PSALM 85 TALK: GOD’S LOVING KISS OF LIFE

PSALM 85 TALK: GOD’S LOVING KISS OF LIFE

 (A Psalm that explores the concept of mankind’s need to be brought back to life spiritual as we are all dead in our sins and far away from God not knowing him. However God wants to spiritually resuscitate us with his love which is like the kiss of life reviving us through the coming of Jesus to this world to save us from our sins)

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INTRODUCTION

 Mouth to mouth resuscitation is also know as, “The kiss of Life” and this has been used to bring many people back from death on many occasions over many years. When I was only 18 I had come home one afternoon from a job interview in the city and was lying down to rest when I was awakened by the loud screams of my mum. I rushed outside to find my mum in our backyard swimming pool holding aloft the lifeless body of my dear four-year-old younger sister.

I took my sister from my mother’s arms and placed her on the lawn next to the pool and then ran across the road for help from a neighbor. My neighbor screamed at me to get back to my sister and help her as she was calling for an ambulance. I ran back and pulled my sisters head back to clear the airways and began breathing into her mouth. I noticed almost straight away a strange gurgling sound coming from her and then the local doctor, who lived just up the road, arrived and pushed me away and turned my sisters head to the side and she coughed up water and started to breath.

The ambulance soon arrived and took my little sister to hospital and she fully recovered with no ill effects of her near fatal drowning. I had played a role in saving my little sisters life and its was my basic training in water life saving techniques I had at school that was instrumental in my ability to give my little sister the kiss of life.

The kiss of life is a very vivid picture of what God has done for us spiritually. The bible teaches that we are all dead in our trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2: 1,

“You were dead in your transgressions and sins”

However Ephesians 2: 4 and 5 says,

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved”.

Psalm 85 verse 10, says,

“Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other”.

This verse is speaking of God’s promise of future revival or restoration or resuscitation of his people from God’s judgment for their many sins if they repent or turn away from the folly of sin and fear God, put him first in their lives as verses 8 and 9 declare.

Many commentators believe that Psalm 85 was written around 20 to 40 years after the Jewish return from exile in Babylon. This because of three interesting hints this Psalm gives us.

  1. The first is the fact that verses 1 to 3 speak of a recent and great act of God restoring his people when he turned away from his wrath against their many sins. This kind of spiritual and national restoration took place in a great way when the God freed the Jews from their Babylonian exile around 538BC.
  1. The second interesting hint is that after verses 1 to 3 the Psalm seems to suggest in verses 4 – 7 that again God’s people needed desperately God’s restoration owing to God’s anger or wrath again caused by the people’s sin. The books of Nehemiah and Haggai written around twenty years after the Jews returned from their Babylonian exile speak of the people falling back into sin and they had failed to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and the Temple as well. Haggai 1: 5 and 6 says,

“Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

  1. The third and final clue is in 12, which seems to speak of a drought in the

land at the time of the writing of this Psalm,

“The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest”.

 Haggai 1: 9 – 11, speaks of God sending a drought on the land of his people because of their sins in looking after themselves first and not worshipping God and building his house, the Temple again,

         “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought  

          home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my

          house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.

           10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the

          earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the

          grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on

           people and livestock, and on all the labour of your hands.”

 So after the Jewish people had suffered the national disaster of 70 long years in exile for not looking to God in their lives and worshipping only him they suffered yet another national disaster with a terrible drought striking the land.

The prophet Zechariah also operated at this time and he too spoke of the peoples return to sin in his prophecy from God. Zechariah 1: 2 – 4 reads,

“The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty. Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord”.

So twenty to forty years after the Jews returned from exile offers us a perfect background to this Psalm and Leopold says this about this time frame,

“Could fit with more than average propriety”.

This Psalms Hebrew heading says that this Psalm was written by the Sons of Korah, who we have seen in other Psalms were a Levite family group of Temple singers and musicians whose descendants seem to stretch through Israel’s history from the time of David up to the dedication of the Temple in Ezra’s time. Ezra also ministered around the time of the return from exile of the Jews.

With the theme of God’s restoration or resuscitation in mind my breakdown for this Psalm is:

  1. 1 – 3 GOD’S FORMER ACTS OF SPIRITUAL RESUSCITATION
  1. 1 – 2 The restored fortunes of Israel
  2. 3       God turned away from his anger
  1. 4 – 7 A CALL FOR RENEWED SPIRITUAL RESUSCITATION
  2. 4 – 6 A prayer for spiritual resuscitation
  3. 7       The prayer for spiritual resuscitation is based on God’s love
  1. 8 – 13 GOD’S PROMISE OF SPIRITUAL RESUSCITATION
  1. 8 – 9   The requirements for God’s spiritual resuscitation
  2. 10 – 11 God’s loving kiss of life
  3. 12 – 13 God’s loving resuscitation results

So I will now explore this Psalm with the idea of God restoring his people as a kind of resuscitation of the nation of Israel from spiritual and national death more than likely somewhere between 20 and 40 years after the return from Babylonian exile.

  1. 1 – 3 GOD’S FORMER ACTS OF SPIRITUAL RESUSCITATION

I have broken this first part into two parts:

  1. 1 – 2 The restored fortunes of Israel
  2. 3       God turned away from his anger

Lets then have a close look at the first part:

  1. 1 – 2 The restored fortunes of Israel

The Psalm opens with a clear description of the nations change of fortune and its incredible restoration at the hands of their God:

“You showed favor to you land O Lord; you restored the fortunes of Jacob”.

This first verse sets down what seems a recent great event when God did two things for his people, Israel:

  1. He showed favor to the land
  2. He restored the fortunes of his people

Lets have a close look at each of these:

  1. He showed favor to the land

The total land of Israel was devastated over period of 130 years and was overrun and destroyed by two devastating foreign invasions. The first invasion was in the northern kingdom by the Assyrians in 720BC and the second 133 years later when the Babylonians in 587BC overran the southern Kingdom.

These two massive invasions left the entire promised land of Israel in total ruin and in the North the people there were either killed or disbursed into captivity never to return to their home- land. The people of the southern kingdom were either killed or carried off into exile in Babylon. The Babylonian conquest techniques preserved the nations identity but took the land from them with the view of probably seeking to assimilate a nation into its own nation and culture by exile in their own land.

Both conquest techniques have advantages and disadvantages. The Assyrians resettled conquered lands with people taken from lands all over their conquered lands in an attempt to make new Assyrian cultural countries while the Babylonians sought to destroy national resistance through assimilation into Babylonian culture particularly in their own lands and in the conquered lands as well.

Both ruthless nations had the same aim to brutally destroy their enemies and kill off any possibility of resistance to their rule.

The land of Judah and particularly the ruined city of Jerusalem is described then around the year 445BC just before Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem in a report by Jews to Nehemiah in Nehemiah 1: 3,

“They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

So this means the land of Judah the southern kingdom of Israel was in a poor ruined state for over 90 to 100 years.

So Psalm 85 verse 1b says,

“You showed favor to your land O Lord”.

This favor or grace came in the form of the defeat of the Babylonians in 539BC by the Medes and Persian Empire and this new super power had a different conquered people policy and that was to let people stay or return to their lands and maintain their culture in an attempt to gain there co-operation within the Mede- Persian Empire.

We can see then that the hand of God’s favor or grace worked through the human workings of the non -believing nations governing policies of that time.

First he preserved the Nation of Israel’s identity in the exile policy of the Babylonians and then in their promised return from Babylon by the re-settlement policies of the new controlling super power the Mede’s and Persians.

Paul makes it clear in Romans 8: 28 that,

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.

The land of Israel seemed lost and even dead in that it lay in ruins for over 70 years but through God’s working of history and those involved in it at that time God brought the land of Israel back to life by leading his people back to settle it again.

  1. He restored the fortunes of his people

The land of course was only really restored when the people who God gave it to where restored or as I am applying in this Psalm, resuscitated. The people of Judah, as it seemed in ancient times were now dead in the sense that they were conquered by the Babylonians, lost their homeland and were captives in a far off foreign land but as we have just seen through God’s favour or grace, God,

“Restored the fortunes of Jacob”.

 Jacob is a favoured name for God’s people in the book of Psalms. The prophet Jeremiah foretold of this many years before in Jeremiah 29: 11 – 14,

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

 When a nation or even a person has no hope or little hope for the future then they often give up and many commit suicide because they have lost any sense of future hope. However Jeremiah is telling the Nation here God has a future for his people even though for a number of years that might not seem to be the case.

So after 70 years of captivity in Babylon, God restored the people or God resuscitated his dying nation to life again back in his promised land. Through a fortunate turn of historical events God made it possible for his people to return to the land of Israel where his people could prosper again.

Paul makes this clear, as I eluded to in the introduction in Ephesians chapter 2 the fact that everyone needs to come to Christ and acknowledge his death for our sins if they want to be spiritually resuscitated as Paul states in Ephesians 2: 1 – 6,

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”.

Note how badly off we are according to Paul without Christ and his love in our lives.

Also note the great inheritance we have in Christ as true believers,

“Raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”.

As true believers we have a homeland or God given place to look forward to, heaven with God is our great hope and this is because God has restored us spiritually in Christ. This is even clearer in the next verse of Psalm 85, verse 2 which says,

“You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins”.

The reason why God’s people were as good as dead as a nation for 70 years in Babylonian exile was because of the deep spiritual problem of sin. The many sins of God’s people led to God’s anger coming against them in judgment as the next verse will make clear. So for God’s people to go back to their land and for them to there regain their fortunes God had to forgive their many sins.

Many people have asked what is God’s problem with sin?

And why can’t he just simply over look it?

I found this interesting quote on the Internet by a man named Jeff Weddie that cuts to the heart of the answer to this question,

“Morality is us lining up with the character of God. God is the source of righteousness and morality. Sin isn’t just bad stuff, it’s a rebellion against who God is”.

 Israel knew how God wanted them to live and worship him as they had a clear revelation of God’s law. They were a special chosen nation who had a special job as Exodus 19: 3 – 6 declares,

“Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites”.

Israel also had a clear revelation of God, who he is and what he is like and as Weddie eludes to the God of the bible is a Holy God and is therefore as he put it, is the source of righteousness and morality.

So what sins did Israel commit”

For hundred of years God raised up prophets to warn the people of both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms that they were not following God’s laws and were not properly worshipping him and in fact were worshiping other God’s in ways that stood against the very nature of the God they claimed they were worshipping.

The prophet Jeremiah spells out Israel’s many sins particularly in chapters 2 and 3 and let me quote a significant part of that word of condemnation by quoting verses 4 – 8,

“Hear the word of the Lord, you descendants of Jacob, all you clans of Israel.

This is what the Lord says:” What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.they did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of Egypt
and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and ravines,
a land of drought and utter darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’
I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.the priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord? Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols”.

Note how they turned away from God who had done so much for them in saving them to worship worthless idols. This is the crux of sin, rebellion to God’s rule and it will and it must bring down God’s judgment for those who do this.

So God had to forgive a lot to let Israel return to Israel. He had to cover a lot of sin before he could resuscitate his people from the national near death of exile in Babylon.

Jesus has more than covered our sins as Peter points out in 1 Peter 2: 24,

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

Note how Peter tells us Jesus bore our sins, so we might die to sin and this has led to our spiritual healing.

  1. 3       God turned away from his anger

In the second part of this first section we have the amazing verse 3 which really spells out a recent or former act of spiritual resuscitation for the nation of Israel,

“You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger”.

I have already made it clear that the God of the bible is a Holy God and I quoted in the last section a man named Jeff Weddie who said that,

“God is the source of righteousness and morality”.

 Because of this his reaction to sin and indeed the terrible rebellious sins of Israel is anger or wrath. This is a concept modern minds find particularly repugnant and even recent Christians theologians have rejected even though the bible clearly presents, as this verse does that God does get angry and as this verse says, he gets fiercely angry with mankind’s sins.

In Frank Hasel’s excellent article on The Wrath of God he quotes a modern liberal theologian to capture this modern objection to the bibles teaching on the wrath of God,

“Helmer Ringgren has put it? Is “the notion of the affection of wrath on God” without any “religious worth for Christians?” Isn’t the idea of an angry and wrathful God a rather pre-Christian or even pagan concept that does not fit with the view of God that Jesus Christ has given us Himself?”

 Hasel goes to great lengths to show that modern theologians like Helmer Ringgren have got it all wrong and a central aspect of Hasel’s argument against this modern view of God’s wrath when they suggest that God’s Wrath is an Old Testament idea is,

“However, textual evidence in the New Testament argues strongly against any such view. Jesus,[Mark 3: 5, John 2: 13 – 17] John the Baptist,[Matth. 3: 7] Paul,[Romans 1: 18] and John in his Gospel[John 3: 36] and in Revelation[Rev. 6: 16] preach a gospel that includes the proclamation of the wrath of God. Nowhere does the New Testament replace God’s wrath with His love; instead, it views wrath as an essential and indispensable trait of God; it presents God not only as saving Lord but also as judge who brings with Him the judgment of His wrath. The good news of the Bible is not that there is no wrath of God, but that humankind is saved from wrath through faith in Jesus Christ: “But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom. 5:8, 9)”

 So it seems to reject the idea of wrath in the New Testament and the Christian Gospel is a direct result of either watering down the teaching of the New Testament or a result of not accepting the New Testament as God’s divine word to mankind.

So the recent return from Exile that this Psalm is obviously referring to is a wonderful demonstration of God setting aside his wrath or his turning away from his fierce anger which had originally caused the conquest of the land and the exiling of his people in Babylon.

God’s people were as the expression goes, “dead in the water” when they were locked up in exile in Babylon but like my drowning sister they were given the kiss of life and were resuscitated by God bringing them back to Israel as a nation again.

  1. 4 – 7 A CALL FOR RENEWED SPIRITUAL RESUSCITATION

From this positive looking back to a time of national resuscitation the writer speaks of the current people of Israel’s need for God’s restoration of resuscitation again. I have broken this section into two parts:

  1. 4 – 6 A prayer for spiritual resuscitation
  2. 7       The prayer for spiritual resuscitation is based on God’s love

Lets have a close look at these two parts, starting with part 1:

  1. 4 – 6 A prayer for spiritual resuscitation

This second section is a prayer for the current need of restoration or resuscitation that Israel needs yet again.

I have broken each of the three verses down to speak of the three aspects of this prayer requests:

  1. The call for resuscitation (vs. 4a)
  2. The reason why they need resuscitation again (4b – 5)
  3. The result of the people being resuscitated again (vs. 6)

Lets then have a closer look at each of these three parts of the prayer request:

  1. The call for resuscitation (vs. 4a)

“Restore us again, O God our Saviour”.

