Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 45 – B

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

Psalm 45:2-5

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.

Gracious Lips

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.

Battle Ready

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.

Truth

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.

Meekness

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.

Righteousness

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.

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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 45 – A

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.

Todays passage is found in Psalm 45, one of a number of royalty / coronation psalms, with the passage speaking of two parties in a wedding.

Verse 2 – 9 speaks of the bridegroom, whilst verses 10 – 17 describes the royal bride. Given a number of verses within the body of the psalm, it becomes apparent this psalm is Messianic, and deliver to it’s readers a description of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Bridegroom, and of the church as His bride.

Hopefully, this will become more evident as we dig into this truly amazing portion of Scripture.

Let’s being with verse 1.

Psalm 45:1

To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah; a love song. My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.

The psalmist begins this passage, giving us notice that this psalm is a song of love. And as a psalm of love, he is overflowing with anticipation, anxious to speak to (or of) the King, prepared to offer his body to be used of God to provide truths he can’t hold back.

How wonderful when the heart is bubbling with an excitement that overflows its banks. The psalmist speaks of his heart overflowing, and the term he uses occurs only once in the Word. This word refers to a bubbling of a fountain or the boiling of water, with the intent of the word communicating the noise associated with the action of the water. This “overflowing” of his heart is resulting in a noise or sound that is of a pleasant theme. And we have previously understood that the psalm’s theme is love, but we have not delved into the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of this love.

Theme

He speaks of the “bubbling of his heart ” as resulting in a pleasant theme. How understated the Word is at times. As we venture into this passage, we will begin to find that this no ordinary love, for that alone is wonderful. No – this is an eternal love springing from the King of Glory, and the psalm simply states it is a pleasant theme. At the risk of introducing my confusion, how could this theme of love simply be pleasant? Is it not a theme that is to be described as miraculous, phenomenal, transcendent, extraordinary?

Let us not depend on superlatives to describe a truth the Scripture describes as pleasant. Let us not go beyond the excitement the author is experienceing, and describ it incorrectly. The theme of love is pleasant, and as we enter further into the passage, we will see that the source of this love is worthy of greater superlatives. The love the psalmist speaks of will be elevated based on the source of the love. Currently, he is speaking of a topic, and not the Person we will be introduced to shortly that will expand the beuty of this topic!

Purpose

The psalmist goes on to declare His purpose. He will address, or utter his message to the King. Many Bibles translate this portion as the psalmist uttering his message of the King, or about the King. Entering this passage, we will become convinced of its Messianic message. Considering this, both translations may have a ring of truth to them. The psalmist speaks to the King, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, and of the King, the Son of God, Jesus the Christ.

Preparation

The psalmist speaks of his readiness, of his willingness, of his desire to be of service, to listen only (as a scribe) and to record the message of the Author. He is one seeking to be a servant, and not an author, a willing scribe, not interjecting his own thoughts, but only the thoughts of the Author.

Scribes were known as scholars in the Old Testament, principally involved in the accurate transmission of documents of importance. A major characteristic of a scribe was an obsession with accuracy, the continuous rigor of exactness in the message, that the message not be interjected with his own thoughts or reasonings. Transmission of the message was the only intent of the scribes efforts.

Of course with this attitude of accuracy, the scribe also became an expert in the message, absorbing the message, becoming a human container of the truth he toiled so diligently to maintain for the next generation.

Consider our own time with the Word of the King. How scribal are we, in the absorption of the Word? Is it becoming a part of you? Is it working its way through you in your life, in the way you think and act, and eventually in how you speak? Is the message of love interrupting your life, making you consider your ways, changing your perceptions of what is important and what is of no consequence?

This psalm will continue to describe One who, if you follow, will interrupt your life, remold your thoughts, cause you to change your purpose and provide you times of struggle, introducing His ways, which are not our ways. This will inevitably cause struggles in your thoughts, feelings, speech and lifestyle.

For you see, this King is interested in truth, meekness and righteousness. If we are honest with ourselves, we tend toward lies, pride and selfishness. There will be a battle. The battle waged will not be as we expect, but it will be productive, gaining the desire of the King.

