Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Reading Through the Psalms #7 (90-106)

Psalms volume 2We now move into the fourth book of the Psalms (90-106) today accompanied by Psalms, vol. 2, The College Press NIV Commentary, by S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn. These triumphant psalms remind us that, despite what we go through here and now, God reigns now and will take all this seeming chaos and work it together for good for His people. 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 90 opens Book 4 of the Psalms. The theme of this section (90-106) is "God reigns." 90 begins with a reflection on the shortness of life and asks God to work in what we do to make it count for eternity.

Death is only a heartbeat away (as America observed on September 11, 2001, when terrorists suddenly in an instant ended the lives of thousands of people! Or earthquakes, or other natural disasters, or even fatal accidents.). How great is our need for God! Psalm 90, 171

In these psalms the theme of trust and joy in God's reign continues. Psalm 91 is a testimony that God will protect and help the committed believer through the troubles and dangers of life. 92 is a testimony that a lifestyle of acknowledging and praising God for what He is doing all around us all the time is beneficial and brings joy and proper perspective to our daily lives. 93 is a reminder that God rules over all creation and it will someday reflect all the aspects of His character. 94 follows with assurance that God will set things right and preserve His people in this evil world until He does. Finally, 95 calls us to worship and obey our Creator/King who also lives intimately with us as our "Shepherd."

In symbolic language the ultimate victory of the devout soul over all adversity and all enemies is depicted. Nowhere is he promised a life of unbroken ease and tranquility. But everywhere he is promised that he does not face life’s exigencies (i.e., hardships) helpless and alone. He is always in God’s care. This is what this psalm is all about.  Psalm 91, 181

They never speak to God in prayer. They may seldom give him a thought, and the praise of God is never on their lips. To such the psalmist would say: “You don’t know what you are missing! It is good to sing God’s praises! It is good, also, in the sense of being what is appropriate or right. To sing God’s praises is good, and it brings joy to the soul.” Psalm 92, 184

As the physical earth is established firmly on immutable principles of dynamic physics, etc., the world of human relationships has a moral foundation equally immutable, firmly established by God himself. One cannot with impunity break the moral law on which God has predicated the world of human relationships any more than he could defy the law of gravity without bringing about his own destruction. Psalm 93, 193

But the vengeance that belongs to God seeks not to “get even” but to “make things even.” Psalm 94, 196

The “great King” gave to Israel a king to rule and shepherd his people in a very real and tangible way. Just as God’s “hand(s)” (vv. 4–5) formed and fashioned the earth and seas, so now God’s people have been fashioned as the covenant people of his pasture, the flock of “his hand.” But all of these blessings were contingent upon one thing—obedience! Psalm 95, 204–205

The next section calls all people to worship YHWH as King, Creator and only God. 96 celebrates God's rule over all the earth and invites all peoples into His royal courts for worship together. 97 presents God coming to rule, judging the earth, setting things right and calling all nations to joyfully submit to Him. 98 celebrates a great victory by God and focuses our faith toward the great final victory of God's universal kingdom. 99 celebrates God's holy and just rule in the present and that He is accessible to His people. 100 invites all God's people to joyful celebration of His righteous rule, dependable commitment to us and provision of a wonderful good creation.

Psalm 96, in addition to issuing the call to evangelism, sets the mood of heart and mind that should motivate the messenger. The heart is joyful in its own experience of God’s grace and glory, and the mind is alerted by its realization that, since there is one God over all, all should come to know and to share in his glory.  Psalm 96, 209

God’s people welcome God’s judgments because they bring about a new order, moral values, and quality of life. To them it is good news. Psalm 97, 220

Israel’s deliverance should lead all people of the earth to join in the praise of the LORD, for he is king over all and in keeping his covenant with Israel he has shown himself to be both trustworthy and righteous. Not only so, but since he is coming to judge the world in righteousness, all people of good will may take heart. Let all creation join in the great anthem of praise! Psalm 98, 223

A holy God demands holiness (see Lev 19:2) from his people; but more than that, God’s character is such that he is the source of what is just and right, and he accomplishes these with equity toward all. Israel is worshiping a God who is altogether just and righteous and impartial. Psalm 99, 232

Yahweh is “good” (טוֹב, ṭôb). Since Yahweh has created all things “good” (Genesis 1), it is expected that when he “created” Israel, all he wanted for her was “good.” Thus, the confession that God is good is a reflection of all the “good” that God wants for his people. Psalm 100, 240

The next few psalms are responses to the truth that "God reigns." The psalmist in 101 pledges that because God is just and loving he also will live a life of integrity, justice and care for others. 102 pours out a lament to God from a destitute person and nation under judgment. Yet, there is hope because God rules and will keep His covenant with His people. 103 is the praise of a mature soul who has truly experienced, despite troubles, God's grace in forgiveness and the blessings of His presence. 104 celebrates God's good creation and praises the Creator for providing and sustaining it with everything His creatures need.

The song is about the love and the justice of Yahweh. And the truth overwhelms him...For the psalmist, it became the directive, the motivation, for his own role as one responsible to establish justice in the land. “This is the way God is,” he is saying, “therefore, this is what I shall do.” Psalm 101, 244

But it is in God’s eternal nature that the psalmist finds hope for a future, even if his own life is cut short. He prays that his own life will not be shortened in any way; but even if it is, God will be there for “a future generation,” “a people not yet created” (v. 18). Psalm 102, 253

Those who fear Yahweh, keep his covenant, and obey his commandments do so more out of gratitude than a requirement. Without God’s forgiveness and grace Israel would not have existed as a people, much less fear him or have the opportunity to obey. Gratitude for God’s grace is a proper motivation to obey. Psalm 103, 262

The distinctive emphasis of the psalmist is his concern with the purpose of God. He observes that in all of God’s creative activity, he has in view the sustenance and well-being of his creatures, especially of man. There is a firmly established earth, engineered precisely to sustain the life that God would put upon it. Psalm 104, 264

Psalms 105 and 106 close book four of the Psalms. They tell the story of Israel's history and God's grace as he preserves, establishes and disciplines the nation. Psalm 105 gives an account of the exodus and God's preservation of the Patriarchs as he establishes and builds the nation of Israel. 106 recounts the seven sins of Israel in the exodus and their long history of rebellion and idolatry. Israel was justly exiled by God and their only hope was God's forgiving and merciful character. God's people will fail, but His promises will endure forever.

It took God’s grace for Israel to remain a people, much less obtain a land! God’s promise, however, is irrevocable. Such is Israel’s hope for the future. Psalm 105, 273

What Israel saw as a barrier, impending slaughter, and impossible odds, became the means by which God would save Israel and destroy the army of the Egyptians! Psalm 106, 285

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