PSALM 91 TALK: GOD IS OUR PROTECTOR IN THE BATTLES OF LIFE

PSALM 91 TALK: GOD IS OUR PROTECTOR IN THE BATTLES OF LIFE

 (A psalm that uses the images of ancient battles to convey the truth that if we trust in the God of the bible he will protect us and save us in our life’s battles.)

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

INTRODUCTION

George Vinell served as Bombardier in the Royal Artillery in the First World War. On 17th of July 1915, George was sleeping in his units sleeping compartment when he was awakened by the loud noise of a German shell exploding close to him.

George got up quickly slipped on his jacket and then as more shells exploded close to him threw himself to the floor. Then he got up and ran to a trench and waited for the bombardment to stop.

After the shelling stopped George returned to the now wrecked sleeping compartment to find ten of his unit dead and shell fragments shot through his pillow where he had rested his head and evidence of shell fragments on the ground where he had laid when the shelling started. Then he noticed that a shell fragment had struck his jacket but had not penetrated his body as the fragment had hit a bible he had in the top pocket of his jacket.

After examining the bible, which had protected his heart, as that is where the shell fragment would have ended up he noticed the shell fragment had stopped in the middle of his bible at Isaiah 49: 8, which reads in the King James Version as,

“Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages”.

George soon wrote to his mum and reminded her of a previous letter he had written to her in which he had expressed how he felt, “Safe in the hands of God” and now he was able to tell her how God had saved his life by using his bible and how he continued to trust in God for his protection while he fought for his country in the war.

Of course many believers would have perished on the battle fields of the first world war and all we can say is that it was God’s timing for their passing into eternal life with him. However George Vinell found in that same terrible conflict that God can and does help us even in miraculous ways to be protect and save us even in this life if we truly trust in him.

Tremper Longman 111 points out that Psalm 91 seems to be a Psalm that was probably written by a priest addressing his congregation saying,

“God is with them and will protect them from trouble”. Tremper goes on to point out that in Psalm 91,

“The trouble appears to be military, and so the congregation is likely the army, who face dangers in battle as well as from disease in the war camp”.

This explanation of the general origin of the Psalm explains beautifully why so much of the imagery used in the Psalm has a military connection. Of course I believe this Psalm like most of the Psalms has powerful spiritual applications.

The apostle Paul made it clear a number of times of how we, as believers are involved in a great spiritual battle, as he writes in Ephesians 6: 10 – 13,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand, stand firm then”.

Temper Longman 111, sums up this spiritual application of this Psalm this way,

“Christians can pray Psalm 91, knowing that God is with them in the spiritual battle of this life and that in Christ, God will give them eternal life”.

 Other theories of the origin of this Psalm are that David wrote it and the Jewish Targum makes this claim. Many commentators suggest Moses and point to the facts that Psalm 91 follows Psalm 90, which we know from that Psalms heading was written by Moses and that many of the images and terms used in Psalm 91, are Moses like.

We cannot say for sure that Moses or even David wrote the Psalm as there is no Hebrew heading to tell us so and so their authorship is only speculation.

What we do know is that this Psalm has obvious military images and how once read from the perspective of The God of the bible offering his protection in the battles of life to all who truly trust in him opens up the Psalm in a wonderful way for me.

With this setting and application of the Psalm in mind my headings for the Psalm are:

  1. (1 – 2) TRUST IN GOD OUR MIGHTY PROTECTOR
  1. vs. 1   Dwelling and sheltering in God
  2. vs. 2   Trusting in God our refuge
  1. (3 – 8)   TRUST IN GOD OUR SAVIOR
  1. 3 – 7   Saved and protected in life’s battles
  2. 8 – 13   Saved and protected to see God at work
  1. (9 – 13) TRSUT IN GOD OUR ACTIVE PROTECTOR
  1. 9 – 10 God’s promise of protection
  2. 11 – 13 God’s promise of heavenly assistance
  1. (14 – 16)   TRUST IN GOD OUR SAVIOR AND PROTECTOR
  1. vs. 14   God saves those who love him
  2. 15 – 16 God promises salvation and protection to those who call on him
  1. (1 – 2) TRUST IN GOD OUR MIGHTY PROTECTOR

 This Psalm’s opening two verses seem to compliment the opening verse of the previous Psalm and Allan Harman points out that Psalm 90 also finishes a request for God’s favor to rest upon his people and then he points out that Psalm 91,

“Contains a multifaceted promise of God to believers”.

 He goes on to point out that Psalm 92 contains a right response to these promises. So the opening verses of Psalm 91 states clearly how God is his peoples mighty protector and I have broken this first section of the Psalm into two parts:

  1. vs. 1   Dwelling and sheltering in God
  2. vs. 2   Trusting in God our refuge

Lets have a close look at each of these two parts:

  1. vs. 1   Dwelling and sheltering in God

 The Psalm kicks of with two wonderful images of the protection believers have in the God of the bible. Both these two images have two ancient and powerful names of God going with them. The verse reads,

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty”.

The two images are:

  1. Dwelling in the Shelter
  2. Resting in the shadow

While the two ancient names of God are:

  1. Most High (Hebrew – “Elyon”)
  2. The Almighty (Hebrew – “Shadday”)

To get the full impact and meaning of this verse lets look closely at each of these four aspects of the verse 1.

  1. Dwelling in the Shelter

First of all, Dwelling in the shelter” is a reference in Old Testament terms to the inner sanctuary of the Temple as we read in Psalm 27: 5,

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon the rock”.

 Obviously the priest pronouncing these words to the congregation did not think they could all fit in the “shelter” or sanctuary but rather he is referring to the fact that the sanctuary represents God’s dwelling with his people and just as he promises to dwell with us represented by that sanctuary he wants us by faith to dwell with him and through that find shelter and protection.

David speak like this in Psalm 61: 4,

“I long to dwell in your tent (sanctuary) forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings”.

 It is an interesting fact that the precise symbolic dwelling place of God in the sanctuary is called the mercy seat, which sits between two winged angels called Cherubs. So the image of wings taken up in this Psalm also in verse 4 could be a reference to those winged angels found each side of the mercy seat.

So, I think, “Dwelling in the shelter” is an image of trusting in the God of the bible and through that we are engulfed by his divine protection.

The apostle John speaks about abiding in Christ and I like how he speaks of this in 1 John 4: 12,

“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete”.

 Maybe John is remembering what he wrote down in his Gospel that Jesus said about remaining or abiding in him in John 15: 7 – 8,

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples”.

So if we trust in Jesus and seek to be in him, he promises to be in us and help us giving us answers to our prayers in all situations and at all times meaning that God through Jesus is our protector.

  1. Resting in the shadow

The second God protecting poetic image is “Resting in the shadow”, which Spurgeon explains with these words,

“The Omnipotent Lord will shield all those who dwell with him, they shall remain under his care as guests under the protection of their host”.

 David speaks of being in God’s shadow in Psalm 63: 7 and obviously refers to the Angels wings of the mercy seat as well,

“Because you are my help I sing in the shadow of your wings”.

 So to be in someone’s shadow is to be very close to them and to be very close to God means we are safe and protected from anything Satan and this world can throw at us. This is a very beautiful and amazing way of saying God will keep us safe and will protect us.

The New Testament promises the same kind of thing through being close to Jesus as Paul testifies in 2 Timothy 4: 16 – 18, to being protected and helped by the Lord obviously The Lord Jesus Christ,

“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.

18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen”.

Paul probably was executed after his next trial but note that Paul speaks of God’s rescue, as brining him safely to God’s heavenly kingdom were he would be living fully in the shadow or presence of God. This is what we too can look forward to when God’s time for us to finish our earthly existence comes.

Obviously George Vinell’s time to depart and be with the Lord was not in 1915 during the first world war so God gave him special miraculous protection from the German shelling and used George’s bible to stop the deadly metal entering his body and his heart. God will do the same for us if we would but trust and believe in him.

Lets look then at the two special ancient names for God used in this verse:

  1. Most High (Hebrew – Elyon)

The first part of verse 1 says,

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High”

The words “Most High” is an ancient Hebrew name for God which in Hebrew is the word Elyon”. We first come across this special name for God in the remarkable encounter Abraham had with the ancient king of Jerusalem then called Salem in Genesis 14: 18 – 20,

“ Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything”.

Albert Barnes explains the meaning of the name “Elyon” this way,

“Of the Most High – Of God, represented as exalted above all; over all the universe”.

 If the God of the bible is exalted over all or is over everything in the universe then his ability to protect those who are connected to him is enormous.

Jesus in the New Testament is given great-exalted names that denote his unique power and strength and Matthew points out two of the great names for Jesus Christ and there meanings in Matthew 1: 21 – 23,

 “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”)”.

Jesus is our Savoir who will save us from our sins and Immanuel – God with us.

Jesus is this “Eylon”, Most High God who came down to be one of us to save us from our sins and then he comes beside us and within us through his Holy Spirit to protect all who come to faith in him.

John 10: 27 – 30,

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

  1. The Almighty (Hebrew – “Shadday”)

Allan Harman points out that all of the three main Hebrew patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are recorded as having a encounter with God with the Name “Shadday” or “The Almighty”, Genesis 17: 1 (Abraham again), 28: 3 (Isaac) and Jacob in Genesis 35: 11.

So “Shadday”, The almighty and “Eylon”, Most high God are very similar powerful names for God and reveal his exalted status in the universe and as I said before if the God of the bible is exalted over all or is over everything in the universe then his ability to protect those who are connected to him is enormous.

We can lean on or trust in Jesus because he is that same God become flesh and through his death has made a way back to God and through his resurrection he has gone into glory for us and now sits at the right hand of God for us.

Paul declares in a number of places like Romans 8: 34,

 “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us”.

See also Ephesians 1: 20 and Colossians 3: 1.

  1. vs. 2   Trusting in God our refuge

The writer of Psalm 91 then makes it even clearer who he is speaking of and how The God of the Bible offers his protection to all those who truly trust in him with the next verse of his Psalm which says,

“I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust”.

 This verse is very reminiscent of many statements about God by King David who for instance wrote these words about how he saw his God as his sure protector in Psalm 18: 2:

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

David needed to be saved and protected by God all through his life starting with his battle with wild animals as a young shepherd boy, victory over the giant soldier Goliath, then eight years King Saul sought to kill and destroy him, victory over many nations who sought to overrun him and finally over his rebellious Son Absalom.

David’s life shows us what this verse is saying about what it means to have God as a refuge and fortress and “GotQuestions?org” sums up the concept of God being our refuge with these words,

“Knowing God as our refuge enables us to trust Him more freely. We need not fear situations or people who threaten our well being, whether in a physical or spiritual sense. There is no situation we will ever face that is out of God’s control, so the best place to be, always, is right with Him. “The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10)”

 As I have already stated Jesus is our refuge or protector and he says to us that if we need his help and protection we simply only need to go to him in prayer, 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.”

  1. (3 – 8)   TRUST IN GOD OUR SAVIOR

 We move now to the second section of this Psalm that contains so much ancient battle and war camp images that fit so well Tremper Longman 111 theory that this Psalm’s setting is the trouble caused by a war, as I quoted from his commentary earlier,

“The trouble appears to be military, and so the congregation is likely the army, who face dangers in battle as well as from disease in the war camp”.

 With this in mind I have applied the teaching of these verses to our battles in life particularly our spiritual battles.

 I have divided this section into two parts:

  1. 3 – 7   Saved and protected in life’s battles
  2. 8 – 13   Saved and protected to see God at work

 Lets have a closer look at each of these two parts:

  1. 3 – 7   Saved and protected in life’s battles

I count seven images of protection in this first part of the second section and at least 5 of those seven images are war or battle related images.

The eight images are:

  1. The fowlers snare (vs. 3a)
  2. Deadly Pestilence (3b and 6)
  3. The cover of a birds feathers of its young (vs.4a)
  4. The Shield and Rampart (vs. 4b)
  5. The fear of the terror of the night (vs. 5a)
  6. The arrow that flies by day (vs. 5b)
  7. Soldiers falling around you in battle (vs. 7)

Lets have a closer look at each of these seven images:

  1. The fowlers snare (vs. 3a)

The first image of protection is being saved from the fowler’s snare,

“Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare”.

 Leupold explains this image this way,

“The “snare of the hunter”, may well represent those hidden dangers that unexpectedly catch us and bring us to fall”.

 A fowler was a bird catcher in ancient Israel and he used a variety of traps to catch a poor un- expectant bird and kill it to be eaten by people who buy the bird from the fowler. So Leupold’s explanation is apt that God is promising those who truly trust in protection from hidden un- expectant dangers in life.

Many spiritual dangers sneak up on us like a work colleague suddenly verbally attacking our faith in God when we are not expecting such a thing to happen. I remember a work colleague who I had not told I was a Christian suddenly saying to me at morning tea one morning, “And your one of those stupid people who believes the world one day was totally flooded”.

It turns out the man I replaced in the new section of the company I worked for knew me and told his fellow workers I was a Christian also. After sending up a quick prayer to God I managed to give an answer to my work colleagues jest and this began a long period of challenging conversations with many other work colleagues at work at that time.

I had learnt by that time the advice of Peter when he wrote in 1 Peter 3: 15,

“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”.

Maybe the writer of Psalm 91 has military soldiers in mind here too as battle fields close to them could throw up all kinds of un – expectant dangers and traps and the promise of God to save the believing soldiers from these hidden un – expectant traps would have been a great comfort to them.

  1. Deadly Pestilence (3b and 6)

Disease’s or virus epidemics and warfare go hand in hand and sometimes these kill more people, for instance, 20 to 50 Million people died of the Spanish flu in 1918 at the end of World War 1 more than soldiers killed in battle on both sides. On top of this 2 Million soldiers died of illness during this war and this is understandable when one realises that men were locked up together in dirty disease infested trenches for months. The battlefields were littered with un- buried rotting corpses and this alone would have created devastating epidemics in and around the battlefield.

Ancient battlefields and war camps would have been much the same but the treatment for virus attacks would have been non – existent. Therefore the promise of God’s protection in such conditions would have been very comforting for the believing soldier.

We read of this promise of protection in verse 3b,

“(Save you), from deadly pestilence”.

 Also verse 6 says,

“Nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday”.

 In the spiritual battlefield of this life we too face a unseen and often unknown enemy as I pointed out in the introduction Paul spoke of the real but hidden from us enemies that fight against us in 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 this passage Paul speaks of two great resources God has given us, namely his strength and power, verse 10,

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

 Secondly God’s armor in verse 13,

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand, stand firm then”.

Paul then spells out the spiritual armor or means of protection God has provided for us in verses 14 – 18,

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 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”.

Note how both Psalm 91 and Ephesians 6 do not tell us God will take the spiritual battles of life away from us but rather he will equip and protect us in the spiritual battles of this life.

  1. The cover of a birds feathers of its young (vs.4a)

Then we have the second non- battlefield or war image of protection in verse 4a, which says,

“He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge”.

 I once heard a lecture on the different types of literature found in the bible and the speaker used this verse to say, “If we read the bible as always being literal then this verse is saying God is a chicken”. No, of course the bible contains poetry style literature that contains images that must be interpreted for their meaning.

Here God is depicted like a bird or chicken pulling her chicks under the protection of her wings. This is a image used a number of times in the bible and the first instance of it is in the song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32 : 11.

“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions”.

 This is Moses speaking of how God guided and protected his people the Israelites through their desert wanderings. David used this image also as we see in Psalm 17: 8b,

“Hide me in the shadow of your wings”.

 The writer of Psalm 91 speaks of God’s special protection through his angels in verse 11, which also are often depicted with wings. Finally Isaiah speaks of God’s wings and faith in him being like soaring on eagle wings in Isaiah 40 verses 28 to 31,

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.

So through the image of “God’s wings” we have many wonderful promises of God’s help and protection in the battles of this life.

Finally Jesus uses this image of a bird taking its chicks under her wings in the Gospels, Like Matthew 23: 37 – 38, but here he longs to gather the Jews in Jerusalem into his protective care but because they mainly refused to believe in him they would face the judgment of God and in AD.70 this prediction of Jesus comes true,

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”.

What we can glean from this is that in the battles of life we can know Jesus protection and help like a baby chick is protected under its mothers wings. However if we fail to trust in Jesus we will surely face the coming judgment of God without his help and protection.

  1. The Shield and Rampart (vs. 4b)

The writer returns to another battlefield or war image of protection in verse 4b,

“His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart”.

 The shield is the personal piece of protection in a battle and the rampart or defensive wall is an army’s protection in a battle.

In this verse God and his faithfulness is both for us and in us in the battles of life. David speaks of God’s protection or refuge and its connection with the love and faithfulness of God in Psalm 57: 1 – 3,

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.

I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me.He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—God sends forth his love and his faithfulness”.

Note how David also uses the image of the protective wings of God in this reference as well. I have a Psalm Talk on Psalm 57, which explores the wonderful concept of God’s love and faithfulness, and God inspired me to write a song for this talk and the chorus of the song goes like this:

“God’s love and faithfulness

In Jesus we see.

God’s love and faithfulness

He’s always with me”

 The Writer of Palm 91 and David both speak of the protective wings of God and his shield and rampart in life’s battles and both say this is not something we deserve but it comes only to us because of God’s amazing love and faithfulness.

  1. The fear of the terror of the night (vs. 5a)

 Verse 5a speaks of another frightening aspect of a war zone, namely the terror and fear that exists there in the cover of darkness, the verse reads,

“You will not fear the terror of night”.

 Most ancient battles ceased at night -fall but this did not stop smaller sneaky night time raids by either side. Those given the duties of guarding the front lines of armies in war zones faced the constant threat of these surprise attacks and they would always be in a state of fear or terror during those night -time guard duties.

However Psalm 91: 5a says that we need not fear the battles of life at night and again this is because God promises to protect us even at night. Many people suffer greatly at night from bad dreams or even laying in their beds experiencing many dark and disturbing thoughts.

The New Testament offers much help and advice for the battles of the night and day and I refer to two famous passages here as an example 1 Peter 5: 6 – 7,

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

 And Philippians 4: 6 – 7,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

  1. The arrow that flies by day (vs. 5b)

So as I said most battles in the ancient world took place at day so the second half of verse 5 deals with protection during the battles of life in the day- light, the verse reads,

“Nor the arrow that flies by day”.

 Before the invention of gun -powder weapons of war were mainly hand-to-hand compact design like swords and spears but in ancient times bow and arrows were also used. I have seen movies that depict ancient battles and can remember with horror armies firing thousands of arrows into the air against opposing on coming armies and how many of these arrows felled soldiers with often horrific injuries.

It is said that King Harold II of England was killed at the battle of Hastings in 1066 by being shot in the eye by a Norman arrow. Psalm 91: 5a says that God would protect those who trust in him from the arrow that flies by day.

As we face a strong and powerful spiritual enemy in this life, non other than Satan and his many forces God offers those who trust in him and his Son, The Lord Jesus Christ his protection from this great enemy.

Here are two verses in the New Testament that say this, firstly 2 Thessalonians 3: 3,

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one”.

