Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament book of the Psalms, which is a collection of prayers and petitions within psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters fifty-five through sixty of this Old Testament book. PSALM 3: A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN HE FLED FROM ABSALOM HIS SON! PSALM 7: SIGGAION OF DAVID, WHICH HE SANG UNTO THE LORD, CONCERNING THE WORDS OF CUSH THE BENJAMITE! PSALM 18: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN, A PSALM OF DAVID, THE SERVANT OF THE LORD, WHO SPAKE UNTO THE LORD THE WORDS OF THIS SONG IN THE DAY THAT THE LORD DELIVERED HIM FROM THE HAND OF ALL HIS ENEMIES, AND FROM THE HAND OF SAUL! PSALM 30: A PSALM AND SONG AT THE DEDICATION OF THE HOUSE OF DAVID! PSALM 34: A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN HE CHANGED HIS BEHAVIOUR BEFORE ABIMELECH: WHO DROVE HIM AWAY, AND HE DEPARTED PSALM 51: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN, A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN NATHAN THE PROPHET CAME UNTO HIM, AFTER HE HAD GONE IN TO BATH-SHEBA! PSALM 52: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN, MASCHIL, A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN DOET THE EDOMITE CAME AND TOLD SAUL, AND SAID UNTO HIM, DAVID IS COME TO THE HOUSE OF AHIMELECH! PSALM 54: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN ON BEGINOTH, MASCHIL, A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN THE ZIPHIMS CAME AND SAID TO SAUL, DOTH NOT DAVID HIDE HIMSELF WITH US! PSALM 56: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN UPON JONAH-ELEM-RECHO-KIM, MICHTAM OF DAVID, WHEN THE PHILISTINES TOOK HIM IN GATH! PSALM 57: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN, AL-TASCHITH, MICHTAM OF DAVID, WHEN HE FLED FROM SAUL IN THE CAVE! PSALM 59: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN, AL-TASCHITH, MICHTAM OF DAVID; WHEN SAUL SENT, AND THEY WATCHED THE HOUSE TO KILL HIM! PSALM 60: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN UPON SHUSHAN-EDUTH, MICHTAM OF DAVID, TO TEACH; WHEN HE STROVE WITH ARAM-NAHARAIM AND WITH ARAM-ZOBAH, WHEN JOAB RETURNED, AND SMOTE EDOMITE IN THE VALLEY OF SALT TWELVE-THOUSAND! PSALM 63: A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN HE WAS IN THE WILDERNESS OF JUDAH! PSALM 142: MASCHIL OF DAVID; A PRAYER WHEN HE WAS IN THE CAVE! WHAT PRAYERS DO YOU PRAY WHEN YOU’RE IN THE MIDST OF CONFLICT? WHAT SONGS DO YOU SING WHEN YOU’RE IN THE MIDST OF A STRUGGLE? HOW DO YOU REACT AND HOW DO YOU RESPOND WHEN YOU’RE IN THE MIDST OF SOMETHING THAT IS OR SEEMS TO BE TOO GREAT FOR YOU TO HANDLE? WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN DAVID TURNED OVER THESE PSALMS TO BE SUNG? WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR DAVID TO TURN OVER THESE PRAYERS TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN FOR THE WORSHIP OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD? WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO TURN YOUR PRAYER JOURNAL OVER TO THE LEVITES, AND PERHAPS EVEN THE PRIESTS OF THE LORD? WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO TURN OVER THE DEEPEST EXPRESSIONS OF YOUR HEART? IT’S ONE THING TO TURN OVER HYMNS AND SONGS YOU WROTE, HOWEVER, IT’S ANOTHER TO TURN OVER THOSE WORDS YOU PRAYED AND SANG WHEN YOU WERE IN THE MIDST OF IT! THE VERY FACT THAT WE HAVE HEADINGS FOR THESE PSALMS SUGGESTS THAT DAVID ALSO REVEALED THE INSPIRATION FOR THE PSALMS!
A PSALM WHEN YOU’RE FLEEING! A PSALM CONCERNING THE SLANDEROUS WORDS OF ANOTHER! A PSALM WHEN THE LORD HAS DELIVERED YOU OUT OF THE HAND OF ALL YOUR ENEMIES! A PSALM WHEN YOU ENTER INTO THE ENEMY’S TERRITORY (WHEN YOU THINK AND FEEL YOU HAVE TO PRETEND TO BE SOMEONE OR SOMETHING YOU’RE NOT) A PSALM OF REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION BEFORE THE LORD! A PSALM WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN BETRAYED INTO THE HANDS OF AN ENEMY! A PSALM WHEN OTHERS HAVE GIVEN YOU UP TO YOUR ENEMIES! A PSALM WHEN YOU DEPART FROM THE INHERITANCE AND HERITAGE OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD AND ENTER INTO THE TERRITORY OF THE ENEMY! A PSALM WHEN YOU FLEE AND FIND YOURSELF IN A CAVE! A PSALM WHEN MEN LIE IN WAIT TO STRIKE YOU DOWN AND KILL YOU! A PSALM WHEN YOU STRIVE AGAINST YOUR ENEMIES! A PSALM WHEN YOU’RE IN THE WILDERNESS! A PSALM WHEN YOU’RE IN THE CAVE! FLEEING! HIDING! RUNNING! THE CAVE! THE WILDERNESS! THE TERRITORY OF THE ENEMY! WHO AND WHAT DO YOU HOLD ON TO IN THE MIDST OF YOUR TROUBLING TIMES! WHERE DO YOU TURN IN THE MIDST OF YOUR CONFLICT AND STRUGGLE? AS FOR ME, I WILL CALL UPON GOD; AND THE LORD SHALL SAVE ME. EVENING, AND MORNING, AND AT