PSALM 95 TALK: OUR GOD THE KING WHO CALLS US TO WORSHIP AND OBEY HIM

PSALM 95 TALK: OUR GOD THE KING WHO CALLS US TO WORSHIP AND OBEY HIM

 (A Psalm that explores the great truth that the God of the bible is the king of everything who calls us to worship him but also warns us that we should trust and obey him or we will fail to enter heaven where we will worship God forever.)

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INTRODUCTION

Recently a retired minister who is a member of the church congregation I currently attend led the service and stood up the front and read the first six verses of Psalm 95,

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.The sea is his, for he made it and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care”.

It struck me very forcibly that this Psalm is an excellent call to worship and from my research of this Psalm I discovered that this has been recognized as a call to worship for a very long time. H.C. Leupold says that,

“From days of old the church has always recognized that this Psalm was an invitation to worship”.

So many church services today just plough straight into what they call worship with a hymn that might have some call to worship in its lyrics or it might not. The congregation then is not really thinking about why they are really there and whom they should be focussing on.

Psalm 95 belongs to the fourth selection or the book of Psalms which we know was put together after the return from the Babylonian exile and Leupold speculates that it was probably originally written at that time for the dedication of the second Temple around the time of Nehemiah and Ezra. We cannot know for sure that Psalm 95 was written for the dedication of the Temple but I do believe it was written after the return from exile and has been used ever since as an excellent call to worship by Jews and Christians.

So how and why should we worship the God of the bible?

Psalm 95 will answer this question but also give us a warning that we must praise and worship God by trusting and obeying him and his word. This is the message of the second half of this Psalm. Some scholars have suggested that this second half of the Psalm, verses 7c – 11 is a separate Psalm tacked onto an original Psalm that was written as a call for worship.

However I believe this is not the case but rather the second half of the Psalm is in fact part of a true call to worship.

So often churches today plough into worship not only not thinking of who and why they are worshipping but also failing to realise who we are and what we are really like. We are sinful beings who easily disobey God and his word. This means that as we approach God in worship we should always recognize this fact as well.

The original writer of Psalm 95 used the example of the disobedience of the people of Israel when they were at a place called Meribah (which means in Hebrew strife) and Massah (which in Hebrew means Testing) to warn his worshippers not to disobey the Lord. Disobeying the God of the bible is sin and sin leads to God’s judgment, as we saw in the previous Psalm.

So we must approach the God of the bible in worship with enthusiastic praise and thanksgiving remembering who he is, what he has done and is still doing and we must seek to do this as people who trust and obey him as commanded by his holy word.

This is how we should approach the worship of the God of the bible and we will look now at fleshing this out by coming to terms with what Psalm 95 is really teaching us.

With the theme of “Our God the King who calls us to worship and obey him” in mind my breakdown for this Psalm is:

  1. 1 – 5   COME WORSHIP GOD THE KING WHO SAVES US AND CREATOR EVERYTHING
  1. 1 – 2   The first call to worship
  2. 3 – 5   Worship God because he is the great king and creator
  1. 6 – 7b COME WORSHIP GOD THE KING WHO MADE AND LEADS HIS       PEOPLE
  1. 6           The second call to worship
  2. 7a – 7c Worship God because he made us and leads his people
  1. 7c – 11 COME WORSHIP GOD THE KING BUT REMEMBER TO TRUST         AND  OBEY HIM
  1. 7c – 9   Worship God by trusting and obeying him
  2. 10 – 11 Worship God with trust and obedience or pay the consequences

 Lets take a close look at what this Psalm is actually saying to us and we will start with the first section.

I have broken this first section into two parts:

  1. 1 – 2   The first call to worship
  2. 3 – 5   Worship God because is the great king and creator

Lets look then at the first part:

  1. 1 – 2   The first call to worship

This Psalm, as I said in my introduction is a call to worship and there are two main calls to worship the God of the bible and this is the first one.

Verse 6 is the second one although verse 2 also starts with a call to worship as well but this is part, I believe of the first call to worship in verse 1.

The call to worship reads this way in verses 1 and 2,

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song”.

This first call to worship contains four great elements:

  1. Sing for joy to the Lord (vs.1a)
  2. Shout aloud to the rock of our salvation (1b)
  3. Come before him with thanksgiving (2a)
  4. Extol him with music and song (2b)

Lets have a closer look at each of these four key elements of worship:

  1. Sing for joy to the Lord (vs. 1a)

So the priest or Levite singer first calls his congregation entering the Temple area to sing for joy to the Lord. Old Testament worship was not a drab quiet activity it was noisy and joyful. I read through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah and picked up this very important aspect of the worship of the God of the bible and read this in the book of Nehemiah when they worshipped God at the dedication of the new walls of Jerusalem in Nehemiah 12: 42b – 43,

‘The choirs sang under the direction of Jezrahiah. 43 And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away”.

Now that is loud and joyful worship and I wonder if people who walk past our churches on a Sunday would hear that kind of joy pouring out of our church buildings. I remember going to Sunday morning services on the Cook Islands years ago and hearing loud but beautiful joyful singing in those churches. The people sang with great joy and beautiful harmonies and many non- believing westerners were drawn to come to these church services purely to hear the joyful beautiful singing and music.

I also read in the book of Nehemiah the reading of the book of the law to the people publically for the first time since the Jews returned from exile and as Ezra read it the people were lead to cry or weep, probably because it convicted them of their sins but Nehemiah says this to the people in Nehemiah 8: 10,

“Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

 God’s love and forgiveness should cause us to be joyful not sad and his joy, or undeserved love for us is our strength. This joy of God and joy in God should be a cornerstone of our worship of him.

Paul spoke of a lot about having joy in the Lord and always rejoicing in the Lord and he says this in Romans 15: 13,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”.

The call to worship actually says “Sing” for joy and we saw in Nehemiah 12: 42b,

‘The choirs sang under the direction of Jezrahiah”

Old Testament worship involved a lot of singing and used massive choirs, which led the people in joyful song to the Lord. David spoke a lot about singing joyfully to the Lord and we read him saying this in Psalm 33: 1,

“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him”.

Paul wrote to churches about making joyful music with song to the Lord in Colossians 3: 16 and Ephesians 5: 19 – 20,

“Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

I am a musician and a singer and the writer of new songs so I treasure the gift of music God has given me. At this present time I am a key person in the leadership of music for the congregation I currently attend and I believe the promotion and leading of joyful singing is a vital part of our regular worship services.

Some churches sadly don’t believe in or at least don’t value music and this is a sad and very unbiblical state of affairs. It is my prayer that our churches will be like that great congregation in Jerusalem all those years ago who made such a joyful noise to the Lord that people heard it far away as the King James version translates Psalm 98: 4,

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

  1. Shout aloud to the rock of our salvation (1b)

The idea of a loud noise continues in the second part of verse 1 with the words,

“ Let us shout aloud to the rock of our salvation”.

 I must also caution here that I don’t think this verse is speaking about being just loud. I have been to many church services both here in Australia and overseas where the organ or guitars or both were hitched up to an amplifier and the volume was turned up so loud it drowned out the singing and distorted the words of the songs being sung.

The opening phrase says sing for joy or make joyful music and this second half of the verse speaks of shouting out a message, God is our rock and our salvation. If you cannot harmonize with other people around you or if you cannot understand the words being sung because the music is to loud then we are not making a joyful noise to the Lord we are just making a very large din or gross vile noise. Turn the music down and let the voices make the loud joyful praise to the Lord.

So the second part of verse 1 says when we worship our God we are to shout out a message and that message is God is the rock of our salvation. The metaphor of God being a rock has appeared countless times in the book of Psalms and it is a favorite concept of David in his Psalms.

His most famous rock reference is Psalm 18: 1 – 2,

“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”.

Tremper Longman 111 says that,

“Rock is a common metaphor for protection”

The Psalm 18: 1 – 2 reference is a good “rock” reference because it gives us four other protection metaphors, fortress, refuge, shield and stronghold. Here the God of the bible is our rock of our salvation. The bible clearly says over and over again we cannot save ourselves. David makes this clear in another of his rock reference when he says in Psalm 61: 2b,

“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I”.

In this Psalm David is in deep trouble yet again and he realises that he cannot save himself and only God who is greater and higher then him has the power to save him.

Paul makes this clear in the famous bible reference Ephesians 2: 8,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”.

God and God alone has saved us and therefore he is,

“The rock of our salvation”.

 Some even say that God is our rock refers to the foundation on which our salvation is founded and of course that rock is Jesus Christ as it was through him alone that we have salvation through his death for us on the cross. Through his dearth he has given us forgiveness of our sins and new life in God that is eternal.

This is what we as Christians are to shout out about in our worship of him. As Darlene Zschech modern song of worship called “Shout to the Lord” puts it,

My Jesus, my Saviour
Lord there is none like You
All of my days I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love

 My comfort, my shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You

 Shout to the Lord all the Earth, let us sing
Power and majesty, praise to the King
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name

 I sing for joy at the work of Your hand
Forever I’ll love You, forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have
In You.

  1. Come before him with thanksgiving (2a)

The note of praise in worship continues in this first call to worship in verse 2a, with the words,

“Let us come before him with thanksgiving”.

 The American’s celebrate a special “Thanksgiving” every year on the fourth Thursday in the month of November, which apparently started in 1621 after the first harvest of the Pilgrim Fathers in that year in Plymouth. They believed God blessed them to survive these difficult early years of their settlement in a foreign often-hostile land.

Our call to worship in Psalm 95 is saying that “Thanksgiving’ should characterize every worship service of the God of the bible. I’m not saying its wrong to have a special thanksgiving celebration as I saw the value of these as I grew up in a semi – rural church and attended many harvest festivals in that church. Thanksgiving as the Americans celebrate or harvest festivals as others celebrate are special one off thanksgivings but they should not replace a regular coming together of God’s people to give thanks to our God for what he has done for us.

Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 4: 15,

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God”.

Our worship services should be overflowing with thanksgiving to the God of the bible who through the Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of new life through the grace of God in his death and resurrection for us.

The act of thanksgiving is not just for Sunday worship services but Paul says in Colossians 3: 17 that it is a attitude of life we should practice daily,

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.

  1. Extol him with music and song (2b)

The fourth and final great element in this first call to worship is,

“Extol him with music and song”.

 It is as clear as the nose on my face, as the expression goes, that music and song formed a vital role in Old Testament worship. This music had one great aim, which this element of worship at the end of verse 2 simply says “Extol him” or “Extol God”.

You can get a good idea what this word extol really means by comparing how the Hebrew word has been translated in different versions of the bible over many years.

Here are three good examples of this:

  1. New Living Translation

 “Let us sing psalms of praise to him”.

  1. New English Translation

“ Let’s shout out to him in celebration!”

  1. Jubilee Bible 2000

“And sing unto him with joy”.

So to extol someone is the sing there praises to lift them up and as the different translations put it “praise him”, “Shout out to him in celebration” and “sing unto him with joy”.

All this is to be done with music as we read in some of David Psalms like Psalm 57: 7,

“My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music”.

David was a singer and musician and God had obviously blessed him with these great gifts and he used them to “extol” the Lord he loved and served and so should all of us who have the gift of music and our “extolling” or lifting in praise should also be used to lead others to do the same.

In preparation for this Psalm talk I checked out how others had turned this wonderful Psalm into music. I was impressed as I always am with the soulful Sons of Korah’s version of this Psalm but the one I liked the most was a version by a group of Hebrew Christians also called “Jews for Yeshua (Jesus). This version was full of great energy and had a lead singer, a band with all kinds of instruments and a great choir and the audience sang with them as well. Even though the words were in Hebrew this did not detract from the great version of the first half of this Psalm and I recommend you look it up on YouTube yourself.

The “Jews for Yeshua” group lifted up great praise to a great God and I hope your church does the same as they seek to come and worship our God who is the king of everything and who deserves our worship.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10: 31, that whatever we do in God’s service should be done to glorify God,

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

So if your gift is music, use it to glorify God, if it is preaching, do it to glorify God, if it is acts of friendship, do it to glorify God and even if it is a simple as serving morning tea at church, do it to glorify God. To extol him and not ourselves which is a great danger with a gift like music.

  1. 3 – 5   Worship God because is the great king and creator

The second part of this first section moves on to spell out three reasons why we should come and worship God. Those three reasons are:

  1. He is a great God (vs. 3)
  2. He controls all nature (vs. 4)
  3. He made this world (vs.5)

Lets have a close look at each of these:

  1. He is a great God (vs. 3)

The reason we know that these next three verses are going to tell us the reason why we should worship the God of the bible is the little word, “For”. This word tells us that we are going to hear or read some reasons why we should come and worship the Lord.

The first reason is expressed this way in verse 3,

“For the Lord is the great God, the great king above all God’s”

 When we bow to the Queen we are acknowledging her superior position to us. The same goes that if an important person enters our church we make special efforts to greet them and sit them usually in a special place in our church building. When I was 11 years old my church had a 150-year anniversary service and some very important people attended the anniversary service. We had the Governor General of Australia and the Prime Minister of Australia of that day at that service.

They were greeted in a special way when they entered our church and I can remember looking across and down to them from the choir stalls I was in and thinking these two men were really giants of my day and I spoke of meeting them for many years to come.

Well when we come to worship the God of the bible we are in the presence of someone far greater than a Governor General or Prime Minister of Australia we are coming into the presence of the Lord of Lords and king of kings, non other than Jesus himself.

We have the assurance that Jesus is in our presence in church or at any meeting of Christian believers because Jesus tells us in Matthew 18: 20,

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

Other translation use the words, “In there midst” and I have often thought of this great promise of Jesus when I have been in Church to worship The Lord Jesus that he is somehow with us as we do it.

The phrase,

“The great king above all God’s”

 Is a tricky one for at first glance it seems to be saying, yes there are other God’s but the God of the bible is above them.

However the bible clearly says there is no other God but the one true God, Deuteronomy 4: 35,

“You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other”.

To make this clearer verse 39 says,

“Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other”.

So why then does verse 3 speak of “all gods”?

The first thing to say is that in the time of the writing of this Psalm all nations claimed allegiance and worship their own gods and they would always have many. Israel then stood out from all other nations because they claimed they worshipped one God who was the one true God.

Allan Harman gives the answer to that question with these words,

“The mention of such gods does not assume their existence, they are only figments of there imagination”.

 As Isaiah points out in his famous passage on the futility of the making of idols to represent these many gods in Isaiah 44: 9 – 17,

“All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. 10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit nothing? 11 People who do that will be put to shame; such craftsmen are only human beings. Let them all come together

and take their stand;  they will be brought down to terror and shame. 12 The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint.13 The carpenter measures with a line

and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in human form, human form in all its glory, that it may dwell in a shrine. 14 He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. 15 It is used as fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. 16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says  “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, “Save me! You are my god!”

Some ancient rulers or kings had their power go to there heads and they claimed to be gods on earth. So the God we come to worship is greater than any earthly king who claimed to be a god and greater thsn any other alternative so called god or idea about God.

 Paul commends his young understudy, Timothy to fight the good fight of faith and to do it in the presence of Jesus Christ who he describes as the King of kings and Lord of Lords in 1 Timothy 13 – 16,

“13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honour and might forever. Amen”.

 It is this same Jesus who promises to be in our midst when we come together to pray and worship him, as it says,

 “The great king above all God’s”

  1. He controls all nature (vs. 4)

The second reason why we should worship the God of the bible is expressed well in the old Negro spiritual that says:

“He’s got the whole world in his hands”

 I think verse 4 literally makes the claim of this song in its opening statement that says,

“In his hand are the depths of the earth”

 We should worship him because he controls even parts of the world we cannot and will never see, “the depths of the earth”.

Some people believe that there is a God but he is distant and removed from this world. They believe that God is not involved in this world on a day-to-day basis. They believe that God is like a clock maker who has made a clock and then he walked away from it leaving it ticking. It seems that this was the view of God that Albert Einstein favoured but his views on God seemed to change during his long life.

Verse 4 of Psalm 95 does not agree with this view of God and it clearly says that God has this world in his hands, an image that is saying to us that God is firmly in control of this world on a day-to-day basis. Paul makes it clear that God is in control of this world in a verse like 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”.

Then the verse says,

“And the mountain peaks belong to him”.

 The contrast between the depths of the earth and mountain peaks is so great that we can only conclude that no matter how deep you go God’s control is there and equally no matter how high you go on this earth, God’s control is still very much there. This implies that God is in control from the depths of the sea to the highest mountaintops and everywhere else in between.

This idea reminds me of the famous Psalm 139, sometime called “The hound of Heaven Psalm” and we read this in verses 7 – 10 of this Psalm,

Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,10 even there

your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast”.

This Palm is saying we cannot get away from God and his control of this world.

This idea then is another reason why we must worship our God who is King of everything and everyone.

  1. He made this world (vs.5)

The final reason in this first section of the Psalm for worshipping God is simply the fact that he made or created this world expressed poetically in verse 5,

“The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land”.

The sea was a powerful poetic image in the ancient world of chaos and things we as human beings have no control over. We saw this image used in Psalm 93 verses 3 and 4,

“The seas have lifted up, Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,

mightier than the breakers of the sea— the Lord on high is mighty”.

Particularly verse 4 of this Psalm relate to the mighty raging seas or oceans that terrified ancient people causing most boats or ships to keep in touch with the coast unto much more modern times when effective navigation was developed to cross great oceans. Even in modern times the ocean represents great danger as many ships and their passengers have been lost to the uncertain often chaotic nature of ocean voyages.

So God is not only in charge of that which seems chaotic as he made it. This would have been the ultimate statement of a god’s power if it is saying he controls chaos itself represented by the image of the chaotic seas.

However the verse says that God not only controls chaos and does this because he made it but he also controls the very dry land we stand and walk upon because he made it also. Genesis 1: 9 – 10 makes a very simple but profound statement of how God made the sea and dry land,

“And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good”.

This simple statement of how God made the seas and the dry land is telling us God has complete control over all of his creation as he made it.

This then is the third great reason why we must come and worship our God who is king of everything. Revelation 14: 7 simply says,

“He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Allan Harman reminded me of a great modern hymn written by Michael Perry, “Come, sing praises to the Lord above” and the second half of verse 1 is a great summary of the part of the Psalm we have just looked at, which says,

God is king above the mountains high,
the ocean deep, the land and sky;
mighty continents and islands lie
within the hollow of God’s hand.

  1. 6 – 7b COME WORSHIP GOD THE KING WHO MADE AND LEADS HIS

                 PEOPLE

The second section contains a second call to worship and further reasons why we should come and worship our God who is king of everything.

I have broken this second section into two parts:

  1. 6           The second call to worship
  2. 7a – 7c Worship God because he made and leads his people

 Lets have a close look at these two parts:

  1. 6         The second call to worship

The Psalmist continues to give his leading priest or Levite singer a call to worship but this time it has a different emphasis. It continues the idea that we should worship God because he is our maker but its emphasis is on the worshippers relationship with the God he or she is worshipping.

The second call to worship goes like this in verses 6,

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker”.

