PSALM 75 TALK: THE GOD WHO JUDGES THE PROUD AND EXALTS THE HUMBLE

PSALM 75 TALK: THE GOD WHO JUDGES THE PROUD AND EXALTS THE

                                    HUMBLE

 (A Psalm that explores the workings of the judgment of God and how in judgment he will judge the proud and wicked people of this world but will exalt the humble and godly people who believe in Jesus in his final judgment to come.)

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

 INTRODUCTION

 Lately I have been following with some interest the current American president pre-selection process for the Democrat and Republic candidate for the 2016 American presidential election. As an Australian I find this very expensive and long and dragged out process very strange and sometimes amusing. I’m sure my friends in America do not find it amusing as it comes across as a deadly serious and at times vicious process. I will not comment on any of the actual candidates but make one obvious observation and that is would any Presidential candidate ever stand up and admit they have done anything wrong in the past.

If any politician in the US or even here in Australia ever actually admitted they were a sinner and needed the forgiveness of God then that would spell the end of their political career. This is such a real fact of life that what opposing politicians seek to do is find what is known as “Dirt” in their opponents. This “dirt” is then used to destroy the good reputations of the candidate and swing the votes their way to win the election.

I watch the American president candidates doing two things constantly pushing up their own so called virtue and greatness and finding fault and sometimes scandal in the lives of their opponents. The political campaigns of every country in the world are similar but let me say that this is only possible because we want and even demand such a process. If this is not so why does is this form of political campaigning so successful and why are political candidate destroyed when sin or wrong- doing is found in their past.

We all try to present ourselves to the world as good upright people and many people today give the impression that they are without fault in this life. Even those caught out as immoral characters try to say they are not as bad as others or they only did the wrong they got caught for because they were forced into this by the evil actions of others.

The plain fact is stated clearly in the bible, like Romans 3: 23,

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

Psalm 75 presents clearly the God of the bible who will judge everyone and in that judgment he will bring down the proud or rebellious people that are called the wicked in the Old Testament and exalt the humble God believing people who are called “The Righteous” in the Old Testament.

The fact that this Psalm follows Psalm 74 I believe is not a coincidence as Psalm 74 explores the theme when will God judge his enemies like Psalm 74: 10,

“How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile your name forever?”

And finishes with this plea for God’s Judgment in verses 22 and 23,

Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long.
23 Do not ignore the clamour of your adversaries, the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually”.

 While Psalm 75 spells out clearly the Judgment of God on his enemies which is surely coming like verse 2,

“You say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge with equity”

Even though these Psalms a linked by their themes it is unlikely they are linked by their time frame of composition. Although the Hebrew heading attributes this Psalm to Asaph we know already that this might not be the original man named Asaph in David and Solomon’s time for it seems to be a name given to any descendant of Asaph as we saw in Psalm 74 which was clearly written some time after the fall of Judah and Jerusalem in 597BC.

For various reasons most commentators believe this Psalm was written by a another descendant of Asaph who lived through the Assyrian invasion of Judah and the besieging of the city of Jerusalem by the Assyrian king Sennacherib in 701BC.

This is because the Psalm seems to have a thread of God’s judgment and positive victory throughout it. Add to this the fact that verse 6 speaks of people being exalted from East, west and the desert probably a reference to the desert areas to the south of Judah which leaves only the north not mentioned which is where the Assyrian invasion came from.

Interestingly in both 2 Kings 18: 18 and verse 37 and Isaiah 36: 3 and 22 a descendant of Asaph is mentioned in connection with the Assyrian assault on Jerusalem. 2 Kings 18: 17 and 18 reads like this,

 “The king of Assyria sent his supreme commander, his chief officer and his field commander with a large army, from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. They came up to Jerusalem and stopped at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field. 18 They called for the king; and Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went out to them”.

Could this high -ranking court official named Joah be the descendant of Asaph who wrote Psalm 75?

The answer is we simply do not know but who ever he was he used a well known tune for his composition called in the Hebrew heading, “Do not destroy” which has been used for three other Psalms, Psalms 57, 58 and 59. This is an apt title for a Psalm, which speaks of God as the judge, obviously not mankind, excluding even his own people or followers.