NOON, WILL I PRAY, AND CRY ALOUD: AND HE SHALL HEAR MY VOICE. HE HATH DELIVERED MY SOUL IN PEACE FROM THE BATTLE THAT WAS AGAINST ME: FOR THERE WERE MANY WITH ME! CAST THY BURDEN UPON THE LORD, AND HE SHALL USTAIN THEE: HE SHALL NEVER SUFFER THE RIGHTEOUS TO BE MOVED. BUT THOU, O GOD, SHALT BRING THEM DOWN INTO THE PIT OF DESTRUCTION! WHAT TIME I AM AFRAID, I WILL TRUST IN THEE. IN GOD I WILL PRAISE HIS WORD, IN GOD I HAVE PUT MY TRUST; I WILL NOT FEAR WHAT FLESH CAN DO UNTO ME! WHEN I CRY UNTO THEE, THEN SHALL MINE ENEMIES TURN BACK: THIS I KNOW; FOR GOD IS FOR ME. IN GOD WILL I PRAISE HIS WORD: IN THE LORD I WILL PRAISE HIS WORD. IN GOD HAVE I PUT MY TRUST: I WILL NOT BE AFRAID WHAT MAN CAN DO UNTO ME! BE MERCIFUL UNTO ME, O GOD, BE MERCIFUL UNTO ME: FOR MY SOUL TRUSTETH IN THEE: YEA, IN THE SHADOW OF THY WINGS WILL I MAKE MY REFUGE, UNTIL THESE CALAMITIES BE OVERPAST. I WILL CRY UNTO GOD MOST HIGH; UNTO GOD THAT PERFORMETH ALL THINGS FOR ME! HE SHALL SEND FROM HEAVEN, AND SAVE ME FROM THE REPROACH. OF HIM THAT WOULD SWALLOW ME UP. SEALAH. GOD SHALL SEND FORTH HIS MERCY AND HIS TRUTH! MY HEART IS FIXED, O GOD, MY HEART IS FIXED: I WILL SING AND GIVE PRAISE. AWAKE UP, MY GLORY; AWAKE, PSALTERY AND HARP: I MYSELF WILL AWAKE EARLY! I WILL PRAISE THEE, O LORD, AMONG THE PEOPLE: I WILL SING UNTO THEE AMONG THE NATIONS! BECAUSE OF HIS STRENGTH WILL I WAIT UPON THEE: FOR GOD IS MY DEFENCE. THE GOD OF MY MERCY SHALL PREVENT ME: GOD SHALL LET ME SEE MY DESIRE UPON MINE ENEMIES! BUT I WILL SING OF THY POWER; YEA, I WILL SING ALOUD OF THY MERCY IN THE MORNING: FOR THOU HAST BEEN MY DEFENCE AND REFUGE IN THE DAY OF MY TROUBLE. UNTO THEE, O MY STRENGTH, WILL I SING: FOR GOD IS MY DEFENCE, AND THE GOD OF MY MERCY! THROUGH GOD WE SHALL DO VALIANTLY: FOR HE IT IS THAT SHALL TREAD DOWN OUR ENEMIES!
I WILL CALL UPON GOD! I WILL PRAY, AND CRY ALOUD! I WILL TRUST IN THEE! I WILL TRUST IN THEE! I WILL PRAISE HIS WORD! I WILL NOT FEAR! I WILL PRAISE HIS WORD! I WILL NOT BE BE AFRAID! I WILL RENDER PRAISES UNTO THEE! I WILL CCRY UNTO GOD MOST HIGHT! I WILL SING AND GIVE PRAISE! I MYSELF WILL AWAKE EARLY! I WILL PRAISE THEE, O LORD! I WILL SING UNTO THEE AMONG THE NATIONS! I WILL SING OF THY POWER! I WILL SING ALOUD OF THY MERCY IN THE MORNING!
GOD SHALL HEAR, AND AFFLICT THEM! GOD SHALL SEND FORTH HIS MERCY AND HIS TRUTH! THE GOD MY MERCY SHALL PREVENT ME! GOD SHALL LET ME SEE MY DESIRE UPON MINE ENEMIES! GOD RULETH IN JACOB UNTO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH! GOD IS MY DEFENCE, AND THE GOD OF MY MERCY!
PSALMS OF A BROKEN MAN! PSALMS OF A CONFIDENT MAN! PSALMS OF A FEARFUL MAN! PSALMS OF A TRUSTING MAN! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find that each of these psalms was written by David himself. Having just encountered a number of psalms which were written for the sons of Korah, and a single psalm which was written by Asaph, we know return to the heart and mind of David. If there is one thing that is so absolutely incredible when you read these chapters, it’s that not only do we get a glimpse into the heart, the mind, and the soul of David as he wrote these words, but we also get a glimpse into various situations and circumstances which David faced. Perhaps one of the most intriguing realities surrounding the Old Testament book of the Psalms is when you consider the fact that as you read the various psalms which were written by David you will find that there were selected psalms when we get more than just the journal and diary entry of David, but we also get the story and backdrop behind the words. THE STORY BEHIND THE WORDS! THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG! THE STORY BEHIND THE PSALM! THE STORY BEHIND THE PRAYER! As it sit here this morning I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with this reality of the narrative surrounding the psalm, but it’s one thing to read the words which David prayed before the LORD, however, it is something altogether different to actually know and understand the reason and the purpose behind the psalm. We enjoy reading the words which are found within the Old Testament book of the psalms, however, what we more often than not forget is the story behind the psalm. I would dare say that more often than not the narrative goes unnoticed, and perhaps even gets lost in translation in the words which are before us in the actual psalms themselves. We read the words written and recorded in the psalm, and that which we read seems to supersede and take precedent over the story behind the psalm. WHAT’S YOUR STORY? WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND YOUR PRAYER? WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND YOUR SONG?
