So, we've seen that God's Word is His manual for living life to the maximum benefit. God's Word is His self-revelation. David says we also have the precepts of the Lord.
What are precepts? Precepts are doctrines, truths, absolutes - that are the guidelines, the requirements for blessing and joy.
A lot of people say they believe the Bible but it is not that you affirm the Bible that really matters. What really matters is what you affirm the Bible teaches. A few Saturdays ago we had Jehovah Witnesses come to our door. The gal wanted to discuss the next thing on God's agenda...the renewal of the earth. (He is going to destroy it by fire before He recreates a new earth...) I brought the conversation around to the person of Christ. A very clear truth set out in Scripture is that Christ is God. She would not affirm that.
The Word of God sets down truths that are to be believed. They are right. It means right in the sense of a right path. The Word puts you in the right direction. The truths that the Lord gives us in His Word are going to send us on the right path. Scripture's testimony is that we are to walk in the precepts of the Lord and when we do, when we walk the right path, the result is a rejoicing heart. I pray the Lord removes the blinders from that woman's eyes, so she can see the truth of who Christ is, what He did to make salvation possible for her, and begin to walk in the right path, one by faith and not works, the path that will give her true and lasting joy in her heart.
Walking in God's truths results in joy.
The believer's joy fluctuates in real life. It is vulnerable to Satan's attacks. The preservation of our joy in the faith takes work. Paul told the Corinthian believers - "Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy." 2 Cor. 1:24 Satan roars about looking for who he can take the joy of faith away from...he can't take our salvation away, but he throws all kinds of things at us to take away our joy of faith. When he is successful it has a crippling affect on our service to the Lord. The shield against Satan's attacks is the Word of God.
We do what we do and feel how we feel because of how we think. On the days we don't feel like doing what we know to be pleasing to the Lord, the best thing we can do is get our minds back into His truths, choose to be obedient whether we feel like it or not, and joy does return. It is work, but God blesses us when we choose obedience.
Just the first characteristic of scripture and its benefit shows us why the Word has been Satan's battleground since the garden of Eden. His desire is to keep us from God's instruction, that which transforms wretched sinners and puts them on the right path, a God-glorifying path. With Eve in the garden, he was trying to draw her away from God's counsel. He basically told Eve that God had lied, she wouldn't die if she ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and she would also be wise without God's counsel. Eve believed the counsel of Satan. Even before sin entered the world, we were created to be dependent on the counsel of God's Word. It's His testimony that makes us wise.
A testimony is a personal witness to one's own experience. When you are summoned to court, you give a testimony, your experience to a certain situation. The guys in our church meet once a month. They are taking turns giving their testimonies. They are giving their personal experience regarding God.
Scripture is God's testimony about Himself. It is His own revelation, His own self-disclosure. What a grand way God has revealed Himself! In sixty-six books, thirty-nine in the Old Testament, twenty-seven in the New Testament. It all reveals truth about God so that we may know about God and rest securely in His self revelation as truth.
The characteristic of God's testimony is that it is sure...that means it is reliable, it is trustworthy. Scripture is the one book you can fully and completely trust. And the benefit that God's testimony is trustworthy is that it makes wise the simple.
Simple is a word in the Hebrew that basically means ignorance. It means one without understanding, one who does not know. It basically comes from a root which means open door. A friend of mine's favorite quote goes like this - "The problem with having an open mind is that your brains fall out." Makes you smile, doesn't it? The idea of being simple-minded is the idea of an open door. It means everything goes in and everything goes out, including your brains, or right thinking or correct understanding and therefore skilled living. What is the purpose of a door? It keeps certain things in and certain things out. It's a point of discrimination, right? Scripture puts a door on our minds!
We were created to be dependent on God's counsel. It is His counsel that makes us wise. We are foolish and sinful when we reject it. It is His counsel that makes us skilled in all manner of living. And His counsel is reliable and trustworthy because He is reliable and trustworthy. The Word of God takes the naive, the inexperienced, the undiscerning, the uninformed and makes us skilled in the art of living. We then live life to its fullest and best, a life which gives glory to God.