And secondly how we can have this protection over the evil one or the Devil, James 4: 7,

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

Finally Paul actually speaks in spiritual terms about the devil firing deadly arrows at us in Ephesians 6: 6 and then speaks of the Lords protective shield against these deadly spiritual arrows,

“ In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”.

  1. Soldiers falling around you in battle (vs. 7)

The final battlefield or war image of protection in this first part of the second section is the very battle ground itself where usually in ancient times thousands of soldiers fort hand-to-hand to their death or victory. We read this image in verse 7,

“A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you”.

 Leupold explains this image,

“Men fall by the thousands and tens of thousands on every side, but the man of faith, exposed to the same dangers, comes through them all unscathed”.

 Alan Harman points out that,

“The use of a thousand and ten thousand in parallel phrases is typical of Hebrew poetry” he then sights a number of examples like Judges 20: 10, 1 Samuel 18: 7 and Psalm 144: 13.

This he goes on to explain its meaning as,

“The combined phrase points to a great magnitude without precise definition of the exact number”.

 So, as I have already said, Paul teaches in Ephesians 6: 12 that our daily spiritual battle is up against large and powerful spiritual forces,

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”.

However if we trust in the Lord verse 10 says we can be very strong,

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

And verse 13 says God can and does protect us with his armor,

“13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand, stand firm then”.

  1. 8 – 13   Saved and protected to see God at work

 The second part of this second section of the Psalm has some even more remarkable claims of how God will protect his faithful people in the battles of life. This part speaks of two great promises of God for his faithful people in the battles of life:

  1. God will fight for you (8 – 10)
  2. God will send his Angels to protect you (11 – 13)

Lets have a closer look at each of these two promises:

  1. God will fight for you (8 – 10)

Verse 8 speaks of the faithful members of the army being addressed not even having to fight as God himself, it seems will fight for them,

“You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked”.

Interestingly there are two clear examples in the bible where Israel faced an enormous army and instead of having to fight God went ahead of them to destroy the army for them and in doing so punished the wicked who opposed him and his people.

The first is in the reign of King Jehoshaphat and in 897BC three powerful nations of that era, Moab, Amon and Maon ganged up together to attack Judah and had a mighty army heading for Jerusalem. Jehoshaphat organizes a day of prayer and at a large gathering of the people a Levite or priest named Jahaziel a direct descendant of Asaph prophesizes that God would fight for them, 2 Chronicles 20: 15,

“He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s”.

He goes on to say in verses 17,

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

The next day the army of Jehoshaphat marches out against this mighty combined army and as instructed Jehoshaphat’s army sings a great praise to the Lord and then we read 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”.

By the time Jehoshaphat’s army got to see the opposing armies they only saw thousands of dead bodies, 2 Chronicles 20: 24 – 26,

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. 25 So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. 26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day”.

The second time the Jews see God fighting for them against a mighty army is in the reign of King Hezekiah in 701 BC and is recorded in 2 Kings 18 and 19. The northern kingdom of Israel was overrun by the Assyrians 721 BC and was no more and now the mightiest army in the world at that time had surrounded Jerusalem and defied the God of the bible.

The field commander speaking on behalf of the powerful Assyrian King Sennacherib said this in the Hebrew tongue to the Jews on the walls of Jerusalem, 2 Kings 18: 31 – 35,

“The king of Assyria sent his supreme commander, his chief officer and his field commander with a large army, from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. They came up to Jerusalem and stopped at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field. 18 They called for the king; and Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went out to them.

 19 The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah:

 “‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours? 20 You say you have the counsel and the might for war—but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me?

21 Look, I know you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him.

22 But if you say to me, “We are depending on the Lord our God”—isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship before this altar in Jerusalem”?

 23 “‘Come now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses—if you can put riders on them! 24 How can you repulse one officer of the least of my master’s officials, even though you are depending on Egypt for chariots and horsemen? 25 Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this place without word from the Lord? The Lord himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.’”

 26 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, and Shebna and Joah said to the field commander, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall.”

 27 But the commander replied, “Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the people sitting on the wall—who, like you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?”

 28 Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! 29 This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you from my hand. 30 Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord when he says, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’

 31 “Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree and drink water from your own cistern, 32 until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death!

 “Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ 33 Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? 35 Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”

The people, hearing this stayed silent and three men one of which, is another Levite a direct descendant of Asaph named Joah report the field commanders words to King Hezekiah. When King Hezekiah heard this we are told in chapter 19 he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth a sign of repentance and humble trust in the God of the bible.

Hezekiah prays to God for deliverance and consults the prophet Isaiah who prophesizes that God fight for his people and the next day 2 Kings 19: 35 – 36 records God’s victory and judgment of the Assyrian army,

“ That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there”.

A few years later back in Assyria, as the prophet Isaiah also predicted the great king Sennacherib is killed by his sons when worshipping his God’s in their Temple.

Both these two-recorded incidents fit so well the words of Psalm 91: 8,

“You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked”.

Although I favour the incident in King Jehoshaphat time as the Jewish army actually road out of Jerusalem to meet the large invading army while the Jews in Jerusalem in King Hezekiah’s time just sat behind the walls of Jerusalem and God probably through a viral attack killed many of the members of the Assyrian army that had defied God and therefore deserved his judgment.

The next verse of the Psalm, verse 9, seems to be a reminder, in summary form of the God’s promise of protection previously stated verses 1 and 2 of this Psalm,

“If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge”.

The basic same elements of what we looked at in the first section are here in this summary, namely the ancient name of God Most High (Hebrew – “Elyon”) is used along with terms, “Make your Dwelling” and “Refuge”.

Then the promise of God protecting his faithful people is protection is again made in verse 10,

“Then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent”.

The reference to a tent in this verse could mean the tents used by soldiers on the battlefield or it could be just another poetic term for “dwelling” or place of residence, which applies to the believer’s home. This is how the pulpit commentary interprets this with the words,

“The faithful man is to be preserved from evil of every kind. His very “dwelling” is to be protected so that his family may suffer no hurt”.

 Albert Barnes points out that,

“This also must be understood as a general promise, or as meaning that religion would constitute a general ground of security”.

This is true because many times in the Old Testament God calls for his faithful followers to go into battle and his people are killed in battle for him.

The teaching of the New Testament and especially the teaching of Jesus is that Christians should not go to battle for him as clearly seen in the incident in the Gospels when Jesus is arrested and Peter draws his sword and cuts of the ear of one of the high priests guards, Jesus says in Matthew 26: 52,

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword”.

Luke records that Jesus actually heals the guards injury, Luke 22: 51,

“But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him”.

Jesus taught that we should love our enemies on many occasions like 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”.

Before this Jesus steers his followers away from the Old Testament judgment system of an eye for an eye to a much higher way of love and mercy that his Gospel message brought to this world, Matthew 5: 38 – 42,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you”.

Later Jesus qualifies why we should act in such a way in 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?”

Christians who go to war in the name of their faith to fight the so-called enemies of God are out of line and not following the commands of Christ. I have been reading a historical account of the Christian crusades to the Holy land over a thousand years ago and am shocked to learn that the Popes of that time authorized and encouraged Christians to go to war in the name of Christ and used the symbol of the cross as their emblem. This goes completely against the teachings of Christ and still gives the Christian faith and Gospel message a bad name.

So far as Christians serving in the armed forces of their country I have a different view as in that sphere they are not fighting in the name of Christ but are defending their country and they should be like any Christian in any situation they should seek to be a witness for Christ in that environment.

I have heard how Christian soldiers have shown the love of Christ to their fellow soldiers and even to the enemy they have had to fight they have been shown mercy in certain situations like in the way they have treated them as their captives.

All I can say on serving in armed forces is a Christian should pray if this is God’s will for their lives and like any secular job do it as a faithful witness of the Love of God they know through Christ.

The spiritual application is a little different and all I will say on this is that the New Testament does offer spiritual protection for those who trust in God through Christ. I would like to give just two examples of this.

The first is our protection against the devil, 2 Thessalonians 3: 3,

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one”.

The second is protection from all evil attacks in general, 2 Timothy 4: 18,

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen”.

These promises are of course for those who truly trust in Christ.

  1. God will send his Angels to protect you (11 – 13)

The second part of this second section has some really remarkable promises that commentators have varying views on as its deals with the tricky concept of Angels.

These verses read this way in the NIV,

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will tread upon the lion and the cobra: you will trample the great lion and serpent”.

 To start with I am a firm believer in angels as they are part of the bibles message and story from beginning to end and therefore to deny there reality is to deny the authority of the scriptures.

Secondly I believe that the intervention of angels is more the unusual way for God to protect us but when needed God has and I believe will use them. I say this confidently because once in my life I personally believe I was saved by someone like an angel myself.

It happened when I was a young 26-year-old church youth worker and I had gone into the busy town centre in the suburb of Sydney I was working in. I was walking down a busy street and daydreaming not really watching for traffic, as I should have been. I decided to quickly cross a busy road and as I went to step onto the road to cross I was grabbed on the shoulder from behind and pulled back violently. As I fell backwards a car rushed past and who ever pulled me backwards saved my life. However when I turned round to thank the person who had saved me no one was there.

My only explanation was that God did not want me to die that day so one of his angels was sent to save my life.

Spurgeon points out that he does not believe in the concept of guardian angels but goes on to say,

“They (Angels) are the bodyguard of the princes of the blood imperial of heaven, and they have received commission from their Lord to watch carefully over all the interests of the faithful. When men have a charge they become doubly careful, and therefore the angels are representative as bidden by God himself to see to it that the elect are secured”.

 It is a very interesting fact that that verse 12,

“They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against the stone.”

Is the second part of God’s promise of the protection of Angels for the true faithful believers of the God of the bible is quoted by the Devil at Jesus temptation in Matthew 4: 6,

 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’

 This seems to indicate that God can and does save his people sometimes from danger using his Angels. However even though we have this promise of protection this does not give us license to go out and put ourselves in danger believing God’s angels will protect and save us as Jesus replies to the devils miss – use of this promise of protection with these words in Mark 4: 7,

“Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test”.

Jesus is quoting here Deuteronomy 6: 16, which shows us we cannot take one isolated verse in the bible and build a teaching from it. Instead we must seek to find the complementary teaching in the bible and build our understanding of God’s word and not just one verse in the bible.

We find a complementary teaching of God’s promise protection sometimes through Angels in Hebrews 1: 14,

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

This protection of angels for all true believers even comes when we die as we read in Luke 16: 22,

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side”.

Verse 12 speaks of how God’s Angels protect us by lifting us up like Jesus speaks in Luke 16: 22,

“They will lift you up in their hands”.

 In my encounter with an Angel I was not lifted up but pulled backwards to the ground to escape the speeding car that would have hit me if I were not pulled back from the edge of the road.

God will use Angels as he sees fit and I think we can conclude that verse 12 is a poetic image of any kind of protection needed as verse 13 says,

“You will tread upon the lion and cobra; you will trample the great lion and serpent”.

 This continues, I think, a poetic description of God protecting us, through his Angels from all kinds of deadly enemies and dangers in the battles of life. Spurgeon sums up this poetic picture of protection with these words,

Over force and fraud shalt thou march victoriously; bold opponents and treacherous adversaries shall alike be trodden down. When our shoes are iron and brass lions and adders are easily enough crushed beneath our heel.

The young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. The strongest foe in power, and the most mysterious in cunning, shall be conquered by the man of God”.

 Jesus used similar poetic images of God’s protection for his disciples as he sent them out on an evangelistic mission in Luke 10: 19,

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you”.

Similar words or images of protection are given to all followers of Jesus who respond to his great commission to take the Gospel into all the world in Mark 16: 15 – 18,

“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

I must confess I have avoided this last section of Marks Gospel and its version of the great commission because of two reasons:

  1. My bible tells me that this is an edition to Marks Gospel not found in earlier and older manuscripts.
  1. Because of its mention of picking up snakes and drinking deadly poison.

But maybe like the words in Psalm 91: 13 these are poetic examples of God’s protection that is made more clearly by Matthew’s account of Jesus words which simply say, Matthew 28: 20b,

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”.

  1. (14 – 16)   TRUST IN GOD OUR SAVIOR AND PROTECTOR

 We come then to the final section of this Psalm which I think, simply summarizes the central idea of this Psalm, namely that if we truly trust in God he promises us his protection in all the battles of life.

I have broken this final section into two parts:

  1. vs. 14   God saves those who love him
  2. 15 – 16 God promises salvation and protection to those who call on him

 Lets have a closer look at each of these two parts:

  1. vs. 14   God saves those who love him

The Psalmist makes it very clear in verse 14 what is his main message he wants to convey to his congregation who could be the army of Judah about to go out to face a very powerful enemy.

I have tried to relate this Psalmist message to our facing of our battles of life, particularly our spiritual battles of life that Paul calls, in Ephesians 6: 12, our battles or struggles not against flesh and blood,

12 “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”.

The central message is God’s promise of protection in the battles of life if we truly love and trust in the God of the bible as summarized by verse 14,

“Because he loves me, says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name”.

All bible promises contain two main elements and this promise of protection is not different and the two main elements are:

  1. The Promise
  2. The condition of God fulfilling that promise

Lets me open up this verse through the two elements of this wonderful promise of God:

  1. The Promise

God promises two things in this promise:

  1. Rescue
  2. Protection

Lets have a closer look at what these two things actually are:

  1. Rescue

God promises to “rescue” us and we might ask, from what?

In Old Testament terms this word “rescue” would be literally from evil forces or nations that threaten the lives of God’s people. David uses this word or term, “rescue” a lot as he faced enemies both within Israel and outside of it all his life. In both Psalms 40 and 69 David speaks of the attack of his enemies is like being trapped in a pit and in Psalm 40, it is a muddy or boggy pit he needs rescuing from, Psalm 40: 1 – 3,

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him”.

In Psalm 69: 1 – 4, David links the attack of his powerful enemies causes him to be like a drowning man needing rescue by God himself,

“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.I sink in the miry depths,  where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.

Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal”.

The term, save, rescue and deliverance are interchangeable in the Psalms, particularly in the Psalms of David. In verse 1 of Psalm 69 David called on God to “save” him and in verse 14 he calls on God to rescue him and then in the parallel thought he uses the term “deliver” him,

“Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me,

 from the deep waters”.

All these terms are very familiar terms or concept to coastal Australians, like I am. This is because we have a proud tradition of “Life Savors” on the many beaches that surround our beautiful country. As beautiful as those beaches are they can be deadly traps for drowning and many unknowing tourists to our country loose their lives to drowning each year.

However the unsung hero’s of our beaches are our wonderful teams of men and women who volunteer each summer to act as life guards or life savors as we call them and thousands of lives each year are saved by them on our many beaches around the country.

Well this promise of God is that he will “rescue” us, he is our great spiritual life savor and David proved over and over again that God is his savior or deliverer as he states in Psalm 62: 7,

“My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge”.

For us God’s salvation is spiritual and in the New Testament God promises to save us spiritually, like Hebrews 7: 25,

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them”.

So God is our spiritual life savor who saves us from eternal death and gives us, as a gift eternal life, as Jesus declares in John 5: 24,

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life”.

  1. Protection

We are saved or rescued by God but the promise of God in verse 14 goes further to say,

“I will protect him”

This Psalm 91 has been filled with lots of powerful images of God’s protection,

Vs. 1, God is our dwelling place and we are safe in the shadow of his wings.

Vs. 2, God is our refuge and fortress.

Vs. 3, God protects us from the traps or snares of life.

Vs. 4, God is like a giant bird who will protect us by pulling us under his wings.

Vs. 5, God will protect us in the terror of the night and against the arrows of day.

Vs. 6, God will protect us from the unseen viral attacks.

Vs. 7, God will protect us against our many enemies in the battles of life.

Vs. 8, God will protect us because he will fight for us.

Vs. 9, God again is our safe dwelling place in the battles of life.

Vs.10, God will protect us in the battles of life.

Vs. 11, God will protect us by sending his angels, if needed to defend us.

Vs. 12, 13, God will protect us against the fierce enemies we face in the battles of life.

So all through the Psalm the concepts of God’s promise of protection in the battles of life has been coming to the fore, promising God’s help for us at all times. As I said earlier David spoke over and over again of God being his refuge or protector.

In Psalm 18: 1 and 2 David bring together a number of terms to describe how God is his savior and protector,

“I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”.

In the New Testament God promises to save and protect us spiritually as Peter speaks of so powerfully in 1 Peter 1: 3 – 5,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time”.

  1. The condition of God fulfilling that promise

However every promise of God in the bible has also a condition upon which this promise will be fulfilled. Some say there is as many as 5,467 promises of God in the bible and each of them has at least one condition and the two conditions for God’s promise of salvation and protection in verse 14 are:

  1. To love God
  2. To acknowledge his name

Lets have a closer look at each of these two conditions of God’s promise to rescue or save and protect us.

  1. To love God

The opening words of verse 14 says,

“Because he loves me”.

 To love God is to make him the most important person in out lives. If I said I loved my wife, and I do but then never sought to be with her, talk to her and even serve her then you would say, “You don’t love her”.

It is the same with God, if we love God we will wont to be with him as David declared many time in his Psalms like Psalm 63 verse 1, David expresses his longing to be with God,

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water”.

He seems to have said these words in Psalm 63 because he felt cut off from God, out in the desert away from Jerusalem and its Holy Sanctuary probably on the run from his rebellious son Absalom who wanted to kill him and his family.

David often expressed love for God in his Psalms as we heard him declare in the opening verse of Psalm 18,

“I love you, Lord, my strength”.

David is known as a man after God’s own heart, as Samuel said the next King after Saul would be and we know that was David in 1 Samuel 13: 14b,

“The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart”.

This is made clearer in the New Testament in Acts 13: 22,

“ After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’”

 We know from many verses in the bible that the heart of God is love so to be after the heart of God is to be a person in love with God. This is not a romantic love but a devotion love that shows itself in love and obedience to God as John tells us in 1 John 5: 3,

“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome”.

John also tells us in his first epistle that,

“We love (God) because he first loved us” (1 John 4: 19)

There is a story that the very old apostle John who seems to be the only apostle who died of old age, was carried around the churches in the years before his death and often was reported as saying simply’ “Little children, love one another!”

So the first condition of knowing God as our Savior and protector is to love God by obeying him and loving others.

  1. To acknowledge his name

The second condition of God’s promise of salvation and protection to those who love and obey him is found at the end of verse 14,

“For he acknowledges my name”.

 Alan Harman points out that,

“Acknowledging his name implies understanding the revelation that God has given himself and demonstrating one’s commitment to it”.

 Harman offers Psalm 5: 11 as a verse that uses the concept of “acknowledging God’ name” in this way,

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”

Many religions, even today have followers who claim to love their God or their idea of him but the second part of verse 14 says God’s promise of salvation and protection is given to those who love the God of the bible by the way that love acknowledges him.

The New Testament is strong on this and we find in the epistles or letters by the apostles to the churches has this idea because even in the first century of Christianity false ideas about God and Jesus arose quickly and endangered the faith clearly given in the Old Testament revelation of God and particularly in the final great revelation of God through his son who John calls, “The word become flesh” (John 1: 14).

