August 19, 2015.
Daily Reading: Psalm 87-89.
Background: Psalm 84-86.
Concepts and Connections.
The city of God: A song of the sons of Korah, this psalm highlights the holy city of God (Jerusalem, whether physical or spiritual), often referred to as Zion, of which glorious are spoken of her. The first three verse of this psalm refer to a physical location of Jerusalem, the city founded by God and inhabited by His people, the children of Israel (called Jacob here). However, verse four seems to transition into a new line of thought, naming Gentiles among those who are known by God, and a look to the future Jerusalem, not of a physical location, but a spiritual Jerusalem from above (see Galatians 4:25-26). Great and wondrous things will be said of Zion, the city of God.
A psalm of distress: This psalm, a maskil of Heman the Ezrahite (see I Kings 4:31), is a cry of distress and despair to the Lord. We can see that the psalmist has reached a low, and even seems to be angry with God. All he can see is his path to the grave, and it seems like the Lord is nowhere to be found, or rather, inflicting the troubles and turmoil that was upon him in his present condition. He cries out “Why, O Lord!” Why was the Lord treating him this way? Why had He cast him off? These are questions that we struggle with from time to time as well. It is important to note that these questions are not unreasonable to feel in these times of despair, nor is it sinful to feel lost and cast off, as Job did throughout many of his speeches (see Job 7 and 13 as examples). But we must remember who we are talking to, and continue to cry out to Him, as the psalmist here makes it clear. He has not forsaken the Lord, but rather is calling out to Him, asking Him “Why?” Our Father is all knowing, and He knows our feelings and questions regardless of whether or not was explicitly ask Him; thus, why should we attempt to hide our feelings from Him? Let us ever look to Him for answers and guidance, even when times are tough, and be prepared for His answer (see Job 38-42).
1. The Chosen One of David: The first portion of this psalm (v. 1-37) written by Ethan the Ezrahite (see I Kings 4:31) is very Messianic in nature. The steadfast love of the Lord is praised throughout, and His covenant with David, that he would have an offspring on the throne forever (see II Samuel 7:8-16), is spoken of as background to the coming Christ. This promise would have its ultimate fulfillment though Jesus (see Luke 1:32-33, John 12:34 and Hebrews 7:11-28). After introducing the concept of the Christ, the psalmist goes on to glorify God, praising Him for His great works and mighty deeds, and then sets up the Lord’s covenant with David once again to talk about the Messiah. Notice what is said about the Christ here: He would not be outwitted (see Mark 12:34), He would call God His Father (see Matthew 11:27), He would be the firstborn (see Colossians 1:15), the highest of kings (see Revelation 19:16), and His offspring would endure forever (see Daniel 2:44, Matthew 16:18, and Hebrews 12:18-29).
2. “How long, O Lord?”: The latter portion of this chapter (v. 38-52) switches tones from the first portion, moving from the glory that will come through the Christ to the struggles that the psalmist is having currently. He feels rejected and cast off, renounced from the covenant. Perhaps the psalmist is not speaking of an individual problem, but rather a problem that is facing the people of God as a whole, as their enemies move in and oppress. The first portion of the psalm was reminiscent of the covenant made with David, but this portion asks where the steadfast love of the Lord has gone. How long would His face be hidden and His wrath burn hot upon him/them? The psalmist sees the grave and knows he will not escape it, for his time on earth is short. Why then has the Lord hidden His face? He cries out to the Lord as he is mocked by his enemies. It is important to note, however, that in the end, the name of the Lord is still praised, despite the desperate situation that has befallen the psalmist/the nation of Israel here. May we ever praise His name, despite our situation, for He is ever in control.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Proverbs 16.
The Lord bless you and keep you.