A Voice in the
Chapters - Topics:
Re: Blessed vs Perish (Psalm 1)
"Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor has stood in the way of sinners, nor has sat in the seat of the scornful." (vs1)
As we begin this new series in Psalms, we find some basic concepts of Godliness, all wrapped up in this one psalm. If all we had of God's Word was this one little psalm, comprised of six verses, we would have 'everything' necessary to be found pleasing to God, to win Heaven's rewards, and avoid judgment.
First of all, please notice the dichotomy, as expressed by the title. God's 'blessings' for something, vs God's 'judgment'. This one aspect, alone, turns most people off. But it is the basis under which man either gains Eternity in God's presence, or everlasting abhorrence. (Dan12:2) People, not desiring to live according to God's absolute holy standards, but also not wishing judgment, instead have deluded themselves into thinking of "gray areas"; trying to mush around somewhere in-between.
Somewhat like the two translations of the Bible in Japanese that existed back in the 50s, when I was a child. As with all languages, there are different ways of saying things. The one translation would form statements like "soo de aru" (soh day a'rue); meaning something like, "this is how IT IS" (period). The newer translation was worded more "politely", and might instead say something approaching, "wouldn't you agree that this is how it is". The word changes were also of a 'softer' -sound- to the ear; it was more 'pleasant' to hear. Just like rebellious Israel was requesting from God's prophets: to "speak pleasant things" (1Ki22:13); and is what is prophesied for when the "time will come" (today) where people, not enduring sound doctrine, desire to "hear pleasant things" (2Tim4:3) Like the serpent asked Eve: Did God (really) ssssay...??? Ohhh, that's not really soooo. Oh, horrors! No! God knows that's not sssssooooo.... (Gen3)
But God does not deal in gray areas. He is black and white. He created light and darkness, day and night. He implores Israel, "I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live;" (De30:19)
And notice how "negative" this psalm is. Blessed is the man who has NOT, NOR, NOR.... Oh, your God is sooo "negative". We prefer to be more "positive" and "uplifting". Such negativism chases people away. We don't believe in "repentance" and "humility", because we are of so much 'worth' to God. I have learned to "forgive myself" for not realizing just how valuable I was to God, and so we spend our time 'worshiping'... feeeeeling good; and we are 'proud' of our little church.
Well, let's start looking at this psalm, and analyze what comprises Godliness, shall we...
Notice first the verb tenses. Most English translations from KJV and forward typically render it in the 'present' tense. Blessed is the one who -DOES- not do these evil things (which we will look at in a moment). But it is actually a 'past perfect' tense. Truly, it is blessed to not be doing evil things 'now'; but it is also blessed to NOT HAVE DONE them in the past, at all. The LITV, MKJV and VW get it right. The ancient Wycliffe (predating the KJV) is close, using a simple 'past' tense.
How many people revel in how Saul was so evil, persecuting the Church, and then got saved, and Paul became a foremost apostle to the gentiles. Back during my youth, when people still would talk about 'repentance' and changed lives, the crowd-makers were the speakers who would come and give there 'testimony', spending lengthy amount of time describing in considerable detail HOW BAD they had been, and then briefly close with how they "got saved"; and then the invitation would be given. Glorying in their past lives of sin; not Jesus Christ and His work on the cross to save us, and His resurrection. (Ga6:14) We notice David and the 'drama' of his affair with Bathsheba, her getting pregnant, and then David having her husband killed in battle... all the stuff of a steamy romance novel or soap opera. But how many take note of Samuel, who as a tiny boy was brought to the tabernacle and began to serve under Eli, and eventually was the prophet who actually 'anointed' David. Other than the fact of Samuel's sons not loving God (of which: each person is accountable to God for himself Rom14:12, De24:16), it is never recorded that Samuel ever did anything displeasing to God. So, who was greater?
Blessed is the man who HAS NOT lived a life of sin. Some will excuse the rebellion of youth, even going so far as to suggest that a young man needs to "sow his wild oats" while he is young, and then he will be -ready- to 'settle down'. Trouble is, if you sow wild oats, that's what you reap. "God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." (Ga6:7)
Notice the progression towards evil. It is one thing to "walk" along and see the evil; one can always 'change' directions and walk away. Walking is not a serious involvement, and conversations while walking tend to be more casual. But when one stops to "stand"; one is focusing their attention upon the evil. One is standing, observing, speculating, considering, evaluating; and begins to desire and lust. But then the invitation is given: Hey, come on over and take a load off; the person sits and partakes in the fellowship of evil.
It's like the seduction of Proverbs' "strange woman". A person may happen to be driving by the working-girl district, seeing the wares on display and hearing the invitations. The Godly one keeps eyes straight forward on the way to the original destination. But the wicked one looks over: Oh, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to have a look. And enough looking is done and, "Gotcha!"
The "simple" one, the one "lacking heart" makes the first move; "passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house" (Pr7:8) If you read in the passage, you will see the seduction, and how he goes in to her. But notice that the whole incident begins when he takes the "way" to her house. He is "walking" in her direction.
How do we keep away from evil? "Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not go in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn from it and pass on." (Pr4:14-15) And the person who comports himself in this way is "blessed".
So, if the blessed person is NOT following after evil, what -IS- he pursuing?
"But his delight is in the Law of Jehovah; and in His Law he meditates day and night" (vs2) "How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word." (Ps119:9)
What is this "Law"? Is it the Bible? That is certainly part of it. But what of all those people who lived before the Bible was written? Those people living, -about- 'whom' the Bible records their lives? Those we read about did not, themselves, have the account about themselves to read. So, how did they know God's Law?
God revealed Himself to them. It is "clearly recognized" through creation. (Rom1:19-20) God wrote His Law in the heart. (Ps37:31) It is there in the seat of the conscience. (Rom2:15) God breathed into man the "breath of life" and he became a "living soul" (Gen2:7) When man was made in God's "image", part of that image is the basic knowledge of God's Law. When a man ravishes another man's wife, they both know it is wrong; otherwise, why would it be when they are caught in the act, that they suddenly become embarrassed and fearful of retribution? When somebody lies, they -know- it is not right. When modern man proclaims the doctrines of evolution, sans God, he -knows- God exists; but he is in deliberate rebellion. How many alleged atheists take God's name in vain. The very fact that they even speak of Him, as though He didn't exist, is proof that He does. If He didn't exist, there would be no talk of Him, because the concept would not even enter the mind; and they wouldn't become so angry when Believers speak of Him. How is anger displayed against a non-existent entity?
e.g. Supposing somebody were to postulate that something like "dirt" does not exist? Well, the very fact that there is even a word such as "dirt", with a presumed definition of it and description of its characteristics, says, by those very parameters, that it does, in fact, exist. Otherwise, on what sort of basis would somebody even dream up the concept of "dirt"?
Why even speak in these terms? It is prophesied that a time is coming when people will seek after God's Word, and will not find it. A "famine...for hearing the Words of Jehovah" (Am8:11) With such a proliferation of the Scriptures as we see today, how could such a thing be? What gets destroyed in Revelation? Babylon. Who rules the world for a brief time until that happens? The one called antichrist. During the dark ages what did Babylon do regionally in Europe? It forbad the reading of the Bible, and confiscated and punished anybody who owned or read one, with perhaps as much militance as communism did in Russia and Asia. When antichrist arises, he will be ruling -globally-. (Rev13:16) Do not be surprised when the same thing happens, only this time, globally...that -all- copies of the Scriptures will be hunted and destroyed.
But we also know that many will be martyred and resurrected to Life from that time. If they don't have Bibles, how will they know how to be saved? In their hearts they will know not to receive the beast's "mark", and in that way they will be following God's (unwritten) Law. There will not be complex doctrine during that time, but salvation will be on the basis of "calling upon the name of Jehovah" to be "saved". (Joel2:32) When somebody is drowning, or trapped in a burning building, what are the philosophical complexities or subtleties of screaming out, "HELP!"? During that time it will be, "God...HELP ME...SAVE ME!" And in calling out allegiance to God in that way, they will also be doing as vs1 says: NOT walking/standing/sitting in the place of antichrist.
It is a matter of choosing sides. As Joshua says to Israel, "..choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve..." (Josh24:15) Remember back to school recess time as children, and choosing up sides for softball, kickball, etc? There were two captains, and everybody ended up on either one side, or the other. There were no "gray areas" where somebody was "between" the two. It was one or the other; either, or. The "blessed" one is one who follows God... no ifs, ands or buts. If a person desires the gray areas, they are NOT on God's side; as Jesus said, "He who is not with Me is against Me..." (Lk11:23) Those who follow the gray areas are of the wicked.
What, then, is the characteristic of one who follows God? He is likened to a tall strong tree, amply watered, bearing bountiful fruit, being fully foliated, and prospering. You can walk up to it any time and pick a juicy mouth-watering apple... or 'whatever' the fruit may be. (vs3)
But what of the wicked? They are like chaff. In ancient times they would beat out the grain, or have animals tread it out; then they would take those crushings and toss them in the air in a stiff wind. The grain would fall to the ground and be collected. The chaff would blow away in the wind. In modern days, chaff is that stuff that comes out the back of the combine, and sifts down through the stubble; and when the rains come, and then it is plowed, there is no more remembrance of the chaff; it cannot be found. Or in some places farmers burn the stubble. (Mt13:40-42) When I plant my garden each year, the corn grows up tall, rather impressive-looking. But when all the ears have been picked, the stalks get chopped down, cut into manageable lengths, and then I go over the piles with the lawn mower to mulch it. When the garden is tilled, there is no more recognition of it. That is the fate of the wicked. Chaff is 'seasonal'. One growing season, and chaff is "phooo"...gone. But the fruitful tree is one that has been around many years, year-in, year-out. It weathers the storms and becomes gnarled and strong; a bastion of beauty and bounty.
Now, if the chaff has been blown away...how can they stand at judgment? They cannot. At the Great White Throne it says that the "...earth and the heavens fled away. And there was found no place for them." (Rev20:11) You who believe, along with Jack Van Impe, that this heaven and earth, full of all its sin and corruption, is going to last "forever and ever and ever"...you are chaff. You will be blown away, "Phooo!"
But "Jehovah knows the way of the righteous..." (vs6) The "Lord knows those who are His" (2Ti2:19) It is a sure foundation. And the righeous have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. (Eph1:13)
One final word about resisting the taunts of the wicked. In their scorn they taunt: You are so intolerant of other views. Well, yes: that is the definition of "not walking in the counsel of the wicked". They have many counselors. What do they advise? You should 'learn' what other people believe; if you 'understood' them, you wouldn't be so critical; after all, everyone has a right to their own opinion. So they invite you to learn their ways.
But do they have any interest in learning of God? No! You see...any such 'dialog' is a one-way street, going -their- 'way'. They never come -your- way. They want you to be tolerant of them; but they are not willing to reciprocate. They never turn to God. And: their -broad- 'way' leads to destruction. (Mt7:13)
Yes, the Godly way -is- a "narrow" (minded) one. (Mt7:14) We are exhorted to NOT walk in their way, nor sit in fellowship with them. They want you to "learn" from them, in order to garner your tolerance of them. But that, too, would be disobedience to God: "...take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them...that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise. You shall not do so unto Jehovah your God; for everything that is an abomination to Jehovah which He has hated, they have done unto their gods..." (De12:30-31)
Why should we show tolerance for that which is an abomination to God? Showing tolerance is the first step. If you continue down that path earnestly enough, you eventually end up "sitting" with them. And remember: "the way of the wicked shall perish" (vs6b)
Re: Nations Rage - Jehovah Laughs (Psalm 2)
"Why do the nations rage, and the peoples devise a vain thing?" (vs1)
What is "rage"? According to the American Heritage Dictionary: Violent, explosive anger. Furious intensity, as of a storm or disease. Burning desire, passion.
Years ago I spent some time working at a radio station in central N.Dakota that had the label "Christian". Around the same time I was also freelancing as a recordist for live musical concerts, demo tapes, LPs. The area where this was going on then had a new public radio station getting started; so I went to speak with them about offering my services to do on-location recording of musical events for them, as NPR specializes in, for re-broadcast at later dates. (NPR is well known for being a bastion of leftist liberalism and anti-God paganism; but I didn't realize it at the time) When the manager in charge heard that I was spending time with the local "Christian" station, she went into quite a -RAGE- at/about that station. She said some incoherent things that made no sense. But I still remember how surprised I was at how she utterly "exploded" into her tyrade. For a more current example of this sort of thing, think about how Ted Kennedy explodes in venemous rhetoric against issues of morality and decency.
What is "vanity"? According to the AHD: Excessive pride, conceit; lack of usefulness, worth or effect; futile. It's kinda like trying to blow the fall leaves -into- a strong wind. They might move where the nozzle is, but the wind billows them around and they end up farther behind where they had been before you started.
What is the world in a rage 'about'? And what is the nature of their futility? They are in a rage against the Almighty, and His Son, Jesus Christ. (vs2) And in their rage, what is their desire? "Let us break and tear away their bonds, and cast away their cords from us." (vs3)
As this is being written, President Bush has recently nominated Alito for Supreme Court Justice. The leftists are all in a snit over it. They pretend to be concerned about things like "qualifications" and such things; but as Gary Bauer's mailing quotes from one of their ranks, Senator Leahy is quoted as saying, "This is not over competence. He [Alito] certainly is competent. This is the whole issue of ideology..." Why? They fear that Alito may actually balance the court back to the direction of pro-life, pro male/female marriage. Issues that tend to be more Scripturally Godly moral and decent.
How many of these leftists are actually church members, here or there? Many, if not most of them. When the united world religions band is playing, they are all right there, jumping on the band wagon. But if it is an issue of the Ten Commandments: Oh, no..."separation of church and state"!! If it is an issue of rescuing the lives of unborn babies: Oh, no... the woman -MUST- have the "right" to "choose" ...to KILL her baby.
The Ten Commandments? They came from the Almighty. The law that predated them, to not commit murder? That, too, was given by the Creator. These laws are too "binding" and narrow-minded and constrictive. They tie us down. We want to be "free" of all authority over us. We want to be our own gods. How -DARE- somebody, claiming to be God, put such restrictions on us!
Note: Does not the One who created, also have the right to make the rules regarding how the created beings should behave? Ahh, but... that's why they preach evolution, too; so they don't have to acknowledge that it was God who created them.
Anything that God has commanded, they militantly rebel against. Anything that is a true symbol of God's authority, they seek to get rid of it. Along these lines, there are some of them who have made noises that laws may need to be enacted to "edit" the Bible to make it conform to the rising standards against "hate speech"...to outlaw the Bible as it presently exists.
Just a side note here, for you who have balked in the past at mentions that the 'cross' is a pagan symbol that a True Believer should not have any part in....notice that these people typically see nothing wrong with buildings with crosses on the steeples, or adorning the insides of their sanctuaries. They are trying to get rid of God, but see nothing wrong with the 'cross' icon. BUT...they go about changing the Bible. Jesus, who is the "Word" of God. Are you yet "getting" it? Is it yet sinking in?
And what is the nature of their futility? In place of God they have devised various religions and philosophies by which they puff themselves up, claiming to be wise. But if we remember from Proverbs ch1, God is the very definition of wisdom; because wisdom -begins- with an acknowledgment of the Almighty. The "fear of Jehovah (God exists) is the beginning of knowledge..." (Pr1:7) Thus, when they attempt to be wise, when they do so without God, their self-presumed wisdom is futility. That upon which they base it is false. If you think you have a foundation, but that premise is false, the building sinks, sags, and eventually crumbles. (Mt7:26-27) It was a waste of time (futility) to build it.
Man in all his pride! Is God worried about it? Does the Almighty sit up there in Heaven, wringing his hands in despair: "Oh, no! They don't like Me! Whatever will I doooo?" ??
"He who sits in the Heavens shall laugh; Jehovah shall have them in derision." (vs4)
We know what "laugh" is. What is "derision"? According to AHD: Contemptuous or jeering laughter; ridicule. To God, rebellious mankind is an object of ridicule; a laughingstock. Hee hee hee, haw haw haw (slapping the knee, holding one's stomach as one is writhing around from laughing so hard), "Those fools!!!" (Ps14:1)
Oh, but... I thought God is a God of "luuuuvvvv"? Well, yes; His love for the sinner sent His Son to take their death-punishment. (Jn3:16) But when mankind rejects, as a common colloquialism goes: Then all bets are off! God is also a "jealous" God when anybody honors anybody or anything other than Himself. (Ex20:5) And He "visits iniquity". He pays rewards; He "renders" to everyone "according to his works". (Rom2:6) To those who receive His Son, it is rewards. To those who scoff at Him, retribution.
Notice God's word to His Son: "You are My Son; today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel." (vs7-9)
You see, the world's 'wisdom' comes from "the devil as [their] father" (Jn8:44) How smart is the devil? Not very! Satan comes to Jesus and makes an "offer" that he hopes Jesus "can't refuse". He offers to Jesus "all the kingdoms of the world" (Mt4:8~) All Jesus has to do is bow to satan and do homage. How silly! Had not the Father -already- promised the same to Jesus; right here in this passage?
What is Jesus going to do to all the rebels? Break them with a rod of iron. Dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. I don't watch it always, but sometimes I watch parts of the David Letterman show (as I also do Leno), to keep abreast of what these people have to say about the goings on in the world at any given time. One can often get a 'pulse' on society, by how its comedians talk about things. One thing Letterman seems to delight in, often, is to drop things from the tall building, down onto the street below, to watch it fall, to watch it 'splat' all over; and sometimes to replay it a few times, sometimes in slow-motion. He has dropped watermelons, ping pong balls, shredded paper, pumpkins, etc. When a watermelon or pumpkin hits the pavement, it goes "splat". Nothing solid is left. It is all 'mush' of bits and pieces.
In keeping with the previous chapter; of Jesus, John preached, "whose winnowing shovel is in His hand, and He will thoroughly cleanse His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the granary; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Mt3:12)
Remember how the chaff is blown away, "Phooo!" Typically the shucks of grain were handled with pitch forks. But once the bulk of the chaff has been blown away, the fork cannot dig down and get everything. Thus, a scoop shovel allows the scraping down, to get every last bit, to toss it up, let the wind blow away the chaff, the grain remains...and the threshing floor is 'cleaned' up in that way. Sorta like dealing with the chestnuts that fall from my neighbor's tree into my yard. The rake is great for the leaves, but the only really efficient way to get all the chestnuts and their husks is with this scoop shovel I have, going along, scraping along. Or, like a mechanic cleans his shop floor: put down the cleaning agent, hose it down, and 'squeegie' it out the door. And the shards left from crashing down a piece of pottery are cleaned/scraped up in similar fashion.
And when Jesus is finished with them... "Phooo!", they're gone.
So... who is it that has the "last laugh"?!
In light of this... what is God's exhortation to the nations?
"And now be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve Jehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him." (vs10-12)
Re: Salvation is from Jehovah (Psalm 3)
"Salvation belongs to Jehovah. Your blessing is on Your people. Selah." (vs8)
There was another who once cried out, "Salvation is from Jehovah". It was a prophet who had gone wayward and finds himself in adversity; and in his adversity he makes promises to God, "...but I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will make good that which I have vowed." (Jonah 2:9) God had commissioned him to go to Nineveh, but he had caught a boat going the opposite way; so now he finds himself inside a big fish, at death's door. Even though he has been disobedient, and is now making promises; nevertheless, he acknowledges that only God can save him.
Psalm 3, according to the heading, is the occasion where David and entourage are fleeing from Absalom, who is attempting a coup for the kingdom. Why were these events unfolding? It was as promised, because of David's sin with Bathsheba, and murdering her husband Uriah. The promise had been: "Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house...Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the eyes of the sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun." (2Sa12:9-12)
Today's so-called "church" seeks to present a "non-threatening" gospel. I've had occasion recently to see the promos for church/s either starting out, branching out to new 'ministries', or explaining their organizational foundational roots of purpose. Their philosophy for existence. Their 'mission' statements. They build 'comfortable' places, dress casually, and present 'positive' messages... all in the name of providing a "non-threatening" environment, and presenting a "non-judgmental" message of "hope" (they say).
Jonah was nearly dead at the bottom of the seas. As the creature was taking in food, the seaweeds were strangling him, and he was passing out. (Jonah2:5-7) Pretty "threatening", wouldn't you say. And yet it was in -that- precise predicament that Jonah comes to his senses, "When my soul fainted within me, I remembered Jehovah..." Jonah was not surrounded by smiling people, laying their hands on him and praying vehemently commanding God this and that, helping him boost his self-esteem, telling him how 'wonderful' he (already) was. He has been disobedient, and the only one who can save him is Jehovah.
David often found himself surrounded by the enemy, beginning with Saul. Now it was his own son: "how my adversaries have increased! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are saying of my soul, There is no deliverance for him in God" (vs1-2)
After he has sinned in numbering the people, he is given three choices of the punishment, and notice his response: "Let us fall now into the hand of Jehovah, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man." (2Sa24:14)
David was a man "after God's own heart" who, even though he sinned on occasion, did God's will. (Ac13:22, 1Sa13:14) In the midst of punishment, he knows that he is in God's hand. He did not "reject the chastening of Jehovah" (Pr3:11) Even though his enemies surrounded him, he knew that God was a "shield" to him. (vs3) And so, even though they left Jerusalem "weeping" (2Sa15:23,30), David could say, "A am not afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around." (vs6)
Solomon was not the only wise man who ever lived... David was his father. In exhorting his "son" to "honor Jehovah", and to acquire wisdom; Solomon assures that "When you lie down, you shall not be in dread; yea, you shall lie down and your sleep shall be sweet" (Pr3:24) Perhaps Solomon learned that from his father, David?
In trusting God, David says: "I lay down and slept. I awoke, for Jehovah sustained me" (vs5)
Re: Excellent Name (Psalm 8)
"O Jehovah our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens!" (vs1)
If this psalm is about God's 'name' being excellent, -what- is that name under consideration? Many translations say "LORD our Lord". But there are "many lords" as the world worships many idols; "many gods" that they call "god". (1Co8:5) Many religions and denominations that use the KJV speak of "god". US currency is stamped with "in god we trust". Oprah claims to believe in "god". When journalists and others quote/translate what Muslims say when they speak of "Allah", the translator relays to us that they just spoke of "god". Many people speak of "lord". The "lord" directed this; or the "lord" did that for me; or I want to please the "lord". When they pray, they often endlessly babble "lord this... lord that... and lord... dear lord... thank you lord" But then, when something fantastic happens to a person (either good or bad), well, the sitcom "Friends" coined the expression with its own unique emphasis, "Ooooh...miiiy...god!!!" Or others will express, "Oh...lordy!" Are these, all, expressions of/to the One mentioned in this psalm?
First of all, the word that many translations render as "LORD" is actually God's "memorial" name. (Ex3:13-15) I AM THAT I AM. The -existing- One. Yahweh/Jehovah. The term "lord" does not carry the same weight or significance. The term "lord" does carry the aspect of the one with that title being higher in rank, elevated, of greater power, a high official, one who is the head under whom others are subservient, etc. And in that the verse says "Jehovah our Lord", the second word legitimately rendered as "Lord" -describes- the One whose name is Jehovah. However, "Lord" is not the Most High's -name-. It might be a title, and is descriptive. But the Most High says, "I am Jehovah; that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to graven images." (Is42:8)
Not picking on KJV (the Wycliffe which preceded it did the same thing); but when a translation merely says "LORD our Lord"... to -whom- is it referring? When it takes the name which is very specific in the Hebrew, the I AM THAT I AM, Jehovah/Yahweh, and reduces it down to "Lord", that detracts from the Almighty! When Babylon also worships saints, queen of heaven and angels (Col2:18), and others worship other entities, it begins to explain how so many different beliefs can pretend to claim the Bible for themselves.
The Jews are not the only ones -not- uttering His -name-!
But this psalm is about the Most High God. (Ge14:18, Is14:14, Da3:26, etc) The expression "most" means that there is no thing or no one higher. And being 'most' exalted, He is the originator of life: "He gives to all life, breath and all things" (Ac17:25) The One who creates and gives life, is, Himself, self-existing. The I AM.
And His glory is "above the heavens". What does that mean? Is that the same as Jack Van Impi's concept that there is the first heaven, our atmosphere; the second heaven, of the planets and stars (so far, so good); but then the third heaven, beyond that: billions, trillions and quadrillions of light years OUT THERE, FAR AWAY?
