Friday, August 22, 2008

Psalms of Ascent Part 13

Psa 132:1 A Song of degrees. LORD, remember David, and all his afflictions:
Psa 132:2 How he sware unto the LORD, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;
Psa 132:3 Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed;
Psa 132:4 I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids,
Psa 132:5 Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.
Psa 132:6 Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.
Psa 132:7 We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool.
Psa 132:8 Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.
Psa 132:9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.
Psa 132:10 For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed.
Psa 132:11 The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.
Psa 132:12 If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore.
Psa 132:13 For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.
Psa 132:14 This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.
Psa 132:15 I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread.
Psa 132:16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
Psa 132:17 There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed.
Psa 132:18 His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.

This Psalm shows something of the heart of David towards God. In David’s heart God came first. Before he rested he wanted to be sure that God had a place of rest. From this heart came the tabernacle of David on Zion. This resulted in the promises of God to David, and blessing flowing from Zion to the city and nation round about.

On a personal level this gives us a key to obtaining the promises, presence and blessings of God. This is giving God a place of rest. Making a place for God to dwell in our own lives and placing Him before anything else. It is letting nothing prevent or rob the time you spend with God. From this inner life the blessings flow outward. Verse 17 shows us that it is in the hidden devotional time that power and guidance are obtained. As Walter Beutler said it, “If you build God a house of worship, He will build you a house of ministry.”

Psalms of Ascent Part 12

Psa 131:1 A Song of Ascents; of David. Jehovah, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; Neither do I exercise myself in great matters, Or in things too wonderful for me.
Psa 131:2 Surely I have stilled and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child with his mother, Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psa 131:3 O Israel, hope in Jehovah From this time forth and for evermore.

This Psalm shows the humility necessary to carry on a walk with God. We are called to walk humbly with our God (Mic. 6:8). There are some things that God does that we do not understand, sometimes He will reveal His reasons, but other times He does not. When He chooses not to we must still ourselves. Job a very righteous man, was reproved by God for this fault of requiring of God the why and wherefore of his trial. After He quieted himself, and repented of his hard words toward the Almighty, he was able to see the purpose in the aftermath, in how he was restored more than he had lost.

Often we need to still and quiet ourselves and hope in God. We may not know what God is doing, but we can hope in Him. We can know that He is doing what is best and doing it for our good.

This Psalm is also applicable to doctrinal knowledge. God is a self-revealing God. In His sovereignty He chooses whether to reveal Himself or not to any individual. Apart from His enabling grace we have a natural inability to understand the most basic truths. Yet as we wait on Him, He can illuminate our minds. A key to having understanding of many truths is found in Philippians Chapters 2-3. There the Apostle Paul starts by exhorting the church to have humility and unity by having the same mind that was in Christ (chapter 2); from there he eschews self-righteousness and self-righteous boasting (3:1-7). Then He proceeds to set forth the goal he is pressing towards. In verses 15-16 he states, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.” In other words, our part is to run after the goals stated in the previous verses, to press on to know Christ. If we have imperfections in our thinking and our way of viewing things God will reveal it to us as we set our hearts on obeying Him and following His will (see also John 7:16-17).
Where we see someone differing from us in doctrine, the first thing we must do is focus on our own heart and make sure we are in obedience to Christ, then we should study Scripture and pray that God would reveal clearly the right way to us. It does not hurt to reexamine what we believe in the light of Scripture. If our hearts are aligned with God, He will confirm His truth to our hearts. If, however, our motives are wrong and our desires are not the same as Paul’s goals, than no amount of searching will lead us to the truth. If the person who disagrees with us is wrong, but truly desires to exalt Christ and know Him, Christ will reveal it to him. After all, false doctrine is more embarrassing to Him who is the Truth than to us who only know a small part of it. If the person’s heart is not after God, no work on your part can have any effect anyway. He is able to keep His own without any help from us (that doesn’t mean that we should never correct someone), but if we do and they do not respond, leave it with God, He is able to enlighten the most darkened soul. After all, did He not enlighten you?

One final thought, is that there are some truths that cannot be known in this world, and await revelation in the next. Some things we must wait until eternity to learn. To speculate on those things is to invite confusion. Some of the mystery involving the “how” of the Incarnation, and other similar things are not necessary for us to know. It is enough to know that God became man, fully God, fully Man. We need to be careful not to intrude into God’s realm uninvited.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Psalms of Ascent Part 11

Psa 130:1 A Song of degrees. Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.
Psa 130:2 Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
Psa 130:3 If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
Psa 130:4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
Psa 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
Psa 130:6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
Psa 130:7 Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
Psa 130:8 And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

