God’s Word for You
Psalm 23, Title by David
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, May 19, 2018
Consider all the challenges David faced in his life. Some of his own sons rebelled against him. His wife Mical was a constant challenge to his faith. His mentor Saul (in many ways, Saul was David’s role model as an Israelite king!) wanted to be his murderer. He was sometimes more at home, and safer, among the Philistines than among the Israelites. And of course, there was Goliath, more than three feet taller and perhaps three hundred pounds heavier than David—not to mention other incidents in David’s life, like a lion and a bear attacking his flock. In all David’s experiences, one dramatic fact dominated his life: God was with him. In this Psalm, David describes God’s presence in his life and gives us all comfort in God’s saving plan for us. This is what God has done for us! This is the God who has saved us. This is Lord, our Shepherd.
A psalm of David.
The headings of the psalms are part of the inspired word of God. As David begins this most famous of psalms, we stop to notice this heading, and in these four words (just two in Hebrew) we discover something about God’s will for us and in our lives.
“A”—David didn’t write just one psalm; although this is a famous psalm, and even an important psalm, it isn’t the only one. It is, in the end, “a” psalm of David. But even so, it is part of God’s word. Everything in the Bible is not merely sanctified by God’s word, or accompanied by God’s word—it is God’s word.
“Psalm”—Hebrew mizmor, a “trimmed” thing—perhaps a song with a carefully trimmed meter or melody, or (more likely) a song accompanied by a stringed instrument like a harp or lyre. It’s a song of praise to God. You may know someone who likes to sing. For many, it is natural to sing when emotionally moved. As David wrote this psalm, he expressed his emotional response to realizing the work of God in his life.
“Of”—belonging to, expressing ownership, or in this case authorship. In Hebrew, it’s just a one-letter preposition, but “of” or “by” is what it means. Yes, David wrote Psalm 23. We understand that the Holy Spirit moved David. Exactly how did this process of inspiration work? That is one of the mysteries of God. Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes they simply wrote what God told them to write (Revelation 1:11). Sometimes they did research before they wrote (Luke 1:3). Sometimes they simply wrote down what they saw and lived through themselves (1 John 1:1; 2 Peter 1:16; Acts 16:11). Sometimes God’s hand was involved in a much more direct and dramatic way (Exodus 32:15-16; Daniel 5:24-28). Here the Holy Spirit guided David to pen one of the most well-known and loved chapters in the Bible.
“David”—Who was this man? He was a giant slayer, a warrior, a loyal friend, a king, a shepherd, and so much more. Perhaps the most valuable title is found in 1 Samuel 13:14 (and Acts 13:22) where he is called a man after God’s own heart.
Although some people have no place for music in their lives, the vast majority of human beings are affected by a good tune with moving words. In the music and poetry of the Bible, the words are more than moving. They proclaim the wonders of God himself. They reveal to us the God who made us, the God who loves us; the God who died to take away our sins, rose to life again, and will raise us on the last day to eternal life.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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