Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Ascent Psalms

Psalm 120 - 134 were songs of ascent. 4 attributed to David, 1 to Solomon, 10 anonymous.

Tradition says these were sung as the the people went UP  (a)  to Jerusalem  (pilgrimages (at least 3 per year were required), feast days
(b)  to the Temple  atop a hill)
(c)  the 15 steps - between the court of women and the court of Israel

Are 15 Ascent psalms.  Tradition said that the men sang an ascent song on each step upward.

Psm. 122:1-5

Whatever the usage, the point was UP!!   ie:  UP toward God and UP toward God's throne.
Israel knew God as Omnipresent, however the temple was His "house", the ark was His "throne".

Compare to Christians and church.  Yes, we can worship God in any setting on any day, but there is something special about coming to God's house on God's day with God's people.

Are no laments, no complaints in the Ascent Psalms.

The Themes (within the ascent psalms) Vary - examples:  Were not ALL about going UP to His presence.

#1.  prayers for assistance - Psm. 121:1-8, 123:1-4

#2.  recognition of God's Provision - Psm. 124:1-8

#3.  Confidence in God - Psm. 131:1-3, 125:1-2

#4.  Certainty of God's blessings  (on His people) - Psm. 128:1-6  - they are absolutely certain God will bless.

#5.  Certainty of God's forgiveness.  Psm. 130:1-8

#6.  prayers for Jerusalem (Zion)  Psm. 122:6-9  - capital city, center of the faith.  The way Jerusalem goes, so goes the nation.

Beyond the Themes --- you find the Attitudes that underlie these 15 songs.

As they approach, they display an attitude of:

(1)  Reverence - deep respect, high regard, which leads to awe and wonder in light of God's majesty, sovereignty, might, power - (His will will be done!)   coupled with His faithfulness, mercy, compassion, provision.  That a being that awesome cares for us, forgives us our sins.

(2)  Praise which = when adoration spills out  (overflows)  (something we can detect)

(3)  Special combination of:  
Humility  (because He = God and I = ??)  plus
Confidence (because we are invited  - He's not going to strike me down, disown me.  And
 Expectation - Heb. 4:16 - confidence, not arrogance.  Expect to get an answer to prayer.  However, may NOT be the answer we want.

They approach with:
(4).  JOY at the opportunity and privilege of being
           (a) in God's presence,  (b) at God's temple  (c)  with God's people
Ascent Psalms = ALL HOPEFUL!!  No laments here!)

(5)  Unity - fellowship, camaraderie, brotherhood - Psm. 133:1-3
On one hand, each person approaches God as individual,
However, they come as a PEOPLE
Eph. 4:2-6

Their approach is not so different from ours!  However, we have revelation and understanding that they didn't have.  Rom. 5:1-2  Everyone now has access to God through Jesus Christ.  John 14:6
Only barrier we have to this access is US!!

So learn from their approach to God, but don't omit the Vital step in the Approach!! - must come through Jesus Christ.

John 6:37

Monday, September 17, 2018

The History Psalms

Definition:  a part of Israel's history (story) in poetry/song

But .. more than history!  = History with a POINT!! - not just a song for entertainment.

Within the history psalms the reader can see:
    (1)  God's work & presence among the people of Israel
    (2)  Glimpse God's character - not just WHAT He does, but WHO He IS!!
    (3)  Learn of their spiritual heritage
    (4)  Find challenges to personal behavior

The above = true of Israel, also true of us!!

Example:  Psalm 78:9-72 = the story.  Vs. 9 referencing the battle with the Philistines when the Ark of the Covenant was captured.
                Psalm 78:1-8 = the point - so they don't repeat the history

Themes = creation, Exodus, wandering, conquest, settling
Also, the peoples' repeated rebellion Y God's faithfulness to His covenant promises.

Example:  Psm. 105:11-17 - the (partial) story.            
                Psm. 105:1-7 - the point - make known what He has done.

This = history with a Point!!  Put in story form to remind us and teach us.

Is obvious how this = helpful to Israel, but, question:  HOW are the History Psalms beneficial to you and I today?

#1.  The History Psalms allow us to see God's actions (works)  
POINT:  He is not absent or inactive.  AS He worked with them, SO He'll work with me.
Phil. 1:6 = God is always active with His people.

#2.  The History Psalms give us a glimpse of God's Character
ie:  more that what He does ... = what He's like!!

