PSALMS 25:1 – 27:14 and 1 CORINTHIANS 8:1–13
This psalm is a prayer for instruction and forgiveness. It was written by David sometime after the revolt of Absalom. It was at this time when many people were rising up against him as Absalom was gaining favor at the expense of the king. It is a wonderful psalm to reflect upon when going through a period of darkness. We can see in David’s prayer a maturity that is able to see God as sovereign and above all things. One of David’s strength’s was his ability to lift up his soul before God in times of trouble. This requires a great discipline especially when one’s soul is being overwhelmed. As said earlier this was one of David’s strength. David had great intimacy with God through his early years right up to the present and I believe this is what aided him in his ability to bless the Lord at all times. In verses 2-5 David was looking to be instructed by the Lord in knowing how to navigate through this crisis. He speaks of the Lord’s paths on several occasions in this psalm (vs 4, 10). He also speaks of the Lord’s tender mercies and loving kindnesses. He had many of the same revelations of God that Moses had when he asked God to show Him His ways (Exo 33:13, 18). David was a lover of Truth (vs 5) even when it exposed and hurt him (2 Sam 13). David knew the Lord well enough to understand that even while in distress he could be delivered and taught.
David knew that he had sinned grievously before the Lord and understood that this was part of the judgement that came as a result. He also knew that he had been forgiven hence his ability to trust and wait upon the Lord. If he was purely a soulish man he could have allowed condemnation to paralyze and hinder him from going on. This is an important truth to grasp because David could have just given up after what he had done in his sin. So many Christians today allow condemnation to sweep over their souls. They fail to grasp God’s ability to work a message of forgiveness, healing and restoration. Yes, there are consequences and certain judgements that come as a result of transgression but with God there is still hope. David’s soul could have been easily overrun on this occasion but he was able to lift it onto the Lord. David came to know and understand the fruit of meekness; (vs 9) he saw the ability of God to teach and work in all circumstances. He fully understood himself to be in the pathway of a teachable moment; even as a sinner he could be taught while in the pathways of God. A verse that I reflect upon often is verse 10:
Psa 25:10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
All the paths of God are mercy and truth. Once again we are seeing a very mature man make a profound statement. You will find mercy and truth linked together a total of 10 times in the Word of God. It is vital for us to have a love and embracing of truth. What happens when Truth confronts us? What happened when Truth confronted David? “Thou art the man…”(2 Sam 12:7) Think for a moment how David must have felt when TRUTH and reality hit him; the realization that he was an adulterer and a murderer, especially after ruling and reigning upon Zion. The key is in David’s response.
2Sa 12:13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
David found mercy before God because he quickly acknowledged his sin. The reality of TRUTH was balanced with MERCY. Remember, God will give mercy unto those whom He deems worthy to receive mercy. It is His prerogative. David’s receiving of mercy and forgiveness was not without precedent, he was sobered by his sin and was honest in his heart in allowing truth to confront and expose him. It was for this reason that he received mercy. This is why he can write this psalm with such maturity. Here is another verse where we see truth and mercy linked together:
Pro 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.
Can you see how beautifully truth and mercy balance and complement each other? This revelation enabled David to continue going forward. He paid a very heavy price for his transgression but he was given mercy. He was able to see how God could work in his current path of fleeing from Absalom while many others were turning against him. He could still go forward when most others would be victimized and stymied by condemnation. His soul was under anguish but His spirit man was strong; it is another occasion where David can say bless the Lord, O my soul. May we have this mature perspective in our walk as well. It starts with a heart that is transparent and open to God.
David gives another glimpse of his heart in the opening stages of this psalm. In verse 2 he invites the Lord to “examine the reins of his heart.” It is one of many such psalms where David is open and transparent before God. One sees in this psalm a distinction between those who love God as opposed to the congregation of evil doers (vs 5). David is very clear in distinguishing himself from those who hate God, who are vain and full of mischief. Why is David going to great lengths in seeking to make this distinction? It could be due to an event that had recently taken place. The background to this psalm could well be the assassination of Ishbosheth by Baanah and Rechab which is accounted in 2 Sam 4. David was very clear in making it known before the people at that time that he had nothing to do with this murderous act. His declaration convinced the people that he was not part of this plot. He also brought about swift judgement to the culprits. This act took place just prior to the bringing of the Ark to Mt Zion. It is a picture of the clear distinction that needs to come into the church of the last days. There will be no middle ground, we must either be all out and on fire for God or go the way of the cold and indifferent (Rev 3:16, 22:11).
In these last days we must be ever conscience of the company that we keep. As Christians we must not allow ourselves to get tangled up with the affairs of this life. One of the big problems that have taken place in recent years is the church’s attempt to become overly engaged in politics. The church needs to be a voice and needs to be salt and light but it has to be done on the Lord’s terms. We can pray for righteous leaders to be placed into public office but we must never lose sight that it is through the church where the manifest wisdom of God is displayed (Eph 3:10). This psalm is one of distinction and separation. David saw what had transpired regarding Ishbosheth and emphatically served notice that he is not to be numbered in any way with those who did the act. In these last days we should seek to separate the precious from the vile first in our own life and in how we live (Jer 15:19).
This psalm reveals the heart of David and his love for God at a younger age. It could have been written while he was fleeing from Saul after being betrayed by Doeg the Edomite. This account was covered in 1 Sam 22. We will see in this psalm the great love that David had for the presence of the Lord. In verses 1-3 David is declaring the Lord’s faithfulness even in the midst of his trial. He was on the run from Saul but he had experienced God’s faithfulness in times past on a number of occasions. He slew a bear and a lion while tending sheep and of course he brought down Goliath while everyone else was in fear and trembling. He loved God and he loved His presence. In verse 4 he makes a statement that has been put into several versions of song that we have been beneficiaries of:
Psa 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.