It is the epistles of the apostle John we call 1, 2 and 3 John that some of the strongest words of acknowledging God as he has revealed himself particularly through Christ appear. This is because a new and dangerous view of Christ had emerged in the churches probably in and around Ephesus were we know from the early church fathers writings the Apostle John ministered.

The heresy or false teaching John is combating was called “Gnosticism” which basically taught that the spirit is entirely good and matter is entirely evil. This led to many crazy and false ideas about who Christ is, how we are saved and even how we should relate to one another.

A good example of John calling his first century church believers back to the revealed word of God through Christ is 1 John 2: 7 – 8,

“Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining”.

A big problem for believers and the Christian church in the first century was the reliance of it to have access to the word’s of Christ through the fast passing of the apostles particularly through Roman persecution and this led to the writing of the Gospels and of course the epistles by the Apostles like Paul, John and Peter etc. which are merely letters written to churches to explain, apply the word of Christ and to counter the already growing false teachings of their day.

The problem during the middle ages was the lack of literacy of the general population, access to the bible writings and the reliance on the clergy to rightly teach and declare the message of the bible. Sadly often the church in the early centuries became corrupted and even lost interest in God’s word. However God always seemed to raise up truly Godly men and women who could read the revealed word of God and who faithfully called people back to the truth often at the cost of their very lives.

From the time of the reformation on we all have access to God’s true revealed word and for most of us we can carry it around with us in a book or on a portable computer device and with the blessing of modern education we can all read it and therefore,

“Acknowledges God’s name”

 Or true character or revelation of him.

So the two conditions verse 14 lays down for knowing and having the salvation and protection of God are to love him and to acknowledge him as he has revealed himself in the word of God which we call The Bible. I leave my last word on this promise of salvation and protection to the apostle John in 1 John 4: 7 – 12,

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”.

  1. 15 – 16 God promises salvation and protection to those who call on him

 We come then to the last two verses of this Psalm, which I must confess seem to be another way of saying what the writer of Psalm 91 has already said in verse 14. However maybe it is a final summary of what he has been saying throughout the whole Psalm. Namely that God promises his salvation and protection to those who truly call on or trust in him.

These two verses read this way,

“He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation”.

 I would like to briefly comment on four aspects of these last two verses which are:

  1. Calling on God
  2. God’s promise of his presence in times of trouble
  3. God’s promise of deliverance or salvation
  4. God’s promise of long life.

I will now make some brief comments on each of these four aspects of these final two verses of Psalm 91.

  1. Calling on God

The start of verse 15 says,

“He will call upon me, and I will answer him”

What does it mean to call on God or the Lord?

In my research on this question I came upon a detailed answer to this question by a famous Asian Christian bible teacher named Witness Lee and his answer to this question started with these words,

“To call upon the Lord is to enjoy the rich presence of His divine Person. Both our initial contact as well as our continuing with Him depends in a large part on this simple opening and calling. Each time we call upon the Lord’s name, He comes to us and we receive Him in a fresh, new way. Our experience of His presence is renewed and enhanced when we audibly call His name”.

 This definition fits really well to other expressions of this concept I have studied already in the Psalms, particularly the Psalms of David. A good example of this is Psalm 34: 6, which says,

“This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles”.

 This would appear to be David speaking of calling out to God in prayer for deliverance from his enemies at that time which we believe was the Philistines in Gath and even King Saul who the Philistines of Gath had informed of David’s presence among them.

The next verse of Psalm 34 speaks of God sending his angel to help protect and deliver him, just as Psalm 91 speaks of this kind of thing in verse 11 of our Psalm 91.

Then in the next verse of Psalm 34, verse 8, David speaks of a new and fresh experience of God through I believe this calling on God,

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him”.

 The New Testament has a similar teaching on this and we read in Romans 10: 12 – 13,

“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

It must be said also that people wont call on the Lord unless they hear and respond to the message of the Gospel as Paul goes on to say in Romans 10: 14 – 15,

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

  1. God’s promise of his presence in times of trouble

The next part of verse 15 says,

“I will be with him in trouble”.

 Right through the Psalm the concept of God being with the faithful believer, saving them and protecting them can be seen.

Vs. 1, Speaks of dwelling in the shelter of God.

Vs. 2, Speaks of God sheltering the faithful believer.

Vs. 4, Speaks of being under the wings of God – which is an image of being close to God.

Vs’s 11 – 13, Speak of God’s Angels guarding faithful believers and figuratively carrying them over dangerous paths.

Now it simply says God will be with faithful believers especially in times of Trouble.

David spoke a lot about God’s presence with him particularly through times of trouble like Psalm 27: 5,

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock”.

In Psalm 31: 5 David commits his spirit, his spiritual essence into God’s hands,

“Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth”.

Finally David sees his future in the presence of God even in death in Psalm 23: 6,

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

We have the same promise of God’s presence through Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our earthly lives, Matthew 28: 20b,

“And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age”.

 We have Jesus presence in the gathering of praying believers in Matthew 18: 20,

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

Finally we have God’s promise that when we die we too like David will dwell in God’s presence forever, John 14: 1 – 3,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”.

 And, 2 Timothy 2: 10,

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory”.

  1. God’s promise of deliverance or salvation

 The final part of verse 15 says,

“I will deliver him and honor him”.

 This is a simple promise of God for the salvation of the faithful believer in the God of the Bible. God will deliver him which is another key concept or idea of this Psalm as we have seen in:

Vs. 3, Speaks of God saving or delivering us from the traps of life.

Vs. Vs. 11 – 13, Speaks of God’s Angels delivering us from the powerful enemies of The battles of life, pictured as wild dangerous animals.

Vs. 14, Speaks of God’s rescue of those who love him and acknowledge him.

Now in verse 15 it simply says that God will delver us and honor us. To honor us Spurgeon explains this way,

“The man honors God, and God honors him. Believers are not delivered or preserved in a way which lowers them, and makes them feel themselves degraded, far from it, the Lord’s salvation bestows honor upon those it delivers”.

 As Paul speaks of in Romans 8: 31 – 39,

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Our salvation in Christ is a glorious process of honour from beginning to the end.

  1. God’s promise of long life.

The last verse completes God’s promises of salvation and protection to those who call on him in real Old Testament terms as it speaks of the promise of long life,

“With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation”.

 Long life in the Old Testament is a sign of God’s blessing on a person as Leupold points out,

“Long life is elsewhere in Scriptures stressed as a blessing which God gives to reward his own”.

 Leopold then sites five examples in the bible of this, Psalm 21:4, 23:6, Deut. 30: 20, Proverbs 3: 2 and 3: 16.

Long life is the closest term that the Old Testament comes to the New Testaments term of eternal life although some of the references above hint at eternal life as well like Psalm 21: 4,

“He asked you for life, and he gave it to him – length of days, for ever and ever”.

David wrote these words and he certainly believed that when he died he would live with God forever as the second Leupold reference reveals, Psalm 23:6,

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

 So we can safely conclude that God’s promise of salvation and protection extends even into our death and it is this extension of God’s salvation that the New Testament takes up with great force on many occasions.

I will conclude with two excellent examples of God’s promises of salvation and protection in the New Testament.

  1. 1 Peter 5: 10

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast”.

  1. Revelation 21: 3 – 4

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.”

 CONCLUSION

 Psalm 91 has explored the great theme of God’s promises of salvation and protection in the battles of life.

It started with a great declaration of what dwelling in the shelter of God almighty brings which is refuge and protection in the battles of life.

It then used a number of battle or war camp images to declare the extent of this salvation and protection offered to all who have true faith in the God of the bible climaxing with the promise of protection through the very Angels of God who live in heaven.

Finally it made it clear that for those who truly love God and acknowledge his name or expressed revelation of himself in the bible would be rescued or saved and protected in times of trouble even as we face the trouble or life battle of death itself.

I close as usual with a original poem and a prayer.

I LONG TO DWELL WITH GOD

(Based on Psalm 91)

 

I long to dwell with God

Through this life I trod

To shelter under his wings

And know the help he brings

To those who trust in him

And turn away from sin.

 

I long to dwell with God

And know his powerful rod

That helps me battle through

Satan’s forces who

Seek to take me down

But I am heaven bound.

 

I long to dwell with God

And see the might of God

Who always fights for me

To help to make me free

His Angels sometime come

To guard the path I’m on.

 

I long to dwell with God

Because it’s him I love

He protects and rescues me

And gives me liberty

I know him through his word

That in days of old was heard.

 

I long to dwell with God

Through this life I trod

He answers when I call

To help me not to fall

And he will deliver me

With him in eternity.

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 Dear Father up above I call on you to help me live this life as I battle the forces of Satan and the many temptations of this life. Help me to always love you by trusting in what your Son, Jesus Christ has done for me. How he died for my sins on the cross making a way back to you in heaven. Protect me Lord in the battles of this life and may your Holy Spirit and even your Angels help me through this life to one- day dwell in your house forever. In Jesus powerful name I pray, Amen.

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PSALM 90 TALK: GOD IS OUR ETERNAL DWELLING PLACE

PSALM 90 TALK: GOD IS OUR ETERNAL DWELLING PLACE

 (A psalm that contrasts what God is like, an eternal creator God who must judge sin but is also a God of love and forgiveness with mankind who because of sin live short lives that have no hope without God’s love and forgiveness.)

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

INTRODUCTION

When I was in Bible College nearly 40 years ago I teamed up with another student named Tom Radford to do ministry through preaching and singing. Tom played guitar and sang the melody of the many Gospel songs we sang and I sang close tenor harmonies. Sometimes Tom preached and other times I took a turn preaching. We ministered in many churches and even tried a bit of street evangelism but one time we were asked to sing and preach at a famous Private schools Sunday night chapel service. That night I preached the sermon after we had sang a few Gospel songs.

I thought and prayed for some days leading up to the chapel service what I should preach on and as I thought of my audience, a large number of active healthy young teenage men who on the whole saw no relevance for God and his word I was led by God’s Holy Spirit to these two verses in 1 Peter 1: 24 – 25, which is Peter quoting Isaiah 40: 6 – 8,

For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

I wandered how I could get my, probably reluctant young audience to sit up and listen to me so I thought of a novel way to do this. I went into a deserted overrun piece of land and found a big clump of spindly grass and put it in a plastic bag. When I got up to the chapel lectern instead of opening in prayer I pulled out from the plastic bag the large clump of spindly grass and raised it into the air and cried out in a loud voice, “Man is like the grass”, and then I threw the grass on the chapel floor in front of the lectern.

The impact was amazing and for some quite amusing but I must say I got their attention and I was able to open up the great truths of these verses in 1 Peter with great effect.

This idea that man is like grass is not only in 1 Peter 1: 24 – 25 and Isaiah 40: 6 – 8 but also appears in Psalm 90: 5 – 6,

“Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered”.

My original idea of a title for this Psalm Talk was, “Man is like grass but God is our eternal home”. I thought this was a bit to long or wordy so I shortened it to, “God is our eternal dwelling place”. My original title picks up the central theme of the whole Psalm, which is the contrast between God who is eternal and man who lives for a limited and short time.

The Psalm explores these twin ideas and even suggests an explanation of why we only live a limited short time, which is because of our sin or as verse 8 calls them, “iniquities”.

The Psalm ends with a prayer to God for his love and compassion to give us relief or forgiveness from God’s judgment on our sin so that God’s favour or blessings might come upon us to do God’s work and fulfil his purpose for our lives.

This an excellent message for people today to hear as most people live their lives either like there is no tomorrow or like they are going to live forever. They see no place or relevance for God and his word and hold in contempt anyone who dares to say that God exists and has any claim or hold on their lives.

This means that men and women today live spiritually barren selfish lives and after living 70 to 80 years or even much less die with no hope of life after death and little to show for the few years they existed in this life.

Who wrote Psalm 90?

The Hebrew heading reads,

“A prayer of Moses the man of God”

 Many scholars believe that book 4 and 5 of Psalms is two final collections of Psalms put together around the time of Ezra and was not finalised to around the first century, just after the time of Christ. This is because the dead sea scrolls that date up to two hundred years before Christ time on earth have a very similar collection of Psalms covering books 1, 2 and 3 but not books 4 and 5, even though many of the Psalms of books 4 and 5 are in the dead sea scrolls.

These final two collections contain some extra Psalms of David (two in book 4) and this possible ancient Psalm of Moses. It would seem then that the editors of the final books of Psalms looked for any older Psalms that were not in books 1, 2 and 3 and then included them in the final two collections of Psalms.

Why didn’t Moses Psalm appear in either books 1, 2 and 3?

The answer to this is in the Hebrew title, namely, “A prayer of Moses”. Maybe Psalm 90 was known and available as a prayer in the Jewish Temple writings up to book 4 was compiled and the editors of book 4 decided to include this ancient prayer as a Psalm in their final collections of the books of Psalms.

To me, the wording and message of Psalm 90 fit beautiful with both the other known writings of Moses and the setting of the Israelites 40 years wanderings in the wilderness. Moses was a very literate man for his day having been brought up in Pharaohs court where he would have learned to read and write both Egyptian writing and other well-known Semitic literature and writing.

Moses was told by God to write down his words particularly concerning the covenant, Exodus 34: 27. Moses wrote, I believe, most of the first five books of the bible during the 40-year wilderness wanderings. In the book of Exodus we have a song of Moses, Exodus 15 and in Deuteronomy 32, we have another much longer song of Moses.

Both these Psalms echo in words and style that of Psalm 90, which started its long life as a prayer used for centuries by the ancient Hebrew people unto one day its was placed in the fourth book of Psalms as its opening Psalm.

With the message of the contrast between the eternal creator God and the limited, sinful short life of man in mind my breakdown for this Psalm is:

  1. (1 – 2) GOD OUR ETERNAL DWELLING PLACE
  1. 1 God our dwelling place
  2. 2. God the eternal creation
  1. (3 – 6) MAN IS LIKE GRASS
  1. 3 From dust to dust
  2. 4 – 6 Like grass for a day
  1. (7 – 12) SIN IS OUR PROBLEM
  1. 7 – 9 Our sin and God’s judgment
  2. 10 – 12 Life is short learn the lesson of life’s shortness
  1. (13 – 17) GOD’S LOVE IS THE ANSWER
  1. 13 – 15 Reverse our fortunes with you love
  2. 16 – 17 Show us your favor O Lord
  1. (1 – 2) GOD OUR ETERNAL DWELLING PLACE

This prayer of Moses starts on a high positive note as Moses addresses his prayer to the God, he calls, “Our dwelling place” and its continues to describe this God, in contrast to us as the great eternal creator.

So these two opening verses express two great truths about God;

  1. 1 God our dwelling place
  2. 2. God the eternal creator

Lets have a closer look at these two great truths about God”

  1. 1 God our dwelling place

Moses calls on God and names him Lord, which is “Adonay” (ruler or governor) rather than the covenant name of God Yahweh.

Then he describes him as being our dwelling place or some translate home,

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place”,

 If this was written during the wilderness wanderings when Israel still did not have a country to live in then this is a very remarkable and significant phrase, as Bob Deffinbaugh points out so well when he writes,

“Moses was a fugitive from Egypt and he died without entering Canaan. Israel also was a people without a country. The Israelites had not yet possessed the land of Canaan when this Psalm was written. Therefore one would expect Moses to have described the Land of Canaan, as Israel’s dwelling place. Yet Moses knew that ultimately man’s dwelling is not a place but a person”.

 The idea of home or being at home conjures up all kinds of nice thoughts of warm feelings for most people, except for those who experienced bad or terrifying memories of home or who have had their homes destroyed or cruelly taken away from them. For theses people the concept of home is a wish or desires to know a place they can really call home.

Bob Deffinbaugh completes his comment on the concept of God being our dwelling place with these words,

“God is our Dwelling Place and in him we find security, safety and peace”.

 The term “Dwelling Place” has been used in the Old Testament to describe a number of things but I think the most obvious choice or use that applies here is Psalm 26: 8 implies,

“I love the house where you live, O Lord, the place where your glory dwells”.

 Obviously where God’s glory dwells is where God dwells and he who makes it glorious by simply dwelling there. We saw from many of the Psalms in the previous book of Psalms, book 3 that the Temple in Jerusalem came to symbolize God’s special dwelling place with his people on earth, as we read in Psalm 84: 1 – 2,

“How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God”.

The Psalm goes on to describe God’s special presence in the Temple in Jerusalem yet this was only a symbol of God dwelling with his people and that symbol also represented where God fully dwells, heaven itself.

Jesus spoke to his disciples about preparing a house or a home in heaven for them and for us in John 14: 1 – 3,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.

2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”.

 Peter makes it clear that we are not to consider this world or this life as our home or dwelling place when he writes in 1 Peter 2: 11,

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul”.

 Paul calls us Citizens of Heaven in Philippians 3: 20 – 21,

 “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body”.

The old Gospel song puts it this way,

This world is not my home I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

But yet, in this life we live in this world and Moses says that God is our Dwelling place at any time in any generation because he goes on to say that God is our dwelling place,

“Throughout all generations”

 So how is God our dwelling place even in this life?

The opening verse of the next Psalm, Psalm 91: 1 gives us the answer to this question,

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty”.

 What is a home, in a good sens is the place we go to for shelter, rest and comfort, a place where we should sense protection from the world around us. Well for the believer in the God of the bible that place is only found in God and according to the New Testament in Jesus tells us we can find that place of security and rest in him, 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, in this life Paul tells us that The Church is God’s household or home where we dwell with Christ and his fellow followers, Ephesians 2: 19 – 20,

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone”.

 So Jesus and his church in both this life and the life to come in heaven is our home or the place where we find help, safety, support and peace.

  1. 2. God the eternal creator

The second great truth about God in the opening two verses of this Psalm is that our God who is our dwelling place is non other than the very eternal creator God himself, as verse 2 says,

“Before the mountains were born or brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God”.

 Leupold points out that,

“In the scriptures the mountains are frequently regarded as being among the very first elements of God’s creation”.

He sights a number of scriptures like Psalm 65: 6,

“Who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength”.

 So before even the mountains where formed or for that matter the earth was made God existed and he has existed forever,

From everlasting to everlasting you are God”.

 I have been asked, if God created everything who created God?

My answer to that is simple, it is that in the end there are only two logical possibilities to believe in, you either believe in,

  1. Eternal Matter

Or

  1. Eternal God.

The first way of seeing how things were created is by seeing that something has always been there and by a series of amazing and miraculous accidents out of this matter developed everything, right down to the complexity of the human body, so wonderfully made that every part of it is designed to function in a way that life can be sustained in the world in which we live.

The reason why there must be eternal matter is that it is absolutely impossible to see how something can come out of nothing.

The second possibility is to believe in an eternal creator God who decided at one point in time to design and create all things. This possibility explains why we see order and design in the universe. The idea has been put that if a person who had never seen a watch or any other time keeping device found a watch washed up on a beach then when he looked at it with its design and function then he must conclude that there was a designer and maker behind that object he picked up on the beach.

However the main reason I believe there is a creator is because that creator has made himself known and Psalm 90 verse 2 is just one sentence in that revelation of the eternal creator God that reveals who reveals himself.

This verse says again,

“Before the mountains were born or brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God”.

