Psalm 49 Message

Psalm 49 Message

Psalm 49 Message
Explaining the Book of Psalms

 
 
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Psalm 49 Message: The reality in this world of wicked men who are also powerful is a dreadful one.

We know that God is all-powerful and that he hates evil. And yet, he seems to at least permit the existence of wicked men in this world – who are not only allowed to exist in God’s world – but they’re also really rich and powerful and influential. They oppress people – righteous people – God’s people.

And so, God’s people can struggle with how to deal with the presence and reality of rich, powerful wicked men in this life. Should we fear them? Does their presence indicate that God is somehow deficient in his operating of this world? Should we even abandon our faith and adopt the principles and practices of these wicked men who seem to have so much success in this life? Maybe if we emulate their behavior, we’ll have the same degree of success in this life!

Well, Psalm 49 is going to answer these questions – and will do so in the negative. So, let’s turn our attention to Psalm 49 – where we’re going to be told how to think about wicked powerful men.

Now, Psalm 49 is a reflective or meditative psalm. The psalmist here is going to be leading us in meditating on the following fact – We Shouldn’t Fear Powerful Wicked Men… Because They Will Die Some Day… but God Will Redeem You from Death. (maybe repeat…)

And let me ask – are you aware of some wicked men who are in positions of tremendous power these days? Really, I think it’s hard to find a powerful man who isn’t wicked in our day, unfortunately. Not impossible, but difficult. So, this psalm is aimed at 1) helping us think about these people and 2) to live even though the presence of these people can be so discouraging.

Now, the structure of the psalm – just like every reflective or meditative psalm – is in three parts – an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. And we’ll see each of these in this psalm as we go through studying it.

Psalm 49 Message: Superscription

We’ll start by just reading the superscription and then moving on from there.

<[To/For] the [chief Musician/Choir Director/music director],
A Psalm [for/of/by] the [sons of Korah/Korahites].>

Psalm 49 Message: Introduction/Ramp-Up | 1-4

And now we’re going to see the psalmist preparing us for what he’s about to say in this psalm. And he takes verses 1 through 4 to do this.

In other words, this section that constitutes the psalmist trying to grab our attention takes up about 1/5 or 20% of this psalm of 20 verses. So, I’d say that this is pretty important in the psalmist’s mind – that we get good and ready to hear what he’s about to say.

Psalm 49 Message: Everyone Everywhere Listen Up! | 1

So, first of all, everyone – no matter where they live – must receive this psalm.

KJV Psalm 49:1 [Hear/Listen to] this, all [ye people/peoples/you nations!];
[give ear/Pay attention], all ye inhabitants of the world:

So, this psalm isn’t just for Israel. It’s for all people or even all nations. It’s for all the inhabitants of the world. Its intended audience is universal.

Psalm 49 Message: Everyone Listen Up No Matter Social Standing | 2

Furthermore, everyone – no matter their social standing – must receive this psalm.

2 Both low and high,
rich and poor, together.

And in light of the fact that this psalm is aimed at helping the righteous to think about wicked and rich people – I think it’s really interesting that the rich themselves are called on to pay attention to this psalm. The ones about whom this psalm is written are the very ones who also need to hear this message – that tells everyone in the world that they shouldn’t be feared – because these wicked ones are just going to die – while the righteous on the other hand will be redeemed from death.

So, the psalmist has established that everyone needs to hear the message of this psalm.

Psalm 49 Message: Why Listen? | 3

OK – so why is everyone – no matter their social standing or location – why do they need to listen to this psalm? What are we all to expect from Psalm 49?

3 [My mouth/I] [shall speak/will speak/will declare] [of wisdom/wisdom/a wise saying];
and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding. [I will share my profound thoughts…]

So, what we can expect in this psalm is wisdom. This psalm will make us wise – if we let it.

And we do need wisdom from God – don’t we? We are so ignorant and our minds and hearts are so off. We need God to calibrate our thinking and affections. We need Psalm 49 and the wisdom that God is wanting to impart through it!

Psalm 49 Message: Gained Wisdom will be Imparted | 4

Now, there’s really only one way that a person is able to impart wisdom. And that’s to first gain it. Right? You can’t give something you haven’t first received and possessed yourself.

And that’s what the psalmist says that he’s done already in verse 4.

4 I will [or probably “have”…] [incline mine ear to/learn] a [parable/proverb/song that imparts wisdom]:
I will [open/express/then sing] my [dark (not morally…) saying/riddle/insightful song] [upon the/on the/to the accompaniment of a] harp.

So, this wisdom that the psalmist is about to impart in this psalm is something that he’s already had to personally learn.

And beyond that – he’s going to not just speak this wisdom – but he’s made it into a beautiful musical arrangement – which of course God hasn’t seen fit to let that survive through the transmission process. And that’s OK, of course. But it would have been set to music originally.

So, the psalmist views what he’s about to say as extremely important. So important – in fact – that all the world needs to hear it. So important – that he’s not only learned the lessons of this psalm – but he’s also going to speak it and even take the time to arrange it to music.

Psalm 49 Message: Body | 5-19

So now, the psalmist is going to deliver the matter about which he’s been meditating – the wise sayings that all of us need to know.

And here it is – We Shouldn’t Fear Powerful Wicked Men.

5 Wherefore should I [fear/be afraid] in [the days of evil/days of adversity/times of trouble],
when the [iniquity/sinful deeds] of [my heels/my foes/deceptive men] [shall compass me about/surrounds me/threaten to overwhelm me]?

Now, “my heels” speaks of the enemies of the psalmist.

I think that terminology that the psalmist uses to describe his enemies is related to the statement from another psalm to the effect that “he who shared my bread has lifted up his heel against me.”

We also have Jacob whose name has to do with grabbing the heel. He was one who grabbed the heel of his brother Esau. In that sense, he was his enemy.

And now here the psalmist poetically pictures these enemies of his as one big heel that’s turned against him and is now ready to kick at him sinfully.

Psalm 49 Message: What These Enemies Are Like | 6

And from there the psalmist goes on to describe what these people – these heels – these enemies of his – are like.

And he kind of answers his own rhetorical question from verse 5. Why fear these “heels” – these enemies of his?

Because they’re wealthy and powerful!

6 They that trust in their wealth,
and boast themselves in the [multitude/abundance] of their riches;

So, proud boastful rich people who have made themselves our enemies. We must not fear them.

But why? And how? I mean, people with power and wealth who are against you can elicit a great deal of fear – and not without reason! They sometimes have power in this life to destroy us.

Yes, they do – in this life. But the psalmist wants to give us a more eternal perspective of the situation.

Psalm 49 Message: They Can’t Escape God or Death | 7

And that’s this – that despite the wealth or power of these men – none of them is a match for God. And one day he’s going to recall what he’s given them – that is, their life. And they won’t be able to escape.

7 [None of them/No man] can [by any means/certainly not] [redeem/rescue] his brother,
nor [give/pay] to God [a ransom/an adequate ransom price] for him:

And this idea of redeeming a brother harkens back to the book of Exodus 21. You can turn there if you want or just listen. I’ll read three verses from God’s Law for Israel. It’s about what to do when a person’s animal kills someone, which is a strange idea for us but not so much if you live in a n agrarian society like ancient Israel.

