Thursday, April 28, 2022

"Upon us, on account of our sins, the curse has been pronounced, and a penalty has been incurred. It is written that he 'will by no means clear the guilty', but every transgression and iniquity shall have its just punishment and reward. Here, then, let us admire that the Lord Jesus Christ is the end of the law as to penalty. That curse and penalty are awful things to think upon, but Christ has ended all their evil, and thus discharged us from all the consequences of sin. As far as every believer is concerned the law demands no penalty and utters no curse. The believer can point to the Great Surety on the tree of Calvary, and say, 'See there, oh law, there is the vindication of divine justice which I offer to you! Jesus pouring out his heart's blood from his wound, and dying on my behalf, is my answer to your claims, and I know that I shall be delivered from wrath through him.' The claims of the law, both as broken and unbroken, Christ has met: both the positive and the penal demands are satisfied in him. This was a labor worthy of a God, and lo, the incarnate God has achieved it. He has finished the transgression, made an end of sins, made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness. All glory be to his name."

Charles H. Spurgeon, Christ's Glorious Achievement 

Sunday, April 24, 2022




This psalm is a song, as shown in the instruction. It is also a lament due to the fact that Israel faces a crisis. It is also an imprecatory psalm, calling for God’s judgment against Israel’s enemies. 

The psalm does not indicate when the events occurred, but it appears from the names used to refer to the period of the Book of Judges. There is also a similar event in 2 Chronicles 20, where the Moabites and Ammonites came to attack King Jehoshaphat from Edom.

However, it could be that the enemies named are symbolic of all of Israel’s enemies and that the number of enemies, 10, is symbolic of that. 


The Call To Action

The psalmist saw God as silent and inactive despite the crisis Israel faced. Israel often ignored God when things were going well, but desperately called for him to act when they were in trouble and they were not able to get out of in their own strength. 

This is a common malady for people, even those who are believers. We get comfortable in good times and get apathetic, instead of grateful. But when a crisis comes, and we cannot handle it, we suddenly want to be close to God and have him fix the problem for us. Then when it is fixed, we return to apathy. 


Defining the Crisis

The psalmist laid out the problem before God. He identified Israel’s problems as God’s problems. He said “your enemies” and “those who hate you”. 

Israel often wanted to be like the nations around them. They wanted a king because the other nations had one. (1 Samuel 8) They worshipped the pagan God’s of the Caananites despite God’s warning against it. 

Yet, they wanted to be God’s people, especially when they were in trouble. So, the psalmist refers to Israel as “your people” and “your treasured ones”.

The nations surrounding Israel were plotting to wipe them out. They made “crafty plans” and consulted together. (3) Although most nations at the time recognized that the gods of other nations existed, Israel, when it was faithful, did not. They claimed that their God was the only god and all others were fake. They also claimed to be a special people because of their relationship to the one true God. That certainly will make you a target. 

The words “come let us” in verse 4 reminds us of the same words when men got together to build a tower to heaven called the Tower of Babel. That was a rebellion against God and this is a rebellion against God by attacking his people. Verse 8 continues this thought by saying the enemies make a covenant against you, instead of against your people. “Covenant” here is the same as making an alliance of peoples against God. 

The Enemies Listed


Many nations had come together to make a covenant to attack Israel. (5) There were 10 listed by the psalmist.

Edom is listed first as the primary enemy and organizer of the coalition of nations. Edom was the nation founded by Esau. Esau was the son of Isaac and the older twin of Jacob. He sold his birthright (as firstborn) to Jacob for Jacob’s red stew. He was call Edom, which, in Hebrew, sounds like the word for “red”. Edom was a long time enemy of Israel. This enmity was first manifested in the Bible by Edom’s refusal to let Israel pass through its country on the way to Canaan. They came out against Israel to fight them until Israel took another route. (Numbers 20:14-21)

The Ishmaelites were Arabs, descended from Ishmael, the son of Abraham by his wife’s handmaiden, Hagar, who was an Egyptian. (Genesis 16 & 21) The term might include Bedouin tribes who were traders and might include the Midianites, enemies of Israel in the Book of Judges. 

Moab and Ammon were descendants of Lot via incestuous relations with his daughters after fleeing Sodom. (Genesis 19) Moab also opposed Israel during the Exodus, seeking help from the Midianites, who hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel. Moab and Ammon were both countries east of the Jordan. The Ammonites attacked Israel in the time of Jephthah (Judges 11).

