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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Psalms 21-25

Psalms 21Image result for praise the lord images

David is not hesitant to praise God for his victories and success in battle. He rejoices in the power he exercises as King of Israel and the benefits he enjoys, but he counts all of it in relation to the joy of residing in the presence of God.

At the end of verse 2 the word Selah appears. Authorities do not have a consistent explanation of what it means. I had assumed it noted a section or change in theme or cadence, but that was just my own interpretation. One translator claims it is a musical direction.

Verse 8 changes from David's praise of God's help to him to wrath and retribution against God's enemies. God brings consuming fire and the drawn bow against those who are not yielded to him. He closes with verse 13 giving praise to God's might and strength.

Psalms 22 

This is one of the Psalms of David. Instructions to the choir director say it should be sung to the tune of "Doe of the Morning."
This is one of several psalms designated as Messianic Psalms because it deals with details and emotions related to the life of Christ. The first verse is partially quoted by Jesus on the Cross Luke 15;34. I have heard and read many interpretations and approaches to this. Some people say that Jesus knew all things including the mind of God about the events and realities of the crucifixion. Others say he was as human on the cross as all of us would be and the pain was a present and tormenting physical sensation. It is easy to get the varying opinions by a simple google search. Here you'll only get my take on it.

Verse 22 marks the shift from the horrors of thirst, wrenching pain, and abandonment to the release of stress and joy of praise.

"Eloi, Eloi" sounds like the name of Elijah or the Greek rendering Elias, and a bystander thought Jesus was calling on the prophet. We should not be surprised that he was familiar with the scriptures, especially those which prophesied about him. He knew who he was and how the word referred to him. Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34

I am convinced that Mary told the child Jesus the story of his birth and her visit by Gabriel. Verses 9 and 10 provide David's understanding of the relationship the Messiah would have with God. From the womb he was already established as God's Son. Perhaps he learned these verses from the time he was 12 or before, that charted the course he would take.  

Crying out to God in the midst of his loneliest hour gives us deep insight into his isolation. Perhaps he reflects on the night prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane where he was also alone. The thieves who were also being crucified questioned why he didn't do something to end the suffering. Verses 3-5 calls back some of Israel's challenges to become a nation that followed God.  

Jesus did not hesitate to follow God's direction, but he did recognize what it would be and accepted the role he would play in God's plan.
He sees the crowd at the cross as "bulls" and "lions" who torment and tear at his flesh.

When he was born. the forces of evil had already attacked him. Nero sought him to kill him, and only the escape into Egypt spared his life. His birth in a stable exposed him  to diseases like Tetanus. 

David's description pictures him as without strength or power. The medical description indicates he would be totally exhausted and without even strength to speak. There are only seven times he spoke at all from the cross. Most authorities say he died from lack of breath. The weight on the shoulders caused his lungs to compress and he was unable to expand them. The nails in his hands were probably not in the palms but the wrist joint. His feet were probably nailed in the heel or Achilles tendon which gave him no support from his legs. Probably the shoulders, hips and possibly knees were dislocated, but no bones were broken.

Thirst would have been tormenting vs.15. His prayer is for God to deliver his soul. He sees them arguing over his clothes.

Then suddenly he is ready to declare God's name to his" brethren in the midst of the congregation."(vs. 22-31)." He praises the Lord because He heard him. He reassures those who depend on God and calls them to declare His righteousness to a people that shall be born.

Psalms 23

This is probably the best known and quoted Psalm in the collection of Psalms. David was a shepherd before he was a warrior and king. He translated his experience to a metaphor everyone could understand. The Lord is my shepherd is an arresting beginning. 

Sheep are dumb. They are not as self-sufficient as horses or cattle. They need the shepherd. They will eat in the pleasant pasture, but they do not follow a path that leads to plenty. Cows are better at choosing a place to graze close to water. Sheep depend on the shepherd to find a still pool from which to drink because the will not drink from flowing streams.

The shepherd's staff is used to protect the sheep from varmints and lift them if they call into a crevasse in the rocks. There is a location in Israel called the Valley of the Shadow of Death. It is a dangerous place for sheep.

The closing benediction is reassuring and uplifting to us as we struggle with life's trials and challenges. Forever is a long time. I claim this promise of His grace and preservation.

John 10:1-18 gives a detailed explanation of the metaphor of the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd is one of the I Ams found in the Gospel of John.

Read Psalms 23 for your self and be blessed.

For a fuller explanation of a shepherd's life click here to read the Basque Shepherd's description.

Psalms 24

Psalms 24 is the third in a series of Messianic Psalms. It offers a fuller description of the Kingdom of Heaven with Jesus as its supreme head. David emphasizes His holiness and righteous character. All who come here will be like Him and will be blessed.

Psalms 25

This Psalm of David is an acrostic and you will find it has the right number of verses: 22. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet and each verse begins with a succeeding letter. The poem focuses on one of David's favorite themes, his trust in God.

Some commentators think David suffered with depression. He often expresses conviction and sorrow for his sins in Psalms. It seems understandable to me that he feels threatened considering his position as a warrior and the King of Israel.

As is his custom, the end returns to praise and shelter in the protection of God.  Read it and see for yourself.