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The Song of Zion (June Devotional)

A Psalter-Psalm Devotional of Praise to Our Sovereign Covenant God

 

June 1 Psalm 20:1-2 Psalter 43:1; 44:1, 2

Do you pray for others? Do you pray on behalf of the church and the kingdom of Christ? David instructed the people how to pray for himself as the king over the people of God, and Christ is teaching us today in this verse how to pray on behalf of the church which Christ presently gathers and preserves. Literally we read and sing “May Jehovah hear thee.” May Jehovah hear David, and today “may Jehovah hear Christ,” the reality of David. “Since Christ our King, being an everlasting priest, never ceases to make intercession with God, the whole body of the Church should unite in prayer with him; and farther, we can have no hope of being heard except he go before us and conduct us to God” (Calvin’s Commentary). Let us pray knowing that our Lord Jesus Christ knows the troubles and needs of His Church, and pray to the name of the God of Jacob, “Jehovah,” “our fathers’ God,” our covenant-keeping God,” as the Psalter reads. We can not know His holy essence, but we know Him by His work within our heart and His mighty acts in history.

 

June 2 Psalm 20:2,3 Psalter 43:2; 44:3

Uniting in prayer with Christ we pray “May Jehovah remember thy sacrifice on the cross.” The idea of “remember” is “to have regard to.” May Jehovah show that the King’s sacrifice is acceptable to Him. Before going out to battle, king David would have sacrifices offered up to God, and God would manifest that He received the sacrifice in the way of victory. Christ offered Himself up once to cleanse the people of God and bring victory forever over death and sin. The “selah” calls us to pause and meditate upon the wonder of the cross of Christ, and lift up our eyes to the glorious fruits of salvation. We pray that Jehovah would grant the desire of Christ’s heart which is in harmony with the eternal counsel of God: to save His people and set Christ over them forever as King. The word of God saying “this is my Son in whom I am well pleased,” and the fact of Christ’s resurrection and ascension come to us as an answer to this prayer. We are saved indeed.

 

June 3 Psalm 20:5 Psalter 43:3; 44:4

The people of God sang the song of victory in faith, before the battle was won, how much more ought we who live in the day of victory sing the song of triumph! The song of Zion, though often a song of sorrow, is always sung in faith and ends in joy and triumph. Do you rejoice in God’s salvation? There are many who imagine they can rejoice in their “decision for Christ.” There are others who come to church with a long face of boredom because they do not engage in the spiritual battle and therefore do not know the joy of victory in Christ. God is pleased to lift His people up in joy in the way of continuous warfare and battles against sin within our own lives, as well as within the church. In this way, the name of God receives all the praise and glory in Christ.

 

June 4 Psalm 20:6 Psalter 43:4

“Now I know.” These are the bold words of an assured confidence. The church united as one body says “now I know that Jehovah saveth His anointed.” How does she know? God works it in His people by the power of His Spirit in the way of earnest prayer and opening their eyes to His word and faithfulness to His people in the past. The people of God, knowing that God has been faithful in the past, and seeing that God has anointed one to be King, knows that God will complete His kingdom. The church, with Paul, is “confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). Do you know that the LORD saveth his anointed? Come to His house, pray with the saints, and He will work that confidence in your heart.

 

June 5 Psalm 20:7 Psalter 43:5

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who trust in human help and those who trust in God. There is no such thing as getting some help from men, and some help from God. Either you put all your trust in God, or all your trust in men. You are either an unbeliever, or a believer. The believer understands that he needs help from fellow men and the inventions of men in order to fulfill his calling to work in this earth, and he recognizes that these things are limited to this earth. When it comes to knowing how he must use these things and conduct his life, he puts all his trust in God’s word. God’s word directs him in all things toward the goal of eternal life with God. “How vain their ev’ry confidence who on mere human help rely.”

 

June 6 Psalm 20:8, 9 Psalter 43:6

Those who trust in man may seem at first to stand and prosper well while those who trust in God may be afflicted with suffering and poverty. But our King reigns and all things in this world are serving His people in that all things work together for their salvation. In the judgment day, those who trust in men and stand tall in this earth will be sent to hell, while those who lay humbly before God will be lifted up and exalted to everlasting glory. Jesus, our exalted Lord and King will be in the judgment seat. Let us come to our King who has been given all power and authority to bring the people of God into heaven and pray for deliverance from the sin and misery of this life.

