Psalm 52 Commentary

Psalm 52 Commentary

Psalm 52 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Psalms

 
 
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Psalm 52 Commentary: Words have consequences. As James, the brother of our Lord, says the tongue is like a fire and can do all sorts of damage.

And in the life of the author of Psalm 52, he’s experienced one particular time in which the words of another person caused a lot of damage.

So, let’s turn our attention to Psalm 52.

Psalm 52 Commentary Superscription

The author of Psalm 52 reveals both who he is and the setting for which he wrote this psalm – and he does this in the superscription – the writing above the psalm itself.

<[To/For] the [chief Musician/choir director/music director],
[Maschil, A Psalm/A well-written song] [of/by] David,
[it was written…] when Doeg the Edomite [came/went] and [told/informed] Saul, and said unto him, [] David [is come to/has arrived at] the [house/home] of Ahimelech. []>

Now, most of us probably need a refresher on the setting that David just mentioned. He’s referring to what happened in 1 Samuel, chapters 21 and 22.

There, Saul is king and has become murderous in his intentions toward David. David has learned of this and is fleeing from his king.

Under those circumstances, David flees to a city called Nob where some priests lived. They had no idea that Saul hated David – and David himself wasn’t very truthful and forthright with them – and so they helped David. The priests give David and his men food and Goliath’s sword and they pray to God for them.

But the problem is – as we’re told in 1 Samuel 21 – that one of Saul’s servants was there quietly witnessing all of this. And his name was Doeg and he was originally from the nation of Edom – which descended from Esau – and so he’s known in Scripture as “Doeg the Edomite” – he’s the one referenced in the superscription of Psalm 52.

Well, after David visited the priests at Nob, he then went to Philistia and then to Moab and finally he returned to Judah.

But after learning of these various journeys of David, the author then cuts to a scene where Saul is accusing all of his servants of supporting David. In that context, Doeg the Edomite steps forward and gives Saul all the details of Ahimelech the priest helping David.

This prompts Saul to go talk to Ahimelech – who admits that he helped David but he also declares that he knew nothing regarding how Saul was David’s enemy.

But that doesn’t matter to Saul – he demands the murder of the priests of the LORD – not just Ahimelech – but all of them who are there.

And no Israelite is willing to do this awful deed. Saul wouldn’t do it himself and he couldn’t find any other native-born Israelite to do it either.

So, Saul turns to the shameless and godless Doeg – who is very zealous to kill the Lord’s priests – 85 of them in one day.

And he didn’t stop there. Doeg went into the rest of the city of Nob and killed men, women, and children – and animals even. Innocent lives – holy and pious lives – were taken at the hands of this godless foreigner.

And if that story doesn’t make you angry – you’re maybe not paying attention – because it made David very angry.

And in this psalm, David expresses his anger toward the godless foreigner Doeg. David also expresses his confidence in God’s inevitable dealing with Doeg. And he’ll end all of this with praise to the Lord.

Psalm 52 Commentary 1 Denouncing Doeg

So, let’s move on to verse 1 where David challenges Doeg and then expresses his confidence in God.

KJV Psalm 52:1 Why [boastest thou thyself/do you boast] [in/about] [your plans which are…] [mischief/evil], O [mighty/powerful] man?
the [goodness/loving-kindness/loyal love] of God [endureth/protects me] [continually/all day long].

And isn’t this what Doeg did? He boasted about his mischief – his evil plans. He boasted to Saul of his knowledge of the situation and he used Saul’s insane hatred for David to murder innocent and godly lives.

And Doeg was indeed mighty – as David describes him here. He was over all of Saul’s servants – at least over the shepherds – which would have been a position of some power. And then of course, his stooping to the level of King Saul and murdering these priests would have earned him even more favor and power from the king.

And after Doeg murdered all of those priests, David was surely aware that he was this man’s next target.

But David questions Doeg – whether or not Doeg ever heard these words. David’s question to this godless foreigner is “why?” “Why do you boast of your evil plans?

And David’s next statement gives the reason for David’s question. David wants to remind himself – and make Doeg and everyone else aware – that God’s loyal love is continuous. It never ends.

And for David, he was confident that that loyal love was going to protect him – even against the likes of this wicked man Doeg.

Now, God’s goodness or his lovingkindess or his loyal covenant love – would have been especially precious to David because God had anointed him king over Israel. But it hadn’t happened yet. And so, God’s loyal love would ensure that David eventually became king. So, he had no fear of Doeg.

And for us who have God’s promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ – we experience realities that make us fear. We fear for our families – for our church – for our ministries that we’re involved in – for our own souls in this fallen world that’s full of temptation. And we need to meet those fears with God’s promises – and the loyal love that he has for us that makes those promises so believable and trustworthy.

So, by God’s grace, let’s meet the fearful realities of this life with a constant reminder to ourselves of God’s covenant love to us – like David did.

Psalm 52 Commentary 2 Denouncing Doeg

But the fact that David was trusting in God’s loyal love doesn’t stop him from speaking to Doeg as if the two of them were standing face-to-face. And so, we see David revealing Doeg’s ungodliness – focusing especially on his speech.

2 Thy tongue [deviseth/devises/carries out] [mischiefs/destruction/your destructive plans];
[like/it is as effective as] a sharp razor, [working deceitfully/O worker of deceit/O deceiver].

