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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Psalms 11-15

Psalms 11

David helps us understand the ways to take refuge in the Lord. He will not be a bird that flies to the mountain. He sees the wicked with the bow aimed and the arrow fixed to the string. They lurk in the shadows to fire at the righteous.

What can the righteous do when there is destruction all around? Retreat to God. God  looks on the earth and sees the righteous and the wicked. He judges between them.

I guess it makes me uncomfortable to consider judgment. I think of God as merciful and forgiving, but I must also remember that He is righteous and calls us to follow in His way. 

Psalms 12

This Psalm is accompanied by the Sheminith which may be an instrument, and expresses the lowest notes of male voices. This may be to lend a sad and foreboding tone to the message,

David criticizes people who pay lip-service to righteousness, but lie to the righteous. He calls us to honesty and truth, and denounces those who flatter and manipulate with words. The wicked are everywhere when vile men are exalted.

Psalms 13

David is depressed. He complains to God that He has hidden His face and forgotten him. 

David wrestles with his own thoughts and the specter of his enemy overshadows him.  He begs God to give light to his eyes else he will be lost in death. He fears his enemy will gloat over his defeat.

He seems to open his mind to see God's unfailing love, and his heart rejoices in God's salvation. Now he sings praises for God's bountiful goodness.
David knows how to praise and worship. Listen to him! Learn from him!

Psalms 14

The director of music is directed that this is to be performed in the order of David's Psalms. We don't know if this to a tune or rhythm, but apparently it was significant.

Psalms 14 challenges those who doubt God's interest and attention in the affairs of men. It is the Fool who scoffs at God that is in error. A fool is one who is morally deficient, without direction. 

It has become popular in modern culture to claim honest and admirable character, but deny respect or honor of God. People seem to want to "be a good person" without any standard or system of values or restriction on behavior.

In this Psalm David declares these men to be hopelessly lost. "They are altogether become filthy."(KJV) We often use fool to mean silly or lacking in understanding, but here it means depraved. In this instance it means deliberately blind to the absolute proclaimed truth of righteousness. 

Frederich Nietzsche was the Prussian philosopher who proposed the notion that God is dead because of the treatment of humans. God is dead and we have killed him. We must find some other foundation for our society since there is no base to rest on now.

David recognized the philosophical argument, but he also saw the flaw in the argument. Human reasoning is not sufficient for the task. Only God in His righteousness is able to secure salvation for man. The poor, the wretched, the weak, and the sinful retreat to Him and find comfort.

Psalms 15

This Psalm is a picture of the perfect man who commits no sin and can rely on obedience to the law without need of forgiveness.

It seems this righteousness is almost devoid of mercy and joy. He does lend money to the poor without interest, and he abides in God's presence, but there is no mention of worship. It is a position to be sought and living in God's presence is a blessing. Don't dismiss it without understanding the deep truths of this Psalm.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Psalms 6-10

Psalms 6

David wrote this Psalm and the title includes instructions for stringed instrument to accompany it. It is a plea for mercy and relief. The sin is not revealed, but it is a good model for us when we have difficulties and problems.

He confesses that he has wept and struggled to find a place of rest, but only God can give him that peace. 

Psalms 7

 In Psalms 7 David seeks God again for deliverance.  The word Shiggaion is used in connection to someone who appears to be drunk. The stress of his condition caused him great anxiety and he did not act with rational behavior. 

The word Shiggaion is used in Hab. 3:1, but is found no where else in the Bible. I don't believe it means he was drunk, but his emotional state was so severe that he was unable to behave normally.

He is impassioned about his distress and calls on God to deliver him. He cannot find any reason for enemies to assault, but he beseeches God to be just and allow the retribution if he has hurt another, but if he is unjustly accused, he seeks God's intervention.
He prays that God will cause the instruments the enemy uses to fall on his own head.

He closes with praise for God and His righteousness. 

Psalms 8

This is one of the more familiar Psalms. It praises God's glory and His creation of the world and of man.

It opens and closes with the same phrase praising God's glory and majesty.

Psalms 9

Psalms 9 and 10 were originally one Psalm. I don't know what caused the writers to divide it, but it is easy to follow the text and see the continuation of the theme. 

