Awake to help me, and behold! You therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, Awake to punish all the nations; Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah Many Bible scholars believe that Psalm 59 is possibly one of the first psalms that David wrote. From the title we know that David was the writer and that he intended for it to be used as a song of worship in the temple. It is interesting to remember that David was no doubt a poet and he would express his thoughts, his feelings, and the emotions of his heart in writing these poems. Most of David’s psalms were born out of the times of tremendous trials and adversity that he faced in his life. Many of the hymns and praise songs we sing in our church services today are from the musicians and writers’ heartbreak and life experiences. Psalm 59 is also another "destroy not" Psalm of David. When he gives us this statement in one of his titles, David is reminding us that the person God preserves Satan cannot destroy. The historical background to Psalm 59 comes from 1 Samuel 19, which begins with King Saul telling his men to kill David. But David always seemed to find a friend to help him when his case was peculiarly dangerous. On this occasion that friend was from his enemy's household. It was Michal, Saul's daughter, who also had become his wife. On former occasions it had been Jonathan, Saul's son. God has amazing ways of caring for us! Psalm 59 is a Michtam psalm, which means it is one that is written to be engraven in the mind and memory, in the heart and life. God used David to write at least half of the psalms. Even though David is the writer, writing them out of his life experiences, God is the author who inspires David to write them to be a part of His Holy inspired, infallible Word! “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Apostle Paul also tells us in Romans 15:4: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” David expressed his grief, his pain, his feelings of rejection, his heartaches, his troubles and trials to the LORD in his poems, which for the most part are prayers. So often instead of praying, we are complaining, groaning and telling everyone else about our trouble and pain. The focus of Psalm 59 is on God Who is the Deliverer (vv. 1-9), and Who is the Judge (vv. 10-17). We should note David's repeated "statement of faith" in verses 9 and 17. David waited and watched for God to work, and then he sang praises to the Lord for His mercies. God's people can always turn to the Lord for deliverance in times of danger and testing because He hears our prayers (vv. 1-2). "Defend me" means "set me on high," for David saw the Lord as his fortress and high tower (Psalms18:2; 20:1; 46:7, 11; 91:14). However, David's prayer wasn't a substitute for action, for "faith without works is dead" (James 2:26). Michel's warning and immediate action saved his life, and her use of the "dummy" in the bed helped to buy time for her husband to get to Samuel in Ramah. But it was the Lord who answered prayer and orchestrated the escape. The Lord also knows our hearts (vv. 3-4) and recognized that David was innocent of the charges Saul's men were making against him (Psalm 7:1-5; see 1 Samuel 20:1 and 24:11). No doubt, there is a place and time to share our hearts with those that we believe the Lord puts in our lives during our trials to comfort and help us, and who will encourage us. But first, like David, we should learn to take our burdens to the LORD and find from the Scriptures patience and comfort, and that will give us the hope we need. Who knows how the Lord might then use us to be a blessing to others because of the testimony of His grace that we experienced in the time of our need! God bless!
Psalm 58 is another one of David's imprecatory Psalms. An imprecation is a curse that invokes misfortune upon someone. Imprecatory psalms are those in which the author imprecates; that is, he calls down calamity, destruction, and God’s anger and judgment on his enemies. This type of psalm is found throughout the book. The major imprecatory psalms are Psalms 5, 10, 17, 35, 58, 59, 69, 70, 79, 83, 109, 129, 137, and 140. When studying the imprecatory psalms, it is important to note that these psalms were not written out of vindictiveness or a need for personal vengeance. Instead, they are prayers that keep God’s justice, sovereignty, and protection in mind. God’s people had suffered much at the hands of those who opposed them, including the Hittites, Amorites, Philistines, and Babylonians (the subject of Psalm 137). In writing the imprecatory psalms, the authors sought vindication on God’s behalf as much as they sought their own. As we said yesterday, we can’t be sure when David wrote this particular psalm, but it pretty obvious as you read it why he wrote it. Saul was king or had been king for 40 years and during his reign he himself became very jealous, vindictive, and cruel. He started out humble, but it wasn’t long before pride took over his heart and life and he is gathering and attracting people with the same spirit as himself. I’ll never forget a quote I heard years ago. “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely”. This statement was made by Lord Acton, a British historian of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was his observation that a person's sense of morality lessens as his or her power increases. It appears that this is exactly what happened in King Saul’s reign over Israel. What did David do as he observed the corruption, the injustice, the violence, and chaos that happens in a nation or society that becomes lawless with everyone looking out for their own interest? David did basically what he always did! He turned to the LORD and prayed! In this prayer, David first addressed the lawless leaders and asked them if their words were just, their decisions legal, their sentences fair, and their silences honest. Were they upholding the law and defending the righteous or twisting the law and benefiting the wicked? He knew the answer, and so do we. When they should have spoken, they were silent, and when they spoke, they ignored God's law. The problem? They had evil hearts, for they were born in sin just like the rest of us (51:5; Gen. 8:21). However, they made no effort to seek God's help in controlling that sinful nature but gave in to its evil impulses. It's because humans are sinners that God established government and law, for without law, society would be in chaos. It's from the heart that evil words come out of our mouth and evil deeds are done by our hands. David prays for God to both punish the evildoers and to vindicate the righteous. God vindicates Himself, His law, and His people, and He always does it justly. So effective is His judgment that outsiders will say, "Surely there is a God who judges on earth" (v. 11). While Jesus Himself quoted some imprecatory psalms (John 2:17; 15:25), He also instructed us to love our enemies and pray for them (Matthew 5:44–48; Luke 6:27–38). The New Testament makes it clear that our enemy is spiritual, not physical (Ephesians 6:12). It is not sinful to pray the imprecatory psalms against our spiritual enemies, but we should also pray with compassion and love and even thanksgiving for people who are under the devil’s influence (1 Timothy 2:1). We should desire their salvation. After all, God “is patient . . . not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Above all things, we should seek the will of God in everything we do and, when we are wronged, leave the ultimate outcome to the Lord (Romans 12:19). God bless!
Psalm 58 is another of David's Michtam Psalms, one written to be engraved upon the mind and conscience. It was a Psalm to be remembered with an important lesson. This psalm carries a footnote addressing it to the chief Musician which indicated it is to be incorporated into the repertoire of the temple choir. The songs we sing on Sunday or in times of worship become a constant reminder throughout the rest of the week of the subject and theme of the song. Also, as in the previous two Psalms, it carries the words, "Destroy not!" This could mean several things. It could be saying, “Don’t destroy this Psalm as it has a very important prayer and message”. It could also be saying, “Don’t destroy the righteous people of the land or let them be destroyed by the wicked and unjust people.” Prophetically, it might be a reminder that God will not destroy the Israelite nation as they are His covenant people. With all these signals flashing we can be sure that this is an important intersection as we journey through the psalms. Psalm 58 is a psalm about injustice and about the abuse of judicial power. It is impossible to say exactly when David wrote it. It is possible that it was written during David's exile years when he was fleeing from the wrath of a jealous King Saul. Remember Saul reigned for 40 years and during those years he led the nation down a path of political and spiritual ruin as he disobeyed God's law and opposed God's anointed king. Saul was surrounded by a group of fawning flatterers who fed his ego and catered to his foolish whims (1 Sam. 22:6ff), and he put into places of authority people who used their offices for personal gain and not for the national good. They wanted to get as much as they could before the kingdom collapsed. They could be compared to the bureaucracy in our country today. This is the non-elected governing officials, and administrative policy-making group of people that obviously have their own agenda and who have become corrupt and are running and ruining our beloved America behind the scenes. David himself had been treated illegally, and it's likely that many of his men lost all they had because they followed David (1 Sam. 22:1-2). This psalm could also possibly have been written very early in his reign in Hebron, and may have grown out of his pondering the mess he had inherited from King Saul. And as David came to a full knowledge of just how corrupt the administration of justice in Israel really was, with his passion for justice, the stories of judicial arrogance, venality, and oppression that filled his ears must have made his blood boil. Some think David wrote this psalm during the Absalom rebellion. Absalom had stolen the hearts of the men of Israel by pretending to be far more concerned for their social welfare than David was and by promising the people that, when he came to the throne, he would see to it that the wheels of justice moved swiftly, smoothly, and sympathetically. All the time he was devising the most monstrous crimes, many of which he executed during that brief time when he sat upon the throne. Those crimes made his name so to stink in Israel that all who passed his grave felt the urge to pick up a stone and hurl it at his tomb. One reason there is so much difficulty with the date of Psalm 58 is because the subject matter deals with a perennial problem: the unjust judges and corruption in the courts and in the government. This is a theme that touches us today and this Psalm might not tell us the when behind it, but it does describe the why behind the injustices and how we can pray about it! God bless!
