Praying the Psalms: Psalm 21

Psalm 21 is another royal psalm, closely connected to the preceding psalm, psalm 20. Psalm 21 serves as a prayer of thanksgiving to God for his blessings on the King. The themes of kingship and kingdom run throughout the Bible. As we look at the joy the people of Israel found in their righteous and godly king, we too find our joy in the eternal king Jesus Christ. As we look at this Psalm today we will find that the Lord blessed his anointed King and exalts him to glory. Praying the Psalms

Commentary

v 1-7 - The Psalm begins as a prayer to God in thanksgiving for their King and the way God has honored the king. The king is a godly and righteous king who rejoices in the Lord, delighting in the salvation of God. As a result, God is faithful to bless the king. He gives the king his hearts desire and sets a crown  of fine gold upon his head. God blesses the king with a long life and the king is made glorious through the salvific work of God. God gives to him splendor an majesty. The King is the most blessed, because “the king trusts in the Lord” (7).

God loves to bless his anointed king. Though this psalm was originally addressed to a godly king in Israel, this psalm points so clearly to the true king and the true son of David. Jesus is the Christ. Christ means the anointed one. Jesus is the faithful and obedient servant king who finds his strength in God. He rejoices in the presence of his Father and delights to obey him.

Since Jesus is the righteous king, God crowns him with honor and praise. Jesus is the forever king of God’s people, because he is the only perfectly righteous king. The Father gives to his son life, and resurrected life at that. The length of his days stretch thought the unfathomable time of eternity.

The psalmist tells us that “His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him” (5). Truer words have never been spoken about Jesus. Jesus the king is made glorious through the salvation of God. Through the salvation God purchased through the death of the righteous king, the king then receives the glory for it. The ascribing of splendor and majesty is ascribed to Jesus so clearly in the Christ Hymn of Philippians 2:5-11. Jesus who became the obedient servant, even unto death is know highly exalted by God. God gives to him the name that is above every name.

v 8-12 - The psalm continues in its celebration of the king by praising the Lord for his protection of the king. Enemies may very well rise up to challenge the King. They may be filled with violent hate, but the Lord will deliver the King from his enemies. “The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them”. The King’s enemies do not stand a chance. They will be wiped away by the very power of God.  Though the enemies may plan evil against the king, they will not succeed.

Certainly the powers of darkness cannot stand agains the anointed king Jesus. Despite all their cunning and hatred towards Jesus, their plans were foiled. Though they sought to kill Jesus, God used his death to bring about salvation and resurrected glory. Those who stand as enemies of God’s anointed king should be fearful, whether demonic or human. Jesus the true King will come again and establish his kingdom on the earth. Those who align themselves with the powers of darkness will face swift destruction and the eternal wrath of God.

v 13 - The Psalm concludes with a crescendo of praise. May the Lord be exalted in his strength, because the Lord provides strength to his anointed and blessed the righteous King. As we think about the kingship of Jesus, it is mean to bring us before our knees in worship. God is glorifies through his King and as we serve King Jesus with our lives, it is done  in worship and in love to God.

Prayer Guide

  • Thank God for King Jesus and for the way God has exalted him.
  • Thank God for the salvation given to you through Jesus.
  • Praise God for the confidence we have knowing that Jesus’ enemies will one day be defeated once and for all.
  • Praise the Lord for his strength and he glorifies himself through his King.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 18

The crescendo of victory reverberates as a joyous moment. David has spent many days frightened by his enemy, yet God would deliver him. The context of this psalm is important, it is almost an exact copy of the song of David from 2 Samuel 22 as David celebrates the victory God had given him over Saul. Yet, this personal song of David is included in the hebrew hymn book, indicating that the future prosperity of the people of God are tied to God's blessing on David and his offspring. As God's people would sing this psalm, it serves as a prayer for God to bless the line of David and grant their king victory. Praying the Psalms

Commentary

v. 1-3 - The psalm begins with a summary of the praise that will unfold. Interestingly, this Psalm concludes a section of psalms in which David is praying for deliverance against his enemies. (See Psalm 16, 17). The Psalm begins with David stating his love for the Lord. God has been a great rock and refuge for David. God protects like an impenetrable shield or a stronghold that can not crumble. Because David called on the Lord, God saved him from his enemies. The rest of the Psalm is a celebration of God's victory over David's enemies.

v. 4-6 - David begins to reflect how he had called on God in his most desperate moments. When the throngs of death surrounded him, when the torrents of destruction assailed him, and when the cords of Sheol ensnared him, he called out to God, his help. He calls out to God and the Lord heard the prayer of David.

