Good morning to all:
Yesterday I met with a very good friend of mine, someone who recently (a little over a month) made the decision to believe in Christ as his Savior. Together we meet quite often to run through things and I attempt to answer any questions. Yesterday, like many of you, his question was about dissecting a Psalm. His response was, “Books like Matthew or Genesis, it just makes sense, but Psalm is just different and harder to understand.”
I appreciated the genuine feedback, so here’s how you dissect a Psalm.
- Context, context, and more context is absolutely essential.
- Understanding the writer, what was David like? Why was he writing a Psalm?
- Reading first from a broad perspective, then logically breaking down David’s words.
- Prayer and mediation are everything.
This Psalm is from David, when he ran for his life and escaped from his son, Absalom.
God! Look! Enemies past counting!
Enemies are sprouting like mushrooms,
Mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery:
“Hah! No help for him from God!”
But you, God, shield me on all sides;
You ground my feet, you lift my head high;
With all my might I shout up to God,
His answers thunder from the holy mountain.
I stretch myself out. I sleep.
Then I’m up again – rested, tall and steady,
Fearless before the enemy mobs
Coming at me from all sides.
Up, God! My God, help me!
Slap their faces,
First their cheek, then the other,
Your first hard to their teeth!
Real help comes from God.
Your blessing clothes your people!
At first glance, this Psalm seems pretty intense and you probably have zero idea as to what it actually means or represents, but let me guide you in the logical progression that takes place here. Read through it a few times and really grasp conceptually what David is saying here. Granted, I will explain below, but see if you cannot come up with the explanation on your own, it will hone your skills and help you be able to delve into the Gospel more frequently!
David in the first stanza is saying, look God I’m isolated…I’m all alone…everyone around me are enemies. The mushrooms illustration is a good one, you know as well as I do…once of those bad boys begins to grow, pretty soon they are EVERYWHERE. They are all around you and in increasingly high numbers. He’s saying there are mobs around me, they’re all enemies of you, Father! Similar to the Christian lifestyle these days in American, few and far between surrounded by enemies who will not buy into the amazing grace God has to offer.
The second stanza, David is like look no worries because no matter how isolated I am…you’ve got my back on all sides from all angles. You will always be there for me, my feet are grounded and my head is lifted high. It is like our feet are concrete in our foundation of our faith and because of our audacious faith and not being the same as the mushrooms spreading everywhere, we can lift our head high as we are trying to get out the Gospel! And no matter how alone I feel, forever you’ll be there for me and I can always shout up and pray to you.
The third stanza, at the end of the day David understands that once he goes to get rest, he can be as comfortable as he wants because God will give him the proper nourishment that is essential for his daily living. He understands that with God on his side, he will wake up ready and fearless because God will shield him on every side. What a testament of audacious faith, my friends!
The fourth stanza is where this gets tricky, because if you just read the stanza you will not understand what the heck the purpose of it is: When David says, “My God, help me! Slap their faces, First this cheek, then the other, and Your fist hard to their teeth!” But David isn’t actually suggesting that God go punch all of them in the face or slap them in the cheek, and if you see it that way, you really need to work on conceptualizing passages. The Message Bible is a great translation, but if you do not fathom and comprehend the intricacies, I wouldn’t exactly suggest you reading it. So here’s what David means, David is like My God, help me! Help me give them the reality check so they can see YOUR face father. He wants God to wake up them out of their spiritual coma and see the light in which is God. So David isn’t exactly suggesting God get in a fight with all of them, but actually that save them from their blind worldly living and show them the reality check they need!
The last little bit is pretty much common sense, but David is saying that authentic help only comes from God and that the blessings are what clothe us. We wear our blessings on our sleeve and it’s what molds and brands us to be His. It’s why we are so audacious towards Him for those of us who have that serious fire for our Father.