If the "Word was God" (Jn1:1), and Moses said we don't need to search the heavens or plummet the seas to find it, but that it is "very near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (De30:12-14); then God's glory being "above" the heavens is not that He is FAR AWAY; but rather, that He is above all in power, glory, authority in position and rank.
So, if this is His position: How does He manifest it? How does He prove it? Creation. Because man rejects God, he rejects the notion of "intelligent design" being taught in our schools, and has devised the scientifically and mathematically impossible and unprovable 'theory' of evolution. However, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Ge1:1) Creation proves God's -existence- (Jehovah), and His grandeur and -authority- (Lord).
His glory being "above the heavens" means that He is above all else in the heavenlies. Some are deathly afraid of spirits and demons; and for good reason. So-called "horror" movies usually have demons and such beings at the core of their plots. But one who trusts in the Most High does not need to fear them, because Jehovah is "above" all of them. They can do -nothing- to God's child that He does not allow.
Who are the weakest and most vulnerable? "...babes and sucklings..." (vs2) When Moses was born, the most powerful king on earth had issued the decree that all Israeli male babies were to be thrown into the Nile; but in God's wisdom Moses was raised in all of Egypt's wisdom, right under Pharaoh's nose, by Pharaoh's daughter. When Jesus was a baby, Rome's 'local' ruler mustered his armies to try to do away with him, but God escorted Him away to Egypt. When Jesus came into Jerusalem the religious power-elites complained at the commotion while the common folk were praising: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest! (Mt21:9) And when His enemies, the ones who scarcely a few days later called for His crucifixion, the elites complained, Jesus quoted this very passage (Mt21:16), and also suggested to them that if the common folk were to be still, "..the stones would immediately cry out" (Lk19:40)
In the wilderness, when Israel rebelled against God and were complaining how God was jeopardizing the safety of their children, God consigned the adults to die in the wilderness and promised: "But your little ones, whom you said would be prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have rejected. But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness." (Num14:31-32) They might have been of Abraham's seed, but by their rebellion they were enemies of God, and He "removed" them. (vs2b)
And I suspect there could be countless other similar such examples for that verse; but let's move on...
"When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have established..." (vs3)
As we reside on this earth we think it is pretty big. Certainly, man has developed technology that whisks us around it, either in airplanes or in space vehicles. But if it is just -us- against nature, the way it used to be centuries ago, it used to take 'forever' to get anywhere of much distance. As we look at the sun or moon, we can extend our arm and enclose either one between our fingers, visually. They don't seem all that big. But like we've observed in the past: suppose we circumscribed a circle whose diameter was the height of the average American room in a typical house (8ft), take a US quarter out of your pocket and walk a few blocks away from your house; that 'wall' back at the house is the sun, and the quarter is the earth, by perspective comparison. How big (small) is man on that quarter? And...our sun is one of the 'small' stars in the universe; our solar system is situated at the extremities/fringes of our galaxy. And how many millions/billions of solar systems are there in the universe? And all these things God made with His "fingers".
To lazily sing, "Our God is an awesome God..." in today's prevailing spirit seems, somehow, less-than inadequate. The psalmist asks, "what is man?" Why would such a God even take note of such an insignificant 'speck'!
And yet, God has made that speck "in the image of God" (Gen1:26-27,9:6) And in this passage it says, "For you have made him lacking a little from God, and have crowned him with glory and honor" (vs5)
Sorry that we must 'pick' on the KJV again; but facts are facts. Many preachers, if they even noticed that something was amiss, would say something like: In your Bible it says "angels", but in the original it REALLY MEANS..." This is one reason the VW-edition came into existence. If it REALLY MEANS "God", why doesn't the translation -say- so? Why did the servants of Babylon change "God" into "angels" there? The word there is "elohiym" (God), same word as found in Gen1:1,3:1,etc. The word for "angel" is "malak" as found in Ge16:7,19:1,28:12,etc. Not at all the same word! No question about it to mull it around to need to try to 'pick' a correct 'option' from the various 'shades' of meanings. There is no academic 'unclarity', uncertainty or gray area. The word in that spot is "Elohiym" (God). Period!
What does the "shining one" desire to do and be? He said, "I will be like the Most High" (Is14:14); and what does the Most High have? Among other things: the reverence and adoration from man. He tried to get Jesus to pay homage to him, and Jesus told him to 'get lost'. (Mt4:10) But he comes to man -appearing- as an "angel of light", and his fellow-fallen-angels pretend to be "ministers of righteousness" (2Co11:14-15) and he has many followers who "worship angels" (Col2:18)
But is man supposed to do homage to angels? What happened when John, the "beloved" of Jesus, did homage to the angel...twice? What did the angel reply? "Look out! No! I am your fellow servant..." (Rev19:10) And the second time when John did it again: "Now see here! No!" (Rev22:9)
What are angels? Ministering spirits. (Heb1:7) And for whose benefit do they minister? "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who are about to inherit salvation." (Heb1:14) In other words, anyone who is a child of God, or is about to become one, God sends His angels to "minister" on their behalf. Doing what? I have some ideas, which, not having any specific confirmation from Scripture, I'm not going to speculate publicly; but I suspect we will find that out when we arrive in the Heavenlies. But angels serve on our behalf.
Who is of higher station? Who is lower? The one serving, or the one being served?
So... why did Babylon change "God" into "angels"? The Wycliffe, the product of a catholic scholar, got it wrong, too. The Geneva, Darby and even the NASB perversion got it right. But the NKJV continues KJV's error. Yes, it -is- an 'error'! And being the 'kind' of error it is, it certainly -has- to have been 'deliberate'?! It is satan's lie, trying to steal away the homage that rightfully belongs to Jehovah/Yahweh. Man is NOT "lower than angels". Yes, certainly angels are more 'powerful' than man. (2Pe2:11) But it is not written anywhere that angels were made "in the image of God" (read Hebrews ch1); but man was! Man was made lower than God, by the very fact that the thing -made- is less than the -Maker-. And angels exist, among other things, to serve for our benefit.
This little 'speck' called "man", situated on a tiny 'quarter'-sized planet (remembering the illustration above), a product of God's creative "fingers", is "lacking a little from God", and was given "dominion". (vs6)
What is dominion? Sovereignty, control, sphere of influence, to be in charge of, etc.
Dominion over what? The "kingdom"? When I'm waking up on work mornings, hearing the local Moody station, they often play this recording of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (I don't know who/what they are), words including: "We are united in the fight...crushing the enemy under our feet...", and the song goes on talking about our 'soldiering' for God's kingdom, and with -our- might and authority, -we- are going to vanquish the enemy, as -we- are in charge of God's kingdom. Decades ago it used to be "Onward Christian soldiers...with the cross of Jesus..." Kinda like Constantine's 'vision' of the cross, and the message: With this symbol go forth and conquer. And so, out sprang the catholic church, and various historical campaigns like the Crusades, 30 years war, and whatnot.
Over 'what' is man given dominion? Satan and demons? Like I used to hear the local pastors 'pray' years ago on Thursday mornings, in that big circle in the meeting hall at the Union Gospel Mission, as though they thought they had satan wrapped around -their- little fingers: Satan, you better start trembling before -us-; -we- are gonna get'cha; you are gonna sure be sorry when -we- are done with you!
"You made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet" (vs6) See?! The Brooklyn Tab choir has it right..!! The -enemy- is under -our- feet!
What does it say? "enemy"? or... the "..works of Your hands.." And if there were any question as to what this refers: "..all sheep and oxen, even the beasts of the field; the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea passing through the paths of the seas" (vs7-8) When God first made everything, He then creates man and says, "...fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the flying creatures of the heavens, and over every living thing that moves on the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every plant that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food." (Gen1:28-29) This EARTH and all LIVING CREATURES on this earth.
What does it mean to "subdue" something? To: conquer, subjugate, bring under control, cultivate, etc. -USE- it for man's benefit.
When somebody takes ownership of a house, they often personalize it for their own use. They might re-paint with colors to suit their own tastes. They might do some remodeling to change where rooms and walls are. They will decorate with drapes, pictures, and such things. Man does similar things with the earth by cultivating gardens, farms, parks. To make rivers more beneficial for irrigation and power plants, he does the equivalent of 'remodeling', by building dams to 'manage' (control) the river's water flow, and prevent the damage that undammed flooding causes. Farmers will plant rows of trees and foliage as wind breaks to prevent soil erosion. They will manage wildlife to allow for the raising of cattle and sheep, such that predatory animals will not kill them. All these kinds of things are in obedience to God's command to "have dominion" over the "works of His hands".
But what is man doing? Those calling themselves "christian" are busy trying to usurp dominion over a domain of the heavenlies that is not theirs; and the rest of the world is reverting to nature worship, taking land away from people who rightfully own it and giving it back to the wild beasts, not allowing somebody to build where it is presumed (or deceitfully concocted by planting false 'evidence', when it is not really the case) that some 'rare' species on some alleged "endangered species list" might be living in a "wetlands" area; as their "stupid hearts" revert to "serve the created things more than the Creator" (Rom1:21,25)
God created the present universe, as if, by the "work of [His] fingers". But, for us 'specks' living on this 'quarter', for as awesome as the universe might seem to us, it is as 'nothing' in His sight compared to His concern for the eternal destiny of our souls. When we observe sinful man and how he rebels against God, God provides salvation....not with His "fingers", but "His own arm"...
"For our transgressions are multiplied before You, and our sins testify against us. For our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; in transgressing and lying against Jehovah, and backsliding from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And justice is driven back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth has fallen in the street, and uprightness cannot enter. Yea, truth fails; and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. And Jehovah saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor. Therefore HIS OWN ARM brought salvation unto Him; and His righteousness, it sustained Him. For He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head. And He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was covered with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay; fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies. He will completely repay their deeds to the coastlands. So shall they fear the name of Jehovah from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of Jehovah shall drive him out. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob, says Jehovah." (Is59:12-20)
Re: Marvelous Works (Psalm 9)
"I will praise You, O Jehovah, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High." (vs1-2)
Today's church loves to do what they call "worship". Years ago, when there were yet a few men of God here and there actually doing what pastors are supposed to to, "giving attention to reading and doctrine" (1Tim4:13), then along came a generation that ridiculed such meetings as being too stuffy. What did they want to do? "Praise the Lord!" They didn't want the reverence and respect of God's presence by dressing up for church; they didn't like the preacher "talkin' 'bout religion" (teaching doctrine); they just wanted to hang out and "praise the Lord!" That generation is now today's 'mature' leadership. It is the generation of our recent presidents, and yes....this writer. Today it is well-nigh impossible to even find a Biblical "teacher" in any pulpits. In fact, the latest thing on the news the other night is Rick Warren's comments about an 'environmentally friendly' church; using the same rhetoric as Green Peace and mother-earth (Gaia) worship. But then (sigh!) I guess that was the inevitable next step. If the church started preaching a social gospel decades ago, and migrated to 'worship', sans doctrine; what is left? During the course of last year, last summer, some of you may recall my generic query, after having attended some local church meetings to hear a particular guest speaker and noting how their 'worship' was no longer 'exciting' to the attendees; verbalizing 'out loud' (in print) to you-all and asking, "What's next?" What will be the next fad? If the church at one point followed along and embraced the world's music, what is the big thing with the world now? The environment and "mother earth". They "fear and serve the created things more than the Creator" (Rom1:25) This is today's (so-called) 'church' doing this. They are NOT worshiping the Most High. They are NOT -Christ's- [C]hurch. You can tell what a people is by the "objects of their devotion" (Ac17:23) In the previous psalm we noted that man is supposed to have "dominion" over the earth. (8:6) But instead of "subduing" it (Ge1:28), today's church -worships- it, and goes about, along with the world, seeking how to UN-subdue it!
But what do God's Godly ones do? Where is our worship focused? Jehovah. Jehovah is the name of the Most High.
And of what does our worship consist? Lazily, dreamily sitting on padded pews, being lulled into complacency by the soothing and/or throbbing sensuous lustful music, hanging hands limp at the ends of arms lazily propped up at the side by the elbows, drinking in 'feelings'? Dreamily fluttering eyelids and hoping to be washed over and inundated in emotions? ...as they announce to god (whoever that 'god' may be) that, "I have come to worship... I have come to bow down..." Funny thing: they sing about bowing down, but I have yet to see anybody in modern churches actually -doing- it... 'bowing' down. They don't even do as much as Babylon's Rome does... kneeling on kneelers!
But, of what does worship consist? "I will tell of all Your marvelous works"
What are God's marvelous works? They prayed the prayer of Jabez and got wealthy? Well, the ones who actually get wealthy are the ones who con the poor into sending them the 'seed' money, but the poor remain poor. They boast of miracles and healings; but like in the case of Benny Hinn, who was documented on one of the investigative TV programs a couple years ago: in EVERY SINGLE CASE where they followed a person who had been "healed" by Benny Hinn, that person was NOT healed. And in some cases, if they went home and stopped taking their necessary medication, they died of their disease -because- they stopped the medications... believing they had been healed.
But, what are God's works?
When the enemies of God's children are turned back, they "shall fall and perish at Your presence" (vs3) JUDGMENT
God maintains the righteous cause of His children, and JUDGES. (vs4)
God "rebukes" the nations, "destroys" the wicked and "blots" out their names. (vs5) JUDGMENT
God destroys the cities of the enemy and makes them desolate. (vs6) JUDGMENT
God executes judgment with equity (vs8) Black vs white; no so-called "gray areas" of (alleged) graaaeeeessss! JUDGMENT
God "investigates bloodshed" and "forgets not the cry of the lowly" (vs12) JUDGMENT
When nations are destroyed, they sink into their own pits. When they spread out nets to snare others, they get caught in their own devices. And thus, Jehovah is -known- when He EXECUTES JUDGMENT. (vs15-16)
When God executes judgment against evil, He does not gather around the victims and exhort them to "forgive" the perpetrator. He does not send the perpetrator to 'counseling' so that they might learn self-esteem, and to 'forgive themselves'.
But what God does is to provide "refuge for the oppressed" (vs9) God does not forsake those who "seek" Him (vs10) When He investigates bloodshed, He hears the cry of the lowly (vs12) and "lifts up" the victim. (vs13)
Yes, there -is- evil in this wicked world. And there are victims of the evil violence. And that evil may last for a time. But in God's JUSTICE, the promise is...
"..the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever" (vs18)
A time is coming, as prophesied, when "The kingdoms of this world [will] have been made those of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" (Rev11:15) When that time comes, all these things will come to pass, where today justice is often lacking in our present world; because the characteristic of His reign will be "..with judgment and with justice from now on, even forever." (Is9:6)
When Jesus taught to "turn the other cheek" (Mt5:39), He was not casting aside the 'justice' of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". (Mt5:38) I think the context is clear, that He was speaking of personal vendettas of 'vengeance', because vengeance belongs to God: "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. And again, The Lord will judge His people." (Heb10:30) We are not to take vengeance into our own hands, as David was reminded by Abigail. (1Sa25)
But God never did away with "justice". The "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" law was a -legal- issue; not a method for personal grudge retribution. (Ex21) When somebody stole, they were to make restitution. If they intentionally harmed another person, they obviously could not give a tooth back...thus, 'justice', meted down by the presiding Levite/judge, after the facts were investigated, witnessed and ascertained, was the knocking out of the tooth of the perpetrator. (With such justice, what's the need for prisons!)
Today -criminal- "rights" seems to be more important than -victim- rights. But that is not God's justice; and will not be Messiah's justice when He has "taken [His] great power" and sets up rule. (Rev11:17)
Perhaps this is why today's worship is what it is? Most of those "making claims" for Christ, have "come some other way". (Jn10:1) They do not love God "with [their] whole heart" (vs1) Their own lives are yet in darkness, and their deeds, which they think are in "secret" cannot stand the scrutiny of the "light of [His] countenance" (Ps90:8) This is why they like their "gray areas". Living in gray areas they can pretend that Scripture does not say, "Thus says Jehovah"; but imagine within themselves that Scriptures are to be 'interpreted' as to "what does it -mean- TO ME?"
In worship they used to sing, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty". Now they sing: Holy, holy....let me -feel- holy. Whilst pushing the guilt of an evil conscience into the realms of the never-never land of what they presume is God's "graaaeeesss", which they have turned into "licentiousness" (Ju1:4) whilst refusing 'repentance'.
Today's church proclaims that "we are all god/s". Part of God's marvelous works will be when He "lets the nations know that they are but men" (vs20) when they are "judged before [His] face" (vs19) and are "turned away into Sheol" (vs17)
As for those who truly know Him: He "maintains my right and my cause" (vs4), He is a refuge (vs9), they "put their trust in Him" (vs10), and sing His praises (vs11), whilst rejoicing in His salvation. (vs14)
As for the wicked? "Put them in fear, O Jehovah..." (vs20a)
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Heb10:31)
Re: Righeous Jehovah (Psalm 11)
"In Jehovah I put my trust; how can you say to my soul, Flee like a bird to the mountains? For lo, the wicked bend their bow; they make ready their arrow on the string, so that they may secretly shoot at the upright in heart." (vs1-2)
These couple of verses bring back memories of my university days as a music (voice) major, the oratorio "King David" by Arthur Honegger, one of the tenor solos. The solo re-words it slightly, "In the Lord I put my faith, I put my trust...." and then as the "bird" is fleeing to the mountains, the instruments make some high 'fluttery' sounds. And then as the "wicked bend their bow", the music becomes low and 'ominous'. Drama.
Being a "Psalm of David", it is obviously -to- God. But it is also rhetorically to David's enemies. And as one progresses through the verses, it seems like a Psalm of -musing-. David mulling around various thoughts in his mind and heart: In one case talking to God; in another, in the mind's eye, seeing the enemy and remembering what the enemy does and taunts; and perhaps 'processing' some thoughts on how to resolve the enemy's taunts against the realities of God's righteousness? I recognized it; it is a sort of thing I do from time to time.
From time to time we have discussed the tactics the wicked use against the Godly Believer. Some make no claims to spiritual things. But the worst, and most of them either pretend to be Christians, or are heavily into the world's New Age occult beliefs. If they have figured out that you are too hard a 'nut' to crack, do they care about you? Is not their attitude, then, "Get lost!"? Good riddance! Don't let the door hit your backside as you leave! Like a bird fleeing to the mountains, presumably to never be seen or heard from again.
Initially they pretend to care about you, wanting to "assimilate" you into their fellowship. Yes, folks: according to an e-mail recently that came from an organization specializing in church promotions, that was the term they used. How do you get first-time visitors to become part of your group? And they offer materials you can order to help you develop strategies to "assimilate" those visitors. Like the old StarTrek 'borg': "You will be assimilated; resistance is futile" Assimilation: not Biblical Godly "Redemption through His blood, the remission of sins"! (Eph1:7, Col1:14)
And this is how they work. They -pretend- to be 'loving'; but in actuality they have you in their crosshairs, ready to pierce your righteous heart.
So, the psalmist muses: How can you be like this? Why do you say these things? You cannot do such things. My trust is in Jehovah.
Is this not the "foundation"? (vs3) The "fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge" (Pr1:7) And I "trust in Jehovah with all [my] heart..." (Pr3:5) If I don't have the Lord, what can I do? Nothing! These wicked people taunt me, and say all these derogatory things to me; but don't they realize that I trust in the Lord? How can they be thinking that I'm just going to disappear? Where do such thoughts come from?
Do they not realize that "Jehovah is in His holy temple; Jehovah's throne is in Heaven" and "His eyes behold, His eyelids examine the sons of men" (vs4)
The wicked say that "it doesn't matter". Come "just as you are". You don't need to change a thing. You can "make a committment", and because salvation is "not of works" (Eph2:9), and the great men, the "church fathers" have proclaimed to us through their great books, that today's scholars relay to us, that salvation is "sola fide", "faith alone"...all you have to do is Buh-leeeeve! God's graaaeeesss is such that He "doesn't care" -what- you do. You can go to church, and then go hang out with your drinking drug-addict friends in their brothel watering holes. You don't need to clean any sinful behavior out of your life, because once your saved, you can never 'lose' your salvation...you're on your way to Heaven, la-dee-dah....God luuuuuvvvvs you!
Is that what Scripture says? Is that what this psalm says?
God is in Heaven, looking at mankind, and He is EXAMINING. What does it mean to "examine" something? In my background I used to work for a time in electronics assembly. Examining a circuit board might include a huge magnifying glass, with a good strong light source. For what purpose? Checking to make sure that the board was put together properly. That the proper components where in the proper holes. That polarity devices were inserted correctly. To make sure that the solder had covered the pads sufficiently, and up the leads sufficiently. To make sure that no solder was bridging between contacts where it wasn't supposed to be. To make sure that none of the solder joints were 'cold'...in other words, it had melted properly and there was a good mechanical connection, presuming an associative electrical connection. Looking to make sure it was 'good'. But also looking for anything 'bad' that needed fixing or touching up.
God examines with the "light of His countenance" (Ps4:6,89:15,90:8) What is the nature of Jehovah's countenance? He is "righteous". (vs7) He "loves" righteousness. When He examines, He is looking for righteousness. Holiness. Holiness, by definition, is a 'separation' from sin.
Oh, but! We are not so harsh and judgmental! We don't view things so "black and white" like you do! We believe the Bible teaches a lot of "gray areas".
How is the color 'gray' derived? By mixing black and white together. When quality checking a circuit board, if a solder connection looks "gray", it is either rejected or fixed...with heat and flux. What does the flux do? It cleans out the impurities, so that the solder, lead and pad can be electrically joined as 'one'. But the apostasy claims to be striving for "unity" (Jn17) -by- 'mixing' black and white together, by allowing the "gray areas" of sensuality and compromise to exist. But holy righteousness they reject. A cold solder joint 'might' conduct a current for awhile, but eventually it will be a cause for failure of the circuit, and ultimately, the device into which it is installed.
So, why is it that the apostasy thinks that God accepts gray areas? They are all a bunch of 'cold solder joints'. Hewlett Packard does not accept such a product off their assembly lines. And God accepts gray areas even less!
God "tries the righteous". (vs5a) He sees that all the solder joints are nice and shiny, so He plugs it into a tester to see if it is functional.
But "His soul HATES the wicked and the one who loves violence. Upon the wicked He will rain snares, fire and brimstone; and a horrible tempest shall be the portion of their cup" (vs5b-6)
Oh...no! You have this all wrong! God is a God of "luuuuvvvv"!
NO HE ISN'T!
The Most High's #1 characteristic: "Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts" (Is6:3a) God "loves righteousness" (vs7) And if He is to be true to His #1 character, He -must- HATE wickedness.
Well, Phew!!! I thought the Psalms were a collection of all these 'pleasant' things. (1Ki22:13, Is30:10) Easy reading. Things a person can sit down and read, quickly, and be "uplifted". Read a psalm, quick, and get the 'battery' of the heart charged up 'quick'. Something with easy words that I can read a short chapter quick, and will have fulfilled my obligation for reading the Bible that day...not have to think too hard about 'what' I'm reading, and come away -feeling- all 'blessed'. Mmmm??
You can no more mix sin with righteousness to come up with "gray areas", and expect entrance into Heaven successfully; than a solder joint can be 'gray/cold' due to impurities, and hope for the circuit to work.
And you have the nerve to say to the righteous: Get lost! ? Flee as a bird? ...and don't come back! ?
Well, guess what!
The "righteous Jehovah loves righteousness; His face beholds the upright" (vs7); the one you plotted against! But He hates you. (vs5)
Re: the Godly man ceases (Psalm 12)
"Help, Jehovah, for the godly man ceases; for the faithful have vanished from among the sons of men. They speak vanity each one with his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak" (vs1-2)
A companion to these verses: "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord Jehovah, that I will send a famine into the land, not a famine for bread, nor a thirst for water, but rather a famine for hearing the Words of Jehovah. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall roam to and fro to seek the Word of Jehovah, and they shall not find it." (Am8:11-12)
One of God's faithful prophets proclaimed: "Your Words were found, and I ate them; and Your Word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Jehovah the God of Hosts." (Jer15:16)
But today the prevailing works are perversions; sourced from those who rebelled at God's Word through Jeremiah, who insisted they were going down to Egypt, while they would also continue worshiping the Queen of heaven. (Jer44)
Is that not precisely what today's 'church' is doing. Pretty much all religions and [c]hristian denominations are returning to Egypt (Babylon/Rome) who worship the Queen of heaven; and what they claim as their "Bible" of choice is also one of the perversions from Egypt/Rome.
