Thursday, January 30, 2020



Abraham and Lot lived together after they left Ur for Canaan.  They were, however, very different people. Lot chose where to live by sight. He looked at the land and saw that it had a lot of water, which was good for his cattle and sheep.

Abraham, in contrast, went where the Lord directed him. He went in obedience and he went in faith. When the Lord told him to go to Canaan, he went. When, the Lord said he would give the land to him, but it would not be fully realized for 400 years, Abraham believed him.

The outcome of each man’s approach is also clear. Lot ended up living in a city of corruption. He would have died if Abraham had not saved him. Abraham, in contrast, lived in faith, became wealthy, and became the progenitor of a great people. And, the Lord counted Abraham’s faith as righteousness.

Abraham’s faith also began the process that would bring a savior to the world, become a blessing for all peoples, not just Abraham’s descendants.

How do you live? “Seeing is believing” or “walking by faith”. God desires and rewards our faith.

Sunday, January 26, 2020



The notes at the beginning of this psalm tell us the occasion for its writing. It was when the Ziphites betrayed David by telling Saul where David was hiding. 1 Samuel 23:15-24 tells the story of David hiding from Saul in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. This area is about 5 miles southeast of Hebron, south of the Dead Sea.

It was a dry, desert area with no food, but with hills and caves to hide in.

The people who lived in the area were the Ziphites. They were descendants of Caleb, one of the two spies who urged Israel to going Canaan when they balked.

The Ziphites went to Saul at Gibea and told him where David was. Gibea was a little west of where David was hiding. They told the king to come there and they would deliver David into Saul’s hands.

David escaped, but obviously felt the sting of the betrayal. He wrote this Psalm in response.

Prayer For Salvation From Enemies

David asked God to hear his prayer and save him by his name and to vindicate him by his might.

The Bible often speaks of calling upon the name of the Lord. For example, Psalm 20:7 says “some trust in horses and some in chariots, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Romans 10 13 says everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

What does it mean to call upon the name of the Lord? It does not mean we yell out God’s name when we are in trouble and there is magic in the name. That makes me think of the old vampire movies where someone would hold up a cross and vampire would run away.

The Jewish exorcists in Ephesus discovered this truth the hard way. They were trying to cast out demons saying “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims”. The result was a demon possessed man beat up all seven of them. (Acts 19:13-17)

The “name” of God is a way of saying God himself, in the fullness of his character and presence.

That is why the third commandment is that we shall not take the name of the Lord in vain. (Exodus 20:7) If we use God’s name in false oaths, or as an expression of displeasure, we are not being reverent toward God as we should. God demands that he be honored. This is made clear in an event in Leviticus 24, where a man blasphemed the name of God and cursed. God demanded that he be stoned to death.

So, when we call upon the name of the Lord, we are calling upon the Lord himself as our redeemer and deliverer who has the power to help us. That is what David was doing.

David also asked God to use his might to vindicate him. David had been anointed as king by Samuel at God’s instruction. Yet, he had not taken the throne. David asked God to intervene and show that David was his anointed, to vindicate him, by saving him from Saul and his other enemies.

In verse 3, David set out the reason for his prayer. Strangers rose against him. The Ziphites actually lived in Judah, so they should have been kinsmen of David, not strangers, and protected him. Yet, they betrayed him for their gain.

They were men who were ruthless, having no pity or compassion for David.

They were Godless, not caring that God had anointed David and offering David up to gain favor with Saul. These men probably knew David had been anointed to succeed Saul, but did not care. They were willing to sacrifice him for their own good.

Believing in God

Despite David’s precarious situation, he did not lose faith in God. He said to look and see (behold) that God was his helper and the one who upheld, or protected his life.

Remember that David had about 600 men with him. (1 Samuel 25:13) But Saul had about 3,000, or 5 times as many. (1 Samuel 24:2) He was outnumbered. But he continued to believe in God as his helper. In that belief, he called on God to save him from Saul.

Sight told David the situation was hopeless.

Faith told David God was his hope.

