1769.) Psalm 54

February 11, 2016

Ps54 turtle

Psalm 54 (New International Version)

For the director of music. With stringed instruments.  When the Ziphites had gone to Saul and said, “Is not David hiding among us?”

There were actually two times the Ziphites betrayed David unto King Saul, first in 1 Samuel 23 and the second in 1 Samuel 26. David escaped both times, but the circumstances of this Psalm seem to best fit the circumstances of 1 Samuel 23, when David learned of the Ziphite betrayal but before the deliverance of God was displayed (1 Samuel 23:26-29).

This is one of the few Psalms with a specific musical direction: With stringed instruments.

–David Guzik

1 Save me, O God, by your name;
vindicate me by your might.

David calls on God’s name (his character) and God’s might (his strength). What more would David possibly need than God on his side?!

2 Hear my prayer, O God;
listen to the words of my mouth.

3 Arrogant foes are attacking me;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
people without regard for God.

David’s troubles came from the Ziphites, as noted in the title of this Psalm and in 1 Samuel 23:14-24. The Ziphites were Israelis; they were even of the same tribe as David (Judah). Yet their betrayal of David was so contrary to both David and God’s cause that David could rightly refer to them as oppressors who sought David’s life.

–David Guzik

4 Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.

5 Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
in your faithfulness destroy them.

It doesn’t seem right, does it, to ask for the doom of enemies? It’s true that Jesus told us to pray in a more generous way for our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44). Yet there is nothing wrong with the basic principle of wanting to see good triumph and for God to do His work against those who do evil. 

David lived out another aspect of this prayer. He prayed, Cut them off in Your truth but refused to take vengeance in his own hands. Immediately after the second betrayal of the Ziphites (1 Samuel 26:1) David had the opportunity to kill King Saul in his sleep and he refused to do it. David would not cut him off; he waited upon God to do it.

–David Guzik

6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
I will praise your name, LORD, for it is good.

Ps54 blessed-be-your-name

Psalm 138:2 (ESV)

I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.

7 You have delivered me from all my troubles,
and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.



There is a sense in which David in this Psalm prefigured Jesus, who was the anointed King yet to come into the fullness of His kingdom. He came to rescue and lead God’s people, and when He did, some among God’s people betrayed Him unto death. We can easily see these lines from the Psalm in the mouth of Jesus, praying to His Father:

Save Me, O God, by Your name

Ruthless people are trying to kill Me

Surely God is My help

You have delivered Me from all My troubles

HERE  is a striking musical presentation, “The Lord Upholds My Life,” by David Haas. Note also all the stringed instruments in accompaniment, as per the psalmist David’s instructions!

From giamusic.com — DAVID HAAS resides in Eagan, Minnesota, where he is director of The Emmaus Center for Music, Prayer and Ministry and serves as campus minister at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, Minnesota where he directs the CDH Liturgical Choir and serves as the animator for the Cretin-Derham Hall Taize’ Prayer Community.

Highly regarded as one of the preeminent liturgical music composers in the English-speaking world, he has produced more than 45 collections of original music. His liturgical works are sung and prayed throughout the world and appear in hymnals of many Christian denominations and in many languages.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
verse 4 with turtle.    http://countingmyblessings.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IMG_0914-e1347991900524.jpg
God is my help, and mountains.    http://wonders.wallpaperdave.com/ps54-04.jpg
Blessed be your name.    https://easternseastar21.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/blessed-be-your-name.jpg?w=572&h=432

1768.) 1 Samuel 23

February 10, 2016

This map can help get us situated.  In the previous chapter, David was in Adullam.  Now he comes to rescue the city of Keilah from Philistine looting.  Remember David is in the territory between the coast and the hills that no one really controls.

1 Samuel 23   (NRSV)

David Saves the City of Keilah

Now they told David, “The Philistines are fighting against Keilah (an Israelite town), and are robbing the threshing floors.”

So it seems that as soon as the people got their grain all harvested, the Philistines swooped in and stole it.  Why did the people  go to David?  Why didn’t they go to King Saul?  Evidently Saul was not able to protect them.

2David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?”

The Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.”

