Psalm 90 is a particularly unique one; at face value it appears relatively similar to the others which extol the greatness of God, underscore the sins of His people, and plead for His mercy and pity. As is always the challenge when writing blog after blog, I tried to find a unique angle on whatever Psalm I’m assigned but was having a rather difficult time of it. Each Psalm is different, if only subtly so sometimes. What is it about Psalm 90 that sets it apart from the rest?
The answer finally came to me as I read it and its commentaries with fresh eyes; this is “A prayer of Moses, the Man of God.” I glossed over this single, slightly smaller line more times than I care to admit, even when I wrote out the entire Psalm by hand a week ago. It is this line of authorship that changes the way you read it, for “If we connect it with any particular time in the life of Moses, the best suggestion is the time described in Numbers 20. “The historical setting is probably best understood by the incidents recorded in Numbers 20: (1) the death of Miriam, Moses’ sister; (2) the sin of Moses in striking the rock in the wilderness, which kept him from entering the Promised Land; and (3) the death of Aaron, Moses’ brother.” (James Montgomery Boice)
This is one of three songs of Moses and the only one found in the Psalms. The other two are found in Exodus 15 and Deuteronomy 32. Knowing how great and many the trials of Moses and the Israelites were gives us fresh eyes and a new perspective when we read the following 17 verses. These include four parts that, though they are separate, bleed from one into the next. Moses begins by acknowledging God as the dwelling of Israel, the one and true eternal God who holds all things in His hands. He goes on to humble himself and others before God, pointing out the frailty and lowly nature of mankind as well as their sin and wretchedness, all in contrast to the might and perfection of this eternal God. Moses then submits to the righteous judgement of God before appealing once again to God’s mercy – “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
Given that this Psalm is most likely written by Moses himself makes it the oldest Psalm in the entire book! In it we see the enormity of what was at hand for himself as Israel’s leader: a righteous, perfect, gracious, just, holy God and a stubborn, stiff-necked, obstinate, grumbling, selfish, sinful Israel. Moses had a special relationship with God, as like a friend and faithful servant. He knew exactly who Israel had committed themselves to all the way back on the slopes of Mount Sinai. He also knew full-well the duplicitous nature of those whom he led. Both of these realities are wrapped up in Psalm 90 where we see a declaration of God’s holy nature in full contrast with mankind’s evil nature. There is no attempt to sugar-coat sin, no attempt to escape the right and good justice of God.
One can sense that the words Moses recorded in this particular Psalm are not the first or even tenth time he prayed them. It appears that he had a deep understanding of the problem of sin and the condition of the human heart borne of many fiery trials and judgements; the sons of Asaph, the wandering in the wilderness, and more. This understanding served him as a vantage point with which he could see beyond the concerns for the day – he saw the futility of those who seek to cover their own sin, the brevity of the human life, and the holiness of God as the end of all things. He also saw the kindness and patience of God, His willingness to forgive and show mercy, and His supremacy as the one true eternal God.
More than that, Moses was able to see that there is a desperate need for wisdom amongst the people of Israel. He pleads for them to gain such a perspective as his in which they might see the reality of their own human frailty; “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” To know that we are dust and to dust we shall return is to acknowledge that, even in the strength of youth, we all must one day come to an end. We are not mighty, nor are we strong, nor are we good, “For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.” To live each day with this knowledge is to confront the end we all must face and the God before which we all must stand. To live like this is to depend daily on Him, to see our sin for what it is and repent, and to submit to His authority.
Each day we are crowded with an infinite number of things that threaten to obscure our vision of, and relationship with, God Almighty. Each day there are new to-dos, emails, notifications, and activities. Each day there are new temptations, pains, struggles, and hurts. There are unlimited ways in which we can distract ourselves from focusing on what truly matters; God Almighty and our relationship with Him. Now obviously we cannot only think about God, for we have children to pick up, tasks to accomplish, friends to see, and so on. We must not be so heavenly-minded that we are of no earthly use! It all comes down to priorities. When you start your day, do you check your phone first or do you take a moment, breathe deeply, and thank God for another day? Do you spend any time with Him in prayer each day or do you insist that you are too busy? Do you seek to justify your sins, no matter how small, or do you submit all things to Him in penitence, thanksgiving, and humility?