Thus, if a person were to traipse from [c]hurch to [c]hurch, looking for a Bible (God's Word), one would be hard-pressed to find a single copy. While doing this search, if one had an ear peeled to the PA system, to hear what was being proclaimed from the platform, one no longer hears anything Godly, either.
They have their "friendship" moments where everybody is suppose to get up, galavant around, shaking hands, slapping shoulders, and these days they also hug everybody in sight (whether they are married to each other or not), vainly smiling and feigning friendliness.
The ones on the platform "flatter" the audiences. Decades ago, when pastors might still be preaching the Word, it was the songleaders who would "flatter" the people for all their "smiling faces". Today, as the pastors don't even any longer use the Bible, they tell the congregation what "wonderful people" they are. They are full of "worth". THAT's WHY God gives regard to them and accepts them "just as they are".
But their heart is "double". They speak with a "double heart" in two ways: both towards God, and also towards the people they claim to be shepherding.
Towards God they are attempting to serve "two masters". They -claim- to serve the Most High, but refuse to be holy. They refuse to separate themselves from the world, sin, false doctrine and wolves. Thus, in truth, "from their fruits" (Mt7:15-20), it is plain to see that they are serving satan. And if they are serving satan, they do not belong to God. Jesus said "No one is able to serve two masters" (Mt6:24, Lk16:13) It is NOT POSSIBLE. It CANNOT BE DONE! A Godly steward is one who is "found faithful". (1Co4:2) If he is not faithful: "the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not expecting him and in an hour he does not know, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Mt24:50-51)
And then, their double heart is toward their congregations: They "flatter" the people, telling them what they want to hear, how wonderful they are, blah, blah, blah. But when they cajole them for their "seed" money, the people remain in poverty, while they, the servants, live in luxury. They are "thieves and robbers" who "steal, kill and destroy" (Jn10:8-13)
And what is their doctrine? "We shall be strong with our tongue; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?" (vs4) They are proclaiming themselves to be 'gods'. They verbally shake their tongues at satan and -pray- in "warfare". They proclaim to satan, "we" are gonna get'cha, and they sing about trampling satan "under -our- feet". And if a Godly person confronts them about their error, they use the "chain of command" and "accountability" ruse to make sure the Godly one knows just how inferior they are for DARING to confront them (god's lofty 'anointed'), and are due God's judgment for not submitting to their "authority".
What is God going to do about it?
"Jehovah shall cut off all flattering lips" (vs3) Pretty effective 'stop' to all the lying proud pontifications, don't you think. In the O.T. justice was meted out, "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth". Jesus taught about personal vendettas. (Mt5:38-39) But God's JUSTICE, that which was the original intent behind those O.T. laws, has never changed. And so, the wolves have sinned with their lips? God is going to "cut" them off. Their "end [is] according to their works" (2Co11:15)
And what about all their 'victims'? The ones from whom they conned their livelihoods, and led astray? From Jesus' words we know that "many" are going down the "broad way" to destruction (Mt7:13), who are -willingly- "being led astray" (2Ti3:13), the "blind leading the blind" (Mt15:14)
But for those who are "poor in spirit" (Mt5:3) God says, "I will now arise...I will set him in the safety for which he pants" (vs5)
Some of you reading this have experienced it. Before you came to understand that they are, in fact, 'wolves', you patiently sat under their "ministries". You tried to stand up for God's Truth, as understood from God's Word. You were rebuffed, ridiculed, downtrodden, castigated, and ousted from their 'fellowships'. And as you left one place, it was seeming like there was -no- Righteous fellowship, or minister. You found that "the wicked walk on every side" (vs8a)
But I can tell you from personal experience that God does, indeed, "set him in the safety for which he pants" (vs5b)
I can also atest that, during the process where I was "coming out of" Babylon (Rev18:4), I was also confronted with the Truth of the "Words of Jehovah" being "pure Words". (vs6a) That was when I learned the truth about the perVersions from Egypt, and returned to God's PURE Word.
In my case these two things happened hand-in-hand. The Lord saw to my being "freed" from the apostasy and unequal yokes, while at the same time directing me back to His Word. And when I started reading God's Word again, after 20 years of a perversion, it was like my heart and soul sighed contentedly in peace that: I'm back HOME!
While most people find Amos 8:11-12 to be the case, that they are starving for God's Word; for those who truly seek His face, God's Word is preserved.
"You shall keep them, O Jehovah, You shall preserve them from this generation forever" (vs7)
Re: the Fool (Psalm 14)
"The fool has said in his heart, There is no God!" (vs1)
"For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is clearly recognized by them, for God has revealed it to them. For ever since the creation of the world the unseen things of Him are clearly perceived, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they know God, they do not glorify Him as God, nor are thankful, but become vain in their reasonings, and their stupid hearts are darkened. PROFESSING TO BE WISE, THEY BECOME FOOLISH, and change the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things." (Rom1:18-23)
"...knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were since the beginning of creation. For of this they are WILLFULLY IGNORANT: that by the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same Word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." (2Pet3:3-7)
In today's world 'where' is it that wisdom is said to reside? If one wishes to rise above the daily grunting-for-food, to philosophize about lofty matters, where is the 'home' of such high thoughts? Is it not the colleges and universities. Institutions of "higher learning" where the "wisdom of this world" (1Co1:20,3:19) touts their degrees, and if anybody presumes to trust in God and the Scriptures, they are ridiculed and laughed out the door.
What is the premise of worldly wisdom? Big bang, evolution, chance; man bettering himself, being the crafter of his own destiny. As Peter foretold, what is today called "uniformitarianism": The progression of events and changes never changes; however things move today, is how they have always moved; the rate at which things change today, is the same rate they have always changed. There is no 'outside' influence on the universe...it is its own entity. There is no intelligent -being- "in charge" of anything. It all...just...-is-.
The world's religions are pretty much all based on things and self. Things like the universe, mother earth and animals. Self...well, that's self. Me, I, myself. The world is also a 'tolerant' place regarding religion. Yes, we see Islam going ballistic these days, and their Koran teaches intolerance towards anything that is not Muslim. And over the centuries the various ethnicities would fight turf wars based on religion...My god can whoop your god! etc.etc. But as 'wisdom' progresses, man claims to be developing and growing -above- such backward concepts of "gods" and "higher powers". Man does not need a god. He is his own authority. And the sooner he can get this antiquated notion of a Holy God out of his mind, the better.
One other thing, too: Mankind -knows- 'which' god is the Most High. For all their proliferation of deities, claiming pantheistic beliefs, and tolerance towards 'all'; they are quite -specific- on 'which' God they have rejected, and towards whom they are intolerant. Truth be told: they don't -really- wish to get rid of notions of "god"...just -one- 'particular' one. For all the talk of keeping God out of schools, and penalizing students for praying, etc; they have no problem teaching children to behave like Muslims, or worshiping Gaia (mother earth). They have no problem with statues to the Queen of Heaven, nor of preserving ancient ruins of the various pyramids found in Egypt, central America, etc. They don't even object to Judaism or Kabbalah.
But they -do- object to 'Biblical' Israel and 'Biblical' Christianity. Jews around the world observe the Pascha Seder and Kabbalism, and nobody cares. Many [c]hristians go to church, and even have nationally televised and glorified assemblies in the Queen of Heaven's cathedrals. But for a Jew to go up to the Temple Mount? Better watch them carefully, lest they might be seen "moving their lips" (in prayer). Don't dare let them have access to the place God told Israel was the place of His Name so they can resume sacrifices. Don't dare allow the recitation of Scripture...it might 'offend' others.
Not allowed to 'witness' to people, because to do so is "threatening"? Must use care when inviting people to a meeting where they might hear the gospel, to do so in a "non-threatening" way. So...when was the last time you saw a [C]hristian holding their fist up to somebody's nose while 'inviting' them to a meeting? That, certainly, would be "threatening", wouldn't you say? But to pleasantly simply 'invite' a person... is "threatening"? Let's see, when catholicism "christianized" central and south America, it did so at the tip of bayonets. So, whose approach is the "threatening" one?
Christianity is threatening? Well, perhaps so...because if they go to a place where the Gospel is actually proclaimed (not something that proliferates these days!), they will learn that they are "sinners", and that God's judgment against sin is the Lake of Fire. And certainly, would you not say that the Lake of Fire is a 'threatening' place! And the prospect of being labeled as a "sinner" is, certainly, 'belittling'. It doesn't do much towards self-esteem.
So, how do we avoid all that judgmentalism and hate speech? Do like my ex did when she announced, a couple weeks before she ran off with her boyfriend: Your God and mine are different. "Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy", but your God requires "obligations". Obligations to holiness, justice, truth and righteousness. If I have a 'different' god, then (in the imaginations of my mind as I refuse to face reality) I don't have to acknowledge the Most High. There is no -such- God, as the one mentioned in the Bible. In fact...let's just get rid of the Bible entirely, and then we won't have to be continually reminded of Him by those hate-filled fundamentalists.
But what does God say of them? FOOLS!
"Jehovah looked down from Heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there were any who understood and sought God" (vs2) and what did He find? "They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, no, not one." (vs3)
I was watching a little segment of DrPhil the other day; a show where young women were continually going back to their abusive husbands or boyfriends. It is built-in and God-designed for a woman to seek to stay with her man: "your desire shall be for your husband" (Gen3:16) But DrPhil was rather puzzled, seeming to not understand (harping) 'why' these women would continually 'forgive' their men, and want to go back. His conclusion; as though they were being "stupid" for returning to those abusive situations, concluding: the women were lacking in self-esteem. Something DrPhil does not understand: it is part of the curse, "...and he shall rule over you" (Gen3:16b)
As God looks down upon mankind all He sees is corruption, abomination and evil. (vs1) Nobody is good! Nobody does good! And the closer and closer we come to the time when Christ returns to snatch up His children, the more and more evil the world is looking.
It started between Cain against Abel: those doing iniquity attack God's children; as they do not call upon God. (vs4)
But "God is in the generation of the righteous" (vs5)
That word "generation" means a lot of different things throughout Scripture. In this place, think of it as something like "family"; "generation" and "genetics" being related concepts. We are "children" of God (Jn1:12); "sons" of God (Ga3:26) In other words, we are -related- to God. We are in God's 'family'. We are those who came to Faith in Christ "through their word" (Jn17:20); the preaching of those who preceded us, generation after of generation, beginning with Jesus' disciples at Pentecost. As Paul would speak of his "little children" (Ga4:19); or John's "little children". (1Jn2:1) Paul speaks of how he had "begotten" the Corinthians into Faith "through the gospel" (1Co4:15); along with Onesimus (Phm1:10)
While I despise what the Gaithers stand for, they did write a good little song back in the early 70s: "I'm so glad I'm a part of the fam'ly of God" and again, "you will notice we say brother and sister 'round here...that's because we're a family, and these folks are so dear"
The wicked "shame" God's family, but Jehovah is their refuge. (vs6)
And the psalmist cries out, "Oh that the salvation of Israel was out of Zion!" (vs7)
What/who is the "salvation of Israel"? Messiah, Emmanuel, God with us. (Mt1:23); Jesus (vs21,25)
When did Jesus come the first time? When Israel, the "captivity" from Babylon, was back in the land. But Israel rejected Him that time.
Israel is again now, today, "back" from the captivity of their dispersion. Not yet -all- of them; but a presence, such that there is again a nation. And their Messiah is about ready, again, to come to reign "out of Zion". And then they will rejoice and be glad.
What of the rest of the "generation of the righteous" when Christ returns? The wicked were "eating up" (consuming) the Believers, and putting them often in "great fear" (vs4-5) Jesus promises: "Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie; indeed I will make them come and bow the knee before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept the Word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth." (Rev3:9-10)
And then, the fools who now say that "there is no God" ... "shall know that I am Jehovah" (Ezk25:11, 28:22, etc)
Re: Who may Abide? (Psalm 15)
"O Jehovah, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill?" (vs1)
When we study various passages of Scripture, or discuss certain topics, there is often an expression that accompanies the discussion, that goes something like: If there is one thing you might ever learn from these mailings. or: Of all the things one might learn, 'this' is at the very foundation. or: If a person wants to know "why?" something or other, 'this' is at the root core.
And of course, world philosophy speculates the origins of life, the origins of matter, and man's purpose for existence. In fact, these things are so ingrained in the intellectual mind that the spoof (public) radio show that used to air regularly years ago, "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" used to have this 'whale' falling out of space, shouting out, philosophizing on his way down, "Who am I? Why am I here?" before going 'splat' when he hits, etc.etc.
But these two questions from Ps15:1 certainly do form -the- #1 question that man -should- be asking. Of all the 31,102 verses in the Bible, what is central? The book of Psalms is in the middle, and contains those two central (numerically) verses and are, as it turns out (as I just now looked it up), directly related to this lesson's question. We'll close with them.
In the previous chapter we observed the "fool" who proclaims that God does not exist. But we also observed that those same fools one day will acknowledge God's existence. And in fact, if they were honest with themselves, God has already put a little bit of Himself into their psyches in the form of "conscience". (Rom2:15) They actually truly already -do- "know" that God exists, and that He is holy, and that there is the black-and-white of right and wrong. That there is good and bad. And ultimately blessing or punishment. For all of man's philosophizing against God, in the final analysis, when they look deep inside themselves (which is what they claim to be doing), they -know- God is the Creator, and that He is holy. When they claim otherwise, spinning elaborate lines of 'logic' (mostly excuses) to do so, they are not facing reality. They -know- the truth, but do NOT -face- it. Instead of facing it, they have "turned aside". (14:3) They have "gone astray". (Is53:6) When their conscience hears that little voice saying, "This is the way, walk in it..." (Is30:21) they rebel and refuse.
Thus, with all this as 'introduction' to this chapter, isn't it really almost not necessary to spell out what is in the rest of the chapter? The heart -knows- what it takes to be with God.
What sort of person can abide with God? In the same dwelling with the Most High? Having fellowship with the Almighty? Having communion with the fearsome mighty Judge?
Please -read- the whole chapter. It is only 5 verses. Remembering also that, while we are not under Law, but under Grace (Rom6:14), that if a man keeps God's Law from the heart, "...if a man does [them], he shall live by them" (De30:10, Le18:5, Rom10:5)
A person who IS upright, does good, and is truthful IN HIS HEART. The heart is a place that nobody can see except God. (Heb4:12-13) As Paul says, a True Believer is thus "of the heart, in the Spirit" (Rom2:29)
A person who does NOT let fly with the tongue, does NOT do evil to other people; in other words, he "loves his neighbor as himself" (Le19:18); and again: "And as you would have men do to you, you also do likewise to them." (Lk6:31) And so, since this verse addresses the negatives: Whatever a person would NOT like others doing to them, they don't do to those other people.
A person who HATES those who deliberately rebel against God; and LOVES those who love God. You say you don't think we are supposed to 'hate' anybody, because God 'luuuuvs' everybody and accepts them "just as they are"? No He doesn't!
David says, "Surely You will slay the wicked, O God! Depart from me you men of blood. For they speak against You maliciously; Your enemies are lifted up with vanity. Do I not hate them, O Jehovah, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies." (Ps139:19-22)
Can you imagine a husband or wife, for whom their spouse is the object of ridicule, hate, and malicious mischief, gossip, slander and every evil thing...for that husband or wife to go and make 'friends' with their spouse's enemies? And get together with them, and plot along with them, against their own spouse? NOT HARDLY! But when a person claiming to be a Believer is "friends with the world", the church accepts their stance as 'acceptable' Christian behavior? The Bible says, "Adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore purposes to be a friend of the world is shown to be opposing God." (Jac4:4) "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1Jn2:15) He "is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1Jn2:4)
But on the other hand, when a couple is married, do not the friends of each, usually become the friends of the new spouse, as well? "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently out of a pure heart" (1Pet1:22) "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother remains in death." (1Jn3:14)
How does one have access to God's presence? Do good, shun evil. Be righteous, reject sin. Love God and His children, and hate the world and its ways. Really quite simple. That's why this chapter is so short. It's one of the most simple concepts. Paul speaks of the "simplicity that is in Christ" (2Co11:3)
Jesus said that entrance is so simple that, unless one approaches like a child, one cannot get there. (Mt18:3) And what sorts of complex philosophy does the typical child understand? They understand "obey=good", "disobey=bad"; "good=hug", "bad=spank" Black and white. Yes - No. (Mt5:37) If it's not white, it's black. If it's not good, it's bad. If it's not righteous and pleasing, it is sinful and evil.
"Trust in Jehovah, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on faithfulness...Depart from evil and do good, and live forevermore." (Ps37:3,27)
"Learn to do good, seek justice, set straight the oppressor, judge for the orphan, plead for the widow." (Is1:17)
"Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." (Ja4:17)
"For He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." (1Pet3:10-12)
Those two verses in the very middle of the Bible?
"Bless Jehovah, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases" (Ps103:2-3)
What does one do on God's "holy hill"? Bless Jehovah. And over what do we praise Him? That He makes the righteous to "never be moved" (vs5) But when we consider that we are "brought forth in iniquity" (Ps51:5), how do we received cleansing and salvation? Through God's forgiveness of our sins by his great mercy. And of course, those thus forgiven live lives of "fruits worthy of repentance" (Mt3:8) as "...a man is justified from works, and not by faith only" as he demonstrates/proves 'his faith from his works' (Ja2:24,18)
Thus also, the primary 'worship music' in the O.T. when they used to offer sacrifices, for cleansing from sin, as they would be prostrate on the ground?
"Oh, give thanks unto Jehovah, for He is good; for His mercy is eternal." (1Ch16:34)
THAT is 'how' a person can abide with God, and have fellowship with Him.
"But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (Ja1:22)
That's what this psalm is about: not so much about talking the walk; there's lots of people doing that, who don't know the Lord. But does one walk the talk? That is the sort of person God welcomes into His "tent" and on His "holy hill".
Re: Hear a Just Cause (Psalm 17)
"Hear a just cause, O Jehovah; give attention to my cry, listen to my prayer; for it is not from deceitful lips. Let my sentence come forth from Your presence; let Your eyes behold with equity. You have examined my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me, and found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress." (vs1-3)
Why is David calling to God in this way? He asks for God's shelter, "Keep me as the pupil of the eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings" (vs8) Where is the pupil pointing? That is what the eye is looking at. In other words, God, keep watching out for me. When there is danger chickens will gather the little ones under their wings for protection. There was a case I heard of years ago where there had been a fire. After the fire was put out, they came along and found the mother hen's body perched, upright, charred, dead. So they 'kicked' at her carcass, and out from under her wings came peeping all the little chicks, unharmed. It's hard to imagine such an ability to withstand the ordeal of a fire, even for saving one's young. But she had.
That is the kind of attention David is asking from God. To watch over and protect. Why? What is the nature of the danger?
There are those who "rise up against me" (vs7) And what is the nature of their aggression?
Devastation: To lay waste, destroy, confound, overwhelm. The "enemies of my soul who surround me" (vs9) They are proud. (vs10) And how do they seek to destroy? They lurk and crouch like a cat after its prey. (vs11-12) They hunker down next to the ground, ears back, eyes just barely peering over/through the grass, waiting for the right moment to POUNCE. And when they pounce, and make contact with their claws, it is with a quick, violent viciousness.
We are exhorted to "be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1Pet5:8) But the psalmist realizes that this is a kind of vigilance that we cannot do alone, without God. We can watch out for satan, but demons are "greater in power" (2Pet2:11) than we are. We can read Eph6:10-17 about defending against the "wiles of the devil"; but if you read that passage, you notice all the defensive implements are from God.
It is the "armor of God" (vs13) We are girded with "truth" and "righteousness" (vs14) Both of these things are God's character. And whose is the "gospel of peace"? (vs15) Again, that is about what God did through Jesus Christ. (1Co15:1-4) The "shield of faith"? (vs16) Even that is the "faith -of- Christ". (Ga2:16, Php3:9) The "helmet of salvation" and the "Word of God"? (vs17) Again: by definition, from God. We are exhorted to "having done all, to stand" (vs13) But it is not -we- who are standing. David cries out to God: Watch out for me! Protect me under Your wings.
When the lion is pouncing, jump in front of him and divert his attack. The psalm says "forestall him"; "bow him down" (vs13) Perhaps like a little game I used to play with my cat years ago? The cat would usually sleep at the foot of the bed, and so when I would have finished my shower, ready for bed, he would already be there, grooming himself; and we would have a little 'wrestling' match. My hand would pretend to be a spider, or some such thing...scurrying around, making mock attacks. He would rise up, ears back, and 'pounce' at the hand. Of course, as he was pouncing, my hand would go for his face, covering it. There would be pretend biting, and scratching, and kicking of the rear feet. But I would usually always "bow him down". Well...I and my hand were considerably -bigger- than he was. It was easy for me to do.
Satan might be stronger than we are; but God is immensely greater than he is. Satan might wish to pounce on us, but all God has to do is put His 'hand' in satan's way, and "bow him down".
But 'why' should God provide this protection for us? Just as we are people, garnering God's protection; our enemies come in the form of other people (sinners), under satan's domain. And they like to accuse us. Satan is called the "accuser of our brethren" (Rev12:10) Satan tried to accuse Job: He's a goody two-shoes, only because You hedge him in with protection. (Job1:10)
The psalmist asks for God's protection based on his record. God allowed satan to test Job. On another occasion David asks God: "Search me, O Mighty God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and find out if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way eternal" (Ps139:23-24) David has been tested, and found to not have "deceitful lips". (vs1) He has been tested "in the night" (vs3) when a person dreams. They say that dreams reveal a person's hidden thoughts. And God has "found nothing"; because David has "purposed" not to transgress.
David understands that, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear." (Ps66:18) So he begins his request for God's shelter with a review of the fact that his heart has been focused on God. He has no unconfessed sin, and so his "sentence" (from the Judge) is that there is nothing wayward. He is pure.
After all, how does a child "snuggle" up to a parent for protection, if they know they have done wrong, and are due punishment?
But, how many people presume to claim to be "christians", whilst living in sin, and have the nerve to chide God when things go bad in their lives? Do they not understand that "...God does not hear sinners; but if anyone reveres God and does His will, He hears him." (Jn9:31) ?
What is the nature of these 'enemies' who surround God's child, to (through satan) devour?
They are people who are "satisfied with children, and leave an abundance to their infants....whose portion is in this life" (vs14)
They are 'nice' people, 'good' people; people with 'family values' and they care for their children. They live -in- the world and -for- the world. They are the good "productive citizens" of this world, who you will see participating in every good fund-raising event "for the children". They will raise money for "Jerry's kids", and have walk-a-thons for "XYZ Crisis Nursery", and such wonderful things.
Isn't that what "good christians" should be doing? Shouldn't churches participate in and help sponsor such good things like "Christian orphans fund" and other social causes? Over the past decades those who were labeled as "modernistic" churches proclaimed a "social gospel": being concerned most about "our fellow man". And in more recent years the other evangelical and fundamentalist groups have little by little jumped on that bandwagon. Well, "pure and undefiled religion before God..is...to visit orphans and widows" (Ja1:27) We are to "remember the poor" (Ga2:10)
But in the eternal scheme of things, are social concerns man's #1 priority?
"As for me, I will behold Your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with the image of You" (vs15)
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is evident that we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content." (1Tim6:6-8)
The world strives after riches, and to leave legacies behind for their children...
"But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life... I charge you... that you keep the commandment without spot, blameless until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will reveal in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and eternal power." (1Tim6:11-16)
What is the "just cause"? To bury ourselves in social concerns, taking care of "the children"? (One of the characteristics of these last days, of these children that they are so self-righteously 'concerned' about (salving their consciences for all the millions of children butchered in the womb!), is that they are "accursed" along with "forsaking the right way" (2Pet2:14-15)) ...or to be righteous before God?
We are to be "laying aside" all the pseudo-concerns of this world, and "behold[ing] [His] face in righteousness" ... "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb12:2)
Re: the heavens declare (Psalm 19)
On this earth there are many spectacular things in nature. As this psalm says, the glories of a sunrise. The strength of the sun shining. Perhaps the night was chilly, but then the sun comes up, and man and beast alike go and face into it, soaking in its rays, shaking off the shivers. But then, the exquisite beauty of a sunset, especially under certain atmospheric conditions. I've not seen a volcano erupt, but have experienced earthquakes. As a child growing up in Japan, earthquakes were some of my most-feared events.