The more I think about the words which are written and recorded in these chapters the more I can’t help but be reminded of how many times you listen to Christian radio, or how many times you will listen to an album or a song that has just been released by some popular contemporary Christian author, and towards the end of the album you will find a track that is essentially “the story behind the song.” If you enter into the iTunes library, or if you open up Apple Music, or even if you open up Amazon Prime music you will find an overwhelming amount of albums and records released by Christian artists and singers, and in some cases there is at least one track towards the end of the album that gives the meaning behind one of the songs which were presented on the album. This reality is all the more true when and as you listen to contemporary Christian radio, for as you listen to stations such as K-Love, or Air 1, you will find what might very well be described as “commercials,” and within those commercials you will hear the artists explain the nature, the meaning, the reason, the purpose and the story behind the song. Even in our modern context within our culture and society we undertake this same reality of presenting the story behind the song—particularly and especially if the song ends up becoming a hit song played continually and repeatedly on Christian radio, or even makes it to the top of the charts in iTunes for this specific genre of Christian & Gospel music. There are those who truly desire and those who enjoy hearing the story behind the song, for it helps them not only understand, but also appreciate the song all the more. It is important that we recognize and understand this reality, for more often than not it is the story behind the song that actually helps shine a great amount of light on to the song itself, and helps us understand the words which are contained therein. How many times have you heard the story behind the song, or perhaps behind a song which you have loved and enjoyed, and as a direct result of you hearing the story behind the song you gain a deeper appreciation and a greater understanding of the song itself? How many times has the story behind the song helped you listen to the song with renewed ears, and with a renewed sense of understanding as you begin to listen to the song in the context of the story? LISTENING TO THE SONG IN THE CONTEXT OF THE STORY! LISTENING TO THE SONG THROUGH THE LENS OF EXPERIENCE! It is this particular reality that is truly astonishing and unique when you take the time to think about it, for there are times more often than not when the story behind the song can and will help you understand why and how the song was written, and each and every time you hear that song, and/or each and every time you listen to the words of the song, and/or every time you sing the words of that song you are reminded of the story and narrative behind the song itself.
What we find in the Old Testament book of the Psalms is more than simply a collection of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs written by individuals such as David, Solomon, Moses, Asaph, the Ezrahite, the sons of Korah, and the like. The book of the Psalms contains so much more than the individual psalms themselves, for there are instances—specifically surrounding the psalms of David—when we not only have the psalm, the song and the prayer, but we also have the story and the meaning behind the psalm. There are a number of psalms which were written by David the song of Jesse who reigned over the nation and kingdom of Israel as king which we have more than simply the words which he prayed before the LORD, and more than just the words which he sang before the LORD, but we actually come to know the events surrounding the psalm. There are a specific number of psalms found within this Old Testament book where we encounter and come face to face with the psalm—and not only the psalm itself, but the story behind the psalm. What makes this even more captivating is when you think about and consider the fact that a majority of the psalms which have a narrative and story attached to them were written by David during some of the darkest, some of the most discouraging, and some of the most depressing days of his life. As you read these psalms—psalms which I will call “story psalms”—you will first be brought face to face with the circumstance which surrounded the words which David wrote, the words which David prayed, the words which David sang before the LORD. In all reality, I would dare say that when you come to these “story psalms,” and you read the words which describe the events surrounding the psalm, you must not immediately rush right into reading the words which are found and contained within the psalm itself. More often than not—even though there is a superscription before and in the heading of the psalm—we are tempted to rush right into reading the words of the psalm themselves without taking the time to truly understand the story behind the psalm and the story behind the prayer and the song. I sit here this morning and I can’t help but think about the fact that when you encounter a psalm which has a story and a narrative attached to it, you would do well and you would be wise to read the story behind the psalm, and understand the narrative and circumstances surrounding the psalm, for only when and only as you recognize and understand the story behind the psalm can you truly appreciate and understand the words which David prayed before the LORD. What’s more, is that I would dare say that in these cases the psalm itself is not enough, for you need the corresponding story surrounding the psalm, and the words surrounding the psalm.
Have you ever been in the sanctuary and house of the LORD, and you’ve heard someone pray—and not only the way they prayed, but also the words they prayed before the LORD so moved and stirred you? Have you ever entered into the house of the LORD, or entered into the company and fellowship of believers, and in the midst of that assembly and gathering you found yourself listening to and hearing someone praying, and the words which they prayed, and the manner in which they prayed so moved and stirred you? How many times have you entered into the sanctuary and house of the LORD and have either heard someone pray a pray before the LORD, or sing a song before the LORD, and there was something behind the song, and something behind the prayer that seemed to take the words of both into an entirely different level? Oh, I am becoming increasingly convinced that there is something about the story behind the psalm, there is something about the story behind the song, and there is something about the story behind the prayer that elevates the words which are being presented before the LORD, and takes them to new heights and to new levels. As the particular individual lifts and raises up their voice before and in the sight of the living God, you will find that the circumstances and situation they are facing seem to take the song they song or the prayer they pray to an entirely different level. In all reality, one might very well say that it’s the story behind the song that not only elevates the song itself, but also seems to give it depth and wings with which it ascends unto the heavens, and fills the room in which you are gathered together. I am convinced that the stories and the narratives behind the psalms which David wrote and prayed were absolutely necessary, for those stories and those narratives surrounding the psalms seemed to elevate the words contained therein, and give them wings with which they transcended time and space, and truly entered into the very throne room in eternity. The stories and narratives behind the psalms seem to take you on a journey before you even read the words of the psalm itself. In fact, I might even suggest that more often than we need to allow the story to take us on a journey before we allow the psalm, and the words which are contained therein to take us to someplace. More often than not we need to allow the story and the narrative which stands and serves as the foundation of the psalm to bring us into a place of reflection, a place of meditation, and a place of introspection as we consider the events which were the catalyst and foundation for the psalm itself.
