Theme: Our Covenant God
In this week’s lessons, we learn what it means to trust God for his help and blessing.
Scripture: Psalm 144:1-15
With the exception of the two opening verses of Psalm 144, which pick up five of the seven images for God that appear in Psalm 18:1-3 (only “strength” and “horn of my salvation” are neglected), the part of Psalm 144 that is most like Psalm 18 is the stanza to which we come now (vv. 5-8). It is a section in which David asks God to come down from heaven and rout his enemies: “Part your heavens, O LORD, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke. Send forth lightning and scatter the enemies; shoot your arrows and rout them. Reach down your hand from on high; deliver me and rescue me from the mighty waters, from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful.”
Psalm 18 also describes God parting the heavens to come down (v. 9), touching the mountains so they shake (v.7), and scattering the people’s enemies with lightning like arrows (vv. 12, 14). But the important thing about these similarities is not that Psalm 144 is like Psalm 18. Rather, both are borrowing from the accounts of God’s display of his power at Mount Sinai in the days of Moses and in the conquest of the land of Canaan in the days of Joshua. The later psalm is not just copying the earlier one, as some commentators suggest. Instead, both are drawing on this well-known, common store of Old Testament imagery.
Verse 5 uses language associated with the descent of God to Sinai to give the law through Moses. This was accompanied by a shaking of the earth, dark clouds and lightning. In the same way, Hebrews describes Sinai as “a mountain … burning with fire; … darkness, gloom and storm,” so terrifying that even Moses said, “I am trembling with fear” (Heb. 12:18-21). David remembers this by asking God to “touch the mountains” so they [will] “smoke.” He does not mean this literally. What he wants is for God to be as present in his day as he was when he revealed himself at Sinai.
Verse 6 touches on God’s intervention in the war against the Canaanites at the time of the Jewish conquest under Joshua, particularly against the southern confederation in the battle described in Joshua 10. That was when God sent hailstones, probably accompanied by flashes of lightning, against the Jews’ enemies.
The reference to deliverance from “the mighty waters” in verse 7 may have in mind the parting of the Red Sea at the time of the exodus from Egypt, or the parting of the waters of the Jordan River at the time of the crossing into Canaan, though the image is used a bit differently in the psalm.
What is happening in these verses is that David is reflecting on God’s manifestations of his presence and power in the past and is asking that something of that same power might be demonstrated in God’s deliverance of him from his present danger. It also means this: By alluding to these past proofs of God’s presence, David is declaring that the God of Moses, Joshua and the judges is his God too, and that he is standing with them in the long succession of God’s people within the covenant made at Sinai.
So do we, if we have been joined to God’s covenant people through the work of Jesus Christ! The God of Moses, Joshua and David is our God too, and he is the same today as he ever was. He is also our Rock and our deliverer.
How do verses 5-8 resemble Psalm 18?
What does David mean when he asks God to touch the mountains?
Explain the implication of the statement “The God of Moses, Joshua and David is our God too.”
Why does David reflect on God’s actions in the past?
Reflection: Reflect on God’s victories that you have witnessed in your life. What has been your response to these divine actions?