But something that really 'grips' me with captivation is a good ol' midwestern thunderstorm. (In Spokane where I live now we don't get them like that very often. The climate is comparatively mild.) The huge bank of dark clouds would come rolling in. One minute all is calm, and the next all fury is unleashed with wind, rain and....aaah yes...the thunder! My favorite. The more boistrous, the better. Particularly when you see the lightning bolt within a mile's distance, and a few seconds later the awesome "Crack!" When animals and children are wimpering and cowering away, I'm out there to take it all in. I sometimes even rush out to the garage so I can stand there, under the garage's shelter, and take it all in at the garage's open door. The greater the cacophony, the more I smile and laugh with delight.
The "firmament -PROCLAIMS- His handiwork" (vs1b) The firmament is where earth's atmosphere is.
Elihu seems to have been of a similar mind...
And yet, as I was re-hearing the one recording of the rain and thunder: as the rain was letting up, suddenly... Cheep, cheep, cheep... chirp, chirp... From wherever sparrows go to hunker down during a storm, they were back. "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them shall fall to the ground without your Father." (Mt10:29) God created the "flying creatures [to] fly to and fro above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens" (Gen1:20) And some of them proclaim His handiwork by saying: "Cheep, cheep, cheep!"
When God spoke face-to-face with Israel His voice was like "thunder" (Ex19:16) When we hear thunder, and then see the rainbow, it is a reminder of God's covenant with man. (Gen9:9-17) But His creation also speaks, "Cheep, cheep!" And these things are a witness to the world of God... being "clearly perceived" leaving mankind "without excuse" (Rom1:20)
And notice: There is no language of people where God's voice is not heard. Wherever the sun "does its successive journeys run", "through all the earth" their line has gone out. In just the same way there is no part of earth's globe that can hide from the sun's rays (vs6), so too, there is no place on earth where God's "glory" is not known, nor that His "handiwork" has not been proclaimed.
There are some people who worry that God's ability to reveal of Himself to mankind is somehow 'limited' unless they, the 'soulwinner', are stuffing everybody's hand with tracts or button-holing them and flapping their yaps at them. But you see... there is no place on earth where God's 'thunder' is not heard, nor His "cheep, cheep, cheep".
When the psalmist considers God's creation, he responds, "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?" (8:4) God, who created all the vast universe, speaks out of the thunder, and for the more delicate and sensitive, utters "Cheep, cheep!" ...you mean to suggest that unless you, dear 'soulwinner', are flapping your yap at somebody, that God's glory will not be known to mankind? How small do you think God is? Have -you- seen His creation? Have -you- shut your trap long enough to hear the "Cheep, cheep"? Elijah was flustered about grandiose events, and feeling that his own sense of worth was not being adequately appreciated... they were out to kill him... but it wasn't until he heard the "whisper of a small voice" (cheep, cheep) that he heard God. (1Ki19:12)
"The Law of Jehovah is perfect, converting the soul" (vs7a)
What is this "Law" here? Is it Scripture? Well, it certainly would -include- that, since the Scriptures were "breathed" by God (2Tim3:16) through the Holy Spirit (2Pet1:21)
But what is the context? The "glory" of God's creation. The "proclamations" of His handiwork. Yes, Moses went up into the mountain and received "the Law" from God and gave it to Israel. But as Israel is ready to enter the land of promise, and Moses is reviewing the Law to them, what does he say? "...the Word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it" (De30:14) As Paul summarizes, "..the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts meanwhile accusing or else excusing themselves" (Rom2:15) God's Law existed long before it was ever written down on parchment. God's Word is -living- and -abiding-. (1Pet1:23, Heb4:12)
Until Moses started writing down the Pentateuch (Torah), it is not recorded that there was any written Scripture. So, what did humanity do for 2500 years? Hebrews 11 enumerates many of those from that period who were pleasing to God through "faith". How did they know of God, to either receive or reject Him? The "Word...was in the beginning" (Jn1:1-3) and -spoke- everything into existence. (Gen1:3,6,etc) And He gave covenants to creation and mankind; He -spoke- it; that was His Law. And spoke to man individually on many occasions Gen3:9,4:6,6:13;9;12,etc
You see, God's ways are perfect. He knows what He is doing. He knows the heart. (Ps44:21, Lk16:15) The preacher confronts that his hearer, in truth, knows his own heart, "For your own heart knows that you yourself have..." done wrong. (Ec7:22)
His Law is perfect converting the soul (vs7)...God has given enough knowledge to convert the soul. We often quote Rom10:17, that salvation comes "through the Word of God". I quote it often in refuting modern easy-believerism of the "repeat after me this prayer" soulwinnerism. But how often do we continue to the next verse?
Paul is giving the argument for "preaching" (Rom10:14-15), which many who call themselves "soulwinners" and "missionary-minded" give. How will the heathen hear, unless missionaries -go- and -take- the gospel to them? Many of them include into this argument that God "has no other plan" for evangelism. No other plan, than for MISSIONARIES (people) to GO. And most of those messages and appeals stop at vs17.
But Paul, in the same context, goes on to vs18: "But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world" quoting -this- Psalm we are looking at presently in consideration. And what is the -context- of Ps19:4, which Paul quoted? The heavens, firmament, sun. God's creation. The awesomeness of the bark of His thunder, all the way down to the "cheep, cheep" of His little "flying creatures".
Yes, missionaries should go. Preachers should preach. Soulwinners should win souls. People should hand out tracts and when Spirit-led, button-hole select individuals. Jesus commanded us to go and preach. (Mt28:19-20, Mk16:15, Lk24:47-48, Ac1:8) But before they ever reach their destination, God's 'preachers' have -already- been sent. They are already there. The work has already been going on in the sinner's heart through their conscience, through God's creation.
The final message the world will hear from the angel before the judgment of That Day is:
"Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; also, do homage to Him who MADE THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH, the sea and springs of water." (Rev14:7) This is the message mankind has had for 6000 years.
But instead, what does man do? He sees the 'evidence' for the Creator, but instead worships the "created things more than the Creator" (Rom1:25) Man's wisdom, his science and astronomy, sees the evidence of intricate 'design', but in his hatred for God, refuses the evidence staring him in the face, and concludes it all came about "by chance". Last night (as this is in preparation) public TV's "Nova" program was about black holes, and one of the speakers asks, "Where did it all start?" Well, of course, the "big bang"! And the speaker then spins his fingers around and suggests that all this stuff that spewed out from the 'bang' got "stirred around" as it was all just 'happening' (by chance) to form into the vast 'organization' we see, which they had just been showing us. As he cleverly stirred his little fingers around like that, I just busted out laughing, and couldn't contain myself for a few minutes! Just like... "He who sits in the Heavens shall laugh; Jehovah shall have them in derision" regarding their "vain thing" (Ps2:4,1) Peter says they are "WILLFULLY ignorant" (2Pet3:5) It is not that they DON'T KNOW any better. They KNOW, but -PURPOSELY- REJECT.
And when a person purposely refuses, how much good is 'preaching' going to do? If they further reject, it only adds to their punishment. To whom much is given, "from him much will be required" (Lk12:48) When in God's foreknowledge (Rom8:29), knowing "those who are His" (2Tim2:19); and conversely those who are not, the vessels of wrath (Rom9:18-22); He does not send preachers and missionaries to certain people, is that not a measure of 'mercy' regarding their eternal judgment?
So... they have the glory of God's creation, evidence of His existence, but reject Him? They are "without excuse" (Rom1:20) A sinner is "judged already" (Jn3:18) because he has rejected the Creator. (Rev14:7) He sees the Light of God's glory, but prefers his "darkness rather than the Light" because his "deeds are evil". (Jn3:19) This is what he wants!
But... "the one doing truth comes to the Light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been worked in God" (Jn3:21)
And that's what the rest of this Psalm is about:
Sinful man complains that God's judgment "is not fair" (Ezk18:25) Well, God's Law is perfect. It is the basis for salvation. (Rom10:17) Without God's Law there is no salvation. If the sinner rejects God's Law, they also reject salvation. But God pleads with the sinner, "Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why will you die...? (Ezk33:11)
The Testimony of God is wisdom. (vs7) "The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge" (Pr1:7) "..the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom" (Job28:28) God's wisdom calls out: "Understand wisdom, you simple ones" (Pr8:1,5)
The Statutes of Jehovah are upright. (vs8a) Statutes are commands to be obeyed, of things to do. "Trust in Jehovah and do good" (Ps37:3a)
How often in today's world full of self-esteem do they not show some good deed or project somebody did: they will interview the kids who built a little foot bridge in a park, or the people who did a home make-over to help a disadvantaged person, or participated in a walk-a-thon for some cause; and invariably the person doing the "good deed" also emotionally blubbers how it makes them "feel good" to have done the good deed. Whenever I see that, I always wonder to myself, for WHOSE BENEFIT were they doing the deed? The person in need, or their own? To pump up themselves in their own goodness and self-righteousness. Jesus said of those who brag of their good deeds, "They have their reward" (Mt6:2)
But when a person does something for righteousness, out of the pure motives of the heart as unto God, it "rejoices the heart" (Ps19:8) It's like the old song, "Nothing between my soul and the Savior" There is nothing nagging at the conscience, knowing the Lord's discipline is not due; but joy in His presence.
Please read these verses to glean every little bit from them; we will not address every little point right now; there's enough in this one chapter for several studies, but we're only doing one at this time.
But the ways of God are "more to be desired than gold" and is tastier than the tastiest food. (vs10)
But also notice that in God's ways is "warning". (vs11) If we wish to "endure forever" we must keep the "fear" of God, keeping "clean". Clean from what? The filth of the sin of this world. Somewhat like when walking along with children near a mud puddle: Watch out! Stay away from the mud. Don't get your clothes dirty. Here, take my hand and stick close to me.
Children don't always 'understand' consequences. And we as "dust" (Ps103:14) don't always understand God's ways. We don't always realize when we stray from the path, and get 'mud' on our new shoes. So the psalmist asks: "Acquit me of that which is hidden" (vs12)
Israel had a special sacrifice they would offer, regularly, generically, for the entire congregation, for sins committed "unintentionally". (Leviticus ch4) God's mercy and cleansing for sins committed in ignorance. Paul proclaims to the Gentiles, "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent," (Ac17:30)
Well, the psalmist is going even deeper than merely repenting. Anybody can say, "I'm sorry...for what? I don't know...but I'm sorry", somewhat like the churches related to Rome will include a generic congregational confession during their worship, and then the priest/pastor "absolves" them of their sins by the mere fact that he has "Reverend" in front of his name. But here the psalmist is asking God to dig into his -own- heart, specifically, to root out anything that is "hidden", even from himself.
How many, after they leave typical church services, where they were clergically 'absolved', leave with -pride- in their hearts: I went to church, now I'm "OK for another week", la dee dah! See how wonderful I am?
But the psalmist requests: "restrain Your servant from arrogance" (vs13a) Do not let the "hidden" sins "rule over me. Then I shall be perfect, and I shall be innocent of great transgression" (vs13)
Where did all this start? Declaration of God's glory. How many people, when they limit themselves to the first couple verses, conclude within themselves just how great -they- (individually) are, because God is so awesome. They raise their hands and sing, "Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from Heaven above..." while within their own hearts they are thinking, "and how awesome are we, for -worshiping- in this manner"
But when the "sweet psalmist of Israel" (2Sa23:1) considers God's grandeur, it is, "what is man that You are mindful of him?" (8:4) Why does God even take note of something so insignificant as sinful rotten dirty man?! When Peter saw Jesus' power in the catch of fish, he does not stand up, raise his hands and 'praise', but bows down, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" (Lk5:8)
It is in -this- context (this next verse is not a 'praise' verse like so many proudly recite), of David requesting God to weed out every secret hidden filth that he might not even be aware of, that he then utters...
How did Samuel respond when God called?
Re: Behold the Man! (Psalm 22)
This study written in another context is located at another place at the website.
Please click to go there - and a link there will return you to this spot, in sequence.
Please click to go there - and a link there will return you to this spot, in sequence.
Re: the Lord is my Shepherd (Psalm 23)
"Jehovah is my Shepherd; I shall not want" (vs1)
Please excuse as I say part of this next sentence grammatically incorrectly and 'dangle' a preposition, but: as we begin to look at this (likely) most 'famous' of all Psalms, WHO IS IT -FOR-?
Who do most people think it's for? And for what purpose is it used? Typically... for the dead. Is it possibly the most-used passage at western funerals where 'clergy' is involved in the "ashes to ashes" ritual?
The world uses it like they do some other things. A song that used to be a 'blessed' song, since 9/11 has become loathsome and odious to me at the mere sound of it; not because the song itself suddenly -became- 'bad', but because the unregenerate have usurped it and had the audacity to presume it belongs to them and their victim-dead... "Amazing Grace" Or if they are experiencing a crisis, they gather around, bow their heads, and jointly recite what they call "the Lord's prayer". They recite the Lord's prayer in crisis, and when people have died they sing (or bagpipe) Amazing Grace and read the 23rd Psalm. They try to presume (in their unregenerate state) that the Most High (in whom they don't believe) is -their- "father in heaven". They presume, even though they reject Jesus Christ, that His grace has "saved a wretch like [them]" even though they have refused to repent of their sin and receive Christ; and don't really believe they actually are 'wretches', but are filled with prideful self-esteem. And when they have gone "through the valley of the shadow of death" that the Lord is [their] Shepherd. Hocus pocus, mumbo jumbo, dominos dominos who's got the dominos, quote some Scripture and Voila! Sh'zamm!! The dead person, who was a scoundrel during life, is now pronounced to be in Heaven, having been (allegedly) one of "God's children".
Isn't it amazing, too (while we're on this subject) how, now that the scumbag is pronounced to be "in heaven" (a place that many of them don't actually believe exists), they also comfort themselves with the notion that the dearly-departed hasn't really left, but is here "with them", in their hearts and spirits; to 'guide' them! Who is He who is with the Believer? The Holy Spirit. So, in other words, they have taken on the pagan eastern notion of "deification" of the dead. If I'm not mistaken, isn't that what Buddhism does? Ancestor worship.
However in truth, this psalm, and everything it contains, is -only- for those who can legitimately and rightfully claim that the Lord is -MY- Shepherd. Nobody else.
There was a story told years ago from somebody's pulpit, I forget now whose, when I was a youth. And I don't remember the details. And don't know if it was actually a 'true' story, or merely made up for its emotional 'punch' for the purpose of the man's sermon. (There's many such stories floating around out there. If you can authenticate this one, please let me know.) But there was a family in which the parents were teaching their children about the things of the Lord. And the little fellow was being taught this Psalm, as most children in Godly homes learn to memorize it. In the KJV the first sentence/phrase contains five words, and so the child was learning those five words while touching the fingers of the hand, starting with the thumb. Being Godly parents, of course, they wished for their children to also receive Christ in Salvation. But they didn't want to 'push' the matter unless their little hearts were ready in understanding
Well, as it so-happened, they lived in one of the northern states. In my youth I grew up in N.Dakota, which is also where I heard the story. So, perhaps it happened in N.Dakota or northern Minnesota? Perhaps a Canadian province? The winters can get cold and brutal. And so, the blizzard came along... perhaps what in recent years has become known as an "Alberta Clipper"? One minute it can be relatively 'balmy' (for winter), and within just a couple of minutes the storm front plows through from Canada, the temperature plummets, and the snow howls...often in white-out conditions. (e.g. One winter in Grand Forks we came out of one store, the sun shining brightly with a few snow flakes whisping in the air, and by the time we had gotten four blocks down the street to our next shopping destination, the sun had disappeared, the wind was howling and good-sized drifts were already beginning to form) And the little boy was 'lost' in the storm. A couple of days after the storm was over, they went out looking, and found the boy's body, frozen solid in the snow bank. But the fingers of one hand wrapped tightly around the 4th finger of the other. As the little boy was breathing his last, apparently, "the lord is -MY- shepherd" The family taking that as a proclamation or testimony of the little boy's "Salvation" before he died.
Yes, during a sermon if told well such a story can be a real tear-jerker, and become the basis to migrate over to the "invitation".
But that is the whole point of the opening statement. God is not some distant entity waaaay out there somewhere, unreachable. But to the one who knows the Lord, He is -MY- Shepherd. And the rest of the psalm describes the nature of that relationship.
For the unregenerate world there are essentially two kinds of deities: the 1) disjunct, and the 2) god-within. For a major segment of the world the concept of "god" is some disjunct entity dwelling billions of light years away at the remotest edges of the universe. Not to be 'picking' on the man again, but this is what Jack Van Impi proclaims: that the 1st heaven is our atmosphere, the 2nd heaven is the universe (so far: correct), and the 3rd Heaven that Paul talks about (2Co12:2) is "beyond that" (in -physical- distance, he says) beyond the farthest star and galaxy.
For the truth of the matter please see: "Heaven: What is it?"
But then as eastern mysticism, the "consecration from the east" (Is2:6), has made greater inroads into the western mind, Hindu's Transcendental Meditation and Yoga have worked their way, and even that which calls itself the 'church' has adapted it and modified their (rowdy) "spirit-filled" -worship- into a more calm "contemplative spirituality", their god is now "within" themselves. They are their own gods.
The psalmist's God, Jehovah the Most High, -MY- Shepherd, is -neither- of these....
This is not to endorse the works of Ralph Carmichael, but back in the 70s he wrote a (light jazz/rock) song with a version of this verse (The "new 23rd"): "Because the Lord is my Shepherd I have everything that I nee-e-eed" In actuality, that is what the verse means. "I shall not want" is an older English expression meaning, "to not be wanting for anything"... or be "lacking" any necessity.
The psalmist says, "I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." (Ps37:25) Paul says, "And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content." (1Tim6:8) "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content." (Php4:11)
The word "want" does NOT support today's "prosperity" theology that suggests a christian is intended to be wealthy, having been showered with all this world's goods. I 'want' that speed boat, therefore because the Lord is my Shepherd, I'm going to get it. NO!
But as Jesus taught: "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Mt6:30-34)
"He makes me to lie down in green pastures" (vs2a) Cattle, when they are uneasy due to some perceived threat, or their master is in a fit and yelling at them, do not lie down. They stand, and often pace around restlessly, bleating or lowing. But when things are peaceful and quiet, they will lie down. They've had their fill of the plentiful pasture, and are now resting, letting things digest. Cows will be calmly chewing their cud.
Oh, by the way: What's the difference between a gum-chewing girl and a cud-chewing cow? "Behold, the look of contentment on the face of the cow!" (Sorry ladies! -smile- That joke is as old as the hills, and just seemed 'appropriate' here...)
KJV says, He leads(eth) me beside "still waters" (vs2b) Many sermons have been preached on how non-turbulent waters keep from getting the sheep's wool wet, getting them all soaked up like a sponge, water-logged, heavy, to where the sheep can't get out, and they drown. But the waters "of rest" go hand-in-hand with "lying down".
Jesus would take the disciples away from the tumult of the crowds, "Come apart by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." (Mk6:31) This is what He does for the Believer. The necessities of life are provided. There is enough food that we can lie down in rest, next to refreshing waters.
"He restores my soul" (vs3a) This I understand well. The word "restore" indicates that something is presently not what it once was, but is 'refurbished' to make it "like new" again. People speak of "restoring" old cars or furniture. They take something that is rusting out, falling apart, and effect repairs to fix it up. Perhaps today there are improved materials compared to when it was first manufactured, so the restoration, then, is said to make it "better than new".
This is what God does. You who know a bit of my life know about the low point when I was made single again. During the following weeks a couple of people claiming to be "christians" fed me John Bradshaw paganism, thinking to raise up my self-esteem. Others, claiming to be 'friends', lied to me and stabbed me in the back, while pretending to be 'supportive'. Various people of the world had their own comments. But the only thing (Person) who actually "restored" my soul was the Lord Jesus, Himself...within my soul and within my heart. Something that was possible only because I "knew the Lord". And the actual restorative process I cannot explain and describe, because it was between the Lord and me, lying down in the green pasture, taking in of His waters of rest. But the overwhelming thing... He made my heart understand, even in the midst of gut-wrenching sorrow, how much He loved me!
This restoration made me "better-than-new" in terms of the "paths of righteousness" (vs3b) That's why I said it was for my soul and heart. (Some of you will remember my testimony up to that point of having been in 'compromise' due to listening to flawed advice, to become more "tolerant" of the apostasy that was underway in the 70s.) And that's why the two are connected in the same verse. A person of the world may be viewed as having a good soul, as others see them; but their heart is still in sin. But when the Lord gets hold of a person, He doesn't stop with the soul, but the change is a -complete- (and 'extreme') "makeover". What good is it for the soul to be whole, if the spirit is rotten in sin? It's a complete package.
That's why, if you see somebody who claims to have had a "rebirth" of their soul and they now seem like a 'nice' person, but they are still trudging down the path of wickedness: they still embrace rock music for worship, and other things of the world's putrefaction; you -know- it was NOT "Jehovah my Shepherd" who made those changes. When it is the Lord restoring the soul, He does the job right. He doesn't stop with the soul, but also cleans out the spirit and directs the person onto the paths of righteousness "because of His great name".
Not like that group who came into the Chinese restaurant the other day, as I was finishing up my meal...wearing black, bedecked with chains and studs, all sorts of areas covered with piercings, extreme makeup, hair dyed and spiky. (I didn't want to 'stare', but I think the one had a dozen pierced rings lined up through the lower lip (I don't know 'how' they eat with those!), and that was the smaller percentage of their total pierced coverage!) When I got outside to get on the bike to come home, I had a better look at the vehicle they were driving: in one place it said in big letters, "I [heart] Jesus" and pretty much the rest of the vehicle was all cluttered up with sexually explicit comments that would not be appropriate to repeat here. Some that I had not even seen before on public restroom walls. I don't know who -their- "Jesus" is, but it is not the same Person who -restored- my soul, and re-directed me onto the righteous path.
"..the valley of the shadow of death" (vs4a) Most people think of that as "death"; which is why this psalm is used at funerals so much. But, when was the last time you saw a dead person "walk"? In Scripture the word "walk" is often connected to the concept of our earthly life. We live day-to-day, we walk. Israel's heritage from Abraham was that of a nomadic life, following the livestock wherever they needed to be to find pasture. So, as the cattle moved, so did the people...following/leading them...walking. That was the nature of their lives; their walk.
But life often does take us near death's door. And we don't know what's on the other side of that door, and many are fearful. As God asked Job: "Have the gates of death been disclosed to you? Or have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?" (Job38:17) But even when life's circumstances bring us to what appears to be that place, the Believer "fears no evil". Why? Because God is -MY- Shepherd, and He is with me. When Paul and Silas found themselves in prison, where the next phase 'could' be death, they sang songs. (Ac16:25) And when Paul was on trial, for his life, and all his friends had deserted him, he says, "But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me" (2Tim4:17)
"Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me" (vs4b) When the sheep are in the corral, all bunched together, bleating, chasing each other in circles because they are scared and confused; the shepherd reaches down with the staff, gives a nudge to the 'lead' sheep as to the 'direction' they should go, and the rest follow. When the sheep are on the move and one isn't feeling so good, the shepherd comes along and gives a nudge with the rod..."get up, get moving". We've mentioned in other contexts, but: the word "comfort" isn't so much the Shepherd coming along, putting His arm around the shoulder and going, "There, there", but it is an older English expression like when knights were fighting, and one had fallen...another knight might come along, and from his perch on his horse, reach down with his lance and prod the fallen comrade, "C'mon, get up!"
God doesn't promise sunshine, roses and rainbows once we become His followers. Jesus promised, "in the world you have affliction; but be of good courage, I have overcome the world" (Jn16:33) God doesn't take us "out of the world" (Jn17:15), but He "prepares a table for [us] in the presence of [our] enemies" (vs5a) Some of the most blessed times in the Word, and preparing these studies is when it seems 'everybody' on the phone is cranky, and horns are blaring in traffic out my front window, and everything around me in the building is all a-stir and I can hear it through these 'thin' walls. I've never experienced imprisonment or torture for the Faith, but know what church 'politics' are; and know what it is to be overflowing in the spirit with the Lord's blessing in the midst of the turmoils.
