1 – 4 “The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; 5 the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. 7 Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. 8 Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. 9 He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet.” (Psalm 18:4-9, ESV)
RAF: 4 & 5- I was in trouble. 6 – I cried out to the Lord and He heard me. 7 & 8 – He did not respond dispassionately. 9 – He intervened personally.
2 – “For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.” (Psalm 18:29, ESV)
RAF: Thank you Father, that when I would rather run from the battle, or not face it at all, you would rather equip me to fight it. May I never fear as I realize your willingness to provide all.
3 – “You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.” (Psalm 18:35, ESV)
RAF: Father, I am safe, because of your salvation. Nothing man can do to me can in any wise harm me, if I am behind the shield of the righteousness of Christ. And I can stand, because I am upheld by He who is at your right hand for ever more – Christ my Lord. But what has made me great – was not your power or your might, but your gentleness. If you had not dealt gently with me all along the way, I would have been destroyed before I ever began. How gentle you are with your children. How wrongly we accuse you of harshness and hardness. How our human notions of “tough love” fail to account for what seems to be limitless patience – and what is in fact – the deepest knowledge and regard for our ultimate frailty. You are so gentle.
4 – “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14, ESV)
RAF: Heavenly Father, what would we be like as your family, if this were the case? Oh may it be true. Answer this prayer Father. Let every word that crosses my lips be worthy of the Name I bear. Let me never speak but that it would be what Christ Himself would say in the very same place. And my Heart. How I plead with you today to grant that the things I ponder, consider, mull over and allow my mind to entertain would be just as acceptable to you as if they were your own thoughts. What do you give your great, holy and infinite mind over to thinking about? This is what I would have for myself. To have a mind that in purity and justice and sweetness and mercy and grace and holiness is occupied at all times with those things that I should never blush to have declared before you, and the whole world.
5 – “Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you. You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them. You will destroy their descendants from the earth, and their offspring from among the children of man. Though they plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed. For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.” (Psalm 21:8-12, ESV)
See: 2 Thessalonians 12:3-12.
6 – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1, ESV)
RAF: These are the words mankind ought to have been crying out to God all along. But we did not perceive how our sin had separated us from Him. In our darkness and hardness, we thought there was but a minor rift if at all. Our own sense of the uncrossable chasm placed between God and ourselves due to our sin had little impact upon us. We have been so fallen for so long, that we have come to see the pain and sorrow of this present age is just the natural order of things. We do not take in the fact that every ache and pain, every sorrow and grief, every disaster, natural and man made – every tragedy and crime, every atrocity of man screams out to us that something is horribly horribly wrong. But it did not escape our great Substitute. He fully grasped our dire estate. He groaned out what we were too dull to comprehend. He appeals to the God of Heaven on our behalf. Bids Him to take notice of our dread condition. And He was heard. He uttered these words on the Cross – even as His own blood was atoning for the sin that put Him there. What a marvelous Savior He is.
7 – “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.” (Psalm 25:11, ESV)
RAF: That the world may know your true greatness, show mercy. Let it be revealed to all, that though in the Garden, you were lied about. Though we were told and believed that you were jealous, punitive, petty and withholding – let the truth of your mercy and grace be shouted from the housetops. May all the world come to know what I have come to know about you: That you are a God of mercy. That your name – your reputation might be restored – show yourself the One who pardons the guilty. Me. May I do nothing by way of self-justification that would rob you of the recognition of how fully, completely and graciously you forgive.
8 – “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.” (Psalm 25:14, ESV)
RAF: What a word this is: Friendship. It is translated other times as “secret counsels.” In other words, God is transparent with with those who fear Him. He reveals Himself intimately, as a close friend. He lets us in on His thinking, on His heart. He reveals His covenant – His deepest promises and what drives His own heart and mind. He makes it known that He is a God who enters into deep, personal relationship. Relationship on the level of marriage – a covenant. A formal, legal and binding declaration of relationship which He promises He will never violate. What a God is this!
9 – “O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.” (Psalm 26:8, ESV)
RAF: Heavenly Father, may I love the habitation of your house – the place where your glory dwells – the people that are your Church, now. May I love them Father. May I see them as the place where your glory dwells. May I not disdain a one of them. May I know of a certainty that you indwell them and that you manifest your glory there. May I never forsake them – but seek them out to be with them wherever they may be found.
10 – “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4, ESV)
RAF: Oh that we could all say such a thing. That the one, the highest and most urgent desire within us, is to dwell where the Lord makes Himself known, that we might be filled with the reality of His infinite and divine beauties – mesmerized by his personal and ineffable glory, and to be endlessly occupied with discovering His wonders, inquiring after His perfections, ways, person and being. Lord, make this MY heart.
11 – ” A Psalm of David. Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” (Psalm 29:1-2, ESV)
RAF: There is little that leaves us less prepared to deal with life, than when we have a small God. One who is inglorious. Impotent. Wishy-washy. Grim. Uncaring or distant. The call here is to each of us to remember God as He is, by a worship that ascribes to Him the glory that is truly and rightly His. Such worship is for our own good. For it forces us to reckon with how good and great He is – that we might not faint in the days of adversity. Worship – to remember.
12 – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8, ESV)
RAF: Though God’s counsel to us is treasured up in His Word, we ought never to imagine it to be some generic, one-size-fits-all kind of counsel. In His infinite wisdom, He has stored up for us counsel rooted in his perfect knowledge of us and our circumstances. He gives us counsel with His “eye upon” us. It is not blind counsel. Unbound by time and space, He knew everything each of us would face even before he spoke the worlds into existence. Do not imagine the Word of God to be a dusty old book – with archaic and untimely advice. His word is His Word – framed in the same mind that knows every hair on our heads.
13 – “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.” (Psalm 34:6, ESV)
Cry, oh cry,
dear grieving soul
For Christ does more than hear
The Son of Man,
God’s Word made flesh,
In tenderness draws near
He will not quench
But gently breathes to fire
The broken reed
He will not break
But mends to raise up higher
See Him there
Beside the tomb
The Living Savior weep
Though Lord of all
Pierced with your pain
Deep calling unto deep
Wrapped in arms
Of endless power
The broken heart He holds
And whispers soft
With words so sweet
Rich comforts there unfolds
His. You’re His.
No orphaned one
His own beloved child
Your every ache
His bosom pain
No rift. All reconciled.
Come, and rest
Your head on Him
Beloved of the King
He bids you come
Cast all on Him
Your grief. Your everything.
14 – “Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!”” (Psalm 35:3, ESV)
RAF: It is one thing for me to try and screw my courage back up in troubling times by reminding myself that God is my salvation. But it is quite another to have His Spirit repeat it directly to my soul. Oh Father – speak to us in those dark hours. Don’t leave us to ourselves. Send your Spirit to breathe into us with your own voice: “I am your salvation.” Then, will our hearts be steadfast.
15 – “All my bones shall say, “O Lord, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?”” (Psalm 35:10, ESV)
RAF: Instead of decrying my own weakness.