PSALMS 7:1 – 9:20 and 1 CORINTHIANS 2:1–16
David is penning this psalm when he is again in a time of distress. We can see from the brief introduction that it was directed towards Cush the Benjamite whom we know to be Saul. This was probably at the time of when he was in the caves of Adullam when he was fleeing from Saul (1 Sam 22). One should try and put themselves into David’s shoes here. He was anointed to be king, slew Goliath and was initially received into the king’s household. Saul became envious of David soon after the Word of the Lord was given to Saul for his disobedience.
1Sa 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.
It was an evil spirit that was provoking Saul to move against David. It was God who was allowing it so that David would learn to have total dependence upon the Lord. You can see the desperate cry of David in this psalm for help and deliverance from his adversary. Yet his adversary was his father in law the king. It is one thing when an enemy from without is coming against you but it is something far different when your opposition comes from within. David’s heart pleased God and the anointing was clearly set upon him. The anointing that was upon Saul lifted being replaced by an evil spirit.
1Sa 16:14 But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.
1Sa 16:15 And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.
David later came to understand that it was God who was allowing this to happen. There would come occasions when he could have ended the life of Saul when he was delivered into his hands but he would see Saul as God’s anointed.
1Sa 24:6 And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.
David is confused and in anguish as he is writing this psalm. It appears that there has been nothing but trouble since he was designated and anointed to be king. David is at a very critical period here because he yet can see the bigger picture of what is at work. It is times like this when the enemy will press very hard to try and bring discouragement, fear and hopelessness. He strikes when we are weak and vulnerable which only adds to the pain. You can see the desperation and sense of hopelessness in verse 5 when he says to the Lord to let his enemy persecute his soul and tread down his life to the earth and to take his honor with it. David is also being circumspect through this period by asking the Lord to reveal any potential iniquity or evil that he may have done that has brought him into this position (vs 3-4).
One of the essentials we need as believers is to have God’s perspective, especially when going through a trial. We saw in David that he was one who reflected and meditated upon his past experiences. When he saw Goliath he was able to reference his victories over the bear and the lion while tending sheep. He learned to see God’s hand in the day to day issues of life. A person who is reflective comes to know God in a more comprehensive way which in turn allows for a greater perspective when faced with challenges. A shallow believer would have never been able to endure the wilderness period of David’s life. A shallow believer would have never seen his adversary as being God’s appointed and anointed instrument of blessing. We need to seriously ask ourselves as to how we would be responding if we were in David’s shoes at this time. The days are coming when all things will be shaken, will we stand; will we be able to still see God as sovereign and over all?
In verses 6-17 David is able to summon up the strength to proclaim God as his deliverer and defender. He also sees God as one that allows such trials for the purpose of trying the hearts and reins of men (vs 9). This is true perspective and it helps David to carry on through his many challenges. It does not end here; it continues for a season and will surely test David to the core. In viewing the end of the matter we can see how God used these trials for David’s preparation in becoming the first true king/priest of Israel. This is one of the primary points we should be mindful of through his trials; David was not just being prepared for becoming a king, he was also being prepared for becoming a priest.
Whenever I come across this Psalm I think of the familiar opening words of the Lord’s Prayer; “Our Father, who art in heaven…” It is a beautiful attitude to assume when coming before the Lord in prayer. It recognizes that God is high and above all things. This psalm gives that thought an added thrust. David was a meditator early in the morning but we also see him in this posture at evening as well. He looked into the heavens, saw the myriad of stars sprinkled around the moon and just became lost in His greatness. He suddenly saw himself as small and insignificant in the light of God’s majesty. It brought a whole new perspective to his manner of prayer. The God who could dazzle a night’s sky canvas with His handiwork is surely able to meet any need that would exist in the life of mortal man. David then thought how God could give any consideration to a man such as himself. “Who am I Lord, that you would think of someone like myself?” Can you see how one’s prayer life could develop from such an experience? We approach God from the “narrowness of self” which in the end limits God in what He can do. This is because man’s faith is snuffed out when he becomes overwhelmed with his circumstances; doubts and fears become the impediment to unanswered prayer. If on the other hand we can see God as David did in Psalm 8 it will allow for faith to flow naturally.
