sermon: Psalms: Book Two (Part Four)
The Non-David Psalms
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 28-Jun-14; 72 minutes
As we have studied into Book Two I have made a point of reiterating the organization of the Psalms overall each time I have given this, and I want to do it again here to make sure we are all on the same page.
As we know, the Psalms as a whole are divided into five sections, five books, just as the Torah (the five books of the Pentateuch—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) are also five books. Then you have the five festival scrolls, which are a separate section that the Jews recognized. These are certain books of the Bible that they would read at the time of certain holy days, or times of the year. They called this the Megilloth and these are the books of: Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther. These aligned with the last five books of the Psalms, the last five psalms, which are summary psalms of the five books, the Pentateuch, and also five seasons of the year.
Under the Hebrew or biblical holy day system, you can divide the year into five sections. You have a Passover season in the early spring, you have a Pentecost season in the late spring, you have summer, the fall festivals in the fall, and then you have the long season of winter between the Last Great Day and the beginning of Passover season.
So all of these fives (the Psalms, the Pentateuch, the Megilloth, the five seasons, and the five summary psalms) go together. Now the Jews saw, not only that there were groups of five with in the Old Testament, but they also say that when you look at these groups of five and you lined them up, that the themes of these groups of five tended to go together.
So Book One of the Psalms, Genesis, the summary psalm of Book One, which is Psalm 146, the Song of Songs (the festival scroll for that time of year), and the Passover season all seemed to line up, and the same with the others. So they had a way of looking at these particular sets of five in terms of thematic teaching that they could use every year through out this cycle of five seasons of the year.
This is my fourth sermon on Book Two. Book Two consists of thirty-one psalms, Psalm 42-72, and the summary psalm would be Psalm 147. It is thematically linked with the Pentateuch book of Exodus, with the festival scroll of Ruth, and with the season of Pentecost. That is why I gave it during this time of year because we just finished the Pentecost season.
One of the things that I have emphasized in the first three sermons on this is that Book Two emphasizes the divine name Elohim. The term Elohim is used 164 times and whereas Yahweh is only used 30 times. So if you do the math, Elohim is used more than five times more than Yahweh. So it is very heavily weighted toward the meaning of Elohim.
Elohim emphasizes God as Creator. “In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth.” That is what we are hit with first when we open the Bible, this idea of God being a great and powerful God who can take nothing and create something that is wonderful. Out of nothing He created the universe, the heavens, and the earth. He has such unlimited knowledge and unlimited power, He can do anything.
He is a God of strength and power, but also of great intellect, of the ability to design and to make things work. So what we see here throughout Book Two is God creating something wonderful. He is using His omniscience, He is using His great power, and He is using His ability to provide for us in every way, to create something wonderful and what He is creating is children like Himself. He wants offspring, He wants heirs who will inherit the Kingdom of God with His Son Jesus Christ.
So He is using our lives to create the character in us that will bring us to the image of Jesus Christ. But usually, in using our lives in that way, he puts us through trial, He makes us solve problems. He makes us learn to wait, He makes us learn to overcome. He helps us to stretch and to grow so that we can be more like His Son and start having the traits and character attributes of His Son, so that we will be able to live with the Father and the Son throughout eternity without any friction. We will all be very much alike in our mindset and in our character.
This fits very well into the Pentecost offering as we saw in my last sermon on Pentecost. We went through how the wave loaves were made. We saw that the wave loaves were made with fine flour. They actually took a lot of the new grain that they had just harvested, but they wanted just a small amount to make the wave loaves. They went from an ephah, or something bigger, to an omer. They had to use a lot of grain to get this small amount of fine flour because they would knock it off the stalk of grain, beat it, and do whatever it took to get it to the point where they could grind it very fine. It would be put through twelve sieves., until they would get the most pure flour that you could possibly get. Then you put some oil and leaven in there and bake it into a loaf. All of these little symbols are popping out in this idea of how they made this bread that would be then waved before God for acceptance.
So we see the life of a Christian in this. We are taken out of a great harvest of people, you could say, but God takes it down to a few and He does that by winnowing out what He does not want and He comes up with a few. Then those few He puts through the wringer, as it were. He grinds them, sifts them, He gets just the best out of it, and then He puts us through fire, He bakes us. He molds us into this bread that is then acceptable to God when it is waved.
