Happy is that People (Psalm 144)

Lloyd Cain

"Happy is that people that is in such a case: Yea happy is that people whose God is the Lord" (Psalm 144:15). What are the reasons for their blessedness? To what can we ascribe the exultation of David in this song?

He has seen himself as the Dependent Soldier in verses 1-8; as the Delighted Singer in verses 9-10 and now in the balance of the Psalm as the Devout Supplicator. For what does he pray? There is a general request that he be delivered from the hand of "strange children" for evidently these would hinder the answers to the other parts of his request. When we examine these other requests, we will likely see that there are eight requests which all begin with the word "that." Is your Bible open to Psalm 144 so that we can meditate together on the Scriptures rather than on what we are going to say about the Scriptures? Remember that we are looking for the secrets of happiness among the people of God.

The Prayer for Strength

"That our sons may be as plants..." This is Davidís first request and it is that the sons may be as plants grown up in their youth. This reminds us of 1 John 2:14 where the Beloved Apostle has written to the young men "because ye are strong and the Word of God abideth in you." This is the secret of strength and also the secret of growth, for Peter wrote that believers are to "desire earnestly the sincere milk of the Word that ye may grow thereby." Peter has listed five things that will destroy our appetites and we know that when the appetite is waning that growth is absent and the believer becomes a victim of arrested spiritual development. David sees every believer as a plant, but not every believer as a plant grown up.

The time for rapid growth is in oneís spiritual youth when the mind is unencumbered and there is the vitality of a new life within. Someone has said that what we are in the first five years of our Christian life will determine what we are going to be for God. This is the time for a systematic, disciplined study of the scriptures as the young believer builds the foundation for his later life.

The Prayer for Support

"That our daughters may be as corner columns, sculptured after the fashion of a palace... "(JND)

David had evidently been greatly impressed with the beauty of the columns in the palace and compared the young women to these. What does the corner column do? We readily hear the answer that a column supports that which is above it and this is what David sees the daughters as doing. In the New Testament church the women are commanded to be in silence for the two reasons given by the apostle in 1 Timothy 2:13-15; the order in creation and because of the disorder in the Garden. Because of this, the woman will not take a public part but will accept her sphere of service as being, not inferior, but in subjection to the man, for rule will always be a masculine function.

What do we mean by support? There were women in the time of the Lord who devoted themselves to ministering to Him in His ministering to others. There were those women who laboured with Paul in the Gospel (Phil. 4:1-3). There were the women who prayed in the Upper Room where the apostles and others were gathered waiting for the descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14).

These daughters were to be sculptured. What is the sculpturing process? Is it not that through which Job passed? At the end of his trial he named his three daughters, Jemima (Dove), Kezia (Cassia), and Karen-happuch (Adorned). Jemima would remind us of the life that is dependent on the leading and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Cassia is the fragrant powder that is produced from the crushing of the inner bark of the tree after the outer bark has been removed. Job had a layer, an outer bark, that had to be removed from him and the trial served to do it. With the naming of Karenhappuch, Job said that he had been adorned in the trial-he had been sculptured. The word adorned is found in Matthew 25:7; "Then all those virgins arose and adorned their lamps." Yes, the trimming was an adorning so that the light might shine more brightly after the products of an incomplete combustion were removed by the painful process of trimming. The word adorned, by the way, is found in Titus 2:10 where believers, by their godly behaviors, are to beautify the doctrine they hold.

The Prayer for Sustenance

"That our garners may be full..." We would like to relate this prayer to the character of the public ministry in the local church for it is a prayer that the garners may be full and that all manner of store be provided to the believers. "There were in the church which was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers..." (Acts 13:1). What a blessing to a local church when there is a variety of teachers and hence a variety of teaching! Such people are described by Paul as laboring in the Word and in teaching (1 Tim 5:17). This is ever the order for one cannot give out to others what he has not taken in for himself. A good minister of Jesus Christ must be nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine for a starving soul cannot feed the souls of others. We must be full! And we cannot be unbalanced for all manner of store is to be provided. There is to be ministry on New Testament church truth. There must be ministry that is devotional and that is directive. There must be textual preaching for the Lordís people cannot be fed on sermonettes but must be taken in an expositional way through the Book.

There is also the local church Bible Study. When we come to the assembly Bible Reading, have the garners been filled by those responsible for the feeding of the flock? Is there evidence that there has been laboring in the Word in order that there may be a foundation for the teaching or do we all come with none having studied the passage before us and then wonder why we get nothing out of the meeting. Is it because we have put nothing in?

The ministry is not to be one-sided and narrow but there is to be provided a balance of the great doctrines of the Bible. How good are we on what Paul described to Timothy as having a systematic expose of healthy doctrine? (2 Tim. 1:13, JND) There has to be practical ministry as well but this ministry must be based on doctrine in the same way as the epistles have a doctrinal part and then a directive part, based on that doctrinal part. Are we providing Bible conferences where the lives of believers are molded and challenged? Are we having regular ministry meetings that the minds and hearts of the saints may be stirred?