One of the main applications we can make as we study these psalms of David, is his unwavering reliance on the Lord. In the moment of crises and desperation he is quick to get on his knees and go to his God. Shouldn't we do the same? Yet, whenever we find ourselves in crises, we quickly engineer a plan or vent our frustrations to a friend. How slow we are to simply get on our knees before God and pray for help!

v. 7-19 - These verses use vivid language to describe how God had delivered David from his enemies.  The imagery is extravagant and moves quickly from one metaphor to another. David describes God as a dragon riding swiftly to come to his aid (v. 10). Then he begins to describe God's arrival as a powerful storm filled with hailstones and fire as the thunder crackles (11-14). God drew David out of many waters, as his rescuer from his enemies.

The point David stresses in this vivid scenes is clear: God brought David his victory. David is helpless and surrounded, but God fought for David. God handled his enemies, and rescued him from their mighty hatred. So too does God single-handedly rescue us from our enemies, especially as we consider our greatest of enemies, sin and death. No power exerts such strength that the mighty hand of God cannot overcome.

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v. 20-30 - David then moves to claim his faithfulness to God during his difficult trial. He has kept the ways of the Lord; he kept the statutes of God, and was blameless before him. So the Lord rewarded David and delivered him. God loves the righteous and showers them in mercy. God shines as a  lamp to David, protecting him from his enemies and from sin. His love strengthens David as he follows the perfect way of God.

v. 31-45 - The Psalm begins to move to a great celebration of the work of God's victory. "For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?" (31). God has been his refuge and has equipped him with strength. He has been his shield and God has given him his support. It is by the power of God that David has been granted victory and his enemies destroyed like a fine dust. God has brought victory to the divinely appointed king.

v. 46-50 - The Psalm concludes with an important reflection on God's faithfulness to his anointed King. David summarizes, "The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation.” God has saved and delivered his anointed. God spared and rescued David from his enemies.

The last two verses serve as important reminders for us as we understand the flow of redemptive history. God brings great salvation to his king and shows love to his anointed. God has specifically chosen David and his offspring to bless and to bring about a blessing to others. As we look at the ways in which God rescued David from his enemies, God would rescue the greater David from his enemies. Many years down the road, another offspring of David would be anointed in the Holy Spirit as the divinely appointed King.

The God-man Jesus Christ was arrested and flung into the rushing waters of blood-thirsty men who sought his life. Yet, God was with his king. Through his flogging and crucifixion, God would not abandon his anointed. On the third day, God would raise his son to victory overcoming his enemies and conquering sin and death.

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Like Israel, our blessing is tied to God's blessing of the King. The victory of Jesus is our own victory, given to us by the mighty hand of God the Father. Through Jesus we share in his victory and we share in the glory of God's salvation as recipients of divine grace. God shows his steadfast love not only to his anointed, but to those who by faith submit their lives under his rule.

Prayer Guide

  • How has God brought you victory in your life? How has he crushed your enemies? Praise the Lord for his redemption.
  • Thank God that he honors those who by faith in Jesus seek to live righteously.
  • Praise the Lord for his power, greatness, and salvation.
  • Thank the Lord that he blesses his anointed, and that by faith we get to share in the blessed victory of Jesus Christ.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 2

The Psalms are not just songs, but prayers. By studying the Psalms we can learn how to better pray and engage in communion with God. Each Thursday I’ll be posting a commentary and prayer guide for the Psalms to help us learn and practice prayer.

“And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “ ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’” (Acts 13:32–33, ESV)

We are hard wired for a King. God has designed us is to long for a good and just ruler to bring victory. Although it is hard to recognize in a democratic society, there is still great evidence that human beings naturally long for a King. Consider our love for celebrities, our passionate cheering for our sports teams, or the messianic anticipation we put on political leaders to bring justice and change. Each reveal that within the deep recesses of the human heart we long to rejoice in the fame of the victory of a King who brings true justice and change.

Psalm 2 is what is classified as a royal Psalm. It is a psalm about the royal line of Israel and the celebration of God’s blessing on the line of David. This psalm might have been used at the coronation of a King of Judah. However, as we look at Psalm 2 through the revelation of Jesus Christ, we see how Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises God has made both to Abraham and to David. Jesus is the begotten of God who rules and reigns over the earth.