David saw himself upon the earth and God and His glory as being above the heavens (vs 1). In fact that verse has several different variations of song attributed to it. David had authority in being able to speak as to how God had ordained strength out of babes and suckling’s after his bout with Goliath. He appeared as a child before this monster yet God allowed David to bring him down. This is the promise to those who walk in fear and trembling before Him. He loves to be glorified in those who appear weak. David came to know that it was God who had ordained men to be an extension of His glory. He has given man the ability to have dominion over the works of His hands. This was an authority that Adam was given before his sin in the garden (Gen 1:26-28). David is also speaking prophetically seeing that man is still contending with his adversary and that Christ had yet to go to the cross. This psalm sounds familiar to Psalm 37 where he speaks about the peace of God bringing destruction to the enemy who is seen no more. It also resembles another psalm where the saints of God are called to execute the judgement written upon the devil.
Psa 149:7 To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;
Psa 149:8 To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
Psa 149:9 To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.
David reiterates man’s authority that God has given him over all of the animal life as seen in verses 7-8. Man has the responsibility to respect and not abuse his authority over animals. At the same time animals are not to be on par or in some cases superior to man as seen in today’s culture. There are laws that cater now to the safety, sanctuary and welfare of certain animals with no regard for implications of the displacement of man. David then ends this psalm with the very words he used in opening the psalm. “Oh Lord our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth.”
David is expressing a heart of thanksgiving and praise as seen in the first two verses. It has similarities from his comments from the previous psalm. David then speaks of God’s ability to move against his enemies. He has assurance of God’s hand of protection upon him as well even in the midst of great difficulty. The Lord has given David a perspective which reflects some of the attributes of Zion. He has fought through abandonment, discouragement and great confusion during his time of fleeing from Saul. He had many mighty men gather around him after his time at Ziklag. They were able to return to Jerusalem; then was able to establish the Ark upon the Holy hill of Zion (2 Sam 5). It was while David was ruling upon Zion that the land was at Rest from war. The Fear of the Lord was upon the people and upon other nations. David makes a reference to Zion in verse 11.
Psa 9:11 Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.
Zion is a dwelling place of righteousness and serves as a habitation for those who trust in the Lord.
Psa 125:1 A Song of degrees. They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.
In verses 13-20 we find David petitioning the Lord for God’s mercy and help against those who would seek to harm and trouble him. He seems to be reflecting upon past seasons where God so moved on his behalf. Was he in trouble and distress at this time? Is this event on the heels of his sin with Bathsheba; or is David praying this prayer while reigning over all of Israel soon after his 3rd anointing? Prior to David’s sin Israel had tremendous rest from all enemies. The enemy gained an advantage after his sin but God still vindicated David from his foes. He seems to be exhibiting a Zion based perspective in his prayer to God. There is an abiding place in God. In the days to come we need to at least press into the Holy Place of God. It is there where one can find protection and an Ark of safety.
Psa 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Psa 91:2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
If we are walking circumspectly with God we have nothing to fear. Jesus spoke of such a time when the world would be in tribulation but His people were to be of good cheer (John 16:33). David could make these statements from the position of Zion. This will not be true of all believers in the last days. Zion is a dwelling place (spiritual) that is afforded to all believers but not all will attain. There will be believers who will refuse to subscribe to some or all of the 15 requirements that enables one to reign in Zion (Psa 15, 24). The church of the last days is called to the dwelling place of spiritual Zion. It will be the abiding place of the true king and priest. This is why David had the privilege of bringing the Ark to Zion. He was not just a king who came from the tribe of Judah; he was also a priest after the order of Melchizedec, not Levi. Our emphasis in these last days has to be focused on both aspects of Christ as king and priest. The authority and perspective that David conveyed in Psalm 9 is also meant for us. The distinction in Psalm 9 is quite clear as we see the Holy God who judges righteously contrasted with the wicked one who will be destroyed eternally in hell (vs 17). Psalm 9 is a reminder of our call to Zion.
1 Cor 2
Paul counters the wisdom and cultural mind-set of the Greeks by making clear that he came to them in humility and unfanciful speech. He came to them in a way that most would find unnatural and weak. His only concern was that their focus would be on his message of Christ crucified. It was in this approach where he was able to demonstrate the power of God. His glory and source of strength came from knowing Christ as the crucified one. The Corinthian in his natural state would never glory in such a thing. How do you think they would view Christ in his tortured and battered body upon the Cross? Is there anything to glory about in the Cross? Can one find any semblance of power and esteem in that specimen of a man hanging upon a wooden tree? Is this a real man? Let’s be honest as we seek to answer some of these questions ourselves.
How would you define true leadership? How would Jesus stack up amongst the modern day criteria used to evaluate success? Do you think Jesus was truly an effective leader? How many were there to rally around him in his true hour of need? How big was his congregation or following at the end? I think the church world would assess Him as a wimp if the truth were to be told. Here is Jesus as the saviour of mankind reduced to a pathetic figure upon a Cross. Let’s face it; by today’s churched standards He would be deemed a failure.
Jesus was anything but a failure. What took place at the Cross was the greatest demonstration of God’s power to man. Paul, knowing that the Greeks prided themselves on machismo took the opportunity to come across as an unassuming man while in their midst. He placed all of his emphasis on the Cross and all that was achieved there. What a beautiful way to present the gospel in the middle of a culture that emphasized human pride and achievement. There is certainly nothing wrong with gaining success in life. One of the greatest methods of contrasting true success and failure is seen at the Cross. The world sees no value, benefit or power in the Cross. The reality is it’s the power of God manifested.
Paul builds upon this theme by speaking of a hidden wisdom that the world cannot perceive. It is a mystery and if it were truly known there would have been no crucifixion of the Son of God (vs 8). Paul then refers to an Old Testament verse when speaking about the greatness of God and all that he will do:
1Co 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (also Isa 64:4).
What a beautiful promise this is. This is one of those verses however that can be easily abused. I once listened to a nomination speech of a presidential candidate (who indeed did become president) where he invoked the above verse. He basically said “eye hath not seen nor ear heard the great things we can do…” Do you detect a measure of presumption in that particular rendering? The alteration may seem slight to the casual hearer but is a dangerous and damaging one. This was part of the Corinthian problem; they did church on their terms which led to chaos and occasional lawlessness. Paul, as a spiritual father is now coming in with counsel based on what he had heard. He had a reputation and was known of them having spent some 18 months earlier amongst them. By the way, that same presidential candidate quoted another verse in his nomination acceptance speech. It was taken from Pro 29:18 and this is what he said: “Where there is no vision the people perish…” This is another oft mentioned verse and would seem appropriate when seeking to positon oneself to be elected a president of the United States. There is just one problem with his rendering, he did not finish the verse which says: “…Happy is he who keeps the law.” I guess it should not be surprising when one looks back at his 8 year reign. I will never forget those two verses and how they were presented. Ok, better get back to the text.
Paul concludes this chapter by comparing the spiritual man with the natural man. He goes to great length to illustrate that a person of the world cannot ascertain the things of the Spirit; to the world the things of the Spirit are foolishness. Man prides himself as being superior which was especially true amongst the Corinthians. Paul closes by making a statement which is very similar to the one he made when writing to the Jews and Gentiles in Rome. It is only the Spirit of God that knows the mind of God; it is through the Spirit where these things then can be made known to man.
Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Rom 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
The Corinthian churches were spiritual babes; there were many problems that needed addressing however they were open to the Spirit of God. Paul is giving the needed correction to help steady and establish them. The potential of the Spirit of God working through open and yielded vessels is limitless provided there is good solid teaching and instruction. It should not be dismissed due to some of the problems that are seen here. Today, we need the manifestation of the person of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This can only be experienced to the extent we allow Him access to our own temple. It is initiated when Jesus baptises us into His (The Holy Spirit) person. A good review of Jesus final weeks before the Cross will find extensive teaching on the Holy Spirit. It is for good reason and Paul’s letter(s) to the Corinthian church further substantiates this.