We have followed the historian’s record of David’s census of the Levite tribe. The king had assigned men and their families to the task of ministering in the Temple, and in other matters related to their spiritual offices (1 Chronicles 23-26). With the important task of organizing the tribe of Levi complete, David’s focus shifted to the matter of his military organization.
Today’s Scripture reading gives a record of the divisions and organization of the men who were leaders in David’s army (27:1-15). You will notice there were twelve divisions, and each division consisted of 24,000 men. A leader is named for each division. In addition, the princes, or rulers, who served as leaders of the tribes of Israel are named (27:16-22). The exception, neither the tribes of Gad or Asher are listed.
1 Chronicles 27:23-24 serve as a reminder of an earlier census when David had numbered only men who were twenty years and older (27:23a). The king, having received a promise from the LORD that Israel would be without number (“like to the stars of the heavens”), had not counted those who were younger than twenty years. We are reminded how Joab had questioned the king’s purpose for numbering the people (1 Chronicles 21:3), nevertheless, “24Joab the son of Zeruiah began to number” (27:24), but he refused to number the men of Levi and Benjamin (21:6). God had judged the nation for the king’s command to count the people, and His wrath “for it [had fallen]against Israel; neither was the number put in the account of the chronicles of king David” (27:24).
David had become a man of vast wealth in Israel, and he had appointed over his treasures, fields, vineyards, and herds, men who were trusted with all that he owned (27:25-31).
Recorded in the closing verses is a list of David’s trusted counselors (27:32-34). Named among them is Ahithophel, a counselor to the king, and Bathsheba’s grandfather. Although he had aligned himself with David’s son Absalom (2 Samuel 15:31; 16:23), when the insurrection failed, he hanged himself (2 Samuel 17); nevertheless, Ahithophel is named among David’s great men (27:33).
Closing thoughts – We have followed David’s life from his youth as a shepherd, to his last days as a powerful, and wealthy king. Here was a man who remembered it was the LORD who had taken him from herding sheep, to leading a great nation and people. His sinful passions, particularly his adultery with Bathsheba, shadowed his life, causing him to reap many sorrows. Yet, though he was a man surrounded by wise, and powerful men, he found his greatest joy and confidence in God’s Word.
Where, or to whom, do you turn for counsel?
Psalm 119:24 – “24Thy testimonies [i.e. words, laws, commandments] also are my delight and my counsellers.”
Our Scripture reading continues in the Book of Psalms, and the titles of both Psalm 143 and Psalm 144 credit David as the author. Psalm 144 is a psalm of worship and praise, while Psalm 143 is a penitent, mournful psalm. Today’s devotional will be taken from the latter.
We have seen a pattern and practice of prayer throughout David’s life. When he was assailed by enemies, he prayed (Psalm 13:2; 61:3). When trials came and troubles threatened to engulf him, he prayed (Psalm 120:1). When he faced the scourge of the consequences of his sins, he called upon the Lord, confident He would hear, and answer his penitent prayer (Psalm 51).
Psalm 143 continues David’s practice of prayer and opens with the king calling upon the LORD for grace. He implored God, “Give ear to my supplications [plea for mercy]: In thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness [remembering God is altogether righteous, and will only do that which is right and good]” (143:1).
Notice, David did not pray for justice, but for mercy. Why? Because no man or woman can be justified in the sight of a holy, just God. David intreated the LORD, “enter not into judgment with thy servant: For in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (143:2).
David did not identify the enemy who had caused him such consternation; however, he was certainly at a low place in life. The king enumerated the wickedness of his adversary, declaring he had been “persecuted…smitten…[and made to] dwell in darkness” (143:3). David confessed he was “overwhelmed…[and his] heart…desolate” (143:4).
Where do you turn when you feel overwhelmed, and depressed?