The opening word of verse 4 is “restore” which has a variety of translations, which include the terms like “Turn Us”, “Convert Us”, and even “Bring Us back”. All these terms suggest a crucial need for a big change in the current spiritual state of the psalm writer’s people at that time.

 The story of the people of God of the Old Testament is one of continual turning away from following God and how God causes his people to turn back to him through trials and difficulties. This demonstrates, I think, the need of all of humanity to require a Savior. A savior who can not only save us from our many sins but who can put a new heart in us that will help us to trust and obey God.

This is exactly what the Old Testament prophets foretold would come, like Ezekiel 36: 24 – 27,

“‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws”.

 Note how Ezekiel sees the fulfillment of this happening when God brings his people back from Babylonian exile but of course it took a further 400 years after that when God sent his Son Jesus into the world to die on the cross for our sins, rise from the dead three days later in victory over sin and death, ascend back to his father in heaven and then on the day of Pentecost send to the church and all true believers from that day on God’s Holy Spirit who would then empower us to live the way God wants us to live.

This sending of the Holy Spirit to all true believers is what Jesus is speaking about in John 16: 7 – 8,

But I tell you the truth: it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go. I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment”.

 So the coming of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of all true believers is the promise of resuscitation as Paul put it in Ephesians 2: 4 and 5,

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved”.

So God gives us the spiritual kiss of life through first saving us through the death of Christ and then through bringing us alive to him through his Holy Spirit working in our lives once we really believe in Jesus.

  1. The reason why they need resuscitation again (4b – 5)

Verse 4b and 5 then speak of why we need this kiss of life or resuscitation by God,

“And put away your displeasure towards us. Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations”.

 Our sin and indeed all everyone’s sins has it consequences. As I have already clearly said God is Holy or is the source of all righteousness and morality as Jeff Weedie put it. Therefore sin in the sight of God arouses his Holy anger or wrath and must be paid for. Paul makes it clear what the consequences of sin are in Romans 6: 23a

“For the wages of sin is death”.

 Wages is another word for consequences and in Old Testament terms for the nation of Israel this meant things like drought, famine or destruction caused by conquering enemies. Verse 12 of Psalm 85 seems to indicate that at the time of this Psalm being written God’s judgment of his people’s sins then was in the form of drought, which we saw the prophet, Haggai spoke of in Haggai chapter 1.

So the need for the land and the people’s restoration or resuscitation was in the form of a breaking of a terrible drought in the land. The writer of Psalm 85 in these two verses wants God to:

  1. Put away his anger
  2. Stop being angry with his peoples sins
  3. Not prolong his anger over a long period of time, expressed in verse 5 as “through all generations”.

Paul makes it clear why every man women and child needs to learn and know the wonderful message of the Gospel in Romans 1. In verse 18 he says,

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness”.

 He spells out the value and worth of the Gospel message in dealing with this wrath of God in verses 16 – 17,

“ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith”.

I quoted before the first half of Romans 6: 23, which said,

“For the wages of sin is death”.

But the second half of this verse gives us the hope that the Gospel message alone gives us,

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

 God wants to bring us back to life spiritually through the forgiveness of our sins through the death of Christ for us and then, when we turn to him and accept his loving forgiveness give us his life giving Holy Spirit. Which Romans 6: 23b also gives us not only new life now but eternal life in the future with God in heaven and this is all made possible because it comes to us as a loving gift from God.

  1. The result of the people being resuscitated again (vs. 6)

Verse 6 says clearly that this spiritual revival or resuscitation will have a powerful and wonderful effect on the people of his time,

“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?”

 The result or effects of this spiritual resuscitation would be the true praise and worship of the people expressed in the words,

“Rejoice in you”

 That is exactly the response God wants from those who he revives or spiritually resuscitates as Spurgeon points out,

“Joy in the Lord is the ripest fruit of grace, all revivals and renewals lead up to”.

 Paul spoke about this kind of response to God’s working in our lives in a number of his letters to the churches he wrote to. No better example of this in the fourth chapter of his letter to the church in Philippi. At the start of that chapter he reprimands two women in the church in Philippi who at the time of the writing of his letter were fighting. Paul to agree with each other and then in verse 4 says,

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice”.

 Argument and cranky words are not the character of a believer but Paul says it is joy and rejoicing that should characterize the Christian fellowship and indeed the Christian life. God has given us the kiss of life which we will see later leads to his peace and conflict and turmoil has no place in this new life he has for us which should be characterized by gratitude and praise to the God of love who has revived us.

  1. 7      The prayer for spiritual resuscitation is based on God’s love

Verse 7 naturally flows from what we have just read in verse 6 as verse 6 says that the right response of God’s work of spiritual resuscitation is rejoicing in what God has loving done for us and so it reads like this,

“Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation”.

 The writer of Psalm 85 indicates clearly in verse 7 that God’s restoration or resuscitation is based squarely on the Love of God. What he calls the, “unfailing love” of God n him granting his people his salvation.

David spoke and prayed like this on many occasions and I like David’s Psalm 57 which features the words, “Love and faithfulness”, like verse 3,

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

 Later in the Psalm David says in verses 9 and 10,

“I will praise you, O Lord among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches the skies”.

 David had experienced on many occasions in many ways the love and faithfulness of the God of the bible who he fully trusted in. The writer of this Psalm, Psalm 85 wants God to show to him and his people that love and faithfulness again in an act of Salvation for them.

As Christians, people who have experienced the love and faithfulness of God through his son Jesus Christ we have experienced God’s kiss of life, which is a kiss of love. Jesus has not only saved us from our sins but given us new life which Paul speak of so clearly in 2 Corinthians 5: 17,

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!”

Paul speaks clearly of how God did this in the next two verses of 2 Corinthians 5: 18 – 19,

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 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”.

This message we are to take to the world is God’s vehicles of resuscitation or reviving people in this world and Paul believes that all Christians are on a peaceful diplomatic mission of salvation to others in this world taking to them the life reviving and changing message of God’s reconciliation through Christ, verses 20 – 21,

“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. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”.

So ends the prayer for a renewed resuscitation of the people of the writers time who because of their sinfulness when they got back in the land and were established by God as his people again. But the people had stopped living for God and had failed to rebuild his temple living purely for their own self -interest. Now through a great drought in the land they once again needed God to revive or resuscitate them to life yet again.

3.   8 – 13 GOD’S PROMISE OF SPIRITUAL RESUSCITATION

Now that the prayer for spiritual resuscitation has been prayed the Psalm takes a final turn in tone and message.

Instead of a prayer we read in the final section of the Psalm what appears to be an answer by God to the prayer in the form of a prophecy of how God will react to this prayer.

I have divided this final third section into three distinct parts of two verses per part:

  1. 8 – 9   The requirements for God’s spiritual resuscitation
  2. 10 – 11 God’s loving kiss of life
  3. 12 – 13 God’s loving resuscitation results

Lets look a little closer at each of these three parts to God’s answer to the prayer for revival or resuscitation starting with part 1:

  1. 8 – 9   The requirements for God’s spiritual resuscitation

The first two verses of this first part of this final section of the Psalm set down very clearly God’s requirements for this spiritual and national resuscitation. Each verse addresses God’s requirements for this resuscitation from a different but similar angle, which is from a negative angle in verse 8, which is what not to do, and a positive angle in verse 9, which is what you must do. I have given each of these two verse’s the following titles:

  1. Don’t return to your sinful folly (vs. 8)
  2. Fear God (vs. 9
  1. Don’t return to your sinful folly vs. 8)

Note how verse 8 states clearly that the Psalmist has changed from praying to God to listening to God.

“I will listen to what God the Lord will say”.

 There comes a time for prayer or talking to God to stop and many people battle with this. Humanly speaking we are either good talkers or good listeners, to be both is a rare and valuable gift. I am a talker and have had many battles in life to tame my compulsion to always want to say something. Us talkers are usually bad listeners and I have to continually stop myself from talking to concentrate on listening.

Maybe David had the same problem as me because twice in his Psalms he speaks of Being still before the Lord, Psalm 46: 10 and Psalm 37: 7, the later reads like this,

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”.

 Waiting for God to answer can be a very difficult thing to do but the writer of our Psalm 85 makes a conscious effort to stop his praying and start listening for God’s reply. It is hard to stop pleading with God in prayer and wait on his answer particularly when we might be suffering. James has a word of encouragement for us all about waiting on the Lord particularly when we might be suffering, James 5: 10 – 11,

Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy”.

As this Psalmist waits he hangs on to God and his word and expresses this in the next part of verse 8,

“He promises peace to his people his saints”.

It would seem this Levite, if it is written by A Son of Korah was remembering the “Aaronic” blessing of Numbers 6: 23 – 26,

“The Lord bless you and keep you;25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’

 Words he either often said in worship or at least heard said by Hebrew priests in Temple worship which contain God’s promise of his peace and blessing to his people also called here “his saints” which could be translated “Holy Ones”. Not all of the people of Israel trusted in God alone but those who did, the saints or true believers God’s word promises them peace.

Jesus promises all his true followers his peace or God’s peace in John 14: 27,

“ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”.

Then in the final phrase of verse 8 we read the first part of God’s answer to the Psalmist prayer for spiritual and national resuscitation which is the first God given condition for him doing it, we read,

“But let them not return to folly”.

What is the folly they should not return to?

Tremper Longman 111 nails the answer to that question for me, he writes,

“The heart of folly is a turning away from God to false Gods”.

Israel’s folly was they turned from the one true God of heaven and earth to the foolishness or folly of idol worship and Isaiah in Isaiah 44: 14 – 20 pins this folly down in an almost comical way,

“He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.15 it is used as fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread.
But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it.
16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says,  “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships.
He prays to it and says, “Save me! You are my god!”
18 They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand.19 No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,
“Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate.
Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”20 Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

God will not resuscitate his people if they return to idol worship practices which today is not usually seen in the worship of idols made of wood but rather in things like the worship of the human body or material possessions, scientific discovery or anything that consumes our time and money and stops us from putting God first in our lives.

GotQuestions?org puts modern idol worship this way,

“All the various forms of modern idolatry have one thing at their core: self. We no longer bow down to idols and images. Instead we worship at the altar of the god of self. This brand of modern idolatry takes various forms”.

 John speaks of this modern form of idol worship in 1 John 2: 15 – 17 and gives us great advice,

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever”.

When things in life go bad and the self -worshipper cannot buy their way out of trouble or use modern scientific thinking to help them who do they turn to?

Just as Isaiah spoke of when referring to the God’s of his day shaped out of a piece of wood, Isaiah 44: 20,

“Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

  1. Fear God (vs. 9)

Then our writer of Psalm 85 gives us God’s requirement for spiritual and national resuscitation from a positive point of view or what they must do in verse 9,

“Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land”.

Salvation or spiritual resuscitation is near those who fear God. The famous verse on the fear of the Lord is Proverbs 9: 10,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”.

To fear God is to revere him or to put God first in our lives GotQuestions?org quotes Hebrews 12: 28 – 29 in their explanation of what it means for a believer to fear God,

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

They then make this conclusion about what it means to fear God,

“This reverence and awe is exactly what the fear of God means for Christians. This is the motivating factor for us to surrender to the Creator of the Universe”.

 Non -believers do not fear God as they simply seek to ignore the existence of God or actively seek to attack the belief that God exists. However one day everyone will acknowledge Jesus as Lord or God when he returns as Paul tells us in Philippians 2: 9 – 11,

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

So to turn to the folly of other supposed God’s is to not truly fear the one true God and in fact the major symptom of spiritual death is the folly of idol worship and the failure of people to fear God in their lives.

God in verse 9 promises that if we turn from the folly of idol worship and truly fear him then,

“His glory may dwell in our land”.

God’s glory comes with God’s presence which is what the previous Psalm was all about and the last two verses of that Psalm says, verse’s 11 and 12,

“For the Lord is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you”.

  1. 10 – 11 God’s loving kiss of life

 The next two verses lie at the heart of the message of this Psalm as they spell out God’s promise of spiritual and national resuscitation for those as we have just seen have turned from the folly of idol worship and who truly fear or revere God in their lives.

I have given each of these two verses the following headings:

  1. God’s kiss of love and faithfulness and peace (vs. 10)
  2. God’s faithfulness springs forth and his just ways looks down (vs,11)

       Lets look a little closer at each of these two verses:

  1. God’s kiss of love and faithfulness and peace (vs. 10)

The writer of Psalm 85 then uses a number of poetic pictures to describe what God will do to revive or resuscitate his people if they turn away from the folly of idol worship and fear or revere him and the first is his kiss.

A kiss in ancient Hebrew culture as it is in many cultures today is a form of greeting a long time friend or family member as we see in Exodus 4: 27,

“The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the desert to meet Moses”. So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him”.

A kiss is an intimate contact with someone we love and here in verse 10 we read of it being used as an image of what God will do to revive his people,

“Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other”.

So just as Aaron and Moses kissed each other when they met at the foot of the mountain so God promises his people that his love and faithfulness and his right way of living will meet with his peace to revive or spiritually resuscitate them. Gordon Churchyard opens up this verse with these words,

“In this verse, God gives the kind love, and his people give him their loyalty. He does not stop loving them and they do not stop being his friends and servants whatever happens”.

God’s kiss is both a kiss of life, “righteousness” and a kiss of love, “love and faithfulness”, which will give his people his peace.

This is the promise of the New Testaments spiritual resuscitation made possible by God’s son Jesus Christ who through his death on the cross through which he made a way back to God. Jesus is God’s glory or love and righteousness personified as John 1: 14 declares,

“The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the Glory of the One and only, who came from Father, full of grace and truth”.

Paul taught that faith in Jesus and what he has done for us justifies us with God, or makes us right with God and gives us the blessing of God’s peace which is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Romans 5: 1 – 5,

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”.

 God has given us in Christ the kiss of life and has spiritually revived us to live for him. This is our great hope and is the experience of every loyal follower of Jesus Christ.

  1. God’s faithfulness springs forth and his just ways looks down (vs,11)

The images of God’s promise of revival or resuscitation for those who have turned from the folly of idol worship and who now seek to revere him in verse 11 are of the earth producing God’s faithfulness and the heavens bringing down or looking down his righteousness or right way of living and acting,

“Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven”.

 Albert Barnes gives us an apt and beautiful explanation of this verse with these words,

“Truth shall spring out of the earth – As plants do – for this is the meaning of the word. The blessings of truth and righteousness would be like the grass, the shrubs, the flowers, which spring up from the ground – and like the, rain and the sunbeams which come from heaven. Truth would spring up everywhere, and abound in all lands, as plants, and shrubs, and grass spring up all over the earth. There is not an intended contrast between the two clauses of this verse, as if truth came from the earth, and righteousness from heaven; but the idea is that they would come in a manner that might be compared with the way in which God’s other abundant blessings are bestowed, as springing, on the one hand, from the fertility of the earth, and on the other, from the rain, the dew, and the sunbeam”.

