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.)

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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

But all you have do is 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.

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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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are four observations I will make here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. (1 – 5) REPAY EVIL

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

2. (6 – 20) REEP WHAT YOU SOW

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

3. (21 – 31) SAVED BY GRACE

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

1. (1 – 5) REPAY EVIL

1. (1 – 2) A cry for God’s help

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verses 3 – 5 answer this question,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4iIn return for my friendship they accused David”.

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

“A man of prayer”

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

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

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

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

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

“Repay Jesus evil for good”.

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

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

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

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

2. (6 – 20) REEP WHAT YOU SOW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And James says in James 4: 7,

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

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

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

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

Interestingly it was the very real possibility that David would be the next king of Israel that drove a lot of the seemingly senseless rage towards David from Saul as Saul indicates to his son Jonathan after Jonathan helped save David from the murderous hand of his father. Saul’s words to his son Jonathan are recorded in 1 Samuel 20: 30 – 31,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“May another take his place of leadership”

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

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

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

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

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

Take the wording of verses 9 and 10,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First we have Mathew 12: 36 – 37,

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

Then Luke 6: 37 – 38,

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. (21 – 31) SAVED BY GRACE

1. (21 – 29) Saved by grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lets have a closer look at each of these:

1. God’s Sovereignty

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

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

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

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

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

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

So when David says in verse 21,

“But you, O Sovereign Lord”

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

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

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

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

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

2. God’s Name

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

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

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

1. Psalm 8: 1,

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

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

2. Psalm 9: 10,

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

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

3. Psalm 29: 2

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

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

4. Psalm 103: 1,

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

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

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

3. God’s love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“For the wages of sin is death”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Poor and needy (vs. 22a)

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

“For I am poor and needy”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Wounded in heart (vs. 22b)

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

“And my heart is wounded within me”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I fade away like an evening shadow”

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

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

“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want”.

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

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

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

Such is the wonderful power of being saved by grace because it links up to a great spiritual power source namely The Lord Jesus Christ who says this to us all in Matthew 11: 28 – 30,

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

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

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

“I am shaken off like locusts”

Albert Barnes explanation is helpful and interesting,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Object of scorn (vs. 25)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Saved by grace applied (vs. 26)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I like the pulpit commentaries explanation of verse 29,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Guzik points out,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Romans 4: 25,

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

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

“Save his life from those who condemn him”.

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

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

“Those who judge the soul”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chorus:

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

Chorus:

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

Chorus:

By: Jim Wenman

Prayer:

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

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

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

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

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

INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With this in mind my outline for this Psalm is:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

  1. (vs. 1a)   Be faithful to God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus answer is found in verses 37 – 40,

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

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

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

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

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

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

“My heart is steadfast, O God”

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

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

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

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

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

“I will sing and make music”

 and Psalm 108 1b.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then verse 43,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which simply says,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s love and faithfulness

In Jesus we see

God’s love and faithfulness

He’s always with me.

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

 

  1. (vs. 7)     The call for salvation

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

“Psalm 60 verse 10 reads,

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

 While Psalm 44 verse 9 reads,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Save us and help us with your right hand”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That those you love may be delivered”.

 Michael Wilcock aptly writes,

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Those you love” or “beloved of God”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 The expression,

“God has spoken from his sanctuary”

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

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

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

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

Psalm 60: 6 and Psalm 108: 7 says,

“In triumph I will parcel out Shechem”

 Genesis 12: 6 and 7 says,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verse 7 mentions 4 tribes of Israel:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Aliens and strangers in the world”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 As Christians we too must not take God’s work of salvation in our lives for granted. Paul speaks strongly on this Philippians 3: 12 – 14,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then we read in verse 12 these amazing words,

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

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

His army found out the hard way that

“The help of man is worthless”

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

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

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

The help of man is worthless”.

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

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

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

Romans 5: 6 – 8,

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

And

Ephesians 1: 4 – 10,

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

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

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

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

For the help of man is worthless”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“With God we will gain the victory”.

Spurgeon writes,

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOD’S LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS

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

 

Trust in God’s love and faithfulness

Because of Jesus Christ

Who came to earth to die for us

And rise to give us life

No matter what life brings us

Be sure to realize

That Christ is right beside us

To help us in our lives.

Chorus:

 

God’s love and faithfulness

In Jesus we see

God’s love and faithfulness

He’s always with me.

 

Have mercy Lord on all of us

Keep us safe Oh Lord

For Satan’s forces seek our souls

Remind us of your word

Help us shelter beneath your wings

When Satan’s forces come

God has promised love to us

Salvation through his Son.

 

Chorus:

 

I cry to God for help from him

I know he hears my prayers

I know he sends his help to us

He always knows and cares.

He saved us by his amazing grace

By sending Christ to die

All we have to do is trust

And love will raise us high,

 

Chorus:

 

My heart is steadfast trusting God

Who gives us all his love.

And I will sing of what his done

And raise his name above.

I’ll go into this world and praise

God’s love and faithfulness

Join the fellowship of praise

Proclaiming God’s the best.

 

Chorus:

 

God’s love and faithfulness

In Jesus we see

God’s love and faithfulness

He’s always with me.

PRAYER:

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

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

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

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

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

INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

“Never alone, never alone

For the Lord is beside me wherever I roam.

Never alone, never alone

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

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

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

Lo I am with you to the ends of the age

That is his promise on the bibles page.

Jesus is with me through joy and distress

And he is the one whose desire is to bless. 

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

 Though I may walk through the valley of death

I have no fear for his overcome death.

Jesus did die on the cross for my sin

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

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

 I am a pilgrim in a foreign land

But the Lord gently guides me by his loving hand.

Wherever I wander yes wherever I roam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

                     DESERT

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

“Give thanks to the Lord”

 and in Psalms 106 and 107,

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

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

“His love endures forever”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Cry out to the Lord in your trouble”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spurgeon makes the spiritual interpretation with these words,

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note how the Isaiah passage speaks of,

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

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

  1. (14 – 15) The deliverance God gives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ”.

  1. (vs. 16)   The benefits of this deliverance spelt out

The benefits of God releasing his people from the exile experience of a dark prison cell where they are locked up in chains is expressed in what seems at first a strange turn of phrase in verse 15,

“For he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron”.

These words were a puzzle to me unto I read Albert Barnes explanation of them,

“The gates of brass refer probably to Babylon, and the idea is, that their deliverance had been as if the brass gates of that great city had been broken down to give them free egress from their captivity”.

Barnes points out that the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Persian was predicted years before by the prophet Isaiah in similar terms in Isaiah 45: 2,

“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron”.

The metals bronze and particularly iron were not only the alloys used to make prisoners chains and shackles and city gates but they also represent the strength of so called human super powers like the Babylonians of their day yet even this powerful super power of Babylon was not strong enough against the power and might of the God of heaven and earth, the God of the bible.

God used a new world super power, the Persians to smash their city gates so that his people could be freed from the prison of captivity in exile in Babylon to again walk free in the Promised Land of Israel.

Spurgeon again gives us the perfect spiritual New Testament application of the benefits of God breaking our spiritual bonds of bronze and Iron with these words,

“The Lord breaks the strongest gates and bars when the time comes to set free his prisoners: and spiritually the Lord Jesus has broken the most powerful of spiritual bonds and made us free indeed. Brass and iron are as tow before the flame of Jesus’ love. The gates of hell shall not prevail against us, neither shall the bars of the grave detain us. Those of us who have experienced his redeeming power must and will praise the Lord for the wonders of his grace displayed on our behalf”. 

  1. (17 – 22)   GOD’S LOVE SEEN IN HOW HE HEALS OUR SICKNESSES

 In my opening up of this third image of the experience of exile I will follow the writer of Psalm 107 pattern we saw in the last two sections, which is:

  1. The experience identified
  2. The cry to God for help expressed
  3. The deliverance God gives
  4. The praise for this deliverance spelt out

Note how the pattern changes in the fourth part in this fourth section of the Psalm as it closes not with the benefits of God’s deliverance from the sickness experience but is a call to praise God for his deliverance from exile.

We look then at the first pattern part:

  1. (17 – 18)   The experience of sickness identified

 The third experience of exile image is that of sickness, which follows the well, established Old Testament teaching that sickness is a result of sin or rebellion to God’s law. This teaching is checked or qualified by the book of Job who turned out to be an exception to this teaching of scripture for Job’s tormentors all used this teaching to explain why Job was suffering so much. However we know from the book of Job that he only suffered because God wanted to test Job and his passing of that test would bring glory to God.

Job passed the test as he did not curse God even though he came close to doing just that and in the end Job’s life was doubly blessed by God after his time of suffering was taken away from him.

Even David speaks of a time of sickness he had as a result of God’s disciplining him in Psalm 6: 1 – 3,

“Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?”

A much more in depth discussion of why we suffer according to the bible is in my Psalm 6 talk.

So here in Psalm 107 the image of the experience of exile as sickness is expressed this way in verses 17 and 18,

“Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.18 They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death”.

Allan Harman points out that the expression; “some became fools” is the opposite of Proverbs 1:7 definition of the wise,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction”.

This means that to not fear God expressed by those that Psalm 107 verse 17 is speaking about in terms of being rebellious in their ways to God is to become a fool. Many non – believers today advocate that people who believe in God and fear God are fools or people evidencing not much intelligence but two Psalms, Psalm 14 verse 1 and Psalm 53 verse 1 say,

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’. They are corrupt and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good”.

Paul speaks of the effects of sin on the thinking processes of mankind this way in Romans 1: 21 – 23,

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles”.

It is not hard today to see the effects of sin as sickness, take the case of an alcoholic who can and do suffer many serious illnesses like liver failure or heart disease and may other chronic and deadly illnesses.

Verse 18 speaks of the seriousness of the sicknesses this writer of Psalm 107 is alluding to as he speaks of it in terms of loosing ones apatite and coming close to death,

18 They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death”.

Loosing ones apatite even today is a big sign that a person is very sick and usually regaining ones apatite is a sure sign that a person is getting better.

Trying to keep people holding up their natural fighting bodily system when they are sick by eating food can be a real challenge which I have just experienced when my wife had the flue recently.

Spurgeon again makes the New Testament spiritual application of sickness and the loss of apatite with these words,

“Thus it is with souls afflicted with a sense of sin, they cannot find comfort in the choicest promises, but turn away with loathing even from the gospel, so that they gradually decay into the grave of despair. The mercy is that though near the gates of death they are not yet inside the sepulcher”. 

  1. (vs. 19)   The cry to God for help expressed

Then the writer of Psalm 107 uses the same word formula of the past two exile experience images for the people crying out to God with the sickness experience cry,

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress”.

This crying out to the Lord for release from exile was what Jeremiah said the people had to do to end their 70 years of exile in Babylon as he told the exiles in his letter to them in Jeremiah 29: 10 – 14,

“This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

This crying out to God or this prayer will be used by God as part of his plan to deliver them from the awful captivity in exile in Babylon. This is yet another example of God working out his good will through the prayers of his people so when we find ourselves or other friends or family sick God word encourages us to commit them to the Lord in prayer.

I would like to share two verses from the New Testament that encourages us to pray for the sick with confidence that God will answer us.

The first verse is a general call for us to pray with confidence for any need we have in this life which includes sickness or any other problem or difficulty is Hebrews 4: 16,

 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.

Note this verse speaks of God’s throne as the throne of grace which means that we don’t deserve God’s answering of out prayers but because he is a God of love and particularly grace he will help us even in our times of the need of healing and help when we are sick.

The second verse or set of verses speaks directly to what we should do when a fellow believer arw sick and it is in James 5: 13 – 15,

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.”

Some have suggested that the anointing of oil was a New Testament times version of administering medicine or at least a practical physical comforting remedy. I believe this does not have to be carried out in a formal way but that any group of church members can act as elders when they pray with and over a very sick person.

For me the most encouraging aspect of what James is saying here is the word about offering our prayer for the sick in faith and how God honors such prayers with the word he will make them well. Of course the healing of a person can take time and if it does this can prove to be a great test of faith for both the prayers and the person being prayed for.

Sometimes of course the making the person well is there death as for the true believer’s death is not the end but a wonderful gateway into the throne of grace where there is no more sickness, crying etc. because we are with the Lord in his home in heaven forever.

  1. (20 – 21)   The deliverance God gives

We come then to the third part of the writer of Psalm 107 formula for these images of the experience of exile and in the case of the experience of sickness he says this about God’s deliverance in verse 20,

“He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave”

Albert Barnes aptly comments on this verse saying,

“He sent his word, and healed them – He did it by a word, it was necessary for him merely to give a command, and the disease left them”.

God achieves all that he achieves through his word, he spoke and the world was made, he spoke and God’s people’s enemies were defeated. The mighty Babylonian empire might have thought like all the super powers of history even those today that they are invincible yet the Babylonians turned out to be no match in the end for the Persians and the Persians in the end were no match for the Greeks and the Greeks in the end were no match for the Romans.

World powers come and go but the word of God lasts forever as Peter declares quoting the prophet Isaiah in 1 Peter 1: 24 – 25,

“For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

And this is the word that was preached to you”.

I lived through the time of the great super power of communistic U.S.S.R which opening preached that the idea of God was dead.

They had a policy that said that anyone who believed in God didn’t deserve to live. They felt that they had all power in this life and that they were invincible. I remember praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ who loved in Russia and other parts of the U.S.S, R and at times I felt that this super power would go on forever terrorising the church of God on earth. Yet how quickly it fell into a heap and the word of God that regime opposed and sought to do away with triumphed over them and today the church of God and his word is stronger in Russia than it has ever been.

This is the kind of thing Psalm 107 is speaking about when it says that God healed his people and rescued them from the grave.

Then we have the Psalm 107 formula verse about God’s deliverance in verse 21,

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men”.

 God heals our sicknesses out of his unfailing love and the greatest sickness of all is sickness of sin which even a supposed healthy man or women has and through the Lord Jesus Christ and what he did for us on the cross we are healed from the great sickness of sin as Isaiah foretold long before the coming of Jesus in Isaiah 53: 4 – 6,

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”.

Such is the love of God expressed in Jesus Christ that our great sickness of sin has been healed by what Jesus did on the cross as the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 2: 9,

 “But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”.

  1. (vs. 22)   The praise for this deliverance spelt out

The writer breaks from his formula a little hear and instead of speaking of the benefits of God’s exile experience of deliverance he speaks of celebrating the many benefits of that deliverance in Old Testament style worship, he writes,

“Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy”.

In the Old Testament all formal worship involved some kind of sacrificial offering and this section as we have seen dealt with the sickness of sin, which had a number of specific sacrifice procedures, attached to it. James Burton Coffman makes a interesting point about this command to offer thank offering sacrifice for God’s dealing with the peoples sins in his deliverance from Babylonian exile,

“These stanzas define sin as disobedience and show its temporal (vs. 10), personal (vs. 12) and eternal (vs. 18) results. The offering of sacrifice, as commanded here, is related to this, because only in connection with redemption from sin does the Psalm enjoin sacrifice”.

So the writer of Psalm 107 wants the people now delivered from the bondage of captivity in exile to thank God with formal sacrificial worship that also involved lots of singing that speak of the great works of God for his people.

Coffman goes on to point out the New Testament application of this,

“In the New Testament, we are told what such a sacrifice is, ‘it is the fruit of our lips which make confession to his name”

Coffman gives us the New Testament reference of Hebrews 13: 15,

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name”.

 The whole sacrificial system of the Old Testament was done away with or superseded by the death and resurrection of Christ as again the writer to the Hebrews spells out in Hebrews 9: 11 – 15,

 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!  15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

Paul speaks of how we are to worship God because of the mercy or grace of God shown to us through Christ and his death for us in Romans 12: 1,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship”.

Worship here goes beyond what we do when we gather together in Church, as true worship in Paul’s mind is sacrificial daily service to the Lord for what he has done for us.

  1. (23 – 32)   GOD’S LOVE SEEN IN SAVING PEOPLE AT SEA
  1. (23- 27)     The experience of being lost at sea

Following the same four- part presentation formula for the fourth and last time the writer speaks of the exile and their deliverance being like the lost at sea experience. This is an interesting image for a Jewish person of that time to use, as Israel was not noted for sea faring people. However they would have had merchants bringing cargo in from the coast to Jerusalem that was sent to Israel by boat and many of these merchants would have told stories of wild sea going voyages.

Also many Jews returning from other than exile in Babylon could have come by ship and also could have experienced what the writer speaks of in these verses. He describes the lost at sea experience this way in verses 23 – 27,

“Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.

24 They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep. 25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. 26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end”.

I have only once been stuck in a small boat at sea with a massive storm approaching and it was when I was in my late teens my friends and I borrowed a boat to go snorkelling of the coast of Sydney. The small boat we were in motor would not start as we became aware of a large thunderstorm approaching. The feelings my friends and I had at that time were simply the feeling of terror and fear. Fortunately a passing fishing boat saw and heard us and worked out we were in trouble so he came over and offered us a tow back to the safe harbor we had come from which we gladly accepted.

The writer of Psalm 107 makes the following four observations about the lost at sea experience:

  1. These men who were lost were experienced merchant seamen (vs. 23)
  2. These men saw the wonderful creation of God which was the sea (vs. 24)
  3. These men realised that God caused the storm (vs. 25)
  4. These men were tossed about and terrified by the storm at sea (vss. 26 – 27)

Let me make some brief comments on each of these four observations of the lost as sea experience:

  1. These men who were lost were experienced merchant seamen (vs. 23)

Unlike my friends and I who went out in a small boat when I was a teenager these men in the lost at sea experience were experienced seaman that the writer of Psalm 107 calls “merchants” and they knew the power and might of the ocean as verse 27 says they travelled on “mighty waters”.

These experienced seaman merchants remind me of the experienced Galilee fishermen who went out on the sea of Galilee with Jesus recorded in Mark 4: 35 – 41. These disciple fishermen knew the water ways of the sea of Galilee like the back of their hand yet verse 38 tells that after a furious storm came upon them they also became terrified,

 “Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Note how these experienced fishermen thought they were about to drown owing to the helpless situation they were in. The day I was stuck in a boat on an ocean I too thought I was going to drown.

  1. These men saw the wonderful creation of God, which was the sea (vs. 24)

It seems these merchants were God fearing souls as verse 24 says,

“24 They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep”.

Any right thinking man or women must wonder if there is a God when they see the vast beauty of the sea or oceans. I have been out on the sea on a number of cruise ships and have been a taken back by the vast and mighty expanse one can see when you are out on the mighty oceans of this world.

These men for some reason knew that the great God of heaven and earth created what they saw all around them wonderfully.

As Psalm 95: 3 – 5 says,

“For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.The sea is his, for he

made it, and his hands formed the dry land”.

  1. These men realised that God caused the storm (vs. 25)

Then it seems verse 25 says that these experienced merchant seamen realised that God had sent the great storm on them,

“For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves”.

Leupold argues that this storm is in fact a figurative description of the Jews experience of exile and captivity in Babylon, he writes,

“For that matter, nations often use this very figure when they say that the ship of state is threatened”.

A mighty storm in the form of the Babylonians swept over Israel and like the backwash of a tidal wave Israel was swept into cruel and devastating captivity in Babylon. Like these experienced merchant sailors Israel must have realised that their captivity in exile was a result of God’s judgment of their many sins over many generations.

  1. These men were tossed about and terrified by the storm at sea (vss. 26 – 27)

The image presented in verses 26 and 27 is that of a terrifying ordeal many sailors have experienced when travelling on the oceans and seas of the world. Verses 26 – 27 then tell us this about the great storm that came upon these desperate men,

“26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away.27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end”.

The waves were so large that as the ship went up to the tops of them it was like they were heading for the heavens or the sky and as they went down them it was like they were descending to the depths of the earth.

Then we read that these experienced sailors lost their courage,

“In their peril their courage melted away”.

Just like the fishermen disciples on the sea of Galilee in Mark 4 they were in fear of their lives so great was the storm that came on them and so helpless did they feel. The effect of all this is described in verse 27,

“They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end”.

This description of the sailors fear and despair at the height of the storm again is a strong picture of the fear and despair the people of Israel felt in exile in Babylon.

The book of Lamentations records beautifully what happened to Israel at the time of going in to exile and I have chosen just one passage from that book to give you the idea of what it must have been like, Lamentations 1: 3 – 5,

After affliction and harsh labour, Judah has gone into exile. She dwells among the nations; she finds no resting place. All who pursue her have overtaken her in the midst of her distress. The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to her appointed festivals. All her gateways are desolate, her priests groan, her young women grieve, and she is in bitter anguish.Her foes have become her masters; her enemies are at ease. The Lord has brought her grief because of her many sins. Her children have gone into exile, captive before the foe”.

  1. (vs. 28)     The cry to God for help expressed

Using the same wording for the past three exile experience images the writer of Psalm 107 tells us what these merchant sailors did,

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress”.

 The disciples we saw cried out to Jesus in the middle of their storm on the Sea of Galilee in verse 38,

“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

The disciples don’t seem to be showing much faith in Jesus as Jesus acknowledges in verse 40 of Mark 4, with these words,

“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

As I have said before the prophet Jeremiah encouraged the exiles in Babylon to cry out to the Lord when they were in the midst of the storm of captivity and this four times repeated verse is probably a good summary of what the people actually did and what God did in response to that crying out to him.

I would like to give you two encouraging verses about the value of prayer when we are in distress or facing problems and difficulties and the first is from the lips of David in Psalm 18: 6,

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears”.

The second is from the New Testament, Philippians 4: 6 – 7,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

  1. (29 – 30)   The deliverance God gives

The deliverance God wrought for his people in 539BC when the Persians defeated the Babylonians was like the stilling of a great storm and is expressed so well in verse 29, that simply says,

“He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed”.

This stilling of the storm is very reminiscent of the great stilling of the storm by Jesus in Mark 4 and we read in 39 of that chapter,

“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm”.

Such is the power of God seen also in Jesus who proves his divinity by simply speaking and the wind and the waves obey him. God speaks in the history of the world and the so-called super powers of this world are smashed and hushed.

This is a great encouragement to me as I have been under attack from some atheists lately who have been trying to tell me my so called great God is a myth and I am living a delusion in trusting and believing in him. Yet history tells me God is alive and he has made himself known in so many ways not to mention the over – throw of the Babylonians by the Persians to send his people home and of course Jesus proves his divinity by his ability to still the storm.

Then in verse 30 we read,

“They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven”.

The stilling the storm experience image mirrors the facts of the Jews return from exile in Babylon. They were glad when the Babylonian storm was stilled and when through the unusual resettling policy of the conquering Persians they were glad when they were able to return to their much-desired homeland.

Spurgeon describes what is going on here in verse 30 with these words,

“Then are they glad because they be quiet. No one can appreciate this verse unless he has been in a storm at sea. No music can be sweeter than the rattling of the chain as the shipmen let down the anchor; and no place seems more desirable than the little cove, or the wide bay, in which the ship rests in peace”.

 When as a teenager I got stuck in a little boat way out from the coast and a massive thunderstorm was bearing down on us I was really fearful for my life but how sweet was that little fishing boat who came over to tow us into the safety of the boat harbor we set out from.

This is a perfect picture of what God did for his people back in 539BC. This also is a wonderful poetic image of our salvation through Christ that through what he did for us on the cross we have a way made for us through the storms of sin and life to heaven itself as the writer to the Hebrews speaks of this in Hebrews 12: 1 – 2,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

2FFixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.

  1. (31 – 32)     The praise for this deliverance spelt out

Then following the pattern of the last exile experience image the final part is a call for praise for what God has done for them in stilling the storm of the Babylonian juggernaut through the Persians to bring his people to the safe harbor of their homeland.

We read this call to praise in two parts:

  1. Thanking the Lord for his unfailing love (vs. 31)
  2. Exalting the Lord in the assembly of the people (vs. 32)

So lets have a close look at these two calls for praise:

  1. Thanking the Lord for his unfailing love (vs. 31)

Following the writer of Psalm 107 pattern of words we read this time his call to the people to praise God for his unfailing love shown in the his amazing deeds of freeing the his people from the terrible captivity in Babylon, he writes in verse 31,

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.”

We too must answer this call for praise for our God who through Christ and his unfailing love in what he did for us on the cross achieved the wonderful deed of our salvation that will lead us to the safe harbor of heaven itself as Paul tells Titus in Titus 3: 4 – 7,

“ But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life”.

  1. Exalting the Lord in the assembly of the people (vs. 32)

Then as the writer of Psalm 107 did in the last image of the exile deliverance experience he calls his readers to corporate worship praise. He writes in verse 32,

“Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders”.

The writer of Psalm 107 calls his hearers and readers to exalt or lift up this great God of loving kindness in two places in the formal assemblies of worship, the Temple and from the post exile period the Synagogue and also in the council of the elders which Albert Barnes explains is probably referring to,

“In the presence of venerated men, a body of aged men who presided over the assemblies of worship”.

This is a call to public praise just as the first verse was which said,

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever”.

The post exile Jews had much to praise God for as each of the four poetic images of the exile deliverance experience had demonstrated. God had stilled the storm of the Babylonian over- lords and brought the people back to the safe harbor of the Promised Land of Israel. God certainly deserved to be exalted in private and in the formal gatherings of Jewish worship and we to should do the same in our lives and when we meet together for worship and fellowship because Jesus has done so much for us. As the writer to the Hebrews calls his readers to worship in Hebrews 12: 28 – 29,

 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire:.

  1. (33 – 43)   GOD’S LOVE AND JUDGMENT IN ACTION

1. (33 – 42)   The experience of love and judgment principle

The writer of Psalm 107 changes his poem from poetic illustrations of the exile deliverance experience to nine verses, which Leupold explains this way,

“There follows a section that turns from specific instances to a general truth: the up’s and down’s the success and the failure, the prosperity and calamity in the lives of individuals and nations are entirely in the control of and brought about by the will of the Almighty”.

Israel was warned by Moses way back in the wilderness days that obedience to God and his laws would bring blessings to nations but disobedience to God and his laws would bring upon the nation God’s curse. This is spelt out in Deuteronomy 28 and so these nine verses, 33 – 42 set down a poetic description of God’s blessings and curses on the nation of Israel.

So I have broken these nine verses into:

  1. God’s curses on the nation and its land (vs. 33 – 34 / 39 – 40)
  2. God’s blessings on the nation and its land (vs. 35 – 38 / 41 – 42)

Lets then have a closer look at each of these curses on the nation and the land and God’s blessings on the nation and the land.

  1. God’s curses on the nation and its land (vs. 33 – 34 / 39 – 40)

Ancient Israel was an agricultural based society so the fortunes or devastations of the land determined the prosperity or calamity of the nation. We, in modern society only feel the prosperity or devastation of the land in the price of our food and produce in the supermarkets. Back in 2011 Australia was hit by a massive cyclone called Cyclone Yasi and this cyclone almost wiped out Australia’s banana crop and I can remember bananas going from $1.50 a kilo to $20 a kilo in the matter of days. It took a couple of years for this terrible plight to our Northern Australian farming lands to recover.

So it is not strange that God’s curse on the nation for their many sins of disobedience to his rule and word is expressed in agricultural terms as we read in verses 33- 35,

“He turned rivers into a desert, flowing springs into thirsty ground, 34 and fruitful land into a salt waste, because of the wickedness of those who lived there.

 Then in verses 39 – 40 we read of more curses on the people of Israel,

“Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled by oppression, calamity and sorrow; 40 he who pours contempt on nobles made them wander in a trackless waste”.

So the sins of the nation caused famine through lack of rainfall and he brought calamity on the people through foreign conquest all because,

“Of the wickedness of those who lived there”.

What happened to the nobles or upper ruling class is a vivid poetic picture of what actually happened to the southern kingdom of Judah as recorded in 2 Kings 25: 18 – 21,

“The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers. 19 Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of the conscripts who were found in the city. 20 Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 21 There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed. So Judah went into captivity, away from her land”.

These nobles or leading men and women of Judah were dragged off ruthlessly to be executed of forcefully taken into exile and even before this final fall of Jerusalem nobles or leading men and women were taken into exile by the Babylonians and in 2 Kings 24: 15 – 17 we read of this first stage of taking leading people into exile in Babylon,

“ Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother, his wives, his officials and the prominent people of the land. 16 The king of Babylon also deported to Babylon the entire force of seven thousand fighting men, strong and fit for war, and a thousand skilled workers and artisans. 17 He made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah”.

  1. God’s blessings on the nation and its land (vs. 35 – 38 / 41 – 42)

So God cursed the land of Israel because of the people’s wickedness and disobedience but he also blessed the land especially when the King of Israel or Judah and the people under him obeyed his word and worshipped only him and we see this in this sixth section of Psalm 107 as well.

The writer of Psalm 107 speaks of God blessing the land and his people first of all in this last section of the Psalm in verse 35 – 38,

He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs;

there he brought the hungry to live, and they founded a city where they could settle.

37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest; 38 he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased, and he did not let their herds diminish”.

Israel was a nation of such great promise if they would just turn away from other God’s and be obedient to the God of the bible he would turn their deserts into a land flowing with fresh water were people would be blessed and not go hungry.

Theses verses seem to reflect many passages in the book of Isaiah like Isaiah 43: 19 – 21,

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 20 The wild animals honour me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise”.

 Isaiah pictures God doing a new thing and Matthew Henry in his commentary explains this new thing this way,

“The deliverance from Babylon is foretold, but there is reference to greater events. The redemption of sinners by Christ, the conversion of the Gentiles, and the recall of the Jews, are described. All that is to be done to rescue sinners, and to bring the believer to glory, is little, compared with that wondrous work of love, the redemption of man”.

 So both Psalm 107: 35 – 38 and Isaiah 43: 19 – 21 are poetic pictures of God doing a new thing for his people presented in powerful word pictures that describe in agricultural bliss, turning deserts into fertile land and turning hungry people into well fed contented people.

Jesus knew that in his coming he would fully fulfil the prophecies of Isaiah and all other prophecies for the Messiah and we see this especially in the story of Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth were he read from the prophecies of Isaiah in Isaiah 61: 1 – 2 and in Luke 4: 21, Jesus makes this bold claim,

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

 The return from exile in Babylon that this Psalm, Psalm 107 has been speaking about was a wonderful demonstration of the love and blessings of God but the coming of Jesus to this world to save us from our sins and make us a way to heaven for all eternity is a far great demonstration of the love and blessings of God.

Then in verses 41 – 42 our writer of Psalm 107, says,

“But he lifted the needy out of their affliction and increased their families like flocks. The upright see and rejoice, but all the wicked shut their mouths”.

 This is a further poetic picture of the blessing of God in bringing his people back from captivity and exile in Babylon but it to is also a far greater poetic picture of the results of what Christ did for us on the cross 2,000 years ago as this great sacrifice of Christ,

  1. Lifted the needy out of their affliction of sin
  2. Called the lost sheep of the world into his loving flock or family
  3. Caused those who believe in him to rejoice
  4. And ultimately in his second coming shut the mouths of the wicked.

So this sixth section pictures the return from exile in Babylon as a work of God in his love blessing his people after he had judged them for their many sins but for us as believers in what God did in Christ it is a message of the great blessings and love of God for all who truly turn to him.

As Paul speaks of the blessings of knowing Christ and what it leads us to be able to do in 2 Corinthians 9: 8 – 11,

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God”.

(vs. 43)     Take note and thank God for his love

 The writer closes his Psalm with a verse that could easily have come out of the book of Proverbs as it is a piece of wisdom literature that reads like this,

“Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord”.

 Although Allan Harman points out that the start of verse 43 is a direct copy of the last verse of Hosea, Hosea 14: 9,

“Who is wise? He will realize these things”

 And it is Alfred Barnes who I found explained what both these writers meant by the term “Is wise” when he writes,

“All who have a proper understanding of things, or who are disposed to look at them aright”.

 To see who God is and to know both what he is like and what he has done for us is to,

“Consider the great love of the Lord”

 The writer of Psalm 107 has set a series of powerful yet beautiful poetic pictures of the great love of the Lord seen in how he delivered his people from captivity and exile in Babylon and we have seen that this great historic deliverance of God mirrors perfectly our salvation in Christ.

Christ has liberated us from the bondage or slavery of sin and death through his death and resurrection and if we are wise as the writer of Psalm 107 says we too will consider this great love of the Lord and praise him. As Paul declares to the Galatians in Galatians 5: 1,

 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”.

I close as usual with an original poem and a prayer:

SAVED FROM THE BONDAGE OF SIN (Based on Psalm 107)

 Chorus:

Saved from the bondage of sin

Yes I saved from the bondage of sin

Made alive by God’s spirit within

For -ever I long to praise him.

 

I’ll give thanks to the Lord for he is good

Through his love he’s saved my life.

I was lost in a very thirsty place

And I cried to the Lord in my strife.

He heard my cry and he answered me

And through Jesus he gave me new life.

So now his spirit satisfies my thirst

And I enjoy a wonderful life.

 

Chorus:

 

Let us give thanks to the Lord for he is good

For he shone his light into my dark place

For with out God we’re lost in the darkness

So I cried to the Lord for release

He heard my cry and he answered me

And through Jesus he showed me great light

So now I see the way of the Lord

That shines so bright through the night.

 

Chorus:

 

Let us give thanks to the Lord for he is good

For he helps me in sickness and strife.

For through our sin sickness and death has come

So God sent Jesus to save our life.

He died for us on the cross you see

To pay for sin for you and for me

So now we can go to him in our strife

To find healing and forgiveness so free.

 

Chorus:

 

Let us give thanks to the Lord for he is good

For he helped me in the storms of life.

For I was lost and I was and all at sea.

But God stilled the storm in my life.

The waves of guilt over whelmed me

And I cried to the Lord please save me

Then I realised that Jesus did die for my sins

To make a way to eternity.

 

Chorus:

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 Dear father in heaven I thank you for your amazing love we know through the sending of your son into the world to free us from the bondage of sin and death. We know that Jesus died on the cross and redeemed us from the horrible consequences of our many sins. We also know that he rose from the dead to make a way for us into heaven. Thank you Lord for finding us when we were lost, healing us of our many sins, giving us your light in this dark world and stilling all our storms of life with your amazing love through your Son Jesus Christ and in and through his name we pray this, Amen.

PSALM 106 TALK: REMEMBER GOD’S LOVE AND PRAISE HIM

PSALM 106 TALK: REMEMBER GOD’S LOVE AND PRAISE HIM

 (A Psalm that recalls the marvelous loving deeds of God in the past for his people Israel who continually rebelled against God yet God still loved them by hearing their cries for mercy and help and over and over again God saved them or delivered them from their many enemies. This remembering of Israel’s past sins and God’s loving response to them is the basis of true praise and hope in God for all of us.)

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

The other day I came across an amazing Face book post, which featured the well -known and famous comedian and actor named Jim Carey. In this post Carey is attending the opening of a new Christian rehabilitation centre in Los Angeles called “Homeboy Industries. This Christian based centre run by Rev. Gregory J. Boyle aims to provide hope, training and support for former criminal gang members and ex- prisoners.

Jim Carey shared what I would call his testimony a powerful story of a man who had deep and troubling problems of depression and drug abuse coming to faith in The Lord Jesus Christ and being transformed by that. Carey said this,

“Ultimately, I believe that suffering presents us with two options – resentment or forgiveness. While resentment is a self – destructive path and that forgiveness leads to grace”.

 Carey then went on to remind the people at this centres opening of their common life changing faith in Jesus Christ with these words,

“Your being here is an indication that you’ve made that decision already. You made the decision to walk through the gate of forgiveness to grace just as Christ did on the cross”.

 Psalm 106 is a Psalm written by a Jewish man who we believe lived at the time that he and his people were trapped in a foreign country called Babylon, the big super power of his day and he believed they were there in exile and captivity because of their many sins of rebellion to their God who had shown them love and salvation over and over again only to have that love and salvation met with sin and rebellion.

He wants his readers to remember how God had shown them love and salvation all through there long history and by remembering this they could truly praise there great God of love. As he writes in the opening verse of his Psalm,

“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever”.

 He also hoped to find God’s love and salvation again to bring him and his people out of bondage in Babylon to their God given home in the Promised Land of Israel, as he writes in verse 47,

“Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise”.

