Psalm 123 has the psalmist putting God where He belongs – on the pedestal of his life. Look at how the psalmist views God:
- “I lift up my eyes
- you who are enthroned in the heavens
- as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master
- as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress
- our eyes look to the Lord our God”
The psalmist begins by reminding us that we have to choose to lift up our eyes to God. We make a choice to put Him on the throne. We make a choice to put God where He belongs – right in the center of our life.
God sits in the heavens – He is above us in every way. He is our master, and we need to remember that we are His servants. Often we get that backward. We treat God like He is our servant. We come to Him with a list of things we expect Him to do for us. That is how our prayers often go, don’t they? God please do this. God please do that. God I want this or I want that. We need to keep in mind that He is Lord. He is in control. He is the one whom deserves our praise and submission.
The psalmist goes on to remind us that we need to seek God for His mercy. “Have mercy upon us, O Lord”. If not for God’s mercy, we have no future. Mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we deserve. As sinners, or people who fall short of God’s expectations, we deserve condemnation leading to death. That is what a Holy God needs to deliver. But because of His love for us, He made a way through Jesus for us to escape the penalty of death. That is based on His mercy. That is us not receiving what we deserve. God is a merciful and loving God. He loves us oh so much.
Psalm 121 is a short eight verses, but a powerful chapter that we all need to learn and cling to. David begins by reminding us where we need to look for all things: “I lift my eyes to the hills”. He is referring to looking to God. We need to keep our eyes focused there. He alone can give us solutions. He alone is our strength and sustenance. David asks a rhetorical question next: “From where does my help come”? He knows the answer well as he has experienced it over and over.
“My help comes from the Lord”. It isn’t about trying harder and doing more ourselves. It is about learning to trust God and let Him do what He does – which is be in control of all things. Can we really trust Him to handle it? David reminds us that we can: “who made heaven and earth”. God is qualified. He is able. He doesn’t need our help. What He does require is our trust. He does require us to seek His help. But David tells us “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber”. God doesn’t take vacation. He isn’t too busy. He not only is able, but will take care of us if we allow Him to.
Here is the truth set forth in plain English: “The Lord is your keeper”. That is one we need to hang on to. David goes on to give it some detail. Here is what it means that the Lord is keeper:
- “the Lord is your shade on your right hand
- The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night
- The Lord will keep you from all evil
- he will keep your life
- The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore”
David gives a pretty all inclusive look at God’s ability to be our keeper. He is able, more than able, to keep us safe.
This is a short chapter – but one we should memorize and cling tightly to. God will keep us – now and forevermore. He is able to deal with the evil all around us. He holds our life in the palm of His hand. God is our keeper. He is the source of our help. We need to quit depending on self, and put our eyes on the One who can truly hold us up. God is the only source of help we can truly depend on. Other people will let us down. We will fail ourselves. God never fails. He never is unable. He alone is worthy of our trust and our praise!
Psalm 63 has David expressing how much He loves God. Listen to how he talks with the Father while in the wilderness:
- “You are my God
- Earnestly I seek you
- My soul thirsts for you
- My flesh faints for you”
David says he has looked upon God and beheld his “power and glory”. This describes a love relationship with the Father. David has seen and grown to love God deeply.
But he goes on and says “your steadfast love is better than life”. Did you hear that? God’s love is better than life. It is the most awesome thing we will ever experience. It is amazing and yet we often take it for granted. Do you know God’s love? Have you experienced His goodness. His love is steadfast – it lasts forever.
David tells us what the response should be to God’s love. Check out how he responds:
- “My lips will praise thee
- I will bless you
- I will lift up my hands
- I will remember you upon my bed
- I will meditate on you in the watches of the night
- I will sing for joy”
Why? Because “you have been my help….your right hand upholds me”. God has been faithful – to David – but also to you and me. He deserves our praise. He deserves our response.
David ends the chapter with the confidence that God will take care of him and give him the victory. God is in control. David knows it. We should know it too. We can trust in Him. We too can experience his love which is better than life. All we need to do is come to Him and seek His face. He stands ready to come to our aid. He is God. His love endures forever!
Psalm 54 has David asking for God’s help. He comes to God with a lot of simple requests:
- “save me
- vindicate me
- hear my prayer
- give ear to the words of my mouth”
When do you go to God for help? What do you ask Him? He doesn’t require special holy prayers – just honest from the heart requests. He wants us to come to Him with what bothers us. Nothing is too small. Nothing in too unimportant. God cares about all of our desires and the things that matter to our heart.
