February 11, 2015.
Daily Reading: Psalm 15-17.
Background: Psalm 12-14.
Concepts and Connections.
The life of the righteous person: The question that is asked at the beginning of this psalm is an important one, as it sets up the meaning of the entire psalm. Who shall sojourn in the Lord’s tent, and who shall dwell on His holy hill? The subject of the psalm is to paint a picture of what a righteous person looks like, and that is precisely what David will do as the psalm unfolds. Notice what is assumed of the righteous: blamelessness, doing what’s right, speaking the truth, not slanderous, not taking a bribe, ect. David doesn’t leave room to see both evil and good in the same person. This correlates well with the words of Christ when He talks about how a tree is known by its fruit (see Matthew 12:33-37). A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and neither can a bad tree bear good fruit. It is important that we do not miss the message of this psalm. Though it is not saying that we will indeed live a life without sinning (for David himself sinned), what it is saying is that a righteous person will not be known to continue in sin. If one professes righteousness, yet refuses to fight against sin in his or her own life, then he or she will be known by his or her fruit, and that fruit will not be good fruit. Whatsoever things are true, honorable, pure and just, let us think on these things (ref. Philippians 4:8) rather than allowing our minds to be filled with the thoughts of the world, leading us to bear bad fruit. We know the standard of the life of the righteous person. Let us live by it.
1. The Lord is refuge: Many of the psalms of David have this theme of the Lord being his refuge, for many times in his life, specifically his earlier life, it seems like David was on the run or surrounded by his enemies. But in his psalms, we always see him turn to the Lord to be his refuge and shield. He sets the Lord always before him and knows that he cannot be shaken with the Lord at his side. David puts his faith in the Lord that He will never abandon him. When we are in times of trouble or times that we are not sure if we can go on, we can look back to these psalms of comfort and of refuge and see that we are not alone. Not only have other people felt the same way as we do, but they have also found wisdom in knowing that we are truly not alone, for the Lord goes before us to be our shield and guide. Let us lean on Him, for He alone can save. The Lord is refuge.
2. Messianic prophecy: “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” This is yet another place in scripture that is Messianic in nature, but we might have read over it if it were not pointed out to us. During the first recorded sermon after Jesus was resurrected form the dead, Peter is making a case for Jesus as the Messiah for the Jewish people at Pentecost, and he cites this verse, “For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.” telling of how this psalm foretold Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. In Acts 13, Paul and Barnuabus enter a Synagog in Antioch on the Sabbath day and sat down with the Jews there who were reading out of the Scriptures. When came time for the end, the leaders asked if anyone had words encouragement for the brethren, and Paul stood up and started preaching the good news about Jesus Christ, the Messiah, using Messianic prophecy in the Hebrew scriptures to show that Christ was the Messiah, also quoting from this psalm to proclaim Jesus as the Christ, risen from the dead. It is amazing how God revealed the Christ through the scriptures long before the events took place. It is even more amazing in light of the fact that Jewish Rabbi’s knew which passages were Messianic in nature long before Christ was born. Let us ever praise the Father for His glory, and proclaim the good news to our fellow man.
1. Setting your purpose on righteousness: David begins this prayer with a plea to the Lord for vindication (which we will discuss more in the next point), citing that his heart had been tried true and a test for evil in himself had come up with nothing. Then David gives one of the keys to his success (besides prayer and trust in the Lord): “I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.” When David saw righteousness and where he needed to be, he did not simply mentally assent to that standard, but rather he purposed in his heart that he would do this or that, specially here having purposed in his mouth that he would not transgress. David made a firm commitment to the Lord, taking a proactive step of doing what was right as opposed to a reactive step of avoiding what was wrong. There is some psychology that goes into the difference between statements such as “I can’t” versus “I don’t.” When it comes to sin, if we are saying “well, I can’t do that,” then we are being reactionary and giving the power to the sin as something we are trying to avoid. However, if we say “I don’t do that,” then we are taking control of the situation and have a much better chance of fighting against sin. This is what David had done. He purposed in his heart what he was going to do, making a firm, proactive commitment. Notice what he says at the end: “I shall be satisfied with your likeness.” He had already decided that he was going to be satisfied in the Lord, for He is the only source of ultimate satisfaction. We would be wise to follow in David’s example here.
2. Judgement in the eyes of the righteous: When we think about judgment, fire and brimstone often come to our mind. We think of it in a negative way, often attached to enteral condemnation. Though judgment on the unrighteous was indeed often used with this connotation, it is important to note that throughout the Old Testament, those who were righteous continually called out for judgment, as David does in this psalm. Why? Judgement to a righteous person was not negative in any way, but rather vindication and salvation. The oppressed cried out for judgment, the righteous sought vindication. The judgment of the Lord is always true, but it is not always negative. We are all going to appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive what is due to us for the deeds done in the body (see II Corinthians 5:6-10). Thanks be to God that we are washed with the blood of Christ so as to stand blameless before Him on that day, if we continue to walk in the light (see I John 1:5-10).
Tomorrow’s Reading: Job 11.
Purpose in your heart to follow Christ.