 Like Jim Carey the writer of Psalm 106 knew the truth that “suffering leads to salvation” and that we must make the decision to. “walk through the gate of forgiveness to grace”.

 So many in our world today refuse to admit they need God’s forgiveness and the result of that is as Jim Carey found before he came to Christ that not knowing the forgiveness of God leads to resentment and its self destructive path expressed today in self harm activities like alcoholism, drug taking and many other soul destroying negative activities.

We need to confess our sins to God like the writer of Psalm 106 expresses in verse 6,

“We have sinned even as our fathers did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly”.

 Only when we have done this will we know the amazing grace of God with its life-changing message of forgiveness in Christ through his death for our sins on the cross.

With the message of remembering our rebellion and sin to God and his amazing love or grace in response to that my outline for this Psalm is:

  1. (1 – 5)   REMEMBER GOD’S LOVE AND PRAISE HIM – INTRODUCTION
  1. (1 – 3)   Remember God’s love and praise him stated
  2. (4 – 5)   God remember me

  

  1. (6 – 12)   REMEMBER REBELLION AND GOD’S LOVE ON THE SHORES OF

                     THE RED SEA

  1. (6 – 7)   Rebellion on the shores of the red sea
  2. (8 – 12) God’s love on the shores of the red sea

 

3.  (13 – 23)   REMEMBER REBELLION AND GOD’S LOVE IN THE

                       WILDERNESS

                      

  1. (13 – 22) Rebellion in the wilderness
  2. (vs. 23)  God’s love in the wilderness

 

  1. (24 – 33)   REMEMBER REBELLION AND GOD’S LOVE ON THE DOOR STEP

                       OF THE PROMISED LAND

 

  1. (24 – 29) Rebellion on the door step to the Promised Land
  2. (30 – 31) God’s love seen through a man called Phinehas
  3. (32 – 33) Further rebellion on the door step to the Promised Land

 

  1. (34 – 47)   REMEMBER REBLLION IN THE PROMISE LAND

 

  1. (34 – 43) Continuous rebellion in the Promise land
  2. (44 – 47) God’s love hoped for in his salvation of his people from

                 Babylon.

  1. (vs. 48)   DOXOLOGY OF BOOK 4 OF PSALMS

 

  1. (1 – 5)   REMEMBER GOD’S LOVE AND PRAISE HIM – INTRODUCTION

 

  1. (1 – 3)   Remember God’s love and praise him stated

 The opening and closing words of Psalm 106 are the same as the opening words of the previous Psalm, Psalm 105,

“Praise the Lord”

 This phrase, “Praise the Lord” is the English translation of the Hebrew word, “Halleluiah” and this word or tem will feature in many Psalms in the next book of Psalms we call book 5 in which 18 Psalms will feature the Hebrew word,” Halleluiah”. It is a Jewish call to praise and worship and in Psalm 106 this praise and worship is linked to the very nature of God, namely his goodness and love as the rest of verse 1 states,

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever”.

 It is God’s love that endures forever that this Psalm will go on to feature in the context of our sin and rebellion. No other God or religion presents their concept of God as a God of love and this idea that God is a loving God hits its supreme high note in the New Testament. The apostle John writing his first letter to some churches of his day, later in his life and ministry features the love of God and he says this in 1 John 4: 7 – 10,

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins”.

There is a early church story that when the apostle John was really old he was carried around on a stretcher and all he could do was hold up his hand in a gesture of giving a blessing and say, “Love my children, love”.

I recently responded to a Face Book post that suggested that their could not be a God because of the reality of evil in the world and the person who posted the remark asked the question if there is evil in the world how can there be a God who is a God of love?

The answer is that for God’s good reasons he did allow evil but the bible says that God is such a loving God that he uses even evil for good as Paul says in Romans 8: 28,

“And we know that in all things God works for good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose”.

The writer of Psalm 106 goes on to say this about how we should praise and worship this God of love in verse 2,

“Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise?”

Allan Harman says this about this question in verse 2,

“The question in verse 2 suggests that no one is able to fully make known all the deeds of the great warrior king”.

God’s acts of love and salvation are so much other than our way of acting and thinking that we cannot fully grasp their vast and wondrous nature of them. We cannot fully grasp them or fully proclaim them but those acts of God’s love should compel us to attempt to seek to grasp and proclaim them.

Finally in this remembrance of the loving acts of God that should lead to praise the writer of Psalm 106 says this in verse 3,

“Blessed are they who maintain justice who constantly do what is right”.

Again, this Psalm and indeed the whole bible says that no – one can maintain justice and constantly do what is right, owing to our sinful nature but again like the previous verse even if we cannot fully do this, if we believe in this great God of love we should seek to show the same nature and characteristics of him which is love and justice or doing what is right, which the bible calls “righteousness”.

The New Testament teaches that we have no righteousness in ourselves so God has to give us his gift of righteousness through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as Paul states clearly 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!

So the opening three verses of this Psalm set up the principle of through remembering God’s love for us we should praise him.

  1. (4 – 5)   God remember me

 We have a lot of clues in this Psalm that a Jewish man wrote this Psalm in the time of the seventy years the Jews were captives in Babylon and I believe verses 4 and 5 only make sense in this context. Let me explain my reasoning.

We have just seen that the writer of Psalm 106 has called his hearers and readers to worship the great God of love of the bible. He told them to give thanks for this God’s goodness and eternal enduring love. He then spoke of proclaiming this God’s mighty acts and now in verse 4 he writes,

“Remember me O Lord, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them”.

If this was written at the time of the exile in Babylon he would have known God’s promise of help and salvation for the Jews through the prophet Jeremiah who wrote to them when they were in exile in Babylon and this letter to the exiles in Babylon is recorded in Jeremiah 29 and in verses 10 – 14 of that chapter in Jeremiah he says this,

“This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

 So what the writer of Psalm 106 is asking for in verse 4 is that God will remember or not overlook him when he restores his people in exile in Babylon back to the land of Israel. This becomes even clearer in what he writes in verse 5,

“That I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving praise”.

 The writer of Psalm 106 wants to be part of the joy and praise that will come from a return to the homeland of Israel after the long 70 years of exile in Babylon. Again he knew the truth that Jim Carey recently stated at the opening of the Christian rehabilitation centre in LA that suffering leads to salvation and that God’s forgiveness opens the gates of his grace.

This is made clear for those who trust and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in the words of Paul in Romans 5: 1 – 2,

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God”.

  1. (6 – 12)   REMEMBER REBELLION AND GOD’S LOVE ON THE SHORES OF  THE       RED SEA

 

  1. (6 – 7)   Rebellion on the shores of the red sea

The writer of Psalm 106 remains true to his words in verse 2 about trying to proclaim the mighty acts of God and declaring his praise by giving us a long rundown of Israel’s rebellion and God’s wondrous loving response to this in verses 6 – 46 and starts with the acts of his people’s rebellion and God’s loving response on the shores of the red sea when Israel was on it exodus from slavery in Egypt.

He not only states that generations sins at that time in verse 6 but identifies his own current generation sins in that context as well, he writes in verse 6,

“We have sinned even as your fathers did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly”.

 People today have little regard for the past and even deny it has an effect on them. They look back at the past with contempt and arrogance believing that they today know so much more and are so vastly superior to those who lived long ago. Nothing could be further from the truth as the past, properly understood reveals over and over again the rebellious sinful nature of mankind and that the mistakes people made in the past are doomed to recur in the present time or the future owing to man-kinds sinful nature.

The writer of Psalm 106 knew his generation had sinned just like the coming out of Egypt generation had sinned and done wickedly. Paul made it clear in Romans on a number of occasions that we all have sinned and done wrong like Romans 3: 23,

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

 People today want to believe that everyone is basically good with the capacity to do evil but the bible presents that we are all basically evil with the capacity to do good through the transforming grace of God in Christ as Paul goes on to say in Romans 3: 24,

“And are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”.

 after he had said in the previous verse that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

So the writer of Psalm 106 identifies his and his fellow members of his generation with the rebellious generation that left Egypt which he makes clear with what he says in verse 7,

“When our fathers were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red sea.”

 The previous Psalm 105 spoke of eight of the ten miraculous plagues God wrought in Egypt that led the Pharaoh and his people to let the nation of Israel leave Egypt and as Psalm 105 verse 27 says,

“He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold and from among their tribes no one faltered”.

 On the final night in Egypt this generation that left Egypt saw with their own eyes the events of that terrible night when all the first born sons of Egypt died but their first born sons lived yet after all this when they stood with their faces looking at the waters of the red sea with the Egyptian army storming down on them from the rear they simply turned on God with grumbling rebellion.

This terrible scene of rebellion is recorded for us in Exodus 14: 10 – 12,

“ As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

Instead of trusting in the great and powerful God of the ten plagues in Egypt they turned on him and his appointed leader and grumbled with words of out and out rebellion. As the writer of Psalm 106 says in verse 7,

“They gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses”.

 This is what real faith is all about do we really trust in God especially in the difficult times of life. In fact I believe God lets us face difficult times and situations to actually test and prove the faith we claim we have as Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 1: 6 – 7,

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed”.

  1. (8 – 12) God’s love on the shores of the red sea

 God should have given up on this grumbling rebellious generation but he is not like us but He is the great God of love and so his response was three demonstrations of his love to this sinful people, which was,

  1. He saved them for the sake of his name (vs. 8)
  2. He rebuked the waters of the red sea (vs. 9)
  3. He saved them from the hand of their enemies (vs. 10 and 11)

Lets have a closer look at each of these three acts of God’s love for his sinful people on the shores of the red sea.

  1. He saved them for the sake of his name (vs. 8)

The key word in verse eight is the little word “Yet” which like the word “but” makes all the difference in so much of the bible’s teaching. Yes the Israelites grumbled and rebelled on the shores of the red sea yet God still saved them in a most miraculous way,

“Yet he saved them for his name sake, to make his mighty power known”.

 Why then did he save this grumbling, sinful and rebellious people?

Verse 8 simply tells us two reasons:

  1. For his name sake
  2. To make his mighty power known

First of all for his name sake and we know that God’s name or names reveal to us God’s character or what he is like and of course Psalm 106 has already clearly stated what God is like in the opening verse where we read,

“For he (God) is good; his love endures forever”

 God saved his grumbling, rebellious and sinful people because he is a God of love. This love in the New Testament is called “grace” which is love we do don deserve and Paul states what that means for our salvation in Ephesians 2: 4: 4 – 9,

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 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”.

Note the little word, “but” and what follows is that we don’t deserve to be saved but the God of the bible is a God of love and he saves us out of love for us.

Secondly verse 8 tells us a second reason why God saved his grumbling, rebellious and sinful people and that was because it would show his mighty power to the world of that day and ever since.

So to does the love of God in the act of Jesus death on the cross show his mighty power in that through that Satan and sin was defeated once and for all and the power of God’s love gives us new life a life that transforms us like it did Jim Carey who speaks of it this way,

“Jesus suffered terribly and He was broken by it, to the point of doubt and a feeling of absolutely abandonment, which all of you have felt. Then there was a decision to be made. And the decision was to look upon the people who were causing that suffering with compassion and forgiveness, and that’s what opens the gates of heaven for all of us”.

These words echo the words of the writer to the Hebrews in Hebrews 2: 9 – 10,

 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

 10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered”.

  1. He rebuked the waters of the red sea (vs. 9)

The power of God seen on the shores of the red sea was shown in what verse 9 speaks of,

“He rebuked the Red sea, and it dried up he led them through the depths as through a desert”.

 I remember as a back- slidden Christian teenager going one rainy night to a drive in theatre and seeing the epic old movie, “The Ten Commandments” and the scene in that movie I will never forget is when Charlton Heston, who played the part of Moses stood on a large rock and pulled back his staff and the waters of that inland sea opened up. Even in my own foolish rebellious state I was impressed and had to think, did this actually happen and if it did where do I stand in the sight of such a God”.

It was only a year or so later that I did turn back to God and experienced what Jim Carey spoke about, I made the decision to,

“Walk through the gate of forgiveness”.

 Then I knew something of God’s great power in my life as began again to experience God transforming my life and using me in his kingdoms service.

  1. He saved them from the hand of their enemies (vs. 10 – 11)

The writer of Psalm 106 in verses 10 – 11 expresses the third thing God did on the shores of the red sea,

He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them. 11 The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived.

 This is how he showed his love and his power he allowed the Egyptian army who sought to slaughter the entire Israelite nation to enter the walled passage- way he created for the people to cross and then he closed those two walls of water on them. So the army who sought to slaughter God’s chosen people was destroyed in the waters of the red sea.

This might sound to our modern western sensitive minds a barbaric act committed be a so called loving God but the reality is that to oppose God in hardened non belief as Pharaoh and his people did has ultimately dire consequences. The New Testament gives ample warning to people who refuse to acknowledge God and go on to oppose him and his people and the writer to the Hebrews simply says in Hebrews 10: 31, (International Standard version),

“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!”

 This however does not give any right to Christians today to strike out against those who oppose them and the God they believe in as Jesus spoke strongly about loving our enemies and praying for them and Paul told the Christians in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 4: 5,

“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God”.

No our God given role as Christians is to live amongst unbelievers like shining stars as we hold out to them the message of life as Paul asks the church at Philippi to do in Philippians 2: 14 – 16,

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain”.

This message of life is the message of God’s love that is beautifully summed up in the well known verse, John 3: 16,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

Interestingly if God allowed the Egyptian army to get across the red sea and destroy the Nation of Israel the message of life would never have come about because out of the nation of Israel came the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and without him no message of life would have come to the world.

Finally this act of God’s love and power which includes the destruction of the Egyptian enemy finally seemed to have led the people who witnessed it to believe in their God who performed it for them because verse 12 says,

“Then they believed his promises and sang his praise”.

Moses leads the singing of their God’s praise in a all inspiring song recorded in Exodus 15: 1 – 18. If you don’t believe what God did on the shores of the red sea that day as a act of not only power but also an act of love listen to these words of Moses song in Exodus 15: 11 – 13,

“Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory, working wonders? 12 “You stretch out your right hand, and the earth swallows your enemies. 13 In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling”.

  1. (13 – 23)  REMEMBER REBELLION AND GOD’S LOVE IN THE

                       WILDERNESS                       

  1. (13 – 22) Rebellion in the wilderness

The last section ended on the triumphant note of God’s act of power and love being acknowledged by the people of Israel with faith and praise but sadly this state of faith and praise soon evaporated as we read in the very next verse, verse 13,

“But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his counsel”.

 How could they forget such a powerful demonstration of God’s power and love?

I only saw a Hollywood version of what happened that day and I still cannot forget it even though it was 45 years ago, although I have watched the movie The Ten Commandments a few times since.

No this so called people of God we know as Israel turns out to be a grumbling, rebellious and sinful people and they serve as a lesson to us that sin and unbelief is a very real thing and it is always lurking at the door of our lives and this is why the New Testament has so many warnings against the seriousness of turning away from God as again the writer to the Hebrews warns his readers in a number of places in his letter to them.

I like the example of this in Hebrews 10: 19 – 25,

“19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”.

However it appears from the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy and now in verses 13 – 23 of Psalm 106, the people who witnessed such love and power of their God did not hold unswervingly to the hope they professed and quickly grumbled, rebelled and sinned the next time they faced a difficulty or problem in their wilderness wanderings.

I have broken down the actual description of this rebellion in the wilderness into three parts:

  1. Their craving for food without faith in God (vss. 14 – 15)
  2. Their lack of commitment and faith in God’s appointed leaders (vss. 16 – 18)
  3. Their lack of faith expressed in turning to a false God alternative (vss.19- 22)

 Lets have a closer look at each of these three incidents of rebellion in the wilderness.

  1. Their craving for food without faith in God (vss. 14 – 15)

I can understand a little the first rebellion of lack of food as speaking simply humanly what chance would up to two million people have of finding enough food in a desert area?

However this is how the writer of Psalm 106 speaks of their craving for water and food in verse 14,

In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness they put God to the test.

The key words in this verse is,

“They put God to the test”.

Leopold explains these words this way,

“They abandoned themselves to their cravings and by so doing they put God to the test in an unwholesome way by issuing a kind of challenge as to whether God could actually perform a deed of the magnitude which they specified”.

We are not sure which actual incident the writer of Psalm 106: 14 is referring to but it seems likely to me it is the incident recorded in Numbers 11 and verses 4 – 6 which says,

“The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

In Exodus 16 the people had put God to the test when they soon after crossing the red sea had grumbled and complained to Moses about not having food in the desert so Moses sought the Lord as the people should have. Then we read in first part of next verse,

“So he gave them what they asked for”

 Which I see is another example of God’s loving provision for them in the form of manna, which is a Hebrew word that simply means, “What is it”.

But in verses 4 – 6 of Numbers 11, the miracle of manna was not enough and they grumbled and complained again putting God to the test and he supplied them with meat in the form of quail, probably blown off course to fly over the camp of the Israelites.

However because they put God to the test by asking for food in a form of a grumbling rebellious test the second half of verse 15 says,

“But (God) sent a wasting disease upon them”

 This is probably what Numbers 11: 32 – 33 is speaking of,

“All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers. Then they spread them out all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague”.

I had an interesting thought about these incidents the other day and it was that the people of Israel did take their livestock with them as Exodus 12: 31 – 32 indicate,

 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”

And a little further on we read in verses 38 – 39,

“Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves”.

 Why did they not eat some of these?

Was it because these were needed for sacrifice worship purposes?

Or were the people of Israel of that time unwilling to part with them, which would have been in their day their material possessions?

The whole incident is a terrible black mark on a generation of people who had seen so much and given so much of God’s power and love yet how did they respond, with grumbling and complaining.

Recently I have been thinking and praying for my own country of Australia as I have had some very ferocious attacks from non- believers on facebook and have been told by many we no longer believe in your God and so far as they are concerned they would like to see what they now call dangerous thinking and beliefs wiped out in Australia.

My country has been so blessed by God yet its reaction to this blessing of his love for us is to grumble complain, rebel against the authority of God and be involved in more and more worship of material things which as Jim Carey found in America only led him ultimately to depression and various forms of drug taking which is also on the rise in my country as I speak.

Carey went through much suffering he tells us but he discovered through that suffering, forgiveness and the gate way to God’s love through the message of the death and resurrection of Christ.

My verse’s for thought hear is Matthew 6: 33 – 34

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”. 

  1. Their lack of commitment and faith in God’s appointed leaders (vss. 16 – 18)

If the events of the previous verses were not enough what is recorded in the next little section could be called nothing more than horrific as the rebellion in the wilderness camp now raises its head in the form of dangerous opposition to God’s ordained leadership of his people, namely Moses and Aaron.

Verse 16 explains this lack of commitment and faith in God’s appointed leaders this way,

“In the camp they grew envious of Moses and of Aaron, who was consecrated to the Lord”.

 This verse only reveals one incident of Moses being challenged by other more junior leaders for Numbers 12 speaks of a challenge to Moses leadership from his very on sister Miriam who leads her brother Aaron in a challenge for the divine leadership of the people. The Lord for this rebellion of Miriam disciplines her with leprously but after Moses cried out for her healing and restoration was given to her.

Then in Numbers 16 we have the incident that verse 16 speaks of, namely the sordid tale of deceit and rebellion as three junior leaders in the camp of Israel Korah, Dathan and Abiram lead a very real challenge to Moses and Aarons leadership of the people. Why Psalm 106 does not mention Korah is not known but the best possible explanation on this was by C.H Spurgeon who writes,

“Korah is not mentioned, for mercy was extended to his household, though he himself perished”.

 Spurgeon is speaking of the fact that Number 26: 11, which simply says,

“The line of Korah, however did not die out”

 In fact the bible story of the Son’s of Korah is one of a family line redemption as later descendants get to write scripture in the form of Psalms which ironically is one of the things the original Korah wanted to do himself by force, he wanted to commune with God directly like Moses to be a special spokesperson for God to the Nation of Israel and of course through that the nations of the world.

Psalm 106: 16 points to envy as the root cause of their rebellion and you have to read Numbers 16 to discover more details of this shocking challenge to the leadership of Moses and Aaron.

Dathan, Abiram and of course Korah led 250 men to a revolt in the camp of the Israelites against God’s leadership of the people.

Moses and his brother Aaaron were God’s chosen leadership team. Listen to their words of insurrection and rebellion to the rule of God through the leadership of Moses and Aaron, Numbers 16: 3,

“They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

 Can you believe the audacity of these men who were all leading men in the Nation of Israel at this time by sitting on a leadership council but this was not enough as they wanted more power and prestige and they were willing to challenge God’s appointed leaders to get it.

 Psalm 106 verse 17 tells us what God did about this challenge to ultimately his Lordship of the people and it sadly reads,

“The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan; it buried the company of Abiram”.

 So much for that attempt to put a fist in face of God and say to God we know better than Moses and Aaron and they wanted the top job for themselves and if you don’t agree with my interpretation then listen to how Moses saw it and expressed it in his own words in Numbers 16: 8 – 11,

“Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? 10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. 11 It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?”

The rebellion falls in a heap or according to verse 17 or rather it falls into a massive hole in the ground. It is actually Korah and his family, according to Numbers 16 who fall in the the big whole the ground.

Is this then the end to the story?

O no!, this wilderness generation even after Korah and his and most of his family perish through rebellion are led by Dathan and Abriram in a renegade act of worship and then they and the people they led in worship were destroyed as Psalm 106 verse 18 describes,

“Fire blazed among their followers; a flame consumed the wicked”.

Their reasoning for this act of rebellious worship is found in Numbers 16: 12 – 14,

“Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We will not come! 13 Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? And now you also want to lord it over us! 14 Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Do you want to treat these men like slaves? No, we will not come!”

They would not come before God by facing his God appointed leaders so God comes to them in the form of fire and interestingly the writer to the Hebrews says this about acceptable worship in Hebrews 12: 28 – 29,

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

What New Testament application can we make of this sad and sordid tale of rebellion in the wilderness?

Well for once we have in the pages of The New Testament itself, the little letter of Jude, and Jude we believe was the brother of James and of course Jesus and there we have a direct reference to this rebellion in the wilderness, Jude 11,

“Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion”.

From what I can gather from my limited understanding of the letter of Jude he is speaking here about men who have infiltrated the early church Jude had some kind of responsibility for. These men sought to lead the church away from following the Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 4), led the people into forms of sexual immorality (Jude 7)

and taught all kinds of false doctrine (Jude 10).

Why?

And the answer is Jude 11,

“Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion”.

I as a lay- person in my church and not a teacher appointed their by God I am willing to be under the God given leadership and teaching of the three ministers of my church. I love them all dearly and respect and support the calling God has given them. My interest is in the book of Psalms, as you can see and one of the three ministers of my church is a kind of overseer of my work and offers me lots of encouragement and advice in my journey through the Psalms.

To many today think they know better than others and their leaders suffer as a result and worse so many churches suffer at the hands of leaders who have moved away from the word of God our only true and final authority on the things of God.

Why do men and now women do this?

And I believe the story of Korah, Dathan and Abiram tell us the answer to this all important question which is confirmed by the message of Jude 11,

“They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error”

And what will God do with such church leaders?

“They will been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion”.’

I can assure you that I earn absolutely no money for my work on the Psalms, it is a labour of love and in fact I have determined with the Lord that if by any turn of events money does come from it all money will go to supporting the ministry of bible teaching and Christian worship throughout the world.

  1. Their lack of faith expressed in turning to a false God alternative (vss.19- 22)

 The final straw or nail in the coffin of the grumbling, rebellion and sin in the wilderness begs belief in its breathtaking audacity as it is a complete turning away from the Bible to a false God represented by a cow or maybe I should say a bull. For in verses 19 and 20 we read,

“At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal. 20 They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass”.

For a person who would read this tale for the first time I believe the only word they would utter is,

WHAT?

I say this because here we have the next verse, verse 21 of Psalm 106 to tell us what this first time reader would have had in there heads,

“They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt”.

To make things even worse for this story of rebellion and sin Exodus 32 tells us this unbelievable piece of rebellious sin took place when Moses was up on the mountain getting the Ten Commandments from God.

What on earth were they thinking?

A careful look at Exodus 32 verses 1 – 6 reveals something of the foolish thinking these sinful rebellious people had at that time.

My explanation goes like this, Moses has been missing for some time from the camp up a mountain talking with God and the people have become restless and it seems gave up on Moses, yet again and put pressure on his deputy Aaron to take the reigns and make a God for them, Exodus 32: 1,

“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

The only explanation for this request for Aaron to make us “God’s” is that these people still had not got it yet, there is only one God and he is not an idol like the Egyptians believed in.

Aaron a champion of compromise and ingenuity stubbles on the idea of making them an idol to represent the powerful God he knew brought them out of Egypt. So we read his plan and actions in verses 2 – 4,

“Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

Why a calf, you might ask?

Well what would have been the strongest animal these people knew, why, it is a bull and so, Aaron would reason that the God who had pushed back the red sea, provided miraculous food and water, opened up big holes in the ground to destroy rebels was very strong so the people want a image of God to worship lets give them a golden Bull that they can fall down around and worship and let me tell you, he would say this only represents the God who you serve.

So what’s wrong with that, you might ask?

Well a hell of a lot as sure a bull represents God’s strength, well sort of but bulls are dumb animals who, as Psalm 106 verse 20 says,

“eats grass”

 The great, but invisible God is not dumb like a bull and he certainly doesn’t eat grass. He even is sold really short in the powerful department as what bull or cow could open up a sea and then destroy a army, so we read in Psalm 106: 21,

“They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt”.

 Five years ago now I went on my first trip through Europe and I had been looking forward to that trip for years but I have never been so disturbed by a trip over seas than that trip.

Why?

Because I came face to face with the mainline Christian church and its many forms of idol worship, Sure the churches and cathedrals are magnificent examples of architecture but they are full of various forms of very insidious idols. Let me explain, we went to a magnificent monastery called Montserrat but what was considered the big attraction there, the statue of Mary called, “The Black Madonna” and what did people do there, including me, we lined up to go up to the top of the church to pay homage to a little statue of a black Mary and child.

 Let me tell you after I thought about it in my hotel I was almost physically sick, how could I, a believer in the great and powerful God of love stoop, literally to paying homage to a statue of a women. I coined the phrase during that bus trip through Europe that what we are seeing here is not “Christianity” but “Maryanity”, note the spell checker has just gone mad.

 I came home seeking to get back into my bible and enjoyed so much worship back home where there are no ‘Images” or “Idols” to distract us.

 I know I have just offended all my European readers of my Palm talks and you might say what’s wrong with a statue of Mary here and there, after all as Jesus earthly Mother she now would have a special place in heaven with Jesus.

However the same God, logic about graven images applies, these statues are worshipped, and don’t tell me they are not and even if they are not worshipped, Mary and child is a kind of image of God and even though this image portrays something of a special kind of love it cheapens the real unseen by human eye of God to say God is like a man or in the case of Mary a women and Numbers 23: 19 says,

 “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act.  Does he promise and not fulfill?”

 Paul says this about the nature of all sin 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.

22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

 So I will stop throwing rocks at my European friends and start throwing rocks at myself. If Paul is stating here in Romans 1 the nature of all sin then we too, here in Australia have some form of idol worship problem.

What Idols do we get tempted to fall down to and worship?

Are we not one of the most materialistic and hedonistic nations on the face of the earth. We have the idols of “things” and the pursuit of happiness, our idols are less obvious than statues of Mary yet they, the things or objects or desires that become our God’s, or what we live for are just as real and dangerous as images of Mary and the baby Jesus.

So this rebellious and sinful generation of Israel who left Egypt the writer of Psalm 106 says in verses 21 -22,

“They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt, 22 miracles in the land of Ham and awesome deeds by the Red Sea”.

 As Christian believers we must never forget what Jesus did for us on the cross and how he proved he had won a victory over sin and the Devil by rising from the dead as the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 12: 1 – 3,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart”.

 The Devil will tempt us to take our eyes off Jesus and turn to some form of idol worship but we must have patience and faith in God and not fall to the devils trap as the rebellious sinful generation did in the wilderness when they exchanged the one true powerful and loving invisible God for a golden bull who supposed to symbolize God but is just a dumb animal that eats grass.

  1. (vs. 23)   God’s love in the wilderness

In Exodus 32: 7 – 8 switches the scene of the story of this rebellion of God by Israel in the wilderness to the top of the mountain where Moses is speaking with God and here God reveals his reaction to Israel’s sin,

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt.

 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”. “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

 God is very angry with the people of Israel and they could not have chosen a worst thing to do then turn away from the great God of heaven and earth and worship a golden bull instead and call that useless idol their ‘God’s.

The love of God is expressed in this dire situation by what the writer of Psalm 106 says in verse 23,

“So he said he would destroy them- had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them”.

 What this verse is describing poetically happened like this according to Exodus 32: 11 – 14,

“But Moses sought the favour of the LORD his God. “LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ ” 14 Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened”.

 The writer of Psalm 106 uses a military term to describe what Moses did that day,

 “Stood in the breach before him”.

 Allen Harmen explains,

“Military language used of a soldier willing to give his life for others by defending the gap in the wall”.

 Moses is pleading for the life and future of his people and he is right in the front line of this fight and note what Moses appeals to and he pleads for God to save his people, verses 12 and 13,

12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’?

Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.

 He is appealing to two things, the first is the honour and name of God in that if God destroyed his people the Egyptians would feel they were victorious over the God of Israel as they did escape but their God destroyed them in the wilderness.

The second thing Moses appealed to we the loving covenant God had made with Abraham and his descendants, which spoke of these descendants one day being numerous as the stars. God needed the nation of Israel to exist and flourish so that one day he could send into that nation his only son who could come to make a way for all men and women to come back to him and be part of his family of faith.

This was the right logic for Moses to use with the God of the bible and his actions resulted in what Exodus 32: 14 says,

14 Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened”.

 The Christian church over the past 2,000 years has waxed and waned and at times fallen into great sin and rebellion like these people of Israel did in the wilderness but the writer of the letter to the Hebrews tells us we have a great high priest in heaven for us a kind of Moses who stands in the breach for us continually and who understands our weaknesses and temptations, Hebrews 4: 14 – 16,

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 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”.

  1. (24 – 33)   REMEMBER REBELLION AND GOD’S LOVE ON THE DOOR STEP

                       OF THE PROMISED LAND 

  1. (24 – 29) Rebellion on the door step to the Promised Land

The generation of the Nation of Israel that left Egypt as slaves soon found themselves on the door- step of God’s Promised Land and Moses sends out 12 spies, one spy from each tribe to check out the land. This is recorded in Numbers 13. The spies return and speak highly of the land except 10 of the 12th spies give a bad report about the possibility of conquering and possessing it. Caleb and the young man Joshua are the only spies who seem to have faith in God but they are shouted down by the others spies and the people who believe the bad report of taking possession of the land.

So the writer of Psalm 106 in his fourth section speaks of this further story of Israel’s rebellion this time on the doorstep of the Promised Land in verse’s 24 – 25,

“Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe his promise. 25 They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord”.

Note the three things they seem to be doing that show’s their lack of faith in the Lord:

  1. They did not believe his promise
  2. They grumbled
  3. They did not obey the Lord

I would like to make a brief comment on each of these things that show their lack of faith and give one New Testament application of each one of them.

  1. They did not believe his promise

All of the people of Israel would have known by this stage the covenant God had made with their ancestors starting with Abraham who were given very clear promises about one day possessing the land of Canaan. Abraham was living in the land of Canaan when God said this to him in Genesis 15: 7,

“He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”

 Abraham actually only ever owned a small piece of Canaan for burial use but each of his direct descendants, Isaac and Jacob who became Israel were also given God’s promise of the land of Canaan, Isaac – Genesis 26: 2 – 5 and Jacob – Genesis 28: 13 – 15. So the people knew that when they left Egypt they were heading for Canaan to take possession of it but when they were on Canaan’s doorstep they, verse 24, Psalm 106,

“Despised the pleasant land”

 For they,

“Did not believe his promise”.

 It is very sad that for some time now many churches and the ministers who work in them, “Don’t believe in God’s promises” anymore because they either devalue the role and function of the bible or completely reject it as the word of God. Paul warned Timothy that even in the first century of the Christian church this would happen and he encourages Timothy to counter this pulling away from the bible to, 2 Timothy 4: 2 – 5,

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry”.

  1. They grumbled

We have seen already in this Psalms account of the generation of Israel that were freed from slavery in Egypt that grumbling was a major problem for them.

Whenever it seemed that they faced a new challenge or difficulty instead of trusting in the Lord they grumbled and this is exactly what the writer of Psalm 106 said actually happened on the door -step of the Promised Land, verse 25,

“They grumbled in their tents”

 Paul had much to say about not grumbling or not complaining because of the wonderful things God has done in Christ for us and also because of all the wonderful things we have in Christ. Paul even uses the example of this grumbling generation in 1 Corinthians 10 to say this in verse 10,

“And do not grumble, as some of them did – and were killed by the destroying angel”.

 Then to the Philippians he says, Philippians 2: 14 – 15,

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky”.

 Note here how Paul sees that a major way we witness to non- believers is by the way we do not grumble or complain as it makes us stand out for God in a good light not a bad way.

  1. They did not obey the Lord

Finally their response to the negative spies reports when the people of Israel were on the doorsteps of the Promised Land was to disobey the Lord as they refused to go into the Promise Land because the people there seemed to strong and entrenched in the land for them to take it.

This was a direct disobedience of God and his word and it is James who makes the very clear link of faith and obedience in his letter, which says this in James 2: 17,

“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead”.

 The Israelites who were on the doorstep of God’s Promised Land of Canaan could have said, “O we have faith” but by their actions of grumbling and not believing in the promise’s of God by refusing to enter the Promised Land to take it show that their faith was dead.

So in the next two verses because of this lack of faith and obedience God stops this generation on the door- step of the Promised Land from ever entering that land,

“So he swore to them with uplifted hand that he would make them fall in the

wilderness, 27 make their descendants fall among the nations and scatter them throughout the lands”.

God tells this generation of Israelites, through Moses that they would not enter the Promised Land as all of them would die outside the Promise Land and only their children, the next generation, except for Caleb and Joshua, the faithful spies would enter the Promise Land some 40 years later.

Then another incident of rebellion occurs soon after this, which is recorded in verses 28 – 29 and Numbers 25. Lets read how the writer of Psalm 106 speaks of this next incident,

“They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods; 29 they aroused the Lord’s anger by their wicked deeds, and a plague broke out among them”.

 The sad reality of this incident is that God had fought for Israel against the Moabites and they just could not stop their wanderings and pillaging of the Israelites in their lands but this sinful rebellious generation put their nation and its culture and religion at risk by sleeping with what seems to be Temple Worship Moabite Prostitutes. Verse 28 speaks this group of men yoking themselves, a Old Testament term for having sexual relationships with these women who are part of the Temple worship of Baal of Peor.

The Canaanite worship of Baal crops up all through the bible and is a sinful thorn in the side of the history of Israel. Baal was a fertility God and this is why Temple prostitution was part of its worship practices. The Baal was also usually represented by a bull and verse 28 says it was a,

“Lifeless God”

 Baal worship had a lot of temptations in it, which included sex and the promise of both human and agricultural fertility. When Israel did enter the Promised Land their failure to wipe out all Baal worship in the land led to it cropping up regularly as a form of rebellion to the one true invisible God of Heaven and earth.

Today we to face many temptations that might seem very attractive but we must always keep in mind the advice of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10: 13.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”.

  1. (30 – 31) God’s love seen through a man called Phinehas

We read in verse 30 that God’s reaction to this rebellion is to send a plague on the people of Israel in the wilderness in the Moabite area.

An unexpected hero is raised up by God to deal with this and he nips this big drift to Moabite rebellious worship in the bud. His name is Phinehas and he was the grandson of Moses and verse 30 says,

“But Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was checked”.

 God’s loving rescue was a very bloody judgment on the ring- leaders of this rebellion and we read the gory details of this in Numbers 25: 6 – 9,

“Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent.

He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000”.

For this act of faith in action by Phinehas verse 31 of Psalm 106 says this about him,

“This was credited to him as righteousness for the endless generations to come”.

