||Bible from 30,000 Feet, The
||Destination: Psalms 1-72
Good Evening! Well, tonight we are in The Book of Psalms. If you turn to The Book of Psalms, Psalm 1, we will set out to look at the first 72 of those Psalms tonight. Let's have a word of prayer.
"Father, thank you for your mercy, thank you for your kindness. So many blessings; if we were to count the thoughts that you have for us even as the Psalm is too clear, they would be more in number than the saints. It really is all about you. The singing, special music, Bible study, it's not about us or how we feel or what it does as much as about you and our lives pleasing you. We play Lord that we would live holy lives to glorify you. Thank you for your commitment to growing us through every stage of our lives and to develop us into the image of your son, Jesus Christ. So Lord, would you bless your people as they have gathered here tonight and made this commitment to learn and to respond to your kindness in their lives? Would you meet us here over the pages? Even though if it's a fly-by and it's an overview, teach us, instruct us and draw us close to you in Jesus name. Amen."
Turn now to one of your best friends, The Book of Psalms. I say it's one of your best friends because I know you already know this, but here is the book where your heart learns to commune with God. Saints in every period of redemptive history, including this period, turned frequently to The Book of Psalms for strength, courage, encouragement as well as direction for our lives. The old Rabbis called it Ha Sefer Tehillim, The Book of Praises.
I want to make sure that's right. I have got a Israeli citizen, is that right? Okay, very good. It's right. So he is from Tel-Aviv and if it was wrong, he wouldn't look at me. Now he wouldn't do that. It's the book of praises and what it is? It's poetry set to song, set to music, accompanied by music.
The book of Psalms was written over a 1,000 year period. Get that, over a 1,000 year period. The oldest Psalm was written by Moses, Psalm 90. All the way through the times of David, post David, all the way through the captivity and songs after the return from the captivity, like Psalm 126. So there is a lot of contributions and altogether it spends about a thousand years.
It's the longest book in the Bible, 150 chapters. As the longest book it also, you should know, has the longest chapter. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. There are 176 verses in that single chapter. It also has the shortest chapter in all of the Bible, Psalm 117. There are only two verses in that chapter. It's a very short Psalm. By the way, that is the middle of the Bible. If we were to divide the Bible up in terms of it's chapters, Psalm 117 is right in the middle of the Bible.
The Book of Psalms was the ancient hymn book for temple worship. Great expressions of praise. In fact, the word praise occurs a 175 times in this book. Now something to make note of. Some of the Psalms, rather than beginning with the verse itself, verse 1, verse 2, they begin with a superscription or preliminary information. Like it tells you who wrote it, not all but some of who wrote it, or they would tell the situation going on when the Psalm was written, or it will give you liturgical instruction for the worship leader, or the type of beat it's to be sung to. There are some instructions in a 116 of these Psalms.
Who wrote the Book of Psalms, any guesses? David wrote some of them, almost half. He wrote 73 that we know of. Those are the ones he signed. Those are the ones that have his name at the beginning, "Written by David", "A Psalm of David". 73 or nearly half of the Psalms were written by David, but there are several other authors. At least, seven or more contributors. David wrote 73, Solomon writes 2, sons of Korah write 12. There is a guy by the name of Heman, there is a guy by another name that I can't remember at this time. There is Asaph who wrote another 12. There is Moses, as I said, who wrote one. There are at least seven contributors to the Book of Psalms.
The theme, pretty easy to figure out, it's worship, it's worship. The key theme in the Book of Psalms is worship but I don't want to stop with that. Here is really the key theme of the Book of Psalms, worship in every single circumstance of life. Now that's different. It's not worship on Sundays or worship on Sabbath, it's worship in every circumstance and situation in life. From the boardroom to the bedroom to the battlefield, everything a person goes through, we are to bring that experience into the presence of God.
In fact, I want you to look at Psalms this way. Psalms is the book where you have two intersections or two realities of life intersect. Now follow me on this. You have two different planes operating simultaneously, the horizontal and the vertical. The horizontal, how we deal with each other. This is our daily life situation. It's the temporal reality. That's the horizontal plane. But also the vertical plane, the eternal reality, the transcendent reality and the temporal reality intersect in the Book of Psalms.
That's an important concept because in the Book of Psalms, you have lots of writings about pain, and suffering, and discouragement, and depression and disillusionment. It's a very honest, bare book. It never denies that. It embraces all of those circumstances. While at the same time declaring the great truths, the unchanging truths that the authors know about God.