3But David’s men said to him, “Look, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?”

The men said, “Hey, David, open your eyes. We aren’t exactly a well-trained and well-equipped regular army. And we already have Saul as an enemy–why go adding the Philistines to the list?”

4Then David inquired of the Lord again. The Lord answered him, “Yes, go down to Keilah; for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” 5So David and his men went to Keilah, fought with the Philistines, brought away their livestock, and dealt them a heavy defeat. Thus David rescued the inhabitants of Keilah. 6When Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he came down with an ephod in his hand.

7Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given him into my hand; for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” 8Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.

Not to war against the Philistines, who had been oppressing fellow Israelites. No, Saul, goes to war against David, to save his own reputation. Such pathetic leadership!

9When David learned that Saul was plotting evil against him, he said to the priest Abiathar, “Bring the ephod here.” 10David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. 11And now, will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, I beseech you, tell your servant.”

The Lord said, “He will come down.”

12Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?”

The Lord said, “They will surrender you.” 13Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, set out and left Keilah; they wandered wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition.

14David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but the Lord did not give him into his hand.

David continually asks the Lord for directions and thereby stays alive.

David Eludes Saul in the Wilderness

the wilderness of Ziph

15David was in the Wilderness of Ziph at Horesh when he learned that Saul had come out to seek his life.

Ziph was a town below the southern tip of the Dead Sea. It was not a comfortable or easy place to be. God guided and protected David, but it wasn’t comfortable or easy. This was an essential time for God’s work in David’s life. He became a man after God’s heart in the shepherd’s field but he became a king in the wilderness.

–David Guzik

16Saul’s son Jonathan set out and came to David at Horesh; there he strengthened his hand through the Lord. 17He said to him, “Do not be afraid; for the hand of my father Saul shall not find you; you shall be king over Israel, and I shall be second to you; my father Saul also knows that this is so.” 18Then the two of them made a covenant before the Lord; David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.

This may have been the final time that David and Jonathan were together.  And how generous and gracious of Jonathan to encourage David in the Lord.

19Then some Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “David is hiding among us in the strongholds of Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon. 20Now, O king, whenever you wish to come down, do so; and our part will be to surrender him into the king’s hand.”

For David:  On the one hand, a faithful Jonathan. On the other hand, a fellow Israelite ready to betray him.

21Saul said, “May you be blessed by the Lord for showing me compassion! 22Go and make sure once more; find out exactly where he is, and who has seen him there; for I am told that he is very cunning. 23Look around and learn all the hiding places where he lurks, and come back to me with sure information. Then I will go with you; and if he is in the land, I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah.”

24So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. 25Saul and his men went to search for him. When David was told, he went down to the rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. When Saul heard that, he pursued David into the wilderness of Maon.

Ps54 flower

David wrote a psalm about this experience; we will read Psalm 54 tomorrow.

26Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul, while Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them. 27Then a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come; for the Philistines have made a raid on the land.” 28So Saul stopped pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape. 29David then went up from there, and lived in the strongholds of En-gedi.



David may have felt himself in danger from Saul, but actually he was quite safe in the Lord’s hands.  And we, in the various vicissitudes of our lives, can also rest in our Lord’s loving care for us.  “My peace I give to you,” Jesus said, “— not as the world gives.”  HERE  are two old hymns, “Near to the Heart of God” and “A Wonderful Savior,” sung by Evie Tornquist Karlsson. She was recognized as the Dove Award recipient of Female Vocalist of the Year for 1977 and 1978. Lyrics follow.

There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God;
It’s a place where sin cannot molest,
It’s near to the heart of God.

O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God;
Hold us, who wait before you,
Hold us near to the heart of God

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.
With His strong hand.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
map showing Keilah.    http://bibleatlas.org/area/keilah.jpg
wilderness of Ziph.    http://bibleencyclopedia.com/placesjpeg/Wilderness_of_Ziph,_tb_n021900.jpg
Surely God is my help.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/7d/71/16/7d71160bad8cabf7d87d8d3795adb843.jpg

1767.) Psalm 52

February 9, 2016

Ps52 D and D

Psalm 52 (NIV)

For the director of music.  When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: “David has gone to the house of Ahimelek.”