So this whole idea of God creating a finished product through this process of winnowing, grinding, sifting, fire by trial, and that sort of thing all fits in the theme of Book Two. This is a Christian’s preparation for the Kingdom of God.
That is pretty much the summary of what we have gone through, except for the fact that in the third sermon we saw in detail a large group of the psalms that David wrote in Book Two. We found that he wrote most of the psalms in Book Two. And what we really saw when we looked into Psalms and at the narratives back in Samuel and Kings, of the things he was going through as he was writing these psalms, was his emotional state, his spiritual state. He was describing his own feelings as he was going through this and he clearly was going through hard trials that he felt at times he could not bear, but he knew that he had to bear them.
He told God that he was distressed, upset, and all he wanted to do, as it says in Psalm 55, was fly away. He wanted to get out of there because he did not want to face just how terrible the trial was. But then by the time you get through to the end of these psalms that we went through last time, he had calmed down, he worked out that God is there on His throne. He is working and He wants David, in this particular case, to be patient, to trust Him, to wait for Him, but also to continue to pray and praise Him as he goes through this trial because God is working things out. So he just needs to trust Him and wait for God to act and it usually the place that he reaches by the end of these psalms.
God is working things out. He has a plan, He can bring it to fruition, He is, after all, Elohim. He is the great God of strength and power. He is the God of this enormous mind and creativity and design. He can get us through whatever it is that we are facing. So we do not really need to worry. Things out there are horrible and we do not want to face it, but if we just trust God we can get through it.
So that is pretty much the idea of all those psalms of David, Psalm 51-71. We saw that as he successfully went through these trials, that he endured and grew in character. Then by the time he got to Psalm 71 we saw him in his old age saying, “God don't forsake me in my old age. I’ve been through a lot. I know that you’ve something prepared for me and I hope in the resurrection. Do with me what you will, but I’m going to trust in you.”
That is how David leaves Book Two, with that idea in mind. That he is going to praise God for his redemption and hope in the resurrection. But there is a set of psalms that we have not gone to in Book Two and they are the psalms that David did not write. We have gone through two of them. In my first sermon on Book Two, we went through Psalm 42-43 which are psalms of the sons of Korah.
Today we will go through the rest of the psalms of Korah and also the psalm that Asaph wrote and the psalm that Solomon wrote. We are going to go into as much detail as time allows here because even though the theme of Book Two of the Psalms has been this idea of going through trials and trusting God, these particular psalms are a little bit different. They do not stray too far away from the theme, but they come at it from a slightly different perspective.
As we go through them we will begin to see the difference in perspective. The psalms that David wrote are very personal, they are about his own experiences, his own feelings, and his own determinations of how he is going to face the trials. The psalms of the sons of Korah, the one from Asaph, and the one from Solomon tend to have to do with all of Israel, they have to do with everyone.
If we are looking at the symbolism and the parallelism between Israel and the church, then it is about all of us together, the body, the church, how we look at these things as a corporate entity, meaning as a body, not as a corporation. So we tend to look at these trials in an overall sense. How it is affecting us all rather than just on an individual basis.
Once we go through all of this, it will finish up my series of sermons on Book Two of the Psalms. If you can remember back in the first sermon, there is a bit of a controversy about the psalms of the sons of Korah. It is not a bad controversy and it is not really a big thing, it is more of a difference of opinion. The difference of opinion is this: some people believe that the psalms of the sons of Korah were written by descendants of the person Korah, who is mentioned in Numbers 16.
Now we know that Korah rebelled against Moses and against God and that he and most of is family were killed. Well he did have some descendants that lived. His descendants, being Levites, were part of the Temple operations and it seems to be that there was a group that was involved in music. So these sons of Korah had something to do with the Temple liturgies, on the musical end of praising God in the Temple and the tabernacle.
Well the controversy is that perhaps they did not actually write these psalms, but that rather they were written for them to perform. So that would mean, most likely, that David is the author of these psalms and that he wrote them for the sons of Korah to perform at the tabernacle. So they then would follow the same kind of general idea that David did in his personal psalms, but because he was writing this for the sons of Korah to perform in the Temple, that he was actually including all of Israel in the things that were going on with the Israelites as a whole rather than just himself personally.