 This is an apt image of God’s resuscitation of his people if they were facing drought.

The next verse 12, as we have seen before seems to indicate this was exactly how God was disciplining his people’s waywardness, with a terrible drought in the land. God is now promising his people’s spiritual and national resuscitation in terms of a breaking of a drought which will be like a earthly expressing his love and faithfulness springing from the earth as he blesses them from the heavens with his righteousness in the form of life reviving rain.

Living in a country so often inflicted with terrible droughts makes me extra sensitive to images like this and I have often thought that the image of a drought is a great one for my country to understand what life without God is like.

We need like any people in our world the spiritual nourishment only Jesus can give us as Jesus said to the women at the well in John 4: 13 – 14,

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”.

 Later Jesus spoke of this life reviving water again in John 7: 37 – 38,

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him”.

 The next verse, 39, explains that Jesus here is speaking of the spiritual reviving properties of God’s Holy Spirit,

“By this he meant the Sprit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified”.

 So in Palm 85 verse 11 we have God’s promise of his love and faithfulness and righteousness springing up from the earth and coming down from above to spiritually and physically revive or resuscitate his people if they do not go back to the folly of idolatry and continue to revere or worship God only.

  1. 12 – 13 God’s loving resuscitation results

The final two verses of this promise of God’s revival or resuscitation of his people spell out more particularly first the practical outworking of this resuscitation and then in the final verse a promise of God himself leading the way for his people to go.

So my headings for these two final verses are:

  1. A promise for practical restoration of the land itself (vs. 12)
  2. A promise of God leading his people to show them the way to go (vs.13)

Lets have a closer look at each of these final two verses:

  1. A promise for practical restoration of the land itself (vs. 12)

As I said in the introduction verse 12 provides us with a vital clue to the circumstances of the writing of this Psalm as this verse speaks of God’s promise of restoration resulting in the end of a drought, the verse says,

“The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest”.

 Droughts as spoken of in the time of the prophet Haggai (Haggai 1: 10 – 11) around 40 years after the Jews returned from Babylonian exile would have prevented a harvest as Haggai pointed out because, “the heavens have withheld their dew” (Haggai 1: 10).

 So if the people, as verse 8 says do not turn to the folly of idolatry and if they, as verse 9 says, fear or revere God then God promises to give the people,

“What is good”,

 Or what they need from the hand of God which seems to be the lifting of a drought so that the,

“Land will yield its harvest”.

 Around the time of the prophet Haggai was a much younger prophet who was also a Temple priest named, Zechariah and in his written account of his prophecy we read this in Zechariah 8: 12 – 13,

“The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people. 13 Just as you, Judah and Israel, have been a curse among the nations, so I will save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.”

 We cannot say for sure if this relates to this Psalm and the promise of revival or resuscitation it contains but if this Psalm was written around the time of the post exile period and if the psalm was written around the time of the great drought in Haggai’s time then it is possible that the younger contemporary Zechariah could be speaking of the fulfillment of what this psalm speaks of in verse 12.

Even if it isn’t it makes no difference to what this verse is teaching us which is that God wants to bless and provide for the needs of his faithful people. Jesus spoke about something similar in Matthew 6: 28 – 34,

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”.

  1. A promise of God leading his people to show them the way to go (vs.13)

The writer of Psalm 85 finishes his promise of resuscitation with a great hope for the future for in a very poetic way he reveals that God is so involved in our lives to held revive and lead us he himself goes out in front of us to show us the way we should go in life. The last verse of this psalm says,

“Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for he steps”.

 Spurgeon’s simple explanation of this verse is very helpful,

“God’s march of right will leave a track wherein his people will joyfully follow”.

 It seems that the writer of Psalm 85 poetically personifies the righteousness of God as a kind of herald who goes out in front of an army or group of people announcing the coming of the army or this group of people. The way of this herald is then the way the army or group of people should go.

This last verse and its last vivid poetic image reminds me of two great things in the New Testament which are the last two things I will comment upon in this psalm:

  1. The forerunning ministry of John the Baptist
  2. The forerunning mission of Jesus Christ for all his followers
  1. The forerunning ministry of John the Baptist

The prophet Isaiah hundreds of years before the coming of Jesus spoke of a forerunner to the messiah coming to prepare his way in Isaiah 40: 3,

“A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord ; make straight in the desert a highway for our God”.

That forerunner of the Messiah was in the New Testament John the Baptist and his unique and special ministry as Mark 1: 1 – 8 reveals,

“The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”—“a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him.

Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

 John the Baptist was an unusual character a fearless rough individual who stood up against the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his time and told them straight their need to repent and be baptized. John was like a personification of this verse and I will simply quote it again to make my point,

“Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for he steps”.

John the Baptist a righteous man of God went before the Lord Jesus Christ to prepare the way or the ministry and preaching of Jesus and interestingly Jesus basic Gospel message was not much different than that of John the Baptist as Mark reports in Mark 1: 14 – 15,

 “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

 Of course the big difference was that John looked forward to the Kingdom of God coming and Jesus announced that it had come.

  1. The forerunning mission of Jesus Christ for all his followers

The final New Testament teaching that this last verse of Psalm 85 reminds me of is the actual mission of Jesus. Jesus makes his mission on earth clear in Mark 10: 45,

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many”.

 This giving of his life as a ransom for many was through the cross where Jesus says about this great act in John 12: 31 – 32,

“Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

 So Jesus believed that through his death on cross he was paying for our sins, defeating Satan and drawing all people to himself. Then in John 14: 6 Jesus states that he believed that through this he was making a way to the Father or to God the Father in heaven,

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

 Finally the writer to the Hebrews in Hebrews 12: 1 and 2 says,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.

Jesus then is a forerunner of our faith; he has gone before us blazing a trail to God in heaven and therefore is the great fulfillment of this last verse in Psalm 85 that says,

“Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for he steps”.

 Jesus has prepared the way of our steps and in his steps we should follow as Peter says in 1 Peter 2: 21,

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps”.

Jesus promises to not only make the way or steps to God but to be with us as we go his way or follow his steps as he says in Matthew 11: 28 – 30,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Finally this reminds me of a wonderful poem by Mary Stevenson called “Footprints in the Sand”.

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.

I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

CONCLUSION

 We saw at the start of this Psalm that the writer looked back to a former time of spiritual revival or resuscitation of his nation and how that resuscitation came about from the loving forgiveness of God who turned away from his anger to restore the fortunes of the nation. I believe this is a reference to the Jews return from exile in Babylon.

Then in the second section of the Psalm we read a desperate prayer for a renewed revival or resuscitation of the nation and I believe this was because somewhere between 20 or 40 years after the return from Babylonian exile God’s people in Israel had stopped putting God first and this was seen in their reluctance to rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem. This was during the time of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah and Haggai in the first chapter of his prophecy indicated that God’s judgment had come on the nation in the form of a severe drought.

In the third and final section we have God’s promise of spiritual revival or resuscitation if the people do not return to the folly of idol worship and fear or revere God with true worship of him.

This resuscitation would come about because of the great love and faithfulness of God and God’s faithfulness and righteousness will break the terrible drought and God himself would lead his people in the way he wants them to go.

All this we learnt relates to our need for spiritual resuscitation which Paul speaks of in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 1 to 10 where he says we are all dead in our trespasses and sins and need to be made alive in Christ. For those who have been revived by God’s kiss of life through the loving work of Christ we now have a way to go in life, which Jesus made for us and that way in life will eventually lead us all to dwell with Christ in heaven itself.

I close as usual with an original poem and prayer.

GOD’S LOVING KISS OF LIFE

(Based on Psalm 85 for the verses)

(Ephesians 2: 1 – 10 for the Chorus)

 Chorus:

God’s loving kiss of life

Saved me from my sin and strife.

Through the Lord I was made alive,

Through God’s love I was revived,

To be raised up high with Christ Above

Who gave his life through love.

 

You have showed your favour

To your people O Lord.

You have restored their lives

With your forgiveness and word.

And now I pray that you will turn away

From the anger you have from our sin each day.

 

Chorus:

Restore my life again

My great saviour and my Lord.

Help me with my sin

To trust you and your word.

And so I pray you will revive me today

So that I can rejoice in your love I pray.

Chorus:

May your unfailing love help me

To walk your way each day.

And may your peace and your love stop me

From turning away.

And now I see you are Lord of all

May your glory shine in those who answer your call.

Chorus:

Your faithfulness and love is like

A plant on the earth that grows.

Your righteousness shines down on us

and through it your love flows.

The Lord in deed will surely lead

Jesus made a way we must follow in his lead.

Chorus:

God’s loving kiss of life

Saved me from my sin and strife.

Through the Lord I was made alive,

Through God’s love I was revived,

To be raised up high with Christ Above

Who gave his life through love.

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 We thank you Father in heaven for your great love for us in that we were dead in our trespasses and sins yet you brought us back to life through the death of your son on the cross who died for our sins. Yes Lord you have forgiven us through Christ and brought us to life by the indwelling of your Holy Spirit in our lives. Help us now to continually turn away from the folly of not putting you first in our lives and help us to worship you because of what you have done for us with joyful praise. In Jesus name we pray. Amen

PSALM 84 TALK: THE BLESSINGS OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD

PSALM 84 TALK: THE BLESSINGS OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD

 (A Psalm that explores the real source of true blessing or happiness in life which is found in being close to God and God being close to us which is made possible through faith in his Son Jesus Christ).

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

 INTRODUCTION

 A few years ago my wife and I had the privilege of going on a quick one -month bus trip through most of Europe. I enjoyed seeing many wonderful things but one disappointment for me was the negative impact the many enormous Christian cathedrals had on me. I found that they left me cold and uninspired as they struck me as large and spiritually empty museums to an idea I simply just did not get. The idea was that these massive buildings brought you closer to God through their magnificent architecture and religious paraphernalia.

What made this feeling of disappointment even worse was a lot of them seemed to be more for the adoration of Mary than Jesus and in Rome the great cathedral their called St Peters seemed to worship even him. As I left that monstrous building in Rome said to be built on the spot Peter was crucified and buried I wondered what Peter would have thought of it if he had come back and went on the same tour as did.

The one saving grace for me on that trip was that my wife and I had five days in London before we went on the bus tour and on the Sunday when we were there we attended the wonderful evangelical church of All Saints Langham Place and the fellowship, music and sermon that day really inspired me and made me feel I had experienced a taste of heaven on earth.

That is really the point of coming into the real presence of God for it is found when we come together in faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 18: 20,

“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them”.

 Now this coming together in his name could be in a great cathedral or a simple humble home for it is not the setting that creates closeness to God but real faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ.

Psalm 84 features this idea of the blessing that God gives us when we are in his presence. The word blessing appeared for the first time in the book of Psalms in the first word of the first Psalm. In my Psalm talk on that first Psalm I said this about what the word blessed actually means,

Being Blessed by God or being truly happy is what all people really want but true happiness seems to be such a fickle thing. Many people buy lottery tickets to win large cash jackpots and think that if only they could win millions of dollars, then they would really be happy. The reality is that many who win big lotteries often find very little happiness at all. Relatives, friends and con men trying to get a piece of the prize hound them. They buy houses, boats and go on expensive holidays but still, in side themselves they aren’t happy.

 Others go deeply religious and do all kinds of religious activities. Martin Luther before he found Christ and the great liberating truth of Justification by faith, crawled up the steps of St Peters in Rome, praying as he crawled and when he got to the top said, he felt more of a sinner after doing the crawl than before he started it.

 Yes the bible makes it clear, to be truly blessed by God you need to find his forgiveness first, Psalm 32 verses 1 and 2 says:

 1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

 2 Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit”.

Stephen J. Cole in his excellent talk on this Psalm picks up the point that one of Satan’s greatest lies is that,

“The Christian life is void of pleasure, whereas pursuing sin brings real satisfaction”.

 Real happiness is only found in knowing God in our life, which in the terms of Psalm 84 means being in God’s presence or God being close to us.

Psalm 84, I believe was written as the Hebrew heading says, by a Son of Korah and more than likely it was written by the same person or persons who wrote Psalms 42 and 43 because of the many similarities between these Psalms. Again it is Stephen J. Cole who beautifully pins down the major similarity of these 3 Psalms.

“Both the earlier psalms and in Psalm 84 the author strongly wants to be at God’s temple, and more, to be in the presence of the living God himself”.

 We know that the Son’s of Korah were musical leaders and gatekeepers in both the Tabernacle in David’s time and the temple in Solomon time and right up to the time of Ezra we find Levite singers and gate keepers operating in the Temple in Jerusalem (see 1 Chronicles 6: 31 – 48 and 1 Chronicles 26: 1 and Nehemiah 7: 43 – 45).

In my Psalm talks on Psalms 42 and 43 I put forward the strong theory that a Son of Korah wrote what was then one Psalm when he fled with David in terrible Absalom rebellion and this is worked out from the possible locations of the place names in Psalm 42: 6 and the concept the Psalm speaks of as being separated from leading worship in verses like Psalm 42: 3 and the obvious attack of vicious enemies in both Psalms,

However Psalm 84 seems to be speaking of being separated from the Temple in Jerusalem as it speaks of birds nesting in verse 3 in the temple which was not built in David’s time and there is no mention of enemies in Psalm 84 except for a prayer for the king in verses 8 and 9 who is described in these verses as our shield or protector from the enemies the people of Israel faced at that time.

My theory is that this was written by the same son of Korah as Psalms 42 and 43 who for some reason was stopped from going to the temple in the time of Solomon for some reason like sickness, temporary banishment or some other circumstance we just are not told of.

Finally the other interesting aspect of the Hebrew heading is the words,

“According to gittith”

Which also appears in the headings of Psalms 8 and 81 and has two possible meanings,

The first is “on the wine – fats” which could be just a name of a tune and secondly a stringed instrument from Gath where David sojourned for a time when on the run from King Saul.

If this is speaking of the string instrument that should be used to play this song on then a date of writing the Psalm doing the time of Solomon is more likely.

With the concept of Blessedness or Happiness found in the presence of God my headings for this Psalm are:

  1. 1 – 4   THE BLESSINGS OF BEING CLOSE TO GOD
  1. 1 – 2   The beauty of God’s presence
  2. 3 – 4   The blessings of being close to God
  1. 5 – 7   THE BLESSINGS OF GOD’S STRENGTH AND PROTECTION
  1. 5 – 7   The blessed journey to God’s presence
  2. 8 – 9   A prayer for the protection and blessing of the king
  1. 10 – 12 THE BLESSING OF BEING IN GOD’S PRESENCE
  1. 10 – 11 God’s worst is better than Satan’s best
  2. vs.   12 The blessings of true faith in God

 Lets now have a close look at this beautiful Psalm.