The Moabites and the Ammonites are joined by Asshur, called the strong arm of the children of Lot. (8) Asshur is probably Assyria, which, at various times, controlled most of the land east, north, and west of Israel. Moab and Ammon may have been subject to Assyria, which would led them military aid in some circumstances. 

The Hagrites were a tribe north of Israel and east of the Jordan which fought with the tribes of Rueben, Gad, and Manasseh. (1 Chronicles 5:10)

Gebal could either be a city in Lebanon on the coast or a tribe of Edomites that lived south of the Dead Sea. The New International Version has a footnote that indicates Gebal is Byblos, a port city like Tyre. 

Amalek was the grandson of Esau. The Amalekites lived south of Israel in the Negev Desert. (Numbers 13:29) They attacked Israel at Rephidim, right after Moses got water from the rock.They also joined the Midianites to attack Israel in the battle recorded in Judges 6.  

The Philistines lives west of Israel on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. They had 5 principal cities. They invaded Israel in the time of the judges as seen in the story of Samson. King David also had to deal with them. They also seem to be aligned with Tyre, the city state located in present day Lebanon. 

All of nations joined together to attack Israel. They surrounded Israel on all sides. The psalmist knew Israel could not prevail against this coalition without the Lord’s intervention.

Asking God To Repeat The Past


In these verses, the psalmist refers to the Lord’s defeat of past enemies. He asked God to defeat the present coalition of enemies as he defeated enemies in the past. 

The list of defeated enemies come from the book of Judges. Jabin was a king of the Canaanites and Sisera  was the commander of his army. Deborah was the judge of Israel at the time and was a prophetess. She brought Barak and attacked the army of Jabin. Jabin was defeated and a woman killed Sisera by driving a tent stake into his temple. (Judges 4)

Midian had also oppressed Israel. The Lord raised up Gideon to defeat them. (Judges 6) Oreb and Zeeb were princes of Midian. (Judges 7:26) Zebah and Zalmunna were kings of Midian, whom Gideon killed personally. (Judges 8)

The Canaanites and the Midianites both had superior forces to Israel, but God gave Israel the victory. Therefore, the psalmist used them as examples since the current coalition of enemies has much greater forces than Israel. 

The Imprecation


The psalmist went on to ask God to act in judgment against the enemy coalition. He wanted God to treat them as dust or chaff, as weak and useless. He wanted God to terrify them, to shame them forever, and to let them perish in disgrace.

The psalmist ends on a higher note. He appeals to God to act that the enemies may seek his name. (16) Secondly, he wants God to act so that they know that Yahweh is God alone and he is Most High over the earth.

When we feel surrounded, our response should be to call upon God. He is always with us and ready to help us. Psalm 24:2 says “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time and forever more”. 

Monday, April 11, 2022


This psalm does not say when it was written or the exact circumstances that caused the psalmist to write it. There is, however, an interesting parallel. When King Jehoshaphat worked to turn Israel back to the Lord, he appointed judges in the cities. He instructed them to Judge not for man, but for the Lord. They were to judge in the fear of the Lord because there is no injustice with the Lord, or partiality, or taking of bribes. (2 Chronicles 19) 

This psalm indicates the judges did not obey the instructions and failed at their task.  

The Trial


These verses present a picture of God, as king, sitting as a judge. In Old Testament times, kings sat as judges in important cases. The most famous example of this is King Solomon in 1 Kings 3:16-28. Two women came to him to decide whose baby had lived and whose had died. Solomon ordered the baby to be cut in half and the pieces to be given to each woman. This caused the woman who was the real mother to plead for the child to live even if it meant giving him to the other woman. Thus Solomon determined who the real mother was and gave the child to her. Because of this, Israel believed the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.

In this psalm, God takes his place among others to act as judge. (1) The ESV calls the others a “divine council”. The NIV says a “great assembly”. The problem with the word “council” is it implies the others participate in God’s judgment, which is not the case here. The NASB says “his assembly”. The Hebrew word can also be interpreted as the “mighty”. The picture seems to be of God, as the supreme judge, sitting with human judges whom he will judge. 

In the second half of the verse, the psalmist says God sits in judgment in the midst of the “gods”. The word “gods” here is “Elohim”, which is the plural form for the generic word for “god” in Hebrew. The idea of God judging gods has led to several suggestions regarding the identity of these elohim. The word is used in the Old Testament to mean several different things. Here it seems to refer to human judges, who stand in the place of God in their ability to determine the fate of others according to the will of God. They are, thus, accountable to God. Luther, Calvin, Morgan, Meyer, and Boice all take this position. 