David went on to say that God would return evil to his enemies. The Ziphites, and Saul, did evil to David. David relied on God to vindicate himself and to take vengeance on his enemies. David never struck at Saul, even when he had the chance. But God delivered Saul into the hands of the Philistines, who killed him on Mount Gilboa.

God reserves the right of vengeance to himself. In Deuteronomy 32:35, God said “Vengeance is mine, and recompense”. Paul explained this further in Romans 12:19, saying “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave to the wrath of God”.

We may not always see God’s vengeance or our vindication. As believers, we may not be vindicated in this life. But we know that God will punish those who hate him and hate us and that we will be vindicated on the last day.

Giving Thanks

David believed God would deliver him and looked forward to the day God would deliver him from this trouble. In response, he would make a freewill offering.

A freewill offering was a voluntary sacrifice. (Leviticus 23:38) It was to be a male bull, sheep, or goat with no physical deformities or blemishes. You could not buy it from a foreigner (Leviticus 22:17–25). The worshiper had to include flour mixed with oil and wine (Numbers 15:1–10). It to be made in a place of God’s choosing, not in an area formerly used by other religions or at home (Deuteronomy 12). Although you could give the sacrifice during formal feast-days, you could give it any time. (Deuteronomy 16:10)

David intended to express his thankfulness and appreciation to God, not only in prayer, but by offering the sacrifice. Both were his expressions of worship to God his protector.

Most of us have been or will be betrayed or plotted against at some time. David shows us how to respond to this. I have had someone plot to take away my job in order to consolidate his power. I kept a Bible open on my desk at work, open to the Psalms. I realized I was powerless in the face of a powerful opponent and would be given no chance to defend myself. So, I relied upon God and often read and prayed psalms like this one. And God delivered me.

So, the first thing we do in these situations is trust in God and call upon him for help. When he delivers us, we should remember to express our thanks to him. We certainly can and should express our thanks to God verbally. But, do not overlook the freewill offering. My wife and I have done this a few times when we recognized God’s deliverance from threatening situation. We did this by giving an offering of money to our church above our normal giving.

God wants us to trust him and rely on him. He also wants us to thank him. A lack of thankfulness is a sign of a heart that is hard toward God.

Sunday, January 19, 2020



This Psalm is identical to Psalm 14 except for a few words. It deals with those who deny God and the effects of that denial. It follows a psalm which dealt with the evil of one man and deals with the evil of all of those who do not obey God.


The fool denies God. In this context, the fool is one who denies that he\she is accountable to God. This person resists wisdom, which begins with the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 1:7)

The Hebrew word for fool is “nabal”. This was the name of the man who denied aid to David in 1 Samuel 25:25. He was rich, but harsh and badly behaved. When David’s men asked for food, Nabal refused and insulted David. David sent 400 armed men after him. Fortunately, Nabal’s wife, Abigail, intervened and convinced David not to act rashly. David blessed her for it. The Lord struck Nabal dead a few days later.

The result is that the fool is corrupt. I have a work friend who works with computer databases. If incorrect information is entered into one of his databases, it is corrupted, and the calculations or information the database produces will be incorrect.

Here the person has become corrupt because he denies there is a God to whom he is accountable. As a result, he is corrupt. His thinking and acting are corrupted so that he does bad things rather than good things.

The Psalmist says abominable iniquity. Iniquity is evil or wickedness. But this foolish person goes even further and commits abominable iniquity. Abominable means loathsome or despicable. The person who does not believe in a God that holds them accountable can commit evil acts that are abominable. Unfortunately, we see that when a lot of people are like this, the acts that were at one time considered evil are now considered acceptable and even good.

Paul dealt with this in Romans 1:18-32. He wrote about those who were given plenty of evidence of God’s eternal power and divine nature, but did not honor God. They became futile in their thinking and their hearts were darkened. In other words, the became corrupt as the Psalmist said.

In their futile thinking and darkened hearts, they committed evil acts of envy, murder, strife, and deceit. I am sure you have read or heard about an evil act being committed in the last week.

Of course, Romans 1 tells us they are accountable even if they ignore God. Romans 1:18 says the wrath of God is revealed. They will experience God’s wrath.