  1. 1 – 4   THE BLESSINGS OF BEING CLOSE TO GOD

 I have broken this first section into two parts:

  1. 1 – 2   The beauty of God’s presence
  2. 3 – 4   The blessings of being close to God

Lets have a close look at the first part:

  1. 1 – 2   The beauty of God’s presence

Even though I find Cathedrals cold and uninspiring many others find them awe-inspiring feeling that the architecture of such buildings brings them closer to God. For our writer of Psalm 84, this seems to be the case for he writes in verse 1,

“How lovely is your dwelling place. O Lord Almighty”.

 The writer here is first speaking about the Temple and Tremper Longman 111 says this,

“The speaker cannot contain his emotions as he thinks of the temple. He finds himself drawn to that beautiful structure”.

 1 Kings 7: 13 – 51 speaks of the building of the extravagant interiors of the Temple by King Solomon and there is no doubt that this building was physically beautiful.

However we must always remember what the Tabernacle and later Temple represented. They represented God’s dwelling place on earth, which mirrored God’s dwelling place in heaven. Moses is told by God to make the Tabernacle in Exodus 25: 8 – 9,

“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you”.

Note how Moses is instructed to make this Tabernacle after the pattern he had shown Moses which could mean that on Mt Sinai when Moses met with God he could have caught a glimpse of God in heaven.

Inside this meeting tent is a special place called the Holy of Holies which sat the Ark of the Covenant which God also gave strict instructions of how that should be made in Exodus 25: 17 – 22,

“Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. 18 And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. 19 Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. 20 The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. 21 Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law that I will give you. 22 There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites”.

Note how this cover has symbols of a heavenly place with the mention of special angels called Cherubim who sit on either side of the place God would meet with Moses to give Israel its commands or word of God.

From the time of Moses and onwards the High priest would enter the Holy of Holies to sprinkle the blood of a sacrificed animal on this mercy seat to symbolize that only through a sacrifice for sin could Israel or any man approach God.

The writer to the Hebrews makes it clear that the Tabernacle and its Holy of Holies was but a symbol for God’s dwelling place in heaven and that Jesus, rather than symbolically shed blood for a sacrificed animal for sin but actually Jesus shed his own blood so that we could approach God’s presence, Hebrews 9: 23 – 28,

“It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.  Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him”.

So the writer of Psalm 84 is saying in verse 1 that the beauty of the dwelling place, the Temple is that God promises to meet with his people their and that place also symbolically represents the lovely and beautiful place of God’s dwelling in heaven.

Verse 2 then speaks of the emotions the writer feels when he thinks of God’s dwelling place or shall we say, God’s presence on earth,

“My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God”.

This emotional description gives us the first clue that the writer not only loves the Temple and what it stands for but also is somehow separated from it at the time of the writing of this Psalm. Allan Harman says,

“The psalmist is spiritually hungry for the presence of God”.

This is the first time in this Psalm that the words the psalmist uses echo Psalm 42 as its second verse says,

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God”.

If Psalm 42 was written by the same person as Psalm 84 and Psalm 42 was written by a Levite who was with David when he ran from his rebellious son Absalom then this psalmist has been there before, separated from Jerusalem and the special dwelling place of God on earth, the Tabernacle or Temple.

He longs or stronger yearns to be in the Temple precinct, “courts of the Lord”. This separation from God and the worship of God even courses him to “faint” which Stephen J. Cole points out,

“The psalmist total being (soul, heart and flesh) are crying out to the living God that he might join the worshippers at the temple”.

Some of the Sons of Korah played a major role in the worship of the Temple in both providing musical a compliment and leading the singing as well. In Psalm 42: 4 he speaks of this kind of Temple worship leading, longingly,

“These things I remember as I pour out my soul; how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God”.

Finally notice how in both Psalms 42: 2 and 84: 2 he calls God,

“The living God”

God was not some kind of dumb idol to this man he was as real as any person. He was a God who spoke and acted in the lives of his people Israel.

Jesus says this about himself in Revelation 1: 18,

“ I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades”.

I remember seeing during my teenage years a documentary about a Jesus rally in London in the late 1960” and a anti – God protest was taking place at the same time and a young Christian man went up to an older man carrying a poster that read, “God is dead” and said, “How can he be dead for I spoke to him this morning”.

The resurrection of Jesus makes all the difference and Paul makes this amazing claim about it in 1 Corinthians 15: 14,

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”.

Paul had already pointed out that in his time there was many who could testify to the truth that Jesus had in fact rose from the dead, he says this in verses 3 – 8,

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of who are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born”.

There have been many skeptical atheists who have tried to put Christianity down by disproving the resurrection and have ended up coming to the conclusion that it is true. Men like Frank Morrison who set out to research the facts and write a book debunking the Christian claim that Jesus rose from the dead and ended up seeing that the evidence pointed towards its truth and he wrote, instead a book called, “Who moved the stone” and confessed that he now was a Christian as a result.

We, like this Son of Korah believe and look to a living God who answers our prayers and speaks to us through his word and to be separated from him would cause us great pain and anxiety as it did that Son of Korah long ago.

  1. 3 – 4   The blessings of being close to God

The Psalmist longing to be back in the temple close to God’s special presence there makes him think of some birds he often saw high up in the temple buildings he writes, verse’s 3,

“Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself where she may have her young- a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God”.

The birds are there but he is not there and therefore he even envies these tiny birds for they are close to God but he feels far away from him.

We might say, but God is everywhere and therefore this Levite should not need to be in the Temple to feel close to God but this is a bit like those who say I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian. In one sense that is true, going to church does not make you a Christian but how much are you missing out on when you don’t join with other Christians in worship and fellowship.

One person put it this way, you might call yourself a footballer but never go on a football field to play or a surfer but you hate surf. This would not make sense and therefore to say I am a Christian but never go to church is just as silly.

You could say I’m a Christian but don’t go the church but think of all the things you are missing out on by not joining with other like minded people. The writer to the Hebrews saw the problem of Christians not joining with other Christians in his day and said this, Hebrews 10: 24 – 25,

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”.

Notice how the writer speaks of meeting together as a means of spurring one another on to good deeds and this is what going to church should achieve it should make us more blessed or truly happy and help make us more committed to the God we all believe in.

Maybe the feeling the Psalmist felt when he was away from the fellowship and worship of the temple is what I felt on my tour of Europe in those cold enormous cathedrals when I was just a tourist looking at the building and not being a vital member of that congregation with other believers as I did in London in All Saints Langham Place.

This Levite played a vital part of the worship of God who promised Old Testament believers that his special presence would be manifest in the Tabernacle /Temple.

This special place the Temple was then the place that God’s special presence was going to be up to the coming of God’s Son Jesus Christ.

Then once Jesus died on the cross we read in Matthew 27: 51,

“ At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split”.

The significance of this was that access to God’s special presence was now made through Jesus and his death for us. It was only 70 years or so later that the Temple was totally destroyed forever by the Romans just as Jesus had predicted it would. It was destroyed because animal sacrifice was not needed for the forgiveness of sins because Jesus gave his life for our sins once and for all time and opened up the access to God through faith in him.

Now as the church, the congregation of true believers we are God’s Temple and Paul makes this clear speaking to the congregation of true believers in Corinth, 1 Corinthians 3: 16 – 17,

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple”.

The final words of verse 3 are a great three- pronged description of the God this Psalmist long to be in the presence of,

“O Lord Almighty, my King and my God”

This is a great summary of who the God of the bible actually is.

  1. The Lord Almighty
  2. The King
  3. My God

Lets have a quick look at each of these descriptions of God.

  1. The Lord Almighty

Gotquestion?org. explains what this title means this way,

“In Hebrew, the title “God Almighty” is written as El Shaddai and probably means “God, the All-powerful One” or “The Mighty One of Jacob” (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 132:2,5), although there is a question among most Bible scholars as to its precise meaning. The title speaks to God’s ultimate power over all”.

 God made everything and everyone as so he is our maker and deserves to be called the Lord, supreme one and the almighty one or the most powerful person and force in the universe. He has a special relationship with his people, who the writer of Psalm 84 recognised and Isaiah speaks of this as well in Isaiah 54: 5,

“For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth”.

  1. The King

This is similar to The Lord Almighty as that title we have just seen contains the word Lord that is another bible word for King or supreme one. The Psalmist in Psalm 84 later prays for God’s anointed one or King in verses 8 and 9 but over Israel’s king and indeed all earthly kings is God the king of everything.

Another Son of Korah Psalm, Psalm 47 expands the meaning of God as the king of everything in verses 7 – 9,

“For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted”.

In the New Testament Jesus is presented as God’s King or Lord and we see this in a verse like Revelation 1: 4 – 5,

“Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth”.

Note how John speaks of Jesus as the firstborn from the dead, an obvious reference to his death and resurrection and through this Jesus proved that he is the true King of Heaven and earth when he died on the cross for our sins, defeating sin and rose from the dead defeating death itself. Interestingly the crime Jesus was crucified for was that he claimed to be king and Pilot cheekily placed a sign above Jesus head that read, “King of the Jews”, infuriating the Jewish leaders who wanted it changed to, “He claimed to be King of the Jews”.

Jesus told pilot in John 18: 36,

“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place”.

Ultimately Jesus will come again as the great King from Heaven as implied by Revelation 11: 15,

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said; ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever”.

  1. My God

Spurgeon makes this comment on the term, “My God”,

“We are not strangers to him; we are his worshippers, and he is our God: ours by covenant, by promise, by oath, by blood”.

 This Son of Korah led the people of his time to worship the God of the Bible who he calls here in verse 3, “My God”, worthy of worship as he is almighty and King of everything. The Temple and particularly the Holy of Holies mirrored the real dwelling place of God, heaven and there wonderful worship takes place with all the heavenly beings and what do they say in worship. The book of Revelations records a lot of the songs of worship in heaven. Revelation 4 verse 11 records these words of worship by the angels in heaven,

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being”.

 This is an example of a true acknowledgement of God as “Our God” and the writer of Psalm 84 longs to join again with others in the Temple to worship his God again in song and words of praise.

Finally as he thinks of the privileged position of the little birds in the Temple he realises what wonderful blessings or real happiness comes from being close to God and express’s this in verse 4,

“Blessed are those who dwell in your house, they are ever praising you”.

 The Temple was not designed for people to live in as its design was purely there for the people of Israel to worship their great God. So it is curious when this verse and other verses like it in the book of Psalms speak of dwelling or living in God’s house. So I must seek to answer the question,

What did the Psalmist mean by the expression dwelling in the house of the Lord forever?

Twice in the first book of Psalms David spoke of his longing to dwell in God’s house forever. The most famous one is Psalm 23: 6,

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my like, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.

 In an earlier Psalm, Psalm 15 verse 1 David asks this question,

“ Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?

 Obviously David is not speaking about the earthly Sanctuary, a large tent like structure designed for worship, which became the Temple in Solomon’s time on a different hill called Mount Zion.

In my Psalm talk on Psalm 15 my explanation of this first verse goes like this,

“David only set up the Sanctuary, a large tent like structure on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem (the Temple was set up on Mount Zion). This tent contained “The Ark of the Covenant” which contained the tablets of stone given to Moses, which had written on The Ten Commandments. The place the ark sat in was called “The Holy of Holies” and was a representation of God’s throne in Heaven. This also then would represent God’s dwelling on earth in the midst of his people as Moses was told to do in Exodus 25 : 8 – 9,

 “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you”.

 All Israelite knew that only the High Priest, once a year entered this place so David is not asking who will dwell in the sanctuary but who will one day live with God in heaven, the real Mount Zion or Holy Hill.

 If you want a more detailed picture of this sanctuary you can read Hebrews 9 : 1 – 9.

 So the sanctuary represents God’s dwelling place or home. Therefore as Christians we are headed for a heavenly home and the old song’s words are true, “This world is not my home I’m just a passing through”.

 The writer of Psalm 84 then in verse 4 is speaking about; I think the physical and spiritual house of God in verse 4 when he writes,

“Blessed are those who dwell in your house, they are ever praising you”.

The dwelling in God’s house is an image for being in the presence of God which on earth for the Jews of the writers time was at the Temple but even for him the spiritual eternal home was with God in heaven, which the temple represented.

Finally the writer to the Hebrews makes it clear what Mount Zion and even Jerusalem are really now for Christians in Hebrews 12 : 22,

“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly.”

This verse looks forward to the day the entire congregation of all true believers meets together with God and all the heavenly hosts in heaven to worship our King and our God.

For what does the writer of Psalm 84 say will be the activity that God’s people will be engaged in, in God’s house?

His answer is,

“They are ever praising you”

 As I said earlier The Book of Revelation has many incidents of worship in heaven and another on of these speaks of the great praise for God all who stand around the throne of God will make, Revelation 7: 12,

“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever Amen”.

Even while we live in this life, praise to God should be our aim in like as Paul advices in to do every thing to the glory or praise of God in 1 Corinthians 10: 31,

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”.

 So the writer of Psalm 84 says that those who dwell in God’s house or God’s presence will be blessed. That is they will know the true and deep happiness that only God can give.

  1. 5 – 7   THE BLESSINGS OF GOD’S STRENGTH AND PROTECTION

 The writer of Psalm 84 continues to tell what blessings, true happiness God’s presence can give us in this second section of his Psalm, which I have broken into two parts as well:

  1. 5 – 7   The blessed journey to God’s presence
  2. 8 – 9   A prayer for the protection and blessing of the king

We will now look at the further blessings being in God’s presence and worshipping him will bring us in the first part:

  1. 5 – 7   The blessed journey to God’s presence

He starts verse 5 with the same word as he used at the start of verse 4, Blessed and as I have already made clear this word could be translated as being truly happy. So we read in verse 5,

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage”.

 We see two wonderful things God gives us if we are in his presence or are close to him. Those two things are:

  1. His Strength
  2. His Way or direction in life
  1. His Strength

The first blessing or source of true happiness is we will have God’s strength, the writer of Psalm 84 says,

“Whose strength is in you”.

 Leopold writes,

“Close fellowship with him (God) makes them strong and fills their bosoms with happiness”.

 David continually spoke of how God made him strong especially when his life’s circumstances made him feel so week like Psalm 31: 2,

“Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue, be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me”.

 Note how David is implying he is in great danger and he needed God to rescue him and he believed that God and God alone was his rock, steadfast reliable one who is his strength and even refuge.

In Psalm 28: 7 David declares that God is his strength and that strength is the source of his joy and praise for God,

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him”.

 So as we face, like David, the battles of life we can find when we are in those great battles a God who will give us strength because he is a strong God and being close to him will make us strong to fight on victorious.

Paul famously spoke of the great battle all Christians are involved in, in Ephesians 6: 10 – 18. He tells us how great the forces are that we are battling with in verse 12,

“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”.

 But even though these forces we are battling with are very great Paul tells us in verse 10,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power”.