God judged the human judges to be unjust. He said they judged unjustly and they show partiality to the wicked. (2) Since human judges were, especially in Old Testament Israel, to reflect God’s justice, God was not pleased.

We know that God is just. All his ways are justice. (Deuteronomy 32:4; Romans 3:26) So, what is justice in God’s character or attributes? In English, righteousness and justice are two different words. But in the Hebrew Old Testament, they both come from one word group. So, righteousness and justice are speaking of the same attribute of God. They mean that God always acts in accordance with what is right and is himself the final standard of what is right. (Isaiah 45:19) 

Whatever conforms to God’s moral character is right or just. Since God is just, he judges justly. And he expects his human judges to do the same. When giving the law to Israel, God said to appoint judges in the land. He told them they could not pervert justice or show partiality or accept bribes. (Deuteronomy 16:19) 

Israel’s judges often did not obey God and they did show partiality. The prophets often rebuked them for this. Here, God rebuked unjust judges through the psalmist. 

How To Judge Justly


Israel was to give justice to the weak and fatherless, the afflicted, and the destitute. But, the wealthy and powerful were able to pervert the justice system and oppress the poor and the weak. They could give bribes or grant favors. They could use peer pressure. And the result was injustice. Those without money or power could not get a ruling in their favor, even when justice called for it. This situation was, and is, displeasing to God. 

God cares about the weak, the poor, and the powerless. He wants justice for them both in every day life and in the courtroom. Deuteronomy 10:18 says God executes justice for the fatherless, the widow, and the sojourner. Part of the tithes of Israel’s produce was given to the sojourner, the fatherless and the widow who could come, eat, and be filled. (Deuteronomy 14:29) There were other provisions for the poor, such as forbidding farmers to harvest the corners of the field do that the poor could glean that grain for their food. 

This idea is carried forward in the New Testament. James 1:27 says the pure religion is to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, meaning to take care of them. Acts 6 shows the early church distributing food daily to widows and appointing deacons to carry out the ministry. 

God’s people represent God and reflect his character. When they are unjust, they profane God’s name and character because they misrepresent him to those who do not know him. 

The Judges Condemned 


Despite, and contrary to, God’s instructions, the human judges have not rendered decisions as God would. They do not have knowledge or understanding and they walk in darkness. This is because they have turned away from God’s standards. 

The description of these human judges is similar to Paul’s description of those who have rejected God. He said their thinking was futile and their foolish hearts darkened. The claimed to be wise, but were actually fools. (Romans 1:21-22) Their actions have shaken the foundations of the earth. 

We see this in our own day as leaders deny the difference between men and women and create other genders in their minds. We see this as laws are not enforced and crime increases. The values and concepts that were considered true for thousands of years are rejected and chaos has ensued. Yet, they continue along the path of darkness and futility. 

Remember Your Mortality


God acknowledged the lofty position of the judges, calling them “gods” and sons of the “Most High” (“sons of God”). This was also a statement that they were acting for him and accountable to him. As a result, they would, despite their status, die as mere men. No matter how much authority they had during life, they were subject to God’s decree that all die as a result of sin. 

Call For God’s Action


The psalmist ends the psalm with a call for God to come and judge the world. The psalmist is weary of the injustice and corruption he sees. He longs for God to establish his reign over all the nations, including Israel. 

We also long to have things made right under the rule of God. And we have that promise. Jesus said he will return and bring his recompense with him to repay each one for what he has done. (Revelation 22:12) He will make all things new. (Revelation 21:5) He will exclude all of those who reject him and his standards from the recreated earth, the New Jerusalem. 

So, as the psalmist said, and as John the apostle wrote, we say “Amen; come Lord Jesus!”. (Revelation 22:20)

Sunday, April 03, 2022


 Call To Worship


This is a call to worship. The psalmist tells Israel to: 

  1. Sing to God with all their strength;
  2. Shout for joy to God, who is in covenant with them, the God of Jacob;
  3. Play instruments, the tambourine, the lyre, and the harp.

The call to worship includes blowing a trumpet to announce the beginning of the festival, which begins on a full moon. The psalm does not tell us what feast is contemplated. But it is one of the feasts required by God, as the psalmist says it is a statute for Israel and a rule of God. 

There is a Feast of Trumpets proscribed in Leviticus 23 and Numbers 19. However, the psalmist said God made it a decree when he went out over the land of Egypt. That refers to the Passover. 