 This second call to worship changes as it seems to me to focus straight away on the individual worshipper by speaking of that worshippers preferred posture in worship which is simply,

“Let us bow down in worship”

 And

“Let us kneel before”

 I grew up in an Anglican church that had kneeling rails and cushions on those rails so you could kneel. The present Anglican church I have been attending for over 30 years now has three church buildings in the one parish and only one of those buildings has kneeling rails and cushions to kneel on as its is an old traditional church building.

I attend a worship service in one of the non – traditional buildings and therefore I do not kneel in worship anymore. Of course we all bow in prayer in all of our buildings. While I find some kind of value in kneeling still, I agree with Allan Harman’s view on what this verse is really telling us,

“While the words may give some indication of the posture in prayer, the real emphasis is on the attitude towards the Lord”.

 When we come into the presence of Royalty even today we are expected to bow as a bodily symbol of the respect and honour we give to the position the Queen or King holds. In ancient times some Kings would not allow people to get off the ground as people came into their presence such was the honour and respect they demanded from their subjects.

If God is the great King of everything then when we come into his presence to worship him we should come at least in an attitude of heart which is reverent and respectful to him because as the verse goes on to say, he is,

“The Lord our Maker”.

 The writer to the Hebrews speaks of reverent and respectful worship this way in Hebrews 12: 28 – 29,

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

  1. 7a – 7c Worship God because he made and leads his people

 Then this second call to worship makes a very clear connection to how the God of the bible has made us in a special way, he has called us into being his special people, the first part of verse 7 says,

“For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care”.

 We have then in this verse two more reasons why we must worship our God who is king of everything and those two reasons are:

  1. He is our God who made us his people
  2. He is our God who cares for us like sheep

Lets then have a close look at each of these two final reasons why we should worship the God of the Bible as our God and king.

  1. He is our God who made us his people

Israel was a unique nation on earth as they and they alone were chosen to be God’s special people and he actually not only called them to be his people he but made them his people. We read this way back in Exodus 19: 3 – 6,

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

There are other references to God choosing the tiny nation of Israel to be his special people but I like this passage the most because it speaks of why God made Israel his people.

They were to be priests or go betweens, to go between God and man in the rest of the world. Israel in one sense failed to do this because they often are seen in the Old Testament as an exclusive nation who acted like they were better than everyone else because God chose them.

However despite the nation of Israel acting in such a non- priest like way to the world God still used them to do just that. They were used by God to bring to the world his word and then his Son who would offer everyone Jew and non – Jew alike the way back to God through his death and resurrection.

I like the underlining message of the prophet Jonah who acted, as the Jewish people had become an exclusive nation of people who did not care for anyone other than themselves. Yet God literally forced Jonah to the pagan city of Nineveh to preach the message of repentance and faith in the one true God of the bible.

Yet when Nineveh actually responded to Jonah’s message he was not happy as he seems to have wanted Nineveh to fall under God’s judgement but even he had a sneaking suspicion that God would save Nineveh as he prays in Jonah 4: 2 – 3 seems to say,

“He prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord, is not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love’, a God who relents from sending calamity”.

Jonah’s exclusiveness is seen very clearly here as he is saying he resisted preaching to the people of Nineveh because he knew there was a good chance they would be saved from God’s judgment and destruction.

However what Jonah and many Jewish people forget is that God is ‘a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love’ and this is in fact is why he even called them to be his special chosen nation.

Another reference of God choosing the nation of Israel as his special chosen people says this, Deuteronomy 7: 7 – 9,

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

Israel then as a nation of priests actually failed to be just that but as I said before God still used them to achieve that and more through the coming of the Son of God born as a Jew and yet both God and man and through him the world and not just the Jews can be saved as John 3: 16 – 21 teaches us,

“ 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.

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God”.

This is the bold claim of the New Testament which Jews today still reject which many have done since the coming of Jesus Christ, John 1: 11, says this,

“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him”.

However from the beginning and right through to today many Jews do accept Jesus for who he is as John goes on to say in John 1: 12 – 13,

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God”.

So we, who believe is Jesus as God’s Son who died on the cross for our sins are now God’s children as John 1: 12 and many other scriptures present and so the words of Psalm 95: 7 apply to us,

“For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture”.

 Both Jewish believers and non- Jewish believers alike should worship God as the king of everything because he is our God and king who has made us his people. When I was a young man in Bible College I remember the first time I attended a Christian convention in the Katoomba at the Christian convention centre 120 K from Sydney and not far from where I now live and seeing up the front of that large tin shed hall the sign that reads, “All One in Christ” taken from Galatians 3: 28 – 29 that says,

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”.

There in Katoomba I joined with Christians of many different churches and experienced true worship of the Lord, which is an experience that still remains with me to this day as one of the most uplifting experiences of my life.

 According to Galatians 3: 28 – 29 we can also join with young people like I saw on “Youtube” who call themselves “Jews for Yeshua (Jesus)” and with them too we can worship the Lord as one. But we to must remember not to become exclusive like the Jews unfortunately did but instead be God’s true priests to the world as Peter says we should be in 1 Peter 2: 9 – 10,

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”.

It is my prayer that Christians will learn to drop their exclusiveness and worship God together as one and as one take his message to the world as God wants us to do as Jesus even commanded us to do in passages like Matthew 28: 18 – 20,

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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.”

  1. He is our God who cares for us like sheep

Then we read these words that represents the final reason why we should worship God as the king of everything,

“The flock under his care”.

All through the Old Testament God’s people are depicted as sheep and God is their shepherd who cares for his sheep. No finer example of this can be found in the bible than, David’s famous Psalm 23 verses 1 – 4,

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me”

Jesus makes it clear in John 10 that we are his sheep and he is our shepherd even though we are not of his flock, the Jews as he says in John 10: 16 – 18,

“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

So Jesus claims to be the Good Shepherd who God sent to lay down his life for his sheep in John 10 and then in verses 27 – 29, he makes this wonderful claim,

“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”.

This is then is great grounds for praise and worship as Peter puts it in 1 Peter 2: 25,

“For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”.

  1. 7c – 11 COME WORSHIP GOD THE KING BUT REMEMBER TO TRUST         AND OBEY HIM

 We come then to the final section of Psalm which comes as a bit of a shock or surprise and as I said in the introduction some scholars over the years have suggested that the break or change from the first half of the Psalm is so great that this last section of the Psalm is a separate bit of writing crudely tacked onto the original Psalm.

I don’t agree with this but rather see it as a very important part of being called to worship the Lord as it reminds us of the fact that we must always see ourselves as sinful people prone to disobedience and we must always be warned not to turn away from the Lord.

Also we only can worship the God of the bible because he has forgiven us of our great and many sins and that is something we must always remember as we come into the presence of God in worship.

I have broken this final section of the Psalm into two parts as well:

  1. 7c – 9   Worship God by trusting and obeying him
  2. 10 – 11 Worship God with trust and obedience or pay the consequences

 Lets then look at these two parts of this final section of the Psalm:

  1. 7c – 9   Worship God by trusting and obeying him

As I said before the last phrase of verse 7, which we call 7c represents as Bob Deffinbaugh describes as a,

“Dramatic change of mood, from the jubilant praise of verses 1 and 2 we come to a solemn warning in verses 8 – 11”.

This change is made with the words of 7c,

“Today, if you hear his voice”

Bob Deffinbaugh also picks up the other shift these words and the words that follow has made, when he writes,

“Note there is a change of speaker. In the first seven verses the psalmist has spoken, now, God Himself speaks to the psalmist’s generation”.

Today, God is saying if you hear my voice and of course as the people came into worship in the Temple they must expect to hear God’s voice as there the very word of God is read aloud so the voice of God will be heard.

When I was in Bible College many years ago I remember one lecturer asking us;

“What is the most important part of a churches service of worship?”

Most went for the sermon but he said, no, the most important part of the service is when God’s word is read aloud. He said that this is the most important part of a worship service because that is when God himself is speaking without and doubt or confusion caused by our explanation of it.

Of course true biblical preaching should seek to only make the word of God clearer to the listener and also be able to apply it to the lives of their hearers.

So what are we not to do when we hear the word of God?

The answer to that is in the next two verses that read like this,

“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah as you did that day at Massah in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had not seen what I did”.

To understand what these two verses are saying I have broken them into three aspects:

  1. Do not harden your hearts
  2. Like the people did at Meriba and Massah
  3. As your fathers tested me (God)

Let me now explain what I think these aspects are actually saying,

  1. Do not harden your hearts

Daryl Evans writes in an article I read on the NET entitled “What does it mean to have a hardened heart”,

“So when the writers of Scripture talk about a hardened heart they are not obviously talking about the physical heart but a hardness of our inner soul that is resisting the will of Almighty God”.

 Evens then answers the next question people usually ask;

Why then do people harden their hearts?

His answer is sin and particularly pride which is at the root of sin and he gives verse 3 of the one chapter book Obadiah as a reference, which says,

“The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’”

A great example of this sin of pride and stubborn disbelief whch another way of describing, “hardening our hearts” is Pharaoh in Egypt in the story of the Israelites Exodus from Egypt and how he after seeing a clear demonstration of God’s power and might refused to acknowledge this and instead we read words like we find in Exodus 7: 13,

“Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said”.

Paul speaks of the hardening of the heart in Ephesians 4: 18 when he is describing what his readers were like before they came to faith in Christ,

“They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts”.

Non- believers say Christians will believe anything to justify their faith but I think it is actually the other way round non- believers will believe anything to deny the truth of God and his Gospel message.

So the big warning of Psalm 95 is that as you come into the presence of God in worship make sure your hearts are not set on disobedience. Make sure you do not harden your hearts to what God might be saying to you from his word.

Note this is said to believers not non – believers so the sin of pride that shows itself in hardening our hearts is something even believers must be warned about as we are still sinful fallen beings and Satan can and will tempt us to look away from God and his word and harden our hearts to its message.

  1. Like the people did at Meriba and Massah

 The writer of Psalm 95 then says to his listeners in his great call to worship to remember what happened to the people of the past, particularly the people of Israel in the 40 -year wanderings. The first part of verse 9 actually says this,

“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah as you did that day at Massah in the desert”.

To understand these words we need to go back to the two accounts of what happened at Meribah and Massah which is found in Exodus 17: 1 – 7 and Numbers 20: 1 – 13.

Briefly then this is the story of the people in the wilderness grumbling and not showing faith in God to provide water for them when they needed it.

Both accounts speak of the people saying words like we read in Numbers 20: 4 – 5,

“Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

These people had already seen the miraculous plagues in Egypt which led to their ability to flee the slavery of Egypt, they had seen God leading by cloud at day and the pillar of fire at night and they had seen how God opened up the red sea so they could cross and then saw how it closed to kill and Egyptian army. Then they saw and heard the prescience of God on Mount Sinai and then the provision of miraculous food in the desert but now they could not believe that God could provide them water in the desert.

We sense even the frustration of Moses in his words to the people in Exodus 17: 2,

“Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”

The people got their water from God when he miraculously provided water out of a rock but the people had failed the test that day. The Hebrew word Massah actually means “Testing” and Meribah means “Strife”

So when the people faced strife they did not put their faith in God, rather they grumbled and showed disobedience to the Lord so they failed the test.

Peter says this about God’s testing of our faith through hardship or difficulty in 1 Peter 1: 6 – 7,

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

The next time you face difficulty in your life what will you do grumble and complain with a hardened heart or have faith in God and pass the test of strife.

This is something then we must always consider as we come to worship God that we are sinners who are prone to hardening our hearts to God and his word. So many people rush into worship in their churches with the wrong attitude in their hearts and they might wonder why God does not seem alive and real in their worship of him.

  1. As your father tested me (God)

At Meribah and Massah God was testing the faith of his people through the provision of water but the people failed and as this phrase in the verse says they ended up testing God. Albert Barnes makes it clear what this phrase actually means,

“They tried my patience, to see how much I would bear. This does not mean, as it commonly does now with us, to place inducements before one to lead him into sin, but to try one – to put his patience to the test. This they did, in the case referred to, by their obduracy (stubborn) and evil conduct”.

 We saw how the people’s reaction to lack of water and grumbling words to Moses tested or tried the patience of Moses and now we see how much more it tried the perfect patience of our Lord and maker.

We see how God viewed the actions and words of the people in Exodus 17: 7,

“And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

 We see the terrible lack of faith these people had in God with those words they are reported to have said,

“Is the Lord among us or not?”

 As I said before they had seen so much of God’s miraculous deeds yet they grumble and say is the Lord really with us.

Verse 9 says just that right at the end,

“Though they had seen what I did”

The Jews had not changed even in Jesus day as in a number of places in the Gospels they asked Jesus for a sign or a miracles even after he healed a deaf man and provided a miraculous meal for a large crowd out a small boys lunch we read this in Mark 8: 11 – 13,

“The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side”.

Jesus rises from the dead yet they still refuse to believe in him, now that’s real hardening of the heart and testing of God.

Even today people want signs miracles to believe but as I said to a high school scripture class years ago who said “show us God and we will believe”, even if it was possible for me to pull God out of my bag and he stood in front of you I believe you would still would not believe in him.

I went on to explain that God is so great and different from us he could not be pulled out of a bag. However he has revealed himself in a way we can see and understand and that was through The Lord Jesus Christ who is God become a man who reveals God to us.

I had others say then why does God need a book to speak to us and I said what do you want a constant booming voice from the sky, no a book is a far better way of communicating as anyone anywhere can either hear is read or read it for themselves.

The reality is if people don’t wont to believe in God they will find plenty of things or arguments to convince themselves and others not to believe in him.

  1. 10 – 11 Worship God with trust and obedience or pay the consequences

The Psalm end on a rather sad and blunt note in the last two verses that simply say,

“For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways. So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest”.

 These words would have been a serious warning to their original hearers who I believe had just come through 70 years of exile in Babylon owing to the sin or hardness of heart of a previous generation. Now they are reminded of the wilderness generation who also experienced the discipline and suffering caused by disobedience to the God of the bible.

This grumbling unbelieving generation at Meribah had another time of disobedience when they rejected God’s leading to enter the Promised Land because of a bad report from some spies they had sent into the Promised Land. Numbers 14: 1 – 4 records their reaction to the spies report,

“That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

 Numbers 14 goes on to record how two of the 12 spies, Joshua and Caleb had shown faith in the Lord to help them take the land for them and when they tried to convince the rest of the people to do the same the people picked up stones to kill them.

God reacts to this in a very righteous angry way and wants to kill this faithless generation but after Moses pleads for forgiveness for them based on God’s abounding love and forgiving nature. Then we read God’s answer to Moses in Numbers 14: 20 – 25,

“The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. 25 Since the Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.”

 So Caleb and Joshua end up being the only member of this generation to see the Promised Land and for 40 years one by one this generation dies in a difficult wilderness wandering.

As the last verse says,

“So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest”.

 The concept of rest here is entering the Promised Land but the writer to the Hebrews quotes this last section and, I think refers to a far great sense of “Rest” which is entering our eternal home in heaven. His application of this passage is in Hebrews 3: 12 – 19,

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.

 15 As has just been said:“ Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief”.

 The ending of the Psalm on the blunt and bleak note of God’s judgement for disobedience and hardness of heart shows us that worshipping the God of the bible should be done joyfully but yet it is a serious enterprise but if we have faith in Christ and show that in our lives in with obedience to him then we can enter into God’s presence in the way the writer to the Hebrews speaks of in Hebrews 4: 16,

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.

 I close as usual with an original poem / song and a prayer:

 COME NOW AND WORSHIP THE LORD

(Based on Psalm 95)

 Come let us sing to the Lord

Joyfully shout to our Rock

For he saves us and protects us now

By his love and his mighty power.

 

Come to the Lord with praise

Lift up his name with a song

Yes our God is the king the mighty one

For he made this world and every one.

 

Bridge 1:

Do not harden your hearts

Like the Israelites of long ago

Who turned from the Lord they did know

When from Egypt he had helped them to go.

 

Come to the creator God

Come now and worship the Lord

Who controls the land and the sea

For he formed them by his word you see.

 

Come let us bow and worship our God

Who is the one who made us all.

For he is our God and we are his sheep

And his care and love for us is so deep.

 

Bridge 2:

You must trust in the Lord

And not stray from his word

For Jesus died for your sins on the cross

And to turn from him would be your loss.

 

Come now and worship the Lord

Come now and joyfully sing.

For our God is a great and mighty King

And he calls us now to follow him

Yes he calls us all to follow him.

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 O Lord above help us to come into your presence with a song of praise for you are a great God and king above all kings and you love us so much. You showed this love to us by sending Jesus Christ into this world to die for our sins on the cross. Help us to never turn away from following him and may we worship only him all the days of our lives. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

PSALM 94 TALK: OUR GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES

PSALM 94 TALK: OUR GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES

 (A Psalm that explores the great truth that the God of the bible is the king of everything who judges the sinful deeds of all mankind but who also is a God of amazing undeserving love who will save and protect anyone who turns to him in faith and repentance.)

 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 over 40 years ago I was for one year given the special job of being the college driver and one of my duties in those days was pick up from her home the college evening cook named Mrs. Bushel. Mrs. Bushel was a very lovely godly woman who shared with me many wonderful times of fellowship. One day I asked her what she was learning at her church and to my surprise she said that the minister of her church was still working through the book of Jeremiah and intended to spend 10 years in sermons and bible studies on this book of the bible”.

I turned to her and sincerely said, “You poor women I feel sorry for you and your church”, she was very surprised by my words and said, “Why do you feel sorry for me and my church”? I then proceeded to say that I felt 10 years on sin and judgment would be a very painful experience in my mind. Mrs. Bushel shared with me that even though the book of Jeremiah contained a lot on sin and judgment it also had teaching about the great-underserved love of God and offered those who truly believe in that God great hope in the face of God’s judgment.

Maybe Mrs. Bushel minister felt he was called by God to have a Jeremiah type ministry which was a very hard and unresponsive ministry as the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed God’s message with virtually no response and on eight occasions he had to be saved from death as the King of Judah or other leading men sought to kill him to stop him telling them his damming prophecies of their sin and God’s judgment on them and their country at the hands of the all powerful Babylonians.

Psalm 94 is a Psalm that presents the same message of Jeremiah of the judgment of God on the sinful nation of Israel. This Psalm contains so much of what happened to Jeremiah and what he preached on God’s judgment that it could have been written by him. I believe he or some other prominent Godly person like him wrote this Psalm in a similar time period to Jeremiah’s long ministry. Throughout my opening up of this Psalm I will refer to the book of Jeremiah when it relates to the message and story of Jeremiah in this Psalm.

We live in times when the Godless and arrogant attitudes of many people today match the people of Jeremiah’s day so Psalm 94 and the book of Jeremiah has much to say to people today. Maybe we are seeing this because just as God’s judgment was close to the time of the people of Jeremiah’s day so the final judgment of the whole world could be close to us.

Even if the return of the Lord Jesus Christ does not come in our time it will come eventually as both Jesus and the teaching of the New Testament declares in many places that Jesus is returning and when he does the final judgment of God will come, as we read in a passage 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.