So with the judgment of the proud or Godless people an the exaltation of the humble or God believing people I have broken this Psalm into 4 Sections and each section has two parts:

  1. (Vs. 1) THE GOD WHO DESERVES PRAISE
  1. The God who is near (1a)
  2. The God who has done marvelous deeds (1b)
  1. (2 – 5) THE GOD WHO JUDGES THE WICKED
  1. The God who decides when to Judge (2 – 3)
  2. The God who condemns arrogance and wickedness (4 – 5)
  1. (6 – 8) THE GOD WHO BRINGS A MAN DOWN AND EXALTS ANOTHER
  1. The God who brings down a man and then exalts another (6 – 7)
  2. The God who administers lethal judgment (vs. 8)
  1. (9 – 10) THE GOD WHO’S JUDGMENT AND SALVATION DESERVES OUR
                     PRAISE AND PROCLAMATION
  1. The God who deserves eternal praise and proclamation (vs. 9)
  2. The God who judges the wicked but delivers or saves the righteous
    (vs. 10)
  1. (Vs. 1) THE GOD WHO DESERVES PRAISE

This Psalm starts with a word of praise and finishes with a word of praise, which I think is a very good thing to have at the start and end of a Psalm, which speaks of the judgment of God. This is because most of us have suffered under the preaching that is called fire and brimstone preaching. This kind of preaching is big on condemnation of sinners but often weak on the positive aspects of God, namely his love and majesty that deserves our praise.

This first verse, which features praising God, is so important I have broken it down into two parts:

  1. The God who is near (1a)
  2. The God who has done marvelous deeds (1b)
  1. The God who is near (1a)

The first part is:

“We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your name is near”.

So the first point of praise in this opening verse is the nearness of the name of God. This seems a strange expression but once we understand what the names of God meant to an ancient Hebrew person then it makes a lot of sense.

I have spoken of the many names of God in previous Psalm talks and Tremper Longman 111 sums up the significance of this with these words,

“Gods unspoken name, Yahweh, is near, meaning that God himself is near”.

Longman goes on to speak of God’s specially dwelling of his name in Deuteronomy 12: 11, which this writer might have had in his mind as well,

“Then to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name—there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the Lord”.

 We know of course from the complete Old Testament and New Testament that for the true believer of the God of the Bible God is with us every where we go as expressed so well in the well known Psalm, Psalm 139 made even more famous by the poem by Francis Thompson called The hound of heaven, here are the first ten verses of Psalm 139,

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast”.

Jesus made it clear to his disciples and all his followers since them that he is with us always in Matthew 28: 20b

“And surely I am with you always, to ends of the age”.

What is the significance of praising God for his continual presence at the start of a Psalm that deals with the God who Judges?

Well I think it is significant because as true believers in the God of the bible who will judge all people we have nothing to fear because just as God will bring down the proud and godless people he will exalt the humble true believers as verse 7 0f this Psalm declares,

“But it is God who judges; He brings one down and exalts another”.

  1. The God who has done marvelous deeds (1b)

Even though this Psalm does not mention directly the love of God it is implied from statements like verse 1b,

“Men tell of your wonderful deeds”.

 This is a reference to what God has done in the past particularly for his special people Israel.

Even the great prophet of the judgment of Israel says this about God’s love for his people in Jeremiah 31: 1 – 4,

“At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and

They will be my people.” This is what the Lord says: “The people who survive the sword will find favour in the wilderness; I will come to give rest to Israel.”

The Lord appeared to us in the past saying:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful”.

This is Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the return from exile for the nation of Israel and it shows how this God of love who just judged his people would perform wonderful deeds yet again for the people he chose’s to love.

David speaks of God’s wonderful deeds in the past for Israel in his prayer in 2 Samuel 7: 22 – 25,

“How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.

25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised”.

So this is the kind of wonderful deeds God did for Israel in the past that this descendant of Asaph is referring to in verse 1b.

As Christians we are now part of God’s special family or nation that God has made out of his love by his wonderful deeds of the past when he sent Jesus into this world to die for our sins on the cross.

Paul spoke of this love of God calling us and transforming us by his wonderful deeds of Christ in the past and a great example of this is Ephesians 2: 1 – 10,

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.

Note how Paul speaks of our judgment being deserved in verse 3 yet because of God’s love he says in verse 4 he has made us alive, saved by this wonderful grace of God.

