Monthly Archives: November 2013

Psalms 18: Why Do We Rely on God?

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.

Psalms 17: Make a Decision to Improve

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.

Psalm 16: Resurrection Prophecy

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!

Psalms 15: Dwelling with God

Psalms 15 begins with a very important question.

Psa 15:1  A Psalm of David. LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?

Remember, in Old Testament times, God lived in the tabernacle on earth. Before Pentecost, that was the way that the priest was able to open the lines of communication with God. Obviously, He did communicate in other ways in the Old Testament, but the tabernacle was a very important symbol. Therefore, when David wanted to dwell in the tabernacle, we are really talking about living with or walking with God.

How can we develop that kind of intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe?

The remaining verses outline some very important things.

Psa 15:2  He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

Psa 15:3  He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

Psa 15:4  In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.

Psa 15:5  He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

Jesus wasn’t wrong when He said that the entire law can be summed up by loving God with all your heart and loving others as you love yourself. That’s a lot about this chapter deals with. Verse two deals with things related to God, verses three and five are related to others, and verse four is kind of a combination of both of those.

I know that this is a tall order. We are talking about a lot of loving here, and it is particularly difficult to love other people sometimes. Loving God is also difficult, but relatively speaking, loving other people is probably more difficult. People can be a lot more irritating in my own experience. However, notice that this is not optional. It is the answer to the question. Do you want to walk with God? If so, here’s how you do it. You love God, and you love other people.

The concept is simple, but the execution can be difficult. I pray that all of us can work a little more on becoming Christians who are concerned with love.

Psalms 14: We All Make Bad Decisions Sometimes

Psalms 14 has something very important to tell us about our sin nature. In fact, it explains that our nature is indeed natural.

Psa 14:1  To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

Psa 14:2  The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.

Psa 14:3  They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

God was looking down at all people and realized that absolutely no one was on the right track. Everyone had turned aside at some point. In other words, everyone has sinned; it is our natural state before we know God. There is no one that does good things all the time. This point is reinforced by some other verses in the Bible, but here is the most popular one.

Rom 3:23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

No one’s perfect. No one makes the right decisions all of time. Everyone has done something that hurts someone else.

Although this may seem to be a kind of pessimistic outlook on humanity, it is unfortunately a realistic one. The optimism in the situation comes from the fact that God does forgive. He will always be willing to bring us back. He has that power, and He has that mercy.

He has exactly what we need, and He is willing to give that to us.

The application for today is not really too complicated. We need to get right with God wherever we are. You might not be a Christian, or you might be a Christian. Make sure that you have confessed your sins to God and accept that free gift.

Psalms 13: Handling Questions

In Psalms 13, David was a broken man. Just listen to how he begins this passage.

Psa 13:1  To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?

He thought he had been abandoned by God. He felt like God had turned His face away. It is not that he ever doubted the existence of God as evidenced by verse three, but he really had no idea why everything was going the way that it was. Even at the end of the Psalm, it is obvious that he still believes in a good God who loves him. He simply doesn’t understand why things are the way they are and wants that knowledge.

It is interesting why he wants to understand all of these things.

Psa 13:3  Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

Psa 13:4  Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

David did not want his questions to interfere with anybody else’s faith. He didn’t want his enemies to be able to say that they had defeated him and by extension God simply because David was having a time of depression. He didn’t want anyone get the impression that he did not believe in God.

Again, like I already mentioned, David would have never said that God did not exist. The very fact that he was talking to God is evidence that he didn’t believe God had all of a sudden disappeared.

However, he was concerned that people would misinterpret him in that way.

It would be a gross misrepresentation though. Let me try to create a parallel situation. I might not be able to explain very much about the nature of electrons, and I might wonder what they are doing and how they work. However, that doesn’t mean that I automatically doubt that electrons exist. I can have questions and still believe in the existence of these particles.

David had enough experiential evidence in his life that he was comfortable having questions and believing in God simultaneously. This isn’t like I am advocating for some kind of anti-intellectual belief system. On the contrary. David was trying to understand what he did not know. He was pursuing knowledge and truth. However, he also clearly understood that having questions about the nature of something is not nearly the same as doubting the existence of something.

Psalms 12: Keep the Faith

In Psalms 12, David saw a generation in moral decline. He saw people that were not acting the way that they should, and the hardest part was that they were falling away from the faith.

Psa 12:1  To the chief Musician upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David. Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.

Psa 12:2  They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

I think we can certainly identify with this message today. The world seems to be growing farther and farther away from God. People are falling away from the faith as well. It doesn’t take very long to find an article on the Internet of someone who identifies as an “ex-Christian.” We may worry about what is happening in our world, but apparently, this kind of thing was even going on in the time of King David.

If you want to go even farther into this issue, continue reading what David says and see if that doesn’t match up with what we see in the world today.

Psa 12:8  The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.

What exactly are we supposed to do about this? The only thing that this Psalm advises is to continue being faithful.

Psa 12:5  For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.

Psa 12:6  The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Psa 12:7  Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

Even though many of the godly people are falling away, we can be assured that God will preserve the faithful. Interestingly, these verses specifically refer to the poor and needy. I would have to assume this is because they are the most vulnerable when people begin to start becoming dishonest and devious.

