The Psalms are Hebrew poetry. Many were written to be sung. Hebrew poetry does not rhyme; its chief characteristic is parallelism. In other words, ideas or thoughts which have nearly the same meaning--many times with a little progression added--are repeated (Psalm 4:1). Some psalms are like envelopes--they end with the same phrase with which they began (Psalm 103). Some are structured as acrostics--the beginning of each verse or section follows a letter in the Hebrew alphabet (Psalm 119).
King David wrote so many of the psalms that frequently he is spoken of as the author of Psalms. He is the one who brought music and psalms into temple worship. He organized the temple worship and appointed the Levites as musicians. Moses also wrote many psalms; others were written by the prophets, and others by various musicians serving in the temple.
The Psalms flow through the course of Israel's history. They constitute a kind of inner history which runs parallel to the recorded events. Most of them consist of prayers and praise to God. They tell us that God is intimately involved in Israel's history. He is the Creator of heaven and earth; he is the Redeemer; he is the Ruler of history; he is the one worthy of praise and honor and thanksgiving. As we study the Psalms, let us turn our hearts to him and learn from the Psalmists to praise and thank him and to lay before him all of our fears and anxieties. Let us worship God.
THE HAPPY MAN
Key Verse: 1:2
1. A fruitful life (1-3)
This Psalm describes two kinds of people. The first is happy because he is fruitful. He does not accept the counsel of wicked men. He does not hang around people who are looking for trouble. He does not join in with the smart, sophisticated people who mock God or his people. Like a fruitful tree that puts down deep roots by a stream of water, he puts down roots in God's word. He fills his mind and heart with God's word. A tree bears fruit in season because its roots drink from an ever-flowing stream. A man bears good fruit if his roots are in the word of God.
2. Chaff (4-6)
The man without roots thinks he is smart and free--but he is neither. The Bible calls the rootless man wicked. He will perish in the judgment. Like the restless wanderer Cain, he is rootless, fruitless and miserable.
Prayer: Lord, help me to hold your word in my heart until my life produces good fruit.
One Word: Like a tree by streams of water
I WILL MAKE THE NATIONS YOUR INHERITANCE
Key Verse: 2:8
1. Why do the nations conspire? (1-3)
We are living in a world in rebellion against God. People who rebel against God mistakenly see his sovereign rule as chains and fetters. But rebellion against God's sovereignty is fruitless and finally leads to destruction. (5,9,12)
2. The Anointed One (4-12)
God's Anointed One is the Messiah, the Son of God. In Acts 4:23-28, Peter and John found strength and courage in the prophecy of Christ in this psalm, for they realized that God is sovereign, and the crucifixion of Christ and the persecution of his servants fulfilled the prophecy of God. This psalm does not stop with suffering; it looks forward to victory, and proclaims God's sovereignty. When the Christ sent his disciples into all the world to proclaim the gospel, he was claiming his inheritance.
Prayer: Lord, give us the nations as our inheritance and the ends of the earth as our possession, for the sake of your name.
One Word: Why do men rebel against God?
BECAUSE THE LORD SUSTAINS ME
Key Verse: 3:5
1. How many are my foes! (1,2)
There are times when enemies within and without seem to overwhelm us. Those around us discourage us by saying, "God won't help you." What can we do? When David was in this situation, he prayed.
2. God is a shield around me (3-8)
A time of trouble is the very time to experience the love and power of God. He is our shield. He will not only protect us, but he will turn the time of adversity into a time of fruitful victory. When I cry aloud to him, he answers from his holy hill. He gives such deep peace and security that fear is driven from my heart. I can lie down and sleep in peace, even if tens of thousands of enemies are drawn up against me on every side. I do not need to hate enemies or seek revenge because God himself will deal with them.
Prayer: Lord, I call on you in time of trouble. Remove fear from my heart and sustain me by your presence. Deal with your enemies in your own way.
One Word: From the Lord comes deliverance
THE LORD HAS SET APART THE GODLY FOR HIMSELF
Key Verse: 4:3
1. How long will you love delusions?
There are times when we are angered and distressed by the ungodliness of society and the unfaithfulness of people. David felt this way, too. In verses 1-2 he is frustrated by those who dishonor God and proclaim lies as truth. He calls on the righteous God for relief.
2. The Lord has set apart the godly for himself (3)
We do not need to become angry because of godless men. We must know that God has set apart the godly for himself. We must be sure that we ourselves are not drawn into ungodly ways of thinking and acting.
3. In your anger, do not sin (4-8)
We must not give in to anger; we must not end the day and go to sleep with anger in our hearts. We must search our hearts and be silent, waiting on God. We must claim Jesus' sacrifice for cleansing and forgiveness and allow his joy to fill and satisfy our hearts.
Prayer: Lord, by your grace, help me to be a godly person, not an ungodly one. Come and dwell in my heart.
One Word: Set apart for the Lord
O LORD, LISTEN TO MY CRY
Key Verse: 5:11a
1. Morning by morning (1-3)
King David was a man of prayer. He was a king, but he honored God as his King, and morning by morning came humbly into God's presence to lay his requests before him. He came just as a lowly subject goes before his king with his petition. He laid his requests before God, then waited in expectation for God's response.
2. Lead me in your righteousness (4-12)
His prayer is based on God's righteous character. He knows God. God hates proud and arrogant people; he abhors those who are deceitful and bloodthirsty, and he hates liars. Pride keeps men from repenting, and keeps them from God. David comes to God humbly, asking his mercy. He asks God to lead him in righteousness. He asks God to deal with rebellious men who speak lying words and whose hearts scheme evil. Then he confesses his assurance that those who take refuge in God find real joy.
Prayer: Lord, I lay my petitions before you and await your answer with expectation.
One Word: Pray and take refuge in God
SAVE ME, O LORD
Key Verse: 6:9
1. In times of deep distress (1-7)
David was in great anguish of soul. Perhaps he was physically sick; perhaps he was harassed by enemies; perhaps he was tempted by his own sinful desires and knew that Satan was waging war on his soul. Perhaps he was overwhelmed by guilt. Whatever his problem was, he did not give up. He called on the Lord for mercy and deliverance. He asked God to save him because of God's love. He reminded God that dead men can't remember God or praise him from the grave. He wept like a child before God, and he didn't give up.