 This Psalm fits into the theme of “Our God the king” (Psalms 93 – 100) because as Allan Harman says,

“It is related to the other kingship psalms in that the appeal to the Lord as the God of vengeance recognizes that he is the great judge and king”.

 Ancient kings acted as both authors of laws for their lands and people and upholders of those laws and often they sat on their thrones and acted as judge over their people. They had the power to both save lives and condemn them and often kings of the past did not administer justice but rather frightening terror inspired by their lust for power and by the sinful desires of their evil hearts.

Our God, the God of the bible is not like these Godless wicked kings of the past as verse 20 of this Psalm declares,

“Can a corrupt throne be allied with you (God) – one that brings on misery by its decrees?

 The answer is of course a resounding no as our God judges as verse 15a declares,

“Judgment will again be founded on righteousness”.

 Our God is not only a just or Holy Judge but also a loving God, who saves those who turn from sin to seek to serve him as verse 18 declares,

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping, your love, O Lord supported me”.

 So I hope we will learn from the message of this Psalm and the book of Jeremiah that God will judge sin and does offer love and forgiveness to those who truly turn to him in faith and repentance.

With the theme of “Our God the king who Judges” in mind my breakdown for this Psalm is:

  1. 1 – 3   GOD THE KING IS THE JUDGE OF THE WHOLE WORLD
  1. 1 – 2   God the avenging judge
  2. 3         A call for God to judge
  1. 4 – 11 THE FOOLS WHO OPPOSE GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES
  1. 4 – 7   Description of those who oppose God the king who judges
  2. 8 – 11 Why God knows what those who oppose him are doing
  1. 12 – 19 GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES HELPS HIS FAITHFUL PEOPLE
  1. 12 – 15 How God the king who judges helps his faithful people
  2. 16 – 19   How God the king who judges helped the writer of this  

               Psalm

  1. 20 – 23 GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES WILL SAVE AND PROTECT

                             HIS PEOPLE AND JUDGE THOSE WHO OPPOSE HIM

  1. 20 – 21   God the king who judges is over earthly kings
  2. 22 – 23   God the king who judges protects his faithful people

 So lets now look closely at what this Psalm is about and what it has to say to us today.

  1. 1 – 3   GOD THE KING IS THE JUDGE OF THE WHOLE WORLD

 I have divided this first section of the Psalm into two parts:

  1. 1 – 2   God the avenging judge
  2. 3         A call for God to judge

 Lets have a close look at the first part:

  1. 1 – 2   God the avenging judge

 The Psalm opens with a call to God to avenge and judge the many sins of the people who oppose him and act so willfully in evil deeds against God and his people. The judgment this Psalmist is calling for is for both the so called people of God and anyone else who oppose God and his true followers as we see in the words of verse 5,

“They crush your people, O Lord; they oppress your inheritance”

 And this was the key message of the Prophet Jeremiah

The two opening verses read this way,

“O Lord, the God who avenges, O God who avenges, shine forth. Rise up, O Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve”

 The two key phrases used here are:

  1. O God who avenges (vs. 1)
  2. O Judge of the earth (vs. 2)

Lets have a close look at each of these key two phrases, which set up the rest of the Psalm.

  1. O God who avenges (vs. 1)

The idea of avenging wrongs is a very strong human desire but is usually done very badly by us because we do it in a very sinful way. I like how H.C Leupold points out the old King James translation of this phrase, which reads this way,

“God to whom vengeance belongs”

This is why the Apostle Paul speaks of Christians not taking revenge as he says in Romans 12: 19,

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord”.

 Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 32: 35 and he goes on to quote Proverbs 25: 21 – 22

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, in doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head”.

This quote of Paul from the book of proverbs sounds awfully like the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels like Luke 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”.

 So popular is the concept of revenge that many movies and TV shows and of course books feature it like the movie “Vengeance” and the very popular TV mini series called “Revenge”. It seems that built into all us as human beings made in the image of God is a sense of justice but justice as verse 15a says in this Psalm, must be founded on Righteousness,

“Judgment will again be founded on righteousness”.

 As I said before the concept of God’s justice and God taking revenge on his wicked sinful people is at the heart of the message of the prophet Jeremiah like we read in Jeremiah 7: 20,

‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place—on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the crops of your land—and it will burn and not be quenched”.

 Even though Jeremiah preached the message of Judgment or God taking revenge it was God alone who organized or did the avenging and in Jeremiah’s prophecies it would be carried out by God through the Babylonians invading Judah and destroying Jerusalem and taking the Jews into captivity in Babylon as we read for instance in Jeremiah 4: 5 – 6, where Babylon is described as disaster from the north,

“Announce in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem and say: ‘Sound the trumpet throughout the land!’ Cry aloud and say: ‘Gather together! Let us flee to the fortified cities!’

 6 Raise the signal to go to Zion! Flee for safety without delay! For I am bringing disaster from the north, even terrible destruction”.

  1. O Judge of the earth (vs. 2)

The writer of Psalm 94 then uses a phrase that appears a number of times in the bible,

“O Judge of the earth”

Which appears for the first time in Genesis 18: 25,

“Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

 The same or similar phrase appears in the Psalms before Psalm 94 and David uses it in Psalm 58: 11,

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

 Jeremiah speaks of the God of the Bible as the judge of the earth and nations in Jeremiah 10: 10,

“But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath”.

 Jesus speaks of the God’s final judgment on the earth or Nations as coming to this world when he returns again, 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”.

 So it is God and ultimately Jesus who will judge this world and it seems clear that the writer of Psalm 94 wants God to judge the wicked people of his day that seem to surround him everywhere. He uses two expressions to indicate this,

“Shine forth” (vs. 1)

 and “Rise up” (vs. 2)

It seems clear from the next section of the Psalm that it appeared in the time this Psalm 94 was written that evil was going unchecked as we read the attitude of the evildoers in verse 7,

“They say, ‘The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob pays no heed”.

 So the writer of Psalm 94 wants God to shine forth or show himself in judgment or “Rise Up” or make clear that he is God the king who judges.

Finally I must stress again that this opening section of the Psalm is stressing the fact that Judgment belongs to God alone. We see today the mad and fanatical Muslim terrorist torturing and killing people, particularly Christians in the name of administering their view of God’s judgment but this is totally unbiblical behavior,

Jesus even taught in Matthew 7: 1 – 2,

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

 He goes on to point out our inability to carry out God’s judgment on God’s enemies because of our own sin and indeed need of being judged ourselves as Jesus goes on to point out verses 3 – 6 of Matthew 7,

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”.

 This is not saying Christians cannot be involved in the justice system as judges or members of juries as this is the upholding of civil law which God has instituted through the creation of the earthly authorities he has put over us.

How are we to respond to those then who persecute us?

Jesus makes this very clear in a passage like Matthew 5: 43 – 45,

“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, 45 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”.

  1. 3         A call for God to judge

These opening verses are a call to God to act as the Judge of the earth in the writer of Psalm 94 time and this becomes even clearer when we read the words of verse 3,

“How long will the wicked, O Lord, how long will the wicked be jubilant”?

 The phrase “How long” appears some 10 times in the book of Psalms and this is what I said about it the last time it came up in Psalm 89: 46,

“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”.

 The prophet Jeremiah had to put up with the wicked sins of his people for all of his life and it took around 40 years of Jeremiah’s painful ministry before Babylon finally invaded Judah to act as God’s judgment on the Jews. Jeremiah suffered greatly at the hands of most of the people of Judah who rejected his message of God’s judgment and I could imagine him praying the prayer of verse 3 of Psalm 94.

He uses the “How long” phrase in Jeremiah 12: 4,

“How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished. Moreover, the people are saying, “He will not see what happens to us.”

In Jeremiah 15: 15 Jeremiah prays this,

“Lord, you understand; remember me and care for me. Avenge me on my persecutors. You are long-suffering—do not take me away; think of how I suffer reproach for your sake”.

 Jeremiah like the writer of Psalm 94 (if Jeremiah is not the writer of this Psalm) was almost killed by his hearers, who hated his message as we see from verse 17,

“Unless the Lord had given me help I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death”.

 We will look a little closer at this in the third section of this Psalm talk.

It seems clear from verse 3 that the wicked sinners of the writer’s day revealed in their sins as he says that they were, “Jubilant”. Even today many Christian persecutors gloat over the Christians they oppose and many think they have had victory over them when they have been able to ridicule them or even worse kill them and get away with it.

However Paul make this remarkable claim in Romans 8: 31 – 37,

“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”.

  1. 4 – 11 THE FOOLS WHO OPPOSE GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES

 The writer of Psalm 94 then moves on to spell out just what wicked things and thoughts the people had of his day. Many of the things we will see in the people of our writer’s day will be familiar to the sinful acts of people of our day.

I have divided this second section into two parts:

  1. 4 – 7   Description of those who oppose God the king who judges
  2. 8 – 11 Why God knows what those who oppose him are doing

 Lets have a look then at these two parts:

  1. 4 – 7   Description of those who oppose God the king who judges

So the writer of Psalm 94 now tells us some of the characteristics and deeds of the wicked people of his day who oppose God and each verse is a different characteristic making four in all. They are:

  1. They are arrogant and boastful of their wickedness (vs. 4)
  2. They crush or attack God’s people (vs. 5)
  3. They kill or exploit the frail or weak in society (vs. 6)
  4. They say God does not see or know of their evil deeds (vs.7)

Lets look a little closer at each of these:

  1. They arrogant and boastful of their wickedness (vs. 4)

The first characteristic of the wicked of our writer of Psalm 94 day is,

“They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers are full of boasting”.

 Jeremiah had to deal with false prophets who said they were speaking for the God of the bible and even worse sometimes in the name of false God’s like Baal. Their message was in direct opposition to what Jeremiah was saying the God of the bible had said.

In Jeremiah chapter 23 Jeremiah says this to these arrogant wicked false prophets in verses 30 – 32,

 “Therefore,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. 31 Yes,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ 32 Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares the Lord. “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord.

 The writer of Psalm 94, like Jeremiah sees the words of false prophets and their followers as people who pour out words or “speak folly” (as Allan Harman translates it) in a arrogant way.

Many today do the same thing and one might be fooled into believing their folly is truth because so many say much the same thing. Christians might seem to be in a small minority but as Jesus warns us in Matthew 7: 13,

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it”.

 Many powerful atheists like John Dawkins arrogantly speak of Christians as stupid fools who have forsaken their intellect to believe in myths and legends. This what Dawkins said in his book “The God Delusion”,

“More generally, as I shall repeat in Chapter 8, one of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.”

 Or

“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is the belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”

 So many arrogant ill-informed attitudes like that of Richard Dawkins and many others swamp our world today but we must keep Jesus words in our mind when attacked by these loud arrogant voices, words like John 8: 31 – 32,

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

  1. They crush or attack God’s people (vs. 5)

The effect of the arrogant words of the wicked of the writers day could be seen in the next verse, verse 5,

“They crush your people, O Lord; they oppress your inheritance”.

 Cruel arrogant words of persecution can crush many believers hearts and as I said even the brave and determined Jeremiah felt the emotional crushing effect of his opponents words and action who even tried to literally crush or kill him on a number of occasions.

Jeremiah had a number of death plots against him, he was thrown in prison and attempts were made on his life as we will see in my comments on verse 17.

Jeremiah seems crushed in spirit or suffering from circumstantial depression in Jeremiah 20 and he expresses this to God in a prayer of complaint in verses 7 – 10 of that chapter,

You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary

of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. 10 I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!” All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying,

“Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.”

 As I said many Christians today often feel like Jeremiah, like they are being crushed by a world that is in rebellion to the God of the bible they believe in but we must learn to turn and anxieties into prayers as Paul tells us to in Philippians 4: 6,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.

 And if we do we have the wonderful promise of the next verse to lift us up when we feel crushed or depressed by the world around us that seeks to destroy us.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

  1. They kill or exploit the frail or weak in society (vs. 6)

Another very real characteristic of our world today that our writer of Psalm 94 saw in his day is,

“They slay the widow and alien; they murder the fatherless”.

 It seems to be a sad reality of life that the rich and powerful of this world often get their wealth and power from the exploitation of the poor. I saw a powerful and informative but frightening movie a few years ago called “Captain Philips” a film made in 2013 and staring Tom Hanks. The film deals with the true story of the hijacking of a US owned freighter ship called “The Maersk Alabama” by pirates from Somali in the Indian Ocean in 2009.

One of the sad facts of this movie was that the poor Somali men who actually performed the hijacking were manipulated and controlled by rich Somali gangsters who actually gave very little to the hijackers as they in tern threatened the lives of the hijackers families and community if they did not get money out of the ships owners.

These men are sadly, so much like thousands of other poor people in our world today who are widows, orphans and aliens who rich wicked people are exploiting and in a lot of cases slaying as the verse declares.

Jeremiah spoke up against these people in his day with words like Jeremiah 5: 26 – 29,

“Among my people are the wicked who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch people. 27 Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful 28 and have grown fat and sleek.
Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not seek justice. They do not promote the case of the fatherless; they do not defend the just cause of the poor. 29 Should I not punish them for this?” declares the Lord. “Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?”

 The wicked men of the writer of Psalm 94 day thought they would get away with this just like rich people today think they can and with similar exploitation of poor or defenseless people of our day. Often they pay for their crimes in this life but even if they don’t a day of reckoning is coming as the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 9: 27,

“Just as a man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment”.

  1. They say God does not see or know of their evil deeds (vs.7)

So the last characteristic our writer of Psalm 94 gives us of the wicked people of his day who opposed God is their total arrogance and ignorance,

“They say, ‘The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob pays no heed”.

 Jeremiah discovered that the poor and leaders in Judah of his day had turned so far from God they did not recognize him or his requirements for their lives as we see in Jeremiah 5: 4 – 5,

 “I thought, “These are only the poor; they are foolish, for they do not know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God.So I will go to the leaders and speak to them; surely they know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God.” But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds”.

 Once a person breaks off from believing in the God of the bible they soon think that because they believe he does not exist they have no one to answer to. Our society today is suffering because people are living selfish Godless lives and they too think there is no God seeing or knowing what they are doing.

Paul made it clear to the Greek secular scholars of his day in the great ancient city of Athens that there is a God they will have to face in judgment one day and that day or judgement is as sure as the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead, Acts 17: 31,

“For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

Spurgeon concludes,

“Surely in such unbelievers is fulfilled the saying of the wise, that those whom the Lord means to destroy he leaves to the madness of their corrupt hearts”.

 There is a God who is king and he is a God who judges and people who deny his existence will get a terrible rude shock when they die or the Lord returns and then they face the God they so arrogantly denied.

I like the car sticker that says,

“Eternity is a long time to be wrong”

  1. 8 – 11  Why God knows what those who oppose him are doing

In the last verse, verse 7, the writer of Psalm 94 speaks of the arrogant claim, which characterizes the wicked people who oppose God of their belief that God does not see or know of their wickedness. They probably thought like this because it appeared that God was doing nothing in their present time to stop them doing wicked things so God must not see or know what they are doing.

In the next four verses the writer of Psalm 94 is saying nothing is further from the truth and he puts up five reasons in these four verses why God sees and knows the wicked things or sinful things those who oppose him are doing.

The five reasons in these four verses of why God sees and knows the wicked things those who oppose him are doing are:

  1. People who don’t acknowledge God as God are fools (vs. 8)
  2. God knows because he is the creator of all things (vs. 9)
  3. God knows because he judges the nations (vs. 10a)
  4. God knows because he teaches man knowledge (vs. 10b)
  5. God even knows our thoughts (vs. 11)

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

  1. People who don’t acknowledge God as God are fools (vs.8)

The writer starts his answer to why God sees and knows the wicked deeds of those who oppose God with a spiritual reality and that spiritual reality is expressed this way in verse 8,

“Take heed, you senseless ones among the people; you fools when you become wise”.

 The writer of Psalm 94 knows the bible as in a number of places we have similar statements in the bible to what we read in Proverbs 1: 7 says,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline”.

 He might have even known the two earlier Psalms that speak of this kind of thing as well, Psalm 14 and Psalm 53. Psalm 53 starts, as does Psalm 14 with these words,

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’, They are corrupt and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good”.

 The idea is, if you don’t acknowledge that God sees and knows all things then you are a fool who is a person who refuses to acknowledge God’s existence and his right to say how you are living at the present time is wrong or displeases him.

Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 4: 22 that God says this about his disobedient sinful people,

“My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good”.

 Paul says in Romans 1 that the problem is that sinful people don’t know God because what they should know about God is being suppressed by them because of their sin.

Here is what he actually says in Romans 1: 18 – 23,

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles”.

 So the first reason why those who oppose God say he does not see or know what they are doing is because their sinful hearts have suppressed the truth about God’s reality making them fools or unwise when it come to things about God.

  1. God knows because he is the creator of all things (vs. 9)

Even people today think that it is impossible for one being to know what every person alive is doing no matter how great and powerful he is. The writer of Psalm 94 counters this idea with what he says in verse 9,

“Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see?”

 Leupold aptly writes,

“The creator is the author of every ability that man has. How much more must He be capable of those very functions! Only He that hears superbly can impart hearing to others. Only He who has perfect sight such as man cannot even conceive of is capable of giving seeing eyes to men”.

 The same argument that God is the creator of all things can be used to explain why he and of course he Son, Jesus Christ can perform miracles when they want to. If God created the elements and laws of nature then he has the power to change or alter them to perform his will.

The problem with the people of the writer of Psalm 94 day is the same problem modern non God believers have today they only think of God in human terms and dismiss him because humanly speaking the claims about God in the bible are impossible.

Jesus made this point clear when he said in Luke 18: 27,

“What is impossible with men is possible with God”.

 Jeremiah says this to the wicked sinful God opposes of his day in Jeremiah 5: 21,

“Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear”

 Jeremiah fleshes out the concept of God being the creator of all things denied by these people as the reason for their foolish thinking in Jeremiah 5 verses 22 – 24,

Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord. “Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it. 23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. 24 They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the Lord our

God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.”

 To deny God seeing and knowing all we do is to deny that God is the creator of all things, the king who reigns and therefore judge of all the earth.

  1. God knows because he judges the nations (vs. 10a)

Our writer of Psalm 94 then gives us a third reason why it is foolishness to think that God does not see or know what we are doing in our lives and that third reason is expressed this way in the first part of verse 10,

“Does he who disciplines nations not punish?

Maybe these God of the bible opposes actually believed or spoke of God punishing foreign nations. We know from the book of Jeremiah that he had to deal with false prophets who told the king that after the first invasion of the Babylonians, when they ransacked the temple in Jerusalem and took off some of its precious objects that within two years God would punish the Babylonians with defeat and the Temples special objects would be returned to Jerusalem. We read this in Jeremiah 28: 2 – 4,

“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the articles of the Lord’s house that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon removed from here and took to Babylon. I will also bring back to this place Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and all the other exiles from Judah who went to Babylon,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.’”

 This was obviously a false prophecy as this did not happen and in fact the new King in Judah, Zedekiah who listened and believed this false prophecy was actually overwhelmed by the Babylonians second invasion of Jerusalem and had his sons killed in front of him, his eyes cut out and he too was taken into exile into Babylon.

