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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Psalm 144 – Praying to God for help

It is not clear who is being described in verses 3 and 4. David could be speaking about himself, which would make the verses an expression of gratitude for what the Lord did for David personally. Or they could describe the peoples who would be conquered by David, which would make the verses a statement of confidence by David that the Lord would give victory over powerful opponents. Or they could refer to his current enemies, which would teach us that David, having thought about God, now had a true estimation of his enemies – they are only passing humans. Perhaps he has each in mind, a reminder to us of the weakness of the strongest humans.
Aware that he is unable by himself to defeat his enemies, David asks God to appear in great power and deliver him from his attackers. He uses the imagery of a mountain on fire to illustrate the awesome presence of God. Perhaps he is asking God to repeat for him personally what he had done for the people of Israel nationally at Mount Sinai.
David becomes specific in what he wants the Lord to do. (1) He wants his enemies routed; (2) he wants personal and complete deliverance – he uses a dramatic image or picture to illustrate what he wants when he asks God to grab him away from the overwhelming situation he was in; (3) he wants physical deliverance from their presence and he wants ongoing deliverance from their slanderous accusations and assessments of him. This is a reminder that God can defeat our opponents and undo the damage they may have done.
We can ask ourselves this important question: ‘What should accompany prayer?’ Here David reminds us that when we pray we should already have resolved to praise God for the victories that he will give (vv. 9-11). This kind of resolve is common in the psalms as the authors describe their vow or their intention to thank God publicly for answering their prayers. The thanksgiving would take place at the location of public worship (the tabernacle or later the temple). Our prayers should not be tentative in the sense that we are waiting to see what happens before we determine to thank God.
David also uses recollection of previous help from God when he was in danger. Many times in the past he had experienced the Lord’s gracious aid. And he brought them in to give himself comfort as he faced his current predicament. The recollection of what God did for us will help us anticipate a repeat performance by him.

In verses 12-15 David imagines what life will be like if God answers his prayers. Answered prayer becomes a door to amazing blessings. The danger they faced would have gone and been replaced by security and prosperity. Such is the beauty and the bounty of the description that one could almost say that the glory of the outcome made the route to it worthwhile.

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