Psalm 71- When My Strength Is Spent

This is one traditional place of David's tomb. The other is on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, on the first floor of the same building where one traditional site of the Upper Room is on the second floor. In Jacob's time, it was called Ephrath, which meant "fruitful." Jacob buried his favorite wife Rachel there after she gave birth to Benjamin. After the conquest of the Promised Land, it was called Bethlehem-judah (Ruth 1: 1). Famine drove Elimelech and Naomi from Bethlehem to Moab, where their sons married Ruth and Orpah. When all three husbands died, Ruth returned to Bethlehem with Naomi and gleaned in the fields of Boaz. She and Boaz married, and their great-grandson was David. In his childhood, David cared for the sheep of his father Jesse in the fields of Bethlehem, possibly the same fields where his great-grandmother Ruth gleaned. A thousand years later, Jesus was born in Bethlehem and angels announced His birth to shepherds caring for their sheep in the fields near there. These fields have become known as The Shepherds' Fields.

This is one traditional place of David’s tomb. The other is on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, on the first floor of the same building where one traditional site of the Upper Room is on the second floor. In Jacob’s time, it was called Ephrath, which meant “fruitful.” Jacob buried his favorite wife Rachel there after she gave birth to Benjamin. After the conquest of the Promised Land, it was called Bethlehem-judah (Ruth 1: 1). Famine drove Elimelech and Naomi from Bethlehem to Moab, where their sons married Ruth and Orpah. When all three husbands died, Ruth returned to Bethlehem with Naomi and gleaned in the fields of Boaz. She and Boaz married, and their great-grandson was David. In his childhood, David cared for the sheep of his father Jesse in the fields of Bethlehem, possibly the same fields where his great-grandmother Ruth gleaned. A thousand years later, Jesus was born in Bethlehem and angels announced His birth to shepherds caring for their sheep in the fields near there. These fields have become known as The Shepherds’ Fields.

The Hebrew text for this psalm has no superscription or title. The Septuagint, the Vulgate, and others have it as “by David, a song sung by the sons of Jonadab, and the first that were taken captive.” Many commentators do take the position that it was probably written by David in his old age. The inclusion of the fact that it was sung by the sons of Jonadab and by the first of those taken captive is somewhat puzzling,  but must have had some historical significance at the time the superscription was added. The sons of Jonadab (the Rechabites) are the subject of Jeremiah 35 for their faithfulness to their father’s command.

It is a song of lament, easily fitting for anyone who is weak and in distress. it is easy to see why the captives would sing this psalm, as it both cries out for help in a dire situation and when one feels helpless:

“forsake me not when my strength is spent…
O God, be not far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!…
I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Psalm 70 – O Lord, Do Not Delay

Fields of grain and wheat to the east of Bethlehem, in the area where Boaz and Ruth met.

Fields of grain and wheat to the east of Bethlehem, in the area where Boaz and Ruth met.

The five short verses of this psalm are almost word for word taken from Psalm 40:13-17. The most reasonable explanation for the repetition is that this portion of Psalm 40 was adapted for a specific occasion as a corporate prayer, while the former psalm was written during David’s earlier and more private time. The superscription says it was “for the memorial offering.” This was part of the grain offering in which the priest burns a portion on the altar. Still, it is a lament and an appeal to God for deliverance:

May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great!”

But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Psalm 109 – Help Me, O Lord My God

Ziklag area, a Philistine city where David hid from Saul.

Ziklag area, a Philistine city where David hid from Saul.

Psalm 109 is another of what are considered “imprecatory” psalms, which bible critics and skeptics love to denigrate. They are psalms that call for God’s righteous judgment on the enemies of the psalmist, who have done, or intend to do harm wrongfully to the psalmist and others (please see this previous post for our comments on the subject). One must always keep in mind that this is the word of God when reading some of these commentaries; and the Holy Spirit does have a reason for its inclusion.

For one thing, it should be noted that the psalmist (likely David, as the superscription says) is speaking not only of someone who has done, and intends to continue to do, great undeserved evil to him. This is someone who is leading others to do the same to the helpless, poor, and needy (i.e. verse 16 – “but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted, to put them to death”). The psalmist is asking for God’s righteous judgment upon incredibly evil men. Furthermore, the pleas for help come from a faithful servant that has already told us in the psalm of his attempts to show love and kindness to these evil ones. One must be very careful about criticizing the pleas for justice contained in these psalms. God does not expect those in the psalmist’s position to have no emotion about such evil.

