Formed to Proclaim His Praise
“Your hands made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.” (V. 73) God both made us and now molds us. Sin deformed us but we as believers are “recreated” when we are born again; “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Eph. 2:10). Then God reforms us by His Word to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ. We are twice owned by God; He is our Maker and our Redeemer through the sacrificial death of Jesus. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20) He created us for His glory and pleasure: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev. 4:11) “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth— everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made; the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” (Isa. 43:6-7, 21) So like David we are to pray for understanding of His Word, for His Word tells us how to live for His glory and pleasure.
“May those who fear You see me and be glad, because I wait for (hope in) Your word.” (V. 74) This is a call for all of us to be those who hope in God, who hope in His Word, who hope in His promises to never leave us or forsake us in this age and ultimately to be with us face to face forever in a perfect heaven: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They (we) will see his face.” (Rev. 21:3-4; 22:4) We are not to hope in anything or anyone more than God, and our testimony of His faithfulness should be an encouragement to others who “see me and are glad.” So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.” (Isa. 28:16) In this chapter God is rebuking Israel here because they were looking to Egypt to help them against Assyria, and reminding them that He is the tried and proven One and not to trust in the arm of the flesh. Likewise, as bad as things are with our government and our economy we still are to be hopeful people because our God has proven Himself trustworthy. God is still not only our King, He is the King of kings (and presidents) and He will never be voted out of office! Let’s hope in Him and His Word and promises so other believers will be glad to see us.
“I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous, And that in faithfulness (not unfaithfulness) You have afflicted me.” (V. 75) This takes us back to verse 73 for the God Who made us and molds us surely knows what’s best for us, even His “affliction” or loving discipline. Here we have yet another verse on suffering and trials and there are many in the Scriptures because we never graduate from the school of suffering on this side of heaven. There is always more to learn about God and ourselves through the course on suffering yet it is the one elective we would never chose. Notice David’s certainty that God’s dealings are right and good for him: “ I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous,” and he said the same in Psalm 51:4 as he confessed his sin of adultery and after hearing God’s pronounced judgments through Nathan. It is so wise not to fight against the Lord’s loving discipline when it comes. It is hard enough sometimes to deal with corrective discipline, but if we are angry with God and accusing Him as we go through it, it just adds un-needed misery. For then we see the One who loves us most, our Best Friend, as our arch enemy. One more point about suffering as it relates to our times today, if we believe that harder times are coming, and many do, we need to be spiritually stronger, and suffering is God’s main tool for that: “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jer. 12:5) No pain no gain certainly applies to our spiritual training just as it does to our physical training.
“O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, According to Your word to Your servant. May Your compassion (or “tender mercies”) come to me that I may live, for Your law is my delight.” (Vv. 76-77) These Spirit-inspired prayers by David are so instructive. Here David is in the midst of some corrective discipline by the Lord and even thanks God for it, but it doesn’t stop him from asking for God’s loving kindness and tender mercies to comfort him even as he goes through it. He even reminds God that it is a promise from Him, “according to Your Word” and I thought of the weeping prophet Jeremiah and his experience of just that: receiving God’s tender mercies in the midst of great trial: “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation (or deliverance) of the LORD.” (Lam. 3:19-26) Maybe we could understand this by the little child that loves to please his father yet “foolishness is bound in the heart of a child but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” (Prov. 22:15) The child does not so much dislike the rod as much as the pain of disappointing his father. So he takes his spanking but looks longingly at his Dad to be reassured of his love and forgiveness and a new chance to please him with obedience – “for Your law is my delight.” Like our Lord Jesus, as we grow in His likeness, pleasing the Father will become our greatest pleasure. “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)
“May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie” (or “for wronging me without cause”); But I shall meditate on Your precepts.” (V. 78) Jesus calls unbelievers children of the devil (John 8:42-47) and therefore, they are liars as is the father of lies. This conflict was foretold in Genesis 3:15 as God spoke to the serpent (Satan): “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” We see this ongoing conflict to the end: “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring —those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (Rev. 12:17) And they do this only because we love God, as they hated David without cause (Psalm 35:19) and much more Jesus: “But now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘ THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.’” (John 15:24-25) David’s prayer is a good one: “Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!” (Psalm 35:1) As we seek to do God’s will we can be assured God will contend with those who contend with us.
“May those who fear You turn to me, even those who know Your testimonies.” (V. 79) So as we experience trouble from the people against God, we ask God to send us help from the people of God. This is a great prayer because we are asking God to cause wise and mature believers to notice us and help us. I have been so blessed by the mentors God has sent my way through this prayer. Notice it is plural as we need a “multitude of counselors” (Prov. 11:14). What is so sad, is that some believers spend more social time with unbelievers (who are against them because they are against God) than in fellowship with believers. Thus the writer of Hebrews exhorts us: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:24-25) Notice, some believers are actually in the habit of not meeting with other believers. “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Cor. 15:33)
“May my heart be blameless (or “sound”) in Your statutes, so that I will not be ashamed.” (V.80) The meaning here seems to be sincerity of heart in keeping God’s Word. Jesus commands us to love God with all of our mind and our heart. Sound doctrine in the head and in the heart leads to sound walking with God. Elsewhere David prayed, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalm 51:6) We may fool some people but we can never fool God. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Gal. 6:7) If we think we are getting by with disobedience we are deceived and the day of reckoning will come now or later. If now in this life, it could lead to greater sin and shame. If it is at the Judgment seat of Christ, it could lead to shame and suffering loss. “And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” (1 John 2:28) “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Cor. 3:12-15) We are saved by grace through faith and not by works but we are rewarded for works done in the power of the Holy Spirit that glorify our Lord.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. What is your main take away from the message and how can you apply it to your life?
2. “The people I formed for Myself that they may proclaim My praise.” Like David we are to pray for understanding of His Word, for His Word tells us how to live for His glory and pleasure. Have you made living for God’s pleasure and glory the greatest purpose of your life and if so, when and why did you resolve to do that?
3. Let’s hope in Him and His Word and promises so other believers will be glad to see us. Would you say you are full of hope (hopeful) because of God’s Word and promises both for this life and for eternity? Would others describe you that way for that reason?
4. If we believe that harder times are coming, and many do, we need to be spiritually stronger and suffering is God’s main tool for that: “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? (Jer. 12:5) No pain no gain certainly applies to our spiritual training just as it does to our physical training. Does this perspective on suffering, needed preparation for the times ahead, help you with your present trials?
5. “O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, According to Your word to Your servant. May Your compassion (or “tender mercies”) come to me that I may live, for Your law is my delight.” (Vv. 76-77) Can you “feel” the Lord’s tender mercies even in the midst of His loving discipline? If so, how does it affect you?
6. “May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie” (or “for wronging me without cause”). Have you ever had an unbeliever who disliked you or even wronged you for no real reason or cause? Does what David and Jesus experienced help you understand why? Do you find David’s prayer helpful?
7. “May those who fear You turn to me, even those who know Your testimonies.” (V. 79) 1) What is the difference between socializing with unbelievers and having fellowship with believers? 2) Have you ever been in the habit of not meeting with God’s people per Hebrews 10:24-25? 3) Have you made it a “habit” to meet with God’s people regularly? Describe your experience regarding each of these.
8. We are saved by grace through faith and not by works but we are rewarded for works done in the power of the Holy Spirit that glorify our Lord. Does this motivate you to even greater surrender and obedience to God?