God, Man, and the Messiah

Posted: September 22, 2011 in Psalms

Psalms 11-16, “God, Man, and the Messiah”

When studying the psalms, there are going to be times when there are definite themes & other times when the psalms seem to be somewhat random.  After all, we’re basically reading the lyric sheets of a hymnal/songbook.  Sometimes songs are arranged topically, other times they’re not.  The six psalms we’re looking at tonight don’t necessarily follow a single theme, but we see more of a development that surrounds the nature of God & the nature of man.  All of the psalms had been written by David, and although there is all sorts of conjecture about the setting of when each was written, there’s no superscription, so there’s simply no way of knowing.  What we do see is that the first three concentrate on the nature of God, and the last three look at various aspects of man.  David writes about:

  • The righteousness of God
  • The words of God
  • The faithfulness of God
  • The wicked man
  • The transformed man
  • The resurrected Man (ultimately writing about Christ Jesus)

Psalm 11 (NKJV): The righteousness of God.  We can trust God to take care of evil & judge it.
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

  • The dilemma (vss. 1-3)

1 In the LORD I put my trust; How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain”? 2 For look! The wicked bend their bow, They make ready their arrow on the string, That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. 3 If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?

  • Apparently David was in some sort of trouble at the writing of this psalm.  Some believe this took place during his persecution from Saul, as David often found refuge in the mountains & wilderness.  Others believe this came at the time of Absalom’s rebellion when David & his administration had to evacuate Jerusalem & seek safety.  Obviously the Psalm itself doesn’t tell us, so we don’t know.
  • Yet notice David isn’t looking to flee.  That is certainly what people had counseled him to do – and for good reason.  The enemy was prepared for ambush.  Just as a hunter lays a bead on a bird at rest, so was the enemy prepared to attack & destroy David.  Thus, people counseled David to flee!  Like the bird, fly away to safety!  After all, if the foundations of God’s anointed king were destroyed, what would people do?
  • David’s response to this counsel is found in verse 1: “In the LORD I put my trust.”  David’s trust is in His covenant God.  God had made promises; God would be faithful to keep them.  How could he even possibly think of fleeing?  There was no reason to fear because the Lord God was his trust.
    • God does not give a spirit of fear. (2 Tim 1:7)
    • That’s not to say there’s never a time to flee temptation.  But when we’re making a stand for righteousness, we never need fear.  There’s no reason to run when our trust is in God!
  • The solution (vss. 4-6)

4 The LORD is in His holy temple, The LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. 5 The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. 6 Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind Shall be the portion of their cup.

  • God lives: He is in the temple.  Keep in mind this was written before Solomon’s temple was ever built.  David was writing prophetically of the Heavenly Temple of God.  God at that moment lived – and God still lives today.
  • God reigns: God is on His throne at all times.  Even if David was on the run from his throne in Jerusalem, God was still on His throne in heaven.
  • God sees: There’s not a single event of which God does not take note.  He sees it all.
  • God tests: God never tempts us, but He does test us.  Sometimes the righteous are tested through trials in order to help us learn to rely on God more & more.
  • God hates violence: God saw the violence, and there’s no doubt how God would act because of it.  He hates it.
  • God judges: Using the picture of Sodom & Gomorrah, David shows God raining down His judgment upon the wicked.  Interestingly enough, there is another place of fire & brimstone where the ultimate Wicked One (and all who follow him) will be judged for all of eternity.
  • The declaration of God’s righteousness (vs. 7)

7 For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright.

  • God is righteous
  • God loves righteousness
  • God sees righteousness when He looks upon His people.
  • Don’t miss the tie here between God & His people.  Our God is a righteous God.  Yet the question went out: “when the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  When God’s righteous people suffer, they are to turn & depend on their righteous God.

Psalm 12 (NKJV): The evil words of Man vs. the pure words of God.
To the Chief Musician. On An Eight-Stringed Harp. A Psalm of David.

