Sunday, 17 August 2014

(230) August 18: Psalm 109-111 & Romans 16

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

To discover:­
As you read consider what we learn of Christ.

To ponder:
In Psalm 109 David prays for justice against those who deceitfully accuse him, repaying his friendship with evil (109v1-5). The call for God not to remain “silent” is probably for him to speak in judgement, as David asks God to “appoint” an evil man to do to the same to his enemy – accusing him (109v6-7) so that he is found guilty. The enemy’s prayers would no doubt “condemn” him because of their hypocrisy. In what follows David asks much more that seems harsh to us, but should be read as a poetic way of expressing a desire for justice against someone who has opposed God’s anointed king (109v8-15). God does occasionally judge households for serious sin in the sorts of ways David asks (see 1 Sam 2v30-34). His first request is that another take his enemy’s place of leadership. The apostles saw instruction here for how to follow Judas’ betrayal of Jesus (Acts 1v20), once more seeing David’s experience as a pattern for Christ’s. David then prays that his enemy would die, leaving his children fatherless and his wife a widow. He even asks that those children would be homeless beggars because his enemy’s assets are seized or plundered. He goes on to pray that no-one would show kindness to him or his children, that he would have no descendents beyond the next generation, and that his parents’ memory would be cut off by God in remembering their sin. The reason for such serious punishment is that the man in question never acted kindly and oppressed the needy, even to death. He also loved to curse, which David prays would come back on him – covering him (109v16-20). By contrast, David prays God’s loving deliverance for himself, noting how his heart hurts and how thin he is from fasting (109v21-25). Moreover, he wants his accusers to know it is God who has delivered him, so they will be disgraced at their actions (109v26-29). He ends committing himself to praising God in the assembly of the people because he stands at the right hand of the needy – ie. is ready to act to save them (109v30-31).
            Christ was delivered in his resurrection to the shame of those who opposed and crucified him; and at our resurrection, our opponents will be disgraced. However, on Christ’s model any right prayer for justice against such people should be tempered also with prayer that God would bless them by bringing them to repentance.
            Jesus himself taught from Psalm 110 that he was greater than David and any Davidic descendent, as David spoke of the one in whom God’s promise to him would be fulfilled as his “Lord” (110v1, Matt 22v41-46). In the psalm God grants this king a seat at his right hand, so sharing his authority and power, superior to all men and angels (Heb 1v13). Moreover, God himself promises to make all his enemies his footstool, which is to give him victory and place them under his rule, centred upon Zion (110v1-2). This is a picture of the enthronement of Christ at his ascension (Heb 1v3). 110v3 pictures troops willingly giving him their allegiance, and themselves somehow awesomely dressed in holy majesty – just as, since Christ’s enthronement, Christians fight with him against the devil and all evil, whilst sharing in his glory. But the king David speaks of is a priest too, like Melchizedek, who ruled in Jerusalem, was honoured by Abraham himself, was not of the levitical line, and mysteriously had no birth or death recorded (Gen 14v18-20, Heb 4v14-7v28). This fulfils God’s promise of a Davidic king to rule both his temple and kingdom (1 Chr 17v14), not only bringing people to obey God, but ensuring full atonement from sin so that the kingdom they comprise is never lost as Israel’s was. Here, being at God’s right hand enables Christ to speak in his people’s defence.
            The psalm ends with God and this Messianic king defeating the enemies as promised in verse 1. It is a picture of the day of judgement and wrath in which kings, nations and rulers will be crushed, and Christ will be refreshed and strengthened to complete this work (110v5-7, Rev 19v11-21). The psalm should reassure us of Christ’s sufficiency to fulfil God’s promises and his final victory over all evil.
            Psalm 111 is an acrostic, where each stanza begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet, stressing a single theme. The psalmist commits to extolling (or praising) God in the worshipping assembly for his works and righteousness that are pondered by all who delight in them, and that he has caused to be remembered – now in scripture (111v1-4). Israel’s history is then recounted in reverse: So God’s grace and compassion are seen in providing food for those who fear him, and remembering his covenant promises (presumably to bless such people). His power, and his faithfulness and justice (presumably with respect to his covenant commitments) is seen in his giving Israel their land and his trustworthy precepts (laws) to obey in faithfulness and uprightness. And above all, his awesome holiness is seen in redeeming the people from Egypt and entering into the covenant with them (111v5-9). In each section, the words “for ever” show that God’s faithfulness to this covenant is the dominant theme that is displayed throughout Israel’s history. And in the light of it, wisdom is to fear God and obey his precepts, so benefiting from his covenant commitments (111v10). We are urged then to remember these things too, but noting God’s covenant faithfulness is ultimately displayed by sending Christ to redeem us from sin, write his law on our hearts and watch over our needs. True wisdom is to revere and obey him (Matt 7v24-27).

Praying it home:                                                                                   
Praise God that Christ is sufficient to fulfil all his promises and judge all evil. Pray that you would be wise in always revering and obeying him.

Thinking further:                             
None today.

If you receive this post by email, visit and make a comment.


Post a Comment