As you are reading the words which are found within this particular writing, I have to ask you whether or not you have allowed yourself to first be taken to a place within your heart and life you have allowed the story to captivate and grip your heart before the psalm itself did. The more I consider the psalms within the book of Psalms and the stories which are directly attached and connected to it, the more I am convinced that we cannot, we dare not, and should not allow ourselves to get caught up and immersed in the psalm itself before we allow the story to move us. I would dare say that these psalms which have a narrative, these psalms which have a specific circumstance, these psalms which have a specific song before and at the top of them were meant to bring us to a place where we read and considered the narrative before we ever considered the psalm itself. CONSIDER THE NARRATIVE BEFORE YOU CONSIDER THE PSALM! CONSIDER THE STORY BEFORE YOU CONSIDER THE SONG! CONSIDER THE CIRCUMSTANCE BEFORE YOU CONSIDER THE PRAYER! For anyone who reads the Old Testament book of the Psalms, and for anyone who comes to a psalm of David which has a heading at the top of it which speaks to a specific time during David’s life, I am convinced that these words which describe the specific event surrounding the psalm itself must be read, studied and considered before actually delving into the psalm itself. Oh, the psalm and the words contained therein are one thing, and the psalm might be enough to offer some consolation, some comfort, and some encouragement within our hearts and lives, and yet I feel without a doubt that only considering the psalm itself without also considering the story behind the psalm allows the psalm to only present us with half the meaning it was intended to. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what it was like for David as he not only turned over the psalms which he had written, but also turned over the story and the narrative behind the psalms he had written. I can’t help but wonder what it was like when David presented the psalms he had written throughout his life—during his time fleeing and running from Saul, during his time in the cave, and even during his time fleeing from his own son Absalom—and not only delivered the psalms themselves, but also delivered the stories and the meaning behind the psalms. I find myself wondering what it was like when these psalms, these songs, and these prayers were prayed and sung by the Levites, by the priests, and by the assembly of the people of God, and if before the psalms, before the songs, and before the prayers were sang in the assembly of the LORD, the congregation and assembly heard the story and the event surrounding the words which they were about to pray. I can’t help but wonder if as David turned over these psalms to the chief musician, he did not explain, he did not relieve, and did not recount the events during his life which lead and caused him to write those words.
RELIVING THE STORIES OF OUR LIVES! RECOUNTING THE SITUATIONS OF OUR LIVES! I wonder if as David presented these psalms to the chief musician—not only did he teach how the song itself was sung, but also recounted the story and the meaning behind the psalm. I can’t help but wonder if as David was presenting these psalms to the chief musician—perhaps even to the priests and the Levites—he did not teach them, first the story behind the song, and secondly the sound of the song. THE STORY OF THE SONG! THE SOUND OF THE SONG! THE STORY OF THE PSALM! THE SOUND OF THE PSALM! With these individual psalms which we find in the Old Testament book of the Psalms I am absolutely convinced that there is not only a story behind the psalm itself—that which explains what brought the psalm about—but also the sound of the psalm—that which would reveal how the psalm and song was sung by David. What I am referencing is not merely the story behind the psalm, and that which provides understanding concerning how, why and when the psalm came into existence, but also the sound of the psalm and the sound of the song and prayer which David prayed. What’s more, is that I can’t help but see in my mind’s eye David presenting each of these psalms one by one to the chief musician, and to those who would teach them to the congregation and assembly, and as he came to these psalms which had a deeper meaning behind them, David first brought them on a journey back to a specific time during his life when he found himself needing to cast himself completely and utterly upon the mercy, upon the grace, and upon the saving and redeeming power of the living God. I can’t help but see within my mind’s eye David taking those whom he would hand these psalms over to on a journey back in time to a place within his life when he found himself completely and utterly alone, completely and utterly desperate, and completely and utterly dependent upon the living God for his strength, for his his support, and for his salvation. Oh how truly unique and interesting it is to think about the fact that David would have actually taken the time to reveal unto the chief musician, and those whom he would turn these psalms over to the story and meaning behind the psalms themselves. I can’t help but wonder if as David handed these psalms over he declared to those who received them that the psalms alone weren’t enough, for it was important they understood the meaning, the narrative, and the story behind the psalms.
I sit here this morning, and I find myself wondering if before the Levites, before the priests, before the sons of Korah, before the singers would sing the songs and psalms of David—specifically these psalms which have a story and meaning attached to them—the chief musician, or that one who would lead the congregation and assembly would first reveal and recount the story behind the psalm. In all reality, I would dare say that more often than not the story is just as important as the song, the story is just as important as the psalm, and the story is just as important as the prayer. What I am referencing and what I am speaking of and declaring is the fact that the stories behind the psalms help to bring the listening and the worshipper into a place of meditation and reflection, as perhaps they themselves have found themselves in, or they themselves have been in a similar place to what they were about to hear, and what they were about to sing. How incredibly and truly amazing it would be if when these psalms were supposed to be sung the chief musician and chief worshipper would reveal the story behind the psalm, as they would reveal to the congregation the meaning behind the psalm they were about to sing, and the psalm they were about to hear within the congregation and assembly. Oh, I firmly believe that more often than not—while the psalm itself is indeed necessary, and while the psalm itself is in fact the vehicle and instrument that brings us into the presence of God, or takes us into that place before the LORD where we begin to sing unto and worship Him, it is only part of what’s truly necessary to enter and come into the presence of the LORD. THE STORY! THE SELAH! THE SONG! THE SELAH! I can’t help but see in my mind’s eye the chief musician revealing and expressing the story behind the psalm, and then bringing the congregation and assembly into a moment of Selah—a moment of reflection, a moment of consideration, a moment of meditation, a moment of introspection, a moment of consideration—before moving on to singing the psalm itself. I fear that far too often we rush right into singing the song first before we take the time to consider the story behind the song, and before we take time to meditate and allow our hearts to truly reflect. What if I told you that it is necessary for us to enter into a place of reflection, enter into a place of meditation, and enter into a place of introspection before we actually started and began singing the songs which were before us? I fear that far too often we rush right into singing the songs which are part of some musical agenda in the congregation and assembly, and we rush through the various songs which are on that agenda, and we don’t take the time to prepare our hearts before the song, nor even during and after the song. Isn’t it interesting to consider the fact that when you read the psalms you will find in the midst of some of them the word “Selah,” which was inserted to cause the hearer, to cause the singer, to cause the worshipper to pause and meditate upon that which they had just sung, and as they prepared to continue singing?
