Psalm 138 to 145 – David’s Journey

Psalm 138 to 145

This group of psalms (138 to 145) has recently got my attention.  They are in the Book Five of Psalms and are with the psalms known as the “Songs of Ascent.”  These were song that pilgrims sang as they went up to Jerusalem and the Temple.  Outside of Books One and Two this is the largest grouping of psalms attributed to David the writer.  The original subtitles are in my NIV and many Bibles like my Holman Study Bible add their own titles to give people a sense of contents of the psalm.

These psalms were probably grouped by whoever did the editing and grouping of the psalms into the form we know today.  I like to think where and when psalms were written and read them in those possible contexts.  Only Psalm 142 gives you a time frame and that is “in the cave” referring to David’s outlaw days (1 Samuel 22) when he was hiding from King Saul.  Two (139, 140) are “for the director of music” which may indicate that they were written after he went to Jerusalem, three (141, 143, 145) are identified as a “psalm of David”, and Psalms 138 and 144 are just “of David.”

The first verse or two in each of these Psalms give you a good idea of why they were written.  Most are truly songs of praise or thanksgiving but they seem to have been written at crucial or highlight points in David’ life.   I guess I have started to look at them as a journey through David’s life.  Psalm 138 could have been after Samuel anointed him and they go to Psalm 145 that has the sound of an older mature king who is looking back at his life and wanting his people to look ahead to the life and purpose in God.

Fights and Wars/Battles – Psalm 144

After writing about Attacks , Test , Storms and then revisiting Test and Storms I realized that I was not finished and that the attacks and storms part seemed lop-sided.  I guess when you are in them it seems one-sided and that you are always the one getting beat-up and there is little you can do about it.

We know that is not true but we still need to be reminded of the fact that part of the Christian life is battling against the works and deeds of Satan. Three verses that help me are:

1.  1 Samuel 30:6 But David found strength in the Lord his God. (NIV)

2.  Proverbs 21:30 + 31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle but victory rests with the Lord (see Lord). (NIV)

3. Psalms 144:1 Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight. (KJV)

To just read one of David’s psalms is good but I like to put them into his story; read them in context where they may have been written. (see The Writer)  I put Psalm 144 somewhere in 1 Samuel 21 & 22.  This is a very trying time for David (he is running from Saul, did not kill Doeg the Edomite and is worried by the King of Gath) but he reminds himself and God that he has been trained to do battle.  He sees a big picture, which is hard when you are attacked, that God is his fortress and ask for help from God in verse 5 – 7.                     (see Storms Revisited)

The King James reads differently than the New International Version in that the words are war and fight and not war and battle.  Using my Strong’s Concordance I looked up these words.  War/battle is used over “three hundred times in the Old Testament, indicating how large a part military life was to an Israelite.”  And the word fight (used 149x) comes from a primary root word that means to feed or consume and the implication is to battle or destroy. There is a separation of the idea between battle, a single encounter, and war, a series of encounters. You can draw some interesting parallels from hands being matched to war/battle and fingers with fight.  The hand is the larger/stronger part and yet the fingers are part of the hand.

Wars/battles can include storms, trials and attacks and go on for a long time where battles are those single attacks or pesky trials that hit quick and are over.

But I have to remind myself (the three verse), we are to be attacking, trying and storming the enemy’s work also.  God trains us for war, gives us tools and resources to confront evil and its work and will even fight with/for us if the battle gets to big.