June 29, 2016

Psalm 57:2-3 I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me;
God sends his love and his faithfulness.

The last three verses of this Psalm have been set to music very beautifully, but the Psalm as a whole is another marvelous example of David’s combination of sincere devotion and gifted craftsmanship. This little section speaks of David’s heart attitude and God’s response to it. His prayer is to God, but in that polytheistic society it is significant that he specifies “God Most High.” He wasn’t praying to the storm god (Baal) or to the moon god or any other god claimed by the nations around him, he was praying to the Creator of the universe, above and before whom there is and can be no other. In the next descriptive line the NIV supplies “his purpose,” to try to flesh it out in terms of contemporary English, but the Japanese says “everything.” You name it, God gets it done. In the next section, where the NIV says “those who hotly pursue me,” the Japanese says, “those who step on me.” In both translations, however, it is clear that God sends love and faithfulness from heaven to work salvation. David the poet was a master of personification, and here he speaks of Love and Faithfulness as though they were two warring angels on a rescue mission. I would think that word picture would be very comforting to any believer! David knew to whom he prayed, so he never lost hope regardless of his circumstances. No wonder he could say in verse 7 that his heart was steadfast, unshakable!

My years of walking with the Lord have made me less and less shaky, spiritually speaking, though I still have plenty of room to grow. Like David, my response to almost any situation is to sing! (verse 7) I have found there is nothing that redirects my spirit to God better than singing praise to Him. The nice thing is that there is so much material to choose from, and David was a great contributor to that body of work. Having studied poetry in college, writing a bit of it myself, and doing a good bit of song translation work, I am very aware of the craftsmanship involved, but if I look at it just that way, the end result of my singing is just noise. My singing to God must be from my heart, as David’s was, or I am no more than “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1) I need always to remember to whom I sing and why, giving Him my heart along with my words and my voice. As a pastor, I need to lead and teach all the believers to do likewise. Some are intimidated, not having had the musical training I have enjoyed, but as much as I might cringe at someone who is off pitch, that isn’t the issue. I need to help them understand that if their heart is in it, God is pleased, whatever it sounds like to the spiritually insensitive.

Father, thank You for this. The idea of doing a session of vocal training from the pulpit hadn’t occurred to me, but I’ll do whatever You say. Help me indeed teach and train the believers to turn their hearts to You in every situation, whether they sing or not, so that together we may be fully submitted to You, firmly resisting the devil, (James 4:7) so that Your kingdom may come for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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