This verse reminds me of the famous verse concerning the saving faith of Abraham, Genesis 15: 6,

“Abraham believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness”.

 Phinehas believed in the one and only true God and how he wanted to be worshiped so he did what he did and God recognised this faith in action and he too was credited with righteousness. That’s how I understand this verse in Psalm 106. Phinehas faith in action, Psalm 106: 31 tells us became a inspiration for faith in action for generations after his killing of the man who took a Midianite women into the Israelite camp to have sexual relations and this women was more than likely a Temple prostitute for the worship of Baal of Peor. His actions stopped the terrible plague that this terrible sin of the people had brought upon them.

So God used Moses in an act of love to avert his judgment on Israel for their sin and rebellion and now he used Moses grandson Phinehas to do the same for yet another fall into rebellion and sin by the people of Israel that had been freed by God from slavery in Egypt.

This generation keeps showing us that they might have been saved from social slavery but they still suffered from what the bible calls slavery to sin. It would take the coming of another man who is far greater than Moses or Phinehas to be God’s instrument of love to save us from the slavery of sin and that is Jesus Christ who Paul says this about our being saved from the slavery from sin in Romans 6: 5 – 7

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin”.

 Paul, of course is speaking about the man known as Jesus Christ but because he was not juts a man but God come in the flesh he was once and for all able to destroy sins hold on us like God destroyed that Egyptian army long ago and through his death on the cross which Paul is speaking about in Romans 6 he was able to kill the sin slavery of those who turn to him in faith, those who like Moses and Phinehas believed in God and who turned that faith into faithful obedience.

Paul goes on to say these further wonderful words about how God has saved us from the slavery of sin in Romans 6: 17 – 18,

“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness”.

All I can add to that is, “Halleluiah” , Praise the Lord!

  1. (32 – 33) Further rebellion on the door -step to the Promised Land

 The writer of Psalm 106 gives us one more example of the generation of Israelites who left Egypt rebellion and sin and this one finally even catches out their faithful but frustrated leaders Moses and Aaron. This incident of rebellion in the wilderness after they had come close to going into the Promised Land and the writer of Psalm speaks of it this way in verses 32 – 33,

By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord, and trouble came to Moses because of them;33 for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses’ lips”.

This is the second incident of grumbling, rebellion and a sinful reaction to a lack of water the wilderness more than likely the one recorded in Numbers 20: 1 – 13.

Some commentators believe Numbers 20 is speaking of the same incident that is spoken of in Exodus 17 but the incident in Numbers 20 was in a different desert area, Desert of Zin rather than the Desert of Sin and it happened when Miriam, Moses sister died and was buried.

The fact that this second reaction to the problem of lack of water is so similar to the first most people using common sense would say, no, they would have learnt there lesson by then so it must be somehow speaking of the same incident.

No, let me tell you they did not learn their lesson because as this wilderness generation is called by God himself a,

“Stiff – necked people” (Deut. 9: 6)

This means they were stubborn and proud and did not learn easily the lessons God was teaching them.

So as I said this wilderness generation faced the problem of lack of water in the desert and this is how Numbers 20: 2 – 5 records their reaction to this,

“Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

This represents yet another illustration of lack of faith and rebellion to their God who has helped them over and over again yet they continue to show that they do not trust him when facing the difficulties of life.

The writer of Psalm 106 and I might seem to have an unfair view of these people but I would like to remind you that the writer himself said this earlier in the Psalm in verse 6,

“We have sinned even as our fathers did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly”.

I cannot say I am much better than these people myself as only two days ago I faced some difficulties in my life and could not sleep the first night of my recent problem. It was not unto four hours into that night I suddenly realised I had not prayed about this problem and within five minutes of committing my problem to the Lord I was sound asleep. I need to, even after being a believer for more than 40 years, practice what David teaches in Psalm 37: 5 – 7,

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes”.

The reaction of Moses and Aaron and God’s instructions of how to deal with this is recorded in the following verses, 6 – 8,

“Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord said to Moses,

“Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

Note how God instructs Moses to,

“Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water”.

However verses 9 – 11 says,

“So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank”.

Allan Harman comments,

“Moses spoke out of his anger at years of frustration with the people”.

Note how Moses seems to be speaking to the people with great human anger and also note how he was told this time to just speak to the rock but instead Moses struck the rock and I believe it was not a gentle tap but a vicious lashing out of anger and frustration directed at the people who certainly acted as God said they were, a stiff necked people.

The writer of Psalm 106 verse 33 and 34 says,

“By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord, and trouble came to Moses because of them;33 for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses’ lips”.

 The verses that follow what Moses did at Meribah are to me some of the saddest words about Moses in the bible, verses 12 – 13,

“But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

13 These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarrelled with the Lord and where he was proved holy among them”.

Meribah literally means quarrelling in ancient Hebrew and the other place that water was taken form a rock after the people grumbled about no water was called Massah, which means testing.

Sadly Moses had to put up with a grumbling or quarrelling people when they were tested through the lack of water but this second time even Moses and Aaron failed the test by not following the clear instructions of the Lord and through what Psalm 106: 33 calls, “Rash words” used by Moses and Aaron as Moses struck the rock in frustration and rage.

This again shows a hero of Israel, with warts and all, he was a great man of God but he was still human and sadly he paid dearly for his mistake by not actually physically going into the Promised Land. Moses is given some consolation by the Lord because we read not long after this he is taken up into a mountain again by God and before he died he is given a mountain top view of the Promised Land.

What can we learn from this incident?

To me this incident tells me I must be very careful in what I say publically for the Lord and I must stick closely to God’s word as it is according to Paul in 2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17,

“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”.

If I fail to do this and I have in the past then I need God’s loving forgiveness which he gave so many times to the wilderness generation and which I know is now only possible through the work of the Lord Jesus in his death and resurrection for me as we read in Romans 5: 8 – 9,

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”. 

  1. (34 – 47)   REMEMBER REBLLION IN THE PROMISE LAND

1.  (34 – 43) Continuous rebellion in the Promise land

The Psalmist now gives what I call a thumb nosed sketch of the History of Israel from the entering the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua to his own time when Israel was in exile in the foreign land of Babylon and he does this in just 10 verses.

These ten verses can be broken down to these into three main key points:

  1. The disobedience of the nation to God’s clear instructions (vss. 34 – 36)
  2. The terrible sins of the nation in the Promised Land (vss. 37 – 39)
  3. God’s response of Judgment on the nation because on its sins (vss. 40 – 43)

Lets have a closer look at each of these three main key points:

  1. The disobedience of the nation to God’s clear instructions (vss. 34 – 36)

The big problem Israel never recovered from in its long history in the Old Testament was the compromises God’s people made with the old Canaanite inhabitations. The writer of Psalm 106 explains this problem well in verses 34 and 35 expresses this,

“They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord had commanded them, but they mingled with the Nations and adopted their customs”.

 The idea of God wanting people completely overrun and destroyed seems really jarring to our modern sensibilities.

However even a casual look at particularly ancient history will tell you that whether God seemed directly involved or not civilizations for centuries were overrun and destroyed in their thousands. The miracle of Israel is that even though it has always been a tiny nation it lasted through history as it has and in fact this can only be attributed to the guiding hand of God.

In the Old Testament God is not afraid to meet out judgment on a large group of people when they practice discussing, detestable sins like child sacrifice, worship involving sex and the general abuse and cruel inhumane treatment of people in general.

God’s leading of his people into the Land of Canaan had two objectives firstly to provide a homeland for his special people Israel and as a act of judgment on the Canaanites for their many great sins over countless generations. Even way back to Abraham’s time God says this to him in Genesis 15: 16,

“In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here (Canaan), for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure”.

 Now in the time of Joshua God is ready to both lead his people into the Promised Land and to judge the Canaanites for their many and great sins as God speaks of 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”.

 The time of the full measure of the many sins of these Canaanite nations had come just as the time for Israel’s occupation and control of this land had finally came but Israel failed to obey God’s expressed word as we have just read in Psalm 106: 34 – 35,

“They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord had commanded them, but they mingled with the Nations and adopted their customs”.

Compromise with the world around us has been and still is a great danger to even Christians today. I have been joining with a number of people in the past few years to make beautiful music but even in a period of around nine years I have felt the pressure to compromise my faith in Christ. I have left what seemed one successful group of musicians and singers because I did not like the ruthless tactics they used to eliminate some of the people certain leaders at that time did not like. I currently am assessing the new group I have joined but at the moment after making my Christian viewpoint clear on certain issues I am staying with them.

I have always, like most true believers struggled with how much should I get involved in Non – Christian activities. Over the years I have floated between the to extremes of total involvement with worldly activities to no involvement in anything other than church or Christian based activities. I have always found the sobering words of Jesus in John 17: 14 – 16 the best scripture advice on this,

“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it”.

 I love playing music with my non- Christian friends but I am always careful that this does not override my number one priority which is first to be a faithful witness to them and secondly that my involvement in church music and ministry is always my number one priority.

The key problem the writer of Psalm 106 picks up in this first key point of his peoples failure in the Promised land is found in the words of verse 35,

“They mingled with the nations and adapted their customs”.

 What this meant to the moral and spiritual state of the nation of Israel comes clear in the next key point.

  1. The terrible sins of the nation in the Promised Land (vss. 37 – 39)

So the Nation of Israel over many generations mingled with the nations in Canaan and adopted many of their customs and then we read what that led to in verses 37 – 39,

“They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to false gods.38 They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood. 39 They defiled themselves by what they did; by their deeds they prostituted themselves”.

As I sad earlier the idea of a nation coming under the judgment of God through war and destruction just doesn’t fit well with a modern reader. However let me take you to even recent history of only 70 years or so ago when we saw the destruction of Nazi Germany. Here we had a relatively recent example of God’s judgment falling terribly on a nation that through its evil godless leader, Adolf Hitler murdered thousands of innocent men, women and children just because they were of a different race or held to different religious or political views to them.

The story of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament tells of a people who at times did as bad or even worse things than the former Canaanites did before them. The writer of Psalm 106 picks on just one extreme example of grouse sins, namely the sacrifice of children in the name of worship to their God.

Listen to this summary of a former king of Judah called Manasseh in 2 Kings 21: 1 – 6,

“Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.

He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.” In the two courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger”.

This is just one king’s reign that features this kind of Godless, cruel and detestable actions of a king and his people. God went out of his way to warn the people and call them back to himself through many prophets but often not only were these brave men of God not listened to but they were killed or tortured because they spoke the word of God to the people of Israel.

What can we learn from this?

Simply that even today, as we saw in the case of Nazi Germany the evil and sinful side of humanity can dominate and if it does God’s judgment will fall on us.

Many might ask why doesn’t God clean up this world and judge it?

What people are really asking for here is the final judgment of God to come with the return of Jesus and Peter says this about that, 2 Peter 3: 8 – 10,

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare”.

Even before the final judgment, God still performs acts of localised judgments as we saw in the recent history case of Nazi Germany and in the case of communistic Russian that cruelly attempted to wipe faith in God off the face of the earth. They only found themselves destroyed and the Christian faith is flourishing again in Russia from the many reports I have read.

  1. God’s response of Judgment on the nation because on its sins (vss. 40 – 43

So as I have already alluded to God’s response to mans sinfulness is his judgment of those act of sins and particularly on his own special people who was given so much. We read now of the hand of God’s judgement now described in what I believe is our writers times in verses 40 – 43,

 “Therefore the Lord was angry with his people and abhorred his inheritance. 41 He gave them into the hands of the nations, and their foes ruled over them. 42 Their enemies oppressed them and subjected them to their power. 43 Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin”.

This is both a good summary of various times of God’s judgment falling on his people in Israel in the north by the invasion of the Assyrians and Judah in the south nearly 200 hundred years later under the two stage conquest of Judah in the south by the Babylonians.

God was angry, he was displeased with his peoples because of many continual acts of rebellion and sin and the people lost the land, here described as “his inheritance”. God’s way of judging them is described in these words in verse 41,

“He gave them into the hands of the nations, and their foes ruled over them”.

I believe the writer of Psalm 106 is speaking from his own bitter experience somewhere in exile in Babylon and his description of he and his people’s fate in exile is expressed so well in the last words of verse 41,

“And they wasted away in their sins”

Or he might say in their sins consequences.

Jim Carey’s little testimony that kicked off this Psalm expresses so well at the start of it what being wasted away in his sin meant for him with the words,

“I believe that suffering leads to salvation. In fact it’s the only way that we have to, somehow, accept, not deny, but feel our suffering and feel our loses”.

Sin and its consequences have many dark and painful repercussions for people living today, alcoholism, drug addiction and social and moral breakdowns. However we will see in the next four verses the God who judges is also the God who loves and tremendous hope can now be found in him.

  1. (44 – 47) God’s love hoped for in his salvation of his people from

                 Babylon.

If the Psalm finished as the end of verse 43 it would have been a real downer as our writer of Psalm 106 and his people lost in captivity in Babylon would have had no hope to look to.

However the first word in the next verse is one of those famous “but” verses because verse 44 says,

“But he took note of their distress when he heard their cry”.

Yes God judged Israel but he will also save Israel and maybe this Psalm was written in exile soon after the exiles received a famous letter from the great prophet Jeremiah which has these words of hope in it, Jeremiah 29: 10 – 14,

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[a] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

 I can imagine the writer of Psalm 106, in exile reading this letter and the words from it I just quoted and then seeing him writing down or even singing the next two verses,

“For their sake he remembered his covenant and out of his great love he relented. He caused them to be pitied for all who hold him captive”.

 Note how this is a beautiful Old Testament statement of the grace of God because it says that God saved them for their sake, and for the covenant sake, the binding agreement of God to Abraham and his descendants no matter how great their sins have been and finally it was out of God’s great love that he turned away from his anger or relented his acts of judgment on them who still hang on to him or as the writers says,

“hold him captive”

 Jim Carey put it this way in his little but powerful testimony,

“Suffering presents us with two options – resentment or forgiveness. While resentment is a self – destructive path – forgiveness leads to grace”.

 The grace of God expressed so well in Ephesians 2: 4 – 7,

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus”.

Jim Carey speaks of his life changing decision to believe in Christ as a passing through a gate he calls, “the gate of forgiveness”, he says,

“You made the decision to walk through the gate of forgiveness – to grace – just as Christ did on the cross”.

Carey was speaking to other former drug addicts and ex-cons who gathered at the opening of the Christian rehabilitation centre in Los Angels he was seeking to help open. These men and women knew what it was like to be captive to sin but they also knew what it was like to find God’s wonderful life transforming grace as well.

The writer then takes up Jeremiah’s advice in verses 12 – 14, that said,

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

For verse 47 is the writer of Psalm 106 prayer asking for God’s salvation from exile in Babylon,

“Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise”.

 Jim Carey spoke of his salvation in the terms of what Christ did for us on the cross, he said,

“Jesus suffered terribly and He was broken by it, to the point of doubt and a feeling of absolute abandonment, which all of you have felt. Then there was a decision to be made. And the decision was to look upon the people who were causing that suffering with compassion and with forgiveness, and that’s what opens the gates of heaven for all of us”.

 Psalm 106 verse 47 jumps back also to the famous Psalm of David in 1 Chronicles 16: 7 – 36, which this Psalm and particularly the previous Psalm borrowed from and verse 47 borrows from verse 35 of David’s Psalm which says,

“Cry out, ‘Save us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise”.

 The only change the writer of Psalm 106 makes from David’s original verse 35 of his Psalm is in the description of God,

“O God our Savior”, for David’s original Psalm and,

“O Lord our God”, for Psalm 106.

The title of God in the case of the Psalm 106 is that of the covenant God of the bible used probably as Spurgeon points out because this gave the Jews in captivity more confidence in their prayer as in verse 45 the return from exile was part of God’s honoring of his great covenant promises to Abraham and his descendants.

Why David prayed for deliverance for his people from the nations is not clear, maybe his own problems in the past when on the run from Saul and he had to flee from Israel to escape the wrath of king Saul or maybe for various reasons some Jews have always had to flee the Promise Land is in mind here. However for what reason David original chose to include it in his Psalm it would have served as a wonderful encouragement for prayer for those in Babylonian exile years later.

This then completes what I believe is Psalm 106 as verse 48 was added by the editors of Book four of Psalms as a conclusion to that book of Psalms and if it does I want to make one final point about verse 47 and that relates directly to my title for this Psalm which is,

REMEMBER GOD’S LOVE AND PRAISE HIM,

For the last words of verse 47 read,

“That we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise”.

 This long historical Psalm that speaks so clearly about the rebellion and sin of the people of Israel throughout their history has also pointed out that despite that terrible record of sin God has constantly not just responded with judgment but also with love. This theme of the underserved love of God for his people is what this Psalm writer wants to give thanks to God and glory in his praise for.

Remembering then who God is, what he is like and what he has done for us in the past and in the present should be also for us the true basis of great praise.

I close this section of the Psalm with two great verses on praising God by remembering what he has done for us in the past,

Isaiah 25: 1,

“O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago”.

 2 Corinthians 1: 3 – 4,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

  1. (vs. 48)   DOXOLOGY OF BOOK 4 OF PSALMS

 Most bible scalars agree that verse 48 is not part of the original composition of Psalm 106 but is a verse added by the editors of the fourth book of Psalms and all through my Psalm talks of this fourth book I have advocated that this fourth book of Psalms came together just after the return of exile in Babylon. This is because most of the Psalms seem to relate easily to this time period and even some of the older added Psalms the editors must have found would have spoken powerfully to God’s people of that time.

Also the evidence of the dead sea scrolls also points to both books four and five of Psalms coming together after the return from exile as Psalms in books one, two and three feature well in this ancient collection that existed up to three hundred years before the coming of Christ but Psalms in books four and five are only partially represented in the dead sea scroll collection pointing to the post exile period as the time these books of Psalms were completed by their respective editors.

I have taken the following quote from Wikipedia on the composition of the Psalms in the dead- sea scrolls,

“James Sanders proposed that this manuscript contained an arrangement created prior to the fixation of the Masoretic Psalter of 150 Psalms. He thought that the first half of the Masoretic Psalter, Psalm 1-89, had been finalized but that the second half, while still considered canonical at Qumran, was quite fluid”.

 So the editors added verse in Psalm 106 is a kind of doxology to the fourth book of Psalms and it says,

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, “Amen”! Praise the Lord”.

 Those final words “Praise the Lord” are the opening words of Psalm 106, namely the Hebrew word, “Halleluiah”

 I close this Psalm, Psalm 106 and the fourth book of Psalms then with an original poem that features this word, “Halleluiah” and what it means, “Praise the Lord”.

PRAISE THE GOD OF LOVE (based on Psalm 106)

 

Hallelujah!, Hallelujah

I thank you God above

Praise Him, praise him,

Praise the God of love.

Because your good and your love does last

For all eternity.

I’ll proclaim your mighty acts of love

And enjoy your liberty.

 

Remember me O Lord

As part of your family

I want go to heaven

To celebrate your love

And join the saints in glory

And praise your name above.

 

Hallelujah!, Hallelujah

I thank you God above

Praise Him, praise him

Praise the God of love.

Because you’ve called us to know you Lord

To inherit an eternal home

And so you bless us with your love

And you go were ever we roam.

 

And we like your people of old

Have sinned and failed you Lord

Like when you freed them from slavery

In Egypt long ago

They forgot you wonderful love

That clearly was on show.

 

Hallelujah!, Hallelujah

I thank you God above

Praise Him, praise him

Praise the God of love.

And when you act with powerful love

Great wonders we do see

But we do not deserve your love

But you just give it all so free.

 

Your people through the ages Lord

Forgot your Holy word.

Like the people who entered the promise land

They failed to trust you Lord

And we also turn to other Gods

And fail to obey your word.

 

Hallelujah!, Hallelujah

I thank you God above

Praise Him, praise him

Praise the God of love.

Save us Lord with your powerful love

Bring us to heaven above

So we can thank you and praise your name

As the mighty God of love.

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 We thank your Father in heaven for your amazing love which we know by remembering what you did long ago for us when you sent your son, Jesus Christ to this world to die for our sins on the cross. And now we can know your life changing love, which is a love that we don’t deserve and is a love that provides for us the gateway to a new life of love and forgiveness. Forgive us for our many failures to sin and help us to let your amazing love in Christ change us and

PSALM 105 TALK: REMEMBER GOD’S DEEDS AND PRAISE HIM

PSALM 105 TALK: REMEMBER GOD’S DEEDS AND PRAISE HIM

 (A Psalm that recalls the marvelous deeds of God in the past calling a people to be his special nation called Israel and how what God did for them in the past is to be remembered and that memory of God’s deeds in the past is to be the basis of great praise to him. Also how this relates to us as God’s family or special people who have come into being as his people by what God did for us in the past through his son, Jesus Christ.)

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

When I was only 16 years of age I left school and started work and very quickly fell into a world outside of school that did not believe in God and in fact mocked the whole idea of him. I soon gave going to church away and started hanging out with young men my own age who encouraged me to live a life of drinking, partying and generally living the sort of life I knew deep down God did not want me to live.

For three years I sought to turn away from God and at times I argued with some catholic friends the idea that Christianity and the bible was just a made up fairy tale. This means I have had the experience of thinking and arguing from an atheists point of view. However deep down inside I was not a happy person and I believe God’s spirit was convicting me of my sinful thinking and actions. I might have given up on God but he had not given up on me.

At 19 years of age I had a crisis in my life when I realised my so-called non- Christian friends let me down in a number of ways and through the encouragement of an older youth leader I went back to the church youth group and through people who led that group I came back to believing and following the Lord.

Then I was invited by our churches assistant minister to join a small group of young people to attend a bible study and a meal in that minister’s house before we all went together to the youth orientated night church we had at that time.

The assistant ministers who I will refer to by his first name, Charlie was a Godly man who had a deep understanding of the bible and he encouraged me to become a serious student of the word of God. Charlie was a very senor man and only worked in our church for a few years before he retired from the ministry. Even though Charlie was an older man he had a wonderful way with young people and he led us through some amazing bible studies.

Charlie’s bible studies were unusual in that they were always bible character studies he called “People in the Bible” and he always told us that the bible presents people with warts and all. Warts and all means that the bible did not hold back on the problems and even failures these people had in life and in their faith in God.

Charlie always pointed out how the bible rings true not like a fairy tale and if it was a fairytale then it would not have presented its so called hero’s with flaws and weaknesses like us. Charlie was really good at applying the truths these bible characters show us for how God wants us to live for him today.

Psalm 105 to me is like one of Charlie’s bible studies in the form of a poem we call a Psalm. It calls on its hearers and now readers to remember what God did through people in the past with great wonderful and often miraculous acts and in remembering this we are to give God great praise and thanks. As verse 5 of Psalm 105 says,

“Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced”.

 And as the opening verse of this Psalm says,

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done”.

 Psalm 105 seems to have started life with its first 15 verses as a Psalm of David in 1 Chronicles 16: 8 – 22, a Psalm David composed when the Ark of the Covenant was installed on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. We find Psalm 105 in the fourth book of Psalms, which we know was put together around the time of the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon around 539BC when king Cyrus of Persian conquered the Babylonians and allowed the captive Jews in Babylon to return to their homeland in what was later known as Palestine.

It would seem likely then that some unknown author took 15 verses from David’s Psalm in 1 Chronicles and composed a new Psalm of 45 verses based on David’s original composition. Interestingly Psalm 96, which is also in book four of Psalms uses the 10 verses of David’s Psalm in 1 Chronicles 16 that follow the first 15 verses of that Psalm to compose a new Psalm of 13 verses.

It is interesting to speculate what David’s original Psalm, written around 500 years before the time of the Jewish return from exile would have meant to the people of that time. They were a people who had virtually lost their nation and were in danger of loosing their national identity bound up in their special relationship with their God who we know as the God of the bible.

David’s words would have reminded them of how their God was the great King above all kings as he was the one true God greater than any other supposed God. This God had chosen them as a nation and for nearly 2,000 years had guided and protected them from the nations birth in the time of Abraham to exile in Babylon and now a miraculous return from that exile in Babylon.

Both Psalm 105 and the next Psalm, Psalm 106 recounts some of this history as a source of inspiration to trust in their great God and to show that faith in him in with wonderful praise and thanks. Psalm 105 features the great hero’s of faith who God used to lead and guide his people while Psalm 106 features the love of God in that he still continued to love this people even though they continued to be unfaithful to the God who loved them.

This unmerited love, which the New Testament calls grace, is to be the grounds for great praise according to Psalm 106.

So I aim to write a Charlie type bible study or talk on Psalm 105, which is a study that features the great bible characters it mentions as a inspiration for us today to trust in the same God that they trusted in and through what God did for them and has done for us through The Lord Jesus Christ seek to obey his word and praise him as the last verse of Psalm 105 says,

“That they (we) might keep his precepts and observe his law. Praise the Lord”

 With the theme of remembering what God has done in the past, especially through some of the great hero’s of the bible that will help us in the present and will lead to praise and faith in him my outline for this Psalm is:

  1. (1 – 7) REMEMBER AND PRAISE

 

  1. (1 – 3)   Praise God as you remember his deeds in the past
  2. (4 – 7)   Remember God chose us

 

  1. (8 – 15) REMEMBER ABRAHAM AND GOD’S COVENANT

 

  1. (8 – 11)   Remember God’s covenant with Abraham
  2. (12 – 15) Remember how God protected the patriarchs

 

  1. (16 – 25) REMEMBER JOSEPH AND HOW GOD GUIDED HIM

 

  1. (16 – 22) Remember how God guided Joseph through difficulty
  2. (23 – 25) Remember how God blessed Israel in Egypt

 

  1. (26 – 44) REMEMBER HOW GOD USED MOSES AND AARON TO

                          SAVE ISRAEL OUT OF SLAVERY

  1. (26 – 36) Remember how God performed miraculous signs through

               Moses and Aaron

  1. (37 – 44) Remember how God led his people from Egypt to the

               Promise Land.

    

  1. (vs. 45) REMEMBER TO OBEY GOD’S WORD AND PRAISE HIM

 

1.  (1 – 7   REMEMBER AND PRAISE

  1. (1 – 3)   Praise God as you remember his deeds in the past

 This Psalm and indeed the next Psalm, Psalm 106 have a very obvious plan for praise and that is we are to look back in God’s word and read and remember how he worked in the past with individual people and particularly with his people Israel and use this as a source of praise to God.

Some might ask well how does events that took place, in some cases like Abraham, 4,000 years ago have any bearing on our lives today?

Yes I will agree how people lived and even thought in many ways 4,000 years ago is very different than how we live and think today but two things have always stayed the same and they are:

  1. People who lived even 4,000 years ago are human beings who are sinners just like us. Charlie my old faithful bible teacher always pointed out to me and the other young people in our bible study how the bible characters were different than us and in many other ways the same as us.

2. The second reason why remembering and learning from how God dealt with people in the past is   the fact that the God who helped and spoke to those people in the past is the same God who speaks and helps us today.

When God revealed himself to a person in a new generation in Israel’s history he often introduced himself like he did to Moses at the burning bush in the desert when he called Moses to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt as recorded in Exodus 3: 6,

Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God”.

So it is the same God right throughout the bible and he never changes as James makes it clear in James 1: 17,

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows”.

So what people are like and need in their lives in any age and time particularly spiritually is provided by a God who stays the same yesterday, today and forever so as Charlie would have put it we can learn from the people in the bible how we can be helped by God today.

Both Psalm 105 and 106 start and end with a call to praise; Psalm 105 has three ways of putting this call to praise over three verses.

Verse 1, says,

“Give thanks to the Lord”

verse 2, says,

“Sing to him, sing praise to him”

and verse 3 says,

“Glory in his holy name”

All of these three calls to praise are to be anchored in remembering the great deeds of God for us in the past,

Verse 1, says,

“Make known among the nations what he has done”

verse 2 says,

“Tell of all his wonderful acts”

and verse 3 says,

“Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice”

This last reason for praise is built on remembering what the first two reasons for praise centre on, namely the great deeds or wonderful acts of God in the past.

What God did in the past should cause us to seek this great God of the bible who has made himself known in the past and wants to help us in the present.

The writer to the Hebrews brings these great deeds or acts of God up to date for us with the opening words of his letter, Hebrews 1: 1 – 3,

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”.

Atheists might argue today that we have no proof that God spoke to people in the past but this final speaking to us, through The Lord Jesus Christ was witnessed by hundreds of people especially when he proved he was God in the flesh by rising from the dead after winning our salvation on the cross.

As the apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15: 3 – 8,

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born”.

Some atheists in the past have tried to disprove the truth of the Christian faith by seeking to destroy what they see as the ridiculous claim that Jesus rose from the dead but like men like Frank Morrison who looked at the evidence came to say that the evidence in fact points to the resurrection being true. Frank Morrison, like many others who tried to disprove the truth of the resurrection of Christ became a believer and follower of Jesus Christ and wrote a powerful book about the evidence for the resurrection called, “Who moved the stone”.

So verse 3 says,

“Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice”

Verse 1 also puts this idea another way with the words,

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name”

The name of God is the character of God and God’s character is so vast and wonderful the bible has many names for him. Moses asked God for his name at the burning bush and God gave him this amazing answer in Exodus 3: 14,

“God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

This might seem a strange name but it is power packed with wonderful teaching, as God and later Jesus claimed to be the great, “I am”, the one and only eternal God who has always existed and will always exist.

When people ask, “Who made God”?

The answer is no – one because he has always existed and from him all things have come in to existence.

As John writes of Jesus in the opening of his Gospel where Jesus is called “The Word”, John 1: 1 -3,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made”.

The “I am” God is also, “The One and only God” and Moses later was given by this God the Ten Commandments which start with the words, Deuteronomy 5: 6 – 7,

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me”.

No other God’s because he is the “I am” God the one and only God of heaven and earth and because of what he has done for us in the past we should praise him.

  1. (4 – 7)   Remember God chose us

 So the opening three verses call us to praise the God of the bible who the writer speaks of as the God of deeds and wonderful acts in the past and because of these deeds and acts we should want to praise him. He speaks of God’s character by calling us to glory in his name and he now speaks directly of an aspect of his character in verse 4, namely his strength to those he chooses to call to himself,

“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always”

 This verse contains two important concepts:

  1. God’s Strength
  2. God’s Face

Let me explain what I know about these two concepts.

  1. God’s Strength

David relied on the strength of God and often referred to it like Psalm 62 verse 11,

“One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard; that you, O God, are strong”.

 David was forced to rely on the strength of God owing to the many powerful enemies he faced and in Psalm 18 verse 1 he calls God his strength,

“I love you, O Lord, my strength”

 In that Psalm, as in many Psalms he goes on to speak of God as his rock which he relied upon in many unsettling circumstances, Psalm 18: 2,

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”.

So for David to say in the original poem or Psalm in 1 Chronicles 16: 11, to look to the Lord “my strength” was something David knew first hand and not simply as a theological theory as did the apostle Paul as he writes in 1 Corinthians 12: 10,

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong”.

 Charlie my bible study leader when I was young always encouraged us to trust in the great strong God of the bible like the great characters of the bible did especially when we feel weak and vulnerable and he spoke from real life experience himself as his wife had developed some form of mental illness which she would not recognise and had left him and joined a weird Christian cult. Charlie lost his right to be a minister in charge of a church owing to his wife’s actions and it was only the sympathetic loving attitude of our main minister that let Charlie minister at our church as the second in charge minister for a number of years before Charlie retired from the full-time ministry.

God’s strength will be revealed in various ways in the rest of this Psalm and I will comment on these when this occurs.

  1. God’s Face

What does it mean to seek the face of God?

I sought an answer to this question on the internet and came across a very helpful article by a Christian minister named Marcio Sierra Jr. who is the chief pastor of The Lighthouse Church in Madison, Wisconsin USA, Marcio answers the question this way,

“When we look at a person’s face, we are looking at a lot more than just a face. Just by looking at a person’s face you can tell if the person is angry, happy, sad, tired, worried, hurt, excited, in love, sick, and the list continues. The face of a person reveals a lot about that person. The face of a person is like an open window that allows us to see inside of that person; their thoughts, their pain, their joy, their heart.  This is what God showed me; to seek His face is to enter into God’s heart. When God asks us to seek His face, He is making a call for us to enter into His thoughts and see what He is thinking, to see what He is doing, how he feels about something, to see the love that He has for us, to look at the pain that our sin causes Him, etc.”

 Charlie the leader of the bible study I attended when I was young taught me that we can only learn what God’s thoughts are from his word, the bible and this is why we all must read and study God’s word if we want to seek God’s face and therefore know his thoughts.

 Two scripture references back this up and flesh this out, the first is from the Old Testament, Numbers 6: 22 – 26,

“The Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you

and give you peace.”’

 And one from the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 4: 6,

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ”.

I reminded you earlier that at the start of John’s Gospel John calls Jesus the very word of God so when we look at what Jesus was like, did and said we are looking at what God is like and therefore we are looking at the face of God.

Moses discovered that the literal face of God cannot be looked at in this life as God is pure light and so Moses had to hide his face as God passed by but when Moses came down from the mountain something of that brilliant light of God, his glory was on Moses face and he had to veil his face after he met with God to speak to him and receive his word.

However as Paul indicated in the 2 Corinthian 4: 6 verse,

“God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ”.

The writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 2: 9,

“But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”.

Charlie in his bible studies I attended as a young man always pointed us to Jesus in all of the character studies we did and of course it is through Jesus that we can come to God owing to his death and resurrection for us as the writer to the Hebrews is speaking of in the words,

“Crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”.

Then David in his original Psalm in 1 Chronicles 16 adapted by a later Psalm writer lays down the core of this inspiration for praising God in the words of verse 5,

“Remember the wonders he has done his miracles and the judgment he pronounced”

When we remember what God had dome in the past we see yet again that he is strong and powerful and can do miraculous things to help and save us. However we also see that the God of the bible is a God who judges sin and from that we should be warned to be careful in how we live and treat others.

Psalm 106 will reveal to us that God’s people Israel often failed to truly love and follow God and in fact they often grumbled and complained and even turned away from God yet God continued to love them even though at times he had to discipline them with judgement for their wilful disobedience.

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that even that disciplining of his people is an act of love as we read in Hebrews 12: 5 – 6,

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you

as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

I mentioned in my introduction that for three years I sought to rebel against God by turning my back on him and his church and I can tell you that during those three years deep down inside me I was not a very happy person. I seemed to be having a fun time with my friends but really I was pretty miserable and God made sure that those three years were not very successful for me and as I said even my so called new non-Christian friends really did not care or love me and when I had a major crisis and disappointment with them I started to realise what I had walked away from was my loving friends at my local church who knew God in their lives.

I still feel deeply for any back slidding Christians I come across today and I long for them to stop their rebellion to the Lord and turn back to him like I did when I was 19 years of age. Let me tell you the coming back was painful in itself but it was a pain that was well worth going through.

Then we come to two verses that speak of our special relationship with God as his chosen people. This is expressed by David in his original Psalm in 1 Chronicles 16 verse 13 and later adapted by the writer of Psalm 105 in two ways.

First in verse 6,

“O descendants of Abraham his servant, O sons of Jacob his chosen ones”.

 We can look at what this verse is teaching us on two levels.

The first is on the literal level as David and the original writer of Psalm 105 would have had in mind and that is that the nation of Israel through the covenant made with Abraham its great original ancestor are God’s special chosen people. I will have more to say about this in the next section of the Psalm talk when we look at Abraham and the covenant God made with him.

Secondly on the level of how the New Testament calls all people who have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as children by faith of Abraham as Paul states in Galatians

“So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[

 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith”.

What Paul is alluding to here is the new covenant which is a fulfilment of the Old Covenant through the death and resurrection of Christ which I will also discuss further in the next section of my Psalm talk.

However all I will say about this reference to God’s chosen ones here in verse 6 is that the bible makes it clear that we don’t choose God because of our sins, so God has chosen us and this a teaching right through the bible and here in Psalm 105 as Paul makes it clear in Romans 8: 29 – 30,

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified”.

Israel did not come into being by a nation suddenly deciding one day that they would be God’s special nation called Israel. No Israel as a nation only existed because God called its patriarch Abraham to go from Ur of the Chaldeans to a place God would lead him to and from him a new nation developed over many centuries that became the nation of Israel God’s chosen ones.