So at least in Jeremiah’s day those who opposed the God of the bible believed that their God, often called Baal punished nations so maybe the writer of Psalm 94, if it is not Jeremiah, used the fact that they believed God disciplines and punishes nations as a argument against them when they say God does not see or pays heed to their wrong doing.

The writer’s line of arguing is if God knows what nations are doing and disciplines and punishes them will he not know what you have done and discipline and punish you as well.

So far as false prophets telling people what they want to hear, we too need to be warned of these kind of teaches in our churches today as Paul warned Timothy of this in 2 Timothy 4: 2 – 5,

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry”.

  1. God knows because he teaches man knowledge (vs. 10b)

 The fourth reason why God sees and knows the things we all do is in the second half of verse 10,

“Does he who teaches man lack knowledge”

 Proverbs 2: 6, says,

“For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding”.

 God said this to the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 33: 3,

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know”.

 So knowledge ultimately comes from God for as the creator God who is king all that is to be known is in him. I think God allows human beings to know and understand things through the gift of intellect. However because man is sinful our thinking and therefore our knowledge is defective as Paul says in Romans 1: 21,

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

 So real and deep knowledge comes from God alone and the writer of Psalm 94 uses this idea to say that if it is God alone gives man knowledge and if God is all knowing or knows everything there is to know does he not know what we are doing?

Therefore those God of the bible opposes who say God does not know what they are doing are nothing more than deluded fools.

  1. God even knows our thoughts (vs. 11)

Our writer of Psalm 94 completes his argument to why God sees and knows what those who oppose him are doing with these words in verse 11,

“The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile”

David makes the most devastating and detailed description of the extent of the knowledge of God and the human heart and mind in Psalm 139: 1 – 4,

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely”.

 This is a scary thought that God knows when we are sinning in our thoughts, God knows them, God hears them and we have claimed to be one of his followers. This thought or idea of God has caused me to get involved in serious prayers of repentance and confession but I cling to the words of the Apostle John on these occasions when he says in 1 John 1: 8 – 10,

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us”.

 So the writer of Psalm 94 says that it is foolish to think or say that God does not see or know what we are doing because he knows our thoughts as we think them and as he says at the end of verse 11,

“They are futile”.

 What is called the NET bible translation or The New English Translation translates the word futile as,

“Morally bankrupt”.

  1. 12 – 19 GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES HELPS HIS FAITHFUL PEOPLE

 The writer of Psalm 94 then turns to where those who believe in the God of the bible stand in presence of God the king who judges and I have broken this third section into two parts:

  1. 12 – 15 How God the king who judges helps his faithful people
  2. 16 – 19   How God the king who judges helped the writer of this  Psalm

Lets have a close look at these two parts:

  1. 12 – 15 How God the king who judges helps his faithful people

Our writer of Psalm 94 is not a person who believes like a lot of modern so called prosperity preaches preach that following the God of the bible will lead to material and general happiness. Rather he teaches that God in fact will lead his people into times of hardship but he will be with them to help them through those difficult times.

So what will God do for those who truly follow him?

I have broken what I have learnt from these verses into four wonderful things God give his faithful followers and they are:

  1. Discipline and Teaching (vs. 12)
  2. Relief in times of trouble (vs. 13)
  3. Never forsake them (vs. 14)
  4. Help them follow righteousness (vs.15)

Lets have a close look at each of these four wonderful things God gives his faithful people:

  1. Discipline and Teaching (vs. 12)

Verse 12, says this,

“Blessed is the man you discipline O Lord, the man you teach your law”.

Leopold put forward the idea that this wonderful thing God gives his faithful people in verse 12 comes up here because those who oppose God, which he previously spoke of probably were used in their opposition to God and his faithful followers as agents of discipline to the God of the bibles faithful followers.

Certainly this is true in the life of the prophet Jeremiah whose life and message from God this Psalm strangely seems to mirror. In Jeremiah 20 we read of Jeremiah following God’s call to preach in the temple and after he does a leading priest named Pashhur in the Temple has Jeremiah beaten and put in stocks.

Difficulty and persecution are spoken of in the New Testament as a means of blessing the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. All of the New Testament writers who speak of this, Paul, James and Peter say that we should rejoice in these trials, as Peter says in 1 Peter 1: 6 – 9,

“ In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls”.

 The big question is what is God’s ultimate plan for his faithful followers?

The bibles answer is not material blessings or happiness but as Paul puts it in Colossians 1: 22,

“To present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusations”

 God’s goal is our sanctification, which is to be made more like Christ and then our ultimate glorification, which is to be with God in heaven.

Another way of looking at it is, if we say we love our children yet allow them to do things that we know will hurt them or not be good for them, do we really love them if we don’t try and stop them or discipline them?

The writer to the Hebrews takes up a similar idea to verse 12 found in Proverbs 3: 11 – 12 and says this in Hebrews 12: 5 – 6,

“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

 So verse 12 is saying we are blessed because God loves us so much he wants the best for us like we want for our children which sometimes involves discipline and through this also we grow and learn which is why the writer of Psalm 94 says in verse 12,

“The man you teach your law”.

 The law is the Old Testament term for the word of God as the basis of the Old Testament word of God was contained in the law. The word of God only makes real sense to us when we read and experience its power and strength in our day-to-day lives.

Paul says this about the importance and value of the word of God in 2 Timothy 3: 16,

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right”.

  1. Relief in times of trouble (vs. 13)

So even though the person God loves, those who are faithful followers of the God of the bible might suffer from time to time from God’s discipline in their lives which makes them better people, God does not let them suffer alone but he gives them help to stand through the storms and trials of life. This is why the writer of Psalm 94 says in verse 13,

“You grant him relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked”.

 Jesus makes many promises to come to the aid of any of his followers as they go through difficult times like 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.”

 It is though Jesus is personally with us and I believe he is through His Holy Spirit who is in our lives once we truly come to faith in Christ. This is what Jesus promised in John 16: 5 – 11,

“Now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me;

10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned”.

 The advocate or as other translations call him, “counselor” is non other than the third person of the holy trinity, the Holy Spirit and Jesus also spoke of the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit in John 14: 15 – 20,

“If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you”.

 Note how Jesus speaks of keeping his commands, which is New Testament code for the word of God because Jesus came to give us a new law, the law of love, which he established through his death and resurrection.

Note also in Psalm 94 verse 13 the last phrase of that verse,

“Till a pit is dug for the wicked”.

 This supports Leupold’s theory that the discipline of hardship God’s followers faced at the time of the writing this Psalm was caused directly by the persecution by the wicked people of that day who opposed God and his word. They are like the people who opposed the prophet Jeremiah who we will see when in the next part of this third section almost lost his life when he was put in a dry well or pit and left to die by the wicked haters of God and his word in his day.

It is interesting that the fate of the wicked in this verse is to be thrown into a pit specially dug by them obviously by the God who is the king who judges.

This image of the final fate of all evil -doers who oppose the God of the bible is spoken of in Psalm 140: 10 as a burning pit,

“Let burning coals fall upon them; may they be thrown into the fire, into miry pits, never to rise”.

 The miry burning pit becomes the lake of fire in Revelation 21: 8,

“ But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

However the end of verse 13 of Psalm 94 is telling us that the persecution of trials caused by wicked people who oppose the God of the bible will continue unto this great Day of Judgment comes.

As I said before all of the New Testament writers speak of rejoicing in trials and difficulties because of the benefits they bring believers and this is what Paul says about this in Romans 5: 3 – 5,

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”.

 So God allows his people to suffer difficulty through things like persecution but he is with us in these times of difficulty helping us to cope, giving us relief and using the whole experience as a tool to make us better people, more like Christ himself.

  1. Never forsake them (vs. 14)

Added to the promise of relief God will give us in times of trouble is an even greater promise which is added by the writer of Psalm 94 in verse 14,

“For the Lord will not reject the people; he will never forsake his inheritance”

 Prophets like Jeremiah had to tell the people of Israel / Judah that God would punish their many sins but all of them also spoke of the fact that this did not mean he would forsake his people who God often calls “his inheritance” and these are the people God has chosen.

Paul uses this expression of God’s people being God’s inheritance in Ephesians 1: 18,

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people”.

 God has made many promises to the people he has chosen and so we are inheritors of his rich and amazing grace. Paul also calls us heirs which is another way of saying we are inheritors and this is clear from a verse like Romans 8: 17,

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory”.

 Verse 14 of Psalm 94 is saying then that no matter what suffering or discipline God’s chosen people might have to bear he will not forsake them Jeremiah speaking of God’s promised restoration of his people after the exile says this in Jeremiah 32: 40,

“I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me”.

 Much of what prophets like Jeremiah speak of as God’s restoration of his people after the Babylonian exile is in fact prophecies only fulfilled by the coming of the Messiah, who we believe as Christians is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ made similar claims of never forsaking his true followers in John 10: 27 – 29,

“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”.

 This is why Paul can say that even in the midst of suffering as Christians we are more than conquers, Romans 8: 37 – 39,

“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”.

 In verse 31 of Romans 8 Paul makes this bold claim, “If God is for us, who can be against us”.

 So as all the New Testament writers say, we should rejoice in our sufferings knowing God is with us to bring relief and he will never forsake us.

  1. Help them follow righteousness (vs.15)

As I also said before God is a Holy or righteous God and so he must also be a Judge who condemns sin. This is why the writer of Psalm 94 says in verse 15,

“Judgment will again be founded on righteousness”.

 God acted as the King who judges finally in 587BC when Jerusalem fell for the final time to the invading Babylonians. This was what the prophet Jeremiah had said would happen if the people of Judah would not return to the God of the bible in repentance and faith.

On that terrible day God’s judgment was founded on righteousness. God dealt with the wicked people of Judah who had turned away from the God of the bible and who as we saw from verses 4 – 7 committed many terrible sins against God and their very own people. There were times when this wickedness in Israel had led to the horrible practice of child sacrifice and in Baal worship sexual prostitutes were employed in the Temple and throughout the land as part of disgusting worship in the name of their God.

God had to end this terrible state of his people and he did it through the nation of Babylon. All through history corrupt and wicked empires have come under the judgment of God. I recently watched an interesting documentary on the downfall of the French line of kings with the coming of the French revolution. The French kings leading up to this revolution practiced immoral sexual acts, exploited the poor for their own selfish gain and generally arrogantly lived wicked Godless lives. They tried to gain God’s favor through the spiritual bankrupt French Catholic Church as they lay dying but I believe they did not escape God’s punishment for their many sins.

The end of the French reign of kings is only one of many historical examples of God acting as a judge in history but the bible clearly says that a great final day of judgment is coming and then all who have lived wicked lives will as we saw in my comments on verse 13 of this Psalm be thrown into the lake of fire, Revelation 21: 8,

“ But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

However verse 15 also says,

“And all the upright in heart will follow it”.

This is the final wonderful thing God gives his faithful followers and it is saying what Jeremiah is saying God will do for his people in Jeremiah 32: 40b,

“I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me”.

 The message of the Gospel has two great aspects to it:

  1. God will judge sin
  2. God will judge sin but save us from its consequences

God amazingly achieved both of these two things in one single act of love when he sent his only son into the world to die on the cross for our sins.

This act of God is what will now cause men and women to both love and serve God and also teach them not to offend God by unrighteous acts of wickedness. This is what many passages of the New Testament speak of and I like the way John speaks of this in 1 John 2: 3 – 6,

“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”.

 The concept of a new covenant features prominently in Old Testament prophecy of the coming o the Messiah and Jeremiah offers his word of prophecy on this in Jeremiah 31: 33 – 34,

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

The writer to the Hebrews uses this quote in his claim that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the New Covenant in Hebrews 8: 6 – 13,

“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 much for my ill-informed comment to Mrs. Bushel all those years ago that the book of Jeremiah just contains lots of teaching on sin and judgment as we have here great teaching on hope that looks forward to the coming of Jesus when God’s law through the message of his great love will inspire his chosen followers to walk upright in heart to follow it.

  1. 16 – 19   How God the king who judges helped the writer of this  Psalm

Then in the second part of this third section the writer of the Psalm seems to speak personally of how God the king who judges helped him as he faced great opposition from the wicked people of his day who chose to oppose the God of the bible.

In opposing the God of the bible they naturally chose to oppose anyone like our Psalm writer who spoke up for that God in the face of their opposition to him. Here I cannot find a better candidate then the prophet Jeremiah to fit such a person and even the way this second part of the third section of the Psalm is worded hints at Jeremiah being its author.

However I must confess that my views on Jeremiah’s authorship of the Psalm is pure speculation but I will use his story and words as a way of explaining what the words in this second part of the third section is actually telling us.

I have broken these four verses into 3 aspects of help when facing great opposition:

  1. A call for help when facing great opposition (vs. 16)
  2. The help God gives when facing great opposition (vs. 17 – 18)
  3. Comfort for anxiety when facing great opposition (vs. 19)

Lets have a good look at each of these 3 aspects of help when facing great opposition:

  1. A call for help when facing great opposition (vs. 16)

The writers example of dealing with great opposition from wicked people who oppose the God of the bible we believe in is very helpful for us as we might find ourselves being opposed by wicked people who oppose the God the bible and the first thing our writer does is made clear by verse 16,

“Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers”.

 It seems to me that the first thing our writer does is call on God for help and even vindication for his stand against the wicked people he is being opposed by. The prophet Jeremiah calls out to God in prayer during his long and difficult life and a good example of this is Jeremiah 20: 7 – 8,

“You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me.

Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long”.

 So Jeremiah is crying out to the Lord for help just like our writer of Psalm 94, he wants God to rise up for him against the wicked and in verses 11 to 12 of Jeremiah 20 he realises that God will rise up for him against the wicked who oppose him and God’s word he is presenting to them.

“But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonour will never be forgotten.

12 Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause”.

 So Jeremiah believes that God will as the second part of Psalm 94: 16 says,

“Take a stand for him against evildoers”.

Jeremiah is fully vindicated some years later when the wicked king Zedekiah and most of the people of Judah and Jerusalem are overrun by the Babylonians and are either killed or taken into exile in Babylon just as Jeremiah had predicted.

The apostle Peter writing at time when Christians faced great persecution from many wicked people who opposed God and his word and he had this advice for them, 1 Peter 4: 12 – 19,

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good”.

  1. The help God gives when facing great opposition (vs. 17 – 18)

The writer of Psalm 94, who could have been the prophet Jeremiah, then gives personal testimony of actual help he received when he faced great opposition from wicked people who opposed God and his message to them.

We read of this help in verses 16 and 17,

“Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me”.

The way this personal help or assistance is worded reminds me of the story of Jeremiah’s near death experience recorded in Jeremiah 38 where we learn that some of the wicked men who opposed Jeremiah and his message to them captured Jeremiah and threw him in a old no longer used cistern or well or we could also describe it as a pit and left him to die there.

At the bottom of the pit is mud and the text of Jeremiah describes what happened this way,

“So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard.

 They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud”.

 This is a dire and deadly situation for the prophet Jeremiah and fits well the words of verse 17 of Psalm 94,

“Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death”

 Jeremiah is slipping, sliding and sinking in dirty smelly mud, which continues to match the words in Psalm 94 verse 18 that say,

“My foot is slipping,”

 Then in Jeremiah 38: 7 – 13 speak of Jeremiah’s miraculous escape from the muddy pit,

“But Ebed-Melek, a Cushite, an official in the royal palace, heard that they had put Jeremiah into the cistern. While the king was sitting in the Benjamin Gate, Ebed-Melek went out of the palace and said to him, “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern, where he will starve to death when there is no longer any bread in the city.”

 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-Melek the Cushite, “Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.”

 11 So Ebed-Melek took the men with him and went to a room under the treasury in the palace. He took some old rags and worn-out clothes from there and let them down with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. 12 Ebed-Melek the Cushite said to Jeremiah, “Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.” Jeremiah did so, 13 and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard”.

 God uses a foreigner from the land of Cush to save Jeremiah and this man would have been a black man from the ancient North African country now called Ethiopia. We do not know why this foreigner from North Africa wanted to save Jeremiah, maybe he was a God fearing man who believed Jeremiah spoke forth the word of God of the God of the bible, we just cannot know for sure.

The writer of Psalm 94 says these two things about his escape from death in verses 17 and 18:

  1. The Lord gave him help (vs. 17)
  2. God’s love supported him (vs. 18)

Let me say a few words about each of these two great facts:

  1. The Lord gave him help (vs. 17)

In the case of Jeremiah’s miraculous escape from the hands of his wicked God hating enemies only the hand of God working in the lives of a foreigner could have saved him from certain death.

God uses all kinds of ways, means and people to help us in our lives and of course non- believers will call this luck but we know that there is no such thing as luck in the word of God.

Paul says this about what happens to and for believers in this world 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”.

 No, Jeremiah was not lucky he was given help by the Lord who used a foreigner who was in Jerusalem at the time to reach out to Jeremiah with a rope made of old rags to lift him out of the miry pit. As David wrote hundred of years before Jeremiah in 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”.

 This is a wonderful picture of what Christ has done for us as Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2: 1 – 5 where he says we were dead in our trespasses and sins but made alive by Christ Jesus,

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved”.

 Then Paul says God raised us up from this pit of sin and has seated us in the heavenly realms of Christ Jesus in verses 6 and 7,

 “6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus”.

  1. God’s love supported him (vs. 18)

Then we read a wonderful expression of the love of God in the words in verse 18 that says,

“You love, O Lord supported me”

 As Jeremiah slipped all over the place in the miry bog at the bottom of dark muddy pit he says that God’s love supported him. This is a beautiful picture of how God helps us in the quagmire of this world. We often find ourselves slipping and sliding away but if we look to God he will support us with his great love. As Peter says in 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”.

 Or as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4: 7 – 9,

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed”.

 We have the love of God to hold us up as we see in Pauls prayer for the church at Ephesus in Ephesians 3: 12 – 19,

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

  1. Comfort for anxiety when facing great opposition (vs. 19)

The writer of Psalm 94 then speaks of God’s help with anxiety when wicked men who opposed God opposed him. He writes in verse 19,

“When anxiety was great with me, your consolation brought joy to my soul”

 I go back to Jeremiah 20 were Jeremiah expressed great anxiety and even a kind of depression when he faced enormous opposition the message God had called him to preach. We read verses 7 – 8, which was a desperate call to God for help,

“You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out  proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long”.

 He goes on to speak of great inner anxiety in verse 9,

“But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot”.

 This is great inner turmoil that is driven by his hopeless situation as he explains in the next verse,

“I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”
All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.”

 This seems like a terrible situation that humanly speaking there is no escape yet Jeremiah says this in the next two verses,

“But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonour will never forgotten.

12 Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause”.

 This a perfect reflection of the writer of Psalm 94 words in verse 19a,

“When anxiety was great with me, your consolation brought joy to my soul”

 Even the concept of joy is Jeremiah 20 as verse 13 says,

“Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked”.

 We cannot know for sure that the writer of Psalm 94 words of personal testimony of God’s help is the very experience of the prophet Jeremiah. Or we can say for sure is that they are very fitting to the experience of Jeremiah and help give us vivid picture of the kind of teaching they present to us.

