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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But I’m a Sinner!

Today’s reading is Psalm 25.

Yesterday, we recognized a connection between Psalm 24 and who may ascend the Lord’s hill and Psalm 25, this week’s psalm. But there is another connection. It is almost as if this psalm were written or placed here as a response to the previous one. Or maybe it would be better said that it is placed here to deal with an anticipated objection. According to Psalm 24, the one who has clean hands and a pure heart can climb the Lord’s hill. In Psalm 25, we have the anticipated objection. “But what about me? I’m a sinner.” Psalm 25:7 is the first explicit mention from the psalmist of his own sinfulness (Psalm 6:1 implies it; Psalm 23:3 almost implies it). It is almost as if Psalm 25 is finally expressing the objection we’ve brought up on several occasions as we’ve gone through these psalms. I do lift my soul up to the Lord. I do trust Him. But I haven’t been perfect. I’m a sinner. My hands are befouled. My heart is defiled. I want to be clean. I want to be perfect. But I’ve blown it. What now? The great news is our God is merciful. Our God forgives. Our God loves. Our God is faithful and true to His covenant. Yes, we have failed. But we can lift our soul up to our God, seek mercy and we will go away justified. Honestly, it really defies reason. I mean, I know we’ve been trained up on 2000 years of Christianity and the love and forgiveness of the sacrifice of Jesus. But if you think about it, why would anyone expect the supreme power of the universe to be loving, merciful, and forgiving? We could much more expect Him to be exacting, demanding, and unsparing. And yet, He is not what we expect. He wants us to climb His hill and He will forgive us so we can. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’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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I’m the Nail

Today’s reading is Psalm 22.

If the victim in this psalm is ultimately Jesus, who is ultimately the victimizer? I leave that question with you and the answer in the form of a poem I read while studying this psalm:

To have been the cup
His lips touched and blessed,
To have been the bread
Which He broke;
To have been the cloth
He held as He served,
Or water He poured
As He spoke.

To have been the road
He walked on the Way,
To have been His print
in the sand;
To have been the door
That opened the tomb,
But I was a nail
In His hand.

“Remorse” by Sue Fife*

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 22.

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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.

PODCAST!!!

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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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Who Was David Talking About?

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

Peter quotes Psalm 16:8-11, from the writings of David. When we read Psalm 16, it certainly seems David was talking about himself. Of course, in talking about himself, we recognize there is hyperbole; that is, exaggeration used to clarify or highlight the point. David wasn’t saying he personally would never die or that his body would never be buried. In reference to himself, he was discussing the great blessing of life God gave David by protecting him and delivering him from his enemies. God delivered him from Goliath, from Saul, from Absalom, from so many enemies who would have dragged David down to death. However, we cannot apply these statements literally and absolutely to David. As Peter points out, he could actually take the Jews there in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost to the very spot where David was buried. Thus, Peter says, David wasn’t actually talking about himself, but was talking about the ultimate descendant of his that God would place on the throne. That descendant would not remain in the realm of the dead. That descendant would be raised from the dead. That descendant, Peter says, is Jesus. Peter was not asking the people to believe Jesus was raised from the dead because of what David said in Psalm 16. Rather, he was asking people to believe his testimony as an eye-witness and that the people should recognize Peter and the apostles as valid eye-witnesses because of the amazing miracles that had surrounded their preaching on that day. He is quoting David in Psalm 16 to say, “I know what I’m saying about Jesus sounds odd, but we should have known something like this would happen. David said it would. Believe David. Believe me. Believe the signs.” Who was David talking about? Now that we’ve seen Jesus rise from the dead, we know exactly who he was talking about. He was talking about Jesus. Believe Jesus.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 2.

