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Psalm 22-23

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We are going to experience two dramatically different types of Psalms today.  Psalm 22 provides a prophetic portrait of the suffering Messiah.  The well known 23rd Psalm illustrates the deep loyalty that David felt toward the Messiah.  Psalm 22 is quite long - perhaps to better mirror our times of struggle.  Psalm 23 is both short and reassuring.  As we read Psalm 22 consider a time when you were struggling...

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.  Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.  In you our ancestors put their trust;they trusted and you delivered them.  To you they cried out and were saved;in you they trusted and were not put to shame.  But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.  All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the Lord,” they say,“let the Lord rescue him.  Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.  From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.  Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.  Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me.  I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.  My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.   My mouth[ is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.  All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.  They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.  But you, Lord, do not be far from me.  You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you.  You who fear the Lord, praise him!  All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!  For he has not despised or scornedthe suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.  From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.  The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him— may your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to theLord and he rules over the nations.   All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him— those who cannot keep themselves alive.  Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!"

From the first phrase it is apparent that this Psalm is a fore-shadowing of the crucifixion.  Consider a few quotes:  "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me."  "They mock me."  "They pierce my hands and my feet."  "All my bones are on display;  people stare and gloat over me.  They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment."  About midway through the Psalm the tone changes, "But you, O Lord, will not be far off..."  By verse 22 David writes, "I will delcare your name to my brothers;  in the congregation I will praise you." 

Let us now read Psalm 23:

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.   Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.   Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

In Psalm 22 we learn that Jesus earned the position of Messiah.  Jesus lead a perfect life without sin, yet He accepted the burden of SIN for all humanity.  Jesus accepted the death penalty of SIN, death on a cross.  But the story does not end at suffering and death.  Death could not hold Jesus.  Jesus rose again!  In Psalm 23 we are provided a picture of the risen Savior - the Good Shepherd.  Because of the Good Shepherd we lack nothing.  Jesus refreshes our soul.  We do not need to fear evil because Jesus conquered evil.  The goodness of Jesus guides and directs us in this life.  Best of all, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!  All of this because of Jesus. 

Posted by Bruce Powers with

Psalm 10

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In the previous Psalm, David spoke with faith and conviction.  In this Psalm, David speaks during a time of frustration.  There is some evidence that both of these Psalms were tied together - a single acrostic poem where each stanza began with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  I like to view them as two human perspectives of the same ordeal:  Psalm 9 from the perspective of faith and trust in the Lord, and Psalm 10 as one focusing on the hopelessness of the situation.  Let us begin by reading Psalm 10.  Once again I have organized them into four paragraphs:  

Verse 1: "Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?  In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.  He boasts about the cravings of his heart;he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.  In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.  His ways are always prosperous  your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies.  He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”

Verse 2:  "His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.  He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent.  His eyes watch in secret for his victims; like a lion in cover he lies in wait.  He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength.  He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.”

Verse 3:  "Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.  Do not forget the helpless.Why does the wicked man revile God?  Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”?  But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand.  The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked man;call the evildoer to account for his wickedness that would not otherwise be found out."

Verse 4 (or chorus):  "The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror." 

Rather than begin with thanksgiving, David begins by complaining.  Where are you God?  Why are you hiding?  Look, don't you see the wicked man and his schemes?  The evil man boasts and appears to prosper.  The evil man rejects the laws of God and seems to get away with injustice.  Each of David's quotes are from the perspective of the evil-doer rather than his knowledge of God and His goodness.  How often do we begin our prayers in a similar fashion? 

David continues to focus his eyes on the details of the issue (rather than on the Lord) in the second verse.  Look God, the evil one is speaking lies.  Should we not expect those who do evil to speak untruth?  In our modern culture, and especially in the political realm, we can observe many lies.  Let we gain very little by focusing on those lies.  Rather, we ought to focus on truth - that which is good and honorable and trustworthy and kind (Philippians 4:8).  This leads David to thoughts of distrust, "God will never notice."

Finally, by the third verse, David turns to God.  "Arise, Lord!  Lift up your hand, O God."  I sense that David is speaking without the faith and conviction of Psalm 9.  Rather than declaring that God does not forget the helpless, he says, "Do not forget the helpless."  Call the evil-doer to account.  One can almost sense David's focus shifting back and forth between God and the evil-doer.

Still, by verse 4 (or the Chorus), David is back on track.  Finally he declares the truth!  "The Lord is King for ever and ever;  the nations will perish from His land!"  Keep you focus on God this week! 

Posted by Bruce Powers with