Friday, 29 August 2014

(242) August 30: Psalm 141-143 & 1 Corinthians 10:14-33

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 a desire to be godly is reflected in these psalms.

To ponder:
In Psalm 141 David again cries out for help, asking that his prayer may be like incense and the evening sacrifice – a pleasing act of worship, coming before God in his heavenly temple (141v1-2). Knowing his susceptibility to sin, he asks God to keep wrong speech from exiting the door of his mouth, keep his heart from desiring and so going after evil, and so keep him from tasting the things evildoers crave (141v3-4). In this, he is ready to hear the rebuke of the righteous man, seeing it as “oil” in the sense that it is beautifies his soul as oil did the face (141v5). Yet he continues to pray against evildoers, confident their leaders will be destroyed in judgement and recognise then that David was right in his words – perhaps those that confessed trust in God, or that determined to speak only what was good (as verse 3). In context verse 7 is probably negative, saying only that just as seed is buried so the wicked will see that their destiny is the grave. By contrast, David focuses his eyes in faith on God as his refuge from death, praying that he would therefore keep him from the traps laid for him. The psalm then ends with a picture of the wicked trapped by their own nets – ie. their own scheming, whilst David walks by in safety, looking on (141v8-10). Christ and all in him, will in some sense look on the destruction of the wicked from glory just as Lazarus looked on at the rich man who oppressed him (Lk 16v19-31). But the main contribution of this psalm is the wonderful plea that God would keep us holy, even if it means people rebuking us, o that we would not share in the destiny of the wicked, but rather experience deliverance from evil at the resurrection. Do you regard godly rebuke this highly?
            Like Psalm 57, Psalm 142 refers to David in the cave with Saul after him (see title and 1 Sam 24v1-4). So David pleas to God for mercy, pouring out his troubles with the honesty grace permits us (142v1-2). David’s spirit is faint, so he is experiencing the lack of spiritual vigour that may even mean he struggles to pray. Yet he knows God knows his situation, stating how Saul and his men seek to snare him, and no-one cares or provides a refuge (142v3-4). But he reminds us of the key truth to comfort us when we feel similar loneliness and isolation: God is his refuge, and his portion – like a portion of inheritance, the thing he counts most precious and that therefore gives him joy. And with God for him, David is able to pray for rescue in his desperation, that he would be freed from the prison of the cave in which he is surrounded by Saul’s army (142v5-7). And that’s just what he experienced as God delivered him without a sword being drawn (1 Sa, 24v5-27).
            David concludes declaring how the righteous would gather around him because of God’s goodness in saving him. It’s a statement of faith in God’s promise that he would be king, and that godly people would therefore rally to him as they did in the subsequent history. One cannot but think of Christ’s loneliness when all deserted or stood against him. He too was sustained only by taking refuge in his father. And having been freed from his oppressors in his death and resurrection, the righteous throughout the world now rally to him. 
            Psalm 143 is a similar prayer for mercy and relief, and here more explicitly according to God’s faithfulness and righteous commitment to his covenant promise (143v1). Again, David feels faint, dismayed and even lifeless, without the light of hope (143v3-4). He is in need of quick encouragement before his spirit fails at the prospect of death (143v7-8). So the memorable request that “the morning bring me word of your unfailing love” is for the next day to bring a turn of events in which he hears how God is acting in love for him. Once more David therefore asks God to preserve his life for his “name’s sake” and because David is his servant. In other words, David prays God would act so that, as God, he would be honoured as righteous and loving in that he keeps his covenant commitments to those who serve him (143v11-12).
            All this we have seen before. But a number of things are added which further aid us in our prayers. First, David recognizes that none are righteous. So such a request is always for grace, asking that we ourselves wouldn’t fall under God’s judgement as is only just (143v1-2). This keeps us from presumption. Second, he meditates on God’s works, no doubt in creation and salvation. This builds our confidence in God, so that like David our souls stretch out for his relief like the thirsty man in the desert (143v5-6). Third, David commends seeking guidance as to how to respond in a godly way to our trials (143v8-10). His call for the Spirit’s action in this prefigures the experience of the new covenant in which the Holy Spirit brings to mind wisdom as to how to act from God’s word that dwells within us. The reference to “level ground” means David is requesting that he would be led in a way that he doesn’t stumble into sin. It is just this wisdom that James urges us to pray for when we suffer (Jam 1v2-8, 3v13-18).           

Praying it home:       
Praise God that because he is righteous he will always keep his commitments. Pray that he would teach you to pray as in Psalm 143.

Thinking further:                             
None today.

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


Post a Comment