David shares with us some responsibilities and privileges that we as believers have every day. First, David made each day a day of prayer and so should we (vv. 1-5). He began with a cry for mercy, for David depended on the grace of God to see him through his trials. His worship and prayer turned the cave into a Holy of Holies where he could hide under the shadow of the wings of the cherubim on the mercy seat of the ark. David was also committed to making each day is a day of praise (vv. 6-11). You might notice that in verses 1-5, the order is prayer (v. 1), witness to God’s mercy and deliverance (vv. 2-3), and a description of the enemy (v. 4), followed by the refrain. But in this section (vv. 6-11), the order is the enemy (v. 6), witness to the Lord (vv. 7-8), and praise (vv. 9-11), with praise as the emphasis. David now compared his enemies to hunters who dug pits and set traps for their prey. This is an image frequently used in biblical poetry (Psalms 7:15; 9:15-16; 35:7). However, David trusts God and has good reason to sing and praise the Lord. David proclaims, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!” In the Old King James Version it reads, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed”. A steadfast or fixed heart is one that is fixed on the Lord's promises and not wavering between doubt and faith (Psalms 51:10; 108:1; 112:7; 119:5). This same word “fixed”, is used to describe the constancy of the heavenly bodies (8:3; 74:16). A heart that is “fixed” is one that is confident in the truth that God never changes! He is always a God of love and mercy! And He is always a God of justice! You can only have a “fixed” heart if you take the time to listen, read, study, memorize and meditate on God’s Word. Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, is a powerful testimony to the impact and influence of God’s Word in our hearts and life. Today, we also have the added promise in Hebrews 13:8, that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”! It is interesting to note that verses 7-11 are found also in Psalm 108:1-5. David praised the Lord all day long, but he opened the day with special praise and even anticipated the sunrise. Instead of the dawn awakening him, his voice awakened the dawn (Psalm 30:5). Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, years later would write during the darkest time in Israel’s history this testimony to God’s faithfulness: “This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:21-26). David wanted his victory in the Lord to be a witness to the other nations, for as king, he knew that Israel was to be a light to the Gentiles. His psalms bear witness today of the great things God did for him. In verse 3, God sent His mercy and truth down from heaven, but in verse 10, mercy and truth reach up to the clouds! There is plenty for everybody! David also wanted us to know that each day should be a day of exalting the LORD (vv. 5, 11). This refrain calls upon the Lord to manifest His greatness in such a way that people had to say, "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23). If we are praying, trusting, and praising the Lord, we should have no problem exalting His name in all that we say, do, and suffer. We're commanded to do everything to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31), and if "everything" includes hiding in caves, then may the Lord be magnified! The elements of prayer, praise, and a desire for God to be magnified will transform any cave into a Holy of Holies to the glory of God. And we should always be able to say, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed!” God bless!
Psalm 57 is a Psalm that historically follows the preceding Psalm. Remember Psalm 56 was written by David after he had been captured by the Philistines in Gath. When David heard the Philistines repeating the song that the Israelites began singing after his victories in battle over the Philistines, “Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 21:11), David knew they were making plans to kill him. He made plans to escape by acting like an insane madman and King Achish let him go free and he fled for protection to the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1). David later would move to a cave in Engedi (1 Samuel 24), where he probably writes Psalm 142. But here at the cave of Adullam, still fleeing for his life from King Saul, he writes Psalm 57. He knew that it was better to be in the will of God in a cave than out of His will in a king’s palace or trying to find protection in the camp of the enemy. You do crazy things when you sit down at the enemy’s fire seeking to be one of them for protection. Remember when Peter stood at the fire to warm himself with those who were plotting to kill Jesus and then next you know he is cursing and denying that he even knows Jesus (John 18:18-25: Matthew 26:69-74). The title of Psalm 57 also informs us that this Psalm was to be set to the melody "Do Not Destroy". This same melody was also assigned to Psalms 58, 59, and 75. Psalm 57 is also one of the Michtam Psalms of David. For quality this Psalm is called golden, or a secret, and it well deserves the name. We may read the words and yet not know the secret joy of David, which he has locked up in his golden casket. When he fled from Saul in the cave. This is a song from the bowels of the earth, and, like Jonah's prayer from the bottom of the sea, and it has a taste of the place. The poet is in the shadow of the cave at first, but he comes to the cavern's mouth at last, and sings in the sweet fresh air, with his eye on the heavens, watching joyously the clouds floating above. This Psalm covers one day in David's life as a fugitive, for verse 4 records his lying down and verse 8 his waking up to greet the dawn. God quieted his heart and gave him the sleep he needed (see 4:8 and 5:3). Note the repetition of mercy and refuge (v. 1), sends (v. 3), steadfast (v. 7) and awake (v. 8), and refrain in verses 5 and 11. From his difficult experience in Gath and here in the cave, David shares with us some responsibilities and privileges that believers have every day. David made each day a day of prayer and so should we (vv. 1-5). As in Psalm 56:1, he began with a cry for mercy, for David depended on the grace of God to see him through his trials. His worship and prayer turned the cave into a Holy of Holies where he could hide under the wings of the cherubim on the mercy seat of the ark. Read Exodus 25:17-20 and note the verb "overshadowing". This image is found frequently in Scripture and must not be confused with the wings of the bird as in Psalm 91:4. In Psalm 55:6, David wanted the wings of a dove to fly away when what he needed was the wings of the cherubim in "the secret place of the Most High" where he could safely hide (Hebrews 10:19-25). David had taken refuge in the Lord many times in the past, and he knew the Lord was faithful. The word "calamities" means "a destructive storm that could engulf me." David included a song of praise in his evening prayer (v. 5) and lay down and went to sleep. David didn't pray only at bedtime, as too many people do, but all day long; however, he closed the day with a special time of worship and commitment. May the Lord help us to do the same as we take refuge “in the shadow of His wings” at the mercy seat! God bless!
In God (I will praise His word), In the LORD (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to You, For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living?” When we start walking by sight rather than faith, we are always going to make the wrong choices. Remember and how they looked on the outside, that each one of them must be the one he was to anoint as the next king of Israel. He would have made a wrong choice if God hadn’t told him that “God does not look on outward appearances but that He looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). After King Saul has attempted to kill David on several occasions, David must have “wandered” away from his faith and began to walk by sight. He asked Ahimelech the priest for the huge sword of the giant Goliath to better defend himself. He thought going to the Gath and living among the Philistines would be the safest place for him. Maybe he even believes the sword would scare the Philistines. Whatever he is thinking, it apparently was motivated by the outward circumstances rather than faith and trust in the LORD. Now he is in a mess and Psalms 34 and 56 are born out of this dilemma he has got himself in. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, that we can take courage when we face death because “we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” And in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, Paul goes on to tell us: “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” The turning point for David is in Psalm 56:8 when he confesses his “wandering” away from the Lord: “You number my wanderings”; He repents with tears: “Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?” And he acknowledges that God has a record of all of these things in his life! The turning point for David’s deliverance from this terrible situation is found in the renewal of his faith in God’s Word. “When I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me.” (v. 9). This should encourage us because we now have the double promise of this truth, not only here, but in Romans 8:31-32: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” David then repeats verse 4 in a similar way in verses 10-11, but he used the covenant name "Jehovah" this time. “In God (I will praise His word), In the LORD (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” He affirms his trust in Jehovah and almighty God with praise for the promises in His word! My friend, we should be greatly comforted and encouraged today by this great lesson from the life of David and this Psalm he wrote to put it in “stone”. And today we have the added promise in Romans 8:35-38: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Now, like David we can keep our “vows” we have made to the Lord, we can praise Him, and we can “walk before God In the light of the living” (v. 13). God bless!
As we begin our study and meditations on Psalm 56 we again need to remember that the Psalms are not in the historical order in which they took place. David wrote Psalm 55 later in life, after he had been king of Israel for some time. He was fleeing for his life because his son Absalom was leading a revolt against him (2 Samuel 15-16). The title of Psalm 56 informs us that it was written by David years earlier as a young soldier when he had been captured by the Philistines in Gath. 1 Samuel 21 gives us the history and story of this desperate time in his life. King Saul in his great jealousy had already attempt to personally kill David on several occasions. When fleeing from him this time, David went alone to Nob to Ahimelech the priest to get some food and get the sword of Goliath. For some reason he had in his mind that he would be safer with the Philistines at Gath where Saul would be afraid to come. Maybe he thought the sword of Goliath would scare the Philistines reminding them of his victory over Goliath a few years earlier. Whenever we come under great duress and pressure, we don’t always think very clearly! Our faith can turn to fear and we make some terrible decisions. That is what happened when David went to Achish, the king of the Philistines at Gath. Remember Gath is the hometown of Goliath (1 Samuel 17), and he still has four living brothers who no doubt hated David (2 Samuel 21:18-21). You have to wonder what David was thinking, because just the opposite happened. At Gath they did remember, and they wanted revenge. They capture David and probably throw him into some kind of jail, or tie in up in the middle of the city. They want to publicly humiliate him, mock him and deride him, and probably are taking time to decide how they are going to kill him. The words and prayer of this Psalm must have formed in the mind of David as he is in this time of total despair, in fear of his life. This Psalm reveals that his life was in great danger, and history tells us that he had to pretend to be insane in order to escape (1 Sam. 21:10-22:1). The musical inscription is translated variously: "the silent dove among those far away," "the silent dove among the strangers," "the dove on the distant oaks (or terebinths)." David feels totally helpless like a dove and all alone. Psalm 34 also came out of this experience in Gath and was probably written after his escape from the Philistines. Psalm 34:6-7: “This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.” In the midst of peril and fear (vv. 3, 4, 11), David cries out to the LORD! Interestingly, Psalm 56 stands shoulder to shoulder with Psalm 55, where the troubles were caused by David's family and friend; here they are caused by David's foes. There he was depressed; here he is optimistic. Trouble is trouble, but where it comes from can make a big difference. David remembers God’s Word and His promises and encourages himself in the mercy, mindfulness, and might of God. That is a great way to face a hopeless situation. Life is full of situations far beyond our limited powers to control: situations at work and at home, with our families, in the fellowship, in matters of finance, and in matters of our future. Fear and despair can overwhelm us but, like David, we can remember the promises of God in His Word and then let our fear drive us to return to faith. “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” (v. 4). “In God (I will praise His word), In the LORD (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (vv. 10-11). God bless!
