Tuesday, June 21, 2022

2022.06.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 56

Read Psalm 56

Questions from the Scripture text: When did David write this Psalm (superscript)? To Whom does he look for mercy (Psalm 56:1)? Why not to man? What do his enemies do (Psalm 56:2a)? How few are they (verse 2b)? What does David sometimes feel (Psalm 56:3a)? What will he do then (verse 3b)? What does David praise (Psalm 56:4a)? What does David do to Him (verse 4b)? What will he not do (verse 4c)? What is the expected answer to the question in verse 4d? What do the enemies do (Psalm 56:5a)? Why (verse 5b)? What do they do (Psalm 56:6)? What is the expected answer to Psalm 56:7a? What will God do, and does David pray, in verse 7b? How does Psalm 56:8 describe the Lord’s personal care (cf. Psalm 56:6b)? When will God turn back the enemies (Psalm 56:9a–b)? Why will God listen? In What gets repeated three more times in Psalm 56:10a, verse 10b, Psalm 56:11a (cf. Psalm 56:3b, Psalm 56:4a, verse 4b)? What is repeated in Psalm 56:11 as a whole (cf. Psalm 56:4)? What does he remember about making vows in Psalm 56:12a? What vow does he now make in verse 12b? What two things do Psalm 56:13a–b say God has done for David? Unto what end (verse 13c–d)?

How does one survive when his enemies seem powerful, relentless, and coordinated? Psalm 56 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when men oppose us with their evil thoughts, words, and deeds, believers trust and praise an incomparable God Whose thoughts, words, and deeds are for us and for our deliverance.

Understanding that there are other ways to organize our thoughts in this Psalm according to the Hebrew poetry, we notice that there is this thematic doubling that builds David’s hope in God then concludes in his praising the God of His hope.

Only in God is there mercy (Psalm 56:1–2Psalm 56:5-6). “Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up” (Psalm 56:1a).As David echoes in 2 Samuel 24:14, the LORD’s mercies are great, but there is no true mercy with man. His understanding of his enemies’ sinfulness in Psalm 56:5b echoes Genesis 6:5 and Genesis 8:21. It is only in God, to Whom righteously belongs wrath, that we can have true hope for mercy. How great and generous, then, is this mercy that He shows such sinners as we are! 

Only in God is there power (Psalm 56:3-4). It is not only God’s merciful disposition toward us, but also His almighty power over all things, that fortifies our hope in Him. Whenever I am afraid, I can trust in God. Why? Because He is almighty. Whatever the terror, He is stronger. He created all things by His Word and upholds all things by the Word of His power. Those who know this, and praise His Word (v4a) rightly ask that question, “What can flesh do to me?” and rightly answer, “Nothing!” 

Always, in God, there is justice (Psalm 56:7). Verse 7 asks another question whose obvious answer is negative. “Shall they escape by iniquity?” No. God is angry every day (cf. Psalm 7:11), even if His wisdom patiently endures the wicked for a time, for a good reason (cf. Romans 2:4, Romans 3:25, Romans 9:22–23). What David knew about his attackers, you can always know about those harming you: God will cast them down (Psalm 56:7b)!

Always, in God, there is mercy (Psalm 56:8-9). David knew God’s constant, righteous disposition toward his enemies. But David also knew God’s constant, merciful disposition toward him. “You number my wanderings” (Psalm 56:8a). Every pain, every misery, of David’s life might have been invisible to others, but not to God. They might have been insignificant to others, but not to God. God’s care for David’s sorrow was such that he pictures God bottling his tears (verse 8b), not allowing a single tear to escape his notice or go uncared for. Verse 8c intensifies this point by picturing God as keeping an inventory/record book of all that His servant has gone through. How intimately, constantly, exhaustively our compassionate God cares for every trouble and every sorrow of His people!

Why is David sure that his cry is heard (Psalm 56:9a)? Why is he sure that the answer will be fulfilled (verse 9b)? Because God is for him (verse 9c). We know that all things work together for our good (cf. Romans 8:28), because God is for us; so no one and nothing can prevail against us (cf. Romans 8:31)!

Always, in God, there is power (Psalm 56:10-11). In Psalm 56:3-4, we saw that mere flesh cannot frighten us if almighty God is our trust. Psalm 56:11 concludes the same thing, but there is a doubling of the foundation in Psalm 56:10. The more David praises, the more he realizes that he has been created (verse 10a) and redeemed (verse 10b, note the covenant Name) to praise! And if he has been created and redeemed to praise, then sure the LORD is always exercising His power in David’s best interests.

Always, unto God, let there be the lip (Psalm 56:12) and the life (Psalm 56:13) of praise. David responds by affirming that vows are worship (Psalm 56:12a) and then making a vow to worship (verse 12b). To the lip of praise in verse 12b, he adds the life of praise—walking before God in the light of the living (Psalm 56:3c–d, cf. Romans 12:1). The realization that we were created and redeemed for God’s praise should do more than neutralize our fear. It should provoke us unto actual praising. 

What threats are you tempted to fear? What sorrows are you tempted to be overwhelmed by? How does praising God help you in such situations? When/how can you apply this remedy?

Sample prayer:  Our merciful, powerful God, thank You for creating us by Your Word and upholding all things by Your Word. We praise Your Word! By the praise of Your Word, You remind us that while man is merciless, You are full of mercy. While man is powerless, You are full of power. Surely, You have created us and redeemed us for Your praise. Grant that we would vow to praise You and keep our vows by praising You. Grant that we would walk before You in the light of the living, which we ask through Him who is our light and life, even Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP55A “Give Ear” or TPH55 “O Hear My Cry for Mercy”

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