PSALM 109 TALK: REAP WHAT YOU SOW OR SAVED BY GRACE

PSALM 109 TALK: REAP WHAT YOU SOW OR SAVED BY GRACE

(A Psalm of David that is a prayer to God to save him from some very nasty Godless enemies who refuse to follow God’s laws and in fact seek to bring down on David the very curses of God they will face for their opposition to God and his anointed King. David also speaks of being saved by the love and mercy of God, which God gives to those who truly turn to him in faith even though no one deserves God’s love. )

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INTRODUCTION

A very popular concept of how life works in western culture in recent times is called Karma, which has been stolen from the Hindu – Buddhist faiths. A say stolen because from what I have read the popular western concept of Karma is not what Hindu – Buddhist people believe. The Christian web site “gotQuestion?org” puts the Hindu – Budhist idea of Karma this ways,

“It is the idea that how you live your life will determine the quality of life you will have after reincarnation”.

Reincarnation is strongly dismissed by the bible as a false teaching by verses like Hebrews 9: 27, which simply says,

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment”.

However the popular western concept of Karma was expressed well by the story lines of a popular American T.V comedy called, “My Name is Earl”. Earl is portrayed as a small time petting criminal who wins a lottery but looses the ticket when he is run down by a car and ends up in hospital. Somehow while Earl is recuperating from many serious injuries in hospital he realises that what has caught up with him is Karma or what he calls bad Karma that is he has done bad things so bad things will happen to him even after good things have happened. The shows plots then follows the course of Earl ticking off a list of bad things he has done in the past which he seeks to correct, which then leads to good things happening to him.

As I said from what I have read My Name is Earl’s concept of Karma is not the same as the Hindu – Buddhist believe as they see all of life as bad or suffering and what they untimely are seeking is a end to this seemingly endless cycle of lives which will lead to their escape from the cycle of suffering in this life.

Strangely what this modern concept of Karma is, is more like the bibles teaching of “You Reap what you sow” as Paul expresses it in Galatians 6: 7,

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows”.

Paul has in mind the final judgment but the concept of “You reap what you sow” does also have a connection in a general sense to this life. As we read in a verse like Proverbs 22: 8 says,

“Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken”.

Jesus also had much to say about this and uses reap what you sow parables to explain this. However this is a general concept of reaping what you sow because if the “My Name is Earl” style reaping what you sow or Karma as he calls it is always working out in this life then we would never see good things in this life because we all, one way or another in the eyes of God have done and will do bad things or sin as the bible calls it.

We are all, believer and non – believer recipients of what theologians call, “General Grace” that is God does not allow us to suffer the consequences of all our sins in this life and even out of his love or grace blesses both the believer and non – believer as Jesus put it in Matthew 5: 45,

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

Psalm 109 is a Psalm of David that features I believe the principal of you reap what you sow as David prays to God what we call a imprecatory prayer which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies. I will speak on whether I believe Christians should pray such prayers in the second section of this Psalm talk.

However for now I would like to answer the question concerning the harshness of this prayer especially in terms of God’s Judgment of what seems to be the innocent children of these very nasty enemies of David.

We read this seemingly harsh prayer request in verses like verses 12 and 13,

“May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.
13 May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation”.

There are four observations I will make here:

The first is the principle of you reap what you sow and that can be seen clearly in verse 17, which says,

“He loved to pronounce a curse – may it come on him; he found no pleasure in blessing – may it be far from him”.

It has been suggested by some commentators that what David is praying for God to do to these enemies and particularly their principal leader is what they are saying they want God to do to him. So the idea of David’s children suffering and his descendants being cut off from the memory of the earth is what these enemies of David are saying should happen to David.

Secondly the things that the prayer says about David’s enemies families is a consequence of God’s Judgment coming on them as the ancient Hebrew society was family and community focused so if your parents suffered unfortunately you suffered as one of their children. This seems harsh in our modern more individualistic society that has Government welfare etc. that we have in the western world today. However there are other cultures in our world today that still operate like the ancient Hebrew society and children do suffer when their parents get into some kind of difficulty and I have seen this in my many travels through south east Asia.
Thirdly the things David prays to happen to his nasty Godless enemies are in fact part of the curses of God on those Israelites who disobey God and break his law and even the second commandment says this, Exodus 20: 5,

“You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me”.

This seems harsh words but we must remember that the next verse says,

“But showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments”.

God’s principle that we will see running through this Psalm is if you continue to disobey God and refuse to accept his love through the Lord Jesus Christ than you will reap what you so in this life and especially on the day of judgment but if you turn to God in repentance and faith than he will bless you with his underserved love or grace both in this life and especially on the day of judgment and the eternal life with God that follows.

Who these enemies of David are we just cannot tell but he is described the head accuser as some kind of leader in verse 8,

“May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership”

This could suggest that this is King Saul who turned on David and sought to kill him as he accused him falsely as a traitor and for this for eight long years he continually hunted David down causing David much suffering which fits the description David gives himself in verses 22 – 23,

“For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.23 I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust”.

So fourthly and finally I would like to say that even though David prayed a very forceful often-merciless prayer for God’s judgment to come on his enemies he never once actually carried out any kind of act of vengeance on his enemies and false accusers like King Saul. In fact twice David had the perfect opportunity to kill his enemy king Saul and both times he opted out of doing this saying something like we read in 1 Samuel 24: 6,

“The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.”

So David might have prayed these imprecatory prayers which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies but he knew his bible when he considered carrying out these prayers himself when it says in Deuteronomy 32: 35,
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay”

With the twin themes of if you continue to disobey God and refuse to accept his love you will reap what you so in this life and especially on the day of judgment but if you turn to God in repentance and faith than he will bless you with his underserved love or grace both in this life and especially on the day of judgment in mind my outline for this Psalm is:

1. (1 – 5) REPAY EVIL

1. (1 – 2) A cry for God’s help
2. (3 – 5) God’s help in terms of repaying evil

2. (6 – 20) REEP WHAT YOU SOW

1. (6 – 15) The accusers accused and condemned
2. (16 – 20) Their curses turning on them

3. (21 – 31) SAVED BY GRACE

1. (21 – 29) Saved by grace
2. (30 – 31) Praising God for his love

1. (1 – 5) REPAY EVIL

1. (1 – 2) A cry for God’s help

This Psalm is a true personal lament, which starts with a complaint or problem expressed to God in prayer, and finishes with some kind of praise of God or promise of praise for his help or new confidence gained for his dealing with the complaint or problem.

Psalm 109 starts with a genuine cry for help for a very real problem,

“O God whom I praise, do not remain silent, for wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues”.

David is saying, my enemies are speaking and making a lot of noise as their words from their mouths speak slanderous lies against me so God don’t continue to be silent. He wants God to speak up for him as he continually speaks up praise for him as he faces the lying accusations of these wicked and deceitful enemies.

This is not the first time David has cried out to God as he faced false charges from his enemies and in Psalm 12 he speaks of a war he is fighting against these enemies a war of words, verses 1 – 4,

“Help, LORD, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.2 Everyone lies to their neighbour; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts.3 May the LORD silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue—4 those who say, “By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”

Note how David was well aware of the power of the tongue.

David was a brave soldier and writer of beautiful words of praise yet he found throughout his life that it was that little piece of flesh we have in our mouths called the tongue that was his greatest enemy which he just could not find victory over.

This fact reminds me of the beautiful but practical teaching of James who says this about the tongue in James 3: 5 – 10,

“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be”.

David knew the truth of these words and he faced all through his long life the power of deceitful lying tongues. Spurgeon pinpoints both the power and the source of this problem David faced with these words,

“In all Satan’s armoury there are no worse weapons than deceitful tongues”.

Yes David knew he would be opposed and sometimes that opposition came in the form of attacks from other nations but more it came from deceitful tongues directed and inspired in the spiritual realm by Satan himself who casts his shadow all through this Psalm 109.

Paul gives us this advice in Ephesians 6: 10 – 11,

“ Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

God forbid that we as followers of God through Christ allow Satan to use us in the slander of our tongues against our dear brothers and sisters in Christ and always refrain then from gossip and loose talking about our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

2. (3 – 5) God’s help in terms of repaying evil

So what does David not want God to be silent about these lying deceitful enemies of his faithful servant?

Verses 3 – 5 answer this question,

With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause.4 In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer.5 They repay me evil for
good, and hatred for my friendship”.

He does not want these enemies he calls in this Psalm his accusers to be able to repay his good with evil and implies he wants God to repay their evil with the very evil they want David to be afflicted by.

David feels he has done nothing wrong and in the context of being chased by King Saul who he genuinely still loved he calls out this to him in 1 Samuel 24: 10 – 15,

“This day you have seen with your own eyes how the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave.

Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the LORD’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.

14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the LORD be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”

The words of verses 3 – 5 fit so well in the context of this story in 1 Samuel 24 when after having the perfect opportunity for David to kill Saul he refrained from it as Saul and his men had sought to,

“With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause”.

David in his these words to Saul showed that he still loved him like a Father yet Saul and the men he lead,

4iIn return for my friendship they accused David”.

Yet David had not shown in any way he was out to bring Down Saul as he presented to King Saul that he was,

“A man of prayer”

A man who looked to God for help as he sought to be his faithful servant. Yet Saul and the men under him, sought to,

“Repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship”.

This reminds me of Jesus who did many wonderful things for poor and desperate people like the demon possessed man in Matthew 12 but what do the Pharisees say about this, verse 24,

“ But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

Jesus points out how can demon cast out demon, no it was by the pure power of God that he did what he did yet his enemies,

“Repay Jesus evil for good”.

One day God would repay their evil with what it really deserved in the final judgment to come.

Jesus faced far greater deceitful, lying slanderous attacks of the tongue than even David and he to could be a testimony of David’s words in verse 4,

4 In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer”

We should follow the example of Christ and continue to love our enemies as he did and he commanded us to do as we will consider in much more depth in the next section of this Psalm.

2. (6 – 20) REEP WHAT YOU SOW

1. (6 – 15) The accusers accused and condemned

As I said in the introduction this section two from verses 6 – 20 is a very savage imprecatory prayer, which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies. I also pointed out how many commentators believe that the content of David’s request for judgment to fall on his accusers is in fact the very things they were wishing to come on David. If this is true David is simply turning the savage evil things wished on him into a prayer to God for these things to come on those who openly express them.

How should we as Christians, followers of Christ pray for and treat those who oppose us?

This is a question I have answered a number of times before so I would like to quote from what I said in two previous Psalm Talks when this issue of imprecatory prayers has come up before.

The first is Psalm 69 and in my comments on verses 27 and 28, I said this,

As I have often said when dealing with imprecatory prayers Jesus commands we do the opposite of them. David prays here “do not let them share in your salvation” Jesus says in Matthew 5: 44,

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

I was looking on the net for the verses that speak of loving your enemies and found them listed by a man named Fritz Clery who in his introduction to the verses says this,

“This topic is something we all struggle with at times. We feel like how can I love someone that keeps sinning against me? They give me no reason to love them. To me this is a reflection of the gospel. Do you give God a reason to love you? A Christian sins before a holy God yet he still pours out his love unto us. There was a time when you were an enemy of God, but Christ loved you and saved you from the wrath of God”.

I wonder how many early Christians prayed for Saul who became the apostle Paul when he was a unbeliever who persecuted many Christians before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and turned to Jesus and was saved”.

Then in my Psalm talk for Psalm 5 verse 10, I said this,
“Jesus taught us to love our enemies and pray for them, Luke 6: 27 – 29,

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic”.

However we also know from the teaching of Christ and the rest of the New Testament that God has appointed a day that all men will be judged, Acts 17: 31,

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

This means that when we read David praying for God to deal with his enemies like he does here in verse 10 (of Psalm 5), who are also God’s enemies we should think of this in the context of the final judgment to come. Martin Luther pointed out that when we pray in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy Kingdom come”, we are praying for God’s day of Judgment to come as well.

However interestingly I did read an article on the net by a man named Dr Peter Hammond, called “Praying for Justice” and he points out that in the many persecuted parts of the world prayers like David is praying here are prayed in places were Christians suffer major and terrible persecution. Here is a small extract from that article,

“Despite the fact that 90 of the 150 Psalms include imprecations (prayers invoking God’s righteous judgment upon the wicked) such prayers are rare in the average Western church. However, amongst the persecuted churches these prayers are much more common”.

I also will be noting the principle I stated in the introduction of reaping what you sow in this section as well. So for the first part of this savage imprecatory prayer which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies verses 6 – 15 I have broken it into three parts:

1. The accuser’s judgment (vss. 6 – 8)
2. The accuser’s family’s judgment (vss. 9 – 10 and 13 – 15)
3. The accuser’s judgment through his community (vss. 11 – 12)

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

1. The accuser’s judgment (vss. 6 – 8)

I must note that David changes here from speaking of his accusers in the plural sense to a single person sense, which Leopold explains this way,

“Perhaps best explained by the assumption that there was one outstanding leader of the opposition against the psalmist”.

I suggested that this outstanding leader could have been King Saul who conducted a eight year terror campaign of verbal slander and murderous attacks on David and he would be an excellent candidate for David’s evil accuser in this imprecatory prayer.

David uses what seems like judicial language to speak of this leading accuser in verses 6 and 7,

“Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy; let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him”.

He calls on God to appoint an evil counsellor like a solicitor or barrister standing on his right hand to oppose him maybe just as this accuser had stood against David.

Here we see the first instance of reaping what you sow, the leading accusing stood in the accusing position, his right hand side (see Zechariah 3: 1) to falsely accuse David so now David prays that what he said should happen him might rebound and he might experience being falsely accused of things by a evil man.

This is the role of Satan as the Zechariah 3: 1 reference refers to and Satan is seen coming to God as a accuser of the false view that Job’s faith in God was not genuine and so David wants a Satan like accuser to reap what he sowed, that is be a victim of false charges like he had accused David of.

Then when this sham trial, like again David had experienced, is complete and his accuser will,

“Be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him”.

I like the Cambridge Bible for schools and Colleges explanation of what these two verses are actually saying, they write,

“Let this heartless persecutor of the innocent be put upon his trial, and that before a judge as heartless, and with a malicious accuser as unscrupulous, as himself: let him be found guilty, and let his cry for mercy find no hearing”.

So this accuser and his followers used lies and false charges against David to bring him down and now lies and false charges are being used against him to bring his accuser down.

David’s prayer to God was just but what this accusers prayer for David’s condemnation was and rather than being delivered by his prayers David says may he be condemned by them.

Satan is constantly trying to destroy us according to the New Testament as we read in 1 Peter 5: 8,

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”.

But Peter assures us that if we are alert to the workings of Satan and stand firm in our faith we have nothing to fear from him as the next verse, verse 9 says,

“Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings”.

And James says in James 4: 7,

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

David continues his imprecatory prayer, which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies in verse 8 with a request for this leader of his enemies who is his chief accuser of false charges is not to have the blessing of a long life and in fact be killed or at least die so that someone else take his place of leadership,

“May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership”.

If David is speaking about King Saul then he is the one who would take the place of Saul as leader or king.

Interestingly it was the very real possibility that David would be the next king of Israel that drove a lot of the seemingly senseless rage towards David from Saul as Saul indicates to his son Jonathan after Jonathan helped save David from the murderous hand of his father. Saul’s words to his son Jonathan are recorded 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!”

Saul saw the writing on the wall, so to speak and what he feared God was intending to do came to pass some years later.

So in the case of these words in verse 8 originating in Saul’s intension and now being used by David against Saul we have a clear example of Saul reaping what he sowed. What he wanted to happen to David eventually happened to him.

Let me remind you that Jesus himself does not recommend we pray for our enemies like this but he encourages us to seek to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us as we read earlier in Matthew 5: 44,

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

However if our enemies or those who persecute us do not turn to God and accept the love of God in Christ then they will reap what they sow and will face the judgment of God when they die as we Paul teaches in Galatians 6: 7 – 8,

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”.

Before I leave this verse I must mention how the second part of verse 8,

“May another take his place of leadership”

Is quoted by Peter in Acts 1: 20 for scriptural authority for replacing Judas with another disciple as the twelfth apostle. Judas is an excellent example of a man caught up in this principle of “you reap what you sow”. He chose to betray The Lord Jesus Christ who loved him greatly because he was disappointed with the kind of Messiah Jesus turned out to be and maybe for material gain as well but once he fully realised what he had done he hung himself. So a disciple named Matthias took his leadership position but I believe the real God chosen twelfth apostle turned out to be a few years later non other than the Apostle Paul.

1. The accuser’s family’s judgment (vss. 9 – 10 and 13 – 15)

We come then to the most difficult verses of this Psalm to interpret as it deals with what seems the judgment of innocent children. I have already indicated that even in the ten commandments God speaks of the sins of the fathers impacting on not only their family’s but future generations of family’s as we saw in some of the wording of the second commandment, Exodus 20: 5,

“You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me”.

In the ancient Hebrew society that is much more community and family based the sins of the fathers had direct impact on their wives and children but in these verses in Psalm 109 David is praying that the leader of his enemies might not only suffer for his sin and rebellion but his wife and children also suffer that judgment as well.

Take the wording of verses 9 and 10,

“May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.10 May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes”.

Some commentators have pointed out that in the context of the ancient Hebrew society the early death of the father of the home would have led to what David prays will happen to his family, which is, the children would be fatherless and his wife would be a widow and the prospects of the children living a normal blessed life very uncertain to say the least.

Before the coming of Christ the status and value of women and children was very low indeed and they were merely part of the goods and chattels of the man of the house but Jesus said things like we read about in Mathew 19: 14 – 15,

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there”.

Jesus spoke these words because people were bringing children to Jesus to be blessed by him but the disciples had the typical attitude of men of their day to children and sought to block children bothering the Lord Jesus Christ.

The other fact to keep in mind here is that the word children does not necessary say little children as in the case of the death of Saul his children were groan up like Jonathan who died in battle with his father. Then we have the stories of a surviving son of Saul, Ish- Bosheth and the crippled son of Jonathan named Mesphibisheth who David actually sought to help.

In the case of Saul’s surviving son Ish-Bosheth Davd punished the men who wilfully killed him 2 Samuel 4 and in the case of Jonathan’s surviving crippled son Mesphibisheth he looked after him with restoration of his family land and he also ate at the kings table (2 Samuel 9).

So David might have prayed that his ruthless enemy who led a campaign of false accusations and death threats against him be killed and his children be made destitute actually sought to show grace or undeserved love to what was left of the family of Saul.
This is the way of Christ, which is it is the way of love and compassion even on his enemies and after all everyone one of us were once his enemies before we came to him in faith as Paul clearly states in Romans 5: 6 – 8,

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Paul knew this all to well as he was the great enemy of the early church but Christ met him on the road to Damascus and turned him around to become the great Apostle Paul who helped thousands to come to Christ and through his writings in the New Testament millions more.

Then in Psalm 109 verses 13 – 15 we have a further imprecatory prayer, which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies relating to the chief accusers family and even includes his wife in verse 14,

“May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation.
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
15 May their sins always remain before the LORD THAT he may blot out their name from the earth.

These words again could have been what David’s accusers prayed or wished on him so the, reap what you sow principle meant that they would be the recipients of this awful condemnation on their families.

Also the families of convicted criminals in ancient times did suffer greatly as they were considered “tared with the same brush” as the old saying goes. Again it is Jesus Christ and his Gospel message of the love of God that dramatically changed this and we find straight away in the early church the care for widows and their children in Acts 6 and then there is Pauls instructions for the churches Timothy was overseeing which include specific instructions to the care for widows and orphans in 1 Timothy 5: 3 – 10,

“Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds”.

In the case of this chief accuser it seems his wife, who would soon become a widow was a willing participant in her husbands lying deceitful words against David as the second half of verse 14 says,

“May the sin of his mother never be blotted out”.

This is the mother of the accusers children and she is said to have sinned or was part of the sin of her husbands lying deceitful words.

In the case of Psalm 109 the reap what you sow principle would have been very real for the accuser the enemy of David and God as his family would have became fatherless, with descendants cut off, names blotted out and memory lost from the earth. David’s name lived on but the positive identity of the accuser was lost forever.

2. The accuser’s judgment through his community (vss. 11 – 12)

Finally in this first part of this imprecatory prayer, which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies is the accusers fate in the community which he lived. We read of this in verses 11 – 12,

“May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labour. 12 May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children”.

Again all that these two verses speak of are but natural consequences of the death of a man who headed a family’s untimely death which verse 8 spoke of in a poetic form.

His creditors would seize all his assets, strangers who would plunder what he left behind to pay his outstanding debts and again his surviving family would struggle unless someone showed them charity and David obviously at the time of praying this prayer and recording it in a Psalm did not want this to happen.

However we have learnt that when David became king he showed charity to King Saul’s grandson Mesphibisheth whose father was Jonathan, Saul’s eldest son.
David had a deep friendship with Jonathan and as much as Jonathan could he supported his friend David even suffering the angry scorn of his father for doing so. So David might have prayed for this to happen but he left this in the hands of God who can and does say no to some of our prayers when that is the best thing for us and his glorious will.

The apostle Paul gives us an example of when God said no to his prayer he prayed as once he prayed at least 3 times for a physical aliment to be healed in 2 Corinthians 12: 8 – 9,

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”.

So if David prayed for the total destruction of the family of Saul he in the end showed that he learnt that God said no to that as he after Saul’s death helped and proved for Saul’s grandson Mesphibisheth.

We must learn from this and particularly the example of Paul who said that when God said no to his prayer for some form of healing he learnt that, God’s,

“Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.

2. (16 – 20) Their curses turning on them

The second part of this imprecatory prayer, which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies is found in verses 16 – 20 and I have broken this second part down into two main ideas,

1. The accusers lack of compassion (vs. 16)
2. The accusers curses turning on them (vss. 17 – 20)

So lets have a closer look at each of these two ideas:

1. The accusers lack of compassion (vs. 16)

The man and his followers this imprecatory prayer is based on are not nice people in any way their attitude to others is both cold and unloving as verse 16 states,

“For he never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the poor and the needy and the brokenhearted”.

I have heard of people today who act like this and their problem is that they are totally self- interested people who are only out to satisfy their own selfish interests. I had a job as a manger for only six months a number of years ago in a secular job and one of the things that helped cause me to quit was the manager I was responsible to wanted me to act in a ruthless unloving way to my staff to get the best out of them. I argued that my staff would respond far better to my directions if I showed them love and understanding but sadly I was written off as a soft and ineffective leader.

I am sorry but I must follow the example of Christ who was a loving servant leader and who showed us how we can and must show kindness particularly to the poor and needy brokenhearted people of this world.

We read these amazing words about the love and compassion of Jesus in Matthew 9: 36 – 37,

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Going back to Psalm 109 verse 16, these nasty Godless accusers instead of doing kindness simply hounded out death to the poor. There are people in this world right now who are suffering at the hands of such people and many of those are sincere believer in Christ but Jesus says pray for them and Psalm 109 says that if they don’t turn away from their wickedness such people will eventually reap what they sow which is judgment.

3. The accusers curses turning on them (vss. 17 – 20)

Then we come to the heart of what this Psalm has been presenting the reap what you sow principle for those who not only rebel against God but literally attack by word and deed his true and faithful followers.

The reap what you sow principle is no more clearer than it is in verse 17,

“He loved to pronounce a curse – may it come on him; he found no pleasure in blessing – may it be far from him”.

These accusers loved cursing good Godly men like David but the tables will be turned in God’s coming judgment as the curse they sowed for others will reap God’s curse on them. Even in this life history has told us bad wicked men and women have got their just deserts, I think of Adolf Hitler who ended up shooting himself in the mouth in a cold and damp bunker in war torn Berlin. I think of Pol Pot who it is believed committed suicide by taking poison in Cambodia in 1998 after he lead a regime that slaughtered millions of innocent people.

I could speak of many other enemies of God throughout history but one thing is certain even if these men seemed to have cheated justice for their massive crimes by committing suicide they will not escape the judgment of God as Paul says in Acts 17: 31,

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

Then in verses 18 – 19 David poetically describes this principle of reaping what you sow with these words,

“He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil. 19 May it be like a cloak wrapped about him, like a belt tied forever around him.

So ingrained is this sowing of cursing in these accusers that it is described as being like a garment or clothing they were wearing and like water that had soaked into their very inner being. We might say cursing was so ingrained in them it defined how people saw them. Spurgeon puts it this way,

“He was so openly in the habit of wishing ill to others that he seemed to wear robes of cursing, therefore let it be as his raiment girded and belted about him, yea, let it enter as water into his bowels, and search the very marrow of his bones like a penetrating oil. It is but common justice that he should receive a return for his malice, and receive it in kind, too”.

Then the reaping what you sow principle is spelt out in verse 20,

20 May this be the LORD’s payment to my accusers, to those who speak evil of me”.

Payment is another way of putting reaping or what you get or gain for your evil and wicked actions. This is the fate of all men and women without Christ, who do not turn to Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

For without their sins paid for in Christ the “reap what you sow” principle will be a person’s fate. Let me share just three New Testament references to this.

First we have Mathew 12: 36 – 37,

“ But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Then Luke 6: 37 – 38,

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Finally those words of Paul in Galatians 6: 7 – 8,

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”.

The final words of verse 8 offer the hope we will explore in the third and final section of this Psalm,

“Whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”.

We will see how the principle of “you reap what you sow” has a God given new principle of hope and salvation based on God’s love or grace.

3. (21 – 31) SAVED BY GRACE

1. (21 – 29) Saved by grace

David has now completed his very at times heavy-handed imprecatory prayer, which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies and now in the final section of this Psalm David establishes a new principle, which I will call, simply “saved by grace”.

I have broken this first part of the final section of this Psalm into three parts:

1. The principle of saved by grace (vs. 21)
2. The need to be saved by grace (vss. 22 – 25)
3. The principle of saved by grace applied (vss. 26 – 29)

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

1. The principle of saved by grace (vs. 21)

This final section starts with that amazing little word “but” which appears so much in scriptures to link disaster and despair with hope and promise and it is no different here as Bob Deffinbaugh puts it,

“David asked for justice for his foes and now asks for mercy for himself”.

I think verse 21 and later verse 26 set down a different way for sinful man, namely the way of or the principal of “saved by grace”, verse 21 says,

“But you, O Sovereign Lord, deal well with me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love deliver me”.

This is a wonderful verse that is saying so much and it has three key parts:

1. God’s Sovereignty
2. God’s Name
3. God’s love

Lets have a closer look at each of these:

1. God’s Sovereignty

Chip Ingram explains the idea that God is sovereign this way,

“The way I like to explain God’s sovereignty best is simply to say, “God is in control.” There is absolutely nothing that happens in the universe that is outside of God’s influence and authority. As King of kings and Lord of lords, God has no limitations”.

This is a hotly disputed concept that theologians for centuries have argued about but Chip Ingram goes on in his Internet article on the Sovereignty of God to quote 5 key bible references that illustrate that the bible clearly teaches this.

The 5 key bible references are: Rev. 1: 6, Colossians 1: 16, Romans 11: 33, Jeremiah 32: 17 and Psalm 103: 19.

I like the last one particularly so I will quote it here, Psalm 103: 19,

“The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all”.

So when David says in verse 21,

“But you, O Sovereign Lord”

He is addressing himself to the one who rules over all and all includes everything, everyone and every situation. This, I believe is only disputed because life often shouts out at us that this is not true especially when evil seems to triumph over good but we must accept by faith that even in the worst of life’s fallen and messy situations God is still Sovereign and in control, faith that Paul expressed so well in Romans 8: 28,

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

I once heard or once read a story about the famous Bishop J.C Ryle and English Anglican Bishop of the 19th Century who after nursing his beloved wife to her painful death went to church the next day and was so overcome with emotion he simply held up to the congregation a large embroidered page mark the wrong way around. As he held the page marker he said to the congregation, “what you see is how I feel”, then he turned the embroidered page marker around to reveal the words, “God’s love”.

Sometimes when we go through difficult times the Sovereign love of God seems lost and even foolishness but like Bishop J.C Ryle accepted and claimed by faith, God is still in control and nothing can separate us from God’s love as he says in Romans 8: 38 – 39,

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

2. God’s Name

David spoke a lot about the name of God and in verse 21 he says this,

“Deal well with me for your name’s sake”

There is only one God but according to the bible he has many names just as he has three expressions of himself, which we call the Holy Trinity. The name’s of God and the name of God all represent the very character of God and his greatest characteristic we will learn in the life principle I call, “saved by grace” is love.
Grace is the special love of God, which is love he gives even though we don’t deserve it. God’s name then is God’s amazing character and as I said, David spoke a lot about the name of God. I did a study on the name of God in the Psalms of David and here are four highlights of that study:

1. Psalm 8: 1,

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth”.

God’s name is majestic and all of creation declares something of what he is like.

2. Psalm 9: 10,

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord have never forsaken those who seek you”

To know God is to know his name or what he is really like and if we know God he will never forsake us.

3. Psalm 29: 2

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness”.

The basis of all real worship is to declare the name or character of God and this worship because of the character of God is full of splendour and holiness.

4. Psalm 103: 1,

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name”.

I could have chosen many other verses like this from the Psalms of David where he praises the name of God often in song but he does it here from deep within his soul or being because David knew that the name or character of God was so wonderful.

David asks for God to deal with him according to his name because he had faith and confidence in the bibles revealed character of God that as he said in Psalm 9: 10, would never forsake him.

3. God’s love

The last aspect of this new principle of life, “saved by grace” is the very central characteristic of the God of the bible who David was turning to in verse 21 of Psalm 109. That central characteristic of God is expressed here in the words,

“Out of the goodness of your love, deliver me”.

David knew he did not deserve the love of God not less to deliver or save him as he says in another Psalm, Psalm 25: 6 – 7,

“Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. 7 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good”.

David knew the only difference he had from his accusers was that he had learnt about the great God of love who if tuned to in repentance and faith and he would deliver him out of his mercy or grace, which is love that he or anyone did not deserve.

This then is the new principle of life so different that “reap what you sow” because it is because of God’s love we will not reap what we sow but we will rather be saved by grace”.

The New Testament makes this new principle of life even more- clearer because it presents how God has made this possible. The message is that we deserve death and in fact the reaping of sin or as Paul calls it in Romans 6: 23, the wages of sin is death,

“For the wages of sin is death”

Then Paul slips in one of those great examples of a “but” as the second half of Romans 6: 23 says,

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

You see our many sins reaps death and Jesus perfect life given as a sacrifice for our sins reaps eternal life for us for it paid the debt of our sin.

This is the greatest expression of God’s love or better still “Grace” because this love of God is undeserved by us but freely given by God as Paul says in Ephesians 2: 4 – 6,

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”.

So we have this new principle of life, saved by grace even though we all deserve to reap what we so but we must turn back to God in repentance and accept this free gift of love by faith and seek to live by this God given new principle of life, “saved by grace”.

2. The need to be saved by grace (vss. 22 – 25)

David then gives us four verses that describe why he needs to be “saved by grace” and these verses describe a man poetically with deep needs that only the grace of God can help.

I see actually six poetic pictures of a man in need:

1. Poor and needy (vs. 22a)
2. Wounded in heart (vs. 22b)
3. Fading away like a shadow (vs. 23a)
4. Shaken off like a insect (vs. 23b)
5. Weakened body from not eating (vs. 24)
6. Object of scorn (vs. 25)

Lets have a quick look at each of these six poetic pictures of a man in need of the grace of God.

1. Poor and needy (vs. 22a)

The first poetic picture David uses is that of a man very poor and in need,

“For I am poor and needy”

The idea of being poor has been used by David before to describe his state before God in Psalm 34: 6,

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

We know that David wrote Psalm 34 when he was trapped for a time in a Philistine city called Gath and Saul was heading to Gath to kill him as the Hebrew heading tells us David wrote this when he was caused to act insane before the king of Gath called Abimelech.

David, when he became king of Israel would have been a very rich man but even if this Psalm was written when David had become the king of Israel I don’t think this image of being poor and needy is speaking about his financial status.

No, David’s inability to survive the attacks of his enemies trusting in his own earthly resources was very inadequate making him poor and needy just like our ability to save ourselves from reaping what we sow, namely sin and judgment is totally inadequate making us all poor and needy no matter what our financial status is.

We like David need to be saved by grace, which Paul goes on to point out in Ephesians 2, where he writes in verse 8 – 9,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast”.

2. Wounded in heart (vs. 22b)

David always ready to open to God in prayer then gives us the second poetic picture of his need to be saved by grace in the words of the second half of verse 22 that says,

“And my heart is wounded within me”.

Albert Barnes fleshes out and explains the meaning of this poetic picture with these words,

“I am as one that is prostrated by a weapon – as if my heart had been pierced. I have no courage, no strength. I am like one who lies wounded on a battlefield”.

This expression of David would have been very real to him as he was a great warrior and soldier and he would have seen many men “wounded”, he himself could have suffered some kind of battle field wound, we do not know but in the face of the great opposition he faced in the war of words he felt in himself totally inadequate and he needed God’s help, he needed to be saved by grace.

We too face mighty forces of evil as Paul reveals to us in Ephesians 6: 12

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

So we in ourselves have no real resources in the spiritual battles of life and often through falling to sin find that we have a wounded heart but Paul gives us the answer to this spiritual dilemma in the two verses before Ephesians 6: 12, verses 10 – 11,

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

We need then to be saved by grace, we need God’s strong and mighty power and love to stand the slings and arrows of the evil one.

3. Fading away like a shadow (vs. 23a)

The war of words David is caught up in at the time of writing this Psalm has taken a big toll on his mind, body and soul and verse 23 either figuratively or actually has effected him deeply as vs. 23a says,

“I fade away like an evening shadow”

David is saying the effects of the war of words was making him feel like his life was wasting away such is the pressure criticism and verbal persecution can have on a person. I said this war of words might have taken a toll on his body actually because David could have written this in the years when he was on the run from King Saul and we read in the book of 1 Samuel how David and some of his loyal followers were out in wilderness areas for possibly weeks with little food and water and this would caused him to physically waste away like a shadow.

Paul experienced on many occasions the effects of persecution for his faith and ministry for Christ but he tells us amazingly in Philippians 4: 10 – 12, how he was rejoicing in his suffering and in want or plenty he had learned the secret of being content,

“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”.

So what is Paul’s secret of being content in all circumstances?

Paul tells us the answer to this important question in verse 13,

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.

Such is the wonderful power of being saved by grace because it links up to a great spiritual power source namely The Lord Jesus Christ who says this to us all 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.”

4. Shaken off like a insect (vs. 23b)

David then uses an interesting poetic description of how he feels when he is under verbal attack from his accusers in the second half of verse 23,

“I am shaken off like locusts”

Albert Barnes explanation is helpful and interesting,

“I am tossed up and down as the locust – Agitated, moved, driven about, as a cloud of locusts is by the wind. The meaning of the whole is, that he was frail and weak, and needed strength from on high”.

I got another way of possibly thinking of what David was saying here and that comes from my Australian experience of insects attacking you like wretched flies that when they land on you, you just simply shake or wave them off. Maybe David is saying I feel like an insect like a locust landing on a person and when I land I am shaken or waved away.

Particularly when David was on the run from king Saul he had to flee constantly from danger and either like a swarm of locusts driven around by the wind or an insect being pushed or waved away from our bodies David was constantly on the run needing God’s help and protection.

But God continually delivered or saved David again not because he deserved to be delivered or saved but purely because he knew the love or grace of God as he says in Psalm 57: 3,

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

If we would but turn to Christ every day and in every situation we, like David will know what it means to be saved by grace as Paul says in his prayer for the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 2: 16 – 17,

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word”.

5. Weakened body from not eating (vs. 24)

Verse 24, if it is a literal description of David’s physical state at the time of writing fits perfectly in the time of his eight year’s of being on the run from King Saul because he would have suffered hunger causing his body to weaken at various times during those eight years or so when he was on the run for his life,

“My knees give way from fasting; my body is thin and gaunt”.

Even if this was written when he was the established king of Israel but still was under attack from enemies like his own son Absalom later in his reign he could have weakened his body through self imposed fasting in prayer as this verse could also indicate. Spurgeon makes this interesting observation on this,

“He was wasted to a skeleton, and as his body was emaciated, so was his soul bereft of comfort: he was pining away, and all the while his enemies saw it and laughed at his distress. How pathetically he states his case; this is one of the truest forms of prayer, the setting forth of our sorrow before the Lord. Weak knees are strong with God, and failing flesh has great power in pleading”.

We saw earlier that Paul once prayed three times for some kind of bodily ailment to leave him but God said no to Paul’s prayer and in that, “no” answer from God Paul learnt a great lesson about the grace of God, that reference is 2 Corinthians 12: 8 – 9,

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”.

Being saved by grace as a principle in our lives does not mean we wont suffer or go through difficult times but it does mean that as verse 9 says, God’s,

“Grace is sufficient for you, for (God’s) power is made perfect in weakness”.

David is also learning this as he pray in verse 21,

“But you, O Sovereign Lord, deal well with me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love deliver me”.

God dealing with us by his grace or unmerited love means that he will be with us, helping us and saving us even in difficult times.

6. Object of scorn (vs. 25)

The final reason that David gives for why he needed to be saved by grace is how his enemies and accusers treated him when they saw him in his weakened and needy state as David expresses in verse 25,

“I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads”

A number of Psalms speak of David’s difficulties brought about by the taunts and vicious words of his enemies like Psalm 22: 6 – 7,

“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads”.

These words in Psalm 22 and many other verses in that Psalm are an accurate prophecy of what Christ endured on the cross. Jesus Christ endured all through his ministry taunts and vicious verbal abuse by his enemies of his day and particularly on the cross when many people and particularly the religious leaders of that day rejected Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God and hurled insults at Jesus and shook their heads in disrespect as Jesus physically suffered in agony while he hung upon the cross.

Listen to Matthews account of this in Matthew 27: 39 – 44,

“Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him”.

It is good for us to remember that Jesus endured this almost unbearable suffering so that we could be saved by grace as Paul speaks of to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1: 8 – 12,

“So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day”.

3. The principle of saved by grace applied (vss. 26 – 29)

Once David had appealed to the grace of God to deliver him from his current situation in the previous five verses he now applies the saved by grace principle to his current situation brought about by his enemies and accusers who where living not by the grace of God but were living by the principle of life God had laid down for those who oppose and rebel against him, reap what you sow.
I have broken this application of the saved by grace of God in the life David at the time of his writing this Psalm into three parts:

1. Saved by grace applied (vs. 26)
2. Saved by grace revealed to God’s enemies (vs. 27)
3. Saved by grace working out in David and his enemies (vs. 28 – 29)

Lets have a closer look at each of these three parts to the saved by grace principle being applied to David and his enemies.

1. Saved by grace applied (vs. 26)

Verse 26 like verse 21 states clearly David’s understanding of how he is delivered or saved by grace,

“Help me, O Lord my God; save me In accordance with your love”.

Note that David is not appealing to his good character or righteous life but he is appealing to the love of God a love he did not deserve so I am giving that love its New Testament name of “Grace”.

The famous minister and hymn writer of the eighteenth century was a man who certainly did not deserve in any way the salvation of God as he was a ruthless, God hating foul mouthed slave trader. Yet God brought John Newton to his knees one night in a storm at sea so violent he tied himself to the wheel of the ship to somehow try and steer it.

John Newton cried out to the God who he said he did not believe in for so many years but he said years later he did not believe that if God were there he would save a terrible sinner like him. However when all seemed lost the storm passed on and John Newton and his ship were saved.

John Newton then started reading his bible to learn of how we are not saved by our good works but by the grace of God and years later John Newton wrote the famous hymn “Amazing Grace” which the first verse tells the story of John Newtons discovery of the God given principle of new life we are calling in the Psalm talk, “Saved by Grace”.

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see.

David applies this love or grace of God to his desperate situation asking God to save him by grace and not by anything else. Again I remind you what the apostle Paul says about how we are saved by grace alone in Ephesians 2: 8 – 9,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast”.

2. Saved by grace revealed to God’s enemies (vs. 27)

David then in his application of the saved by grace principle which he knew and lived by then asks that his enemies or accusers be made aware I what he trusted in,

“Let them know that it is your hand, that you, O Lord, have done it”.

David is asking God to reveal to his enemies that he has been saved by God’s hand which he twice previously said that was through the love of God, a love he did not deserve so a love the New Testament coined, “Grace”.

David Guzik’s comments on this verse is very helpful as he writes,

“It was very important to David that his enemies and all who looked on him knew that his rescue was from God’s hand that the Lord had done it. He didn’t want deliverance only for his own sake, but also for the glory of God”.

Paul always sought to not present himself but rather the saving grace of God in Christ which he makes clear to the church in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 4: 4 – 8,

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, ”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”.

Later in the chapter he makes direct reference to God’s saving grace and how it is priority of his preaching and teaching in 2 Corinthians 4: 15,

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

So both David and Paul wanted the glory of their salvation to go to God and particularly his message of being saved by grace.

3. Saved by grace working out in David and his enemies (vs. 28 – 29)

David concludes his application of the saved by grace principle by spelling out how saved by grace as opposed to reap what you sow plays its way out in him compared to his unbelieving wicked enemies or accusers in verse 28 and 29 which say,

“While they curse, may you bless; may those who attack me be put to shame, but may your servant rejoice.29 May my accusers be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame as in a cloak”.

Because of David being saved by grace he will be blessed even though his enemies curse and those who attack him verbally will be defeated by his God and put to shame, as they will reap what they sowed and David will be saved by grace. Finally his accusers will reap what they sow in God’s judgment and they will appear before God as though wearing clothes of disgrace and shame.

I like the pulpit commentaries explanation of verse 29,

“Instead of the “cursing” (verse 18) with which the wicked delighted to clothe themselves, they shall be forced to wear a covering of shame and confusion of face”.

David sees the end game or where the two ways of living lead to as his end is God’s blessing as he is saved by grace and his enemies or accusers will reap what they sow, they curse so they will be cursed, they accuse so they will be accused and they seek to disgrace so they will be disgraced by God as though they are wrapped in shame.

The apostle John saw the final judgment of God in his vision of Heaven called “The Revelation” this way in Revelation 20: 11 – 15,

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

Note how this reference speaks of how the judgment will be carried out, each person will be judged according to what they had done or they will reap what they sowed in life.

Paul speaks of how saved by grace works for those who put their faith in it in Titus 2: 11 – 14,

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good”,

So Revelation 20 – 11 – 15 shows us the end of the way of reap what you sow but Titus 2: 11 – 14 shows us the way saved by grace works its way out in its believers lives which will end in God’s glorious beginning as God’s purified people that will live with him forever.

2.   (30 – 31) Praising God for his love

Like most of the lament Psalms (Psalms that bring complaints, anxiety, despair and sometimes protest’s to God in prayer) it finishes with a word of praise and David’s final two verses contain two wonderful ideas:

1. A promise of great praise in the meeting of God’s people (vs. 30)
2. A statement of the main content of his promised praise (vs. 31)

Lets have a close look at these two final wonderful ideas:

1. A promise of great praise in the meeting of God’s people (vs. 30)

David in verse 30 makes a very strong promise or commitment to praise God in the worship meetings of his people,

“With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng I will praise him”.

David Guzik points out,

“The Psalm began with addressing the God of my praise, it ends with the confidence and the vow that the singer will yet praise him”.

This promise of praise is one of the strongest commitment to praise yet seen in the book of Psalms and David wants to do this great word of verbal praise in the company of his fellow believers, which he calls “the great throng”.

David often ends his psalms with praise and even a promise to praise God like Psalm 63: 11,

“But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God’s name will praise him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced”.

Paul also encouraged and instructed many New Testament churches to continually praise the Lord like Philippians 4: 4,

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

To the church in Thessalonica he said that praise or giving thanks to God is God’s will for all believers, 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18,

“Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

The all circumstances includes when we are going through difficulties like persecution like David was going through when he wrote Psalm 109. I have heard that some of the most persecuted churches in the world when they gather give great praise to God because it seems in the great trials of persecution Christians are forced to rely on the Lord Jesus Christ and his presence then is so real and close to them they are filled with the joy of the Lord and praise him.

2. A statement of the main content of his promised praise (vs. 31)

David now finishes the Psalm with a statement of the main content of the praise he has just promised to praise in the assembly of his fellow believers, which we call today as Christians, the Church.

David’s statement of the content of his promised praise is,

“For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him”.

This is a statement that echo’s the idea that those who turn to God, those who know they need him are saved by grace. God stands close to those who are saved by grace, in fact he is at their right hand, which is the promise of a trusted helper that has become the colloquial expression, “Right hand man”.

For those saved are no longer judged by reap what you sow but God saves their lives, as we have seen in this Psalm by his love. They, therefore don’t deserve to avoid the reap what you sow judgment principle but we know because of what Christ did for us on the cross we are forgiven of the sins we sowed throughout our lives and are made righteous by the death and resurrection of Christ as Paul declares in Romans 5: 17,

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!”

And Romans 4: 25,

“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification”.

However for the enemies of God who oppose his Gospel message, the message of saved by grace and those who believe it God will treat them with his judgment principle of “Reap what you sow” as the final words of the Psalm indicate,

“Save his life from those who condemn him”.

David is saying God will save him from his accusers who condemned him with their words and deeds but God will save him from them and in doing that will condemn them.

The last words of this Psalm has been translated in other translations of the bible as:

“Those who judge the soul”.

With this in mind the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges makes this final telling statement,

“The wicked man is to be found guilty, as he deserves, while his victim will be saved from the persecutors who are minded to judge his soul, i.e. condemn him to death”.

So David’s accusers will reap what they sow, condemnation while he by faith in the God of Love will be saved by grace.

I close as usual with my own original poem and a closing prayer.

REAP WHAT YOU SOW OR SAVE BY GRACE
(Based on Psalm 109)

Chorus:
Reap, reap, reap what you sow
Or be save by grace
Are the only two ways to go.
Trust, trust, trust in the Lord
For Jesus has saved us
And given us his word.

O God who I do praise
Don’t be silent to me
For wicked men seek my life.
They attack me with evil words you see.
They pay good with evil intent
I offer them friendship
They treat it with contempt.
So may they sow the evil they plan
And reap what they sow on the judgment day
When before the Lord they will stand.
Chorus:

I plead with you O Lord
That your enemies will be
Unsuccessful in their lives.
They attack my life and my family
They want us to be blotted out.
They never offer kindness
They just turn the poor out.
So may the curses they wish on me
Be the curses they face on judgment day
When God’s judgment seat they will see.

Chorus:

O Sovereign Lord above
Deliver me with your love
So that your name will be great
And all mankind will look above.
For I have such a desperate need
My soul and my body fails
So to you O Lord I do plead
May your grace save me O Lord.
May my enemies see how great you are
And turn and trust in your word.

Chorus:

With my mouth I’ll praise you O Lord
With your people gathered O Lord
I will praise your amazing love
Found in the pages of your word.
You sent Jesus to die for us
He paid for sin on the cross
And all we have to do is trust.
One day Jesus will return
When we will rise to live with him
But God’s enemies sadly will burn.

Chorus:

By: Jim Wenman

Prayer:

Dear Lord help me when I face opposition from your enemies who seek to bring you down by bringing me down. May I show your love which your Son wants me to show our enemies when they persecute me. Help me to trust in you in your Sovereign and amazing love for my salvation and may the message of your grace become known by those who do not know you so they will not reap what they sow but be saved by grace alone. In Jesus name I pray Amen.

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PSALM 108 TALK: A RENEWED PRAISE OF THE LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS OF GOD

PSALM 108 TALK: A RENEWED PRAISE OF THE LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS OF GOD

 (A Psalm that uses two of David’s previous Psalms or parts of them to make a renewed praise for the love and faithfulness of God for his people in the context of further problems with the old Israelite enemy Edom.)

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

INTRODUCTION

 It never ceases to amaze me that over the many years I have been a Christian the bible continually becomes alive to me in so many ways. Passages of scripture that I have read and even studied many times before look different or rather speak to me in a different way according to my life context. That seems to be the key, my life context because God’s word reveals different aspects of that word to what I am experiencing and thinking about at that time I am reading it and reflecting on it.

I’m not advocating that our experience in life determines the truth we read but rather the truth in God’s word stands firm and unshakable and my experience of life led by the Holy Spirit helps to inform me of God’s truth in his word and even more so how that truth applies to my life and faith at that time. This in turn helps me to be able to share with others that truth in God’s word to help them in their lives and faith in God.

A dear friend expressed it this way to me the other day when she said whatever I am going through or thinking about for sure will be the very thing I will read about in my daily bible reading or will be what the minister preaches on at church or will be the very thing I need to consider through discussion and the reading of God’s word in my weekly bible study group. She added this she believes is the way God is speaking to her in her day-to-day life.

This experience of God’s word speaking to us in the context of our daily life is the main idea behind the original creation of Psalm 108 as Psalm 108 is made up of two almost direct quotes of portions of two previous Psalms of David. Verses 1 – 5 is almost a direct quote of Psalm 57: 7 – 11 while Psalm 108 verses 6 – 13 is almost a direct quote from Psalm 60: 5 – 12. The differences are so minor in most cases they do not deserve commenting on.

These two almost direct quotes might seem a strange combination except for one interesting fact both of the David Psalms deal with God’s loving salvation or deliverance from his enemies and Psalm 60 deals particularly with the salvation or deliverance from the old enemy Edom.

Edom features from the time of the Wilderness wanderings of God’s people to the fall of Jerusalem and even the return of the Jews to the Promised Land as a constant aggressive enemy of God’s people.

If Psalm 108 was written after the return from exile in Babylon, which its placement in the fifth book of Psalms suggests then the context of, this new revised Psalm is problems with Edom during the Babylonian conquering of Jerusalem and further problems with people from Edom when the Jews returned from their Babylonian exile.

We have three key bible references that shed light on this possible context of Psalm 108 if it was written either before or after the Babylonian exile of the Jews.

The first deals with people from Edom during the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem probably men from Edom who were constricted into the Babylonian army that conquered Jerusalem and that reference is Psalm 137: 7,

“Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. “Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!”

These men from Edom, possibly part of the Babylonian army were carrying out what the old saying says, “they were kicking a man while he was down”. They were gloating over the terrible fate of their old enemy Israel and egging on the total destruction of Jerusalem and its people”.

The second reference comes some years later when the Jews returned from exile in Babylon and we find it in the words of the prophet Malachi who was writing about further problems with Edom who of course in the bible descended from Jacobs twin bother Esau.

“I have loved you,” says the Lord. “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.” Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.” But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’

 Malachi writing during the time of the return from exile would have only mentioned the Edomites as wicked people and people under God’s wrath or judgment because they in some way or another represented a threat to the struggling nation of returning exiles from Babylon and other parts of the world.

Psalm 108 by picking on the passage of verses 5 – 12 of Psalm 60 is pointing to problems from the old enemy of Edom, which David wrote about hundred’s of years before when he was threatened by Edom himself.

The third and final possible reference to problems with Edom before or after the return from exile in Babylon is the short but powerful prophecy of Obadiah which deals exclusively with God’s condemnation of Edom again written around the time of the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem or even after the return from Babylonian exile. Four verses stand out in that prophecy, verses 11 – 14,

“On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.12 You should not gloat over your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble.13 You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster ,nor gloat over them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster.14 You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble”.

Again an obvious reference to Edom’s involvement in Jerusalem’s destruction by the Babylonians. For this God’s judgment would fall on this nation for this attitude of the people from Edom continued when the Jews returned from exile in Babylon.

So I aim now to restate much of what I taught in Psalms 57: 7 – 11 and 60: 5 – 12 in the context of the fall of Jerusalem and the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon when they had ongoing problems from their old enemy, Edom. In the context of that time period will give us a better understanding of what Psalm 108 originally said to it original hearers of readers and then we will look at what this Psaln has to say to us.

My context will be the many enemies of Christians today who like the people from Edom boldly gloat over Christians as they persecute them. I will promote how I believe Jesus wants us to love them to maybe help them into his Kingdom but I will not draw back from the biblical fact that in the end those who have not repented of their sins will face God’s judgment at the end of the Gospel age which we are currently live in.

With this in mind my outline for this Psalm is:

  1. (1 – 4)   RENEWING OUR PRAISE FOR GOD’S LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS

 

  1. (vs. 1a)   Be faithful to God
  2. (1b – 3)   Worship God with music
  3. (4 – 5)   Recognize God’s love that saves us

 

  1. (6 – 9)   GOD’S PROMISE OF SALVATION

 

  1. (vs. 7)     The call for salvation
  2. (8 – 9)     God’s answer for the call for salvation

 

  1. (10 – 13) CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S ABILITY TO SAVE US

 

  1. (10 – 11) Looking to God for salvation from our enemies
  2. (vs. 12)   A reminder of what not trusting God for salvation leads to
  3. (vs. 13)   Salvation relies on trusting in God.

 

  1. (1 – 4)   RENEWING OUR PRAISE FOR GOD’S LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS

 

  1. (vs. 1a)   Be faithful to God

Psalm 57 was written when David ran from the evil intent of Saul and that led him to two caves, the first in a place called Adullam in 1 Samuel 22: 1 -2 and the second a few years later recorded in 1 Samuel 24 where David is hiding in a cave in the desert area of “En Gedi” and Saul enters to go to the toilet. Here David spares the life of Saul and cuts off a small piece of his clothing.

The first cave story fits well with Psalm 56 because it is the event that follows the event that inspired Psalm 56. The second story fits better because it could help explain the name of David’s tune called in the Hebrew heading to Psalm 57 that says, “Do not destroy”. It is in the cave in the desert of “En Gadi” that David decides not to kill his enemy, Saul, which could easily be described by the words, “Do not destroy”.

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

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

God primarily desires from us three things when we face difficulties like those caused by our enemies or those who oppose us because we dare to continue to trust and believe in the God of the bible. The first thing God desires in our response God great love and faithfulness is our simple heartfelt love and faithfulness to him. This is what David expresses in verse 7a of Psalm 57 and verse 1 a of Psalm 108,

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

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

The writer of Psalm 108 can relate to this as well because he and his people had just be saved by God out of captivity in Babylon and were delivered to their much loved homeland of Israel.

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

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

Jesus answer is found in verses 37 – 40,

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

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

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

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

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

So the writer of Psalm 108 can relate to David’s opening statement of Psalm 57,

“My heart is steadfast, O God”

 Our writer / editor ha just experienced the great love and faithfulness of God because of God’s hand of Salvation or deliverance in freeing him and his people out captivity in Babylon.

We can be steadfast in God because we know through the Lord Jesus Christ that we are saved from the consequences of sin and are now free to serve God as his special children led by God himself as Paul states clearly in Romans 5: 1 – 2,

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

  1. (1b – 3)   Worship God with music

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

“I will sing and make music”

 and Psalm 108 1b.

“I will sing and make music with all my soul”.

 There has been many weird and sadly misguided Christians in the past and present times who have been anti – music but these Christians have somehow failed to see the bible teaching on the use of music in the meeting of Christians both to worship God and to edify those who are involved in it.

Paul teaches a right use of music in corporate Christian gatherings in Ephesians 5: 18 – 20,

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

 In the next verse of Psalm 57 and Psalm 108 David seems to rouse himself to get going in worship using music,

“Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn”. Psalm 57: 8

And, “Awake, harp and lyre I will awaken the dawn”.

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

Let all the music with which I am familiar be well attuned for the hallowed service of praise. I myself will awake early. I will awake the dawn with my joyous notes.

No sleepy verses and weary notes shall be heard from me; I will thoroughly arouse myself for this high employ”.

 Note the editor / writer of Psalm 108 has slightly changed the original wording of David’s Psalm 57 but the change has no bearing of what David was originally saying.

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

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

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

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

 So much of our modern worship is dominated by shallow worship practices that fail to plumb the depths of God through his word. Our music can also lack solid theological thought at the expense of sounding good as the pattern of this world often determines.

David’s worship and praise was in no way shallow as we can see from verse 9 of Psalm 57 and vs. 3 of Psalm 108 which says,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the writer of Psalm 108 when he read David’s Psalm calling on him to worship God with music with all his soul would have been inspired to go to the re-built temple in Jerusalem and join with other recently saved or delivered Jews to worship God with great joy and music and the description of worship in Jerusalem in the post return from Babylon generation seems to reflect lots of music and incredible enthusiasm as the following two references in Nehemiah 12, first verses 31 – 35,

“I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks. One was to proceed on top of the wall to the right, toward the Dung Gate. 32 Hoshaiah and half the leaders of Judah followed them, 33 along with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, 35 as well as some priests with trumpets, and also Zechariah son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zakkur, the son of Asaph”.

Then verse 43,

 “And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away”.

Now that’s loud, enthusiastic, musical worship that would be hard to find in many of our churches today.

  1. (4 – 5)   Recognize God’s love that saves us

The third and final response David wants to give God for his love and faithfulness shown in his salvation or deliverance he believes God gave him and God gives us in Christ and his death and resurrection for us is to actually to recognize his glorious Lordship.

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

David lived 700 years before Christ so his message was simply the Lordship of God as expressed in verse 11 of Psalm 57 and verse 5 of Psalm 108.

Which simply says,

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

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

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

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

So David has seen his God save him out of the cave of Adullam and the cave in the desert of “En Gadi”. David’s escapes from both of these two death traps happened because of God’s great love and faithfulness. David makes this clear twice in this Psalm and the second expression of the words I call a refrain is in verse 10 of Psalm 57 and verse 4 of Psalm 108,

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

 This has been David’s inspired theme of Psalm 57 and continues as the main theme of Psalm 108. A teaching that states truths about God that no other religion has dared to declare. This is a theme seen even clearer and stronger in the New Testament where we learn that God sent his Son into this world to show us his love and faithfulness through his death on the cross.

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

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

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

 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, We will also live with him; if we

endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, For he cannot disown himself”.

 So how would this inspired words of Psalm 57 by David been seen by the writer or editor writer of Psalm 108?

If this writer / editor lived after the return from exile then he would have seen David’ description of God’s love and faithfulness being so great as a wonderful expression of what God had done for him and his people in saving them out of a long and terrible captivity in Babylonian exile. David’s words would have been so appropriate then for him and his fellow Jews.

These words of David also found in the edited Psalm of Psalm 108 are also to me wonderful words of how great God love and faithfulness is to me in realizing what God has done for me in saving me through the amazing work of Jesus Christ in his life and death for me and inspired me to write a song I have sang many times for a few years now which has the chorus that says,

God’s love and faithfulness

In Jesus we see

God’s love and faithfulness

He’s always with me.

  1. (6 – 9)   GOD’S PROMISE OF SALVATION

 

  1. (vs. 7)     The call for salvation

The writer / editor of Psalm 108 then jumps from Psalm 57: 7 – 11 to Psalm 60: 5 – 12 in his final seven verses of his new Psalm, Psalm 108. Psalm 60 has a completely different context and I will now give you my introduction to Psalm 60 from that Psalm talk.

“Psalm 60 verse 10 reads,

 “Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us and no longer go out with our armies”?

 While Psalm 44 verse 9 reads,

 But now you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies”.

 I think that Psalm 60 David’s version of Psalm 44 written by the Sons of Korah. This means that the possible historical setting of both Psalms is David’s war with his northern Assyrian neighbors and Joab’s battles with his easterly Edomite neighbors.

The Edomite conflict of David’s time is very interesting because it is presented in two bible references and the second indicates that for a time Israel’s forces did not do so well.

 The first reference to this conflict is 2 Samuel 8: 13 :

“And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went”.

 This sounds like David had a fairly straightforward victory over the Edomites but the second reference sheds a little light on how David’s victory played its way out. It is a reference to this conflict in David’s time by a conflict Solomon had with the Edomites in his time. It is found in 1Kings 11: 15,

 “Earlier when David was fighting with Edom, Joab the commander of the army, who had gone up to bury the dead, had struck down all the men in Edom. Joab and all the Israelites stayed there for six months, until they had destroyed all the men in Edom”.

 The reference to Joab going up to Edom to “bury the dead” indicates that at first forces from Israel had suffered a major defeat. Also note how it took Joab and his men six months to have total victory over the Edomites”.

Psalm 44 could have been written at the time when the news of Israel’s defeat reached Jerusalem and the horror of the Nation trusting in God being defeated by their enemies caused one of the sons of Korah to write his Psalm, Psalm 44.

While Psalm 60 was written around the same time in the same historical context by David maybe when he was still off fighting his northern Assyrian neighbors which is indicated by what is said in the Hebrew heading for Psalm 60.

The other interesting detail is that the victory over the soldiers from Edom in the Valley of Salt is attributed to David in the 2 Samuel passage and Joab in the 1 Kings passage and Psalm 60 Hebrew heading while it is attributed to Abishai in a 1 Chronicles 18: 12 verse. Leopold gives the answer to this,

“David was the commander – in – chief in charge of all operations; Joab was very likely delegated to take care of the Edomite campaign; Abishai served under him”.

 There is a discrepancy of the number killed in the Valley of salt with 12,000 in the Psalm 60 Hebrew heading and 18,000 in 2 Samuel 8 passage but this could be simply a minor manuscript copying mistake.

So interestingly the writer / editor of the new Psalm, Psalm 108 chose a portion of the earlier Psalm of David, Psalm 60 which was written in the context of a defeat by the Edomites. Also the section of Psalm 60 he chose was the specific section that deals with David’s call to save them from the hands of enemies like the Edomites and certainly the last part of that section deals directly with God’s victory for David over Edom.

Why did the writer of Psalm 108 choose this section of Psalm 60 for the second part of his new Psalm, Psalm 108?

I have suggested in my introduction that it was the problems this writer believed he and his people had with Edom during the conquest of Jerusalem and the further problems with Edom after the Jews returned from exile that led our writer of Psalm 108 to choose this portion of David’s original Psalm 60.

So David in the middle section of Psalm 60 starts with a call to God to save them from the hand of his enemies and in Psalm 60 verse 5 and verse 6 of Psalm 108 we read,

“Save us and help us with your right hand”

This is a remarkable prayer of faith typical of David’s prayers in the book of Psalms many times in the first book of Psalms we read words like Psalm 30: 1 – 3,

“I will exalt you O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O Lord, you brought me up from the grave, you spared me from going down into the pit”.

 All of David’s prayers or calls to God for help come in the context of very difficult circumstances and I have made the point many times that this is because of what God told David would happen to him and his followers in Psalm 2: 2,

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

 David I believe had to pray this prayer because when he was off fighting nations to the north taking a stand against them he was attacked from the east by the Nation of Edom. Not only that a later reference to this time and the words of the start of this Psalm indicate Israel because of some kind of sin had suffered an awful defeat at the hands of the Nation of Edom.

Now David calls for salvation and help from the right hand of God. In most ancient cultures the right hand was a symbol of a Kings power and authority and this comes from the fact that the right hand is usually the most powerful and important hand of the two we have. “Got questions? Org web site says this about the right hand of God,

“The term “God’s right hand” in prophecy refers to the Messiah to whom is given the power and authority to subdue his enemies”.

 This idea of the right hand belonging to the coming of the Messiah is beautifully spoken about by Paul as having been for filled in Jesus Christ in Ephesians 1: 18 – 21,

“ I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come”.

 The second half of verse of Psalm 60 and verse 6 of Psalm 108 reads,

“That those you love may be delivered”.

 Michael Wilcock aptly writes,

“Those God temporarily rejected (vs.1) are still those he loves (vs.5)”

 We might desert or attempt to desert God but God will not desert us even if for a time he might discipline us for our sins by appearing to have deserted us.

This is what happened eventually to Israel when for 70 years they went into exile under the Babylonians and this could be yet another reason why this part of Psalm 60 was chosen by our writer / editor of Psalm 108 who probably lived at the end of this captivity exile and also lived to see God’s loving deliverance of his people from Babylonian exile. .

Even in the Babylonian exile God was still with his people and loved them as we see in scriptures like the Book of Daniel and Ezekiel. Ezekiel speaks of God’s restoration of the nation of Israel in Ezekiel 37: 21 – 23,

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God”.

 So God always had a faithful remnant of true believers, who David calls here in verse 5 of Psalm 60 and verse 6 of Psalm 108,

“Those you love” or “beloved of God”.

The New Testament uses the term “Beloved” to describe God’s people and clearly teaches that we didn’t love God but rather God loved us and this comes out clearly in a passage like 1John 4: 7 – 12,

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”.

 So the beloved of God are the people God loves and they show they are loved of God by the way they respond to God with love. David knew God loved him and he responded with love for God.

Finally here the promise is that those who are loved by God will be delivered. The full quote from Michael Wilcock I started to quote at the beginning of this section actually says,

“Those God temporarily rejected (vs.1) are still those he loves (vs.5). To their words of prayer he responds with words of promise”.

 These words of promise start at the end of verse 5 in Psalm 60 and in verse 6 in Psalm 108 and fully blossom in the next three verses.

  1. (8 – 9)     God’s answer for the call for salvation

The words of promise are again God breaking into the Psalm and speaking directly to us. We saw the first example of this in an earlier Psalm of David, Psalm 12: 5,

“Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise, says the Lord, ‘I will protect them from those who malign them”.

 The expression,

“God has spoken from his sanctuary”

 Is a bit of a puzzle to understand but I like Derk Kinder’s explanation of what it possibly means,

“The scene of a festival such as in Deuteronomy 31: 10ff)”

 The Deuteronomy passage Kidner quotes is called “The Feast of Tabernacles” which took place every seven years.

So maybe this revelation from God actually took place during one of these festival occasions. The sure fact is that the content of this revelation from God is nothing short of the original promise of God to Abraham about the land his descendents would inherit.

Psalm 60: 6 and Psalm 108: 7 says,

“In triumph I will parcel out Shechem”

 Genesis 12: 6 and 7 says,

“Abram travelled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘to your offspring I will give this land. So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him”.

 Later Jacob, Abrahams grandson journeys across this promise land from Succoth which is one side of the Jordon to Shechem which is on the other side it, which we read about in Genesis 33: 17 – 20,

“Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth.

After Jacob came from Paddan Aram, he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city. For a hundred pieces of silver, he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of ShechemEl , the plot of ground where he pitched his tent. There he set up an altar and called it Elohe Israel.

 Leupold sums up the significance of what God is saying here and in the next two verses as,

“This is a free adaptation of God’s promises to the nation which he made in various forms and ways throughout the whole of the Pentateuch (first five books of the bible)”.

 Therefore God is saying to David and Israel that he gave them their land and he will help them keep it by his triumph over the people who live in it.

The next two verses make this clear as God spells out his Lordship over the people who live in the promised land and his triumph over those who are not his people.

Verse 7 mentions 4 tribes of Israel:

“Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter”

1. Gilead – is simply called, “mine” which literally means God has dominion over it or over them. The tribes of Gad and Reuben inhabited the area known as Gilead.

2. Manasseh – is also simply called “mine” – Like the previous verse indicated with Succoth and Shechem as places God had triumph over in that region. Now the tribes of Israel that are on both sides of the Jordon are spoken of and God says he has dominion over them.

3. Ephraim is called “my helmet” – Gilead (where the tribes of Gad and Reuben dwell) and Manasseh which are tribes of Israel to the east of the Jordon while Ephraim and Judah are to the west but Ephraim is seen as strategically important with the term “helmet” being given them as it held the central position of the western side of the Jordan next to Judah. For this reason like a helmet protects the vital part of the body, the head, so Ephraim protected Judah and in doing so all of Israel.

4.  Judah – is simply called “My Scepter” – Which is simply a term for ruler or in this context God’s ruling tribe. Some commentators believe “My Scepter” should be translated “My lawgiver” but this too simply means God’s tribe from which God’s rule or law is administered from.

While verse 8 of Psalm 60 and verse 9 of Psalm 108 mentions 3 Nations:

Moab is my washbasin, upon Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph”.

  1. Moab – is simply called “my washbasin” – The Pulpit commentary explains this term well with these words,

“ ‘My washbasin’, a term of extreme contempt. The subjugation of Moab was prophesied by Balaam (Numbers 24: 17), and effected by David (2 Samuel 8: 2)”

2. Edom – is simply described by God as, “”I toss my sandal” – Ellicot in his commentary explains the meaning of this term with these words,

“The most natural explanation of this figure is that Edom is disgraced to the character of the slave to whom the conqueror tosses his sandals that they may be cleaned”.

 Remember it was Edom who had caused the original crisis for David’s cry for salvation. Now God says they are no more than slaves he tosses his dirty sandals at them to be cleaned by them.

3.  Philistia – is simply described by God as, “I shout in triumph” – This term again is simply saying that God like the other nations will triumph over this nation. This prophecy of God triumphed over Philistia was for filled in David’s time through David himself. We read of this in 2 Samuel 8: 1,

“In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines”.

So God’s special direct speaking in the previous three verses speak clearly of how he is the Sovereign Lord of the nations and this points us back to that central theme of both books one and two of the Psalms which is expressed clearly in Psalm 2: 2 – 6,

“The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

 What would all this excellent teaching from David’s original Psalm 60 say to our writer of Psalm 108 who we believe lived during and after the Jews captivity exile in Babylon?

So even though our editor / writer of Psalm 108 would have been well aware that eleven of the original tribes of Israel were gone and only maybe a handful of those lost tribes would have returned to the Promise Land after the Babylonian exile he still would have realised that God’s promise to Abraham and Jacob who became Israel of the land between Shechem and Succoth would be for their descendants was again a reality in his day.

He would have been from the tribe of Judah who was given God’s scepter the ruling tribe and the one who God’s law would be administered by.

He also would have taken to heart the direct word of God concerning that old and current enemy of Edom who God calls the one who I toss my sandal are nothing more in God’s site disgraced slaves.

So Psalm 60 in the context of our writer’s time would have spoken to him in a variety of ways on a variety of levels.

What does this portion of Psalm 60 say to us in our context of Christians living in the early part of the 21st Century?

I think we can draw three applications for us today from these verses:

1.We must realize that whenever we read in the Old Testament about God having dominion over another nation we are looking at the Sovereign rule of God over everything including the Nations of this world. Paul speaks of how Jesus is the Sovereign Lord of everything and how we must relate to this in Ephesians 1: 18 – 23,

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way”.

2. We must also realize that we like David and his people are God’s chosen  people who the world hates and opposes. We are according to Peter in 1 Peter 2: 11 are,

“Aliens and strangers in the world”

 And therefore like Christ who is the one true great-anointed king of God the non- believers of this world who are en- powered by Satan and his evil forces will oppose us. However even though we are caught up in this great and terrible spiritual battle we need to look to God for the ability to fight victoriously in this battle as Paul says in Ephesians 6: 10 – 11,

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

3. Finally even though the Old Testament spoke of victory over actual nations of this world the New Testament teaches that we are no longer involved in a battle of nation against nation but we are involved in a far greater spiritual battle as Paul goes on to speak of in Ephesians 6: 12,

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

A big mistake some Christians made in the past was that they like the extreme Muslims today thought that God called them to a Holy War against un-believing people in this world. This is not in the bible and is a distortion of the Old testaments teaching without properly coming to terms with what the New Testament teaches about how God wants us to conduct ourselves in this Gospel age that started after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ and the sending to all believers the Holy Spirit.

An interesting passage we have been looking at lately at the Church I attend sets up I believe the way God wants Christians to operate in the Gospel age we are also part of. It is the final words of Jesus to his disciples in Acts 1: 4 – 8,

“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 Just to make sure we do not miss understand what Jesus wants us to be involved in unto he comes again to end this Gospel age we have Matthews recollection of Jesus last commands to his disciples in Matthew 28: 18 – 20,

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

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

3. (10 – 13) CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S ABILITY TO SAVE US

  1. (10 – 11) Looking to God for salvation from our enemies

 “Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?

 David had to pray this prayer for help to defeat the Edomites because for some reason the first campaign against them was unsuccessful because of some kind of sin within his nation or in the army that fought them. Now in verse 10 David again speaks of how restoration to deliverance relies totally on God,

“Is it not you, O God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies?”

 This is a reminder of what not trusting in God for deliverance leads to namely defeat and despair. Derek Kidner points out that God’s restoration to deliverance is,

“Not taken for granted, the humbling lesson of God’s withdrawal is frankly faced”.

 As Christians we too must not take God’s work of salvation in our lives for granted. Paul speaks strongly on this 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. 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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.

Even this pressing on is a work of God in our lives as Paul speaks of in the previous chapter of Philippians, Philippians 2: 12 – 13,

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to full fill his good purpose”.

Notice how Paul speaks of God is at work in us as we are working on securing our salvation, which comes from him in the first place. Humanly speaking I cannot fully explain this but this is part of the mystery of God’s wonderful work of salvation in the lives of those being saved.

To the writer / editor of Psalm 108 theses two verses would have been a reminder to him that he must trust in God alone for his people’s salvation and proof of that would have been all so real as he had seen how God saved his people out of captivity exile in Babylon.

He also would had burning in his mind what being rejected by God would be like as he and the Jews who returned from exile knew they were only there because they had turned away from God and in the day of the conquest of Jerusalem,

“God no longer went out with his armies” (vs. 11)

 If we are not looking to God for our salvation we have no defence in the battles of life. I was reminded a few weeks back of what facing evil without truly trusting in God would be like when in church we had a bible reading from Acts 19 and I was fascinated by the story of some non – believing in Jesus Jews in Ephesus tried to use the name of Paul and Jesus to cast out evil spirits, then in verse 15 and 16 we heard read this,

15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding”.

Without God we are powerless and only in God are we saved through the Lord Jesus Christ. 

  1. (vs. 12)   A reminder of what not trusting God for salvation leads to

Then we read in verse 12 these amazing words,

“Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless”.

 David is recognizing here how much he and us need God’s help to be saved or delivered particularly from the powerful enemies we face in this life. David knew that when his first army came up against the forces of Edom they failed miserably and now in his prayer for restoration to deliverance he recognizes how he is totally dependant on God.

His army found out the hard way that

“The help of man is worthless”

 and so he prays for God’s aid. The fact that there is little reference to this first defeat in the historical records and the record of the resounding defeat of the Edomites in three places in the bible reveals that in the long run the defeat of the first force alluded to in 1Kings 11: 15 was only a minor set back for Israel.

Obviously at the time of the writing of Psalm 44, by the Son of Korah and Psalm, 60 by David this defeat by the Edomites at the time was very real and painful. However through the Psalm and particularly the counsel of King David the people must have turned to God for deliverance.

The result of a resounding defeat of the second army of Israel led by Joab and under him Abishai against the Edomites would have been a real boost to the faith of the people of that time and would have brought home to them the fact of David’s words of,

The help of man is worthless”.

In terms of Psalm 108 this reminder of how God dealt with Edom in former times would have been a great encouragement to them when they were experiencing trouble from the Edomites in their day.

I still painfully remember my own falling away from God in my mid teenage years ago and how I believed that so far as God was concerned I had blown it because I had walked away from God. However I learnt from wise Christian council as I came back to the Lord that my salvation did not depend on my obedience or anything else I could offer God but the fact is our contribution or efforts to save us is as David puts it “worthless”.

 Paul makes this clear in a number of places and let me just give you two passages of scripture from the writings of Paul relating to this,

Romans 5: 6 – 8,

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

And

Ephesians 1: 4 – 10,

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ”.

 So even though I left God he did not leave me and once I realised my salvation did not depend on my miserable contributions I realised the heart of the Gospel message, which is truly “Good News”. Note Paul’s words again in Ephesians 1: 6 and 7,

“To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us”.

Notice how Paul attributes our salvation as given to us, in fact lavished on us “in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”. We can do nothing but rest in, trust in God for our salvation as David said again in verse 11;

For the help of man is worthless”.

  1. (vs. 13)   Salvation relies on trusting in God.

The final verse confirms that our salvation relies on trusting in God alone;

“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies”.

In the time of David writing this Psalm 60, Israel was fighting desperate wars on two fronts.

David was fighting in the North against the Assyrians and Joab in the South East against the Edomites and before Joab went to the Edomite conflict some kind of Israeli defeat had occurred in a battle against the Edomites.

Now David prays for God’s help to defeat his enemies and in doing so declared his utter dependence on God for this salvation that would lead to this victory over his enemies. David has the confidence in God that only true faith in God can bring when he declares,

“With God we will gain the victory”.

Spurgeon writes,

“From God all power proceeds, and all we do well is done by divine operation; but still we, as soldiers of the great king, are to fight, and to fight valiantly too. Divine working is not an argument for human inaction”.

To the writer / editor of Psalm 108 this final verse from Psalm 60, which became his final verse of his Psalm 108 would have been a powerful encouragement in the battle of his people in his day. He and his readers or even hearers would have been reminded that if they trust in God they would have victory and God would trample down their enemies as that final verse says.

We too can take encouragement from this final verse that if we trust in God alone for our salvation we to will have victory in this life and the next and no matter what enemies of God we might face they will be trampled down by God particularly in the end.

My final offering of scripture is Paul’s prediction of the final victory of God over his enemies seen in the Lordship of Christ when he returns spoken in Philippians 2: 9 – 11,

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

Instead of finishing with a new poem / song for this Psalm I will follow the lead of the editor / writer of Psalm 108 and offer the words of my song I wrote for my Psalm 57 talk with the chorus I wrote since publishing that talk which was written when I composed a new song based on that Psalm and then I will share the prayer I wrote for that same talk as well.

GOD’S LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS

(Based on Psalm 57 and Psalm 108: 1 – 5)

 

Trust in God’s love and faithfulness

Because of Jesus Christ

Who came to earth to die for us

And rise to give us life

No matter what life brings us

Be sure to realize

That Christ is right beside us

To help us in our lives.

Chorus:

 

God’s love and faithfulness

In Jesus we see

God’s love and faithfulness

He’s always with me.

 

Have mercy Lord on all of us

Keep us safe Oh Lord

For Satan’s forces seek our souls

Remind us of your word

Help us shelter beneath your wings

When Satan’s forces come

God has promised love to us

Salvation through his Son.

 

Chorus:

 

I cry to God for help from him

I know he hears my prayers

I know he sends his help to us

He always knows and cares.

He saved us by his amazing grace

By sending Christ to die

All we have to do is trust

And love will raise us high,

 

Chorus:

 

My heart is steadfast trusting God

Who gives us all his love.

And I will sing of what his done

And raise his name above.

I’ll go into this world and praise

God’s love and faithfulness

Join the fellowship of praise

Proclaiming God’s the best.

 

Chorus:

 

God’s love and faithfulness

In Jesus we see

God’s love and faithfulness

He’s always with me.

PRAYER:

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

PSALM 107 TALK: THANKS TO THE LORD FOR HIS UNFAILING LOVE

PSALM 107 TALK: THANKS TO THE LORD FOR HIS UNFAILING LOVE

 (A Psalm that pictures God’s great love being real and unfailing in four ways and so even though we might sometimes feel lost in a dry barren time of life, imprisoned by our sinful ways, suffering from serious illness or feeling like we are all at sea in a major storm of life we only have to call out to God and his love will restore us.)

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

INTRODUCTION

I can still vividly remember the night I was travelling home from work in the city on a train to my home and reading a book about a number of Christians who had been arrested in China during the 1970’s cultural -revolution and had been thrown into prison or killed. One man I read about spent six years during those dark years locked up in a gloomy dingy cell and he had no contact with anyone else during those six years except for his guards who gave him basic food and water.

The Christian man who was locked up in the same prison cell for six years spent a lot of his time trying to recall bible verses he had learnt and to help him not forget them he scratched them on the walls of his cell. He eventually had no more room for bible verses on his walls but he said when he was eventually released that the whole time he was locked up he never felt alone because he believed the Lord Jesus was always with him and through his word that covered the walls of his cell and through prayer he had the feeling of Jesus always being close to him.

I wrote down immediately this mans testimony in a chorus of a new song;

“Never alone, never alone

For the Lord is beside me wherever I roam.

Never alone, never alone

With the Spirit inside me he’s made me his own”.

 I then tried to think what verses from the bible I would write on my imaginary cell walls and three of these bible verses became the inspiration for the three verses of my new song:

  1. Matthew 28: 20, “Surely I am with you always, to the ends of the age”.

Lo I am with you to the ends of the age

That is his promise on the bibles page.

Jesus is with me through joy and distress

And he is the one whose desire is to bless. 

  1. Psalm 23: 4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me”.

 Though I may walk through the valley of death

I have no fear for his overcome death.

Jesus did die on the cross for my sin

He’ll raise me to heaven to feast there with him.

  1. 1 Peter 2: 11, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world”

 I am a pilgrim in a foreign land

But the Lord gently guides me by his loving hand.

Wherever I wander yes wherever I roam

The Lord is beside me and I’m never alone”.

 The words of my song were taken up by a local church rock group of that time and their song which featured my words won that year a gospel song award for best Gospel song of the year in a local song competition although I have my own tune to the song I sometimes sing these days.

Psalm 107, the first Psalm in book 5 of Psalms is a Psalm that expresses the truth that no matter what might happen to us God’s love is always with us helping to deliver us and of course helping to make real the fact that in God we are never alone.

This Psalm is closely related to the two concluding Psalms in book 4, namely Psalms 105 and 106 and therefore the composition of books 4 and 5 of Psalms must have taken place around the same time in Israel’s history. Allan Harman points out that all three Psalms feature the opening words, “Give thanks to the Lord”. Also each Psalm is around the same length and Psalm 107 seems to be a answer to the prayer request in Psalm 106: 47 which reads,

“Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise”.

 This prayer request is obviously a prayer uttered by a person caught up in the Babylonian exile and we know God answered that prayer by bringing the people of Israel back to their homeland through the defeat of the Babylonians by the Persians and because the Persians had a policy of helping to resettle captive people to their former homelands the Jews returned to Israel under the rule of the Persians but free to settle and rebuild their homes and culture again.

We also know from the record of the dead sea scrolls that Psalms in book 4 and 5 seem to be still coming together some 300 hundred years before the coming of Christ which also points to these final two books of Psalms being edited and finalized after the return from exile.

Why Psalms 105, 106 and 107 did not stay together in book 4 of Psalms is a mystery but the answer could be that what Psalm 107 is speaking about is part of the joyful return from exile that seems to be a theme of book five and not so much a theme of book 4.

The writer of these three Psalms could well be the same person but we have no way of proving this one way or another. However it is clear he lived both before the return from exile where he prayed for God to save his people from exile in Psalm 106: 47 and then he thanked God for that salvation in Psalm 107: 2 – 3,

“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.”

Psalms 105, 106 and 107 could have been written by they follow a similar general pattern and deal with the same historical even, the deliverance of the Jews from bondage in captivity in their exile in Babylon.

So with the general theme of giving thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love in terms of the deliverance of the Jews from the Babylonian exile my outline for this Psalm is:

  1. (1 – 3)   A CALL TO THANK GOD FOR HIS UNFAILING LOVE

 

  1. (vs.1)   A call to thank God for his unfailing love
  2. (2 – 3) God’s unfailing love seen in the return from exile in Babylon

 

  1. (4 – 9)   GOD’S LOVE SEEN IN THE IMAGE OF BEING LOST IN THE

                     DESERT

 

  1. (4 – 5)      The thirsty desert experience identified
  2. (vs. 6)     The cry to God for help expressed
  3. (7 – 8)    God’s love satisfies our thirst and hunger
  4. (vs. 9)      The benefits of this deliverance spelt out

 

  1. (10 – 16) GOD’S LOVE SEEN IN THE RELEASE OF PEOPLE IN PRISON

 

  1. (10 – 12)   The experience of the dark prison cell identified
  2. (13 – 16) God’s love seen in how he saves us from prison
  3. (14 – 15)  The deliverance God gives
  4. (vs. 16)    The benefits of this deliverance spelt out

 

  1. (17 – 22)   GOD’S LOVE SEEN IN HOW HE HEALS OUR SICKNESSES

 

  1. (17 – 18)   The experience of sickness identified
  2. (vs. 19)    The cry to God for help expressed
  3. (20 – 21)   The deliverance God gives
  4. (vs. 22)    The praise for this deliverance spelt out

 

  1. (23 – 32)   GOD’S LOVE SEEN IN SAVING PEOPLE AT SEA

 

  1. (23- 27)     The experience of being lost at sea
  2. (vs. 28)     The cry to God for help expressed
  3. (29 – 30)   The deliverance God gives
  4. (31 – 32)   The praise for this deliverance spelt out

 

  1. (33 – 43)   GOD’S LOVE AND JUDGMENT IN ACTION

 

  1. (33 – 42)   The experience of love and judgment principle
  2. (vs. 43)     Take note and thank God for his love

 

  1. (1 – 3)   A CALL TO THANK GOD FOR HIS UNFAILING LOVE

 

  1. (vs.1)   A call to thank God for his unfailing love

 As I said in my introduction this Psalm starts with the same call to worship that Psalms 105 and 106 start with, namely,

“Give thanks to the Lord”

 and in Psalms 106 and 107,

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good”

 These seem to be a common ancient Hebrew call to worship suggesting this Psalm and Psalm 106 and maybe Psalm 105 were designed for corporate worship use which we will see is true of many Psalms in book five of Psalms. This worship seems to be taking place back in Jerusalem after the Jews had returned from exile in Babylon as the next two verses indicate. The call to worship the goodness of God also includes his love as well,

“His love endures forever”.

 Albert Barnes points out that the Hebrew word for love here is “Chesed” which is a Hebrew word that means mercy and Barnes writes,

“Chesed is more general than our word ‘mercy’ and our word means ‘favor shown to the guilty’, the Hebrew word means kindness, goodness, benignity in general and it is celebrated in the Psalm before us”.

 “Chesed” in the New Testament becomes grace which is the underserved love of God that Paul speaks about this way in Ephesians 2: 4 – 5,

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

So the Jews did not deserve to be brought back from exile in Babylon but because their God, the God of the bible is both good and loving he chose to hear their prayer for help and even though they did not deserve it he delivered them out of the bondage of exile.

Out of the love God has delivered us from the bondage of sin as Paul says,

Made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions”.

This then will be the great theme we will now explore together in the rest of this amazing Psalm.

  1. (2 – 3) God’s unfailing love seen in the return from exile in Babylon

This Psalm wants its readers and if used in Temple worship, hearers, to thank God for his goodness and unfailing love for there return from exile. This is made clear by what verses 2 and 3 have to say,

“Let the redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south”.

 This is clearly speaking of the Jews return from exile in Babylon with its reference to the redeemed, the people of Israel saved from the hands of the Babylonians who where gathered from lands from all points of the compass.

This return to Israel God’s Promised Land for his people is likened in its wording here to the great salvation of Israel way back in the time of Moses when God redeemed his people from slavery in Egypt as we read Moses singing about in his great song in Exodus 15 verse 13,

“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling”.

 It took forty years back in Moses time but God led his people to the Promised Land of Israel and then after what was left of Israel four hundred years before the coming of Christ he caused his people to be trapped in a foreign land again, Babylon where after 70 years he again,

“Redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands”.

 The second Exodus probably happened over a number of years as Jews from Babylon in the North East of Israel returned bit by bit but other Jews who had fled or been taken by other conquering nations like the Assyrians also returned to their homeland of Israel thus the reference to all the points of the compass from which God gathered them back to the Promised Land. This includes Egypt to the south of Israel where many Jews fled during the Babylonian conquest of Judah.

This incredible turn of events in history of that time is attributed to God foretold by many prophets many years before it happened like Isaiah in Isaiah 51: 9 – 11 which starts with the story of God’s redeeming hand in leading them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land and ends with the prediction of the same God doing something similar in redeeming and guiding his people out of bondage in exile and back to the Promised Land of God again,

“Awake, awake, arm of the Lord, clothe yourself with strength! Awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through? 10 Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made a road in the depths of the sea so that the redeemed might cross over? 11 Those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away”.

The word redeemed takes on a special meaning in the New Testament as Paul speaks of in Galatians 3: 13 – 14,

 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit”.

 Redeemed here is God paying for our sins through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross which brings us into the blessing of Abraham and the covenant which is not a land in human terms like Abraham’s descendants received but a eternal inheritance which the writer of the letter to the Hebrews speaks of in Hebrews 9: 15,

“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant”.

  1. (4 – 9)   GOD’S LOVE SEEN IN THE IMAGE OF BEING LOST IN THE DESERT

The writer of Psalm 107 now launches into four images of God’s deliverance and Leopold theorizes that each of these four images of deliverance is,

“Figurative illustrations of Israel’s experiences in the exile”.

I think he is right but these images of God’s deliverance can be used as images of our salvation that we can experience in this life and my opening up of each of these four human experiences will feature how they apply to our salvation from sin in Christ. The four experiences spoken of follow the pattern of the experience identified, a cry out to God by those trapped in the experience for help, the deliverance God gives from that experience and the benefits or the praise of that deliverance spelt out.

So I will now comment on each of these four experience’s of God’s deliverance as a picture of our Salvation in Christ using the fourfold formula of the writer of this Psalm 107, which is,

  1. The experience identified
  2. The cry to God for help expressed
  3. The deliverance God gives
  4. The benefits or the praise to God of this deliverance spelt out

 

  1. (vss. 4-5) The thirsty desert experience identified

The first experience that is given that represents the people of Israel’s experience in exile is that of being lost in a desert or wilderness and this is spelt out in verses 4 and 5,

“Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away”.

Some commentators speak of this image as that of a trading caravan that had lost it’s way in the desert area on its journey to Israel. Others say it could be the very real experience many returning Jews might have had, as all paths into Israel from the north, west and south would have led the people having to pass through a dry desert area.

As an image of the exile experience, Israel was being captive in Babylon and this would have been like being lost in a dry desert area. In exile they would have felt like they were a long way from home, lost feeling hungry and thirsty as their very lives ebbed away.

 Spurgeon makes the Christian salvation application of the thirsty desert experience with these words,

Ah, the way of a sinner, convinced of sin, is indeed a solitary way; he has a sorrow, which he cannot tell to anybody else, a stranger intermeddled not with his grief”.

 Jesus spoke with the women at the well who because of her many sins of adultery was as Jesus saw her spiritually very thirsty and so are so many people today as they are so far away from God, lost in their many sins which causes them to have a great spiritual thirst. This spiritual thirst they seek to quench in so many unsuccessful ways but as Jesus said to that women at the well only he can quench our deep desire to know God and be right with him as he said to that women in John 4: 13 – 14,

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This water Jesus is speaking about is his Spirit, which he gives to all people who put their faith in him and who ask him into their lives. 

  1. (vs. 6)   The cry to God for help expressed

We will see that each time the Psalmist identifies an exile experience he tells us how this exile experience image, which in this section of the Psalm is being lost in a thirsty desert causes the participants of the experience to call out to God for help.

So those who felt lost in a thirsty desert call out to God as verse 6 says,

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress”.

 David at the start of Psalm 63 cries out from what seems a desert area with a cry of deep spiritual thirst in verse 1 of that Psalm,

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water”.

 David like Psalm 107: 6 finds God’s deliverance from his distress expressed by David in Psalm 63 this way in verse 5 of that Psalm,

“My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you”.

 For a more detailed look at God quenching our spiritual thirst I recommend you look at my Psalm talk on Psalm 63.

But for now I would like to suggest that when you might feel spiritually thirsty or hungry you should follow the advice of the writer of Psalm 107 and,

“Cry out to the Lord in your trouble”

 And I believe as David found when he did that your,

“Soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods”

 And you like David will sing praises to God with your mouth for his wonderful deliverance from that thirsty desert experience. As Jesus promises in Matthew 5: 6,

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (or as some translations put it, ‘they will be satisfied’)”.

  1. (7 – 8) God’s love satisfies our thirst and hunger

Continuing the pattern of the writer of Psalm 107 of these exile experience images we come to the third part, which deals with how God answers this call with his love.

The writer of Psalm 107 then speaks of how God actually delivered his people from the thirsty desert experience in verses 7,

“He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle”

The lost caravan in the thirsty desert idea seems to fit well with this description of God’s deliverance from the thirsty desert experience for it speaks of how God led them by a straight way to a city they could settle in and of course find food and water.

Some say that the city God led them to is his holy city of Jerusalem where most of the returning Jewish exiles from Babylon came back to. However the image is of a God not letting his people perish in exile or in this image in a dry thirsty desert but that he would deliver them or save them back to his Promised Land represented here as the city they could settle in.

The writer of Psalm 107 goes on to say this about God’s deliverance in verse 8,

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men”.

The Jews in exile did not deserve God’s hand of deliverance but he did it anyway because he is a God of love who continually does wonderful deeds for unworthy sinful men and women like you and me.

Paul spoke often about this love of God we don’t deserve saving us which he spoke of using the word grace and in Ephesians 2: 8 and 9 he simply says,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast”.

Paul’s only boast was in the Lord as he says in 2 Corinthians 10: 17,

“But, let him who boasts boast in the Lord”.

We can continually know God’s deliverance and guiding in our lives if we but follow the advice that Proverbs 3: 5 and 6 gives us,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”.

  1. (vs. 9)   The benefits of this deliverance spelt out

The final fourth part of each of the exile experience images is the benefits of this deliverance that God gives to those who experience his deliverance and in the case of the thirsty desert experience verse 9 aptly says,

“For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things”.

So the lost caravan or the lost returning Jewish pilgrim from the Babylonian exile will find in God’s deliverance not only safe haven in the city they can now settle in but they will find satisfaction to their thirst and a filling up of their bellies with God’s good things.

Spurgeon makes the spiritual interpretation with these words,

“The spiritual sense is, however, the more rich in instruction. The Lord sets us longing and then completely satisfies us. That longing leads us into solitude, separation, thirst, faintness and self despair, and all these conduct us to prayer, faith, divine guidance, satisfying of the soul’s thirst, and rest: the good hand of the Lord is to be seen in the whole process and in the divine result”.

 I know I have had spiritually barren times in my Christian life, often caused by my own slackness or even disobedience but through prayer and the wonderful grace of God I have found God’s hand of blessing in my life as Paul advised the Corinthian church about God’s grace blessing them and of course himself with good things in 2 Corinthians 9: 8 – 11,

 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God”.

  1. (10 – 16) GOD’S LOVE SEEN IN THE RELEASE OF PEOPLE IN PRISON

The next exile experience image is one of being a prisoner in a dark prison locked up in chains. In my opening up of this image I will follow the writer of Psalm 107 pattern we saw in the two sections, which is:

  1. The experience identified
  2. The cry to God for help expressed
  3. The deliverance God gives
  4. The benefits or praise of this deliverance spelt out

 

  1. (10 – 12)   The experience of the dark prison cell identified

 The exile image here could have been the very literal experience of some of the Jewish exiles in the seventy years or so they were in captivity in Babylon because their Babylonian over – Lords would have locked up many exiled Jews as a way of keeping them under the thumb so to speak when they lived in the Babylonian kingdom.

However the image would also reflect the general gloomy and dark feeling of a people locked up in a foreign land as exiles. Verses 10 – 12 express this in these words,

“Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains,

11 because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High. 12 So he subjected them to bitter labour; they stumbled, and there was no one to help”.

The captivity of the people of God was God’s punishment foretold by many prophets over hundreds of years before it actually happened. The Northern kingdom known as Israel was conquered by the Assyrians which caused their captivity in 740BC.

This conquest was completed in 722BC when The Assyrian king Shalmaneser V fully conquered Samaria and either killed the inhabitants or dispersed them throughout his kingdom as exiled people. So the Northern Kingdom exiles were scattered to many parts of the known world of that time.

Some of the Northern kingdom people would have escaped to the southern kingdom of Judah but in 597BC that kingdom was conquered by a foreign power in the form of the Babylonians. The deportation of people from the southern kingdom to captivity in Babylon took place over three periods of time, 597BC, 586BC and finally in 581BC when most of the elite, educated and gifted Jews who were not killed in the conquest were carried off into exile in Babylon leaving a small remnant of very poor uneducated people left to live as slaves under Babylonian rule.

This all came about because of the peoples turning away from the God of the Bible and because this turning away led them into all kinds of terrible sins like infant sacrifice and many other terrible practices done in the name of worshipping God.

Psalm 107 verse 11 expresses the reason for the people becoming prisoners in a foreign land this way,

“Because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High”.

So the exile experience is pictured here as being like prisoners in a deep gloomy cell, being locked up in that prison cell in iron chains and as verse 12 puts it,

“Subjected to bitter labour; they stumbled, and there was no one to help”.

I cannot even imagine what it would be like to be taken from my comfortable and safe home in Australia and be taken half way around the world to a foreign country to be treated like a prisoner or a slave under cruel over – lords and feel that I have no chance of return to the country I once lived in which I called my home but that’s what happened to the Jews around the 580’s BC.

One person who was caught up in this terrible prison like experience of exile in Babylon expressed his feelings of captivity this way in Psalm 137: 1 – 4,

“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land”?”

Spurgeon makes the spiritual application of this dark prison experience image in these words,

“The spiritual case which is here figuratively described is desperate, and therefore affords the finer field for the divine interposition; some of us remember well how brightly mercy shone in our prison, and what music the fetters made when they fell off from our hands. Nothing but the Lord’s love could have delivered us; without it we must have utterly perished”.

 What Spurgeon is alluding to is the New Testament teaching of how a person lost in sin and its consequences is like a person in prison as Paul expresses so well in Romans 7: 21 – 24,

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

This is the spiritual prison that all people live in but there is a answer or a escape that God has made for us to find and Paul speaks of this in the next verse of Romans 7 verse 25,

“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”.

  1. (13 – 16) God’s love seen in how he saves us from prison

We continue the pattern the writer of Psalm 107 uses in each of his four experiences of exile images with the next part how God’s love saves us when we cry out for help.

The writer of Psalm 107 uses the same wording for the cry for help as he did in the previous cry for help in verse 6, which is,

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress”.

The Psalm writer name Asaph speaks in terms of prisoners crying out for help as an image of those in captivity crying out for release from exile in Psalm 79: 11,

“May the groans of the prisoners come before you; by the strength of your arm preserve those condemned to die”.

In this Psalm when a writer who was of the family name of Asaph wrote about the terrible destruction of the holy city of Babylon and the terrible captivity of many of its citizens he too looked forward to God’s deliverance in the words of the final verse of his Psalm, verses 13,

“Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise.”

For a more detailed treatment of the teaching on Psalm 79, look up my Psalm talk on this Psalm entitles “The glory of the forgiving God”.

For now I would like to quote my New Testament application of the concept of God setting prisoners free in that Psalm talk,

“Jesus was fully aware of his mission on earth and we see this for instance in his preaching in the Synagogue in Nazareth where he reads a small part of the prophet Isaiah and proclaims that he was full filling that prophecy today, the passage he refers to is Isaiah 61: 1 – 2 and it the Synagogue incident is recorded in Luke 4: 16 – 21,

“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Note how the Isaiah passage speaks of,

“He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners”.

 This I believe is not speaking of letting criminals free from jail but rather as the whole passage is speaking of is a freedom from spiritual bondage, which is what the mission of Jesus, was all about”. 

  1. (14 – 15) The deliverance God gives

The writer of Psalm 107 then speaks in wonderful terms what being freed from the prison of captivity would have been like for those returning Jews around 539BC, he writes,

“He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains”.

Again in my imaginary experience of being forcefully being taken away from my comfortable safe home in Australia to some foreign country to be treated as a slave and then after years of being locked up their I was given the wonderful opportunity of returning home again would be probably be the greatest feeling of happiness I could imagine.

But this is what coming to Christ is like as John Newton expressed in the first verse of his hymn “Amazing Grace”,

“Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see”.

 Paul speaks of the wonderful experience of being saved by Christ and being safe in Christ as being like “more than conquerors” in the wonderful passage of scripture in Romans 8: 31 – 37,

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 Then the writer of Psalm 107 employs his set formula of words to thank God for his loving deliverance again as we read in verse 8, this time in verse 15,

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men”.

Being like a prisoner locked up in a dark dingy prison cell in chains and finding wonderful release would be a great thing to praise the person who effected the release and in the case of the Jews being released from captivity in Babylon the person that brought about their release was God himself.

This means they would have thanked God for his unfailing love and wonderful deeds in releasing them from captivity in Babylon. Many Psalms in this final book of Psalms, book five will express this thanks and praise for what God did for them in their return from captivity in Babylon like the words of Psalm 147: 1 – 7,

“Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp”.

So we should thank God with great praise for as men and women who have come to be released from the prison of sin by the amazing grace of God given to us in Christ and what he did for us on cross we have much to be thankful for. As Paul expressed so well in Ephesians 1: 6 – 9,

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

  1. (vs. 16)   The benefits of this deliverance spelt out

The benefits of God releasing his people from the exile experience of a dark prison cell where they are locked up in chains is expressed in what seems at first a strange turn of phrase in verse 15,

“For he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron”.

These words were a puzzle to me unto I read Albert Barnes explanation of them,

“The gates of brass refer probably to Babylon, and the idea is, that their deliverance had been as if the brass gates of that great city had been broken down to give them free egress from their captivity”.

Barnes points out that the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Persian was predicted years before by the prophet Isaiah in similar terms in Isaiah 45: 2,

“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron”.

The metals bronze and particularly iron were not only the alloys used to make prisoners chains and shackles and city gates but they also represent the strength of so called human super powers like the Babylonians of their day yet even this powerful super power of Babylon was not strong enough against the power and might of the God of heaven and earth, the God of the bible.

God used a new world super power, the Persians to smash their city gates so that his people could be freed from the prison of captivity in exile in Babylon to again walk free in the Promised Land of Israel.

Spurgeon again gives us the perfect spiritual New Testament application of the benefits of God breaking our spiritual bonds of bronze and Iron with these words,

“The Lord breaks the strongest gates and bars when the time comes to set free his prisoners: and spiritually the Lord Jesus has broken the most powerful of spiritual bonds and made us free indeed. Brass and iron are as tow before the flame of Jesus’ love. The gates of hell shall not prevail against us, neither shall the bars of the grave detain us. Those of us who have experienced his redeeming power must and will praise the Lord for the wonders of his grace displayed on our behalf”. 

  1. (17 – 22)   GOD’S LOVE SEEN IN HOW HE HEALS OUR SICKNESSES

 In my opening up of this third image of the experience of exile I will follow the writer of Psalm 107 pattern we saw in the last two sections, which is:

  1. The experience identified
  2. The cry to God for help expressed
  3. The deliverance God gives
  4. The praise for this deliverance spelt out

Note how the pattern changes in the fourth part in this fourth section of the Psalm as it closes not with the benefits of God’s deliverance from the sickness experience but is a call to praise God for his deliverance from exile.

We look then at the first pattern part:

  1. (17 – 18)   The experience of sickness identified

 The third experience of exile image is that of sickness, which follows the well, established Old Testament teaching that sickness is a result of sin or rebellion to God’s law. This teaching is checked or qualified by the book of Job who turned out to be an exception to this teaching of scripture for Job’s tormentors all used this teaching to explain why Job was suffering so much. However we know from the book of Job that he only suffered because God wanted to test Job and his passing of that test would bring glory to God.

Job passed the test as he did not curse God even though he came close to doing just that and in the end Job’s life was doubly blessed by God after his time of suffering was taken away from him.

Even David speaks of a time of sickness he had as a result of God’s disciplining him in Psalm 6: 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?”

A much more in depth discussion of why we suffer according to the bible is in my Psalm 6 talk.

So here in Psalm 107 the image of the experience of exile as sickness is expressed this way in verses 17 and 18,

“Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.18 They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death”.

Allan Harman points out that the expression; “some became fools” is the opposite of Proverbs 1:7 definition of the wise,

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

This means that to not fear God expressed by those that Psalm 107 verse 17 is speaking about in terms of being rebellious in their ways to God is to become a fool. Many non – believers today advocate that people who believe in God and fear God are fools or people evidencing not much intelligence but two Psalms, Psalm 14 verse 1 and Psalm 53 verse 1 say,

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

Paul speaks of the effects of sin on the thinking processes of mankind this way in Romans 1: 21 – 23,

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

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

It is not hard today to see the effects of sin as sickness, take the case of an alcoholic who can and do suffer many serious illnesses like liver failure or heart disease and may other chronic and deadly illnesses.

Verse 18 speaks of the seriousness of the sicknesses this writer of Psalm 107 is alluding to as he speaks of it in terms of loosing ones apatite and coming close to death,

18 They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death”.

Loosing ones apatite even today is a big sign that a person is very sick and usually regaining ones apatite is a sure sign that a person is getting better.

Trying to keep people holding up their natural fighting bodily system when they are sick by eating food can be a real challenge which I have just experienced when my wife had the flue recently.

Spurgeon again makes the New Testament spiritual application of sickness and the loss of apatite with these words,

“Thus it is with souls afflicted with a sense of sin, they cannot find comfort in the choicest promises, but turn away with loathing even from the gospel, so that they gradually decay into the grave of despair. The mercy is that though near the gates of death they are not yet inside the sepulcher”. 

  1. (vs. 19)   The cry to God for help expressed

Then the writer of Psalm 107 uses the same word formula of the past two exile experience images for the people crying out to God with the sickness experience cry,

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress”.

This crying out to the Lord for release from exile was what Jeremiah said the people had to do to end their 70 years of exile in Babylon as he told the exiles in his letter to them in Jeremiah 29: 10 – 14,

“This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

This crying out to God or this prayer will be used by God as part of his plan to deliver them from the awful captivity in exile in Babylon. This is yet another example of God working out his good will through the prayers of his people so when we find ourselves or other friends or family sick God word encourages us to commit them to the Lord in prayer.

I would like to share two verses from the New Testament that encourages us to pray for the sick with confidence that God will answer us.

The first verse is a general call for us to pray with confidence for any need we have in this life which includes sickness or any other problem or difficulty is Hebrews 4: 16,

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

Note this verse speaks of God’s throne as the throne of grace which means that we don’t deserve God’s answering of out prayers but because he is a God of love and particularly grace he will help us even in our times of the need of healing and help when we are sick.

The second verse or set of verses speaks directly to what we should do when a fellow believer arw sick and it is in James 5: 13 – 15,

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.”

Some have suggested that the anointing of oil was a New Testament times version of administering medicine or at least a practical physical comforting remedy. I believe this does not have to be carried out in a formal way but that any group of church members can act as elders when they pray with and over a very sick person.

For me the most encouraging aspect of what James is saying here is the word about offering our prayer for the sick in faith and how God honors such prayers with the word he will make them well. Of course the healing of a person can take time and if it does this can prove to be a great test of faith for both the prayers and the person being prayed for.

Sometimes of course the making the person well is there death as for the true believer’s death is not the end but a wonderful gateway into the throne of grace where there is no more sickness, crying etc. because we are with the Lord in his home in heaven forever.

  1. (20 – 21)   The deliverance God gives

We come then to the third part of the writer of Psalm 107 formula for these images of the experience of exile and in the case of the experience of sickness he says this about God’s deliverance in verse 20,

“He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave”

Albert Barnes aptly comments on this verse saying,

“He sent his word, and healed them – He did it by a word, it was necessary for him merely to give a command, and the disease left them”.

God achieves all that he achieves through his word, he spoke and the world was made, he spoke and God’s people’s enemies were defeated. The mighty Babylonian empire might have thought like all the super powers of history even those today that they are invincible yet the Babylonians turned out to be no match in the end for the Persians and the Persians in the end were no match for the Greeks and the Greeks in the end were no match for the Romans.

World powers come and go but the word of God lasts forever as Peter declares quoting the prophet Isaiah in 1 Peter 1: 24 – 25,

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

And this is the word that was preached to you”.

I lived through the time of the great super power of communistic U.S.S.R which opening preached that the idea of God was dead.

They had a policy that said that anyone who believed in God didn’t deserve to live. They felt that they had all power in this life and that they were invincible. I remember praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ who loved in Russia and other parts of the U.S.S, R and at times I felt that this super power would go on forever terrorising the church of God on earth. Yet how quickly it fell into a heap and the word of God that regime opposed and sought to do away with triumphed over them and today the church of God and his word is stronger in Russia than it has ever been.

This is the kind of thing Psalm 107 is speaking about when it says that God healed his people and rescued them from the grave.

Then we have the Psalm 107 formula verse about God’s deliverance in verse 21,

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men”.

 God heals our sicknesses out of his unfailing love and the greatest sickness of all is sickness of sin which even a supposed healthy man or women has and through the Lord Jesus Christ and what he did for us on the cross we are healed from the great sickness of sin as Isaiah foretold long before the coming of Jesus in Isaiah 53: 4 – 6,

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”.

Such is the love of God expressed in Jesus Christ that our great sickness of sin has been healed by what Jesus did on the cross as the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 2: 9,

 “But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”.

  1. (vs. 22)   The praise for this deliverance spelt out

The writer breaks from his formula a little hear and instead of speaking of the benefits of God’s exile experience of deliverance he speaks of celebrating the many benefits of that deliverance in Old Testament style worship, he writes,

“Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy”.

In the Old Testament all formal worship involved some kind of sacrificial offering and this section as we have seen dealt with the sickness of sin, which had a number of specific sacrifice procedures, attached to it. James Burton Coffman makes a interesting point about this command to offer thank offering sacrifice for God’s dealing with the peoples sins in his deliverance from Babylonian exile,

“These stanzas define sin as disobedience and show its temporal (vs. 10), personal (vs. 12) and eternal (vs. 18) results. The offering of sacrifice, as commanded here, is related to this, because only in connection with redemption from sin does the Psalm enjoin sacrifice”.

So the writer of Psalm 107 wants the people now delivered from the bondage of captivity in exile to thank God with formal sacrificial worship that also involved lots of singing that speak of the great works of God for his people.

Coffman goes on to point out the New Testament application of this,

“In the New Testament, we are told what such a sacrifice is, ‘it is the fruit of our lips which make confession to his name”

Coffman gives us the New Testament reference of Hebrews 13: 15,

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name”.

 The whole sacrificial system of the Old Testament was done away with or superseded by the death and resurrection of Christ as again the writer to the Hebrews spells out in Hebrews 9: 11 – 15,

 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!  15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

Paul speaks of how we are to worship God because of the mercy or grace of God shown to us through Christ and his death for us in Romans 12: 1,

“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”.

Worship here goes beyond what we do when we gather together in Church, as true worship in Paul’s mind is sacrificial daily service to the Lord for what he has done for us.

  1. (23 – 32)   GOD’S LOVE SEEN IN SAVING PEOPLE AT SEA
  1. (23- 27)     The experience of being lost at sea

Following the same four- part presentation formula for the fourth and last time the writer speaks of the exile and their deliverance being like the lost at sea experience. This is an interesting image for a Jewish person of that time to use, as Israel was not noted for sea faring people. However they would have had merchants bringing cargo in from the coast to Jerusalem that was sent to Israel by boat and many of these merchants would have told stories of wild sea going voyages.

Also many Jews returning from other than exile in Babylon could have come by ship and also could have experienced what the writer speaks of in these verses. He describes the lost at sea experience this way in verses 23 – 27,

“Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.

24 They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep. 25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. 26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end”.

I have only once been stuck in a small boat at sea with a massive storm approaching and it was when I was in my late teens my friends and I borrowed a boat to go snorkelling of the coast of Sydney. The small boat we were in motor would not start as we became aware of a large thunderstorm approaching. The feelings my friends and I had at that time were simply the feeling of terror and fear. Fortunately a passing fishing boat saw and heard us and worked out we were in trouble so he came over and offered us a tow back to the safe harbor we had come from which we gladly accepted.

The writer of Psalm 107 makes the following four observations about the lost at sea experience:

  1. These men who were lost were experienced merchant seamen (vs. 23)
  2. These men saw the wonderful creation of God which was the sea (vs. 24)
  3. These men realised that God caused the storm (vs. 25)
  4. These men were tossed about and terrified by the storm at sea (vss. 26 – 27)

Let me make some brief comments on each of these four observations of the lost as sea experience:

  1. These men who were lost were experienced merchant seamen (vs. 23)

Unlike my friends and I who went out in a small boat when I was a teenager these men in the lost at sea experience were experienced seaman that the writer of Psalm 107 calls “merchants” and they knew the power and might of the ocean as verse 27 says they travelled on “mighty waters”.

These experienced seaman merchants remind me of the experienced Galilee fishermen who went out on the sea of Galilee with Jesus recorded in Mark 4: 35 – 41. These disciple fishermen knew the water ways of the sea of Galilee like the back of their hand yet verse 38 tells that after a furious storm came upon them they also became terrified,

 “Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Note how these experienced fishermen thought they were about to drown owing to the helpless situation they were in. The day I was stuck in a boat on an ocean I too thought I was going to drown.

