Theme: A Confident Prayer for Deliverance and Blessing
In this week’s lessons, we learn what it means to trust God for his help and blessing.
Scripture: Psalm 144:1-15
The final section of Psalm 144 (vv. 11-15) anticipates the blessing the king expects God to give his kingdom after those who are threatening him are defeated. Alexander Maclaren called this section “an appended fragment” that has been attached to the earlier verses in an “embarrassing fashion,” since it does not have echoes of other Davidic psalms, as the first verses do, and because he cannot see a connection.
But the flow of thought is obvious. When God delivers the nation from “the hands of foreigners, whose mouths are full of lies” and “whose right hands are deceitful” (v. 11), there will be no military threat (“no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets”), the young men will grow up like “well-nurtured plants, the young women will be like “pillars carved to adorn a palace,” and the efforts of the people will be redirected from war to the fields and flocks so the country will flourish and become increasingly prosperous. These last verses are not even added in “an embarrassing way,” as Maclaren supposes. On the contrary, they are tied in beautifully; for the prayer for deliverance in verses 7 and 8 is repeated in verse 11 (with the omission of one line), implying that when the prayer has been answered the days of prosperity will have come.
The prayer for deliverance here is not a desperate plea, as in some of the other psalms, but rather a confident prayer that leads to the vision of future blessing expressed in the last four verses. David is sure that when the deliverance is given, the blessing will be realized.
What kind of a blessing is it? Significantly, it begins with the family as the foundation of any strong society (v. 12). It advances to the people’s prosperity (v. 13), then to the security of the city (v. 14). Finally, the blessing is anchored in its only adequate source, which is God, which is why the psalm ends by saying that the greatest blessing of all is to have Jehovah as one’s God (v. 15).
How different this is from the world’s way of thinking. Most people want the blessings of these last verses, but they suppose they can have them without God. People are not made to be alone. People need people, and most people dream of a loving, supportive family where they can prosper and attain their potential. But without God the family collapses and relationships are frequently destroyed. The collapse of the American family in our day is one proof of how this happens. People also want to prosper. Who does not? They want their work to go well and their bank accounts to grow. But even when this happens, they are still insecure and find that things alone do not satisfy them. Finally, people want to be safe. But when the culture is crumbling, as ours is, they know that they are not secure and that violence and even death can strike them from nearly any source at any moment.
Having Jehovah as our God does not in itself immediately guarantee these blessings, for we live in a fallen world. Even David did not experience uninterrupted blessings. The families of believers also fail, as David’s did; we do not always live utterly free from want; we are often in physical danger, as David was when he wrote this psalm. But we are blessed by God all the same. Besides, to know God is the greatest of all blessings, and knowing and serving God is the best and surest path to every other blessing.
The world says, “Blessed are those who put themselves first. Happy are those who look out for ‘number one.’” By contrast, the psalmist wrote at the beginning of the Psalter, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (Ps. 1:1-3).
1Alexander Maclaren, The Psalms, vol. 3, Psalms 90-150 (New York: A.C. Armstrong and Son, 1894), p. 420.
What is the blessing to his nation that David anticipates? Why are the world’s “blessings” always hollow?
Why is this psalm considered a confident prayer?
Read Psalm 1. How can you better make this psalm your own personal aspiration?
Reflection: What worldly foundations are you sometimes tempted to build upon? How can you combat those temptations when they come? How might you encourage others around you to do the same?
Key Point: …to know God is the greatest of all blessings, and knowing and serving God is the best and surest path to every other blessing.
For Further Study: To learn more about God’s blessing, download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “The Full Measure of God’s Blessing.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)