PSALM 115 TALK: HALLELUJAH: THE LORD ALONE DESERVES OUR TRUST AND PRAISE

PSALM 115 TALK: HALLELUJAH: THE LORD ALONE DESERVES OUR TRUST

                                     AND PRAISE

(A Psalm of praise that directs us to trust and praise the God of the bible alone as he deserves our praise because he is the creator of this world and the entire universe and at the same time he has loved us with an everlasting and faithful love and promises to bless us if we but turn to him in faith and obedience).

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 the current ministers of the church I attend is a very good preacher and bible teacher and often receives compliments for his interesting and helpful sermons and he has told us that his usual response to these compliments is to say, “praise to the appropriate authority” and then points one of his fingers to the sky indicating the praise belongs to the Lord above for anything he said that they found helpful.

Psalm 115 is another “Hallelujah Song” (Psalms 111 – 118) that states clearly we do not deserve praise only God and in fact because of God’s loving faithfulness to his people he also deserves our trust as well.

Psalm 115 is also part of what is called “The Egyptian Hallel” Psalms (Psalms 113 – 118) used as part of the Passover Celebrations and Psalm 115 was one of four Psalms sung or said after the Passover meal was completed.

The Psalm was believed to have been written after the Jews returned from exile in Babylon which was when this Psalm was certainly placed in what we call the fifth book of Psalms. If this is correct then this was a very difficult time for the Jewish nation who have just returned to a ruined Israel now containing many non – Jewish and non God believing people who had started to settle in the land of Israel after most of the Jews who were not killed by the Babylonians were taken in captivity in Babylon for 70 years or more.

The returning Jews would have been small in number and would have had great challenges from idol worship religions of many other nations which explains why this Psalm features a challenge to the one God of the bible belief as opposed to what it sets down as false and powerless idol worship.

The people from other Nations now also in Israel would have known what happened to the Jews first through the Assyrian conquest and nearly 200 hundred years later what happened to the southern kingdom Judah and would have asked the question in verse 2,

“Where is your God”

Not only did the Jews not have a idol to represent their God but their God seemed to be both silent and inactive when foreign different God believing nations overran them. This of course is counted by the fact that the prophets of Judah like Jeremiah had predicted that God would judge the Nation of Judah through the Babylonians because of their unfaithfulness and sinfulness to the God of the bible.

Also the prophets like Jeremiah predicted that after only 70 years in exile in Babylon the Babylonians would be overrun by another great nation and be allowed to return to Israel to re-build there Temple and capitol city of Jerusalem and freely practice their faith in their God again.

This all happened around 539 BC when the Persians defeated the Babylonians as Jeremiah had predicted and the Jews were miraculously allowed and even encouraged to return to their homeland to rebuild their nation and practice their faith in their God again.

Today one of the main anti – God of the bible views, “Atheism” aggressively seeks to put down and eliminate any following of the God of the bible. They are now arguing that faith in a God and particularly the God of the bible is both a fairytale and dangerous.

A coupe of years ago a non – Christian radio presenter named Richard Glover wrote a article in a local newspaper entitled, “Sticking up for the believers” and in that article he says this,

“Inviting a cleric onto ABC radio, as I do from time to time, brings a torrent of enraged correspondence. “How dare you give this man airtime?”, “I am disgusted you would allow this,” and, “Who possibly thought this was a good idea?”.

The phrase “religious nutter” is then much employed, as if it would be a grammatical mistake to use the world “religious” with a “nutter” in close attendance.

The “nutter” in question is usually the Catholic or Anglican Archbishop of Sydney – two chaps who are both scholarly, quick-witted, urbane and humane. To any open-minded person, what they say is at least as interesting as what anybody else has to say.

So why the derision? Why the fight to the death? Why the demeaning sneers of, “This guy believes in fairy stories”?

This kind of intensive opposition has been growing over the past twenty years or so now and is a modern version of what I believe the Jews faced in the return from exile in Babylon which I believe the writer of Psalm 115 picks up in his Psalm. The Psalm then will have a lot to say to us as we face the same kind of opposition the people faced after the return from exile in Babylon.

The final introductory remarks I would like to add before we look closely at this Psalm is the idea that this Psalm is designed to have as H.C. Leopold describes a,

“Lively liturgical pattern of rendition”.

This means that Psalm 115 was used by ancient Hebrews in their worship services after the Passover and different parts were either sung or read by different members of the Hebrew congregation. Who sang or said what is now lost but Leopold suggests the following possible liturgical makeup he quotes from a man named Kittel,

1. (vs’s 1 – 2) – Congregation (as a whole), 2. (vs’s 3 – 8) – Choir, 3. (vs’s 9 – 11) – Levites, 4. (vs’s 12 – 13) – Priests, 5. (vs’s 14 – 15) – Choir, 6. (vs’s 16 – 18) – Congregation (as a whole).

With the theme of the Lord alone deserves our praise and trust my outline for this Psalm talk is:

(vs. 1) PRAISE THE LORD ALONE

1. (1a) God alone deserves our praise
2. (1b). He deserves our praise alone because of his love

2. (2 – 8) PRAISE THE LORD ALONE AND NOT ANY OTHER GOD ALTERNATIVE

1. (2 – 3) Where is you God?
2. (4 – 8) The uselessness of all alternative God views

3. (9 – 15). TRUST IN THE LORD ALONE

1. (9 – 13) All true believers trust in God
2. (14 – 15) Trust in the Lord alone and be blessed by him

4. (16 – 18) A FINAL CALL TO PRAISE THE LORD ALONE

1. (vs. 16) Why God alone deserves our praise
2. (17 – 18) While your alive you must praise the Lord

(vs. 1) PRAISE THE LORD ALONE

1. (1a) God alone deserves our praise

The Psalm starts with a very upfront statement that says,

“Not to us, Lord, not to us but your name be the glory”

If Kittel’s liturgical pattern is correct the whole Hebrew congregation states clearly and strongly that they are not to receive glory but God alone deserves to be glorified. Even Jesus spoke of his purpose as to glorify his father in heaven in John 17: 1 – 4,

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do”.

Paul spoke of our purpose is to bring glory to God and not ourselves in 1 Corinthians 10: 31,

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

Tremper Longman 111, says this about the opening words of this Psalm,

“The repetition of ‘not to us’ is for emphasis and signals just how hard it is for us to diminish our own accomplishments and give the praise to the one to who it belongs”.

Two of the prophets, Ezekiel and Daniel who lived and wrote their prophecies during the time of the Babylonian captivity spoke strongly that the people of God where brought out of captivity in Egypt so that God’s name could be glorified, Ezekiel 20: 9,

But for the sake of my name, I brought them out of Egypt. I did it to keep my name from being profaned in the eyes of the nations among whom they lived and in whose sight I had revealed myself to the Israelites.

And likewise out of captivity in Babylon for the same reason, so that God can be glorified, Ezekiel 36: 21 – 23,

“I had concern for my holy name, which the people of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone.

22 “Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. 23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.”.

And Daniel says something similar in prayer to God in Daniel 9: 18 – 19,

“Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

So at the start of Psalm 115 the writer is getting the people to openly state in their worship of God, probably after the passover celebration to declare that God alone deserves their praise,

We must learn from this and seek as much as we can to direct praise away from ourselves to God who alone deserves our praise as the minister at my church seeks to do by saying,

“Praise to the appropriate authority”

Who the opening of this Psalm says is,

“God’s name”

Or as we have seen in previous Psalms God’s name means all that the God of the bible is which we will learn something of in the rest of this Psalm.

2. (1b). He deserves our praise alone because of his love

So the first and principle reason this Psalm says that the God of the bible deserves all praise alone is expressed in the second part of verse 1,

“Because of your love and faithfulness”

I have read so many times of God’s love and faithfulness in so many of the Psalms I have studied and that is up to 115 now. The early Psalms that are particularly written by King David speak of the love and faithfulness of God over and over again, like Psalm 36: 5,

“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies”.

David particularly knew that he was saved by God from both the consequences of his sins and his enemies because of God’s love and faithfulness as he clearly states in Psalm 57: 2 – 3,

“I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me. 3 He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me— God sends forth his love and his faithfulness”.

And relating to the terrible consequences of his sins of adultery and murder he prays this in Psalm 51: 1,

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

Why did David have such a view that the God of the bible, his God was such a great God of love and faithfulness?

The simple answer is he knew his bible and particularly when the bible speaks of how God decided to relate to his nation, Israel as we read in Deuteronomy 7: 7 – 9,

“The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments”.

Note how this love of God is called God’s,

“Covenant of love”

A covenant is an binding agreement and God gives Israel his promise of his love which is binding or faithful in other words he must and will keep it.

When we Psalm 115 was written God had again demonstrated his love and faithfulness or promise to save and love his people by brining the people out of bondage in the captivity in Babylon. The Jews themselves were powerless to save themselves out of the powerful hand of the Babylonians.
God had to act on their behalf and he did through the rise of the Persians who crushed the Babylonian empire so quickly and ruthlessly and then had the remarkable policy of sending former captive people back to the lands they originally came from and not only that resourcing them to rebuild their homelands again and practice their former faiths as well.

This I believe is what the writer of Psalm 115 has in mind when says,

“Because of your love and faithfulness”

They are to give the Lord the glory he therefore deserves.

We too must do the same for even greater reasons as we know from the famous John 3: 16 verse,

“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”.

God again acted miraculously in human history to love and save us from the consequences of our many sins. We like the Jews in Babylon cannot save ourselves and God alone has to do it for us as Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 2: 8,

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

God alone deserves our praise as he through The Lord Jesus Christ is the glorious God of love who Paul tells us we should praise and why in Ephesians 1: 3 – 10,

“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. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[a] predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ”.

During my study of this Psalm the Lord inspired me to write new song based on the teaching in this Psalm and I will quote from it when what it says summarises my thoughts on the different parts of this Psalm talk and the chorus of this new song relates to what I have learnt from the first verse of this Psalm and it goes like this:

Not for me but for the Lord
That’s the way its got to be.
Glorify the Lord up above
And praise him for his wondrous love.

2. (2 – 8) PRAISE THE LORD ALONE AND NOT ANY OTHER GOD ALTERNATIVE

1. (2 – 3) Where is you God?

After the very up front statement of the first verse that we believe the entire Hebrew congregation sang or said about how God alone deserves the glory and not us and therefore he alone deserves our praise the congregation then possess a question in verse 2 that says,

“Why do the nations say,
“Where is their God?”

If this was written and first used in Jewish worship at the time of the return from Babylonian captivity then it is a very appropriate question to ask.
They had just spent at least 70 years as a captive nation in the many god’s, idol worship world of the Babylonians. The Jews had no physical representation of their one God as the second commandment of the ten commandments says in Exodus 20: 4 – 6,

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth
beneath or in the waters below. 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, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love
me and keep my commandments”.

The pressure of not believing in the God of the bible would have continued back in Israel now also
occupied by many non – Jewish people who also would have believed in many god’s and of course
all these so called “gods” had some kind of physical representation of them that we call a idol.

People might ask, so whats so wrong with having a physical representation of God?

I see three main answers to this question:

No matter what physical or earthly object or animal you choose you will not be able to capture
the true essence of the God of the bible. For instance you might chose an animal like a bull
to say God is strong like a bull but a bull is also a dumb animal so you are also saying that the God
of the bible is not only strong but dumb. This means you are selling short the reality of what the
bible says about what the God who made heaven and earth is actually like.

2. Once you set up a physical representation of the God of the bible the reality is this image
becomes the object of what you worship. I saw this on a trip through Europe years ago where the
Roman Catholic church had statues of Mary and the crucified Christ everywhere and people
bowed and worshipped the statues and I believe not what they supposed to represent. They kissed
the statues, bowed before them and treated them as though that was the focus of their worship
and not the God of the bible.

3. The God of the bible is not a man with a physical body of any kind as the bible presents God as
a spirit, as Jesus says in John 4: 24,

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Gotquestions?org explains it this way,

“The fact that God is spirit means that God the Father does not have a human body. God the Son came to earth in human form (John 1:1), but God the Father did not. Jesus is unique as Emmanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Numbers 23:19 emphasises God’s truthfulness by contrasting Him with mortal men: “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind.”

Another reason why the Nations around about the Jews asked the question “Where is your God is
because they knew that they had been defeated by the Babylonians and were sent into captivity for
70 years or so and therefore they would have thought that because of this the supposed all
powerful God of the Jews was either not really there or had deserted them and therefore they
would ask,

“Where is your God?”

The reason of course why the Jews went into captivity in Babylon was because their God, the God
of the bible judged his people for their many sins particularly the sin of turning to other God’s who
were represented by idols that the Jews even set up in the Temple that was supposed to point
them and other people to the biblical reality that the God of the bible lives in heaven but has
chosen to make his presence known with his people who are called by him to trust and obey him
and him alone as Jeremiah foretold in Jeremiah 25: 1 – 11,

“The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.

2 So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: 3 For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.

4 And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. 5 They said, “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. 6 Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not arouse my anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.”

7 “But you did not listen to me,” declares the Lord, “and you have aroused my anger with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.”

8 Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, 9 I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. 10 I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”.

This would have been known by the Nations but of course they would have been sceptical or even rejected this interpretation of why the Jews went into exile and why they were allowed to return from exile because of a lucky turn of events in that time that also luckily fitted into the supposed prophecies of men like Jeremiah.

I say this because even today when God answers Christians prayers sceptical non – believers often explain these events as just lucky turn of events that helped the Christian who happened to have prayed to their supposed God who answered their prayers.