THE SELAH BEFORE THE SONG! THE SELAH IN THE MIDST OF THE SONG! THE SELAH AFTER THE SONG! THE SELAH AND THE STORY! THE SELAH AND THE SOUND! THE STORY, THE SOUND, AND THE SELAH! The more I think about and the more I consider the words which are found within these particular psalms which have before them the story and narrative behind the psalm itself, the more I can’t help but be brought face to face with the absolutely tremendous and incredible place that within these psalms there are three distinct and three different parts that must be carefully considered, and must be properly understood in order to get the full meaning of the psalm itself. If you take Psalm 52 for instance, you will find that this is one of the psalms which has a story behind it, for this psalm was written when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Ahimelech. What’s more, is that twice within this psalm you will find David using the word “Selah,” thus indicating that not only was there a story behind this song, but there were also “Selah” moments within the song itself. In all relaity, I would dare say that the story calls and draws us into a place of reflection and meditation before the psalm and song itself is sung, but the “Selah” in the midst of the psalm brings us to an even greater moment of reflection and meditation as we reflect and meditate on the words we have just sang and prayed before and in the presence of the living God. Even when you come to the fifty-fourth chapter of the book of the Psalms you will encounter the same reality, for this psalm was written when the Ziphims came and said to Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us. At the end of the third verse of this psalm we again find the word “Selah,” which was designed to cause those who sang the words of the psalm to meditate and reflect upon that which they had just sang before and in the presence of the LORD. I can’t help but wonder if the “Selah” was just as important as the story, and just as important as the sound of the psalm and the song which would be sung in the presence of the LORD. I can’t help but wonder if as David taught these psalms to the chief musician and to those who would hear and listen to the words of the psalm—not only did he teach them the story behind the psalm, and not only did he teach them the sound of the song itself, but he also taught them the “Selah” of the psalm, as he brought them into a place of meditation before and in the sight of the living God. I can’t help but wonder if David taught these psalms to those to whom he would present them to, and as he sat there in the company of these worshippers, he sought and desired to bring them into the place where they would hear and listen to the story behind the song, and then after they had finished hearing and listening to the story behind the song, David sang the song in their presence and in their company—perhaps even singing it exactly as he sang it in the midst of the situation and circumstance he found himself in. What’s more, is that I can’t help but wonder if David not only brought and led these worshippers into a “Selah” moment before the psalm itself would be sung—a Selah moment between the story and the song—but if he also led them into a “Selah” moment in the midst of the psalm as he would stop singing, and brought them into a place where they would mediate upon the words which had just been sung.
THE STORY! THE SOUND! THE SONG! THE SELAH! The more I read and study the words which are found and written within the Old Testament book of the Psalms—specifically those psalms which were not only written by David, but those psalms with also have a story behind them—the more I come face to face with the incredibly astounding reality that we do ourselves a great disservice and injustice when we quickly move beyond the heading of the psalm and rush right into the body and language of the psalm. I continue to be absolutely and completely convinced that more often than not the words which are found within these psalms can get lost in translation, and can get lost in the need we feel we have to quickly rush into the words which David sang and prayed before and unto the LORD his God. There is not a doubt in my mind that the words we find within these psalms are not only meant to be read and digested, but they are also meant to draw us into David’s life, and to truly understand what he faced, what he dealt with, and what prompted him to pen these words. IGNORING THE STORY! I fear that far too often we not only ignore the stories behind the psalms which were written within this Old Testament poetic book, but we also ignore the stories behind the prayers, the cries, the petitions, the groans, the psalms, the songs, and the worship that is present among us within the house of the living God. There is not a doubt in my mind that more often than not we enter into the house of the LORD with thanksgiving, and we enter his courts with praise, and yet we completely and utterly ignore the very real and very personal stories those around us have faced and are presently facing. Oh dear reader, I would dare say that we are so caught up and consumed with the song than we are with the story. We are more concerned with the words found and contained within the song itself than we are the story behind the song, when in all reality it’s the story that gives the song its meaning, its weight, its purpose and its foundation. Oh, it is absolutely necessary that we understand that the song alone isn’t enough, for the song only takes us so far while the story is designed and intended to take us the rest of the way.