First of all, if an ox kills someone with no previous history of doing that, the owner loses his ox but he’s not held accountable for its actions.

28 If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit.

But the second aspect is that if the owner knew that the ox had tendencies to gore, both the ox and its owner need to die.

29 But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.

But – there then is given an option for this man to redeem his life. He can pay a set ransom price and – as it were – buy back his life.

30 If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him.

And I assume that this ransom price is set by the family of the deceased – but it’s not totally clear.

But anyway – in a very real sense, this owner of the ox can purchase back his life.

But the psalmist in Psalm 49 is saying that there’s a time in every man’s life when God – as it were – sets a ransom on a man’s life – and there’s no possibility of paying it. It’s kind of a poetic way to speak of death.

And so, the psalmist is saying that there’s a time when these rich powerful and evil men die. As rich as they are, they cannot redeem their lives – or the lives of their brothers for that matter.

Now, we’re left hanging a little bit at the end of verse 7. Because we’re told about the impossibility of wicked men redeeming their brother by paying a ransom to God for that brother.

But the question is – what’s this hypothetical price being paid for? And I’ve already answered it because I’ve gone a bit ahead of the psalmist and explained some things that he hasn’t gotten to yet.

Psalm 49 Message: The Ransom for a Life | 8

But, that’s just what the psalmist continues to reveal in verse 8. What is this ransom being paid for?

8 (For the [redemption/ransom price] [of/for] [their/his/a human] [soul/life] is [precious/costly/too high],
and [it ceaseth/he should cease trying] for ever:) [people go to their final destiny…]

So, if we’re talking about a wealthy wicked man – he can buy just about anything. But there’s no price that he can pay to redeem the life of his brother. He can’t keep his brother alive by paying money.

And obviously, there are medical treatments today that can extend a person’s life.

On a personal level, when my appendix ruptured back in 2014 – without the lifesaving surgery I had the privilege of receiving, I would not be here with you right now.

And the psalmist wouldn’t have had access to that kind of medical technology that we have today. And yet, the reality is that surgeries and vitamins and whatever modern medicine can do or will ever be able to do will never do what the psalmist mentions in the next verse.

Psalm 49 Message: You Can’t Avoid Death | 9

All the money and power in the world can never have this effect on the brother of a wicked man…

9 That he should [still live/live on/continue on] [for ever/eternally],
and not [see corruption/undergo decay/experience death].

Psalm 49 Message: Everyone Knows This | 10

And that’s because everyone dies – a fact which surely these rich wicked men would know if they would only pay attention.

10 [For/Surely] he seeth that [even…] wise men die,
[likewise/alike/all] the [fool/stupid] and the [brutish person/senseless/spiritually insensitive people] [perish/pass away],
and leave their wealth to others.

So, everyone knows that everyone dies – wise men, fools, spiritually insensitive individuals – everyone dies. And all that accumulated wealth that these wealth wicked men store up just goes to someone else.

And it doesn’t matter to whom it goes. The fact is – it goes! And it doesn’t go with you. You leave it all here.

Psalm 49 Message: As If They Will Never Die | 11

And yet, even though the inevitability of death is so obvious, the psalmist wants to give us insight into the mindset of the wealthy wicked of this world.

And what we’re told is that these men – despite the obvious inevitability of death – their minds work as though they will never die.

11 Their inward thought is,

that their houses shall continue for ever,
and their dwelling places to all generations;

they call their lands after their own names.

And that’s the proof that they think they’re invincible – they name their lands after themselves as if they permanently own the place!

And yet, the closest these men will get to having permanent real estate is the grave in which their bodies are laid.

Psalm 49 Message: Like Animals, They Die | 12

And ultimately, these men will die just like animals.

12 [Nevertheless/But] man [being in honour/in his pomp/despite his wealth] [abideth not/will not endure/do not last]:
he is like [the beasts/animals] that perish.

And the content of this verse serves as something of a refrain for this psalm – because we see very similar wording at the end of the psalm in verse 20.

Psalm 49 Message: The Followers of the Wicked | 13

Now, despite the obvious flaws in the thinking and lifestyle of the wicked – yet, they have those who follow after them as if their life and philosophy were worthy to be emulated.

13 This [their way/is the way/is the destiny] [is their folly/of those who are foolish/of fools]:
[yet their posterity/and of those after them/and of those] [approve their sayings/who approve their words/who approve their philosophy].

Selah.

So, amazingly, after all the ridicule that the psalmist has been pouring on the way of wicked wealth men – and after we’ve seen how foolish their way truly is – after all of that we’re reminded that – as crazy as it sounds – these men actually have followers – those who approve their sayings.

And that points to one reality that you’ve probably noticed in this life. Sometimes there’s just no changing a person. Provide all the evidence you want that warns them that their rebellious ways will result in nothing good – and they’ll persist in those ways – in fact, they might take up those ways with new gusto and vigor! Hey – they might even win followers to those ways of theirs! And the followers are just as stubborn and set in their ways, which are contrary to God and will end in disaster. No matter what you say.

So, these wicked wealthy men amazingly amass followers to themselves.

Psalm 49 Message: Death is their Shepherd | 14

And because these men have rejected the Good Shepherd their whole lives, they’ll have their own shepherd – that is not at all good. And that shepherd is death.

14 Like sheep they [are laid in the grave/are appointed for Sheol/will travel to Sheol];
death shall [feed on them/be their shepherd];

And it’s not just death that will exercise control over these men. Those whom they’ve oppressed in this life will have the upper hand someday…

and the upright shall [have dominion/rule] over them [in the morning/when the day of vindication dawns];
and their [beauty/form/bodies] shall consume in the grave from their [dwelling/impressive houses].

Now, some would deny that verse 14 is speaking of a resurrection, but I think it’s pretty unavoidable that the psalmist is speaking of the resurrection here.

“In the morning” – in the context of the wicked men dying and their bodies consuming in the grave – after that consuming happens – or in other words “in the morning” – the righteous will rule over these wicked men.

And what a reason to not fear these men. These powerful wicked people in this life. They are being shepherded by death to their grave. They will forever be under the power of those who are – in this short temporary life – under their power. These people are to be pitied rather than feared.

Psalm 49 Message: My Redeemer Lives | 15

And what a contrast the psalmist is going to set up for us in verse 15.

On the one hand, wicked powerful men will die. They can’t redeem their brother and their brother can’t redeem them – despite all of the money that all of them have.

On the other hand, the righteous do have someone who can redeem them. He doesn’t need to pay money – he’s paid with the blood of his son. Verse 15.

15 But God will [redeem/rescue] my [soul/life] from the power of [the grave/Sheol]:
[for/certainly] he shall [receive/take/pull to safety] me.

Selah.

So, the psalmist knows that he’s going to die. I mean, he’s already stated that everyone dies – both wise and fools. But here he’s recognizing that there’s a way to both die and to be redeemed from the power of death.

And that’s what we hear more about in the New Testament. We hear about the redemption that we have in Jesus Christ. Let’s just remind ourselves of some statements to that effect.

We are justified through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Christ has been made for us redemption. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law. He’s redeemed any of us who are under the Law so that we can receive the adoption as sons. This redemption came through Christ’s blood – that’s the payment! Our possessing the Holy Spirit is a sign that we have been truly redeemed. That Holy Spirit seals us to the day in which we’re totally redeemed. Forgiveness of sins is something that accompanies this redemption. Jesus Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed. This redemption is eternal. We’ve been redeemed by Christ’s blood.

So, the wicked will not be redeemed from death. The righteous will be. And for the New Testament Christian – we are already redeemed – redeemed from sin, from death, redeemed forever in Christ.

Psalm 49 Message: Don’t Be Afraid | 16

And so, in light of that reality, …

16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich,
when [the glory of his house/his wealth] [is increased/multiplies];

Psalm 49 Message: Why No Fear? | 17

And we ask ourselves one more time – why should we not be afraid when wicked men increase their wealth and power and influence to the detriment of both righteous people and causes in this world?

17 For when he dieth he shall [carry/take] nothing [away/with him]:
his [glory/wealth] shall not [descend after him/follow him down into the grave].

Really, this kind of man is to be pitied. The thing that consumes his earthly life will be gone in an instant – and will be gone forever. He can’t take it with him.

It’s like the story of the two men standing by a grave as a casket was being placed in the ground. One turned to the other and said, “I’ve heard that this man was pretty wealthy. Do you know how much he left behind?” And the other man turns to him and says, “Everything.”

It doesn’t matter how much a man accumulates in this life. None of it comes with him. All of it is left behind – whether twenty dollars or twenty million dollars.

Psalm 49 Message: Self-Blessings | 18

And yet, in this life – that isn’t the thought of this kind of man – that you can’t take anything with you. No, instead…

18 Though while he lived he [blessed his soul/pronounces this blessing on himself]:

[][and men will/may men] praise thee,
[when/for] thou doest well to thyself.[]

Psalm 49 Message: His End | 19

But despite that kind of vain talk in this life, this is the end of such a man – as we’re reminded one more time…

19 He [shall go to/will join] [the generation of his fathers/his ancestors];
they shall [never/never again] see [light/the light of day].

And isn’t that a description of Hell? No light. God – who is light – is not there. It’s away from his presence. And so, a man who goes there will never see light.

Psalm 49 Message: Conclusion

And so, in light of the fact that everyone dies – fools and wise – but that only those who are truly wise and know the Lord through his son Jesus Christ – that only they are redeemed from death – the next time you’re tempted to worry about wicked men who are increasing their power in this life to your peril – remember this parting word of wisdom from the psalmist…

20 Man [that is in honour/in his pomp/that is wealthy], [and understandeth not/yet without understanding/do not understand],
[is/they are] like [the beasts/animals] that perish.

But on the contrary – you who know the Lord will never perish. You will be redeemed from death. You’re already redeemed from sin. And you’re redeemed forever. You will be with the one who dwells in unapproachable light. Forever.

So, you have nothing to fear. And let’s go to prayer with that thought in mind tonight.

Job 24 Commentary

Job 24 Commentary

Job 24 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 24 Commentary: Each of us has a natural sense of justice. We want good to win and bad to lose.

And this is the case by-and-large whether we’re Christians or not. The definition of what is good and what is bad certainly differs between Christians and the lost. Nevertheless, humankind typically cheers for what they consider good and jeers for what they consider bad.

In fact, this is a large part of storytelling. If you’ve ever thought about classic stories – or stories that you love – you’ll probably recognize that there’s a protagonist – a.k.a. the good guy. And usually there’s also an antagonist – the bad guy – or sometimes the bad guy is not a guy at all. Sometimes it’s nature or something else.

But everyone for the most part seems to have this internal desire to see whatever they conceive of as justice carried out in this life.

And this seems to be the impasse that the biblical character Job and his three friends are experiencing as they consider what’s happening in Job’s life.

So, let’s turn to Job, chapter 24 to see this.

And in Job 24 we’re going to see the result of the long argument that Job and his three friends have been engaging in.

These two groups are looking at justice from different perspectives.

Job and his friends are all equally interested in justice being carried out in this life.

The friends have bought into the idea that God always punishes evil immediately and always rewards good immediately in this life. And so, if a person is being punished – he’s evil.

See the logic? If God punishes evil, then if you’re being punished then you’re… Good? No – evil. That’s what the friends believe.

And Job would have believed that himself. Until out of nowhere he starts receiving what seems to be punishment from God! We saw that in chapters 1 and 2 of this book. All his stuff was taken – loved ones, wealth, and health. All gone.

And Job has had time to think. And Job has had to defend himself against these friends’ accusation against him that he is wicked.

But Job hasn’t changed. He’s still righteous. But what has changed? The way that God is dealing with him. And so, instead of blessing Job for his righteousness – God is now punishing Job for his righteousness. And this makes no sense to anyone – Job or his friends.

But the way that his friends make sense of it in their mind is that Job is secretly wicked. And within this extended argument that they’ve been waging with one another – often times the friends will resort to describing how the typical wicked man fares in this life.

And then the friends extend that to Job and say – look Job, we see how what’s happening to you fits with what we think happens to wicked people!

The wicked man – according to the friends – is cursed in every way. He’s miserable. His kids meet with an untimely end. Their possessions and everything they have is cursed in this life.

But Job is looking at those claims. And in this chapter he says – in effect – but, that’s just not the way that things work in this life.

And so, in Job 24 we’re going to see an entire chapter devoted by Job to pointing to times when he’s seen wicked men going unpunished.

Job 24 Commentary: Wicked Men Go Unpunished

So, Job is going to start this chapter by asserting that very thing – that in numerous ways and in numerous circumstances, wicked men go unpunished in this life!

KJV Job 24:1 Why, [seeing times are not/are times not] [hidden/stored up/appointed] [from/by] the Almighty, [why does the Almighty not punish?…]
[and why…] do they that know him not see his [own…] days?

So, Job is asserting that times are not hidden from God. Nothing is, really. And since that’s the case and God knows everything – why do people who don’t know God see his days? I think that’s speaking of ungodly people living long in this life that God gives them.

So, why do wicked men live long lives in this life that God has given them – when God knows all about their wickedness and nothing is hidden from him? You’d think – and Job is thinking – that if God knows all, then men who don’t know him should not live very long. But they do sometimes!

Job 24 Commentary: Some Who Don’t Get Their Day

And so, Job is going to highlight these people who don’t know God and yet live long lives. And he makes a composite picture of them – not saying that every single wicked man does everything that he mentions. But giving a glimpse across the spectrum of wicked people and giving some characteristics and practices that they tend toward.

Job 24 Commentary: Thieves

And so, Job starts by highlighting that these men steal.

2 [Some/Men] [remove/move] [the landmarks/boundary stones];
they [violently take away/seize] flocks, and [feed thereof/devour them/pasture them].

Now, landmarks or boundary stones in the Old Testament marked where one man’s property ended and another’s began.

We have something similar in our time. For my house we have a pipe driven into the ground that sticks out of the grass a few inches and that’s what people before me have used to remind themselves of where their property ends.

And Job is saying that there are people who take that kind of marker and they move it. And the idea is that they move it in such a way as would disadvantage their neighbor and results in more land for themselves.

