Reading: Psalm 145
A psalm of praise. Of David.
I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness (NIV).
Have you ever tried to lift up something that is far too heavy for you? As a boy I remember trying to pick up a rock that was heavier than me. It’s a good thing that young bodies are resilient because I’m sure I would seriously harm myself, if I tried the same thing today.
If I can’t lift up a heavy rock, how can I possibly lift up God? But that is precisely what David did and is calling me to do in Psalm 145. David begins with these words: I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.
The key word as we begin this psalm is the word exalt. Exalt means to lift, elevate, raise or boost. How can we as mere more mortals lift, elevate, raise or boost God, the creator of the universe? Is God feeling down? Does the Almighty need me to lift Him up—to give Him a little boost? That sounds absurd, and it is absurd.
Yet here and throughout the psalms we are encouraged to praise the LORD. Does the LORD suffer from a fragile ego? Is that why He wants us to praise Him? No, that can’t be the reason we see these frequent admonitions to praise God. We can’t exalt God higher than He already is. Will praising God make Him one scintilla more holy, powerful, magnificent or loving? Of course not. The only one who is changed by praising God is us. The only one who is lifted up by exalting the LORD is you and me.
We are lifted up by lifting others. It has always been this way. Help someone, and we ourselves are helped. That’s how life works. That’s how praising God works. In this life of hardship and struggles, praise lifts my head and my heart from its burdens. I am lifted up when I lift the LORD up. No one lifts like Him!
Response: LORD God, I just want to praise you. Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. I will meditate on your wonderful works. You are the lifter of my head. Amen.
Your Turn: Does heartfelt praise for the LORD fill you with joy? Do you need a lift today?
Reading: Psalm 144
From the deadly sword deliver me;
rescue me from the hands of foreigners
whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful.
Then our sons in their youth
will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
carved to adorn a palace.
Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision.
Our sheep will increase by thousands,
by tens of thousands in our fields;
our oxen will draw heavy loads.
There will be no breaching of walls,
no going into captivity,
no cry of distress in our streets.
Blessed is the people of whom this is true;
blessed is the people whose God is the LORD (NIV)
Yesterday, my afternoon work routine was interrupted by visitors. First my oldest son dropped in. My wife and I worked to quickly put together a delicious lunch. After the meal we talked business for about an hour. Tim wanted some help and advice with his market gardening enterprise. It’s challenging work and the busy spring season will soon be here.
Not long after, my youngest son and his wife dropped over for a visit. Their spring and summer schedule includes working tours to locations in the Yukon, the US, western Canada and the British Isles. They will be doing live history shows at museums and historic homes on two continents.
After everyone left I said, “I didn’t get much work done this afternoon.”
My wife replied, “You got the most important thing done—time with your family. You need to appreciate these times. You won’t be seeing them much this summer.”
Of course she is right. Time spent with family is precious. You can sense that same appreciation of family in today’s reading from Psalm 144. David, the psalmist, makes this observation: Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision.
That’s what I want for my family. We want peace and prosperity. These are blessings that come to us from the good hand of God. Yesterday I experience these things. Together, we are truly blessed.
Response: LORD God, I thank you for my family. In them and through them I am blessed beyond measure. You have been very kind to us. Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you see your family as a blessing, or as a burden? How can you show your appreciation?
I will praise Him!
Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!
(Psalm 68:32-35, NIV)
I will praise Him!
Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the LORD.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
(Psalm 68:4-6, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 143
For your name’s sake, LORD, preserve my life;
in your righteousness,
bring me out of trouble.
In your unfailing love,
silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant (NIV).
Are you proud of your family name? To be honest on most days my family name is not a top of mind thought. But if I scratch beneath the surface, I must admit my name is important to me. I am sure your name is important to you as well. Why would that be?
The simple answer is because your name is directly linked to your reputation. A good reputation is built over a lifetime, but it can be ruined in a careless moment. The following proverb sums up the value of having a good reputation: A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold (Proverbs 22:1).
Both individuals and corporations will go to extraordinary lengths to protect their name. Walmart sued a small, family-run wool business in Canada called Woolmart, because they argued the name could be confused with Walmart. The big multinational won despite the fact that Woolmart had registered its legal name several years before Walmart opened its first store in Canada.
In today’s final reading from Psalm 143, David makes this plea: For your name’s sake, LORD, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble. In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.
Will the LORD go to extraordinary lengths to uphold His name? Absolutely. When the Son of God was slandered before Pilate and then sentenced to death as a common criminal, the LORD God parted the heavens and rendered His judgment. He shook the earth, reversed death and brought Jesus back to life. For the sake of His name, the LORD would not allow His Son to remain in the mud and mire of death and disrepute.
David bases his appeal to the Almighty on his role as a servant of God. In essence David is saying, “Come to my rescue because I am your servant. LORD, your good name will be defamed, if you don’t help me.”
Why should God answer my prayers—your prayers? Are you closely associated with the LORD? Have you fully identified with Him? Are you His servant—His child? Does the LORD’s reputation hinge on the conduct and the outcome of your life? Will He answer your prayers for the sake of His good name? How closely are you linked God? Is He your Father or a casual acquaintance?