This great love or grace of God is what is behind any of the wonderful deeds of God even the creation of the world and the universe is a wonderful deed of God in the past that comes because he is a God of love and created us to be in fellowship with him. Paul sees the making of us as new creatures in Christ is another act of God’s loving handiwork of creation in Jesus Christ our Lord.

  1. (2 – 5) THE GOD WHO JUDGES THE WICKED

We now move quickly into the main teaching theme of the Psalm namely God’s judgment and as I did in the first section I have broken this second section into two parts:

  1. The God who decides when to Judge (2 – 3)
  2. The God who condemns arrogance and wickedness (4 – 5)
  1. The God who decides when to Judge (2 – 3)

The writer of the Psalm now has God directly speaking in verse 2 of this Psalm something was have seen before in previous Psalms.

Verse 2, says,

“You say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge uprightly”.

As I said in the introduction it is no coincidence that Psalm 75 follows Psalm 74 because Psalm 74 verse 10 asks,

“How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile your name forever?”

Verse 2 is the answer to the question when will you judge your enemies? and God’s answer is simply when I choose to do so. God is in charge of the timetable of history and particularly his judgment.

Coffman makes this very important observation,

“Everything in the whole universe is, as it were, scheduled according to the time God has for it, in the life of Christ, one cannot fail to remember the frequent words of Jesus, and ‘My time is not yet come’”.

Judah was probably under attack by the Assyrians and many Jews would have been asking when will God act when will he judge our enemies?

This descendant of Asaph answers that question with God’s direct words, which are basically saying when God chooses to do so.

All through the history of the church Christians have been caught up in persecutions as Jesus predicted would happen and they too would have asked in prayer to God and conversation with each other “How long will God allow this time of suffering to last?

In the time of the Roman Empire in the early church history it took 300 years before the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 312BC.

In more recent times it took 50 years for the fall of communism to come to end the persecutions of Christians in Eastern Europe.

Many have sought to predict the final judgment of God that will happen when Christ returns despite the fact Jesus said in Matthew 24: 36,

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son”.

Like the words in this Psalm Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 24: 36b

“But only the Father “ knows.

God has chosen the time and hour for Jesus return and not even Jesus when he was on earth knew when that was to happen. I say if Jesus did not know when he would return why would anyone in this life know the date of his return?

I always get a little uptight inside when fellow believers begin to speculate the date or time of Jesus return as Peter says in 1 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”.

Then in verse 3 the writer of Psalm 75 refers poetically to his people own time of suffering, verse 3,

“When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm”.

This poetic image I think captures the upheaval and turmoil of the Assyrian invasion of Judah. This mighty nation of Assyria had viciously turned the nations of the world of there time upside down they were like a an human earth quake, Joseph Benson writes,

“The Israelites affairs were thrown into confusion, and the frame of the government dissolved by their civil distractions, or that the people were consumed and destroyed by the continual irruptions of foreign enemies”.

However even in this terrible time before God’s judgment fell on the Assyrian army in 701BC God was holding,

“Its pillars (the Nation) firm”.

Christians during the 300 years of persecutions by the Romans would have looked to God for help and support during their time of turmoil and suffering and so did the Christians during the 50 years of the persecutions of the communist.

The writer to the Hebrews speaks eloquently about how God is holding us firm in Hebrews 6: 19 – 20, and uses the concept of the anchor to express how God holds us firm in Christ,

“ We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”.

At all times including the storms of life God hangs on to us through Christ to help us stand firm in him.

  1. The God who condemns arrogance and wickedness (4 – 5)

Then comes two devastating verses concerning how God views arrogant Godless people of this world.

In verse 4 God says,

“To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more, and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns”.

No greater words of arrogance could be found than those of King Sennacherib commander of the Assyrian army who gave the people of Jerusalem and king Hezekiah a message through the probable writer of this Psalm Joah the descendant of Asaph who with two other court officials in 2 Kings 18: 32b – 35.

“Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ 33 Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? 35 Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”

In ancient times all Nations of the world had their own set of God’s and when one nation overthrew another nation it was not only a victory for that nation but for their God’s as well.

