Wednesday, 30 July 2014

(212) July 31: Psalm 62-64 & Romans 1

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

To discover:­
As you read consider how David’s longing for God is expressed.

To ponder:
Having so often prayed for deliverance, Psalm 62 expresses the difference trust in God makes. David declares that his soul finds “rest” in God because he is his rock and fortress (both denoting stability and safety). This “rest” must therefore be the peace of heart that comes from the knowledge that God protects him (62v5-6). So David tells of how he is like a wall or fence about to fall, and asks how long his two-faced enemies will assault him, intending to topple him from his “lofty place” – perhaps his throne (62v3-4). He then speaks to his soul, telling it to find rest in God who gives hope and salvation, and on whom David’s honour depends, presumably because his continuance as God’s king depends on this (62v5-7). There is pastoral wisdom here on preaching to ourselves the truths of who God is and all he has promised, so that when we face trial we would trust and find rest in him.
            So it is that David calls God’s people to trust and pour their hearts out to him, implying that they should voice the concerns of their hearts unreservedly. As if to counter the alternative, David then declares how transient the low and highborn are, and warns against trusting in extortion to save, taking pride in stolen goods, perhaps in assuming they are enough to give security; or settings one’s heart on riches (62v9-10). Instead, he uses the rhetorical language of 62v11-12 to affirm God’s strength and love, and the fact that he will reward all according to their deeds (see Rom 2v6). His point, possibly made to Israelite nobles or future kings (62v4, 9), is that they should not use their power to seek after unjust gain, but trust in God alone for their security - as Jesus did supremely. It’s a call for us all to prioritise seeking and obeying the Lord, knowing that our obedience doesn’t merit our salvation, but salvation will nevertheless be give only to those of a true and therefore obedient faith. Indeed, it is what makes that obedience worthwhile.
            Psalm 63 provides David’s reflections whilst in “the desert” (see title). So in that “dry and weary land” he expresses his longing for God like “thirst.” Here, the psalm is intimate, showing that David “seeks” and “longs” for God because he is specifically his God (63v1). And what David is seeking is the satisfaction of recalling God’s nature and singing his praise (63v2-5). These are like food and water to him, refreshing and strengthening him in his weariness. And so he remembers how he beheld God’s power and glory in the sanctuary of the tabernacle, and commits to praising him because of his love as long as he lives. David may have actually beheld a manifestation of God’s glory as occasionally occurred at the tabernacle and temple (Ex 40v34-361 Kgs 8v11). However, his language may just describe how he would grasp something of God’s nature when reflecting there. Whatever the case, we’re reminded that the medicine for spiritual dryness and hunger is to meditate on God’s nature as revealed in scripture and respond by praising him for it. This really is critical if we are not to despair or buckle in facing the enemies of sin, death and the devil. David is so caught up with his God that he even thinks on him through the night, singing in the knowledge that God is at that very time caring for him like the bird sheltering her chick (63v6-8). It is this sense of need that causes David to “cling” to God by constantly reminding himself in these ways that God is for him. He is therefore confident his enemies will die and so have their lying silenced, whilst he and all who “swear by God’s name” will praise him with joy (63v9-11). These oaths may have been of allegiance to God or to David as king.
            Psalm 64 is again a prayer for help, specifically for protection from those conspiring against David (64v1, “complaint” here means simply “troubles”). Their words are described as weapons, and they are said to encourage one-another and boast in their evil, declaring how they will not be found out (64v3-6). But David describes how God will shoot them with the very same weapons, by turning their tongues on them, causing their plans to eventually bring them ruin and mocking from others (64v7-8). As in previous psalms, because this deliverance is of David as king, it will be known. And so he can declare “all mankind will fear” God and proclaim and ponder what he has done. This is probably a reference to the nearby nations who look on, or perhaps the future when David expects his descendents to reign over the earth in fulfilment of God’s promises to Abraham. His call to the “righteous” to take refuge in God and praise him (64v10) is therefore a call to those from the world, to learn from what God has done for David. So this is another mission psalm, ultimately fulfilled in Christ’s resurrection and the judgement of his opponents. Having seen something of these things, we rightly fear God and take refuge in him.

Thinking further:
None today.

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