God: the Glorious King

Posted: September 15, 2011 in Psalms

Psalms 8-10, “God: the Glorious King”

Why does it look like bad people prosper?  Is God really in control?  These are the questions many people ask every day (and especially in regards to the 10th anniversary of 9/11).  The good news is that the Bible is not silent on these matters.  God’s people have wrestled with these ideas for centuries, and God Himself provides the answers in the pages of Scripture…as we see in Psalms 8-10.

The context of these psalms is rather interesting in that the 1st two are specifically marked as being written by David, but Psalm 10 is not.  There are many ancient scholars that believed that Psalm 9 & 10 go hand-in-hand together – and there’s a lot of similarity between them in their themes, and in their arrangement as semi-acrostics.  However, God’s word itself does not tell us the context, so we need to be careful about our assumptions.  What we DO know is that the authors of all these psalms affirm that God is indeed sovereign over all His creation, and that God’s righteous judgment will one day be known.  Our God is a glorious, righteous King – and He is worthy of our praise.

Psalm 8 (NKJV)
To the Chief Musician. On the Instrument of Gath. A Psalm of David.

  • 55 of the psalms are dedicated to “the chief musician,” perhaps as a designation that they were specifically set aside for special worship.
  • The instrument is interesting (though somewhat debated).  Some think this is a reference to a tool used for wine-making – most commonly it’s thought of as a harp that David brought out of Gath when he lived among the Philistines.  That in itself is a great illustration of redemption!  A musical instrument of a people who hated God & God’s people is used by God (and actually designated in His word) to be used to give praise & glory to His name.  Amazing!
    • For all the internal battles that have taken place in churches over music & instrumentation, this ought to put it all to rest.  What is important in the songs of praise are the words being sung, and the hearts of those who sing – not the instruments used in the music.
  • David begins & ends this psalm with a refrain of praise:

1 O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

  • O LORD, our Lord”: Understand that this is not repetition in the Hebrew, as it is in English.  These are two different words being translated: (1) Yahweh – the covenant name of God, and (2) Adown/Adonai – the word technically meaning “lord.”  David is affirming that the Almighty-Covenant-keeping-faithful-only-true God is OUR God – i.e., the God of Israel.  Out of all the false ideas of god that the pagans have, the One True God of all the Universe, THAT’s the God who has called Israel to be His own.
    • Obviously David is speaking of Israel because that’s his context – that is the people of God that he knows.  Yet this applies to the Church, as well.  The one true God over all of the Universe is OUR God, OUR Lord, OUR Master, OUR King.  He has called us to Himself, saved us by His grace, and made us His own children, giving us the right to be joint-heirs with His Son.  Amazing! 
    • Jesus affirms this in the Lord’s Prayer when He teaches us to pray: “Our Father…”  We do not serve a God who is far off & holds us at arms-length.  God has brought us to Himself in His glorious grace & not only allows us to worship Him, but invites us to do so in a wonderful intimate relationship.  God is THE God, but He is also OUR God.
  • What does David praise God for?  His name.  Culturally, the name of someone represented their person/being – so to praise the name of God is to praise God Himself.  David says that God’s name is excellent (famous, large, powerful) in all of the earth.  Even though many people on earth do not yet recognize God as God, His name is excellent here simply by virtue of the fact that He is the Creator.  If at least some men did not proclaim the praises of God, the very rocks would cry out (Lk 19:40).
  • Yet God’s excellency is not limited to the earth, but expands to the entire universe.  His glory (majesty, splendor) goes beyond the very heavens.  The best telescopes can only scan a minute portion of our galaxy, getting only glimpses of galaxies light years away.  The most distant object the Hubble telescope has ever seen is calculated to be 13.2 billion light years away (Science Daily, Jan 16, 2011).  That’s beyond our mind’s ability to comprehend…yet God’s glory is above even THAT!  How big is our God?  Infinitely big – He’s infinitely glorious – He’s infinitely worthy of our praise & worship!