David wrote Psalm 55 when he was fleeing for his life because his son Absalom had stolen the hearts of the people and turned them against his father. You can read the history and circumstances of this Psalm in 2 Samuel 15-16. The "friend" of verses 12-14 and 20-21 had to be David's counselor Ahithophel who had sided with Absalom. Psalm 55 reveals four possible approaches to handling the painful problems and battles of life. In verses 1-5, David’s first focus was to look within at his own feelings. But before he did that, he cried out to God in prayer (vv. 1-2). In verses 6-8, David expressed what most of us want to do when we feel like we have been hurt by our friends and family. He wanted to “fly away like a dove to the wilderness and never come back”. In verses 9-15, David focused on the reality of the circumstances around him. David wasn't living in denial; he knew what was going on around him. Finally in verses 16-23, David looked up to God and put his trust in Him. While it's normal for us to hope for a quick way of escape, and important for us to understand our feelings and circumstances, it's far more important to look up to God and ask for His help. David could no longer lead an army into battle, but he was able to pray that God would defeat the rebel forces, and God answered his prayers. David used Jehovah, the covenant name of God, when he said, "The LORD will save me" (v. 16). The Jews did have stated hours of prayer (Daniel 6:10; Acts 3:1), but "evening, morning, and at noon" (v. 17) means that David was praying all day long! He no doubt also prayed at night (v. 10). David was certain that the Lord would hear him and rescue him because He was enthroned in heaven and in complete control. David's throne was in danger, but God's throne was secure (9:7-8; 29:10; 74:12). During his difficult years of preparation, David had experienced many changes, and this taught him to trust the God who never changes (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17). Absalom and his friends had lived in luxury and ease and knew very little about the challenge of changing circumstances, so they had no faith in God or fear of God. A prosperous life is an easy life until you find yourself in the midst of the storm, and then you discover how ill-prepared you are; for what life does to us depends on what life finds in us. As David is fleeing, he must have been told by a prophet, “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you….” He then writes it down for everyone to read in the time of their trouble! This promise is repeated in 1 Peter 5:7: “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”. The word translated "burden" or "cares," means, "that which he has given you," reminding us that even the burdens of life come from the loving heart and hand of God (Psalm 33:11; Romans 8:28). When David's lot was a happy one, it came from the Lord (Psalm 16:5-6), and when he experienced times of pain and sorrow, the Lord was still in control. David closed the Psalm by speaking to the Lord and affirming his faith (v. 23). He was confident that God would judge his enemies. Absalom and Ahithophel “would not live out half their days”. Ahithophel went out and hanged himself and Absalom was killed in the battle. We should remember, our Lord Jesus Christ, like David, also had a traitor who hanged himself (Matthew 27:1-10). Like David, Jesus also crossed the Kidron Valley (2 Samuel 15:23; John 18:1), that Jesus also wept on the Mount of Olives (2 Samuel 15:30; Luke 22:39-44; Hebrews 5:7), and that Jesus was also rejected by His own people (John 1:11). And that today Jesus is enthroned in heaven and will one day return to Jerusalem to establish His kingdom (Zech. 14:4-21). My friend, today you can safely put your trust in Him! God bless!
This is another one of the Psalms that David wrote when he was fleeing for his life because his son Absalom had stolen the hearts of the people and turned them against his father. You can read the history and circumstances of this Psalm in 2 Samuel 15-16. It's likely that this psalm was written early in Absalom's rebellion, when David was still in Jerusalem (vv. 9-11), and the revolt was gathering momentum. If so, then the "friend" of verses 12-14 and 20-21 had to be David's counselor Ahithophel who had sided with Absalom. Psalm 55 reveals four possible approaches to handling the painful problems and battles of life. In verses 1-5, David’s first focus was to look within at his own feelings. But before he did that, he cried out to God in prayer (vv. 1-2). In verses 6-8, David expressed what most of us want to do when we feel like we have been hurt by our friends and family. He wanted to “fly away like a dove to the wilderness and never come back”. Now in verses 9-15, David focused on the reality of the circumstances around him. David wasn't living in denial; he knew what was going on around him. Have you ever known someone who lives in complete denial of their problems? I’ve known some people who were “so positive” and optimistic that they would never admit that they even had a problem. And as a result, they never attempted to do anything to resolve them or deal with them. It was like they lived in a dream world. David, hurt as he was by his son Absolom’s rebellion and revolt to take over the kingdom, still took time to evaluate the situation and continued to directed operations in a masterful manner, worthy of his reputation. What did he see? “For I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go around it on its walls; Iniquity and trouble are also in the midst of it. Destruction is in its midst; Oppression and deceit do not depart from its streets” (vv. 9-11). He saw violence, confusion, chaos, division, lawlessness, and trouble. He saw destruction of property, and the people being oppressed by deceit and corruption. Goodness! That sounds almost the same as what we see in our beloved country today! Of course this is always what happens when someone or a group of people are selfishly trying to have their own way rather than God’s way. It was about money, greed, and power! It was about who was in control! Only God can help David out of this mess and my friend only God can bring peace and resolution to our problems in our country today. Among the rebels, David singled out one person who broke his heart, and that was Ahithophel, "a man like myself." As David's counselor, Ahithophel was not equal to the king in rank or authority, but he was very close to David. They had worshipped the Lord together, but now Ahithophel was counseling David's son to rebel against his father! In verses 20-21, David again mentioned Ahithophel, his violation of the covenant of friendship with David, and his deceptive persuasive speech. But God used Hushai to overrule Ahithophel's plans so that Absalom was defeated and David spared (2 Sam. 17). The picture in verse 15 reminds us of God's judgment on Korah, Dathan and Abiram because of their rebellion against Moses (Num. 16:28-33). David was God's anointed king, and the Lord protected him. We can’t live in denial of our problems in our personal lives or country, but we can face them by praying and trusting God to do what only He can do. And in the meantime, He “He will sustain us” in the midst of them! God bless!
Psalm 55 is another of the “Maschil Psalms”. Or what is also called here a “Contemplation of David. There seems little doubt that David wrote this psalm when Absalom's rebellion was coming to a head in Jerusalem. As a Maschil Psalm, it was written for instruction. It was as much a sermon as a song. One of my favorite verses in the entire book of Psalms is found in this chapter in verse 22: “Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” This is another one of the Psalms that David wrote when he was fleeing for his life because his son Absalom had stolen the hearts of the people and turned them against his father. You can read the history and circumstances of this Psalm in 2 Samuel 15-16. It's likely that this psalm was written early in Absalom's rebellion, when David was still in Jerusalem (vv. 9-11), and the revolt was gathering momentum. If so, then the "friend" of verses 12-14 and 20-21 had to be David's counselor Ahithophel who had sided with Absalom. If this psalm was David's prayer while still in Jerusalem, then his prayer in 2 Samuel 15:31 is simply a repetition of verse 9. Psalm 55 reveals four possible approaches to handling the painful problems and battles of life. In verses 1-5, David’s first response to this overwhelming problem is the same that we often have. He looked within at his own feelings. David opened with a plea that he often made to the Lord, that He would not hide His face from his supplications. "Don't ignore my prayer!" (See Psalms 10:1; 13:1; 27:9; 44:24; 69:17; 143:7.) David knew that his own negligence as a father had turned Absalom against his father, the Lord, and the nation. He also knew that the revolt was part of the discipline that Nathan the prophet promised because of David's adultery and the murder of Uriah (2 Sam. 12:9-12). What David heard and saw in the city distressed him greatly (vv. 2, 17), and he realized that his own life was in danger. The opposition was bringing trouble upon him the way soldiers fling stones at the enemy or roll down rocks upon them (v. 3). But David's concern was for the safety of his people and the future of the Lord's promises to his own dynasty (2 Sam. 7). He felt like everything was falling apart and there was no hope. It's natural to look at our feelings and express our fears, but that isn't the way to solve the problems. Next in verses 6-8, David begins to look beyond for a safe refuge. When we find ourselves in the midst of trouble, our first thought is, "How can I get out of this?" But the dedicated believer needs to ask, "What can I get out of this?" David had learned some strategic lessons while hiding in the wilderness from Saul, but in his later years, he had some more important lessons to learn. The human heart longs for a safe and peaceful refuge, far from the problems and burdens of life. Doves can fly long distances and they seek for safe refuges in the high rocks (Jer. 48:28). But we don't need wings like a dove so we can fly away from the storm. We need wings like an eagle so we can fly above the storm (Isa. 40:30-31). More than once, David had prayed that the Lord would "hide him," and He answered his prayers (Psalms 17:8; 27:5; 64:2). David did flee Jerusalem (2 Sam. 15:14-37) and lodged in the wilderness across the Jordan River at Mahanaim. If we have been tempted to give up, to run away from our problems, then this is the Psalm for us. Most of us have been where David was in this Psalm, hard pressed by circumstances that are partly our own fault, but which have passed beyond our control. The only thing to do is to fling ourselves into the arms of God, as David did at the close of this Psalm. “Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you…” (v. 22). God bless!
