PSALMS 28:1 – 30:12 and 1 CORINTHIANS 9:1–27
It appears this Psalm could be a continuation of Psalm 27. David is writing in a very similar vein so we can assume it is in the period of fleeing from Saul. He is in a desperate position and is looking to the Lord to respond in some manner otherwise he is no different than those who go down into the pit. In verse 2 David speaks as to being heard when he lifts up his hands toward his Holy Oracle. The Holy Oracle can be translated the Holy Place. David would later establish a dwelling place for the presence of God upon Zion; a tent that will be known as David’s Tabernacle. You can see how praise and worship would be a primary function in Zion. David was cultivating this gift in his time of distress. He understood some of the truths concerning the Tabernacle of Moses. He saw the Holy Place as something greater than the Outer Court. You can see in David a hunger and desire for God that went beyond the norm. We must bear in mind the difficulties being faced by David and yet it is propelling him into a more consecrated pursuit of God. In verse 3 we see the importance of separation and how it is God’s mercy that keeps us from the deceitful crowd. This is a clear warning for the last days; the Bible makes clear that we are to come out from Babylon:
Rev 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
We are still in a position where we can make choices that helps to ensure we are flowing in the right stream. The flood that is coming forth from the enemy is no longer a trickle but it is gaining strength by the day. Its current is intensifying and the time will come when it will be impossible to go against its flow. We need to cry out like David did here so as to not be drawn away with the evil doers.
David then directs his prayers towards the enemy’s destruction. This sequence is important to observe. First, he prayed to not be drawn away with the devices and enticements of the enemy and then he prays that God would answer them according to their endeavours. One of the primary messages of the last days is all about separation. It is seen in the parable of the wheat and tares as well as the parable of the great net (Math 13:25-30, 47). There is a harvest but there is also a separation. We must have a heart like David that seeks purity within; the ability to be open to God’s judgement so that we will not be judged when it is poured out upon the land. The two-fold prayer of David in this Psalm is a beautiful model for us.
We know that David was a meditator as seen when we examined psalm 8. We once again see this quality on display in David’s life as he speaks regarding the natural elements of God’s creation like the thunder and the waters. It is presumed that this is also during the same time frame as Psa 27-28. In verses 1-2 David is again expressing a “tabernacle” truth concerning worship. The thought of worshipping the Lord in the beauty of holiness is something far more than just ordinary outer court worship. The more he seeks to know God the more beauty he sees in God. He does not see holiness as a legalistic term but a place of reverence and awe; a place of discovery as to who God really is and what God is like. So how does David express his sentiments concerning God in this particular Psalm? He speaks about the creative power and force that is embedded in the voice of the Lord. He uses the expression “The Voice of the Lord” 6 different times in this psalm.
When God created the heavens and the earth he “spoke” them into being. There is power in the spoken Word. Faith is enacted in God’s servants when we confess or “speak” that which the Lord has quickened through His Word (Rom 10:8, 10, 17). There is the “still small voice” that God used to speak to Elijah just as He does to us at times (1 Kings 19). It requires a person to be in a position of Rest so as to hear what God is saying. There are times when God speaks powerfully through His creation which is what David is capturing in this Psalm.
It appears that David is having this revelation due to his ability to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth; to worship the Lord in the beauty of His Holiness. Let’s consider the example of when Abraham was willing to offer his son Isaac on Mt. Moriah. Can there be a more profound expression of true worship than this? This is giving unto the Lord a higher level of commitment and consecration than what is normal. This to me is an example of worshipping the Lord in the beauty of His holiness because He is worthy. God rewarded Abraham by not only sparing his son but by also giving him a revelation of His name Jehovah-Jireh (Gen 22:14). He also spoke powerfully concerning the promise of blessing and multiplication all because Abraham obeyed the voice of God (Gen 22:18). David came into a revelation of the power and majestic splendour of God’s voice due to his ability to worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth. This is a higher level of worship; it is costly and it denotes a high degree of consecration.
