In part one of our meditation on Psalm 15 we concluded by asking the question, ” Why does God’s heart grieve so greatly when His children do harm to one another?”
Part two simply states: The answer to this question is probably related to the truth that people are made in the image and likeness of God; they have incalculable dignity and worth. Because they are ‘God-like,’ to harm them with our words and deeds is in a sense to harm or offend God. Any parent knows that when their child has been slandered or cheated, they themselves feel slandered and cheated.
The Apostle John goes so far to say that “…anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, who he has not seen” (I Jn. 4:20b). This is why Christ said, “If you do it to the least of these, you do it to me,” and why Mother Teresa of Calcutta was utterly convinced that her ministry to the poorest of the poor was really a ministry to Christ Himself.
Here’s how all this relates to Psalm 15— If someone harms their brother or sister in word or deed, they offend the entire Trinity– “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” In doing so, they alienate themselves from God’s presence and will need confession and repentance of their sins in order to acquire forgiveness and re-enter that presence. David was familiar with these truths, and that’s why, in the aftermath of his adultery and committing murder, he said to God, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Ps. 51:4).
Finally, I can now understand how many Christians, including myself, can be intimidated by Psalm 15. I can imagine a brother in Christ telling me, “Jonathan, I came from a very messed-up family. I’m not making excuses but I have a lot of unresolved anger because of what my parents said and did to me. Because of this, in the heat of the moment, I’ve said hurtful things to my wife that I can’t take back. I feel terrible about how I’ve hurt her and wonder if I’m forever separated from God’s presence. I certainly feel separated from hers.”
I would respond, “No, you’re not forever separated from the presence of God. The Psalms say, ‘His mercies endure forever.’ There’s a common teaching among practicing Catholics that God’s mercy is his greatest attribute and simply overwhelms all his other attributes (e.g., justice) just like the Pacific Ocean overwhelms a sea bass. I John 1:9 says, ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ “ It’s good that you feel sorry about what you said, but let this sorrow lead to repentance and a real reconciliation with your wife. Please, dear one, make amends and always remember, His mercies are tender, unfathomable and inexhaustible. Put your trust in His unfailing love.”
David concludes the Psalm by saying that the person “who does these things will never be shaken.” The true Israelite will be at peace. This kind of believer will sleep well at night and can look himself in the mirror. He has evidenced his love for God by loving his brother. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment” (I Jn. 4:18). If we’re living right with God and our neighbor–i.e loving them, then what do we have to fear? The true Israelite has an inheritance in the kingdom of God that “is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).
6 I hate those who worship worthless idols.
I trust in the Lord.
7 I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
for you have seen my troubles,
and you care about the anguish of my soul.
8 You have not handed me over to my enemies
but have set me in a safe place.
Psalm 31:6-8, NLT
God’s promises are like watching a sunrise. It is beautiful, and they somehow work inside of us. Wise and patient eyes realize they are seeing something amazing, and it’s good. These three verses overlay each other. When I was a boy, I was fascinated by books that had transparent plastic pages. These pages would fold over on each other. I remember seeing the human body. You see the bones, but if you flip one of these pages– you could see the circulatory system imposed over the bones, and you can add the nervous system and see that as well. Pretty heady stuff for an eight year old boy. This was old school anatomy.
David wrote these verses, and they belong together. ”I hate those who worship worthless idols. I trust in the Lord.” This verse deals with the subject of discernment. The ability to distinguish between certain things, is not always seen as a positive. I cannot remove the stigma of this word– “hate.” In the NT we’re anchored to this idea of love. But in Ps. 139:22,
“Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
for your enemies are my enemies.”
Hatred is a dangerous emotion. It’s has a handle, just like a suitcase. It can be controlled by the Holy Spirit, or manipulated by Satan. As believers, we should be aware of this possibility. Hatred has a place. Romans 12:9 is a ready verse, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” We must walk a tightrope here; it will require wisdom and awareness. But I’m also very confident in the Holy Spirit’s ability to assist you in this matter.
The next verse carries with it an intense blessing. It is also a verse that folds into “our picture book.”
“I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
for you have seen my troubles,
and you care about the anguish of my soul.”
Being truly glad is the waiting room for believers. It is an active state of a humbled heart. David is thrilled. He is quite aware of having God’s focus– he knows that he is incredibly loved. God has taken on the trials and burdens of David. David’s personal anguishes are taken up by the Lord.