If a person does not wont to believe in a God they will find all kinds of reasons and arguments to back them up. Some might say that this is the same with people who believe in a God that they will find all kinds of reasons and arguments to back them up.

All we, as believers can do is follow the advice of Peter when he says in 1 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 nations round about the Jews back in Israel after they spent 70 or so years in captivity have just asked in verse 2 the question,

“Where is their God”

Then in verse 3 Kittel’s liturgical scheme of how the ancient Hebrews sang or said this Psalm says that a special choir would answer this question with,

“Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him”

This is the biblical answer to where is God, even today,

God lives in heaven where he controls and rules the universe and the world from as we read in Psalm 99: 1 – 3,

“The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake. 2 Great is the Lord in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations. 3 Let them praise your great and awesome name— he is holy”.

Or Psalm 93: 1 – 2,

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

I learnt this same truth from my study of Psalm 113 the same thing when he says in verses 4 – 5,

“The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high.”

However the next verse says,

“Who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?”

So the God of the bible is both a God who dwells and rules the world and the universe from heaven but chooses to stoop down to both speak to and help his people who are those who turn and trust in him as second half of this Psalm will tell us.

In my Psalm talk on Psalm 113 I spoke of how this stooping down of God was so far that he sent his Son into the world to become a human being like us and serve mankind not be served and to go as far as dying on the cross for our sins as Paul particularly sets down in Philippians 2: 6 – 8 but then in verses 9 – 11 this stooping down ceases and Jesus then rises up and ascends back from the dead into heaven from where one day he will stoop down again but this time as the great almighty God who will judge the world and be acknowledged by everyone as the great King or Lord of heaven and earth as he is, verses 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”.

Finally verse 3 says,

“He does whatever pleases him”

Albert Barnes gives us a complete explanation to these words in verse 3 with this,

“He is a sovereign God; and mysterious as are his doings, and much as there seems to be occasion to ask the question “Where is now your God?” yet we are to feel that what has occurred has been in accordance with his eternal plans, and is to be submitted to as a part of his arrangements. It is, in fact, always a sufficient answer to the objections which are made to the government of God, as if he had forsaken his people in bringing affliction on them, and leaving them, apparently without interposition, to poverty, to persecution, and to tears, that he is “in the heavens;” that he rules there and everywhere; that he has his own eternal purposes; and that all things are ordered in accordance with his will. There must, therefore, be some good reason why events occur as they actually do”.

The last part of the Albert Barnes quote reminds me of Paul’s words 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”.

The God who controls and rules heaven and earth might be a sovereign God who does whatever he pleases but his is also according to verse 1b is a God of,

‘Love and faithfulness”

Which means what he pleases to do, according to Paul in Romans 8: 28 is to work all things for good for those who trust in him but if we reject him we will have to face him in judgement as their is no salvation from the consequences of our sins without the shed blood of Christ, as Hebrews 9: 22 says,

“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”.

Then in verses 27 and 28 the writer to the Hebrews declares,

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him”.

My first verse of my new song inspired by Psalm 115 summarises what I learnt from verses 2 and 3 of this Psalm,

Where is your God, they say
Who you pray to every day?
Our God is in heaven up above
And he cares for us with his love.

2. (4 – 8) The uselessness of all alternative God views

According to Kittel’s liturgical structure of this Psalm the choir continues to sing the words of verse 4 to 8 which speak of the uselessness of idol worship which I will expand on to include any alternative God view that is not that of the God of the bible.

Why does the writer move on to speak about idol worship in verses 4 – 8?

The best answer for me to this important question came to me from The Cambridge Bible commentary for schools and colleges,

“The heathen taunt us with the impotence of our God? What are their own gods? Nothing but their own handiwork, destitute of ordinary human senses, though represented with organs of sense”.

So the writer is saying by implication, alright you say we have a God who is useless and powerless or as they say today does not exist ,

Well what do you believe in?

In our writers day the great God of the bible alternative view was usually some kind of god’s that were made of wood or stone. In Myanmar which I visited again recently the idols are usually big Buddhas often made of gold or at least coated with gold but no matter how big or expensive looking they are might be they leave me feeling cold not inspired as they are useless religious structures that have no spiritual power or ability.

This is what verses 4 – 7 is actually saying,

“But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. 5 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see. 6 They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. 7 They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats”.

I love Isaiah’s sarcastic go at the futility of idol worship of idols made out of wood in Isaiah 44: 14 – 20,

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

18 They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. 19  No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, “Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?” 20 Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

Idol worship is condemned in a number of places in the bible, like other passages in Isaiah, 40: 18 – 20, 41: 7 and verse 29, 46: 5 – 7 and even Jeremiah has something to say about this in Jeremiah 10: 1 to 5.

Psalm 135 uses these verses directly in its verses 13 – 18, which also includes verse 8 of Psalm 115.

So God through his word is making it clear that these idol god alternatives are useless and powerless and yet the implication of the question asked by the nations who believe in these idol God’s is that Israels God, the God of the bible is useless and powerless.

The final verse the choir sings here is verse 8 which says,

“Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them”.

Leopold writes,

“Futility is the mark of the idols and futility marks their worshippers”.

The story of Elijah challenging the priests of the idol worshipping god called Baal shows both the futility and powerlessness of idol worshippers and of course the value and power of believing in the one true God of heaven and earth, the God of the bible. The climax of that wonderful story is in 1 Kings 18: 36 – 39,

“At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”

Even though idol worship still exists today in the Old Testament form of man fashioning idols as I have seen in places like Myanmar when I visit there other alternatives to the God of the bible is still applicable here.

Any god view that does not see God as the almighty spirit who dwells in heaven as lord supreme of this world and entire universe and who is both God to be feared and yet God who has stooped down particularly through the Lord Jesus Christ to save us is nothing more than a delusion.

When Paul was in Athens recored in Acts 17 he saw the many idols their and reasoned that this was evidence that these people did not know God. All other non – God of the bible views of God are simply elaborate attempts by human beings seeking to know the unknown God and designing from their own minds and imaginations a view of God that is useless and futile.
So Paul’s sermon to the top thinkers of the idol worshipping Athenians was to take them from a altar to a unknown God to the message of the God who has revealed himself in his Son, Jesus Christ and Paul says this about him in Acts 17: 24 – 31,

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.” As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’.

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 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.”

My new song inspired by the message of Psalm 115 summarises verses 4 – 8 with these words,

Turn form this worlds idols now
For they have no spiritual power.
They cannot help you when your down
They are useless when life causes you to frown.

3. (9 – 15). TRUST IN THE LORD ALONE

1. (9 – 13) All true believers trust in God

Now two particular special groups of the ancient Hebrew congregation share the singing or saying of the next 5 verses according to Kittel’s liturgical pattern, with The Levites sining or saying verses 9 – 11 and the priests singing or saying verses 12 – 13.

There is actually three main groups people mentioned here:

  1. The whole of the Nation of Israel (vs. 9, 12a)
  2. The religious leaders of Israel (vs. 10, 12b)
  3. All who fear the Lord, the God of the bible (vs. 11, 13)

These verses change from a call to praise to a call to trust in the Lord in whom they must praise alone. They feature a kind of refrain which contains two good reasons why they must trust in the Lord, the God of the bible and that is,

“He is their help and shield”.

So lets have a closer look at these next five verses, first looking at the call to trust to the three groups of people.

  1. The whole nation of Israel (vs. 9 and 12a)

Verse 9 is a call to all of the members of the Israel to trust in the Lord and it reads this way,

“All you Israelites, trust in the Lord”

Then in the first part of verse 12,

“The Lord remembers us and will bless us; He will bless his people Israel”.

Israel was God’s special nation who he called to be his special people who were to be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19: 5 – 6).

To be this God made a covenant with them that said that if they trusted in him alone and kept his commandments they would be blessed by him. This blessing involved protecting them from their enemies, giving them a Promised land and giving them the blessing of children and a prosperous nation.

These great promises lie at the heart what Psalm 115 is speaking about when it says that Israel should trust in the Lord alone and not obviously any other God alternative like the many idol gods of the Nations around about them.

Verse 12a speaks of how God remembers to bless his people which is God remembering his special covenantal promises and even the blessing of children is spoken of in verse 14,

“May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children”.

The promise of God helping and protecting his people is in the refrain words of these verses that says simply,

“He is their help and shield”

A shield was a very real poetic image for people of ancient times as shields helped soldiers fend off swords, spears and arrows that were used to attempt to kill them in battle.

As Christians we have a far better covenant of God’s love as we live after the coming of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ who both fulfilled the original covenant and established are far better new covenant as the writer to the Hebrews sets out in Chapter 8 of his letter, as we read in Hebrews 8: 6,

“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”

My third verse of my new song inspired by this part of Psalm 115 summarises well what I understand these verses are saying,

So trust in the Lord today
He will shield you when you pray.
He came from heaven up above
To help and save you by his love.

2. The religious leaders of Israel (vs. 10, 12b)

The second people the writer of Psalm 115 picks out to call to trust in the Lord alone are the religious leaders of the Nation of Israel. These men are part of the whole nation of Israel but have been called to do a special job which was to lead and teach the people God’s word and lead them in worship of him.

The religious leaders on the Old Testament were the descendants of Aaron and this is why we read this in verse 10,

“House of Aaron trust in the Lord – he is their help and shield”.

The descendants of Aaron became the priests assisted by the descendants of Levi who were loyal to Moses and God’s covenant in the incident of the false idol worship of the Golden calf recorded in Exodus 32 and became known as the Levites.

Allen Harmon points out the significance of the priests or the house of Aaron after the return from Babylonian captivity with these words,

“The involvement of the house of Aron is particularly fitting for the period after the exile, when the priests had to assume a very prominent role and were the principle teaches of the people”.

As the prophet Malachi speaks of after the return from captivity in Babylon in Malachi 2: 7,

“For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth”.

So if the people of Israel are led by priests who trust in the Lord alone and do not turn to the worship of useless idols they will be both blessed and a blessing to the people of God as verse 12 says,

“The Lord remembers us and will bless us; He will bless his people Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron”.

In the New Covenant we read of Jesus being our priest who both represents us before God the father and who offers up himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins as we start to read of in Hebrews 8: 1 – 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, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being”.

And as the perfect sacrifice for our sins Hebrews 9: 11 – 14,

“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!”

In the New Covenant then Jesus is the high priest and Peter teaches that all followers of him are now priests or part of the kingdom of priests that proclaim the wonderful message of God to the world 1 Peter 2: 9 – 10,

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

Our ministers in the church should not be called priests as some Christian churches still do but rather ministers or pastors of the flock which Paul set down in many of his letters to the churches. Our minsters or pastors have the special job of teaching and equipping the church or God’s flock to be priests or instruments of blessing to the world was Paul says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4: 1 – 5,

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 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. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry”.

3. All who fear the Lord, the God of the bible (vs. 11, 13)

The last group of people the writer of Psalm 115 calls to trust in the Lord alone are called simply,

“Those who fear him” (vs. 11 and 13)

Of course this description fits both the general people of Israel and of course the priests but it could also fit as a description of people outside of the nation of Israel in Old Testament times up to the coming of Christ who trusted or revered, feared the Lord of heaven and earth as presented in the bible.

The New Testament actually calls these people, “God fearers” as we see for instance in Acts 10: 2,

“He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly”

This is a description of a non Jew named Cornelius a Roman centurion who Peter is called by God to bring to faith in the the Lord Jesus Christ with his whole household.

So even in the Old Testament people outside of the special nation of Israel were called upon to fear or revere the God of the bible and to trust in him, verse 11,

“You who fear him, trust in the Lord – he is their help and shield”.

They to are promised to be blessed by God in verse 13,

“He will bless those who fear the Lord – small and great alike”.

The words small and great alike could be in Old Testament terms the young and old alike or as Tremper Longman 111 says,

“God does not favour the powerful and rich over the disenfranchised and the poor, or vice versa, All may put their confidence in him”.

My fourth verse of my new song based on Psalm 115 sums up what these verses have said to me:

The Lord will remember us
And all we have to do is trust.
He promises to bless us all our days
If we turn to him and give him praise.

2. (14 – 15) Trust in the Lord alone and be blessed by him

So Kittel would suggest that these two verses, 14 and 15 would have been sung by the choir again and they speak to the three previous groups of people, the whole nation of Israel, the religious leaders and the non – jew believers the writer of Psalm 115 call “you who fear him” which the New Testament calls “God fearers”.

What the choir sings about two forms of blessings for those who trust in the Lord alone:

  1. The blessing of the nation flourishing who trust in the Lord alone (vs. 14)
  2. The general blessing of all who trust in the Lord alone (vs. 15)

Lets have a closer look at each of these two promises of blessings that the Hebrew choir now sing.

  1. The blessing of the nation flourishing who trust in the Lord alone (vs. 14)

This first promise of God’s blessing on the Nation of Israel would have been very apt for the Jews of the time of their return from exile in Babylon. They had by then suffered massive loss of lives when the Babylonian invaded Judah and then took a number of those who survived into exile. Many would have died in the harsh life of captivity and not all of them would have returned from exile as well.

The relatively small number of God fearing, God believing and God trusting Jews would have been tiny in number and we learn from the books of Ezra and Nehemiah and the prophetic books of Zechariah and Malachi that the Jews were now living back in Israel with many non Jewish non God of the bible believing people.

So the blessing of the Nation flourishing in just numbers again was crucial for the survival of God’s people, so we read of this promise in verse 14,

“May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children”.

