I Love Your Son!

Today’s reading is Psalm 26.

I certainly recognize Psalm 26 is not foretelling Jesus in the sense we most commonly think of. However, Jesus is all over Psalm 26. First, we once again find ourselves saying that this psalm can’t really, truly be about David. I mean, for all the senses in which we want to take David’s claim about walking in integrity, we know this doesn’t truly describe David (I Kings 9:4 notwithstanding). While David didn’t go into apostasy, he did fall from his integrity on multiple occasions. But there is One that in every sense of the word walked in integrity: the Son of David, Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Christ. When I recognize this, suddenly this psalm opens up whole new vistas. First, that whole bit about not being swept away with sinners and bloodthirsty men becomes really appropriate when Jesus is on the cross between sinners and bloodthirsty men. Of course, what is amazing is not only does Jesus not get swept away with them, He is even able to bring one of those men to repentance and carry Him to paradise. The whole psalm starts with a request for vindication/judgment. But the psalmist isn’t interested in the vindication or judgement of the people around him. He just want’s the Lord’s vindication and judgment. Didn’t Jesus receive that on Sunday morning? He was judged by men as a criminal and hung on a cross. He was vindicated by God as King and Savior, being raised from the dead. Then there is the fact that Jesus doesn’t sit with men of falsehood or the wicked, He doesn’t consort with hypocrites, and He hates the assembly of the evildoers. If I want to hang out with Jesus, I must not be one of these. Finally, when I think about this psalm applying to me, I understand God’s steadfast love and faithfulness were most demonstrated by the Jesus who most fulfills this psalm. The only way this psalm can apply to me is because Jesus lived it completely and fully. The only reason I can dwell in God’s holy house is because Jesus opened the way with His perfect sacrifice. Praise the Lord. I love God’s Son! Don’t you?!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 27.

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Let Him In!

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

Those final verses of Psalm 24 are a conversation between the gates of the temple and the triumphal procession of Yahweh. The temple was charged to open wide its gates and its doors to allow the King of glory entrance. But this should give us pause for a moment. Where is that temple? Can this song be sung today? That temple has been shaken out of the way so what cannot be shaken could remain. The kingdom that cannot be shaken remains. And so does the temple that cannot be shaken. What temple is that? That, my brothers and sisters, is us. We are that temple. According to Ephesians 2:19-22, we the believers in Jesus Christ, whether from among the Jews or from among the Gentiles, are the temple of the Lord. We learned yesterday of Israel’s great failure. We must not also fail. We are to be the dwelling place of the King of glory. He should dwell in our hearts. He should dwell in our churches. He should dwell in His church. We must lift up our heads, open our hearts and our minds to give Him entrance. We must open our lives to give Him free reign. He is the King of glory. He is mighty in battle. And when we give Him entrance, He will fight on our behalf and we will be victorious. God be praised! Our King is great! Let Him in !

Next week’s reading is Psalm 25.

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Israel’s Great Failure

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

Some believe this psalm was written when David had the Ark brought to Jerusalem. Others believe it was when Solomon brought the Ark into the temple. Still others believe it was written much later and simply a memorial of these trips. Honestly, I don’t have a dog in this fight at all. The bigger point that we should see is not about the Ark of the Covenant at all. The bigger point is about the King of glory! And who is the King of glory? Jesus, of course! Certainly, when He was first brought to the temple there were a couple of people who tried to point out the reception He should receive (think Anna and Simeon). And the second time He came to the temple, teachers were astonished. However, when Jesus grew up, He should have been hoisted on the shoulders of the people, brought into the temple this song being sung. When He cleansed the temple of the money changers, He should have been lauded and applauded. He should have been asked, “What else shall we do to serve You, King of Glory?” He should have been praised and worshiped universally. The people should have realized He was actually too big to be housed in that temple. But, instead, the Jews believed they were defending the temple by keeping Jesus out of it. Instead of marching Him up Zion’s hill and letting Him take His rightful place on the throne of God in the Holy of Holies, they marched Him up Golgotha’s hill outside the gate and nailed Him to a cross. He was and is the King of glory, the Lord of hosts, strong and mighty, mighty in battle. And Israel failed. Their hands were defiled with the blood of Jesus. Their hearts were divided against their true King. They did lift up their souls to what was false. They did swear deceitfully. And they did not receive their blessing. But as many as did receive Him and believed in His name were given the right to become children of God and subjects of the one, true King of Glory, Jesus Christ. Which choice have you made?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 24.

