The Psalms: Book 4
Psalm 90 A Tale Of Two Returns.
This psalm begins book four in the psalter and is the only psalm ascribed to Moses, the prophet, historian, and man of God. There could be no better person to speak of the Lord as our “dwelling place in all generations.” (v. 1) It wasn’t just when they had the tabernacle, or later the temple (Cf. Ezek. 11:16). In all generations, that is, passed down from each to the next, God Himself has been their dwelling place. The Lord was never a figment of Moses’ imagination, or any other man. Other religions have to manufacture their gods, but our God has existed from all eternity-“from everlasting to everlasting,” He will continue on forever (v. 2).
All the stuff of creation, the very stuff that men use to construct their idols, including their own minds, is the creation of our everlasting God. They are like little children playing in the sand that daddy put in the sand box-thinking all along that they are constructing the whole world in their image. But men are dwarfed by the magnificent mountains of his good creation. Men are but dust creatures, and with the fall, the body returns from whence it came (v. 3 Cf. Gen. 3:19; Job 34:14-15), like an evening sleep, and the grass that withers (vv. 5-6). Time means nothing to our God-He also created it (v. 4 Cf. II Pet. 3:8)! It is God’s word alone which endures (Cf. Is. 40:6-8).
Moses was also a man well acquainted with the failings of God’s people (v. 7). He knew that nothing was hidden from God. Not only is He eternal, but He is also omniscient. Nothing is hidden from the all-knowing One (v. 8). Most men will not live past seventy, though God strengthens some to eighty. But these are years of “labor and sorrow.” (v. 10). As is His knowledge, so is His wrath. It is only by His compassion and mercy that all men are not consumed (vv. 13-14). This knowledge should lead us to pray Moses’ prayer here. “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (v. 12)
By God’s mercy all our days are not just sorrow and labour. There is rejoicing and gladness also. At the very least, Moses prays for days of joy and gladness to number those of affliction (v. 15). However, in God’s mercy, it is possible to “rejoice and be glad all our days.” (v. 14) Oddly enough, in light of so much pagan escapist thought in the church today, Moses does not simply say we must wait for the sweet by and by. Quite the opposite in fact. Moses was into kingdom building-God’s kingdom, God’s way. Moses prayed for God to show him some of His work he and the people could do, including the next generation.
“Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.” (vv. 16-17). Note this well, Moses only begins to use the covenant name LORD when he speaks of the LORD returning to have compassion on His people. Restoration and transformation is a covenantal work. Kingdom work is also covenantal work, and the passing on to the next generation. The church needs to pray to see the LORD’s work today, and engage in it for His glory. We also need to understand that this is a covenantal work, which God alone can establish.
Psalm 91 Deliverance And Refuge With The LORD’s Presence.
The LORD’s presence is a refuge for those who trust in Him, even in the midst of war (vv. 1-4 Cf. Pss. 17:8-9; 27:5; 31:20; 32:7; 34:7; 142:5-7; Is. 25:4). This is what it means to trust in His name (Pss. 9:10; 124:6-8). There are many things in the life of the saint which seem to lay waste-day and night, darkness and noonday (vv. 5-6). There are occasions when there seems to be no safe place or time. Nevertheless, even in the midst of war and an overwhelming number of enemy forces, the LORD promises victory (vv. 7-8). This is the reward of those who trust in Him, even for Messiah (vv. 9-11).
The promise of verses 11-12 did find fulfillment in the coming of Christ (Cf. Mt. 4:6; Lk. 4:10-11; Heb. 1:14). Furthermore, verse 13 may not have a direct quote, but it certainly has a direct fulfillment. The promised seed would come to trample Satan under His feet (Gen. 3:15) which finds fulfillment in Christ and the church (Rom. 16:20; Rev. 12:7, 17). Likewise verse 14 finds fuller expression in Psalms 110, 8, and 2. This salvation is for all who call upon Him, and it is to God’s glory (vv. 15-16 Cf. 50:15). Whether through fire or water, the LORD will deliver (Cf. Is. 43:2).
Psalm 92 Flourishing In The LORD!
“It is good to give thanks to the LORD.” (v. 1a) There is no greater good than to be thankful, not just to God our creator, but to the LORD of the covenant, our redeemer. Gratitude is the best attitude for a healthy spiritual life. We have much to be thankful to the LORD for. This is the only satisfying root of praise to His name-which refers to His whole being and works in the world (v. 1b Cf. Ps. 97:12). Praise to the LORD is indeed a pleasant and beautiful thing (Cf. Pss. 33:1; 135:3; 147:1).
The LORD’s lovingkindness is one thing to be thankful for among the saints, for it is unique to the covenant community (Cf. Ps. 89:1-4). With the beginning of the day it is good to remember the LORD of the covenant of grace, shown also in His faithfulness to the end of the day (v. 2). Contrary to the unbiblical notion of the regulative principle of worship, our praise should also be instrumental (v. 3 Cf. I Chron. 23:5)! From this we understand that the LORD gifts people to make and play these instruments for His praise.
Again, praising His name not only speaks to His character, but also to His works which reveal His character and sovereign activity in the world, for the good of His people and His glory (v. 4 Cf. Rev. 15:3-4). His works make His people glad. In His works we triumph! Furthermore, He accompanies His works with His word-His thoughts given by revelation (v. 5 Cf. Ps. 40:5). Without His thoughts man is senseless and does not know, the fool does not understand, and such is everyone who rejects His thoughts (v. 6 Cf. Ps. 73:22).
The wicked workers of iniquity are destined for destruction (v. 7 Cf. Ps. 37:1-2), though at times it seems like they prosper and go unpunished (Cf. Job 12:6; Jer. 12:-2; Mal. 3:15). The LORD is exalted on high forevermore, but His enemies will be scattered and destroyed (vv. 8-9). Their destruction exalts the name of the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD (Cf. Pss. 68:1; 83:18)! The power and influence of the covenant people will be exalted, with victory over our enemies (vv. 10-11 Cf. Pss. 23:5; 54:7).
This is a Messianic promise (Cf. Ps. 89:17). The long term promise for the righteous, that is, the members of the covenant of grace, is prosperity, flourishing in this life (v. 12 Cf. Nu. 24:6; Ps. 52:8; Jer. 17:8; Hos. 14:5-6)! “Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” (vv. 13-15).
These are the blessings of the covenant relationship (Cf. Dt. 33), for the LORD is righteous (Cf. Dt. 32:4; Rom. 9:14-15). These are those who are planted. Nothing plants itself-it is the LORD’s doing, particularly in His house, whose house we are (Cf. Heb. 3:6). Furthermore, the righteous are like trees firmly rooted and bearing fruit. The wicked, on the other hand, are like flashy grass, fragile a passing as quick as it seems to grow. Even in old age, the righteous will flourish, bearing fruit to the very end, declaring that the LORD of the covenant is righteous and a rock.
Psalm 93 “The LORD reigns!”
“The LORD reigns.” One wonders how many read those words and really don’t believe that it applies to this world in our present space-time reality. However, it is not just that the sovereign maker and sustainer of all things reigns, but rather, it is the covenant LORD of history who intervened in salvation history for the redemption of His people-this is He who reigns! It is this covenant making and covenant keeping LORD who is clothed with majesty (v. 1a).
He is strong, and in addition to being our covenant LORD is in fact also the one who established the world and sustains it (v. 1b). Without beginning, His reign has always been and always shall be, shared as it is now by the risen Messiah Prophet-Priest-King, with a sceptre of righteousness (v. 2 Cf. Ps. 45:6; 110; Lam. 5:19). This covenant LORD is mightier than the mightiest waters (vv. 3-4), symbolic as it is of the nations of the earth (Cf. Ps. 18:4; 65:7)
The foundation of all, the first axiom of all thought and existence, are His testimonies (v. 5a). The word of the LORD is not only sure, it is “very sure.” (v. 5a). All sound theology, that is, the study of God, finds its only sure foundation in His testimonies. Testimonies is a fitting word, for it is more than intellectual ideas, it is a testimony in history of the LORD of the covenant acting on behalf of His people. His word is more solid that the world itself.
We are His house, the building of which is the goal of this covenant relationship-old and new (Heb. 3:6). The uniform, the glorious apparel of the members of this house, is the holiness of the LORD. His reign is a holy reign-set apart and representing all that is good, and right, and just, and pure. It is a holy reign over all men, who will one day have to give Him an accounting (Ps. 96:10). He reigns, in part, to ensure the building of this house (Cf. Mt. 16:18; 28:18-20).
Psalm 94 The LORD God Is Our Help And Comfort.
Vengeance belongs to the covenant making and covenant keeping LORD (v. 1 Cf. Lev. 19:18; Dt. 32:35; Is. 35:4; Na. 1:2; Rom. 12:19). He is also the only judge of the whole earth (v. 2 Cf. Gen. 18:25). Leaving vengeance to the LORD is the only answer to the seeming triumph of the wicked (v. 3 Cf. Job 20:5), who speak and act against God’s covenant people, including the widow, the stranger, and the fatherless-His heritage (vv. 4-6 Cf. Ps. 31:18; Jude 15). The wicked do this because they believe that, “the LORD does not see, nor does the God of Jacob understand.” (v. 7 Cf. Job 22:13; Ps. 10:11).
However, the LORD does see and understand (v. 8). The LORD is not like the gods of men’s imaginations. Only the senseless and foolish would think that the LORD needs ears to hear or eyes to see, for He created all things (v. 9 Cf. Ex. 4:11; Pr. 20:12). There are competing thoughts-futile ones from men apart from God, and the LORD’s teaching and instruction (vv. 10-11). Paul looked to this Psalm to prove his argument concerning the futility of human wisdom (I Cor. 3:20) Those who are taught by the LORD, out of His law, are blessed and find rest from the wicked (vv. 12-13), for they are His covenant people (v. 14).
The LORD’s instruction is discipline for the saints (v. 12 Cf. Dt. 8:5; Job 5:17; Ps. 119:71; Pr. 3:11-12; Heb. 12:5-6). Judgment will be based on righteousness, “and all the upright will follow it.” (v. 15) There is no one else who can stand up to the wicked (v. 16). The LORD must be our help (v. 17), and this help is based on mercy, for we really don’t deserve it (v. 18). “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” (v. 19) Many of us have a multitude of anxieties within, but the LORD’s comforts meet them all, and so our souls delight in Him. Evil will not triumph, even if by law (v. 20).
As Bob Dylan once wrote, we have lawbreakers making rules. However, even politicians, legislators, judges, lawyers, and all their coterie, will not be able to stand against the covenant LORD or His heritage. All law is not equal, and law made and enforced by lawbreakers doesn’t make it right, nor that it will endure (vv. 20-22 Cf. Ex. 23:7; Pr. 17:15; Amos 6:3). There is also another important judgment here-even those who enjoy the external benefits of the covenant relationship shall be cut off, that is, they stand accursed (v. 23 Cf. Ps. 106:38; Mt. 27:4).
The modern apostate church is accursed for rejecting the law-word of the covenant, and denying the faith that was once and for all entrusted to the saints. Church leaders saying that God somehow now condones what His law still condemns, will themselves suffer under their own iniquity. This is what the LORD will bring upon them (v. 23). However, the keepers of the covenant will be blessed with comforts equal to and surpassing their many anxieties (vv. 12-19). The LORD helps all who look to Him for mercy, but the proud and wicked will be caught by their own devices (vv. 13-14).
Psalm 95 Words Of Covenantal Witness.
The psalmist begins this psalm with praise to the covenant LORD for being the rock of his salvation (v. 1). This is cause for joyful shouts and singing. The chief thing a sinner can do in response is to give thanks for it is all of grace (v. 2 Cf. Eph. 5:20). The word ‘psalms’ of course refers to more than just the psalms per se, but all songs and hymns are psalms and vice versa, just as a song is a hymn and vice versa (Cf. Eph. 5:19; Js. 5:13). The psalter could just as well be called the song book or hymnal.
Thanksgiving is also given because this covenant making and covenant keeping LORD is in fact the great God and King above all gods (Cf. Ps. 96:4; I Cor. 8:5-6). The church’s covenant LORD is God over all (v. 3). This is the sovereign creator and sustainer of everything that exists, earth and sea (vv. 4-5 Cf. Gen. 1-2; Jn. 1:9). So we kneel before Him and worship because He is both our covenant LORD and our Maker. As such He also looks after us as a Shepherd His sheep (v. 6-7b Cf. Ps. 79:13).
The above half of this psalm is mostly forgotten when folks look at the portion following, quoted as it is in the new testament (vv. 7c-11). As such this portion is understood out of its given context, when that was not the intention. The author of Hebrews intended quite the opposite, as he knew the readers would know all of this psalm he simply wanted to draw to his point (3:7-11, 15; 4:7). The writer to the Hebrews in fact helps provide us with commentary, and an understanding of the principles of biblical interpretation which he employed.
The psalmist takes us back to the attempted journey of the covenant people after the crossing of the red sea. It began well, with an obedient response to God’s command, but it quickly degenerated into grumbling, as they were ungrateful and failed to continue to give thanks to their covenant LORD for His provision (Cf. Exodus 17:1-7). This passage does not tell the whole story however, for we also learn that Moses was judged because he struck the rock twice and does not appear to have spoken the word of the Lord first (Nu. 20:7-13).
Moses doubled up on the act of striking the rock which took the place of the spoken word which must always precede and be the basis for all that we do. The word ‘today’ speaks to the fact that this is an ever present danger every day. As with that generation, including Moses, the warning is to heed God’s voice, His holy and infallible word (v. 7c). The battle ground starts with the human heart-the core of our beings, especially the root of our thoughts. To harden ones heart is to refuse and reject the word of God (v. 8).
To reject God’s word in this way is to test Him and rebel, even though that word has always accompanied His acts in history which also bear witness (v. 9 Cf. Ps. 78:17-20; Acts 7:36; 13:18; I Cor. 10:9). This does not simply involve history in general, but it was their history, a history which they had with the covenant making and covenant keeping God of their redemption and the maker of the whole earth. Again, people go astray first at their core in their hearts, and actions, including words spoken, are what follows.
The acts of the LORD God in history are more than bare factuality, they also reveal his “ways” (v. 10). All persons reveal their ways by how they act, and the LORD God is no different. The people did not understand His ways from His words and acts in history. For this reason they would not enter his rest. For some, like Moses, this was temporal barring from the promised land, but not the eternal rest. For others it was both the land of promise and the eternal rest. For some it would be a barring from the eternal rest even though they would enter the land of promise.
By this we are to understand that the two are never synonymous. For those like Moses it was bittersweet-the eternal would come but he didn’t fulfill all he could have while on his pilgrimage here on earth. For those ignorant of the eternal rest their final state would be bitter through and through. The people were bitter, and except for Joshua and Caleb, the varying degrees of that bitterness and how long it lasted revealed their ends (Nu. 14:20-35; Dt. 1:34-40). Beware of bitterness, for as with all things it starts as a root in the heart (Heb. 3:7-4:13)!
Psalm 96 A New Song.
The gospel, “the good news of His salvation,” has been a “new song” since the first gospel promise of Genesis 3:15. Enmity with sin and the Seed who would reign victorious is the same message today, for as the psalmist writes, it is “day to day.” There is no end for the people of God. Every day it is new as He continues to work in us according to His good pleasure and will-that He would be our God and we His people. He is our Rock among the shifting thoughts of humanity. We call upon the whole earth to sing this song, for this salvation involves everything (vv.1-2 Cf. I Chr. 16:23-33).
It is a message that was always intended for the nations and peoples of the earth to hear, for there is no other god besides this God (vv. 3-4 Cf. 95:3; 145:3; Jer. 10:11). There is no salvation in the status quo of “to each their own”. The covenant making and covenant keeping LORD, is He who made the heavens (Cf. 115:15; Is. 42:5). There is not even any generic Creator-He is the LORD God of the covenant, a personal God who chose to redeem a people among fallen humanity. The whole earth is called to worship in His sanctuary (vv. 5-6). His name deserves to be glorified, and offerings given.
However, we cannot come as we please, for we must come “in the beauty of holiness!” (v. 9 Cf. II Chron. 20:21Ps. 29:1-2) There has never been a time when the LORD has not reigned in the world and among all peoples (v. 10 Cf. Pss. 2, 45; 47; 67; 69; 93; 96-99; 105; 110; Is. 2; 49ff.; Rev. 11:15; 19:6). This is the new song we sing, and the good news of salvation which we speak. God cannot be moved, therefore His purposes stand. The heavens, the earth, the sea, field and trees, are in unison in this song with us (vv. 11-12). For this reason there has always been an eschatological end of judgment in righteousness (v. 13 Cf. Rev. 19:11).
Psalm 97 Of Praise To The Sovereign LORD.
So continues our treatment of the songs of victory-‘A new song of praise to the sovereign LORD, praise for His salvation and for judgment-praise to the LORD for His holiness.’ (Pss. 96-99). “The LORD reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad!” (v. 1 Cf. 96:10) This verse connects us beautifully with the preceding psalm. There is no habitation so small in the earth that praise to the LORD is not fitting. This is a revelation of the theophanic storm cloud of glory (Cf. Pss. 18; 29)!
He dwells in the glory presence above the whole earth (vv. 2-4 Cf. Ex. 19:9-18; Dt. 4:11; Pss. 18:8-11; 89:14; Dan. 7:10; Hab. 3:5), overshadowing the house of God (I Kgs. 8:12-13). The mountains, which symbolize the kingdoms of the earth, melt before Him (v. 5 Cf. Ps. 46:6; Am. 9:5; Mic. 1:2-4; Nah. 1:5). A message is declared. “The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory.” (v. 6 Cf. Pss. 19:1; 96:10) Not just some peoples-all! His righteousness shows His glory.
Therefore shame be upon all idolaters (v. 7 Cf. Ex. 20:4). Whatever is not from the covenant LORD is idolatry. In fact, verse 7 is quoted by the writer to the Hebrews as a call to all to worship Messiah alone in his exaltation (vv. 5-7), presentation (vv. 8-12), and enthronement (vv. 13-14) [Cf. I Pet. 3:22; Rev. 5:11-14]. Zion, that is the church (Cf. Ps. 125:1; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 14:1), “hears and is glad,” for his judgments in the earth, for the covenant LORD is above all gods (vv. 8-9 Cf. Ex. 18:11; Pss. 95:3; 96:4).
Loving the LORD involves hating evil, and He promises to deliver us from the wicked (v. 10 Cf. Pss. 31:23; 34:14; 37:40; 145:20; Pr. 2:8; 8:14; Jer. 15:21; Dan. 3:28; Am. 5:15; Rom. 12:9; ). Those who are in covenant with the LORD will have enemies, but the saints will see the light of the LORD’s righteousness and be glad (vv. 11-12 Cf. Job 22:28; Ps. 112:4; Pr. 4:18). Thanksgiving flows from those who remember his name, for this righteousness is not our own but that of His name, which is holy (Cf. Pss. 30:4-5; 33:1; 83:18).
Psalm 98 Praise For His Salvation and For Judgment.
The psalmist sings this new song we have been singing (Pss. 33:3; 97; Is. 42:10). We sing not only for who He is, but also in what He has done and continues to do. This is another song of victory gained at His right hand with His holy arm (v.1 Cf. Eph. 6:12)! His salvation has been made known. No one can plead ignorance (v. 2 Is. 52:10; 62:2; Lk. 1:77; 2:30;-31). Of course, this is the only way that salvation is known-God procuring and choosing to reveal it! He has remembered (v. 3)!
It is a covenantal remembrance of salvation-mercy and faithfulness to His house (Cf. Is. 49:6; Lk. 3:6; Acts 13:37; 28:28). What cause for shouting joyfully (v. 4)! Where O house of God is your joy? The rocks of the earth will scream above your stubborn thanklessness! Be gone you pagans who bar the use of instruments in His holy praise, claiming a worship more holy than the theophanic glory-cloud! Let every molecule and atom be split to thunderous applause-harp, trumpets , and horns!
“Shout joyfully before the LORD, the King. Let us sing to our covenantal King (vv. 4-6)! The sea itself will roar and all creatures of the earth (V. 7 Cf. Ps. 46:2-3)! Rivers will clap and mountains together will rejoice before the presence of His glory. Therefore judgment will come upon all who keep silent. His righteousness is the only standard of truth and justice, and there is no favouritism with Him (Cf. Ps. 96:10-130. “Marvelous things indeed (v. 1 Cf. Ps. 9:1).
Psalm 99 Praise To the LORD For His Holiness.
This next song continues the common theme of victory-“The LORD reigns.” (v. 1 Cf. 96:10; 97:1; 98:1). The peoples ought therefore to tremble before Him, for as seen in the previous song, He dwells in the midst of the glory-cloud (v. 2 Cf. Ex. 25:22; I Sam. 4:4; Ps. 80:1). He also dwells peculiarly among His covenanted people in Zion, to rule high above all peoples for He is holy (v. 3)! Justice, righteousness, and equity are what occupy his throne (v.4). The LORD God is worshipped because He is holy (v.5)!
There was a priestly ministry that called upon the LORD (v. 6 Cf. I Sam. 7:9; 12:18), and “He spoke to them in the cloudy pillar.” (v. 7a) The word was the foundation of all. It is the first axiom of all thought and existence, and the church’s regulative principle of worship, to do only that which He commands. Therefore, “They kept His testimonies and the ordinance He gave them.” (v. 7b) He is “the God who forgives” though there were consequences for all they had done (v. 8). “For the LORD our God is holy!’ (v. 9)
Psalm 100 Thanksgiving!
This is a fitting way to end the first 100 psalms. “Make a joyful shout to the LORD our God, all you lands!” The psalter is a missionary hymnal to spread the good news throughout all lands. It is a shame when people think that serving the LORD is devoid of gladness (v. 1 Cf. Ps. 95:1). The psalmist calls the peoples to “come before His presence with singing.” It is all he says at this point (v. 2)! However, he gives his reason-The covenant making and covenant keeping LORD is both Creator and Redeemer of His people. He made us, and we are “His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (v. 3 Cf. ; Ezek. 34:30-31; Eph. 2:10)
Lack of thanks is the root of all bitterness and rebellion. Thankfulness is the only proper response to the covenant LORD God (Cf. Ps. 66:13). Dare one enter His gates and courts, the place of worship but also judgment, without it (v. 4). It is the only way to bless His name. We have cause-“For the LORD is good.” (v.5a) So we worship for who He is. However, we also worship for what He has done and continues to do, for-“His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (v. 5bc) Without truth, words like good and mercy are empty, but with Him truth includes both. “His mercy endures forever!” (Cf. Ps. 136)
Psalm 101 Two Hearts-Two Houses.
Only with the LORD God do mercy and justice truly meet. It is reason enough to praise Him (v. 1). It is a perfect way that displays wisdom, which the psalmist seeks. But only if the LORD comes to us can we walk securely in this perfect way (v. 2). Eyes must be guarded-even and especially in one’s own house. God sees and knows, even when others do not. The heart is the crux and root of the matter, from it all else flows (v. 4 Cf. I Kgs. 11:4).
There is nothing secret or hidden from the LORD. Failure to love God and one’s neighbour summarizes the matter (v. 5 Cf. Mt. 22:37-40). Faithful covenant keepers will be those who dwell in His presence, but the wicked will be cut off with a covenantal curse (Ps. 75:10). God’s house and city must rule ours (vv. 6-8 Cf. Pss. 48:2, 8; 119:115). “But as for me and my house we will serve the LORD.” (Josh. 24:15). A tale of two hearts and two houses.
Psalm 102 The LORD Has Come.
A soul in distress knows the importance of answered prayer and pleads for it (vv. 1-3). There are times when the spiritual melancholy cuts to the core (v. 4). It is like going without food, water, and sleep (vv. 5-7). The saints have enemies, but it is especially difficult when it seems like they are one with God (vv. 8-11). Such is the deception of one’s outward circumstances. But the covenant LORD remembers and is remembered as the one who is sovereign over all throughout the generations (v. 12). He has mercy on Zion, His church (Ps. 125:1; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 14:1). A time of favour has come (v. 13). He will build her up and answer her prayers (vv. 14-17 Cf. Mt. 16:18-19), even as the Father answered His (Ps. 22:24).
The record of God’s love for Zion has been written for all succeeding generations to read and know the truth (v. 18). From heaven He reigns over this kingdom (v. 19 Cf. Ps. 110). Prisoners appointed for death have been released, therefore praise is found in Zion (vv. 20-21). The kingdoms and peoples shall also be gathered to serve Him (v. 22 Cf. Ps. 2). The psalmist did not want to be taken away without being witness to this glory (vv. 23-24). This is the one predicted and spoken of by the writer to the Hebrews (vv. 25-27; Heb. 1:10-12; Cf. Gen. 1:1; Neh. 9:6; Is. 34:4; 51:6; Mt. 24:35; II Pet. 3:7, 10-12; Rev. 20:11). God the Son does not change therefore His people are secure (vv. 27-28 Cf. Ps. 69:36; Is. 41:4; 43:10; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; Js. 1:17).
Psalm 103 Heeding The Voice Of His Word.
The psalmist counsels himself that an attitude of gratitude is the beginning of true praise (vv. 1-2). The first thing he is thankful for, and the thing needful for the worship of a holy God, is forgiveness (vv. 3-4 Cf. 130:8; Is. 53:5; Jer. 17:14; Acts 13:38). But the saints are thankful for all the good things we enjoy (v. 5 Cf. Ps. 5:12; Is. 40:31). The covenant making and covenant keeping “LORD executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.” (v. 6) This is the LORD who has acted in history for the redemption of His people for they found grace in His sight (v. 7 Cf. Ex. 33:12-17).
“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” (v, 8 Cf. Ex. 34:6-7; Nu. 14:18; Dt. 5:10; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15; Jer. 32:18; Jon. 4:2; Js. 5:11) “His favour is for life.” (Ps. 30:5 Cf. v. 9; Is. 57:16) His anger is but for a moment, though our sins merit it (v. 10 Cf. Jer. 3:5). The iniquity of the remnant is pardoned (Cf. Mic. 7:18; Ezra 9:8-15). His mercy has no limit, and as east and west will never meet so our sins are gone from us forever (vv. 11-12 Cf. Is. 38:17; 43:25; Zech. 3:9; Heb. 9:26). He pities His children as His jewels (vv. 13, 17 Cf. Mal. 3:17; Rom. 8:12-17).
“For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” (v. 14) Man and his word fades like grass, but God’s word lasts forever (vv. 15-16 Cf. Is. 40:6-8; I Pet. 1:24-25; Js. 1:10-11). This is the inheritance of His covenant children (vv. 17-18), and those who know His covenant love keep His law (v. 18 Cf. Dt. 7:9; Ps. 25:10). He reigns over all the earth (v. 19 Cf. Ps. 47:2; Dan. 4:17, 25). The whole host of heaven serves in His kingdom, to do His will (vv. 20-22 Cf. Ps. 148:2; Heb. 1:14). This is also the prayer of His people (Mt. 6:10). The whole universe is His dominion (Cf. Ps. 8:6; Dan. 9:34; Jude 25).
Psalm 104 God Is sovereign-We Sing Because We Are Glad.
The covenant making and covenant keeping LORD is the creator and sustainer of all that is. With honour and majesty He walks on the clouds and winds with angels ministering. It makes all the more significant the reference to Christ in verse 4 by the writer to the Hebrews (1:7). The world is His creation (v.5). He sets the boundaries of the waters (vv. 6-9 Cf. Gen.1:6; 9:11-15; Ps. 33:7; Jer. 5:22), and they provide life to all His creatures (vv.10-12), and causes fruit to grow (v.13). He provides vegetation for man and beast (v. 14 Cf. Gen. 1:29; Job 36:31; Pss. 65:9; 136:25; 147:8; Is. 32:15), wine, oil, and bread for humanity (v.15 Cf. Jud. 9:13; Prov. 31:6; Eccl. 10:19; Ps. 23:5; Job 28:5), sap in the trees, a home for birds and other creatures (vv.16-17), and the rocks and hills as well (v.18).
There is a boundary of light and darkness which is His work as well (vv.19-20 Cf. Gen. 1:3-4; Job 26:10; Is. 45:7). With the celestial array He also created time (Gen. 1:14; Job 38:12; Ps. 19:6; 74:16). There is a time and place for man and beast (vv. 21-23, 25-26). All these things are manifold and wonderful works (v. 24 Cf. Ps. 40:5), created and sustained with wisdom (Prov. 3:19; Jer. 10:12). All creatures are dependent on the LORD (vv.27-28). He is the giver and taker of life itself (vv. 29-30 Job 34:15; Eccl. 12:7). His creation reveals His glory and He rejoices in His works (v.31)! This should give us pause to do the same. Just one look and the earth trembles, just one touch and they smoke (v. 32 Cf. Ex. 19:18; Ps. 144:5; Hab. 3:10). It causes the psalmist to want to sing (v. 33 Cf. Ps. 63:4).
When it says that God hides His face (v. 29), it means that the LORD is withdrawing His covenant blessings. However, the psalmist was glad in his covenant LORD (v. 34). He was glad for His creation and providence. People often forget the other half of the answer to the catechism’s first question-“What is the chief end of man?” the answer is to glorify and enjoy Him forever. We know much about the giving of glory to God and rightly so. However, the scriptures also direct us to enjoy Him forever. The psalmist wanted his meditation to be sweet because he was glad in the LORD (Cf. Ps. 19:14)! It is a spiritual place where sin cannot dwell and those sold to it (v.35 Cf. 37:38). Worship is commanded and is fitting and right, but the saints sing because they are glad.
Psalm 105 He Remembers His Covenant Forever!
This psalm is repeated outside the psalter (I Chron. 16:8-22). David gives thanks to the LORD for remembering his covenant (v. 8 Cf. Lk. 1:72-73). He called for thanksgiving for the LORD’s deeds done among all people, for His chosen ones (vv. 1, 6 Cf. Is. 12:4). These were “wondrous works!” (v. 2 Cf. 119:27; 145:12). He has acted in history on behalf of His people, therefore they rejoice and seek after Him (vv. 3-4 Cf. Ps. 27:8). His judgments are also a marvelous work, known in all the earth (vv. 5, 7 Cf. 77:11; Is. 26:9). This covenant was made with Abraham, remained as an oath to Isaac, and confirmed to Jacob as a statute and to Israel as everlasting-all children of promise (vv. 8-12 Cf. Gen. 15:18; 17:2; Gal. 3:17; Heb. 6:17). It was not based upon anything in them (Cf. Dt. 7:7; Heb. 11:9).
The Christian life is a pilgrimage of promise, but it has never been purely of heaven or the spirit only. Part of this promise is for a resurrection body and a new heavens and new earth. It is a grave mistake to think of the people of faith as escapists from the world. The promised land was simply a microcosm of God’s intention for the whole earth. The meek shall inherit the earth (Mt. 5:5), and we are to pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, where it is done perfectly (Mt. 6:10). God acted in history among all the kingdoms on behalf of His covenant people, and He still does (vv. 13-15 Cf. Mt. 28:18-20). He rules all creation for this purpose (v. 16). He raised up the slave Joseph and delivered and appointed him to this end (vv. 17-22).
Israel may have been a stranger in a foreign land, but they increased and became stronger than their enemies (vv. 23-24). In God’s sovereignty, they then turned against his people (v. 25), and Moses and Aaron were sent to deliver them (vv. 26-27). He also made the whole created order to serve His redemptive purposes, including the destruction of all the firstborn of their enemies (vv. 28-36). Yet, not only were they delivered, but they came out from them with riches, because they were feared (vv. 37-38). The LORD led and guided them and ruled the whole of the created order for their good (vv. 39-41). This was all because “He remembered His holy promise, and Abraham His servant.” (v. 42) It was a covenant of promise that the LORD remembered.
They had joy and gladness and inherited what others had laboured to produce (vv. 43-44). There was a reason for this deliverance according to the covenant of promise. “That they might observe His statutes and keep His laws.” (v. 45) They weren’t delivered because of these works. They were delivered and granted victory and blessings because of the promise. However, the goal and standard that they were to then live by was God’s law. Nothing has changed. It has always been this way. Obedience to the law is the result of God’s promise fulfilled in His people because of His mercy and grace. Furthermore, it involved the application of the word to all of life. God expects nothing less (Cf. Dt. 4:1, 40). “He remembers His covenant forever!” (v. 8) “Praise the LORD!” (v. 45).
Psalm 106 A History Of Rebellion and forgiveness.
In this last of the psalms in book 4 the psalmist praises the LORD for His goodness and mercy (v.1; I Chron. 16:34). His mighty acts are many (v.2). He blesses those who keep righteousness and justice (v. 3 Cf. Ps.15:2). Most of all he seeks the LORD for His salvation (v.4), to enjoy the benefits of His covenant people (v.5 Cf. 119:132). He acknowledges there sin-a very necessary prerequisite (v. 6), with specific examples from there history (v.7). “Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, that He might make His mighty power known.” (v. 8 Cf. Ex.9:16) Through His sovereign rule over creation and in history, He delivered them from their enemies (vv.9-11). “Then they believed His words; they sang His praise.” (v.12) Moses and the people sang the song we find at Exodus 15, following as it does the deliverance we have recorded in 14.They sang because they finally believed His words.
However, “they soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel.” (v.13). This is always the crux of the matter-believing His word and waiting for His counsel. Too often God’s people are quick to forget His providence and lust for more instead of waiting for His counsel from His word (Cf. Nu.11). As a result He sends leanness into their souls (vv.14-25 Cf. Is.10:16; Jer. 2:13). Out of envy they rebelled against Moses, and “a flame burned up the wicked.” (v.18 Cf. Nu. 16; Dt. 11:2) They then made a golden calf and worshipped it (v.19 Cf. Ex. 32; Dt. 9:8; Acts 7:41). They forgot their saviour and instead envied power, worshipped riches, and lusted after each other unrestrained. They had a new trinity-power, riches, and sex (vv.20-22). They were spared only through the intercession of Moses who stood in the breach (v.23 Cf. Ex. 32:10ff; Dt.9:19; Ezek.22:30).
They despised the LORD and His good providence because again, “they did not believe His word.” (v.24 Cf. Dt.1:32; 9:23; Heb.3:18-19). They complained, instead of heeding His voice (v.25 Cf. Nu.14:2, 27; Dt.1:27). For the unbelieving the wilderness wandering was His covenantal curse upon them (vv.26-27 Cf. Lev. 26:33; Nu.14:28-30; Ezek. 20:15-16, 23; Heb.3:11,18). It didn’t end there. They also joined themselves to the religion of the land they were supposed to conquer-Baal of Peor, and made sacrifices for the dead (v.28). Their deeds provoked the LORD to anger and He sent a plague (v.29). It took the intervention of Phinehas, much like Moses, to turn back the plague (v.30), an act of faith on his part (v.31). Then there was the waters of strife and Moses also suffered, also waivering in unbelief (vv. 32-33 Cf. Cf. Nu. 20:3-13).
Their destruction of the peoples in the promised land was incomplete (v. 34 Cf. Jud.1:21; 2:2). Instead, they gave themselves over to their idolatrous practices (vv.35-36), even to the point of sacrificing their children to demons (v.37-38). Their own works and deeds defiled them (v.39). It justified His wrath against them (v.40). Thus they were made slaves of the Gentiles (vv.41-42). This psalm is a sad litany of their history of rebellion, and yet it is also a history of the LORD’s continued deliverance as He remembered His covenant, according to His mercies, so that even their enemies pitied them (vv.43-46). For this reason the psalmist calls upon the people to ask the LORD God for deliverance yet again and to give thanks and triumph in His praise (vv.47-48).