A Christian Perspective on Psalm 53

Psalm 53 is a lot like Psalm 14, factually it is the same Psalm, just a new version which is so powerful that it’s quoted in Romans 3:10-12. But there are two differences: Firstly: There is LORD as in Jehovah used 4 times in Psalm 14 while in Psalm 53, God has a different name, as in Elohim. Secondly; There is a completely different direction in thought and meaning for verse 5 with both Psalm 14 & 53. Psalm 14 v5 points to God’s defense of his children, whereas Psalm 53 v5 points to God’s disdain for his enemies, while both verses speak of the enemies “fear”.

Why such differences? It’s kind of like the way the old 1860 English Hymn “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” written by Mr. Whiting for sailors & captains to sing of God’s love & deliverance over the stormy seas, but later the same song was re-written around 1940 for airmen & pilots to sing over stormy skies. Back in 1860 we didn’t have airplanes. So when Psalm 53 was re-written by the Holy Spirit through the Psalmist, we have a lesson taught to us that even God works to keep his ancient word fresh through the centuries of change we go through. You and I with newer generations of Christians have the same job of keeping an ancient gospel fresh by the way we maintain modern accuracy in our presentation of the gospel which is two millennia old. Hence why we have so many English versions of the New Testament today!

In Psalm 14, David wrote about Moses bringing the Israelites through the Red Sea. God had saved them from Egypt. But now, nearly 300 years after David died, God saved them again. This time he saved them from Assyria. So, Psalm 14 was “rewritten”. It became Psalm 53. It was still David’s psalm, but they had to make two changes:

1) He used the name God (Elohim) instead of LORD (Jehovah). Perhaps this was because he wanted everyone to know that he was God of the whole world. LORD is a name that Hebrews used for God amongst God’s people.

2) He changed verses 5 & 6 in Psalm 14 into just verse 5 in Psalm 53. This says that God threw away the bones of the people that attacked Judah. Those people were the Assyrians! In Psalm 14, those people were the Egyptians.
So in Romans 3:10-12, when these Psalms are quoted, do we see the echo of justice in God’s judgment executed against the wicked while the righteous can rejoice? In Paul’s day, new Christians were facing persecution from Jews and at the same time were themselves in danger of hypocrisy against their enemies. This is how the logic of God’s love can prevent us from becoming a modern pharisee. We all, both religious Jews & heathen people (gentiles), are needing salvation from the way we tend to condemn ourselves.

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 51

This Psalm is what repentance sounds like when it comes out of a sorrowful soul that has just been taught how horribly helpless we are when we intentionally sin. David’s words here are a result of being convicted of sin by the punishing words of the prophet Nathan. The prophet Nathan delivered God’s judgment against David’s rebellious sexual sin with Bathsheba. Which resulted in David’s cry for mercy and admission of his sinfulness, from birth and lapsing into sin as an adult. It is a popular idea that since David said he was born in sin, that the majority of religious people assume that everyone else is born in sin (Psalm 51:5) since Adam’s sin gave the world a death sentence. However, this Psalm was written by David, and he knew two things about himself. Firstly, his heritage, and secondly, what the law said about his ancestry. Deuteronomy 23:2 clearly cuts off an illegitimate person from the religious life of the nation, including all 10 generations of such a person. One such ‘bastard’ was Perez, born out of Judah & Tamar’s illicit relationship, Gen. 38. The 10th generation from Perez was David’s generation, therefore David was truly “born in sin”, and his whole family, along with his brothers knew it. They are as follows: 1st-Perez, 2nd-Hezron, 3rd-Ram, 4th-Amminadab, 5th-Nahshon, 6th-Salmon, 7th-Boaz, 8th-Obed, 9th-Jesse & 10th-David, see Matthew 1:3-6. Please do not conclude that because we might have an illicit background, it would hinder our relationship with God, that is not true. This law concerned only Jews, another law would counter foreigners from having a part in the religious life of Israel, see the rest of Deut. 23. But as for David, he could not consider himself born into a good relationship with God, according to the Law. However, when he grew to be a young man. God chose to change his position and relationship, when God led Samuel to anoint him to be the future King. If anyone can over-ride, or re-interpret the law, it can only be the author of that Law. So then, David became not only a Psalmist, but also a King, purely by the grace of God. Now after he sinned with Bathsheba, he pled for mercy. Don’t let anyone lead you to believe that people are born in sin, and sinful from birth. The Bible actually teaches the opposite, Children are a blessing and gift from the Lord, Psalm 127:3-5 & Mark 9:36-37 & 10:14. Our sin, is our own personal responsibility, not the inherent responsibility of our parents, or Adam, Romans 5:12-19 & Ezekiel 18:20. The only thing that anyone inherited from Adam is death, not sin itself. Even if a child is born from an incestous relationship, the child hasn’t any sin inherent. Indeed the sins of parents can put a child at risk or in a grave physical disadvantage, but a baby’s soul is pure, see James 1:17-18.

