1 Praise be to the Lord my Rock,
who trains my hands for war,
my fingers for battle.
2 He is my loving God and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me.
3 Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
4 They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.
5 Part your heavens, Lord, and come down;
touch the mountains, so that they smoke.
6 Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy;
shoot your arrows and rout them.
7 Reach down your hand from on high;
deliver me and rescue me
from the mighty waters,
from the hands of foreigners
8 whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful.
9 I will sing a new song to you, my God;
on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
10 to the One who gives victory to kings,
who delivers his servant David.
From the deadly sword 11deliver me;
rescue me from the hands of foreigners
whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful.
12 Then our sons in their youth
will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
carved to adorn a palace.
13 Our barns will be filled
with every kind of provision.
Our sheep will increase by thousands,
by tens of thousands in our fields;
14 our oxen will draw heavy loads.
There will be no breaching of walls,
no going into captivity,
no cry of distress in our streets.
15 Blessed is the people of whom this is true;
blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.
Devotional from Ian White
During 1983/84 I worked on a personal project of composing tunes to nearly all of the Psalms, basing my lyrics as close to NIV translation as I could. 80 of these pieces ended up on a series of 6 albums which became successful and the proceeds really fed me and my family for 25 years.
Ps144 was one of 13 Psalms compiled on the first of those albums. It was recorded in Dundonald , Belfast, and the choral vocals were by a group of young Belfast Christians… among those young singers were Brian and Mark Houston, and their wives. To this day I still love the atmosphere created by that small group of singers---it was very special and I think touched a lot of hearts. The same group contributed to Psalms Vols 3 and 6.
As with many of the Psalms, I know my setting of it off by heart. I confess I’ve probably smoothed out some of the particularly aggressive lines…for example NIV has at verse 1 Praise the Lord who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle, and I took it down to Praise the Lord who arms me for the fight… then in verse 11 I wrote delivers me from my enemies, instead of NIV deliver me from the hands of foreigners!.. and verse 13 which NIV has Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision, our sheep will increase by thousands in our fields, our oxen will draw heavy loads, I simplified down to ‘Our barns will be filled up with all we need and our means of life we will see increase’
Other than that, I managed to make the piece work musically with very few other changes from the text. It’s been a great encouragement to me over the years to hear people tell me that they have many many Psalm lines memorized in their heads from listening to the recordings, and often if they hear someone start to read a Psalm they find my tune going through their mind!
Let me get to the reason I’ve picked this Psalm for the podcast.
Passages of Scripture, with all the difficulties we struggle with , like, is it politically correct, is it culturally just so far removed from us, can sometimes just cut right through into the reality of our lives, and reconvince us that these words are special, powerful and relevant. Words that can calm our fears, and bring strength and blessing.
Here was my situation. In 1996 My wife Carol and I were about to take what for us was quite a daunting step. We had a small semi detached house , and a small flat we were using as an office …our wee record label was doing well.. we had all 6 Psalms albums selling and several others, including some for children. What we really wanted though was one building, big enough to have our family home for us and our two boys, office and storage space for the record label, and hopefully room for some kind of recording and rehearsal area. A place came up…ideal in every respect, other than the fact that having both been people that came from small houses it scared the wits off us! We’d even had what seemed incredibly confirming kind of ‘signs’ that this was to be the right house. Carol particularly felt scared, and I remember going through a kind of process of needing to really take a grip spiritually and stand on God’s word. Carol I think was picking up on an atmosphere in the new place that was totally from the people that were leaving , not from the place itself, and somehow I was praying for a breakthrough with that.
Here’s what I decided to do. With my version of Ps144 in my mind, I walked right round the perimeter of the garden and through every room of the house we were leaving…repeating the Psalm out loud and praying blessing on the people coming into it. Then I went round to the new property and did exactly the same, praying peace for Carol and the family, and prosperity and blessing for us all in the new place.
The next time Carol came to the house she felt complete peace.
That was in 1996 and we are still here.
Sung version from Ian of Ps 144
Praise the Lord who arms me for the fight, he’s my loving God and my castle strong, my guard and shield who subdues all men that are under me.
O Lord what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him, man is like a breath and his
Days will fly like a shadow
Part the skies and come down to us, so the mountains smoke and remove your foes
Reach down your hand and rescue me from the waters
I will sing a new song to you O Lord, on a ten stringed lyre I will play your songs
To the one who gives victory to kings and deliverance for David
Deliver me from my enemies whose mouths and hands are full of deceit
Then our sons and daughters will grow like flowers in their beauty
And our barns will be filled up with all we need and our means of life we will see increase
No breach of walls, no captivity, and no crying in the streets
Blessed, blessed, are the people for whom this is true,
Blessed, blessed, are the people whose God is the Lord.
Grew up in Ayrshire. Paid his musical dues playing guitar in a touring band with singer Dave Pope in 1979. Did Divinity degree at Aberdeen 81-84 with thoughts of becoming a pastor, but the affirmation locally of the quality of his Psalms project led to recordings and a 25 year international touring career. Presently runs The Inspiration Orchestra..based in Perth Scotland.. a teaching and performing programme for people with disabilities. www.theinspirationorchestra.com Married to Carol for 40 years and has two boys, Taylor 27 and Harrison 24.