Under the Shadow of His Wings: Chapter 17
What an uplifting Psalm! If you haven’t already read it, go ahead and read along with me now. If you don’t have a Bible, or don’t have yours with you, just hop on over to Blue Letter Bible and check it out.
David was nothing if not a worshiper! But when he came before God, to plead a cause, he never tried to come as if he was perfect. In fact, if we jump ahead to Psalm 139, you’ll see David asking God to try him, search his heart, reveal any unknown and unconfessed wickedness or sin.
Not My Hands, but God’s
Overall, in the first three chapters here, David is basically saying that he really believes his cause is right, and he hasn’t found anything in his own heart that would condemn him. Still, he waits for the “sentence” to come from God. Because only then will it truly be right!
What a contrast in today’s world where many Christians tell God what they expect BECAUSE they are doing the right things! True, we DO have an advocate in Him, but only if we are in right standing. And who knows that about themselves?
Passing the Test
Let’s just be real for a minute… it takes a certain level of maturity to be able to ask God to test us! I’ve prayed it myself, with… shall we say “interesting” results! Praise God, though, his chastening when he finds something deserving of it is far better to fall into the hands of an enemy!
…Let us fall now into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are great; and let me not fall into the hand of man.2 Samuel 24:14
This verse, taken from 2 Samuel, is also a quote from David. It was his heart cry, even in perilous times, to be judged by God and not man.
But asking for God to try us, as David did, might actually wind up with God showing us that WE are wrong, and someone else – that we thought was wrong – is actually right! To truly take His judgments and His lessons for what they really are, we have to care MORE for His own standards of what right and wrong are than whether or not we “win”.
In a post I wrote in the latter part of 2018, entitled Christian Living is Messy Sometimes!, I talked about praying a heartwrenching prayer that felt extremely justified to ME. But God checked my spirit fiercely!
It turns out, I was praying selfishly! Selfish praying is an oppression from the enemy, and while we feel righteous in praying it, God will not hear that prayer. He cannot honor that prayer, due to His own pure Righteousness, because we are not in a position to receive it.
That’s why, before we pray, (especially if we are in a place of extreme emotional turmoil), we MUST consider a few things before praying. For instance, is it a prayer that stems from disobedience? Or selfishness, like me? Are we neglecting one of our God-given duties? Is there something we need to make right? Do we really have our priorities in line?
Transgressing with the Mouth
I think that many times, we talk ourselves into more trouble than we think we do, and it blessed my heart to even see David speak of the same thing when he said, in verse 3, “I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.”
And you know what? He must have talked about this very thing quite often because his son, Solomon, reiterated the idea while teaching his own son:
Death and life are in the power of the tonue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.Proverbs 18:20
I’ve always said that being created in God’s Own Image, we must surely have inherited some of that creative word power that God used to bring an entire WORLD into existence. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have pointed it out so many times throughout Scripture!
Words from God’s Mouth
David continued with this idea of words when he said that it was the words from God’s own lips that had kept him from destructive paths.
And there it is!
David lived by God’s Word! Not some rendition of it. Not someone else’s take-aways or notes. He didn’t rely on anyone’s words except God’s. And shouldn’t that be the way that we are? Especially in this dreadful world we live in?
David goes on to talk about how those Words kept him from the paths of the destroyer, and we often think that he’s talking about protection. I wager that perhaps, he might rather have been talking about how God kept him from becoming a destroyer!
Through all that he went through in his struggles with Saul, time and again we see that David could easily have ended Saul’s life. But each and every time the opportunity was handed to him on a silver platter, he refused it.
Mercy, Grace, and Prayer
I’ll never forget a lesson I learned, though I HAVE forgotten where I learned it! It’s the definitions of “mercy” and “grace”. Mercy is “not getting” what we “do deserve”, while grace, on the other hand, is “getting” what we “don’t deserve”.
David knew he had God’s mercy, but grace is a result of prayer. It’s true, he may have been on the right path, but that doesn’t mean that our feet won’t sometimes slip.
God Provides Safety
It’s plain, from this Psalm, that David is entirely calm in knowing that even though his problems remain, that God is faithful. That God would hear when he cried out to him.
