A Christian Perspective on Psalm 135

v 1, 3, 13, The name of God makes known his character:

a. His name is good. Psa. 52:9“I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good.” Never forget this: God is good, even when bad things happen!

b. His name is majestic. Psa. 8:1, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” This means that His name, which stands for all that He is, is excellent and famous throughout the earth. There is no one else like Him. He is omnipotent and incomparable. Exd. 15:11 “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you–majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”

c. His name is glorious. Psa. 115:1 “Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory…” The word “glory” encompasses all of His attributes. The word literally means, “heavy” and refers to the fact that God is weighty, or awesome. Sometimes we try to make a name for ourselves as we crave credit for what we’ve done. We need to remember that His name alone deserves the glory.

d. His name is holy. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray he told them to begin like this in Mat. 6:9, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” His name must be set apart because He is holy.

e. His name is near. God is high and holy and yet, amazingly, He is also close to us. Theologically speaking, He is both transcendent and He is immanent. Allow this truth to penetrate you. He is not distant, but has instead come close to each one of us so that we can get to know Him. Psa. 75:1 “We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.” God is powerful and He is also personal.

Praising the Lord’s name is “Pleasant”, v3, because he alone is good, Matthew 19:17. Before Jesus came, only The God of Israel was holy and to be ‘feared’. Isa. 6:3 & 8:13, all other nations had mere idols or stories of gods, but Israel boasted in a relationship with The unseen God that provided physical evidence of His omnipotent power over creation. The word Pleasant in Hebrew is “Naim”, meaning lovely, delightful and/or beautiful. When Jesus referred John to the necessity of his own baptism, he said that fulfilling righteousness (Matthew 3:15) was “comely”, “fitting”, “becometh” or “proper”. The Greek word Jesus used is “Prepo”, meaning conspicuously eminent and/or very appropriate. This is the same word the Hebrew writer uses to describe Jesus as a High Priest, in Heb. 7:26. Does our singing to praise God’s name give Him a beautiful demonstration of our love? Does our singing of God’s praiseworthy name seem pleasant? You might ask, does the music really fit appropriately with the words adoring God’s name?

v14 echoes Deut. 32:26-43, where Moses affirms that God mercifully relents from fully judging his wayward people. When the Hebrew writer quotes this fact, he is reminding Christians of God’s perfect justice, which is very well explained by Moses and will be fulfilled in the future judgment day of our Lord Jesus Christ, Hebrews 10:29-39, is where he replaces persecuting foes, with fake Christians that shrink back away from their faith in Christ and end up living worldly selfish lives.

The God-fearers of v20 are evidence of God’s mercy towards the Nations through Israel. In the  beginning, God’s intention for the Tabernacle was to live among the people, Ex. 25:8, while moving through the nations and into the promised land. When He eventually had Solomon build it into a Temple, it’s obvious from Solomon’s prayer of the Temple’s dedication of God’s intent. Read carefully 1st Kings 8:31-33 and 41-43. This was God’s original intent for the Temple, Mark 11:17, the center of God’s praise, Isa. 56:7.
v21, the Lord “DESERVES” Praise. Since he is deserving, then what is the quality of what he deserves? Nothing less than the best we can offer. Here are some ancient tips in improving our praise, which John Wesley gave in his “Seven Directions for Singing”. I find them as relevant today even though the English is worn and a bit inept, the truth is in today’s reality as the moment they were inked.

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 119

This Psalm has two outstanding characteristics about it, firstly, it’s construction is very orderly, especially when you consider it is the longest Psalm. It has 176 verses comprising 22 stanzas of 8 lines each starting in the order of the Hebrew alphabet of 22 letters. So it was reputed to be used for centuries in synagogues teaching children as a school textbook. No one knows for sure who wrote it, but it was probably Ezra. Secondly, it is the only Psalm that exalts the word of God exclusively. Other Psalms praise God’s word in a verse, but Psalm 119 is the only Psalm that praises God’s word in every verse.

The word of God is described by using 7 different words. Pointing us to His POWER.