  • Psalm 6 was also meant to be played on an 8-stringed harp.  David was quite the accomplished musician.  Recall that he began his service in Saul’s court as one of the royal musicians to soothe Saul during his fits of anger (caused by the evil spirit that tormented Saul).
  • The problem of evil speech (vss. 1-2)

1 Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. 2 They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

  • The problem: where are the godly?  They are nowhere to be found!
  • Why did David believe that the godly man had completely disappeared?  Because all he heard was vile, evil speech.  There may have been a lot of nice-sounding words, but ultimately they were empty words.  “Flattering lips & double heart.”  People evidence evil in their heart via the words of their mouth.  If their words are double-minded, it shows that their heart is double-minded & deceptive.
  • The prayer for God’s judgment (vss. 3-4)

3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, And the tongue that speaks proud things, 4 Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail; Our lips are our own; Who is lord over us?”

  • The prayer?  May God judge it! 
  • God will judge our words – that’s a rather sobering thought.  Every idle word we speak will be called into account. (Mt 12:36)
  • Notice what these flattering, idle words evidenced: pride & arrogance.  People think that they can talk their way out of submitting to God.  They don’t need God to be their Lord because they believe they are wise on their own.
    • Nebuchadnezzar would later become exceedingly proud, and God would choose to humble him by causing him to lose his mind & become like a beast for years.  (Dan 4)
  • The promise of God (vs. 5)

5 “For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, Now I will arise,” says the LORD; “I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.”

  • David prayed for God’s judgment of the evil, and God promises that He will judge.  The arrogant had spoken evil idle words, yet they had ignored the voice of the truly needy.  The words of the poor may have been ignored by man, but not by God.  God will act & judge in righteousness.
  • The purity of God’s words (vss. 6-7)

6 The words of the LORD are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times. 7 You shall keep them, O LORD, You shall preserve them from this generation forever.

  • What a contrast with man’s words.  Man’s words are idle & evil; God’s words are pure.  How pure?  Perfectly pure!
  • God’s words are everlasting.  God’s words will never pass away – even into eternity.
  • The present problem (vs. 8)

8 The wicked prowl on every side, When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.

  • In the meantime, David waits.  There is coming a day in which God will judge, but for now, we have the present problem of sin.
  • What do we do?  Hold on!  Because God’s words are perfect, pure, and everlasting, we can be sure that all of His promises are true.  God WILL judge the evil & the oppressor.  God WILL judge those who persecute His people.  God WILL judge the ultimate evil one.  Hang on by faith & wait for God to act & arise.

Psalm 13 (NKJV): The Faithfulness of God – trusting that God will save.
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

  • The Lament of time (vss. 1-2)

1 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? 2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

  • Note the repetition.  4 times, David asks “how long?”  He had felt utterly abandoned & forsaken by God, and he cries out in his lament wondering how long this feeling of abandonment was going to last.  (1) How long would David be forgotten by God?  (2) How long would God hide?  (3) How long would David need to comfort himself apart from the Lord?  (4) How long would his enemy triumph?  Question: HAD God forgotten David & hidden Himself away?  Of course not.  Though it surely felt as if God had.  When we see the wicked prospering, it’s easy to wonder if God still sees – or if God happened to close His eyes for a moment?  God never closes His eyes nor hides away (He’s got no reason to).  But we need to remember that God’s timing is not our own.  There are times in which God allows the ungodly to prosper – sometimes for God’s own purposes (i.e. Babylon carrying Israel into captivity).  That doesn’t mean that God will ignore the sins of the ungodly – but there are times that He allows them to flourish for a season.  We need to ensure that our trust is in God.
    • Keep in mind that David had not lost his faith in God through all of this.  True, he questioned what was going on & if God had hidden Himself.  But David still calls upon his covenant LORD.  There’s no doubt David’s trust is in God, even though he doesn’t understand God’s timing.
  • BTW – we had mentioned earlier in our study of the psalms that Jesus can often be thought of as the ultimate Singer of the Psalms (especially the psalms of David).  Can Jesus still sing this psalm (and others like it) that question “how long”?  Yes!  Never forget that Jesus is both 100% God AND 100% Man.  As a Man, Jesus had His times of struggles.  Look at the Garden of Gethsemane & the Cross of Calvary.  Humanly speaking, Jesus felt abandoned in some of those times, yet had complete faith in God’s unfailing love & promises.
  • The plea for understanding (vss. 3-4)

3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death; 4 Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

