PSALMS 34:1 – 36:12 and 1 CORINTHIANS 11:1–34
This Psalm is written by David when he feigned himself to be mad before Achish, King of Gath (1 Kings 21:14). He did this to try and demonstrate that he would not be a threat against the Philistines as many were accusing him of plotting to do. In verses 1-4 we have another familiar charismatic song we used to sing many years ago. It is one of those many moments where David chose to override his soul in lieu of his circumstances. This was a most difficult place for him because he is trying to fit in with what would normally be an enemy. This is about as low it can get but such was the heated pursuit of Saul after David’s life. These first few verses give indication as to how strong the Spirit man in David actually was. He is also seeking to rally others behind him as he makes his declaration to God. A man or woman who can summon such strength in adversity will draw a following. A person who has the ability to keep praising and blessing the Lord in adversity will provoke and inspire many; it is contagious. It also honours God!
God did indeed bring deliverance from Achish; he identifies himself as a poor man who cried unto the Lord and was heard. It was experiences such as this one that enabled David to be one who could bless the Lord at all times. When he “encouraged himself” in the Lord while at Ziklag we know that there was precedent that he could draw from (1 Sam 30:6). It is helpful to read psalms like this in its proper context. This was a mighty deliverance that David has just come through and it is well reflected in this psalm. In verse 8 David invites the recipients of this psalm to “taste and see” that the Lord is good. David was growing in his relationship with God; every encounter contributed to its richness. His desire was that others would taste of His goodness. We can speak of God’s greatness but there is nothing like a “taste” of actually coming to experiencing it. One can look at a luscious chocolate cake and imagine how good it will taste but the satisfaction is only realized when it is tasted (in my case consumed.) We often do this in how we present the Lord to others. We can speak of how good God has been to us but do we take the initiative of inviting them to church or a house meeting? This helps such a person to be able to taste of the goodness of God himself. David just came through a very difficult trial. He is not only thanking the Lord for deliverance but he seeks to use this opportunity to introduce the fullness of God to others.
Psa 34:11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
David learned early in his life the importance of keeping control of his tongue. There is tremendous power in the words we speak and how we speak them. Consider the words of the Apostle James:
Jas 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
James mentions the “tongue” on 5 different occasions; it has the power to bless but it also has the power to curse. There was a beautiful promise given to the tribe of Naphtali when Jacob prayed over his son. “…he giveth goodly words” (Gen 49:21). We must also realize that God takes account of our words and that we will one day give an account.
Mal 3:16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
When David was in his difficulty in fleeing from Saul he always maintained his integrity. He did not let his situation lead him into bitterness or complaining. This we know was one of the primary issues with Israel whenever they were in a difficult place. Their immediate response was to turn against Moses and or God; instead of being thankful they allowed themselves to look back with fondness from the bondage from which they came. This in turn led to hardness of heart whereby failing of the available grace of God (Heb 12:15). God takes note of our words and of our attitude of heart and answers accordingly. A scary point of concern in the last days is God’s willingness to answer what is in one’s heart whether good or bad. God may answer prayer but is it really God’s will (Eze 20:25)? David finishes this psalm by speaking and attributing praise to God. His words are not based on hope but on experience. It was a time of great confusion and anguish in his life but God saw Him through. One cannot minimize the treasures of such a journey. His testimony and example speaks volumes for each of us today.
The timeline for this Psalm seems to line up when David was fleeing from Saul. We again see an expression of David’s soul while going through difficulty; his prayer and ultimate declaration of God’s ability to deliver. As like other Psalms we see David’s soul contrasted with his spirit man. If given the opportunity to write our own psalm we would probably major on the battle, struggle and confusion of our situation. A strong man would be able to take these issues to prayer and petition God for His help. A stronger man would allow His spirit to summon up an inner strength to bless the Lord and proclaim His ability by faith. This is what David is doing here in psalm 35. There are three sequences we see here consisting of complaint, prayer and then praise. This cycle can be seen in verses 1-10, 11-18 and 19-28.
David had many enemies during this season in his life. Saul had great influence and there were many who were aligned with him. David’s struggle allowed for people to observe and virtually take sides. David had a very strong relationship with Jonathan, Saul’s son. Jonathan saw and observed and was able to determine that David had much more of a heart for God than his own father. A common theme in all of our studies that pertain to the last days is that there will be separation. It is not just a separation involving the saved from the unsaved but a separation that will go much deeper. When we looked at the Book of Romans we saw chapters 6-8 representing a dividing line between two groups. The qualifying verse was taken from Math 7:13-14:
Mat 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Mat 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
This psalm has the sense of many of the verses we have seen in previous scriptures. The primary lesson is to see the attitude that David displayed throughout his ordeal. It is exemplary and instructive. David was clearly confused and he allowed his soul to be open before the Lord. He does not leave it there; he seeks the Lord for the enemy to be confounded and to turn their devices against themselves (vs 8). He then moves from a position of prayer to praise as seen in verse 9:
Psa 35:9 And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.
There is one other quality of David that needs to be examined and it is not limited to this psalm. He displayed an openness and transparency before the Lord in allowing God to search his heart (vs 24). We are a people who have been given a soul and emotions and there will be times when expression of a situation is needed before God. This is not to suggest we complain and become bitter but we do need to be real; many of the battles that confront us are real battles. It is then important to take these real needs as prayer petitions to the Lord. This takes maturity in itself in being able to frame a well-crafted appeal to the Lord. Finally, it’s important to have the ability to praise the Lord long before the outcome or answer to prayer. This takes an even greater strength and resolve. It is the spirit man taking authority over the soul and emotions. This may sound good on paper but know that it will be tested. Help us O Lord, to be men and women of the Spirit; those who know how to worship you in Spirit and in Truth.
This Psalm is written near the end of King David’s life. We again see many similar scriptures found in other places but they come across with a greater measure of authority. These are the words and exhortations of a man who has seen it all. As a young man he came to know the importance of stewardship as he kept his father’s sheep. This employment allowed for him to have practical experiences with very real enemies. (Lion and the Bear) It was due to his faithfulness that God was able to single him out as the next anointed one in line to become king. No one else was able to take note of this; even Samuel the prophet did not see it. His secular work as a shepherd qualified him in being able to take down Goliath. The intimacy he developed with the Lord in his times of shepherding helped to sustain him in his time of fleeing from Saul. He knew God as a youth while in obscurity and this helped to prepare him for his time of wandering. He learned to bask and embrace the presence of God which enabled him to bear and establish the Ark of the Covenant upon Zion’s hill. His sin with Bathsheba was as grievous as they come; he quickly acknowledged his transgression resulting in his being forgiven. He is now in his latter years and is suffering some of the consequences of his sin with Bathsheba. This is the measure of the man who is about to present this psalm. This psalm represents some of the final issues that were upon his heart.
In the very first verse David speaks of the wicked as having no fear of God. This seems too often be the case when one looks at the closing throes of an empire or nation. One of the best examples of this is the closing moments of the Babylonian empire. This is significant due to the last days being the close of both mystery and natural Babylon (Rev 17-18). Belshazzar and his company were mocking the true God and boasting in the god of forces. They were brazen and immune to any pending danger. One sees the fullness of pride on display. In one moment everything changed as the hand came into the room and wrote upon the wall (Dan 5:5-6). In one moment we see an abominable pride giving way to loss of faculties. God is not mocked! Take a good look around you and ask if this world today truly has the Fear of the Lord. Actually, I think we can ask the same question to Christians. David saw this as a real problem in his later years; the proof can be seen in those who defected from his side like Joab and Abiathar.
The wicked are so full of pride that there is no recognition of issues of sin in their own lives; there is no room for introspection. One of the hallmarks of the last days and we are seeing it now is that man seeks to become his own god. This of course goes back to the very beginning seeing that this was the downfall of Satan himself. It is one of the initial seeds of corruption he offered to man (Gen 3:5). Such a person does not abhor or have a hatred for evil. Why is this? It is often due to evil being redefined whereby becoming more acceptable. One of the key verses from scripture we need to learn and embrace is to put into practice something that Solomon exhibited in Psalm 45. It supports this truth regarding the abhorring of evil.
Psa 45:7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Do we love righteousness; if we do we will become more like the Lord. Do we align with evil and portray a tolerance for things that are not pleasing to God? As we continue in our journey with the Lord we end up learning more and more as to who God is and what He is like. We also can begin to discern and come to know the things the Lord abhors. There is a concern today for the redefining of Christianity which is making allowances for previous taboos. It starts subtly at first but its poison soon takes hold.