David prayed (143:1-4), and then he remembered “the days of old” (or we might say, “the good old days,” 143:5). He remembered better days, and as he meditated on the providences of God past (His ways and works), the king’s spirit was stirred, and he literally and figuratively, reached out to God and confessed, “My soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah” (143:6). The LORD wants believers to have that same passion and longing, and to realize only He can satisfy the longing of a thirsty soul.
Notice the personal nature of David’s prayer to the LORD: “Hear me speedily (143:7)…Open my hearing to “thy lovingkindness” (143:8)…Reveal to me “the way wherein I should walk” (143:8)…Deliver me (143:9)…Teachme to do thy will” (143:10)…Lead me into the land of uprightness” (143:10)…”Quicken [revive] me” (143:11)…and Save me “out of trouble” (143:11). We do not know what “trouble” David was facing; however, he was in a place that only the LORD could deliver his soul from sorrows (143:11b).
Closing thoughts – Because you live in a sin-cursed world, it is inevitable that you will cross paths with an adversary; one who savors your sorrow, and is a trouble to your soul.
Where do you turn when troubles come? Many allow troubles to mount up until they resort to counselors, psychologists, prescription drugs, vices, and amusements.
What did David do? He turned to the LORD, cried for mercy (143:1-2), assessed his circumstances (143:3-4), and then he remembered. He remembered better days, and the ways and works of God (143:5). He reminded the LORD, “I am thy servant” (143:12), for he remembered the LORD is jealous for His servants’ sake (143:12).
Today’s Scripture reading consists of two brief psalms by David. Psalm 131 was titled, “A Song of Degrees of David,” and was numbered among the psalms sung when the priests ascended the steps of the Temple Mount. Psalm 138 is titled, “A Psalm of David,” and its occasion is not given, although there is some speculation it may have been penned when he was a young man.
Leadership invariably invites accusations, and it seems this brief psalm was David’s answer to those who accused him of being proud, and out of his element as king. David did not answer his critics; however, he turned to the LORD after examining himself, and said: “1Lord, My heart is not haughty [proud], nor mine eyes lofty [haughty]: Neither do I exercise [pry] myself in great matters, or in things too high for me” (131:1).
The king contended, “2Surely I have behaved and quieted myself [contented], As a child that is weaned of his mother: My soul is even as a weaned child [not fretting or protesting]” (131:2). The psalm ends with David expressing his confidence in the LORD, saying, “3Let Israel hope [a waiting expectation] in the Lord from henceforth and for ever” (131:3).
Closing thoughts – How do you answer critics? Follow David’s example, and first examine your heart to see if your critics have a basis for their reproach. Should you find you are innocent, take your sorrows to the LORD, and rest in the shadow of His compassion and promises; but if you are guilty, you must humbly repent before the Lord.
An Offering of Praise, Leaving No Reserves (138:1-3)
David does not say simply, “I will praise thee, but “I will praise thee with my whole heart” (138:1). Every ounce of his being was committed to unashamedly worshipping the LORD. He promised to praise the LORD for His “lovingkindness” (favor, and goodness), and “truth” (faithfulness and honesty, 138:2). The king had experienced the LORD’s faithfulness, and when He cried to the LORD, He not only answered his prayers, but He strengthened his soul (138:3).
David hoped his praise and testimonies of the LORD might influence other “kings of the earth” to have faith in God (138:4). He longed for others to join him in singing of the ways, and providences of the LORD: “For great is the glory of the LORD” (138:5).
Three things regarding the LORD comforted David. The first, “though the LORD be high,” He favors the lowly, and distances Himself from the proud (138:6).
David was also comforted by the presence of the LORD in times of trouble (138:7). He had found God restrains the wicked in their wrath, and He saves His people.
Psalm 138 concluded with a verse that is one of the great promises of God’s providential work and oversight of His people. David wrote, “8The Lord will perfect[complete]that which concerneth me [the LORD knows what is best for His children]: Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: Forsake not the works of thine own hands”(138:8).