So that is the controversy. There is no way to know at this point and time, with what we have dug up from the ground and from what we know in history, whether these are actually David's psalms that he wrote for them or whether they actually wrote them themselves. People who have studied the Psalms say that they believe that you can read these psalms and see David's handiwork, but that is a personal way of reading them that we cannot trust necessarily to give us a definitive answer. But just keep that in the back of your mind that David may have written these psalms to the sons of Korah.
Now let us look at Psalm 44. Now notice the first word here.
Psalm 44:1-8 We [not I, but we] have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, the deeds You did in their days, in days of old: You drove out the nations with Your hand, but them You planted [meaning the fathers you planted]; You afflicted the peoples, and cast them out. For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; but it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, because You favored them. You are my King, O God; command victories for Jacob. Through You we will push down our enemies; through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us. In God we boast all day long, and praise Your name forever. Selah
So they had a musical interlude and you are supposed to think of how God has saved us by His own right hand, by His name, how He has fought our battles for us, how He has done so much for us that we do not deserve. But He, by His grace, has stepped in and done all of these wonderful things for us. This is the idea that comes out of this particular psalm. We are supposed to remember God's merciful acts of redemption and deliverance, not only in Israel's history, but also in our past as well.
We can make it a little more personal than just saying that God did this for Israel way back 3000 years ago, if we see how He has worked for us personally as well as a church. We can go back 1000-2000 years and see how God worked in the life of the church and brought it to where it is today.
I want to go on here and read a little bit more because it is very interesting to see the perspective here. So let us read the next 8 verses. Notice the huge change here.
Psalm 44:9-16 But You have cast us off and put us to shame, and You do not go out with our armies. You make us turn back from the enemy, and those who hate us have taken spoil for themselves. You have given us up like sheep intended for food, and have scattered us among the nations. You sell Your people for next to nothing, and are not enriched by selling them. You make us a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and a derision to those all around us. You make us a byword among the nations, a shaking of the head among the peoples. My dishonor is continually before me, and the shame of my face has covered me, because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles, because of the enemy and the avenger.
So the first 8 verses were all about praising God and now you get to this section and find out that things are actually not that great. They are going through some rough times and he is using “us” and “we” throughout this. The whole nation is in trouble, they are being attacked, they are weak, they are suffering defeat, they are dishonored among the nations, as they look at it, and they feel that they have been separated. You could even say they are in exile.
But the reason why they are looking back at the victories of old is because they are yearning for something like that to happen now. They are in a really tough strait and they do not see how they are going to get out of it. All they see is continual defeat, continual dishonor, and wonder how this is going to be turned around. But notice in verses 17-21:
Psalm 44:17-21 All this has come upon us; but we have not forgotten You, nor have we dealt falsely with Your covenant. Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from Your way; but You have severely broken us in the place of jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death. If we had forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a foreign god, would not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.
I want to make sure that we understand what is going on here. They are yearning for the deliverance of old. They keep looking back at the examples of times when God has saved and redeemed them from their enemies, because now they are in very deep trouble. They are losing battles, they are having trouble. But they say, “Why has this come upon us when we’ve done nothing wrong? We’ve been faithful to the covenant, we’ve been keeping the commandments, we’ve been honoring God, we’ve not gone off and worshipped idols. We’ve not done any wickedness.” But verse 22 says:
Psalm 44:22 Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
What do you do here? You are suffering persecution, you are suffering shame, and all the while you have been faithful. You have been doing the best you could with the knowledge that you have. You have not let down your end of the covenant as far as you can see. Obviously we are human and are going to make missteps, but this is a case where we—the church—are under persecution for being Christians, for doing good, for acting like we should.
The church has been in this situation many times through its history. Though they have been obedient and faithful to God, the people of the church have undergone senseless persecution and cry out to God for help saying, “God why don't you save us as you saved Israel back then? What have we done wrong?” They go on in the psalm here and say:
Psalm 44:23-26 Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord? Arise! Do not cast us off forever. [“You’re sleeping and Your children here are dying! God save us!”] Why do You hide Your face, and forget our affliction and our oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our body clings to the ground. [He is saying they are lying in a desert like area and can hardly move anymore as the enemy is overhead with an ax] Arise for our help, and redeem us for Your mercies’ sake. [There is the plea for God's deliverance.]