The terrible events that prompted this chapter are recorded in 1 Samuel 21 and 22. Doeg informed Saul regarding David’s presence at the tabernacle of God and regarding the help he received from the priest there. In an evil and paranoid response, Saul sent Doeg to kill the priests and others at the tabernacle, and Doeg did — 85 people in total (1 Samuel 22:18-19). This is David’s contemplation upon the incident, a careful examination of the root and end of Doeg’s evil.

–David Guzik

1 Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?

Do not miss the sarcasm here. Doeg killed unarmed men, men who were weak in that they were untrained for war.

Why do you boast all day long,
you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
2 You who practice deceit,
your tongue plots destruction;
it is like a sharpened razor.

3 You love evil rather than good,
falsehood rather than speaking the truth.
4 You love every harmful word,
you deceitful tongue!

5 Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent;
he will uproot you from the land of the living.

For emphasis and for the sake of good poetry, David used four vivid images of judgment against wicked men like Doeg.

  • The wicked will be demolished (destroy you)
  • The wicked will be snatched up like a coal from a fire (take you away)
  • The wicked will have their abode taken away (pluck you out of your dwelling place)
  • The wicked will be uprooted like a tree (uproot you)

–David Guzik

6 The righteous will see and fear;
they will laugh at you, saying,
7 “Here now is the man
who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth
and grew strong by destroying others!”

But the righteous, like David, can anticipate and enjoy God’s peace and joy and love!

8 But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.

9 For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
for your name is good.



HERE  are verses 8 and 9 sung in Hebrew by KeZeit Ra’anan. Enjoy, too, the pictures of the old olive trees on the Israeli hillsides.  I wonder what the singer-songwriter David would think to hear his psalms being sung some 3000 years after he lived!


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Destinies of Doeg and David.   https://i.ytimg.com/vi/okFOUtAXOxo/maxresdefault.jpg 
hurtful words.    http://christrescuemission.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/Prov-026_03.12313638.gif
I am like an olive tree.   http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3459/3363976363_1db3e6c309_m.jpg

1766.) 1 Samuel 22

February 8, 2016

Adullam is the green hill in the center of this picture. You are looking east.  The coastal plain, controlled by the Philistines, is behind you; the hill-county, controlled by Saul, is in front.  David found some kind of safety in between, in no man’s land.

1 Samuel 22   (NRSV)

David and His Followers at Adullam

David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam;

David’s options were limited!  He could not go to his parents’ home, he could not go back to the palace, he could not go to Jonathan or Samuel, he could not go to the house of the Lord, he could not go to the enemies of Israel —

when his brothers and all his father’s house heard of it, they went down there to him. 2Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were with him numbered about four hundred.

This could be a beginning of a rebel army; David could go up against Saul.  But David never did.  He waited for the Lord to bring the crown to him, rather than taking the crown for himself from Saul.

These men came to David in distress, in debt, and discontented, but they didn’t stay that way. David made them into the kind of men described in 1 Chronicles 12:8: Mighty men of valor, men trained for battle, who could handle the shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as gazelles on the mountains.

–David Guzik

3David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. He said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother come to you, until I know what God will do for me.” 4He left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold.

1Sam22 Ruthgleaning

Family connections! David’s great-grandmother, Ruth, had come from Moab. 

5Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; leave, and go into the land of Judah.” So David left, and went into the forest of Hereth.

Saul Slaughters the Priests

6Saul heard that David and those who were with him had been located. Saul was sitting at Gibeah, under the tamarisk tree on the height, with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing around him. 7Saul said to his servants who stood around him, “Hear now, you Benjaminites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? 8Is that why all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me when my son makes a league with the son of Jesse, none of you is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as he is doing today.”

Hear Saul, paranoid and whiny — “It’s all about me!”

9Doeg the Edomite, who was in charge of Saul’s servants, answered, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech son of Ahitub; 10he inquired of the Lord for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

11The king sent for the priest Ahimelech son of Ahitub and for all his father’s house, the priests who were at Nob; and all of them came to the king. 12Saul said, “Listen now, son of Ahitub.”

