My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.
This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.
I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.
In our last post we spoke of the theme of love, of the psalm as depicting a marriage between a King and His bride, and of a battle the King would enter into. Although the first verse did not describe the warfare motif, we do enter into it here.
Let’s read on to get a sense of the direction this psalm takes us
You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever.
Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty!
In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; the peoples fall under you.
The subject of this passage is the superlative subject, the most handsome One, One who exercises gracious speech, One who is blessed forever. He is the stellar, highest example of the created being, and yet is blessed forever. Did you get that? He is described as created yet obtaining eternal blessing. Alone, without the next few verses, an argument for the hypostatic union (that is, the union of God and man in the person of Jesus Christ) could be made. He is a man. He has eternal blessing, implying His eternal existence. Truly we are entering into a very high truth about this King! And we are finding this King to be a gracious One, and that characteristic is worthy of resting on for a moment to consider.
Years back, a preacher challenged me to consider God as not good. A thought exercise that revealed to me some great truths I take for granted.
One truth is the gracious words of the Messiah. What if His words were judgmental, condemning and filled with contempt toward His rebelling creation! Could not an argument be made that He has a right for this attitude toward His sinning people? This is the importance of the revelation we are provided, since without it, it would be a logical conclusion, based on our experience, that His speech would be more like ours. How frightful!
Consider any passage in the New Testament, and replace Jesus with yourself. Consider your response to the disciples as they frustrate you. Consider your speech those who constantly wanted something. Consider your reactions to those seeking your destruction, even from the time of birth! Even in His rebukes, He showed restraint, grace, patience and a meekness that is impossible to comprehend. If He exercised the tongue I exercise, bitterness, anger and jealousies would be commonplace.
But He didn’t, since He is a good God, One whose lips have been filled with grace and truth.
The topic of a battle is entered into in verse 3. The King, described as the most handsome, gracious and blessed, will now enter into battle.
Weapon of War
A sword. The King has girded a sword to His thigh, in preparation for the battle. In Old Testament picture form, this description brings to our imagination a King ready to shed blood, to vanquish his enemies though death and destruction, through subjection by force and brutality. This sword, in the theocracy of Israel, represented dominion over other countries and peoples for the sake of the Kings throne. Yet this picture, even within this Psalm, needs to be reconsidered, for the psalmist will surprise us in the next verse.
Cause of War
The King will ride out victoriously, for a specific cause or reason, and that reason is threefold.
As we are well aware in our modern society, truth is the first fatality of war, with propaganda used to support the reason for a war, to support the moral of the troops, to keep the nation unified (?) and to justify bloodshed and destruction. This King, in His march to war, is going out to war because of truth, even to spread truth, in response to truth. Truth is the banner this King is basing the war upon.
This term is where a hint is dropped that the typical picture of a blood lusting King is not being described. A King that is seeking an expansion of His Kingdom for the purpose of worldly power and riches. This King described is going to battle for the sake of meekness.
Meekness speaks of gentleness, even condescension. How can any king wage war as we know it without a bravado, an elevated ego of self importance, of a “look at me” leadership quality. This description of meekness, or of gentleness, reminds me the true King, the King who is being described over and over again in this Psalm.
Matthew 11:29 is the only self description Jesus provides of His person.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
This battle is not the type of battle I expected as I began reading this Psalm.
Our last characteristic of the cause of this battle or war is righteousness. Righteousness, in my mind is the perfect balancing of all of the characteristics of our God. Even in the Old Testament, love was the dominant, overarching characteristic of our God, for the Old Testament often stated His love for the nation, or in His practice of His patient calling back of the nation.
One psalmist could not repeat the truth of the Lord’s “stedfast love” enough. Psalm 136 repeats this truth every verse, for 26 verses. God’s steadfast love endures forever.
Result of War
A battle field strewn with corpses, blood flowing into waterways, the stench of death permeating the area with columns of smoke rising from the fires. Is this the picture you are seeing in this psalm? Bodies with arrows sticking out of the enemies chest?
Let’s take a hint from the description of why the King is waging war, and consider the One who is leading the battle. It must be obvious by now that the battle is spiritual, that the Gentle King is waging war with His Sword, a sword that cuts into us, into our very being and not simply into our body.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
His arrows are sharp. The weapons Jesus uses to conquer His enemies pierce the heart. No blood is seen in this picture other than the blood of our sacrificial King in drawing us to Him, turning us from enemies to worshippers. Those Jesus is conquering, do fall under Him, but not in death, but as a result of the gift of life, in worshipping Him.
The result of this war is to conquer, but through love and not hatred, though compassion and meekness, not destruction and pride. How different is our Messiah. how utterly beyond our imagination His work toward us.
Let us be different, not for the sake of simply being different, but for the sake of following after our “battling” King!
For He is good, all the time, and His steadfast love endures forever!
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.