 In the rest of the passage Paul sets down the many resources God has given us to make us strong in this battle.

So a major blessing, or source of true happiness from being close to God is the strength of God in our lives that comes from God and his presence in our lives given to us through God’s Holy Spirit which Paul says we have in God through prayer, Ephesians 6: 18,

“And 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. His Way or direction in life

The second half of verse 5 and what follows is at first not as easy to interpret as the first half owing to the English translation of the final word in that verse at what the original writer really meant by using it.

The NIV translation that I use, translates these contested Hebrew words in this verse as, “pilgrimage”. Adam Clarke gives us the Hebrew words and their literal translation,

“Mesilloth bilebabam, “the high ways are in their hearts;”

 James Coffman points out this about this Hebrew term,

“The current popular opinion that makes this psalm a pilgrimage song is founded upon a single word in this verse, “ways” which means pilgrimage but is constantly treated as if it did, “highways”.

 Coffman and Leupold dispute this translation of “ways” as pilgrimage and I like the way Coffman explains the alternative translation and meaning here,

“These are not roads, in the ordinary sense, they are ‘in the hearts’ of those who love God. These, ‘ways’ are being pondered (in men’s hearts) and they refer to ‘directions’, or ‘courses’ of action that should be followed in specific situations”.

 Leupold gives us Luthers interpretation which is,

“Wholeheartedly they follow after thee (God)”

 So I will seek to interpret this last part of verse 5 as our direction in life rather than pilgrimage. So the writer is saying that blessed are those who strength is the Lord and who set their hearts on following the Lord or going the way God wants them to go in life.

Jesus made it very clear the way we should go in life in John 14: 6,

“I am the way and the truth and the life, No one comes to the Father except through me”.

 Jesus uses a similar word to the Hebrew “ways” here which many translate as “road” and Matthew Poole makes this comment on this verse to help us understand what Jesus was actually saying here,

“I am the way; that is, the way by which those must get to heaven who will ever come there. Christ is our way to heaven by the doctrine which he taught; by his death, by which he purchased this heavenly inheritance for us; by his holy life and conversation, setting us an example that we should follow his steps; by the influence of his Spirit, guiding us to, and assisting us in, those holy actions by which we must come unto glory”.

 Of course, spiritually following God’s way in life is a sort of Pilgrimage, which as Poole points out, gets us to heaven the great and final blessing of God to all believers. So in this sense the writer of Psalm 84 is speaking of a pilgrimage to the presence of God, which was for him the Temple and worship there of his God which he seems to be longing for all through this Psalm.

He then speaks, poetically in verse 6 of how sometimes this “way” God wants us to go in life can prove to be difficult and even a struggle but God is there with us to help and refresh us, he writes,

“As they pass through the Valley of Beca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools”.

 There is no place in Israel called the “Valley of Beca” and this is purely a poetic concoction as “Beca” literally means according to Coffman,

“The valley of Weeping”

 Which Leopold tells us Luther translates as,

“Valley of sorrow”

 So as “the way” or “God’s way” leads us into difficult times in our lives, which might even cause us to cry or experience pain, God is there with us helping us in these times to be even a time of blessing or using the Psalmist poetic description,

“A place of springs”

 Which is made even clearer with another poetic image,

“The autumn rains also cover it with pools”.

Some preach today that becoming a Christian is the ticket to a blessed life, which they say means a life without pain and difficulty, and filled with only prosperity. However the bible and particularly the New Testament does not teach this. Let me give you two key New Testament references that suggest what becoming a Christian actually offers us.

First is the words of Jesus himself he Matthew 11: 28 – 30,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 Note how Jesus is not offering in this life, no more suffering or difficulty in life but rather he is offering assistance and help in the midst of life’s difficulties. He is offering rest and assistance in the midst of weariness and burdens.

 Second the teaching of Paul Romans 5: 1 – 5,

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”.

 Note how Paul in this great statement of the joy and peace we have through being justified by faith in Jesus Christ is not suggesting that this means no more suffering. Rather, he suggests that we now can glory in our suffering realising that it to has a plan and purpose for us, which is perseverance, character and hope.

All the other New Testament writers like Peter (1 Peter 1: 6 – 9) and James (James 1: 2 – 6) speak of the positive role of suffering in the Christians life.

So the writer of Psalm 84 in verse 6 is saying, poetically, that even in the difficult times we will experience if we follow God’s way in life, God will be with us helping us and refreshing us and as it says in verse 7,

“They go from strength to strength till each appears before God in Zion”.

 So the writer speaks of two things here about going God’s way and they are:

  1. The promise of growth
  2. The promise of heaven

So lets have a close look at each of these two things God promises us if we go his way in life.

  1. The promise of growth

I said before that the bible and the particularly the New Testament does not promise prosperity and a life free of problems and difficulties but this is not fully correct. This is because physically or so far as day to day living Christians will face problems and difficulties just as everyone does in this life however spiritually we will have a form of prosperity.

The writer of Psalm 84 says this about following God’s way at the start of verse 7,

“They go from strength to strength”

 This is the promise of growth and maturity I believe. Yes, we all face problems and difficulties in life, believer and non- believer but the difference is Christians can rely on God for strength and help in the midst of our problems and difficulties. Also this verse implies that our lives and I believe our spiritual growth will increase.

Jesus in his promise of help and assistance in carrying our burdens in Matthew 11: 28 – 30 says that if we come to him and let him help us we will,

“Find rest for our souls”

Which means he will give us his strength to cope and we will find peace that only he can give in the midst of turmoil and strife.

Paul speaks of our spiritual growth in Romans 5: 1 – 5, when we face suffering with faith in Jesus Christ as,

“Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”.

Paul speaks more clearly of the wonderful cycle of spiritual growth that takes place in the lives of all true believers in a passage like 2 Corinthians 3: 16 – 18,

“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”.

Changing with ever- increasing glory is another way of saying we will go from strength to strength, which is what the writer of Psalm 84 is saying in verse 7. He has learnt that following God’s way does not get him out of the Valley of Beca, the times of sorrow and difficulty but with the Lord being with him he can have the experience of knowing God’s nourishment and help in those times and those Valley of Beca experiences will lead him to go from strength to strength in his walk with the Lord.

This thought reminds me of another famous Psalm which speaks about this, David’s Psalm 23: 4,

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me”.

  1. The promise of heaven

The second half of verse 7 speaks of the final destination of this following God’s ways, the end of the road or the goal of our spiritual pilgrimage, which he expresses this way,

“Till each appears before God in Zion”.

 Now this brings us back to what the Temple and Mount Zion meant to the ancient Hebrew and as I said before it had a double meaning. Mount Zion and the Temple that rested on it represented God’s dwelling with his people on earth. It was the place God said he would make his presence known to the world as God says in Exodus 25: 8,

“Then have them make a sanctuary (later Temple) for me, and I will dwell among them”.

However this sanctuary or later Temple with its Holy of Holies containing the Ark of the Covenant that sat on Mount Zion was only a great symbol for God’s actual dwelling place, heaven itself as Isaiah made it clear in Isaiah 66: 1 and 2,

“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord”.

The New Testament makes it even clearer that Mount Zion is a name for heaven which is not only God’s resting place but the final destination of all true believers, Hebrews 12 : 22,

“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly.”

When the writer says, “but you have come” he is speaking to all Christians who follow the way of Jesus. Interestingly one of the early names for Christians was followers of the way as Paul called them in Acts 22: 4.

So this last phrase in Psalm 84: 7,

“Till each appears before God in Zion”

 Applies to us as Christians as well because our final destination is heaven also and we have a much clearer understanding of this as Jesus said as we saw in John 14: 6 that he is the way to the father and when Jesus returns he will bring Zion and the New Jerusalem from heaven to earth and Revelation 21: 1 – 8,

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.”

Note how in heaven suffering and difficulty will be no more as God will wipe all that away and make all things new.

  1. 8 – 9   A prayer for the protection and blessing of the king

Then we come to two verses that seem to be out of context as they are a prayer for the king. However a closer look at them and the possible context of this Psalm makes them very much in context.

In ancient Israel the king was very important for their national security and God working through his appointed king fought off the many enemies of Israel over its long history. So it was Gods grace or as verse 9 says God’s favour that made it possible for a Godly Israelite to go God’s way or live as God would want them to live.

In fact when the king looked away from following God and lost favour with God the Nation was put under great unrest and the ability to go God’s way or live as God wanted people to live was very difficult to do indeed.

So our writer of Psalm 84 has just spoken of following God’s way in his heart and life and now prays,

“Hear my prayer, O Lord God Almighty; listen to me, O God of Jacob. Look upon our shield, O God; look with favour on your anointed one”.

 Some commentators have even suggested that maybe their was a national crisis happening at the time of our psalmist writing this Psalm and that was what was keeping him from being able to worship God in the Temple. This too would explain why he prays this prayer at this stage of his psalm.

I would like to break this prayer into three aspects:

  1. Who he is addressing his prayer to
  2. What he is asking for
  3. What he says about the king

So lets have a closer look at each of these three aspects of the prayer,

  1. Who he is addressing the prayer to

The two expressions of God he is praying to are:

  1. “Lord God almighty”
  2. “Oh God of Jacob”

 Lets have a closer look at each of these:

  1. “Lord God almighty”

First of all we have the title, “Lord God Almighty” which we have already seen at the end of verse 3 and there I said that God made everything and everyone and so he is our maker and deserves to be called the Lord, supreme one and the almighty one or the most powerful person and force in the universe.

To this great and powerful God our writer prays knowing that he has limitless power and resources to answer that prayer. The letters of Paul contain many prayers and we can learn a lot about prayer from them. Paul acknowledged God’s great power and love in his prayers and to the Ephesians he records this prayer for them, Ephesians 3: 14 – 19,

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.

  1. “Oh God of Jacob”

The second title for God that the writer of Psalm 84 uses in prayer to God is, “Oh God of Jacob”. This is the covenant name for God and the writer is seeking to link with all the wonderful covenant promises of God in his prayer request for the king here in verse 8.

God first made his covenant with Abraham and then his son Isaac and then his son Jacob and we find the heart of this covenant expressed in Genesis 12: 2 – 3,

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

 The other interesting fact here is the name Jacob that I call his pre-conversion name, as Jacob became was also known as Israel the father of the Israel nation. By referring to the God of Jacob the writer is again is looking for God’s grace or undeserved favor. Jacob’s name means “supplanter” as Jacob lived his life right from he start as a conniving rebellious person who wanted to steal the birthright of his twin brother Esau. However Jacob had a close encounter with God in the form of a wrestle with an Angel. He would not let go of the angel so the angel touched his hip giving him a permanent limp and a new name Israel that means, “may God prevail” or “he struggles with God” was given to him.

The writer then is praying to the God of Jacob who is the God of the covenant and it many promises of God’s blessings and the God of Jacob the rebellious man who God changed through his grace or mercy.

  1. What he is asking for

The writer of Psalm 84 is asking God for in verse 8,

“Look with favour”

He is asking for God’s undeserved favour or love to be on his chosen king of Israel. When God appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai and Moses asked to see God and his glory God says this about himself in Exodus 33: 19,

“And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion”.

Notice how the God of the bible is a God of mercy or in New Testament terms a God of Grace that both terms present that God is a God of undeserved love. As Christians we know this fact even better as Paul proclaims in Ephesians 1: 6 – 9,

“To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ”.

Even the great king David always recognised that he was only able to protect and save Israel from their enemies because of God’s love and mercy or undeserved favour as we see in Psalm 21: 7,

“For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken”.

  1. What he says about the king

Finally the writer of Psalm 84 prayer in verses 8 and 9 is for the king of Israel who he gives two titles, he is,

  1. “Our shield”
  2. “You anointed one”.

 Lets have a closer look at these two titles:

  1. “Our Shield”

 First he is “our shield” which basically means protector and as I said before Israel relied on their Kings to provide protection from their many enemies during their long history. The kings responsibility was to lead there people into battle and help them have victory over their many enemies.

However the king himself had to rely on God who is called Israel’s shield by David in many occasions like Psalm 7 verse 10,

“My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright of heart,”

 Or Psalm 3: 3,

“But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head”.

 Words we believe David wrote when he faced the enemy of his own rebellious son Absalom and God shielded or protected him from the danger of his rebellious son over and over again unto David’s General Joab defeated and killed Absalom.

However the kings of Israel had to trust in God and go his way in their lives and rule and when they didn’t then their role of being Israel’s protector or shield failed as it did in the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 720BC by the invasion of the Assyrians and the southern kingdom of Judah in 586BC by the invasion of the Babylonians.

So the writer of Psalm 84 even declares that God is their shield in verse 11 as the King was only really God’s instrument of protection if he was loyal to God and sought to follow his ways.

We too need to look to God alone as our shield or protector and the New Testament teaches that without God we are powerless but with God we are strong as Paul prays in 2 Thessalonians 3: 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”.

Also we have a king who is our shield, the King of heaven and earth, Jesus Christ

  1. “You anointed one”.

The final title for the king in this prayer of the writer of Psalm 84 is the title, “anointed one”, which looks back to the prophecy about David and his line of Kings in Psalm 2: 2 – 6,

“The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,“Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

 Here David is called the anointed one and is promised victory over his enemies and the next 3 verses of this prophecy seem to promise a great victory for a son of David or may we say a descendant of David which was not fulfilled by his Son Solomon or an other king of Israel but was fulfilled by the greater descendant of David, Jesus Christ. Psalm 2: 7 – 9 says,

“ I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.You will break them with a rod of iron]; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

 We see the fulfillment of this prophecy in Psalm 2 in the two greet comings of Jesus. First of all in the first coming God acknowledges Jesus, a direct descendant of King David as his beloved son at his baptism, Matthew 3: 17,

“And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

 The great victory over the nations, his inheritance is spoken of as part of the second coming of Christ in passages like Revelation 2: 26 – 28,

“To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—

27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery —just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star”.

So this prayer of the writer of Psalm 84 in verses 8 and 9 is a short but powerful prayer for his king who he wants God to use as his nations protector and shield against the many enemies his nation faced and could have been facing at the time of him writing this Psalm.

For us we are taught by Jesus in his model prayer to pray for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as Jesus tells us to do in Matthew 6: 9 – 10,

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”.

Paul also exhorts us to pray for those who rule over us so that we might have peace in our world and be able to tell others about the message of the Gospel, as he writes in 1 Timothy 2: 1 – 4,

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”.

  1. 10 – 12 THE BLESSING OF BEING IN GOD’S PRESENCE

 After the psalmists brief interlude of prayer he returns to his original thoughts of the blessings of being close to God or being in his presence. I have broken this final section into two parts as well:

  1. 10 – 11 God’s worst is better than Satan’s best
  2. vs.   12 The blessings of true faith in God

Lets take a close look at the first part:

  1. 10 – 11 God’s worst is better than Satan’s best

 Verse 10 reads like this,

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house if my God the dwell in the tents of the wicked”.