This teaching as I have said is fleshed out in the next part of the Psalm and indeed becomes the main idea of the source of the wonderful acts of God David and the writer of Psalm 105 wants us to remember. As Stephen J. Cole puts it,

“The bulk of the psalm (vv. 8 – 44) traces God’s sovereign hand in choosing Israel as His people, protecting them when they were vulnerable and weak, delivering them through the miraculous events of the Exodus, preserving them in the wilderness, and bringing them into the Promised Land. The clear emphasis of these verses is that God did it all”.

Then in verse 7 we have another reminder of the special chosen nature of the nation of Israel,

“He is the Lord our God; his judgements are in all the earth”.

This verse is very interesting because it tells its readers or hearers that yes God is their God and they are therefore as the previous verse declares God’s chosen ones but note the verse also says that,

“His judgements are in all the earth”.

 God told Israel through Moses that they were God’s chosen people for a reason and that reason is stated clearly in Exodus 19: 5 – 6,

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

 The way a lot of the people of Israel all through history, people we call the Jews today act is they heard the first part of what God said about being God’s “treasured possession” but failed to hear or respond to the second part of being a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation”.

 Being a kingdom of priest’s means that they were the nation God called to take his message to the world as verse 7 of Psalm 105 declares,

“His judgements are in all the earth”.

Even though Israel often failed to do this God still worked through them to take his judgements to the earth particularly by sending his son into the world by being born a Jew who through his followers after he died for our sins on the cross, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven now themselves become the world-wide kingdom of priests who proclaim God’s message to the world as Peter teaches in 1 Peter 2: 9,

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

We need to not fall into the trap the people of Israel often fell into of thinking of ourselves as an exclusive special people of God but who fail to take the message of God through Christ to the world. Charlie encouraged all of the people in his bible study for young people to always look for ways of serving God and four years after joining his bible study group after coming back from falling away from the Lord I decided to go into full-time ministry training at The Sydney Missionary and Bible College.

I only had the privilege of being in Charlies bible study group for two years because Charlie moved on to retirement but the next assistant minister and his faithful wife continued to disciple me and this minister had been a former bible college lecturer and his wife one of his students and therefore I got plenty of encouragement and practical help to go to Bible College myself.

  1. (8 – 15) REMEMBER ABRAHAM AND GOD’S COVENANT
  1. (8 – 11)   Remember God’s covenant with Abraham

So, as Stephen J. Cole indicated after reminding his readers and hearers of Palm 105 that they were God’s special chosen people and the Lord was their God he now sets down a lengthy account of how God did this for the rest of the Psalm up to the last verse, verse 45 which is a conclusion to the whole Psalm.

The writer, who we believe is David up to verse 15 and then is a Psalmist probably at the time of the return from Babylon exile starts this story of the Nation of Israel and how God called and formed them with its founding father Abraham.

In verse 8 and 9 he starts with a summary of the covenant or divine agreement God made with Abraham,

“He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore with Isaac”.

The idea that God’s remembers his covenant is not suggesting that God forgot the promises he made to Abraham but rather as Albert Barnes puts it,

“God has it constantly in remembrance”

God is not like human beings who forget and even deceive or lie as Numbers 23: 19 says,

“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil?”

No God made a solemn agreement with Abraham expressed clearly in Genesis 12: 1 – 3,

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all Peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Later God makes it even clearer that it is a nation of believers he wants to bless Abraham with, Genesis 22: 17 – 18,

“I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

The Nation of Israel even in its hey day would not fulfil the description here but if you include in this prediction The New Israel of God (Galatians 6: 16) which Paul speaks of even more clearly in Galatians 3: 26 – 29, which is the church of Jesus Christ world wide and now being existence for over 2000 years than the descendants would number like the stars in the sky on a clear night.

Galatians 3: 26 – 29 speaks of this New Israel or new family of God being made up of Jew and Gentile, slave and free male and female and finally through Christ the seed or descendants of Abraham,

 “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”.

This idea of the seed of Abraham being all people of faith in God from every nation through God’s Son Jesus Christ also fulfils the words of Psalm 105: 6 that say,

“He (God) remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded for a thousand generations”.

A thousand generations is not meaning God is counting down a thousand generations but this is a poetic description of an enormous number of generations. In Revelation 14 another poetic or symbolic number appears, that has been grossly miss-understood over the years when it has be interpreted as a literal number. I am speaking of the number 144,000, which is, I believe God’s complete number of all generations who will be with him in heaven. The number 144,000 is made up of 12,000 from each of the 12th tribes of Israel.

With this interpretation in mind let me quote Revelation 14: 1 – 3,

“Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth”.

Finally verse 9 ends with the words,

“The oath he swore to Isaac”

This means that the covenant God made with Abraham was passed on to the next generation represented by his son Isaac and this oath was literally recorded for us in Genesis 26: 2 – 3,

“The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham”.

This Abraham covenant promise of God is then spoken of passing from Isaac to Jacob his son in verse 10,

“He confirmed it to Jacob a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant”.

Which we read of happening in Genesis 28: 13 and Genesis 35: 12 and in Genesis 35 we read of how God planned to fulfil this promise through Jacob, Genesis 35: 10 – 13,

“God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel!]” So he named him Israel.

 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty”]; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” 13 Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him”.

This promise even in Isaac and Jacob’s time was the land they were wandering about as aliens which was called Canaan. Four hundred years later Canaan would be The Promised Land re-named Israel after Jacobs new name conquered under the leadership of Joshua.

This then is confirmed as the outcome of God’s covenant promise fulfilled in Psalm 105 verse 11,

“To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit”.

Some might ask why didn’t God just give Jacob and his growing family Canaan straight away and not wait 400 years to fulfil this?

The answer is simple Jacob and his family was no more than a couple of dozen people and it took 400 years for this family to grow into at least a small nation able to occupy a land of their own.

Also God had many more people to come who he could speak through as we will see in the rest of the Psalm and as Charlie my bible study leader when I was in my late teens early twenties often told us God spoke through people just like us warts and all so that we could learn how he wants us to relate to him in faith and obedience.

  1. (12 – 15) Remember how God protected the patriarchs

 Before the David and the writer of Psalm 105 wants his readers and hearers to remember some issues to raise about God’s wonderful deeds and acts in the care and protection of the small family groups of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in verse 12 – 15.

He speaks first of all about how vulnerable and fragile they would have been in an often hostile foreign land with no form of ownership or rites to any part of the land of Canaan. This idea is expressed in verses 12 and 13,

“When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it,13 they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another”.

This was particular dangerous time for what would have been a small group of people and yet God protected them time and time again. Abraham got into trouble with two different powerful kings which I will speak of in the next verse and Abraham nearly lost his brother lot when Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed and God had to send an Angel to warn them both of this coming disaster.

Isaac had to have a vision to warn him not to go down to Egypt during a famine in the Land of Canaan and Isaac suffered from the same trouble as his father passing his attractive wife off as his sister before the Philistine king of that time known as Abimelech. Abimelech sees Isaac caressing his wife Rebecca and realises that Rebecca is his wife but instead of becoming angry with Isaac over his deception he orders that no man is to molest Isaac or his wife (Genesis 26: 11).

Jacob has lots of problems living as a stranger and wanderer in the land of Canaan and a lot of his trouble is caused by his often arrogant and deceitful ways and he even ends up in conflict with his twin brother Esau who he steals his birthright from him with deception.

Jacob in later life has an encounter with God and after wrestling with an Angel from God is subdued by some kind of hip injury the Angel gives Jacob and from that time on Jacob seems to become a changed man and God gives him a new exalted name, Israel which could literally mean “one who has struggled with God and has prevailed”.

So verses 12 and 13 of Psalm 105 certainly are a good summary of those early years of Israel’s history.

Then we read in verses 14 and 15 how God specifically helped the Patriarchs and their families during their many years of wandering about the land of Canaan,

“He allowed no one to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: 15 “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.”

 As I said it was a senor minister I am calling Charlie who first introduced me to the concept that the bible presents it’s so called hero’s of faith with warts and all, an expression that means the bible presents the people it speaks about with their failings as well as their successes or good points. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, men we call the Patriarchs are good examples of Charlie’s warts and all theory.

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all got themselves into trouble with powerful men in Canaan and Egypt in their day that could have easily ended their lives and caused an end to their families and to the ability for God to fulfil the many promises of his covenant particularly to make out of them a great nation.

Abraham twice tried to pass off his wife as his sister to two different powerful kings and both times God has to intervene to save the life of Abraham and his family because of his sinful deception. The first instance of this is in Genesis 12: 10 – 20 when he is in Egypt owing to a famine in the Canaan.

The second time he falls to this, not having learnt his lesson the first time is in Genesis 20, where he has the same trouble with a Canaanite king named Abimelech.

The final words of verse 15,

“Do my prophets no harm”

 Could easily be applied to this second incident of Abraham trying to pass off his wife as his sister to the Canaanite king named Abimelech in something God told Abimelech in a dream recorded in Genesis 20: 7a,

“Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet”

Then we find Isaac falling to the same problem with his wife, Rebecca with a king with the same name Abimelech (probably son or grandson of the king Abraham dealt with) who is described this time as the king of the Philistines recorded in Genesis 26: 1 – 19. In Isaacs’s case he not only escapes death at the hands of Abimelech for his deception but is blessed by the king and is able to settle safely in his kingdom as we read in Genesis 26: 17 – 18,

“So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them”.

Finally as I said earlier Jacob had all sorts of life threatening experiences with his twin brother Esau and his father in law Laban’s sons and then even Laban himself who wanted to kill him because of the wealth Jacob had gained while living with Laban as they believed this wealth came at their expense. Jacob has to return to where his family live and therefore was again in danger of being killed by his twin brother Esau there. However God answered Jacob’s prayer and when he meets his bother he finds that his hatred towards him had passed and he greeted Jacob with tears and loving acceptance.

In all this we see the hand of God protecting and leading this fragile family during the time of the Patriarchs which again is spelt out in the words of verses 14 and 15 of Psalm 105,

“He allowed no one to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: 15 “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.”

The way that God even worked through the failures and human weakness of these men who in many ways are no different from us is a testimony to the words of Paul in Romans 8: 28,

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.

I remember first time I really learnt the truth of these words in the bible studies I attended as a young man for two years under the leadership of the wise old assistant minister I am referring to as Charlie. This teaching was very important to me then as I had just come back from falling away from following the Lord and to realise that my salvation was centred in what God had done for me and not on how I had always trusted in God.

Therefore no matter how sinful I was God still loved me and was now even blessing me as he did like men like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the bible.

This was crucial teaching for me to learn that helped me really come back to serving the Lord and two years after those bible studies with Charlie I was preparing for full time ministry in Bible College.

  1. (16 – 25) REMEMBER JOSEPH AND HOW GOD GUIDED HIM

1.  (16 – 22) Remember how God guided Joseph through difficulty

The writer of Psalm 105 then stops his use of David’s original older Psalm in 1 Chronicles 16 and moves on to ask his readers and hearers to continue to remember how God led Israel to fulfil his covenant with Abraham.

Jacob’s second youngest son, Joseph who has an amazing story of the providential guidance of God, represents the first generation after the three Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Joseph story is taken up in a briefer poetic style telling in verses 16 – 22.

Psalm 105 telling of Joseph has, as I see it in these verses four parts:

  1. God creates a famine (vs. 16)
  2. God prepares a saviour through slavery (vv. 17 – 19)
  3. God raises this slave to be a ruler (vv. 20 – 21)
  4. God uses his ruler to teach and help others (vs. 22)

 So let’s have a closer look at this amazing story and as the Psalmist would like us to do remember and ponder the wonderful acts or deeds of God.

  1. God creates a famine (vs. 16)

The Genesis account of Joseph guidance of God does not have any mention of God creating a famine but verse 16 says,

“He called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food”.

 Albert Barnes says this about this God designed famine,

“It was, not by chance, not by mere operation of physical laws, but it was because God, ordered it”.

 The famine did not come unto years after Joseph sinful jealous brothers sold him in to slavery in Egypt but this shows God knew what he was going to do, which was call down on the land a famine in years after Joseph seemed lost into slavery in Egypt and through the terrible turn of events for Joseph have him perfectly placed to save his people from death by starvation.

Through the famine God would force Jacob’s growing family into Egypt where over 400 years they could grow into a nation big enough to inherit and inhabit the Promised Land of Canaan the very land they had to flee as strangers and aliens before the famine had come upon them by the hand of God.

All this reminds me of the famous hymn of William Cowper, “God moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform”, which goes like this,

  1. God moves in a mysterious way
    His wonders to perform;
    He plants His footsteps in the sea
    And rides upon the storm.

 

2. Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

 

3. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

 

4.Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

 

5. His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

 

6. Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

  1. God prepares a saviour through slavery (vv. 17 – 18)

We are then told, in a kind of flash back how God prepared a saviour for his people when they faced death through starvation from the famine God brought upon the land of Canaan.

The saviour is named in verse 17 and the means of his placement in Egypt is also stated,

“And he sent a man before them – Joseph, sold as a slave”.

 Joseph is the victim of family in – fighting caused by jealousy encouraged by Joseph lack of tact about how God blessed him more than his brothers and Joseph acted, in my view a bit like a spoilt child insensitive to his brother’s thoughts and feelings. This of course is no excuse for Joseph brothers wanting to kill him and then through the intervention of another brother Reuben the plot to kill change the brothers minds to selling him as a slave to some passing Ishmaelite slave traders.

Verse 18, expresses the terrible plight of what being sold as a slave might be like,

“They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons”.

 The Genesis account has no mention of the shackling of Joseph but people of the time of the return from Babylonian exile would have been familiar with this kind of cruel treatment of slaves as it was apparently how slaves were treated in their day.

Joseph had got into the mess he was in because he told his brothers and even his father the dream God gave him that implied that one day he, Joseph would rule over his brothers. This seemed to be the last straw with Joseph brothers and their actions actually led to the actual dream prediction being fulfilled as the next verse in Psalm 105 implies, verse 19,

“Till what was foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved true”.

 Yes Joseph was sold into slavery but in Egypt he ends up being bought by an influential Egyptian official of the Pharaoh’s court named Potiphar and Joseph quickly rose to a privileged position in this mans house. However what seems like another tragic turn of events sees Joseph thrown into prison, which comes about because Joseph refuses to have an affair with Potiphar’s wife and she after being rejected by Joseph had him accused of attempted rape.

However even in prison God blessed Joseph and he quickly rises to a privileged position and while there he helps a cupbearer of Pharaoh interpret his dream of immanent release correctly and this turns out to be God’s guidance again to get Joseph out of prison.

  1. God raises this slave to be s ruler (vv. 20 – 21)

The cup-bearer initially forgets the favour Joseph did for him unto Pharaoh has some troubling dreams himself which non of his so-called wise men can interpret and the cupbearer remembers poor Joseph. Psalm 20 – 21 speaks of what then happens,

“The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free”.

 Joseph is sent for by Pharaoh and interprets his dreams correctly, which foretell of the coming famine in Egypt and even as far as Canaan and Joseph ends up freed from prison. Then a remarkable turn of events takes place, expressed poetically by verse 21,

“He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed>”

 Albert Barnes explains the significance of this verse with these words,

“This implied that the administration of the affairs of the nation was virtually committed to him”. 

  1. God uses his ruler to teach and help others (vs. 22)

 So from being sold into slavery to end up in prison God uses all these terrible turn of events to be his means of raising Joseph to an exalted position in Egypt at a vital time to help them and his own people with wisdom only God could give them as verse 22 implies,

“To instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom”.

 Joseph becomes a kind of Governor under Pharaoh to administer the country during the years of good harvests and famine.

All through this amazing story of Joseph is the obvious hand of God in his life expressed so well by Pharaoh himself in Genesis 41: 38,

“So Pharaoh asked them, ‘Can we find anyone like this man (Joseph), in whom is the spirit of God”.

 People might deny the existence of our God but they cannot deny that we, as believers in that God are blessed by something they seem to lack and I believe this can be a powerful tool in our presentation of the Gospel message as Peter advises us with the words of 2 Peter 3: 15 – 16,

“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”.

The story of how God guided Joseph also reminds me of the famous verse Romans 8: 18, which I quoted earlier which says,

“And we know that in all things God works for good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.

Joseph was called according to God’s purpose and so through slavery, false charges and imprisonment God guided Joseph to be a Governor in Egypt to save Egypt and his family from starvation and as we will see in the second part of this third section of the Psalm bring his extended family into Egypt to become a great nation.

  1. (23 – 25) Remember how God blessed Israel in Egypt

 So through Joseph God’s fragile blessed family, which was the out working of his covenant or agreement with Abraham was saved yet again, this time from starvation. This famine that verse 16 was from the direct hand of God also was used for another great purpose in God’s plan and that was to bring Jacob and his growing family into Egypt as verse 23,

“Then Israel entered Egypt; Jacob lived as an alien in the land of ham”.

 Jacob and his family had been alien’s in Canaan before the famine but now verse 23 says they were now aliens in the land of Ham which is a common bible name for Egypt. Leupold explains the use if the title “land of Ham” this way,

“”The land of Ham indicates that the ancestry of Egypt was well known to the Israelites”, (see Genesis 10: 6 – Cush is the people in north Africa in the region of the upper Nile)

The reason for this change of land for Jacob and his family is poetically explained in verse 24,

“The Lord made his people very fruitful; he made them too numerous for their foes”.

 So over a total period of 400 hundred years The Lord blessed Jacobs family and they grew into a nation of people within a nation and this is always a recipe for conflict.

However God knew that Jacobs family could not have developed so quickly and so well in Canaan so he led them through the famine and the rise of Joseph to Egypt where they could grow into a small nation.

As I said nations within nations is a recipe for conflict and this is spoken of in the second half of verse 24 and verse 25,

“He made them too numerous for their foes, whose hearts he turned to hate his people, to conspire against his servants”.

 So the scene is set for the greatest historical story the Jews remember namely the Exodus from Egypt for the hate and fear the Egyptians had for the Israelites lead them to seek to ruthlessly suppress them by turning them into a nation of slaves.

What is being set up here is not just salvation for God’s people out of Egypt but also God’s judgment on Egypt for their cruel and unjust treatment of God’s people, the Israelites the direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I have always had a pet hate for racial prejudice and I see it as another way sin is seen in our world. So often I have seen that racial prejudice is a result or ignorance and false fears of a group of people different than they see themselves. I have always attempted to try to understand people different from myself by seeking to try to stand in their shoes or see the world the way they see it and this has helped me to stop falling into ignorance and racial prejudice thoughts and actions.

  1. (26 – 44) REMEMBER HOW GOD USED MOSES AND AARON TO

                           SAVE ISRAEL OUT OF SLAVERY

  1. (26 – 36) Remember how God performed miraculous signs through

               Moses and Aaron

 The one great act of God that the Old Testament constantly remembers is his act of salvation in the Exodus of his people out of Egypt. It has been said that the word Egypt appears over 700 times in the Old and New Testament and Doug Ward makes this amazing observation of the first five books of the bible and particularly the Exodus story with these words,

“The five books of Moses-Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy-are of critical importance for understanding the rest of the Bible. Themes that begin in these books are expanded and developed throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. In particular, motifs from the exodus account, their central story, appear again and again in the psalms, prophets, gospels and epistles”.

 So it’s not strange that our writer of Psalm 105 spends 19 verses on reminding his readers and hearers of God’s deliverance of Israel out of slavery in Egypt to occupation of the promised land of Canaan.

Our writer speaks of the actual Exodus itself in verses 26 – 36 and I have broken this story of God’s great act of salvation of his people into two parts:

  1. (vv. 26 – 27) The sending of Moses and Aaron to Egypt.
  2. (vv. 28_ 36) God’s miraculous signs in Egypt.

Lets then have a closer look at these two parts:

  1. (vv. 26- 27) The sending of Moses and Aaron to Egypt.

The account of the Exodus story the writer of Psalm 105 wants his readers and hearers to remember is the calling and sending of two senior men, Moses and his younger brother Aaron that he poetically describes this way in verses 26 – 27,

“He sent Moses his servant, and Aaron, whom he had chosen. 27 They performed his signs among them, his wonders in the land of Ham”.

This calling of Moses to go or be sent by God to Egypt, again described poetically by the writer of Psalm 105 as the Land of Ham is recorded for us in Exodus chapter 3. It takes place according to this chapter far off from Egypt in a desert area east from Egypt called Midian, which was located in the Northwest Arabian Peninsula.

I recently heard an Atheist making fun the story of Moses calling saying it was from a burning bush that did not burn up way out in the desert where their was no witnesses, “no witnesses”, he jested, how convenient”. Well there are a lot more miraculous events to take place than a bush that does not burn up to come when Moses and Aaron answer the call and perform great signs and wonders in Egypt and there were thousands of witnesses to them.

Moses is not a young man and either is his brother Aaron but Moses particularly had an incredible life story that prepared him in a wonderful way to be God’s perfect servant and leader of his people out of Egypt.

Moses was brought up and educated in the Egyptian Pharaohs court, which meant he knew their language, customs, history and for the sake of the written record of the bible he learnt ways of writing but we simply don’t know what ancient script Moses actually used some bible scholars say it was what is called Paleo-Hebrew, or a closely related derivative, generally considered to be an offshoot of ancient Phonecian script. However copies of the bible in this Ancient Hebrew script have been lost as a more modern form of Hebrew script was fully adopted scholars say by the sixth of seventh century.

Moses had to flee Egypt as a relatively young man and spent up to forty years in the desert area of Midian keeping sheep. He probably kept up his reading and writing skills and certainly learnt a lot about living and travelling in a desert area’s which meant God had prepared him to lead his people for the last forty years of his life in the desert area’s between Egypt and Canaan before God allowed the people of Israel to occupy the Promised Land.

Moses was a reluctant leader and he offers God at the burning bush many excuses why he is not the man for the job but God offers up his younger brother Aaron to work with him on going down to Egypt to call on Pharaoh to let his people go from Egypt and slavery there.

Psalm 105 verse 26 has two key words to describe Moses and they are:

  1. Servant
  2. Chosen

Let me speak briefly about these two key descriptions of Moses:

  1. Servant

Moses is called “God’s Servant” even in the New Testament in Hebrews 3: 5,

“Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house”.

 The title servant means that Moses was faithful and obedient to a master and his master was God himself. Moses sought to follow the word and direction of his master and he basically did this all through his leadership of his people in the story of their deliverance out of Egypt and Hebrews 11 says that Moses did all this by faith.

Moses then was a great example of Servant leadership and this is what “gotquestions?org” says about Christian Servant leadership,

Servant leadership is best defined by Jesus Himself: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26–28). In the Christian realm, all leadership should be servant leadership.

  1. Chosen

Moses like Joseph before him and indeed Abraham were all men chosen and prepared to do a specific job for God but each man, like us has to respond to the call of God when he shows us he has chosen us.

Paul taught in a number of places that God chooses men and women to follow him and that choice of God goes far, far back in the mind and plan of God as he writes in Romans 8: 29 – 30,

 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified”.

Some Christians resist the idea of God choosing us to follow him but others find it a great comfort and means of praise to God. I personally do find this teaching a great mystery but accepting it gives me confidence that if I am faithful in presenting God’s word to others and leave the work of changing men and women’s hearts and minds to understand it to God then he will call those he has chosen to follow him.

The story of Moses calling and the preparation that led up to it is yet another story of how God works over many years in the hearts and lives of men and women that my old bible study leader I had in my late teens, who I call Charlie would say are men and women just like you and me.

  1. (vv. 28_ 36) God’s miraculous signs in Egypt

So verse 27 said that God sent Moses and Aaron into Egypt to perform God’s miraculous signs and wonders and now, again, in a poetical form the writer of Psalm 105 describes some of these signs and wonders God did through them in Egypt.

I say some of these signs and wonders because Psalm 105 account of these is different than the account we find in Exodus 7 – 12, as not all the plagues are mentioned in Psalm 105 and there order is changed.

Allan Harman explains how the writer of Psalm 105 sets down the story of the plagues in Egypt this way,

“The poet highlights the final two plagues (darkness and death of the firstborn) by placing the other plagues between them”.

 Also two plagues are omitted from Psalm 105 account of the plagues namely the plague on livestock and the plague of boils.

So the writer of Psalm 105 is using a poetic description of what he calls God’s signs which Spurgeon describes this way,

“They were speaking marvels, which testified more plainly than words to the omnipotence of Jehovah, to his determination to be obeyed, to his anger at the obstinacy of Pharaoh”.

 Lets have a closer look at how the writer of Psalm 105 describes the seven “speaking marvels” of God.

  1. Plague of Darkness (vs. 28)

The writer of Psalm 105 starts with plague number 9 recorded in more detail in Exodus 10: 21 – 29, the writer of Psalm 105 describes it this way,

“He sent darkness and made the land dark – for had they not rebelled against his words?”

 Darkness for three days Exodus 10: 23, would have been a very frightening thing to go through but the God who made light right at the beginning of creation now stops light shinning in Egypt. This shows God’s total control and also says to Pharaoh and Egypt that if they defy the word of God then that word that originally made light itself will be deprived of you.

John 3: 19 – 21 says this about the coming of God’s light to the world through the Lord Jesus Christ and his message which is God’s spiritual light to the world,

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God”.

Pharaoh opening defied the God Moses and Aaron spoke on behalf of so over and over again Pharaoh refused to acknowledge the God of the bible and as the second part of verse 28 says, Pharaoh and the people of Egypt he ruled over,

“Rebelled against his (God’s) words?”

 For this they were under the judgment of God as are people today who hate the light of God, God sent into the world namely Jesus Christ who interestingly is called in John 1: 14,

“The word (of God) become flesh”

  1. Plague of water into blood (vs. 29)

The very reason why Egypt existed and prospered as a nation was the fertility of the waters of the great river Nile. In the area that Ancient Egyptians lived was very fertile because it was in the area that the river Nile spread out and often silted up with rich nutrients for growing large food crops.

So we read in verse 29 a terrible plague that effected what only could be called the life- blood of the Egyptian Empire, the river Nile,

“He turned their waters into blood, causing their fish to die”.

 Whether this was literally blood or some red appearing toxic substance that looked like blood really doesn’t matter as the end reflect is the same, the fish die and therefore the river is no longer an agricultural blessing but a curse.

I also read in my research that fish caught in the river Nile was also an important part of ancient Egyptian diets so again God is acting through nature to judge Egypt for their rebellion to his word carried to their Pharaoh by Moses and Aaron.

  1. Plague of frogs (vs. 30)

It has been speculated that because the Nile and all the waterways in Egypt were now toxic to amphibian creatures the next plague which was frogs swarming across the land and entering the buildings of the Egyptians is a natural progression as the frogs sought fresh water as did man.

Verse 30 speaks of this plague this way,

“Their land teemed with frogs, which went up into the bedrooms of their rulers”.

 Exodus 7: 22 – 24, tells us what Pharaoh’s response to the river Nile turning to blood was,

“But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. 23 Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river”.

Like many non believers today Pharaoh chose to willfully turn away from the word of God and shut himself up in his palace thinking that this God of the Hebrews might strike his beloved river Nile but he was safe inside his palace locked away from Moses and Aaron and their supposed God of the universe.

How wrong Pharaoh was as God sent frogs loose all over the land and as the second part of verse 30 says, the frogs,

“Went up into the bedrooms of their rulers”.

 People cannot escape the coming judgment of God except by faith in his Son Jesus Christ who through his death on the cross has cleared a way for anyone who turns in repentance and faith in him to God himself. Faith is Jesus Christ is the only way to escape this certain Day of Judgment.

Interestingly Revelation 6: 15 – 17 speaks of kings of the earth seeking to run away and hide from the coming judgment when Jesus returns and these verses tell us this,

 “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?”

  1. Plague of flies and gnats (vs. 31)

With all the dead fish and indeed dead frogs around the next natural plague is flies and gnats feeding and breeding on all the dead flesh lying around the banks of the river Nile and throughout the land from the plague of frogs who have now perished.

Verse 31 says,

“He spoke, and there came swarms of flies, and gnats throughout their country”.

 God often brings his specific acts of judgment to the world through natural processes but he is behind all as we learnt in the last Psalm seen in a verse like Psalm 104: 29,

“When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to dust”.

 God is the sovereign Lord of the universe and he is in control of this world giving by his hand his judgments and his blessings as Psalm 104: 27 – 28,

“All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time.28 When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things”.

  1. Plague of hail (vs. 32 -33)

Then we read in verse 32 skips past the next two plagues recorded in Exodus 9 to another natural part of nature being used by God as a judgment on rebellious Egypt and its ruler, Pharaoh,

“He turned their rain into hail, with lightening throughout their land”

 This was not just a big thunderstorm but as Exodus 9: 18 – 19, the worst

Thunderstorm in Egypt history as described in these verses like this,

“Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now.

19 Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’”

 I like what Moses tells Pharaoh leading up to these verses in verses 15 – 17,

“For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. 16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go”.

God is not just judging the rebellious sins of Pharaoh and his people he is saying something to the world in Moses and Aaron’s time and in the future that he is the one true great and powerful God of heaven and earth and that to rebel against him has dire consequences.

This is a message very much-needed today as people today are just like Pharaoh and his people in Egypt they refuse to even listen the God and his word and instead choose to turn their backs on him and his offer of salvation through Christ his one and only son.

The hail was so large and came down with such force that animal or human would die if they were out in the open and not under shelter. Psalm 105 speaks of the devastation in Egypt caused by this massive thunderstorm and the hail it rained down with these words,

“He struck down their vines and fig trees and shattered the trees of their country”.

We all need the spiritual shelter Christ offered through his sacrifice of his life on the cross for our sins to escape the coming judgment of God but so many refuse to shelter or live in Christ so they have no hope of escape from the coming judgment of God.

  1. Plague of Locus (34 – 35)

If the hail and the devastation it caused to the land of Egypt had not destroyed Egypt’s economy at that time the next certainly finishes it off destroying anything left in the fields of the land. For verses 34 and 35 speak of the plague of locusts,

He spoke, and the locusts came, grasshoppers without number; 35 they ate up every green thing in their land, ate up the produce of their soil”.

 Spurgeon speaks of these locusts as a kind of natural army and then writes,

“Commissioned as these were by God, we may be sure they would do their work thoughly, and leave behind them nothing but desolate wilderness”.

 It has been said that the plagues were also a judgment on the Egyptian supposed God’s that combined nature, like cows and frogs heads on their description of their God’s. Now God is using nature like frogs and here locusts to attack their lives and crops that is saying to Pharaoh and his people that they need to turn away from these false God’s and worship the one true God of heaven and earth.

Paul speaks of the foolishness of mankind when they turn away from God in sinful rebellion 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”.

No Egyptian God could stand up against the one true God of heaven and earth to stop his army of locusts devouring the land yet we learn with dismay and unbelief still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened in rebellion to God.

  1. Plague of the death of the first-born (vs. 36)

So finally after nine plagues that struck Egypt and after nine times Pharaoh still refused to acknowledge the one true God of heaven and earth he now faced the loss of his first-born son, the very heir to the throne of Egypt,

“Then he struck down all the firstborn in their land, the first fruits of all their manhood”.

 So not only Pharaoh lost his first-born son but all other Egyptians as well lost their first-born sons. Of course Exodus 12 tells us that all the first-born of the Israelites who put the blood of the sacrificed lamb on their door posts were saved because God’s angel of death passed over these houses and the first-born sons inside were saved from death.

This very night has become ever since a special night of remembrance when all Jews conduct the solemn celebration of “Passover” and it is at the same time Christians celebrate the solemn celebration of Easter.

 

We might not celebrate the birth of Jesus at the right time of the year but we certainly celebrate his death on the cross at the right time. Just as the blood of the slain lamb saved the firstborn sons of the believing Israelites so the blood of Jesus Christ God’s sacrificial lamb saves us all who believe in him from eternal death and wins for us eternal life.

As Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 1: 18 – 21,

 “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God”.

 The faith and hope of the Israelites in the time of the original Passover was in God and he saved them like he saves anyone from any nation or life status today if they believe in, “the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect”.

 Pharaoh and the Egyptian people obviously did not believe and hope in the one true God of heaven and earth and in fact chose to defy his rule in their lives and rebel against his word given to them through his prophets Moses and Aaron and suffered the judgment of God on that terrible night long ago in Egypt.

This must serve as a warning to all who today choose to turn their backs on God and his word and who mock the salvation he offers through the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. (37 – 44) Remember how God led his people from Egypt to the

               Promise Land.

     So no mention of the Passover is made in Psalm 105 but this was such a vital part of every Jewish believer’s life when every year they remembered the Lord and his great deeds in the time of the Exodus so he does not need to refer to this for them.

What he does remind them of about the Exodus from Egypt is what they left with in verse 37,

“He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold, and from among their tribes no one faltered”.

 We read of this plundering of Egyptian treasure in Exodus 12: 33 -36,

“The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians”.

The writer of Psalm 105 suggests why the Egyptians would have given over these treasures in verse 38,

“Egypt was glad when they left, because dread of Israel had fallen on them”.

Pharaoh and the Egyptians just wanted the Israelites out of their country now and were willing to hand over valuables to help achieve this as they now feared that this powerful God of the Israelites might turn on them and wipe them out just as they had just seen in the death’s of their first-born sons. We know from the Exodus account that this attitude of Pharaoh and his people did not last as after a few days had passed Pharaoh sent an army out to hunt Israel down and kill them all. Tremper Longman 111 points out the significance of the Israelites plundering the Egyptians when they left Egypt,

“In a sense, the Hebrew’s were finally paid for their onerous labour for the Egyptians”.

Then the writer skips over the great salvation of God seen in the crossing of the red sea with its crushing victory over the Egyptian army that was sent to cut them down.

For in verse’s 39 – 41 he speaks of two amazing aspects of the way God led and fed and watered his people during the forty years of wandering in the wilderness before he allowed them to enter the Promised Land of Canaan.

In these verses he reminds his hearers and readers to remember three things:

  1. How God guided them (vs. 39)
  2. How God fed them (vs. 40)
  3. How God provided water for them to drink (vs. 41)

Lets have a closer look at each of these three ways God provided for the Israelites during the forty years of wandering in the wilderness.

  1. How God guided them (vs. 39)

Even before the crossing of the Red Sea Exodus speaks of the way God guided his people in the wilderness by day and night and verse 39 describes it this way,

“He spread out a cloud as a covering and a fire to give them light at night”.

 Here the cloud at day and fire or pillar of fire at night is not just for guidance but also protection. We read of the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day guiding or leading the people in the wilderness in Exodus 13: 21 – 22,

“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people”.

The protection of the cloud by day of the Israelites is described this way in Exodus 14: 19 – 20,

 “Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long”.

So God led and protected his people and he promises the same guidance and protection for all who put their faith in Christ and seek to live for him as we read in Paul’s prayer request for God’s protection from the devil as he and his companions spread the Gospel message of the Lord on his missionary journeys in 2 Thessalonians 3: 1 – 3,

“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one”.

 We don’t have a cloud or pillar of fire to guide us but as Jesus promised on his last night on earth we have his Holy Spirit who will guide us and lead us into all truth, John 16: 13 – 15,

 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

 The apostles wrote down for us faithfully what they heard Jesus taught and did and this was inspired by the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised them in John 16. So we can read Jesus words and also the inspired words of the apostles who not only wrote it down but fleshed out what Jesus said, applying it to our lives and giving us direction through it.

So we are led and protected by God’s Holy Spirit in our daily lives just as the Israelites of long ago were led and protected by The Angel of the Lord who appeared to them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

  1. How God fed them (vs. 40)

Just as the Patriarchs lived in a hostile world as strangers and wanderers and could have perished so easily in that environment now a whole nation probably around 2 million people moved around the desert area’s between Egypt and Canaan and this was a miracle in itself that such a large number survived in such difficult conditions. They would have spent some time in many of the places they made camp in but still the feeding of such a number would have been even in modern times a logistical nightmare yet verse 40 says,

“They asked and he brought quail and satisfied them with bread of heaven”.

