Friday, 25 July 2014

(207) July 26: Psalm 46-48 & Acts 26

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

To discover:­
As you read note how each psalm affirms the security of our salvation.

To ponder:
Psalms 46-48 picture God as king of Israel, confirming the king of Psalm 45 as both divine and human. Psalm 46 begins declaring how God’s people will not fear even the unravelling of creation because God is ever-present as refuge and help. His presence is like a river gladdening Jerusalem, where God resides at the tabernacle (46v1-4). Contrasting the roaring waters of the chaotic world (46v3), the “river” signifies an Eden-like paradise (see Gen 2v10) of peace in which the water sustains life. As the New Jerusalem, the church can therefore be encouraged that because of God’s presence by his Spirit, nothing in all creation can separate them from God, and when he wraps up the world, he will establish them in just such an Eden-like paradise (Rom 8v37-39, Rev 21-22).
            It is God’s presence that is the key throughout. And it means that whatever the uproar and coming and going of nations, with a kingly word of command, God can “melt” the earth and so halt whatever occurs (consider Christ calming the storm, Mk 4v35-41). So people are called to witness how God disarms nations and ends wars (46v8-9). This may refer to events in Israel’s day behind which it was known God was at work. But it looks forward to judgement, when God will establish an enduring peace. In the light of both, the world is called to “be still” in order to know the LORD Almighty, the fortress of Israel, is God, and he will be exalted (ie. thought and spoken highly of) throughout the world. The stillness then is not some meditative peace, but the ceasing of turmoil in order to acknowledge God’s greatness and his impending judgement. The psalm therefore calls people to repent and give him their allegiance.
            Psalm 47 continues the theme that Israel’s God is king of the whole earth. It calls the nations to rejoice in how he subdued the Canaanite peoples and gave Israel the land as her inheritance (47v1-4). Alluding to 2 Samuel 6v14, 47v5-6 picture the ark being taken into Jerusalem after the defeat of the Canaanites. The idea is that God is establishing his throne in the city with all the joy and celebration the rule of a perfect king should warrant. From Jerusalem, he is then pictured reigning over all nations, with their “nobles” assembling as his people. The description of him as “God of Abraham” shows they share equal status with Abraham’s descendents and that this fulfils God’s promise to Abraham (Gen 12v3). Now God reigns throughout the world from the New Jerusalem of his church, and many who the world esteems give their allegiance to Christ and so join his people and exalt his name. This is a missionary psalm.
            Psalm 48 brings us to worship, affirming how God is worthy of praise in his city (Jerusalem) because of his greatness (48v1). No doubt looking ahead, the city is described as beautiful and “the joy of the whole earth” as the church has begun to be and will be in the new creation. But the focus is on God as its “Great King” and protecting fortress. This protection is proved (48v8) by the description of an event when an attacking alliance of kings fled in terror on seeing Jerusalem, before being destroyed (48v4-7). This may refer to 2 Kings 19v35-37, where the Assyrian army would have included those from many nations. In the light of God granting Jerusalem such security forever, the psalmist declares how God’s love is meditated on in the temple, his praise for his righteous acts fills the earth, and Jerusalem and Judah rejoice (48v9-11). And so the worshipper is told to examine Zion (the fortress at Jerusalem) and tell the next generation. It seems a call to pass on how secure the city is. But 47v14 reminds us this is only because God is forever there as the people’s guide.
            Once more, our security in Christ is the fulfilment. As we look on the church, we too must tell the next generation the basis for its security in the gospel. And we might ponder the gates of the New Jerusalem remaining open in the new creation, as all evil will have been defeated and so there will be no more threat (Rev 22v24-27). Our God will get us there, and he will keep us there.

Thinking further:
None today.

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