2. A sure sense of victory (8-10)
After his prayer, David shouted, "Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping." He was confident that God heard his weeping prayer and accepted him. He was sure that God would give him victory.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to pray and not give up in times of deep distress. Help me to pray until you give me a sense of victory.
One Word: The Lord accepts my prayers
MY SHIELD IS GOD MOST HIGH
Key Verse: 7:10
1. If there is guilt on my hands...(1-9)
Sometimes the world seems devoid of justice. Even though he was guilty of no disloyalty, David was pursued endlessly by King Saul. There were other times when he was misunderstood and accused unjustly. He had not been the aggressor, but his life was threatened. There was no one to defend him, so he laid his case before God. He discovered that he couldn't trust people. So he asked God who is righteous and who searches the minds and hearts of men to be the judge and bring an end to violence. He trusted God to make him secure.
2. God is my Shield (10-17)
God protects the innocent who put their trust in him. God is a righteous judge; he pursues and destroys those who are full of evil desires but do not repent. He allows violent men to fall into their own trap. He punishes the guilty and saves the upright, for he is just.
Prayer: Lord, cleanse me from sin, so that I may be included among the righteous.
One Word: God is my shield
HOW MAJESTIC IS YOUR NAME IN ALL THE EARTH
Key Verse: 8:1
1. Your glory is set above the heavens
David begins and ends with a shout of praise to the majesty of God. Perhaps the shepherd boy David welcomed the sun one glorious morning, and exclaimed, "You have set your glory above the heavens." Proud and rebellious men do not praise God, but little children look with awe at God's marvelous works of creation, and from their lips comes praise. Jesus remembered verse 2 when he entered Jerusalem triumphantly.
2. What is man?
When David looked up at the starry sky, he thought about the vastness of God's universe. Man is only a tiny speck. How could the great and glorious God care about him? If we ignore God, we become meaningless specks in the vast sea of the infinite universe. But when we acknowledge him as our Creator and Lord, we find that he created us for mission--to be stewards of his universe. He created us for his glory.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for caring about me and for creating me to do your good work.
One Word: Glorify his majestic name
YOU, LORD, NEVER FORSAKE THOSE WHO SEEK YOU
Key Verse: 9:10
1. He will judge the world in righteousness (1-10)
Let us join the Psalmist and sing praise to God's name. Let us rejoice in God. God is a righteous judge. He upholds the cause of those who have a right relationship with him. He rebukes evil nations and destroys wicked men. He uproots cities and brings the enemies of his servant down to ruin. The Lord is righteous. He governs people with justice. He is a refuge for the oppressed and a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know his name trust in him; he never forsakes those who seek him.
2. Proclaim among the nations God's work (11-20)
God's people must proclaim his mighty acts among the nations. God is a just judge. He punishes evil men and evil nations. Men and nations who forget God and oppress people are evil. But God does not forget the needy or allow the hope of the afflicted to perish. Godless nations must some day learn that they are but men; but God is God.
Prayer: Lord, I seek you. Teach me your name. You never forsake those who seek you. I praise you with all my heart. Help me to tell what you have done among the nations.
One Word: Seek the Lord; praise his name.
ARISE, LORD! LIFT UP YOUR HAND
Key Verse: 10:12
1. Why are you so far off, O Lord? (1,2)
The Psalmist struggles with his doubt and fear when he sees arrogant men who prey on the innocent and helpless.
2. No room for God in their thoughts (3-11)
Men are capable of any kind of evil when they have no room for God in their thoughts. Such a man is proud; he decides that the law is for someone else; he has no scruples about destroying weaker people for his own gain. It is hard for us to see such men from God's perspective, and easy to envy or fear them, or to become their prey.
3. Arise Lord! Lift up your hand (12-18)
The Lord sees and knows. He helps those who commit themselves to him. He hears the cry of those who call on him. He is King forever. Man is of the earth. When the Lord lifts his hand, man can terrify no one.
Prayer: Lord, help me to make room for you in my thoughts daily, so that I will not become proud. Help me to commit myself wholly to you and not fear evil men.
One Word: Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand
WHEN FOUNDATIONS ARE BEING DESTROYED
Key Verse: 11:3
1. What can the righteous do? (1-3)
Secular humanists seem to be battering down the moral foundations of our nation. Satan chips away at the foundations of a person's life. He shoots from the shadows. What can we do? One cannot flee like a hunted bird to the mountains, for there is no place of refuge in the world. But God's people can take refuge in God.
2. The Lord is on his throne (4-7)
The Lord is holy; he dwells in his holy temple, and is seated on his throne. His eyes rove the earth; he sees everything. He sees the hearts of those who are upright. He sees the wicked and those who love violence, and his soul hates them. The Lord loves justice. He will surely rain fiery coals and burning sulfur on the wicked who do not repent. But the upright people will see his face and rejoice in his presence.
Prayer: Lord, when the foundations are being destroyed, only you can be my refuge. Let me not be like a foolish bird who seeks refuge in the mountains.
One Word: God rules history
WHEN WHAT IS VILE IS HONORED
Key Verse: 12:6
1. Everyone lies to his neighbor (1-4)
We live in times when "the wicked strut freely about and what is vile is honored." (8) People say, "We own our mouths--we'll use them any way we please." People deceive each other with flattering words and lies. Television, advertising, even so-called works of art fill the atmosphere with unspeakable corruption and violence. We cry with the Psalmist, "Help, Lord!" Are there no more godly and faithful men? The real danger, however, is within our own hearts.
2. The word of the Lord is flawless (5-8)
The Lord protects the weak and the oppressed. He has given us his flawless word to guard our hearts and keep us from evil. What can we do? We can fill our hearts with his word and share it with others. God's word cleanses our hearts (Jn 15:3). His word builds up. We must hold God's word in our hearts and remember that the Lord owns our mouths.
Prayer: Lord, in times when what is vile is honored, help me to hold your word in my heart, and speak it with my mouth.
