PSALMS 16:1 – 18:50 and 1 CORINTHIANS 5:1–13
This psalm is a reflection of the joy in being in the presence of the Lord. David had fought many battles and has been in many difficult trials but has always seen God come through for him. There is a beautiful blessing in coming into a position of trust. It is a process that is gained through time and testing. We can never appreciate many of the attributes of God unless we are in a place of need. At an early age I learned this when I began to jump into a pool of water that was over my head. My dad would keep saying that I could trust him but I had to learn to jump into the water. There was great reluctance initially but I remember taking the leap of faith into his arms. This was a foundational introduction what trust meant to me. I did not have the initial capability to jump and swim on my own but I learned what trust was all about. How much more can our heavenly Father be trusted? In fact, God is pleased and honoured when we come into this relationship with Him. He desires to show Himself strong on our behalf provided we are walking in obedience with Him. David could cry out a prayer of being preserved based on his trusting relationship with God that developed over time. We often make things so complicated while the Lord just wants us to learn child-like trust. In verse 2 David is relating the voice of his soul which is saying that the goodness of God is not extended towards him but unto all the other saints who are placed throughout the earth. We have and will continue to make the point as to how David is able to distinguish between his soul and his spirit. He expresses discouragement at times but he seems always to be able to summon the spirit man within him; to speak of God’s power and ability no matter what the circumstances. This level of relationship comes through seasons of extreme testing’s.
In verse 4 he speaks of those who seek after other gods. David lived at a time where this was still very prevalent. Hs son Solomon would in fact take the worshipping of other gods to another level. David made clear that he would have no part of their sacrifices or be engaged in their activities. It is so hard to believe that Solomon would fall prey to this after the warnings and instruction of his parents in addition to the wisdom and understanding that was bestowed upon him. It all started with one alliance (Pharaoh’s daughter) which opened a Pandora’s Box of idolatry.
David the psalmist now speaks eloquent of the Lord as being the portion of his inheritance. This is no trivial matter. What do you think about when you think of your heavenly inheritance? Is it the mansion that the Lord said He would go and prepare for us (John 14)? Is it a picturesque scenic piece of land where you can forever worship the Lamb? What about the Lord Himself being one’s inheritance? This is what David longed for because he recognized that in His presence was joy forevermore. We also see the Lord being the inheritance of the faithful priesthood of Zadok (Eze 44:28). David understood the key in being able to rule and reign effectively; it was to always have the Lord before him in all that he did (vs 8). This helped to ensure a boldness; an ability to stand in the midst of opposition. It is this level of relationship we need to seek for to be able to stand against the tidal wave of evil that is now being unleashed.
David seems to be shifting gears throughout this psalm. He makes a statement in verse 10 which is actually prophetic of Christ;
Psa 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
David ends this Psalm by speaking a verse that most Christians have come to know and love; “In thy presence is fullness of joy”. The joy of the Lord is the perfect antidote for many of the ills of life we see in today’s world. May we come to know the joy of the Lord and know of its strength and power.
David is a man who is demonstrating a confidence in his relationship with God. He was confident that the prayers that came forth were prayers that were heard. David was also confident that God was faithful and fair as a judge and that whatever would be meted towards him would be with equity. He was also confident that he has allowed God to test and try his heart and that he had been proven through his journey in life (vs 3). These are pretty bold declarations but they are not without precedent. There are many occasions where we see David being transparent and open before the Lord. Many close and hide their heart but David was willing to be exposed. In Psa 26:2 he asked the Lord to try his heart; to examine its reins and motives. This is a very mature prayer which requires a strong character and makeup. David was also a man who loved the law of God and found it to be perfect and worthy to be pursued more than silver or gold (Psa 19:7-10). He also saw the Fear of the Lord as a precious treasure. When we understand some of these qualities concerning David we can appreciate and understand how he can make these bold statements.