  • Because of the language of death, some scholars believe that David was suffering with some sort of sickness that would cause his enemies to rejoice if he died.  Yet contextually, it seems that David’s problem isn’t a physical sickness, but some sort of outside issue.  If David died because of illness, it’s not as if an enemy could take credit for it (per vs. 4).  Whatever the issue was, David felt abandoned by God & left at the point of death, so he was desperate for God to act in some way.
  • The “what” of David’s prayer: audience & enlightenment.  David had felt abandoned by God, now he wants God to hear his cry.  David didn’t know what God was doing, so he asked God to enlighten his eyes & teach him.
  • The “why” of David’s prayer: three-fold.  (1) Lest he die… (2) Lest his enemy claim credit over David (and thus claim credit over God)… (3) Lest his enemy gloat in victory…
  • The declaration of faith for God’s answer (vss. 5-6)

5 But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. 6 I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

  • Circle the “but”!  Glorious transition!  David had doubted, BUT now he reaffirms his trust in the Lord.  Faith triumphs over doubt!
  • Notice that the deliverance is yet to come, but David writes in the past tense.  “I have trusted” – “He has dealt.”  The reason David will sing & rejoice in the future is because he trusts that God has already acted, even though David has not yet seen the results.  David’s declaration of faith is made prior to God’s deliverance.

 

Psalm 14 (NKJV): The wickedness of Man & God’s ultimate victory
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

  • All are wicked (vss. 1-3)

1 The fool has said in his heart,“There is no God.” They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good. 2 The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. 3 They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

  • Keep in mind that a “fool” in the OT isn’t necessarily someone who is unintelligent, but rather someone who acts in foolishness.  Being a “fool” is more of a description of someone’s character rather than someone’s mind.
    • We can readily see examples of this today.  There are extremely intelligent people that deny the existence of God.  In the eyes of the world, there is no possible way they could be labeled as “fools,” yet in light of the reality of eternity, their denial of God is absolutely the foolish thing they could possibly do.
  • What David describes here is not so much intellectual atheism, as it is practical atheism.  The foolish man acts in such a way that he denies the existence of God.  He lives his life as if he will never be held in account by the righteous Judge of the Universe.  The fool is:
    • Corrupt: rancid on the inside.
    • A worker of abominable things: evil on the outside.
  • In thinking upon those who act as if God doesn’t exist, David expands his view.  Ultimately, NO ONE truly acts as if God exists.  No one lives their life in complete faithfulness to God.  Even God in all His omniscience, can’t find anyone on the whole planet who truly seeks His face.  King Asa (in his failing) learned that God searches the whole earth to find those whose hearts are loyal to Him (2 Chr 16:9), but ultimately everyone falls woefully short & none shows themselves loyal by doing good.
    • This is what Paul pointed out to the Romans.  Romans 3:9–12, "(9) What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. (10) As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; (11) There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. (12) They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”" []
    • Talking about the utter depravity of man.  For anyone under the assumption that when we die, God will let the good people go to heaven & send the bad people to hell, you need to understand that there are no good people.  We are utterly lost in our sin because we’re born with a nature of sin.  Mankind has been fallen since the Garden of Eden, and every single human being has been born with a nature of sin ever since.
  • Men forget the judgment of God (vss. 4-6)

4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge, Who eat up my people as they eat bread, And do not call on the LORD? 5 There they are in great fear, For God is with the generation of the righteous. 6 You shame the counsel of the poor, But the LORD is his refuge.

  • How blinded are men & women because of our sin?  We’re so blinded we don’t even begin to understand the judgment that we face.  Those who live as practical atheists have zero clue of the absolute holiness of God & the standard of perfection that He requires of His creation.
  • Notice that this ignorance is willful.  They have “no knowledge,” yet they continue to eat up the Lord’s people & never once call upon the Lord themselves.  Paul made the point to the Romans that when it comes to sin, mankind is without excuse.  The only reason people have no knowledge of the Holy God is because they have shut their eyes.  The evidence of creation simply screams out of its Creator.  To claim ignorance of the evidence of God is the equivalent of a child sticking his fingers in his ears & yelling out “I can’t hear you!!”  David even intensifies the argument when he goes from 3rd person to the 2nd person (vs 6).  It was a generic “workers of iniquity,” but now it’s “You!”  We cannot avoid our personal responsibility.  We are the ones who shut our ears to God & lived as if God did not exist, and we are the ones who need to humble ourselves & fall upon the mercies of the righteous Creator God.
  • People may act as if God doesn’t see or hear, but God DOES see & God WILL save.  He is the refuge for those who cry out to Him.
  • The ultimate victory is promised (vs. 7)

7 Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD brings back the captivity of His people, Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.