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You Crucified; God Delivered

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

Peter demonstrates the intersection of God’s foreknowledge and man’s action. Jesus’s crucifixion was not a shock to God. He had known it was going to happen. Not only that, He had planned for it to happen. Yet, Peter tells the Jews, “God delivered Jesus up, but you crucified Him.” When folks try to walk through the issues of foreknowledge philosophically, they get wrapped around the axle. Were the Jews bound to crucify Jesus? Of course not. If they hadn’t crucified Him, God would have foreknown something else. However, before our minds explode trying to keep all of this straight, can we simply notice what Peter, by inspiration of the Spirit, explains? Even though God foreknew this was going to happen, these Jews were still responsible for their actions. They chose their actions. They were not bound to those actions. They were not manipulated by God to accomplish those actions. They were not forced by God. In like manner, whatever God knows about us and our future, when we choose to do it, we are responsible for it. However, let us never think we are going to outsmart God. These folks crucified the Son of God, but they did nothing but accomplish what God wanted. We can fight all we want against God, He will be glorified in the end. He will either be glorified by our defeat as we try to fight against Him and fail, or He will be glorified by our surrender, as we give our lives up in service to Him and He saves us. No matter what, God is glorified. We might as well pursue the side that allows us salvation. Praise the Lord He has offered that option to us.

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

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Many Proofs

Today’s reading is Acts 1.

Sometimes what amazes me most about the Bible is not what it does say, but what it does not say. There are bits and pieces left out that to me seem really important. For instance, according to Luke, over 40 days Jesus presented Himself alive to the apostles “by many proofs.” Why didn’t Luke share more of that? Certainly, a couple of those events are recorded in the gospels, but if there were many, why not show more? If I were a skeptic, I’d jump on that with a fervor saying they didn’t have many proofs. I’d say Luke was just making it all up. In fact, even as a believer, I’m a little drawn to that and start to have my doubts. However, something pulls me up short from running headlong down that trail. I ask myself, if I were making up this story of Jesus out of whole cloth, what would I do? Like Luke, I would want there to be many convincing proofs. Like Luke, I would think there needed to be many convincing proofs. Not just a couple, but many. Not just a handful, but many. If I were making up this story, I would make up many “proofs.” I’d start developing so many stories of Jesus appearing to the apostles and to others that the reader would have to cave under the pressure of all the proof. But oddly, Luke is satisfied with simply saying, “Oh yeah, there were many convincing proofs. I don’t have room to share them. But they were there.” Then he moves on with the story. Why? Because Luke isn’t making up the story. Since he isn’t, he doesn’t have that overwhelming psychological and emotional need to multiply proofs. As far as he’s concerned, the few he shared in the first volume is enough. As far as he’s concerned, telling the stories of Jesus’s impact on the disciples in the coming chapters is enough. That is a mark of people telling the truth. They don’t feel the need to multiply supposed proofs. And all of this reminds me that what Jesus is striving to produce in us is faith. As shocking as it is to us, when faith is the premium, there will always be room for doubt. But I ask you, does Luke write like an author who knows he is lying, making up stories, fabricating events to convince us to follow him as a religious leader? Or does he write like a man who believes, who knows he is simply telling the truth? I know what I see here. What about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 1.

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The Resurrection Changes Everything

Today’s reading is Luke 24.

Do you ever look back at the crowds of Jesus’s day and wonder why they didn’t get it? To me, it just seems so obvious Jesus is the fulfillment the Old Testament. Not only are there specific prophecies that line up, Jesus’s life mirrors whole story arcs, themes, and patterns from the Old Testament. How could they miss it? That is actually the wrong question. The better question is: Why can I see it? The answer: the Resurrection. Jesus’s interaction with the disciples on the road to Emmaus is a profound explanation. Jesus is right in front of these two disciples. They see Him, but they don’t. They hear Him, but they don’t. He is hidden from them. It was not until the breaking of the bread that they truly recognized Him. When they did, they reinterpreted their entire experience with Him, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” That is to say, “How could we have missed who He was? Wasn’t it really obvious the whole time?” Notice, this recognition of Jesus is tied to the opening of the Scriptures. At this same moment that Jesus was hidden and then revealed to them, even though He was actually there the whole time, what had been hidden in the Scriptures from them was now revealed to them, even though it had been there the whole time. “He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” I wish I could have heard that lesson. But this explains why I can see it. The resurrection changes everything. It is the central moment in history through which everything before it and after it needs to be interpreted. When we accept that Jesus was in fact resurrected from the dead, that sends ripples throughout all time. And it causes some of us to look at the Old Testament and say, “There He was all the time. Why didn’t we see it before?” I can see it now because the resurrection changes everything, it lifts the veil, it redirects my gaze, it refocuses the message. Praise the Lord, He is risen indeed!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 24.

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