He continually cries out to God to preserve his way and keep his steps (vs 5-6). He then prays a prayer that was also an early charismatic song that I learned as an early believer. “Keep me Lord, as the apple of thine eye” (vs 8). This is one of the fruits of intimacy, a knowing that you are beloved of God and that His attention is towards you. God does commend his love to us while we are yet sinners (Rom 5:8) but we see His affection drawn to those who love His ways, His heart and His Law. God loves those who hear His Word, Obey His Word and choose to walk closely with Him. His love is commended to all men even while in sin but His heart draws nigh to those who choose to respond to Him. Does this mean that God is being partial: does this mean that God has favourites; in a word YES. His love is commended to all equally; it’s His desire that all men would choose to be saved but not all men will respond and choose to be saved. In the end we are the product of the choices we make in life; may God help us to learn to respond to His voice and make right choices.
In verses 9-12 David speaks of the enemy and of some of his traits and ways. He likens them to a lion that is greedy of its prey, secretly lurking to strike at a moment’s notice. This is the reason why we must have heightened vigilance in these days (1 Pet 5:8). He seeks to strike when a people are in a weak or vulnerable situation. He works in stealth mode and we must be on alert; not be distracted by his many tools of allurement that allow for our defences to come down.
The remedy for David was his prayer that God would arise and disappoint the enemies’ efforts while being delivered from his clutches. How is this done? David said it is by way of His sword! This speaks of the weapon of God’s Word and the ability to wield it skilfully and wisely. One of the primary tactics of the enemy is to diminish, alter or outright dismiss the teaching and instruction of God’s Word. This psalm ends with the ambitious vision that David had before him; to not be satisfied until he awoke with his likeness. This was the serpents offer to Eve if she would partake of the fruit of the forbidden tree (Gen 3:5-6). It is God’s desire that we indeed become more and more like Him. The power of what was accomplished upon the Cross helps to pave the way for this to become a reality. The death of Jesus was for much more than our salvation it was the opportunity to experience “salvation to the uttermost” (Heb 7:25). David is again expressing many thoughts from this Psalm that goes beyond his current dispensation. He was speaking forth a relationship and vision that God holds before us as saints who are living in the last days. Do we really appreciate the greatness of David and how he was indeed a man born out of time? Let’s honour his life by stepping into that which he puts forth from this psalm. This and the previous psalm were penned by David in his closing battles with Saul. It was at the time when David could see the sovereignty of God at work. He could see Saul as being God’s anointed man over his life. What a perspective that David was able to exhibit and it is seen in its fullness in these last two psalms.
This psalm was sung on the heels of the victory against Goliath and the some of the battles that David had with Saul. We examined a bit of this psalm when doing a review of 2 Samuel 22. We highlighted the many different songs that are found in this psalm that have been sung in churches in recent years, particularly during the period of the charismatic movement. The songs are all triumphant ones and they reflect the great joy and rejoicing of the many deliverances David came to know through the Lord. These songs capture the depths of anguish and despair of the many battles David went through followed by the glorious deliverances of the Lord. The heavens bowed and came down; the Lord gave His voice, arrows and lightning’s shot forth in response to David’s cries for help. I have personally benefited from many of the songs derived from this psalm. I can easily call to mind a conference worship service from 1984 when we were all singing a song entitled “The Lord Liveth”. There was such a triumphant thrust coming forth as we sang that song with great joy. There is a portion in that song that says “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so shall I be saved from my enemies, The Lord Liveth, blessed be my rock, let the God of my salvation be exalted…” (Psa 18:3, 46) (I am getting carried away as I write this; it is coming back to me so strongly).
Great songs of triumph come as a result of conflicts and battles. They are inevitable in the life of a true believer. David learned warfare at an early age as a trusted faithful shepherd boy. Moses learned similar traits of the Lord as a faithful keeper of sheep in the land of Midian. It is often how we handle the day to day battles of life that determines our long term effectiveness as a warrior in God’s army. In reading through Psalm 18 you see a young man so enraptured with His God; speaking of Him in glowing terms at every opportunity. Do we speak of God in a similar way? How do you think the Lord feels when one of His own speaks of Him in such a way?
There are 50 verses in Psalm 18. David only uses two verses (4-5) to speak of the power of the enemy and how he is overwhelmed by him. The balance of the verses highlights the strength and ability of God. There is much to learn from this. Are the words we bring forth to God focused primarily on our need and problem or rather upon glorifying God? There are reasons why God would answer the prayers of David. First, he was one who loved righteousness and sought to live accordingly (vs 20). He also kept the ways of the Lord and always had His judgements and precepts before him (vs 21-22). He then goes on to make the following statement:
Psa 18:25 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;
Psa 18:26 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.
How we treat other people is an indicator as to how God will treat us. Jesus said “blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” (Mat 5:7). Jesus also went on to say “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Math 5:8). Can you see the link in David’s words to the Beatitudes of the Lord? It further validates how David helps to give a picture and glimpse into the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. We would do well to study this psalm and learn of its many songs. The day in which we live will have many intense battles and such songs will be needed to help prepare and usher in the triumphant return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Cor 5
The Corinthian church was making allowance for some very serious sins one of which will be addressed in this chapter. Paul was greatly concerned because he knew the potential of leaven that if unchecked could spread and permeate like wildfire. This is not just a matter of dealing with one offender; if unchecked this sin can cripple a whole church. Paul is seeking to warn the Corinthians of their error and to join with him in condemning this sin so that the man might be saved as well as the whole of the church. There was known sin of incest, a sin that even horrified the heathen, let alone the church. Paul speaks to this in verses 1-2. Think about this for a moment. There is a known matter of serious sin and the church is tolerating it. In fact, they are boasting about being relevant and cutting edge in their tolerance of this abomination. Paul is saying why have you not dealt with this issue?
Paul’s concern here is two-fold. He is concerned for the person who is committing the act and for the church that is responsible for the discipline. Paul wasted no time in declaring judgement over this issue; he determined to have him turned over to Satan for a season so that his flesh would be destroyed and his spirit saved. Paul was not there in person but he could judge in spirit. This is part of the greatness of the Apostle. He was able to teach, admonish and encourage while being removed from a particular church. We see this throughout his prison epistles. This issue here was very clear. There was known and reported incest taking place in the church and it was being tolerated. It did not take great spiritual discernment to determine what had to be done. What was appalling and of concern was the lack of urgency and godly fear from within the church itself.
Why does such a thing happen? Is it due to a redefining of God’s love in the name of tolerance to the ever changing culture of the day? How does one become a Corinthian church, do they exist today? I personally feel when the standards of God are relaxed it opens the door for the redefinition of God’s love and tolerance. I also feel it involves a measure of pride because a Corinthian mind-set was one that elevated itself above others. It’s an understanding of the human condition and culture that paves the way for new ways of applying doctrine. In short, a Corinthian church comes into being when doctrinal standards become laxed and altered.
In verse 6-7 Paul is emphatic about purging out the old leaven. The amazing thing is that they were glorying in their tolerance. Paul warned the entire church to the seriousness of this issue; if not dealt with it would permeate and catch fire within the church. He wanted to immediately nip this issue in the bud. In verse 8 Paul speaks of unleavened bread. It is interesting to note that Paul makes reference to all of the 7 primary feasts of Israel in his letters to the Corinthians. In verse 7 he referred to Christ as the Passover which of course speaks of one’s salvation experience. He now refers to the 2nd feast of unleavened bread. This is appropriate because they were celebrated together. Unleavened bread speaks of the pure doctrine of Christ something the Corinthian church had already veered away from. Paul is illustrating the need for basics and he does this skilfully by referencing the Old Testament Feasts of Israel.
In verses 9-13 Paul warns the church about who they keep company with. This is a basic foundational truth; we are known by those whom we associate with (Psa 1:1). We like to be around those who echo the tendencies of our own heart. If our heart seeks after God we will then look to be around those who are like minded. If our heart gravitates towards the things of the world then it should be of no surprise that we become more like the world. We need to ask the Lord to help us be salt in the midst of a corrupt world and culture. This is one of the primary challenges facing the church today! How can the church serve as a witness and be relevant in a decadent and self-glorifying world? Do we seek to become wise and clever to find common ground of understanding with the world? This is what the Corinthian’s were doing and they were proud of it. Paul was writing with urgency to arrest this cancer, stop it from spreading while seeking to rally the Corinthians to his view in how to judge this matter.
Sad to say this condition of the Corinthian church is very much alive today. Where are the voices of the true father’s, the Paul’s that can speak correction in love and help put the church back on solid footing. It’s true, though there are 10 thousand instructors in churches today there are very few true fathers and mothers (1 Cor 4:15).