So how does David see God? The same way we should see Him. “God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life”. God is not genie in a bottle – but He does care about us. He is our helper. He is our strength. He is the one who gave us life but also helps us live it well. We can come to Him as helper and friend.
But with God’s help, there is also something that we should do in return. David shows us how. “With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good. For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies”. How do you praise God for what He has done? How do you say thanks? We need to call out His goodness. We need to share His blessing. He is King and Lord and deserves our praise. It is what He desires from us.
Psalm 35 has David again asking God to “rescue me” from his enemies. And they are many and everywhere David turns. There are those who are out to get rid of him, starting at the throne down to the very scum of the kingdom. But David knows his redeemer. “Great is the Lord…..my God and my Lord…..say to my soul….I am your salvation”. David knows that God is His Savior and will keep him safe.
He prays to God to deal with his enemies:
- “Let them be put to shame
- Let them be turned back and disappointed
- Let them be like chaff before the wind
- Let their way be dark and slippery
Let destruction come upon him
- let the net that he hid ensnare him”
David has some specific ways he wants God to work. And he is ready to just be rid of these guys that continue to chase him. He wants freedom to live without fear of someone trying to knock him off.
David is clear that he has not acted in this manner. “But I, when they were sick— I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest. I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother; as one who laments his mother, I bowed down in mourning”. David has not returned their evil with evil – he has treated them well. David has been a decent man who has not gloated in the troubles his enemies have experienced.
But David is clear how he will respond to God’s hand. “My soul will rejoice in the Lord, exulting in his salvation…. my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long”. David knows that God is his refuge and strength. And he is willing to let the world know about that love and care. He is not ashamed to tell the world that God is the reason for his ability to survive and thrive. Do you let people in your patch know that God is in control of your life? Do you let the world know that God is your strength?
Psalm 17 has David reaching out to God to get some attention. He wants God’s help with his situation. So he cries out. He asks God to listen. Sometimes we just take on the overwhelming in our own power and never even give God a second thought. We forget that He is waiting for our call – that He desires to come to our aid. But we need to ask Him to do that. We need to seek His help.
David reminds us that he is walking rightly with God. Not in a prideful way – but the facts – just the facts:
- “You have tried my heart
- you have visited me by night
- you have tested me
- you will find nothing
- I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress
- I have avoided the ways of the violent
- My steps have held fast to your paths
- my feet have not slipped”
David is walking well with God. He lives his life openly before God. He has a relationship – one that allows him to seek God’s help at any time. “I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. Wondrously show your steadfast love”. David knows God well. They have a relationship that is on a first name basis. David knows God loves him and will answer when he calls. We can have that same kind of relationship.
David calls to God to protect him. He asks God to keep him in a special place. “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings”. David is looking to God for his protection, not his own credentials as a mighty warrior. Remember that he has killed tens of thousands yet he comes to God for protection. That is wisdom – when we rely on God rather than self. He makes sure the battle is the Lords. “Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men by your hand”. David puts his trust in God alone. But he never forgets the foundation – his relationship with God. He keeps God where He belongs. “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness”.
Psalm 142 has David communicating with the Lord. David is going through a rough patch – he actually goes through a lot of patches like that. For a guy who was anointed to be king, it sure isn’t a smooth process. But we learn here that it is ok to just be real with God. We don’t have to pretend. We don’t have to talk to Him in any certain way. We just need to seek His face openly and honestly. We need to be willing to humbly approach the throne.
So what do we see David do? He shows us four different ways he approached God:
- “I cry out to the Lord
- I plead for mercy
- I pour out my complaint
- I tell my trouble”
Let’s face it – David isn’t shy about letting God know how he feels. He isn’t quiet about being real. He just lets it all out.
He is feeling pretty low. Sort of a woe is me attitude – “no one cares for my soul”. He is in a very lonely spot. No one is on his side save God. David asks God to do three things:
- “Attend to my cry
- Deliver me from my persecutors
- Bring me out of prison”
David asks God to show his hand. He asks God to take action and respond to his needs. He is in a lonely spot.
But David knows where he sits in relationship with God. He knows God is the source to fix his problems. “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living….you will deal bountifully with me”. David understands one key thing – that God never leaves nor forsakes. God never lets us down. People will fail us over and over. They will run when trouble comes and leave us to deal with it on our own. But God is always there. He is our portion. He is our refuge. He is the one who will stand with us. We just need to be honest with God and ask Him to take action. He is there and listening and waiting for our call.