 

June 7 Psalm 21

Notice the titles of the next few numbers in the Psalter. They speak of Christ, the cross, the spreading of the gospel, the dominion of Christ, and in number 58, the ascension of Christ. At the time the Holy Spirit inspired David to write these Psalms, the words of Psalm 20 and 21 express the people of God as they come before God with matters that concern the welfare of their king. They pray for victory in war, they praise God with thanksgiving and hope in victory. The people rally around their king and look to him for deliverance from the enemy nations that surround them. The people are united under their king. As we noticed in the previous Psalm, the kinship of David is a type of Christ’s kingship. Read Psalm 21 and think of Christ each time you read “king.” Think of Christ during the time of His temptation in the wilderness. Hum the tunes of Psalter 45 and 46 and scan the words.

 

June 8 Psalm 21:1 Psalter 46:1

Just as David was overwhelmed with joy when God so strengthened him that he was able to conquer the enemies and bring peace to the people of God, so Jesus our Lord and King rejoiced greatly when Jehovah God strengthened Him to defeat Satan in the wilderness and conquer death on the cross. Notice the emphasis on the strength given by God. David lived in close fellowship with God, knowing that God was using him as a mere instrument to give peace to His people. David gave God all the glory. Though Jesus is God, He needed to be strengthened by God in His human nature. David was close to God, but Jesus is God and man in one person. Jesus needed to be very man and very God “that he might, by the power of his Godhead, sustain in his human nature the burden of God’s wrath; and might obtain for, and restore to us, righteousness and life” (HC LD 6).

 

June 9 Psalm 21:2 Psalter 45:1

The king was filled with joy because God had “filled his heart’s desire” (Psalter). Christ’s desire is directed only to God’s glory in the way of the salvation of His people. We, the people of God, must pay close attention to the work of Christ our king just as the people gathered around David to hear him pray to God and speak to them of God. We must see that we do not stand alone as individuals praying to God, but we stand as a body united in Christ our King. We must hear the word together, and our prayers united in Christ who intercedes for us. “We may gather hence the very profitable doctrine, that we need entertain no apprehension that God will reject our prayers in behalf of the church, since our heavenly King has gone before us in making intercession for her, so that in praying for her we are only endeavouring to follow his example” (Calvin Commentary).

 

June 10 Psalm 21:3 Psalter 46:2

To “prevent” in this verse means “to give prior to the request in anticipation of the request, and to give more abundantly than the request.” Psalter 46:2 reads “Thy blessings meet Him on His ways.” The idea is that when one sets out down a road to get something he wants, that thing comes to meet him before he covers the whole distance. We find an example of this in Solomon who asked for wisdom and was given riches, wealth, and honor in addition to wisdom. Christ Himself is wisdom, and He, living in perfect harmony with the will of God, receives all His desire, even the salvation of God’s people, because all these things have been forever in the eternal counsel of God. Christ does not make Himself king, but He is anointed and crowned by God. His rule and dominion is the fulfillment of God’s eternal counsel. Pray that Christ would rule in your heart to make you obedient today.

 

June 11 Psalm 21:4 Psalter 45:2

Life is dear to the living creature. Life brings us into fellowship with the living God. David prayed that God would spare his life in the battle, and God gave him length of days for ever and ever. This life forever is not limited only to David and his eternal life of salvation, but this life is the continuing royal generations of David that end in the birth of Jesus. In Christ the continued earthly life in generations was fulfilled in the eternal life earned on the cross. Note how in this verse also, God receives all the glory. He is the only source of life. God gave eternal life to His Son, and it is in Christ alone that we receive eternal life.

 

June 12 Psalm 21:5 Psalter 46:3

The earthly king and kingdom receives its glory, riches, treasures, glamour and glitter from his own wisdom, resources, and conquests. Borneo is an extremely wealthy nation in the east which glitters with gold and wealth gotten from rich oil resources. The earthly glory of Solomon’s kingdom was beyond comprehension. Yet the people, watching the kingdom grow in glory, did not say “look at what David is doing,” but rather confessed that the glory of David was great in the salvation and deliverance which God had given. The believing Israelites “set more value upon this, that God graciously showed himself favorable towards their king, than upon all the triumphs of the world” (Calvin). Do you value God’s favor upon His only begotten Son more than earthly gains?

