Day 202

PSALMS 22:1 – 24:10 and 1 CORINTHIANS 7:1–40

Psa 22
This psalm of David helps to give a vivid picture of the suffering saviour. It is not clear when David penned this psalm but it was through a period of great distress. It helps us to have a better understanding in knowing Jesus, as the Son of Man. Jesus uttered many of the words that David brought forth here. We see this right from verse 1.

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? Jesus cried out to the Father in the same words in Math 27:46.This psalm also helps us to see why David’s heart is so closely entwined with God’s. David’s life as a fugitive running from Saul does not make sense in the natural. He is anointed and has the call of becoming a king upon him yet he has to run for his life. God was able to portray a picture of what His suffering Son would endure when He would one day come as a MAN for the sins of mankind.

In verse 1 we also come to know the anguish of the Father as He could not look upon the One who had now become sin. The Son who, the Father loved has now become the object of everything He disdained, which was SIN.

2Co 5:21  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

The separation between Father and Son at that moment was very real as the wrath of the Father was being poured out upon His Son who had now drank from the cup of sin (Luke 22:42). David’s trial was painful which put him into a similar sentiment as seen in Jesus, a sense of the Father’s loss of concern or interest. This was certainly not the case.

In verses 2-3 the Lord and David realize that it’s because of God’s holiness that prayer was being hindered and unanswered. David then went on to recollect how God rescued their father’s in times past and brought them into a place of abundance. He laments that this is not the case for him, he is a worm, despised and mocked of men. This is what happened to Jesus while He was dying upon the Cross. Let us never forget that Jesus was always the Son of God; He never ceased from being God but upon the Cross he died as the Son of Man. Jesus laid aside His divine privileges when He became man. This psalm helps us to appreciate this truth; we are viewing the Son of man going through extreme torment and suffering as the Son of Man. This act thus paves the way for man to have opportunity to then become more like God. We as sinful men, can come to the place of becoming more like God Himself because of what Jesus accomplished at the Cross. Our part is to respond and receive this gift by faith and learn to appropriate the finished work of the Cross daily as we learn to die to the flesh. Do we truly understand all that Jesus accomplished at the Cross, do we appreciate the torment and suffering He endured to bring us to this place. We need to let this Psalm sink deep within our Spirit.

In verses 6-21 we capture many of the scenes and sayings that surrounded Jesus while upon the Cross. It is amazing to see how David is able to give us this glimpse through his own trial and suffering. David’s anguish may have made no sense at the time but we can see the wisdom of God at work as we are beneficiaries in coming to know more of our Saviour through David’s life.

In verse 22 we have a triumphant declaration of Christ being made in His time of agony. He was looking forward to the time when He would declare God’s name in and through the midst of God’s saints in the days to come. This thought is picked up in Heb 2:12 and also through the prophet Zephaniah:

Zep 3:17  The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

Have you ever been in a service where you can sense God singing in the midst of the congregation? It is a profound experience filled with a heightened anticipation of God moving powerfully. Do we cultivate an atmosphere where He would be pleased to come and sing within our midst? This is why I have found the scripture in song worship services in my early years to be so meaningful. There is something about singing scriptural songs. In verses 26-31 we see qualifications and aspects of ruling and reigning during the millennial reign of Christ. It will be those who declare and live according to His righteousness. A thorough and contemplative study in Psalm 22 will help put within us the same cry that Paul had when he longed to be part of that first resurrection company. Is this our desire as well?

Php 3:10  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

Psa 23
This beloved and favourite psalm of many was written at a time of great distress in David’s life. Its message brings great comfort to men but it comes as the result of great pain in David’s life. These words were birthed from an experience of one who is journeying through a dark valley. His journey and testimony serves as a reference and anchoring point for us. This was the period in his life when he was fleeing from Absalom. David in his early years was a shepherd and he is able to portray the Lord as a Shepherd who is able to lead and guide His sheep through times of trouble as well as bring them into nourishing pastures. David had this privilege as a shepherd boy leading, defending and guiding sheep; he now is on the other side of this equation as a sheep under the skilful loving hands of the Great Shepherd.