In the History Psalms we see God's faithfulness, mercy, long suffering, forgiveness, but ALSO His intolerance of Rebellion & sin!!

So.... seeing His (glorious) character should therefore:

#3.  incite worship - ascribe worth to
ie:  wonder, awe, reverence & Response
Example:  Psm. 136:1-26

#4.  The History Psalms should serve to help me remember - ie:  review PAST events to help me properly address my current situation!
Example:  in Deuteronomy, repeated over and over - "remember, be careful, don't forget...."  Point being:  we forget - especially in times of blessings.
Compare us:  Heb. 2:1
(also to help me remember how much I;m like them!!  Illustration:  Psalm 106:47, 4-5

#5.  The History Psalms should challenge my devotions and decisions. (as presented to successive generations) 
History Psalms said:  A)  these are your ROOTS!! - you have no control over that.
                                B)  what will by your FRUITS?  - that's your decision.

My heritage partly makes me who I am, but I must decide what my output will be.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Torah Psalms

Psm. 119:1-8 = beginning of Torah Psalms

Have looked at Praise, Thanksgiving, Lament, Cursing, Wisdom, Pentential, and Messianic Psalms.

Definition:  Torah -  narrowest sense = The LAW  (Mosaic)
                           - broader sense = any/all of God's revealed Word.  (wisdom literature, prophets, etc.)

TORAH = Word from God

TORAH PSALMS = those Psalms (pr parts of a Psalm) that commend, celebrate, appreciate, promote God's Word.

Classic Torah Psalm = Psalm 119  (longest of the psalms)
It is and Acrostic (alphabetic) Poem - 22 stanzas w/8 lines each.  (Every stanza celebrates God's Word)
AND, every stanza begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet - beginning with the first letter.
ie:  "Aleph" - Vs. 1-8, "Beth" - Vs. 9-16, and so on.

Psm. 119:9-16
Note the direct references to God's Word.  Replace those words with "Instruction".
On one hand, this is NOT the best translation of those words, but it does show the IDEA and intent of TORAH and Psm. 119.  Each one focused heavily on God's Word.

Often we are familiar with individual verses within Psalm 119 - examples:  Psm. 119:5, 105, but the whole psalm = instructive and applicable.
Not only are we made in God's image, but God has set laws for living that are not changing or arbitrary.

(rather than read all 176 verses, )
Will look at 4 Primary Themes within Psalm 119.

Theme #1.  GOD'S WORD  (primary theme, in every stanza)

Example:  3rd. letter (Gimel) - Psm. 119:17-24
Application of all of this?? - Psm. 119:1-2 - "blessed" - You want God's blessing, you live according to His rules.  They exist just like the law of gravity, etc.  However, blessing doesn't necessarily come in this life.
In Psm. 119, God's Word is presented as:
(1)  Revealed to us
(2)  Righteous - Psm. 119:137, 142 - God always does right, therefore His laws are always right!
(3)  Eternal (unchanging)  Psm. 119:144, 152 - (example:  rules concerning morals haven't changed)
(4)  Practical  (effective) - Psm. 119:9, 140 - not just a theory or a philosophy, but for living

Therefore, common phrase, theme = "I trust in Your Word".

Theme #2.  GOD'S ASSISTANCE  (in living according to His Word)
The author on one hand recognizes the need to decide to follow and  strive to keep His Word.
However, recognizes that he = fallen man in a fallen world and not going to measure up.
Therefore:  asks for and expects Divine Assistance!  Psm. 119:33-37

teach me - Psm. 119:66, 68
give me understanding - Psm. 119:27, 73
direct me, guide me, lead me
turn my heart towards Your statutes
turn my eyes away from worthless things - Psm. 119:18

Compare to:  father of demon-possessed child - "I believe!  Help my unbelief!"  - because we often struggle to obey and sometimes struggle to Believe!!

Theme #3.  GOD'S PROMISE(S) 
when author prays for assistance - He calls attention to God's promises!  Psm. 119:38, 41, 58, 76, 170 -

This is not getting God's attention or changing his mind.
It is the author - bolstering (under girding) his own faith!!

Compare:  "been 2000 years and things look bad, BUT -- you said you'd rise ... and did!  You said you'd return... and I believe you will!!
Meanwhile remember your promises to me!!  - Psm. 119:49  (which leads to:)

Theme #4.  THE BELIEVER'S HOPE - confidence, trust   Psm. 119:81-83
Which = "my hope is in you..., " therefore I'll try to live according to Your word... regardless of what comes!!  John 6:66-69 compare to Psm. 119:169-176

 #1.  Where is YOUR Hope?  in  (A) NO god? (B)  god of your own making?  (C) this Revealed GOD

#2.  Does your hope extend BEYOND head and heart?  does it migrate to your hands?  action, lifestyle.
Clearly if it never reaches your hands, questionable how much you really believe.