The promise of God’s people flourishing goes back as far as Abraham and is stated in the time of Moses in Deuteronomy 1: 11,

“May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised!”

In Old Testament terms the reality of families flourishing was a sign of God’s blessing on a community or nation as we read in Psalm 127: 3 – 5,

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a
warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court”.

In the New Testament the concept of families flourishing is seen in how the book of Acts records a number of families coming to the Lord like we saw earlier in the case of the Roman centurion named Cornelius in Acts 10. Also Paul had much to say to families and speaks of the obligations of Husbands, wives and children in a number of places.

However it is the spiritual family that the New Testament has much to speak about, The New Israel of God that is made up of Jews and people of every nation of the world which Paul speaks about in Galatians 3: 26 – 29,

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptised 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 speaks in Galatians 4 of how God worked through the process of birth when Jesus came to earth born of a women, Mary to be redeem us from our sins so that we could receive the gift of Sonship or being part of the blessed family of God, Galatians 4: 4 – 7,

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir”.

So all the promises of God made to Israel in the Old Testament are now applicable to Christians as we are no longer foreigners and strangers as Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2 but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, Ephesians 2: 19 – 22,

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

So when Psalm 115: 14 says:

“May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children”.

Through what Christ has done for us we can apply this to ourselves, our human families and even more to the family of God which we belong to through faith or trust alone in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The general blessing of all who trust in the Lord alone (vs. 15)

Then the choir sings of God’s general blessings to those who trust in God alone as verse 15 says,

“May you be blessed by the Lord the maker of heaven and earth”

Spurgeon aptly writes,

“This is an omnipotent blessing, conveying to us all that an Almighty God can do, whether in heaven or on earth. This fulness is infinite, and the consolation which it brings is unfailing: he that made heaven and earth can give us all things while we dwell below, and bring us safely to his palace above. Happy are the people upon whom such a blessing rests; their portion is infinitely above that of those whose only hope lies in a piece of gilded wood, or an image of sculptured stone”.

Spurgeon is picking up the point that the wording of verse 15 might seem to be a very general blessing but it is a blessing that comes from,

“The Lord the maker of heaven and earth”

Because he is the maker of heaven and earth he has unlimited resources and therefore his blessings are unlimited. Paul gives praise to all the blessings we have in Christ as part of being in the family of God in Ephesians 1 and says this in verses 3 – 10,

“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. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ”.

Many years ago two Mormon missionaries from America came to my door and wanted to come into my house to give me a blessing and I said, “No I did not need your blessing as I have all the blessings I could handle and more in Christ Jesus already” and I opened my bible and read this passage. They left my house shaking their heads and muttering with an American ascent, “and he doesn’t want our blessing”.

My fifth and final verse of my new song inspired by the words of this Psalm sums up what I learnt from these verses in the Psalm:

May the Lord bless our families
As we come to him on our knees.
Praise the Lord who made heaven and earth
For his transformed us by spiritual re-birth.

4. (16 – 18) A FINAL CALL TO PRAISE THE LORD ALONE

1. (vs. 16) Why God alone deserves our praise

According to Kittel’s liturgical plan for this Psalm the final two verse were sung or said by the entire ancient Hebrew congregation. They represent a final call to praise the Lord alone and verse 16 makes it clear why we should do so,

“The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind”.

The writer of Psalm 115 has made it clear that idol gods’ have no power or worth so we should not trust in them or give them praise but The Lord, the God of the bible is according to verse 15,

“The maker of heaven and earth
And now in verse 16 the heaven and earth belong to him and so he alone deserves our trust and praise.

Then verse 16 gives us another reason to praise God alone and that is because he has given to us the earth. This idea comes directly from the first book of the bible Genesis, in Genesis 1: 26 – 28,

“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the
fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all
the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Mankind was given the earth to rule over it but because of sin or rebellion to God the earth now is cursed and we struggle and toil to subdue it and work in it as we read in Genesis 3: 17 – 19,

“To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18  It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

However God has still given the earth to mankind and this should cause us to do two things:

  1. Praise God for all he has given us in this world and this life.
  2. Seek to look after what he has given us in this world and this life.

Paul speaks of creation groaning in Romans 8: 18 – 21 as it to awaits its release from our sin and its consequences,

“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”

Paul goes on to say that because we, even as God’s children groan as well because we still live in a fallen world. But we groan with a great hope and with great support from God’s Holy Spirit who helps us as we groan or struggle at times in this fallen world, Romans 8: 22 – 27,

“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. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God”.

So we have much to praise God for as he who we trust in and who blesses us even in our struggles in this world as we seek to live for him.

2. (17 – 18) While your alive you must praise the Lord

So the Psalm ends with what seems a strange final call to praise in verses 17 – 18,,

“It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to the place of silence; 18  it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore. Praise the Lord”.

It was Albert Barnes who best explained the real meaning of these final two verses to me with this,

“The dead praise not the Lord – The meaning of this is, that as those who are dead cannot praise God, or cannot worship him, this should be done while we are in the land of the living. This opportunity, like all other opportunities, will be cut off in the grave, and hence, we should be faithful in this duty, and should avail ourselves of this privilege, while life lasts”.

Some say that this Psalm was written after a battle where dead soldiers were real in the minds of the people but I don’t think this is necessary to understand while the writer of Psalm 115 chose to speak about the living praising God and as the dead cannot praise the Lord.

However from a New Testament point of view the dead in Christ are with the Lord and there they join the angels in praise forevermore as we read in Revelation 19: 4 – 8,

“The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!” 5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying:
“Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both great and small!” 6 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. 7 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. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

The point of this final call to praise the Lord alone is expressed in verse 18,

“It is we who extol the Lord both now and forevermore”.

The first question of the famous Westminster Catechism is:

“What is the chief end of man?”

And the answer is:

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever”.

Our lives as well as our worship of our Lord should be in a attitude of praise as Paul makes it clear 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”.

We have learnt in this Psalm that there are many reasons why we should praise and trust God alone and so it is only fitting that the final words of this Psalm is,

“Praise the Lord”

Or as it is in the ancient Hebrew language:

“Hallelujah”.

I Close this Psalm talk with the full set of words for the new song I composed based on and inspired by this Psalm and what it taught me and then I will close the Psalm talk with a prayer.

NOT FOR ME BUT FOR THE LORD (Based on Psalm 115)

Chorus:
Not for me but for the Lord
Thats the way its got to be
Glorify the Lord up above
And praise him for his wondrous love.

Where is your God they say
Who you pray to every day
Our God is in heaven up above
And he cares for us with his love.

Chorus:

Turn from this worlds idols now
For they have no spiritual power
They cannot help you when your down
They are useless when life causes you to frown.

Chorus:

So trust in the Lord to day
He will shield you when you pray
He came from heaven up above
To help and save us by his love.

Chorus:

The Lord will remember us
And all we have to do is trust.
He promises us to bless us all our days
If we turn to him and give him praise.

Chorus:

May the Lord bless our families
As we come to him on our knees.
Praise to the Lord who made heaven and earth
For his transformed us by spiritual re- birth.

Chorus:

Not for me but for the Lord
Thats the way its got to be
Glorify the Lord up above
And praise for his wondrous love.

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

I praise you Lord above because you are such a great and loving God and I know this because you sent Jesus into our world to die for me so that my sins could be forgiven and through that I have become a member of your eternal family. I recognise that you alone deserve all praise and glory and I reject any alternative to you and your word and I seek to trust you and you alone. I know from your word that if I trust you your promise is to help and protect me. I thank and praise you Lord for your many blessings and I ask that you will help me to always trust in you alone as you are the Lord and creator of the universe who loves me even though I don’t deserve this love. In the glorious name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

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PSALM 114 TALK: HALLELUJAH – GOD LEADS HIS PEOPLE OUT OF BONDAGE BY HIS POWERFUL PRESENCE

PSALM 114 TALK: HALLELUJAH – GOD LEADS HIS PEOPLE OUT OF BONDAGE BY HIS
POWERFUL PRESENCE

(This Psalm is part of a series of Psalms that are called The Hallelujah Songs and this Psalm is one of two, 113 and 114, that were said or sung before the Jewish Passover Festival and the two following, 115 and 116 were said and sung after the passover festival. This Psalm does not contain the Jewish word “Hallelujah” but it is a word of praise that features how God intervened in history with his special powerful presence to lead his people out of bondage in Egypt and into the Promised land of Israel).

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

INTRODUCTION

In January 1936 a school girl named Phyllis wrote a short letter to Albert Einstein, who is probably one of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century. Phyllis asked Einstein “Do scientists pray, and what do they pray for?

Albert Einstein’s reply is as follows,

Dear Phyllis, 

I will attempt to reply to your question as simply as I can. Here is my answer:

Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish.

However, we must concede that our actual knowledge of these forces is imperfect, so that in the end the belief in the existence of a final, ultimate spirit rests on a kind of faith. Such belief remains widespread even with the current achievements in science. 

But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive. 

With cordial greetings, 

your A. Einstein

Einstein is said to have had what is called a Deist view of God and this has been explained to me by a women named Catherine Giordano who wrote a article in June 2017 entitled, “What was Einstein’s Religion? Diest? Pantheist? Humanist? Atheist?, she writes quoting Albert Einstein first and then explaining what he is saying,

“I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings.”

Spinoza’s god was a deist god, a “God of Nature,” a “Prime Mover,” who set the universe in motion, but then no longer concerned Himself with it. Einstein often speaks of a “cosmic religion”—he describes himself as religious because he is in awe of the universe and the spirit that he perceives to have created it and is imbued in it”.

The Deist view of God is very popular today and so to is the Atheist view which is to argue that there is no God and that all we see and know and even don’t know about the life and the universe came about by a miraculous accident of evolution.

Psalm 114 speaks directly against these two false views of God as Psalm 114 presents clearly that God is there and that he has concerned himself with the fates and actions of human beings because he got involved in human history and led his special people, Israel out of their bondage in Egypt and successfully into his promised land for them known originally as Canaan but became known as Israel.

God achieved this by using his great and almighty power to do things like divide the waters of a sea so his people could cross, made a mountain tremble and smoke as he came close to it, made water come out of a rock to provide water for his people in a desert and stopped the waters of the river Jordan so his people could cross to go into his promised land and conquer it.

Allan Harmon sums up what this Psalm has to say and how it was composed by saying,

“This Psalm uses vivid poetic images to show how the creator used the forces of nature to achieve his purposes”.

Psalm 114 and 113 are said to be part of the “Hallelujah Songs” (Psalms 111 – 118) and also part of the Egyptian Hallel Psalms (113 – 116) used as part of the Passover celebrations and 114 and 113 have been sung by Jews for centuries before the passover meal and 115 and 116 sung after the passover meal.

Psalm 114 does not contain the Hebrew word “Hallelujah” but it is still a praise of the Hebrew God who is called “Yahweh” particularly when he used Moses to lead his people, Israel out of Egypt and up to the Promised land and then under the leadership of Joshua into the Promised Land.

Psalm 114 tells us very clearly that God is there and he is, has been and will be involved in our world. As Christians we will see what I call parallels between the Jewish Passover, God leading his people out of slavery in Egypt and into his presence in his Promised land in Israel and The Lord Jesus Christ through the Easter message leading us out of the slavery of sin and into his presence ultimately into his eternal dwelling place called heaven.

Leopold quotes Martin Luther’s application of this Psalm with these words,

“We on our part sing this psalm daily to praise Christ, who leads us out of death and sin, through the midst of the raging’s of the world, the flesh, and the devil into life eternal”.

It is not a coincidence that Jesus died for our sins on the cross at the time of the Jewish passover celebrations as his death and resurrection is God’s direct involvement in human history like the original passover to lead those who put their trust in his son and what he has done for them out of the slavery of sin and into his eternal presence which is heaven for all true believers.

We do not know when this Psalm was first written although the special reference to Judah becoming God’s sanctuary places its composition after Israel became divided into two Kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south. However we know that this Psalm was placed in the fifth and final book of Psalms after the return from exile. The Psalm would have spoken to the Jews of that time on a number of levels.

Similar to God leading his people out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt they had recently saw how God acting through actual history of their times and led them out of cruel captivity in Babylon and back into the Promised Land of Israel.

The Psalm would also had given the Jews of the post Babylonian exile hope and more reasons for faith as they struggled back in Israel to re-establish their Land and Jerusalem their holy capitol. It was not a easy time for the post Babylonian captives in Israel as they faced the hardship of local non – Jewish opposition and a land and city of Jerusalem totally smashed and destroyed by the Babylonian invasion but their God is high and mighty and is described in verse 7 this way,

“Tremble earth, at the presence of the Lord at the presence of the God of Jacob”.

With the theme of Praise the God (Hallelujah) who leads his people out of bondage of slavery by his powerful presence my outline for this Psalm follows the simple four, two verse structure of this Psalm:

(1 – 2) OUT OF EGYPT AND INTO GOD’S PRESENCE

1. (vs. 1) Out of Egypt’s bondage
2. (vs. 2) Into God’s Presence

2. (3 – 4). GOD’S PRESENCE MADE THE SEA AND RIVER FLEE AND THE MOUNTAINS
LEAP

1. (vs. 3) God’s presence made the sea and river flee
2. (vs. 4). God’s presence made the mountains leap

3. (5 – 6) WHY DID THE SEA, RIVER FLEE AND THE MOUNTAINS LEAP?

1. (vs. 5) Why did the sea and river flee?
2. (vs. 6). Why did the mountains leap?