And be assured, for the King will be victor!


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.

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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 44 – D

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.

Psalm 44:23-26

Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground.
Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

We return to the last four verses of our psalm, with one overriding impression.

This psalmist had passion! Oh for a passion to confront God, even to the point of confronting Him with a seeming injustice He is guilty of.

We do not know the heart of this psalmist, nor even the historical background for his complaints, but that is beside the point. This man was passionate to see the Lord keep His end of the bargain, and was bold enough to come before God with some startling claims. He had the boldness to claim the Lord was asleep on His watch, that He was not attentive to the people He claimed to love. He was fully convinced the fault lay at the feet of the Lord. He was telling the Lord to wake up. Commanding the Lord to wake up? Ordering the Master?

Is this a proper attitude for the believer today? Can we bring claims of unfaithfulness of the Lord to the Lord?

As we walk on this earth, with all the media influences, general lies, emotional upheavals, mental limitations, physical constraints and lifestyle pressures, how can we make any accurate judgement as to the Lord’s dealings with us?

As we walk on this earth, with all the historical proofs of the Lord Jesus, the written documentation that has survived for millennium of His life, the proofs of His mighty resurrection, the gift of the apostles teaching, the blessing of the Spirit of God, and the support of the Body of Christ, how can we not simply be thankful for the grace He has provided to us, and simply accept our current condition (good or bad), thinking of His dealings with us in a positive manner.

A great challenge, and if accepted, may spurn us onto better things for the Kingdom. (And this exhortation from a pessimist!)

May God help us in our struggles to relate to the Holy One. May He redeem us from ourselves,

…for the sake of (His) steadfast love


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 44 – C

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.

Psalm 44:17-22

All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant.
Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way;
yet you have broken us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death.
If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.
Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

Our psalmist continues with the claim that the nation has not forgotten God, nor been false to the covenant. Since it is difficult, if not impossible to date this psalm, it seems either the psalmist was in the middle of a national revival, or that he was exaggerating the practice of the nation. I fear it may have been the latter, only based on my understanding of the nations history, (and my own personal experience of self deception).

If the former, that is their hearts were leaning to the Lord, it appears that God had not kept the promise of the covenant. Deuteronomy 28 laid out the promise that a faithful Israel would reap blessings, and an unfaithful Israel would suffer defeat, spoiling, shame, dispersion and exile. Compare the list of complaints the psalmist provided in our last post with Deuteronomy 28:15-28. It seems the psalmist is pulling the very curses from Deuteronomy and laying them out in front of God in our psalm.

It appears He is connecting the works of the nation with a reaction from God as described in Deuteronomy, and claiming God is not keeping His end of the bargain up. Someone is not keeping up with the covenant!

All of this bargaining with God is assuming the Israelites covenant keeping, and not allowing for the freedom of the Lord to exercise His wisdom in teaching His people through suffering. This is reminiscent of a time in the gospels when the disciples asked the Lord about a man born blind. Jesus disconnected sin from the sickness in this instance, and said the blindness was for the glory of God. (Read out it in John 9). Afairly radical idea for men who were under the thinking of Deuteronomy.

The psalmist was seeing the problem in the same manner, I believe, as the disciples. It is a very common association, and one that I struggle with personally. I so want to associate God’s gifts with my good behavior, and blame Him for difficult times, sometimes seeing my actions worthy of some discipline.

Note the familiar verse 22, where the psalmist claims that they are experiencing death because of God. This is the ultimate claim against God, and under the Deuteronomy 28 covenant, is the ultimate reaction of God to a rebellious nation.

For believers after the resurrection, this complaint by the psalmist becomes a standard lifestyle according to the apostle Paul. Death is not the conqueror that the psalmist claims, the enemy that seemed to be indicating God’s disfavor.

Through the Lord Jesus, death has been conquered and per Paul’s instructions, even in death, the believer is more than a conqueror. Death (and suffering) is not the indicator of dissatisfaction from the Lord, as the psalmist, (and our modern thinking may lead us to believe).