 Psalm 106 which parallel this Psalm in remembering this amazing history of the nation points out how God answered their request for food even though it was asked for in a grumbling sinful way, Psalm 106: 13 – 15,

“But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.
14 In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness they put God to the test.15 So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease among them”.

So they asked God for food grumbling and saying why God did you take us out of Egypt where we had food, Exodus 16: 2 – 3,

“In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

The general grace of God for the world is expressed in Jesus words in Matthew 5: 45,

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”.

So God fed the grumbling sinful Israelites with two more miracles of quails blown off course from the coast to be caught and eaten and through the miracle of the manna, which even to this day we cannot understand just exactly what it was. Gotquestion?org makes this fascinating observation,

What was manna? Interestingly, the Israelites asked the very same question: “When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat’” (Exodus 16:15). The Hebrew word translated “manna” literally means “what is it?”

Whatever Manna was Psalm 105: 40 says God,

“Satisfied them with bread of heaven”.

 Jesus tells people who followed him for a easy free meal, John 6: 35,

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”.

Even in my poorest time of my life when I was a student God always made sure I never went hungry but Jesus is speaking of a far deeper hunger, spiritual hunger that of course only by faith in him can it be satisfied.

  1. How God provided water for them to drink (vs. 41)

Even more difficult than food is the provision of enough water for over two million people in a desert area and so the writer of Psalm 105 in verse 41 calls on his hearers and readers to remember God’s provision of water for Israel in their forty-year desert wanderings, he writes,

“He opened the rock, and water gushed out; like a river it flowed in the desert”.

 Numbers 20: 1 – 13 records the details of God doing this, providing water from a rock in the desert and this passage refers to this as,

“Waters of Meribah” verse 13 and Meribah means quarreling and this place is called Massah in the Exodus 17 account of this incident and Massah means testing and this is because again like with food the Israelites who had already seen God’s great many previous miracles could not believe he could or would provide them with water in the desert when there seemed no hope for it there.

Yet even as Moses himself sins by striking the rock in anger when he was specifically to speak to the rock, Numbers 20: 8,

“Speak to the rock before their eyes and it will pour out water”

 God opens the rock and water gushes out which probably means this rock provided access to artesian water. Moses and Aaron for this sinful way of following the command of God are forbidden to lead the people into the promised land, Numbers 20: 12,

“But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them”.

This story teaches us many things not to mention that God does not care for grumbling and complaining but his grace is so great that even sinful people like these Israelites were still helped and saved by him which will be a major theme of the next Psalm, Psalm 106.

Jesus also refers to himself as the one who quenches our deep spiritual thirst, John 7: 37 – 38,

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them”.

I feel that many people today suffer great spiritual thirst which I believe that only faith in Jesus Christ can quench and I have a much more involved study on this in my Psalm talk on Psalm 63. The first verse of this Psalm reads like this,

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water”.

 Then in the last three verses of this second part of the fourth section of the Psalm we have the poetic description of the conquest of God’s Promised Land for his people.

The writer presents three things he wants his readers and hearers to remember about the conquest of the land in these next three verses:

  1. How the land is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham (vs. 42)
  2. How the people entered the promise land with joy (vs. 43)
  3. How God conquered nations to give them the Promised Land (vs. 44)

Lets look a little closer at each of these three things the writer of Psalm 105 wants his readers and hearers to remember about how the ancient Israelites entered God’s Promise Land.

  1. How the land is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham (vs. 42)

First we have yet another reminder that the land of Canaan was promised to Abraham a long time before the Israelites with God’s help were able to conquer and settle in it. This is expressed in verse 42,

“For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham”.

 The readers and hearers of this Psalm are to remember that the land of Canaan was only theirs because God promised it to Abraham as a vital part of his covenant with Abraham, which was the basis of the covenant he made to them through Moses. It is interesting that the covenant of God to Abraham and his descendants is now the completed or made new in the work of Jesus Christ for us.

We gain a very real understanding of how Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and founder of what we now call “The New Covenant” through the teaching of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament.

 I don’t have time to go into a detailed discussion and explanation of the relationship between the Old and New Covenants but here I will just look at two issues relating to verse 42 of Psalm 105.

The first is that the New Covenant established by the work of Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins is a new covenant because it is superior to the covenant or agreement that verse 42 speaks of because it achieves far more and is no longer restricted to the descendants of Abraham.

We see this in a passage like Hebrews 8: 6 – 13,

“But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.

 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said]: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.

 

It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.


10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” 13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear”

The second observation I would like to make about the New Covenant and the Old Covenant relating to Psalm 105 verse 42 is its relationship to the inheritance of the land and a verse that points us to how the New Covenant should shape our thinking on the promised inheritance of the land is Hebrews 9: 15,

“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant”.

So heaven is the Promise Land of the new covenant which is spoken about by all of the New Testament writers as we see in 1 Peter 1: 3 – 5,

“ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time”. 

  1. How the people entered the promise land with joy (vs. 43)

 The second thing the writer of Psalm 105 wants his readers and hearers to remember about the ancient Israelites entering the Promise Land is in verse 43 which speaks of the way the people came into the land, he writes,

“He brought out his people with rejoicing his chosen ones with shouts of joy”.

 The Israelites who entered the Promise Land had in one sense had waited hundreds of years for that day to come as God’s people descended from Abraham. Their fathers had been slaves in Egypt and many of them had spent 40 years wandering around the wilderness living in tents but now they had finally entered the Promise Land and what a day that must have been for them and they would have been shouting great words and songs of rejoicing and praise in their God.

It is the book of Joshua records the way God led his people into the Promise Land and helped them to conquer it. Joshua 5: 10 – 12, speaks of a great first Passover celebration that took place in the Promised Land at a place they called Gilgal,

 “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”.

What a great day of celebration that would have been and note how God’s provision of manna stopped that day as they now could eat produce grown in the Promised Land for the first time.

The New Testament speaks of how we are to live our lives in Christ with praise and rejoicing as Paul teaches in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18,

 “Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

Paul’s prayer for the Colossians in Colossians 1: 9 – 12, includes giving thanks and being joyful as we live a life worthy of the Lord as we move towards entering our eternal inheritance,

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light”.

So as we remember what Christ has done for us through his death and resurrection we are to live a life worthy of the Lord giving thanks and being joyful as we share even now in God’s great inheritance which we only have now a foretaste in his church that will be ours completely when we enter in heaven one day in the future.

  1. How God conquered nations to give them the Promised Land (vs. 44)

The third and final thing the writer of Psalm 105 wants his readers and hearers to remember about the ancient Israelites entering the Promise Land is in verse 44 which speaks of how God conquered nations to give them the Promised Land people in the past like Moses and Aaron toiled for,

“He have them the lands of the nations, and they fell heir to what others had toiled for”.

 The conquest of the Promise Land was an often slow but sure process of victory after victory of a tiny nation that defeated far bigger and more powerful nations that occupied the land of Canaan at that time. The big difference was their God who went before them time and time again and made their victories against often-ridiculous odds possible.

I like the glimpse we have of how many Canaanites actually thought of the coming of the Israelites to their lands which is provided through what could only be called the words of the converted prostitute Rahab in Joshua 2: 8 – 11,

“Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.

11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below”.

The Nations in Canaan must have got even unnerved after the fall of Jericho and the circumstances of its conquest. So God went before his people Israel and gave them the lands of Canaan a land already prepared for occupation as its former owners had developed it which is what the second part of verse 44 is saying,

“They fell heir to what others had toiled for”.

 Paul speaks of the preaching and spreading the Gospel of the Lord is like a victory march in 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?”

  1. (vs. 45) REMEMBER TO OBEY GOD’S WORD AND PRAISE HIM

The writer of Psalm 105 then brings his poem of remembrance of what God has done that should lead us to praise with to final exhortations:

  1. Remember to obey God’s word (vs. 45a)
  2. Remember to Praise the Lord (vs. 45b)

Lets look at each of these two final exhortations a little close:

  1. Remember to obey God’s word (vs. 45a)

What did God want his people to do as they lived in his Promised Land?

The writer of Psalm 105 answer is,

“That they might keep his precepts and observe his laws”

 Spurgeon explains this well with these words,

“The chosen nation was to be the conservator of truth, the exemplar, the pattern of devotion: everything was so ordered as to place them in advantages circumstances for fulfilling trust”

Joshua at the end of his life at 110 years gathered the people of Israel together and said these words to them, Joshua 23: 6,

“Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left”.

He completes this speech with these words, verse 16,

“If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.”

We learnt earlier that God called Israel for a special purpose to be a kingdom of priests to the world, Exodus 19: 5 – 6,

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

This priestly role and priest means go – between was to proclaim the message of God and how he wants the people of the world to live in obedience to his word. We also learnt the Peter now reveals to us that we as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ redeemed by his blood on the cross are now his priests or go – betweens God and the unbelieving people of this word, 1 Peter 2: 9,

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Note Peter makes it clear that as priests we are to,

“Declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

This involves declaring the word of God, which we cannot declare effectively if we are not trusting and obeying it in our daily lives.

The sad truth that we will see in the next Psalm, Psalm 106 is that by and large the people of Israel once they entered the Promised Land and settled down generally failed to,

“Keep his precepts and observe his laws”

This fact would have been a living reality in the mind of the writer of Psalm 105, if he wrote it as we think, around the time of the return from Babylonian exile. He would have known that for hundreds of years leading up to the Babylonian exile the people of Israel who lived in the Promised Land failed over and over again to keep the precepts of God and observe his law and even turned away from following the God of the bible to other God’s.

For this God judged his people and for seventy years the majority of them were taken into exile in Babylon away from the Promised Land of Israel. However after 70 years they were allowed to go back as God moved yet again in history to help them return to the Promised Land of Israel under the rule of the Persians.

This writer is reminding his readers of this so that they might learn to trust and obey the word of God as they come back to Israel the Promised Land of God.

He knows that God only gave them this land so that they could fulfill his promise of them being his special people who would be his priests to the world declaring to the world his word.

So we now as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ have a special mission to fulfill expressed by Jesus in Matthew 28: 19 – 20,

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

  1. Remember to Praise the Lord (vs. 45b)

The final words of the Psalm are short but sweet, they simply say,

“Praise the Lord”

 All through the Psalm the message has been remember God’s deeds and praise him. The words that follow the quote I gave in the previous part from the exposition of this Psalm by Spurgeon go on to say this about how God wanted his people to live in his Promised Land,

“Theirs was a high calling and a glorious election. It involved great responsibilities, but it was in itself a distinguished blessing, and one for which the nation was bound to give thanks”.

 There remembering was to lead to praise and this praise was to come from what they remembered the Lord had done for them. This was the high calling they had for the many privileges God gave them as his special people living in his Promised Land.

We too have a high calling expressed so well by Paul in Ephesians 1: 11 – 12,

“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory”.

May we all learn the lesson that the writer of Psalm 105 has given us in his long and amazing Psalm, which is,

“Remember God’s deeds and Praise Him”.

I close as usual with a new poem based on the Psalm and a prayer:

 

REMEMBER THE LORD AND PRAISE HIM

(Based on Psalm 105)

 

Remember what the Lord has done

And give him thanks and praise.

Tell all the nations of his deeds

Praise his name all of your days.

His glory has been revealed

By his acts of mighty love

For Jesus came to die for us

From heaven up above.

 

Chorus:

 

Remember the Lord and praise

And live for him all your days.

Remember the Lord and praise

For he has shown his love in all his ways.

 

 

Remember all the wonders the Lord has done

Many miracles he has performed.

O people who have faith like Abraham

Remember the Lord and be transformed.

For he is the Lord our God

And he judges all the earth

But remember that faith in Jesus Christ

Will save us and gives us new birth.

 

CHORUS:

 

Remember the covenant God made with Abraham

He promised him he would inherit a land.

And although he wandered from place to place

God protected him by his mighty hand.

And we have an inheritance

That will never fade away

For in Jesus we will live forever more

When we pass from this life one day.

 

CHORUS:

 

Remember the stories of the people of God

Who were trapped in a land as slaves.

But God sent Moses to help free them

But Pharaoh stood in God’s way.

But God showed him many powerful signs

Nine plagues came on Egypt’s land

The tenth sign of God was the death of first Son’s

But God’s people were saved by God’s hand.

 

CHORUS:

 

Remember how God led his people to

The land he promised to Abraham.

With many miracles he helped them to survive

And conquer the land of Canaan.

And Jesus has made us a way

To an eternal home above

But we must trust in him for our Salvation

And praise him for his love.

 

CHORUS:

 

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

We thank you Lord for your wonderful deeds of Salvation throughout history for the people you have called into your kingdom. Above all we thank you for your great deed of love in sending your Son Jesus Christ into our world to die on the cross for our sins and for his rising from the dead that sealed our salvation and won for us the eternal inheritance of heaven itself that will never fade or pass away. We praise you then for your many wonderful deeds of salvation for us. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

PSALM 104 TALK: PRAISE OF THE CREATED

PSALM 104 TALK: PRAISE OF THE CREATED

 (A Psalm that calls us to praise God for his wonderful creation and to join that creation that speaks a wordless praise of how great and glorious is its creator.)

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

 In 1971 I stood one evening on a beautiful moon lit night on a beach called seven mile beach which is on the south coast of New South Wales in my home state in Australia. As I stood on that beach I saw in the sand the tiny footprints of children who had obviously frolicked on that golden shore- line during the day. We had taken the children who were on a camp I was helping to lead down on that beach that morning before they had lunch and returned home after being on a camp for a week.

It was the first night we did not have to look after the children on the camp and the leadership team and I were having a break as in two days time another group of children was arriving to have their week of holidays by the beach with us. The first week’s camp had been a great success because the children had had a wonderful time and many of them came to the Lord through the presentation of the Gospel that week.

As I stared at those tiny footprints I immediately started to pray thanking God for his beautiful creation that beach represented and also thanking him that he had made himself known first through his Son Jesus Christ and then through us to the children on that fantastic camp we had just run.

By the time I and my fellow leaders had made it back to the campsite cabins I had the inspiration for a poem which years later became a song called, “Children of the Bay”, the words of the song go like this,

The summer wind is blowing it howls and calls for day.

Waves reach crashing forward as they pound upon the bay.

A seagull fly’s the heavens as the palm trees gently sway.

The wind drops with the morning and the children come to play.

 

Refrain:

Yes the children come to play

The children of the bay

The wind drops with the morning

As the children come to play

 

There’s seven thousand horses pounding down upon the bay.

The sun now fills the morning with her warm and golden ray.

The white caps playing, dancing on top of waves to and fro.

The silence of the morning is broken by a shrill

And I see the Children playing by the shore.

 

Refrain:

Yes the children play by the seashore

The children of the bay

The silence it is broken

As the children now do play

The sun now softly whispers this is the close of day.

The silhouetted headlands reach out like arms to pray.

And in the silence of the evening I see the giant spider sun.

The waves crash on the seashore as the children move away.

 

Refrain:

Yes the children move away

The children of the bay

The waves crash on the seashore

As the children move away

 

In the peace of the evening the moon sends down its ray.

And nature rests so quiet as the waves break on the bay.

And in that hour of darkness I stop to bow and pray.

As I see the tiny footprints where the children came to play

 

Refrain:

Yes I see the tiny footprints

Where children came to play

And in that hour of darkness

I stop and bow and pray

Where the children came to play

The children of the bay.

Even though the children that day had left just after lunch on many days during the week of the camp they did not go back to the campsite until early evening for dinner and a evening program, bed side devotions, prayer and sleep.

My poem, “Children of the Bay” became the first of many poems over the next twenty years or so that capture some aspect of nature leading me to pray and sometimes even the natural world itself speaks powerfully of the God who made it. I called these poems, “Prayers of the Created” and the scripture backing for them is Psalm 19 verse 1,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.

 Psalm 104 is a very special prayer as it is a praise for the glorious God of creation who is praised for his wonderful work of creating this world and the universe and not only creating it but also sustaining it by the same power and glory he created it by. Therefore I have entitled this Psalm talk, “Praise of the Created”.

We simply don’t know who and when this Psalm was written, some have suggested David as he wrote the Psalm before it, Psalm 103 and that starts and finishes with the same words as Psalm 104 starts and finishes with namely,

“Praise the Lord, O my soul”

 Psalm 103 also finishes as Psalm 104 starts namely praising God for his creation, Psalm 103: 22,

“Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his domain, Praise the Lord, O my soul”.

 If David wrote Psalm 104, like he did Psalm 103 I wonder why the Hebrew editors did not tell us this at the top of the Psalm like they did at the start of Psalm 103?

This Psalm was placed in the fourth book of Psalms probably during the early years of the return from exile so the image of God being the great cosmic king of the universe in the opening verses of the Psalm would have been a great encouragement for the renewed tiny nation of Israel as they returned from 70 long years of exile under the powerful kings of at first Babylon and now Persia.

The writer of this Psalm seems to use a variety of bible and non – bible sources for his poetic images in his composition. The bible resources include Genesis 1, Job 38 and Proverbs 8: 22 – 31. I will make reference to these uses of the bible references in his poetic images when they appear in Psalm 104. However the greatest influence on the writer of Psalm 104 for his poetic images he uses to praise God is what he sees in nature and this fits well into my title for this Psalm, “Praise of the Created”.

Finally I must also comment on the theory that this Psalm was an adaption of the far older Egyptian poem to the Sun disk God, Aten and indeed verses 20 – 26 appear very similar to a part of that ancient Egyptian poem. A Pharaoh named Akhenaten who forced Egypt dump the worship of many God’s to worship alone the Sun disk God Aten probably wrote this Egyptian poem. However the two poems are very different. As Temper Longman 111 aptly points out,

“The difference between the two poems is even more striking. After all, Akhenaten is worshipping the sun disk, and the Israelite psalmist is worshipping the Creator of the sun and all the cosmos”.

 So the writer of Psalm 104 seems to have got inspiration from a variety of bible and non – bible literature but his main inspiration was the world and the universe as he both saw them and understood them two and a half thousand years ago.

 With the theme of “Praise of the Created” in mind my outline for this Psalm talk is:

  1. (1 – 9)   PRAISE THE GLORIOUS CREATOR GOD
  2. (1 – 4)     The glorious creator God
  3. (5 – 9)     The creators creation

      2.  (10 – 18) PRAISE THE SUSTAINING CREATOR GOD

  1. (10 – 14a) The sustainer of animals and nature
  2. (14b – 15) The sustainer of man
  3. (16 – 18)   The sustainer of trees and birds

3. (19 – 30) PRAISE THE RULER OF CREATION

  1. (19 – 23)   The ruler and creator of the day and seasons
  2. (24 – 26)   The ruler and creator of the earth and sea
  3. (27 – 30)   The ruler and sustainer of all life

       4. (31 – 35) FINAL PRAISE OF THE GLORIOUS CREATOR GOD

  1. (31 – 34) The song of praise of the glorious creator God
  2. (vs. 35a)   A plea to vanish sinners who spoil God’s creation
  3. (vs. 35b)   A final praise of the great creator God

 

  1. (1 – 9)   PRAISE THE GLORIOUS CREATOR GOD

 

  1. (1 – 4)     The glorious creator God

 As I said in my introduction Psalm 104 Starts and ends with the same words as the previous Psalm, Psalm 103, which is,

“Praise the Lord, O my soul”

 Both Psalmist are urging and committing themselves to deep and earnest praise of their God who they call, “The Lord”. This praise is to come from the soul, that deep real and spiritual heart of man where God’s Holy Spirit can do his work of inspiration and renewal in our daily lives.

Both Psalmists are calling their congregations of believers and readers like us to join them in this word of deep praise and now in Psalm 104 its composer describes the Lord he is committed to praise.

I find five descriptions of his Lord who he is committed to praise and they all add up to his God being great and glorious. The five descriptions are:

  1. God is very great (vs. 1)
  2. God is clothed in splendor and majesty (vs. 1b)
  3. God is wrapped in light (vs. 2-3)
  4. God is supported by Angels his messengers (vs. 4)

 

  1. God is very great (vs. 1a)

The first description the writer of Psalm 104 gives of the God he is committed to praise is found in the expressing in verse 1 that says,

“O Lord my God you are very great”.

 We will see in this Psalm that the writer of it will go to great lengths to state why he believes thst the God of the bible is great through his wonderful work of creation. As I tried to express all those years ago in my poem, “Children of the Bay” that amazing beach on the south coast of my home state is but one magnificent example of the power and greatness of our creator God.

Nature both microscopically and universally demonstrates how amazing our God is in that he designed it all so well and that it not only all works together but it also is breathtakingly beautiful. To suggest what we see in nature is but a series of incredible accidents as the theory of evolution suggests is simply absurd to any intelligent being but yet the predominant belief in our world today is that the amazingly designed world we live in does not have a designer and in fact the design we see all around us and within us is simply a fluke of nature brought about by the mutations of living things over millions of years. These freaks of nature turned out to be able to adapt to our world better than their parents they came from and so they helped develop what we see today in the natural world.

No, No, No the amazing design of nature is so vast, complex and miraculous that freaks of nature no matter how long they had to develop could not explain it’s creation.

The answer is there is a God and he is very great so great that he is the one who has always existed and who sometime ago decided to set to work and create this universe and even time itself because even modern science believes time as we know it had a beginning.

As the first words of the bible says,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.

 Or as Deuteronomy 10: 17 says,

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome”.

 Then we have the Psalm dedicated to the greatness of God, Psalm 145 and particularly verses 3 – 7,

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works.They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds.They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your

righteousness”.

God’s greatness here and in Psalm 104 is seen in his great acts of creation, which Psalm 145 calls in verse 4,

“Your mighty acts”

However God’s mighty or great acts of creation are not the only way we see in the bible the greatness of God for it is in his mighty acts of Salvation that flows from his great love for us that God’s greatness is supremely seen as David claims in Psalm 57: 9 – 10,

“I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies”.

 In the New Testament it is God’s work of the new creation in us that his greatness is seen through the great work of God in Christ death and resurrection as Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2: 1 – 7,

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus”.

  1. God is clothed in splendor and majesty (vs. 1b)

The writer of Psalm 104 adds to his statement of God’s greatness in verse 1 and description of God’s appearance with the words,

“You are clothed with splendor and majesty”

The ancient Hebrews who read these words would have been familiar with earthly kings attire. The greater the king the more spectacular the clothing that king wore in the presence of his people but God the king of heaven and earth attire makes the clothing of the earthly so called great king look like rags and as Isaiah says in Isaiah 64: 6,

“All our righteous acts are like filthy rags”.

Not only were the kings of the Nations dressed in filthy rags compared to the splendor and majesty the King of Heaven and earth is dressed in but their so called God’s were again just adorned in rags compared to the one true and great God of heaven and earth. David Guzik puts it this way in his commentary or Psalm 104,

“The idol gods of the nations were often crude and shameful in their conduct, but Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, is known for His honor and majesty”.

In the New Testament Jesus is seen as the visible representation of the splendor and majesty of God as we read in Hebrews 1: 3

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”.

The glory of God is seen particularly in Jesus death and resurrection for us as on the cross Jesus shows God’s justice in paying for our sins and his love in giving his life to forgive our sins. Jesus says this about himself when Judas leaves the last supper to betray Jesus that led directly to Jesus death on the cross, John 13: 31 – 32,

“When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him,God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once”.

But even before Jesus death on the cross something of his ascended splendor and glory is revealed in his transfiguration recorded in Matthew 17: 1 – 3,

“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus”.

Before Jesus left the mountain God speaks from heaven and tells the disciples to listen to Jesus as he is his son, Matthew 17: 5,

“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

 So the splendor and glory can be seen in God’s wonderful creation but it is better seen in his Son, Jesus Christ who through his glorious act of love on the cross is the splendor and majesty of God manifest and one day we all will see this splendor and majesty of God in Christ and we will be part of his glory and splendor when he returns and takes us to live with him in heaven as Paul speaks of in Colossians 3: 4,

“When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory”. 

  1. God is wrapped in light (vs. 2-3)

The description of the glory of God the King in heaven is continued in the next two verses that speak of him as glorious light,

“He wraps himself in light as with a garment: he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters”.

 These two verses seem to feature three incredible poetic images:

  1. God wrapping himself in the garment of light
  2. God stretching out the heavens like a tent
  3. The storm God image

Lets have a look at each of these three incredible poetic images:

  1. God wrapping himself in the garment of light

The first poetic image of God wrapping himself in light or God being both the author of light and the ultimate expression of light is found right through the bible beginning of course with Genesis 1: 3 – 4,

“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness”.

Moses came close to God and it resulted in his face becoming radiant with light, Exodus 34: 29,

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord”.

David speaks of great lights like lightening coming from the presence of God in Psalm 18: 12,

“Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning”.

The New Testament gives us even deeper teaching on how God is both the creator of light and light and his appearance is light, in 1 John 1: 5 we read,

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all”.

Paul tells us that God dwells in light in 1 Timothy 6: 16,

“Who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honour and might forever. Amen”.

 Finally Jesus claimed to be the light of the world and all who follow him will not live in darkness, John 8: 12,

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

So God wraps himself in light as he is light and in heaven we will not need the sun to provide us light for God himself will shine for us in heaven for his and his Sons glory will be our light, Revelation 21: 22 – 23,

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”.

  1. God stretching out the heavens like a tent

The second light poetic description is God stretching out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. The heavens hear are seen as God’s tent stretched out above us on what is described as “lays of beams of his upper chambers on their waters”. This is a poetic image of God in so much control of the heavens it as though the heavens or skies here in Psalm 104 are like a gigantic tent or canopy Leopold explains the expression of the tent image well with these words,

“As man erects his tent, so the Lord by a few simple movements erected the heavens”.

 Then the image of beams of light on the heavenly stores of water is alluded to in the words of verse 3,

“And lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters”.

 Longman points out that,

“The understanding that the heavens contained massive amounts of water was an ancient idea confirmed by the rain that fell from the sky”.

 This does not prove the writers of the bible got the scientific explanation wrong, as this is a poetic image not a statement of fact. I always get a little uptight when some Christians try to use the bible as a kind of science text- book when it never claims to be such and in fact is far from a science text- book. I equally get uptight when atheistic scientists criticize the bible’s God given inspiration by also treating the bible as a flawed science text book as it never claims to be so. I see science as man’s attempt to discover how this world was made when the bible tells us who created it and why he created it.

Psalm 104 verse 3 is poetically saying God is so great and glorious and he is the one beyond and in the clouds declaring his glory in the skies above as Psalm 19 verse 1 states,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”. 

  1. The storm God image

Finally in verse 3 we have a further image of this great and glorious God and the heavens or skies in what some commentators like Longman point out is an image adapted from Canaanite mythology of the chariot -riding storm God called Baal, Longman writes,

“Storm god imagery, God, like the storm god Baal in the Ugarite texts, rides the cloud, the vehicular cloud being his war chariot”.

 Again the poetic image the writer of Psalm 104 uses is not saying the clouds and storms in the sky are God riding some sort of chariot across the sky but rather the God who created clouds and storms makes them to appear like his glory and greatness is riding on the clouds and winds.

As we read in Deuteronomy 33: 26, which equally could have been the source for the writer of Psalm 104 poetic image,

“There is no one like God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty”.

 I find it fascinating that the image of God in the sky has a New Testament equivalent and that is the description of the return of Jesus.

Revelation 1: 7 says,

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pieced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him, So shall it be! Amen”

 Exactly what this will look like, I do not know but somehow the sky as we know it today will change and we will see Jesus coming in the clouds all over the world. Surely this will be the final vision of the greatness and glory of God this world will see before the New Heaven and the New Earth is established.

  1. God is supported by Angels his messengers (vs. 4)

The final description of the great and glorious nature of God in these opening verses is verse 4,

“He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants”.

 Most commentators believe this final vision of the greatness and glory of God is referring to the Angels who are presented as God’s messages and servants as the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 1: 7,

“In speaking of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire”.

 The idea of the Angels being God’s messengers and servants is also in the previous Psalm, 103: 20 – 21,

“Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. 21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will”.

So this last image of the greatness and glory of God is how God is the creator and controller of all the Angels in heaven who he is surround by singing his praises as we read of this in Revelation 7: 11 – 12,

“All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:

“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”

  1. (5 – 9)     The creators creation

 So the writer of Psalm 104 completes his description of the greatness and splendour or glory of God, which he longs from his heart to praise, now he moves on in the second part of the first section to describe the creator God’s creation as again a source of praise to his great God.

This description of God’s great and glorious creation speaks of two aspects of God’s creation:

  1. The foundations (vs. 5)
  2. The water or oceans (vs’s 6 – 9)

Lets have a close look at each of these two aspects of God’s creation.

  1. The foundations (vs. 5)

When God finally spoke to Job in Job 38 he asked job a series of questions and one was, was Job present when God laid the foundations of the earth and this is the exact reference, Job 38: 4 – 6,

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.

Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone”.

Of course Job would have to answer, No I was not there God when you made the world but I guess the point of God’s speech to Job is to give Job a bigger view of himself and with a bigger view of God he was given the strength of mind and spirit to bear the great suffering he had to bare.

Science today speaks a lot about the building blocks of life and all life in our universe is dependant on laws or rules of nature and we know that the author of these very important laws of nature is God, the God of the bible.

Later in God’s speech to Job he says this in verse 33,

“Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s domain over the earth?

In our modern day we know a lot of these laws, which are the foundations of not only our world but also all life. God is the author of these laws and he is then the sure foundation of this world and should be the sure foundation of our lives.

Jesus spoke of this in the words of a parable in the Gospels like Matthew 7: 24 – 27,

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

 The sure foundation of life Jesus says is his word or we might add the word of God. I mentioned before that Science seeks to answer the question of how God made the world and in fact the only sure word from God about how he made this word is three simple words in Genesis 1,

“And God said”

 So powerful is the word of God that through it the entire world and the universe were made. The writer to the Hebrews says this about the powerful word of God in Hebrews 4: 12,

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”.

May science continue to seek to understand how God made this world but for me I am content to just say God made this world and he did it through his divine and powerful word.

  1. The water or oceans (vs’s 6 – 9)

One of the miraculous nature of this world we call earth is water. All scientists agree that water and our protective atmosphere that also contains water in the form of water vapour is what makes our earth unique. It has been estimated by scientists that 71% of the earth is covered by water and 96.5% of that is found in the oceans. So the writer of Psalm 104 naturally spends quite some time on the topic of water as he is inspired by what he sees in nature to praise his great creator God.

The writer poetically describes God’s creation of the water in and on the earth in verses 6 – 9.

He starts this poetic description of God’s creation of the water on the earth in verse 6 with these words,

“You covered it with the deep as a garment; the waters stood above the mountains”.

Even science believes that the early earth was covered by water and some say less than 3% of the earth was dry land millions of years ago. The writer of Psalm 104 poetically describes the earth as a water world saying that even the mountains that existed then were covered by water.

Some bible scholars thinks that this section of the Psalm is referring to the great flood but most dismiss this idea and point to part of God’s creation of the earth as we know it today. This part of the Psalm verses 6 – 9 is believed to have been inspired by Genesis 1: 9,

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so”.

This idea seems to be verified by what the writer of Psalm 104 says in verses 7 and 8,

“But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;

they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them”

 Note how even the writer of Psalm 104 declares that this creation of dry land and ocean was by the powerful word of God which he describes as God’s “rebuke” and “at the sound of your thunder” which is a poetic way of saying when God speaks there is a powerful effect. As I said before science is still trying to work out how this world was formed but it certainly was not a blind mindless process of evolution but a carefully performed work of creation by an intelligent designer we know as the God of the bible.

Christians might differ in the time scale and how God actually did it but they all agree that this world is the product one way or another of an intelligent designer who is the eternal God presented to us in the bible.

Finally in this short part of the Psalm devoted to the creation of the oceans and dry land verse 9, says,

“You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth”.

 Genesis 1: 10 says,

“God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good”.

Even modern science would agree that what we have with 71% of the earth covered with water and the rest dry land is good as it is what makes life possible and no other earth like planet has been passively found yet although some scientists believe they know of possible earth like planets revolving around other far distant stars. They have no way of saying that even if they exist life as on earth exists there as well.

God made this world unique with its vast oceans filled with life and its beautiful dry land also filled with all kinds of life and he made it for us to enjoy and look after and it saddens me when I see people abusing their unique role in this world with willful sinful destruction of habitants and with pollution and other damaging sinful actions. This is why Paul says in Romans 8: 19 – 21,

“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God”.

This problem of sinful man marring this world will come up in verse 35 the last verse of this Psalm and what the writer of Psalm 104 asks for in that verse will surprise you.

  1. (10 – 18) PRAISE THE SUSTAINING CREATOR GOD

1.  (10 – 14a) The sustainer of animals and nature

Some people over the centuries have believed that the evidence of nature and sound human reasoning does point to the existence of a God and that he or it (it being a force) created this world but they believe that God or force is no longer involved in this world which is a belief called Deism.

People who believe in Deism believe that the God who created the world does not get involved in this world and so they reject any form of supernatural involvement of God in the world. The analogy of this belief is a clock as the Deism believer believes the world is like a clock made by a clockmaker but that clockmaker made the clock and has just left it ticking rather than attending to it’s ongoing daily running.

This second section of Psalm 104 verses 10 – 18 puts down the idea of Deism as it presents that the creator God did not only wonderfully create this world but he also keeps it going or continually sustains it and is intimately involved in its day to day functions.

Verses 10 – 13a speak of the creator God sustaining all of nature and the animals on a day-to-day basis. Lets have a close look at each of these three and half verses.

In verse 10 the writer of Psalm 104 continues to speak about water but now how God provides water continually on the earth,

“He makes springs poor water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains”.

 The writer sees God as the God who provides water on the earth and as I said before it is water that helps make both life possible and also helps to sustain it. From time to time different areas of the earth suffer water deprivation, which we call droughts or famines, but sometimes these are caused by the sinfulness of man affecting the climate or in the case of famine the miss – use of the soil and land.

Sometimes God withholds the provision of water because of the sinfulness of a group of people like we see in Amos 4: 7 -8,

“I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away.

I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up. People staggered from town to town for water but did not get

enough to drink, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord”.

Yet God does not always cause drought on all sinful people which is evidence of his grace or love we do not deserve as Jesus speaks of in Matthew 5: 45,

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”.

So the first argument against Deism is that God is involved in this world providing rain or the lack of it on a day-to-day basis.

Then in verses 11 and 12 we read of some of the reasons why God provides water in the form of rivers and streams for this world on a daily basis,

“They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches”.

The Psalmist singles out a small group of animals to say that God provides water for all animals on a daily basis. It is an interesting fact that up to 90% of all living organism’s on earth, including humans is made up of water. Water then is an important key to human life on earth and we have to take it with us when we leave this earth as so far drinkable water is only found on earth.

Then in verse 14 the Psalmist points out that God continually supplies water in the form of rain for the whole earth to help satisfy this worlds need for it and this is a fruit or evidence of God’s goodness for the entire earth,

“He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work”.

Note again the ancients believed that in the higher atmosphere is a large storage chamber of rainwater that God uses to water the earth.

We no that no such chambers exist but God uses the process of water evaporation from the earth and sea to seed the clouds to send down rain but this process is a creation of God and he also creates the climatic conditions for this process to happen or not happen.

I like Spurgeon’s comments on this verse, which says,

“The result of the divine working is fullness everywhere, the soil is saturated with rain, the seed germinates, the beast’s drink, and the birds sing– nothing is left without supplies. So, too, is it in the new creation, he giveth more grace, he fills his people with good, and makes them all confess, “of his fullness have all we received and grace for grace.”

Finally in the opening phrase of verse 14 we read,

“He makes grass grow for the cattle”.

Cattle are the last animal named helped by the provision of water and this is because these animals have a direct bearing on God’s provision for mankind. Cattle since the fall of man have always provided sustenance for man and it is incorrect to suggest that the bible advocates a vegetarian diet for man. Not to say being a vegetarian is a bad thing but people who choose to or are forced to not eat meat must make sure they eat non meat products that substitute the place of mainly protein in our diet that God has made our bodies dependant on for good health by consuming meat.

  1. (14b – 15)   The sustainer of man

 As I said before the link between God providing foods for man through his ongoing sustaining work of providing water to the earth is how water helps grass to grow for cattle to eat and therefore thrive and cattle provide a major food group for mankind.

