The Book of Psalms

Tuesday: God Is My Fortress


Theme: Why God Should Hear David’s Prayer
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
From where we sit, in safety and comfort, and frequently surrounded by luxuries, the psalms sometimes seem to be little more than quaint poetry containing noble thoughts. We lose a feel for their urgency. Yet the psalms are often very urgent and their prayers almost desperate. We catch something of the urgent quality of this psalm in the imperatives that begin each of the four swift sentence prayers of verses 1 and 2: “deliver”, “protect,” “deliver” and “save.” These are not casual utterances. In them we can sense David’s awareness of danger and of his desperate aloneness except for God.
There is a lesson here, however. The urgency that leads us to utter swift sentence prayers does not preclude our praying thoughtfully and thus presenting a reasoned case to God. I say this because of the second stanza (NIV). It contains three reasons why God should hear David’s prayer.
The danger facing David (v. 3). God is omniscient. He sees and knows all things. But this does not stop David from calling God’s attention to the danger he is facing: “See how they lie in wait for me!” he tells God. “Fierce men conspire against me.” Are you in danger? Tell God about it. Are you discouraged? It is not wrong to call it to God’s attention. If you lack wisdom, ask him for wisdom, for he has promised to supply it. David’s reminding God of his dangerous situation reminds us of the aged saint who, when people were threatening him, told God, “God, your property is in danger.” He knew that he belonged to God, that God saw his problem, loved him and was able to take care of him.
David’s innocence (vv. 3, 4). In the last phrase of verse 3 and in verse 4 David protests his innocence: “for no offense or sin of mine, O LORD” and “I have done no wrong.” David is not claiming to be sinless, of course. This is not a matter of his innocence before God but rather of his innocence before Saul, his enemy. It is an important point. If you are innocent of wrongdoing before other people, then you can appeal to God bravely and with confidence. If you are guilty of wrongdoing, then you cannot pray boldly and you will appear before God convicted of sin rather than vindicated and assured. Are you innocent before other people? Can you truly say, “I have done no wrong” (v. 4)?
The character of God (v. 5). One of the most striking features of this psalm is its names for God, and here they appear in profusion: “O LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel.” In Hebrew this is quite a mouthful of names. Yahweh is the great personal name of God revealed to Moses on Sinai. It means, “I am who I am.” Elohim Sabaoth, which means “the God of hosts.” “Hosts” refers both to the armies of Israel and to the heavenly hosts who stand behind them and give victory. Elohi Israel, the God of Israel. This is God who has entered into a lasting covenant relationship with his people. Leupold says, “The writer recalls God’s unique power by employing the various most familiar names by which he was known in Israel,”1 and that is right. When you can pray, “LORD God, God of hosts, God of Israel, my God,” you have said a great deal and have a powerful argument.
1H.C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 443.
Study Questions:

How can we catch the urgency of this psalm?
What are the three reasons God should hear David’s prayer?
How is innocence related to praying boldly?
How does David appeal to God’s character in his prayer?

Application: How will your prayer life change as you model it after this psalm? Formulate your own prayer, using the three principles that David uses in this psalm. To what will you call God’s attention? Can you appeal to God with confidence? Why? How will you use God’s character in your appeal to him?

Study Questions
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