“Law”, v1 (what is legislative or a principle)

“Testimonies”, v2 (what is verbal)

“Precepts”, v4 (what is thought or meditated upon)

“Statutes”, v5, 8. (what is enforced)

“Commandments”, v6 (what is a direct priority)

“Judgments”, v7 (what is punitive)

“Ordinances or Regulations”, v13 (what is taught or practiced)

The psalm opens with two beatitudes. “Blessed” are those whose ways are blameless, who live according to God’s law, who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart. The author of the psalm has experienced great trouble in this life, but is also one who has come through it with a deep and passionate understanding of God’s unfailing love and compassion, v75-77. The author clings to the truths learnt from the Scriptures, which are eternal and “stand firm in the heavens” v89-91. This is the recipe for happiness, as James 5:13 points us to. The Psalm ends with a cry for help, as if he is a lost sheep, needing to be delivered into safety, v169-176. This conclusion is from real experience in God’s word, meeting our needs for spiritual salvation, John 10:11. These are the lessons for us in this great psalm. The Word of God is sufficient to make us wise, train us in righteousness, and equip us for every good work, 2nd Tim. 3:15-17. The Scriptures are a reflection of God’s nature, and from them we learn that we can trust His character, His plan and promises for humanity, even when His plans include affliction and persecution, we can trust His purpose! Notice these attributes of God which are applied to Scripture itself:

1. Righteousness (verses 7, 62, 75, 106, 123, 138, 144, 160, 164, 172)

2. Trustworthiness (verse 42) God’s word always educates us in grace & knowledge

3. Truthfulness (verses 43, 142, 151, 160)

4. Faithfulness (verse 86)  God’s word is always powerful to help comfort or deliver.

5. Unchangeableness (verse 89) no fluctuation in character through changes in work.

6. Eternality (verses 90,152) no fluctuation in character through time in our world.

7. Light (verse 105)

8. Purity (verse 140)

The profound truth that the Word of God is praised as all-sufficient is an expansion of Psalm 19:7-9: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. Just as Christ Himself the Logos is, Jn. 1:1-14 & Matthew 5:43-48. He can even make us perfect in our Creator’s sight! But there is something very important which the Word can not do, which only Christ can do. That is: to love us! Because Love is the author of this word, for God is love.

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 118

v1-4. God’s mercy is limitless towards Israel, their Levitical Priesthood and anyone who fears Him. The apostle Paul knew the kindness of God, and taught the Church to be kind & forgiving towards others, as God was kind to them, Ephesians 4:32. Pain & suffering in a real Christians daily life may indeed be discipline in training our conscience & faith, but if it is punishment from God, then God has his purpose in producing holiness, Heb. 12:10-11. There are many different reasons for pain & suffering in our life but purposeless punishment from God is not one of them, because His loving-kindness is now and forever more for Spiritual Israel, Php. 3:2-3 & Gal. 6:16. Many people confuse the Babylonian captivity God directed upon Judah as senseless punishment for their idolatry, but they fail to recognize that God gave Judah more than a generation of warnings, and yet they rebelled spiritually, bringing into question their faith and utter failure to keep God’s covenants. But because of God’s covenant with Abraham, his mercy maintained a remnant of Jews to keep Israel alive until Jesus came as the Christ. And above all, remember, Israel never again after their Babylonian captivity, never did they meddle with idolatry. They even fought physically to avoid idols from being established in the new Temple in Jerusalem, until in 167BC, when it was forced upon them by Antiochus Epiphanes IV, they revolted and the Jewish Maccabeans were successful in ousting the foreigners out of Jerusalem. Against the desecration of idolatry by Antiochus, the Jewish leader Judas Maccabeus rose up against him and led the  Jews in a war, defeating the generals Antiochus had commissioned to deal with the uprising. Judas refused a partial amnesty, conquered Judaea with the exception of the Acra in Jerusalem, and in December 164BC was able to tear down the altar of Zeus and reconsecrate the Temple. Antiochus apparently had underestimated the strength of the Jewish armies, which showed their success in maintaining an independent Judaean state for about a century. The fighting spirit of the Jews was all the more impressive because at the beginning of their rebellion in 166BC Antiochus had just demonstrated his might to the world at Daphne, near Antioch. Here we have evidence of God’s purpose in disciplining the Jews, giving them powerful purity and strength for the successful defense of God’s Temple.