“You have not handed me over to my enemies
but have set me in a safe place.”
David truly believes this. He thinks that this is a truly blessed state to be in. The deep realities of “what could have been” are factored into this awareness. God could have easily sent David to his doom. David is aware of what might have been.
These three verses, (vv. 6-8) snuggle together, like those “Russian nestling dolls.” One inside of the other, inside another. Or like our original metaphor– multiple transparencies coming together to give us a clear view of David’s real truth.
For the choir director: A song of the descendants of Korah, to be sung by soprano voices.[a]
1″ God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.
3 Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!” Interlude
“Ever-present!” That is how another version words verse 1. I will not to have to hammer very long to get to the real point. It is as if these three verses were beautiful gems just waiting on the ground. “Oh, look here! There is a diamond, and I saw a big ruby lying just over there!” The special promises of the Bible are just like that. I guess its just what holds our gaze.
The sons of Korah have compiled these verses for us to hold dear, close to our breasts. Korah was a family– a clan in the Jewish community. I’d like to believe that the composition of this Psalm knit them together in a profound way. (Their “family reunions” were not drunken brawls, where the police must be called in.) Rather they connected around the Word they had composed. Could it be that you are a son or daughter of Korah? I think that could be arranged. It would be a blessing.
These verses speak about the “secure security” we have in God. You’re the 98 pound weakling, with scoliosis– you wander the beach and very big bullies line up just to kick some sand in your face. And you really are sick of it. God has guaranteed our security. He now stands between us and them! And is always there, and ready to intervene.
The verses that follow all deal with calamities and natural disasters. In Mexico, I lived on the side of a volcano. I now live in Alaska with various earthquakes and tsunamis. I have been through hurricanes, tornados and floods. (I even went without coffee for three days.) But for God’s precious people, there will be triumph, even though there be at times considerable loss. We are not immune to bad things– we are just comforted and sustained in these terrible moments. We get comforted, when others can find none.
“Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.”
Psalm 51:8, KJV
“Make me hear sounds of joy and gladness;
let the bones you crushed be happy again.”
Psalm 51:8, NCV
When I was five years old, I made a grand effort to fly. Jumping off the top bunk, I went one direction– down! Landing on my arm, it really hurt. Going to the E.R. they did a x-ray, and they couldn’t find anything wrong. The doctor told us that it was just bruised.
After a miserable three days, with my mom “exercising” my arm like the doctor suggested, it got worse. Back to the E.R. and after another x-ray, the doctor returned to tell us that the arm was indeed broken. Evidently it wasn’t spotted until then. I got a plaster cast, and a sling.
King David spoke about broken bones. For him, they were not physical. It was much worse. It was spiritual. He essentially collapsed with the torturous Bathsheba decision. The bones were snapped, and it left him in considerable pain. The whole affair came within inches of completely destroying him.
The chastening hand of God often settles on us. Rarely is the pain physical, it is worse. We seldom cope with this kind of discipline.
“We do not enjoy being disciplined. It is painful at the time, but later, after we have learned from it, we have peace, because we start living in the right way.”
Hebrews 12:11, NCV
Pretty much the entirety of Hebrews 12 will press us into a deeper understanding of truth. I encourage you to read it. Perhaps though, the most important thing is to realize that His love is always behind His discipline. Yes, He breaks bones. But He also mends those bones that have been broken.
“We may feel God’s hand as a Father upon us when He strikes us as well as when He strokes us. We often learn more of God under the rod that strikes us than under the staff that comforts us.”
For the choir director: A psalm of David.
1 Only fools say in their hearts,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
not one of them does good!
2 The Lord looks down from heaven
on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
if anyone seeks God.
3 But no, all have turned away;
all have become corrupt.
No one does good,
not a single one!
Psalm 14:1-3, NLT
I remember it clearly. I was a student at Alaska Bible Institute, and got enmeshed in one of those “bull sessions” that periodically arise when there is far too much time, pizza and root beer.
The conversation rolled and we got on the subject of the depravity of man. Essentially, it is the doctrine that states that we are at best, evil and fallen into a sinful state. We are living in darkness and iniquity without hope. Only Jesus’ death and resurrection can save us and deliver us.
V. 1, “Only fools say in their hearts,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
not one of them does good!”
David is speaking directly to people who claim they are “atheists.” Within this belief system, there is an aggressive disbelief in any faith in an unseen God. There are also “agnostics” who are not sure that God can be known or understood.
