Monthly Archives: June 2019

Innocent

O LORD my God, if I have done this,  
if there is wrong in my hands,
if I have repaid my friend with evil
or plundered my enemy without cause, (Psalm 7:3-4 ESV)

David cannot make the claim stated by this verse. Though he is the author of the Psalm and did great things for Israel and for God, his hands were covered with blood. Both those who were David’s friends and enemies suffered at his hands. 

While a young man, after his induction into the service of Saul, David earned more respect and esteem from the people than the king. Saul, angry, and going insane at losing the honor that comes with the throne to any person, tried multiple times to kill David. Fleeing Saul, David declares to Saul’s son, Jonathan, his friend, his innocence. “Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD with you. But if there is guilt in me, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?” (1 Samuel 20:8 ESV). In his early life there was nothing any could hold against David. Later in his life, after he ascends the throne vacated by king Saul’s death, is different. For example, David murdered one of his own soldiers, Uriah, a man supremely loyal to him, to cover up his adultery with the Uriah’s wife (2 Samuel 11). David knew his sin and repented (Psalm 51). He still continued to sin and then to repent.

Every person who has ever lived, or will ever live, sins and is guilty before God. God takes note of how we treat both our friends and our enemies.  Repaid means to deal out, to recompense and give bountifully. The word friend is actually not used in this verse put is a translation of a word that means those with whom we have a pledge and bond of peace. To repay a friend with evil, which means all the word implies, suggests a solemn agreement between two has been arbitrarily violated. Or what of his enemies, those who cause him distress and try to bind him, press hard against him, treat with hostility and harass him? Has he plundered them without cause, which means to deliver up to death or take away for an empty reason, for vanity, just because he can. His actions motivated by the intention of his heart, is focused on self, not focused God. Self becomes the standard by which others are measured and judged.

Jesus, speaking through David, asks God to examine His heart and judge His actions. The Son of God stands before God willing to face any test which would reveal any sin. “If I have done this,” if anything in me shows the evidence of “wrong in my hands,” which is iniquity, unrighteousness, injustice, violently criminal acts against God and other, carried out by any part of my being. Are there any sinful actions for which I am accountable? If sin is present at any time then there is sin in the heart that breeds more sin. In Psalm 7:3-4, Jesus is asking to God to let happen to Him that which happens to those who sin. “For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. (Psalm 5:9-10 ESV).

There is One, the Righteous Man of these Psalms, who does not sin. He cannot sin. Though tempted by the Deceiver, weakened in His human flesh, surrounded by a world which tugs and pulls toward sin, He did not sin. Why is it important Jesus is sinless?

God taught His people that the physical animals sacrificed for sin must have no blemishes (see Exodus 12:5; Leviticus 1:3; Numbers 6:14). A sacrifice for sin is required to cover the sins of the one offering the sacrifice.  Annually, the blood of a lamb was poured out over the cover, the mercy seat of the ark, containing the broken Ten Commandments. God would look down and see the blood and not the laws which were broken and violated. Before the priest could do this for the people he had to cover his own sin. All people sin whether priests and kings and those who fall under their authority.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:11-14 ESV)

Jesus had to be prefect so the sacrifice He offered would not first be for Himself. Only God is perfect and sinless, and Jesus is God in the flesh. No creature is capable of becoming sinless once sin corrupts his life. Jesus, God in the flesh, came specifically to die as a sacrifice for the sin of those created in His image. His death fulfills the requirements of the law. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18 ESV). God’s law is not just the written, verbally declared commandments given in the Hebrew Scripture. God’s law is embedded in the hearts of those who are His. Intimate knowledge of the eternal law of God is given as an integral part of the image of God. “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” (Romans 2:14-15 ESV). Those who sin know they sin. Jesus did not sin. Standing before God, He opens Himself to judicial examination, declaring His innocence of all wrongdoing, making Himself the only sacrifice worthy and capable of fulfilling the promises of God.