Response: LORD God, please help me. I am your child. I identify with you. My Savior and Lord, for your names sake I want to live a life that is pleasing to you and brings honor to the name of Christ. Amen.
Your Turn: Can others clearly see that you have identified yourself as a Christ follower?
Reading: Psalm 143
A psalm of David.
LORD, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land (NIV).
On my best day, I need God’s mercy. On my worst day my need for outside help and mercy are evident to all. In truth, my need for the mercy of the LORD is never ending. All too often, we only call out to God in times of need or perceived difficulty. In reality our need for God’s help and mercy are constant.Here in Psalm 143, as he so often does, David calls out for God’s mercy. In many respects David’s plea for mercy is rather repetitive throughout the psalms. Why would this be? Could it be that he is in constant need of God’s sustaining support and mercy? From the following request, we can see why David repeatedly prays for God’s mercy: Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.
David recognized that within himself he had no righteousness. In reality this is the starting point for a life transforming relationship with God. Contrary to a good deal of modern psychology and religious philosophy, we are not okay. We have a warped nature that is inclined to sin. It delights in rebelling against God. St. Paul describes this human condition with these words. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out (Romans 7:18).
The prophet Isaiah described this universal human condition in this way. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away (Isaiah 64:6).
Do I need God’s mercy? Yes, a thousand times yes!
Response: LORD God, I need your righteousness. My own righteousness is tainted with pride. I freely acknowledge my need for a Savior. You are my constant help. I thirst for you like a parched land. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you aware of your constant need for God’s mercy? Are you calling out to Him?
Reading: Psalm 142
I cry to you, LORD;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
because of your goodness to me (NIV).
Though I have visited prisoners, I have never been imprisoned, at least not in the classic sense of imprisonment. But in the broader meaning of the word, we all have been confined to prisons—prisons of the mind. Some of us are prisoners of counterproductive habits, or prisoners within crippling relationships that hinder personal growth and fulfillment. Prisons come in many forms. Some of them are disguised as places of personal liberty, but all too often the thing we freely choose can become a cruel slave master.
When David prayed the words of this psalm, he was not in a prison. He was confined to a cave or the immediate region around a cave, because he was a fugitive from King Saul who was trying to kill him. He voices this prayer: Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison that I may praise your name.
Are you in a prison? Is fear of discovery locking you up? Are you trapped in habits, addictions or thought patterns that are too strong for you?
David was in a weak and vulnerable position. Saul, his personal enemy had an entire army on his side. For the second time in his life, David was in what we call the classic David and Goliath situation. He was outnumbered and in every way the advantage belonged to his opponent.
In such adverse circumstances we need God on our side. We need the resources of heaven to tip the scale in our favor. That is precisely what happened in David’s case. The LORD arranged situations that gave all the advantage to David. David ended up sparing Saul’s life on two occasions. For a full account read 1 Samuel 24 & 26.
David ends this psalm with an affirmation of his faith in God. Set me free from my prison that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me. That is exactly what happened. When the LORD set David free from his prison, righteous men took note, and they rallied around David as their leader because they saw that the LORD was with him.
Response: LORD God, set me free from the negative habits and thought patterns that imprison me. Help me identify them one by one, and then help me gain the victory over them in the power of Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Can you identify habits or thought patterns that harm your relationships with others?
Reading: Psalm 142
A maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.
I cry aloud to the LORD;
I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
before him I tell my trouble.
When my spirit grows faint within me,
it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge; no one cares for my life (NIV).
Have you been in a cave? Despite what we read and know about cavemen, caves are not great living spaces. They are dark and dank. They may be fine places to retreat to in times of mortal danger, but they leave much to be desired as a permanent habitation.In desperate times, people hide in caves. That’s where David found himself as he hid from his jealous master, King Saul. Through no fault of his own, Saul attacked David and repeatedly tried to kill him. See 1 Samuel 19:9-24. Eventually, David fled to a cave in the Desert of En Gedi. This psalm, Psalm 142, was born in a desolate place—a cave in the Desert of En Gedi. See 1 Samuel 24.
Here David hit rock bottom. From this low point in his life he called out to the LORD with these words: I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.
The Psalms are the prayer book of the Bible. With this psalm David provides us with an excellent example of prayer—prayer from the lowest position—the position of weakness and vulnerability. The future looked bleak for David. He was living the precarious life of a fugitive. At any time, he could be discovered or betrayed. Would today be his last day?
Where did David take his troubles? He took them to the LORD.
Where do you go with your troubles? Where do you take your complaints? The LORD’s complaint department is open for business. There you will find a listening ear.
There is a host of things that are unfair in this life—sometimes brutally unfair. Are we supposed to suppress our outrage? Should we hide our hurt and pretend that all is well, while on the inside the bottom is falling out of our life? No. A thousand times, no! Take it to the LORD in prayer. That’s what David did. He cried out to his God, and his God answered.
Response: LORD God, when I reach a low point you are there. Hear me when I am down. I bring my troubles and sorrows to you. They are more than I can bear. Jesus, be my burden bearer. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you in a cave or a desert place? Take some time to call out to God.