This Psalm brings out an important element in our Christian life. We all have great depths of sin in our lives. Actual sins committed, but far more sin resident within our hearts, ready to burst out should God not hold it in check. If God looked and was unwilling to blot out our many iniquities, none of us would be able to stand before Him.
God forgives us, because He is forgiving. However there is a second part to that. His forgiveness is so that He may be feared, that His holiness and justice may be revealed, like a criminal standing before a judge convicted, but then given a pardon. It is given that he may have a chance to change not so that he may do that for which he was originally dragged before the judge. This is why Christ said, “Go and sin no more…” The old debt is paid and forgiven so that a change may be brought about.
The Psalmist waits for his deliverance, he knows himself unable to deliver himself from the power of sin. He waits and hopes in the Lord with the same expectancy found in a guard on duty waiting for the glimmer of dawn to show him his work is done.
In the end of this psalm it is shown that God not only forgives sin, but redeems. Redemption is to deliver one from the slavery to the sin. He does this not only for a select few sins, but for all sin. Is there a sin or bondage in your life? Than God desires to redeem you from it, so that you will no longer serve it, but Him. Praise His holy Name!

Psalms of Ascent Part 10

Psa 129:1 A Song of degrees. Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say:
Psa 129:2 Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me.
Psa 129:3 The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows.
Psa 129:4 The LORD is righteous: he hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked.
Psa 129:5 Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Zion.
Psa 129:6 Let them be as the grass upon the housetops, which withereth afore it groweth up:
Psa 129:7 Wherewith the mower filleth not his hand; nor he that bindeth sheaves his bosom.
Psa 129:8 Neither do they which go by say, The blessing of the LORD be upon you: we bless you in the name of the LORD.

The Christian life is not without afflictions, as Psalm 34:19 says, “many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” In spite of the afflictions, the righteous triumph. Those who afflict them do not prevail against them. Christ has made us more than conquerors, and there can be no conquest without a battle. The greater our affliction, the greater the victory as we respond as the Lord would have us respond.

In the end, God does move on our behalf if we do what is right. A certain puritan minister once said that God would plead the cause of the most unrighteous man against even the most godly, and that is true. God as a just judge must act even on the behalf of the wicked when they are wronged. Often in circumstances we have done right, but not perfectly right. Perhaps we are 5% wrong and the other is 95% wrong, God will require of us that 5% before He will move on our behalf. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:6, “And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” God will not aid us in a situation, until our obedience is fulfilled.

Ultimately the plans of those who persecute the godly or fight against God will be defeated. They may flourish for a short time, just like the grass that would bloom on top of the packed earth roofs used in the Levant. However there was no depth in their roots and they would be scorched before they could come to fruition. The counsel of the Lord will stand in spite of all opposition. One of the later Roman emperors known as Julian the Apostate raged against the church and against Christ, yet when he was dying on the field of battle, he acknowledged, “You have conquered, O Galilean!” Christ will conquer but we must make sure we are on His side.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Psalms of Ascent Part 9

Psa 128:1 A Song of degrees. Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.
Psa 128:2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
Psa 128:3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
Psa 128:4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.
Psa 128:5 The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
Psa 128:6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel.

This Psalm is on the theme of the blessedness of the godly. This blessedness is not an absence of labour or an abundance of leisure but is instead an enjoyment of the fruits of labour. As it says in Ecclesiastes 2:24-26, “There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it is from the hand of God. For who can eat, or who can have enjoyment, more than I? For to the man that pleaseth him God giveth wisdom, and knowledge, and joy; but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that pleaseth God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.”

Speaking specifically of Christ, but applicable also in a measure to those who follow Him in the way of the cross is Isaiah 53:11, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” Christ is satisfied in His labour as He enjoys the fruit of many sons brought to glory. Fallen men redeemed and made holy, the spirits of just men made perfect by His atoning sacrifice. In a very real sense His wife is a fruitful vine and His children are olive plants around the table.

The righteous truly do have a wonderful heritage awaiting them both in this life and in the life to come.

Psalms of Ascent Part 8

Psa 127:1 A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
Psa 127:2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
Psa 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Psa 127:4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Psa 127:5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

This Psalm begins by showing the futility of human endeavor. If God is not in whatever we are doing it is vain and will fail. Even if it appears to succeed in the light of eternity it will be a failure. We need to look beyond man and see the hand of God. When God has determined to judge a city all efforts of man will be defeated. In Isaiah 29:14 it says, “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” When the great San Francisco earthquake took place, one of the first casualties was the fire chief. This is one of the reasons why the response to the fire which occurred in the aftermath of the earthquake was ineffective. Unless the Lord keeps the city the watchman wakes in vain.

In the midst of troubles God provides rest for His own. God judged Sodom, but rescued Lot, and as Peter tells us, is able to preserve the righteous even as He judges the wicked. With that in mind we can rest and not worry.

The psalm then goes on to show how children are blessing which God gives. They reach areas that you never could go yourself, even as an arrow can reach somewhere that the archer could not himself. It is the young men, both naturally and spiritually, that are involved in the bulk of warfare. Inheritances are contested in the spirit and it is often the spiritual children who help fight the battles to enter into an inheritance.