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Trust

O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge; 
save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, 
(Psalm 7:1 ESV)

Trust is integral to faith. Without trust there is no faith. Faith is taking God at His word. God works and those created in His image see the evidence of His working, intellectually believing and knowing that evidence points to Him and only Him. He makes promises to those who are His, based upon His moral being. God is implicitly trustworthy in bringing those promises to fruition and reality. Those who intimately know God know that He will do what He says He will do. Finally, we obey His commands, knowing intellectually He will act and emotionally He will fulfill His promises. Faith is believing the evidence, trusting the Object and obeying His commands. Remove one of these three elements and faith is no longer faith. Trusting God assumes belief and obedience.

David sang a song to the LORD, reveling in Him and his deliverance from all his enemies. Probably written toward the end of 2 Samuel, this Psalm may have been composed early in the rule of king David, after the throne was taken from Saul in death and given to him. God rejected Saul because of his sin and selected another to take his place. “The LORD said to Samuel, ‘How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons’”  (1 Samuel 16:1 ESV). God chose David, who was a man after His own heart. David ascended the throne according to the promises of God who, through Samuel, anointed him king.“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence” (2 Samuel 22:2-3 ESV). Two words are used for refugein this song. In whom I take refuge is the same word used in Psalm 7:1. 

The second word for refuge means an actual place where one can escape. In God’s presence is refuge, a secure place where no enemy may assault, breech or enter. In God’s presence is complete security. This is the third time the Psalmist has used the word refuge“Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:12 ESV). “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you” (Psalm 5:11 ESV). Refuge means to seek and flee to a place of protection, to confide and hope in the Only One able to fulfill what is promised. It is not the place of refuge we seek, but the act of knowing the One who offers and provides refuge.

Jesus delivered His last discourse, His final teaching for His disciples, in an upper room, after eating the last and first Passover. He knows what is going to happen within a few hours. By sundown the next day He will have been tortured to death. Jesus knows His disciples face desperate sorrow and persecution after He goes away.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going. (John 14:1-4 ESV)

God has a place for all with Him. Our hope is not in anything the world has to offer and everything God promises. Where we face physical persecution in the world we live in eternal peace in God’s presence.

The Psalmist asks God to save him from all the pursuers, those who chasing and dogging his steps, to harass and persecute. him Those who are righteous are chased by those who hate them. The image is of an army following a retreating enemy to overwhelm and destroy them. Pharaoh chased after the Jews during their exodus, not wanting them to get away. God parted the sea so His people could gain their freedom from Egypt. “And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen” (Exodus 14:22-23 ESV). Though Pharaoh and his army chased Israel, they were destroyed because God protected His people. After David killed Goliath the army of Saul hunted down the Philistine army. “And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron” (1 Samuel 17:52 ESV). 

God alone promises peace for those He calls into His kingdom. He is trustworthy to fulfill the promises made to those who are His. 

God, The Deliverer

O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge; 
save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, 
(Psalm 7:1 ESV)

There is only One God.

In the beginning of time, before there was anything, there was God. He is uncreated, existing eternally. God is not constrained by time or anything created which is bound by time. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2 ESV). 

Theology finds a reasonable doctrine of the Trinity within Scripture. God is Three in One yet exists as One God in three persons. God, the Father, who created all things through His Word, God the Son, who brought all things into existence, and God the Spirit, who breathes into creation making it alive. Creation points to God. 

Man, created in the image of God, is the greatest evidence for the truth of God. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26 ESV). There is only One God and all of creation points to Him. Man’s image, with all of the intricacies of the image, both spiritual and physical, is ageless evidence of the truth of the reality of God.

David begins Psalm 7 with a declaration of God. “O LORD, my God.” He declares God’s name, YHWH, first used 11 times in Genesis 2. His name is known from the beginning of time. David uses a combination of two words to describe God. YHWH means existing one. God alone existed before anything else. He adds the word elohiym, which means divine one, God, ruler and judge, but may also be used for the lesser gods and idols worshipped by people who hate God. Thus, God, the Existing One is given as a name and proper title of the only true God.