In the Greek Old Testament the Psalms are still one piece. It is an acrostic in which each line in a section begins with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Several Psalms and the book of Lamentations follow this pattern.

Perhaps it was divided to give focus to the shift in emphasis. Psalm 9 spotlights the praise for victory over his enemies, while Psalms 10 seeks judgment for the oppressed. When read together, the shift is seamless.

Instruction at the beginning of Psalms 9 says it is sung to the tune of Muth-labben, which means "on the death of the son of Labben." Some commentators propose this indicates David's mourning for Absalom. Labben was an unknown man. It also indicates the use of popular music.

Psalms 10

In Psalms 10 David calls God to take action against the wicked who abuse the poor and fatherless.  The desire of the humble is they will not be oppressed by others who are no better than themselves.

Read Psalms for yourself and find the truths David saw and praise God as he did. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Psalms 1-5

I am writing comments on the psalms as a personal discipline. I will share insights and observations here. They are not scholarly or filled with great wisdom. I recommend you read your Bible before you read my version. It's always best to go to the source.  

Psalms1- Happy and Blessed

The person who does not engage in evil and wicked endeavors is happy and his or her delight is in the Lord. The one who does not take the path of  evil, or follow the advice or the wicked, or join in mocking and degrading behavior, but instead, meditates on the Lord's instruction day and night is blessed. He or she is like a tree that is planted beside a stream of water and bears fruit in season. 

Continually feeding on the Word of God strengthens and renews the Christian who is besieged on every hand by the standards and pressures of the world.

Those who are wicked do not receive the same;  they are like the chaff removed from the grain, useless, blown by the wind. The wicked will not be able to stand when judgment comes because their efforts have not produced strength and righteousness.

Psalms 2 Coronation of the Son of the King

This Psalm could have been commemorating the coronation of a king, but I read it as the recognition of Jesus as the King of  God's eternal kingdom. David did not live to see the his son succeed him, so even though this is written by David, it does not refer to an event in his life. It is prophetic of the Messiah's ascension in heavenly realms.

The event is both earthly and heavenly. It identifies the "rulers who conspire together against the Lord and His Anointed One."  Zion is the scene of the coronation and it is called, "My holy mountain."  Those who resist are presumably humans who have no regard for God, but God ridicules them. He pronounces the Son as the recipient of the inheritance of the nations.

The instruction to the nations is severe: Serve the Lord with awe and rejoice with trembling. Do not provoke His  anger that you perish. Take refuge in Him and be happy.

Psalms 3 prayer in time of trouble

This another of the Psalms written by David. He lists the problems his foes are causing and he finds no one to help. But then he remembers that God provides a shield around him. God lifts his head and pours glory on him. God answers Davids cries from His holy mountain. Now he can sleep sustained by God even though many are standing against him. 
Now he can acknowledge and praise God for his power and salvation and claim His blessings for the people.

Psalm 4 Prayer for Evening

This Psalm of David is intended to be sung with stringed instruments.

First, he beseeches God to answer him when he calls for help. Then he acknowledges that God vindicates him. Finally he seeks God to be gracious and hear his prayer.

Sometimes in Psalms David is speaking to the public, giving instruction, or naming the attributes of God. In verse 2 he questions those who perhaps are subjects: How long, exalted men, will my honor be insulted. Then he returns to his confidence in God's provision. 

He recognizes the human tendency to experience anger and act in haste, but he cautions his subjects: be angry but don't sin; instead reflect in your heart and be still.

His advise to his subjects, or the people of his court, remains the same. Look to the Lord because He has put joy in the heart. David can sleep in peace and safety in the presence of God.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Working on Psalms

I am trying to read 5 Psalms a day. At that rate I'll finish the first read-through in a month. I think It will require several months to gain a deep understanding of Psalms, but I think I will enjoy the trip. Some of them are already familiar to me, but some need several more readings. Psalms 119 takes about three pages, so it bears several more readings with extensive examination. Some are very short, but none are without value. Lots  of Psalms have memorable verses that we find quoted by writers and teachers. We should not take those verses as the whole meaning of the psalm. Read all of it. Explore the emphasis and research the impact on other references. This kind of study bears fruit in understanding the Bible and its message. Don't shortchange yourself by skipping over the unfamiliar parts.