What’s more, there is an earnest expectation on David’s part, of the kind of reply that he would receive. He asks for lovingkindness… which is the first mention of this word in the Psalms, actually. But more than that, he expects “marvelous” lovingkindness!
For most of us, when we pray, we only expect a moderate amount of lovingkindness at all. Lovingkindness means “faithfulness” and “favor”. And can we say that when we pray, we can expect God’s response to be “marvelous”? Let alone, specifically ask for it to be, when we pray?
David could do that because of the prior verses. He’d prayed from a place of desiring that God would test him, try him, and show him if there was anything there that shouldn’t be there. He asked God to sentence him according to justice. He’d lined himself up with God’s Word.
And this is where the rubber meets the road!
Amazing Examples of Love
David goes on to ask for examples of God’s love. He asks to be kept as the apple of God’s eye and to be hidden under the shadow of His wings. Both of these insinuate that David realized just how fragile and easily damaged he was. While in contrast, God was big enough and loving enough to provide the required protection in both instances!
Protection Against Our Enemies
As the Psalm closes out, David prays for protection against enemies that are arrogant and blatant. He says they were dangerous and plotted to kill him, and then seeks out God for total deliverance.
We know that David wasn’t “afraid” of these enemies. In 1 Samuel 17:33-37, we find that even as a young boy, he had beaten both a bear and a lion, protecting his sheep.
At this point, however, he didn’t care about his own glory. The thing that was going to keep him alive was God’s glory! We’ll never win any popularity contests, but putting Jesus first is the only way to allow Him to truly protect us, and David knew that!
Great Victory = Great Praise: Chapter 18
There are only three chapters in the book of Psalms longer than this one: chapters 78, 89, and 119. As such, I’m not going to break it down like I usually do. But there are some points I’d like to touch on. You can compare this Psalm with 2 Samuel 22, which is very much the same.
Praise for Deliverance
The first three verses talk about the praise David has for the times that God has delivered him. And he loves the Lord DEARLY for it. Having lived about 20 years as a fugitive AFTER being anointed as the coming-king of Israel, he’d lost everything. And yet, God delivered him from it all.
The names that David uses for God in these opening verses also show that it wasn’t just some happenstance decision to love, but rather that he knew and had experienced God. Furthermore, he knows that this personal relationship has and will continue to save him from his enemies.
He takes some time to explain some of the dangers that led him to cry out to and rely on the LORD in the first place. This is followed by a few glimpses into more amazing deliverance, under some of the direst circumstances.
Praise for Safety
David understood that there were many times in his life when he faced things that endangered both his spirit and his life in general. We’ve all felt like we were drowning, and here we see David speaking about something very similar, but God drew him out of those waters.
David’s righteousness is rewarded, as he points out in verses 20-24. He knew that there was safety to be found in keeping God’s statutes and knowing that he should refrain from sin. The importance of keeping himself from iniquity is echoed in the New Testament, by Paul, in 2 Timothy 2:21.
Praise for God’s Character
WHO God is, is a very important thing to know. In that knowledge is a certain degree of power, as David recounts in verses 28-30. He goes on, through verse 36, to describe the strength he attains from God’s attributes and his judgment, if you will, towards David’s righteousness.
Again, as in Job, we see David celebrating the fact that there is NO GOD except THE LORD. And in the same verse that speaks to God’s great power, David also admits that it is God’s gentleness that made him great.
Praise for Victory
Only after talking about God’s deliverance, and safety, and character, does David even begin to talk about his own victory over his enemies. Which, of course, wouldn’t have been possible with all the previous things.
Verses 43-49 show the establishment of the throne of David, and finally, in the last verse, God blesses the anointed king of so long ago.
Have you ever been brave enough to truly ask God to test you… and MEAN IT? I have prayed the prayer, but I admit, I shivered while doing it! My greatest fear – aside from children missing salvation – is that I would in any way bring dishonor to my Jesus!! Still, as the Bible says, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God!
Lord Jesus, forgive me if I have ever considered myself worthy of anything apart from You! Forgive my feet for stepping anywhere outside of Your perfect will for my life, and guide me onto the path that I should be traveling, even if it doesn’t feel perfect to my flesh. Give me that hope that comes only from Your Presence, and I’ll never fail to give you the glory for it all, in Jesus’ Name, AMEN!