Psalm 1:1 Counsel of the Ungodly
One of the very best arguments for a Christian school is found in this verse. Blessed indeed are the children who are not sent to sit at the feet of ungodly teachers. Of course children who are being home-schooled are technically in a Christian school.
There may be the odd situation where a public school may have a few teachers that are Christians but sadly this would be an exception. In most public schools children are passed from one teacher to another or in secondary schools have more than one teacher during the school day.
The word “ungodly” is a contraction of “ungodlike.” Even many believers do not measure up to being godly and there is absolutely no way that an unsaved person could be called such.
The main purpose for having a Christian school is so parents are not forced to send their children to the ungodly for an education. It is not primarily for the children that a local church provides the ministry of a Christian school. True, they benefit, but the main purpose is to supply the parents’ need for it and must be prompted by our God Who has promised to supply all of our needs.
Helen Tapley- Evangel Baptist Academy
Psalm 2:8 Against His Anointed...
.....and therefore against us! The Hebrew word here in its anglicized form is our word Messiah. It means a consecrated person such as a king, a priest or a saint. The Septuagint version does not hesitate to use here the word “Christ”, for He is indeed the Lord’s anointed.
In Acts 4:25 and following, Peter and John designating this second Psalm to be one of David’s, apply this passage to what had befallen them at the hands of the Jewish elders along with the chief priests (v.23). As they quote from this Psalm they also use this word “Messiah” which our King James translators have rendered “Christ.”
The kings of the earth and rulers, they saw to be embodied in Herod and Pilate who had taken “counsel together against...thy holy child Jesus.” It was bad enough that these heathen kings rage against Him, but now they had experienced also the vain imaginations of “the people”, i.e. God’s own people, Israel.
The Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that the world would hate them and persecute them as it had done to Him. They, and we along with them would be the objects of this rage and vain imaginations of the heathen. So let us not be surprised that even our very loved ones often think that we are deluded and despise our witness. The sad fact is that the Lord has them in derision and will one day vex them in His sore displeasure (v.4) because they think that they are not answerable to Him (v.3). We pray that they might see the light before it is too late.
Psalm 3: 5 “I laid me down and slept;”
Commentators say that this and Psalm 4 go together, the former being a morning prayer and the latter one for evening.
As David fled from his son Absalom, his heart was heavy when he laid down his head somewhere in the wilderness. The situation looked so bleak that some of those who fled with him felt that God was against him. The Lord Jesus must have felt like David when He taught that a man’s foes might come from his own household. What a trial it is to be despised even by those who owe their salvation to your ministry and who abandon their church because they have come to believe that God cannot possibly be interested in helping it continue. “How little fidelity and constancy is to be found among men.” (Matthew Henry on verse 1)
Spurgeon says that the word “shield” is more like a buckler and protects form every direction as the arrows fly. Electronic cable is spoken of as “shielded cable,” with nothing penetrating to distort the message. “I cried...He heard!” Once we know He hears we know that we have the answer even as we speak (1 John 5:14 & 15).
It is a wonderful privilege as a child of God to enter into that blessedness of rest where, in spite of betrayal, trouble and great danger we can claim the promises of God who “giveth His beloved sleep” (Ps.127:2). Let us do as Peter suggests in 1 Peter 5:7 knowing as David also knew; that the Lord sustains us (v.5) and we do not have to be afraid (v.6).
Psalm 4:1 The God of my Righteousness
If David could understand, by what was known about God in his day, that God was his righteousness, how much more should we see Him as such, who have the wonderful epistles of Paul. On the other hand probably David was thinking about his own personal righteousness produced by keeping the law. In which case he would have recognized God as the inspiration for godly living. “I am what I am because You are who You are.”
Being so much like us, David hadn’t always lived up to the light he had about God, yet, it was what he knew about Him that made his heart tender. God is Himself righteous but in spite of my sinfulness He loves me, He is willing to forgive me when I sin against Him and then truly repent (Ps.51). He loves me and desires me to be like Him (Gen.1:26). The Holy Spirit taught David these things in those periods when he rested upon Him and it is no wonder that he lamented over the thought of His departure (Ps. 51:11).
“When I think of You, my heart is still, I am assured that You hear me and that I can dwell in safety so I am able to sleep peacefully.”
David knew that the basis of his relationship with a righteous God certainly lay not in his own personal attempt to be good, but rather on the ground of a substitute. The sacrifices of righteousness were necessary but must originate in a broken spirit and contrite heart. (51:17). When this attitude is in place the righteous God is pleased with them. It is not rote worship but total surrender that He is looking for (Rom.12:1).
In the sacrifices made to a righteous God was the anticipation of the advent of God’s anointed One who would take David’s sin and ours to the cross in order that He might declare us righteous by identification with Him.
The God of my righteousness “hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor.5:21.
Psalm 5:9 Sweet Odors and Otherwise
No doubt we all have met people who are cursed with breath that is so foul that we have to take a step backward just to allow a little fresh air to sort of weaken the stench. Literally their throat is like an open sepulcher. Our God has a very sensitive nose. Let the wicked but open their mouths and immediately He knows exactly where they are coming from. Our Lord Jesus addressing “a generation of vipers” (Mt.12:34), the religious leaders of His day, asked how they being evil could possibly speak good things. He went on to speak of the origin of their words “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh”.
Paul quotes David in Romans 3:13&14. Tongues of deceit; poisoned lips; mouths full of cursing and bitterness, these all express God’s negative reaction to the foul breath of the wicked.
In contrast are the prayers of the righteous that ascend to Him as the morning sacrifice of the old covenant worship. The joy of those that love His name is on our lips and the fear of the Lord is on our hearts. It is at the golden altar of prayer that He delights to meet us (Exodus 30:6&7; Hebrews 13:15) at the house of prayer (v.7). We are the only temple on earth today and our Lord Jesus called His house a house of prayer (Mt.21:13).
God must sicken at the sepulchral smell of the dead as on the one hand they curse Him and on the other try to convince Him of their claims upon His goodness (Mt.7:22) “Lord, Lord etc.” Let us not be negligent to send to His nostrils the sweet smelling incense of our prayers that He may smell something good for a change. There’s nothing like it (Ex.30:32)!
Psalm 6:5 In death....
Our knowledge of what Old Testament saints understood concerning death is limited. How limited their knowledge was we can only assume from what they wrote. Perhaps through revelation they had a very complete comprehension, on the other hand, since biblical revelation is progressive it is quite conceivable that they knew far less than the New Testament saints on this subject. Certainly here in this verse we might wonder at David’s statements.
Our reaction is to say: “I know that the moment we die we will be in the presence of the Lord which is far better than anything we experience on this side of the grave.” We shall know as we are known.
But the O.T. saint went to sheol (the grave) and though they were conscious, we do not know much about their state of mind and David may have known even less. (We have Luke 16).
C.H.Spurgeon, speaking of this passage thought that it might have been possible that David was fearing eternal death at this point. If it was temporal death, then he was thinking that his mortal praise, at least, would be suspended and if he were to perish in hell then God would never have any more praise from him.
Frankly, I have been pondering long and hard over this Psalm and conclude that if the great C.H.Spurgeon is a bit perplexed it’s no wonder that I am. Are you?
Psalm 7:4 “If”......David “if” ?
Verses 4 and 8 have to be interpreted in the light of when they were written as is the case with many of the Davidic Psalms, for example, the imprecatory passages in which David calls down God’s wrath on the heads of his enemies. Written under inspiration these show God’s wrath.
Our text, also written under inspiration among other things, shows how the believer should return good for evil. Clearly, however, David did not know his own heart as he wrote these words in his earlier years. He had done right in his treatment of Saul and suffered for it. In his limited ability, for who can plumb the depths of his own heart, (Jer. 17:9) David saw nothing wrong with his attitude and spirit in God’s sight.
But we have to acknowledge that though his heart was apparently right at this time, the events of his later life issuing from that same heart (Prov.4:23) produced contradictory evidence. True, he treated King Saul with great magnaninity, but what of his treatment of Uriah the Hittite (2 Sam.2:15)? And, was there integrity in his heart in taking another man’s wife?
It would seem that the chief lesson to be learned here is to avoid as much as possible the rash speaking of youth. As dense as Ahab was, even he philosophized that early boasting is unwise (1 Kings 20). We ponder the question of Solomon’s gift of wisdom in the light of the foolishness of his later life for he who tells us to beware of strange women (Prov.22:14), certainly fell himself into the pit. These sad examples should alert us to our fleshly tendencies. Let us beware!
Psalm 8:4 “What is man...?”
I used to think that because David used the term “son of man” this Psalm referred to our Lord Jesus Christ. Later I learned that the word “man” as it is translated in this verse is actually the word “Adam” and that this is a reference to the high calling of the human father of our race. It is true that a position of honor, glory and dominion was given him but when he sinned, he lost it all. The crown (v.5) fell from his head as Jeremiah expressed it (Lam.5:16) for indeed we have sinned. As the puritan children were taught from the early speller, “In Adam’s fall we sinned all!”
Having said that, we must hasten to add that it was in His identification with our race that Christ became a man in order to taste death for us. Note in Hebrews 2:8 and 9 “now we see not yet all things put under him (Adam and his race), but we see Jesus” etc. And “every man” forgiven. (That is, every saved man).
It is clear from Genesis 1:26 that the Lord intended man to rule over His creation--or as Heb.2:7 has it “over the works of thy hands.” In the fall of Adam, man lost that dominion and became dominated by the world, the flesh and the devil. But, praise the Lord, through Christ’s substitutionary death that dominion is regained positionally and will be ours in experience when we see Christ. In Rev. 5:10 we read “and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” In Rev. 22:5 we read the basis of Handel’s climatic chorus, “and they shall reign forever and ever.” Hallelujah!
Psalm 9:20 “..but men”
Isn’t it wonderful to know that God doesn’t see us as simply “men”. What are we then? As the “redeemed” we are more than men, we are part man and part God. The man part of us is already dead, ie. our Adamic nature (Col.3:3). This is described by Paul as the “yet not I” in Gal.2:20. The God part of us is clearly indicated in the Scriptures, such as in the remaining part of this verse, “but Christ liveth in me” and in Romans 8:10 “And if Christ be in you...” etc. Later in verse 11 he indicated that “His Spirit...dwelleth” in us.
Surely, this is a mystery as Paul said to the Colossians (1:27) but it is our hope of glory that Christ is in us!
In John 14:23 the Lord Jesus said of Himself and the Father, “we will come unto him (the believer), and make our abode with him.” So now we see that it is said in God’s word that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in us. That sure makes us more than the man on the street. Even if there were martians who could come to this earth with bulging eyes and antennae on their heads, they would not be as different from men on earth as we are.
Let us not be like Peter who savoured only those things that be of men (Matt.16:23) or like the Corinthians who were carnal and walked like men (1 Cor.3:3) but let us take up the cross and walk as children of light (Eph.5:8), as those who are much much more than simply “men”.
Psalm 10:1 It may seem that way.
Again the psalmist seems to impugn God. We accept what he says because he is expressing the way we often feel ourselves. Why doesn’t God do something? Where is He when we need Him?
The fact is, as we well know, God is really never far away. True, His “eyelids try the children of men” (11:4), ie He does seem to shut His eyes on occasion but as this verse indicates, it is for the purpose of trying us. Do we really believe the other Scriptures that tell us that He sees the sparrow fall etc.? We must believe all of the Word and trust it all of the time.
I guess this is just another instance of David saying in a dramatic way--- “Lord, you must be trying us again.” I think the Lord likes to have us argue with Him like David did. After all, David was a man after God’s own heart, was he not? Lord, do you not see how bad the wicked are? (Note how many times he refers to “the wicked” in Ps. 9-12 and how descriptive is David’s polemic against them).
David always seems to end on the right note. “Lord you have heard both what the wicked says in his heart (v.6,11-13) and the desire of the humble (v.17).
Psalm 11:1 “Flee?”
Are you in God’s witness protection plan? Must we go into hiding in some mountain stronghold? The fact is that if He can’t take care of me where I am right now, He can’t do it anywhere.
The big question is, are we really trusting the Lord to take care of us ? Are we afraid to die? That is the worst thing the enemy can do to us and, in effect, the very best!
I think that the devil is probably a good shot and he hires the best marksman in his camp to do us in if he elects not to take us down himself. What hope have we against such odds? We are already in his sights, the arrow is upon the string, the bow is bent (v.2) and it is dark ( see marginal reference) out there, while we are upright and thus in the light. Our only hope is to trust the Lord!
Would we venture far from our door in the dark if we knew there was a lion lurking somewhere behind a building or a bush ready to devour us? If necessary yes, but, we will not fear for we know that He is with us, even in the vale of death or while riding out an earthquake (46:2). Why? Because God is “a very present help in trouble” - that’s why!
Psalm 12:1 “Help”
It is very scary. You are not surprised that the wicked are shooting at you, but you expect the faithful will not fail you when you need them. We should not be too incredulous when we think of it. How can they be strong when they are not eating as they should? So many of our brethren can’t hardly help themselves they are so weak, let alone be able to help us. A milk diet is okay for a baby or a man recovering from an illness, but we need someone who is skillful in the word when we turn to a brother or sister for advice or comfort, someone who is mature and feeds on meat and is experienced (Heb.5:13&14). But where to find such, for the “godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men”.
The last thing we need from a friend is flattery. Can we depend on one who might be guilty of having a double heart? They sing the hymns and put on a good show of being religious but their counsel is based on what they see on T.V. Who needs it ?
Do you know what the term uncircumsized lips means (Ex. 6:12&30)? Isaiah spoke of having unclean lips (Isa.6:5). Verse 4 of this Psalm might be a good description. The solution is in being totally yielded to the Lord Who is over us. Those are the godly and the faithful who can help us. I personally see many churches where it would be difficult to find such.
But do not despair, you still have the Book,(v.6) tried silver and pure!
“Where can I go, oh where can I go--needing a friend--where, but to the Lord.”
Psalm 13: 1 “How long O Lord? Forever?”
We can certainly be thankful that we do not, for the most part, have as many problems as David did. Recently I was reminded of all the things that he had to put up with. His boss (Saul) tried to kill him; his best friend’s father hated him. His first wife despised him for his devotion to the Lord; his friend was killed in battle; his wives were taken captive; his general defied him; his rebellious son tried to kill him; he lost a child as a result of his own sin; a chief counselor, Ahithophel, turned against him and even on his own death bed, his fourth son, Adonijah, plotted against him.
Obviously there were many times in the midst of these troubles that David felt that the Lord had forgotten him. Job went through the same negative thinking when he was tested (6:4) and we sometimes feel the same way.
Before the Lord Jesus came to this earth, David (a type of Christ) was probably the one of whom it could be said: He was tempted in (most) points as we are. Why? In order that he might write these encouraging messages which we find so helpful. (2 Cor.1:4).
May we find the faith and courage in the midst of our trials to end each questioning session with the kind of thoughts by which David so often ended his. “I have trusted....my heart shall rejoice....I will sing.... He hath dealt bountifully with me.”
Psalm 14:1 (see also Ps.53) No God
Can you think of someone who acts as if there were no God? They are all around us are they not? Usually they do have more sense than to say in our presence that they do not believe there to be a God such as portrayed in the Bible. Perhaps they will admit to a kind of god who is little more than the figment of their imagination, one who fits their little world view conveniently. This god may or may not have something to do with their being here, perhaps through evolution or some such development.
Note, this is said “in his heart”. It is his core belief but tragically it shows what a total “snow job” depravity has done on the human race. Clearly, as v.2 states, they just do not understand, ie, “their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom.1:21). (The meaning of foolish in the Greek is unintelligent or without understanding). See also Ephesians 4:18.
The sad thing is that “all” are affected. Some appear very intelligent, they often know more about many things than those of us who as believers have not been born with a really great IQ or have had a deficient education due to circumstances. Then too, we have spent our time reading the Scriptures and hearing them preached rather than reading best sellers and the Wall Street Journal. Perhaps in trivia we are no match and in world affairs we show our ignorance, but praise God, with all of our lack of knowledge in this world, with our inadequacies, inabilities and poor judgement, while they put us to shame and “eat us up,” we seek refuge in the Lord Who will show, in the end, which of us has really been the fool.
Psalm 15:1 Who? I, by God’s Grace.
Certainly as we read this Psalm we are concerned about making the application to ourselves. We know that in the O.T. no one abode (sojourned) in the tabernacle. It was not considered to be a place to live, but a place to worship. Even then, only the priests could enter into its precincts. I have a wart on the first digit of the little finger on my left hand. That is enough to keep me out of the tabernacle even if I had been fortunate enough to be born a Levite and had one of Aaron’s descendants as my father (Lev.21:18). Thus moral perfection is implied.
Is it impossible to think that as imperfect members of Adam’s race we might be able not only to get a quick peek into the sanctuary of the Most High God, but actually to live there? Praise God, in Christ I am accepted as one who will live forever in His presence, and even now may abide “under the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps.91:1.
The description of the one who is figuratively seen living in the tabernacle is searching indeed. We can apply most of these verses to ourselves very easily and the Spirit of God would have us do it. If an O.T. saint should submit to an examination as extensive as this, surely we who have His indwelling presence must ask whether we measure up.
Lord show me where I fail in any of these searching standards of your holiness. Do I speak the truth in my heart? Do I backbite with my tongue? Etc.
Failure in these items does not shut me out of sainthood, but would show the unsaintliness of my walk, thus the need for confession (1 Jn.1:9).
Psalm 16:6 Pleasant Places
John Gill, a profound 18th century scholar, says that this entire Psalm is Christ speaking. Of course in verses 9 & 10 this is obvious as is shown in their use by both Peter and Paul (Acts 2:27 & 13:35). He says regarding verse one that the Father did answer this prayer of His Son in many instances during His short life on earth.
It is the second verse that has always puzzled me--how about you?
Gill says that the goodness spoken of here is not His essential goodness or His providential goodness, but His special goodness which is not directed toward the Father but toward the saints, denoting His love, grace and goodwill toward them. Does this help?
It is wonderful to think that our Lord delights in us in contrast to the heathen whose sorrows are multiplied by their false worship.
Since we are one with Christ it may be said that the Lord (Jehovah) is our inheritance and we are His as Gill says this may read “the Lord has given me the portion of my inheritance”-which would be us. This is much the same as Eph.1:11&18 where it may be understood that He is our inheritance and we are His. As such, though again Christ is said to be speaking, “the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places,” we may truly rejoice that in Him, we find it to be true ourselves.
If we do not find our present place to be pleasant it must be that we are not seeing it as He does. “In thy presence is fullness of joy.......”
Psalm 17:8 “Apple of His Eye.” (See Deut.32:9&10)
It was said of Israel (Jacob) in Deut.32:9 that they, as a people, were “the Lord’s portion” and it goes on to say that as things were distributed or portioned out, He got them for His inheritance. We are tempted to say “big deal”! But, think about it, the same is said of us in Ephesians 1:11& 18.
When David asks the Lord to “keep him as the “ apple of the eye” he was probably meditating on this passage in Deut.32 for the next verse says that God found them (him) in a desert and led him, instructed him and kept him, etc.
The term “apple of the eye” refers to the pupil of the eye and the keeping of it refers to the way one would seek to protect it. God has given the eye a brow to help protect it, a covering with lashes also to protect it by being able to blink when something come toward it. There is water to wash it, and like many other parts, there are two in case one should be destroyed.
David had a lot of enemies that were trying to destroy him and he cries to the Lord to protect (keep) him as one who was a part of Jacob. Perhaps he thought of the desert, the waste howling wilderness where he had been driven by Saul.
It’s funny, I used to think that the term “apple of the eye” referred to a special apple one would see on a tree, but though we might be such as the Lord’s portion, all of the commentators that I read indicate that the reference is to the “pupil” of the eye. They must be right, they always are. Ha!
Psalm 18:18 Days of Calamity
Days of calamity come often to God’s people. I don’t know when I have seen so many of my brothers and sisters struck down with cancer. At such a time it is a good exercise to reflect upon this psalm. There was probably not a time when David actually experienced the dramatic events in verses 6 through 15 but he imagined the great machinery of heaven being set in motion as he prayed. He knew that God’s arsenal held many weapons which He could employ on David’s behalf. God shook the earth at Sinai, at Calvary and in answer to the church’s prayers. How awesome and “discomforting” are His lightening bolts displayed for us in many summer storms. When David was personally delivered from his enemy Saul as the prelude to this psalm indicates, it was a wonderful experience and he was exceedingly grateful (v.49).
Mrs. L. was a delightful Christian lady who often visited our church “from away”. She was generous with her money when she saw that there was a need for drapes at the church windows or that a pastor needed a new winter coat. Now she was sick with cancer and lay on what was to be her death bed. As she read this psalm she believed the Lord had healed her and questioned those who prayed an “iffy” prayer. She had claimed verse 19 in her “days of calamity.” How did the Lord reward her? He simply and quietly took her home to an exceedingly “large place.” Mrs. L. had no problem believing in a God who could draw us out of great waters, but she did have a bit of trouble accepting that it might be His will to use this illness of hers to take her home and unfortunately she was a poor testimony to her loved ones in her insistence that she had been healed. Living faith and dying grace are not incompatible.
Psalm 19:10 More Desired than Gold?
So, you want to be a millionaire! What are we willing to pay for a ticket that would make
us one? Surely, as a child of God, we would not exchange our soul for the whole world. One cannot help but wonder, however, if it is not more theory than reality to say we would not exchange the judgements of God in return for gold (v.10).
In this psalm, we must substitute for the “law of the Lord”, the “testimony of the Lord”; the “statutes of the Lord”; the “commandments of the Lord” and the “judgements of the Lord”, the Word of God or the Bible, for this is what is meant.
How much gold would it require for us to take permanent leave of our Bibles? Why not trade something that is of so little use that just now it gathers dust on the shelf. Oh, you say, “I could not bear to part with it,” when the truth is, you have parted with it long ago! Even the fact that one reads it occasionally does not mean that its precepts are valued. True, some are so busy that they fail even to read it, while some read it as a rote exercise but do not live by it. Both have “sold it” in effect and probably for a much smaller price than we might imagine.
Do we know the Bible well enough to be able to say that it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (119:105)? Are we actually afraid to transgress its precepts? Do we study it in order to show ourselves approved unto God (2 Tim.2:5)?
In the light of Hebrews 5:13&14, are we really meat eaters? If not, let us readily confess the sin of it and take God’s strength to change our sense of values in putting His word even above the value of fine gold.
Psalm 20:7 Chariots and Horses
As a young pastor, the Lord impressed upon me the importance of trusting Him to meet my needs. It has always bothered me when I see God’s people making a direct appeal for money. Most of the missionary candidates that come our way simply present the call that the Lord appears to be making upon their lives for full time missionary service and leave it to the Holy Spirit to lead the saints in the matter of support. I think that is as it should be. Occasionally, however, we hear from those who make a direct appeal. “Could you please give us x amount of support per month?” Considering the number of candidates who never make it back to their chosen field for a second term, one must choose very carefully which ones to give church support to, and such would not rank very high on my list.
I remember that years ago while in Bible School we were given the statistic that out of 50 candidates for missions, only 1 ever gets back to their field for a second term. We must be very careful in choosing those whom we support.
This brings up another subject. What we do about financial requests received in the mail, or presented on T.V. Personally, I ignore them. Most of these organizations are not sanctioned by a local church, and we should probably confine our giving to or through our own local assembly in order to be good stewards of the money God allows us to have.
Remember, some trust in chariots and some in horses (and some in mailing lists) but it is those who walk by faith who trust the Lord to meet their needs. Is He able to do it without begging--absolutely!