He answered, “Here I am, my lord.”

13Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, by giving him bread and a sword, and by inquiring of God for him, so that he has risen against me, to lie in wait, as he is doing today?”

14Then Ahimelech answered the king, “Who among all your servants is so faithful as David? He is the king’s son-in-law, and is quick to do your bidding, and is honored in your house. 15Is today the first time that I have inquired of God for him? By no means! Do not let the king impute anything to his servant or to any member of my father’s house; for your servant has known nothing of all this, much or little.”

16The king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house.”

Saul kills Ahimelech the priest for telling the truth.

17The king said to the guard who stood around him, “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David; they knew that he fled, and did not disclose it to me.”

But the servants of the king would not raise their hand to attack the priests of the Lord.

18Then the king said to Doeg, “You, Doeg, turn and attack the priests.”

"Saul Commands Doeg to Slay the Priests," by James Tissot

“Saul Commands Doeg to Slay the Priests,” by James Tissot

Doeg the Edomite turned and attacked the priests; on that day he killed eighty-five who wore the linen ephod. 19Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; men and women, children and infants, oxen, donkeys, and sheep, he put to the sword.

“This is one of the worst acts in the life of Saul; his malice was implacable, and his wrath was cruel, and there is no motive of justice or policy by which such a barbarous act can be justified.”

–Adam Clarke

20But one of the sons of Ahimelech son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. 21Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I am responsible for the lives of all your father’s house.

Now David see the price of his lies to the priest, who was therefore unaware of the enmity between Saul and David, and got caught in the crossfire.

23Stay with me, and do not be afraid; for the one who seeks my life seeks your life; you will be safe with me.”



I am inspired to imitate David in this regard:  no matter how dire his situation, he rejoices in the Lord!  This song uses David’s words from Psalm 36:5-6 — Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths.  HERE  Third Day sings “Your Love, O Lord.”


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Adullam.     http://lh4.ggpht.com/_x4Gor5dqvi8/TEDVjP7jI0I/AAAAAAAABeI/zDZu23hpwbM/Adullam%20area%20aerial%20from%20west,%20tb010703651_thumb%5B2%5D.jpg?imgmax=800
Ruth.    https://wearefearfullymade.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/ruthgleaning-reapers-in-background.jpg
Tissot.    https://mudpreacher.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/james-tissot-saul-commands-doeg-to-slay-the-priests.jpg

1765.) Psalm 34

February 5, 2016

This stained glass window of King David praising the Lord and playing his harp is found in Fringford, United Kingdom.

Psalm 34 (New American Standard Bible)

A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed.

1 Samuel 21:10-15 (NIV)

That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath.  But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances:

” ‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”

David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath.  So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me?  Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?”

So David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam.  When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there.

This joyful and wise Psalm may have been written from Adullam cave, and sung in the presence of those men who joined David there.

 The structure of this Psalm is acrostic, or nearly so. Each verse begins with another letter of the Hebrew alphabet, except for the letter waw. The purpose in this Psalm mainly seems to be as a device used to encourage learning and memorization.

–David Guzik

1I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.

“He may have acted like a fool, but he was not so foolish as to neglect praise of him who was his only true wisdom. He may have been hiding in a dismal cave, but this psalm tells us that in his heart he was hiding in the Lord.”

–James Montgomery Boice

3O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

Mankind has succeeded quite well in reducing God to a pitiful nothing!  The God of the modern context is no God at all.  He is simply a glorified chairman of the board, a kind of big businessman dealing in souls.  The God portrayed in much of our church life today commands very little respect.

We must get back to the Bible and to the ministration of God’s Spirit to regain a high and holy concept of God.

To know the Creator and the God of all the universe is to revere Him.  It is to bow down before Him in wonder and awesome fear.  God calls us to magnify Him, to see Him big.

–A. W. Tozer

4I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.

5They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.

A missionary  was leaving Hungary after a number of years working there while the country was still within the Soviet orbit. As he was crossing the border checkpoint, a border guard said to him, “You are leaving? I’m always sad when the believers go.”

“How did you know I was a believer?” the missionary inquired.

