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.

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Saved from God

Today’s reading is Psalm 28.

David is begging for mercy. He is afraid he will be like those who go down to the pit. But what does he want to be saved from? What is he actually afraid is going to happen? He mentions the wicked, workers of evil, and those who have falsehood in their heart. It is no wonder so many people believe David is asking God to deliver him from wicked people. There are many psalms in which David is doing exactly that. However, read the psalm again. In which verse does David speak of what these wicked people are doing to him? In which verse does David speak of needing rescue from his enemies? Shockingly, when we slow down and don’t just read into this psalm what we’ve read in other psalms, we see those things are actually missing here. Of whom is David really afraid in this psalm? Be honest. David is afraid of God. David is afraid that God, when He brings judgment on the wicked, the evil, the false, will drag him off as well. David is afraid of being swallowed up in God’s judgment. David wants to be saved from God and His wrath. This really fits with the series of psalms we’ve been reading. In Psalm 23, David expresses that he wants to dwell in the Lord’s house. In Psalm 24, he describes the qualifications for dwelling in the house. But then in Psalm 25, he hits a snag. He knows he doesn’t qualify. However, he serves a merciful God who is full of loyal love and is faithful to His covenants. Praise the Lord! That is the only reason David can be assured he will dwell in the holy hill. So, he begs God to remember him according to God’s mercy, not according to David’s sin. But David knows the wicked will be remembered according to their sins. They will be remembered for the works of their hands. What hope does David have? There is nothing he can offer God. He can’t earn His way into the sanctuary of the Lord. He can only turn toward it and beg for mercy. He is the tax collector whose only recourse is to cry out, “Be merciful to me the sinner.” More than that, he is a stalk of wheat in the midst of tares. Can he be sure that he won’t get cut down and cast into the fire with the wicked? That is exactly where we all are. We don’t really need to be saved from the wicked people. What we really need is to be saved from God’s wrath. Isn’t that what Paul says Jesus does for us in Romans 5:6-11? Absolutely. David begged that God would not sweep him away with the wicked. God’s response was to let Jesus die for David. That is His response for us as well. And if God was willing to sacrifice Jesus to save us from His wrath, don’t you think He is paying attention to which folks are actually in Jesus? Of course, He is. In fact, isn’t that the message of Revelation 7:1-12? The Lord knows who are His. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 28.

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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.

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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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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.

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Do Not Be Deceived, Judgment Comes

Today’s reading is Psalm 21.

In the first half of Psalm 21, the psalmist is looking back. The king having come home victorious, the psalmist is acknowledging God’s part in the victory. However, beginning in vs. 8, the psalmist looks ahead. The past victory is a sign, a down payment if you will, of what is to come. It is unclear whether the speaker is addressing Yahweh, simply asserting faith regarding what He will do, or if he is addressing the king, encouraging him with what Yahweh will do through him. Either way, the message is the same. “Enemies Beware!” It is as if to say to everyone of the enemies, “Did you see what just happened to my last enemy? That is what is coming for you.” Having been raised up on the love of Jesus, it is hard for us to stomach this kind of psalm. And yet, we need to understand that being an enemy of Jesus is a serious affront. It is a crime against not only humanity, but against heaven. It is a sin of truly extravagant proportions. Jesus’s love was offered to find escape from this judgment. Those, however, who ignore His love and choose rather to stiff arm Him and spit in His face will be judged. Don’t be deceived. It is coming and it won’t be pleasant. It will be awful. Don’t joke about it. Don’t dismiss it. Don’t ignore it. Don’t procrastinate preparing for it. In the end, the battle does belong to the Lord. You can’t defeat Him. I encourage you if you haven’t already done so, surrender. Lay down your weapons. Put down your defenses. Surrender your allegiance. The only way to victory is to grant that God wins and defect to His side. Don’t delay. Judgment comes.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 21.

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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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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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