  • When God shows Himself to be the righteous Judge among the wicked people who acted as foolish atheists, it will be a testimony unto the glory of God.
  • Ultimately, the salvation of Israel DID come out of Zion: the Lord Jesus Christ.  “Salvation” = “yeshua” – the Hebrew name for Joshua/Jesus.  All of us can rejoice in the salvation we have in Christ!

 

Psalm 15 (NKJV): The transformed Man – describing those who are godly.
A Psalm of David.

  • The question: who qualifies? (vs. 1)

1 LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?

  • Great companion/contrasting psalm to Psalm 14.  Ps 14 looked at the wicked man to lived as if God didn’t exist; Ps 15 looks at the righteous man who desires to dwell with God.
  • Great question!  Who is it that can abide (or “sojourn”) with God?  Who is it that can “dwell” with Him in His holy habitation?  Obviously this isn’t speaking of a priest because David isn’t of the tribe of Levi.  David’s question is referring to the regular man and woman who loved God.  Who is it that is qualified by God to have intimate relationship with Him in which we live & walk with God?
  • The answer: those who have been transformed by God (vss. 2-5)

2 He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart;

  • First David looks at a person’s God-honoring character.  The godly man walks uprightly in the sight of the congregation & does good works of righteousness & speaks in sincerity & truth.  The man/woman of God has a God-honoring reputation.

3 He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;

  • Next, he writes of God-honoring speech.  There’s no back-biting or gossip.  No evil rumors – no escalation of arguments.

4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised, But he honors those who fear the LORD; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

  • Speaking of a God-honoring mind.  The godly man/woman recognizes evil & sin for what it is & does not shy away from the truth.  At the same time, the godly person recognizes fellow believers & gives them the honor & respect that is due them simply because they are a fellow believer in the Lord.  They tell the truth, letting their “yes” be “yes” & their “no,” “no.”

5 He who does not put out his money at usury, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.

  • Writing of God-honoring finances.  This might seem unusual at first glance, in that we might wonder how David jumps from fearing the Lord & truthfulness to loans & bribes.  Yet it makes sense if we think about it.  What demonstrates someone’s character quicker than looking at how they treat others with their money?  Someone could claim all day long how much they love their brother, but if they are charging 30% interest on a loan, or if their decisions can be bought with a bribe, there’s pretty good evidence there’s no love there at all.
  • Notice how in all of these descriptions of the godly man/woman, how different it is from the description of the wicked in Ps 14.  Yet we read in Ps 14 that “none who does good, no not one.”  What then makes the difference between the person of Ps 14 & the person of Ps 15?  How does someone go from a God-denier to someone who honors God?  The transforming work God through the grace of Jesus Christ.  There simply is no other way.  The person of Ps 14 MUST be transformed because they are utterly lost & without hope.  Not only are they in sin, they’re perfectly happy being in their sin & see no need to be saved.  The only hope they have in being transformed is if God radically grabs hold of them, shows them their need for salvation, and then brings them to Christ.  That’s exactly what happens through the work of the law of God & the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We need to be transformed, and the only one who can transform us is the Lord Jesus.  And here’s the good news: once we are transformed, we’re qualified!  We can walk & live & abide with God forever!

 

Psalm 16 (NKJV): The Resurrected Man – the promises that come through faith in God.
A Michtam of David.

  • The translation of “Michtam” is uncertain.  There’s been much conjecture ranging from “gold” to “secret” to a type of a musical form.  The truth is we simply don’t know.  Interestingly enough, the only other michtams in the psalms come in a series: psalms 56-60, 4 of which have a similar setting, and 3 set to the same tune.  All have some aspect of a prayer of deliverance with the one exception of Psalm 16.  Ps 16 doesn’t plead for deliverance, it’s a declaration of faith that God HAS delivered & is sending the ultimate Deliverer.
  • A simple prayer (vs. 1)

1 Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.