And this is the member of Doeg’s body that did the most initial damage and led to all other damage – his tongue.

He spoke to Saul about the priests and that was the first step that led him down a path of selective genocide – murdering a whole town of priests and their families.

Doeg’s tongue was like a sharp razor that cuts and wounds and kills. He destroys and he does so deceitfully.

Now, why does David say that Doeg was deceitful?

Doeg saw the entire context of that conversation between David and Ahimelech. Doeg was aware that Ahimelech knew nothing of Saul’s soured relationship with David. Doeg could have said something about that to Saul. But he didn’t. He painted Ahimelech as if he were intentionally committing mutinee against his king. As if Ahimelech were the reason that David kept escaping Saul’s murderous plans for him.

Psalm 52 Commentary 3 Denouncing Doeg

And it really is this aspect of Doeg more than anything else that David continually focuses on in this psalm. David keeps considering Doeg’s lying speech.

3 Thou lovest evil more than good;
[and lying/falsehood/lies] [rather/more] than [to speak/speaking] [righteousness/what is right/the truth].

Selah.

So, Doeg is all for lying and evil rather than good and speaking was is right and true.

Psalm 52 Commentary 4 Denouncing Doeg

And David continues speaking of Doeg’s destructive and dishonest words.

4 Thou lovest [to use…] all [devouring words/words that devour/the words that destroy],
[O thou/and the] deceitful tongue.

So, David declares that either Doeg is himself a deceitful tongue or that he loves deceitful tongues. Either way, Doeg is a liar and he loves lies.

Psalm 52 Commentary 5 God will repay Doeg

And because of this, David is convinced that God will repay Doeg for his destructive lies.

5 God shall [likewise destroy/break down/make a heap of ruins of] thee [for ever/permanent],
he shall [take/snatch/scoop] thee [away/up], and [pluck/tear/remove] thee [out of thy dwelling place/away from your tent/from your home],
and [root/uproot] thee [out of/from] the land of the living.

Selah.

So, notice the payback – the poetic justice. Doeg has destroyed others. And so, God will destroy him.

Doeg unlawfully took the lives of those holy men in Nob. And so, David is convinced that God will take Doeg’s life in due time.

Psalm 52 Commentary 6 Reaction of the righteous

And when God does this, David declares that the righteous will rejoice.

6 The [righteous/godly] also shall see [this…], and [fear/will be filled with awe],
and shall [laugh at/mock] [him/the evildoer]:

So, the righteous have reactions concerning two individuals.

First, the righteous will react to God. They will see his destruction of the lying Doeg and they will be filled with awe.

Second, the righteous will react to Doeg’s calamity and they will mock and laugh at him.

Psalm 52 Commentary 7 The Taunt of the Godly

And here’s what they’ll say when God gives Doeg what he deserves.

7 [Lo/Behold/Look], this is the man that made not God his [strength/refuge/protector];
but trusted in [the abundance of his riches/his great wealth],
and [strengthened himself/was strong/was confident] [in/about] his [wickedness/evil desires/plans to destroy others].

So, the righteous will recognize that Doeg had two choices as to what he was going to place his confidence in – what he was going to consider to be his ultimate source of security. Would Doeg consider his wealth to be his strength? Or would he reconsider that position and perceive God to be his ultimate strength?

Well, of course, we know that Doeg was going to choose riches to be his strength. And David and the other righteous individuals would declare that this was the wrong choice. Doeg made a mistake of eternal consequence.

Doeg should have considered God to be his source of protection. He shouldn’t have feared Saul. He shouldn’t have misrepresented the priests and then murdered them to gain favor with Saul.

Doeg should have relied on God to protect him. But because he didn’t, God will punish him and the righteous will laugh. That’s what David is saying.

Psalm 52 Commentary 8 The Contrast

On the other hand, David and all his fellow righteous brothers will recognize that because of God’s loyal love and their taking refuge in him alone – that they’re going to be OK.

8 But [as for me…] I am like a [green/flourishing] olive tree in the house of God:
I trust in the [mercy/lovingkindness/loyal love] of God [for ever and ever/continually].

So, David and his brethren don’t need to lie to survive. They trust in God for the consequences of their lives.

And the consequences might be death.

Ahimelech in 1 Samuel 21 and 22 is perhaps the only character that doesn’t lie. He tells Saul the truth. And the consequence that God allowed for him doing right was death – an unjust violent end to this life.

And yet, as we recall wording in Psalm 23 we remember that David was convinced that he would dwell in the house of the Lord forever. And what are the righteous saying in Psalm 52 here? They’re like a green olive tree – where? In the house of the Lord.

Ahimelech spoke truth and was ultimately ushered into the house of the Lord forever.

David spoke truth and God was going to preserve him in this life.

And so, whether by death or by rescue and deliverance, David and all the righteous are convinced that in contrast to the awful end that the wicked will meet – that we will be like a healthy olive tree in God’s house forever. All because of God’s loyal love.

Psalm 52 Commentary 9 Praise to God

And in light of this, we end this psalm with praise to this loyal-loving God.