Closing thoughts – A thousand years after David penned Psalm 138:8, the apostle Paul wrote: “28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
What a wonderful truth! God is not only orchestrating events in the lives of those who love Him for their good, but He is with them to accomplish His purpose. And what is God’s plan and purpose? It is that His children would “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).
I don’t know if you are in the midst of trials, and troubles; however, I assure you that the LORD’s mercies will never fail, and He will not forsake His children, for we are the “works of [His] hands” (138:8).
Continuing the census and organization of the men of the tribe of Levi that began in 1 Chronicles 23, “David and the captains of the host” arranged the musicians who would minister in the worship of the Temple. David was intimately involved in the music of the Tabernacle, and the organization of the music ministry in the Temple. As both a poet and musician, the king understood the important role music would have in worshipping the LORD.
Three primary Levitical families are identified (25:1): “the sons of Asaph (25:2), and of Heman (25:4-5), and of Jeduthun (25:3).” The sons of those families were described as “separated to the service…who should prophesy [i.e., inspire by song] with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals” (25:1).
David appointed the sons of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun to serve in the ministry of music (25:1). Heman stands out not only as a chief musician, but “God gave to [him] fourteen sons and three daughters” (25:5). Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, evidently were excellent musicians, passing their skills to their children who served under their father’s direction “in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God” (25:6). Altogether, there were 288 musicians who were described as “instructed [taught] in the songs of the Lord, even all that were cunning [skilled]” (25:7).
Of course, as noted earlier, there were 4000 singers and musicians whom David appointed to “offer praises to the LORD (23:5). These were divided by lot into twenty-four companies who ministered in the Temple in the morning and evening (25:8-31)
Closing thoughts – Worshipping the LORD was central to Israel as a nation, and the music ministry had an essential role. The orchestra and choir consisted of Levites whose lives were dedicated to ministering daily in the Temple.
The 21st century church would be wise to return to that standard, and remember the responsibility of those who minister in music was to “prophesy,” literally to inspire by word and song.
Godly character and musicianship were essential for those who ministered in music before the LORD and His people.
The opening verses of 1 Chronicles 23 remind us that “David was old and full of days” (23:1). Accepting his death was imminent, the king left no doubt who should be his successor: “He made Solomon his son king over Israel” (23:1).
I admire David’s heart for the LORD. Resigning his role as king, he turned the affairs of state over to his son, and devoted his last days to organizing the priests and Levites who would serve in the Temple (23:2-32; 24:1-31).
A census of Levi found there were 38,000 heads of house who were thirty years and older (23:3). The organization of the Levites was stated by their tasks: 24,000 men were to assist the priests; 6,000 would serve as “officers and judges” (23:4).
There were 4,000 men who would be porters or keepers of the doors of the Temple (23:5), and another 4,000 that were musicians (23:5). It was their calling to praise the LORD with “the instruments” David had apparently provided (23:5).
Various Levite families are named, including those whose lineage were notable: The sons of Levi, “Gershon, Kohath, and Merari (23:6), and “sons of Amram,” of whom was born “Aaron and Moses” (23:13). Particular mention of Aaron is made, for he and his sons were high priests, and were sanctified (i.e., set apart) “to burn incense before the Lord, to minister unto him, and to bless in his name for ever” (23:13).
David charged the Levites to serve the LORD on behalf of Israel (23:24-31), assist the sons of Aaron with daily sacrifices, and “in the service of the house of the LORD” (23:32).
1 Chronicles 24 recorded the “divisions of the sons of Aaron” (24:1), and their order. We find twenty-four classes of priests identified in this chapter, and David was attentive to the names (24:2-3), and offices of those who would serve in the Temple (24:4-31).
The list of names in today’s Scripture reading might seem unimportant, especially three thousand years after they were recorded; however, their offices and tasks as spiritual leaders is instructive for us. Their ministries in the Temple were prominent enough that even the king dedicated himself to their assignments.
Closing thoughts – David was old, but his fervor for the LORD had not abated.