  • Simple, but to the point.  David needs to be preserved (protected) & the only One whom he can trust to do it is the Lord.  God is the one in whom David placed his trust.
  • That’s the starting point of our own relationship with Christ.  We turn away from our sins & ask for the salvation Jesus offers – how?  By placing our trust/faith in Him!  Our trust is not in our abilities – it’s not in our accomplishments – our trust is in Christ alone because He is the only One who can grant the salvation & deliverance we need.
  • The basis of relationship (vs. 2)

2 O my soul, you have said to the LORD, “You are my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You.”

  • David affirms his covenant relationship with the Lord.  The LORD is his Lord.  Yahweh (the Ever-existent Covenant-keeping God) is David’s Adonai (Master).
  • What did David receive from God?  Goodness.  He has no goodness apart from God.  In Christian terminology, he’s talking about justification by faith!  We have no righteousness on our own, but when we come to Christ & place our faith in Him as Lord, Jesus gives us HIS righteousness.
  • Contrast of the righteous & wicked (vss. 3-4)

3 As for the saints who are on the earth, “They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”
4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god; Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, Nor take up their names on my lips.

  • The result of the saving work of God is that David has a love for other believers.  The other saints that fear the Lord are those whom David delights in – just as a true born-again believer in Jesus Christ will delight in other believers.  A Christian who has a hatred for the Church can’t truly be called a “Christian” at all.  Granted there are aspects about the institution that need reforming, but ultimate the “Church” isn’t an institution, it’s the people of God.  Christians love the Church, by definition.
  • At the same time, David declares how he doesn’t want to be associated with those who are not believers.  He will not participate in idolatrous sacrifices, nor worship false gods.  David’s heart is to join with the saints of God; not those in rebellion against God.
    • That’s not to say that Christians are never to be around non-believers.  (After all, who would we share the gospel with?)  Yet Christians are to be careful in how we participate with non-believers.  We never deny who we are as believers in Christ – we never compromise with false ideas about God nor participate in carnal pleasures that bring no glory to God.  Paul writes that believers aren’t to be unequally yoked with non-believers (2 Cor 6:14).
  • The inheritance of the godly (vss. 5-6)

5 O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. 6 The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance.

  • God IS our inheritance.
  • God guarantees our inheritance
  • Our inheritance is good!
  • The assurance of the godly (vss. 7-8)

7 I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. 8 I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope.

  • Why did David rejoice?  Because he had a grand assurance of his relationship with God.  David had no doubt of his inheritance, or his deliverance by the Lord.
  • God is our security.
  • We can rejoice because when we abide in Christ Jesus, our salvation is secure in Him!  We can rejoice in our hope of glory… (Col 1:27)
  • The future promises for the godly (vss. 10-11)

10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

  • Not only did David have assurance for his present relationship with God, he had assurance for his future relationship with God.  He likely did not understand it in all of its fullness, but he had faith in a future resurrection where he would spend eternity with God in the presence of the glory of God.
  • What we learn from the NT is that this wasn’t simply a hope of David’s; this is direct prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!  [Pentecost] Acts 2:27–32, "(27) For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (28) You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’ (29) “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. (30) Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, (31) he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. (32) This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses." []

Conclusion:
God is good – man is bad – man can be transformed – all through the work of Jesus Christ.  In a nutshell, that’s the gospel!  Summarize it in 12 words: God’s perfect – we’re not – we’re guilty – Jesus died – Jesus rose – Jesus saves.  That’s exactly the message of David through the psalms, and what a glorious message it is!

Have you turned to Jesus as Savior & Lord?  Have you been transformed by His grace?  Tonight is the night you can do that.

If you have, are you STILL relying about the goodness & grace of Jesus Christ?  It can be so easy for us as Christians to at one time come to faith in Christ & then start living our lives practically as if His grace hadn’t done anything.  Take time to rejoice in the wonderful work of the Son of God on your behalf.  Take the time to join with David in praise for the marvelous grace of Jesus Christ!  We have nothing without Him – but in Him we have the everlasting blessing of God.

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