So this commander arrogant commander has no respect for the God of the bible to him he had no more power than any of the other God’s his army had encountered so far. In fact the Northern kingdom of Israel referred here as Samaria the capital of the Northern tribes of Israel. Even though most of these people by the time of the Assyrians had forsaken the pure worship of the God of the bible the Assyrians would have believed they has already defeated the same God the people of Judah worshipped.

So this Assyrian commander was boasting of his power over the God of the bible. We saw continually throughout the Psalms of books one and two David’s word of prophecy and teaching of the opposition the rest of the world and even non- believing people in Israel would display to him and his God in Psalm 2.

Psalm 2: 2: spells out this opposition this way,

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

Their arrogance is expressed in verse 3,

“Let us break their chains, they say, and throw off their fetters”

And the response of God is in verses 4 and 5,

“The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath.”

Then verse 4 mentions for the first time the image of the horn, which is also mentioned in verse’s 5 and 10.

What does this image of the horn mean here in Psalm 75?

Allen Harmon explains this image simply by saying,

“Horn in the Psalms denotes power and strength”

And he goes on to give two references where the horn image is used in other Psalms, Psalm 18: 2 and Psalm 89: 17 and 24.

In Psalm 18: 2 David uses the horn image to speak of the strength of the God of the bible,

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and deliverer; My God is my rock in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”.

Note how all this verse speaks of the strength of David’s God the God of the bible.

However in Psalm 75 verses 4 and 5 the horn image is applied to the so called strength of the arrogant wicked non believers. Of course they’re so called strength is but weakness in the face of the God of the bible who is the King or Lord of everything and everyone. As David declares in Psalm 47: 7 – 9,

“For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted”.

In verse 5 of Psalm 75 we read,

“Do not lift your horns against heaven; do not speak with outstretched neck”.

So this commander of the mighty army of Assyria in his message to the people of Jerusalem and their king, King Hezekiah is raising his horn or another suitable image would be fist to heaven and saying I am stronger and more powerful than you.

Psalm 75 verse 5 warns people like this man not to raise their horns, their own supposed strength against the true God of heaven and earth.

Joseph Benson explains the other image used here in this verse, namely the phrase,

“Do not speak with outstretched neck”.

“It is a metaphor taken from untamed oxen, which will not bow their heads to receive the yoke”.

 Paul in the New Testament picks up the idea of the state of every person who has not turned to Christ for forgiveness in repentance and faith as being just like the image here of those who lift their horns or supposed strength at God in defiance or rebellion.

This rebellion which Paul calls sin is clear in a passage like Romans 3: 9 – 18,

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage?

Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does goo not even one.13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

As I said in my introduction to this Psalm arrogance and boasting is the order of our day as seen in our politicians who we demand act like this or we will not vote for them. I heard that one Presidential candidate for the 2016 d election said he was a Christian but had not asked for forgiveness because he never had a need to ask God for forgiveness.

We cannot throw rocks at our politicians because they are only acting in arrogance and boastfulness because we will only vote for them if they do so. I speak here of “we” as the general popular view of the people of our world.

I hope that real Christians will not speak, act or promote arrogance and boastfulness but will reflect Christ who Paul says in Philippians 2: 2: 5 – 8,

“Our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus; Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross”.

 Paul tells the Romans, in Romans 12: 3,

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

  1. (6 – 8) THE GOD WHO BRINGS A MAN DOWN AND EXALTS ANOTHER

We come then to the heart of the message of this Psalm, which I have said is the message that God judges, the proud but exalts the humble something the last two verses started to get us ready to think about.

I have also broken this third section into two parts:

  1. The God who brings down a man and then exalts another (6 – 7)
  2. The God who administers lethal judgment (vs. 8)
  1. The God who brings down a man and then exalts another (6 – 7)

Before we look at the main message of this Psalm in verse 7, we will take a look at what the verse before it is saying and how it ties into the main message of the Psalm. Verse 6 says,

“No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man”.

 This verse is saying that in the face of the arrogant non believers who are attacking God and his people no human help is possible to stop it.

It is interesting to note that king Hezekiah around the time of the Assyrian invasion seemed to have flirted with alliances with Egypt to the south and the Assyrian commander himself told Hezekiah through a possible writer of this Psalm Joah a descendant of Asaph and two other court officials that an alliance with other countries like Egypt is useless as we read in 2 Kings 18: 19 – 21,

“The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah:

“‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours? 20 You say you have the counsel and the might for war—but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me? 21 Look, I know you are depending on Egypt that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him”.

