June 24th, 2021
This is our last free day of reading in the psalms! So, as I have done for the free days here are some more random thoughts that have come as a result of reading this hymn book of the Bible. One of the things we have seen often is the way the psalmists trust in the Lord. His love leads people to trust in Him. His name and reputation also encourage people to trust Him. The godly reject idolatry and any other commitment that might detract from absolute trust in the Lord. For those who believe, every single adversity in life is an opportunity for growing our trust in the Lord. In psalm 22:19 David confides that he trusted in the Lord even when he was still a child. Trusting in the Lord is a form of wisdom that focuses on the Lord, the rejection of evil, and the pursuit of the Lord’s ways. The Lord rescues, cares for, and rewards His people who trust in Him. They are blessed as they long for God’s redemption. Our faith in the Lord gives us reason to rejoice and praise the Lord.
Many of the psalms of praise speak of praising the Lord with music. The earliest people made music. The first musician mentioned in the Bible was Jubal, the first to play the harp and flute. Genesis 4:21. Music and sound were significant in the beginning of Israel’s worship in the tabernacle. In Exodus 28:34-35 Aaron’s robe is said to have had bells sewn along the lower hem that sounded as he entered the most holy place. The first liturgical music in scripture is in the account of the transfer of the ark of the covenant. King David and the Israelites sang, danced, and played musical instruments to the glory of the Lord. David is credited as having invented instruments used in the temple. After the Israelites returned from exile in Babylon, the Levitical singers helped lead worship. They were the descendants of Asaph, the choir director appointed by David. It looks like David was responsible for the organization of Israel’s liturgical music. Later, in the time of Solomon, music was more stately as opposed to David’s spontaneous worship. The singers and musicians were chosen from the tribe of Levi and they rotated their service between the weekday services, the Sabbath, and high holy days.
We have also seen God’s anger. The psalmist understood Israel’s exodus from Egypt as an object lesson of sorts about God’s anger. God expressed His anger against the Egyptians while sparing his people. Later on, Israel became the object of God’s anger during their wilderness journey when the people provoked Him by their rebelliousness. Because of this behavior, God took an oath that the rebellious generation would not be allowed to enter the promised land. They died in the wilderness. But, God restrained His anger in that He did not destroy all of Israel. We have seen that the Lord is just and righteous in His judgement. He is patient and slow to anger. But the wicked have stirred up God’s anger and they deserve His judgement. The purpose of God’s wrath is to remove evil doers and extend His kingdom. Evil must come to an end and the wicked must perish for the godly to inherit the earth. God’s people experience His anger when they sin. The experience, though painful, is brief in comparison to their joy in God’s mercy and goodness. He will not be angry forever. God is love and He loves His people with justice and holiness. In His great love for us He poured out His anger in Jesus Christ. Jesus received the full brunt of God’s wrath so that He could atone for our sins and reconcile us to God. He saves His people and rules from heaven at God’s right hand. Jesus is now the agent of God’s anger against the wicked.
Some of the psalms are creation psalms. God is the Creator of everything. He established the world and He rules over it. The whole of creation is His handiwork. The Creator governs and cares for all, that He has made. Psalms 8, 19, 28, 33, 89, and 104 are some of the creation psalms that celebrate the manifestation of God’s glory in creation. In psalm 89 God’s covenant with David is founded in God’s commitment to creation. Psalms 93-100 anticipate God’s worldwide dominion and when God comes, He will bring harmony and peace. The earth already belongs to him and He has already demonstrated His power in history. Psalm 104 is a creation psalm that reworks the six days of creation into a marvelous hymn of praise of God’s wisdom.
Another theme we have seen is the heart. The Hebrew word for heart can be translated as the actual physical human heart. But it is often spoken of as the seat or center of one’s being. It is the place for a person’s thoughts, life, reflections, and will. The story of the heart reveals a person’s commitment and direction in life. The hearts of the wicked are cunning and scheming. They are deceptive, hypocritical, greedy, jealous, and lacking in integrity. And as time goes on they become more and more arrogant, callous, and stubborn. Their only commitment is to themselves. Their destructive way of life leads to their eventual destruction. The psalmists, on the other hand, openly confess their sorrow, trouble, anguish, and despair. But through their pain their hearts grow. The same is true for us today. They pray intently, long for God, trust in Him, and open their hearts to God’s examination. Their commitment does not waver and their hearts are pure. They are content even when their hearts are broken. As their broken hearts are healed by the Lord they become stronger, more confident, and full of a life lived in Him. In the end the Lord gives them the desires of their hearts and then He satisfies them. God fills the godly with joy and praise.
There is one topic that had disturbed some folks and that is the prayers for vengeance. Sometimes the psalmists asked the Lord to execute vengeance against their adversaries. It was actually not unusual for a psalmist to pray for the violent destruction of their enemies as a manifestation of God’s justice. How can this even be right through? Some see this as as form of jihad, or holy war. Except the psalmists call on God to act, not other humans. Divine justice is defined in psalm 1:6. The Lord loves the righteous and destroys the wicked. The wicked are subversive, corrupt, and thoroughly committed to evil. They live gladly in opposition to God and everything that God does. The wicked shake the foundations of ethics, society, and of God’s kingdom. These prayers for the destruction of the wicked arose out of concern for justice and righteousness, and out of confidence in God. The psalmists argued that evil is inconsistent with God’s nature and the removal of evil is the only way for His kingdom to thrive. When God’s judgement was invoked it wasn’t with just anyone the Israelites couldn’t get along with. They were guided by God’s standards of justice and righteousness. These are the standards God holds all humans accountable to. The psalmists were intimately acquainted with suffering and grief. They had suffered. They had been marginalized by bullies, leaders, and kings from both inside and outside of Israel. They prayed prayers of faith and hope. They asked the Lord how long would He tolerate their suffering. They confessed that the Lord and the Lord alone could rescue them from this evil. Many times the psalmists expressed deep longing for God’s redemption. So, by asking for retribution they asked the Lord to inflict upon the wicked the same suffering they had endured. These prayers for justice and vindication allowed them to wait in peace as they waited on the Lord.
The question for us is do we truly see evil as evil, or is it a mere inconvenience? We too may pray for evil to end but as we do that we have to remember that God is the one who judges and executes that judgement. When we pray for His coming kingdom we are implying the removal and end of all evil. Now the cruelty inflicted on the wicked has been transformed through the cruel crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He will judge and bring an end to evil. We as Christians are now called to love as Christ loved, pray for our enemies, and forgive them.
These are again just a few of the things we have seen in the psalms. There are more but these will give you some food for thought as you finish up your journey through the psalms.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W
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