Only One God has the power and ability to deliver from sin and from the enemies of those who are citizens of His kingdom. To deliver means to tear away, strip off, snatch off, recover, rescue. Those who pursue with the intent of overtaking and destroying are relentless in their goal to hound and capture those who are their enemies. For the enemies of God are God’s enemies and are enslaved by sin. [T]he wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5 ESV). They can do nothing but sin. Like Cain, sin captures people. “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7 ESV). Sin’s desire is to totally possess every person. God cannot abide sin in His presence. “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you” (Psalm 5:4 ESV). There is a war between those who are God’s and those who are not God’s. On one side all die, for sin takes no prisoners. The other side is filled with those rescued and delivered from sin.

We are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, not of the dark, worldly, rebellious kingdom ruled by sin. We are chosen by God, set apart by the Spirit of God, covered with the blood of Christ. As citizens of His kingdom, our allegiance and commitment is to follow and obey Him. Peter writes to all Christians in the known world. “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood” (1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV). As citizens of God’s kingdom, we are at war with our own flesh, with the world and with the Deceiver, who wars to separate everyone from God.

Eternity is our home. God will finally deliver us from the world that continually attacks and pursues us to do us harm. Still, God has left us in the world for two reasons. We are to witness about Him and His wonder and power. He is also preparing us for eternity with Him. As citizens of His kingdom our every action shows we are His. “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12 ESV). God created us for Himself. He will not leave us or abandon us but will rescue and deliver us from the assaults and relentless pursuit of our enemies.

Introduction to Psalm 7

A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD 
concerning the words of Cush, a Benjaminite. (Psalm 7:1 ESV)

Who is Cush, the Benjaminite? What did he say? Why was David concerned about the words of this man? What are the circumstances of the confrontation between Cush and David? When did this happen? There are many unanswered questions about Cush in Scripture. 

In the Hebrew Scripture Cush means one of three things. First, Cush is the country of Ethiopia, a land south of Israel. “The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush” (Genesis 2:13 ESV). Secondly, Cush is a name, first used for a grandson of Noah, the son of Ham (see Genesis 10:6). Finally, cush means black and may refer to skin color. The tenor of this Psalm suggests the person David is speaking about has an unrighteous character. However, there easily could have been a person, a Benjaminite, named Cush who opposed and challenged David. If he is a person then he is mentioned in Scripture only here.

Cush spoke against David. His words, and even his business and occupation, were against David. He was a vocal, active opponent of David. David was the enemy of Cush. Very possibly, Cush may have been a servant of king Saul, who continued his loyalty and allegiance for Saul after his death and David’s coronation. Saul was a Benjaminite and Cush may have been a close relative. In any case, it appears that Cush violently accused, criticized and blamed David for something and David responded with a song to God.

We do not have every circumstance of David’s life recorded in Scripture. Nor do we have every circumstance of the life of Christ recorded in the Gospels. Neither the annals of the kings of Israel or the Gospels are designed as a biography of the people mentioned. We are given information about these people so we might know God and recognize how He works. David sinned, reaping the consequences of his sin. Jesus never sinned, yet, felt He the brunt of the eternal consequences of sin.

We know that the Deceiver (from Genesis 3) is also an accuser, who brings charges of wrongdoing against those who belong to God “day and night.” “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10 ESV). We know that he (the Deceiver) lies and tempts people to walk away from the God who created them. He is a murderer and cannot speak the truth. “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44 ESV). From the beginning, when the serpent tempted Eve and Adam to rebel against God, the Deceiver has done everything he can to defeat God and destroy those created in God’s image.

David is speaking the words of Jesus in this Psalm. We know Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man. Speaking to Mary about the child she would bear, Gabriel called Jesus the Son of God. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35 ESV). Jesus called Himself the Son of Man and had authority to forgive sin. “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic— ‘Rise, pick up your bed and go home” (Matthew 9:6 ESV). God, in the Psalms, calls Jesus His Son and makes Him King over the rebels who would throw off His authority.“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you” (Psalm 2:6-7 ESV). God’s decree includes giving Jesus, His Son, dominion over all creation (Psalm 2:8-9; Psalm 8:6-8). Yet, even though He is the Son if God with God’s full authority, people will still attack Him and those who identify with Him.