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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Psalms 101-105

Psalms 101

This Psalm was written by David. I have not found any indication of his age when he wrote this. It could have been in his innocent youth, or it could have been after the confession of his tryst with Bathsheba. In either case, it proclaims David's intention to live a sin free life. From my own experience, I would guess this was written before he committed adultery and arranged the death of Uriah.

He begins with praise and then goes on to detail the matters of selfishness and arrogant behavior he will not tolerate.  He includes the behaviors he will not allow in his household. He focuses briefly on the things his eyes behold. What we see, we sometimes imitate. Beware what you watch, for it may inhabit you.

He denounced faithlessness and perverse people and their actions. He put the slanderers and the haughty in the same classification. These judgments make me think he had not yet experienced the general sins of the population, for these things are everywhere and evident in all people.

I applaud his intention not to associate with the unwholesome and to separate himself from those who commit evil, but he seems to think he can tell at a glance who is worthy to be respected. Maybe in later years he moderated his opinion and became more forgiving.

Return to his opening lines. He valued God's love and justice. His intent was to let that be his guide for life. May we follow in that goal. 

Psalms 102

The author of this Psalm is not identified beyond the description of him as afflicted and in distress. The Psalm begins with a litany of his anguish and vivid descriptions of his anxiety from vs. 1 through 11. In vs. 12 he changes his focus to note the attributes of God.

He begins with pleas to be heard. He beseeches God to see his problems and hear his cries.  He feels his time escaping. He describes the pain he feels in his soul as a bodily sensation. He can't enjoy his food and it tastes like ashes. He is losing weight and describes himself as "skin and bones." He compares himself to a desert owl. In ancient literature, the owl is bad omen forecasting evil times and consequences.

He groans aloud in distress. He seems to indicate this is somehow shameful. He has enemies who use his name like a curse. His distress is so compelling that he has lost all his companions, he likens himself to a bird on a roof. He is alone. He has no friends or support. God, too, has abandoned him. His drink is mingled with tears. He has no recourse. God's wrath is directed toward him, and God has thrown him aside. He sees the darkness closing in and he senses he has no hope.

In vs. 12 he returns to the praise of God and His glory. He is still conscious of his own weakness, but God will endure and restore Zion. I assume this Psalm was written after the return from bondage and Exile. The writer mentions the destruction of the city, Even in the destroyed state, God's people still love for stones. He is confident that God will arise and have compassion on Jerusalem. Her appointed time has come.

Many nations will fear the Lord when he appears in His Glory.
He broke my plans, I yield to Him, He cut short my life, and like the earth, my time will end. You, Lord, will stand forever. The descendants of your faithful will worship you forever.


Psalms 103

In this Psalm, David is the writer, and he is speaking to himself. He addresses his own soul. He lists the characteristics of God, the continuous benefits God freely bestows. Then he makes a summarizing statement: God brings righteousness and justice to the oppressed and all are provided for.  The King James Version is worded slightly differently: "Bless the Lord, O my soul." It is a plaintive cry of one who is alone, God is his only resource. 

He goes into detail about God's love toward us and the lengths he goes to to insure our forgiveness and make us aware of His everlasting love. David's metaphors are, both memorable and revealing. He compares God's love toward the wayward sinners to the love of a father for his minor children. We are so conscious of our own lives and ambitions we feel imortal, but God knows that we are dust. When the wind blows on us we are gone, but God remembers us and promises us a future of joy and glory.

David closes the Psalm with one more injunction to his soul to praise the Lord.


Psalms 104 

There is no attribution of authorship in Psalms 104, but it fits very well with the ones that come before it. It praises and glorifies God's power and majesty.

The writer describes God wearing light like a garment. I like the metaphors used in this Psalm. The clouds are his chariot and he rides on the wings of the winds. Flames of fire are his servant. We feel very powerful when we find ways to use the power of natural elements, but to God, these elements are his servants. They obey his commands. The Psalmist describes them as orderly and obedient to God's design, yet they are still beyond our reach. I am amazed at the scientific descriptions that account creation as a product of evolution without input from God, but when they behold a new finding in a telescope or a microscope, they exclaim "Oh, God, look at that!" Even denying the power or action of God, they still have no other way to express their wonder and amazement.

May we who know and seek His communion also revel in the wonder of his works.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Psalms 96-100

Psalms 96

There is no notation of authorship.
This Psalm is totally praise. The writer praises God in singing, and he calls for a new song. He calls for the worshippers to praise God's salvation. He calls us to declare His deed among the nations.
He is great and worthy of praise. 

The Psalmist is excited about the glory and reverence of God. He reminds us that the gods of other nations are idols not worthy of reverence, but the Lord made heaven and earth. Splendor and majesty surround Him and strength and glory are his sanctuary.

Assign glory and honor to God. The writer uses the word "ascribe" to emphasize the authority we should place on the name of God.
He calls us to bring an offering into His courts. He does not want burnt offerings, but a contrite heart is the sacrifice he asks us to bring.

He calls us to proclaim His works among the nations, to repeat the facts of his glory and His blessing, to be attentive to His creation. We are to rejoice before him and bring honor and glory to His name. He will judge the earth.


Psalms 97

Again, the author is not noted.
He declares God's authority and power. God is cloaked in darkness, righteousness, and justice. Fire goes before him. The earth trembles, the mountains melt, and all see his majesty.

The people of the whole earth see His majesty, and those who love the Lord hate evil. Zion and Judah rejoice and light shines on the righteous.  Rejoice in the Lord and Praise His holy name.

Psalms 98

Psalms 98 returns to the praise of God with song and the author uses the voice to magnify the glory and salvation God offers to the people of the earth. He mentions shouts and jubilation as acts of worship.
He also calls for making music on the harp and the blast of the ram's horn and trumpets.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it, and all who live in the world. Let the rivers clap their hands and the mountains sing for joy. All this rejoicing and celebration comes in honor of God's judgment of the world in righteousness.

