This Psalm is just absolutely jam-packed with gems about God and how God interacts with us his people. It is a psalm full of personal and experiential knowledge of God’s nature and character.
It’s almost like David is explaining in the rest of the Psalm why he says in verse 1; “I will bless the LORD at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
David wants you and I to join him in magnifying the LORD with him, wants us to join in and exalt God’s name (God’s character and attributes) together.
My God answers prayer! (vs4-6,15,17)
David can testify that he called out for God, he enquired after God in threatening life situation after threatening life situation (David was a fugitive fearing for his life for 15yrs!) and he can testify that God answered when he called. More than that God delivered him from all the threats that put fear into his heart. ‘This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles’ (vs6)! And because of this testimony David can declare that the face of those who look to God for their help – their faces are radiant (vs5).
What are you facing today? Call out to your God who answers, who delivers, who saves. Put your trust in the trustworthy ONE, so that your face may radiate on the day that God delivers you.
Angelic Help (vs7)
Angels are ministering spirits sent out by God to serve and protect God’s children (Hebrews 1:14). David can testify to angelic protection, a heavenly body-guard for those who fear God. This reminds me of the moment in Israel’s history when Elisha’s servant feared because of the formidable Syrian army amassed around the city and the servant was afraid and Elisha prayed that God would show him the mighty heavenly host that was arrayed around them to protect them and declared to his servant; “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us (angels) are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:15-17).
Know this. God the Holy Spirit is with you (Hebrews 13:5) and God has sent an angelic body-guard to encamp around you! So, do not fear.
Taste and See (vs8)
We learn in lots of ways, from what we read or hear from others, through modelling etc but experiential learning is one of the most powerful sources of learning. David urges you and I to do as he has done – do ‘taste and see’ that God is a faithful deliverer. This is an invitation an exhortation to find out for ourselves to experience that God is good!
Such knowledge of God hewn out of the experience of everyday life is unshakable and precious! There are no short cuts but this is the exhortation of Scripture for you and I to discover for ourselves what David has discovered – God is good.
David begins this psalm with a declaration of faith (God is his God) and an expression of his feelings toward God whom he calls, “my rock”.
“My Rock” – God is personal immovable and immutable. Because of this God can be trusted, God is worth calling out to in prayer. If God were not God and if God were not personal or immovable or immutable it would not be worth calling out to Him in prayer! Because God is all these things and we can confidently call out to God in prayer.
And yet David’s prayer is also a complaint. Sometimes it feels like God is not hearing, like God is not speaking, as if God is unmoved by our situation or unaware from our perspective.
(vs3-5) In these verses David’s complaint is outlined, it feels like God is treating him no differently to his enemies, he is looking for God to act on his behalf and seemingly hasn’t seen God’s answering his prayers.
What’s happening in your life that feels like God is not hearing, not seeing, not aware, not speaking or answering?
I urge you to lift your eyes again to your God.
Why not declare as David did that God is your ROCK, your FORTRESS (another way of translating the underlying Hebrew word). God can be trusted because He cannot change, will not shift under your feet, God is worthy of our trust even when we can’t see what He is doing or why He is allowing something to happen. So, call out to Him again, put your faith in God again.
The psalm changes in vs6-9 becoming a psalm of praise. David is convinced now that God has heard his cries, his prayers, his lament.
David has been strengthened in his faith, knows God is his strength and his shield (protection), God is the One whom his heart can trust and so He finds help in his moment of need.
And so his heart exults, it jumps for joy (literal translation) and bursts into song! What a transformation when we see God for who he is, when we enter again feeling his presence and the warmth of his love. David had been feeling like God was no where now David’s heart is bursting with praise and thanks and love for God.
Worship is warfare! When we feel like God is distant or disinterested, we should take drastic action, reminding ourselves of the truth about our God our immovable immutable rock who is worthy of our trust and we should begin to worship as warfare against those feelings of doubt choosing to warfare not wallow in those feelings of doubt.
In worship we declare what we believe (God is our ROCK vs1, our SHIELD vs7, the ONE who HELPS us vs7, our STRENGTH vs7 & the SAVING REFUGE OF HIS ANOINTED vs8).
We worship with faith and in worship faith is renewed. And on that foundation of renewed faith we can ASK God for the future (vs9). Amen.
Who is God?
Who can appear before such a God?
Open up for God to come presence Himself with us!
These are questions this Psalm addresses.