Commentary

v. 1–3. The world naturally revolts against the Lord’s anointed. God’s kingdom is continually being questioned and attacked by the nations. The starting question here is one that is always on the minds of God’s people. “Why do the nation rage and the peoples plot in vain?” Why does the world resist the reign and rule of God’s chosen king? As we look at the world all around us the world seems to be conspiring against God. Their sinful prideful hearts refuse to be ruled by another. The wicked want the autonomy that comes with independence. They refuse to submit to the true King. As a result, they conspire together against the anointed one of the Lord. Like wild horses they refuse to submit to the will of the rider.

The Christian must never forget that this world is in rebellion against God. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes, and there is great need for a righteous King. The struggle throughout the whole bible has been between the offspring of God and the offspring of the serpent. Since sins entrance into the world there has only been two sides to take – the kingdom of darkness or the kingdom of light. There is no third way. As the nations continue to rage against one another they also rage against God. In violence, deceit, oppression, and murder they force their own way while rejecting the rule of the anointed of God.

v. 4–5. The second stanza is a foil of the previous one. While the nations are raging below, God above is laughing. Their efforts of rebellion are laughable to him. It is a war they cannot win. For God is God over the universe. He holds the nations like a drop in the bucket. Even the mightiest of empires and the vilest violence of earthly kings are but a bucket of water to kick over. The people’s plotting is no threat to God. Rather, He sits above and speaks to them in anger. God’s just wrath comes out for his mouth, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

God’s solution to the raging of the peoples of the earth is to set a King above them. However this isn’t just any King. God is going to place this king as ruler over ever kingdom of the earth. God is going to squash the rebellion of humanity.

This is important for us to remember as we see the wicked revolting in the world this very day. Justice will be had. God’s wrath will be poured out. Justice will come by his mighty right hand through the anointed of the Lord. No matter how dark it might get in our age, the Lord will come to execute justice – justice administered by this king.

v. 7–9. In this stanza the anointed king of God opens his mouth. He speaks of the divine decree of God, a decree which is fixed by His will. “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” The Davidic King is established by God himself. He is the son of God, and begotten by Him. 2 Sam 7:14 tells us that God is going take the son of David as His own son. The promise God makes to the Davidic dynasty is fixed by the decree of God.

As we look through the lens of the New Testament, we see clearly how this son of David is the son of God. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises God made to the line of David and Jesus is the true son. As a result, he receives all the privileges outlined in this royal Psalm. He will receive the nations as his inheritance. He will own the ends of the earth as his possession. He is the one filled with the power of God to shatter his enemies like a steel rod against a clay pot. This son of God will rule over everything. All the earth will be under his reign and rule. Those who rebel and reject his reign, he will destroy.

v. 10–12. The last stanza turns back our attention to the nations raging and their kings. The psalmist gives them some counsel in light of God’s rule through His son. They are told to be wise and be warned. The conspiring nations are up against a force they do not realize. For as they conspire against the Lord’s anointed, they conspire against the Lord himself. The nations are called to serve and fear the Lord. The nations of the earth are called to recognize the anointed of the Lord as Lord over all. They are urged to kiss the son as a sign of their submission to him and their loyalty. If they do no recognize the rule of the King then his anger and wrath will destroy them. Yet, for those who recognize his divine authority and love him, they will be blessed as they take refuge in the true King. Our eternity is decided by our relationship to the King. If it is one of rebellion it will be our eternal ruin. If it is one of love and fear, then it will be for our eternal blessing.

Gospel Application. As we think about Psalm 2, it is easy to see Jesus as the fulfillment. In fact the early church saw Jesus as the fulfillment of this Psalm and it is even quoted directly in the opening of Hebrews (Heb 1:5) and referred to later on in the book describing him as the appointed Kingly high priest of God in the order of Melchizedek (Heb 5:5). It is also referenced by Paul in Antioch seeing Jesus as the direct fulfillment of Psalm 2 (Acts 13:33). For Paul, just as Psalm 2 was probably sung at the coronation of a new King, Jesus coronation was at his resurrection. He has ascended to his throne and reigns and rules even now.

Jesus is the king over all. He is coming again with all divine authority to bring about his kingdom in total. As we wait for the full arrival of the kingdom of God, we do so knowing that the raging and plotting of the wicked is futile. Yes, the kingdom of darkness might have moments of brief victory, but their destruction is fixed. The wicked may win a skirmish here or there, but the war is lost. Every human being must decide, “Will I live in the blessedness and forgiveness of the King or will I resist, rebel, and be crushed by Him?” Those who take refuge in Jesus will be blessed, because he is the shelter from the wrath of God as he takes it on himself on the cross. By the blood of Jesus he provides not only victory but peace for those who trust Him and live under his benevolent rule.