Sinfulness can lead us all to crave God’s mercy for a clean new start. We should fully realize the unique beauty of Christ alone, providing a new creation in every Christian. Which is what David cried out for in Psalm 51:10. The apostle Paul declared this fact in 2nd Corinthians 5:17, and explained it well in Ephesians 2:10. There is no sense in simply asking for a “fix” when we need washing, but there is glory in realizing that God’s cleansing of our soul is seen as a totally new heart being adjoined with the Spirit of Christ, see Psalm 51:11.

Bringing Zion itself into good standing, was reliant on the Nation’s King being in good standing with God. Psalm 51:17-19 is a reminder of how important it is to have real godly virtues in our leadership, even today. Do you pray for our Nation’s leaders to understand what real sacrifice is in God’s eyes? Read 1st Timothy 2:1-4.

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 41

v1, David isn’t singing “Blessed is he that tells others that they need to help the poor.” Or “Blessed is he that votes for politicians who consider the poor… with other people’s money – rather than his own.” Neither is David singing “Give them money!” That is a western attitude. If we throw money at problems they will eventually go away. David doesn’t even mention money. The Hebew for “poor” here can mean scrawny, like the runt of the litter. We might ask, wouldn’t money help the weak or disadvantaged from birth? Not always. Because some people are genetically predisposed to addiction, when they get money they can waste it on drugs instead of paying rent. Money doesn’t solve problems by itself. That’s why David doesn’t talk directly – and certainly not solely – about giving the poor money. Rather, David wants us to consider them. To think of the best possible way to help them in their particular need. That may be money. It may be investing time to teach them life skills. It might be telling them what Jesus would do. It might be letting them stay at your place. It might be standing up for them and defending them before others. That’s why we’re encouraged to consider how best to help them. David needs to declare the blessing of this activity because the tendency of self-focused mankind is to ignore people like this. Yeah, they’re needy – but we have enough needs of our own. Or so the natural man tends to think. Sure, they’re helpless – but I myself am in need of great help! Well, you can think that – but you’re going to miss out on blessings from the Lord. 

v2-8, The blessings of preservation, prosperity, healing and integrity belong to God’s children who consider and help the poor in the way God directs them! The beauty of being a Christian, is that all those blessings actually are eternal.

v9,  The betrayal by a friend is prophesied here, and fulfilled in Christ, when Judas Iscariot takes the bread and dips it with Jesus. John 13:26-27. The timing of Satan’s entrance into the plans and heart of Judas is at this very moment. John chooses to use this Psalm as proof that Jesus knew what he was doing and did it willingly. John 13:18. Jesus knows what it feels like to have the people we help, turn around and abuse us. He will protect us and bring us through the abuse, triumphantly! He died for both the helper and the abuser, to one day be forgiven if we can both follow Jesus and make him our Lord,  this is love. Obey Christ’s commands to love one another, no matter what.

v10-12, The type of triumph we feel in overcoming temptation is both short lived and in Heaven a victory that we feel forever, This is what it means to “reign with Him”, Revelation 5:10 & 22:4-5.

v13,  Jesus as The Christ displayed Jehovah with us, and in his resurrection, Christ became Jehovah for us, Luke 1:75-78.  Praise Him no matter what happens! See Ephesians 1:3.

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 40

v1, Children and Adults have one big contrast in faith, the ability to wait. Adults can wait when they trust God to hear them and answer. Whereas children can not wait, so when adult believers show God patience in their requests to the point of crying, God responds! It is not just a mark of maturity, but it proves to yourself and our God, that we love His will more than our own will.

v2, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer” A rock was helpful to the ancient people of the east in three ways. 