God’s supreme authority (vs1-2)
Everything that exists in physical time and space, every atom and sub-atomic particle, every mountain range, every square metre on the planet is God’s! More than that every person who has ever existed, whether they acknowledge God as God or not, was created lovingly by God and for His glory and His purposes (Romans 11:36).
God is unmatched and unrivalled, God made everything and so God owns everything! The maker of something is its owner, they are the one who gets to determine the purpose and value. Since God created everything, God is in supreme authority.
Who can appear before such a God? (Vs3-6)
Greatness, majesty & authority necessitate respect. So, in light of God’s greatness, who can approach His awesome presence?
This God of king David’s, is not just supreme in authority but is also Holy. There is no sin in His presence and so to approach God requires ‘clean hands and a pure heart’ from anyone who enters His presence.
And this introduces a dilemma for you and I!
After all who can claim to have pure hands that have not ever done wrong and a pure heart too that has not ever thought or intended wrong?
No one! (declares Romans 3:10-12)
Yet, I love the unspoken assumption here; there is something hard-wired into us as God’s created image bearers that desires to be the presence of our God and Maker. Yet we have this dilemma, we can’t be in His presence with the state that our hands and hearts are in.
Paul writing to the Romans expresses this moral dilemma and then wonderfully reveals the solution God Himself provided to it;
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25)
As Isaiah proclaimed; if we repent God will purify us from our sin and make us as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18) if we ask Him to. So thank God today for Jesus, thank God for forgiveness and therefore the ability to enter God’s awesome presence.
God wants to come close! (Vs7-10)
What an astounding idea that the God who created and owns everything is the very same God into whose presence we can come through the forgiveness Jesus offers us.
Even more astounding is this, that it is God who takes the initiative and God who wants to come and presence Himself with us!
The image in vs7-10 is of someone at the gate of the walled city of Jerusalem asking to enter and the gatekeepers calling out; ‘Who’s there?’
8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah
The mighty one, the Ancient of Days, the King of glory, the Lord of hosts that’s who is knocking, that’s who wants to dwell amongst us, presence Himself with us! It’s incredible good news. This makes me think of Jesus in Revelation saying;
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice
and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
The King of glory wants to presence Himself with you, with us. We belong in His presence because He has removed our sin from us, given us His perfect righteousness so open the door, let Him come and presence Himself with you daily.
Invite Him now!
‘I love you, oh Lord my strength’ vs1
‘This God—his way is perfect’ vs30
‘…he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him’ vs30
David wrote this Psalm reflecting on God’s having delivered both himself and Israel from many foes (you’ll find this Psalm as a song recorded in 2 Samuel 22 if you want to read the context in which it was written).
There are three lines that summarize this whole Psalm, they summarize king David’s feelings towards God because of his personal experience of God’s faithfulness and protection in many challenging life situations.
‘I love you, oh Lord my strength’ (vs1)
In all David has experienced of God’s intervention and deliverance, what has resulted in David was a heart full of love for God. God’s loving care produced a love for God in David who proclaims this love and declares at the outset of this Psalm his dependence on God – God is his strength .
‘This God — his way is perfect’(vs30)
Don’t you love David’s summary statement of his experience of God’s faithfulness to him over many years of challenges and threats? This is a wonderful personal testimony from personal experience. Perfect, there is nothing wrong with God’s dealings with Him. There must have been many times David felt God wasn’t answering prayers, or that God’s ways were hard to understand… But when reflecting on his life David could say; God’s ways are perfect.
‘…he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him’ vs30
Through out this Psalm David shares testimony of how God answered his prayers, coming to his rescue and delivering him when he cried out! God is a shield for those who tuck into His protection and care. God rips open heaven as it were and comes down to rescue us when we pray and cry out to Him (see the wonderful testimony of vs6-19).
- What is there in your life right now, or in the life of those you love that causes you to feel like God is distant, not listening, doesn’t care?
- Take time to reflect on times God has ripped open heaven to deliver you from situations in your own life, times when God has answered prayers you cried out to Him
- Thank God for those times and then pray giving to God those thoughts and questions and replace them with prayers of faith from the testimony of this mighty Psalm.
(vs1) Whole hearted thanks, gratitude expressed is the bone and marrow of the Christian life! David declares that he will give thanks to God with his whole heart. Gratitude expressed is a heart matter and a head matter in that it requires a decision of the will to express what one is grateful for.