Some commentators have suggested that the desert area mentioned in verse 6 represents the desert areas south of Jerusalem that go all the way to Egypt. Which means that no country east, west or south can help Judah in its fight with the Assyrians who come from the North the only direction not mentioned in this verse because the Assyrians have already defeated all nations north of Israel.

This means that humanly speaking true exaltation of any man cannot come from anyone in this life. The bible says that those who are in authority in this world are only there because God put them there as Romans 13: 1 – 2 says,

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves”.

 This is an amazing thing for Paul to say because in his time the governing authorities were the Romans who were already persecuting Christians.

 So God raises up a person in authority and God will put them down as Daniel 2: 20 – 21 says,

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and rises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning”.

This leads naturally into the key verse of this Psalm, verse 8,

“But it is God who judges; He brings one down, he exalts another”.

I like Spurgeon explanation of this verse,

“The Lord reigneth evermore. He putteth down one, and setteth up another. Empires rise and fall at his bidding. A dungeon here, and there a throne, his will assigns. Assyria yields to Babylon, and Babylon to the Medes. Kings are but puppets in his hand; they serve his purpose when they rise and when they fall”.

 The arrogant words of the Assyrian commander was taken back to Hezekiah who we are told in Isaiah 37 cut his clothes, put on sackcloth and threw himself before the Lord in prayer in the Temple. Then when Isaiah the prophet heard these words he was inspired by God to make this prophecy, Isaiah 37: 5 – 7,

When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.

Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’”

 This is what happened and when the Assyrian army still persisted in challenging Judah and its God Isaiah spoke another much longer prophecy against Assyria, here is Isaiah’s prophecy against Assyria, Isaiah 37: 22 – 29,

This is the word the Lord has spoken against him:” Virgin Daughter Zion despises and mocks you. Daughter Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee. 23 Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel! 24 By your messengers you have ridiculed the Lord. And you have said, ‘with my many chariots I have ascended the heights of the mountains, the utmost heights of Lebanon. I have cut down its tallest cedars, the choicest of its junipers. I have reached its remotest heights, the finest of its forests. 25 I have dug wells in foreign lands and drunk the water there. With the soles of my feet I have dried up all the streams of Egypt.’ 26 “Have you not heard?  Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass,
that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone. 27 Their people, drained of power, are dismayed and put to shame. They are like plants in the field, like tender green shoots, like grass sprouting on the roof, scorched before it grows up. 28 “But I know where you are and when you come and go and how you rage against me.
29 Because you rage against me and because your insolence has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will make you return
by the way you came”.

 Soon after this we read in 2 Kings 19: 35 – 37 of the Angel of the Lord going through the Assyrian camp killing thousands of them by some kind of sickness and the rest of the army simply packed up and went back to Assyria. We are then told that his own sons assassinated the great Assyrian king Sennacherib when he was praying to his God in his temple back in his Assyrian capital.

The teaching of the bringing down the proud and raising the humble features in the teaching of Jesus who said this in Matthew 23: 12,

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”.

 Jesus says that in his Kingdom, the Kingdom of God the order of people will be the opposite of this world as he says in Matthew 20: 16,

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

 So in Christ church on earth our leaders must be servant leaders and must not be like those who often lead us outside of the church. Again Jesus makes this clear in a verse like Matthew 20: 26 – 28,

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

  1. The God who administers lethal judgment (vs. 8)

We come then to the verse that spells out poetically the judgment of God on the arrogant wicked non –believers, verse 8,

“In the hand of the Lord is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices, he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs”.

 We have to carefully unpick the poetic images in this verse to fully understand what it is saying.

Joseph Benson offers the best explanation of this verse I have found in my study of this Psalm, he writes,

“God is here compared to the master of a feast who, in those days used to distribute portions of meats and drinks to the several guests, as he thought fit. A cup, in Scripture, is sometimes taken in a good sense for God’s blessings, as in Psalm 16: 5 and Psalm 23: 5 and sometimes and more frequently, in bad times, for vengeance and judgements as in Isaiah 51: 22 and Jeremiah 49: 12”.

