“I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies …. The Lord liveth and blessed be my rock: and let the God of my salvation be exalted” (Ps. 18:3, 46). If you sang those verses as you read them, you are truly a blessed person. Though we will never know the tune (or cadence) to which David set Psalm 18, modern men have set some of this psalm to music that allows us to sing it.
Psalm 18 was David’s cry of thanksgiving after being delivered from Saul. It has the unique position of being a psalm quoted almost entirely in II Samuel 22 also. When reading First Samuel, we know David was chased by Saul for a while when it was clear that he was to be king instead of Jonathan (I Sam. 18:10-26:25). When David killed Goliath, the women sang, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (I Sam. 18:7). After this event, and seeing how the people responded to David, Saul became jealous and was determined to kill him. Thankfully, this did not happen. At the same time, David was faced with opportunities to kill Saul, but refused to kill the “Lord’s anointed.” As a result, God caused an end to the hostilities when Saul was made aware that his life could have been taken by David, but it wasn’t (I Sam. 26:21).
An interesting fact about this Psalm is that some suggest the original word used was not “Saul” but “Sheol” (grave) that was used in that first paragraph. This was referred to in Psalm 18:5, also. If it was actually David praising God for delivering him from the grave, it must certainly include praise for his deliverance from Saul because Saul wanted to kill him! Either way, (whether Saul or Sheol) David’s praise and gratitude to God are just as real, as vibrant, and this attitude needs to be seen today!
I find it fascinating that the praise David gives God in verse 2 is repeated throughout the psalm. David speaks of God as …
Rock (v. 2, 31, 46) – not a mere pebble, but a large rock where thousands might stand and even build their homes! Think of Matthew 16:18. This rock will stand!
Fortress (v. 2) – In other words, He’s a fortified refuge for God’s people! They have a place to go when they need protection and comfort.
Deliverer (v. 2, 17, 19, 40, 43, 48, 50) – He delivers us from the danger and sin in this world if we let Him.
Strength (v. 2, 17b, 29, 32, 34, 39) – Since we are weak, He provides strength!
Buckler/Shield (v. 2, 30, 35) – He has the shield to help us when Satan attacks. In Ephesians, Paul wants all Christians to carry the “shield of faith” to “quench the fiery darts (arrows) of the wicked” (Eph. 6:16).
Horn (v. 2, 33-34) – just as an animal’s horn is used for protection, so God is that “horn of salvation,” protecting us from spiritual dangers, like Satan, while we are on earth.
High Tower (v. 2) – though the term “tower” is not used, the reference to God being “on high” or above us is seen in verses 13-14, and 16.
David learned about God from experience. Have we learned to trust in God as David did? If not, why not? He loves and cares for us and we need to turn to Him for everything in this life!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
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 14 is interesting for a few reasons. One is that it is repeated almost totally in “Book 2” (Ps. 53). There are some minor differences, but it is essentially the same psalm, except for the context. In an earlier study, we made the point that the psalms have a context, just as every other Bible book, chapter, and verse. In his Psalms commentary, Evan Blackmore makes this point, noting that Psalm 14 is set in a context where we see the progressive emphasis turning from the destiny of the wicked to the destiny of the righteous in Psalms 11-14. In contrast, Psalm 53 is set in a context (Ps. 52-56) of only the punishment of the wicked (Evan Blackmore. The Book of Psalms, 2017. Vol. 1. p. 202).
Digging into the text, we see the well-known statement about the fool saying there is no God (v. 1). Before we leave this, please notice I did not quote this verse correctly! “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God” is correct. Notice there is nothing here said about speaking verbally or making some verbal affirmation. The fool has denied God “in his heart.” Could it be possible that I have denied God but outwardly am still acting like a disciple? Perhaps I should ask, is it possible that I “have a name that (I) live” but am dead (Rev. 3:1)? This will not be a state you live in for long! When we deny God, we are on a downward spiral to destruction, losing our reputations and our souls (Rom. 1:18-31)!