9 I will [praise thee/give you thanks/thank you] [for ever/continually], [because/when] thou [hast done it/execute judgement]:
and I will [wait on thy name/rely on you]; for it is good [before thy saints/in the presence of your godly ones/in the estimation of your loyal followers].

So, we won’t be ashamed if we rely on the Lord. Those who reject the Lord and rely on themselves will be ashamed. But we’re privileged to praise the Lord – both now and for eternity.

So, as we pray let’s take some time to thank the Lord for his protection from evil. And let’s with the saints here – in their presence – express our confident reliance upon the Lord.

Psalm 51 Commentary

Psalm 51 Commentary

Psalm 51 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Psalms

 
 

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Psalm 51 Commentary: The Bible tells us that sin is deceitful. And with its deception, it can harden us.

But every once in a while – or hopefully sooner than that – God breaks in on our lives and helps us recognize the gravity of our sin.

And that’s the attitude of David in Psalm 51. God has caused David to once again be sensitive to spiritual realities and to confess his sin openly and honestly to the Lord.

So, let’s turn our attention to Psalm 51.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Superscription

Now, in many cases it seems that the superscription to individual psalms is not all that helpful for the sake of interpreting the content of the rest of that psalm. But Psalm 51 is not like that at all. Because in Psalm 51, we are given one of the most informative superscriptions that appears before any psalm.

KJV Psalm 51:1

<[To/For] the [chief Musician/Choir Director/Music Director],
A Psalm of David,
[and we’re then told the circumstances surrounding the setting of this psalm…] when Nathan the prophet [came unto/confronted] him, after [he had gone in to/his affair with] Bathsheba.>

So, our minds hearken back to the story told in 2 Samuel 12 where David is confronted by the prophet Nathan about his adultery with Bathsheba and his subsequent murder of her husband.

Nathan – as you recall – sets David up with a story about a wealthy man who steals the one beloved sheep that a poor man had. And naturally, David gets stirred up by this story and declares the death sentence on this rich man. And then of course Nathan declares to David that he himself is that rich man.

By extension – then – David deserves the fate that he declared for that rich man from Nathan’s story. David deserves to die.

But David humbly confesses his sin. And Nathan declares that God has declared that David would not die.

So, there was forgiveness – great forgiveness from God for great transgression. And then the story in 2 Samuel moves on from there quickly.

But as we read through Psalm 51, it’s almost as if the psalmist doesn’t want to leave that scene. He wants to linger in that moment in which David was confronted by Nathan and then responded to God’s rebuke.

The way that 2 Samuel 12 portrays it, Nathan rebuked David – David repented – and then the story moves on. David’s repentance there is presented as very brief.

Psalm 51 though elaborates on David’s feelings. It gets into David’s mind as he laments his own awful sin to the Lord. It captures the moment of David being confronted by God through Nathan.

And so, for us, it’s an example of repentance – brought into focus. How does a person who loves God respond when he comes to realize the enormity of his sin?

This psalm will fill-out for us what it can look like to practice 1 John 1:9 – to confess our sins and find God to be faithful and just to forgive us all our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 1

So, as we begin to study this psalm, we start with David’s initial plea for mercy from God.

[Have mercy upon/Be gracious to] me, O God, [according to/because of] thy [lovingkindness/loyal love]:
[according unto/because of] the [multitude/greatness] of thy [tender mercies/compassion] [blot out/wipe away] my [transgressions/rebellious acts].

So, David is asking for mercy. He’s asking for his transgressions to be blotted out.

What’s the basis for this? How can David feel justified in asking for God to have mercy on him?

Well, it’s certainly not the cleanness of David’s hands – or the purity of his life. That’s gone forever for David at this point.

No – David doesn’t come to God asking for mercy and forgiveness on the basis of his own character and actions. Instead, David appeals to God’s lovingkindness and tender mercies.

God’s lovingkindness is his loyal covenant love that guarantees that he will never let go of one with whom he enters into a covenant – a relationship that’s based on a promise.

David was in such a relationship with God. And, so are we – if we trust Jesus Christ. And for both David and for us, when we fall and fail morally – we appeal to God on the basis of the fact that he’s entered into a covenant with us and we with him.

And of course, God inaugurated that covenant when he put Jesus on the cross to pay for all of our sin. Jesus’ blood in the New Testament is called the blood of the covenant. It’s Christ’s blood that allows for us to enter this relationship with God that’s based on his promise of eternal life.

So, when we sin – we appeal to God’s covenant love for us. We appeal to his mercies – his compassion. And we certainly never mention our own merits – we have none. We rest on the merits of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 2

Well, David continues to make request to God in verse 2.

2 Wash [me throughly from/away] mine [iniquity/wrongdoing],
and cleanse me [from/of] my sin.

And this cleansing and washing is exactly what’s promised to us New Testament believers in Jesus Christ as we confess our sin to God.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 3

And interestingly enough – David immediately in the next verse begins to do just that – to confess his sin to God.

3 For I [acknowledge/know/am aware of] my [transgressions/rebellious acts]:
and my sin is ever before me. [I am forever conscious of my sin…]

Now, sometime in July of 2015, the president of our country who was at that time a candidate for that office attended a family-values kind of forum in Iowa. And, while there he was asked whether he has ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions. This was his response:

“I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so,” he said. “I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.” (https://www.cnn.com/2015/07/18/politics/trump-has-never-sought-forgiveness/index.html)

And I by no means desire to disparage our president. I’m actually thankful – in a way – for his honesty in this situation – which is something that most politicians probably wouldn’t reveal in a forum that was set up by conservative Christians. They might do better at pretending at least that they’re really humble before the Lord.