THE STORY TAKES US THE REST OF THE WAY! I sit here this morning and I am absolutely and completely gripped with and by the fact that while the psalms and songs David wrote which contain superscriptions of stories and events within David’s life take us to a very specific and certain place, they can only take us so far. We dare not be so naïve to think and consider for a moment that the psalms alone are enough, and that the stories somehow don’t have any weight or meaning behind them. We dare not and must not be so naïve and jaded to think that the psalms alone are enough to bring us into that place which we would like to think the psalm can and should bring us to. In fact, I would dare say that more often than not one of the main and underlying reasons why the psalm doesn’t bring us into the place in and before God we desire is because we have skipped and ignored the story behind the psalm. I would dare say that we read the words which are found within these particular psalms, and we look for and expect something within them, and yet the truth of the matter is that if we ignore the story behind the psalm, and the story behind the song, we completely and utterly miss the point. It is the story behind the psalm that is designed and intended on ushering us into a place of reflection and meditation within and upon our own lives, as the story we read and the story we hear forces us to examine our own story. The stories we read at the beginning and outset of these psalms are so absolutely important, for within and directly connected to the story is the power of “Selah,” which is designed to usher and escort us into that place of reflection and mediation as we focus our attention inwardly to the stories we face within our own hearts and lives. How many times have the stories of others so wonderfully and powerfully resonated with us that they have completely and utterly challenged us right where we are? I would dare say that this is what is perhaps the main and underlying reason behind the movies we pay money to watch in the theaters, or rent or purchase to watch in our homes. More often than not we are drawn to stories that are a picture and a reflection of those things which we ourselves are facing and have faced, and the story of another almost serves as an invitation into our own story. Stop and think about that reality for a moment, for it is something that must be carefully considered within our own lives as the stories we hear from the lives of others serve as a powerful invitation to examine our own story, or perhaps even a story we wish we would and could experience. It’s absolutely necessary that we recognize the “Selah” in the story, as well as the “Selah” in the song, for it is this time of meditation and reflection that ushers us into a place where we are able to truly understand our own narrative and our own story in this life.
Is it possible that one of the reasons we tend to skip over the stories which are directly linked and connected to this passage of Scripture is because we are afraid to confront the stories within our own lives? Oh, it is true that we want the psalm, it is true we want the song, and it is true we want the prayer, however, more often than not we don’t want to confront the story behind the song—regardless of whether or not it’s the story behind the song, or the story behind our own experience, our own hurt, our own pain, our own brokenness, our own despair, and the like. Permit me to ask you a question of whether or not you are willing to confront the story within your own life, and whether or not you’re willing to confront the narrative which you have been facing, and perhaps continue to face. When was the last time you stopped to truly examine, meditate and reflect upon the story of your own life? When was the last time you simply didn’t rush into prayer and petition before the LORD to somehow deliver you from and bring you out of what you are facing, and you took the time to examine the story behind the words which you would present in the presence of the living God? I am absolutely and completely convinced that if we are unwilling to confront the story behind that which drives us into the presence of God, and we immediately rush into the presence of the LORD with our words, our prayers, our petitions, and our songs, we have completely and utterly missed the point. I would dare say that more often than not we are afraid of our own story, and the reason we avoid the stories of others is because we are afraid of our own story. I would dare say there are men and women within and among our congregations and assemblies who might good at praying, and who might be good at singing, and yet they have an incredibly difficult time with acknowledging the story behind the prayers, and the story behind the songs which they sing. In all reality, I would dare say that the story behind these psalms are an invitation for us to confront the stories within our own hearts and lives, and the psalms and songs themselves are designed and intended on allowing us to sing the songs of deliverance and desperation, suffering and salvation, tragedy and triumph which David the man after God’s own heart faced and experienced.
I feel the need to stop right here and draw your attention to something which you might not want to hear, and which we in the Church do not want to hear or listen to. I am absolutely and completely convinced that more often than not when we gather together in the house of the LORD, and when sing the songs which have been hand picked by the chief worshipper or worship leader, we are doing nothing more than singing the songs of others. I would dare say that more often than not when we enter into the presence of the LORD and gather together in the sanctuary—while it is true that we sing those songs which were deliberately picked and chosen by the worship team, what we are actually doing is nothing more than regurgitating the words which someone else wrote and which someone else sang. I am absolutely convinced that one of the things that is desperately lacking and missing within many of our churches and many of our houses of worship is not more songs which others have written, but the songs within our own hearts. We have an abundance of songs which others have written, and we have an abundance of songs which might very well pull at the emotional heart strings within ourselves, and yet we fail to sing our own song before the LORD. The prophet Isaiah prophesied according to the word of the LORD an invitation for Israel to sing unto the LORD a new song, and yet the truth of the matter is that I can’t help but think these new songs we sing might not be songs others want or would like to hear. What would happen if in our worship services we began singing songs of brutal honesty and transparency concerning the stories within and the stories of our lives? Would your honesty, would your vulnerability, would your transparency cause others to be uncomfortable—even in the house of the LORD? Would the expression of your heart cause others to shy away from you, and cause them to take a step back and withdraw themselves in the midst of the house of the LORD? One of the things I so absolutely love about these psalms written by David which have a story attached to them is that they not only present us with the story behind the psalm, but they also invite us into the honesty and transparency of the heart. This is truthfully what I feel is seriously lacking and missing when we gather together in the house of the LORD—this honesty of the heart, this transparency of the heart, this vulnerability of the heart. Oh it is true that we sing together with others, and it is true that we gather together with others, and yet I fear that there is very little room to be completely and utterly vulnerable and honest in the sight of the living God. I fear that there is very little room for us to truly express ourselves, and express our honesty and our vulnerability before the LORD—express what we are really thinking, express what we are really feeling, and express what we really want to say. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistles written unto the Ephesian and Colossian saints:
“Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the LORD is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the LORD; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:14-21).
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the LORD Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:12-17).