Verse 2 pictures God looking down from heaven to see if there are any who are wise and who seek him. The implied answer is that he does not see any, or at least not many. Isaiah 53:6 says “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned - everyone - to his own way.

Paul quotes from the Septuagint version of verses 1 through 3 in Romans 3: 10-12 as he discussed the unrighteousness of men and women compared to the righteousness of God. Then, Romans 3:23 says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

When God, in the time of Noah, looked at the earth, he saw that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was evil continually”. (Genesis 6:5)

So we see that those who deny God and his standards become corrupt and commit evil acts. Not every one does horrible things, But all violate God’s standards and some do truly evil things.


The Psalmist applies these concepts to those who attack Israel. These Gentiles have no knowledge and do not call upon God. As a result, they attack God’s people. But when they do, they experience terror where there is none and God scatters them from Israel.

This reminds us of the time the king of Assyria surrounded Jerusalem to attack it. Hezekiah, the king, prayed for God to deliver Jerusalem. The angel of the Lord came and struck down the Assyrians. (2 Kings 19)

It also happened in Judges 7, when Gideon fought the Midianites and God caused them to turn on themselves.


The Psalmist prayed for salvation to come out of Zion. He was asking God to come out and restore the fortunes of Israel, so it could rejoice. This indicates there was some oppression from other countries from whom the Psalmist prayed for relief.

We do not know the time the Psalmist has in mind. But we know this: True salvation has now come out of Zion for Israel. It has come for the Gentiles, too, praise the Lord.

In fact, James, at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, declared that the coming of the Gentiles into the kingdom began the fulfillment of the promise of the restoration of Israel so that the remnant of mankind could come to the Lord. (Acts 15:16-17 citing Amos 9:11)

Further, at some point when the fullness of the Gentiles has come into the kingdom, there will be a turning of the Jews to Christ. Paul, in Romans 11:26, cites Isaiah 59:20, that the Deliverer will come from Zion to save the people of Israel.  

Salvation from sins and to eternal life comes only through Christ for both Jews and Gentiles for “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

Sunday, January 12, 2020


Evil Men & A Steadfast God

This Psalm was written in response to events recorded in 1 Samuel 20-22.

David had been anointed as king, but had not assumed the throne. Saul still reigned. He had come to hate David and wanted to kill him.

Jonathan, Saul’s son, warned David, who fled to the town of Nob. The priests had moved there with the Tabernacle after Shiloh was destroyed. David came to the priest, Ahimelech, and deceived him into thinking he was on an errand for Saul. He took the Bread of the Presence for food and the sword of Goliath.

The Bread of the Presence was 12 loaves of bread in two rows on the golden table Tabernacle holy place. The high priest put them there every Sabbath, representing the 12 tribes of Israel and their dependence on God for sustenance. The priests ate the loaves that were removed. These were the loaves David would have taken. (Leviticus 24)

Unfortunately, “Doeg the Edomite” saw this and reported it to Saul. Saul ordered his servants to kill all of the priests in Nob, but they would not do it. So Doeg did it, killing 85 people, including men, women and children. He also killed all the animals. Only Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech, escaped.

Abiathar went and told David. David acknowledged that he knew Doeg was there and would tell Saul. He felt that the deaths were his fault.

Psalm 52 was written by David as he reflected on “Doeg’s” treachery.

Doeg’s Boasts

Evidently, Doeg returned to Saul and boasted of all he had done for Saul in killing the inhabitants of Nob. He is the “mighty man” or “hero” mentioned in the Psalm. David uses the title sarcastically. David called him out for his boasting of this deed. He said he boasted of evil and loved evil. He also lied and spoke deceitfully.

Despite the evil done by Doeg, David proclaimed that the steadfast love of God endures all the day. In other words, evil men will not prevail against God and God’s people because of God’s steadfast love for his people.

God Will Destroy Evil People

David asserted that God would destroy Doeg. He said it three ways: (1) God will break him down forever, removing him from power and might; (2) God would snatch him from his tent; he will find him in the place he thinks is safe and remove him from it; (3) God will uproot Doeg from the land of the living; God will remove him from life.

