Theme: Singing God’s Praises
From this week’s lessons we learn that just as God protected and delivered David when he was surrounded by the hostile forces of King Saul, so also will God protect and deliver his people from whatever enemies surround them.
Scripture: Psalm 59:1-17
I wrote earlier in the week that I wanted to say more about this refrain the second time around, and we come to it the second time now. It is a great testimony, of course (“O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God”), particularly when we remember that outwardly the psalmist’s circumstances had not changed a bit. The same situation that caused David to cry out to God in verses 1 and 2 are still there. But here at the very end he is not only testifying that God is his strength and his fortress. He is actually singing praises to God in the very midst of his danger. In fact, the singing begins even a verse before this, in verse 16.
What has brought him to this point of vigorous jubilation? The answer is in the slight variation I noted earlier between verses 9 and 17. In verse 9 he is waiting on God, watching for his eventual deliverance. It is because he has been waiting and because God has provided encouragement, though not yet the expected deliverance, that David can sing. In the Hebrew the two words “watch” and “sing” are identical except for one letter, which is a way of saying, I suppose, that keeping one’s eyes on God is only a stroke away from singing his praises and otherwise rejoicing in him.
Do you lack joy? Is it hard for you to sing God’s praises? If so, it is probably because you are not watching for God and not looking to him. Remember Habakkuk, whom I referred to earlier as one who was waiting on his watchtower to see what God would say to him. Nothing changed outwardly for Habakkuk either. He was as much in danger and as much perplexed at the end of his prophecy as at the beginning. But Habakkuk was changed as a result of waiting upon God, and for that reason his short book ends as what we can only regard as singing: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
Those are the words of one who has learned to wait on God and trust him. They are words any Christian should be able to say.
Alexander Maclaren says, “Trust [God] as what he is, and trust him because of what he is, and see to it that your faith lays hold on the living God himself and on nothing besides.”1 If you do that, regardless of the circumstances that surround you, even if you are surrounded by “dogs” who seek your life, you will end up singing.
1Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, vol. 3, The Psalms, Isaiah 1-48 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), part 2, pp. 61.
What can we learn from David’s refrain?
What is remarkable about what David is doing in this psalm?
Reflection: Why might one lack joy? Reread Habakkuk 3:17-19. In times of loss do you rejoice in the Lord? Are your eyes on your circumstances, or on God? If joy is largely absent in your life now, pray and ask the Lord to increase your trust in him, and to restore to you the joy that only he can give.
For Further Study: God is the fortress of those who trust him and do his will. Download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “The Secret of Satisfaction.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)