But I do want to draw a contrast between the ruler of Israel that we’re talking about here in this psalm and the ruler of our nation – when it comes to dealing with sin.

For David – and for true believers in Christ – when we sin, it’s not a matter of just trying to do better. We certainly must never have the sense that we ought to leave God out of the situation. No – when we sin we need God more than ever!

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 4

And that’s because our sin is ultimately directed against God alone, as David acknowledges in verse 4.

4 Against thee, thee [only/above all], have I sinned,
and done [this/what is] evil in thy sight:

And so, here is the way to consider sin. It’s not just an offense against others – other men and women – your family or friends or enemies for that matter. No – your sin is ultimately against God alone. It’s a personal offense to him. He takes note of it. And he is not happy about it.

And because of David’s sin – against Bathsheba and against Uriah – being ultimately against no one but the Lord – David admits that God is right to speak judgement against him at the end of verse 4.

[that/so that/so] thou [mightest be/are] justified when thou [speakest/confront me],
and [be clear/be blameless/are right] when thou [judgest/condemn me].

Here then is another example of reacting to our sin. We need to acknowledge that whatever consequence God chooses for it is right.

David is not arguing that the punishment for David’s sin was too heavy or unjustified. He’s saying that God is totally justified as Nathan confronted him and condemned him.

I believe that David is probably also looking past the immediate situation of Nathan confronting him – and David has in mind even the subsequent punishment that God declared on David’s house – that his family would be torn apart and constantly at war with one another.

David looks at all of the consequences of his sin – and he humbly admits, “I deserve what I have coming to me. God is right. I am wrong.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 5

And what a contrast the holy, righteous, right God is to us weak frail humans who are – as verse 5 admits – sinners from conception!

5 Behold, I was [shapen in iniquity/brought forth in iniquity/guilty of sin from birth];
[and in sin did/a sinner the moment] my mother conceive[d] me.

And this is what the Apostle Paul teaches in Romans 5. We all sinned in Adam. We are all sinners from conception – and actually – however it works – sinners before conception! Sinners as soon as Adam sinned. Retroactive sinners. In Adam’s sin, we sinned.

And it’s not that David is justifying himself by admitting that he – and everyone, really – was a sinner before he was even born. But he is pointing to the utter hopelessness of humanity as we are naturally.

And if that’s all we had to work with – the fact that we’re hopeless sinners and there’s not a thing we can do about it – if that’s all we had – then the situation is totally bleak and we have absolutely no chance of ever relating to God in a positive way.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 6

But, that’s why it gives great comfort that God hasn’t given up on us. In fact, God has desires for us to transcend where we start at birth. He wants us to be people of integrity and wisdom – according to verse 6.

6 [Behold/Look], thou desirest [truth/integrity] in the [inward parts/innermost being/inner man]:
and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. [you want me to possess wisdom…]

And so, how gracious God is to not let us remain in our awful state of sinfulness. He’s working in those with whom he’s entered into a covenant so that we would grow to be people who – not only don’t sin externally – but that even our inner man would be full of truth and wisdom.

We praise him for this merciful desire that he has for us – and his working it out in our lives. His being in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 7

And that’s what David’s getting at in verse 7. He wants God to continue this work in him by purifying him.

7 [Purge/Purify/Sprinkle] me with [hyssop/water], and I shall be [clean/pure]:
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Because if our sin is ultimately against God only – then if God cleanses us – we’re truly cleansed. It’s not as if we need someone else’s cleansing in addition to God. Or – as Jesus says in a slightly different context – if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed!

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 8

And of course, if God is really able and even willing to forgive us our sins that we’ve committed against him only – to almost pretend as if we’d never sinned – then he’s able also to restore our emotional and even physical status, according to verse 8.

8 [Make/Grant] me [to hear joy and gladness/the ultimate joy of being forgiven];
[that/may] the bones which thou hast [broken/crushed] [may rejoice/rejoice].

And it makes sense that if God breaks bones, then he’s also able to heal them. He’s the source of all joy – and so if he takes it from you, it’s gone. But, he’s also the one that can give it back to you. And that’s what David is pleading with the Lord to do for him. To give him back his joy.

And of course, some sins we commit in this life will never be lived down. If a man gets drunk and crashes his car, killing an entire family – that family is gone and there’s nothing that can be done to bring them back to life right now. The damage is permanent.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 9

And yet, in terms of our relationship with God as a result of our sin, David is convinced that God is able to act as though we’ve never sinned, according to verse 9.

9 Hide thy face from my sins,
[and blot out/wipe away] all mine [iniquities/guilt].

So, David is anticipating that God will show a willingness to – as it were – pretend that David had never sinned.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 10

But David isn’t looking to be restored by God so that he can go back to doing evil. David wants God to change him from the inside out.

