PSALM 102 TALK: POUR OUT YOUR HEART TO THE LORD

PSALM 102 TALK: POUR OUT YOUR HEART TO THE LORD

 (A Psalm that explores how God wants us to come to him with all our pains and worries in prayer and tell him honestly how we feel and what we need and he not only will listen to us but he will answer us and give us his peace which passes all understanding)

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INTRODUCTION

 Recently I shared with the church bible study group I regularly attend how years ago I was so desperate for a parking spot in the local shopping centre parking area that I prayed to God for a parking spot. It was one of the weeks leading up to Christmas and I had dropped my wife off at the shopping centre door and drove looking for a parking spot. Not only was the car park full but also I was in bumper to pumper traffic circling the car park for a spot fo some time.

In desperation I prayed a quick prayer for a parking spot and went around the floor of the parking lot I was on one more time and then I saw the reversing lights of a car come on directly in from of me and to the left hand side of my car. I naturally came to a stop and let the car reverse out and I drove into my spot. I sent up to the Lord a short thank you prayer for his provision of a parking spot,

That evening after I got home I thought about the theology of praying for a parking spot. Was God who is king of heaven and earth really interested in my need of a parking spot and are there not far more important matters to bring before the Lord, after all he has to respond to millions of prayers every day. I ended up not resolving my thoughts on this at that time.

Then in that recent bible study we were discussing a well known couple of verses in Philippians, Philippians 4: 6 – 7, which says,

“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”.

The word in the text “anything” made me think of my dilemma of whether I should pray about a parking spot as that day some years ago was yet another time I had become anxious about something and yet Paul says,

“Do not be anxious about anything”

He goes on to what we should do when we become anxious about anything with these words,

“But in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.

Note how he says in every situation, pray and note what God will in us if we do bring our petitions or requests to God in prayer,

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

As I said people have had and do have far more problems and difficulties to bring to the Lord, than the need for a parking spot yet the same principle applies don’t be anxious about anything but in every situation present your request to God.

I have come across some amazing prayers in the Psalms and have been blown away by the way these great men of faith of old cried out to God in honest prayer. These men seem to just pour out their hearts to the Lord and most of these types of prayers are in Psalms called laments.

I read an excellent definition and explanation of what a Lament actually is by a man named Jason Jackson on his introduction to Psalm 102. He points out that the Hebrew heading for this Psalm actually defines a lament,

“A prayer of an afflicted man. When he is faint and pours out his lament before the Lord”.

Jackson then gives us five parts that all true laments contain:

  1. Address to God
  2. Complaint
  3. Confession of trust
  4. Petition
  5. Words of assurance and a vow to praise.

I decided to put Jackson’s theory to the test for Psalm 102 and found him to be totally correct, so much so his five- point structure of a lament became the basis for my structure of my Psalm talk for this Psalm.

This Psalm seems to have been written in Babylon where the Jews were locked up in exile and just before the return from exile came about as verse 13 reads,

“You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favour to her; the appointed time has come”.

 He goes on to speak of the ruins of Zion or Jerusalem and how God will rebuild Jerusalem soon.

The writer seems to be suffering personally from a terrible illness that has brought him close to death’s door as verse 24 reads,

“So I said: “Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations”.

However the writer seems to also speak of the affliction of the people in exile and somehow this is linked with his own personal affliction as we read in verses 16 and 17,

“For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. 17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea”.

How these two things are linked we simply do not know and I can only speculate that maybe his seemingly approaching death owing to sickness before his people’s   restoration caused him to pray earnestly for more time in this life to see God’s coming restoration of his people from the hardships of exile to life again in the Promised Land of Israel.

Based on Jason’s Jacksons structure of a lament my structure for this Psalm talk is:

  1. (1 – 2)   HIS CALL TO GOD

 

  1. vs. 1     His cry to God
  2. vs. 2     The urgent need for an answer

 

  1. (3 – 11)   HIS COMPLAINT TO GOD

 

  1. (3 – 7)  The physical pain caused his affliction
  2. (8 – 9)   The social pain caused by his enemies
  3. (10 – 11) The spiritual pain caused by God’s discipline

 

  1. (12 – 22) HIS CONFESSION OF FAITH IN GOD

 

  1. vs. 12     God enthroned in heaven
  2. (13 – 22) God will restore his people

 

  1. (23 – 26) HIS CONTINUATION OF HIS REQUEST TO GOD

 

  1. (23 – 24a)   Stop his pending death
  2. (24b – 26)   God’s immortality compared to man’s mortality

 

  1. (27 – 28)   HIS CERTAIN HOPE IN GOD

 

  1. vs. 27       Hope in the unchanging eternal God
  2. vs. 28       Hope in the promise of God’s eternal presence with his people

 

  1. (1 – 2)   HIS CALL TO GOD

 

  1. vs. 1     His cry to God

The writer of Psalm 102 starts his prayer to God as many former laments begin with a desperate cry to God,

Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you”

 This writer not only pours out his heart to God in prayer he uses all the way through his Psalm or lament wording and concepts from parts of the scriptures he was obviously very familiar with. This cry to God is reminiscent of the wording of Psalm 5 verse 2,

“Listen to my cry for help”

 And Psalm 18: 6,

“In my distress I called to the Lord, I cried to my God for help”.

 Not that he believed God does not listen to the prayers of his people as he later says in verse 17,

“He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea”.

Note how the Psalmist does not keep his pain and conflict locked up inside of him as many do which leads to many people suffering mental damage and often leads to some of them taking their very lives. What he is doing is very good therapy as bottling up pain and conflict is simply not a healthy way to deal with it.

When my wife was about to give birth to our first child she spoke of how a number of migrant women screamed very loudly as they went through the pain of child birth which most Anglo Saxon background women usually sought to avoid. Maybe our pain more openly expressed is better for us than trying to show how tough we are bearing that pain by holding it in.

The writer of Psalm 102 had no qualms in telling God loudly and honestly how much pain he was in, as we will see from the next section of this Psalm. As I said in the opening section Paul taught we should turn our anxiety or mental pain into prayer and that this is exactly what God wants us to do, Philippians 4: 6,

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

How we can cry out to God when in pain with thanksgiving is I believe by acknowledging all that God has done for us in Christ and all that God will do for us in Christ in the future when he will take us to heaven which Revelation 21: 3 – 4 speaks of,

“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.”

 With that kind of hope in mind we can present our pain and worries to God in prayer with thanksgiving.

  1. vs. 2     The urgent need for an answer

This prayerful cry to God for help in Psalm 102 continues with these words,

“Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress”.

 The writer obviously believes God listens to prayer and answers it but the expression,

“Do not hide your face from me”.

Is said because like Job, the most well known Godly sufferer when pain and strife go on for a time the thought will always be God is not seeing our pain or God has deserted us in our pain which in Old Testament terms is he has turned his face from us as Job claims in Job 13: 24,

“Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?”

This writer seems not only very familiar with Psalms written before his time but the words and ideas in the book of Job. Maybe he is a Jewish scribe taken into exile or rather born in exile and trained extensively in the scriptures of the Jews.

David Guzik writes,

“When he had the sense that God’s favor and face were evident, then affliction could be endured”.

This realization does come about as we will see unto the third section of this Psalm but for now he needs God to turn to him and give him a answer and in the second part of verse 2 he needs an answer urgently as we read him praying these words,

“Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly”.

Why did he need an urgent answer to his prayer?

This becomes clear from what he says in verse 11,

“My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass”.

 Words like this and other expressions later in the Psalm indicate that the writer believes he is very close to death and so his need for help and healing is very urgent. We will look later at why he wants an extension of life but for now he needs God to listen to his cry and turn to him in his distress to help him.

From time to time we have been asked to pray for people in our church who seem close to death and some have advocated we should pray for a miracle so that the person in question might be come out of what seems their terminal illness and be healed. Others have prayed that God comfort them as they move through the trial of death.

I have thought the best thing we can do for these people is ask that they know God’s presence and help as they face whatever God has planned for them, even a miraculous recovery, if this be his will but if not that Jesus would be with them helping them carry the burden of their illness as he promises to do in Matthew 11: 28 – 30,

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

Also I would like to point out that when Paul speaks of turning our anxieties, whatever they might be into prayers he does not go on to say God will necessarily take what caused the anxieties away from us, although that could be what will happen, no what Paul believes God will give us is expressed so beautifully in Philippians 4: 7,

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

Paul says that God promises his peace, peace I like to call, “Peace to cope” and this after all is the best thing God can give us as we face the many trials and difficulties of life even the great trial and difficulty of death which we all must face one day unless we are part of the return of Christ before death comes to us.

  1. (3 – 11)   HIS COMPLAINT TO GOD

The writer now pours out his heart to the Lord expressing the great pain he is suffering from, I think, two sources, one some kind of life threatening illness and the pain associated with being a prisoner in the Babylonian which could be just being part of exile Jews.

We will be looking at three kinds of pain in this outpouring of this writer’s heart to God,

  1. Physical pain caused by his affliction
  2. The social pain caused by his enemies
  3. The spiritual pain of God’s discipline

So lets then have a closer look at each of these:

  1. (3 – 7)   The physical pain caused by his affliction

The first pain the writer of Psalm 102 pours out to God in prayer is his crippling physical pain. Let me now try and open up each of these five verses to reveal the extent of the physical pain he was experiencing.

Verse. 3 – Pain makes him feel useless and consumes him to the core.

“For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers”.

The effects of his fever can be seen in the images of fire in idea of smoke and burning. He obviously is really hurting and he first indicates in this verse that his physical pain makes him feel useless. He seems unable to do anything in his day to day life but experience pain.

I have not had to face yet an illness or ailment that gave me continuous pain and suffering. I do remember, of course experiencing pain from time to time in my life and one time that comes to mind is when I was 15 and broke my wrist playing rugby at school. My mum was called to the school, which took her over an hour to come to the school and take me to the hospital, and then I waited over two hours in the emergency ward to be attended to. The pain seemed unbearable and I sat rocking two and throw howling in pain yet the doctors and nurses seemed to just ignore my suffering.

Pain like this writer speaks of would make him feel useless as he expresses with the phrase,

“For my days vanish like smoke”.

Note his pain was not just a couple of hours like my broken wrist experience but “for days”. It was a prolonged period of pain and he lets God through prayer just how bad this experience is. He again seems to draw his images from his bible as we read in Psalm 37: 20,

“But the wicked will perish: The Lord’s enemies will be like the beauty of the fields, they will vanish – vanish like smoke”.

If he had this verse in mind then he is also feeling that he is being treated like a enemy of God and not a faithful servant of God. This was the dilemma of Job who suffered such great pain and distress and his friends told him that this could only come from God because God was treating him as a wayward sinner.

Interestingly the next phrase in verse 3 comes straight from the book of Job, Job 4: 14,

“Fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake”

The writer of Psalm 102 puts this idea this way,

“ My bones burn like glowing anger”.