4. (6 – 7) GOD’S PRESENCE IS POWERFUL

1. (vs. 7) God’s presence makes the earth tremble
2. (vs. 8) God’s presence is powerful and provides his people’s needs

(1 – 2) OUT OF EGYPT AND INTO GOD’S PRESENCE

1. (vs. 1) Out of Egypt’s bondage

This Psalm considered to be part of the “Hallelujah Songs” neither starts with “Hallelujah” or finishes with it yet it vibrates with reasons for praise all through it.

It starts with the words,

“When Israel went out of Egypt.”

Spurgeon aptly writes,

“The song begins with a burst, as if the poetic fury could not be restrained, but overleaped all bounds. The soul elevated and filled with: a sense of divine glory cannot wait to fashion a preface, but springs at once into the middle of its theme”.

Israel could only come out of that bondage of that all powerful super power of its day because a far greater super power enabled it to. Allan Harmon points out that the expression,

“Out of Egypt”

“Was almost a standard expression”

He then gives us six times we find this expression in the early books of the bible, four in Deuteronomy, 4: 45 – 46 / 22: 4 / 24: 9 and 25: 17 and two in the book of Joshua, 2: 10 and 5: 45.

The infant nation of Israel called here Jacob, as Jacob who became Israel was this nations founder was called out of Egypt a nation much larger and greater who the Israelites found spoke a,

“foreign tongue”

This implies that the Egyptian language was unintelligible to the people of Israel and God had to work a small miracle for their future leader Moses to be brought up in Egyptian culture and language so that Moses in his later life could converse with Pharaoh to ask him to let his people go and when he did not comply tell him what God would do to his land and eventually to his family.

I recently returned from Myanmar where many different languages are spoken and know first hand the difficulties one has when trying to communicate to people who don’t speak your language and you don’t speak theirs.

One day I got dropped off in a local market near where I was staying and when I tried to catch a bus back to my hotel I could not find anyone who could speak English and I ended up getting in a taxi and went the opposite way to my hotel. Once I realised I was lost and could not communicate to the taxi driver I prayed to God for help.

Soon after I prayed the taxi driver stopped at a taxi stand in a small town and got out and spoke with some other taxi drivers. I had a iPad picture of my Hotel and one of the other taxi drivers put the name of the hotel in his phone and through the help of google maps he took me back to my hotel safely still unable to speak to me I thanked him but he probably didn’t even know I was thanking him such is the problem of not speaking the local language.

I thought after my 2 hour trip that should have only taken 15 minutes if I was going the right way that as Christians Peter tells us we are living as foreigners and exiles in this world, 1 Peter 2: 11 and therefore, spiritually we are not thinking and at times speaking the same as the general population who don’t know the Lord and his word and therefore like I felt in that taxi in Myanmar, lost and frustrated by my inability to communicate, so I often we feel the same when living for the Lord in this spiritually foreign or alien world that is speaking, spiritually a foreign language.

Peters advice of how we should live in this fallen Godless world is the next verse, 1 Peter 2: 12,

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us”.

So God’s people needed God’s power intervening for them to be able to come out of the land of slavery called Egypt in which they lived as aliens and strangers not even able to communicate to them because they spoke a different language and believed in a different view of God, so unlike the multi God views of their Egyptian slave masters.

As I said in my introduction the Passover is linked with the work of Christ’s salvation through his death on the cross which is the central message of Easter celebrated at the same time as the Jews celebrate Passover.

All the New Testament writers saw the significance of Christ death for our sins on the cross and how that act of the power and love of God in real time history freed us from what Paul calls the law of sin and death, he speaks powerfully of this in Romans 8: 1 – 4,

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”.

So I will remind you again of how Martin Luther saw how this Psalm relates to the Christian,

“We on our part sing this psalm daily to praise Christ, who leads us out of death and sin, through the midst of the raging’s of the world, the flesh, and the devil into life eternal”.

2. (vs. 2) Into God’s Presence

Where did God lead them to when when he brought his people out of Egypt the land of bondage and slavery?

The answer to that question is contained in verse 2,

“Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion”.

Alan Harmon points out that this Psalm,

“Gives a very condensed account and telescopes events together that happened many years apart”.

Here in verse 2 we have an excellent example of this as this verse speaks of not only the Exodus but the conquest of Canaan and the setting up of the sanctuary in Jerusalem all in the simple verse of,

“Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion”.

The place God led his people to when he lead them out of the bondage or slavery of Egypt was ultimately the promised land of Israel which the verse calls,

“His dominion”

But more than that it looks forward from coming out of Egypt to the conquest of the land of Canaan to become Israel and then setting up of God’s sanctuary in Jerusalem given to the tribe of Judah, with the words,

“Judah became God’s sanctuary”

God gave Moses the law on Mount Sinai and in giving this law he set up with Israel a covenant of love which he told Moses to explain to the people this way in Exodus 19: 4 – 6,

“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 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, 6 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 nation of Israel living in the land of Israel will be a nation of priests as God will dwell with them in a special way on earth. In Jerusalem in Israel which is part of the tribe of Judah was a special place called “The Sanctuary” later to become “The Temple” and from there God will tell them and the world his word as there he dwelt or is present with his people. We know from many other bible verses that from Jerusalem God will send out his message of love and salvation to the world, as we read in passages like Isaiah 2: 2 – 3,

“In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3 Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem”.

Again it is not just a coincidence that Jesus died and rose and ascended in Jerusalem and he sent his disciples out from Jerusalem with the saving Gospel message to the world. In Acts 1: 8 Jesus gives his disciples this charge,

“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.”

Note how the power to fulfil this great charge does not come from themselves but from the indwelling of God’s special presence in the person of the Holy Spirit in his disciple.

In AD 70 God worked through the Roman invasion of Jerusalem to destroy the Temple in Jerusalem to never be built again. Paul taught even before AD 70 that we are now God’s Temple the Church and we are all kind of mini Temples or places of God’s special dwellings moving out and living in all the world, 1 Corinthians 6: 19 – 20,

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies”.

2. (3 – 4). GOD’S PRESENCE MADE THE SEA AND RIVER FLEE AND THE MOUNTAINS
LEAP

1. (vs. 3) God’s presence made the sea and river flee

The book of Exodus speaks of God going before his people in power and might this is again condensed in this Psalm as Allan Harmon says,

“Telescoped events together that happened many years apart”.

The Psalmist also uses the poetic devise of personifying inanimate objects in nature that God caused to do miraculous things through in order to save his people and lead them out of Egypt and into the land of Israel. Sea, river, mountains are spoken of as though they are living people with legs to run away and leap like rams.

In verse three the writer personifies the red sea and the river Jordan and writes,

“The sea looked and fled, the Jordan turned back”

The book of Exodus makes it clear that God’s presence went before his people day and night as he led them out of Egypt as we read 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”.

So verse 3 of Psalm 114 now speaks of the first great specific intervention of God the Creator of the Universe getting involved in this world and changing the natural laws that govern our universe to bring about salvation for his people.

This miraculous event is the parting of the red sea that is described poetically in Psalm 114 verse 3a as,

“The sea looked and fled”

The Exodus account speaks of this miracle this way in Exodus 14: 15 – 16,

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground”.

Moses of course raised his staff and that staff, I believe represented the very presence of the God of the universe and the sea obeyed his command and parted. If the sea was a person, the Psalmist says it got up and ran away from the presence of God.

I will always remember the first time i saw the movie, The Ten Commandments and that amazing scene in the movie when Charlton Heston, a very convincing Moses, stands on a large rock at the edge of a sea and raises his staff and the sea divides in half and the Israelites walk through the gap in the sea to the other side.

I was around 17 or 18 and had backslidden from the Lord and was in a car with someone my non- Christian mates at a drive In theatre. My mates had fallen asleep as we had come to the drive in theatre straight from the beach that day and we were all very tied. Somehow I was wide awake and yelling out to my mates, “wake up, wake up you have got to see this, it is amazing”.

Even as a backslidden Christian I was caused to think thoughts of wonder that if this actually happened what a powerful God the God of the bible must be. Of course modern scholars even so called Christian ones argue this is a made up story and that archaeology and modern reason says this is nothing more than a fairytale. Yet Israel still exists today and their history is one of a series of amazing so called powerful fairy tales that has helped preserve what has always been humanly speaking a tiny insignificant nation.

Like the Atheist view that everything came out of nothing by accident the only reasonable explanation for Israel a tiny nation that came form so called no where is that God interviewed in human history and made and saved this people so that through them he could send his Son to save people from every nation on earth from the consequences of their sins.

Then verse 3 says,

“The Jordan turned back”

Again a inanimate object, the river Jordan is personified and given a body that now is said to have turned back. The miracle of the blocking of the waters of the Jordan obviously up stream from where the people of Israel crossed happened not in the quiet and peaceful time of the rivers cycle but at a time of floods as Joshua 3: 14 – 16 says,

“So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho”.

Note the perfect timing of this miracle as it was as the priests carrying the ark of the covenant feet touched the waters edge the river stopped flowing. The Ark of the Covenant is a symbol of the presence of the Lord so the river in verse 2b of Psalm 114 turned back or stopped flowing in the presence of the Lord of the universe.

Many miracles in the bible could be explained by natural phenomenon but even if God used natural phenomenon’s to perform the miracle it is still a miracle because of the timing as the river turned back or stopped flowing when the feet of the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant stepped on the edge of the river.

Modern thinkers, like even Albert Epstein do not believe the laws of nature can be changed so that miracles can happen but I argue that why can’t the one who invented and set in place those laws of nature not alter or change them if he so desires to do so.

It would seem that God generally works through the laws of nature he has set in place but sometimes God does intervene in this world and our lives to perform what we call a miracle. I know personally many people who have been told by doctors that nothing humanly speaking can be done for them when they were very sick or badly injured but in some cases the doctors have said all you can do now is pray.

Pray they did and it turned out that God does intervene sometimes to save and heal people even the doctors had to admit that their recovery could only be explained by a miracle of God.

I saw this in the case of a young man named Vince who mocked his brother Peter years ago for being a Christian when I attended a youth fellowship group Peter was part of.

Vince was smashed up in a terrible car accident in which his young fiancé was tragically killed. Vince’s right leg was so badly broken the doctors gave him no chance of keeping it but his brother Peter and our young fellowship group prayed for a miracle.

Vince’s leg was in plaster and within 3 months his leg healed up as though it was only basic brake and this led Vince to the Lord and he became a strong and committed follower of the Lord.

Sceptical non believers will say this is impossible but we must remember the words of our Lord when he said in Luke 18: 27,

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

So I say to the sceptical unbeliever to have faith in God and take up the challenge David gives us in Psalm 34: 8a,

“Taste and see that the Lord is good”.

2. (vs. 4). God’s presence made the mountains leap

Then this personification of inanimate objects continues with mountains leaping in verse 4,

“The mountains leaped like rams, the hills like lambs”.

I like part of Spurgeon’s explanation of this verse,

“Men fear the mountains, but the mountains tremble before the Lord. Sheep and lambs move lightly in the meadows; but the hills, which we are wont to call eternal, were as readily made to move as the most active creatures”.

Verse 4 is a obvious poetic reference to the coming of the Lord of the universe on Mount Sinai recorded in Exodus 19: 16 – 19,

“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him”.

The description here says that when the God of the universe descended on the mountain it not only was covered in smoke and fire but it, “Trembled” meaning it shook violently and this is what the writer calls the mountain, leaping like a ram or a sheep. I have seen on my occasional trips to the country sheep leaping and for the people of bible times this would have been a powerful poetic image.

God is presented here as being so powerful that seemingly immovable objects like mountains just tremble or leap around in the presence of the Lord.

This again fly’s in the face of the Deist who says that God is distant and not involved in our world now. God is active and alive in this world as Psalm 95: 3 – 5 declares,

“For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. 4  In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. 5  The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land”.

God is mighty and powerful in creation and in upholding the earth and the entire universe and so is he mighty in salvation as Psalm 96: 1 – 6 declares,

“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples. 4  For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. 6 Splendour and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary”.

We as Christians proclaim a great message that can and has changed this world and it does this by influencing and changing the individuals in this world who accept the Gospel meagre of Jesus Christ and turn to him as Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 2: 14 – 17,

“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? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God”.

The leaping of the mountains, those seemingly immovable objects of nature remind me of the story of the lame bigger who asks Peter for money and Peter heals through the power and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at one of the Temple gates and we read this in Acts 3: 6 – 10,

“Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognised him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him”.

Sceptics again might say this simply does not happen today but remember my true story of Vince who God healed his right leg miraculously and he was a modern example of how faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can heal us and cause us to leap or jump in praise of our Lord who is active in our world with power and love.

3. (5 – 6) WHY DID THE SEA, RIVER FLEE AND THE MOUNTAINS LEAP

1. (vs. 5) Why did the sea and river flee?

The writer of Psalm 114 then uses another poetic device namely three rhetorical questions. A rhetorical question is a question with a obvious answer and the first of these three rhetorical questions is in verse 5a.

“Why was it, sea that you fled?”

Note how the writer continues the personification of the innominate object of the sea and speaks directly to the sea asking why it fled from the presence of the Lord.

The obvious answer from the context of the Psalm is that it fled or in reality parted because the Lord of the Universe is so powerful that when he wants something to happen no human or earthly power can stand in his way.

Psalm 93 presents the idea that sometimes nature or this world is like us in rebellion to God so it says in verse 3,

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

This verse could be a poetic image of the mighty Babylonian nation lifting up its power to challenge Israel and its God and in fact the seas lifting up here could be translated the flood waters lifting up and raging across the dry land of Israel in destruction and devastation.