Though our enemies are many, Paul assures us that through the Lord Jesus

neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Where are you in your relationship with the Lord Jesus? If under duress, do you blame God? If experiencing success (in any arena of life) do you pat yourself on the back?

Of course, as the psalmist claimed to be in good relationship with the covenant keeping God, we more so, and we have the Helper to teach us of the secrets of our heart.

would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.

Yet in all of our pilgrimage, whether sweet or sour, we are to give thanks in all things, and to think on the things of God, as found in Philippians 4:8-9.

Honest complaint before the Lord is allowed by the example of the saints before us, yet for the standard instruction and peace of God in our lives, we are to seek after

whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Let us look to the One who accepted shame, exile and death. He turned the ultimate defeat of an ignominious death into the greatest victory, and that not for Himself, but for us also who seek to follow Him. Let us mimic His character through the Spirit of God, seeing the work of God in our lives by thinking His thoughts and not ours.

He is good, all the time.


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.

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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 44 – B

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.

Psalm 44:10-16

But you have rejected us and disgraced us and have not gone out with our armies.
You have made us turn back from the foe, and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
You have made us like sheep for slaughter and have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples.
All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face
at the sound of the taunter and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.

In our last posting, I left off stating the psalmist had a big problem. He had recounted of the mighty power of God in planting the Israelites in the land, providing them opportunity to spread thier branches, signifying growth as a tree, and of thier victories over enemies, as an ox gores and tramples his enemy.

All great stuff to glory in, and he ends the last portion we looked at with a claim that they continually boasted of God, and gave thanks forever. Definitely a high point in the psalm. But this high point brought with it a complaint.

Why are you silent, O God? No, it’s not even that God is silent, but for the psalmist, he describes God as actively working against the nation, (even though they continually boast of God and give thanks forever).

Let’s not dull the description of the psalmist. He continually ascribes blame to God for the condition the nation is in. Each of the following six verses, the psalmist lays the blame for the nations weakness and defeats squarely at the feet of the Lord.

God, in the psalmist’s mind, had actively

  1. Rejected them
    • Spurned them, cast them off, rejected them
  2. Disgraced them
    • Humiliation, even brought the nation to confusion
  3. Not gone out with their armies
    • Israel appeared to be defenseless, and was without the help of the God who had delivered them previously
  4. Made them turn back from thier foes
    • Definitely not the ox goring power house the psalmist described earlier!
  5. Allowed them to be spoiled by those who hate them
    • Instead of being those who gain spoils of war, the Israelites were suffering from enemies taking their goods.
  6. Made them as sheep for a slaughter
    • Sheep for the slaughter. The term speaks of the enemy killing the sheep (God’s people) for the purpose of food.
    • God’s previously loved nation was now to be sacrificed as food, sustenance for the enemy?
  7. Scattered them among the nations
    • The nation was disintegrating. The previously established and growing branches of the tree were no longer expanding, but was being broken apart, fractured, even cast away or scattered. This term carries an echo of verse 10, where the psalmist speaks of rejection.
  8. Sold them for a trifle, for a pittance, demanding no high price
    • It is not (humanly speaking) a profit motivation that drives the Lord to sell the nation. He is giving the nation away, as any worth has been abandoned.
  9. Made them as a taunt of their neighbors
    • A taunt, a reproach. Shame had settled on the nation, for all to see.
  10. Surrounded them with derision and scorn
    • Derision, ridicule
    • Scorn, mocking
  11. Made them a byword
    • Deuteronomy 28:37. A byword may be understood as a proverb or a parable. A story, in this instance, of disaster and doom, a lesson to those listening of the nations plight.
  12. Made them a laughingstock
    • Laughingstock is only used this once in the Old Testament. It speaks of a head wagging or a shaking of the one watching the disaster.
  13. Brought disgrace and shame to them
    • Disgrace, dishonor, insult
    • Shame, humiliation

This is an amazing list of complaints by the psalmist, and for all we know, he was not struck down by fire from heaven, or suddenly died due to this assault on the name of the Lord. This brings to mind a number of applications, of which the first is the need to be bold and honest with the Lord in our relationship with Him.

