Up From the Grave

Today’s reading is Psalm 30.

Did Yahweh literally bring David’s soul up from Sheol? Had Yahweh literally restored to David life from among those who go down to the pit? Of course not. Just as Peter and Paul could refer to Psalm 16:10 and say, “Well, we can take you to David’s tomb, so he is actually a prophet pointing to someone else,” we can do the same thing here. We could go to David’s tomb today and discover his soul is actually still in Sheol and his life is actually among those who go down to the pit. But there is One whose tomb we haven’t simply lost. Rather, it was emptied. There is One whose life was among those who went down to the pit, but on the third day was restored. There is One for whom the disciples wept through the night, but in the morning came joy. And because of that, our mourning may be turned into dancing, our sackcloth may be replaced with gladness. And we will be able to give thanks forever. Not just for the rest of our earthly lives, but forever. Jesus rose up from the grave, and because He did, we look forward to resurrection ourselves. We look forward to dwelling in the Lord’s house forever, giving thanks to Him forever. Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 31.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk podcast conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post!

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Like Those Who Go Down to the Pit

Today’s reading is Psalm 28.

Sometimes it is the little words we miss. For instance, it’s pretty easy to miss the word “like” in Psalm 28:1. Almost everyone who reads and comments on Psalm 28 believes David is afraid something is about to happen that will kill him. If God doesn’t act, David will go down to the pit, that is the realm of the dead. Some suggest it is more than being dead, it is the deepest place in the realm of the dead, the dungeon for the damned among the dead. However, catch that little word “like.” David is not afraid he is about to go to the pit. Rather, if God is deaf and silent toward him, he is like those who go down to the pit. Ezekiel 32:24, 25, 30 gives some insight as each verse repeats the statement about those who “bear their shame with those who go down to the pit.” If the Lord won’t listen or respond, David will be in shame like those in the pit. Notice also Psalm 88:3-7 with its fuller description of being in the pit. The pit is a region dark and deep (sounds like being abandoned in the valley of death’s shadow). Those who go down to the pit have no strength. But even worse, and this is likely the part David is calling to mind, those in the pit are cut off from the hand of the Lord, they are forsaken of God. In other words, why does living matter if the Lord won’t listen and respond? David might as well be dead. He is the living dead. The blessing of life is we can call out to God and He will respond. Therefore, David is pleading. “Don’t treat me like the dead in the pit. Don’t treat me like those who have been cut off from Your hand.” And here is the fantastic thing about our God. He really does listen. He is a rock, but only metaphorically. All the idols, they are nothing but rocks, pieces of metal, shards of wood. They are deaf. But our God hears and we will not be ashamed. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 28.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

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Channeling Jesus

Today’s reading is Psalm 27.

A really profound occurrence takes place in John 2:18-22. When asked what sign Jesus would work to demonstrate His authority to cleanse the temple, He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” That really confused everyone, but John goes on to explain that after Jesus was raised from the dead, the apostles understood what He meant. He wasn’t actually talking about the temple in Jerusalem, but the temple of His own body. What makes this scenario so profound is the realization that the resurrection changed everything. It changed how the apostles heard what Jesus said. It even changed how they read Scripture, including the Psalms. In fact, it should change how we read Scripture. It is true that there are some psalms that we all recognize as Messianic; that is, psalms foretelling what the Messiah would be like. There are psalms that are not as clearly foretelling, but something doesn’t seem to quite fit until the Messiah comes on the scene and fulfills the psalm literally. But there are other psalms that aren’t really foretelling anything, but once we know Jesus’s resurrection and listen to them through that filter, we hear Jesus all over them. That is Psalm 27. That is especially true when we get to “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” When David wrote this about himself, no doubt, he was referring to the fact that God was going to grant his request. He wasn’t going to die in battle. He was going to get to Jerusalem and see the tent of the Lord again. Jesus, who was forsaken by everyone, who went to the cross at the hands of soldiers and false accusers, feared nothing. He entrusted His soul to His Father. He went to the cross and died. But on Sunday morning, He saw the goodness of Yahweh in the land of the living. He waited through the cross. He waited through the grave. He waited until the third day. And then He arose the conquering hero over sin, Satan, death, and the grave. And if this is how Yahweh delivers His one and only Son, how much more should we expect the same? David had confidence God would deliver him because of how God had worked with Moses and Joshua. We can have confidence because of how God delivered our King Jesus. No matter how dark it gets in your life, no matter how the enemy tries to blot out the sun, God is our light, He is our salvation, He is our stronghold. Hang on to Him. He will always come through. Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 28.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

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Revisiting the Valley of Death’s Darkness

Today’s reading is Psalm 27.

