Thursday, June 30, 2016

Trusting God Only

Psalm 62:1-12

To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David.

“Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.  He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.” (Psalm 62:1-2)

Many Christian organizations use carefully designed fund raising campaigns to pay for their programs and facilities.  If the campaign doesn’t raise enough money, they fire the campaign manager and hire a different one.    Often, the only difference between the way they raise money and the way secular groups do is that the religious groups claim they are trusting God to make it work while the secular groups do not.   In reality, their faith is in the fund raising program rather than God. 

David says he is completely trusting in God, waiting for him to produce the results and save him.   He concentrated on doing what God told him, even assisting groups that would later turn against him, in obedience.  He did not mount a publicity campaign or membership drive to gain support.    God was his rock and his salvation, and David’s success was not dependent on earthly factors such as the size of his army or the support of powerful people.   Because he was depending on God rather than human support, his position would not be affected by who supported him.   When we depend on human support, we are tend to adapt our policies and doctrinal statements to satisfy potential supporters.  When we are trusting God, there is no reason to change our position.         

“How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence.  They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah. “ (Psalm 62:3-4)

Those who stand against a man who is doing what is right may appear powerful, but they are like a brick wall that is starting to sag outward, or a fence that the some of the posts have rotted away.  They are already showing signs of imminent collapse.   When they get together, it is solely to figure out how to destroy their opponent.  They are deceitful, pretending to be friends while spreading lies.  Saul demonstrates what David is talking about.  He repeatedly pretended to promote David while conspiring to kill him.  He became so focused on his efforts to kill David he neglected the country, even turning on Jonathan for questioning his agenda. 

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.  He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.  In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.  Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.” (Psalm 62:5-8)

David says to depend only on the Lord and expect him to do what is needed.  He is the only one who knows what is necessary and has the power to do it.  He is the rock of salvation, the one who can always be depended on to protect and save us, and when we depend on him nothing will move us.  He is the one we can always turn to. 

“Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.  Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.” (Psalm 62:9-10)

A huge following may feed our ego, but it is really of little value.   The support of powerful leaders cannot be depended on.   When the time comes they will abandon you even faster than the masses in an effort to keep their position.    Efforts to coerce the people to obey, claiming pastoral authority, or using threats of exclusion form the group will not produce lasting results, and will ultimately backfire.  Raising money for one purpose, then using it for something else or telling people that if they give, God will give them back more is robbing the givers.   When we are depending on these kinds of things, we are not trusting God.   When we are not trusting God, there is a tendency to focus on the power and money available rather than on obeying God.

“God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.  Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.” (Psalm 62:11-12)

God does not depend on human methods or programs.  He has infinite power and resources, and is able to do whatever is needed.   He doesn’t need a fund raising program, or publicity campaigns and support from financial or political figures to accomplish his purposes.    God is the one to decide who gets help and forgiveness, and he supplies based on people’s actions and attitudes toward him. 

In Psalm 37:23-25, David said, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.  I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”  If we are trusting God and doing what he says, we do not need to use the world’s way of raising money or gaining victory.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Needing God’s Power

Psalm 61:1-8

To the chief Musician upon Neginah, A Psalm of David.

“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.  From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” (Psalm 61:1-3)

No matter how strong or powerful a person is, there are times when he is overwhelmed by the things that are happening.  In an effort to prevent it from happening, some people try to control everything and everybody around them, and go into a panic when they are not able to control something.     

David was the King of Israel, and he still had times when he was overwhelmed by the things that were happening.    He asked that when he started feeling overwhelmed, God would direct his attention to the one who had more power than he had, to God.    Time after time God had protected him from other overwhelming situations, and if he thought about what God had done, he would not panic.    

“I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.  For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.” (Psalm 61:4-5)

David was confident in his salvation, and that he would spend eternity in God’s presence, and as a result he was confident of that he could trust God with his daily problems.  God knew his commitment, and he believed the promises that God offered those who trust and obey him. 

“Thou wilt prolong the king's life: and his years as many generations.  He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him.” (Psalm 61:6-7)

Because he believed God’s promises, David was expecting  him to protect his life here on earth, so that he would see several generations of his family.  After he died, he would spend eternity in God’s presence.    He asks that God show mercy for his sin and failures, and that the truth be brought forward to preserve him. 

“So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.” (Psalm 61:8)

If God would enable him to stay focused on Him, David would be able to sing his praises forever, and keep his commitments and promises to God.    Without God’s help, he might well be distracted and panic, forgetting what he had promised.    

It is important for us to understand that when we depend on our own strength, we will fail to follow God.  Ephesians 2:8 states, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”  Even the faith to be saved or follow him comes from God as a gift.   Without him to keep us focused, we will always fail.   

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Enjoying What God Had Given

Psalm 60:1-12

“To the chief Musician upon Shushaneduth, Michtam of David, to teach; when he strove with Aramnaharaim and with Aramzobah, when Joab returned, and smote of Edom in the valley of salt twelve thousand.

