Psalm 17 is titled “a prayer of David.” Those who have spent years in study of this book suggest that Psalms 16-18 are to be linked together. This prayer of David is prayed from the standpoint of a man trying to do things God’s way, and then facing enemies (v. 9) who are surrounding him (v. 10), and striving to harm him (v. 11-13). Yet, it is from God that he will get deliverance (v. 13-15).
This psalm is a tribute to God's greatness, but also a reminder to us. It first reminds us that David faced problems just like we do today. It is not that King David had no problems, or they were removed somehow (Ecc. 1:9-11).
Secondly, we are reminded that whatever problems we face need to be given to God (I Pet. 5:7). When we refuse to do this, we are telling God we will do it on our own. This is a mistake (Jer. 10:23; Ps. 17:5)! Let’s turn our concerns and care over to God and allow Him to be in charge for a change! See what happens then.
Let us be reminded that it is God who has our best interests in mind, not man (Ps. 17:6-7). When we observe the actions of men, we see their wickedness on many occasions (v. 9-12). Very few men have our best interests in mind. Conversely, God always wants what is best for us! This is what love does (I Cor 13:4-8), and God is love (I Jn. 4:8)!
Psalms 16-18 are also connected because these passages fit well with the life of Christ. In reading this text, we see how this is so. Christ approached God in prayer and in life with genuine speech (v. 1). He called upon God, trusting that God would hear, and He did (v 6). God kept Jesus (and David, and others) as “the apple of the eye” (v. 8). This figure of speech means someone close to you, someone special. Certainly Jesus would fit that description!
Christ was surrounded by enemies and the wicked, but trusted in God (v. 9-13). God delivered, and He will deliver men today! Read Psalm 17:15 and note the trust we can have in God because of what He has done for us! This is a psalm of comfort when the hard times come, and we ought to read it again and again.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Psalm 7 - 6/4/22
This psalm reminds us that while enemies can come from “without,” they can also come from “within”! Paul warned the Ephesians about this reality with Christians in Acts 20:28-32. In this reading, please note that this psalm was penned as a result of the actions of “Cush, the Benjamite.” There is some confusion about who “Cush” might have been, but there is no mistaking the term “Benjamite.” Remember that David was from Judah. Benjamin was one of the other Israelite tribes. This means David was crying to God for deliverance from his own people!
Sadly, harm will come to us from those closest to us at times. This is not something we like to think about, but remember that even Jesus went to ‘his own, and his own received him not” (Jn. 1:11)! It was Paul who warned the elders that, “of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). Another example is Diotrephes (III Jn. 9-10). He would have been among the brethren John addressed in his letter. He would not have been someone from “outside” but a member of the congregation who loved the “preeminence”!
As we read Psalm 7, it doesn’t escape my notice that David cries for God’s justice in this case. Punishment needs to come from the Lord in this matter (Ps. 7:10-11). Yes, let us remember that God needs to be the One who punishes. It is not for us to take vengeance on others (Rom. 12:19). “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (Jas. 1:20).
We need to read the pronouns carefully in this song, but notice how the men who turn to wickedness and hurt themselves in the end (Ps. 7:15-16). This is the way of the wicked. Wicked schemes and actions will ultimately fail! Sin will not prevail, but righteousness will (v. 9-10)! David declares this knowledge, but no doubt, it is still hard to endure under such conditions (v. 1, 14). How much harder is it when we see people acting in an evil way who should know better? Remember, this was a “Benjamite” who had done this to David! It was not a Philistine, Ammonite, Moabite, or some other “heathen” from a foreign nation!
A few things we can learn from this psalm include:
1. Let us make sure we are not acting as the Benjamite. Let us be a people who are living right and speaking right (Phil. 4:8-9; Jn. 13:34-35).
2. Let us understand that even brethren can disappoint us at times. Sometimes, they do worse than this and berate and hurt us. Let us be like David and trust that God sees and knows what is happening in those situations. He will take care of things if we are patient and allow Him to do His work (Ps. 7:1, 9-11)!
Reread Psalm 7 and take comfort in God who sees and knows. Trust Him, and let us find the good even when hard times are upon us, and people (especially brethren) wish to hurt us (II Tim. 3:12). Take all of your care to God as David did (I Pet. 5:7), and know God sees and is ready to help us in our troubles.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Psalm 5 “Another Morning Prayer”
Here we have another morning prayer offered to God in song (Ps. 5:2-3). In it, we find praise to God for His character and the condemnation of the character of evil men. It clarifies what kind of God David (and we) are worshipping (Jn. 4:24; Josh. 24:14). Jehovah is not like the pagan gods of the nations. Those gods were often portrayed as nothing more than glorified men. They would act like men, sin as men, etc. David declares that God does not take pleasure in wickedness (v. 4). He hates all who work iniquity (v. 5; Heb. 1:9).
Note the contrast as David prays God will destroy the evildoers (v. 6, 9-10) while praying for God’s fellowship when doing righteously (v. 7-8, 11-12). This recurring theme is taught throughout the Old and New Testaments. There is such a thing as right/wrong, as godly/ungodly, and we need to recognize the distinction. Our world wishes to blur these “lines” until we cannot tell righteous from unrighteous. Friends, that is a tactic of the devil. “Woe” to people who accept this false doctrine and act this way (Isa. 5:20-25).