God is obviously not sleeping, He knows exactly what is going on. He has put us through this trial for a reason, but He has not told us why. We just have to suffer, have faith, and endure. This same sort of thing did not just happen to Israel, but it came to the church, at, what many people considered to be the high point of the church's faith.
Acts 5:12-14 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. [The whole church was united together. Everyone was doing what was good and right. The apostles were working miracles] Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. [They had a really good reputation among the regular Joe's/Jane's of the towns and the cities of Judea] And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,
Now this just sets the scene of the times that we are talking about here.
Acts 5:17-18 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation,[against the church, against Peter doing these things, casting out demons and healing] and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison.
Now le us drop down to verse 40. The Sadducees were told that they should not fight against God and I believe that Judas of Galilee is the one speaking here.
Acts 5:40-42 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. [Now notice the apostles’ reaction here.] So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
So they ignored what they told them to do and went on ahead continuing to do what God—Christ—required of them yet they still suffered persecution. They were imprisoned, questioned, and beaten. That is the kind of thing, in a way, that is being spoken of in Psalm 44.
They did not deserve, by any stretch of the imagination, to be persecuted, but God allowed them to suffer it for His name’s sake. He was not asleep, He knew exactly what was happening to Peter and John and the rest of the apostles, but He allowed it to happen. There was growth that was going to come from this, so He let it happen.
What we see here is not that God gave trial and suffering for them being bad. This was not a punishment at all, but rather they suffered this for doing good. What the Jews did, what the Sadducees did there is just an example of human nature’s reaction to godly living. They felt guilty about what the apostles were doing and they took it out on them.
Human nature like this lashes out at good and tries to get rid of the source of their feelings of guilt, which just happens to be godly people, but God lets it happen. Let us turn to I Peter 3 and see where Peter speaks of this.
I Peter 3:13-17 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
In chapter 4, he speaks of this again.
I Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. [What he is saying here is that He is working things out so that you can be in the Kingdom and you can be there to have joy with Christ.] If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
I Peter 4:19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful [Elohim] Creator.
That is the idea here. Commit yourself to God because God is faithfully creating. He is making something of us through this suffering, so commit yourself to God and to what He is doing, and endure the trial in faith.
I think you get what I am saying here about Psalm 44. This was a trial in which we did not deserve it but the lesson is the same: wait on God, be patient, He is creating something, so we need to endure.
Now we will move on to Psalm 45 which is a different psalm. You would not expect it in this particular section, Book Two, but it fits. It fits because we need encouragement. We need to be able to look into the future and say, “This is why I’m going through this and if I can just hold on, this is what I get in the end.”
Psalm 45 is a glorification or an exaltation of God as our Messiah and King and the twist is that, as we get to about verse 10, he suddenly switches. All the while he has been talking about the King, “You are fairer than the sons of men, grace is poured upon your lips, God has blessed you forever.” He is extolling the Messiah, the King, but then in verse 10 he says:
Psalm 45:10-15 Listen, O daughter, consider and incline your ear; forget your own people also, and your father’s house; so the King will greatly desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, worship Him. And the daughter of Tyre will come with a gift; the rich among the people will seek your favor. The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace; her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors; the virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You. [meaning the King] With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought; they shall enter the King’s palace.
The author here switches from Christ, the King, the Bridegroom, and goes to the bride. He is hitting both areas here. Not only are we looking for the return of Jesus Christ as Messiah and all the glories that will come at that time to Him, but now we have our own future laid out here. If we just endure to the end, then this is what awaits us. We are going to be brought before the King, we are going to marry the King, all of these glories are going to come to us. What could be better than to be the spouse of the Great King?
So right after we have a pretty down psalm about how we are being beaten down and persecuted for no good reason, for actually doing good, this one slipped in here and says, “ This is what you have to look forward to, even though it’s terrible right now, you have this as your goal.” This is what we are working for if we just hold on, this is what will be given to us. We will not only be able to see the King in all His glory, but actually be with the King in His glory and share it with Him. It is great encouragement here.
