From the content, it would seem safe to assume that David is not in a happy place at the writing of this psalm. He is lonely and afflicted; troubled to his core. But that’s not where he starts. His starting point is, ‘In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.’ In other psalms we see him coming to this place after he has poured out his pain and frustration, but here the trust comes first.
We keep our hearts well defended, at least that’s my experience. The more we are hurt, the tighter our defences become. The more we give our hearts away and are disappointed, the more we keep them heavily guarded. This phrase about the gates lifting up their heads made me think of men defending a gate, keeping their heads down, not even looking at what might be approaching.
This is a song written in the most desperate of circumstances. Again, we don’t know exactly what David was going through but we do see his pain and anguish and we know that this psalm also contains elements of Messianic prophecy and words that Jesus would later utter as he hung, dying on the cross, abandoned by everyone and everything.
We know this psalm to be one of David’s but the surtitle doesn’t give us any more information as to when it was written and in what context. I would love to know what had just occurred to inspire such words! Had he won a great victory? Was he celebrating the birth of a son? Was life just generally good?
I have a suspicion that sometimes we are very small-minded when it comes to the things of God. Now I’m not advocating a health, wealth and prosperity gospel, but I suspect that in our Scottish context we are likely to expect (and ask for) way less of God and his goodness than he is longing to give.
When I think about the universe, it isn’t too long before my head starts to turn itself inside out with the effort of attempting to fathom the unfathomable! The sheer size and scale of the known universe is simply mind-blowing – and then to even consider the unknown universe sends my brain into meltdown. And this psalm seems to suggest that the heavens’ job is to declare the glory of God – to reveal knowledge about him to the ends of the earth.
This is a fairly lengthy psalm and I did consider cutting it down for this morning’s blog, but which bits would you leave out…? It’s such a powerful picture of God’s majesty and power, but also of his graciousness to, and concern for, us. The picture of God as rock has been a powerful one for me personally in the last year.
Much of David’s life saw him in tricky situations – some of them of his own making, some down to the sin of others. This Psalm seems to be set against such a backdrop – he starts by asking God for refuge. However, in this Psalm, he chooses not dwell on the things that are going wrong and coming against him, but rather on the goodness and faithfulness of God.
I had some interesting discussions with some young people over the summertime, who couldn’t get their heads around why God couldn’t just change the rules and let us off. We were talking about how, in our fallen state, we can’t come near to God in his holiness and perfection. Water and oil can’t mix. Light destroys dark.