However verse 4 of Psalm 93 proclaims,

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

Yes the babylonians conquered Judah as a act of God’s judgment on his sinful disobedient people but God is mightier than the babylonians as 70 years after they took the people of God into captivity he raised up and even mightier nation called the Persians and they overran and destroyed the Babylonians and allowed and encouraged the people of God, the Jews to return to the Promised land of Israel.

So God has power even over the chaos of the universe represented many times in the bible by the sea or the ocean and Jesus showed he had power over the sea when he stood up one day on a turbulent stormy sea of Lake Galilee and said to the storm and the sea, “Be Quiet” and immediately the sea or lake was calm, Mark 4: 36 – 41.

Even hardened and experienced fisherman like Peter and his fisherman fellow disciples knew what Jesus did was simply amazing as we read their reaction to what Jesus was able to do in verse 41,

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

So the obvious answer to the question in verse 5a of,

“Why was it, sea that you fled?”

Is because God told the sea to part and the sea obeyed the word of the powerful creator God and parted or as it says in the poetic image, “you fled”.

Likewise the answer to the rhetorical question in verse 5b of,

“Why, Jordan did you turn back?”

This same, God told the river to stop running or for the rocks to fall that caused a temporary blockage of the river Jordan and it obeyed him.

The answer to these rhetorical questions also points to the power of the word of God as it was by his powerful word that the world was created, as we read in Genesis one a number of times the words,

“And God said”

And immediately different things were created.

So powerful is the word of God that the writer to the Hebrews describes it this way 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”.

We can trust in the wonderful powerful word of God as through it God has a purpose that cannot be thwarted as Isaiah proclaims in Isaiah 55: 11,

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it”.

So the powerful word of God parted the red sea and stopped the river Jordan flowing and on Galilee Jesus word to the storm calmed it immediately and his word primarily found in the message of the Gospel transforms lives through faith in him as Paul declares in Romans 10: 17,

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ”.

So as Paul calls us in the previous verses in Romans 10 to preach and teach the Gospel message we to can see the power of God’s word if we follow his advice and proclaim it.

2. (vs. 6). Why did the mountains leap?

The final rhetorical question concerns the power and might of God seen on Mount Sinai when God descended down to speak to Moses and give him his word wrapped up then in the law of God.

The rhetorical question of verse 6 goes like this,

“Why, mountains, did you leap like rams, you hills, like lambs”.

Again the obvious answer is because the Lord of the universe came close and spoke his word and when God is close and speaks, wonderful things happen.

This is spoken about all through the bible, that God is not the remote distant God of the Deist like Albert Einstein believed in. No God is involved in this world and has descended down to it as the previous Psalm stated in verse’s 5 and 6,

“Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth”.

In my last Psalm talk I spoke of the present day popular atheist Richard Dawkins who stated in a debate that.

“Christians believe that the so called creator of the vast and limitless universe could not think of a better way to deal with the problem of sin than to descend to this small spec of cosmic dust called earth to be tortured and executed so that he could forgive himself.

Dawkins says this is:

“profoundly unscientific and does not give justice to the grandeur of the universe and is petty and small minded”.

What Dawkins sees as petty and small minded is seen by those who believe it as what God has done which is both amazing and wonderful. Dawkins is hitting at the heart of the Christian belief and attempting to deride and ridicule it but what he does not realise is that what he is ridiculing is in fact the message that saves and transforms the lives of those who believe in it.

God did come down with his holy and powerful presence on Mount Sinai and make that mountain and the mountains surrounding it tremble or as it is expressed poetically in Psalm 114, leap like rams and sheep.

Equally and in a greater way God did come down to this cosmic speak of dust we call earth in the person of his Son to save us from out sins as the famous verse, John 3: 16 declares,

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

This is not small minded and petty but is both mimd blowing and amazing and deserves our praise that we should express is service as Paul declares 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”.

I pointed out earlier in this Psalm talk that this Psalm along with the one before it was said or sung at the times of the Passover celebration. The passover was celebrated to help the Jewish people remember what God did to save the Nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt.

As Christians we are reminded every Easter of the death and resurrection of Jesus that the Passover story is only a shadow of. The Jews were saved from the bondage and slavery of Egypt but through Christ death on the cross we are saved from the bondage and slavery of sin.

However Jesus does not want us to remember his death on the cross just at Easter but he instituted on the night he was betrayed a perpetual remembrance service of his death for us which we call today, “The Lord’s Supper”.

Paul gives us a summary of how Jesus wants us to remember his act of powerful salvation for us on the cross in 1 Corinthians 11: 23 – 26,

“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”.

So God descended on Mount Sinai and the mountains trembled and when Jesus descends to earth the second time not only will mountains tremble but the whole earth will tremble at the coming of the Lord and we read of mountains being removed or changed and the sky and heavens being changed as well. Revelation 6: 12 – 14,

“I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

In Revelation 6: 15 – 17 we read of how some influential people will seek to hide in mountain caves when the Lord returns. But Revelation 6: 15 – 17 tells us how no one will be able to hide from this coming of the Lord in great power and might,

15 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[a] 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?”

4. (6 – 7) GOD’S PRESENCE IS POWERFUL

1. (vs. 7) God’s presence makes the earth tremble

Some see verse 7 as the key to the whole message of Psalm 114 but I see it as the natural follow on to what we have just been reading of in the previous verses. Three rhetorical questions have just been asked why nature acted in a different and miraculous way in God leading his people out of their slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land of Israel and the obvious answer is because the Lord of the Universe had come down and was near and spoke his powerful word and so verse 7 says,

“Tremble earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob”.

This is the climax of what the Psalm has been saying that God’s presence with his people caused miraculous things to happen.
The red sea acted abnormally to help save his people out of slavery. The river Jordan had its water flow stopped and before that Mount Sinai shook and trembled as God’s presence came near to it. So the writer of Psalm 114 calls the whole earth to,

“Tremble earth, at the presence of the Lord”.

The Cambridge Bible commentary for schools and colleges nails down clearly what the author of Psalm 114 is seeking to say here with these words,

“It was at Jehovah’s presence that earth trembled then; but instead of a formal answer the poet’s words take a wider range, and he bids earth tremble still at the presence of its Lord, Who proves His sovereignty by transforming its most stubborn elements for the benefit of His people”.

Deist believers like Albert Einstein cannot see how nature can be changed by a the God who made it as their view of God is limited by only what they see day after day in their scientific study, that this universe runs on strict laws that seem immovable.

However we know from the Bible and the history of God’s dealings with his special people Israel that the God who invented and installed the laws of nature can and has altered them to intervene for the purposes of salvation and this is even more startling in the case of the coming of the Lord in the person of Jesus Christ.

He came via virgin birth a change of the laws of biology, he came to be both God and man, a change in the makeup of a normal human being and he was able to perform miracles which represent changes in the laws of nature to do things only the force or person who created those laws could achieve.

C.S. Lewis argued in the 1930”s that there are only three alternatives to who Jesus actually was. Jesus claimed to be God in a number of places in the Gospels, like John 10: 30,

“I and the Father are one”.

This verse comes from a passage were Jesus points to his miracles as proof that he is God and his promised Messiah, John 10: 22 – 30

“Then came the Festival of Dedication[b] at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand”. 30 “I and the Father are one”.

So C.S Lewis says that Jesus claim to be God gives us only three alternatives and they are either Jesus is a Liar, Lunatic or The Lord.

Jesus teaching and actions discount the first two alternatives, Lair or Lunatic so the fact that Jesus could perform miracles, deeds that change the normal laws of nature point to Jesus being The Lord. The reaction of the Jews who heard Jesus make the claim of,

“I and the Father are one”

Tells us they knew Jesus was claiming to be God in the flesh as we see from verses 31 – 33,

“Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

This claim of Jesus being God led to his death on the cross and that might have been the end of the Jesus story but three days after his death another truly remarkable miracle occurs as Jesus rose from the dead which is a change from the normal law of nature that says once your dead your dead.

So returning to our verse 7 of Psalm 114 the New Testament says that Jesus will cause all mankind to tremble or revere him as the Lord when he returns 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”.

The final part of verse 7 of Psalm 114 says that this trembling before the Lord is in the presence of,

“The God of Jacob”

I have given a lot of thought in the past to how the Psalms interchange the name of the Jews from Israel to Jacob and of course Israel and Jacob are the same person. One of Abraham’s grandson’s is Jacob who’s name means “supplanter” as he was a rebellious character who sought to pull down the birth right of his twin brother Esau and eventually in his later years he has a special encounter with God and after wrestling with God’s Angel gets an injury to his hip and is given a new name, Israel.

We read this story in Genesis 32 and we read the vital part of this story in verses 24 – 30,

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” 29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

So I believe the name Jacob indicates more the humanity of God’s people, their weakness to sin and not go God’s way and so here in Psalm 114,

“The God of Jacob”

This is the God of the fallen yet chosen people who God turned in Israel which is literally means, “In whom God prevails” and so we tremble or fall down in worship before the God who has saved us from the slavery of sin through his Son Jesus Christ who one day will return and then all mankind and creation will fall down in worship before him.

As we read about in the book of Revelation like chapter 11: 15 – 18,

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. 18  The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small— and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

2. (vs. 8) God’s presence is powerful and provides his people’s needs

This God of Jacob is not some kind of vague and remote force as the Diest like Albert Einstein believe in but is a God who is deeply involved in his chosen people helping them again sometimes in a miraculous ways as the last verse of the Psalm suggests, verse 8,

“Who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water”.

It seems God performed this miracle of providing water in a waterless place like a desert twice for his people, the descendant’s of Jacob when he led them out of slavery in Egypt. The first was early in their wanderings in the desert areas in Exodus 17 and then later in their wanderings when they should have been ready to enter the promised land in Numbers 20.

Both times the Israelites sinned and failed to trust in their God who they had seen was able to perform great miracles for them like divided the red sea to create a path for them to safely cross and make a mountain smoke, fire and tremble when their God came close to Mount Sinai.
He had even provided miraculous food for them yet the people grumbled and lacked faith when water became dangerously low. They even suggested to Moses and through him God that they were actually better off in Egypt as slaves where they had food and water, probably in short supply but they had it.

Even after all this God still performed the miracle of turning a rock into water such is the love and faithfulness of their God. Of course this continued disobedience and lack of faith on the part of this wilderness generation who also did not believe God could help them conquer the land of Canaan led God to not let them enter his Promised Land and it was their children and two older men, Joshua and Caleb who trusted in God who entered the promised land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.

The New Testament tells us in many places that this same God of Jacob or Israel is a God who provides what we need now through the Lord Jesus Christ who through his death and resurrection has called people from every nation on earth to now be his chosen people.

The apostle Paul uses the story of this rebellious wilderness generation and even the incident of the rock into water as a warning to us as Christians in 1 Corinthians 10: 1 – 6,

“For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did”.

We have a God who through Christ as Paul says, is our spiritual rock who provides all we need and more as Jesus promises in 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”.

God provides all we need and more and I love how the closing words of Jude, 24 – 25 puts it,

“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen”.

The “him” these verses refer to is of course The Lord Jesus Christ who we tremble before or worship because he is our Lord who we can turn to in prayer at any time and know that he will intervene in our daily lives to save and help us always.

CONCLUSION

I started this Psalm talk with the little girl’s letter to Albert Einstein in 1936, the little girt named Phyllis asked the great man,

‘Do Scientist pray”

Albert Einstein gave what I called a Deist view of God answer,

“Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish”.

Which becomes clearer in the next thing he wrote to the little girl,

“But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.”

The some naive are of course Christians who believe God does intervene in human life and history and answers prayer.

Psalm 114 has shown us that the bible clearly presents a God who is real, powerful and willing and able to get involved in the lives of his people, those who have turned to his Son in faith as Jesus told his disciples on the night before his death for our sins in John 14: 11 – 14,

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it”.

The scientist who is a Christian and there are many of them would have given Phyllis a different answer and their answer would have gone something like this,

Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the God of the bible who usually works through the laws of nature but sometimes he works outside of those his laws of nature to bring about his saving purposes.

This God sent his Son Jesus Christ to this so called insignificant spec of cosmic dust to die for our sins on the cross.

Faith in God’s Son brings to us the miracle of God’s forgiveness which opens up a way back to this creator supreme God who we are learning more about through our study of science and his word daily.

So through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ I pray and he answers me sometimes intervening in my day to day life to provide his help and provisions as he promises he will in many parts of his word the bible”.

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

OUT OF SLAVERY WE NOW COME
(Based on Psalm 114)

Out of Egypt God called his flock
Out of slavery they came
To be his special nation
To proclaim his wonderful name.

Out of Sin we now come
Through the cross we are given
The gift of God’s forgiveness
That leads us now to heaven.

Chorus:

Hallelujah God sent his only Son
Who died for our sins
So out of slavery we could come.

God divided the sea for them
So his people could walk free.
Stopped the water of the Jordan
Now the Promised land they could see.

God gave his Son out of Love
To die on the cross for us
Given us a place in heaven
And all we have to do is trust.

Chorus:

Hallelujah God sent his only Son
Who died for our sins
So out of slavery we could come.

Tremble before the Lord above
For he has demonstrated his power
By making the mountains leap with fear
As his presence came in power.

Turn to Christ our rock and hope
Who is God’s eternal Son.
Who provides our every need
As out of slavery we now come.

Chorus:

Hallelujah God sent his only Son
Who died for our sins
So out of slavery we could come.