Our writer of Psalm 102 has not got shaking bones but burning bones which to me is saying that the burning pain seems to be at his core, his bones which indicates that his pain was a deep seated and all embracing pain which overwhelmed his wretched body.

I have seen friends and family suffer the pain of cancer and my father – in law some years ago had to inject himself with morphine as he suffered the crippling pain of lung and throat cancer which reduced his once robust strong body to just skin and bones. His agony was for my wife and I something that reduced us both to tears and his passing a couple weeks later ended up being a blessing as he was finally out of pain and we hoped in the arms of the Lord in heaven.

Pain and death, sadly are part of the results of sin as Paul puts it simply in Romans 6: 23,

“The wages of sin is death”

However for the Christian, who will suffer death like the non – believer but unlike the non- believer has a great hope beyond there death as Paul goes on to say in Romans 6: 23,

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

Verse 4 – Pain breaks his heart and causes him to stop eating food

The writer continues to pour out his heart to the Lord expressing his great physical pain with the words,

“My heart is blighted and withered like grass”

The heart in the Old Testament is the inner – self or seat of our being and this man is saying that he heart is blighted and the English Standard Version translate “Blighted” as “Struck down” or we could even say broken or broken down. He feels physically crushed in his heart and draws on another expression from Psalm 37, this time verse 2 which says,

“For like grass they will soon witherr, like green plants they will soon die away”.

This man like David lived in the Middle East and Tremper Longman 111 points out,

“Grass is short lived and under the hot sun of Palestine (Middle East) loses life, turns yellow and shrivels up”.

His pain simply makes him feel deeply crushed and the image of withered grass tells us he feels close to death.

Then he says in his prayer to God,

“I forget to eat food”.

This is common to people who are very sick and in a lot of pain they loose their appetite and stop eating food. I know this even from own experience and it is common for people who are seriously ill to loose massive amounts of weight from their forced physical fasting.

In verse 9 he speaks of ashes being his food and tears his drink and all this reveals how this man is in deep in pain and sorrow like the Son of Korah who wrote of this Psalm 42 when he speaks of his painful experience of depression in verse 3 of that Psalm, which reads,

“My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God’.

Again I am struck by this mans ability to pour out his heart and mind to the Lord telling him of the terrible pain he is experiencing.

Verse 5 – The pain and groaning that leads to massive weight loss

What he says in verse 5 seems a natural out come of what he has just said about not eating food as he prays,

“Because of my loud groaning I am reduced to skin and bones”.

His physical pain caused by his serious illness has caused him to stop eating and naturally he is now reduced to skin and bone, which means he has experienced massive weight loss.

As I said earlier I saw this with my very own eyes in the terminal illness of my father – in law as he quickly went from being a big and strong man in his early sixties to a tall thin and withered man of skin and bones. He was almost un – recognizable when my wife and I visited him two weeks before his death to lung and throat cancer and we spent a couple of agonizing days staying with him trying to desperately comfort him in his terrible pain.

The local Anglican minister spent some time with him praying for him before he died and he shared with him God’s Gospel message and he told my wife and I at his funeral that he believed he did turn to the Lord in those final days of his life and did receive some measure of inner peace and hope as his life sadly left him like smoke from a burning fire as the writer of Psalm 102 put it in verse 3.

Verse 6 –7- The pain of loneliness in his suffering

The writer then pours out to God his feelings of loneliness, which many say they feel when they experience great pain when they were sick, he writes,

“I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins”.

Interestingly Allan Harman points out that the owl is one of the unclean birds spoken of in Leviticus 11: 17 but the owl is probably more than likely chosen because of its solitary nature which also fits the expression,

“Like an owl among the ruins”

And the expression in verse 7,

“Like a bird alone on a roof”.

Maybe as he prayed this prayer he looked out of his window and saw an owl on a roof top next to his house and this put into his mind a picture of how he felt in his painful illness, all alone and needing the comfort of his Lord through friends and family.

In my Psalm 6 talk I speak of the story of Lea Hatcher a famous Australian TV presenter and Christian who experienced the pain and strife of the sickness called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and how he found that the best help he had during his two agonizing years of this illness was the company of Christian friends who simply sat with him offering prayer and encouragement.

The writer of Psalm 102, like Job did not receive this kind of help but we will see that like Leigh Hatcher also got from some of his visitors some harsh words and advice from non – believers and sadly sometime like Job, miss- directed advice from so called Godly people. People who told Leigh to either pull himself together and get up out of bed and back to work or worse than that advice that said if he had prayed a little harder and had a little more faith he would be healed.

Job’s friends with their miss- guided words of advice only acted as another tool of torment from his already long list of instruments of pain. Sometimes when we are really sick we want to be left alone as other people around us only make us feel the pain even more but to be left totally alone is a recipe for feeling like our writer does as he describes it in verse 7,

“I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof”.

One final word on offering supportive comfort to people we know who are suffering pain of some kind is found in the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 1: 3 – 6,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer”.

  1. (8 – 9)   The social pain caused by his enemies

In addition to his physical pain caused directly, I believe because of his illness he has the pain of torment from his enemies and being an exile in a foreign land like Babylon he would have had many. He writes in verse 8,

“All day long my enemies taunt me; those who rail against me use my name as a curse”.

Jason Jackson makes it clear what this social pain for this pious Jew in a foreign land like Babylon would have been like when he is seen to be so chronically ill, he writes,

“In a culture where ill health was regarded as divine punishment for sins, he has found himself ostracized and persecuted. Rivals seized the opportunity to taunt him and misuse his name”.

This verse reminds me greatly of Job who suffered greatly because God wanted to show Satan that his faith was genuine and yet all Job got from what was his so called friends was constant arguments that Job had sinned greatly as his sickness and misfortune was great. Jobs friend Eliphaz says this to Job in Job 22: 4 – 5,

“Is it for your piety that he rebukes you and brings charges against you?
Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless?”

The teaching and advice from Jobs friends was sound biblical teaching but when it was applied to Jobs suffering as its cause and remedy it was foolishness as Job was not suffering because of his sins and therefore Jobs friends advice was only a further instrument of pain that Job had to bear.

In our writer of Psalm 102 his painful social taunts came more likely from non – believers who took the opportunity to kick a good man when he was down and they used another social weapon against him expressed in the words of verse 9b,

Those who rail against me use my name as a curse”.

I have often wondered why non – believers choose to use the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as a curse or swear word. These are people who refuse to acknowledge his existence and dam anyone who believe in him yet his name is the one they choose to curse and swear with.

Maybe the answer can be found to this quandary of mine in the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 2: 15 and 16,

“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life”.

The next time I hear a non – believer use the name of Christ as a swear word I will ask why do you choose to use that name to curse someone or something and I might be surprised what there answer will be.

For this man his very name was used as a curse which might be because many Jews had names that included the name of their God or some aspect of their faith then the curse was a curse against the God he continued to have faith in even in the face of terrible illness.

He concludes his physical and social pain with the words of verse 9, which says,

“For I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears”

It was not uncommon for ancient Hebrews to sit in ashes or dust when they sought the Lord when being disciplined by him and a excellent example of this is Job in Job 2: 8,

“Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes”.

So as this pious Jew suffers what he calls in the next verse God’s great wrath or discipline he sits in ashes and as he does he feels the powdery ashes falling on his lips and having given up eating sees this as his only food. As he pours out his heart to the Lord with tears he sees these as part of what he is drinking. He is greatly suffering and he is telling God just what he is feeling and thinking as he suffers.

  1. (10 – 11) The spiritual pain caused by God’s discipline

Having completed pouring out his heart to God in a description of his physical and social pain he now speaks of his spiritual pain in the words of verse 10,

“Because of your great wrath for you have taken me up and thrown me aside”.

All of the Old Testament writers seemed to associate great sickness and miss- fortune as the discipline of the Lord. In David’s Psalm 6 seemingly written one day when he was very physically ill he prays to God with these words in verses 1 – 3,

“Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?”

David is seeing his sickness as the wrath of God against him in discipline and the writer of Psalm 102 views his great illness the same way. It is the book of Job that throws doubt in the Old Testament that suffering sickness and calamity of various kinds is always the result of God’s judgment against sin. Job was not suffering because of his sin but his suffering was a test of his faith.

The New Testament will give us yet another two reasons why we might suffer and they are:

  1. We might suffer to glorify God as we see in the teaching of Jesus when confronted by the questions about why we might suffer in this life in John 9. We read this in John 9: 1 – 3,

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

      3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that  

   the works of God might be displayed in this life”. 

  1. We might suffer because we are living in a fallen world as Paul speaks of in Romans 8: 18 – 21,

“ I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God”.

However the writer of Psalm 102 takes the Old Testament teaching that suffering comes as a result of the discipline or judgment of the Lord on the chin and therefore feels great spiritual pain as a result. His feeling is that God has simply thrown him away as we see in the words in verse 10 that says,

“You have taken me up and thrown me away”.

However both the Old and New Testament teaches us that for a true believer of God the Lord only disciplines those he loves as we see in the Old Testament in Proverbs 3: 11 – 12 and those words are taken up in Hebrews 12 and made even clearer that God disciplines us because he loves us and uses this discipline to actually help us, Hebrews 12: 5 – 10,

“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.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness”.

He concludes this second section which is the complaint section of his lament with verse 11, which seems to be saying his illness is leading to his certain death,

“My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass”

Albert Barnes explains the meaning and significance of the image of the “evening shadow” with these words,

“The shadow made by the gnomon on the sun – dial, which marks the hours as they pass. The idea is that the shadow made by the descending sun was about to disappear altogether. It had become less distinct and clear, and it would soon vanish”.

A more modern expression or image might be the saying, “Your time is up” and of course this image means that the writer of Psalm 102 felt he was very close to death made even clearer by the last image of withering grass,

“I wither away like grass”.

  1. (12 – 22) HIS CONFESSION OF FAITH IN GOD

 

  1. vs. 12     God enthroned in heaven

Following Jason Jackson theory of the structure of a lament we come to his third aspect of a lament which Jackson calls the confession of trust and the writer of Psalm 102 has two aspects to his confession of trust and the first is in verse 12 which declares that he sees and believes that God reigns in heaven,

“But you, O Lord sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations”.

So even though this man is experiencing great pain physically, socially and spiritually his faith in God remained strong and this is because he has a big view of God. One of my bibles college lecturers many years ago told us that if we want a bigger faith in God than we need to gain a bigger view of God. In other words the size of our faith in God is determined not by how much we might work up an emotional response to God but how big our view of God is.

The writer of Psalm 102 like those who wrote the Psalms 93 – 100 saw God as the heavenly king of everything. God sits on his throne in heaven and rules. On many occasions in Psalms 93 – 100 we read the words,

“The Lord reigns”

Psalm 97, for instance starts with the words,

“The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice”.

Why did the writer of Psalm 102 in the midst of his great pain think of God reigning in heaven?