Joh 10:11  I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

In verse 1 we see the absolute dependence the sheep have for the shepherd. The shepherd has a paid a price for his sheep just as Jesus did when he died upon the Cross. He will take care of them and he will ensure that they are nurtured and well attended. A good shepherd is contrasted with a hireling; this is one who employs self-interest and has little regard for the overall welfare of the sheep. This was seen in the two sons of Eli the high priest who abused their position of priests and shepherds by enriching themselves at the expense of the flock (1 Sam 2:16-17). There are many such hirelings today. A good pastor or shepherd is willing to even lay his life down for those He has the care and oversight of. The needs of the sheep come before the shepherd and he makes sure they are met. A good shepherd knows when and how to bring his sheep into a good place of pasture for rest and refreshing. He is not always driving the flock to exhaustion and fatigue. He ensures that there are seasons of refreshing for the soul coupled with the building up of truth and the righteousness of God.

Can you see how David is taking the analogy of sheep and the shepherd and linking it to the Lord’s leading as a shepherd and we as His sheep? He seeks to lead us in the paths of righteousness but are we willing to go there? What about being led through the valley of the shadow of death; are we willing to go there? In Christianity today there seems to be a place where we as the sheep of the shepherd can make a choice as to whether we will journey down these roads. In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress we see Christian being led down this horrible road into the valley of the shadow of death. Countless travellers are seen turning and running back exhorting Christian to do the same. I feel this is an apt portrayal of the true picture. Christian was found reciting scripture as he went through this horrible reality. The valley of the shadow of death is a very real experience in the life of a believer. The Lord as our Good Shepherd has the ability to see us through but we must allow Him to lead us. Sad to say, many do not trust Him simply because they really do not know Him.

David came to the place of seeing how God was doing something supernatural through his journey. He saw how the enemy was actually bread for him in growing more into the stature of Christ. This was how Caleb and Joshua saw their respective “valley of the Shadow of Death” as they were about to cross over the Jordan. They saw the enemy as bread and not as something to be feared and be intimidated by. They knew their God and they knew of His ability to fight and bring them through. All of the others ran back because they really did not know God. David, Caleb and Joshua and many others saw experiences like these as God’s mercy and goodness (vs 6). They recognized that the Lord is indeed a Great Shepherd and is well able to lead them throughout all of their life time journeys. Can we say the same thing?

Psa 24
This is the 2nd of the qualifying Psalms that David writes concerning ruling and reigning upon Mt. Zion. He begins by saying that the earth and everything contained in it is the Lord’s. He has established it upon the seas and is able to withstand floods and testing that would come from the elements. In other Words, whatever God establishes shall stand. He has founded Zion and all it represents and those who attain (spiritually) unto Zion will also stand and be strong.  Consider one of the verses of the Pilgrim Psalms which will be seen later in our study.

“They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mt. Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.” (Psa 125:1)

Zion represents many things but among them is stability and strength. We find in verse 3 that the hill of the Lord also speaks of the Holy Place. There is this notion that any Christian can casually come into the Holy Place at their discretion. It will be said that the death of Jesus opened the door and the way for man to enter into the holiest of all. That is the truth but the Bible makes it clear that there is a way of approach, an appropriation of the blood that paves the way unto Zion.

”But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

David further establishes several more qualification that need to be fulfilled before one can ascend the Holy Hill. In verse 4 he speaks of clean hands and a pure heart. Are we willing to walk in the light; are we willing to embrace and have a love for truth in our heart? When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he spoke of a people who do not have a “love for the truth” (2 Thess 2:10). The result of such an attitude is a recipe for delusion and deception. Many today are deceived that all is well in their life; they operate under a false sense of security and approval of God. The sentiment of presumption is also seen in this group as they go about serving God on their terms of convenience.

Those who do have the vision birthed in their heart and seek to live according to its values have the benefit of blessings and the gifts of righteousness. This is a righteousness that is worked within the life of a believer where he or she do in fact become righteous.  Remember what Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans?

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith. (Rom 1:17)

It is a process that is developed over time one step at a time as we go forth from faith to faith. It requires a series of decisions as to whether we will allow God to have His way and His work established in our lives. We see this well illustrated in Peter’s closing exhortation on the steps needed in building upon the foundation of faith (2 Pet 1:5-7). It is in Zion where we see the coming of the King of Glory. It is the place the Lord has chosen for himself; the place for His habitation. Zion was a physical piece of ground that David took. It was in this piece of ground where he established a new order of praise and worship that went outside the structure of worship seen in Moses Tabernacle. It was a place where David functioned as both king and priest. We are called to be kings and priests to the most high God coupled with the call to ascend His Holy Hill. Is it worth it? Will we be willing to let go of tradition and the old way of doing things so as to obtain the prize? It is not enough to sings songs about going into the holy place and holiest of all; there are qualifications and there is a price that will need to be paid. The cry is to lift up our heads and prepare the way for the soon coming King of Glory and the Lord of Hosts. It is given to those who have allowed the Lord to develop the qualities seen in Psa 15 and 24. Don’t you think it’s worth it?