Psalm 21:3 A Crown of Gold
Let’s talk a little about crowns. They are symbols of authority and power. Our God intended man to exercise dominion for Him upon the earth when He created him (Gen.1:26 b). In the fall, that crown was lost as so aptly put in Lamentations 5:16, “the crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned!” This was said of Israel, but of course is true of the whole race of which Israel was a princely part.
David recognized that his crown of gold was placed on his head by the Lord God, and He alone can restore to His chosen ones the authority that enables us to reign, in any sense, in this life. Paul speaks of reigning in life by Jesus Christ (Rom.5:17) and this, of course, speaks of the restoration of authority and power that is now available to us as believers.
Psalm eight speaks of man being crowned with glory and honor as God gave him dominion over all the works of His hands. Lost in the fall, the crown is partially regained in this life by the believer who learns to be “more than conqueror” thru Christ Jesus. Full recovery awaits “the crowning day”. Meanwhile we have enough authority to cause the enemy to flee when resisted. PTL
Verses in Revelation unfold the “rest of the story”. (1:6; 2:26 & 27; 3:21; 4:10; 5:10; 20:6,- and especially 22:5 where it is said that we shall reign forever and ever). Hallelujah!
Psalm 22:1 Why?
Isn’t it an amazing phenomenon of the prophetic picture that David could be inspired to speak the very words that were uttered by our Lord from the cross? If, as some might suspect, our Saviour was simply quoting scripture it only makes us marvel the more at Him who would be conversant with the Psalms that in the agony of His last moments before death He would be moved to quote this passage. Obviously this was a chapter that He would know better than most. Often He must have meditated on the concepts revealed here. He knew that His death would be on a Roman cross and therefore He must have anticipated such horrendous experiences (v.15) and the piercing of His hands and feet (v.16).
But, we know that those Roman soldiers were not consciously fulfilling David’s prophecy when they parted our Lord’s seamless robe, casting lots for it! And we must remember that the only means of capital punishment known to the Jews in David’s day was stoning. Oh no, there is plenty of evidence in this Psalm that it is inspired prophecy even if we choose not to include verse one.
We can rejoice today to be among “the kindred of the nations” that worship Him, that we are His seed (v.30) who serve Him and we are accounted as His offspring. “He hath done this.”
Psalm 23:5 Running Over
I asked the Lord for permission to share some personal things with you and I think He approves. Some people are so private about money matters that it makes us all feel we should be, but why? Is there not a cause for us to magnify the Lord by using a few details? I think so.
We live basically on $100. per week after giving. I say basically (as a condition) because Gloria has a small amount of income in Canada but we are leaving most of it alone for her future as we have no insurance. However, we were able to borrow against it to purchase our 1998 Honda last Christmas. What a blessing it is to have this “all wheel” drive vehicle when it comes to our driving in winter. The way He worked this out for us deserves to be told.
We had decided to look around for another car in Canada while there for the holidays. Our 93 Buick was getting up there in age and mileage and so we felt it would be good stewardship at least to be open to the change (not expecting to do anything right away). We were thinking in terms of another Buick. We had been leaving our present car at the end of our road all winter since we’ve been married as it would not negotiate our hill by the house in slippery going. Right away, the Lord directed our steps to a CRV Honda on which we saved $4000.00 by getting it in Canada (that’s American money too!) We were practically given a set of four new snow tires; we dealt with Christians; we were able to borrow from an insurance policy that Gloria has, so we have no payments coming out of our U.S. funds. It is like it was given to us as a gift.
Besides the car, we were enabled this fall to buy solar batteries costing over $1300., pay our excise tax and insurance on our two vehicles, over $500., buy our annual supply of propane ($400.) And still have a little money left over going into the winter. Mostly, this has come through opportunities to speak (especially last summer in Eastport).
Our cup runneth over!
Psalm 24:7-10 “The Lord of Hosts”
For a change (and certainly a welcome one) let us hear the words of a great Welsh Baptist preacher, Christmas Evans. Called “ the Bunyan of Wales” his dates were 1766-1838.
In the twenty-fourth Psalm, we have an account of the actual entrance of Christ into heaven. When the King of England wishes to enter the city of London, through Temple Bar, the gate being closed against him, the herald demands entrance. “Open the gate.” From within a voice is heard, “ Who is there?” The herald answers, “The King of England!” The gate is at once opened, and the king passes, amidst the joyful acclamations if his people. This as an ancient custom, and the allusion is to it in this Psalm. “The Lord ascended with a shout;” he approached the heavenly portal-the herald as his escort demanded an entrance. “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” The celestial watchers within ask, “Who is this King of glory?” The heralds answer, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” The question and answer being repeated once more, the gates lift up their heads, and the everlasting doors are lifted up. The Prince enters his Father’s palace, greeted with the acclamations of heaven, all whose inhabitants unite in one shout of joy ineffable: “The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of glory!” Christmas Evans.
Taken from the Treasury of David by Charles H. Spurgeon; Vol.1, page 437.
Psalm 25: 9 “The meek”
Meekness is a Christian character trait to which we all should aspire. It is akin to humility and the Hebrew word here is translated “humble” 5 times (13 times for meek) in the KJV. It is also translated “poor” 5 times and perhaps reminds us of the beatitudes in Matthew 5:3, “blessed are the poor in spirit,” though there is a separate injunction to meekness in v. 5. I think to be humble, meek or poor in spirit are all words meaning nearly the same thing.
The Scripture calls Moses an example of a meek person, the very meekest among men of his time. In the story where this text appears (Num.12:3) Moses is being attacked by his own brother and sister but he leaves his defense entirely in God’s hands.
The Greek lexicon says; “meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.” The meek are willing to trust God to work things out for them and even accept what the wicked do to them, as the will of God.
It is wrong, however, to pray that the Lord will make us humble, or give us meekness. He says, “humble yourselves, etc.” So, how do we do that? We come to Him with words that go something like this, “Oh Lord, I know that in my flesh dwelleth no good thing. I reckon my old self to be dead to those sins of pride and self exaltation. I now yield this body to you that you might fill and use it for your glory.”
When Paul confessed his nothingness he was being humble and when David refused to take things into his own hands in the matter of killing of Saul, he was demonstrating the spirit of meekness. Wait thou my soul upon God!
Psalm 26:7 “...the voice of thanksgiving...”
Last night Bob Johnson brought an excellent message on the subject of thanksgiving (Nov.18, ‘01). I know, we are long past that holiday as you read this, but his point was, that according to the Scripture, we should always be remembering to give thanks to our God. In the morning, as is the custom at our church at Thanksgiving, the time for preaching was given over to testimonies. It was a wonderful service and has been repeated in our assembly for about thirty years. Mike Trumble testified how that it was at this very service some twenty years ago that he was convicted by the Holy Spirit and following the service was led to the Lord. Now he has a wife and six children. One of his children, Mason, is named for me. Mason and I have been hunting together this past fall. He is eleven and I let him use my small .22 rifle. It was the first time he ever hunted with a gun and he had a wonderful time. He shot at a partridge but missed because I told him to shoot at its head. The second time he shot a porcupine which he took home with the intention of mounting it (he is interested in taxidermy). I think his parents talked him out of it! What has all this to do with our text?
It is through the ministry of our church that Bob Johnson (Mason’s grandfather), Mike Trumble, Bob’s daughter Kerry and Mason are all saved. Bob and Mike often minister the word form the pulpit. Mike came through a Bible study that we had at the Maine Maritime Academy. For these things, I lift my voice in thanksgiving and am telling you about some of God’s wonderful works. Can you think of anything better to be thankful for? I can’t, other than my own salvation.
Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord”
Recently I was talking with a pastor who was thinking of leaving his church to find another. There was no good reason for him to leave that I knew about. True, it was a hard place and he had little fellowship so he decided to candidate. There may have been other reasons which he did not share with me, however, it would not have changed my advice to him. What I said, I have said to many who have sought to change their location.
If you are right with God, are on praying ground and have no unconfessed sin in your life, you can absolutely depend on God to move you if He wants to. We look at circumstances and think He wants us to do something about them. Jonah found a boat waiting at the dock and going his way. Surely God must be leading! If, on the other hand, things are not really right between you and the Lord, then you really need to read the story of Jonah!
Our God has plenty of means at His disposal to convince us that He really wants us somewhere else, in fact, to actually force us to move which is the best way, in my opinion. Satan can influence circumstances, but he can’t touch us unless God allows it. It is not being stubborn on our part to resist change, it is playing it safe especially if the change fits our desires.
Someone has wisely said, if there is a cross in it, then God is in it.
Our own pastor recently announced that he felt led to leave. Later he agreed that it would have been a wrong move and called his problem a “brain cramp.”
By the way, laymen also sometimes get the itch to move. It is just as important for them to be in the center of God’s will as for their pastor.
Psalm 28:1 O Lord My Rock
At this time we might examine the concept of the Lord being our “rock”. The English word is use 24 times in the KJV and is translated from two Hebrew words, one referring to a place like a stronghold and is often used in connection with the word “fortress” as in 18:2 and the other mostly signifies strength. We often say that certain things are “as hard as rock”. Most of the time the Hebrew word as used in this text is translated simply “rock” (64 times). Some other words used to translate this same word are; strength (5); sharp(2); God(2); edge(1); beauty(1); stones(1); mighty One (1); strong (1); for a total of 78 occurrences in the KJV Old Testament.
Of course, the word “rock” is a picture word and its frequent use when picturing our God certainly emphasizes His attribute of strength as seen in the translation of the Hebrew word.
We might say that the title of this devotional could also be the title of Moses’ song (psalm) in Deut. 32. Why not read this passage of 43 verses as part of our study today? (Note 31:30 and 32:44 as the parameters of this passage.) All references to God as the Rock are the second of the two Hebrew words discussed above.
The two places where the translators chose to place the word “God” where the Hebrew text says “rock” are: Isa.44:8 and Hab.1:12. In the Isaiah passage we have God calling Himself a rock, “Is there a God beside me? Yea there is no rock: I know not any.”
We have a stronghold better than any that the terrorist, Osama bin Ladin ever had in Afghanistan, and our Rock upon which we stand is strong, so mighty that He thinks of Himself as our Rock.
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.”
Psalm 29 The Voice of Jehovah
As David wrote these words we imagine that he is recalling a powerful storm on the hillside where he was tending sheep. Even as his imagination led him into that beautiful sanctuary, the holy place, which no doubt had been described by one of the teaching priests (2 Chr.17:7-9), and as he began to meditate on the Lord and give Him glory and praise His strength, the thunder of the storm broke across the quiet lake in the distance and the lightening struck the trees splitting them with a roar, scattering bark and huge splinters in all directions as if Jehovah was answering the wonder of his soul with a powerful voice.
Between the blasts David thought of God’s people in the wilderness of Zin in Kadesh and how the voice of God opened the womb of the rock to bring forth water. ( Please see Psalm 114:7&8 where the word “tremble” is the same Hebrew word as “shabeth” also “to calve” in 29:9). He must have been relating the event of the waters of Meribah (Num.27:14) to the bringing forth of an animal in the nearby forest--life springing forth at the voice of the Lord. (Note also Isaiah 66:8 and 9 where “bringing forth” or giving birth is the same Hebrew word.)
Now the storm subsides, peace reigns and as a stream of water flows down the slope, praise flows from the heart of David, it too opened by the voice of the Lord, and his lips speak it forth, “the Lord will give strength unto His people and will bless His people with peace.”
Psalm 30:5 Joy in the Morning
Don’t be discouraged when trying to understand certain parts of the Scriptures. Even Spurgeon “the prince of preachers” didn’t know whether the title of this Psalm was referring to David’s own house that he rebuilt or to a “pre dedication “ of the temple that would later be built by Solomon. He favored the latter, but personally I don’t see why.
What I do is simply to pick out something that I can understand and concentrate on that until God chooses to reveal “the hidden things”. Not that we shouldn’t try by prayer and study to grasp the meaning of David’s spiritual struggles, for example.
Spurgeon thinks that this Psalm springs from David’s experience with Jehovah at the time of his numbering Israel (2 Sam.23:1 and 1 Chr.21:1) and it might be helpful to you to read those passages at this time.
Verse five has always been a favorite with those who are suffering. God has indeed favored us with life, His life. Through the Word of God we who are saved have been given life by the infiltration of our being with His spirit (John 6:63).
Our “night” of trial and suffering may be short or long but we may be confident that “joy cometh in the morning.” Therefore we may pray “hear O Lord and have mercy upon me. Lord, be thou my helper.”
Psalm 31:18-20 Hidden
It is encouraging to remember when reading this Psalm of David that commentators believe it was probably written of his experience with Absalom and if so, what he was going through certainly was to some extent deserved. I say encouraging because while we are guilty of many offenses, we doubtless have not murdered a man and taken his wife. In this Psalm, written for public use (to the chief musician) David says many things that if he had the right to expect, then so might we. In fact an exhortation is made at the end in which we are admonished to “be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” (I don’t capitalize pronouns referring to Deity when quoting from the KJV, since the translators didn’t, but it never seems right!)
Wonderful phrases and verses here may be of great comfort. Take verse five which was spoken by our Lord from the cross. As our example He had this verse in His heart and it very naturally came out during His extremity and has been on the lips of countless martyrs since. This is not because He or they had memorized it, necessarily, but simply that it was an heartfelt attitude toward God as it was in David’s case.
I have often pleaded with God against lying lips (v.18) and still do. How wonderful to be hidden in God’s “pavilion” from the “strife of tongues”. Are you familiar with the hymn entitled
In the Secret of His Presence? Here are a few lines:
“In the secret of His Presence how my soul delights to hide! Oh how precious are the lessons which I learn at Jesus’ side! Earthly care can never vex me, neither trials lay me low; For when Satan comes to tempt me, to the secret place I go, to the secret place I go.”
Ellen Lakshmi Goreth
Psalm 32:10 Encompassed by Mercy
The word “compass” here is the same Hebrew word as is used when Joshua encompassed Jericho and is also the root of the word that speaks about the Lord being ‘round about” His people as the mountains around Jerusalem ( 125:2). So, we can picture in our minds the concept of being hemmed in, surrounded by the mercy of Jehovah.
This mercy is described for us in the first two verses of today’s Psalm. What a blessing to know that all our transgressions of God’s law are forgiven, that our sins are covered out of His sight. Turn to Micah 7:18-20 and read “who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage?” Here is a picture of Jehovah delighting in mercy, having compassion and casting their sins into the depths of the sea. I say “their”sins because, of course, this is written of Israel and speaks of His “mercy to Abraham”.
But, when we turn to Romans four as New Testament believers, we who “believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;” we too along with Abraham find it was “for us also” (v.24) that it shall be imputed (righteousness) or not as the case may be (Rom.4:6-8). Don’t miss the fact that this is a quote by Paul from the Psalm before us (vs. 1&2).
God’s mercy is His undeserved grace bestowed on us because of what Christ did for us on Calvary. And we are enveloped in it!
Psalm 33:12 Which Nation?
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord:”etc. In rightly dividing the word of truth
(2 Tim.2:15) it is very important that we obey certain rules of interpretation. Remember, every verse in the Bible has only one true interpretation and that is the one intended by the Holy Spirit when He gave it through His servants (2 Pet.1:21). We must do all we can in “studying” the Word of God to try to find out the real meaning of the passage. This is why we have pastors who have as their responsibility the feeding of the sheep. If they do not preach expository messages, they are failing that responsibility, for this may be the only real teaching that the congregation unfortunately, receives. Also, since many of the published helps that the layman can utilize such as Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible are based on the King James Version, there are countless Christians that have bereaved themselves of these helps by abandoning the use of that old reliable text.
The verse which is our text today provides us with an excellent example of what we are talking about. The nation referred to in this verse is the nation Israel. That is abundantly clear from the parallel section, cf. “the people he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” The tendency to use this verse in relation to our own country is acceptable only if we are making an application. God has no obligation to bless the U.S.A., for example, though He may. But certainly, as a nation it cannot be said that God is our Lord!
In conclusion, we should pray for our pastors that they may expound the Bible (explain it rather than use it for fancy sermons) and, we should at least keep a King James Version Bible handy for our personal study, incorporating also the helpful use of a concordance that gives us the meaning of the Hebrew and the Greek. Please learn how to use it. It is much more simple than your computer!
Psalm 34:20 “....all his bones:”
In the beginning of this Psalm, David is speaking of his own personal deliverance as clearly indicated by verse 6. At the end of the passage he is teaching God’s “children”(v.11) to fear the Lord as he does. In emphasizing the wonderful protection by Jehovah David lavishly extends God’s keeping to the very bones of his child. First, we must distinguish these promises as being general for we know that the lions in the coliseum did not observe a moratorium when it came to the bones of the saints sent to the arena by the Roman Emperors. At times v.7 is true of particular believers and at times it is not. It all depends on God’s will doesn’t it? That He is able to deliver, we must not question and if He doesn’t, we must not question that either.
We know that John made reference to this verse when he spoke of the soldiers not breaking our Saviour’s legs when they saw that He was already dead (Jn.20:32-36). Now, for a little brain work, and going back to the lesson on the previous Psalm, would we say that John was interpreting this verse or applying it?
I say, applying it. Why? If we say it is an interpretation then we are saying it is primarily a prophetic statement by David. But, in reading the context (v.15-22) we note that the “children” he is teaching are in view. The use of the third person plural in vss.15,17,18& 22 indicate this. True, he does switch to the singular in verses 19&20 but it is not unusual for David to do such. God will do this (if it is His will) for the individual saint and what better way for Him to demonstrate this then to do it for His Son (especially the Paschal Lamb, Num.9:12).
So, the true interpretation governed by the context is that our Father has generally made these promises to His children and the application is that He specifically protected His Son and He may specifically do the same for each of us if it is His will.
Psalm 35: 19 Without a Cause
Usually our troubles are our own fault. We reap what we sow. Certainly David reaped a tragic harvest for sowing his “wild oats.” But writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit we learn that a great number of David’s problems came upon him “without a cause.” Eight times he reiterates this phrase in the Psalms and each time he speaks about being “hated” or “persecuted” or that it is an enemy that is dealing perversely with him, fighting against him, laying a net for his feet or digging a pit for his soul and all entirely “without cause.”
There are probably some who would say that David is in a state of denial, that he really has brought all of these things upon himself, but remember, we are dealing with the Scripture here. David is God’s servant writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is his responses to these experiences that help us identify with him when we too are going through similar circumstances.
David speaks in Psalm 7:4 about delivering some one who “without cause” has now become his enemy. I guess we would be hard pressed to blame David for his imprecatory response (35:26), human nature being what it is, but since we now have the very Person of Christ living in us, the proper responses are found in the New Testament. Romans 12:18 &19 tell us how to react to our enemies. Peter speaks about suffering for righteousness’ sake (1 Peter 3:14) and our Lord told His disciples how they should treat those who hated them (Matt.5:44).
Psalm 36:8 & 9 “Abundantly Satisfied”
Let us take time today to examine a bit of the richness of these two verses. I picked up a clue from my Bible’s center column reference where I noticed that these words “abundantly satisfied” also meant “watered” in the Hebrew. So next I checked out Strong’s Concordance on our laptop computer finding that the sense here is the equivalent of “making drunk” or “filling,” “satiating” or “bathing” oneself in the “river of thy pleasure.”
Isa. 58:11 and Jer. 31:12 both speak of Israel, under God’s blessing, to be like a watered garden, quite the contrast to our garden last summer (‘01) that completely dried up for lack of moisture.
The term “fatness of thy house” is an interesting one. It refers to the saturation of the ashes (of sacrifice) with fat. Check Lev.3:16&17 where we find that all of the fat of the various offerings was not to be eaten but burned up as being “the Lord’s”. If blood represents life, and it does, so fat speaks of abundant life - or life’s over flow (richness). Note these two concepts viz. abundance and fatness brought together in Isa.34 where the Hebrew word of which we speak is translated “soaked” (with blood) and the dust made fat with fatness. Also back in verse five God’s sword is spoken of as being “bathed” in heaven--that is, saturated with God’s judgement.
To apply this word study (which you will not have enjoyed unless you have taken the time to read the passages and think through the subject), father had just bought a beautiful new home and his son, wandering from room to room, kept exclaiming, “is this ours too daddy?” (Arnot) What a Fountain of Life is our God! One day we shall “more deeply drink above” in the broad expanse of glory in Emmanuel’s land.
Psalm 37:7 Wait
There are very few things in life harder to do than to simply “wait.” But among the many injunctions in this Psalm comes this difficult one. The one who “waits patiently for him” is certainly a resting saint. Perhaps we can say that this is indeed the meaning of resting in the Lord.
So, are we resting? Well, are we waiting? And, what does it mean, exactly, to wait? Here again our tools come in handy. To wait patiently obviously when observed as to its use in other places refers to giving birth. It pictures the wait which, though painful, will result in much blessing. In fact, according to John 16:21 even the pain of travail is forgotten. Ask a woman in childbirth what it means to wait and she will laugh (or cry) and say some things must come in God’s time. Right!
As the trusting(v.3) soul waits he will ultimately “dwell in the land and be fed.” Here or hereafter, this has to be true. As we “delight” in the Lord we will ultimately receive the desires of our heart. (Lord thank you for giving me a sweet wife after years of waiting). When everything is committed (by prayer) unto the Lord (v.5) we can be confident that in His time, His will is accomplished as certainly as a birth follows travail.
So, (back to David) what is the sense of fretting over evil-doers? “They shall soon be cut down” and as the grass or the “green bay tree” (v.35) will pass away.
The whole Psalm speaks of what it means to keep these principles in mind. The word “wait” as used in the two other places is a different one and simply means to hope to expect, to look for (without the sense of pain). And what are we looking for? I should say WHO.
Psalm 38:3 “In my flesh”
It is not known what circumstances occasioned this dirge of heart. The title is like that of Psalm 70 but each of the two obviously spring from a different source. There is no other Psalm where the grief of heart seems so deep except perhaps the fifty-first which probably belongs together with this one. How often must David have remembered his great failure in the episode of murder and adultery which we know occasioned the later (Ps.51).
“My foolishness.” Oh that we might view the sins of our youth with the wisdom that comes with age and time. Sadly, while we lament to see our young people doing such foolish things that will no doubt bring regret in later life, it is even more disheartening when we do not see the repentance that should ultimately follow youthful folly. While we wish David might have avoided his foolishness, we are grateful to see in him the altitude of humility.
This Psalm reminds the New Testament believer of that truth which should be often upon our lips as it was on Paul’s as expressed in Romans 7:18, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing..” Twice David says “there is no soundness in my flesh”(vs.3&7). How true this is and I wonder, dear reader, if there is any hesitation to use that word “no” as used by both David and Paul. Better to come to a reasoned awareness of this truth then to be driven to it by something God has allowed to come into our lives for the purpose of humbling us under His mighty hand. There are many passages that we might use to shed light upon our darkened hearts. I will mention a few. Mt.15:19; Mk.7:21; Rom.1:29, 13:13; Gal.5:19&21; Col.3:5&8.
Psalm 39:6 Riches
It is one thing to tithe or give generously to the Lord, and often quite another to see to it that the Lord gets a large portion of our “heaped up riches”, in other words, our estate. But surely it is inconsistent, to say the least, for us to care for the one and not the other. Moreover, it is often gross unfaithfulness.
What provision do we make that the Lord is remembered in our will? Yet, the amount we give the Lord during our lifetime may be a pittance in comparison with what we leave behind for unsaved loved ones to squander or fight over. We hope such will not be the case, but why not make certain that in any case, the Lord gets His share off the top.
Let us consider two other statements in this verse. What exactly does it mean to “walk in a vain shew?” If we are perceived as being faithful in our giving while we’re living but we leave all of our estate to unsaved heirs, I think we’ll be crying after dying because of the vanity of our walk.
Knowing “who shall gather them” is certainly important. Not just knowing it for the succeeding generation over which we have some control, but where does it go from there?