In reality, we have nothing to complain about, at least I don’t, but our experience sometimes needs to be expressed, our perception of the life we live may need to be expressed before our God in order to get our head on straight.

Honesty with God

When I first saw the honesty of Jeremiah complaining to God, it gave me an increased freedom to be somewhat more honest with the Lord.

Jeremiah 12:1

Righteous are you, O LORD, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?

And yet with this freedom, we must be open to the answer we receive. After all, complaining for the sake of complaining is of no purpose but to satisfy our own desire to appear righteous!

Well, it seems Jeremiah got an answer.

Jeremiah 12:5-6

“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?
For even your brothers and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you; do not believe them, though they speak friendly words to you.”

The Lord doesn’t answer Jeremiah’s question directly, but He also does not condemn Jeremiah. He reveals to Jeremiah his personal condition, his weakness, his false security in the land he lived in, and even of the family he belonged to. Yes the Lord is righteous, and He will answer our concerns, but we must be ready for hard news if we are to be honest before Him.

The True Israel

This passage is very difficult, in that it appears the people of God are capable of being abandoned by the Lord, of being offered up as mere food for the enemy. The psalmist writes passionately about his complaint, and describes a very dire condition the nation was experiencing.

And yet, when we read each of these complaints, they remind me of the the True Israel, the One who was slaughtered on a cross, who became a byword, was put to shame, and was sold for a pittance. He is the True Israel, who actually did provide thanks to the Father in all things, and boasted of God continually.

May His name be praised in our lives today and may we become ones who are reflective of His multi-faceted love.


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.

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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 44 – A

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.

Psalm 44:1-8

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.
You are my King, O God; ordain salvation for Jacob!
Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah

The psalmist is recounting the glory days of Israel in this passage, remembering when the fathers spoke of great victories the Israelites witnessed, or took part in. In some of the victories, Israel was instructed to simply watch, such as the parting of the Red Sea, and in some of the victories, the Israelites took part in, such as the unconventional triumph over Jericho. Other victories may have included a more active participation by the tribe of Israel, yet this did not discount the active participation of the Lord in the fight.

The psalmist claims the Lord was the One who orchestrated Israel’s national status and their possession in the land, and he uses a parallelism to describe the Lord’s duals actions in completing His

Verse two contains this parallelism, and

  • you with your own hand drove out the nations,
    • The psalmist is speaking of the Canaanites, and of God’s hand pushing the Canaanites out of the land destined for His people
  • but them you planted;
    • The Lord simply did not empty the land of the Canaanites, but He planted His people in it. Like a great tree, Israel was planted in the land. Consider Psalm 80:8, 2 Samuel 7:10
  • you afflicted the peoples,
    • Again, the psalmist speaks of God spoiling the Canaanites occupying the land. The psalmist was not apologetic or sensitive in the describing of the Lord’s actions in clearing the land for His people. The affliction was severe.
  • but them you set free;
    • This phrase has some ambiguity to it, but to follow the parallelism, the psalmist may be referring to the Israelites being “set free”.
    • The word translated as set free has a root meaning of to send, or to send away, but one use of the term is to describe the sending forth of branches, which fits nicely with the metaphor of the Lord planting His people in the land.

God not only brought the family of Jacob out of bondage in Egypt, but emptied a land that had been promised to Abraham, and established the nation of Israel, not only with their great laws and ordinances, given at Sinai, but with the physical land. They were not simply provided a piece of land to fend off enemies from, but God established them, planted them and provided them the ability (and right) to spread their “branches” out. They were to be a permanent witness to the power and strength of the Living God.

In verse 3, the psalmist reiterates that the Israelites had one true resource, one claim to fame, one salvation and strength, and it was not their military power. The evidence was in and the witness from the fathers of old was ringing in their ears – God led and provided the victories, great victories that could not be logically explained away.

The Lord was in the midst of the nation, providing miraculous victories.