You might have heard the saying, “The best teacher is experience”. No doubt in some ways this is true but honestly it is possible that an experience might get you killed, and you won’t live to learn from it. I’ve concluded over the years that the best teacher is the Word of God! God in His Word teaches how to live and how to respond to the trials and suffering we might have to face in life. In His Word we also can learn from the experience of others. From Psalm 54 we can learn how to respond to the pain of betrayal of those we had hoped would help us in our time trouble. David was fleeing for his life from Saul and had been betrayed by the Ziphites, who were from the same tribe as he was, the tribe of Judah. You can read about how they betrayed David two different times in 1 Samuel 23:19-23 and 1 Samuel 26:1-4. Once was bad enough, but twice must have really hurt! What can we learn from David’s experience? David was the rightful king of Israel, and the future of the nation and the dynasty lay with him. This included the promise of Messiah, who would come from David's line (2 Sam. 7). "Save me, O God, by your name" means "on the basis of your character," especially His strength (v. 1) and faithfulness (v. 5). We need to remember Psalm 9:10: “And those who know Your name put their trust in You. For you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.” David promised to praise God's name after the great victory (v. 6). He used three different names of God in this brief psalm: Elohim (vv. 1, 2, 3, 4), Adonai (Lord, v. 4), and Jehovah (Lord, v. 6). "Hear my prayer" (v. 2) is a favorite approach with David (Psalms 4:1; 39:12; 143:1). "Strangers" (v. 3) doesn't suggest that his enemies were Gentiles. It can describe anybody who has turned his or her back on someone, which the Ziphites certainly did to David, their king. Why did they do it? Because they disregarded the Lord and His will for the nation of Israel. Unlike David (Ps. 16:8), “they did not set God before them” (v. 3). David puts his confidence in the Lord (v. 4). This is the central verse of the psalm, and it records the turning point in David's experience. The word translated "help" or "helper" is related to "Ebenezer" in 1 Samuel 7:12, "Thus far the Lord has helped us" and is a word David often used in his prayers (Psalms 10:14; 30:10; 33:20; 79:9; 86:17; 115:9-11). It's worth noting that Jonathan visited David about this time, and the Lord used him to encourage His servant (1 Sam. 23:16-18). The Lord doesn't always send angels to encourage us; sometimes He uses other believers to minister to us (see Acts 9:26-28; 11:19-26). Every Christian ought to be a Barnabas, a "son of encouragement." David concludes this prayer by praising the LORD (vv. 5-7). Twice David had opportunity to slay Saul but refrained from doing so, for He knew that God would one day deal with the rebellious king (see 1 Sam. 26:8-11). "He will pay back evil to my enemies" (v. 5). (Also see Psalms 7:15-16, 35:7-8, Prov. 26:27, 28:10, 29:6.) David was away from the sanctuary, but he lifted his voice in praise to God, and his words were like a freewill offering to the Lord (Heb. 13:15). In verses 1-6, David spoke directly to the Lord, but in verse 7, he spoke to those around him and gave witness to the blessing of the Lord. His words revealed his faith, for he spoke of his deliverance as already completed as he looked calmly at his enemies (Psalms 22:17; 59:10; 92:11; 118:7). David had more suffering and peril to experience before he would ascend the throne, but he was confident that the Lord would see him through—and He did! And the LORD will see us through too if we know His name and put our trust in Him! Today, let us learn from the “Best Teacher”. God Bless!
"Save me, O God, by Your name, And vindicate me by Your strength. Hear my prayer, O God; Give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen up against me, And oppressors have sought after my life; They have not set God before them. Selah" I’ve been reading the Psalms on a daily basis for now over 50 years, and they never get old, and I never get tired of them. Every day they seem to reach down into my heart and give me insight into the heart of God and give me strength and courage for the tasks I face each day. They give me encouragement for the issues and troubles and trials I encounter. They teach me how to pray for mercy and grace when I sin against a holy and just God. And they instruct me how to face my enemies and those who might be trying to oppose us and take us down. Psalm 54 is one of those Psalms that help us deal with the betrayal of those that we would have thought would be on our side to help us when we were facing a death and life struggle. From the title we again learn the history behind the birth of this prayer of David. This is a maschil psalm, or in some translations it is called, “a contemplation”. Psalm 54 is the seventh of thirteen such Psalms, all of which are psalms of instruction with a sermonic quality about them and a lesson to teach. Some translations also use "To the chief Musician on Neginoth", instead of “With stringed instruments”. The word neginoth means "smitings." There are eight psalms which have this note attached, and they all contain a record of deliverance from personal smitings. The worse pain we face is not always physical, but emotional. Especially when it comes from a friend or someone we think we should be able to trust. Remember this happened to Jesus when Judas betrayed Him. David wrote this Psalm when he was a hunted fugitive, fleeing from place to place, never more than a step away from death. Saul was intent on killing him, and at his court informers whispered lies into his jealous ears and kept his hatred and suspicion of David inflamed. Some of these men were hirelings, some were envious former companions of David. David never felt safe and, as the heat of pursuit increased, he found he could not trust even those who should have been at his side. The Ziphites, whose little town lay fifteen miles southeast of Hebron and within the boundaries of the tribe of Judah, David's tribe, were a case in point. The Ziphites betrayed David on two separate occasions. The first time was in 1 Samuel 23:19-23. By the time Saul showed up David had moved his small group of men to another location. And Saul was called back to his home territory because the Philistines had attacked. The second time the Ziphites betrayed David is found 1 Samuel 26:1-3. This is no doubt sometime later and this time David could have had Saul killed but chose to spare his life (1 Samuel 26:4-25). That Saul should suspect him and seek to slay him was inexcusable but understandable. But the Ziphites should have at least maintained a friendly neutrality. Instead they curried favor with Saul by betraying David on these two occasions. How did David respond to this treachery and pain of betrayal? He did what he always did, He prayed! “Save me, O God, by Your name, And vindicate me by Your strength. Hear my prayer, O God; Give ear to the words of my mouth” (v. 1). And that is what we should also do when we face this kind of trial and pain of betrayal. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, and telling everyone about it on social media, we should tell the Lord about it and ask for His deliverance and help. Today we can come boldly to the throne of grace, where we can obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of our need! (Hebrews 4:16). God bless!
Happy Mother’s Day! Today, I want to take time to honor our mothers. I have been especially blessed with three of the greatest mothers in the world in my own life. My own mother, Albertina Kozlovsky Grooms, my mother-in-law, Louise Winston Obenshain, and my wife Edith, the mother of our children and Nana of our 18 grandchildren. I know today can be especially difficult for many people because of several reasons. Maybe your mother passed away this past year and this is your first Mother's Day without her. Or even though it was years ago, you still missed her greatly. It might be that you could never biology give birth to a child and this day brings back the emotional pain and possible guilt you feel because of it. It is possible that you grew up in a dysfunctional abusive family and you can’t recall too many good experiences with your mother. It is my prayer that what the devil meant for evil in your life, by God’s grace you will experience His spirit of forgiveness through Jesus Christ and find hope and healing to break that chain of pain and bad memories. My mother-in-law, Louise, was never able to give birth to a child because of medical reasons. But she became a mother when she and her husband Elmer adopted two orphaned children, Edith and Peyton. Louise lost her husband to a heart attack when Edith was 10 years old and experienced another tragic lost a few years later when Peyton was killed in a gun accident. Louise never lost her faith and worked hard to be the best mother possible to my wife and took me in as her own son after we got married. She went to be with the Lord on February 10, 2001. We still love and miss her greatly. A few years ago, I found in one of my mother’s Bibles a three by five index card with a handwritten prayer that my mother had written years earlier. Her prayer was: “That Mike may be filled with the knowledge of His will in wisdom and spiritual understanding, being fruitful every good work, to be strengthened with all might to His glorious power”. My mother loved the Lord and prayed for all five of her children. But I feel especially honored that we found this specific and personal prayer that she prayed for me and took the time to write and record it on this card. Mothers, there is no greater legacy and gift that you can give to your children than your prayers along with a Godly life. Please take the time to pray for your children, especially in these very difficult days in which we live. My mother went to be with the Lord on October 11, 2018, and we all missed her very much. She was an awesome grandmother and great-grandmother too! I also want to honor my beautiful and wonderful wife Edith on this special Mother’s Day! I’m convinced the first thing that makes her such a great and wonderful mother is that she is an awesome wife! She prays for me, supports me, encourages me, corrects me, comforts me, and assists me. And maybe most of all, she forgives me often for all the foolish and dumb things that I do. And she is always there for me! My wife, and the mother of our children, is also the reason we have been blessed with such wonderful children! She set an example before them of how to love others and accept them unconditionally. She showed them how to give up all the rights to yourself to serve and bless others. As a pastor’s wife, she was willing to give me up, and sacrifice her time with me, so that I could help and minister to other people. If I have enjoyed any success as a pastor, it is because of the love, diligence, loyalty and prayers of my wife, the mother of our children, my mother, and my mother-in-law! These awesome women have sacrificed their entire lives for the sake of Christ and the Gospel! They truly and completely fit the description of the Godly Woman in Proverbs 31, and today deserve to be praised and to be blessed! God bless!
Psalm 53 is almost a verbatim repeat of Psalm 14. When God repeats something in Scripture, it is for a reason, and it should definitely get our attention. Even in this chapter we find several phrases or words repeated. “They are corrupt” in both verses 3 and 5. “There is none who does good”, also in verses 1 and 3. Remember when we looked at the previous Psalm 52, we talked about how God is good all the time. “Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The goodness of God endures continually” (Psalm 52:1). But here in Psalm 53, we are told that “man is corrupt, does not seek God, and cannot do good”. “No, not one.” Because of the corruption of our hearts, we live as if there was no God. We become a slave to sin and in bondage to Satan and the world. We live in constant fear and instead of running to God, we hide and run from Him. Isaiah said it this way in Isaiah 53:3 & 6: “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him…. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, everyone, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” We live in a time and a culture that denies and rejects the God of the Bible. As a result of their corruption and wickedness, they even deny His existence, and they hate and despise those who do believe. “They eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God…” (v. 4). Because the righteousness of Godly believers, who love and live for Jesus, is a condemnation to their ungodly and evil ways, they do not want them around. It is no wonder that Christians have always been persecuted. They hated and killed the most perfect Person Who ever lived, Jesus Christ. And they hate and persecute those who follow Jesus. This is the spirit of the Antichrist that is prevailing today in America! They are living a lie! A life that is empty and vain with no real meaning. 1 John 2:22 tells us the mark of the Antichrist: "Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son." Atheism is a characteristic of Antichrist. In the last days the forces of atheism will be headed up in him. Of him Paul wrote: "Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2Thess. 2:4). This psalm ends with an expression of longing on the part of the believing remnant. Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When God brings back the captivity of His people, Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad” (v. 6). Just like Jesus Christ is going to save Israel from the captivity of Antichrist at the end of the Tribulation, we can be delivered from the bondage of sin and Satan by the death and blood of Jesus today! Hebrews 2:14-15 assures us: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Salvation for all has come out of Zion! Jesus Christ will give hope and eternal life who anyone who repents and by faith receives Him. Today if we trust Him, we can “rejoice and be glad” (v. 6). God bless!