Psalms 99

Psalms 99 describes and gives details of God's power to rule Heaven and earth. There is no place where He is not in control. The author lists individuals in the history of Israel who played a part in God's plan, but the glory and honor belong to God alone. This Psalms is compact and powerful claiming God's absolute control.

Psalms 100

This Psalm is noted to give grateful praise.
It is used often in worship and is powerful to remind worshippers of the power and majesty of God. Reading it communally, or individually, is an appropriate introduction to formal worship, to prepare for a service with your community of believers. 

Take time to dwell on the meaning of the phrases and enter with joy and gladness to be in His presence.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Psalms 91-95

Psalms 91

This is one of the better-known Psalms. It is often read and recited for reassurance and encouragement in times of trouble. It uses a bird metaphor to remind the believer of the care of the Lord for the one who is in need of defense and covering.

There are, indeed, dangers around us, but, with God, they will not come near. The believer does have a responsibility in this event. He must believe and claim God as his dwelling place. When your faith is in Him, He extends his protection to you.

Because the believer has put faith in God, He is moved to protect and deliver the faithful from impending disaster. We are not to test God or seek His protection when we are not called by Him to a place of risk.

God intends to honor the faithful and blesses him with long life and Salvation.

Psalms 92

This Psalm is a tribute to music as a testimony to God. The writer is not recorded by name, but it is possible the writer was David or some member of the Temple choir.

He mentions the harp and the ten-stringed lyre as tools of worship. He also includes the voice as important in proclaiming God's works.
He lists joy and gladness as results of God deeds that are worthy of celebrating in song.

The writer celebrates the value of singing and music by citing the growth and strength of those who worship God. The Lord is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.

Psalms 93

Psalms 93 proclaims the majesty of God. It notes God's strength and the security of the creation he established. The writer hears his voice in the sounds of the sea, but God is mightier than the sea.

God's statutes stand forever. Holiness adorns God's house for endless days. I think that means forever.

Psalms 94

Psalms 94 opens claiming God to be an avenging force. He calls on God to rise up and pay back the proud. The writer names the sins the arrogant commit on the weak, the widow, and the foreigner. They deny that God's sees their behavior. They pour out arrogant words and the evildoers are full of boasting. He calls them "senseless fools," and he begins to address them calling to their attention that the one who made ears and eyes sees and hears them.

He uses rhetorical questions to probe their hearts and minds. "Does he who disciplines nations not punish?

In vs. 12 he begins a passage of praise for God's discipline and righteousness. The righteous of God will be your foundation. When my foot was slipping, your unfailing love supported me.

When anxiety overwhelmed me, your consolation brought me joy. He closes the psalm in the confidence that God's judgment is righteous and his love everlasting.

Psalms 95
This Psalm praises God from beginning to end. The call to the people is continuously reminding them of the times when they tested God and he proved faithful to hear them. He brought them through the Desert Wandering and gave them a land.

Come let us sing to the Lord. Let us bow down and worship. God called them and offered them rest. He said, "Do not harden your hearts."

He still calls to us. He still wants us to enjoy the glory of His Kingdom. Don't be wayward and arrogant. God is merciful and gracious. He is the Rock of our Salvation.

Read these Psalms and rejoice in God's goodness to us.
  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Psalms 86-90

Psalms 86

This prayer of David is deeply sensitive and addresses his most profound needs. I was struck by the phrase in vs. 11. I find I need that "undivided heart" like David did. I have many concerns and needs pulling at my attention, but I pray to be focused on God and his glory so that I may serve Him wholly. 
I don't have foes like David did. No armed soldiers are lining up for battle, but the people and needs in my life pick at my desire to be totally devoted to God and His calls to me.

Vs. 15 through 17 reassure me of God's thoughts and intentions toward me. He abounds in love and His mercy and grace are ever extended toward me. I can see God's blessing on my life every day, and I am comforted by His joy and glory.

Psalms 87

This Psalm was composed by the author known as the Sons of Korah. There were three descendants of Korah. I don't know if they collaborated or if all of them used this designation.

Psalms 87 is a tribute to the City God called his own. Jerusalem was built on Mount Moriah and had been a place of importance as far back as Melchizedek, Genesis 14:18-20. In vs. 3 he addresses the City, recounting her glorious history.

Rahab was a woman of Jericho who hid the spies Joshua sent to search out the land before the people crossed the Jordan. She was given sanctuary with them in return for her protection of the spies. Babylon was the capital city of Assyria. Both these references have been used to refer to Egypt even though neither one has a political connection.

He lists other cities from history that are important as reference points to identify Jerusalem. Philistia, Tyre, and Cush are compared to Jerusalem, but they fall short of the glory of Jerusalem. He exalts' the fountains of Jerusalem. Water was always the important item when building a city. Jerusalem had all the important elements. 

 Psalms 88

This is written by the Sons of Korah directed to the Choirmaster to the tune of "The Suffering of Affliction." It is labeled as a Maskil, or, in some way instructive.

He cries out to God for his help and compassion. He fears he is going to die, and he asks God if the dead praise him. He still seeks God's guidance and help, but he seems to be without any hope but God.

He feels God has deserted him. He does not have a friend or neighbor to call on. He says God hides his face and darkness is his closest friend. In vs. 11 he mentions destruction and Abaddon. Abaddon represents destruction and the place of Sheol, the equivalent of Hell.

Psalms 89

This Psalm is written by Ethan the Ezrahite, which may be the same person as Jeduthun. He may have been a musician in David's court. This Psalm is longer than some, though it is not the longest. It is a Psalm of praise and adoration of God and His power.

He praises God's love which stands firm forever and his faithfulness to all generations.

The Heavens praise you, Lord. Who is like you, Lord God Almighty.

You rule over the surging sea. When the waves mount up, you still them. You founded the earth and all that is in it. Your arm is endowed with power. Your hand is strong and your right hand is exalted. I read this as a reference to Jesus as God's right hand.

He sees righteousness and justice as the foundations of God's throne and love and faithfulness going before him.