Once again we are reminded that the titles and comments were added later, based on tradition rather than being part of the Psalms.   I Chronicles 18:12 tells us, “Moreover Abishai the son of Zeruiah slew of the Edomites in the valley of salt eighteen thousand.”  It was Joab’s brother, Abishai who slew the Edomites and he slew eighteen thousand rather than twelve thousand.     Such errors are easily corrected by comparing other scriptures, and do not discredit the scriptures.  They emphasize the importance of the statement in II Peter 1:19-21.  “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”  No passage of scripture can be interpreted without being compared to other scripture. 

“O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.  Thou hast made the earth to tremble; thou hast broken it: heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh.  Thou hast showed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.” (Psalm 60:1-3)

God had allowed Israel to be defeated because of their rebellion against God.   The psalmist, asks that God would turn back to them.  The whole earth was shaken by Israel’s defeat, and God was teaching Israel a hard lesson about disobedience.  They had been shocked that God had not come to their rescue. 

“Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.  That thy beloved may be delivered; save with thy right hand, and hear me.” (Psalm 60:4-5)

At the same time, God had given a sign of his power for those who trusted in God.  Their faith would show like a banner, and ultimately his people would be delivered by his power. 

“God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.  Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver; Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me.  Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom? Wilt not thou, O God, which hadst cast us off? and thou, O God, which didst not go out with our armies?” (Psalm 60:6-10)

Because of God’s power, the David would control Shechem and the area around Bethlehem, as well as the land on the east side of Jordan, known as Gilead, of which Succoth was a part.  He would control the areas that had chosen Ishbosheth as king after Saul’s death, including Ephraim and Manasseh.  Judah was the tribe who anointed David king and became the ruling tribe.  The Moabites, on the east side of the Dead Sea became tributaries of Israel under David, working with him.  The Edomites would rebell at first, but after Abishai’s attack would finally surrender, to avoid complete destruction.   The Philistines worked with David and retained much of their power through David’s reign.  It would be same God who had given the Philistines victory over them at Saul’s death who led them to victory over the Edomites. 

“Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.  Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.” (Psalm 60:11-12)

He recognizes that any human alliance would be wasted.  With God’s help, victory was assured, because it is God who defeats all the enemies.  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Barking Dogs

Psalm 59:1-17

To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David; when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him.

Tradition says this Psalm was written at the time described in I Samuel 19, when Saul was plotting to murder him and Michal helped him escape through a window, them arranged pillows to look like someone was still in the bed to fool the men who were staking out the house.  

“Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me.  Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men.  For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul: the mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD.  They run and prepare themselves without my fault: awake to help me, and behold.  Thou therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen: be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah.” (Psalm 59:1-5)

David asks God to deliver him from wicked people who have rose up against him, plotting to kill him, even though he had done nothing wrong to deserve their hatred.  They have rejected God’s standards and laws, making themselves no more deserving of mercy than any of the heathen. 

“They return at evening: they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city.  Behold, they belch out with their mouth: swords are in their lips: for who, say they, doth hear?  But thou, O LORD, shalt laugh at them; thou shalt have all the heathen in derision.” (Psalm 59:6-8)

Saul’s officers were maintaining a twenty four hour watch o David’s house, so the statement that they returned at night causes me to doubt that the Psalm was written at when tradition says.  Other times Saul’s army chased after David in the daytime, then returned to the cities to unwind, making a lot of commotion, like a bunch of dogs barking, getting drunk and fighting and talking about what they were going to do to David.  They assumed that no one cared what they are doing .   God would laugh at their bragging just as he did with the other heathen, who thought God was powerless. 

“Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defence.   The God of my mercy shall prevent me: God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies.” (Psalm 59:9-10)

Because he knows God’s power, David had chosen to depend on him for protection,   God would go before him and he would see God accomplish what he hoped for against his enemies. 

“Slay them not, lest my people forget: scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield.  For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride: and for cursing and lying which they speak.” (Psalm 59:11-12)

David asked that God not just Kill the evil because other people needed to see and be reminded of the consequences of sin.   If they are not reminded of the consequences, people tend to forget that there are consequences and do the same things.  In our politically correct world, we are concerned about embarrassing the guilty.  Jesus gave specific actions to take in dealing with sin in the church, in Matthew 18:15-17, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.   But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.”

If a person is willing to take responsibility and stop the sin, there is no need to spread it beyond those who are directly affected.  If the person refuses to take responsibility or make changes, then it is to be brought before others to be judged and if necessary, publicly put out of the church.  As Paul told Timothy, in I Timothy 5:20, “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”  If a person refuses to change, the sin is deliberate, and there is no need to worry about hurting his feelings.   The hope is that the shame will act as a deterrent to others. 

“Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be: and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth. Selah.  And at evening let them return; and let them make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city.  Let them wander up and down for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied.” (Psalm 59:13-15)

The psalmist asks that while they not be killed, the evil suffer visibly, so that they and those who see them can know that God is the ruler, not only of Israel, but of entire world.   He asks that they’d be like a bunch of dogs fighting over the food realizing that their lifestyle will never satisfy them completely. 

“But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.  Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.” (Psalm 59:16-17)

Instead of worrying about the power of those barking dogs and their threats, David is committed to trusting God, singing and rejoicing in his power, and remembering the times he has delivered him in the past.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

Sinners By Nature

Psalm 58:1-11

To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David.

“Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?  Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.” (Psalm 58:1-2)

Reading through the Psalms, on begins to understand the frustration David must have felt during the years he was fleeing from Saul.  Though he had committed no crime and had not tried to usurp authority, Saul had ordered him killed.  As a result, many people concluded he was a criminal and betrayed him to Saul in an effort to curry favor, while ignoring the fact that he had often protected them. 

In Leviticus 19:15 God commanded, “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor.”  By simply accepting the government’s (Saul’s) accusations without checking out the facts, the people of Israel were violating God’s commands and judging unfairly.   By helping Saul, they became accessories in attempted murder, yet they would have insisted that they were doing what was right by obeying the King. 

While we have a responsibility to obey those who are in authority, they do not have the authority to override God’s commands, and when they try, as the Apostles said in Acts 5:29, “…We ought to obey God rather than men.”    When we accept men’s orders over God’s we have placed that person ahead of God, and he knows our heart.  While we may justify it to ourselves, As Proverbs 21:2 says, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.”  To blindly follow our leaders is a form of idolatry.

“The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.  Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.” (Psalm 58:3-5)

Psychology tells us people are born good and are taught to do evil.  The scriptures tell us people are born with a natural instinct to do wrong, as a result of Adam’s sin, and must learn to do what is right.  Unfortunately some have erroneously taught that we inherit Adam’s sin, no just the instinct to sin, (the sin nature) and judge that baby as guilty.   When he is born, the baby is innocent, unable to choose between right and wrong.   To be innocent only means he has not done wrong, not that he will not.

Soon after birth, the baby learns that crying gets his mother’s attention, and depending on how the mother works with him either learns to manipulate her by crying and essentially lying to her, or learns that he is loved and doesn’t need to manipulate her.  He is already learning to choose whether to do right or take advantage.    If their fake crying is rewarded they continue to practice them, becoming  more demanding and selfish.    Unfortunately, the psychological model tends to reward and thus encourage the sinful attitude.    The results of the belief that children are inherently good and do not need to learn what is right are obvious in modern society.

If allowed or encouraged to continue, that sinful, selfish attitude consumes the person’s life poisoning everything, and they become as dangerous as a poisonous snake.  Eventually they reach a point where they will not listen to anyone and attack those who try to soothe and appease them.   At this point, attempts to change their attitude are rarely successful because the wicked attitude is so deeply ingrained.        

“Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD.  Let them melt away as waters which run continually: when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces.  As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.  Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath. ” (Psalm 58:6-9)

David prays that God intervenes on his behalf, breaking  their teeth out so it hurts when they bite down or that they melt away like the snowdrifts which supply a river.   When they take aim to attack him may god make it like somebody cut their bow in pieces so they can’t attack.  May they be like a snail (slug) when a bit of salt is sprinkled on him destroying the cell membranes and causing them to melt away, or like a baby that is born before it can survive.   He expects God to destroy them even before their attacks do any harm.    

“The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.  So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.” (Psalm 58:10-11)

Those who do right will be encouraged when they see the wicked destroyed by God..  People will realize God rewards those who serve him and that he punishes those who do wickedly.  Unfortunately, when we avenge ourselves, people learn to respect and fear us instead of God.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Trusting God To Do What is Needed

Psalm 57:1-11

“To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave.

Tradition places this Psalm at the time when Saul came into the cave where David was hiding described in I Samuel 24.  Altaschith means Thou Shalt Not Destroy, and is an appropriate title.   David’s men encouraged him to kill Saul, but David refused because God had chosen him as king, demonstrating his wisdom,  his michtam. 

Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.   I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.  He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.” (Psalm 57:1-3)

Rather than trusting his own instincts, and killing Saul, David trusted God to remove Saul at the proper time.  He asks that God be merciful and not punish him just as he had not killed Saul.  He was determined to keep on trusting God to protect him until God ended the constant attempts on his life.  He was confident that when he prayed God would answer, and do what was needed on his behalf.  He would save him from Saul and the people who were attacking him.  In the same circumstance, how easy would it be to assume, like David’s men did, that God was giving you a chance to eliminate the problem. 

“My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.  Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.   They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah.” (Psalm 57:4-6)

David felt like Daniel in the lion’s den, surrounded by those who wanted to kill him,except his attackers were human.  While the lions would kill impersonally, for food or entertainment and might be distracted by something else, the attacks on David were personal and even the invasion by the Philistines in the previous chapter had only provided a minor respite.  As soon as the Philistine threat was removed, they resumed their efforts to kill David.    It felt like a trap from which there would be no escape, not realizing they would be the ultimate victims. 