The psalmist continues in describing the victories, and the confession of the nations utter helplessness without the Lord. Verse 5 has a great word picture that I must take a few minutes to describe.

5 Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.

To “push down” in the Israelites thinking was linked to the action of a bull, goring another animal, throwing the animal into the air prior to trampling over it to kill it. Again, for some of us who love animals, this may be a gruesome picture in our minds, but this is the graphic description the psalmist uses of the Israelites victory over their enemies. The psalmist continues with this picture of the ox dominating his victim, by describing the treading down (to the death) of any who rise up against them.

In all of this description, the psalmist identifies the Lord as performing this action, giving the ability to the Israelites to overcome their enemies.

The psalmist continues with confession of their own inabilities, and of God’s actions in saving them from their foes, and putting to shame those who hate them. The nation, the psalmist claims, has continually boasts of the Lords greatness, continually giving thanks to Him for His work in their lives.

Can you identify with the psalmist in the passage we have looked at today? Have you experienced the active saving power of the Lord in your life, and seen your enemies fall before you? (Remember now, we are speaking of enemies in our spiritual lives, not of the flesh and blood creation we exist with on this ball of mud). Has the past been littered with times of great victories by the Lord in your life?

Well, in the psalmist’s mindset, all the past victories were a problem! A big problem! A problem. I fear that is most common in our lives, at least in my life.

Take a few minutes to read the rest of the psalm to identify the problem, and let me know what you find. Of course, you are most welcome to come visit Considering the Bible for our next posting on this Psalm, where we will wade into the next few verses.

Hope to see you then.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 43 – B

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.

Psalm 43:3-5
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

In our last post we spoke of the audacity of David asking the Lord to judge him. He was dependent on God as his refuge in the storm he was in, and only in God could he find protection (refuge) from the ungodly, deceitful and unjust man.

David again pleads with God for help, and in verse 3, if we read it carefully, we find that he has two requests of God.

Send Your Light and Truth

David knew the source of light and truth, and that it wasn’t from his own thoughts or ruminations. He needed the light and truth from outside of himself. This is foremost an act of humility, admitting that he just doesn’t have all the answers. Secondly, it was an act of praise, since he identified the only One who has light and truth, for all other sources of “light and truth” are mere corrupted and damaged mimics of the Holy One of Israel.

In our day to day life, I find I depend on my accumulated experience and (somewhat) logical thinking to get me through the day. Occasionally, I will reach out to the Lord for direction, and find Him to be ever faithful, in anyway He answers. Yet I need light to see, not only my own circumstances, but also the goal I am to reach for, the method of attaining that goal.

Light speaks of revelation, that which reveals a subject, or uncovers something that was hidden before hand. The One who occupies eternity certainly has the ability, the right, and based on His will, the desire to shed His light on a situation or problem the saint is in need of.

David doesn’t stop there. He needs light to be shed on a worthwhile object, and in this his request includes truth. No use having light shine on something worthless! Truth speaks of that which complies with actual reality, that which conforms to actuality. Truth is that which is in accord with fact.

Truth is a very rare thing nowadays, and to request both light and truth by the psalmist reveals David’s realization of his circumstances. Unless the Lord provides light and truth, David’s situation is one of darkness and falsehood. My friends, our situation is no less dire, one of darkness and falsehood. And how great is that darkness, for we cannot see our circumstance without the light, or understand the circumstance without understanding the truth of our condition!

Lead Me in the Light

David was not satisfied with the Lord merely sending out light and truth, but that the truth and light would lead him. He is asking to be led by the truth, not simply to hear about it, to consider it, or to hear it for the sake of hearing it.

He was looking to be subservient to the light and truth. David sought to be led by light and truth. He echoed the One in the garden who prayed

Luke 22:42 b
…Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

What did David expect as a result of being subservient to the truth and light? He knows the result of this prayer, that he will be led by the light and truth to the One who provides these treasures. He will be led by truth and light to the holy hill of God, to the dwelling of God, to the altar of God, and finally to God Himself, his exceeding Joy.

