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Psalm 57: Be Exalted, O God Print E-mail
Sunday, 05 February 2012

Songs are powerful.  When you combine good music with good lyrics, then you have something that can have a great impact on lives.  The power rests in a songs ability to help us remember truths.  Likewise, the nature of music can connect us to times and experiences that move us as well.  For example, think about the song ďAmazing Grace.Ē  When you hear that song, what do you think about it?  How does it impact you?  Does it take you back to a particular time, perhaps the first time, when you truly realized that grace is indeed amazing?  I think about a song like ďBefore the Throne of God Above.Ē  I have said before that I could sing that song every Sunday and never get tired of it.  Particularly, the second verse that calls us to look to Christ and his defeat of our sin at the cross when Satan tempts us to despair is powerful to me.  Again, when you take profound truths and set them to memorable music, then the result is stirring.

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For some people, the power of music and songs is a reason why we should not sing.  They fear the emotionalism that often accompanies such singing.  And to be fair, we must at least be wary of this, for it can be a problem.  Yet, the Lord commands us to sing.  He calls us to lift up our voices in worship to Him.  In fact, one entire book of the inspired Word of God is composed of songs.  Each and every psalm is a song of Israel that was used in their worship of God.  Thus, although we may be cautious against simply singing for the sake of singing, we do not want to ignore Godís Word to us and His call for us to sing.

Over the past few weeks we have been looking at several psalms that instruct us to trust in the Lord.  We should trust in the Lord this year because He has been faithful to us in the past (Psalm 54).  We should trust in the Lord even when our friends have betrayed us (Psalm 55).  We should trust in the Lord and fight the temptation to fear man (Psalm 56).  Once again, our psalm calls us to put our trust in the Lord.  Psalm 57 encourages us to bring our requests before the Lord (v. 1-4) and to trust in His steadfast love (v. 6-10).  Each of these sections is followed with a refrain, or something similar to what we would call a chorus.  Thus, David gives us a song of praise that calls for us to trust in the Lord, which is why people have often set this psalm to music (like the song we just sang).  He includes two stanzas and a repeated chorus (v. 5, 11).  Letís consider his song of praise together this morning.

Stanza One: The request (v. 1-4)

As David began Psalm 56 with a prayer for Godís grace and mercy, he does the same here.  Look at verse 1a.  David cries out for mercy from God.  The content of his request is simple: Be merciful to me.  Whatever situation that David is facing has left him desperate for the mercy.  And who does David cry out to for mercy?  He cries out to God.  Look at verses 1b-2.  The subject of Davidís request is God Most High.  For David, the Lord is his refuge.  He can find rest and safety in the shadow of your wingsÖtill the storms of destruction pass by. 

David cries to God for mercy because he believes that the Lord will protect him and see him through.  David knows that the Lord fulfills his purpose for me.  This is significant because it indicates that David believes that even in his struggles the Lord has not lost control of his life.  God is going to bring about His purposes for Davidís life.  David can trust in that.  He describes this purpose in verse 3.  Look at that with me.  God will save David and take care of the enemies.  David puts his trust in Godís steadfast love and faithfulness.  In verse 4 we see the reason for the request.  Look at that with me.  Once again David is surrounded by enemies.  Their threat for his life is great.  They are intent on destroying him.  So then, David cries out for mercy to God in the face of these enemies because he trusts in the Lordís sovereign control and steadfast love, His sovereign goodness.

We too can cry out to God when the enemies surround us, trusting in Godís plan for our life and His love for us.  As those who have become a part of Godís family through turning from our sins and trusting in the work of Jesus at the cross, we can trust in Godís plan to conform us into the image of Jesus (see Romans 8:28-30).  God loved us so much that He sent His Son to live and die in our place.  We can trust in His great plan to redeem a people and make them like Christ.  Our enemies can threaten much, but they cannot overcome the plan of God.  His power and His love are too great for that.  Thus, we can trust in the Lord for mercy.

David ends this stanza with the refrain in verse 5.  Look at that with me.  As we see over and over again in the psalms, David knows that his salvation is connected to the exaltation of God.  Every time God defeated the enemies of Israel, the enemies of David, Godís grace and power to save were put on display.  Thus, Davidís refrain sings out his longing for God to be exalted and praised by continuing to poor out his love and saving power on His people.

