A devotional on Psalm 144
1 Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;
2 he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.
This section of this marvelous psalm reminds me of Psalm 18. I will outline many parallels in the two passages. The latter is a most comprehensive song of the desperate plight of a man in the hands of his merciless enemies and the Lord wrighting an incredible deliverance for him. It starts much like Ps. 144, “I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold,” vs. 1 and 2.
“For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” Ps 18:31-34.
3 O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?
4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
A male house fly lives for 15 days and female for 25; a hummingbird about 4 years; a dog about 10 years; a horse about 25; an elephant about 65 years; and a human, about 80 years. To the Lord, that is about as long as from the moment you took your last breath till now. From the last one till now. And it’s over.
Despite the relative brevity of man’s life, God has extremely high regard for him. Of course, we are talking about all aspects of the human body, soul, and spirit. We know that the soul and spirit live on after the body passes away. Historically, man has despised the body in various ways and held it in very low esteem. The creator God values even the body so much that after our death, he will renew it and give us a new one. God loves bodies. It is no wonder then that the world bombards us with messages that criticize it mercilessly and attempting to modify it. Scripture teaches that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” Ps. 139. He likes variety in the body. Our body is the playground or the canvas on which our faith plays out.
God not only inhabits our bodies, but our bodies embody him. He personalizes this so much with your body, and with the bodies of others as well. When you feed or cloth or visit someone in need, that you do unto him! This embodiment means that whatever you are using your body for today, Christ is doing that today. Listen in on Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:12-19:
“Some of you say, “I have the right to do anything.” But not everything is helpful. Again some of you say, “I have the right to do anything.” But I will not be controlled by anything. Some of you say, “Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food. And God will destroy both of them.” [in other words, eat all you want.] But the body is not meant for sexual sins. The body is meant for the Lord. And the Lord is meant for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead. He will also raise us up. Don’t you know that your bodies belong to the body of Christ? Should I take what belongs to Christ and join it to a prostitute? Never! When you join yourself to a prostitute, you become one with her in body. Don’t you know this? Scripture says, “The two will become one.” (Genesis 2:24) But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one with him in spirit.
Keep far away from sexual sins. All the other sins a person commits are outside the body. But sexual sins are sins against their own body. Don’t you know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit? The Spirit is in you, and you have received the Spirit from God. You do not belong to yourselves. Christ has paid the price for you. So use your bodies in a way that honors God.”
5 Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
“He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water. Out of the brightness before him hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds,” Ps. 18:9-11.
6 Flash forth the lightning and scatter them; send out your arrows and rout them!
Psalm 18:13, 14 continues, “The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire. He shot his arrows and scattered our enemies. He sent great flashes of lightning and chased the enemies away.”
7 Stretch out your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me from the many waters, from the hand of foreigners,
“He reached down from heaven. He took hold of me. He lifted me out of deep waters. He saved me from my powerful enemies. He set me free from those who were too strong for me,” Ps. 18:16, 17.
8 whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
9 I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
10 who gives victory to kings, who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword.
11 Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, those mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
“You saved me when my own people attacked me. You made me the ruler over nations. People I didn’t know serve me now. People from other lands bow down to me in fear. As soon as they hear me, they obey me,” Ps. 18:43, 44. Note the use of the term foreigner in Psalm 144:11. While Israel was the nation God chose to love, he has always included foreigners in his love plan. Any that love him he is quick to embrace into his fold. To be a true foreigner is to be one whose heart is turned away from God and holds little esteem for him. It does not acknowledge, recognize, or honor him. It ignores and rejects him. It is estranged from him. Isn’t it appalling to think we could warm the seats at church every Sunday morning and yet be in this state of heart?
12 May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace;
13 may our granaries be full, providing all kinds of produce; may our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields;
14 may our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
My homeland of Kenya is coming up on an election year. Tensions are mounting between various political parties and pundits anticipate it may be a heated election. I am currently praying this section of scripture over my beautiful, beloved land, which has occasionally been embroiled in chaos as tribal clashes boiled over. Cries of distress accompanied blood shed on the streets. We don’t ever want that again. Please pray with me for Kenya.
15 Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!