v5-9, “distress” is a strong word, and no one should think God doesn’t understand the pain of distress. Christ prayed in great distress facing the trial of his life. Mark 14:31-36. He is now our High Priest that can truly empathize with our cry for help in a crisis. He took our punishment, and still to this day, before his return, he can indeed still suffer with us, Colossians 1:24. The best comfort anyone can feel relief from, is indeed FREEDOM. This freedom is found in Christ, John 8:34-36. The worst case scenario a Christian can face from any enemy is a change of address. We should never fear people able to kill us, rather, fear Him who can destroy both soul & body in hell, Matthew 10:28.

v10-13,  “Nations”, it is thought by rabbis that David is writing this Psalm in memory of his victory over the Jebusites to attain Jerusalem, and the surrounding countries honored his victory, 2nd Sam. 5:5-12. When he cites being aggressively pushed, it is noteworthy to see David’s experience in being  helped by the LORD (Jehovah) The name most sacred to Israelites today. Make note that this Psalm has many more references to this name than most Psalms, so it makes us wonder if the piety Jews show today, by refusing to pronounce it, is actually a level of piety Jews practiced in David’s day. 

v14-18. The Lord’s punishment was restrained from killing the Psalmist in battle, it could have happened, but God’s mercy preserved his life through war. Remember that the death sentence was acceptable punishment for children in the law of God through Moses, Deut. 21:20-21.

v19-24, The “stone”, Christ applied it to Himself (Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10-11; Luke 20:17). Peter and Paul also applied it to Jesus (Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:6-8). God’s amazing resurrection of His rejected Son to the place of supreme authority is marvelous to say the least. The day of His resurrection is the greatest day the Lord ever made. It is indeed the basis for the Christian’s joy and rejoicing every first day of the week till time as we know it is escorted into eternity!

v25-29,  Faithful Israelites welcomed Jesus at His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem during Passover season using verses 25 and 26 (see Jon. 12:13) They regarded this psalm as predicting the Messiah, we too should praise God with all the gratitude we can offer, whenever we see His deliverance in any way, especially our spiritual deliverance!

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 110

v1, Christ sitting at the right hand of God, shows as much terror to his enemies as happiness to his people. The power of this victory will be the utter ruin of his enemies. We have here the Redeemer saving his friends, and comforting them. Matthew 22:44-46, 28:18. This verse brings this Psalm into the New Testament as the most quoted point from most of it’s authors, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul, Peter and the Hebrew writer, Mk. 12:36, Lk. 20:42, Ac. 2:34-35, 1st Cor. 15:25, Heb. 1:13 & 1st Peter 3:22. During the European Renaissance, this Psalm was quoted more often and better known than Psalm 23 is today. Do you know why?

v2, There is an allusion here to Aaron’s rod which budded and so proved his power; stored in the ark, but our Lord’s rod is sent forth to subdue his enemies. This promise began to be fulfilled at Pentecost, and it continues even to this day, and has a grander fulfillment, Revelation 6:2.

v3, This work of grace in our regeneration is described here, it is a spiritual resurrection. Even the image of our Lord, in the “dew of youth” is likened to our souls putting on the glorious righteousness of Christ. We stand fresh before the Lord and serve him. How ever new is holiness, how wonderfully strong also is the eternal youth of the spiritual  body of Christ! As the dew is new every morning, so is there constant growth to give to the church perpetual youthfulness, 2nd Corinthians 8:5.

v4, Melchizedek is an eternal glimpse through our history that shows Jesus is sworn in to be the priest of his people, and he indeed lives on, because his commission is sealed by the unchanging oath of the immutable Jehovah. If his priesthood could be revoked, and his authority removed, it would be the end of all hope for the people he loves, Gen. 14:18 & Heb. 7:11-24.

v5,  On the last day all the kingdoms of the earth shall be overcome by the kingdom of heaven, and those who dare oppose him will meet with overwhelming ruin. What are kings when they dare oppose the Son of God? A single stroke is enough for their destruction. The Judgment Day of our Lord will be only one single Day. No languishing war or series of battles, but in an instant!