He had been denied the opportunity to build a great house for the LORD; however, he poured himself into preparing his son for the task. In other words, the frailty of old age had not robbed him of his desire to serve the LORD.
We would be wise to take a page out of David’s biography: Not only count our days, but make our days count!
Wise men “number” [prepare; count] the days of their lives and, like David, “apply [lit. pass on] [their] hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Psalm 108, is “A Song or Psalm of David,” as stated in its title, and is an unusual psalm. While the themes contained in the psalm are like many we have studied (praise and thanksgiving), it is actually a combination of portions from two other psalms. Psalm 108:1-5 is practically a reiteration of Psalm 57:7-11, and Psalm 108:6-13 is nearly identical to Psalm 60:5-12. It would be speculation on my part to ascertain the purpose for the repetition. I am satisfied the verses are repeated because its message was dear to the heart of the king, and fulfilled the LORD’s purpose.
David declared, “O God, my heart is fixed” (108:1). The “heart” of man in Scripture is more than a physical organ; in its broadest sense, the “heart” refers to the mind, thoughts, and the seat of emotions within man.
Upon what was David’s heart fixed? He had determined his heart and affections would not waver from his purpose to “sing and give praise, even with my glory [honor; riches]” (108:1). Not only would he praise the LORD with his voice, but also on musical instruments: “2Awake [stir up], psaltery [lute; i.e., guitar] and harp: I myself will awake early [at dawn]” (108:2). He would unashamedly praise the LORD among his people, and “sing praises unto [God] among the nations” (108:3).
What had stirred David to passionately praise the LORD? It was the knowledge that the LORD’S mercy (lovingkindness and favor) was boundless; His truth, and faithfulness reached “unto [and beyond] the clouds” (108:4). Unable to contain his enthusiasm for the LORD, David exclaimed, “5Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: And thy glory above all the earth” (108:5).
Praying for Israel, David implored the LORD, “6That thy beloved [Israel] may be delivered [rescued]: save [Help] with thy right hand, and answer me” (108:6).
I am unsure what occasioned the king’s prayer, and who was a threat to the people, but David found courage in the LORD, writing: “7God hath spoken in his holiness [sacredness; i.e., sanctuary]; I will rejoice [triumph; be jubilant]” (108:7). Even before his prayer had been answered, he was confident the LORD would give him victory.
He planned as though his prayer had been fulfilled, saying, “I will divide Shechem [border town of Manasseh and Ephraim], and mete out the valley of Succoth [city on the east side of Jordan]. 8Gilead is mine [land east of Jordan, known for pastures]; Manasseh is mine [son of Joseph, and the tribe divided on the east and the west of Jordan]; Ephraim [youngest son of Joseph; land east of Jordan] also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver [royal tribe of David]” (108:7b-8).
David Foresaw the Heathen Would be Subject to His Reign. (108:9-10)
“Moab is my washpot [son of Lot; land was east of Dead Sea]; Over Edom [i.e., Esau’s lineage; land south of Dead Sea] will I cast out my shoe; Over Philistia will I triumph [south of Palestine on Mediterranean Sea]. 10Who will bring me into the strong city [fortified, walled city]? Who will lead me into Edom [land south of Dead Sea]?” (108:9-10)
Moab, Edom, and the Philistines had been enemies of Israel. David, by faith, believed the LORD would bless Israel, and their adversaries would become subservient to his rule. Moab would become so vanquished, they would be like a washpot for washing one’s feet. Edom, would suffer the indignity of shame and defeat. Philistia, against whom David had waged war from his youth, would fall to Israel, and no walled city could stand with the LORD on his side.
David Appealed to the LORD to Be with Him (108:11-13)
“11Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us off [reject; expel]? And wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts [army on military campaign]?” (108:11) David was confident the LORD was his only source for help, and confessed he dare not place his faith in man:
“12Give us help from trouble [enemy; attack]: For vain [worthless; futile] is the help of man.” David asserted his confidence in the LORD, saying, “13Through [with] God we shall do valiantly [power; strength; courage]: For he it is that shall tread down [trample] our enemies” (108:13).