My brothers and sisters, each one of us who know Christ ought to know Him as the highest importance in our life. We dare not put up idols in His place, for the days are evil and time is short. We are here but for a breath, so let us make each breath count – in an intimate, loving, ongoing relationship with Him!
Oh God, we thank you for the cool and rainy days of this month. Thank you for the roof over our head and the food we have to eat. Thank you for the technology that brings us all closer together. Please, Lord, let none of these things become a hindrance to seeing you or an excuse to avoid spending time with you. Stir us up to greater love, first for you and then spilling out to others. Let us base not only our goals but our each and every day around your presence. Amen!
Song: Psalm 90 - Satisfy Us With Your Love (Shane & Shane)
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.”
Psalm 89: 14-15
This Psalm is often referred to as the ‘Covenant Psalm’ and concludes the third book of the Psalms. Its author is named as Ethan the Ezrahite who was probably a musician during David’s reign and into Solomon’s. The Psalm will therefore have been written in his old age as he witnessed trouble upon trouble coming the way of God’s people.
The focus is upon the character of God, especially His faithfulness. This faithfulness is seen within the covenantal relationship God created with His people. God’s character is described as: faithful; loving; strong; powerful; merciful; righteous; and wonderful. He is a God of justice who is to be feared. The descriptions are truly beautiful and enable us to know, ‘see,’ God that little bit more.
A covenant is basically a binding agreement, a promise, between two parties; it is relational and bilateral. In other words both parties need to fulfil their part. God made His covenant with the people of Israel promising blessings and life. The people were to be obedient and live as a witness to the nations around them, proclaiming the truth of God. This Psalm pays tribute to God, His faithfulness and the blessings and protection He provided. The Psalmist then calls upon God to return and save His people; they had gone astray. They had not fulfilled their side of the covenant and were suffering. “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments,” Deut. 7: 9.
In this Psalm we see that God is faithful to His Word, the Covenant and His own character (or name).
God has made a new covenant with His creation in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. He will redeem our lives through the self-sacrifice of Christ, if we put our trust in Him. By His grace we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2: 8). In His faithfulness He makes forgiveness available to us if we confess and repent (1 John 1: 9). The life He gives is full and eternal (John 6: 40).
God’s faithfulness means that we can absolutely trust these promises and blessings that He describes and offers. We can face all that life throws at us with complete confidence in God Almighty. His Word is solid, concrete and trustworthy. He remains the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13: 8). His truth remains the same, it is eternal. This is an utter blessing but it also means that we must not alter His truth, water it down or in other ways try to diminish its authority. We are to love and obey our God. God cannot, nor will not deny His faithfulness towards His character, Word or covenant. He is THE God of truth, justice, mercy and love. Praise be to the Lord forever. Amen and Amen! (Ps. 89: 52)
The Questions of Application
Is God’s truth, love and faithfulness your foundation in life?
O God, you make covenants with your people, and you keep them from generation to generation; you are ever faithful. We receive the grace of the New Covenant from you. Help us to be faithful to our word as you are to yours. Thank you for never giving up on us, despite all the ways that we fall short. By your grace purify our character that we may imitate Jesus Christ our Saviour. We praise and thank you for your faithfulness for your name, for your character and for the salvation you offer through Jesus our Lord. Amen
Great is thy faithfulness by Maranatha Music
Never walk alone by Hillsong Worship
Observe: This psalm is a lament, a desperate prayer for healing, by someone who has been close to death for a long time.
The lament, in the form of a complaint lodged against God, is also a plea for God to show himself. The psalmist does not seem sure that God is listening. Verses 13 & 14 read, “I cry to you for help, in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why Lord do you reject me and hide your face from me?”
The psalm describes the depression and isolation that comes with severe chronic illness. Pain, not people, is a daily companion. God is distant, yet the prayer speaks to God.