Have you ever wondered where corruption comes from? Well, Psalm 53 gives us a pretty good idea where to look for its source. But first we need to get a little background for the writing of this Psalm. The title seems to attribute it to David. “It is called “a Maschil or a contemplation of David.” Maschil means that it is to be used to instruct or to be a lesson. Also it was given to the leader of the choir or the “chief musician”. This meant it would have been intended to be sung or put to music. We know that we remember the words of a song a whole lot better when we sing them to some tune. Somehow the tune brings back the words to our mind. That is why the Psalms became the “hymn book” of Israel and also the early church. Paul told the church at Colossae: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). To the church at Ephesus he wrote: “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). Psalm 53 was also to be “Set to Mahalath”. Mahalath has to do with sickness and sorrow, and it corresponds to the mournful condition of Israel when they forget God and go into captivity as punishment for their idolatry and for their sins. Prophetically, this Psalm could also be looking forward to the time of the Antichrist who will proclaim “there is no God” and will persecute Israel and God’s people in the Tribulation period. One of the most interesting things about Psalm 53 is that it is almost a verbatim repeat of Psalm 14. It is thought that the writer was possibly a musician who simply copied Psalm 14 and set it to new music with the exception of a few words. Many believe that David wanted to make sure the message in Psalm 14 was remembered so he wrote it again. In any case, when God repeats something in the Bible we should take “double” heed to it! The major difference between Psalm 14 and Psalm 53 lies in the way the name of God is used. In Psalm 14 the name Jehovah is used four times and the name Elohim is used three times. Psalm 53 uses the name Elohim seven times. That is significant. Elohim is God's name as Creator. Now notice at what point atheism breaks through. It is relative to creation. The Bible, which is God's revelation, is denied and is no longer considered trustworthy, infallible, and inerrant. The first chapters of Genesis are branded as folklore and myth, even by some men who claim to be believers. Evolution is adopted as the explanation for the origin of all things. If there is no God, you must somehow explain how we all got here. Interesting, this Psalm doesn’t say the fool says out loud there is no God. He says it in his heart. He says it because of the corruption and sin in his heart that he wants to continue in. If he can convince himself there is no God to give an account to, he can do what he wants and not worry about it! Read Romans 1:18 where it says that sinful, wicked people who “suppress the truth by their wickedness”. Why do people profess to be atheist? It is because they are corrupt, they do evil rather than good, they do not seek God, they are workers of iniquity, and they can’t stand people who love and live for the Lord! (vv. 1-4). You don’t hear to many politicians proclaiming, “there is no God”. But their policies, lives and lies, obviously display the corruption of their heart. The sad thing is, far too many of us, as professing Christians, are practical atheist! Most of the time we are living our lives as if there was no God! May the Lord forgive and help us today! God bless!
In this Psalm, David is writing about his thoughts and emotions that he experienced when he heard that a very wicked man by the name of Doeg has told King Saul that he had visited the Ahimelech the priest and asked for bread for his men. David doesn’t know it yet but as result of this visit, Doeg is going to be commanded by Saul to kill Ahimelech and 85 other priest, as well as all their family members who lived in the city of Nob (1 Samuel 21-22). David, at this time, just knows something very bad is going to happen and he is upset. In preparing for this chat, I couldn’t help but think of Psalm 11:3: “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” What can we do as God’s people when we see wicked and evil people in the high places of authority and government with “their tongues devising destruction, being deceitful, promoting evil rather than good and lying about their corruption and motives” (v. 2). And then on top of that, “they boast about their evil” (v. 1), because they think they are getting by with it. What should be our response? What can we do? My friend, we can do what David did. He prayed and remembered the “goodness of God that endures continually” (v. 1). We also need to reflect on the goodness of the character of our God that never changes. You have heard the saying, “God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good”. We usually say that when things are going good for us and fail to remember that God is still good even when things are going bad for us! We definitely need to remember this with all the evil and corruption we are experiencing in our country these days! David derisively calls Doeg, “O mighty man”, which is the equivalent of us calling someone a "big shot". The wicked definitely are thinking more highly about themselves than they should! They might be boasting now but it will not last. David points out that their end is coming. “God shall likewise destroy you forever; He shall take you away, and pluck you out of your dwelling place, And uproot you from the land of the living” (v. 5). Verse 5 is the central verse of the psalm and marks the turning point in David's experience as he contemplated the wickedness of the human heart. He was confident that God would one day judge Saul, Doeg, and all who follow their evil philosophy of life. The righteous would only see but not experience this devastation (Psalm 91:8), and they would stand in awe of the holy wrath of God (Psalm 40:3). Then they would laugh in derision at the humiliating fall of these pompous leaders along with God (Psalm 2:4). What Saul and Doeg did to the priestly community at Nob (1 Sam. 22:6ff), the Lord would do to them, for sinners ultimately fall into the pits they dig for others (Psalm 9:15; Prov. 26:24-28; 29:6). The contrast is clear: the wicked are like uprooted trees, but the godly are like flourishing olive trees that are fruitful and beautiful. Saul and Doeg would perish, rejected by the Lord, but David and his dynasty would be safe in the house of the Lord! David was a blessing to the nation while he lived and long after he died—and he is a blessing to us today. He trusted God's lovingkindness and the Lord did not fail him, and he never failed to give God the glory. The phrase "wait on thy name" (v. 9), means to hope and depend on the character of God as expressed in His great name. Don’t forget God is always good and even though evil may seem to triumph, we must continue to obey and serve the Lord and not get discouraged. The "last laugh" belongs to the Lord's people. God bless!
As we study through the Psalms, we need to remember that they are not in order as to when they took place in history. Psalm 52 actually took place years before Psalm 51 was written and had taken place. In Psalm 51 we read of David’s confession of his sin of adultery and murder after he had successfully set up his kingdom. The story and history behind Psalm 51 is found in 2 Samuel 11-12. The long title of Psalm 52 tells us exactly what the story is behind David writing it. You can and should read 1 Samuel 21-22 to get the fullest understanding of David’s heart and emotions as he is writing this Psalm. This Psalm is called a “Contemplation”, a “Maschil Psalm”, which is a Psalm of instruction. It is also the first of a series or four Psalms (Psalms 52, 53, 54, 55) that are grouped together and called “Maschil Psalms. David is no doubt somewhat angry as he writes this “imprecatory Psalm”, calling down the righteous vengeance of God upon an evil man named Doeg. But this psalm was not the result of malice and spite as it deals with the inescapable justice of God. Doeg was an Edomite, which was a black mark on any man's name in Israel especially in later years, for the Edomites, although close kin to the Israelites, were bitter enemies of the people of God. Herod the Great, who massacred the babes of Bethlehem, was an Edomite. Doeg was an Edomite. Yet somehow, despite his alien background, he had attained high rank in Israel, for he was chief of Saul's herdsmen. Any hatred King Saul harbored against David was magnified and intensified in the heart of Doeg Doeg was dangerous and ungodly man. This also speaks ill of Saul that he would keep a man of Doeg's disposition about him. But he did and that highlights one of the great differences between Saul and David. David kept some rough characters around him, too, but David had a way with men and contact with David transformed them. Contact with Saul just brought out the worst in those around him. When you read 1 Samuel 21-22, you find that at this time David was a fugitive running from jealous King Saul. King Saul had already made sixteen attempts to murder David, and David, taking matters into his own hands, decided to flee the country and find refuge with the Philistines. Saul was afraid of the Philistines. He might have had a long arm, but did not dare thrust it into Philistine country. Hurrying over Mount Olivet, David came to Nob. In those days the ancient Tabernacle rested at Nob in the shade of the olive trees which clothed the slopes and summit of Olivet. In those days, too, the high priest of Israel resided there. He was Ahimelech, a descendant of Eli and a man with a healthy fear of king Saul. Ahimelech saw David coming and was not eager to meet him. David asked for bread for himself and his men and Ahimelech gave David the consecrated loaves from the table of shewbread in the holy place of the Tabernacle—loaves set aside by divine decree for the use of the priests alone. (Jesus mentions this incident in the Gospels). David also asked for the sword of Goliath and got it from Ahimelech. He noticed that Doeg, the chief herdsman of Saul was there and knew that it was probably future trouble. And sure enough, later when David is hiding in the cave at Adullam, someone tells him that Doeg has reported to King Saul about his visit with Ahimelech. We believe that is when David responded and wrote this Psalm. We all have experienced the presence of evil people in our lives. and it is very difficult to deal with them. After David addresses Doeg’s evil, proud boasting, calling him a “big shot”, he immediately reminds himself that “the goodness of God endures continually.” (v. 1). We need to keep that in mind as we ask for God’s grace in responding to the evil in the world around us! God bless!
“Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.' In this great prayer of confession and repentance that David poured out before God, he first asked to be washed and cleansed (vv. 1-7). Then David prayed for the Lord to renew and restore him by once again filling him with the Holy Spirit (vv. 8-12). Now in verses 13-19, David is praying that God will use him once again to teach others how to be forgiven of their sins and live for the Lord. As I begin to prepare for this chat today, I had a verse of Scripture that immediately came to my mind in Isaiah 1:18. "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” Isaiah lived over 500 years after the time of King David, and no doubt had access to Psalm 51. When you read the entire first chapter of Isaiah you might get the idea that Isaiah patterned his first message to an idolatrous and sinful nation from Psalm 51. The people and religious leaders of Isaiah’s day were going through the outward rituals of worship with their many sacrifices, but they had unconfessed sin in their hearts. They were committing adultery on God as they shed the innocent blood of their children to the pagan gods of the heathen around them. Adultery is known as the “scarlet sin” and murder is “red like crimson”. The devil tries to convince you that you are so bad now that God won’t forgive you. But God gives us an invitation to “come and reason with Him”. Like the father in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, God is waiting with open arms for you to return to Him today! He has already provided the sacrifice that covers your sin, and He will cleanse you “as white as snow”, as if the sin had never been committed in His sight (Romans 5:1). It is really hard to be a witness to others when we have unconfessed sin in our lives. But once we acknowledge our sin and ask forgiveness from the God we have offended, and we experience His forgiveness we can’t wait to share with others what He has done for us! God can’t use people to share His good news who think they are perfect. He uses forgiven people who are now using their “tongue to sing aloud of His righteousness” (v. 14), and their “lips and mouth that show forth His praise” (v. 15). Years ago, I wrote this quote in the front of my Bible: “This Book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this Book!” Just like sin will keep you from wanting to look into the mirror of God’s Word, it will also keep you from being a witness to the lost world around you. An amazing thing happens when we experience God’s forgiveness for our awful sins, even as believers! Paul reminds us in Romans 5:20: “But where sin abound, grace did much more abound”. What the devil intended for evil, God can redeem and restore, and in His grace use for His glory. It has always been so interesting to me that Solomon, the child eventually born to Bathsheba, was chosen by God to be David’s successor and the one who would supervise the temple construction. And on top of that, of all the sons of David, Solomon would be in the line of Christ the Messiah. And Bathsheba would also be mentioned in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1:6. Today, if we will confess our sins, and experience God’s forgiveness and cleansing, He will restore us in His grace. And who knows what amazing ways God might use us for His glory in sharing His story in our lives with other sinners who desperately need His grace! God bless!