Once again we cannot minimize the anguish and travail that David is going through in his running from Saul however try and think about the treasures being gained in the process. We celebrate David as he danced and rejoiced at the bringing in of the Ark to Jerusalem but do we fully appreciate the price that he paid? He could not see and understand the bigger picture while going through his trial nonetheless he held steady and maintained his ability to trust God at all times. It was a trait he learned while keeping his father’s sheep and it’s a trait that will continue to serve him well throughout his lifetime. Let’s think upon the power of God’s creative voice. It has power and it has the potential to be unleashed as we learn to harness and confess His holiness in our day to day walk with Him.
This Psalm was probably penned around the time when David was about to take Jerusalem (2 Sam 5). The battles that were waged against him from the house of Saul has now ceased and it is a season where he is about to enter into Rest from all enemies. Those who plotted his destruction have no ability to rejoice over him seeing that they have been subdued. He proclaims the Goodness of the Lord in His ability to heal and to bring up from the despairs of the grave. He now is exhorting all saints to sing at the remembrance of His Holiness.
Have you noticed in the three psalms we have examined today that the theme of holiness is seen in all of them? If the placing of this psalm is accurate then we are about to see David establish a resting and dwelling place for the Ark of the Covenant upon the hill of Zion. David’s love for the presence of God qualified him in being the priest who could ably bear the Ark. Here we see the priestly qualities of David after the order of Melchizedec. If we understand some of the background regarding Moses Tabernacle we know that only the priests could enter into the Holy place and the holiest of all. David was seeing that he came from the tribe which was given the sceptre but he was also a priest due to his love and pursuit of the heart of God. He by-passed the Levitical order of priests into a picture of the greater priesthood of Christ. It was the mercy of God given to David and it was due to his heart and his love for holiness. Let’s be honest; does much of the praise and worship heard today really promote a pursuit of holiness? It is the heart that really matters; it is a heart that presses into more of who He is. David had this intense love for the presence of God.
David has an opportunity to reflect on his experience in verse 5 and put it into a greater perspective. He can speak with authority about how one can be in a position of pain and weeping; anguish so real it seems it will never come to an end. He now can speak that there is indeed an end and that joy comes in the morning. David has been there and is now in a position to encourage others who may be going through such trials. David’s example serves as a great example to us.
God constantly desires to bring us to a higher place. We can easily settle on an experience and feel that we have arrived in our final destination. We must always be open to God’s voice and be willing to flow in whatever it is God may be doing. David said in verse 6 that in his prosperity he shall never be moved. We are to always acknowledge God’s favor and blessing but we must also be in the place of availing ourselves to God’s agenda. In verse 11-12 David again reflects in how God brought him from a desperate and dire situation into a place of abundance and great joy. These verses are special to me and filled with memories for the following reason. It was the first song sung in church where I danced before the Lord. I remember hearing this song and being so moved at the Spirit and anointing that was upon it. “Thou hast turned my mourning into dancing for me…” It could have been such a song that was sung as David was ascending the hill of Zion. It is a word for word song as seen in the scriptures. Even now as I write this brief summary I am stirred in my spirit for all that this song represents. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever!
1 Cor 9
Paul is going to take the approach of presenting himself as a spiritual athlete in his pursuit of Christ. The Corinthians prided themselves in areas of disciplines and Paul is going to build on their platform in a way that will enable them to understand. Here again is where Paul is at his best; he recognizes one of their primary attributes and presents the gospel in alignment to it. It takes a well-seasoned person; a man with a presence of mind to see how to connect. His approach is certainly noteworthy.
