Monday, 11 August 2014

(224) August 12: Psalm 93-95 & Romans 11:22-36

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 God is portrayed as king.

To ponder:
It is because God rules that he can do what each psalmist calls for. That reign is the theme of Psalm 93, and it is declared as if to reassure those who face the turmoil and uncertainty of life (93v1). Being “robed in majesty” denotes God’s splendour and glory as he stands “armed” to act with strength (93v2). And he is the source of stability in the universe: The world is only established because God’s throne and so rule is. And he is from all eternity, sustaining all things. As we meditate on the world, we therefore see the nature of God’s rule reflected. So the mighty seas speak of how much more mighty he is (93v3-4). Yet he is righteous too: His statues (ie. laws) “stand firm,” perhaps suggesting that they do not change and cannot be rescinded. And “holiness” adorns God’s house (ie. temple) in the sense that its entire activity stresses the supremacy of God’s majesty and purity in requiring so much to be able to even approach him (93v5). The psalm should therefore reassure us as nations fight one-another, tyrants oppress peoples, and our own future is unknown. A mighty and righteous God rules as king. And he is “the LORD” – the personal covenant name for God. So we are reminded that we are his people, and he is therefore for us.
            Psalm 94 calls on God as this universal king and so judge to avenge the wicked for crushing his people, murdering the needy, and boasting that he doesn’t see (94v1-7). To “shine forth” implies this is to display his glory – presumably that of his righteousness and justice. The psalmist goes on to warn the wicked to be wise in realising the one who made the ear and eye does hear and see. Moreover, because he disciplines nations (presumably by causing them to fall when doing evil), they can be sure he will punish; and because he teaches man (presumably through general revelation as all humanity are in mind here) he has knowledge. And so he knows the futile thoughts of men, who feel they can act with impunity (94v8-11).
            In the light of this knowledge and the judgement it elicits, the psalmist can therefore declare how blessed those God disciplines and teaches from his law are, as they are righteous. Discipline here must refer to how God uses hardship to teach the upright wisdom. They are therefore given relief from trouble until the wicked are brought down, as the LORD will not reject them as his “inheritance,” ie. possession (94v12-15). And this is born out by the psalmist’s experience. He asks who will stand for him against evildoers, acknowledging that he would have died if God had not helped him by supporting and consoling him (94v16-19). Perhaps, it was when the psalmist witnessed God begin acting for him, that he stopped worrying about what might happen. Whatever, he is confident that as corrupt rule cannot be allied with God, the LORD, his fortress and rock, will destroy the wicked who have banded together against the righteous (94v20-23). This reminder that God sees, hears and will judge all evil should comfort us when sinned against, enabling us to leave vengeance with the Lord (Rom 13v19). It should also comfort us when we see atrocities committed against others.
            Psalm 95 famously calls God’s people to gather before him with thanksgiving, joy and praise for being their rock of strength and salvation. As in the previous psalms it affirms he is worthy of this, first, because he is the supreme king who owns all creation, and second, because he is Israel’s covenant God, caring for them as sheep in his pasture – their land (95v1-7). We are so used to the fact that the Creator is for us as his people, that we miss how astonishing it is. It is certainly a motivation to constant praise. Yet the psalm keeps us from complacency, warning worshippers not to harden their hearts against God’s word in unbelief, as Israel did in the desert (see Ex 17v1-17, Num 20v1-13). It meant the whole generation were denied entry to God’s rest, remaining in the desert for 40 years. The New Testament applies this to those who harden themselves against God’s word in the gospel (Heb 3-4). We have seen what God has done in Christ and known his ways (95v9-10). How serious then to act like Israel, complaining at what he does for us, or failing to trust him to do what he says.

Praying it home:                                                                                   
Praise God for his power , righteousness and care. Pray that you would never harden your heart against his word.

Thinking further:
None today.

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