Exodus 12 describes God’s instructions to Israel before he was to kill all of the firstborn of Egypt (the last of the 10 plagues). They were to kill a lamb and put the blood on their door posts. The Lord would see the sacrificial blood and Passover the house, not killing the firstborn. Then they were to prepare a meal, including the lamb roasted on the fire. The Lord declared that they celebrate it as a memorial on the 14th day the 1st month of the Jewish new year. He called it the LORD’s Passover. 

So, it could be that the sounding of the trumpet was just to call attention to the feast so the Israelites would recognize and celebrate as part of their repentance and return to the Lord. The Lord did not command it. 

The Lord Recalls The Exodus 


The psalmist said he heard a language he had not previously known, and is referring to the voice of the Lord. The voice of the psalm then changes in verse 6 from the psalmist to the Lord. The Lord reminds them that he relieved them from slavery. He referred to the shoulder of burden and hands on the basket, recalling the work they did in making bricks and hauling them around. 

Israel had called to him in distress. (7) Moses wrote:

During those many days the king of Egypt dies, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, withIsaac, and with Jacob. (Exodus 2:23-24)

God delivered them. He answered them in the secret place of thunder. (7) This may refer to God bringing them to the mountain, where God spoke to Moses about making a covenant with them. This is detailed in Exodus 19. God descended on Mount Sinai with thundering and lightenings and a trumpet blast. 

God also tested them at Meribah. (7) At Rephidim, where the Israelites camped in the wilderness, there was no water. They complained and quarreled with Moses. It got violent and Moses was afraid they would stone him. When he asked the Lord, the Lord told him to take his staff and strike a rock and water would come out of it. Moses did so and water came out. Moses named the place Meribah, meaning “quarreling” in Hebrew. 

God said he tested them (7) because he took them to a place where they had a need and they did not trust him to provide it.

God’s Warning


God tells them to pay attention while he admonishes them. To admonish is to warn or reprimand. God admonishes them that there is to be no foreign god or strange god for Israel to worship. This is not new; it is a summary of the first two commandments. The very first commandment is that Israel will have no gods other than YHWH. It is the first and most important commandment. The second commandment prohibits the making of idols. (Exodus 20: 3-4)

Verse 8 is the center verse of this psalm. In the English speaking world, the most important sentence is usually at the beginning or end of a poem or paragraph. But the Jews often put the most important line in the middle. This line, verse 8, is also the center verse of the Psalms. So, Israel’s duty to worship the Lord alone is their most important duty.

The reason God gives for his demand for exclusive worship is that he is their redeemer. He redeemed them from Egypt. He is ready to bless them if they will obey him. (10) This is the same reason given for the command in the Ten Commandments. The Commandments begin with God saying “I am the LORD (YHWH) your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Exodus 20:1)

It is the same for believers today. Christ is the one who redeemed us. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses. (Ephesians 1:7) Therefore, we obey, follow, and worship him only. We do not follow other gods, including extra-Biblical definitions of God. We do not have the privilege of defining God in any way other than as the Bible defines him. That is making an idol. And it happens frequently today. It usually starts with someone saying “well, my God would not…”. 

God’s Lament


God said that his people did not listen to his voice. In the Old Testament, God spoke to Israel through the law and the prophets. Many prophets rebuked Israel in the name of God for their idolatry. Israel responded by killing them or putting them in prison, or ignoring them. 

Jesus told the Jews that they would be accountable to God for the prophets they killed. He said “…the blood all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.” (Luke 11:50-51)

As punishment for their disobedience, God gave them over to their stubborn hearts and their own counsel, or wisdom. (12) Usually the worst thing God can do is let us go our own way rather than his way. Certainly, for Israel, it was devastating. Their city was destroyed, along with the temple, and the survivors were taken away into captivity. 

Mankind in general rejects God, does not listen to him, and does not obey him. Romans 1 speaks of this. As humanity rejected God, they became futile in their thinking and their hearts were darkened. They became foolish and turned to idols. (Romans 1:21-22)  Because of this, God gave them up to their sin and unrighteousness. This applies to Jews and to Gentiles (non-Jews). The only remedy is Christ, who died for our sins. Because of our faith in him, God has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:13)

God still offered grace to Israel at the time of this psalm. He said that if Israel would listen to him and walk in his ways (obey him), he would again defend them against their enemies and provide the best for them. 

God provides grace for humanity today also. He sent his son to die for our sins so that we may have eternal life by believing in him. (John 3:16)