The Song of Zion
“A Psalter–Psalm Devotional of Praise to Our Sovereign Covenant God”
May 15 Read I Samuel 21:10-15; Psalm 56:1, 2
The heading of this Psalm directs our attention to the time when David fled from his enemy Saul to Gath. In Gath he quickly realized that they were dangerous enemies of his as well. All David can see is his enemies. It would appear to him as though they surrounded him with gaping mouths ready to swallow him up. They are ever present. Their hate is constant. They watch from morning to night. Do you see the enemy standing around you every day from morn to night? Do you know your sinful human nature? Do you recognize the devil with his innumerable devices for temping you and leading you away from the way of life? Do you see all these things along with wicked men waiting with gaping mouths? We need not fear. We should fear if all looks well to us. May we like David call upon God to be merciful, look down upon us and deliver us from certain death. Sing Psalter 151:1; 153:1.
May 16 Read Luke 12:1-7; Psalm 56:3, 4
The world likes to boast about having no fear. We see the words “No Fear” on T-shirts and bumper stickers. But fearlessness is nothing to brag about, especially for those who trust in themselves. Often the T-shirt reveals one who is blind to the reality of eternal punishment in hell. If you are spiritually alive, you will see many spiritual enemies all around and you will be afraid. Often we are even afraid of those men, diseases, or accidents that could kill the body. When you are afraid, what do you do? Do you increase your insurance coverage? Do you save up more money? David says, “I will put my trust in God.” Our Lord also reveals to us that we are children of God and always under his watchful eye. May we put our trust in him Who has redeemed us. What a comfort this is in times of fear. Let us sing his praises. Sing Psalter 151:2; 152:1; 153:2.
May 17 Read Luke 11:45-54; Psalm 56:5-7
They meet, they lurk, they watch. This has been the activity of Satan and his hosts since the fall of Adam. The wicked devote their whole life to the overthrow of God and his people. David experienced this oppression very intensely day after day. Christ reveals the activity as it has continued since the days of Adam and Eve and then felt as never before the intense pressure of Satan through the scribes and Pharisees as they spent their energy trying to trap Jesus. As with many of the saints before, the enemies of the church resorted to twisting Jesus’ words in order to condemn and find fault with him. This pressure has only increased since then and will continue to increase. Today false shepherds take the word of God and twist it in order to lead many astray. They meet and lurk to destroy the church. Do not be afraid to call the judgment of God upon those who seek to destroy the church. Let us sing these words from the heart. Sing Psalter 151:3.
May 18 Read Hebrews 11:32-12:3; Psalm 56:8, 9
Life may appear to us altogether as aimless wandering. Just when things begin to go smoothly and the future looks bright, God sends us off in another uncertain direction. When we consider all the sorrows and trials of the people of God today and throughout the history of the world, we can’t begin to comprehend the overall plan of God for the salvation of his church. But God does have a plan. He reveals to us in the book of Hebrews that all these were led down the one path of the promised Messiah. They walked by faith. They are to us a cloud of witnesses. God watched over them each step of the way, and he watches over us. Every tear is important and God, as it were, keeps them in a bottle. “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Sing Psalter 151:4.
May 19 Read Hebrews 6:11-20; Psalm 56:10, 11
The words of men are full of lies, but God cannot lie. His word is sure. David was inspired to praise the very word of his covenant God Jehovah. What is the word of God? It is the promise of deliverance and salvation from sin. The more we see the bondage of our sin and feel our alienation from God, the more precious the word of God becomes. The word of God is our strong consolation. We flee to the word to lay hold of the hope which is an anchor for our soul. We cannot have the blessed hope in God’s word if we do not diligently read his word and listen to it carefully each Lord’s Day. What a blessing it is to hear the true word of God. May we never despise the preaching. May we praise the word of grace. Sing Psalter 151:5.
May 20 Read 1 Samuel 1; Psalm 56:12, 13
The vow of a wise believer is a beautiful confession. The vow often arises from the heart which sees the greatness of the debt owed to God. Hannah knew only God could give her a child, and she expressed her profound knowledge of the covenant promises in a vow to give her child for service to God. Sometimes foolish vows are made or sinful pride creeps in to make one regret a vow. God tells us it is better not to make a vow at all than to make one and break it. The sinner who comes to a realization of his sin and the greatness of his salvation is filled with a desire to walk in a life of thankful obedience. He wants to confess before God and the church this desire that has been worked by God’s grace and promise to walk in a life of obedience in Christ. This is not a foolish vow if we truly know that it is only by God’s grace that we can keep it. May the youth of our churches come to a certain knowledge of their salvation and cheerfully make confession of their faith. Sing Psalter 151:6; 152:5; 153:3, 4.