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

I thank you Father in heaven for how you sent your Son to die for our sins on the cross. We now have been freed from the slavery of our sin so that we can now serve you Lord and one day be with you in heaven. Help us to always tremble before you in worship and praise as we realise who you really are and what by love you have done for us. May we worship you in sacrificial service knowing that you promise to provide our every need and answer our every prayer. In Jesus Name we pray Amen.

PSALM 113 TALK: HALLELUJAH – GOD IS EXALTED AND GRACIOUS

PSALM 113 TALK: HALLELUJAH – GOD IS EXALTED AND GRACIOUS

(This Psalm is is part of a series of Psalms that feature the word “Hallelujah” which means praise the Lord. This Psalm praises God as the great exalted God of the universe who is also gracious in that he stoops down to our minute speck of cosmic dust called earth that he created and lifts up the poor and needy of the earth to be exalted before him).

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

INTRODUCTION

My good friend and mission partner Ted Penney and I had the privilege on our recent trip to Myanmar to visit the famous Chin Hills. We have made so many Chin christian friends over the years and had visited many times the township of Kalaymyo which is a large town on the plains just bellow the Chin Hills where many Chin people had migrated from.

Up unto two years ago no foreigners had been allowed to go into this very mountainous area between Kalaymyo and the Indian border for nearly 40 years. Now that their is a new democratic government and peace in most parts of Myanmar foreigners like us now could freely explore this amazing and beautiful area of Myanmar.

I say explore because the road up to the Chin state capital called Hakha 6,500 ft high was probably one of the roughest roads I have ever travelled on over a long distance. Constant work is being done on the road to improve it but it was still full of big bends and at times uneven rough surfaces and it took our four wheel drive four hours to travel 50 miles and I got car sick on the first day of travel.

Once in Hakha the capitol of the Chin state we decided to look at some of the towns attractions or points of interest and of course we had to stop and view from a lookout this amazing town built on the top of a high mountain they call a hill because it is part of the hills or smaller mountains that lead up to the massively high Himalayan Mountains.

The next place of interest was the first church built by the original Christian missionaries who came to Hakha and the Chin Hills with the life saving message of the Gospel in 1899. Just down from this large and impressive Baptist Church is the graves of some of these original missionaries and some of the early converts and first ordained local ministers. The first missionary in the Chin hills was a man named Arthur Carson and his wife Laura and both laboured for the Lord in what would have been considered a inhospitable corner of the ends of the earth in their day.

Ted and I could not imagine the hardship and difficulty those early missionaries must have faced after our arduous trip on the rough road we had just experienced to get their ourselves and yet these pioneer missionaries would have had no roads, just primitive tracks with very poor food and living conditions to contend with as well.

In a article I read since coming back from Myanmar a couple of weeks ago I read these words from a article in The Baptist Bible Tribune by Thomas Ray about how Laura Carson initially reacted to these appalling conditions,

“The Mountain Chin were extremely suspicious of foreigners and unbelievably superstitious. On their arrival, Laura Carson was appalled by what she saw. As she looked upon the half- naked and filthy Chin she began to cry and said, “Author, I can’t do it! I thought I could go with you anywhere that God called and stay there and work with you. But, I have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. I can’t live my life in this awful place among these loathsome people”.

The article goes on to say that Arthur Carson comforted his wife and even told her she did not have to stay and then the article went on to say,

“The next morning, Laura Carson looked into the face of a beautiful young half – naked native girl. She later wrote, ‘I saw beneath the grime and filth and saw the need of the soul’. Not once in the next 21 years did Laura think about abandoning her post”.

The Carson’s took six years of teaching and preaching the word of God before they saw their first convert and three years later in 1908 Arthur Carson died of acute appendicitis unable to be treated properly in such a remote part of the world. Laura laboured on for another 12 years before she too got very sick and had to return to the U.S.A but now it is estimated that 90% of the Chin people call themselves Christians.

This story spoke to me powerfully of how the love of God for the lost of this world can a does inspire people like the Carson’s to take the message of his love to the ends of the earth. These people are only copying what God has done for us.

Paul says this about The Lord Jesus Christ in Philippians 2: 5 – 8,

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross”.

So Paul is telling us that Jesus was exalted in heaven yet he chose to stoop down or descend to earth to become a human being like us to not to live and reign in luxury but become a servant and then to die like a common criminal for us on the cross.

This is the message of Psalm 113 as verses 4 – 6 says,

“The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens, Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?”

The next verse tells us how far he stoops down,

“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap”.

The ash heap or dunhill was the place all ancient towns dumped their rubbish and refuse and this place is where the poorest and most wretched people lived and so God stoops as low as the rubbish tips of life to lift up the poor and needy of this world.

Laura Carson in 1899 felt she had come with her husband to the rubbish dump of humanity in Hakha in the Chin hills of Myanmar but as she looked into the eyes of that native half naked chin girl she saw the need of the love God and the potential of God’s life changing Gospel message and she and her husband laboured on and saw the beginning of a transformation where these poor Chin people spiritually echoed the words of verse 8 of Psalm 113,

“He seats them with princes, with the princes of the people”.

In heaven all true believers in the Gospel of Christ will reign with Christ in heaven as Paul says in 2 Timothy 2: 11 – 12,

“Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; If we endure, we will reign with him.”

So this third Hallelujah Song (Psalms 111 – 118 are called the Hallelujah Songs) we are called to sing and say “Hallelujah” or “Praise the Lord” because our God is both Exalted and Gracious and we will explore this theme in both this Psalm and in the teaching of the New Testament in this Psalm talk.

So with the theme of how God is both exalted and gracious in mind my outline for this Psalm is:

(1 – 3). A CALL TO PRAISE THE LORD

1. (vs. 1) Praise the Lord you servants
2. (2 – 3) Un-ending and universal praise

2. (4 – 6) PRAISE THE GOD WHO IS EXALTED AND GRACIOUS

1. (4- 5) Praise the exalted and glorious God of heaven
2. (vs. 6) Praise the Gracious God of heaven

3. (7 – 9). PRAUSE THE EXALTED AND GRACIOUS GOD WHO RAISES THE LOWLY

1. (7 – 8) Praise the God who lifts humanity from the garbage heap of life
2. (vs. 9) Praise the gracious God who blesses the childless women

(1 – 3) A CALL TO PRAISE THE LORD

1. (vs. 1) Praise the Lord you servants

The Psalm like most of these “Hallelujah Songs” commences with the Hebrew word “Hallelujah” and they often start with call to praise.

The other introductory comment I would like to make here is that this Psalm and the one that follows it have a tradition of being Psalms or songs sung before great Hebrew or Jewish festivals and particularly the Passover and it has been suggested by many bible commentators that this Psalm and the one that follows it, Psalm 114 could be the very Psalms Jesus and his disciples sang before they left the upper room to go Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives in Matthew 26: 30,

“When they had sung a hymn, they went to the Mount of Olives”.

This is also recorded in Mark 14: 26.

So it is not surprising then that this call to Praise the Lord is to all God’s “servants”

Spurgeon picks up the slave / servant image as it applies to the passover with these words,

“While they were slaves of Pharaoh, the Israelites uttered groans and sighs by reason of their hard bondage; but now that they had become servants of the Lord, they were to express themselves in songs of joy. His service is perfect freedom, and those who fully enter into it discover in that service a thousand reasons for adoration. They are sure to praise God best who serve him best; indeed, service is praise”.

So it is with us we were slaves to sin before Jesus died for our sins on the cross and brought unto us the glorious knowledge of this Gospel or Good News that because of what Jesus did for us on the cross we are no longer slaves of sin but servants of the the most high God as Paul speaks of 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”.

In the first verse of 1 Corinthians 4 Paul tells us to regard ourselves as servants of Christ with a great job to do,

“This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed”.

Our job or role then as servants of Christ is to proclaim God’s revealed mysteries revealed to us in Christ and what he has done for us, namely the Gospel message.

Psalm 113 calls all servants of the Lord to praise him and one of the best ways we can praise him is to proclaim the message of how the exalted God of heaven and earth stooped down to earth to become a human being like us to serve and not be served and to give his life as a ransom for many, 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”.

2. (2 – 3) Un-ending and universal praise

Verse 2 and 3 then tell us the scope of this praise for “Yahweh” the “yah” of Hallelujah, which is the supreme name for God that declares that he is the great “always being” or eternal supreme God of heaven and earth.

The scope of this praise is expressed in two ways:

Forevermore (vs. 2)
To the ends of the earth (vs. 3)

Lest’s have a closer look at each of these scopes of praise:

Forevermore (vs. 2)

Verse 2 simply says,

“Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore”.

The first scope of this praise for “Yahweh” then is the length of time this call to praise desires and it is expressed in two words, “now” and “forevermore”.

Leupold explains this verse best for me when he writes,

“Since his deeds are so manifold, His praise should be continuous and unending”.

Leupold then points out aptly that the word “forevermore” is used four more times in Psalms that follow this one namely, Psalm 115: 18, 121: 8, 125: 2 and 131: 3 making this word a popular expression of the eternal nature of God and the praise he deserves in book five of Psalms.

I have pointed out many times in previous Psalm talks that Paul spoke a lot about giving praise or thanks to God in all circumstances like 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”.

All circumstances includes all the time which verse 2 of Psalm 113 says and it also says that it includes “now” and “Forevermore” and so endless praise or praise or thanks in all circumstances is described by Paul as, God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

Endless praise is the great theme of the extent of praise in heaven in the book of Revelation as we see in a verse like 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!”

It is a interesting thought that Jesus with his disciples might have sang this Psalm as he was going to the place where he was betrayed by a man he loved and trusted which would have been one of the lowest points of his life and ministry and yet he was full of eternal praise to his father in heaven.

This reminds me of stories of Christians being martyred for their faith in Christ even today at the hands of extreme muslims I have read of Christians going to their horrible deaths praising the Lord they truly love and seek to serve even in their deaths for him and I would say that really is praising God in all circumstances.

To the ends of the earth (vs. 3)

The scope of praised being called for in this opening section of Psalm 113 is extensive as we read this expression in verse 3,

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised”.

This expression of the sun rising and setting is used in scripture to express the ends of the earth or even the entire earth as we read in Psalm 50 verse 1,

“The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets.”

Or Malachi 1: 11,

“My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty”.

Isaiah saw the literal fulfilment of this kind of praise in the coming of the promised Messiah as he writes in Isaiah 59: 19,

“From the west, people will fear the name of the Lord, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the Lord drives along”.

It is only through, then, the coming of Jesus Christ or Jesus the Messiah as Christ is the Greek term for Messiah that this scope or extent of praise for God has been fulfilled and that has come through the Gospel of Christ going out into all the world as Jesus commanded his disciples to do in passages like Matthew 28: 19 -20,

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising 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.”

In my introduction of spoke of the story of the Gospel going into the remote and difficult Chin Hills area of Myanmar and how Arthur and Laura Carson endured great hardship and difficulty in seeking to make disciples of the desperate spirit worshipping people who lived their. I have just come back from that area and on two occasions I had the pleasure of attending two churches in that area and joining with those people in singing Hallelujah or praises to the God who is highly exalted yet he scooped down to earth in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, his one and only Son to save even these Chin people who live as far as even other tribal groups in Myanmar are concerned the ends of the earth.

2. (4 – 6) PRAISE THE GOD WHO IS EXALTED AND GRACIOUS

1. (4- 5) Praise the exalted and glorious God of heaven

As so many of these praise Psalms go from a call to worship and praise to some reasons why we should worship and praise the Lord and this Psalm 113 is not different as we have in the next two verses two reasons why we as God’s servants should praise the Lord forevermore and to the ends of all the earth and those two reasons are because he is both:

Exalted (vs. 4 and 5)
Gracious (vs. 6)

Exalted (vs. 4 and 5)

In verse’s 4 and 5 he is described as a the great exalted and glorious God enthroned on high,

“The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high”.

The exalted nature of God is expressed twice in David’s Psalm 57 as a kind of chorus or refrain in that Psalm as both verse 5 and verse 11 say the same thing,

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

In my comments of these words in verse 11, the last verse of Psalm 57 I wrote,

“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”,

David wrote Psalms 8 and 19 that express and flesh out the exalted glory of God that can be seen in nature as Psalm 19 verse 1 says,

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

David wrote Psalm 57 as a call for mercy and help from God as he faced his enemy who we believe was probably King Saul who sought to kill him. In that Psalm he testified to God’s love and faithfulness in helping him against his many enemies like verse 3,

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

So then twice David speaks of the exalted nature of God who declares his exalted glory in the world in what God has made and continues to uphold.

However Psalm 113 verse 4 speaks of how the Lord is exalted over all the Nations. We cannot tell when this Psalm was written but it seems that it was placed in the last book of Psalms after the return from Babylonian exile and therefore the people of that time would have seen God showing in his saving deeds in their recent history of how he is exalted above the nations in the fall of the Babylonians through the rise of the Persians. Therefore not so much in nature now do we see the glory of God but in his victory over the nations in the form of victory and judgment of the Babylonian empire and in the using of their Persian conquers to bring his people back to the land of Israel.

We can see in history again how God revealed his glorious exalted state over sin and evil in the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus death and resurrection has cosmic significance as we see in the words of the writer to the Hebrews in chapter 2: 9 – 10,

“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. 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”.