“Oh, I know all the believers,” the guard replied.  “I know them by the light in their eyes.”

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame (Psalm 34: 5).

6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.

7The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

8O taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

1 Peter 2:1-3 (ESV)

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.  Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

9O fear the LORD, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.

10The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.

The triumph and joy of this Psalm is so clear, it is easy to forget the life context of the Psalm. “It is for people who find themselves at the absolute low point in life, which is where David was. Or find themselves between a rock, which in this case was King Saul, and a hard place, which was King Achish. It is for you when everything seems against you.”

–James Montgomery Boice

11Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

12Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?

13Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.

14Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

2 Corinthians 13:11 (NASB)

Rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

15The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.

16The face of the LORD is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.

17The righteous cry, and the LORD hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw:

The words of Psalm 34 do not mean that whoever comes to Christ and lives for Him will have no fear, no trouble, and no need. Instead, the psalmist says that the person who trusts in God will find that fear is never the last word. Trouble is never the final answer. Need is never the ultimate reality. When the story is over, the fear will be conquered; God will have delivered. The trouble will be mastered, and God will have freed the believer. The needs in life will have been met, and God will have provided for every need.

There would have been no impetus to write this song if the psalmist had never had any fear, any trouble, or any need. It is when you have been scared to death, and God has brought you out of the trouble, that you can sing God’s praise. When you are in a tight place and call out to Yahweh, who is your only hope, you are in a situation ripe for a miracle. When you have no way to pay your bills and God provides, then you walk away while singing His praises.

The trouble itself turns our minds to Christ and gives Him the opportunity to show himself good and powerful in our lives.

18The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.

20He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.

“Crucifixion” by Pablo Picasso, 1930.

John 19:31-37 (NIV)

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water . . .  These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”


21Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

22The LORD redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.



This is such fun to watch! On Resurrection Sunday, 2010, in Budapest, Hungary, over 1,300 young people, all of them members of Faith Church, celebrated/magnified – praised – blessed the Lord/ exalted his name!   (I wonder what our Soviet-era missionary would think if he could see this!)

Faith Church is Hungary’s largest evangelical church.  Over the past 30 years, it has planted more than 200 other churches, opened a theological academy, established a network of elementary and high schools, published newspapers and books which give reliable information, and led charity outreaches in Hungary and around the world.  Some 60,000 people regularly attend Sunday morning worship, with hundreds of thousands more watching the two-hour broadcast on television.  It is clear that the Lord is at work  HERE  at Faith Church!


New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Images courtesy of:
King David playing the harp.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/34-kingdavid.jpg
magnifying glass and verse 3.    http://www.virtuousplanet.com/shops/userimages/00001/00000000012/section/00000000000000005704.png
map of Hungary.    http://www.topnews.in/files/hungary1.jpg
baby drinking milk from a bottle.    http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2008/07/11/milk460x276.jpg
He cares for you.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/11-he-cares-for-you.jpg
Picasso.    http://www.abcgallery.com/P/picasso/picasso96.html

1764.) Psalm 56

February 4, 2016

Ps56 v3 flowers

Psalm 56 (Contemporary English Version)

(For the music leader.  To the tune “A Silent Dove in the Distance.”  A special psalm by David when the Philistines captured him in Gath.)

The story of David being captured by the Philistines is recorded in 1 Samuel 21:10-15.

A Prayer of Trust in God

1Have pity, God Most High!

I love that many psalms begin with an imperative, commanding God to do something:  Have mercy on me!

My enemies chase me all day.

2Many of them are pursuing

and attacking me,

3but even when I am afraid,

I keep on trusting you.

Ps56 bird

“He feared, but that fear did not fill the whole area of his mind, for he adds, ‘I will trust in thee.‘ It is possible, then, for fear and faith to occupy the mind at the same moment.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

4I praise your promises!

I trust you and am not afraid.

No one can harm me.

5Enemies spend the whole day

finding fault with me;

all they think about

is how to do me harm.

6They attack from ambush,

watching my every step

and hoping to kill me.

7They won’t get away with these crimes, God,

because when you get angry,

you destroy people.