Truth and light do not lead the saint to lies and darkness. That is illogical, and is to be rejected. If you are following your truth or your light, realize this is a serious concern. Light and truth emanate from outside of ourselves. My truth, or my light is simply the delusion of a proud creation that provides comforting messages to those who refuse to look for truth outside of themselves.

There is only One who we are to follow, One who is the embodiment of truth and light, the Messiah Himself, who was sent out by God, to lead us to the holy hill of God, to the dwelling of God, to the altar of God, and finally to God Himself, our exceeding Joy.

John 8:12
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Are you on the path drawing closer to Him? Upon what can you objectively look to for direction? To what shall we pay attention to? While in darkness, where may we find light, even as a lamp shining in a dark place?

2 Peter 1:19
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,

The Word of God, exalting the Son of God, provides the light and truth we need so desperately. But not only this truth needs to be reckoned with, we are to respond properly to the Son of God in an attitude of submission and obedience.

He is good and has supplied all our needs. Take advantage of His bounty, for it will only benefit us greater and greater as we are drawn near to Him Who gave Himself for us.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 43 – A

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.

Psalm 43:1-2

1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!
2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Vindicate me. Judge me. Of course David is praying with an assumption of innocence, and that his aggressors to be guilty. Yet this is somewhat of a strange plea if I am honest with myself.

Let me try to explain.

How often have you sought the Lord, and asked Him to judge you? To vindicate includes the concept of judgement, and being used in this passage, must mean that David see’s himself as the offended party, the one who is “guiltless” in the conflict that he is in the middle of.

If anything can be said about King David, he was an honest soul with the Lord. He is looking for a judgement by God, declaring himself to be in the right, and pleading for a defense against the ungodly, deceitful and unjust man.

And yet, I may have spoken somewhat to early, for as I read the first verse, David does not clearly state he is innocent, but as he enters into the second verse, states the reason for his expectation of a good judgement.

Note that verse two starts with “For”. For you are the God in whom I take refuge. Notice that he doesn’t state that the reason he expects a positive judgement is based on his actions directly, but on who he takes refuge in. It is his faith in the covenant keeping God that he is claiming as his defense.

And as I type that, it occurs to me that as modern believers, we tend to use this defense without considering some of the back story to what it means to take refuge in the Lord. Some may have a mental acceptance of the truth of the gospel, and yet in their lives, they take no refuge in Him.

To Take Refuge

As David is writing this psalm, he is obviously in trouble. His enemies are seeking him out, and he is looking for deliverance. Remember my friend, he is a man of war, yet he seeks the Lord for his protection, his refuge from danger.

And that is the point.

To take refuge implies danger, stress, conflict, a storm in your life. David is a man of war, yet he is not depending on his wits, or strategic abilities, his past victories or his command of any army. No, he is taking refuge in the Lord, as opposed to his own strengths, wisdom or abilities.

Let me try to explain this as I understand it.

I was at work the other day, and had a meeting to go into, which may have become somewhat of a storm for myself, a “difficult” meeting. Admittedly, I was tempted to be quiet on a matter of importance for the group. I asked for grace to refrain from “little white lies” which in my opinion, would be taking refuge in my methods. I asked God for strength to tell the truth, though it may cause myself harm. In this minor, tiny, little itty bitty decision, looking back, I think I was taking refuge in the God of my salvation. I trusted Him to provide strength to be factual, and to bring about His will in the midst of the meeting. (By the way, the Lord gave me strength, and provided a wonderful resolution for all!)

To take refuge in Him is to seek to honor the character He displayed while on this ball of dirt and muck. To trust His word, and to practice the outworking of His word in our lives is the message I am getting from this wonderful psalm.

As a believer, if we constantly fall back to our reasonings, our methods, our defenses, and not on His revealed character as displayed in the life of our Messiah, we may have to ask ourselves if we are really following. Of course none of us follow perfectly, (as least speaking for myself), and yet there comes a confidence in trusting in His will, and in asking for the strength to perform his wishes.