In Psalm 51 we are talking about getting right with God! Years ago, I heard a message on another verse in Proverbs that has stuck with me over the years. “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” (Proverbs 18:14). In other words, if we have the right kind of spirit in us, it will sustain, help, bring healing to our infirmities, our sicknesses, and our broken lives. But if we have a “wounded spirit” or a wrong spirit, we will not be able to deal with the real issues in our hearts and lives. My understanding of Scripture leads me to believe that we were created by God with a body, that within it has an eternal living soul, which is the real you. Your soul is your personality, your intellect, your emotions, and your will. And inside that soul is a spirit. When God created Adam, it says that after He formed his body from the dust of the ground, He breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). In the most innermost part of our being is a spirit that has that mysterious ingredient from God that is called life. Initially, our spirit was connected to God in wonderful communion and fellowship, but when Adam sinned a disconnect took place. He experienced “spiritual death”, which is separation from God. We are all born as sinful creatures, separated from God and we need a “regenerated”, a renewed spirit. And this happens only by, and through Jesus Christ. Titus 3:4-7 describes it this way: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” We know this has happened because, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16). So now we have renewed “human spirit” that has the Holy Spirit, God Himself, dwelling in it. But if we are not careful, we can grieve the Holy Spirit, or even quench Him, and we end up with a “wounded spirit”. That’s why David prayed, “take not thy Holy Spirit from me, and renew a right spirit within me” (v. 10). Ifwe become careless with our communion and fellowship with the Lord, we can experience a “wounded, crushed, or broken spirit”. It will manifest itself in many ways depending on how it was wounded. It can become a proud spirit, a jealous spirit, a critical spirit, a vindictive spirit, a bitter spirit, a guilty spirit or even a selfish spirit. And the devil knows how to use that kind of spirit to lead us to sin and cause conflict in our relationships with others. James 4:5-10 tells us what happens when we allow the “spirit and friendship with the world” to gain control in our lives, and what we must do to correct it: “What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy? But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” My friend, that is why David prayed, “renew a right spirit within me”! Today, maybe we need to do the same as we practice what James tells us! May the Lord give us a humble and right spirit, that is sweet, kind, loving, patient, forgiving, generous, and good! God bless!
Psalm 51 is King David’s public confession of his sin! Instead of blaming others or making excuses, David knew the real problem was in his own heart! I’ll never forget years ago hearing Dr. Adrian Rogers make the statement; “Mankind only really faces two major problems, sin and death”. First let me remind us that, thank God, Jesus Christ has already dealt with both of them for every human being! He took our sin upon Himself and paid the penalty for it on the cross with His own death. David knew it was his own heart that needed be made right with God, and that is why after he prayed in the first verses of this chapter (vv. 1-7), to be “washed and cleansed from his sin”, in verses 8-12, he prayed and asked that the Lord would “create in him a clean heart and renew a right spirit within him.” He desperately needed the Lord to heal his “broken spirit” and to make him willing to obey the Lord (v. 12). I realize today as we look at this passage that we are living in a country that has a major problem with “sinful hearts and broken spirits”. In Matthew 24:12-44, Jesus said these words about the last days just before His coming: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (v. 12)… “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (vv.37-39). Genesis 6:5-13 tells us what it was like in the days of Noah: “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (v. 5)… “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (vv.11-12). We had another mass shooting yesterday and the media and politicians, and even some so-called preachers, will blame everything on the wrong things! My friend, it is not a gun, race, or hate problem. It is a “heart” problem! The Old King James Version says it this way: “…that every imagination of their hearts was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). Jesus said in Mark 7:20-23: “…That which cometh out of the man, that defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Until we learn to deal with the right issue it will only get worse. (2 Timothy 3:1-13). David asked for more than cleansing, as important as that is; he wanted his entire being to be restored so he could serve the Lord acceptably. He wanted the joy of the Lord within him (see v. 12), and the face of the Lord smiling upon him (10:1; 44:24; 88:14; 104:29). "Joy and gladness" is a Hebrew phrase meaning "deep joy." David asked the Lord to create a new heart within him and to give him a steadfast spirit that would not vacillate. Verse 10 is the central verse of Psalm 51, and it expresses the heart of David's concern. David knew that the inner person—the heart—was the source of his trouble as well as the seat of his joy and blessing, and he was incapable of changing his own heart. Only God could work the miracle (Jer. 24:7; Ezek. 11:19; 36:25-27). The phrase "willing spirit" in verse 12 refers to David's own spirit, as in verse 10. A "willing spirit" is one that is not in bondage but is free and yielded to the Spirit of God, who ministers to and through our own spirit (Rom. 8:14-17). It isn't enough simply to confess sin and experience God's cleansing; we must also let Him renew us within so that we will conquer sin and not succumb to temptation. God bless!
Sin will at first fascinate us, but then it assassinates us. It first thrills us, but then it kills us. Jesus warned us in John 10:10 that the “thief has come to steal, to kill and to destroy…”. Our sin will rob us of so much! My friend, the devil will rob you of your joy in Christ and in life. He will take you down a broad path that always leads to destruction. This is exactly what happened to David, and now in verses 8-12 he prays for restoration. Remember later in life David wrote about the Good Shepherd and he said, “He restores my souls…” (Psalm 23:3). Today we can believe and find forgiveness for all our sins through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and find restoration for what we have lost by our sin. Sin always brings a curse upon us, but forgiveness will cure us and heal the many wounds of sin. The curse or wounds of sin that cause loss are many and, in this chapter, include: Loss of peace. "My sin is ever before me" (Psalm 51:3). The guilt of sin sticks like glue. The sinner has no rest, but his conscience is constantly assaulted by the guilt of his sin. “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. "There is no peace," Says my God, "for the wicked." (Isaiah 57:20-21). Loss of pleasure. "Make me to hear joy and gladness... Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation" (Psalm 51:8, 12). Sin does not bring joy, but it brings sorrow. It takes away joy. Sin promises pleasure but the pleasure it gives is only for "a season" (Hebrews 11:25) and that season is short. Loss in physical. "Bones which thou hast broken" (Psalm 51:8). Sin is hard on the physical health. David illustrates that truth by speaking of his bones being broken by sin. In his case it was a figure of speech, but sometimes it is a literal experience. David knew how a good shepherd in love would break the front legs of a little lamb that refused to quit straying away from the flock, and then he would carry it on his shoulders and keep it close to him until it was healed. Loss of presence. "Cast me not away from thy presence" (Psalm 51:11). The loss of Divine presence is a real loss. Moses so valued the presence of God, that he would not go on before Israel without it (Exodus 33:15). The presence of God speaks of fellowship with God. Adam and Eve lost that fellowship through their sin. Fellowship with God is so precious, but sin kills it. Loss of assurance. "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me" (Psalm 51:11). Sin takes away our assurance. We do not lose our salvation nor the seal of our salvation which is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 14). But sin can make us think we have lost it. Sin is fatal to assurance. It cannot destroy the certainty of our salvation, but it can destroy confidence and sureness of mind. Loss of freedom. "Uphold me with thy free spirit" (Psalm 51:12 OKJ). The word "thy" is not substantiated by the Hebrew text. The text simply says "Uphold [support] my free spirit." which means to give me my freedom back. Freedom comes through forgiveness. The world accuses the redeemed of being bound and restricted because the redeemed will not do sinful things, but it is the world that is bound—by evil habits, foul appetites, and oppressed by the weight of sin. David wants his freedom back. He wants the guilt and burden of sin removed. Real freedom is not doing what we want to do but the freedom and power to do what we ought to do! Yes, the thief will rob and destroy us with sin, but Jesus went on to say in John 10:10-11, “…but I am come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd Who gives His life for the sheep”. Thank the Lord that today that we can find forgiveness and restoration through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ and His resurrection life! God bless!