There are a 150 Psalms, we said that. It's tough to outline this book. So I am not going to outline the book independent of how it is traditionally been outlined. If you do that, it's pretty easy to see how it's broken up. The Book of Psalms has not one book but five separate books put into the Book of Psalms, five different books. Book1 is Psalm 1 to Psalm 41, that comprises Book 1. Book 2 is Psalm 42 through 72, that's the second book in the Book of Psalms. The third book, Book 3 is Psalm 73 to Psalm 89. Book 4 is Psalm 90 to 106. The final, Book 5 is Psalm 107 to Psalm 150.
There are five Books of Psalms. How do we know that? Because each of those books ends with a doxology very similar and sounding where it's a liturgical form of praise. It's evident that, that book is coming to a close and a new one is beginning. If you just look at it literally, you can see how the book ends and a new one opens.
So there are five Books of Psalms in this book. I am bringing that up because over the years, through the ages, the Hebrew scholars tell us that the five Books of Psalms have a correspondence to the first five Books of Moses, the Pentateuch. In fact, there is an old Rabbinical saying, "just as Moses gave us five books of the law, David gave us five books of praise." They even corresponded even further.
They say that Psalm 1 through 41, Book 1 is called the Genesis Collection because the theme, they say, is more about man and man's relationship with God. In the second book, they called it the Exodus Theme because there is the theme of deliverance that is written through that. Then the third book, the Numbers Collection because there is an emphasis on the sanctuary, as many of them written by Asaph and were instructed in the temple and the sanctuary of God. The fourth book corresponds to the Book of Numbers because some of the great themes are unrest and disorganization. Then finally, the last section corresponds to the Book of Deuteronomy because the emphasis is on the word, the word and it’s restated as it is in Deuteronomy.
So let's begin with Psalm 1 and I will tell you what I am going to do tonight. I am just going to highlight because there really is no organization or breakdown of this book other than those five sections. I am going to just surface some of the most well known Psalms and we will take a look at them and learn from them in the rest of our time together. Psalm 1, got to start there. "Blessed or Oh! How happy is the man or woman"; man meaning generic mankind; "who walks not in the council of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD. In his law, he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore, the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish."
One of the important features of this ancient hymn book is that it’s filled with rich theology, some of the great doctrines of the Bible. In fact, I would say, all of the great doctrines of the Bible are inferred or are written up directly in the Book of Psalms. I love that. It’s so reflective of the ancient styles of worship. Even if you went post Old Testament of God and into the some of the early New Testament hymnology and even some of the middle ages, the ancient hymns are so different than a lot of modern choruses that don't really get that deep. It’s all about the beat and the happiness and the coolness. There is a depth of theology, it is written in these ancient hymns.
The Book of Psalms is a book of poetry and the poetry section of the Bible begins with Job. I said I had mentioned it this week; and continues with Psalms and goes on to proverbs. But when you think of poetry, you got a think of it very differently. Biblical poetry is very different than modern American poetry. This is what I mean. For us, modern poetry is all about the rhyming, the parallel of sounds. You hear a sound and then at the end of the next stanza, the sound repeats itself. So you have a parallel sound structure; or its about rhythm, a parallel cadence or parallel meter.
I give you a crude example, "Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pale of water. Jack went down ......" That's the rhyming in a primitive sense. In Hebrew poetry, paralleling sounds aren’t important, paralleling meter isn't important. What is important is paralleling thoughts, paralleling ideas or contrasting ideas. That form of poetry is known as Hebrew Parallelism, Hebrew Parallelism. That is how this whole section of the Bible is written. Jobs, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon. It’s written in poetic fashion and most of you have modern translations of the Bible. You notice just looking at the page, the over line and then offset is another line, then offset is another line. They are showing you the poetic structure of ancient Hebrew Parallelism.
So they work is couplets. Couplets, a phrase and then another phrase. Sometimes you will have a phrase written and then another phrase that supports it, or you will have a phrase written and the subsequent or second phrase contradicts it or builds on it. So keep following me here. If the second thought supports the first thought, we call that Synonymous Parallelism. You are going to have to write that down because you will never remember this by the time we drink Turkish coffee next week. Synonymous Parallelism; the second thought supports and even expands a little bit the first thought. You can see that, look at verse 2. I am still on Psalm 1, "His delight is in the law of the LORD and in his law, he meditates day and night". There are two stanzas of the same verse and the second one supports the first one. That's Synonymous Parallelism.
Now if you have the second thought in the couplet contradicting or contrasting the first thought, we call that Antithetical Parallelism, or you can just write Contrast Parallelism, if you want to but it’s called Antithetical Parallelism. The second idea is opposite the first. Look at verse 6, for an example of that. "For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish." You see how the second little stanza is a contrast to the first, that's Antithetical Parallelism.
