"If you’ve 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 thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Psalm 57 - ROCC SG Wk 4

Growing Closer to God Through Adversity
The superscriptions which precede most of the psalms are an interesting topic. Though a handful of scholars will debate the relevance this information has to the inspired words within the psalm, these headings often help in identifying the author, the occasion, and the musical instruction for the psalm. From that perspective, it would seem that these superscriptions are provided for our benefit and should not be dismissed. In fact, when sung aloud, the superscriptions were included as part of the song. In Psalm 57 we find a lengthy superscription—two primary parts to it include:

    To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy (ESV)  /  To the chief Musician Al-taschith (KJV) / To the choir director; set to Al-tashheth (NASB)
    Do Not Destroy (Al-tashheth – Destroy Not) is thought to have been either; (A) a song or melody associated with earlier references to ‘Destroy Not’ (Duet 9:26 or Isaiah 65:8), or (B) specific to Psalm 57—most commonly believed to be set in 1 Samuel 22, where David resists the opportunity to kill Saul in the cave of Adullam. Supporting this interpretation is 1 Sam 26:9, when David once again has the opportunity to kill Saul, he says, “Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?”

    Destroy Not is found as a superscription in four psalms (56-58 & 75), each written with the anticipation that God will bring justice to an enemy, or the wicked.
    A Miktam of David (ESV) / Michtam of David (KJV) / A Miktam of David (NASB)
    Found in six of the psalms (16, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60) generally translated as ‘engraved’ or ‘golden.’  Most commentators believe that this would seem to indicate a very special psalm, perhaps a memorial psalm; one that would be inscribed, or engraved, to commemorate an event. It’s also noted that these six “memorial psalms” are all written by David.  *QUALIFIER: Much like many of the words used to describe these psalms and to instruct the choirmasters, we have a general idea of the interpretation, but it’s difficult to know for certain what precisely was meant.
Psalm 57 is paragraphed, or sectioned, into two parts; (1-5) and (6-11) with the identical verses of 5 & 11 acting as the refrains – “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!”  When viewed in this manner, the first paragraph focuses on David’s lamenting and prayerful confidence in God’s mercy, despite his adverse situation.  The second paragraph focuses on David’s confident expectation of victory and God’s vindication.
A few verses that might for good discussion:  
(1) in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by”Like a bird that gathers the baby birds under her wing to protect them from the elements, David says that his soul will take refuge in this way. Our small group members (including ourselves), have faced, are currently facing, or will face difficult storms. Resting our soul beneath God’s wings will enable us to better make it through these storms.
(4 & 6) “My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts—the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.” and “They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way …”  This was an intense time. Saul’s men were ruthless in their pursuit of David and were looking to capture him in any way possible. To me this highlights the extreme confidence that David had in God’s protection. Even in, or more correctly, especially in, our worst struggles, let us cry out to God for mercy and rescue.
(7b & 9) “I will sing and make melody!” and “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.” In thanksgiving, praise and worship, David will sing to the Lord. Makes me think about our time of worship through song on Sunday morning, and our time alone throughout the week. I think it should encourage us to sing, sing, sing. David says in verse 8, “awake the harp and lyre!” * What a great discussion point with your group – the role of singing praise and thanksgiving?

Psalm 57   (ESV)
To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
    till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
    to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
    he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
My soul is in the midst of lions;
    I lie down amid fiery beasts—
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
    whose tongues are sharp swords.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
    Let your glory be over all the earth!
They set a net for my steps;
    my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way,
    but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
My heart is steadfast, O God,
    my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
    Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
    I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
    I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10 For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the clouds.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
    Let your glory be over all the earth!


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