One Word: God's flawless word in my heart
MY HEART REJOICES IN YOUR SALVATION
Key Verse: 13:5
1. How long, O Lord? (1-4)
When seemingly insoluble problems arise, we sometimes find that we must struggle not only with the immediate problem, but also with our own doubts and human thinking. Even King David tasted defeat and struggled with sorrow and with sinful thoughts. It may be that he is physically sick--or he may be sick at heart. He said, "How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and have sorrow in my heart?" But he did not give up; he struggled in prayer and cried out to God to give him victory over enemies within and without.
2. I trust in your unfailing love (5,6)
David remembered the great salvation work which God had wrought in his life. He knew that God loved him. When he affirmed God's love, his questions and doubts and sorrow melted and he was filled with songs of joy and thanksgiving and praise.
Prayer: Lord, I rejoice in your great salvation. I trust your unfailing love. Forgive me for moments of self-pity and doubt, and help me to sing your praises forever.
One Word: Rejoice in God's salvation
THE LORD LOOKS DOWN FROM HEAVEN
Key Verse: 14:2
1. The heart of a fool (1-3)
The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." When a man wants to do as he pleases, and live according to his sinful nature and do vile deeds, he tries to avoid God by saying, "There is no God." But this is foolish. Saying that there is no God doesn't change the fact that God looks down from heaven on all the activities of man. And God sees the heart. He continually looks for those who seek God, for he wants to strengthen their hearts and bless them. Those who seek God with all their hearts are wise.
2. God is present with the righteous (4-7)
Evildoers devour God's people as a man eats bread. They do not call on the Lord. Such people will be dismayed and overwhelmed when they confront the living God. God's people long for God's presence, and rejoice in him.
Prayer: Lord, when you look down from heaven, seeking those who seek you, look upon me. Grant that I may not be a fool.
One Word: Seek God; don't be a fool
LORD, WHO MAY DWELL IN YOUR SANCTUARY?
Key Verse: 15:1
1. A blameless walk (1-2a)
What are the requirements for living in joyful fellowship with God? First, we must be blameless and righteous. For this, we need God's grace of forgiveness. We must walk with God in prayer and obedience every day.
2. Speaking the truth from the heart (2b-5)
God is Truth. There is nothing false in him. (Jn 18:37) The devil is the father of lies. If we dwell with God we must have his truth in us, and we must speak the truth. We must not use words to hurt others, and we must keep our promises, even when it hurts.
3. Honor those who fear the Lord
We are tempted to honor those who have money or high position. But if we dwell with God, we must honor those who fear the Lord. And we must use money wisely. God's servant must not manipulate people with money, nor allow himself to be manipulated by money.
Prayer: Lord, cleanse me of sin and make me fit to dwell on your holy hill.
One Word: Dwell with God
I HAVE SET THE LORD ALWAYS BEFORE ME
Key Verse: 16:8
1. The Lord has assigned me my portion (1-6)
Everyone has a concern about his future security. Some people buy insurance; others put hope in their children. Some are only anxious and calculative. David tasted insecurity when he was a fugitive. But David found real security in God. He acknowledged God's sovereignty in life and in death. God gave him many good things, but nothing was so precious as God himself. David confessed, "Apart from you I have no good thing."
2. Therefore my heart rejoices (7-11)
David not only talked to God; he listened. He praised God and his heart rejoiced. And he obeyed God, so he could not be shaken. He did not set worldly goals before him; he set the Lord before him. He could rejoice because he had resurrection faith--the grave was not his destination. He had hope in the eternal kingdom of God. So he could walk the path of life, and overcome all the elements of fear and death.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for putting my trust in people or things. Help me to set the Lord before me always. Thank you for giving me eternal life.
One Word: I have set the Lord before me
KEEP ME AS THE APPLE OF YOUR EYE
Key Verse: 17:8
1. Kept by the word of your lips (1-5)
How can I keep my heart pure? Only when God searches and purifies my heart can I be pure. If I hide his word in my heart, he will lead me in the paths of peace.
2. Keep me as the apple of your eye (6-13)
God loves me. When I call on him in prayer, he is ready to help. He will keep me as the apple of his eye; he will hide me in the shadow of his wings. There were times when David's enemies were too strong for him. They were hard-hearted and proud. Like a crouching lion, they sought his life. But he found security in God, for God is stronger than all enemies.
3. Satisfied with seeing your likeness (14,15)
Those who put their hope in worldly things find that worldly success can never satisfy the hungry and thirsty soul. God stills the hunger of those he loves. I am truly satisfied when I see his face.
Prayer: Lord, keep me from sin; protect me from my enemy, Satan.
One Word: The apple of God's eye
I LOVE YOU, O LORD
Key Verse: 18:1
1. I love you, O Lord, my strength
This Psalm is David's love confession to God. David had many enemies. King Saul put a price on his head and forced him to live as a fugitive, then as an exile. He was often just one step away from death. But he overcame fear of death and drove all the factors of death from his heart by taking refuge in God and calling on him for help. He experienced God's saving grace and he learned to live with God. He praised God and loved him with all the passion of his soul.
2. The Lord thundered from heaven
David saw the whole created world and all history from God's point of view. He worshiped the God of creation, and he saw the mighty acts of God in nature. The Creator God took hold of him to rescue him from the hands of his enemies. By faith, he was faithful to God; by faith, he kept his heart pure. He knew that it was God who kept his lamp burning.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to love you.
One Word: I love you, O Lord
THE LORD LIVES
Key Verse: 18:46
1. I have kept myself blameless (20-29)
David had two opportunities to kill Saul (1Sa 24:8-13; 26:8-11). He would have been justified in doing so, because Saul was pursuing him like a dog looking for a flea. But Saul was the Lord's anointed, so David did not touch him. David feared God and kept his laws even when he was fleeing for his life. God rewarded him. To the faithful, God shows himself faithful; to the pure he shows himself pure. He saves the humble, but brings the mighty crashing down. God himself kept the lamp of David burning down through the generations to Jesus.
2. God's way and word are flawless (30-50)
When we take refuge in God, he equips us to fight our enemy Satan. He arms us with strength by making our feet like the sure-footed feet of a deer. When one's inner life and actions match like the feet of a deer, God's strength flows in. God promised that Abraham's descendants would possess the gates of their enemies; God kept that promise in David; he keeps it today when his servants conquer the strongholds of the nations of the world with the gospel.