8You have kept record

of my days of wandering.

You have stored my tears

in your bottle

and counted each of them.

Lake Pepin, a narrow 12-mile-long section of the Mississippi River, is bounded by forests and craggy bluffs. When Father Louis Hennepin discovered the lake in 1680, he called it “Lac de Pleurs” (Lake of Tears) after observing some Sioux weeping near the lake over the death of a chief’s son.

I have a friend who is sure she will live next to a lake in heaven, a lake made of the tears she has cried here on earth and the Lord has collected for her!

9When I pray, LORD God,

my enemies will retreat,

because I know for certain

that you are with me.

Romans 8:31 (NIV)

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

10I praise your promises!

11I trust you and am not afraid.

No one can harm me.

12I will keep my promises

to you, my God,

and bring you gifts.

13You protected me from death

and kept me from stumbling,

so that I would please you

and follow the light

that leads to life.

John 8:12 (ESV)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”



The NIV has the last clause as “that I may walk before God in the light of life.” One definition of marching is “to walk steadily forward in step with others.” Put them together and that seems to be not a bad way to envision the Church!

“Siyahamba” is a South African hymn.  The title means we are walking or we are marching in the Zulu language. Sung  HERE  by the Rondo Histriea from Pula, Croatia.


Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
verse 3 with flowers.    http://ourdailyblossom.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/110405.jpg
bird and “When I am afraid . . . ”   http://www.billpech.com/917psalm563_800300.jpg
tears in a bottle.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/tears.jpg
Lake Pepin.    http://media.rd.com/rd/images/rdc/books/most-scenic-drives-in-america/central-states-great-river-road-04-ss.jpg
saguaro cactus.    http://wonders.wallpaperdave.com/ps56-13.jpg

1763.) 1 Samuel 21

February 3, 2016

“Ahimelech giving the Sword of Goliath to David” by the Dutch painter Aert de Gelder, 1680.

1 Samuel 21   (NRSV)

David and the Holy Bread

David came to Nob to the priest Ahimelech. Ahimelech came trembling to meet David, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?” 2David said to the priest Ahimelech, “The king has charged me with a matter, and said to me, ‘No one must know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’ I have made an appointment with the young men for such and such a place.

The king has ordered me on some business: This was a plain lie. David came to the house of the LORD but he lied to protect himself. David elaborated on his lie when he put false words in the mouth of Saul to establish an environment of secrecy (Do not let anyone know anything about the business on which I send you), and when he referred to “my young men” (David was all alone).

In many ways, we can understand why David lied and even sympathize with him. Many of us would have done the same or worse in the same situation. At the same time, David would come to horribly regret this lie (as he says in 1 Samuel 22:22).

–David Guzik

3Now then, what have you at hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.”

4The priest answered David, “I have no ordinary bread at hand, only holy bread—provided that the young men have kept themselves from women.”

5David answered the priest, “Indeed women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition; the vessels of the young men are holy even when it is a common journey; how much more today will their vessels be holy?” 6So the priest gave him the holy bread; for there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the Lord, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away.

The table of showbread held twelve loaves of bread.

Mark 2:23-28 (New Living Translation)

One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat.  But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?”

Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry?He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest) and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. He also gave some to his companions.”

Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”



To think about the Holy Bread is to think about Jesus Christ, our True Bread from Heaven.  HERE  is one of the most beautiful hymns I know, in both music and text.  “Soul, Adorn Thyself with Gladness”  from the Bach Cantata 180, “Schmucke Dich.”  The words were written by Johann Franck (1618-1677).

1. Soul, adorn thyself with gladness,
Leave behind all gloom and sadness;
Come into the daylight’s splendor,
There with joy thy praises render
Unto Him whose grace unbounded
Hath this woundrous supper founded.
High o’er all the heavens He reigneth,
Yet to dwell with thee He deigneth.

2. Hasten as a bride to meet Him
And with loving reverence greet Him;
For with words of life immortal
Now He knocketh at thy portal.
Haste to ope the gates before Him,
Saying, while thou dost adore Him,
Suffer, Lord, that I receive Thee,
And I nevermore will leave Thee.