(vs2) Gratitude is founded on remembering, recounting what has happened, recounting what God has done for you and for His people. Again, David declares that he will recount, he decides to remember and as he does, recounting leads to feeling grateful and expressing it to God in prayer and in songs of thanks!
(vs3-9) David recounts God’s interventions for His people.
(vs10) When God is thanked, God is honoured, we get perspective and our faith for the future is fortified. In this verse David declares that those who know God put their trust in Him (because He is worthy of trust) and those who have put their trust in Him can testify that God does not forsake those who trust in Him.
(vs11) So it’s appropriate to praise Him with singing, for He alone is King of kings, it’s appropriate to ‘tell among the peoples His deeds’.
(vs13-20) Emboldened by his recounting and his praise, reminded of God’s faithfulness to him and to Israel, David transitions into confidently asking God for some things which is totally appropriate since his thanksgiving has reminded Him that God is worth praying to and bring your requests to.
- Decide to recount what God has done for you, for us as a church. I challenge you to write down no less than 25 things right now that you can thank and praise God for & then take some time to do just that.
- (vs11) Why not decide to tell 1 person at least 1 of those 25 things you’ve just recounted in a way that honours God today, encourages you and them
- Having recounted and thanked God, confidently bring your requests to your Father in Heaven.
This Psalm is one with two bookends (vs1&9) that hold within them some reflection as the content held within those bookends of praise and exaltation of God.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
King David here addresses God as Yahweh, the eternal self-existent and only God of all who is also ‘our God’, the One who made a covenant with His people and established a unique relationship based love and commitment with us.
King David breaks out in praise and worship delighting in how majestic God is in all the earth! When king David says; ‘how majestic is your name’ he is referring to God’s character, God’s attributes that are known to His people and in fact are known not just to His people, but known to the whole earth, all the nations because of the way God has intervened for His people and judged the nations of the earth!
The content between the bookends (vs2-8)
‘Out of the mouth of babies’ – the ESV commentators think that this phrase probably refers to God’s people who seem like little and insignificant babies compared to some of the impressive nations around them.
(vs2) David is reflecting on how God is His wisdom uses weak, small and seemingly insignificant people on the planet to make Himself known as the strong and mighty One, through His interactions with them and through their actions and history.
(vs3-4) David considers all the magnificent things God has made in creation, and finds it astounding that God has set His attention and affection on us, on human beings.
(vs5-8) And yet David knows that God’s given us as little human beings a position, a place, a role as His agents having authority & responsibility for everything on the planet, and that is just an amazing thing to think about, to ponder and to praise God for and a responsibility to take seriously.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
At the end it all, Yahweh, our Yahweh we praise You for who You are and for what You’ve chosen to do, how You have set up the planet and how You have intervened for Your people, even for little me. I praise You, we praise You.
•Write down the names of God you know and what they say about WHO God is WHAT God has done and then praise God for those things.
•Do you feel week, think of the church as weak and insignificant? Can you see how God’s people have always felt like ‘babies’ compared to the nations? How does this encourage you to think differently?
•Consider the role God has entrusted to us within creation, are you taking that role seriously? What might need to change?
Psalm 66:1 (in the NIV) declares!
Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!
Loud, exuberant, whole-hearted praise & thanks to God is always appropriate! A subdued, disengaged time of worship when the gathered church meets, or a worship-deficient personal life-style is just out of place with the reality of who our God is and what He has done for us.
Having re-built the wall, re-populated the city, renewed their faith and their covenant with God, having renewed their contributions to God’s house now it was time for praise and thanks.
Nehemiah and Ezra organise a praise party, a celebration of glorious praise befitting of the exhortation of Psalm 66:2.
Two great choirs are amassed to help in dedicating the city to God. A dedication that was to be full of gladness, thanksgiving, singing & musical instruments… The worship was lead by singers with Jezrahiah as their leader and the time of worship was so great, so gloriously magnificent that the ‘joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.’ (vs43)
Corporate worship is so important to God’s people. God gifts people with singing ability, with worshipful hearts, with skill on instruments and with leadership and the best use of those gifts is to cause God’s people to remember, to reflect and to thank God in songs of exuberant praise that are worthy of our magnificent God.
Oh, how I love to worship with God’s people in moments like this! May our praise, our thanks and our worship in church always reflect our magnificent God, who He is and what He has done for us. I urge you to bring your part every-time we gather – together making His praise glorious! Amen.