A Psalm of David.

Another psalm from the pen of the great shepherd-king of Israel.  This psalm is actually a prayer.  It is a petition to God for aid to a king in distress, and throughout the psalm we see the confident assumption that God will answer this request.

1.  May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble;

Answer means not just to physically speak an answer, but also to reply with help.  This petition is for the LORD’s aid in a day of trouble.

May the name of the God of Jacob defend you;

The name is figurative for the person’s reputation or character, and here is put for the person Himself.  Notice that it is the name of the God of Jacob, not the God of Israel, that is invoked.  The name Israel means “A Prince with God,” but Jacob is “The Contender.”  It is as the Contender, the one who is in rebellion against God, that His name is invoked to help.  How thankful we can be that God is not just the God of the righteous, but also the God of sinners.  For we all were sinners in need of a savior, and He is the Savior of sinners such as we were.

2.  May He send you help from the sanctuary,

At that time the presence of the LORD dwelt in the Ark of the Covenant in the sanctuary of God.  Thus this request is for help to proceed from His presence there.

And strengthen you out of Zion;

This is more-or-less a repetition of the previous phrase for emphasis.  Zion was the “City of David” where the sanctuary of the LORD was at that time.  Thus David is again requesting help from the dwelling place of God’s presence.

3.  May He remember all your offerings,

The word “offerings” here has the idea of “presents.”  Since God had many representatives on earth at that time, it was a simple matter to give presents to Him.  In our day, when Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man, it is much more difficult to actually “give a present” to God.  It would seem that the best gift we can give to Him if we truly desire to is our lives, for we can give them directly to Him without any mediator involved in between.

And accept your burnt sacrifice.

“Accept” means “turn to ashes.”  The LORD responded to sacrifices in that day by sending holy fire, as we know from various places in Scripture.  No man-made fire could ever burn a sacrifice, for that would be a capital offense in God’s religion.  The fires to burn the sacrifices had to be carefully maintained, for if ever they went out, God alone could rekindle them.  Some churches claim that they have an “eternal flame” today, but this is only foolishness.  All God-lit fires have gone out long ago.

Selah.

In this case the word Selah connects the sacrifice of verse 3 with the answer it bought in verse 4.  It is only based upon the merits of a completed sacrifice that God can receive a prayer.  Thank God that we have Christ as our perfect Sacrifice, opening forever our channel of prayer to Him!

4.  May He grant you according to your heart’s desire,

This is the prayer made on the merits of the sacrifice of verse 3.  We know that in this case the desire was for help in trouble.

And fulfill all your purpose.

A king could ask no greater aid in supporting his policies than that of the LORD.  David’s request here is one that is totally appropriate for any politician who seeks to serve the LORD first of all.

5.  We will rejoice in Your salvation,

God’s salvation is indeed a joyous thing.  Without Him we would have no hope.  But through His salvation we attain to eternal life and the forgiveness of sins.  What a thing to rejoice in indeed!

And in the name of our God we will set up our banners!

Again, God’s name is His reputation and character.  David seems to be saying that in God’s name they will prepare a celebration.  Do we ever likewise celebrate because of Who and What God is?  Celebration times like Christmas are an excellent time for us to set up our banners to God.  But sometimes it seems we are more interested in celebrating family or presents or some vague thing called the “holiday season.”  Let our celebrations indeed be based on the greatness of our God.

May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.

Again the request is made for help in time of trouble.  But as we saw from the beginning of the verse, David is already anticipating the celebration to God that will be made when He grants the request!  David was convinced that God’s hand of strength would prevail in any trouble that might come upon them.

6.  Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed;

The word “anointed” is the word “Messiah.”  David is one of several kings called “God’s Anointed” or “Messiah” in the Old Testament.  But David perhaps more than any other symbolizes the greatest Messiah, the Lord Himself, Jesus Christ.  We know that the LORD saves Him, and that He saved David as well.

He will answer from His holy heaven

The reference to God’s heaven refers to the one commonly thought of as “heaven” today.  The word “heaven,” however, has the basic meaning of any thing lifted up or exalted above the norm, and thus it could refer to other places lifted up, and not just God’s heaven.  Thus David distinguishes this heaven as the “holy” or set-apart-to-God heaven.  This is the place where the LORD dwells indeed, and this is the place from which He will answer.  Notice that earlier in the psalm we had Him answering from the sanctuary on earth.  Now we learn that His answer from there actually flows first from His true dwelling place in heaven.

With the saving strength of His right hand.

The right hand is always the symbol of power in the Scriptures.  How thankful we can be that God’s hand is not just powerful to punish but also is powerful to save!

7.  Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;

This is a good thing to remember in a time when we are trusting our armies to protect us from evil men like Osama bin Laden.  Ultimately our protection is not from our military might, but rather from the LORD.  Yet we need to understand that this was also a dispensational statement that applied only to Israel.  Horses were a crucial military weapon in that day, yet God had forbidden the Israelites from using them.  This was because He wanted them to understand that their victories did not come from their military strength, but rather from Him.  Yet if we would try to apply this to today and refuse to include, say, airplanes in our military, we would soon find that God would not make up for it as He would for the Israelites.  We need to have a strong army in our day or the evil men of the world may crush us.  Yet that does not mean that trust in the LORD is not a good thing, just that we must be cautious that we do not expect Him to act in ways that would not be consistent with His policy of grace.

But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

The LORD had many times saved Israel from terrible situations and overwhelming odds.  Thus, a loyal Israelite would trust in Him, not weapons, numbers, or alliances, for his help.

8.  They have bowed down and fallen;

This speaks of those who trusted in their own military might, perhaps in attacking or seeking to defeat Israel.  Attempting to defeat the armies of God by force is not a clever plan!

But we have risen and stand upright.

Again David confidently declares the conviction that God will answer His prayer and deliver from the day of trouble.

9.  Save, LORD!

One last time the request for aid is made, this time in the fewest words possible.  Sometimes we seem to think that by making long or impressive prayers that God will be more likely to hear and answer.  Perhaps sometimes we need to pray more like this, putting our requests to God in the simplest way possible.  Thus all the praise for an answered prayer goes to Him, and not to our brilliance in speaking.

May the King answer us when we call.

The LORD, the true King, is the only One Who can truly save His anointed king out of trouble.  David knows this, and makes his request to Him.  Let us remember this in our own times of trouble as well.  No greater help could we have than that of the LORD!

To the Chief Musician.

Thus this petition for help was dedicated to public worship.  Now anyone who is in need of help from the LORD in their own time of trouble can read this psalm and cry out to the One Who is able to save them.

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