So often it is true that a person will work hard, scrape and save, only to leave what he has saved to those who will not appreciate the sacrifice but actually will suffer from being handed an easy life on a platter.
With some, this is much ado about nothing. For you have nothing to leave behind, but, hopefully this may reach someone who will think it over and act accordingly. Let us pray it will be the case.
Psalm 40:13 “Deliver me”
Some commentators including Spurgeon make this entire Psalm to be Messianic. They say that verse two is a reference to Christ’s death and resurrection and that verse twelve speaks of the iniquities that were placed upon Him rather than His own, of course.
There is certainly no doubt about verses 6-8 as they are quoted in Hebrews 10:5-7 as if our Lord was speaking them concerning Himself.
For me, prophecy is very mysterious and I am looking forward to asking my Lord some burning questions regarding it, how about you? It certainly seems that parts of this Psalm are David’s own thoughts concerning himself. Since it was addressed “to the chief musician,” it was probably produced for public use and therefore had a more universal application. It is certainly true that believers have gotten much comfort from applying many of these thoughts to their own lives.
Probably none of my readers have actually experienced being in a horrible pit, sinking in a quagmire but sometimes most of us have felt as though we were. We might even express these thoughts regarding our being brought to salvation from the pit of sin and death. But to say as in verse one that we were waiting patiently for this deliverance and praying for it could hardly be applicable. Joseph and Jeremiah both knew exactly what it was like to be drawn out of such a pit (Gen.37:28 and Jer.38:6-13) but there is no record that David did.
To conclude, it’s fair to say that there is something in this expression of poetry and prophecy for each of us.
Psalm 41: 12 Before His Face Forever
According to most scholars of the Psalms, the psalter is divided into five books (perhaps
resembling the 5 books of Moses- Pentateuch). This Psalm is the last of the first book and ends with a doxology (v.13). Other sections end also with “ amen” single or doubled, except the last which ends with high praise. The three following sections finish at Psalm 72; 89 and 106. Close examination shows that each section has its own peculiarities. For example, all of those in our first section that are inscribed are Davidic whereas the next contain those of a variety of authors. (Note, the old Schofield Reference Bible has these divisions).
Again, it seems to me as I have studied it and read the commentaries, this Psalm like most of the others, speaks of David’s own experiences, and though this whole Psalm is considered to be Messianic by some (E.O.Phillips, for example), the events and emphasis are more suited to him than Christ.
On the other hand, there can be no question of the prophetic nature of v.19 when we read John 13:18 where our Lord called this reference a prophecy concerning His betrayal by Judas. Even in this instance, David is probably thinking of Ahithophel’s false friendship (2 Sam.15-17). It is to be noted that Jesus omitted the part about the “familiar friend”.
Finally, to get some honey for our soul, isn’t it wonderful to know that our God “favorest” us, “upholdest” us and “settest”us before his “face forever”(vs 11-12)? He favored us by saving us from the penalty of sin, He upholds us by giving us daily victory and one day we will be in His presence forever. This is salvation past, present and future.
Psalm 42 Been There, Done That!
It is difficult to imagine what it must have been like to have been in such straits as the psalmist portrays in so many of these poems. And, if we cannot recall ever having gone through such trials, we find it impossible to feel the depth of pathos being expressed. Tears day and night while being taunted by one’s enemies; “where is thy God?” Fortunately I have never been there, but I know one thing for certain, if I had been there, this Psalm would be a great help.
Some say that this is the expression of David as he fled from Jerusalem and from Absalom, his son. Shimei had cursed him (2 Sam 16:7&8) and cast stones at him. He called David a “bloody man” and so he was for later when forbidden to build the temple God had said the same of him (1 Chronicles 28:3), but to say God was behind Absalom’s rebellion was not true and when later David grieved over his death (2 Sam.18:33 & 19:4) we hear something of his broken heart.
Driven from Jerusalem under such circumstances and remembering other tomes when with joy and praise he had “kept holy day”, it is no wonder that for a small moment he felt himself “forgotten” by God (v.9).
Dear reader, if you have been going through such a trial, rejoice with the psalmist as the billows roll over your head, to know the refreshment of the deer at the waterbrook as your sorrows bring you into His presence (v.2). Meanwhile I will rejoice to be able to say that heretofore I have been spared such trials - or is it that I have forgotten them? Blessed forgetfulness!
Psalm 43:3 “O Send out thy Light...”
Probably this psalm should be read in conjunction with Psalm 42 as we note the recurring
sentiments in 42:6; 42:11 and now in 43:5. One will note that in our King James Version, there is no title affixed here. The theme, however, is very much the same: “why dost thou cast me off”, “why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” “O deliver me” etc.
It is the words of verse three that attract my attention today, however. These wonderful words, “O send out thy light and thy truth” are a cause of sadness to me, for this was the motto on the front wall of Winn Hall at Providence Bible Institute and was faced by the student body at every chapel occasion.
Sad, partly because the building has been demolished to make way for progress on Smith Hill behind the capital building there in Providence, R.I., but mostly because the light that once beamed so brightly from my alma mater has been extinguished. It might better be called “the light that failed” and to my way of thinking, it failed because of a gradual erosion of “truth”.
I remember confronting the dean of the school shortly after graduating, with an issue involving an instructor who had, among other things, advised the pastoral students to seek out the pulpits of larger churches. “Well, Charles”, he said, “he signed our doctrinal statement”. Not long after that, the school declared that it was no longer a terminal school for the ministry. I wonder how the scores of former graduates who serve as missionaries, pastors and other Christian workers felt about that! (Today the school no longer exists.)
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul and why art thou disquieted within me?” Such things are sad indeed, but, praise God “His truth abideth still”!
Psalm 44:1 “We have heard with our ears...”
Or, perhaps it is rather that we have read with our eyes. Church history is filled with wonderful stories of the works that God has done “in the times of old”.
Such a wonderful story took place not far from here in Sedgewick back in the early 1800's. It concerns a faithful pastor by the name of Daniel Merrill who led his church out of Congregationalism, where it claimed the largest membership of that denomination in the State of Maine, and into fellowship with the Calvinist Baptists. Accordingly, a boatload of Baptist dignitaries from the Boston area sailed up the coast and into Benjamin River where in two days eighty-five members led by pastor Merrill and his wife entered the waters of believers baptism and were later constituted into a Baptist church.
These momentous events were recorded in an issue of The Massachusetts Baptist Magazine in an article written by Mr. Merrill.(May 1805, p.124). Years ago rummaging thru some papers in an antiquarian bookstore I came across a number of issues of these magazines which I still have and cherish. They are nearly 200 years old. Thank you, Lord!
It is stories like this that encourage me to pray for pastors in our area that they might one day “see the light” and move to a more scriptural position than that they now hold.
May you, dear reader, be encouraged to do likewise and if you would like a copy of a more detailed account of the above story, I will be happy to send you a copy of one I wrote a few years ago.
Psalm 45 A Song of Loves
If this epithalamium is not Solomonic, it certainly sounds like it. What? You don’t know what that word means! Shame on you (and me too) but I looked it up in Webster’s so you don’t have to! This is a song or poem in honor of a bride and groom. Of course, the Bridegroom is Christ and we are the bride.
There can be no doubt regarding the references to Christ. “Fairer than the children of men”; “grace poured into thy lips”; the girded sword, the “ivory palaces” etc. remind us that this psalm has been the songster’s treasury, providing rich reference to our King.
Verses 6 & 7, being quoted in Hebrews 1:8 & 9 leave no doubt that our Lord Jesus is the theme. And note that in the latter reference the Son is called “God”.
Would we be like Him? Verse seven tells us how. And surely we with gladdened hearts, are set apart, who, like Him, love righteousness and hate iniquity (wickedness).
Chosen by Him to be His bride, we are amazed to think that He would desire us but then to say we are beautiful! We must certainly wonder at the grace that flows from His lips. “Forget,”(v. 10) ah yes, there is much to forget and no earthly ties should bind us as we look forward to entering the King’s palace. Even now has He decked us within with glorious garments and what shall it be like to be brought unto Him in needlework of imparted righteousness. Never was Aaron so arrayed, though clothed with garments of glory and beauty.
Let us be thoroughly instructed (Maschil) by this song of loves.
Psalm 46:4 “There is a river...”
With an amazing clarity of pre-vision the psalmist speaks of the river seen later in Revelation 22 which makes “glad the city of God” as it passes through the golden streets from out of the throne of God. In keeping with Hebrew poetic parallelism it is probable that the subject of verse four which is the “river” is but another way of saying, as in verse five, “God is in the midst of her;” for is clear from Jeremiah 2:13 that God sees Himself as “the fountain of living waters,” and Psalm 65:9 speaks of the “river of God.”
The fact is that from Genesis 2:10 to Revelation 22 the picture of a river is used to speak of God’s life as it is made available to men. A beautiful scene is given in Psalm 23 and repeated in Jeremiah 17:8 where trees by the riverside picture men with roots as it were into the very life of God. Our Lord Jesus adopts the same concept in John 15 where He teaches the disciples to abide in Him as branches attached to a vine. In both, we understand that it is the in-flowing of His life that makes us what God wants us to be.
Conversely, in John 7:38 Jesus speaks of the flowing of life out of the believer and John tells us this is the Spirit Who was soon to be received. The dramatic influence of one good drink of this water of life is seen in the experience of the Samaritan woman of John 4, an experience common to all believers (1 Cor.12:13).
“Glad,” I guess so! The Lamb’s bride (Rev.21:9&10) identified with this city of God will sparkle and bubble with exuberance beneath the shady trees along this monumental river, refreshed and nourished beside it forever!
Psalm 47: 3 “...under us.”
Revelation 2:26 & 27 comes to mind. The overcoming saints are given “power over the nations.” We are said to bear rule over them with a “rod of iron.” Though we usually think of this as referring to the reign of Christ (Ps.2:9 & Rev. 19:14) it is clear from this passage that we are to be involved. The fact is, according to Rev.20: 6, we are said to be reigning with Him during the thousand years of the millennium.
In Hebrews 2:5-10 the writer specifically says that “the world to come” will not be in subjection to angels but, rather, to us. He then goes on to quote Psalm 8 about God putting Adam over the works of His hands. The implication is certainly clear that as part of man’s intended dominion, we will be along side of the King in His reign over the earth for the thousand year period. Wow! That certainly gives us something to think about, doesn’t it?
Going back to Psalm 47 we are told to clap our hands and “shout unto God with the voice of triumph.” Let us imagine ourselves in the house of golden shields (1 Kings 10:17) singing praises to the King of all the earth. The heathen may rage as they do today, but soon our God will reign over them and we with Him. It is in “understanding “ this (v.7) that we magnify Him in our praise. “He is greatly exalted”.
Psalm 48:2 “Walk about Zion”
May I take the liberty to share with you a poem, the words of which came to me while sitting in my deer stand. I scratched them down on the back of my hunting license. I realize that some of you are familiar with it as we used it in our Christmas greeting recently.
The poem in entitled: Beautiful for Situation and was inspired by the words of this Psalm.
Beautiful for situation
Is the Zion of my King.
Jewel of Jehovah’s choosing,
He, the One of Whom I sing.
Yet as great as is the standing
Of the nation Israel,
My position’s even greater,
Who was once a child of hell.
Test the bulwarks, walk the ramparts,
None is more secure that I;
Chosen in the Lord and precious,
I’ll be with Him by and by.
In the meantime, He has sent One
Who is absolute in power.
He it is Who guards the castle;
If the enemy should catch me
Fast asleep in danger’s way,
My protector never slumbers,
He will keep me, come what may.
If an arrow shot in secret
Targets me while on the field;
If it reach me, ‘tis to teach me;
Otherwise, ‘twill hit my shield.
There is not a thing can harm me,
From God’s Word, I understand;
Long before it ever reach me,
It must first pass thru His hand.
So I’ll rest my faith in Jesus,
He’s my Captain, He’s my stay;
And await the shout of triumph;
Who knows? It may be today!
Psalm 49:4 Dark Saying
The word here translated “dark saying” is most often translated “riddle”. So what is the riddle that the harpist is opening? It is the same one found in other Psalms as well, the part that men can seem so well off in this life and yet not make it up to the next. I say “up” because the psalmist speaks of this man’s “descent” in verse 17.
It always seems such a loss when wise men die even as the fool. Some of what they possessed is left to others, it is true, but all that was stored in their brain is lost along with the talent of their fingers and the power of their legs. Why all this saving, to leave to others one’s wealth? What for such striving for prowess to ultimately loose one’s health at the final call? They think their houses and lands will perpetuate their name but though praised in life for well doing, none of these things will do them one bit of good where they are going for they were not able to take any of it with them (v.17). They were no better off than a beast, a dead sheep.
In light of this we should be thankful every day that God has redeemed us from the power of the grave and will receive us because One was found Who as our Brother gave His life a ransom for us that we might live forever and not see corruption. See verses 7, 9 and 15.
“O grave where is thy victory?” 1 Cor.15:55
Psalm 50:2 The Shining God
This is the first of the Psalms ascribed to or for Asaph. There are twelve that bear his name, but as Spurgeon indicates in his comments on the title of this one, he could not have written them all. Comparing 2 Chronicles 29:30 with 1 Chron. 16:7 we see he wrote some but not others. Also we find there were several men with the name Asaph. Some Psalms were probably delivered to him in order for him to compose the music to which it was sung. These thoughts come from The Treasury of David, Vol.2, Pg. 429.
Some things we should think about as we meditate on this piece of poetry are:
God saying, “If I were hungry I would not tell thee.” We sing the little chorus “God owns the cattle on a thousand hills,” etc. but what a wonderful thought and so simply put, “the world is mine and the fulness thereof.” How low the sense of worship must have fallen in Israel for God to say that He did not want bullocks and he-goats from them. What He wanted from them He likewise wants from us, thanksgiving and dedication (v.14).
And again, God saying, “consider this ye that forget God, lest I tear you to pieces”. “Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire”. Hebrews 12:28-29.
And finally, God promising, “call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me”.
Psalm 51:5 “.....in sin did my mother conceive me.”
There was certainly nothing wrong about the mechanics of David’s physical birth. Sex is God’s idea and there is nothing in the Bible to indicate that there is anything wrong with it in its place. “Marriage is honorable in all, and the (marriage) bed undefiled..” says the author of Hebrews (13:4). David’s mother and father were honorable people --he was not speaking of their sin here.
What he was speaking about was the fact of original sin, the doctrine, embedded in Scripture, that indicates that sin is the result of Adam’s fall. He is not here trying to make an excuse, but is rather indicating to God that he understands the sin problem. There are many who do not! We are not sinners because we sin, but, we sin due to the fact that we are sinners. How important it is that we have that straight in our thinking. The fountain-head of all sin is to be found in Adam. We are born sinners. If we do not understand this basic principle of theology, we will not really be able to appreciate the substitutionary atonement. God included us all in Adam’s sin that by His grace He could include us all in the death of the last Adam (1 Cor.15:22 & 45). It is believing this that enables us to pass from death to life.
One may well speculate that the shallow experience of an “easy believism”, resulting in those who are Christians in name only, is due to a real lack of understanding what really transpired at Calvary.
Humility as seen in David’s deep confession is produced in us when we realize that the bubbling forth of our sinfulness is but the normal expression of a human heart that is deceitful and desperately wicked. It is not a slight failure in an otherwise good man, but the awareness of the utter corruption of our humanity that catches the attention of our merciful and loving God as we cry to Him in repentance.
Psalm 52:1 When the Mighty Boast
We see here a close up view of what is meant by the opening words of Psalm one. David is the tree, planted by the river (that is, in the house of God--see Ps. 92:13 and Isaiah 61:3). Remember, the river is seen in Ezekiel 4:7 as proceeding from the millennial temple.
In contrast, the major part of this Psalm has to do with the chaff, driven before the wind, or as it says here “ plucked out of his dwelling and rooted out of the “land of the living”. The title tells us that this is about a man named Doeg. You may read the story in I Samuel 2:7 and 22:9-23. The gist of it is this: Doeg was the chief of Saul’s herdsmen, a hypocrite of the first water. He had been present when Ahimlech the priest had given David bread from the Tabernacle and Goliath’s sword. He ratted to Saul about this and ultimately at Saul’s command murdered the priest, Ahimlech along with forty-four fellow priests. A slip of the lip had sunk their ship we might say, and David felt guilty as if he was ultimately responsible for their deaths (v.22).
What kind of a man would do such a dastardly deed when the other servants of the king, his guards, flatly refused? Well, David gives us a clear description. He was a liar with an evil tongue that was razor sharp. He was apparently quite wealthy and trusted his wealth more than he trusted God. I think it is a further commentary into the character of Saul for him to have such a man on his staff.
We don’t exactly laugh when we see someone caught in their own net (like Haman in Esther 7:10) but it does make us feel good to see God winning out over such evil men. Don’t you like to see good triumph? Apparently it did in this case, and ultimately will in every case. Praise the Lord!
Psalm 53:1 The Last Word
After comparing this and the 14th Psalm to see what differences might occur and puzzling over verse five, I finally decided to check out the Septuagint version of both Psalms. Checking the wording again of the 14th I suddenly became aware that there was a lot more to verse three than appears in our King James Version. After the words “ there is none that doeth good, no, not one”, the verse goes on to say, “their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes.” That’s 61 more words than is found in verse three in the fourteenth Psalm--wow! And where have we heard or seen these words before? Yes, that’s right, in Romans 3:13-15. Here I thought they were Paul’s words and, lo and behold, he was simply quoting the Septuagint. The next question is, where did the translators get these words attributed there to David? I think we must conclude that they were temporarily lost from the Masoretic text until restored by the Apostle quoting, as the N.T. writers often did, from the Septuagint(LXX). Certainly, if they were not a part of inspired scripture before, they definitely are now that the New Testament has been completed.
This additional material helps us with verse five. Putting together the words “there is no fear of God before their eyes” with “there were they in great fear, where no fear was” helps us to see that the subjects here were the “workers of iniquity” who foolishly did not believe in God nor fear Him, now plenty scared as God wipes them out, putting them to shame in His dispersing of their hostility toward Him. He always has the last word!
Psalm 54:2 Hear my Prayer
As you can see from the title, the event that occasioned this prayer occurred when Saul was pursuing David in the wilderness. You may read the story in 1 Samuel 23:19-20. It is an excellent example of answered prayer. The prayer was a simple one “Save me O God”, “Hear my prayer O God, give ear to the words of my mouth.” And, as the last verse of this Psalm says, “For He hath delivered me out of all trouble,” so we see that God did answer.
Two things happened to deliver David. First, he simply “happened” to go around one side of a mountain while Saul went to the opposite side. Secondly, Saul got news that made him temporarily withdraw from the assault.
This all happened at Sela-hammahlekoth which received its name following this episode. It was a hill or rock of division for it was here that God divided Saul from David and thus answered David’s prayer, the latter writing a song in commemoration of the event.
Can you think of times when the Lord has graciously answered your prayers by some simple intervention that others might have called happenstance? How many times does He do things like this for us that we never know anything about?
Those of us who are heirs of salvation (all of the saved) have at least one angel watching over us at all times. We are their “charge” and they are to keep us out of harm’s way. Perhaps eternity will reveal how many times we have “happened” to go one way when danger lurked in our path had we chosen an alternative route.
I would, no doubt, have been drowned in Gardener’s Lake had not my angel (and my mother) been watching out for me when I was a small boy, half in the boat when pulled out by Mom when 14 children were lost in that boating accident.
Psalm 55:13 “But it was Thou...”
An ancient document, as well as most commentators, names Ahithophel as the object of David’s anguish in this, another of several Psalms, where he speaks of personal hurts. We all find one of the hardest thing to bear is the betrayal of a friend. Ahithophel was David’s counselor, whose apparent intimate companionship he often enjoyed (v.14). Now, the city, upon whose ramparts they had no doubt strolled together, was filled with violence and strife (v.9) as his son Absalom stirs up mischief against him and gains the confidence of those he counted as friends.
We never know what things lying hidden may erupt through Satan’s craft to be used against us. Probably the fact that Ahithophel was Bathsheba’s grandfather (2 Sam.11:3 with 23:34) may have been a factor in his deceit. His hypocrisy (v.21) was rewarded in his suicidal death and we can only hope that when death seized upon him it did not land him in the wrong compartment in Sheol. At any rate, it would seem that David’s prayers were answered when Hushai’s counsel was preferred above that of Ahithophel (2 Sam.17:14) and David’s life was spared.
It is a gem like verse 22 that adds sparkle to an otherwise sad situation. It is a good verse to commit to memory. 2 Samuel chapters 15,16 & 17 contain the story of Ahithophel’s traitorous acts.
Psalm 56: 9 “God is for me”
Like a child bragging on his dad, David banks on his Father to come to his rescue.
Coming out of the vestry of the congregational Christian Church in Lubec after Sunday School I once faced a small gang of boys who were ready to pounce on this seven year old. Fortunately for me, a member of my family was waiting nearby to take me to my grandparents’ home out on the Ridge. Whew! That was close! Just so, even this fatherless boy could occasionally count on some family member to come to his rescue, but if only there was a dad upon whom one could count every day!
David needed help just about every day or so he says in the opening verses, but he knew that he had God on his side and if He is for us, who can be against us (Rom.8:31)? And while we are here in Paul’s epistle to the Romans let’s have a look at the next verse, for it also says pretty much the same thing as David in his conclusion of this Psalm. If the Lord is so much for us that He gave His Son for us, isn’t He apt to be around whenever we really need Him? “Yes, Lord, thou hast delivered my soul from death and I can surely count on you to daily keep me from those enemies that are waiting to swallow me up right at the doorstep of the house of God. I can walk away in triumph and keep on walking every day in the light of the living! God is for me! Isn’t that just the greatest!
P.S. note the repeated refrain in vss. 4 & 11.
Psalm 57:1 Under His Wings
Three times in the Psalms David speaks of hiding in the shelter of the “wings” of the Almighty (v.1; 17:8 and 63:7). Three references to this subject came immediately to mind.
The first is found in that beautiful love story of Ruth. Boaz, the mighty man of wealth commends Ruth for her integrity and hopes for her a full reward from the Lord God of Israel “under whose wings thou art come to trust.” It was no small matter for Ruth to decide to accompany her mother-in-law back to the land Naomi had left when her husband Elimelech fled from a famine. It is evident that it was primarily to Naomi’s God that she was cleaving (1:16), and certainly she was richly rewarded with a wealthy and influential husband that loved her and a family from whence came a king. Ruth was David’s great grandmother.
Secondly, one’s mind cannot help but go to the New Testament and those wonderful words of our Savior (Matt.23:37) in which He speaks of His desire to gather Jerusalem’s children to Himself much as a mother hen gathers her brood (Luke 13:34) under her wings. What a marked difference in the attitude of one who delights in the hiding place beneath Jehovah’s “wings” and those who will not have it so.
This and the previous Psalm speak of David’s trust and the imagery in this verse says it all.
The third reference is not to the Scripture but to the inspirational words of a familiar gospel song: “Under His Wings I am safely abiding.....(let’s go to verse 3).
Under His wings, O what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus I’m safe evermore.
Under His wings, under His wings, who from His love can sever?
Under His wings, my soul shall abide, safely abide forever.
Psalm 58:11 “.....a reward for the righteous:”
The fact that these three Psalms (57,58, & 59) are grouped together here under the title
“Al-taschith” is perhaps significant. The word means “destroy not” and seems to refer to David’s request for protection by Jehovah “until these calamities be over past” (57:1). They were written at a particularly trying period in David’s experience when he was being persecuted by Saul. It is suggested by Spurgeon, commenting on the title of 58, that these titles were probably used to aid the memory more than to describe the content. You will note that they also contain the word “mitcham” which is variously spoken of as “a golden secret”, “David’s Jewels” “a golden psalm”(Gill) “for a memorial”(LXX) and “a Psalm of deep mystical import” (JFB). (It is also applied earlier to Psalm 16).
Reading the three together is probably a good exercise but indeed most of us would find the extreme conditions under which David was living to be far from our everyday life in the 21st century, at least in America. But let us not forget that there have always been life or death struggles at one time or another and for those going through such it would be helpful to remember these “destroy not” Psalms (protect me).
It is to be noted that these, like many others, each end on a high note of praise and the “golden thought” of today’s reading is that in spite of all one must sometime endure, “there is a reward for the righteous” at the end, when we, with Paul, will receive a crown of righteousness along with all those who “love His appearing”. (2 Tim.4:8)
Psalm 59:3&4 No Fault Insurance
It seemed as though the whole “congregation” of Israel was against him (58) and that lions (57:4), adders (58:4) and dogs (59:6&7) were after him, as David besought Jehovah to “destroy not” his servant (59:1).
The occasion of this Psalm as David reflected back upon it was when Saul sent soldiers to the house of his son-in-law to kill him. David’s “no fault” insurance kicked in as his wife Michal helped him escape by lowering him down through a window (1 Sam.19:12) while “bloody men” lay in wait for his soul (v.3). He felt that this persecution from the hand of Saul was entirely unjustified (3 & 4).
It is probably well for us to remember when we are going through persecution we feel we don’t deserve, that we also do not get anywhere near the punishment we do deserve, so we come out way on top in the long run.
1 Corinthians 10:13 comes to mind when we think of David’s escape--take a bit more time to look it up today.
As already indicated, one of the special blessings of many of the Psalms is how David ends them on high notes of praise. Here, in spite of all his problems, he sings of God’s power, of His “mercy in the morning” thanking Him for being his defense and refuge in the day of trouble. As he calls Him “his strength” let us remember today that He is ours as well as we also take refuge “in the shadow of (His) wings”(57:1) until whatever calamities we face “be overpast”.
Psalm 60:12 Doing Valiantly
Before commenting on this Psalm I would like to share a short story. You know that I quote C.H.Spurgeon from time to time. That’s because his work on the Psalms entitled “The Treasury of David” is so rich and I am certainly blessed to own it. There is nothing else that even comes near it. He not only gives his own interpretation verse by verse, but he includes from his extensive library the comments of other writers. And this in a day long before computers!
Well, here’s the story. One day in 1967 a friend and I were in Burlington, Vermont waiting for the car ferry to cross Lake Champlain. I had noticed a used book store a few blocks away, so while waiting I decided to check it out. I came trudging back to the car carrying seven volumes for which I paid five dollars! Thank you Lord!
When one reads the title of this Psalm and then the opening verses, they seem contradictory. Spurgeon helped me see that David is at first looking back at Israel’s sorry history before his own reign began, especially at her defeats at the end of Saul’s reign. Then, in an abrupt change of mood, he lists his current and prospective triumphs having properly called upon God and giving Him credit. Be sure to get the sense of verse six. “God hath spoken: I (David) will rejoice and divide Shechem” etc. (Until today I thought it was God saying “Gilead is mine” etc. No it is David taking these victories by faith as he displays the banner of truth!)
In Exodus 17:8-16 we have the story of Joshua’s victory over Amelek (flesh) followed by the erection of an altar called Jehovah-Nissi (the Lord our banner). Remember, every failure on our part is the fault of the flesh. Erect the altar of Romans 12:1&2, forsake the past weaknesses and take the victory. The banner of truth declares-2 Cor.2:14 (you must look this up!) “Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies”(v. 12).
Psalm 61: 4 “I will abide in thy tabernacle...”
Let’s think about David talking of abiding in God’s tabernacle forever. Did anybody but God actually live in the tabernacle? No, the priests ministered there but there was actually no place even to sit down in it. Of course there was the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, but it was not a place for a human to sit. The high priest alone only got into it once a year.
David knew that even as a king he had no right to enter the Holy Place where the lampstand, the table of shewbread and the incense altar had been placed by Jehovah. Here the priests served the Lord and must have taught the people what it was like to be so near His holy presence. It was the place David longed to be as evidenced by verse four and various other references in the Psalms. (15:1; 27:5&6; 84:1&10; 43:3&4; and 132:7)
We, perhaps, can take a lesson from David who obviously used his imagination when he spoke of worshiping Jehovah “in the beauty of holiness” (Ps.96:6&9). As he meditated he could no doubt see himself as present in the particular loaf of shewbread that represented his tribe, Judah. As he besought the Lord for guidance he probably thought about the illumination in the Holy Place furnished by the seven branched lampstand fed by oil representing the ministry of the Holy Spirit. If he tried he could surely recall the special odor of the incense that he had detected on the clothes of the priests who attended the golden altar. So near to God were they and I, like them, draw near to worship You in the solemn recesses of my inner being.
It is not the sacrifices of the brazen altar that You most desire, but rather, the sacrifices of a humble and contrite heart. (Psalm 51:16&17)
Psalm 62:9 Somewhere in Between
It is only by God’s grace that I did not turn out to be a man of “low degree”. There were certainly enough of them around me when I was young and impressionable. Swearers, vile and filthy talkers were everywhere in Lubec where I grew up. I’m sure it must be so today, it’s just that, fortunately, for me, I do not come in contact with it. I heard enough “dirty” stories to fill a book! The adult males I often saw were perverted and lascivious and no role model for a growing boy. I feel sorry for Christian men who must be constantly exposed to this sort of thing in their workplace.
But then, missionaries recently told us at church about the wicked culture in which they must live and bring up children if they are to be where God wants them as a witness. One area where they were headed had an 85% Aids problem and homosexuality and infidelity were the norm. One might imagine how such people would watch a Christian hoping to find some reason to “cast him down from his excellency” (v.4) especially when they begin to learn how sinful they appear in the light of God’s holiness.
On the other hand are the “men of high degree”. The rich and powerful who constantly live the lie and if cursing is considered impolite, they do it inwardly. They write and others read their curses, obscenities and relive their scenes of adultery and debauchery as if doing it themselves.
Somewhere in between these low lifes and the corrupt high rollers of our society are those who despise oppression and would not steal if their life depended on it. If they should succeed in life and have a little money, it does not become their god. These “laid in the balance” are the true heavy weights in this life. Many are Christians who wait upon God Who is their Rock! The salt of the earth. Praise Him for being ready to hear us when we pour out our heart to Him. He is our Refuge.
Psalm 63:1 “....early will I seek thee:”
If seeing large groups of Pentecostalists waving their hands in the air and swaying their
bodies back and forth “turns you off,” you are not alone, it affects me that way also. But, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath. Just because something is abused doesn’t necessarily make it wrong! If, in your private time with the Lord, you feel inclined to lift your hands to God, do it, David did!
In verse 4 he speaks of lifting up his hands in Jehovah’s name. 1 Timothy 2:1-8 gives us some thoughts on prayer from the pen of the Apostle Paul. It ends with his admonition that men pray everywhere, “ lifting up holy hands...”
I cannot lightly pass this point without stressing the fact that God expects real men to pray. Men are likely to be self-sufficient and may not feel so inclined to prayer as the females in their lives. Men, this is definitely a symptom of the flesh. Reject it, by faith, and ask the Lord to teach you to pray. Get alone and pray aloud. Using the Psalms to help you articulate may be helpful. On your knees, beside your bed or a chair, do what Paul commands and David demonstrates. Say the opening lines of this chapter as if they were from your own heart.
If, dear reader, whether man or woman, you have not developed the habit of a regular time of devotion with the Lord each day I urge you to confess that failing to your loving and forgiving Lord, and determine to begin today.
Psalm 64: 4 & 7 Arrows
One of the major differences between saved and unsaved persons is the way in which the tongue is used. There are thirty-four references to the word “tongue” or “tongues” in Psalms and they make an interesting study. Half of them are negative and describe the kinds of “arrows” that the wicked have in their quiver to use against us. I will give you the first five and perhaps you can find the rest. Ps.5:9, flattery; 10:7, mischief and vanity, etc.; 12: 3 & 4, proud; 15:3, backbiting; and 50:19, evil and deceit.
When, like David, I personally have been under attack, I remember what a comfort it was to claim, on my knees, the promise of 63:11 “ the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.”
It is also wonderful to know the comfort of being hidden “secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues” (31:20).
As expressed in today’s reading, “bitter words” are often hard to take. Perhaps they come even from loved ones who do not yet know our Saviour. These often secret barbs will whistle right over our heads as we remember that we often deserve worse if the truth be known, but in fact they cannot reach us if we remember that it is in Christ that we are accepted (Eph.1:6). Even David, as sinful as he had been, saw himself as “perfect” in v.4. How much more should we, who are in Him, take that position and rest in our Rock?
Let God do all of the firing back (v.7) (Romans 12:19). He knows where the enemy is most vulnerable and He scores a bull’s-eye every time! Trust Him.
Psalm 65:9 “Thou visitest the earth.....”
Spurgeon says, in his comments on the title, that this is the first in a series of four Psalms following each other and that the theme is praise, meant to follow the previous Psalms of pleading and longing. He also says of this piece that “it is one of the most delightful hymns in any language”.
In this past summer and the preceding one, we have experienced drought conditions in our part of the country. Vegetables dried up on the vine and no lush foliage greets our eye when we cast it upon our poor little garden plot. These conditions greatly magnify the showers when finally they come. All of this is a parable being lived out before us. David, in Psalm 63:1 speaks of thirsting for God. His flesh longed for Him “in a dry and thirsty land where no water is;”. There is the “longing” and “pleading”, the desire to see Jehovah’s power and glory, and here, in this Psalm, is the praise for the answer (vss.9-13).
In meditating upon the term “river of God” one should slip back to Psalm 46:4, “ there is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God,” and consider that this river is God Himself.
To our earth, “He sends the sunshine and the rain....;” to the thirsty soul, He is the Water of Life, and in the end He will drench us with overwhelming “showers of blessing” when we see Him. Let us plead for them as those who long to see His face and though we have “seen” Him in the sanctuary of our hearts let us wait upon Him “that hearest prayer” (v.2) until upon this drought stricken world may be poured out the millennial and eternal rains for which it waits.
Psalm 66:16 “Come and hear...”
There are three things and perhaps four that come to mind in preparing to write on this Psalm.
First, there is its prophetic nature. Verse four tells is that all the earth will worship God. Obviously, this cannot happen until the millennium. During that 1000 year reign of Christ on earth, the nations will come to Jerusalem to worship, or else! (See Zech.14:16-19). Of course, this is after the rapture of the church and the 7 year tribulation. I am a pre-trib, pre-millennium, dispensationalist. What are you? (Besides being a Christian, that is.)
In this Psalm of praise, the next thing I’d like to point out is that we are told to make a joyful noise unto God. I am certainly glad for that! As a young person growing up, I couldn’t carry a tune in a bushel basket. As much as I enjoy singing today, other than being loud and only occasionally in tune, the same flatness persists and surely will until I get my glorified vocal cords. So, let’s sing out in church--all He asks for is a joyful noise!
Thirdly, I ought to be ready to give a testimony as to what God has “done for my soul” (v.16). If we can’t think of how it was before we were saved, or what we would be like if we never had been saved perhaps a check is in order to see if we truly are saved.
Finally, the problem as to why we aren’t looking for Jesus to come, the reason why we have no joyful song and why we are never prepared to testify of what God has done for us if indeed we truly are saved may be found in v. 18.
Psalm 67: 3 & 5 “Let all the people praise Thee.”
This trilogy of praise ends with a refrain: “Let the people praise thee, O God: let all the people praise thee.” Wouldn’t it be great if our friends, neighbors and family members had praise readily upon their lips unto our God. Instead what we so often hear is His name being taken in vain. Unfortunately, those who do this are classified as His enemies. Then too, we hear people talking about being “proud” of someone or something they have done. Instead, it would be good to hear
them giving God the glory. Personally, I don’t believe there is anything to be proud about. What have we that we have not received? Our words should rather be, “I thank God for this person or that accomplishment.” A quiet “thank you, Lord” after achievement is appropriate even in the lesser things of life. Thankfulness for food and all of the amenities of comfort and convenience are only right for the thoughtful Christian.
We should praise the Lord for the loved ones He has given to us, particularly our help-meet. It certainly wouldn’t hurt if they heard us giving thanks to God for them. Shouldn’t it be so natural for us to be giving thanks for all things that the Lord has done for us and given to us that loved ones would be surprised not to hear praise as the fruit of our lips.
If you need an example of how proud we are about things that are totally in God’s hands, just listen to the weather forecast. One would think that these forecasters were responsible for all good weather that we get and when they are wrong, never a word about that!
“God be merciful unto us....”
Psalm 68: 35 “Blessed be God.”
It may be helpful, when seeking to understand the background of this Psalm of David, to think of the occasion of the bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:12-19), as many commentators think that this was the inspiration for its creation. Spurgeon, however, while being somewhat supportive of this view, says that his “slender scholarship has utterly failed (him) and (he) had to follow a surer Guide” (a reference to the Holy Spirit). If the “prince of expositors” has trouble with understanding some of these verses, we need not be ashamed if occasionally we come up a bit empty ourselves!
He divides this Psalm thusly: “verses 3-6, the godly in the assembly are exhorted to commence their joyous songs, and arguments are adduced to help their joy. Then the glorious march of Jehovah (JAH) in the wilderness is sung: verses 7-10, and his victories in war are celebrated in verses 11-14. The joyous shouts are louder as Zion comes in sight, and the ark is borne up the hill: verses 15-19. On the summit of the mount the priests sing a hymn concerning the Lord’s goodness and justice; the safety of his friends, and the ruin of his foes: verses 20-23. Meanwhile the procession is described as it winds up the hill: verses 24-27. The poet anticipates a time of wider conquest, verses 28-31: and concludes with a noble burst of song unto Jehovah.” Treasury of David, vol. 3, pg. 214.
Forgive the extensive quotation, but after several hours of study I decided my scholarship was even a bit more “slender” and commit you to our common Guide.
Psalm 69:7 “...for thy sake...”
One of life’s hardest tasks is to suffer wrongfully . Here David sets the example by which he is therefore a type of Christ. Since Christ sets the example for us that we might follow in His steps, we must not be surprised as believers when we too are privileged to suffer wrongfully for His sake, and so, we are admonished to do it for the glory of God.
“Then I restored that which I took not away.” This, according to the JFB commentary, is a proverbial phrase for “I am being treated as guilty of wrongs which I have never done.” We note that David says he accepted the adverse treatment which he describes so vividly in verses 1-4, as bearing reproach “for thy sake”.
Paul tells us in Romans 15: 3 & 4 that the things that “were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope”. Do you see how he takes the Scripture written by David about his own experience and applies them, first noting the example of Christ (fulfilling the type) and then applying the principle to his hearers, the Roman Christians. Christ pleased not himself so ought not we. David responded to the harsh treatment by his adversaries by appealing to God (vss.17 & 18). The day will come when they will get what they deserve (v.24).
In 1 Peter 2:20-24 the example of Christ is also used to admonish us that when we do well and suffer for it, taking it patiently, “this is acceptable with God”.
God, help us under such trials to be given grace to follow in His steps.
Psalm 70:4 “...Such as love Thy salvation..”
You will note that these five verses are almost a word by word repetition of the ending of the fortieth Psalm. It is suggested that it is possibly placed here as a sort of refrain between the 70th and 71st, as being an ending for the former and a preface for the latter.
Let us take this opportunity to rejoice and be glad for our great salvation. What has it done for you?
On my part, God’s salvation has accomplished much. God saved me from my boyhood companions who threatened to drag me away from the protection of home and loved ones into a life of carelessness and contempt for the law. Where would I be today if it were not for His intervention? Having reached and slightly surpassed the “three score years and ten”, I am sadly aware that most of my childhood friends have already passed to their reward, one, I rejoice to say, I will not be forced to share.
His salvation not only took me away from a damning future, it placed me, on the positive side, into a wonderful family. How rich and wonderful has been the experience of being surrounded by a multitude of Christian loved ones and friends, too numerous to recall. Yet, every now and again some name comes back from the past and with it comes a joy of having known that one and the assurance that we will one day meet again at “Jesus’ feet”.
I am just getting started on this subject and here we have run out of space. Will you not reflect a moment on what His great salvation has done for you and join me in saying with David, “Let God be magnified.”
Psalm 71:19 Who is like You!
The soul that has been redeemed has much to sing about (v.23) and it is no wonder that David takes up the harp and psaltery (v.23) and, reflecting upon his life, sings his praises to his God.
There are many things on his mind as he sings of God being his hope (v.5); (can we think of such a song?) of Him who is pictured as a fortress or a rock (v.3), “a shelter in the time of storm”; of the fact that God has been in charge of his life from his mother’s womb (v.6). But what is the grandest subject of them all, one that he speaks of five times in these twenty-four verses? He recognizes that his deliverance from his enemies depends upon it completely. Twice he stated that this subject is on his tongue and comes out of his mouth all day long. It is this attribute of God that he revels in and recognizes as the underlying strength and power to which, he, David, owes everything.
“Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, (exalted) who hast done great things: O God who is like unto thee! (V.19). Of all the great things God has done for us, caring for us from birth, through youth and into old age, being our very “habitation” where we can resort for fellowship while He comforts us and delivers us, the very greatest is the amazing truth (v.22) that He the righteous God has become our righteousness. Yes, truly it takes the New Testament position of the believer and the great words of the apostle in defining it (“for He hath made Him to be sin for us...”. Can you finish the verse? If not, see 2 Cor. 5:21) in order to really express how “very high” is this great theme that David here strikes upon his harp!
Psalm 72: 17 His Name
This Psalm is spoken of (v.20) as the end of David’s prayers. What does this mean, especially in view of the fact that we will encounter a number of his works before reaching the end of what we call the Book of Psalms? Probably, since Psalm seventy seems to have been written near the end of his life and Psalm seventy-one is prophetic of the end of the age, this is accounted for by viewing the preceding Psalms as having been gathered together by him into a complete unit. You may have noted that some Bibles have a reference here stating that this is the end of Book Two, and that Psalm 73 begins Book Three. (The previous division was at the end of Psalm 41, the next two are at the end of 89 and 106. This makes five sections or books and are given in outline by Scofield in his introduction. He states that “each ends in a doxology”.)
Though this is written for Solomon, perhaps even by Solomon as the thoughts are expressed by his father who, in his aged condition, is not able to pen them, and though it envisions for Solomon a vast and glorious kingdom, it is abundantly clear that the prophecy goes far beyond him to “a greater than Solomon” whose kingdom is yet to come.
We look forward to kingdom rule of the Messiah. “His name shall endure forever: ...and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.” It is He alone who is given a name “which is above every name”. We read this of our dear Saviour in Phil. 2:9-12. (.72:11)
“Blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen and Amen” (v.19).
Psalm 73:17 Then I Understood
In this section of seventeen Psalms, eleven are ascribed to Asaph. One more bears this name and it, Psalm 50 is behind us. Perhaps it was not included with these because it was composed by David and given to Asaph to sing. Also, it should be noted that there was more than one man by this name. References to Asaph in connection with David are found in 2 Chr. 29:30, where he is certainly spoken of as an author, in Neh.12:46 and in I Chr. 16:7 which shows David giving to Asaph the words which we will find later on in Psalm 105. He was one of David’s chief musicians and his family followed him in a line of temple musicians.
It is interesting that the subject of this Psalm and that of the thirty-seventh is similar, seeing that one number is the reverse of the other. (Perhaps an aid to memory.)
Why is it, the question is asked, that the ungodly prosper in this world (v.12)? He is often rich and powerful (37:35) but, not to worry, that tree will soon be cut down and you will look to see the place where he stood and it shall not be found (37:2 &10). And where shall such assurance be gained? Where else but in the Sanctuary of God in fellowship with Him? It was there that I understood his end and how slippery is the ground upon which he stands. One moment he is before us, smug in the security of his wealth, and the next, he is whipped into eternity to be “utterly consumed with terrors.”
So often we hear it said of some loved one who has passed away, “well, he is out of his suffering.” If even the rich slip into eternal anguish (Lk.16) what hope has any poor soul who is not “in the faith” when he dies?
John 10:28 & 29
Psalm 74:22 Arise O God
This is a Psalm of instruction as the title states. The author, Asaph, can teach us a lot about prayer.
We often feel like calling God to task and the fact that these words are found in this worship manual indicates certainly that we too may thus address ourselves to God (v.10). How long are you going to put up with this blasphemy? Five times in this section this question, “how long” is asked. (It is asked also by David at times).
Perhaps Psalm 77 is something like a key to Asaph’s writings and in the midst of it he asks some quite searching questions (vss.7-9).
“Lord, please take your hand out of your pocket and do something about this situation” (74:11).
“There was a day when things were different (v.5) when you used do wonders (77:14), when we saw signs of your power (74:9), when you divided the Red Sea!”
“O Lord I am like a helpless little turtledove surrounded by wickedness, please remember your promises. Lord it’s not only my cause, but it is your cause as well”(v.22).
Have you ever noticed that we seem more interested in God saving our loved ones than we are that His Name be vindicated? Our prayers are for the sick and there is a place for that, but do we ever think of how sick God is of having His name blasphemed, of being daily reproached by so many of those around us who live their lives as if He didn’t exist? Much less do they care that God deserves their praise (v.21), He who owns the day and the night (v.16), Who prepared the sun, Who made summer and winter (v.17).
“Arise O God.”
Psalm 75:1 Christ Ones
How near is our God to us, His people? Let’s do a bit of a maneuver. Transfer this question to the New Testament. God’s O.T. covenant Name, Jehovah, resides forever as a part of that Name we always use when approaching the Holy One of Israel, the worthy Name of Jesus (Jehovah saves) (Matt. 1:21). And how near is Jesus?
I remember one of the visits to our church of missionary Earl Tygert in which, each time he made reference to the Lord Jesus in his message, he would stop and ask the question, “and where is He”? At first he got an answer or two of, “in heaven”. “Yes, but where else is He?” After a bit, the congregation caught on to the emphasis brother Tygert was attempting to make and the proper response was made, “in me!”
The Psalmist needed to reflect on the “wondrous works” of God to assure his heart that God’s Name was near. We need reflect on only one of His wondrous works, Calvary, to remind us of the fact that not only is His word near us (compare Deut. 30:11-14 with Rom. 10:6- 8 where Paul speaks of the word being even “in our heart,”) but, beyond this we have that great Pauline statement in Col.1:27 “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. If you got lost in my long sentence, the important truth is this, where is He? Why, of course, He is in me!
The day is fast approaching when His name which we bear as Christ-ians (Christ ones) we will ever wear outwardly (Rev. 22:4). Hallelujah!
Note, it will also help in understanding this Psalm when you realize that the “I” used in vss. 2,3,4 &10 indicates that God is speaking.
Psalm 76:4 Our Glorious and Excellent God
Here we have a marvelous description of what was only hinted at in the previous Psalm. God grabs the horns of the enemy and dehorns him instantly. Out of the north He comes (75:6) to put down and set up whom He will. Remembering the episode at the Red Sea (v.6), the psalmist paints a dramatic scene. While the enemy is looking for his hands at the ends of his sleeves, God angrily destroys his entire arsenal (v.3).
He did this to save the meek (v.9), who will ultimately “inherit the earth” (Matt, 5:5). But, before we do, we may experience persecution and if so, it will be well for us to remember the truth of verse 10. The wrath of man against the church accomplishes that which brings praise to our God. According to Ebenezer Erskine quoted by Spurgeon, the work that God accomplishes is 1.) a discovering work as He separates the chaff from the wheat; 2.) a purging work as He refines His gold; 3.) a unifying work as He drives the sheep together, and, 4.) an enlarging work as a purer people more powerfully represent Him.