Finally, the connection of at least part of this psalm to prophecy, especially where Judas is concerned, cannot be ignored. Note verse 8 and its connection to Acts 1:17-20.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Psalm 88 – My Soul Is Full of Troubles

1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story - Angel of Grief

1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story – Angel of Grief

As one of the lament psalms, this one is truly written by one whose condition is most pitiable. In a vote for the saddest psalm of the book, Psalm 88 could easily win. Opinions vary as to the origin of the psalm. Some believe it was written by one of the exiles to Babylon during the worst of his times. Others have postulated that it is the song of a dying leper. I read a first-hand account of a visit to a leper colony that occurred over 50 years ago, and I shall spare you the details of that account. Suffice to say that I find it very plausible that such indeed could be the source of the psalm.

One thing to note is that although the psalm begins and ends with the deepest despair and no real hope that things will get any better, the cries made by the psalmist to the Lord are accompanied by faith nevertheless. And the psalmist makes it clear that he will continue in his faith to the bitter end, fully expecting to begin each new day with his prayers to the Lord.

2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” So why is this psalm in the Bible? What teaching or training could such bleak words hold for us today? I believe Derek Kidner offers as good an explanation as I have heard (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Book 16),IVP Academic; Reprint edition (April 17, 2009)). Burton Coffman aptly summarizes Kidner’s words (which I will leave you with) as follows:

“(1) This psalm reveals the truth that Christians may sometimes be subjected to the most unrelenting and terrible misfortunes in passing through this earthly life. It happened to Job; it happened to this psalmist; and it can happen to any child of God.

What a joyful thing it is that… the Christian today has the advantage of the blessed hope of the resurrection ‘in Christ’ and the hope of eternal glory in heaven.

(2) There is the lesson of this psalm that no matter how discouraging and terrible one’s lot in life may be, he should not fail to lay the matter before the Lord in prayer. God always answers the prayers of his saints, even if their specific requests must be denied, as in the case of Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh.’

(3) Our lives upon earth are only a moment compared to the ceaseless ages of eternity; and our attitude during the very worst of experiences should be the same as that of Job, who cried, ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust him’ (Job 13:15)”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Psalm 5-6 – Lead Me In Your Righteousness

Both of these Psalms are regarded generally as Psalms of Lament.  Both have the quite frequent musical direction in the superscript.  In Psalm 5, some versions say that it is “for the flute(s),” but that is far from settled.  The Hebrew word is “Nehiloth.”  Easton’s Bible Dictionary says: “It is probably derived from a root meaning “to bore,” “perforate,” and hence denotes perforated wind instruments of all kinds. The psalm may be thus regarded as addressed to the conductor of the temple choir which played on flutes and such-like instruments.”

Psalm 5’s label as a lament, though technically correct is unfortunate.  It is ascribed to David, and we do not know the time or circumstances that it occurred in his life, but like many other “Lament” psalms, it does contain pleas for deliverance from enemies.  But it is often called a “morning prayer” because of verse three, where he tells the Lord that He hears his voice in the morning as he offers his sacrifice – his worship to the Lord.

Nathan condemns David because of Bathsheba.

Nathan condemns David because of Bathsheba.

It is a reminder for us of the importance of personal prayer, and of worship.  Notice the repeated use (six times) of the word “my” in the first three verses – “give ear to my words…the sound of my cry…my King and my God…”   In verses 4-6, he acknowledges how God hates wickedness, the deceitful, the proud or boastful – all evildoers – and how they will not stand before him as the righteous (see also Psalm 1:5).  Clearly in verse 7, he considers the privilege he has to be able to come and worship Him, because of the Lord’s “steadfast love.”

Psalm 6 is one that many classify as one of penitence, although we are not told of what sin for which he is repenting.  It seems clear in verses 2-5 that he is ill – so much so that he believes he could die from whatever the illness might be.   It may, as some are often prone to think, that he feared his illness was God’s punishment for that sin (Job’s friends being a case in point).  In any case, he is not only gravely ill, and possibly in peril from his enemies (verses 8, 10), but he is also deeply ashamed of whatever wrong he has done.  But he knows that now that he has repented, “the Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.” 

Both psalms serve as models of prayer and the privilege we have to worship the Lord and to receive His forgiveness and His care in times of trouble because of His “steadfast love” (5:7, 6:9).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.