 

June 13 Psalm 21:6 Psalter 45:3

The King, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is filled with joy as He reigns over all things and draws His people as lost sheep into the fold. He has joy because God, His heavenly Father looks upon Him in favor. The word “gladden” comes from a word the nomads used meaning “to cheer the beasts of burden with a song and urge them on to a quicker pace.” In general it means “to cheer, enliven.” There is no more desirable state than to cheerful and at peace. May we be encouraged in this life of sin and sorrow knowing that Christ rules in joyful victory bringing the children of God to know and love God in this life, and preserving them to the end.

 

June 14 Psalm 21:7 Psalter 45:4; 46:4

Trust in Jehovah, our covenant God, is an essential ingredient to joy and peace. David was a mighty king, but he did not put his trust in his own strength and imagine himself to be the greatest. Within the intimate, joyful fellowship of the triune God, Christ the King who reigns supreme finds the source of His strength in the faithful covenant promise of God to save His people in mercy. Our God is a faithful God. May we ever put our trust in Him. Though God’s plan for our life appear at times to be so confusing, strange, or difficult, we must remember that God is merciful and faithful. We can not begin to fathom the depth of His wisdom and counsel. May we find comfort in Christ who took upon Him the sins of His people and now stands in joyous victory before the favorable countenance of God.

 

June 15 Psalm 21:8-11 Psalter 45:5

Christ reigns victorious, but He continues to deliver His people from the enemy. As we daily struggle against sin and the attacks of Satan to make us doubt and grow weak in faith, we are assured that the hand of our King will “find out those that hate thee.” Those who hate us hate Christ. God does not bring complete destruction now, but waits for the day appointed when all the elect are born and drawn into fellowship with God. Then God will destroy with fire every being that stands opposed to His holy will. Until then we lay our eyes upon Christ through the reading of the Word, prayer, and hearing the preaching of faithful ministers.

 

June 16 Psalm 21:12-13 Psalter 45:6

The glory of God is the goal of all things. When we experience the work of God within our hearts to turn us away from sin unto humble repentance, we respond in songs of praise. The way of sin and deliverance is the way of glory to God. The way of Satan and his devils is the way of exalting the creature in proud rebellion. Yet all that is evil is creaturely and not God. God will surely smash the rebellious uprising with haste and completely. By nature we are totally depraved, inclined in all things to exalt ourselves, but the renewed child of God is completely changed. He sees his great sin, he repents, he is turned toward God, and he sings and praises the power of God.

 

June 17 Psalm 22:1,2 Psalter 47:1 (1 Samuel 23:25ff)

This Psalm is the psalm of the cross. Psalm 21:6 reveals the highest joy of Christ and, in contrast, the first verse of Psalm 22 reveals the greatest depth of misery ever experienced. This Psalm was written by David under the persecution by Saul. Just as David had to traverse a path of suffering before ascending the throne, so Jesus had to suffer on the cross before His glorious ascension to the throne of heaven. The cry of this verse expresses alienation and yearning. He feels himself rejected of God, the feeling of God’s wrath completely surrounds him, yet behind that wrath is felt by faith the hidden love of God. No one ever felt the oppressing wrath of His God more fully than Christ as he bore the punishment of our sins. (Mark 15:34 and context).

 

June 18 Psalm 22:3-4 Psalter 47:2

We will never find peace outside of the church. For a time, David was separated from the people of God while being hunted down by Saul, and the lack of fellowship and communion with God in church was draining his spiritual strength. Instead of becoming bitter toward God, He began to meditate upon God as He had revealed Himself. God did not change, He is holy and unchangeable. He is pleased to bless His people by means of the church. He is pleased to be “enthroned upon Thy people’s praise.” David was out of place and he found comfort looking forward to the day when he could be reunited with the people of God. Let us remember the needs of the small congregations. Let us never think we can stand on our own outside of the church institute.