And then Job pointed to the wicked men who take people’s flocks and treat that flock like their own.

In both cases, Job is saying that there are people in this life who take what belongs to someone else and make it their own through deception and robbery.

And here’s the key. The friends have said that these people will always be cursed and punished. And yet, Job is saying – No! These people keep the land they steal. They keep the flocks they steal. Sometimes these men go unpunished and they prosper in their wickedness!

Job 24 Commentary: Cruel

Now, you can sort of understand the motivation for stealing. I’m not saying it’s right. It’s not right. But if a person needs food or land or whatever – you can sort of identify with desperation taking over and in the moment just doing something foolish to survive.

But this next characteristic that Job highlights is not like that at all. Did you know that there are some who just take a perverse joy in causing mischief? They’re just plain cruel. Let Job tell you about it.

3 They drive away the [ass/donkey] of the [fatherless/orphan],
they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.

So, note the abuse that these men perpetrate against the least-powerful members of society and their material substance.

A child who had no father or mother might still have a donkey – which could assist him in doing work in order to make some money and support himself.

But Job is alerting us to the fact that there are men in this world who would drive that donkey away – either to that wicked man’s home – or what I think is more likely just out into the dessert for some sort of sick “fun” – deriving joy by depriving the needy of the little that they do have.

Same thing with the widow. Job is identifying that there are widows who have an ox that might help them to plow the field and make some sort of meager living. But then that widow falls on extremely hard times and needs to borrow money.

And this hypothetical wicked man is willing to lend to her. But it’ll cost her that ox – the only thing that she has to plow her field and make any sort of living.

So, the widow is left in a bind. She can give the ox and take the money or keep the ox and not have the money. Either way, she’s left in no better shape than when she began.

And so, Job is recognizing the fact that there are wicked men in this world who will take advantage of and mistreat the neediest people in society – not because of personal need – but just out of cruel pleasure.

Job 24 Commentary: Fearful

And so, Job continues highlighting how wicked men abuse those who are less powerful than they are. And in verse 4 Job says that these men are fearful – fear-inducing.

4 They [turn/push] the needy [out of/aside from/from] the [way/road/pathway]:
the poor of the [earth/land] [hide/are made to hide] themselves [together/altogether].

So, these wicked men intimidate and threaten the needy. And in response, the needy are pictured as cowering in some hidden place together – away from their wicked oppressor whom God never seems to judge.

Job 24 Commentary: The Oppressed

So, then Job moves on from there and seems to highlight the plight of those poor and needy ones who are abused by wicked men.

5 Behold, [as/like] wild [asses/donkeys] in the [desert/widerness], go they forth to their work;
[rising betimes/seeking diligently] for [a prey/food]:

the [wilderness/desert/wasteland] yieldeth food for them
and for their children.

So, the poor and needy are driven to hide themselves in the desert from these wicked men whom God never seems to punish. And there in the wastelands they scrape together something that would resemble food for them and their poor helpless children.

Job 24 Commentary: Wicked Prosper

And yet the wicked are well-fed. Verse 6.

6 They [reap/harvest] [every one his corn/their fodder] in the field:
and they gather [the/in the] [vintage/vineyard] of the wicked.

So, meanwhile – as the needy are forced to forage in the desert for their own food back in verse 5 – at the same time, after they’ve done that then they need to come to work for the wicked and reap their fields.

And they end up taking in a great harvest – even though they don’t get to eat any of it. And, it’s the vintage of the wicked. It should be cursed according to the Retribution Theology of Job’s friends. And yet, Job is pointing out that sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. Sometimes the vintage of the wicked amazingly seems to be blessed – by the very God whom they spurn.

Job 24 Commentary: Wicked Don’t Clothe Needy

And yet again, Job juxtaposes the apparent blessings of the wicked with the apparent curses and miseries of the needy. Here’s what the wicked do to the needy…

7 They [cause the naked to lodge/spend the night naked] [without/because they lack] clothing,
[that they have/and they have] no covering [in/against] the cold.

So, the wicked would have something to clothe the naked with. But they withhold it. Just like they have food for the needy but make the needy go out into the desert to gather whatever they can find.

And in fact, it’s worse than that. The assumption here is that the wicked actively steal the clothing of the needy.

And according to Retribution Theology – and really, even according to our own innate sense of justice – this isn’t right! It’s the wicked who should go poorly clothed and hungry! And yet, that’s not always the way it works. In fact, it’s often not the way things work.

Job’s friends don’t want to recognize that. But Job is making a big issue of this inconvenient truth. Because if Job can establish the fact that sometimes the wicked aren’t punished – then couldn’t it be said that sometimes the righteous aren’t blessed materially? Because that’s what Job is starting to recognize is happening to him – even though his friends aren’t willing to believe that.

Job 24 Commentary: Needy Wet With Rain

And so, Job keeps his focus on the needy who are disadvantaged because of wicked men.

8 They are [wet with/soaked by] [the showers of the mountains/mountain rains],
and [embrace the rock/hug the rock/huddle in the rocks] [for want of a/because they lack] shelter.

So, not only do the needy lack proper clothing like in verse 7. They also lack proper shelter sometimes.

And again – if the needy are innocent of wickedness or are positively righteous then the Retribution Theology way of thinking would say that these people should be blessed materially. They should have nice houses.

And sometimes God does work it out that way. But he doesn’t always.

And to tie this all into what Job is trying to say in these last 20-some chapters – just because Job is suffering doesn’t mean that he’s secretly sinning – like his three friends have constantly been maintaining.

Job 24 Commentary: Stealing Children from Parents

But Job has more to say regarding how sometimes bad things happen to relatively good people and good things happen to really bad people…

9 [They/Others] [pluck/snatch] the [fatherless/orphan/fatherless child] from the breast,
and take a pledge [of/against] the poor.

And in context that pledge might well be the infant that the wicked stole from his poor mother.

And by the way – if you’re really thinking about these various scenes that Job is portraying, you should be angry. This is not right! Powerful people ought not abuse their power at the expense of those who have little to no power.

Part of the image of God in man surely must be a desire to meet the needs of those who have less than you. And so, when Job keeps parading before our mind’s eye all of these cases in which those who are struggling are beaten down even more by those who have the means to lift them up… there should be a sense of anger in us – of holy indignation!

That’s surely how Job feels about it. But I think the friends haven’t thought that deeply about injustice in this life. They’d rather ignore the facts and continue in what they’ve always believed – even when what they believe is neither based on God’s word – nor in line with reality.

But in the mind of everyone who’s pondered or experienced this kind of thing – our minds do start to wonder as to why God seems to not take any action. Why does he let this go on?

And we have answers for this in Scripture that Job and his friends didn’t seem to have access to. Namely – even the message of this book is helpful in this regard: When We Can’t Understand God’s Ways, We Must Trust His Wisdom.

God’s ways of patiently allowing evil to happen are not easy to understand. But even when we can’t understand his ways, we do well to – we must – trust his wisdom.

Job 24 Commentary: Living without Proper Food and Clothing

Well, Job continues to pile up in his mind the injustices in this world – especially as they relate to wicked men seeming to avoid being punished for their wickedness to their fellow-man.