Okay, ready for the third. We will beyond this just in a minute. If the second and the third and sometimes the fourth or more builds like stairs upon the first thought, we call that Stairlike Parallelism; or if you want to get technical, Climactic Parallelism. Look at verse 1, you will see the example. "Blessed is the man who walks not in the council of the ungodly." Here's the second part, "nor stands in the path of sinners." Here's the third, "nor sits in the seat of the scornful." See how each thought is building upon the very first one. It didn't do it once, it does it twice, repeating and expanding. Sometimes, you will find that more and more and more.
So I am alerting you to the different types of structure throughout Hebrew poetry. So here comes a question. How do I interpret the poetical section of the Bible? How do you interpret Hebrew poetry? Because after all, we are reading lyric sheets is what we are doing. It’s like the lyric sheet in a CD, reading a 150 lyric modules of the songbook of Israel. So you want to read it, yes, with your mind but you really want to read it with feeling and with your heart, and see what emotion the Lord puts on your heart, because I find for me, the Book of Psalms helps me pray and communicate to God better than any other section or scripture. I would like to listen to what the Psalm it says and how he crafts that. That, sort of, craft my own very similar expression to the Lord, very helpful as a primer or prompter for me to pray.
So when you interpret poetry, number 1, I said there are couplets, right? There is couplets. So you want to analyze each line of the couplet two of them or if there is three or four that are connected like stairs, you want to examine those independently. You want to then see the relationship and look for keywords, like "and" or "but". Then now you know it’s contrasting or "so that". You want to look for some of those keywords that show you that relationship.
Number 2, look for figures of speech because it’s poetry, there is going to be a lot of figures of speech. You have to be careful that you don't become so wooden and so literal in your interpretation, that you become like weird because you will find expressions, that says, "The shadow of God's wings". It doesn't mean he has wings. In fact, I could just say unequivocally, he didn't have wings, he is not a chicken. So "The shadow of God's wings" is a figure of speech or "The Lord is my rock". He is not a marble or granite, it’s a figure of speech. So be alerted for those.
Number 3, when you go through the Psalms, consider the style of the Psalmist. You will read through the Book of Psalms and you will read different kinds of language. Sometimes, the language is violent language and it reflects the honest feeling of the writer. It is not necessarily reflective of the heart of God, but God is giving to us the scripture. Inherently, we have the exact thing the author wrote without error from the original manuscripts, but it isn't necessarily what God thinks. For instance, we have Job cursing the day of his birth, questioning if God exists. We have Satan speaking in Job. You don't want to take those verses and quote them as life verses. You have to think who is saying it.
I bring that up because you are going to come to certain Psalms called Imprecatory Psalms. Imprecatory Psalms, like Psalm 58, Psalm 59 or parts of it. Well, David in Psalm 58 says concerning his enemies, "Lord, break their teeth in their mouths". That's how he feels. That's an interesting prayer, isn’t it? But that's David's heartfelt expression to the Lord. It’s not the heart of God to break everybody's teeth in their mouth. You have to keep in mind when you interpret the author behind it. Look at Psalm 2 now and don't worry, we are not going to be doing this, they are 150 of them. But if Psalm 1 is Anthropocentric. I am sorry, I am throwing out all of these terms but you get it. It’s man centered. Anthropos, Anthropology. If Psalm 1 is Anthropocentric, then Psalm 2 is Theocentric, it’s God centered. It’s Gods’ response in heaven to mans’ rebellion upon the earth. Also, Psalm 2 is Messianic.
Psalm 2 is the first of a whole bunch of Psalms that we call Messianic Psalms. Here's what I mean. You read you a certain Psalm and as you read through it, you realize there is no way ever that the author himself in human form could ever have experienced what's written here. Even though David wrote some of these Psalms, there are certain psalms that there was no life experience David ever had that fulfills what is written there. So it must mean something else. Even the ancient Rabi'ah saw, it must mean something different. It must point to our future Messiah.
Many Rabi'ahs of the past, including I might add Rabi'ah Rashid, who in the 11th century looked at this fervor of Messianic Judaism and wanted to reinterpret what the Rabi'ahs were saying about certain scriptures, saying "Well, they are really not Messianic." Even he said, "Psalm 2 is clearly a Messianic Psalm." The New Testament would at chapter 4, Hebrew’s chapter 1, Hebrew’s chapter 5, the book of revolution quote Psalm 2 as being fulfilled in Christ.
