Psalms Readings – Week 3

Rev. Ben Lovell   -  

January 17 – Psalm 18

For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD. He sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:

1    I love you, LORD, my strength.

2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

3 I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,

and I have been saved from my enemies.

4 The cords of death entangled me;

the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.

5 The cords of the grave coiled around me;

the snares of death confronted me.

6 In my distress I called to the LORD;

I cried to my God for help.

From his temple he heard my voice;

my cry came before him, into his ears.

7 The earth trembled and quaked,

and the foundations of the mountains shook;

they trembled because he was angry.

8 Smoke rose from his nostrils;

consuming fire came from his mouth,

burning coals blazed out of it.

9 He parted the heavens and came down;

dark clouds were under his feet.

10 He mounted the cherubim and flew;

he soared on the wings of the wind.

11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—

the dark rain clouds of the sky.

12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,

with hailstones and bolts of lightning.

13 The LORD thundered from heaven;

the voice of the Most High resounded.

14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,

with great bolts of lightning he routed them.

15 The valleys of the sea were exposed 

and the foundations of the earth laid bare 

at your rebuke, LORD,

at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;

he drew me out of deep waters.

17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,

from my foes, who were too strong for me.

18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,

but the LORD was my support.

19 He brought me out into a spacious place;

he rescued me because he delighted in me.

20 The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness;

according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.

21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD;

I am not guilty of turning from my God.

22 All his laws are before me;

I have not turned away from his decrees.

23 I have been blameless before him 

and have kept myself from sin.

24 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,

according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,

to the blameless you show yourself blameless,

26 to the pure you show yourself pure,

but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.

27 You save the humble

but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

28 You, LORD, keep my lamp burning;

my God turns my darkness into light.

29 With your help I can advance against a troop;

with my God I can scale a wall.

30 As for God, his way is perfect:

The LORD’S word is flawless;

he shields all who take refuge in him.

31 For who is God besides the LORD?

And who is the Rock except our God?

32 It is God who arms me with strength

and keeps my way secure.

33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;

he causes me to stand on the heights.

34 He trains my hands for battle;

my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 You make your saving help my shield,

and your right hand sustains me;

your help has made me great.

36 You provide a broad path for my feet,

so that my ankles do not give way.

37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them;

I did not turn back till they were destroyed.

38 I crushed them so that they could not rise;

they fell beneath my feet.

39 You armed me with strength for battle;

you humbled my adversaries before me.

40 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,

and I destroyed my foes.

41 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—

to the LORD, but he did not answer.

42 I beat them as fine as windblown dust;

I trampled them like mud in the streets.

43 You have delivered me from the attacks of the people;

you have made me the head of nations.

People I did not know now serve me,

44 foreigners cower before me;

as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.

45 They all lose heart;

they come trembling from their strongholds.

46 The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!

Exalted be God my Savior!

47 He is the God who avenges me,

who subdues nations under me,

48 who saves me from my enemies.

You exalted me above my foes;

from a violent man you rescued me.

49 Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations;

I will sing the praises of your name.

50 He gives his king great victories;

he shows unfailing love to his anointed,

to David and to his descendants forever.

This psalm is David’s song of victory for God’s deliverance from his many years of battling enemies of all kinds. In highly symbolic language, he re-tells what God has done and how great He is. He gives all the praise to God for giving him strength and skill to win these many battles. He said it clearly in verse 32, “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”

What is the battle you are facing today? Hear this word from verse 30, “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.”

Memory Verse:

Psalm 19:14, May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Question(s) to Consider:

What descriptions of God and His actions bring you the most encouragement in this psalm? What verse will you take as your own promise for the battle you are facing?  

January 18 – Psalm 19

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

David describes the glory of God as revealed in nature and in the Word of God. The heavenly objects in our incomprehensibly vast universe continually testify to God’s glory without speaking an audible word. Day and night, creation relentlessly testifies how amazing our God is. Creation’s grandeur should cause us to be in awe and wonder, and pause to worship the Creator of it all. 

The Apostle Paul said it this way in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

David then turns to the testimony of God’s Word. He uses various terms to describe how God communicates His truth. We are told that God’s Word is perfect, trustworthy, righteous, radiant, firm, more precious than gold, and sweeter than honey. There is no flaw in what He has spoken or what we have written. It gives us reason to be certain what it accomplishes: it refreshes our soul, makes us wise, gives us joy and light, warns us, and gives us a great reward as we obey it.  