I think he had at least two reasons to think of this:

  1. Being a post exile Jew God is now there king alone.

I have presented in all my Psalms in the fourth book of Psalms the fact that these Psalms were placed in the fourth book of Psalms after the return from exile in Babylon when the eternal kingdom promised to David’s descendants seemed lost.

This is because the line of David kings seemed over as the last direct David line of Kings died in exile. Yet the post exile Psalms or those placed in the post exile fourth book of Psalms present God in heaven as the king of Israel and the world reigning as king and suggest that one day a great descendant of David would come to establish the throne of David for all eternity.

We saw a prediction of the coming king as judge in Psalm 96: 13,

“They will sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth, He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth”.

We will see some clear ideas of the coming of a great future king in verses like 16 and 17 of this Psalm,

“For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea”.

So in the post Babylon Psalm collections both book four and five God is the king who rules from heaven or as verse 12 of this Psalm says,

“Sits enthroned forever”.

This then gave men like the writer of Psalm 102 great faith and hope as their God is the king of everything and everyone and that thought helped them face the many trials of life.

  1. The writer of Psalm 102 needs answers to his long exile in Babylon

The second reason why the writer of Psalm 102 found comfort and hope in the idea that his God reigns forever in heaven as we will now see that this man’s suffering was not just his terrible illness but also was the pain in body and soul he had from being part of a people locked up in exile in Babylon for over 70 years.

This is what he will tell us in verse 20 of this Psalm,

“To hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death”.

The writer of Psalm 102 is writing before the return from exile so he and his fellow Jews were like prisoners in another far off land when their homeland of Israel lay in ruins. Maybe this writer’s illness was a result of being literally locked up in Babylon or was a result of torture he received at the hands of his Babylonian over- Lords.

So in this context the idea that his God sat enthroned in heaven over even the powerful Babylonians who were now suppressing him and his people gave him hope and faith to endure knowing his God would release him and his people one day soon and return them to their beloved homeland.

Paul spoke of true deep happiness, which he called contentment even as he was locked up in prison. He wrote for instance about this to the Philippians in a letter written from inside a Roman prison, Philippians 4: 10 – 13,

“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.

The writer of Psalm 102 is implying something like this when as he endures great physical, social and spiritual pain that he can lift his eyes to God and say,

“But you, O Lord sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations”.

Even his generation of his people who are at present locked up in the city and land of Babylon and humanly speaking have no hope.

  1. (13 – 22) God will restore his people

So we now see even more clearly that the writer of Psalm 102 sufferings of pain was not just because of some kind of physical illness but included or was associated with the fact that he was part of a nation of people who were locked up as exiles like prisoners in the great pagan city of Babylon thousands of miles away from their beloved homeland that lay in ruins.

So his second confession of faith in verse 13 is,

“You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her: the appointed time has come”.

This writer really knew the Hebrew scriptures as we have already seen from the fact he quoted or at least alluded to ideas or wordings from the book of Psalms and Job written before his time and now he seems to be aware of a famous prophets prediction concerning the Jews exile in Babylon, which is from the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 29: 10 and 11,

“This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

 Interestingly this prophecy concerning the Jews return from exile was part of a letter written by the prophet Jeremiah to the Jewish exiles in Babylon as Jeremiah 29: 1 says,

The surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon”.

It appears this writer was part of this group of people or more likely the son of one of these people Jeremiah wrote to. I say son because the writer of Psalm 102 indicates in verse 23 his life is about to be cut short indicating he was not an old person but relatively young.

So the writer of Psalm 102 expects this return from exile to happen soon as he says in verse 13,

“For the time to her, the appointed time has come”.

This promise of a return to the Promised Land gave him great hope and faith to hold on in the midst of great suffering.

But as we will see in the next section his actual request to God in prayer is that his life not end now so maybe he wanted God to let him see that return to his peoples former homeland.

The New Testament indicates we too might have to suffer because of our faith in Christ as we wait for the Lords return or go to be with the Lord forever when we pass from this life to be with the Lord. I quoted before Paul’s word on this in Romans 8: 18 – 21 but Peter has something similar to say to what Paul taught in one of his letters, 1 Peter 4: 12 – 13,

“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”.

The New Testament also teaches that even in our suffering God is with us, helping us and as Philippians 4: 7 says, giving us his peace, which passes all understanding.

The writer of Psalm 102 in the next seven verses speaks of three things concerning this great hope.

  1. He and his people feelings for there former homeland (vs. 14)
  2. How the return from exile will be a witness of God’s power and glory to the world (vs. 15 – 16, 18 and 21 and 22)
  3. How this act of God is a direct answer to his people’s prayers (vs. 17 and vs. 19 – 20)

Lets then have a closer look at these three great things the Jews return from exile will achieve:

  1. He and his people feelings for there former homeland (vs. 14)

The first thing this writer speaks of concerning this soon to be fulfilled promise of God of the return of the Jews to Israel is in verse 14,

“For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves her to pity”.

 The old expression is, “There’s no place like home”, which of course is a key line from the movie “The Wizard of OZ” comes to mind here. When my wife and I have travelled to many places in our own beautiful country of Australia or many other fascinating places in the world we always love coming home and our home and home town where we live is the place we love to be in this life.

For the Jew like our writer of Psalm 102 even the dusty ruins of his homeland were dear to him and his fellow countrymen as that homeland was God’s special gift to his people the Jews. There in that place, even in ruins was the place God revealed himself to them and in a special way they felt close to God in it. As the writer of Psalm 48 put it in verses 1 – 3,

“Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy

mountain.Beautiful in its loftiness the joy of the whole earth, like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King.God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress”.

Of course the writer of Psalm 102 acknowledges that the city described in Psalm 48 is now only ruins and dust but he and his people still love the place because they love the God it represents. He of course knew that one day soon his people would go back there and rebuild that city as he speaks of in verse 16,

“For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory”.

Peter teaches in 1 Peter 2: 11 that as Christians we are aliens and strangers in this world,

“I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world”

For our real home is in heaven as Jesus makes it clear 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”.

So as Christians as the old song says,

“This world is not my home I am just a passing through”.

So we might love where we live on earth but our real place we should all look forward to is our home with Christ in heaven, that is the place we should all long to one day just as the writer of Psalm 102 longed to be in Zion or Jerusalem.

  1. How the return from exile will be a witness of God’s power and glory to the world (vs. 15 – 16, 18 and 21 and 22)

The writer of Psalm 102 then looks forward to what this certain return to his homeland will do to the nations around Israel and he sees that this great miraculous turn of events for the downtrodden nation of Israel will make these nations sit up and take notice that their God is great and glorious, verses 15 – 16,

“The nations will fear the name of the Lord, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory. 16 For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory”.

The writer of Psalm 102 uses the word, “Fear” meaning they will have reverence for this God who first judged his people by sending them into exile and then worked history so that they could return and rebuild the former glory of his special place on earth, Zion or Jerusalem.

I have often wondered why the Jews over many centuries have been hated so much and have concluded that it could be that non – Jewish people are jealous of the many blessings God has given his special people.

As Christians we are part of the New Israel that through what Christ has done on the cross has brought us into his kingdom as Paul teaches in Galatians 3: 26 – 29,

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

Christians like the Jews also are often persecuted because they are so blessed by God and it has been my experience that people I know who have truly come to the Lord have had their lives turned around and have become greatly blessed, even in this life and that has been a great witness to the God they now believe in.

In verse 18 he speaks of his desire for this fulfilment of God’s promise to be written down for future generations to read and know,

“Let this be written for future generations, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord”.

This is the only place in the Psalms where what the Psalmist is thinking is to be actually written down for future prosperity.

This Psalmist no doubt wrote down his Psalm which future editors after the return from exile granted his desire or wish by including his written down Lament or Psalm in the fourth book of Psalms.

The New Testament speaks of why scripture was written down in a verses like 2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17,

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.

The details of the return from exile also appear in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah which, like the writer desired have been read by future generations not yet created and will be read by generations or people not yet created after my generation has passed on as well.

In verses 21 – 22, the writer of Psalm 102 speaks more about the witness to the world that God’s return of his people to Israel from Babylon will bring to the world at large,

“So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem 22 when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord”.

This look ahead by the writer of Psalm 102 was in one sense something that happened around 500 years before the coming of Christ as the name of the Lord was again declared in Zion or Jerusalem and as I have just said we can read about this in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Even a gathering of people from kingdoms of the world gathered to worship the Lord as Jews who were scattered all over the world were able to return to Israel to worship the Lord.

However these two verses could also be seen as a prophecy for the distant future that through the work of Christ in bringing salvation to the world and when he returns in his glory to judge the world and take all who truly believe in him to glory in the new heavenly Jerusalem then these words will be totally fulfilled as we see in Revelations 7: 9 – 12,

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

 “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:

 “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength

be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”

  1. How this act of God is a direct answer to his people’s prayers (vs. 17 and vs. 19 – 20)

The writer of Psalm 102 then acknowledges the role that the prayers of his people played in the return from exile in Babylon and writes in verse 17,

“He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea”.

 Then in verses 19 – 20 he speaks of God answering his people’s desperate prayers for God’s help to escape the long exile in Babylon,

“The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death”.

 Interestingly the writer of Psalm 102 speaks of the people as prisoners and those condemned to death maybe that is his plight or are an image of how he saw what exile in Babylon was actually like.

So as the people suffered in exile like they suffered in slavery in Egypt they cried out to God in prayer and God said this to Moses at the burning bush, Exodus 3: 7 – 8,

“The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites”.

Now God sees from heaven the plight of his people and their groans or cries to him for help and he enters yet again into human history to save them and deliver them back to that same land he gave the people of Israel in Moses time.

These verses are telling us that our prayers to God do not go unnoticed and in fact in the New Testament we have many promises that God not only hears our prayers but answers them as well, like Matthew 7: 7 – 11,

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

  1. (23 – 26) HIS CONTINUATION OF HIS REQUEST TO GOD

 

  1. (23 – 24)   Stop his pending death

Jason Jackson says that all laments contain a petition or a specific request from God and verses 23 – 24 I think is the writer of Psalms 102 actual prayer request.

So buoyed by his acknowledgement of how God listens to our prayers and answers them the writer of Psalm 102 now makes his request to God and he prays, in verses 23 – 24,

“In the course of my life he broke my strength; he cut short my days. So I said; ‘Do not take me away, O my God, in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations”.

What is our writer of Psalm 102 actually asking God to do for him?

I believe he is saying in verse 23 that he believes he is dying and is very close to death which is what the words in verse 23 is saying,

“In the course of my life he broke my strength; he cut short my days”

The idea of cutting short his days means he is not an old man and the breaking of his strength seems to be saying his illness has weekend him so much he is close to death. So he asks God to not take his life away from him in verse 24a,

“So I said; ‘Do not take me away”.

David Guzik writes,

“Overwhelmed by both his sense of great weakness in affliction, and by the sense of God’s greatness and ultimate victory, the Psalmist did the right thing, He cried out in prayer, pleading for God’s merciful help”.

Why I think he wants an extension of his life seems to be connected to what he has just opened up namely the return of his people the Jews from exile to their beloved homeland. It seems to me he feels he will not personally see the Promised Land himself something Moses had to bear as well. Moses was stopped by God by his death from entering the Promised Land and only saw it from high up on a mountain overlooking the Promised Land.

Moses viewed the Promised Land from that mountain and there God promises to take Moses to be with him and his people in Heaven, Deuteronomy 32: 50,

“There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people”.

We all have a date set by God for us to depart from this life and as the saying goes,

“When your times up there is nothing you can do about it”

We, who have faith in God through Christ however have much hope given to us in the face of our certain deaths and I cannot go past Jesus amazing words in John 11: 25 – 26 as an expression of this hope,

“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?”

Death for the believer is but a doorway into a better existence and this is what Jesus is speaking of in Revelation 3: 20,

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me”.

Some say this verse relates more in its context to the door of the church where Jesus is knocking to come in but the next verse makes it clear he is speaking about coming into his presence and particularly after death, verse 21,

“To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne”

  1. (24b – 26)   God’s immortality compared to man’s mortality

We do not know if God answered the prayer of the writer of Psalm 102 for an extension of his life but he continues to show us his great faith in God. Thinking of how short his life is as he faces certain death he speaks of the immortality of God, that God’s days go on and on, 24b.

“Your years go on through all generations”.

Albert Barnes explains the significance of this statement in the context of his request for an extension of his life with these words,

“The psalmist appeals to what God himself enjoyed – as a reason why life – so great a blessing – should be granted to him a little longer”.

It is as though he is saying you are eternal God so could you give me out of your abundance of days just a few more. So as he saw the coming blessing of God in the return to his beloved homeland of Israel and its city of God, Jerusalem, he asks God to spare his life so he could see it himself.

This leads the Psalmist to then reflect on the immortality of God in contrast to the mortality of man and all creation. He goes back to the beginning of creation in his thoughts on this as says in verse 25,

“In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands”.

This man who seems to know the Hebrew scripture’s so well combines two great verses concerning the creation.

The first is very first verse of the bible, Genesis 1: 1,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”

The second is one of David’s creation Psalms, Psalm 8: 3,

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers”

Its not stated but certainly implied even before there was a creation God existed and this is where John starts his account of creation in John 1: 1 and 2, speaking of God and his word which John 1: 14 says is Jesus become flesh,

“In the beginning was he Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, He was with God in the beginning”.

The Jehovah witness bible miss- translates the term was God to was a God to try and destroy the divinity of Christ but Jesus is God and is eternal as Revelation 1: 8 makes clear,

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

The Lord God here is certainly Jesus himself as John has been just speaking of him in verse 7, where he writes,

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

So God is eternal and has endless days but our writer contrasts this with what we are like and the rest of creation is like in verse 26,

“They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded”.

Creation and of course our lives which are part of that are just like clothing our writer of Psalm 102 says, they wear out and we get new ones, they come and go and when they go we throw them away.

I personally have great difficulty throwing out old and comfortable clothes but my wife is ruthless and she makes me go through my old clothes and bundle them up.

We usually pass them on the local Salvation Army second hand shop but I guess most of my old clothes are so warn out they are sent on to become industrial rags.

Life for us as mortal human beings comes and goes and our writer of Psalm 102 is acknowledging this in his request for an extension of his days in this fleeting life.

The writer to the Hebrews quotes verses 25 – 27 in his opening chapter verses 10 – 12 in speaking about the superiority of Jesus over everything including the Angels in heaven so we have another scripture that points to the divinity of Christ. David Guzik raps up the main thought of this section with these words,

“Amidst the changes and chances of this mortal life, one topic of consolation will ever remain, namely, the eternity and immutability of God our Savior, of him who was, and is, and is to come.”

  1. (27 – 28)   HIS CERTAIN HOPE IN GOD

 

  1. vs. 27       Hope in the unchanging eternal God

We come then to the fifth aspect of Jason Jackson’s theory of the structure of an Old Testament Lament, which he calls “Words of assurance, and a vow to praise”. The last two verses certainly fit the description of words of assurance and so far as words of praise in this lament they are certainly implied in the last verse but not clearly stated like many other examples of Laments in the book of Psalms.

Our writer of Psalm 102 raps up his thoughts on God’s eternal nature with his second final thought and hope with verse 27, which says,

“But you remain the same, and your years will never end”.

 This verse is an echo of what our writer has already said about God in verse 12,

But you, O Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations”.

 Psalm 48: 14, speaks of God as the eternal God who promises to guide us even up to our deaths or as the verse says “the end”.

“For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end”.

 The Old Testament believers like our writer of Psalm 102 had a less clear understanding of life after death than we have but they still did believe they were going to be with God and his people when they died. As Moses was told at the end of his life that when he dies somehow he would go to be, “gathered to your people”, as we read in Deuteronomy 32: 50,

“There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people”.

The Jewish concept of being in the bosom of Abraham (Abrahams side in Luke 16: 22) comes from the idea that if Abraham was close to God now then to be close to Abraham when we die is to be close to God as well.

However the New Testament and the teaching of Jesus makes life after death much more clearer and Jesus even teaches his disciples that he was going back to heaven after his death and resurrection to prepare a place or a home for us when we die, John 14: 1 – 4.

So the writer of Psalm 102 had a sure and certain faith in his eternal God who will never end and therefore will always be there for him. Paul had the same confidence in Christ and his love for us, Romans 8: 38 – 39,

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

  1. vs. 28       Hope in the promise of God’s eternal presence with his people

The final verse and thought of the Psalm fleshes out what I believe the writer of this Psalm was starting to say in the previous verse. This ending to the Psalm is typical of all Lament Psalms. The lament Psalms start on a low and negative note but finish on a high and positive note often in praise of the God they are praying to.

The writer of Psalm 102 finishes his Lament with the positive words of assurance that say,

“The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you”.

 The idea here of living in God’s presence probably has the thought of God’s people living back in Zion, Jerusalem where God had promised to dwell forever with his people, as expressed in many Psalms like Psalm 68: 16,

“Why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain, at the mountain where God chooses to reign, where the Lord himself will dwell forever?”

Zion or Jerusalem is where, in the Old Testament God’s presence is specially found but we know that Jews like David and other Psalm writers like son’s of Korah believed that Zion was only a physical reminder of the truth that God promises to dwell with his people any where they might be found.

David had a special realization of this in Psalm 61 where he seems to be out in the desert areas of Israel, probably on the run from his son Absalom as he writes, Psalm 61: 1 – 3,

“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe”.

So the writer of Psalm 102 looks ahead beyond his death and sees hope by faith as he has the vision of his children and the generations to come always being in the presence of God and therefore he to one way or another will always be in God’s presence.

We have according to Peter in 1 Peter 1: 3 – 5, a living hope of eternal life with God through the mercy of God offered to us through Christ through his death and resurrection,

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

CONCLUSION

I started this Psalm talk with the dilemma I had about whether asking God in prayer for a parking spot was right or wrong and I concluded that based on Philippians 4: 6 that God wants us to turn any of our anxieties into prayers and he might not take away that which causes us to be anxious but he will according to verse 7 give us his peace in the midst of our troubles.

I then pointed out that the writer of Psalm 102 wrote a lament, which followed a structure of going from addressing God to a complaint and then a confession of trust, a request and then a final word of assurance and praise as pointed out by Jason Jackson.

The writer of Psalm 102 had far worse problems to deal with than not being able to find a parking spot in a busy shopping centre car park as he suffered a painful life threatening illness and was caught up in a cruel captivity with his people in Babylon.

We read of how he poured out his heart to God telling him how he was suffering and asking him eventually for an extension of his life as he was close to death.

We then saw the faith and hope of this writer as he took hold of the promises of God, particularly the promise to bring his people, the Jews, back to his Promised Land, Israel and its eternal city of Jerusalem.

He finally came to a renewed understanding of the eternal nature of God who he trusted and believed in to lead him and future generations into God’s prescience forever.

We finally learnt that this points us to our great hope in Christ, which through his death, and resurrection we have a way into God’s presence, which he gives us out of his great mercy and love.

We can learn then that we should never be afraid to come to God in prayer and if we do we will as Philippians 4: 7 find,

“The peace of God, which transcends all understanding” Which will, Guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

 I close as usual with and original poem based on this Psalm and a prayer:

LISTEN TO ME O LORD (Based on Psalm 102)

 

Listen to me O Lord

Listen to my cry

Do not hide your face O Lord

Answer quickly for I soon will die.

 

Listen to me O Lord

For I’m in so much pain

My fever burns me up

And is causing my life to drain.

 

Chorus:

 

I know you are the king of Heaven

I know you are the God of love

You sent Jesus so we could be forgiven

One day with him I will rise above.

 

Listen to me O Lord

I’m a ghost of my former self

My illness has killed my apatite

I feel like a bird on a shelf.

Listen to me O Lord

My enemies are kicking me while I’m down.

They have made my name a curse

And I’m wallowing in the dust of the ground.

 

Chorus:

 

I know your word does promise

That you will give me your peace

So ask you Lord give me solace

So I might find your sweet release.

 

Listen to me O Lord

For I am a prisoner of my pain

I long to be free to join again

The people who honour your name.

 

Listen to me O Lord

May I live just a little more

So I can proclaim your message Lord

To all people to answer your call.

 

Chorus:

 

I know you are the eternal God

Who reigns forever above

But my life is like the grass that dies

Give me life O great God of love.

Yes give me life O great God of love.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 Lord I know you are a God of love so I bring to you my problems and difficulties and ask you to help me deal with these. I claim your promise that Paul gave us in Philippians 4 that we should not become anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving we should present it to you and if we do you will give us your peace, which transcends all understanding. So I earnestly ask for your peace in the midst of my problems in the Name of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savoir Amen.

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PSALM 101 TALK: A RESOLUTION FOR LIVING IN GOD’S KINGDOM

PSALM 101 TALK: A RESOLUTION FOR LIVING IN GOD’S KINGDOM

 (A Psalm that explores how God wants us to live as part of his great kingdom established by the Lord Jesus Christ our King and savior. How we are to shun all evil and battle against the spiritual influence of godless forces in our daily lives.)

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

INTRODUCTION

 Many people on the 31st of December each year sit down and make resolutions for the coming year, which they will put into practice once the old year has finished at 12 o’clock or midnight that year. Resolutions like going on a diet or giving up smoking or even trying to be a better ourselves. We call this New Years resolutions.

Another form of resolutions is what is called “Vision Statements” and recently the church I currently attend spent a number of months reviewing its “Vision Statement” and then fleshed out ways the new revised vision statement would be played out in the life of our church in the days ahead.

I have not made many New Years resolutions in my life so far but I have often tried to work out goals for my life, which have usually ended up forming a kind of set of resolutions for my life ahead. I particularly did this at the start of my jobs as a Youth Minister years ago. I can even remember one ministry I was involved in which started with me setting down on paper my vision and resolutions for my ministry ahead for the members of my ministry committee which had employed me for the work I was about to start for the Lord.

What should be our resolutions for living the Christian life or living in the Kingdom of God?

Psalm 101 has been called “Pious Resolutions” (Spurgeon) and I would add to this title, “Pious Resolutions of the King and his Kingdom” and the king would probably have been David as the Hebrew heading for this Psalm indicates this was a Psalm written by David.

David probably wrote this Psalm early in his reign and probably in the years between being crowned king of Judah and seven years later crowned king of all of Israel. David then had conquered, with God’s help the city of Jerusalem and made it the Capitol of Israel and sought to turn it into the city of the Lord as it is described in this Psalm verse 8 and Psalms like Psalm 48.

David had live through what became the evil reign of King Saul and had suffered at the hands of wicked Godless men like King Saul who sought to destroy him out of pride and jealousy. So David sets down in Psalm 101 his resolutions for his reign as God’s king of God’s Kingdom Israel.

The other interesting piece of background information is the fact that this Psalm came to be in the book of Psalms during the post Babylonian exile period when the fourth book of Psalms we believe was put together. This raises two intriguing questions for me:

  1. Why did it take nearly 500 years for this Psalm to be placed in the book of Psalms?
  2. What would this Psalm have said to the people of the post exile period?

I will try and answer these two questions to the best of my knowledge of the origins of the Psalms.

First of all even though most of David’s Psalms were published in the first two books of Psalms all of the three other books of Psalms contain Psalms attributed to David’s authorship, book three has only one, Psalm 86, book four has two, Psalm 101 and 103 (and also a edited David Psalm in Psalm 96) and 13 in book 5 (109, 110, 122, 124, 131, 133, 138, 139, 140, 142, 143, 144, and 145).

It seems the editors of all the books of Psalms were keen to find Psalms written by David and all different books editors managed to unearth David Psalms. Some modern bible scholars argue that many and even non of the Psalms attributed to David were written by him but evidence like the dead sea scrolls have given us historical evidence that the Hebrew headings are ancient and could be as old as the original Psalms themselves.

The second question of what this nearly discovered Psalm of David at the time of the return from exile would have meant to people of that day is the question I find far more interesting. The fact that David’s house or kingdom (vs. 2) was no more would have made what this Psalm meant to the people after the exile very different. They had just read through a number of Psalms (Psalms 93 – 100) when God is presented as the eternal great king of Israel and the world and therefore his kingdom is his people living his way. This means the resolution of David for his reign is God’s rule for life for all members of his kingdom on earth.

The other post exile problem was the contamination of false non bible believing ideas about God and his word compromising the Jews returning form exile mainly through inter- marriage with non God of the bible believers which Ezra speaks of in chapters 9 and 10 and also non – Jewish believers opposed the building of the Temple in Jerusalem and so what David has to say in Psalm 101 about association with Godless men and seeking to align with faithful people in the land (vs.6) would have been both a challenging and helpful teaching for the people of Israel and Jerusalem after the return from exile in Babylon.

Christians today face the same challenge of how to live in this world but yet not part of it as Jesus teaches in John 17: 14 – 18. Teaching on this important issue and other related issues will appear in this Psalm talk.

Finally I discovered in my research on this Psalm a very helpful paraphrase of this Psalm in the modern bible translation called “ Message Compact Bible” also known as MSG, which was put together by Eugene H. Peterson and only completed in 2004. I found this modern paraphrase of the Psalm very helpful and will quote from it throughout my Psalm talk.

So what should be in our resolution or vision and goals for living in God’s Kingdom today ?

With the message of A Godly Resolution for living in God’s Kingdom in mind my outline for this Psalm is:

  1. (1 – 2b)   THE RESOLUTION STATED

 

  1. (vs. 1) Sing of God’s love and justice
  2. (vs. 2a) Live a blameless life

 

  1. (2b – 5)   THE RESOLUTION AND EVIL INFLUENCES

 

  1. (2b – 3a) Heart and eyes set on God’s ways
  2. (3b – 5)   Evil people and their evil ways to be shunned

 

  1. (6 – 7)   THE RESOLUTION AND GODLY INFLUENCES

 

  1. (vs. 6)   Faithful people my companions
  2. (vs. 7)   Evil people shut out

 

  1. (Vs. 8)   THE RESOLUTION STATED AGAIN

 

  1. (vs. 8a) Every day fight against evil
  2. (vs. 8b) Live as if we are in God’s kingdom now

 

  1. (1 – 2b)   THE RESOLUTION STATED

 

  1. (vs. 1) Sing of God’s love and justice

 As I said in my introduction the church I currently attend has spent a lot of time, prayer and thought on developing its vision statement and the goals that come from it. Vision statements are supposed to be both short and yet expressing what your church or organization is all about. Verse 1 of Psalm 101 is a kind of vision statement of King David and his new kingdom and it simply reads,

“I will sing of your love and justice”

 David was described in 2 Samuel 23: 1b,

“Israel’s singer of songs”

 So David lived and breathed music and his music and life would be always on the theme of God’s love and justice. Eugene Petersons paraphrase of this vision and resolution statement is,

“My theme song is God’s love and justice, and I’m singing it right to you, God’.

 David is stating then that what he is all about, what he will be known for and what his new reign will be characterized by is the love and justice of his God, the God of the bible. Psalm 89 verse 14 speaks of these two qualities of God namely his love and justice as the foundation of his throne in heaven,

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you”.

 David spoke often, in his songs, the Psalms about God’s love and justice in Psalm 57 David makes these twin characteristics of God the main theme of his song or Psalm and in verse 3, we read,

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

 In Psalm 9 verse 16, David sings,

“The Lord is known by his justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work if their hands”.

 It is very significant that David is resolving at the start of his reign to characterize his reign and his kingdom on the theme of justice and love. This should have been good news to the ears of his subjects who are hearing their king declaring in song that he would be both a loving and just king.

A just king meant that his ruling would be firm but fair and a loving or merciful king would mean his justice would be tempered by mercy giving hope to sinners who sought repentance and forgiveness for their crimes.

This justice and love does not come from the human heart as it is totally effected by sin but it comes from the very heart of God and as the bible indicates David was a man after the heart of God himself, 1 Samuel 13: 14 and Acts 13: 22.

David then declares in the first part of his resolution or vision statement that Justice and Love would characterize his reign. This points to a far greater reign and kingdom

namely the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s great eternal king and his Kingdom, the kingdom of God. Jesus himself was motivated and driven by his fathers justice and love and we see this in statements of Jesus like Luke 6: 37,

“Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven”.

 Jesus makes it clear right from the start of his ministry on earth that he came to call sinners to repentance as the Kingdom of Heaven, God’s Kingdom was at hand, Mark 1: 15,

“The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

 The good news was of course that we can escape the judgment of God of our sins through the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s perfect sinless son who died for our sins on the cross.

The cross of Christ is where we see both God’s great justice and love together as he is just in Jesus death for sin and loving in being willing to give his life to save us from that sin. Paul puts it this way 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”.

 Not that we clean our lives up so that we can be accepted by God as Paul makes that clear with this statement in Romans 5: 8,

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

   So the resolve of David at the start of his reign of his new kingdom was to,

“Sing of your love and justice”

 Which he makes clear to God and his fellow singers with the words,

“To you, O Lord, I will sing praise”

 David lifted his voice in song often in praise of his just and saving God who had brought him from the sheep fields of Bethlehem through the trials of being pursued by a mad and jealous king Saul to the city of Jerusalem now to be the king of God’s chosen people Israel.

David knew first hand how great is the justice and love of his God and now he wants that to be the theme or resolve of his reign to come.

Likewise we have seen that Jesus died for us on the cross so we could have the gift of God’s righteousness and by faith we grasp this gift and by faith we should seek to now live out a righteous life as Paul boldly declares in Romans 1: 17,

“For 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”.

 Our resolve then, as members of God’s Kingdom through faith should be like David to live out in all our lives God’s Justice and love.

  1. (vs. 2a) Live a blameless life

The second part of David’s stated resolution for his reign as King and for the Kingdom he will reign over is stated like this in verse 2a,

“I will be careful to lead a blameless life”

 This second part of David’s resolution flows out of the first part and we have just seen how God’s act of loving justice for us, the cross of Christ should and will lead us to seek to live a righteous life. So David knew that the God of the bible’s justice and love for him and his nation should lead him and his nation to seek to live a righteous or as he puts it in Psalm 101 verse 2 a blameless life.

David is not saying he is and will be blameless as has just spoken of the love or mercy of God that has already forgiven him many sins and will forgive him far greater sins in the future.

When David often speaks of himself and all faithful people of Israel as “the Righteous” he is not saying they have righteousness like God but that they are people who seek to live as God wants them to live which is a life that seeks to be blameless and living according to God’s stated laws for life.

David Guzik explains well the meaning of this resolution in the context of David starting his reign as God’s anointed king with these words,

“As David came into a position of greater power (crowned as king of all of Israel) it was all the more important that he focus more on personal godliness and behave wisely in a perfect way. Power often expresses the flaws of character, if it does not actually help create them”.

 Eugene H. Peterson’s paraphrase of this resolution is,

“I’m finding my way down the road of right living”.

 The fact that David made it clear and even proclaimed particularly in song that he was a king who sought to live a blameless life was eventually used by his enemies.

His enemies in many Psalms are spoken of as saying things like Psalm 38: 19 – 20,

“Many have become my enemies without cause those who hate me without reason are numerous.20 Those who repay my good with evil lodge accusations against me,

  “Though I seek only to do what is good”.

In the later reign of David he had to deal with the rebellion of his son Absalom who nearly brings David’s life to an end. Absalom his oldest son became his number one enemy and critic. As David flees Jerusalem for his life a man named Shimei who came from the same family clan as Saul meets David on the road he was fleeing on and says this to David in 2 Samuel 16: 7 – 8,

“As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you murderer, you scoundrel!

8 The LORD has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The LORD has given the kingdom into the hands of your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a murderer!”

 This was yet another false accusations by a enemy of David and it is an attack that again seeks to bring down David’s resolution to live a blameless life or to live a life that God wants us to live. There is no real basis for Shimei’s claim, as David never sought to kill Saul when Saul was king and was David’s enemy. David in fact once he became king sought to honour and bless the direct descendants left of Saul and his son Jonathon who was his crippled son of Jonathon named Mephibosheth.

David made this resolution to seek to live a blameless life at the start of his reign but throughout his reign he does fail to live up to this resolution and even falls to the great sins of adultery and murder but he always comes back to his great God of mercy and love in true repentance and faith and this is a great encouragement to us to do the same.

The devil will always get in our ear when we fail God and sin seeking for us to abandon our resolution to live a righteous or blameless life but we must follow the example of great men of faith like David and put into practice the words of men like the Apostle John who wrote in 1 John 1: 8 – 10,

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

9 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”.

 Then David inserts in verse 2 some very strange words in form of a question:

“When will you come to me?”

 Eugene H. Peterson, paraphrases this,

“But how long before you show up?

 David seems to be asking for special divine help here to help him fulfil the resolution of living for the love and justice of his God in a blameless life.

In the Old Testament the close presence of God was not a promise given as clearly as it is for us through the promise of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus spoke extensively about in the later chapters of Johns gospel like John 14: 15 – 21,

“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. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Note how Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to those who love him and who seek to keep his commands, which of course involve seeking to live a blameless life.

In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit comes and goes on people as we saw in the case of King Saul who had the Holy Spirit come on him to help make him king and then leave him when he rebelled against God. We see the demise of Saul and how the Lord left him in 1 Samuel 15.

Now David seeks the favor and special presence of God at the start of his reign especially for God to help him keep his special resolution to sing and live for the justice and love of God and live as King in a blameless life. So David with this in mind asks,

“When will you come to me?”

Davd Guzik writes,

“David longed for a more special and effectual visitation from the Lord before he began his reign”.

We have of course the promise of a permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives who, once Jesus died for our sins on the cross, rose from the dead and ascended back to his farther in heaven was sent to all believers from the day of Pentecost onwards to all true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a teaching the Apostle Paul spoke much about like Romans 8: 9 – 11,

“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you”.

It is only through the power and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, that special presence of God, David asked for in Psalm 101 verse 2 that enables us to live a blameless or holy life as Paul is speaking about in Romans 8. He makes this even clearer in a passage like Galatians 5: 16 – 18,

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

Not that we wont sin anymore, as John made it clear in 1 John 1: 9 -11 but rather as Paul goes on to say to the Galatians in Galatians 5: 19 – 26, through the Holy Spirit working in the true believer we will show evidence of the fruit or effect of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

“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”.

  1. (2b – 5)   THE RESOLUTION AND EVIL INFLUENCES

 Once David stated clearly his resolution for his reign as king in the opening words of this Psalm he then turns his attention to the things or factor he knows he will have to deal with that will seek to stop him fulfilling his great resolution.

  1. (2b – 3a) Heart and eyes set on God’s ways

 The first thing or factor that will hinder his ability to carry out his resolution is his own sinful heart and mind so he states in verses 2b and 3a how he will combat this first evil influence, he writes or sings,

“I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing”.

 David knew where sinful evil came from, it was his heart influenced by what he saw through his eyes that caused him to sin. So David resolves to “walk” in his house with:

  1. Blameless heart
  2. Eyes that see no vile thing

First of all before we look at those two resolves I would like to explain what I think David is calling “My house”.

 This probably is a term that has two applications both I think David would have had in mind.

The first is literally his own home or for him palace and family, David Guzik says,

“No man is able to make the city in which he dwells anything like the city of God who does not know how to behave in his own home”.

 So we must get our own home in order before you try to help get someone else’s, as the old saying goes. This saying has been applied to people who criticize another persons actions and is similar to Jesus advice in Matthew 7: 3 – 5,

“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”.

So often in life people are critical of how other people and even families live but there own lives and homes have their own sins and difficulties and they too need to seek God’s forgiveness and help to change.

All we can do is make sure our own lives and homes are in order before we fall to criticizing other peoples lives and homes. We should always seek to follow the advice of Paul in Romans 12: 3,

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”.

So David is saying first of all in the words of his resolution that he resolves to,

“Walk in his own house with a blameless heart”

Secondly “house” here could mean “Kingdom” or “Dynasty” as we see from 2 Samuel 7: 11b,

“The Lord declares to you (David) that the Lord himself will establish a house for you”

And verse 16,

“Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever”.

So God calls David’s Kingdom a house so maybe David is saying in verse 2b.

“I will walk in my house (or my kingdom) with a blameless heart”.

David is setting down not only what his reign should feature but all the kings to come from him should feature, a high moral standard as God himself laid down long before in the time of Moses for future kings of his people as we see in Deuteronomy 17: 18 – 20,

“When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel”.

So David’s resolution for himself as king and his kingdom or house is only following what God’s law laid down in one of the books of the law, which God gave the people through Moses.

Now we will look at those two key personal influences that could stop David as king living a blameless life, which is his resolution as the new King of the Nation of Israel.

  1. Blameless heart

David knew that from a personal level the biggest negative influence for him living a blameless life was his own heart. The bible has much to say about the human heart or the core of our being.

Proverbs 4: 23, says,

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”.

This is what Jesus said about where our sin comes from, Matthew 15: 19 – 20,

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

This is why Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 17: 9,

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

David knew that God’s law and therefore God demanded his people live a blameless life and as the king his resolve from his heart where both good and bad originates he resolved to walk in God’s ways all the rest of his days.

This resolution came, we think at the start of his long reign but a day is coming in a few years on from this when David would reveal what Jeremiah says about the human heart, that it is deceitful and beyond cure when David would commit the twin great sins of adultery and murder when he sleeps with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba and then seeks to cover it up by arranging Uriah’s murder in battle. It has been said he broke two other commandments in this act, namely coveting his neighbours wife and acting deceitful which is giving false witness.

Once Nathan the prophet reveals to David how God knows about David’s sins and is angry with David passing judgment on him David turns to God in repentance and faith and asks God for forgiveness. Psalm 51 is said to be David’s confession prayer for his sins associated with Bathsheba and in verse 10 of that Psalm we read,

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”.

David recognizes in these words yet again the importance of his heart and that his sinful heart has influenced him to sin so greatly so he asks for a new heart so that he can live the way he knows God wants him to live.

It is only after Jesus dies for our sins on the cross, rises from the dead and ascends into heaven that he gives to those who truly trust and obey him his Holy Spirit to create in us a new heart as Paul teaches concerning how God through Christ makes us a new creation, 2 Corinthians 5: 17,

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

Not that we still have to battle with sin and fail from time to time but then because of what Jesus did for us on the cross we have that promise of forgiveness and cleansing that we read earlier in 1 John 1: 8 – 10,

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

9 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”.

  1. Eyes that see no vile thing

So David’s first personal evil influence that could stop him and his kingdom living a blameless life is his heart which have seen is sinful and prone to evil. Now he speaks of the second personal influence that could stop him and his kingdom from living a blameless life at that is in the expression at the start of verse 3,

“I will set before my eyes no vile thing”.

 The eyes have been described as our window to the world and David knew what those windows viewed helped shape what the mind and of course the heart dwelt upon. The writer of Ecclesiastes probably David’s son Solomon said this about the role of his eyes or what he saw influencing him in Ecclesiastes 2: 10,

I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure .My heart took delight in all my labor and this was the reward for all my toil”.

Denying himself nothing his eyes desired quickly corrupted Solomon and the second half of his reign in Israel seems to be a moral disaster as Solomon and his kingdom slid rapidly into evil Godless ways.

The prophet Jeremiah years later seeing the continuing moral declines of Israel and its kings says this about the people of Israel of his time in Jeremiah 22: 17,

“But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.”

Note how Jeremiah pinpoints the role of the eyes that help direct the heart to immoral living. In the New Testament the Apostle John speaks about the role of the eyes in falling to sinful ways in 1 John 2: 16,

“For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world”.

David then resolved to purposely not allow things that would lead his heart to sin to be blocked from his view. Sadly, again in the Bathsheba affair David did not put into practice these words of his resolution as we read 2 Samuel 11: 2 – 3,

“One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”

Note how verse 2 says, “David saw a women bathing”, this was not a casual glance but a long hard look and through the eyes of David his mind lusted after her and in his heart he chose to look away from God and his stated word in seventh commandment,

“You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20: 14)

David first committed adultery in his mind and heart and then getting a servant to fetch Bathsheba he committed adultery in deed. This is how we all fall to various sins.

With our eyes we see something and the thoughts that develop from what we see lead our hearts to look away from God and his word and in our hearts and minds we commit the sin, whatever it is which often leads to us then committing the sin in deed.

I was shocked to hear from a bishop one evening that he wanted the church regional committee I was a member of to pray for two of the ministers in our area who were not named and who had told the bishop they were both struggling with pornography through their computers. I make a real effort not to view any form of pornography on my computer even when I accidently come across it. I work on the same principle for what I watch on TV or at the movies. If the TV program I am watching starts to portray any senseless violence or pornography I immediately switch it off or change channels.

I know that if my eyes see something that can corrupt my mind and heart I am in danger of committing in at least my heart and mind evil sinful acts and that is just what the devil wants me to see or think when he is tempting me to sin.

I try and put into practice the words of Paul in Philippians 4: 8 – 9,

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you”.

This my tip for you, if your eyes happen catch something that sets off in your mind something you know will lead to sin purposely think about something good or wholesome to stop dead the tracks the deadly cycle of sin in your heart and mind. One of the best right, pure and lovely things God has given us is the very word of God and sometimes to pick up your bible and read a passage from it is the best remedy to canter the corrup thing your eyes happened to see.

Jesus used this tactic when combating the devils temptation in the wilderness, he used the word of God to counter the devil even when he saw himself standing on the highest point of the Temple and was quoted a passage from the bible incorrectly Jesus responds with God’s word.

Eugene H. Peterson paraphrases this part of the Psalm this way,

“I refuse to take a second look at corrupting people and degrading things”.

  1. (3b – 5)   Evil people and there evil ways to be shunned

 Now that David has dealt with evil influences in himself he turns to speak about evil influences outside of himself, those that come from people around him who have turned from following God and his word.

The words of verses 3b – 5 relate particularly to how David will act as king towards those who practice Godless ways and lives.

I have broken David’s description of these outside of himself evil influences who will stop him from living a blameless life into five types of godless activities:

  1. Faithlessness (3b)
  2. Perverse heart (4)
  3. Slanderer (5a)
  4. Haughty and Proud hearts (5b)

Lets have a look at each of these a little closer:

  1. Faithlessness (3b)

In the second part of verse 3 David says this about the people he will avoid to have intimate relationship with,

“The deeds of faithless I hate; they will not cling to me”.

 Eugene H. Peterson paraphrases it this way,

“The crooked in heart keep their distance”.

 Some translations translate the word faithless to those who fall away. In David’s time this would ne men and women who turn from the God of the bible to false views of God like the Canaanite worship of Baal. Baal worship was a constant threat to the Israelites as it was so attractive, humanly speaking with its emphasis on fertility both with crops and human reproduction. Baal even used sexual practices in its worship of their false God.

David is saying that people who fall away from the one true God of the bible are very dangerous and he wants as an individual and as King of Israel to have nothing to do with such people. The expression,

“They will not cling to me”

 Is translated by the New American Standard bible as,

“It shall not fasten its grip on me”.

 David knew the lure of other God ideas like Baal as a great trap to his and his Kingdoms chances of living the way God wants them to live so he resolves to not let these faithless back sliders get a grip on him and his people and drag them away from the one true God of the bible.

Paul warned Timothy about false teachers inside the church of God who will seem very attractive to many and will lead many astray, 1 Timothy 4: 1 – 5,

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 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”.