May 21 Read Ruth 2; Psalm 57:1
The heading of this Psalm instructs us that David was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write these words when he fled from Saul to the cave. He was being hunted down and pictured the life of every child of God as we are stalked day and night by Satan. As with the previous Psalm, David pleads to God for his mercy. David acknowledges that he is helpless and in need of the sovereign Ruler over all. He compares himself to a helpless, naked, baby bird that will quickly die unless it is sheltered under the wings of its mother. This beautiful picture is also used to describe the situation of Ruth the Moabitess. By the grace of God she left her life of sin and was welcomed into the nest of Israel. May we also humbly seek Jehovah God and welcome those who are led to our churches. Sing Psalter 154:1.
May 22 Read Hebrews 13:15-21; Psalm 57:2
As David cries out to God for deliverance, he brings to mind the various names of God and his works. In verse 2 he calls upon “God that performeth all things for me.” In the reading from Hebrews we have one of the many teachings of God concerning the work of salvation within his people. No matter where in Scripture you find instruction concerning our salvation, we learn that it is by sovereign grace alone. This does not make us passive robots as some who know not the Scriptures would have us believe. The God that saves by sovereign grace also makes his people free and willing servants whose will is knit with the will of God. The relationship surpasses our comprehension, but we begin to enjoy it now in this life. Sing Psalter 154:2.
May 23 Read Matthew 28:1-15; Psalm 57:3, 4
David describes the enemy that surrounds him in most graphic and terrible pictures. He is on the verge of being destroyed. If we bring before our mind the scene at the tomb of Jesus on Friday night and Saturday, we see the dead body of Jesus surrounded by wicked scornful soldiers commissioned by wicked rulers. It would appear as though after years of trying to kill the servants of Jehovah, they finally killed the Lord’s Anointed. But then and once and for all God sent from heaven his mercy and truth. Jesus arose from the grave and conquered death to give salvation to all his people. The enemies trembled with fear and the work of Christ on earth was finished. We still face the enemy, but we have hope in the reality that death has in principle been destroyed. The enemy is yet very real. The Psalms are often very vivid in describing the wicked. I fear that Satan and his hosts are working hard to disguise their true nature today. Too often things do not seem so bad. It is so important for us to read the Psalms that we might gain a true picture of reality and pray for deliverance. Sing Psalter 154:3.
May 24 Read Isaiah 2:1-17; Psalm 57:5
In everything, even in our sufferings of persecution and the haughty boastings of the wicked, God is glorified. The glory of God is the end and purpose of all things. He is the creator of all. He has fashioned each one of us for his own glory. We are foolish to think that we deserve some glory. The glory of God is the purpose of our entire life. When our pride seeps into our thinking, it is impossible to give God glory. We become jealous and feel that we are worthy of something better than to exalt another. When we are humbled and see how great our sins are, how unworthy we are in ourselves, how dependent we are upon God, then we begin to glorify God. David gives God glory in this section of the Psalm which reveals his great danger and the rescue of God. David again sings praise to God at the end of Psalter 155. Sing Psalter 154:4 and may the words resound in your heart today.
May 25 Read 1 Samuel 23:14-29; Psalm 57:6
David had fled from place to place while Saul sought to kill him. Now he was under the cover of the forest in the wilderness and mountains of Ziph. Even here, the inhabitants of the land offered their assistance to Saul by spying on David so they would be able to set up a trap; and David is grieved. During this time God sent Jonathan to encourage and strengthen David, and David was able by faith to write in the same verse that his enemies would surely fall into their traps. David was unable to gather with the congregation in worship at this time. Sometimes in our afflictions we also are unable to gather for worship. Let us give thanks for the friends and family which God gives to us as means to strengthen our faith in times of need. Sing Psalter 155:1.
May 26 Read Romans 5:1-8; Psalm 57:7
What a comfort and joy it is to see the evidence of God’s grace working in the saint who suffers tribulation and is able to glory in tribulation. God revealed to Paul that tribulation worketh patience, and David experienced this patience in a steadfast heart. Though his life was in turmoil his heart was fixed. He had hope in God and the hope made him unashamed to sing praise to God. A song in the midst of tribulation is a work of God’s grace. Paul and Silas sang in prison. The elderly saint who lies on the bed of affliction and barely responds to any stimulation can burst into clear and joyful songs of praise to God. Apart from God, man responds to tribulation with bitterness. “It’s not fair,” they cry. But in Christ we have a hope that wells up in song, and God gives us songs to sing in these times of tribulation. Sing Psalter 155:2.