My tile for the first part of this second section of Psalm 84 comes from the commentary comments of the great preacher and commentator, Charles Hadden Spurgeon who says this about verse 10,

“Every man has his choice, and this is ours, God’s worst is better than the devil’s best”.

 Spurgeon’s comments capture the truth of this verse. The psalmist being a Levite is probably at least a door -keeper or gatekeeper as 1 Chronicles 26: 1 says,

“The division of the gatekeepers:

 From the Korahites: Meshelemaiah son of Kore, one of the sons of Asaph etc.

 So maybe he is saying he would rather perform his lowly task or doorman in God’s house than live it up in the dwelling of a wicked man. His commitment is to God and his goal is to be close to him, to be as it were, in God’s presence. He makes this clear by his willingness to sacrifice time or more life by spending time in God’s service, which he declares by his words that say,

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere”.

 How much are we willing to sacrifice for the opportunity of serving God?

How much are we willing to give up to be close to God?

Interestingly the early story of the Korahites is not a pretty one and this mans ancestors actually chose to reject their lowly job in God’s service, which is recorded in Numbers 16 where we read of the original Korah joining with 2 other Levites rising up against Moses leadership with 250 other Israelite men jealous of people like Moses being in a more exalted position amongst God’s people.

The consequences of this rebellion is both swift and brutal and Korah and the others who joined him were judged buy God the next day by being swallowed up by the earth and destroyed. Moses condemnation of Korah and the other rebellious levites is very revealing. It is recorded for us in Numbers 16: 8 – 11,

“Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? 10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. 11 It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?”

 So the choice of service of the original Korah and this distant descendant (a small remnant of the Korah family survived God’s judgment) is quite remarkable. As the original Korah sought more than being a gatekeeper in God’s tabernacle (or House) while the Son of Korah who wrote Psalm 84 would rather be a gatekeeper than anything else in the world in God’s service that the devil could offer him.

We all have to accept the life and calling God gives to each one of us and often that life or calling is seemingly menial as we all cannot be Billy Grahams or some other leading light in the Christian church.

Paul had to speak to the Corinthian church about this problem and his way of speaking about it I find fascinating. In 1 Corinthians 12 he uses the analogy of the body to show that all gifts and I would say callings have a place and part to play in the effective ministry of the church, he writes, 1 Corinthians 21 – 26,

“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,

 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it”.

 Interestingly some of the descendants of Korah in David’s time were elevated from doorkeepers or gatekeepers in God’s house and were given the role of leading music in the worship in the Tabernacle in David’s time and The Temple from the time of Solomon and onwards, as we read in 1 Chronicles 25: 1,

“David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals”.

Note these Levites are even given the position of the ministry of prophesying which probably included the writing of Psalms as we see from this Psalm, Psalm 84.

So this Son of Korah was willing to be a lowly gatekeeper or doorkeeper as verse 10 reads but he was given a far more exalted position than this and his Psalm has been read by many generations of believers over a long period of time.

Then he tells us his motivation desiring to be in the presence of God in verse 11,

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold”.

His motivation to wanting to be in the presence of God serving him and his people comes from what he knows and understands of God and they could be divided into 4 things:

  1. God is a sun
  2. God is a shield
  3. God bestows favor (grace) and honor
  4. God gives us nothing but good things

Lets have a closer look at each of these four things:

  1. God is a sun

The first thing our writer of Psalm 84 says about why God motivates him to service is and makes him want to be close to God is,

“For the Lord God is a sun”.

 Allan Harman points out that this expression; “the Lord God is a sun” is a similar expression as the Lord is my Light in Psalm 27: 1,

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid”.

 God is portrayed as light in a number of places in the bible and wicked or those who are against God are in darkness. Jesus made it clear that he is the Light of the world in John 8: 12,

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”.

 John 3: 19 that he is God’s light that has come into the world but men love darkness more than light,

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds are evil”.

 The writer of Psalm 84 wants to be in God’s presence, serving him because God is a Sun or light to him and if we are seeking to go Jesus way we too will want to be close to God because he is light and he therefore enlightens us and shows us the way we should go in life.

  1. God is a shield

The next motivation for this psalmist to want to be close to God serving him is.

“And shield”

As I said in my comments on verse 9, God was Israel’s shield or protector even though that verse speaks of the king being the shield and we saw that the Psalms speak a lot about how even the king needed God to be his shield and because God shielded the king he was able to be a shield to his people from their many enemies.

This concept of God being our shield is also in 91verse 4 says,

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart”.

 Note how here the concept of God being our shield is spoken of in the context of the image of a bird shielding its chicks with its feathers as it pulls them under its wings close to him.

James tells us in James 4: 8,

“Come near to God and he will come near to you”.

Notice how this is linked with our protection from the evil one as the previous verse, verse, verse 7 says,

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”.

The saying goes; “Being in the center of God’s will is the safest place to be”.

 And being in the centre of God’s will is when we are close to God doing what he wants us to do.

  1. God bestows favor (grace) and honor

Right through this great psalm the theme of blessing and favor or grace has been cropping up. Blessing and favor comes from the very presence of God whose very nature is to show love and mercy. So it is not surprising that in the second last verse of this psalm we read,

“The Lord bestows favor and honor”

 Spurgeon changes these two things God bestows on those who walk close to him to grace and glory and writes,

“The Lord will give grace and glory, both in due time, both as needed, both to the full, both with absolute certainty. The Lord has both grace and glory in infinite abundance, Jesus is the fullness of both, and, as his chosen people, we shall receive both as a free gift from the God of our salvation”.

 Favor and honor or grace and glory might not seem much when we say those words quickly but once we realise what they are they open up the very flood -gates of God’s blessing in this life and the next.

Jesus boldly claimed this in John 10: 10,

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” or as other translations put it, “have life abundantly”.

 Many non- believers and critics of the Christian faith propound the idea that the Christian life and faith is a life of giving up things, of not having an interesting life of missing out on the joys of life. However nothing could be further from the truth as Jesus said, what he offers is a life to the full an abundant life.

Sure, I might not go out and drink myself silly at a pub or party, I might not take mind- altering drugs and get high and I might not have sexual affairs with many women but I do live a full and happy life. I do meet people from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds and have wonderful fellowship with them and I do get high or a buzz through the enjoyment of singing and making music with other likeminded believers.

These things I enjoy as a Christian come from one source the grace and glory of God himself made known to me through Jesus Christ. Made possible because Jesus, through the cross-made a way to the father for me to walk upon.

The writer to the Hebrews put it so well and so clear in Hebrews 12: 1 – 3,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart”.

Jesus from the very right hand of God now bestows his grace and glory to all true believers. This is why Jesus can say he gives us life and life abundantly. This is why the true Christian life is not a life of giving up but rather a life of taking up and enjoying his grace and glory.

  1. God gives us nothing but good things

After what we have just thought about when we understood what the writer of Psalm 84 verse 11 meant when he said,

“The Lord bestows favor and honor”

 It comes as no surprise that he adds,

“No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless”.

 As I have just pointed out this Psalm features the blessings God gives those who come close to him who live within his presence, who know Jesus in their life and who seek to go his way.

Stephen J. Cole points out an important condition to God not withholding any good thing, he writes,

“The promise of God not withholding any good thing is for those who walk uprightly. His blessing is on those who trust in him. To walk uprightly is to live before God with integrity. It does not imply perfection, but it does mean that you walk openly before God, confessing your sin”.

At the start of the Psalm I said that Blessedness could be translated as true happiness. Now the writer of psalm 84 says that God does not hold back any good thing from those who walk his way and I love the way the song I often sang with children in my former children and Youth working days, which says, “Happiness is the Lord”.

This song, “Happiness is the Lord” captures all the good things God gives us that make our lives truly happy or blessed.

 Happiness is to know the Savior
Living a life within His favor,
Having a change in my behavior
Happiness is the Lord

Happiness is a new creation
Jesus in me in close relation
Having a part in His salvation
Happiness is the Lord

Real joy is mine
No matter if teardrops start,
I’ve found the secret —
It’s Jesus in my heart!

Happiness is to be forgiven
Living the life that worth the living
Taking a trip that leads to heaven
Happiness is the Lord; Happiness is the Lord
Happiness is the Lord!

 God does not hold back any good thing from those who walk his way because all good is found only in him. Even the good things of the sun and rain that enriches the earth Jesus says in Matthew 5: 45,

“He (God) causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”.

Note here that God’s good things like sun and rain even are given to unbelievers. How much more good things then does he give to true believers?

In the very next chapter of Matthew Jesus says this in Matthew 6: 33 – 34,

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

“All these things”, here in Matthew 6 are all the things we need in this life that Jesus has just said so many people spend their waking hours of their lives worrying about. However put Jesus first, walk his way and he will supply these in abundance.

  1. vs.   12 The blessings of true faith in God

We come then to the last verse of this amazing psalm, which I think, is a great summary and conclusion to the Psalm, it says,

“O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you”

We have two key terms used a number of times in this Psalm,

“Lord Almighty” and “Blessed is the man”

These terms or words similar to them capture the essence of the Psalm along with the final words of the Psalm, “trusts in you”.

This is because first of all the writer of Psalm 84 had a high and powerful view of who his God is, he is God Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, the Lord or king of everything and everyone who gives those who trust in him his blessings.

I like Stephen J Coles conclusion to his treatment of this Psalm, he writes,

“Don’t believe Satan’s lie that following God is a drag. Following the Lord is the most blessed life possible. The many pleasures that the Lord gives to satisfy your soul should fuel your desire to be in His presence, both individually and when His people gather to worship him”.

I started this Psalm talk with my somewhat disappointment of my visits to large Christian Cathedrals in Europe a few years ago. I said that they left me cold and somewhat disturbed, as they seemed to have become large religious museums. However I have realised during my study of this Psalm that maybe the reason I found these Cathedrals cold and disturbing was because I was visiting them as a tourist not as a participant. Maybe some of these great buildings have congregations who meet in them seeking to trust in the Lord and worship him and then those buildings become as any other Christian meeting place can become a place where we gain a greater sense of the presence of God as we come together in the name and the glory of his son Jesus Christ to find his way and experience his blessing and favor together.

I close as usual with an original poem and prayer:

 INTO YOUR PRESENCE I COME OH LORD

(Based on Psalm 84)

 How lovely O Lord

Is your dwelling place.

How beautiful is your home

O Lord, where you dwell

Far from the path I roam.

 

Chorus:

 

So into your presence I come O Lord

Oh God the almighty above

Seeking your favor and glory O Lord

Found in the gift of your love.

 

My soul yearns and faints to be in

The courts of the Lord

My heart and my flesh cry out for love

From the living God

Who lives high on his throne above.

 

Chorus:

 

I want to be close Oh Lord

Like the angels who live in your home.

So blessed are the ones

Who praise you Oh Lord

And seek to travel on the path to your home.

 

Chorus:

 

It seems hard sometimes as I walk

On the path of the Lord.

But Jesus refreshes me with his power

Walking with him every hour

Giving me his love and word.

 

Chorus:

 

Better one- day Oh lord with you

Than a thousand days without your love

Be my sun and shield Oh God

Who bestows grace and glory

To those who seek the path to God above.

 

Chorus:

 

So into your presence I come O Lord

Oh God the almighty above

Seeking your favor and glory O Lord

Found in the gift of your love.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

Father in heaven I pay that as I seek to come close to you, you will come close to me. Thank you that you sent your Son to make a way to you through his death for my sins on the cross. Help me to go your way in my life and not stray from the path you have made for me to walk upon. May I one day join the angels and those who through death have gone before me to forever sing your praise in your presence in your glorious home in heaven above. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

PSALM 83 TALK: WE SHALL OVERCOME – VICTORY FOR GOD’S KINGDOM

PSALM 83 TALK: WE SHALL OVERCOME – VICTORY FOR GOD’S KINGDOM

 (A Psalm that explores the horrific spiritual battle waged against God and his Kingdom (all his true followers) and the wonderful message that one -day God and his Kingdom will have total victory of all evil forces)

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

INTRODUCTION

 We shall overcome

We shall over come

We shall overcome some day

Oh, deep in my heart

I do believe

We shall overcome some day.

So goes the first verse of the famous civil rights movement anthem of the 1950’s and 60’s in the United States of America. A lady by the name of Wendy Schuman published this song in an organizations Bulletin called “People Songs” that Pete Seeger was director of at the time. Pete Seeger started singing this song in the early 1950’s and by 1959 it had become associated with the then growing civil rights movement.

Interestingly the song is believed to have been originally written as a Christian hymn in the 1930’s called, “If my Jesus Wills” and its lyrics included the words,

I’ll overcome, I’ll overcome

I’ll overcome Someday

If my Jesus Wills, I do believe,

I’ll overcome someday.

This song and the hymn are is appropriate for many Christians today who are facing in many parts of the world horrific persecution just for believing in Jesus. Many are being locked up and some even killed for their faith in Christ. I read only this week of 20 or so Christians who were killed by ISIS in Syria after they burned down their church.

The New Testament makes it clear that before Christ returns to this world their will be persecution and strife in this world (Matthew 24: 9 – 14) and this is a result of the great spiritual battle that we are constantly involved in that is a battle between God and his Kingdom and all the forces of evil that oppose his rule in heaven and on earth, Ephesians 6: 12,

“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”.

In the midst of even the worse of this fierce battle we, like the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s can sing,

We shall overcome

We shall over come

We shall overcome some day

Oh, deep in my heart

I do believe

We shall overcome some day.

We can sing this confidently because God’s word promises that there is a day coming when God and his Kingdom will overthrow totally all the evil forces that oppose him and after they are destroyed forever we will have total victory, Revelation 20: 11 – 15,

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire”.

The next chapter of Revelation then speaks of the great hope for all who belong to God’s Kingdom and how in God’s post judgment their will be no more tears, death and mourning for those in God’s great kingdom meaning we shall overcome on that great day.

Psalm 83 is a Psalm of Asaph, the last Asaph Psalm in the book of Psalms, which prays for the destruction of a great and powerful federation of anti – God kingdoms who were seeking to destroy God’s special nation or Kingdom of Israel. He is literally praying that Israel through God’s judgment of their enemies will be able to overcome what seems to be a certain day of destruction.

There is a strong possibility that we know who the actual original composer of this Psalm is and the events that led to his writing of the original Psalm. In the time of king Jehoshaphat who reigned as king of Judah from 873 – 849 we read in 2 Chronicles 20 the story of a combined attack on Judah led by three of the eight nations mentioned in verses 6 – 8 in this Psalm. Even though the other five nations are not mentioned in the Psalm it is possible that they provided support in a smaller way to this combined confederacy that sought to eradicate God’s Kingdom of Judah from the earth forever.

