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Sunday, July 25, 2021

“Praise Be To The LORD My Rock” Psalm 144 [Matt's Messages]

“Praise Be To The LORD My Rock”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
July 25, 2021 :: Psalm 144

You might easily guess that I initially picked Psalm 144 because of the first phrase of verse 1. 

And you would be right.

Psalm 144 is a royal psalm by King David written at a time when he apparently faced a foreign threat from treacherous enemies. 
 
King David and his nation were either under attack or soon to be under attack, and  so he took out his pen and paper and wrote a prayer song about it.

A prayer song that asks God to powerfully fight for King David and on his behalf.
A prayer song that anticipates great blessing to follow after the Lord goes to bat for David and Israel.
A prayer song that begins with praise, praise that the LORD is David’s Rock.

Psalm 144 begins, “Praise be to the LORD my Rock.”

And that’s our title for today.

And you can see how it fits with what we’ve been learning the last seven days at Family Bible Week.

“Praise be to the LORD my Rock.”


King David prays (Psalm 144, verses 1&2), “Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.”

There’s a lot there, isn’t there?!

A lot of themes that we have seen before, again and again, as we’ve studied the psalms this past year.

Our entire series is called “Fortifying Truth,” and we’ve been at it for about twelve months. This is the 43rd message in this psalms sermon series.

King David is about to go into battle, and he is going into battle praising God.

We said it a couple of weeks ago, but it’s just as true today: Life is a fight.

Life is a fight.

There can be many moments of peace and rest in our lives, but make no mistake, we live in a world at war, and we are also caught up in it. A spiritual battle rages around us and in us. And we ourselves are called to fight the fight of faith.

And King David was literally a warrior, physically and militarily a man at war, not just spiritually.

The nation he ruled was under fairly constant attack from the surrounding nations.

And it looks like it was all going down again, so David wrote out this prayer song to prepare for the battle.

And he began with praise.

Do you begin your prayers with praise?

Do you go into each day of battle with praise and worship?

Do you begin each day, knowing that you’re headed into battle once again and start off with praise?

It’s a really good life strategy that King David has adopted here.

He knows that he’s in for a fight, so he goes to the Lord and starts with praise.

“Praise be to the LORD (Yahweh) my Rock.”

I want to divide up this psalm into three parts and put a heading over each one, each something about the LORD which is worthy of our praise. Here’s the first one covering verses 1 through 4. 

Praise the Lord because...

#1. THE LORD IS MY ROCK (VV.1-4).

Yes, I did. I picked this psalm for today because of that word “Rock” in verse 1.

All week long, we have taught the kids that they need to build their lives on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ and His teachings.

The LORD is my Rock.

What does it mean to you that the LORD is a Rock?

It obviously does not mean that He’s a dumb as one!

It doesn’t mean that the LORD is unfeeling or unthinking.

Verse 2 says that He is loving. And verses 1 and 2 show that He is very active.

The LORD being a rock does not mean that He is inert.

It means that He is stable. That He is solid. That He is dependable. That He is secure.

That He is safe.

The Hebrew word translated “Rock” in verse 1 could be translated “Rocky Summit” or “Rock Ledge.”

The idea, apparently, is that the LORD is a safe place from which to do battle, the high ground, the stable high ground, a rocky summit.

Like verse 2 says “my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge.”

For David, the LORD was His safe place.

There wasn’t anything more trustworthy nor more trusted in David’s life.

The LORD was where David ran when He was in trouble.

The LORD was where David turned.

And David was never disappointed!

The LORD was David’s Rock!

Do you see all of the pronouns, “my” and “mine.” It’s very personal for David.

The LORD was David’s Rock!

Isn’t that wonderful?!

Where do you turn when life gets rough?

One of my mentors in ministry taught me that the psalms of refuge help us to make sense of addictions.

What do you turn to when life gets tough?

For many years, I turned to comfort food when life was stressful and rough.

I’ve found myself in recent years turning to social media for affirmation of myself.

To what do you turn when life gets tough?

Where do you run?

What is your refuge?

There are lots of options out there.

David didn’t always choose rightly, but here he was.

He praises God for being his rock.

His stability, his security, his solidness, his safe place.

And his source of skill in battle. David knew that he got that from the LORD. Look at verse 1 again.

“Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.”