It is comforting to know that He will only allow enough of man’s wrath against us as will ultimately bring Him praise but beyond that, He will restrain it. (1 Cor. 10:13)
The present that God wants from us is seen in Romans 12:1.
Psalm 77:13 We’d Better Remember!
It is very helpful to note the continuity that pervades these songs of Asaph. Read them as a unit if you can and note themes and similarities.
In this Psalm he brings his questioning to a climax (v.7) “will the Lord cast off forever?” and will he be favorable no more?” But, he answers himself in verse 10, admitting that these questions stem from the infirmity of his flesh (where most of ours come from too!). He then encourages his heart by remembering the wonders of God’s work in the past. He reflects upon the many expressions of natural phenomena, the waters, the depths, the clouds, the thunder and lightening. By these God declares His strength and pictures them as the muscle in His mighty redeeming arm.
I believe that verse 13 is a key verse for this entire section for it tells us how to get to the real truth of any situation. Spend time in God’s presence! Are we troubled, go to God, are we seeking guidance, do the same. The O.T. saint knew what the Tabernacle was for. It was seen as God’s dwelling place (76:2) and the place to go when trying to understand His ways among the children of men (73:17). During the wilderness experience His presence by day and night was obvious to all and access to Him by sacrifice, a clear and simple concept. The blood sprinkled way led to the golden altar where, represented by a Hebrew priest, ones petitions might be made known.
For us to expect anything to go right and yet to ignore this O.T. principle is the height of presumption, therefore “let us....come boldly unto the throne of grace....”, etc. (Heb. 4:16- your turn- finish it.)
Psalm 78:4 “We will not hide them...”
There is no historical continuity here. First we are being led by the Shekinah (v.14) and then we are back in Egypt viewing the plagues (vss.43-48)! In a few verses we go from Kadesh-barnea (v.54) to the captivity (v.61) then back to David. So, what is the instruction (Maschil-title)?
We are to learn from the rehearsal of these snippets of history how forgetful God’s people were and what became of them as a result. Their main problem we see in verse 37. Their heart was not right with God. Over and over again they kept repenting (v.34), and over and over God kept coming to their aid (v.38), “many a time”.
Israel “tempted God” it is said (vss.18, 41 & 56) flattering Him and lying unto Him. How foolish to try this with One who hears all we say (vss.21 & 59), and sees all we do.
Encouraging words in this Psalm for us to think about are those in v.52 which reminds us that He is our Good Shepherd, and v.61 that tells us that His people are His strength and His glory.
The major instruction here, it seems to me, is the need to pass on to future generations the stories of the Bible that teach us how not to be “a stubborn and rebellious” people (v.8) forgetting “the works of God” and not keeping the word of God (v.10).
This Psalm has a wonderful conclusion in verses 68-72. Perhaps David wrote this whole thing and gave it to Asaph, we just are not sure.
Psalm 79:5 “Angry forever?”
What is the main purpose of our existence, “the chief end of man”? In our theology class in college we were taught that the answer to this question is, “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” There is no doubt that here the psalmist yearns for God to be glorified. Do what we ask for the glory of thy name! Why should it be said by the heathen, “where is their God”?
It is evident that the writer felt very upset over the conditions that existed at this time. The land, yea even the very temple of God had been invaded and the blood of God’s servants not only shed profusely but in addition, the dead still lay about not having been buried.
Many times in the history of Israel have these scenes been repeated even up to our most recent millennium when, though out of their beloved land, Jews were killed by the thousands and bull-dozed into mass graves. “How long, Lord? Wilt thou be angry forever?”
The reason why God is angry is alluded to in verse nine; “our sins” need purging. If ever we needed an object lesson to show us how much God hates sin, we have it in His treatment of the Jews. Yet, if ever we were to ask for an example of His “tender mercies” it must be seen in the fact that He has repeatedly forgiven and restored them as noted in the previous Psalm. Let it not be thought for one instant that this cry for mercy falls on a deaf ear. Soon, the greatness of His power will be seen, soon He will revenge the blood of His servants as the “sevenfold” wrath of the last of Jacob’s trouble will be poured out upon Jerusalem until “every last farthing” has been paid and then, then the heathen will know where He is!
Psalm 80:3 “Cause Thy Face to Shine..”
Do we not recognize a predominant theme in these Asaphic Psalms? Verse four asks the question again “how long.”
Three images are brought before us in this song. God is seen as the Shepherd, as the Shekinah Glory and as the great Husbandman, and we cannot but notice the similarity to several of the great themes of John’s gospel.
Of course you have already noted that this song has a recurring refrain, a chorus, if you will, being repeated in verses three, seven and nineteen.
The term God of hosts is a translation of Jehovah Sabbaoth and has reference to His power, standing as He does at the head of forces numbering “ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands” (Rev.5:11). At the time of His arrest our Lord told Peter, when he sprang to his Master’s defense, “don’t you know that I have the authority to call more than twelve legions of angels to my rescue”- a total force of 80,000 supernatural beings? (A Roman legion at this time consisted of 6100 regulars and 726 horsemen)
Many times God’s people are pictured as a flock of sheep, ( David saw himself as one of those in the sheepfold) but here only do we see this wonderful designation, “O Shepherd of Israel.”
For a really great study in comparison, check out Isaiah 5: 1-7 and note the similarity between it and verses 8-18 of our text. And do not overlook John 15.
Psalm 81:10 Food for Thought
I have tried to find some similarity between this Psalm and the eighth for both have the word Gittith in their title. The commentators say it has to do with the vineyard, and Spurgeon thinks it is really something to have special music relative to wine making. If I could just find an Aroostock County “tater” to ask I might find out the answer as there is supposedly nothing common about them!
Speaking of potatoes, this in more of an eating Psalm than a drinking one. Twice we read of God being ready to fill the mouths of His people. To us in America this may not seem important, but think of the hungry millions to whom this promise would have tremendous appeal.
We have in the last seven verses of this passage one of the saddest notes ever to be found in any literature. It is very much like the lamenting of Jeremiah but especially of our Lord Jesus (Matt.23:37) “and ye could not!” The tears in heaven that will need wiping away are no doubt more to be generated by this failure than for any other cause. If only Israel would have remembered what God had done for them, how (v.7) “that cloud was his secret pavilion, within it he hung up his weapons of war, his javelins of lightening, his trumpet of thunder; forth from that pavilion he came and overthrew the foe that his own elect might be secure.” (Spurgeon) He was ever ready to fight for His people and still is. Of course the key is verse thirteen.
The rocks are the hard places in life, but in God’s economy they yield the sweetest resources of His goodness to those who “walk in (His) ways.” “Feed me till I want no more.”
Psalm 82:6 “Ye are gods”
Though there are about a dozen Psalms where the words “how long” are directed to God, it is quickly seen that since this is addressed to those who judge unjustly, this certainly cannot include our God who is forever just and holy! I was nearly caught off guard here myself. Read these verses like this: God (v.1) judges among those given authority to be judges on earth and He says, “how long (v.2) will ye judge unjustly, etc”. The term “gods” troubles us at first, since we know there is only one God, but this word is used this way in several places (example: Ex. 21:6 where the word elohim usually translated God is here translated judges. The lexicon in Strong’s concordance states: “occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates.”) Note even our Lord Jesus’ use in John 10:34 & 35; a cross reference being given to Romans 13:1 where it is pointed out that all human “judges” are only so by virtue of the fact that they have been ordained by God.
The important matter in this Psalm is the fact that Asaph is giving these human magistrates a “severe raking over the coals,” as they say. They are to remember that they all too must die and face the Judge of the whole earth (Gen. 18:25) and so they should judge fairly and should defend the poor and needy.
Even in America, a once Christian nation, do we now often doubt the honesty of our politicians and judges let alone the situations that exist in the nations with perhaps a lesser moral standard.
As the Scripture says, let us pray for those in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable existence and that at least some of the time the poor may find justice. 1 Tim.2:2
Psalm 83:2 “Thine enemies”
I’m sure most of us, especially the ladies, know the story of Jael, how she served Sisera some milk and then gave him a stake. No, I spelled it correctly, it was a tent stake and he was fascinated by it. (Webster says that word means “transfixed and held....by an irresistible power.”)
What an array of enemies- and do we suppose that any lesser foe is after us. They said, “let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession (v..12). We are the houses of God for He indwells us and though we have one major enemy, he knows how to employ a more formidable host than we have here, in his attacks against us.
It is very helpful to be reminded of several facts from this Psalm as we attempt to stand in the evil day that certainly is upon us (Eph.6:13). Note that these enemies are ours chiefly because they hate God and are primarily His enemies (v.2). Let us not hesitate to remind Him of that fact v.5 states that they are confederate against Him!
Secondly, we may take great comfort from verse three which reminds us that we are His hidden ones and He is our Rock of Ages in which we hide.
In conjunction with this Psalm it might be well to read the entire passage having to do with Christian warfare in the N.T. (Eph.6:10-18). Excellent words for our prayer against the enemy are found here in this Psalm beginning with verse thirteen. There is even a little evangelistic thought thrown in (v.16) “that they may seek thy name, O Lord.”
Finally, one way to give our prayers a powerful thrust is to remember the whole reason for the battle, whether men accept Him or not, is that, in the end, they will bow before Him (Phil.2:10) and acknowledge that He is the most High God over all the earth. Put it in words, Asaph did (v.18 )!
Psalm 84:7 “From Strength to Strength Go on”
This very special Psalm has been called “ the Pearl of Psalms” and certainly makes us think of David though some say it was written by Jehoshaphat. Whoever wrote it, it seems that the author was in the field with the host of God, His armies, and was meditating with great longing upon the tabernacles of the Lord. ( At times parts of the tabernacle were in separate places or the plurality may simply refer to the outer and inner sanctuaries.)
It is suggested that this song may have been associated with those that were sung at festival times hence the title Gittith (see on Ps.81).
There is great longing being expressed here for fellowship with God and with His people. It is something like a longing to go to a Bible conference but one cannot for there are other more mundane duties to which one must attend. It makes me think of some of those wonderful times in the past when local area conferences were held. Baptists from a whole county or perhaps several counties would meet together to hear the word preached and enjoy the fellowship of the saints. Then there were those wonderful camp-meeting days when God’s people dwelt in the tabernacles and under the larger tent the preaching went on. If a Christian wouldn’t rather be in a place like that than any other place, there must be something wrong!
How dear and blessed (the meaning of amiable) are His courts (27:4) thought the Psalmist, as he remembered how freely the birds flit about it, and envies their freedom. But where-ever I am I can pray (v.8) placing my strength and confidence in You Who art my shield. You turn even valleys of tears into wells of blessing, yea, “blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.”
Psalm 85:10 Unlikely Couple?
“Whoever would have expected that couple to get together? Why, they are as different as night and day. They say opposites attract, but how those two found any basis for agreement is almost beyond imagination. There is no doubt, however, that they are together and together for the long haul. Their embraces are public and anyone with their eyes open can see the harmony displayed whenever they get together.”
Verse 10 tells the love story of the ages. How could a holy God be true to Himself, hating not only sin but the sinner (don’t alarmed by this, there is no greater hatred than that resulting in being cast for eternity into the lake of fire) and yet be so merciful that He welcomes him into His holy, pure and beautiful home showering him with the profoundest display of grace?
How can a righteous God wink at the vilest of sins and extend the kiss of peace to a blasphemous, perverted law-breaking scoundrel (1 Cor.6:9-11)? We would immediately dismiss a judge of our courts for much less a travesty of justice, would we not if we could? It is silly, mindless, sentimentality that rejects a man who corrupts our legal system yet indulges the God upon whose commandments it is based.
There is only one logical explanation. God must have found a way to bring these extremely opposite concepts together into a relationship consistent with His character. And that “way” is Jesus!
Please read Romans 3:25 & 26. Ah, He has found a way both to be just in His character and at the same time a Justifier of the likes of us. It is this that we must see in Jesus Christ if we are to be saved. All else is but chaff compared to wheat!
Psalm 86:5 “Plenteous in Mercy”
In this passage known as “The Prayer of David” we take note of at least a couple of important points. In this section, which occasionally we view as a unit (Ps.73-89), there seems to be a significant emphasis upon the subject of “mercy” and particular reference to “thy servant”.
For example, the term “mercy” is used 13 times in this section, and five of them are in this prayer. Again, the term “thy servant” occurs 4 times and three of them are here. I have found when studying the Scriptures that repetition is a valuable key to interpretation, so let us zero in on David’s emphasis.
Twice the term “plenteous in mercy” is used which carries the meaning of copiousness. It reminds us of the abounding blessing of Paul’s prayer promise telling us that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think”(Eph.3:20). In verse 3, David speaks of crying unto the Lord daily as he asks for His mercy. Daily prayer is an excellent habit unless we feel that we have no need of God’s mercy and if we do not do it probably it indicates that we are quite satisfied with our own sufficiency. Are we thankful today for the mercy that has “delivered our soul from the lowest hell”? In His mercy may we too be given strength for each day’s tasks (v.16).
It is well that we think of ourselves as His servants. Paul went even a bit further and called himself a “bond servant”. What a privilege we have to be called God’s servants and the very thought of it should rejoice our soul as we lift it up to Him today (v.4).
We are thankful along with the psalmist that “thou O Lord art a God full of compassion and gracious, longsuffering and plenteous in mercy and truth”.
Psalm 87:7 A Song of Zion
If we think of Zion, like the hymn-writer does, as a type of the church, much that is mentioned in this Psalm comes into focus.
Timothy was reminded by Paul that the church of the living God is “the pillar and ground of the truth”(1 Tim.3:15). These foundations like mountain rock cannot be shaken, nor can I, when established upon them, ever be moved. If it were not so, what would the righteous do? The enemy absolutely cannot knock out our underpinnings. Wonderful to know we are His.
How did we become His? We were “to the manor born” so to speak. The church has been our incubator and each local assembly our “lying in” hospital. Some of us may have been born in an elevator or a taxi cab, but it was all part of the plan with some faithful soul-winner on hand to do the “birthin”. (For me it was on a mountain!) But it is written in Heaven that this man is no longer a child of hell, but a son of Zion. Zion hath travailed and brought forth again. My Father, the divine Son, my mother the human agency, the Church, in its local visible expression, the Ridge Baptist. Who saw it? The angels rejoiced and another indelible ink made the entry. Safe!
And where did such a spring of life have its origin? In Thee O God, and where art Thou? In Zion where glorious things are spoken, words that are too sacred to be uttered in the environs of our sin cursed world. Paul heard them and though he waxed eloquent enough as he wrote to the churches, he was tongue-tied when coming to certain subjects. “O what will it be when His face we see?” That will be glory!
Psalm 88:12 “In the dark”
Heman writes a song of instruction which mournfully expresses the depths of the despairing heart. What tragic circumstances call forth such sorrow? What comes to my mind is Alzheimer’s disease. “Free among the dead” might well be an accurate depiction. The strength of youth depleted, the mind that once worked its way through life’s tangles, now not longer involved. Where are my friends, my lover? Even my neighbors, my acquaintances are faded away into obscurity, into the “land of forgetfulness”.
My condition, if not my voice, cries out to thee day and night. The prayers of the past must suffice for the daily devotion which can no longer be properly phrased. “I am shut up and cannot come forth”(v.8).
This could all be the expression of one who has suffered this dread disease and reading it should help us cope with the problem if involved with a loved one thus afflicted. The fact is, it is more likely the expression of spiritual brain damage. How sad when a child of the King plunges to this level of despair!
What will dispel such feelings as those that would make one think that the Lord has cast us off? If forgetfulness has brought us here, remembering will bring us back. The poor victim of Alzheimer cannot be much helped, but there is no excuse for our dark and gloomy thoughts. Get to the light, get into the Word. Who can long languish in such thinking as this Psalm expresses when illumined by the bright rays of promise. “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Heb.13:5). We might suggest that Heman and Ethan get together and compare notes (89:1).
Psalm 89:3 God’s Covenant
God is here reminded of His covenant with David and the author Ethan, perhaps growing old and impatient wonders, as he looks for fulfillment, how long it will be until it be consummated. In the first section he sings of the mercies of God and remembers how great it has been to walk in the light of His countenance. He glories in the choice of David upon whose shoulders God had placed the welfare of the nation. He even has it right when he talks of the failure of David’s children. They will be chastened but the covenant will still survive. He is doing just great in all of this until he reaches the point of verse thirty-eight which starts in our KJV with a big “BUT”. From here, it is all down hill- “thou hast ...” and we see that is pretty much all God’s fault that things in his time are so bad.
Just wait a bit, Ethan, “you ain’t seen nothing yet!” I guess you might ask our generation what has become of David’s “seed” at the hands of Hitler and now the Hamas. You might be tempted to cry even louder, “How long Lord? Wilt thou hide thyself forever? Shall thy wrath burn like fire?”
This Psalm ends without these questions being answered. The covenant folk have rationalized the Jews into oblivion and applied the promises made to David to the Church. For them this ending is appropriate for Israel.
For those of us who take the Bible literally, we look forward to the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant in the reign of the Messiah on earth for a millennium. God has “laid help upon one that is mighty,” David’s seed, Our Lord Jesus Christ!
Psalm 90:7 “Consumed”
Here begins the fourth section of the Psalms and it starts with a prayer attributed to Moses. Spurgeon feels strongly that he wrote it and says that it speaks particularly of the 40 years Israel spent in the wilderness. It is often used at funerals because it speaks so much to the transitory nature of life. One of the reasons, it would seem, for the judgement of the forty year wandering is to emphasize the penalty of sin which is death. Six hundred and three thousand five hundred and forty eight men from 20 years old and upward had to die during that period (see Num.1: 46 - and note that I have subtracted Caleb and Joshua from the total given here). The period was actually cut short by two years because by that time they had all died. (See Deut.2:14).
This meant a death rate of about 44 men per day not counting any others who died of natural causes or otherwise among the women and children. The next verse (15) states that the “hand of the Lord was against them to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed.”
In Numbers 17:12 & 13, the children of Israel say to Moses “Behold we die, we perish, we all perish......shall we be consumed with dying?” The answer is YES!
Here Moses says, v. 7, we are consumed by thine anger. This is the emphasis of this Psalm! Note how many times the words “anger” and “wrath” appear. The brevity of life is stressed in verses five and six and again in verse 10.
It is my personal conviction that the death experienced in the wilderness was primarily physical and that many if not most of those who died were men who practiced the sacrificial aspect of the law, and trusted in the atonement.
Yes, we all must die because of Adam’s sin, and after death there is judgement. Christ bore that judgement for each of us who have fled to Him for mercy. Praise Him for the cross!
Psalm 91:5 Be not afraid
The comforting promise of this Psalm to believers who are in precarious situations have been enjoyed throughout the centuries, yet, we must, in all honesty, ask the obvious question. Does this mean that no Christian service men and women have ever come home in body bags? If not, how do we reconcile the problem? I will try.
First, we might ask the question, has each true believer consciously appropriated such promises and applied them to his own heart? It would seem that this should be a qualifying condition, though we cannot be dogmatic. Then there is also the factor of God’s discipline upon an erring child of God.
I think that all such promises must be viewed as generally applicable and should be claimed confidently while recognizing that we all must die and have no right to think that we all will live long and die of old age. God knows best and if He sees fit to end our life early and by violent means, it must be accepted as His perfect will. Saul’s son Jonathan died young and in battle, (1 Sam.31:2) and we know of no other reason than that it was God’s perfect will.
Changing the subject, let us contemplate the mind boggling concept seen in v.11. In this context it is clear that this is an integral aspect of this whole passage and is, in fact, the mechanism by which it all is accomplished. Even Satan recognized the validity of this promise during his temptation of our Lord Jesus in the wilderness (Mt.4:6). The fact that this was applied to Him does in no way detract from the reality that the promise was given to believers in general and is one we too may claim! Let us be quick to recognize deliverance from this quarter
Psalm 92:13 “...Planted in the house of the Lord...”
At the risk of being repetitious, let’s take another look at this consistent Biblical figure, ie, the believer pictured as a tree. It is a great study and one I would like to recommend to you. Start, perhaps, in Psalm one. Go to Jeremiah 17:8 for reinforcement. Note from Ezekiel 31:9 that even the trees in the Garden of Eden are personified. Use a concordance to see how many times trees appear in parables as people.
Here the palm tree and the cedar are mentioned. The former speaks of usefulness (fruit) and the latter of endurance. The oldest living things on earth are trees! Palms are known for a multitude of uses. See 104:16 as a second reference to the cedars of Lebanon. Being full of sap is to be full of life and may be thought of in relationship to John fifteen in our abiding as branches in the Vine.
Let us think for a moment about being “planted in the house of the Lord”. The afore-mentioned verse says that He (God) has done the planting. This certainly speaks of security and as Isa.61:3 says, it is “that He might be glorified”. And note, we are called here “trees of righteousness”!
Israel, picturing believers, is seen in a most unlikely place, even in the story of Balaam, as a garden by the river and as “trees of lign aloes which the Lord hath planted..”(Num.24:6). This in spite of the nation’s failures, pictures how God sees His people and depicts the lovely doctrine of positional sanctification, especially when taken in connection with 23:21. What a representation this is of our present day position, that of being “in Christ” as God’s elect. Praise Him for His grace!
Psalm 93:1 Our Majestic God
What a view we have here of the power and sovereignty of our majestic God! We join the chorus, Hallelujah!
As “Mainers” we have witnessed the crashing of the mighty waves on our “rock bound” coast and have no problem picturing as the Psalmist does here, the relentless surging of the sea as a natural emblem of wickedness in the world (Isa. 57:20). The beating upon the rocks no more affects them than is our God affected Who “cannot be moved”. From everlasting His throne is established and we need not fear its overthrow.
The artist in picturing the concept of peace first draws our attention to a wild stormy scene with huge waves breaking over sea cliffs, and then we see, nestled in the cleft of the rock, a tiny bird safe on its nest.
Let us rest today in the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ, in that holy house of justification and on the rock of His sure testimony. Here is “Beulah land” indeed, so “let the stormy breezes blow.....”
Psalm 94:1 God, to Whom Vengeance Belongs
Isn’t it great to be comforted by the Lord! No one knows how many times troubled saints have knelt before this Psalm and felt its sweet embrace. From prison cells and scaffolds high “men and boys, the matron and the maid” have “climbed the steep ascent of heaven” with these words on their lips, “unless the Lord had been my help....” and when my foot began to slip in fear or self pity, “O Lord, You held me up.”
Throughout the ages and more so even today it may appear that the wicked have triumphed over the Lord’s people but He that “planted the ear” and “formed the eye” still hears and sees. They may think that they have succeeded as they utter “hard things”, afflicting us, but He calls them fools to think so. Their thoughts are “vanity.”
The day of vengeance is certainly coming when God will “shew” Himself, when He will judge the earth and “render a reward to the proud”. It is in the light of this fact that the “patience of the saints” is spoken of. This attribute of the believer has particular reference to his attitude in suffering for the Lord. Romans 5:3 tells us that “tribulation worketh patience” resulting (v.4) in hope. This hope has to do with the coming of the Lord and is called the “blessed hope” (Tit.2:13). In patience says the Lord Jesus (Lk. 21:19) we are to possess our souls. In Romans 15:5 God is called “the God of patience and consolation”. This word was used over and over again in the NT in relation to the persecution the saints were suffering. Why not use your concordance to study these two words “patience” and “hope”. (1 Thes.1:3). Even in minor trials we must not avenge ourselves but remember that God says “vengeance is mine, I will repay” (Rom. 12:19).
Psalm 95:11 Entering into Rest
Seven times in the Psalms we are exhorted to make a “joyful noise.” (61:1; 81:1; 98:4; 100:1 and twice at the beginning of today’s song of praise) the meaning of the one word in the Hebrew is to give a shout of triumph or to sound a signal for war. Here, decidedly, it would mean the former. It is an interesting thought that we are to do so by using the “psalms”. So we see how at least some of these were used.
