Psalm 8 is a psalm of praise to the God of Heaven (v. 1, 9). It is very straightforward and reminds us of the majesty of God and the place of man, God’s creation. The words of this psalm capture a man who is in awe of His God (v. 3-4).
This psalm holds a special place because there are sections that are connected with Jesus and His work on earth. The first place is recorded in verse 2. When Jesus entered Jerusalem during His last week, the children cried, “Hosanna to the son of David,” and displeased the chief priests and elders (Matt. 21:15). When they confronted Jesus about this, Christ asked them if they had never read Psalm 8:2. The children understood and declared the truth boldly when others might have been afraid to do so.
The beauty of God’s creation is apparent to all – even the smallest and weakest among us! Note in Matthew 21:15 that the weak ones showed the most strength as they spoke boldly and without fear before the leaders of the people. Do we not stand amazed at our children’s sincerity, boldness, and, yes, bluntness? Perhaps while we are teaching our children about life and the Lord (Eph. 6:4), we need to stop and learn some lessons from them (I Cor. 14:20)!
Jesus thought this was the case because when the chief priests and elders confronted Jesus, He reminded them of Psalm 8:2. Yes, from the mouths of babes (children), Thou has perfected praise! Is there anything more precious to our ears than hearing small children sing praises to God at the top of their lungs or hear them speak about their love for Jesus, whom they have not met (I Pet. 1:8-9; Jn. 20:29)?
When David considered the power of God, His majesty, and might, all he could do was ask, “What is man that thou art mindful of him?” (Ps. 8:4). I encourage you to go out on a starry night and really watch and take in the amazing night sky. Stand and watch the ocean waves on a sunny day, or gaze at the “purple mountain’s majesty,” and you will repeat the words of David here!
Last, notice the description of man in v. 5-7. Here, we not only see a connection with Genesis 1:26-28 but also with Christ, as described in Hebrews 2:6-10. Jesus Christ came to the earth, lived as a man, and died upon the cross so that we might be saved. Just as man is “a little lower than the angels,” this is the position Jesus took (Phil. 2:5-10) that He might show us how to face temptation (Heb. 4:15; Matt. 4:1-11), and He might be the perfect sacrifice for man’s sin!
Thus, in a psalm praising God for His majesty and in awe of His power and the glory bestowed to man, we today stand in awe of how this perfect praise points to a perfect Savior!
- 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
The psalms were songs sung by the Hebrews through the generations. While we know David wrote the majority of psalms, we see men like Moses, Solomon, Asaph, the Korahites, and others also penning these inspired songs. The psalms are true faith-building writings and worthy of our reading and study. These collected works have a context, and it would do us well to consider the teachings, the poetry, and the wisdom contained therein.
The first psalm clearly distinguishes between the righteous and wicked (v. 1, 4). This impresses me as I note that God says this is a distinction we can understand. Take note of many of our movies, TV shows, written works, games, internet shows, etc., and see how so many “good guys” also entertain doing evil when necessary. Further, it is not uncommon to see some “bad guys” portrayed as lovable or even “misunderstood.” The “white hats” and “black hats” that populated our entertainment in bygone days no longer exist! No wonder our children are not sure what is right and wrong when they are influenced by popular media daily! Parents, where are you (Eph. 6:4)? Christians, where are you (Matt. 5:14-16)?
Let us return to the Bible. Read Psalm 1 to your children today. Read it today for your personal application (Rom. 15:4)! When you do, you will see a clear distinction between the righteous and wicked (Ps. 1:1, 4). The difference in the kind of lives these men live could not be more apparent after reading this psalm! One lives a life of stability and focus (v. 3). He will prosper! The other lives a life of uncertainty and loss (v. 4)! Further, you will be shown what makes the righteous man righteous (v. 2-3) and the wicked man wicked (v. 4-5). Lastly, we are shown the results of righteous and wicked living (v. 3, 6).
Psalm 1 demands our attention and study (“day and night,” v. 2). Let us take time to consider this psalm well and then compare it to the teachings of Christ and the apostles. We will see the connections right away and see how it is best to do things the Lord’s way. Would God consider you a godly or ungodly person? Why did you answer the way you did? Compare yourself to Psalm 1 and see God’s definition of godly and ungodly, of who is “blessed” and who is “cursed”!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs