PSALM 58 TALK: ORIGINAL SIN

PSALM 58 TALK: ORIGINAL SIN

(An answer to the question if there is a God why is there so much evil in this world)

(The Psalm answers why there is so much wickedness in this world and what God has done and will do about it)

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INTRODUCTION

I am so glad I have chosen to work my way through the Psalms as it has forced me to look at things I would be tempted to avoid. I first thought of this when I was forced to look at “Money” in Psalm 49 and now it is “Sin” in this Psalm. Money is a difficult topic for me because I live it such a rich country and I often feel guilty at being so comfortable when so many people still suffer from poverty. Sin, because it is a very unpopular and negative thing to speak about today.

However “Sin” and an understanding of what God in his word has to say about this is crucial to the message of the bible and particularly the Good News it offers this world. In my study for Psalm 53 I looked extensively at what atheists have to say and the question of why there is so much evil in the world often came up. In a article on the internet called, Philosophy of Religion and in a section entitled “Problem of Evil” I read this,

“The problem of evil (or argument from evil) is the problem of reconciling the existence of the evil in the world with the existence of an omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful) and perfectly good God. The argument from evil is the atheistic argument that the existence of such evil cannot be reconciled with, and so disproves, the existence of such a God”.

Psalm 58 and the teaching in the bible it relates to will give us an answer to this all-important question.

Psalm 58 is the second Psalm that David wrote which the title directs it to be sung to the tune of, “Do Not Destroy” (Psalm 57 is the first). The next Psalm, Psalm 59 has this instruction as well. We have a later Psalm written by Asaph, Psalm 75 that also has the instruction to be sung by this tune. As I stated in the last Psalm talk on Psalm 57 these words remind us of David’s words when he chose not to kill his enemy King Saul in 1 Samuel 26: 9,

“But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless”.

Even though in this Psalm David is directing a prayer towards the destruction of men like King Saul and his followers David did not see that his role was to bring about this destruction but rather judgment belonged to God and God alone.

Even though one single incident cannot be determined to be behind the writing of this Psalm it is clear that the first verse refers to “rulers” or “Judges” then the way King Saul acted and often spoke of David’s supposed treachery to his fellow rulers or judges lies behind the writing of this Psalm.

An interesting example of what Saul was saying to his fellow rulers or judges and how those “rulers” or “judges” were reacting to this comes up in a incident soon after David escaped from the cave of Adullam a possible context of the previous Psalm, Psalm 57. This incident occurs in 1 Samuel 22: 6 – 8 and its reads like this,

“Now Saul heard that David and his men had been discovered. And Saul, spear in hand, was seated under the tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah, with all his officials standing around him. Saul said to them, “Listen, men of Benjamin! Will the son of Jesse give all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make all of you commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? Is that why you have all conspired against me? No one tells me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is concerned about me or tells me that my son has incited my servant to lie in wait for me, as he does today.”

This gathering is said to be typical of an ancient King holding court in the field and his fellow rulers or judges surround King Saul. Here Saul’s mad claims of treason and conspiracy to treason of David are clearly stated. Saul’s fellow rulers are compliant by their silence and in the next verse the evil Edomite, Doeg, is guilty of compliance to Saul’s treachery by his actions in telling Saul of David’s visit to Ahimelech in Nod and his subsequent slaughter of Ahimelech and his fellow priest’s of Nod and their families at the request of King Saul.

This evil treachery, which led Saul to a mad and murderous campaign to kill his innocent and faithful servant David, is what lies behind the words of David in this Psalm. Saul’s wickedness owing to his sin which was his rebellion to God’s rule in his life forms the basis of my layout of this Psalm, which is:

  1. SINS OF THE LEADERS (1 – 2)
  1. SINS OF ALL OF US (3 – 5)
  1. SINS CONSEQUENCES (6 – 9)
  1. SIN AND THE PEOPLE OF FAITH (10 – 11)

I must also mention that this Psalm presents to bible scholars a lot of problem’s and difficulties in translation as the Hebrew word’s available to translate are either not clear in what they actually mean or some of the text has suffered distortion from the way it has been copied in the past. However these problems do not take away from the obvious truths this Psalm presents.

  1. SINS OF THE LEADERS (1 – 2)

In the first two verses David speaks directly to the sin’s of Saul and his advises or fellow rulers. I have broken these two verses down to:

  1. What the sins of the leaders actually were (vs. 1)
  2. Why theses leaders committed these sins (vs. 2)
  1. What the sins of the leaders actually were (vs.1)

The first of these translation problems comes up in the first verse and the original Hebrew word the experts generally translate as, “rulers”. The RSV translates rulers as “God’s” but even though the Hebrew word here can mean, “God’s” it also used in other places like Ezekiel 17: 13, for “rulers”

So the first verse read’s in the NIV translation,

“Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge uprightly among men?”

The “rulers” then are King Saul and his men in leadership and advisory positions that surrounded him at the time of David’s eight to nine year battles with King Saul. David rightly feels unjustly treated, as he has been labelled a traitor to his king and nation when he has showed nothing but loyalty and faithful service to King Saul and Israel.

It would have been very difficult for Saul’s advisers and rulers to speak against their mad Kings accusations against David as you can see from Saul’s reaction to his number one son, Jonathon. At the beginning of David’s flight from Saul’s jealous madness Jonathon spoke up for David and in 1 Samuel 20: 30 – 33, we then read of the violent reaction of King Saul,

“Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!”

“Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David”.

So Saul’s advisers either kept quiet or joined in condemnation of David and of course both reactions are wrong. When a leader remains silent when he sees obvious injustice he is as good as condoning it.

Jesus faced similar reactions to his false accusations of wrong doing by the religious leaders of his day and only two religious leaders, in the end turned to Jesus. These two men are mentioned in Johns Gospel in John 19: 38 and 39 and are Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who went to Pilot to retrieve the body of Christ after his crucifixion.

What were the sins of Saul and his leaders and indeed the religious leaders of Jesus day?

In Matthew 23 Jesus spells out seven woes against the teachers of the law and the Pharisees and woe number 7, I think gives a good answer to this question, Matthew 23: 27 – 28,

 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness”.

The concept of something being wrong with these leaders on the inside will be looked at in more depth in the next verse and in the second section of this Psalm.

The answer to David’s question in verse 1,

Do you judge uprightly among men?

Is answered at the start of verse 1 and it is of course, No. David was innocent of the crimes he was charged with yet without any court or opportunity to defend himself he was tried and convicted on little or no evidence.

Many Christians have been treated this way and still are today. I have heard of Christians being taken from their homes or churches and without any charges being laid against them have been either imprisoned or killed. The leaders who either organise this or turn a blind eye to this unjust actions are just lie Saul and his rulers and stand under the judgment of God as we will see in the third section of this Psalm.

  1. Why theses leaders committed these sins (vs. 2)

David pin- points why these leaders committed these sins, in these words,

“No, in your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out violence on the earth”

David says simply the problem that the unjust leaders had come from their hearts. An Internet site called “Bible Study Tools” says that heart (lebab) in the Old Testament,

“Denotes a person’s centre for both physical and emotional-intellectual-moral activities”

Jesus says this about the human heart in Matthew 15: 18 – 19,

“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander”.

So the cause of the rulers injustice was their hearts, which had become corrupted by sin, and the next verse will state that not just Saul and his fellow leaders had this problem but so does everyone.

When a man kills another man we cannot blame God we must blame the man who let hate or revenge grow in his heart and that caused him to murder. Some atheists argue, but you say God made us so then he is to blame for making a man able to murder another. However we have not been made as robots that simply do what its maker programs the robot to do. No we were made as free thinking living souls but as we will see from the next section our freedom led us to choose to disobey God.

People think it would be better if God made us only to choose good but what kind of relationship would we have with God if we did not have the ability to choose good. If I made someone love me by putting some kind of love spell on them would you say that is real love?

No, only as we choose to place our love on someone else and they choose to accept that love and then love us in return do we say real love exists.

Of course there was no love for David by Saul and his fellow rulers for as David says,

“Your hands mete out violence on the earth”

We see this today, “hands of mankind metering out violence on the earth” and in some cases this violence on earth comes from the hands of men and women who say they are acting in the name of their God.

Today even children suffer violence and death at the hands of men and women, some in the name of God but Jesus has this to say about this in Matthew 18: 6 – 7,

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!”

I am convinced that anyone who meters out violence on another person in the name of God is not led by God but is being led by their hearts corrupted by their sins. The other inspirer of evil deeds is the evil one called the devil. As the apostle John made it clear in 1 John 3: 8 – 10,

“He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother”.

  1. SINS OF ALL OF US (3 – 5)

David then moves from Saul and his fellow rulers to all men and women. He speaks of “the wicked” but even he was wicked or sinful as we saw from other Psalms. Particularly we saw this in Psalm 51 verse 5:

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me”.

So David will now state yet again the bibles teaching on what is called, “Original Sin”.

We will now look at two issues David raises in the second section of this Psalm:

  1. Original Sin made clear (vs. 3)
  2. Original Sin and it’s consequences explained (4 – 5)
  1. Original Sin made clear (vs. 3)

The only difference between the wicked man or the man who continues to do wickedness and people like David is both the degree of their wickedness and as we will see in the last section of this Psalm if they have found the gift of God’s righteousness or not.

So David says this about us all in verse 3,

“Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies”

This is the doctrine of “Original Sin” which first appears in Genesis 8: 21,

“The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood”.

The smell God is finding pleasing is from the sacrifice offered by Noah after he was saved from the flood. But even the righteous man of faith Noah had the sin problem, which began long before, by Adam and Eve in the garden when they chose to disobey God and go their own way and not God’s way in their lives.

Paul speaks of the sin bias we all have in his explanation of the Gospel to the Roman church of his day. He writes in Romans 3: 9 – 18,

“What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

I am shocked to hear and see on the nightly TV news evil acts of men and women but I am not surprised as I know what the bible says about the human heart and how it is in rebellion to God which leads to all kinds of evil deeds.

David saw the evil of mankind in the person of King Saul and his supporters. He later saw it in his very own Son, Absalom. He saw it in the Nations round about him who hated the God of Israel and its anointed King. Which reminds us yet again of a theme that runs right through the first and second books of Psalms and which we first read about in Psalm 2: 2,

“The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One”.

When we see evil wicked acts of men and women we cannot blame God because those evil acts did not come from his hands but we must blame the men and women who do them who are driven by rebellion to God that comes from the centre of their existence, their hearts.

  1. Original Sin and its consequences explained (4 – 5)

As I said in the previous section the only difference between God’s people like David and Saul and his advisers and supporters was the degree of their sinning and their faith in the saving mercy of God, which we will look at in the last section of this Psalm.

Men and women who refuse to turn in repentance and faith to the true God of the bible become more and more controlled and depraved by sin. Saul started his reign as king seemingly trusting in God but he began to become impatient with having to wait on God and the power he had as king quickly went to his head and he became proud and stubborn. This led to him getting more and more effected by sin and the jealousy of David’s popularity and the subsequent false accusations of treason against David lead to Saul seeking to kill David. This revealed how far he had fallen from the grace of God.

By the time David is on the run Saul is so affected by his sin he has ordered the death of the priests of Nod and eventually he falls so far from trusting God he consults a foreign witch for guidance before his final battle with the Philistines where he took his own life.

David describes this kind of consequences of sin in graphic poetic terms in verses 4 and 5,

“Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears,

That will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skilful the enchanter may be.

 This graphic picture of the consequences of being hell bent on rebelling the rule of God in your life presents the picture of a venomous snake. These people are dangerous, as David knew from Saul and his supporters and fellow rulers. They were like snakes you handle with care.

In Australia we have the largest numbers of venomous snakes in the world and from an early age we are taught to give snakes we come across in the wild a wide birth. The people who get bitten by snakes are either people who accidentally step on them or worse people who do not recognise the obvious danger of venomous snakes and tease or play with them.

We read of the beheading of foreigners in places like Syria and Iraq by extreme Muslim terrorists and usually they are people who have ignored the warnings of the danger of these fanatics and who consequently get captured by them and after torture they are publicly killed in a most evil barbarous way.

I read of an American Christian who went to North Korea and openly handed out Christian tracts and was not surprisingly arrested and after much diplomatic efforts was released. This man was not brave he was just plain stupid and he learnt a hard lesson from his stupidity.

Jesus gives us good advice when he tells his disciples in Matthew 10: 16,

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves”.

The second poetic image David employs in these verses is of a snake, usually a cobra that will not listen to the snake charmer and therefore fails to do the dance these snakes usually perform.

As David writes,

“Like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skilful the enchanter may be”.

The fact is that snakes are deaf and it is the movement of the charmer’s pipe that usually mesmerises the snake to dance. However the image is how sin blocks a person’s ears to the word of God and they fail to live the way that God wants them to live.

We see all around us today the evidence of the sorts of lives people live when they fail to acknowledge God’s rule in their lives. Paul presents a graphic picture of the kinds of lives sin produces in Romans 1: 29 – 32,

“ They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.

Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them”.

David’s poetic image presents the idea that the root cause of all this is that these people have stopped their ears to God and his word and in doing so they fail to heed that word pictured in verse 5 as,

“The tune of the charmer”

No matter how good and right the word of God can be it makes no difference to these dangerous and disobedient people because they will not listen to God.

  1. SINS CONSEQUENCES (6 – 9)

We come then to the verses in the Psalm which have suffered from poor copying over the many centuries before the coming of Christ and which have made clear translation of these verses difficult. I have studied the wise research of many experts and will give you now the results of my own understanding of this research.

What is clear even with the difficulties of the text is that David wants to denounce his Godless enemies and point out the dire consequences of their sins. He does this with a short imprecatory prayer (a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to one’s enemies). I note again even though David prayed a lot of these prayers he never actually acted as God’s agent of judgment on his enemy King Saul, rather he left the judgment to come from God himself. When people of any faith kill other people in the name of judgment and vengeance of their God they are actually putting themselves under the judgment of God for their evil actions. As it says in Deuteronomy 32: 35,

“It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.”

Paul takes up this text in an even clearer instruction for Christians not to act as tools of God’s judgment and vengeance in Romans 12: 19 – 21,

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; 
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”.

The consequences of these peoples sins is seen in four poetic images:

  1. Made harmless like lions who’s teeth are removed (vs. 6)
  2. Vanish like water flowing away or like grass been trodden underfoot (vs. 7)
  3. Amount to nothing like a dead snail or a still -born child (vs. 8)
  4. Swept away in Judgment like pot of water not yet come to the boil (vs. 9)
  1. Made harmless like lions who’s teeth are removed (vs. 6)

David used the image of lions to depict his enemies in the previous, Psalm 57: 4. An anonymous Internet article called “Lions in the bible” makes these interesting observations about lions and the bible,

“The Bible refers to lions about 150 times. Lions existed in Europe until about 100 CE and in Palestine until about 1400 CE”.

Here in verse 6 of this Psalm David prays,

“Break the teeth bin their mouths, O God; tear out, O Lord, the fangs of the lions!”

David is praying that God will stop his enemy’s powerful attack on him and his faithful followers. He wants them to become like toothless lions that offer no threat with their gummy mouths. Of course this is what will happen to the to powerful Godless evil people of this world in the coming judgment of God.

The book of Revelation has some very powerful pictures of the fate of the powerful evil people of this world being made powerless as they are overthrown. A good example of this is in Revelation 19: 19 – 21,

Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulphur  The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh”

Even without trying to unpick the poetic language of this passage the image is clear of how the mighty forces of evil in this world, people who have rejected the rule of God in their lives and are deep in sinful actions will be made powerless in the face of meeting the God of heaven and earth in Judgment.

  1. Vanish like water flowing away or like grass been trodden underfoot (vs. 7)

In this verse the original Hebrew text gets messy and there are two possible images suggested here but both say the same thing namely David wants his enemies to vanish or go away.

The text is usually translated like we see in the NIV translation as,

“Let them vanish like water that flows away; when they draw the bow, let their arrows be blunted”.

Derek Kidner points us to the RSV translation, which changes the second, half of the verse to read:

“Like grass let them be trodden down and wither”.

The RSV translation seems to be a better piece of parallelism (rhyming thought) and reinforces David’s first thought of asking God to get rid of his enemies who are acting in sinful rebellion to God when they seek to destroy him. Calvin puts this image into its true perspective in David’s time with these words,

The expression indicates the greatness of his faith. His enemies were before his eyes in all the array of their numbers and resources; he saw that their power was deeply rooted and firmly established; the whole nation was against him, and seemed to rise up before him like a hopeless and formidable barrier of Rocky Mountains. To pray that this solid prodigious opposition should melt down and disappear, evidenced no small degree of courage, and the event could only appear credible to one who had learnt to exalt the power of God above all intervening obstacles”.

The second way of reading the second half of this verse reads,

“When they draw the bow, let their arrows be blunted”.

Is speaking more about the power of his enemies weapons becoming ineffective which would make this enemies power over David vanish as well.

As Christians we might feel small and ineffective in the place we seek to live and witness. We too like David might feel the powerful effects of the sinful Godless people that seem to surround us. However we must never let ourselves become discouraged as Jesus promises to always be with us. As he said to the disciples recorded at the end of Matthew’s gospel, Matthew 28: 18 – 20,

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Paul gives us all his own powerful and instructive words of living and ministering for God in this fallen world when he writes in Ephesians 6: 10 – 18,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people”.

  1. Amount to nothing like a dead snail or a still -born child (vs. 8)

The slightly confused text continues in verse 8 but like the previous verse the point David is making is not lost in the variety of translations offered. Here are two different ways of translating this verse.

First we have the NIV,

“May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along, like a stillborn child that never sees the sun”.

 Then we have the Holman Christian Standard Bible,

“Like a slug that moves along in slime, like a woman’s miscarried child, they will not see the sun”.

 The idea is that the consequences of sin or what David prayed would be his enemies consequences for their sins which is futility in the end. The images are of a slug either melting in the sun or simply a slug moving along in its slime and a still born child or a miscarried baby that is a life that never sees the light of day.

Whatever the image is exactly the sense of them is simply futility. Futility is a consequence of our sins if we do not have the gift of forgiveness offered in the death and resurrection of Christ, God’s Son then we have no hope in the coming judgment of God.

If we accept the free gift of God’s forgiveness offered through the death and resurrection of Christ then we have a sure and certain hope. This present and future hope is the theme of Paul’s great eighth chapter of his letter to the Roman Church of his time. Here are just to extracts from that incredible chapter:

Romans 8: 1 – 4,

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”.

And, Romans 8: 22 – 25,

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to son ship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently”.

  1. Swept away in Judgment like pot of water not yet come to the boil (vs. 9)

The most difficult verse to untangle from the original Hebrew text is this verse. Calvin gives an excellent summary, reasons for problems and interpretation in his commentary and writes,

“Some obscurity attaches to this verse, arising partly from the perplexed construction, and partly from the words being susceptible of a double meaning. Thus the Hebrew word, “sioth”, signifies either a pot or a thorn. If we adopt the first signification, we must read, “Before your pots feel the fire which had been kindled by thorns”; if the second, “before your thorns grow to a bush”, that is, reach their full height and thickness. What, following the former sense, we have translated “flesh yet raw”, must be rendered, provided we adopt the other, “tender, or not yet grown”.

Two different translations then are NIV,

“Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns– whether they be green or dry–the wicked will be swept away”.

International Standard version,

“Before your clay pots are placed on a fire of burning thorns— whether green or ablaze— wrath will sweep them away like a storm”.

And, Dauary Rhelms Bible,

“Before your thorns could know the brier; he swalloweth them up, as alive, in his wrath”.

The last version translates the Hebrew word, “sioth” to thorn and not pot and has no mention of a cooking pot.

Whatever you choose as the translation the same meaning is clear that the consequences of sin is that the wicked will face sure and swift judgment. David prays for this sure and swift judgment to come on his enemy, King Saul but we know it took eight years or so for this prayer to be answered.

Again, David could have made the destruction of Saul come sooner but he chose not to execute God’s Judgment from his own hands but let God bring it about in his own time.

Once a person dies or Jesus returns then they are still alive to conduct the final judgment then judgment will come to that person sure and swift. This is what I believe Jesus is speaking about in Matthew 24: 40,

“Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left”.

 I do not believe this is speaking about a secret rapture but about the sure and swift taking of believers into heaven and those who are left behind to face the final judgment. This interpretation is supported by the context, which refers the coming of Christ and what will happen to be like the days of Noah and the flood (Matthew 24: 36 – 39).

  1. SIN AND THE PEOPLE OF FAITH (10 – 11)

In the last two verses of this Psalm, which has majored on the topic of sin and particularly original sin David now turns to the people he calls “The Righteous” and what, will happen to them. I will deal with three key issues in these verses:

  1. Who is David referring to when he speaks of “The righteous”?
  2. God’s people will be avenged (vs. 10)
  3. God’s people will be rewarded (vs. 11)
  1. Who is David referring to when he speaks of “The righteous”?

David has made it clear in this Psalm in verse 3 and from Psalm 51 verse 5, which speaks about himself that all men are sinful from the day of their birth and therefore he could not believe that he or anyone had righteousness in themselves.

However David constantly refers to God as a God of mercy and love and therefore he believed that God’s forgiveness and therefore God’s righteousness is a gift from God. As he asks in Psalm 51: 1 and 2,

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin”.

So David saw that “The Righteous” are the true people of faith, people God taught what “righteousness” living involved and through who he made a covenant of love with. God promises to guide and protect his people if they seek to obey his law and remain faithful to him and him alone. . This is very clear in David’s words in Psalm 25: 4 – 14,

“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour  and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good. Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them”.

 In this excellent passage David pin- points four characteristics of the true people of God David also refers to as “The Righteous”.

Those four characteristics are:

  1. They are sinners who seek God’s forgiveness.
  2. They are people who are humble before God
  3. They seek to keep the demands of God’s covenant (obviously not perfectly)
  4. They fear God.

The New Testament and the particularly the coming of Christ makes it clear how we can be righteous before God and therefore can also be called, “The Righteous”. Here are two passages that make that clear.

  1. 2 Corinthians 5: 16 – 21,

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”.

And,

  1. Romans 3: 21 – 26,

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus”.

 So David and indeed any people of faith cannot boast in themselves but can only boast of God and what he has done for us. As the famous bumper stickers reads,

“Christians aren’t perfect they are just forgiven”.

 This amazing message, some call, “The Good News” was lost for centuries even in the Christian church and it was men like Martin Luther in the 16th century that re-discovered it and started the reformation. This reformation swept through Europe and the then the world and led to the formation of many protestant churches and many of these still proclaim this “Good News” which helps many people to become God’s faithful people who have received the gift of God’s forgiveness and who can be called “The Righteous”.

  1. God’s people will be avenged (vs. 10)

The context of David speaking about sin and its consequences is his unjust and evil treatment by his enemies led by King Saul. David refers to this injustice and his desire for God to vindicate him in many of his Psalms and this Psalm is a good example of this.

Verse 10 is in fact David stating by faith that his day of vindication will come when God’s day of judgment on his enemies comes. He says this in the first part of the verse,

“The righteous will be glad when they are avenged”

 These words relate to general sin that we all have and are all effected by and is the driving force behind King Saul’s unjust treatment of David and it is how Saul showed his rebellion to God. It amazes me how far non- believers will go to deny the existence of God which proves to me they are in rebellion to God and the best way of not coming to terms with a God and how he might want them to live is to simply deny he exists.

As “The Righteous” or as the previous section set down people who have accepted God’s gift of forgiveness we stand as a constant testimony to the reality of God and therefore are sometimes persecuted by those who want to reject our God’s claims upon their lives.

However if those who reject God do not themselves turn back to God and accept his gift of God’s forgiveness than they too like King Saul will be avenged or judged.

The words in this verse, “Be glad” could be translated “Rejoice” and this does not mean we will enjoy the coming of God’s judgment on our enemies but rather as Joseph Benson writes,

“The vengeance of God upon the enemies of his church. That is, he shall rejoice when he sees the blessed effects of it; the vindication of God’s honour, and the deliverance of himself, and all good men”.

 The book of Revelation written at a time of intense persecution of the Church of God by the Roman’s speaks a lot about the deliverance of the church and the judgment on those who persecute it, as we see in Revelation 6: 9 – 11,

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.

They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been”.

 And Revelation 20: 4,

“I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years”.

The second half of verse 10 is a little more harder to understand because it uses a strange poetic image to give us the message David wants to convey, it reads,

“When they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked”.

 Spurgeon explains this expression with these words,

“He shall triumph over them, they shall be so utterly vanquished that their overthrow shall be final, and his deliverance complete and crowning”.

 Maybe David’s picture here is that of an ancient battlefield where a victorious soldier could walk over the bloody area where the battle took place and realise that their great and powerful enemies were no more.

The joy of the final judgment of God over all evil and particularly the evil done against his faithful people is captured well in Revelation 19: 1 – 4,

“After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute
 who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” And again they shouted: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.” The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!”

  1. God’s people will be rewarded (vs. 11)

The final verse ends this Psalm on a very positive note as it speaks of the rewards for those who have accepted God’s gift of forgiveness who David calls, “The Righteous”.

“Then men will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth”.

Paul made it clear in Romans 6: 23 what sin brings to all of us,

“For the wages of sin is death”

But he goes on to say,

“But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

We have this gift of eternal life by faith in this life but at the end this gift which is God’s great reward for our faith in his son will be clear to everyone, including those who have rejected God’s gift of forgiveness. As we read in the book of revelation, like Revelation 1: 7,

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pieced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen”

And, Revelation 19: 6 – 9,

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, 
and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

Those who sinned or rebelled against God and sought to avoid coming to terms with him by simply denying his existence will be overcome with awe and reverence for the God they refused to believe in when Jesus returns. As Paul writes in Philippians 2: 9 – 11,

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

I close this last section with the wise words of C.H Spurgeon when he writes,

“Two things will come out clearly after all – there is a God and there is a reward for the righteous. Time will remove doubts, solve difficulties, and reveal secrets; meanwhile faith’s foreseeing eye discerns the truth even now, and is glad thereat”.

I close as I usually do with a poem and a prayer:

 

FAITHS REWARD

Sin did enter into man

When first he looked away

And now its true of every one

That sin now holds the sway.

Our Rulers rule with sinful hearts

Our world is filled with hate

Our lives are lived in a fallen world

And God’s judgment is our fate.

 

Chorus:

Turn to Christ who rules on high

For he has given us

The gift of forgiveness

When he died upon the cross.

He saved us!

 

Sin is deep within our souls

We sin from when we’re born

It poisons all the things we do

It leaves our world so torn.

We don’t seem to heed God’s call

We go our way each day.

We’ll face the lord on Judgment day

And for our sins we’ll pay.

 

Chorus:

Turn to Christ who rules on high

For he has given us

The gift of forgiveness

When he died upon the cross.

He saved us!

 

Sin causes God to act

In judgment he will come.

God will shut the mouths of those

Who stand against his Son.

They’ll vanish like a river flow

They’ll simply fall away

They’ll wish that they were not born

On God’s great judgment day.

 

Chorus:

Turn to Christ who rules on high

For he has given us

The gift of forgiveness

When he died upon the cross.

He saved us!

 

Sin will lead to God’s judgment

When Christ comes again

But those who turn to him will rise

And see God’s judgment then.

The pain of those who suffered much

For following the Lord

Will turn to joy when Jesus comes

For- filling all his word.

 

Chorus:

Turn to Christ who rules on high

For he has given us

The gift of forgiveness

When he died upon the cross.

He saved us!

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

Dear Father in heaven I thank you for your gift of forgiveness for my many sins. I thank you for the sending of your Son from heaven to die for my sins on the cross. I pray that those who do not know you will have the opportunity to hear your saving Gospel message so that they can turn to you in repentance and faith and escape your coming judgment. In Jesus name I pray Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PSALM 57 TALK: GREAT IS GOD’S LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS

PSALM 57 TALK: GREAT IS GOD’S LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS

(The contrast between Gods love and faithfulness and mankind’s hate and unfaithfulness)

(How there are two ways to view life one is to seek revenge and justice the other is to find God’s love and faithfulness and promote forgiveness and love.)

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION           

A coupe of weeks ago I was leading the hymn singing in my church with three other people and we were singing that great old hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and the words struck me in a strange but powerful way. I went home from church and looked up the story behind the hymn and discovered that a man called Thomas O. Chisholm wrote it in 1923. Chisholm became a minister of a church at the age of thirty-six but had to give it away after one year owing to poor health that he suffered from for most of his life.

Chisholm left full time ministry and took on a job as a lowly insurance agent but always kept up his hobby of writing poetry and the lyrics of hymns. Chisolm wrote the words of “Great is thy faithfulness” inspired by the words of one of his most favored bible passages, Lamentations 3: 19 – 24, which the prophet Jeremiah wrote during the horror and catastrophe of the fall of Jerusalem. Jeremiah looked beyond the horror and terror around him to the infinite love and faithfulness of his God which he knew through the bible and through God’s direct inspiration to him and he wrote,

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.

I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind
 and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; 
 therefore I will wait for him.”

 The first verse of Chisholm great hymn reads:

“Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,

There is no shadow of turning with thee;

Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not;

As thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Great is they faithfulness

Great is they faithfulness

Morning by morning new mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

 Chisholm, although he suffered from ill health most of his life lived to the ripe old age of ninety- four and late in his life he was asked why he wrote, “Great is thy Faithfulness”?

And this is what he said,

“My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now.  Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”


I wrote to a close relative recently who was complaining bitterly about a recent injustice in her life and I said, “There are two ways at looking at life, one is the glass half empty and the other is the glass is half filled”. Thomas A. Chisolm and the Old Testament King, poet and song- writer David were two men who looked at the glass half filled.

What was their secret?

Psalm 57 gives us the answer and you will be very surprised by what it has to say.

Psalm 56 and 57 are very similar in many ways but also very different. Psalm 56 and 57 open with the same words, “have mercy on me”, they both describe the nature and intent of David’s enemies, they both feature the use of a refrain and they were both written by David when he was on the run from King Saul.

However they differ in that they were written from a different event in David’s life, Psalm 57, the Hebrew heading says it was written when David had fled from Saul into the cave and Psalm 56 was written when David was seized by the Philistines in Gath, they feature a different tune to be sung by, (Psalm 57, to the tune of “Do not Destroy” and Psalm 56, “The silent dove of distant places”) and Psalm 57 actually has a clear refrain and what I call another form of a refrain that points to the main idea of the Psalm.

I would like to focus now on the last of these two differences to explain the teaching theme and structure of my Psalm talk for Psalm 57.

The two refrains are:

  1. Verse’s 5 and 11, (the obvious refrain)

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over the earth”

  1. Verses 3b and 10, the other form of refrain that points to the main idea of the Psalm,

(3b) “God sends his love and his faithfulness”

and (10)

“For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies”.

The concept of “The Love and faithfulness” of God” is a theme that runs through the entire Psalm.

What purpose then is the obvious refrain in verses 5 and 11 if it is not the central idea of the Psalm?

This refrain is in fact the same words applied to two different people, namely, the ungodly or non- believer in verses 4 and 6 and the true believer in verses 1 to 3 and verses 7 – 10.

I will argue that David uses the first refrain in verse 5 as part of his description of his enemies he is speaking about in verses 3a and verses 4 – 6.

David then uses these same words as his praise for the God who he knows as a God of love and faithfulness.

What then was the occasion for this Psalm?

David’s run from the evil intent of Saul led him to two caves, the first in a place called Adullam in 1 Samuel 22: 1 -2 and the second a few years later recorded in 1 Samuel 24 where David is hiding in a cave in the desert area of “En Gedi” and Saul enters to go to the toilet. Here David spares the life of Saul and cuts off a small piece of his clothing.

The first cave story fits well with Psalm 56 because it is the event that follows the event that inspired Psalm 56. The second story fits better because it could help explain the name of David’s tune called, “Do not destroy”. It is in the cave in the desert of “En Gadi” that David decides not to kill his enemy, Saul, which could easily be described by the words, “Do not destroy”.

I am not convinced on either but lean towards the second because it also helps explain some aspects of the teaching of the Psalm namely, “The Love and faithfulness of God”.

The other answer is David left the explanation of the situation vague enough so we can think of both situations when he and other people are singing the Psalm and when people like us are studying it.

My layout of this Psalm is then:

 

  1. THE LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS OF GOD (1 – 3)
  1. THE HATRED AND UNFAITHFULNESS OF MANKIND (3B AND 4 – 6)
  1. THE RIGHT WAY TO RESPOND TO THE LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS OF GOD (7 – 11)

 

  1. THE LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS OF GOD (1 – 3)

I have also realized from my study of this Psalm that each section answers 3 important questions about God’s love and faithfulness. This first section answers the question:

Why is our God a God of love and faithfulness?

The answer to this question is threefold:

  1. God shows us his mercy (or love) in saving us (1a and 3)
  2. God helps us and protects us as he promises to (1b)
  3. God hears our prayers and cries for help as he promises to (2)

 

  1. God shows us his mercy (or love) in saving us (1a and 3)

The opening words of this Psalm read like a desperate cry for help,

“Have mercy on me, O God have mercy on me for in you my soul takes refuge” (verse 1a)

Many commentators point out that the Hebrew word for “Mercy” here is the Hebrew word, “hanan” which means something like to show favor or for God to be gracious to David in his desperate situation. David knew he did not deserve God’s love and mercy but he knew his God was a God of mercy and love, as Spurgeon aptly points our,

God is the God of mercy, and the father of mercies, it is most fit therefore that in distress he (David) should seek mercy from him in whom it dwells”

Was David in the bowls of the cave at Adullam or “En Gedi” when he spoke these words in prayer to God?

We are not told but when David was in both caves recorded in 1 Samuel he was in great mortal danger. In the cave of Adullam he had just narrowly escaped a possible trap in the Philistine city of Gath and Saul was still hot on his trail. In the cave in En Gedi deseet his deadly enemy had entered the very cave he was hiding in. Saul was not entering the cave to look for David but to relieve himself however it would not take much for David to be discovered in the back of the cave with his men.

David needed God’s saving power and help and even though he often did not deserve it all through his life God saved David out of some very difficult situations.

David recognizes this in the next part of verse one when he writes,

‘For in you my soul takes refuge”

The sad reality of life is we all need God’s saving power in our lives but most people do not realize it. I remember sitting around with other Christian’s planning evangelistic campaign’s and someone always seemed to say,

“What we need first of all is the ability to make people realize they need to be saved”

The reality is people think they do not need God or any help outside of themselves and in fact they want to be in control of their lives, which is something we will look more closely at in the next section of the Psalm.

I know of many people who have come to the Lord because life’s circumstances have meant they could not turn to anyone else to help them.

In a recent Psalm talk I spoke of the saying:

“There are no atheists in foxholes or no atheists in the trenches of war”.

I said this was not a completely true saying as I’m sure many of the men and women in battle zones over the century’s remained true to their original conviction about if there is a God or not. However I’m sure that many men in battle have turned to God in prayer as they faced what seemed at the time certain death. They might have asked God to save them but once they got through the battle they showed no signs of true faith in God.

However there has been those who had heard the Christian Gospel message at some stage of their lives and in the heat of the foxhole or trench have finally surrendered there lives to the Lordship of Christ.

David went into the cave a believer in the love and faithfulness of his God and he walked out of that cave with a stronger experiential knowledge of that great truth. When we come through a trial in life trusting in God our faith will always get stronger.

He makes this clear by what he says in verse 3,

“He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me: God sends his love and his faithfulness”.

David knew his God was a God of love and faithfulness because in the past his God had intervened in history to save his people or nation and throughout his life he had experienced God’s intervention in salvation of his life and the life of his nation as well.

God to him was certainly a saving God who saved not because he deserved that salvation but simply because his God is a,

God (who) sends his love and faithfulness”.

Even though David’s salvation by God in the context of Psalm 57 background was a physical salvation the same point can be applied to our spiritual salvation in Christ.

We know that our God is God of Love and faithfulness in that we are saved from death to life by the cross of Christ. As Paul wrote in Romans 5: 8,

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us”.

Paul goes on to make it clear he is talking about our salvation in the next two verses,

“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life”.

  1. God helps us and protects us as he promises to (1b)

The next way this first section reveals why our God is a God of love and faithfulness is in the words of David in the second part of verse 1,

“I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed”.

David has already indicated he had taken refuge in God when he was in the cave and facing what seemed certain death. He makes it clear in the second part of this verse that God not only saved him from death when he was in the cave but also God gave him constant protection and help through his love and faithfulness.
God is faithful is the theme of Thomas A. Chisholm great hymn, Great is your Faithfulness and his refrain says,

“Morning by morning new mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me”.

 David knew he could rely on God’s protection because he believed that God had chosen his nation to be his special people that they would always know the love and protection of their God if they were faithful to their God. As Moses declared in Deuteronomy 7: 9,

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments”.

Over and over again David speaks of his God being his refuge, rock, fortress and deliverer as he declares for instance in Psalm 18: 2,

 

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer: my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”.

David says things like this because of his experience of his faith in the God of the bible that he trusted in when he faced difficult situations in his life as the next verse of Psalm 18 says,

 

“I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”

 

David uses the concept or image of a bird again to make his point. Interestingly we have seen the use of the image of a bird in recent Psalms.

 

Like Psalm 55: 6,

 

“I said, ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and stay in the desert”

Now David is not the bird but God is the bird who David takes refuge in the shadow of his wings. The image is of a little chick pulling close to its mother and being covered by the warm protection of the mother’s wings.

 

I refer to my Psalm talk on Psalm 11 for a more detailed look at the image of God being like a mother bird protecting his people like a bird protecting his young.

 

In that talk I also refer to the amazing words of Isaiah 40: 28 – 31 where the image of God’s wings is used in another way to show how he guides and protects us,

 

 

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.

This concept of stepping out in faith and soaring for God in his service could be the sort of thing David has in mind when he says,

‘Until the disaster has passed”

David found protection and help from God but this did not mean he sought to be constantly wrapped in cotton wool but once God had saved him from the difficult situation he wanted to continue stepping out in faith in his everyday life.

Some commentators also refer to Jesus words about Jerusalem in Matthew 23: 37,

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing”.

Here Jesus is saying if we would only be faithful to God we would know his love and protection like a chick under the wings of its mother.

The third verse of Thomas A. Chisholm hymn “Great is thy Faithfulness says,

“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,

Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside”.

 

So we know our God as a God of love and faithfulness because of his promise of his protection and help in our daily lives. I leave the words on this to Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2: 2 – 3,

“And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one”.

  1. God hears our prayers and cries for help as he promises to (2)

The third reason why David believed his God was a God of love and faithfulness is in verse 2,

“I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me;”

When David was in the hole in the ground or the cave he could only but trust in God as he humanly speaking was at the mercy of Saul and his far superior forces. This is especially true if this Psalm was written with the cave in the desert area of “En Gedi” is in mind for here David was trapped in the back of the cave with his men and Saul was near the entrance with his. Of course Saul had no idea David was at the back of the cave and David and his men certainly kept quiet as Saul entered the cave.

The story goes in 1 Samuel 24 like this in verses 3 – 7,

 “He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. The men said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’”

Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way”.

From Psalm 57 then we realize that as David and his men were in that cave he was praying a desperate prayer for God’s mercy to save him from the hands of Saul. Then as Saul enters the cave and David goes unnoticed David’s men realize that God had delivered David’s enemy into his hands. This is why David says,

“He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me”.

David’s desperate prayer had been answered and the tables seemed tuned and now David could so easily have rid himself of his enemy who was so set on killing him. Yet even as David cuts a small piece of cloth from Saul’s robe he becomes conscience – stricken for doing such a dishonorable thing to the one he called “The Lords anointed”.

David goes on to pray for justice to come upon his enemies but this justice he clearly sees must not come from his hands but from the hand of God.

Some might say that all the narrow escapes David had from Saul on his eight to nine years of being on the run from him were a matter of good luck. However David would not have seen it that way. He sees all his narrow escapes as God intervening on his behalf and as an answer to his prayers and cries for help.

In verse 2 he uses another strange expression namely,

“Who fulfills his purpose for me”.

It would seem that David realized even when he was on the run that God had a clear plan and purpose for him. Yes, at the time of David being in that cave, Saul was the Lords anointed King and must be respected and obeyed but David also realized that Saul’s days as king were numbered and his destiny was to become the Lord’s Anointed king of Israel.

The concept that God has a plan for our lives is a teaching that runs right through the bible and the best example of this teaching for us as Christians can be found in Romans 8: 28 – 30,

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified”.

We too can have confidence in prayer if we are praying according to the expressed will of God namely his plan and purpose for our lives. This is what the apostle John wrote about in 1 John 5: 14 – 15,

 

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him”.

So we can see that every time we like David see a answer to our prayers that this is yet another proof that,

“God sends (us) his love and his faithfulness”

The second verse of Thomas A. Chisholm hymn “Great is thy Faithfulness says,

“Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,

Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,

Join with all nature in manifold witness

To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

2.THE HATRED AND UNFAITHFULNESS OF MANKIND (3B AND 4 – 6)

I believe the second section of this Psalm answers the question:

Why is mankind so full of hate and unfaithfulness?

I was reminded recently of the sinful bias of mankind when I heard of the senseless deaths of 100 Pakistanis in an army school in Pakistan at the hands of a band of mad Taliban terrorists. Most of the people killed in the school were innocent children who were simply at school. The reason given for these senseless deaths were simply revenge as the Taliban terrorist was reacting to deaths in their village at the hands of the Pakistani army.

We in the west cannot simply throw rocks at terrorists seeking revenge when our hearts are motivated by the same hateful unfaithfulness. This became clear to me when I thought about a recent highly rating T.V. show called “Revenge”. The whole show is apparently set around the fictional character called Amanda Clarke and Wikipedia says,

“The show focuses on Amanda’s plot to destroy every individual who played a role in her father’s imprisonment”.

Apparently her father was falsely imprisoned for treason and killed in prison by the people who framed him. My question simply is,

Would people watch a show called “Forgiveness”?

I doubt it as so many T.V shows, movies and the nightly news reports tell the story of the hateful revenge of people who would consider forgiveness as the week and morally bankrupt choice in life.

David sets down in the middle section a description of his enemies, who in the case of Psalm 57 is King Saul and his men. This section has three parts:

  1. Mankind’s hearts are sinful and rebellious (vs. 4)
  2. The God you oppose is the Lord of heaven and earth (vs. 5)
  3. Mankind is set on brining down God and his followers (vs. 6)

 

  1. Mankind’s hearts are sinful and rebellious (vs.4)

David now describes his enemies with these words in verse 4A,

“I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts –

This description of his enemies is in complete contrast to the description of God in the last section as a God of love and faithfulness.

David’s enemies are described as being like untamed wild animals, “Lions” and “Ravenous beasts”. Spurgeon makes the point that the cave David found himself trapped in probably reminded him of being in a lions den. Maybe the reference to lying among ravenous beasts is inspired by David lying at the back of the cave when Saul was in the front of it relieving himself.

The image of his enemies being like wild beasts is a sad but true picture of not only King Saul madly seeking to kill the innocent and even faithful David but also an apt picture of mankind in general.

In the early chapters of Romans Paul sets down the nature and results of sin in the human heart and this is described as rebellion. Paul speaks of this rebellion to the rule of God in Romans 1: 18 – 21,

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened”.

Paul goes on to say that God gave mankind over to their rebellion and mankind has suffered the tragic consequences of that as he spells out in Romans 1: 28 –32,

“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them”.