Closing thoughts –You may not be facing a mortal enemy who desires to destroy you, but all believers face trials that challenge them to determine where they will turn, and whom they will trust. Some turn to fear, and flee. Some trust in men, only to find they are unable or unwilling to help.
David, gave us a model of overcoming faith. He fixed his heart on God, determined to sing and praise Him (108:1-4), and believed the LORD would give him victory (108:13).
Our Scripture reading brings us to the final chapter in David’s reign as king (1 Chronicles 22). The next chapter in our study in 1 Chronicles will begin with the statement: “1So when David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son king over Israel” (23:1).
Psalm 30, the second portion of today’s reading, was written at an earlier period in David’s reign, for the title reads, “A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of David.” Time and space prevent a thorough study of each chapter; therefore, my focus will be that of the historian, 1 Chronicles 22.
“David said, This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel” (22:1); with those words, the king began preparations for Solomon to build a Temple unto the LORD. We noted in an earlier writing the future site of the Temple was the “threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite” (whom the writer of 2 Samuel cited as “Araunah the Jebusite”, 24:18). I have already stated the significance of that place in Israel’s history, for this was where Abraham had offered Isaac (Genesis 22), and Jacob had said, “How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:16-17).
David’s Preparations for Constructing the Temple (22:2-5)
David chose “strangers [non-Hebrews] that were in the land of Israel; and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God” (22:2). In addition to the great building stones, David “prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the joinings; and brass in abundance without weight; 4Also cedar trees in abundance: for the Zidonians and they of Tyre brought much cedar wood to David” (22:3-4).
David understood his son was young and inexperienced, and the task to build a Temple worthy of the LORD would be a great undertaking. With the heart of a father, the king dedicated himself to not only preparing workmen and materials for the structure, but also preparing his son for the task.
David’s Charge and Instructions to Solomon (22:6-14)
The king described his longing had been to build a Temple for the LORD (22:6-7), but God had denied him that privilege, for his hands had been stained with the blood of many men whom he had slain in battle (22:8).
Suggesting Solomon might have wondered why this great job had fallen to him, David encouraged his son how the LORD had chosen him by name, saying, “9Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest…for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. 10He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever” (22:9-10).
David assured Solomon that the LORD was with him, and would prosper him as he built “the house of the LORD” (22:11). The king then prayed, and exhorted his son saying, “12Only the Lord give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the Lord thy God. 13Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the Lord charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed” (22:12-13).
David Challenged Solomon with His Own Sacrifices and Diligence (22:14-16)
The king enumerated his preparations for the Temple, including the precious metals he had set aside (gold and silver), the brass and iron, and the timbers and stones (22:14). He had also chosen the workmen, for they were the craftsmen who would build the Temple (22:15). No expense would be spared in building the house of the LORD (22:16).
David Commanded the Leaders of Israel to Assist Solomon (22:17-19).
Acknowledging the youth and inexperience of Solomon, David bid all the leaders of Israel to assist Solomon, reminding them that the LORD had brought peace to the land for such a time (22:17-18). The king challenged them, saying, “19Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the Lord God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the Lord” (22:19).
Closing thoughts – Among the lessons we can take from today’s study is one David acknowledged, but many seniors ignore…the temporal nature of this earthly life.
David was old, his days were numbered, and he felt an urgency to prepare his son not only to be king, but he charged Solomon with the privilege for which God had chosen him… “build an house for the LORD God of Israel” (22:6-11).
The task was great, but David assured Solomon and the leaders of Israel that they had been chosen for such a time. The sum of David’s challenge was this: Set your hearts and affections to seek, and obey the LORD, and He would prosper you. Therefore, “build ye the sanctuary of the Lord God” (22:19).
Is the same true of you? The LORD blesses and prospers those who dedicate their hearts to seek, and serve Him.