SPEAKING TO YOURSELVES IN PSALMS AND HYMNS AND SPIRITUAL SONGS, SINGING AND MAKING MELODY IN YOUR HEARTS TO THE LORD! ADMONISHING ONE ANOTHER IN PSALMS AND HYMNS AND SPIRITUAL SONGS, SINGING WITH GRACE IN YOUR HEARTS TO THE LORD! This is actually quite unique when you take the time to think about it, for when writing unto the Ephesian saints the apostle Paul instructed them to speak to themselves in psalms, in hymns, and in spiritual songs as they sang and made melody in their hearts to the LORD. When writing to the Colossian saints, however, we find the apostle Paul writing something similar, and yet different in nature and context. As he wrote unto the Colossian saints, you will find the apostle Paul inviting and instructing them to admonish one another in psalms, in hymns, in spiritual songs, as they sang with grace in their hearts to the Lord. There are essentially two common denominators and two common threads which are found within these two passages—namely psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, as well as our hearts. When writing unto both of these churches and congregations the apostle Paul instructed and invited them to worship the LORD within their hearts as they “made melody in their heart to the LORD,” and as they “sang with grace in their hearts to the LORD.” We dare not miss and lose sight of this particular reality, for the apostle Paul invited and instructed these two congregations to admonish one another, and to speak to themselves in psalms, in hymns, and in spiritual songs, and yet I have to ask myself what this would truly look like in our modern context of the house of God in our culture and society today. What would it look like if we truly took these words at face value, and truly put them to practice within our church services, and our gathering together? What would it look like if we not only spoke to ourselves, but also admonished others with psalms, with hymns, and with spiritual songs? What’s more, is what would it look like, and what would happen if we started allowing room in our church services for these “Selah” moments as men and women were invited to reflect and meditate upon the stories within their own lives? What would it look like if we invited men and women to truly speak to themselves in psalms, in hymns, and in spiritual songs, and men and women were allowed to be truly vulnerable before and in the sight of the living God? What would happen in our services and in our gathering together if we began allowing men and women to openly express themselves in the midst of the service—perhaps not with and in front of microphone, but perhaps from their own seat and from their own place in the pew? What would happen if we started making space and room in our gathering together for men and women to pause, to meditate and to reflect on their own stories—and were not only allowed to reflect and meditate upon their own stories, but were able to express in prayer and/or in song exactly what they were feeling and exactly what they were thinking?
GOD CAN HANDLE YOUR HONESTY! If there is perhaps one central theme—not only surrounding the psalms themselves, but the psalms which David wrote which have stories and events connected to them—it’s that the living and eternal God can handle our honesty, and can handle our transparency. Despite and regardless of how brutal, how forthright, how ugly, and how uncomfortable that honesty and truth might be, we must understand and rest assured that the living God can indeed handle our honesty. It’s quite honest to consider the words which are found and written within these psalms, for the words which David penned and sang before the LORD take on a whole new meaning when you think about and consider the fact that the words within the psalms were more than just words which David thought the LORD wanted to hear. The words which we find written and recorded within these psalms—truthfully all the psalms as a whole—it’s important that we recognize and understand that the words found and contained within them are words which were inspired by actual events which took place within the life of David. These weren’t just endless ramblings from David, but they were very real expressions of his heart and soul in the midst of events which were intended to test and try him. I would dare say that the words which we find in these psalms take on an entirely new and an entirely different meaning when you think about them in the context of what had actually taken place. In order to encounter this the way it was meant and intended on being, it’s worth beginning at the fifty-second chapter of the book of the psalms, for this psalm was written by David when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Ahimelech. The first thing you will notice about this psalm is David’s question concerning why this mighty man boasted in mischief before emphatically declaring that the goodness of God endures continually. As you move through this psalm you will find David speaking of this mighty man and how his tongue devises mischiefs, like a sharp razor working deceitfully. David goes on to speak of this mighty man as loving evil more than good, and lying r at her than speaking righteousness. Furthermore, David goes on to speak of this mighty man that he loves all evolving words, and then actually describes both the man and the tongue of the man as deceitful. What’s wroth noting and mentioning within this passage of Scripture is that David would go on to declare how God would destroy him for ever, and how He would take him away, and pluck him out of his dwelling place, and root him out of the land of the living. Even more than this, David would go on to speak of this man as one who made not God his strength, but trusted in the abundant earth of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.
I sit here this morning thinking about these specific psalms which David wrote, and those psalms which have stories attached to them, and I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that they not only reveal a specific time during the life of David, but they also reveal the tremendous truth that the enemy which David spoke of had a name and a face. What’s more, is that as you read the words which are found within these psalms you will find that the enemies which rose up against David, and those enemies which he spoke of within these psalms had names and faces—and although David didn’t call them out by name in the midst of the psalm itself, which is what makes the superscription at the outset and beginning of the psalm so incredibly important. These superscriptions at the beginning of the psalm not only present us with the specific event which took place within David’s life, but also provided us with the name of the enemy which David would speak of in the midst of the psalm. In the fifty-second chapter of the book of Psalms we find the enemy had a name, and his name was Doeg the Edomite. IN the fifty-fourth chapter of the book of the Psalms we find another enemy having a name, however, this was not simply one single enemy which had an individual name, but rather it was a group of enemies which had a name—the Ziphims. In the fifty-ninth chapter of the same Old Testament book of the Psalms we find another enemy who had a name, and the name of this enemy was Saul. In al reality, as you read these psalms you will find a common theme and common thread contained within them—namely, that Saul was the chief enemy and chief adversary which David would face, however, there were other enemies and adversaries which would rise up against him in the midst of his fleeing from the murderous hand and threat of Saul king of Israel. Psalm 52 was written when Doeg the Edomite (a lesser enemy and adversary) came and told Saul that David was hiding in the house of Ahimelech. In Psalm 54 we find another lesser enemy (the Ziphims) who came and told Saul that he was hiding himself among them. In Psalm 57 we find David hiding in a cave, and yet we find the name of this chief enemy and adversary being mentioned, as David fled from Saul and hid in the cave—perhaps the cave of Adullam. In Psalm 59 we not only find Saul mentioned yet again, but this time we find additional enemies and adversaries of David as Saul raised up men to watch the house in which he lived that he might kill him. In Psalm 60 we find other enemies and adversaries—specifically Aram-naharaim and Aram-zobah when Job returned and smote twelve thousand sons of Edom in the valley of Salt.