The even clearer revelation of this creator God is found in the person and work of The Lord Jesus Christ, who John says in John 1: 1 – 5,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”.

John makes it clear that he is speaking about Jesus Christ in verse 14 of the same chapter,

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

So Jesus existed then before he came to earth with God in heaven and he also existed before anything was made because he is eternal as the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 13: 8,

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”.

2.  (3 – 6) MAN IS LIKE GRASS

 From the eternal and wonderful nature of God Moses now turns to the mortality or transient nature of mankind. He sets up in this second section of Psalm 90 a complete contrast between God and man.

I have broken this second section into two parts:

      1.  3        From dust to dust

      2. 4 – 6 Like grass for a day

 Lets have a closer look at the first part of this second section of the Psalm:

  1. 3 From dust to dust

Moses the man we believe wrote most of the first four books of the bible wrote theses words about the judgment of God on the first man and women’s rebellion of sin in Genesis 3: 17 – 19

7 “To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground,  since from it you were taken; to for dust you are and dust you will return.”

 Now in Psalm 90: 3, he writes,

“You turn men back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, O sons of men”

In Genesis 3 vs. 19, the phrase,

For dust you are and dust you will return”,

This is God’s judgment for sin, which is death and ever since then all men have died.

Now in Psalm 90 vs. 3 we have a very similar phrase,

‘Return to dust, O sons of men”,

This refers more to the limited and fragile nature of life for all mankind which stands in complete contrast to what Moses has just said about God,

“From everlasting to everlasting you are God”.

The interesting poetic symbol of “dust” and “ground” or “earth” is very powerful in the Bible,

Genesis 2: 7, says,

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”.

So God somehow made us from the same elements of dust or dirt but then we are told in Genesis 3: 17 – 19a, part of God’s judgment for our sin will be our struggle with the ground or dust of the earth to produce food to live,

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food”.

Then Genesis 3: 19b and Psalm 90: 3, says that we will die and return to dust or the ground we came from,

“Until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; to for dust you are and dust you will return.”

Many years after Psalm 90 and the book of Genesis was written the great prophet Isaiah spoke of dust in the terms of clay in the hands of God and Isaiah 64: 8 says,

“Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter, we are all the work of your hand”.

But I want you to see that we are not just made of “dust” as Genesis 2: 7b says,

“And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”.

Modern science acknowledges we are made up of the main basic elements of the earth but does not, usually recognize we are not just physical beings but we, like God are also spiritual beings, which we call a living soul.

This is what I believe is the significance of what Genesis 1: 27 says,

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them”.

Only, human beings have this special make up that makes it possible for us to commune with God and what Isaiah is speaking about, being molded like clay in the hands of God is similar to what Paul is speaking about in 2 Corinthians 5: 17,

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come”.

One preacher I once heard said that we are like rough raw diamonds when we first come to Christ and then God slowly but surely through the rough and tumble of our normal live chips away at making us into a beautiful diamond jewel.

All true believers are rough diamonds that are in the hands of God and are being transformed into the image or jewel of Christ as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3: 17 – 18,

“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”.

  1. 4 – 6 Like grass for a day

From the image of dust to dust to describe the short fragile nature of all men and women Moses turns to the image’s of time and particularly grass to make the same great contrast between God and man.

First of all we have the image of time in verse 4,

“For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has gone by”,

Our time on earth is so short especially compared to the eternity of God our maker, who Peter picks up to say in 2 Peter 3: 8,

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends. With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day”.

Gordon Churchyard opens up the concept of a thousand years with these words,

“Here may again make us think of the beginning of Genesis. Man and women then lived for a very long time. Methuselah was nearly a thousand years old when he died! The verse means this: What is a very long time to us is a short time to God”.

The other time image in verse 4,

“Or like a watch in the night”.

Has the same idea as the watch of the night was apparently the third part of the night, the early hours of the morning no more than 3 or 4 hours long which comes and goes each night so quickly.

Coffman sums up the meaning Moses has here of the image of time this way,

“It would be impossible to make it any plainer that God’s ‘days’ or God’s ‘years’ cannot be restricted to the limitations of the human understanding of those terms”.

God is eternal or everlasting and we are fragile and die in such a short time frame.

Now verses 5 and 6 turn to the image of grass or men and women being like grass,

“Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered”.

Moses first speaks of death in verse 5 in terms of being like sleep, that is when we sleep in seems that time passes so quickly, we go to sleep and wake up and it is morning, if we have a deep non disturbed sleep pattern.

Then he says that our lives are like grass which Spurgeon opens up so well with these words,

“As grass is green in the morning and hay at night, so men are changed from health to corruption in a few hours. We are not cedars, or oaks, but only poor grass, which is vigorous in the spring, but lasts not a summer through”.

Spurgeon so aptly concludes,

“What is there upon earth more frail than we?”

This is why I chose to wave a clump of spindly grass in front of a chapel full of young men and call out,

“Man is like the grass”!

Particularly when we are young we live our lives like we are invincible or immortal like nothing can stop us but the truth is life is fragile and short and this alone should cause us to think of God and eternity but our sin or rebellion to God stops us and we are deluded to think we are invincible.

In recent special yearly church news sheet our church sends out to people in our community associated with our church but not yet committed to it and its message I read a very interesting testimony of a recent new convert to the faith through the outreach ministry of our church.

Stephen Jackson said this about his life before he came to Christ,

“Bronwyn and I did not grow up in Christian families. Like many, I saw Christianity as the cause of more harm than good in the world. But underneath, while I knew there was something greater, I would not commit to search for God, preferring rather to be consumed by the world in which I lived”.

 Stephen went on to share that his wife nearly lost her life and the life of her new born child and this caused him, in the hospital waiting room one day to suddenly desperately pray for his wife and child’s recovery and promised God that if they pulled through he would have the child baptised.

Mother and child eventually pulled through and Stephen says he did not forget his promise to God. He contacted our church and was offered to attend a Christianity Explained course our church regularly runs to explain and present the Christian Gospel. Stephen and his wife came to Christ through that course and in the article Stephen says this,

“Once I personally accepted Jesus, a general peace washed over me and a lot of anxieties on death and earthly needs were squashed. God placed people in our lives to become mentors and friends. Throughout all of this, God has helped me to be a better husband, father and son”.

 We all need to learn the lesson of the reality of life that we are all like grass which so quickly comes and goes and that the answer to this devastating reality is what Paul simply put in Romans 6: 23,

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

 Many people are living their lives like Stephen was,

“Preferring rather to be consumed by the world in which I lived”.

 However they need to see that death consumes us all and that life is short and the only answer to that is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as we will see in the final section of this Psalm.

  1. (7 – 12) SIN IS OUR PROBLEM

 Moses has already hinted at the cause of mankind’s bleak fate in verse 3, where his words allude to the Judgment of God on the sin of Adam and Eve in the words,

“You turn men back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, O sons of men”.

 Now Moses spells out very specifically what mans major problem is in verse 7 – 12.

I have broken this third section of the Psalm into two parts:

  1. 7 – 9 Our sin and God’s judgment
  2. 10 – 12 Life is short learn the lesson of life’s shortness

 Lets then have a closer look at these two parts:

  1. 7 – 9 Our sin and God’s judgment

Moses makes it clear in these three verses why our lives are fragile and short and why death is every man’s fate. I see these verses saying , in brief,

  1. We are consumed by God’s anger (vs. 7)
  2. Because our many sins are always in God’s sight (vs.8)
  3. Which leads to God’s judgement on sin – death (vs. 9)

Let me now flesh out this brief summary of these three verses:

  1. We are consumed by God’s anger (vs. 7)

Verse 7 simply reads,

“We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation”.

 The concept of an angry God, a God who hates sin so much is even an idea many so called Christians today will not accept. In an article in “The Gospel Coalition” in December 2013, I read this,

“Last summer the modern hymn “In Christ Alone” made headlines for its lyrical references to the wrath of God and atonement theology. A hymn committee with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) wanted to add the song to their new hymnal, Glory to God, released this fall.

But in doing so, the committee requested permission from the song’s writers, Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, to print an altered version of the hymn’s lyrics, changing “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied” to “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified.” The songwriters rejected the proposed change, and as a result the hymn committee voted to bar the hymn”.

 The fact is the whole bible teaches that God does get angry with our sin and here are two classic example of it, one in the Old Testament, Nahum 1: 1 – 3,

“The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.

The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet”.

And one in the New Testament, Romans 1: 18,

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

The reality of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) rejection of Stuart Townsend words, “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied” and the hymn -book editors replacement words, “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified”, was that God’s love was only magnified because Jesus bore the wrath of God showing us clearly that God is both Just and loving. Just, in that sin must be paid for and loving in that he, through his Son paid the price of sin through his death on the cross.

In Moses day, probably when he wrote this Psalm, the anger of God that appeared so terrifying was probably the condemnation of his people’s sin of not obeying God’s directive to enter the Promised Land of Canaan because they did not believe God could or would help them defeat the enemies they would have to face to gain ownership of the land God had Promised them.

In the first chapter of the book of Deuteronomy the Israelites in the desert grumble and fail to trust God to help them gain access to the Promised land and then in Deuteronomy 1: 34 – 36 we read this,

“When the LORD heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore:

35 “No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, 36 except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the LORD wholeheartedly.”

 In the next three verses, 37 – 39, Moses speaks of how even he will suffer God’s anger and indignation,

“Because of you the LORD became angry with me also and said, “You shall not enter it, either. 38 But your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel to inherit it. 39 And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad—they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it”.

These words of Psalm 90 would have also been very relevant at the time of the editing of Book 4 of Psalms when this Psalm was placed first Psalm in that book as the Jews had just suffered 70 years of exile in Babylon owing to the many years of sin and rebellion to the God of the bible leading up to the Babylonian conquest. That also was a result of God’s anger and indignation to his peoples many sins.

  1. Because our many sins are always in God’s sight (vs.8)

Verse 8 then makes it clear that God’s anger and indignation is a result of his peoples many sins,

“You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence”.

 We all think at some stage or many stages of our lives that our sins go unnoticed but the all seeing all knowing God of the bible sees them all and we cannot hide anything from the sight of God.

The prophet Jeremiah spoke of this in a number of places in his many words to the sinful people of his day, like Jeremiah 16: 17,

“My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes”.

 David found out the hard way that he could not hide his sins from God when he was confronted by the prophet Nathan who told him that God knew about his sins and maybe this is why David spoke of “hidden” sins or “secret” sins in a number of his Psalms like Psalm 19: 12,

“Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults”.

 After Nathan told David God knew about his sins he tried to hide from him David confessed his sins to God and sought his forgiveness and we believe that Psalm 51 was that confession put into a special Psalm and in verse 3 he says,

“For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me”.

 Alfred Barnes writes,

“The fact that human life has been made so brief, is explained, only upon the basis that God as arrayed his own mind the reality of human depravity”.

  1. Which leads to God’s judgement on sin – death (vs. 9)

Verse 9 fits really well into the context of the people of Israel in the days of their forced 40 years wanderings which, as I have already said was their punishment for disobeying God or even rebellion to God’s rule in their lives.

The verse simply says,

“All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan”.

 Paul taught in the early chapters of Romans that the basic problem of mankind is sin or rebellion to God’s rule and in Romans 3: 9 – 18 he spells out how everyone is a sinner in God’s sight,

“ What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.

10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.12 All have turned away,  they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

 Sin leads to a whole heap of problems in this world and Paul says that God decided not to stop mankind going their own way but rather allowed mankind to go their own way and face its consequences as we read in Romans 1: 28 – 32,

 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them”.

 Why are there so many problems in this world?

You might ask, well the answer is we are all sinners and we are living as verse 9 says,

“Under your (God’s) wrath”.

 This means that even our short lives finish with a “moan” as the verse says which The Geneva Study Bible explains as saying,

“Our days are not only short but miserable as our sins daily provoke your wrath”.

  1. 10 – 12 Life is short learn the lesson of life’s shortness

 So sin is our problem that messes up our lives and our world and as we saw from Genesis 3: 19 death was as Paul put it in Romans 3: 23, the wage or wages of sin.

Now in this second part of the third section of the Psalm Moses explains that this judgment of God plays its way out in life as what he has already spoken about, the shortness of life which verse 10a states as the average age most people live to,

“The length of our days is seventy years- or eighty, if we have strength.”

 Most people seem to pass away today somewhere in their late 70”s or 80’s, both my parents and mother in law died in their 80’s but my father in law was only in his early sixties as he was a chain smoker and had cancer in his family and succumbed to lung cancer as a result.

If this was written at the time of the wilderness wanderings and most of the adults where between 30 and 40 then 70 to 80 years would have been the maximum those people lived to so this could also be not a statement of the average age of life but a statement of the average age span of the wilderness generation who the second part of the verse speaks clearly of,

“Yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away”.

 One writer, I consulted, named Kevin McCabe, pointed out that even though 70 – 80 years is similar to today’s average life span it was not up to about 100 years ago.

Kevin rightly points out that the average life expectancy in 1900 was 47 – 49. However I don’t think Moses main point is the average age question but rather no matter whether we live to 60 or even 90, life is short and has been made short by God’s wrath or judgment on sin.

This is what Moses goes on to speak about in the next verse, verse 11a,

“Who knows the power of your anger?

 Not only is the opening part of this verse indicating that the limiting of our life spans a result of God’s wrath or judgment but by putting it as a question it is saying most people fail to recognize that God is angry and has judged our sins. Burton Coffman makes this comment about American societies general attitude to God and judgment with these words,

“The current conception of God in our American society regards him (God) as a rather over – indulgent grandfather who pays little or no attention to the crimes of blood and lust that rage beneath his very nose, assuming that his wonderful loving grace and mercy will ignore and overlook anything that wicked men may do”.

 Coffman wrote these words in the late 20th century and are certainly true of the general view of God in my country Australia today. So people all around me, outside of my church community do not know they are living short difficult lives because of their many sins and God’s judgment on them.

The second of verse 11, 11b,says,

“For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due to you”.

 This phrase became clear to me when I read the New Living Translation version of it, which simply says,

“Your wrath is as awesome as the fear you deserve”.

 Fear here being, reverence or respect for who God is and how he hates sin and must deal with it. This is what people outside my church in my community need to learn but their many sins have blinded them to the truth about God and life.

Moses goes on to ask that even people in his day might wise up to the fact that life is short and they must learn the lesson of the shortness of life caused by their many sins and the judgment or wrath of God that produces, as the verse says,

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”,

 Bob Deffinbaugh explains this verse the best for me,

“He (Moses) asks that God would enable men to see life as it is and man as he is. Numbering our days involves seeing life as God has described it. We must acknowledge that God is eternal and man is mortal; God is righteous and man is sinful”.

 My wife has said a number of times in recent years, “Life is short and we need to make the best of it while we have it”, for the Christian this is not,

“Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”, (1 Cor. 15: 32)

but rather,

“Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15: 58).

 Many great Christian men and women have gone before me serving the Lord and the fruits of their labors have helped me to see life and God aright and I hope that in my time I will be able to help and encourage others now and in the future to do the same.

4. (13 – 17)  GOD’S LOVE IS THE ANSWER

 Some might see that Psalm 90 does not offer us much hope but rather is a prayer that dwells on the frailty and sinfulness of man compared to the eternal nature of God who is very angry at our sinful behaviour in our shortened often miserable lives.

But I see in this last section the major elements for hope and these elements once fully realised by the Christian Gospel or hope offer a very positive answer to the plight of mankind in the face of God’s judgment.

I have broken this final section into two parts:

  1. 13 – 15 Reverse our fortunes with you love
  2. 16 – 17 Show us your favour O Lord

 Lets have a close look at these two parts:

  1. 13 – 15 Reverse our fortunes with you love

I have not made much of a point of the fact so far that this is a Prayer of Moses as the Hebrew heading tells us. In this final section the prayer aspect of this Psalm becomes more obvious and the first thing Moses asked for in this final section of his prayer is for God to relent from his judgment and to change the fortunes of his people now suffering under God’s judgment.

The next three verses mention a number of times the love and mercy of God and this I believe is the basis for everyone’s answer to the sin problem.

In verse 13a we have Moses direct request for God to relent from his terrible judgment on Moses and his people,

“Relent, O Lord! How long will it be?

 Joseph Benson spells out the full Hebrew translation meaning of these words, this way,

“Return, O Lord — To us in mercy. How long? — Understand, wilt thou be angry? Or, will it be ere thou return to us? Let it repent thee, Of thy severe proceedings against us”.

 I said this about the often used question in the Psalms, “How long” ? in the last Psalm talk on Psalm 89,

“I count ten times in the Psalms this cry has been used as a desperate cry to God starting with Psalm 6: 3 and ending with Psalm 119: 84 and Tremple Longman 111 explains,

“The phrase indicates how the sufferer has been long in his pain and sees no terminus in sight”.

 Moses, I believe prayed and recorded this prayer towards the end of his long life when he was soon to climb Mount Nebo in Moab across from Jericho to look into the Promised Land but not enter it as he died their. Moses knew that God was angry with his people because they had suffered God’s judgment on them for not trusting their God and in fact rebelled against his expressed will and word. Moses died along with all the disbelieving Israelites but Deuteronomy 34: 5 – 8 says this,

“And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over”.

Moses therefore did not get an answer to this prayer in this life but we can conclude two things from this:

  1. Moses did go to be with God in Heaven.
  2. The people of Israel through the next generation did enter the Promised Land under Joshua to conquer most of it.

Lets have a quick look at these two ideas:

  1. Moses did go to be with God in Heaven

Moses stated at the start of the Psalm in verse 1,

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations”

 So Moses believed in God as his dwelling place in both this life and the next and we know from the story of the Transfiguration in Luke 9 that Moses along with Elijah appeared in what Luke calls, “Glorious Splendor”, on top of a mountain talking with Jesus (Luke 9: 28 – 31)

2.  The people of Israel through the next generation did enter  the Promised Land under Joshua and conquer most of it.

Following the account of the death of Moses in Deuteronomy 34: 5 – 8, we read this in verse 9,

“Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses”.

 The book of Joshua follows and it tells the story of the successful entry and conquest of the Israelites of the Promised Land. So at least the generation that followed the disobedient generation in the wilderness did trust in the God of the bible and through God’s compassion and love had much to sing about as God blessed them with the long foretold Promised Land of Israel.

The second half of verse 13 simply says,

“Have compassion on your servants.”

 Moses knew that even though his God was a God who hated sin and who will judge people for it, he was also a God of compassion or love. Moses would not have known how his God would have fully worked out what seems to be two opposing ideas about God but we know from the message of the New Testament that God, through his Son on the Cross would pay for sin for us and in doing so show us his amazing love at the same time.

 As Paul declares in Romans 5: 8 – 9,

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

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

 Moses continues to appeal to the love of God in verse 14,

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days”.

 This verse, again, offers great hope, hope Moses himself came through death to see the morning or dawning when he woke up in God’s presence in heaven. All through the Psalms so far the morning seems to be a image of new hope as David wrote in a day of God’s testing owing to God’s judgment on him in Psalm 30: 5,

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning”.