There is a beauty in the simplicity of David’s prayer. At the same time, there is a depth that demands our contemplation. Though “selah” is not used in this psalm, it is proper to pause and consider what is said (II Cor. 13:5). Where do I fit in this psalm? Am I described in verses like 5-6 or 9-10? Am I described in verses like 7-9 or 11-12?
Verses 4 and 7 speak of evil not dwelling with God and of David going to God’s house. While this conjures up many thoughts, let me suggest that David is speaking of fellowship at its most basic. We will see this concept repeated throughout the psalms. David is focused on making sure he is in fellowship with God, and he often describes this with terms like dwelling in God’s house (v. 7; Ps. 23:6; etc.). In our modern thinking, we might equate this with Heaven, but I understand this to mean something David intends to experience on earth as well. Fellowship with God is realized now. While we look forward to Heaven one day, let us remember our fellowship and closeness with God are experienced while we are on earth.
Go back and read Psalm 5. Perhaps this is a psalm we need to pray every morning as David did!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Psalm 3 “A Morning Prayer”
The context of Psalm three surrounds the time when David was running from Absalom (II Sam. 15-18). I find it comforting and humbling to see David throwing himself on God’s mercy in this psalm. He cries to God concerning his enemies. Though David is king, he does not write words to the effect that he will exact revenge on his enemies (Ps. 94:1-2; Nah. 1:2-3; Deut. 32:35; Prov. 24:29; Rom. 12:17, 19)! Instead, he writes a psalm praying to God for forgiveness and that God would “smite” or “slap” (The Israel Bible) his enemies so hard that He will break their teeth (v. 7)!
Psalm 3 reminds me of Psalm 23 at times. For example, in both songs, David speaks of his enemies and how God will deliver him. In the case of Psalm 3, David’s enemies tried to discourage him and told him God would not help (v. 2). Yet, he knew the truth and knew when he cried to God, God heard him (v. 3-4), sustained him (v. 5), and defended him (v. 7). Why was David so confident? It was because he knew the source of his salvation (v. 8. Dear Christian, if you are discouraged, hurt, and insulted, please read Psalm 3 and be reminded who sustains, defends, and has saved you (Rom. 15:4)!
“Salvation (deliverance, TIB) belongs to the Lord” is what we learn in Psalm 3:8. David maintained his focus in a time of hardship, confusion, and hurt that arose from his own family. This statement is repeated when Jonah was swallowed by the great fish (Jonah 2). I find it interesting and not at all coincidental that when Jonah was suffering, he, like David, knew where to turn (Jonah 2:9)! Yes, salvation is of the Lord! It belongs to Him! If I am going to have any kind of deliverance, I need to turn to the Lord, not away from Him!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
P.S. In this psalm, we are introduced to the word “selah.” This word is seen throughout the Psalms. It is an archaic word, so old that folks have argued about its meaning for centuries. Perhaps it is a rest (just as we have “rests” in our music), crescendo, or similar musical direction. If you like, as you come to the word “selah” in your reading, rest! If this is the instruction, do not ignore it! Pause and reflect on what you read. Take it in and then proceed to the next section.
Other scholars suggest that “selah” is to be sung in the psalm. They say its meaning is similar to “amen,” or “hallelujah,” as a word of praise or exhortation. If this is the case, when you read “selah,” pause, reflect, say “Amen!” or “Praise to Jehovah!” and then continue reading with a refreshed and focused mind. See how it changes how you read this inspired poetry.
Whatever this term means, please pay attention to it as you read the psalms and note where it is written. I think the word placement (context) reveals much about this word.
Psalm 4 “An Evening Prayer”
In our first article (Psalm 1), we noted that the psalms have a context and often complement each other. An example of such is seen in Psalms 3 and 4. These psalms complement each other and are often referred to as morning and evening prayers. No doubt, Psalm 4 is referred to as the evening prayer based on verse 8.
Psalm 4 is a psalm of trust. David cries out for God to hear him. He knows God has heard him in the past (v. 1), and with this confidence, he knows God will do it again. Though his enemies continue to harass him, longing for what is worthless and seeking falsehoods (v. 2, LSB), David knows God hears him (v. 3). What confidence and what trust! Friends, do you have this kind of trust in God today? Will He hear you when you call to Him? If not, why not (I Pet. 3:10-12)?
David then tells his enemies to turn to the Lord (v. 4). They needed to “offer the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord” (v. 5)! Is this not, in fact, the path to utterly destroying your enemies? Remind them of their need to be right with God so you can work together! By making your enemy a friend, we destroy this one for good. What did Jesus say about this? Read Matthew 5:43-48 and see if Jesus was not teaching the same principle as David was some 1000 years earlier. This is what we need to be doing today for our enemies. Bring them to the Lord (Mk. 16:15; II Tim. 2:2)!
Despite discouraging words from others (v. 6), David knows where his source of light, gladness, and peace comes (v. 7-8). It is God, and it is His peace (that passes all understanding, Phil. 4:7) that encourages, blesses, and comforts David (v. 8). He can sleep and pillow his head on the calm assurance of the Lord. The enemies come and go, and their harmful words come and go, but God remains!
Friends, can you pillow your head on the promises of God? Are you His child? If not, you can become one today and have the sweet assurance that filled David night and day (Mk. 16:16; Acts 22:16)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs