PSALM 112 TALK: HALLELUJAH – BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO FEARS THE LORD

PSALM 112 TALK: HALLELUJAH – BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO FEARS THE LORD

 (The second Psalm is a series of Psalms that feature the word “Hallelujah” which means praise the Lord and this Psalm praises God for his blessing on the person who fears or respects the God of heaven and earth and who delights or loves his word and shows that he does love the Lord by the way he lives his life and shows to the world all the wonderful things his God has given him.)

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INTRODUCTION

The other day I had a very real disturbing yet revealing experience when I was standing in line at a checkout at our local supermarket. The women in front of me who was being served by the checkout operator was obviously a young mum and she had at her feet a three or four year old boy who was throwing a tantrum. What was disturbing about this was that the little boy was hitting his mothers legs with his fists with all his might and all the mother did was say constantly the her child, “You know mummy does not like that, please stop doing that”. The little boy did not stop and his mother’s words only seemed to make him cry louder and hit his her harder.

The mother paid her bill picked up her shopping bags and walked out of the shop with the child screaming and still hitting her and all I could hear from the young mother, in a calm voice was her words over and over again saying what I heard her say in front of me in the checkout line, “You know mummy does not like that, please stop doing that”.

I felt like saying something to the checkout operator but stopped myself because I could see that being at the head of a long line of shoppers in a checkout queue was not the place to discuss modern discipline techniques as opposed to the so called old fashioned ones I was bought up with.

At home that day I reflected on what I saw that young mother do or rather not do and it seemed that her child had not learnt and kind of respect or fear for his mother yet I even wondered when he might ever have any respect for his mother or anyone else he found over him in the future.

I also thought of my dear mother, who passed away five years ago now and how she instilled in us total respect for her and all people who had authority over us like teachers, police and our bosses at work. My own mothers discipline approach was much more ruthless and even cruel compared to how my wife and I disciplined our own children but she believed as we believed that as parents we deserved total respect from our children at all stages of their lives.

My thoughts about this mother and child then led me to think of God our heavenly father and what kind of discipline he operated with according to the bible. Was he the God of heaven and earth who would allow his created beings belt him around and treat him with disrespect in the name of love, saying, “you know I don’t like the way you are living please stop living that way because it upsets me”.

Or is the God of heaven and earth as presented in the bible as a God who disciplines with harsh and heavy judgment because he demands the fear or respect he deserves as our creator and provider?

Both the mother in the supermarket and my own mother are sinful fallen creatures as we all are so both will not show what the perfect, holy and mighty God of heaven and earth is like in how he deals with his world and the rebellious people who live in it.

I see a combination, in a sense of the two mothers approaches as God did deal harshly in discipline or judgment with his special chosen people Israel. On many occasions God disciplined his people harshly and the best example of this is what had happened to Israel a few years before Psalm 112 was written. After generations of his chosen people turning away from him to serve other false God’s, with worship involving sex, sacrifice of children and living lives that exploited the poor and needy for personal gain God sent the nation of Babylon to overrun them, kill many of them and take most of those who left into exile in Babylon for 70 years or so.

Then we have the example of God’s dealings with his sinful people in the climax of the bible story when he sends his only Son, Jesus Christ into the world and allows sinful people to arrest him on false charges, find him guilty on those charges, belt him up before allowing them to nail him up on a cross to suffer physically, socially as huge insults were hurled at him by people around the cross and spiritually as he took on himself our sin and was disserted by his heavenly father as he hung their for us in the name of love.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5: 21,

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

Psalm 112 is the second Psalm in a series of Psalms from Psalm 111 to Psalm 118 that feature the concept of Praising the Lord represented by the Hebrew word, Hallelujah which means literally “Praise Yahweh” which we translate in English as “Praise the Lord”. Psalm 111 had supplied us with a perfect Hallelujah because it set down in its acrostic, Hebrew Alphabet style some of the great works of God for us that deserve our constant perfect praise.

Now Psalm 112 offers us the flip side to this, how we should respond to what God has done for us. God promises to bless us in so many ways if we do rightly respond to his great deeds of love and faithfulness. The basic response God wants from us then is expressed in the first verse of this Psalm,

“Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands”.

I am taking up the idea in this Psalm talk that to fear God is to respect and love him and act in the opposite way the young child did in his lack of respect and love for his mother. We must stop rebelling against God’s authority over our lives and rather then striking out against God, live the way he wants us to live inspired by what he has done for us through Jesus death on the cross to forgive our sins.

I changed my normal approach to my preparation of this Psalm talk as I normally write a poem based on this Psalm after I had written the Psalm talk but this time I attempted to write my own Alphabet poem based on the wording of the Psalm.

I did this to try to understand better how the writer of Psalm 112 thought as he wrote his Hebrew Alphabet Psalm but the Hebrew Alphabet only has 22 letters while the English Alphabet has 26 letters so because verse 1 is so crucial to understanding the main idea of the Psalm I used four letters from the English Alphabet rather than two for this verse and somewhere through the poem and the Psalm included another two letters of the English Alphabet to write my Alphabet poem based on this Psalm.

The experience of writing my own Alphabet poem made me feel that I was entering into some of the thinking processes of the original writer of this Psalm and I will quote my wording of the words of my poem as I state and seek to open the Psalm writers original words. Then at the end of the Psalm talk I will let you read my full version of my Alphabet poem based on this Psalm.

With the theme of “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord in mind then my outline for this Psalm talk is:

  1. (vs. 1)   GOD BLESSES PEOPLE WHO RESPECT AND LOVE HIM

 

  1. (1a)   Praise God for he blesses those who respect and love him
  2. (1b)   People who respect and love God delight in his word

 

  1. (2 – 5)   HOW GOD BLESSES PEOPLE WHO RESPECT AND LOVE HIM

 

  1. (2 – 3) God’s blessing of family and wealth
  2. (4 – 5) God’s blessing of help in hard times

 

  1. (6 – 10)   PEOPLE LOVE AND RESPECT GOD CONTRASTED WITH THOSE

                     WHO DON’T

 

  1. (6 – 9) How people who respect and love God live
  2. (vs. 10) How people who don’t respect or love God live

 

  1. (vs. 1)   GOD BLESSES PEOPLE WHO RESPECT AND LOVE HIM

 

  1. (1a)   Praise God for he blesses those who respect and love him

“Praise the Lord (Hallelujah)

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord”

Alleluia yes praise to the God above

Blessed is the person who knows God’s love

Note how my Alphabet poem version uses the word, “Alleluia” instead of “Hallelujah” and of course “Alleluia” allows me to use the first letter of the English Alphabet “A” to commence my Alphabet poem version of this Psalm. I found this excellent explanation of the difference between Hallelujah and “Alleluia” on a blog page on the net called “Pastors Pantry” by man who simply calls himself Michael,

“In the past several weeks I’ve been asked by several folks what is the difference between “Alleluia” and “Hallelujah”. They are both an expression of praise to God. Hallelujah comes from the Hebrew (used in Psalms) which means “Praise Yahweh”. It’s also found in the New Testament book of Revelation. Alleluia is simply the Greek or Latin form of the same word. They can be used interchangeably. But the important thing is, no matter what form you choose to use, DO praise God for all that we have been given”.

 So Psalm 112 like the start of Psalm 111 starts with the call to praise “Yahweh” which many believe is a call to worship and this Psalm like many would have been used by the ancient Hebrews in their lively and very musical praise type worship services.

However the focus of this Psalms praise of the God of the bible is the blessing God gives those who fear him. Let me explain then the two main ideas of this opening phrase of this Psalm and the two key ideas I would like to explain are:

  1. Blessed
  2. Fears the Lord

Lets then have a close look at these two key ideas:

  1. Blessed

This word “Blessed” is the first word that appears in the book of Psalms and therefore is the first word in Psalm 1 and in a number of ways some aspects of this Psalm 112 reminds me of Psalm 1 like the blessings God promises his faithful people in this Psalm and of course the contrast of the way of life the wicked person or non – God believing person to the believing person that both Psalms conclude on.

I found the Hebrew concept of “Blessed” a tricky concept to fully understand and explain way back in my first Palm talk I wrote so I will quote from that talk to explain what the word “Blessed” actually means,

“Being Blessed by God or being truly happy and is what all people really want but true happiness seems to be such a fickle thing. Many people buy lottery tickets to win large cash jackpots and think that if only they could win millions of dollars, then they would really be happy. The reality is that many who win big lotteries often find very little happiness at all. Relatives, friends and con men trying to get a piece of the prize hound them. They buy houses, boats and go on expensive holidays but still, in side themselves they aren’t happy. Others go deeply religious and do all kinds of religious activities. Martin Luther before he found Christ and the great liberating truth of Justification by faith, crawled up the steps of St Peters in Rome, praying as he crawled and when he got to the top said, he felt more of a sinner after doing the crawl than before he started it.

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

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

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

 How do we find God’s forgiveness ?

 It is only found through faith in Jesus and his great death for us as Paul says in Romans 5 verses 1 to 5 :

 “ 1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us”.

 Psalm 1 states clearly that we can only find real and true happiness in knowing and following God. It says “delight in God’s law” (word) and “meditate on it day and night” 

  1. Fears the Lord

So how does Psalm 112 say we can find God’s blessedness or true happiness in our lives today and the answer is,

“Who fears the Lord”

Interestingly Psalm 111 finished with value of fearing the Lord, Psalm 111: 10,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

 I would like to quote myself again from my Psalm 111 and my comments on this verse and then talk about how what we learnt from that verse relates to the first verse of this Psalm when it speaks of “fearing” God,

“This follows what we read at the end of verse 9 that God or the God of the bible is both Holy and Awesome. If he is Holy, different and perfect and awesome, great and powerful then he deserves our respect and worship, which the Old Testament calls fear.

 This verse reads and sounds like it comes from the book of proverbs and Allan Harman picks out four similar book of Proverbs references that speak of the fear of the Lord and wisdom, Proverbs 1: 7, 9:10, 15: 33. I would like to quote the first of these Proverbs 1: 7,

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

Note how this verse, very similar to some of the wording of Psalm 111: 10 speaks of how fearing God or reverencing him also brings knowledge as well as wisdom which Godless people simply do not have or will not have if they continue to rebel against God.

Paul says in Romans 1: 21,

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

People are wilfully living their lives without any acknowledgment of God ignoring God and even defying him and his laws and then wondering why their lives fall foul to his judgments in the form of sinful consequences in their lives and of course all this will lead to the ultimate judgment to come when they will stand before his throne in the final judgement.

As Paul and that verse in Proverbs points out the not fearing God or reverencing him also has consequences to our way of thinking.

We might appear to be smart or even intelligent but we will lack real wisdom in life if we continue to ignore God and not fear him or revere him as Holy and Awesome or great”.

In this Psalm then, Psalm 112 ‘fearing God” which I believe is revering God leads to blessedness or as I have just pointed out true and real happiness. When that toddler threw his tantrum in the supermarket and started belting his mother he was not very happy, in fact he was in the complete opposite emotional state to happiness as he was angry, in emotional pain and frustrated and that was clear by the howling screams and thumping fists that belted his mothers legs and that is a perfect picture of a person’s state when they are in rebellion to God the Father of heaven and earth.

We see, read and hear about how so many people in our growing Godless society are screaming, kicking and even dying of their desperate unhappiness. They take drugs, drink alcohol to excess and try all kinds of modern Godless answers to life’s problems and yet true deep and lasting happiness eludes them. Some seek happiness through material things but again some of the most miserable and unhappy people in our world today are the very rich and so called successful people.

No the only answer to the problem of unhappiness is “fearing God” or revering God, putting him in the rightful place in our lives and through the forgiveness of his Son’s death on the cross come to know his love and happiness in our lives. When I was a children and Youth worker many years ago we sang a kids song that says it all so well and it goes like this,

“Happiness is to know the Saviour

Living a life within his favour,

Having a change in my behaviour

Happiness is the Lord.

 

Real joy is mine

No matter if the tear- drops start

I found the answer

Its Jesus in my heart”.

So again my Alphabet poem line for this part of Psalm 112 is simply,

 

Blessed is the person who knows God’s love.

  1. (1b)   People who respect and love God delight in his word

Then we read in the second part of this first verse, these words,

“Who finds great delight in his commands”.

My Alphabet poem words for this phrase is two lines that say,

“Captivated and committed to his word

Delighted in that word of the Lord”.

The word for “commands” in Psalm 111: 10 version of this concept is “precepts”.

And this verse simply says,

“All who follow his precepts have good understanding”.

 Psalm 1 says it another way in verse 2, with these words

“But whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night”.

The law, precepts, commands are Old Testament terms for what we call the word of God, which is of, course the bible. Psalm 1 verse 3 goes on to tell us how valuable delighting in and meditating on the word of God is with these words,

“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers”.

Today people have written off the bible as books of myths or something the fourth century church concocted to control and manipulate the lives of its members. However the evidence is clear that the New Testament written in ancient Greek existed long before the fourth century and manuscripts go back to very close to the time of the events with more convincing evidence of authenticity than any other ancient writing that is fully accepted as fact today like Caesars Gallic Wars which no one denies Caesar wrote.

What people today confuse the writing of The New Testament as something the fourth century church wrote with is that it in the fourth century the church approved what was actually written soon after the time of Christ and what was not and they rejected many popular church writings as not truly the word of God because they knew that only the writings of the original disciples of Christ and other close followers of Christ like Paul and Luke where truly inspired by God as his word as Paul says himself in 2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17,

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

So when we delight in the word of God we too are inspired to see the truth of God about life and how he wants us to live and then how he wants to bless us which the next part of Psalm 112 is going to tell us.

I have had years of delight and inspiration from both personal study of the bible and group study in the many bible studies I have attended. I can agree wholeheartedly with David when he says this about the place and value of God’s word in Psalm 19: 7 – 11,

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

My extra verse from my Alphabet poem that puts all the teaching of the first verse of this Psalm 112 is:

Endowed with blessing God does give

Faithful servants who seek to live

Honouring the God who made all things

Intense love for them he always brings.

  1. (2 – 5)   HOW GOD BLESSES PEOPLE WHO RESPECT AND LOVE HIM

 

  1. (2 – 3) God’s blessing of family and wealth

My headings for the two parts of this middle section will be the wording of my Alphabet poem based on this Psalms and the first is:

  1. Just look at their children people say (vs. 2a)

The actual verse 2a of the Psalm reads,

“His children will be mighty in the land”.

 In the Ancient world of the Hebrews a mans family and how successful they were was a major sign of God’s blessing on him as we see in a verse like Psalm 127: 3 – 4,

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court”

Or Proverbs 12: 7,

“The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous stands firm”.

So if verse 1 is correct that God blesses or gives deep and lasting happiness to the person who fears or reveres him then the good health and strong standing of a man and women’s family is a obvious out come of that blessing of God as the second commandment says in Exodus 20: 6,

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

And what kind of things does God often give children of faithful believing parents?

My next line of my Alphabet poem based on this Psalm says for the requirements of a man to be an elder in Titus 1: 6,

“An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient”

Knowledge and good manners come their way

I have had the pleasure of meeting many God fearing families in the church that God has blessed with wonderful children well mannered and knowledgeable and faithfully serving the Lord and to me this is a result of God’s blessings on that family.

  1. Long do we appreciate a believer’s life (vs. 2b)

Another blessing that was hotly desired in Old Testament times was being appreciated and remembered long after your passing from this life and I think the second part of verse 2 speaks of this blessing from God when it says.

“The generation of the upright will be blessed”.

 David Guzik expounds on this phrase with these words,

“If any one should desire to leave behind him a flourishing posterity, let him not think to accomplish it by accumulating heaps of gold and silver, and leaving them behind him, but by rightly recognising God and serving him, and commanding his children to the guardianship and protection of God”.

 Spiritually we are all called to minster to the people livening in our time, our generation but also Paul speaks of having in mind the next generation as well in that he instructs the younger, next generation Timothy in his time to entrust the message of the Gospel on to others who will in turn pass the message on to others which includes the next generation coming up behind him, 2 Timothy 2: 1 – 2,

“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others”.

Part of my own vision for these Psalm talks is that they will live on long after I have gone to be with the Lord so that future generations can be taught and blessed through them.

My next line of my Alphabet poem based on Psalm 112 picks up a idea expressed in 5 verse which speaks of how the person who fears or reveres God helps his generation making that person appreciated through chartable giving,

Mercy did they show to those in strife.

I will have more to say on this when I comment on verse 5 soon.

  1. No fear of debts for God has blessed them (vs. 3a)

We read of how the person who fears or reveres God is blessed by God with material wealth,

“Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever”.

This could be seen today as a tricky concept with the rise of the prosperity Gospel message that proclaims that good health and material wealth are given to those who have faith in Christ, one quote I found on the internet by Stephen Hunt explains this false Gospel message this way,

“In short, this means that “health and wealth” are the automatic divine right of all Bible-believing Christians and may be procreated by faith as part of the package of salvation, since the Atonement of Christ includes not just the removal of sin, but also the removal of sickness and poverty”.

 The prosperity Gospel preachers might jump on this third verse in Psalm 112 as proof that the bible teaches that material wealth does come to all who truly have faith in the God of the bible.

However I do not believe this verse in isolation can be proof God intends all believers to be wealthy in an earthly material sense. It is true that people who come to true faith in Christ often turn their lives around so much that materially they are much better off. Take for instance the true conversion of a person who is has a gambling problem or a drinking problem, if they receive God’s help in dealing with these problems after coming to faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins then sure they will be financially better off.

However the bible equally teaches that hardship and trials are also part of the Christian life as the next verse of this Psalm says with these words,

“Even in darkness light dawns for the upright”.

 All the New Testament writers speak of the place and value of trials and difficulties for the true believer like Peter in 1 Peter 1: 3 – 7,

“ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed”.

 I included in this quote the place and function of suffering or difficulties in the Christian life the first three verses as they speak of what Christ has won for us through his death on the cross and it is not material wealth or good health but is spiritual new birth, a living hope of the resurrection, a eternal inheritance which is heaven and the promise of God’s protection in the midst of the dangerous and uncertain world we live in.

So what is verse 3a of Psalm 112 telling us when it says,

“Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever”.

I think Spurgeon explains the meaning of this verse best for me when he writes in the following rather long but very helpful quote,

“Wealth and riches shall be in his house. Understood literally this is rather a promise of the old covenant than of the new, for many of the best of the people of God are very poor; yet it has been found true that uprightness is the road to success, and, all other things being equal, the honest man is the rising man. Many are kept poor through knavery and profligacy; but godliness hath the promise of the life that now is. If we understand the passage spiritually it is abundantly true.

What wealth can equal that of the love of God? What riches can rival a contented heart? It matters nothing that the roof is thatched, and the floor is of cold stone: the heart which is cheered with the favour of heaven is “rich to all the intents of bliss.”

 As said when commenting on “Blessedness” being true happiness material wealth does not guarantee or even brings true deep spiritual happiness and in fact those that have material wealth now as believers have the new burden of how they should be using that material wealth in the work of God and the spreading of the Gospel message to the world.

My next line of my Alphabet poem based on Psalm 112 picks up what all true believers have rich or poor materially,

Over and over God seems to help them

This is my attempt to express the other phrase in verse 3a that simply says,

“His righteousness endures forever”.

 Interestingly this expression is used to describe God in the previous Psalm, Psalm 111 verse 3,

“Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever”,

 So because we look to God and believe in him something that is part of him becomes part of us namely his “Righteousness”.

Clearly the New Testament teaches that God’s righteousness is God’s gift given to all true believers as a result of what Christ achieved for us on the cross, like 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!”

So my concept is when God helps us over and over again this is evidence of God’s righteousness enduring in us by grace in his help and favour and this is the real wealth we have as Spurgeon said,

“Is “rich to all the intents of bliss.”

  1. (4 – 5) God’s blessing of help in hard times

I will continue to use my Alphabet poem lines based on Psalm 112 for my headings in the second part of the middle section of this Psalm and the first heading is:

  1. Particularly in dark times they seem to shine (vs. 4)

As I have just pointed out some modern day preachers seek to convey the idea that believing in Jesus will lead to wealth and good health and of course no more problems and difficulties in life. To a certain extent coming to Christ will mean for many people a change in their financial state and health.

This often comes from the fact that living a rebellious sinful life not only destroys the soul but it destroys the body and our finances however God does not take away from Christians a number of things when they come to Christ and they include:

  1. Living in a fallen and dangerous world
  2. Being still part of the natural process of aging and physically dying
  3. Facing opposition and evil attacks
  4. Still being sinful and making mistakes in life

All these things that Christians or believers have to face are the same things non -believers face and the difference is that the Christian or the believer does not face them alone as he or she now has God and particularly Jesus with them to help them through the problems and difficulties of life.

This is what I believe verse 4 is telling us,

“Even in darkness light dawns for the upright”

 The ironic fact of life is that non – believers often accuse God believers as weak people who need some kind or crutch to lean on and belief in God is that crutch. The reality is they are partially correct we are all weak, sinful and fallen beings who need someone of something greater than ourselves to lean on or get help from and Jesus is that someone greater and stronger we can go to as the writer of Psalm 112 says, in darkness to find light. Jesus is the one we can go to and find rest and help for our souls and lives as Jesus calls us to 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.”

 If believing the Gospel always leads to prosperity financially and physically why did Jesus offer all believers these wonderful words of comfort?

King David was a great and powerful king who had wonderful gifts of soldiering, worldly wealth, great wisdom and insights and yet he says this in Psalm 61: 2 – 3,

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

David went through many dark times but over and over again God’s light dawned on him. I can relate to that even in recent times as I have had some personal medical problems to face and my dear wife has had some serious ones and yet it was through prayer and trusting God that helped us come through those difficult times and proved the wonderful gracious and compassionate love of God as a result of them.

So we have a great Savoir to turn to any time in our lives and particularly in times of darkness or difficulty. The next line of my Alphabet poem based on Psalm 112 states clearly what we as believers have that non believers will never have if they continue to refuse to turn to God in faith,

Quickly God answers them every time.

The final words of verse 4 are another example of words used in Psalm 111 to describe God in verse 4 of that Psalm and here are:

“For gracious and compassionate and righteous man”.

 Again what God is like is what we should seek to be like and for us as Christians the image of a perfect or righteous and loving person is the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul many times to be imitators of God by imitating or following the example of Christ, Ephesians 5: 1,

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”.

 The next line of my Alphabet poem based on Psalm 112 describes how we should be according to verse 4b of this Psalm and what Paul has just stated to us in Ephesians 5: 1,

Upright and loving is the person God calls

  1. Respected for their generosity to a cause (vs. 5)

Flowing from this person who fears or has reverence and faith in God being like God as a compassionate and righteous person is what is said of him in verse 5,

“Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice”.

 Albert Barnes fleshes out what this verse is actually saying with these words,

“A good man shows favor – He has the means to show favor to others, or to promote their welfare, and he is disposed to do this. It is the characteristic of a good man – of a heart that is truly pious – to do good to others; to promote their welfare here, and to assist them in their endeavor to secure happiness in the world to come”.

 My thought was the ability and desire of people of real faith to their generous support of right and good causes and I love helping people on my many short term mission trips to struggling nations like Myanmar where I take extra funds with me to give to causes or needs I come across I believe God wants me to support.

Paul speaks of poorer churches giving financial assistance to him which he saw as evidence of God’s grace outworking in them in their generosity to support the cause that Paul was involved in at that time, 2 Corinthians 8: 1 – 5,

“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us”.

So I’m sure good came to the people of these Macedonian churches as it does to Christians today who generously support Gospel based causes in our world today either through straight giving or interest free loans.

Paul gives us the principle we all should head and follow in the question of our financial giving to God’s Kingdoms causes in 2 Corinthians 9: 7,

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”.

 So we have seen how God blesses people who truly fear or reverence him and I’m sure the issues the writer of Psalm 112 chose to highlight are not the full way in which God enriches and blesses his faithful people. I once had two Mormon missionaries come to my door and ask if they could come into my home and give me a blessing and I said I do not need your blessing as I have all the blessings I can handle and more in Christ and quoted Ephesians 1: 3,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

  1. (6 – 10)   PEOPLE LOVE AND RESPECT GOD CONTRASTED WITH THOSE WHO DON’T

 

  1. (6 – 9) How people who respect and love God live

So we could say that verses 6 to 9 just continue to tell us more of the blessings God gives to those who fear or reverence him and these verses certainly do that but I feel they also offer a big contrast to the terrible plight of the unbeliever spoken of in verse 10 the final verse of the Psalm.

To open this up to you I have decided to use lines from my Alphabet poem based on this Psalm as my headings for these next four verses and the first is:

  1. Surely God’s people will never be shaken (vs. 6a)

I have already sought to open up what the writer of Psalm 112 said of those who trust in God or fear or reverence him in verse 4a.

“Even in darkness light dawns for the upright”.

Now he speaks of problems and difficulties and how they affect the person, who trusts in God with these words,

“Surely he will never be shaken”

 Albert Barnes explains the meaning of these words so well again I will quote what he says on this first phrase in verse 6 in full,

“Surely he shall not be moved for ever – Luther, “For he shall remain always.” He shall be fixed, stable, firm, and prosperous. He shall not be driven from place to place. He shall have a permanent home. He shall have a steady reputation. He shall have a constant influence. He shall be a firm, stabilized, prosperous man. Of course this is to be taken in the general, and should not be pressed to mean that it will be, in the most literal sense, and always, true, for a good man “may” be “unfortunate in business,” and suffer with others; he may be sick; he may see reason to change his residence; he will certainly die. But still it is true that religion “tends” to produce this permanency, and that in this respect there is a marked difference between people who are truly pious, and those who are not”.

 So the Godly or believing person will not be shaken but the non – believing person verse 10 says will,

“Come to nothing”

 In the book of proverbs the person who fears God or trusts in God is called “The wise” and the person who does not believe in God is called “The Fool” and the wise and the fool are often contrasted and in Proverbs 10: 8 – 9 we read this contrast that sheds much light on verse 6a of Psalm 112,

“The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin. Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out”.

So to continue to look away from God and the way he wants us to walk or go is to travel on the path to destruction which is what Jesus speaks of as a way many travel upon in Matthew 7: 13 – 14,

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”.

I have had it said to me recently on Face book by a non – believing friend that I am very much out of step with the majority of society who no longer believe in God and his word but if Jesus is correct in what he just said the way of the majority of society is the way things have always been.

However I can testify to the truth that:

Surely God’s people will never be shaken.

  1. Trusting in their God to heaven they’re taken (vs. 6b)

Then added to the concept of the person of true faith, one who fears or has reverence for God not being shaken comes the statement in second half of verse 6 that says,

“A righteous man will be remembered forever”.

 This follows the idea of not being shaken even in dark or difficult times and in New Testament terms is the promise of being given the gift of God’s righteousness that leads us to eternal life in heaven. As Paul speaks of in Romans 6: 23,

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

 The being remembered forever in the Old Testament becomes the living with God forever in Heaven in the New Testament.

This is in total contrast to the wicked or non- God fearing man or person in verse 10 who rather than being remembered forever will simply,

“Waste away”

 The death of the non- believing person in The New Testament involves eternal punishment like Paul speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 1: 7 – 9,

“This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”

  1. Untroubled by bad news through confidence in prayer (vs. 7)

The concept that the true believer will not escape problems and difficulties in life but will enjoy God’s help to cope and get through these difficult times continues in verse 7, that says,

“He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord”.

 All of us have had and will receive bad news in our lives even as faithful believes. Recently I got a message from my sister in law who was on a tour of Vietnam with my wife and the news was really bad as she informed me that my wife was very sick in hospital with a serious case of pneumonia.

The verse says that believers in God have no fear of bad news because their steadfast hearts are trusting in the Lord and I can say that through my prayers and the prayers of many other believing people who know my wife and I we trusted in the Lord for my wife’s healing and safe return to our home in Australia.

It was interesting to read the supportive posts on face book from some of my non- believing friends who could not really offer me much help and support because they do not believe in prayer and the God we trust in but I pray that the wonderful way the Lord helped my wife and I cope with and get through that time of bad news will encourage some of them to consider what it means to have faith in the God of the bible.

During the two weeks of so of my wife’s serious illness God led me to many comforting and encouraging words from his word the bible and the bible reference that stands out the most to me at that time was 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”.

To me the contrast between a believer receiving and coping with bad news compared to how a non – believer’s not coping is summed up well in verse 10 of this Psalm in the words,

“The wicked man will see and be vexed”

  1. Victory awaits them when God declares

With me they are in my arms of love (vs. 8)

For this fourth contrast between believers and non – believers of the God of the Bible in verse 8 I wrote two lines of my Alphabet poem. The words of verse 8, read like this,

“His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes”.

 The writer continues to speak of how a true believer in the God of the bible, namely a person who fears or revere’s him copes with problems and difficulties in his or her life and this verse says they have three wonderful things from God in difficult times:

  1. A secure heart
  2. No fear
  3. Triumph or Victory

To understand what this verse is actually saying to us let me now look a little closer at these three things God gives a true believer during difficult times in their lives:

  1. A secure heart

The heart is the deep seat of who we are and here in the depth of a believer he is secure with hope to cope with whatever life throws at him or her as Spurgeon puts it,

“His love to God is deep and true, his confidence in God is firm and unmoved”.

 As I said earlier David who was a gifted and well off man battled all his life with personal problems and many enemies but through his many Psalms he shows us how he had a secure heart even in the midst of great difficulty, like Psalm 16 when David starts with his declaration of his security in God in troubles times in verses 1 and 2,

“Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

 Then in verse 9 – 11 he speaks of how his heart, his inner most being is secure in the Lord and is even rejoicing because he believes with all his heart that God is always with him even in death and because he will trust God no matter where he leads him and God gives him the joy or happiness that no one else can give him.

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand”.

Paul spoke like this about his hope and security he had in the love of God made known to him through The Lord Jesus Christ on many occasions in his letters to the churches he helped found and a good example of this is Romans 8: 37 – 39,

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

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,

39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

In contrast the non – God believer or God fearer according to verse 10 of this Psalm has no sense of real security because he or she will,

“Come to nothing”.

  1. No Fear

Then we read the amazing claim of the writer of Psalm 112 in the words,

“He will have no fear”

 Spurgeon believes the writer of Psalm 112 is saying here that,

“His courage has a firm foundation, and is supported by Omnipotence” (or great power)

 This fear seems to be the fear caused by his enemies as he goes on to speak of triumph or victory over his enemies. Again I think of David who battled most of his adult life with many enemies and he faced them all with courage that only God himself could give as he testifies to in Psalm 34: 4,

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears”.

 Then I verse 6 he says,

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

 And finally he says in verse 15,

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry”.

 David wrote these words after God helped him escape the death trap of Gath where the local Philistines of Gath turned on David seeking to kill him and where King Saul was on his way to trap him there and also seek to kill him and his faithful followers.

Paul spoke a lot about having confidence in our Lord and how we should not fear even our greatest enemy Satan and in Ephesians 6: 10 – 11,

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

Then concerning fear he says in Romans 8: 15 – 17,

“15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba. Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory”.

In contrast the non- believer in God who does not fear or revere him according to verse 10 will,

“Gnash their teeth and waste away”.

  1. Triumph or Victory

The final words of verse 8 make another remarkable claim,

“In the end he will look in triumph on his foes”.

 David spoke often about how he and indeed his God would have victory over their enemies and there is no finer example of this than Psalm 34, which I have already quoted from, a Psalm written after David escaped from the Philistine city of Gath and he concludes that,

“The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him”.

 David always asked for and looked forward to the ultimate triumph of God over his enemies as we read in Psalm 25: 1 – 2,

“In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me”.

In the final Psalm of this “Hallelujah Songs” series Psalm 118 we read of God’s triumph over his enemies in verse 7,

“The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies”.

The word “Triumph” or “Triumphal” is used by Paul in 2 Corinthians 2: 14,

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

This triumphal procession is made possible by what Christ did for us on the cross which Paul speaks of in Colossians 2: 15 when he uses the word “Triumph” yet again,

 “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross”.

The book of Revelation presents the ultimate triumph or victory over all that opposes him in a number of places in spectacular picture language and I like best the picture of this triumph or victory of God in Revelation 20 verses 11 – 15,

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

The contrast of the believer and the non- believer here is that the believer will have victory and the non – believer will face defeat and this defeat is graphically spoken of in verse 10 as the non – believer will,

Gnash his teeth and waste away”.

  1. X ray like light God uses to raise them above. (vs. 9)

The most challenging Alphabet letter for my Alphabet poem based on Psalm 112 was of course X as very fear English words start with the letter X. I chose the word X ray that my dictionary “The Collin’s Gem” defines X ray as,

“A stream of radiation that can pass through some solid materials”

 Verse 9 of this Psalm does not mention anything about light but it does speak also of the final victory of God and his followers over their enemies in the words,

“His horn will be lifted high in honor”.

 In the Psalmist mind these words speak of how the true believing in God person will through the sharing of his gifts, God’s blessings shared with the poor or those not as well off as he or she might be and then God will lift him up in honor as recognition of his God like actions.

As we read of at the start of verse 8,

“He scattered abroad his gifts to the poor”.

When the great lifting up of the true believer in Christ happens when Christ returns to earth and all true believers are lifted up to heaven, then great X – Ray type light is spoken about in Revelation 21: 22 – 27,

“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life”.

Jesus does not speak directly of this great light that all will see but uses the words “power and glory to describe how he will return to judge the world and gather and lift up all his faithful followers in Matthew 24: 30 – 31,

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other”.

So while we live in this life The Testament teaches that we are to use the many gifts God has given us for the benefits of others as Paul teaches Romans 12: 3 – 8,

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Finally in the middle of verse 8 we read these words,

“His righteousness endures forever”

 Which we have read in this Psalm before in verse 3 and also read referring to God in Psalm 111: 3 and I said on my comments on verse 3,

“So because we look to God and believe in him something that is part of him becomes part of us namely his “Righteousness”.

 Also I pointed out that the New Testament teaches us that God’s righteousness is a gift God gives us through the death for us of Christ for our sin, 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!”

Here the statement of the person of faiths righteousness enduring forever relates to his ongoing wiliness to give to others and Spurgeon says,

“His liberality has salted his righteousness, proved its reality, and secured its perpetuity”.

 God is the great giving and loving God and if we are seeking to be like him, which we have a clear picture or image of in Christ than we too should be giving and loving unto the day we will be raised with Christ in his great light or glory to be with him in heaven for ever more.

  1. (vs. 10) How people who don’t respect or love God live

We come then to the final verse of the Psalm, which speaks of the non – believer and his or her fate in contrast to the wonderful hope of the believing person. The first two lines of my last verse of my Alphabet poem based on Psalm 112 cover what I understand this verse is saying,

Yet the man who continues to rebel against God

Zero satisfaction is the path he will trod.

I get these ideas from verse 10 that read this way

 “The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longing of the wicked will come to nothing”.

 Right from the first time I read this last verse in my study of the Psalm I was caused to think of the famous parable Jesus told in Luke 16: 19 – 31, often called the parable of The rich man and Lazarus.

Here we have a parable that touches on the realities of heaven and hell and in verse 10 we have a poetic picture of the same thing.

So what do these two similar accounts of the fate of the non – believer who refuses to fear or revere God?

The answer to this important question is both important and disturbing and I want to pick out what I believe are the three main things from these bible references of the fate of the non – believer who refuses to fear or revere God:

  1. The non- believer will see the heavenly blessings of the believer
  2. The non- believer will fret, fume and lament in agony
  3. The non – believer will be eternally not satisfied

So lets have a look at each of these three fate’s of the non – believer who refuses to fear or revere God.

  1. The non – believer will see God’s blessings of the believer

One of the greatest witnesses to the reality of God is how he blesses those who put him first and seek to follow him. Jesus speaks of in Matthew 5: 17 of non – believers seeing the blessing of our good works so that they will acknowledge and praise our God in heaven,

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”.

 In Jesus parable of Lazarus and the rich man he pictures the rich man going to hell and from there looking up to see how God was blessing the poor man Lazarus who had been a faithful believer in Luke 16: 23,

“In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side”.

 So the first consequence Psalm 112: 10 picks up of the continued refusal of a person to acknowledge God and fear him or reverence him is,

“The wicked man will see”

 So in this life and the next the believers blessing by their God and this will have an effect on him or her. This effect in this life might lead him or her to check out the Christian faith and lead them to faith in God themselves as we heard Jesus spoke of in Matthew 5: 17 and as Paul encourages us to do in Colossians 4: 5 – 6,

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone”.

 However the blessing of God on our lives in this might not have a positive outcome as Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 2: 15 – 16 where Paul alludes to the witness of our lives leading to people being saved or being like a bad odor to those not being saved, those who reject God even though they see him in us and his message we bring to them,

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

  1. The non- believer will fret, fume and lament in agony

Verse 10 not only says that the non- believer will see God blessing the believer in this life and in the life in heaven to come but what he or she sees will cause them to be vexed and even worse,

“He will gnash his teeth and waste away”

 Spurgeon writes,

“The child of wrath shall be obliged to witness the blessedness of the righteous, though the sight shall make him gnaw his own heart. He shall fret and fume, lament and wax angry, but he shall not be able to prevent it, for God’s blessing is sure and effectual. He shall gnash with his teeth. Being very wrathful, and exceedingly envious, he would fain grind the righteous between his teeth; but as he cannot do that, he grinds his teeth against each other”.

 David used the concept of gnashing teeth in Psalm 37: 12,

“The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them”.

 Jesus speaks of hell the place non – believers go after they die as a place of weeping and the gnashing of teeth in Matthew 8: 12,

“But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth

 Then in Jesus poor man Lazarus and the rich man in hell parable in Luke 16 we something of the frustration or gnashing of teeth by the un- believing rich man in his words to Abraham in heaven in verses 27 – 28,

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment”.

 Of course the answer is no which would have caused even more frustration or gnashing of teeth by the non – God honoring rich man.

  1. The non – believer will be eternally not satisfied

Not only will the witness of God’s blessing on his faithful followers in this life and the life to come be a source of frustration for the non – believer but it will also cause him or her to not be satisfied as we read in the last part of verse 10,

“The longing of the wicked will come to nothing”

 The nineteen sixties Rolling Stone song, “I Can’t get no satisfaction” with its chorus,

“I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no satisfaction.”

 Is the theme song of all non – believing people in this life and the next. Only in God and having a relationship with him can we find true and lasting satisfaction in this life and the next as David speaks of in Psalm 63: 2 – 5,

“I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live,

 and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you”.

 And Jesus says in Matthew 11: 28 – 30,

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

 Finally in Jesus parable of the poor man Lazarus and the rich man his picture of the effects of hell on the rich man is very disturbing as it speaks of eternal no satisfaction in Luke 16: 24,

“So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”

 This non- believing rich man is thirsty and his thirst cannot be quenched a picture of the no satisfaction nature of eternal life without God, which is what hell actually is. The person who did not want God in their lives in this life ends up not having God and all the good things that go with having him for eternity.

CONCLUSION

 We have seen then from this Alphabet Psalm 112 what are the many blessings God gives the person who fears him or reveres him and they include good families, financial security, being remembered for good after we die, help in the midst of difficulty and triumph over our enemies all of which led the writer of Psalm 112 to sing, “Hallelujah” or “Praise the Lord”.

We also saw how the believers life contrasted so majorly to the non – believers life and how it is a life that through trusting in God and his love leads to real and deep satisfaction even in the midst of problems and difficulties while the non – believing person has only a life and a eternity to look forward to of frustration and no satisfaction.

So with this conclusion in mind I wrote two more lines to my Alphabet poem that does not feature a letter from the Alphabet but does offer a great challenge and promise.

So turn to the Lord of heaven above

And be blessed by him by his amazing love.

I now conclude with my complete Alphabet poem based on Psalm 118 and of course a final word of prayer:

THE A – Z OF THE PERSON WHO BELIEVES IN GOD

(Based on Psalm 112 and the English alphabet)

 

Alleluia yes praise to the God above

Blessed is the person who knows God’s love

Captivated and committed to his word

Delighted in that word of the Lord.

 

Endowed with blessing God does give

Faithful servants who seek to live.

Honouring the God who made all things

Intense love for them he always brings.

 

Just look at their children people say

Knowledge and good manners come their way.

Long do we appreciate a believer’s life

Mercy did they show to those in strife.

 

No fear of debts for God has blessed them

Over and over God seems to help them.

Particularly in dark times they seem to shine

Quickly God answers them every time.

 

Upright and loving is the person God calls

Respected for their generosity to a cause.

Surely God’s people will never be shaken

Trusting in their God to heaven they’re taken.

 

Untroubled by bad news through confidence in prayer

Victory awaits them when God declares

With me they are in my arms of love

X ray like light God uses to raise them above.

 

Yet the man who continues to rebel against God

Zero satisfaction is the path he will trod.

So turn to the Lord of heaven above

And be blessed by him by his amazing love.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 Dear Father in heaven I praise you for your many blessings in my life in so many ways. For your love O Lord has saved me and given me my wonderful family, financial security, help in the midst of trouble and rest and fulfillment in this life.

I long that those who still do not know your love will see how you have blessed your people and seek to know the same God they know coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and through that faith avoid your eternal punishment and find instead the satisfaction that knowing you in our lives can only bring. In Jesus powerful name I pray Amen.

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PSALM 111 TALK: HALLELUJAH – GREAT ARE THE WORKS OF THE LORD

PSALM 111 TALK: HALLELUJAH – GREAT ARE THE WORKS OF THE LORD

 (The first Psalm is a series of Psalms that feature the word “Hallelujah” which means praise the Lord and this first Psalm speaks of praising the Lord because of his great works in saving his people and giving them so much from food to a land to live in and of course Salvation and therefore this demands our reverence, faith, obedience and praise.)

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

INTRODUCTION

 It is said that over 100 versions of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” have been sung and recorded and the popularity of this song will mean many more will come as well. Apparently Leonard Cohen recorded the song on his not so popular record album in 1984 called “Various Positions” and no one noticed it except Bob Dylan who sang it in some of his late eighties concerts.

Then a young artist by the name of Jeff Buckley recorded it on his debut album called “Grace” in 1994 and the song really took off. Interestingly Jeff Buckley tragically died in an accidental drowning before he finished his second studio album at the young age of 30.

What do the words of this very popular song mean?

The popular music magazine “Rolling Stone” in an article in 2012 on this song said that Leonard Cohen had, “Brilliantly mingled sex and religion” in his song Hallelujah. Leonard Cohen was asked why is the song so popular and he said, “It has a good Chorus”. Later Cohen is also said to have explained the meaning of the song as,

“It explains that many kinds of Hallelujah’s do exist, and all the perfect to the broken Hallelujah’s have equal value”.

 I have sung this song many times in Ukulele groups I have belonged to and as Leonard Cohen said it is the chorus that gets me in because it is that magical pure Hebrew word Hallelujah that strikes a deep spiritual chord within my soul. Hallelujah is a combination of two Hebrew words, “Hallelu”, praise and “Yah” which is the first letters of the special name for God we call either “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” and this is because the full name for God that “Yah” represents is the start of a name of God which was never fully written down because it was considered so sacred and only appears in the Hebrew texts a YHWH missing it’s all important vowels.

“Yah” then is the special name for the Lord our God whose name “Yahweh” which literally means, “ I am who I am” donating the supremacy and immortality of the God of the bible. “Hallelujah” translated into English usually is something like “Praise the Lord” and Psalm 111 is the first of a series of Psalms, 111 – 118 that are called “The Hallelujah Songs” (Allen Harman).

Leonard Cohen says that his “Hallelujah” song is a mixture of those who have faith in God in Cohen’s own words, “the perfect Hallelujah’s” and those who do not have faith in God or have doubts in God in Cohen’s own words, “the broken Hallelujah’s”.

Well Psalms 111 – 118 are part of what I call the perfect Hallelujah’s and we can be part of those perfect Hallelujah’s by uniting with the Psalmist who wrote them with our own praise for the Lord of Heaven and earth based on these Psalms.

Each Psalm in this series except for Psalm 114, which does not use the word “Hallelujah”, will have at the start of its title “Hallelujah” and then what the Psalmist is saying “Hallelujah” for. I must also say that Palm 118 does not have the Hebrew word “Hallelujah” in it but it is clearly is a song of praise for the Lord like Psalm 114 is. Psalm 118 continually uses the phrase, “His love endures forever”, so that Psalm will be entitled by me as “Hallelujah his love endures forever”.

So what is Psalm 111 praising God for?

The answer I think appears in the first seven words of verse 2,

“Great are the works of the Lord”

 These seven words then will be the theme of praise that I will develop in this Psalm talk. I must also comment on the structure of the first two Psalms of these “Hallelujah Songs” series as both Psalm 111 and 112 are what is called “acrostic” Psalms that Allan Harman explains for these two Psalms with the words,

“They start each half verse with the consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet”.

 Other acrostic Psalms start each verse with the consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet and of course Psalm 119, the longest Psalm in the book of Psalms starts each group of eight verses with a word that has a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Other acrostics Psalms are 9, 10, 25, 34, 37 and 145.

Why did the ancient Hebrew go to all the trouble of writing acrostic Psalms?

Here I would like to quote my answer to this question from my Psalm 37 talk,

“This devise could have been used to help people memorize it as ancient Hebrew people could only carry around the word of God in their heads as expensive and cumbersome scrolls were only kept in special places like the Temple. Another commentator, J.A Motyer suggested the acrostic Psalm was, “a poetic way of saying that a total coverage of the subject was being offered”. This is like saying that this is the “ABC” or the “A to Z” of a subject.”

 Most commentators believe that Psalm 111 and 112 is a pair of Psalms written by the same author who probably lived after the return from exile in Babylon. The two Psalms are exactly the same length, same style (acrostic) and contain similar Hebrew phrases like the phrase; “his righteousness endures forever” which is in verse 3 in Psalm 111 and verse 3 and 9 in Psalm 112.

H.C Leopold best puts why it was written after the return from Babylonian exile for me with these words,

“Since the era after the return from Babylon Captivity was one of discouragement and littleness of faith, one cannot help but feel that the psalm was written to hearten the faith of that generation by showing the nature of God’s works throughout the history of his chosen people and then concluding with the patient observation that the fear of the Lord and the doing of His commandments were still basic for God’s people as they had always been”.

These Psalms were incorporated then in the final book of Psalms, which we know, from evidence like the Dead Sea scrolls after the Jews returned from exile in Babylon. So if faith in God was little or shallow when the Jews returned from exile then how could it be described today?

Simply as people like Leonard Cohen reveal faith in God is even smaller than little yet men Cohen still show signs that their inner being aches for spiritual satisfaction and meaning as the popularity of Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” demonstrates.

I hope as you journey with me through these “Songs of Hallelujah” you will turn your broken Hallelujah’s into the Psalmist’s perfect Hallelujah’s and this will help strengthen our little faith in God and help us sing a real and true Hallelujah to the great God of the bible.

My breakdown then for Psalm 111 is:

  1. (vs. 1)   HALLELUJAH / PRAISE THE LORD

 

  1. (vs. 1a)   Hallelujah explained
  2. (vs. 1b)   Praise the Lord in your heart and in your church

 

  1. (2 – 9)   HOW GREAT ARE THE WORKS OF THE LORD

 

  1. (2 – 4)     God’s great works declared
  2. (5 – 9)     God’s great works fleshed out

  

  1. (vs. 10)   HOW GOD’S GREAT WORKS SHOULD EFFECT US

 

  1. (vs. 10a) Cause us to fear or reverence the Lord
  2. (vs. 10b) Cause us to trust and obey the Lord
  3. (vs. 10c) Cause us to praise the Lord

 

  1. (vs. 1)   HALLELUJAH / PRAISE THE LORD
  1. (vs. 1a)   Hallelujah explained

As I said in my introduction most of the Psalms between Psalm, 111 and 118 contain the Hebrew word, Hallelujah which is made up of two Hebrew words, “Hallelu” which is a word that exhorts the worshipper to praise and “Yah” which is an obviation of the special name for God first given to Moses we translate either as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” and means that God is the one and only God who has always existed as Moses was told, “I am who I am”.

Putting these two Hebrew words gives us the spiritually uplifting word “Hallelujah” and it’s meaning is usually translated in English versions of the bible as,

“Praise the Lord”

 This is the opening words of Psalm 111 and we will come across this term a number of times in the next seven Psalms giving them the special name of “The Hallelujah Psalms”.

I also mentioned in my introduction that in Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” speaks of a broken Hallelujah as one version puts in verse 3, which says,

“You say I took the name in vain,

I don’t even know the name,

But if I did, really what’s it to ya?

There’s a blaze of light in every word,

It doesn’t matter which you heard

The holy or the broken Hallelujah”.

 Maybe at the start of Psalm 111 we have an example of the “Holy” or as Leonard Cohen put it in an interview the “perfect” Hallelujah. Maybe because of our many sins we all sing or say a broken Hallelujah but I believe God wants and even longs for us to say Hallelujah even though he knows and sees our many sins and we will see from the second section of this Psalm that we who speak a broken Hallelujah can be united to the Holy or perfect God through what he has done for us out of his love in Christ when he died on the cross to forgive us our sins and make us right, holy, perfect before God as Paul says in Romans 5: 9,

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

 Yes we all, one way or another sing or say broken Hallelujah’s or “Praise the Lord” because of our many sins but through faith in Jesus Christ and not by any good deeds of ours our broken Hallelujah’s can become holy or perfect Hallelujah’s before God himself.

  1. (vs. 1b)   Praise the Lord in your heart and in your church

The writer of Psalm 111 then commences his acrostic Psalm with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet kicking of the second part of verse 1 and it deals with how and where he wants to sing and say his Hallelujah’s or Praise for his Lord. So lets have a look at the how and where he wants to praise the Lord.

  1. How he wants to praise the Lord

He expresses how he wants to praise the Lord with the words,

“I will extol the Lord with all my heart”.

 David Guzik explains this expression with these words,

“There would be nothing help back in his praise, it would be given to God with his whole heart”.

 He wants to pour out of his inner most being pure praise for God, if there is anything like pure or perfect praise from us it must come out of our hearts. I have heard a lot of singers over the years and the ones that stand out to me are the ones who sing from their hearts. They are people who sing sincerely what they really believe and they don’t hold back what they really want to say. Sadly of course what they believe is not uplifting or even true but I still admire a singer who sings from his or her heart because at least they are really giving themselves in their singing and not putting on an act.

The writer of Psalm 111 sang his praise for God from his heart and he really believed in it he was singing. Many examples of people in the bible could be cited here, as people who sang perfect or pure Hallelujah’s and I will only mention here two, one from the Old Testament, David or King David and one from the New Testament, the Apostle Paul.

First we have David who Leonard Cohen speaks of in his Hallelujah song and points out the broken Hallelujah of King David and mixed with the story of Sampson from the book of Judges Cohen’s song says,

“Your faith was strong but you needed proof,

You saw he bathing on the roof,

Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya.

She tied you to a kitchen chair,

She broke your throne she cut your hair

And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah”

 However even though David sinned and sinned really badly he knew the forgiveness of God that even forgave a King who fell to the twin serious sins of adultery and murder and in his confessional song he sang from his heat these words in Psalm 51: 14 – 15,

“Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise”.

This is the only real perfect Hallelujah or “Praise the Lord” we can sing as we might not have murdered someone or committed adultery but as Jesus says about sin in Matthew 5: 21 – 22,

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell”.

Then he speaks of the sin of adultery in verses 27 and 28 of the same chapter in Matthew,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.

Leonard Cohen is right on the money when he says we sing broken Hallelujah’s but like David we too can sing a perfect or holy Hallelujah through what Jesus did for us when he died on the cross for our sins.

My New Testament example of a man who sang God’s praise from his heart is the Apostle Paul who before he discovered the life changing forgiveness of God in Christ went around arresting Christians, having them put in prison, beaten up and even executed. However listen to this man Paul who could be said sang a spoke broken Hallelujah’s yet in Ephesians 1: 3 – 8 Paul speaks from his heart a perfect Hallelujah or Praise of the Lord that he says was made possible by Christ,

 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding”.

  1. Where he wants to Praise God

Then the writer of Psalm 111 tells us where he wants to Praise God or sing his Hallelujah,

“In the council of the upright and in the assembly”

 I call this praising God in his church because the expressions in this last phrase of verse 1 are Old Testament terms for what we call today as the Christian church.

David Guzik explains,

“The word assembly and the word for congregation speak of different size groups. Assembly (or council) refers to a smaller group – something like our modern small group, and congregation to the larger gatherings of God’s people”.

 The word “church” in modern times refers usually to the building alone that Christians meet in but as Mary Fairchild points out in her article on the “What is the Church”,

“The word “church” as rendered in the New Testament comes from the Greek term ekklesia which is formed from two Greek words meaning “an assembly” and “to call out” or “called out ones.”.

Fairchild gives a number of bible references in her articles but I like her reference to Ephesians 1: 22 – 23, where Paul speaks of the church as the body of Christ,

“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way”.

It is in the presence of other God fearing, God honouring and God praising people that the writer of Psalm 111 wants to sing Hallelujah or his praises to God and its here we should seek the same. As Peter also speaks about in 1 Peter 4: 11 where he speaks of how we in the church or body of Christ we should minister to one another with the unique gifts God has given us,

“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen”.

The hallelujah or praise of the Lord in church in small or large gatherings of God’s people are the holy or perfect ones given by forgiven broken people who know the forgiveness and love of God in Christ.

Peter was not speaking as some kind of perfect human being here but he too was broken by sin when he denied the Lord three times on the night before his death. Peter was met by Christ after Christ rose from the dead and three times he asked him if he loved him and three times Peter answered, “Yes Lord you know that I love you. Now forgiven by Christ love he could sing the perfect Hallelujah.

  1. (2 – 9)   HOW GREAT ARE THE WORKS OF THE LORD

1.  (2 – 4)     God’s great works declared

So each of these “Hallelujah Songs”, Psalms 111 to 118 will give lots of reasons for saying Hallelujah’s or Praise the Lord and the middle section of Psalm 111 gives us this Psalms reasons for singing Hallelujah or Praise the Lord and it is summarised well by verse 2,

“Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them”.

 So in verses 2 – 4 we have six truths about the great works of the Lord declared and they are:

  1. The Lord does great works (vs. 2a)
  2. God’s great works are pondered by those who delight in them (vs. 2b)
  3. God’s works are glorious and majestic (vs. 3a)
  4. God’s righteousness endures forever (vs. 3b)
  5. God’s wonders are caused to be remembered (vs. 4a)
  6. God’s works are gracious and compassionate (vs. 4b)

Lets have a closer look at each of these six truths about the great works of God:

  1. The Lord does great works (vs. 2a)

The God of the bible is not just a God who should be praised for who he is but also for what he has done. In fact the first part of verse 2 implies that we know how great God actually is by seeing and remembering what he has done,

“Great are the works of the Lord”

 The God of the bible is presented to us as a God of action or works and in verse 3 of this Psalm deeds. We see God’s works in this world in so many ways, for instance take the natural world, we find even in the microscopic world to the larger beautiful world we live in to the vastness of space God’s amazing design pointing to his glorious greatness as David declares in Psalm 19: 1,

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

 Notice how David sees in nature represented by the sky the evidence for the work of God’s hands. A son of Korah says this about the God of the bibles greatness in this world in Psalm 47: 2,

“How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great king over all the earth”,

 Then in the next Psalm, Psalm 48 verse 1 he says,

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise”.

The perfect Hallelujah then centres not on what we have done but on what God has done and because of what he has done we proclaim how great he is.

However the great works of God are not only visible in nature but are also seen in his saving works which are great as well. The writer of Psalm 111 will speak of these soon but for now I must state that God is seen as being great because he has reached down to us with his love as David declares in Psalm 57: 3,

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

 Israel knew this great God of loving action in so many ways and their very existence as a Nation over thousands of years is a result of this great loving works of their God, the God of the bible.

We who live after the coming of Jesus know the greatness of God’s loving works even more than the writer of Psalm 111 did as we know that God sent his only Son in the world to die for our sins on the cross to make a way for us back to him in heaven as Paul declares 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”.

It is only because of God’s great love and mercy, which Paul calls grace that we who sing broken Hallelujah’s can now sing holy or perfect Hallelujah’s praising the great love of God in and through the great works of his Son Jesus Christ.

  1. God’s great works are pondered by those who delight in them (vs. 2b)

God’s greatness is clearly seen in his works of creation and new creation in hearts and lives of those who believe in him but only appreciated or pondered or and declared by those who delight in what he has done for them as we read in the second part of verse 2 says,

“They are pondered by all who delight in him”

 Mankind’s rebellion to God which the bile calls sin will cause them to seek and find something other than God for answers to questions like who made the world and did Jesus really come from God to save us as Paul makes clear to us 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”.

Ancient people exchanged the glory of God and acknowledgement of his great works of creation to false images of God but modern man has come up with other foolish answers to the creation of the world and the explanation of who Jesus was and did.

Some would rather speak of Mother Nature than God or Evolution did this or that or it all happened by a great gigantic accident called the big bang.

They explain Jesus away by saying he is like Santa Clause a myth or they say his word and deeds where a invention of the church in the fourth Century.

However mother nature, evolution and big bangs cannot explain the intricate detail and beauty of the design and purpose of things like the human body or even just the working of say the human eye that can visualise the wonder of the creation around it. Can anyone honestly believe that chaos produced order or nothing produced something and that something made itself into the miracle of life on earth?

The sad truth is that so many people today, because of their rebellion to God’s rule do believe that something came out of nothing and the great design of the universe is just an incredible accident called evolution.

So the truth of verse 2b of this Psalm is that only those who ponder the God question and believe in him actually delight in his wonder and greatness. David challenged the people of his day in Psalm 34 verse 8 to try believing in God and see what he is like and what he can do for you,

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

Jesus put it another way in Matthew 7: 7,

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”.

 Our broken or sinful and empty Hallelujah’s can become perfect Hallelujah’s if we would but seriously take God at his word ponder, taste or seek him and because we do that then we will delight in him and praise his name.

  1. God’s works are glorious and majestic (vs. 3a)

Continuing the theme of the greatness of the works of the Lord the writer of Psalm 111 says this about them in verse 3a,

“Glorious and majestic are his deeds”

 I really like Nancy deClaisse – Walford’s comment on this,

“The Hebrew word translated ‘wonderful deeds’ is nipha’oth it means something that I simply cannot understand, or something different, striking, remarkable, something transcending the power of human intelligence and imagination”.

 I love the old hymn “I cannot tell” and its first verse goes like this,

“I cannot tell why he whom angels worship

Should set his love upon the sons of men.

Or, why as shepherd he should seek the wanderers

To bring them back, they know not how nor when.

But this I know, that he was born of Mary

When Bethlehem’s manger was his home

And that he lived at Nazareth and labored;

And so the Savior, Savior of this world has, come.

 God’s deeds are so much not like our deeds, God’s love is so much not like our love as the prophet Isaiah put it in Isaiah 55: 8

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord”.

These words are preceded by Isaiah’ version of David’s challenge to taste God and see and are like Jesus challenge to seek God and find, in verses 6 and 7 of the same chapter,

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon”.

Leopold says,

“When God acts, his deeds are always done on a high level and are worthy of the great Lord who performs them”.

So our Hallelujah or praise the Lord has substance if we are focused on his wondrous, majestic and great deeds or works for us.

  1. God’s righteousness endures forever (vs. 3b)

Then the writer links the wondrous, majestic and great deed or works of God to his righteousness in the second part of verse 3,

“And his righteousness endures forever”

I could not work out initially what this phrase actually means unto I read this written by Allan Harman,

“The word ‘righteousness’ in the Old Testament often means more than just uprightness. As here, it often denotes God’s saving activity on behalf of his people and in accordance with his covenant promises”.

So the God of the bible always acts true and sure according to his many promises and in Old Testament terms that is in accordance to his covenant, a fact that is also referred to in verse 5 of this Psalm.

God can be relied upon because he is Holy and Righteous and we compared to him are as Isaiah puts it in Isaiah 64: 6,

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags”.

The Old Testament covenant offers God’s promise of salvation freely given by God to his chosen people Israel however it was not fully realised unto Christ came to fulfill or complete the covenant God by the shedding of Christ blood payed for our sins. We see a clear understanding of this in Romans 4 where Paul says that even Abraham, the father of the covenant was saved by faith, Roman 4: 1 – 3,

“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Paul completes his arguments about how Abraham was saved under the old covenant through faith that was made complete in Christ who gives us God’s righteousness through what he did on the cross, Romans 4: 22 – 25,

“This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification”.

So we can sing or say the perfect Hallelujah because Jesus has given us the gift of God’s righteousness through faith in Christ and his death and resurrection for us.

  1. God’s wonders are caused to be remembered (vs. 4a)

God has gone to a lot of trouble to make sure that his great works and deeds will be remembered as the first part of verse says,

“He has caused his wonders to be remembered”

God chose a people through calling Abraham and this people’s history is a living testimony of the wonderful amazing and great deeds of God and in this people lives the traditions of the Passover which is a major example of a great and wondrous deeds of God. Interestingly not only is the story of the Passover written down in the bible but also it is year after year celebrated and remembered by the Jews in the festival of the Passover.

God made what Jesus did for us another and even greater act of love in history and Jesus, who died for our sins on the cross during the Jewish Passover instituted a memorial service for Christians to remember his wondrous act of love when he died on the cross as recorded in the Gospels and made clear as a memorial act for all Christians by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: 23 – 25,

“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes”.

But of course the prime way God has caused his wonders to be remembered is through the creation of his word the bible and Peter says this about the creation of that in 2 Peter 1: 21,

“For prophecy (scripture) never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”.

Paul says this about God’s word the bible in 2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17,

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

So when we use what God made to cause our remembrance of his wondrous deeds namely the bible in our praise of him we are not giving him a broken Hallelujah but a perfect one.

Interestingly there is a number of history of Israel Psalms like Palm 78 and in verses 1 – 4 of that Psalm we read,

“My people hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done”.

  1. God’s works are gracious and compassionate (vs. 4b)

Then the writer of Psalm 111 gives us the main thrust of the great and wondrous deeds of God expressed all through the bible and that his deeds of gracious love and compassion, he writes,

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate”.

This expression seems to be a very clear echo of the famous words about the loving attributes of God in Exodus 34 verse 6,

“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness”.

Here God comes close to Moses and what is said of God is that he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. All through the bible and indeed the history of Israel God’s love and compassion is on show. On so many occasions he could have destroyed completely this sinful and stiff necked people but so often he showed them love and forgiveness.

Even David, who I mentioned as a part of Leonard Cohen’s example of a broken Hallelujah as he slept with another man’s wife and then had her husband killed to cover up her pregnancy owing to his act of lustful adultery was forgiven by God. Why did God forgive David?

David answers that at the start of his famous Psalm of confession, Psalm 51: 1,

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgression”.

Then in the New Testament God’s love is declared for all the world in John 3: 16,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

Paul tells us clearly how God demonstrates his love for us in Romans 5: 8,

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

The sending of Jesus and the death of Jesus for us is God’s greatest great wondrous deed or act of love and Paul says that it is that act of love that helps transform our lives as Paul goes on to say in Romans 5: 9 – 11,

“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation”.

Our perfect Hallelujah or Praise of the Lord should be out of thanks for God’s great love and compassion for us expressed in praise and thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins on the cross and rose from the dead to give us new life.

  1. (5 – 9)     God’s great works fleshed out

 The composer of Psalm 111 after stating what is the basis of his Hallelujah or praise for the Lord is namely the great works or deeds of God for him and his people now fleshes out those deeds of God in verse 5 to 9 and he speaks of four actual things God gave his people and they are:

  1. Food (vs. 5)
  2. Land (vs. 6)
  3. Law (vss. 7 – 8)
  4. Redemption (vs. 9)

Lets have a closer look each of these four things:

  1. Food (vs. 5)

In verse 5 we read of God’s basic provision of food for his people,

“He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever”.

This provision of food is probably a reference to the manna God gave his people, Israel in the wilderness for 40 years. This was given by a miraculous deed or work of God and it was such a strange substance that the wilderness people called it Manna which literally means, “what is it”, Exodus 16: 15.

Once the people entered the Promised Land we are told in Joshua 5: 10 – 12,

On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. 11 The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. 12 The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan”.

Note how the manna stopped once the people were in the Promised Land because now God could provide them food the normal way which is through crop growing and other farming techniques that God has blessed man with over the course of history.

God’s provision of food in verse 5 is said to be God remembering his covenant forever and this by Matthew Poole,

“Of his covenant which he made with Abraham and with his seed forever; whereby he obliged himself to be their God, and to provide all necessaries for them”. (Genesis 17)

In the New Testament we have a interesting incident relating to God’s provision of manna and that is how some of the people who were fed freely by Jesus at the feeding of the 5,000 came after Jesus to feed them without having to work for their food and Jesus says this to them in John 6: 26 – 27,

“Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, and you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

Then in verse 29 Jesus says this,

“Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Finally Jesus says to this group of what I call freeloaders in verses 32 – 33,

“Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Jesus went on of course to declare that he is the bread of life and he is using the physical provision of food to speak of the spiritual food or nourishment we all need to get people by seeking him for the right reasons but of course they like most people today reject Jesus offer of spiritual nourishment and this is why so many people end up in such a mess both physically and socially.

Our perfect Hallelujah or Praise of the Lord should also include how he provides us with both physical and spiritual food as it is part of God’s great deeds or work spelt out in our daily lives.

  1. Land (vs. 6)

The second of the four things the writer of Psalm 111 speaks of fleshing out his great deeds or work in the history of his people Israel is the provision of his Promised land for them,

“He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations”.

 Right back to Abraham the land known as Canaan was promised to his descendants, which was a land, occupied by many different nations of people at the time of its conquest by Israel.

God did not take the land of these nations away from them to spite them or even just to favor his special people but because the provision of this land was also a judgment on the great sins over many generations of these ancient Canaanites. Israelites would show the world how God wants people to live as we read in Deuteronomy 7: 1 – 6,

“When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you—

and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.

 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

 Of course the Israelites failed to obey God in both driving out the wicked people God was judging and even after time turned to the ways of the Canaanites and from time to time God judged Israel for this and especially through the Assyrians in Israel and Babylonians in Judah God judged his people by driving them out of the Promised Land.

For Judah this captivity in Babylon only lasted for 70 years and God restored them to the Promised land around 539BC.

So this verse 6 in Psalm 111 would have spoken to this generation of God’s people as the writer of that Psalm probably wrote it during that time and so they saw,

“The power of his works”.

 For us we have a greater inheritance than a piece of earthly land as our Promised Land in Christ is heaven itself as Hebrews 9: 15 says,

“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”.

And Peter spells out how this eternal inheritance of Heaven is given to us by God’s great mercy or grace in Jesus Christ and this should cause us to say Hallelujah or Praise the Lord in 1 Peter 1: 3 – 4,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you”.

  1. Law (vss. 7 – 8)

The start of verse 7 mentions again the great works of God in nature,

“The works of his hands are faithful and just”

 Then the parallel rhyming thought is a reference to the law of God, which in Old Testament terms is the word of God,

“All his precepts are trustworthy”

 One bible dictionary I consulted defined a biblical precept this way,

“A commandment, an authoritative rule for action; in the Scriptures generally a divine injunction in which man’s obligation is set forth”.

 This verse reminds me of Psalm 19 that presents the two ways God makes himself known to us, which is through his works of nature, represented by the first verse of that Psalm,

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

 The second way God makes himself known is through his word, which, as I said in Old Testament terminology is the law or precepts represented in Psalm 19 by verse 7,

“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple”.

Notice how David speaks of the law or God’s revealed word as being perfect and Psalm 111 says that God’s revelation of himself is both “just” and “trustworthy”. This means that no matter how out of step we as believers in the God of the Bible might seem compared to the way others think and behave in the world around us we must trust in God and his word because only there will we find real truth that not only makes wise the simple but gives real refreshment for the soul as David puts it.

Paul speaks of how we need to not be conformed to the pattern of the world in Romans 12: 2 but be transformed by the renewing of our minds,

“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”.

It is through God’s word that we learn the truth and it is that truth that renews us or as Jesus puts in John 8: 31 – 32, will free us,

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

 Then in verse 8 the writer of Psalm 111 says this about the precepts or word of God,

“They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness”.

 The word of God presents an image of what God is like and we saw in the first part of this middle section of the Psalm that God is great, glorious, majestic, righteous or here in verse 8 upright and steadfast in loving faithfulness. This last part of what God is like is a echo as I said before of Exodus 34: 6,

“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness”.

So God is all these things so his word is all those things as well because his word is an expression of who he is and what he has done for us that flows out of who he is. If God is great, glorious and majestic then his word is great, glorious and majestic and here in verse 8 our writer of Psalm 111 is saying that God’s word is steadfast (reliable), faithful (loving) and upright (always true totally) and of course this is because the author of the laws or word of God is all these things as well.

John in his first chapter of his Gospel starts by talking about the word of God and says this, verse 1,

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

 Then in verse 14, John tells us who this “Word of God” is,

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

So Jesus is God’s word become flesh and so if God’s word is a reflection of what God is like than all that God is like can be seen in Jesus and therefore all the wonderful attributes of God that the writer of Psalm 111 speak of can be seen in Jesus, namely, true greatness, glory and majesty and here in verse 8 our writer of Psalm 111 is saying that God’s word is steadfast (reliable), faithful (loving) and upright (always true totally).

When I taught junior High school scripture to teenagers who usually knew nothing about God and his word I was often asked two questions,

“How do you know that there is a God? and

“If God is there what is he like?

The answer to these two often asked questions is, Jesus, we know there is a God because Jesus came to call us to repent and believe in him and we know what God is like because Jesus is as Paul says in Colossians 1: 15 – 20 is,

“The image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross”.

 By the way verse 15 is not saying Jesus was born but the term “Firstborn” means that Jesus is supreme over all creation and is then a term that is saying he is God or as we know from the teaching of the New Testament the second part of the united three in one God which is called the Holy Trinity.

So if we want to sing or say a perfect Hallelujah or Praise the Lord as opposed to a broken or sinful Hallelujah we need to use in our praise of God the word of God we call the bible.

  1. Redemption (vs. 9)

The last fleahing out of the greatness of God who we are praising with that special word Hallelujah is found in verse 9, which says,

“He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant holy and awesome is his name”.

 This is clearly speaking of what I call Old Testament salvation based on God’s love outworking in ancient history to create and save a people or a special nation that it seems he wanted to use as a means towards saving people from every nation. We see hints of this in the very calling of the Nation of Israel when given the renewed covenant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to the saved nation of Israel at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19: 3 – 6,

“Then Moses climbed up the mountain to meet with God. The Lord spoke to him on the mountain and said, “Tell this to the Israelites, the great family of Jacob: ‘You people saw what I did to the people of Egypt. You saw that I carried you out of Egypt like an eagle and brought you here to me. So now I tell you to obey my commands and keep my agreement. So if you do this, you will be my own special people. The whole world belongs to me, but I am choosing you to be my own special people. You will be a special nation—a kingdom of priests.’ Moses, you must tell the Israelites what I have said.”

Note three truths here that relate to Psalm 111 verse 9 and they are:

  1. God redeemed his people Israel (vs. 9a)
  2. God only renewed his covenant at Mt. Sinai (vs. 9b)
  3. God is called both Holy and awesome (vs. 9c)

Let me comment on each of these great truths here that relate to Psalm 111 vs. 9:

  1. God redeemed his people Israel (vs. 4)

The writer of Psalm 111 would have had in mind the redemption of the nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt when he wrote verse 4, that simply says,

“He provided redemption for his people”

 God’s saving acts of redemption happened all through the little nation of Israel’s history. I believe we cannot fully grasp the miraculous nature of Israel surviving as a nation for so long today as in ancient times hundreds maybe even thousands of nations have come an gone often wiped out by bigger more humanly powerful nations.

Even in Roman times we have the example of the powerful North African nation of Carthage but in 146BC after years of conflict with the Romans Carthage as a nation fell to the Roman sword and was virtually wiped out. Israel in the north suffered a similar fate to Carthage in 722BC at the hands of the Assyrians.

It seemed Judah to the south had suffered the same fate in 587BC to the hands of the Babylonians but a large number of the Jews from Jerusalem and Judah went into exile in Babylon and in 539BC.

God’s redemption for Judah came in the form of the Persians who then allowed the Jews to return to Israel and even allowed them to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. So if this Psalm was written after the return from Babylonian captivity in exile then the words of verse 9 also applies to God’s redemption of his people from exile in Babylon. So again this tiny nation of Israel miraculously survived for another 400 years so that Christ could come for God to be able to offer salvation or redemption to the whole world.

As the prophet’s like Isaiah predicted like Isaiah 59: 20,

“The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins, declares the Lord”.

 And to the whole world in Isaiah 42: 6 – 7,

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness”.

In the ministry of Jesus we see these prophecies of Isaiah fulfilled both literally and spiritually and Jesus refers even John the Baptist to his fulfillment of the bibles prophecies in his ministry on earth when even John the Baptist and some of his close disciples had questions about Jesus being the Messiah and Jesus answer refers to another Messiah prophecy recorded in Luke 7: 22 – 23,

 “So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (Isaiah 35:4 – 6)

 Jesus saw his mission on earth as a spiritually redemptive one as we see from his own words in Mark 10: 45,

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

 The ransom is his life that redeems the payment for our sins as Paul states clearly in Ephesians 1: 7,

“ In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”.

The people of God in the writers time could look back to their ancestors being redeemed or saved out of Egypt and together with their own redemption from exile and captivity in Babylon which was an experience they could sing or say a perfect Hallelujah to their saving God.

We as Christians can look back to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our redemption or salvation and with that in mind sing or say the perfect Hallelujah to praise God as well.

  1. God only renewed his covenant at Mt. Sinai (vs. 9b)

Then the writer in the next phrase of verse 9 speaks again about the covenant of God with his people,

“He ordained his covenant forever”

 There are two major covenants in the bible that God has ordained, the covenant of law and covenant of grace, which the New Testament calls “The New Covenant.

After Abraham, Isaac and Jacob God ordained a major renewal and restating to Moses at Mt. Sinai of his covenant with his people of Israel. In this restating of the covenant is introduced to the covenant the idea of the law and the keeping of the law.

The big jump of course in God’s covenant is seen in the New Testament in its renewal and in fact fulfillment through the work of the coming of the Messiah who of course is presented in the New Testament as Jesus Christ and the word Christ is not a last name for Jesus but a title which is the Greek word for Messiah. This covenant shift and fulfillment is so great it is called “The New Covenant” or the Covenant of grace as we read of in Hebrews 8: 6 – 13,

“But the work that has been given to Jesus is much greater than the work that was given to those priests. In the same way, the new agreement that Jesus brought from God to his people is much greater than the old one. And the new agreement is based on better promises. If there was nothing wrong with the first agreement, then there would be no need for a second agreement. But God found something wrong with the people. He said,

“The time is coming, says the Lord, when I will give a new agreement to the people of Israel and to the people of Judah. It will not be like the agreement that I gave to their fathers. That is the agreement I gave when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. They did not continue following the agreement I gave them, and I turned away from them, says the Lord.

 10 This is the new agreement I will give the people of Israel. I will give this agreement in the future, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write my laws on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

 11 Never again will anyone have to teach their neighbours or their family to know the Lord. All people—the greatest and the least important—will know me. 12 And I will forgive the wrongs they have done, and I will not remember their sins.”

13 God called this a new agreement, so he has made the first agreement old. And anything that is old and useless is ready to disappear”

Note how the writer of the letter to the Hebrews quotes from Jeremiah 31: 31 – 32 which is a prophecy for the coming of the New Covenant of God.

So the writer of Psalm 111 speaks of God’s covenant being ordained by God forever as it is based on this great covenant of God that God will use to judge and save all mankind.

We know from the teaching of the New Testament that it is by grace we are saved and this is for all people from every nation both Jews and Gentiles (non – Jews) as Paul declares 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— not by works, so that no one can boast”.

Concerning the difference between Jews and Gentiles Paul says in Galatians 3: 26 – 29,

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

So in our perfect Hallelujah or praise of God we need to include our praise and thanks to God for his grace in saving us which is expressed in the New Covenant or agreement between God and us which came into being or was ordained forever through the coming and dying of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. God is called both Holy and awesome (vs. 9c)

The last phrase of verse 9 simply says,

“Holy and awesome is his name”

 Two final biblical attributes of God close this verse and they are holy and awesome which are stated as closing remarks to this section part of the second section of this Psalm which has been fleshing out the great works of God especially in saving his people which we relate to through the new covenant and its promise of salvation through God’s grace.

In the context of what has been said about God’s great works for his people the writer of Psalm 111 is saying that the God of the bible is:

  1. Holy
  2. Awesome

Lets have a look at these two final attributes of God:

  1. Holy

He is Holy because his ways and acts of love are so different than any of any creature or so-called God can do or has done. As we read in Psalm 77: 13,

“Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?”

He is Holy because he is so different than us in his perfection and righteousness, as we see in Psalm 99: 3 – 4,

“Let them praise your great and awesome name— he is holy. The King is mighty, he loves justice-  you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right”.

Peter applies the concept of the holiness of God to the life we should live because of the grace of God and says this in 1 Peter 1: 13 – 16,

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Our lives lived for God in holiness or as Peter says, obedience to God is a way of offering God a perfect Hallelujah or praise to the Lord as with our lives we show God and the people around us that we are children of the grace and in this we give glory to God and not ourselves.

  1. Awesome.

The attribute of Awesomeness is a wonderful way to finish this second section of Psalm 111 as it speaks in another way of the greatness of God. Many Psalms have made the same point and one Psalm in book two of Psalms, Psalm 66 features the concept of the awesomeness of God which a term devalued today because of the way it is used as a popular slang word, verses 3 and 4 contain key concepts to Psalm 66 and they read this way,

Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you,

 they sing the praises of your name.”

I would like to quote from my Psalm 66 Psalm talk in my explanation and application of this word awesome in the context of making a perfect rather than a broken Praise to God or Hallelujah,

“The God this writer wants us to focus our praise on is an awesome God of deeds. This is the first time we come across the “awesome” word in this psalm. As I said in my introduction don’t think of the slang meaning of this word which is as Robert Lane Greene says is the default description for anything good”.

 Rather lets think of the “Dictionary.com” meaning for awesome which is,

 “Causing or inducing awe, inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration or fear”.

 This God should be feared because the next line of verse 3 reads,

 “So great is your power”

 The writer of Hebrews says this in Hebrews 10: 31, As the English standard version and many others translate it,

 “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.

 The fear hear is reverence or respect for a God who is so big and even dangerous if you are on the wrong side of him.

 So God is great, glorious, powerful and awesome and this is who our loud and joyful praise should be focus on”.

  1. (vs. 10)   HOW GOD’S GREAT WORKS SHOULD EFFECT US

We come then to the last verse of this Psalm 111 and I have made it a separate section to the Psalm because it moves on to a different concept or idea in the Psalm. I understand that verse 10 is the writer of Psalm 111 attempt to apply what he has been speaking about in making what I have called a perfect Hallelujah as compared to a broken Hallelujah and Hallelujah remember is the Hebrew word we translate in English as Praise the Lord.

The verse has three aspects to this application, which are:

  1. (vs. 10a) Cause us to fear or reverence the Lord
  2. (vs. 10b) Cause us to trust and obey the Lord
  3. (vs. 10c) Cause us to praise the Lord

These three aspects of our writer of Psalm 111 application of making a perfect Hallelujah become then my three parts of this third and last section of this Psalm.

  1. (vs. 10a) Cause us to fear or reverence the Lord

The first part is the phrase in verse that says,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”

 This follows what we read at the end of verse 9 that God or the God of the bible is both Holy and Awesome. If he is Holy, different and perfect and awesome, great and powerful then he deserves our respect and worship, which the Old Testament calls fear.

This verse reads and sounds like it comes from the book of proverbs and Allan Harman picks out four similar book of Proverbs references that speak of the fear of the Lord and wisdom, Proverbs 1: 7, 9:10, 15: 33. I would like to quote the first of these Proverbs 1: 7,

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

Note how this verse, very similar to some of the wording of Psalm 111: 10 speaks of how fearing God or reverencing him also brings knowledge as well as wisdom which Godless people simply do not have or will not have if they continue to rebel against God.

Paul says in Romans 1: 21,

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

People are wilfully living their lives without any acknowledgment of God ignoring God and even defying him and his laws and then wondering why their lives fall foul to his judgments in the form of sinful consequences in their lives and of course all this will lead to the ultimate judgment to come when they will stand before his throne in the final judgement.

As Paul and that verse in Proverbs points out the not fearing God or reverencing him also has consequences to our way of thinking.

We might appear to be smart or even intelligent but we will lack real wisdom in life if we continue to ignore God and not fear him or revere him as Holy and Awesome or great.

The broken Hallelujah that Leonard Cohen spoke of in his song Hallelujah comes from the mouth of he or she who is still in rebellion to God and his rule in their lives but the perfect Hallelujah that he spoke about comes from the lips and lives of those who acknowledge God as Holy, Awesome and great.

  1. (vs. 10b) Cause us to trust and obey the Lord

What I have just said might sound very negative to some but a very positive application of singing, saying and living a perfect Hallelujah, reverencing him as God leads to according to the writer of Palm 111,

“All who follow his precepts have good understanding”.

 The writer of Psalm 111 could also have had the verse on fearing God and gaining wisdom and understanding from the book of Job as Job 28: 28 says,

“And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”

 The positive side of fearing God is that it leads to wisdom and understanding and Paul even says in 1 Corinthians 1 that what we believe about God and especially about Christ and his death on the cross for our sins is foolishness to those who do not believe in God but is in fact God’s wisdom that leads us into wisdom and understanding, ! Corinthians 1: 18 – 21,

 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe”.

So knowledge that does not include God is foolishness but those who are spiritually perishing consider those who include God in their understanding of things fools. However Paul is saying that when we come to understand and accept that Jesus died for our sins on the cross we are not only given understanding and wisdom but we are saved from perishing before the Judgement seat of God.

I leave my last word on this positive aspect of fearing or reverencing God to Spurgeon who writes,

“To know God as to walk aright before him is the greatest of all the applied sciences. Holy reverence of God leads us to praise him, and this is the point, which the psalm drives at, for it is a wise act on the part of a creature towards his Creator. A good understanding have all they that do his commandments. Obedience to God proves that our judgement is sound”

 The perfect Hallelujah or Praise the Lord is a result of fearing or reverencing God which puts God in his place as Lord and King of our lives and this is expressed in our gratitude for his saving work for us in Christ.

  1. (vs. 10c) Cause us to praise the Lord

 The Psalm commenced with the Hebrew word Hallelujah which is translated in English as “Praise the Lord” and it finishes with a statement of how if we understand and believe in the greatness of God particularly seen in his deeds of saving works then we should praise him eternally,

“To him belongs eternal praise”

 The book of Revelation which is the closest we come to seeing or at least understanding what its is like in heaven speaks of great and wonderful eternal Hallelujah’s as people and Angels praise the Lord and my final bible reference comes from a passage in Revelation that speaks of this great eternal perfect praise of God, Revelation 19: 6 – 10,

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

 “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”

 In that great wedding supper of the Lamb (Jesus Christ) and his bride the church, which we who believe in him are part of will be the place that great perfect Hallelujah’s will be sung and spoken and these Hallelujah’s or Praise for the Lord will then be a eternal praise that the great God of the bible deserves.

As I have been referring to Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” all through this Psalm talk I have attempted to write my closing original poem in the structure of that song. Then I will close this Psalm talk with a prayer.

THE PERFECT HALLELUJAH

(Based on Psalm 111 /

and using the structure of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”)

 Now I heard there is a perfect way

To praise the Lord every day

For you know he is the Lord who really loves yah?

It goes like this, he is the best

He says to us I long to bless

He wants us all to say Hallelujah.

 

Chorus:

 

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

So I will seek to impart

My praise for God with all my heart

So come an join the perfect Hallelujah

God’s works are great they show his love

So enjoy and praise the Lord above

And join his family in Hallelujah.

 

Chorus:

 

The perfect praise for God above

Praises God for his deeds of love

Majestic is the God who really love’s Ya.

He saves your life and his word is true

He even provides food for you

So join me now and sing your Hallelujah.

 

Chorus:

 

He sent to earth his only Son

Who through the cross our salvation won

So come and praise him now with Hallelujah.

His steadfast love is great and sure

It’s made a way to heavens shore

And there we’ll join the angels in Hallelujah.

 

Chorus:

 

So this is my song of praise

For an awesome God in so many ways

Revere him now and sing your Hallelujah

Follow what his word does say

And you will prove him every day

And then you’re sing the perfect Hallelujah.

 

Chorus:

 

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Words by: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 Father in heaven we lift our voices up to you in Hallelujah. Yes Lord we long to sing and say the perfect Hallelujah, which we know from your word, speaks of all the great things you have done for us. You sent your Son from heaven above to come to earth and become one of us to then die for our sins on the cross so that we can be forgiven and one day join with other believers and the Angels in heaven to evermore sing Hallelujah. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

PSALM 110 TALK: JESUS THE MESSIAH IN THE LAST DAYS

PSALM 110 TALK: JESUS THE MESSIAH IN THE LAST DAYS

 (A Psalm of David that is a prophecy of the coming Messiah who is going to be a priest / king who has the promise of God to rule and have victory over all of God’s enemies with God’s powerful right hand giving him total assistance in the last days before the final judgment comes.)

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

INTRODUCTION

Over forty years ago I completed my three years course of bible and theological study at Bible College at The Sydney Missionary and Bible College known by many as SMBC. One of the unexpected advantages of going to a live in Bible College for three years for me was the constant theological discussions and arguments outside of the lecture room with my fellow bible college students.

Most times these friendly discussions and even at times heated arguments were on topics I really enjoyed discussing but one area of theology I usually didn’t enjoy discussing was what is called Eschatology which is the bibles teaching on the last days. The Oxford Dictionary defines eschatology as,

“The part of theology concerned with death, judgment and the final destiny of the soul and mankind.”

 Not that I did not have a basic understanding of this very important part of Christian theology but I discovered at these theological discussions that often became heated arguments on Eschatology that many different views are held on the details they believe the bible gives concerning the coming of Christ which is still to happen.

There are three main systems of Eschatology put forward and all of them originate in their interpretation of Revelation 20 and its concept of what seems a 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth. The three interpretations of this are Premillennialism, Postmillennialism and Amillennialism. I found good basic explanations of this on an article on the Internet by Christopher R. Smith, (to help you understand Smith’s quote Millennium is the word for 1,000 years).

“Premillennialism is the belief that Christ’s coming will be pre-millennial, that is, it will precede the millennium. Postmillennialism is the belief that Christ’s coming will be post-millennial, that is, it will follow the millennium.  And Amillennialism, for its part, is the belief that Christ’s coming will be without a millennium, that is, that there be no worldwide era of peace and justice at the end of history.  (This view interprets the description “So in terms of derivation of the millennium at the end of Revelation symbolically.)

 By the way Christopher R. Smith favors the Postmillennial position but I lean towards the Amillennialism position as I believe that the use of numbers in the entire book of Revelation is symbolic, like 666 which is the number always falling short of the perfect number 7, so 666 is a number representing Satan and 7 represents God.

The number 1,000 years is the number used in Revelation for a set period of time or age.

So I believe the 1,000 -year period of time in Revelation 20 is in fact our age often called the Gospel age.

This any many other issues arising from these Eschatology systems became a popular theological discussion amongst students at Bible College and one night at College I witnessed a very heated discussion on this issue and it even seemed like a couple of these students were so worked up they might have come to blows but a Senior student stepped in and broke it up and said don’t you know there is a fourth system of Eschatology that could settle this argument and with all the students attention including mine he said its called Panmillenialism and we all said what is that. He said, “It’s the system that teaches it will all pan out in time”.

Panmillenialism is a rather crude theological joke that has a good Eschatology point that what the bible says about the coming of Christ is a matter of the fulfillment of biblical prophecy much of which is still to come and how that biblical prophecy is to actually worked out by God is only, for us what I call biblical speculation.

Panmillenialism does not mean that Eschatology is not a serious important subject but it says that in the end the actual details of the Lords return and what leads up to it is something Christians will have to be prepared to differ on unto it becomes clear what the details of God’s plan actually turns out to be. I like “Gotquestions?org” statement on this,

“Eschatology helps us to understand the Bible’s prophetic passages and how to live our lives in response to what God is going to do in the end times. There is a great deal of controversy in Eschatology, but that does not relieve us of our responsibility to study and understand what the Bible teaches about the end times. An understanding of Eschatology will eliminate many of the fears we have about the future. Our God is sovereign, He has a plan, and it will all unfold according to His perfect will and timing. This is a great encouragement to those who are in Christ!”

I believe Psalm 110 is a Psalm that deals with Eschatology or some of the bibles teaching on the last days. It was not always thought to be about this and in fact it was not probably what David had in mind when he originally wrote it. I believe David had a strong view of God’s inspired prophecy concerning a coming Messiah and he could have thought that this Messiah would be his very own son, Solomon.

If David wrote Psalm 72 or at least helped Solomon write his coronation Psalm then the predicted reign and rule of the King in Psalm 72 does not fit Solomon’s reign and rule as king actually worked out and therefore it also points to a coming great king from the line of David that would be the Messiah or promised liberating king from God.

We know that Psalm 110 was written by David because the Hebrew heading says it was and also Jesus attributes it to him (Matthew 22: 43) at Peter attributes it to David as well in Acts 2: 34). Jesus even says in Matthew 22: 43,

“David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him “Lord”

 An issue I will discuss in some length in the first part of the first section of this Psalm talk.

For now I want to point out that all Jewish thought and discussion on Psalm 110 since the time of David to the coming of Jesus featured Psalm 110 as a Psalm about the Eschatology of the Messiah, or prophecy concerning the Messiah in the last days leading up the great and final judgment of God over all the nations.

David and people after him might have used this Psalm as a pre- battle Psalm or even a worship Psalm in the Temple but it’s underlining message is that God through his Messiah, priest / king would one day have final victory over all God’s enemies forever and any battle before that is but a prelude to the Messiah’s great coming days of victory over God’s enemies.

This Psalm for some reason or another was not placed into the book of Psalms unto after the return from exile when the Kings of the line of David was ended. Maybe the Psalm was known and well used in pre-exile Temple worship but for some reason was not part of the previous four books of Psalms.

The fact that this Psalm speaks of a great ruler or priest / king extending his rule (scepter vs. 2) from Zion or Jerusalem to the world only reinforces that the post exile Jews looked forward to the coming of the Messiah as their great Messiah priestly king.

With the theme of “Jesus the Messiah in the last days my outline for this Psalm is:

  1. (vs. 1)   THE MESSIAH AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD

      1.  (vs. 1)   Why Jesus is the Messiah

      2.  (vs. 1)   The Messiah promised to be at the right hand  of God

      

       2. (2 – 3)   THE MESSIAH AND HIS FOLLOWERS RULE

       1. (vs. 2a)   The Messiah rules from Zion

       2. (vs. 2b)  The Messiah rules over his enemies

       3. (vs. 3)     The Messiah’s willing followers

      

        3.  (4 – 7)   THE MESSIAH’S PROMISED VICTORY

  1. (vs. 4)   The Messiah the priestly king
  2. (vs. 5a) The Messiah has God’s right hand
  3. (vs. 5b -6) The Messiah’s victory over his enemies
  4. (vs. 7)     The Messiah is refreshed and victorious

 

1.  (vs. 1)   THE MESSIAH AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD

  1. (vs. 1)   Why Jesus is the Messiah

 Psalm 110 is said to be the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament and Jesus and three of the 5 New Testament writers quote something of this Psalm in their writings. Those New Testament writers are Paul (1 Corinthians 15: 25, Ephesians 1: 20 and Colossians 3: 1) Peter (Acts 2: 34 – 35, 1 Peter 3: 21 – 22) and of course the most well quoted Psalm 110 New Testament writer is the writer of letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 1: 12, 5: 6, 7: 17, 8: 1 and 10: 12 – 14).

Jewish scholars who of course reject Jesus as the Messiah as Rabbi Tevia Singer recently wrote,

“Psalm 110 represents one of the New Testaments most stunning, yet clever, mistranslations of the Jewish Scriptures. Moreover, the confusion created by the Christianization of this verse (verse 1, Psalm 110) was further perpetuated and promulgated by numerous Christian translations of the Bible”.

 Now that is a really scathing attack on Christianity and the New Testament.

Singer’s attack on the New Testament revolves around the translation of the first verse of Psalm 110,

“The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand”.

 Singer takes issue with this translation when it deals with the two different Hebrew words for “Lord”. The first “Lord” is clearly God as it is “Yahweh” the special name for God while the second Hebrew word for Lord is “Adonai” which is used in other parts of the Old Testament as merely a respectful address between man and man like 1 Samuel 22: 12,

“Saul said, “Listen now, son of Ahitub.“Yes, my lord,” he answered”.

“Lord” here is “Adhoni” but I looked up my copy of The Analytical Concordance of the bible by Young and found dozens of cases when the Hebrew word for Lord is “Adonai” and is used to describe God and first time this happens is Genesis 15: 1,

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram.

 I am your shield, your very great reward”.

Lord here is the Hebrew word “Adonai” and it was interesting that this same Hebrew word for Lord as The Lord God is used 39 times in the book of Psalms according to my copy of The Analytical Concordance of the bible by Young. A good example of this is Psalm 51: 15,

“Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise”.

How translators determine what “Adonai” should be “Lord God” or “as merely a respectful address between man and man” is the context of the use of the word and of course Jewish scholars like Rabbi Tovia Singer who reject Jesus as the Messiah opt for “Adonai” here as “as merely a respectful address between man and man” but the context clearly of this opening verse is the context of the rest of the Psalm namely the context of the work of the Messiah in the last days.

Singer might reject the Messiah interpretation of this Psalm but this goes against all historical Jewish interpretations of Psalm 110 and I found a very convincing argument on this in a article on the internet Called, “Psalm 110 – Conclusion” put together by “HaDavar Messianic Ministries” and they spell this fact out in the following quote from that article,

“The Midrash (rabbinic commentary) on Psalms (Book One, 18, 29) states plainly that the Messiah is addressed and told to sit on God’s right hand in Psalm 110:1. The Midrash Rabbah, Genesis LXXXV, 9 affirms that the staff mentioned in Psalm 110:2 refers to the royal Messiah. Also, in regard to Psalm 110:2, the Midrash Rabbah, Numbers XVIII, 23 maintains that the staff is destined to be held in the hand of the Messiah. Midrash Yelamdeinu concurs and states that the Messiah will use the staff to conquer the nations of the world.

 The Midrash on Psalm 18:36 specifically asserts that the Messiah is seated on God’s right hand while Abraham is seated on God’s left. Psalm 110:5 is applied to the Messiah and Messianic times in Yalkut stating that the Messiah will be placed on God’s right hand. Yalkut also applies verse 7 to Messianic times”.

 What Singer believes this Psalm then is actually about is not clear, as he seems to suggest that this Psalm was just a song of David for Temple Levites to sing.

However the Psalm became after the time of David and Solomon a prophecy of the coming of God’s Messiah and no king of Israel fitted the description of Psalm 110 especially we will see of the priest / king of the line of David as verse 4 speaks of.

Only Jesus Christ as the Son of God who came to earth as both God and man who is a direct descendant of David through his mother fits the dual role of priest and king. As verse 4 says,

“You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek”.

 Something I will flesh out in the first part of the third section of this Psalm. The writer to the Hebrews, Hebrews being first century Jewish Christians, says about Jesus in 8: 1 and 2,

“Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being”.

Then we have the words of Peter on the day of Pentecost pointing his hearers to the truth that Jesus is the Messiah or Saviour of the all mankind in Acts 2: 32 – 39,

“God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said ,“‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’[ 36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Many Jews over the past two thousand years have had their eyes opened by the Holy Spirit to see the truth that Jesus is their promised Messiah and have come to faith in him. So we must continue to pray for Jewish Jesus rejecting people like Rabbi Tovia Singer that God will open their minds and hearts to the truth that Jesus is their promised Messiah as presented in both the Old and New Testaments like Psalm 110. 

  1. (vs. 1)   The Messiah promised to be at the right hand of God

So lets have a close look at this amazing first verse of Psalm 110 and to get the full impact of its meaning and then application to us we need to look at the four parts that make up this verse:

  1. The Lord says to my Lord
  2. Sit at my right hand
  3. Until I make your enemies
  4. A footstool for your feet

Lets have a closer look at each of these four parts of this first verse of Psalm 110:

  1. The Lord says to my Lord

I have already commented quite a bit on the opening words of this verse and have pointed out that the two words we have translated “Lord” are two different words for Lord. The first Hebrew word for Lord is relatively straight forward as it is “Yahweh” or the covenantal supreme name for God said to me, according to Exodus 3: 14,

“I am who I am”

 This name carries many wonderful truths about God and they, according to my study of this name over the years are:

  1. God is eternal – “I am” – always been there.
  2. God is unchangeable – “I am who I am” – As he was he is and will be.
  3. God is supreme – “I am who I am” – No one is greater than him.
  4. God is not like us – “I am who I am” – He is God immortal unlike us mortal.

You could probably get more than those four truths out of this name of God but they are four truths about God I have come to understand and appreciate.

Then we have that second Hebrew name for “Lord” in the verse which is the Hebrew word “Adonai” which is used or translated two ways in the Old Testament which we learnt were a respectful address between man and man or another way or describing God as Lord. A man named Precept Austin explains why Adonai is used for “The Lord” with these words,

“Adonai is more than a name, Adonai speaks of relationship, God’s total possession and my total submission”.

 Jesus used this verse in his identification to being the Messiah or the Christ as some New Testament translations call it to the religious leaders of his day who rejected him as the Messiah, like many Jews still do today. This incident is recorded in three of the four Gospels, Mark 12: 35 – 39, Luke 20: 41 – 44 and the one I will quote here, Matthew 22: 41 – 46,

“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied.

 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, 44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” 45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions”.

Jesus in his earthly life was always a obedient servant to his father in heaven so the Adonai Hebrew word for Lord fits better for him the Messiah who has a special relationship with God, one of total submission as Jesus declares on his last night on earth before his crucifixion, or death for our sins as recorded in Luke 22: 42b,

“Yet not my will, but yours be done”.

 We must then as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ call him “Adonai” Lord and submit to his good will in a relationship of love and service to him. 

  1. Sit at my right hand

Jesus the Messiah did die on the cross for our sins but he also rose from the dead and then some days later ascended into heaven to sit at God’s right hand as the Psalm 110 verse 1 says and as many of the New Testament writers declare Jesus has done as Paul speaks of in Ephesians 1: 19 – 21,

 “And his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 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”.

To be at a persons right hand is to be in both a powerful and privileged position as indicated in many parts of the Old Testament like when Solomon placed his mother Bathsheba in a privileged exalted position seated at his right hand in 1 Kings 2: 19,

“When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand”.

So to be at the right hand side of God seated on a throne is to be in the most powerful position one can be in and Jesus as the Messiah who is submissive “Adonai” Lord is now in heaven at the right hand side of God for us.

Two great application truths come to mind here:

Firstly when we pray to Jesus he is hearing our prayers from as the writer to the

Hebrews says, from the very powerful throne of grace, 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”

 Secondly it will be from this right hand side of God that one day in the future Jesus will return to earth the judge this world and to take all true believers back to heaven with him as Paul declares 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”.

  1. Until I make your enemies

Both the physical and spiritual world contains many enemies of God, even in the spiritual realm there are spiritual beings known a angels who have rebelled against God in heaven. Satan is described in the bibles as a fallen angel as revealed in Isaiah 14: 12 – 15,

“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart,

“I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.

14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most

High.” 15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit”.

It is said that Ezekiel 28: 12 – 19 speaks of the rebellion and fall of Satan as well.

However the bible is even clearer that fallen rebellious man opposes God as well and in another Psalm of David that has reference to the coming of the Messiah, Psalm 2, we read this in 1 – 2,

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

David is the Lord’s anointed and he faced the enemies of God who opposed him because he was loyal to the Lord who those who had rebelled against the Lord opposed.

Jesus is the greater anointed of the Lord and the strange verse, verse 7 only really makes sense when we realise that Jesus at the point of his earthly baptism is proclaimed publically as God’s son,

“ I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father”.

Again David, who believed in a coming Messiah probably thought his son Solomon would be that Messiah but Solomon even though he started out in a Godly manner became a miserable sinful failure of a king as his reign as king went on.

Jesus then as the true Messiah priestly King was anointed by the Holy Spirit at his baptism as the Messiah and was then revealed to the world he was both a son and descendant of David and as God become a man the very Son of God.

Jesus then had many enemies both spiritual and physical and in his three years of ministry on earth was a constant battle with the forces of evil. Satan tempted him but Jesus overcome him and he was constantly under attack by the religious leaders of his day, which led to his kangaroo trial and death on the cross.

Jesus told his disciples and anyone who would follow him after his death on the final night that they would face great opposition like he faced, John 15: 18 – 25,

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin.

As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both my Father and me. 25 But this is to fulfil what is written in their Law: ‘they hated me without reason.”

So the enemies of God are the enemies of Christ and the enemies of Christ are the enemies of those trust and believe in him and seek to go his way.

  1. A footstool for your feet

However the Messiah is promised from the right hand side of God total victory over all God’s enemies this is described in the last phase of this first verse as,

“A footstool for your feet”.

 This means the Messiah whom is Jesus will put all enemies down and they will be like a footstool that a person puts their feet on, a poetic description that describes total and full victory over them.

Spurgeon puts this first verse all together and brings home the meaning of the enemies of God and Christ being a footstool under his feet with application to us as followers of Christ with these words,

“He sits because all is safe, and he sits at Jehovah’s right hand because omnipotence waits to accomplish his will. Therefore there is no cause for alarm whatever may happen in this lower world; the sight of Jesus enthroned in divine glory is the sure guarantee that all things are moving onward towards ultimate victory. Those rebels who now stand high in power shall soon be in the place of contempt, they shall be his footstool. He shall with ease rule them, he shall sit and put his foot on them; not rising to tread them down as when a man puts forth force to subdue powerful foes, but retaining the attitude of rest, and still ruling them as abject vassals who have no longer spirit to rebel, but have become thoroughly tamed and subdued”.

 Paul says in Ephesians 6: 12 – 13 that we too are caught up in a great Spiritual battle,

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand”.

Note he says God has equipped us for this battle with his armour and he goes on to describe other equipment God has given us for the battle but in verse’s 10 – 11 he gives us confidence in this battle with these words,

“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”.

I said in the introduction of this Psalm talk that this Psalm is about Eschatology which is the bibles teaching on the last days and the writer to the Hebrews speaks of the Eschatological implications of this idea of God’s enemies being placed under the Messiah sitting on the throne as a footstool in Hebrews 10: 12– 14,

“But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,

13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy”.

  1. (2 – 3)   THE MESSIAH AND HIS FOLLOWERS RULE

The key word to understand these two verses is the word “sceptre” which Charles Ellicott explains so well with these words

Thy strong or powerful rod: that is, thy sceptre or kingly power, Isaiah 10:24; Jeremiah 48:17. But then, as the kingdom of Christ is not carnal, or of this world, John 18:36, but spiritual; so this rod or sceptre is nothing else but his word or gospel, published by himself, or by his apostles and ministers, and accompanied with his Spirit, by which the Messiah set up and established his kingdom”.

 The sceptre then usually a ceremonial staff or rod that represented an earthly kings power and influence and as Ellicott has pointed out the rod or sceptre of the Messiah Jesus is his word, the Gospel message. Other Messiah prophecies speak of this rod of the Messiah being his powerful word like Isaiah 11: 3 – 4,

“He will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked”.

So the Messiah who the New Testament says is Jesus, will rule with his rod or sceptre, which we have seen in Jesus, is his word and Allan Harman pointed out to me three aspects of this rule of the Messiah, which I have used as my three parts to this second section.

  1. (vs. 2a)   The Messiah rules from Zion
  2. (vs. 2b)   The Messiah rules over his enemies
  3. (vs. 3)     The Messiah’s willing followers

 So lets now look at each of these three aspects of the Messiah’s rule in this second section of this Psalm:

  1. (vs. 2a)   The Messiah rules from Zion

 We read then in verse 2a,

“The Lord will extend your mighty sceptre from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies”.

 As I said in the introduction David could have had his Son Solomon in mind but by the Holy Spirit as Jesus declared in Matthew 22: 43 David’s words fell well short of Solomon and became clearly a prophecy by the Holy Spirit of the rule of the Messiah who from Zion or Jerusalem will extend or in the case of Jesus the Messiah proclaim the Gospel which is a concept Jesus himself taught in at least two places,

Firstly John 4: 22,

“You Samaritans worship what you do not know, for salvation is from the Jews”.

 And secondly even clearer Acts 1: 8,

 “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.”

 Jesus rules this world through his word and his word to the world is the wonderful Gospel message which he commanded his disciples to take from Jerusalem into all the world and through its teaching helping men and women in all the world to become one of his disciples as Jesus told his disciple just before he ascended into heaven in Matthew 28: 18 – 20,

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

From Jerusalem or Zion the disciples took the message of Jesus word, the Gospel into all the world and the exciting fact is we are part of this great process which is called the Gospel Age which will take us right up to Jesus return. The great eschatology which is the bibles teaching on the last days here is the fact that we are living in the Gospel Age when the Gospel will be taken to all nations and all people and this according to Jesus in Matthew 24: 14 will lead to his second return from heaven when the world as we know it will change forever and the great final judgment of God will come,

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”.

Other signs and events are prophesied in the bible of the end of the world but the clearest sign is the preaching of the Gospel to all nations as Jesus says after that,

“The end will come”

  1. (vs. 2b)   The Messiah rules over his enemies

 The second part of verse 2 speaks of how as the rule of the Messiah goes out from Zion / Jerusalem he will then rule over all his enemies,

“You will rule in the midst of your enemies”

 If David was thinking about the rule of his son Solomon here again then certainly some of the idea of this is true as Solomon did rule over many enemies from Jerusalem but still Solomon fell far short of the total scope of this prophecy as his rule was limited to Israel and he even was defeated or at least restricted by some of his enemies like Rehoboam who led a revolt against Solomon’s rule as king and escaped from Solomon by fleeing to Egypt who caused trouble for Solomon during his reign and who he could not defeat.

So these words in verse 2b do not fit the rule of Solomon and as I said in my introduction right up to the time of Christ these words were always associated with the rule of the Messiah priestly king to come.

Jesus is that Messiah priestly king who came and even though it seemed he was defeated by his enemies when he was crucified he through that act of that sacrifice and his resurrection defeated all his enemies including God’s great enemy, Satan as we read in Hebrews 2: 14 – 15,

 “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death”.

As Jesus himself said in John 12: 31 – 32 and added that his death on the cross will drew men and women to him to be part of his kingdom,

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

Satan was defeated on the cross but even though he was defeated he still is active in the world fighting what is a loosing battle. One great writer of New Testament theology who I had the privilege of hearing and meeting in person, Leon Morris wrote in his book “The Cross in the New Testament” of the cross being like the “D” day in the second world war, the decisive victory of the allies over the Axis forces and the second coming of Christ being the “V” day or the total victory day over all the enemies of God.

This is the kind of thing I believe Revelation 20 is speaking about how in this Gospel age many seemingly terrible battles will be fought between good and evil but Satan is bound, limited in his power and in the end he will be totally defeated as Revelation 20 verse 10 says,

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever”.

This chapter speaks in a special coded and symbolic language of how Christians will be martyred even beheaded as we have seen even in our own times by extreme Muslim believers but death cannot defeat them as Revelation 20: 4,

“I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years”.

I read of a Christian women recently who was beheaded by ISIS followers in Syria and just as she was about to be executed she looked up to heaven and smiled and this had a powerful effect on the crowd that witnessed her death and many of them actually turned to Christ as their Saviour and Lord because of her powerful testimony. This women’s soul is now with Jesus in heaven.

The great enemy of God and his Messiah, Satan has been defeated and will be ultimately overthrown when on the day of Judgment he and all his followers who had not turned away from their rebellion to God and received the gift of his forgiveness will be cast into the lake a fire, the Book of Revelation picture language for hell as 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”.

This is part of God’s great eschatology which is the bibles teaching on the last days message God wants us to take to the world. This is a message that contains hope for all who put their faith in him but a message of doom for those who don’t.

  1. (vs. 3)     The Messiah’s willing followers

 Then the third verse that deals with the rule of the Messiah or priestly King turns its attention to the faithful followers of him in verse 3,

“Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth”.

David uses human military images here to speak of what I believe is a picture of the spiritual battles of the last days, which I have said is the Gospel Age we are now living in. David describes three wonderful qualities of the faithful soldiers or followers of the Messiah priestly king, the Lord Jesus Christ and those three qualities are:

  1. Their willingness to follow
  2. Their majestic uniform or clothing
  3. Their vigour and enthusiasm to serve.

Lets then have a closer look at each of these three wonderful qualities of those who serve and follow the Lord Jesus into the great spiritual battles of the last days.

  1. Their willingness to follow

Verse 3 speaks in military imagery the willing faithful followers that Jesus the Messiah priestly king will have fighting for him the spiritual battles of the last days before the great judgment of God will come.

“Your troops will be willing on your day of battle”.

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges captures the meaning of these words the best for me when it says,

“The promised victory is not to be won without human agency, and Jehovah inspires the king’s subjects with a spirit of loyal self-devotion. Theirs is no forced unwilling service. Their alacrity recalls the days of Deborah, when the people and the governors of Israel “offered themselves willingly” to fight the battles of Jehovah (Jdg. 5:2; Jdg 5:9)”.

 Leopold refers to the very ancient Hebrew understanding of a freewill offering, which he says is used in this image “figuratively” and Albert Barnes points out Martin Luther’s translation of this verse as,

“After thy victory shall thy people willingly bring an offering to the”.

Only recently I was speaking with two Christian brothers about our witness to non – believers and one of them said, “we cannot argue people into the Kingdom of God but we must simply live a life that demonstrates the truth and love of Christ and his Gospel and offer them his word and God will use that to change their minds”. This reminded me of the words of Peter in 1 Peter 3: 14 – 16,

 “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats]; do not be frightened” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander”.

God wants willing followers not the kind other faiths have like the extreme Muslim who puts a knife or a gun to the head of a person and says “convert or die”.

We as Christians are motivated to serve Jesus the Messiah priestly king out of love as Paul often wrote about in his letters to the churches like 1 Corinthians 16: 13 – 14,

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love”.

Or Philippians 2: 1 – 4,

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others”.

Paul goes on to speak of humility and uses the example of Christ in how he brought the Gospel message to us through giving up glory to become a human being like us and then to die on the cross.

Paul also used the soldier or other military imagery to speak of how we should serve our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ like 2 Timothy 2: 3 – 4,

“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer”.

  1. Their majestic uniform or clothing

Then we have a poetic description of the character of these willing soldiers or followers of the Messiah priestly king couched in the image of clothing or their uniforms,

“Arrayed in holy majesty”

The uniform or clothing of these willing soldiers of the Messiah priestly king is “holy majesty” or “in holy array” in the American Standard Version, which Leopold picks, up and says this,

“The phrase “Holy Array” implies the that for such higher warfare as that which is here involved certain moral qualifications must mark those who participate”.

 Jesus gives those who turn to him the gift of “righteousness” which Paul speaks of 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!”

As I said in the last point Paul used warfare or soldier images to speak of the Christian life and battle we are all involved in and the most famous example of this is of course Ephesians 6, where Paul uses the battle uniform and equipment of a Roman soldier of his day to speak of the spiritual clothing and spiritual fighting equipment God wants us to put on in living and fighting for him in this life.

Here is Pauls complete word on the Christian soldiers battle kit he believes we must put on daily in the service of Christ, Ephesians 6: 13 – 18,

 13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

This is God’s Holy Array or the clothing of the willing soldier of the Messiah priestly king of God in the last days that leads up to the ultimate victory of God when Jesus returns to earth and God’s final judgment comes.

  1. Their vigour and enthusiasm to serve.

Then come a tricky bit of poetic imagery to interpret and three different translations might help sort out:

First we have the NIV translation that I generally use that is a little older than the latest NIV I often quote from the Internet,

“ From the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth”.

English Standard Version:

“From the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours”.

 New Living Translation:

“And your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew”.

 I like the free more interpreted New Living Translation, which is backed up by James Burton Coffman who gives us this quote by a man he calls Rawlinson,

“As dew out of the early morning dawn, descending by a silent mysterious birth from the star – lit heavens, so comes to Messiah his mighty host of followers:.

 The womb of the dawn is the birth of the dawn that mysteriously brings mist or frost, which is a refreshing touch to a day in a hot climate like the Middle East so the Messiah’s soldiers or followers refresh and invigorate his fight against his enemies.

It also has the idea of the vigour and enthusiasm of those who serve this great Messiah priestly King in the last days or the days leading up to the final victory of God.

The Christian application of this last part of verse 3 is to me expressed so well in

Isaiah 40 and verses 30 and 31,

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 3but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.

My experience of true Christ centred, bible believing and Gospel preaching Christians is generally people with great life and enthusiasm as they enjoy the hope they have in Christ and as they share that hope and faith with the world around them.

Paul spoke of this kind of enthusiasm and renewing strength in God’s service and we see that expressed many times in his letters to the churches like see in his opening prayer to the church in Philippi in Philippians 1: 3 – 11,

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God”.

Now those words when I read them are like God’s strength that renews me like the morning dew.

  1. (4 – 7)   THE MESSIAH’S PROMISED VICTORY

 We come then to the third a last section of this amazing prophetical Psalm and Allan Harman spotted two prophetic oracles of God about the coming of his Messiah in this Psalm for the Messiah priestly king and they are:

  1. A divine promise for the Messiah (vs.1)
  2. A divine oath for the Messiah (vs.4)

This third a final section kicks off with that divine oath for the coming Messiah priestly king.

I have broken this third and final section of the Psalm into four parts and these four parts are the four parts of my Psalm talk for this third and final section of the Psalm. The four parts are:

  1. (vs. 4)   The Messiah the priestly king
  2. (vs. 5a) The Messiah has God’s right hand
  3. (vs. 5b -6) The Messiah’s victory over his enemies
  4. (vs. 7)     The Messiah is refreshed and victorious

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

  1. (vs. 4)   The Messiah the priestly king

I have been calling Jesus the Messiah priestly king as presented in this Psalm and I get the idea that this Psalm is talking about a coming king as verse 2 speaks of this coming Messiah ruling with his mighty scepter and this a poetic image of a king ruling. I said, when speaking about this image of a mighty scepter that Jesus rules from Zion or Jerusalem with his word the Gospel message which in the last days, the Gospel Age is being taken by his faithful followers to the world as Jesus commanded his disciples to do in Matthew 28: 19 – 20.

Now in verse 4 we are introduced to the concept of this Messiah king being a special kind of priest. The verse reads this way in my NIV translation,

“The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”.

The idea of a King being a priest is actually alien to the Old Testament teaching as only the descendants of Aaron who became known as Levites could be priests in Israel as we read in Numbers 3: 10,

“Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary is to be put to death.”

Then in Numbers 25: 10 – 13 the descendants of Aaron through his two sons Phinehas and Eleazar are to be the only people in Israel who can hold the office of and perform the duties of a priest,

“The Lord said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honour among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal. 12 Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. 13 He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honour of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”

There are even examples of Kings of Israel trying to act as a priest and being condemned by God for doing this. King Saul did it as recorded in 1 Samuel 13 and after Saul sought to perform the role of a priest he received God’s condemnation through these words of Samuel in 1 Samuel 13: 13 – 14,

“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

Then we have another example of this a bit later in Israel’s history when King Uzziah of Judah overstepped the mark and sought to perform the duties of a priest in the Temple and the Temple priests of that time followed King Uzziah into the Temple and said this to him, 2 Chronicles 26: 18 – 21,

“ They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the Lord God.”

 19 Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. 20 When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the Lord had afflicted him.

 21 King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house—leprous, and banned from the temple of the Lord. Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land”.

So the idea of a king also being a priest is just not on in the bible yet verse 4 presents God’s solemn oath that this future Messiah king will also be a priest.

For this Messiah king to be a priest a separate and different order or priesthood would have to be used and verse 4 of this Psalm says that this different order of priesthood would be,

“The order of Melchizedek”

Melchizedek is a mysterious character in the book of Genesis who is called the King of Salem believed to be the old name for the city of Jerusalem in the time of Abraham and this king is also called a priest, as we read in Genesis 14: 18,

“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High,

 Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything”.

Why David would suddenly think of this very small part of Abraham’s story to speak of the coming Messiah king being like this mysterious king of ancient Jerusalem we will never know only to say he was obviously inspired to do so by the Holy Spirit as Jesus says he was in Matthew 22: 43.

How then would the Messiah King also perform the role of a priest in the order of the priesthood of Melchizedek?

The New Testament letter to the Hebrews answers this question brilliantly in chapters 7 and I will now attempt to answer the question of how Jesus the Messiah king performed the role of priest in the order of Melchizedek by seeking to open up the basic general teaching of this chapter in this letter to the Hebrews.

To help me present this I have broken my answer into four aspects of Jesus priesthood:

  1. Melchizedek as a king Hebrews – 7: 1 – 3
  2. Melchizedek’s greatness – 7: 4 – 11
  3. Melchizedek’s priesthood contrasted with the Levitcal pattern – 7: 11 – 21
  4. Jesus the high priest of a better covenant – 7: 22 – 28

Lets have a closer look at each of these four aspects of Jesus priesthood:

  1. Melchizedek as a king Hebrews – 7: 1 – 3

 We read these words about the nature and uniqueness of Melchizedek in verses 1 – 3,

“This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever”.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews draws what we know about this strange figure of Melchizedek and also uses what we don’t know about him.

We know that was:

i)   A king and priest of ancient Jerusalem known then as Salem

ii)  He was a priest of the God Most High – the God of the bible

iii)  Abraham acknowledged his priesthood by him a thank offering

iv)  His name means king of righteousness

v)  Salem means peace and therefore he was the king of peace

Then the writer draws on one fact we don’t know about Melchizedek namely:

i)  We don’t know who his mother and father is which is linked with Jesus as he had an earthly mother but God was his father

ii)  We don’t know when he was born or when he died which could mean he did not die which is linked with Jesus as he rose from the dead and is in heaven our priest or mediator forever.

  1. Melchizedek’s greatness – 7: 4 – 11

Then we read of the greatness and even superiority of the priest Melchizedek over a Levitical priest in verses 4 – 11,

“4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor”.

Note how the writer to the Hebrews points out that Abraham gave offerings to Melchizedek when later only Levitical priests could be given worship offerings and therefore Abraham by his actions acknowledges the superiority of the priesthood of Melchizedek over the later Levitical priesthood that came from his descendants.

  1. Melchizedek’s priesthood contrasted with the Levitical pattern – 7: 11 – 21

The writer to the Hebrews now refers to this prophecy of Psalm 110: 4 concerning the Messiah king being a priest of the order of Melchizedek in verse 11,

 “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?”

He develops this link of the Priesthood of Melchizedek in Psalm 110: 4 and contrasts this new order of priesthood with the old Levitical priesthood that leads to his direct quote of Psalm 110: 4 in verse 17, here then is his contrast between the two priesthood systems in verses 12 – 17,

“12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

As Christians we believe that Jesus is the Messiah as so much Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled in him concerning the coming of the Messiah which non believing Jews still reject pointing to Old Testament prophecy Jesus did not fulfil in his life on earth but these are associated with the Messiah’s role as a judge and this will be fulfilled by Christ in his second coming when he comes as a judge not a saviour. So Jesus fulfils the prophecy of Psalm 110: 4 and so the writer of Hebrews points out the consequences of this in verses 18 – 21,

“The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. 20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’”

Note how the writer to the Hebrews brings in really neatly the opening words of Psalm 110 verse 4,

“The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’”

  1. Jesus the high priest of a better covenant – 7: 22 – 28

The writer to the Hebrews then moves much further on with the consequences of Jesus being a priest of the order of Melchizedek to speak as Jesus as our High priest and the basis of a new covenant which is in fact the old covenant fulfilled in verses 22 – 28,

“Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

 26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever”.

  1. (vs. 5a) The Messiah has God’s right hand

The Psalm commenced with what we believe is the Messiah priestly King being invited to sit at the right hand of God and now God declares that he is at the right hand of the Messiah priestly king in verse 5a.

“The Lord is at your right hand”

 The right hand we learnt in the verse 1 reference to the right hand of God is an image of both power and privilege but the right hand is also in the bible a image of ones strength as usually the right hand is the stronger hand as we see Psalm 89 verse 13,

“Your arm is endued with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted”.

This strength or power is given to the Messiah to fight against his enemies and “Gotquestion?org. says this about the Messiah and 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”.

 They also give another reference to this Psalm 118: 16,

“The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”

Jesus after he rose from the dead proved he had victory over death and evil when he ascended to the right hand of God in heaven as Romans 8: 34 states,

“Who is he that condemns? 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”.

Jesus at the right hand of God has both the authority and the power to defeat his enemies and of course as Paul says here in Romans he is a powerful intercede for us and as our high priest now in heaven at the right hand of God Hebrews 7: 25 says,

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

  1. (vs. 5b -6) The Messiah’s victory over his enemies

Then we have one of those prophecies about the Messiah non- believing Jews would say Jesus did not fulfil when he came so he could not be the Messiah. However Jesus came the first time to save not judge as he says in John 3: 17,

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”.

So how does Jesus fulfil these words about his ministry as the Messiah priestly king in 5a – 6?

“He will crush kings on the day of his wrath. He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth”.

This will be fulfilled when Jesus comes again as Judge not Saviour as we read in Matthew 25: 31 – 33,

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left”.

Or as Paul says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4: 1,

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

So Jesus still has some prophecies to fulfil as the Messiah priestly King and it is in the book of Revelation that we read of the crushing of the rebellious kings and nations at the final judgment which Jesus sitting at the right hand side of God will conduct as we read in Revelation 6: 15 – 17,

 “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”

This is an example of Eschatology prophecy which is the bibles teaching on the last days still to come and of course I cannot leave you just seeing Jesus judging the rebellious kings and Nations picture of that great day to come but also show you that as the rebellious Kings and nations are being judged those who have put their faith in Christ have already risen to be with the Lord as Paul teaches us about in 1 Thessalonians 4: 16 – 18,

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words”.

  1. (vs. 7)     The Messiah is refreshed and victorious

We come then to the final verse of this amazing Psalm and the opening words of that verse seems to have all the commentators I looked up divided on what they are actually referring to,

“He will drink from s brook beside the way”

Some say this phrase is speaking of the humanity of the Messiah priestly king as he has to stop and drink meaning he gets thirsty like any man. We know that Jesus gave all the signs of being human, he got hungry, tired having to sleep and even wept which we read in the shortest verse in the bible, John 11: 35,

“Jesus wept”.

However others say it has nothing to do with the Messiah getting tired and thirsty in his battle with evil forces having to stop and rest and drink water from a small stream.

Other commentators like John Gill who writes that this an allusion to,

“The eagerness of a general pursuing a routed army, and pushing on his conquest; who, though almost choked with thirst, yet will not stop to refresh himself; but meeting with a brook or rivulet of water by the way, takes a draught of it, and hastens his pursuit of the enemy: and so this is expressive of, the eagerness of Christ to finish the great work of man’s salvation, and the conquest of all his and their enemies”.

 No matter why the Messiah stopped at the brook or little stream to drink the main thought is he had to refresh himself and to me this speaks of our battles with God’s enemies in these last days that we need constant refreshment and if the Messiah priestly king had to stop, if only briefly for refreshment than we his faithful followers need to build into our ministries for him times of refreshment.

The old saying is “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” has a lot going for it and many great Christian warriors or workers in the past and present times have sadly burnt themselves out with over work on many occasions. I find music both a great ministry tool and also a great relaxing hobby as well and I have been refreshed on many occasions through playing music on my own and with others.

Jesus disciples knew Jesus as a man who often wandered off for prayer and refreshment as we read in Mark 6: 45 – 46,

 “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

Paul often spoke of the refreshment and renewal he found in Christian fellowship with other keen followers and fellow workers in Christ, like 1 Corinthians 16: 17 – 18,

“ I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition”.

Then David tells us that one of the benefits of following the Lord is being led into green pastures having our souls restored or refreshed by him in his famous 23rd Psalm verse 2 and 3,

“ He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake”.

This refreshment in this life is not and end in itself but helps us achieve what is God’s plan and purpose for his Messiah priestly king which is found in the poetic words of the second half of verse 7, the last words of this Psalm,

“Therefore he will lift up his head”.

All commentators agree on the meaning of this poetic term and it is best described by Matthew Poole when he says that this is referring to the Messiah priest king who,

“Shall be delivered from all his sorrows and sufferings, and exalted to great glory, and joy, and felicity, as this phrase usually signifies”.

 Poole gives us three references to back up his interpretation of these final words of Psalm 110. I would like to share two of these both from other Psalms of David and the first of these is from Psalm 3: 3,

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high”.

The second is Psalm 27: 6,

“Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord”.

As I said God refreshes us in this life for a purpose and that is so we can be more effective in the battle’s of life as we follow the powerful and victorious Messiah priestly king, The Lord Jesus Christ.

The last verse I would like to share in this Psalm talk is how Paul spoke of the victorious battle we are involved in the last days of this world which I have called the Gospel age and those verses come from 2 Corinthians 2: 14 – 16,

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

 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?”

I close as usual with a new poem based on my study of Psalm 110 and a prayer:

THE MESSIAH KING

(Based on Psalm 110)

God says to Jesus sit at my right hand

Until I make your enemies

A footstool for your feet to rest and stand.

As you sit on your throne O Lord

Your Son rules with his word

So help us Jesus Messiah King

To follow you and Sing:

 

Chorus:

 

Praise to Jesus Lord and king

Praise his victory

For he died upon the Cross

To pay the price of our sin

And he rose to God on high

To one day come again.

 

Jesus sends us out to the world at large

To go and proclaim his great victory

And from Zion he gave this charge.

We his willing followers are blessed

With God’s clothes of righteousness

We will assist Jesus Messiah king

As we follow him and sing.

 

Chorus:

 

Praise to Jesus Lord and king

Praise his victory

For he died upon the Cross

To pay the price of our sin

And he rose to God on high

To one day come again.

 

God has declared that Jesus is his Son

And his word foretold that

One day a great priestly king would come.

Jesus is both priest and sacrifice

Who gave up his life for us.

Yes Jesus is the Messiah king

So now proclaim and sing.

 

Chorus:

 

Praise to Jesus Lord and king

Praise his victory

For he died upon the Cross

To pay the price of our sin

And he rose to God on high

To one day come again.

 

God is now at the right hand of our Lord

To assist him in the fight

Have victory over nations of this world

And all who have turned from God to sin

Will stand before him to be judged by him

Stand before Jesus the Messiah king

And then forever will we sing.

 

Chorus:

 

Praise to Jesus Lord and king

Praise his victory

For he died upon the Cross

To pay the price of our sin

And he rose to God on high

To finally come again.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

Prayer:

 We thank you Father in Heaven that Jesus is now at your right hand as our Saviour and our Lord. We thank you Jesus that you have sent us out to proclaim to this world the message of your saving grace you won for us on the cross. We thank you Holy Spirit that you assist us with God’s word and renew, protect and give us victory over sin and the devil. Help us Holy Trinity of God to proclaim the message of the Jesus the Messiah king unto he comes again to judge this world and take us all to heaven, in Jesus name we pray, Amen