Prayer Guide

  • Pray longing for the Kingdom of God to come. Pray in anticipation longing for Jesus’ return. Pray that God’s “kingdom would come and his will be done”.
  • Thank God in your prayers that as a just God he will not allow the wicked to go unpunished.
  • Praise God for sending the King that our broken world needs.Thank God for Jesus the King that both brings the Father Glory and you refuge.
  • Ask God to help you serve Jesus with both fear and joy.
  • Confess areas of your life that you struggle to submit to Jesus. What areas is he not Lord over? Take some time in your prayers to “Kiss the son”, showing both love and devotion to him.

A King's Generosity

Have you ever received someone's incredible generosity? Have you ever been so richly blessed for no reason at all? This is exactly what God does for us in Jesus Christ.  In the OT in the book of 2 Samuel we are able to see a foreshadow of the beauty of the Gospel in King David. In 2 Samuel 9 the grace of King David points to the grace of King Jesus. David is quite prosperous as king thanks to the Lord's favor (2 Sam 8). In chapter 9, David begins to look for a relative of his friend Jonathan whom he can shower with blessings.  How great is God that he graciously seeks us out! So to David seeks and finds a crippled son of Jonathan named Mephibosheth. David brings him in before him and shows him great generosity "for the sake of his father Jonathan".

Mephibosheth was fearful to come before King David. He was afraid rightly so for the glory and the power of the king could have executed poor crippled Mephibosheth right then and there. Mephibosheth knew of the struggle between his grandfather Saul and David. The rivarly was aware by all the nation, especially in the family. We are first introduced to this son of Jonathan in 2 Samuel 4:4. At the news of the death of his grandfather and father, Mephibosheth fleed with his nurse. The boy was but five years old at the time. From his childhood he lived in fear as David ascended to power. Would David it have it out for him because of his grandfather Saul? Or whould he be gracious on account of Jonathan? Did Mephibosheth even know of the friendship his father shared with David? Knowing this we can understand his fear approaching the throne of the King. Expecting death, he received life. Exepecting anger form the king he received joy. All this on account of his father Jonathan. So it is with us concerning Christ.  We receive all our blessings and rewards not on our own righteousness, but solely because of the righteousness of Christ.

So to are we cripplied in helplessness. Unable to find prestige our honor because of our weakness. Our sin has crippled our feet. Yet God shows profound mercy to us, not through any doing of our own, but through the righteousness of Christ. In this passage Jonathan's righteousness is imputed to his son in King David's eyes. Mephibosheth did nothing to earn the favor of David other than the fact he is the seed of his father Jonathan. So do we receive our righteousness before God.

We receive it, not on the account of our own, but on the account of Christ, credited to us. We share the blessings of God because we to are found the blood of Christ, the second adam. Washed in his blood we too can be found righteous and blameless before God. This righteousness credited to us gives us access to God himself. Just as Mephibosheth always ate at the Kings table, so to will we for all eternity eat with the King of heaven and earth.

This story is an amazing foreshadow of the Gospel, a type that finds its meaning in Christ. Take heart today that God has loved you in lavishing you with blessing. Fall on your knees in worship, knowing it is only because of Christ you are so lavishly blessed!

Worship the God of the Storm

Power. Amazing power. Gusting winds, howling rains, tar soaked skies. Even the greatest of men stand humbled before the power of nature. We can't predict it. We can't control it. We can't stop it. Despite all the ingenuity of man, we still cower in fear and the fierce strength of creation. Hurricanes make us stop and realize that we are still human. Even though we think we are gods as we stroll the earth, nature reminds us that there is a power beyond our feeble bodies. Even more, nature points us to an even more forgotten a reality. There is a God that reigns over the storm. The creator rules his world with an iron scepter. With it He commands the winds to blow and authorizes lighting bolts to strike.

When we come face to face with this truth we can't help but grovel in humility and worship. The disciples experienced this. Jesus is on the boat. A storm approaches. The boat is tossed around like a toy in a tub. The disciples panic in fear, knowing there precious life will be taken in this deadly storm. But the disciples didn't realize who was in the boat with them, the God of the storm.

Jesus sees the storm and utters a command, as a general commands his army.

"Peace, be still"

The mighty winds. The pouring rains. The mighty waves. They all stop at the command of the king of all the universe. Jesus is not just the savior of the world, he is the king of the world.

What is the proper response to this Jesus? Worship. Who is this Jesus that even the wind and the waves obey him? He is God. He is King. Worship him.