A key person in the story of this great attack upon Judah is a descendant of Asaph named Jahaziel (2 Chronicles 20: 14) and God inspired him to prophecy that God himself would defeat this great army coming down on Judah and Jerusalem.

The three key nations that 2 Chronicles 20 speak of are Edom, Moab and the Ammon seem to be the leaders of this combined attack and the role of Jahaziel, a direct descendant of Asaph could mean that he too was inspired by God to write Psalm 83 around the same time.

We cannot say this for certain and I will discuss in the second part of the first section of this Psalm some other problems to this theory of the authorship of this Psalm.

So I hope we will learn from this Psalm that God has a plan for all Christian that will lead us to total victory over all evil forces.

However I hope we will also learn that it is God and God alone who will bring about this great judgment on all evil forces. Just as in the days of Jehoshaphat,Judah did not fight the battle against the combined evil forces of their day but rather God caused confusion and panic in the enemies armies and they ended up destroying each other.

With this in mind my breakdown for this Psalm is:

  1. 1 – 8  THE PLOT AGAINST GOD’S KINGDOM
  1. Vs. 1    A prayer for God the king to act
  2. 2 – 8  The evil plot to destroy God’s kingdom
  1. 9 – 16 DESTROY THE ENEMIES OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
  1. 9 – 12 Act God as you did in the past
  2. 13 – 11 Destroy and defeat the enemies of the kingdom
  1. 17 – 18 GOD THE KING REVEALED
  1. vs. 17   Defeat the enemies of the kingdom
  2. vs. 18   Show everyone that our God reigns
  1. 1 – 8  THE PLOT AGAINST GOD’S KINGDOM

The Psalm is set in the form of a prayer, which also is considered to be a national lament, or complaint and this is a typical style of Psalm we have seen already in the Psalms of Asaph, like Psalms 74, 77, 79 and 80.

I have broken the first section of this prayer into two parts:

  1. Vs. 1     A prayer for God the king to act
  2. 2 – 8   The evil plot to destroy God’s kingdom

 So lets look at the first part of this first section of this national prayer:

  1. Vs. 1     A prayer for God the king to act

The Psalm starts with the prayer being offered to God who the writer pictures as silent or inactive at a time when his people are in great danger, he writes,

“O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still”.

 Tremper Longman 111 writes,

“God has not made his presence known, but the psalmist prayer intends to change God’s stance by drawing his attention to the threatening plots of those who want to destroy God’s people”.

 Alan Harman adds,

“The greatest danger does not lie with the enemies but that God will remain a silent onlooker”.

 Psalm 121 verse 4 says,

“Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep”.

 God is not sleeping on the job as Psalm 121 vs. 4 says, no he is watching and indeed listening but at the time the prayer was spoken he was not yet acting.

This is an important practical piece of teaching for all of us on prayer. My mission friend Ted Penney uses a simple but practical illustration on how God answers prayer. He uses the illustration of the traffic lights to answer the question of how does God answer prayer.

The traffic light red, says that sometimes God says no to our prayer requests. God would have a variety of reasons for saying no and the famous one that comes to mind is the prayer Paul would have prayed in Acts 16: 6 – 10, where God says no to Paul’s attempts to preach the Gospel in the Asia minor area and was stopped and God led him and his missionary team to Macedonia.

Gotquestions?org says this about prayer,

“Keep in mind that prayer is not our way of getting God to do what we want. Our prayers should be focused on things that honor and glorify God and reflect what the Bible clearly reveals God’s will to be (Luke 11:2). If we pray for something that dishonors God or is not His will for us, He is unlikely to give what we ask for. God’s wisdom far exceeds our own, and we must trust that His answers to our prayers are the best possible solutions”.

The traffic light green stands for yes. This means God answers our prayers and gives us what we ask for and my experience is that sometimes it is even more than we ask for. We all can site verses in the New Testament that speak of this, like Ephesians 3: 20 – 21,

 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”.

The third traffic light is yellow which means wait or in Australia be prepared to stop. This is what is happening in Psalm 83 verse 1, wait for my answer, I am not going to answer this just yet but I want you to be patient and wait. Gotquestions?org says this about God’s answer of wait to our prayers,

“Sometimes hearing “wait” is even harder than hearing “no” because it means we have to be patient (Romans 8:25). While waiting is difficult, we can be thankful God is in control and trust that His timing will be perfect (Romans 12:12; Psalm 37:7—9)”.

 I have spoken much more about waiting on God in my Psalm Talk on Psalm 37 if you’re interested. For now all I will just say is that in the context of Psalm 83, waiting meant waiting on a answer to God as a powerful and large combined army sat outside of your country or even had entered your country and yet God seemed inactive and you are simply forced to wait on him to act.

Waiting tests out our faith and helps to prove we are really trusting in God and not just turning to God as a form of vain hope in a difficult situation.

Waiting can include having to endure some form of suffering and Peter says this about this kind of waiting in 1 Peter 1: 6 – 7,

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed”.

  1. 2 – 8   The evil plot to destroy God’s kingdom

So the psalmist prays for God to act on behalf of his people and he now tells God in his prayer why he needs God to act and act quickly if this Psalm or prayer originally set in the time of Jehoshaphat when the combined armies of at least 3 nations, maybe more is bearing down on Judah and Jerusalem.

I see two parts to this explanation of why the psalmist needs God to act and act quickly:

  1. The conspiracy to destroy God’s people (2 – 4)
  2. The plot and the plotters who want to destroy God’s people (5 – 8)

So lets have a look at each of these issues that caused the psalmist to want God to act and act quickly for his people.

  1. The conspiracy to destroy God’s people (3- 4)

All through the Psalms of books one and two I discovered that a major theme was the struggle of God’s anointed King and his followers against the combined attack of those outside and within Israel who chose to oppose the true God of Heaven and earth and his appointed king.

This theme was first stated in Psalm 2: 1 – 2,

“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain.The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,“Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”

 This theme has not appeared again in book three so far but makes a big re-appearance here in Psalm 83: 2 – 4,

“See how your enemies growl, how your foes rear their heads.With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish.“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

 The anointed king is now “your people” the nation of Israel but this is the same thing as the anointed king and his followers. In New Testament terms “God’s people” or even “The Nation of Israel” is replaced with all those who follow God’s great king Jesus Christ. As Paul declares in Galatians 3: 26 – 29,

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”.

Later in Galatians 6: 16 Paul even calls the church the Israel of God,

“Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God”.

Jesus keeps the King and Kingdom idea of Psalm 2 as part of his main message during his earthly ministry. His true followers are part of the Kingdom of God or in other places The Kingdom of Heaven, as we see in Mark 1: 15, in Jesus basic message,

“The time has come, he said. ‘The Kingdom of God is near, Repent and believe the good news”.

Jesus presented much teaching in the form of parables about who really is part of the Kingdom of Heaven or God and he said to the Pharisee Nicodemus in John 3: 3,

“I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again”.

So the message of Psalm 83 about the enemies of God ganging up on God’s people relates to us if we are followers of the true King of God, Jesus Christ.

Verse 2 of Psalm 83 speaks of how these combined enemies of God and his people are on the prowl in an arrogant and full of self pride sort of way,

“See how your enemies growl, how your foes rear their heads”.

Allan Harman says,

“Rearing their heads a description of pride and boldness”.

 Then in verse 3 we read about there anti – God and his people conspiracy,

“With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish”.

Spurgeon eloquently expresses the truth of this verse making application to us at the same time with these words,

“Whatever we may do, our enemies use their wits and lay their heads together, in united conclave they discourse the demands and plans of the campaign, using much treachery and serpentine cunning in arranging their schemes”.

All opposition to God and his people one way or another comes from one source, Satan the prince of all evil and Peter calls Satan a roaring lion, very dangerous and vicious and gives us good advise in 1 Peter 5: 8 – 9,

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings”.

James adds to this advice with, James 4: 7,

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”.

Finally the writer of Psalm 83 tells us of this conspiracies combined intent in verse 4,

“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

The idea of national genocide is sadly part and parcel of the ancient world and many thriving and seemingly successful cultures were wiped out by the nations and cultures that conquered them. I have always been fascinated with the ancient Nation and culture called Carthage, which almost brought the Roman empire to its knees when it, led by its main general, Hannibal attacked Italy itself in a long and seemingly successful campaign but Hannibal failed to take Rome and in 203BC he had to return to Carthage to help to defend it.

The Romans finally defeated the Carthage Nation in 146BC and completely destroyed it as many Nations had been over the course of human history. So the intent of this confederation of Nations to wipe out Israel, God’s people so that they be,

“Remembered no more”

Was a very real threat, as we no longer have the Nation and culture of Carthage and hundreds of others who suffered the same fate this confederation was plotting to do to Israel at that time.

It is actually a miracle of God that the Jewish culture and nation still exists when you consider how small the nation of Israel and later Judah was in ancient and even modern times.

The Christian church even more so is a miracle of God as it grew from a very small group of men and women into a mighty and powerful faith. Many times throughout history it to has faced powerful forces like the Muslim hordes in the middle ages and even the Roman Catholic attack on the reformed faith in the 15th and 16th centuries who sought to wipe from the face on the earth biblical Christianity.

Jesus made it clear to Peter once he made the famous statement of who Jesus is Jesus said upon this and Peter himself he would build his church and the gates of hell or Hades itself would not prevail against it, Matthew 16: 16 – 17,

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”.

 Even in my own time of living I witnessed the attack on Christianity by communism that in Russia and China a vicious campaign to eradicate Christianity and the Christian church failed and instead of wiping it out in those countries it has never been stronger.

  1. The plot and the plotters who want to destroy God’s people (5 – 8)

Then in verses 5 – 8 we have an even more specific description of the plot and the plotters to wipe out God and his people or Kingdom from the face of the earth. We read,

“With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you—
the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, of Moab and the Hagrites,Byblos, Ammon and Amalek, Philistia, with the people of Tyre. Even Assyria has joined them to reinforce Lot’s descendants”,

First we see in the opening verse of this part of the Psalm the unity of this plot,

“With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you’.

Leopold points out,

“Evil as well as good purposes may on occasion bind men together very firmly”.

Here obviously evil is their intent and bound together they will seek to destroy the Nation of Israel represented in King Jehoshaphat time as Judah where God’s anointed King who is of the line of David reigned. Psalm 2 verses 1 – 3 seems to be an echo of this verse,

“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain.The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,“Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”

 Note how verse 3 here speaks of the deeper spiritual reason for this conspiring together to bring down God and his people represented in his chosen anointed king, they want to,

“Break their chains and throw off their shackles.”

 These people of Judah represent the so-called one true God of Heaven and earth, the King of Kings so to speak but the opposing nations don’t wont to be under his rule, as they want to rule in his place. This is what lies at the heart of all sin, rebellion and Paul speak about this in Romans 1: 21 – 23,

“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. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles”.

Today people without Christ in their lives don’t make images of mortal men, birds and reptiles to worship but instead they worship themselves or their so called modern and advanced thinking. Others turn their own bodies into the object of their worship or they worship material things instead of the one true God who made heaven and earth.

So this conspiracy of Nations that are now plotting together is named in Psalm 83 : 6 – 8.

“6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, of Moab and the Hagrites,Byblos, Ammon and Amalek, Philistia, with the people of Tyre. Even Assyria has joined them to reinforce Lot’s descendants”,

 Interestingly all of these 9 Nations mentioned in these three verses represent all of the traditional enemies up to the fall of the Northern Kingdom with the final mention of Assyria, which attacked and brought down the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

It does not mention however the Babylonians, which points to this Psalm, being written before the rise of the all-conquering Babylonians.

Also Leopold goes to great pains to point out how each of the nations mentioned here make Judah completely surrounded by hostile deadly enemies.

He points out that Edom is directly south of the red sea, Ishmaelites are East of Jordon River, Moabites east of the dead sea, Hog rites North east of Judah, Gebal north of Edom, Ammon east, Amalek south east, Philistia on the coast to the west of Judah and finally Assyria to the far North. Assyria was probably only a much smaller power when the nations, Moab and Amon, the descendants of Lot (Genesis 19) attacked Judah in the time of Jehoshaphat.

James Coffman offers another solution to the problem of pinpointing a historical time for the writing of this Psalm,

“The enumeration here is not historical, but poetic idealization. The psalm would then be, not the memorial of a fact, but the expression of the standing relation between Israel and the outlying heathendom”.

 However the Nations not mentioned in 2 Chronicles 20 that are listed here as co- conspirators could have offered their support without actually been directly involved in the military operation which was undertaken by the principle nations of Edom, Moab and Ammon.

Also even though the events of 2 Chronicles 20 could have been the actual initial inspiration of the Psalm, later editing of it up to the time of the Assyrian invasion of the Northern Kingdom could have included other nations to turn the Psalm as Coffman suggests into a,

“Expression of the standing relation between Israel and the outlying heathendom”.

 The Psalms I believe always started their lives anchored in a real historic experience of the original writer but they were always developed for general use and application for time immemorial and Leupold says that the general use of this Psalm was,

“A normal prayer of endangered people”

 This ends the first section of the Psalm and we might say that the picture here of the endangered people depicted is one that needed God’s mighty power to be able to say, “We shall overcome”.

  1. 9 – 16   DESTROY THE ENEMIES OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

 We now enter the section of the Psalm that is what is known as an imprecatory prayer or a prayer for God’s judgment to come on the enemies of the nation and God. This is something I have written on extensively in my Psalm talks because these types of prayers come up a lot in the book of Psalms.

As I have already indicated in my comments on verse 3, the ancient world is littered with genocidal destruction of nations and cultures.

This confederation of nations aim was to wipe out Israel and its God centered culture from the face of the earth. So the times that the Psalms were originally written were times when God’s people faced large, ruthless powerful enemies set on destroying them.

I have pointed before to the teaching of Jesus in the New Testament about how he wants us to pray for our enemies and to love them as recorded in Matthew 5: 43 – 44,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

In this passage in Matthew, Jesus goes on to say why we must do this, Matthew 5: 45 – 47,

That you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”

 Note how Jesus says that when we do this we are following the lead of God in heaven who shows grace and love to this fallen world, which is in rebellion to him. Also he indicates that the way we stand out from the rest of humanity is by the way we love not by the way we hate.

Finally I must also say that our loving our enemies does not change another biblical fact and that is God’s Judgment is coming on those who oppose him as king of everything and who also oppose his kingdom or his followers on earth. Psalm 83 is focusing on God’s coming judgment and I wont you to note that even in Psalm 83’s imprecatory prayer God is the agent of judgment not his people.

There is no place for Christian Jihad or Holy War in the Christian faith based on the teachings of Jesus and the rest of the New Testament. Paul makes this clear in Romans 2: 1 – 4,

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

I have broken this second section into two parts:

  1. 9 – 12   Act God as you did in the past
  2. 13 – 11 Destroy and defeat the enemies of the kingdom

 Lets have a closer look than at each of these two parts of this second section.