I am intrigued that the word “fool” in Psalm 14 (and 53) is the word “Nabal” in the Hebrew. Does this sound familiar? Read I Samuel 25 and refresh your memory! I am not suggesting David meant this man specifically in this psalm, but I think by adding I Samuel 25 to our study, we see a living example of what David was talking about in Psalm 14. Using the word “fool” is not a minor thing. In this context, it is not necessarily someone lacking intelligence but someone who rebels against God. His rebellion is so deep that he even denies the existence of His creator while he breathes the air so graciously given to him (Rom. 1:28; II Pet. 2:1).
“There is none that doeth good …. no not one” (Ps. 14:1, 3), and the counterpart in Psalm 53 are quoted in Romans 3. These words remind us that our salvation is a result of God’s grace! Read Psalm 14:2-4, and it is abundantly clear that no one can “earn” salvation (Lk. 17:10), but we can follow the Lord’s conditions and find salvation when we do what He commands (Mk. 16:16; Titus 2:11-12). This is the least we can do!
The final verse is a prayer that salvation would come to the people. Remember, David has spoken in clear terms about the issue of rebellion (v. 1), the people doing nothing good (v. 1, 3), how the people were gone aside (kind of like, “all we like sheep have gone astray,” Isa. 53:6a), and they were “workers of iniquity” (v. 4). This is a direct result of people saying in their hearts, “there is no God”! Is there any wonder why David would cry for salvation from Zion (Ps. 14:7)? In this case, Zion has to do with the Lord’s dwelling-place, not a point on a map. David yearns for His people’s salvation from God “when Yahweh restores His captive people” (LSB). It reminds me of Paul’s prayer in Romans 10:1-3.
Do we look at our fellow man and cry like this to God? If not, why not? “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (Jas. 5:16). Many are in sin and need to have their eyes opened. Are you praying for the “open door” to get the gospel to them (II Thess. 3:1; Col. 4:3)? Have we lost our faith in the power of prayer? I pray not! May we not be guilty of saying in our heart “there is no God.” Saying this “in your heart” will eventually manifest in your actions, just like it did with the Jews in David’s day and the Gentiles in Romans 1!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The 15th psalm is one I have preached, taught in classes, etc. It is a straightforward psalm that tells us how to abide (live) with God. The point David makes in verse one is asking who shall be in God’s presence or enjoy fellowship with God. The rest of the psalm answers this question.
Another interesting point is that Psalm 15 is similar to Psalm 14. As we continue to read, we will see that Psalm 24 borrows some phrases from here, just like Psalm 53 and Psalm 14 are worded similarly. The difference is that Psalm 24 only uses a small piece of Psalm 15, but Psalm 53 repeats Psalm 14 word-for-word.
In the text, we see David’s main question asked in verse 1. It is the same question asked two ways: “Who shall abide in thy tabernacle?” and “Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?” Zion (God’s dwelling) is compared to the tabernacle (tent) or a high hill in this verse. When we look back in the Old Testament, we see the Tabernacle was where God spoke and met (communed) with His people (Ex. 29:42-43, 33:8-9). This is where God’s glory was seen (Ex. 40:34-35). Thus, it is fitting to ask such a question. Please note David did not have the literal tabernacle in mind. We know this based on the rest of the psalm. Again, who can be in God’s presence, ultimately? Imagine being a Jew 3000 years ago and getting to sing this song that spelled out who it is!
Someone who (v. 2-5):
- Walks uprightly or blamelessly. This word would remind the Hebrews of the spotless animal sacrifice they were to offer. He lives a life of integrity, just as John taught (I Jn. 2:6).
- Works righteousness. This was what Peter told Cornelius to do as well (Acts 10:35).
- Speaks the truth “in his heart.” This shows the sincerity of the person. He doesn’t speak the truth only when convenient for him to do so. He is an honest person (Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9)!
- Does not backbite. This is a natural contrast with the last phrase about speaking the truth!