Prayer: Lord, make my heart pure; make my feet like the feet of the deer. Help me to defeat Satan today.
One Word: The Lord lives; trust him wholly
THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD
Key Verse: 19:4
1. All creation declares God's glory (1-6)
The testimony of nature to the power, wisdom and glory of the Creator God is silent, but eloquent. The sun is one witness to God's glory. He comes out of his tent like a bridegroom arrayed in splendor. He paces steadily across the sky like a champion runner. He proclaims that the hand that made him is divine.
2. God speaks in his word (7-10)
The testimony of God's word enables us to know God personally. God speaks to our hearts and minds through his word. We can know and love God by keeping his commands and obeying his word. When we come to know him through his word, he gives joy to the heart and light to the eyes. God's word revives the soul, and makes wise the simple.
3. Forgive my hidden faults (11-14)
God's word warns us and exposes our sins so that we can repent. When we hold his word in our hearts, he keeps our thoughts pure and our steps sure.
Prayer: "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
One Word: Meditate on God's work and word; obey
WE TRUST IN THE NAME OF THE LORD
Key Verse: 20:7
1. May the Lord grant all your requests (1-5)
The King and his army stand ready for battle. Our King is Jesus and our battle is a spiritual one. Our enemy is Satan. We need God's help in the fight. Our King Jesus offered himself as the perfect Sacrifice. We must learn the heart of our King Jesus. May his desires become our desires. May God give him the desires of his heart and make all his plans succeed. May God help us to fight his battles, pray according to his prayer topics, and lead us to victory.
2. We trust in the name of the Lord (6-9)
God hears and answers prayer, so we must call on him. Some people trust in their own ability; others trust in people or in technology. Some trust in chariots and horses--in military power. But we must trust in the name of the Lord our God. Then the enemy will fall. Those who trust in themselves will fail, but those who trust in the Lord will rise up and stand firm.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for trusting in myself and not praying. Put your own desires in my heart.
One Word: May he give you the desires of your heart
LOVE GOD FIRST
Key Verse: 21:6
1. Glad in the joy of God's presence (1-7)
King David loved God. He was a warrior, but he was also a man of prayer. His real joy did not come from victory in battle nor from the glory and honor which he received as a beloved and successful king. His real joy came from God's presence with him. God answered his prayers. Victory in battle brought joy because it made him aware of God's presence and power. Earthly glory and honor paled to insignificance when he tasted God's love. God granted him eternal blessings and filled him with the joy of his presence.
2. The time of his appearing (8-13)
The unfailing love of the Most High is our bulwark. When Jesus comes again, he will destroy evil. At the time of his appearing he will burn up the enemies of God as in a furnace. David looked forward to the coming of the Lord. On that day, the Lord will destroy the wicked who have rebelled against him.
Prayer: Lord, help me to love you more than anyone else so that I may be ready on the day of your appearing.
One Word: Love God
DO NOT BE FAR FROM ME
Key Verse: 22:19
1. My God, why have you forsaken me? (1-18)
This cry was on the lips of Jesus on the cross. When David wrote this psalm, he was in deep anguish and distress--perhaps during the time he was fleeing from Saul. He was being hunted down like an animal. He cried to God day and night, and it seemed that God did not answer him. But he did not become bitter or turn from God. He praised the God of Israel who had heard and answered the cries of his people who put their trust in him. He trusted God anyway.
2. All the ends of the earth will remember (19-31)
David was sure that God would answer. He would honor God before all the people. He would call on everyone to praise God who hears the cries of the suffering, who satisfies the poor and blesses those who fear him. Someday, all the families of nations will bow down before God. People yet unborn will hear of his righteousness.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for raising Jesus from death to give victory to your people and hope to all the people of all times.
One Word: Jesus is God with us
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
Key Verse: 23:1
1. I shall not be in want (1-4)
Perhaps David sang this Psalm while he was watching over his sheep out under the sky. It is his love song to God. As he cared for his sheep, leading them to abundant pastures and quiet streams, so God cared for him. The rod and staff were for discipline, guidance, and protection. They bring order and security to life. God chose David to be the shepherd of his people Israel (2Sa 5:2b). Jesus is our Good Shepherd (Jn 10:10,11). He satisfies our deepest needs (Jn 6:35). He forgives all our sins and restores our sinsick souls and leads us in paths of righteousness. He helps us live for his glory, and he is with us in the valley of the shadow of death.
2. A table in the presence of my enemies (5-6)
God's enemies are our enemies. But we can sit down at God's table with him even though we are surrounded by enemies. He gives us joy and his anointing for his service. We have no future security problem, for his love will follow us all our days, and we have an eternal home in the house of our Lord forever.
Prayer: Lord, you are my Shepherd; help me to follow you closely, without fear.
One Word: The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want
THE EARTH IS THE LORD'S
Key Verse: 24:1
1. Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? (1-6)
The Lord is the Creator and Owner of all things. All his creatures long to know him and dwell in his presence. Who may dwell with him? Those who seek him with pure hearts and clean hands, who repent of their spirit of compromise (which is idolatry), and who love the truth may come and stand before him to receive his forgiveness and blessing.
2. Lift up your heads, O you gates (7-10)
The gates guard the way into the city--or into the heart. The Psalmist addresses the gates. Each person decides when and for whom to open the gates of his heart. We must not open the gates for Satan, but for the King of glory. Then he will come in. Who is the king of glory? He is the Lord who gives victory. He is the Lord who brings glory and honor with him.
Prayer: Lord, cleanse my hands and heart by the precious blood of Jesus. Help me to guard the gates of my heart, and open them only for Jesus, the King of glory.
One Word: The King of glory will come in
MY HOPE IS IN YOU, O LORD
Key Verse: 25:5
1. To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul (1-3)
To lift up my soul to the Lord means that I put my trust in him alone; I become totally vulnerable to God, not to my enemies. My enemy Satan is always prowling around seeking a way to triumph over me, but my Lord will not let me be defeated.
2. Show me your ways, O Lord (4-11)
When I put my hope in God alone he will guide me in his paths of truth. He is my Savior; he forgives the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; he instructs repentant sinners and guides the humble in what is right. God's ways are loving and faithful to those who have a covenant relationship with him.
3. Who is the one who fears you, O Lord? (12-22)
To fear God means to love him and to have an awesome respect for him. God makes known his ways to those who fear him. He confides in those who fear him. Those who fear God prosper. He sets us free from anguish and cleanses us from sin. If we fear God, we need not fear anything or anyone else.
Prayer: Lord, I put my hope in you; forgive my sins and guide me in your ways of truth.
One Word: Put your hope in God alone
TEST ME, O LORD
Key Verse: 26:12
1. I have trusted in the Lord (1-8)
The Psalmist was a spiritual man, and a man of high moral character. But he was severely tempted to compromise with the evil society around him. He asks the Lord to test him and examine his heart. He loves God and strives to walk continually in God's truth. He does not associate with deceitful men or make friends with hypocrites. He not only refuses to compromise with evil men, but he lives a positive life, praising God and telling his wonderful deeds. He is not bragging about his righteousness; he is fighting a spiritual battle and is asking God to help him stand on level ground with those who praise God.
2. Redeem me and be merciful to me (9-12)
Even though he tries to live a pure and pious life, he knows that he is a sinner who needs God's mercy, so he asks God to redeem him so that he may not be swallowed up by the wicked schemes of evil men.
Prayer: Lord, help me to walk in your truth and to proclaim your wonderful deeds.
One Word: Proclaim God's wonderful deeds
THE LORD IS MY LIGHT AND MY SALVATION
Key Verse: 27:1,14
1. Whom shall I fear? (1-3)
Fear is a disease. It is the opposite of faith. Fear robs one of strength and joy. When I know that the Lord is my light and salvation, the stronghold of my life, then my fear problem is solved.
2. Seek the Lord (4-14)
Therefore, I must seek the Lord. When David lived as a fugitive, then as an exile, he sought God with all his heart. This is why he longed to dwell in the house of the Lord and gaze upon his beauty. He longed to make sacrifices to the Lord in his temple, and to shout and sing and make music there. He was confident that even though his mother and father abandoned him, God would not forsake him. As he waited for the Lord, his heart grew strong. He was confident that he would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. He did not wait on victory or on the crown of Israel; he only waited for the Lord.
Prayer: Lord, you are my light and salvation. Teach me to wait for you.
One Word: Take heart and wait for the Lord
LORD, BE MY SHEPHERD FOREVER
Key Verse: 28:9
1. To you I call, O Lord (1-5)
The psalmist cries out to God for mercy. He has suffered enough from smooth-talking people whose hearts are full of malice. He does not fight with them any more; he prays for himself and asks God to deal with such people. When he began to do this, he realized that the root problem of such people is that they do not recognize or respect the work of God. Godless people who do their own thing and despise God's work will be torn down, never to be rebuilt.
2. The Lord is my strength and shield (6-9)
Praise God who hears our prayers. He always hears a plea for mercy. When my heart trusts in him, I am helped. The Lord is the strength of his people and a fortress for his flock. He is our shepherd who saves his people and blesses his inheritance forever.
Prayer: Lord, in times of deep distress, teach my heart to trust in you. You are my shepherd forever.
One Word: A heart that trusts in the Lord
THE MIGHTY VOICE OF THE LORD
Key Verse: 29:2
1. The splendor of his holiness (1-2)
No matter how powerful and great a man is, he must worship God. God is holy. He is the Creator; we are his creatures. He is splendid and beautiful beyond our imagination. We are created to glorify him. We must worship him in the beauty of holiness.
2. The voice of the Lord (3-9)
God spoke and the world came into being. He speaks to us in his written word and in his incarnate Word. The psalmist watched with awe as God displayed his majesty in a thunder storm. He sweeps away cedars of Lebanon like match sticks and shakes Mount Hermon. Fire from heaven strikes the earth; the psalmist cannot but join in the cry, "Glory!"
3. The Lord is enthroned as king forever (10-11)
God is king. He presides over history and nature. He blesses his people with strength and peace.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to see your hand and hear your voice, and give you the praise and honor due your name.
One Word: Worship the Lord
HIS FAVOR LASTS A LIFETIME
Key Verse: 30:5
1. Sing to the Lord you saints of his (1-5)
The Psalmist sounds like a former depression patient. Many enemies were out to get him. He cried out to God from the depths. God lifted him up from the pit and healed him. He learned that God's anger lasts for only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime. God punishes us when we sin, but when we call on him for mercy, he forgives. If we weep tears of repentance at night, rejoicing comes in the morning. Enemies cannot gloat over one who humbles himself before God.
2. You made my mountain stand firm (6-12)
The Psalmist learned that the only real security in life is the security that God gives. He thought he was secure; then God hid his face. He realized that only God could make his mountain stand firm. So he cried out to God for mercy; God turned his wailing into dancing and clothed him with joy. All of God's saints are only forgiven sinners whom he has rescued from the pit. Let us sing songs of thanksgiving to the Lord.
Prayer: I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths.
One Word: God's favor lasts a lifetime
MY TIMES ARE IN YOUR HANDS
Key Verse: 31:14,15a
1. In you, Lord, I have taken refuge (1-13)
David was God's anointed servant, but there were times in his life when he was surrounded by enemies. He prayed that the righteous God might deliver him for the sake of God's name. He committed his spirit to God in an act of complete trust (5). Jesus on the cross and Stephen being stoned breathed the prayer in verse 5. God is the God of truth. Idols are Satan's lies. It may seem that Satan and his cohorts win the day, but God's servant loves and trusts God. He rejects the help of all idolaters (6).
2. My God, my times are in your hands (14-24)
God's face shines upon his servant (16). His love is unfailing. His goodness is great (19). He hides his saints in the shelter of his presence (20). The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full (23). When our times are in his hands, we wait on him in patient trust. Be strong all you who hope in the Lord.
Prayer: You are my God, O Lord. Let your face shine on me. Hide me in your presence. My times are in your hands.
One Word: My times are in your hands
GOD'S BEST BLESSING
Key Verse: 32:1
1. I confessed; you forgave (1-6)
David was a king. He was a successful general and a national hero. He was loved and respected by his subjects. He was also a talented musician and poet. But these did not make him happy. When he sinned and tried to cover it up, he became sick. He had no strength. He was miserable. Then he sought God. He confessed his sin, and God forgave him. He found that the happy man is the man whose sins are forgiven, so he urges men to seek God and be happy.
2. The unfailing love of the Lord (7-11)
He found that though his enemies were still many and the burden of his responsibilities was just as great, the Lord was his hiding place. His heart was filled with songs of deliverance. He could rejoice and sing. He realized that he had been like a horse or mule when he had clung to his stubborn pride with an unrepentant heart. Mules have no understanding. They are controlled by the bit and bridle. Those who come to God for forgiveness can rejoice in God.
Prayer: Lord, I come to you with a repentant heart. Have mercy on me and forgive my sins. Restore the joy of my salvation.
One Word: The forgiven sinner is happy
THE LORD'S UNFAILING LOVE
Key Verse: 33:18
1. The word of the Lord (1-11)
By faith we know that the universe was formed at God's command. Praise the Creator God for he is righteous and just; he is faithful in all he does. The earth is full of his unfailing love (5). God created the heavens and the earth by his word (6-9). His word has absolute authority. Men's plans never work out as they intend, but the Lord's plans and the purposes of his heart stand firm forever. We must accept his love and seek to fit into his plans. We must obey his word.
2. Those who hope in his love (12-22)
Armies and nuclear capability cannot save us. The Lord is ready to deliver those whose hope is in his unfailing love. He who created men's hearts looks down from heaven and sees all mankind. Human freedom has not brought true happiness to our nation. The blessed nation is the nation whose God is the Lord (12). In him only is real freedom and real peace. Our hearts rejoice when our hope is in God.
Prayer: Lord, turn our nation from the false freedom of hedonism to you. Teach us to fear you and set our hope on your unfailing love.
One Word: Hope in God and his love
LET US EXALT HIS NAME TOGETHER
Key Verse: 34:3
1. The Lord delivers those who fear him (1-10)
It is right to praise the Lord and exalt his name. When we seek him, he answers and sends his angels to encamp around us. He is ready to deliver and save those who fear him and call on his name. The faces of those who know his deliverance are radiant. Those who fear God lack nothing. Taste and see that the Lord is good.
2. I will teach you to fear the Lord (11-22)
We must use our tongues to praise and exalt God; not to speak lies or stir up evil. He wants us to seek peace and pursue it. His eyes are on the righteous to deliver them; he is close to the broken-hearted. But his face is against those who do evil. We must seek him and thank him and praise him and serve him with heart and mouth and hands and feet.
Prayer: Lord, we glorify you and exalt your name together. Teach us to fear you.
One Word: Taste and see that the Lord is good
THE LORD RESCUES THE POOR AND NEEDY
Key Verse: 35:27
1. The angel of the Lord (1-10)
When the Psalmist is hard pressed by enemies, he asks God to fight for him. And he asks the Lord to reassure his soul, saying, "I am your salvation." Then he can overcome his strong urge to use human means to defend himself. He asks God's angel to drive his enemies away, to pursue them down a dark and slippery path until they fall. When the Lord rescues him, his soul will rejoice, and his whole being delight in the Lord's salvation.
2. Vindicate me, O Lord (11-28)
The ruthless witnesses who press false and malicious charges against the Lord's servant were the very ones whose pain and grief he had shared. He had prayed for them when they were in trouble. Now they slander him without ceasing. They gloat over his distress. The Lord's servant depends on the Lord to rescue him. He exalts and praises the Lord who delights in the well-being of his servant.
Prayer: Lord, protect my heart from bitterness and my hands from vengeance. Remind my soul that you are my salvation.
One Word: Praise God all day long
MAN'S WICKEDNESS; GOD'S FAITHFULNESS
1. The wicked man (1-4)
The wicked man does not fear God. He does not know himself. He flatters himself so much that he cannot detect or hate his own sins. His words cannot be trusted, for they are full of deceit. He ceases to be wise, and he does no good. Rather, he plots evil and commits himself to a sinful course (4). The Psalmist asks God's protection from the hand of the wicked (11).
2. God's unfailing love (5-12)
God's love is measureless. It reaches to the heavens. His righteousness is strong and sure like the mighty mountains; his justice is as deep as the sea. God cares for all who seek shelter in the shadow of his wings. We may feast on the abundance of his house and drink from the river of delights. God owns the fountain of life, and in his light our darkness is dispelled.
Prayer: Lord, I seek you, the fountain of my life. In you alone is such great love and faithfulness. You are righteous and just, and you will deal with the wicked.
One Word: In the shadow of his wings
DELIGHT YOURSELF IN THE LORD
Key Verse: 37:4
1. He will give the desires of your heart (1-8)
God promises to change my dirty desires into his pure and holy desires when I delight myself in him (4). How can I learn to delight myself in the Lord? First, I must commit my way to him (5). Second, I must be still before him and wait patiently for him, especially when evil men seem to be winning the day (7,8). Third, I must refrain from anger and put my hope in God.
2. Hope in the Lord; inherit the land (9-40)
Evil men seem to flourish, but like the beauty of the fields, they will perish (20). The righteous man gives to others; the evil man tries to get some free benefit (21). But the one the Lord blesses will inherit the land. Read verses 9,18,22,27,29,34. When we trust in the Lord and do good (3), and wait for the Lord and keep his way (34), he will protect us and give us the best inheritance. Let us hope in the Lord and wait on him.
Prayer: Lord, change my desires to your desires. Help me to put my hope in you and wait patiently on you. Satisfy me with your good gifts.
One Word: The gifts of the Lord are best
A MAN SUFFERING IN HELPLESS AGONY
Key Verse: 38:15
1. A burden of guilt (1-14)
King David committed a sin. Sin separates us from God, and unrepented sin may make a sincere man sick. David was such a man. His guilt overwhelms him. He is physically sick because of his sin. He is not only separated from God, but he is alienated from his friends and neighbors because of his sin. His enemies gloat over his weakness and plot his downfall.