Note how Paul wants Timothy to stick preaching the word of God when its popular to do so (in season) and when it is not popular to do so (out of season).

I have over a number of years with my wife travelled the world and we always try and find a church on the Sundays we are away that preaches the word to God. Sometimes it is hard and sometimes on a rare occasion we have attended a church that has seemingly given up on the word of God and this is very sad. I like David have resolved to not associate with faithless people or people who have fallen away from God and his word as to be part of a church like that is to allow the evil influence of the devil through these people cling to me and drag me away from following the true God of the bible.

  1. Perverse heart (4)

In verse 4 David speaks of people who are an evil influence on him and his resolution to live for the God of bible who is loving and just and not with men with a perverse heart. David writes in verse 4,

“Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil”.

 Eugene H. Petersen paraphrases the expression, “I will have nothing to do with evil”,

 “I refuse to shake hands with those who plan evil”.

 Its interesting to see how other translations translate the Hebrew word for perverse, they include, devious, evil and fraudulent heart and being perverse implies all of these and more. Coffman believes that the explanation of what David is saying in verse 4 is,

“The resolution is that no evil person, or evil thing, shall be accepted and tolerated as an adviser, an associate, or a deputy authority under him”.

 I have non- Christian friends or I associate with people who do not know the Lord particularly in my wider than church music interest but I do not hold these people close to me and if I find, as I have they act in a way that is really immoral or Godless then I have had no qualms of dissociating myself from them.

A couple of years ago I stopped playing ukulele with a group of people who’s leaders acted in a devious and underhanded way towards certain key members of that group. I have had nothing to do with that group since I became aware of their Godless deceitful actions.

Paul spoke to Christians in Corinth about be unequally yoked with unbelievers and this is usually applied to Christians men or women marrying a non- believer.

I believe Paul’s words also apply to Christians having a close relationship with non – believers. Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 6: 14 – 16,

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said “I will live with the, and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

I do not go as far as saying that a Christian should only deal with or associate with other Christians but while we are in this world we must not let it control us and if we find certain people cause us to pull away from God and his word than like David we must say and act like what he says in verse 4,

“I will have nothing to do with evil”

For me this meant stop playing with a group of music lovers who I found acted in a devious way but God has led me to join another group who so far have not caused me concern in the way they relate to me and to others.

  1. Slander (5a)

David knew all about slanderers as up to his becoming King of Israel he was slandered by King Saul and accused of being a traitor and someone who wanted to kill the king and take his crown. Saul says this about David to his son Jonathon in 1 Samuel 20: 30 – 31,

 “Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? 31 As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!”

Jonathon loved David and sought to protect him from his father’s slanderous evil attitude to David.

Even once David became king he faced opposition from outside of Israel and within it opposition that sought to bring him down through slanderous words. We read of this problem in many of David’s Psalms like Psalm 31: 11 – 13,

“Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbours and an object of dread to my closest friends— those who see me on the street flee from me. 12 I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. 13 For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!” They conspire against me and plot to take my life”.

So David knew what the pain and difficulties slander can cause and he knew God’s specific law about slander in the ninth commandment which says this in Exodus 20: 16,

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour”.

Knowing God’s law and knowing personally the pain and problems cause by slanderers personal David resolves in verse 5a,

“Whoever slanders his neighbour in secret, him will I put to silence”.

Or as Eugene H Peterson puts it,

“I will put a gag on the gossip who bad – mouths his neighbour”.

Slander is usually done behind a persons back and therefore seems to be in secret to them so David is saying, “You slander a person in secret then I will silence you openly permanently”.

Jesus faced constant slander by his enemies but he refused to strike out against them rather he was often seems to have loved them like as we see when he was being crucified for false and slanderous charges. We read what he says to his cruel tormentors in Luke 23: 34,

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”.

Jesus of course condemned slander and corruption and in Matthew 12: 36,

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken”.

James 4: 11 – 12 speaks directly about God’s judgment on those who slander,

 “Brothers and sisters do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbour?”

Paul makes it a point to advise Titus to teach and encourage Christians to among many things not to be involved in slandering another person, Titus 3: 1 – 2,

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone”.

So even Christians and people in the church can fall to the sin of slander and when we speak loosely or falsely about a fellow believer we have fallen into a very grievous sin and we need to repent of such sin and seek our Lords forgiveness if we have done this.

Again David included in his resolution to live a blameless life to deal in his kingdom with slanderers but as his reign developed he was not able to stop this problem and even his own son Absalom later in his reign opening slanders his father in 2 Samuel 15 to persuade many of the people of Israel to turn away from following his father as king and instead follow him in rebellion to his fathers reign.

  1. Haughty and proud hearts (5b)

 The second half of verse 5 says,

“Whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure”.

 Albert Barnes explains well the idea behind “haughty eyes”,

“Him that hath an high look – That is proud – as a proud man commonly carries his head high”.

 The English expression would be “He who puts his nose up” and I would call these people with the more crude Australian expression, “Snobs”. My dad when he was alive would call a snob, “A would be if he could be”.

Snobbery comes from a false sense of pride as a proud person looks down at others they believe are not as good as they are. So this looking down on others, which David calls in this verse, a, “Proud Heart” is a person David does not want around him so he says, “him I will not endure”.

The bible has lots to say about “Pride” and it book of Proverbs is full of advise and condemnation for the sin of pride.

Here are just two famous Proverb sayings about the sin of pride,

Proverbs 29: 23,

A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor”.

 Proverbs 11: 2,

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom”.

 The most famous verse in Proverbs however is Proverbs 16: 18,

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall”.

 I have witnessed sadly pride in the Christian church and it is a great disappointment to come across this but it is my belief that pride and snobbery is at the root of a lot of sins that we all fall to from time to time. We must always be on our guard both in the church and outside of it that we avoid the sin of pride and snobbery.

Paul gave the perfect antidote to the sin of pride in Romans 12: 3,

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you”.

Later in the same chapter Paul speaks directly about pride and gives us further advice to counter it in verse 16,

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited”

I admire fellow Christians who put this verse into action and I seek as much as it is possible to do the same, if only we all could do this our church and our church fellowship and witness to the world around us would be so much more lovely infectious.

  1. (6 – 7)   THE RESOLUTION AND GODLY INFLUENCES

1.(vs. 6)   Faithful people my companions

David did not just include the negative influences in his resolution to live a Godly life in response to God’s love and justice as he now includes encouraging positive influences. David speaks of these positive influences directly in verse 6,

“My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me”.

Eugine H. Peterson paraphrases this verse this way,

“But I have my eyes on salt – of – the – earth people – they’re the ones I ant working with me; Men and women on the straight and narrow – theses are the ones I want at my side”.

This is very helpful advice as the expression goes, “No man is an Island”, God made us to first relate to him and then to relate to others. In other words we are relational beings and we need other people in our lives. However the people who we need in our lives who are close to us who as David put it,

“Minister to me (or us)’

People who are faithful also to the God of the bible, people who share the same faith we share are the people we should look to, thus David says,

“My eyes will be on the faithful in the land”

I cannot stress how true I have found in my life how fellow believers have supported and encouraged me in so many ways over the many years I have been a believer. Some foolish negative bible commentators have sought to present St Paul in the bible as a hard, stoic and single minded man but nothing could be further from what the New Testament says about Paul and what he taught about the value of Christian friendship or partnership that he often called it.

At the end of his many letters that appear in the New Testament Paul speaks of his love and thanks for many fellow believers that partnered him in the work of spreading the Gospel of Christ. Like the long list of people who Paul knew and had worked with that he speaks of in Romans 16: 1 – 16, asking the believers in Rome to greet,

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.

Greet also the church that meets at their house.

Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.

Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among[d] the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord.

Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys.

10 Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test.

Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus.

11 Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew.

Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.

12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord.

Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.

13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.

14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them.

15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them.

16 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

All the churches of Christ send greetings.

Note how this long list of people Paul worked with include women especially Phoebe who gets a special mention as a Deacon which means servant of the Lord and seems to indicate she held some form of ministry position in the church at that time, exactly what we simply do not know but Paul makes it clear that she had helped many people in the Lord including Paul himself.

The mention of women being in the company of and working with Paul in work of the Gospel dispels another myth about Paul that he was some kind of women hater.

Paul surrounded himself with other faithful believers including women who he not only worked with but prayed for as we read in the first chapter of Philippians verses 3 – 6,

 “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 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”.

Paul wrote words like this to all of the churches he worked with as he knew the great real value of working with others in the church of Jesus Christ. Paul speaks of the Philippians as partners in the Gospel used by God to help him and them do the good work God wants to do which will bring us through to heaven itself or as Paul puts it,

“Until the day of Christ Jesus”.

David wants the positive influence of fellow faithful believers in his kingdom and land to be able to focus on living a blameless life, which he is resolved to live. Surrounding ourselves with strong Christian friends is how we can help put David’s resolve into our lives as well.

It seems that the church the writer to the Hebrews was writing to had some members not regularly attending as we see so often in our own churches today. So the writer to the Hebrews gives them and us this very sound advice in Hebrews 10: 23 – 25,

 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”.

  1. (vs. 7)   Evil people shut out

David then returns to the negative influences in the form of men in his house and those who are close to him as king being men who are honest faithful men of God and this is what he is saying in verse 7,

“No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence”.

 Eugine H. Peterson puts it this way in his modern paraphrase of this Psalm and verse,

“But no one who traffics in lies gets a job with me”.

 All through my study of this Psalm I have been led by God to think about the very first Psalm in the book of Psalms, Psalm 1. Psalm 1 ironically speaks of a man who is blessed, truly happy in God as a man who,

“Does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stands in the way of sinners or sits in the seat of sinners”. Verse 1.

 This first verse of Psalm 1 sets down the progression of being negatively influenced by Godless people as it speaks of walking with the wrong crowd and then standing with them and finally sitting with them. This progression is what David wants to avoid in Psalm 101.

So in verse 7 he wants in his court and home to be surrounded by people who are honest and putting this verse in context with verse 6 are faithful, walking with God type people.

Sadly David was not able to keep this resolution especially because his very own son Absalom years later becomes a man who practices deceit and spoke falsely so much he overthrew his father as king and sought to kill him and all of his close and faithful to God family and associates.

The rebellion of David’s son is a direct consequence of his sins of adultery and murder as predicted by the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12: 11 – 12. God forgave David for his sins but he still had to face some of the negative consequences of those great sins.

What can verse 7 teach us as Christians today?

I see two areas verse 7 could relate to and they are in our own individual lives and in the church, let me explain:

  1. In our individual lives

I like most Christians struggle with how we can be in this world but not part of it. This has been an issue for Christians throughout history and has led some to lock themselves up in monasteries cut off from the world totally. Another more modern example are people like the exclusive brethren who seek to have as little contact with people outside of their fellowship as possible.

Then there are Christians who have so much to do with non – believers they fail to show any Godliness in their daily lives.