When we face anxiety I life brought on by the pain and difficulty we might face from time to time we need to take the advice of Paul I have already mentioned in this Psalm talk from the words of Paul in Philippians 4: 8 -6 and 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”.

 We need to learn to turn our anxieties into prayers.

  1. 20 – 23 GOD THE KING WHO JUDGES WILL SAVE AND PROTECT

                             HIS PEOPLE AND JUDGE THOSE WHO OPPOSE HIM

 We come then to the final section of this Psalm which wraps up this Psalms teaching on the theme of God the king who judges and offers even more encouraging words to those who face great opposition from wicked people who oppose the God of the bible.

I have broken this final section into two parts:

  1. 20 – 21   God the king who judges is over earthly kings
  2. 22 – 23   God the king who judges protects his faithful people

Lets then look a little closer at each of these final two parts of the Psalm;

  1. 20 – 21   God the king who judges is over earthly kings

Our writer of Psalm 94 then uses his last four verses of his Psalm to revise the message of his Psalm and these final verses of the Psalm are a worthy conclusion to the whole Psalm.

In the first part of his conclusion focuses on his wicked God of the bible -denying opponents and in this he even signals out one key member of these opponents the very King himself. He speaks of the king and his opposition to him and God’s faithful people in verse 20,

“Can a corrupt throne be allied with you – one that brings on misery by its decrees”.

 There were many times leading up to the exile in Babylon that a faithful believer in Israel or Judah was opposed by a corrupt and wicked king who had turned away from the God of the bible.

Jeremiah had problems with the kings of his day who not only opposed him and his message from God to him but sought to kill Jeremiah as well.

Jeremiah lived and ministered through five kings, Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. All of these kings except for Josiah turned away from the God of the bible and acted in a wicked sinful way and also opposed the prophet Jeremiah who God sent to tell them that God had judged them for their many sins and that Judah would face the judgment of God through an invasion from a country from the North which became clear was Babylonia.

A good example of Jeremiah’s message to these kings is Jeremiah 22: 1 – 5,

“This is what the Lord says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there: ‘Hear the word of the Lord to you, king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who come through these gates. This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. But if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.’”

 A good example of the kings of Judah opposing Jeremiah and his message and threatening his very life is the time Jeremiah dictated God’s message of judgement for the King of Judah named Jehoiakim to his scribe Buruch and when the king heard the scroll read to him he cut it up in trips and burnt it and then in Jeremiah 36: 24 – 26,

“The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes. 25 Even though Elnathan, Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. 26 Instead, the king commanded Jerahmeel, a son of the king, Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet. But the Lord had hidden them”.

 So verse 20 of Psalm 94 makes it clear that even the rich and powerful kings of this world stand under the Judgment of the God of the bible because as we saw from verse 2 he is the,

“Judge of the earth”.

 So a corrupt throne or king cannot be allied with God even though so many kings of the past acted as though God had given them a divine right to rule and they were like God on earth to rule as they pleased.

Corrupt kings verse 20 says only lead to,

“Misery by their decrees”

 Many kings of the past including of course Jeremiah’s day instituted laws or decrees that only lead to hardship and misery for the general population under their rules.

However the king of heaven and earth who is The Lord Jesus Christ rules his kingdom with love and righteousness and even though he will be opposed as king he will one day triumph over all opposition and reign as the King of Kings and Lord or Lords with his faithful followers by his side as we read in Revelation 17: 14,

 “They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

Then in verse 21 our writer speaks of those wicked opponents of God who oppose him banning together under this corrupt rule to oppose the true followers of the God of the bible and writes,

“They band together against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death”.

 We have seen how Jeremiah’s life was constantly under threat from the king and many others who were loyal to the kings wicked ways as they too practiced wicked deeds probably with the kings full support.

This banning together of evil forces to oppose God’s faithful people is all through the bible and continues on through the early church and the history of the church right up to this day. Paul says in Ephesians 6: 12 that we are involved in a great struggle against a powerful enemy in both a physical and spiritual dominion,

“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”.

 Satan and his forces ban together to seek to pull down and destroy God’s faithful followers but Paul says in Ephesians 6: 10 and 11,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”.

 Even though many faithful followers of the God of the bible have lost their lives as verse 21 suggests we must keep the words of Jesus in mind when he says, Matthew 10: 38 – 39,

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it”.

 And what he says in Matthew 10: 28,

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”.

  1. 22 – 23   God the king who judges protects his faithful people

Having just indicated at the end of verse 21 that those wicked people who oppose God and his people ban together to do this and even take the lives of some of these people our writer gives his testimony again that God, for him had protected him against these wicked God hating opponents and declares this in verse 23,

“But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I can take refuge”.

 This very David like statement who also, like Jeremiah faced the constant threat of death from God’s enemies but who also often spoke of God protecting him in a similar fashion to how the writer of Psalm 94 speaks of in verse 22.

Listen to David using similar language in one of his Psalms, Psalm 18: verse 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”.

 I like Spurgeon’s comment on Psalm 94 verse 22,

“Let the wicked gather as they may, the psalmist is not afraid but sweetly sings, The Lord is my defence, and my God is the rock of my refuge. Firm as a rock is Jehovah’s love, and there do we betake ourselves for shelter. In him, even him alone, we find safety, let this world rage as it may, we ask not and from man, but are content to flee into the bosom of omnipotence”.

 One of my favourite hymn stories goes like this, Angustus Toplady around 1775 while on duty one Sunday as the local Anglican minister in Burrington Combe gorge area in North Somerset, England sheltered in a rock face from a fierce thunderstorm. As he sheltered under this large rock face he was inspired to write the first verse of his famous hymn, Rock of Ages on the back of a playing card he had in his pocket, that verse reads,

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power”

 We are safe in the arms of Christ; we are saved from the storms of death and judgment to come by the death of Christ on the cross.

We are able to go to Christ for help and protection at any time and in any situation, as he is our Saviour and Lord, our King. We can have the same assurance of God’s help and protection that Paul said he had in Christ in 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”.

 Then in the final verse the writer of Psalm 94 returns to his central theme of God the king who judges with the words of verse 23,

“He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the Lord our God will destroy them”.

 This is also a good summary of the main message of the prophet Jeremiah who says something similar in Jeremiah 16: 18,

I will repay them double for their wickedness and their sin, because they have defiled my land with the lifeless forms of their vile images and have filled my inheritance with their detestable idols.”

 Our God the God of the bible is a king who judges and he will and must revenge the many sins of the people of this world. However the book of Jeremiah is not as a said to Mrs. Bushel all those years ago just about sin and judgment. It also contains a great message of hope as it looked to the coming of the Messiah who is The Lord Jesus Christ and it is on this message of hope I will bring my Psalm talk for Psalm 94 to a conclusion 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”

 I close as usual with an original poem and a prayer:

 RISE UP O LORD AND JUDEGE THE EARTH

(Based on Psalm 94)

 Rise up O Lord and judge the earth

For sin is everywhere.

Pay back to those who turn on you

The wickedness they share.

 

For you O Lord are the Holy one

We see that in your word.

But many turn away from you

And oppose your people Lord.

 

Chorus:

Jesus is our only hope

He died to set us free.

So turn away from sin today

And you’ll rise in victory.

 

Rise up O Lord and judge the earth

For man has turned on you.

They steal and cheat and exploit the poor

And believe you do not view.

 

But you O Lord see all things

You gave us ears to hear.

You punish evil nations Lord

And through your word we fear.

 

Chorus:

Jesus is our only hope

He died to set us free.

So turn away from sin today

And you’ll rise in victory.

 

Rise up O Lord and judge the earth

Bless those who love you Lord

For you will not reject their love

But lead them by your word.

 

God will repay the sins of those

Who turn on him today.

But those who look to Jesus Christ

Will know his help each day.

 

Chorus:

Jesus is our only hope

He died to set us free.

So turn away from sin today

And you’ll rise in victory.

 

By; Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 I thank you father who reigns in heaven that you are the judge of all the earth and I pray that your kingdom will come and all sin will be judged. Thank you for providing a way for us to escape your coming judgment through the death and resurrection of your only Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you that in him we not only escape from your coming judgment but have his wonderful help and protection in our daily lives. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PSALM 93 TALK: OUR GOD THE KING WHO REIGNS

PSALM 93 TALK: OUR GOD THE KING WHO REIGNS

(A Psalm, which uses ancient coronation and mythical images of flooded rivers and turbulent seas to express the fact that the God of the bible reigns supreme over everything and everyone.)

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

INTRODUCTION

The fury and mighty power of the ocean or the sea has always caused fear and wonder for men and women both ancient and modern. Stories of great sea tragedies and triumphs have been told throughout the ages and they have helped inspire men and women to take on great sea voyages sometimes leading to their deaths at the hands of the oceans principle image in all cultures of “Chaos”.

One story of a great Canadian sea tragedy immortalized by the contemporary folk singer Gordon Lightfoot is the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which went down in a massive storm in 1975 on lake Superior Canada. All 29 crewman were lost and never found and Lightfoot describes that fact in his song this way,

“They might have split up or they might have capsized

They may have broke deep and took water

And all that remains is the faces and names

Of the wives and the sons and the daughters”.

 Some years ago I had the privilege of visiting the great country of Canada and I stood one day on the shore of that great lake Superior and I marveled at how it did not seem to be like a lake but a vast ocean, such is its size.

The storm that sunk “The Edmund Fitzgerald” is called in Lightfoot’s song “The witch of November” as he writes in his third verse,

“The wind in the wires made a tattle – tale sound

When the wave broke over the railing

And every man knew, as the captain did too

“Twas the witch of November come stealin”.

 As I said all cultures seem to pick up the chaotic and unstoppable power of floods, mighty rivers and the ocean in their myths and legends so it is not surprising that the bible and the particularly its poetry in the Psalms picks up this image as well.

However the image of the chaos of massive waterways being that of powerful uncontrollable chaos in Psalm 93 is used to tell us that there is one who has control over chaos itself and that one is The God of the Bible.

Psalm 93 makes this point very clearly in verse 4,

“Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea- the Lord on high is mighty”.

 Psalm 93 is the first of 7 psalms that speak of the Kingly reign of the God of heaven and earth, Psalm 93, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99.

Why is there such an emphasis on God’s kingly reign in book four of Psalms?

The answer I think lies in the fact that book four of Psalm’s was compiled and often composed after the Jews return from exile in Babylon. Now the Jews have returned to the Promised Land and could and did rebuild their capitol Jerusalem and it’s magnificent Temple but the line of kings from the great King David seemed dead and gone.

The eternal kingdom of David was a promise central to the Psalms of books 1, 2 and 3 yet it seemed lost. However a new insight dawned on the composers and compilers of the Psalms in the final two books of Psalms and that was that this promise of a great eternal kingdom lay in God himself and in fact he is their great eternal king who reigns from heaven above. After all God declared through Samuel in 1 Samuel 8: 7 – 9 that he was there king and he foretold of what would happen if they had a king like the nations around about them,

“And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”

Another related theme in these final two books of Psalms is the promise of a David like king who God would send from heaven and who would also be a descendant of David who became known as the Messiah in the future. As we see in Psalm 118: 26 – 27,

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you.27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar”.

As Christians we believe that great David like king, the Messiah was non other than Jesus Christ himself who fulfilled all of the prophecies of the coming of the David like king, the Messiah and in the Psalm 118 prophecy Jesus fulfilled this on the day he triumphantly rode into Jerusalem and was proclaimed as a king with the people waving the boughs of palm trees.

So the first “Our God the king reigns” Psalm is a Psalm that simply states that the God of the bible is the king who reigns from heaven over everything including the chaos of the universe represented by raging waters of floods, rivers and the ocean itself.

With the theme of Our God the king reigns in mind I have broken this Psalm up into three sections:

  1. (1 – 2) Our God the king reigns over all the world
  1. 1   The majesty of the God who reigns
  2. 2   The eternal reign of God
  1. (3 – 4) Our God the king reigns over chaos
  1. vs. 3   The chaos of the universe challenges God’s reign
  2. vs. 4   God reigns over all even chaos
  1. (5)     Our God the king reigns over his people

 Lets look a little closer then as these three sections of Psalm 93,

  1. (1 – 2) Our God the king reigns over all the world

 I have divided this first section of the Psalm into two parts:

  1. 1   The majesty of the God who reigns
  2. 2   The eternal reign of God

 Lets then look at the opening verse of this Psalm, which is the first part of the first section of this Psalm:

  1. 1   The majesty of the God who reigns

The Psalm starts with the triumphant words,

“The Lord reigns”

 It is though someone or something has questioned this vital but well- established biblical fact that God is in charge or is the king of everything. In the context of the return from exile this would make sense as for 70 years it would have appeared to the world that Israel and its God Yahweh was defeated and the chaotic super power of Babylon and its God’s was now in charge.

However as our writer suddenly realizes that Babylon has fallen to the Persians and they had allowed the Jews to return to their rightful Promised Land their God again was clearly in charge.

However this picture of coronation of the God of the bible was not the reality as he had always been this world’s reigning king as we read in verse 2,

“Your throne was established long ago; you are from eternity”

 This is what real faith in the God of the bible is all about, do we believe in God as King or Lord because we can see that he is by the way things are going in our lives and our world or do we believe it no matter what seems to be happening to us?

Paul says this about how we are to live in this life in 2 Corinthians 5: 7,

“We live by faith not by sight”

 Either God is in charge of this world and therefore is our Lord or king or all is lost to the devil and his many forces. No, Paul says clearly in Romans 8: 37,

“No, in all these things we are more than conquers through him who loved us”.

 He goes on in that passage to say that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Our God reigns and that is that as Spurgeon puts it,

“Whatever turmoil and rebellion there may be beneath the clouds, the eternal king sits above all in supreme serenity, and everywhere he is really Master, let his foes rage as they may”.

 The poetic image of a Kings coronation continues as maybe the first thing that the Jews would have liked to have done once they returned from exile is crown the new king.

However no successor was really on offer so the image of a coronation of God as their king is spoken of. In verse 1 the concept of the coronation robes that the God of the bible wears is described in two ways:

  1. Majesty
  2. Armed with strength

Lets have a close look at each of these:

  1. Majesty

All coronations of kings or queens are lavish affairs and no expense is spared on the clothing of the King or Queen to be crowned. In the case of God we are told twice that,

“He is robed in majesty” and

 “The Lord is robed in majesty”

 Alfred Barnes writes,

“The word rendered “majesty” means properly “loftiness,” he goes on to explain,

“The idea here is, that God is exalted; and that he appears in such a manner as to indicate his proper dignity”.

 Barnes quotes Isaiah 6: 1- 3, which is the start of Isaiah’s great vision of God in heaven,

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

This is real exalted majesty that cannot compare to an earthly kings coronation robes, mere rags in comparison. John vision of Jesus on the throne in heaven in Revelation 4: 1 – 6b describes it this way,

“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal”.

All this imagery in Johns vision is speaking of the divine majesty of Jesus the king in heaven sitting on his throne surrounded by a heavenly host of Angels and believers who had died and gone into heaven to be on thrones beside their Lord and king.

Paul says that even in this life we are to be clothed in Christ, Romans 13: 14,

“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature”.

  1. Armed with strength

Added to the concept of Our God the king being robed in majesty is the concept,

“Armed with strength”

Allan Harman says that this is an image of God as a,

“Divine warrior’

An image the post exile Jews could grasp as the overwhelming might of their Babylonian captors was overthrown so thoroughly by their Persian conquers. God had worked in real time history yet again to defeat his people’s enemies and free them to live again in his Promised Land.

Paul had a clear vision of God leading us in a victory march of faith as we present the Gospel to the world in 2 Corinthians 2: 14,

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere”.

In Christ God arms us with his strength as Paul prays for and speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 3: 1 – 5,

“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance”.

The strength of God ‘s arm is expressed in terms of his work of creation in the last phrase of verse 1,

“The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved”.

Isaiah picks up the concept of God’s throne in heaven and the creation of the world in Isaiah 66: 1 – 2a,

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

So God is armed for battle against anyone who opposes him and this is clear to our writer because the God who sits in heaven and reigns is so strong and powerful that he both created this world and continues to uphold it, which is expressed in the words,

“It cannot be moved”.

Allan Harman points to another “Our God the king Reigns” Psalm, 96 and verse 10 as a good explanation of what this final expression in verse 1 is saying,

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity”.

David Guzik sums up the full idea of this final phrase of verse 1 with these words,

“God’s strength and majesty are not only displayed by his person but also by what He does. In his strength, majesty, and genius. He has constructed a world that is firmly established and cannot be moved – unless He moves it”.

This concept of the will of God being unmoved or something we can rely upon is summed up well by Paul in Romans 8: 28 – 30,

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

  1. vs. 2   The eternal reign of God

 To make sure we don’t think the coronation image is of God being made king at some time in history the writer of Psalm 93 clearly states in verse 2,

“Your throne was established long ago; you are from eternity”

So God’s as King being coronated in verse 1 is only a image of God’s reign in heaven as verse 2 says that there has never been a time that God was not the King who reigns over everything and everyone as the verse says,

“You are from eternity”

 We read in Revelation 1: 8 that Jesus is the,

“Alpha and Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty”.

 God is God because he is the one and only eternal one from whom all things come and that makes him and him alone the only one who has the right to be called our king or Lord.

Spurgeon sums this concept up well with these words,

“We often hear of ancient dynasties, but what are they when compared with the Lord? Are they not as the bubble on the breaker, born an instant ago and gone as soon as seen? Thou art from everlasting.

The Lord himself is eternal. Let the believer rejoice that the government under which he dwells has an immortal ruler at its heart, has existed from all eternity and will flourish when all created things have for ever passed away”.

 Paul speaks so wonderfully about the supreme eternal nature of Christ and its impact on all who truly trust in him in Colossians 1: 15 – 23,

“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.

 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of] your evil behaviour. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant”.

  1. (3 – 4) Our God the king reigns over chaos

 We come then to the second section of this amazing short but power packed Psalm, which moves into a word about how God is even Our God who is the king who reigns over the forces of chaos, and evil that seems to our puny finite brains impossible to be able to be controlled by anyone or anything.

I have broken this section into two parts:

  1. vs. 3   The chaos of the universe challenges God’s reign
  2. vs. 4   God reigns over all even chaos

Lets look then at the first part a little closer:

  1. vs. 3   The chaos of the universe challenges God’s reign

The first section of this short psalm used imagery of ancient coronation of a King to present the idea that the God of the bible is the God who is the King who reigns over this world with majesty and power. Now the Psalmist uses ancient mythological descriptions of the sea or flooded waterways to present the idea that the God of the bible is the God or king who reigns over the forces of chaos and evil.

Both ancient Canaanite and Babylonian mythology has stories of God’s fighting great battles and one that seems to be used in verses 3 and 4 is explained really well by Trempor Longman 111,

“Ancient Near Eastern myth pitted the God of creation against the forces of chaos, represented by the God of the sea”.

 It seems then that the writer of Psalm 93 utilizes these mythical images to present the idea that The God of the bible who he has clearly presented as the God and king of creation also reigns over chaos and evil represented by the power of the sea or flooded water -ways.

Verse 3 goes then like this,

“The seas have lifted up, O Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves”.

 Leopold points out that the Hebrew word used here for seas is actually the word for “Flood Waters” but this changes to the Hebrew word for sea in verse 4. Leopold goes on to point out that,

“Floodwaters have been used as a simile or metaphor for the agitation of powerful nations when they were rising in hostility against the people of God”.

 Leopold then gives a number of biblical examples of this and I like the reference he gives in Isaiah to demonstrate this, Isaiah 8: 5 – 8,

“The Lord spoke to me again:“Because this people has rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoices over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore the Lord is about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates— the king of Assyria with all his pomp. It will overflow all its channels, run over all its banks
and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck. It outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, O Immanuel”.

Note how here Isaiah uses the gentle flowing local river to represent relying on the God of the bible and then uses powerful unstoppable flood –waters of the Euphrates river to represent the mighty Assyrian invasion that overrun and destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722BC and almost did the same to the southern kingdom of Judah.

Another reference Leupold gives actually uses the sea in one verse and then flood- waters in the next to describe mighty foreign invasion in Psalm 46: 2 – 3,

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

Psalm 46 starts with brave and very real trust in the God of the bible, verse 1,

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble”.

We think that the trouble Psalm 46 is speaking of is possibly foreign invasion because of verse 6 of that Psalm says,

“Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts”.

So verse 3 of Psalm 93 uses this same image of surging powerful flood – waters to present the image of powerful evil chaos challenging the God who is King. The idea of challenge comes from the simple idea of, the flood waters being “Lifted up” which is used three times and why it is used three times is explained well by Allan Harman,

“The threefold repletion of ‘the seas have lifted up’ highlights the terrifying power of mighty seas”.

This image of flood -waters lifting up on the land is very clear in my mind from the Television images of the tsunami in Japan a few years ago where I saw video images of the ocean waters rushing across large coastal cities picking up trucks and buses like small toys and smashing them into buildings. Many people lost their lives in this chaotic freak act of nature and so this is a brilliant but scary image of the sea or flood- waters lifting up with mankind powerless to stop it.

The other image the chaos of nature challenging God the king who reigns is the term, “their voice” lifting up.

God created the world by his word as we see in Genesis 1 with the constant repeated words, “And God said”. However now the chaotic flood- waters lift up their voice and this seems to be in the sound of “pounding waves”. The raw of the water rushing in the great tsunami wave would be frightening in itself but the out of control power that make all human effort to stop it useless would be even more terrifying.

If this verse is referring to the chaotic and terrifying invasion of an invading foreign army than it to would render a small nation like Israel powerless. Israel had experienced the terror of at least 3 great nations in its long history, Egypt, Assyria and finally Babylon.

Another interesting theory of the significance of verse three is that the rising floodwaters of mighty rivers are speaking of these three invading nations who all had large and famous rivers in them. Gordon Churchyard puts this idea this way,

“These foreign kings came from Assyria, Egypt and Babylon. The rivers in these countries are the Euphrates, the Nile and the Tiggris. Verse 3 says that the rivers rose up and that means this, the countries that would destroy Israel and Judah were attacking them”.

Maybe the choice of the image of rising flood- waters has all of these ideas behind them and this is why the writer chose this most vivid image to say the chaotic forces of nature and evil challenge the reign of the God of the bible, the creator of this world.

  1. vs. 4   God reigns over all even chaos

So chaos and evil raise’s its voice to challenge the God of the bible who is the creator of this world and reigns over it as its King. Now in verse 4 the writer of Psalm 93 makes it clear that this creator God of the bible even reigns over chaos and the forces of evil,

“Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea- the Lord on high is mighty”.

 If this was written in the days after the return from exile in Babylon then these words have even greater significance as for a time Babylon raised its voice against God and his people and they were defeated by them and locked them up in exile in Babylon but now Babylon was defeated by the Persians and God’s people returned to God’s Promised Land.

Recently I watched a movie about some Jews who escaped Nazi Germanys forces in Belarus by hiding out in the forest there. One character was an older orthodox Jewish man who throughout the movie struggled with the terrible death and torture of his people at the hands of the Nazis and his faith in the God of the bible. Towards the end of the movie as he was dying he says that he almost lost his faith but the brave leadership of the man who led this group and their often miraculous escape from German attacks helped him keep his faith in the God of the bible.

Many ask why does it seem evil goes unchecked in this world?

The answer to this question is very complex but part of it is that for reasons often only clear to God himself evil is allowed in this world but over and over again evil does get defeated and of course we see this in modern history by the fall and destruction of Nazi Germany and the return of the Jews to what is now modern Israel.

God rules over chaos and evil and verse 4 speaks of this in the image of the chaotic sea with the words,

“Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea- the Lord on high is mighty”.

Spurgeon writes,

“When men combine to overthrow the kingdom of Jesus. Plot secretly, and by and by rage, openly the Lord thinks of it than of so much noise upon the sea beach”.

 Jesus showed us his might and power over the chaos of nature in the stilling of the storm recorded Matthew, Luke and Mark’s gospels. I like Marks account of this in Mark 4: 35 – 40,

“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

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

I want to note two amazing things from this passage:

  1. Jesus mighty powerful word
  2. The disciples reaction to Jesus mighty powerful word

Lets have a quick look at these two amazing things”

  1. Jesus mighty powerful word

The first amazing thing in this passage for me is how mighty and powerful is the word of Christ. A powerful storm is raging on lake Galilee and I read this about storms on The Sea or lake Galilee in a internet site called Christiananswers . net,

“Such storms result from differences in temperatures between the seacoast and the mountains beyond. The Sea of Galilee lies 680 feet below sea level. It is bounded by hills, especially on the east side where they reach 2000 feet high. These heights are a source of cool, dry air. In contrast, directly around the sea, the climate is semi-tropical with warm, moist air. The large difference in height between surrounding land and the sea causes large temperature and pressure changes. This results in strong winds dropping to the sea, funneling through the hills.

 The Sea of Galilee is small, and these winds may descend directly to the center of the lake with violent results. When the contrasting air masses meet, a storm can arise quickly and without warning. Small boats caught out on the sea are in immediate danger”.

 So in the midst of this kind of mighty storm Jesus is awakened and he stands up looking directly at the raging storm and simply says,

“Quiet! Be still”

 Immediately the storm dies down and there is a complete calm. Jesus therefore demonstrates his word is mighty and powerful just as verse 4 of Psalm 93 says,

“Mightier than the thunder of the great waters”

 Note how Jesus allows the disciple to get into a mighty storm but at the same time he deals with the storm with his mighty word. When I was studying Psalm 61 almost two years ago I had in that week four close relatives suffer serious illness and three of them went to hospital in a serious state. I felt like I was going through a sudden and mighty storm of life.

Both my wife and I prayed to God for help and within a week three of my close relatives recovered their health but unfortunately my dear mother in law passed away at the age of 87. This experience got caught up in my poem that became a song for Psalm 61 that contains David’s desperate cry for help in his life in verse 2b.

“I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I”

 This verse and my experience of four close relatives falling seriously ill at the time led me to compose my chorus for my poem / song for Psalm 61, which simply says,

“Lead me, Lead me

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Help me, Help me,

Help me stand the storms of life I cry”.

 The same Jesus who stilled the storm on lake Galilee with his mighty powerful word can, if he wills, still the storms of our lives as well if we but call on him to do so. Or he will help us cope with the storms of life and be our shelter or protector in them.

  1. The disciples reaction to Jesus mighty powerful word

The second amazing thing I see in the Mark 4: 35 – 40 passage is the reaction of the disciples to Jesus mighty powerful word that stilled the storm on lake Galilee that day and we find that in last verse of that passage, verse 41,

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

Most of the men in the boat that day were seasoned Galilee fishermen who knew the lake and its violent storms intimately and they knew what Jesus did, stilling the storm with just a word was humanly impossible. Their reaction reflects this with the words,

“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

They like most of us took time to realise that Jesus Christ was not just a man who had wonderful teachings but he was God the king become a man. At this stage of their development their response to who Jesus appeared to be was “fear”,

“They were terrified”

Later their response was faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord or King as we see in one of those Galilee fisherman who was in the boat that day first sermon on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2: 36,

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

 Jesus then is what the end of verse 4 calls God the King,

“The Lord on high is mighty”

 Jesus is the Lord on high become a man so that he could, as Peter declared, be crucified so that he can be the Messiah, the promised suffering King who would save his people from their sins as the great prophet Isaiah predicted in Isaiah 53: 4 – 6,

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him,  and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”.

This is the amazing way God beat the forces of chaos and evil and through Christ resurrection and later ascension into heaven he proved that he was,

“Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea- the Lord on high is mighty”.

  1. (5)     Our God the king reigns over his people

 We come then to the third and final section of this Psalm and it is simply the final verse of this amazing little Psalm. It presents the final way in which God the king reigns in our universe and that is he reigns over his people.

The verse reads,

“Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O Lord.

 I see that God reigns over his people, those who have come to faith in him, in three ways:

  1. He rules his people by his word
  2. He rules his people by his holy presence
  3. He rules his people by his eternal reign in heaven and on earth

Lets have a look at each of these three ways God’s reign is seen over his people.

  1. He rules his people by his word

 The God of the bible is unique because he is a God that has not left himself in the dark, as he revealed himself through his word, which we find in what we call the bible.

The first part of this final verse declares God’s revelation of himself in his word in Old Testament terminology,

“Your statutes stand firm”

In the Old Testament God reveals himself and his desired will for his people through the revealed law of God given to Moses. Once God saved his people out of slavery in Egypt, led them across the red sea and destroyed a large army of their captures by rejoining the parted waters of the red sea over them and then he led them to Mount Sinai.

Moses ascends Mount Sinai and meets with God and there gives Moses his law for his people to follow and obey. These are the first recorded words of God to Moses on Mount Sinai, Exodus 19: 3 – 6,

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

Note how God is telling Moses and the people of Israel how he has revealed himself through both what he did for them and through his covenant, which in Moses time was expressed in the law or statutes given to Moses on Mount Sinai. If they obey God’s law or statutes he will bless them as a nation of priests to the rest of the world.

Israel’s job was to act as priests and a priest was someone who represented God and acted as a go between God and man or others. This is what Peter tells us, the church of Jesus Christ is, a community of priests in 1 Peter 2: 9 – 10,

 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”.

Note we are all priests and so in New Testament terms the role of being God’s go between who presents God’s message to the world is for all believers not just a special priestly few.

Psalm 119 is a Psalm that teaches us about the importance of God’s laws or statutes, which we can clearly see, are God’s word to us. The Psalm is a massive praise for God’s word and its value in our every day life.

Right from the start of Psalm 119 we read of the value and importance of God’s word to us, which as I said in Old Testament terminology is God’s law or statutes. Let me show you that by quoting the first eight verses of that wonderful Psalm, Psalm 119: 1 – 8,

“Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart—they do no wrong but follow his ways. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me”.

The rest of this massively long Psalm continues the wonderful message of the value and application of God’s word for our lives.

It is his word that our God the King who reigns has given us. Christians are people who recognize that the God of the bible is the God who reigns and we should seek to live out his revealed word in our daily lives.

This word is said to be,

“Firm”

What does it mean to say that God’s statutes or word is firm?

I think the answer to this becomes even clearer when we consider what has been said already that this world can often seem chaotic or out of control as the image of the sea or ocean conjures up but in the midst of the chaos of life we have a anchor or something that is sure and immovable and that is the word of God because it stands firm.

The New Testament and the teaching of Jesus and his inspired disciples speak of the sure and firm foundations of Jesus and his word to us.

As we see in Jesus teaching of the parable of the house built on sand compared to the house built on rock. We read this in Matthew 7: 24 – 27,

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

And Peter, one of the disciples of Jesus writes this about the importance of the word of God and particularly the words of Christ in 1 Peter 1: 22 – 25,

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 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.” And this is the word that was preached to you”.

So God our God who reigns does this over his people, those who recognize his reign by giving us his statutes or word for us to live our lives by and that word in the changing and often chaotic world we live in, stands firm or is our sure anchor for our daily lives.

  1. He rules his people by his holy presence

The second way God rules his people is bound up in the phrase in verse 5 that says,

“Holiness adorns your house”

 This also is an Old Testament terminology for the special presence of God in the midst of those who obey and follow God as their king.

The two key words or terms we need to understand are:

  1. Holiness
  2. Your house

Lets have a close look at these two key words or terms:

  1. Holiness

All through the Old Testament God is seen or presented as a holy God.

“Gotquestion?org says this about the holiness of God,

“God’s holiness is more than just His perfection or sinless purity; it is the essence of His “other-ness,” His transcendence. God’s holiness embodies the mystery of His awesomeness and causes us to gaze in wonder at Him as we begin to comprehend just a little of His majesty”.

 We see this transcendent majesty of God, his holiness in Isaiah’s vision of God in heaven in Isaiah 6: 3,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory”.

 The actual word “Holy” literally means, “to separate or to cut off” (Don Stewart, Blue letter bible) and again gives the idea that God is very different than us and is not like us in that we have been badly affected by sin.

This is why the New Testament makes such a deal about us having to be given “Righteousness” or “Holiness” as a gift which we receive from God by faith as Paul writes in Romans 1: 17,

“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written; ‘The righteous will live by Faith”.

 I like how Alfred Barnes links this idea of holiness here in verse 5 to what has been said in the previous verses with these words,

“Perhaps there may be here, also, the idea that in all the convulsions of the world; in all that threatens to overthrow truth and righteousness; in all the attacks which are made on the divine government; in all the efforts of the defenders of error, and in the midst of abounding iniquity, the church should maintain a firm adherence to the principles of “holiness,” to that which is right and true”.

 I refer back to those wonderful words of Peter who spoke of us as being all priests in 1 Peter 2: 9 – 10, for here he also says we are to be a ‘holy nation”,

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”.

We have been called out of “darkness’ or “Chaos” to be God’s light in this dark sinful world so we are to show the world what it means to belong to God who is holy.

  1. Your house

Verse 5 actually says,

‘Holiness adorns your house”.

 What is “your house” he referring to?

We have seen many times in the Psalms so far that “your house” generally refers to God’s sanctuary in the Temple as we see in Psalm 84: 10,

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

Even though this speaks of the Temple as God’s house or dwelling it must mean more as the writer cannot live his life locked up in the building called the Temple. No “God’s house” is the representative term for “God dwelling with his people” and for the Psalmist to say he wants to live in God’s house or as Psalm 84: 10 says, be a doorkeeper in God’s house, is to say he wants to live his life in God’s presence.

This is what our God who is King wants, he wants to rule in our hearts and in doing so he wants to be present with us in our very day to day lives. As the aging John taught 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 in us”.

 And Paul taught over and over again that if we have faith in Christ he is in us no matter what chaos or darkness we face as he teaches clearly in a passage like 2 Corinthians 4: 5 – 12,

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you”.

God’s house, we have seen in previous Psalms also represents God’s eternal home in heaven as we see 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”.

Jesus promises those who bow to the reign of the God who is king a special room in God’s eternal home in heaven in 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”.

  1. He rules his people by his eternal reign in heaven and on earth

The Psalm started with the words,

“The Lord reigns”

 And finishes with the words,

“For endless days, O Lord”.

 The Psalm also spoke of God’s eternal reign in verse 2 with the words,

“You are from all eternity”

 So as those who bow to or pay homage to this God who reigns as king we are now part of his endless days when we put that final verse 5 back together,

“Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O Lord”.

 The New Testament makes it much clearer that God gives to those who turn to him through faith in his Son eternal life as Paul makes it clear in Romans 6: 23,

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

 King could easily replace the term Lord as Jesus being Lord of our lives means that he now rules our life and we now live for him.

We live for him by submitting to his word, statutes and living in his presence both in this life by faith and in the life to come by sight.

The start of the last chapter of Revelation, chapter 22 verses 1 – 5 has an interesting reflection on the concept in Psalm 93 verses 3 and 4 of chaotic water- ways like flooded rivers in verse 3 and the violent untamed sea and surf in verse 4. For Revelation 22: 1 – 5 uses the image of a crystal peaceful flowing river called, “The River of the water of life. This river is an image along with the city it flows through as a picture of God’s eternal home and our place as true believers in it,

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever”.

 The contrast of the turbulent chaotic waters of this life in Psalm 93 stands in complete contrast to the vision of the river of life in heaven. From this calm and beautiful river comes much fruit and life rather than death and destruction and why is this so?

 The answer lies in the fact that this river flows from the very throne of God and that throne is also the throne of the lamb which is of course God’s Son, Jesus Christ who was the sacrificial lamb of God offered up on the cross for our sins.

Finally who will enjoy this magnificent river?

Verse 3 simply says,

“His servants will serve him”

 Or might I say, God’s servants who seek to serve him as their God who reigns in heaven and on earth.

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

 

COME SERVE THE KING

(Based on Psalm 93)

 Our God the King does reign on high

Clothed in his majesty and power.

He is armed with strength

For he created all

And now this world cannot be moved

And it will never fall.

 

Refrain:

Come serve the king

For he made everything.

Come serve the king

And now bow to him.

God’s throne was established long ago

It has always been and now we know.

He has reigned on high

For all eternity.

His strength and power and might

Now gives us certainty,

 

Refrain:

Come serve the king

For he has always been,

Come serve the king

And now bow to him.

 

The raging waters lift up now against the Lord.

The pounding surf seeks to destroy God’s word.

But God is mightier

Than those great waters

For he is the Lord of all this world

And he never falter’s.

 

Refrain:

Come serve the king

Who’s in charge of everything.

Come serve the king

And now bow to him.

 

God’s given us his word, which stands firm.

It has the power to change and transform.

Our God is a Holy God

We can know him in our lives today.

His eternal home is in heaven above

Which you can see one day.

 

Refrain:

Come serve the king

And one day you’ll live with him.

Come serve the king

And now bow to him.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 I thank you Father in heaven above for you are the God who is the eternal king of everything. I acknowledge you to be my Lord and Savoir Jesus Christ and I seek now to serve you in your world knowing that you must reign in the hearts of men if they want to one day go to your eternal home in heaven. Help me to trust in and obey your word as I seek serve you in this world today. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

PSALM 92 TALK: IT IS GOOD TO PRAISE THE LORD

PSALM 92 TALK: IT IS GOOD TO PRAISE THE LORD

 (A Psalm that explores why we should praise God always because he is good in so many ways. We should praise him because he is the exalted king of everything who made this world and universe and who in love has saved us and now wants to bless our lives if we but turn to him and praise his name.)

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

 INTRODUCTION

 I have referred before to a hymn written by Henry Francis Lyte (1793 – 1847), “Abide with Me” in my Psalm Talk for Psalm 55. There is another hymn Lyte wrote that is also a favorite with me called, “Praise my soul the king of heaven”. The first verse of that great hymn goes like this:

Praise, my soul the king of heaven

To his feet your tribute bring;

Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,

Who like me his praise should sing?

Alleluia, Alleluia!

Praise the everlasting King!

