Sunday, June 11, 2023

Sunday Scripture


I've mentioned that I'm finishing up a One Chapter a Day study of Psalms 101-150 from Good Morning Girls.  Although I love working on more in-depth Bible studies, these simpler ones are also a blessing to do, and I think they are working out quite well for my Sunday Scripture posts.

 As I've noted before, I like to use the SOAP method of Bible study, and the journal from GMG uses a very similar method.  I find this method a real blessing especially when I am studying shorter passages, and I hope others will give it a try if you haven't ever done so. Just a reminder that the S is for Scripture -- just write it out -- and the O is for Observation, the A is for Application and the P is for prayer -- concerning how you'll apply this verse or praise for what it means to you.

This study also includes a reflection question for each passage.  Sometime I answer this in my study, and sometimes not.  Whenever I do answer it, I'll do so right after the SOAP part.

Today's study is from Psalm 144. The featured Scripture was the first part of verse 1, but I chose to look quite closely at both verses 1 and 2.

S= "Blessed be the LORD, my strength, who teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight;
"My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and He in whom I trust."  (Psalm 144:1-2)

For greater clarity, here is the passage in the ESV:

"Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; He is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and He in whom I take refuge."

O= This is a psalm of David.   In my Scofield study Bible, C.I. Scofield titles it, "A psalm of trust."

David begins by blessing the Lord who is his strength, his rock, the One who trains his hands for war and his fingers for battle -- the One who has given him the strength and ability to fight skillfully.  

He then goes on to name many other titles that enumerate what God is to him: his goodness (or steadfast love); his fortress, his high tower, his deliverer, his shield, the One in whom he trusts.  It would be instructive to look at each of these separately.

Cross-references for "rock" -- 

"The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower."  (Psalm 18:2)

"For Thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for Thy name's sake lead me, and guide me."  (Psalm 31:3)

 Spurgeon writes: "The word rock is the Hebrew way of expressing strength: the grand old language is full of such expressive symbols."

"With all his strength, David blesses the God of his strength.  We ought not to receive so great a boon as strength to resist evil, to defend truth, and to conquer error, without knowing who gave it to us, and rendering to Him the glory of it.  Not only does Jehovah give strength to His saints, but He is their strength.  God is full of power, and He becomes the power of those who trust Him.  In Him our great strength lieth, and to Him be blessings more than we are able to utter."  -- Charles Spurgeon

"My strength [Hebrew, 'my rock'].  The climax should be noted, the rock, or cliff, comes first as the place of refuge, then the fortress or fastness, as a place carefully fortified, then the personal deliverer, without whose intervention escape would have been impossible." -- Speaker's Commentary, quoted in The Treasury of David

 Concerning God teaching David's hands to war, and his fingers to fight, someone named only as "J.F." gave some interesting notes in the "hints for preachers" section of The Treasury of David.  He shared an outline for "Things not to be forgotten by the Christian soldier":

1. The true source of his strength: "the Lord, my strength"
2. The constant need of instruction from his everpresent Teacher
3.  The praise due to God, both for victories won, and skill displayed.

I found the middle section, concerning instruction from the soldier's everpresent Teacher, to be most helpful, as it listed the following:

*he will gird on the armor provided and commended by God;
* he will select for his weapon the sword of the Spirit;
* he will study the divinely given textbook to learn the devices of the enemy; the methods of attack and defense; and how to bear himself in the thick of the fight;
* he will wait upon God for understanding.

Cross-references for "steadfast love" (these are from the ESV; in the KJV it reads "mercy"):

"My God in His steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies."  (Psalm 59:10)

"O my strength, I will sing praises unto You, for You, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love." (Psalm 59:17)

"Having experienced God's kindness in so many ways, [David] calls Him 'his goodness', meaning that whatever good he possessed flowed from Him.  The accumulation of terms, one upon another, which follows ... tends greatly to strengthen faith.  We know how unstable men's minds are, and ... how soon faith wavers, when ... assailed by some  trial of more than usual severity." -- John Calvin

"O how truly has the Lord been mercy to many of us in a thousand ways!  He is goodness itself, and He has been unbounded goodness to us.  We have no goodness of our own, but the Lord has become goodness to us.  So is He Himself also our fortress and our safe abode; in Him we dwell as behind impregnable ramparts and immovable bastions." -- Spurgeon

Of the phrase "my high tower, and my deliverer", Spurgeon writes: "As from a lofty watch-tower the believer, trusting in the Lord, looks down upon his enemies.  They cannot reach him in his elevated position: he is out of bow-shot; he is beyond their scaling ladders; he dwells on high.  Nor is this all; for Jehovah is our Deliverer as well as our Defender."

A= In considering verse 1,  where David says God teaches his hands to war and his fingers to fight, I'm reminded of how believers are given the armor of God and the sword of the Spirit to fight spiritual battles.  

God is our goodness.  We have no goodness of our own.  He is our rock, literally our strength, for again we have no strength of our own.  He is absolutely to be trusted.  He is not only our Defender, but our Deliverer.

P= "Lord, I praise You that You give me everything I need to fight spiritual battles.  Your Word teaches me about the tactics of the enemy and how to fight and resist him.  More than ever, I'm aware of the spiritual battle believers are in, and the importance of being armed to fight skillfully and effectively.  I pray You will help me to memorize Your Word so it will be there when I need to wield the sword of the Spirit.  

"I praise You that You are my rock, fortress, stronghold, refuge, and deliverer -- and most of all for Your steadfast love.  I thank You in Jesus' name, Amen."

The reflection question asks, "Is God your rock, fortress, stronghold, deliverer and refuge?  And how does remembering God's love, as the first among the list of all the names of God, make your relationship with God more personal?

My response: God is indeed all of these things to me.  He is my rock that I can cling to in times of trouble -- even "though the earth be removed and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea".  He is immovable.  He has been my fortress and my stronghold so many times, hiding and sheltering me when I felt threatened or unsafe.  He has delivered my soul from death and He has often delivered me from difficult situations as well.  And He is my refuge in a hostile world.  I can flee to Him at any time I feel the need.

Remembering God's love -- that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me; that He drew me to Himself with lovingkindness; and so much more -- all that He does or allows in my life is from a heart of love.  Because of this great love, my relationship with Him is an intensely personal one.

And that's the Sunday Scripture for this week!

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