In verse 7 of Psalm 101 David indicates that he wants to surround himself with honest people and in verse 6 he wants these people to be faithful believers. As individual Christians we should seek the close company of fellow believers who are good honest sincere people who will help us love and serve the Lord as we saw Paul did in the previous section.

The question might better be put, who are our real close friends?

If the answer includes people who do not know the Lord or worse, people who have bad morals then we are in danger of those immoral attitudes being rubbed off on us and we will miss out on the benefits God has for us through close Christian fellowship. As the apostle John puts it in 1 John 1: 5 – 7,

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin”.

This however does not mean we should cut ourselves off from any contact with non – believers. Jesus was called by his enemies as a friend of sinners, Mathew 11: 19,

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

 This however did not mean Jesus neither condoned the actions or sins of these people but rather he loved them and sought to help them find the kingdom of God in their lives.

Through my growing interest in music both within the church and outside of it in the past ten years or so I do regularly attend music gatherings with mixed groups of people. Some of the people in these groups are believers like me but many are not. Some of the non – believers in these music circles have sought to make me a really close friend but I have remained only friendly with them and only have really close friends in my church and through other Christian circles.

I consider my involvement with non – believers a chance to both enjoy the gift of music generally and an opportunity to be a witness to non – believers who share a common interest with me in music.

A couple of years ago I pulled out of one of these music gatherings because I saw key members of that group practice dishonest and questionable activities to better themselves and I felt I could both not condone or be associated with such people any more.

This is part of the struggle of what it means to be in the world and not part of it and I have found over the years at work and in general society the words of Paul in Romans 12: 1 – 2 most helpful to help me as a individual to keep on the straight and narrow,

 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”.

  1. As a Church

In verse 7 of Psalm 101 David is speaking of avoiding those who are not honest and in verse 6, working God’s faithful people in his house and in his presence. As we saw in verse 2, “house” could mean to David more than his own home or family but his Kingdom as “house” was used by God in 2 Samuel 7: 11 through the prophet Nathan to represent David’s kingdom which God would establish forever.

David’s eternal kingdom was fulfilled in God’s Son Jesus Christ coming to earth as a man from the line of David and so Jesus principle message was as Jesus first preached in Mark 1: 15,

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

 Jesus meant by saying the Kingdom of God was near that it was near because he had come as the greater son of David who is God’s eternal king who would establish a way for non – believers to join that kingdom through repentance and faith in him and what he has done for them, namely dying for their sins on the cross.

We, as true believers in Christ can now join God’s eternal kingdom which is also pictured in the New Testament as God’s family or God’s house, John 1: 12 – 13

“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”.

Paul even uses the concept of being in God’s house to describe how all Christians are in the family or kingdom of God in Ephesians 2: 19 – 22,

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit”.

Paul had much to say in all of his letters about living up to this high calling and privileged position that all true believers have in Christ. For instance in the fourth chapter of this letter to the Ephesians in verses 17 – 19, he says this about how we should live,

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 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. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed”.

Paul tells the Philippians that they are citizens of heaven in Philippians 3: 20-21,

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

So we are part of God’s house or eternal Kingdom and so the words of David in Psalm 101: 6 – 7 apply directly to our lives and churches.

Remember verse 6 said,

“My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me”.

For the church that means we must seek to make our fellow church members our close and loving friends, it is from them that we seek our deep and abiding fellowship and assistance.

I mentioned before that I do attend some non – church music groups to enjoy and develop my musical talents. However these groups are not my central focus even in the area of music as I see my musical involvement in my church as my number one priority. I have even made this clear to my non – Christian music friends and when opportunities to be involved with non – church music clashes with my church music commitments my church music commitments will always come first.

Then in verse 7, David said,

“No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence”.

For the church, God’s family, God’s kingdom we have and must have a high standards for those who lead it. This is why Paul laid down stringent standards for those who minster in his day to Timothy, 1 Timothy 3: 3 and 1 Timothy 5: 17 – 20.

Note the opening requirement for overseers or ministers in 1Timothy 3: 2 – 3,

“Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money”.

These words fit very well into David’s description of the sort of people he wanted to surround himself with in his kingdom and so these qualities should not be just found in our ministers but should be the kind of qualities we all should resolve to strive for as fellow members of the eternal Kingdom of Jesus Christ our Lord.

  1. (Vs. 8)   THE RESOLUTION STATED AGAIN

 

  1. (vs. 8a) Every day fight against evil

We come then to the final verse of this Psalm, which I think is a restate of the resolution of this Psalm to fight against evil only this time in a practical way. The first part of the verse speaks of how David will daily actually carry out his resolution to fight against evil in his kingdom. This first part of the verse says,

“Every morning I will put to silence all wicked and evil in the land”

Eugene H. Peterson paraphrase of this is,

“ I purged God’s city of all who make a business of evil.”

 Commentators like Alan Harman point out the significance of the phrase “every morning”,

“It seems to have been the custom for the king to hear cases every morning”.

Harman sights two references to this here, first is Absalom using this practice to promote his rebellion to his fathers reign in 2 Samuel 15: 2,

“He (Absalom) got up early to stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision”.

Then Harman sites Jeremiah 21: 12,

“O house of David, this is what the Lord says: ‘Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robed”.

In the case of 2 Samuel it seems David was not available as he had resolved to be in this Psalm by the time of Absalom and his rebellion and Absalom used this inactivity of his father David to win people over to follow him. Absalom made out that he would act as judge for the people and fight for them.

Like most of us we can make very good resolutions to love and serve the Lord but we often have great difficulty carrying them out or keeping to those resolutions.

Even the great apostle Paul battled with this and spoke to the Philippians about this and how he continued to press on to the goal God sets before us despite his own failures. Paul says this in Philippians 3: 12 – 14,

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.

“Every morning”

Could also be simply David’s way of saying everyday he would start each day to live the way he know God wanted him to live which is his resolve. This is very helpful for us as well that we at least start the day with God. I heard someone say once that if we start the day with God we have a better chance of finishing it with him as well.

Morning prayers or devotions do not guarantee a day of living for God but they can certainly help set that up. I try and have a prayer time each morning and have done so for many years and I certainly have found this a very helpful thing to do each day.

David, at least in the early years of his reign lived out his resolution to,

“Put to silence the wicked in the land”.

In our lives today and in our churches we must find ways and means of supporting efforts to silence the wicked and the best way we can do that is by seeking to preach and teach the wonderful message of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul speaks of this in his kind of ministry resolution in his letter to the Roman church in Romans 1: 14 – 17,

“I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.

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

  1. (vs. 8b) Live as if we are in God’s kingdom now

The second half of verse 8 completes David’s resolution to live for God’s love and justice by seeking to live a blameless life with a fitting final phrase that says,

“I will cut off every evildoer from the city of the Lord”.

David again and finally makes it clear that he resolves at the start of his reign to deal aggressively with evildoers and this time he speaks of doing this in Jerusalem which he refers to as, “the city of the Lord”.

This title of city of the Lord, which is Jerusalem has appeared already in a number of Psalms like Psalms 46: 4-5, 48:1 and 87: 1 – 3. God, it seems, chose Jerusalem to be a special place to signify his dwelling with his people on earth.

The place where the physical symbols of that special presence, the Ark of the Covenant sat in David’s time in the Tabernacle tent like structure and in the Temple from the time of Solomon up to the exile into Babylon.

David is making it clear in his resolution that above all Jerusalem will be a place for the faithful people of God and would be therefore a place evildoers would not be welcome.

Unfortunately as I have already indicated later in David’s reign he failed for a time to live up to this great resolution and it was in Jerusalem in his very own palace that David fell himself to the great sins of adultery and murder. Later it was Jerusalem where David’s first son Amnon rapped his half sister Tamar and it was another son of David Absalom who killed his half brother Ammon not in Jerusalem but in the land of Israel.

A few years after that it was in Jerusalem that Absalom rebelled against his fathers rule and sought to kill him. David escaped but Absalom just as the prophet Nathan had predicted years before when David had committed adultery and murder defiled some of his wives left in Jerusalem. God forgave David but there were serious consequences for David because of his great sins.

David seems to have not carried through his great resolution to cut off every evildoer during the years his sons Ammon and Absalom committed many evil and wicked sins like raping a sister and killing a bother.

David would have had only himself to blame when his slackness led him to not hear of wrong doing in the mornings and act as judge for his people as this gave Absalom the opportunity to turn the people away from following David as king.

Surely David would have known what Absalom got up to but in his later years David became soft on crime and wickedness and he paid greatly for this slackness.

We must learn the lessons of the bible, which unlike any other ancient book presents its leading lights like its kings as fallen sinners like us all. Like David we can make great resolutions to love and serve the Lord but we must be like Paul who said in Philippians 3: 12 – 14,

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

One final word then on Jerusalem, the city of God, the book of Revelations chapter 21 speaks of a New Jerusalem, heaven itself the real dwelling place of God, which at the return of Christ will descend to earth and all faithful believers, will dwell in it forever with God. At the end of that great chapter we read these words in verses 26 – 27,

“The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life”.

What David resolved to do in Psalm 101 verse 8 and failed to do, God will do at the end of history when Jesus Christ returns as the king of heaven and earth. One final word then from the book of Revelations from chapter 21: 1 – 5,

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

No more resolutions or goals will be needed then, as we all who believe will have fully arrived at what this life’s resolutions and goals have been focused on. Unto that day however we need to follow the example of Paul in Philippians 3: 14 and,

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

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

I WILL SING OF GOD’S LOVE AND JUSTICE

(Based on Psalm 101)

I will sing of God’s love and justice

I will sing and praise the Lord

Because the Lord has shown his love

Revealed to us through his word.

Jesus died to surely save me

On the cross God’s love I see

Jesus death reveals God’s justice

And sins payment has made me free.

 

I will seek to live for Jesus

Live a life of thankful praise.

Because I know Jesus loves me

I will serve him all my days.

Jesus died to surely save me

On the cross he paid sins curse

Now the devil has no hold on me

If I seek to put Jesus first.

 

I will walk with Jesus beside me

For I am in his family.

Set my eyes on serving Jesus

Turning from wrong and iniquity.

Jesus died to surely save me

Through his spirit he walks with me.

Helps me carry all my burdens

Gives me hope and victory.

 

I will turn from evil company

I will seek God’s faithful ones.

I will long to love the humble

Find my help in God’s daughters and sons

Jesus died to surely save me

And make a way for me to go

I will follow in his footsteps

Seeking his help to always grow.

 

I will live my life in God’s light

Turning each morning to the Lord

Seeking to avoid wicked company

Following the advice of God’s word.

Jesus died to surely save me

One day I’ll see him face to face

Rising to him to live in heaven

Because of his wonderful love and grace.

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

Lord I thank you for your Son who came to earth to die for my sins on the cross. Help me to be inspired and empowered by what you have done for me to live the sort of life worthy of your great love for me. May I turn away from evil company that could pull me away from truly following you and may I instead find my true friends and family in your church the household of God. In Jesus name I pray Amen.