David then prays, asking for forgiveness when he has failed to keep God’s Word and that he would not commit a willful sin but be kept from any great sin. He closes with a prayer that beautifully asks that our words and our deepest thoughts would be pleasing to the Lord.  

Memory Verse:

Psalm 19:14, May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Question(s) to Consider:

What does creation speak to you about the nature of God? Of the many benefits listed of engaging God in his Word, which ones are you currently finding to be most true? 

January 19 – Psalm 20

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!

David has written a prayer that was to be sung on behalf of the people for their king. He reveals his heart that he wanted the people praying for him. We need to remember that kings of Israel were called to be spiritual leaders, as well as, governmental leaders. The prayer for help is to come from Zion, or Jerusalem, because it was the earthly capitol of God’s kingdom.

This is not a blank check prayer for God to give the king anything he desires. The request follows the king’s worship revealing his desire to be in God’s will. The king’s desire would be the same as God’s. 

Jesus said something similar when he told his followers to “ask . . . anything in my name” (John 14:14). The key, that it is in Jesus’ name, implies that such a prayer will be in tune with God’s will.

“Now this I know” stands at the center of the psalm which highlights the promises to follow. God’s right hand was a source of power that would guarantee victory for the king and his people. Horses and chariots were the backbone of the armies of the day. Chariots were the ancient equivalent of tanks. Israel was not to put its trust in their weaponry but in their God. 

The people know when the righteous king gains victory, so do they. So, they conclude their song with a powerful request for God to answer their prayer. 

Memory Verse:

Psalm 19:14, May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Question(s) to Consider:

What are we tempted to trust in? Today, for what do we need to trust in the reliable name of the Lord Jesus Christ? 

January 20 – Psalm 21

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

The king rejoices in your strength, Lord. How great is his joy in the victories you give!

You have granted him his heart’s desire    and have not withheld the request of his lips.
You came to greet him with rich blessings  and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
He asked you for life, and you gave it to him— length of days, for ever and ever.
Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;   you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
Surely you have granted him unending blessings  and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High  he will not be shaken.

Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies; your right hand will seize your foes.
When you appear for battle, you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace.
The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath, and his fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth, their posterity from mankind.
11 Though they plot evil against you   and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed.
12 You will make them turn their backs when you aim at them with drawn bow.

13 Be exalted in your strength, Lord; we will sing and praise your might.

This royal psalm picks up the similar themes from Psalm 20 and answers the prayers for victory asked in that psalm. Psalm 20 addresses David as the people sing a blessing over him, whereas, Psalm 21 praises God for how he has provided success for the king.

These two psalms remind us that we should not only ask God for help but, also, give thanks to God when he answers our prayers. Can you envision the energy of the worshipers who first sang asking for help and then sang in response with praise and thanksgiving for the answer?

The king rejoices in the strength the Lord has given him. Because his heart’s desires aligned with God’s will, God answered. God poured out abundant blessings over and over revealing the greatness of His glory. 

I love the line that David was made glad with the joy of God’s presence. Unlike so many others, David knew God personally. The heart of the Christian faith is such a close connection that propels us to be effective disciple-makers of Jesus Christ. 

David enters into this joyful place because he has put his absolute trust in the Lord. Such trust is possible because he has experiential knowledge of the Lord’s unfailing love for him. Do you know of God’s unfailing love for you as revealed in Jesus Christ? Have you received that love? 

Stop, reflect, and enjoy this holy place that David has entered as you enter into it yourself. Declare with David, “Be exalted in your strength, Lord; we will sing and praise your might.”  

Memory Verse:

Psalm 19:14, May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Question(s) to Consider:

Are you careful to give thanks to God for his answers? For what would you give Him thanks right now? Are you happy in the joy of God’s presence? If not, what is holding you back?

January 21 – Psalm 22

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

1    My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me,

so far from my cries of anguish?

2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,

by night, but I find no rest.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;

you are the one Israel praises. 

4 In you our ancestors put their trust;

they trusted and you delivered them.

5 To you they cried out and were saved;

in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,

scorned by everyone, despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me;

they hurl insults, shaking their heads.

8 “He trusts in the LORD,” they say,

“let the LORD rescue him.

Let him deliver him,

since he delights in him.”

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;

you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.

10 From birth I was cast on you;

from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,

for trouble is near

and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;

strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13 Roaring lions that tear their prey

open their mouths wide against me.

14 I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint.

My heart has turned to wax;

it has melted within me.