10 They [cause him to go/cause the poor to go about/go about] naked without clothing,
and they take away the sheaf from the hungry; [or, someone goes hungry while carrying sheaves…]

So, the wicked is being pictured either as stealing a sheaf of grain from the hungry – or making the hungry work while carrying his sheaves in the harvest field. In other words, making a hungry man work while not allowing him to eat a little of what he’s working on that could be a benefit to the hungry. Like muzzling the ox while he’s threshing.

Job 24 Commentary: No Drink

And that second option might be the more likely one – making the hungry work while not letting them eat what they’re working on. Because in the next verse, Job seems to mention the needy working for the wicked while they themselves go thirsty. They worked with the wicked man’s sheaves without any food. Now they work for the wicked man making oil and wine – liquids – without getting to drink anything.

11 [Which/They] [make/produce/press out] oil [within/between] [their walls/the rows of olive trees],
and tread their winepresses, [and suffer thirst/but thirst/while they are thirsty].

So, the poor man presses the olives and grapes of his wicked masters. But the ones doing the work go without any of the benefit of the work they’re producing. They’re like slave labor – with their masters failing to recognize that these poor and needy men are men – who are made in God’s image and worthy of compassion and care.

Job 24 Commentary: Bleak Life

Well then, Job goes on in verse 12 to paint a really bleak picture of life on this earth where wicked men prosper. And then Job adds this note: “God doesn’t do anything to stop it!”

12 [Men/Dying men] groan [from out of/from] the city,
and the soul of the wounded crieth out [for help…]:

yet God [layeth not folly to them/does not pay attention to folly/charges no one with wrongdoing].

And this is the thrust of Job’s frustration that he’s pouring out in this chapter. The wicked even go so far as to kill people. And it’s as if the groans of their victims could be heard from all around the city as these men die at the hand of wicked people.

And according to the way that Job and his friends have been thinking – this shouldn’t happen. Or if it does happen, God should immediately stop it. Because – after all – God punishes evil. He rewards good. He delivers the innocent.

And the reality is that God does those things often. But not always.

Sometimes he does let wicked men prosper. Sometimes he does let the innocent and needy be abused and taken advantage of.

And that makes no sense to us. Because even as we’ve heard in our church in a recent message – God is good and God is powerful. And if that’s the case, then we would assume that God would basically make earth like heaven – no sin, no wickedness, no injustice. In fact, as we’ve heard on Wednesday nights – that’s how Jesus commands us to pray – that earth would be like heaven in terms of God’s will being done in both.

But that’s where Pastor Kindstedt’s third point comes in from a few Sunday evenings ago. God is also wise. Not just good and powerful – but also wise. He knows what he’s doing. And he knows what to allow and when. And it won’t always make sense to us. But again we’re reminded that When We Can’t Understand God’s Ways, We Must Trust God’s Wisdom.

Job is almost ready to do that. His friends are nowhere near being able to accept that. They have forced God’s ways make sense to them. And in the process, they’re condemning an innocent man. They’re accusing Job of sinning – and sinning to such an extent that God has brought this suffering in his life as a form of punishment.

But that’s why Job is pointing out the fact that wicked men do sometimes get away with murder – literally. And innocent men suffer wrongfully. It happens! – Job is telling these men.

Job 24 Commentary: More of a View of Wickedness

Then, Job continues to speak of wicked men.

13 [They are of/Others have been with/There are] those that rebel against the light;
they know not the ways thereof, [and don’t want to …]
nor [abide/stay] in the paths thereof.

And from there, Job adds to his composite portrait of wicked people.

Job 24 Commentary: Murderers

We have murderers in verse 14.

14 The murderer rising [with the light/at dawn/before daybreak]
killeth the poor and needy,
and in the night is as a thief.

Job 24 Commentary: Adulterers

Then, adulterers are in view in verse 15.

15 The eye also of the adulterer [waiteth/watches] for the twilight,
saying, No eye [shall/will/can] see me:
and [disguiseth/covers with a mask] his face.

Job 24 Commentary: Adulterers or Thieves

Then in verses 16 and 17 Job is speaking either of adulterers from verse 15 – or he’s starting a new category of wicked people by speaking once more of thieves.

16 In the dark [they/robbers] [dig through/dig into/breaks into] houses,
which they [had marked for themselves/shut themselves in] in the daytime:
they know not the light.

17 For the morning is to them [even/the same] as [the shadow of death/thick darkness/deep darkness]:
[if one know them, they are in/he knows/they are friends with] the terrors of [the shadow of death/thick darkness].

Job 24 Commentary: The Friends are Overly-Simple

And in light of all of this – of wicked men prospering – of wicked men abusing others with no justice brought to them – Job seems to take aim at the overly-simple representation of reality that his friends have constructed in their minds.

18 [You say…] He is [swift/insignificant/foam] [as/on] the waters;
their portion is cursed [in the earth/of land]:
[he beholdeth not/they do not turn toward/so that no one goes] the way of [the/their] vineyards.

So, the friends have claimed that wicked people are insignificant. They’re like water. Further, what they have in this life is cursed. And as an example of that cursing – these evil people don’t even get to see their vineyards.

But Job was just telling them of times where the wicked have the innocent and needy work in those vineyards! And God doesn’t seem to do anything about it in order to make the situation like what the friends say it should be!

Either that, or Job is saying here that the needy are insignificant in this life and that their portion – rather than the portion of the wicked – is cursed and that the needy don’t get to be benefited from the produce of vineyards.

I lean toward the first interpretation. That Job is attacking the friends’ overly-simple way of thinking of the wicked in this life.

Job 24 Commentary: More False Claims

And here’s another thing the friends claim.

19 Drought and heat [consume/carry away] the snow waters:
so doth the grave those which have sinned.

20 [The womb/A mother] shall forget him;
the worm shall [feed sweetly/feast] on him;

he shall be no more remembered; [because of the worm’s work…]
and wickedness shall be broken as a tree.

So, the friends claim that wicked men simply die. They are forgotten by everyone and their bodies decay. God destroys them.

And while that is usually ultimately true, Job has just furnished numerous examples where that doesn’t happen right away.

Job 24 Commentary: No Consequences

No – in fact, Job says – the wicked man abuses others in this life with no consequence. And this is now Job speaking what he personally believes – not what he’s saying the friends think.

21 He [evil entreateth/wrongs/preys on] the barren that beareth not:
and doeth not good to the widow.

So, Job paints the picture of bad people preying on the barren and the widow – with no repercussion.

Job 24 Commentary: The Wicked Destroy the Mighty

And it’s not just the weak and disadvantaged that evil men overcome. They even destroy the mighty!

22 [He/God] [draweth/drags off] [also/but] the [mighty/valiant] [with/by] his power:
[he/God] riseth up, and no man is sure of life.

Now, one translation I often consult makes these statements to apply to God – as if this is Job still quoting his three friends and the wrong things they’ve asserted. But I don’t think that’s necessary. In the flow, it seems that Job is still speaking of wicked men – not of God.

Job 24 Commentary: How God Deals with the Wicked

And then I think Job grapples with the idea that God seems to do two actions at the same time that seem to not operate in harmony – 1) God grants the wicked safety and 2) He’s watching everything they do.