Psalm 51 is King David’s public confession of his sin! He knew that God desired for him to be honest and truthful in his heart about what he had done. If we are believers and have the Holy Spirit living in us, even the thought of sinning should cause us to feel His conviction and warning not to commit the sin. But and if we do sin and transgress God’s holy law, both the Holy Spirit and our conscience should feel the guilt and defilement of the sin. The Scriptures teach us that sin will defile our conscience and grieve the Holy Spirit. And if we ignore this convicting power of the Holy Spirit and continue in our sin, we can “quench” the Holy Spirit and even “sear” our conscience so that we will deceive ourselves into believing that there is nothing wrong with our sin. The prophet Isaiah said that the day had come when the people of Israel was doing this very thing: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight! Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away justice from the righteous man!” (Isaiah 5:20-23) Years later when the prophet Jeremiah was pronouncing the coming judgment upon Judah and Israel, he said this: "Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, Everyone deals falsely. They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, 'Peace, peace!' When there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; Nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time I punish them, They shall be cast down," says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 6:13-15) Wow! This sounds exactly like what has happened in America today. Even our church leaders have chosen the path of “proclaiming peace”, becoming so “seeker sensitive” to draw larger numbers, that instead of calling sin for what it is, they attempt to “heal the hurt” and brokenness, that sin has brought into the lives of people, by ignoring their sins and trying to make them feel good. Like Israel, we have come to the sad state where “we are not ashamed of our abomination and no longer blush at our sins”. As a matter of fact, we justify and glorify these abominations and seem to honor those that commit them. My friend, if we want to be forgiven of our sin, we must realize God wants us to look inside and admit the truth (v. 6). The truth is that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Quoting from the Old Testament, the Apostle Paul put it this way: “As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one." "Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit"; "The poison of asps is under their lips"; "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-18) We cannot experience “peace with God” (Romans 5:1), or the “peace of God” (Philippians 4:7) if there is unconfessed sin in our heart. When we do acknowledge our sin, and confess and repent, we will find that God’s Truth, Jesus Christ Himself will come alive in our “inward and hidden part”, and we will enjoy “His Wisdom” (v. 6). 1 Corinthians 1:30 says it this way: “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and redemption”. God bless!
Psalm 51 is King David’s public psalm and confession of repentance! After Nathan the Prophet confronted David with his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah, David broke down and confessed his sin and then wrote this Psalm as a public testimony to be used at the temple to teach others how to deal with their sins against a holy and righteous God. In today’s culture, it seems that we don’t want to call sin for what it is. We first want to make excuses and blame others for our sin just like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden when God confronted them with their sin. Adam blamed Eve. “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." (Genesis 3:12). Eve blamed the serpent. “And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." (Genesis 3:13) We not only make excuses and blame others, but we also don’t like the word sin. We say, “I made a mistake”, or “I have an issue”, or “I have a problem”. We call it anything but sin! When was the last time you heard a public official or someone in the news media use the word sin? They might say a deed was an evil crime or wicked, but you won’t hear the word sin. David responded to Nathan’s finger pointing in his face and proclaiming, “You are the man!”, with these words in 2 Samuel 12:13, "I have sinned against the LORD." David had tried to hide and cover his sin for almost a year but could not get rid of the guilt and burden of it. Can you imagine what he felt every time he saw the empty seat at the dinner table where Uriah used to sit when the thirty mighty men would dine with him when they were home from war. Or what went through his mind every time he saw Joab who helped him set up the murder of Uriah. My friend, we can try to cover our sin, excuse our sin, blame others for our sin, or even run from our sin, but God has wired us so that the guilt and burden of our sin will get heavier every day in our conscience, mind, and heart until we deal with God’s way! We can call it what we want, a mistake, a problem, a slip, an error, fault, or a issue, but the guilt is still the same. The truth is that we cannot live with the guilt of our sin, so we try to drown it out with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with sports, with pleasure, or even with religious activity. There is only one way to remove the guilt of our sin and that is God’s way! David said, “I have sinned against the LORD!” David confessed his deeds of adultery and murder as that which was wrong. He did not whitewash his deed of adultery and murder. He called it names that spoke of it being wrong. Today we have nice names for evil deeds and evil names for nice deeds. But David called his awful deeds the right names. David gave eight different and damning but fitting names for his wicked deeds. We will discuss these names in more detail in tomorrow’s chat. What dirt is to the body, sin is to the soul, the inner person, so it was right for David to feel defiled because of what he had done. By committing adultery and murder, he had crossed over the line God had drawn in His law ("transgression"); he had missed the mark God had set for him ("sin") and had yielded to his twisted sinful nature ("iniquity"). He had willfully rebelled against God, and no atonement was provided in the law for such deliberate sins (Lev. 20:10; Num. 35:31-32). David could appeal only to God's mercy, grace, and love (v. 1; Ex. 34:6-7; 2 Sam. 12:22). So, David prays to God and makes a plea for pardon and forgiveness for his sin. We may think our great sin cannot be pardoned but Scripture says, "Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee" (Psalm 86:5). Today, God is still ready to forgive and remove the guilt of our sin if we will repent, confess, and acknowledge that the blood of Jesus is the only way to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7-10). God bless!
Psalm 51 is King David’s public psalm and confession of repentance! Today, 1,500 years after his reign as king over the nation of Israel, King David is still known as one of the most famous kings in history. Scripture tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:21-22). But that does not mean that David was perfect and never did anything wrong. Matter of fact, 1 Kings 15:5 points this out years later, when speaking of a future blessing on one of his descendants: “Because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” David committed two of the most horrendous, terrible, and awful sins that could be committed. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband Uriah killed. Uriah was one of his mighty men, lived next door to the palace of David, and most likely was one of his best friends. The title of Psalm 51 also tells us that God sent Nathan the prophet to confront him of his sin. This happened after about a year of David trying to cover up his sin from everyone. But God knew and it must have been one of the most miserable years of David’s life. 2 Samuel 12:1-15 gives us the detailed story of Nathan’s message to David. “Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: "There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him." So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity." Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. … So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme….Then Nathan departed to his house.” It is amazing that David was so angry at the rich man who took the poor man’s lamb when he was guilty of the same thing. This reminds me of Romans 2:1 “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?” So often what we are most critical of in someone else is what we are guilty of in our own life! “You are the man!” You can’t hide your sin from God! God had warned Israel in Number 32:23, “Be sure your sin will find you out”. May the Lord help us to look into our own hearts today! God bless!
Today we begin looking at Psalm 51. This is the fourth of the Penitential Psalms. Psalm 6 is the first of seven "penitential psalms" in which the writers are being disciplined by God and experiencing suffering. The other psalms are Psalms 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143. All of these psalms are helpful to us when we need to confess our sins and draw closer to the Lord. This is also the first of fifteen consecutive psalms in Book II that are attributed to David. The title, which many scholars believe to be as inspired as the verses themselves, tells us both who the writer is and also the occasion of it. It will help us to remember the story behind this Psalm to grasp the fullest meaning and understanding of it. In 1 Samuel 15:22-29, after King Saul refused to take responsibility for his sin of disobedience, God was preparing a young shepherd boy named David to take his place. In the Apostle Paul’s first recorded message in the book of Act, while in the city of Antioch of Pisidia on his first missionary journey with Barnabas, he was telling the story of the history of Israel and he said this about David: “And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.'” (Acts 13:21-22). God sent Samuel the Prophet to anoint David, the youngest of the eight sons of Jesse to become the next king of Israel (1 Samuel 16). Shortly after this, David kills the Philistine giant Goliath and becomes a national hero. But King Saul becomes jealous and for next seven years seeks to kill him. Through all this David learns to trust the Lord and writes many of his psalms. Finally, Saul is killed in a battle with Philistines and David is anointed king at Hebron over the southern tribe of Judah (2 Samuel 2:11). Seven years later he is anointed king over all of Israel (2 Samuel 5:3-5). For the next number of years David establishes his kingdom and conquers the surrounding nations. But one day, when he should have been fighting with his army, he stayed at home in his palace. 2 Samuel 11:1-5 tells us exactly what happened next: “It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king's house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, "Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, "I am with child." For the next year David tried to cover up his sin with Bathsheba. First by scheming with Joab to have her husband Uriah killed in battle. So now David has broken two of the ten commandments, adultery and murder. And God begins His chastisement on David during this time. The baby born to Bathsheba dies. David gets very sick. He is also emotionally and mentally affected. It is then that God sends Nathan the prophet to confront David with his sins (Psalm 32; 2 Samuel 12). Psalm 51 is the result of that confrontation and David’s prayer of confession and repentance. I’m looking forward to the next several days as we look at this Psalm because there are so many lessons and applications we can make from it in our own lives. Even today, as God’s own special people, we can still sin and need to know that we can confess, repent and find forgiveness with the Lord (1 John 1:9-10). God bless!
Today we will be finishing our chats on Psalm 50 and when we do, we will be one-third of the way through the book of Psalms! We need to remember that Psalm 50 is prophetic in several ways. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that, “It is appointed unto a man once to die and after this the judgment”. But from this chapter we learn that not only is judgment coming in the future, but we might also have to experience God’s judgment personally right now if we forget God! Israel definitely faced God’s judgment as a nation and was sent into captivity and scattered across the earth on several occasions in history. I believe America is actually facing the judgement of God today as we indeed are a broken nation. We are terminally ill! Our families are broken, our cities are broken, our government is broken, our churches for the most part are anemic and broken, and individuals are personally broken morally, mentally, emotionally and even physically because we have forgotten God! Moses gave the people of Israel this same message in Deuteronomy 8 just before they were about to finally go into the Promise Land. He warned them: “When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. "Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest--when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage…” (Deuteronomy 8:10-14). Moses concluded this chapter with these words: “…Then you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.' And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 8:17-20). This is a message given often in the Bible such as in Psalm 9:17: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God.” Here in Psalm 50, God says, “Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.” In other words, we had better think about what will happen, if after we have been so blessed with material prosperity, and we start thinking we deserve it because we are so intelligent and strong. And we forget that it was God who blessed us with the strength and wisdom because we were humble and depended on Him for everything. We sought to worship Him as individuals and as a nation with grateful and thankful hearts. We honored God by giving our tithes and offerings, going to worship on Sundays, respecting life, and the property of others, publicly proclaiming His name and recognizing He was the one who blessed us! God sometimes has to “tear” us up to get our attention and no one can deliver us from His judgment! But thank God for the last verse of this chapter! When we find ourselves broken, helpless and hopeless, and we humbly confess our sins in true hearts of repentance, return to the Lord in obedience, with grateful hearts of praise, He has promised to show us His great salvation! God is definitely “tearing up” America today. Maybe He is “tearing” you up today! My friend He is not doing it to destroy you, but to preserve you, and bring you to your senses so you will return to Him and experience His salvation! God bless!
