A Gem from Psalm 4

I have reached Psalm 4 as I memorise my way through the Psalter, and was really struck by the way David refers to God as “God of my righteousness” (4:1). It’s a unique ascription in Scripture and a fascinating one, both in itself and in its context.

David is again pleading for relief and protection from his enemies and calls on God, as the “God of my righteousness” to act on his behalf. Why this unique description of God, and why here?

Well, David knows that he is blameless in regard to the false accusations that are being made against him (4:2). He is being slandered by his enemies, but he knows that God knows the truth. He is not claiming to be sinless, and pleads at the end of v1 for God’s grace because he needs it, but in relation to those opposing him he is righteous.

David’s God is not only a God of righteousness, in and of himself; he is also the upholder and defender of David’s own, albeit imputed, righteousness. Spurgeon says of this verse,

Thou are the author, the witness, the maintainer, the judge, and the rewarder of my righteousness; to thee I appeal from the calumnies and harsh judgements of men.

Treasury of David. Vol.1 Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2014 p34

James Montgomery Boice writes,

There are times when we are falsely accused. At other times we are slandered. Someone may want to advance himself by getting us out of the way. Or an attack may be occasioned by pure envy….How do we rise above it? In this psalm, David, the target of many false accusations, shows how.

Psalms Vol.1 Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005 p38
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My recent ‘Eureka!’ moment.

For ‘Eureka!’, read ‘answered prayer’. I just wanted to capture your attention with a dramatic headline! But isn’t it wonderful how God often answers prayer in such a variety of ways – sometimes even using ourselves to answer our own prayer, as it were.

I have just completed re-memorising Psalm 119 and was prayerfully wondering what new Scripture memorising challenge to take on. I didn’t just want to memorise something for the sake of it – though that is not necessarily a bad thing. I also wanted to memorise something that would be really useful – and yes, I know that all Scripture is profitable.

Then, on Thursday, I was doing a very superficial overview of the book of Psalms with the students and made the unprepared, off the cuff, comment that I had probably used the Psalms more than any other part of the Bible in my pastoral ministry and personal life – and that was the Eureka moment. Memorise the Psalms.

So begins the challenge. Psalm 1 is already firmly embedded in my memory, as is 119, though not as firmly just yet, so only 148 to go; and some of them are so well-known to me that they are already half-memorised. I estimate it will take close on 3 years to cover them all, but what a blessing it will be to my own soul, and I look to the Lord to graciously give me many opportunities along the way to use it for the blessing and encouragement of others.

What are you currently memorising? Do let me know.

How are you doing?

How are you doing with memorising God’s Word? I do want to encourage you in any way I can, and please do get in touch or share your experiences etc via the Comment box.

One way I want to encourage you is by sharing my own journey, and today I wrote out and began to work on Psalm 119:153-160, and this will preoccupy me for the next couple of days. I had a meeting in St Andrews this morning so spent most of the time driving there and back going over and over this group of 8 verses and the previous 8 which I learned over the weekend. It was a real blessing to my heart to do so.

But I also learned two encouraging things about Scripture memorisation this weekend. First, as I have mentioned before, I am currently re-memorising Psalm 119, having done it some years ago but not having reviewed it for quite some time. What I discovered this morning, as I wrote out these 8 verses on my 5×3 cards, was that as I wrote the first part of the verse, copying carefully from Scripture, sometimes the second part came back to my memory even though I have not consciously thought about it for some years! Be encouraged! Once you learn something, and embed it into your memory, you never completely lose it.

The second thing that encouraged me happened yesterday in church. Iain, one of my fellow Elders, was helpfully leading Communion at the close of our morning service and as he read the familiar words of 1 Corinthians 11:23ff, I mouthed them silently and got it almost completely correct! That, despite the fact that I have never intentionally memorised the passage but have, for obvious reasons, read it several hundred times over the years. The repetitive act of reading it has embedded it in my own memory. That means that, without even trying to, you have almost certainly memorised numerous verses and passages of Scripture.

So, why not do what I am now going to do, write out those verse on your cards – if you use the same system as I do – and add them to your regular review process.

The Lord bless you richly as you continue to praise him by learning his righteous rules.

Blessed by the Blessings of Psalm 119

I am currently memorising this amazing Psalm for the third time, and it gets sweeter and more precious each time. I first memorised it some 15 years ago, using the NIV which was my Bible of choice in those days. I then re-memorised it in the ESV a few years later, something I found very difficult to do but worth the effort. Un-learning and re-learning is challenging, I assure you, which makes it all the more important to memorise Scripture correctly the first time.

What I love about this Psalm is its obsession with the Word of God and the blessings it brings to the child of God. Last week, for example, I spent a couple of days focussed on 119:97-104, where the Psalmist juxtaposes the blessings that come from obedience to the word of God, alongside the need to keep obeying the word in order to be able to understand it. Disobedience clouds our spiritual capacities.

Today I am working on 119:121-128 and, as I re-memorise this Psalm, I am managing to do each 8-verses section in about 2 days. Each morning and evening I recite the whole Psalm – or at least as far as I have got – and then many times in the day I recite 119:89 up to where I currently am. I have found that linking the current verses with the previous section in this repetitive way hugely helps me in my memorisation work.

Also, at the moment, each morning and evening, I recite a few other verses I have recently committed to memory and, in line with Andrew Davis’ recommendations, will keep doing so for around 100 days; all the time adding to the list, so that after 100 days, some passages will ‘drop off’ the daily list and I will review them weekly instead of daily.