10 Create [in/for] me a [clean/pure] heart, O God;
and renew a [right/steadfast/resolute] spirit within me.

And of course, the sins of murder and adultery would indicate that a person is very much in need of a clean heart and a spirit that is right and resolute – that isn’t looking for the next thing to lust after. And David’s asking for that – an internal change that would fortify him against doing evil of this nature ever again.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 11

And as David contemplates the kind of spirit he wants God to give him – he also considers the Spirit that he insists that God not take away from him in verse 11.

11 Cast me not away from thy presence; [don’t reject me!…]
and take not thy holy spirit [from/away from] me.

Because David had seen the Lord take his Holy Spirit away from his predecessor – King Saul. And God did that because Saul didn’t obey Samuel the prophet. Instead, Saul sacrificed animals when he really should have waited for Samuel to come and do that.

And that’s why God took his Holy Spirit from Saul.

But then consider the evil that David had done. He committed adultery. He murdered someone indirectly. He lied and deceived.

Now, which do we tend to think is a worse crime – Saul’s or David’s?

I think we’d tend to say that David’s sins were far graver than were Saul’s. There are clear statements in Scripture that tell us that people who do those things – in the Old Testament – deserve death – and in the New Testament will not inherit eternal life. They will be damned.

On the other hand, what’s the penalty for killing an animal and burning it? I can’t think of any clear statements regarding that off the top of my head.

And yet, God stays with David and rejects Saul. And I think part of what contributes to that outcome is David’s heart that he expresses in this psalm.

Saul wanted God’s blessing so that he wouldn’t be humiliated in front of his people. David wants his relationship with God restored because he doesn’t want God to leave him.

Do you see the difference? David is concerned for a rupture in his relationship with God. Saul is concerned that people not think poorly of him.

And consequently – even though David is hounded by problems until the day he dies – the Lord never leaves him like he left Saul.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 12

And David continues in this psalm begging for a restoration of joy and the granting to him of a desire to obey the Lord in verse 12.

12 [Restore unto me/Let me again experience] the joy of thy [salvation/deliverance];
and [uphold/sustain] me [with thy free spirit/with a willing spirit/by giving me the desire to obey].

So, David wants to be able to rejoice again in God’s delivering him from problems. And David also wants God to uphold or sustain him by God giving David a free spirit – or one that is free to obey the Lord.

Why?

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 13

Well, David tells us in verse 13 that he wants joy and a renewed desire to obey the Lord so that – here’s the reason – he can teach others.

13 Then will I teach [transgressors/rebels] thy [ways/merciful ways];
and sinners [shall be converted/will turn] unto thee.

So, as this awful sinner teaches other transgressors of God’s merciful ways, these sinners – David hopes – will turn to this merciful Lord.

The goodness of God leads us to repentance.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 14

And, verses 12 and 13 are the first in a series of verses in which David asks God for something – in order that some other thing might happen. We see this in verse 14 as well.

14 [Deliver/Rescue] me from [bloodguiltiness/the guilt of murder],

O God,
thou God [of my salvation/who delivers me]:

[and/Then] my tongue shall [sing aloud/sing joyfully/shout for joy] [of/because of] thy [righteousness/deliverance].

So, David wants deliverance from the guilt he experienced as a result of murdering Uriah. And if God does this for him, he declares that he would sing of God’s deliverance.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 15

And then David follows up that promise with an additional request that God would give him the words for this song that he plans to sing.

15 O Lord, [open thou my lips/give me the words];
and my mouth shall [shew forth thy praise/declare your praise/praise you].

And we need to remember that praise is elsewhere – in both Old and New Testaments – as a sacrifice. That’s what David is saying that he will do when God is merciful to him – he will offer the sacrifice of praise to the Lord.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 16

And David is convinced that in his case, God’s desire for a sacrifice of animals – which he does require in the Old Testament – pales in comparison to the sacrifice that God truly desires.

16 [For/Certainly] thou [desirest/delight/want] not sacrifice; [else/otherwise] would I [give/offer] it:
thou [delightest/are pleased/desire] not [in/with/a] burnt offering.

Well, if God doesn’t want the sacrifice of animals in response to David’s grave sin, then what does he want?

We already saw that David plans to offer praise to the Lord.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verse 17

But he also mentions additional aspects of the praise that God requires in verse 17.

17 The sacrifices [of/desired by] God are a [broken/humble] spirit:
a [broken/humble] and a [contrite/repentant] heart, O God, thou wilt not [despise/reject].

So, when we sin – God doesn’t want us to ramp-up our external religious devotion. He’s not wanting us to offer animals. No amount of verbal witness to lost people will cause God to be impressed with you after you sin.

What God really wants is for you in your inner being to bow to him. He wants you and me with spirits that are not high and proud. He wants us in our hearts to be lowly and repentant.

Psalm 51 Commentary: Verses 18-19

And then the last two verses of this psalm turn from David’s own personal issues to a broader concern for all of God’s people.

18 Do good [in thy good pleasure/by your favor/because you favor Zion] unto Zion:
[build/fortify] thou the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then shalt thou [be pleased with/delight in/accept] [the sacrifices of righteousness/righteous sacrifices/the proper sacrifices],
with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: [which we were told earlier that God really wasn’t all that interested in…]

then shall they [offer/sacrifice] [bullocks/young bulls/bulls] upon thine altar.

