Thursday, 17 July 2014

(199) July 18: Psalm 25-27 & Acts 20:17-38

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­
As you read note what David is relying on in God.

To ponder:
Psalm 25 is an acrostic. That means each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This reflects its focus on instruction. David lifts up his soul, suggesting the idea of drawing close to God in heaven. And the reason is to hold to him in trust. David prays he would not be put to “shame” by being defeated by his enemies. This would shame him in the sense of discrediting his reliance on God, but also his rightful rule as God’s king. Yet David is confident that none who hope in God will be shamed, in contrast with the “treacherous” (25v1-3). It seems that this desire not to be shamed is the reason that David prays for God to instruct him (25v4-5) and show him mercy (25v6-7), confident that he will receive these things because he hopes in the LORD as God, and as his Saviour.
            It is because God forgives and so refrains from punishing us for our sin, and because he teaches us how to live righteously, that we will not be put to shame in the judgement, but vindicated as his on the last day. And David recognizes these things stem from God’s goodness and covenant love (25v8-10). They are certain because they flow from his faithful promises to those who love and obey him. And so David can pray for God to forgive him “for the sake of his name” and so reputation as one who keeps his promises. Moreover, he can declare that those who “fear” God will receive instruction, prosperity in the land (as Deut 28-30) and deliverance (25v11-15). Likewise, we can be sure God will open our eyes to his truth, deliver us from all evil and grant us his eternal inheritance.
            Returning to a consideration of his enemies, David finishes praying for God’s grace, hinting that his situation may be God’s punishment for sin (22v16-21, as with Absalom). And on the basis of God’s covenant, he asks for rescue from his troubles, anguish and affliction according to God’s integrity and uprightness – ie. his commitment to his promises. This is the grounds for our plea for forgiveness when we sin too. But for David, God’s deliverance is linked to his redeeming the nation from her troubles as well (25v22, again, as with Absalom usurping the throne). So God’s rescue of Christ from death effects a rescue for his people.
            Psalm 26 continues the theme of not being put to shame, but from the perspective of being vindicated as blameless. The previous psalm, and the call for mercy (26v11) confirms that David doesn’t consider himself totally without fault. His point is that he has consistently trusted God in a general sense, and so can call on God to “examine” his heart (motives) and mind (thoughts) as confirmation. David keeps God’s love and truth constantly in mind, he avoids the wicked, and he spends time at the tabernacle and around the altar (perhaps making sacrifices), washing like a priest and praising God. The picture is of someone whose greatest joy is God’s presence and pleasure. In the light of this David prays his “soul” would not be taken like those of the bloodthirsty. And because he is confident that he stands securely, he declares he will praise God “in the great assembly.” These words (26v9-12) may simply refer to hope of continuing to proclaim God’s deeds to the assembly of Israel. Alternatively, they may look to the heavenly assembly to come. They are certainly fulfilled in Christ, who is vindicated as righteous by his resurrection and ascension into heaven. For us however, the psalm is a prayer for salvation on the basis of a sincere faith and love of God. Such people long for his presence and pleasure, and can be confident they will be declaring his praise forever.
            A similar desire for God is expressed in Psalm 27. It begins with confidence that David need not fear any amount of people because the LORD is his light and salvation. “Light” here may refer to the hope David has in God amidst darkness. He expresses that above all else he desires to be in the tabernacle seeking God (ie. seeking his help, 27v8-9) and gazing on his beauty, which is probably to contemplate his character and will. The reason this is David’s priority, is that he knows God will then keep him safe and give him victory, leading him to offer sacrifices and sing songs with joy (27v5-6). So David asks God not to forsake him, but to help him and teach him how to respond to his enemies in righteousness (27v7-12), perhaps because they were looking for an opportunity to witness against him (27v12). The psalm ends with confidence than in time God will act in his goodness, and it urges Israelites to be prepared to wait also. As we face opposition or other hardship, Psalm 27 can therefore frame our own request for God’s help and wisdom on how to respond, whilst urging us to patience, trusting God’s timing, and knowing his deliverance may only come when he takes us to glory.

Praying it home:
Praise God for our certain hope of dwelling with him forever, and forever marvelling at the beauty of his character and deeds. Pray for God’s wisdom on how to respond in an upright manner to any difficulty you are facing.

Thinking further:
None today.
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