Psalm 144

Psalm 144
by Pastor David Groendyk

The first 11 verses of this psalm are all spoken in a singular voice. King David is asking the Lord for protection, rescue, and action for himself. It’s very similar to Psalm 18, which David also wrote, both of which are psalms fit for a warrior, as Derek Kidner says. They’re bold, they’ve got war on the mind, they invoke God’s terrifying presence, and they confidently call for deliverance. Yet both psalms are quite humble. David freely confesses in verses 3–4 that he is undeserving of God’s kindness and intervention merely because he is a mortal, fragile, finite human being. It’s a wonderful grace that God even thinks of us. This is how we ought to approach God in prayer—humility mixed with confidence, above all seeking to praise God’s name.

However, verses 12–15 shift to a plural voice, using “we” and “our.” Why? Because when the king of the country is protected and blessed, the rest of the people in the nation will be protected and blessed. The strength and security of Israel lay with their king’s prosperity. When the king is free from the threat of wars and danger, when his house is at peace, and when he has God on his side, it translates to the ordinary people in the kingdom also being free from persecution, flourishing and growing in number, and having storehouses and cupboards full. As the king goes, so goes the people.

One of the curious things that stands out to me (and maybe stood out to you) in this psalm is how the author, David, refers to himself in the third person in verse 10. He only truly refers to himself in the third person one other time in the psalms—Psalm 18 again! Why does David refer to himself in the third person? Primarily because this psalm is about a later and greater David to come who will be rescued from his lying, persecuting enemies and will bless all of his people. Certainly this prayerful psalm would apply to all of David’s ordinary offspring who would rule over Israel and Judah for the next 400 years, but it also looks forward especially to Jesus Christ. When we see Christ as the ultimate fulfillment of this psalm, it is incredibly instructive and assuring for us as Christians.

First, any human being will only find true prosperity and protection when their King and Deliverer is Jesus. God’s blessing will not ultimately rain down upon anyone who is not ruled and represented by the true king Jesus. If we want protection and to flourish both in this life and the next, we must be in Christ. Second, once you’re in Christ, the blessing is guaranteed. If you have truly trusted in him for salvation, these promises are a sure thing. You cannot lose the blessings of God any more than Christ can go back into the grave and un-defeat sin, death, hell, and Satan. As your King has gone, so will you go. Continue to rest in him, submit yourself to him, and follow him, and be assured of his providential care.