And some have noted that these last two verses were perhaps inserted here by Jews after the Babylonian exile – the timeframe recorded in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

These people of God had experienced the chastening of God for seventy years – much like David experienced God’s chastening for his sin with Bathsheba.

The post-exilic Jews knew that they had been justly punished by God for awful sin. So did David.

And so, I think it’s an intriguing idea to imagine that some of the Israelites who were going to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild her walls and reinstitute her sacrifices – they look at David’s psalm of repentance to the Lord – and they publish it in the book of Psalms. But under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – they append two verses that express their complete identification with David’s feelings toward God and – at the same time – toward their own sin.

They are sick of their sin. They are desiring God. They are seeking him to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls and to reestablish the sacrificial system – even the one that David said doesn’t take the place of one’s inner man being broken and contrite.

So, that’s likely how the post-exilic Jews were using this psalm of David – to express their own remorse for sin and their strong desire for God to once again bless them.

And so, I think it’s appropriate for us to examine our lives to see if there’s any way in which David’s words and the spirit that they express match something in our lives at this moment.

Have you had a Bathsheba incident? Have you sinned against both man and ultimately God in a notoriously scandalous way?

Even if that’s not the case – have any of us been guilty of adopting an attitude contrary to David’s concerning our sin? Do we want to leave God out of the picture? Do we just try to do better?

So, let’s now just take some time to examine our hearts and to communicate with God privately along the lines of how David did in Psalm 51.

Psalm 50 Commentary

Psalm 50 Commentary

Psalm 50 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Psalms

 
 

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Psalm 50 Commentary: From the beginning of man’s relationship with God – after Adam sinned – sacrifices became commonplace among humans. The taking of an animal’s life in place of your own is a feature of many ancient religions. And it was certainly a feature of the one true religion revealed in Scripture.

But almost as common in the pages of Scripture is reference to the fact that God isn’t interested in sacrifices from a person who in all other ways is alienated from God.

And you can summarize that idea in a number of sayings – “God wants your heart and not just your hands” – or “God wants a relationship over external religious activities” – or as Jesus Christ said – quoting from the Old Testament, “I desire mercy and not a sacrifice.”

And the psalm that we’re going to study right now is just one more piece of testimony to the fact that God is after more than just sacrifices. So, let’s turn to Psalm 50 to see this.

And in Psalm 50, we’re given this theme: that “Praise and godly living is more important to God than external religious activity.”

Psalm 50 Commentary: 1-7 | God is Coming to Judge His People

And at the opening of this psalm, the psalmist pictures a time when God is going to come to judge the world and in particular his people Israel in verses 1-7.

<A Psalm of Asaph.>

KJV Psalm 50:1 The mighty God, even the LORD, [hath spoken/speaks],
and [called/summons] the earth from the [rising of the sun/east] unto the [going down thereof/west].

And so, God is calling the whole earth here. From east to west – the mighty God will summon everyone.

And God will do this judging from a specific place. Verses 2 and 3 tell us that he will judge from Zion – from Jerusalem.

2 Out of Zion, the [perfection of beauty/most beautiful of all places],
God [hath shined/comes in splendor].

3 Our God [shall come/approaches],
and shall not keep silence:

a fire shall devour before him,
and [it shall be very tempestuous/a storm rages] round about him.

And in verse 4 we finally get to the purpose for which God is going to summon the whole earth.

4 He [shall call to/summons] the heavens [from/which are] above,
and to the earth, that he may judge his people.

So, he’s going to gather those who identify as his people to judge them from heaven and earth.

And this is what God will say..

5 Gather my [saints/godly ones/covenant people] together unto me;
those that [have made/ratified] a covenant with me by sacrifice.

So, God first of all will call to him those who have shown their relationship to him by sacrifice.

Now, God makes it clear in the Old Testament – and even later in this psalm – that he’s not interested in sacrifice that is void of a holy lifestyle that reflects the relationship that the worshipper has with God. So, this is not teaching that a person’s attempt to sacrifice to God is the way to be accepted by him.

Rather, God will accept those who have made a covenant with him through sacrifice. Who have demonstrated that they are in a covenant – a relationship based upon a promise – with God by sacrificing.

And for us living after Christ has come and died and rose again – his sacrifice is what brings us into covenant with God. It’s through Jesus that we have a saving relationship with the mighty God who is coming to judge.

And – praise be to God – we who have accepted Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf are saved from the wrath to come – which this psalm is focused on thus far.

And that’s amazing that anyone will be accepted by God in the judgement. You might think that since God is so holy and man is so sinful, there’d be no way that anyone would be accepted. But God has found a way to be just and at the same time the justifier of those who have believed in Jesus’ sacrifice for their sins.

And so – because of this blessed reality – the following will be true in the judgement…

6 And the heavens shall declare his [righteousness/fairness]:
for God is judge himself.

Selah.

God’s treatment of the righteous will be shown to be totally righteous and fair. How could it be otherwise?? God is the judge – you know things will be perfectly right.

So, that’s a happy fate for the righteous.

On the other hand, all the rest of humanity – and especially of those who identify themselves as part of “God’s people” – they’ll have a terrifying confrontation awaiting them, as God speaks again…

7 Hear, O my people,
and I will speak; O Israel,

and I [will testify against/am accusing] thee:

I am God,
even thy God.