Perhaps -some- of the mention of the "valley of the shadow of death" -is- physical death? Since God speaks to Job about the "gates of death". What do people typically do with gates? -Walk- through them. In other words, physical death is not Death for the Believer, but a walking from this life into the "house of Jehovah" where God's "goodness and mercy" follow us through this life, and "forever". (vs6)
Who knows 'when' these psalms were written, relative to each other. But isn't it interesting how 23 follows 22 in their arrangement.
"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." (Heb4:15) "For in that He Himself has suffered, being tested, He is able to help those who are tested." (Heb2:18)
On this earth sheep and shepherds are different. A person cannot fully know what a sheep is thinking; but deals with sheep according to their behavior, and their own needs to raise the sheep for profit, meat and wool.
But -MY- Shepherd became a man. He came "in the flesh" (1Jn4:2) He "shared in the same" as "flesh and blood" (Heb2:14) He suffered the worst that the world could hurl upon Him. (ch22) And thus, He is intimately acquainted with what our lives are like, to know what our needs are, to give us "rest". (ch23) And when He prods us with his staff, He is not expecting anything that He himself did not go through. When we have affliction, and He says "be of good courage", those are not empty words, because He also says, "I have overcome the world" (Jn16:33) The promises of ch23 would be empty words without His having gone before and led the way in ch22.
But again, all this is only for those who can claim the Lord is -MY- Shepherd, who have a "new name" (Rev2:17), whom the Shepherd "calls His own sheep by name and leads them out" (Jn10:3)
Re: Clean Hands - Pure Heart (Psalm 24)
"Who shall go up into the hill of Jehovah? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully." (vs3-4)
Just as ch23 follows rightfully ch22, so too ch24 follows ch23. If the Lord is -MY- Shepherd, I'm a Believer, and have the promise of "forever" in the "house of Jehovah"... then what? The Great Shepherd (Heb13:20) first gave His life to redeem us (ch22), and provides for and leads us (ch23)... Is there any responsibility on our part? Or is it a free ride, with no obligations or qualifications?
Does God invite, "Come just as you are"? It doesn't matter where you've been or what you've done; in order to come to God you "don't need to change a thing" Is that God's invitation? Listening to a predominance of today's pastors and preachers, one would think that was the case.
As we often suggest from time to time, about various certain passages here and there: If all the rest of the Bible were somehow destroyed, and all we had left was these two verses, these two verses, by themselves, are sufficient for a follower of the Most High to know 'how' to comport themself before the Almighty.
What is the question? Who is qualified to go up to the "hill of Jehovah"? What is that talking about? Going up to God's temple. In David's time that became the Temple Mount, the place dedicated for Solomon to build the temple. A representation of God's presence in the midst of His people. A place where people would turn their attention in prayer. (1Ki9:3, 2Ch6:6,20, Dan6:10)
"Who shall stand in His holy place?" That's the temple. There was the holy place; and there was also the holy of holies where only the high priest went once a year. The entire temple courtyard, where they offered sacrifices was holy. People would come there, leading their sacrificial animals, that were then slaughtered, roasted/boiled, and eaten. Some of the "sin" offerings were totally burned, and not eaten. Whatever the case, the people would come to have the priests make atonement on their behalf through the sacrifices.
But how did the people come to the temple? All slovenly and dirty? After all, certainly butchering of the animals was a messy smelly process: blood, guts and gore.
As God came down to Sinai to give the Law he commands Israel to prepare for the event. How? God told them that they would be a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex20:6) and that they should be "sanctified" and to "wash their clothes" (vs10) For the priests, in preparation for their duties, they were to wash, shave and wash their clothes. (Num8:7)
Everything physical in the OT was 'symbolic' of the spiritual. Washing: getting rid of the stains and dirt of this earthly life. Coming to God 'clean'. If a person were planning to meet the president or some other famous person, would they not clean up, put on clean clothes, comb their hair, etc and make themselves "presentable"? Why? Out of 'respect'.
Is not the Most High greater than any earthly individual? This psalm starts out proclaiming God's grandeur in creation, and closes with a proclamation that He is the "King of Glory" He not only leads some nation (Israel) of this world, but is "Jehovah of Hosts" of all the heavens. Thus, is He not deserving of the utmost 'respect'?
But the thing Israel never 'got' back then, and still does not today, is that God is not as much concerned about, "Did you wash your hands?" But so much more. Today Judaism has many rituals regarding dancing at certain holidays with their "Torah Scrolls", and the Passover "seder", and all sorts of things with the strings of hair coming off their beards, wearing caps on their heads, bobbing the heads and bodies back and forth in what they call "prayer"... and if a person were to study it all, one wonders how many such rituals they have? They are devout "Jews", but they do not know the "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (Ex3:15) They do not have full possession of their God-given land today because they are yet in "unbelief" (Heb3:19) This unbelief being portrayed most prominantly in their flag, the pagan hexagram, which they call the "star of David".
They pay attention to their man-made rituals (Mk7:4,9-13), they have "clean hands", but ignore the rest. When they wash their hands, other people can see that their hands are washed: they are "seen by men" (Mt6:5) But Jesus taught them (the Jews) to "go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret" (vs6) The "pure heart" is something that other people cannot see, but is what God sees. (Heb4:12-13, Ps44:21, 139:23, Lk16:15, etc)
"Has not lifted up his soul to vanity" What does that mean? That he is not 'proud'? Well, we can certainly understand such a thing from many passages. But most specifically, idols were also called, "vain idols" (Jer14:22) or "vanities" (De32:21, 1Sa12:21, 1Ki16:13, etc) And among other things, this was likely Israel's #1 sin (as a nation). The reason for which God dispersed them throughout the nations. Even as the exiles have been taken to Babylon, those who remained -insisted- stubbornly that they would "not give heed" to God's warnings, but they "will prepare" to do all their activities associated in worship of the Queen of Heaven. (Jer44:16-17) Their hearts were not pure, their souls were lifted up to vanities. Thus, what was one of God's judgments? Their beloved gold-encrusted temple was demolished. They were unworthy in their hearts to come before Him, and in fact had been desecrating the temple with pagan idols and sacrifices, which had been cleansed a couple of times under Hezekiah and Josiah. So God had "Nebuchadnezzar...My servant" come and do His bidding (Jer25:9,27:6, 2Ch36:7) and destroy it totally.
"Nor sworn deceitfully" Didn't Jesus exhort, "do not swear at all"? (Mt5:34) This is a different kind of swear. This is more like what preachers today call "commitment". Today's "gospel" in many circles consists merely of "making commitments". They did this in Jeremiah's day, too, and God says, "And though they say, As Jehovah lives; surely they swear falsely." (Jer5:2) Israel would express their 'solidarity' of soul and spirit with God with the expression, "As Jehovah lives" (2Ki2:6, 5:6, 2Ch18:13, Jer12:16) But they were stealing, murdering, committing adultery, worshiping Baal and other deities, and then "come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, We are delivered (it's OK) to do all those abominations" (Jer7:9-10)
When they were swearing, they were doing so deceitfully. They were lying. They were coming and reciting the "shama", "Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God, Jehovah is One" (De6:4) ...after having just been to the temple of Baal, after having violated their neighbor's wives, and all sorts of things.
They may have 'ritually' washed their hands (that everybody else could see), they were clean of the "appearance" of evil (1Th5:22 KJV); but their hearts were not pure, they were engaged in many "forms" (kinds) of evil. (1Th5:22)
God's law says to keep the unclean out. When Joash became king, Jehoiada the priest "stationed the gatekeepers at the gates of the house of Jehovah, so that no one who was in any way unclean could enter." (2Ch23:19) Today, all else being equal, that would be guards armed with machine guns, stationed at the entrance of the church building, to keep the unclean out: the unsaved (1Co7:14, Tit3:5) and unrepentant carnal christians (1Co5:11)
Is it now easier to understand something that's been said around here from time to time: If a person is "going forward" at an invitation for -genuine- 'salvation'; they were not saved during the prayer with the counselor; but they were saved before they ever got out of their seat to 'respond' to the call. The rest of the congregation may observe the 'clean hands' of the trek 'forward', but their heart became "pure" while they were still sitting down. If their conversion is without deceit, it was the pure heart that drove them forward, at which point their hands got cleaned.
And, if a person's heart was truly purified, and their hands were cleaned, they are not going to further worship their pagan idols, whatever their nature. If they keep dirtying their hands with the world's filth, it's a sure sign that their hearts were not pure, and their swearing is deceitful. They didn't -really- "get saved". They have no business being in the congregation of True Believers of Jesus Christ.
And also, if you hear a preacher inviting to come "just as you are" (filth and all), you -know- they are a false prophet... based on this passage. God's holiness does not countenance idolatry and a lying heart. They may be a preacher of something....but what they are pastoring is not Christ's Church.
Do you ever wonder why some specific "church" doesn't seem to be "blessed" of God? It is because they are not following these principles: of God's holy presence being approached by Believers who are keeping themselves "holy in all conduct" (1Pet1:15)
When there is holiness (by definition: SEPARATION from the world's evil) and the devotion of an honest heart, "He shall receive the blessing from Jehovah, and righteousness from the God of his salvation" (vs5)
Re: Judge me (Psalm 26)
"Judge me, O Jehovah, for I have walked in my integrity. I have trusted also in Jehovah; I shall not slip" (vs1)
Job asks the question, "..how can a man be just before the Mighty God?" (Job9:2) "..or how can one be pure who is born of woman?" (25:4)
What does the psalmist answer? "I have trusted also in Jehovah" If one reads through Job's arguments, he spent a lot of time being "righteous in his own eyes" and "justifying his soul more than God" (32:1-2) Job trusted in his own "integrity". Notice the psalmist does so, too; but "also" he trusted in the Lord. He speaks often of "trusting" in God. (Ps4:5, 31:6, 37:3, etc) Something his son learned as wisdom, to "Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding" (Pr3:5) The words "trust" and "lean" being related concepts.
David often requested of God to "judge" him; to "examine" him; to "prove" him. (vs2)(Ps139:23-24)
How is something -judged- to be either good or bad? How is a component quality-checked? By running it through tests. Does it work? When it works, does it meet spec? If it's out-of-spec is it adjustable to bring it into spec? If it is a metal being smelt, the impurities rise to the top and are scraped off, or if they are heavier the pure is poured out in its molten state, leaving the dregs in the bottom.
In other words, what is David asking for? To be run through the wringer. To be crushed to separate out the chaff. To be sifted to let the impurities fall away. To be heated up to melting to scrape away the dross. The desire for purity.
There is a company near here that builds 'rugged' laptop computers, specializing in military application. When they 'test' their designs they purposely drop them, drive over them with huge vehicles, toss them around, let them knock into things as they are tossed. They do all sorts of things, whatever they can think of, to try to damage them. Why? Because in a military application, in the middle of combat, where so much is done with technology these days, one thing the life of the soldier depends on is the ruggedness of the equipment, so it doesn't break down at a critical life-or-death situation. If such testing isn't done, it is not known whether or not the equipment is rightly suited to the intended application.
Some of the things the psalmist asks God to take a look at: the fact that he doesn't spend time with idolators nor hypocrites. He has not fellowshiped with evildoers and the wicked. He has washed his hands of them. (vs4-6)
But... are we not supposed to work towards "unity"? If there are differences, are we not to "dialogue" with others, and learn their 'point-of-view'? If David is not fellowshiping with the "assembly" of evildoers, how would he answer the exhortation, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together" (Heb10:25) Are we not to be "not so critical" of our "brothers", but worship together? After all, doesn't the psalmist also say, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Ps133:1) ??
But here he reminds God how he has kept himself -SEPARATE- FROM THEM. To what end?
"..THUS...I will go around Your altar, O Jehovah, so that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your marvelous works" (vs6-7)
David does not 'join together' with apostates, and call it Ecumenical Joint Worship. NO!!! He -SEPARATES- himself from the apostates, IN ORDER THAT he can be -PURIFIED- to be RIGHTLY QUALIFIED to come before God's presence.
He does not dress provocatively and sensuously, nor does he dance suggestively to pagan drum beats. He does not invite, "Y'all come now, y' hear?"
He does not bemoan, "Oh, I am sooo starving for fellowship" but rather requests of God, "Do not take away my soul with sinners, nor my life with men of blood, in whose hands is an evil plot, and their right hand is full of bribes" (vs9-10)
If we understand that the Song of Solomon also has 'parallels' to the Believer's relationship with the Lord: if the Shulamite's lover "stands out among ten thousand" (SS5:10), why would we desire the company of lying evildoers, when we can have fellowship with the Lord...even if that fellowship is 'alone', just us (the individual) and the Lord? Such singular fellowship is worth 'ten thousand' -people-!
If we are not -separated- from the apostates, we CANNOT have fellowship with the Lord. The psalmist says he has made all these separations "SO THAT I MAY PROCLAIM with the voice of thanksgiving..." (vs7) The way this is written, it is an 'understood' that, if he did not separate himself from evil, he would not have the right to proclaim God's praises. In fact, Paul understands the qualifier of God's "and I will receive you" being tied to the premise that we "Come out from among them and be separate...Do not touch what is unclean" (2Co6:17) In other words: If we don't separate ourselves out, God does not receive us.
Why is it that today's "church" does not understand this? If -you- (dear reader) are questioning this, because you are hearing so many other things of 'all-inclusivity' taught in 'church', have you considered that, perhaps, it is not really Christ's [C]hurch? Paul said of apostate Israel: "For not all those of Israel are Israel" (Rom9:6b) Again, as we say around here repeatedly: Not all the [c]hurch is the [C]hurch of Jesus Christ.
But David says, "My foot stands in an even place..." (vs12a)
Like Paul says, "Nevertheless the SOLID FOUNDATION of God STANDS FIRM, having this seal: The Lord knows those who are His, and, Let everyone who names the name of Christ DEPART FROM INIQUITY." (2Tim2:19)
Today's apostasy squirms at the concept of "right and wrong", black vs white, good vs evil. They like to mush around in murky "gray areas". There is no right or wrong, everybody do your own thing.
But "blessing Jehovah" (vs12b), praise and worship can only occur when a purified Believer is standing on an "even place", the "solid foundation" within the context of self-examination and separation from evil and evildoers, not having fellowship "with the unfruitful works of darkness" (Eph5:11)
"Judge me" (vs1a) Sooo 'judgmental', you say? (and here I thought that Psalms is all about happy-happy 'praise' and dancing??) Indeed!
In such a place "I shall not slip" (vs1b)
Re: In This I have Confidence (Psalm 27)
"Jehovah is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Jehovah is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an army should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this I have confidence." (vs1-3)
In the "Sound of Music" Julie Andrews (Maria) excitedly skips and dances her way along the path to the new governess job, and as she approaches the gate to the mansion is singing along merrily, "I have confidence in confidence alone!" and arrives at the gate and stares wide-eyed, seeing the reality of what she has just gotten herself into. Today's world teaches us to have self-esteem, you go girl, you can do it; look inside for that "inner strength". Feminism tells the woman she can do anything, "Because we're wymin"; and men are told...well...they're made out to be buffoons grovelling under the militance of the woman (that's another subject!) The world meditates, and those calling themselves 'christian' "pray-up-walls" around themselves ...of (alleged) 'protection'.
As we observed, the last few chapters have followed each other, along a developing orderly topical path. And it seems this one is no different. In the previous chapter the psalmist has removed himself from evil and evildoers, and as a result has the purity necessary to proclaim God's praises.
That same purity is the basis for the Lord's protection from enemies. We won't repeat the opening verses; but notice where David's heart is. What his desires are. What is at the top of David's list? What is the "one thing" that is most important to him?
"That I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Jehovah, and to inquire in His temple" (vs4)
And what was the requirement for access to God's house? "Clean hands and a pure heart" (24:4)
David understood a basic concept where God is concerned. His success on the battlefield was not his own abilities, but God's strength. Any project a person does, if it is not of God, is doomed to failure.
"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of Jehovah our God." (Ps20:7) "Unless Jehovah builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless Jehovah guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." (Ps127:1)
We won't address all the 'famous' aspects of this psalm: the -ways- in which God protects; nor the drama of the classical song that is written to it. You can read those for yourself. (This is a 'walk-thru', not a verse-by-verse detailed series) But notice how, when David needs help, to whom does he call for help? "Hear, O Jehovah, when I cry out with my voice, and have mercy upon me and answer me" (vs7)
And how can he presume to make this request? Because of his relationship with God: "When You say, Seek My face, my heart has said unto You, Your face, O Jehovah, I will seek" (vs8) Notice the verb tense there: my heart HAS SAID unto You. In other words, its a 'standing order' in David's heart, that he has made arrangments for in the past, to seek God's face. He has -already- asked for God's purifying, and sorting out anything amiss. He has -already- cleansed his hands. He is -already- in the place of "waiting upon Jehovah" (vs14a) So when God says, Seek My face, David is already there: I'm here. Like Samuel, "Speak, for Your servant is listening" (1Sa3:10) Once Jesus had gotten S/Paul's attention: "What do You have in mind for me to do?" (Ac9:6)
David also has past experience from which to draw. "YOU HAVE BEEN MY HELP; do not leave me, nor forsake me, O God of my salvation" (vs9) He is 'remembering' what God has done in the past, so he knows what to expect in the future. Something Israel did not do very well; God had exhorted them, "You shall remember..." the various things God did for you. (De8:2,18, 15:15, 16:12, etc) But they would regularly forget, and go astray.
God's help is greater than anything humans are capable of. Is it not assumed by many that the parent/child bond is the strongest on earth. By God's design it is supposed to be husband/wife (Ge2:24); but man has belittled that relationship... some parents even work hard to tear apart the marriage of their children, if they got it into their heads that they didn't like the son/daughter-in-law. But even if father or mother desert the child; which Jesus promised would often be the cost of following Him (Mt10:34-37); "...then Jehovah will gather me up" (vs10)
Notice the wording, "gather me up". Remember how it is -MY- Shepherd who "restores my soul". (23:3) Sometimes that soul-restoration involves 'gathering' up all the 'pieces' of a shattered life. And yes, sometimes it is "father and mother" who have done most of the shattering. Those in whom the child had put their trust, because they gave them birth and initial nurturing in the formative years, the child comes to understand the unthinkable, the incomprehensible... that "dad and mom are real scoundrels!" This is not concluded with lack-of-respect. It is "respect" that has kept the child blind for so long. But finally the inevitable 'truth' makes its way into the understanding.
Well... God has known the truth all along... so now He comes along and 'scoops' up all the shattered shards. And yes (it's in the same context, the same chapter): Hides us in the security and safety of His "den", His "tent". (vs5) This protection is also from "false witnesses" and those who "breathe out violence" (vs12) David had military/political enemies. But he also speaks of "father and mother"; and indeed, in that scenario they do call out their spies and "false witnesses". I learned in a personal way about family and their perverse ways: "Do not believe them, though they speak pleasant things to you" (Jer12:6b) And it is in just such contexts that we learn ch23's lesson, the Lord "restoring our soul" and redirecting us onto the "paths of righteousness". These times of building us up often come in the context of great adversity; just like that laptop gets thrown around and driven over, to see how tough it is, to (if necessary) make modifications to beef it up.
Thus... this care from the Lord is in the context of the psalmist's -continuing- desire: "Teach me Your way, O Jehovah, and lead me in a plain path" (vs11)
But also: God's protection is not something that we make -demands- of God... Help me RIGHT NOW!! Perhaps some of the adversity is a "test"? Saul failed the test, and the kingdom went to David. Saul was supposed to 'wait' for Samuel to come and offer the sacrifice before going out to battle. The enemy closes in and his own troops are beginning to desert, so instead of waiting, no matter what at God's command, he takes it upon himself to offer the offering. And 'then', Samuel shows up. (1Sa13) Saul excuses his actions, "I forced myself..." to do it. (vs12)
David is the one God had in mind, as Samuel is speaking to Saul, who was "after [God's] own heart" (vs14) And in this psalm we see that -heart-.
"Wait upon Jehovah; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart..." (vs14)
Now... just in case you didn't get it... you're already forgetting...? Perhaps out of self-imposed 'desparation' you are running around in circles, chasing your tail at 90 mph... SLOW DOWN... STOP... and...
"..wait, I say, upon Jehovah!"
Re: Ascribe to Jehovah (Psalm 29)
Ascribe means: to attribute, to assign. It also means: to scribble or scribe; or as we might think of it: to write.
In other words we might say, to 1) proclaim and 2) make it official.
For instance, a person might say to another: I deed my property to you, and the recipient could say, "Thank you!" But if that is all the further it goes, there could be potential for legal dispute in the future. So the one making the deed also draws up the documents and the transaction is written down, signed, witnessed and sealed. As it is recorded when Abraham purchased the plot of land in which to bury Sarah: they not only verbally agreed, but it was "deeded" (Gen23:17-20) Jasher explains further, "Abraham wrote this transaction, and he wrote it and testified it with four witnesses. And these are the names of the witnesses... And Abraham took the book of the purchase, and placed it in his treasures..." (Jas24:7-9)
When we think of "worship" of the Most High, are not the qualities listed in this psalm the things we think of? Glory, strength, holiness, might, majesty, eternal.
How does today's 'church' worship, typically, when addressing these qualities? The eyelids go into spasms of fluttering, the body goes limp, hands or arms are lazily raised, propping the elbows against the ribs, people get into a swoony state, sighing, dreamily singing along to the pulsations of demonic jungle rhythms; or perhaps they also jump around, wiggling their bodies after the manner of ancient fertility rites, as they are accustomed to doing at their worldly orgie dance parties.
Is that kind of feel-good sensuality, what it means to "ascribe"? If someone is signing legal papers related to things of major importance to one's life, at the court house, attorney's office, or at the desk of the clerk of court beside the judge's chair, is that how they behave? Is it not a time and occasion of serious contemplation? One is making promises to which they are affixing their signature; the breach of which might carry serious and dire consequences.
It is unfortunate that most translations have not made the word in vs2 current, having retained the word "worship". When they say "WORSHIP the Lord in the beauty of holiness" they assume that they are "beautiful" people for being 'happy' and 'jolly' and being vocally exuberant. That's what they think "worship" means. To them it is a feel-good experience, where they leave the building -feeling- all "pumped-up" with "batteries charged up" for another week.
But it's not about -us-! It's about God Most High!
Nor are we "GIVING" these qualities -to- the Most High, since it is "in Him we live and move and exist" (Ac17:28) That word in the Hebrew has several meanings: and while "give" is technically correct, as one of the several definitions, it is not contextually correct, nor does it agree with what we know from the rest of Scripture of the nature of God, nor our place and position before Him. We are not little self-made gods, 'bestowing' these qualities upon the Most High. One who would "give" such things is presumed to be 'greater' than the one to whom they are being given. The Most High already -is- these things! He is the One who "upholds all things by the Word of His power" (Heb1:3)
Rather, we "bow down before Jehovah" That's what "worship" meant originally back in the days of the KJV, etc. A subject would come before the king; bowing, bending the knee, prostrating on the ground, etc., uttering the acknowledgment of profound respect, "Your worship" The word being a compound of the two words, "worth" and the titular "ship".
For instance, if a person is another's "partner", the position is a partner-ship. The subject is bowing to the king and acknowledging his "worth"; thus, "worth-ship". And with time, "worship". "Worship", bowing and acknowledging the king's elevated place of honor, power, and the other attributes of kings.
To the Most High we not only -bow- and -utter- His "worth", but we also "ascribe" it. We may not draw up a legal "deed" and get signatures on paper; but nevertheless the "intent of the heart" (Heb4:12) is AS IF we were signing and notorizing our acknowledgment and pledge to God.
What is the nature of God Most High? We are reminded, "In the beginning was the Word...and the Word was God...He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. " (Jn1:1-4)
I relish a good boisterous thunderstorm; but many people fear them. Children cry and cower behind their parents, and animals flee to shelter; dogs will whine and wimper with tail between their legs and cats will find a dark hole to crawl into. David likens God's voice to that which most people find fearful, thunder. (see also: 2Sa22:14, Ps18:13) When God appeared on Sinai thunder was part of the scene that people observed, and made them fearful. (Ex19:16, 20:18)
At God's voice the "cedars of Lebanon" are split, and the earth shakes. And yet on the other hand, at His voice the animals skip in the wilderness, and the deer gives birth. Both power and tenderness.