I pointed out in my Psalm 55 talk that “Abide with me” was written around three weeks before Lyte’s death at the tender age of 54 which, came about because for most of his life he suffered from chronic asthma and tuberculosis. Even though he suffered series illness most of his life he still penned the beautiful hymn of praise, “Praise my soul the king of heaven”.

To show he praised God with his debilitating illness in mind I discovered in my research of his hymn a fifth verse which Lyte wrote and has been sadly dropped from the modern singing of this beautiful hymn of praise and this fifth verse goes like this,

Frail as summer’s flower we perish

Blows the wind and it is gone.

But, while mortals rise and perish,

God endures unchanging on.

Praise him! Praise him!

Praise the high eternal One!

Even though Lyte suffered greatly during his relatively short life he still continued to work for God in praise and service as a minister of a small church in England at a place called Lower Brixham, Devonshire where it is said he established a Sunday School that had over 800 children and of course he also enriched the lives of his community and generations to come with his wonderful hymns.

Lyte’s hymn was based on Psalm 103 but I find that the words of his hymn fit very well to the teaching of Psalm 92 and I will quote some of the verses of this hymn during my talk on it.

However the one missing element in the hymn “Praise my soul the king of heaven” is the concept of that praising God is good.

This concept opens the Psalm and I believe the Psalm teaches that God is good and it is good to praise him because of what he has done and will do for us out of his great love and goodness for us.

This “goodness” of God should inspire us as it did Henry Francis Lyte to praise God even in life’s difficulties because even in these God is with us seeking to help us.

The Hebrew heading for this Psalm simply reads,

“A Psalm. A song For the Sabbath Day”

 It seems that the ancient Hebrew people, probably the Levite priests allocated different Psalms for different days. Karen Hannah makes this interesting comment about this practice of a different Psalm for each day of the week,

“Every day, when the Temple of God was standing in Jerusalem, the Levitical choir stood on the platform located in the Court of the Women, where all public prayer and worship was conducted, and they sang the psalm of praise for that particular day. Every song was orchestrated by King David and has deep significance. The practice has been preserved in Judaism through the centuries and is continued to this day in private prayer and in synagogue”.

 Even though we know the Psalms of the week, Psalm 24 Sunday, Psalm 48 Monday, Psalm 82 Tuesday, Psalm 94 Wednesday, Psalm 81 Thursday and Psalm 93 Friday only this Psalm, Psalm 92 has a designated day of the week in its heading which is of course Saturday, Psalm 92 which is the Jewish Sabbath day.

Why was Psalm 92 chosen for the Sabbath day?

The answer to this is not clear but it could have to do with the obvious reference to the creation in verses 4 and 5,

“For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts!”

Genesis 2: 1 and 2 says,

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work”.

Throughout the creation story in Genesis one we read words like, “And God saw that it was good” (vs’s 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). Then finally in verse 31 we read,

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good”.

 Psalm 92, the Psalm allocated to the Sabbath day, the day of rest commences with the words,

“It is good to praise the Lord”.

 We cannot tell when this Psalm was written and we can only conclude two things, it is very old and secondly it appears to have been written after a great defeat by God over his enemies who were an enemy of Israel. This is because verse 11 says,

“My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes”.

Some have suggested this could refer to the defeat of the Babylonians by the Persians, which led to the Jews being able to return to Jerusalem, but I think it is older than this but I cannot pinpoint a particular defeat of an enemy of Israel for this Psalm.

If the previous Psalm, Psalm 91 was inspired by events in the time of King Jehoshaphat when God defeated a combined army of three Nations in 897BC recorded in (2 Chronicles 20) and because this Psalm is placed straight after Psalm 91 then maybe this Psalm could also fit this time period but we cannot know for sure,

With the theme of the first line of this Psalm namely,

“It is good to praise the Lord”

I have broken this Psalm into four parts under the following headings:

  1. 1 – 3   – IT IS GOOD TO PRAISE THE LORD
  1. 1a         – It is good
  2. 1b & 3 – It is good to praise the Lord with music
  3. 2          – It is good to praise the Lord with words
  1. 4 – 5   – WHY IT IS GOOD TO PRAISE THE LORD
  1. 6 – 9   – WHY IT IS NOT GOOD TO NOT PRAISE THE LORD
  1. 6 – 7   – They perish because they are fools
  2. 8 – 9   – They perish because they oppose the exalted king
  1. 10 – 15 – THE GOOD THAT COMES TO THOSE WHO PRAISE THE LORD
  1. 10 – 11 – Exalted to see God at work
  2. 12 – 15 – Flourishing and growing even in old age

Lets then have a close look at the first section of this Psalm:

  1. 1 – 3   – IT IS GOOD TO PRAISE THE LORD

 I have broken this first section into three parts and the first part looks at the opening words of the Psalm in verse 1 and the second looks as musical accompaniment in 1b and verse 3. While the third section looks at praising God with our words in verse 2.

  1. 1a         – It is good
  2. 1b & 3 – It is good to praise the Lord with music
  3. 2           – It is good to praise the Lord with words

 Lets have a close look at the first part:

  1. 1a       – It Is good

 So the Psalm starts with the words,

“It is good to praise the Lord”

 As I indicated in the introduction the word “good” appears in the opening chapter of the bible, Genesis one where it is used six times. The Cambridge Bible commentary explains the expression “It is good” this way,

“A tribute due to God; as a salutary and delightful occupation for man”.

 Leopold explains the expression this way,

”Good’ seems to be a rather colourless word for describing how “salutary’ and ‘delightful” is it to praise the Lord”.

 I like the idea that it is good for us to praise the Lord because it is our occupation or the reason why God made us. I have quoted a number of times throughout my Psalm talks the first question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism,

“What is the chief end of man?

  1. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”.

Psalm 86: 9 and 10 speaks of how the “Nations” or mankind have been made to glorify God,

“All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name.10 for you are great and do marvellous deeds; you alone are God”.

 While Psalm 16: 5 – 11 speaks of how we find our ultimate joy in God alone,

“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand”.

Many other scriptures could be quoted on these two great reasons why we were made by God but I will give just one more that is Paul’s word on why we must praise God and particularly Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5: 18,

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

Not how Paul says that praise or giving thanks in all circumstances is God’s will in Christ Jesus.

Tremper Longman 111 says that it is good to praise the Lord because it is “Right” and Spurgeon sums it all up with these words,

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, or Jehovah. It is good ethically, for it is the Lord’s right, it is good emotionally, for it is pleasant to the heart, it is good practically, for it leads others to render the same homage”.

The fact that the Jews used this Psalm as a major part of their Sabbath worship is clear because it is an instruction of “Good” or “Right” praise of the Lord which is the basis of all biblical worship.

  1. 1b & 3 – It is good to praise the Lord with music

The second half of verse 1 simply says,

“And make music to your name, O Most High”.

 Music was a major part of the ancient Hebrew worship and this seems to go right back to the time of Moses where the first thing he does after God leads him and his people across the red sea and after he destroyed the Egyptian army is sing a great song, Exodus 15.

David was a great musician and song – writer and he seems to be the one who set up detailed arrangements for music and he often speaks of praising the Lord with music in his Psalms, as David declares in Psalm 32: 11,

“Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart”!

 David wrote many new songs, that became Psalms after significant events in his life as 2 Samuel 22: 1,

“David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul”.

David attributes these “New Songs” of praise as coming from God himself in Psalm 40: 3,

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord”.

So right through the Old Testament we read of music as a means of praise and worship and even after the return from Babylon Ezra re- introduces praise and worship with music, Ezra 3: 10 – 11,

“ When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. 11 With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord:

 “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid”.

In the New Testament Paul wrote to two churches about praise and worship using music, Ephesians 5: 19 – 20,

“Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

And Colossians 3: 15 – 17,

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.

Finally verse 3 of Psalm 92 speaks of using musical instruments in the musical praise of the Lord,

“To the music of the ten- stringed lyle and the melody of the harp”.

These instruments are first mentioned in the time of David in 2 Samuel 6: 5,

“ David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbal”.

David himself is known even at a very young age as a very fine musician and is picked out as a good player of the harp to sooth the troubled soul of the rebellious King Saul in 1 Samuel 16: 17 – 18,

“So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”

The book of Revelation has many references to musical instruments accompanying great singing and in Heaven and in Revelation 14: 2 – 3, we even have a reference to the sound of harps,

“And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders”.

Sadly some Christian churches over the years have banned the use of musical instruments in worship but this I believe comes from a false interpretation of certain bible verses. The bulk of the bible speaks like verse 3 in Psalm 91 of using musical instruments in our good praise of the Lord.

However the warning is that our use of musical instruments like our singing must be done in praise and worship of the Lord or to the glory of God as everything we do must be likewise as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10: 31,

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

This music is to be made for the worship of the God of the bible here called “Most High” which in Hebrew is the words “Elyon” and I came across this ancient biblical name for God in the last Psalm, Psalm 91 verse 1, so I will quote myself directly from my Psalm talk on that Psalm.

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 fulfil 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 become 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.”

So right here in the first verse of Psalm 92 we have a reason for why it is good to praise the Lord because of who he is “The Most High” God, the supreme one over all things and Jesus is that God come to be with us, “Immanuel”, so we must praise him with our music, our words and our very lives.

  1. 2           – It is good to praise the Lord with words

 In verse 2 we have the reason why we must us words in our praise of the Lord but not just any words but words that proclaim God’s love and faithfulness,

“To proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night”.

 So good praise of God is not just a lot of noise as the message of God’s word must be able to be clearly heard. I have attended many church services both here in Australia and overseas where the amplifiers have been turned up so loud I cannot hear or understand the words being sung.

One private test for me of whether the music is turned up to load is whether I can sing my tenor parts and actually harmonise with other voices in the congregation. Sadly I have even stopped singing in some church services I have attended because the music was simply drowning out everyone except for the singers up the front who had microphones.

Verse 2 of this Psalm says that the essence of good praise of the Lord is the proclamation of the love and faithfulness of God, which is a concept right through the book of Psalms.

David spoke a lot about these two ideas in many of his Psalms and one Psalm of David, Psalm 57 features this wonderful concept. The essence of this concept in this Psalm is in verse 3,

“He sends from heaven and saves me; God sends his love and his faithfulness”.

 God inspired me to write a wonderful new song based on what I learnt from this Psalm and the first verse and chorus of that song go like this,

“Trust in God’s love and faithfulness

Because of Jesus Christ

Who came to earth to die for us

And rise to give us life.

No matter what life brings to us

Be sure to realise

That Christ is right beside us

To help us in our lives.

 Chorus:

 God’s love and faithfulness

In Jesus we see.

God’s love and faithfulness

He’s always with me”.

 Verse 2 says that this good praise of God should be in the morning and the night, meaning the whole day or at all times which again is what Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5: 18,

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

So the good praise of God’s love and faithfulness is in fact a way of life which is what Paul says in 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”.

 However this Psalm’s heading says that this Psalm was particularly directed to the Sabbath day when Jewish people gathered together to offer God the good worship He deserves. The last verse of my “Love and faithfulness” song speaks of this,

“My heart is steadfast trusting God

Who gives us all his love

And I will sing of what his done

And raise his name above.

I’ll go into this world and praise

God’s love and faithfulness.

Join the fellowship of praise

Proclaiming God’s the best.”

 In Christ, the New Testament tells us how God has ransomed us through his death on the cross. He has healed us of all our sins, restored us to be in a relationship with God again and finally has made this all possible because of his wonderful forgiving love.

Just as Paul declares, so beautifully in Romans 5: 6 – 11,

 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 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! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation”.

I close this first section with the words of Henry Francis Lyte’s first verse of his hymn

“Praise my soul the king of heaven”.

Praise, my soul the king of heaven

To his feet your tribute bring;

Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,

Who like me his praise should sing?

Alleluia, Alleluia!

Praise the everlasting King!

  1. 4 – 5   – WHY IT IS GOOD TO PRAISE THE LORD

In verses 4 and 5 the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 92 goes on to declare why it is good to praise the Lord with these words,

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts!”

 I see three reasons why it is good to praise the Lord I these two verses:

  1. God’s deeds and works
  2. God’s handiwork
  3. God’s profound thoughts

I will now comment on each of these three reasons why it is good to praise the Lord:

  1. God’s deeds and works

Both verse 4 and five speak of the deeds or works of God which I think is more to do with what God had done and continues to do in our world in his acts of love and salvation. Tremper Longman 111 says this,

“No specific deeds are mentioned, but the Old Testament is full of accounts of God saving his people”.

 The big account of God’s works or deeds that stands out in the Old Testament is the saving of his people out of slavery in Egypt and in doing so the destruction of an entire Egyptian army at the crossing of the red sea. As I said before one of the first great songs of praise of the Hebrew people is Moses son in Exodus 15.

Moses opens his song of God’s good deeds of salvation with these incredible words of praise in verses 1 and 2 of Exodus 15,

“I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.“The Lord is my strength and my defence; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him”.

Note how Moses says that “He”, namely God himself hurled the horse and driver in to the sea. Moses recognises that this great victory and rescue mission is a direct result of God working in real time history for his people’s salvation.

David speaks like this in many of his Psalms as he writes in the start of his 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”.

Note why David believed God was worthy of praise, namely because he called to God for help and in real time history God worked and his deeds led to his salvation from his enemies.

This message of God working or of God’s deeds of salvation continues in the New Testament with the message of God sending Jesus into the world on a great rescue mission for us, 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”.

This rescue mission of God for us took place in real time history and we can look back to God’s work of Salvation, his deeds of love for us and even today we can know his help in our lives as he continues to act in real time history for us.

So we can join the Psalmist and,

“Sing for joy at the works of your hands”.

 As Henry Francis Lyte’s second verse of his hymn, “Praise my soul the king of heaven” declares,

“Praise him for his grace and favour

To our fathers in distress;

Praise him still the same as ever,

Slow to blame and swift to bless;

Alleluia, alleluia!

Glorious in his faithfulness”.

  1. God’s handiwork

I think the works of God’s hands and God’s deeds could be also speaking of his work of creation. This makes a lot of sense if this Psalm was chosen as the Psalm to be sung on the Sabbath day when we stop work like God stopped work and praise God for his wonderful handiwork of creation.

David wrote at least two Psalms that praised God for his good and great work of creation, Psalm 8 and Psalm 19 and I like the opening 5 verses of Psalm 8 here,

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory
in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?  and crowned them with glory and honour”.

Note how even here in David’s praise of God’s handiwork in creation he speaks of his work or deeds in saving his people from their enemies in verse 2b,

“You have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger”.

God made all that is, he entire creation came from his hands and the opening words of the bible simply say,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.

Science is still trying to figure out how God did it but I believe we will never fully understand how God made this world and this universe. All we know for sure is God spoke and things were created such is the awesome power of God and his word.

The opening verses of Johns Gospel speak of God’s creation through what John calls “The word”, 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”.

A little further on John tells us who this “Word of God” is in 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 Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

Jesus is the one who as God in heaven made all things and it is his handiwork we should offer good and acceptable praise to.

The writer to the Hebrews says much the same thing but adds even more reasons why we should offer good praise to Jesus Christ in Hebrews 1: 1 – 4,

“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. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs”.

Note how the writer to the Hebrews also includes the work of Salvation as part of Christ handiwork in verse 3b,

“After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”.

One day everyone will acknowledge who Jesus is and what he has done for us as Paul states in Philippians 2: 9 – 11,

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

But for some this will be a fearful and terrible day for this universal praise of Jesus will be when he returns again and then the opportunity to turn to him in faith and obedience and praise will be over.

The third section of Psalm 92 will deal with this.

  1. God’s profound thoughts

There is no doubt that behind the wonders of the creation is a great intelligence so great is God’s intelligence our puny brains cannot really understand it as David speaks of God’s deeds and plans or thoughts in Psalm 40: 5,

“Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare”.

I am a firm believer in the theological / Science explanation of the creation of the world called, “Intelligent Design”. The centre Science and Culture defined intelligent design this way,

“The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection”.

 So verse 5 of Psalm 92 says,

“How great are your works, O Lord, how profound your thoughts”.

The intelligent designer then is none other than the God of the Bible who this verse is speaking of. His works are great and his thoughts or intelligence is profound.

The bible has much to say about this and I will refer to just three key scriptures on the thoughts or intelligence of God,

  1. Isaiah 40: 28,

“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.

  1. Isaiah 55: 9,

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”.

  1. Romans 11: 33 – 36,

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? ]35 “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” 36 For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen”.

When modern science discovers the wonders and complexity of life and the universe around us how can it ignore the amazing intelligent design behind it yet so many still cling to the silly idea that it all came about by accident over millions of years.

No the only real intelligent and reasonable explanation of the origins of life and the universe is that their was a creator behind it, a creator who’s thoughts are so profound we cannot really comprehend them.

However Psalm 92 says,

“It is good to Praise the Lord”

Because it is the Lord, the God of the bible who made it all and who through his love and faithfulness expressed and has given to us through The Lord Jesus Christ salvation and new life to serve him.

I close this second section with the third verse of Henry Francis Lyte’s hymn “Praise my soul the king of heaven”.

“Father – like, he tends and spares us;

All our hopes and fears he knows,

In his hands he gently bears us,

Rescues us from all our foes,

Alleluia, alleluia,

Widely as his mercy flows”.

  1. 6 – 9   – WHY IT IS NOT GOOD TO NOT PRAISE THE LORD

 We come then to the third section of this Psalm which deals with those who refuse to acknowledge the God of the bible as God and who in rebellion to him oppose those who seek to praise and worship him.

I have divided this third section into two parts:

  1. 6 – 7   – They perish because they are fools
  2. 8 – 9 –  They perish because they oppose the exalted king

 Lets look at these two parts a little closer:

  1. 6 – 7   – They perish because they are fools

It is true to say that the majority of mankind rejects the reality of a intelligent designer and because they do they are fools. They are fools because they fail to accept that the God of the bible is the very intelligent designer and this is expressed in verse 6,

“The senseless man does not know, fools do not understand”.

 Both Psalm 14 and 53 speak of the foolishness of the man that says there is no God, verses 1 of those Psalms says,

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God. They are corrupt their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good”.

 Note here that that first verse of those Psalms not only states that a person who denies the existence of God is a fool but it actually tells us why they think this way. The answer is in a word, sin, which is described in the two Psalms as,

“They are corrupt their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good”.

 Paul gives a more detailed run down of how sin leads to people denying God and his claim as the creator Lord of their lives in Romans 1: 18 – 23,

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

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

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

It works like this Paul is saying; the person who denies God’s existence is a person who does not want to acknowledge that God exists because they love their wickedness or at least the sense that they are in charge and not God. If they acknowledge God then they are answerable to someone higher and greater then themselves and that will mean they might have to stop doing things they want to do that the so called God might not like them to continue to do.

The minister at the church service I attend at the moment runs regularly Christianity explained courses and he has told me that some non believers who attend that course have said to him that they can see the truth in the Christian faith and what the bible presents but they are not willing to become Christians because don’t wont or are not willing to change their life styles to become one.