The illness may be physical, mental, or spiritual, but appears to be chronic, even lifelong. Verse 15, “Wretched and close to death from my youth up…” Several phrases amount to, “I am as good as dead, I have one foot in the grave.” Whatever the malady, God has done this to the psalmist, and so the psalmist’s plea is for God to intervene. No answer is given.
Interpret: A prayer of desperation is directed to God. Most psalms that have a complaint or plea for help have a turning point, after which some answer comes from God. Psalm 88 contains no such turning point. God is experienced not as presence but as absence.
Is God listening? Great faith believes that God is listening, even when no sign is given. The sign that the psalmist believes this is in the simple words, in verse 13, “BUT, I cry to you…” This is the “nevertheless” of faith when the face of God is hidden.
Application: “Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.” So sang Simon and Garfunkel in The Sound of Silence in 1964, in a song about feeling isolated and alone in a world indifferent. St. John of the Cross wrote about “the dark night of the soul,” a spiritual crisis in the journey towards being united with God. Psalm 23 speaks of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. And finally, there is Christ dead in the tomb from Friday afternoon to dawn on Sunday. All is darkness.
Can we hope for anything when all seems hopeless? If we have the final crumb of faith that God is real, we will say to God, “Where are you when I need you?” That is an act of faith, which clings not to the good things of life, the blessings and the consolations, but clings to God alone.
“If I could just touch the hem of his robe, I will be healed.” Psalm 88 is the desperately chronically ill woman weaving through the crowd towards, seeking one thing only, to touch Jesus.
Can we dare to talk about God in this way to the person contemplating a medically assisted suicide? Are they so absolutely sure that God has abandoned them, so that they have no choice but to make God’s decision for themselves about when they die? Psalm 88 is a sign that God is there, even in the darkness, and we can tell God what it is like to be in pain.
Pray: “Into your hands I commit my spirit. Deliver me, O Lord, thou God of truth.” (Psalm 31:6)
Song: “Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.”
TEXT: Psalm 87
Verses 1-2: The psalmist immediately turns our attention to Zion, the mountain made holy by God’s presence dwelling in the temple that was built there.
Verse 3: Glorious things are said of Jerusalem, the city of God where Zion was located, because God chose to make his presence known there.
Verses 4-7: The remainder of the psalm is a divine pronouncement, in which God incorporates foreign nations into the holy city.
INTERPRET: This psalm celebrates Zion, the location of the temple, the place where God makes his glorious presence known in the world. During the period of the Old Testament, the foreign nations were enemies, but this psalm looks to the future when peoples from the nations will find their spiritual home in Zion.
The psalmist praises God by recounting the glorious things spoken about Zion, the place where the temple of God was built. The psalmist foresees the day when not only Israel, but all the nations of the world, will find their spiritual home in Zion. For other Zion hymns see Psalms 46, 48, 76, 84, 122 and 137.
APPLICATION: In the New Testament, God makes his presence known through Jesus, and the nations are invited to participate in the good news and enter into a relationship with God through him. We are perhaps to hear an echo of our psalm in Paul's figurative contrast between enslavement to the law of Sinai and the freedom won by the gospel. Paul may also have this psalm in the back of his mind when he reminds his readers in Philippi that “our citizenship is in heaven”.
Most significantly, in light of our psalm, we think of that future day in the New Jerusalem when “the glory and honour of all nations will be brought into it” (Rev 21:26). What a wonderful picture we can draw from this psalm of all nations approaching Zion with praise and worship for the God of all nations. Today, as we come to have a relationship with God through Jesus, we too begin this march. May the world hear the sound of the saints as we sing “Hallelujah” and “Amen”. Let us never stop praising God as we experience all the glorious things he offers us in our eternal dwelling with him.
Prayer: Holy Lord, our citizenship is in heaven.. we are your children.. open our eyes to the beauty of your city that we may live as faithful citizens and live in ways that draw others to your heavenly Kingdom. Amen.
