Friday, March 03, 2017

Reading Through the Psalms #4 (42-56)

(Note: The Psalms have been ministering to me as Joyce and I go through the cancer process. I will keep posting my thoughts on this and some commentary quotes that have been meaningful to me. Today I will meet with the doctor to go over my chemotherapy process which will begin Monday. Like the Israelites coming out of Egypt, it feels like a journey through an uncharted wilderness, but, also like Israel, God is going ahead of us, guiding us. Please pray that we can keep our eyes right on Him through the process.)

Psalms volume 1We now move to the second book of the Psalms (42-72) today 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…

Psalm 42-43 (originally one Psalm) begin the 2nd book of the Psalms with a prayer for restoration of worship as the exilic author remembers temple worship and longs for the full experience of corporate worship in the temple.

The glow of that light in the soul, once experienced, can serve to illumine one’s way when he must walk in the dark shadows of the present. Pity the child who has no such memories of God!Psalm 42-43, 319

44-45 are prayers for the revelation of God's power and kingdom. 44 remembers God's deliverance in the past and questions God as to why He does not deliver them any more in the present. The psalmist is devoted to covenant, but feels like he can talk frankly with God as with a friend. 45 is a celebration psalm for a royal wedding. God's kingdom will continue with righteous leadership in the palace and in the home.

They were now painfully aware that one may suffer even though he trusts in God—suffering in spite of his faith—and that in itself was disconcerting. They were learning, also, that one may suffer because of his faith, and that was devastating. They had yet to learn that faith would make the suffering bearable, (and that is a wonder of wonders!). Consequently, they questioned the ways of God. However, they would not abandon him, as some do under similar circumstances. Psalm 44, 325

But the inexorable march of time assures us that the future lies with the children God may be pleased to give us. How gracious of God to make such provision! The elderly among the people of God find joy when they witness the devotion, the talent, the dedication to the Lord, and the accomplishment of good by the succeeding generation. Psalm 45.16-17, 332

Psalm 46 begins a series of three psalms of praise to God for His saving acts and His blessings on the nation and city of Jerusalem. In 46 the psalmist remembers God's great acts of salvation in the past and remembers that there is no cause for fear if one takes refuge in God. Psalm 47 is a call to all God's people to publicly praise God for His character and for his acts of calling and salvation of Israel. 48 takes a walk around Jerusalem and invites the pilgrim to praise the God who has made it great. Jerusalem is great because YHWH lives there!

Verses 8 and 9 adduce the evidence of God’s governance in the world. This is no God on the periphery of life, or beyond, no distant deity totally removed from the affairs of humankind, but a God active in the world he has created and among the peoples of that world. Psalm 46.8-9, 338

The call has been to praise God for who he is—his great majesty, sovereignty, and power—and because he has delivered Israel and bestowed upon them their heritage. Psalm 47, 342

“Great is the LORD” is the theme, not “Great is Jerusalem.” The city is great because God is great. And when one has come to know and to appreciate the beauty (and the security) of Jerusalem, he is to go and tell the following generation, not that it was great, but that it has a great God (v. 14). Psalm 48, 345

The next three psalms praise God for the judgment, purification and redemption of God's people. Psalm 49 is wisdom psalm that compares the outcomes of trusting in wealth or trusting in God. Only God can bring redemption and salvation beyond death. Psalm 50 is a call to heartfelt worship of God, rather than formalism, or going through the motions. It recognizes that the worshipper must keep covenant with God and others and that is what makes worship acceptable to God. Finally 51 is a confession of sin. Ultimately, we all sin, and redemption comes as a result of throwing ourselves on God's mercy and allowing Him to change us.

Such a one is not to be envied, but pitied, pitied not because of his wealth, not because of what he has, but because of what he has deprived himself of. In placing his full confidence in wealth, he knows nothing of the confidence that one may have in God. Instead of perishable treasure, his could have been a hope that does not fade away nor perish. Psalm 49, 356

It is essential that we worship God—not for his benefit (who can benefit God?)—but that we might recognize our own place in his universe. Life in its fullness of meaning cannot be realized apart from him. Worship, therefore, to him who would truly know life, is not an option. It is essential. Psalm 50, 363

There is the recollection that the God who rises in wrath against sin is also a God of grace and mercy, and this becomes the coordinate theme of the psalm. Here is hope. On one side there is the reality of the sin. But on the other side is God’s mercy. David, like the prodigal son, is ready to arise and go to the Father, declaring, “I am no longer worthy,” trusting himself alone to God’s mercy. Psalms 51, 367

Psalm 52 begins a section on faith and faithlessness. 52 and 53 both expose the folly of faithlessness. 52 says that the faithless, despite his boasting, cleverness and wealth, will be exposed as the loser when God sets things right but righteous will be joyful. 53 repeats psalm 14 and applies it to a new situation. Faithless living is foolish living. 54 is a cry for help that becomes a cry of confidence that God always hears the righteous and will do what is best.

Verses 8 and 9 thus become the crowning statement of the psalm. The man who trusted in his wealth and in his own capacity for evil is destined for ruin. The one who lives the life of trust in God, in the unfailing love of God, will come to know as a reality the goodness of God toward his saints. Psalm 52, 381

Obviously the adaptation of a psalm to meet a subsequent need was not considered taboo...The present writer would suggest that what had previously been fashioned by an inspired writer could subsequently be used and refashioned by another who was equally inspired. This, he believes, is what happened, and accounts for the existence of Psalm 53. Psalm 53, 382

Whatever the enemy may do, whatever assaults he may launch, he cannot sever the communication lines between the devout soul and his God. And so long as that channel is open, the call for reinforcements will be heard and answered. Psalm 54, 384

Psalms 55 and 56 are prayers confronting despair and fear. In 55 a trusted friend has turned against the psalmist placing his life in danger. The psalmist turns this over to God expressing confidence that God will set things right. In 56 the psalmist is moving into an overwhelming situation and is fearful. His solution is to turn to God and trust Him to deal with what he fears.

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you...note that the promise is not that the burden is sure to be removed, nor that God will carry it for us. But he will sustain the one who trusts in him, enabling him to bear it. Understandably, this opening statement of verse 22 has become one of the most cherished found in the Psalms. Psalm 55, 392

He has learned that it is in adversity that one discovers the true meaning of faith. If it is not right for me to trust God “when I am afraid,” what is faith for? The response to fear is not despair but trust—trust in God and in his word (v. 4). Thus the fear is dispelled, and the psalmist can ask: What can mortal man do to me? Note the progression: afraid—trust in God—not afraid any more. Psalm 56, 394–395

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