I've been snooping around the internet. Some are saying the Copenhagen Treaty will not be ratified. Some are saying Obama won't sign it. Time will only tell if Lord Monckton is right about Obama signing the treaty. Here are some interesting links on the Treaty.
Scroll down for my original post with the link to the Lord Monckton "Sobering Video."
Let me ask you a question...what are the things you long for? Is it wisdom, discernment, peace? Everybody wants joy don't they? How about understanding or transformation? Next question...where does one go to find these things? Most go to the wrong source.
Nothing can benefit us like scripture, nothing.
In Psalm 19:7-9 we have six statements regarding scripture. Within these six statements we find six titles, six characteristics, and then six benefits of scripture. These six statements sum up the sufficiency of the Word. Everything we need for life to make sense is right here in scripture. "Of the Lord" is used with each title. Scripture are the words of the Lord. Because of this it has a better effect on us than anything else we can read. When we go to the word of man we go to that which truly cannot transform us. David just sang that the heavens are an around-the-clock, global, voiceless, language which shout that God is glorious. While the skies point to an amazing, powerful, wise, awesome Creator, they cannot transform the heart or restore the soul. David sings that is is the law of the Lord that has the ability to restore the soul. That is the first benefit listed regarding the Word. And why does it have that ability? Because it is perfect.
The word "law" looks at scripture as God's instruction for man's conduct. God's law is our instruction manual on maximum human behavior. If you want to enjoy life to its fullest sense that God designed it, you must follow His instruction. He says His instruction is perfect - in the sense of completeness. (Yes, it is flawless too, of course.) God's Word is sweeping and complete and leaves nothing out. The effect of this is that it restores the soul. It transforms the inner person. God's Word has the power to convert, to transform, to regenerate by the work of the Spirit of God through its own testimony.
1 Peter 1:22 tells us that we are born again through the living and abiding word of God. Paul told the saints in the church at Rome that the gospel is the power of God to salvation. The writer to the Hebrews says that the word of God is alive, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It splits open the inner man, revealing sin, producing conviction and guilt as well as converting and restoring. The Word is the only power that can transform the inner man. If you are looking in other places besides God's Word to change you, you are going to the wrong source. Anything else will be ineffective and powerless to produce a vibrant, fulfilling, God-glorifying life.
You begin spiritual life with the Word. You must continue in the Word so it can perform it's transforming work. Since God's Word is an instruction manual, this implies that there is action to be taken on our part. We can read the Word till we are blue in the face, but God expects us to act on His instruction. Letting the Word of Christ dwell in us richly revives us from the inside out. It's also amazing how obedience brings restoration to a languishing soul!
I was going to make my next post on Psalm 19:7-9 but will do that another day. Here is a video that may shake you up a bit at first, but we must remember that the earth is the Lord's and all it contains - Psalm 24:1. A global ruler is prophesied in scripture to be set in place before Christ returns for the church. Could we see it in our life time? I believe so. God is sovereign and rules over all and ultimately His purposes will be accomplished...
...and He wins.
Psalm 18:2 - "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."
This psalm of David certainly is a favorite of many. This week I'll give you my thoughts and abbreviated teaching notes on this song of David.
In this psalm, David praises God for His natural revelation in the heavens and His specific revelation in His Word. David also sings that they both have a purpose. Spurgeon said of David, "In his earliest days while David kept his father's flocks he devoted himself to the study of God's two great books, nature and scripture."
In verse two David sings that the heavens are constantly speaking, around the clock, day after day, night after night. They don't speak in a whisper, they shout. They pour forth speech continually. It's a word for gushing or spewing out. The heavens are communicating to us all day long and all night long. The heavens are making knowledge known by shouting.
In verse three we learn that this knowledge that the skies are gushing forth is visual, not verbal. "There is no speech..." This knowledge is gained by looking up and seeing and beholding. The message going forth isn't using words. Something is being communicated by what we see.
Verse four tells us this voiceless knowledge is available to all. "There line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world..." The gray, stormy skies here in Western Washington as I type this are telling me something just as the skies are shouting a message to people in Japan, and Israel, and Ukraine, and Viet Nam, and even to those folks in West Michigan! The entire globe is being shouted at. The heavens are speaking to all.
What do the skies shout? What is their voiceless, visual, global declaration? What is the heaven's inescapable message? What are billions of diamonds sparkling against a black, velvet sky telling us? When the sky and clouds are awash in vibrant colors during a sunrise or sunset what message is invading our minds? When the horizon is filled with huge, snow-capped slabs of granite jutting forth as far as the eye can see, some shrouded in mist, the rest bathed with golden sunlight, what should swell up in our hearts?
Verse one tells us...THAT GOD IS GLORIOUS! The message of the skies is the glory and splendor of Almighty God! When we look at the heavens we see that God is awesome in His power and beyond comprehension in His wisdom and knowledge!
David then zeros in on one aspect of the heavens. David says in the latter part of verse four that in these "God-is-glorious-shouting-skies", the Creator has placed the sun. He likens the sun to a bridegroom and a rejoicing, strong man.
For a bridegroom the happiest day of his life is the day he marries, or it should be! When David sings about the sun coming out like a bridegroom from his chamber he is saying that the glory of God is a happy thing. The joyful reality of the glory of God goes out from one end of the heavens and makes its circuit across the skies to the other end. Nothing is hidden from the warmth of this joyful reality.
While the heavens declare the message that God is glorious, it cannot transform the soul. David then sings about what can...God's special revelation, His Word. I'll talk about that next time.
In the meantime, may your heart soar with the joyful reality of the glory of God whether you have blue skies where you are at, or skies filled with refreshing rain...
While my husband and I were sitting chatting today...he was feeding our grandson Daniel his bottle...the Fed Ex guy showed up and backed into our driveway. (Have you ever noticed how guys always seem to back into driveways and parking spots?)
"Are you expecting anything?", I asked.
"Nope," was the answer.
I opened the screen on the porch for the driver and he hoisted two large boxes up the steps and dropped them at our doorway. "Hmm....", I mused. I packed the boxes into the house and proceeded to dig for the kitchen scissors. I sliced open the top box and pulled out a curious looking machine with the word "Keurig" emblazoned across the top. I recollected immediately where I'd seen one before and knew just exactly what they were for - making that perfect cup of hot chocolate! (My husband would say "coffee!") I tore into the other box and it was filled with an assortment of hot beverages for the Keurig to work its brewing magic. My husband and I both looked at each other and just grinned. I removed the old, itty bitty 4-cup "Mr. Coffee" from its spot on the kitchen counter and replaced it with our new, shiny "Keurig". I then proceeded to make the best tasting hot chocolate I'd had in a long time. When Annie came to pick up Daniel I told her to look at my kitchen counter. Her eyes twinkled and a wide smile broke across her face...Then she chirped, "Hey, let's start a new tradition. Instead of going to Starbucks after I pick you up for church, I'll come a bit early and we'll have a "Keurig!"
"I think it's a great idea Annie!"
The Lord in His kindness sends those unexpected blessings through others who I think love putting those unexpected smiles on our faces!
I am a fan of Piper...I receive his blog posts via email. Today's was especially good. It takes our tendency towards pride and puts it in its place and exalts His grace...
"Unconditional election delivers the harshest and the sweetest judgments to my soul.
That it is unconditional destroys all self-exaltation; and that it is election makes me his treasured possession.
This is one of the beauties of the biblical doctrines of grace: their worst devastations prepare us for their greatest delights.
What prigs we would become at the words, "The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 7:6), if this election were in any way dependent on our will. But to protect us from pride, the Lord teaches us that we are unconditionally chosen (7:7-9). "He made a wretch his treasure," as we so gladly sing.
Only the devastating freeness and unconditionality of electing grace lets us take and taste such gifts for our very own without the exaltation of self."
Spurgeon has called Psalm 21 the fit companion of Psalm 20. Psalm 20 anticipates what this Psalm regards as realized. We can call it the thanksgiving psalm after the battle for which the prayer was made in Psalm 20.
We need to identify those mentioned in the psalm. The king in this psalm is David and the Lord in this psalm is Jesus. The king, or David, is writing to the Lord throughout the whole psalm - David is speaking to Jesus throughout the whole passage.
There is a shift between verses seven and eight because David is praising the Lord for His answers to David's requests, then speaks of the Lord's future actions. In verses 1-7 we see David praising the Lord for what He has done and in verses 8-12 we see David praising the Lord for what He will do. David sings as a prophet. In these latter verses we see Christ subduing His enemies during the day of the Lord. In the final verse David joins in with all in exalting the Lord.
Verses 1-7: David praises the Lord for what He has done…
v. 1 David returns from battle rejoicing greatly in the strength and salvation of the Lord. The Lord was the source of His victory, not his own might, nor his armies.
v.2 David was granted his heart’s desire. This seems to refer to the prayers offered for victory in Psalm 20. The Lord did not hold back David’s request but answered it by granting him victory. This victory brought tremendous joy to David’s heart.
v.3 David sings to the Lord that He has given David good things…cf. 59:10: “My God in His lovingkindness will meet me; God will let me look triumphantly upon my foes.” The Lord allowed David to look victoriously over his enemies. In 2 Sam. we see David taking the gold crown of an Ammonite king after fighting against the Ammonites. The crown was placed on David’s head. Was David referring to this? I don’t know… We do know that any spoil that David and his kingdom received was from the Lord.
v.4 This may refer to David asking that the Lord preserve his life in battle. The Lord did grant that request. The Lord also swore to David, His chosen, and servant, that He would establish his seed forever. (2 Sam. 7:13, 16, 29; Ps. 89:4)
v. 5 The Lord’s salvation and deliverance put David in a place of high honor. The Lord placed splendor and majesty on David.
v.6 The Lord heaps high favor upon David throughout eternity. God’s blessings are eternal. Throughout his psalms, David expresses the joy and gladness he experiences from being in the presence of the Lord. Psalm is one of my favorite verses, written by David-“In Thy presence is fulness of joy; in Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.” A great Spurgeon nugget regarding the Lord's presence - "This is the purest stream to drink of, and we should choose no other."
v. 7 David trusted in the Lord. The Lord placed His favor upon David because He loved him and David was not shaken.
Verses 8-12: David praises the Lord for what He will do…
At verse 8 we move to David praising the Lord for what is yet to happen. He has just rejoiced over his present victories and the blessings and favor that the Lord bestowed on him. Now he sings praises to the Lord for what is yet to happen…when Christ finds out all His enemies and passes judgment on them. This will occur during the day of the Lord. This is going to be a time of fiery judgment from heaven. He will swallow up all His enemies in His wrath. His enemies are those who hate Him. He will make His enemies like a fiery oven. v. 9
Malachi 4:1-“For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root or branch.”
According to verse 10 the Lord’s enemies have evil offspring as well. All will be destroyed. Verse 11 tells us that they intended evil against the Lord. They actually devise a plot. We get a bit of a clearer picture in Psalm 2.
Another great Spurgeon nugget for you in regards to verse 12 - "For a time the foes of God may make bold advances, and threaten to overthrow everything, but a few ticks of the clock will alter the face of their affairs. At first they advance impudently enough, but Jehovah meets them to their teeth, and a taste of the sharp judgment of God speedily makes them flee in dismay. The original has in it the thought of the wicked being set as a butt for God to shoot at, a target for his wrath to aim at. What a dreadful situation!"
Verse 13: All praise the Lord for His strength…
David ends the psalm as he begins it, by praising God for His strength…not only David rejoices, but he says all (we) who experienced His strength will sing praises for His power.
Spurgeon’s remarks on verse 13: "Be thou exalted, Lord, in Thy strength. We will sing and praise Thy power.”
A sweet concluding verse. Our hearts shall join in it. It is always right to praise the Lord when we call to remembrance His goodness to His Son, and the overthrow of His foes. The exaltation of the name of God should be the business of every Christian. For a time the saints may mourn, but the glorious appearance of their divine Helper awakens their joy. Joy should always flow in the channel of praise. All the attributes of God are fitting subjects to be celebrated by the music of our hearts and voices, and when we observe a display of His power, we must extol it. He wrought our deliverance alone, and He alone shall have the praise.
The Psalms truly are a great place to enlarge our view of God. Just from these twin warfare psalms we learn that God
helps and supports
is to be the object of our trust
provides happy strength
blesses with good things
gives splendor and majesty
makes joyful those who are in His presence
provides an anchor with His love
will search out His enemies
will destroy His enemies
is in control
will have the final, victorious outcome
"Be Thou exalted, O LORD, in Thy strength; We will sing and praise Thy power."
Verse 6 begins with the words, "Now I know..." We go from a group to an individual, either the priest or possibly even David. "Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed. He will answer him from His holy mountain. " I don't see this as a sudden realization of the king as in, "Oh wow, God will really save me!" Instead, it is a statement of the king's belief that the Lord will preserve His anointed. The word "saves" can also be translated "delivers" or "gives victory to". The Lord will support and reach down from heaven to provide victory for David. David could also have in mind the words of Nathan the prophet ringing in his ears...God had been with Him everywhere he went and had cut off all of David's enemies...God also declared that eventually He would give David rest from all his enemies. (2 Sam. 7:8-11)
Verses 7 and 8 provide a summary statement of confidence in the Lord. Verse seven is the primary statement, "Some boast in chariots, and some in horses; but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God." The idea here is that the Israelites trust in the name of the Lord in battle; others rely on military might and strength.
The Hebrew structure is beautiful...
"Some in chariots"
"Some in horses"
"We, in the name of the Lord our God,"
Take a look at Deuteronomy 11:2-4...
"And know this day that I am not speaking with your sons who have not known and who have not seen the discipline of the LORD your God-His greatness, His mighty hand, and His outstretched arm, and His signs and works which He did in the midst of Egypt to Pharoah the king of Egypt and to all his land; and what He did to Egypt's army, to its horses and its chariots, when He made the water of the Red Sea to engulf them while they were pursuing you, and the LORD completely destroyed them..."
Can you hear Psalm 20 in this, with the Red Sea consuming Egypt's horses and chariots?
The Lord provided salvation to His people by destroying the horses and chariots of Egypt. Pharoah trusted in military power and strength. Those who trusted in horses and chariots on that day were sorely disappointed.
Deuteronomy 17:16 tells us that Israelite kings were not to amass horses as a display of military might. Ultimately the strength of the king was the strength of God and not that of a horse.
In Psalm 20:8 there are two groups, "they" and "we". "They have bowed down and fallen; but we have risen and stood upright." "They" are the ones who trust in horses and chariots. "We" are the ones who trust in the name of the Lord - a power which cannot be overcome.
The enemy is standing in their arrogance and the people of God are bowed in worship, but ultimately they will stand upright in victory.
Section Three - Verse 9
Here we see concluding prayer by the whole congregation. It is a final plea for God to provide safety and triumph.
"Save, O LORD; may the King answer us in the day we call."
The focus is on the king. Which king is in question? The king is the one answering the call so it is most likely the true King of Israel protecting His people!
(Thanks to Richard Brannon - his research on this Psalm made it very easy for me to teach.)
Final thoughts on Psalm 20...All the psalms are inspired by God therefore we learn the heart of God from reading them. From this psalm we learn that God desires that we depend on Him. He desires that we lift up others before Him. He desires that we give Him the glory and honor for all our victories because He is our strength.
I've taught children for years but I had the opportunity recently to teach four psalms - 18, 19, 20, and 21, to my ladies Bible study. It was a great experience and I look forward to future opportunities. The next several posts will be the highlights of my notes from Psalm 20 and 21. So, here you go Orange, as promised!
David was a warrior king. In Psalm 18, David gives glory to God for delivering him from all his enemies. David attributed his successes to the Lord’s strength. We need to back up a bit with Psalm 20 and 21. What we see in Psalm 20 and 21 are twin warfare events. The king is about to go to war in Psalm 20. The Israelites approached God prior to battle. Psalm 20 is a ceremony before the warfare and Psalm 21 is the celebration afterwards.
