Verse of the Day 11-24-21

To you, LORD, I call;
you are my Rock,
do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Hear my cry for mercy
as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
toward your Most Holy Place.
Do not drag me away with the wicked,
with those who do evil,
who speak cordially with their neighbors
but harbor malice in their hearts.
Repay them for their deeds
and for their evil work;
repay them for what their hands have done
and bring back on them what they deserve.
Because they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD
and what his hands have done,
he will tear them down
and never build them up again.
Praise be to the LORD,
for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
The LORD is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
be their shepherd and carry them forever. Psalm 28:1-9

In today’s Psalm David is describing God as being his strength. In verse 1 David writes this, “To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit.” The words “deaf” and “silent” here are often connected with being “far from”. These concepts describe God’s lack of intervention in a time of need. The word “pit” is sometimes parallel with Sheol, the realm of the dead, so “those who go down to the pit” refers to those who are going to die.

Verse 2 says, “Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.” The lifting up of hands was and is a common gesture for prayer, perhaps related to the image of showing that one’s hands were clean and therefore one’s motives were pure before the Lord. The word “sanctuary” is a specific (Hebrew “devir”) referring to the innermost part of the sanctuary- the most holy place. This was the place where the Ark of the Convenant resided, but more importantly is was the location of the mercy seat-the place from which the Lord dispensed mercy on his people.

Verses 3-5 say, “Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back on them what they deserve. Because they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again.” David’s plea that he not be punished (dragged away) with the wicked is because he was not connected with them, either in association or in activities. The phrase “repay them” appears twice as a call for retribution on one’s enemies; it is also know as a imprecation. The reason for this request for judgement on these evildoers is that they did not consider or regard what the Lord had done. Some think that this refers to God’s judgement on the wicked; however, the phrase “what his hands have done” is more commonly used for God’s work of creation or his work in delivering his people. The second of these opinions seems more likely in this context where there is praise for the Lord’s help.

Verses 6-7 say, “Praise be to the LORD,
for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” Verse 6 is a shift from petition to thanksgiving which is common in lament psalms. And in verse 7 David says that the Lord provides him with strength and protection. David said that God is his “strength” and his “shield”. The Hebrew word for “strength” could actually be translated as stronghold or fortification. And the Hebrew word for shield here literal means: a small shield used for defense, and by extension: a ruler or a leader who protects.

Verse 8-9 say, “The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.” The relationship between the individual and the community is evident in identifying the Lord as David’s strength in verse 7 and “the strength of his people” in verse 8. Though “his anointed” can refer to the Davidic king of Israel, in this case it is parallel to “his people” and represents the nation as a whole. Israel was also know as the Lord’s “possession”.

What then is David’s whole point in writing this Psalm. David is wondering if God is listening to his prayers. And we like David must keep reaching for that deeper relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Because through him we have access to God the Father. The Lord has promised to respond with comfort, help and guidance, just as a shepherd cares for his sheep.

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