I don’t know about you, but for me and apparently David in Psalms 25, having a conscience was rather self-evident.
Psa 25:3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
When I do something I know is deliberately wrong and have no purpose in doing it other than the job itself, I am going to be ashamed of what I did. Conversely, we don’t need to be ashamed when we are doing what God would want.
There is a reason I don’t download illegal music from the Internet.
I think that all of us intuitively know that taking something that isn’t ours is wrong. Even young children who haven’t had very much time to be influenced or to be nurtured naturally know that they don’t like it when you take away something that they believe is their own. Think about trying to take a pacifier away from a baby. Even though they might not understand property rights necessarily, there is some kind of natural instinct that you don’t take something that belongs to someone else. The baby believes that the pacifier belongs to him, so when you take it away, you have violated some kind of belief that he has before he even begins to be influenced by our general cultural belief that thievery is wrong.
I don’t download illegal music because of that basic understanding. There is something inside of me that tells me I shouldn’t be doing it. I have that inside, and I cannot remember a time I didn’t. Perhaps it is a fear of punishment, but realistically I know that very few people who illegally download music get caught. The rewards should outweigh the risks; I get all the free music I want as a reward.
For some reason, my conscience goes off. I think that if we are all honest, we will confirm that there is some kind of conscience. We might debate on where it comes from, but I think that we can agree that there is some kind of internal voice that leads us away from certain activities.
You might argue that I am biased because I have grown up in a Christian household. Fine, you don’t need to rely on my experience. Are there certain things that you feel are wrong? Injustice? Poverty? Greed? Hatred? Discrimination?
The conscience is an interesting piece of evidence for the existence of objective morality. If there are certain things that we naturally seem to understand are right or wrong across the board, why is that true?
I’m not going to answer all of that for you today, but to quote apologist Greg Koukl, I just want to put a stone in your shoe. I wanted you to start thinking about this conscience. Does it exist? How did it begin? Is there some sense in which morality is objective and these natural things in our conscience are part of something outside of our own perspective?
These may seem life things that are better left for the philosophy classroom, but why leave them there? These ideas certainly have implications for you and me as well.
Psalms 24 begins with David’s main premise.
Psa 24:1 A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
Psa 24:2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
Basically, God is in control of the world, and He is in that position because He created all of it. The Creator has a right to own His creation.
Then, with this in mind, we move on to the main question at the chapter.
Psa 24:3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
When you climb that hill, you are going to get closer to God. You are going to end up in a better place than you are right now, but how do you go about climbing that mountain?
Psa 24:4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
Psa 24:5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Psa 24:6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.
Here is the answer to that question. Do you see the salvation message here? We need to have clean hands and our hearts need to be right with God. In other words, we need forgiveness and grace. Even though David was writing in the Old Testament, it is kind of interesting that you can see foreshadowing of New Testament events.
It is also significant because think about the Old Testament sacrifice system. It would not remove your sins in the sense that Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice did, but you did perform them often to help cover over your sins. In other words, you did clean your hands. It didn’t change the inside, but it did change the surface.
On top of that, your heart needs to be pure and have good motives just like we need to today. You could perform all the sacrifices in the world in David’s day, but they did not mean much if you did not have that desire to love God. It is kind of like that today. Anybody can say a simple salvation prayer, but your heart really needs to be in the right place where you actually desire a relationship with God rather than some kind of divine insurance policy.
I know that David was writing in the Old Testament, so he was obviously writing about what he knew in the Old Testament system. However, I think that we can take what he wrote and apply it forward to our lives today. Certainly, Jesus was a game changer in how we relate to God, but we still need to accept His salvation for the ultimate cleansing of our hands and do it with a pure heart.
David wanted to know why God wasn’t necessarily answering his prayers immediately in Psalms 22.
Psa 22:7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
Psa 22:8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
Don’t we hear this one a lot today? People wonder how we can believe in God when he doesn’t always give us what we want when we pray. Maybe we are praying for an incredibly noble things. We might be asking for healing for a loved one or something much larger than like the end of suffering in the world. It seems like those would be great things for God to answer. After all, isn’t healing people or ending suffering in the world a good outcome?
This is a difficult question because to answer that God would or would not do something presumes knowledge of the mind of God. Could it be possible that God does have a purpose for all of these problems? Could it be possible that God has not eliminated evil from the world for some purpose? I am not forcing you to absolutely believe that, but I am asking you if it is possible that this is the case.