1 Cor 7
This chapter will address many issues surrounding marriage. In today’s society we see marriages under intense attack. If a union between a husband and wife can be divided it will have an effect upon the home and upon society. Human history in many ways has not changed. Satan was effective in bringing a bit of separation between Adam and Eve at the time of the fall and the subsequent fallout is still being felt. Paul is going to give instruction that will help to answer many of the questions and issues that the Corinthian church was struggling with. In verse one we see Paul dishing out “common sense” but it is a message that is seldom heeded. A man and woman outside the realm of marriage should not be touching each other. Yet, everything we see today promotes this kind of behaviour whether it is fashion, lifestyle or media. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil has had an extreme makeover and far too many are partaking of its poison. A relationship that is developing between mature adults should be respectful and chaste in their behaviour. Paul follows up in verse 2 by making the point that most people should be in marriage. There should be a mutual respect and honouring that takes place between the husband and wife.  It was believed that Paul was at one time married prior to this letter. Many commentators believed that his wife had died. He was single at the time of this letter.

In verses 3-5 Paul speaks of the responsibility that the husband and wife have one towards another. In marriage two become one; there is both a physical and spiritual joining that takes place in a marriage. It is important to illustrate these truths due to the symbolism of the love relationship between Christ and His bride the church. In verses 7-9 Paul speaks of the benefits of being single. Paul was well aware of many of the pressures that come upon marriage such as financial, time and children matters. Paul was given a unique task and ministry and he benefitted from being single seeing it allowed him to travel and to endure the rigors of suffering in prisons without being attached. This was the call that was upon Paul but how many have that magnitude of calling? If one is called to be single then there is grace to fulfil that call without having to suppress the inner passions of desire which can develop into unhealthy habits. There is grace for whatever God has called us to do.

In verses 10-11 Paul speaks to the sanctity of marriage. In the previous verses Paul was giving his opinion about singleness but here he emphasizes that it is God’s command and not man’s that is about to be given. What is God’s command that Paul is referring to?   The command makes clear that if there is a separation between a husband and a wife than there is to be no marrying to another. The command does make provision for reconciliation between divided couples which is always the preferred option in such circumstances.

In verses 12-14 Paul speaks of the blessing that one believing spouse can bring to a household of unbelievers. There will be situations that will find one spouse to be following the Lord while the other remains an unbeliever. This often happens during times of revival when one spouse receives a touch from God. As long as there is no physical threats of violence to a spouse or to the children it is advisable to continue to live together and seek for wisdom in how to navigate through the relationship that is honourable before God. The Lord can work miraculously in such homes where there is a believer. A saved believer in a home does not mean that the entire household is saved but it paves the way for God’s favor to help prepare the way for opportunity for other family members to taste of the kingdom. Don’t you think this chapter has already provided a measure of sage advice on the subject of marriage counselling? It is a shame that the church does not even heed Paul’s instruction; it is all right here.

It needs to be clearly stated that remarriage is only permitted upon the death of a mate. The only other exception that Jesus gave was due to fornication which would have taken place during the espousal period before marriage. Infidelity after marriage was always called adultery. This is a subject that could cover considerable ground but we are only commenting for now on what Paul is writing. We must understand that there is forgiveness and there are many opportunities to serve in the kingdom if one is divorced and remarried. We need to be very clear on what the Bible says concerning this issue and uphold the standard but we also must recognize that there are many people who are in such situations. This issue, perhaps more than any other is what is dividing the church today. We must be very clear on what the Bible says and not allow soulish inclinations to get in the way regardless of the position one takes on this issue.

The balance of chapter 7 is filled with further instruction to the Corinthians on the subject of marriage. I think we have to be honest in saying that the Corinthian problem is really a modern day church problem. The parallels are striking but the wisdom of Paul’s teaching still holds true. There is a worrying trend in many churches today to bend and conform to the cultural shifts of the day. We must approach scripture honestly and soberly to hear its voice and then to seek wisdom in properly appropriating its instruction. It must be done honourably and in humility. 1 Corinthians chapter 7 should be one of the supreme marriage manuals whether we are preparing for marriage, in a marriage, separated, divorced or even in a remarriage. It really covers all the bases and is very much needed today.