Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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      Psalm - Chapter 144 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. (By David.) I praise you, LORD! You are my mighty rock, and you teach me how to fight my battles.
    2. You are my friend, and you are my fortress where I am safe. You are my shield, and you made me the ruler of our people.
    3. Why do we humans mean anything to you, our LORD? Why do you care about us?
    4. We disappear like a breath; we last no longer than a faint shadow.
    5. Open the heavens like a curtain and come down, LORD. Touch the mountains and make them send up smoke.
    6. Use your lightning as arrows to scatter my enemies and make them run away.
    7. Reach down from heaven and set me free. Save me from the mighty flood
    8. of those lying foreigners who can't tell the truth.
    9. In praise of you, our God, I will sing a new song, while playing my harp.
    10. By your power, kings win wars, and your servant David is saved from deadly swords.
    11. Won't you keep me safe from those lying foreigners who can't tell the truth?
    12. Let's pray that our young sons will grow like strong plants and that our daughters will be as lovely as columns in the corner of a palace.
    13. May our barns be filled with all kinds of crops. May our fields be covered with sheep by the thousands,
    14. and every cow have calves. Don't let our city be captured or any of us be taken away, and don't let cries of sorrow be heard in our streets.
    15. Our LORD and our God, you give these blessings to all who worship you.
Reflections

Psalms - Chapter 144

Entered: May 06, 2009
If there are verses in this psalm that seem familiar, it may be either that you have read this psalm before or that you have read one or more of the psalms from which this one draws excerpts. Verse 3 is an example of one of these excerpts, "What is man, that You care for him, the son of man, that You think of him?" It seems likely that David wrote or compiled this psalm in the early years of his reign when his rule was threatened from several sides by enemy armies. He already had some successes under his belt for which he was giving credit to God. God was his stronghold and deliverer.

When you consider God's greatness you cannot help but wonder, as did David in verse 3, how God could care about man. In comparison to God's eternal nature, man is but a breath and his days like a passing shadow. What David asks of God in verses 5-8 is no great feat for God. "Part Your heavens," he says, "and come down. Touch the mountains, and they will smoke. Flash Your lightning and scatter the foe." A God with these capabilities would have no problem setting David free from the grasp of foreigners. As I raised the question in the previous psalm, to what purpose would God provide rescue? It would be for the fulfillment of God's purposes rather than of David's. To allow David to serve God rather than himself.

In verses 9-15 David gives praise to God. In celebration of God's deliverance he will sing a new song he has composed, accompanying it on a ten stringed-harp. He describes what God's deliverance from his enemies will make possible. It will allow their sons and daughters to grow freely like well-nurtured plants. Their storehouses will be filled and their flocks and cattle to increase and be well fed. And it will keep them from going into captivity. Therefore, "Happy are the people whose God is the Lord."

We cannot take for granted our prosperity and freedom. It is God who makes it all possible. Because we cannot explain why we are free and prosper and others are not we become tempted to credit our good fortune to chance. This would be the same mistake so many make in regard to creation. Because they have no explanation for it other than God, they credit it to chance. How is this an answer and God is not an answer?

Entered: July 17, 2014

David was amazed at God's intervention in his life, and began this psalm by crediting God with the abilities and status as king that David had. God had trained his hands for battle and God had subdued the Israelite people under David as king. The thought of it led David to reflect on God's greatness and man's insignificance and marvel that God would even think of man at all, saying, "what is man, that You care for him, the son of man, that You think of him?" (144:3)

If one begins to think too highly of themselves, pushing away God's involvement in their life, they need only to consider the fact that God has been around forever and they themselves are "like a breath; (their) days are like a passing shadow." (144:4) As David continues into verse 5 and following, the whole idea of God's involvement in the lives of mankind becomes even more amazing. Not only does God care for man and think of him, He actually acts on man's behalf, bringing to bear his mighty works at man's request. And this is what David did - request that God bring into play His mighty works to route David's enemies: "LORD, part Your heavens and come down. Touch the mountains, and they will smoke. Flash Your lightning and scatter the foe; shoot Your arrows and rout them." (144:5-6)

David was elated at God's intervention on his behalf and vowed to worship Him with "a new song to You." (144:9) For God is "the One who gives victory to kings, who frees His servant David from the deadly sword." (144:10)

The outcome of God's intervention on man's behalf was decribed by David in idyllic terms in the closing verses of the psalm: their sons will be healthy and wholesome like strong healthy plants, their daughters statuesque and beautiful like the scuptured pillars of the palace. Their barns will be filled with produce and their livestock will flourish. This is the state God desires for His people. It is a state that will exist in the kingdom He establishes under Christ's reign after He returns. But until then it will always be marred by people who do not allow God's intervention in their lives or at least do not allow it to the extent that makes possible this life of complete peace and prosperity.