This use of multiple lines that make the same point is called parallelism. It is common in Hebrew poetry and speech. It usually does not mean God will do three different things. Rather it says the same thing two or three different ways to emphasize the point.

Here the point is that, because Doeg is evil and even boasts of it, God will destroy him because he does not honor God.

In contrast, the righteous will see Doeg’s destruction and laugh because he did not make God his refuge, but trusted in his riches and his power. (7-8)

This year, in America, we have seen a man who abused female children and recruited others to join him, destroyed despite his wealth and his connections with influential people. That is an example.

We know that God will destroy evil. Often he does it during the lifetime of the evil person. The Book of Acts also gives us a picture of this. When the people of Tyre and Sidon came to Herod and heard him speak, they said it was the voice of a god and not a man. an angel of the lord immediately struck him down because he did not give God the glory. And he was eaten by worms. (Acts 12:22-23)

Sometimes God does not act during the lifetime of an evil person. He will, however, certainly do it at the final judgment. Revelation gives us vivid pictures of this. For example, speaking of Babylon the great, an angel said:

“Pay her back as she herself has paid back others,
and repay her double former deeds;
mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.
As she glorified herself and lived in luxury,
so give her a like measure of torment and mourning.”
(Revelation 18:6-7)

Trusting in God

In contrast to Doeg and his trust in his wealth and might, David trusted in the steadfast love of God. Doeg would be uprooted from the land and is tent destroyed, but David would be planted in the house of God like a green olive tree.

The olive tree was important in Israel. It provided olives for food and oil. Olive oil was used for different things, including a salve for wounds.

It was a symbol for good things, prosperity, fruitfulness, and life. So, David was saying, I am like this productive tree, under the protection of God, who will love me forever and take care of me. I am blessed by God.

Because God loves and cares for David, David will thank God and wait for God to do what he promised. (8-9) We know that God desires us to live in thankfulness.

We do not know what happened to Doeg after this. We do know what happened to Saul, who commanded Doeg to do evil. Saul was defeated in a battle with the Philistines at Mount Gilboa. He was wounded by archers and then committed suicide. The Philistines found his body and beheaded him. They stripped him of his armor and put the armor in one of their pagan temples. Finally, they fastened his body to the wall of the city of Beth-shan.

In contrast, David became king. He expanded the territory of Israel to its greatest extent. He became very wealthy. And God made a covenant with him to bring the Messiah through his line of descendants.

What do we do with evil?

(1)Recognize that the wicked plot against the godly. They often use deception. That is part of the point of this psalm.

(2)Hate evil; be disgusted by it. Romans 12:9 “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”

(3) Expose it. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:11.

(4) Pray For Protection. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. Matthew 6:13.

(5) Let God handle it. “Repay no one evil for evil”. (Romans 12:17) 

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Behold him there! The risen Lamb, my perfect, sinless Righteousness, The great unchangeable I AM, the King of glory and of grace.

- Charitie Lees Bancroft

Sunday, January 05, 2020




The first words we read in the Bible are “In the beginning God…” (Genesis 1:1). So, the first thing we learn about God is he is eternal.  He has always existed. He will always exist.

But Genesis 1 is not the only place the Bible presents God as eternal. It consistently states that God is eternal. For example, Isaiah 57:15 says He (God) is the “High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity”. He transcends time.

Psalm 90:2 says “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God”.

Charles Ryrie  wrote: “The attribute of eternity means that God exists endlessly. His existence extends endlessly backward and forward (from our viewpoint of time) without any interruption or limitation caused by succession of events.”

God has always existed. He will always exist. He will always be there.



This is a Psalm written by King David as he repented of his sin after committing adultery with Bathsheba and killing her husband. You can read the story in 2 Samuel 11 and 12.

David did not go to war with his troops. Instead he stayed home in Jerusalem. Evidently he had nothing to do, so he went walking on the roof of his house. From there, he saw Bathsheba bathing in the back courtyard of her house.. He had her brought to him and had sex with her. Then he had her husband, Uriah, to the front of the battle where he was killed.