3. He who craves a precious treasure
Neither cost nor pain will measure;
But the priceless gifts of heaven
God to us hath freely given.
Though the wealth of earth were proffered,
Naught would buy the fits here offered:
Christ’s true body, for thee riven,
And His blood, for thee once given.

4. Ah, how hungers all my spirit
For the love I do not merit!
Oft have I, with sighs fast thronging,
Thought upon this food with longing,
In the battle well-nigh worsted,
For this cup of life have thirsted,
For the Friend who here invites us
And to God Himself unites us.

5. Human reason, though it ponder,
Cannot fathom this great wonder
That Christ’s body e’er remaineth
Though it countless souls sustaineth,
And that He His blood is giving
With the wine we are receiving.
These great mysteries unsounded
Are by God alone expounded.

6. Jesus, Sun of Life, my Splendor,
Jesus, Thou my Friend most tender,
Jesus, Joy of my desiring,
Fount of life, my soul inspiring,
— At Thy feet I cry, my Maker,
Let me be a fit partaker
Of this blessed food from heaven,
For our good, Thy glory, given.

7. Lord, by love and mercy driven
Thou hast left Thy throne in heaven
On the cross for us to languish
And to die in bitter anguish,
To forego all joy and gladness
And to shed Thy blood in sadness.
By this blood, redeemed and living,
Lord, I praise Thee with thanksgiving.

8. Jesus, Bread of Life, I pray Thee,
Let me gladly here obey Thee.
By Thy love I am invited,
Be Thy love with love requited;
From this Supper let me measure,
Lord, how vast and deep love’s treasure.
Though the gifts Thou here dost give me
As Thy guest in heaven receive me.


7Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the Lord; his name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul’s shepherds.

We will meet Doeg the Edomite again soon, and it will not be a pretty sight.

8David said to Ahimelech, “Is there no spear or sword here with you? I did not bring my sword or my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.”

A mighty fortress is our God,
A sword and shield victorious;
He breaks the cruel oppressor’s rod
And wins salvation glorious.

9The priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah, is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod; if you will take that, take it, for there is none here except that one.”

David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.”

Say “sword” to me and my first thought is of King Arthur and his Excaliber.  Alfred, Lord Tennyson described that legendary sword in Idylls of the King:

There drew he forth the brand Excalibur,
And o’er him, drawing it, the winter moon,
Brightening the skirts of a long cloud, ran forth
And sparkled keen with frost against the hilt:
For all the haft twinkled with diamond sparks,
Myriads of topaz-lights, and jacinth-work
Of subtlest jewellery.

David Flees to Gath

10David rose and fled that day from Saul; he went to King Achish of Gath.

Gath was one of the five cities of the Philistines.  Perhaps David thought that they would welcome him as a friend since they shared a mutual enemy in Saul.  But had they forgotten that David had killed their champion, Goliath? . .

11The servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances,

‘Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”

12David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of King Achish of Gath.

David’s words in Psalm 56 help us understand what happened here. The title of that psalm identifies it as the song he wrote when the Philistines captured him in Gath. Apparently, although 1 Samuel 21 doesn’t detail it, the Philistines captured David when he came to Gath. David thought he could find anonymity or sympathy among the ungodly Philistines in Gath, but he was wrong. Psalm 56 describes David’s journey from fear to praising as a prisoner in Gath. We will look at that psalm tomorrow.

13So he changed his behavior before them; he pretended to be mad when in their presence. He scratched marks on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle run down his beard.

14Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see the man is mad; why then have you brought him to me? 15Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

Psalm 34 is David’s declaration of joy when he escaped from Gath with his life. The title of Psalm 34 reads, A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed.

Psalm 34 begins beautifully: I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.


 The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Gelder.    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ahimelech_Giving_the_Sword_of_Goliath_to_David.jpg
table of showbread.    http://www.bibleplaces.com/images/Tabernacle_table_of_showbread_tb_n030301.jpg
the Lady of the Lake holding Excaliber.    http://www.thelensflare.com/large/sword_15436.jpg
David and Goliath.    http://www.bushywood.com/council_images/david_and_goliath.jpg


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