 

June 19 Psalm 22:5-6 Psalter 47:3

David confesses God’s faithfulness to his fathers, yet he feels utterly despised and begs for God’s mercy. Begging for mercy can be humiliating and degrading. If two are fighting and one pins the other down so that escape is impossible, the victor can further exalt himself at the expense of the loser by forcing out all sorts of pitiful pleas for mercy. All the loser can do is humble himself in hopes of stirring up some pity. The rebellion of Satan, his fallen angels, and fallen man was crushed by God when He spoke to Adam and Eve, but man was so depraved and lifted up in pride that he will never humble himself before God and repent. Satan and all who fall with him would rather perish in hell than turn back to God. But God in love for His chosen sent His only begotten Son who humbled Himself to death on the cross to earn the power and right of turning the hearts of the elect back to God. May we be humble in Christ and confess our unworthiness to be saved.

 

June 20 Psalm 22:7,8 Psalter 47:4

These very words were said of Jesus when He hung upon the cross (Matthew 27: 3 9-43). He suffered the most bitter shame and humility before man. To stick out the lower lip is, in the East, considered a very strong show of contempt. Shaking the head is a gesture of surprise and astonishment at something strange and unexpected. You know the feeling when someone takes your own words or actions, twists or exaggerates them, and then expresses to everyone around their astonishment at such stupidity. We lash out at those who mock us even for things we do that are really foolish. Christ was willing to give up every shred of human dignity out of obedience to His Father. They pretended to love God and charged Him with hypocrisy. When others revile us and cast our sins before our face, we must be ready to come before God with humble prayer imploring God’s forgiveness in Christ.

 

June 21 Psalm 22:9-10 Psalter 47:5

Under the terrible attacks of the wicked David puts up a fortress of defense by proclaiming the miracle of his conception, birth, and trust in the Lord from his youth. Conception and birth is a wonder of God. We easily grow accustomed to the birth of children and Calvin writes “if ingratitude did not put upon our eyes the veil of stupidity, we would be ravished with admiration at every childbirth in the world.” David is able, in this time of affliction, to think upon the shepherd hand of God shown to him by his godly mother who raised him in the fear of God. You can be very thankful if God has been pleased to bring you into a godly home from birth and take you to be His child. Let us also remember the miracle of Christ’s birth and the wonder of God with man in our times of weak faith.

 

June 22 Psalm 22:11 Psalter 47:6

When we see ourselves as we really are in ourselves before God: dead in trespasses and sins, then we humbly confess “there is none to help me.” We do not look for help in our own ideas and philosophies about how to find peace and happiness. We do not muster up our own courage to stand up and come forth to the altar and accept Christ. We simply pray that God will come near and strengthen. The Psalter reads “O let thy strength and presence cheer.” God alone, by bringing Himself near and drawing us is able to strengthen our faith. In those times when all we can pray is “O God help me,” let us do it with the assurance that God will help.

 

June 23 Psalm 22:12-14

David compares his enemies to huge bulls and lions that charge at him from all sides with horns lowered and long teeth bared. Who would not tremble at this nightmarish scene? David says that he was limp and could be poured out like water, so oppressed and afraid he was. His heart also, by means of temptations and spiritual struggles, melted like wax. That one is moved to gather the most terrible situations in this earth to describe the affliction of the wicked surely knows the battle with sin. How often do we come to God in prayer and express our daily afflictions and battles with sin in such vivid language? We find great comfort in God only by knowing how great our sins and miseries are, and how we are delivered from those sins and miseries.

 

June 24 Psalm 22:15,16 Psalter 47:8

“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst” (John 19:28). All through the Old Testament God so worked history that a complete portrait of Jesus was painted before He came so that every believer might recognize Him. Here David, recalling his own suffering, directs us to the intense suffering of Christ which words only begin to describe. A potsherd is a broken piece of pot left on the bottom of the kiln that becomes extremely dry and brittle after repeated exposure to the intense heat of the kiln. Even the piercing of the hands of Jesus is foretold here, and in Isaiah 53:5 & Zech. 12:10. Facing the increasing pressure of wicked men, let us remember that their fierce animal rage against Christ and every believer is met with the infinite wrath of God against them to destroy them utterly.