Today’s Scripture readings are parallel accounts of the same tragic event. David commanded a census be taken, numbering the warriors in Israel. Because 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 are essentially mirror images of the same events, I will take today’s devotional from each.
David was an old man, and the shepherd boy of Bethlehem was a long past memory. Now in the latter years of his life and reign, the king made a proud, foolish decision and commanded, “Go, number Israel and Judah,” and in doing so provoked the “anger of the LORD…against Israel” (24:1). From where, or whom, did this provocation arise? The writer of 2 Samuel states, “he moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah” (24:1).
Who was “he?” The historian of 1 Chronicles revealed the inspiration for numbering the people was the Satan. We read, “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:1). How did this happen? Why would a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), find it his heart to do that which was contrary to the will of God? Various explanations might be put forward, but I suggest the central one is PRIDE. Satan targeted a “dead ringer,” a common area of weakness for most men, and provoked the natural inclination of the proud king’s heart.
Satan had provoked the natural inclination of a proud king’s heart.
“Joab, the captain of the host (i.e. army),” questioned the king’s motive for the census (24:3; 1 Chronicles 21:3), appealing to him with gracious words, saying, “Why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?” (24:3) Joab knew the king’s command was a provocation of God’s judgment, and suggested, “The Lord make his people an hundred times so many more as they be…why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?” (1 Chronicles 21:3; 2 Samuel 24:3).
The census lasted nine months and twenty days, and when the number was given, David’s heart was convicted, and he prayed, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly” (24:10).
Though the king confessed numbering the people was a great sin, nevertheless, God’s nature would not dismiss the consequences of his sin. We read, “the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer” (24:11). David was mercifully given the opportunity to choose which of three judgments would befall him and Israel (21:10-12): Seven years of famine, three months of being overrun and pursued by adversaries, or three days of pestilence (24:12-13). David chose three days of pestilence, reasoning he would rather trust in God’s mercies, than fall into the hand of an enemy (24:14).
2 Samuel 24:15 – “So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.”
The angel’s path of death and destruction spanned Israel, slaying 70,000 men, but as he neared Jerusalem, “the Lord beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite” (1 Chronicles 21:15).
God did not repent of wrong doing, but in His mercy He changed His mind, and halted His judgment for David’s sin. David and the elders of Israel had called upon the LORD, and as the shepherd king of Israel, he prayed, “Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O Lord my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued” (1 Chronicles 21:17).
The prophet Gad returned with a message from the LORD, and instructed David to buy the “threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite (the Jebusites being the original inhabitants of Jerusalem)” and build an altar there (24:18).[Note – 1 Chronicles 21:18 names one “Ornan” as the owner of the threshingfloor; they are the same man.]
David purchased the threshing floor, and there he sacrificed to the LORD the oxen he had bought. According to 1 Chronicles 21:26, the LORD sent fire from heaven and consumed the oxen as a sign of that David’s offering had satisfied God’s wrath (1 Chronicles 21:26).
Closing thoughts – What became of the land David purchased? Let us take a moment for a brief lesson from history:
The threshingfloor of Araunah had been the place God had tried Abraham, and he had offered his son Isaac (Genesis 22). This was also the place the LORD promised Jacob, “I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (Genesis 28:15). When Jacob awakened, “he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. 17And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:16-17). This same place would later be the site Solomon would build the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:1-2; 2 Chronicles 3:1).
Of course, it was not far from a place that would one day be beloved as Calvary, where Jesus Christ was crucified, suffered, and died for our sins, and the sins of the world.
The focus on the LORD’s Second Coming, and His reign on the earth continues in Psalm 99 (a topic that is the subject of Psalms 93-100). The psalms were, as the name implied, songs of worship and praise to the LORD. They have been cherished by sincere believers for millennia, and continue to be the focus of worship, prayer, praise, and meditations on the LORD. Some psalms commemorate special events in Israel’s history, and many are deeply personal for their authors. Especially in the life of King David, we have been granted an audience into his genuinely moving times of sorrow and joy, conviction and repentance, distress and thanksgiving. Those themes continue to resonate in the hearts of believers 3,000 years later.