#3.  Does your hope include Jesus Christ?  (the ultimate and greatest Revelation of God.) John 14:6

Closing Scripture:  1 Pet. 1:23 - 2:3

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Messianic Psalms

Have done, Praise, Thanksgiving, Lament, Cursing, Wisdom, Penitential.
Today - Messianic Psalms = looking forward to the Anointed One (Messiah), Christos in Greek.
Psalm 2:1-12  = David?  future? kings?  THE KING? 

Jews looked for THE ANOINTED ONE - the Promised one.  (deliverer, savior, ruler, leader)

The Messianic Psalms = psalms that 1)  anticipate this Messiah
2)  predict specific events concerning His coming

11 New Testament books quote from the Messianic Psalms with at least 70 specific references to His coming fulfilled in Jesus' life.
Predictions of Messiah in Psalms:
1.  will come from lineage of David
2.  will be called (by God) while still in the womb
3.  will come for ALL people
4.  be called "the Son of God"
5.  will call God His "Father"
6.  will be God's "Only Begotten" Son
7.  will be called "King of the Jews"
8.  will be "The Stone the builders rejected"
9.  will be a priest after the order of Melchizedek
10.  will be both Lord and King
11.  will be eternal
12.  will do His Father's will
13.  will communicate a message of mercy
14.  will be angered by unethical priests and political leaders
15.  will act in Righteousness!
16.  will be despised and rejected by His own
17.  will have religious and political opposition
18.  will be abandoned by His disciples
19.  will be mocked
20.  will be silent before his accusers
21.  will be executed (crucified)
22.  will be watched by Gentiles at execution  (executed by Gentiles)
23.  will be pierced in hands and feet  (crucifixion)
24.  will have His garments distributed by lots!!
25.  will feel forsaken by God  (Psalm 22:1)
26.  will thirst while dying
27.  will have no bones broken
28.  will spill blood and water at His death
29.  will not experience bodily corruption  (Resurrection)
30.  will be Resurrected
31.  will ascend back into heaven
32.  will be exalted to God's right hand 

(this list is about half of what is usually listed!!)

Some examples of New Testament quotes from Old Testament psalms.
Acts 2:24-27  (from Psm. 16:8-10)
John 19:28-29  (from Psalm 69:21)
Mark 12:10-11   (from Psalm 118:22-23)
Acts 4:25-27  (from Psalm 2:1-2)
Matt. 22:41-45  (from Psalm 110:1-2)

The CLASSIC Messianic Psalm = Psm. 22:1-19  - Is the one most people remember - the One who suffered and died for us.

Question:  What is the Practical Value?  What can be taken away for daily use

#1.  The Messianic Psalms offer special insights concerning our Messiah/Savior.  We see things about Christ that we may not see elsewhere.
ie:  His character, attitude, relationship with the Father, ministry to us.

Example:  What distinguishes this God from pagan gods??
ANSWER:  willing to suffer for us!!  Pagan gods don't do this.
So... Heb. 10:3-7  (from Psalm 40:6-8)

#2.  Therefore, the Messianic Psalms = ideal for worship.  ie:  we declare His worth in poetry, verse, song
So, Psalm 22:1-21 = lament, BUT, Psalm 22:25-28 = praise and worship.
This sets apart Christian worship.
(of all the Messianic Psalms, most well known are NOT about His majesty, glory, rule, but are about His suffering .... for us!!)

#3.  The Messianic Psalms offer us additional confidence in the Word.  are many specific prophecies fulfilled -1000 years before his coming!

So ... Paul - 2 Tim. 3:16-17 - Scripture = reliable, = practical

#4.  The Messianic Psalms offer us confidence in our Christ (Savior, Redeemer)

Question:  who's your greatest enemy?  - "Yourself!!"
Question:  Who'll save you from that enemy?  - Matt. 1:21

Note:  The Biblical term for "Confidence" = FAITH  -  Heb. 11:1

Could add:
#5.  Messianic Psalms offer us an example, a model, one to imitate

WWJD - really what should I do?

Last word on this from Paul - Phil. 2:5-13