 

June 25 Psalm 22:17,18 Psalter 47:9

The Old Testament scriptures reveal more of the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion. David was not literally stripped of his clothes while being pursued by Saul, but the Spirit of Christ speaking these words that describe David’s condition of being stripped of his possessions and glory, speaks about the literal fulfillment in Christ on the cross. “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat:” (John 19:23). Having nailed Jesus to the cross, the wicked nature of man comes to full expression in the brutal mockery of His wasted form. His body is so wasted and stretched that the bones can be numbered. How marvelous is the love of God who by grace washes such sin away in the blood of Christ.

 

June 26 Psalm 22:19-21 Psalter 47:10

Though David was overwhelmed with despair, he did not cry out thinking his lamentations to be vain. There was no hope in human earthly strength, the only hope he had was the knowledge that God was hearing him. This knowledge is faith which God gives to His people. It is the bond which unites us to God. Faith firmly implants us as a tender branch into the firm trunk of a tree which is Christ. The gift of life becomes so precious when faced with death. David speaks of life when he says “my soul” and “my darling.” Every living creature clings to life as long as possible. Though we are alive physically, we are all by nature dead spiritually. God gives us new life in Christ, and we must so cherish our spiritual life, our faith, our knowledge of the truth, that we cry out to God whenever the enemy threatens.

 

June 27 Psalm 22:22 Psalter 47:11; 51:1

God heard the cry of David and delivered him from the hand of Saul. Saul had surrounded the mountain upon which David and his men had fled, but then a messenger came to tell Saul that the Philistines had invaded, and Saul left (1 Samuel 23:27, 28). David does not think only of himself, but makes known that his salvation is also the salvation of all his brethren. When Christ conquered death on the cross and arose in victory, he proclaimed victory for all His brethren as well. He sends His Spirit to comfort and to assure them of salvation in His victory (Hebrews 2:9-15). May the doctrine of the vicarious atonement of Christ continue to be heard from our pulpits. May the voice of Christ proclaiming the doctrines of sovereign grace continue to be heard and result in the praise of God.

 

June 28 Psalm 22:23 Psalter 48:1; 50:1

We turn now to some different Psalter numbers with different titles which correspond to a transition in the psalm from the cross of Christ to His triumphal resurrection and ascension. The glory of God is the goal and end of all things having been created and continually governed by God. David now turns his attention away from the enemy and toward “my brethren,” “the congregation,” ye that fear the LORD,” “ye seed of Jacob,” “ye seed of Israel.” We notice that David limits his attention to those in Israel who fear the LORD. Not all are Israel who are of Israel (Romans 9:6ff). The true Israel, brethren of Christ, are those who fear God. They are “the children of His grace” (Psalter 51). May we live today as a child of God showing forth His praise in our words and actions.

 

June 29 Psalm 22:24 Psalter 48:2

Why does David praise God? Why does our resurrected Lord praise Jehovah God? Why does the Word of God go forth from the pulpits exhorting the congregations to praise God? Because God is a God who does not despise nor abhor the afflicted. God does not seek out the strong, the attractive, or those who are able to prove themselves worthy. Many despise a God who loves the lowly and invent their own god who takes into heaven those who decide they want him to be their god. “Let him, therefore, that desires to be of the seed of Israel, and to rejoice in the grace of the gospel, become poor, for this is a fixed truth, our God is one that has respect unto the poor!” (Luther) May we find grace to act as a child of God, as the good Samaritan who did not despise one in great need.

 

June 30 Psalm 22:25 Psalter 48:3; 51:2

Even in giving praise, David confesses that his praise is not his own, but that it comes from God. God is the author of all that is good. We have nothing in ourselves of which to boast. God is pleased to multiply praise by bringing His people together into a great congregation where they join one who has experienced the joy of deliverance. David paid his vows by making a thank offering in which all the people ate of the sacrifice in a great feast of joy. Christ makes us partakers of the fruits of His suffering when we partake of the Lord’s Supper. May every young person who meditates upon this word of God be encouraged to praise God in the great congregation by making confession of his or her faith. The congregation will rejoice and praises God with you.