Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Verse - Psalm 144:3-4

 Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
    who trains my hands for war,
    and my fingers for battle;
he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
    my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
    who subdues peoples under me.

O Lord, what is man that you regard him,
    or the son of man that you think of him?
Man is like a breath;
    his days are like a passing shadow.

Hi, this is Luke again, doing a guest entry for Hannah. This time I thought I would write about Psalm 144. Like most of David's psalms, this is a wonderful hymn of praise, but it's also important to remember that it contains theology, which motivates the praise.
Naturally, the above passage is not the whole psalm - just the first 4 verses. They will definitely provide enough material for today, however.

The proper beginning of theology is the study of God's attributes. The first two verses of Psalm 144 do this very well. First, David talks about the Lord training him for battle. John Macarthur notes that David lived in a time when Israel was God's chosen nation on earth, and thus God empowered him as the king to fight against the country's enemies.

David then lists at least seven things that the Lord is to those who trust in Him (probably no coincidence that there are seven). God is David's steadfast love - the One who loves him and gives him love (1 John 4:19). He is David's fortress and his stronghold - the One who protects him from enemies. When reading David's many psalms praying for deliverance from enemies, I have often wondered how they apply to someone like myself, since I am fortunate enough to have nobody actively trying to hurt me. However, the deadliest enemies God delivers us from are sin, Satan and self - all of which are faced by everyone. No matter how "good" we think our lives are, we are all sinners, and the only way we can be saved from God's wrath and judgement is through the great deliverance that He accomplished through Christ's death on the cross. If we trust in Jesus Christ to save us from our sin, we are delivered.

God was also David's shield and refuge. This is a common theme in the Psalms. It's interesting that there are so many military metaphors not only in the Psalms, but in the rest of Scripture as well - take Paul's description of the armour of God in Ephesians 6, for example. Here again, there is a shield - the shield of faith, provided by God's grace, which quenches all the flaming darts of the evil one (Eph. 6:16). The message here is that we cannot defeat sin or Satan on our own. In our human weakness, they will always be too strong for us. But greater s He who is in us than he who is in the world! (1 John 4:4.)

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