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The Destiny of the Saint

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

We’ve been on a journey this week as we walked with the sheep from the pasture to the palace, and then again with David as he traveled that same path, and then with Israel as they did the same. With this week’s discoveries in mind, what is the message for us today? Of course, we must first remember who our Shepherd is. In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.” It’s not that Yahweh was Israel’s Shepherd, while Jesus is ours. Rather, Jesus is Yahweh who is the Good Shepherd. You see, our Shepherd is more than that. He is also the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He went through the crucifixion to prepare a place for us. He defeated death to prepare a path for us. Today, we are wandering through the wilderness of this life. We wander in the pastures as Jesus lets us lie down there and then leads us by still waters. He restores our soul when we are harassed, distressed, downcast. When our way is dark as death, so dark we can’t even see Him, He is still there. With His rod and staff He guides us through paths of righteousness. And, yes, sometimes the path of righteousness goes right through the valley of the shadow and darkness of death. However, He is leading us somewhere. He is leading us to the palace. He is leading us to the marriage feast of the Lamb (see Revelation 19:9). Yahweh took Israel from the pasture to the palace. Yahweh took David from the pasture to the palace. Yahweh is taking us from the pasture to the palace. Hang on to the Shepherd, He will become our eternal host. And we will dwell in His house forever. Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 24.

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The History of Israel

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

When we compare Psalm 23 to 2 Samuel 7, we see David’s autobiography, being taken from the pasture to the palace. But we see more. David’s life mirrored the history of Israel. Therefore, so does Psalm 23. Though I admit it isn’t spelled out quite as plainly, in 2 Samuel 7, God reminds David of the years Israel spent wandering in the wilderness in tents. He does specifically call the judges He used during those days as shepherds of His people in 2 Samuel 7:7. In 2 Samuel 7:10, He explains His plans to plant Israel so they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. He will give them rest from their enemies. In other words, though not quite as literally as David, God took Israel from the pasture to the palace. There are other connections. For instance, in Deuteronomy 2:7, Moses reminded Israel that as God led them through the wilderness, they lacked nothing. In Psalm 78:19, Asaph refers to God’s work in the wilderness as spreading a table before Israel and then explained that when the rock gushed water it overflowed streams. And God was considered the Shepherd of Israel since Genesis 48:15. In other words, the story of Psalm 23 is not just an idyllic picture of comfort. But it is also more than the autobiography of David, it is the history of Israel. A pattern is emerging. This is how God deals with His people. He leads them from the pasture to the palace. Praise the Lord!

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The Lord is My Host

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

The Lord is my host. That imagery is not nearly as beloved today as yesterday’s shepherding imagery. However, that is exactly what our psalm moves to in vss. 5-6. I recognize and appreciate the view that the picture of shepherding persists throughout the whole psalm. And, in fact, it might. I could be wrong about this. However, as much as we can stretch the figures of vs. 5 to still apply to a shepherd with his sheep (preparing tableland pastures, anointing the head of the sheep with medicinal ointments, the cup of ointment being in abundance), these metaphors are most simply and most literally applied to the role of a host at a feast. When the Lord is our host, a sumptuous table is spread before us. Not only that, but the disturbing odors of the day in the hot sun are removed by the fragrant anointing oil that softens the skin and soothes the weariness. And the cup overflows. Like the Lord’s sheep led by the abundance of quiet waters, the Lord’s guest never waits for a refill and doesn’t have to worry that the supply of refreshment will be depleted. But as with the sheep and his Shepherd, being the guest of the Lord is not all sunshine and daisies. We feast under the threatening eyes of the enemies. We are in a scene of plenty, but there is danger. For the sheep, the rod and staff comforts. For the guest, it is goodness and mercy. And, we must recognize that goodness and mercy do not passively follow along. They pursue. They chase us down. In almost an inversion on the whole enemy picture, though enemies are present, they aren’t our pursuers. The Lord’s goodness and mercy are. So, why would I be a guest in anyone else’s house? Why would I feast with any other master? I will dwell in Yahweh’s house. After all, in His house, I lack nothing. Hallelujah!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 23.