SONG: Sound of the Saints
July 20th – Les Kovacs Psalm 86
Observe: Psalm 86 is a prayer for help in troubled times. The Psalmist is probably King David who puts his faith in God while crying out his many needs with a series of requests.
In Verses 1-7, David calls himself a servant of God and calls for God, in His goodness and mercy, to hear his pleas and act on his behalf.
In Verses 8-10, David extols God’s praises. Because of His mighty deeds, there is none like Him, and David declares that He is the only true God—the lord of all the nations.
Then in Vs:11-12, David asks the Lord to teach him and give him an undivided heart in order to fear God so that he can glorify Him forever.
Finally in Vs:13-17, David appeals to God’s mercy and grace to deliver him from the depths of the dead, and from the arrogant and ruthless foes trying to kill him. He relies on God’s strength because he knows the Lord is compassionate and gracious, abounding in love and faithfulness and his only true hope.
Interpret: As with so many of his psalms, David once again finds himself in trouble. This time he calls them a band of arrogant, violent men who are seeking his life. David understands his own need and it drives him toward prayer. Psalm 86 can help Christians recognize our own selfishness and helps to shed light on the bigger picture of our relationships within families and the church.
Throughout the entire psalm, David gives glory to God. He praises Him throughout the prayer with the most humble and reverent adoration. Even in the midst of his anguish he doesn’t neglect to remember and honour God’s mighty deeds, unfailing love and infinite goodness. Through his own trials, David reminds us that every one of us needs the salvation of the Lord. There are so many trials and tribulations in our world that it is imperative for us to pray to God for mercy, and allow Him to help lead us away from potential sins and disaster.
Application: From time to time, our own pride can become blinding ad get in the way of the reality that God has put into play for our lives. In today’s psalm, we find a man who puts his faith in God while crying out desperately in his need. David fills the psalm with requests, some of which are repetitive, but the bigger picture we see is that our great needs should drive us to pray to our great God, who alone can deliver us. Even David, who as King of Israel had the power and authority of government entirely in his hands, knew that God is the only one who has real control over the world that we live in. No matter how much we plan or how hard we might wish for something, the Lord is the only one who can really provide us with the strength, hope and direction to get where we yearn to be. Once we learn to put God first, everything else will fall into place. Our needs might be great, but our God is greater.
Prayer: Father God, what a comfort it is to know that no matter what situation we may be in, we can trust that you are in control and always know what is best for us because “…You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth”. Amen.
Song: Great Are You Lord – Casting Crowns
Observe Look what God has done for Israel! Verses 1-3 recount His favour to Jacob, His deep love and faithfulness, restoring, forgiving, turning away His wrath. They ask: Will you restore us, Lord, and forgive our apostasy and unfaithfulness? Will you stay angry? Will you revive us yet again? Will you save us? (5-7)
Provided they don’t turn back to folly (8) ( = moral stupidity), His salvation which they asked for (7) is to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. (9)
He will give them more than they ask: Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other (10-13) -- restoration, in complete harmony with Him. He gives them what is good (12), to prosper them in His righteous way.
Interpret Psalm 85 is a “community lament”, asking God to restore after their unfaithfulness. The restored ‘glory’ is God's Shekinah – His special presence dwelling among them as they enjoy Him.
In Ex.34:6-7, God proclaims His steadfast love and faithfulness, His utter reliability, which provide the background to this Psalm.
Apply The history of revivals is worth studying, from the first revival in the fledgling church in Acts 2-4, its amazing newness, community, sharing, generosity, worship – and then the snake shows up...
This seems to be a pattern in revivals through the millennia: repentance, excitement, heightened awareness of God’s goodness and mercy, new music, deepened relationships, glorious worship, caring and love and generosity, then – oh, oh. Something interrupts that flow of grace, pride or power hunger enters, forgetting happens, early euphoria vanishes, other than God takes precedence though vestiges remain as history. We have a constant need for repentance and renewed dependence by God’s Spirit, and we repent again. And again.
Psalm 85 speaks to us as we anticipate the Spirit’s breaking out amongst us in revival. The Psalm recounts God’s work among His people, the constant need to repent individually and communally.
