A preface: I decided recently to start thinking about one Psalm every day during my quiet time each morning. It has come to my attention that I spend FAR too much time focusing on what I don’t have or what I don’t have yet, and so little time focusing on the One who gives me everything. I think the Psalms are a great opportunity to adjust this focus from myself to my Creator, who gives me all things, and spend time thanking Him for what I have instead of asking Him only for what I need all the time. I spend far too much time crying out to Him in want and far too little time acknowledging who He is.
My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered. God has spoken from his sanctuary: “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth. Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah is my scepter. Moab is my washbasin, on Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.” Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? Is it not you, God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies? Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.
The first thing that I notice here is that it is sort of split into 3 parts.
From verses 1-6, David talks about God’s glory, and he talks about singing praises to him. He mentions individual praise – he will start praising God first thing in the morning. He will start his day by praising with music. He mentions group praise – he will praise God among the nations – with other people from many different countries and with his own people. Then he says why he will do this – because of God’s attributes, including:
God’s great love (higher than heaven)
God’s great faithfulness (as high as the skies)
God’s glory (we lift you higher even than heaven, show your amazingness over the whole world)
From verses 7-9, David speaks some poetry as if from God’s mouth. He acknowledges God’s power and greatness (largeness). First he basically says that God will carve out and measure off Shechem and the Valley of Sukkoth. These are the two places that Jacob stopped on his way back to Canaan in Genesis 33 when he was returning home to reunited with Esau. Perhaps this is David’s acknowledgement that God has been with Israel all the time and has guided their steps before he brought them to the Promised Land, a representation of and literal victory. Then he talks about Gilead and Manasseh belonging to God. He says Ephraim, which was the most powerful tribe, is the helmet (they are powerful, so they provide protection for the head, makes perfect sense), and he says that Judah, the tribe of David’s, is the scepter (that makes sense because Judah is the tribe the rulers are from, which acknowledges its royalty – also Jesus is from Judah, so this could possibly be considered a prophetic moment?). Then in verse 9, he talks about the enemy – Moab, Edom, Philistia – and how he will defeat them. One is his washbasin – he’s cleaning himself of it, I suppose. At one he will toss his sandal – that sounds like either he is careless toward it or he will annihilate it by stepping right on it in his greatness. At one he will shout in triumph – we all know how David felt about the Philistines (hello, Goliath).
Verses 10-13 discuss David’s need for God’s help. He feels like God has abandoned his people up to this point, and that they don’t have victory because God isn’t with them anymore. Only a third of this whole psalm talks about what David needs. He spends far more of the time talking about the attributes of God and praising him than he spends asking for help. He clothes his need in praise of God, who he is confident will help them. He is sure that God will defeat the enemy, and he is sure that Israel cannot do it without God. Even his plea for help is a form of praise – God’s power is what will defeat the enemy, and nothing else. In verse 12, he says “human help is worthless.”
Now, I’m going to recreate this Psalm as my own prayer.
God, I will not give up on you. I will choose to sing to you. I will start my day with you every day, singing to you with music and praising your name! I will bring others into my praise – I will gather and praise your name with other people who know you will save. You are an incredible God. You have love that reaches higher than I can imagine. You are faithful beyond anything I could need or even want. I want you to be lifted higher than anything else, so that everything else falls away. It all pales in comparison to your glory. Your glory is greater than I can even see – it spreads beyond the entire world.
Help me, God. You are powerful, and you defeat your enemies. You are victorious. I know you have said that you will rescue your people, and you have been faithful. You will be able to rescue me from my sin, from my selfishness, from my pride, from my grief, because you are all powerful and wonderful.
I know you are the One who will rescue me, but I feel like you have left me alone. I cannot beat my sin, my selfishness, my pride, my grief, and my unbelief. Human help isn’t doing any good. Come with me in this, and heal me. With you, I will see victory, and you will defeat my sin and death with righteousness and light.