- Does not do evil. This is a demand throughout Scripture. We are not to do evil to people even when they first did evil to us (Rom. 12:19; Matt. 7:12, 5:39-45).
- Does not take a reproach against his neighbor. From this, we see we are not to “discredit” or say evil things against our neighbors. “Who is my neighbor?” Do you remember?
- Rejects the vile person. The righteous man has the right attitude toward evil people. This is not speaking about hatred of the person but a rejection of the deeds of the evil person. One in fellowship with God does not praise evil but rejects it, just like Jesus did (Heb. 1:9)!
- Honors those who fear the Lord. This statement stands as a natural contrast with the last phrase. Since a righteous man rejects the vile person’s ways, he accepts those who fear the Lord! He is in fellowship with everyone who is in fellowship with God (II Jn. 9-11; I Jn. 1:7).
- Swears to his own hurt. This means this person makes a promise and stands by it when it is right. This is especially true when we consider the things we have promised God (Ecc. 5:1-6)! When I made a vow to be a Christian, this means I will be a Christian and follow the Lord regardless of what others say!
- Does not put out his money to usury. This is a little difficult for 21st-century people to understand. Under the Old Testament, God forbade His people from charging interest on debts to anyone but foreigners (Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:35-37; Deut. 23:19-20; Neh. 5; etc.). Thus, a righteous man would not charge interest on debts to his countrymen. A modern application would be not to be oppressive to people or not take advantage of people when they are in a weakened circumstance, financially or otherwise.
- Does not take a bribe. Staying with the theme of “money” and how to use it properly, righteous people do not take bribes! Judas would be an example of someone who did not live Psalm 15:5 (Matt. 26:15)!
Doing these things means we will not be moved (shaken), just as Jesus taught in Matthew 7:24-28! When we look to the New Testament, we see obedience to God emphasized similarly. If I am going to please God, I need to do what He says (Heb. 5:9), be motivated in the right way (I Cor. 13:4-8; Jn. 13:34-35), and treat others correctly (Matt. 7:12). Just as in Old Testament days, it is possible to be in fellowship with God today! Let’s make this our daily goal to “walk in the light” (I Jn. 1:7)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Do you like sad songs? When a song comes on the radio that makes you want to cry or tells about the experience of a broken-hearted person, what does that do to you? Sad songs touch people in ways that joyous songs do not. Sad songs can make one look inwardly to examine oneself. Sad songs can make us upset at the “establishment” or an oppressor. Sad songs allow us to sympathize with the singer.
I believe Psalm 13 is one of the saddest psalms we read. David asks if God will forget him forever (v. 1). How sad! Have we been in situations where we felt alone or abandoned? This is how David feels. Can we sympathize?
I like the way The Israel Bible translates verse two. It says, “How long will I have cares on my mind, grief in my heart all day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?” Have we had times like this?
Verses 3, 5, and 6 show us that within this man still beats a heart of hope. Unlike sad songs men might write today that leave us crying or simply feeling bad for the condition of the singer, David writes a psalm that declares that in such overwhelming sadness, there is hope. “I have trusted in thy mercy” (v. 5). He didn’t deny God had any mercy left! There is still mercy for God’s people, and it abounds. Are we aware of God’s mercy, or are we only seeing the sadness?
Often, when we are hurting the worst, is when God is the closest. He cares! Such times have been compared to when a storm rolls through the land. Lightning flashes, the thunder rolls, violent winds blow, and the rains drench the earth. Yet, all of us know that that bright, shining sun is on the other side of the clouds. It has not gone anywhere and will shine long after the storm is gone.
So it is with God! “I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me” (v. 6). Amen!
I know this is not the only sad song in the Psalms, but this song definitely causes us to look inward and examine and see where our faith really lies! Psalm 13 shows us where our hope needs to be! Where is your hope? Is it in men or God? Where is your faith when the storms rage (Ps. 13:6)?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs