PSALMS 10:1 – 12:8 and 1 CORINTHIANS 3:1–23
David is in a time of distress and feels as if God is distant and indifferent. He is also seeing the enemy prospering which is only adding to his woes. I think we have to get used to seasons like this because it is seen throughout history. There are times when life does not seem fair especially when weighing our own situation against others. As a child I constantly had this complaint. Why do all my friends get to do certain things and I can’t? I hated hearing the reasoning’s given like “it’s for your own good.” Well, I have now about 40 years of observation to conclude that my parents were right. Many of their decisions were indeed for my own good and I am grateful for it. If this is true in a typical family situation then how much more with our loving heavenly Father? He truly has our best interest at hearts but oftentimes it may not seem like that is the case.
In verse 1 David is not seeing God in his current situation. In verses 2-11 he puts his entire focus upon the enemy. He speaks of his benevolence towards those who are covetous; a people that the Lord abhors (vs 3). He (the enemy) boasts in his pride and arrogance and gives absolutely no regard to God. You can also see the culmination of pride in verse 6 when he speaks of his never being moved in adversity. Man has a sense of fearlessness when evil is pervasive. There is an air of invincibility that such people carry with them. That can all change in a heartbeat. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is seen at the time of Belshazzar’s Feast in Daniel 5. In one moment the king and his guests are toasting the god of forces while mocking the true and living God. You see such scenes even today. In one moment, without any notice there is the hand that appears and writes the inscription upon the wall. The boastful king is now shaken to the core, knees buckling while losing sense of faculties. Make no mistake, God is not mocked. Yes, the enemy seems to be in the ascendancy at times but we must never lose sight of the big picture. God is on the throne. David does understand this but when you are the one in the heat of the battle it can be intense. We as believers must learn from examples like David and others. There are many treasures and lessons that we can glean when going through our own personal struggle. God may seem like he is distant but He is always there. If David and others went through this so will the leaders of today. We must always pray to the Lord for the ability to see the bigger picture.
David does provide some insights into the enemy’s tactics. He is one who lurks in the secret places; looking to strike from a position of stealth. He seeks out the poor and vulnerable in spirit (vs 9-10). It is so important, especially in these last days that we be surrounded by a strong body of believers. We need to strengthen and be strengthened by the prayers and encouragement of others. The enemy will always seek to divide and separate the body of believers. If successful, they become isolated, filled with their own thoughts and eventually become an easier prey. Today, more than ever we need to gather together as a strong body under the unction of the Holy Spirit; to derive the blessings and strength that hold us steady in these volatile times.
In verses 12-18 David changes course and proclaims God as being able to destroy the arm of the wicked one. In several of the psalms we have seen David express the two sides of the equation. He has many times of distress where the enemy seems to hold sway and he expresses it accordingly. He then is able to see God as being above all; having the ability to counter and destroy his devices. This is one of the qualities of David. His soul would come into places of being overwhelmed but his spirit man in the end would prevail. The spirit man is fed by the assimilating of God’s Word and His ways. It is also fed by contemplative meditation on the things of God as seen in Psalm 8. This helps to bring perspective and to see God as being above all things. His life helps to give insight into a well-known New Testament verse:
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
David expresses the content of his soul in verses 1-11 but then summons the spirit man to proclaim God’s sovereignty in verses 12-18. It is a familiar pattern in many of his psalms. It is David who constantly exhorted himself with this cry; “Bless the Lord O my soul and everything within me bless His holy name” (Psa 103:1). May this be our cry as well.
It appears that this psalm was penned while David was in that period of fleeing from Saul. There are many similar thoughts conveyed here as seen in the previous psalm. First and foremost David puts his trust in the Lord, even in the midst of a strong enemy presence. As we continue our journey through the psalms we gain tremendous insight into the how the enemy functions. He is an opportunist, waiting for the right moment to strike. We must never underestimate his abilities. He may allow a season of prosperity to take hold before attacking because he knows the damage of what pride can do. It is with this thought in mind where we look at verse 3. It is one of the most fundamental yet profound verses found in the whole of the Word of God.
Psa 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
Most of us are well acquainted with the account from Luke’s gospel concerning the two foundations (Luk 6:46-49). A work or building can go up quickly and have the appearance of strength and prosperity. It will have an attraction to the natural eye and will draw the attention of many. The question is what kind of foundation is it built upon. The enemy gains greater victories when church related ministries are built up and flourishing; works that are not built upon solid foundations. At the appointed time he attacks those weak foundations and the crash that results is a comprehensive one. There are many such tragedies that can be cited from scripture and from modern day examples. We need to be very clear; the enemy attacks and tests foundations. In fact, it is God that allows it because every work will be tested, either now or before the judgement seat of Christ.
The Book of Genesis is the Book of Origins and it is this Book that Satan attacks more than any other. Why is this? It is a book of foundations. If the foundations of Genesis can be undermined so goes the rest of the Bible; so goes the whole of the plan of God. The first foundation that Satan attacks is found in the first 4 words of the Bible.
“In the beginning God…” What do you find taught in the majority of schools worldwide today? It is a substitute and alternative to God being the creator. If this foundation is planted into the mind of a student at an early age it will shape his or her thinking in every area of their life. What about the foundation of marriage; the foundation of being created male/female; the foundation of being made in the image of God? Why is it that we see all of these institutions under attack today? It’s because if the foundations of these institutions can be destroyed what will the righteous be able to do? We need to read our Bibles so that we understand what is now playing out before us. The events seen in the world really should not be taking us by surprise.
In verses 4-5 David demonstrates perspective in stating that God is on the throne and over all things and it is He who is testing the children of men and the righteous. As we saw earlier with Job it is God who allows the enemy to test and see what sort of work or foundation we are built upon. Building a strong foundation is laborious work. Instead of a building going up that others can see and benefit from your efforts seem to keep going downwards. It is here where the enemy also attacks. The faithful man is threatened as he continually dig deeper in seeking to establish a solid and sustaining work. What makes such a trial more enduring is the realization that other works seem to be sprouting up around you effortlessly. They draw the crowds and the attention and it makes you look miniscule in comparison. The enemy strikes hard in seeking to put you in doubt and frustration. Will you give up or will you press on? One of the strongest areas of attack for those seeking to lay a strong foundation is in the area of doctrine. It may seem subtle at the first but it can have deadly results if compromise sets in. Here is one such example:
Gen 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
This is a foundational statement of Satan which helps to establish the origin of many false doctrines. God spoke clearly that the consequence of disobedience to His Word concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be death (Gen 2:16-17). Satan has taken this absolute and sought to “smoothen” the sting of death by essentially saying that a loving God would never allow you to die, c’mon what kind of God do you serve? It is here where you have the origins of the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” Everything, absolutely everything that we see in life and that we see with regard to the kingdom can be found in seed form in the Book of Genesis. This is why this foundational book is so vital for our understanding. Jesus clarified doctrine by referring back to the beginning (Math 19, Mark 10). We need to honestly ask what kind of foundation we are standing upon. It is not enough to say or sing I am standing on the solid rock. Are we; what are our doctrinal positions; are we allowing the Lord to root and plant us? David had a heart that sought hard after God; he was a man who could still see a bigger picture even while going through trials. His life and example are essentials for us today. May our lives be like those trees planted by the living waters whose roots go deep and have an ability to stand strong and flourish in the midst of adversity.
Jer 17:7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
Jer 17:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
This is a short psalm of only 8 verses but containing many profound thoughts. It appears that it is written around the time of Psalm 11 while he is under threat from Saul. It bears repeating that David was anointed to be king, had slain Goliath, married the daughter of the king and yet finds himself in the midst of strife and trouble. He feels alienated as a godly man living in an arena of ungodly men. This is a proving ground for virtually every Christian; to function in a place where one is surrounded by ungodly people and elements. How to retain a testimony in such an atmosphere? Are we able to plough forward or do we waver and cower before the opposing forces? The key for David was his ability to be able to cry out for help. It appears that many were not able to hold up to the pressures and burdens (vs 1). It is easier when you have others beside you who can encourage and shoulder some of your cares. The Lord is the ultimate one to turn to which David is able to do here.
In verse 2 he speaks of the flatterers and those who speak out of a double heart. The Apostle James mentions the double minded man as being unstable in all his ways (Jas 1:8). There is a tribe that fought alongside David as he approached Zion known as Zebulon (1 Chr 12:33). They were a well-disciplined army that were not of a divided heart. A divided heart will result in multiple loyalties; such a heart will have difficulty standing in the day of adversity. A man who flatters is one who seeks to say good things so as to obtain favor or some sort of benefit. If a person is of a double heart and prone to flattery they may well fall prey to the antichrist.
Dan 11:32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
This is exactly what Absalom sought to do when he later stood at the king’s gate (2 Sam 15:4-6). One of the qualities that will be constantly cited concerning David will be his heart. It was his heart that preserved him and allowed him to be the recipient of God’s mercy and restoration. A pure and upright heart should always be our aim (Math 5:8).
As in previous psalms David picks up a more positive tone about half way through. He speaks of the Lord arising and vindicating the poor and needy. He then speaks of the Word of the Lord being pure, like silver tried in a furnace, purified seven times. What an unusual yet beautiful way in describing the Word of the Lord. This speaks of its potential and of its value. Do we see it that way? How do you view the Word of the Lord? David is exhorting us to take a reverential approach in our study of the Bible. An anointed Word can bring healing, can bring correction and can bring release or even judgement to a situation or event. When the Word of God is mixed and birthed by faith it becomes limitless in what can be accomplished. Finally David makes a statement that we see in its fullness today. Just take a look at the rulers in several of the countries today. When evil men are exalted you find wickedness abounding everywhere. The main figurehead of a nation oftentimes has the ability to direct the law of land. When morality and absolute law is removed it opens the door for all kinds of wickedness. It is clearly a picture that will be seen in the end times. The first and last verse pretty well sums up the equation of the latter days. The godly men and women are yielding and giving way to wicked and vile leaders. David is presenting a very vivid portrayal of what has become the norm today.
1 Cor 3
Paul has to inform the church that his approach towards them is as a baby, a carnal Christian. It is a strong comment but certainly one that needed to be said. The problems that were being conveyed to Paul were serious and so it was important for Paul to get to the root of the matter. We have to know the mind of the Spirit at all times; there will be times where our approach towards people will need to be softer so as to gain their trust. There will be times when a more direct approach is needed seeing that failure to do so may exacerbate the problem. Paul was also very direct in telling them that to date he had only been feeding them the milk and basics of the Gospel. They were not ready for stronger meat and even now they are still not ready (vs 2). What were some of their problems? In verse 3 Paul makes mention of strife, envy and divisions among them. Is this not the case in many places today? In reality they were acting childish always comparing themselves to others while laying special claim to certain leaders like Paul, Apollos and others. Once again we see the enemy’s hand at work in trying to bring division amongst the brethren. It’s one of his primary devices that he employs today. Paul is telling them in effect to grow up (vs 3).
Paul is now introducing a theme that he will later develop and it is that of a body. Instead of striving and being envious of one another it is vital to know who you are; to know your gift and excel in it. This pursuit of discovery helps to establish an identity, something that is sorely lacking today. The groundwork is now being laid for the example of a body, the parts of the body, the gifts of the body and how the entire body is administrated by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12-14). This is the path that Paul feels to approach in seeking to bring order and growth to this carnal church. Paul also takes special care to make the point that in all things it is God that bringeth forth the increase. Paul wanted the Corinthians to get their eyes off personalities and unto Christ. The Corinthian letter should be delivered to the doorsteps of many of our churches. The one and only true foundation for any work is the Lord Jesus Christ. He must be at the center of it all. The works and ministry that we are involved in will be tested by fire. Every foundation will be tested; it is the basis for all that we do. The foundations will determine the strength and manner of our work and ministry. If they are weak they will not stand the test of time. The problem is that a weak foundation is only revealed after a period of time. A work or ministry can look flourishing with its weak foundation being veiled and hidden from view. One can be deceived that all is well while continuing to build upon that ministry or work while the undergirding support cracks and weakens. How best to ensure that our foundations are strong and secure? Paul addresses this in verses 16-17:
1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1Co 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
Paul brings the issue to the individual believer by commenting that we are all called to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit were to dwell in you He would then bring to light the needed areas of correction. If this is applied on an individual basis it would naturally flow out at a corporate level. The Holy Spirit puts the focus upon Jesus Christ, the one and only true foundation. Once again we are getting a window into the genius of the Apostle Paul. Can you see where he is going with this? The eyes of Corinthians were centered upon personalities; they were striving amongst each other, being envious which all contributed towards their carnality. Paul firstly wanted to stress the importance of each and every member while highlighting their uniqueness. He then placed emphasis upon Jesus Christ being the one and only true foundation stone. Paul then continued by placing emphasis on the Holy Spirit and to remind his audience that each of them were called to be the temple and abiding place of the Holy Spirit. If a person treats their body as a temple of the Holy Spirit then one can be assured that Jesus will be the true foundation. If a person has the Holy Spirit residing within they will be assured of knowing their position in the body while having opportunity in being able to express their unique “spirit given” gift.
Paul is aware of many of the serious issues confronting the church and he is going to soon address some of them. He is establishing a platform from which he can bring the correction. Paul is one who thinks things through. His approach is a comprehensive one. The tendency of many of us is to react in a “knee jerking” manner without giving thought to follow through and long term ramifications. Paul will address this church in strong terms but he first establishes a platform that not only enables him to administer the needed message but also a platform that will provide for the follow-through process. We learn so much from the messages that Paul brought to churches like the Corinthians while learning more about Paul the man and his methods.