Now let's look at it, Psalm 2. Why do the nations rage and the people plot a wane thing? The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take council together against the Lord and against his anointed saying, "Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us. He who sits in heaven shall laugh. The Lord shall hold them in derision." So the Psalmist first talks about the rebellion of the nations as if to say the nations for me unified front rebelling against God. Here is God in heaven, he makes people on the earth. Their response, according to Psalm 2, is to reject God. They are going to organize together and form this organized front to defy God. It's sort of like a worldwide ACOU conference, that's described in these verses.
Not only that, it's not some generic rebellion. It's a very specific rebellion against Christ. Look at verse 2, "Against the lord and against His anointed"; you see the word anointed; "in Hebrew Messiah". We get a word "Messiah" from it. If you were to translating this into the Greek, you would write "and against His Christos, He is Christ." So the rebellion here isn't against just spirituality, it's against Jesus Christ.
Now we live in a den age where this is perfectly true. In our culture, it's okay to be mildly spiritual, generically concerned about the spirit world, the after life. There is an opera, kind of, spirituality that is very popular these days. You can be into anything, all the way from that to the new age, but there are two words that aren't okay. Jesus Christ, those two words seem to really good people irked, the anointed of God, the Christos, the Messiah.
It's really interesting, haven't you noticed this that people never swear by Buda. You ever hear somebody go hit their thumb with a hammer, "Oh! Buda" or "Oh! Mohammad" It's always the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. What could be behind that? Well, maybe there is a answer in Psalm 2. So that's the rebellion of the nations, followed by, look in the next couple of verses, the response of the father, verse 4, "He who sits in heaven shall laugh. The Lord shall hold them in derision. He shall speak to them in His wrath and distress them in His deep displeasure. Yet I have set my king on my holy hill of Zion." So what's Gods’ response to man’s rebellion. Does God cringe in the corners? Does God hide? Does God go, "Oh no! They don’t like me, what I am going to do?".
So God laughs. He is so secure in being God that he laughs. Now again, I take this as a figure of speech. I don't know it’s the only thing is God is up there slapping as he cracking up at all the sinful rebellion of man and it could breaks his heart. But to show the contrast of man’s rebellion, to show the sovereignty and the security of God, this figure of speech is employed. Now let's go on and look at the rule of the son. Look what is mentioned here. "Yet I have set my king on my holy hill of Zion, I will declare the decree. The Lord has said to me, you are my son. Today I have begotten you." I think this is speaking of His first coming, the incarnation.
"Ask of me and I will give you the nations", the ones who are rebelling against God "for your inheritance and the ends of the earth for your possession." I believe this is the second coming, his glorification and reign. "You shall break them with a rod of iron, you shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel." So how does God respond to man's rebellion besides being very confident in His Godness. So it could be said that he laughs, He will send His son. His son will come once and pay for sin and his son will come back again and rule in reign over the world, that once rejected him. Then finally, look at the last two verses. Now therefore, "be wise, O Kings, be instructed you judges of the earth. Serve the lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry. You perish in the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in him."
Now I tell you I see this as the role of The Holy Spirit. It’s an unnamed narrator and if you look at Psalm 2 structurally; we just don't have enough time to belabor this to too much more. But there is different ones that are talking and interacting and there is this narrator that begins and a narrator that ends. He is unnamed, he is not the Father in heaven, he is not the son whom the world is told to kiss. He is just someone gentle loving, but definite way, leading people to Jesus Christ. "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry." I see that as a powerful illustration of The Holy Spirit whose job, Jesus said, was to appoint people, draw people to Jesus.
So here is a great example of a Messianic Psalm. start looking for them. There are about 16 different Messianic Psalms. In fact, I tell you why this is important. Because the new testament recognizes what I just said. You will find the Book of Psalms quoted more in the New Testament than any other single Old Testament book. It’s so often quoted, Jesus quoted, it’s beginning of his ministry, the end of his ministry, the writers of the New Testament as well, they are quoted. The most quoted Psalm of all is Psalm 110. The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool". That's also a Messianic Psalm.
Well, let's, moving right along here, look at Psalm 19. Turn a few pages, Psalm 19. I am happy you turned to this Psalm because here is a great example of how God speaks to people. I wish God would speak to me more often. Where is God? He is so quiet up there, he is so silent, he hides himself. That's what Issiah said. How does God speak to us? This Psalm tells us exactly how God speaks to us, through what we call natural revelation, Sun, Moon, Stars, Earth, plants, flowers and special revelation, his word.
Look at the first verse 1, "The heavens declare the glory of God. The firmament shows His handywork. Day unto day, uttereth speech, night unto night reveals knowledge." There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world. In them, he has set a tabernacle for the sun which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race. It’s rising, he is from one end of heaven, it circuit to the other end and there is nothing hidden from its heat. So David says, he is the one who wrote this, that the heavens are talking, that the heavens, the creation is revealing to us something about God; or in his words, they utter a speech.
The Bible, not only here but also in Romans and other places, would say that God's power is so obvious in nature that it should lead people to the knowledge that their must be a creator behind this magnificent system that we see. There must be, that man, according to Paul in Romans, are without excuse because of God's creation and revealing of Him in creation. I will paraphrase this whole thing. You look up in the sky and you see that magnificent art that God has hung in the heavens. If the art looks that cool, what must the artist be like? That's the thought of this Psalm. It reveals God's glory, God's power but that's not all, verse 7.
Now we go to Special Revelation. The law of the Lord is perfect, didn't say creation is, the law of the Lord is perfect. Tahmeen is the word, complete, sound, whole, converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure making why is this simple? "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure enlightening the eyes, the fear of the Lord is clean and enduring forever, the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than goal, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover, by them your servant is warned and in keeping them, there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins. Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless and I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord! My strength and my redeemer."
Here is the flow of the Psalm. You are outside, you check out the heavens, the moon, the stars, all of them reveal something about God to you, but they don't reveal enough to you. They don't reveal enough about God. So that's why people can't say "I don't go to church and read my Bible like other Christians. I go camping. I get up in the stars and I see God and I feel God and I smell God. God is everywhere." You can't do that. You can't do that and grow. If you are a believer in Christ, you can't say that. Here is why.
Yeah, the heaven speak and what they tell you, God's powerful, God's glorious. But they don’t tell you anything about the love of God. They don’t tell you anything about the humility of God in sending his son to pay for the real problem in our lives, the sin issue. The heavens don't tell you that, creation didn't tell you that. It only speaks of a certain aspect of his nature. You want the rest of the story, you got to go to Special Revelation. The word, the law, the testimonies, they are perfect. They are complete. So the heavens are great but they leave out a lot. There is a lot about God we don't learn, thus we need Special Revelation.
Peter II put it this way, "We were eye witnesses of his majesty. We saw his son with our own eyes. We ourselves heard the voice that came from heaven" but then he said "but we have a more sure word of prophesy. There is something even clearer and more reliable than what I see with my eyes or hear with my ears and that is His perfect, unchanging word".
Psalm 22, another Messianic Psalm, an incredible psalm. If you haven't read it, you will recognize it from reading the New Testament. Jesus uttered the first verse on the cross "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me? And from the words of my groaning" Remember that was the fourth of the seven declarations of Christ from the cross, verse 7. "All those who see me, ridicule me. They shoot out the lip, they shake their head saying, he trusted in the Lord, let him rescue him, let him deliver him, since he delights in him."
Verse 14, "I am poured out like water. All my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax, it has melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd and my tongue clings to my jaws. You have brought me to the dust of death, for dogs have surrounded me. The congregation of the wicked has enclosed me. They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look and stare at me. They divide my garments among them and for my clothing they cast lots".
You should know something. There are some people that read this and they try really hard to fit this into some episode of David's life. People have real hard time doing that but they try really hard. This must be David writing about some he is going through. But we can't find any episode that is parallel to that description; or they say, "Well, maybe David was writing about somebody else, we don't know about"; or somebody will say, "it was written later on, during the time of the Maccabees, the Maccabean period about the struggles that were going on."
But when we turn to the New Testament and we hear it quoted, we find it fits perfectly. In fact, the Psalmist writes in Psalm 22, a clearer description of crucifixion than anything we find in the New Testament. Now here is what's weird about that. Piercing my hands and the feet and the whole episode during the crucifixion; if we had time, we would elaborate on it. We don't but it's the most complete description of crucifixion we have, even from something in the New Testament. When this was written, crucifixion hadn't even been invented. It wouldn't be invented for hundreds of years. The Persians would invent it, the Romans would prefect it and utilize it, sort of, as a mainstream punishment. But this is an incredible description written in advance of crucifixion.
Psalm 23. Who doesn't know Psalm 23? It's one of our favorite Psalms. In fact, even Pagans know and love this Psalm. It's everywhere, probably the most famous. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, "this is the peril of all of the Psalms that delights every eye." But I think it's a very misunderstood Psalm. Here is why. Typically, when you think of Psalm 23, it's usually read when? Funerals, when people die. That's because that little phrase "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death."