This is the Old Testament version of the marriage of the Lamb that you see in Revelation 19. It goes along the same thing. “The Lord has come, Hallelujah praise God. God is here.” then it says, “The Bride has made herself ready. Blessed are those who come to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” It also says similar things about her clothing is woven with gold. Gold is an Old Testament symbol of righteousness. Revelation 19 says she will be arrayed in fine linen, which is the righteousness of the saints.
So there is a kind of parallel there between the two, the psalm and the prophesy in Revelation. So she has endured her trials by this point and, with God's help through the Spirit, she has put on true righteousness. If we can have this before us as we are going through the trial, then it makes the trials a little bit easier.
It is not going to solve every problem. Just because you know that good things are down the road does not mean that you are not going to feel bad right now and have to go through some of the problems. But this sort of psalm is put in there and is designed to sustain us through these rough times, through the suffering that we think that we cannot normally bear.
These psalms give us enough of a charge, as it were, to get us through one more day and take us a little bit further. Christ is on His throne, Christ is coming, He has promised that we will be there with Him and we will be His bride, so keep on. That is what it is there for, to give us a little glimpse of what is coming.
Psalm 46 is a wonderful psalm that He is a sure and strong refuge in times of trouble and we do not need to fear.
Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
If the world is crashing down around you, God is still going to protect you. He is your strength, you do not need to fear. If that is what God has decreed, that you be standing in the middle of the mountains going haywire jumping to and fro like lambs, if the waters are coming up around your neck and it seems like there is nothing you can do about it, God is the one who saves. We need to have that mindset that we are going to trust God even though the worst could be happening around us.
He is describing in these first three verses here that even if the world is literally falling apart around us then he says, “We will not fear.” That is a hard thing to do. But that is the kind of trust that God is looking for, that we are so faithful to Him that we are going to hang on. Now this takes a little bit of a turn here in verse 4.
Psalm 46:4-7 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. [right in the nick of time] The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts [the Lord of armies] is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
So we see here that even though the world, in terms of armies or the things that are going on politically, is failing we can still be faithful. We do not need to worry because God is a God of armies. He has an army of His own that can protect us, so we do not need to worry.
But I want you to pick up that this one little section started out with, “there is a river.” The river is an allusion to God's Spirit. And the city of God in verse 4 symbolizes the Bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem, or you can even bring it into today, that it is the church. You can go to Galatians 4:26, where Paul is talking about the covenants and such. He talked about Jerusalem above being the mother of us all. Also in Revelation 21:2 where it says, New Jerusalem is the bride. So these ideas need to be there.
Now this river that is making glad the city of God is God's Spirit infusing the church, infusing the people of God with His strength and with His power. And with that flowing through us, not only does it mean that we are a Christian, but that we have God's power to do, to act, and to be faithful, and to love God and to do all those things that come as a result of His Spirit in us. We can take great comfort in that, that God has us by the hand as it were, that He is working in us.
Even though the whole world is crumbling around us, we have the river of God coming through us and in the church. We need to cling to that no matter what, so that we can be comforted and energized by the Holy Spirit despite all the bad things happening around us and it is so powerful in us that we will not be shaken.
Psalm 46:8-11 Come, behold the works of the Lord, who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. Be still [the psalmist says], and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; [he repeats it] The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Think about that and remember that. He is trying to get across to us that it does not matter how bad things get, if you have got the river of God flowing into you, you are a part of God's church, God is with you, be still and know who is in control. “Know that I am God. I am Elohim, I’m working, I’m creating and I finish what I start.” So we do not need to fear. It is hard to do, but that is the encouragement that the psalms of the sons of Korah give us. A New Testament equivalent to this is in John 10, and we can hold on to this with all of our might.
John 10:27-30 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.I and My Father are one.”
How encouraging is that! He is there, He is watching, He is interested, He is at work, so just hang on. Do not fear, be still. We need to keep this in mind when we are going through these trials. Now we will move on to Psalm 47.
Psalm 47:1-4 Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth. [Do you see what he is trying to say? Who is in control here? God—the Lord Most High is, there is no one higher. He is the one who controls things, all the nations, and He is the one who is supporting us. So we have a reason to clap our hands, to be excited, and to rejoice.] He will subdue the peoples under us [He will do it], and the nations under our feet. He will choose our inheritance for us [ He is doing all of these things. He has got it all under control.], the excellence of Jacob whom He loves. Selah
Think about this, have this in mind.