  1. 9 – 12   Act God as you did in the past

In verses 9 – 12 Asaph imprecatory prayer or judgment prayer for God’s enemies looks back to the time of judges when God judged other nations who sought then to overwhelm and destroy God’s people, Israel.

He actually sights two examples of God’s judgment on invading enemies in the book of Judges:

  1. God’s judgment in the time of Deborah as judge (vs. 9b and 10)
  2. God’s judgment in the time of Gideon as judge (vs. 9a 11 and 12)

Lets have a closer look at each of these former judgments of God in invading enemies.

  1. God’s judgment in the time of Deborah as judge (vs. 9b and 10)

Asaph looks back to the time of the Judges and in verse 9b he raises the case of God’s judgment in invading enemies in the time of Deborah, which he explains further in verse 10,

As you did with Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon. Who persished at Endor and became like refuse on the ground”.

 This is a reference to the story of God’s judgment on invading enemies recorded in Judges 4 and 5. The story of the utter defeat of Jabin, the Canaanite king who ruled ruthlessly over the people of Israel is in Judges 4 and Jabin suffered defeat near the river known as Kishon which Deborah mentions in her victory song, Judges 5: 21,

“The river Kishon swept them away, the age – old river Kishon. March on, my soul; be strong”.

 Jabin’s general was Sisera who’s army was defeated and all were killed in battle except Sisera who escaped on foot, Judges 4: 16 – 17,

Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera’s troops fell by the sword; not a man was left. 17 Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite”.

Barak is Deborah’s general and Sisera suffers a further and final humiliation in his death when another women defeats him when Heber’s wife, Jael drives a tent peg through his scull while he slept in her tent, Judges 4: 21,

“But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died”.

The expression at the end of verse 10,

“And became like refuse on the ground”.

Could be translated dung or human excrement and this awful image is explained well by these words by Tremper Longman 111,

“A stinking pile of refuse that would ultimately fade away”.

 That is the destiny of those who seek to bring down God and his Kingdom as Samuel proclaims in his mother Hannah’s prayer recorded in 1 Samuel 2: 10,

“Those who oppose the Lord will be broken. The Most High will thunder from heaven; the Lord will judge the ends of the earth”.

  1. God’s judgment in the time of Gideon as judge (vs. 9a 11 and 12)

Asaph then looks at another judgment of an invading nation in the book of Judges and this time it is in the time of the judge Gideon recorded in Judges 7 and 8 and found in this Psalm in the first part of verse 9 and expanded upon in verses 11 and 12.

“Do to them as you did to Midian”.

 “Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna, who said, “Let us take possession of the pasturelands of God”.

 Barnes explains the significance of verse 11 and 12,

“Make their nobles like Oreb and like Zeeb – These were princes or rulers of the Midianites, slain by Gideon, the one on the rock Oreb, and the other at the wine-press of Zeeb”.

 I found one very interesting verse when reading through the account of Gideon’s defeat of the Midianites in Judges 7 and 8 and it is Judges 7: 22,

“When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath”.

The way Gideon victory over the Midianites is described here is very similar to the victory Jehoshaphat has over the federation of three enemies in 2 Chronicles 20: 22 – 23,

“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another”.

So maybe the original prayer here of

“Do to them as you did to Midian”.

Was answered by God just as Asaph first prayed for it to happen?

The image of verse 12,

“ Let us take possession of the pastureland of God”

Is explained well by James Coffman,

“This is difficult to understand because God had only one habitation in Israel, at the location of the tabernacle or the Temple. Perhaps the enemy by this intention were thinking of all the dwellings of the Jews in Israel. The language of this verse should not be understood as the words of Oreb, Zeeb, Zebah and Zalmunna, but as the arrogant boast of the enemies mentioned in Psalm 83: 6 – 8”.

Paul makes it clear that our strength in the great spiritual battle does not come from ourselves but it comes from the strength of the Lord, Ephesians 6: 10,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power”.

We must fight with both his protection and his weapons, which the rest of the Ephesians 6 passage sets out so beautifully, and then Paul concludes this with the importance of prayer in verse 18,

“And 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. 13 – 11 Destroy and defeat the enemies of the kingdom

 Asaph then uses 5 graphic poetic images to describe what he wants God to do to the invading enemies of the Kingdom:

  1. Make them like tumbleweed vs. 13a
  2. Make them like chaff vs. 13b
  3. Make them like fire vs. 14
  4. Make them like a storm vs. 15
  5. Cover their faces with shame vs. 16

Lets look a little closer at each of these graphic poetic images.

  1. Make them like tumbleweed vs. 13a

Verse 13a says,

“Make them like tumbleweed, O God”,

Spurgeon eloquently explains this image with these words,

“Like a rolling thing, which cannot rest, but is made to move with every breath. Let them have no quiet. May their minds eternally revolve and never come to peace”.

 I’ve seen movies and documentaries that show the large North American version of these tumbleweeds and they seem to blow through deserted towns totally controlled by the force of the wind.

This is a picture of both powerlessness and hopelessness and the high and mighty of this world who both now and in the past have willfully tormented God’s faithful people will all one day be caught up in the wind of God’s judgment that will blow them eternally away from God and all that is good that come through him and they will be powerless to stop it.

  1. Make them like chaff vs. 13b

Verse 13b says,

“Like chaff before the wind”

 Psalm 1 describes the wicked, those who oppose God this way in verses 4 and 5,

“They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, sinners in the assembly of the righteous”.

Spurgeon again pins down what the Asaph wants God to do,

“Blow them away like thistle down, as the stubble before the wind. Scatter them, chase them, drive them to destruction”.

 This image of chaff would have been a powerful image for people living in the ancient world of the middle east as every harvest time crops like wheat and barley were threshed and chaff was the part of the crop that was useless and was simply left to be blown away by the wind.

The three nations who combined to attack Judah at the time of King Jehoshaphat were killed or scattered by God’s intervention in judgment on them.

The other way of dealing with chaff was to gather it up and burn it and John the Baptist speaks Jesus work on the day of judgment in these terms in Matthew 3: 12,

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

  1. Make them like fire vs. 14

Verse 14 reads like this,

“As fire consumes the forest or a flame sets the mountains ablaze”

 In the part of Australia where I live every summer we often fear the coming of what we call a “Bush fire” and they are really scary things. A bush fire with a powerful wind behind it is usually unstoppable and only rain or sometimes careful back burning can bring them to a halt.

So the image of a large forest fire is a powerful image for what Asaph wants God to do to this great combined army that is bearing down on them. The army is like a forest fire approaching but Asaph wants this enemy to become the fire that consumes them and drives them away.

The image of fire is often used to describe the Day of Judgment as the writer to the Hebrews puts it in Hebrews 10: 27,

“A fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God”.

 An image made even more real by the Book of Revelations Lake of fire,

“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire”.

  1. Make them like a storm vs. 15

Asaph wants God then to, verse 15,

“Pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your storm”.

The image here is of a mighty and powerful storm pursuing them and at the same time terrifying them. Spurgeon writes,

“The Lord will follow up his enemies, alarm them, and chase them till they are put to a hopeless rout”.

This is what actually happened to the armies of the three nations in the time of King Jehoshaphat. Not that a physical storm came on them but God caused some kind of confusion and panic on them as the army of Jehoshaphat approached singing praises to the Lord, 2 Chronicles 20: 22 – 24,

“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

 24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped”.

The storm of God’s judgment blew against them and they were powerless to stop it and they all perished. In Psalm 29 God’s voice is pictured as a great and powerful thunderstorm and verses 3 – 9, describe God’s voice this way,

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox.The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

 For an in depth understanding of this Psalm please look up my Psalm 29 talk on my Psalm Talks web site (www.jimwenman.wordpress.com), this site.

God’s judgment will come one day like a sudden and violent thunderstorm and when it will pursue and terrify everyone. Jesus gave warning to this on a number of occasions in his earthly ministry, like Matthew 24: 42 – 44,

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him”.

  1. Cover their faces with shame vs. 16

The final graphic poetic picture of God’s coming judgment is in verse 16, which says,

“Cover their faces with shame so that men will seek your name, O Lord”.

 Asaph now presents a positive outcome of this terrible coming judgment on the enemies he saw amassing against the people of Judah, God’s chosen people and that was the shame of God’s judgment on these enemies and this will cause others to seek the Lord. He actually says will seek the Lords name, which simply is God’s character, as we know from the bible.

Albert Barnes explains what is being prayed here,

“The prayer here is, that their enemies might be so baffled in their designs – that they might be made so to feel how vain and hopeless were all their plans – that there might be such a manifest interposition of God in the case, as that they should be led to see that Yahweh reigned; that it was in vain to contend with him, and that his people were under his protection”.

 God’s acts of Salvation for his people which come from his expressed character of love has always been used as a way of helping non believers to stop and consider him and even for some it has led them to seek out the God of the bible.

Paul taught clearly that God uses all things for good, Romans 8:28,

“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”.

 So when God allows a person to suffer difficulty and pain which is often a result of their sins then maybe that could be used to cause them to seek God’s help and therefore use their shame and pain to seek for God.

Or maybe the way a Christian or a group of Christians, deal with their suffering helps non believers who witness that to seek out the God they believe in. Peter gives us the best advice on how we are to witness for Christ even when we are being persecuted in 1 Peter 3: 15 – 16,

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”.

 We witness then through the way God helps us to over- come even by the problems and difficulties our enemies might cause us.

  1. 17 – 18 GOD THE KING REVEALED

 We come then to the final two verses of this desperate prayer we believe was probably first prayed by a ancestor of Asaph named Jahaziel during the reign of King Jehoshaphat when three nations ganged up on Judah, God’s chosen people to attack them and wipe them off from the face of the earth.

I have made each verse a separate part of this third and last section of the Psalm:

  1. vs. 17   Defeat the enemies of the kingdom
  2. vs. 18   Show everyone that our God reigns

 These two verses are a good summary of what this descendant of Asaph is praying for. He wants the enemies of the Kingdom of God defeated by God (vs. 17) and he wants everyone in the world to know that because of this the God of the bible is the God who reigns as the king of everything and everyone (vs. 18).

Lets have a closer look at these two verses:

  1. vs. 17   Defeat the enemies of the kingdom

We see in verse 17 the first thing Asaph is asking God for,

“May they be ashamed and dismayed; may they perish in disgrace”.

 The choice was simple, either God acted on his people’s behalf and defeated the federation of nations attempting to attack them or the federation of nations went unchecked and wiped Israel or we believe Judah off the face of the earth.

Asaph wants these arrogant and cock sure enemies (as verse 2 describes them) put to shame or brought down and frustrated in their wilful attack of the Kingdom of God.

Today many people treat Christians as fools they say we are weak silly people who believe in myths and legends. Some atheists even say we are dangerous because of our miss- guided beliefs. This means Christians and churches today are under attack by many people in our society. These enemies of the Kingdom of God are often arrogant and nasty people who will use any weapon even lies to bring down the Kingdom of God.

One-day God’s judgment will fall on these arrogant God haters and then they will be put to shame and there self righteous smiles will be turned into what Jesus called the gnashing of teeth, as Jesus declares in Matthew 13: 41 – 42,

“The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.

 Spurgeon writes,

“What a terrible doom it will be to the enemies of God to be confounded, and troubled for ever, to see all their schemes and hopes defeated, and their bodies and souls full of anguish without end: from such a shameful perishing may our souls be delivered”.

 Again Peter’s advice on how we are to handle any kind of Christian opposition I shared in the last section is the best advice we can get, 1 Peter 3: 15 – 16,

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”.

  1. vs. 18   Show everyone that our God reigns

Finally the second thing Asaph is praying for in his desperate prayer concerning the federation of nations who are planning to attack God’s people is in verse 18,

“Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord – that you alone are the Most High over all the earth”.

 This verse follows up on he thought in verse 16 that said,

“So that men will seek your name, O Lord”.

 As I said then the name of God represents the bibles expressed character of God, which is a different expressed character of God than all other religions in our world. The principal difference of the God of the bible is that besides being a God of justice and judgment he is also a God of love.

When God came close to Moses on Mount Sinai we read this in Exodus 33: 18 – 20,

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

 19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

 Note how God is pictured here, as a God of mercy and compassion and that he is sovereign in how he chooses to show that mercy or love.

God is therefore the sovereign king of all the earth as Asaph puts it in verse 18, he is,

“The most high”

 This term, “The most high” is also in the previous Psalm, Psalm 82 verse 6 and many believe forms a link between these two Psalms. Spurgeon explains,

“Jehovah is essentially the Most High. He who is self existent is infinitivally above all creatures, all the earth is his footstool”

 So Asaph wants the world to know through his God’s victory over the invading federation of Nations on God’s people that the God of the bible reigns. He reigns in heaven and on earth.

Jesus taught us to pray with the words of what we now call The Lords prayer and the opening thoughts of that prayer are, Matthew 6: 9 – 10,

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”.

 Jesus wants us to pray for the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. Once the reign of God does come in the second coming of Jesus, when he judges all people then we can fully sing,

We shall overcome

We shall over come

We shall overcome some day

Oh, deep in my heart

I do believe

We shall overcome some day.

Unto then we can continue to pray and work towards the coming of the Kingdom of God to this earth through the preaching of the Gospel and we can see victories for God and also sing, “We shall overcome”.

I close this Psalm talk as usual with a poem and a prayer,

VICTORY FOR GOD’S KINGDOM (Based on Psalm 83)

 Oh God I pray don’t be silent

Oh God I pray that you will act

To give us victory over evil forces

To turn the tide of evil back.

 

Chorus:

Victory for God’s Kingdom

May Jesus reign supreme

Victory for God’s Kingdom

May more people praise his name.

 

With cunning wicked forces strike

The church of Christ on earth

Satan plots to bring us down

May your Kingdom show its worth.

 

Chorus:

 

Evil forces plot and plan

To wipe God’s people out

Help us now to stand for God

And spread God’s word about.

 

Chorus:

 

Make all evil blow like chaff

May it be burnt up in judgment.

May God pursue the wicked down

And cause some to repent.

 

Chorus:

 

We long to overcome Satan

Who attacks our lives Oh Lord.

So reign on earth Oh God most high

And help us proclaim your word.

 

Chorus:

Victory for God’s Kingdom

May Jesus reign supreme

Victory for God’s Kingdom

May more people praise his name.

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 Dear Father in heaven help us in the fight against sin and the forces of evil in this world may you be our strength Oh Lord in this great battle. Help us to see that one day we will overcome when your Son comes again to judge this world and take us home with him. Unto that great day may we spread your word throughout this world and proclaim your Kingdom’s come repent and believe the Gospel. In Jesus name we pray Amen.