Is it possible that an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good God can allow evil in the world?
I have argued this case before when I wrote about Psalms 10, but I think it is worth repeating that this entire problem falls apart if we can affirm the case that God does indeed exist. Then, we do have the simultaneous existence of God and evil.
We certainly might not understand everything about the world, I don’t think that the problem of evil needs to be all that we sometimes make it out to be. Yes, we might not always understand why there is evil in the world, but the affirmation of the existence of God eliminates that problem and should not necessarily become a stumbling block.
It seems that David was in the same spot in this Psalm. If you listen to the rest of the chapter, you’ll see that he was certain that God was real. He still had the question at the beginning of the chapter and did not understand the reason God was not answering his prayers, but it is not like that question alone drove him away from God.
There is a lot to be said about the problem of evil, but I don’t think that it is nearly as powerful as some people will give it credit for. If God and evil are both real things in the world, then it certainly is not the case that one necessarily eliminates the existence of the other.
I have to assume that Psalms 21 was an autobiographical account of David’s own life. He refers to the king who is trusting God, and as we all know, David was a guy who tried his best to follow God and be a man after God’s own heart.
Psa 21:7 For the king trusteth in the LORD, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.
Psa 21:8 Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee.
This happened in David’s life quite a bit. He was not moved because God was merciful towards him and continued to survive. Think about what happened before David became king. Saul was chasing him all around the wilderness, but God watched out for David and helped him survive.
This really makes me think of construction. That trust is similar to a foundation. Your foundation must be sound before you start to build on it. You don’t put a skyscraper on top of a cracking foundation. That is what trusting God seems like to me. He is a foundation, and you build a relationship on top of that as you learn more about God Himself.
However, this metaphor can extend a little bit farther. If you have laid down your foundation, it is not the kind of thing that you would pick up and move somewhere else. Foundations are permanent rather than portable. They are solid and are not moved. That is what I think David is referring to as well. When you have this strong foundation of trust in God, you are not going to move on.
Why would you not move on?
I think that there are many potential responses to this, but I think that a quote by Peter sums it up as well as anyone else.
Joh 6:67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Joh 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
If God truly is everything He says He is, then where else can we go? If you have developed this trust, then you can’t just leave it.
Psalms 20 kind of feels like a pregame pep talk. David is getting people all excited about following God and being on the right side of difficult situations.
Psa 20:6 Now know I that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.
Psa 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
Psa 20:8 They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.
God will hear us, and He will save His people. David was obviously writing from the perspective of the chosen people of Israel, but because of the New Covenant, we have inherited the right to become children of God. We have the power of God behind us as well.
How is this different than what the rest of the world trusts?
They trust in their chariots and their horses, but we continue to come back to the name of God. Material things fail, and that is the entire point of verse eight. You might have the best army in the world, but they can lose on any one day. You might be the smartest person in the world, but you might overlook a major detail and ruin a massive project. Anything earthly that you put your trust in might fail.
David was encouraging the people of Israel to come back to God. When everyone else is breaking down, those who trust in God will stand upright. They will be able to handle difficult times because of their solid support system.
That is really what it all comes down to. This chapter is about having a strong foundation. If you are basing everything on the world, you will be disappointed. I bet it isn’t very hard for you to go back into your life and find some situation where another person disappointed you. Maybe they didn’t do it intentionally, but they still broke your trust.
That is exactly the opposite of what David is saying God does. He is a strong foundation to rely on. You don’t need to worry about disappointment because God does not make mistakes.
We need to trust God like we believe that though. Where is our foundation based?
Psalms 19 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, and David covers a lot of ground in just a few verses. I am only going to cover a small part of it, but, if you don’t normally read along with me, I would encourage you to do it for this one.
Psa 19:12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
Psa 19:13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
Psa 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
I want to focus on this part because it makes an important point about our sins. There can be secret faults.
Ignorance is not a defense. For example, say no one ever told me that murder was a sin. It would still be wrong to go and murder someone, and I would still be punished by our government. I know that this is kind of a ridiculous example because David knew the Scriptures and clearly would have understood that murder was a sin. However, I think you can understand the main point. Ignorance of a sin does not take away the penalty and certainly does not make it morally acceptable.