The LORD gave David his skill with weapons and for warfare. David was not successful at warfare all by himself; it was a gift from God. God had promised it to David in 2 Samuel 7. And David says in verse 2 that the LORD “subdues people under” him.

The only reason why Israel survived and thrived was the grace of God.

It wasn’t because David was so great. Look at verse 3.

“O LORD [O Yahweh], what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.”


David knows that he is unworthy of the LORD’s aid and attention.

David does not have an exalted view of himself here. He knows that his life is short and ephemeral and fleeting, especially compared to God. 

And yet, the LORD has him in mind! In fact verse 2 says that LORD loves David. “He is my loving God...” From the Hebrew word “hesed” for loyal love.

That’s what it means for the LORD to be your Rock!

It’s more like when a spouse says that their spouse has been a rock for them.

It’s personal. It’s loving. And it’s solid. You can count on it.

Do you see why David praises God here?!

He is in awe and marveling, wondering, that God would treat him like this.

And so he praises Him.

Do you run to the LORD for safety and security and stability?

And do you praise Him because He is so safe?

Life is scary. It just is. If you haven’t figured out that life is scary, it will come or you’re lying to yourself.

But the LORD offers Himself as a refuge, a safe place to run.

And when we run to Him, we are invited to ask Him to rescue us.

That’s going to be part number two (covering verses 5 through 11).

#2. THE LORD IS MY RESCUER (VV.5-11).

If you’re taking notes this morning, that’s point number two.

Praise the LORD because:

The LORD is My Rock.
And the LORD is My Rescuer.

In verse 5, King David asks Yahweh to go to war for him. Look at verse 5.

“Part your heavens, O LORD, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke. Send forth lightning and scatter the enemies; shoot your arrows and rout them. Reach down your hand from on high; deliver me and rescue me from the mighty waters, from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful.”

These enemies could not be trusted.

They raised their hands to swear an oath, but their right hands were deceitful and their mouths full of lies. No matter what they said, they were against David.

And so David asks the LORD to be against them.

And to rescue him.

Now, my sense is that this is poetic language. David uses similar figurative language in 2 Samuel 22 and in Psalm 18.

He doesn’t actually expect God to literally jump out of heaven and set off the mountains like volcanos and zap his enemies with lightning.

Though He certainly could, and God did do some of these things at times in the Old Testament.

This language sounds a bit like what happened at Mount Sinai, doesn’t it?

So David may be saying, “Show up for us like you did at Mount Sinai!”

But I think it’s mostly figurative language to say, “Do whatever is needed to give us the total victory over our enemies, O LORD.”

I especially get that out of verse 7 when he says, “...rescue me from the mighty waters.”

Remember that we’ve seen again and again in the Psalms that the mighty waters symbolized chaos and evil and death to the Hebrews.

And David asks the LORD to rescue him from all of that.

Do you ask the LORD to rescue you?

Do you ask the LORD to come to your aid?

To fight on your behalf?

Remember one of the most biblical prayers that you can ever pray is, “Lord, help!”

Every Saturday afternoon, when I sit down to write the sermon, that’s my big prayer. “Lord, help!”

And it’s one of the most heartfelt and authentic prayers that I pray each and every week. Because I know that I need God to show up or we won’t have a sermon that is worth anything where it counts.

“Lord, help!”

“Lord, rescue me!”

“Love, deliver me!”

When was the last time you prayed a desperate prayer like that?

What are you facing right now? What has you stressed out? What has you worried and scared or angry or depressed?

Is it bigger than you?

Because the LORD is a Rock, you can run to Him.

And because the LORD is a Rescuer, you can ask Him to deliver you!

David fully expects the LORD to rescue him, and so he gives Him praise. Look at verse 9.

“I will sing a new song to you, O God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you, to the One who gives victory to kings, who delivers his servant David from the deadly sword.”

Has David been rescued yet?

No, look at the next verse, verse 11.

“Deliver me and rescue me from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful.”

Nothing has changed for David. He’s still at risk from the hands of foreign kings whose oaths cannot be trusted.

He’s still crying out for deliverance.

And yet He knows that the LORD is a Rescuer, and so He plans in advance to fire up his guitar, his ten-stringed lyre and praise the LORD.

“I will sing a new song to you, O God.” 

A fresh song. Because I know that I will be rescued.