Psalm 50 begins by reminding us that God is the “Mighty One” and one day He is coming as the “Judge of the whole earth”. “God has already spoken” (v. 1) to us through His creation and His Word and He will “gather His saints together before Him” (v. 5) and He will speak in judgement (v. 6). He first speaks to His people Israel in verses 7-15. He condemns their heartless worship as they bring their sacrifices and go through the routine and rituals of their religion. This should speak to us today as we so apt to lose our first love and think we can satisfy and please God with our mouths, our money, our service, our acts of worship without our love and our heart! Now in verses 16-21, God has a message for the religious hypocrite. This message was addressed to "the wicked," the Israelites in the covenant community who were reciting the creed with their lips but deliberately disobeying God's law. After breaking God's law, they would go to the sanctuary and act very religious so they could cover up their sins. They helped to make the sanctuary a "den of thieves"—the place where thieves go to hide after they have committed their wicked deeds (Jer. 7:11; Matt. 21:13). God inspired the Apostle Paul to basically give this same message in Romans 2:17-24: “Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, "Do not commit adultery," do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?" Jesus personally gave a message to the religious hypocrites of His day in Matthew 23:13-15: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” It is almost as though both Paul and Jesus are quoting from Psalm 50. God here points out that they had no respect for God's Word. “Seeing you hate instruction And cast My words behind you? (v. 17).” They not only consented to the sins of others but participated in them and enjoyed doing so (vv. 18-20). To "hate instruction" means to reject an ordered way of life patterned after God's Word, to reject a responsible life. Once again, the silence of God is mentioned (v. 21; see v. 3). God is longsuffering with sinners, but these wicked people interpreted God's silence as His approval. (See Isa. 42:14; 57:11; 64:12; 65:6; Mal. 2:17; 3:14-14.) Their thinking was so confused that they ended up creating a god in their own image (v. 21). God was in the hands of ignorant sinners! They had forgotten God (Rom. 1:22-28) and didn't want Him to interfere with their lifestyle. They had a false confidence that they could sin and get away with it. I’m afraid that this same condition exists in many of our churches today! Our churches are full of religious hypocrites. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are deceitful, slanderers, gossips, and God will call them to judgment one day! May the Lord keep us from becoming one of them, and also give us discernment so we don’t let them take places of leadership in our church! God bless!
The Psalmist introduces this message with a reminder that God is a holy and righteous Judge (vv. 1-6). In the first verses of this chapter, God reminds us that one day He is coming and will not be silent. Even though it appears that God is not paying attention to us and doesn’t care what we are doing, He is keeping a record of even the thoughts and intents of our hearts. He has a “Book of Remembrance” (Malachi 3:16). In verses 7-15, God speaks to His own people, Israel, who are going to worship at the temple. But it not wrong to apply these verses to His people today, which are the followers of Jesus, believers, those who go to church to worship. He has a word for those who are going through the routine, the ritual, the acts of worship, and even make sacrifices but really do not have their heart in it. This reminds me of the rebuke the LORD Jesus had for the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2. This was a good church outwardly, but something was missing. “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:2-4). They were doing all the right things in serving and sacrificing but they had lost their intimacy and heart love for the Lord. The evidence of genuine and true worship is that it comes from a heart of gratefulness and thanksgiving! A mark of losing our “first love” is that we do not have grateful hearts. We have forgotten how great a sinner we are, underserving of God’s mercy and grace! That is what happens in Romans 1:21-22: “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…” Peter speaks of how this happens in our lives after we get saved and rescued out of the corruption of our hearts and that is in this world, and are made partakers of His divine nature. We take our salvation for granted and forget to do “these things” and it’s not long till we leave our “first love”. Peter wrote: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:5-9). The writer of Hebrews says it very clearly in Hebrews 13:12-16: “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” We prove our love to the Lord by keeping His commandments (John 14:15-21). We will also “pay our vows”. We usually make these vows right after we get saved and are so thankful for our salvation! This could include “paying our tithes” to the Lord as proof of our love, recognizing that He is the One who gave us everything in the first place. May the Lord help us today to remember, to repent and to return to the “first works” and our “first love” for Jesus with a heart of thanksgiving (Revelation 2:5). God bless!
The Psalmist introduces this message with a reminder that God is a holy and righteous Judge (vv. 1-6). In the first verse we read: “The Mighty One, God the LORD, has spoken….”. My friend, when God speaks, we better listen. Now in verse 7 we learn what God what wants us to hear. “Hear, O My people, and I will speak…” He speaks first as Judge to His own people. This reminds me of 1 Peter 4:17: “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” If the world is in a mess, it is not because of all the wicked sinners doing their evil deeds. It is because of Christians who are not fulfilling the Great Commandment and loving the LORD their God with all their heart, with all their mind, with all their soul, and with all their strength. And it is because we are not living out the Great Commission, to go into all the world preaching the Gospel to every creature, discipling them to obey everything the Lord has taught us in His Word! Yes, it is our fault because we have become “heartless worshipers”. We are good at giving the Lord “lip service” instead of heart worship. Jesus noted this in Matthew 15:8-9: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me…”. "Hear, O my people" has a majestic ring to it (Deut. 4:1; 5:6; 6:3-4; 9.1; 20:3; 27:9). The Lord speaks first to those who are indeed His people, but their hearts are not in their worship. Their devotion is faithful but only routine. Like the church at Ephesus, they had "left their first love" (Rev. 2:4) and were worshiping the Lord out of habit and not from the heart. Outwardly, they were doing what the Lord commanded and honoring the daily sacrifices (Ex. 29:38-42), but inwardly they lacked love and fellowship with God. They forgot that God wanted their hearts before He wanted their sacrifices (Isa. 1:11-15; Jer. 7:21-23; Hos. 6:6; 8:13; Amos 5:21-26; Mic. 6:6-8; Mark 12:28-34). Remember what Samuel told King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22-23: "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king." The sacrifices that the Lord commanded were indeed important to the spiritual life of the nation, but they did no good to the worshippers, unless there was faith in the heart and a desire to honor the Lord. The animals they brought belonged to Him long before the worshipers ever saw them! The world and everything in it belong to Him (v. 12; Psalm 24:1; 89:11; Acts 17:24-25; 1 Cor. 10:26), and there is nothing we can give to God. Some of the pagan religions of that day taught that their gods and goddesses "ate" the animals that people sacrificed, but this was not a part of the Hebrew religion (Deut. 32:37-40). What the Lord wanted from His people was thanksgiving from their hearts, obedience to His Word, prayer, and a desire to honor Him in everything (vv. 14-15). But the Lord doesn't want ritualism or formalism. He wants our worship to come from the heart. When we are in a relationship and fellowship with the LORD in this way, we can be assured that we can, “Call upon Him in the day of trouble and He will deliver us and we will glorify Him!” God bless!
When we as believers are experiencing and enjoying the wonderful blessings of the LORD, we are so prone to wander from Him and focus on the blessings instead of the Blesser. This reminds me of the old hymn written by Robert Robinson in 1758 when he was only 22 years old, called "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". One of verses goes like this: “O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.” Especially in our contemporary Christian culture today we tend to sing about and think only of God as our Friend, Who loves us and we can do anything we want to do with no accountability. We forget that He is also our Judge and one day He is coming, and we must stand before Him as He sits on His Holy throne! Psalm 50 is a message Psalm to remind God’s people of that aspect of God. The chapter ends with this warning and admonition in verse 22: "Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver”. The Psalmist introduces this message with a reminder that God is a holy and righteous Judge (vv. 1-6). Human judges are called "The Honorable," or “Your Honor”, but this Judge is called "The Mighty One" (El), "God" (Elohim), "the Lord" (Jehovah), "the Most High" (Elyon, v. 14), and "God" (Eloah). He is Judge (vv. 4, 6), Prosecutor, and Jury—and He knows all about those who are on trial! He calls heaven and earth to witness the proceedings (vv. 1, 4, 6; see Deut. 4:26, 32; 31:28; 32:1; Isa. 1:2; Mic. 1:2 and 6:1-2). “The Mighty One, God the LORD, Has spoken”. When a judge speaks everyone listens carefully because his word is final. No one argues with the judge! And my friend no one will argue with God on the day that sits to Judge His people. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; A fire shall devour before Him, And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him.” When a judge enters a courtroom, everybody stands respectfully; but God's entrance into this assembly is accompanied by the shining of His glory (80:1; 94:2) and a fiery tempest. This is not unlike the scene at Mount Sinai when He gave His law (Ex. 19:18; 24:17; Deut. 4:11-12; 33:2; Heb. 12:18, 29). When we forget the transcendence of God, we find it easier to sin. When this Psalm was written the ark was with the people on Mount Zion ("Immanuel, God with us"). But the nation must not forget Mount Sinai where their God revealed His holiness and greatness. The Psalmist praised Zion for its beauty (v. 2; 48:2; Lam. 2:15), but he also wants us to remember "the beauty of holiness" (27:4; 90:17; 110:3). God is a righteous Judge (vv. 4, 6; see also Psalms 7:11; 9:8; 11:4-7; 75:2; 96:10, 13; 98:9), and judgment begins with His own people (1 Peter 4:17). They are "godly ones," that is, a people set apart exclusively for the Lord because of the holy covenant (vv. 5, 16; Ex. 19:1-9; 24:4-8; Amos 2:3). Some of His people had sinned, and He had been longsuffering with them and silent about the matter (vv. 3, 21). They have misinterpreted His silence as consent (Eccl. 8:11; Isa. 42:14; 57:11), but now the time had come for the Holy God to speak. The purpose of this "trial" was not to judge and condemn the sinners but to expose their sins and give them the opportunity to repent and return to the Lord. Remember 1 Corinthians 11:31-32: “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” Please take time today to let God’s Word cleanse you as you reflect on the condition of your heart and life! God bless!