For years I have read about golfers who have been struck by lightning while out on the golf course. I have always wondered who these people are who are so dull of senses as to not see a thunderstorm coming. I almost had a “they got what they deserved” attitude when I heard those stories. That was until a few years ago. I went golfing with the director of the camp where I was preaching. On the third hole we heard some thunder in the distance and figured we would finish the hole and then assess the situation. The third hole was lined with trees so we had to wait until we rounded the corner to get a look at the distant sky anyway. The sky didn’t look very good, but the 4th hole was headed back toward the clubhouse anyway. We both decided we could at least tee off. We then concluded that we had enough time to hit a second shot, after all, we were headed toward the clubhouse. I was glad I did, because my second shot was the shot of the day. Unfortunately, as soon as we hit our second shot, we looked at a wall of rain advancing quickly across the golf course toward us. We barely got back to the cart when the rain and high winds hit us. We were going to begin the drive back when out of nowhere, lightning started flashing all around us. At least every 5 to 10 seconds there was a bolt of lighting. And the thunder trailed no more than 3 seconds after the flash. Those flashes came closer. One second delays were common. We sat in a small grove of trees for shelter. We didn’t dare chance driving across the open expanses of the fairway back to the clubhouse. We both were trying to laugh at the predicament that was until a flash was accompanied simultaneously with the loudest boom I have ever heard in my life. Had you been there you would have seen two grown men scream and cling to one another. My friend was so startled, that he looked at me and asked, “Did you hear that.” I was to scared to reply with a smart remark. I only nodded my head. I was witnessing a display of awesome power first hand like never before. My friend suggested we pray. As soon as we bowed our heads and breathed only one line prayer a thunderous boom like before occurred again. I really have questioned his prayer life since then. After 25 minutes of intense storm, there was a slight break in the action. We drove as fast as possible across the fairway to the path to the clubhouse. As we approached we both spontaneously began thanking the Lord. I didn’t realize how blessed we were until later. In the locker room of the clubhouse there is a poster that reads: What to do in case of lightning. 1. Do not wait for any warning signs beyond the first sound of thunder. 2. Find the lowest spot on the course you can. 3. Do not stand near large trees. In our panic, all we knew to do was hide. So we stayed on high ground because of the rain and hid among big trees. Having realized how feeble my plan was for deliverance, I could not help but rejoicing in the deliverance of God despite my weakness.
The psalmist, King David, found himself in many threatening situations. Not the least of which was David’s encounter with the Achish the King of the Philistines. David had decided he may be safer among the Philistines than near the men of Saul. David, however, was instantly recognized as the killer of Goliath. When brought before Achish, David feigns insanity. So much so that Achish finds it offensive to have him in the courts and sends him away. David was in an impossible situation and did what seemed most effective at the time. Although David’s solution was feeble, crass, and humiliating, he found deliverance. David realized that his solution was quite lame. He realized he was not delivered based upon the genius of the move. Despite his feeble and maybe even foolish plan, God delivered him. Perhaps it was the greatness of God’s deliverance over against David’s rather pitiful display that caused him to pen this great psalm of deliverance.
Before David begins to speak of God’s deliverance in particular he expresses his gratitude, praise, and thankfulness. In this introductory section of the psalm, David, overwhelmed by the goodness of God invites the listener to participate in praise with him.
v. 1 – I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall be continually in my mouth – In light of the historical context of David’s life, what a great statement. At all times. In every circumstance. Before, in, and after trials. Even when the goodness of God reminds us of our weakness, as is the case for David here. We do not rob God of his goodness because our part was lousy. We see our part as inadequate and foolish and praise God for the merciful deliverance. Spurgeon – “Though the hook was rusty, yet God sent the fish, and we thank Him for it.”
v. 2 – My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: The humble shall hear thereof, and be glad – Boasting is a natural propensity, but too often it is of ourselves. Boasting in and of itself is not the problem. Boasting tends toward sin because the exaltation and praise is misdirected. So long as God is the exalted person, we can boast with all our soul. Although David’s actions may have caused embarrassment, God’s actions caused boasting.
The humble who would otherwise be bothered with the boasting of men gladly enter into the exaltation of their God. The praises of God coming from the lips of this tried and wearied believer encourages others to trust in the Lord all the more.
v. 3 – O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. – Upon whom is David calling. Perhaps the humble in v. 2. It would be fitting. Who is better at magnifying God than those who acknowledge themselves to be little? Why does David invite others? He realizes his own inadequacy to worship God alone, and therefore calls upon others to help him in this task. Exalting and worshiping the Lord is the natural result of those who understand the greatness and goodness of God. Having seen what he has done in our lives and the lives of others, let us join together and magnify our Great God. God’s fame ought to increase among those who have contact with his people. In that sense, witnessing for Christ is in some sense an act of worship as we testify to all people of God’s great deliverance. Magnify, exalt, together.
