January 21, 2020

God's Promise

Psalm 119:153-160

Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise.

—  Psalm 119:154

Again the psalmist laments. Are you tiring of these laments? Maybe a guess at the psalmist’s circumstances could help our understanding.

As we noted earlier, some people have suggested that King David of Israel wrote Psalm 119. David was a musician, and he did write a number of psalms. In fact, many of the songs and prayers in the book of Psalms are attributed to David, such as Psalms 3-9, 11-32, 34-41, 51-65, and many others.

David’s psalms also include many laments. Several times in his life, David was on the run, pursued by enemies who wanted to kill him. A number of psalms even include a headline note about such episodes in David’s life (see Psalms 52-59 and 1 Samuel 19-24).

So in some sections of Psalm 119, the writer may remind us of David and the struggles he faced. Though the writer may not have been David, this psalm could have been written “in the tradition of” David, at least in some of its parts. And that could have provided Israel a helpful teaching tool, encouraging later generations to remember God’s care for one of their greatest kings: David.

The plea “preserve my life, according to your promise” can apply generally to all believers, but it can also remind people that one day God gave David a unique promise. God promised to establish David’s throne forever (2 Samuel 7)—and today we know that Jesus, our Redeemer born into the line of David, has accomplished that.

“Your compassion, Lord, is great”; preserve our lives according to your Word. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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