But it's really not a Psalm about death, it's a Psalm about life. It tells you more about how to live your life. Even when you brush closely the shadow of death, you are still walking through it, you are not being carried by pallbearers, you are alive. It has a lot more to do with people living than someone who has died. So I say, it's a misunderstood Psalm. It's about a person's relationship with the great shepherd while they are alive.
"The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his namesake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever".
The figure of speech, the picture of a shepherd is one of the most beloved and biblical of all illustrations of how God's people relate to God in it. Even Jesus loved that. "I am the good shepherd. My sheep hear my voice." David being a shepherd would have naturally loved this analogy. "The Lord is my shepherd." David understood this principle because he kept sheep. David understood. I have been around sheep, I watch them. The quality of life of a sheep is directly proportional to the care of the shepherd. You have got a lousy shepherd, you are going to live a lame life as a sheep. You have got a cool, great, awesome, protective, loving shepherd, you are going to have a great life.
But if the Lord is my shepherd, that makes me a sheep. Now I don't know what you know about sheep, but if you know a lot about sheep, you could be insulted by this comment. "Hey! Wait a minute. God is calling me a sheep because what I know about sheep is they are pretty dumb. Unless you lead them, they are going to die. I resent that." You shouldn't, you shouldn't resent it. You and I represent it. I mean we utterly depend and need him.
Instead of reading comments like it says this in the Bible that really highlight human natures needing God because we are lame without him. What he'll auto make you do is what I believe it did for David. I think when David said "the Lord is my shepherd", he was bragging. He is like a little sheep telling all the other sheep in the other beings, "Hey! You guys, look who my shepherd is. My shepherd is better than your shepherd. I have got God as my shepherd".
That's sort of like pet owners. You see dogs, some of them are really pampered and they dress him up in sweaters and little belts and foo-foo. It's like, they go overboard, they are getting like gourmet meals and they take him to psychologist when they are stressed out. I am serious, they do this in California at least. Okay, so you go, that's nuts, right, that's like overboard, these are crazy people.
But contrast that to the dog owner who never walks the dog, never grooms the dog, never cleans up the backyard, hardy spends any time with the dog. You are going, yeah, so what? Okay. If you are a dog, which owner would you want? I will take the first one, don't care about the sweaters and the bells, but if he is going to care for me that much, I want him to be my owner.
Here David is going the Lord is my shepherd. This is what He does. This is how He pampers me. This is how He takes care of me. And I am restored. So surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.
Now, go over to Psalm 32. And you know we are not going through all the Psalms tonight, we are going to stop at the Second Book of Psalms, which is the end of Psalm 72.
But Psalm 32. Psalm 32 has a relative, its called a cousin. Psalm 51 and Psalm 32 go together, they dovetail together. They were written by David after the exact same thing. Circumstance. David sins with Bathsheba; we have already covered that story, kills Uriah the Hittite after committing adultery with his wife Bathsheba. She is pregnant. He doesn't confess it for like a whole year till Nathan the Prophet; remember Second Samuel 12, points a finger at him and says, you are the guy, you are the dude. David gets all paranoid. After that he writes Psalm 32 and Psalm 51.
Psalm 32:1, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For night and day Your hand was heavy upon me." That's conviction. "My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah."
Now remember, David did all those things we mentioned; murder, adultery, all that stuff, deceit, and he sat on it, for a whole year he didn't tell anybody. He thought, I will get away with it. A whole year went by before Nathan the Prophet said, I know your little secret.
Okay. So think about David's mind. What's going on in David's mind for a year? Do you think David, every night during that year before he confessed, thought, man, life is good. I got away with that. I got what I want. No problem, I go home every night to just sleep filled comforting nights? No way. David tells you exactly how he felt. He was distraught. When I kept silent my bones grew old through my groaning all day long. He didn't have guilt free enjoyable living.
Here is the point I want to make. Sin is bad for your health. It is, not just bad, its bad because it breaks relationship with God. Its bad for your health. Worry, fear, stress. The worst of all is the feeling, the sense of alienation from God. That feeling of being alone and isolated. A fellowship that sweetness has been broken, and you know it. And it's not like, oh well, whatever. You sense that, you carry it around.
Somebody once said, God's wheels grind slowly but they grind exceedingly fine. His hand was heavy upon me. I felt the grinding of conviction.
But look at Verse 5. This is where it all breaks. "I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said I will confess my transgression to the Lord and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah."
"For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely in a flood of great waters they shall not come near Him. You are my hiding place; remember that song. You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance."
So we remember that story, don't we? This is the time when Nathan came in and went, hey Dave, let me tell you a little story. There is something weird going on, there is this guy, he has got all these flocks and herds, and there is this poor guy, he has one sweet little lamb, its like a pet to him, and this rich guy decided my buddy is coming over for dinner, get that poor man's lamb and kill it for supper.