David bursts through the doors of this psalm proclaiming the glory of God, before he tells us the specific reason. After we have heard David’s rejoicing we may grab him by the arm and calm him down. David, David, this is great, but could you slow down a moment to tell us exactly what has prompted such intense praise? David turns and says, “Yes, yes, of course. I would love to tell you. It is all about God’s great deliverance! Let me tell you about it specifically.
As David begins to tells us of his personal experience you’ll notice that he quickly follows these personal statements with general maxims, or general truths common to his personal experience.
David validates God’s past deliverance personally: “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. David then validates God’s past deliverance based on the experience of many in the past. His personal experience was not at all peculiar.
-they – God’s people in the past. No particular group in mind. Others in the past have looked unto him and were lightened. They were uplifted, they began to shine, they were given hope. And their faces were not ashamed. Their faces are covered with brightness and joy, not shame. Those who have trusted in God have not been disappointed. To those who have sought God’s help, he has never said no. Those who look to God will never be embarrassed for their God is never found to be inadequate.
David returns to his personal experience again. “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” This friendless, forsaken man who humiliated himself before the royalty of the Philistines, this one…this unworthy man, cried, and the Lord heard, and saved me from the trouble.
Quickly he reminds us again that he is the not the exception.
“the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them." “the angel of the Lord” This may simply refer to the protective presence of the Lord through his messengers, but more likely refers to the covenant making Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament which is clearly the preincarnate Christ. Christ, the head of all the heavenly band offers his protection and deliverance as the fulfillment of God’s covenant with those who come to him in faith. I will be your God, you will be my people. With such intimate relationship comes divine protection.
David is teaching us this morning that
We must exalt God because his deliverance has been validated in the past. It has been validated by individual experience as well as corporate experience.
We understand that David is not the exception but rather just one example of God’s great deliverance.
You and I both know that it is easy to trust someone who always comes through for you. My son was a bit apprehensive the first time I took him to a swimming pool. I convinced him to jump into the pool and I caught him. He was more ready to do it a second time. The third time with no hesitation. Today I have to be careful, because he will jump in at anytime and expect me to be there. His trust in me has exceeded my ability. This is the joy of trusting in an infinite God. God has never been out of order. God has never been unable. God has never withheld aid from those who cried out for it.
This morning we must exalt God for his glorious work in the past. If you know Christ personally then you have already experience the miraculous deliverance from death to life. From eternal damnation to eternal joy. From being dead in trespasses to being alive in Christ. If God can accomplish such deliverance for you and millions of others throughout history, then he has surely shown himself faithful and worthy of our continual praise. Perhaps you are anxiety ridden this morning. Perhaps your heart is trouble over a family situation. Your job isn’t going like you thought it would. Perhaps you don’t think you will have the energy to accomplish what your boss wants you to accomplish this week. Perhaps your depressed this morning because you know that you will face that same temptation this week that nearly drains your resolve. It is best for you to do some remembering. You need to understand just how faithful and sufficient your God is this morning. You need to rejoice this morning. You need to exalt and worship him in your heart this morning. Yes the future may seem tough, but you can’t forget what God has already accomplished in your life. The anxiety of the difficulties ahead can often be calmed by remembering God’s work in the past.
David does more than just recall his own past situation. He gives us this information for a distinct purpose. David - If God has delivered me and many others like me in the past, I want to challenge you to do something. I want you to see it today for yourself.
O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. – God’s deliverance isn’t just about people in the past. He was good then, he is good today. Try it out. Experience is for yourself. There is guarantee. If you will taste it. You will be blessed. Faith is the soul’s taste. Trust in God, experience it first hand. You will not be disappointed.
In a parallel statement David continues, “O fear the Lord, ye his saints, for there is no want to them that fear – Understand the nature of God and reverently trust in light of that understanding. Submit and you will be satisfied. God is faithful to his promise. He is today, what I have seen him to be yesterday.
David contrasts this trust in God with trust in self. He draws our attention to the picture of a young lion. “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger – These creatures who are fierce, cunning, strong, and in the prime of their youth. These creatures who are inch for inch designed for killing prey and satisfying their hunger, still hunger. Though they have occasional kills, they are often heard moaning in the night for hunger.
Trusting in our own devices no matter how impressive will not satisfy. The deliverance procured by self trust is spotty at best and most often merely a temporary fix with no guarantee of extended safety. You don’t have to live in such an unsure way. David ends this section with the reassuring words, “they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
David has not only taught us that we should exalt God because His deliverance has been validated in the past but also because His deliverance is available in the present.
Those who trust in God’s deliverance today find fulfillment and safety
Those who trust in man’s deliverance today find disappointment and unsurety.
Your financial wizardry will not bring lasting comfort to your life. You problem solving abilities will not make the family difficulties cease. Your physical strength or stature will not take away your fear of failing health and death. God is offering you a sure deliverance today that has been guaranteed not only by his Word but by the millions who have tasted it in the past. You can either taste and see the Lord’s goodness today or be content to act as the young lion. Sure, you may have a few successes, but the failures will be more numerous. The choice is simple. You can trust in yourself for the hope of security, or trust in God for the promise of security.