“You lift me up on the wind and cause me to ride [upon it]; And You toss me about in the tempest and dissolve me in the storm.”
Job 30:22 AMP
As I was writing my previous post on praise what I had intended to say and what came out turned out to be two different things. I had intended to simply write a post on praising God but the Holy Spirit led me to start a study on the book of Psalms focusing specifically on how David praised God during some pretty intense storms in his life. Today let’s explore Psalms 11-20 and see again how David praised, trusted and fully relied on God in the eye of every hurricane he endured.
Psalm 11: David starts out right away declaring that he takes refuge (and puts his trust) in the Lord (verse 1.) He reminds himself (and the reader) that although the wicked are striking, God is on His throne-David is notably pointing out that amidst the danger he was facing, his God (and ours) is immovable! He then admits that God tests the righteous and the wicked but God himself remains righteous and loves righteousness (vs 7.) The last sentence of this chapter is priceless-David writes, “The upright shall see His face.” Think about when you’re in driving in a bad storm. What’s one thing that brings the most fear or concern? For me-it’s visibility. Not being able to see where I am going definitely heightens my anxiety and fear of getting into an accident. But in this last sentence David is declaring we shall see God’s face. Take that a little farther and think about this-when we focus on the face of Jesus and not the storm that’s huffing and puffing around us, we remain steadfast and at peace under His protection. It’s when we take our eyes off Him and focus on the chaos that we allow fear, doubt, anxiety and worry to set in and feel like we are spinning out of control/heading for a ditch.
Psalm 12: This chapter is talking about gossips-an enemy who seeks to destroy us by spreading false rumors. Even more, it’s talking about people who can deceive us by speaking false flattery to our face all the while plotting evil in their hearts (vs 2-3.) But David again keeps his eyes on God and declares in verse 6 that “the words and promises of the Lord are pure words…” and in verse 7 he adds, “You, o Lord, will preserve and keep them (godly people), You will protect him from this evil generation forever.” Even though he ends this chapter with a bit of a rant about how pompous the wicked are, the important part of this chapter is how he combats his enemies lies by reminding himself that God only speaks truth (pure words.)
Psalm 13: This is a short chapter and starting out a reader might think David has given up or lost hope. How many of us can related to the question he asks in verse 1-“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” Again he asks in verse 2-“…How long will my enemy exalt himself and triumph over me?” Triumph over him? What? That doesn’t sound like David. Not the David who continuously declares God’s victory over all of his circumstances. Well it was David and clearly his faith meter was running low when he started out this chapter. I can definitely attest to praying similar prayers and even struggling with feeling as though my prayers aren’t going any further than my living room ceiling. There are times and circumstances where many just lose their faith and wonder if God is really taking care of us. It’s in those times we need to do what David does at the end of this chapter when he says, “But I have trusted and relied on and been confident in Your lovingkindness and faithfulness; My heart shall rejoice and delight in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.” Clearly David is struggling and even feeling forgotten by God. But he doesn’t get angry. He doesn’t turn from God. No he digs his heel firmly in the trench and he declares that God is dealing with him bountifully. If that isn’t a heart that can give thanks in all circumstances, I don’t know what is.
Psalm 14: David begins saying no one is good or faithful. He even describes those who believe there is no god. He again describes the wicked as those who eat up godly people like they eat bread (vs 4.) But he refutes the plan of the wicked by reminding them they can come after the poor but God will protect the poor. He also declares salvation, restoration and a land that will rejoice when God redeems His people from captivity. Think about if you were held captive or taken into slavery? Could you declare God’s redemption over such dismal and hopeless circumstances? This passage definitely shows why David was a man after God’s own heart. His faith was definitely bigger than his environment in this chapter.
Psalm 15-This entire chapter is filled with declaration of absolute truth describing who is permitted to dwell in the presence of God. Because this was written before Jesus’ existed (and therefore before His crucifixion and resurrection), we have to keep in mind that people of David’s generation had to present themselves in the purest of form to be in God’s presence. Thus, David declares those who walk with integrity, strength of character, work righteousness, speak and hold truth in their heart, refrain from speaking slander or doing evil to their neighbor and does not take up a reproach against a friend are those who may “Dwell continually on His holy hill.” (vs 1-3.) David continues to describe godly characteristics that we all should pursue and strive to live daily. This chapter may not directly reflect praise but in the midst of that storm in our lives, perhaps it’s a great eye opener to put ourselves in check and see if our behavior, actions, and choices did anything to start or stir up the wind that swirls around us. Personally I can confess that I have been a contributor to many of the tornados and hurricanes life has thrown at me. I haven’t always started them but my reactions to them have surely contributed to gale force winds and got in the way of Jesus calming the storm.
Psalm 16-Just 3 chapters ago we read David expressing feelings of being forgotten by God. In chapter 16 we read the opposite. Here, David overflows with praise by exalting God. In verse 2 David says, “…You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.” Later in verses 5 and 8 David states, “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance, my cup [He is all I need]; You support my lot…I have set the lord continually before me, Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” He ends with verse 11 declaring God “will show me the path of life, In Your presence is fullness of joy, In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Reading this you might think, “I guess God delivered David by changing his circumstances and calming the storm.” Not necessarily! Remember that David endured many hardships and this Psalm is simply another example of David choosing to stand on God’s redeeming love as the way to withstand the evil plotted against him.