  1. These men saw the wonderful creation of God, which was the sea (vs. 24)

It seems these merchants were God fearing souls as verse 24 says,

“24 They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep”.

Any right thinking man or women must wonder if there is a God when they see the vast beauty of the sea or oceans. I have been out on the sea on a number of cruise ships and have been a taken back by the vast and mighty expanse one can see when you are out on the mighty oceans of this world.

These men for some reason knew that the great God of heaven and earth created what they saw all around them wonderfully.

As Psalm 95: 3 – 5 says,

“For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.The sea is his, for he

made it, and his hands formed the dry land”.

  1. These men realised that God caused the storm (vs. 25)

Then it seems verse 25 says that these experienced merchant seamen realised that God had sent the great storm on them,

“For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves”.

Leupold argues that this storm is in fact a figurative description of the Jews experience of exile and captivity in Babylon, he writes,

“For that matter, nations often use this very figure when they say that the ship of state is threatened”.

A mighty storm in the form of the Babylonians swept over Israel and like the backwash of a tidal wave Israel was swept into cruel and devastating captivity in Babylon. Like these experienced merchant sailors Israel must have realised that their captivity in exile was a result of God’s judgment of their many sins over many generations.

  1. These men were tossed about and terrified by the storm at sea (vss. 26 – 27)

The image presented in verses 26 and 27 is that of a terrifying ordeal many sailors have experienced when travelling on the oceans and seas of the world. Verses 26 – 27 then tell us this about the great storm that came upon these desperate men,

“26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away.27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end”.

The waves were so large that as the ship went up to the tops of them it was like they were heading for the heavens or the sky and as they went down them it was like they were descending to the depths of the earth.

Then we read that these experienced sailors lost their courage,

“In their peril their courage melted away”.

Just like the fishermen disciples on the sea of Galilee in Mark 4 they were in fear of their lives so great was the storm that came on them and so helpless did they feel. The effect of all this is described in verse 27,

“They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end”.

This description of the sailors fear and despair at the height of the storm again is a strong picture of the fear and despair the people of Israel felt in exile in Babylon.

The book of Lamentations records beautifully what happened to Israel at the time of going in to exile and I have chosen just one passage from that book to give you the idea of what it must have been like, Lamentations 1: 3 – 5,

After affliction and harsh labour, Judah has gone into exile. She dwells among the nations; she finds no resting place. All who pursue her have overtaken her in the midst of her distress. The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to her appointed festivals. All her gateways are desolate, her priests groan, her young women grieve, and she is in bitter anguish.Her foes have become her masters; her enemies are at ease. The Lord has brought her grief because of her many sins. Her children have gone into exile, captive before the foe”.

  1. (vs. 28)     The cry to God for help expressed

Using the same wording for the past three exile experience images the writer of Psalm 107 tells us what these merchant sailors did,

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress”.

 The disciples we saw cried out to Jesus in the middle of their storm on the Sea of Galilee in verse 38,

“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

The disciples don’t seem to be showing much faith in Jesus as Jesus acknowledges in verse 40 of Mark 4, with these words,

“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

As I have said before the prophet Jeremiah encouraged the exiles in Babylon to cry out to the Lord when they were in the midst of the storm of captivity and this four times repeated verse is probably a good summary of what the people actually did and what God did in response to that crying out to him.

I would like to give you two encouraging verses about the value of prayer when we are in distress or facing problems and difficulties and the first is from the lips of David in Psalm 18: 6,

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears”.

The second is from the New Testament, Philippians 4: 6 – 7,

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

  1. (29 – 30)   The deliverance God gives

The deliverance God wrought for his people in 539BC when the Persians defeated the Babylonians was like the stilling of a great storm and is expressed so well in verse 29, that simply says,

“He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed”.

This stilling of the storm is very reminiscent of the great stilling of the storm by Jesus in Mark 4 and we read in 39 of that chapter,

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

Such is the power of God seen also in Jesus who proves his divinity by simply speaking and the wind and the waves obey him. God speaks in the history of the world and the so-called super powers of this world are smashed and hushed.

This is a great encouragement to me as I have been under attack from some atheists lately who have been trying to tell me my so called great God is a myth and I am living a delusion in trusting and believing in him. Yet history tells me God is alive and he has made himself known in so many ways not to mention the over – throw of the Babylonians by the Persians to send his people home and of course Jesus proves his divinity by his ability to still the storm.

Then in verse 30 we read,

“They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven”.

The stilling the storm experience image mirrors the facts of the Jews return from exile in Babylon. They were glad when the Babylonian storm was stilled and when through the unusual resettling policy of the conquering Persians they were glad when they were able to return to their much-desired homeland.

Spurgeon describes what is going on here in verse 30 with these words,

“Then are they glad because they be quiet. No one can appreciate this verse unless he has been in a storm at sea. No music can be sweeter than the rattling of the chain as the shipmen let down the anchor; and no place seems more desirable than the little cove, or the wide bay, in which the ship rests in peace”.

 When as a teenager I got stuck in a little boat way out from the coast and a massive thunderstorm was bearing down on us I was really fearful for my life but how sweet was that little fishing boat who came over to tow us into the safety of the boat harbor we set out from.

This is a perfect picture of what God did for his people back in 539BC. This also is a wonderful poetic image of our salvation through Christ that through what he did for us on the cross we have a way made for us through the storms of sin and life to heaven itself as the writer to the Hebrews speaks of this in Hebrews 12: 1 – 2,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

2FFixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.

  1. (31 – 32)     The praise for this deliverance spelt out

Then following the pattern of the last exile experience image the final part is a call for praise for what God has done for them in stilling the storm of the Babylonian juggernaut through the Persians to bring his people to the safe harbor of their homeland.

We read this call to praise in two parts:

  1. Thanking the Lord for his unfailing love (vs. 31)
  2. Exalting the Lord in the assembly of the people (vs. 32)

So lets have a close look at these two calls for praise:

  1. Thanking the Lord for his unfailing love (vs. 31)

Following the writer of Psalm 107 pattern of words we read this time his call to the people to praise God for his unfailing love shown in the his amazing deeds of freeing the his people from the terrible captivity in Babylon, he writes in verse 31,

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.”

We too must answer this call for praise for our God who through Christ and his unfailing love in what he did for us on the cross achieved the wonderful deed of our salvation that will lead us to the safe harbor of heaven itself as Paul tells Titus in Titus 3: 4 – 7,

“ But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life”.

  1. Exalting the Lord in the assembly of the people (vs. 32)

Then as the writer of Psalm 107 did in the last image of the exile deliverance experience he calls his readers to corporate worship praise. He writes in verse 32,

“Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders”.

The writer of Psalm 107 calls his hearers and readers to exalt or lift up this great God of loving kindness in two places in the formal assemblies of worship, the Temple and from the post exile period the Synagogue and also in the council of the elders which Albert Barnes explains is probably referring to,

“In the presence of venerated men, a body of aged men who presided over the assemblies of worship”.

This is a call to public praise just as the first verse was which said,

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever”.

The post exile Jews had much to praise God for as each of the four poetic images of the exile deliverance experience had demonstrated. God had stilled the storm of the Babylonian over- lords and brought the people back to the safe harbor of the Promised Land of Israel. God certainly deserved to be exalted in private and in the formal gatherings of Jewish worship and we to should do the same in our lives and when we meet together for worship and fellowship because Jesus has done so much for us. As the writer to the Hebrews calls his readers to worship in Hebrews 12: 28 – 29,

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

  1. (33 – 43)   GOD’S LOVE AND JUDGMENT IN ACTION

1. (33 – 42)   The experience of love and judgment principle

The writer of Psalm 107 changes his poem from poetic illustrations of the exile deliverance experience to nine verses, which Leupold explains this way,

“There follows a section that turns from specific instances to a general truth: the up’s and down’s the success and the failure, the prosperity and calamity in the lives of individuals and nations are entirely in the control of and brought about by the will of the Almighty”.

Israel was warned by Moses way back in the wilderness days that obedience to God and his laws would bring blessings to nations but disobedience to God and his laws would bring upon the nation God’s curse. This is spelt out in Deuteronomy 28 and so these nine verses, 33 – 42 set down a poetic description of God’s blessings and curses on the nation of Israel.

So I have broken these nine verses into:

  1. God’s curses on the nation and its land (vs. 33 – 34 / 39 – 40)
  2. God’s blessings on the nation and its land (vs. 35 – 38 / 41 – 42)

Lets then have a closer look at each of these curses on the nation and the land and God’s blessings on the nation and the land.

  1. God’s curses on the nation and its land (vs. 33 – 34 / 39 – 40)

Ancient Israel was an agricultural based society so the fortunes or devastations of the land determined the prosperity or calamity of the nation. We, in modern society only feel the prosperity or devastation of the land in the price of our food and produce in the supermarkets. Back in 2011 Australia was hit by a massive cyclone called Cyclone Yasi and this cyclone almost wiped out Australia’s banana crop and I can remember bananas going from $1.50 a kilo to $20 a kilo in the matter of days. It took a couple of years for this terrible plight to our Northern Australian farming lands to recover.

So it is not strange that God’s curse on the nation for their many sins of disobedience to his rule and word is expressed in agricultural terms as we read in verses 33- 35,

“He turned rivers into a desert, flowing springs into thirsty ground, 34 and fruitful land into a salt waste, because of the wickedness of those who lived there.

 Then in verses 39 – 40 we read of more curses on the people of Israel,

“Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled by oppression, calamity and sorrow; 40 he who pours contempt on nobles made them wander in a trackless waste”.

So the sins of the nation caused famine through lack of rainfall and he brought calamity on the people through foreign conquest all because,

“Of the wickedness of those who lived there”.

What happened to the nobles or upper ruling class is a vivid poetic picture of what actually happened to the southern kingdom of Judah as recorded in 2 Kings 25: 18 – 21,

“The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers. 19 Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of the conscripts who were found in the city. 20 Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 21 There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed. So Judah went into captivity, away from her land”.

These nobles or leading men and women of Judah were dragged off ruthlessly to be executed of forcefully taken into exile and even before this final fall of Jerusalem nobles or leading men and women were taken into exile by the Babylonians and in 2 Kings 24: 15 – 17 we read of this first stage of taking leading people into exile in Babylon,

“ Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother, his wives, his officials and the prominent people of the land. 16 The king of Babylon also deported to Babylon the entire force of seven thousand fighting men, strong and fit for war, and a thousand skilled workers and artisans. 17 He made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah”.

  1. God’s blessings on the nation and its land (vs. 35 – 38 / 41 – 42)

So God cursed the land of Israel because of the people’s wickedness and disobedience but he also blessed the land especially when the King of Israel or Judah and the people under him obeyed his word and worshipped only him and we see this in this sixth section of Psalm 107 as well.

The writer of Psalm 107 speaks of God blessing the land and his people first of all in this last section of the Psalm in verse 35 – 38,

He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs;

there he brought the hungry to live, and they founded a city where they could settle.

37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest; 38 he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased, and he did not let their herds diminish”.

Israel was a nation of such great promise if they would just turn away from other God’s and be obedient to the God of the bible he would turn their deserts into a land flowing with fresh water were people would be blessed and not go hungry.

Theses verses seem to reflect many passages in the book of Isaiah like Isaiah 43: 19 – 21,

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 20 The wild animals honour me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise”.

 Isaiah pictures God doing a new thing and Matthew Henry in his commentary explains this new thing this way,

“The deliverance from Babylon is foretold, but there is reference to greater events. The redemption of sinners by Christ, the conversion of the Gentiles, and the recall of the Jews, are described. All that is to be done to rescue sinners, and to bring the believer to glory, is little, compared with that wondrous work of love, the redemption of man”.

 So both Psalm 107: 35 – 38 and Isaiah 43: 19 – 21 are poetic pictures of God doing a new thing for his people presented in powerful word pictures that describe in agricultural bliss, turning deserts into fertile land and turning hungry people into well fed contented people.

Jesus knew that in his coming he would fully fulfil the prophecies of Isaiah and all other prophecies for the Messiah and we see this especially in the story of Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth were he read from the prophecies of Isaiah in Isaiah 61: 1 – 2 and in Luke 4: 21, Jesus makes this bold claim,

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

 The return from exile in Babylon that this Psalm, Psalm 107 has been speaking about was a wonderful demonstration of the love and blessings of God but the coming of Jesus to this world to save us from our sins and make us a way to heaven for all eternity is a far great demonstration of the love and blessings of God.

Then in verses 41 – 42 our writer of Psalm 107, says,

“But he lifted the needy out of their affliction and increased their families like flocks. The upright see and rejoice, but all the wicked shut their mouths”.

 This is a further poetic picture of the blessing of God in bringing his people back from captivity and exile in Babylon but it to is also a far greater poetic picture of the results of what Christ did for us on the cross 2,000 years ago as this great sacrifice of Christ,

  1. Lifted the needy out of their affliction of sin
  2. Called the lost sheep of the world into his loving flock or family
  3. Caused those who believe in him to rejoice
  4. And ultimately in his second coming shut the mouths of the wicked.

So this sixth section pictures the return from exile in Babylon as a work of God in his love blessing his people after he had judged them for their many sins but for us as believers in what God did in Christ it is a message of the great blessings and love of God for all who truly turn to him.

As Paul speaks of the blessings of knowing Christ and what it leads us to be able to do in 2 Corinthians 9: 8 – 11,

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God”.

(vs. 43)     Take note and thank God for his love

 The writer closes his Psalm with a verse that could easily have come out of the book of Proverbs as it is a piece of wisdom literature that reads like this,

“Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord”.

 Although Allan Harman points out that the start of verse 43 is a direct copy of the last verse of Hosea, Hosea 14: 9,

“Who is wise? He will realize these things”

 And it is Alfred Barnes who I found explained what both these writers meant by the term “Is wise” when he writes,

“All who have a proper understanding of things, or who are disposed to look at them aright”.

 To see who God is and to know both what he is like and what he has done for us is to,

“Consider the great love of the Lord”

 The writer of Psalm 107 has set a series of powerful yet beautiful poetic pictures of the great love of the Lord seen in how he delivered his people from captivity and exile in Babylon and we have seen that this great historic deliverance of God mirrors perfectly our salvation in Christ.

Christ has liberated us from the bondage or slavery of sin and death through his death and resurrection and if we are wise as the writer of Psalm 107 says we too will consider this great love of the Lord and praise him. As Paul declares to the Galatians in Galatians 5: 1,

 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”.

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

SAVED FROM THE BONDAGE OF SIN (Based on Psalm 107)

 Chorus:

Saved from the bondage of sin

Yes I saved from the bondage of sin

Made alive by God’s spirit within

For -ever I long to praise him.

 

I’ll give thanks to the Lord for he is good

Through his love he’s saved my life.

I was lost in a very thirsty place

And I cried to the Lord in my strife.

He heard my cry and he answered me

And through Jesus he gave me new life.

So now his spirit satisfies my thirst

And I enjoy a wonderful life.

 

Chorus:

 

Let us give thanks to the Lord for he is good

For he shone his light into my dark place

For with out God we’re lost in the darkness

So I cried to the Lord for release

He heard my cry and he answered me

And through Jesus he showed me great light

So now I see the way of the Lord

That shines so bright through the night.

 

Chorus:

 

Let us give thanks to the Lord for he is good

For he helps me in sickness and strife.

For through our sin sickness and death has come

So God sent Jesus to save our life.

He died for us on the cross you see

To pay for sin for you and for me

So now we can go to him in our strife

To find healing and forgiveness so free.

 

Chorus:

 

Let us give thanks to the Lord for he is good

For he helped me in the storms of life.

For I was lost and I was and all at sea.

But God stilled the storm in my life.

The waves of guilt over whelmed me

And I cried to the Lord please save me

Then I realised that Jesus did die for my sins

To make a way to eternity.

 

Chorus:

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 Dear father in heaven I thank you for your amazing love we know through the sending of your son into the world to free us from the bondage of sin and death. We know that Jesus died on the cross and redeemed us from the horrible consequences of our many sins. We also know that he rose from the dead to make a way for us into heaven. Thank you Lord for finding us when we were lost, healing us of our many sins, giving us your light in this dark world and stilling all our storms of life with your amazing love through your Son Jesus Christ and in and through his name we pray this, Amen.