 Moses wanting his wailing or tears of torment to turn into singing and joy and in David’s Psalm 30 he speaks of this happening for him in verses 11 – 12 of that Psalm,

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Moses wanted to do what David said he did once he realised God had forgave his terrible sins, sing for joy and be glad of God’s forgiveness all his days and in verse 15 he makes this request even clearer, when he writes,

“Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble”.

 Moses would only see this kind of thing fulfilled in what he spoke about at the beginning of the Psalm as I previously mentioned, God being his and his people’s dwelling place. It is the concept of God being their eternal dwelling place is what Moses is asking for and this reminds me of the words of Paul in Romans 8: 18,

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us”.

 Many believers over the long history of the church would have taken comfort from these words of Paul as just as I can sight wonderful stories of deliverance of past Christian sufferers I can also recall stories of faithful believers going to their deaths in the name and service of the Lord Jesus Christ.

However many tragic death stories of faithful Christian believers also include how when they died they had a sure hope of going to be with the Lord, their Eternal Dwelling place.

  1. 16 – 17 Show us your favour O Lord

 Moses brings his prayer to God for deliverance and help for him and his people to an end with a plea for God’s favor to rest on them. He starts this request with the words of verse 16,

“May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children”.

 Leopold writes,

“In the last analysis this verse offers the potent and effective antidote against hopelessness and discouragement”.

 Moses in the face of not being able to enter the Promised Land himself prays for God’s “deeds” or “Your Work” as other translations put it to be shown to God’s servants who the parallel thought in the verse is God’s Children.

Maybe Moses hints here that he knew it was the next generation and the generations to follow them that God’s deeds and splendor would be shown to. He and the generation he lead did see the mighty deeds of God in the Exodus from slavery in Egypt to the freedom of a nation led miraculously by God through the red sea and the many problems and difficulties in the wilderness wanderings.

In one sense Moses and his generation could have felt hopeless and discouraged but looking to the future for their children and their descendants there was lots of reasons for hope and encouragement.

We might struggle to work for the Lord in our ministries today but I can recall many stories of faithful servants of Christ in the past toiling in ministry service with what seemed to be so little results but in the long term perspective their small results where used by God for a great future harvest.

I am reminded again of a verse I quoted earlier 1 Corinthians 15: 58,

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain”.

Finally we have Moses request for God’s favor for him and his people in verse 17,

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us- yes, establish the work of our hands”.

 Note the repeat of the request, which Alan Harman points out that this shows us the intense importance Moses thought here by repeating it.

The Hebrew heading calls Moses, “The man of God” and he became known as this because of his commitment to and hard work for the God of the bible. This commitment to the work of God shines through this final verse of his Psalm.

He prays that God’s favor would rest on him and his people and that this favor would lead to the establishment of God’s work through them. At the end of Deuteronomy, obviously not written by Moses himself but by he later editors of Moses writings we read this assessment of the life and work of Moses in Deuteronomy 34: 10 – 12,

“Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel”.

These words were written about Moses some time after his passing as it speaks of no one showing God’s mighty power like Moses. So even though it might seem Moses prayer was not answered as he died on top of a mountain in Moab looking down on the Promised Land. However Moses had led his people to the edge of the Promised Land. Without Moses long hard work the nation of Israel would not have been able to possess this land of Promise.

Moses was God’s man to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt. Moses was God’s man to receive the covenant and law of God. Moses was God’s man to record a large chunk of his word to us all.

The writer to the Hebrews says this about Moses in Hebrews 11: 25 – 29,

“He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

 29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned”.

Moses led his people through all this and much more so his life was not a failure, even though for forty years he seemed to be lost keeping sheep for his father – in – law out in the desert area of Midian far from his people locked up in slavery in Egypt.

However God called Moses to return and equipped Moses and his brother Aaron to lead his people out of Egypt. Moses after much self-doubt did answer God’s call and returned to Egypt at great personal cost lead his people out of slavery.

In a sense from the day of God’s calling at the burning bush in the desert up to the people going into the Promised Land God’s favour rested on him and that favour established God’s work for the nation of Israel.

We cannot tell what our work for God will eventually lead to but by faith we must trust in the God who is our eternal dwelling place and believe like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15: 58, that our work for the Lord,

“Is not in vain”.

The apostle Paul, like Moses at the end of his great life and work for the Lord wrote a final letter to his young protégé Timothy which we call 2 Timothy and in chapter 4: 6 – 8 Paul speaks of his work for the Lord and hope of being with Christ in God’s eternal dwelling place,

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing”.

God’s favour comes to us through the grace of God given to us in and through the person and work of The Lord Jesus Christ as Paul praises God for in Ephesians 1: 6 – 10,

“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, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ”.

CONCLUSION

 We have learnt in this prayer of Moses how God is our eternal dwelling place, a home for us to head for in death and a secure place for us to find shelter in this life particularly in difficult times.

We have learnt our lives are so fragile and short especially compared to the eternal God who is the creator of heaven and earth and that this frailty and shortness of life is a result of God’s judgment of our many sins.

We have learnt that our only hope is the love of God that is so great and wonderful that he paid for our sins through the death of Christ and through that act alone we see the amazing love of God for us.

Finally we have learnt that God gives us his love and favour through what Christ has done for us and we now have a great work for him to do which is to establish his people hear on earth to be part of his eternal dwelling place both here and in heaven above.

I close as usual with a original poem and a prayer.

GOD’S ETERNAL DWELLING PLACE

(Based on Psalm 90)

 O Lord you are our eternal dwelling place

The place where we can always go

For you made the mountains

And all the world we know.

 

Refrain:

But Jesus came from heaven

And paid for sin out of love.

He died upon the cross for us

To make a home for us above.

 

O Lord we are so fragile

We are made of dust and to dust we’ll go.

A thousand years is like a day to you

But like grass we come and go.

 

Refrain:

 

We are consumed by your anger Lord

For your judgment of all our sins,

And this has caused our lives to be limited

It seems like life ends as it begins.

 

Refrain:

 

Teach us Lord to number our days

And to realise how life is so short,

So satisfy our deep longing Lord

To know your love within our heart.

 

Refrain:

 

O Lord you are our eternal dwelling place

The place where we can always go

May we have your blessing to do your work

So through that work your love will show.

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 Help us Lord above to realise how short our lives really are and that the shortness of life is a result of our many sins. Help us to also realise that the only answer to our sins is your Sons death on the cross for them. May we continually put our faith and trust in your Son, Jesus Christ and do his work knowing that he is our eternal dwelling place. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PSALM 89 TALK: GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE

PSALM 89 TALK: GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE

 (A psalm that explores God’s covenant with David, a covenant based on his love and faithfulness, which says that through a great descendant of David God would establish his rule of justice and love forever in our world and the universe. We will see that this promised king, also called the Messiah is non other than Jesus Christ who calls us to follow him as our savior and Lord or king.)

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

INTRODUCTION

Many Christians face trials and set backs in their lives as they seek to follow and serve our Lord and these trials or difficulties can lead some to turn away from following the Lord. I love the stories of famous missionaries of the past and one of my favorites is about one of the first great missionaries of modern times, William Carey.

William Carey was a pioneer in missionary work in the early nineteenth century and he after much difficulty and set back arrived in Calcutta, India in 1793 but he suffered great trial and difficulty with the death of his five year old son Peter which led to his wife having a mental breakdown and then a few years later she died of a disease she caught in the rough living conditions of India. Carey also lost his second wife in a similar way a few years later as well.

However the story of hardship Carey faced that inspires me the most is the tragic burning down of the printing building where the first translation of an Indian dialect, called Bengali and some other major Indian dialects was kept. Carey lost years of hard work in this fire.

Carey could have simply just given up and went home after such a tragedy but his faith and his resolve was strong and out of what he could salvage from the fire and another 12 months of hard work he was able to print bibles in a local Indian dialect for the first time.

In fact in Indian and back home in England the news of Carey’s set backs caused by the fire helped raise massive amounts of money and Carey was able to expand his missionary work through these extra funds raised.

Psalm 89 speaks of two great things; the first is that God promised David and the people of Israel a great covenant that stated that his throne or reign would be eternal. However the last part of the Psalm, which is set at the time of the Babylonian conquest of Judah and Jerusalem in 586BC, seems to suggest the end of the reign or throne of David’s descendants in Israel.

We could well ask, like the writer of Psalm 89, what is God doing and can he be relied upon as the writer of Psalm 89 seems to be asking in verse 49,

“O Lord where is your former great love, which in your faithfulness you swore to David”.

 William Carey could have asked the same sort of thing after the fire in the printing house but his faith in the God of the bible was strong and was not governed by circumstances in this life.

The Psalm does not answer these questions concerning how David’s throne can be eternal when his line of kings was ended by the Babylonians but the rest of the bibles story does as the Jewish people do miraculously return from exile after 70 years and 500 years later God fulfills his promise of a great king from a descendant of David. This descendant is the Lord Jesus Christ who is God’s son became flesh and he through his death and resurrection makes a way back to God and ascends to heaven to reign with God forever in Justice and love.

Psalm 89 is the last Psalm in the third book of Psalms which we have seen are mainly made up of worship songs written by men who served as music leaders in the Old Testament times of the Temple in Jerusalem. These psalms were written from the time of David (1004BC) up to the Babylonian conquest of Judah and Jerusalem and the taking of the last Davidic King the very young King named Jehoiachin in captivity in Babylon (586BC) and the exile into Babylon of his uncle Zedekiah nine years later, a period of over 400 years.

The Psalms in the third book of Psalms have featured the holiness of God and how we should come into his presence remembering his love and faithfulness to us at all times. Some like Psalms 74, 78 and 79 seem to have been written in the context of the Babylonian conquest of Judah and Jerusalem and the second half of Psalm 89 verses 38 – 51 also fits well into this time period.

The problem that the Babylonian conquest will cause the writers of the Psalms (and no doubt bible believers in Israel since then) is the seeming end to the line or house of David as the young king Jehoiachin died in exile in Babylon and so did his uncle Zedekiah and they were the last kings in the bible related to David.

Yet both the book of Samuel (2 Samuel 7) and many Psalms speak of the eternal nature of David’s kingdom as does the first half of this Psalm. In the fourth book of Psalms mainly composed after the return from exile the promise of David’s eternal kingdom changes to a future hope bound up in the coming of the Messiah and through this promised Messiah God would give Israel the king of a eternal spiritual kingdom that will last forever.

Who wrote this Psalm is a problem if the Hebrew heading is correct and the second half of the Psalm was written after the Babylonian captivity as the heading says simply,

“A maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite”

 Ethan is a man who lived in the later years of King David and during the time of the reign of Solomon over 400 years before the Babylonian conquest (see 1 Chronicles 15: 17 and 19 and 1 Kings 4: 31).

Some commentators like Allan Harman offer a solution to this problem by suggesting that verses 38 – 51 are,

“Best taken as a later reflection on the covenant when some disastrous events had overtaken Judah”

 We know for sure that this Psalm had a revision to its original form by the editors of book three of Psalm as the last verse; verse 52 was added to it when it was placed last in the third book of Psalms. Like the past two books of Psalms and this one the last Psalm in each book contains a short doxology with a double “Amen”.

Editing of Psalms by the Old Testament people of the past poses no problems with me as I have done lots of editing work over the years of my own poetic writing.

I would consider it as a writer of poetry myself that no editing of former compositions would have been unnatural and unhelpful and this process would have taken place with the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit as well, (2 Timothy 3: 16 and 1 Peter 1: 21)

With the major theme of God’s Covenant of love in mind my breakdown for this Psalm is,

  1. 1 – 18   GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE FOUNDATIONS
  1. 1 – 2    Praise God for his love and faithfulness
  2. 3 – 14   God’s love and faithfulness is the foundation of the covenant
  3. 15 – 18 Trust and obey in God is our right response to God’s covenant

             of love

  1. 19 – 37 GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE    ESTABLISHED
  1. 19 – 26   God’s promise to establish his covenant to David
  2. 27 – 29   God’s covenant of love to David
  3. 30 – 37   God’s warning to disobedient descendants of David
  1. 38 – 45   GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE SEEMINGLY BROKEN
  1. 38 – 39   The accusation that God has broken his covenant
  2. 40 – 45   How the writer believes God has broken his covenant
  1. 46 – 51   GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE ASKED TO BE RESTORED
  1. 46 – 49   How long will God’s rejection last
  2. 50 – 51   The nations mocking of God’s people
  1. 52           DOXOLOGY OF BOOK
  1. 1 – 18   GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE FOUNDATIONS

 Psalm 89 starts on a high note of praise and hope for future blessing but ends with a lament for current national disgrace and pleading with God for national restoration of the fortunes of God’s people.

In this first section we will see the foundations of God’s great loving covenant promises and I have broken this first section into three parts.

  1. 1 – 2    Praise God for his love and faithfulness
  2. 3 – 14   God’s love and faithfulness is the foundation of the covenant
  3. 15 – 18 Trust and obey in God is our right response to God’s covenant of love

 Lets then have a closer look at part 1,

  1. 1 – 2    Praise God for his love and faithfulness

As I have already stated Psalm 89 starts on a very high note of praise and this is not unusual to see in a Psalm initially written by a Temple leader of music like Ethan the Ezrahite.

He clearly states his intent to praise God in verse 1,

“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever, with my mouth I will make faithfulness known through all the generations”.

 His intent to praise God, note, is based or founded on God’s great love which makes Israel’s God stand out from any other God or idea of God in the writers time or ever since. Most, what I call natural man made ideas of God think of him as a powerful force of vengeance and might and the idea of a loving God is considered a weakening of the one supreme being of the universe.

Yet over and over again the God of the bible reveals himself as a God of love. Not that God does not hate sin and will judge it but rather he hates sin and he will pay for it himself and of course this was achieved through the coming of God’s son, Jesus Christ to this world as we are told in 2 Corinthians 5: 21,

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

Even a man like Ethan the Ezrahite living nearly 1,000 years before Christ coming knew that the God of the bible he sought to worship was a God of love and faithfulness as he knew that God had given his nation, Israel a covenant or binding agreement of his love as we see in Deuteronomy 7: 6 – 8,

“ For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt”.

 The words,

Kept the oath he swore to your ancestors”

 are but another way of speaking of God’s covenantal agreement with Israel and its ancient ancestors.

Verse 1 speaks of God’s love being known,

“Through all generations”

 Which simply means God did not just express his love to people like Abraham, Moses etc. but that his love has been known by one generation to the next.

We will see in this Psalm it has been expressed again through the Godly King David.

In verse 2, he writes,

“I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself”,

 This is a good as saying God’s loving intent for his people has been set in stone and cannot be changed.

This is a point a later edition of this Psalm will question, as we believe that it was written when Judah’s mighty enemy the Babylonians crushed Judah and took the Jews along with their king into exile.

I mentioned in the introduction the story of William Carey and how his many years of hard work translating the bible into an Indian dialect seemed to go up in smoke. Carey seemed unmoved by this tragic turn of events and later realised that in a wonderful way God used this event to further the work of the Gospel in India through greater support in prayer and material giving.

Even men and women inspired by the faith of Carey and God’s help for him in times of difficulty led them to go out to places like India to spread the message of God’s love to people who did not know it. “God certainly moves in mysterious he wonders to perform”, as the famous hymn states written by the nineteenth century hymn writer William Cowper.

So this great but mysterious love of God is what this inspired Temple leader of music wants to sing about as he contemplates, we will see, God’s covenant of love to David in his day.

  1. 3 – 14   God’s love and faithfulness is the foundation of the covenant

The writer of Psalm 89 then states in verses 3 and 4 his main inspired theme of his song or Psalm, which he simply says,

“You said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant. I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations”.

 This idea of David being the founder of a eternal kingdom did not come from David himself but rather from God, through the prophet Nathan as recorded in 2 Samuel 7: 1 – 17, which we will look at little closer at in the next section.

Not only did this eternal kingdom idea not come from David but David himself is bewildered by what God is saying through the prophet Nathan and we see this in David’s prayer that follows Nathans announcement in verses 18 and 19 of 2 Samuel 7,

“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human”.

We must realise that David was not born into a high brow family and was in his childhood a simple Jewish shepherd boy who seems to have been plucked from obscurity by the prophet Samuel and anointed king of Israel. David also could not have imagined he would establish a line or dynasty of kings that would last forever.

However this is what God seems to be saying through the prophet Nathan and, as I have already said, David is as perplexed by it as anyone in Israel at the time would have been,

 The key two phrases or titles of these two verses are:

  1. Chosen One
  2. Servant

Lets have a look at what they might mean in the context of this Psalm.

  1. Chosen One

As I have already indicated David would have seen by the people of his day as being a most unlikely person plucked out of obscurity to be made God’s chosen king. The story of his choosing by God has always fascinated me and as a person who feels both socially and even intellectually poor I find David’s choosing by God story very encouraging.

We read this story in 1 Samuel 16: 1 – 13 which takes place after we learn of the obvious failure of God’s first choice of the first king of Israel, Saul. God leads Samuel to the backcountry family in Judah headed by a man named Jesse who lives in the Bethlehem area of Judah.

Jesse had eight sons and one by one seven of these eight sons come before Samuel and one by one God rejects them as the future king even though on the surface many of these boys seemed suitable. God says this to Samuel as he rejects the seven sons of Jesse in 1 Samuel 16: 7,

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 Then Samuel learns of the youngest son, David who is so unimportant in his family’s eyes he is out keeping sheep but Samuel insists he wants to see him also. Let me quote the bible text directly here to finish the story, 1 Samuel 16: 12 – 13,

“ So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

 Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

 13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah”.

God’s choice, I think, will always surprise us and when I was in Youth ministry and was heavily into preaching the Gospel over many years I found, often that the young people who responded to the message where a surprise and that only confirmed to me what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1: 26 – 29,

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him”.

Even in the original choosing of a special nation for the original covenant of love we read in Deuteronomy 7: 6 – 8,

“ For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt”.

  1. Servant

David is called in verse 3, Psalm 89,

“My servant”

 I found an interesting blog by an American man named Buck Denver when researching the topic of what it means to be a servant and I like this quote from his blog,

“Having a servant’s heart means to not only put other’s needs ahead of our own, but to serve with the right motivation—and that is to put God’s will first. Rewards, recognition or even gratitude cannot be the motivation to live out true servant hood the way Jesus did”.

 That is what God saw in David, a man who at heart was similar to himself, as Samuel said to Saul about David in 1 Samuel 13: 14,

“But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart”.

 David and much more Jesus shows us what it means to be “a servant” and Jesus expresses this best in Mark 10: 45,

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

 So another key foundation of God’s covenant of love is that it is given by God like a servant to his chosen people who are to receive it like he gives it in the attitude of a servant.

Then in verses 5 – 14 we have four great foundational truths about the God who gives us his loving covenant:

  1. He is a God who is praised in heaven and earth (5 – 7)
  2. He is a God who rules over all the earth (8 – 12)
  3. He is a God who is mighty and strong (13)
  4. He is a God who is just and loving (14)

Lets look a little closer at each of these four characteristics of the God who gives this loving covenant.

  1. He is a God who is praised in heaven and earth (5 – 7)

In verses 5 – 8 speaks of the praise of God in this world and the spiritual world where God dwells with countless numbers of heavenly beings we generally call angels,

The heavens praise your wonders, Lord, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?  You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you”.