We would gather from Hebrews 4:7 compared with the last five verses of this Psalm, that it must have been written by David though there is no title.
The subject of these closing verses is a familiar one to the Bible student. It refers to the failure of Israel to enter into the land from Kadesh-Barnea because of their unbelief (Num.14). Here we are exhorted not to harden our hearts today when God speaks to us as they did in their testing, provoking Him greatly. It is said of them that they erred in their heart, not knowing His ways. Consequently, they were not allowed to enter into His rest. Obviously, the Promised Land was to be a place of rest for God’s people. The writer of Hebrews in the afore mentioned passage picks up this theme and tells us that “there remaineth a rest to the people of God.” Even as his immediate audience was being urged to enter into the “rest” of faith we too must beware lest having begun in the spirit we should revert to the flesh (Gal.3:3). We do this when we (like Israel) are unwilling to enter into rest by yielding our bodies to the Lord (Rom.12:1) because we are afraid of what He will require when we do. This is unbelief because we do not trust Him with our whole being (1 Cor.6:20). From that point on we are trying by works to please Him and so long as we do this we will never “enter into His rest” (Heb. 4:10).
Psalm 96:10 “Say among the heathen....”
The Septuagint version of this Psalm has a title though our authorized version does not. “A Hymn of David; when the Temple was rebuilt after the Captivity” and this appears to be a true description (Wordsworth). (Check 1 Chr. 16:23-33). Many of these songs were expressed elsewhere in the Bible and brought together here to form a part of Israel’s hymnal.
It seems that this portion of the original work was chosen to stir interest in reaching out to other nations (heathen, v. 3), thus this is known as a “missionary hymn.” It states that the gods of these other nations are nothing (the meaning here of the Heb. “idols”). This corresponds with 1 Cor. 8:4. In contrast, we are reminded that Jehovah is the Creator of the heavens and in this vast theater from “day to day” He shows forth His salvation (v.2). We enter from this outer court of natural splendor into the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle, if not in reality, at least in our imagination, and here we behold the strength and beauty of our majestic God whom we honor with our “new song”.
How sad that men of the world who are “fearfully and wonderfully made” go through life in total lack of appreciation for who God is. They wander from one enterprise to another, seldom looking up to behold the glories of their environment, and if they do, they give glory to evolution and falsely so-called science which like the idols mentioned above are exactly nothing. Unfortunately, they do not know that a place exists where they may have audience with the great God of wonders much less ever taking the opportunity to enter.
This song ends by telling us what we should do. Note such action words as “give,” “say,” and “let.”
When we take time to worship the Lord in the sanctuary of our prayer time, we will be more ready as the fields and trees to rejoice outwardly. Perhaps someone will ask us for the reason of our hope today. Let us be ready. (1 Peter 3:15)
Psalm 97:1 “The Lord Reigneth,”
Actually we note from our hymn book that it was the next Psalm that Isaac Watts had in mind when he wrote the words to the hymn so often sung at Christmas, Joy to the World, but it seems to me that he could well have been thinking of the theme of several of these Psalms found clustered here. Five times in this book of Psalms does the writer or writers say “The Lord reigneth”!
Most of us, particularly when we were young, have wondered about Watts’ hymn when he says “No more let sin and sorrows grow”, etc., “He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.” Of course, now we know that he was looking forward, in reality, to Christ’s second coming which was, of course, being anticipated by the first advent. To speak of it in the present tense was to express by faith belief in the fact that these things, will indeed, one day take place. This may help us in handling these Psalms.
The question is, does He reign? The skeptic might justifiably say, “I don’t see any evidence of it.” In fact those of that day would ask the question “where is now thy God?” It is obvious that some explanation is in order.
In these several Psalms in this section, the psalmist, like Watts, is anticipating the millennial reign of Christ on earth. Faith treats it as already happening since it knows that it is only a matter of time before it will.
There is also another aspect. We do not necessarily see the affect of it, but we know that our God is, in fact, reigning right now! He is a sovereign God and we believe that He is in absolute charge of all of the affairs of men.
Finally, He reigns in the hearts of all of His children who are totally surrendered to His will.
Psalm 98:1 Jehovah’s Holy Arm
I have just noticed today for the first time the similarity of the ending of this Psalm and that of the ninety-sixth. Actually Isaac Watts drew upon the imagery of both of these for his verse in Joy To The World which starts with the words, “Joy to the earth the Savior reigns” etc. We see all of nature bursting forth in a demonstration of rejoicing when He comes.
In fact, as a paean of praise this song is probably unequaled. We can almost see a great antiphonal choir, the saints, on one hand, making a joyful noise (remember, that is a cry of triumph) a loud noise, a great singing forth of God’s praise. On the other, there are the instruments, the harp, the trumpets and the cornet. Perhaps we could use a little poetic license here and add the stringed instruments, the organ and the cymbals of the 150th. Is this the moment when events described in Phil.2:12 and Rm.5:13 take place? We cannot say for certain.
It is as though all of nature wants to get in on the act! The seas roar, the fields are joyful, the trees rejoice, the pentecostal floods clap their hands, the hills are joyful together. These natural forces have long been bound as a result of Adam’s sin and now they are released from under that which they now groan (Rom.8:22).
And, what is the occasion of all of this cacophony of sound? The Lord cometh-yes, He cometh (twice in 96:13!) to judge the earth and “to make His blessing flow as far as the curse is found.” Yes, there is even something for Israel here for it is said that “God hath remembered his mercy and truth toward” them.
This event was prophesied by Enoch, the seventh from Adam “saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgement upon all.....” (Jude 14)
Psalm 99:5 Be Thou Exalted
Prayerful worship seems to be the theme of our present consideration. There can be no true worship apart from prayer and it is certain that those who do not pray, do not worship.
Here the worshiper approaches a sovereign God Who is great and is high above us. His very name should cause us to be awe-stricken with a godly fear (terrible). Yet He is seen sitting between the cherubim and we would remind ourselves that this is a seat of mercy, the place of sprinkled blood; at the time this was written, a place only approachable by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement, but now accessible to every believer priest because of the rent Vail. (A throne of grace).
Isaiah saw Him, high and lifted up, sitting upon a throne with His train filling the temple (Is.6:1) and heard the seraphim crying to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” Interestingly, there are three “holys” in this Psalm and they help to define its three stanzas. Holiness is the total sum and substance of the complete catalogue of Jehovah’s attributes.
Examples are given of those priestly giants who have called upon His Name in the past, and twice, for emphasis, we are assured that from the cloudy pillar, the shekinah glory, He answered them. Will He do less for us?
Should we think that we are not in the same category as such worthies, we note that it says of them, “thou wast a God that forgavest them”. Yes, they were but men and we are solemnly reminded that though He forgave them, He did not overlook their failures. What were their “inventions” (doing)? Moses smote the rock instead of speaking to it, Aaron made a golden calf and Samuel did not restrain his sons. ( Stephen Bridge, 1852)
Psalm 100:1 Old Hundredth
This is the only Psalm that bears the precise title, A Psalm of Praise. Samuel Burder says that the Greeks think it was written by David. Spurgeon says “nothing can be more sublime this side of heaven than the singing of this noble Psalm by a vast congregation.” There are several metric version of it. The one by Isaac Watts is as follows:
Ye nations round the earth, rejoice
Before the Lord, your sovereign King;
Serve him with cheerful heart and voice;
With all your tongues his glory sing.
The Lord is God; ‘tis he alone
Doth life, and breath, and being give:
We are his work, and not our own;
The sheep that on his pastures live.
Enter his gates with songs of joy,
With praises to his courts repair;
And make it your divine employ
To pay your thanks and honors there.
The Lord is good, the Lord is kind,
Great is his grace, his mercy sure;
And the whole race of man shall find
His truth from age to age endure.
Psalm 101 A Psalm of Practice
Barton Bouchier says: “this Psalm has been appropriately called “The Householder’s Psalm;” and assuredly if every master of a family would regulate his household by these rules of the conscientious psalmist there would be a far greater amount, not merely of domestic happiness and comfort, but of fulfillment of the serious and responsible duties which devolve on the respected members of a household.”
William Binnie observed that, “this is the Psalm which the old expositors used to designate ‘the Mirror for Magistrates;’ and an excellent mirror it is. When Sir George Villiers became the favorite and prime minister of King James, Lord Bacon, in a beautiful Letter of Advice, counseled him to take this Psalm for his rule in the promotion of courtiers.”
Arthur Stanley in Lectures on the History of the Jewish Church, 1870 wrote of this Psalm; “it is full of stern exclusiveness, of a noble intolerance, not against theological error, not against uncourtly manners, not against political insubordination, but against the proud heart, the high look, the secret slanderer, the deceitful worker, the teller of lies. These are the outlaws from King David’s court; these are the rebels and heretics whom he should not suffer to dwell in his house or tarry in his sight.”
I don’t know who these writers are any more than probably most of you do, but I thought their comments were worth repeating. They are found under this Psalm in Spurgeon’s Treasury of David (Vol. 4, pg.408). He, himself called this the Psalm of Pious Resolutions and said, “this is just a Psalm as the man after God’s own heart would compose when he was about to become king in Israel.” He calls this a Psalm of practice following songs of praise. “We never praise the Lord better than when we do those things which are pleasing in his sight.” C.H.S.
Psalm 102:17 He Will Not Despise our Prayer
It is difficult to write on this Psalm when all is going well. I suppose it would be very different if the writer were found to be in similar conditions with the psalmist. Things can certainly change overnight and none of us knows when these words will be of help in expressing to the Lord the way we feel. A person has to be quite low to forget to eat! It has been suggested that the ashes he ate probably mingled with his bread as they dropped from his head which may have been covered with them as an act of contrition.
We are thankful for several reminders that we find in this Psalm. The first is that God will hear us when we pray (v.17). Let us not hesitate to pour out our hearts to Him. Actually we might be surprised at how many Christians never pray unless they are in trouble. Praying is hard work but we need to apply ourselves to it. I find it very helpful to pray together with my wife. Praying aloud helps me stay focused.
This is considered to be a patriotic piece due to the several references to Zion and the implication that all is not well there. We can identify with that, and while we do not have Israel’s promises to claim, we ought certainly to pray for our nation.
We see an interesting parallel in v.19 where God’s sanctuary is identified with heaven. Hebrews nine might be read in connection with this thought, with particular reference to verses six through twelve and verses twenty-three and four. The O.T. sanctuary is spoken of as a “pattern”and a “figure”.
Finally, the words at the end of this Psalm are quoted in Hebrews 1:10-12 and in that context would seem to be spoken of the Son, which agrees with Col. 1:18 that Christ created all things.
Psalm 103:1 “Bless the Lord O my Soul”
These words of our title form, like bookends, the beginning and end of this Psalm attributed to David. What a different attitude we find here! It is the flight of the “eagle” compared to the dismal lot of the pelican, owl and sparrow of the last Psalm that we looked at. There the writer’s teeth grated on ashes as he bemoaned his condition through his tears. We think of the words of the thirtieth Psalm, verse 5, “weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.” This song before us now is “the morning” for certain.
I guess we might say that these opening verses describe the fringe “benefits” for the Lord’s work force. We might also say, “all this and heaven too!”
I like the “crown”part. When Adam sinned he lost his crown. This is described in Lamentations 5:16. He became a victim rather than a victor. Some day we will reign with the Lord (Rev.22:5). Today, it is said in Romans 5:17 that we “reign in life by....Christ Jesus.” Of course, the full knowledge and extent of that reign is, as indicated, yet future, but right now, this moment, in this life, we are crowned with God’s loving kindness and His tender mercies.
For those who have never thought about it, verse 12 is especially noteworthy. It doesn’t say as far as the north is from the south, a measurable distance, but uses the direction of east and west, which is an expression of infinity, “and never the twain shall meet.”
Let us be thankful for God’s great mercy, mentioned by word four times but inferred many times in this Psalm.
Psalm 104:2 A Garment of Light
Again, note the bookends of blessing and remember, it is us blessing the Lord for a change, rather than Him blessing us.
Verse two brings up an interesting concept upon which I would like to speculate a bit. It says that Jehovah is covered with light as with a garment. Thinking back to the Garden of Eden we remember that Adam was created in God’s image. Could it be that like God Who created him, he too was clothed with light, perhaps as a halo around his entire body and that this is the reason why our first parents were not as aware of their nakedness until after they had sinned? There is the question asked of them by Jehovah, “who told thee thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten...” etc? (Gen 3:1). The implication here is that until they ate, they were unaware and became aware upon eating. We know that they fellow-shipped daily with Jehovah in the garden which may have been the source of the light even as when Moses’ face shone from being in God’s presence on the mount when he received the commandments (2 Cor.3:7). That, we know, was a fading glory and Moses veiled his face for a time until it was gone. (Heavenly sunburn)
It does seem strange that shortly after they sinned they too attempted to cover their whole bodies with fig leaves much as Moses had done with the veil. It is as though the light had gone out and it was this about which they were ashamed not their nakedness, per se. (2:25)
We might say, sin put out the light. Christ (Lk.9:29) is the light who lights us back up, (spiritually), and perhaps physically when we see Him, for, again, we shall be like Him. Perhaps light is the only garment we will ever wear in heaven.
Psalm 105:1 “Make known his deeds......”
For the background of this Psalm one needs to turn to 1 Chr.16 and the occasion of David’s bringing the ark of the covenant to Zion. This was the song (in part) that was sung during the joyful event following the shouting, the playing of the cornets and trumpets, the psalteries, the harps and the clashing of cymbals. After playing on his instruments and dancing with unbounded joy, David delivered this song to the choir master Aseph on that very day that it might be sung in praise to Jehovah Elohim.
Actually we only have half of this original song repeated in our present Psalm. The other half is behind is, back in Psalm ninety-six.
Realizing the fact that these words in the first fifteen verses are rooted in Israel’s past glorious history reminds us once again of the nature of the hymn book we call “The Psalms.”
It could have been a possibility that some musician meditating upon the passage referred to above in 1 Chr.16, in coming to verse thirty-four thru thirty-six was minded to write a number of additional Psalms where-in these words were repeated “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever,” for this is the first time these familiar words were recorded. They are found repeated, however, at the beginning of our next Psalm as well as in Psalm 107:1, 118:29 and in Psalm 136:1 where also the refrain “for his mercy endureth for ever”, is repeated in each of the twenty-six verses that comprise the whole. Someone got the idea that recounting events in Israel’s past history was a good way to “give thanks to (His) holy name,” an exercise seemingly begun in this Psalm and repeated often in the next few pages.
Psalm 106:25 “...in their tents....”
For comments on the opening words of this great piece of work please refer back to the previous Psalm. There are so many themes here about which one might expend thought and energy in putting pen to paper such as:
Verse eight which tells us why He has “favored” us with His salvation (v.4), that we might see the good of His chosen (Eph.1:4) and glory with His inheritance (v.11);
Verse fifteen which is a warning that should send chills up and down our spine. How many of the saints bask in the so-called “blessings” of materialism, while quite unrealized, their soul is lean and they do not even know or care;
Verse thirty which tells us the story of one of God’s great heros, little known and often misunderstood. What Phinehas did is a great example of tough love, and we might note with sanctified envy God’s blessing attending his courageous action (v.31).
But, while tempted to linger on one of these exciting passages, I would like rather to focus attention on verse twenty-five, “but murmured in their tents...”
There are at least thirty verses in the Bible that speak of this sin of murmuring and it would make a good study to look them up in a concordance and enumerate them. The word, which in English sounds onomatopoeic, in the original means to be obstinate, to rebel and to grumble.
It is significant that when Israel grumbles, even in their tents, the Lord heard them (Exodus 16:9,) i.e. they might have thought when they complained to members of their family that it was done in secret. But, it seems, our God is always listening and we had better “do all things without murmurings and disputings” (Phil.2:14) lest we be caught in this sin which obviously God hates.
Psalm 107:2 “...say so,”
Slip back, for just a moment, to the last 2 verses of 106 and note, if you will that these are based on the closing words of David’s great hymn composed to celebrate the bringing of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem (1 Chr.16:35 & 36). There was so much to write about in the previous song that I had failed to notice the ending and when I did, there was no room to include it while keeping to our present format. Note also that the opening words of this Psalm are first found in the Chronicles passage and perhaps indicate that Psalm 105 & 106 belong together.
A further feature of this piece before us is the fact that much like our modern hymns, there is a refrain, and it is particularly these words, verses 8, 15, 21 and 31 that we wish to focus attention on today.
Though our present Psalm marks the opening of the fifth and last division, we should note the similarities and differences between this and the proceeding one (106).
In it we were reminded of a number of actual events in Israel’s history with names and places recorded. In this, while the theme is much like it, there are no specifics. On the other hand, this book begins where the last left off, registering the ups and downs of the nation pictured in the experience of seamen in a great storm. Now they are “up” and the next minute “down” reeling to and fro and staggering, like a drunken man, at wit’s end (vs.25-27).
All of these experiences are designed to cause the redeemed to give thanks unto the Lord. “Oh that men would praise the Lord”...oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness;” oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works....” “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” That’s us, let’s “say so”!
Psalm 108: 13 Doing Valiantly
Here we have a song made up by putting together parts of two earlier Psalms (57:7-11 and 60:5-12) which in checking we find are almost word for word. In the latter we previously passed on to our readers helpful insight from Spurgeon on the section beginning with verse seven. David is listing his triumphs and contemplating future victories. At first reading, it seem as if God has spoken saying, “I will rejoice;” etc, but rather the pronoun “I” refers to David not God. David is saying, “I will rejoice...” Note verses 10 and 11 and see that the whole passage makes far more sense when taken this way.
That there are duplicate passages only indicates the importance of their use and, of course, here in a new format.
Obviously the theme of the whole Psalm is victory. Victory is assured to those whose hearts are “fixed.” We sing, “Stayed upon Jehovah, etc.” As His beloved (Eph.5:29) He nourishes and cherishes us and always causeth us to triumph (2 Cor.2:14) giving us the victory. 1 cor. 15:57.
If we have trouble, to whom shall we turn? Shall we go down to Egypt? Shall we trust in horses and chariots? No, says the Psalmist for “vain is the help of man.” It is “through God (that) we shall do valiantly.” Our enemy was defeated at Calvary and “shortly” shall be bruised under our feet (Rom.16:20). Hallelujah!
Psalm 109 How Do You See It?
This Psalm, at first reading, seems very odd and we hate to think of David as being so vengeful. I would, however, bring to your attention an interpretation which totally changes the picture. It is advanced by E.W.Bullinger in his work entitled Figures of Speech Used in the Bible. In this book of over one thousand pages, on page thirty-three, he presents his view. In the first one hundred and thirty pages Bullinger deals with a figure of speech called ellipses which has to do with words left out of a sentence for emphasis. He says that left out here is the word “saying” at the end of verse five.
What we have, with this word supplied is what the wicked are saying about David as they, according to v.2, speak against him with a lying tongue. At verse 20 David speaks again, with the words in between being all the false accusations which they speak “against (his) soul.”
This would explain why the pronouns “he”, “his” and “him” are found throughout the passage (6-19).
Verses 21-29 are a prayer and in the last two verses David praises the Lord Who stands at his right hand (rather than Satan as his enemies declare) to save him from those that condemn his soul.
It is only fair to say that most commentators view this section as imprecatory, even Spurgeon. Some say it is about the fate of Judas (Acts 1:20), others suggest this may be “Israel crying out against malignant enemies”. A.G. Clark, however, in his book entitled Analytical Studies in the Psalms supports Bullinger’s interpretation (pg.274).
I leave it with you.
Psalm 110:4 “.....in the day of thy power”
What is on the menu for us today? Oh, I see it is the meateaters’ special. Why so? Because it is concerning the subject of the main verse of this Psalm (v.4), Melchizedek, that the writer of Hebrews spoke as he chastened them about being dull of hearing (Heb.5:10-14). We hope that we may have the maturity and experience he spoke of as we think about this O.T. figure who first appears in Genesis fourteen.
That Melchisedec is a type of Christ, our High Priest, there is no doubt, in fact some believe him to be a Christophany (an appearance of Christ in the O.T.). Six times in Hebrews chapters five thru seven is Christ referred to as a Priest “after the order on Melchisedec,” the writer portraying Him and His Priesthood as “better” than that of Aaron, i.e. the new covenant replacing the old.
David’s prophetic gift bursts forth here as he sees his Lord (Jesus) sitting at the right hand of Jehovah, waiting for His enemies to be placed under His feet. He knows about Melchizedek of Abraham’s day and glories in His amazing priesthood which is eternal. How blest we are to have the Hebrews commentary on this startling Personage. A King of righteousness (by nature), a King of Peace (by place). How can we His subjects know peace unless in His righteousness we be justified (Isa.53:11)? He brought forth bread and wine (the emblems of fellowship). He received the tithes from Aaron, still in Abraham’s loins (Heb.7:4-17). In exchange for blessing us with that eternal life He shares with us, let us gladly give Him the tenth, nay rather let us be His willing bond servants in this His “day of power”. What David would have given to see the “Acts” of the Holy Spirit! (Matthew 13:17) As I said before, how very blest we are!
Psalm 111:1 Hallelujah
Structural details concerning this Psalm, probably belonging to the early post-exilic period, are important. It is the first of a trilogy beginning with the word “Hallelujah” (Praise the Lord) and ending (Ps.113:9) with the same. Each of the three begins with the hallelujah. Something needs to be said about this word. According to the J.F.B. commentary, it does not occur in any of David’s Psalms, but rather is an expression associated with the period of the captivity and appears in Psalm 104:35 for the first time. It should be noted that Ps. 104-106 are also a trilogy (set of three) and they each end with the “Hallelujah”. J.F.B. also points out that this trilogy is appended to a trilogy of David’s (101-103) and, as we have said, ends the fourth major division of Psalms.
Our present Psalm has God’s works as a theme (5 times) with particular reference to the past while the next speaks of the future and all three “strengthen God’s people in trouble by praising Him,” (J.F.B Vol.3 p.348).
By reminding Israel of the fact that God has “sent redemption unto his people” (v.9) (from Egypt and now Babylon) the psalmist is encouraging them to look to the future when He will “give them the heritage of the heathen” (v.6). Certainly, this looks forward to that day when His ancient people will yet dwell in peace in their land which He has given them.
Another feature of this song is the fact that it is an alphabetic acrostic with twenty-two lines each beginning with a letter, in order, of the Hebrew alphabet.
(Note: Jamison, Fausset and Brown, my copy of the six volume set, published by Moody Press in 1945, was purchased at a used book store in Boston as I was traveling by train to Providence, R.I. to enroll at the Providence Bible Institute in 1948. It is especially good for factual material, though the authors were tainted by higher criticism and were certainly not dispensational.)
Psalm 112:1 The Fear of the Lord
Starting, as does the former, with the hallelujah as a kind of title, again each of the twenty-two lines here begin in proper order, with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This acrostic is something of a commentary on the last verse of Psalm 111, i.e. it describes that blessed man that “feareth the Lord”.
I had wanted to comment on the phrase, “ the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” which appears in the last verse (v.10) of the previous psalm but couldn’t due to certain self-imposed parameters. But here we are with a new sheet, a new psalm and the theme presented itself again!
We cannot say for certain if our psalmist was quoting Solomon from Proverbs 9:10 or whether it had become a common saying, though we could wish that the sentiment were a common one. It was to be the hallmark of God’s people among the nations (Deut.4:6) setting them apart, that they in wisdom, should obey God’s commandments. Job reiterated the thought (28:28) and Solomon concluded in Ecclesiastes 12:13 that this is the “whole duty of man”.