God was at the Flood. Man in his evolutionary 'wisdom', sees evidence of LOTS OF WATER -FLOODING- various places on earth, at some DISTANT TIME in the PAST; but when the Bible speaks of -the- "Flood" at Noah's time, they scoff. As Peter says of the "last days" that they are "willfully ignorant" of all the evidence pointing to the Flood. (2Pet3:3-6) All the evidence for the Flood they view as 'evidence' for evolution; evolution being based on the theory of "uniformitarianism". "What is uniformitarianism?" you ask? Peter defined it 2000 years ago, "For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were since the beginning of creation." (vs4) Whatever the rate of radiometric decay, erosion, sedimentation and movements of tectonic plates today, is what it has always been for the past B/Millions of years.
Today they are worried about "global warming", and they blame it on man's -pollution- of the atmosphere. Back in the 70s there was fear of a coming "ice age", and they blamed it on man's -pollution- of the atmosphere. (That's the era when pollution control devices were first introduced on car engines) They say the earth has warmed up X-number of degrees, and that -man- has caused it. Well, scientists are noting how the polar caps on Mars are also melting, and its temperature has warmed up by about the -same- "X-number" of degrees that earth has. Hmmm. I wonder. Did -man- cause that, too? Man's pollution was leading to a feared "ice age"; but now man's pollution is causing "global warming"? Which is it? Does pollution cause the earth to cool down, or to warm up? It can't be -both-!
Or... perhaps man (and AlGore) isn't in as much conrol over things as he thinks he is! Perhaps God has a 'finger' in it all, at the "voice of Jehovah"!?
I'm looking forward to the day when God levels the mountains and brings them "low" (Is40:4) so that Noah's ancient ark is more down within reach of man's scrutiny, to see and investigate the -proof- of everything the Bible says. The "voice of Jehovah" will bring that about, too.
So, to what do you "ascribe"? Man's godless evolutionary self-sufficient stupidity at which God "laughs" and holds them in "derision" and will "speak to them in His anger, and terrify them in His wrath"? (Ps2:4-5)
Or do you ascribe to God Most High, "your Maker, who has stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth"? (Is51:13)
And yet, where most of mankind will be fearful in those days, and will be crying out to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us...hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne" (Re6:16); the psalmist concludes for the Believer...
Re: Trust in Jehovah (Psalm 31)
Notice that David starts out requesting rescue and defense from God. And it sounds like he is in dire straights: "rescue me quickly" (vs2)
Notice also that David does not request to be made strong, but asks for 'guidance' (vs3), knowing that it is God who is strong: "You are my strength" (vs4)
What is David's dilemma? The "net" that 'they' have laid out for him. (vs4)
Also note: "I have hated those who regard lying vanities; but I trust in Jehovah" (vs6) This sets the stage for the rest of the psalm.
There are some who call this a "Messianic Psalm" due to vs5, "Into Your hand I commit my spirit", since this is what Jesus said while on the cross, as He then "breathed out the spirit" (died) (Lk23:46) It may well be. But it is equally David's own prayer to God in his dilemma, out of which he is seeking God's rescue.
David apparently is in a panic: "For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before Your eyes" (vs22a) In other words: the circumstances as they seem to be unfolding, "I'm a dead man!"
But even though in a panic, David's trust is in God: "Into Your hand I commit my spirit" and again, "My times are in Your hand" (vs15a)
This is a confidence the world does not have. Anyone who does not know the Lord, when they die it is kicking and screaming, "Noooooo!!!" When a person of the world faces death, they seek to flee death at all costs. For them, when they are without God, they have "no hope" (Eph2:12)
But David proclaims to God, "You are my rock.." (vs3) This is something the unbeliever cannot affirm. And furthermore David says, "I have hated those who regard lying vanities; but I trust in Jehovah" (vs6)
Here we get to the root of David's 'emergency', and the 'reason' for the "net" that 'they' have spread for him. Who is 'they'? Who was continually after him to kill him? His "reproach" came from his "neighbors" and "friends" (vs11) as they were "plotting to take away [his] life" (vs13)
Was this the Philistines? The Moabites? The Syrians? No. Fellow Israelites. David had killed Goliath, and Saul had given David his daughter as wife; but King Saul was jealous of David and his standing with God. God had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit had come upon him. (1Sa16:14)
For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it. It is not one who hates me who magnified himself against me, or I would hide myself from him; but it is you, a man my equal, my friend and acquaintance." (Ps55:12-13)
Now, while that passage is also "messianic", speaking of Judas' betrayal of Jesus; it is also David speaking of his own distress.
Throughout the past centuries some of the greatest persecution of True Believers has come from something called "the church"; both that which originates from Rome, as well as that which 'protested' away from it. They both come from Babylon.
We've addressed this in the past. Some of you who read these writings regularly have e-mailed, sharing your own experiences. And I have share some of mine: how that, some of the worst 'persecution' I have ever experienced was NOT from the unregenerate world. If I witnessed on the job, the reactions would vary, from 'interest', to the desire to 'debate', to 'disinterest' and polite shunning of "religious topics", to good-natured ribbing and 'invitations' to join them at the local tavern after work (knowing I would not accept). I've never felt my life being threatened from the world for my Christian testimony. Of course, if I was in a communist or Islamic country, that would be another matter.
But where I was politicked out of churches, the opposition was from pastors, boards-of-elders and managers of so-called "christian" ministries (like a radio station). For what reasons? For sticking to God's Word, not going along with their apostasy, and having the boldness to actually -say- that their ways were not right before God. And regarding "her who lies in your bosom"? Indeed, also, family and inlaws, when not ascribing to their pagan ways, even though they claimed to be "christian"; and ultimately the betrayals of the 'one in the bosom' when it was announced, "Your God and mine are different", as the pursuit was, then, after her -true- (true to her) 'gods' of New Age and Hula.
This is what David had. Even after he became king, the wife he had, Saul's daughter, a fine daughter of Israel, despised his worship before God, and received God's judgment. (2Sa6:16,20-23)
David's persecution came from citizens of Israel; people -claiming- to be followers of God Most High...BECAUSE? ...David worshipped God, and they did not, in truth in their hearts. They performed the periodic rituals (they went to church regularly), even adhering to 'purification' rituals (1Sa20:26) but they did not "love Jehovah [their] God with all [their] heart" (De6:5) Just as Cain killed Abel, because Abel was accepted before God, and even though Cain was going through the motions of offering to God, his heart was not right before God.
Thus, for the True Believer today, it is not surprising when persecutions come from THE CHURCH. In fact, the more involved a Believer might become in ministry, the worse the opposition will be, if the congregation does not love the Lord. Indeed, they will read the Scripture, sing the songs, pray, and talk about their "love" for Jesus. But if their doctrine is apostate, and a True Believer challenges their stance, they will pull all sorts of different political shenanigans to either get the Believer to 'conform', or GET OUT.
When a church holds to apostate doctrines, it is idolatry. Did David exercise "tolerance" for it in Israel? "I have hated those who regard lying vanities" (vs6a) Idols were also called "vain idols" (Jer14:22), as well as "vanities" (1Sa12:21, 1Ki16:13, Jer8:19, etc)
When a True Believer is accused of uttering "hate speech", in a very real sense, that is a true statement. God's Truth is opposite of satan's idolatry. There is an animosity. David also says: "Do I not hate them, O Jehovah, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies" (Ps139:21-22)
Jesus said that no one is able to serve "two masters". And what is the relationship to the one NOT being served? "hate" (Mt6:24) "..do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore purposes to be a friend of the world is shown to be opposing God." (Ja4:4) KJV calls the friend of the world God's "enemy".
There are some who call themselves "christian" who, when they get together, do nothing but speak (gloat) amongst themselves at "how awful" the apostates are. Some so-called "discernment" ministries do nothing but provide proof of the apostasy, documenting every last sordid detail they can dig up.
But when David expresses his 'hatred' for evil doers, what is his 'balance'? Is David one-sided, only tearing down anything that doesn't agree with his "point-of-view"? He "hates" idolators... BUT what...? He "trusts" in Jehovah.
The psalm opens with what kind of deliverance? God's "righteousness"
Re: Forgiveness (Psalm 32)
However, more in keeping with the previous chapter where David is dealing with persecution at the hand of Saul, for a period of time David and his men go and live with the Philistines, and in the course of events the Amalekites raid and take captive the women, children and supplies. Remember the incident where David thinks to resort to Achish of Gath, and when he senses things might not go well for him, he changes his behavior like he is 'mad'. Where he had approached Goliath with "the battle is Jehovah's"; when he knows Saul is after him, he thinks to take refuge in-amongst the enemy. And as the Amalekites are attacking his camp, he has been whining that the Philistines won't "let" him fight alongside them AGAINST 'Israel'. (1Sa29) They return to camp and find it ransacked, and their loved ones gone; and David's men, in bitterness, talk of killing him. (1Sa30)
At which point it says, "But David strengthened himself in Jehovah his God" (1Sa30:6) It would seem obvious that, from such a comment, even though David loved the Lord, he had also been operating in his own strength and wisdom for a period of time. Notice he says, "When I kept silent, my bones wore out through my roaring all day long" (vs3) A similar comment he makes in the previous chapter, "my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones have wasted away" (31:10)
Is this the "transgression" and "sin" that is forgiven and covered, as he "strengthened himself" in God? It doesn't say directly. But seeing the similar expressions about his "bones" in both chapters, and knowing that chapter 31 would seem to be addressing his time while on the run from Saul; the only "transgression" that comes to mind, recorded from that time period is his wanderings amongst the enemy, which ultimately ended up in the Amalekite raid. David had not been fully trusting God, even though he had had the victory against Goliath (1Sa17), and several encounters with Saul in the cave (1Sa24) and when they snuck into Saul's camp and took the water bottle and spear (1Sa26) when God's protection was witnessed.
While David was keeping to himself, and not trusting God, he was wearing out physically. But in vs5 he gets relief. He gets the sin out in the open; he "declares" it. Same thing the Christian is to do, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1Jn1:9) Same thing David finds, "..and You forgave the iniquity of my sin" (vs5b)
If this is the sin being confessed at this moment, notice the resolution of all of David's fears; the reason for which he was continually running, and then consorting with the enemy: "You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from distress; You shall enclose me with shouts of deliverance" (vs7)
If David had been (fully) trusting God, he would have heard more clearly: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye" (vs8) Before David "strengthened" himself in God, he was trying to figure out things on his own. One wonders what the historical account might have looked like if he had been fully trusting.
But the lesson is learned; and exhortation given: Don't be like the self-willed horse or stubborn mule where the bit must be put in the mouth, and led about with reins, or a 2x4 thwacked across the top of the head. (vs9) Sorrow follows wickedness; but for the one who trusts God, mercy.
So... Sigh! Breathe easy. The time of running is over, we have left the camp of the enemy and all the uncertainties of "when will they -turn- on me?", we have come home and found the recompense for our foolishness. Perhaps the Amalekite raid was used by God as 'discipline'? So now, through God's guidance we have captured back that which was ours. Things are back where they should be. And things are at peace. And with a cleansed heart, David is now also able to get his mind and worries off himself and his own survival, and sends presents from the booty to the various places in Israel he had been camped out. (1Sa30:26-31)
Not to go on about myself...but, I know others of you experience it, too. Is it not easy to look at one's past failures and bemoan all those 'wasted' years. Surely, Moses might have bemoaned 80 wasted years, where his primary ministry was the final 40 years of his life. But Paul's words are -very- true, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Rom8:28-29)
Notice that word "conformed". Is that not a word indicating a 'process'. A -work- that is done to... well... "conform" something from one state into one of more-desirable attributes and qualities. Like the potter takes the clay, takes out lumps, adds other clay, and con-FORMS it into the desired shape. (Jer18:1-6) Does not process and work indicate 'time'. What do we know Moses for? Leading Israel out of Egypt as one of God's (likely) greatest prophets. He grew up in Egypt's education, and then in God's wilderness... to 'conform' him into God's desired vessel for service; 80 years of conforming for 40 years of service.
Before David would rule Israel, he went through the wilderness, running from Saul, playing footsies with the enemy, but eventually became 'conformed' into a person fit to lead Israel.
And while PB is no Moses or David, while past failures might be bemoaned and grimaced over, I also now understand Rom8:28-29. If somebody were to ask, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Well, I am -exactly- where God wants me at this moment. Past failures and their subsequent confessions have "conformed" me into what I am now. Are there things I would like to 'fix' about myself? Well, of course! I'm still "flesh and blood" and of "corruption". (1Co15:50)
And anyone who is forgiven can share with me, with David: "Be glad in Jehovah and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart" (vs11)
Re: Rejoice in Jehovah (Psalm 33)
-Such- is the person who is qualified to "rejoice" and "praise" God with music and song.
In the temple worship, guards were stationed so that "no one who was in any way unclean could enter" (2Ch23:19) If any unclean person (stranger) tried to approach to help in the temple service, they were to be "put to death". (Nu3:10)
A far cry from the "church's" approach to things for the past (how many?) decades! Instead of keeping the unsaved out, they were invited in; to "save them", you see. But unbelievers weren't very willing, always, to come....so how do we get them to come? (After all, the song said: "Bring them in, bring them in") How do we entice them? How do we lure them? Well, Sh'zamm! I know! Let's get them to sing in the choir and play instruments. After all, music is "fun". And then, with such 'exposure', perhaps they will get saved?
Trouble is, the longer such people remained, and didn't get saved, their mere presence for the extended period of time got people to 'assuming' they were saved, as they learned the language and rituals. And where did most church squabbles often used to start? In the choir. Those very same 'unsaved' choir members. And of course, similar scenarios would occur in other areas of the church, as well, where the unsaved were brought in and put-to-work.
Well...but...church music is so boring. It is hard to keep them because the world has this more 'exciting' music called jazz and rock-n-roll... and just see what big crowds get drawn to those. Just think of how many we could con into the church (rrr, uh, sputter, I mean: "evangelize"). Let's do that. During WW2 girl's trios would titillate the fantasies of the (male) troops; let's have girl's trios singing similarly sensuous styles of music. Beach Boys and other male groups would "bee-bob and doo-wap" crowds into excitement, let's have male quartets singing "fun" things; and let's be sure these "acts" are introduced with the same DJ-esque "professionalism" they are used to from Hollywood or Las Vegas. Of course, we could also have a 'hot' brass group blaring, playing fancy fast trills, slides, screeches and -loud-. But...whine, whine...look at how many prefer the Beatles, Mamas & Papas, Elvis, the Doors, the Monkees, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie...we still are missing one thing...the guitars, electric bass and... DRUMS. We've just GOTTA HAVE that person thrashing around, wailing on the drums (and looking 'cool'); then we'll be just like the world, and the world will come to us.
Oh...so, you don't like such straight forward in-your-face "judgmental" talk? You are bristling up (?) with the old worn out excuse: We are trying to be "all things to all men" in order to "in any way save some" (1Co9:22) ??
Please allow me to be blunt for a moment: NO YOU ARE NOT! You are not trying to "save" people; because if you were, you would be doing things God's way, not through "carnal" means. (2Co10:4) If you condone and participate in the kinds of things just outlined, you do it because you -LIKE- those drums. You LIKE the way today's often scantily clad female bodies wiggle and slither to the music. It -FEELS- GOOD, and it's 'fun' to -lust-. If you are making that excuse, are -you- (even) saved??
How does today's "church" presume to think that the wailing of guitars, and the thumping and pounding of drums in sensuous demonic witch doctor jungle beats has any sort of remote relationship to "rejoicing" or "praise" of Jehovah??? Rejoicing and Praise is for the "righteous" and "upright". It is not for the world! It is not for those whose sins have not been forgiven and covered. (32:1) It is not "blessed". When Israel went apostate and wayward from God He says to them, "Take away from Me the noise of your songs; for I will not hear the melody of your lutes." (Am5:23)
What did God want from Israel? More "praise"? Was Israel's fault before God that they didn't -praise- Him enough? But what did He want? If He didn't want the guitars (lutes), what did He desire?
What does God love? "RIGHTEOUSNESS and JUSTICE; the earth is full of the GOODNESS of Jehovah" (vs5) When God had finished His creation He pronounced it "extremely -GOOD-" (Gen1:31)
That which testifies to God is His creation: The heavens and their host. (vs6) The waters of the sea... notice how it says "like a heap" (vs7) Is that another reference to Noah's Flood? The Flood was a major Godly judgment which modern man tries to deny, even though surrounded by its evidence. But the evidence man sees resulted when God "heaped" up the waters to flood the earth in massive tidal waves. And as one sees the evidence...particularly as one might drive through the bottom areas of where the flood waters swooshed, and look up at the surrounding ravines and rock outcroppings, it is enough to stir up 'fear' and 'awe' of God's mighty power. (vs8)
To us it is a 'mighty' power. But God merely "SPOKE, and it was done" (vs9) All His creation, which the psalmist in another place calls the work of His "fingers" (Ps8:3), God -spoke- into existence. God "said", and it was done. (Genesis ch1)
And so, as we see what look like tumultuous times as the nations of the world are busy posturing and preparing for conflicts and war, we need not worry. We often (tritely?) say, "God is in control".
However, God -IS- in control.
Even if in pretense, at least there has been an allowed perceived 'symbolism' of God. But now, as even those pretenses of God are being pushed out, we see this nation in demise.
But God is in control. He "looks down from Heaven" (vs13) and sees all that is going on. Just because somebody amasses stockpiles of weapons, such build-ups will not guarantee success in battle.
Well, of course they should be concerned! Israel's leadership is presently not trusting God. They are being disobedient to God. They are trusting in the strength and might of "Egypt" (the USA).
But who does God protect? "Behold, the eye of Jehovah is upon those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy" (vs18)
A couple chapters ago we discussed how David had been on the run from Saul, and last chapter David's dalliances with the enemy in trying to keep himself safe from Saul. But now he has "declared" (confessed) his sin, and received forgiveness, and is now "blessed". And he understands the foolishness of his ways. He and his small band of men were running from Saul's massive forces, and trying to hide within Philistine defenses. But his trust should have been on God.
There are many today who fear coming times of conflict and distress. Before "Y2K" it was people building bunkers, and storing up supplies to last seven years. Not long ago a subscriber e-mailed for my advice on stocking up supplies for a 'moderate' time period. In our metropolitan societies, we are so used to just running to the store to buy what we need, we don't think about, "what if something happens and the stores are all sold out, with no more coming in?" The shelves are empty. Well, I've got a bit 'extra' stocked in my cupboards, enough to sustain me (??) months if some emergency were to come about.
As Christians, knowing the Lord is coming for us, we know better than to stock up for seven years. But using our God-given 'common sense' we also know that disasters happen, like Katrina; or more recently the total obliteration of Greensburg, Kansas. Some years ago Spokane had an "ice storm" where thousands were without power for some time. Even my own block was without power for a week. Are we prepared (moderately) for such scenarios? Perhaps a person has a few extra candles and batteries. Recently I got one of these flashlight/radio combos. Amazing how bright those LEDs shine! And it's "wind-up"...no batteries!
But beyond 'reasonable' preparedness, does the Believer 'worry' over what hasn't yet come? Whom do we trust? FEMA? Ha!!! The National Guard? As Kansas realized after their devastation, a good many of them are in Iraq. The president? A (double) Ha!! Ha!!
What did David learn? For those who "fear..Jehovah", God "delivers their soul from death" and also "keeps them alive in famine" (vs19) If He supplied food for Elijah through the ravens, or later through the widow woman of Zarephath; He also knows how to preserve His Godly ones today.
Do we go scurrying around? Or, after we have made reasonable (common sense) preparations, and the situation becomes dire and those things have been used up, stolen or destroyed, we "wait for Jehovah; He is our help and our shield" (vs20)
Notice that David does not ask for a free ride. We can "rejoice" in God because we "trust" in Him. The unsaved cannot rejoice in God. God is not obligated to protect them. The unsaved do not have hope in God, because they trust in other things. But David prays... and as the world continues to decline in preparation for antichrist, remember along with David...
Re: Jehovah my Judge (Psalm 35)
Now... With all being 'right' with God, we can do what we should have done to begin with, before we started trying to figure out our troubles in our own wisdom (ch35)...
Because we have acknowledged God, confessed sin and are now in right relationship, does that mean, suddenly, that 'ALL-IS-WELL'? Life is now smooth sailing... no troubles, no hassles, no conflicts with enemies, and everybody loves us and desires the 'best' for us? This is what many preachers proclaim: When you come to Jesus, all cares and troubles just disappear... poof! Skies are bluer, birds chirp sweeter, and everybody is now all-smiles.
I've confessed my sin to God, He has forgiven, and my heart is at peace with Him; and notice, the "heaviness" (32:4) we spoke of a few lessons ago, is gone: "All my bones shall say, Jehovah, who is like You...?" (vs10) My "bones" are no longer "worn out" (32:3) But "they" are still after me, gleefully licking their chops at the prospect of my fall and demise.
To the Believer Jesus pronounces, "In the world you have affliction..." (Jn16:33) Notice it doesn't say that you "will" have affliction. The translations you read that say (future tense), "you SHALL HAVE tribulation" are in error. It is PRESENT ACTIVE tense. It is happening now, and it goes on happening. It is a -present- 'reality'. If you are a Believer in Jesus Christ, affliction is part of the equation; it comes "with the territory".
And what did Jesus say is to be our stance? "...be of good courage, I have overcome the world"
Jesus did not tell us that "-I- can -do- all things" (Php4:13 kjv) But rather, "I -have- strength for all things in Christ who strengthens me" (Php4:13) The word "do" isn't part of that passage.
This is what David learned. He spent how much time (?) trying to figure things out and -doing- for himself, while running from Saul. At one point it took Abigail slowing him down, to not take vengeance on his own behalf against Nabal. (1Sa25) David was going to -DO- on his own behalf; make a decision and "go for it". But Abigail interceded, and 10 days later -GOD- DID the work necessary on David's behalf.
So now David is going to the Source he should have been seeking, all along. "Plead my case, O Jehovah" (vs1)
In using such a turn-of-phrase, what is David saying? What sort of individual "pleads cases"? Attorney's will 'plead' and judges will hand down rulings. As one reads these verses, David is requesting -action-. Not only to 'plead' the case, but also make a 'ruling' to effect the outcome. Pass judgment and order it carried it out. And when a judge hands down a ruling, the full weight of the law is behind such a ruling; enforceable by law enforcement. In present culture, at the point of a gun, taizer, cuffs, restraints, etc. if necessary. In David's day it was shield, buckler, spear, etc. (vs2-3)
This is something David seemed to have forgotten for a period of time. Before he discovered how nasty politics can get, especially when you have married into an evil family, he clearly understood when going against Goliath: "the battle is Jehovah's" (1Sa17:47)
But politics and inlaws are more sneaky and deceptive. They don't come as a towering hulk at you yelling, taunting, brandishing a sword, offering to feed you to the birds. Such a foe is -obvious- to see and recognize as the "enemy". But politics is full of smiles, handshakes, back-slaps and party toasts. Family has the periodic gatherings, dinners, parties. After all, it's "faaaam'ly"...and what's thicker than blood...right?
What's thicker? Evil! What's behind the smiles? Deception! What lurks past the back-slap? Daggers! What motivates the toasts? Wicked plots!
When a Child of God is up against such sinister schemes, there is no possible way to win, apart from God. The Believer does not muck around in those evils. It's not our practice. Those are not the circles in which our minds run. It's like the ex-unequal yoke informed me during one of our deeper conversations: "You don't understand their (family in-law) evil hearts" ...as she would occasionally also mention the "darkness" that was inside her; but she would occasionally also speak of the "good" that she saw in my heart. The Child of God is full of God's light. And just as the "darkness did not lay hold (comprehend) the Light" of Jesus (Jn1:5); so too, the Children of Light (Eph5:8) do not fully understand darkness; especially if they have known the Lord since childhood. Yes, as "flesh and blood" (1Co15:50) we mess up and commit sins (1Jn1:8); but our hearts are not -characterized- by evil; they are not -full- of darkness (1Jn1:6)
When someone is hurting and/or sick the Believer is of a caring and supportive nature, often even going out of one's way to help. But when the Believer has troubles, the evil ones "rejoice". They "reward evil for good". (vs12-15) And when they swarm around, it's like a blanket party. There is no fighting back that is possible.
Please read the chapter for all the gory details...
So David asks God to take care of the enemies. Bring their own evil back upon themselves.
And when God does avenge, and the trouble has been removed, what is the attitude? Hooray for me! Yippee, hooray! Hooray for meeeee!!! ???