This psalm states that all who state their unbelief are “fools.” There’s no ‘soft’ take here. A verse this bold gives us no real room for any compromise. Deep down we want to be pleasant, and make allowances– but that simply isn’t possible.
“The atheist can’t find God for the same reason that a thief can’t find a police officer.”
In Mathematics there is something called “the lowest common denominator.” What it is is the smallest positive integer that is a multiple of the denominators. According to David, the atheist is a complete fool at his core level.
There is a moral and spiritual decay that results in this foolishness. They are “corrupt,” and “evil,” and no good.
V. 2, “The Lord looks down from heaven
on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
if anyone seeks God.”
I believe that we are in a constant state of evaluation. The entire 7 billion humans alive today go under the microscope. This close examination is not intrusive or invasive. God simply knows. He is completely aware of His created beings.
The Lord is seeking wisdom in the hearts of people. Wisdom, in my thinking is completely underrated. We think something else will substitute. I see wisdom as a mix of discernment, and comprehension, with a smattering of foresight and balance.
But– there is no one! This is where the doctrine of the depravity of man makes its entrance.
V. 3, “ But no, all have turned away;
all have become corrupt.
No one does good,
not a single one!”
The verdict isn’t good. We are slaves to sin, serving Satan with wild abandon. Most likely, we are not conscious of this arrangement. And even if we were it would change us very little. Sin is what we want, but it is certainly not what we need.
The good news is that He loves us. Jesus Christ lived, died and was raised from the dead. The Old Testament ingrained the deep sense of what is holy. But it also instilled an awareness of the sacrificial. Lambs died for the sins of people. And Jesus “the Lamb of God” substituted Himself in our place.
- I Must Have Mercy! Psalms 6 (psalmslife.com)
- How Dark Could it Possibly Get? Psalm 88 (psalmslife.com)
- O Lord, The Battle is Far Too Fierce: Psalm 70 (psalmslife.com)
- King David Discusses the State of Mankind in His Psalms (myviewandopinion.wordpress.com)
17 Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 They bruised his feet with fetters
and placed his neck in an iron collar.
19 Until the time came to fulfill his dreams,[a]
the Lord tested Joseph’s character.
20 Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free;
the ruler of the nation opened his prison door.
21 Joseph was put in charge of all the king’s household;
he became ruler over all the king’s possessions.
22 He could instruct the king’s aides as he pleased
and teach the king’s advisers.
- 105:19 Hebrew ‘his word.’
Psalm 105:17-22, NLT
I would love to have lunch with Joseph. Of all the men and women in the Bible, Joseph would be at the very top of my list. Whenever somebody handles the Word, and mentions his name, my ears perk up and I listen closely.
Psalm 105 is more or less, vignettes from Israel’s rich history. These sketches provide a sense of faith, as it encounters obstacles– and as it follows God. This past history is meant to encourage those in the present, and to be prepared for the future.
When I first became a believer, some kind soul gave me a worn copy of “Foxes Book of Marytrs.” I devoured it. A sense of rootedness began to slowly build as I discovered the rich history of those who would give their lives for the Faith. Psalm 105 does much the same thing.
Vv. 17-18, ”Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 They bruised his feet with fetters
and placed his neck in an iron collar.”
Joseph was being prepared. He would be inserted behind enemy lines. He would become “the tip of the spear.” No doubt though, slavery was a really lousy place to start. He could look down and see the iron shackles. He could reach up, and around his neck, he could feel the collar of a slave.
These are no small things. But perhaps the biggest and most painful was being caught ‘off-guard’ by his brothers, and sold to the slavers. If this were to happen to me– I would become bitter, angry and venomously hateful. I would’ve concocted scenarios where I would wreak revenge (revenge, oops, sorry that slipped out–I meant justice).
V.v 19-20, “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams,
the Lord tested Joseph’s character.
20 Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free;
the ruler of the nation opened his prison door.”
I believe godly dreams are always linked to a noble character. When God instills something within you, it will come in “seed form.” It will be embryonic. It will need to grow and wait for the precise moment. We can be postured, placed in a forward area until the second is right.
Our impressions of what our dream looks like will almost never be what we thought. But, it will be better. Testing will work you over. You will feel like you just went 12 rounds with Mike Tyson. But you will learn things. God is doing something.
