Tag Archives: king David

Stilling the Enemy

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, 
you have established strength because of your foes, 
to still the enemy and the avenger. (Psalm 8:2 ESV)

Jesus regularly confronted the Jewish religious leaders about their unreasonable expectations of God and their false worship of Him. It was the children shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9 ESV) who truly worshipped God, not the religious leaders with their legalistic, unscriptural traditions and unrighteous deeds. 

When God created Adam and Eve in His image they were innocent and teachable. They were God’s authority over the  world, given dominion. Their purpose was to learn about God by examining and learning about what God created. They were not created with a full understanding of God or their world, but had to grow and learn as they matured. They were childlike without being children. 

Children exclaimed over Jesus as He entered Jerusalem and taught in the temple. These children recognized who Jesus was, something the religious leaders refused to do. For the religious leaders, the traditional decorum of the temple excluded children, the poor and sinful, the physically imperfect or handicapped and any who did not, could not or would not adhere to their legalistic worldview. The religious leaders were the politically correct police of the first century. They were tyrants and God’s enemy.

Who is the enemy? Who is the avenger? How do the words of a child or baby still both the enemy and the avenger?

In the first part of this verse (Psalm 8:2) the word foe is used. A foe is anyone who physically or vocally tries to bind up, or shut up, those toward whom they are actively hostile. Up to this verse, the Psalms are filled with descriptions of the wicked and sinful person. There is one spiritual being who is totally depraved. He is the Deceiver who tempted Eve and Adam in the garden. Many are taught and trained by the Deceiver to stand against God. “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed” (Psalm 2:1-2 ESV). Foe is another word for enemy, those who violently oppose God. Ultimately, God’s foes are silenced and stilled by His judgment.

Jesus, speaking through David, poetically foretells the speech of a child will silence the aggressive and antagonistic teachings of God’s foes. To still means to cause to cease to act, to put an end to or destroy, and to cause to rest. The allusion is that not just any child or a number of children will do this but a specific child. God has already told us who this child is. In response to the raging of the nations and the leaders of the world, God establishes His Son as King of kings. “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:7-9 ESV). The child that will silence the enemy and the avenger is, of course, His Son, Jesus.

Isaiah gives a divine prophecy about the child, Jesus, the Son of God, who will lead the kingdom of God.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)

We know who this child is. He is Jesus, who was incarnated as a child, who grew into a man who welcomed children and confronted the religious leaders.  Jesus, by His sacrifice, puts an end to the hostile war against God by His enemies. 

Introduction to Psalm 8

Meditations on the Psalms

This is the first Psalm in the book of Psalms that sings God’s glory and majesty without responding to sin and rebellion of the wicked. The Psalmist, king David, does acknowledge the truth of man’s rebellion, but in a way that does not suggest the debilitating impact upon God’s creation. 

In this Psalm the Holy Spirit speaks in the third-person about God and God’s Son. The Spirit uses the proper name of God, YHWH, the Everlasting One, recognizing God’s preeminence over creation. God is Lord, which means firm and strong, the master and king, the Authority over all authorities. While all of the Psalms recognize God’s ultimate authority, they reveal an attitude of disdain those people who rebel against God show toward their Creator. In contrast to the wickedness of the rebellious, the Psalms also emphasize the blessedness of those who take refuge in Him. All of the Psalms are written by God the Son and poetically speak about His work in both redemption and judgment.

Psalm 8 is written for the choirmaster, or the chief musician, just as Psalm 4. David wanted the choirmaster to teach this Psalm to the people, to be performed under his direction, during times of worship. The instrument used is unknown, but is called a Gittith, possibly from the city Gath, a city where David left the Ark of God after the death of Uzzah. “So David But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household” (2 Samuel 6:10-11 ESV). The instrument Gittith is used for three Psalms, Psalm 8, 81 and 84.

We do not know why David composed this Psalm, other than his love for and worship of God. As a shepherd, the young David would live with his sheep, not leaving them at any time during the day or night. Watching sheep and keeping them safe, gave David time to contemplate the world in which he lived. His musical and poetic talents, inspired by the Holy Spirit, often resulted in a song. David intimately knew God and expressed himself, his love for and trust in God throughout his life.

Psalm 8 shows the absolute authority of God over all creation and the absolute authority given to Jesus by God over all creation. David recognizes the place of God over creation in the first and last declaration of His majesty.

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.

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. 

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. 

Life or Death

For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise? (Psalm 6:5 ESV)

God does not tell us much about eternity, either in or away from His presence. We can know being in His presence brings life and all of the peace and rest which comes with obedience and doing that for which people were created, and in Christ, re-created. We can also know those who exist outside of His presence, eternally absent from the source of life, are in agony and constant turmoil. These are simple and inadequate illustrations of the difference between heaven and hell. We know God will separate those who are His from those who continue willfully rebelling and sinning against Him.

God gives us clues about death, being separated from that which supports and maintains life. Death is the opposite of life. Death is non-life, removal from that which sustains life. In the physical world that which has life needs food, water and air. Remove any one of these three elements and life ceases, the organism dies and begins to decay. Sheol in the Hebrew is the equivalent of haides in the Greek, the grave, the pit, a place of no return, the place of the dead, the underworld. Both sheol and haides are considered hell by many. The place of the dead is not a place where those who die cease to exist but are conscious of who they are and their circumstances. 

David declares that those who have died have no remembrance of God and will not give Him praise. They will not remember Him nor thank Him or confess His greatness. This does not mean there is no consciousness for those in the grave. David is thinking of burial, the covering of dirt, entombing of a dead body, where it will decay. Those who knew the dead person can no longer hear their words or see their actions because in death they neither speak nor act.

Jacob uses the word sheol to describe what has happened to his son, Joseph, upon hearing the report of his death from his brothers. 

Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.(Genesis 37:34-35 ESV)

Those who have died are still under God’s control and government. Thus, the grave is an intermediate place between heaven and hell. Those who are wicked will eventually go to hell, away from God, the Giver of life, while those who are righteous will come into God’s eternal presence where they are sustained with life. Death and the grave bring mourning to those who remain alive. For those facing death there is tremendous fear of the unknown. They do not know what they are facing. 

King Hezekiah echoed David’s words as he lay dying, then wrote his own Psalm after he was healed, reflecting upon what God had done for him. When his body is placed in the grave he believed he would no longer praise God.

For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you;  those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness. the father makes known to the children your faithfulness” (Isaiah 38:18-19 ESV)

Jesus faced death. He saw beyond death. He spoke often about His own death but always continued speaking about His resurrection and what would happen because of His resurrection. During the last Passover week, Phillip and Andrew brought to Him a request by some Greek believers who wanted to see Jesus. Knowing His death would draw all men, Jews and Greeks, to Himself, He responded with a small parable. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:23-24 ESV). Many Christians believe this parable speaks directly to people. It does not. Jesus spoke about Himself. The grain of wheat is Jesus. Falling to the earth is His death. Bearing fruit is His resurrection. He must die to bring all to Himself. His fruit is the ingathering of all those who are His. They are in Him. He is their refuge.

But what of those who are not in Him? Death becomes eternal separation from God. There is a separation of those who hate God and continue in their rebellion against Him, and those who love God and obey His command to come to His Son. Hell becomes a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (see Matthew 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28). Those who hate life are sentenced to not have life. Death ends life.

Those who love Him will receive life. But only those who love Him more than they love their own life will receive life from God. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:25-26 ESV). For those who are separated out for God, physical death is not the end but the beginning of true life. 

Abiding Love

Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. (Psalm 6:4 ESV)

God turns toward those He calls, offering them His eternal mercy as they obey Him. He cannot abide sin in His presence. David’s words in this Psalm are a reflection of his words in Psalm 5, which pronounces judgment upon those who turn away from God. 

“For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. (Psalm 5:4-6 ESV).

God does not trust those who are in rebellion against Him. In the deepest thinking of their hearts lives the desire to do whatever can be conceived to hurt or kill God. People hate God and hate truth, evidenced by their clinging to the insanity of sin. Though created in His image, with all the tools needed to fulfill the design for their lives given by God, people are corrupt and unwilling to work for Him. No one who has sinned is able to do anything to make them righteous before God. God’s intent is to show all who rebel against Him their abject spiritual poverty and do for them that which they cannot do for themselves. He offers all people salvation from His justified wrath. But, they must trust Him and turn toward Him.

Mercy is active love. God actively loves those He has created in His image. Love is God’s active goodness and kindness toward everyone. His purpose for creating people in His image is for intimacy, which is a natural element of God’s eternal character. “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:15-16 ESV).

No one controls God. Those He brings into His presence enter because they obey His command to repent and declare His Son Messiah, Savior because of what He did. God decided to place upon His Son the sin of those in the world, who rebelled against Him, because of His eternal love for them, not because of anything they could do. People can do nothing to earn salvation. Nothing. God delivers life because of His eternal love. Our response to His love is to love Him in return. 

Hezekiah’s words express his eternal response to God even while his eyes are fixed on his temporary circumstance. “The LORD will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the LORD” (Isaiah 38:20 ESV). With the tools given in the image of God, people can think eternally. God wants us to recognize sin and hate it. He wants us to see our inability to do anything for ourselves that is righteous. He wants us to acknowledge all He has done for us by His grace. He loves us and wants an intimate relationship, receiving our love for Him as a natural part of our being His.

Turn means to return, come back, rotate toward. Where God turned His back on sin, He turns again and faces the one He loves. Deliver means to make strong, to withdraw or draw off, to rescue and set free. Soul is the same word used in 6:3. His soul was greatly troubled and now He is asking for God to withdraw His anger and wrath and give comfort and security. God’s steadfast love means His great mercy, His eternal purpose exercised in conjunction with His eternal goodness. To save means to give victory, be liberated and freed from the effects and sentence for sin. David, Hezekiah and Jesus all prayed God would keep them alive. Death is the ultimate consequence for sin. David and Hezekiah died and those who followed them turned away from God and were banished from the kingdom. Jesus died and was raised, and those who follow Him turn toward God as eternal citizens of His kingdom.

God turns toward the individual who rebels against Him, reaching out in compassion and love. He will not face them for eternity if they refuse to obey His commands and directives.

Obedience is expected and carries no merit before God. People continue to sin as long as they remain in the world. Sin has immediate and eternal consequences. Immediate consequences of sin affect the person and those who surround the person, who are influenced by them, even remotely. Eternal consequences are separation from Him who sustains life, which is existence without nourishment. Jesus took upon Himself the eternal consequences of sin and immediately gave to those who are His, the covering of His blood. People who sin, even those covered by the blood of Christ, suffer the immediate consequence but not the eternal effects. 

God turns toward us because we are found in Him. “Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love” (Psalm 6:4 ESV). God delivers us from death because His Son died in our stead and was raised. God loves us with steadfast love because He created us for relationship, giving His image to people. We are saved by Him and for Him. That we would continually acknowledge and praise Him and grow in our intimate knowledge of Him should be natural.

COVERED

For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:12 ESV)

God blesses the righteous. In Psalm 1, God blesses a righteous man. “Blessed is the man who walks not …”  (Psalm 1:1 ESV). This opening statement of the Psalms points to the One Man who has never done anything wicked or sinful. There is only One. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. If anyone else is righteous before God it is because they are found in Christ. They take refuge in Him. God blesses those in Christ because He blessed Christ and what happens to the Son of God happens to those in Him. “Therefore, the wicked will 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 wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:5-6 ESV).

How does God bless the Righteous One and those found righteous in Him? He will cover Him, which means to surround and to give a crown. Not only does God protect Him, spreading His “protection over them” (Psalm 5:11), those in Christ, but He gives Him a crown, seating Him in Zion. “As for men, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill”  (Psalm 2:6 ESV).Where God’s King is, so are His citizens.

Favor  is goodwill, acceptance, delight and pleasure. A shield  is a buckler and can also mean something piercing, a hook or barb. A shield is a defensive weapon designed to stop any attack without qualification. God does not even allow an attack to occur but hooks those who hate Him and leads them away from His presence.

God will allow nothing into eternity that conflicts with His ultimate will and purpose. His presence is enough to keep all protected from sin, from the Deceiver, and the world that draws people away from Him. There is no danger in His presence. There is peace and rest given to all whom he draws to Himself. Those found in Christ are protected and secure in their being and place before Him.

Throughout Jesus’ last week, after He entered the Temple and violently drove out those who desecrated His Father’s house, He challenged and was challenged by the religious leaders. They questioned Him, His authority, and His reason for acting violently against them. He challenged them, telling them parables meant to convict and draw out their sin so they might see their sin and repent. Just before launching into a long, multi-pronged accusation of them, Jesus asks them a simple question. Whose son is the Christ? “Jesus asked them a question, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?  They said to him, ‘The son of David’” (Matthew 22:41-42 ESV). They rightly answered. Messiah, the anointed One, the Son of God, known as Christ, is a descendant from the lineage of King David. He is a Man, as God originally created Man, without sin and with the character and personality of a servant, as Adam was created. 

Jesus then asks them other questions. “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him, Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matthew 22:43-45; see Psalm 110:1, Acts 2:34-35, Hebrews 1:13). How can Messiah be a son of a sinful man? How can Messiah be a man at all?

They were confounded. “And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions”(Matthew 22:46 ESV). They challenged God to debate. They sought to impose their traditions and will upon Him whom they are designed to serve. They refused to accept the words and works of the Man standing before them aware of the miracles He had performed, doing that which only God could do. Messiah was standing before them and they rejected Him.

David wrote the Psalms as prophecies of Messiah, of Christ. David’s heart reflected the thinking of the heart of Jesus. Though they hated Him and put Him to death, He fulfilled God’s ultimate, eternal purpose, and lives, reigning in eternity over His kingdom. His citizens are with Him. God’s blessings are on them because of Jesus. His blood covers them with His righteousness, protecting them. Christ’s blood is the only defense against sin, stronger than any fortress, impenetrable, a shield of God’s favor and protection.

An Introduction to Psalm 4

Meditations on the Psalms

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David. (Psalm 4:1 ESV)

David sings a song of joy to his relationship with God. His intent was to teach God’s people this Psalm to worship God, for the great things He had done. David wrote this song for the choirmaster, the Chief Musician, tasked with the responsibility of teaching others to sing in their worship. David’s song of worship is accompanied by stringed instruments.