“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.  Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.  I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations.  For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds.  Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.” (Psalm 57:7-11)

David was committed to sing and praise God despite the circumstances.  He would use whatever means was available to publicly show his appreciation for God’s blessings.   He wanted people to understand how great God’s mercy is and that what he says is completely true at every level.  When they understand this people will honor God more than anything in the heavens or on earth.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Preventing Anxiety Attacks

Psalm 56:1-13

To the chief Musician upon Jonathelemrechokim, Michtam of David, when the Philistines took him in Gath.

In I Samuel 21, after being betrayed to Saul, and convinced he would eventually kill him, David went to the Philistines in Gath for safety.  He was recognized and taken to the king.  Fearing he would be killed, he pretended to be insane.  He was released and fled back to Israel.  According to tradition, this psalm was a poem written about that called The Dove of Silence.  As with many other of the Psalms, the reason for the traditional name is not immediately clear. 

“Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me.  Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High.” (Psalm 56:1-2)

After months and years of fleeing from Saul, while fighting Israel’s enemies, David had begun to feel depressed.   His life was at risk every day, and it began to wear him down.  Even people he helped betrayed him to Saul.  His only hope was that God would intercede on his behalf

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.  In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” (Psalm 56:3-4)

Every time he felt that sense of panic, David made up his mind to turn to God and depend on him.   He would thank God for the things he had done for him and the promises he had made to him and not allow his fear to distract or control him, realizing that his enemies’ power was limited to temporary physical things.  They could never destroy what he was.  The worst thing they could do, killing him would only free him to be with the Lord. 

“Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil.  They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul.  Shall they escape by iniquity? in thine anger cast down the people, O God.” (Psalm 56:5-7)

In their effort to curry favor with Saul, men like betrayed David to Saul, accusing him of criminal activity and  trying to stir up insurrection and conflict.  Others spied on him, reporting his movements to Saul and trying to ambush him.  David asks if they are to profit from their wrong doing.  He expects God to punish them for what they have done.   

“Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?  When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.” (Psalm 56:8-9)

God knows exactly what David has gone through .  He has kept a record of the sufferings he had been through  and how he responded.   David is confident of his relationship with God, and that his enemies will be forced to flee when they come face to face with God. 

“In God will I praise his word: in the LORD will I praise his word.  In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.” (Psalm 56:10-11)

Human instinct would be to live in fear of what might happen, but by the power of God’s spirit, David would praise God’s word and his promises.  He had placed his trust in God and he knew He was able to protect him from anything people could do to him. 

“Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.  For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” (Psalm 56:12-13)

He believed God’s promises were true and was Going to thank him for them as well as for the many other times God had acted on his behalf to save his life.  He asks that God prevent his being so discouraged that he would turn his back on God so that he could walk in God’s love and power. 

It is human nature to fear things when we feel we have not control of the outcome, and we need the Holy Spirit to enable us to trust God with the outcome of things we cannot control.   By focusing on his past actions and promises, we can prevent fear from taking control of our lives and producing an anxiety attack.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Trusting God When Even Friends Turn On You

Psalm 55:1-23

To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, A Psalm of David.

Tradition ascribes this Psalm to David, and says it was intended to be accompanied by stringed instruments, but gives no clue as to when it was written.    Internal evidence seems to indicate that it was written about the time Absalom revolted and tried to usurp the kingdom, as recorded in II Samuel 15-18. 

“Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication.  Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise; Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me.” (Psalm 55:1-3)

Absalom had developed a carefully planned conspiracy to take over the kingdom, and David was forced into exile for a period of time.  Part of the strategy had involved accusing David of favoring special interests and focusing on his own agenda rather than caring for the people, in an effort to inflame the opposition, just as what we see in politics today. 

“My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.  Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.  And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.  Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.  I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.” (Psalm 55:4-8)

As a result of the threats against his life and the constant false accusations, David reached a point where he wanted to just withdraw and go somewhere where he could rest and relax.  He wanted to go out into the dessert where he could be alone and live at peace, leaving the problems for other people to deal with. 

“Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city.  Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it.  Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.” (Psalm 55:9-11)

David prays that God would cause a division among those who were trying to destroy him because they were stirring up such violence in the city, much like what we see with the riots and protests against Donald Trump’s candidacy.  They were stirring up riots and conflicts night and day, destroying businesses and homes of innocent people and blaming David for the riots. 

“For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:  But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.  We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.  Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.” (Psalm 55:12-15)

Absalom was David’s son, and was assisted by one of David’s former advisors and personal friends, a man named Ahithophel.  This really hurt David that a man he considered a friend could turn so completely against him and plot his murder, and encourage Absalom to rape David’s wives.  God would have to judge Ahithophel for his betrayal. 

