Saturday, 30 August 2014

(243) August 31: Psalm 144-146 & 1 Corinthians 11:1-15

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

To discover:­
As you read note how God being creator is linked to his keeping his promises.

To ponder:
In Psalm 144, David seems to look further in his cry for deliverance from foreign people who he repeats are deceitful (144v7-8, 11), perhaps because they have broken some kind of pact. He is seeking victory, so he refers to God as the one who trains his hands for war. With military metaphors, he is David’s rock, fortress, stronghold and shield, subduing people under him according to his promise to establish peace for Israel (see 2 Sam 7v10-11). With this in mind, David marvels that God would be concerned for him, a mere man, whose life is so fleeting (144v1-4). Nevertheless, confident of that care, his prayer takes an awesome form, seeking God to part the heavens and come down to David’s aid. He portrays God as then fighting for him with echoes of Sinai – touching mountains so they smoke and sending lighting like arrows. This is not to be understood literally. David is using images from creation to portray God acting in awesome power (144v5-6). He then turns, as so often, to seeing the threat as mighty waters, and his rescue as God reaching down and pulling him out (144v7). Looking to God’s action, he commits to praising him who gives victory to kings. The picture that he then sees as resulting is one of vigour for Israel’s children, fruitfulness for their crops, multiplication for their livestock, and security for their towns (144v12-14). We recognize these as the blessings promised by God in his covenant, if the people prove faithful (144v15, Deut 28v3-8). So David sees his survival as God’s means of ensuring righteousness within Israel. At one level this is because this was the role of Israel’s kings. But the superlative language suggests David may be looking to how his survival will mean sons for him through whom God’s ultimate promise of an everlasting kingdom will be fulfilled. So the psalm speaks of how God exerts his awesome power as creator to ensure the fulfilment of his promises in Christ, who he enabled to be victorious over all evil so that these blessings would be ours in the new creation. Indeed, when plucking Jesus from the mighty waters of death, God literally shook the earth with an earthquake.
            In Psalm 145 David affirms he will forever praise and exalt God because he is worthy of it in his greatness. Each generation will therefore tell the next of his works, celebrating his goodness and righteousness. And David will meditate on and proclaim God’s deeds (145v1-7). By intermingling himself with the generations, David sees his praise as part of this wider worship. It is to tell how worthy of honour (glorious) and magnificent to behold (splendour) God’s kingly acts (majesty) are (145v5).
            This is how we should view God’s works and the character they flow from. And they are recounted. First, David declares the grace and compassion that are the particular mark of God’s actions with Israel (Ex 34v6), widening his scope to speak of how “all” God has made as well all his saints (those who are sanctified, ie. set apart for his service) will extol him, so that “all” men may know of his acts and everlasting kingdom or dominion (145v8-13). This is now being fulfilled as believers today praise him by telling of these things so that the knowledge of all God has done spreads through creation. And it is this universal praise that mark’s heaven and the new creation (Rev 7v9-12). Second, David speaks of God’s faithfulness to his promises to Israel, but also his love to his entire creation. He raises up all who fall in the sense of bringing people through their troubles to better things. And he satisfies the needs of all his creatures by providing them with food. In this sense, even if not consciously in some human beings, they all look to him (145v13-16). The psalm concludes affirming God is to be praised for his righteousness and love in watching over those who fear him and fulfilling their desires by answering their prayers (145v17-21). Yet the wicked he will destroy. The psalm clarifies both why God is to be so praised, and why we would be fools not to ensure he is our God.
            Psalm 146 begins the five praise psalms that conclude the psalter. It sums the key themes. The psalmist calls his soul to forever praise God, and not trust in human rulers as they will die, causing all their plans to come to nothing. Rather he affirms the blessedness of those who trust and hope in God, as he is the creator who is forever faithful, aiding the needy, loving the righteous, and hindering the wicked (146v1-9). We should note the psalm speaks of helping the oppressed, hungry, captive, blind, orphaned and widowed in a section dealing with those who “hope” in him (146v5). So these are things he is especially ready to give believers, not guarantees for all. The reference to giving sight to the blind is not to something that happens by general providence, and so the psalmist may have the final state of a perfect and everlasting kingdom in his mind, contrasting the temporary kingdoms of human rulers. He certainly concludes affirming God as reigning forever and being the God of Zion (146v10). The psalm therefore moves us to place our confidence in God’s power as creator to fulfil his promises by bringing us into the blessedness of the world to come. And by doing the very things God is said to do (in 146v7-8, see Lk 4v18-19), Jesus shows these are found in him.
Praying it home:       
Praise God that as the everlasting creator he has power to bring about the blessings he has promised. Pray to develop in you’re a spirit that praises him with sincere joy for his character and works.

Thinking further:                             
None today.

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