RAF: Note carefully that this is an imprecatory Psalm. The occasion is when Saul sent men to take David at his home to kill him. While David prays for God to intervene and punish, yet his own actions are merciful and gracious. God will deliver Saul into his hands several times in the future, but David will spare him. He leaves his anger, his desire to strike back – even his actual defense – to God. In prayer we may safely rage against our enemies. For our God can not act unjustly. He can neither over-punish, nor under-punish. We can get it off our chests. And then, in real life – like David – we can act in mercy.
2 – “Kill them not, lest my people forget; make them totter by your power and bring them down, O Lord, our shield!” (Psalm 59:11, ESV)
RAF: Here is the real essence of David’s imprecatory prayers: Not to literally assassinate his enemies, but to render them powerless. To defang them. To “make them totter”, and to “bring them down.” His language, however violent is built around this idea. It is the destruction of their plots, plans and machinations. For these things, he prays with utter abandon.
3 – “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1, ESV)
RAF: Heavenly Father, may I always be this love-sick for you. May my heart never stop yearning for your presence, your nearness. There is nothing more insidious than when our hearts are far from you, and fail to miss you. Distractions call to us from every corner. Necessities tyrannize our time. 24 hours life leaves us no quietness and no quiet place alone with you. And soon we grow far apart. Not because you part from us – but we from you. Make our hearts to ache unless we are finding full and daily joy at your right hand. Keep us back from taking you for granted.
4 – “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.” (Psalm 73:16-17, ESV)
RAF: Asaph suffers from a common ailment among God’s people: Trying to figure out how it is that those who seem to have no regard for God at all, how those who mock Him, ignore Him, speak wrongly of Him and indulge in all kinds of sin – nevertheless sometimes seem to live charmed lives. Food and plenty and success attend them. And this while those who love God are chastened for even small things, and do not live with the finer things of life. Why do sinners live in luxury and safety, while the Saints of God languish and struggle? He receives no answer which unlocks the present situation – but he does arrive at the bigger picture. It is temporary. And, he “discerned their end.” Never, never be jealous of the lost. For in the end, what will they do? They may have 70 or 80 years of pleasure here – but what is that to an eternity in Hell? And we may have 70 or 80 years of trouble now. What is that to an eternity in the unveiled presence of the Living God? What is that to being wed to the Lamb of God? To spend forever and ever exploring and luxuriating in the endless joys and pleasures of seeking out the infinite glories of our God and King? Drinking in the heart of the Redeemer who gave His life for us that He might ransom us from the bondage of sin and death, that we might be seated with Him in heavenly places? What is that indeed?
5 – Psalm 74. This is a painful Psalm to read. Whether Asaph wrote this prophetically – seeing the eventual destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Babylonians, or whether the title is to be taken as written in honor of Asaph (a contemporary of David) – the sorrow is overwhelming. What makes it so sorrowful? The description of the destruction of the Temple. The whole of Israel’s identity revolved around the Temple. What made them unique among all the families of the earth, is that God chose to dwell among them. And here, the very place where God made His presence known, is hacked to pieces and utterly brought down. The writer can imagine no greater loss. And this, because the people had forsaken God, and sought after earthly riches, other gods, and sinful ways.
This then becomes a good reminder to us to consider the state of God’s Temple today. How is His church doing? Or are we a generation whose lives are characterized by the same ills? Has the church gone after earthly riches? Are we serving the gods of political correctness, family, comfort & convenience, career, fame or selfishness? Have we abandoned being God’s exclusively? Are we given up to sins and lusts of all kinds – which we justify under the banner of “grace”? Has the gold been stripped from our doors? I wonder.
6 – Psalm 77.
a. 1-9 / When it seems as though God has abandoned me. That He has forgotten to be gracious…
b. 10 / I make myself remember back to when I used to know Him near – when I saw His power at work.
c. 11 / I recall the things He has done in times past.
d. 11 / Wonders you’ve performed.
e. 12 / The glory of Creation.
f. 12 / And displays of your power.
g. 13 / I recall that you are holy.
h. 13 / And that you alone are God.
i. 14 / That you have made yourself known to your people – your self-revelation.
j. 15 / I especially recall have you redeemed us out of Egypt – out of the world.
k. 16-18 / How you parted the Red Sea. Did the impossible in delivering us.
l. 19 / And how you were not visible then either. You walked through the sea in front of us – but we couldn’t see your footprints.
m. 20 / You yourself shepherded us, cared for us, tended us – though you did it through ordinary human agents like Moses and Aaron.