So, when I read that David takes refuge in the God of Israel, I read that he is following the Lord, hearing the voice of God, and responding positively in times of danger, in the storms of his life. Did he know all doctrine, pure teaching and all truths? Not at all, and again we are in good standing with the King of Israel. But to the truth he had revealed to him, he sought to follow the will of God as opposed to his own will, though the danger was staring him flat in the face.

Will you?


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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – “Frank” our Neighbor

let-me-tell-you-a-story.jpg

Recently I penned a short post – ECT & Passage 1 – Matthew 5:43-44, 48, in relation to eternal torment. In the post, I asked if a believer may find some condition or circumstance to wreak vengeance on a neighbor. A bit of a foolish question, but bear with me.

Currently, I have superb neighbors, but such was not the case in our past. This story will present to you a neighbor we lived beside years back, and of the mercies (and humor) of the Lord in teaching His children.

I’m going to tell you of a past neighbor, whom I shall call “Frank”, (in order to protect the guilty).

He was a kind fellow at the start, and would refer to my little daughter as a “widdle wabbit”. He kept to himself for the most part, and was without work, being on a disability pension.

I think the descent into madness began when I dug a hole on our property to install a cloths line for my favorite wife. Being in Canada, this hole had to be a minimum of 4 feet deep, to miss the frost line, and the effort was more than I first imagined. After a period of time digging and temporarily placing the excavated material between the hole and the park land to the south. I went in to have supper, letting my wifey know I would set the pole after work on Monday.

Turns out I didn’t get a chance to set the pole, since Monday afternoon I received a call from wifey to come home immediately – the police were in the back yard. Police? On arriving home, I met my wife, two police officers and Frank in the back yard. Frank had filled in the hole with the dirt I had piled to the side, and then called the police to have me charged with trespassing or something silly. Mind you, the pile of dirt was near the public land to the south of our property, but for the life of me, I have no idea why he did this.

In the interest of brevity, what follows is only a few of the highlights of Frank’s acts against our family over the course of three years. He claimed my wife had threatened him and drug her through the court system for a number of months. Please understand, my wife is 5′ 4″ and 110 lbs, dripping wet, while Frank was a 6′ 2″, 240 lb man. He tried multiple methods of intimidating my wife through the courts, though lying about our children, through writing foul letters to our neighbors and signing my name to the letter, through sitting in front of our home with his headlights shining into our bedroom, having the federal police (RCMP) come to our door to question us. You get the idea?

One action that Frank took, though not the most serious, typified his mind set. We had a 4′ hurricane fence between our properties, and he strung barbed wire along the top. He added barbed wire to the little 4′ fir trees on the public land behind his house.

Mind you, we had 5 youngins by this time, and my three oldest boys loved playing in the back yard. What was wrong with this fellow?

During our time in the courts, my wife and I “happened” to be reading the story of David and Saul, and how David would not hurt his king. Out of this reading, we were encouraged greatly to exercise no revenge upon Frank, but to pray for him and to ask the Lord for safety from him.

Don’t misunderstand. We did not consider him to be a chosen king (like Saul), or that he deserved any mercy from anyone. Not at all. What we began to see was our responsibility before God to let God be God and for us to do as He directs His children to do.

A passage that we referred to often through this period is found in Romans 12:17-21.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Many in the neighborhood told us stories after our ordeal, of Frank threatening young children prior to our moving into the neighborhood. It was a difficult time to say the least. At one point, Frank actually phoned into a radio show to complain of the “foreigners” that lived beside him. He ranted about how we should have stayed in our nation of origin, how we were lazy, destructive and of no use. (Both my wife and I have a minimum of five generations in the land of the Great White North.)

Looking back, it is hard to believe of some of this man’s actions toward us. Truly amazing. But as I started this posting, I mentioned the Lord’s humor in all of this trial.

It turns out that after graduating university with my degree – oh yes, this ordeal was going on while I was back in school, spending 60 – 70 hours a week in my studies, that Frank suddenly put his home up for sale. The rumor had it that he wanted to move to a “childless” neighborhood to the north. I am convinced that God had been working behind the scenes and that Frank simply could not find a better solution for his poor troubled soul. Nevertheless, his home sold within a few months, and he eventually moved, but not before seeing our home on the market also.