Israel was considered a theocracy. Israel was governed by God. David fought what we could call true holy wars. Spurgeon called Psalm 20 the "National Anthem, fitted to be sung at the outbreak of war, when the monarch was girding on his sword for the fight." He suggested that if David had not been plagued with so many wars, we may have never been favored with this psalm. Spurgeon called the people of God "happy people" who were pleading before a beloved sovereign..."God save the King."
From 1 Samuel 13:8-14 we know that offerings were made prior to battle. Saul lost the kingdom for not waiting for Samuel to make the offerings before going to battle with the Philistines. Instead of confessing his sin, Saul tried to justify himself. But we can also see that making an offering to procure the Lord's blessing was an important thing. And part of that approaching God, many scholars think, involved a ceremony like that of Psalm 20.
As can be seen by looking at the pronouns, the first section, verses 1-5, was recited by the people. The second section, verses 6-8, was recited by the priest or perhaps even the king himself. And the third section, verse 9, was recited by everyone, including the king.
The word "may" is used six times. The people in David's kingdom make six requests.
"May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!" v. 1
The congregation is praying that the Lord will remember their king when he is in battle - when he needs it.
"May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high!" v. 1
The idea behind the concept of "set you securely on high" is that of protection. Protection is accomplished by removing one from the sphere of danger. David's people were asking that God would protect David by making him inaccessible.
"May He send you help from the sanctuary and support you from Zion!" v. 2
The request is that when the king goes go out from the temple, the presence of God would go with him.
"May He remember all your meal offerings and find your burnt offerings acceptable!" v. 3
The request is that the offerings made by the king will be sweetly remembered while the king is in battle.
"May He grant you your hearts desire and fulfill all your counsel!"
The request was that the king's battle plans be fulfilled.
After the first five requests comes a short interlude where the people promise praise to God for the action He is sure to take in providing victory in battle and safety for the king. They will praise God by shouting for joy and setting up banners that proclaim the name of God. v. 5
The last request is at the end of verse 5 and is similar to the first request.
"May the LORD fulfill all your petitions."
The prayer is for the LORD to lead the king in battle and provide him victory.
In my next post I'll cover Section Two where we see a shift in grammatical person. We go from the people to the king (or priest) who makes an affirmation of trust.
Certainly you must have had them, company that when they are here, you are nourished, refreshed, and strengthened, and when they go their leaving leaves a bit of a hole in your heart? That's what that tender and precious bond in Christ will produce. What a blessed time my family and I had with Beth and Kristen! Lots of sweet fellowship, lots of great conversation around the Word, and Kristen even let me and Beth win at cards a couple of times! Unfortunately, we didn't solve all the world's problems, but we sure had a great time.
(Kristen, Beth, Me)
The highlight of the week was having Kristen close out our visit by speaking at our ladies Fall Fellowship. She spoke on "Enlarging our View of God." The theme verse was Psalm 34:3, "Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together."
It is easy to identify ourselves with certain individuals we find as we go through a passage in Scripture, but Kristen encouraged us to look for God when we read our Bibles. As you read the Word ask these questions:
What does this reveal to me about God?
What is God's involvement in this passage?
What do these verses tell me about God's desires, His plans, His character?
The larger our view of God that we gain, the more life will make sense. Life is all about lifting Him on high, even when we are in the dark and lowest valleys of life.
We spent the evening enlarging our view of God by working our way through three different passages, one in Genesis, one in the Psalms, and one in a Gospel. We then corporately responded by lifting Him high in song. Oh the sweet sound of 45 women singing acapella "Great is Thy Faithfulness." Beth signed the words while we sang and it was beautiful.
Well, I still have some more special company that I need to get back to. My mom and sister are here until Saturday and my uncle and aunt arrive tomorrow to close out their visit. More sweet fellowship ahead!
I know I promised to blog about Psalm 20 and 21. I did teach the lesson on Thursday to my ladies study. I am having some very special company from Michigan soon. They arrive on the 7th. I am busy, busy, busy getting ready for them! Our schedule is rather full once they are here. I am taking a break from posting for the next couple of weeks but Iwillpost about the "twin warfare" psalms, eventually, Lord-willing.