Now in the second half of verse 14 God’s provision of water for this world is related to mankind directly. We read in verse 14b,

“And plants for man to cultivate – bringing forth food from the earth”.

 The other major food source for mankind is found in plants which mankind for a long time has cultivated but note the link to this and God which is God continually supplies water for cultivation which brings forth food from the earth.

Psalm 65 seems to be a Psalm of David written for some kind of harvest festival celebration and a more detailed description of God’s bountiful provision in agriculture is spelt out in verses 9 – 13 in which God is like a divine gardener intimately involved in helping mans crops to grow and bear fruit,

You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
11 You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. 13 The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing”.

I have a very popular Psalm talk on Psalm 65 called “Praise the Lord of the Harvest” if you want a detailed exposition of these verses.

Then we read in verse 15,

“Wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart”.

 The three provisions of God here represent the main needs of man, with wine also a substitute for water in ancient times, oil for cooking and cleaning thus the reference to “his face shinning” and bread the basic food stuff of most cultures even today. All of these provisions are presented in a positive light as wine gladdens the heart, oil makes the face to shine and bread sustains the heart. This means that God’s day to day provisions make our lives flourish and we should thank God constantly for them.

What might seem mundane to some, namely our daily provision of food Jesus felt that this was so important that he included a request for it in his model prayer often called the Lords prayer, Matthew 6: 11,

“Give us today our daily bread”.

 Those who are suffering hunger in our world today need our help, support and prayer and we can do this through overseas aid organisations. Sometimes we have the opportunity I helping people in the poorer parts of this world directly. On my many mission trips to South East Asia I have given money for the purchase of pigs and land and equipment to grow rice, which has a far bigger impact than an occasional meal handout. I can recommend TEAR Fund, which is an organisation that seeks to help hungry people in our world in this way and also presents to them the life changing Gospel message.

  1. (16 – 18)   The sustainer of trees and birds

The writer of Psalm 104 then speaks of God’s provision of other aspects of nature not necessarily associated with food for animals and particularly animals and plants that provide food for mankind. He picks up three wonderful aspects of our natural world trees or forests and birds who find their homes in them and other animals rarely seen and therefore not eaten like wild goats and badgers.

These aspects of our natural world are their for us to enjoy for their beauty and wonder and it seems our writer has a special part of his part of the world in mind here, namely the forests in Lebanon as we read in verse 16,

“The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted”.

 I looked up an article on Wikipedia on the Cedars of Lebanon, which are mentioned in the bible in a number of places, and I discovered that,

“Their timber was exploited by the Phoenicians, Israelites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, and Turks. The wood was prized by Egyptians for shipbuilding; the Ottoman Empire used the cedars in railway construction” (Wikipedia article “Cedars of God”).

 Even in the First World War these beautiful trees were cut down to be used as railway sleepers.I also read that what is left of the Cedar forests of Lebanon is now a world listed heritage site and the Cedar tree forests are making a come back as excessive exportation of this natural resource has finally ceased.

The Cedar of Lebanon are known as the Cedars of God or Cedars of the Lord and maybe our verse 16 of this Psalm has helped develop this title for this beautiful tree. So it appears that God is a divine conservationist as he is the one who created the world of nature and of course this verse says that he is the one who seeks to maintain it.

Then in verse 17 the writer switches to birds that make their nests in trees like the Cedars of Lebanon,

“There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the pine trees”.

 I know of many Christian ministers in my past who were avid bird watchers and my country of Australia is world renowned for a great variety of tuneful colourful birds. In fact where I live, the Blue Mountains 70kl. West of Sydney has many wonderful examples of these birds. I can look outside my study window and often see a variety of colourful parrots, native pigeons and birds like the tuneful Kookaburra. My area has such a variety of birds because like ancient Lebanon it has large forest areas where birds can nest and feed.

All this is in place because God created the environment and animal life to live in it and also because God continues to provide the means to sustain it on a day-to-day basis. However it seems sometimes that sinful man seeks to work against God’s natural world provisions through exploration and even wilful vandalism of God’s natural world. Again this is why Paul speaks of the natural world groaning in Romans 8: 19 – 21,

“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time”.

But God continues to sustain this world with his undeserved love expressed in the provision of things like rain on the just and the unjust as Jesus pointed out.

So God continues to give sinful man a beautiful world but often sinful men and women abuse this world and take God’s provision of it for granted and worse again many seek to deny both God as the creator and sustainer of this world by simply saying he doesn’t even exist.

 Finally our writer takes us poetically into the high often-unreachable parts of the mountain area in Lebanon with the words,

“The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the coneys”

 Coneys are apparently wild badgers and these animals would have been rarely seen and were not part of the food chain for the people of our writer’s day. So even these unseen areas and animals were created by God and are provided for by him. There are a lot of examples in nature of animals and plants etc. that are either never seen or rarely seen but these also are part of God’s wonderful creation he has made for us to enjoy and we should praise him for this like our writer is obviously seeking to do.

  1. (19 – 30) PRAISE THE RULER OF CREATION

1.  (19 – 23)   The ruler and creator of the day and seasons

The writer of Psalm steps up his creation images for praise of its creator who not only created the day and seasons but rules the natural world through them. Many commentators refer to Genesis 1: 3 which speaks of God creating day and night through the creation of Sun and moon to mark day and night and this seems obvious from what we read in verse 19 and 20,

“The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. You bring darkness, it becomes night, all the beasts of the forest prowl”.

 Without the sun we would not only have no life we would be in total darkness so the sun is God’s way of shinning light on this world. God provides the light of the world in more ways than one as he, through his Son Jesus Christ gives us spiritual light to light our spiritual blindness or darkness. Speaking of Jesus as the word of God who created the world John goes to say this about Jesus in John 1: 3 – 5,

“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”.

This means God rules both the day and night through the sun, which he created and maintains. He rules the seasons as well which the Jews marked many of their special festivals and rituals by the cycle of the moon. The Jewish Passover is 15 days after the new moon in either late March or April, which also guides Christians to the date, who mark Easter by the first Sunday after the full moon at the same time of the year. A Jewish article on a Jewish web site called Chabod.com says this about the Jewish calendar and its relationship to the cycle of the moon,

“The Jewish calendar normally consists of twelve lunar months. A lunar month—from the moment when the crescent new moon appears until it disappears once again—is roughly 29.5 days. Twelve lunar months equal 354 days, eleven days less than the solar year.”

 So no only humans are ruled by God through the movement of the sun and moon but also are the animals and this is what the words at the end of verse 20 is saying,

“It becomes night, all the beasts of the forest prowl”.

 This idea is continued in verses 21 – 22,

“The lion roar for their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens.”

 Many years ago my wife and I had a week’s holiday in Singapore and on one of the nights there we went on the night- time tour of the famous Singapore Zoo. We sat comfortably in a train like electric motor vehicle as it quietly moved through the Zoo at night and using ultra violet light invisible to animals we could see the animals in the Zoo at night. It was amazing as the animals in a Zoo during the day seem to be always sleeping but at night they are really active.

God designed animals like lions to be able to see things in the dark and using the cover of night catch the prey they need to eat to survive. I read a very interesting article on Lions in the bible on the Web page “Belief net” called “Aslans Ancestors” and the author of that article says this about lions in the bible in the opening two paragraphs,

“In one of the more memorable lines in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” the question is raised about whether Aslan, the lion in the story, is `safe.’ The reply is “No, he is not safe, but he is good.” This certainly fits the image of lions in the Bible.

 Of the dozens of biblical texts about lions, most remind us of the strength, fierceness, and roar of these predators. There were lions in Israel during biblical times, and shepherds, farmers and travellers seem to have encountered them most often. The lion often attacked flocks unexpectedly, and was ruthless and usually unstoppable. The roar of the lion was audible for miles, but he was deadly silent when in attack mode”.

 Lions often attacked flocks of sheep at night in bible times and therefore the shepherd would put the sheep in a sheep pen at night and sleep at its entrance as its gate which is the image Jesus refers to in John 10: 9,

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture”.

Jesus speaks of how he is the Good shepherd who lays his life down for the sheep and how when a wild animal like a wolf, another wild animal like a lion who hunts at night, comes to attack the flock he is not like the Shepherd who runs away but the Good shepherd who not only knows his sheep but will not let them out of his safe hands.

Then in verse 23 the writer turns from the night time activities of animals like the lions to the day time special creation of God, man and he goes out to work in the day to evening when it gets dark again,

“Then man goes out to his work, to his labour until evening”.

 The normal time for men and women to work is day- time and even today with modern lighting a smaller number of the working population work at night. I saw recently on TV a very interesting documentary on sleep and it went into the very tricky process of changing the human brain to fully accept working after the sun goes down.

Astronauts for instance have to spend days locked away from the real normal world to be able to trick their bodies into being able to fully work outside of the normal cycle of day and night. Night shift workers have a lot of trouble having a healthy sleep life as they often find that even though they are very tired they cannot sleep during the day.

God has made our minds and bodies to work during the day and sleep at night and this is the normal rhythm of life God ordained for human beings.

  1. (24 – 26)   The ruler and creator of the earth and sea

So we have just learnt that God the creator rules the day and night and all the seasons of the year based on the cycles of the moon by the ancient Hebrews but now in verses 24 – 26 we learn that God the creator rules the earth and the sea.

Verse 24 speaks of God the creator’s rule of the earth,

“How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures”.

 An internet sight called “factmonster.com” makes this amazing claim about the number of animal life on our earth,

“No one knows for sure how many species of animals exist on Earth. In fact, some 10,000 species of animals are discovered each year, with over one and a half million species already described. Projections for the total number of species on Earth range from 2 million to 50 million”.

So the number of God’s works particularly in the form of creatures or animal life is even unknown to modern science and even today new forms of creatures on earth are being discovered.

Verse 24 tells us that,

Lord! In wisdom you made them all”

 The book of proverbs that speaks in some detail about the wisdom of God says this about the wisdom of God in creation in Proverbs 3: 19,

“By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place”.

 In Proverbs 8: 22 – 31 God’s wisdom is personified and in some detail it, God’s wisdom” is the creative force and genius of everything in creation,

“The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; 23 I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be. 24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth, when there were no springs

overflowing with water; 25 before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, 26 before he made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the

earth. 27 I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, 28 when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, 29 when he gave the sea its boundary so the

waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.

30 Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind”.

This might be miss- understood as speaking of Jesus Christ but of course verse 23 that speaks of the birth of wisdom makes it clear this is not directly speaking of Jesus Christ, as he has always existed with the father in heaven. However Jesus is described in John 1 as the word of God who created all things so Jesus is God’s wisdom in that sense who created the earth, animals and all of creation.

Verses 25 and 26 feature God’s rule and creation of the sea,

“There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number – living things both large and small. There the ships go to and fro, and the Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there”.

Even though these verses do not say directly that God rules the sea it is implied because in the ancient world the sea was so vast and powerful. Pagan God’s had little or no control over the sea and the sea then represented chaos in our world and universe yet our writer of Psalm 104 speaks of the sea as God’s creation which is vast and spacious teeming with life which God has made.

Psalm 93 verses 3 and 4 make it clear that even the sea, which seems to rise up against even its creator, is well and truly under its creator’s control,

The seas have lifted up, Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea—the Lord on high is mighty”.

So the sea contains vast number of creatures still unnumbered and in recent years weird and amazing new aquatic animal life have been discovered in the depths of the sea that exist somehow at great depths in almost total darkness and their bodies glow to give them light.

Our God is an incredible creator that our oceans like our land are teeming with animals both large and small and this too should cause us to praise God. However even close to the surface and on the surface God’s creating force and rule of the sea can be witnessed. This is because the writer of Psalm 104 speaks of the ships on man going to and fro on our oceans and what many believe as whales, called “Leviathans” by our writer frolic in the ocean close to the surface.

The fact that human ships can float on the sea is part of God’s creation and the sea monsters here called “Leviathans” also are not any danger to the rule of God as they were formed by him and are described as simply frolicking in the sea as we know today large whales do.

The bible refers to the monster sea animals, “Leviathans” in a number of places like the book of Job, Job 41 and Isaiah 27: 1,

“In that day, the Lord will punish with his sword— his fierce, great and powerful sword— Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea”.

Here the sea monster is a poetic image of the Nations of the world that oppose him and his people Israel who will fall under God’s judgment and be punished by him. Tremper Longman 111 sheds light on the use of the “Leviathan” in Psalm 104: 26 with these words,

“In the bible the Leviathan, though formidable is controlled by God and is here presented as God’s creature which enjoys its God given habits in the sea”.

So God created and rules the sea and all that is in it and on it. Those who sail on the sea can experience great peril and danger when it is caused by storm and wind to rise up in anger and recently I sang in the church the hymn often called the seafarers hymn which the first verse says,

“Eternal Father, strong to save,

Whose arm restrains the restless wave,

Who told the mighty ocean deep

Its own appointed bounds to keep:

We cry, O God of majesty,

For those in peril on the sea”.

  1. (27 – 30)   The ruler and sustainer of all life

The last part of this third section of the Psalm makes it clear that the writer of Psalm 104 has been thinking of God’s rule of the sea and earth that he created. He speaks of this rule of God in three ways:

  1. God’s rule seen in his provision of food for all his creators (27- 28)
  2. God’s rule seen in how his creators rely on him for life (vs. 29)
  3. God’s rule seen in the power of his Spirits creative power (vs. 30)

Lets have a closer look at each of these three ways God’s rule of his creation is seen in his creators on earth.

  1. God’s rule seen in his provision of food for all his creators (27 – 28)

Already the writer of Psalm 104 has spoken of how God provides water for all his creators on earth including man in verses 11 – 19 and now he speaks in verses 27 – 28 how God rules this earth by providing all his creatures food to eat that gives them life,

“These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things”.

 We say grace before a meal as a way of thanking God for his provision of food for our bodies and verse 27 makes it clear that all animal life including man is dependant on God for their daily food. Jesus instructed us to include in our daily prayers a request to God for daily bread, Matthew 6: 11,

“Give us today our daily bread”.

I like the expression in verse 28 that says,

“They gather it up; when you open your hand”.

 Which reminds me of the old Negro Spiritual that simply says,

“You’ve got the whole world in your hands”.

 God has even our daily supply of food in his hands as he rules this world to make things grow and live that we eat on a daily basis. It is hard for those of us who live in a modern city world to often appreciate how dependant we are on God’s rule of the earth to help grow crops and provide food for animals we eat to live. Occasionally something happens in the natural world to remind us how the things that grow on farms supply the food we eat.

Some years ago Australia suffered the great damage of a cyclone destroying most of our Northern Australia banana crops and the price of bananas went from 1 or 2 dollars a kilo to $20 a kilo. We all complained and had a timely reminder of our dependants on farm products that of course rely on the blessing and rule of God to produce our food products. We should then always make sure we thank or praise God for his provision of our daily bread or food as Paul says in Ephesians 5: 20,

“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. 

  1. God’s rule seen in how his creators rely on him for life (vs. 29)

The example of the cyclone destroying much of the Australian banana crops is a good example of what I think verse 29 is speaking of,

“When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust”.

David Guzik writes,

“Creation is so dependent upon God that if He were to hide his presence or take away their breath, they would perish”.

When disasters like Cyclones or earthquakes etc. happen we are reminded how much we rely of the generally good grace or love of God in that when nature seems to turn on us we feel that God has hid his face for a time on us. Of course we need to always remember that God is in control not only in good times but in the bad or difficult times of life as well and hang on, by faith to a verse like Romans 8: 28,

“And we know that in all things God works for good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.

Many Christians have testified of the help God has given them in the worst of situations and can join with Paul in the words of another verse from Romans 8, verse 18, which says,

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us”.

God doesn’t ever fully hide his face or take away our breath generally speaking from this world, as it has not yet perished even though it has seemed to come close to that in times past.

God created this world and rules it by keeping it going even in the face of great opposition from his special creation namely man who Genesis 2: 7, describes was created by God in a special way.

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”.

So it is, because of sin that the final words of verse 29 become a reality for all men and women,

“They die and return to the dust”

Death it seems is not what man was made for but because of sin it is sadly the reality of man’s existence. As the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 9: 27,

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment”.

  1. God’s rule seen in the power of his Spirits creative power (vs. 30)

Verse 30 offers us hope in the face of death and decay,

“When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth”.

 I like the way the Jamieson, Faussel and Brown commentary explains the meaning of this verse,

“By His spirit, or breath, or mere word, He gives life. It is His constant providence which repairs the wastes of time and disease”.

 Generations of people pass but God’s powerful creative spirit raises yet anther new generation and the coming of God’s Spirit to renew life is totally fulfilled in the coming of God’s Holy Spirit to all true believers in Christ and what he has done for us on the cross.

God’s spirit brings about what Paul calls a new creation in the hearts and lives of all true believers in Christ as he writes in 2 Corinthians 5: 17,

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here”.

Earlier Paul says this about the Spirits work of regeneration and sanctification in the lives all true believers in 2 Corinthians 4: 16 – 18,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”.

Only yesterday my wife and I visited a large cemetery in Sydney to put some flowers on my mother – in – laws grave and the thought that one day I to will end up with some kind of grave crossed my mind but praise God through the death of his son on the cross and through the powerful work of God’s Holy Spirit my grave is not my end but only signifies my renewal of life from the face of the earth.

This thought, as it did for the writer of Psalm 104 should lead us to praise God always from deep within our hearts and lives.

  1. (31 – 35) FINAL PRAISE OF THE GLORIOUS CREATOR GOD

1. (31 – 34) The song of praise of the glorious creator God

The writer of Psalm 104 then proceeds to bring his praise of the created to a climax with what I feel is a song within a song. This because he does three things in verses 31 – 34 in the rhythm of the words of a song and these three things are:

  1. A rejoicing word of praise (31 – 32)
  2. A song of life long praise (vs. 33)
  3. A meditation of pleasing God praise (vs. 34)

Lets have a close look at each of these three things that represent his song of praise to his glorious creator God.

  1. A rejoicing word of praise (31 – 32)

The writer of Psalm 104 in verse 31 makes a determination to rejoice in praise to his great creator God, he writes,

“May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works”.

It is as though the writer is saying because of all the wonderful things you have done and shown us Lord in your creation may I now glory in your works of creation and I might add re-creation forever. This is the fate of all who call on the name of the Lord to be saved in that one day they will go to be with him to glory in him, praise him and rejoice with him in both who he is and what he has done in heaven and in earth for us as we read in Revelation 7: 9 – 12,

“ After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

 “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”

So in heaven God rejoices in his works of creation and re-creation and we will join all of heaven in glorifying and praising him for that as well. This is again the destiny of all true believers like the writer of Psalm 104 who goes on to describe this great creator God this way in verse 32,

“He looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke”.

I like Albert Barnes explanation of this verse,

“There is great sublimity in this expression, as indicating the power and the majesty of God. He has only to “look” upon his works, and they stand in awe and tremble. The most mighty and fearful convulsions of nature occur as if they were the mere effect of God’s “looking” on the earth”.

 The old King James Version of the bible translates Hebrews 10: 27 with these words,

“ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.

So for those who refuse to turn back to God in repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus will face a God that verse 32 says causes the earth to tremble and the mountains to smoke and that is indeed a fearful thing.

  1. A song of life long praise (vs. 33)

The writer of Psalm 104 then speaks of singing a song of praise, which I have called a song of life long praise he writes or sings in verse 33,

“I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live”.

David over and over again speaks of singing praises to his God like Psalm 13: 6,

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me”.

 Then in Psalm 66 verses 1 – 3 we read a psalmist which could have been David we are not sure giving us a much more detailed call to sing and praise the Lord,

“Shout for joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious. Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you”.

Music has been such a vital part of my life and so the idea of singing God’s praise all my life as the writer of Psalm 104 says, “As long as I live” really appeals to me. However the writer is not speaking about simply singing all our lives as that would be impossible but he is speaking more about praise and thanks to God being our constant attitude of life as Paul calls us to in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18,

 “Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

When we consider God’s work of creation in our wonderful world and re-creation in our daily lives we should want to but sing his praises in all circumstances as the writer of Psalm 104 determines to do in verse 33. 

  1. A meditation of pleasing God praise (vs. 34)

 The writer of Psalm 104 then completes his expression of his determination to praise God his glorious creator, who rules this word with these words in verse 34,

“May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord”.

 This verse in Psalm 104 reminds me of the last verse of David’s praise of the created psalm, Psalm 19 verse 14,

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer”.

Mark Virkler gives us an excellent summary of what the word or idea of meditation is in the bible with these words,

“Biblical meditationPrayerful reflection where you ask the Holy Spirit to illumine your understanding as Jesus did with the disciples on the Emmaus Road (Luke24:32). Meditation includes picturing, speaking, feeling and study. Meditation is the Holy Spirit using all faculties in man’s heart and mind”.

 So the writer of Psalm 104 wants to use all his facilities of his heart and mind to give God joyful praise that he hoped would be pleasing to God.

So the writer of Psalm 104 used what he read, saw and what he knew about God in nature to praise the Lord from deep within his heart or soul.

  1. (vs. 35a)   A plea to vanish sinners who spoil God’s creation

The first part of the final verse of Psalm 104 seems to be both jarring and out of place in a Psalm that is filled with wonderful words of praise for the glorious creator God. This, I believe is not a mistake but is quite intentional as the writer is dropping into his Psalm the one major negative aspect of this world, our sin, he writes,

“But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more”.

 Allen Harman writes,

“All that mars God’s creation is the presence of sin. So the psalmist prays for the removal of sinners, for they have no rightful place amidst the beauty of purity of God’s creation”.

 I have already mentioned the connection of mankind’s sin and the created world or nature that Paul makes in Romans 8 and because this is so important and instructive here, here is Pauls complete argument in verses 18 – 25,

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently”.

Note how Paul indicates that creation will not be released from the bondage of sin unto the children of God is revealed vs. 19 and unto our adoption to sonship in verse 23 which is of course speaking of the coming of Jesus to judge this world and take back to heaven all who belong to him, his children.

The problem with praying for all sinners to vanish from the earth lies in the truth Paul expresses so clearly in Romans 3: 23,

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

To do away with sinners then is to do away with everyone and this is why creation groans and longs for the day sin and sinners will be gone but the other wonderful truth found in Pauls words in Romans and even in Romans 8: 24,

For in this hope we were saved”

This hope in which we are saved is expressed so clearly in Romans 6: 23,

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

The writer of Psalm 104 is correct in seeing that mankind’s sin is the one thing in all of creation that mars it but for that to be fully dealt with Jesus has to return to do away with sin and sinners who have not turned to him in repentance and faith.

Of course those of us who are God’s children or those who are part of God’s family have a duty to show the world how God wants us to care for this world and help stop the exploitation and vandalism of this world and its bountiful resources.

The vision of what our existence will be like once Jesus has returned and sinners have been vanished from the earth is seen particularly in passages of scripture in the book of Revelation like Revelation 21: 1 – 4,

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth”, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

All I can add to this is, if you think this heaven and earth is gloriously beautiful then what is the new heaven and earth going to be like when sin and death is vanished and we are perfectly with God dwelling with him in what could only be described as paradise.

  1. (vs. 35b)   A final praise of the great creator God

The writer of Psalm 104 closes with excellent words of conclusion to his praise of the created in verse 35b.

“Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion”.

This world and its endless heavens are his works and as Psalm 19: 1 says, they declare his glory but we too are his works in the form of his new creation that he has brought about through his son’s death on the cross and the powerful regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. So we too must live to the praise and glory of God as Paul told the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 10: 31,

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”.

The writers final words are the same as his opening words,

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, Praise the Lord”

All I can say to this is Amen.

I close as usual with a original poem and a prayer.

PRAISE OF THE CREATED

(Based on Psalm 104)

I see the Lord in his splendor

Clothed in majestic light.

He sits up high up in heaven

I’ll praise him with my life.

O God you stretch out the heavens

Your glory is seen in the sky

And I will join the Angels

And praise the Lord up on high.

 

I see how God made the earth

So firm and so beautiful.

He made the sea and water

And all seems so bountiful.

O God you made the rivers

That gives life and quenches our thirst

And the birds now sing your praises

As does all life that that lives on earth.

 

I see how man has plenty

Of food so that he can live

This comes from God the creator

Whose hands so freely do give.

The mountains reveal God’s glory

In there forests many birds do sing

The moon and the sun make our seasons

And all nature gives praise to the king.

 

I see the ships on the ocean

Able to sail to and fro.

I see the whales as they frolic

All this is God’s power on show.

God gives us life through his spirit

But through sin to dust we do go

But in Jesus we will rise up to heaven

And there new life we will know.

 

I will praise God forever

Rejoicing in his glorious deeds..

He is a God so powerful

From him all wonder proceeds.

I will sing to the Lord all my life

A praise of the created I will be

For Jesus came down from glory

To die on the cross for me.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 Praise the Lord O my soul for all your wonderful works of creation in this world. O Lord you made the land and sea, animals and birds and this world we live in is teeming with your glorious life. I thank you for the provision of water to drink and food to eat but above all I thank you for your new creation in us through faith in your son Jesus Christ and what he did for us on the cross. Also I praise you for your Holy Spirits power who is re-creating our lives day by day and hour by hour. May we live to your glory as a praise of the created that will one day join the angels praise in heaven ever singing, “How great you are and how wonderful is your love to us through your Son Jesus Christ”, in whom whose name we pray this prayer, Amen

PSALM 103 TALK: PRAISE GOD FOR THE BENEFITS OF KNOWING HIM

PSALM 103 TALK: PRAISE GOD FOR THE BENEFITS OF KNOWING HIM

 (A Psalm that calls us to praise God for all the wonderful benefits of knowing him both personally and as his people, those who belong to his church who are all the true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ. We are to join with the Angels in heaven and all creation in heart felt thankful praise for our God and Savior Jesus Christ.)

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

 One of our two ministers of our church runs regularly a evangelistic program for non – believers called Christianity explained and he was telling us recently that in one of these courses a participant told him that he could see the truth and value of the Christian message. Thinking that this young man was now willing to turn to the Lord Jesus in faith and commitment he was surprised that the young man went on to say but I am not willing at this stage of my life to give up my way of life, my friends and the things I enjoyed in this life.

Many non – believers are like this young man see becoming a Christian or as some put becoming religious means giving up lots of things in life and to take on living a boring or unattractive life style. My answer to this is nothing could be further from the truth. Yes I might have had to give up a few things when I became a Christian like getting drunk or swearing or other things like that but my experience and the experience of all my Christian friends over the years is that I was given far more and greater things by God than I had to give up.

What are the benefits then of being a true believer of Christ?

Many of the answers to this important question is given in Psalm 103 and the key verse of this wonderful Psalm is verse 2,

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”.

 The Psalm then gives us many wonderful benefits of knowing God in our life, first from a personal point of view and then from a corporate or being in God’s kingdom or family point of view. I hope to open to you what these benefits of knowing the Lord are in this Psalm talk.

However before we launch into that I would like to make some basic background remarks to this Psalm. First of all the Psalms Hebrew heading says that this Psalm was written by King David,

“Of David”

 Reads the heading and yet we know that this Psalm is part of a collection of Psalms we call, the fourth book of Psalms put together some time after the return from exile from Babylon by the Jews probably around the time of the building of the second Temple in the early period of what is known as the Intertestamental period said to be around 400 years. The last prophet of the Old Testament is Malachi who wrote his prophecy around 420BC.

Most of the Psalms in the fourth book seem to reflect the return from exile or just before that. However Psalm 103 has a Hebrew heading telling us King David who lived around 600 years before this time wrote it.

The answer to this is that each of the collectors of the books of Psalms seemed to have researched for material for their new collections that were recently written but were written in the past but not yet part of any of the books of Psalms. Psalm 103 could have been a Psalm of David that their research found and therefore this Psalm was finally put into the book of Psalms in the fourth collection.

When did David write this Psalm?

We are not told the answer to this question but some commentators like Spurgeon put forward the argument that it was probably written by David late in his life as Spurgeon writes,

“Doubtless by David, it is in his own style when at its best, and we should attribute it to his later years when he had a higher sense of the preciousness of pardon, because a keener sense of sin, than in his younger days”.

 The Psalm starts with a call to praise God and concludes with a call for praise and what we have in – between is a wonderful catalogue of reasons or benefits for praising the Lord.

With this in mind my outline for this Psalm is:

  1. (1 – 5)   PERSONAL PRAISE

 

  1. (1 – 2)   A call for personal praise
  2. (3 – 5)   The benefits of knowing the Lord personally

 

  1. (6 – 18) CORPARATE PRAISE

 

  1. (6 – 13)   The benefits of knowing the Lord for his people
  2. (14 – 18) The nature of man contrasted with the nature of God

 

  1. (9 – 22) HEAVENLY AND UNIVERSAL PRAISE

 

  1. (19 – 20) Heavenly praise
  2. (21 – 22) Universal praise

  

  1. (1 – 5)   PERSONAL PRAISE

 

  1. (1 – 2)   A call for personal praise

 David starts with the call,

“Praise the Lord”

 I counted that nine other David psalms start with a call to praise sometimes using other words to do this like Psalm 66 saying “Shout with joy to God” and Psalm 30 saying, “I will exalt you, O Lord”. So David was keen to praise the Lord and also keen that others like us should join him in praise and worship the great God he trusted and believed in.

Paul in the New Testament was also keen on calling the followers of the Lord Jesus to praise their God and savior like Philippians 4: 4, using the words,

“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say again, Rejoice”.

 Note how Paul says, “always” and this is made even clearer in his call to praise God in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18,

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

 We know Paul practiced what he preached as we see him and Silas in prison in Philippi in acts 16 and verse 25, which says,

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening”.

 What impact this praising of God in a most difficult time had on the other prisoners we do not know but I could imagine they would have been at least scratching their heads wondering what on earth these two men where on to be so joyful in such a dark and terrible place like a first century prison cell.

David’s call for praise in verses 1 and 2 is a personal call because he uses the words,

“O my soul”

 twice and this expression Leupold says represents,

“His entire inner being”

 as the soul in the Old Testament represents our whole personality or our real self.

Why does David call on praise from his inmost being?

The answer lies in the final words of verse 2,

“And forget not his benefits”.

 As I said in the introduction many turn away from God and his message to them because they fear that if it is true and they are convinced to become believers in him they will some how miss out on enjoying life and become somehow trapped in a negative life of narrow thinking and boring living.

The reality is simply, for me, the opposite as it obviously was for David as he spoke of benefits for turning to the Lord and going his way in life. I can testify to the truth that the Christian life is not a life of giving up but rather is a life of taking up and has so many benefits.

Before we move into looking at these benefits of knowing the Lord as David will spell out in the rest of this Psalm I must warn against the false teaching of The Prosperity Gospel. The prosperity gospel or as it is also called, The health and wealth gospel of success teaches that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth.

“Got a question?” web page spells out even further this dangerous teaching with these words,

“The prosperity gospel, also known as the “Word of Faith,” the believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just the opposite—God uses the believer”.

Paul warned Timothy about this type of false teaching that was prevalent even in New Testament times with these words in 1 Timothy 6: 3 – 5,

”If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain”.

Paul goes on to speak of the danger and even the evil of the love of money in verses 6 – 10,

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many grief’s”.

Note Paul is not saying money is evil but the love of money and to preach or teach that turning to Christ and going his way will bring certain material gain is falling into the trap of not only miss – understanding the real benefits of knowing God but falling into the trap of loving money and not God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is true that many people who turn away from a sinful life to the Lord will often experience financial gain as a result mainly because they no longer throw their money away in corrupting activities like gambling or living for material things alone but this is a natural by product of the Christian life and not the essence of it.

I remember in my Bible College days going on a mission week in a very poor area of Sydney and speaking to the minister in the church I worked with and he told me that one of the problems he faced was keeping newly converted families in his church and area. He said that many who came to know the Lord in their lives and go his way soon found that their lives were cleaned up so much they were able to save money and also they no longer wanted to live in the slums they had been renting but rather they worked towards building a new home for themselves in a new outer area of the city so they soon moved away.

I would like to suggest that the benefits of knowing the Lord are far more deeper and richer than material gain and involve primarily spiritual benefits as we will see David speak of in the following verses. This kind of benefit is expressed beautifully in Paul’s words in Philippians 4: 12 – 13,

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.

  1. (3 – 5)   The benefits of knowing the Lord personally

So at the end of verse 2, David says that he wants to praise the Lord from deep within himself because he did not want to,

“Forget not all his benefits”

Now in verses 3 – 5 he spells out some of the wonderful benefits he experienced from the Lord and in verses 6 – 13 he speaks of the benefits all the people of God know from knowing the Lord in their lives.

I see 6 benefits in these verses:

  1. Forgives (vs. 3a)
  2. Heals (vs. 3b)
  3. Redeems (vs. 4a)
  4. Crowns (vs. 4b)
  5. Satisfies (vs.5a)
  6. Renews (vs. 5b)

Lets then have a closer look at each of these six benefits of knowing the Lord.

  1. Forgives (vs. 3a)

David starts with the fist benefit of knowing the Lord as forgiveness, he writes,

“Who forgives all your sins”

For the non – Christian this might not seem to be much of a benefit for they usually do not recognize they are sinners or that sin is a problem that they need any help with but as Tremper Longman 111 aptly points out,

“Sin creates a barrier between humanity and a holy God, but God will forgive the sin of a contrite heart”.

Longman quotes then from Psalm 51: 17, written by David who is confessing his great sins of adultery and murder to God and in doing so is seeking God’s forgiveness,

“The sacrifice of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise”.

Paul makes it clear that we all have a problem with sin when he writes in Romans 3: 23,

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

David knew what a life changing experience being forgiven of his sins could be when he found the complete forgiveness of God and even as he was finding that he writes in Psalm 51: 13,

“Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you”.

Jesus came for one great purpose and that was to die on the cross to win for us the forgiveness of sins as 1 Peter 3: 18 says,

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit”.

Of course we must repent of our sins to be able to accept the forgiveness God offers through Christ and his death for us as Jesus stresses in Luke 5: 31 – 32,

“Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

This week I read a request for prayer and advice on Face book by a young youth pastor who graduated from the same bible College I attended years ago who now is in the US working as a youth pastor in a church there and who is having problems by some local teens from the church refusing to come while he continues to teach the need for repentance as they believe there is no necessity for repentance for salvation because grace is free.

It is true that repentance alone does not save us as it is the death of Jesus on the cross that does that but to be able to receive God’s free gift of forgiveness we must first turn away from sin and turn to God and ask Jesus to forgive us and he will as John says in 1 John 1:8 – 9,

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.

Repentance also involves admitting we are sinners and need God’s forgiveness and this is a teaching found right through the New Testament and particularly in the Gospels and that was my advice to the young youth worker to take these young people through a Gospel in bible study like the Gospel of Mark.

How the forgiveness of sins is a great benefit is seen first and foremost in establishing a relationship with God which then has many wonderful benefits like meaning and purpose in life and inner peace which Paul speaks of in Philippians 4: 7,

“The peace of God, which transcends all understanding”

This makes God’s forgiveness a life changing benefit that cannot be qualified.

  1. Heals (vs. 3b)

We come then to probably the most controversial benefit David states he has in God which he expresses as,

“And heals all your diseases”

Taken on face value this seems to say believers in God will be healed of all diseases as a benefit of their faith in God. However we know that this simply does not happen in life as Christians have and will die of all sorts of diseases. The extreme charismatic Christians will argue that God does heal or cure all diseases if we have enough faith to believe so.

However this type of teaching puts the emphasis on our faith as the power and force that heals when the bible says that only God’s power heals as even this verse implies through the word “who” at the start of verse 3.

A good Christian friend of mine worked for many years with a extreme charismatic Christian who took the words of Isaiah in Isaiah 53: 5 literally when it says,

“”By his wounds we are healed”

The problem was this man, sadly suffered from an incurables illness that could be managed by modern medicine but he refused to take the medicine instead believing in this phrase from Isaiah 53: 5. As he got progressively sicker the man told my friend he was not healed because his faith was simply not good or big enough and he not only suffered physically but spiritually because of this incorrect teaching.

The truth is that in the context of Isaiah 53 the words,

”By his wounds we are healed”

Is referring to our spiritual state, our need for the healing of the soul sick with the consequences of sin as the first part of verse 5 says,

“But he was pieced for our transgressions he was crushed for our iniquities”.