To make it even worse, Uriah was one of David’s “Mighty Men” and a loyal soldier.

Afterward, Nathan the prophet came and confronted David with his sin. David repented. This Psalm records his repentance.

A Plea For Forgiveness

The psalm begins with David asking God to have mercy on him. He did not claim any right to forgiveness, but asked God to forgive him out of his steadfast love and abundant mercy.

He asked God to forgive him. To “blot out” his transgressions is an image of his sins being written down and asking God to mark them out. When God forgives, he no longer remembers sin to hold it against us.

David also asked God to wash him, to cleanse him of his sin and iniquity. He realized that he could not stand before God stained by sin. It had to be removed and only God could remove it. God promises to do this for believers in 1 John 1:9, which says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.

Confession of Sin

You can tell by these verses that David was under conviction. He said he knew his transgressions. He knew he had done wrong before Nathan came, since he knew the covenant law. Adultery and murder were both sins. But, certainly, after Nathan pointedly accused David of sin, he knew and was convicted by the Holy Spirit that he had greatly sinned.
David acknowledged that he sinned against God, who gave the law to Israel. He also acknowledged that God was blameless and righteous in judging David to have sinned. God is righteous and so is his law.

Acknowledgment of “Original Sin”

When David said he was brought forth, or born, in iniquity and conceived in sin, he was not saying sex is a sin. He was saying he was born a sinner.

Sin is a rebellion against God’s will with our will. R. C. Sproul called it “cosmic treason”. We are born with a heart inclined toward sin. This is so because we inherited it from Adam, the first sinner and the representative of mankind. In Romans 5, Paul wrote that sin came into the world through one man, meaning Adam, and death through sin, so death spread to all mean because all sinned in Adam. Augustine called this “original sin”. Some people call it our “fallen nature” or the “sin nature”.

So, David confessed that he sinned and that he was a sinner, born that way.

David originally thought he committed his sins in secret. Certainly he tried to hide them. But God knows our sin even if it is hidden from others. David acknowledged that, saying God delights in truth in the inward being. Regardless of your outward appearance, God knows your heart. He wants you to be holy in your thoughts and in your unseen actions.

Asking For Forgiveness

David used a couple of metaphors to ask for forgiveness from God. He asked God to purge him with hyssop. Hyssop is a plant that is broom like. If you dip it in something, you can fling that substance around from the plant.

Hyssop was used in Israel’s cleansing ceremonies. Priests cleansed lepers by dipping hyssop in the blood of a sacrificial bird and sprinkling the leper with it seven times. (Leviticus 14:6) David asked God to remove the stain of his sin as a priest would remove leprosy with the hyssop.

David also used the metaphor of washing clothes, asking God to wash him and he would be whiter than snow. We use that same metaphor in our hymns. James Nicholson wrote a hymn in 1872 entitled “I Shall Be Whiter Than Snow”. You probably know the refrain: “Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow. Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow”.

David also wanted to be restored in his spirit. He had suffered in his separation from God and feeling guilty for his sins. He said the Lord had broken his bones. (8) But he wanted to again experience joy and gladness.

That restoration would include a restoration to holy living. He asked for a clean heart and a right spirit. (10) He also asked God not to take away his Holy Spirit from him. Having been anointed as king, he could not bear the thought of living without God’s presence in him.

The Result of Forgiveness

Once forgiven, David said he would teach other sinners God’s ways and bring them to repentance. He would sing of God’s righteousness, praising him in song.

David also acknowledged that ritual would not help him. God wants a broken spirit and contrite heart, not just ritual.

This Psalm is written by David, but made into a song for the whole congregation to sing. So, the Psalm ends with a corporate plea for God to do good to Israel. In turn, they will offer the right sacrifices in which God will delight. (18-19)

Do not postpone repentance and suffer as David did. Confess, repent, and seek restoration of your fellowship with God. Then rejoice, be thankful, and tell others.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Read the Bible This Year!

“We must be driven more to our Bibles, and to the mercy seat, if we are to stand in the evil day,”
Robert Murray M'Cheyne