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Crucified Before the Foundation of the World

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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 

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.