Stanza Two: the response (v. 6-10)

The second stanza begins in the same way that the first one ends.  Look at verse 6.  After the triumphant refrain, David returns to the description of his enemy.  Why would he do that?  First, it illustrates the point that God is present with him even in the midst of his enemies.  David feels surrounded on all sides by his enemies, but that does not mean that God is not with him.  No, God is present even there.  Second, David resolves this description of the enemy with the truth of their fate: They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves.  The enemies sought Davidís destruction, they planned his demise, but their plots have resulted in their own defeat.  God, in His justice, returned on them what they had planned for David.  Thus, even in the midst of the enemies, David can trust in the Lord and sing of His exaltation and glory.

With the enemiesí threat checked by the Lordís sovereignty, David now moves to his response to Godís deliverance.  We can break the response up along the same lines that we used for the request.  We have already noted that the reason David responds is due to the defeat of his enemies.  So then, what is the content of the response?  In other words, how does David respond to Godís salvation? 

Look at verses 7-10.  David responds with confidence and praise.  His heart is steadfast before the Lord.  Such confidence causes his to burst out in praise.  Specifically, he responds by singing and making melody to the Lord (v. 7).  He responds with giving thanks and singing praises (v. 9).  He calls for instruments to be played and day to bring forth its praise of the Lord.  His steadfast heart wants to sing.  It longs to declare the glory of God among the nations.  He is moved to sing.  And even though some might call us to be cautious with our emotions, we should not miss the emotion in Davidís response.  He is steadfast.  He is encouraged.  He is sure of his God.  And he responds with joyous praise.  He sings.

And who is the subject of Davidís praise?  David sings to God, whose steadfast love is great to the heavens.  David is confident in the steadfast love of His God.  He knows that God will be faithful to His people because God is faithful to His covenant.  He has steadfast love, covenant love, for His people.  He will not abandon them.  Thus, He is worthy of their praise.  He is worthy of being the object of their joyous singing.  With David, the people of God respond to His love with praise and thanksgiving.  With steadfast hearts, they lift their voices and sing.

Once again, David closes the stanza with the refrain.  Look at verse 11.  David sings because he wants God to be exalted above the heavens.  He wants Godís glory to be over all the earth.  He sings because he wants the nations to hear of Godís greatness, Godís love, Godís might.  He knows that God will answer his request for mercy and so he responds with singing so that Godís praise will spread.  As we said above, there is a connection between our salvation and Godís exaltation.  David knows that connection and he is committed to making it known.  God has saved him.  God has loved him with a steadfast, faithful love.  And David wants the world to know.  He wants the nations to hear about the great love of His God.  So he sings again and again: Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let your glory be over all the earth!

In the midst of the lions, in the midst of his struggling and fear and temptation, David writes a song of praise to the Lord.  He cries out to God for mercy.  He calls to the One who can hide him under His wings, the One who will bring His purposes to pass.  He commits himself to responding with praise and thanksgiving.  He wants the whole world to hear of how God has saved him and loved him.  He wants God to be exalted over all the earth.

Yet, what about us?  Do we have such reason to sing?  We have more!  Like David, we serve the God of steadfast love.  We serve the One who saved His people Israel over and over again.  And we serve the God who sent His only Son to pay the ultimate price for our sins.  Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and rose victoriously from the grave so that we could be saved and delivered, so that our enemies, namely sin, Satan, and death, could be defeated.  We have been saved, as Paul says, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).  We have every reason to have steadfast hearts, trusting in the Lord.  We have every reason to sing.

So then, let me pause at this point and encourage you to sing.  Lift up your voice and sing to the One who so graciously saves His people.  He is worthy of your songs.  And donít just go through the motions because it is part of what we do on Sundays.  Donít just mumble through the songs, hoping that we skip a verse or two.  No, as we sing, may it be a time of reminding ourselves of the greatness of our God and the glory of our redemption through Christ.  May we join with David and all the saints who have gone before us.  And may we not settle for quiet, comfortable praise.  May we lift our voices like those who have been rescued from the pit.  May we sing like God has come down in the flesh to save us from sin and death by dying for us on a cross.  Because that is exactly what He has done in Christ!  O Church, lift up your voices and sing!

And donít stop until the nations have heard.  Donít quit until the earth is full of the glory of our God.  May we say with David: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples.  I will sing praises to you among the nations.  May the desire of our hearts be the exaltation of the God who has so wondrously saved us.  May Davidís refrain be the song that is written over all of our lives: Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.  Be exalted, O God!  Be exalted!  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 February 2012 )

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