v6, This doesn’t need to be understood literally, but as a poetical description of the overthrow of all rebellious powers and the defeat of all unholy principles. But if kings oppose the Lord with weapons of war, the result is their overwhelming defeat and the entire destruction of their forces, 2nd Thessalonians 2:8

v7,  “lifts up the head” refers to the renewed physical strength and emotional vigor, (Psa. 3:3) provided by refreshing water. Another example of a victorious warrior being energized by water in the aftermath of battle, see Judg.15:18-19. But this is prophetic of Christ after finishing the work of our salvation, drinks to his refreshment of the river of divine pleasure, when God showed him the path of life, and raised him from the dead, and gave him glory, and introduced him into his presence; worthy to reign in the Revelation and our fullness of joy, and pleasures for evermore are with Him in Heaven., Psalm 16:11 & Revelation 22:1-2.

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 95

v1-3, this Psalm contains three names of God: EL,  JEHOVAH, & ELOHIM, we should not use any of them to refer to false gods. We should call an idol an idol and nothing more! The first implies his strength; the second his being or essence; the third, his covenant relationship with humanity.” Idols have none of these attributes. 

v4-7, “Hear His Voice”,  A spiritual reality that is important enough to be mentioned three times in the book of Hebrews 3:7 & 15, 4:7. In Heb. 4:7 the emphasis is on the word today, indicating the urgency of listening to God with a soft heart now! Jesus in the gospels makes this expectation a reality in John 10:3-4. 

v8, makes it very clear that God puts us in charge of the condition of our heart, is it hard or soft? What kind of heart do we want? Are we even aware of what we can do to change or maintain the condition of our heart? The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but do you take that to mean he softens or hardens everyone’s heart? If you do, then why not ask Him to help you soften your heart?

Some people harden their hearts by deliberately deciding not to demonstrate emotion about spiritual experiences or facts.

Some harden their hearts by intentionally putting off a real relationship with God till later.

Some harden their hearts by pretending to have doubts about the evidence of God in the natural world around us.

Some harden their hearts by actively getting involved with evil people, friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy (James 4:4).

Some harden their hearts by focusing on silly amusements intended to kill time and prevent themselves from thinking about spiritual truths. 

Do we harden our hearts?
v9-11 is a stark reminder of God’s warning that we should never make the same mistake the Hebrews did by complaining about God at Massah & Maribah. The name Massah means “testing.” This was another name along with Meribah [strife] given to the place where the new Hebrew nation complained following the Red Sea Crossing, Ex. 17:1-7, After we have actually seen Him working, we can’t afford to have an attitude towards God for complaining. If that is our attitude, then we do risk falling from His grace and can lose our salvation as the Hebrews did long ago. Falling from grace is a plausible reality for some Christians, see Galatians 5:1-5 & Hebrews 10:38-39.

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 94

v1-4, God is the Lord of vengeance, which is why we should leave vengeance to Him, and bless our enemies, instead of curse them. Using the words of Jesus, benefits The Lord, and will ultimately bring rewards, even in this life, Luke 6:27-38. This is not the modern false-gospel of prosperity, but rather a dependence on God to provide a cup that overflows with blessings in the face of our enemy. The Jews were promised the same type of justice in Deuteronomy 32:3-5. Blessings are rarely seen as monetary.

v5, We may see persecution and wonder why God allows it to this day, but it’s nothing new. Our victory is secured in our faith in Christ’s resurrection. Remember John during his persecution had this to hold on to when he saw the vision of the bloody prostitute, Rev. 17:6.