Joseph erupts from his cell. Everything is turned around in a moment. Joseph has been released by Pharaoh himself. The chains and collar are an afterthought (or are they?) He is raised to a prominence never seen before.
The dreams he had as a boy become real. And there is nothing quite like a dream come true!
My life is full of troubles, and I am nearly dead. They think I am on the way to my grave. I am like a man with no strength.”
Ps. 88:3-4, NCV
A Study of Psalm 88
As I read Psalm 88, I suddenly realized the dark depths it took. It is bleak and grim. I believe it to be the only psalm there is without a reference to praise. Not a single “hallelujah” graces this portion of scripture. It is the “black hole” of the Psalms.
But why? And why has God chosen to leave it where just anybody can read it? This psalm is a masterpiece, but it has been exclusively painted with hues of black. A word chosen by it’s author is the word, “darkness.” Is it appropriate? Time after time, I’ve read this, looking for just a glimmer of light.
“Heman the Ezrahite, the apparent composer, was seriously depressed. Maybe he was also chronically ill. Or maybe, like many, he battled almost constantly against a relentless darkness. We honestly don’t know.
But he said he had been this way since his youth (v. 15). He felt abandoned by God (v. 14), his beloved (v. 18), and companions (v. 8). He was desperate and his prayers seemed to be going unanswered (vv. 13-14). He was so overwhelmed that he felt close to death (vv. 3, 15).”
So! Why has God decided to include this in the canon of scripture? Obviously, writing psalms was probably a fashionable and a religious exercise, and we can safely conclude that hundreds of Psalms never made it into this book we call the Bible. Undoubtedly, most of these ‘rejects’ were sincere, and heart-felt. The deep instinct of a spiritual man or woman is to reflect and share their pilgrimage.
Saturated with despair, and then glazed with desperation, we must extend the human condition and just accept that things are not always what they should be. We must conclude that this darkness is within our capability and experience. It could happen to you, or anyone! You are vulnerable. We all could slide into the dark.
The darkest psalm is really a ‘nightlight.’ It exists to give us hope. There is a broad range of conditions the human heart will encounter. Psalm 88 is within the realm of possibility for those who are of the Faith. We probably will need to expand our ideas of what is possible, and not what is accepted. Those of us who know deep down the “blackness of darkness” have just started to savor the light.
“…even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you”
Childlike Trust in the Lord
A song for going up to worship at Jerusalem. A psalm of David.
1 Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I don’t concern myself with matters too great
or too awesome for me to grasp.
2 Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, put your hope in the Lord—
now and always.
Psalm 131, NLT
The Christian, the struggler, and the mentally ill should become avid and fanatical readers of the Psalms. Some of us will need to take meds, that is true. But the Psalms are pretty much required as well. We diligently need to take a physical dose of our daily medication. For believers, Psalm 131 is a spiritual dose that is just as mandatory, and just as necessary.
This particular Psalm is unique, and deeply insightful. It begins its work in us right at the start; the superscription. “A song for going up to worship,” and it strikes me that a work must happen inside of my heart. It is a preparation that will take me higher, and help me see God more clearly. I need to worship. That is viewed by some as an option. We know it is critical. We must worship.
Verse 1 states the certain issue we have; it is called ‘pride.’ What David says seems to be a very arrogant and audacious thing to say. There is a truism that you think you’re humble, you’re not.
A church once gave an elder a medal for humility. But they had to take it away, because he wore it everywhere. To claim you are suddenly liberated from pride, knowing ears perk up. It is almost always a sign of danger. Perhaps it might happen, but don’t hold your breath.
Take it at face value, King David states that he has a real contentment with limitations and weakness. It appears that he has been freed from the vicious cycle of needing to be the center of everything, ‘in the mix,’ and a quite a very significant person. But he admits his ignorance, and something quite significant works its way into us through this psalm.
There exists a definite place where we must renounce “ambition.” Are you content to be the simple servant now, and delay the accolades and praise until you get to heaven?
Some make themselves, literally sick by the deep dark quest to be important. In verse 2, we connect with some astonishing imagery. A baby! I am like a little baby being held by my mom. It’s not an issue of sophistication, but simplicity. Of having limits, but never any applause. How can this be?!