So, we pray for revival. First, are we willing to look at ourselves as God reveals what needs repair, to repent from what displeases our God of love – and justice? This requires utter honesty and humility before God in our church family before He gives what we ask for. We cry to God to reveal Himself – then we wait, listening carefully to His word (7-9).
His faithfulness to forgive encourages us to ask again: Will you revive us, God? Give us the willingness, because it will change us, remove our reticence and stiffness, our apathy and indifference and reliance on old deadening customary ways and viewpoints. We may resist change at first, but He is irresistible; the Lord will give us what is good (12a). Strengthened and freed by His real love and goodness, we joyfully make Him known to others – a sign of real revival. And revival = transformation!
Ask Will you revive me so I may rejoice in You, O Lord, and see You afresh? Will You give me the grace to offer myself to You and others until, transformed, I am part of Your glorious Real Church Transformed?
Pray Lord, You created me to ‘enjoy You forever’, but I can’t see beyond present tense. Your salvation unites but I’m hardly giving myself to community. Lord, heal me of my fear of opening up to others and to You. Then revive and renew my life. Adapted from Tim and Kathy Keller, The Songs of Jesus.
Sing Psalm 85 Restore us, O God of our Salvation - Esther Mui
Bring Us Back - GraceChild 2012
Mercy and Truth - Jason Coghill
Observe: Charles Spurgeon referred to Psalm 84 as “the pearl of Psalms”. In reading this glorious and beautiful psalm, I would tend to agree. It is so full of little pearls of wisdom, adoration and encouragement. I’m going to deviate a little from the normal structure of our blogs and just basically give my thoughts as to what this psalm means to me. However, let’s observe the basic composition of the psalm and then I’ll proceed. Verses 1 and 2 reveal the psalmist’s longing for the house of God, verses 3 and 4 reflect upon the satisfaction found in the house of God, verses 5-7 talk of the strength for those who are away from the house of God, verse 8 and 9 state a prayer and asking for God’s attention and verses 10-12 declare the greatness of God and His house.
Reflection: “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord”. Yearning…it is such a deep feeling as to cause fainting if denied the privilege of meeting with God among His people. Do we actually have such a longing when we come to church that we would almost physically faint if we could not have fellowship with one another and not only with each other, but with the living God? We come to church with one purpose – to come together with those who also cry out to meet with the living God. We don’t meet just for social reasons or programs, although those are great, but to worship together with our living God – our God and King! (vs. 4) The psalmist talks about crying out, and in this case the cry is not necessarily a joyous one (Psalm 17:1, Lamentations 2:19), but rather using everything within him (heart and flesh) to long for God and His house. He talks of the sparrow and the swallow. The sparrow is a bird of small significance and the swallow tends to be restless. Likewise the insignificant and restless can find rest (their nest) in the house of God. It needs to be welcoming place for all who seek the living God! When we enter the church building, we need to be aware of what God might want of us in that particular service. We need to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) and we need to have such deep yearning or longing to meet with the living God – our God and King! I encourage you to keep this in mind and be grateful that we are privileged to meet with God Almighty and each other!
Every time I read this psalm, I can’t help but sing the following song. I’ve had the privilege of singing it a few times in my life in different choirs and have found it to be an inspiration. Even if you aren’t a fan of classical music, please listen and reflect on Psalm 84.
Song: How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place – the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Psalm 83 is the last of the Psalms of Asaph, which include Psalm 50 as well as Psalm 73-83. It is also the last of the “Elohist” collection (Psalms 42-83) in which one of God’s titles Elohim is mainly used. Some commentators link this Psalm to 2 Chronicles 20:1-37 which tells of the great victory under Jehoshephat, while others view the list of 10 enemies set against Israel as an ever-present threat and not in reference to one specific event. This was the threat of annihilation under which Israel lived and is relevant both in the ancient and modern world.
