Friday, 18 July 2014

(200) July 19: Psalm 28-30 & Acts 21:1-14

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

To discover:­
As you read note the attributes of God being affirmed.

To ponder:
In Psalm 28 David affirms God as a “rock” – and so a strong “fortress” of protection and therefore salvation (28v1, 8). He calls on God not to close his ears to him, because it would mean his dying like the wicked hypocrites who speak well whilst harbouring malice (28v1, 3). He asks God to “repay” them for what they have done because it shows no regard for what God has done. This is a reminder that the godly life is to emulate what God does and live reverently before him, in the knowledge of his mighty acts. And we should remember that David’s call for justice stems not from personal grievance, but from the fact that these people have stood against him as God’s anointed king, and so against God and against his purposes.
            David’s cry is for “mercy,” ie. not being treated as he deserves. And his “lifting” of his hands towards God’s “Most Holy Place” shows here David is referring to heaven as the place of God’s presence. Again, he is confident God has heard him, and so will tear down his enemies. He therefore praises God as his strength and shield, affirming that trust in him leads to help. Indeed, he rejoices with thanksgiving and song. The psalm then ends with a declaration that parallels the LORD as strength for “his people” with his salvation of his “anointed,” praying that God would save, bless and shepherd his people as his inheritance (ie. those who belong to him). It reminds us how our fortunes are so tightly bound to Christ’s because he rules and protects us. So it is because God will judge all who stand against Christ, that we can be sure we will forever thrive in his coming kingdom. And just as he trusted his Father for his rescue from death, so we should, responding with joy, thanksgiving and song.
            Psalm 29 reminds us why God is so entirely sufficient as our strength and salvation. The “mighty ones” called to worship him are probably angelic beings, as the worship is to be “in the splendour of his holiness,” ie. in the heavenly temple (29v9) where the majesty of God’s holiness is visible. And here “holiness” refers to God’s set-apartedness or supremacy. So the angels are to ascribe and so credit God for his strength and the glory due him (ie. the excellence of his character). Just as the strength of a king is seen in the authority and impact of his decrees, so the might and kingly (29v10) majesty of his creative word is then detailed in the context of a powerful storm (29v3-9). It thunders over mighty waters, breaks majestic trees with lightening, and brings winds that whip up the dust from the desert and strip forests of their leaves. The point is that the supreme power of the elements that are at God’s command, display his great strength. And so “all” in his heavenly temple cry “glory,” humbly affirming how great and awesome God is, just as we should when faced with his creative acts. And so God is pictured enthroned over “the flood,” and as king forever. It’s probably a way of saying that he governs even the most hostile forces as judge of the whole earth, just as seen in the time of Noah. So even the weather can reassure us that God is more than sufficient to strengthen and bless his people.
            Psalm 30 looks to the earthly temple (see title) and contains similar ideas to Psalm 28. David commits to exalting (ie. raising up in praise and honour) God for rescuing him from death at the hands of his enemies (30v1-3). He then calls the “saints” (lit. sanctified or holy ones) to praise God’s “holy name,” which is to praise him for how set-apart he is in his majesty and purity. In particular, he has in mind God’s kindness which outweighs his momentary anger with a lifetime of favour. This could suggest David’s deliverance came after punishment for sin, but may just be a general reflection on God’s character (see Ex 34v6-7). It reminds us that the weeping we may have today, may turn to joy tomorrow – and certainly when we enter our everlasting tomorrow.
            David goes on to recount God’s deliverance. He had been secure, and under God’s favour his “mountain” (perhaps life, kingdom or the city on Mount Zion) had stood firm. But he then experienced God hiding his face, which expresses the sense of God not looking in favour on David. That brought dismay at what might come at the hands of David’s enemies, just as a change in fortune brings dismay to us. But David responded as we should, calling for mercy, stressing God would not gain in David’s death as he would not then be able to proclaim God’s faithfulness – no doubt to the assembled Israelites as in other psalms. So God turned David’s wailing into dancing and mourning to joy. And David will give God thanks forever.
           As a psalm for the dedication of the temple (as the title), this psalm extols God’s mercy, favour and faithfulness to Israel’s king, and so urges on the people a sincerity to the praise, joy, thanksgiving, and perhaps even “dancing,” that should celebrate God’s character and deeds, and mark the temple’s ministry (1 Chr 25). It could therefore be said in a way that recounts our salvation and moves us to song when we gather as God’s temple.

Praying it home:
Praise God for his majesty, might and favour. Pray that you would praise him with joy and thanksgiving from the heart.

Thinking further:
None today.
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