The word in Hebrew, isn’t “baby,” (as in newborn) but baby, but more like a small toddler. A “weaned” child more is a better translation. A weaned child no longer needs his mom’s milk. You can guess that it makes the child more content. He doesn’t fuss, or nuzzle his mothers breast, demanding his food. The child no longer receives his nourishment this way. There is a contentment, a simple desire just to be with mom, just because he wants to. This is a significant step into maturity.
To me, verse 2 is the centerpiece of Psalm 131. OK, let’s apply this spiritually. There was a time when it was necessary for me to have my mother’s milk. I screamed and would throw a terrible tantrum if she didn’t feed me from her breast. I would starve if she didn’t give me her milk. For all practical purposes, it seems we use God to get what we need. But we grow, and move into this new maturity.
David is saying that we need to emulate his example. Now we come into God’s presence– just to be with Him. That’s all. So simple. As a child, we just want to be where He is at. We have no ulterior motives, there is no manipulation. We seek His face, and not what is in His hands.
If we connect the dots, we find that we land right back to the opening superscription. This is an amazing concept of worship– the real kind. As a struggler, a rascal and mentally disabled, I must start at the beginning– again and again and again. I have to worship. And I can only do this until I become a little boy again. I finally realize I must throw ambition and pride overboard. And at this point, I must rest in Him.
- Mother-Led Weaning | How and Why I Gently Weaned My Son (thejoyofthis.com)
- Sermon Introductions: A Weaned Child (Spurgeon) (memoirandremains.wordpress.com)
- Mothers: Mother-Love Models Grace (colourmeballoon.wordpress.com)
- Psalm 131: With Childlike Trust (urcpsalmody.wordpress.com)
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
2 I long, yes, I faint with longing
to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,
I will shout joyfully to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!
4 What joy for those who can live in your house,
always singing your praises.
There are some things that leave an indelible mark inside, deep on our souls. For me, one instance I remember staying at Simpson College on Silver Ave. in San Francisco in June, 1986. The dorms were empty and I had a whole floor to myself. The campus was gorgeous. I found a little “mom and pop” corner market nearby which had a awesome deli. Here I could buy cold cuts, cheese, braunschweiger and fresh sourdough bread. I returned to my room to build my sandwich. I remember the windows were open and a beautiful breeze was there. Good food, warm sun, flowers in bloom and the Holy Spirit are about ready to intersect in my life.
It was simply a moment I captured and savored. Everything seemed to coincide, it was magical in the best sense of the word. It was beautiful, that is all I can say. That time in that dorm room has become a crystalline moment that I will never forget. Right there, it seemed I fell in love, not with a girl, but with a moment in time and place.
That nostalgia is thick on the shoulders of the writer of Psalm 84. He remembers and savors the memories of his visit to the temple. He was given something in that particular moment that would haunt him for the rest of his life. In his thinking, the beauty of the temple could never ever be the same again. The beauty of that experience was inviolable and true and could never be duplicated. But it was his, and he would never forget.
God gives us moments, wrapped in wonder and awe. His presence is very likely the ‘tipping point’ in these. When He is present, a connecting link is made and we receive grace. We will longingly look back on these moments when grace was so close. The psalmist has the same hunger. These moments in the temple which so blessed have also in a way, ruined him. Special times of God’s presence have resulted in a sanctified dissatisfaction with the present.
When we finally make our way to Jesus, life takes on a curious wonder. When the rain finally comes to the barren desert, an explosion of life bursts out. In the exact same way, our lives get very green and lush. This is in contrast to our dry and desperate life without His presence.
I am hungry for His presence. I want to be in the center of wherever He is at. I admit that His grace and love has spoiled me. But the love of Jesus does this. Normal life seems to be in ‘black & white,’ He turns it into a vibrant color. The psalmist begs to be returned to the temple. He wants to be there, with you, more then anything.
A Prayer for Mercy in Troubled Times
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Upon the sheminith. A psalm of David.
1 Lord, don’t correct me when you are angry;
don’t punish me when you are very angry.
2 Lord, have mercy on me because I am weak.
Heal me, Lord, because my bones ache.
3 I am very upset.
Lord, how long will it be?
4 Lord, return and save me;
save me because of your kindness.
5 Dead people don’t remember you;
those in the grave don’t praise you.
6 I am tired of crying to you.
Every night my bed is wet with tears;
my bed is soaked from my crying.
7 My eyes are weak from so much crying;
they are weak from crying about my enemies.
8 Get away from me, all you who do evil,
because the Lord has heard my crying.