Let those who delight in my justification shout and rejoice; and let them say continually, "Let Jehovah be magnified, who delights in the welfare of His servant" (vs27)
Is this not what happened when Daniel's three friends were delivered from the fiery furnace, "Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent His Angel and has delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and have changed the king’s words, and have given their bodies that they might not serve nor prostrate themselves before any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree; that every people, nation, and language who speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut into pieces..." (Dan3:28-29) When Daniel spent the night with the lions, the king's verdict was, "I make a decree, that in every domain of my kingdom there shall be trembling and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God and endures forever, and His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed. And His rule shall be to the end." (Dan6:26)
God gives deliverance, and while we of course feel relief, our praise goes to God.
Re: Wicked vs Righteous (Psalm 36)
I've been a Child of God since age 5. While there are smatterings of things I still remember as far back as about age 3, my life-time of memories begins, essentially, at around age 5. Thus, it could be said that, in essence, I have been a Christian my "whole life". I do not have any memories of my pre-Eternal existence; I do not remember what an unsaved heart 'feels' like. I do not know what it is to be -full- of darkness. While I have done evil things, committed sins, been guilty of trespasses, as any person of corrupt "flesh and blood" (1Co15:50) does, I don't know what a "dark" heart feels like.
And so, these opening verses provide a window into the dark heart. They help us understand 'why' the wicked perpetrate upon the righteous the evils that we observed in the past lessons.
Jesus informs us that persecution comes because the evil do not know Him, Jesus Christ. And not knowing Him, they also do not know the Father who sent Him. (Jn15:21,23,16:3,etc) We also know that the "fear of Jehovah is the BEGINNING of wisdom" (Ps111:10, Pr1:7;9:10) The fear of God is the -beginning-, the root and foundation of "goodness" (being opposite of evil and wickedness).
For the wicked "there is NO FEAR OF GOD..." (vs1) They have "no hope" and are "without God" (Eph2:12) That is a condition I don't even know how to imagine or empathize with.
He "flatters himself". Well... isn't this what the world is full of today. Actually it always has been; but they never before so fully and openly engulfed themselves in it to give it a name, "Self-esteem" and to boast themselves and encourage each other to "be -proud- of yourself"
But what is the end result? Iniquity and hate.
One of today's premier gurus of self-esteem and self-pride is daytime TV queen, Oprah. And yet, as I've commented to a couple of people privately, on occasion while flipping channels, and the TV happens to land on an Oprah moment, where the TV camera is zoomed in for a close-up of her face; for all her self-esteem, is she happy? Hers is one of the DARKEST faces I see on TV today. In fact, the day before this study is being written I happened to flip channels and caught the performance of the girl who had written a song, "Dear Oprah". The Oprah show, hosted by Oprah, introducing a song -for- and -to- Oprah...and the words of the song were something on the order of this girl, having left home, on her own, down and out, no place to stay....where can she turn? To Oprah. Oprah was the 'solution' to her problems. The kinds of words that a person ought to be crying out to God, when looking for deliverance. And even with all this adulation, when the cameras focused on Oprah, as she is being sung to with adulation...DARKNESS.
Of course: what else could one expect! The girl had allegedly grown up in a "religious cult", where if the girl had misbehaved, she was ordered to "read the Bible". Horrors!!! When in disobedience, to be directed to God??? So when she left ("escaped") home, she turned to Oprah, to solve her problems! Today's premier Self-esteem guru...who, herself, is full of DARKNESS. What kind of "esteem" is that??
In such a state there is no wisdom or goodness.
And this is not a casual thing. It is not done IN-PASSING. It is "devised...on his bed". (vs4) What is one time of day/night when a person is typically most at 'one' with one's own thoughts and heart? When God would speak to people in the OT, it was often in dreams...when one is in bed. One lies down, becomes calm, and is in their own private thoughts, from their soul and spirit, in communion with their True-Self without the distractions of the outside world. For the wicked, it is in this 'private' place where they -DEVISE- their evil.
Like I said, I don't understand this. For me, when I've lain down for the night...that is often when the Lord gives me some added 'something' to include in a study that might be in process at the time, or gives me the topic for a new study or article. I will sometimes get back up out of bed, so I don't forget what was just given, and go turn on the computer and type some things into a file, as it was given.
On the other hand...
Remember how the righteous doesn't need to worry during times of "famine"? (33:19) God provides from the "fatness of His house" and drink comes in "rivers" (vs8) It is a "Fountain of Life" (vs9); as Jesus says, "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will not ever thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into eternal life." (Jn4:14)
The reason the righteous heart is 'Light' is because we are in -God's- light. It is not our own righteousness. (Tit3:5) As Jesus said, "You are the light of the world" (Mt5:14) We are the light of the world, because we are "in Christ" (Rom8:1, 2Co5:17, etc)
And so we see a three-fold conclusion of the matter:
Re: Don't Fret over Evil (Psalm 37)
"Do not fret yourself over evil doers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity." (vs1)
As Christians consider God's Word, and then we look at the world, we see all sorts of perversity: the world ganging up on Israel, the global war on terror (which is really a religious war for/against Islam), the so-called 'gay' agenda, abortion, lying politicians, same-gender marriages, apostasy, ecumenism, new age, new world order, issues related to public prayer, freedom of speech regarding the things of God, satan's followers controlling the air-waves with broadcasts of satanist movies....the list goes on and on.
And Christians lament: "How long, Lord?" Sometimes there's a bit of verbal hand-wringing. The one who knows the Lord experiences days where it seems like this 'cloud' is hovering...an 'oppressive' cloud. I don't write to you-all every time this cloud is hovering over Spokane, but I know many of you also experience it where you are in the world.
But we are exhorted to "don't fret" over it. Why?
"For they shall soon be cut down like the grass; and wither as the green herb." (vs2)
Oh, b'b'but..!! As 'soul-winners' aren't we supposed to be reaching EVERYBODY? No! Remember Jesus' words how "many" are on the broad way to destruction, and only a "few" are finding Life? (Mt7:13~) And as we were exhorted from Jesus' words again a few weeks ago regarding those with hard hearts, "Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into the ditch." (Mt15:14) And, after we've shed tears regarding those we know who have rebelled to their own eternal peril, as we fellowship with Christ we also eventually find ourselves able to conclude, along with John: "Even so, Amen." (Rev1:7b)
Yes, we see the sorry state the world is in, and we may wring our hands momentarily...but then come to understand that God's holiness will judge it all. And so...our manner of life....?
"Trust in Jehovah, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on faithfulness. Delight yourself also in Jehovah, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Roll your ways upon Jehovah; trust also in Him, and He will bring it to pass. And He will bring forth your righteousness like the light, and your justice like the noonday. Rest in Jehovah, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret over him who prospers in his way, because of him who works out wicked devices." (vs3-7)
And notice, if we continue in fretting, not following God and trusting in His righteous judgment, allowing the world to drag us down in its wrath...
"Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret; IT ONLY LEADS TO EVIL." (VS8)
Now, notice the difference between the good and evil.
"For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait upon Jehovah, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall be no more; indeed, you shall diligently consider his place, and it shall be no more. But the lowly shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. The wicked plots against the just, and gnashes at him with his teeth." (vs9-12)
But why is the Believer able to conclude "Even so, amen."? Because we are in fellowship with God. And what is God's attitude about the evil?
"Jehovah laughs at him, for He sees that his day is coming. The wicked have drawn out the sword and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, to slaughter those who walk uprightly. Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken." (vs13-15)
This morning I read a headline that said something about people choosing between buying fuel vs groceries. Well...whatever comes to the world, the faithful Believer can be assured of God's caring hand...
"A little that the righteous has is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but Jehovah upholds the righteous... They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied... The steps of a good man are ordered by Jehovah, and he delights in His way. Though he fall, he shall not be cast down, for Jehovah upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." (~vs16-25)
This exhortation should be an 'assumed' for the Believer, but in these days when we are tainted with the world, we are exhorted to "..hold fast what you have till I come" (Rev2:25) "Behold, I am coming quickly. Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown." (3:11) However, in these days wickedness is so blatant, it should be easy to discern between good and evil. The exhortation is...
"Depart from evil and do good, and live forevermore." (vs27)
"For Jehovah loves justice and does not forsake His Godly ones; they are preserved forever; but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice. The Law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. The wicked watches the righteous, and seeks to kill him. Jehovah will not abandon him in his hand, nor allow him to be found guilty when he is judged. Wait upon Jehovah and keep His way, and He will lift you up to inherit the earth; when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.... But the salvation of the righteous is from Jehovah; He is their strength in the time of distress. And Jehovah will help them and deliver them; He will deliver them from the wicked and save them, because they have trusted in Him." (vs28-34,39-40)
Recommended: Get out your Bible and read the entire chapter to catch the parts edited here for space. See the entire picture.
Re: Rebuke with Mercy (Psalm 38)
A surface reading of this psalm initially seems confusing. We see God being angry with David. (vs1-2) David appears to be ill, such that those he knows keep a distance from him. (vs11) He's got festering sores (vs5), inflammation (vs7); he is bowed over (what? in pain?)(vs6,8,10); his vitality is taken away such that he cannot bark commands, nor does he seem to be aware of what is going on around him (due to his misery?). (vs13)
Whenever I've read this psalm I have always wondered to myself: WHEN was David ever sick? When was he ever ill? There are no other direct accounts through Samuel and Chronicles, like there are about Hezekiah (2Ki20:1), Jehoram (2Ch21), Asa (2Ch16), and others. The only official account of David being bed-ridden is when he is old and is cared for by Abishag (1Ki1), as he then proceeds on towards death.
This is not when he pretended to be a mad man before Achish, when running from Saul (1Sa21); that's Psalm 34. Nor is it when hiding out within the Philistines, when the Amalekites raided and captured their wives and children from Ziklag (1Sa30); Psalm 56. He had certainly been "foolish" (vs5) on those occasions, but it is not recorded that he was suffering plague-like symptoms. Nor is it recorded that God was -angry- with David during those days. It is not when he was on the run from Absalom (2Sam13-19); in that case his "lovers and friends" (vs11) fled from Jerusalem -with- him, supported and protected him. It is not his sin with Bathsheba, which was the precursor to the Absalom incident; and that's Psalm ch51.
The only other account that seems to fit -all- the parameters of this Psalm is the case where David -numbered- the people. For this account, please read 2Samuel ch24 and/or 1Chronicles ch21. And perhaps this psalm also, then, gives us some further insights that those historical accounts don't mention? What is recorded in Samuel and Chronicles about David the 'king' and Israel the 'nation' (publicly); perhaps this psalm is David's own (personal/private) experience through that episode?
So, what was that episode?
Chronicles says that "Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel". But in Samuel it says it was the "anger of Jehovah". Is that a contradiction? Or perhaps it is another case like Job, where God and satan have a -discussion-, satan arguing against God, and God giving permission for satan to afflict/test Job? Or perhaps it is like when Ahab needed to die in battle, so God sent the "lying spirit" in Ahab's prophets to help persuade him to go to battle? (2Ch18) Since it is obvious that God and satan have these 'conversations', as satan is also called the "accuser of our brethren, who accuse them before our God day and night" (Re12:10), I have no problem whatsoever with the fact that this account could have been the result of some sort of 'conversation' between God and satan. Who started it? Scripture doesn't say. Why was God 'angry' with Israel at that particular moment? Whatever the case, it is apparent that David was the chosen vessel/channel for this particular test and judgment. Satan gets into David's head, and David takes the bait.
What was wrong with 'counting' Israel? After all, is that not where "Numbers" gets its name, because they numbered/counted various groups of people? If we sense between the lines of Joab's abhorrence for the task as he says to David,
David's word prevails, and Joab goes out to oversee the census/muster. But it is so loathesome to Joab that he does not do a complete job. And God judges. And David sees his own guilt. Does God begin to judge, and 'then' David sees his guilt? Or does 1Ch21:7 indicate the heading summary, with vs9++ indicating 'how' God "struck" (vs7) Israel? In other words: Had God already begun to judge 'before' David was given three choices, or was it only the three choices? The way narratives are sometimes put together, we might question such details. But in this case it doesn't really matter for the purpose of this study.
David is given three choices of punishment. And David chooses punishment -from- God, rather than man.
"And He shall judge the world in righteousness; He shall execute judgment to the people WITH EQUITY. (Ps9:8)
So God sends the plague, according to David's choice. 70,000 are killed. And if we continue the account, we read about David purchasing the plot of ground to make atonement with the sacrifice, to stop the plague; the plot of ground which later would become the location where Solomon builds the temple.
So now we come back to Ps38. We have already noted that David, himself, is suffering from the plague. David's "third" choice was not only for his people, the ones he had mustered for the census, but the judgment came upon himself, his own body personally. God's mercy spared most of those hundreds of thousands who had been counted, and only 70,000 died. David's life was spared. But I believe this psalm gives us a picture of the suffering of those 70,000, as it was upon David, also. What sort of plague was it? The passage doesn't say. But it resulted in death, apparently preceded by suffering.
But what else was going on for David?
"For I said, Hear me, lest they rejoice over me; lest when my foot slips, they magnify themselves against me" (vs16)
So, you mean that, if I'm IN CHURCH, I might need to be ON GUARD against fellow church members? That they might not all be looking out for my welfare, as Paul exhorted...
if you follow what is good, trying to be pleasing to the Lord in all things, it is NOT the WORLD that is angry with you. It will be your church LEADERS. Pastors, board members, teachers, association leaders/presidents. They will convene councils against you, and if you confront their evil, they will condemn you for not following their "chain-of-command". Well... it was the Synagogue leaders who stirred up the mobs who persecuted the early Church in Acts. Until they got into the act, the common people gladly heard the Gospel message. As Jesus said,
When he says "over my head", is that because of how 'deep' in trouble he is? Or is that because the troubles he is feeling are way beyond his understanding? He acknowledges his iniquity and foolishness, but in his mind there is also a 'reason' why he did what he did...
Was not the "foolishness" in figuring out that he would try to solve the problem himself, with his own wisdom. And was not the "sin" in not trusting God; especially after the Lord had been his help over and over for so many years throughout his life.
His son Solomon had learned...
But David did learn...
Re: the Mute Tongue (Psalm 39)
"For a dream comes through much activity; and a fool’s voice by the multitude of words." (Ec5:3)
"In the abundance of words there is no end of transgression, but he who restrains his lips is prudent." (Pr10:19)
There are some who put the mouth in gear and hit pedal-to-the-metal. They get into each other's faces. Voices are raised. It often becomes a shouting match, one trying to out-shout the other. The 'louder' voice, presumably, to assert the 'right'. And as each one is shouting along with the other, each is shouting, and nobody is listening. In the world, sometimes such confrontations result in blows being exchanged, and what they call "crimes of passion".
Sometimes discussions might become heated over "theological" topics. And rather than following Paul's advice to "avoid" foolish questions (2Ti2:23, Tit3:9), the Believer multiplies words, thinking he is witnessing and has some likelihood of "getting through" to the scoffer.
Or do you ever have it happen, like I do on occasion, where something is turning utterly bizarre and evil, and you find that your mouth simply 'shuts', and you go utterly silent?
This past year a new person moved into the neighborhood, and I tried to do the 'neighborly' thing and go over to introduce myself and be 'friendly'. This person seems to have had a rough background, likely most of it of her own making. Then along the way there were some incidents where, due to some weird behavior, it was necessary to initiate some 'distance'; and one final time where (I don't know, due to her past in drugs perhaps?) she went utterly berserk like she was halucinating and freaking out over something she thought was 'attacking' her. All I saw was something the size of a mosquito. My mouth went 'shut', I turned around and walked back across the street to my house, as she continued chattering away, assuming we were still having a conversation. A few times, later, as I might be walking by, while taking my walk around the block, she would call out, "Hi Paul!", and my mouth was -shut-, "even from good" (vs2a) And "my sorrow was stirred up". (vs2b) I sense that she has a lot of troubles, and my heart would wish to try to get to know her, to perhaps be of some 'help' to her. But there is this resident "evil" and "wickedness" within her, and any sort of sane quiet conversation is not seemingly even possible. And so, my mouth has become "muzzled" where she is concerned.
On some other occasions, a would-be customer might walk through the door to my counter, and as they walk in, it is obvious that a whole 'legion' of demons also just accompanied them through the door. Their mouth opens and they start to talk, and I try to engage them in the conversation of doing business, and it becomes immediately obvious that there is SEVERE Spiritual Warfare going on between their host of demons and my spirit. It is going to be nearly impossible to conduct business. So I "thank" them for having come in, and express my regrets, and then resume whatever activities I had been doing before they came in. Of course, they are "stunned" that anybody might "do business" that way; "how do you stay in business??" And so they will often wish to engage in what I know, if I were to respond, would be a lengthy 'dialogue'. But at that point the Lord has "done it" to make me "mute" to them. (vs9) I know that anything I might say by way of explanation will not be understood by them, and will be scoffed at. In addition to being 'bewildered', they might also then become angry, and if I were to respond would get into a mode to be confrontational and argumentative. So I become to them like those traditional Marine Guards, or Buckingham Palace guards who stand at attention, not uttering a peep.
Perhaps a variation of that little adage that some mothers tell their children: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
In one such case, these couple of women came in, just oozing all over the place with occult spirits, wanting signage for their yoga/fortune telling 'business'. When I declined them, rather than leaving right away, they hung around awhile, chattering between themselves, wondering what sort of person I was, and noticing the sign I have for VW's website, kept repeating over and over to each other, "He's a Chriiiiisssstian! he's a chriiiissstian!" (with these whiny little clucking voices) Sort of like I might imagine the girl did as she followed Paul and Silas...
In such cases, even if my mind were to attempt to try to think of something to say, there is 'nothing'. It has been "shut off" -for- me. This sort of thing has happened enough times that I recognize that it is the Lord doing it.
But when in the midst of the incident, there are several things going on within. There is "sorrow" (vs2) that I cannot 'help' this new neighbor, because I know her spirit is in the depths of lostness. When it is clearly demonic stuff going on, there is also some "heat" and a "burning fire" within (vs3) And when the incident is over, and the people have left, my tongue is again loosened up, and I will make 'exclamations' to myself and the Lord about the incident. Sometimes when one thing happens, the whole day may have already been going like that with the -spirits- "in-the-air"; I hear it in the traffic, and see it in the people around me. So the exclamation might be something on the order of, "What is going -on- today!!!" Sometimes it is just "UNBELIEVABLE"!!!
In David's case, when he spoke, he is introspective,
Being alone, there is a certain sense of "frailness" (vs4b) And yet, for how many years has the Lord's sustenance been obvious! Thus, there is not really any frailty of 'uncertainty'. As David noted, I also notice, how many of those who strut around as though they are "big stuff" and "standing tall" (vs5), they are nothing.
This life is like a "shadow" (vs6) Like that shadow image or spot of light the cat chases across the wall, and for as much pouncing as it does, can't catch it. Like a moth. (vs11) Like that episode on a recent "America's Funniest Videos" where the little child had found this moth that they were playing with. In their play, they reached out and set the moth down...and from the side this kitty paw came swiping out, and the moth was snatched...eaten. Just like that! Whereupon the child is, "Whaaaaaa!!" Although we, as adults, split our sides at the humor. Or like the incident told by Rush Limbaugh some years ago, where these animal-rights do-gooders had "rescued" this baby seal, nursed it, got it back to health. And so now it was the day to 'return' the seal to its "home", the ocean. So it was a great day of celebration as this huge group of animal lovers took this seal to the ocean. They lovingly reverently introduced the seal to the ocean, and almost -immediately, as the seal hit the water, there was some larger predator there, and instantly gobbled up the seal. Of course, Rush thought that was the most hilarious thing he could have told about, against animal-lover environmentalist "whackos".
But that is life. It is short. As Jacob says,
(By the way: Did you know that Japan came into being around the time of Israel's northern tribes dispersion. In the past I have mentioned some documentation to suggest that Japan's "Shinto" religion has a lot of similarities to Israel's temple rituals, and could suggest its origins from Israel. That Is59:19 might be talking about Japan, the land of the "rising sun")
Anyway... for this 8-foot long chart, The USA takes up only 3 inches at the end. This "great" present-day civilization we have today, we think is so great and wonderful...do you realize just how many hundreds of other civilizations have existed throughout the earth, throughout the years. Tonight's news on ABC featured a dying tribe in S.America, where the rain forests are being cut down, and mining is taking place. There are just six (6) people left to this particular tribe, and they are all too old to repopulate themselves. That tribe, like a vapor. Pucker the lips and blow, "Phhhh!" Related to the overall scheme of human history, that's how long they lasted.
Like a line from Randal Thompson's choral work, "Peaceable Kingdom"
And so our prayers and fellowship with the Almighty are even that much more precious and earnest...
Our "citizenship is in Heaven from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body..." (Php3:20-21)
Thus, quite often, when we find ourselves before the wicked, it is best to keep our mouth "muzzled". Stay "mute with silence" and "keep still". Yes, we are still in this world as witnesses. But the Mt10:16 passage just quoted was in the context of Jesus sending the disciples to testify to Israel. There are times to testify. There are other times to keep still. There are times that yapping off at the mouth might be "sin" (vs1,8)
Now... it's quite possible that this psalm is a follow-up to ch38, the way he speaks of being "destroyed by the blow of Your hand" (vs10) But the way many passages can have various applications, I don't think we have gone too far a-field with what we have considered here. These "walk-thru"s are not intended to be detailed totally contextual line-by-line studies, as much as skipping here and there, devotionally, and picking little nuggets as we go along.
Re: Deliverance (Psalm 40)
It says that David "waited patiently" for God. Notice something it does NOT say. It does not say that David "rattled the gates of Heaven"; or "stormed the gates of Heaven"... uh... with "prayer". He did not call up his "prayer chain" and "grab hold" of God through the "power" of prayer.
He what? -WAITED-
And what was the result? God "inclined" to him and heard him.
If there is just ONE THING to 'take home' from this study, it is this little nugget. God is not at our beck-and-call to cater to us on -our- time-tables. God is not our servant, to snap-to when we command. It is the other way around. God is "in Heaven", and we are "dust" (Ps103:14); therefore we should keep our words "few". (Ec5:2) We are the ones who have offended God and are due His judgment. Thus, He is not on our time-table... we are on His! However long that is. But if we wait patiently with pure hearts, He does hear; not according to our demands, but according to His will and purpose. (Rom8:28-30)
When we are in the pit of disobedience and God restores, He effects a change. He pulls the sinner up OUT OF the slop, and sets the forgiven one on a ROCK. A SECURE place. The pit is full of slop that one mucks around in. There is no sure footing. A person slips and falls and gets dirty. But once on the rock, the mud and slop falls away; and as it is washed, a person is able to keep clean.
So, why is it that the Emerging Church likes to stay in that pit? They stay there with the world. They claim that, by staying there, they will "win" the world. Thing is, they are -both- slipping around. It's somewhat like a vehicle or tractor being stuck in a springtime muddy field, and another tractor comes along to pull it out. The chain is hooked up, and they -both- sit there spinning their wheels, because the second tractor got itself right into the same muddy field. It can't even pull itself out, let alone the originally stuck tractor.
Notice that it was -GOD- who pulled us out of the pit. Not ourselves and our own "works of righteousness" (Tit3:5) If we go back into that pit, we get stuck again. But if we stay on the rock, Jesus Christ (1Co10:4), then we have a Sure Foundation from which to snatch others out of the "fire" (Ju1:23), because our steps are secure.
How does a person stuck in the muck presume to reach out their hand to pull another person, in that same muck, out? So why is it that those alleging to be "christians", but are living just like the world, have the impudence to offer to 'introduce' the world to Jesus Christ? Why would they even -want- to be saved, if they see you are no different from them? They don't.
If I hear "ak-ak-ak-ak", I'm never confused, thinking the sparrows have come around. If I hear "cheep cheep cheep" I never think the crows are migrating through. They all, they each, have their -own- 'unique' song/utterance.
When God lifts a person out of the muck, He also gives a new song. It is the "new song" of the "redeemed" (Rev5:9)
When I was a youth, still at home, my dad pastored this little baptist church; and periodically a special speaker would come for a week of meetings. Something the neighbors next to the church building commented once to my dad (even though they never attended), as the windows might be open in the warm weather, that the congregational singing was "happy" music. It was "joyful".