Psalm 141 has David asking God for protection. He is being hunted down by his enemies. He knows that God alone is his refuge and strength, and he asks God to keep him safe. “Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers”. Do you seek God’s protection? Do you call out to him to keep you safe and sound? Often we don’t cry out to him until we are in the middle of deep dodo.
But not just physically safe – he also asks God to help him with his interaction with others. David asks for three things:
- “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth
- keep watch over the door of my lips
- Do not let my heart incline to any evil”
David understands that the mouth is a very powerful thing. What comes out of it can be damaging, and we need to guard it well. We need to seek God’s help in keeping our heart and our mouth in submission to God. Our lips are a gateway to our heart – it shows what is in there – as out of the heart comes our words.
David also teaches us a very important truth – the power of rebuke. Most of us don’t like to be accountable and have others rebuke us. But David says it like this: “Let a righteous man strike me – it is a kindness; let him rebuke me – it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it”. Most of us don’t look kindly at correction from others. But we need to not only embrace it – but seek out others who will help us walk our walk well. Accountability is a very powerful tool in spiritual growth.
We see David’s heart when he says “my eyes are toward you….in you I seek refuge”. David doesn’t let circumstances get all his attention. He keeps focused on the One who can sustain and protect him. He seeks refuge from the One who can actually provide it. David understands that God alone is his source of life. We need to learn this lesson well. We need to understand that God is our protector. He is our provider. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. David seeks God’s help and asks that “the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely”. He knows that God is able. He knows that God is in control. We can learn much from his example.
Psalm 140 has David’s plea to God. He asks God to do three things:
- “Deliver me
- Preserve me (twice)
- Guard me”
David is under the gun. His enemies “plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually”. There is no rest. They are after him all the time. And as is his normal response, he reaches out to God. He prays for God to take action on his behalf.
Let’s not forget that David is a warrior, and a very good one at that. He is probably very capable of taking matters into his own hands and dealing with his enemies. But that is not how he approaches his situation. “I say to the Lord, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O Lord”! He puts his trust in God. He let’s God take care of the situation he is facing. His faith in God is stronger than his belief in self. There is much to learn from that attitude.
How can David do that? Because he knows his Lord. “O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle”. He has a relationship with the Lord and knows what He can do. That is how we can have the same response as David. We spend time with God and get to know Him in a way that we understand what He can do. We consider the past and the history of God’s faithfulness, not only in our own life, but in the lives of those around us and who have gone before us. God can be trusted. David clearly knows that.
He trusts God to deal with his enemies. He calls on God to take action on his behalf. And he also gives God credit for the victory. “Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence”. If we are walking rightly with God, we will give Him the glory for what happens. We will point to Him with credit for what He has done. And we will live in an awareness of His presence in our life. We will dwell there!
Psalm 120 has David responding to the lies of his enemies. They were out to destroy him – and these were not outsiders – but people he knew and proclaimed themselves to be his friends. How did he deal with it? He prayed. He asked God to deal with it. And scripture tells us that when David prayed – “he answered me”. David called out to God and He responded. That is what God does!
So what did David pray? He asked God to deliver him. He asked God to set him free “from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue”. Lies can be very damaging – and they certainly were in David’s case. Lies have been the demise of many throughout history. Jesus Himself was crucified because of lies told by his accusers. The power of the tongue for evil is great. We need to guard our tongues closely, and realize that God does not look kindly on a deceitful tongue.
David does whine a bit about the result of the lying tongues that were creating a challenge for him. The reference to the people of Meshech and Kedar refer to people who were a bit barbarian and rough around the edges. Remember that David was to be king, and yet because Saul pursued him he was forced to live in less than kingly places. He lived amongst the rough with “those who hate peace”. Lying, even though it is filled with untruth, can cause us to be put out of what should happen. The power of a lie is very great as David experienced.
David reiterates what we have seen in his life – that he is a man of peace. “I am for peace”. Remember that at least twice he had opportunity to kill Saul and did not – sparing his life. Yet Saul, and likely those David was forced to live with, were not focused on peace. They were for war. They wanted to express their feelings outrightly and do things that would cause hurt, pain and death. David walked his talk. He was not caught up in the rhetoric, or driven by the actions of those around him, even when he was the target of their efforts to kill him. Bottom line is that David trusted God. He went to Him with his challenges, and trusted Him for the outcome. We can learn much about how to be a man after God’s heart by observing how David lives.