Psalm 17-Reading this passage I pictured David in two possible positions-one he’s standing or pacing, looking up in the sky waving his finger and telling God what to do. Why do I get that from this chapter? Because I’ve prayed similar phrases like verse 1 “…listen to my loud [piecing] cry, listen to my prayer…” in the same position and from an angry heart. Everyone has a breaking point and when I reach mine I tend to yell at God with very angry prayers. Not my finest of moments and I am sure the devil has his best laughing moments during these rants. Nonetheless it is something I am guilty of and later have to humbly seek God’s forgiveness for being so belligerent to our Heavenly Father.
When I read Psalm 17 a second time though, I picture David in a different posture-I picture him kneeling, head bowed, humbling himself before the Lord, boldly praying and speaking to God directly. David reaffirms with God that he knows God has searched his heart and found no evil, therefore David knows God will redeem him. David also asks God to “keep him [in God’s affectionate care, protecting David] as the apple of God’s eye…” That’s exactly where God keeps us as well. As parents we cannot always protect our children from getting hurt. God, as our Heavenly Father, doesn’t always keep us from getting hurt either. But He is faithful in protecting us from being destroyed and He always affectionately cares for us-even during times of discipline and when He puts us through the Refiner’s Fire. During these heated moments in life it’s best to remember we are always the apple of Abba’s eye.
Psalm 18-This Psalm is longer than the first 17. In fact, it’s made up of 50 verses. Most of this chapter is praise filled. David describes how fierce our God can be. In fact, his description includes earthquakes (vs 7), fire (vs 8), hailstorms (vs 12), thunder (vs 13 and lightning (vs 14.) As David details God’s wrath upon his enemy, he shows no sign of fear or anxiety. How many of us could remain calm in the midst of this type of description, even knowing it was coming from God? I don’t think I could. But David doesn’t bat an eye. He continues to describe God as a mighty warrior similar to Mel Gibson’s Braveheart character. He also offers praise to God-not once, not twice but approximately 14 times. He describes that not only did God fight for him, God empowered David to fight for himself. There are storms in our lives that God will want us to be still and trust him to fight the battle. But there are also storms in our lives that God will arm us and deliver our enemies into our own hands. It’s through wisdom and discernment that we can know which direction God is leading us-to fight or to be still.
David also describes being blameless in chapter 18. In verses 19-27 David reminds us that we are called to remain blameless. David did not act as his enemies did. He did not react to Saul’s pursuit to murder him. In fact, he refused to kill Saul when he had the power to do so. Instead he followed God’s leading and when Saul was killed, David grieved. That’s the heart Jesus wants us to have for our enemies. We cannot expect Him deliver us when we harbor hate and unforgiveness toward those who bring us harm or hurt us. We cannot expect Him to calm the storm if our actions/behavior are fueling the fire. It’s a tough thing to not react. It’s one I personally struggle with. And it’s an area God continues to humble me in. I need to follow David’s example and choose to forgive, choose to show love (Matthew 5:44) and choose how/when to respond but never to react. Sometimes the best thing we can do is not respond at all. That’s the time when we need to trust that God is fighting the battle for us and calling us to just be still.
Psalm 19-David spends most of this chapter describing the awe of God. In verse 1 he tells us, “…the expanse [of Heaven] is declaring the work of His hands.” In verse 7 he reminds us that “The law of the Lord is perfect (flawless). Restoring and refreshing the soul…” But then David gets more personal. In verses 13 and 14 David asks God to reveal to him sins (hidden faults) that he’s not aware of. He also asks God to keep him from deliberate sins. He ends asking God to keep the words he speaks and the things his heart meditates upon pleasing to God. These last two verses clearly show how sold out for God David truly was. These two verses are the perfect prayer for each of us to lift up to Abba every day. It’s certain to humble any heart and is the exact reminder needed to remain in His word and to keep our eyes, speech and heart focused on God.
Psalm 20-This chapter is written as if someone else is praying for David. I believe David is merely referring to himself in third person. He is asking God to rescue him in the day of trouble (vs 1) grant the desires of David’s heart (vs 4) and to fulfill all of David’s petitions (vs 5.) In verse 7 he points out that some put their hope and trust in things (horses and chariots) but David chooses to “remember and trust in the name of the Lord our God.” He’s clearly seeking deliverance yet again but also choosing to focus on God’s faithfulness fully knowing he will be delivered.
David endured a lot of turmoil and this is evident in these 10 chapters. Each one has a few common themes including; David is in trouble, he has some very hateful enemies, but he trusts God for protection and deliverance. God calls us to do the same. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us God has plans to prosper us, not harm us. Some people believe this verse promises only good for us and thus bad stuff cannot come from God. That’s a false belief. God’s plans for us include the good and the bad. When we go through storms in life we can feel as though God abandoned us (like David did in Psalm 13.) But remember this-God uses forest fires to actually regenerate the forest. Pine cone seeds remain dormant until a forest fire melts the protective layer around them. It’s after this layer is melted that the cones pop open and their seeds spread. God’s refining fire for us works the same way. It’s in the process of burning that God can melt down the layers we have that are keeping us from being all He made us to be.
***Please note, I am not a bible scholar. This study into Psalms is my own interpretation of what David is going through and speaking of. If you read commentaries on the Psalms you will get way more in depth explanations of the book of Psalms. I want to give this disclaimer as it is not my intention to mislead anyone with this study nor speak falsely. Thus, if you find yourself reading something and feel you have a different interpretation please share it in the comments section. I welcome the conversation and differing perspectives.