Did we have a rock band with drums on the platform? Guitars? Did we do "worship" music? Answer: NO. We sang 'hymns' and 'spiritual songs' from the hymnal. I was the pianist, and did not know how to play 'fancy'; I did not have much of an imagination to 'dress' things up with runs, arpeggios and such things; just the 'plunk-plunk-plunk' four-note chords as written in the songbook. But it was music (fancy or not) that is 'unique' to Christians. You do not find it in the churches of Babylon, charismania nor today's Emerging church. Babylon's music is "dead", and the Emerging music is like the world.
I grew up (since age 5) as a Christian. When I got to college, during the height of the Viet Nam era, and hippy protests, I was busy -studying- (silly me!). My hair was never longer than it is now (although back then, there was -more- of it, and it was 'browner'!) I was learning classical music, figuring out how to design and build stereo speakers (on a budget) to simulate "live" (classical) sound, and collecting recordings of classical music. Amazingly enough, even though living right in the middle of it, I was unaware of the lyrics and details of the rock music of the day that surrounded me, nor any details of the New Age beliefs that were emerging then from eastern Hindu TM and such things. I had been raised a "sheltered" life, and continued that existence through college, even when on my own.
During that same era there was another man, around my same age, who was in Viet Nam, bought a fancy stereo, and collected music...ROCK music; and with the military's quality equipment which was available to him, made recordings for himself. To read his writings today, it would seem he knew -all- about the music of that day. He was into the drugs and party scene and all that went with it, along with the metaphysical beliefs that went with that culture. He studied with the gurus.
Then, the Lord got ahold of him and saved him.
So now... surely... this man is now one of today's leaders in the Emergent church's "worship" music and (so-called) "christian" Rock. Right? He knows what it was to be in the depths of sin, and to have been redeemed OUT OF it -with- Rock Music, and "christian" rock concerts. So now he -uses- Rock music as a "tool" for evangelism. A medium that people of the world "understand" and can "relate" to..??
No! No! No!
From his background, and now being SAVED by God's grace, he has written books warning -against- ROCK music. Having been in it, he knows the truth. From his past knowledge, knowing of the performers and their producers, and what they 'testify' regarding the whole rock 'scene', he tells it like it is. The prime focus of Rock Music is "SEX". As those in the industry say, "It's all about sex". No... and NOT between husband and wife. But rather... the illicit stuff that goes on between -any- 'willing' partners. The stuff that the Bible calls "sin". The stuff that Paul says,
It is NOT a "NEW SONG"! It is not the "happy" sound of the spring robin, but the "CAW, CAW, CAW!" of the crow. It is the old song of the horrible pit and miry clay. It is NOT "praise" to God, Most High. They may recite the words, "Praise you Jesus", but Jesus says,
The Emerging church claims that their so-called "worship" music helps bring others into Heaven? But notice what the Bible says. When the world sees a -truly- "new song" that proclaims true "praise", not their sex music...
Trouble is... today's church is like that canary I had as a lad growing up in Japan. When I first got it, it would siiiiing, like a canary. When I practiced the piano, it would sing along. But then we had this notion to put its cage out near the open windows, so it could have fresh air and a little sunshine. And pretty soon it started "chirping" like the sparrows around the house. It no longer 'sang'. It was no longer -distinct- from the other birds. It might have been 'yellow', but you could not hear it utter a sound, and know it was a "canary". And as it would now "cheep, cheep", my dad would respond back at it in derision, "expensive, expensive!"
Well, HELLO! They have -already- rejected. They are "judged ALREADY" because they are not of the Faith of Jesus Christ. (Jn3:18) If you are singing hymns, nothing has changed for the sinner. He -was- a sinner; you sing hymns; he is -still- a sinner. He -was- a sinner; you sing the world's 'sex' music; he is -still- a sinner. It is not that they -WILL- reject the message... they have ALREADY -BEEN- REJECTING it. And if you are trying to have "fellowship" with the wolves who use rock music, when they claim that music is "neutral" (neither bad nor good), they are PROUD and LYING. They have rejected God and Jesus Christ. -THAT- is why they lust for their illicit music.
So, who do you trust? The sex addicts, or God? Whose 'acceptance' do you crave? The swill pond of destruction, or God's "well done good and faithful servant"? (Mt25:21) The Emerging church used to speak a lot about "blessing". Bless you, Bless God, Bless Jesus. Whose blessing do you want? Those in the mire, or God's? If you
Who's your Master? God or the world? If you love the world, the "love of the Father is not in [you]" (1Jn2:15b) You can't have both. You cannot serve "two masters". (Mt6:24) You CANNOT claim to love God, and also claim to use the world's sex music to honor Him. If you cling to the world's illicit music for worship, your claims "for Jesus" are a big lie! You are a phony! Period.
When God saves the sinner, where the sinner has acknowledged sin and repented of it, the one thus redeemed is in awe of what God did. "Many are [His] wonderful works" that "cannot be recounted". They are "more than can be numbered" (vs5) There is the love poem, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." Well... with God's deliverance there is no 'counting' the ways. They are way beyond and above us.
And, if this psalm is connected to that "counting" incident: we reviewed two chapters ago that David purchased what is in these days called the "Temple Mount" and offered sacrifice, to stop the death angel's plague. And yet, was it actually the -sacrifice- which brought deliverance?
"With what shall I come before Jehovah, to bow myself before the loftiness of God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Will Jehovah be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? O man, He has declared to you what is good. And what does Jehovah require of you, but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Mic6:6-8)
The characteristic of Jesus; that which David's "ears" had become "opened" to (vs6), and learned for himself:
He had forgotten something his youthful faith had understood,
On the other hand, for those who "seek [God]"?
Re: Blessed (Psalm 41)
"Cast your bread upon the waters; for you shall find it after many days." (Ec11:1) [See also: link :]
But in this psalm a good person gives to the poor, but that beneficence does NOT return to the giver. In fact, the good might be returned with evil.
David does speak of his own sin against God (vs4) But notice that most of the chapter talks about the evils happening upon David: enemies (vs2), sickness (vs3), enemies hoping for his death (vs5), those pretending to seek his welfair and then going out to plot against him (vs6-7), hoping his sickness will end in his death (vs8). And even his own trusted adviser/friend/official, one with whom David has shared meals, is now plotting against him while he is down with sickness. (vs9)
With all this going against a person, does that mean the Godly one closes up their own heart of compassion against the poor? Or... when a person does good towards the needy, and gets repaid with evil from other sources, does that mean one stops giving?
Man may repay evil for good. But God rewards fairly. Man often views compassion as weakness; especially in ancient times, the warrior class. Well, even today, especially at the level of secondary education, what self-respecting football player would be caught dead being also known to play the flute, like a girrrrl!! "Music is for sissies!"
David "took down" Goliath, and was known for his "mighty men" who performed extraordinary feats (2Sa23), and conquests in battle; but was also the "sweet psalmist of Israel" (2Sa23:1)
David might have won many battles, but what was his strength? Or should we say, -who- was his strength? When he took down Goliath, it was not David who took him down. He enjoined that battle by introducing...
God's deliverance of David did not always involve David, personally, meting out retribution. Notice that he says, "raise me up, so that I may repay them" (vs10)
But remember how he had learned, at Abigail's wise counsel, not to avenge the wrong done to him with "his own hand" to "deliver himself" (1Sam25)
Also indeed, there -had- been wrongs done by David's subordinates, for which he did not exact personal retribution. But as he turns the reins over to his son Solomon, he gives counsel regarding certain 'scores' that yet needed to be settled, and encouraged his son to use 'wisdom' in dealing with them. (1Ki2:5-9) But he did not exact his own personal revenge.
As far as David was concerned, it was sufficient that his enemy did not "triumph over" him. (vs11) God protected him. Thus, David maintained his "integrity".
So, the righteous who does good towards the needy is "blessed" by God; it is God who sustains the righteous. It is -God- who sustains, and is worthy the praise...
Re: Water of Life (Psalm 42)
You who say you "love God"... How greatly do you love Him? What is your level of need for Him? How badly can you not be without Him?
And yet, while in the midst of that which is labeled "church", those within the church, looking at the one who thirsts for God, taunt: "Where is your God?" (vs3,10) It's like the unbelieving spouse of the prophet who taunts "Where is your God?" (Mic7:10) Or like it was in my case from the one who claimed for 15 years to be a "christian" (we had met in church), but ultimately announced: Your God and mine are different.
If you are a True Believer, and are in the "church", you will find that they attack you. As Jesus said,
As they conduct their -pretend- Church, and you see the emptiness of what they are doing, and so you try to speak exhortations to greater love and devotion for God (since you are giving them the benefit of the doubt, and are assuming they know the Lord); but since they do not really know the Lord (at all), they jump on you for being "judgmental". They will taunt: So you think that (only) -you- are right, and ALL OF US are wrong? And such taunts, by their very expressions, are meant to wither you down to nothingness in your own esteem, because of course, you don't wish to be guilty of -pride- and self-righteousness...like they are falsely accusing you of.
And so the True Believer (the one who -actually- DOES -know- the Lord) becomes "cast down within me" (vs5-6)
But God has a way of "calling to deep" and providing "waterfalls" of refreshing, with "waves" of water. (vs7)
When the enemy is "reproaching", and the True Believer murmurs and is cast down; we are exhorted to...
Re: Forget your father's house (Psalm 45)
"Fairest Lord Jesus! Ruler of all nature! O Thou of God and man the Son... Beautiful Savior! Lord of the nations! Son of God and Son of man!"If anybody were to question whether this psalm is talking about Jesus, rather than some other great king, we have the quote of vs6 in Heb1:8, that it is God who is proclaiming Jesus as "Your throne, O God". God the Father calls Jesus "God"; thus affirming the Deity of Christ. This is one of Scripture's key proof-texts of Jesus' -Deity-, the direct proclamation of the Father, Himself.
It is suggested that you might read the entire chapter for yourselves regarding the Kingship of Jesus. But in the spirit of this being a "walk-thru", where we do not necessarily delve deeply line-upon-line, but 'pick' various highlights, for this study, in its practicalities, let's look at the "King's daughters" (vs9)
There is another OT picture:
Whether due to Faith in Jesus Christ one is called "children of God" (Jn1:12), "sons of God" (Ga3:26), or the "King's daughters" (vs9); this is talking about God's -progeny-; that which is "begotten" by God. That which is "precious" to God.
When Jesus "confesses" His -bride- before the Throne and the angels of Heaven (Lk12:8), that event is going to be the showstopper of all showstoppers.
So... how do we (let's now bring this to practical terms for us, the Church, True Believers) "not defile our garments"? How do we make ourselves worthy to be visible as being "precious ones" who are "glorious" to be received with "gladness and rejoicing". Two verses we'd like to concentrate on...
So then, what is this? "..forget your own people..."? If this marriage is a peace treaty, why would the bride be exhorted to "forget" her family? We're going to address two topics here: both the earthly marriage, as well as the Heavenly relationship. First, the earthly...
!! FAMILY !!
Family??? Naw, couldn't be!
TV sitcom's "Everybody Loves Raymond" comes immediately to mind. The episodes of that show garner hysterical laughs from the audience. But what goes on in real life is NO LAUGHING MATTER. I've seen many episodes, and while there are many funny things to laugh at, there are others that, frankly, hit very close to home for me; and I do not laugh, but rather, many of Marie's antics raise anger in me: that she does what she does, and that Raymond is so much of a wuss that he doesn't stand up to her for his wife and marriage.
It is God's design to "leave" father and mother, and to "cleave" to one's spouse. Fathers, if you have that final father-daughter talk before giving her away, don't plant seeds of "Don't forget that you are -always- part of 'our' family." When you do that, you are not emotionally allowing her to "leave". Mothers, don't be that traditional (hated) mother-in-law who thinks your son's new wife just doesn't 'measure up' to -you- in taking care of your baby boy. He is no longer a "baby". He is a grown man. And... SO WHAT?? if she doesn't do things the way you always did? What does it matter? Are they living happily? Are they loving each other? Then, let them be.
New couple, are your parents always interfering in your lives? You are no longer children. God said to "leave" your parents. If you left, that means you are no longer continually under their authority. Do you wonder how to do things? Talk to EACH OTHER and figure it out. Adam and Eve did not have parents...they had each other. Yes, you might make some mistakes. That's how you learn. And if your families are always butting in and telling you how everything you are doing is ALL WRONG... show them the door. Really? Yes!
Bride, do you wonder why your husband sometimes is not as attentive as you think he should be? Do you wonder why his eyes sometimes rove? Well consider: does he have -all- of you? Or is your heart still back with your father who exhorted that you will -always- be part of 'them'? Harsh words? Is that not what "forget your own people also, and your father's house" means? And what does it say is the result if you do this? "Thus the King (your husband) shall greatly long for -your- beauty"
Think about this, ladies... Your husband wants a wife. He wanted -you-, otherwise he would not have asked you to marry him. But also, he wants -ALL- of you. As it starts out it might be body, soul and spirit. But as the marriage progresses he finds he wants spirit, soul and body. If your spirit is divided between him and your former family, he knows he doesn't have all of you. But he craves the COMPLETE PACKAGE. But he doesn't have it in you. So, where did it begin with you? (body, soul, spirit) Well, he's first going to be dreaming about a body. Because he doesn't have your spirit/soul? Indeed! Men are initially -visually- oriented. So, if you think his eyes are roving, don't worry about making yourself more "sexy" and "spicing things up" that way. Rather, do some introspection. Do you "bow down before him"? In your spirit and mind? Or are you self-actualized, and going according to your own agenda, full-steam-ahead!! ?? If you are, your husband does not have -all- of you; his heart has a void where he wants a "wife". If your spirits are not mutually 100%, the spice won't be fulfilling either. He may not realize all these things, to be able to verbalize them to you. He just knows that something is not all that it was cracked up to be. He has an undefined yearning. If you are not filling it, he will wander for it. Does this mean you need to be a "super wife"? NOT HARDLY! Just "bow down before him". Whether physically, or not...this should be your -heart- before him. You are intended to "complement him" (Gen2:18), not the other way around
Now, of course, in human relationships, it's a two-way street. The husband is not "god". Believers are to submit to one another. (Eph5:21) But we are addressing this for this study as the passage does. Specifically: wives are to submit to their husbands (Eph5:22, Col3:18), and husbands are to love their wives. (Eph5:25,28, Col3:19)
But as the husband/wife relationship is a picture of Christ and the Church, these two verses are even more important regarding our spiritual state.
As the Church, who -was- our "father" and who were our "own people" that we are exhorted to "forget"? It is VERY important that we know, because the exhortation is given to "listen", "consider and extend your ear". This is not a lounging in the easy chair, and Yeah, yeah, I heard ya! But rather: Look me in the eye, and pay attention. What are the consequences of paying attention? Having the desire of the King, God Almighty; our Lord Jesus Christ. This is not about our desire for Him, but about His desire for us. Does He want us? Will He accept us? How will He view us? As something of desired beauty? Or... in contrast, an object of loathing, revulsion and disgust; to be cast into "outer darkness" where there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Mt8:12, 22:13)
Of those who rejected Jesus, He identified their "father" to them.
So if we are making "claims for Jesus", that we are headed to Heaven for eternity, what characterizes the saint? the "King's daughter"?
Notice it says, "And I will receive you". In other words, if we are not willing to come out, does that mean God does not receive us? What did Jesus say?
That's what satan wants. Make "claims for Jesus"? Well, OK... if you must. But don't forget where you came from. And how many, claiming to be "christian"... well... you can't tell them apart from the world. They are not willing to "forget" their past... and leave it there, behind them.
If you claim to be a Christian, but live like the world, you are a LIAR, and are headed to the Lake of Fire. God does -NOT- ACCEPT you "just as you are". That is one of today's "doctrines of demons" (1Ti4:1) You are not headed to Hell -because- you are living like the world; Salvation is "not of works" (Eph2:9) But your behavior and desires -betray- your -HEART-. Just like a husband has an empty spot in his heart when his wife is still (in her mind and heart) back "home" (with daddy and mommy); the King does not "greatly long" for the beauty of one whose heart is still in satan's realm. He is NOT "your Lord". You are NOT "bowing down before Him". Your so-called "christianity" is a fraud. You are still in your sins. You will never see the Light of God's Eternal Kingdom, except at the Great White throne where your name will NOT be found in the Lamb's Book of Life. You will only get that briefest of glimpses, before being cast into the Lake of Fire.
If we were speaking only of the earthly, we might give exhortations to the parents of grown, adult, married children, to: Let them go! Let go the apron strings. But there is no such exhortation to satan and the world. They are what they are. Their tugs are continual, and they "think it strange that you do not run with them in the same overflow of dissipation, blaspheming." (1Pt4:4) Their appointment at the Great White throne is with surety. Their appointment is none of your concern. But, you notice this exhortation is to "listen, O daughter". Daddy and family keep tugging to "come home". But she must be resolute and FORGET them! Leave them behind, and don't look back. Also, an earthly husband is not perfect, as God is perfect; and might not always be worthy the wife's 100% devotion as we've just discussed. But God -is- perfect. He is all-glorious. It is not His to conform -to- sinful man. Sinful man must be "reconciled to God" (2Co5:20)
Forget the world. Forget satan. Don't revert back to them. Confess Jesus as your Savior. (Rom10:9-10) and Bow down before Him. In other words, when satan comes along, give him this retort...
Re: God is our Refuge (Psalm 46)
Recently the global financial crisis has come to a head. Part of America's bail-out scheme has been to give the government part-ownership of the banks it bails out. By definition: Communism. Now, the election has placed a Marxist-Socialist into the highest office of the land; as of now, still, the (alleged) "most powerful" nation on earth. And once in office awhile, his totalitarian diktats, his true agenda which he kept cleverly hidden from the masses during the campaign through his empty meaningless rhetoric, will begin to take control. Some are predicting a most horrendous time just ahead for US history; and in turn, for the world. Some might think to rename this country the U.S.S.A. Some publications were suggesting to their readership that it might be appropriate to fly our flags upside-down (and half-staff) for a week, and again on inauguration day.
The day has come, and it all happened within my lifetime, as Russia's Kruschev (and others) predicted, back when it was still called the "cold war": That America would be taken "from within", without a shot being fired; and the people would vote it upon themselves, -happily-.
It has now happened! (And no; this has nothing to do with skin color. It is about ideology and morality. Hereditarily, the new president-elect is equally white -and- black. As such, racially, both whites and blacks have -equal- 'claim' to him...if they had their thinking caps on.)
While the masses are giddy with joy, there are those, who know what's really going on, who shudder with dismay regarding the future of this nation... and for the world. How soon before the secret police are sent out to round up the "dissidents" for one-way trips to the concentration camps? How soon before "hate speech" laws go into full force, and arrests are made for saying things... well... like these paragraphs you are now reading. How soon before the USSA becomes like Saudi Arabia, where Biblical Christians are rounded up, buried up to their necks in sand, and stoned to death, beaten, beheaded, etc?
You say: "It couldn't happen here!" ? That's what they said in Germany, too. And how does history tell us -that- turned out! The USSA is in the same place today that Germany was just a couple short generations ago.
So, what do Biblical Christians do? Get in a frantic fright? I must admit, my own heart went to bed heavy last night, and woke up the same this morning. But I did not hang my flag out upside down. (Although I was wondering how a hammer-and-sickle would look where the stripes now reside!) If this country is now the USSA, that is not the country where my earthly citizenship has been. "This world is not my home, I'm just a'passin' through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue". I am a citizen of Heaven. (Php3:20)
Please understand: I'm trying to inject some dry humor into a very dark hour. (The publication that suggested flying the flag upside down, headed today's mailing with, "Mourning in America") The psalmist speaks of mountains slipping into the seas. The sort of thing that happened during Noah's flood, and also as the "earth was divided" (Ge10:25, 1Ch1:19) after the flood. And according to prophecy, we know similar things are going to happen as the earth moves "out of its place" (Job9:6, Is13:13) and the hills are lowered, and valleys raised (Is40:4), and the Mt. of Olives is split in two, forming a huge valley (Zec14:4) when Jesus Christ returns to claim His kingdom. The psalmist calls this "change" upon the earth. The "earth" is the -globe-, the physical mass of land and oceans. We now also have "change" for the -world- (the peoples and governments residing on earth); a change such as this nation's founding fathers hoped to deter by how the Constitution was written; if only it were being followed anymore. But the president elect has spoken of "breaking free" of its 'constraints'; and as such, when he oaths on inauguration day to "uphold" and "defend" the Constitution, that will be a (nother) lie!
The psalmist continues...
Because: Even though this earth (here) is in turmoil...
But supposing the coming (political) storm takes a person and kills them? Jesus said,
"The nations raged, the kingdoms were shaken; He uttered His ovice, the earth melted" (vs6)
"For behold, Jehovah is coming out of His place, and He will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains shall melt under Him, and the valleys shall burst open, as wax before the fire, as waters poured out on a steep place." (Mic1:3-4)
Re: Like the Animals that Perish (Psalm 49)
Notice the opening salvo, to set the tone for the rest of the chapter. The 'depravity' of 'supplanters' that 'surround'. The following verses will explain 'what' they are doing, and reasons why not to fear them. But first we must understand their character. What -kind- of people are they?
Depravity indicates: Moral corruption or degradation. In other words, these are evil wicked people, rotten to their base core.
Supplant is to usurp the place of, especially through intrigue or underhanded tactics. Usurp also indicates an illegal seizing by force, without legal authority. This is how many political leaders get into power; and the higher the position, the greater the subterfuge to gain the position. e.g. Kings, Dictators and Presidents
And where a person might be tempted to 'fear' these is because one is 'surrounded' by them. Everywhere a person turns, it seems that -everyone- is evil and cannot be trusted. And perhaps in the case of the one speaking, these people are after the person's own position, power or whatever the case. Those who would kill to gain advantage, will they be trying to kill 'me' or do me personal harm in order to further their own agenda?
Usually, those who attain to positions of power do so by wealth. If they have enough of their own wealth, they can 'pay' their cronies and lackeys to do their bidding. If a particular political movement (especially for world-domination) is huge enough, the finances will come from far and wide. If particular groups of nations wish to bring down a powerful nation, they might contribute exorbitant amounts of money underhandedly to promote a candidate sympathetic and symbiotic to their goals. And citizens who -know- what is going on, especially if the depraved candidate attains to office, might be inclined to -fear- for the future of their nation and their own well-being.
Thing is, the rich man's wealth cannot give life. God does not receive money as "ransom" for the life of one's brother. (vs7) Even if a person could boast ownership of entire regions of earth, still, God owns the "cattle on a thousand hills" (50:10) Of the rich man Jesus told how at his death bed God says: "Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have prepared?" (Lk12:20)
Somebody can attain to power, and an assassin's bullet finds its mark; that powerful person dies just like the soldier on the field of combat.
What of all the wealth? The saying is, "You can't take it with you." They "leave their wealth to others" (vs10)
So, if the -person- does not last, let's build monuments. Buildings, philanthropies, statues, placards. Let's blast and carve likenesses on the side of mountains. Build pyramids and mummify the remains. Thing is, given enough millennia, and strangers come along and poke and prod into the dried out corpse: Who was this? Who knows for sure?
Some wise man dies, and generations elevate his teachings: Confucious, Buddha, the various Lamas. (What about the alpacas, too? Groan/Sorry!) The so-called church does this, too. They are called the church "fathers". Dead people who conducted wars between the various factions of Babylon, and persecuted True Believers and Jews; but wrote down their ideas and distortions about what they presumed the Bible says...rather than Believers reading the Bible for themselves and listening to the Holy Spirit (Jn16:13, 1Jn2:27) and so they "delight in their sayings" (vs13b) even more than they consider God's (direct) Word to be their "prescribed food" (Job23:12) And whereas Paul exhorted Believers to all be "of the same judgment" (1Co1:10), they instead read all the numerous writings of these (alleged) Great Ones, and form their little cliques -about- the Bible, viewing the Bible through 'lenses' of the writings of the so-called 'great' men, ignoring the Most High and His (direct) Word.
What is their end for this folly? They follow these teachings of men like sheep, and their appointment is with the grave. "..death shall shepherd them" and "Sheol is their home" (vs14)
On the other hand, what is the outcome to the righteous?
And those evil of depravity, surrounding us? When they go away and are no more, relegated to Sheol...who has authority over them?
Re: You Thought that I was like Yourself (Psalm 50)
This study written in another context is located at another place at the website.
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:::: Psalms 51-100