I mentioned in my introduction the famous passage in Philippians 2 about how God stooped down from heaven through his Son Jesus Christ becoming a human being like us and stooping even further down by becoming a servant and even dying on a cross for us like a common criminal.
But that passage then turns to speak of how Jesus Christ has been exalted by God in his resurrection and ascension and will be gloriously exalted and acknowledge by everyone when he comes again to judge this world of sin and take to glory those who truely turn to him, 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”.

So, as Psalm 113 verse 4 says,

“The Lord (who is Jesus) is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens”.

Then the writer of Psalm 113 asks a rhetorical question in verse 5,

“Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high”.

I recently taught at a number of different Bible Colleges a series of 8 Psalms in fourth book of Psalms that speak of how our God the king reigns from heaven over all the earth. These “Our God the King who Reigns” Psalms start with Psalm 93 and end with Psalm 100 and I believe the answer to Psalm 113 rhetorical question in verse 5 is answered by the opening 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”.

Of course my simple answer to this rhetorical question is the obvious answer which the Psalmist does not have to state, no one is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high.

I have already declared Paul’s words in Philippians 2: 10 and 11,

“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”.

Finally the book of Revelation speaks of the exalted state of the Lord Jesus in heaven who is called symbolically in that book “The Lamb” as he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world as John the Baptist said in John 1: 29. Now John writing in his final book of the bible says this about the exalted state of Jesus in heaven and the praise he will receive because of who he is and what he has done for us 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!”

2. (vs. 6) Praise the Gracious God of heaven

So we have seen that Yahweh deserves our praise because he is the exalted God of heaven and earth who sits in glory on his throne high up in heaven but now his glory and greatness is seen in an amazing other way.

Verse 6 declares the second reason why “Yahweh” the God of the bible deserves our praise,

“Who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth”.

I am writing this Psalm talk only a few days after Christmas and Christmas is the amazing story of the incarnation which is the real message of Christmas. The verse uses the term “who stoops down” and of course it was through Jesus coming to earth as a man that is the most incredible example of God’s stooping or lowering of himself which reveals the extent to which the God of heaven and earth would descend to in his loving rescue of mankind.

John expresses the reality of God’s stooping down so well 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”.

The Psalmist did not know of course the message of the incarnation as he was writing hundred of years before it actually happened but he did know that the God he was urging his hearers to praise not only a transcendent God but a imminent God or God who has made himself known and has acted on behalf of his people. Again as David put it 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”.

I remember the words of Richard Dawkins the famous atheists in a debate with the Christian scholar John Lennox when he basically said that Christians believe that the so called creator of the vast and limitless universe could not think of a better way to deal with the problem of sin than to descend to this small spec of cosmic dust called earth to be tortured and executed so that he could forgive himself.

Dawkins says this is:

“profoundly unscientific and does not give justice to the grandeur of the universe and is petty and small minded”.

However that is the point of the incarnation or the stooping down of God it is simply an amazing idea and it is so amazing it deserves our praise.

The God of the bible is then not only exalted and glorious but is gracious and loving in that in his exalted state he chose to stoop down to a part of his creation, earth and sacrifice his only Son to deal with the problem of sin and make a way back to knowing and serving him as he originally intended us to be as his special creation.

The editors and maybe even the writer of this Psalm had just seen God’s amazing stooping down to look on the heavens and the earth and in fact intervene in the case of the freeing of his people from captivity in Babylon through the nation of Persia conquering what seemed the all powerful unstoppable super powerful nation of Babylon. Then through the Persians God made it possible for his people Israel to return to the Promised land of Israel to not only live there again but re-build Jerusalem and the Temple that the Babylonians had so ruthlessly destroyed some 70 years before.

Christmas is the time we should stop and ponder how much God stooped down to save us from our sins and also cause us to not only praise him for that but reflect on the reality of his second coming when Jesus will stoop down again not to save but to judge this world, doing away with sin and rebellion and to raise to heaven all who believe in him.

As Paul speaks of in 1 Thessalonians 4: 15 18,

 “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 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”.

This was the message that Arthur and Laura Carson took to the Chin people in Myanmar and it was this act of God stooping down to earth that transformed this poor wretched people into the strong and vibrant Christian Chin state of Myanmar today.

It is the message of the Gospel and it has done the same thing for many people from every Nation of this world and it is the message we must continue to take to the world unto the day Jesus decides that the day of Salvation or the Gospel age is over when he returns to earth the second time.

3. (7 – 9). PRAUSE THE EXALTED AND GRACIOUS GOD WHO RAISES THE LOWLY

1. (7 – 8) Praise the God who lifts humanity from the garbage heap of life

The writer then spells out two poetic examples of this gracious God in action in our world and these two poetic examples are expressed in verses 7 and 8,

“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people”.

The bible is full of God’s gracious love for the poor and needy and indeed even the great King of Israel, King David often called himself poor and needy like Psalm 40: 17,

“But as for me, I am poor and needy”.

David wrote these words when he was possibly on the run from King Saul and at that time he would have been materially poor and needy but he used the same expression or similar ones to describe himself when he was King of Israel and would have been materially very rich, like Psalm 70 which could have been a taken by David from Psalm 40 for a new prayer when he was around 60 years of age and on the run from his rebellious son Absalom, Psalm 70: 5,

“But as for me, I am poor and needy, come quickly to me, O God, you are my help and my deliverer; Lord, do not delay”.

Or the opening of Solomons Psalm 72 which applies to Solomon and the people of real faith in God who live under his rule through King Solomon, Psalm 72: 1 -5,

“Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. 2  May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. 3  May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. 4  May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor. 5  May he endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations”.

Solomon was one of the riches men materially in the bible yet the Psalm 72: 4 says,

“May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor”.

This is obviously referring to spiritual need which is what Jesus is referring to in the first beatitude in Matthew 5: 3,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”.

gotQuestions?org makes it clear what Jesus is saying here with these words,

“Jesus is declaring that, before we can enter God’s Kingdom, we must recognise the utter worthlessness of our own spiritual currency and the inability of our own works to save us”.

So when Psalm 113 says that God,

“Raises the poor from the dust”

It is not just speaking of the materially poor but in fact both materially poor and materially rich people must all recognise their spiritual poverty before God and that they cannot save themselves but God has to stoop down to lift us up and save us and this is not our own doing but a gift of God as Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 2: 8 – 10,

“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. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.

David in both times of riches and poverty always saw himself before God as poor and needy as he writes in Psalm 69: 30 – 33,

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. 31 This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves. 32 The poor will see and be glad – you who seek God, may your hearts live! 33  The Lord hears the needy and does not despise his captive people”.

So David is saying in Psalm 69: 32 that the spiritually rich are those who realise that they are poor before God and because of this they,

“Seek God”,

So God raises the poor according to verse 7 of Psalm 113 but from where does he raise them from?

The Dust
The Ash heap

Lets have a closer look at these two important poetic images:

The Dust

It is interesting to note that these concluding verses of Psalm 113 mirror part of Hannah’s song after God blessed her with the birth of a son she named Samuel and when she took him to the Temple to serve the Lord when Samuel was three years old. 1 Samuel 2 and verse 8 is a direct pinch from that song of Hannah for verse’s 7 and 8 of Psalm 113.

In 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2 we have God blessing the childless women Hannah and being childless in bible times meant great hardship and even poverty for a women. Even a few years ago in Australia a women with a child or children who did not have the support of a husband or family faced incredible hardship and poverty. In bible times a childless women was often divorced and left destitute and so to was widowed women with or without children as children were the ones who looked after her once they were grown up and generating income for their families and their poor widowed mother.

To be raised from the dust would signify then being very poor and also spiritually “dust” in the old testament signified repentance and prayer for forgiveness as the outward sign of this was to put on sackcloth (rough uncomfortable clothing) as we read of David doing in 1 Chronicles 21: 16,

“David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell facedown”.

Ashes where usually thrown around on the hands and face and repentant sinners like David and his elders would have been literally kneeling in a pool of dirty ashes as a way of saying to God they were truly repentant of their sins. Mourning the dead often employed not only wailing but wearing sailcloth and Ashes.

Also earnest prayer like Hannah prayed in 1 Samuel 1 often was done in sackcloth and ashes. It is not said that Hannah used sackcloth and ashes but 1 Samuel 1: 10 says that Hannah weeped bitterly as she prayed for a son to be born by her.

David we believe wrote Psalm 30 after God delivered Israel from a great plague caused by God when David sinned by disobeying the Lord and counting his fighting men throughout the land as recored in 1 Chronicles 21.

However God stooped down in the person of the Angel of the Lord and stopped the plague and saved the people of Jerusalem obviously responding to Davids prayer of repentance and David writes in Psalm 30 verses 11 and 12,

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12  that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever”.

God answered the earnest repentance prayer of David and the earnest desperate prayer of Hannah for a son in 1 Samuel 1. So God stooped down or intervened in the lives of David and Hannah and lifted them up from the dust or their despair and wretched state to answer the prayers of his needy faithful servants who although still sinful were blessed by the gracious exalted God of the bible.

In the New Testament the custom of sackcloth and ashes does not continue but both James and Peter speak of humbling yourselves before God and Peter writes in 1 Peter 5: 6 – 7,

 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

God therefore will lift us up from the ashes of despair if we would but humble ourselves before him because we can be assured the he does truly care for the spiritually poor and needy.

The Ash heap

The parallel rhyming thought of verse 7 of Psalm 113 and verse 8 of 1 Samuel 2 is,

“And lifts the needy from the ash heap”.

C.J Elliott the great 19th century commentator says that the term “Ash heap” could be translated as “Dunghill” or “heap of rubbish” and then explains to OldTestament times meaning of such a term or image,

“Before each village in Israel there is a place where the household heap up the sweepings of their stalls, and it gradually reaches a great circumference and a height which rises far above the highest buildings of the village.”

Today we would call the “Ash heap” the garbage heap or garbage dump so this poetic image is that God lifts the spiritually needy repentant sinners of this world from the garbage dump of this life.

The bible presents clearly that man’s sin has trashed both our lives and this world as Paul says in Romans 1: 24 – 25 the results of sin in our lives in this world,

“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen”.

Even creation itself has been trashed by our sin and looks forward to its release from man’s sin and rebellion to God 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”.

So Psalm 113 verse 6 says God,

“Swoops down”

Now verse 7b says God,

“lifts the needy form the ash heap”

Or the garbage dump of sin by throwing himself on that garbage dump of sin through his death on the cross to lift us up from sin or that garbage dump to sit with him in eternity in heaven and even now before we arrive in heaven he offers the needy or those who realise they need his forgiveness life now and life in all its fullness, John 10: 10,

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.

If you think I am getting a little carried away with my image of God through Christ his only Son stooping down to the garbage heap of life or sin to lift us up to heaven then let me quote how Paul put it, 2 Corinthians 5: 21,

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

Remember the writer of Psalm 113 is using a direct quote in these verses from the song of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2: 8 and he continues this quote with Hannah’s words of how God raises the poor and needy with the words,

“He seats them with princes, with the princes of his people”.

Hannah’s child, a result of God stooping down to answer her desperate prayer for a child turned out to be Samuel who grew up to be a great prophet and leader of his people and more than that he in turn became a king maker not once but twice in the persons of King Saul and the great King David.

Both Saul and David started out as relative poor and needy men who had low social status yet both of them became princes or even more than princes, Kings of their people.

Unfortunately King Saul stopped thinking he was spiritually poor before God and in his pride turned away from following God and in the process lost his mind and his kingdom.

On the other hand David, the lowly youngest son of a minor family in Judah who was given the lowly job of shepherd was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13: 14 and Acts 13: 22) David basically was a man who always recognised his spiritual poverty before God and went on to be the greatest King of Israel and the founder of a dynasty through his great descendant Christ that would last forever. Yes David sinned and at times sinned badly but he always returned to God in repentance and faith and called on the love and faithfulness of his God.

David is a role model of how God wants us to live which is as men and women who recognise their spiritual poverty and need before God and who accept his gift of love or grace and it is God’s grace that saves as God’s love is underserved. God’s grace comes to us through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives who raises us up from the garbage heap of sin and this world to serve and praise the God who is both highly exalted and wonderfully gracious.

I will let David have the final word of praise here in what he says at the end of his Psalm 57, verses 10 and 11,

“For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 11 
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth”.

2. (vs. 9) Praise the gracious God who blesses the childless women

As I have been pointing out the writer of Psalm 113 seems to have been inspired by some of the words of Hannah the mother of Samuel who wrote a song recorded in the second chapter of the historical book of 1 Samuel and the previous two verses come directly from one verse, verse 8 of that song. Now the final verse of Psalm 113 seems to continue the influence of Hannah’s song.

Hannah was a poor childless mother in a relationship or marriage where her husband a man named Ramathaim had two wives, Penninnah and of course Hannah. Penninnah was blessed by God with children but for many years Hannah did not have a child and was tormented by Penninnah for being childless.

I have already pointed out the importance of women in bible times being both married and having children and this problem seems to crop up in the bible in a number of places. We have at least four other women who faced childlessness in bible times, Sarah, Rachel, Manoah and Elizabeth in the New Testament, mother of John the Baptist.

So Hannah, childless for many years praises God for the miraculous birth of her son, Samuel with these words in 1 Samuel 2: 5,

“Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry are hungry no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away”.

So Hannah goes on to speak of how God heard her cries for help which she expresses as a person who was before God was poor and needy and gives us a verse that the writer of Psalm 113 uses to write his verses 7 and 8,

“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; 8  he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people”.

Then our writer of Psalm 113 closes the Psalm with, I think Hannah in mind with the words of verse 9,

“He settles the childless women in her home as a happy mother of children”.