  1. It could provide essential shade, needed in the merciless sun and heat of the desert (as in Isaiah 32:2). It’s shade was a soothing solace.
  2. Huge rocks can provide safe shelter from damaging winds,  It could provide shelter and protection in its cracks and crevasses (as in Exodus 33:22 and Proverbs 30:26).
  3. It could provide a firm place to stand and fight, as opposed to sinking sand (as in Psalm 40:2). David saw his God as his strength reminding us of the promise of secure safety, later expressed through Paul: Ephesians 6:10.

v3, The new song is sung because The Lord’s presence brings refreshing expressions of joy in victories over temptations of their sin, this rejoicing can help bring other people out of their sin and into a right relationship with Christ, Revelation 5:9 & 14:3.

v6-8, “Sacrifice & offering You did not desire, my ears you have opened”, David’s surrender to God was wonderful and an impressive example. Yet he only foreshadowed the ultimate submission to God carried out by the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Hebrews 10:5-10 quotes the Septuagint (ancient Greek) translation of Psalm 40:6-8. This is a wonderful and remarkable prophecy of the work of Jesus.  It shows God’s ultimate dissatisfaction in animal sacrifices, looking forward to a Perfect Sacrifice, because he didn’t desire them, Jesus willingly committed himself because it was what The Father desired. It shows that God the Son came in a prepared body (the Septuagint reads, But a body You have prepared for Me, Hebrews 10:5 and through to v7. God made and gave the best unique body to sacrifice that he could! v9, “I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness in the great assembly”, This was part of the new song and praise that came from his deliverance. David did not hold his praise back, it was PROCLAIMED. Yet, as in the previous verses, this has a far greater and perfect fulfillment in Jesus, the Son of David. It was true of Jesus in His earthly ministry. “This is what Jesus can say. He was the Princely Ruler of open-air preachers, the Greatest Itinerant of all preachers.”  It is also true of Jesus in eternity to come, in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You (Heb. 2:12 fulfilling Psa. 22:22). It’s remarkable to think of Jesus leading the assembly of God’s people in praise to God the Father!

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 37

v1-8,  Notice the hope & trust expressed in this praise, while contrasted with envy, v1, which progresses to worry, then to fretting and anger, then ending in evil, v8. This Psalm of David is certainly written in his old age, v25, and his wisdom shown in this praise is an example of how to answer the age old question by all of us: why do the wicked experience such pleasurable success while the righteous suffer? Jesus answers us in John 16:33 & 1st Jn. 4:4.

v9-11 is an introduction to v22, 29, 34 which is discussed in the Koran (21:105) where Psalm 37:29 is quoted verbatim. Jesus alluded to v29 in the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5:5, and it is still a well-known verse in the world. Worldly people largely misunderstand it, but it’s explanation is straightforward. To understand “inherit the earth”, we can look at Abraham’s faith in Jesus, and Paul’s teaching on Abraham, Romans 4:13. Yes Jesus lived out the faith of Abraham perfectly. The lifetime of Abraham’s faith led him to only own one parcel of ground, a burial place for his wife, Sarah. What kind of inheritance is that for the descendant of Abraham? Appropriately a different gravesite would figure most prominently in Christianity! The children of Abraham (Isaac & Jacob & Esau) would later bury Abraham himself with his wife Sarah, but of course their ancient gravesite near Hebron today has no significance to Christians now because we know only the dust of their corpse is there, their real identity is in Heaven. When the inheritance occurs for “the meek” as Jesus describes all the righteous people of God, it is then we will experience the glory of the new heaven and the new earth. But for now, because of what Jesus did at his gravesite, as the descendant of Abraham which blesses the world, we have spiritually attained this inheritance because of our faith in Christ, the seed of Abraham. In one sense faithful Christians already have inherited the earth, as being in Christ and he is now sovereign over it, Matthew 28:18, but not unbelieving worldly people, for now, they are the devil’s, Ephesians 6:12, John 8:44 & 1st Jn. 3:10.

v12-21 , Only the Lord can laugh at the wicked. Whereas we his subjects should empathize, because we once were wicked too. If a Christian can maintain and grow this attitude, we will succeed in evangelism. The crescendo of this Psalm, is v16, worthy of our memory work, and it’s sentiment is echoed in Matthew 6:32-33, Philippians 4:11-13 & 1st Timothy 6:6-8.

v22-34, when or if the Lord is upholding our hand, v24, disaster will never totally defeat us. Paul as a Christian understood this little victory led to a great eternal victory, read 2nd Cor. 4:7-10. Do you ever prayerfully picture the Lord upholding your hand? Could this poetic vision be in Paul’s mind when he wrote, 1st Timothy 2:8. God wants holy/clean hands to hold, James 4:8.

v35-40, The ultimate plight of the wicked is in stark contrast here in v35-36, to the present reality of the wicked from our perspective. Prison staff are constantly exposed to the injustice of “rehabilitating” the lives of some murderous thieves with a temporary “justice” system. This can be disheartening for the righteous, if we lose sight of the ultimate victory for the righteous. This passage should remind us that the justice of humanity at best, is inconsequential in the long run. We all should be waiting on the justice of the Lord in Jesus Christ. Never forget the eternal good news vision of His justice, Revelation 19:1-3