It as though people have become like wild animals no long living as God designed us to but living like wild animals showing little love and faithfulness in our dealings with others in our lives.

David faced the fallout of Saul’s fall from God, Saul’s rebellion of the rule of God in his life and that led to Saul becoming like a wild and irrational animal intent on devouring David if he could lay his hands on him.

Spurgeon also makes an interesting comment on David’s words,

“Men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords”. (4b)

“Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Malicious men carry a whole armory in their mouths; they have not harmless mouths, whose teeth grind their food in a mill, but their jaws are as mischievous as if every tooth were a javelin or an arrow”.

The description then of David’s enemies is in such contrast to the beautiful description of God in the previous section.

God’s nature is to love while mankind’s nature is to hate and kill. God offers mercy while mankind offers revenge. God is faithful and can be relied upon while mankind is unfaithful only seeks to devour and destroy.

As Christians we need to keep this in mind when living in this world and be careful to act and speak like the God we say we believe in and not like the prevailing Godless actions and speech of those who do not know God and who refuse to believe in him. As Peter tells his readers to do in 1 Peter 1: 13 – 19,

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect”.

  1. The God you oppose is the Lord of heaven and earth (vs. 5)

I come then to my controversial interpretation of verse 5 which I see not as the end of the first section of this Psalm but part of a middle section, which deals with a description of the enemies of God.

The words of the refrain verses are used twice in this Psalm, here as a description of the God the Godless men are rebelling against and in verse 11 as an expression of David’s praise of that same God he sought to serve.

It is as though David is saying you ravenous wild animals who seek my life need to consider who you are dealing with when you act this way. So David describes whom they are rebelling against with the words of verse 5. David sets down his description of his God as a short and beautiful word of praise.

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth”.

Coffman writes,

“The thought here is not that God might do something whereby he would become exalted, but that God already deserves to be exalted for what he has already done”.

Saul had turned away from obeying God because he thought he knew better than God and once he knew he was wrong he sought to cover it up with a smoke screen of reliance on God by calling the prophet Samuel in to legitimize his actions.

We read of King Saul’s rebellion in 1 Samuel 13. This initial turning away from God led Saul into the depths of rebellion against God and it was this rebellion that led Saul to his jealous and wild rage against David who God chose to replace him.

This God who Saul was now in conflict with was non other than the God who sits above the heavens and whose glory covers the earth. He is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings and if he is not praised like David is doing in his refrain then there are serious consequences. As the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 10: 31,

“It is a dreadful (or fearful) thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.           

David is saying here you cannot appose the God of Heaven and earth and if you seek to oppose him there will be serious consequences, as the next verse will spell out.

The story of Saul’s fall from God’s service should serve as a warning to all as Saul’s impatience that led to his disobedience described in 1 Samuel 13 seems like a mistake we often make in our Christian lives today. What seems to be missing from Saul’s reaction to his sin’s revealed by the prophet Samuel is repentance and faith. Interesting when we compare David’s reaction to the revelation of the prophet Nathan of his great sins we see David responding in the right way with true repentance and faith.

We can have confidence that we will find forgiveness with God when we do sin by the words of the Apostle John in 1 John 1: 9 – 10,

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us”.

  1. Mankind is set on brining down God and his followers (vs. 6)

After David reminds his enemies whom they are rebelling against he continues to speak to describe his enemies this time by speaking of what they are seeking to do to him.

We read these words in verse 6

“They spread a net for my feet – I was bowed down in distress. They dug a pit in my path”.

The image here is the setting of traps to trip up David so that he would fall flat on his face in defeat. We know from the text of 1 Samuel that Saul continually sought to capture David so that he could kill him and maybe in his mind save the Kingdom of Israel for himself and his descendants. Stories of rivals to the thrones of Kings and Queens are riddled throughout history and are but further evidence to the hatred unfaithfulness of mankind.

However in David’s case he did not actively seek to over throw Saul as king. We see this clearly in the story of David in the cave when Saul entered it to relieve himself. Here David had the perfect opportunity to destroy King Saul and take over his throne but David resisted this and claimed loyalty to the one he called the anointed king of Israel.

The final words of verse 6 read,

“But they have fallen into it themselves”

The story of David in the cave in the desert of “En Gedi” is a great example of how Saul fell into his own trap as he was seeking to close in on David in that desert but instead of capturing David he could have easily been caught by David in a trap himself.

The mad jealous rage that inspired Saul is the same motivation for the great opposition we see even today to God and those who seek to follow him. This expresses itself in a variety of ways and can be subtle or more overt like the whole scale slaughter or imprisonment of Christians as seen today in places like Iraq and North Korea. There are over 50 countries today where Christians are openly and severely persecuted.

Christians represent the truth of God on earth and therefore they are a bad smell in the nostrils of those who like Saul are in rebellion to God or a sweet smell in the nostrils of those who are being saved. Paul speaks of how we are either a good or bad smell in 2 Corinthians 2: 14 – 16,

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life”.

So the hate and unfaithfulness of mankind leads to opposition to those who seek to love and serve their Lord.

The apostle John sums up the role of love and faithfulness for the Christian and its effect on the world in 1 John 3: 11 – 16,

“For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters”.

So like David we might face opposition from others because we trust in the God of heaven and earth who is both loving and faithful but even if we do we must realize that love is both the message and power of the Christian Gospel and without it no one is saved from death to life.

Finally what will happen to those who oppose God and his followers?

Words in verse 3 tells us the answer to this question,

“He sends from heaven and saves me; rebuking those who hotly pursue me”.

So God saves his followers but rebukes those who attack them. This is yet another expression of the judgment of God coming sometimes in this life but certainly in the great Day of Judgment to come.

Even before the final Day of Judgment God’s displeasure of those who attack his faithful people is clear. In David’s case the life of his pursuer, King Saul went from bad to worse ending in his violent death at his own hands as he faced certain death at the hands of the Philistines.

So for a time the enemies of Christians might seem victorious over them but eventually God will rebuke those who persecute his faithful followers. Even during persecution or difficult times in our lives we can trust in the love and faithfulness of God to help us come through victorious these times of testing and pain. As Paul makes this clear when speaking about the difficulties caused by temptations in 1 Corinthians 10: 13,

“No temptation has sieved you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it”.

3.THE RIGHT WAY TO RESPOND TO THE LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS OF GOD (7 – 11)

Having dealt with the hated and unfaithfulness of his enemies David now returns to his original thoughts on the love and faithfulness of His God and he now seeks to answer the question:

 

How does God want us to respond to the love and faithfulness of God?

 

David supplies three responses we should make in answer to God’s love and faithfulness in this section and they are:

 

  1. Be faithful to God (7a)
  2. Worship God (7b – 9)
  3. Recognize God as the Lord of heaven and earth (11)

I will now look at these three responses to God’s great love and faithfulness and then finish with a final look at God’s great love and faithfulness expressed by David in verse 10.

 

  1. Be faithful to God (7a)

 

What God primarily desires from us in response to his great love and faithfulness is simply our heartfelt love and faithfulness to him. This is what David expresses in verse 7a,

 

“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast”.

David had experienced yet another miraculous escape from the evil clutches of Saul and realized yet again God had treated him with great love and faithfulness and so he now prays a prayer of praise in which he tells God what he intends to now do.

The word “steadfast” is another word for faithful. It is translated by different versions of the bible as, King James version, “Fixed”, New living Translation, “Confident” and International Standard version, “Committed”. So God wants from our hearts our honest and committed faithfulness.