Do you remember the Valley of the Shadow of Death? That was definitely a dark picture. I can understand, however, how we might struggle to put legs on that metaphor. What might the Valley of Death’s Darkness look like in a more pragmatic picture? Look no further than Psalm 27. As David continues this series on the house of the Lord, we see his faith along the paths of righteousness. Look at how dark it is for him. Evildoers assail him to eat up his flesh. That’s a pretty brutal picture, but it makes a whole lot more sense if we see it as continuing the sheep metaphor from Psalm 23, doesn’t it? A bit more literally, he says, “Though an army encamp against me” and “war arise against me.” False witnesses had arisen against him breathing out violence. We can try, of course, to place this psalm at a particular moment in David’s reign, but whenever we place it, this picture helps us understand his dark valley and how he made it through. “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” “The Lord is the stronghold of my life.” Can you see how these statements call to mind both metaphors from Psalm 23? He is the light for the sheep in death’s dark valley. He is the stronghold in which the guest is hosted as enemies look on helpless. “Whom shall I fear?” David asks. Paul asks the same question on our behalf in Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Then he goes on to explain that our certainty is far more sure than David’s: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). When we are in the valley as dark as death, we can remember that Jesus has already gone through that valley on our behalf. We can remember He came out on the other side. David had faith even before Jesus. How much more faith can we have in our Shepherd, knowing He has in fact already defeated our biggest enemies. Even if you can’t sense the light, know that to Jesus, your dark valley is as bright as the morning. He will lead you through it. Just keep doing what He says in His Word. You’ll make it. Not because you are amazing, but because our Lord and Shepherd is. Praise God!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 27.

Some Links:

Click here to hear or read Edwin’s sermon on “The Dark Shadow of Psalm 23.”

Click here to be reminded of the Psalm 23 metaphor about the Shepherd.

Click here to be reminded of the Psalm 23 metaphor about the Host.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post!

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But I Love These Guys!

Today’s reading is Psalm 21.

As we acknowledged yesterday, the last half of Psalm 21 is hard for us to stomach. The declaration of judgment is hard to swallow. It is full of consuming fire, encompassing destruction, engulfing death. The enemies will be found out. They will face God’s wrath. They will be consumed as in a fiery furnace. More than that, their descendants will be cut off from the earth. The Lord, either directly or through His king, will not only put them to flight but will fire His arrows into their faces. And this pulls us up short. Some of these enemies are co-workers that we admire. Some are neighbors whose company we enjoy. Some of them are friends we like. Some of them are family members we love. And this just doesn’t seem right. Sure, back in those barbaric days of ancient, land-grabbing warriors, this kind of thing was taken well, but today? It is as if we have forgotten that almost all of the Israel’s enemies were actually her cousins. Here’s the thing. Judgment is coming. God’s enemies will be consumed. And if we really love all those people who will be facing judgment as much as we claim, we have only one choice: tell them about Jesus. Sitting back and trying to redefine God’s wrath, love, punishment, or reward in hopes of making one not so bad and the other a little more imaginable isn’t going to help. The only thing that will help is getting the message out. The only thing that will help is letting folks know that God hates the idea of judging them more than we do. God loves them more than we do. In fact, God loves them so much and hates the idea of judging them so much, He sacrificed His Son in order to save them. Let’s tell them about it. Otherwise, let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking we love them very much.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 21.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier expanding on this post!

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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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When I Awake

Today’s reading is Psalm 17.

WOW!!! Is this to be read simply as an evening prayer in which David expects to awake from his night’s sleep and be face to face with God and be satisfied with God’s likeness? We should find it intriguing that this “likeness” or “form” of God which David believes will satisfy him is something that goes beyond what idolaters received from their gods. After all, David is not allowed to carve or cast a likeness or image of God (Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 4:16, 23, 25; 5:8). Further, this calls to mind the face to face conversation Moses was able to have with God (Numbers 12:8). Was David simply claiming he expected God to give him a face to face response the following morning? I know there are many who want to claim the Old Testament presents no concept of the afterlife, but I think we have pretty strong evidence that David believed in some kind of afterlife. I have no doubt it wasn’t as fully developed as we have in the New Testament. But he was well aware that because the Lord was his portion, his portion wasn’t in this life. He would sleep. But he would awake (see Daniel 12:2). And when he awakes, he is going to be in the very presence of God. His enemies are filled with treasure and satisfied with children. He is going to be satisfied with the very presence of God in eternity. And when that is my hope and my satisfaction, I can endure a whole lot of enemies surrounding me. In fact, I can realize that the Lord may deliver me not from death, but through death. While I pray that the Lord will arise and conquer my enemies, I can rest in the comfort that I will arise and my enemies can do nothing about it. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 17.