 The most famous use of the image of the cup as a picture of pain and punishment is Jesus reference to it in the Garden Gethsemane where he prayed in Matthew 26: 39,

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will”.

 Leopold goes on to give even more meaning to the images of the cup and wine well mixed and even the image of the drinking of the dregs,

“He (God) tilts the cup as He holds it to the lips of those whom His justice and wrath have singled out. In that sense “He pours out a portion from it”, and then the “wicked of the earth”, all of them, “must drain and drink”, “its very dregs”, no matter how repulsive it tasted, and how unwilling they may be to bring the judgment on themselves”.

 The image of the cup filled with wine given to those who are under God’s judgement appears in the book of Revelation, Revelation 16: 19,

“The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath”.

So God’s judgment works on two levels. First he does perform localised judgments on people and nations from time to time. Like using the Babylonians to destroy the Assyrians as an act of judgement and then the Mede’s and Persians to destroy the Babylonians as an act of judgement and so it has been throughout the history of the world. Even today or in recent history Nations and people have had God’s cup filled with the fury of God’s wrath served up to them.

But secondly there is a final judgment to come which Revelation 16: 19 refers to when once and for all God’s cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath will be drunk by all wicked Godless people.

However because Jesus drunk of God’s cup of wrath on the cross a way was made for people to be saved. The book of Revelation contains the message of this way of Salvation being made by Jesus Christ God’s Son. Like Revelation 12: 10 – 12,

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”

So if the cup of God represents the full measure of the wrath of God then when Jesus died on the cross he had that full cup of God’s wrath for man’s sins poured fully out on him as Paul seems to believe in a verse like Romans 5: 9,

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

  1. (9 – 10) THE GOD WHO’S JUDGMENT AND SALVATION DESERVES OUR
                     PRAISE AND PROCLAMATION

The Psalm finishes with two resolutions of the writer of this psalm, which starts with a great word of praise just as it started in verse 1 with a great word of praise. However his first resolution is a resolve to praise God for his judgment but I believe he also has God’s salvation in mind as well.

I have broken this last section into two parts one part for each verse:

  1. The God who deserves eternal praise and proclamation (vs. 9)
  2. The God who judges the wicked but delivers or saves the righteous
    (vs. 10)
  1. The God who deserves eternal praise and proclamation (vs. 9)

The writer’s first resolution starts in verse 9 with the words,

“As for me, I will declare this forever”.

 What will he declare forever?

Well it what he has spoken about in the previous verses namely that God brings down or judges some people but exalts or saves others at the proper time his perfect time. He is proclaiming the Old Testament equivalent of the Gospel message.

The writers message is that God will judge the world and that we all deserve God’s condemnation but God in his mercy and love provides a way back to him. The next part of verse 9 gives us a big clue that Old Testament way of Salvation as it reads,

“I will sing praise to the God of Jacob”

 I have looked at the term “God of Jacob” in other Psalm talks and have noted that Jacob had two names and each had special meaning and teaching for us.

Jacob literally means “supplanter” or “Seizing by the heel” because Jacob was the second twin of Isaac and Rebecca and his brother Esau was born first with Jacob holding onto his brothers heel as he was born seemingly seeking to pull him back so he could be first born.

Jacob spent most of his life seeking by his own hands the birthright that belonged to Esau. He was a restless and rebellious character who God worked on over a number of years.

Then one night later in Jacobs’s life he had a god encounter with what could be called a heavenly angel who he wrestled with and then God through this angel touched Jacob’s hip and Jacob had a permanent limp from that day on,

Then we have these three verses in Genesis 32: 26 – 28,

“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.”

 So Jacob gets a name change from Jacob, the supplanter to Israel, which means wrestled or contended with God. Israel becomes the father of God’s special covenant people not Esau.

The Old Testament covenant shadows the new covenant, which Jesus makes for us through his death on the cross and so the full and complete salvation message of God becomes what we call the Gospel message.

As the writer to the Hebrews puts it 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”.

So the writer of Psalm 75 wants to proclaim God’s Judgement and Salvation to the world, which he also calls his praise to the God of Jacob.

We to should be committed to the proclamation of the judgment and salvation of God through the presentation of the Gospel message. This too is an act of praise.

