I want us to notice about Psalm 61 today is that its second stanza adds to the image of God as David’s rock by four metaphors that elaborate what God is to his trusting people. God is so great that any number of images might be provided at this point. What is significant about these four images is that they are arranged to become increasingly warm and intimate.
By James Boice on Jun 05, 2018 12:00 am
It’s important to notice the image David uses for God in verse 2, calling him “the rock that is higher than I.” The idea of God being a rock is common in the psalms, appearing twenty times.1 In fact, it occurs three times in the next psalm, Psalm 62. We have already looked at it at some length in our study of Psalm 18, where alone it is used four times in an interesting progressive sequence: “The LORD is my rock (v. 2); “My God is my rock” (v. 2); Who is the Rock except our God?” (v. 31); and “Praise be to my Rock” (v. 46)!