The first four verses are a plea for God to move; to take action and not remain still. Asaph appeals to God’s righteousness, to see Israel’s enemies as God’s enemies. He goes on to tell of all the many nations, some powerful and vast, that are arranged to conspire against Israel and threatening her with extermination. Asaph then cries out for God to take vengeance on behalf of Israel like what was once written in the book of Judges. There is an appeal to precedent as Asaph points the congregation to Judges 4-8.
There is a surprising turn in the last three verses of this Psalm; Asaph prays that God would not just act to destroy, but to humble those who oppose Him so that they seek His name! The Psalmist prays with a desire stronger than that for mere retribution, but salvation.
How many times have you read through the Old Testament? Even if you’ve only gone through it once – even if you’ve only skimmed it once, you’d notice that time and time again, the people that God chose to be His own forget Him and everything He has done to save them. It’s tempting to sit in our rooms with our Bibles and say to ourselves, if I had seen God give Moses the Ten Commandments or part the Red Sea, I would never stray from Him! I have thought as much myself many times. That is, until I lived long enough to see that no matter what wonderful things God has done in my life and the lives of those around me, I am always tempted to forget.
I am guilty and you are guilty and the entire human race is guilty of forgetting what isn’t directly in front of us, even if it’s God! Asaph knew that people forget God. Until we go home to our heavenly Father, our flesh is eager to supplant Him in the temple of our hearts and erect idols of any and every sort. We long to exalt ourselves and we crave autonomy; we become so set on being free from all constraints that we actually become enslaved to freedom!
How bitterly ironic it is that we who desire to be free from all things actually become chained to the whims of our bodies and minds! Asaph understood the condition of the human heart; people will often only seek the Lord if they are first humbled by His incredible power. There is a sense that God must defeat us before He will save us. Humility and submission run utterly counter to the message of this day – do what you want, become who you want, behave how you want, for there is no right answer.
Humility and submission are the aim of Psalm 83, and in it we see a certain Christ-ness: that even those who would harm the people of God might turn from their ways and seek the face of the Lord. There is a call for action and retribution, but the end of this prayer is not only destruction, but the humbling and repentance of wicked hearts. “But there is a deeper desire in the psalmist’s heart than the enemies’ destruction. He wishes that they should be turned into God’s friends and he wishes for their chastisement as the means to that end.” (Maclaren)
There are so many stories flooding the news these days that I find nearly impossible to watch. It’s all too much, too difficult, too disturbing. What’s worse is that I find myself growing bitter and angry as I hear more details about this politician’s lies or that leader’s war crimes; I find myself wanting them to be swept away in fire and fury to face the wrath and judgement of God. I know there is an element of righteous anger at play here, but my heart does not confine itself to only righteous anger. What about yours? This is not the way Christ wants me or any of us to regard anyone, but to pray for their salvation, turn the other cheek, and bless those who curse us. It is far easier to be kind to someone being rude at the supermarket or saying nasty things online than it is to inwardly wish that those who are committing atrocities all over the world would find Christ and repent. Most of me, I’ll admit, doesn’t want them to find Christ and repent. Most of me thinks they don’t deserve it, that they’ve gone too far, that they only deserve wrath. My goodness, how quickly I forget … what about you?
At times like these, let us all remember that each one of us that are in Christ now were once enemies of His and fully deserving nothing but His wrath. Each one of us, no matter how far along the path of sanctification, are still sinners in desperate need of the grace and forgiveness that comes with being in Christ. None of us are better than anyone else, none of us have earned the grace of God. We are simply exiles and beggars in this world showing other beggars where we found Bread. It takes a mighty man or woman to pray for the salvation of our enemies, but we see mirrored in this Psalm of Asaph the words of Christ: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven,” (Matt. 5:43-45).
Lord God, we thank you that while we were still enemies of you, Christ died for the ungodly. We thank you for loving the world that you gave us your Son to die in our place. Thank you for the gift of faith, the gift of your Holy Spirit, and the gift of eternal life. Let us always be tender-hearted and loving in all things, but especially so towards those who we consider our enemies. Keep in our minds the truth that we are saved by grace alone and pray that all who reside upon this earth might come to know you as their Lord and saviour. Amen.