  1. The God who judges the wicked but delivers or saves the righteous
    (vs. 10)

The final verse is the second half of the writers resolution now that he has realised what God is like and what God does and will do with mankind.

He realised in this Psalm that God hates arrogant Godless people who put their fist or as the Psalm says “horns” up at God in defiance to his rule of heaven and earth.

God will act in two ways towards mankind some he will bring down and some he will exalt and it is the proud and Godless he will bring down and humble God believers he will exalt.

As a result of this his first resolution we saw in verse 9 was to declare God’s judgment and salvation to the world at large and then praise God for it.

Now in verse 10 he expresses his second and final resolution and it goes like this,

“I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up”.

 Some commentators have pointed out that many ancient kings wore animal horns on their heads to symbolize their power and might. This Psalmist has already said that God told these arrogant leaders not to lift their horns against heaven.

He is now saying he will do his bit, and that would include the writing of this Psalm, to cut off these offensive horns.

When we proclaim the Gospel message we declare God’s judgment upon the pride and arrogance of man but at the same time we point to the way God has provided a way of salvation for all people in the death and resurrection of God’s son, Jesus Christ.

In Roman’s 1: 18 – 20, Paul declares,

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse”.

But in the verses leading up to this Paul speaks of God’s way of salvation and of Paul’s resolution to proclaim it, Romans 1: 16 – 17,

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

 Finally the Psalmist speaks of his resolution to act upon of his understanding of God’s way of salvation,

“But the horns of the righteous will be lifted up”

 I like Spurgeon’s explanation of this, he writes,

“In a rightly ordered society, good men are counted great men, virtue confers true rank, and grace is more esteemed than gold. Being saved from unrighteous domination, the chief among the chosen people here promises to rectify the errors which had crept into the commonwealth, and after the example of the Lord himself, to abase the haughty and elevate the humble”.

 When Spurgeon refers to being saved from unrighteous domination” he is probably referring to the theory that this Psalm was written after the attack of the Assyrian’s in 701BC when the arrogant and unrighteous words against God and his people was answered by God with a resounding victory by God through a turn of the political scene back home in Assyria and a devastating attack by the Angel of the Lord in the camp of the Assyrians outside the walls of Jerusalem,

This Psalm as I have already hinted at is the writer putting his resolution into action and God has used this Psalm to promote his message of judgment on the proud and arrogant and salvation to the humble and God believers.

In our day and age as men and women become more and more reliant on themselves and many speak arrogantly against God and his true followers we need to present the message of this Psalm summed up in verse 7,

“But it is God who judges; He brings one down, he exalts another”

 And the words of Christ in Matthew 23: 12,

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted”.

I close as usual with a poem and a prayer.

 GOD WILL EXALT THE HUMBLE

(Based on Psalm 75)

 We give thanks to you Oh God above

For in Jesus you’re near to us.

His wondrous deeds we know are true

For he gave up glory for a cross.

He wants us now to follow him

By the way we live our lives

And one day God will judge this world

But the humble God forgives.

 

Chorus:

For God will exalt the humble

And bring down the arrogant and proud

So my resolve is to praise you Lord

And not follow this world’s godless crowd.

 

God declare to the arrogant ones

Don’t boast of your position and power.

Do not raise your fist to God above

In this life’s short and fickle hour.

No person can exalt themselves

No power on earth can save

No money or connection can

Raise you from the grave.

 

Chorus:

For God will exalt the humble

And bring down the arrogant and proud

So my resolve is to praise you Lord

And not follow this world’s godless crowd.

 

In the hands of the Lord is his cup of wrath

He will administer on his judgment day.

He will pour that drink down the throats

Of all who have sinned and turned away.

But God has made a way for us

By sending his Son to die

And all we have to do is trust

And God’s forgiveness will raise us high.

 

Chorus:

For God will exalt the humble

And bring down the arrogant and proud

So my resolve is to praise you Lord

And not follow this world’s godless crowd.

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 Dear Father in heaven we thank you that you are the God who judges everyone with justice and love. We thank you that one day you will judge this world but above all we thank you for sending Jesus into this world to die for our sins on the cross. Help us to continually turn to you in repentance and faith accepting that your great love in Jesus has saved us and given us the gift of eternal life. Help us to share the message of your love to the world so that others might be saved from the consequences of their sins as well. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

 

 

 

 

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