2. I wait for you, O Lord (15-22)
He cannot say or do anything; he can only wait on the Lord. He is confident that God will answer him. He confesses his sin, believing in God's forgiveness. When he sets his direction toward God and begins to pursue what is good, many enemies rise up to slander him. He prays that God may protect him from his enemies and come quickly to help him. God is not far from one who comes to him seeking mercy and help. He always answers such prayers.
Prayer: Lord, I come to you for mercy and help this morning. Do not be far from me.
One Word: The Lord alone forgives and heals
HOPE IN GOD ALONE
Key Verse: 39:7
1. I will muzzle my mouth (1-6)
The Psalmist has encountered personal tragedy, but he made up his mind not to complain against God before unbelievers and wicked men. He does not want to be unfaithful to God, so he decided to muzzle his mouth and say nothing. But fire burned in his heart, and finally, he came before the Lord himself to ask about the end of his life. Would he continue to suffer all the rest of his days? As he prayed, he realized that in the light of eternity, life is but a breath.
2. My hope is in God (7-13)
Through suffering, he realized that men who strive to heap up wealth do not know who will get it. The only hope that a man can have is hope in God. So he asks God's forgiveness for his sins; he asks that God have mercy on him and restore his joy of life. Through suffering, he realized what is really valuable.
Prayer: Lord, remove from me a complaining heart; help me to put my hope in you alone.
One Word: Hope in God alone
HE PUT A NEW SONG IN MY MOUTH
Key Verse: 40:3
1. Wait patiently for the Lord (1-5)
David found that his time of deepest distress became the time of greatest grace when he waited on God and put his trust in him. In times of trouble, we are tempted to put our trust in some seemingly strong and wise person, but we are blessed if we wait on God and put our trust in him.
2. I desire to do your will (6-10)
When God's word is in our hearts we can discover God's will and do it (8). He does not want us to hide his righteousness and faithfulness in our hearts; he wants us to speak of his salvation to the great assembly of his people.
3. May all who seek you rejoice (11-17)
Many worldly people oppose God and seek to destroy his servants, but all who seek God and love his salvation will rejoice and exalt his name.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your great salvation and for the new song you have put in my mouth. Help me to exalt your name.
One Word: Sing a hymn of praise to our God
BLESSED IS HE WHO REGARDS THE WEAK
Key Verse: 41:1
1. He who has regard for the weak (1-3)
David was the shepherd of Israel. He protected and cared for weak people. He believed that God blesses the person who cares about the weak, for God is a compassionate shepherd. He himself had experienced times of both physical and spiritual weakness, and he knew God's healing and forgiving touch.
2. O Lord, have mercy (4-13)
David himself experienced sickness; he found that when he was weak, his enemies attacked him and his friends betrayed him. But he found the way of victory. He repented and turned to God, seeking his mercy. He longed to live in the presence of God forever. He trusted God and believed that God would forgive his sins and heal his body. He experienced God's victory, for he asked God's mercy.
Prayer: Lord, have mercy on me. Forgive my sins and give me your shepherd heart so that I can care about the weak and the helpless.
One Word: God, the compassionate shepherd
MY SOUL PANTS FOR GOD
Key Verse: 42:1
1. My soul pants for you, O God (1-4)
A deer running from the hunters longs for water, for he cannot stop to drink from cool streams. Men who are harassed and driven by the world become like a hunted deer. Their souls are thirsty for God. The Psalmist had been a servant of God, but personal problems or national tragedy or family troubles had cut him off from God. [He may be a captive in a foreign land.] Tears are his food day and night, and godless men mock him. Still he knows that the only solution is to meet the living God.
2. Why are you downcast, O my soul? (5-11)
He rebukes his soul for despairing amid the pressures of life. He knows that he must not despair, but put his hope in God. God is our hope, for he is our Savior. He is our God. He is our Rock; by day his love directs us, and by night his song is in our hearts. He is the God of my life; I must pray to him and not despair.
Prayer: Lord, I put my hope in you. My soul longs for you like a thirsty deer.
One Word: My soul thirsts for God
SEND FORTH YOUR LIGHT
Key Verse: 43:3
1. Send forth your light and truth (1-4)
The Psalmist is living in an ungodly nation, among deceitful and wicked people. The darkness around him is tangible. It sometimes makes him feel that God is far away. He prays that God may send forth his light and truth. God's light dispels the deepest darkness; God's truth washes all of the world's lies from our hearts. The word of God is the light and truth that leads us to God himself.
2. Put your hope in God (5)
The people of an ungodly nation put their hope in many things, and God's people are always tempted to adopt the value system of the world. But the Psalmist puts his hope in God. At the altar of God he finds forgiveness of sins. He meets God and offers to him sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. When God's people glorify and enjoy God, they find meaning and hope, even while living in a dark and uncertain world.
Prayer: Lord, teach me the spiritual joy of the Psalmist. Through your word, send your light and truth to me so that I may be led into your presence.
One Word: Guide me by your light and truth
THE LORD GIVES VICTORY
Key Verse: 44:3
1. We have heard from our fathers (1-8)
The Psalmist has a sense of history. He knows that the victories of the past came from God. God's people did not prosper because they were skillful warriors but because the Lord himself crushed their enemies, planted his people in the land and made them flourish in the land. It was God's right hand and the light of his face that gave them victory, for he loved them. So, the Psalmist does not trust his own bow or sword. He looks to God for victory. He will praise the name of the Lord forever.
2. But you crushed us (9-26)
So, what's the problem? God is not with our armies. Even though we have tried to be faithful to God, he has allowed our enemies to devour us like sheep and scatter us among the nations. The Psalmist cries out to God in his distress. "Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love." Sometimes God humbles us so that we may remember who he is, and call on him for help.
Prayer: Lord, victory does not come by human achievement. Teach me to pray and seek your help in every battle.
One Word: Victory comes from God
YOUR THRONE, O GOD, WILL LAST FOREVER
Key Verse: 45:6
1. The King rides forth (1-7)
This is a song for a royal wedding, but it is also a description of the Messiah. The King girds his sword on his side and rides forth to fight for truth, humility and righteousness. Our Lord Jesus left the ivory palaces and the glories of heaven to come and do battle with God's enemy. His word is his sword. He is working through his word to plant truth, and to establish his kingdom in men's hearts.
