Psalm 28 has three parts. Its first and longest part is a prayer of petition to the Lord. The second part is a prayer of fervent thanksgiving, with David possibly responding to a prophetic oracle assuring him that his prayer has been heard by the Lord. The third part is a recognition by David that salvation is not just personal but for all the people.
At the beginning of the psalm, we see David taking refuge in the Temple, indeed, in its deepest sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant is held. He is overcome by the stress of the wickedness that surrounds him and his psalm here is a lament to God that he not be punished along with those who are headed inevitably toward their own destruction. He petitions God to hear his earnest prayer, to not be silent, but to answer him. We hear in his words true fear, real pleading. He is lifting up his hands to God to be protected from those who “speak peace, but have evil in their hearts.” (verse 3) He asks God to, “Repay them for their deeds, for the evil that they do.” (verse 4)
Have we not found ourselves praying in this manner at times? There are many times in our lives where we feel threatened by the often unreasonable wickedness that comes our way. Have we not been desperate, like David, for God’s help, and pleaded for his protection, needing him to hear us in our troubles? We, like David, pray this way because, in faith, we know that the Lord is our needed rock, our strong shield against the sea of troubles that the world can bring against us. We can go into the holy of holies of each of our hearts and pray these earnest prayers, believing that he will hear them and come to our aid. Indeed, David finds comfort there in the the Temple’s holy of holies. God does hear his prayer, so his heart bursts with joy and he sings out his prayer of thanksgiving, “The Lord is my strength and my shield in whom my heart trusts. I am helped, so my heart rejoices; with my song I praise him.” This is our natural response to God when we realize that he has answered our prayers. When our confidence in God, our trust, is confirmed by God’s graceful help, we can not help but to burst out in songs of praise. Our hearts soar on the wings of joy.
The final realization of the psalm is that the salvation that David has been praying for is not just for him, but for the whole people. He sings, “Save your people, bless your inheritance, pasture and carry them forever!” David could not know what we do now. He yearned for the Messiah. Thanks be to God in Christ Jesus, we have seen the Messiah, and he has saved us all. Jesus has delivered us from sin and death, once and for all, forever. Because of this, we have even greater reason than David to sing our joyful thanks to God. He has shown us, personally, that he is our rock and our shield.
Lord, We believe, help our unbelief. There is much that we fear in this world, but in you we have our courage and our strength. In you alone do we find the refuge we seek. Hear our prayers and answer them, for we are in great need of your gracious help. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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