This is important because we then need to move into verse 13. We have something that we are calling the great transgression. What exactly is the great transgression?
Earlier in the verse, David asks that sin would not have dominion over him. Then, if sin does not have this position in his life, he will be upright, and he will be innocent from the great transgression.
If he does not have sin in charge of his life, then he must have God in charge of his life.
Rom 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Rom 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
You are either slaves to sin or a slave to righteousness. There is not middle ground in this situation. Therefore, if we put everything together that we have seen so far, if we are not committing the great transgression, we must be slaves to righteousness. If we are not slaves to righteousness, we must be slaves to sin, and the way to be a slave to sin is to not be delivered or not believe in Jesus and His death as our salvation as shown in Romans 6:17.
Therefore, the great transgression is disbelief.
I hope that none of you find yourself in this position today. Like I said above, ignorance is not a defense. Think about it.
Psalms 18 is a very thankful chapter written by David. He begins by stating his conclusion.
Psa 18:2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
Because of everything that is to follow in this chapter, David has concluded that God is all of these things. He is a powerful and personal supreme being who apparently deserves worship or else this Psalm would not have been written.
Then, we are presented with quite a bit of support for this assertion. It begins in the very next verse, and it tells us why God is all of these things listed in verse two.
Psa 18:3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
Psa 18:4 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.
Psa 18:5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.
Psa 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
Basically, there were all kinds of problems floating over David’s head, and he knew that he was overwhelmed. He called upon God because he knew that God was the only way he could ultimately overcome all of these evils.
I think that we really need to think about this every day. Sometimes, we think that our problems are so big that we just have to deal with them as best we can. We have to do it on our own because certainly a good God would not allow all of the suffering and difficulty.
However, that perspective needs to be turned on its head. The only reason we even escape these problems is because of the mercy and power of God. The world is undoubtedly a fallen place. There are all kinds of problems that we have to deal with, and many of them seem far beyond our ability to handle.
It seems to me that God helps us handle these problems every day just like He did for David.
I know that it is easy to make excuses, but sometimes we need to take responsibility. We need to set our minds on something and actually follow through with it. That is what we hear from David in Psalms 17.
Psa 17:3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
I want to call attention to that second phrase. David was purposed to not speak evil. Sometimes, I am sure that he did say something that was wrong. However, he made a focused effort to avoid using bad language.
I think that we can extend this to the rest of our lives; it isn’t just applicable to language. For instance, we can set our minds to avoid pride. We can try our best to rely on God and move away from pride with His assistance (we know that human effort doesn’t always work well).
You can really fill in the blank with whatever particular struggle you might have, but the point is that we can set our minds to work towards improvement.
Let me pull it from another more popular passage in the Bible.
Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
If we are walking in the Spirit, we have made the decision to walk. You don’t start moving without effort, and you don’t start moving for no reason. Remember, as this verse mentions, that some of the improvement that we are working towards will be entirely contrary to the sin nature that we previously held, but we still need to make that decision to move. It isn’t like the temptation instantaneously disappears just because we want it to. Sometimes, I have heard that this can happen for people, but I also know that that is not the majority experience.
We need to step up, take responsibility and step in the right direction.
Psalms 16 is another Messianic chapter. While it doesn’t necessarily make too many claims, when you look at least two of the promises outlined by David in this chapter, it becomes obvious that Jesus Christ is indeed the fulfillment of those promises.
Let me throw you one.
Psa 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
When you look at this one, there is a pretty obvious Jesus reference. It refers to the path of life. Jesus said that He was the way. Let me give you another one.
Psa 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
God will not leave our souls in hell. Why? We do not need to worry about it because of the free gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. From this chapter, we know that a method is coming. We might not know the method yet, but God will provide a way.
Even in the first sermon at Pentecost, Peter directly quoted this Psalm as evidence of the fulfillment of prophecy through the resurrection.
Act 2:25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
Act 2:26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
Act 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Act 2:28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
It might not specifically say a lot in this chapter, but here’s what we can say about Psalms 16. God would show us the path of life, and He would also provide a way to avoid eternal death. In fact, both of these things are true about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If we take this evidence and add it to the multiple other Messianic prophecies distributed throughout the Old Testament, you can get a pretty comprehensive picture of who Jesus is. From Psalm 16, we get confirmation of two important facts.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!