I think that the application for us is pretty obvious today. We need to be thinking about the fact that even though our generation and our world might be falling away from God, God has handled this kind of situation before. It might be discouraging, but in reality, evil is no match for God, so there is no need for fear.

Psalms 11: Why Are You Trusting?

Psalms 11 is all about David wanting to trust God. However, right from the first verse you notice that other people don’t really understand why he is doing what he is doing.

Psa 11:1  To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?

Psa 11:2  For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.

Psa 11:3  If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

Basically, he is talking to some other person who asks him why he is waiting around and trusting God. After all, the evil people are right there ready to kill him. They have their bows already bent. Whoever that other person is told David that he really needs to run away and take care of himself. After all, if David, as the King and the foundation of the government, is destroyed, the evil people have pretty much won.

Here is how David responded.

Psa 11:4  The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.

Psa 11:5  The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

Psa 11:6  Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.

Psa 11:7  For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.

Basically, you can summarize those four verses by saying that God will judge the evil and take care of the righteous. All of those concerns that the first person brought up are really irrelevant for David. He was determined that God would take care of him no matter what.

I hope that we can have this kind of attitude. People might wonder why we have this trust in God. For David, he had this experience. He knew that God had delivered him before, and he was confident that God would deliver him again. When you experience God, you develop that trust more and more. As you might remember from the narrative of David life, he had experienced many things that would strengthen this trust. I hope that we can learn from him and use his testimony to strengthen our own faith.

Psalms 10: The Problem of Evil

I have to admit that I really enjoy David’s honesty in Psalms 10. He begins the chapter with one of the biggest questions that humanity has ever had.

Psa 10:1  Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?

He is asking why God allows evil to happen. The rest of the chapter goes on to question why wicked people do so many things that we know God hates. The implication is that if God is able, which we believe He is because of His omnipotence, why does He allow evil people to do evil? David asked God to remember the difficulties that the humble people face because of this evil.

I have the feeling that this is one of the most serious challenges to your own personal faith. Evil is so tangible in the world that you have to wonder why a good God wouldn’t stop it. It is a basic application of the philosophical device known as modus ponens. This is what many nonbelievers will throw at you.

If God is good, all-powerful, and all-knowing, He would stop evil.

Evil still exists.

Therefore, a God that is good, all-powerful, and all-knowing must not exist.

There are a few things that we need to keep in mind when were confronted with this issue. First, to imply that there is evil implies some sense of objective morality which is a very important evidence for the existence of God. To claim that there is an objective law without an objective Lawgiver is something that is difficult for your opponent to claim. In fact, it will help us in our defense later.

However, I was listening to a lecture by Garrett DeWeese, and he presented a very interesting way to approach this proof.

The following proof is approximately equivalent to the one shown above.

If there is evil in the world, God must not exist.

There is evil in the world.

God must not exist.

Notice that this comes right out of the conclusion of the above proof. Also, remember that the definition we are using for evil is something that undermines God by the very nature of its existence. Even if we can’t specifically define every little thing that is evil or not, your opponent is claiming that the presence of evil undermines God.

Now, if you have something in modus ponens form, it is simple to transition into modus tollens form.

If there is evil in the world, God must not exist.

It is not the case that God must not exist.

Therefore, there is no evil in the world.

I think that I need to clarify a few things here. Again, evil is the term I’m using for this things that people say necessarily undermine the existence of God. For example, why don’t we talk about pain and suffering? To put that through my proof, my conclusion would not be that pain and suffering do not exist. My argument would be that the necessity of pain and suffering disproving the existence of God must not exist. This is a very important distinction. I hope that I made that clear.

The second thing that needs clarification is that second premise. Because there is a double negative, it is essentially saying that God does exist. This is where you break out the cosmological argument, the necessity of objective morality or the teleological argument. I don’t want to get into all of that here, but I did want to point out that that premise is a presupposition. It in and of itself has a set of proofs behind it.

The problem of evil is a serious one. We all have to face it on many levels. Obviously, we can talk about tragedies like the Holocaust and see the evil at work. However, I think that it is important to remember that this does not need to be something that undermines our faith.

Psalms 9: Trying to Push God Aside

Psalms 9 is basically an entire chapter discussing the justice of God. David is asking God to remember his struggles and the attacks of his enemies. David had plenty of them. However, he never doubted that God was in control, and he emphasized throughout the chapter that he was still going to praise God no matter what because of all the great things He had has done.

However, right before we hit the end of the chapter, I found something very interesting that I wanted to explore with you today.

Psa 9:19  Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.

Psa 9:20  Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.

David does not want any man to prevail, and he wants the nations to know that they are simply human. In other words, he wants people to stop thinking that they are God.

Unfortunately, it is easy to put ourselves up on pedestals. I think that having good self-esteem is great, but we are talking about something entirely different in this situation. These people don’t feel like they have any moral accountability. They have elevated themselves to such a point where they believe they can do whatever they want without repercussions. That is why David does not them to prevail. They need to be judged because they have this warped impression of themselves. They have not acknowledged God and His authority.

This is something that we need to be careful about. We need to make sure that we always attribute everything to God that belongs to Him. We are not the ones who are ultimately on top. We have to deal with the reality of God. How are we going to respond to Him?

As Christians, I hope that we respond by glorifying God and putting Him first. I hope we are not like these people that David is complaining about who perceive themselves as something greater than human. We need to understand where we belong in the universe and where God belongs.