15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,

and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;

you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,

a pack of villains encircles me;

they pierce my hands and my feet.

17 All my bones are on display;

people stare and gloat over me.

18 They divide my clothes among them 

and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, LORD, do not be far from me.

You are my strength; come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver me from the sword,

my precious life from the power of the dogs.

21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;

save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;

in the assembly I will praise you.

23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!

All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!

Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

24 For he has not despised or scorned 

the suffering of the afflicted one;

he has not hidden his face from him 

but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;

before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;

those who seek the LORD will praise him—

may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth

will remember and turn to the LORD,

and all the families of the nations 

will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the LORD

and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;

all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—

those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him;

future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness,

declaring to a people yet unborn:

He has done it!

In verses 1-21, David deeply expresses his passion and pain. In verses 22-31, he takes an abrupt turn to praising God. The first part focuses on David experiencing unmatched suffering as a person. In the second part, David returns to his role as king, thanking God before the people and extending his vision to the nations. This psalm sharply contrasts with the preceding psalms, which celebrate David the godly king. 

David uses figurative language to express the depth of his distress. His vision extends beyond his own day, as he says, “all the families of the nations will bow down before” the Lord. As Christians who read this, we cannot escape hearing all the parallels to Jesus’ suffering. What David used as figurative expressions became literal statements and sufferings for Jesus. Just as David suffered severely before he became king so did Jesus before resurrecting and ascending to the heavenly throne as King of kings. This psalm reminds us, as the Apostle Paul often does, that suffering should not be a surprise for God’s faithful. Our hope in suffering is that it often comes before glory. 

Memory Verse:

Psalm 19:14, May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Question(s) to Consider:

How many parallels can you find in this psalm with Jesus’ suffering? How does your understanding of suffering fit into your overall understanding of the Christian faith? How do you explain the “why have you forsaken me” expression of suffering? 

January 22 – Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

This is the most well-known psalm of all. It has been memorized by many. It has brought comfort to countless grieving people as it has been read frequently at funerals. It is a beautiful description of how God lovingly relates to His people throughout life’s ups and downs.  

David made the faith statement that we know the Lord is our personal Shepherd when we do not want for more. We are completely satisfied with what God has given.  

God leads us to those soul-refreshing places that are envisioned by the abundance of green pastures and the serene stream where we can easily drink from His endless supply of living water. 

As our Shepherd, he leads us along the right path as revealed in His word and by His will. He guides us along in His fascinating story of redemption for the glory of His holy name. 

And when we walk through the darkest valleys of life, guess what? God is right there with us! We need not fear. As a shepherd uses his rod of protection and staff of comfort, so God does the same for us in the dim dark places we can easily find ourselves.  

Even when opposition surrounds us, it is there that God provides generously what we need. He anoints us with the oil of His Holy Spirit, so much so, our hearts are overwhelmed with God’s presence within us. The promise we can cling to is that God’s goodness and love chase after us each day, every day of our lives, until we safely arrive and dwell in God’s eternal home. 

Memory Verse:

Psalm 19:14, May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Question(s) to Consider:

What images of God as your Shepherd stand out for you? How does this psalm speak into your heart today? How does God refresh you?

January 23 – Psalm 24

Of David. A psalm.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory.

This psalm tells of the Lord himself entering Jerusalem to take his rightful place on “the mountain of the Lord,” where “his holy place” stands. This psalm was, likely, composed for a processional into the city where the Lord’s kingship was celebrated. A possible occasion is when David had the ark of the covenant brought into Jerusalem and then danced before the Lord.

The temple was not yet built, but the soft-sided tabernacle still served as God’s house. In later years, entering the temple courts would have been in view. This psalm affirms Yahweh’s claim of ownership of all the earth based on his having established it on firm foundations (vv. 1–2). It then reviews who is worthy to ascend the mountain of the Lord (vv. 3–6). It ends with words that may have been shouted in the processional, praising the Lord as the King of glory (vv. 7–10). 

The psalm asks, like Psalm 15, who may come into God’s presence to worship. The one with clean hands, a pure heart, and does not bow a knee to an idol. Humbling ourselves before the Lord and confessing our sin in preparation for gathering to worship is a good practice to adopt so that we can be a holy instrument of worship who seeks the Lord and receives His blessing.  

Memory Verse:

Psalm 19:14, May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Question(s) to Consider:

How will you spiritually prepare yourself to worship with others in the holy presence of the Lord?