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Psalm 144:1

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Psalm 144:1, ‘Blessed be YHWH, my Rock, who trains my hands for war…’

Psalm 144 is written from the point of view of the Davidic king in the face of adversity. Its entire structure may be mapped onto—and, indeed, is ultimately grounded in—the Crucified and Risen Jesus Christ, who is Himself the true David and King.

It is supremely Jesus who entrusts Himself to God upon the cross and so finds all peoples ‘subdued’ under Him (Ps.144:2, Lk.23:46, Matt.28:18); who declares in Himself the staggering love of God that not only ‘regards’ humanity, but enters wholly and without remainder into their plight (Ps.144:2-4, Matt.1:21-22); and who cries out for deliverance (Ps.144:5-11; Heb.5:7a), and is answered through His resurrection from the dead, a resurrection that is the foundation and wellspring of *all salvation* God’s people will ever know (Ps.144:12-15; Heb.5:7b).

The hands of this true King are trained for war upon the cross, where Lion of Judah conquers every enemy by receiving their assault into His own opened palms…Thus, the sword, spear, and arrow piercing Christ’s hand form the ‘Chi Rho’—the most vicious attacks against Him only serve as a declaration of His saving name to the world.

The unspecified danger of Ps.144:5-11 is pictured in the ‘many waters’ (v.7) beneath which Christ is pictured, symbolizing His death in the abyss of His people’s suffering. At the same time, His hand is lifted in victory above the waters, anticipating the resurrection that is simultaneously the salvation of all those who hope in Him.

The imagery of green hills, pillars, and a fruitful olive tree draws upon Ps.144:12-15, and so invites the viewer of this image to interpret the victorious aftermath of the king’s prayer in Psalm 144 as supremely fulfilled in the resurrection of the true King.

Finally, the person pictured in Jesus’ arm—mirroring His posture—represents everyone who will ever trust in Him. By faith-union to the slain and risen King, His people too join in His conquering death and joy-filled resurrection, and so are able to sing Psalm 144 as their own anthem of hope in the Lord who—in Christ—is their steadfast love and unyielding fortress.