May 27 Read Acts 2:22-36; Psalm 57:8-10
Why does the child of God sing in times of distress? Why does David glory in tribulation? David confesses that the song is because the mercies of God and his truth is exalted even to the clouds. We learn from the light of the New Testament that the mercy and truth which David saw was salvation in Christ. In Christ is fulfilled the hope of every child of God from Adam to the end of the world. In Christ we see that tribulation is the means whereby we are drawn into fellowship with God. Knowing our sins and the misery which results from sin, we sing in thankfulness to God for deliverance. Let us pray for a right understanding of trials and tribulation that we might sing praise unto God, and even rise early with the Psalms in our heart. Sing Psalter 155:3.
May 28 Read Matthew 6:9-13; Psalm 57:11
Again as in verse 5 David gives glory to God. We can sing the same Psalm at the end of Psalter 154 and 155. Giving such praise to God is the purpose for which we were created. God so directs every detail of our lives that we are led to sing forth these words of David. Our Lord also instructed us to give glory to God in prayer. In the beginning of the Lord’s prayer we acknowledge the holiness of God’s name and we pray that the will of God be accomplished in his kingdom. Then we make our petitions, not because we want to be satisfied in ourselves, but because we desire to be fit for God’s praise. The prayer ends “for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.” In all the details of our life and the petitions for earthly needs, we must always have in mind the reason why we ask these things: that we might glorify God. Sing Psalter 154 & 155:4.
May 29 Read John 11:47-53; Psalm 58:1-5
God directs our attention in this Psalm to the wicked and his judgment upon them. They appear to seek justice and truth, but their hearts are set upon their own agendas and sinful pride. They are compared to a poisonous snake that bites and will not be charmed. Unlike the thinking of the world which says that wickedness is learned in bad environments, the inspired Psalmist reveals that they are born wicked. We are all conceived and born in sin. There is no such thing as an innocent baby. The corrupt natures we have at birth would develop until we were like the wicked hypocrites that condemned Jesus were it not for the power of God’s grace alone. We have nothing to boast about in ourselves. We are saved by the blood of Christ alone. Sing Psalter 156:1, 2.
May 30 Read Luke 9:54-56; I John 3:1-9; Psalm 58:6-9
David cried out to God that he would destroy his enemies. He called upon God to break their teeth, make them melt away, cut them to pieces with arrows, and whisk them away in the whirlwind of his wrath. But when the disciples of Jesus wanted to call fire down from heaven to destroy those who would not receive them into their village, Jesus rebuked them. Has God changed from being a God of wrath to a God of love? No, God has not changed. God will certainly come to destroy the wicked, and were it not for salvation in Christ, everyone in the world would be destroyed in God’s wrath. God has been pleased in his eternal council to reveal the full spectrum of his attributes from wrath to love in the way of saving those whom he has chosen from among those whom he will destroy. Let us pray that God’s will be done and sing praises to him who does all things righteously. Sing Psalter 156:3.
May 31 Read Revelation 11:1-18; Psalm 58:10-11
David is inspired during this time of persecution to write concerning the victory of Christ over the seed of the serpent. When Christ returns to gather his elect into heaven and cast the wicked into hell, all will confess that God is just and righteous in all that he does. Then we will see as never before that all the schemes and grand empires of the wicked were in the hands of God to serve his people. We will not rejoice because the injustice done to us has been punished, but because all those who were filled with hatred against God and blasphemed his name will have been justly condemned. Our songs of praise will be directed to God because he is God and accomplishes all his good pleasure. Sing Psalter 156:4.
Devotional by John Huizenga
Reprinted from June 1998.
Watching Daily At My Gates
The Song of Zion
“A Psalter–Psalm Devotional of Praise to Our Sovereign Covenant God”
June 1-9 Devotionals from Psalter #157: “A Cry for Help”
June 1 Read Psalm 59, noting verses 1 and 2; Read and sing Psalter 157:1
This psalm and song versify David’s thoughts when Saul sent men to watch his house to kill him. Notice that his first thought in response to his fear is to call on God. As we walk close to God that is our immediate reaction also to fear and turmoil in our lives. In this safe country we rarely face life-threatening danger and we become self-satisfied and confident. He is our only security and provider, but sinfully we always look to our own strength and the power of money or prestige to take care of us. If praying is our last solution when other hopes have failed, we aren’t walking with God as we should. Today focus on thinking of God as your only answer to every trouble. Pray to keep him first in your thoughts! By looking to him first your human efforts will be directed rightly.