To fear the Lord is to delight in His commandments or as now further expanded, His holy word. It is the very beginning of all knowledge and to neglect or despise it is to be a fool (Prov.1:7). On the other hand, it is to be equated with having the very knowledge of the Holy (One) according to the parallel thought back in Prov.9:10.
Coming back to our starting place let us meditate upon the description given here of the man who indeed fears the Lord, giving it a spiritual application since we are not Israelites.
Psalm 113: 2 “Blessed be the name of the Lord...”
Do center column references come with the territory? No, I’m sure they don’t, but then, where do they come from? It’s sure a good thing that, before the age of the computers, someone knew the Bible a whole lot better than I do. Tell me, would you have known that verses seven and eight are practically a word for word quotation form Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:8-9? I wouldn’t have known it but for the good old center column reference in my Bible! But, sure enough, that’s exactly the case.
It is certain from this fact, plus the closing verse (9) that the writer was thinking of Hannah when he penned the words of this Psalm. It might be a good exercise, if we haven’t done it lately, to go back and read this prayer in its entirety.
He also chose words very similar to the opening thought in Psalm fifty verse one as he blessed the Name of the Lord, speaking both of His eternality (“from this time forth and forever”) and of His universality (“the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same”). Everywhere and forever should His Name be praised.
Again, using the center column reference as it is found in my copy of the Bible, in verse five we could read that God “exalteth himself to dwell on high”. In contrast He humbles himself to keep track of me and the things that concern me here on the earth (v.6). Yes, (using Hannah’s words) He has set me among princes and the psalmist comments “even with the princes of his people.” I am thankful for every son of the King that I have been privileged to know and look forward to being with them in the kingdom when together we “inherit the throne of glory” (1 Sam. 2:8). “I rejoice in thy salvation...”
Psalm 114:5 “What ailed thee,”
In superb poetic utterance the two greatest events in Israel’s history are joined together as doctrinally they should be. The former speaks of the deliverance from the powerful force that held them captive, Pharaoh with his armies. The latter, of the breaking of the chains of failure and living death that had bound them for forty years.
God had said that He had brought them out and that He would bring them in and I believe the similarity of the two momentous events is not a casual occurrence. The obstacles like mountains stood in their path but He swept them away in the mighty demonstration of His power and as if by one stroke the sea fled and the Jordan was driven back. In both it was His presence, His face, His hand yea, His very word!
Perhaps we can grasp it better if we think more along evangelical lines. At the time of our conversion we rejoiced in deliverance from sin’s penalty but shortly found that though free from Satan’s slavery, we still had to face the wilderness of self. How wonderful to see the linkage between these two enemies and to know that one single event sufficed for victory over both. The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, when applied does what is expressed in the hymn O For a Thousand Tongues. He breaks the power of canceled sin. Paul puts it this way, “as ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Col.2:6). It is faith in the work of Calvary that gets us “out of Egypt” and it is on that same basis that we enter upon the victories of Canaan. It is by the law of appropriation, by “reckoning” that we too may see the obstacles being swept away (habits, etc.).
Psalm 115:8 “...like unto them;”
Without Christ, men are dead! This is their problem, not the fact that they are sinners, but the fact of what sin has done to the human race-it killed it! “In Adam all die” (I cor.15:22). They have mouths, but not a word of praise for their maker; they have eyes but they see not His glory in creation. The lost will never hear the sweet word of peace and they cannot discern any aspect of His will for their lives. They can never say with John, “our hands have handled of the Word of life” (1 John 1:1) nor can they take one single step on the highway to holiness. It is no wonder, then, that the gods they fashion for their worship are so unlike our glorious God. He made us to be like Him but in contrast, the lost make their gods to be like themselves and it is only fit that they should be worshiped by those who are made in their likeness.
To the question, where is your God? asked because they are deaf, dumb and blind to His manifest glory, we reply with assurance, “our God is in the heavens:” and we know He is doing His will both there and here (Dan.4:35).
We should realize exactly where people are coming from when we hear them say, “why doesn’t God do something about.....?” and we should pity them for they are dead and cannot see, etc. If only Jesus were here, He could speak and bring the dead to life, He could touch the blind and they could see, He could heal the lame, in fact “all manner of disease” (Mk.10:1). But alas, He is not here and there is so little hope that they will ever meet anyone like Him.
What is that song I hear in the distance........?
Psalm 116: 6 “....the simple:”
In the Greek New Testament, the word “simple” is always used in a positive sense. A synonym for this word could be the word “single” which means “without complexity of character and motive.” (Mt. 6:22). Certainly here simplicity is spoken of as a good thing and the one that has it is guarded by the Lord. The Lord, we are told (Rom.16:19), would have us to be wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
I think the simple soul is a trusting one and isn’t it better to trust people until you find out that, for some reason, you can’t anymore, rather than always being suspicious of the character and motive of those we meet in life?
I know a young man who is very mistrustful of others, who is always analyzing peoples’ motives and who finds it difficult to take people at face value. He desires to serve the Lord, but I pity those who may serve under him unless he changes a great deal.
We are taught to love the brethren and one of the characteristics of love is to believe all things and to hope for all things (1 Cor.13:7) rather than be filled with doubt and lack of trust. Perhaps we may be called naive but that is better than being analytical with our friends.
Personally, having been the object of character assassination by many who would call me their brother in Christ, I am thankful for two things from this text, particularly, one is that when I was brought low, He helped me, and the other is found in verse fifteen. It will be a precious day when I see my brethren in heaven for then we shall know as we are known. One of the certainties of that day will be, though I might wish otherwise, the fact that we will be too holy to say “see, I told you so.”
Psalm 117:1 All Nations?
It is hard to believe that all the (Gentile) nations will one day be praising the Lord along with us, who are truly God’s people, but the Scripture certainly supports such a concept. In the days of this writing when we see thousands of Muslims praising their god Allah and venting hatred for all who worship the Christian’s God, Jehovah, it seems hard to believe that the day is coming when it will be seen by them that they are wrong. If, during the millennium, any of these nations refuse to bow to Jehovah, there will be no rain upon them (Zech.14:16-19).
Of course, the time about which we speak is that thousand year period of the Kingdom at the beginning of which all of these nations will be gathered against Jerusalem (14:2) and Jehovah shall fight against them. If men think the so-called “six day war” was short and the Iraqi conflict swift, wait until they see what “smart” weapons the Lord has at His disposal when “their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet and their eyes shall consume away in their holes and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth” (Zech. 14:12).
“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed” (Lam.3:22) for, among other of His divine attributes, our God is described as a “consuming fire,” and this in the New Testament (Heb.12:29).
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12: 28 & 29.
Psalm 118:17 “I shall not die...”
One hundred psalms ago I mentioned a dear lady, Mrs. L., who became a friend of our church. Her background was Christian and Missionary Alliance, a denomination founded by A.B. Simpson. This group was basically sound and for many years Dr. A.W. Tozier was a literary spokesman through their organ The Alliance Witness. I say “was” because I have lost touch with this group in late years and like many denominations, I would judge, they have grown weaker. Their special emphasis was missions and their two weaknesses, in my view, were the emphasis on there being “healing in the atonement” and, in some branches, a lack of belief in “eternal security.”
It was in the area of healing that Mrs. L. had been led astray and, it was probably the verses in this Psalm that she used while on her death bed rather that the aforementioned 18:18, so I again draw your attention to these thoughts and suggest going back to reread our remarks.
The error in her thinking was not so much believing that God could heal her of this cancer, which became her final illness, but a more general error that many of God’s people are guilty of, that of laying claim to verses not meant for us.
If every ailing saint were to successfully claim verse 17, none of us would die, so that, obviously, can not be the correct thing to do. In fact, we must be careful to lay claim to what God clearly tells us is ours to claim and in all other cases profit from principles laid down as God dealt with certain individuals in certain situations.
In a word, it is handling the Scripture in a mystical fashion to do as Mrs. L. did. As in her case it was presumptuous on her part and a poor witness to her unsaved loved ones.
Psalm 119:9 Young men and some of us that aren’t
As most of you already know, this psalm is an acrostic. The heading of each section is an Hebrew letter in alphabetical order and the verses in each section begin with that letter. Of course, the grand theme is the Word of God and is dealt with under various terms such as: law, ways, testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgements and word. There are only 2 verses that obviously do not contain any of the above words, where are they? There are 3 verses that do contain one of the above, but the use seems different, they are vs.37, 84 and 121, what do you think? There is one more English word to be added to the above list, see if you can find it. I will give you hint, it begins with the letter “O”, but actually it is the same in Hebrew as “judgements”. I have double checked, however, and have noted that there are actually nine separate Hebrew words that are being translated into the above. (There are two Heb. words that are translated “word” thus making up the nine.)
Oh, you say, I would like a little meat to chew on rather than all of these statistics. (Yes, but searching is a good exercise don’t you think!) (Good for Bible Trivia!)
The other day as Gloria & I were reading a section of this Psalm I was particularly struck by verse 111. The Psalmist thought of the Word of God as a great inheritance that God has given us for a possession. When it gets right down to it, what else can really cause our hearts to rejoice as much? The riches of this world will fade and flee but what we lay up in our hearts will be council for us, v.24, will keep us from sin, v.11, and in the end be better than thousands of dollars, v.72.
Pray the words of verse 18 often.
Psalm 120 Affliction
Spurgeon does not know why these fifteen Psalms are grouped together or what is meant by their title “A Song of Degrees”. He likes what Dr. John Jebb conjectures about them and he cites the connection between this word “degrees” and the word “bringing up”, supposing that they have to do with the bringing up of the Ark from Kirjath-jearim to the house of Obed-edom.
Some suppose a relationship between their number and the fifteen steps of the temple. Since David is responsible for at least some of them, and the temple had not been built in his day, it could only be by application of use that there is any relationship. In this same sense, these songs could have been used by pilgrims on their way to the feasts at Jerusalem which is a traditional concept.
A commentator named Genebrardus defined the fifteen degrees as progressional as one would go from “the valley of weeping to the presence of God.” (Treasury of David, Vol. VI, pg. 401). I will entitle each of them as he did. This one he entitled “Affliction”.
Spurgeon does say in his introduction to this Psalm that “we prefer the old summary of the translators ‘David prayeth against Doeg’ to any far fetched supposition” etc. Certainly the reference to a “false tongue” would apply (1 Sam.22:9). Note also Psalm 52.
On the subject of affliction, I suggest turning back into the previous Psalm for some precious thoughts on this theme. (Verses 50, 67, 71,75,92,107,153.)
One of the most difficult types of affliction come from being the object of “lying lips and a deceitful tongue” and this is especially true when one has to dwell in that atmosphere. Let us be truly thankful when our dwelling place is peaceful.
Psalm 121 Looking to God
Remember, we are using the titles of these fifteen songs of degrees suggested by a commentator named Genebrordus. We are told by several writers that in each of these a word from the first verse is carried over into the second, etc. giving the sense of building one verse upon another, hence the picture of “steps”. This, I assume, can be more clearly seen in the Hebrew.
“The idea is a very probable one, that this psalm was designed to be sung in view of the mountains of Jerusalem, and is manifestly an evening song for the sacred band of pilgrims to be sung in the last night watch on retiring to rest.” (Hengstenberg)
Samuel Pierce tells us that Mr. Romaine, a great English preacher, read this psalm every day.
Of course, Jeremiah tells us that in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills (3:23) and when one places a question mark at the end of verse one, then the answer to the question is seen in verse two. The high hills were often places where idolatry was practiced so this may indeed be the sense here. At any rate, it is to the Lord that we look for help and the remainder of this psalm tells us why. It is really a wonderful experience to be able to lay our heads on our pillows at night knowing that our God does not sleep but is continually watching over us.
As we who are pilgrims on this earth journey toward our heavenly Jerusalem, may we constantly rejoice in the thought that “Jehovah is our Keeper”.
Psalm 122 Joy in Communion
This is one of the fifteen songs of degrees that is specified as coming from David’s pen and if the previous one was to be sung as the travelers came in sight of the holy city, this one is appropriately felt to be that sung as their feet stepped inside the gates. Spurgeon suggests that it may have been written prophetically speaking of it as it would be later in the day of Solomon. He says, “a poet has licence to speak of things, not only as they are, but as they will be when they come to their perfection.”
Our attitude as we contemplate the communion of the saints meeting with them as we do each Lord’s day, says much about the extent of our joy when we meet with them to part no more. I often feel saddened to think of those who, for one reason or another, are unable to join with other believers on the Lord’s day. Then too, comes the grief of heart to know there are brothers and sisters estranged from us due to carnality of thought or difference in doctrine. We often pray for the churches around us where there are believers who are in Christ with us and yet separated by walls of heresy. I think it wise to always pray charitably confessing to the Lord how prone any of us are to blind spots in our own thinking. “Lord, you know what is true. Bring those for whom we pray and ourselves to stand together exactly where we ought to be.”
We must separate ourselves from those we believe to be in error, but it should be with a grieving heart and the prayer that the Lord will convict of error and unite us in love, for “we are members one of another”.
Psalm 123 Invocation
We are using titles to these fifteen songs of degrees supplied to us by Genebrardus. (You know as much about him as I do.) Spurgeon sees us climbing as on stairs, lamenting first our troublesome surroundings (120) next, lifting up our eyes to the hills and resting in assured security (121). From this we arise to a delight in the house of the Lord (122) and here we look to the Lord Himself.
To remember this Psalm, think of it as the Psalm of the eyes since that is the theme of the first two verses. Old authors call it the “eye of hope”. (Treasury of David)
Verse three actually begins the invocation as the writer implores God’s mercy in duplicate.
How fortunate are most of us that we are not considered as contemptuous by our peers. We are, in fact, so far removed from it that we might wonder at such a thing being truly someone’s experience, but in reality, the world is against our Lord Jesus and in contempt of Him the ungodly constantly revile Him with their oaths every day. And He is in us. Were we more transparent and were He more apparent we too might be more the objects of their unmitigated contempt.
We must not forget the prophetic implications of these writings and the experience of the Jews under Hitler. Putting ourselves in their place during that time and on many similar occasions, we may read this Psalm with greater compassion. Under the Anti-Christ many of these Psalms will be fleshed out in reality. Aren’t you thankful that we will be gone!
Psalm 124 Thanksgiving
In writing these devotionals, I am confronted with something of a dilemma. There is so much rich material to be found in the works of others and the desire is to mine it, sometimes refine it and present the sparkling jewel to the reader. On the other hand is the need to let the Holy Spirit direct us to what might be original. He is so deep as the Repository of truth and so profound in His ability to relate God’s revelation to our individual situation, that we must be careful not to limit the vast scope and talent of our Master-Teacher (John 14: 26 and 16:13).
Again, when we think of what God’s ancient people have experienced and being aware that a remnant has indeed “escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers” we can glory with the Psalmist that Jehovah is on their side (v.1) and that they have not been swallowed up or overwhelmed when the deep waters have gone over their souls. This truly is a great song for all time for them!
Critics question the Davidic origin of this piece, but our faithful commentators say that often they are “all wet” and it is probably true here as well.
“When winds and seas do rage, And threaten to undo me,
Thou dost their wrath assuage, If I but call unto Thee.
A mighty storm last night Did seek my soul to swallow;
But by the peep of light A gentle calm did follow.
Why need I then despair Though ills stand round about me;
Since mischiefs neither dare to bark or bite without Thee?” R. Herrick, 1591
Note- I “refined” this gem in three minor places-apologies-C.M.
Psalm 125 Confidence
The mountains and valleys around Jerusalem provide “a perfect network of deep ravines, the perpendicular walls of which constitute a very efficient system of defense.”- Wm. Thompson in The Land and the Book 1881. Yet, in spite of this fact, Titus when attacking it around 70 A.D., according to Josephus, (Wars of the Jews Book 5 ch. 12 sec. 2), by building a wall around the side of these mountains five miles long in three days ultimately prevailed.
So, (but certainly not in such limited fashion) Jehovah is “round about His people”. Man so often accomplishes great feats which might seem impossible, but God does the impossible! One must be on constant watch to prevent the enemy from slithering over those mountains when they are the only protection, but when He surrounds us with His love and protection, we can go to sleep, resting in His strength to keep the enemy at bay.
It is this concept that assures us that nothing, absolutely nothing, can reach us with Him on guard and He will “forever” be so.
Please refer back to a poem on this subject at Psalm 48, and for a graphic picture of how the Lord sometimes accomplishes this encirclement of protection, see 2 Kings 6:17. “ Lord may our eyes be open spiritually to see that nothing can touch us except it first pass through your wall of loving care.” If He lets it through, He has some purpose that ultimately will do us good.
Do we not see that this is the Old Testament way of saying that we are “in Christ”. The difference between us and those saints of old is that He, in turn, is in us. May He go through us to “do good” both to those that “be good” (the household of faith) but even to “such as turn aside unto their crooked way.” Praise God for the Gospel of redeeming grace!
Psalm 126 Patient Waiting for Deliverance
Or, as Spurgeon calls this Psalm, “Leading Captivity Captive.” Do you not long for the time when the heathen around us who know not God may look at us and instead of thinking, “what poor benighted people these Christians are who suffer such delusions and deny themselves these pleasures which we enjoy so much” they may rather say of us , “ the Lord hath done great things for them”, for He certainly has!
Yes, dear friends, He touched our eyes, so blind, and when we opened them it was to splendor too great for words. He lifted us, though fallen into a pit, and put our feet on solid rock and do we ever enjoy singing about it! Oh, we wish you, dear fellow sufferer from Adam’s transgression, might know that midnight song, for your night is so dark and you have not hope.
We wish you could know the One who inhabits our praises (Ps.22:3). He is a very great and wealthy Father and He has adopted us to son-ship with His own well-beloved and only begotten Son. He has told us that every gold piece, yea, every jewel in His Son’s chest is ours and we may dip into it whenever we please. He guards us, as if we were the president of a great country, by His secret service (Heb.1:14).
Oh friend, it is true, He hath indeed done great things for us and I have not begun to tell the half of it, fancy that!
I hope that even as one day the nation Israel will know the joy of freedom in Christ, a dream that vanishes when they awaken, you too will share the joy of being released from awful mind-blinding captivity. I pray for you, sometimes I cry for you, and I hope I shall see you in Heaven where we both may rejoice over the great things He has done for us!
Psalm 127 God’s Grace and Favor
I know of six Christian families that total over fifty souls. God said “multiply” and they certainly have! To anticipate what can come of such a band is one of my most enjoyable occupations. I think of the surprise as wave after wave of Jacob’s cattle were driven past Esau and I think also if revenge still smoldered in his heart, such a sight did a lot to quench it. “Jacob, I am really impressed!”
So often when we think of soul-winning, we are apt to miss the greatest soul-winning agency God ever thought of, the Christian home. Here there can be training such as is rarely carried out with the occasional convert. Of course, God does it both ways, but I have noticed that when an adult is converted from raw heathendom, it usually takes several generations before his descendants start producing the quality kind of Christian that becomes a missionary or other type of soul-winner. The catch is that too often children from Christian homes and Christian Schools are not going into the Lord’s work because of the inconsistency in their homes . Parents need to think in terms of the fact that “children are an heritage of the Lord” and should be trained as His soldiers (2 Tim.2:3 & 4).
Getting back to the initial thought, it would seem that children being compared to arrows and the parents as being happy when their quiver is full of them, would indicate the value of a large family. When one meets the enemy he wants a lot of arrows - then perhaps his foe will sue for peace. Certainly, the moral is the more the better. In this also we are wrong in the eyes of the world.
*Of course, happily there are exceptions.
Psalm 128 Fear of the Lord
Companion thoughts to those in the previous Psalm, the man that fears the Lord is one that is wanting to please Him by doing His will. It should be clear to us from these two Psalms that the family is very important. A study of Scripture will certainly show that it should be a man’s priority and the source of his happiness. How often we see parents neglecting to cultivate these “olive plants” for God’s service.
This is even the secret of happy grandparents (v.6). Those who have failed as parents should not take much comfort in being grandparents. Confession is the order of the day when, if because of sin, one’s adult children are being indulgent parents, because very often, you, their parents, are at fault, though not always.
The most faithful grandparents often are those who rarely see their children’s children because they are far off in some foreign land where their mom and dad are serving the Lord. This is part of the cross some are called to bear. It is not easy to pray your loved ones out to some land where your grandchildren face danger and are deprived of “the good life” here in America.
I think that, if a study were made, it would be found that there are more missionary kids returning to the mission field than there are children going from the average Christian homes in our land. Is it because they have not been spoiled with video games, designer clothing and cash in their pockets?
Are you praying that your grandchildren will walk in the “ways” of the Lord, will learn self-denial and will surrender their lives for full time service to Christ?
Psalm 129 Martyrdom
From Israel’s youth and from the church’s earliest existence, persecution has been their mutual experience. Cain slew Abel in jealousy and the professed sufferer became the afflictor as the spear was thrust into the back of our Savior and welts were raised on the bruised body of Stephen.
Earlier David had said “many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.”(34:19) If as yet we have not suffered from the assaults of the enemy dressed in the flesh and blood, we may surely expect to, or else we must declare ourselves to be unworthy recipients for Paul has clearly stated, “yea, and all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” ( 2 Tim.3:12)
Just as seeds of mercy and grace were sowed in the long furrows ploughed into Christ’s back and have ripened to be harvested by undisappointed reapers and gleaners such as we who fill our bosoms with His sheaves of tender love and promised fulness, so we may expect the same fruitful uses will be made of whatever persecutions our Lord allows us to experience. With His stripes we are healed and even the haters of Zion may be won to Christ by those who “turn the other cheek.” Saul of Tarsus was pricked in his heart by the Holy Spirit even as he guarded the garments of those who gnashed on Stephen with their teeth (Acts 7:54).
“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head” (Rom.12:20). And who knows, there may be some who will say “the blessing of the Lord be upon you.”
Psalm 130 Hatred of Sin
Have you ever experienced a drag or weight on your spirit because of something foolish that you have done? In an unguarded moment and with absolutely no malice or aforethought something wedged itself into your life and a shadow developed that you could not seem to shake. Was it the Holy Spirit being grieved at your lack of sensitivity to His transparent wholesomeness or was it the enemy making accusations and threatening to interject his ugliness between you and your Father?
Whatever may have been the case, and whether guilty of some transgression or just being unwise, we all know how good it is when the matter is settled and the cloud clears. What a wonderful privilege to know God’s forgiveness. It is a state of mind in which we live constantly once we have entered into son-ship with the Father but, it is also a delightful experience when humbly we turn to Him and sense His smile of approval.
Whether in the depths of despair with the storm clouds of judgement rolling over our heads, as John Newton at his moment of conversion, or whether after some fitful dream laying awake unable to shake off a disturbing thought and wishing that morning would hurry its appearance, we turn to the Lord. We find that His mercy quickly assures us that His ear is open to us.
From the time that wisdom began to dawn upon us and down to the present hour of restorative peace it has been like this for our God continues to inspire in us reverential trust by constantly forgiving our iniquitous ways. If He should mark them (next to our name) who of us could possibly stand?
Psalm 131 Humility
Though the following Psalm speaks of him three times, this and two others are the only ones that actually have David’s name in their titles (122 & 133).
I sincerely hope that I have not failed this morning in an area where David said he would not venture, that is, into matters too high for him. In preparing to teach a lesson relating to God’s purpose my path of study has led into such weighty subjects as election and predestination. That these thoughts are “high” there can be no doubt. We can also use the English word (translated from the same Hebrew word) “wonderful” and draw attention to the fact that in Job 42:3 as here the one original word is expressed by three words in our language “things too high” (wonderful).
But, the subjects referred to above are important doctrinal matters and I believe they need to be addressed. Too often our view as to how God operates in time are based more on mysticism than on revelation. God can predict the future because He knows what He is going to do in and for His elect. He has angels by the tens of thousands ready and able to carry out His will among the children of men in addition to the fact that by His Spirit He indwells us.