2 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

  • What a contrast!  This God who is so incredibly worthy of our praise is indeed worshipped by infants, but yet still hated by His enemies.  Sometimes children in their simple faith say the most profound & true things about God & they sometimes have an incredibly simple trust in Him & His work.  Jesus acknowledged this when He told us to have faith as of a little child (Matt 18:4).
  • How strong is the faith of a child?  Strong enough to silence the enemies of God.  Matthew 21:15–16, "(15) But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant (16) and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?” " []

3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, 4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?

  • Many of us have likely found ourselves in the same place as David.  If you’ve ever been out in a field on a dark night & gazed up into the stars (much as David would have done many nights while tending his sheep when he was a boy), it’s easy to get lost in the grandeur of the universe & get a glimpse of how incredibly tiny we are.  A 6 foot tall man seems pretty large until he gets up into an airplane.  The earth seems really huge until you see pictures from the moon.  Our sun looks massive until it’s compared with other stars & so on.  We are but specks in the whole of creation…and yet God knows our name.  God knows the numbers of hair on our head.  God knew us intimately before we were even born & knew how we would respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  What incredible love & grace!
  • And yet it goes far beyond this.  Beyond just knowing OF us as the Creator, and knowing US as the Father, God became one of us in Jesus Christ.  Obviously we can say with David that God did indeed “visit” man when God walked with Adam in the cool of the day, called Abraham His friend, and made a covenant with David.  God has always interacted with His people through the centuries.  But God goes far beyond all of that & literally visited mankind when He put on flesh to dwell among us.  In the incarnation of God, we see the humiliation of God because the massive almighty infinite creator God whose glory goes beyond the confines of the physical universe became a speck among other specks when He became a man.
    • Paul puts it this way: Philippians 2:5–8, "(5) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, (6) who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, (7) but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. (8) And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." []

5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

  • The initial application here is to Adam.  In creation, God certainly did make mankind a little lower than the angels (speaking in terms of physical glory).  God created the angels to remain in the spiritual realms & serve as the messengers of God.  God created mankind for quite a different purpose, but yet still a glorious one.  God put mankind in the physical realm in order to glorify God in the physical world.  Thus Adam (and all who follow) was crowned with “glory and honor.”  We have been made in the image of God – something of which the angels cannot claim.  Although we were made a little lower than the angels, the angels marvel at our relationship with God, surely astonished by His grace & our adoption as His children.
  • Yet there’s another application here, going beyond the 1st Adam to the 2nd Adam: the Lord Jesus Christ.  [Hebrews 2:5-9]  The author of Hebrews speaks of the incarnation, suffering, and victory of Jesus.  Jesus truly became one of us when He became a man, and tasted death just as everyone tastes death.  Yet God did not leave Jesus in death but raised Him up in victory over death & as a result anyone who comes to faith in Christ can share in the victory of Christ.  Jesus had glory & honor prior to coming to earth, and in His resurrection God has crowned Him with glory & honor once again!

6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, 7 All sheep and oxen— Even the beasts of the field, 8 The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas.

  • In reference to Christ, Jesus truly has had all things put under His feet.  He has already been given all authority & all power – the only reason we do not yet currently see this is because it is not yet time for Him to exercise that power over all the earth.  That will arrive with the 2nd coming & the Millennial Kingdom.
  • In reference to mankind, this speaks of the ongoing stewardship we have over the planet.  God granted dominion over the earth to Adam in Gen 1, giving him the responsibility of stewardship over God’s creation.  Even though creation rebels in the fall, mankind still has that same responsibility.  As with Jesus, we’ll see this restored in the Millennial kingdom.

9 O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

  • Ending refrain.  Only fitting to end the psalm as it began: proclaiming the excellent name of the Lord our God in praise.

Psalm 9 (NKJV)
To the Chief Musician. To The Tune of “Death of the Son.” a Psalm of David.