2. The King's bride (8-17)
The Old Testament speaks of God as Israel's husband (Isa 54). The New Testament speaks of the Church as the Bride of Christ (Eph 5). This psalm reminds us of what an honor it is to belong to Christ (9). For him we should gladly forsake all lesser loves (10), and honor him as the Lord of our hearts. When we commit ourselves to Jesus, our true bridegroom, he makes our lives fruitful (16,17).
Prayer: Lord, I love you and worship you. You are the King and Lord of my heart. Help me to hold your truth in my heart and live with you forever.
One Word: Jesus, my King
GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH
Key Verse: 46:1
1. God is an ever-present help (1-7)
Fear is the devil's most effective weapon. He uses it to make men his prisoners. But we do not need to fear, for God is our refuge and strength; he is ever-present. No matter how big the problem, it is not too big for God. Neither natural disasters nor wars nor inner anxieties can terrify us when we trust in God. When his kingdom is in our hearts, streams of living water flow from his throne to revive our souls.
2. Come and see the works of the Lord (8-9)
God is in control of events. He brings desolation on the earth to humble us and make us turn to him; he makes wars cease; he brings peace to troubled hearts.
3. Be still and know that I am God (10-11)
The Almighty God invites us to stop our busy-minded rushing around and be still. He wants all people of all nations to know that he is God and worship him--then there will be peace on earth.
Prayer: Lord, help me to wait quietly before you until I can see your hand at work.
One Word: Be still and know God
GOD IS KING OVER ALL THE EARTH
Key Verse: 47:7
1. God has subdued the nations (1-6)
God promised Abraham that his descendants would inherit the world (Ro 4:13; Ge 22:18). God is keeping that promise through his people whom he sends to proclaim the gospel to all nations, calling people of every tribe and tongue and nation to the obedience that comes from faith (Ro 1:5). He wants his people to be a kingdom of priests. May God hasten the day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess him as Lord and King. "Clap your hands, all you nations; sing praises to God, sing praises to our King."
2. God reigns over the nations (7-9)
The God of Abraham is the Sovereign Ruler of all the earth. The kings of the earth belong to him. Let us sing his praises.
Prayer: Lord, hasten the day when the Son of Man comes to establish his perfect reign on earth. Hasten the day when all creation is released from its bondage to sin and death and decay, and your image is completely restored in all people.
One Word: Praise the King of all the earth
THE CITY OF OUR GOD
Key Verse: 48:9
1. God makes her secure (1-8)
Jerusalem was the city of God. It was situated on top of a high mountain. King David had conquered it and made it his capitol. Jerusalem was the center of the nation's spiritual life, for the temple of the Lord was there on Mount Zion. God dwelt in his city, so she was secure. Even powerful aggressors fled from the gates of Jerusalem in terror. When God is in the midst of his people, the enemy Satan trembles, for God himself is a strong fortress (3).
2. We meditate on your love (9-14)
The temple is a place of prayer for all nations. When we gather in God's house to pray and study the Bible and meditate on God's unfailing love, then God is in our midst. When God's people pray for the nations of the world and seek to share his love with all people, God is pleased to bless and help and protect his people. Let us rejoice in God and tell his works to the next generation. He will be our guide even to the ends of the earth.
Prayer: Lord, dwell in our midst to be our source of life and power for the proclamation of your gospel to the world.
One Word: Pray together for world mission
GOD WILL REDEEM MY LIFE FROM THE GRAVE
Key Verse: 49:15
1. No man can redeem the life of another (1-11)
Those who trust in wealth are foolish, for no payment can ransom a man's life from the grave. Even though one lives in a fine house and has highways and streets named for him, still a tomb will be his house forever. The man who trusts in himself and in his wealth will die, leaving his wealth to others. He can take nothing with him.
2. God will redeem my life (12-20)
Indeed, "the ransom for a life is costly, and no payment is ever enough--that he should live on forever and not see decay" (8-9). But the Psalmist looks forward to Jesus. Verse 15 says, "God will redeem my life...he will surely take me to himself." The eternal God, the Creator of life, paid the ransom with the blood of his Son. When we put our trust in him, he redeems us from the grave and from hell, and takes us to himself. It is foolish to envy the proud, wealthy men who trust themselves and their riches.
Prayer: Lord, I put my trust in you, not in wealth or fame or human success.
One Word: God will redeem my life
GOD JUDGES THE EARTH
Key Verse: 50:23
1. God shines forth in beauty (1-15)
The Mighty God comes in beauty. He summons all the earth to come before him. To his own covenant people he speaks first. He does not need their gifts and offerings, for he owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He wants his people to offer to him the sacrifice of thanksgiving. He wants us to call on him in the day of trouble. He promises to deliver us. And we must honor him.
2. To the wicked God says:... (16-23)
The wicked have no claim on God's covenant promises. They break God's Ten Commandments: they steal, commit adultery, tell lies, slander brothers. They do not obey the word of God or even study it. In fact, they put the word of God behind them. God wants all people to sacrifice thank offerings to him and keep their promises. Those who forget God will be torn to pieces with none to rescue them. God will show the way to those who thank him.
Prayer: Lord, have mercy on me and teach me your word. Help me to honor you as God, and call on your name, and offer to you sacrifices of thanksgiving.
One Word: Do not despise the Law of God
CREATE IN ME A PURE HEART, O LORD
Key Verse: 51:10
1. Against you only have I sinned (1-6)
David committed a despicable sin--he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah killed to cover it up. But when God's servant confronted him, he did not try to cover up his sin any more. He realized that he had sinned against God. He humbly repented. God is compassionate and loving. He desires truth, and teaches wisdom in the inmost heart. Repentance is true wisdom. May God grant our leaders such wisdom.
2. Cleanse me and I will be clean (7-19)
David repented, but he knew that he could not cleanse himself. He needed God's cleansing and healing. He could not fix up his corrupted heart, so he asked the Almighty God to create in him a pure heart. He longed for his broken relationship with God to be restored; he longed for the Holy Spirit, and for the lost joy of salvation. Then he could teach others. One cannot purchase forgiveness with money or good deeds; one must come to God wit