Friday, February 03, 2017

Reading Through the Psalms #2 (16-29)

(Note: One reason I like the Psalms is that they make it clear that, although a basic faith and trust in God is the only way to live, it is still ok to present doubts, struggles, fears and any other extreme feelings to God. He hears and understands. I pray a prayer of faith and 10 minutes later have to give over fears and doubts to God. That is the way it is. Jesus is a faithful high priest-mediator because He has been through it and he can handle it.)

Psalms volume 1We will continue to read through the Psalms accompanied by Psalms, vol. 1, The College Press NIV Commentary, by S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn. I am posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual, quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

The next section of the Psalms (16-29) is focused on God's salvation. God is the only source of salvation because He is the only one capable of accomplishing it comprehensively. He has power over life and death. (16) The Psalmists know that God cares for the, and they turn to Him first in trouble (17) and give Him thanks for deliverance. (18) His revelation is a means of keeping a person from hurting him or her self. (19) He is the God who provides victory, individually (20) and corporately (21), to those who trust in Him.

He only knows that God is the giver and sustainer of life, and that he has power over death and the grave. Furthermore, he can believe that God, so near to him in life, will be near in death and even beyond death. Where God is, there is life. Psalm 16, 173

It is not too much to suppose that the God who has so provided for the care of the eye will be concerned for the whole man and respond to his call for help. Psalm 17.6-9, 177

The LORD lives! The victories experienced were a demonstration of the fact. Not that David ever questioned the existence of God but he now sings praises because it has become abundantly clear to him that the existence of God is greatly relevant: “Yahweh lives, and it makes a difference in my life.” Psalm 18, 186

As God gave the sun to illumine the earth, he has given the law to enlighten the mind and soul and to illumine man’s path upon the earth. The glory of God revealed in creation is paralleled by the glory revealed in the law. Psalm 19, 190

God has revealed himself to his people by name. He is not the great Unknown. And that name represents what he has been through the ages—the living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yes, and much, much more—the God who kept his covenant with Israel, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, the God of our fathers and mothers. When “we remember the name,” we too have confidence in victory. We have an assurance for the future predicated upon our remembrance of the faithfulness of God in the past—blessed memories. Psalm 20, 196

On the king’s part, trust is emphasized—for the king trusts in the LORD. And on the Lord’s part there is ḥesed—steadfast love, loyalty, mercy. As a result there was joy, victory, blessing. Moreover, there was confidence for the future. So long as the king continues to trust, he shall not be moved. Psalm 21.7, 200

22-24 are three of the best known psalms in this ancient hymn book. Though the righteous sufferer feels that God has abandoned him and his neighbors vilify him, in the end he realizes that God never left him or stopped caring for him and vindicates his righteousness in the end. Psalm 23 celebrates God's gracious care and provision as a shepherd, guide and host. Finally, Psalm 24 extends this care and salvation to the gates of the New Jerusalem.

The psalm expresses both agony and ecstasy, despair and jubilation. The change from the former to the latter comes abruptly at the end of verse 21. Verse 22 introduces words of praise and thanksgiving. The lament, “You do not answer,” has given way to the shout of triumph, for God has heard. The suffering reflected in the opening verses is seen as but the prelude to the glory that would come after. Psalm 22, 203

To follow him does not mean that I shall be spared the vicissitudes of life nor the walk through the valley of the shadow of death. But I shall not walk alone...Whatever the circumstance and however trying, the presence of this divine guide would be adequate to dispel all fear—I will fear no evil. Psalm 23.4, 212

In Israel the unclean were not permitted within the sacred precincts of the temple, and ceremonial washings were required before entrance was granted. But here the context makes it clear that it is not ceremonial cleanness that is in view but purity of heart and of life. Fundamental to such a life is a basic devotion to the Lord, the devotion of one who does not lift up his soul to an idol. Psalm 24.4, 217–218

Psalms 25-29 are prayers that express the psalmist's desire to draw near to God. The psalmist expresses his request for protection, confidence in God's guidance and contemplates his forgiveness in 25. Then in 26 he asks God to vindicate his commitment and assure him that he is on the right path. He knows he can trust God in a present crisis because God has been faithful in the past. (27) He wants the whole community to know what God has done for him (28). Finally, God is trustworthy because He is the One God ruler of the universe. (29) Who else would you trust?

As his thoughts moved from one subject to another, in each he found, in the words of Albert Barnes, “something to be thankful for, or to pray for, or to rejoice over, or to anticipate with pleasure, or to hope for, or to be penitent for, or to contemplate with gratitude and love.” In this, his experience might well be an example to us in our own moments of meditation upon the exigencies of life! Psalm 25, 222

Committed to the Lord, willing to be tested, there yet remains a question such as Job might have asked. “Who can be pure in the sight of God?” Surely no one can lay claim to having earned the favor of the Lord. Some such thought must have prompted the prayer that follows: Redeem me and be merciful to me. For all of his resolve and dedication, he does not lose sight of his need for God’s help and grace. Psalm 26, 230

Here is expressed a faith that could only have arisen out of deep turmoil, from which deliverance has come at the hand of the Lord. These are not the words of a novice. They come from one who has tried, and experienced, the life that is possible only through the presence and help of God. Psalm 27, 232–233

Very definitely, the relation of the individual to God was seen as having a social dimension—there are no hermits in the OT. To be a child of God was to be related in life to the people of God, not to live apart in solitude. Every child of God an individual? Yes, definitely, and precious in God’s sight, but an individual in community. Psalm 28, 238–239

The Lord whose glory is acclaimed in heaven is the eternal King in the midst of his people. He whose power and strength were displayed in the storm imparts strength to his people. And he who calmed the tempest brings to his people the blessing of peace. Psalm 29, 244

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