“As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.  Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.  He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.  God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.  He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.  The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords. ” (Psalm 55:16-21)

Because David had seen God’s deliverance in the past, he placed his trust in the Lord to deliver him again.  He would spend his time in prayer asking God to deliver him.  He was confident God would hear him. 

People who make mistakes have to make changes to correct those mistakes.  People who refuse to change their minds or actions effectively tell themselves they are perfect and have done nothing wrong.  They talk like friends, promising help and comfort while looking for a chance to destroy those who trust them, because they have convinced themselves God will not punish them.   Today, many refuse to acknowledge they are wrong because they think it makes them look weak.   In my opinion, it is better to appear weak than to be stupid and not repent of one’s sin. 

“Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.  But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 55:22-23)

When we trust God, he carries the load for us and promises he will never allow his people to be destroyed.  At the same time, we can count on him to punish and destroy those who continue in their sin.   Both Absalom and Ahithophel ultimately died as a result to their attacks on David, while David was restored to the throne.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Waiting On God’s Vengeance

Psalm 54:1-7

To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, A Psalm of David, when the Ziphims came and said to Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us?

Tradition ascribes this song to the period of David’s fleeing from Saul in I Samuel 23-26, when the Ziphites repeatedly betrayed him to Saul. They ascribe it as being written especially for the string section of the orchestra.   

“Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength.  Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.  For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them. Selah.” (Psalm 54:1-3)

Twice during this period, David had opportunity to kill Saul and refused both times because he had been chosen to lead by God.  David’s own men were encouraging him to kill Saul, but David insisted on waiting and allowing God to work it out the way he wanted it. 

“Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.  He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth.” (Psalm 54:4-5)

Thanks to the Ziphite’s information, Saul almost captured David, but God caused the Philistines to invade Israel, and Saul was forced to fight them, giving David the opportunity to escape.  Both times David refused to kill Saul, Saul was convicted of his sin and temporarily withdrew, but both times he forgot what God had done and tried again.  David recognized Saul would continue to try to kill him and asked God to cut him and his followers off to stop them. 

“I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good.  For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.” (Psalm 54:6-7)

David could look back on those events and rejoice at how God had repeatedly delivered him from Saul and his enemies.   As a result, he would sacrifice and praise God’s name for repeatedly delivering him from every problem.

While the Psalm may be about that period, the last two verses imply that it was not written until after Saul was killed, in I Samuel 31.  At the time David became convinced that eventually Saul would capture and execute him, and sought refuge among the Philistines.  He was still living among the Philistines when they killed Saul. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Foolishness Of Denying God

Psalm 53:1-6

To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David.

The word Mahalath means sickness, while Maschil means circumspect.  Thus the description is of a Psalm about being aware of the sickness of certain attitudes, specifically that God doesn’t exist. 

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.: (Psalm 53:1)

Everything in nature clearly indicates a logical creator with a plan for the design.  Romans 1:18-23 tells us, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

Because mankind does not wish to acknowledge God plan or live by his standards they have chosen to deny his existence and authority, substituting other things in his place.  In doing so they have angered God.  Their choice has not changed the facts of his existence and power.  II Peter 3:5-7 tells us, “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”  Their decision will only result in their destruction, because they have deliberately gone against God’s plan.  In their efforts to prove they are too smart to believe in God, they have made themselves fools. 

“God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.  Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Psalm 53:2-3)

Humanity as a whole is convinced of their basic goodness, but God sees the reality, as we see in Romans 3:10-17.  “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.  Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.  They have no respect toward God or his laws. 

“Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread: they have not called upon God.” (Psalm 53:4)

The people who deliberately sin are as foolish as the person who tries to catch a bear cub, ignoring the mother bear’s presence.    She will certainly attack the person in an effort to protect the cub, and those who have harmed God’s people should expect the same response from God.  It is sheer stupidity to think he will not act.    

“There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.” (Psalm 53:5)

As long as the mother bear does not see a person as a threat, she will not attack.  When one deliberately goes after her cub, he has made himself a threat, and she attacks, forcing him to seek safety elsewhere.  She will not stop attacking until the threat is removed, often by death and dismemberment.    God will destroy those who have proven a threat to his people just as completely. 

“Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.” (Psalm 53:6)

Like the captured bear cub, hoping for its mother to rescue it, Israel was waiting for God to come to their rescue.  When he did, there would be a lot of rejoicing.  The statements here indicates that this Psalm was probably written about the time of the Philistine occupation after Saul was killed, in I Samuel 31.  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Contrast Of Those who Trust God and Those Who Don’t

Psalm 52:1-9

“To the chief Musician, Maschil, A Psalm of David, when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Ahimelech.

“Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.  Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.  Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.  Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue.” (Psalm 52:1-4)

Some people think they are powerful enough to ignore God.  They dream up ways of trying to thwart God’s power, and convince people to do what they want because getting their way is more important to them than pleasing God and take pleasure in deceiving and lying to the people.   As an example of what he is describing, we need look no further than modern politicians, many of whom take pride in being able to manipulate and control people by lying to them.  They convince people they are trying to help the while taking actions that will ultimately destroy them.   They have forgotten that God’s laws and standards are for eternity and cannot be broken. 