The psalm commences with an incontrovertible truth: “The LORD reigneth” (99:1a). That statement is the foundation of all that follows in the psalm. The LORD is King of heaven and earth, and Sovereign of creation. The people of the earth should tremble with fear and reverence (99:1b). The LORD sitting “between the cherubims,” reminds us of the Ark of God, and its Mercy Seat upon which two cherubim were fashioned, representing God’s heavenly throne in the Tabernacle (99:1c; Exodus 25:18-22).
Consider the majesty of God: “The LORD is great in Zion” (the mount upon which Jerusalem is built, and where He will reign during His millennial kingdom, 99:2a). He is above all nations and people (99:2b). His name is “great and terrible; for it is holy” (99:3). The name of the LORD is holy, and it is not to be taken in vain (Exodus 20:7). The LORD is mighty, and “loveth judgment” (99:4a). He is just, fair, honest, and righteous (99:4b). He is holy, and there is none like Him. Let all who believe, exalt the LORD, and fall at his feet (99:5).
The LORD is to Be Adored for What He has Done (99:6-9)
While the focus of the first five verses has been upon the LORD’S person, Psalm 99:6-9 turned the focus of worshippers to what the LORD has done.
Three examples of men who worshipped, obeyed, and served the LORD are given. Moses and Aaron are identified as priests, and named with them was the prophet Samuel, all whom called upon the LORD, “and He answered them” (99:6).
The LORD “spake unto them (Moses and Aaron) in the cloudy pillar: They kept his testimonies [laws and commandments], and the ordinance [statutes] that he gave them” (99:7). The “cloudy pillar” (Exodus 33:9-10; Nehemiah 9:12) was a visible reminder of the LORD’S presence with Israel when the people wandered in the wilderness forty years. We are reminded that God is both merciful and just, for Moses and Aaron faced the consequences of their sins, and were not permitted to enter the Promise Land (99:8).
Psalm 99 concludes with an exhortation to all who love the LORD: “9Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill [Zion; the setting of the Temple and sacrifices]; For the Lord our God is holy” (99:9).
Closing thoughts – Private and congregational worship is to be a central focus of all believers. The LORD is holy, and yet He loves us in spite of our sins and failures.
Aaron murmured against Moses, and fashioned a golden calf when the people rebelled (Exodus 32:4, 8, 19), and yet, he “called upon the LORD, and He answered” him (99:6). Moses disobeyed the LORD, and struck the rock in anger when the people were thirsty (Numbers 20:2-12), and though his sin prevented him from entering Canaan, the LORD forgave him (99:6, 8).
Isn’t it comforting to know, in spite of your failures, the LORD hears and answers prayers? Why? He is our God!
Today’s Scripture reading consists of two psalms, but only one of the two is found in the Book of Psalms. 2 Samuel 22 continues our study of the life of David, but the chapter itself is in fact a psalm of thanksgiving and praise. Not desiring to exhaust you with both a long devotional, and a lengthy Scripture reading, I will abbreviate my observations. [* Words in brackets are the amplification of the author.]
David identified the LORD as his Rock, Fortress, Deliverer (22:2), Shield, “Horn (or strength) of my salvation,”High Tower, Refuge, Savior (22:3), and the One to be Praised (22:4). Wow! What a glorious God we serve!
David testified, when he was assailed by enemies, God was his Deliverer. When he called upon the LORD in his troubles, He heard his “voice out of his temple, and [his] cry did enter into his ears” (22:7).
Ponder that thought! When a believer cries to the LORD in distress, the God of heaven is moved! (22:8) He moves to right the wrongs committed by the wicked, and the earth trembles, and heaven is moved by His wrath (22:8).