He pays tribute to David as God's anointed king of Israel. David is a metaphor for Jesus as the Son who will rule over His creation. His enemies will fall before him. God's faithful will be upon him, and through God's name, His power will be exalted. His throne will last as long as heaven endures.

If his sons sin and rebel, I will punish them, but my love will be with them forever.

Praise be to the Lord forever.

Read this Psalm and remember the promises of God to the loved ones of Jesus.

Psalms 90

This Psalm is notable for 2 reasons. It is the beginning of the fourth book of Psalms, and it was written by Moses.

I believe this was written at the end of Moses' life. He could not have seen the wisdom and patience it shows until he had walked with the Children of Israel in the desert. It also shows he walked with God in the desert for 40 years. 

Many memorable verses in this Psalm speak of God's love to us and reveal his patience and guidance in difficult places. 

A thousand years are like a day that has just passed or like a watch in the night. We don't need to fret over the time we feel we have wasted. God has it written in his log. It's new every morning.
Our days may come to seventy years or eighty, but teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom

Make us glad for as many days has you have afflicted us. Show us your deeds and your splendor. May your favor rest upon us. Establish the work of our hands.

Vs. 17 pleads for the favor of God to rest upon us. The word translated favor may also be translated as beauty. I like that. May the beauty of God rest upon us as we learn to exhibit a heart of wisdom

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Psalms 81-85

Psalms 81

This Psalm was authored by Asaph or dictated to him by David. It is directed to be accompanied by the gittith, a stringed instrument brought from Gath by David.

This Psalm calls Israel to rejoice, strike up the band.
He continues with repeated instruction to join in the fun.
This is the day to howl at the moon.
Asaph cites the victories of Israel and the triumphs of God.

In vs. 6 Asaph hears a voice claiming He had removed the burdens from Israel, He freed their hands.

He had answered their cries, but they would not obey.
I brought you out of Egypt. 
I am the Lord your God.
My people would not listen to me.
So I let them have their own way.

How quickly I would deal with their enemies and turn their foes.
I would feed them with the finest wheat and satisfy them with honey from the rock.

The land would be productive and even the rocks would provide a place for beehives. 

I am a Christian, so I read this as related to Jesus. He said, "I am the Bread of Life, so to me, wheat is code for bread. Honey from the rock means Jesus is the Rock and he represents honey, nourishment, sweet and tasty.

Psalms 82  

Psalms 82 is a severe criticism of human judicial systems. Asaph takes judges to task for their favoritism of the wicked and unjust. He portrays the judges as "gods,"  but they do not honor the law. They seek favor from those who hold power over the fatherless, the weak and needy. These "gods" know nothing; they are without understanding.

These are still mortals who will die like every other human. He calls God to rise up and judge the earth and these men who have corrupted the righteousness of God will share in the judgment.

Psalms 83

In Psalms 83, Asaph calls God to defend Israel against her foes. He lists the nations that surround Israel and names foes from her history as an illustration of the need for resistance. Sisera was the commander of Jabin's forces.  He met Israel's army in the Kishon Valley and was defeated by Barak when Deborah was Judge of Israel. Sisera died at the hand of Jael when he entered her tent demanding help.

He prays for God to make them like chaff before the wind. Leave them disgraced and ashamed before God. Let them know that you are the Lord, the Most High over all the earth.

Psalms 84

This is a Psalms of the Sons of Korah. Korah was a grandson of Kolath. Kolath had been a conspirator in a rebellion against Moses. He was punished for his unbelief. (See Numbers 16) Korah mentioned here is a descendant of Korah who died as a result of his disbelief. There are three sons of Korah who were commissioned by David to be custodians of the Tabernacle.

In this Psalm, there is abundant evidence of reverence toward God and faith in His presence and protection. 

Read it and renew your faith.

Psalms 85

Psalms 85 from the Sons of Korah.
This psalm cites Korah's faith in the provision of God for the people of Israel. He calls on God for the needs of the people and sometimes for his personal faith. He speaks to God about their needs and pleads for God to guide them into righteousness so they do not fall into sin.

He claims unity between love and faithfulness, and, similarly between, peace and righteousness. When we practice one, the other is the expected result.

He calls us to live in accordance with God's plan and not turn to folly that his peace will live in our land.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Psalms 76-80

Psalms 76

Psalms 76 is a song by Asaph to be accompanied by stringed instruments.

Asaph opens this Psalm with praise and exaltation of God. He names Jerusalem as God's home and his habitation as Mount Zion. He describes a scene after a battle where God was victorious. He broke the weapons brought against Him, and He stands radiant with light. The warriors lie defeated. The horses and chariots are still.

Asaph says God alone is to be feared. Who can stand before him when He is angry. He rose in judgment and the land was quiet. He saved the afflicted.

God's wrath against mankind brings praise to Him. Make vows to God and keep them. He breaks the spirit of rulers. He is feared by the kings of the earth.

Psalms 77

This Psalm is notable for several reasons. It was written by Asaph. It was written for Jeduthun (this may mean it was meant for Jeduthun's choir or for his direction). For more information about Jeduthun refer to 1 Chronicles 16.

Asaph begins the psalm pleading for God's help in a time of distress and weakness. He could not sleep and he was destitute and without resources. He felt he had been deserted by God.

In vs. 10 he remembers God's blessing and comfort from previous times. He begins to recite the blessings from God and reclaim strength from it. He began to reclaim the power of those former deeds. He proclaims God as the one who performs miracles. What God is like our God? 

As he reveres God, he begins to reclaim his strength from God and he remembers how God had led his people by the hands of Moses and Aaron.


Psalms 78

Psalms 78  is a maskil of Asaph.

This psalm is a historical account of Israel from the time they came out of Egypt to the kingship of David. Asaph recounts the major events and trials in Israel's history. He is amazed at God's deliverance of the rebellious people and also at their continuous disobedience. He cites the ways God tried to insulate them from error; the teaching from the priests and the instruction by the parents so that the next generation would not fall into sin.  