Finally, even if I don’t quite understand God’s ways which are too high for me I hope I have learned (and you too) not to get upset like a spoiled child (I was tempted to use the “b” word) wanting its mother’s constant attention. I know He is there and someday, if it is His will, I will understand these things perfectly. Let us not be like those soulish believers who have to have a new experience to stay contented.
Psalm 132 Desire for Christ’s Coming
There is no doubt as to the prophetic nature of this wonderful piece of poetry about David and his glorious Son Who would (and will) one day sit upon His throne.
The promise in verse eleven is somewhat akin to the doctrine of sanctification. Do you see it? Positionally the “scepter shall not depart from Judah” (Gen.49:10) and John’s father Zacharias spoke of Christ’s advent as the expected “horn of salvation” who would arise “in the house of his servant David” (Luke 1:69). Practically, however, as the promise was originally made to David (1 Chr. 28:7), there was a big “if” in it and that is repeated here in this Psalm in verse twelve.
We who are “chosen in him before the foundation of the world” are to be holy as we have been made holy by predestination (Eph.1:4). In other words, those of us who are sanctified forever (note past tense in Heb.10:14) are expected to “be...holy” in our whole manner of life (1 Peter 1:15). This is no more contradiction than what we see in God’s promise to David. Please read 1 Chr. 22. In verse thirteen, the “if”, again, relating to Solomon, placed a conditional aspect which we know was not met. This, however, did not alter the “positional” promise made to Israel which we know has yet to be fulfilled.
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev.22:2
Psalm 133 Concord and Charity
There should be no doubt in our mind but that the prayer of our Lord Jesus in John seventeen, verse twenty-two was answered on the day of Pentecost. We are one with each other and with the triune God. This has been accomplished by our being indwelt by One of those Persons, namely, the Holy Spirit. In view of this fact together with what Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:1-6 there should be no doubt, either, about what God thinks regarding the subject of unity.
The question is, what do we think about it? Are we at all concerned about the division in the visible church? Some are quick to justify such division by assuming that it is God’s way of reaching people of differing life styles. I see nothing in Scripture that warrants this conclusion. The simple truth is that differences occur among us due to failure on our part. If we were all responsive to the one Spirit within us, there would be outward unity.
We know that all failure in the human race is the result of sin. Another sin also enters the picture, that of pride! We are so sure we are right that we probably never ask God to show us where we might be wrong in our estimation of other assemblies. Not that we are wrong to have strong convictions nor should we be surprised when weaker brethren separate from us. All well and good so long as we remain kindly disposed toward those we consider to be erring brethren.
How our hearts should long for that sweet day when we shall stand united before the throne but, meanwhile, let us pray for those with whom we differ asking the Lord to bring us together on the platform of His word.
Psalm 134 Constant Blessing of God
This is the last of the so-called Songs of Degrees, and, as you know, our titles have been furnished to us by Gene, as I will nickname him. We are now on the top step of the fifteen. Of course, in the O.T. only the priests could get this close to Jehovah and they were to be intercessors for the nation. Today, we are able to approach even closer, in a sense, than they. We come to a throne of grace, yea, into the very presence of the living God. What a privilege!
Note, they were classified as “servants” and we may find that our best service was done at such a time. I sometimes think that if God only answers one of my prayers for the assembly at ------(where I once served for a short time) it will bring enough blessing to satisfy me that my labor has not been in vain in the Lord (1 Cor.15:58).
I am sorry to have to report that I spend most of my nights sleeping, but I am thankful that One Who never sleeps is my intercessor and He is right there at the throne! When it becomes my duty to stand by night in the place of prayer I sincerely hope that I shall be ready to do so. In the meantime, I thank those of you who may remember me when, if through insomnia or Holy Spirit direction you find yourself there.
If you lift your hands in secret that’s okay but don’t do it in public, that’s a no-no in most fundamental churches. Aren’t we sometimes the pits?
Psalm 135:4 “Peculiar treasure”
Spurgeon tells us that at least nine parts of this Psalm are repetition from other places in Scripture and suggests that study might reveal even more. He says it has been called a mosaic. What amazes us today is the profound knowledge he had which enabled him to know this in a day before computers and probably exhaustive concordances. I have checked them out and written the references in my Bible but it is probably not worthwhile to pass the details on to you.
I will however, select one of the nine on which to comment. It is verse four. It is the thought rather than the wording in this particular case, coming from Deut.7:6 and in case we never get around to writing on that book, it is well worth our while to meditate on this verse here. Our KJV translates the Hebrew word in Deut. special while the same word here in our Psalm is translated peculiar treasure. In addition, Malachi 3:17 uses the same term which our translators have rendered jewels but is peculiar treasure in the RSV and mine own possession in the British version.
So, Israel was chosen by God above all people on the face of the earth, shut up unto Him as His special treasured jewels. What a statement of Jehovah’s electing grace.
Is it any less true for us, His church? Not if we understand Ephesians 1:4 and 1 Peter 2:9 correctly. The word “chosen” is the same as “elect” in the Greek. Rom.11: 5,7 and 28 speak of us as the “election of grace”, a special people designed to “set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfection of Him Who called (us) out of darkness into His marvelous light” (Amplified). As living stones in His spiritual house (1 Pet.2:5) we can be certain that as He is precious to us, so are we to Him!
Psalm 136:1 Chorus of Praise
John Gill says that this Psalm was probably composed by David and “given to the Levites to sing every day.” In 1 Chr.16:41 we note that these temple singers were chosen and expressed by name “to give thanks to the Lord because his mercy endureth forever.”
That this song of praise might be divided into several sections was apparent to me as I read it carefully, but I have found a special outline which I think will be more edifying than any I might attempt.
“Praise him for what he is (ver.1-3).
Praise him for what he is able to do (ver.4).
Praise him for what he has done in creation (ver.5-9)
Praise him for what he did in redeeming Israel from bondage (ver.10-15).
Praise him for what he did in his providence toward them (ver.16-22).
Praise him for his grace in times of calamity (ver.23, 24).
Praise him for his grace to the world at large (ver. 25).
Praise him at the remembrance that this God is the God of heaven (ver.26).”
Andrew A. Bonar
As Jehoshaphat taught his army to praise the beauty of holiness by singing this refrain when they went into battle and as absolute victory was the stunning results, so let us know that we also who are ever needing God’s mercy, trying it, praying for it and receiving it, should ever sing of it and be sure that our enemy withers before such a song of praise to our God.
Psalm 137:4 Unable to Sing?
The ending of this Psalm could be troubling. It may help if we understand the historical background. It is said that when Babylon was, in turn, destroyed, the people, in their terror, agreed to destroy their own offspring, “and men thought themselves happy when they had put their own wives and children to the sword.” (Spurgeon on ver.9). He says that we shall be wise to view this passage as a prophecy which history says was literally fulfilled.
Prior to that, the irony of this piece is that though the captive Israelites could not find it in their hearts to sing some of their songs to entertain the enemy, the very incident has itself become one of Zion’s songs. They later sang about not being able to sing.
Of course, it is not a normal thing for those with heavy hearts to sing, but, it is under altogether different circumstances that we sing the Lord’s songs even though we are “in a strange land.” The very remembrance of Jerusalem made them sad though it was preferred above “their chief joy,” for what they remembered was its destruction (v.7).
On the other hand, we look forward to seeing the new Jerusalem and many of our “songs of Zion” relate to our heavenly hope. We sing of the streets of gold, the reuniting with loved ones but most of all of our wonderful Lord Jesus upon whose face we desire to gaze with affection and admiration.
We wonder what might have been the themes of those songs that Paul and Silas sang as “guests” in a most inhospitable Philippian prison at midnight (Acts 16:25). What overflowing joy whelmed from hearts counted worthy to suffer for Jesus’ sake. O to be ready to do as they.
Psalm 138:2 Magnifying God’s Word
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Phil.1:6
Above is the N.T. way of stating what David said in verse eight, “the Lord will perfect that which concerneth me”. Other translators render this “the Lord will fulfil His purpose” or “will make all things complete for me,” or “will carry through my cause”etc.
This sentiment was certainly on David’s mind as he sang his praise to the Lord “before the gods” which could be angels, messengers of God, princes or idols. Why he might do such before idols would be anybody’s guess!
Our attitude in our wholehearted praise should be as in verse six, one of humility.
One might wonder if David thought very long before he made the comparison between God’s name and His word. The fact is, the Holy Spirit said it so it must be right. Some say David was exalting God’s word above everything that he knew about Him especially as He was revealed in nature. We wish some of the modern “Christian”song writers had as much respect for the authority of God’s word. Singing of the greatness of God’s glory, God’s great ones (kings) magnify the words of His mouth as they sing of His ways.
Thank you Lord for answering us when we cry, for giving us strength within and for reviving us when we find ourselves walking in the very midst of trouble. We know (from thy word) that thy right hand will save us for we are indeed the very “works of thine own hands.”
Psalm 139:6 High Knowledge
How well does the Lord know us? This Psalm say it all, does it not? He has searched us to the very depth and in fact is no stranger there having attended us in the womb. When I lie down He is there, when I awake He is still there! “He knoweth the path that I take.” In fact, if I tried I could not get away from Him. He thinks of us so much that to total them would indicate that His thoughts of us are greater than the sands of the sea. He knows us so well because He reads our minds and knows what we are going to say before we say it (verse 2 & 4).
I suppose that most meateaters know that the word translated “hell” in verse eight is “sheol” or the grave in Hebrew and refers to the place of the departed dead in which there were two compartments according to Jewish tradition. The one was for the wicked dead and the other (Abraham’s bosom) was for the righteous. This latter is empty now for the righteous are “with the Lord.” What we generally think of when the word “hell” is used, is the lake of fire described in Revelation 20:15. Note in verse 13 that hell (that is sheol) gives up its dead and they are then placed in the lake of fire (second death). This, of course, has not happened yet. Luke 16 shows us that this concept of sheol was the way Christ understood it and Ephesians 4:8 is generally believed to be speaking of the emptying of “Abraham’s bosom” while the wicked are left to suffer torment unto this day.
Perhaps that will be helpful to someone--I seriously did not intend to get off on a tangent.
We close on a more positive note. What a wonderful little prayer are verses 23 &24. David begins this Psalm speaking of being searched by our omniscient God, he ends by imploring Him to please keep searching.
Psalm 140 Cry of the Hunted soul (Spurgeon)
I know that you are troubled, as I am, at the imprecatory language in some of David’s psalms. The best thing I can do to be of help is to refer you to the Treasury of David and that master of expositors, Charles Spurgeon. He writes (Vol. V11, p. 260) in his preface:
“The life of David wherein he comes in contact with Saul and Doeg is the best explanation of this psalm; and surely there can be no reasonable doubt that David wrote it, and wrote it in the time of his exile and peril. The tremendous outburst at the end has in it the warmth which was so natural to David, who was never lukewarm in anything; yet it is to be noticed that concerning his enemies he was often hot in language through indignation, and yet he was cool in action, for he was not revengeful. His was no petty malice, but a righteous anger: he foresaw, foretold, and even desired the just vengeance of God upon the proud and wicked, and yet he would not avail himself of opportunities to avenge himself upon those who had done him wrong. It may be that his appeals to the great King cooled his anger, and enabled him to leave his wrongs unredressed by any personal act of violence. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord”; and David when most wounded by undeserved persecution and wicked falsehood was glad to leave his matters at the foot of the throne, where they would be safe with the King of kings.”
We may transfer these sentiments to our enemy, Satan, and rejoice for the helmet of salvation (Eph.6:17) which covers our head in the days of our battles with him.
Psalm 141:2 Sweet Savor Offerings
Contemplation on worship at the tabernacle filled David’s mind as he uttered this psalm of prayer before the Lord on this occasion. This is also a helpful exercise for us as well.
As we spend time in God’s presence each day let us think of our prayers as sweet incense ascending to our heavenly Father. He catches the prayers of the saints and stores them, as it were, in golden vials (Rev.5:8) to be poured out as an offering on the golden altar before His throne along with “much incense.”
It is said (Gen. 8:21) that when Noah made a sacrifice after alighting from the ark God smelled it as a sweet savor, so we know that His sense of smell is pictured as receiving our sacrifice (Heb.13:15). In Leviticus and Numbers there are a great many references to the “sweet savor” offerings.
Oh, oh, here’s another reference to the lifting up of hands while praying (Ps.134:2) and let us not overlook 1 Tim.2:8! Try it (in secret) you’ll like it. Just remember, God hates hypocrisy and ostentatiousness certainly fits that category. We have to be so careful to be sincere and humble before Him. “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”
It is really something to contemplate that David could say these words and then, (under inspiration of the Holy Spirit), call down God’s wrath, as he often did, upon his enemies. I refer you back to Spurgeon’s words in the previous writing.
Psalm 142:2 Complaining?
While we might like to justify a complaining spirit even to the point of besieging God’s ears with the like, I really don’t think that the Hebrew word translated “complaint” here quite justifies doing so, though we might like to cite this verse as proof (also 102:1) that it’s ok. Probably the sense here is more that of one presenting a case. At any rate, we surely must watch our tongue (141:3) especially if it bespeaks an attitude of pettiness or childlike griping. I’m sure the Lord tolerates a lot from us but we, in turn, must not forget to be respectful.
I do think it is suitable for us to plead with our heavenly Father and even to present reasons for asking Him to consider our thought on a matter. As long as we don’t forget that He is sovereign in all things and knows so much better than we do concerning our requests, we may approach Him as a child would come to a loving father. For example, I sometimes explain to the Lord why I think He should do a certain thing but all the while aware that He always knows and does what is best.
On another subject, I never read this Psalm but what I think about a certain speaker we once had at our church. He was a former convict who used very effectively that part of the fourth verse about no man caring for his soul but how the Lord cared for him and wonderfully saved him. He also used verse seven about being brought out of prison. The fact was that he phoned the day he was scheduled to arrive and tried to beg off because of the distance he had to drive. It took considerable persuasion but finally he agreed grudgingly to fulfil his obligation. We had advertised widely and felt it would be a great disappointment should he not come. By the way , a lady who soon after died of cancer received Christ that night and later had a glorious home going. Her son also was converted and has walked with the Lord for years. Our complaining about his decision not to come really paid off.
Psalm 143: 1 “Hear my Prayer”
In case we are lost for words when we come to our Father in prayer, here, especially in verses 5-11, we find excellent enablement.
Verse five:” I remember....” It is always a great aid to our prayer time to begin in praise for all the wonderful ways the Lord hath blessed us in the past. To muse on the works of His hands, in the Old Testament stories, in the powerful resurrection of Christ’s spiritual body, the church, and in the continuation of that great work of grace whereby He saved us and does “great and mighty” things for us daily.
Verse six: “ I stretch forth my hands.....” Jesus said that those who will thirst will be filled. (Matt. 5:6).
Verse seven:” Hear me.....”has He not promised and will He not “avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” (Lk.18:7)
Verse eight: “Cause me....”to hear; to walk. We will not get very far in our walk as believers unless it is bathed in this kind of prayer. Each morning we should meet with Him, stretching out, lifting up, affirming our trust.
Verse nine: “Deliver me.....” picture being hidden in the cleft of the rock. Our enemy is out to destroy us but, thankfully, we can run to our high tower and be safe. (Next Psalm, verse 2)
Verse ten: “ Teach me....;” “lead me....” One of the most important ministries of the Holy Spirit is that of being our teacher and His text book, which He authored, is the Bible. At this point it would be well to acknowledge Him and expect that He will lead His obedient one into the promised land. (Understanding our position in Christ).
Verse eleven: “Quicken me...”. It is well for us to realize that any work He does in us is for His sake primarily, not ours, that God may be glorified and His righteousness, praised.
Psalm 144 Worship, Some Pros and Cons.
For anyone wishing to study this Psalm in depth, there is a very interesting interpretation advanced by Bullinger in “Figures of Speech Used in the Bible” pg. 364 that totally changes the meaning from that which we would conclude upon casual reading. It relates to the use of a figure of speech he calls correspondance but it is too involved for us to handle it here.
A good exercise would be to check out Psalms eight, eighteen and thirty-three to note how the psalmist here draws upon these poems. Also note the similarity between verse 5 and Isaiah 64:1. We do well to follow the example of the author here by taking these words upon our own lips in prayer. Have we not often longed for our God to “do something”? Many times I have taken these words to the throne and made them my earnest supplication. If you have not been in the habit of doing so, please try it, for I am convinced that this is one purpose for which the Psalms were originally written. They are to be an aid to our personal worship.
I should hate to lose track of Spurgeon’s comment on verse nine as it is so appropriate for today though written one hundred and ten years ago, so I’ll include it here. “When music drowns the voice and artistic skill takes a higher place than hearty singing, it is time that instruments were banished from public worship;” yes, but, my brother, you speak of worship, what about Christian entertainment? Would you not like to read what he might say to that? I would!
Psalm 145 David’s Tehillah
An acrostic poem, this, like the 119th, follows an alphabetic pattern. Interestingly, like the proverbial thirteenth floor of a hotel, the letter corresponding to that number is omitted. There should have been twenty-two verses. Why? Who knows, but certainly was not due to superstition. Some believe that the use of the Hebrew letters to begin each verse was an aid to the memory.
You will note as you read it that every verse is a note of praise. In fact, the word in Hebrew for praise “Tehillah” is found only attached to this particular psalm and it would seem that is was reserved for this one which is David’s Psalm of Praise and will be the last time in this book that we will hear from him. He bows out with this very word upon his lips “my mouth shall speak the praise (tehillah) of the Lord”( v.21) and adds the admonition “let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever”.
As though the compiler is taking these words to heart, the next Psalm begins with the related word, “hallelujah.” (Praise ye the Lord).
How much we have to praise Him for! Let us be sure to do it often.
Someone has suggested that in verses one and two we have the four “I wills” of praise. And again, in verses 5-7, the subjects for praise; 1. Divine majesty. 2. Divine works. 3. Divine judgements. 4. Divine greatness. 5. Divine goodness. 6. Divine righteousness.
Psalm 146 Among the Mountains
Approaching Yellowstone National Park we were awed by the Grand Tetons and leaving later by way of the Bear Tooth Highway there was no doubt, we had been among the mountains. Spurgeon calls the remaining Psalms, “the Delectable Mountains,”and notes that the rest of our journey to the end of our grand tour along this great heavenly highway lies among these high peaks of praise.
It is as though our writer has grasped the concept that it is David’s heart’s desire to end this book on the highest notes possible. He ended his personal Psalm of praise by calling upon “all flesh” to join him in speaking praise unto Jehovah. We might see these words as the front end of a parenthesis with the closing end being the very last verse of the 150th ! (“Let all flesh...let everything that hath breath”.)
And now, for the last five times we will meet in this book we are exhorted, “Praise ye the Lord”! In fact, each of these praise passages have these words as brackets for they begin and end with the Hallel.
If we want one final reason, as we close this Psalm, to praise God for what He, who “loveth the righteous, has done for us,” let us look briefly at the final moments of the wicked (v.4). No matter how powerful the prince or how wise the scholar, as soon as his breath goes from him, everything that he was about during his lifetime is GONE! His very thoughts perish. The sand drifts over his footprints as his dust settles into the ground.
In contrast, we see in verse five that our “happiness is to know the Savior” and to live a life being favored with His help and to have a future with hope in the Lord.
Psalm 147:1 “It is Good”
Down among the mountains, the broad river of the Book of Psalms ends in a cataract of praise. So Spurgeon paints the picture. “It is good to sing praises unto our God” v.1.
The river is deep and we have tried with feeble effort to plumb its depth taking soundings here and there as we have ventured out upon it. Tiny and great have been the coves where we have anchored for a little time before moving on, the scenery filling us with delight as dusk has fallen to be replaced seemingly moments later by the rosy dawn of some new truth as it has broken in upon our minds. Now, the river gets noisy as it cascades over the rocks of our daily experience and with one voice shouts forth praise to the Maker.
Spurgeon says, it is good to sing praise “because it is right; good because it is acceptable with God, beneficial to ourselves, and stimulating to our fellows. Singing the divine praises is the best possible use of speech; it speaks of God, for God, and to God, and it does this in a joyful and reverent manner. Singing in the heart is good, but singing with heart and voice is better, for it allows others to join with us. Jehovah is our God, therefore let him have the homage of our praise; and he is so gracious and happy a God that our praise may best be expressed in joyful song.” (Vol.7, p.395)
We will speak more of nature’s voice of praise as we turn to the next Psalm, but let us close this one even as we might close out the day of blessing by looking up as dusk gives way to blackness, ere the moon rises to view the stars and remind ourselves of God’s greatness not only in creating these apparent tiny windows on His glory, but in His knowing their number and their name (v.4).
Psalm 148:8 “Fulfilling His Word”
I confess that I am not certain that God plans every storm that breaks upon the earth not that I have not faith to believe He could, but I rather think He has ordained the conditions that result in the frantic fretting features of this sin-cursed earth that we call stormy weather. Having said that, I hasten to add that it is clear that He often interjects Himself into man’s experience through the use of such things to accomplish His will. He is in a position of control of any and all elements that surround us. Perhaps it is true, however, that the god of this world may also be involved as we suspect he was on Galilee when winds and waves threatened to drown Our Lord Jesus while He slept and His disciples prepared to perish. But ultimately, it was our Lord’s sea and wind as was obvious when they meekly “obeyed His will”.
In the previous Psalm, as in this, we see that these elements of the storm belong to our God. He is seen as the one Who “giveth snow” and “scattereth the hoarfrost”. It is His ice and His cold and He it is that causeth His wind to blow. We are to praise Him because He created them, establishing them as a part of man’s experience and yet decreeing that they must serve with limits, fulfilling His word.
Are we not continually amazed at the surgical strikes of tornados which tear whole towns apart with hardly a loss of life and of hurricanes that seem to have their eye upon coastal cities? Are these fulfilling His word, reminding mere mortals of His great power and judgement? Perhaps this is one way in our times when God’s word is so neglected for Him to say, “his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and the heaven.”
Psalm 149:4 “.....pleasure in his people:”
It is no contradiction to read in an earlier place that God “taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man” (147:10) and then here in verse four that He “taketh pleasure in his people.” In the one case we see what He thinks of the flesh and in the latter, it is because we are “in the spirit” that it can be said that we bring Him pleasure. Even then, it is possible for those who “live in the Spirit” to walk in the flesh. When Christians so use their legs in such a manner He is certainly not pleased. And how do we do that? 1 Cor. 3:3 is surely the answer, not necessarily the doing of those things that were occurring in the Corinthian assembly, though they are certainly included, but any kind of action that belies the fact that we are no longer mere men, but “new creatures.” In Galations 5 we are told that we are to walk in the spirit (v.16) and again in verse twenty-five. The simple truth here is that being alive in the spirit and appropriating Christ’s death for us as having slain (positionally) the old nature we are no longer bound by its lusts, etc.(v.16) (see Gal. 2:20).
Probably this Psalm looks forward to the millennial reign of our Lord Jesus Christ when all His enemies will be under the dominion of His “two-edged sword” actually wielded by the saints who will be reigning with and for Him.
It is then that we, the meek who have inherited the earth will be beautified by our complete salvation involving new bodies.
As Israel enjoyed the feast of harvest ending,( tabernacles), by singing and dancing with praises to their God upon timbrel and harp, so they will one day join us, or us them, in singing a really new song. Rev.5:9-14.
Psalm 150 Hallelujah
We have finely arrived! Let us dig out all the instruments - especially the “ high sounding cymbals”- are we ever going to have a time!
Do we dare add anything to this crescendo of praise? – No, let us just join in the real Hallelujah Chorus.
Hallelujah – “Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for His mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.”