Psalm 47:5-7 God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with understanding.
Do you really get it? God is sovereign over everything. President Obama thinks he is a great emperor of the United States of America. He is not, he is nothing compared to God. God is King over all the earth. No potentate, no two-bit dictator, nobody has power unless God gives it to them and He can snatch it away in an instant. So why be worried, God is in control.
Psalm 47:8 God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.
He is not lounging back with one leg over the arm of the chair just watching things go on down there in that spinning little ball. When it says that God sits on His throne, He is actively governing. He is aware and at work. That is what the sons of Korah or David (or whoever wrote this) is trying to get across. He is not some King dawdling, old, and not able to do anything. He is there, active and powerful. It is God—Elohim—that is sitting on the throne. It is God—Elohim—that reigns. It is this Being who is full of power, knowledge, creativity, design, and purpose, who is working here, so why be worried?
Psalm 47:9 The princes of the people have gathered together, the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted.
God's people have gathered together under the King, under Elohim, and it is those that He will highly exalt to His throne. That is what we have been promised. So we need to understand here that God is in control of everything. He is sovereign and if we let Him fight our battles for us, we will win. It says in verse 3:
Psalm 47:3 He will subdue the peoples under us, and the nations under our feet.
He will put them under us. I do not know how many times it says in the Bible that God will fight our battles for us and do you know what Israel is shown doing? Dismissing that and fighting their own battles.
I was going to go through Exodus 14:10-15, where they are stuck at the Red sea. There is the Egyptian army coming up behind them, there is the Red Sea in front of them, and mountains holding them in on the sides. They cannot do anything and they are panicking, but God says, “What are you doing? I’m going to fight your battles for you, so get in the water and move forward!” That is what He wants. He will fight the battle, it does not matter how bad the battle seems to be, He will fight it but He just wants us to keep moving forward toward the Kingdom of God.
They had to go through that sea to get to the Promised Land. You have to go through the obstacle to get to the other side, so move forward in faith, continue what God has given you to do, and do not curl up into a ball, and suck your thumb in a corner. That is not what He wants. He wants us to get on our feet and move and keep on moving, endure, abide, and walk while He fights for us and clears our path, because He has our best interest at heart.
Now in Psalm 48. This is another psalm where God is praised.
Psalm 48:1 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, [remember that the city of God is a representation of the church] in His holy mountain.
Then it talks about how beautiful Jerusalem is. It is a really interesting psalm when you go through the whole thing.
Psalm 48:8-9 As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it forever. [Remember we are talking about the church here, God's people, not just a physical city.] Selah. We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness, in the midst of Your temple.
What this is talking about here is the Temple of God, the New Jerusalem, the mother of us all, the bride, etc. He is saying, in verse 8, that as we have heard, by the hearing of our ears, as we have heard of things happening in history, so we have seen, that is we have personally experienced, that God is with us, that God is helping us. So we do not need to worry because God will establish it. We have all kinds of proof that God is with us. This is God's city, this is God's people. We know it intellectually, we know it emotionally, we have seen God's loving kindness and it just fills us with great confidence.
Psalm 48:11-12 Let Mount Zion rejoice [another image of the church], let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of Your judgments. [Because what God has decreed to happen, what He has decided, we can be happy and we can be glad because He is working with us. So he says in verse 12] Walk about Zion [he is saying make a circuit of the city, go around and look very intently, inspect it], and go all around her. Count her towers;
You are looking at people that are in the city of Jerusalem, that are in the church. The psalmist is saying here, if you make an inspection of the church you will find out that everything is standing, even though the troubles have gone back and forth around us or we have had terrible trials, God has given the people of God strength to stand.
Psalm 48:13-14 Mark well her bulwarks [Check her outside. Bulwarks are the parts of the city that defend against attack.]; consider her palaces [Those are the things inside the city. He is saying here to check inside the city and outside; inspect it.]; that you may tell it to the generation following. [Mark it in your memories so that you can tell people who come after you and teach them what you have learned here. ] For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.
Meaning throughout our whole lives He is going to make sure that everything is intact and that His people are ready, from the time He calls them to the time they die. Nothing is going to get broken, nothing is going to get destroyed, because He is Elohim. He is making the city, He is building New Jerusalem and it is going to be exactly the way that He wants it to be. And the people He wants to be in it, the towers, are going to be there, you can be sure of it.