All this He offered to protect the people from the effects of sin and pollution, but they would not be loyal to him and refrain from worshipping idols. He did not totally destroy them. He was always ready to forgive and restore Israel. In vs. 57 he compared them to a faulty bow. They were unreliable. They did return to him when they saw His anger. He abandoned the Tabernacle at Shiloh and sent the Ark into captivity. The priests were put to the sword and the widows could not weep.

Asaph closes with the account of David, whom God took from the sheep pens, a man of integrity, to be the Shepherd of Israel.

Read this Psalm and recognize your own failures in the face of God's love and generosity toward you.


Psalms 79

Psalms 79 was written by Asaph.

This Psalm laments the destruction of Jerusalem. I don't know if the psalm was written by someone named Asaph at a time after the Israelites return from captivity, or if it was a prophetic writing composed in David's time. In either case, is it graphic and heart-felt. Dead bodies of the servants of the Lord are left as refuse. Asaph says they are objects of derision. He questions God. How long will you be angry?

He pleads for mercy repeating the question, "How long will you be angry?" He calls God's attention to the groans of the people who are the sheep of His pasture. He pleads for preservation and promises praise to God who can deliver vengeance.

Psalms 80

This Psalm of Asaph  is set to the tune of  "Lilies of the Covenant" with special note to the Director of Music.

This Psalm returns to the theme of destruction and conquest. Again, we don't know if it was written as a prophesy or a historical event. It is safe to assume the Asaph that served David did not live to see the conquest by Nebechadnezzar. I don't know what other event it could refer to.

Asaph cites destruction in several quarters. He pleads for God, the Shepherd of Israel, to come to help them. He calls on God to shine forth that they may be saved.

Then he prompts God with a question: How long will His anger smolder against them? They have eaten the bread of tears and drunk tears by the bowlful. They have been held in derision by their neighbors.

He returns to the plea that God would save them. He introduces a new metaphor: a vine from Egypt transplanted and nurturned to provide shade, but now the wall is broken and strangers pick its grapes. Boars will ravage it. Insects feed upon it. The root you planted has been burned. In verse 15 he menioned a son, but this can mean a branch has grown to sustain the vine. Maybe he means Solomon. 

He closes with a refrain that ran throughout the Psalm. Restore us Lord God Almighty, make your face to shine upon us , that we may
be saved.

Read it from the Bible to enjoy Asaph's words and emotions.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Psalms 71-75

Psalms 71

I found no attribution of authorship in this Psalm, but it sounds very similar to the Psalms of David in the references to God as his rock and his refuge. The author looks to God for help and safety in perilous times. He continually praises God for his protection and rescue. 

In vs. 9 he looks forward to the time of aging weakness when he fears his strength will have withered and his enemies are still conspiring against him. He is confident God will still be his savior and his enemies will die in shame.

In vs. 20, he admits that he has had many profound and bitter troubles, but God has been gracious to restore his name and honor. He praises God's righteousness and enduring comfort.

He promises to sing of God's faithfulness with the lyre and the harp. His testimony will be filled with praise for God's righteousness all the day long.

In Matthew Henry's Commentary, he does credit both Psalms 71 and 72 to David. Psalms 71 concerns David in his old age and 72 is David's prayer for Solomon when he becomes King of Israel.

Psalms 72

David had been king for 40 years, and he knew the difficulty of being a good king. He sought wisdom and righteousness for Solomon in his reign. 

He begins by asking God to provide wisdom and righteousness in Solomon's heart. Being king is not as easy as it looks.

Then he asks for the natural elements to bring blessings to the nation. Water for good crops is just the beginning. He calls for righteousness and defense for afflicted people and salvation for the children of the needy.

He prays for his territory to increase, that he will rule "from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth."(For details of the succession to the Throne, see I Kings 1 and 2.)

Matthew Henry's Commentary says this is the last Psalm David wrote when he was dying. It is not the last as they are organized in the Book of Psalms. 


Psalms 73

Psalm 73 begins the third book of Psalms. It is a Psalm of Asaph. Asaph was David's Director of Music. He wrote 12 Psalms so he was skilled in language as well as music. His works include Psalms 50 and 73 through 83. One authority posed the possibility that the psalms he wrote were dictated by David, but that was one person's opinion, and not generally accepted.

This psalm shares the attitude of many in the modern world. Satan paints an inviting picture of the life of the wealthy and powerful, and Asaph was almost taken in by it. He envied the arrogant and he almost went for that kind of security.

He was troubled by his own thoughts, and he felt he had betrayed his office. When he went to the Sanctuary of God, he saw their final destiny. Money and power were deceptive and God alone was his strength. His greed for power and money had made him a brute beast, but in God, he was restored, and with the Sovereign Lord as his refuge, he would stay near God and tell of his deeds.


Psalms 74

Psalms 74 is noted as a maskil of Asaph, but the description it contains is confusing. It could mean the Psalm is prophetic describing the destruction Nebuchadnezzar would bring on the Temple. The other option is the Psalm was written by a man named Asaph after Israel returns from captivity. The Psalm is a called a maskil which means it is a "golden psalm" and is intended to be instructional.

Asaph begins by addressing God with questions about why he has rejected Israel and directed his anger at them. He reminds God that the people he saved have been attacked by his foes in the place where Israel had worshiped him. He goes on to describe the destruction of the Temple and the humiliation of Israel. He laments that God has given no sign of hope and they are destitute. The prophets were all killed. 

Asaph cites no signs of hope, but he retains his faith that God is still able to restore Israel. In vs. 12, he launches into a list of God's acts that saved them in the past. In vs. 22, he implores God to show his power again: "Rise up, O God, Defend your cause." He does not doubt God's authority or ability to rescue Israel from His adversaries.


Psalms 75

A Psalm of Asaph. To the tune of "Do Not Destroy." A song.

This Psalm opens with an invocation of praise. 

Very quickly, Asaph quotes God with His affirmation of power and control and warnings to the arrogant. No one can boast in God's presence. Asaph echoes His claim. 

Moreover, God holds a cup the wicked will drink from. They will consume it to the dregs, but the Horn of the righteous will be lifted up. We have the chance to choose where will be at that time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Psalms 66-70

Psalms 66

This Psalm is not attributed to an author, but it is characteristic of other praises written by David and other writers. It is called to the attention of the Choir Director.

It calls for joyful singing and praise. It is refreshing to see the Biblical command to engage in joyous celebrations of God's blessing and praise. In vs. 3, God's deeds are described as "terrible," but other translations milder descriptors. The Holman translation says "awe-inspiring," and the NIV says "awesome." The KJV says "awesome and fearfully glorious." These alternate words do not make God less mighty or powerful, but they emphasize God's might and power without the reference to terror. 

In verses 8-12, he cites instances in Israel's history where God preserved them and renewed his commitment to them.

In verse 5 the author issues an invitation to "come see what the Lord has done," then he goes on to list some of those mighty deeds. He does not minimize the testing of the Israelites but praises it. God has a purpose in testing. He wants his people to be pure and righteous.
I have heard method of refining gold and silver compared to the refining process in God's interaction with individuals and with the nations. The raw metal is heated until it is liquid and the impurities can be removed.

When the refiner can see his face reflected in the molten metal, it is ready for use. God wants us to be pure in the same way. He wants us to reflect his character and his actions. Don't regret God's refining process, but understand he has a greater purpose in your life.
The author points to the offerings and the sacrifices of Israel as evidence of obedience, but the sacrifice God blesses is the repentant heart. God has listened to his prayer and has not removed his steadfast love. 


Psalms 67

Psalms 67 is a straightforward prayer for all the nations.  In the beginning, he seeks God to be gracious. Pretty quickly he calls on the people to recognize God's blessing and receive their praise. The author recognized the blessings God has bestowed and calls people to join in his prayer of thanks. 

The last two verses recap the message: receive blessings and give thanks and praise.

Psalms 68

Psalms 68 is attributed to David. It is a song and a psalm directed to the Director of Music. It is listed as a Messianic Psalm by some theologians because of references to the King and His personal suffering

This Psalm identifies the power and majestic acts of God in the history of Israel. In the first three verses, David describes the power of God toward his enemies as scattered and confused and without strength against God. The righteous rejoice before him.
Vs. 4-6 continue the story of rejoicing for the righteous because God blesses His people, becoming a father to the fatherless and a defense for widows. He makes one comment on the plight of the rebellious: They will live in a sun-scorched land.


Vs. 14 refers to a location that is difficult to determine now. In the KJV it is spelled Zalmon.  In other Bible translations it is spelled, Salmon. The location is uncertain and is often confused with other sites.  Mount Zalmon was a woody area near Shechem(Judges 9:46). Mount Salmon, or Zalmon, was a high hill that often received heavy snow, hence the reference to the "the kings scattered on the mountain like snow" in vs. 14.

David enters a discussion of the habitat of God indicating he dwells on a high mountain. He mentions Mount Bashan and Sinai.
In vs. 19, he calls for praise because God bears our burdens and saves us. Then he shifts to a mortal response to war.

The description of the King's procession is grand. The congregation applauds and calls for shows of strength and might. He calls on the congregation to sing praises and acknowledge the glory of God in the heavens. He no longer sees God as residing on the mountain but in Heaven.
Read it and rejoice in His power.

Psalms 69

Psalms 69 is a psalm of David to the tune of "Lilies." It is considered a Messianic Psalm.

In this psalm David experiences threat and persecution. It sounds like he was in danger of death. It could have been during a military campaign. Or it could be a metaphor for the constant threat he felt from enemies in his court. As a Messianic Psalm, it details the threat Jesus felt from the public.(Compare Luke 24:4; Matthew 26:14)
David is conscious of his human frailty. Sometimes he has denied fault, but here is freely confesses a lack of connection with the people. They hate him without a reason. Jesus said, "Beware when all men speak well of you."

As a Messianic Psalm, Psalms 69 looks to prophecies of the Second Coming for fulfillment.


Psalms 70 

A Psalm of David. For the Director of Music. A Petition.

David has prayed this Psalm before. Now with the repetition, he is bringing to God's notice the success he had the first time, and the relief he expects again. This is not idle repetition, but a reminder to God that he is consistent and faithful.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Psalms 61-65

Psalms 61

Psalms 61 is attributed to David and is intended to be sung with accompaniment by stringed instruments.

It begins with a dramatic plea for God to hear his cry. He calls out from a distant place; perhaps he is in battle or seeking safe journey in the desert. In the desert, elevation is an advantage. He asks for the defense of a higher place of safety. This has become a blessed refuge for those who know Jesus. David knew the truth of Jesus as the Rock. "The Rock that is higher than I" made its way into our musical heritage. Many references to "The Rock" speaks of Jesus and his abiding presence and place of safety in our times of distress. "The Rock of Ages," "Standing on the Solid Rock," "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense," "the stone the builders rejected has become the capstone," these references from the Old Testament point to Jesus before his incarnation.

Another metaphor claims our attention in vs. 4: " I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings." This metaphor speaks to a warmer image than the majestic high rock. Dwelling in God's tent and finding safety under the covering wings of a mother bird are softer than the hard, heavy rock. The maternal instincts of the bird protect from cold and even shield from rain or snow. The tent and shelter provide a different aspect of protection than the rock image.

David prized the heritage from his family's worship of God. He sought God's blessing on the King. I am assuming this Psalm was written before David became King.

He closes with praise to God and a promise to fulfill his vows.

Psalms 62

For the Director of Music. For Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.
The notations are difficult because the meanings have been lost. Jeduthun may be the name of a Levite who served in the Temple. It may mean the Psalm was intended for his choir or his interpretation. He had sons who were also musicians so the notation may have had special meaning for his style of music or his methods of performance.

David's emphasis is on rest of God. He is conscious of those who would attack him, but he is sure of a place of safety. He points out that men, highborn or lowborn, are unreliable. Only God is faithful. Matthew Henry's commentary points out that the two things in vs. 11 are not different items, but that David heard it twice, once in his ear and then again in his heart or soul.

God's rewards, like his love, are unfailing. 

Psalms 63

This Psalm of David identifies the time it represents as David's time in the desert hiding from Saul.

The image of thirst in the dry, parched desert, to be satisfied by the presence of God is the opening. He praises God, recalling the times when he beheld His power and glory in the sanctuary. He remembers praising Him in the watches of the night and in the shelter of His wings.

David is confident that God will protect him and his enemies will be destroyed. Then there is vs. 11. He seems to have forgotten that the one who wants to kill him is the king. Is David remembering Saul before his paranoia set in, before the spear was thrown? I am very uncomfortable when I find an error, any kind of inconsistency in scripture. There are ways to back out of this confrontation. Perhaps David is projecting forward to the time when he will be King. Or the time before Saul sought to kill him. I don't know how others see this. I take the rest of the Psalm without reservations, but this takes some rationalization. I leave it to you, Dear reader, take your best shot.

Psalms 64

This Psalm of David describes the damage inflicted by cruel words, by those who "sharpen their tongues like swords." He describes the conspiracy of those "who encourage each other in evil plans."

"God will shoot them with his arrows." "God will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin."

"The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him."

This Psalm is reassuring to those who are besieged by problems and verbal assaults. It is a source of comfort to who those who need reassurance in the face of public opinion. We do not need to respond to bitter and insulting diatribes when we are innocent. God will undertake for us.  The upright in heart will glory in the Lord.

Psalms 65

Psalms 65 is a litany of reasons for praising God, of ways in which He blesses us, and of some of the ways the goodness of the earth's bounty provide for us.

In reading it you will recognize God's attention to our needs and his provision for our comfort. The Psalm is labeled as a song and it is directed to the attention of the Director of Music. We have no insight into the way music was performed in David's time, but with these notes, I feel this may have had special meaning to David. David always expresses thanks and praise, but in this Psalm, he expresses no negative thoughts. He is not fearful of enemies or evil events. It's all good. Use it to remind yourself of all your blessings and benefits.  
Scripture quotes are from The Apologetics Bible, the Holman Translation.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Psalms 56-60

Psalms 56

This Psalm is noted as a miktam, a golden psalm. It is also noted for the tune, "A dove on distant oaks" which also refers to David exiled from home, in a foreign land, and without succor.
This is another Psalm which records David's dependence on God during the time he hid from Saul in Gath among the Philistines.(See 1 Samuel 21:10 for further details.) David feared Saul and could not confront him because he was the King of Israel. Samuel had anointed David to be king after the reign of Saul, but David never attempted to hasten the event.

In this Psalm, he recounts his fear and trials. He believes that man cannot do anything to him that God does not ordain. He seeks God to secure his peace and does not forget to remind God of his vows to him.

He is fearful and alters his behavior to appear mad to his captors. 
He does not attempt to take vengeance but appeals to God to deliver him and bring righteous judgment on those who torment him.


When his enemies turn back, he takes this as a sign of God's blessing toward him. He continues to give thanks and praise for God's deliverance from death. God has kept his feet from stumbling. 

Psalms 57

This Psalm is a Miktam by David set to the tune "Do Not Destroy." It recalls the time he hid from Saul in a cave.

The text does not mention the cave, but the endless chase and persecution he experienced.
He calls on God to protect him from the beasts and the pursuers.  In the midst of this danger, he exalts God and sings glory to his name. He details the trap they set for him: a net to entangle his feet and a pit in his path, but they were victims of their own plot.
He closes with a refrain of praise:
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens          
        Let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalms 58

These Psalms seem to record various stages of the siege David endured in his efforts to avoid confrontation by Saul. This one is also set to the tune of "Do Not Destroy." It is also a Miktam, a golden psalm.

The psalm begins by addressing the rulers and judges calling for justice and equity. He calls the wicked who are evil from their birth, to righteousness.

He seeks justice from God who will tear the teeth from the mouths of the lions who rip the victims

During this difficult time, David never sways from calling on God.
He does confess fear, but he always seeks God's instruction, and he is faithful to obey. He had his family with him and about 600 men who were loyal to him. They hid in the caves and ravines in the desert.

He ends this psalm with the knowledge that the righteous are avenged and rewarded, and there is God who judges the earth.

Palms 59

This is a Psalm of David, again to the tune of "Do Not Destroy." It is provoked by Saul sending men to watch David's house to kill him.

David is feeling the stress of constant pressure from Saul, and he views it as a military campaign. He repeatedly defends his own honor and innocence. He calls God to witness his jeopardy and his plight. He will take no steps to destroy the attackers, but he urges God to do so. He is somewhat disrespectful calling them "dogs,"

He closes with praise and confident assurance of God's strength and deliverance.

Psalms 60

This is another Miktam concerning Arameans of Mesopotamia and Central Syria and Joab striking down 12,000 men in the Valley of Salt. It is sung to the tune of "Lily of the Covenant." 

David is desperate. The very ground is shaking under him. Perhaps there was an earthquake. He turns to God saying, "Restore us. Save us."

Things look bad, but David never surrenders to defeat. He still vows God will gain the victory and trample the enemies.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Psalms 51-55

Psalms 51

David has confessed sin in other psalms and sought forgiveness, but he never identified the sin before. This time we know the sin and the consequences. Read the story in 2 Samuel 11-12:24.

He did not discuss the origin of the problem in Psalms, but in 2 Samuel 11, it is readily apparent. When his troops were in the field, David walked on the roof of his house and cast his eye toward a woman bathing. David had no lack of female companionship, but he was the King and no one denied him. Bathsheba did not protest his attentions either.

It's strange how sin propagates sin. First, David saw Bathsheba, then he had her brought to him. That was enough to have caused her husband alarmed. But then David went to extremes to prevent her husband's suspicion. Uriah had no guile and never accused either of them. Each step in the deception drew the net of sin tighter on David. You can't get out of the hole by digging it deeper. David's own conscience drove him to hide the adultery but brought murder to the forefront.

We see the righteousness and honor of Uriah. He came at David's call, but he would not go home and sleep on clean sheets and share company with his wife when the troops were in the field. Even drunk, he remained fit for duty and honorable.

David did a lot of work to pull off the subterfuge and involved several people in the plot. Bathsheba was complicit in the plot, and Joab did the final stroke of betrayal leaving Uriah without support in the battle. In his confession, David says that he sinned against God. All sin is ultimately against God even when others are hurt by it. David takes no thought of the others who suffered from his sin.

In the verses of his confession, David never defends his actions. He repeatedly acknowledges his own responsibility and accepts the righteous judgment of God. He uses metaphors of cleaning the dirt from his soul (vs.2 and7) renewal of a steadfast spirit (vs. 10 and 11.)  When he is restored through repentance, he wants to teach sinners the value and benefit of being faithful. He doesn't want Israel to be punished for his sin.

About the first thing that is lost in sin, is Joy. David asks God to restore the Joy of His salvation. Many times he seeks the nearness of God's presence. Once he prays that God would restore his broken bones. Every part of his life was affected by the sin. He calls on God to restore "a clean heart within him." 

We may not have committed the same sin as David, but his repentance is a model of us. Read it for yourself!


Psalms 52

This Psalm was written after Doeg revealed to Saul that David had sought provisions and armaments from Ahimelech. Ahimelech was the priest who served in the Temple. He gave David the holy bread and the weapons of Goliath. Saul ordered Ahimelech and his family and all the priests to be killed because he feared everyone who was supportive of David.  David's family was included in Saul's judgment. Saul thought David was trying to take his throne, but his paranoia was his downfall. David's movements were directed against the Philistines, never against Saul.

The Psalm is spoken in accusation against Doeg who had killed 85 priests. It would be easy to charge the events to Saul, and rail against him, but David thought of Saul in grander terms than that. Although Saul sought him and chased him in the wilderness, David never gives in to anger or hostility aginst Saul. Saul was his father-in-law and the father of his dearest friend. David had opportunities to kill Saul, but he never raised his hand against him even though Saul threw a spear at him.

Read the dramatic story of David's rise to rule over Israel in 1 Samuel 18-2 Samuel 2. 

Psalms 53

Mahalath is probably a musical or literary term. It may refer to a tune of the psalm.

This Psalm is a definition of the world and society that has no honor or respect for God. Compare it to Psalm 14 and evaluate the consequences. Put your mind to understand the problems that would melt away if we obey the righteous edicts of God.

The writer looks forward to a time when people will see the restoration of God's order out of Zion.

Psalms 54

In this Psalm we again see David attacked, threatened, and fearful, but as before, he resorts to God for protection. He as hiding in the territory of the Ziphites, but they betrayed him to Saul.

We still have the option to seek God's direction like David did and be obedient to it when we face financial and political choices. David is a good model to look to for strength in tough times. Like David, we must also remember to praise him for answers and resources. Offerings of thanksgiving are appropriate also.

Make this Psalm a regular in your daily reading.


Psalms 55

  Many expositors view this Psalm was written on the occasion of Absalom's rebellion with Ahithophel as the treacherous friend, but I agree with Matthew Henry's view.  It is likely that the distress David is experiencing is from the bitterness from his former companion Saul whom he played the harp for to quiet his spirit.

David details his emotions since he is constantly attacked by Saul's words and actions. This Psalm is an excellent resource for those who live in stressful situations and feel persecuted by those who are close to them.

Remember these words when you feel attacked and persecuted. "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you," (vs. 22)
He lists the calamities that are assured to the wicked, but David's trust is steadfastly in God. He addresses God in closing, "as for me I trust in you."(vs. 23)

Bible references are from the NIV.  Matthew Henry's Commentary was consulted in writing this post.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Psalms 46-50

Psalms 46

This Psalm is noted to be by the Sons of Korah. It was intended to be performed in the range of female voices, the young women preferably. The word selah occurs at the end of vs. 7 and again after vs. 11. It may be a musical instruction. These verses are a refrain emphasizing God's protection.

The Psalm praises the power and might of God to draw worshipers to see God's glory. In vs 3-6 the author begins a peek into the glories of Heaven. 

Vs. 10 echoes the message Elijah received on Mt. Horeb. I Kings 19:12- Be still and know that I am God.


Psalms 47

This Psalm was written by the Sons of Korah. It is a straightforward praise of God giving Him credit for all the power and majesty in the world. The author calls for clapping and joyous shouts as a demonstration of praise and celebration.


Psalms 48

This is another Psalm by the Sons of Korah. It praises Jerusalem as the City of God and identifies it with Mount Zion.

The word selah appears at the end of vs. 8.  The word's meaning is uncertain, but it may be a musical direction. The description of the
beauty and loftiness of the city may be exaggerated since it did not gain such a great reputation until after Solomon built the Temple. It was the City of David, and the palace of the King elevated the city to an exalted position. 

The author describes kings joining in attacking but fleeing in fear when they neared the city.  Perhaps it was the walls and gates, fortresses and ramparts that repelled the attack. The author attributes the defense of Jerusalem to God Himself. He is her fortress. 

He ends with a word of praise: "He is our God forever and ever. He will be our guide even to the end."


Psalms 49

The author is the Sons of Korah. He details the uselessness of wealth and power against human weakness. Money cannot redeem a soul or prevent the decay of the body.

Vs. 15 reminds us not to be amazed at wealth and splendor, for it is God who redeems a soul.

His final caution warns us that people who have wealth but lack understanding are like beasts that perish. There is no hope for them. This Psalm is both prophetic and reassuring to those who know God.


Psalms 50

This Psalm attributed to Asaph is the most difficult I have found to analyze. It begins with praise to God for his beauty and power and for beauty in the heaven and world he created.
In vs. 5 he shifts his attention to the judgment he proposes on the people he created. He sees them as consecrated by their sacrifices.
He dismisses the animal sacrifices. He does not need a bull or sheep. He calls his people to be thankful, and then he calls on them to depend on him, and he will deliver them.