WHEN PSALMS HAVE STORIES & ENEMIES HAVE NAMES! Perhaps one of the most remarkable and astounding truths surrounding these psalms—as well as the other psalms which David wrote during specific times within his life—it’s that not only do the psalms themselves have stories, but so also do enemies and places have names. In the heading of these psalms we find specific enemies who had a name, and that name was mentioned, while in addition to finding specific enemies who had names, we also find places which had names. Within some of these psalms we not only encounter the reality that the enemy has a name, but we also discover the place has a name—places such as the cave of Adullam, places such as David’s house, such as Gath in the territory of the Philistines, and such as the house of Ahimelech. What makes the stories at the beginning of these psalms with stories so incredible is when you consider the fact that not only do we encounter the stories behind the psalms, but in some we discover the place behind the psalm, as well as the name of the enemy and adversary. THE STORY OF THE PSALM! THE NAME OF THE ENEMY! THE NAME OF THE PLACE! It’s quite necessary that we recognize and understand this particular reality, for more often than not entering into a period of reflection, meditation and introspection can and will bring us into the place where we not only confront the stories within our lives, but we are also brought back to those places within the stories. What’s more, is that we are brought face to face with the name and the face of that one who rose up against us, or that one who betrayed us, or that one who sought to destroy and kill us. These psalms were not merely the songs which David sang before and in the presence of the LORD, but these psalms had a very specific name and place attached to them as David would recount where he was when he wrote the words, and who the words were about. These particular psalms not only brought David back to where he was when the psalms themselves were being written, but they also brought David back to the person who was at the very center of the words which he penned. CONFRONTING PLACES AND PEOPLE! One of the most intriguing and captivating realities surrounding the stories and narratives found at the beginning of these psalms is when you consider the fact that they invited David to confront the places he found himself, as well as the people whom he was forced to confront and deal with. Perhaps one of the questions I can’t help but ask is whether or not David would sing these psalms after they were originally written. Did David ever go back and find these psalms which were written and once more sing these songs to the LORD? When David became king over the nation and kingdom of Israel, did he ever revisit these psalms and songs and sing them once more before the LORD? After all, they were truly and indeed his words, and it would have been something truly astonishing to think about David revisiting the people and places surrounding the psalms as he found himself confronting a new enemy and adversary, and as he found himself in a new place.
It’s actually something quite unique to read the words which David wrote in these psalms—as well as the stories and narratives surrounding the psalms—for I can’t help but wonder if David found himself going back in time and revisiting these places and people. I can’t help but wonder if there were times within David’s life—perhaps when he was in Hebron, or perhaps when he was in Jerusalem—when he pulled out these psalms and once more sang them before the LORD. Is it possible that David could have sang the words in these psalms because he found himself experiencing and facing something much similar in nature to what he had experienced? Is it possible that David could have sang the words of these psalms—not because he was facing something in his present, but rather because he wanted to remind himself of the goodness and faithfulness of God, and build himself up. Perhaps this is the main and underlying reason why the apostle Paul wrote of speaking to ourselves in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, as well as admonishing others in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, for he recognized and understood the tremendous power they have to build us up in our most holy faith. We must remember and recall the words of the apostle Paul who wrote unto the saints which were scattered concerning their building themselves up in their most holy faith, and I can’t think of a better way to build ourselves up in our most holy faith than reminding ourselves of the goodness and faithfulness of God within our lives. Oh, we might not even be experiencing anything in the here and the now, but we are simply in need of our faith being strengthened and our confidence being increased. We know the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews invited and instructed us to come boldly before the throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help in time of need, however, there are times within our lives when our confidence and our boldness needs a fresh infusion of faith, and a fresh infusion of trust. There are times in our lives when we know we are instructed not to cast away our confidence, and yet we find ourselves in a place where we are in desperate need for that confidence to be built up as we build ourselves up in our midst holy faith. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote in this particular letter, and how incredibly important they are for us within our own hearts and lives. Consider if you will the following words which are written and recorded within this New Testament epistle written unto the Jews:
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the LORD, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” (Hebrews 2:1-4).
“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: But the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest” (Hebrews 4:1-3).
“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:11-16).
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:19-25).
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:35-39).
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
“See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: whose voice then shook the earth: but not he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:25-29).
“Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body” (Hebrews 13:1-3).
“Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. But to do good and to community forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:12-16).
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I can’t help but think about David working through these psalms even after he had prayed them, and even after he had become king—both in Hebron, as well as in Jerusalem. There is not a doubt in my mind that these psalms would have been a tremendous source of encouragement for David—both when he was in the thick and throes of what he was experiencing, as well as later on during his life when he would have revisited the words which were contained in the midst of the psalms. There is not a doubt in my mind that even as king David would have spent time considering and revisiting these psalms as a means to build himself up in his faith and confidence in the living God. What’s more, is that we cannot dismiss the fact that these particular psalms might have been the core psalms from which all the other psalms flowed, as these psalms would have been those which led David to the place where he would have written additional psalms. What if these psalms which have stories and narratives attached to them are the foundation upon which all the other psalms which David wrote are built, and are essentially the fountainhead from which all the other psalms which he wrote flowed? I would dare say that these psalms would have not only helped David in the midst of the times in which we read in these psalms, but these psalms would have also helped David in writing additional psalms which would have some of the same language that was found in these original and core psalms. It’s truly something unique to think about and consider the fact that David wrote these core psalms which would the building blocks that help us see and understand the house which David himself was building through and with these psalms. I would dare say that these psalms hold the key to unlocking all the other psalms, and we not only need to understand the psalms themselves, but the stories and narratives behind the psalms, as the stories and the songs are intrinsically linked and connected with each other. We cannot truly understand these psalms without understanding the stories behind them, and we cannot understand the rest of the psalms—specifically those which David wrote—without understanding these core and foundational psalms. Oh that we would truly give ourselves to not only reading the psalms themselves, but also taking the time to understand the context of the psalms, and the stories behind the psalms that we must truly understand our own stories, and the words we would like to and need to express in the sight and presence of the living God.