This has to be one of my very favorite songs. Yet it is only really this morning that I have put it all together.
To me it reads like the Psalter's equivalent for Philippians 4. An appropriate title, therefore, might be 'Give thanks in all circumstances'.
If we break the Psalm up into three main sections it will help get David's drift and delight - driven abroad by Saul, in all fears he sought God: His salvation led to joy.
The Thanking King Resolves - verses 1-2
David urges Israel to join him in his joy: however bleak things seem, his tongue will be a tool to praise. LORD, LORD, LORD is elevated and enlarged.
I will bless the LORD at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth ...Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His Name together.
The Testifying King Recalls - verses 4-10
Once reliant, now radiant, the King relates God's rescue: great fears, prayed tears, angelic help, repeated relief - he urges friends to taste how good Yahweh is in trial.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant ...The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him.
The Teaching King Reminds - verses 11-22
Since our Judge is just, the royal strategy is clear: be contrite, do right, seek peace, pray much, trust God, feel safe, sit tight - the LORD is close, your foes will fall.
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it ...The LORD is near to the brokenhearted ...Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
The Terminating King Redeems - verses 1-22
If thankfulness, testimony and teaching are found on David's lips, it is because he sang in the Spirit of the Last Son in David's line - King Jesus gives this counsel:
Jesus never failed to give thanks in His trials. Bloody sweat and prayers drew a strengthening angel to the Garden. He perfectly models the recipe for relief - and on the Cross, after His death, His bones remained unfractured - God thwarts the Roman custom in order to fulfill Scripture.
He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken ...The LORD redeems the life of His servants; none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.
It light of His crucifixion, resurrection and exaltation, we hail Him as LORD and hear our Mediator: His joy covers our ingratitude and supplies grace to sing; His rescue makes us sure our soul is safe in Him; His orders win submission because He bought us with His blood; Jesus sang this song - so we might give thanks always.