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The Only One Qualified

Today’s reading is Psalm 15.

Well, we’re in a bit of a quandary, aren’t we? Only the blameless get to dwell with the Lord. We water that down a bit so we can pretend we fit. However, we look at Psalm 15 as a mirror, and we can’t even see ourselves in it. Oh, we try hard. Sure, we are better than some people at it. But when the reality settles on us, we know there is really no hope for us. We start to turn away in sadness like that young ruler who had many possessions. We stop to wonder, “But who qualifies? Does anyone?” Yes! One is qualified: Jesus Christ, the righteous, the incarnate Son of God. He fulfilled every bit of this description of God’s welcome guest. He had every right to live on God’s Holy Mountain. And yet, what did He do? He died on God’s Holy Mountain. Every bit of the judgment for not fulfilling Psalm 15 was poured out on the only One who was qualified according to it. Why? To prepare a dwelling place for us (John 14:1-4, 24). The righteous requirement of the Law is that sinners die. Those who are unqualified don’t get to dwell with God. But Jesus, the only qualified one who knew no sin, died a sinner’s death fulfilling the righteous requirement of the Law. Those who die with Christ fulfill the righteous requirement of the Law in Him (Romans 8:4). And through that grace of fulfillment, we are granted access to God’s Tent on His Holy Hill. Again, none of this means we ignore the Psalm 15 qualifications for dwelling with God. Rather, through Jesus’s death and God’s Holy Spirit of grace we meet the qualifications. Yes, we still often fail at these qualifications, but we hang on to Jesus and keep climbing God’s mountain. By God’s strength and grace we will summit the Holy Hill and we will dwell with the Lord. Hallelujah! So my big question for you is not how good you are at being blameless, but have you died with Christ? Do you even know how? If you are interested in learning how, read Romans 6:1-4. Then shoot us a message. We’d love to help you take up your residence on God’s Holy Hill.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 16.

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The Fear of Defeat

Today’s reading is Psalm 13.

David feared death in Psalm 13. He also feared defeat. Honestly, it makes me wonder if he provided this list in ascending or descending order. Did he start with his biggest fear or the smallest one. Either way, the #2 fear on the list is the fear that he will lose: “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God…lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him.'” And isn’t that exactly what Satan wants us to fear? He wants us to fear we’ve chosen the losing side. He wants us to fear that God, in the end, can’t actually win the battle. And what greater time to perpetuate that fear than in the interim? What greater time to perpetuate that fear than before God has struck the decisive blow against the enemy? In these moments, we will be tempted to switch sides, but in these moments we must remember another of David’s prayers: “Yours O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours” (1 Chronicles 29:11). And as Proverbs 21:31 says, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” Of course, I was half-joking when I asked if David was starting with his biggest fear or working up to it. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 demonstrates these two fears are not so different. When our living is anything but Jesus Christ, death seems like the greatest loss. But when we are in Christ and our lives are focused on gaining Christ, death is no defeat. Rather, even in death we have the victory in Jesus Christ. Of course, the only way we will have this victory is through faith (1 John 5:4). No matter what it looks like today or tomorrow, we are going to win. Feel free to ask God how long it is going to be until we win, but always remember we will win. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 13.

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The Fear of Death

Today’s reading is Psalm 13.

In Psalm 13, as in many psalms, David is living in the interim between when God gives a promise and God grants the promise. He lists three fears we often have in this time. The first is fear of death. “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” In 1 Samuel 27:1, though God had promised the throne, David begins to fear Saul will actually succeed at killing him. Honestly, this is a low point regarding David’s faith. I can’t say for certain that Psalm 13 was written at this time. However, I know that his fear of death at either time was unnecessary. And the same is true for us. According to Hebrews 2:14-16, Jesus has shared in flesh and blood so that through death He might defeat the the one who has the power of death, the devil. Because Jesus has defeated the devil and death, we who are in Jesus have no need to fear death either. Like Paul in Philippians 1:21 death is not a loss for us. It is gain for us. No matter how bad it gets, even though we walk through the shadow of death, we do not have to fear any evil, not even death. Whether we live or die, Jesus is leading us to victory. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 13.

Continue reading “The Fear of Death”