Friday, 1 August 2014

(214) August 2: Psalm 68-69 & Romans 3

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 these psalms look to the life to come.

To ponder:
Psalm 68 prays God would scatter his enemies like wind-blown smoke or melted wax, causing the righteous to rejoice. It then calls people to praise God for his readiness to care for the needy and for captives. Riding on the clouds may imply this readiness, like a king riding his chariot to the rescue. (68v1-6). This is exemplified by a recounting of how God led Israel from Sinai to the bountiful land he had prepared for them (68v7-10), and how their victory over the Canaanite kings was proclaimed and enjoyed (68v11-14). Mount Zion (Jerusalem) is then portrayed as the envy of the mighty mountains in Bashan not because it is bigger (it is small), but because it is the place the LORD came to dwell as king in his sanctuary, having conquered with his many thousands of chariots – whether this refers to his angelic army or that of Israel (68v15-18). Paul relates this image of God’s enthronement to Christ being enthroned in heaven (Eph 4v8).
            In the light of these great acts, God is praised as Saviour and sustainer, and David affirms how God will give Israel victory over her enemies (68v19-23). A procession is then pictured of God as king coming into his sanctuary. This may be the occasion of the psalm being sung, as the ark returned from battle (68v24-27). The psalm then calls on God to act in power as he had done previously (ie. as recounted in 68v1-14), and warfaring nations are pictured rebuked, humbled, bringing tribute and submitting to God (68v28-31). Although this was seen in part during the reign of Solomon in particular, it is only fully fulfilled in the reign of the Prince of Peace over a kingdom comprising people of all nations who have come to place their allegiance in him. So the psalm calls all kingdoms to praise God, and proclaim his power, pictured in the sky and thunder (68v32-34). And it ends, affirming how “awesome” God is, dwelling as he does in the sanctuary of the tabernacle, and who gives power and strength to his people (68v35) to do battle (see 68v21-23). It therefore encourages us that if we put on the armour of God, in his strength we are well able to stand against the Devils’ schemes (Eph 6v10-20).
            Psalm 69 is initially less triumphalistic. David is seeking salvation, describing himself as almost drowning in his troubles, and hoarse from calling for God’s help, to no avail (69v1-3). His enemies are many, and it seems God may have allowed them to oppose him in punishment for some sin (69v4-5). But David’s heart is now right. He is concerned the righteous are not disgraced or shamed by the treatment he is receiving because of his love of God. He has been alienated from his own family because of his zeal for the tabernacle – or perhaps his plans for the temple. And he has been the focus of insults directed at God, and mocked when he has formally mourned – perhaps over his sin. Patterning David, Christ was at times ostracised by his family, and certainly opposed because of his commitment to his Father and zeal for the temple (see Jn 2v17). But every Christian who has been mocked for their faith can empathize.
            David prays for God in his mercy and love to quickly save him, knowing the scorn he has faced (69v13-21). His description of being given gall in his food and vinegar to drink metaphorically describes how people are meeting his needs with bitterness. But this description was fulfilled literally in Jesus (Matt 28v33-34). David follows this with a prayer that God would pour out his wrath on his enemies in such a way that impacts the provision they receive, their health and their descendents (69v22-25). He even prays that they would be blotted out of the book of life – ie. the record of those who are acceptable to God (69v32-25). We should note this stems from a concern for justice (69v26-27), and that Christ will execute just such wrath on people. What he adds however, is a desire that God stall his justice so that such people might find mercy. And so he is able to pray “Father forgive them” when drowning under his great trial.
            As is now familiar, David goes on to pray again for salvation, but also display his confidence that he will have it by saying how he will praise God, which will please him more than offerings. And this will make the poor glad in the sense that David’s deliverance will prove that God hears the needy (69v28-33). He therefore ends calling all earth and heaven to praise God because he will save Zion, rebuild Judah and have those who love him inherit it with their children (69v34-36). David therefore looks to the day when God’s kingdom will comprise only those whose names are in the book of life, and they will inhabit a renewed land (Rev 21-22). Indeed, God’s action for David, proves that he will grant just this to all who are righteous.

Thinking further:
None today.

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