So, some individuals – who have made a covenant with God by sacrifice – will experience God’s mercy. The rest will experience God’s testifying against them.

Psalm 50 Commentary: 8-13 | What God Doesn’t Want/Need

Now, the beginning of God’s testimony against his rebellious people is that he doesn’t really need anything from them. God’s existence doesn’t in any way depend upon his people.

8 I [will/do/am] not [reprove/condemning] thee [for/because of] thy sacrifices
or thy burnt offerings, [to have been/which are] continually [before/offered to] me.

So, if the people are wondering what God is going to say as he testifies against them – he wants to make it clear that it has nothing to do with sacrifices – whether they offered them or not.

Yes, the people whom God will receive at the judgement did make sacrifices. But that was showing something. It was showing that they had entered into a covenant with him. They had and have a personal relationship to God. Sacrifice demonstrated that reality – but it didn’t create that reality.

And so, God continues to emphasize that sacrifice isn’t the focus of his judgement of his people.

9 I [will/do not need to] take no bullock out of thy house,
nor he goats out of thy folds.

So, God doesn’t need these things from the houses or fields of the Israelites because he has plenty of such animals…

10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

11 I know all the fowls of the mountains:
and the wild beasts of the field are mine.

So, if God needs an animal, he’s more than capable of fetching one for himself. He created them all and ultimately owns them all!

And so, God continues to express his self-sufficiency and total lack of dependence upon anyone…

12 If I were hungry,
I would not tell thee:

for the world is mine,
and the fulness thereof.

And when it comes down to it, do the sacrifices of God’s people really do anything to sustain and provide for God? God’s answer: No…

13 Will I eat the flesh of bulls,
or drink the blood of goats?

So, God makes the point that it’s not even as if he gets any nourishment from these sacrifices. He doesn’t eat and drink what his people offer in their religious ceremonies – even the ones that God himself commanded them to participate in.

Psalm 50 Commentary: 14-15 | What God Really Wants

Now, that last statement – that God commanded his people to offer sacrifices to him – along with the fact that God already mentioned in this very psalm that one aspect of the people that he’ll receive at the judgement is that they sacrifice to him – all of that points to the fact that God really did want sacrifice.

But God through the psalmist goes on to assert that there is something far greater in God’s mind that he’s looking for. And in comparison to that, sacrifices by themselves when not offered from the right heart – are worse than worthless – both to God and to those who participate in such activities.

And so, God now is going to point to two things that he wants his people engaged in that will trump outward religious activities.

The first thing that God prefers over sacrificing animals is actually itself a sacrifice. It’s the offering of a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

14 Offer unto God [thanksgiving/a sacrifice of thanksgiving/a thank-offering];
and pay thy vows unto the most High:

So, I’ll just say this – as Christians – as God’s people – if we enter our church building and meet with God’s people and sing songs and give money and do all of the things that are expected of church-goers – and yet our hearts are not full of thanks to God – you have God’s word right here telling you that that’s not what he’s looking for.

And the second activity that God wants us to be engaged in is to genuinely call on God when we’re in need and then glorify him when he answers and delivers us…

15 And [call upon/pray to] me [in the day of/when you are in] trouble:

I will deliver thee,
and thou shalt [glorify/honor] me.

Now, we might tend to think that this would be boring for God at best. At worst, maybe calling on God when we’re in trouble is irritating to him.

And yet, God would rather have you humbly call out to him for help and then glorify him once he answers – than to have your sacrifice.

And this sounds so selfish and counterintuitive – perhaps so hedonistic and even maybe ungodly! But we have God’s word here urging us to not think of what we can do for God – but what he can do for us.

I know – I’m almost shocked to be saying this. But this is exactly what this psalm is saying.

God started by testifying that he doesn’t need a thing from his people. He basically heaps scorn and ridicule on the thought that his people can do anything to sustain him in any way. He’s emphatically declaring to us that he needs nothing that we can give him.

Oh – except thanksgiving. That one thing is what he wants.

And beyond that, what God really desires is that we would pray to him when we’re in trouble. And then when he mercifully answers and gives us what we so desperately need – he simply wants us to glorify him.

So, those are the two activities that God wants from us – thanking him and glorifying him for answered prayer.

Psalm 50 Commentary: 16-20 | God’s Message to the Wicked

So, now we all know God’s will – he wants thanks and glory from his people instead of their carrying out wrote religious duties.

But now God is going to turn to the wicked and give them a message. In the context, these are God’s wicked people – rebellious Israelites. And God has a message for them.

16 But unto the [wicked/evildoer] God saith,

[What hast thou to do to/How can you] declare my [statutes/commands],
[or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth/and talk about my covenant]?

So, God is addressing his people who are wicked and yet they declare God’s statutes and commands. They talk about his covenant with duplicity.

The righteous enter into a covenant with God through the sacrifice of his Son. The wicked merely talk about God’s covenant. And God doesn’t want them to do even that.

And here’s why it makes no sense to God for the wicked to speak of him and his commands and covenant…

17 Seeing thou hatest instruction,
and castest my words behind thee.

And it seems really strange that some of God’s people who take it upon themselves to declare God’s commands – themselves hate God’s instruction and words.