“God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah.  The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him: Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.” (Psalm 52:5-7)

They have not fooled God, and he will destroy them just as completely as they have destroyed others, taking their land from them causing their deaths, almost like a person digging out a tree by it’s roots to be sure it will not grow again.  The people who do right will see their judgment and fear to copy their example, laughing at their overconfidence and reminding people that this is the end result of depending on one’s wealth and deceitfulness rather than on God. 

“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.  I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.” (Psalm 52:8-9)

The person who places his trust in God will be like an olive tree in a person’s yard, depending on the land owner to see that it has all the water it needs.  As God provides the needed water, the tree’s growth is a reminder of how God has provided and the tree grows, expecting the water to be delivered when needed.  Christians should have a similar attitude, just expecting God to provide.     

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Acknowledging A Sinful State

Psalm 51:1-19

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” (Psalm 51:1-4)

The contents of this Psalm seem to indicate that it was probably written at the time tradition says it was, just after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, then had her husband, Uriah, killed.  David takes full responsibility for his sin, recognizing that he had gone directly against God’s law, not just some human tradition.  He asks forgiveness, but wants there to be no question he had been guilty and he deserved whatever punishment god might choose to administer. 

“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.  Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” (Psalm 51:5-6)

When caught in sin, people often attempt to imply their behavior was an aberration and not something they do on a regular basis.  David admitted that while this was the first time for committing adultery, it was a symptom of a much deeper problem.   God wants complete honesty in our hearts and minds. And for us to allow him to show what is right.  Most of us want to imply we are pretty good people, but as Romans 3:10-12 says, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”   While most people think they are pretty good, the truth is that no one is. 

Unless we are honest about our sinful nature, we cannot be forgiven according to I John 1:8-10.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”  Only when we acknowledge our sinful nature will we truly realize that we cannot do what is right and understand our need for a savior. 

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.  Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:7-10)

Hyssop appears to have been a member of the mint family and contains oils that made it effective for removing stains, killing bacteria and giving a clean fresh smell.  It was often used in ceremonial cleansing.  In effect, David is asking to be thoroughly cleansed, inside and out, with a whole new attitude, not just a stopping of the physical sin.  In the process, he asks that God would completely block out any remembrance of his sin.   It is what God has promised for those who believe in Jesus Christ, according to Hebrews 10:16-17.  “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”   When he does this every conflict between us and God is removed and we are Justified or made right with him.  Romans 5:1-2 describes the results.  “{Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

“Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.  Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.  Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.” (Psalm 51:11-14)

When the sense of guilt is removed, we can experience a close relationship with god, feeling the presence of his spirit and enjoying our Christian life.   We no longer worry about losing our salvation, even when we have gone so far as to kill another person.  Being a Christain becomes an enjoyable thing rather than a burden. 

“O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.  For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51:15-17)

God wants an humble attitude that recognizes the person’s weakness and sinfulness, so that they will depend on him rather than trying to do it themselves.  He has no pleasure in our ritual efforts to please him, offering sacrifices or great accomplishments.  What pleases him is that we yield to him. 

“Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.  Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.” (Psalm 51:18-19)

When people are aware of what another does for them, they tend to show their appreciation, but when they are not conscious of it they begin to be dissatisfied.  David asks that God make them aware of his actions in Jerusalem so that they will be appreciative of what he does.  Unfortunately, it is very easy for people to overlook what God does for them. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Warning Of God’s Judgment

Psalm 50:1-23

A Psalm of Asaph.

“The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.  Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.” (Psalm 50:1-2)

This Psalm is a prophetic warning to Israel.  It appears to have been somewhat later, perhaps in Solomon’s day or one of the later kings, after Israel began to turn away from God.  It reminds them again of God’s warnings about keeping his covenant

“Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.  He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.  Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.  And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.” (Psalm 50:3-6)

God will not ignore their disobedience, but will judge them like a wildfire going through the land.  He will use the both the atmosphere and the soil itself to judge them.  Those who believe in him and all those who have adopted the Jewish faith, making the sacrifices will be called into Judgment for how they have served him.  and God will personally judge them,

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God.  I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me.  I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds.  For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.  I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.  If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.  Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?” (Psalm 50:7-13)

God’s judgment will not be concerned with whether they have kept all the sacrifices.  Everything on earth ultimately belongs to God, and he doesn’t need what they have.  In Acts 17:24-25 Paul explained, ”God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” 

Our offerings to him are to be demonstrations of our love and faith, rather than a tax to support him and keep from experiencing God’s wrath or a bribe to get his favor.  Sacrifices and offerings are not an obligation, nor does he depend on them to accomplish his work.  Hebrews 10:8 tells us “…Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law.”  God is not pleased by the things we give him but by our desire to do something for him. 

“Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” (Psalm 50:14-15)

In I Samuel 15:22-23 Saul had disobeyed God’s command, using the excuse that they wanted to make a sacrifice to the Lord.  “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”  God wants our love, not our attempts to buy him off.  When we thank him for what we have and keep our promises to him, we can expect him to respond when we cry out for his help. 
God said almost the same thing In Jeremiah 7:22-23.  “For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.”  Unfortunately, like the Jews, many people today are focused on doing something great for God rather than simply obeying him.   

“But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?  Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.” (Psalm 50:16-17)

The wicked refuse to quote what God has said so others can know or to follow his instructions.  They ignore his words as unimportant, irrelevant and old fashioned.  They resent being reminded what he has said. 

“When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.  Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.  Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son. ” (Psalm 50:18-20)

The wicked refuse to get involved when they see people doing wrong, not trying to stop a thief, and even helping an adulterer get by with his sin, giving tacit approval.  They use their mouths to lie and deceive people, and to slander others or for verbal abuse, even against those they should love most. 
“These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.  Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.” (Psalm 50:21-22)

Because God does not immediately wipe out those who do evil, people get the idea they have gotton by with sin.  II Peter 3:tells us, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  God gives people an opportunity to repent before he judges them because he cares about them.  Unfortunately some people decide it means he is unable to do anything and despise him, as Romans 2:4 states.  “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?”  They don’t understand or appreciate the fact that the delay gives them a chance to make things right.  Their refusal to make things right further justifies their punishment. 

“Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:23)

A person who praises God shows him honor and respect, and Hebrews 13:15 defines praise as “…the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”  The original meaning of conversation was of one’s lifestyle rather than just his talk as it is now used.  A person who lives his life properly will be shown God’s salvation.  While the good works will not save the person, they guarantee he will be given the opportunity to be saved.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Understanding Of God Is More Important Than Earthly Accomplishment

Psalm 49:1-20

To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.

”Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world: Both low and high, rich and poor, together.” (Psalm 49:1-2)

This Psalm is a warning for all of humanity.  It was intended to be sung for the general congregation. 

“My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.  I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp.  Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?” (Psalm 59:3-5)

The Psalmist has made a choice to think and speak about the things that matter.  He is committed to thinking things through to get a valid understanding. And in order to do so, he will listen to illustrations and compare different types of things in an effort to understand them better.   He has learned that putting things into words or songs helps one to understand them better, and so will use the contemplation and music to help his understanding.  By making such an effort, he can reduce his anxiety when things go differently than expected, and have confidence that not all the problems are the result of his own sin.

“They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:) That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.” (Psalm 49:6-9)

People spend their lives trying to gain wealth and power, but no matter how much they have, they cannot obtain eternal life or save themselves or their closest friend or relative from death and eternal judgment, however much they might wish to. 

“For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.  Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.  Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.  This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah.  Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.  But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah. “ (Psalm 49:10-15)

Every person is forced to recognize that everyone dies, regardless of their  wealth or poverty, or whether they are smart or stupid, and eventually everything they have will belong to someone else.  Human nature likes to think they are immune to this and that even if they die their posterity will continue forever.  In an effort to ensure their name will be carried on they name their lands after themselves.    In spite of their efforts to earn a great reputation and power, they die just like any other animal.   No amount of respect from others will keep one alive, regardless how much they may quote his statements, and once they die, their body decays just like anybody else’s.    The believer has the assurance that one day God will redeem his body from the grave, but the nonbeliever lacks such assurance.

“Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.  Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.  He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.  Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.” (Psalm 49:16-20)

We do not need to be upset when a person gets great power or wealth because it is a temporary situation.  When he dies, he leaves all his wealth and power behind.  Though he may have lived richly and people tend to give respect and admiration to those who appear wealthy, the end result is no different for him than for anyone else.  A person who does not understand what is right and good is no better off than the animals regardless how much respect or power he might have.  His only hope is to be redeemed by God. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

The City of Zion

Psalm 48:1-14

A Song and Psalm for the sons of Korah.

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.” (Psalm 48:1)

David had chosen Jerusalem as his capital, Moving the Ark of the Covenant and the tabernacle there, with the intention of building a temple and dedicating the city to God.  As such God should be praised in Jerusalem far more than anywhere else. 

“Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.  God is known in her palaces for a refuge.” (Psalm 48:2-3)

The Jebusites had originally chosen the site of Jerusalem because it was an ideal place for a city, with a good source of water, plenty of farmland nearby to support the city.  The hills and mountains around it provided material for construction and the terrain would make it relatively easy to defend while giving it a natural beauty.  It would be a pleasure to visitors to come there to worship God, and the records of his miracles would impact every aspect of life there. 

“For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together.  They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away.  Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail.  Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind.  As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah.” (Psalm 48:4-8)

For nearly five hundred years, the Israelites had been unable to conquer Jerusalem.  The surrounding kings were impressed when David took it over and began to build.  They began to see Israel as a potential threat, and the Jews had begun to realize God’s power seeing him defeat the Navies of the Phoenicians, and growing their country. 