So returning to the second benefit David speaks of namely,

“And heals all your diseases”

I go for the interpretation of this phrase that commentators like John Gill opt for as he says in these words,

“Spiritual diseases, or soul maladies, are here meant; the same with “iniquities” in the preceding clause”.

 It is sin, the great disease of the heart of every man and women that David is speaking of healing from here. Not that God cannot and does not heal a Christian of a serious disease for his glory to be declared to our world but all physical diseases always healed by God for the believer is not what David is speaking of here in Psalm 103 verse 3.

The benefits of this spiritual disease being healed, the disease of sin in the soul does have many outcomes and amazingly many physical diseases are healed when a person comes to Christ as they turn away from sins like drunkenness or sexual immorality.

Turning away from these sinful activities can commence physical healing as that person comes to Christ and stops or at least begins to stop such soul and body destroying activities.

Paul says this about the effect of truly coming to Christ in 2 Corinthians 5: 17,

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come”. 

  1. Redeems (vs. 4a)

The third benefit of personally knowing God in our lives is in verse 4a,

“Who redeems your life from the pit”

Some commentators have suggested that this could mean the writer, who we believe is David is speaking of literally being saved from death or “pit” and pit is usually a term for the grave in the Old Testament. However this also could be more in the spiritual sense that through God’s forgiveness of sins his cure of our spiritual diseased soul’s will save him from the grave or pit a fate that comes to all men and women. He is redeemed or God has paid the debt that sins brings because of it, as we will see later in the great statement of God’s in verses 11 and 12.

This would be in line with what Paul says in Romans 6: 23,

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Many might argue that David writing in the Old Testament could not have had such a great hope in being redeemed by God from death but David declares in Psalm 23: 6,

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.

Even other writers of the Psalms had a sure hope like David of life beyond the grave, like the Son of Korah who wrote in Psalm 49: 15,

“But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself”.

This is a very similar thought to what David wrote in this verse in Psalm 103.

We of course have a much surer hope of eternal life through the redemptive work of God’s son Jesus Christ and this hope after death comes wonderfully through a verse like John 5: 24,

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life”.

Jesus made it very clear that he came to redeem us from our sins and we see this in a verse like John 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.”

  1. Crowns (vs. 4b)

David then uses a beautiful and powerful image to convey the benefits of God’s love and compassion for a true believer, that of a crown, he writes,

“And crowns you with love and compassion”

 Albert Barnes best unlocks this poetic image of being crowned with these words,

“The idea here is not merely that God is the source of these blessings, but that there is something of beauty, of dignity, of honor, as in the conferring of a crown or garland on anyone”.

 David as king was crowned to become king and all kings and queens have all through history had the same thing done to them but here God crowns us with his love and compassion. We are so special to God that he treats us all as his crowned kings and queens.

The New Testament goes much further than this as it speaks of all true believers not just being crowned by God through Christ but reigning with him in heaven, 2 Timothy 2: 12,

 “If we endure, we will also reign with him”.

Also Revelation 20: 6,

“Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him”.

 How can this be a benefit for a person who knows the Lord?

Well it is of course a great future hope but it also has many implications for us now in this life. Mainly it means we know a God in our lives who really loves and cares for us and like a king or queen we are treated with special attention and blessings if we turn in repentance and faith to him.

Here is just one more New Testament passage that speaks of our future hope in Christ having impact on our lives today, it is found in Pauls special prayer to God for the Ephesians in Ephesians 1: 15 -23,

“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 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. 22 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”.

What glorious benefits we enjoy through the love and compassion of God through his son Jesus Christ he truly has crowned us with his love and many blessings. These blessings are far more valuable and everlasting than earthly riches or fame and those who cheapen the benefits of knowing the love of God with the false promise of earthly riches are sadly not only wrong but are leading many to miss out on the far more wonderful riches we have in Christ.

  1. Satisfies (vs.5a)

The personal benefits we have in knowing God continue to roll on in verse 5 and in verse 5a we read these words,

“Who satisfies your desires with good things”

This benefit of satisfaction again must be viewed in spiritual terms as all other benefits so far have been. Spurgeon puts it this way,

“No man is ever filled to ratification but a believer, and only God himself can satisfy even him. Many a worldling is satiated but not one is satisfied’.

People seek after earthly riches and in my country people are bombarded with the message that material riches will make them really happy or satisfied in life. People spend hundreds of dollars a year on lotto or other get quick rich activities but the sad reality is many so called rich happy people are still miserable even in their fancy houses, cars and boats.

Many years ago I visited on behalf of a church I was working for a very rich resident of that area. This family was one of the original landowners of that part of Sydney and their family name is linked with a famous person in the early colony of Sydney. The women who now owned that property with her husband sat me down with a nice cup of tea in what I could only describe as a mansion. My eyes were popping out my head as I drank my tea and as I looked around. Then the lady who owned the house said to me, “You might think owning this house and having the famous name we have would bring you happiness but let me tell you honestly they have only given me and my husband nothing but unhappiness”.

God satisfies us deeply and that satisfaction is not built on material things like lots of money, houses, boats etc. but is the deep and wonderful satisfaction of the soul as we read of in Psalm 107: 9,

“For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things”

And as Jesus says in John 6: 35,

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never go thirsty”.

Jesus is clearly speaking of spiritual hunger and thirst as he was speaking against people who wanted him to continue to give them physical food like he had just done in the feeding of the five thousand people.

This spiritual hunger is what the rich lady in that suburb of Sydney I visited years ago is speaking of.

Even if it seems that earthly riches has given someone earthly happiness we know that this so called happiness is very temporary as Jesus pointed out in the parable of the rich fool, Luke 12: 18 – 20,

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

Jesus goes on to say in the next verse,

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God”.

The old saying is “you cannot take it with you” applies for those who think, earthly riches is the road to real happiness and satisfaction.

No the real benefit of knowing God is that deep and inner peace Paul spoke of in Philippians 4: 7,

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

This peace translates into Paul’s statement of his satisfaction later in that same letter a few verses on, 11 – 13,

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.

This promise of real and deep spiritual satisfaction is yet another point of praise we should offer to God every day of our lives.

  1. Renews (vs. 5b)

Finally David rounds off these benefits of knowing the Lord personally with these words in vs. 5b,,

“So that your youth is renewed like the eagle”.

I am no longer considered a “Youth” as I am now considered a senior citizen and if David wrote this Psalm later in his life as some commentators have suggested then he too is writing these words as a senior citizen of Israel.

So what is David saying when he speaks of his youth being renewed by God?

To understand this we must yet again remind ourselves that these words come from the Psalms, which are poetry so we cannot interpret them literally. All the ideas in this phrase from the Psalm are poetic images and must be interpreted likewise.

So the first poetic image is,

“Your youth is renewed”

This is not hard to interpret as we all look to our younger days as the days we had vitality, energy and life. At a recent bible study, which is full of people my age and older one lady speaking about being old said, “I am a 18 year old trapped in a 80 year old body”. Its true I don’t see myself as being old and I am the same person in many ways as I was at 18 but I am now in my late 60’s.

However even though God cannot take us back to enjoy the young bodies we had at 18 he can and does, spiritually, promise to renew us like being young again in our souls. Like another Psalmist named Asaph asked in his chorus for his song, Psalm 80 in verses 3, 7 and 19,

“Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved”.

Spiritual restoration is the great theme of Psalm 80 and I think what David is asking for in verse 5b in Psalm 103 is spiritual restoration with the words,

“So that your youth is renewed”

He wants his faith and commitment in God to be strong and vital again like our bodies are at 18. However like the song says, “I wish I knew what I know now, when I was younger”, I would not swap my knowledge and wisdom with any 18 year old any day. I believe God has made his church full of people who are both young and old as together we can achieve so much. The younger have the drive and enthusiasm and the older members have the wisdom and knowledge.

Then David makes it clear what he wants with the second poetic image that says,

“Like the eagle”

All of the commentators I read spoke of the eagle being in Old Testament times a symbol of strength and vitality and this again I believe is spiritual strength and vitality and is expressed so well in the famous reference to a eagle in Isaiah 40: 30 and 31,

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.

Maybe Isaiah knew David’s Psalm and gained inspiration from it but he speaks of youth as well as gaining renewed strength from God like a souring eagle so magnificent in flight.

Maybe there is a hint of physical renewal in both references and as I referred to earlier when you feel like an 18 year old trapped in an 80 years old body maybe physical renewal of any kind is just what you really desire.

The discussion at the bible study of seniors I attended when what it feels like to be old or aging was discussed a very encouraging sharing of the promise of God in the New Testament of a new body. And new body given to us when we rise in the great resurrection when Christ returns which Paul describes this way in 1 Corinthians 15: 50 – 55,

“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

 For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”[

This is a great benefit and hope not only for aging people with frail sickly bodies but anyone who’s body is failing at any age as we all will be given new and wonderful bodies in heaven and that is something we all should praise God for.

  1. (6 – 18) CORPARATE PRAISE
  1. (6 – 13)   The benefits of knowing the Lord for his people

So David has listed in three short verses six wonderful personal benefits of knowing the Lord which he says we should praise the Lord for from the depths of our being, and now he moves to speak of six benefits we have as God’s people, the church that we should also praise God for.

These six benefits God gives his people, Israel –the Church are:

  1. Works righteousness and justice (vs. 6)
  2. Makes known his ways (vs. 7)
  3. Treats us with compassion and grace (vs. 8)
  4. Does not treat us as we deserve (verses 9 and 10)
  5. Loves us with a immeasurable love (verses 11 – 12)
  6. Loves us like a father loves his children (vs. 13)

Lets now have a closer look at each of these six wonderful benefits God gives his people.

  1. Works righteousness and justice (vs. 6)

Before we launch into the benefits of God’s people knowing the Lord I must first say that I believe that when I speak about God’s people I not talking about ancient Israel alone or even the Jews today but rather because of what Jesus did on the cross for people of every and any nation I am talking about God’s people in Christ, his church.

A key passage that sets up this way of seeing who God’s people are is 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”.

Paul had to write to the Galatians as they were yet another church that was under attack from probably well meaning Jewish Christians who wanted the non- Jewish believers to adopt the Jewish laws and traditions as well as believing in Christ for salvation. Paul rightly saw the error of these Jewish Christians as what I call the Jesus plus way of salvation when it is Jesus alone that saves us as Jesus clearly teaches in John 14: 6,

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

Paul and other disciples of Jesus like John and Peter knew that the only way we are saved into God’s family or Kingdom is through Jesus death and resurrection. If Paul and the early disciples had not fought this battle in the first century the Christian church or even its saving Gospel message would have been lost and Christianity would have just been swallowed up into Judaism as a forgotten religious oddity of the first century.

So we along with Jews and any other person from any other nation who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are as Paul calls in Galatians 6: 16, The Israel of God,

“Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God”.

Some Christian commentators refuse to believe that Paul in this verse is not speaking of the church as “The Israel of God” but Jewish converts but to argue this is to argue against the whole central message of the letter to the Galatians that we are all now in God’s kingdom or family because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone no matter what nation of earth we claim to belong to even the Jewish nation.

So the first benefit of belonging to God’s family or Kingdom is found in verse 6,

“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed”.

God working righteousness and justice for his people, which David calls, “the oppressed” is seen right through the bible and even in what Jesus did for us on the cross. Jesus died for our sins on the cross for those who put their faith and trust in him and this act of righteousness and justice, as Jesus paid for our sins, opened up a way for us into heaven. It also caused the defeat of Satan the oppressor as we see in John 12: 31 – 32,

“ 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.”

We see God working righteousness and judgement for his people the oppressed in the account of God freeing his people, Israel from slavery in Egypt where the oppressor, Pharaoh is defeated like Satan is defeated by Jesus on the Cross to free all men and women who are slaves to sin if they turn and accept his offer of forgiveness for their sins through Christ and his death for them.

This great escape from Egypt we will see is in David’s mind as he wrote Psalm 103 in the next benefits God’s people enjoy and should praise God for.

  1. Makes known his ways (vs. 7)

In verse 7, David makes it clear he has Moses and the exodus from Egypt and the giving of the law soon after that at Mt Sinai in mind with the words,

“He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel”

Maybe David even has a particular event in mind here that happened at Mt Sinai recorded in Exodus 33: 13,

 “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

God answers Moses request with the 10 Commandments and all the laws God gives Moses for the ancient people of Israel. These laws become a major part of God’s word to us, “his ways” and so the great benefit for God’s people in this verse is the very word of God.

Peter makes it clear that what men like Moses brought to us in declaring God’s ways or word was not the will of man but the will of God inspired by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 20 – 21,

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”.

The greatest of revelations from God when he makes known his ways is of course the word of God become flesh, as John puts it in John 1: 14,

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

God’s word that teaches us God’s ways then is a wonderful benefit we have from knowing the Lord and we should praise him continually for that from the depths of our being daily.

  1. Treats us with compassion and grace (vs. 8)

David with the people of Israel at the foot of Mt Sinai in mind now draws on famous words spoken by God in Exodus 34: 6 – 7a,

“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, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin”.

This is a special revelation of God given to Moses as God passed before him as he hid his face from the spectacular glory of God.

So in verse 8 of Psalm 103 David writes,

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love”.

 This is the unique characteristic of the God of the bible so much unlike the alternative human inspired religious view of God that sees God as something other than a God of love.

Ancient Israel had no right to claim they deserved God’s love because even as Moses first went to the Mount Sinai to represent them before God they had turned away from the God of the bible and set up a golden calf to worship instead of the great yet invisible God of the entire universe.

Yet God continued to love them and the key word in this verse that presents the fourth great benefit of knowing the Lord is the word, “graciousness”.

Allan Harman writes,

“His grace gives them what they do not deserve – unmerited favour”.

 The grace of God is seen so clearly in the act of God in the New Testament in sending his only son into the world to die for our sins on the cross and Paul spoke heaps about this in all of his letters like Ephesians 1; 6 – 9,

“To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,

In Ephesians 2 Paul makes it clear that we have been saved and are part of God’s people, the church not because of anything we have done but because of the grace of God alone, Ephesians 2: 4 – 10,

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 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. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.

So the fourth benefit we have through knowing God in our lives is his love and grace which also should cause us to praise God from our inner most being every day of our lives.

  1. Does not treat us as we deserve (verses 9 and 10)

David still has, I believe the words of Exodus 34: 6 – 7a in mind in verses 9 and 10 and particularly the words of verse 7a that says,

“Forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin”.

Maybe he has his own experience of God in mind as well when he writes in verses 9 and 10,

“He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities”.

 Remember David had committed adultery and murder and both these sins deserved death yet David turned to God in repentance and faith and was forgiven so God did not harbor his anger towards David and did not deserve or repay him according to his great iniquities.

All through Israel’s history the bible presents this amazing fact that even though they continually failed to truly trust and believe in God and in fact often committed great sin or iniquities God’s anger did not last and he took his people back out of his love and compassion for them.

Such is the love of God that he was willing to send his only son into the world to pay for all our iniquities as the great prophet foretold in Isaiah 53: 4 – 5,

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed”.

This too is yet another great benefit we have in knowing the Lord in our lives that deserves great praise.

  1. Loves us with a immeasurable love (verses 11 – 12)

David returns to the great benefit of the love of God and attempts to describe its dimensions with the words of verses 11 and 12,

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us”.

The measure David has for God’s love is immeasurable as it is as high as the heavens are from the earth and we know today that the heavens or space is endless. As far as east is from west which again is another poetic picture of endlessness or infinity. God’s love is as the old children’s chorus puts it,

Wide, wide as the ocean

High as the heavens above,

Deep, deep as the deepest sea

Is my Saviours love.

The chorus goes on to say:

I am so unworthy

Still I am a child of his care

For his word teaches me

That his love reaches me

Everywhere.

Paul speaks of this vast and wonderful love of God in Ephesians 3: 17 – 19,

“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.

David knew this deep and wide love of God and his experience of particularly being forgiven by God for the sins of adultery and murder. This gave David experiential knowledge of the benefits of knowing the great and wonderful love of God which he never stopped thanking God for throughout his life.

  1. Loves us like a father loves his children (vs. 13)

Finally David gives a sixth great benefit of his people, the people of God knowing God in their lives and is expressed this way in verse 13,

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him”.

David uses a real and familiar poetic image of how God loves his people who fear or who show reverence to him namely the relationship of a father to a son. David loved his son Absalom so much that even after his son had turned against him and even tried to destroy him and the rest of his family David still loved him.

We see this in the description of David’s reaction to the death of his son Absalom in 2 Samuel 18: 33,

“The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”

David knew first hand how he still loved his son Absalom was disobedient and hateful to him but he also knew that God’s love for him and his people was far greater than a human’s fathers love for his children and Albert Barnes describes it this way,

“An infinitely higher degree, is the compassion – the kindness – which God has for those that love him”.

 Jesus told a wonderful parable about a fathers infinite love for his lost son in Luke 15 and the fathers reaction and words to his lost sons return mirror the love God has for us when we turn around to truly believe in him, Luke 15: 22 – 24,

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate”.

Such is God’s love for us that we read in the famous verse, John 3: 16,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

Jesus makes it clear that not only is God like a father to us, he is now our heavenly father and we should addressing as such as he says in the Lords prayer in Mathew 6: 9,

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”.

Finally Paul taught that this benefit of knowing God is made possible by the work of the Holy Spirit in the true believers heart in Romans 8: 15 – 17,

“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.[a] 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”.

So we have seen now twelve great benefits of knowing the Lord but note David has emphasized that these benefits belong to those who “fear him” vs. 11, 13, 17, obey his precepts vs. 18 and obey his word vs. 20. So these benefits are only for those who seek to serve and obey the Lord who they now fear or revere.

  1. (14 – 18) The nature of man contrasted with the nature of God

This list of 12 benefits of knowing the Lord, six personal and six corporate is then brought to a end with five verses about the nature of God and man. Why this comes after the benefits of knowing the Lord are presented is found I believe in the opening words of verse 14,

“For he knows”

 We might say for God knows just what we are like especially compared to him and this is a reason why he as decided to give us these benefits out of his love for us.

We might decide to hold the hand of our young children as they walk along side a busy road because we know what they are like as little children or we might stop ourselves watching a type of movie or television show because we know what we are like because that type of movie or show has a bad or negative influence on us. So God shows us love and grace and is slow to anger because he knows what we are really like.

So what does David say God knows about us to give us his benefits of love and grace?

These five verses 14 – 18 tell us two things God’s knows about us in contrast to one contrasting thing about him and then finally confirms his love for those who obey his precepts or law or word.

So in this second part of the second section of this Psalm we will look at:

  1. How we are made of dust (vs. 14)
  2. How we are mortal beings (vs. 15 – 16)
  3. How God is immortal (vs. 17a)
  4. How God loves us because of this (vs. 17b – 18)

Lets have a close look at each of these four things:

  1. How we are made of dust (vs. 14)

God loves us first of all because of what we are, namely weak mortal beings made from dust. I looked up on Wikipedia the trace elements of the human body and this is what it said,

Almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Only about 0.85% is composed of another five elements: potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. All 11 are necessary for life. The remaining elements are trace elements, of which more than a dozen are thought on the basis of good evidence to be necessary for life. All of the mass of the trace elements put together (less than 10 grams for a human body) do not add up to the body mass of magnesium, the least common of the 11 non-trace elements.

 All these elements are found in the earth so when verse 14 of this Psalm says,

For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust”.

This verse is speaking about a fact even science today speaks of but of course much of science does not agree that it was God who Genesis 2: 7,

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”

Science might not recognize this but God knows how he made us and David says God remembers how he made us and he knows what we are like, weak, frail and fragile beings.

  1. How we are mortal beings (vs. 15 – 16)

With the first idea of our makeup in mind David goes on to speak of how because we are dust we are mortal beings with a very limited life span, verses 15 – 16,

“As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more”.

God sees that we are made from dust and then he places in David’s mind because of this we live very short fragile lives. We have seen before this image of man being like grass in Psalm 37: 2, 90:5, 102: 11 and it is used also in Isaiah 40: 6 and again in the New Testament in 1 Peter 1: 24- 25. This image of grass is used in the Old Testament and the New for the fleeting nature of grass, which in the hot dry Middle East climate is gone very quickly especially when a hot dry wind blows over it.

Life does seem short and I can appreciate this especially now when I am in my late sixties. I have now seen many peoples passing some after 70 to 80 years others much shorter than that. My view is that if there is no God and hope therefore after death than life is really just a cruel short not so funny joke.

However God sees the shortness of our lives and in the next verse we will see he loves us and brings us hope in face of life’s fleeting shortness.

  1. How God is immortal (vs. 17a)

Before we see the hope God has for us we have at the start of verse 17 a statement about the nature of God compared to us,

“But from everlasting to everlasting”

God is not like us he is from everlasting to everlasting or he is eternal he has existed and he will always exist. This was the revelation Moses had of God at the burning bush in Exodus 3: 14 when God revealed his special name to Moses which states his special unique nature,

 “God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

Jesus because he shares in the nature of the complex God head also has this characteristic of eternity and this is why in Johns Gospel seven times he refers to himself with the title, “I am” and this is what is meant by what John says about Jesus in Revelation 1: 8,

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the almighty”.

I think one of the problems current modern thinking has about God creating the universe is they limit their thinking to only the material world and dismiss God as just a oversize man who is a myth. God is beyond this physical whelm and is different than man as he is eternal, he is immortal whie we are mortal and he had no beginning while we had a beginning and in this life a end.

  1. How God loves us because of this (vs. 17b – 18)

Then we see the hope in face of our mortality and shortness of life in the words of verse 17b and 18,

“The Lord’s love is with those who fear him. And his righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts”.

David gives his own quote of God’s promise of his covenantal love from Exodus 20: 6,

“ But showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandment”.

David knew his bible and I imagine as King he would have had total access to all of the scrolls that contained what was considered God’s word up to the time of his life as king almost 1,000 years before the coming of God’s word becoming flesh in the person of Jesus Christ.

From the first five books of the bible also known as the Torah, or law to Jews like David, David knew the great hope God offered in his covenant of love. He knew that this promise of God’s love was only for those who feared and obeyed the Lord. This promise of God’s love for generation to generation gave his short fragile life hope and meaning.

We have a greater promise of God’s love and the book of Hebrews has much to say about the greater hope of new covenant and we see something of this in Hebrews 7: 22 – 25,

“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”.

Note in this reference the greater value and permanence of this new covenant because of who Jesus is and what he has done for us. The writer of the book of Hebrews brings to a end his thoughts on the New Covenant Jesus has brought to us with these concluding remarks about it in Hebrews 13: 20 – 21,

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen”.

  1. (9 – 22) HEAVENLY AND UNIVERSAL PRAISE

David completes his list of personal and corporate benefits with this reminder of God’s promise of covenant love and he is saying because of all these benefits God has given us we should praise and worship God with all of these things in our minds and hearts.

Now he looks beyond himself and his people or Nation to heaven itself and then all of creation for even more praise for this great God of love and grace. So we will now look at David’s call for heavenly praise and then his call for universal praise.

  1. (19 – 20) Heavenly praise

In verse 19 David lifts his eyes or gaze to heaven and speaks of God sitting on his throne and reigning in heaven in verse 19,

“The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.”

 These words remind me of my study of Psalms 93 – 100 which I called “Our God the king who reigns” Psalms and in the first one of these we read in the first two verses of Psalm 93,

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity”.

Even though David wrote this Psalm long before it was placed finally in the fourth book of Psalms around the time of the return from exile in Babylon his words would have given the people of the post return from exile period great hope as they no longer had a king in Israel but they had a far greater king than even David himself as he was the king who reigns supreme over everything and everyone in heaven.

David saw that he was under a great king and his praise was for that king who sits in heaven and who rules or reigns over everyone and everything.

We have the same king who we know so much more about as we know that the Lord Jesus Christ was the fulfilment of the promised David king who will reign over every thing and everyone forever now from heaven as we read about in book of Revelation, like Revelation 11: 15,

 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

 Note in this verse in the book of Revelation it is and angel who sounds the trumpet and it is probably Angels who speak the message of the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven and it is angels who David calls upon to join in his praise for the benefits of knowing the Lord in verse 20,

“Praise the Lord, you angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word”.

 It seems that the angels are special higher created beings who serve God in heaven sometimes give the job of sending a special message to one of God’s chosen people like Daniel and Abraham and many other men and women in the bible.

The angels however seem to have the primary task in heaven of singing God’s praises and leading the worship of him in heaven.

We read a lot about the angels in heaven in the book of Revelation as we saw in that quote from Revelation 11: 15 but what about what we read in Revelation 5: 11 – 12,

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!”

 It seems strange that David is calling on the Angels to do what they do anyway without reminder or prompting but maybe David is speaking like he is in verse 20 in that he wants to join even the angels in praise of his God who has given him so many benefits through knowing him.

Note also that even the Angels in heaven have to obey God’s word and it seems that this was the downfall of Satan and a group of angels he led. Satan and these Angels turned away from obeying God’s word as we see from Isaiah 14: 12 – 15, Satan, here called “Son of the Dawn”, sought to make himself God breaking the law and word of God that God alone is God,

“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”.

Satan continues even to this day to lead a rebellion against God but his days are numbered and Jesus has defeated him on the cross but unto Christ returns his complete destruction and judgement like everyone’s will not happen unto Christ returns a second time to judge all of creation.

The warning is clear if one of the Angels can fall because he did not obey the expressed word of God than we must make sure we do not follow his example but like the majority of the Angels live to praise the Lord and do his bidding and obey his word.

  1. (21 – 22) Universal praise

 So David inspired by the Holy Spirit has offered up deep and sincere praise for the benefits of knowing the Lord personally and corporately as part of God’s special people which I believe is now the Church of Jesus Christ, all those from any and every nation who call on the name of the Lord Jesus to be save. He then calls on the Angels to join this great song of and now I believe David calls on all creation to join this song of universal praise.

There are a number of ways of interpreting just who or what David is calling upon to join him in praise in verse 21, which reads,

“Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will”.

There are three ways of interpreting just who “all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will” actually are.

The first is this is describing the Angels in heaven already asked to join in this great song of praise. The Angels as a number of times in the Old Testament the Angels are described as “the hosts” of God, like 1 Kings 22: 19,

“Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord; I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left”.

This would mean David is repeating his call for the Angels to join him in praising God for the benefits of knowing and serving him.

The second interpretation of the term, “all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will” is that heavenly hosts are God’s created celestial bodies he created spoken of as “hosts” or “array” in Deuteronomy 4: 19. The idea of these innate heavenly bodies praising God is found in verses like 1 Chronicles 16: 31 when David declares,

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations “The Lord reigns”.

A verse also found in Psalm 96 a Psalm adapted from David’s Psalm recorded in 1 Chronicles 16.

This would mean David is widening his call for praise to the creation itself that he declares in Psalm 19 verse 1 it does continually,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.

The only problem with this interpretation is how does the phrase, “you servants who do his will”, fit in to this interpretation?

It has been suggested that God placed the sun, moon and stars in place for a purpose and therefore they are his servants in nature to do his will”.

The third and final interpretation is that David has in mind both Angels and celestial bodies in mind which we see combined in Psalm 148: 2 – 6,

Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created, and he established them for ever and ever— he issued a decree that will never pass away”.

Even if David is calling only on Angels again in verse 21 he certainly widens his call for praise of the God who gives us so much benefits in the first part of verse 22,

“Praise the Lord all his works everywhere in his dominion”.

All his works is everything he has created, earth, stars, angels and of course man. All of us are designed and made as instruments of praise and worship as the first question of the famous Westminster shorter catechism asks and answers,

  1. What is the chief end of man?

 Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. One of the many scriptures this catechism offers to support this is Pauls declaration in 1 Corinthians 10: 31,

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”.

All of God’s creation, rightly in tune with his good will and purpose should and does praise the Lord and this is the idea behind David’s call for a universal praise of God in verse 22 of this Psalm.

David then finishes as he started with the last words of his Psalm 103 the same as the first words of this Psalm,

“Praise the Lord, O my soul”.

David wants to praise God so he makes sure we get his great desire to do so. David had so many benefits from knowing his Lord and even though he called on the Angels and everyone and everything in this world and the next to praise his God he wants us to know that he wants above all to praise the Lord who he owed so much to.

May we all join David in praising the Lord knowing that this is our calling in Christ as Paul states in Ephesians 1: 11 – 12,

“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory”.

I close as usual with an original poem and prayer:

PRAISE THE LORD O MY SOUL

(Based on Psalm 103)

 

Praise the Lord all my soul

May all that’s within me praise the Lord

Praise the Lord all my soul

And forget not the benefits of knowing the Lord.

He for gives my sins and heals my soul

He redeems my life and makes us whole

He crowns my life with love so true

He satisfies my desires and makes me new.

He helps me rise like an eagle in the sky

In God I’m renewed and in him I’ll fly.

 

Praise the Lord all my soul

May all that’s within me praise the Lord

Praise the Lord all my soul

God makes things right for those who obey his word.

The Lord makes his word known to us

He shows his way to those who trust.

The Lord has compassion and grace to all

Who revere his name and answer his call

His wonderful love is so high and wide

He cares like a father who helps and guides.

 

Praise the Lord all my soul

May all that’s within me praise the Lord

Praise the Lord all my soul

For God knows we’re weak and our lives are flawed.

He remembers that we are made of dust

One day we’re here and the next we’re lost.

But the Lord is eternal and is always near

To those who he loves who have healthy fear.

And he will always bless us with love

For his son came to die from heaven above.

 

Praise the Lord all my soul

May all that’s within me praise the Lord

Praise the Lord all my soul

May God’s Angels praise him in one accord.

For God sits in heaven and there he reigns

Surrounded by angels who praise his name.

So may all the heavens the stars and the earth

Give praise to the God who gave them birth.

For the Lord is in charge of every thing

May my soul rejoice as may my lips now sing.

 

Praise the Lord all my soul

May all that’s within me praise the Lord

Praise the Lord all my soul

And forget not the benefits of knowing the Lord.

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 Dear father in heaven I praise your great and glorious name for you have given me so much. You made me and the world I live in, you saved me from my sins through your sons death on the cross and you continue to renew and guide me in this life. I thank you that you have called me to be part of your great family and I join with your Angels in heaven giving praise to your wonderful love and justice. In Jesus name I pray Amen.

PSALM 102 TALK: POUR OUT YOUR HEART TO THE LORD

PSALM 102 TALK: POUR OUT YOUR HEART TO THE LORD

 (A Psalm that explores how God wants us to come to him with all our pains and worries in prayer and tell him honestly how we feel and what we need and he not only will listen to us but he will answer us and give us his peace which passes all understanding)

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

 Recently I shared with the church bible study group I regularly attend how years ago I was so desperate for a parking spot in the local shopping centre parking area that I prayed to God for a parking spot. It was one of the weeks leading up to Christmas and I had dropped my wife off at the shopping centre door and drove looking for a parking spot. Not only was the car park full but also I was in bumper to pumper traffic circling the car park for a spot fo some time.

In desperation I prayed a quick prayer for a parking spot and went around the floor of the parking lot I was on one more time and then I saw the reversing lights of a car come on directly in from of me and to the left hand side of my car. I naturally came to a stop and let the car reverse out and I drove into my spot. I sent up to the Lord a short thank you prayer for his provision of a parking spot,

That evening after I got home I thought about the theology of praying for a parking spot. Was God who is king of heaven and earth really interested in my need of a parking spot and are there not far more important matters to bring before the Lord, after all he has to respond to millions of prayers every day. I ended up not resolving my thoughts on this at that time.

Then in that recent bible study we were discussing a well known couple of verses in Philippians, Philippians 4: 6 – 7, which says,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

The word in the text “anything” made me think of my dilemma of whether I should pray about a parking spot as that day some years ago was yet another time I had become anxious about something and yet Paul says,

“Do not be anxious about anything”

He goes on to what we should do when we become anxious about anything with these words,

“But in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.

Note how he says in every situation, pray and note what God will in us if we do bring our petitions or requests to God in prayer,

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

As I said people have had and do have far more problems and difficulties to bring to the Lord, than the need for a parking spot yet the same principle applies don’t be anxious about anything but in every situation present your request to God.

I have come across some amazing prayers in the Psalms and have been blown away by the way these great men of faith of old cried out to God in honest prayer. These men seem to just pour out their hearts to the Lord and most of these types of prayers are in Psalms called laments.

I read an excellent definition and explanation of what a Lament actually is by a man named Jason Jackson on his introduction to Psalm 102. He points out that the Hebrew heading for this Psalm actually defines a lament,

“A prayer of an afflicted man. When he is faint and pours out his lament before the Lord”.

Jackson then gives us five parts that all true laments contain:

  1. Address to God
  2. Complaint
  3. Confession of trust
  4. Petition
  5. Words of assurance and a vow to praise.

I decided to put Jackson’s theory to the test for Psalm 102 and found him to be totally correct, so much so his five- point structure of a lament became the basis for my structure of my Psalm talk for this Psalm.

This Psalm seems to have been written in Babylon where the Jews were locked up in exile and just before the return from exile came about as verse 13 reads,

“You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favour to her; the appointed time has come”.

 He goes on to speak of the ruins of Zion or Jerusalem and how God will rebuild Jerusalem soon.

The writer seems to be suffering personally from a terrible illness that has brought him close to death’s door as verse 24 reads,

“So I said: “Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations”.

However the writer seems to also speak of the affliction of the people in exile and somehow this is linked with his own personal affliction as we read in verses 16 and 17,

“For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. 17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea”.

How these two things are linked we simply do not know and I can only speculate that maybe his seemingly approaching death owing to sickness before his people’s   restoration caused him to pray earnestly for more time in this life to see God’s coming restoration of his people from the hardships of exile to life again in the Promised Land of Israel.

Based on Jason’s Jacksons structure of a lament my structure for this Psalm talk is:

  1. (1 – 2)   HIS CALL TO GOD

 

  1. vs. 1     His cry to God
  2. vs. 2     The urgent need for an answer

 

  1. (3 – 11)   HIS COMPLAINT TO GOD

 

  1. (3 – 7)  The physical pain caused his affliction
  2. (8 – 9)   The social pain caused by his enemies
  3. (10 – 11) The spiritual pain caused by God’s discipline

 

  1. (12 – 22) HIS CONFESSION OF FAITH IN GOD

 

  1. vs. 12     God enthroned in heaven
  2. (13 – 22) God will restore his people

 

  1. (23 – 26) HIS CONTINUATION OF HIS REQUEST TO GOD

 

  1. (23 – 24a)   Stop his pending death
  2. (24b – 26)   God’s immortality compared to man’s mortality

 

  1. (27 – 28)   HIS CERTAIN HOPE IN GOD

 

  1. vs. 27       Hope in the unchanging eternal God
  2. vs. 28       Hope in the promise of God’s eternal presence with his people

 

  1. (1 – 2)   HIS CALL TO GOD

 

  1. vs. 1     His cry to God

The writer of Psalm 102 starts his prayer to God as many former laments begin with a desperate cry to God,

Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you”

 This writer not only pours out his heart to God in prayer he uses all the way through his Psalm or lament wording and concepts from parts of the scriptures he was obviously very familiar with. This cry to God is reminiscent of the wording of Psalm 5 verse 2,

“Listen to my cry for help”

 And Psalm 18: 6,

“In my distress I called to the Lord, I cried to my God for help”.

 Not that he believed God does not listen to the prayers of his people as he later says in verse 17,

“He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea”.

Note how the Psalmist does not keep his pain and conflict locked up inside of him as many do which leads to many people suffering mental damage and often leads to some of them taking their very lives. What he is doing is very good therapy as bottling up pain and conflict is simply not a healthy way to deal with it.

When my wife was about to give birth to our first child she spoke of how a number of migrant women screamed very loudly as they went through the pain of child birth which most Anglo Saxon background women usually sought to avoid. Maybe our pain more openly expressed is better for us than trying to show how tough we are bearing that pain by holding it in.

The writer of Psalm 102 had no qualms in telling God loudly and honestly how much pain he was in, as we will see from the next section of this Psalm. As I said in the opening section Paul taught we should turn our anxiety or mental pain into prayer and that this is exactly what God wants us to do, Philippians 4: 6,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.