9 The Lord has heard my cry for help;
the Lord will answer my prayer.
10 All my enemies will be ashamed and troubled.
They will turn and suddenly leave in shame.
This is the first seven “penitential” psalms written by David. Residing within each psalm the themes of regret, and contriteness, brokenness and self reproach. However, you could say these emotions are the engines that push David’s faith, especially at this particular moment.
Many of us understand these, at least to some degree. These psalms are especially prized by those of us in ‘liturgical services’, with some of these seven read aloud every Sunday. The first few verses of this work contain words like “correction” and “anger.” (The NCV also uses the word “punish.”)
In Hebrews 12, we see that God definitely intervenes into the lives of His own. He corrects, working to adjust us according to His will. The basis of this is relationship between a Father, and a son or daughter. There is harsh correction at times, as we learn how to behave. If He loves you, and you are His son, you will be corrected. Love and discipline are working together, side by side.
V. 1, Correction and punishment have become very significant issues to David. They begin to engage him and he is aware that things can get quite turbulent. Anger on any level can warrant our attention. But when God gets angry, it can be lethal.
V. 2, 3 mercy is a very precious commodity at this moment. And it is all that he wants. Mercy is never deserved, it can’t be earned, it just is given. It is clemency and generosity blended together. David knows this about God, and he “plays the mercy card.” David knows God, he just doesn’t always obey Him.
“How long will it be?” shows a desire to get things on track, and soon. Waiting for God to decide can be traumatic. Separation from Him is profoundly painful.
“The golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters is not intellect, but obedience.”
V. 4, 5 these verses fit together like puzzle pieces. David, when faced with his own depraved actions, turns and calls out for deliverance from the consequences. The key word in v. 4 is “kindness.” And this is exactly what he is aiming for.
The obvious meaning is that death and the grave end all possibility of change. The word is “Sheol.” A Hebrew word describing the grave, where the unsaved are placed when they die. Once there, you are “locked in” with no possibility of changing. Ultimately, it is the complete divorce from God’s presence and that without remedy.
V. 6, 7 Crying. Crying. Crying, Crying. It appears that remorse and grief are now the whole of David’s theology. And David is fatigued by it. Grief is exhausting. It is so intense and consuming, it wears you out. Jesus in the NT had much to say about grieving our sin. About brokenness, and mourning. He made it the starting point of a real Christian life.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
V.8 is a needful stop in a believer’s life. We must pull into this place. It is here that separation takes place. I leave the world by deliberate choice. I have no intentions of following sinners in their rebellion. “I see dead people” was a line from the movie, “The Sixth Sense. Sadly, it works well here.
V. 9, 10 we see the use in verse 9, of the past tense. And I must say that this is a relief. Mercy has been shown, but only when it is appealed to. There is a deep confidence that is quite opposite of some earlier verses.
David shines a spotlight on the strategies of evil people who have afflicted him. He enjoys the idea of evil being stripped and defeated. Today, I think it is completely appropriate to include your spiritual enemies in this equation, and throughout the psalms when this is mentioned.
The conclusion of Psalm 92, NLT.
12 But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.
13 For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God.
14 Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.
15 They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!”
What an ending. I do confess, I do like watching good movies– and the final scenes can make, or break a good movie. Is it believable, does it flow into the plot, does it carry us beyond the moment?
The very way this Psalm ends intrigues me. The perfect summary for this is found in verses 1-11, which we have already covered. Verses 12-15 is our ending point. We arrive here if we will just follow the conditions of the first 11 verses.
V. 12, “But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.”
What audacity, what boldness! We must recognize that there is a certain place for these ‘flourishers.’ They just explode with a core central growth. We see them, but we are not intimidated. Instead they push us to a higher love.
The strength of us is that we can grow strong all the way through. That is just the way it works, and we take anything that we can get. Envision for a moment, the tallest cedars. I remember seeing for the first time the California Redwoods. It was astonishing, and I got a crook in my neck looking up all the time.
V. 13, “For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God.”
No matter where we are, the Father will bring us closer to Himself. We may think we are “out-of-the-loop”. But He sees it all. He does “transplant,” but only within our true calling. And a “flourishing” is part of the package.
How do we process this? We are brought out of a senseless and desperate life, directly into a full life of intimacy with the Lord Jesus. In this place, we start to grow branches, and new buds. Life is not just a great idea–but it starts to flow through our very being.