Can you see the application of this principle to our salvation?

The LORD is a Rescuer, and there is no greater example of that than the rescuing that Jesus did on the Cross and at the Empty Tomb.

He did come down in the Incarnation, though He did not make the mountains smoke (one day again He will).

Instead, He climbed the hill of Calvary and stretched out His arms and died for you and me.

And He won the greatest battle that was ever fought when He died in our place and then came back to life to give us eternal life forevermore.

Have you asked the Lord Jesus to rescue you from your sin?

And if you have, are you singing a new song today because the LORD is your Rescuer?

David believes with all of his heart that the LORD is going to rescue Him and save Israel. You can tell because of what he says next at the end of Psalm 144, in verses 12 through 15.

David anticipates the great blessings that will come on Israel when the LORD does His thing. Look at verse 12.

“Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets. Blessed are the people of whom this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the LORD.”

There’s a reason to praise God!

He is not just our Rock.
He is not just our Rescuer.
He is our Reward.

#3. THE LORD IS MY REWARD (VV.12-15).

These last four verses paint a picture of a totally blessed people.

David believes that the LORD will not just rescue His people, but make them flourish.

Their people will flourish.

Their sons and daughters will flourish. I love the picture here.

“... our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants...”

They are going to be sturdy, strapping, healthy young men.

“...and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.”

Notice that they are not just beautiful, they are strong.

They are pillars.

I hope that Family Bible Week has been used by the Lord some to grow up our sons and daughters in spiritual strength and flourishing.

David’s vision is not just the people flourishing, but the provisions. V.13 again.

“Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; our oxen will draw heavy loads.”

These are Old Testament pictures of blessing. Eden-like blessing returning to Israel by God’s grace.

People, provisions, protection. V.14.

“There will be no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets.”

You know what this is a picture of?

It’s a picture of heaven.

This was only partially fulfilled in the Old Testament. In fact, because of Israel’s repeated and down-ward spiraling disobedience, they did have breaching of walls and going into captivity and cries of distress in the streets when they were carted off to Babylon.

The fullest fulfillment of these words is still to come in the kingdom to come!

“Mid toil and tribulation and tumult of her war
She waits the consummation of peace forevermore;
Till with the vision glorious her longing eyes are blest
And the great Church victorious shall be the church at rest.” (Samuel J. Stone)

We’re still waiting for that!

But we are sure that it is coming.

Because He who started a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

When the whole world experience the blessing that David is predicting in verses 12 through 15.

Because the LORD is our Reward.

Notice that He is not just our Reward-er.

He Himself is our Reward. Verse 15.

Blessed are the people of whom [all] this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the LORD.”

The blessings are not separated from the LORD.

He is the source of the blessing and the greatest blessing Himself.

This is what we have to look forward to!

HE is what we have to look forward to.

“Blessed [happy!] are the people of whom this is true; blessed [happy!] are the people whose God is the LORD.”

That’s how you get ready for a big battle.

That’s how you get ready for your next day.

You start with praise.

And you praise God that He is your Rock, a safe place to run.

And you praise God that He is your Rescuer, and you cry out for His help.

And you praise God that He is your Reward, and you expect to be blessed because you belong to Him. 

Because He is yours.
And because You are His.
And because He loves you.

"Praise be the LORD my Rock."


***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 to Summer 2021

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise You" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69
26. "Cast Your Cares on the LORD" - Psalm 55
27. "“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?" - Psalm 22
28. "You Will Not Abandon Me To the Grave" - Psalm 16
29. "He Will Rule" - Psalm 72
30. "Taste and See That the LORD is Good" - Psalm 34
31. "Since My Youth" - Psalm 71
32. "Your Statutes Are Wonderful" - Psalm 119
33. "The LORD Our God Is Holy" - Psalm 99
34. "Not To Us, O LORD" - Psalm 115
35. "Blessed" - Psalm 32
36. "Sit At My Right Hand" - Psalm 110
37. "Your Love Is Better Than Life" - Psalm 63
38. "Blessed Is the Man Who Fears the LORD" - Psalm 112
39. "If the LORD Had Not Been On Our Side" - Psalm 124
40. "Shout for Joy to the LORD, All the Earth" - Psalm 100
41. "You Have Raised A Banner" - Psalm 60
42. "Unless the LORD Builds the House" - Psalm 124

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