Psalm 85 – Revive Us Again

Daberath, a city in the tribal territories of Issachar and Naphtali near Mount Tabor (background); probably the site of the defeat of the Canaanite king Jabin's army under Sisera (Judges 4). Barak gathered an army here to fight Sisera, and it is one traditional site of the Transfiguration.

Daberath, a city in the tribal territories of Issachar and Naphtali near Mount Tabor (background); probably the site of the defeat of the Canaanite king Jabin’s army under Sisera (Judges 4). Barak gathered an army here to fight Sisera, and it is one traditional site of the Transfiguration.

The vast majority of commentators and scholars attribute this psalm to a post-exilic writing, but that seems hardly to be a given.  Verse 1 is most often used as the basis of that assumption, which in most translations reads “Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the captivity of Jacob.” But the ESV translates it as “…you restored the fortunes of Jacob.” Even if the former translation is taken as correct, the sentence structure makes such a conclusion suspect in the first place.

Secondly, even if it does refer to a restoration from captivity, that does not preclude an earlier occurrence of some sort of captivity. As Barnes points out, it likely refers to bondage in Egypt in addition to other instances – which could include any number of such times written about in the Book of Judges, for example. Also, the next few verses indicate that the psalmist is praying for the Lord to restore their fortunes again, and to no longer be angry with them – indicating that their fortunes are once again not so great in the present:

Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us!
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?

The plea the psalmist makes for God to revive his people probably means more than to rejuvenate them – probably to strengthen and make them powerful again (rather than the powerlessness that they feel and are experiencing at present). The remainder of the psalm expresses confidence that the Lord will do just that, and suggests that there are many saints – many of those who are of a penitent heart ready to serve. The psalmist prays for those people not to return to their folly:

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land

The lesson in this psalm for us today is that when we are in desperate times, we need to remember that God cares for us, and that he will deliver the righteous. But our patience for God acting in His time, rather than in our own, must be strengthened along with our faith.

Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
Yes, the Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase

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 119-169-176, Psalm 87 – This one was born there

tawWe conclude our study of Psalm 119 with this final stanza that begins each verse with the 22nd letter of the Aleph-Bet, the Hebrew letter “taw.”  Most appropriately, this stanza of the psalm has the psalmist acknowledging what we knew all along – that he, like everyone, is a sinner and in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness (verse 176).

Psalm 87 is another psalm of the sons of Korah.  The hymn, “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” by John Newman and Franz Joseph Haydn, is based on this psalm.  It is a prophecy of a time when Jerusalem will become the birthplace of all nations through Him that will arise from there, as in birth.  “Rahab” mentioned in verse three is another word for Egypt, and all of the other cities listed there are bitter enemies of Israel.  It is an illustration of the fact that all nations will serve God one day.

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.

Psalm 82 – Rescue the Weak and Needy

scales01This psalm is a community lament against the unjust rulers of Israel.  Because of the unfortunate rendering of the word “gods” in the text, some have supposed this to be a reference to angels on earth.  But it merely refers to those who are in a position of authority on earth by God’s will and are therefore His representatives – whether they behave as such or not.    The psalm is a plea to God for justice for those who are weak and for the poor who suffer at the hands of those who are blessed with better stations in life.  Because God does indeed demonstrate throughout the scriptures how very much He cares for the poor, the psalmist is rightly certain that this plea will be heard and answered by the judge most high:

“Arise O God, judge the earth;
for you shall inherit all the nations!”

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.  

Psalms 74 – Arise O God, Defend Your Cause

Nebuchadnezzar_002It is hard to imagine that this lament psalm could have been written about anything other than the fall of Jerusalem.  In fact, Burton Coffman’s assessment (Coffman, James Burton. “Commentary on Psalms 74”, “Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament”) was that it must have been one of three occasions.  The first possibility is of course the 587 BC destruction of the Temple and the city by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24).   The second seems much less likely – the 351 BC suppression of a Jewish uprising by Persian King Artaxerxes.  Although the third possibility seems a bit more credible – the profaning of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 B.C – the first seems to fit much better (verse 7 notwithstanding).

Though the superscription assigns this psalm to Asaph, in actuality it would be the “sons” (descendants) of Asaph that were responsible; and the likelihood that it is a prophetic psalm seems quite high.  The psalmist appears to obviously see the destruction to come, yet pleads for hope that it may not all come to pass.  He asks God to remember the covenant and Mount Zion; and to “redeem the tribe” of His heritage.

This moving psalm is very appropriate for any community lament, as the psalmist combines fervor for God’s justice and vengeance against those who scoff, with praise for His power, might, and sovereignty:

Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the midst of the earth…
Yours is the day, yours also the night;
you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
you have made summer and winter.

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.

 

Psalm 119-161-168, Psalm 81 – If You Would But Listen

shinThis stanza of Psalm 119 begins each verse with the 21st letter of the Aleph-Bet, “Shin” (also sin).  In the middle of the psalmist’s praise to God here, despite the persecution he endures, he proclaims his innocence while stating to God that “all my ways are before you.  These should not be taken a the words of one who thinks himself without sin, but one with a clean conscience.

Psalm 81 is thought to be related to one of the times of feast, possibly the Feast of Tabernacles, but its lament is suitable for any time and could apply just as well to the times in the cycle of the Judges, Babylonian captivity, or even in anticipation of the destruction of Jerusalem – “O Israel, if you would but listen to me!”