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The Lord is My Shepherd

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

It has become, perhaps, the most beloved word picture in all of Scripture. Yahweh is my Shepherd. Because He is my Shepherd, I will not want. That is, I lack nothing. Not that I get everything I ever wanted, but I discover all the Lord provides is all I need. He provides me with comfort, contentment, peace, sustenance. He provides the safety that allows me to lie down, though I’m naturally skittish and characteristically frightful. Though I would typically drink down any muddy, parasite-infested gulp of water I can find, He leads me to quiet, still, refreshing waters. He gives guidance down good paths because it glorifies His name to do so. This is not to say that it is all sunshine and daisies or rainbows and buttercups with my Shepherd. Sometimes I wander, become downcast, get myself caught in the brambles and bushes, get bogged down in the headbutting order with my fellow sheep. It isn’t pretty. But, my Shepherd gently refreshes, renews, and restores me. Other times, He walks through the valley of the shadow of death. Death’s shadow is really, really dark and gloomy. Predators lurk everywhere. It is scary. I don’t always understand why He has led me that way. But I have learned He is still with me in the dark. His rod and staff protect me and discipline me, but it is always for my good. The Lord is my Shepherd. I’m a blessed sheep. Hallelujah!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 23.

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The Crucified Savior

Today’s reading is Psalm 22.

We find ourselves in the exact same position with Psalm 22 as with so many others. David is making extraordinary claims for himself and for his own life. Yet, as we apply them to David’s life, we have to see them as figurative, poetic, hyperbole. There was never a point in David’s life in which everyone mocked him or wagged their heads at him. There was never a point in David’s life in which he was so personally close to death he was dehydrated, emaciated, dealing with heart failure. At least, not one we can find in the record. At the same time, there was no victory David experienced that caused the ends of the earth to worship the Lord. And yet there is One about whom this psalm can be taken much more literally. I don’t say completely literally because the bulls, lions, and dogs are all still figures of speech even in the life of Jesus. And in case we might miss it, the New Testament authors make sure we see it. Psalm 22 is one of the most quoted psalms (if not the most quoted) in the New Testament in reference to Jesus. Jesus Himself quotes it on the cross in Matthew 27:46. But let’s understand how truly profound Psalm 22 is as a prophecy of Jesus. It is not merely the record of one saying, “Some day, in the future, there will be a guy who goes through this.” This is not Jesus merely fulfilling a foretelling of events. This is Jesus fulfilling the very life of David. It wasn’t merely David’s words that pointed to Jesus, David’s life pointed to Jesus. In fact, notice that David demonstrates, in his faith in Psalm 22:3-5, that he was walking in the footsteps of the fathers, the entire nation of Israel. Jesus is not merely fulfilling a prophecy, He is fulfilling the very history of Israel. He is on that cross dying the death that Israel, that in fact the whole world, deserved. The difference is whenever Israel would cry out a statement like Psalm 22:1, it was because of their own sins. When Jesus cried it out, it was because of ours. And because He did, we can experience vs. 21: “You have answered me!” Praise the Lord!!!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 22.

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The Seed

Today’s reading is Psalm 18.

