My favorite psalm by far is Psalm 119. Even though it is the longest psalm, and the longest chapter in the Bible, I love reading and rereading this section of Scripture. It never gets old!
If you wanted to give this psalm a name or a title, a good one would be “The Glories of God’s Word” or “A Love for the Word of God.” Psalm 119 has 176 verses, making it the longest chapter in the Bible. In those 176 verses, God’s Word is referenced 179 times, at least once in every verse but five (verses 84, 90, 121, 122, 132 do not have a direct reference to God’s word in some fashion).
It is likely that David wrote this Psalm. However, it is unclear under what circumstances he composed it. It is quite possible that this is a variation of his daily journal, perhaps gathered and composed over the course of his life. His usage of phrases such as “a young man,” in verses 9, 99, 100, 141, and “an old man,” in verses 84-87, may indicate that this is David’s spiritual diary. If so, it is worthy of imitating. God keeps a diary even if we don’t (see Malachi 3:16-18; Romans 14:12).
Most of the time, we read Psalm 103 and we think of our worship of God. And that is a correct view of this psalm, but it falls short of completely understanding this passage. In this psalm, we not only see worship, but we can see why we are to worship.
David wrote this psalm as a song of worship to God, and in the first few verses, he gives us at least four reasons to worship God based on his mercy. But that’s not all this psalm offers. In the next segment of this psalm, David expounds upon God’s grace. This is the why behind the how of worship. God’s grace is why David offers his praise; and he realizes that he is really unworthy of it at all.
Look at verse 6-13:
The Lord performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
In these verses, David shows us three characteristics of God’s grace.
Psalm 103 is one of joyous praise, perhaps one of the clearest examples of the pure praise in the Bible. If you take a good look at these twenty-two verses, you can see that this psalm is addressed to the Lord; that David not only invited his own soul but the soul of every individual, to join with Him in worship and praise to God. Not one single petition is found here.
This psalm is a vivid expression of worship. Many tend to look at prayer as only an avenue to seek God’s blessings. This is certainly one phase of prayer (Matthew 7:7-8), but not the main part of it. Prayer offers a greater opportunity to pour out our heart’s affection to God, and to worship him with our whole heart.
Psalm 103 gives light, it gives life, and it brings hope to us. There is much that you can glean from these verses. But, almost as the very first thing, David reveals some attributes of God’s character that are worthy of praise all on their own. There are at least four things that stand out in the first five verses alone:
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
One of the things I think we are really bad at, as humans, is learning from the past. I believe that we tend to get so focused on the present, or what might come, and we neglect to learn lessons from our history… Much needed lessons. Psalm 78 is a history lesson that can teach us some of those lessons.
In Psalm 78, the psalmist desires to teach the nation of Israel something about God’s character, and in order to do this, he goes back into Israel’s history and gives an example of God’s faithfulness in spite of their rebellion. Like a road map, it lays out the course that Israel has taken through the generations, and shows how God continues to be faithful.
Despite all God had done for them, and all He had been to the Israelites, they didn’t keep His covenant and they refused to walk in His ways. They were a redeemed people, yet they were rebellious, full of complaining, and despised the provisions that God gave them. For their rebellion, their revolt and defiance of His authority, God brought punishment and retribution upon them. When the people repented, pardon was given. God’s grace led them to the land of promise.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful expressions of redemption can be found in Psalm 51. In fact, this may well be one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture.
Psalm 51 is an expression of repentance. And it displays the possibility of redemption for those who are willing to confess their sin and repent of it.
It is the result of David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba. You probably know the story found in 2 Samuel 11-12. David saw a beautiful woman whom he desired. He took her and committed adultery with her, resulting in a pregnancy. In order to cover his tracks, he tried to have the woman’s husband come home from war and visit is wife. When that failed, he had the husband murdered. And he thought he got away with it.
But he didn’t. God knew what David had done, and sent the prophet Nathan to convict David of his sin. It worked. David repented, and wrote Psalm 51 as a result.
That’s a very condensed version of the events that transpired, but I think you get the big idea. What David’s words in Psalm 51 show is that there is power in confessing our sin and repenting of it before God.
Psalm 51 can be broken into three different sections, and show us the progression he went through as he turned from his sin and returned to God.
Psalm 37 is one of what many call the “Security Psalms,” which ranges from Psalm 32 to Psalm 37. Last week, I shared some thoughts on the phrase found in this psalm, “do not fret.” Now I want to look at the answer to that.
Worry, or fretting, at the most basic level, is a feeling of insecurity. Many people believe that the opposite of worry is contentment, peace, or calmness. I don’t think any of those provide a complete picture of what replaces worry. God tells us not to worry, and he does say that we will receive peace and contentment as a result, but that’s not the basic root of the issue.
What we are called to instead of worry and fear… is trust.
Trust is the opposite of worry. Trust is what we are called to do. Peace and contentment will come as a result. But if we don’t have that trust, that faith, worry will continually overtake us.
Trusting God in the face of difficult circumstances can be very difficult at times. Fortunately, the same psalm that tells us not to worry also tells us how to trust. Psalm 37 gives us five different ways to build and strengthen our trust in the Lord.
Psalms 32-37 are often called the “Security Psalms.” This is a series of psalms of David, written at times in his life when he had to rely on God for his his security, and not on his own efforts.
Our natural inclination when things get crazy is to worry about the outcome. It’s human nature. And although the Bible commands us to avoid it, we find that hard to accomplish most of the time. Worry is ultimately a lack of trust. We see our own inability to control things, and we fret over them, knowing that we can do nothing about it.
Psalm 37 is the final portion of this series of Security Psalms, and is one of the most poignant. In it, David addresses our inclination to worry, and then gives us an alternative.
David was often faced with troubling enemies. He was pursued by Saul before he became king, and faced threats from multiple foreign nations during his reign. He also faced a threat that came from his own son, who attempted to take the kingdom from him in rebellion. David had to rely on God for his sense of security.
In Psalm 37, we can see his trust in God come through clearly.
First, David assures us that the prosperity of our enemies is short lived, and that their fall is self-evident in their own nature. The wicked are their own worst enemy. But in stark contrast, the way of the righteous is secure, because it is established by God, and he provides safety to those who follow him.