23 Though it be given [him/the wicked] [by God…] to be in safety, whereon [he/the wicked] resteth;
[yet/but] [his/God’s] eyes are upon [their/the wicked’s] ways.

Job 24 Commentary: The Wicked Do Eventually Die

And in the end though, it seems like Job admits that the wicked do eventually die.

24 They are exalted for a little while,
but are gone and brought low;

they are [taken out of the way/gathered up/gathered in] as all other,
and cut off as the tops of the [ears of corn/heads of grain].

So, perhaps what we see here in this verse is Job calibrating his thoughts.

For much of this chapter we’ve seen him go to one extreme and paint a picture of the wicked always winning and prospering. And in fact, as I’ve taught this chapter, I’ve consciously added words to qualify what Job is saying – because at face value, his bare words are giving the impression that the wicked never lose or suffer or even die.

And so, I think what Job is doing here in verse 24 that we just read is adjusting his message a bit. He’s recognizing that the wicked do eventually die – just like everyone else. And really, their exaltation is just for a little while in the scheme of things.

And yet, what Job has said in this chapter he still does really believe – that wicked men don’t always suffer and face curses from God in this life. That there are long stretches of time during which it will look like the wicked are doing very well and that God is doing absolutely nothing about it.

Job 24 Commentary: A Challenge Raised

And so, Job ends his speech by throwing down the gauntlet and raising a challenge to these thoughtless friends of his.

25 And if it be not so now, who will [make/prove] me a liar,
and make my speech [nothing worth/worthless]?

And, Job shouldn’t have offered that challenge. Because one last time, one of his friends is going to answer that challenge and try to prove Job wrong. We’ll see that next time.

Dan Forrest Jubilate Deo

I love Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo. And so, even though this isn’t what I usually publish on this site, I thought I’d make this page into a collection of all live performances of Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo. Enjoy!

Dan Forrest Jubilate Deo by the River Tree Singers (USA – Greenville, SC)

Dan Forrest Jubilate Deo by the Mullingar Choral Society (Ireland)

Dan Forrest Jubilate Deo by the Festival Singers of Florida (USA)

Dan Forrest Jubilate Deo by the Voices of the Commonwealth (USA – Kentucky)

Dan Forrest Jubilate Deo by the Christ Church Sugarland

Dan Forrest Jubilate Deo Rehearsal Tracks (Not Live, of Course)

Psalm 48 Commentary

Psalm 48 Commentary

Psalm 48 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Psalms

 
 
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Psalm 48 Commentary: Let’s turn our attention to Psalm 48.

Psalm 48 is a praise psalm. And the praise of the psalmist is directed toward two entities.

First, the psalmist praises a particular city – Mount Zion – Jerusalem.

But ultimately the psalmist has his praises set on the Lord.

But these two entities – the Lord and Jerusalem – are closely connected in this psalm. And we’re going to discover that the connection comes from the fact that the Lord protects this city – Jerusalem – and the people in it – his people.

And interestingly enough – I think we once more see some subtle foretelling of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ in this psalm – as we have seen in the last few we’ve studied.

So, let’s study Psalm 48.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Superscription

We’ll start with the superscription.

KJV Psalm 48:1 <A Song and Psalm for the sons of Korah.>

And there’s not a whole lot to say about that portion of the psalm, so we’ll proceed.

Psalm 48 Commentary: The Lord’s Praiseworthiness

Now, to begin the main section of this psalm, the psalmist declares the great praiseworthiness of the Lord – and he ties the Lord’s praiseworthiness to a specific location – Jerusalem. Verse 1.

Great is the LORD,
and [greatly/certainly worthy] to be praised

And where in particular is the Lord worthy to be praised?…

in the city of our God,
[in the mountain of his holiness/his holy mountain/his holy hill].

So, the Lord is to be praised in this special location. Out of all the locations on the earth, the Lord had chosen to set his name in Israel. And in particular, he’s chosen the capital city of that land – Jerusalem – as a place which holds special significance for him.

Jerusalem is the place where the Temple was constructed – has been constructed several times at this point. It’s the place where the Lord himself – Jesus Christ – served and was crucified for our sin.

It’s the place where Jesus will return – on the Mount of Olives right across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount.

It’s where Jesus Christ will reign on the throne of his father David for one thousand years.

Jerusalem is a special place in God’s program and plan for the world. It has been. It is now. And it will be in the future.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Mount Zion’s Praiseworthiness

And in light of these wonderful facts about Jerusalem, the psalmist transitions from praising the Lord in Jerusalem to praising Jerusalem itself. Verse 2.

2 [Beautiful for situation/Beautiful in elevation/It is lofty and pleasing to look at],
[the joy of/a source of joy to] the whole earth,

is mount Zion, [on the sides of the north/in the far north/resembles the peaks of Zaphon]
the city of the great King.

So, the psalmist praises the appearance of Jerusalem. In particular, he focuses on its height – its elevation.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Elevation

And it is an elevated area. That’s why throughout the Bible, when it speaks of people going to Jerusalem it speaks of the direction traveled as being “up.” People go “up” to Jerusalem. And when they leave Jerusalem, they go “down.”

Jerusalem is lofty. Its situation is beautiful in that sense.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Joy of the Whole Earth

But what do you make of that next statement we read in verse 2? Jerusalem is the joy of the whole earth? … Is it?

Well, I would be hard-pressed to see how Jerusalem could be the joy of the whole earth in the time of this psalm’s writing – back in the Old Testament timeframe. At best, Jerusalem would be a joy to Israel.

And today even, Jerusalem really can’t be said to be the joy of the whole earth. Yes, Jews, Christians, and Muslims revere the place. But what about the Buddhists? What about the Hindus? What about the so-called atheists and agnostics? What about all the world leaders who find Jerusalem to be a powder keg to try to control? For all these groups and more, right now Jerusalem is not a source of joy.

So, perhaps at no time could Jerusalem literally be referred to as the joy of the whole earth…

But it will be some day. There’s a day coming when the Lord himself will return to earth – destroy his enemies – and set up his reign in Jerusalem for a thousand years. At that time, all the nations of the earth will go up to Jerusalem and hear God’s word straight from God-with-us (“Immanuel”) himself!

At that point – in the Millennial reign of Christ – Jerusalem – the city of the Great King, Jesus Christ – will be the joy of the whole earth.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Sides of the North

Now, one last thing needs to be covered in this verse. The psalmist says – according to the KJV – that Mount Zion is on the sides of the north. And we wonder – what does that mean?

Because I can tell you that Jerusalem – as you look at it from the perspective of the geography of Israel – ancient or modern – it’s really not in the north. It’s more central than anything else. And actually, it even tends to be a bit south of the center of the land.

So, how is Jerusalem in the “sides of the north?”

Psalm 48 Commentary: Sides

Well, let me point out that the Hebrew word translated as “sides” is used in 2 Kings 19 to speak of the most distant portion of a mountain. So, let’s translate “sides” in Psalm 48 as “most distant part of…”

Then, it’s the most distant part of what?

Well, the KJV says that it’s the most distant part of “the north.”

What’s that?

Psalm 48 Commentary: North

Well, that word literally means “north.” No surprise there.

