1 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
Despite the lengthiness of this Psalm, it really doesn’t require a lot of comment regarding the comfort it provides for the hurting heart. Very simply, it is a Psalm of victory. A brief phrase in verse five (“I called upon the Lord in distress”) and a few sentences in verses 10 through 13 show that the Psalmist had been suffering. Other than that, there is nothing but excitement in the writer’s heart and exultation in his inspired words. He has seen the victory that God provides and He wants others to know of the merciful God who delivers the righteous from their troubles. That victory is not found in the words of men. The power of princes cannot provide deliverance. Salvation is in Jehovah God. “The right hand of the Lord” (a term representing strength) is alone sufficient to free the faithful from whatever distresses them. The joy of salvation in the Lord is emphasized three separate times, with a prophecy of the Christ who would come and be the culmination of God’s plan for salvation found in verse 22. The Psalmist urges adoration of the Father. He is the one true God. He alone is worthy of praise. He is the source of victory over the challenges of life, no matter what they may be or how or from whom they may come.
Doubtless there have been times when each of us wished we could know in advance the outcome of a situation. If we could only see how things were going to turn out, we would feel much better and more capable of handling the challenge as we wrestle with it. The fact is, we do know the outcome. We may not know the particulars, but we do “know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). We know that our challenges will make us stronger if we let them (II Corinthians 12:7-11; Philippians 4:11-13). We know that the Lord will be at our side through the battle and we are confident that He will be there at the end of it (Hebrews 13:5). We can say with the inspired writer, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.”
This Psalm is a microcosm of life as a whole. Life’s distresses come at us, sometimes with the ferocity of the bees to which the writer refers in verse 12. The Lord has given His Word and has His ears open to the prayers of the faithful (Revelation 5:8). He will deliver again and again, lifting up the fallen, binding the wounds of those who hurt, cheering the hearts of the fainting. Each challenge will be overcome by those who walk faithfully with God and ultimately, life’s biggest challenge, that of sin and its destructiveness, will be overcome in eternity (Revelation 14:13).
The Psalm is also a microcosm of the Bible as a whole. Does not victory stand out as the focal point of God’s Word? Genesis 1:31 speaks of God’s perfect creation. Soon marred by sin (Genesis 3:6), this creation appeared to be forever severed from fellowship with the Lord (Isaiah 59:1-2). But hope for victory is announced early on in Genesis 3:15. Throughout the pages of the Bible this hope is fostered through the words of inspired men. The Word contains numerous accounts of individuals rising, then falling and then rising again to be close to God. Finally, just before the pen of Divine inspiration was laid down once and for all, the apostle John wrote of ultimate victory in eternity in Revelation 22. Follow God’s Word from beginning to end and you will see the path of victory for those who follow God.
If God can provide eternal victory over sin, can He not provide victory over the challenges we face in life? Must we allow the troubles of this life to defeat us? Yes, the struggles are real. Yes, the pain is intense. At times it seems that we will never get over it. But the faithful will win. The difficulties of life are short-lived. After enumerating some of the trials he had undergone, Paul wrote, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (II Corinthians 4:16-5:1). Even if trials continue throughout life, ultimately there is a release and eternal relief for the faithful Christian.
The faithful will win. Why? Going back to the Psalm under consideration in this chapter, we find the following reasons:
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.” There is no distress so great, no sorrow so deep, no anguish so severe that Satan will not try to use it to turn us away from following God. He tried to turn Job’s difficulties into a win for evil. Many times he sought victory over Joseph (Genesis 37ff). He even tried his hand at defeating Jesus.
Much to Satan’s chagrin, there is no distress so great, no sorrow so deep, no anguish so severe that God cannot provide the victory over it in the heart of the faithful Christian. The faithful will win. The sadness may linger and the heart may feel the pangs of grief for many a day or year, but the faithful will overcome.
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). John himself would later write about overcoming. “I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one…” (I John 2:13). “… and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” (I John 2:14). “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (I John 4:4).
As downtrodden and broken in heart as we might feel due to our troubles, faithful Christians will win. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (I John 5:4). “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
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