Having read of the death of David yesterday, we will now take some time (11 days) to consider some Psalms believed by some to be written by him, but which cannot easily be placed within his life regarding any specific events. We begin with Psalm 6. This could have been written along with Psalm 30 about David’s repentance over the census (1 Chr 21). Note the similarities between Psalm 6:5 and Psalm 30:9. Or, based on verses 8 and 10, this may have been written while on the run from Saul or Absalom.
This Psalm is certainly a Psalm of repentance based on David’s prayer for God to forgive him and relent from punishment (6:1). David is already languishing in his spirit (vv. 2-3). David appeals to God’s hesed love as the basis for forgiveness (v. 4). David poetically talks of his sadness over his sin (vv. 6-7). David believes that God will answer his prayer because of his repentant heart and sorrow over his sin (vv. 8-9).
Psalm 12 begins with a lament over the wickedness on the earth. David writes of the total depravity of man (12:1-2). The godly are gone. There is no one faithful. Everyone lies and flatters. It is not unlike Paul’s description of the natural man in Romans 3. But David prays for God to remove the wicked (vv. 3-4). And God promises to do so for the sake of the oppressed. They are taken advantage of by the wicked, so God will save them (v. 5). And David praises God for His words (v. 6). In verse 7, David declares his faith that God will do what He has promised (v. 7). He bookends this Psalm with his lament over the wicked by closing with verse 8: the wicked are everywhere and they exalt sin.
Psalm 13 is the cry of one desperate for God. We have seen such language from David before. He prays for God to hear his cries (13:1), asking why he is being overcome by his enemies (v. 2). David prays that his enemy would not be victorious over him (vv. 3-4). This enemy may be Saul or Absalom, or someone else during David’s many military campaigns. We have seen before that David was not immune to doubt, even though he had faith. We see that here. He cries out because he feels abandoned by God, and yet he still trusts God’s hesed love and salvation (v. 5). How often these feelings of faith and doubt mingle in our own hearts. In those moments, we should do what David did: sing to God praise for all He has done for us (v. 6).
Psalm 91 is my favorite Psalm. I have many that I love, but this is my favorite (Psalm 139 is a close second)! It has a declaration that God is the refuge of the saved. Then it tells how He is our refuge. Then God Himself tells us that He is our refuge. It begins by including anyone who dwells (the word means “live”) in the shelter of God. This is those in Christ. We abide (the word means to “lodge” or “remain”) in the shadow of God (91:1). This means God is with us. He is so close to us that we stand in His shadow. Those who dwell in Him declare to Him that He is our refuge, our fortress – and most importantly – our God (v. 2). Our trust is in Him alone.
The Psalmist then expounds life in the shadow of God’s protection. He saves us from temporal troubles (v. 3). He cares for us like a mother bird cares for her young, and provides “armor” to protect us (v. 4). He takes away all our fear (vv. 5-6 – the most repeated command in the Bible is not to fear!). The punishments that befall the wicked will never come near us (vv. 7-8). And why will He protect us like this? Because we dwell in Him (v. 9), that’s why nothing that plagues the wicked will come near us (v. 10).
What’s more, there are righteous spiritual powers on our side. Angels will help protect us (v. 11). They will carry us through the attacks of the powers of darkness (vv. 12-13 – note the word “lion” can also mean “lizard” – see Christ’s promise to trample on snakes in Luke 10:19, and don’t miss the tie-in to Gen 3:15 and Christ’s victory!). Note that Satan – who is the serpent (Rev 20:2) – tries to tempt Jesus to test God using Psalm 91:11-12. It is no accident that he stops short of verse 13 where the snake is trampled. This is what Christ did in part by winning the battle against Satan during the temptations in the wilderness, and then by defeating him fully at the cross.
God then speaks about His salvation. In verse 14 He tells us that those who hold fast to him (have faith in Him), He delivers (He saves – see v. 3) and protects (see v.4). When we call to Him (see v. 2), He will answer (v. 15). He is with us in times of trouble – so close that we are in His shadow. He will not only rescue (deliver, save) us, He will “honor” us (literally, “make honored”). The word is really the word for “glory” – He will make us glorious (see Rom 8:18-30). He will satisfy us with long life (not necessarily physical life in the here and now, especially considering the reference to glorification right before this and salvation immediately after), and He will show us His salvation (v. 16). The word translated show means “to cause to experience.” If we have faith (v. 14), He will cause us to experience salvation (v. 16).