He makes another shift in focus: He chastises the wicked. He continues with a litany of offenses they commit against his righteous laws. 

The Psalm ends with a harsh prophecy of consequences for those who disregard his promises and an invitation to partake of salvation to those who obey.

Read to see where you fit in.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Psalms 41-45

Psalms 41

Psalms 41 tells a story. David begins with the truth about God, but after three verses he shifts to his personal experience and problems. I guess we all do that, read the Bible but apply its message more personally.

He began with how those who consider the weak gain God's attention. I suppose "weak" can be interpreted as sick, poor or somehow challenged by the demands of society and living. He continues with seeking God to protect him against those who attack him unjustly. In his position, he was subject to envy from associates and jealousy from others.

David seems to live at the mercy of his own paranoia. That is a risk that comes to all who are in any sort of elevated position: they always have the detractors who would disable and destroy them. But David has God. In verse 13 he gives praise for God and His eternal 
protection.


Psalms 42 and 43

Psalms 42 is the beginning of the Second book of Psalms. The Psalms are divided into 5 books, and this Psalm begins the second book. It is attributed to the Sons of Korah. Korah was a descendant of Levi and shared in the Levitical duties, but he recruited 250 Israelites to challenge Moses and Aaron in a rebellion. Read Numbers 16 for the sad story and restoration of Moses and
Aaron as leaders of the Exile.

The Sons of Korah who are mentioned in Psalms are descendants of Korah, but they have been restored as keepers of the Temple and musicians. 

Psalms 42 provides a striking metaphor of a thirsty deer that seeks for streams of water as the soul seeks for God. In Hebrew manuscripts, Psalms 42 and 43 are one Psalm. The theme continues as the writer confesses his need for God to sustain him. His internal argument questions why he is upset for God is faithful. He closes with a tribute to God's love and enduring promise of faithfulness.  

Read Psalms 42 and 43 perhaps with new insight.


Psalms 44


In this Psalm written by the Sons of Korah, we find a tribute to God for his defense of Israel. Like the Psalms of David, this one also calls on God to come to the aid of the country and the people. They have become a by-word and a reproach. He calls on God to help them and not desert them in their troubles.

The author continues to claim them to be God's people. "We had not forgotten you.," he says. Then he leaves the responsibility on God. Awake Lord! Why do you sleep? He closes with a new affirmation of their dependence on God.  Rise up and help us/
Rescue us because of your undying love.(vs. 28)


Psalms 45

This Psalm is a wedding song sung to the tune of "Lilies." It can be confusing since the bride is sometimes the focus of the words, but other verses are addressed to the groom. Also, the groom is sometimes the representative of God and is addressed as God.

In vs. 10 the bride is told to forget her people and her father's house.  It is time to assume her place in a new household.

The Psalm closes with a tribute to the bride and her everlasting memory.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Psalms 36-40

Psalms 36

This is another of the Psalms of David. The introduction describes him as "The servant of the Lord."

Several of David's Psalms focus on his own sin and his pleading to God for forgiveness, but this time he is concerned with the people he sees around him, perhaps, in his family or his associates.

This is a sermon worthy of a great preacher. The sinful flatter themselves in their own eyes and don't fear God or recognize his authority. They make evil plans on their beds at night.

Vss. 5-9 he reminds us of the love and righteousness of God. He calls to mind the heavens, the mountains, the oceans for comparison. 
He claims the love and righteousness of God for those who know Him, but reserves destruction for the proud, the wicked and the evildoer.

Psalms 37

Psalms 37 is an acrostic poem with each verse beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This one has an inconsistency in translation because there are 40 verses, but there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Usually the acrostic poems have 22 verses or a multiple of 22. Apparently some translation problem caused a variation in the verse count.

The sections or verses give an instruction followed by a reason or consequence.  One of David's major themes is the benefit of righteousness and the sure destruction of evil doers. Another repeated caution is against worry. He uses the word "fret." Vss.1,  7 and 8 and much of the text cautions against allowing your thoughts to dwell on negative emotions and internal anger and fear of the wicked.

Many of the verses are memorable and often quoted for support and inspiration. Vs. 4 is one that sustains and strengthens: "Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Verse 25 is often quoted for strength in difficult times: "I was young and now I'm old, but I have not see the righteous forsaken or their young begging bread."

Many verses contrast the lives and expectations of the righteous and the wicked. Pay attention. You might find the reason for your situation here.

Vss, 39 and 40 give a summation of the ways and lives of the righteous and the wicked. It will give you insight into your choices. Read it with intention.

Psalms 38

This is a plea for forgiveness. David often pleads for forgiveness, but we are rarely aware of the name of his sin. In this Psalm he does not define the sin, but he is very expressive about the effects of it.

Proverbs 12:4 and Habbakuk 3:16 describes sin as having the effect of bringing rottenness to the bones. David does not use that expression, but he describes lack of soundness due to sin. He pleads for God to release him from the burden of sin. 

Festering wounds are gruesome and sin has caused him to be shunned by those who are closest. Sometimes those who would have been his companions may have avoided him because they fear judgment or because they are ashamed to be associated with him. Or maybe he is paranoid and they are not as repulsed as he believed. Either way, he is conscious of the sin and repentant before God.

Read it and see if he identifies ways in which you have failed to be obedient and repentant.

Psalms 39

Jeduthun was a musician in the Temple appointed by David. 

In the text of the Psalm, David decides to cease speaking to make sure he did not sin, but it didn't work. Like Jeremiah 20:9. the word of God became a flame and he could not restrain himself. He began to look on people and see the emptiness of life without God's provision. 

Life without God is a mist, a phantom, meaningless. Wealth is nothing. He fears God's judgment and dreads His word. He calls out for God's grace in his agony.

Psalms 40

Psalms 40 alternates praise with recitation of God's kindness. David is not overwhelmed by sin, but recalls God's goodness to him. He does plead for mercy and recognizes his sin, but he is confident of God's help and deliverance.