June 2 Read Ephesians 6 especially verses 10–12, Psalm 59:3, 4, and Psalter 157:2
In the second verse of this song, the enemy is surrounding David to capture him. We have outwardly peaceful lives, but when we as individuals and as a church stand up for the truth and reject sin we feel the pressure of hatred building against us too. We may someday experience being surrounded by those who are against us because we won’t accept their lies. We need to be willing to be embarrassed and uncomfortable today when it would be easy to compromise our beliefs just a little to keep “peace” and not draw attention to ourselves. But doing that makes us guilty of lying. Also don’t neglect constructive criticism of your friends in the church. Pray for courage!
June 3 Read Romans 12:14-21, Psalm 59:5 and Psalter 157:3
David is justly angry against his false accusers, and he calls on God to take vengeance. We shouldn’t sympathize with those living unrepentantly in sin. We must condemn their actions, and pray that wickedness will be punished. But God is the judge and he alone punishes sin (except as he gives us authority.) Our calling is to continue to act in love even to our enemies, not to bring justice by making others suffer. When we “get back” in our petty little ways to those who don’t quite please us, we are defending our own pride, not God’s glory. Trust God to deal with the faults of others. Often forgiving your own family is the hardest of all! Pray for grace to work for the good of the neighbor even when you feel attacked.
June 4 Read Psalm 2:1-6, Psalm 59:6-8 and Psalter 157:4
David’s enemies continue their attack. He is steadily hopeful in God and doesn’t lose faith when they seem to be succeeding. The wicked are openly violent, ridiculing the good and trying to drag it down. Today we see our nation has turned aside from the true God and imagine they are powerful and self-sufficient. God scorns their feeble insults. They think God won’t see their evil, but they will someday stand in judgment. In your life do you preserve God’s holiness with your words? Speak respectfully–God hears you!
June 5 Read Psalm 37, especially verses 7-9, Psalm 59:9, 10, and Psalter 157:5
David is confident, knowing God is his defense. He has no hope in man’s power, only in God’s mercy. Much in this Psalm makes us look ahead to the persecution we may experience in the end times. We, like David, need to be firmly grounded in God and his promises so we can withstand those trials. And of course we need to live today, as every day, in strong faith. Is God your refuge and renewal? Or do you flee to the TV to unwind each day, or escape in other recreation? Like David, look to him as your source of strength. He won’t let you down. When we acknowledge him first and center our thoughts on spiritual things we are set high above our spiritual enemies of doubt and temptation.
June 6 Read Psalm 93, Psalm 59:11-13 and Psalter 157:6
David calls on God to bring down his enemies for their lies, knowing that in the end all will recognize God’s rule and will worship. We can cling also to that certain knowledge that God will have the final victory. In this age of tolerance even the worst crimes are hardly punished so wickedness grows. But God has the proud wicked in derision, and those who live in sin will reap the rewards. They will be trapped in their own pride, because when God is denied all meaning is lost! God reigns—praise him!
June 7 Read Psalm 2:7-12, Psalm 59:13-16, and Psalter 157:7
Those who hate God will be consumed in his anger. They will suffer for their sin and will acknowledge that he rules. By trusting God and continuing to speak the truth, we render the attacks of the wicked useless. Their ultimate goal is to “get us off our pedestal” and join them in sin. We are strong because God is our strength. Notice this is also a picture of our constant spiritual fight against our own sinful nature. As soon as we try to save ourselves we fall, but keeping our eyes on him we can’t waver!
June 8 Read Psalm 3, Psalm 59:13-16, and Psalter 157:8
David looks beyond the turmoil before his eyes and is confident that a new day will dawn. This is a small picture of heaven where we will rest and praise God after the darkness of this world. In this life we fail continually, and often as we see sin grow and flourish in us and around us we can lose faith and be discouraged. Take his attitude of hope and look past your frustrations of work today! Never doubt God’s sovereignty! When doubts take hold in your mind look to the Scriptures and Psalms like this one to remind you of his eternal care.
June 9 Read Psalm 100, Psalm 59:16, 17, and Psalter 157:9
The last verse is David’s response of thanks and praise to God. Many psalms end with this theme, and the Heidelberg catechism also sets the pattern of thankfulness as the final step in the lifelong process of realizing our salvation. This is also our natural response to all the little victories we experience when we don’t give in to temptation and uphold the truth. Most of all it is our constant expression in every action of life. We have true joy in our salvation, God’s victory in our heart. We can always trust God’s steadfast love. A chief means of praise is songs such as this Psalm. Pray to realize this joy and respond with praise.