But the surprise is that there was a mountain at the time of the writing of this psalm. And this mountain was in modern day Turkey, bordering on Syria. And it was called Mount Zaphon. And zaphon in Hebrew is often translated as “north.” Today this mountain is known by another name – Jebel Aqra or Mount Casius.

Anyway, the significance of this mountain for ancient people in the region of Canaan was that people believed that the Canaanite deity Ba’al and his sister ‘Anat lived on the peak of that mountain. It was a sort of smaller version of Mount Olympus – where the make-believe deities were supposed to have lived. That’s Mount Zaphon – the center of worship for the so-called “Lord” – Ba’al.

But Psalm 48 comes along and declares that that place doesn’t hold a candle to Mount Zion. Mount Zion is where the true LORD has chosen to reside. Mount Zion is truly the city of the great King – greater than Ba’al and ‘Anat. Greater than anything. …

I’d say that makes him worthy of praise, indeed!

Psalm 48 Commentary: The Connection Between the Lord and Mount Zion

And so, we’ve heard that both the Lord and Mount Zion are praiseworthy. But what is the connection between the two?

That’s what the psalmist begins to unfold in verse 3. Here’s the shared connection between the Lord and Mount Zion…

3 God [is known/has made himself known as/reveals himself as] in her [palaces/fortresses]
for a [refuge/stronghold/its defender].

So, what’s the connection between the Lord and Mount Zion? It’s this – that the Lord protects Mount Zion. He’s the refuge or stronghold of this special place on earth.

He was in the Old Testament – when this psalm was penned. And he will be when he comes to it in the person of Jesus Christ.

And of course, it should go without saying – but we need to remind ourselves that God is not concerned about grass and trees and stones. He’s not concerned solely for the geographic area of Jerusalem.

Rather, he’s concerned about Jerusalem for the sake of its inhabitants – in the Old Testament, the Jews. In the future – his people, both Jew and Gentile who are one in Christ.

God is not enamored with land for the sake of mere land. He’s concerned about Jerusalem for the sake of his people.

Psalm 48 Commentary: The Battle

And for this Old Testament psalmist, the Lord demonstrated his concern for his people in a very tangible way. The psalmist apparently had a recent military victory in his mind – which he describes for us in verses 4 through 7.

And as we read this description of past victory – we can also imagine the ultimate victory that the King of the Jews – Jesus Christ – will yet have before he sets up his Millennial reign from this hallowed city.

So, let’s allow the psalmist to set the battle in our minds.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Kings Set to Attack

It begins in verse 4 with the threatening menace of foreign kings who are ready to attack and destroy God’s holy city.

4 For, lo, the kings were assembled,
they [passed by/advance] together.

So, in our mind’s eye – here they come! They’re assembling! They’re advancing!

The kings are coming. And Jerusalem and God’s people need defense.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Defense!

And that’s just what they get starting in verse 5.

5 [They saw it/As soon as they see],
[and so they marveled/then they were amazed/they are shocked];

they [were/are] [troubled/terrified],
[and hasted away/they fled in alarm/they quickly retreat].

So, these assembled and advancing kings see something. What? – we don’t know, yet. So, there’s some suspense as we ask ourselves – what did these terrifying kings see that terrified them so much?

And the psalmist doesn’t answer that yet. Instead, he heaps up the suspense and the fear and terror that these kings are experiencing and expressing in verse 6.

6 [Fear/Panic] [took hold upon/seized] them there, [look at them shake uncontrollably…]
[and pain/anguish], as of a woman in [travail/childbirth].

So, these mighty kings are now reduced to the emotional state of a woman in the midst of delivering a baby – which is to say that they are not at all as frightening as they first appeared to be.

And it’s reported as if it’s a play-by-play. It should make us feel that we’re right there experiencing it as it’s being described.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Reason for Anguish

Now, we’re still left wondering what caused these kings to become so emotionally distressed that they would flee from their original plan to attack Jerusalem.

And I personally think that the answer to that question is found in verse 7.

7 Thou [breakest/shatter] [the ships of Tarshish/large ships]
with an east wind.

Psalm 48 Commentary: East Wind

So, let’s talk about this east wind first.

Picture Israel. To the west you have the Mediterranean Sea. To the right you have miles and miles of sandy dry desert.

So, the wind usually comes from the west – from the sea. And because of that, it delivers cool and moist air and sometimes even rain. Every once in a while, snow.

But when the wind blows from the east, it’s dry and hot. It scorches and kills. In fact, Pharaoh’s dream that Joseph interpreted included an east wind that killed his ears of corn.

So, the psalmist is praising God for the fact that this kind of scorching killing menacing wind has come or will come and that it results in the destruction of these ships.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Ships of Tarshish

They’re ships of Tarshish. Or ships that would be large enough to travel from Israel across the sea to ancient Tarshish or probably modern-day Spain.

And the psalmist praises God because he says that these ships have been destroyed by an east wind.

So, let’s think about this.

First of all, we recognize that these ships belong to these kings that are so terrified. And I’m asserting that these kings are terrified because they saw this happen – they saw this east wind come down from the hills of Judea – on which Jerusalem lies – and they saw it smash their boats to bits.

Second, though, I need to confess that I know nothing of a situation like this happening in the Old Testament. If this scenario played out in history – we apparently don’t have it recorded for us.

But third, there is going to be a situation preceding the Millennium in which there will be ships in the vicinity of Israel. And the owner of these ships will be destroyed. And we could probably assume that his ships meet their end too – possibly by an east wind.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Daniel 11

And so, the portion of Scripture I’m referring to is in the 11th chapter of the book of Daniel.

And we’re going to skim through a fairly lengthy section of this chapter and chapter 12 to get an idea of what the author of Psalm 48 might be looking forward to.

KJV Daniel 11:36 ¶ And the king [who’s going to be referred to as the king of the north later…] shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation [of God…] be accomplished: for that [that/what] is determined shall be done.

By the way, of whom is this speaking? This is the Antichrist as we know him from the New Testament.

 37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.

39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.

40 ¶ And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him [this king of the North or the Antichrist…] : and the king of the north [Antichrist…] shall come against him [king of the south…] like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships [same word as we find in Psalm 48 – and we can imagine that these will be large ships or ships of Tarshish – ships that would be able to travel to Tarshish from Israel…] ; and he [probably Antichrist…] shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.

41 He [Antichrist, again…] shall enter also into the glorious land [which would include Mount Zion like we’ve been hearing about in Psalm 48…], and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his [Antichrist’s…] hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.

42 He [A.C.…] shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.

43 But he [A.C….] shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his [A.C.’s…] steps.

44 But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him [A. C.…]: therefore he [A. C.…] shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.

45 And he [A. C.…] shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain [Mount Zion…]; yet he [A. C.…] shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

KJV Daniel 12:1 ¶ And at that time shall Michael [who’s an angel…] stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy [Daniel’s…] people: and there shall be a time of trouble [the Great Tribulation…], such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

And we’ll stop there.

But this is a part of Scripture that comes as close as any to describing a time when large ships will be in the vicinity of Mount Zion. A time when Mount Zion is threatened by an army and a terrifying leader – a king even. A time when at least the leader who commanded these large ships will be destroyed. A time that immediately precedes the second coming of Jesus Christ to rule in Mount Zion.