“We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.  According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness.  Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments.

Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.  Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following.  For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death. ” (Psalm 48:9-14)

When the Jews looked at Jerusalem and saw the great palaces and the temple Solomon had built, they were forced to consider how much God had blessed them.  They could walk around the city and see the fortifications to ensure their safety, and realize it was God who had made it all possible and that he would be there forever. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Recognizing God

Psalm 47:1-8

To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.

“O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.  For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.  He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet.  He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.” (Psalm 47:1-4)

People flock to see a political figure such as Donald Trump. Hilary Clinton, or Barak Obama, especially during presidential campaigns.   There are huge rallies and every effort to remind people of their accomplishments and emphasize their goals and proposed policies.   These human leaders break their promises as soon as they take office, claim credit for what others have done and blaming their predecessors for their failures to keep their promises, and yet people idolize them. 

David recommends giving God the same kind of adulation people give our presidential candidates.   He has not simply claimed credit for someone else’s work, but actually created the world, and won the battles.   He doesn’t lie about his intentions to get people to vote for him, but has an established history of fulfilling his promises despite the opposition.    Unlike most politicians, he has demonstrated real concern for the common people rather than just the richest and most powerful in society.  As a result, he is far more deserving of our adulation and praise than any politician, religious leader or entertainment star.  Sadly, in many churches and religious programs, more emphasis is placed on the pastor or leader than on the Lord himself. 
“God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.” (Psalm 47:5)

When the president of the United States enters Congress or a large gathering, his entry is announced so everyone can stand and show their respect.  Prior to the development of modern loudspeakers, a trumpet was often used because it could be more readily heard. 

“Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.  For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.” (Psalm 47:6-7)

In Hebrews 13:10-15, we are reminded what Christ has done for us, at God’s direction, to enable us to receive the benefits of being God’s people.  “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.   For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.  Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.  Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.  For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

God is our king, not our political leaders or religious leaders.  It is him that made the plan whereby we could be saved, and it is his Son who made the plan work.  We need to enroll in that plan, even though it is outside what most people seek, and we need to show our appreciation by praising God, which verse 15 says is nothing more than thanking him for what he has done. 

David says the praises are to be sung with understanding, recognizing the specific things he has done for us.  He didn’t simply forget about our sin.  He made an atonement for it, paying our penalty at his expense.   He then justified us, restoring our citizenship in his kingdom, and adopted us as his children and redeeming us from the power of sin.  Until we understand what was involved we really can’t appreciate what he has given for us.
“God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.  The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted.” (Psalm 47:8-9)

God is king over all the earth, not just the United States, and unlike our president, he has real power over terrorists groups like ISIS or Hamas.    He can control the leaders of Iran or North Korea and protect us from criminal illegal immigrants.  We need to turn to him and show him as much respect and admiration as we show for our presidential candidates.   

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Picture of Christ and His Church

Psalm 45:1-17

To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil, A Song of loves.

“My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” (Psalm 45:1)

The word inditing means to put something into writing, whether in prose or verse, to compose.   The author is expressing his thoughts relating to the king as something he admires.  Though he uses David’s reign as his example the passage describes the Messiah as king. 

“Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.  Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.  And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.  Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.” (Psalm 45:2-5)

Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.  Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.  All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.  Kings' daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.” (Psalm 45:2-9)

Jesus Christ is the king who will rule the earth, blessed of God forever.  Hebrews 1:8-9 makes it clear that is who the passage refers to.  “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.  Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”   He is the mighty one who will wipe out Satan’s power and establish his kingdom in righteousness, ruling with a rod of iron.  Revelation 21:26-27 describes the level of righteousness.  “And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.  And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.”  

 Isaiah 11:1-5 gives a partial description of what his kingdom will be like.    “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.  And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.”

The church is described as the bride of Christ several times in the New Testament.  Here she is portrayed as the queen dressed in gold standing alongside him in the place of honor at his right hand. 

“Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.  And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall entreat thy favour.” (Psalm 45:10-12)

The church is God’s daughter, and needs to listen to him.  She needs to forget her own country and family traditions and focus on Christ.  When she does the proper relationship with the Lord will develop, with a free expression of love by both sides.  Even those who have opposed Christainity will turn to them as result.  Proverbs 16:7 tells us, “When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

“The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.  She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.  With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king's palace.” (Psalm 45:13-15)

When the queen became the king’s bride, she was arrayed in a special garment, her wedding dress, and accompanied by her maids of honor.  Revelation 21:2-4 paints that same picture of those who believe in Christ, whether Jews or Gentiles.   “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”  It will be a time of great rejoicing. 

“Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.  I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.” (Psalm 45:16-17)

Instead of focusing on our past, our ancestors, or our mistakes, the focus will be on the future, for eternity.  The regrets will all be removed.