 

Inspired by what God has done for us in his acts of love and faithfulness should lead to an attitude of love and faithfulness in us. In Matthew 22: 36, Jesus was asked by a Jewish expert of the Law, “which is the greatest commandment in the law?”

 

Jesus answer is found in verses 37 – 40,

 

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 

This is what Jesus said God wants from us but of course in our sinful fallen state of hatred and unfaithfulness we cannot do it. However the bible teaches that we can only love God because he first loved us.

 

The apostle John taught this in his first letter written to counter heretical teaching of his day. In the passage that followers the one I quoted in the last section, 1 John 3: 16 – 19, he spells out how we can love God,

 

 “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us”.

So the first response we should have for the love and faithfulness God has for us is our love and faithfulness to him.

 

  1. Worship God (7b – 9)

The second response of David to the love and faithfulness of God which he experienced in his narrow escape from the clutches of his enemy King Saul is resolve to worship God in the best way he knew how to. For David this meant singing and making music as he says in 7b

 

“I will sing and make music”.

 

 

 

There has been many weird and sadly misguided Christians in the past and present times who have been anti – music but these Christians have somehow failed to see the bible teaching on the use of music in the meeting of Christians both to worship God and to edify those who are involved in it. Paul teaches a right use of music in corporate Christian gatherings in Ephesians 5: 18 – 20,

 

 “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

In the next verse of Psalm 57 David seems to rouse himself to get going in worship using music,

 

“Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn”.

This seems to be a strange thing to say, speaking to his harp and lyre to wake up like they are living beings. However we must remember David is writing poetry and the image he is seeking to convey is best describe for me by Spurgeon when he writes,

 

Let all the music with which I am familiar be well attuned for the hallowed service of praise. I myself will awake early. I will awake the dawn with my joyous notes. No sleepy verses and weary notes shall be heard from me; I will thoroughly arouse myself for this high employ”.

Sometimes we give God our second best or even worse when we come together in worship of our God. David wanted to give his best and finest music to the Lord in worship of him who loved him so much.

 

Dreary and emotionless worship just does not figure in the mind of David as he wants to wake everyone up with praise and song. I have attended highly emotionally charged worship services and sadly felt let down because the people around me have been shallow in their faith. On the other hand I have attended dead and emotionless worship services as well that equally have left me let down and disappointed. We need to give God our best music, our best thoughts, our best attitudes and our best emotions when we worship him.

 

Paul spoke of the principles of worship of God inspired and directed by the Gospel message in Romans 12: 1 and 2 and wrote,

 

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”.

So much of our modern worship is dominated by shallow worship practices that fail to plumb the depths of God through his word.

Our music can also lack solid theological thought at the expense of sounding good as the pattern of this world often determines.

David’s worship and praise was in no way shallow as we can see from verse 9 which says,

“I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples”.

David wants the whole world to know about his God and particularly about how his God is a God of love and faithfulness as the next refrain verse expresses so well,

“For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches the skies”.

Leopold points out that David could not be taken literally here as he had no chance in his day of travelling the world and singing God’s praise to every nation. Leopold explains the two things David meant by this,

“1. The praise deserves to be known among the nations.

And 2. Wherever an opportunity presented itself in his contacts with the nations or their representatives David was not slow in attributing his deliverances to the faithful God of Israel”.

For us world wide travel is not hard and is quite affordable and I can say that I have had the opportunity of praising God among many nations of the earth and have even sang his praises to many peoples of the world today and for this I give thanks and praise to God who alone has made this possible.

It has also been a joy to sit or stand with people singing God’s praises in their native tongues and sensing the wonderful bond of cross cultural Christian fellowship and unity.

Our God deserves our praise indeed and we must take every opportunity do join with other like minded believers and put David’s words on world wide worship and praise in to practice. However we must always seek to keep the central message and theme of that praise, namely the love and faithfulness of our God as we see him in his revealed word and through our wonderful experience of him in our every day lives.

Paul both practiced and promoted this fellowship of praise as you can see in his word to the early Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 1: 4 – 9,

“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”.

  1. Recognise God as the Lord of heaven and earth (11)

 

Besides the great message of God’s great love and faithfulness the number one message we should be presenting to the world is the Lordship of God in Christ.

 

David lived 700 years before Christ so his message was simply the Lordship of God as expressed in verse 11, the last verse of the Psalm and the second time this refrain is used in the Psalm.

 

It reads,

 

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over the earth”.

In the last use of this refrain I suggested it was aimed at David’s enemies as a description of the God they are rebellion against but here it is an expression of the God he believes in who has saved him from certain death from those enemies.

 

David is telling us in this use of the refrain that his God is the Lord or King of heaven and earth and we can see his glory in all the earth.

 

This is yet another right way of responding to the love and faithfulness of God and in the New Testament the Lordship of Christ is central to being saved by him and therefore in being part of his Kingdom. As Paul states in Romans 10: 9 – 13,

 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame. For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

 CONCLUSION – THE GREAT LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS OF GOD

 

So David has seen his God save him out of the cave of Adullam and the cave in the desert of “En Gadi”. David’s escapes from both of these two death traps happened because of God’s great love and faithfulness. David makes this clear twice in this Psalm and the second expression of this is verse 10,

 

“For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies”.

 This has been David’s inspired theme of this Psalm. A teaching that states truths about God that no other religion has dared to declare. This is a theme seen even clearer and stronger in the New Testament where we learn that God sent his Son into this world to show us his love and faithfulness through his death on the cross.

 

Paul lived and breathed this great message and even as he neared the end of his life and ministry on this earth he wrote to his younger prodigy Timothy and in his last letter to Timothy he wrote these words in 2 Timothy 2: 8 – 13,

 

“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal.

But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

 Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him,

We will also live with him;
 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,

For he cannot disown himself”.

 So I return to my opening thoughts about Thomas O. Chisholm great hymn “Great is thy Faithfulness” which I will quote as a excellent summary of what this Psalm has taught me,

 

Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
as Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

I close with my own poem and a prayer as well.

 

GOD’S LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS

Trust in God’s love and faithfulness

Because of Jesus Christ

Who came to earth to die for us

And rise to give us life.

No matter what life brings us

Be sure to realise

That Christ is right beside us

To help us in our lives.

 

 

Have mercy Lord on all of us

Keep us safe Oh Lord.

For Satan’s forces seek our souls

Remind us of your word.

Help us shelter beneath your wings

When Satan’s forces come.

God has promised love to us

Salvation through his Son.

 

 

 

I cry to God for help from him

I know he hears my prayers

I know he sends his help to us

He always knows and cares

He saved us by his amazing grace

By sending Christ to die

All we have to do is trust

And love will raise us high.

 

 

My heart is steadfast trusting God

Who gives us all his love.

And I will sing of what his done

And raise his name above.

I’ll go into this world and praise

God’s love and faithfulness.

Join the fellowship of praise

Proclaiming God’s the best.

 

 

PRAYER:

 I thank you Heavenly father for your great love and faithfulness that can be clearly seen in the sending of your son to die for us. Thank you that we can always trust in you because of your love and faithfulness for us. Help us to realise that when trouble comes in this life you are with us to help us with your love and faithfulness. Help us to show and tell this world how wonderful your love is and may we sing your praises joining with others who acknowledge you as the Lord of all and the God of love and faithfulness. In Jesus name we pray Amen.