2 Samuel 22:9-20 draws for us a moving portrait of the LORD and His response to David’s cry. Writing figuratively, God comes breathing out fire and smoke (22:9), and flying “upon the wings of the wind” (22:9-11). His voice sounds like thunder (22:14), and He sends lightning like arrows that frighten men (22:15).
The LORD is the Rescuer (22:17-20), and Rewarder of all who follow after righteousness and keep His laws (22:21-25). He is a JUST God, and rewards men according to their ways and works (22:26-28).
Reflecting over his years in exile, David remembered the LORD’s presence and faithfulness (22:29-43). In the midst of his hardships, the king had found the LORD to be his Light in darkness (22:29), and his Strength when he faced adversaries stronger than himself (22:38-43).
Consider David’s assertions regarding the character of God (22:31-33). David writes,
2 Samuel 22:31-33– “As for God, his way[path]is perfect[upright; complete]; the word [commandment] of the LORD is tried [pure; refined]: he is a buckler [shield] to all them that trust [confide; seek refuge] in him. 32 For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God? 33 God is my strength[fortress; rock] and power: and he maketh my way perfect [upright; complete].”
Closing thoughts – What a comfort! God’s way is always perfect, and always best (22:31). His Word is pure, and you can trust Him! And, when you feel weak, remember, “God is [your] strength and power” (22:33).
Psalm 42:1-3 – “As the hart [stag or male deer] panteth [cry; long for] after the water [spring; i.e. fresh water] brooks, so panteth[long for]my soul[life; inner man; heart]after thee, O God [i.e. Elohim; Creator God; Sovereign God]. 2 My soul thirsteth [i.e. an intense longing] for God, for the living God[El; Almighty God]: when shall I come and appear [look; behold] before [face; countenance] God? 3 My tears [weeping; i.e. mourning] have been my meat [bread; food] day and night, while they [David’s enemies]continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
Psalm 42:4 – 4 When I remember [recollect; bring to memory] these things, I pour out [spill forth; gush out] my soul in me: for I had gone [pass on; go before] with the multitude, I went [i.e., lead in a procession] with them to the house [household; tabernacle] of God, with the voice of joy [singing; gladness] and praise [hymns of thanksgiving], with a multitude that kept holyday [feast day; celebrate a solemn feast].
Psalm 42:5-7 – 5 Why art thou cast down[depressed], O my soul? and why art thou disquieted [troubled; disturbed]in me? hope [wait; tarry; trust; i.e. be patient] thou in God: for I shall yet praise [give thanks] him for the help [salvation; deliverance] of his countenance [face; presence].” 6 O my God, my soul is cast down[depressed; stooped] within me: therefore will I remember [i.e. call to mind; be mindful] thee from the land [country] of Jordan [i.e. the Jordan River], and of the Hermonites, from the hill [mountain range or mount] Mizar [a mountain peak in Lebanon]. 7 Deep [i.e. deep water] calleth [calls out] unto deep [i.e. deep water] at the noise [voice; sound; thunder] of thy waterspouts [waterfalls]: all thy waves [breaking waves] and thy billows [rolling waves] are gone over me.
Psalm 42:8-10 – 8 Yet the LORD will command[charge; appoint]his lovingkindness[unfailing love and mercy] in the daytime, and in the night his song [music; singers] shall be with me, and my prayer [intercession; supplication]unto the God of my life. 9 I will say [promise] unto God my rock [fortress; stronghold], Why hast thou forgotten [or ignore] me? why go [walk; depart; come] I mourning [become dark] because of the oppression [distress; affliction] of the enemy [adversary; foes]? 10As with a sword [crushing; shattering] in my bones [body], mine enemies reproach [defy; distress; say sharp things]me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?
With a Renewed Spirit, David Asserted His Faith (42:11)
Psalm 42:11 – 11 Why art thou cast down [depressed; stoop], O my soul? and why art thou disquieted [troubled; i.e. be in an uproar] within me? hope[wait; tarry; be patient]thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health[salvation; deliverance]of my countenance [face; presence], and my God.