That is what this is telling us here. We do not need to fear, it is going to be as God has decreed. You cannot get around Elohim. No one is strong enough to defeat Him, so it will all work out. These are such encouraging psalms, are they not?
In II Timothy 4 Paul is talking about his faith as he is going through his final trial.
II Timothy 4:14-18 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words. At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
That is the same sentiment that we see in Psalm 48. Now we do not need to go through Psalm 49. Just know that this is another iteration of the theme of the fool's foolishness. That the fool does not do the things of God, he does not know that he is going to be cut off, but we are not foolish, we have the wisdom of God and God will preserve us. So that is essentially what that one is all about.
Let us move on to Psalm 50 now. This is Asaph's only Psalm. It is an expansion of the idea that God is judge of His people and of the wicked.
Psalm 50:1-6 The Mighty One, God the Lord [that is what he starts out with here. Elohim, the Mighty one.], has spoken and called the earth from the rising of the sun to its going down. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous all around Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people: “Gather My saints together to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is Judge. Selah
Think about that. What he is saying here is that we can have great joy and confidence in the fact that God is judge, that He is just. It is a comfort to us knowing that if we do our part, that if we remain faithful, if we keep trying, striving, and keep trying to grow as much as we can, that He will judge us faithful, that He will not miss the good in us and He will give us grace.
But we can also take comfort in the fact that He is the judge of the wicked as well. That is quite a consolation, because even though they may think that they are getting away with such nonsense they are doing, they are not. God will judge them and bring them the justice they deserve. So we can be happy that God is judge, because He is fair and He judges with righteousness and justice.
Now let us turn to I John 2. I want to give you an idea of the sentiment here.
I John 2:28-29 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
So you can be confident in His judgment. Okay, now moving on to Psalm 72. This is Solomon's only psalm in Book Two. He only wrote one other psalm and that is Psalm 127. But Psalm 72 is a very interesting psalm. It is actually a prophesy of God's Kingdom.
Psalm 72:2-4 He will judge Your people with righteousness, and Your poor with justice. The mountains will bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy, and will break in pieces the oppressor.
We can go through all of these things, but what he shows here is that this is what we are working toward. We have gone through Book Two, through all of these previous psalms and we have finally come to the last one in Book Two and what he presents us is an image of the Kingdom of God, or more precisely an image of the Millennium.
What we have here is another psalm in which the King is glorified, and it is not centered necessarily on the time of the Millennium, but on the fact that it is Christ who is reigning. He is the one who is the central theme of this particular psalm. So He will bring righteousness, He will bring justice, He will bring peace, He will bring salvation, He will bring redemption, He will bring prosperity. It is all on Elohim—God—the one who became Jesus Christ, the Creator, who is bringing all of these things to pass and He is where our focus needs to be.
So what is happening here is as God closes Book Two of the Psalms, He is talking about the process of the creation of the first-fruits. He says look to Christ, He is the one who is doing all of this. This is where your focus needs to be through all of these trials, on the King that is coming. He is everything to us, to our salvation, to our eternal life.
In the New Testament this is put very succinctly by the apostle Paul where he says, “Christ is all in all.”
Colossians 2:8-11 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world [those demons out there.], and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
Colossians 3:11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Paul had the same thought as is found in Psalm 72. Keep your focus on Christ. If we do that and the fullness of the Godhead is in him, that is where we want to be drawing our power and our faith. That is where we want our minds directed, our lives directed toward, to Him, throughout these trials that come upon us. Now back in Psalm 72 Solomon writes:
Psalm 72:12-14 For He will deliver the needy when he cries, the poor also, and him who has no helper. He will spare the poor and needy, and will save the souls of the needy. He will redeem their life from oppression and violence; and precious shall be their blood in His sight.
Even though you are going through the worst trial, even though you have everything against you, He thinks you are precious and He is going to save you. He is going to deliver you from all that oppression and violence that comes upon you.
Psalm 72:17-20 His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; all nations shall call Him blessed. [Because He is the one with power who will do all these things for us. God is faithful and He will give the Kingdom to us if we endure these trials to the end.] Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things! [That is all He does. One thing after another is full of wonder.] And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen. The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.