And here we are again. We read a psalm that throws up a red flag right in the middle of it. David claims God gave him the victory because of his own personal righteousness. Because he had kept himself from guilt and uncleanness. And at this point we commentators scramble. How can this be true? Perhaps back in the days of Saul, David could make some claims to righteousness; he hadn’t committed his truly horrendous sins yet. Or perhaps he was only referring to some kind of relative righteousness. Sure, he was a sinner, but not quite as bad as his pagan enemies. Or maybe righteousness here shouldn’t be seen as…well…you know…real, true, complete righteousness. Maybe it is more just talking about the fact that he pursued righteousness by relying on God and His law even when He sinned. Then there is the old tried and true reliable possibility that David is only referring to the particular sin he was accused of by his enemies in the particular instance when they were chasing him. And all of these statements can be construed as true when we read this psalm in the light of David. But perhaps David isn’t simply talking about himself. Perhaps, like so many of the psalms, this is supposed to grab our attention and make us think of someone else. Someone who could actually say all these things literally. And perhaps this psalm actually makes the claim more clearly than just this dissonance between the psalm and the actual life of David. Look at how the psalm ends: “For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing to your name. Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.” Wait! Who is this offspring? This seed? Who is the anointed (Hebrew: Messiah)? Hmmm. Can it be? Of course it is. While Psalm 18 refers to David in limited, figurative, metaphorical ways, it applies to His seed in very literal ways. We should not be surprised that death encompassed Jesus or that Sheol entangled Him. And neither are we surprised when Jesus was drawn out from the torrents of death, rescued from His enemy, and then beat death and Sheol as fine as dust. And exactly why was Jesus able to take this place in history? Because He, of all men, was exactly what this psalm claims. He was righteous. His hands were clean. He kept the ways of the Lord. He did not wickedly depart from God. God’s rules and statutes were always before him. He was blameless. He kept His way completely from guilt. Praise the Lord! Because of an indestructible life, death could not destroy Him. Therefore, throughout all the nations His name is proclaimed and His God is proclaimed. In fact, in case you think I’m just going off the ranch trying to make this apply to Jesus, you might check out Romans 15:9. Paul thought this was really about Jesus as well. Praise the Lord! Though we are among the nations, we have a mighty, victorious King!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 19.

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We Would See Jesus

Today’s reading is Psalm 17.

You’ve read Psalm 17 six times this week (at least if you are following our Bible reading plan). Perhaps you should go back and read it one more time right now. Listen to the claims David makes about his own integrity and righteousness. “You have tested me and will find nothing.” “I have avoided the way of the violent.” “My steps have held fast to your paths.” “My feet have not slipped.” Wait a minute! Can David actually claim these things? We all know he can’t. Every commentator knows he can’t. Which is why the commentaries will consistently claim David is merely referring to whatever accusations are being made against him. They assure us David isn’t actually trying to claim he never sinned; he is simply innocent of that particular sin. Further, if we are going to claim David really is the author (and some suggest otherwise), we have to put it before the whole sordid affair with Bathsheba and Uriah. Surely he could never have written anything like this after that. And you know, as it applies to David, that is the best we can do. In fact, his reference to steadfast love in Psalm 17:7 calls to mind the name of God who also forgives sin (Exodus 34:6-7). But what if Psalm 17 is more like Psalm 16 than we’ve considered? Peter and Paul said they knew David was actually talking about Jesus in Psalm 16 because his claims about Sheol and the corruption of his flesh weren’t literally true for himself. Couldn’t Peter and Paul say something similar about this psalm? Couldn’t they say, “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both sinned and walked the path of violence. And we can recount his sins”? Wouldn’t the logical conclusion that they could continue, “Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the sinlessness and resurrection of the Christ, that He would live a perfect life and even though He would die He would awake and behold the face of God in righteousness and be satisfied with the likeness of God”? Didn’t we recognize in Psalm 15, that Jesus is the only one who measures up and who can claim that He will not be moved? And now in this psalm, David claims his foot has not slipped. Guess what. That is the same word as “moved” in Psalm 15:5 and “shaken” in Psalm 16:8. In Luke 24:44, Jesus told the apostles that everything written about Him in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures that the Christ should suffer, die, and rise up. I get it, Psalm 17 doesn’t say the resurrection will happen on the third day, but we should see Jesus in this psalm. He’s there. His vindication did come from the Lord. He sought His refuge at God’s right hand. He did sleep, and He did awake. He is satisfied with the presence of God. And that alone is why this psalm gives us hope that the same can happen for us. Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 18.

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