Psalms 138 – 145 The eight prayer Psalms of David (Psalm 139)

Prayers of DavidOur month of prayer continues. The prayer guide can be downloaded here: Harvest Prayer 8 -14 October2017

This week Graham continued his study of the eight prayer Psalms as we studied Psalm 139.

Graham’s notes are below, you can enjoy listening to the sermon here:

In order to read these prayers in such a way that they speak to you and I in our time we must first note some features of their context. These prayers are the prayers of one person. They present us with his thoughts, his hopes and beliefs and sometimes his human limitations.

These are the prayers of a king.

They are from the pre New Covenant age.

An introduction to the Psalms

The book of Psalms can be seen as a collection of poems prayers and songs. So it is a collection of these that have been used and are intended for use.

The Psalms represent the faith that had matured over centuries and had reached the stage of development at the time the collection was put together, shortly before the exile into Babylon, probably by temple priests. It became the prayer book during the exile, in the life of the rebuilt temple after the exile and in the synagogues up to the time of Jesus and beyond. It is still used in synagogues and in the church of Jesus the Messiah.

One way to use the Psalms is to pray aloud portions of them as words of our own prayers to God.

Psalm 139

1 Being Heard

There is healing in being heard.

Radio 4 programme about public enquiries. The comment was that public enquiries are about being heard, that people need to be heard and in being heard there is healing.

Modern chaplaincy consists very much of hearing. Trauma Reduction Therapy.

2 Being Known

This is a prayer, but it is also a glimpse into this man’s revelation that he has received that he is heard. But more than that, he is known!

See verses 23-24. He is not afraid to be known. Is that because he thinks he is up to some sort of standard? Some measure of righteousness?

I think it is because he has understood something about grace. This seems to me to be an understanding of something before his time.


Isaiah 26:10

But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

John 1:16-17

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Acts 4:33

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all

Acts 11:23

When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.

Acts 13:43

When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

Acts 14:3

So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.

Acts 15:10-12

10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.’ 12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.

David understood how well he was known and that was healing to him.

See 1 Corinthians 13:12

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

3 Being in the hand of God

John 10:27-29(NIVUK)

27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

John 10:27-29 James Version (AV)

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

See verse 5 of this Psalm. Some think this refers to a negative restriction, others see it as the boundaries God has placed on this person of faith.

Joshua 1:1-6

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant: 2 ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the River Jordan into the land I am about to give to them – to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates – all the Hittite country – to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

Some see verse 5 as not about boundaries at all, but speaking of a hand of care laid upon him. I wonder what David meant in this verse.

See verse 7. Should we read it as “Go”, or “flee”, or “be removed”, or “foolishly wander”?

For reflection.

See verses 11-12. God is not subject to our circumstances. Compare this with Mark 4:35-41.

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ 41 They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’

God is not subject to our circumstances! He is not disturbed by our storms but he hears the prayers of his people.

One thought on “Psalms 138 – 145 The eight prayer Psalms of David (Psalm 139)

  1. I don’t know how other people feel on the subject of the Psalms. But in my youth I found the Psalms quite hard work. I remember when I was a student a lady in the church gave me a book of reflections which were a study of the Psalms. I made a couple of attempts at using it but I never got very far. For me the issue was the translation I was using and my lack of understanding of the context of poetry, prayers and songs. I found some of the repetition hard to understand and the authors perspective hard to relate to. I’ve grown to love the Psalms and find them much easier to read now.

    Indeed, as I have been through my own challenges, I have found comforting and encouraging. One thing that I have found particularly helpful is using a study bible or using the Amplified / or Message translations. They help with context and understanding. 

    Graham asked us to reflect upon our own storms and know with assurance that God is in control.

    Personally, I’m convinced that God is in control. I know that God talks to me through the storm. I just find it hard to find time to listen sometimes. I’ve been through a few storms with ill health and work challenges in the past. The only thing that hindsight teaches me is that I should have trusted God more and I should trust God when the next storm comes. One thing that I’m challenged on is how to encourage others when they are going through the storm. We all need encouragement sometimes. And the Psalms can be a great place to find those encouragements.

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