  • The context here is somewhat debated.  When we read “death of the son,” we generally think of David’s son that was lost in death after the sin with Bathsheba.  However, other ancient languages translate this to refer a champion – perhaps Goliath of the Philistines.  Considering the tone of the psalm & the content speaking of God’s victory & triumph, this might be more plausible.  That said, any thought as to the actual historical context is conjecture.  The Scripture simply doesn’t tell us the occasion of which this was written; it just tells us the tune the song was to be sung to.

1 I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

  • Note the repetition: “I will” – 4 times.  David will sing of the work of God in a moment, but for now he sings of the things he himself will do.  What is it that is most on David’s mind & “to-do” list?  To praise God.  He will:
    • Praise God whole-heartedly: holding nothing back.
    • Tell of God’s works.  The Hebrew concept of praise was almost always public – it was to share with others of the wonderful works of God.  David says outright that this is what he planned to do.
      • We often think of praising God to be private & personal – yet when was the last time you told someone else of the wonderful work of God on your behalf?
    • Be glad & rejoice.  David’s joy was found in the Lord (“in You”), despite his circumstances.
    • Sing praise to God’s name: He’s already given God praise with his speech; now he will give it in song.  It’s a wonderful thing to sing unto the Lord.
  • In every possible way, David wants to proclaim the praises of God.  That’s not to say David doesn’t have any difficulties (he’ll list some off in a bit), but David understands that God is worthy of praise even in the middle of these difficulties.  The trials David currently experiences are but temporary – he has the utmost faith that God is going to show Himself to be faithful, and for that reason David can sing the praises of God in advance.

3 When my enemies turn back, They shall fall and perish at Your presence. 4 For You have maintained my right and my cause; You sat on the throne judging in righteousness. 5 You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their name forever and ever.

  • Notice the future tense in verse 3.  David currently HAS enemies.  His trust in the Lord was that the Lord would act & cause them to fall & perish.  They had not yet done it – but David had faith that God’s very presence would bring victory.
    • All God needs to do is to show up!
  • Note also the repetition again: “You have” – 4 times.  David notes how God has acted in the past, which helps David have faith for the present & the future.  How did God act?  As the righteous king & judge.
    • God maintained David’s cause
    • God rebuked the nations
    • God destroyed the wicked
    • God blotted out their name from remembrance.
  • What’s interesting about all the past actions God has taken on David’s behalf is that they also speak of how God will still righteously act in the future.  David had seen God do this already – yet we know from Scripture that God will act this way again during the 2nd coming & final judgment.  God will maintain the cause of His saints & take vengeance on Babylon & those who persecuted them.  God will judge at the great white throne in righteousness.  God will rebuke the nations when He separates them as sheep & goats.  God will destroy the wicked as they are cast into the lake of fire, and their name will forever be blotted out of remembrance.
    • Our God is a righteous judge!  He has proven Himself to be so in the past, and will demonstrate it again in the future.

6 O enemy, destructions are finished forever! And you have destroyed cities; Even their memory has perished. 7 But the LORD shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment. 8 He shall judge the world in righteousness, And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.

  • Speaking again of the righteous judgment of God – this time actually highlighting the fact that God would act this way in the future.  David could be absolutely assured that God would show Himself to be righteous on David’s behalf, and there’s not a doubt in David’s mind that would was ready to judge.
  • Please know that God IS ready to judge!  There’s not a single event that we need to wait upon prior to Jesus calling His church home & beginning the Great Tribulation in which the wrath of God will be poured out upon the world.  We need to be prepared to see Him face to face.  We will either see Him in His grace through Jesus Christ, or we will see Jesus in His judgment & wrath.

9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. 10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.

  • While God is certainly a judge to the wicked, He is also a place of safety for His people.  “The oppressed” contextually refers to David & those who would be outwardly downtrodden, yet put their trust in the Lord.  They could trust that God would protect them, stand up in their defense, and pronounce judgment upon their enemies.
  • We can trust God for exactly the same thing!  That’s not to say that we won’t ever go through times of trouble (we will!)…but we can trust that God is our God in the midst of our troubles.  When we feel as if we are oppressed by our enemy (Satan), we can run to the refuge of God & cry out for help.  Jesus promised that He would be with us until the end of the age (Mt 28:29), and that He did not leave us as orphans, but gave us the Helper of the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:17-18).  God will not forsake us in those moments when we need Him the most.
    • But please note we need to seek Him & trust Him.  Sometime people get the idea that “I’m saved, so if I get into any trouble, I can just pray once & expect the peace of God.”  Do we need to pray?  Absolutely – but we need to continually trust God & seek His face.  That’s not a 5-second prayer muttered half-heartedly; it’s truly seeking the face of God.  Perhaps we sometimes don’t experience the peace that passes understanding because we’re not truly giving everything to God in prayer & supplication with thanksgiving.

11 Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people. 12 When He avenges blood, He remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the humble.

  • David’s response to his reminder of God’s strength & compassion towards His people?  Praise!  Going back to the idea of vss. 1-2, David erupts in praise again towards God.  David praises God for:
    • His vengeance towards the wicked
    • His compassion towards the humble

13 Have mercy on me, O LORD! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death, 14 That I may tell of all Your praise In the gates of the daughter of Zion. I will rejoice in Your salvation.

  • Notice how it all becomes personal here.  David moves from the 3rd person to the 1st person.  He’s no longer just proclaiming truths about the people of God, he’s petitioning God for himself.  “God I know You hear the people, now hear me!”
  • The best reason for God to act?  David’s continued praise.  He’s been able to praise God in the past; he wants to be able to continue to praise God in the future.
  • What will happen to the wicked?  They will face the judgment of God.

15 The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made; In the net which they hid, their own foot is caught. 16 The LORD is known by the judgment He executes; The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Meditation. 17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God. 18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten; The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.

  • Vss. 15-16 are a common theme so far in the psalms.  God will just the wicked using their own methods against them.
  • What will be the wicked’s ultimate end?  Hell – the grave – the pit.  Those who do not fear God will die in their sin & face judgment.
  • Contrast that with those who recognize their need for God & their spiritual poverty (per Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes: “blessed are the poor in spirit”).  The wicked will perish in the pit, but the poor will not perish forever.  The needy will not always be forgotten.  It may seem as if they are forgotten now, but they will not be forgotten in eternity.  God knows their names – He knows His own, and He will show Himself to be righteous on their behalf.

19 Arise, O LORD, Do not let man prevail; Let the nations be judged in Your sight. 20 Put them in fear, O LORD, That the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah

  • The final prayer is basically a battle cry: “Arise O Lord!”  The Hebrew armies cried out basically the same thing when setting out from Mt. Sinai on their journey through the wilderness (Num 10:35).  It was the proclamation of faith that God would be going before them & fighting their battles.  It’s the same idea here in the Psalms.  To ask God to “arise” is not to think that God is otherwise lazy; it’s to proclaim faith in God that He is our Warrior King who will defend His people.  David is asking God to act as that King of Kings, to come & show Himself strong over the enemy.
  • Can we do this today?  Absolutely!  However, our cry might be a bit different: Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

 

Psalm 10 (NKJV)
1 Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide in times of trouble? 2 The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.