Throughout the whole of David’s life we see a wonderful trust and confidence that he had in the Lord. There is a term often used that goes like this; with greater levels comes greater devils. This was clearly true in David’s case. It is one thing to physically tear a bear or lion to pieces but it is even something greater to bring down a Goliath or to stand strong when armies and men are positioned against you. David would later demonstrate the keys in overcoming spiritual opposition. It all begins with relationship; to stare out at a night’s sky and get lost in its beauty, to see a creator’s handiwork and to know that this creator is his God (Psa 8). You also get the sense of singleness of eye that David had for the Lord. His focus and aim was solely fixated on the Lord. David loved the presence of the Lord; it was based on a relationship developed over time. The more time thinking and meditating upon the Lord and His goodness the more we will become like Him. The thoughts and the ways of the Lord became a part of David which is why he could face the most formidable of foes. He saw them through the lens of Almighty God (Isa 55:8-9). David was covered under the shadow of God due to his devotional life. God hid Him because he made the Lord his focus.
Zep 2:3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.
This aspect of David’s life needs to be emulated today. We look around and see evil encroaching on every side yet God is preparing his modern day David’s to take the battle to the enemy; to believe God in His ability to cover and protect his own. God will hear and answer the prayer of the upright with mercy (vs 7). God is looking for those who respond quickly to his overtures, those who respond with a full and open heart. This kind of heart will help ensure that we do not miss those days of His visitation. There are times when He can be found, times when He speaks uniquely and we do not want to miss them. We need to read Luke 19:41-44 very carefully and be warned by them. Jesus wept and lamented over Jerusalem because their window of opportunity passed them by. It is the kind of heart that David had that will keep us sensitive to the Lord’s heart and voice.
Another quality we see in David was His desire to be taught the ways and the paths of the Lord (vs 11). There will be times when our paths will not be clear coupled with opposition from the enemy. It is critical at such times that we do not make rash decisions nor become overwhelmed with discouragement. God will be found and His ways made known to those who seek him with a full heart. David had such assurance that God would come through otherwise he would have fainted and lost heart. One of the tactics of the enemy is to wear down the saints of the most high. His weapons are powerful and they are only thwarted by having a soul that can bless while being encouraged in the Lord. His final exhortation is to wait upon the Lord. David experienced this on a number of occasions and is more than qualified to speak on this subject. Wait upon the Lord, do not panic, do not make quick decisions but believe for the Lord to come through. David surely knows what He is talking about.
1 Cor 8
Paul is going to address the subject of “knowledge”. There is to be a godly pursuit of knowledge but there is also a knowledge that puffs up with pride. This was an issue with the Corinthians. There was also a problem with Gnosticism which promoted knowledge over faith. It was an intellectual form of Gospel which is really not a Gospel at all. It is rooted in Satan’s deception to Eve in the garden (Gen 3:5-6). When man partook of the forbidden fruit he tapped into a realm of knowledge that God had forbad. This knowledge is real and there is a power behind it because it is Satan inspired. At the same time there is knowledge that God wants His people to pursue after but it must be on God’s terms. Satan offered a counterfeit, a form of knowledge that is a shortcut into the supernatural. The Bible makes clear that in the last days knowledge shall increase (Dan 12:4). One of the seven spirits of the Lord is that of Knowledge (Isa 11:2-3).
Paul is going to speak on the right use of knowledge as it pertains to food offered to idols. There is some important instruction that we can learn and glean from. Paul has the interests of the entire body of Christ when he says to use knowledge properly. There were those who could eat meat and it would not affect their conscience. On the other hand there were those who did not have the knowledge or revelation that others had. To them the eating of meat would be a stumbling block. They were not mature in their conscience and they could struggle if they saw others eating meat.
Here is a modern day illustration to help make the above point. Let’s say I was a believer who came from an European background. In many countries drinking wine at a meal is commonplace, even amongst Christians. It is not a stumbling block or an issue. If I were to be seen drinking wine at a meal by a young believer it could prove to be an issue especially if that person struggles in the area of alcohol. It is not a problem for me but it could prove to be a stumbling block for that person. For loves sake and for the sake of the body of Christ I should exercise knowledge and abstain from the wine. I would do this because I see a bigger picture in seeking to keep the body of Christ strong. This is what Paul is addressing in this chapter with the Corinthians.
Paul will later be speaking about the body of Christ and how it needs to be built up and strong. Can you see how Paul is laying the groundwork for the familiar chapters of the body of Christ and the spiritual gifts to come (1 Cor 12-14)? Paul is a kingdom man in every sense of the word. He is a father who sees a much bigger picture than others. His motives and messages are geared for the overall strengthening and welfare of the body of Christ. His letters at times are hard hitting but he has the overall objective of bringing correction, healing and restoration to the church. The whole of chapter 8 is about doing that which is best and right for the benefit of all. In some cases it may require a bit of condescension in love so as to accommodate the overall interest of the church (vs 1). In summary, Paul does everything in love. In verse 1 he speaks as to how love edifies and builds up. This is setting the stage for one of Paul’s greatest messages ever given on the subject of love (1 Cor 13). You can see a method to everything Paul did. The more I read his writings the greater the admiration I have for him. It is not just the messages he presents in his writings but it is the methods and approaches he uses. This is essential in navigating through the latter day landscape. Each chapter seen in Corinthians or any of his writings is a step by step application to his primary point. May God help for us to learn and appreciate both his message and method.