David got all red faced and angry, he goes, kill that guy. Nathan said, you are the man. I was just telling you a cute little story. What that little guy did in that cute little story that just pales in comparison, you did to a man's wife. How many wives you have got David, you had to take another man's wife?
David felt that conviction. He finally burst open and he confessed his sins. He said, I have sinned before God, but as painful as it was, it brought relief.
Now go to Psalm 59, Psalm 59. I take you to this Psalm because get ready, it's a little unusual, it's part Imprecatory Psalm; remember that word we said a few minutes ago, precatory. He is going to call down heavy stuff on him.
David is harassed by his enemies. There is external opposition. Look how it begins, that little inscription to begin with. The information is given to the chief musician. Set to Do Not Destroy. So remember that song, and the musician will go yeah, I know the beat to that song, I know the chords to that song. So David says play it that way.
A Michtam of David, when Saul sent men, and they watched the house in order to kill him. What he is referencing is First Samuel, Chapter 19. David is on the run from Saul. He is a fugitive. He is being hunted by his father-in-law like a wild animal.
Now, I will tell you how it all started, just to refresh your memory so you get the background of this. It all started when little David decided to believe in God for the killing of a giant ogre named Goliath. He heard Goliath mouthing off and the people of Israel, the armies cowering, and David said, who is this uncircumcised Philistine mouthing off to God? He goes, let me at him. I will go out there. I trust God.
And you remember he came and he said, you come here with your big sword and your big helmet and your big shield, I come to you in the name of the living God, and you have ticked Him off. I am paraphrasing quite a bit. Whose armies you have defied. I am going to feed your carcass to the birds of the air today.
You go whoa, this little guy has guts. Well, he kills Goliath, he becomes very famous. And as he becomes famous all the girls in Israel start singing praises. And there was this song, I think it made the top ten list, top of the songs that month in Israel, and the lyrics bothered Saul. Here is why. The lyric went this way, Saul has slain his thousands and David has slain his tens of thousands.
If you are Saul and you hear that, what do you think? Oh, I hate that song. I hope it like fails and gets all the way down to the bottom of the chart really quick. But it was very famous. And from that day on he eyed with jealousy David. Try to kill him. Pin the spear on the musician.
David ducked, ran out, and he was a fugitive for ten years; that's the setting of this.
Psalm 59:1, "Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; Defend me from those who rise up against me."
Notice, this prayer is specific, specific. Remember that when you pray, don't be generic. Be specific. Not, Oh Lord, bless, lead, guide and direct everyone, everything, right now, everywhere.
Psalm 59:2, Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, And save me from bloodthirsty men. " ie, Saul and his clan.
Psalm 59:3, "For look, they lie in wait for my life; The mighty gather against me, Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord."
There is something else I want you to notice about this prayer. Not only was it specific, get this, this prayer was appraised. It was appraised. Here's what I mean. When he is praying to God he is appraising the situation that's going on and what he wants God to do. He is thinking carefully. He is appraising it. He is saying, wait a minute, as I am praying I recognize that those enemies hate me though I really haven't done anything. So I am considering the source, as I consider the source, they have got a personal agenda. They are not acting in a godly way. It helps me have real confidence right now when I talk to God. It was specific. It was appraised.
Psalm 59:4, "They run and prepare themselves through no fault of mine. Awake to help me, and behold!"
Psalm 59:11, now get this. "Do not slay them, lest my people forget; Scatter them by Your power, bring them down, O Lord our shield."
Psalm 59:12, "For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips, Let them even be taken in their pride, And for the cursing and lying which they speak."
Psalm 59:13, "Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be; and let them know that God rules in Jacob to the ends of the earth. Selah."
Now I want you to notice this about the prayer. It was honest. It was very, very honest. He is saying, and I am going to paraphrase, blow them out of the water. In fact, allow me to read those last couple of verses in a translation by Eugene Peterson called The Message. Listen how colorful he puts it.
"Don't make a quick work of them your way, lest my people forget. Bring them down in slow motion. Take them apart piece by piece. Finish them off in fine style. Finish them off for good."
That sounds like Don Corleone is praying this prayer, right? Oh God, I want you to take them down. This is a mafia prayer.
I am having you notice this on purpose, because this is a worship song, this is a worship song. This was used in the temple. David even said, put that music on it. It's in the Bible. It's amazing what you find in the scripture. His prayer was specific, his prayer was appraised, his prayer was honest.