So – to return to Psalm 48 – if the large ships are destroyed and that causes the adversarial kings to tremble – then either this is speaking of a time past that has not been recorded for us in the Old Testament. Or it’s speaking of this time to come in Daniel 11. Or – I suppose – both.

But either way, God protects his people. He has in the past. He will in the future. And in the case of this battle that’s been described – his protection is praiseworthy and glorious!

Psalm 48 Commentary: To See and to Hear

And now, it’s one thing to hear that. To hear of God’s glorious protection of his people. But it’s another thing altogether to actually see that in action. And that’s what the psalmist records the people saying in verse 8.

8 As we have heard [about God’s mighty deeds…],
so have we seen [those deeds…]

in the city of the LORD [of hosts/of heaven’s armies],
in the city of our God:

God [will establish/makes secure] it [for ever/permanently].

Selah.

And so, it’s easy to see the ancient Israelites uttering these words after a great military victory in Old Testament times.

And yet, it’s just as easy to see this as a prophecy of what God’s people at the end of the Great Tribulation will be shouting for joy as they welcome their king and ours – Jesus Christ.

And in fact, the wording here makes it more likely in my mind that this is a foretelling of what’s to come. These people are going to say that God establishes Jerusalem “for ever.” He hasn’t done that yet. But he is going to. But there’s going to need to be an Antichrist coming on the scene and being destroyed and Christ coming once more in order for this all to be a reality.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Thinking of God in the Temple

Then – based on what the psalmist has overviewed of God’s protecting his people – he reflects on the fact that in the Temple, people are thinking of this deliverance. Verse 9.

9 We [have thought of/have thought on/reflect on] thy [lovingkindness/loyal love], O God,
[in the midst of/within] thy temple.

And listen – without God’s protection, the Temple doesn’t exist. In fact, God ended up ultimately taking the Temple away from his people for their disobedience – twice!

And there’s going to be another Temple. And it too will be destroyed after the Millennium. But then God himself will be our Temple. And we’ll certainly be thinking of his loyal love – his lovingkindness – his chesed.

And even now – though this building we’re in isn’t a Temple – we are! We are temples as individuals. We’re temples all together as a body of believers. And as we sit as Temples in the midst of a Temple – the Church – I trust that we’re considering God’s love “that will not let you go.” It’s why you’re here tonight. It’s why you’re not on the broad path that leads to destruction. It’s because God has protected you as one of his people.

Think of that tonight even as we go to prayer. That God’s love will not let you go. Ever. Even as he’s literally blowing apart the ships of Tarshish – he’s not going to let anything separate you from his love which is in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Unto the Ends of the Earth

And so, the Lord is utterly praiseworthy. His people think so, for sure. But do you know that there will be a time when God’s praiseworthiness is known “unto the ends of the earth?” Verse 10 insists that this will be the case.

10 [According to/As is/is worthy of] thy [name/reputation], O God,
so is [thy/that you receive] praise

[unto/as far away as] the ends of the earth:
[thy right hand is full of/you execute] [righteousness/justice].

So, God is worthy of the praise he receives from his people. And his reputation of protecting his people ensures that he will receive that praise.

And that protection is little known by those outside of God’s people right now. But a time is coming when that praise and reputation will be known “unto the ends of the earth.” Everywhere!

That will be the case when Christ reigns in Mount Zion.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Mount Zion is Happy

And so, in light of the protection it receives, Mount Zion rejoices! Verse 11.

11 [Let mount Zion/Mount Zion] [rejoice/rejoices],
[let the daughters/the towns] of Judah [be glad/are happy],

because of [thy judgments/your acts of judgment].

So, in the Old Testament, as God protected the cities of Judah and especially Mount Zion – the people rejoiced. And as he protected his people, he judged those who would destroy them.

Psalm 48 Commentary: God’s People Unharmed

And you know – despite the epic battle that is in view in this psalm, Mount Zion’s man-made defenses are not really what protected it. I think that’s the thrust of verses 12-13.

12 Walk [about/around] Zion,
and go [round about/around] her: [encircle it!…]
[tell/count] the towers thereof[./!]

13 [Mark ye well/Consider] her [bulwarks/ramparts/defenses],
[consider/go through/walk through] her [palaces/fortresses];
[that/so that] ye may tell it to the [generation following/next generation].

And what are the people to tell the next generation?

They’re supposed to look at all the defenses in the city. They’re supposed to remember the battle that was about to rage against them. And they’re supposed to notice that the defenses of the city weren’t really what protected them. In a way they weren’t even needed.

Man-made defenses are not what saved Israel or what will save God’s people in the Tribulation.

No, it’s God himself. His people are supposed to take note of the fact that when he protects us, it really is ultimately him – and not any sort of man-made means of defense.

And God’s people in this psalm are being invited to look thoroughly through the city and see that whether they had the walls and defenses or not – God truly protects his people.

And when he does protect his people, we need to take note of that and pass that story on to the next generation.

Psalm 48 Commentary: God Protects and Guides

And why again do God’s people come out unscathed? It’s because of our protecting, guiding God. Verse 14.

14 For this God is our God [who is our defender…] for ever and ever:
he will be our guide even unto death.

And we have this God who protects and guides his people.

And for us – yes – as Luther says – the body they may kill. But as another song goes, the flame shall not hurt thee. And as Scripture puts it – we will not see death. Our bodies will die someday – but if we know God’s Son Jesus Christ we will not even see what it’s like to be separated from God – which is the essence of death.

So, as we pray, let’s look forward to our glorious future with this God who protects his people. And let’s praise this God for his protection in our lives even now and – as the last three words of this psalm proclaim – “even unto death.”

Ecclesiastes 5 Message

Ecclesiastes 5 Message: Someone just asked what the message of Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 was. So, below is my response.

I have already discussed this section in our Ecclesiastes 5 summary article. But this will go into greater depth on the first seven verses of chapter five of the book of Ecclesiates.

Don’t Talk Too Much

In verses 1 and 2, Qohelet tells us to use few words. And the words we do use need to be well thought-out and few.

In other words, don’t talk a lot. Don’t talk with no thought put into what you’re going to say.

Think about what you’re going to say it. Say it. And then stoop saying it.

Dreams and Talking

Then verse 3 is a proverb about dreams.

People have dreams often because of their many cares and a fool’s voice comes through the multitude of words.

In other words, the fool is not paying attention to verses 1 and 2 above! He’s speaking a lot – with a multitude of words.

Making Promises to God

Then verses 4-6 deal with our vows or promises made to God.

If we’re going to make these vows, they should be thoughtfully made. And once made, they must be kept.

Qohelet tells us to be careful what we promise God. And once we make the promise we need to follow-through on it.

Dreams and Vanity

Then verse 7 is a second proverb about dreams.

Natural dreams can be very vain and meaningless. And then Qohelet goes back to speak of an abundance of talking and he says that both natural dreams and words – when they’re in excess they are worthless.

But then we’re directed to the main point – fear God. And drawing from verses 4-6 we know that part of that fear is keeping promises made to him and not making promises that we can’t or don’t intend to keep.

Helpful?

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