V6-10, Because our Lord is both Ruler & Creator, then everything God’s creation does, He both understands and judges. His rule does not necessitate arbitrary authority, but rather a power that controls our consequences, not our choices. If God controlled our choices, then His power & authority would be motivated by fear, not love. Love allows freedom and liberty to make serious mistakes, but powerful justice demands the perfect consequence!

v11-13, see 1st Corinthians 3:20. 

v14-15, see Romans 11:1. This passage contains one of the most comforting promises in the entire Bible, v14 is the preface for Hebrews 13:5.

v16-18, Both the Psalmist and Paul, had a connection with Daniel’s victory over the lions, see 2nd Timothy 4:16-17. God protected them and he will protect us to do His will, not our own. The phrase “living in the Land of Silence”, is a clear reference to the Psalmists faith in God’s powerful protection even AFTER death. Even when we as Christians are convinced we are going to receive the death sentence, it happens, because God wants us to rely on Him for life itself, 2nd Corinthians 1:9. God did not kill the lions for Daniel, he merely shut their mouths. He leaves the threat of physical persecution very real in our life, but secures us safely in spirit. Why? So that even our enemies can see our faith in God’s goodness even in the face of what they call the worst case scenario.

v19, If we want to be really happy, deep down inside, we need to first rely on God’s encouragement. Philippians 4:4 is a command which necessitates faith in God’s fulfilled promises, personally! Then and only then can we efficiently cast our anxieties upon the Lord because, we not only believe he cares, but from experience, we KNOW he cares.

v20-23,   Wicked rulers can not be allied with God, but God can indeed appoint governments that allow evil people to lead in the work of making & enforcing laws that affect Christians, see Romans 13:1-3. Ultimately, the following comes true for every governing ruler that is evil, “But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the LORD our God will wipe them out.~ Psa. 94:22-23

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 91

v1, so many of God’s children have experienced this intimate residence with our God as a providential Father, but none of us can enjoy it’s every providential guardianship as Christ did. Jesus had this Psalm quoted by the devil to his face and rebuked him for even using it. Dare we do the same. Being faithful to our God is at best, risky and at worst, dangerously painful. The Apostle John best described this paradox in 1Jn. 4:15-16. Love as God can be both tender and a torment, almost simultaneously.

v 2-3, Who in the world could ever boast and sing about such safe protection? Only Christ, and yet even he suffered agony & death. Jesus Christ experienced his life being put through the wringer of death, and proclaimed in advance that our God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, Luke 20:38.

v4-5, This picture within the praise of the Psalmist is exactly how Jesus felt and looked upon Jerusalem with all his enemies, Mat. 23:37. The courage of faithful children of God is modeled on the bravery of Jesus, with stories like Joshua being told by God to be courageous, Joshua 1:6-9.

v6-10, The thought of God’s judgment  wreaking punishment upon our enemies, might make us wonder about being caught in the crossfire or consequence of such destruction, but complete physical safety is not a reality for the Christian, or the Christian martyr. The law of Moses predicted His enemies would suffer defeat in military terms such as this; Deuteronomy 32:23-35, closely associates military attacks with deadly disease. Alluding to one of the effects of siege warfare on the population of an entrapped city, which was especially vulnerable to the outbreak of epidemics. This reminds us of the words of the Hebrew Christian writer, “For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” Hebrews 2:2-3. ONLY IN CHRIST for eternity, not necessarily here in such a temporary physical world.

v11-12, The devil himself knew this Psalm was prophetically pointed to the Christ Jesus, and even when satan quotes it, Jesus rebukes him, as if to say, it may be true, but your the last person on earth with a right to quote it & test it’s authenticity, Luke 4:10-11. As a word of warning: It is dangerous for Christians to use these words from this Psalm, as some have historically in amulets designed to function as magical protection. Moreover, the promise of angelic protection in verse 11 was the basis for the belief in personal angels who protected individual believers with the result that angels became objects of veneration. Christians should not use Psalm 91 as a magical guarantee against the various deadly threats that they encounter on life’s journey. Instead, the security that Psalm 91 promises should be accepted in humble trust as belonging to Christ and in Christ alone. It is this humble acceptance of these promises that enabled Jesus to use the words of Psalm 31:5 from the cross, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Yet the point of God’s supernatural protection was personally promised to his Apostles, and yet even they suffered martyrdom, Luke 10:19

v13-16, some of this Psalm sounds like it is written in the third person, as if the Psalmist is talking to himself, with God as his audience. Kind of like the words of the Lord’s prayer in John 17:1-4. Which is a good way to teach people how to pray!