Song: Thank You For Saving Me (Delirious)
“Rise up, O God, for all the nations belong to you.”
Observe: This Psalm depicts the court of heaven, presided over by God, who condemns the pagan gods who judge humans unfairly. The accused are divine beings, called “gods.” Whatever their status, they are condemned by the Lord God. They do not fairly treat the weak, or protect them from the wicked. Injustice shakes the earth’s foundations. God’s sentence of judgement is that these gods will die like any human being. God alone is divine, God alone is immortal, God alone judges justly.
Interpret: Many cultures and religions believe that the nations are ruled over by their own gods. War between nations is war between national gods. Psalm 82 dramatizes the one true God ruling over these so-called gods, showing that they are only paper tigers. The court of heaven has only one judge, who sits and calls for justice from the accused. “Give justice to the weak and the orphan, maintain the right of the lowly and destitute.” God reveals his character of mercy in his judgment. He confronts all pretenders to divinity, and calls them to account. Finally, Yahweh strips them of their immortality. They will die like mortals. So much for the pagan gods, and “the powers that be.”
Application: The daily news is full of pretenders to real power. The daily news is also full of the doings of the unjust and unmerciful who rule over others. Many act as if they are “gods.” Claims of divinity are common. Sadly, many bow down to these blowhards and windbags. But all will die, all will be judged. The One God and Lord is not only judge, but also just and merciful. His standards of mercy and justice for the poor and the powerless, will be the standard by which we are all judged, even diving beings.
How would our world change if “the powers that be” acted every day in the knowledge that every one of us, so-called gods, and mortals, will face the one Judge and Lord in a final reckoning?
Prayer: Strength of the weak, Defender of the needy, Rescuer of the poor, deliver us from the power of wickedness, that we may rejoice in your justice now and forever, through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Book of Alternative Services, p. 816)
Hymn: Strong Son of God, Immortal Love (Alfred Tennyson)
“I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket. In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud.”
“If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways….”
Psalm 81: 6-7a, 13
This beautiful Psalm is essentially a call from the Lord, to His people, to be blessed. God wants to bless and provide for His people, He is motivated by pure love.
The Psalm starts with simple and genuine praise. The people see God for who He is and remember what He has done; they can only praise, worship and give thanks. In remembering their deliverance from Egypt they also remember further salvation in the provision of water at Meribah (7). In recalling the salvation God provided on this occasion we must also remember the complaints against God by the people, their quarreling with Moses and essentially God (Exodus 17: 7, Numbers 20: 13). Despite this, God in His love, miraculously provided water from a rock for His people.
From this point (8), the Psalm moves to call upon the people of God. They are to have no other God, they are to submit to God and follow His ways. If they do God will provide bountifully: salvation and provision (9b); protection (14); and blessing (16). Sadly the people do not listen (8, 11a) or submit (11b), so God gives them over to follow their own devices; their stubborn hearts (12). What a call to ignore, what blessing to miss out on!
Today’s truth is simple; God wants to bless! God the Rock, wants to provide living waters of salvation. He calls us to listen to Him, deny false gods and to submit. If we do we are blessed beyond our wildest imagination, in this life and into eternity. Yes we will have difficulties, suffering and trials but if we call on God in our distress He rescues us (7); if we ask for provision He provides (10b); if we seek protection, He is our shield (14); and He will bless beyond our needs (16). He calls us to simply follow His ways.
Sadly we often allow our stubborn hearts to take us away from God (12). We need to heed His call and not allow ourselves to get to the point where He gives us over to our own desires (12 & Romans 1: 18-24). Instead let us enjoy our God, for whom we have been created, and glorify him with our lives!
The Questions of Application
Are you in receipt of God’s blessings? Call on Him and He will answer (Jeremiah 33: 3)
Father, forgive our foolish ways, and feed us always with that living bread which is given for the life of the world, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Rescuer by Rend Collective
Jehovah Jireh, my provider by Don Moen
Jireh by Elevation Worship and Maverick City
Bible Blog 2022
This year the blogs are focused on the Psalms and are posted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.