The writer of Psalm 89, I think, wants to build up a clear picture of the God of the bible who gives to David and his people a wonderful covenant of love and he starts by giving us a glimpse of how God is praised in heaven and on earth.

In verse 5 speaks of both heaven and earth praising God, which reminds me of Psalm 19: 1,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.

However the end of verse 5 and verses 6 and 7 speak of the praise of heavenly beings and some think believers in heaven in terms like,

“The assembly of the holy ones” (vs. 5)

“The heavenly beings” (vs. 6) and

“The council of the holy ones” (vs. 7).

Spurgeon explains these terms and applies them to the theme of praise to the God who gives the covenant of love, with these words,

“All heaven would be filled with adoring wonder. The sun and moon, which had been made tokens of the covenant, would praise God for such an extraordinary display of mercy, and the angels and redeemed spirits would sing, “as it were, a new song’. Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. By which is probably intended the holy ones on earth. So that the ‘whole family in heaven and on earth’ would join in the praise”.

There are a number of such heavenly gatherings in heaven described in picture language in the book of Revelation, let me share just one, Revelation 5: 11 – 14,

“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!” 14 the four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped”.

So when we gather here on earth in our churches worship services we are joining in an activity conducted both here and in heaven namely to praise and adore the loving faithful God who gives us his great covenant of love.

In this “council of the holy ones”, God is “greatly feared”, which could mean fear in the sense of respect for who he his which we might call reverence that of course leads to true worship. It is only those who recognise who the God of the bible is who truly worship him.

It is not from some kind of earthly institution that true worship comes because many a church today and in the past sadly did not truly recognise who God really is and therefore their so called worship is and was hollow and false but those who gather in the name of the God of the bible who recognise that he is real and true and must be worshipped because they realise as the last part of verse 7 says,

“He is more awesome than all who surround him”.

  1. He is a God who rules over all the earth (8 – 12)

The next four verses of Psalm 89 speak of how and why God rules over this earth and indeed the entire universe.

Lets look a little closer at these two great truths of the bible:

  1. How God rules over the earth (vs. 8 – 9)

Verses 8 and 9 speak clearly of how God rules over the earth,

“O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty. O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you. You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them”.

 Leopold points out that verse 8 is very much like Exodus 15: 11,

“Who among the god’s is like you, O Lord? Who is like you- majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders”.

 Exodus 15 is a song sung by Moses after his people had successful crossed the dried up red sea and then saw how God smashed their enemies, the Egyptians by his mighty power when he stopped holding back the sea and drowned them all.

God shows us how great and wonderful he is by his mighty deeds of creation and salvation. The reference to God’s rule over the surging sea is probably a veiled reference to the crossing of the red sea at the exodus.

Also the sea or oceans is a symbol in the bible of chaos and disorder as we see in Psalm 46: 2 – 3,

“Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging”.

Even over the chaos of the sea or ocean verse 8 says God,

“Rules over the surging sea”.

 Jesus proved he was in fact God in the flesh when he stood up and calmed the raging waters of the Sea of Galilee with just a word in Mark 4 and the disciples reaction tells it all in Mark 4: 41,

“They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him”.

  1. Why God rules over the earth (10 – 12)

The next three verses feature more of the idea of why God rules this earth although some of the how he rules is here as well. The first reason why God rules the earth is in verse 10 which is a little tricky to interpret, it reads like this,

“You crushed Rahab like one slain, with your strong arm you scattered your enemies”.

 I have seen before in other Psalms that the Hebrew word Rahab has a number of meanings as I stated in my comments on Psalm 87 verse 4,

“We know that Rahab is a image name for Egypt from the writings of the prophet Isaiah who twice refers to Egypt as Rahab, the first is Isaiah 30: 7,

 “To Egypt whose help is utterly useless. Therefore I call her Rahab the Do – Nothing”.

 And Isaiah 51: 9 – 10

 “Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in days gone buy, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces who pieced that monster through. Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters if the great deep who made a road in the depths of the sea so that the redeemed might cross over”

 Rahab also has another meaning in Hebrew, which Allan Harman says is,

 “To behave proudly”.

 Tremper Longman III also gives us yet another meaning for Rahab when he writes,

“Rahab here is used in its mythological sense as a sea monster”.

 And Allan Harman says that Rahab personified the sea citing Job 26: 13 which says,

“By his power he churned up the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces”.

 I prefer the Egypt interpretation as it seems to me the writer of Psalm 89 had the song of Moses in Exodus 15 in mind in the previous verse but whatever it is it is clear God has control of this world and this shows us why he rules over the earth.

Then in verse 11, 12 and 13 God shows why he rules over this world because he created it and keeps it running. In verse 11 we read,

“The heavens are yours and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it”.

 David says something similar in Psalm 24: 1,

“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it”

 God is God because he is the eternal one who is the creator of this world and the universe. The bible does not give us a scientific rundown of how God did it, Genesis simply says, “And God Said, let there be” and things were created, such is his power and might of the God of the bible that he simply speaks and things happen.

The power of God’s word or speaking is how the apostle John explains how God made everything when he says at the start of his Gospel,

“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made”. (John 1: 1 – 3)

 Later John makes the amazing claim about Jesus being God’s word made flesh, John 1: 14,

“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 the Father, full of grace and truth”.

 So Psalm 89: 11 tells us that both heaven and earth belongs to God because he made them and this is why he rules over heaven and earth.

Verse 12, Takes the concept of God creating the world a step further and says,

“You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name”.

 Leopold explains the use of the mountains Tabor and Hermon this way,

“Mighty mountains that tower over the land like Tabor and Hermon which could probably represent east and west”.

 So if Leopold is right this verse is saying that God’s creation of this world is complete as it extends to North, South, East and west.

Tremper Longman 111 points out that mountains, “Signify stability and grandeur”, so the two mountains could carry with them the poetic image of the power and wonder of God seen through might and grandeur of the mountains he has created.

So the reason why God rules heaven and earth is because he created such an increasable and marvellous world.

  1. He is a God who is mighty and strong (13)

Verse 13 speaks about another foundational truth about the God, who gives us his covenant of love, when it says,

“Your arm is endured with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted”.

 I spoke before of the power of God’s word and now in this verse we have the power of his arm and right hand. I have seen before in the Psalms this expression of God’s right hand in Psalms in this third book of Psalms like, 73: 23, 74: 11, 77: 10, 78: 54 and 80: 15.

I’d like to share the thoughts I had on the concept of God’s right hand when commenting on Psalm 77 verse 10, which says,

“Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High”.

 The idea of the great “right hand of God” is an idea or theme spoken of right through the entire Old Testament. It is a term that first appears in Moses great song of the actual crossing of the red sea which this writer focuses on in the rest of this Psalm. This is in Exodus 15: 6,

 “Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O Lord shattered the enemy”.

 The right hand, as most people are right handed, is the hand of action and power and when God acts he is often spoken of using his right hand of power and might as David declares in Psalm 20: 6,

 “Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand”.

 Isaiah also speaks of the comfort God offers his faithful people by the help he offers them by his righteous right hand in Isaiah 41: 10,

 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”.

 In the New Testament the concept of the right hand of God is used in a number of places to refer to the position Jesus now holds in heaven once he had died for our sins on the cross and rose and ascended back to God. Stephen catches a glimpse of this as he is dying by being stoned in Acts 7: 55,

 “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God”.

 Finally Paul refers to Jesus being at the right hand of God in his prayer for the church in Ephesus as an encouragement for them and us to look to God in prayer with great hope in Ephesians 1: 18 – 21,

 “I pray also that your eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him form the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion and tile that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come”.

 It is interesting to note that verse 13 and its reference to the power of God’s right hand is very similar again to something Moses said in his song in Exodus 15 vs. 6. He definitely had Moses song in mind when writing verse 8 using ideas from Exodus 15: 11.

So God not only shows how and why he rules heaven and earth because he created them but he also shows his rule of this world by his mighty works in it. So the God of the bible is both Lord of creation and the saving God who delivers his people from their enemies with his strong right hand.

  1. He is a God who is just and loving (14)

The final foundational truths of God and his covenant of love is summed up beautifully in verse 14, which says,

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you”.

 Allan Harman says this when commenting on the first part of this verse,

“God’s rule is marked out by righteousness and justice. These form the basis on which his kingship operate”.

 His kingship is what the Covenant of love given to David is all about. David is promised to be the founder of God’s eternal throne or kingdom and what this really meant was not clear for at least 400 years after the exile into Babylon took place where the last Davidic king died in exile in Babylon. For four hundred years after the exile into Babylon God himself entered into human history to be born to a descendant of David and through Jesus Christ that descendant of David God established his eternal Kingdom as the Angel told Mary in Luke 1: 30 – 33,

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Jesus marked his ministry and teaching with the twin characteristics of righteousness and justice as we see in so many of the parables of Jesus. Jesus says this about justice in Luke 18: 6 – 8,

“And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

 But the foundations of God’s covenant of love, his kingdom is not just about righteousness and justice but also as the second half of verse 14 says,

“Love and faithfulness go before you”.

 Jesus spoke a lot about righteousness and justice but he also spoke a lot about love and faithfulness in his teaching especially in his parables and the best example of this, I think, is the parable of the lost son in Luke 15: 11 – 31. I think the climax of that story of the prodigal sons return to his loving faithful father says it all in Luke 15: 21 – 24,

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate”.

The father says the same thing to the elder brother who resents the return of his foolish brother. God’s love and faithfulness is often just not understood by non- believers because it is so other world or it is so amazing many people just don’t get it.

The writer of Psalm 89, got it, he knew that the foundations of God’s covenant of love was justice, love and faithfulness and when we look at the cross of Christ we see how all these three things can be one for Jesus died for our sins and paid the price that had to be paid but in doing so he revealed God’s great love.

As the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 2:9,

 “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”.

  1. 15 – 18 Trust and obey in God is our right response to God’s covenant of love

The Psalmist now moves on to say how we should respond to God and his covenant of love he has just spoken of. The key answer to how we should respond is summed up in one verse, verse 15, which simply says,

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord”.

 This verse speaks poetically of two responses to the revelation of the God of the bible and I believe they basically are saying we must trust and obey this great God.

So lets look at these two key right responses to God’s covenant of love:

  1. Trust – learned to acclaim you

For a man whose job is to lead worship through music in the Temple the first expression, which I think, means trust in the Lord is very appropriate because it says,

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you”.

 Allan Harman draws the connection between trusting in the Lord and his covenant of love with these words,

“Those who trust in the Lord are the ones who are able to proclaim this knowledge of him”

 The connection of trust and true worship has been a major theme of the Psalms in book three. We see this right from the first Psalm in the book, Psalm 73 and the last verse of that Psalm, verse 28 says,

“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds”.

 The idea of learning to trust in the Lord, which then leads to proclaiming him, is beautifully expressed in Psalm 86 verses 11 and 12,

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever”.

In Romans 12: 1, Paul speaks of trusting in God because of the great mercies offered by God through Christ in terms of offering yourself as a living sacrifice and then seeking to please God and Paul says this will be your act of spiritual worship, Romans 12: 1,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God –this is your spiritual act of worship”.

  1. Obey – Walking in the light of God’s presence

The actual verse says,

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord”.

 I think walking in God’s presence is an excellent poetic image of obeying God in our daily lives. Being in God’s presence is a key concept in this third book of Psalms and I have said before that this probably comes from the writers of these Psalms who are leaders of musical worship in the Temple in Jerusalem where God’s special presence is said to dwell on earth.

However the Temple only symbolizes God dwelling with his people and they will only know God’s presence in their lives as they, as David said in Psalm 86 verses 11, let God teach them his way, or as the verse says,

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name”.

Jesus calls all of us to follow him and go the way of God as he says in Matthew 7: 13 – 14,

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”.

He made this way for us as he says in John 14: 6,

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

Jesus wants us to go his way or walk his way and if we do he promises his presence with us always as he says in the great commission to all true followers of Jesus in Matthew 28: 19 – 20,

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

So we must trust and obey and real faith must be shown in faithful obedience to what Jesus has commanded us to do just as John tells us in 2 John 1: 6,

“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love”.

The one thing I have not commented on in this verse, verse 15 of Psalm 89, is the word “Blessed” which kicks off the verse.

The word “Blessed” features right throughout the book of Psalms and is in fact the first word in the first Psalm in the first book of Psalms, Psalm 1: 1,

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stands in the way of sinners or sits in the seat of mockers”.

I have mentioned in other Psalm talks that the Hebrew word for “Blessed” means something like “true godly happiness”, happiness like the peace Paul speaks of in Philippians 4: 7,

“Transcends all understanding”

And this peace or happiness comes only to those who trust and obey as the first verse and chorus of John H. Sammis hymn, “Trust and obey” says,

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

 Chorus:

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

The closing three verses of this first section flesh out what this trusting and obey God and his covenant of love will lead to or what day-to-day outcome will show in their lives and it is threefold:

  1. They will rejoice in the name of God (vs. 16)
  2. God will be there glory and strength (vs. 17)
  3. God’s king will help protect them (vs. 18)

Lets have a close look at each of these:

  1. They will rejoice in the name of God (vs. 16)

The first day-to-day outcome that true trusting and obeying the God of the covenant will lead to is rejoicing in the very name or nature of the God they trust and obey.

When I am impressed by a person I will sing their praise and so do we all but the greatest one, the one who gives us his covenant of love is the one we should always at all times thank and praise. As Paul advocated a number of times as he told the Philippians in Philippians 4: 4,

‘Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say again: Rejoice!”

To rejoice in the name of God is to rejoice in who God is as the names of God spell out in a number of places in the bible in a number of ways, who the God of the bible is and what he has done for us, is doing for us and will do for us. Spurgeon puts it this way,

“Only a covenant God could look with favor upon men, and those who have known him in that relationship learn to rejoice in him, yea, to walk with him in fellowship, and to continue in communion with him”.

  1. God will be there glory and strength (vs. 17)

The second day-to-day outcome that trusting and obeying the God of the covenant will lead to is they will glory in the God of the covenant, the God of the bible and they will find that God to be their strength, as the verse says,

“For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn”.

Continually David spoke of God as his rock or refuge or strength as he so well puts it in Psalm 18: 2,

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

David over and over again in his Psalms gloried in the God of the covenant, the God of the bible who he knew not as a theological theory but a living presence in his life on a day-to-day basis.

God in return showed favor on David and this Psalmist wants to follow in the steps of his great king or at least Israel’s great king who he calls “Our Horn”. Allan Harman points out that “Horn” is a parallel term to shield or king and God gave Israel a king in the first place to help protect his people as he, under God, would help them fight their many enemies and have victory over them and David recognised that he was only this “horn” through faith in God who is his king or horn as we have just seen in what David said in Psalm 18: 2b,

“My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”.

Later in Psalms in the last two books of Psalms David’s eternal kingdom becomes a Messianic hope and the “horn of David” becomes a name for that promised Messiah, as we see in Psalm 132: 17,

“Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp fo my anointed one”.

This was fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ as we read in Zechariah’s song in Luke 1: 68 – 69,

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David”.

So a day-to-day outcome of our trust in and obedience to the Lord Jesus we experience his divine favor as we glory in him as our Savior and our Lord.

  1. God’s king will help protect them (vs. 18)

Finally the last day-to-day outcome to trusting and obeying the God of the covenant or bible is we obey his anointed king as verse 18, reads,

“Indeed, our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel”.

Under David as king this made a lot of sense as he was God’s appointed or anointed king as Psalm 2: 2,

“The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed”.

However verse 18, made little sense for most of the kings after David, even the later reign of his son Solomon was a rather godless reign as even Solomon turned away from fully following the Lord.

Even Christian kings in the history since Jesus coming to earth have demanded absolute trust and obedience as they saw themselves as God’s appointed king who deserves absolute obedience.

It is only in Jesus do we find the kind of King God really wants us to trust and obey and therefore verse 18 of this Psalm, to me finds its meaning in Jesus who alone is our shield and Holy one of Israel and indeed the whole earth.

Paul speaks of the supremacy of Christ in Colossians 1: 15 – 20 and explains clearly why we must trust and obey only him,

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross”.

  1. 19 – 37 GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE ESTABLISHED

 After this long first section which laid down who the God of the covenant and bible is and what that covenant generally involves and how we should rightly respond to it the writer then spells out this covenant to David.

He also spells what would happen to David’s sons if they disobeyed their requirements in that agreement between God and David’s descendants.

So lets have a closer look at this second section of the Psalm, which I have broken into three parts:

  1. 19 – 26   God’s promise to establish his covenant to David
  2. 27 – 29   God’s covenant of love to David
  3. 30 – 37   God’s warning to disobedient descendants of David

 Lets have a close look at each of these three parts:

  1. 19 – 26   God’s promise to establish his covenant to David

A number of commentators point out that this first section mirrors 2 Samuel 7: 8 – 17 and it seems that the writer of Psalm 89 was inspired to write this part of his psalm with the prophet Nathans words in mind that spell out the God’s actual covenant of love to David. He also seems to have Samuels anointing of David a few years before in mind as well.

This first part spells two great promises to David:

  1. The bestowing of favor on David as the Lord’s anointed king (19 – 20)
  2. God’s promise to David of victory over his enemies (21 – 26)

Lets have a look at these two great promises to David:

  1. The bestowing of favor on David as the Lord’s anointed king (19 – 20)

The writer of Psalm 89, directly refers to Nathans vision from God that he shared with King David in 2 Samuel 7, with the words,

“Once you spoke in a vision, to your faithful people you said”.

 How God revealed himself to us in the bible was in various ways and one of those ways was through visions and even dreams. These visions or dreams that revealed the will of God and even his nature Peter tells us did not come from a mans imagination but by the will of God inspired by God’s Holy Spirit, as we read in 1 Peter 1: 21,

“For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”.

 God still speaks to men and women today, occasionally through dreams and even visions but not with a new word of God like the prophet Muhammad claimed to have had and others like the founder of the Mormons, Joseph Smith claimed to have had in the 19th century.

The reason for this is that God spoke finally through his Son, Jesus Christ who is God’s word become flesh (John 1: 14) and is his last and complete revelation as Hebrews 1: 1 – 3,

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”.

Modern visions or dreams from God only clarify this final word or are used by God for special guidance of a person or church when needed, like Paul’s vision of the Macedonian man in Acts 16: 6 – 10 that led Paul to move from Asia into Macedonia (Greece).

Verse 19b and 20 read like this,

“I have bestowed strength on a warrior; I have raised up a young man from among the people. 20 I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him”.

The writer then spells out his version of Nathans word from God in the vision from God Nathan received. Nathan said to David in 2 Samuel 7: 8b,

“ I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel.

The reference to the sacred oil is a reference to Samuel’s anointing of David as God’s chosen king from 1 Samuel 16: 13.

David then from a very young age becomes a great warrior as we see in the killing Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 and after that leading many victories over the Philistines even before he takes over as king which is part of the reason for the jealous rage of King Saul.

In verse 9 of 2 Samuel 7, Nathan speaks of how David has had God’s help to have victory over his enemies as God’s anointed king,

I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth.