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.

Psalms 73 – The Prosperity of the Wicked

Psalm 73 begins Book III, which is composed of psalms 73-83, known as the Asaph group. The rest of the psalms in Book III are supposed to be written by the Sons of Korah.  the first part of the psalm starts with a note about the psalmist’s envy of the wicked and their prosperity.

It is a characteristic generality that Satan has us draw, for not all wicked people behave as this describes, nor do all prosper.  But it is sometimes hard for the poor servant of the Lord who struggles from day-to-day to watch the easy life of those who never know what it is to struggle, and then behave and speak irreverently to God, and even to deny him.

poverty_01In that respect (economic snobbery not withstanding) the wealthy are not as fortunate as the poor because it is not very easy for those who do not depend on God for their daily bread to acknowledge their dependence on Him for anything else.  We do well to remember the 40 years that the Lord’s people spent in the wilderness with God providing their manna daily to teach them to depend on the Lord for all things.

With that, we should count ourselves blessed if we lack in earthly riches, for our reward comes later.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you…
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;

you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge,

that I may tell of all your work

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.

Psalms 62, 64 – My Soul Waits for God Alone

Psalm 13:5

Psalm 13:5 (Photo credit: [Share the Word])

The superscription of Psalm 62 reads “according to Jeduthun,” who along with his sons was set aside by David for musical service (1 Chronicles 16:7-42, 1 Chronicles 25:1-4).  The poetry of this psalm is so obviously David’s that there can be no doubt who wrote it (“my rock and my salvation, my fortress”).  This is sometimes known as the “only” psalm.  Some translations use the word “alone” in place of “only,” but it is used often: “For God alone my soul waits in silence.  He alone is my rock and my salvation.”  The psalm ends with the sweet prayer of praise:

“Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love”

In Psalm 64, David asks for God’s help against those who plot against him.  “The secret plots of the wicked” could refer to the early days of Absalom’s conspiracy (2 Samuel 15).  The message he bears to those who hear the song is one of hope.

Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord
and take refuge in him!
Let all the upright in heart exult

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.

Psalm 119:153-160; Psalm 97 – The Reign of the Lord

resh

This stanza of Psalm 119 begins each verse with the twentieth letter of the Aleph-Bet, “resh.”  Like the previous stanza, it contains verses with pleas to the Lord for help, with the psalmist declaring his love for God’s word, as well as some that remind of God’s promises and His love for the righteous.  Like the previous stanza, it concludes with the eternal truth of God’s word.

Psalm 97 is a beautiful song of praise to God for His power, authority, and supremacy over the heavens, the earth, and mankind.  The psalmist is believed by many to be David, although just as many attribute the writing to some time after the Babylonian captivity.  The psalm does have the “feel” of celebration concerning some victory or similar grand event.

In fact, it reminds us quite a bit of the “Song of Moses” – particularly Exodus 15:6-18, which praised God for His deliverance after the crossing of the Red Sea, as well as sights and sounds from the mountain after their arrival at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:16-20, with a dash of Psalm 19 for good measure.

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne

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.

Psalms 72 – Blessed Be His Glorious Name Forever

While David was still living, he arranged for his son Solomon to become king

While David was still living, he arranged for his son Solomon to become king

Psalm 72 is the last psalm in “book 2” of the Psalms, and contains the books doxology at the end.  The superscription deems it a song “of” Solomon, obviously as the young heir to David’s throne.  Some have attributed authorship to Solomon himself, but Matthew Henry’s view that it is David’s prayer on behalf of Solomon is likely correct.

There are some obvious Messianic aspects to the psalm in addition to the obvious parts in which there is fervent prayer for the earthly king.  The care for the poor and the needy in verse 4 certainly sounds like Jesus during His ministry; and verses 12-14 referring to one who delivers and redeems are pointing to Him as well.

The prayer ends with the doxology and praise to the Lord:  “Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory!  Amen and Amen!”  The last line – “The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended” could refer to this psalm, but could also refer to the assembling of this section of the psalms by the psalter.  Matthew Henry took the view that it referred to the ending of Psalms 71 and 72 as a whole, having been written in David’s old age.  Now with a young king to take his place, his “prayers have ended.”

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.

Psalm 61 – Lead Me to the Rock

As a lament, Psalm 61, though very short,  is one of the more beautiful, and one of the better known hymns that come from it is  “The Rock that is Higher than I” (verse 2).  Most scholars believe that this psalm was written during the time of Absalam’s conspiracy and David’s flight from Jerusalem (2 Samuel 15-18).  It is viewed as an individual lament, as David is asking the Lord to “hear my cry” (verse 1) and “prolong the life of the king” (verse 6).

mountain_003But as short as it is, it obviously is more than that, and it is easy to see why it has been popular for so long as both a congregational song and morning prayer.  Consider verse 2 “from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”  Then consider verse 5: “you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.” 

That heritage is the covenant God made with David in 2 Samuel 7 – that of our Lord Jesus coming through the Davidic line.  The rest of verse 6 and verse 7 cinch it, as David finishes his prayer making it obvious that it was written after that covenant was made: “Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations! May he be enthroned forever before God…”

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.