When you talk to God, you can be honest. He can handle it. I didn't mean He will do it. I think God is hearing David pray this and God's like going, okay, I will do that, I will torture them for you.
But what I am saying is this, Charles Spurgeon said "There is not a care in the world or a thought in the world that I would not pour into the heart and into the ears of God." God has heard it all before. God knows what you are feeling. You can express honestly your feeling to God. You don't have to tell anybody else that.
I guess there is a second lesson in this Psalm and that is, you don't want to hassle people who walk with God, because they might just pray that on you, right? I read this, yeah, I wouldn't want to mess with David.
I want to end that Second Book, Psalm 72. I want you to look at just the last few verses. Remember I said each of the five book of Psalms ends with a doxology, that is a liturgical form of praise to God.
So the end begins of Book 2, Verse 18, Psalm 72. Interesting how it ends, and by the way, Book 1 ends just like Book 2 does. "Bless God. Bless the Lord". It ends just like it begins.
So I am on, Blessed is the man who walks, not in the council may godly, it ends, Blessed is the Lord. "Blessed be the Lord God, The God of Israel, who only does wondrous things and blessed be His glorious name forever. Let the whole world be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen."
"The prayers of David, the son of Jesse are ended."
We will finish the rest of the book of Psalms next week and enjoy Turkish coffee and hamantaschen, but couple of thoughts I would like to tie together, threads I would like to tie up before you leave. Some lessons that we learned in the Book of Psalms.
Lesson number one; these are overall lessons now in Psalms. The lesson of consistency. As I read through the book of Psalms, I read what Solomon wrote, what David wrote, what Hemen wrote, what Asaph wrote, what the sons of Korah wrote, this is what I discovered. There is a consistency. That God is brought into every area of life and everything a person goes through is related somehow to praise and worship with God.
The psalmists do not relegate their worship of God to a once-a-week experience. I say that because there's a lot of people who do exactly that. This is my church life as opposed to my social life, which really doesn't reflect any values of my church life. So I am one person here, one person there, and then I have got my work life. Instead of seeing all of life beautifully integrated and brought under the submission of God.
Number two, we learn transparency. We just saw that back in Psalm 59. You can pour anything on your heart into the ears of God.
Here is something I want to leave you with, I think you will resonate with this. We also learn in the Book of Psalms reality. We learn reality. We learn it just because you are a believer, it doesn't mean you are not going to go through very dark valleys of the shadow of death, deep dark times of depression. Every now and then I will run to somebody who says, if you are truly a Christian you will never be sad, you will be never be depressed. I am thinking, what planet are you from?
I said, have you ever read the Book of Psalms? You read the Book of Psalms and in one Psalm, David is like, I praise the Lord with all my heart, I just want to die, but I still praise the Lord. He is like, he is all over the map, and you know what, we take comfort in that.
Oh boy, these psalms reflect real life. It's reality here. So if you think, boy, I have had a real struggle lately as a believer, something must be really wrong with me, you take comfort in the Book of Psalms. You take comfort in this book.
There was a hymn writer years ago name Frances, Ridley is the middle name, Havergal; I knew it was Havergal, Frances Ridley Havergal. She wrote a great song; several of them, one of the most famous is, Take my life, and let it be. Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Most people think that she was probably happy-go-lucky person. She wasn't a happy person, she was by nature a very dower sower depressed person. She felt really bad, and the biographers who write about her said that she would often look at her own life and be over sensitive to her own faults, just look down on herself. I can't believe on this, I am horrible I am this way.
Until one day she was reading 1 John and she was reading it in the original Greek; so she was an educated lady. She was reading 1 John in original Greek. First John 1:7 that says, "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ keeps on cleansing us from all sin." That's the sense of the Greek verb, continually keeps on cleansing us.
She read that and it was like an epiphanal powerful moment in the word. Suddenly she decided, instead of looking at my faults and looking at life because of my faults, I am not going to be sad because of my faults. I am going to be happy because of my faith in the one who covers and forgives my sins and my faults. It was just like a whole focus change from the word.
So many of the psalms she drew from the experiences of David and others as food for some of those great expressions of worship. So the book tells us about reality. It reflects some of our own experiences as well.
Let's pray together. Heavenly Father, even as David said, the end of that Second Book, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who does wondrous things." Thank you Lord that spiritual people, sometimes very spiritual people, go through deep dark seasons of suffering, dark valleys, even the valley of the shadow of death, thank You for the comfort, thank You for the courage, and thank You for the direction that we find in these 150 songs, the lyrics sheets of the ancient worshipers. We bless You, we praise You and we thank You for your body gathering together to be encouraged. In Jesus' name, Amen.