 The writer of Psalm 89 speaks of this in verses 21 – 23,

“My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him.22 The enemy will not get the better of him; the wicked will not oppress him.23 I will crush his foes before him and strike down his adversaries”.

This is what actually happened under the leadership of David, David defeated the enemies of God as God led him and strengthened him to do it. In 2 Samuel chapter 8 we read of David’s great victories over Israel’s many enemies including the their great enemy of that time The Philistines, 2 Samuel 8: 1,

“In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines”.

Then the reason why God did this is spoken of clearly in the next three verses, verses 24 – 26,

 My faithful love will be with him, and through my name his horn will be exalted.
25 I will set his hand over the sea, his right hand over the rivers. 26 He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’

Verse 24 again makes it clear that God’s covenant with David and through him Israel came about because the God of the bible is a God of love. God’s agreement with David and his forefathers like Abraham, Jacob and Moses was made with them not because they deserved to have a covenant or agreement with God but simply because God makes these covenants out of his love, his undeserved love which is called in the New Testament, “Grace”.

Paul speaks much about this key concept of God’s Grace in many places, like Ephesians 1: 3 – 10, where Paul speaks of God choosing us to know and follow him as his very own sons and daughters to experience his glorious blessings in the heavenly realms not because we deserved that but purely out of God’s amazing grace.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 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, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ”.

God declares in verse 24 then that David would know his faithful love as it will be with him and through the name or character of God his “horn” or reign will be exalted.

In verse 25 we read,

“I will set his hand over the sea, his right hand over the rivers”

It is God and God alone who made David a great and powerful king poetically described in this verse as his hand over the sea or rivers. The sea and rivers poetically represented evil and chaos in Jewish poetry, as we see in Psalm 74: 13,

“It was you who split open the sea by your power; you broke the heads of the monster in the waters”.

Note how this verse speaks of God as the one who has the power over the sea or as it represents, evil and chaos. In verse 25 God says that this power will in some way be given to David who will have to fight evil and chaos during his reign.

Of course we know that it is Jesus, the greater son of David who has power over all evil and chaos in heaven and earth as we see in the story of Jesus stilling the storm by simply saying the words, “Quiet, Be still” (Mark 4: 39) and in the book of Revelation the sea or lake of fire is the place all who oppose God will be thrown into by Jesus now sitting on his throne in heaven (Revelation 20: 11 – 15).

Finally verse 26 tells us that David will call out to God as his father, God, rock and savior.

“He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my savior”.

So many of David’s Psalm speak of David calling out to God for help and salvation or deliverance using terms like we see in this verse. A great example of this is Psalm 18: 1 -3,

“I love you, Lord, my strength.The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies”.

He uses similar terms in Psalm 144: 1 – 2,

Praise is to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.
He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me”.

Note how David acknowledges God’s love in verse 2 as David knew he did not deserve to call God’s his father, God, rock and savior and its was only God’s great love and faithfulness that made this possible.

  1. 27 – 29   God’s covenant of love to David

The next three verses spell out the main theme of this Psalm namely God’s covenant of love to David,

And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth.
28 I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail. 29 I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure”.

I wish to draw out three principle foundations of this covenant of love to David:

  1. The first born great king (vs. 27)
  2. The eternal promise of love (vs.28)
  3. The eternal throne of David (vs.29)
  1. The first born great king (vs.27)

The idea that David, once a lowly shepherd herder became the first of a line of kings that will last forever seems an unimaginable fairy tale. People might argue life does not go like that; lowly born people don’t rise to the position of kings. Yet God clearly says in verse 27,

“And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth”.

We only have the briefest archeological evidence to say that Israel once had a king named David but of course this discounts what we have of David in the bible.

David wrote at least 73 Psalms out of 150, he features in the writings of the Old Testament and his rule and life is referred to a number of times in the New Testament as well.

For the ancient Jew, like the writer of the second half of this Psalm (verses 38 – 52) the ending of the physical line of the house of David was a very big puzzle.

However we know from the Old Testament prophecy and the clear teaching of the New Testament that David’s rule, as king is the birth of the reign of the Messiah King who we believe is non -other than Jesus Christ himself.

Isaiah speaks of the reign of the Messiah king coming out of the line of David in Isaiah 9: 6 – 7,

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this”.

The angels announce to the lowly shepherds outside the city of David Bethlehem the birth of this Messiah king this way, in Luke 2: 9 – 14,

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savoir have been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

So David is the first born of the Messiah king to come who is Jesus Christ our Lord and savoir.

  1. The eternal promise of love (vs.28)

Verse 28 speaks directly of God’s covenant of love to David,

“28 I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail”

This covenant of love is promised to be eternal which also can only be understood in the context of the great Messiah king who is Jesus Christ. We just read in Isaiah 9: 7,

“Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this”.

The writer to the Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus is this eternal covenant of love fulfilment in Hebrews 13: 20 – 21,

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,

21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen”.

Note how the writer of the letter to the Hebrews speaks of how Jesus established this new covenant of love, it is through,

“ The blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep”.

Jesus made the way back to God through his death and resurrection and this has established God’s covenant of love for all who seek to trust and obey the Lord Jesus Christ and what he has done for us.

  1. The eternal throne of David (vs.29)

Then in verse 29 we see again the eternal nature of the throne of David that God is establishing through the line of David,

“29 I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure”.

Again the physical line of kings of David seemed to come to a end in the exile to Babylon in 597 BC but prophets like Isaiah knew that this promise of David’s throne lasting forever would be in the coming Messiah king who would come out of the line of David which he predicts in Isaiah 11: 1 – 5, where Isaiah refers to the line of David as “the stump of Jesse”, Jesse being David’s father,

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,  the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist”.

This “stump of Jesse” or descendant of David is non other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Mary, a descendant of David is told this by an angel about the child she would bear, in Luke 1: 30 – 33,

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

  1. 30 – 37   God’s warning to disobedient descendants of David

As I have already said this great covenant of love that was given to David by God that spoke of his line or house lasting forever seemed to dissolve in 597 BC when the final king of the line of David named Zedekiah was taken into captivity by the Babylonians and later died there like his nephew Jehoiachin. I will speak more about this in the final two sections of this Psalm.

The cause of the seeming physical end of the line of David is now spoken of in this final part of the second section of this psalm. I see that this final part of the second section of the Psalm speaks of two things:

  1. God’s Warning to the descendants of David (30 – 32)
  2. God’s promise to uphold his covenant of love to David (33 – 37)

Lets look at each of these two things:

  1. God’s Warning to the descendants of David (30 – 32)

God makes it clear to David and his descendants both here in Psalm 89 and in Nathans original declaration of God’s covenant of love to David in 2 Samuel 7 of what would happen if David and his descendants turned away from following the God of the bible. Nathans warning found in 2 Samuel 7: 14 goes like this,

“I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands”.

In Psalm 89: 30 – 32 the warning is even made clearer to David and the kings that will come from his line,

If his sons forsake my law and do not follow my statutes,31 if they violate my decrees and fail to keep my commands,32 I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging”.

The story of the kings that followed David is a tragic tale of kings who basically did forsake God’s law and statutes and did violate God’s decrees and failed to keep his commands. Even Solomon in his later years of his reign fell into this Godless way of ruling probably because he took so many foreign wives who drew him and his people away from faith and worship in the God of the bible.

The son of Solomon named Rehoboam falls so far away from following the God of the bible that God takes most of his kingdom away from him and helps in the setting up of a new king in the north of Israel named Jeroboam.

In the end only a small number of kings of the line of David heed the warning of not forsaking the God of the bible and his clear stated way of ruling and living as a king of his people Israel.

The three great examples of kings who heed this warning and attribute something of the faith and commitment that David had in the God of the bible are Jehoshaphat (872BC – 848BC), Hezekiah (715BC – 686BC) and Josiah (640BC – 609BC). These three great kings of Judah don’t have the usual epitaph of their reign that usual mention how they did wrong in the sight of the Lord and led the people into all kind of grave sins.

We will see in the last two sections that the final two physical king of Judah, Jehoiakim and his uncle Zedekiah, who was a Babylonian puppet king, failed to heed the warning of God’s covenant of love and 2 Kings 23: 37 says this about Jehoiakim,

“And he did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his fathers had done”.

  1. God’s promise to uphold his covenant of love to David (33 – 37)

So the kings that flow from David’s line seem to be a failure except for three kings, as I have just mentioned. However God continues to promise that his covenant of love will not be taken away from David and his descendants and that through them his kingdom will last forever as we read in verses 33 – 37,

“But I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness. 34 I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered.35 Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness—and I will not lie to David—36 that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun;37 it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.”

I believe the original writer of this first section of the Psalm, probably a man named Ethan the Ezrahite who lived through the later reign of David and the reign of Solomon as a leader of music in the Temple of Jerusalem took the word of the God of the bible seriously when it came from the prophet Nathan to David in 2 Samuel 7: 15 – 16,

“But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me ; your throne will be established forever.’”

We will see that a probable later editor of this Psalm, probably during the time of the Babylonian conquest of Judah will cry out to God for him to honour this promise of God in the face of the destruction of the house of David around 597BC.

However the promise of the God of the bible for the line of David is very sure and strong and it contains four key elements:

  1. God’s promise of love is bound up in his faithfulness (vs. 33)
  2. God’s promise of love is bound up in his unchangeable covenant (vs. 34)
  3. God’s promise of love is bound up in his holiness (vs. 35)
  4. God’s promise of love is bound up in the sureness of the universe (vs. 36 – 37)

Lets have a closer look at each of these key elements:

  1. God’s promise of love is bound up in his faithfulness (vs. 33)

David had much to say, in his Psalms about God’s love and faithfulness and I had a really close look at this in my Psalm talk on Psalm 57. David speaks of God’s great love and faithfulness twice in this Psalm in verse 3 and 10. I like verses 9 and 10 that says it all,

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

So God’s love and faithfulness is great as it reaches the heavens as sure as the universe itself is real and large. When I went on special outreach missions as a young man to beaches on the coast of my state New South Wales over the Christmas holidays we sang many times the old children’s chorus that simply says,

“Wide, wide as the ocean

High as the heavens above

Deep, Deep as the deepest sea

Is my Saviours love.

I, though so unworthy,

Still am a child of His care;
For His Word teaches me that His love reaches me everywhere”.

 God’s covenant of love assurance to David is then bound up in the great and sure love and faithfulness of God.

Our relationship with God through Christ is assured as it too is bound up in God’s sure love and faithfulness as Paul says in Romans 8: 38 – 39,

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Times of testing and difficult times might challenge us to question this but in those times as in good times we must hang on by faith to the sure word of the God of the bible whose love and faithfulness is assured to us no matter what might happen to us in this life.

  1. God’s promise of love is bound up in his unchangeable covenant (vs. 34)

This verse makes it clear that God has made a promise of a covenant of love to David and his descendants and that covenant cannot be violated,

34 I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered”.

Some might say the covenant of love that God gave is set in stone. Of course, literally the original covenant of God to Israel through Moses was set in stone with the Ten Commandments been written by God himself on two tablets of stone, which was placed in the Ark of the Covenant, which sat at the centre of the Temple in the holy of hollies.

The writer to the Hebrews had much to say about how God, through Christ now has made a new covenant of love to us and he puts it this way in Hebrews 8: 6 – 13, quoting a number of key Old Testament scriptures as he argues for a new covenant of love,

“But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.

 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.


10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.11 No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” 13 by calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear”.

So the covenant of love God gave to David cannot be violated, as it will, through a greater son of David, Jesus Christ a new and greater covenant of love will be established that brings about the salvation of God possible to anyone in the world both Jew and non-Jew.

  1. God’s promise of love is bound up in his holiness (vs. 35)

The God of the bible is not like us as Numbers 23: 19 says,

“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil?”

 God is holy or set apart from us and he is totally righteous and can do no wrong as Isaiah says in Isaiah 5: 16,

“But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will be proved holy by his righteous acts”.

Because God cannot lie, as he is totally holy then his promise to David of a covenant of love is totally sure and true.

This is also true of the New Covenant of love established by Jesus who Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2: 21,

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

Paul is saying that through the death of Jesus on the cross, the death of a true and holy man, we are made holy in God’s sight and like the promise of God’s covenant of love to David this cannot be violated or changed for us as well.

  1. God’s promise of love is bound up in the sureness of the universe (vs. 36 – 37)

Finally the assurance of this covenant of love to David and his descendants is bound up in the very sureness and might of the universe itself,

36 “That his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun;37 it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.”

As sure as the sun comes up each day, as sure as the moon comes out each night is the sureness of God’s covenant of love to David and his descendants. Spurgeon sums it all up and applies it to us this way,

“David’s line in the person of Jesus is an endless one, and the race of Jesus, as represented in successive generations of believers, shows no sign of failure.

No power, human or Satanic, can break the Christian succession, as saints die others shall rise up to fill their place, so that till the last day of doom, Jesus shall have a seed to serve him. And his throne as the sun before me. In our Lord Jesus the dynasty of David remains upon the throne. Jesus has never abdicated, nor gone into banishment”.

 As the hymn writer Isaac Watts put it,

“Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
does its successive journeys run,
his kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
till moons shall wax and wane no more”.

  1. 38 – 45   GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE SEEMINGLY BROKEN

 We come then to the final two sections of this Psalm, which I believe were written by a later editor of the third book of Psalms some time after the exile of the Jews into Babylon. The reason for this is because of the changes of theme and wording that fits so well in this period of Jewish history and because clearly this Psalm has been worked over as the last Psalm of book three of Psalms by the final verse of the Psalm, verse 52 being a added doxology of this third book of Psalms.

I have broken this third section of the Psalm into two parts:

  1. 38 – 39   The accusation that God has broken his covenant
  2. 40 – 45   How the writer believes God has broken his covenant

 Lets then have a closer look at the first part of this third section of the Psalm:

  1. 38 – 39   The accusation that God has broken his covenant

So my theory of the composition of this Psalm is that the original Psalm written by the author the Hebrew headings tells us is Ethan the Ezrahite wrote the first half of this Psalm some time during the reign of Solomon after he built his temple. This original Psalm is verses 1 – 37 and would have been sung for hundred of year in ancient Hebrew worship.

Then after the Jews are sent into exile by the Babylonians two things happen, the first is a editor or group of Psalm editors put together the third book of Psalms to add to the already established first two books of Psalms first coming together around the time of Solomon. Maybe later editors made a few changes to the first two books of Psalms but most of these first two books contain the Psalms of David and other Psalm authors of his time.

The second thing that happened during the time of the editing of the third book of Psalms is one of these editors wrote the final 15 verses of this Psalm which includes the editors doxology verse at the end of the Psalm which formally brings the third book of Psalms to and end.

The extra 14 verses of this Psalm came about because of the seemingly destruction of the basis of God’s covenant of love to David namely the ending of the line of kings that descended from David himself when king Jehoiachin and his uncle Zedekiah were taken in exile in Babylon and both died there, Zedekiah before Jehoiachin.

The big question the writer raises in his extra 14 verses is expressed well in the first two verses of his extra 14 verses, verses 38 – 39,

“But you have rejected, you have spurned, you have been very angry with your anointed one.39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant and have defiled his crown in the dust”.

With Jehoiachin and Zedekiah were taken into exile and there country, Judah seemed to have lost it kings of the line of David.

It is though the “crown” or rule of David lies dead in the dust or sands of the land of Babylon, a very dry and dusty place or this could refer to the ruins of Judah also in a very dry and dusty place.

The writer of the last 14 verses is asking:

How can the promise of David’s eternal kingdom be true when his kingdom and descendants, King Jehoiachin and king Zedekiah seem lost or dead in exile?

At the beginning of this Psalm talk I spoke of the story of William Carey who seemed to have lost all his hard work of translating the bible into an Indian dialect through its loss in a tragic fire. Carey could have easily packed up and home believing God had abandoned him by allowing the fire in the building that contained all his translation work.

Carey’s faith was much greater than this as he did not give up when the fire struck but rather he salvaged what he could out of the fire and pushed on to publish the first New Testament in a Indian dialect a year after the fire had seemingly destroyed this great endeavor.

The point I am making is that sometimes what looks like disaster in this world can be and is used by God as his perfect will. Paul knew the truth of this when he wrote in 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”.

 What seemed like a renouncing of God’s covenant of love was actually part of God’s fulfilment of that covenant for as we have been seeing the fulfilment of the covenant of love to David came in the form of one of David’s descendants four hundred years after the return from exile in Babylon when Jesus was born to Mary and this descendent born in David’s town of Bethlehem would be both Lord or King and saviour of his people as we saw earlier from the angels word to Mary about the child she would bring into this world in Luke 1: 30 – 33,

30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

  1. 40 – 45   How the writer believes God has broken his covenant

 The writer of Psalm 89: 38 – 52 then sets down why he believes God has broken his covenant. I have broken this part of the section into three reasons why it appears God has broken his covenant of love:

  1. Judah and Jerusalem have been destroyed (40 – 41)
  2. Judah and God’s enemies have been victorious (42 – 43)
  3. Judah’s young king has been defeated (44 – 45)

Lets have a closer look at each of these three reasons why it appears God has broken his covenant of love.

  1. Judah and Jerusalem have been destroyed (40 – 41)

Verses 40 and 41 perfectly describe the destruction of Judah and particularly Jerusalem, the Holy city of God by the Babylonians,

“You have broken through all his walls and reduced his strongholds to ruins. 41 All who pass by have plundered him; he has become the scorn of his neighbours”.

Another Psalm, Psalm 79, written after the destruction of Jerusalem describes the destruction this way in verses 1 – 4,

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead.We are objects of contempt to our neighbours, of scorn and derision to those around us”.

These two Psalms or parts of Psalms certainly describe a dark black day in the Jews long history probably their blackest dark day as the nation seems lost and Jerusalem is but a ruin, a sad state compared to its former glory.

However this dark time only lasted for 70 years and after 70 years the Jews were allowed to return to Judah after the Persian Empire defeated the Babylonians in 539BC and the Jews were able to re-build Jerusalem again.

Why did God allow the Jews to suffer this terrible destruction of their nation?

The simple answer to that is that it was God’s judgment on the Nations many sins over many years that were led from the top namely the King himself. Jehoiakim’s father Josiah was a God of the bible loving king but his father Amon and Amon’s father Manasseh did great evil in the sight of the Lord and did not worship or obey the laws of the God of the bible.

Manasseh like many evil kings before him were warned by the prophets about what their evil sinful reign will lead to if they did not turn back to the God of the bible and in 2 Kings 21: 10 – 16,

“The Lord said through his servants the prophets: 11 “Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols. 12 Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. 13 I will stretch out over Jerusalem the measuring line used against Samaria and the plumb line used against the house of Ahab. I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. 14 I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and give them into the hands of enemies. They will be looted and plundered by all their enemies; 15 they have done evil in my eyes and have aroused my anger from the day their ancestors came out of Egypt until this day.”

 Kings like Manasseh even practiced infant sacrifice to the pagan idols they installed throughout the land.

Things were so bad that Josiah had to find a copy of the bible or law in a run down part of the Temple in Jerusalem for him to be able to even attempt to follow the Lord so far had Judah and its kings strayed from true faith in the God of the bible.

