Daily Family Worship

Psalm 144: A Happy People!

by | Jul 9, 2024

psalm 144

After David had ascended the throne, and been anointed king over Israel in Hebron, he was still involved in war with the neighboring nations – especially with the Philistines (2 Sam. 5). And it is probable that this Psalm was composed when David heard of their invasion of the land, and inquired of the Lord whether he should go up against them, and whether He would deliver them into his hand. It begins with a very grateful remembrance and acknowledgment of the Lord’s past goodness to him. It is to be feared that many earthly conquerors, in the exultation and pride of conquest, have forgotten Him by Whom both kings reign and warriors triumph. Hence it is a breath of fresh air for us to turn from the vainglorious records and annals of man’s ambition and achievements – such as, “Veni, vidi, vici” – to this lowly record of the shepherd-boy of Bethlehem, who knows that the Lord gives grace to the humble.

David, however, is not only referring to his own lowly origin as the son of Jesse, and to his humble occupation as a shepherd; instead, he takes in the whole human race – every son and daughter of Adam, including the monarch on his throne, as well as the captive in the dungeon – and contrasts the vanity of them all with the greatness of Jehovah. Surely we may take – with slight changes – the words of God to His ancient people of Israel (Ezek. 16), and apply them to ourselves: “Thy birth and thy nativity was in corruption and in sin; thy father was Adam, and thy mother was Eve. As for thy nativity, behold, thou wast shapen in iniquity, and in sin did thy mother conceive thee.” Man – as mere man, even at his best – is only vanity. He is a mere shadow that darkens, for a moment, the space upon which it rests; and then it passes away, leaving no trace behind. And yet can we say of Christ’s redeemed and restored ones, that they are like vanity or a shadow? Can we ask, with the Psalmist in a preceding Psalm, “Wherefore hast thou made all men for nought?” Certainly not! Rather, we are left exclaiming, “How great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee!” O Lord! What is man, that You have taken such knowledge of his lost and ruined state? Indeed, You valued him so much that You poured out Your undeserved mercy upon him, and came down to earth to redeem him!

Beginning with verse 5, we have a glorious description of Jehovah’s discomfiture of the enemies of His people. In so many cases, the Almighty One has thus signally manifested His power; and He has shown thereby that the glory is not to be given unto His people and their own prowess, but only unto His name – for His mercy and His truth’s sake! There is great similarity in the imagery that is employed here and in the 18th Psalm; the Lord’s arrows are “hailstones and coals of fire,” and He is described as shooting out lightnings to confuse and destroy His enemies. Such was literally the case in that day of the Lord’s battle, when He fought for Israel; and not only did the sun stand still, and the moon stop her course in the heavens for a whole day – but the Lord even cast down great stones from heaven upon the enemies of Israel, so that more died with hailstones than those whom the people of Israel slew with the sword. In our own days, we often behold God’s lightnings in the heavens, and we hear His thunder in the air; but very few of us stop to think of the majesty of Him Whose voice is heard therein, and Whose arrows are visibly scattered abroad! We gaze and are dazzled; we admire and listen; we are awe-struck, and we shrink into darkness. But as children of God, there is no reason for us to be terrified of such majestic displays; for these terrible sights and sounds are not tokens of His wrath against us, and so they are harmless to us.

It is a gladsome and joyous picture which the Psalmist has here sketched in the latter verses of this Psalm! Here he paints a portrait of a happy people whose God is the Lord. They are like the field which the Lord has blessed – enriched with the dew of heaven and the abundance of the earth. “Righteousness exalteth a nation,” says Solomon, and here we catch a glimpse of its glad effects on every side – diffused through every nook and corner of the land, shedding its own bright and lovely radiance over every household, and giving both plenty and peace in every home. Happy indeed is the family that has their habitation adorned with such goodly plants as are here described – sons who are “trees of righteousness, the branch of the Lord’s planting”; and daughters who are represented as beautifully-chiseled cornerstones of the building, upon which its security and strength so greatly depend! “Happy,” indeed, “is that people, whose God is the Lord!”

O Lord, we pray that the happy effects of righteousness may be diffused throughout our own land – shedding its bright and lovely radiance over every household, and giving both plenty and peace in every home! Amen.

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