Devotionals by Beth De Vries June 10-17
June 10 Read Psalm 60
We often feel that God has turned his back on us and is not attentive to our requests. It seems that we think that we deserve some attention from God. In reality all that we receive is a free and gracious gift. We turn our backs to God and his appointed way and then wonder why he seems so far from us. God may become displeased with us and angry when we disobey him continually as he did with the people in the Old Testament. We find an example of this in Numbers 11 when Israel murmured about the manna. Yet, God truly loves his people and will restore them to his favor again, not by any merit of theirs, but by his working of grace in our hearts. Sing Psalter 158:1.
June 11 Read Job 38:1-15
God has created the heavens and earth in all its glory. He controls them for at his command the mountains shake and the earth is moved. In Job 38, Job is challenged by God for his doubt of God’s faithfulness. God reminds Job that the triune God alone was present at the beginning and he alone rules the world and all therein. In the second stanza of Psalter 158 we read of God bringing his judgments upon the earth and we find the psalmist begging for God to renew the strength of the land that she not become destroyed by man’s own wickedness. Sing Psalm 158:2.
June 12 Read Proverbs 3:1-12
We find ourselves in trials and difficult situations frequently in this life. Maybe today you have already faced a difficult situation or are afflicted by some ailment. Many times God gives us these trials to strengthen our faith and to lead us closer to him. Our lives seem to be filled with despair and disappointment especially when we focus on our earthly life. The third stanza of Psalter 158 reminds us that God has led his people into these difficult and bitter times. Proverbs 3:11-12 also teaches us that God uses chastisement and trials to correct and build up those whom he loves. May we find comfort in this and not become discouraged as we sing stanza 3 of Psalter 158.
June 13 Read Psalm 107:1-8
“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” This is the truth that Psalm 107 calls us to proclaim to all the world. We have been given grace and a great inner happiness. May this spirit flow freely from us. God commands us to show his truth to all those that we meet and have contact. God’s gracious love for us should cause us to proclaim our blessing to everyone. We know that God has his elect people but we know not who they are; therefore, we must proclaim the banner of his truth to the world. They should be able to see not only by our words but also by our actions that we are filled with the love of God in our hearts. May we be known as a people who display this banner. Make a special effort today to show to a neighbor or stranger the love God has given us. Sing Psalter 158:4.
June 14 Read Deut. 7:6-11
The truth of God’s eternal election is brought to light again in stanza 5 as well as the passage which we read in Deuteronomy. This passage shows us that God has not chosen us by our own merits or because we are such great people. Rather we have been chosen and preserved by him because he set his love upon us and has promised to care for us. We are called to keep God’s commandments in thankfulness for what he has done for us. The theme is the same in the fifth stanza of Psalter 158 where the psalmist speaks of God saving his beloved from their foes. Our help comes from the Lord’s almighty hand especially when we ask this of him. May we bring our needs and troubles to the Lord that he may defeat our enemies and make us strong. Sing Psalter 158:5.
June 15 Read Psalm 60:6-8, Psalm 2
The rulers of this world think themselves to be great and plot against the people of God to harm Christ. They foolishly think that they can break the bands of God’s anointed. God triumphs over the wicked with ease, and puts them in derision. He even goes so far as to laugh at the wicked. He shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. God shall have the wicked bow to him in the judgment day and acknowledge that he is God alone. God accomplishes this defeat of the wicked by the death, resurrection, ascension and second coming of his only begotten Son, as is seen in Psalm 2:5-7. Sing Psalter 158:6.
June 16 Read Romans 7:12-25
We are often overcome with our sins in this world. The old man of sin wars in our flesh with our new man of righteousness. It seems at times as though the old man is winning the battle and we will soon be completely wicked. The good that we seek to do we appear to be unable to do, and the evil, we are too willing to do. This passage in Romans reminds us of how difficult the battle is even for those who seem strong in their faith as Paul was. Psalter 158:7 refers to the strongholds of sin when we are about overcome in the battle. Who will guide us in these sinful times? God will be our guide and lead us from our tents of sin. He will cast off the devil and our enemies and give us the victory that his name may be praised. Sing Psalter 158:7.
June 17 Read Isaiah 12
As was discussed yesterday God is our sure help against the foe in time of trouble. It is God that will comfort us and lead us in the right way. This has been the theme throughout this Psalter and Psalm and it is ever so important for us to remember. We must always put our trust in God and not rely on our own strength or that of man. When we learn obedience to God’s will for our lives, we also find patience and contentment. Isaiah 12:5 is good for us to remember as we study the Psalms “Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.” Sing Psalter 158:8.