How we can cry out to God when in pain with thanksgiving is I believe by acknowledging all that God has done for us in Christ and all that God will do for us in Christ in the future when he will take us to heaven which Revelation 21: 3 – 4 speaks of,

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

 With that kind of hope in mind we can present our pain and worries to God in prayer with thanksgiving.

  1. vs. 2     The urgent need for an answer

This prayerful cry to God for help in Psalm 102 continues with these words,

“Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress”.

 The writer obviously believes God listens to prayer and answers it but the expression,

“Do not hide your face from me”.

Is said because like Job, the most well known Godly sufferer when pain and strife go on for a time the thought will always be God is not seeing our pain or God has deserted us in our pain which in Old Testament terms is he has turned his face from us as Job claims in Job 13: 24,

“Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?”

This writer seems not only very familiar with Psalms written before his time but the words and ideas in the book of Job. Maybe he is a Jewish scribe taken into exile or rather born in exile and trained extensively in the scriptures of the Jews.

David Guzik writes,

“When he had the sense that God’s favor and face were evident, then affliction could be endured”.

This realization does come about as we will see unto the third section of this Psalm but for now he needs God to turn to him and give him a answer and in the second part of verse 2 he needs an answer urgently as we read him praying these words,

“Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly”.

Why did he need an urgent answer to his prayer?

This becomes clear from what he says in verse 11,

“My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass”.

 Words like this and other expressions later in the Psalm indicate that the writer believes he is very close to death and so his need for help and healing is very urgent. We will look later at why he wants an extension of life but for now he needs God to listen to his cry and turn to him in his distress to help him.

From time to time we have been asked to pray for people in our church who seem close to death and some have advocated we should pray for a miracle so that the person in question might be come out of what seems their terminal illness and be healed. Others have prayed that God comfort them as they move through the trial of death.

I have thought the best thing we can do for these people is ask that they know God’s presence and help as they face whatever God has planned for them, even a miraculous recovery, if this be his will but if not that Jesus would be with them helping them carry the burden of their illness as he promises to do in Matthew 11: 28 – 30,

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Also I would like to point out that when Paul speaks of turning our anxieties, whatever they might be into prayers he does not go on to say God will necessarily take what caused the anxieties away from us, although that could be what will happen, no what Paul believes God will give us is expressed so beautifully in Philippians 4: 7,

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

Paul says that God promises his peace, peace I like to call, “Peace to cope” and this after all is the best thing God can give us as we face the many trials and difficulties of life even the great trial and difficulty of death which we all must face one day unless we are part of the return of Christ before death comes to us.

  1. (3 – 11)   HIS COMPLAINT TO GOD

The writer now pours out his heart to the Lord expressing the great pain he is suffering from, I think, two sources, one some kind of life threatening illness and the pain associated with being a prisoner in the Babylonian which could be just being part of exile Jews.

We will be looking at three kinds of pain in this outpouring of this writer’s heart to God,

  1. Physical pain caused by his affliction
  2. The social pain caused by his enemies
  3. The spiritual pain of God’s discipline

So lets then have a closer look at each of these:

  1. (3 – 7)   The physical pain caused by his affliction

The first pain the writer of Psalm 102 pours out to God in prayer is his crippling physical pain. Let me now try and open up each of these five verses to reveal the extent of the physical pain he was experiencing.

Verse. 3 – Pain makes him feel useless and consumes him to the core.

“For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers”.

The effects of his fever can be seen in the images of fire in idea of smoke and burning. He obviously is really hurting and he first indicates in this verse that his physical pain makes him feel useless. He seems unable to do anything in his day to day life but experience pain.

I have not had to face yet an illness or ailment that gave me continuous pain and suffering. I do remember, of course experiencing pain from time to time in my life and one time that comes to mind is when I was 15 and broke my wrist playing rugby at school. My mum was called to the school, which took her over an hour to come to the school and take me to the hospital, and then I waited over two hours in the emergency ward to be attended to. The pain seemed unbearable and I sat rocking two and throw howling in pain yet the doctors and nurses seemed to just ignore my suffering.

Pain like this writer speaks of would make him feel useless as he expresses with the phrase,

“For my days vanish like smoke”.

Note his pain was not just a couple of hours like my broken wrist experience but “for days”. It was a prolonged period of pain and he lets God through prayer just how bad this experience is. He again seems to draw his images from his bible as we read in Psalm 37: 20,

“But the wicked will perish: The Lord’s enemies will be like the beauty of the fields, they will vanish – vanish like smoke”.

If he had this verse in mind then he is also feeling that he is being treated like a enemy of God and not a faithful servant of God. This was the dilemma of Job who suffered such great pain and distress and his friends told him that this could only come from God because God was treating him as a wayward sinner.

Interestingly the next phrase in verse 3 comes straight from the book of Job, Job 4: 14,

“Fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake”

The writer of Psalm 102 puts this idea this way,

“ My bones burn like glowing anger”.

Our writer of Psalm 102 has not got shaking bones but burning bones which to me is saying that the burning pain seems to be at his core, his bones which indicates that his pain was a deep seated and all embracing pain which overwhelmed his wretched body.

I have seen friends and family suffer the pain of cancer and my father – in law some years ago had to inject himself with morphine as he suffered the crippling pain of lung and throat cancer which reduced his once robust strong body to just skin and bones. His agony was for my wife and I something that reduced us both to tears and his passing a couple weeks later ended up being a blessing as he was finally out of pain and we hoped in the arms of the Lord in heaven.

Pain and death, sadly are part of the results of sin as Paul puts it simply in Romans 6: 23,

“The wages of sin is death”

However for the Christian, who will suffer death like the non – believer but unlike the non- believer has a great hope beyond there death as Paul goes on to say in Romans 6: 23,

“But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Verse 4 – Pain breaks his heart and causes him to stop eating food

The writer continues to pour out his heart to the Lord expressing his great physical pain with the words,

“My heart is blighted and withered like grass”

The heart in the Old Testament is the inner – self or seat of our being and this man is saying that he heart is blighted and the English Standard Version translate “Blighted” as “Struck down” or we could even say broken or broken down. He feels physically crushed in his heart and draws on another expression from Psalm 37, this time verse 2 which says,

“For like grass they will soon witherr, like green plants they will soon die away”.

This man like David lived in the Middle East and Tremper Longman 111 points out,

“Grass is short lived and under the hot sun of Palestine (Middle East) loses life, turns yellow and shrivels up”.

His pain simply makes him feel deeply crushed and the image of withered grass tells us he feels close to death.

Then he says in his prayer to God,

“I forget to eat food”.

This is common to people who are very sick and in a lot of pain they loose their appetite and stop eating food. I know this even from own experience and it is common for people who are seriously ill to loose massive amounts of weight from their forced physical fasting.

In verse 9 he speaks of ashes being his food and tears his drink and all this reveals how this man is in deep in pain and sorrow like the Son of Korah who wrote of this Psalm 42 when he speaks of his painful experience of depression in verse 3 of that Psalm, which reads,

“My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God’.

Again I am struck by this mans ability to pour out his heart and mind to the Lord telling him of the terrible pain he is experiencing.

Verse 5 – The pain and groaning that leads to massive weight loss

What he says in verse 5 seems a natural out come of what he has just said about not eating food as he prays,

“Because of my loud groaning I am reduced to skin and bones”.

His physical pain caused by his serious illness has caused him to stop eating and naturally he is now reduced to skin and bone, which means he has experienced massive weight loss.

As I said earlier I saw this with my very own eyes in the terminal illness of my father – in law as he quickly went from being a big and strong man in his early sixties to a tall thin and withered man of skin and bones. He was almost un – recognizable when my wife and I visited him two weeks before his death to lung and throat cancer and we spent a couple of agonizing days staying with him trying to desperately comfort him in his terrible pain.

The local Anglican minister spent some time with him praying for him before he died and he shared with him God’s Gospel message and he told my wife and I at his funeral that he believed he did turn to the Lord in those final days of his life and did receive some measure of inner peace and hope as his life sadly left him like smoke from a burning fire as the writer of Psalm 102 put it in verse 3.

Verse 6 –7- The pain of loneliness in his suffering

The writer then pours out to God his feelings of loneliness, which many say they feel when they experience great pain when they were sick, he writes,

“I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins”.

Interestingly Allan Harman points out that the owl is one of the unclean birds spoken of in Leviticus 11: 17 but the owl is probably more than likely chosen because of its solitary nature which also fits the expression,

“Like an owl among the ruins”

And the expression in verse 7,

“Like a bird alone on a roof”.

Maybe as he prayed this prayer he looked out of his window and saw an owl on a roof top next to his house and this put into his mind a picture of how he felt in his painful illness, all alone and needing the comfort of his Lord through friends and family.

In my Psalm 6 talk I speak of the story of Lea Hatcher a famous Australian TV presenter and Christian who experienced the pain and strife of the sickness called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and how he found that the best help he had during his two agonizing years of this illness was the company of Christian friends who simply sat with him offering prayer and encouragement.

The writer of Psalm 102, like Job did not receive this kind of help but we will see that like Leigh Hatcher also got from some of his visitors some harsh words and advice from non – believers and sadly sometime like Job, miss- directed advice from so called Godly people. People who told Leigh to either pull himself together and get up out of bed and back to work or worse than that advice that said if he had prayed a little harder and had a little more faith he would be healed.

Job’s friends with their miss- guided words of advice only acted as another tool of torment from his already long list of instruments of pain. Sometimes when we are really sick we want to be left alone as other people around us only make us feel the pain even more but to be left totally alone is a recipe for feeling like our writer does as he describes it in verse 7,

“I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof”.

One final word on offering supportive comfort to people we know who are suffering pain of some kind is found in the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 1: 3 – 6,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer”.

  1. (8 – 9)   The social pain caused by his enemies

In addition to his physical pain caused directly, I believe because of his illness he has the pain of torment from his enemies and being an exile in a foreign land like Babylon he would have had many. He writes in verse 8,

“All day long my enemies taunt me; those who rail against me use my name as a curse”.

Jason Jackson makes it clear what this social pain for this pious Jew in a foreign land like Babylon would have been like when he is seen to be so chronically ill, he writes,

“In a culture where ill health was regarded as divine punishment for sins, he has found himself ostracized and persecuted. Rivals seized the opportunity to taunt him and misuse his name”.

This verse reminds me greatly of Job who suffered greatly because God wanted to show Satan that his faith was genuine and yet all Job got from what was his so called friends was constant arguments that Job had sinned greatly as his sickness and misfortune was great. Jobs friend Eliphaz says this to Job in Job 22: 4 – 5,

“Is it for your piety that he rebukes you and brings charges against you?
Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless?”

The teaching and advice from Jobs friends was sound biblical teaching but when it was applied to Jobs suffering as its cause and remedy it was foolishness as Job was not suffering because of his sins and therefore Jobs friends advice was only a further instrument of pain that Job had to bear.

In our writer of Psalm 102 his painful social taunts came more likely from non – believers who took the opportunity to kick a good man when he was down and they used another social weapon against him expressed in the words of verse 9b,

Those who rail against me use my name as a curse”.

I have often wondered why non – believers choose to use the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as a curse or swear word. These are people who refuse to acknowledge his existence and dam anyone who believe in him yet his name is the one they choose to curse and swear with.

Maybe the answer can be found to this quandary of mine in the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 2: 15 and 16,

“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life”.

The next time I hear a non – believer use the name of Christ as a swear word I will ask why do you choose to use that name to curse someone or something and I might be surprised what there answer will be.

For this man his very name was used as a curse which might be because many Jews had names that included the name of their God or some aspect of their faith then the curse was a curse against the God he continued to have faith in even in the face of terrible illness.

He concludes his physical and social pain with the words of verse 9, which says,

“For I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears”

It was not uncommon for ancient Hebrews to sit in ashes or dust when they sought the Lord when being disciplined by him and a excellent example of this is Job in Job 2: 8,

“Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes”.

So as this pious Jew suffers what he calls in the next verse God’s great wrath or discipline he sits in ashes and as he does he feels the powdery ashes falling on his lips and having given up eating sees this as his only food. As he pours out his heart to the Lord with tears he sees these as part of what he is drinking. He is greatly suffering and he is telling God just what he is feeling and thinking as he suffers.

  1. (10 – 11) The spiritual pain caused by God’s discipline

Having completed pouring out his heart to God in a description of his physical and social pain he now speaks of his spiritual pain in the words of verse 10,

“Because of your great wrath for you have taken me up and thrown me aside”.

All of the Old Testament writers seemed to associate great sickness and miss- fortune as the discipline of the Lord. In David’s Psalm 6 seemingly written one day when he was very physically ill he prays to God with these words in verses 1 – 3,

“Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?”

David is seeing his sickness as the wrath of God against him in discipline and the writer of Psalm 102 views his great illness the same way. It is the book of Job that throws doubt in the Old Testament that suffering sickness and calamity of various kinds is always the result of God’s judgment against sin. Job was not suffering because of his sin but his suffering was a test of his faith.

The New Testament will give us yet another two reasons why we might suffer and they are:

  1. We might suffer to glorify God as we see in the teaching of Jesus when confronted by the questions about why we might suffer in this life in John 9. We read this in John 9: 1 – 3,

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

      3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that  

   the works of God might be displayed in this life”. 

  1. We might suffer because we are living in a fallen world as Paul speaks of in Romans 8: 18 – 21,

“ I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God”.

However the writer of Psalm 102 takes the Old Testament teaching that suffering comes as a result of the discipline or judgment of the Lord on the chin and therefore feels great spiritual pain as a result. His feeling is that God has simply thrown him away as we see in the words in verse 10 that says,

“You have taken me up and thrown me away”.

However both the Old and New Testament teaches us that for a true believer of God the Lord only disciplines those he loves as we see in the Old Testament in Proverbs 3: 11 – 12 and those words are taken up in Hebrews 12 and made even clearer that God disciplines us because he loves us and uses this discipline to actually help us, Hebrews 12: 5 – 10,

“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

 “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness”.

He concludes this second section which is the complaint section of his lament with verse 11, which seems to be saying his illness is leading to his certain death,

“My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass”

Albert Barnes explains the meaning and significance of the image of the “evening shadow” with these words,

“The shadow made by the gnomon on the sun – dial, which marks the hours as they pass. The idea is that the shadow made by the descending sun was about to disappear altogether. It had become less distinct and clear, and it would soon vanish”.

A more modern expression or image might be the saying, “Your time is up” and of course this image means that the writer of Psalm 102 felt he was very close to death made even clearer by the last image of withering grass,

“I wither away like grass”.

  1. (12 – 22) HIS CONFESSION OF FAITH IN GOD

 

  1. vs. 12     God enthroned in heaven

Following Jason Jackson theory of the structure of a lament we come to his third aspect of a lament which Jackson calls the confession of trust and the writer of Psalm 102 has two aspects to his confession of trust and the first is in verse 12 which declares that he sees and believes that God reigns in heaven,

“But you, O Lord sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations”.

So even though this man is experiencing great pain physically, socially and spiritually his faith in God remained strong and this is because he has a big view of God. One of my bibles college lecturers many years ago told us that if we want a bigger faith in God than we need to gain a bigger view of God. In other words the size of our faith in God is determined not by how much we might work up an emotional response to God but how big our view of God is.

The writer of Psalm 102 like those who wrote the Psalms 93 – 100 saw God as the heavenly king of everything. God sits on his throne in heaven and rules. On many occasions in Psalms 93 – 100 we read the words,

“The Lord reigns”

Psalm 97, for instance starts with the words,

“The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice”.

Why did the writer of Psalm 102 in the midst of his great pain think of God reigning in heaven?

I think he had at least two reasons to think of this:

  1. Being a post exile Jew God is now there king alone.

I have presented in all my Psalms in the fourth book of Psalms the fact that these Psalms were placed in the fourth book of Psalms after the return from exile in Babylon when the eternal kingdom promised to David’s descendants seemed lost.

This is because the line of David kings seemed over as the last direct David line of Kings died in exile. Yet the post exile Psalms or those placed in the post exile fourth book of Psalms present God in heaven as the king of Israel and the world reigning as king and suggest that one day a great descendant of David would come to establish the throne of David for all eternity.

We saw a prediction of the coming king as judge in Psalm 96: 13,

“They will sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth, He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth”.

We will see some clear ideas of the coming of a great future king in verses like 16 and 17 of this Psalm,

“For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea”.

So in the post Babylon Psalm collections both book four and five God is the king who rules from heaven or as verse 12 of this Psalm says,

“Sits enthroned forever”.

This then gave men like the writer of Psalm 102 great faith and hope as their God is the king of everything and everyone and that thought helped them face the many trials of life.

  1. The writer of Psalm 102 needs answers to his long exile in Babylon

The second reason why the writer of Psalm 102 found comfort and hope in the idea that his God reigns forever in heaven as we will now see that this man’s suffering was not just his terrible illness but also was the pain in body and soul he had from being part of a people locked up in exile in Babylon for over 70 years.

This is what he will tell us in verse 20 of this Psalm,

“To hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death”.

The writer of Psalm 102 is writing before the return from exile so he and his fellow Jews were like prisoners in another far off land when their homeland of Israel lay in ruins. Maybe this writer’s illness was a result of being literally locked up in Babylon or was a result of torture he received at the hands of his Babylonian over- Lords.

So in this context the idea that his God sat enthroned in heaven over even the powerful Babylonians who were now suppressing him and his people gave him hope and faith to endure knowing his God would release him and his people one day soon and return them to their beloved homeland.

Paul spoke of true deep happiness, which he called contentment even as he was locked up in prison. He wrote for instance about this to the Philippians in a letter written from inside a Roman prison, Philippians 4: 10 – 13,

“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.

The writer of Psalm 102 is implying something like this when as he endures great physical, social and spiritual pain that he can lift his eyes to God and say,

“But you, O Lord sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations”.

Even his generation of his people who are at present locked up in the city and land of Babylon and humanly speaking have no hope.

  1. (13 – 22) God will restore his people

So we now see even more clearly that the writer of Psalm 102 sufferings of pain was not just because of some kind of physical illness but included or was associated with the fact that he was part of a nation of people who were locked up as exiles like prisoners in the great pagan city of Babylon thousands of miles away from their beloved homeland that lay in ruins.

So his second confession of faith in verse 13 is,

“You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her: the appointed time has come”.

This writer really knew the Hebrew scriptures as we have already seen from the fact he quoted or at least alluded to ideas or wordings from the book of Psalms and Job written before his time and now he seems to be aware of a famous prophets prediction concerning the Jews exile in Babylon, which is from the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 29: 10 and 11,

“This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

 Interestingly this prophecy concerning the Jews return from exile was part of a letter written by the prophet Jeremiah to the Jewish exiles in Babylon as Jeremiah 29: 1 says,

The surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon”.

It appears this writer was part of this group of people or more likely the son of one of these people Jeremiah wrote to. I say son because the writer of Psalm 102 indicates in verse 23 his life is about to be cut short indicating he was not an old person but relatively young.

So the writer of Psalm 102 expects this return from exile to happen soon as he says in verse 13,

“For the time to her, the appointed time has come”.

This promise of a return to the Promised Land gave him great hope and faith to hold on in the midst of great suffering.

But as we will see in the next section his actual request to God in prayer is that his life not end now so maybe he wanted God to let him see that return to his peoples former homeland.

The New Testament indicates we too might have to suffer because of our faith in Christ as we wait for the Lords return or go to be with the Lord forever when we pass from this life to be with the Lord. I quoted before Paul’s word on this in Romans 8: 18 – 21 but Peter has something similar to say to what Paul taught in one of his letters, 1 Peter 4: 12 – 13,

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed”.

The New Testament also teaches that even in our suffering God is with us, helping us and as Philippians 4: 7 says, giving us his peace, which passes all understanding.

The writer of Psalm 102 in the next seven verses speaks of three things concerning this great hope.

  1. He and his people feelings for there former homeland (vs. 14)
  2. How the return from exile will be a witness of God’s power and glory to the world (vs. 15 – 16, 18 and 21 and 22)
  3. How this act of God is a direct answer to his people’s prayers (vs. 17 and vs. 19 – 20)

Lets then have a closer look at these three great things the Jews return from exile will achieve:

  1. He and his people feelings for there former homeland (vs. 14)

The first thing this writer speaks of concerning this soon to be fulfilled promise of God of the return of the Jews to Israel is in verse 14,

“For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves her to pity”.

 The old expression is, “There’s no place like home”, which of course is a key line from the movie “The Wizard of OZ” comes to mind here. When my wife and I have travelled to many places in our own beautiful country of Australia or many other fascinating places in the world we always love coming home and our home and home town where we live is the place we love to be in this life.

For the Jew like our writer of Psalm 102 even the dusty ruins of his homeland were dear to him and his fellow countrymen as that homeland was God’s special gift to his people the Jews. There in that place, even in ruins was the place God revealed himself to them and in a special way they felt close to God in it. As the writer of Psalm 48 put it in verses 1 – 3,

“Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy

mountain.Beautiful in its loftiness the joy of the whole earth, like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King.God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress”.

Of course the writer of Psalm 102 acknowledges that the city described in Psalm 48 is now only ruins and dust but he and his people still love the place because they love the God it represents. He of course knew that one day soon his people would go back there and rebuild that city as he speaks of in verse 16,

“For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory”.

Peter teaches in 1 Peter 2: 11 that as Christians we are aliens and strangers in this world,

“I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world”

For our real home is in heaven as Jesus makes it clear in John 14: 1 -3,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”.

So as Christians as the old song says,

“This world is not my home I am just a passing through”.

So we might love where we live on earth but our real place we should all look forward to is our home with Christ in heaven, that is the place we should all long to one day just as the writer of Psalm 102 longed to be in Zion or Jerusalem.

  1. How the return from exile will be a witness of God’s power and glory to the world (vs. 15 – 16, 18 and 21 and 22)

The writer of Psalm 102 then looks forward to what this certain return to his homeland will do to the nations around Israel and he sees that this great miraculous turn of events for the downtrodden nation of Israel will make these nations sit up and take notice that their God is great and glorious, verses 15 – 16,

“The nations will fear the name of the Lord, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory. 16 For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory”.

The writer of Psalm 102 uses the word, “Fear” meaning they will have reverence for this God who first judged his people by sending them into exile and then worked history so that they could return and rebuild the former glory of his special place on earth, Zion or Jerusalem.

I have often wondered why the Jews over many centuries have been hated so much and have concluded that it could be that non – Jewish people are jealous of the many blessings God has given his special people.

As Christians we are part of the New Israel that through what Christ has done on the cross has brought us into his kingdom as Paul teaches in Galatians 3: 26 – 29,

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”.

Christians like the Jews also are often persecuted because they are so blessed by God and it has been my experience that people I know who have truly come to the Lord have had their lives turned around and have become greatly blessed, even in this life and that has been a great witness to the God they now believe in.

In verse 18 he speaks of his desire for this fulfilment of God’s promise to be written down for future generations to read and know,

“Let this be written for future generations, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord”.

This is the only place in the Psalms where what the Psalmist is thinking is to be actually written down for future prosperity.

This Psalmist no doubt wrote down his Psalm which future editors after the return from exile granted his desire or wish by including his written down Lament or Psalm in the fourth book of Psalms.

The New Testament speaks of why scripture was written down in a verses like 2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17,

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.

The details of the return from exile also appear in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah which, like the writer desired have been read by future generations not yet created and will be read by generations or people not yet created after my generation has passed on as well.

In verses 21 – 22, the writer of Psalm 102 speaks more about the witness to the world that God’s return of his people to Israel from Babylon will bring to the world at large,

“So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem 22 when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord”.

This look ahead by the writer of Psalm 102 was in one sense something that happened around 500 years before the coming of Christ as the name of the Lord was again declared in Zion or Jerusalem and as I have just said we can read about this in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Even a gathering of people from kingdoms of the world gathered to worship the Lord as Jews who were scattered all over the world were able to return to Israel to worship the Lord.

However these two verses could also be seen as a prophecy for the distant future that through the work of Christ in bringing salvation to the world and when he returns in his glory to judge the world and take all who truly believe in him to glory in the new heavenly Jerusalem then these words will be totally fulfilled as we see in Revelations 7: 9 – 12,

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

 “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:

 “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength

be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”

  1. How this act of God is a direct answer to his people’s prayers (vs. 17 and vs. 19 – 20)

The writer of Psalm 102 then acknowledges the role that the prayers of his people played in the return from exile in Babylon and writes in verse 17,

“He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea”.

 Then in verses 19 – 20 he speaks of God answering his people’s desperate prayers for God’s help to escape the long exile in Babylon,

“The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death”.

 Interestingly the writer of Psalm 102 speaks of the people as prisoners and those condemned to death maybe that is his plight or are an image of how he saw what exile in Babylon was actually like.

So as the people suffered in exile like they suffered in slavery in Egypt they cried out to God in prayer and God said this to Moses at the burning bush, Exodus 3: 7 – 8,

“The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites”.

Now God sees from heaven the plight of his people and their groans or cries to him for help and he enters yet again into human history to save them and deliver them back to that same land he gave the people of Israel in Moses time.

These verses are telling us that our prayers to God do not go unnoticed and in fact in the New Testament we have many promises that God not only hears our prayers but answers them as well, like Matthew 7: 7 – 11,

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

  1. (23 – 26) HIS CONTINUATION OF HIS REQUEST TO GOD

 

  1. (23 – 24)   Stop his pending death

Jason Jackson says that all laments contain a petition or a specific request from God and verses 23 – 24 I think is the writer of Psalms 102 actual prayer request.

So buoyed by his acknowledgement of how God listens to our prayers and answers them the writer of Psalm 102 now makes his request to God and he prays, in verses 23 – 24,

“In the course of my life he broke my strength; he cut short my days. So I said; ‘Do not take me away, O my God, in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations”.

What is our writer of Psalm 102 actually asking God to do for him?

I believe he is saying in verse 23 that he believes he is dying and is very close to death which is what the words in verse 23 is saying,

“In the course of my life he broke my strength; he cut short my days”

The idea of cutting short his days means he is not an old man and the breaking of his strength seems to be saying his illness has weekend him so much he is close to death. So he asks God to not take his life away from him in verse 24a,

“So I said; ‘Do not take me away”.

David Guzik writes,

“Overwhelmed by both his sense of great weakness in affliction, and by the sense of God’s greatness and ultimate victory, the Psalmist did the right thing, He cried out in prayer, pleading for God’s merciful help”.

Why I think he wants an extension of his life seems to be connected to what he has just opened up namely the return of his people the Jews from exile to their beloved homeland. It seems to me he feels he will not personally see the Promised Land himself something Moses had to bear as well. Moses was stopped by God by his death from entering the Promised Land and only saw it from high up on a mountain overlooking the Promised Land.

Moses viewed the Promised Land from that mountain and there God promises to take Moses to be with him and his people in Heaven, Deuteronomy 32: 50,

“There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people”.

We all have a date set by God for us to depart from this life and as the saying goes,

“When your times up there is nothing you can do about it”

We, who have faith in God through Christ however have much hope given to us in the face of our certain deaths and I cannot go past Jesus amazing words in John 11: 25 – 26 as an expression of this hope,

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Death for the believer is but a doorway into a better existence and this is what Jesus is speaking of in Revelation 3: 20,

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me”.

Some say this verse relates more in its context to the door of the church where Jesus is knocking to come in but the next verse makes it clear he is speaking about coming into his presence and particularly after death, verse 21,

“To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne”

  1. (24b – 26)   God’s immortality compared to man’s mortality

We do not know if God answered the prayer of the writer of Psalm 102 for an extension of his life but he continues to show us his great faith in God. Thinking of how short his life is as he faces certain death he speaks of the immortality of God, that God’s days go on and on, 24b.

“Your years go on through all generations”.

Albert Barnes explains the significance of this statement in the context of his request for an extension of his life with these words,

“The psalmist appeals to what God himself enjoyed – as a reason why life – so great a blessing – should be granted to him a little longer”.

It is as though he is saying you are eternal God so could you give me out of your abundance of days just a few more. So as he saw the coming blessing of God in the return to his beloved homeland of Israel and its city of God, Jerusalem, he asks God to spare his life so he could see it himself.

This leads the Psalmist to then reflect on the immortality of God in contrast to the mortality of man and all creation. He goes back to the beginning of creation in his thoughts on this as says in verse 25,

“In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands”.

This man who seems to know the Hebrew scripture’s so well combines two great verses concerning the creation.

The first is very first verse of the bible, Genesis 1: 1,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”

The second is one of David’s creation Psalms, Psalm 8: 3,

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers”

Its not stated but certainly implied even before there was a creation God existed and this is where John starts his account of creation in John 1: 1 and 2, speaking of God and his word which John 1: 14 says is Jesus become flesh,

“In the beginning was he Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, He was with God in the beginning”.

The Jehovah witness bible miss- translates the term was God to was a God to try and destroy the divinity of Christ but Jesus is God and is eternal as Revelation 1: 8 makes clear,

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

The Lord God here is certainly Jesus himself as John has been just speaking of him in verse 7, where he writes,

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen”.

So God is eternal and has endless days but our writer contrasts this with what we are like and the rest of creation is like in verse 26,

“They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded”.

Creation and of course our lives which are part of that are just like clothing our writer of Psalm 102 says, they wear out and we get new ones, they come and go and when they go we throw them away.

I personally have great difficulty throwing out old and comfortable clothes but my wife is ruthless and she makes me go through my old clothes and bundle them up.

We usually pass them on the local Salvation Army second hand shop but I guess most of my old clothes are so warn out they are sent on to become industrial rags.

Life for us as mortal human beings comes and goes and our writer of Psalm 102 is acknowledging this in his request for an extension of his days in this fleeting life.

The writer to the Hebrews quotes verses 25 – 27 in his opening chapter verses 10 – 12 in speaking about the superiority of Jesus over everything including the Angels in heaven so we have another scripture that points to the divinity of Christ. David Guzik raps up the main thought of this section with these words,

“Amidst the changes and chances of this mortal life, one topic of consolation will ever remain, namely, the eternity and immutability of God our Savior, of him who was, and is, and is to come.”

  1. (27 – 28)   HIS CERTAIN HOPE IN GOD

 

  1. vs. 27       Hope in the unchanging eternal God

We come then to the fifth aspect of Jason Jackson’s theory of the structure of an Old Testament Lament, which he calls “Words of assurance, and a vow to praise”. The last two verses certainly fit the description of words of assurance and so far as words of praise in this lament they are certainly implied in the last verse but not clearly stated like many other examples of Laments in the book of Psalms.

Our writer of Psalm 102 raps up his thoughts on God’s eternal nature with his second final thought and hope with verse 27, which says,

“But you remain the same, and your years will never end”.

 This verse is an echo of what our writer has already said about God in verse 12,

But you, O Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations”.

 Psalm 48: 14, speaks of God as the eternal God who promises to guide us even up to our deaths or as the verse says “the end”.

“For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end”.

 The Old Testament believers like our writer of Psalm 102 had a less clear understanding of life after death than we have but they still did believe they were going to be with God and his people when they died. As Moses was told at the end of his life that when he dies somehow he would go to be, “gathered to your people”, as we read in Deuteronomy 32: 50,

“There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people”.

The Jewish concept of being in the bosom of Abraham (Abrahams side in Luke 16: 22) comes from the idea that if Abraham was close to God now then to be close to Abraham when we die is to be close to God as well.

However the New Testament and the teaching of Jesus makes life after death much more clearer and Jesus even teaches his disciples that he was going back to heaven after his death and resurrection to prepare a place or a home for us when we die, John 14: 1 – 4.

So the writer of Psalm 102 had a sure and certain faith in his eternal God who will never end and therefore will always be there for him. Paul had the same confidence in Christ and his love for us, Romans 8: 38 – 39,

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

  1. vs. 28       Hope in the promise of God’s eternal presence with his people

The final verse and thought of the Psalm fleshes out what I believe the writer of this Psalm was starting to say in the previous verse. This ending to the Psalm is typical of all Lament Psalms. The lament Psalms start on a low and negative note but finish on a high and positive note often in praise of the God they are praying to.

The writer of Psalm 102 finishes his Lament with the positive words of assurance that say,

“The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you”.

 The idea here of living in God’s presence probably has the thought of God’s people living back in Zion, Jerusalem where God had promised to dwell forever with his people, as expressed in many Psalms like Psalm 68: 16,

“Why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain, at the mountain where God chooses to reign, where the Lord himself will dwell forever?”

Zion or Jerusalem is where, in the Old Testament God’s presence is specially found but we know that Jews like David and other Psalm writers like son’s of Korah believed that Zion was only a physical reminder of the truth that God promises to dwell with his people any where they might be found.

David had a special realization of this in Psalm 61 where he seems to be out in the desert areas of Israel, probably on the run from his son Absalom as he writes, Psalm 61: 1 – 3,

“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe”.

So the writer of Psalm 102 looks ahead beyond his death and sees hope by faith as he has the vision of his children and the generations to come always being in the presence of God and therefore he to one way or another will always be in God’s presence.

We have according to Peter in 1 Peter 1: 3 – 5, a living hope of eternal life with God through the mercy of God offered to us through Christ through his death and resurrection,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time”.

CONCLUSION

I started this Psalm talk with the dilemma I had about whether asking God in prayer for a parking spot was right or wrong and I concluded that based on Philippians 4: 6 that God wants us to turn any of our anxieties into prayers and he might not take away that which causes us to be anxious but he will according to verse 7 give us his peace in the midst of our troubles.

I then pointed out that the writer of Psalm 102 wrote a lament, which followed a structure of going from addressing God to a complaint and then a confession of trust, a request and then a final word of assurance and praise as pointed out by Jason Jackson.

The writer of Psalm 102 had far worse problems to deal with than not being able to find a parking spot in a busy shopping centre car park as he suffered a painful life threatening illness and was caught up in a cruel captivity with his people in Babylon.

We read of how he poured out his heart to God telling him how he was suffering and asking him eventually for an extension of his life as he was close to death.

We then saw the faith and hope of this writer as he took hold of the promises of God, particularly the promise to bring his people, the Jews, back to his Promised Land, Israel and its eternal city of Jerusalem.

He finally came to a renewed understanding of the eternal nature of God who he trusted and believed in to lead him and future generations into God’s prescience forever.

We finally learnt that this points us to our great hope in Christ, which through his death, and resurrection we have a way into God’s presence, which he gives us out of his great mercy and love.

We can learn then that we should never be afraid to come to God in prayer and if we do we will as Philippians 4: 7 find,

“The peace of God, which transcends all understanding” Which will, Guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

 I close as usual with and original poem based on this Psalm and a prayer:

LISTEN TO ME O LORD (Based on Psalm 102)

 

Listen to me O Lord

Listen to my cry

Do not hide your face O Lord

Answer quickly for I soon will die.

 

Listen to me O Lord

For I’m in so much pain

My fever burns me up

And is causing my life to drain.

 

Chorus:

 

I know you are the king of Heaven

I know you are the God of love

You sent Jesus so we could be forgiven

One day with him I will rise above.

 

Listen to me O Lord

I’m a ghost of my former self

My illness has killed my apatite

I feel like a bird on a shelf.

Listen to me O Lord

My enemies are kicking me while I’m down.

They have made my name a curse

And I’m wallowing in the dust of the ground.

 

Chorus:

 

I know your word does promise

That you will give me your peace

So ask you Lord give me solace

So I might find your sweet release.

 

Listen to me O Lord

For I am a prisoner of my pain

I long to be free to join again

The people who honour your name.

 

Listen to me O Lord

May I live just a little more

So I can proclaim your message Lord

To all people to answer your call.

 

Chorus:

 

I know you are the eternal God

Who reigns forever above

But my life is like the grass that dies

Give me life O great God of love.

Yes give me life O great God of love.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 Lord I know you are a God of love so I bring to you my problems and difficulties and ask you to help me deal with these. I claim your promise that Paul gave us in Philippians 4 that we should not become anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving we should present it to you and if we do you will give us your peace, which transcends all understanding. So I earnestly ask for your peace in the midst of my problems in the Name of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savoir Amen.