This is sad because I know myself that yes I did give up life style things in my life when I returned to Christ in my late teens after falling away but at the same time I gained far more better things then I ever gave up at the time. For instance I had to stop drinking alcohol as even a small amount of it made me very drunk and sick with migraine headaches but I gained fellowship and friendship with people all around the world. I gained peace in my heart that passes all understanding, I gained someone to turn to in the rough and tumble of life, and need I go on?

Verse 6 then merges into verse 7, which says what they fail to understand when they deny God in their lives,

“That though the wicked springs up like grass and evil doers flourish, they will be destroyed”.

That’s what Paul says in the Romans passage I quoted in 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”.

So even though for a while God deniers might seem to do well in this life in the end God will catch up with them.

Again we have another Old Testament writer using the analogy of grass, which we also saw 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”.

Peter in the New Testament picks up this popular image of the fleeting nature of human existence as compared to God’s eternal nature being like grass in 1 Peter 1: 24,

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

 Here, Peter picks up the Isaiah 40: 6 – 8 reference to man being like grass which is contrasted to the eternal nature of God’s word. In Psalm 92 the grass image is used of the fleeting nature of wicked or God denying men and women success in life which will only last a short time and then will die or be destroyed by death and the judgment of God,

Only this week I went with my wife to a large graveyard in Sydney to visit her mothers grave and walking around that cemetery, one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere I thought of how all the people buried there once lived lives not thinking much of the certainty of death and for many they probably gave little thought to God and even some openly defied him but this was their destiny, death and the grave that probably came so seemingly quickly in their time in this life.

Others buried there, like my mother in law, we believe had a simply faith in God and particularly, the Lord Jesus Christ now enjoy eternal life with God in heaven as we read in 1 John 2: 17,

“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever”.

 John could be so certain of this because he heard and later wrote Jesus great promise of the resurrection that Jesus gives to all who turn and believe in him, John 11: 25 – 26,

“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?”

  1. 8 – 9   – They perish because they oppose the exalted king

 The writer of Psalm 92 then makes it clear why men and women are like grass, fleeting and fragile compared to the eternal nature of God by stating in verse 8 who the God of the bible really is,

“But you, O Lord, are exalted forever”

 The contrast is enormous, mankind is fleeting and fragile like grass but the God of the bible is exalted and lives forever. God is the exalted King of heaven and earth. Spurgeon sums up the contrast between sinful man and eternal exalted God this way,

“God is at once the highest and most enduring of all beings. Others rise and fall, but God is the Most High to eternity”.

 As Peter referring to the prophet Isaiah points out,

 “But the word of the Lord stands forever”.

 It is good to praise the Lord because he alone is the one who is over all and who forever is our exalted king. On my recent visit to Europe I visited as a tourist many famous and luxurious palaces of past and present Royalty but they cannot compare to heaven and the king who sits on the throne of heaven. They lived and died but God lives forever and those who oppose him are said to be in a very awful state according to verse 9, which simply says,

“For surely your enemies, O Lord, surely your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered”.

 The writer of Psalm 92, repeats the phrase, “surely your enemies” twice to emphasize that this is God’s rule or decree for those who oppose or deny to praise him. Their fate is to perish and be scattered.

The term “will be scattered” is the first phrase, I believe this Psalmist picks up from ideas expressed in Psalm 1 and in this case the description of the fate of the wicked is like verse 4 of that Psalm,

“Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away”.

Chaff is scattered by the wind and in Psalm 1 it is contrasted with the great fruitful tree that is planted by a stream of water, which is the faithful follower of the Lord. The use of these images from Psalm 1 become even clearer in verses 12 and 13, which we will look at in the next and final section of this Psalm.

The fate of the wicked or those who deny the exalted God of heaven is made even plainer in the New Testament particularly through the teaching of Jesus and we see this in a passage like Matthew 13: 37 – 42, which is Jesus explanation of the Parable of the Sower or Weeds,

 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

 40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.

Jesus adds to this description of fate of the wicked or those who deny the God of heaven a word on the fate of the true believer in verse 43,

“The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear”.

  1. 10 – 15 – THE GOOD THAT COMES TO THOSE WHO PRAISE THE LORD

 We come then to the final section of this Psalm, which deals with the good or blessings God promises to those who have good praise for the Lord or for those who have true faith in him, that issues in true praise of him.

I have divided this final section into two parts:

  1. 10 – 11 – Exalted to see God at work
  2. 12 – 15 – Flourishing and growing even in old age

Lets look closely then at each of these two parts:

  1. 10 – 11 – Exalted to see God at work

The Psalmist now speaks of how God blesses those who practice good praise of the Lord and in verse 10 he speaks of God’s personal blessing in his life,

“You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured over me”.

 Alan Harman explains the poetic symbol of the expression “my horn” this way,

“An idiomatic way in Hebrew of describing elevation in position”.

 Which fits the use of the word exalted and the poetic image of this horn belonging to a wild animal gives the idea of strength which some commentators also say a horn can also mean as well.

He is obviously speaking of being strengthened to triumph over his enemies, which the next verse seems to suggest. The concept of oils Harman suggests is its connection with horns being used for carrying oils in ancient times.

However I like Leupold’s explanation of the poetic expression of “oils being poured over” a person,

“It may be possible that the anointing with fresh oil is to recall (as in Psalm 45:7) of some joyous occasion for which men would in days of old anoint their face (see also Matthew 6: 16 -18)”.

 So the Psalmist has been exalted over his enemies in some way and he is speaking in the first person to represent what goodness or blessing God will give those who rightly praise the God of the bible.

The prophecy of Jesus, we read in the previous section from Matthew 13, concerns the coming future final judgment but sometimes God executes smaller specific judgment on individuals and Nations in this life.

Evil wicked people are defeated and brought down like Adolf Hitler in more recent times and evil empires like the Babylonians or Romans in the past.

This is true for the writer of this Psalm as he speaks in terms of being an eye -witness to a recent judgment of God on his adversaries or enemies in verse 11,

“My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes”.

In my introduction I discussed the possible historical event the Psalmist is referring to here and I mentioned that some scholars point to the overthrow of the Babylonians but I think this is not the case because of the obvious reference to the Temple in Jerusalem in verse 13 and this was destroyed by the Babylonians when they conquered Judah around 70 years before the fall of the Babylonians.

I prefer the time of King Jehoshaphat when God defeated a combined army of three Nations in 897BC but I can only say this is pure peculation because it is an excellent example of God fighting for his people against a mighty enemy who sought to destroy God’s people and were caused by God to be defeated when God set a trap for the three armies attacking Judah and heading for Jerusalem.

It is interesting to note that this victory took place as the army of Judah approached their enemies singing praises to their God as we read in 2 Chronicles 20: 21,

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendour of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

 “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

This fits into Psalm 92 central theme of “It is good to praise the Lord” and shows the power of praise for the great- exalted God of the bible.

So the Psalmist and of course anyone who truly praises the great God of the bible will be exalted in this life from time to time to see God’s victory over God’s enemies.

However in the final judgement of God all true believers of the God of the bible will be exalted to see God’s final victory over all evil forces as we read in Revelation 11: 15 – 18,

 “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.”16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.18 The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small—and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

  1. 12 – 15 – Flourishing and growing even in old age

 I see two aspects to this second part of this Psalm, which are:

  1. Flourishing in the Lord we praise
  2. Flourishing even in our old age as we praise God

Lets have a look at each of these:

  1. Flourishing in the Lord we praise

Some of the ideas in these last four verses are very reminiscent of Psalm 1 and this I think is not a coincidence as the writer of Psalm 92 wants to speak of the general good God wants to give those who are involved in the good praise of the Lord.

He speaks in verses 12 and 13 about how we will grow and flourish in this life using the Psalm 1 image of a tree. However he goes further than the Psalm 1 image of a tree unnamed to name two special trees in verse 12,

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon”.

 Psalm 1 verse 3 simply says,

“He (the man who walks in the counsel or word of God) is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does propers”.

 The naming of two trees in Psalm 92 has even more to say about how God blesses those who walk in his ways (follow his word) and offer him good or acceptable worship or praise.

The two trees are:

  1. The Palm Tree
  2. The Cedar of Lebanon

Lets have a quick look at what these two trees have to say about the blessing God has for those who walk in his ways (follow his word) and offer him good or acceptable worship or praise.

  1. The Palm Tree

The Palm tree Tremper Longman 111 explains,

“The Palm tree grows in the well – watered oasis and produces dates, and this is a symbol of life and fertility”.

 Fertility was an extremely important aspect of Ancient Hebrew life and the people of Israel’s great desire for it in the form of crops and human offspring led Israel into the prevalent fertility God’s of their day like Baal worship. These non bible based religions practised Tempe sex with Temple prostitutes as part of its worship and even went as far as offering up human sacrifice often of children.

However in Psalm 92 the God of the bible says that if people offer up good or acceptable praise or worship he will make them flourish like a fertile Palm tree.

Finally the symbol of the Palm tree is mentioned as part of the very inner decorations of the Temple as we see in a verse like 1 Kings 6: 29,

“On the walls all around the temple, in both the inner and outer rooms, he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers”.

Which could also explain the concept I verse 13 of this type of tree being planted in the house of the Lord or Temple,

”Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of God”.

Note how the images are not only of Psalm trees but angels (Cherubim) and open flowers again hinting that in God the man of God is heavenly blessed by God.

The New Testament has not got the image of the fertile Palm tree except when it is mentioned as the branches used in the celebration of Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem (John 12: 13). However the New Testament has many references to the incredible blessing of God on those who turn to him in Christ and I will only refer to one, 1 Peter 2: 9 – 10,

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”.

Note what this blessing of God is for in verse 9,

“That you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”.

  1. The Cedar of Lebanon

The Cedar’s of Lebanon were the largest known trees of Ancient Hebrew times and would like Palm trees represented fertility but also great power and strength. The Cedar of Lebanon are used a number of times as a image of fertility and strength and a great example of this is Hosea 14: 5 – 6,

“I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; 6 his young shoots will grow. His splendour will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon”.

Cedars of Lebanon were used as the major timber for the entire Temple complex as we read in 1 Kings 5 and in verse 6 we hear Solomon’s order for timber to be cut for the Temple,

“So give orders that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me.”

From then on the word ‘Cedar” is used to describe the main timber used in the construction of Solomon’s Temple.

This again could explain why verse 13 speaks of Palm trees and Cedars of Lebanon being planted in the house of the Lord as there is no other mention of trees being planted in the Temple. We cannot tell for sure that no trees wherever planted in the Temple because all Jerusalem temples were totally destroyed a long time ago.

The poetic image of verse 13 is that in God, represented by his Temple, a symbol of God dwelling with his people, God’s people flourish and this is seen in spiritual terms in the New Testament, like Ephesians 1: 3,

“Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ”.

 Or, Galatians 5: 22 – 26,

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other”.

So far as what verse 13 says about,

“Flourishing in the courts of our God”

We have also in Christ the promise of being in heaven called in the book of Revelation the New Jerusalem or The Heavenly Jerusalem which we see in a passage like Revelation 21: 1 – 4,

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

There of course we will be involved in good or acceptable praise of God forever as we read in another passage in Revelation, Revelation 19: 6 – 8,

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

  1. Flourishing even in our old age as we praise God

The last two verses bring this amazing Psalm to and end and as has been the case throughout the Psalm these last two verses are full of informative surprises.

The line the Psalmist takes is that those who offer the Lord good or acceptable worship will flourish in this life and this flourishing like a fertile Palm tree will bear much fruit all its long life, as we read in verse 14,

“They will bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green”.

 This verse reminds me of another earlier Psalm I believe was written by David, Psalm 71, which I wrote a very popular Psalm talk on entitled, “Faithful to God even in our Old Age”. This Psalm appears to have been written by David in his later years as he writes in verse 5,

“For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth”

 And, verse 9,

“Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone”.

 David goes on to speak of great opposition from his enemies who could have been using his age or the fact he was now very old as a weapon against his right or effectiveness to rule as king of Israel.

However David, trusting in his Lord, the God of the bible is determined to be faithful to God even in his old age as he says this in verses 14 – 16,

“As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all.16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone”.

So we can have the same resolve even if we face opposition or being treated as irrelevant because of our age and added to this resolve is God’s promise here and Psalm 92 verse 14 tells us we will bear fruit for God right into our old age.

In my Psalm 71 talk I told the true story of a women who was 75 when she came to Christ and soon after this she asked her minister if she could become a Sunday school teacher. The minister did not say no but wisely asked the women to pray and seek God’s guidance about what God wanted her to do for him.

The story goes that not long after talking with her minister she was working in her garden when a Chinese student from Taiwan walked by. He stopped to compliment the old lady on her excellent roses and she struck up a conversation with the young man and invited him in for morning tea. At morning tea she shared her testimony to the young man who became interested in her story.

The young man asked if he could come back to talk some more about the Christian faith and the bible and when he returned a few days later he brought a friend with him. The old women soon had a weekly bible study of up to 70 Chinese students and ended up bringing many of them to the Lord.

This story bears truth to what verse 14 says,

“They will bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green”.

 When I was a young believer myself I organized sunday afternoon visits to some local Nursing Homes. I led a group of around 12 or so young people who went into the nursing homes to sing, pray and encourage the old residence with God’s word.

Some residence could not come down to the common room to join others where we ran a short service of prayer, singing, bible readings and a short message. One very Godly lady we visited had been the faithful wife of a famous minster and preacher and this dear bedridden soul would not let us share in music and prayer unto we had got as many other residence as we could to join her in her room to receive the ministry we were offering.

I remember this frail and elderly lady testifying to us and other residence of the truth of the Gospel and the value of having God in our lives. That women showed me that even in our very old age we can still flourish and bear fruit for God.

The prophet Jeremiah picks up the idea of a tree bearing fruit like we read in this Psalm, Psalm 92 and in Psalm 1 with these words in Jeremiah 17: 7- 8,

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

 Note how Jeremiah speaks of the tree still bearing fruit even when the drought comes which I think is the day of trouble or difficulty which old age can be for many people. The bed ridden Christian women in the Nursing home still bore fruit for God and she continued to minister for God in her difficult life situation.

Paul says this in Philippians 1: 6,

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.

 For some of us this good work of God in us will go on for a long time, if we live to a great age but we must not give up offering God the good or acceptable praise he deserves because according to Paul he will not give up on us.

The last verse of the Psalm reminds us of the two main things this Psalm has been saying all through it:

  1. We are to praise and proclaim the Lord
  2. God is our Rock or loving protector

The last verse (verse 15) reads like this:

“Proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him”.

 Lets have a look at the two main things this Psalm has been saying which are summarized in this last verse.

  1. We are to praise and proclaim the Lord

The Psalm started with the words, “It is good to praise the Lord”

 It made it clear we should do this with music and the proclamation of God’s love and faithfulness. Now in the last verse it says that the flourishing God of the bible believing person should proclaim,

‘The Lord is upright”

 Allan Harman believes that proclaiming the Lord is upright is,

“Proclaiming the character of God”

 The Psalmist has made it clear that God’s character is love and faithfulness, verse 2, exalted, verse 8 and now “upright” which he makes clear by the final words of the Psalm,

“There is no wickedness in him”.

 God is “Holy” which means separate from sinful fallen man and as the final words say, “There is no wickedness in him” which is a phrase that expresses the meaning of righteousness.

This quality of having no wickedness in him or no sin in him or righteousness is a quality of his Son Jesus Christ and amazingly Paul says this about God 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”.

Jesus achieved this of course on the cross and through his great act of sacrifice for us Paul says this in Romans 3: 22,

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe”.

This then is the basis of all good or right praise of the God of the bible and this praise should come from us as an expression of our gratitude for what God has done for us as the Psalmist stated in verses 4 and 5,

“For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts!”

Paul shows us how to have this “good” praise for God based on what Jesus has done for us in Ephesians 1: 6 – 8,

“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”.

  1. God is our Rock or loving protector

The last verse also picks up the other key idea of this Psalm, which is the idea of God being our protector, which was also the major theme of the previous Psalm, Psalm 91. The concept of God as our protector comes in the last verse in the simple phrase,

“He (God) is my Rock”

God being our rock is a favourite expression of David in his Psalms like Psalm 28: 1,

“To you call, Lord my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me, For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit”.

Or, Psalm 61: 2b,

“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I”,

 Another song God inspired me to write based on this Psalm has the simple chorus that says,

“Lead me, Lead me

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Help me, Help me,

Help me stand the storms of life I cry”.

 Psalm 92 spoke of God’s great deeds and works in verses 4 and 5 which were not only his deeds and works in the creation of the world but also in his deeds and works in entering real time history and saving his people as he did when he saved his people out of the slavery of Egypt.

He also did a great deed or work when he entered real time human history in the form of a man in the person and work of his son Jesus Christ. We all know the well known Gospel 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”.

 Psalm 92 also speaks of God’s protection in verse 11 where we read,

“My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the roar of my wicked foes”.

 This seems to be speaking of yet another God intervention into real time human history when he fought for his people and won a great victory for them, which protected them from the enemies who sought to destroy them.

We have seen our God entered into real time human history for us in sending his son who gave his life so that we should not perish but have eternal life as John 3: 16 declares.

This again should lead us to offer good or right praise to God as without Jesus and what he has done for us we are lost and without hope.

Paul says this about why we should give praise to the Lord Jesus Christ in Ephesians 2: 4 – 7,

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus”.

Psalm 92 speaks of how in God we are like a tree that flourishes and bears fruit when we are truly in God and are offering up to him praise and worship that is good or acceptable.

I close with an original poem and a prayer:

IT IS GOOD TO PRAISE THE LORD

(Based on Psalm 92)

It is good to praise the Lord

It is good to lift up his name.

Proclaiming his amazing love

To his wondrous vast domain.

To praise him in the morning

And tell of him at night

To use our musical instruments

To declare his strength and might.

 

Refrain:

Praise the Lord

O Praise the Lord

Declare his strength and might

 

Its is good to praise the Lord

For your great deeds bring us joy

Your works made all we see

And this is ours to employ.

Your thoughts we cannot fathom

Our minds could never know

For by your word you made it all

For through your love you now show.

 

Refrain:

Praise the Lord

O Praise the Lord

Yes through your love you now show.

 

Its is good to praise the Lord

But fools they just turn away

They fail to praise the God of all

One day they’ll surely fall.

God will judge this world one day

God’s enemies will be gone

But those who praise his name

Will rise to meet his Son.

 

Refrain:

Praise the Lord

O Praise the Lord

Yes rise to meet his Son.

 

Its is good to praise the Lord

Foe we all flourish in him.

In God we’re like a glorious tree

Bearing fruit in everything.

Praise the Lord all your lives

Proclaim his righteousness

For our God is like a rock to us

He gives us true happiness.

 

Refrain:

Praise the Lord

O Praise the Lord

For he gives us true happiness.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 I praise you Lord for you deserve our praise and I will use my music and my words to praise you morning noon and night. I will sing of your wondrous love and faithfulness expressed in the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ who died for our sins on the cross. May I continue to praise you Lord all the days of my life knowing that your promise is that if we do praise you we will bear much fruit for you and know your eternal happiness. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.