From the morning, when David first arises and calls on the Name of the LORD, to the evening, as he prepares to sleep, David shows his confidence and trust in God. He knows God will answer him, though he is surrounded by many enemies, though his days are filled with stress and the command decisions of leadership. He also knows God will protect him from his enemies, giving him a peace to sleep while in the world and in God’s secure presence.

Though written by David, this Psalm is a prophecy of Jesus Christ, revealing the thinking of Jesus’ heart as He lives in a world in rebellion against God. Jesus knew God would listen to Him and answer Him when He called. Though surrounded by those who wished Him dead, and plotted to murder Him, His work and words reflect His complete trust in God.

We will examine the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in relation to this Psalm. I am not suggesting this Psalm is a prophecy of Jesus’ acts and words found in this Gospel story but that some of the circumstances found in that story fit the words of this Psalm.

It is important we know the context of the story of the raising of Lazarus. John, the disciple, tells us this story beginning in John 11:1. However, the words, teachings and actions of Jesus, of those who witnessed the raising of Lazarus, and the response of the religious leaders who mapped out the premeditated murder of Jesus and of Lazarus, moves through John 12:50.

Though David wrote this Psalm almost a thousand years before Jesus’ birth, Jesus lived it out.

A Psalm of David

Meditations on the Psalms

Psalm 3

A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son. (Psalm 3:1 ESV)

King David, the writer and co-author of this Psalm, was a man after God’s own heart. He was one of the few kings in Israel who truly sought God and did what was right in His eyes. God spoke to Solomon, David’s son, telling him to emulate his father and walk “in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked” (1 Kings 3;14 ESV; see 1 Kings 11:14, 15:3, 16:2). As closely as David walked with God he still sinned greatly, committing murder and adultery, coveting that which was not his and disobeying God’s direct commands. Confronted by his sin, David repented wholly, expressing his deepest mourning over sin in songs and words and deeds. His writings are considered prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, Messiah, who is descended from David (see Matthew 1:6, Luke 3:31).

Absalom, one of King David’s many sons, challenged his father’s place as authority over Israel. David fled from him for a time. There is more to the back story. Absalom’s sister, Tamar, was raped by his half-brother, Amnon, who was the eldest son of David. Amnon was the crown prince and stood to inherit the kingdom from his father. When Absalom learned of Amnon detestable crime against his sister and his family, he hated him with a deep passion. David, the father of all these children, heard what happened and did nothing. Absalom took matters into his own hands and avenged the rape of his sister by killing the rapist. Then Absalom fled from the king, his father. (2 Samuel 13:1-39.)

King David longed for his son and finally sent his general, Joab, to retrieve Absalom from exile. But the king refused to let his son into his presence. “‘Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence.’ So Absalom lived apart in his own house and did not come into the king’s presence” (2 Samuel 14:24 ESV). Absalom was handsome and well-liked by the people. He was a man capable of getting the attention he wanted in unethical ways. He finally manipulated Joab to convince the king, his father, to lift the banishment and see him. (2 Samuel 14:1-33.)

Next, Absalom, emboldened by his successes against Amnon, Joab and his father, conspired to take the throne through intrigue. His political acumen swayed the people to his side, and his posturing scared the king. David determined the best course for him and his loyal servants was to flee from Absalom. “Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, ‘Arise, and let us flee, or else there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Go quickly, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword’” (2 Samuel 15:14 ESV).

As David was deserting Jerusalem, Shimei, son of Gera, cursed him from a place overlooking the road. Shimei hurled insults and accusations, revealing many of the sins David committed and from which he already repented. But actions done cannot be undone. His actions, which revealed the thinking of his heart, were cherry-picked by his enemies and used against him. What we do counts for now and for eternity.

When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came he cursed continually. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The LORD has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.” (2 Samuel 16:5-8 ESV)

David’s response suggests he felt he deserved the rebuke and cursing falling upon his head from above. “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to” (2 Samuel 16:11 ESV). David felt God was no longer on his side but against him. Instead of cursing God, or complaining to God, David wrote a Psalm extolling God’s presence and His desire for intimacy.

Though all his circumstances look bleak and black, the king recognized God was still in control and would do that which He decreed. All of the Psalms written by David were inspired by the Holy Spirit while many of them revealed David’s intense love for God and desire to trust Him wholly no matter the circumstance.

Though Psalm 3 is written by David as a lament and a declaration of desperate trust in God, revealing the depths of pain felt in his heart, it is also a prayer of Jesus as He faced those who hated Him and wanted Him murdered. David experienced many things at the hands of those who hated him. As the distant father of Jesus, who is descended through the line of David, his writings are prophecies of the King of kings who is to come.