You see, after receiving my degree, we found employment in the state of Texas. My wife and I had looked to move south for years and an opportunity came up that allowed us to make the jump to a land of sun and heat!

Frank had lost his position of intimidator within the neighborhood, and the story goes that the neighborhood he moved into actually became a young family centric neighborhood. Oodles of little children!

We saw the hand of the Lord many times during this trial, protecting our family, giving us opportunity to speak of the mercy of the Lord, and experiencing a bit of the humor of the Lord. You got to admit, for Frank to sell his house just before us must have been a great frustration to him.

But, the Lord is on His throne. He is watching over His children. He cares and provides, even to the weakest of His followers.

For us, we are to look to the direction He has provided through His word. His witness while He walked on this earth speaks loudly, if we want to hear it. He exercised massive mercy toward those who lied about Him, made outrageous claims against Him, drug Him through the courts, physically beat Him and eventually murdered Him. All the while seeking forgiveness for His very tormentors.

Consider the high calling we have in Jesus. He is our example.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 42 – D

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.

Forgotten

Psalm 42:9-10

I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

Even in the midst of claiming God has forgotten him, the saint refers to God as his rock. This speaks volumes to me, not in the fact that I am experienced in the depth of this saints trial and the resulting settled conviction. No no no. It is that the saint is possibly accepting the blame of his condition, since God is the never changing, stable, dependable rock of his life. It cannot be God who has changed!

He feels forgotten, and I can definitely relate to this condition. I have felt alone and “abandoned” (I speak as a fool) many periods in my life, and as a testimony, looking back, I realize God was protecting me, guiding me and providing for us as a family. He has not forgotten you, yet at times the feeling of aloneness is unquenchable.

Mockery

On top of the internal struggle of claiming God’s stability in the midst of an emotional low, the saint speaks of his adversaries again, of their oppressions, taunting and mockery. Our psalmist paints a vivid picture of the pain inflicted on him through the taunting. The mockery is as a knife buried deep into his bones, a wound that is intended to kill.

What is the taunting about? Is it about his stature in life, a condition of poverty, a lack of education, minimal skill levels, mental disabilities? The taunting focuses on one central topic.

“Where is your God?”

The saint has definitely claimed to know the living God and at this point, the enemy, with their presupposed understanding of God, interprets the saints condition as being proof that God has abandoned him. Get this if you can. The saint has claimed allegiance to the true God, and the taunting is based on a wrong understanding of God.

This is reminiscent of the siege of Jerusalem when Sennacherib claimed the ability to overthrow the True God since he had overthrown the false gods of the land surrounding Jerusalem. (Consider 2 Chronicles 32:9-15)

The taunting of the enemy was based on lies they believed about the True God. This is often the source of mockery and taunting believers have to endure, and the New Testament addresses a proper response in 2 Timothy 2:24-25

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth

Note that we are not to argue, but to be kind to others, looking to teach truth. It is interesting that Paul speaks of patience in this very verse. We should not teach in a demeaning demanding way but understand we all have need understand our own fallibility. Out of this understanding, a genuine humility towards others allows us to be of a patient teacher, knowing we are of the same frailty of knowing truth.

Refocusing on God

Psalm 42:11

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Finally the saint comes to a summary thoughts, still questioning the condition he finds himself in, even though he has recounted his relationship with God through the good times and bad times. (Albeit, this psalm definitely speaks of the bad times more than most psalms!)

He admits to his downfallen condition, and the turnoil within. Denying his condition and putting on a “happy face” was not a solution based in reality for this saint. Admit the struggle, the truth, and ask the hard questions.

In the end, hope in God, for it is inevitable that the saint shall again praise Him. The saint looks forward to the time of rejoicing, even in the middle of sorrow, struggle and pain. This is a great hope, and the Great Hope is our Lord Jesus, for He does carry us through our trials, as we keep our eyes on Him.


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