The Prayer for Soul Winning

"That our sheep may bring forth thousands." David had an expectant heart. He would not have been surprised at blessing, for it is that for which he prayed here and it is that for which Paul commended the Thessalonians by saying, that "from you sounded out the Word of the Lord..." (1 Thes. 1:8) They were true heralds of the Cross and were like the early church which when scattered abroad by the fires of persecution, "went everywhere preaching the Word" (Acts 8:4). The commission of the Lord was to "go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature..."(Mark 16:15-16), but He also told them that they were to be witnesses to Him, "...beginning at Jerusalem"; that is, they were to be fruitful in their own streets.

The Prayer for Service

"That our oxen may be strong to labour." Where no oxen are the crib is clean but much increase is by the strength of the ox" (Prov. 14:4). To what does Solomon refer in this passage from his collection of wisdomís words? Surely it is that there can be no growth without labour. In the local church, this labour is seen in the Spirit using the grace gifts which in His sovereignty He has given to every member of the body for mutual profit and for the glory of God (1 Cor. 12:4, 11, 18). We are obligated to serve for we have been saved for that reason. When Paul exhorted Archippus that he "take heed to the ministry that thou hast received in the Lord that thou fulfil it," it was an exhortation to be strong to labour (Col. 4:17). There may have been a danger that this steward of the grace of God would not be a good steward but rather would become slothful in doing that for which he was called (1 Peter 4:10).

What is your sphere within the local church? What is the gift given to you by the Holy Spirit? Someone has said that the tests of gift are fervency, faculty and fruit. Is there a burning desire to serve in that area? Is there an ability that is recognized by other believers, for one is never a judge of his own gift of grace? Is there fruit, or in other words, are the believers blessed by the service? Timothy was to be a strong servant and was to be strengthened in the grace which is in Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:1).

There will always be a reward for the laborer for God has decreed that, "thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn" (1 Tim. 5:18). The ox will always partake in that for which he labors and will know the joy of service. We might not be happy if others referred to us as an ox but it is a beautiful picture of Christian service after the manner of Him who is pictured as the untiring Servant in Markís Gospel. Are we serving or are we sitting?

The Prayer for Safety

"That there be no breaking in..." Paul warned the Ephesian elders that, ".. .after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:30). These will test the truth of the character of the shepherds for hirelings will flee, being more concerned for their own welfare than with that of the sheep (John 10:12). There were wolves who entered in among the flock in the Galatian churches bringing the doctrine that "except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved" (Acts 15:1). The wolves who broke in among the Colossian saints brought a mixture of Judaism and oriental mysticism. Those who came to the young church in Thessalonica took away the Hope of believers in the imminent return of the Lord for His church (2 Thes. 2:1-2). Wolves will come in many guises but the preservative for the flock is the doctrine faithfully taught by those who have the responsibility for their welfare.

The Prayer for Stability

"That there be no going out." What is it that causes believers to go out? This was evidently one of the main concerns of the writer to the Hebrews as witnessed by his exhortation to "go on" rather than to "go away." There were others who were tempted to turn back, their confidence being disturbed by those who were defecting from their profession of faith. The writer gets their eyes focused on the Lord Jesus rather than on their circumstances and encourages them to "go forth unto Him, without the camp, bearing His reproach" (Heb. 13:13). "From that time many of His disciples went unto the things behind and walked no more with Him" (John 6:66-69). Peter knew the holding power of the Person for he said, in contrast to the others who were turning back, "To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." In 1 Corinthians 5:1-12 there is a going out in connection with assembly discipline where the moral offender has to be put away because of the seriousness of his sin. We are to pray for personal holiness that this type of going out need not take place in the company.

The Prayer concerning our Speech (Satisfaction)

"That there be no complaining in our streets." The Israelites complained on the way to the land of promise and God judged them (Num. 21:1-4-5). Miriam and Aaron complained concerning the woman that Moses had married and Jehovah heard it. There is always the danger of our becoming cannibalistic Christians and "biting and devouring one another" (Gal. 5:15). Solomon in his wisdom said that "death and life are in the power of the tongue" and surely we have seen evidence of the blessing that the tongue can bring when used aright and of the havoc it can work if uncontrolled!

Could we not call this psalm "the prayer for the happy church" because so many of its features can be applied to us? Certainly if we were to see evidences within the local church of what David requested here, we also would be "that happy people."

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All temporal gifts are a part of happiness, but still the heart and soul of happiness lies in the people being right with God and having a full possession of Him. Those who worship the happy God become a happy people. If we have not temporal mercies literally, then we have something better. If we have not the silver of earth, we have the gold of heaven, which is better still

- C. H. Spurgeon