V. 14, “ Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.”
Old age seems close to us. We age, and we determine that it works out to us in obsolescence and defeat. When we hit 60, we determine it is all over, and finished. God promises that as believers we will be green, and fresh–even in this crazy margin of age. But as it works out, we are incredibly “vital.”
I suppose that the truth of this can transform the way we see ourselves, and the way we live out our lives, Old-agedness can never be an excuse to backing out of a true and real spirituality.
V. 15, “ They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!”
Much of what I have shared with you is solid, but simple. We all end up at this verse though. From here we start to focus directly on all that is plain and level. After all, He is the rock and as we start to focus on this, we are ‘pulled’ into His presence.
We can see no evil in this, and yes it may seem we are in a kind of “pinball machine.” We are bound to voices that try to direct us into its version of deceit. We could be pulled even into “denial” of our faith. But never, or ever is there the slightest sense of evil that comes to us from God.
- Thrill Me, God: Psalm 92 (psalmslife.com)
- Why God’s way takes longer (christianpf.com)
- Is Your Worship Worthy? Psalm 92 (psalmslife.com)
- Psalms 91-95 (mybiblereadingplan.wordpress.com)
- Like Anointed Oxen: Psalm 92 (psalmslife.com)
- Flourishing by Association (bcong.wordpress.com)
- Daily Verse: Psalm 25:4-5 (faithfulprovisions.com)
- Psalm 134: Two-Way Blessings (urcpsalmody.wordpress.com)
Psalm 92:8-11, New Living Translation
8 But you, O Lord, will be exalted forever.
9 Your enemies, Lord, will surely perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
10 But you have made me as strong as a wild ox.
You have anointed me with the finest oil.
11 My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the defeat of my wicked opponents.
Strengthening and weakening. The world, as we know it is being shuffled and sorted. The very things that we think are wonderful, and praiseworthy, mean nothing at all to God. Enemies fall down, and can’t get up. Ultimately they’re defeated by their own wickedness.
The psalmist has dedicated this entire psalm to be read every Sabbath day. (Remember this fact, as it helps us understand what we are reading.) There were two services–morning and evening. I believe this would of been read publicly at both. The Sabbath accomplished three things– a public gathering of the faithful, an opportunity to pray, and a chance to worship Jehovah.
V. 8, “But you, O Lord, will be exalted forever.”
This is not a self-confidence– it is a confidence in God. There is a humongous difference. As believers, we are to function from this awareness of God’s majesty and glory. They say that if you want to go places, just hook yourself to a ‘shooting star.’ And then you can go anywhere. In grace He pulls us to travel with Him.
Exalted forever! It buries in our hearts a profound sense of worship and hope, which endures without any end at all. It just keeps going, and going, with neverending joy. Our faith is not equipped with a ‘pause button’ so we can take a break, and get away from it all.
V. 9, “Your enemies, Lord, will surely perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.”
Cemented into place is a real awareness of what happens to the active ‘haters of God.’ It’s interesting that no names are mentioned; after all that isn’t the writer’s place. But that doesn’t nullify any awareness of how things are working out. Evildoers will certainly end up in a very bad place.
V. 10, “But you have made me as strong as a wild ox.
You have anointed me with the finest oil.”
Comparisons are made. On one hand we observe the wicked perishing–and on the other is the enriched place of verse 10.
Strong as an ox! Able to carry much, and plow as well. A strong ox was a great thing to have, and it’s likely a good ox would double the value of the farm. In a way, the modern equivalent would be a brand new tractor.
Anointed with the finest! Very few people would merit this ‘beauty treatment of the soul.’ Anointing sealed a person, and set them apart for life. In a weird way it was like inferring a title– baron, a duke, a lady or a knight. But it also was like a rabbit’s foot (that actually worked). But anointing wasn’t magic. It was divine favor. (Which is much better!)
“The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.”
V. 11, “My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the defeat of my wicked opponents.”
Obliquely I would say v. 1o, makes v. 11 possible. Did you see the shift? It’s now “my enemies” and “my wicked opponents.” That subtle change between your enemies and my enemies has powerful implications.
This shift is also seen in “my ears” and “my eyes.” It seems in a sense the lines are being blurred a little; the boundaries are not as distinct. I can only conclude that the anointing that preceded this changed everything. Perhaps, maybe, the baptism of the Holy Spirit changes a person forever?