Even though there was a revival of true faith in Judah at the time of Josiah we read this about his grandson the young king Jehoiakim in 2 Kings 24: 8- 9,

“Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father had done”.

Finally even through the reign of Josiah God’s anger or wrath was still going to fall on Judah and Jerusalem because we read this in 2 Kings 23: 26 – 27, written during the later years of Kings Josiah’s reign,

“Nevertheless, the Lord did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to arouse his anger. 27 So the Lord said, “I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, ‘My Name shall be there.”

All of the great prophets of Israel and Judah like Isaiah and Jeremiah warned the kings and their people of the danger of not worshipping and obeying their God, the God of the bible but the people continually rejected their message and failed to head God’s constant warnings of judgment.

 So the northern kingdom, Israel was overrun and destroyed in 722BC by the Assyrians and the southern kingdom, which verses 40 – 45 speak of was defeated and the people taken into exile by the Babylonians in 597BC a hundred and twenty five years later.

Jesus faced the same general rejection and weeps over Jerusalem because of this rejection of the God of the bible and speaks of another coming destruction in Matthew 24: 37 – 39,

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.

At the start of Matthew 24 verses 1 and 2 Jesus even predicts the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, which came to pass in AD 70 at the hands of the Romans,

“Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Jesus warn us also that God’s final great judgment is coming in a number of places in the Gospels like Matthew 25: 31 – 33,

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.

32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

  1. Judah and God’s enemies have been victorious (42 – 43)

So God’s judgment fell on Judah and its young king by the hands of the Babylonians. Verse 42 actually says the right hand of this great foe,

“You have exalted the right hand of his foes; he has become the scorn of his neighbours”.

 The right hand symbolizes the hand of power and authority because in human terms the right hand is the main strong hand of most people. God has made Babylon strong and allowed them to conquer and destroy Judah and Jerusalem and take most of its inhabitants into exile.

These events are on the world stage of that day as enemy neighbours know about it and it causes Judah to suffer scorn or words of disgrace from them. Both Assyria and Babylon enlisted former captured soldiers from the nations they conquered into their army so some of this scorn by other nations could have been spoken as they with their Babylonian war- lords over run the land of Judah.

Then in verse 43 we read,

“You have turned back the edge of his sword and have made all his enemies rejoice”.

 The easy nature of Babylon’s victory over Judah and Jerusalem was as though the Jews were fighting with blunt swords and God was responsible for making them blunt. The first victory over Judah and Jerusalem in 2 Kings 24: 1 – 4, speak more of how what happened was the work of God in judgment for the terrible sins of the kings and their subjects leading up to this first conquest of Judah and Jerusalem,

“During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he turned against Nebuchadnezzar and rebelled.

 2 The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets.

 3 Surely these things happened to Judah according to the LORD’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, 4 including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive”.

 A Babylonian puppet king, named Zedekiah, Jehoiakims uncle was installed as king in Judah after Jehoiakim was taken off to exile in Babylon but he too did evil in the sight of the Lord and again raised the Lords anger (2 Kings 24: 19 – 20). Nine years after the first Babylonian conquest Zedekiah also rebelled against the Babylonian rule and Nebuchadnezzar himself led a final conquest of Jerusalem and after an almost two year siege of the city the city fell to the might of the Babylonians.

This final conquest of Jerusalem led to its destruction as the Babylonians tore town the cities walls, set fire to most of the buildings and levelled the Temple taking anything valuable in it and the city off to Babylon with most of the remaining citizens who survived the siege and conquest off to exile into Babylon.

Zedekiah witnessed the execution of his sons and then had his eyes cut out of his head and was taken bound into exile in Babylon as well.

The phrase is verse 43B,

“And have not supported him in battle”.

 The graphic capitulation of Judah at this time certainly rings true to what is recorded in the second book of Kings and reveals how serious is the judgment of God when it comes down on sinful people. The writer to the Hebrews says simply,

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

  1. Judah’s young king has been defeated (44 – 45)

Verse 45 speaks of the kings demise as the cutting short of the days of his Youth. Jehoiakim was only 25 years old when he became king and was carried off to exile before he had turned 30 and so in Jewish terms he was still a young man or even a “youth”.

Verse 44 reads like this,

“You have put an end to his splendour and cast his throne to the ground”.

 The splendour is his rule or reign as a king in the line of David in the holy city of God, Jerusalem but this all came to an end when this young king in his early years of his reign as king of Judah was taken off into the dark despair of captivity in Babylon and his uncle, Zedekiah followed him nine years later.

The royal throne or rule of David was cast to the ground or put down and destroyed like a dead body being buried in the ground. No more it seems did a descendant of David sit as king on the throne of Judah in Jerusalem.

No wonder in the final two books of Psalms to come God’s covenant love and its eternal rule and throne of David becomes a Messianic hope and the king in these final Psalms is none other than God himself.

At Christmas we sing hymns called carols and once ancient carol goes like this,

“O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

 Refrain:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel”.

 This is the hope of the new covenant of love that Jesus fulfilled as he is “Immanuel” which means God with us as foretold by the prophet Isaiah in the context of this judgment on the kings from the house of David, in Isaiah 7: 13 – 14.

“Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”.

 So the end of the line of direct kings from David was the young king Jehoiakim and his uncle Zedekiah who verse 45 says,

You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with a mantle of shame”.

 The splendour of his reign (vs. 44) is replaced with the shame of his exile into Babylon never to return. His people left in exile returned 70 years later but the throne of David was not seen again unto the heavenly throne of Jesus is established when he comes to earth, dies on the cross and rises to life with God forever to sit on the throne of David in heaven as I have already referred to before in Luke 1: 30 – 33,

30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

  1. 46 – 51   GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE ASKED TO BE RESTORED

 We come then to the final section of this Psalm which the later editor of the third book of Psalms wrote after it appeared to him and the faithful followers of the God of the bible of his time saw what seemed to be the end of the house of David and the death of God’s great covenant of love given to David and his descendants.

He has just set down what seems to be the death of this covenant of love in verses 38 – 45 and now in this final section he asks God to restore the covenant of love to David by probably reversing the fortunes of the last king of the line of David named Jehoiakim who was still probably in exile in Babylon after his uncle Zedekiah had died there after having his eyes cut out, been taken into exile and imprisoned there.

I have broken this last section into two parts:

  1. 46 – 49   How long will God’s rejection last
  2. 50 – 51   The nations mocking of God’s people

 Lets have a closer look at these two parts of this final section of this Psalm:

  1. 46 – 49   How long will God’s rejection last

The editor writer of this last part of Psalm 89, writing some time around the exile of the Jews into exile into Babylon cries out to God, using a very familiar cry of the Psalmists, verse 46,

“How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?

 I count ten times in the Psalms this cry has been used as a desperate cry to God starting with Psalm 6: 3 and ending with Psalm 119: 84 and Tremple Longman 111 explains,

“The phrase indicates how the sufferer has been long in his pain and sees no terminus in sight”.

So these words were then, definitely not written after the return from exile as the answer to this part of the Psalmist prayer was the defeat of the Babylonians by the Persians and the return from exile from Babylonia 70 years after the exile began.

There is a theory that the third book of Psalms was put together during the time of the exile and this part of Psalm 89, the last Psalm in this book of Psalms seems to confirm this.

The second half of verse 46, seems to indicate that the writer recognized that this terrible defeat of Judah and its king was a result of God’s wrath or anger towards them because of their many sins as it says,

“How long will your wrath burn like fire?”

The writer along with all other surviving Jews of the Babylonian conquest and exile period would have been suffering much and so a cry of “How long” is very understanding.

When I have faced times of testing in my Christian life I have felt like time had suddenly stood still and changes sometimes seemed to go so slowly. I remember two periods of unemployment in my long working life, which both only lasted about 3 months but those three months seemed a long time and I remember praying many desperate prayers during that difficult time in my life.

One scripture I often used in my prayers during those time was Proverbs 3: 5 – 6,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”.

The writer and his fellow Jews suffered pain and difficulty much longer than three months as it took 70 years before God answered his people’s prayer with a yes, your punishment is over and you can return to the Promised Land once more.

Then the writer prayers about his own sense of how fragile and fleeting his life is in verses 47 – 48, especially in the oppressed situation he and his nation is going through in the time of the Babylonian conquest and exile,

“Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all men! What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave”.

 These two verses make a lot of sense only in the context of his nations precarious position and no doubt during the time of the Babylonian conquest the writer witnessed the whole- sale slaughter of many of his people. During dark and terrible times of war life often seems cheap as so many simply perish with often no time to even bury the dead. At the time of writing this Psalm talk the Syrian city of Aleppo, which for some time has witnessed some say the worst destruction and death since the Second World War.

Well may the people still alive today in Aleppo ask,

“Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all men!”

Like present- day Aleppo, life in Judah and even Jerusalem seemed cheap and fragile and all its inhabitants felt constantly threatened by their enemies who showed no sign of giving up their reign of terror and death.

In dark times of our lives we might ask the same questions and if we have witnessed the death of someone close to us we might go on to ask what the writer of Psalm 89 asks in verse 48,

“What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave?”

 The ultimate answer to this question of our writer was over 400 years away in the future because it is only in The Gospel message of the Lord Jesus Christ do we find God’s ultimate hope for the dark power of death and the grave.

In the previous Psalm, Psalm 88, the writer there asks many questions about the darkness of death and in my Psalm talk I offer this answer to it,

“Death and what followed it for a ancient Hebrew was a much darker reality for them than it is for us who know the wonderful teaching of the New Testament like Jesus words in John 11: 25,

 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

 The Gospel message Jesus proclaimed is summed up by the apostle John in his famous verse, John 3: 16,

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

So what man can live and not see death?

Well, no man really, but what man can die and then see life?

The New Testaments answer to that is, those who put their faith and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior”.

Who can save himself from the power of the grave?

The answer here is, on one again but who can be saved by God from the power of the grave and the answer is, those who put their faith and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior”.

As John 3: 15 says, again,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

Finally the writer of Psalm 89 asks the question he really wants answered in verse 49,

“O Lord, where is your former great love, which in your faithfulness you swore to David?”

 To me the reality of this question is that for hundred of years men like our editor writer of the last part of this Psalm sang the words of the first part written as far back as the time of Solomon which spoke of God’s covenant of love to David. A covenant promise that continued the great covenant promise to Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation that would last forever.

David would be the father of a line of kings of that eternal nation that also would rule forever. This covenant was a covenant of love because as the writer of verse 49 says it came out of the great love and faithfulness of the God of the bible.

But, now in our writers time the house of David seems lost and even the nation seemed doomed, not living in its land and captives again by another foreign nation, Babylon. But even in this dark time God offers hope through his prophet Jeremiah who in Jeremiah 29: 10 – 14,

“This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 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.”

Even during this 70 years in Babylon Jeremiah speaks of the people in exile prospering even in exile and some scholars have pointed out that many Jews actually did not return after the time of the exile.

However even though the nation returned from exile, no king of the line of David returned as the last king of the line of David, Jehoiakim died in exile eventually in a privileged position as he actually ate at the kings table before he died in Babylon (2 Kings 24: 27 – 29).

Even the puppet king, Jehoiakim’s uncle named Zedekiah died in Babylon in disgrace and as a tortured prisoner, who had his eyes cut out and his sons killed because of his rebellion to the Babylonians.

So how was God’s covenant of love for filled to David?

Again it took over 500 years before God sent Jesus into the world to be born of the line of David through his mother Mary and in him was the throne of David established forever, as I have already alluded to in the Angels words to Mary when she is told about the baby she would give birth to, Luke 1: 30 – 33,

30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Jesus now reigns with God in heaven as we read in 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 of his Messiah,

and he will reign for ever and ever.”

  1. 50 – 51   The nations mocking of God’s people

 The new, added section of Psalm 89, I believe was written by a later editor of the third book of Psalms does not end on a positive note. We can see what the positive note is because we live after the time of the coming of Jesus, God’s Son and heir to the eternal throne of David.

The new section of the Psalm ends with a plea for this last king who I believe is Jehoiakim not the Babylonian puppet king Zedekiah, Jehoiakim’s uncle. The writer of this added section of Psalm 89, writes in verses 50 and 51,

“Remember, Lord, how your servant has been mocked, how I bear in my heart the taunts of all the nations,51 the taunts with which your enemies, Lord, have mocked,

with which they have mocked every step of your anointed one”.

Both in the first and second conquest of Judah and Jerusalem by the Babylonians the nations, probably represented by captured nations soldiers now fighting for the Babylonians mocked the Jewish people and their king as I have already mentioned previously in another Psalm written at this time, Psalm 79 verses 1 – 4,

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead.We are objects of contempt to our neighbours,

 of scorn and derision to those around us”.

The young king Jehoiakim and even his uncles years later would have copped the brunt of this scorn, derision or mocking by all the nations present at the time’s of the Babylonian conquests of Jerusalem and Judah. Both men were carried off into exile in Babylon in disgrace. One Psalm in the final book of Psalms. Psalm 137 picks up some of the taunts of the Babylonians in exile, verses 1 – 4,

“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps,for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”

The words of this Psalm show the depth of the anguish and pain the people felt when they were dragged of into exile and the writer of this last section of Psalm 89, feels this depth of pain and anguish when he writes in verse 50B and 51,

“How I bear in my heart the taunts of all the nations,51 the taunts with which your enemies, Lord, have mocked, with which they have mocked every step of your anointed one”.

For King Jehoiakim, we saw that God did hear this plea by our Psalmist, not in his return to his throne and kingdom but at least he eventually lived out his days in exile in some form of privileged position in the King of Babylon’s court (2 Kings 25: 27 – 30).

I mentioned before at the start of this Psalm talk the true story of the great modern missionary pioneer, William Carey and how he faced such problems and difficulties when working in India. Particularly during the trial of the great fire that seemed to have destroyed years of hard work of translating the bible into an Indian dialect for the first time.

However Carey, with great faith in his Lord and Savior took from the ashes what he could salvage and within a year of hard work he was able to publish the first New Testament in an Indian dialect. His faith did not falter in the face of great opposition and difficulty.

We too can learn from the story behind the message of Psalm 89 that even in the darkest times God is working out his plan for our world and us. As the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8: 28 – 35,

“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. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

  1. 52           DOXOLOGY OF BOOK 3

Allen Harman sums up these editors of the third book of Psalms concluding verse, which is often called a doxology with these words,

This is the shortest of all the concluding doxologies, but it contains the essential thrust of them all – an ascription of praise to the covenantal Lord, with the affirmation of a double ‘Amen”.

 “Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen”.

 If this book of Psalms, the third book came together just before the return from exile, probably in the 70 year period of exile in Babylon then this word of praise at the end of a Psalm that has spoken when the throne of David seemed to have been restored is a remarkable statement of faith.

The Psalm has set down God’s covenant of love that cannot be done away with, a covenant to David that his house or family line will reign forever. However the last extra part of the Psalm seems to strongly suggest that house of David seemed now dead and gone or at least in danger of being lost forever.

Yet the editors still completed their edited version of this third book of Psalm with a clear word of praise to the God of the bible, they praise the Lord with a double Amen.

Jack Wellman writing in the “Christian Crier” explains that Amen is Hebrew means “So be it” and he says this about the double Amen in these Books of Psalms doxologies,

“He repeats it twice and in the Jewish literature, this is the greatest of emphasis possible.  The only greater emphasis that is possible in Jewish literature is to say it or write it three times and that is only reserved for God where it is said that He is “holy, holy, holy” in Isaiah 6 and a few other places”.

Maybe the editors knew the promise of a future David kingdom that would be established by the coming of the Messiah, as we read in Jeremiah 23: 5 – 6,

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savoir”.

Besides the reference to Jesus fulfilling the Messiah King of the house of David in Luke 1: 30 – 33, which I have referred to a number of times in this Psalm talk already we have proof that the early church leaders incorporated this in their preaching of the Gospel in the early days of the Christian church and we see this twice in the book of Acts.

The first is Peters sermon on the day of Pentecost, the first recorded Christian sermon and in that we read a reference to Jesus being the Messiah, king of the line of David in Acts 2: 22 – 36,

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[a] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:

 “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope,27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence”.

29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:  “Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

Then a little later on, a few years after Pentecost we have another recorded early Christian church sermon this time preached by Paul speaking in a Synagogue in Pisidian Antioch and we read this in Acts 13: 22 – 41

 “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

 23 “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. 25 As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you suppose I am? I am not the one you are looking for. But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’

 26 “Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had travelled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.

 32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:

 “‘You are my son; today I have become your father.’

 34 God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. As God has said,

 “‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’

35 So it is also stated elsewhere:

 “‘You will not let your holy one see decay”.

 36 “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.

 38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:

 41 “‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.”

We will read more of this Messianic hope of fulfilment of God’s covenant of love in the Psalms of books 4 and 5 of Psalms in Psalm talks to come.

For now I close, as usual, with an original poem and prayer:

GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE

(Based on Psalm 89: 1 – 37 and Luke 1: 29 – 33)

 I will sing of God’s great wondrous love

A love that came to us from God above.

God’s love will never ever pass away

It is a love that we can know today.

He first gave it to Abraham of Old

And now it comes to us to make us bold.

 

God’s covenant of love made David king

It made him great and caused him then to sing

Great praises of the great eternal love of God

David’s line would produce God’s rod

A king that would rule for all eternity

And show the love of God to you and me.

 

Chorus:

The angel said to Mary don’t be afraid

For you will bear a child who God has made.

This child will save people from their sin

And he will be the promised David king.

He will rule forever more

With those who respond to his call.

 

The heavens declare the wonders of the Lord

Whose love and faithfulness is in his word.

For no God can compare with God above

Who calls us now to know his amazing love.

For God rules over all the land and sea

And he has sent his son to set us free.

 

You rule with righteousness and justice Lord

And blessed are the ones who trust your word.

They rejoice and praise your name each day

For you give strength to help them go your way.

You are our help our mighty loving King

So now I lift my voice to you and sing.

 

Chorus:

The angel said to Mary don’t be afraid

For you will bear a child who God has made.

This child will save people from their sin

And he will be the promised David king.

He will rule forever more

With those who respond to his call.

 

David was promised God’s help all his days

God’s appointed king who will show God’s ways.

God will help him fight all his enemies

God’s love will be known through the centuries

Through a Son of David who one day will come

Who will be called King David’s greater son.

 

So don’t forsake God’s covenant of love

Or God will judge you from his throne above.

But Kings that followed David turned away

They failed to follow God and go his way

God would not forsake his covenant of love

So he sent his Son from his home above.

 

Chorus:

The angel said to Mary don’t be afraid

For you will bear a child who God has made.

This child will save people from their sin

And he will be the promised David king.

He will rule forever more

With those who respond to his call.

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 Help us father up above to always know your love expressed to us in Jesus Christ your only Son who came and died for us. Help us in dark times to remember that you’re always with us through good and bad and may we serve you Lord above who sits on high on your throne of love. The eternal throne of David’s line for Jesus sits their king and Lord to guide us by his word and through his Spirit to always walk with us. In Jesus name I pray Amen.