For the Love of God, Volume 2/August 21

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By D.A. Carson About Devotional Life
Chapter 233 of the book For the Love of God, Volume 2


1 Samuel 13; Romans 11; Jeremiah 50; Psalms 28—29

THE CLOSING VERSES OF Psalm 28 bring together several themes prominent in biblical theology:

(1) The first and most obvious one is the unrestrained praise in 28:7: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” Here is no faith of mere resignation; here, rather, is a faith that wells up from (or produces?) a heart that “leaps for joy” and expresses itself in thankful song. One cannot read the Psalms without recognizing that genuine faith does not produce a merely stereotypical emotional response. Given different sets of circumstances, genuine faith may be tied to an almost desperate trust and anguished petition, to quiet confidence and steadfastness, to praise that bursts the borders of exuberance into spectacular spontaneity. In this passage faith is closest to the latter, for the Lord has already heard David’s cry for mercy (28:6).

(2) Throughout the first seven verses of the psalm, David’s petitions and praises are in the first person singular; they arise from his status as an individual. The last two verses focus on God’s “people” (28:8-9), his collective “inheritance” (28:9). So far as language goes, this is effected in part through David’s meditation on God’s “anointed one” (28:8), the word that ultimately generates our “messiah.” As the king, David himself is of course the royal “anointed one,” the royal “messiah.” But as God has heard his prayers, shown him mercy, and called forth his joyous praise, so his individual experience ought to be a paradigm for the covenant community at large. He represents them, and there is a profound sense in which they are collectively God’s “anointed one,” his “son” (cf. Ex. 4:22— another title applied both to Israel at large and distinctively to Israel’s king). The expression “anointed one” in a Davidic psalm inevitably prompts us to think of the king; the parallelism in verse 8 shows that the expression here refers to Israel: “The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one” (italics added). The thoughtful reader reflects on the ways in which David and the people are linked—and on the ways in which Jesus the Messiah (i.e., Jesus the Anointed One) not only springs from David’s line, but shows himself to be both the ultimate Davidic king and the ultimate embodiment of Israel.

(3) The last line calls to mind a delightful truth: “Save your people and bless your inheritance,” David writes; “be their shepherd and carry them forever” (28:9, italics added). Reflect on such passages as Psalm 23; Ezekiel 34; Luke 15:1-7; John 10; 1 Peter 5:1-4.

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