  • Vss. 1-2 give the theme of the psalm.  The wicked were prospering, and it seemed as if the Lord was nowhere to be found.  If Psalm 9 was a proclamation of faith that God would indeed judge the wicked, Psalm 10 is a lament that it has not yet happened.
  • Question: was God standing far off?  Of course not.  God has no reason to hide – He fears no one (how could God fear anyone – He’s omnipotent!), and certainly God has no reason to be ashamed of anything.  No – this is simply the way it felt to the psalmist.  The psalmist did not see the work of God in judging the wicked, so he wondered if God was there at all.
  • If we’re being honest with ourselves, we’ve likely asked ourselves the same thing.  “God, how could You let this happen?” We’ll find ourselves in a mass of confusion, and inadvertently blame God for the things that are going on in our lives.  In those times, we need to remember a couple of things:
    • It’s ok to be honest with the Lord.  We saw this in the book of Job, and we’ll see it again in the psalms.  God knows if we’re putting on a show anyway, so we may as well be honest in the first place.
    • Most importantly, we need to remember that God is still our God.  Notice that even as the psalmist questions God, he still refers to God by God’s covenant name: “O LORD.”  The psalmist may have questioned God’s actions, but he did not question God’s relationship with him.  There will be times in which we don’t understand everything that’s going on, but if you are a child of God, you can be absolutely assured of your relationship in Jesus Christ.  That’s the very rock of certainty you can stand on when everything else is in turmoil.  If Jesus is your Lord, then if nothing else, you can stand on THAT fact.
  • Vss. 3-11 begin a long section in which the psalmist describes the actions of the wicked…

3 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire; He blesses the greedy and renounces the LORD. 4 The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.

  • First, the wicked has no fear of God.

5 His ways are always prospering; Your judgments are far above, out of his sight; As for all his enemies, he sneers at them. 6 He has said in his heart, “I shall not be moved; I shall never be in adversity.”

  • Second, the wicked is arrogant in his sin.

7 His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and oppression; Under his tongue is trouble and iniquity.

  • Third, the wicked demonstrates his character through his speech.

8 He sits in the lurking places of the villages; In the secret places he murders the innocent; His eyes are secretly fixed on the helpless. 9 He lies in wait secretly, as a lion in his den; He lies in wait to catch the poor; He catches the poor when he draws him into his net. 10 So he crouches, he lies low, That the helpless may fall by his strength.

  • Fourth, the wicked looks for the weak.
  • Notice how this is such an apt summary of the most wicked one: the devil.  1 Peter 5:8–9, "(8) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (9) Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." []

11 He has said in his heart, “God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see.”

  • Summary: the wicked believes he is completely unaccountable & that God doesn’t care.
  • With the description of the wicked done, the psalmist turns to his prayer (vss. 11-15)…

12 Arise, O LORD! O God, lift up Your hand! Do not forget the humble.

  • As in Psalm 9 we see the battle cry – “Arise, O LORD!”  The only hope that the wicked will be stopped is if God acts in His righteousness.
  • The only hope that we have against our enemy the devil is the hope that we have in Christ.  Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world (1 Jn 4:4).

13 Why do the wicked renounce God? He has said in his heart, “You will not require an account.” 14 But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, To repay it by Your hand. The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless. 15 Break the arm of the wicked and the evil man; Seek out his wickedness until You find none.

  • God has indeed seen all these things!  God has not been blind, nor has He turned away.  God will judge, without any doubt.  God will act severely & completely.
  • Those who are helpless find their help in the Lord.

16 The LORD is King forever and ever; The nations have perished out of His land. 17 LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, 18 To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more.

  • The psalmist may have been despondent before, but he ends with a note of praise & faith, knowing that God will act in justice.
    • God is King
    • God is judge
    • God hears
    • God acts
  • The result?  Oppression will one day cease.  This isn’t just true in the case of the psalmist with whatever evil he was facing – but this is also a future truth about the “man of the earth” – Antichrist.  Although there will be a period of time in which Antichrist seems to run in the earth unchecked by God, God will act.  Jesus will come back & decisively defeat Him in power & victory & forever throw the man of sin into the lake of fire for eternity.  Jesus will show Himself as the righteous judge & there will be no doubt about that for all time.

Conclusion:
God is the King!  He’s the glorious righteous King!  Whether we stand amazed at the magnitude of our infinite God in the universe – or we stand firm upon God’s promises of ultimate justice – we can praise God that He is sovereign over this universe & will one day show His ultimate glory.

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