Paul established his credentials in verse 1 as an apostle; in fact he said that they were proof of his apostleship seeing that he helped in getting them started. He was not there for his own benefit but for the purpose of enriching them; he loved God and he loved them. Paul was certainly not involved with the Corinthians for money because he worked the full 18 months when he was there. Paul was not looking to defend himself, he was secure in his calling but his concern was for them in allowing such suspicions to permeate the body of Christ. There are far too many hirelings in ministry today. They put a price tag on their work and often sell out to the highest bidder. Paul was concerned for where this was leading them. It can be said that God is not pleased with this kind of attitude in the church. Paul was willing to become nothing so as to win men. This is what Christ did when he went to the Cross. It takes a strong person to continually put up with suspicions and accusations especially when coming from people who cannot hold a candle to the stature of a man like Paul.
It must be understood that the direction Paul is taking in this letter is not for the purpose of complaining regarding his needs being met, he was speaking of his concern for them. Their minds were being poisoned by some who have infiltrated the church; perhaps they were offended with Paul and his teachings. It is not just a matter of Paul and Barnabus not being looked after by the church but it was the doctrine they were subscribing to. These types of teachers often times do have ulterior motives but Paul clearly does not fall into this category. He started the church not because of offerings that were given but because of his love and burden for them. Paul could prove his apostleship because he worked and provided for his own needs when the church was first being established. They are now so filled with their own self-sufficiency. Paul will then quote some Old Testament scripture to further bolster his point: (vs 8-9)
Deu 25:4 Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.
Paul is helping them to realize that sowing on their behalf is hard work and those who labor should be accommodated at least in the area of food, lodging and perhaps an offering. It is clear that if there is no appreciation for the work that others do on one’s behalf then it will not bode well for that person or church in the long term. This is what Paul is trying to drive home to the Corinthians. Paul was disciplined in his desire to do whatever it took to work on their behalf. He helped them to see that what he was pursuing was an eternal and enduring crown as opposed to striving after something that had no eternal value. In verse 12 he was saying that it is no problem for the Corinthians to remunerate others who contribute to the church (vs 12) but apparently not so for those who founded the church. He anticipated that this would be an issue and prepared ahead of time to take no offering so as to shame them. He had every right to be a partaker of an offering but he would not do so; it was not an issue of pride but one of concern for them.
Paul is again to go back to the Old Testament to back up his points (vs 13-15). The priests who managed the affairs of the Tabernacle were to be given portions for their work. In fact, they were to be given a piece of land throughout all of the tribes of Israel for the service they rendered on behalf of the people.
Lev 6:16 And the remainder thereof shall Aaron and his sons eat: with unleavened bread shall it be eaten in the holy place; in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation they shall eat it.
Lev 6:17 It shall not be baken with leaven. I have given it unto them for their portion of my offerings made by fire; it is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering. (Lev 7:32-34)
Things really are not that much different today. We get puffed up in our minds in how church should be done and then go function accordingly. We delink from the Biblical standard resulting in doing church on man’s terms. What we see with the Corinthians we see in many modern day churches. It was not just the issue of not providing for those who minister on their behalf but it was the damage being done due to the doctrines that had crept in. Paul wanted to get this message into the church; his approach was to make clear that he did this for no other reason other than his love for them. The promoters of damnable doctrines were hirelings which reaped benefits from the Corinthians that they were only too happy to support.
I have found this to be personally irritating in today’s context when churches employ questionable elements of ministry and ministers oftentimes at the expense of those who truly have the true interests (of the church) at heart. Why does this happen, what is at the root of the Corinthian problem? To me it is pride, a sense of saying that we know how to do church more than others. Paul is intent on making an inroad into this church (the church he founded) because the message he is giving them is a heavy one. He does not just come in with both guns blazing but rather as a father who is willing to take the lowest of places so as to have influence with them. No one in Corinth or anyone who was teaching among them could hold a candle to Paul yet he was willing to discipline himself to become one who would serve out of love. His race was to win an incorruptible crown and to do so would require of him to come at the Corinthians as a Father. Paul was right; there were tens of thousands of instructors but very few fathers. I fear that things are not that much different today (1 Cor 4:15).