Although Hannah only had Samuel in her home for three years because she takes him to the Tabernacle then in Shiloh to serve the Lord, though I’m sure she still saw lots of him and continued to have a great influence over him in his early years.

Interestingly all the other women in the bible who had problems with bearing children were like Hannah raised up or lifted up by God to become happy mothers of very important and blessed sons, Sarah or course the mother of Isaac, Rachel the mother of many including Joseph, Manoah the mother of Sampson and in the New Testament, Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist.

These stories show how much God cares for women and uses them in wonderful ways for his plans of salvation for the people of God. Jesus born of Mary and through Jesus all the people of the world were blessed.

I taught scripture at a Girls High School in the 1970’s when at Bible College and the girls in my scripture classes on the first week at that high school told me the Bible was nothing more than a chauvinistic book that had nothing to say to women in this modern world. I switched all my lessons for the next 12 months of teaching there over to women in the bible and not only were my students enriched as young women but I gained a greater appreciation of God’s love and grace to women and how just as he calls men to serve him and play vital roles in his Kingdom he equally calls women to serve him and play vital roles in the extension and building up of his kingdom here on earth.

I love the prophecy in the Old Testament about the role of men and women in this Gospel age that started to be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost recored for us in Acts 2: 17 – 18,

“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy”.

God calls men and women to serve him in this world in various ways and even through the bearing of children God’s stooping down to raise us up from the garbage heap of sin in this world can and has been used by God to help extend his Kingdom. This reveals to us our God’s great exalted glorious and gracious nature as he continually stoops down to raise us up from the garbage dump of life.

CONCLUSION

This Psalm ends as it began with the Hebrew word “Hallelujah” which is translated in our English bibles as “Praise the Lord”. We have seen in this Psalm that we should praise the Lord or praise “Yahweh” because he is the great exalted and glorious God who sits on his throne high in heaven above far greater and more powerful than anything or anyone in the entire universe.

Also the Psalm encourages us to praise this great and exalted God because even though he is exalted on high he chose to stoop down to what the atheist, Richard Dawkins calls “this spec of cosmic dust we call earth”, to get involved in our world and to lift up all who realise they are spiritually poor and needy and who turn and accept his gift of forgiveness that makes us right before him.

This lifting up through scooping down goes as far as the great and glorious God coming to the garbage dump of this life’s sin and the degradation and through his Son’s death on the cross he raises us up and gives us the gift of righteousness so that we can serve him now and forevermore.

I started this Psalm talk with the story of Arthur and Laura Carson who gave up a comfortable life in America in the late 18th century to go to a poor and primitive place considered the ends of the earth in their day to bring the message to the Chin people in Myanmar of how God scooped down through his son, Jesus Christ . He did this so that they could know his forgiveness through his death on the cross and also be transformed into his servants who are through faith in his Son now part of his eternal family.

I mentioned how difficult it was for me and my friend Ted Penney to travel to the Chin hills even today yet in 1899 the Carson’s somehow made that arduous journey into the Chin Hills and Laura Carson after realising the difficult living conditions of this place and seeing the pitiful state of the Chin people wanted to return home.

However the next day Laura Carson looked into the eyes of a poor Chin girl and realised that God had led them to this place to bring his life changing message of his love and then she never looked back from joining her husband in bringing the Gospel to the Chin people.

Even though Arthur Carson died within nine years of arriving in the now Chin state capitol, Hakha he did witness the first Chin convert and started to baptise a few more. Laura Carson pushed on with some other new missionaries for another 12 years before ill health forced her to return to America. Now after 118 years from when the Carson’s came to the Chin Hills with the message of the Gospel it is estimated that 90% of the Chin people claim to be Christians and their lives have been transformed or lifted up through God’s stooping down through the death and resurrection of his only Son Jesus Christ.

This all then should lead us to sing and say “Hallelujah” or “Praise the Lord”.

I close as I usually do with a poem and a prayer:

GOD STOOPED DOWN (Based on Psalm 113)

Praise the Lord you servants now
For God’s name speaks of his mighty power
His name surely does declare
That he is great and is always there.
God should be praise for evermore
From east to west and from shore to shore.

Praise the exalted God above
Who’s glory is seen in his great love
No one is like this God so high
For he is great and reigns on high
Yet he chose to stoop to earth
Through his son’s amazing birth.

Chorus:

God stooped down
Yes God stooped down
Jesus gave up glory to come down
God stooped down
Yes God stooped down
Through his death we’re heaven bound.

Praise the Lord who lifts the poor
To sit with him forever more.
Poor in spirit because of sin
Needing forgiveness and peace within
He came to our garbage world of sin
To die on a cross a death so grim.

Praise the Lord he has cleared a way
To be give us righteousness today.
For his death paid for sins great price
And won for us eternal life
We are now part of his family
That God now blesses eternally.

Chorus:

God stooped down
Yes God stooped down
Jesus gave up glory to come down
God stooped down
Yes God stooped down
Through his death we’re heaven bound.

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

We praise you Father in heaven because you are the great exalted and glorious God of heaven and earth who made this universe and this world. Yet Lord we know that as great and exalted as you are you decided in your love to stoop down to this garbage dump of sin and degradation in the person of your Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins on the cross. We praise you O Lord because through that death for our sins we can now have the gift of your righteousness which means we can live with you in heaven.
Even now your Sons death for us on the cross gives us your blessings and hope in our day to day lives. Now may we live for you and for the extension of your Kingdom here on earth. In Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5: 21,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

                     WHO DON’T

 

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

 

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

 

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

“Praise the Lord (Hallelujah)

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord”

Alleluia yes praise to the God above

Blessed is the person who knows God’s love

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

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

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

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

  1. Blessed
  2. Fears the Lord

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

  1. Blessed

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

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

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

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

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

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

 How do we find God’s forgiveness ?

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

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

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

  1. Fears the Lord

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

“Who fears the Lord”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul says in Romans 1: 21,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Happiness is to know the Saviour

Living a life within his favour,

Having a change in my behaviour

Happiness is the Lord.

 

Real joy is mine

No matter if the tear- drops start

I found the answer

Its Jesus in my heart”.

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

 

Blessed is the person who knows God’s love.

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

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

“Who finds great delight in his commands”.

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

“Captivated and committed to his word

Delighted in that word of the Lord”.

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

And this verse simply says,

“All who follow his precepts have good understanding”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endowed with blessing God does give

Faithful servants who seek to live

Honouring the God who made all things

Intense love for them he always brings.

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

 

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

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

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

The actual verse 2a of the Psalm reads,

“His children will be mighty in the land”.

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

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

Or Proverbs 12: 7,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knowledge and good manners come their way

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

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

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

“The generation of the upright will be blessed”.

 David Guzik expounds on this phrase with these words,

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

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

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

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

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

Mercy did they show to those in strife.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Even in darkness light dawns for the upright”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over and over God seems to help them

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

“His righteousness endures forever”.

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

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

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

Clearly the New Testament teaches that God’s righteousness is God’s gift given to all true believers as a result of what Christ achieved for us on the cross, like Romans 5: 17,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what I believe verse 4 is telling us,

“Even in darkness light dawns for the upright”

 The ironic fact of life is that non – believers often accuse God believers as weak people who need some kind or crutch to lean on and belief in God is that crutch. The reality is they are partially correct we are all weak, sinful and fallen beings who need someone of something greater than ourselves to lean on or get help from and Jesus is that someone greater and stronger we can go to as the writer of Psalm 112 says, in darkness to find light. Jesus is the one we can go to and find rest and help for our souls and lives as Jesus calls us to in Matthew 11: 28 – 30,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quickly God answers them every time.

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

“For gracious and compassionate and righteous man”.

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

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

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

Upright and loving is the person God calls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

“Even in darkness light dawns for the upright”.

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

“Surely he will never be shaken”

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

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

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

“Come to nothing”

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

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

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

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

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

However I can testify to the truth that:

Surely God’s people will never be shaken.

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

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

“A righteous man will be remembered forever”.

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

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

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

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

“Waste away”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

During the two weeks of so of my wife’s serious illness God led me to many comforting and encouraging words from his word the bible and the bible reference that stands out the most to me at that time was Philippians 4: 6 – 7,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

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

“The wicked man will see and be vexed”

  1. Victory awaits them when God declares

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. A secure heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Come to nothing”.

  1. No Fear

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

“He will have no fear”

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

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

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

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

 Then I verse 6 he says,

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

 And finally he says in verse 15,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Gnash their teeth and waste away”.

  1. Triumph or Victory

The final words of verse 8 make another remarkable claim,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gnash his teeth and waste away”.

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

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

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

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

“His horn will be lifted high in honor”.

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

As we read of at the start of verse 8,

“He scattered abroad his gifts to the poor”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“His righteousness endures forever”

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

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

 Also I pointed out that the New Testament teaches us that God’s righteousness is a gift God gives us through the death for us of Christ for our sin, Romans 5: 17,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet the man who continues to rebel against God

Zero satisfaction is the path he will trod.

I get these ideas from verse 10 that read this way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The wicked man will see”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He will gnash his teeth and waste away”

 Spurgeon writes,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. The non – believer will be eternally not satisfied

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

“The longing of the wicked will come to nothing”

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

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

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

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

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

 And Jesus says in Matthew 11: 28 – 30,

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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

So turn to the Lord of heaven above

And be blessed by him by his amazing love.

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

THE A – Z OF THE PERSON WHO BELIEVES IN GOD

(Based on Psalm 112 and the English alphabet)

 

Alleluia yes praise to the God above

Blessed is the person who knows God’s love

Captivated and committed to his word

Delighted in that word of the Lord.

 

Endowed with blessing God does give

Faithful servants who seek to live.

Honouring the God who made all things

Intense love for them he always brings.

 

Just look at their children people say

Knowledge and good manners come their way.

Long do we appreciate a believer’s life

Mercy did they show to those in strife.

 

No fear of debts for God has blessed them

Over and over God seems to help them.

Particularly in dark times they seem to shine

Quickly God answers them every time.

 

Upright and loving is the person God calls

Respected for their generosity to a cause.

Surely God’s people will never be shaken

Trusting in their God to heaven they’re taken.

 

Untroubled by bad news through confidence in prayer

Victory awaits them when God declares

With me they are in my arms of love

X ray like light God uses to raise them above.

 

Yet the man who continues to rebel against God

Zero satisfaction is the path he will trod.

So turn to the Lord of heaven above

And be blessed by him by his amazing love.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTRODUCTION

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

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

What do the words of this very popular song mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what is Psalm 111 praising God for?

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

“Great are the works of the Lord”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My breakdown then for Psalm 111 is:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

  

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

“Praise the Lord”

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

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

“You say I took the name in vain,

I don’t even know the name,

But if I did, really what’s it to ya?

There’s a blaze of light in every word,

It doesn’t matter which you heard

The holy or the broken Hallelujah”.

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

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

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

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

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

  1. How he wants to praise the Lord

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

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

 David Guzik explains this expression with these words,

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

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

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

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

“Your faith was strong but you needed proof,

You saw he bathing on the roof,

Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya.

She tied you to a kitchen chair,

She broke your throne she cut your hair

And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Where he wants to Praise God

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

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

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

David Guzik explains,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Great are the works of the Lord”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We who live after the coming of Jesus know the greatness of God’s loving works even more than the writer of Psalm 111 did as we know that God sent his only Son in the world to die for our sins on the cross to make a way for us back to him in heaven as Paul declares in Ephesians 2: 4 – 5,

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

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

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

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

“They are pondered by all who delight in him”

 Mankind’s rebellion to God which the bile calls sin will cause them to seek and find something other than God for answers to questions like who made the world and did Jesus really come from God to save us as Paul makes clear to us in Romans 1: 21 – 23,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus put it another way in Matthew 7: 7,

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

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

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

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

“Glorious and majestic are his deeds”

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

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

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

“I cannot tell why he whom angels worship

Should set his love upon the sons of men.

Or, why as shepherd he should seek the wanderers

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

But this I know, that he was born of Mary

When Bethlehem’s manger was his home

And that he lived at Nazareth and labored;

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

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

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

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

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

Leopold says,

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

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

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

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

“And his righteousness endures forever”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He has caused his wonders to be remembered”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lets have a closer look each of these four things:

  1. Food (vs. 5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then in verse 29 Jesus says this,

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Land (vs. 6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The power of his works”.

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

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

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

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

  1. Law (vss. 7 – 8)

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

“The works of his hands are faithful and just”

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

“All his precepts are trustworthy”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“If God is there what is he like?

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

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

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

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

  1. Redemption (vs. 9)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He provided redemption for his people”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He ordained his covenant forever”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We know from the teaching of the New Testament that it is by grace we are saved and this is for all people from every nation both Jews and Gentiles (non – Jews) as Paul declares in Ephesians 2: 8 – 9,

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

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

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

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

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

The last phrase of verse 9 simply says,

“Holy and awesome is his name”

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

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

  1. Holy
  2. Awesome

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

  1. Holy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Awesome.

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

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

 they sing the praises of your name.”

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

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

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

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

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

 “So great is your power”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The first part is the phrase in verse that says,

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

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

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

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

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

Paul says in Romans 1: 21,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“All who follow his precepts have good understanding”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“To him belongs eternal praise”

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

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

 “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

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

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

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

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

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

THE PERFECT HALLELUJAH

(Based on Psalm 111 /

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

 Now I heard there is a perfect way

To praise the Lord every day

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

It goes like this, he is the best

He says to us I long to bless

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.

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