Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Reading Through the Psalms #5 (57-72)

Psalms volume 1We now continue through  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…

57-60 are the prayers of the overwhelmed who are facing an undefeatable enemy or overpowering situation and just evil run amuck. In 57 the psalmist is facing evil, ravenous enemies. His only recourse is to throw himself on God and God comes through for him. 58 is a prayer against oppression and persecution. The psalmist has nothing left but God and chooses to trust Him. 59 is another prayer for deliverance from an overwhelming enemy. Finally, and worst of all, the psalmist prays about defeat caused by God's rejection of His people. The psalmist asks for God's mercy, repents and trusts God to fulfill His covenant promises. 

The twice spoken plea for mercy is the psalmist’s sole request. It seems that, having made it, there is no necessity to ask for more. He is sure that God is aware of his need. And he knows that it is the nature of God to show mercy in response to the prayers of his people. Now he has voiced his petition and he is content. With simple trust and confidence he will leave the matter in God’s hands. Psalm 57, 397

Living in a time when there seem to be no earthly powers to put a rein on the excesses of evil men, and witnessing the injustice, the violence and death that are suffered by the innocent, he has no other recourse than to God. Psalm 58, 403

Yet however safe one may consider himself to be, there come times when he finds himself in need of strength from outside of himself, of power that only God can give. The apostle Peter warns of a deadly foe who is ever in search of victims... And, as Martin Luther wrote, “His strength and power are great.” And everyone who has succumbed to a temptation to do evil knows this to be true. But, when I am appalled by such devilish power, I can look to God and to the strength to overcome that He provides. Psalm 59, 410

This is no prayer to be excused from the conflicts of life, but that God be ever present to help. With the assurance of his presence one may face the future with confidence, do valiantly, and leave the outcome to him, for he it is that shall tread down our enemies. God has not abandoned the cause of the just. Psalm 60, 416

Psalm 61 begins the last major section of Book 2. These psalms are written by, for, or about David and His relationship with the Great King - YHWH. The first part (61-64) deals with the king's need for God's presence, salvation, hope, refuge and help. in 61 the king asks and is confident that God will bring him back to Jerusalem his place of security. In Psalm 62 the king teaches from experience that God is the only one who is reliable for our full trust. In 63 he sees God as the only who satisfies the deep-down desires of the soul in a way that wealth and power could never do. Finally he praises God for His assured help in times of crisis or attack.

The very fact that there exists a haven of rest should inspire hope in the heart of the despairing. Secondly, the psalmist has reason to believe that God will bring him to that place of security. True, the rock is “higher than I,” but God can bring him hither. Each person who looks to God may believe that “the Lord is not done with me yet,” and will lead me in the way of faith to new heights of peace and confidence. Psalm 61, 419

One’s belief in God makes little difference unless he trusts God. Only when faith is active does God become significant in one’s life. And how much greater that significance when he comes to trust him “at all times.” The reality of God’s presence in one’s daily life—it is this that the psalmist would desire for his people. Psalm 62, 424

Life in fellowship with God, if only for a moment, would be more to be desired than an eternity without him. Yet David contemplates a continuing relationship with God and will go on blessing the Lord, as long as I live. Psalm 63, 429

We come into the presence of God, not as men who know they are bound to be heard, but as men who realize that it is of God’s mercy that we are heard. We have no claim on him to the fulfillment of our desires, but present our petitions humbly before him. Psalm 64, 432

In the next two psalms The Great King in Heaven is praised as Creator of the world and the Creator of the nation of Israel. In 65 God is seen as a gracious creator who provides for the needs of all creation. In 66 the Exodus and entry into the promised land is recounted along with the role of Israel to a witness to the world.

By his grace he provides atonement for their sins, and cleansing and forgiveness. By it the earth was established, fitted wonderfully to the needs of his creatures. Even the perennial cycle of summer and winter, seedtime and harvest, is evidence of his grace. For not only is God the Creator, the giver of life—and of new life. He continues to be the sustainer and provider of the life he has given. Psalm 65, 440

By his mighty hand he brought Israel out of Egypt (Exod 13:3). By his grace he brings those who are willing out of a life of sin to new life. This he did for Israel. The way may sometimes lead through the wilderness, but the time of refreshing is assured. This is our God. Psalm 66, 445

The next four psalms are Davidic (written by, for or to David) and invite the rest of the world to become subjects of the Great King. 67 is kind of a missionary psalm in which the whole world is invited to join God's gracious covenant and receive the wonderful blessings God provides. 68 is an outburst of praise to the "awesome God" with a long list of what He provides to His people. 69 provides assurance that, even though seriously following God can lead to bitter persecution, God will save and ultimately, everything will be set right.

The verse is saying that a world united in the worship of God, a world in harmony with the ways of God, will be a productive world. There is a relationship—close and vital between spiritual good and physical good! Psalm 67.5-7, 450

The psalm is citing salvation history as proof of God’s victorious power and saving love...If even Sinai quakes at God’s presence, who can abide his appearing? No one, except by his grace and mercy. The sudden appearance of God will strike terror in the heart of the wicked; it will bring joy to the righteous. Psalm 68, 453–454

True praise is not the fulfillment of an obligation or the obedience to a command. Indeed, it cannot be. It is a spontaneous overflow of the heart of one who is thrilled to know God for who he is, for what he is, and for what he does. Psalm 69, 466

Book 2 of Psalms ends with prayers that lay out the King's plan. 70 is an urgent prayer for deliverance entirely taken from Psalm 40.13-17. Psalm 71 is the prayer of an elderly righteous man who has seen many of God's powerful works in his life and therefore has hope in his present crisis and in God's future coming Kingdom. 72, perhaps, is David's coronation prayer for Solomon. It describes the righteous rule of God and prays for a king who will live it out.

The closing statement then is an acknowledgment of God as my help and my deliverer with a third and final appeal for haste—do not delay! Thus, has a part of Psalm 40 been utilized in a time of distress as a vehicle for the expressing of one’s urgent need for God’s help. Psalm 70, 469

With his lips he praises God in song (v. 23). With his tongue he talks of God’s righteous acts. His worship of God involves the whole soul (v. 23). Such is all true worship. A feeling of the greatness of God, alone and unexpressed, is not worship. The voicing of praises to God, without the inner confirmation of the spirit, is not worship. Worship is both the feeling and the expression of adoration to God, a subjective feeling given an objective expression. Psalm 71, 474

The forgotten masses and those suffering oppression and violence are no longer ignored. Their cries are heard and answered. He will rescue them from oppression and violence...But every life is of concern to the righteous king, who can look upon the destitute even as near-of-kin. Precious is their blood in his sight. Help for the last, the least, and the lost will be abundantly provided in his kingdom. Psalm 72, 482

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