The Blessing of God's Provision
In Psalm 144, David points us to God’s bountiful provision. We experience this provision in God’s equipping, God’s rescue, and God’s resources. Before looking at these three dimensions of blessing, we begin with the end of the Psalm:
Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall!
Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord! Psalm 144:15
By starting with the end, we see the destination. And the end, the destination, the telos towards which we are moving, is God’s blessing. The word blessing here is used in two ways: first, it references the provision God gives (such blessings) – the equipping, rescue, and provision described in this Psalm. Second, it references the state of being blessed, the deep sense of satisfaction and well-being that experienced in a covenant relationship with God.
The point: If we make room in our lives for the provisions described in this Psalm, we will enjoy the blessing of God.
The Blessing of God’s Equipping
I played a sport called American Football, a violent game with head-on collision and powerful tackling occurring on every play. At the beginning of every season we would be given our equipment – helmets, shoulder pads, knee, thigh, and hip pad. All of this was designed to reduce – not remove – the chance of injury. The idea of going into a game without equipment was silly; no one would do that.
Life is rough, and according to Ephesians 6:10-12, we are in a spiritual battle. The good news for us is that God has given what we need to win:
Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle. Psalm 144:1
Here, David points to God’s important and powerful provision of equipping. God trains hands for war and he trains fingers for battle. God gives us what we need to get the job done.
Now, it might be that you think, ‘That’s great for David, but I’m not in a battle; I’m not fighting Saul’s army or the Philistines or the Midianites!’. Not so fast, my friend! As mentioned, Paul writes this to the Ephesians: ‘we wrestle against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places’.
You have been born into a battle you didn’t ask for; you have be dropped into a war you didn’t seek. But the good news is that God provides us whatever we need to win, to thrive, to stand, to prevail. This is not the place for a full unpacking of the spiritual armor made available to us in Christ, but I encourage you to read Ephesians 6:13-18.
The Blessing of God’s Rescue
Have you ever been in a life situation and thought, ‘I need God’s help! There’s no way out unless God intervenes’. The good news is that God is a God who breaks in to rescue us in times of need.
Look at these verses:
Stretch out your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me from the many waters, from the hand of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood. Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood. (Psalm 144:7-8, 11)
There is one thought repeated in two different verses: the request is the God deliver from the hand of foreigners. In verse 7, this is accompanied by an acknowledgement of God’s activity: stretch out your hand. Obviously, God doesn’t have a hand, but God’s outstretched hand is a phrase used many times in the Old Testament to indicate God’s proactive posture towards his people. God’s outstretched arm refers both to his power and his love.
In Exodus 6:6, the focus is on God’s rescue:
Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.
God’s outstretched hand means first, He is ABLE to DELIVER, and He is ACTIVE to deliver, to rescue, to save. Psalm 32:7: You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Notice that the deliverance that God gives is from foreigners whose mouths speak lies and falsehood. The context here is that Israel worshipped the one true God, but they were surrounded by nations who worshipped false gods. Those nations would often attack Israel, and sometimes Israel would get themselves in trouble by intermarrying with those nations.
There was something attractive about the physicality, the immediacy, the sensuality of these other gods. Of course, they were idols that had no real power, but often people worship something, not because it is worthy of worship, but because worshipping that thing helps them feel better.
So, Israel was always susceptible to the lies that were being told about their own God, and the lies the other nations were telling about their gods.
We live in much the same way: the world we live in lies about our God, the God, by saying ‘He’s not really all that!’. And the world lies about its gods by saying, ‘Unless you experience this, you’re missing out!’. Unless you worship at the altar of pleasure, of money, of reputation – you’re missing out! We are always tempted to trade the truth for lies.
This is how Paul describes the mechanics of sin in Romans chapter 1 – exchanging the truth for a lie. And so the Psalmist is reminding us that God rescues us from lines through the power of his truth.
The way that God proactively protects us from the lies of the nations, the lies of this world, is through the truth of his word. In Psalm 119.160, the Psalmist writes, ‘The sum of your word is truth’. In John 17:17, Jesus prays to the Father for us, saying ‘Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth’.
And so it is by the Word of God that we are sanctified, or set apart – or protected; it is the truth of God’s word that keeps us safe from the lies about God, about ourselves, and about reality, being propagated by this age.
The Provision of Resources
David was a military man, and he understood the power of provision; without the necessary resources, even the best army could be defeated in the field. As Napoleon said, ‘An army marches on its stomach’. If it is hungry and malnourished, it’s not doing much marching.
Towards the end of this Psalm, David reflects on some of the practical provision God gives his people.
May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace; may our granaries be full, providing all kinds of produce; may our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields; may our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; may there be no cry of distress in our streets! (Psalm 144:12-14).
This is a prayer, asking God, may these things happen. Here’s a key point:
Praying for blessing is not bad; rather, it’s good because it demonstrates that we know the character of God – he loves to bless his children.
The author of Hebrews describes the nature of faith that – in addition to believing that GOD IS, we believe God rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
So, the presupposition of this section is that these are the kinds of blessings that God loves to give: provision for our children, provision of physical needs; the provision of peace. This is the nature of God: He will provide.
In Genesis 22:14, God provided remarkably for Abraham, and he called that place Jehovah Jireh – Jehovah is Yahweh, the Hebrew name for God, and the word Yireh – it will be provided, or it will be seen. God is the God of more than enough: God provides!
In Psalm 23, David wrote that my cup overflows. In other words, God gave him more than enough. God is the God who provides, and he provides more than enough.
Jesus taught the same thing:
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:38.
And Paul, in writing to the Philippians, reminds them that
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
And to the Corinthians:
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8
There are good works God has called us to do, and God will bless us sufficiently in whatever area of need so that we are well-resourced to do what he has called us to do. Our job is to pray and ask; God’s job is to provide and resource.
So, it’s good to pray for your children to be blessed, for your family to be blessed, for your needs to be met, and it’s good to expect God to give you more than enough. WHY? Why not JUST ENOUGH?
If all you have is just enough, you won’t be able to share with anyone, and part of following Jesus is cultivating a heart of generosity. We want more than enough so we have an overflow to share with others.
God told Abraham, I’m going to bless you so that you can be a blessing. The blessing of God is not just for our benefit; the blessing of God is so that we can be a blessing. That’s why the Psalmist ends by saying something that seems repetitive , but it’s good to notice:
Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord! (Psalm 144:15).
In other words, it’s a blessing to be blessed. It’s not selfish, it’s not somehow less spiritual, it’s not bad – to be blessed by God is a blessing. God loves to provide for his children. He invites us to lean into him, to trust him.