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 36

v1, The deep seated rebellion that is at the core of people who do not fear God, is how David describes lost humanity. Even the Apostle Paul made an effort to write poetically on the wickedness of humanity. Almost every part of a person is used to describe how saturated in sin, Paul views humanity in Romans 3:11-18. The mind in v11, the throat, tongue, mouth, feet and eyes, v18. All of this is rooted in a lack of fear towards God. Can you define godly fear as different from human fear?

v7 The “Precious” loyal love of the Lord is noteworthy. The same word for excellent or precious in the English is the same Hebrew word used for the expensive jewels placed on David’s crowned head, recorded in 2nd Samuel 12:30. God’s loyal covenant love is like a precious, rare, unique jewel. To find it, is to find something far better than any stone in this life. Much akin to the value Jesus puts on finding the Kingdom of God in Matthew 13:44-46, esteeming treasure and pearls as worth our utmost sacrifices to obtain. If this is your set of values. Therefore, the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings: Our God is a place of rest and protection for the people of God, who is the God of all comfort & mercy. God invites everyone of the children of men to find this resting place of trust in Him. Jesus used this phrase in the sense that a hen covers her young chicks under her wings to protect, hide, and shelter them. The picture of taking refuge in the shadow of thy wings was used of Ruth by Boaz (Ruth 2:12) and of Jerusalem by Jesus (Mt. 23:37) while undergoing the wrath of Judgment that was about to come upon it. 

v9,  In Your light we see light is similar in thought to the Apostle John’s idea in the opening words of the Gospel: Jesus was the true Light which gives light to every man (John 1:9) 

v12,  David catches a glimpse of the evil doers downfall as it points to fulfillment from this oracle. Sometimes we get to see this too, when evil people plot the downfall of the righteous; as Henry III of France was stabbed in the same chamber where he and others had contrived the Parisian massacre. The New Testament comes to a close in the Revelation with a statement about the continual sinfulness of this world, in the face of God’s victory, Revelation 22:11. The horrid end of Hitler & Hussein are similar.

A Christian Perspective from Psalm 35

v1-3, Learning that God can be viewed as having shields, a lance and a spear, may seem unsettling for some people, but David was at ease with the idea. Where did he get this idea? Perhaps it was from his miraculous defeat of Goliath with a single shot. Would David attribute the sling’s accuracy to God, or was the sling itself a weapon of God? However David came to believe in God’s activity in war, it is essential that we understand God has a sword, see Ephesians 6:17. 

v8. Let his net that he has hidden catch himself: David prayed that the guilty one would truly be caught in his own trap. David prayed that destruction would come upon his adversary unexpectedly. We can pray on the same principle against our spiritual adversaries, the principalities and powers that battle against us in the spiritual realm. The devil has “snares” or traps,(1 Timothy 3:7, 2 Timothy 2:26) and he has strategies or plans, (2 Corinthians 2:11) that are set against us. We may rightly pray that the devil’s children are caught in and by his own snares and strategies. Do you believe Jesus was correct in calling some people “children of satan”? See John 8:44, Matthew 13:38 & 1st John 3:8.

v11-12, They reward me evil for good: “This was never more literally true of King David, than it was for the divine Christ Jesus, when, standing before Pontius Pilate, he received no other reply from the Jews, for all the gracious words which he had spoken, and all the powerful works of mercy which he had done among them, than that of being slandered, and put to death.

v19,  Who hate me without a cause: “Jesus identified with those who suffer without apparent cause, because he applies the words of Psalm 35:19 (Psalm 69:4) to himself (John 15:25).”

They devise deceitful matters against the quiet ones in the land: David prayed for vindication against his enemies because they plotted against God’s humble, simple people.The German Lutheran Bible translates the phrase the quiet ones in the land as die Stillen im Lande. It later became a phrase to describe believers in Germany, especially those from the Pietistic tradition. They emphasized living a quiet, devoted life of peace before God and man, and trusting God to defend them. It seems in every age of history, God has had his “quiet ones”, ignoring the noise & strife of the world and withdrawn from godless ambitions, they are unshaken by worldly headlines, because they have entered into the secret of an abundant life hidden in Christ Jesus, Jn. 10:10. Remember the command of Christ, “from the rooftops”! (Matthew 10:27). There was a time in the ministry of Jesus, when he needed to keep his Messiahship quiet, but towards the latter, he mandated public proclamation and then sent disciples out throughout the entire world to SHOUT.  Should Christians remain quiet?