But the reality is that any town in this country is full of such ministers. When it comes down to it, if they’re not truly born-again – having entered into the New Covenant through Christ’s sacrifice – they are as Paul the apostle said enemies of the cross of Christ.

They hate God’s word. And yet, that’s what they work with all the time. It doesn’t make sense. And that’s why God is rebuking such people.

And yet, this message is to God’s people – not just to those who would identify as God’s people outside of our church. It’s not just for the Catholics and the Lutherans and the Charismatics. It’s for us, too.

We need to really examine our hearts.

Are there any among us who just outright “hate” God’s instruction? You’re openly defiant when you hear what God wants about this or that thing. I mean, you might want to spin it as if “that’s not what God wants – that’s just what my parents say” or whatever else. And yet – despite this – you somehow manage to consider yourself a Christian.

Or maybe your response to God’s word isn’t quite that openly hostile. Maybe you’ve just simply become very skilled with ignoring God’s word – “casting them behind you.” I mean, you’ll keep speaking of God – his covenant and his word – but you’ve become skilled in ignoring what that word and covenant command you in terms of your actions and thoughts.

God help all of us to not be hypocrites. To not play-act as if we love God’s word when we really hate or ignore it practically…

Well, God gives the wicked some examples of how he knows that they hate his commands and throw his word behind their backs.

First, they love and accompany thieves and adulterers in their evildoing.

18 When thou sawest a thief, then thou [consentedst with/are pleased with/join] him,
and [hast been partaker/associate] with adulterers.

And so, we’d do well to search our hearts and consider whether any of us loves dishonest gain. Are there any of us who would steal?

Or are there any who commit adultery – even in your heart – as a common practice? Do we forget that even to look at a woman with lust is to commit adultery? Or maybe we don’t forget – but we just don’t care anymore…

But, God doesn’t stop the indictment there. He continues to furnish evidence that a person hates his word.

19 Thou givest thy mouth to evil,
and thy tongue frameth deceit.

So, consider whether or not your practice is to lie. Do you deceive intentionally as a habit?

We might be fooling our fellow-man. But God is not fooled and he’s ready to testify against us…

And, another sign that you hate or despise God’s word is the way that you use your tongue to speak of others.

20 Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother;
thou slanderest thine own mother’s son.

So, how do you speak of others in your church? In your family? At the workplace?

Do you slander others – say what’s not true of them?

To the extent that we do any of these things – we are proving – despite all appearances to the contrary – despite our standing in front of an audience and giving God’s word – despite boldly proclaiming God’s word to lost neighbors and friends – our relationship to God’s word is in total disarray.

We find ourselves in the situation that God wants us in according to this psalm. He wants us to call on him when we’re in trouble. Are there any of us who are in trouble after reading this list of qualities that prove that you hate God’s word? We can call upon him in this trouble and glorify him for his mercy and life-changing power.

Psalm 50 Commentary: 21 | God’s Responds with Silence

Well, you know what can be so confusing to this kind of person – to one who is a supposed member of God’s people – but who hates God’s word and will be rebuked by God – what is so deceptive to these people is that oftentimes God doesn’t punish them immediately for their misdeeds.

21 These things hast thou done, [that’s what they did – what is God doing?] and I kept silence;
thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself:

but I will reprove thee,
and set [them/the case/“these things”] in order before thine eyes.

And so, God set before perhaps several of us “these things” that demonstrate that we might speak well of God’s word but that truly we hate it. And if we continue in these practices we prove ourselves to be wicked and deserving of judgement – the likes of which this psalm has been speaking of.

But if this message from God has been bothering and upsetting to you, well – God has a follow-up that you will want to pay close attention to.

Psalm 50 Commentary: 22-23 | A Possibility to Change

Because God isn’t going to just leave you where you are. He’s giving you another chance.

22 Now consider this,
ye that forget God,

[lest/Or I will/Otherwise I will] I tear you in pieces,
and there be none to deliver.

And that will happen if you ignore what God’s saying here. He will judge you and tear you to pieces like a wild animal.

But here’s the blessed remedy to that dreadful outcome. Consider this…

23 Whoso [offereth praise/offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving/presents a thank-offering] [glorifieth/honors] me:
and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I [shew/reveal] [the salvation of God/my power to deliver].

Now, the message here is not to be misunderstood. God is not saying that by living right you will be accepted by God in the judgement.

Because he already said back at the beginning of this psalm that those who will be accepted by God are those who have demonstrated that they have entered into a covenant – a relationship based upon a promise – with God through sacrifice. We enter that relationship with God through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ.

But then we do need to take very seriously God’s words here. What does God want from you now that you’re in a relationship with him?

Not merely external religious activities. He wants your thanksgiving. He wants your prayers and glorifying him when he answers those prayers. And he wants you and me to live right – to live in light of his word and covenant with us.

Because, the Judge is coming. He will come someday. But he is also merciful and is giving you a second chance.

So, let’s go to prayer full of thanksgiving and calling upon God in our troubles with every intention of glorifying him for answers.

And perhaps right now it would be an appropriate time to deal with the Lord. Has he convicted about some sin that you’re indulging in? Confess that to him. He promises to be faithful and just to forgive you every sin for Christ’s sake.

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.

Psalm 48 Commentary

Psalm 48 Commentary

Psalm 48 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Psalms

 
 

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1X

 

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.”