David then describes the mercy of the Lord; something that he is well acquainted with. It is not described in a miniscule measure but something that is as high as the heavens. The righteousness of God is likened to great mountains, something that will stand and not be moved. This is a brief summary of his life’s existence. He then goes on to speak of the judgments of God as a great deep and something that helps to preserve and restore (vs 6). David is going through several judgments as he writes this due to his sin with Bathsheba. He can speak with authority of a God who is merciful, who answers prayer and is faithful. It was the heart of David demonstrated through the years that proved to be a contributing factor in his being preserved. Saul was not pardoned after he crossed a line and his sin; when measured against David’s transgressions it does not seem to be as serious. David had a heart after God. Saul while serving as king never sought after the Ark of the Lord (1 Chron 13:3). This is a good indicator of where his heart was. We must also remember that God will have mercy on whom he chooses and David received it in abundance. In his final thoughts he asks the Lord to not allow pride to come against him. Perhaps we can assume that this was after he moved Joab to number the men of Israel. This was a clear violation of the Law of Kings (Deu17) as it demonstrated David taking comfort and pleasure in numbers. The bottom line is that it was an issue of pride. It is Psalms like these which we should give special heed. These words are the culmination of a robust and well lived life; filled with blessing, transgression and restoration.
1 Cor 11
Paul is going to put emphasis on the authority structure of God. There is an order and procedure in the way God administrates His kingdom. One of the primary issues that Paul covers in this chapter is the relationship between men and women and how their roles are to be properly defined. As we move through this chapter we cannot help but see so many similarities to our day. There was much perversion in Corinthian society as seen earlier in chapter 5. You will also find many examples of women having dominant roles in the political and business arena which then had an effect on home life. Why is this so? What is the primary issue seeing that this is something taking place in many nations of the world today? It is primarily due to men not properly assuming their God given role as protector and provider. Paul will establish the Divine order of hierarchy which serves as a template for man. There is an authority structure in place within the godhead and out from that flows out a true picture of structure. Paul makes this abundantly clear in verse 3.
1Co 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
This will be addressed in more detail when we examine Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. It is an issue that is certainly not limited to the Corinthians. Let’s do a quick review: In the godhead you have the Father and from Him comes forth the Son and Holy Spirit. Each member of the godhead has their respective function. If we can grasp the roles of the godhead we will have a better understanding of God’s divine order for man. Jesus, as the Son of God was the one who died upon the Cross; it was not the Father or the Holy Spirit. It was the person of the Holy Spirit that enabled the Son of God to become the Son of man at the conception. It was the Holy Spirit that enabled the Son of Man to fulfil the Father’s pre-designed plan upon the earth leading up to the Cross (Rev 13:8). We see perfect unity in the Trinity as they function under the authority of the heavenly Father. Paul then makes clear that Christ is the supreme head of man and that woman is to serve under his authority. Finally, we see that the head of Christ is God the Father. This is God’s ordained order. The problem comes whenever there is a breakdown of authority structure. How did the fall of man originate? It took place when Satan was somehow able to separate Eve from Adam at the time of the fall. Who was at fault here? The blame has to be placed upon Adam due to his failure to provide the covering and protection for Eve. The Bible makes clear that it was Eve, not Adam who was deceived.
1Ti 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
Let’s try to put all of this into a modern day context. We often talk about marriage as being the most attacked institution in our world today. If the enemy is successful in dividing a marriage he then succeeds in dividing a home. The fallout goes beyond the home; it affects the community, the nation and then the world. Have we considered the attacks on the institution of fatherhood and the repercussions that result from it? It is interesting to observe nations that have had a very poor image of a father figure. What you oftentimes see are women who have had to assert themselves to achieve and to survive. If they have not had the loving hand of a true father over them to love them, affirm them, to give perspective to life and to celebrate their uniqueness and strength they will naturally seek to express themselves in other ways. This could result in women pressing through God’s pre-defined boundaries. If women fail to find recognition for achievement within the confines of a loving family environment they will find it on the outside. When you extrapolate this further you find that a wife will oftentimes achieve more success than their husbands which then can bring added pressure upon a home. The husband who has the responsibility of being the provider and protector is now challenged in the God given role placed upon him. His identity and uniqueness is challenged due to the subtle changing of roles within the home.
This subject can be examined in much more detail but hopefully the point is made. God has an order as seen in the godhead. That order then is revealed as Christ being the head of man and man being the head and covering for woman. By no means am I suggesting that we do not celebrate the strengths and contributions of women; quite the contrary. The primary reason why we have a breakdown in society in the gender roles is due to men not assuming their God given role. Paul spends considerable time on this subject in this chapter and goes into further detail in other epistles. There is a reason why we see gender role reversals today coupled with gross immorality and perversions. Our world today celebrates the sex change of a former Olympian Gold Medal winner; a man who was the best athlete in the world of his day (1976) who now decides that he was a woman all along. There is a reason these things are happening and Paul is expressing them in 1 Cor 11. It is all rooted in the breakdown of God’s appointed structure. Yes, sad to say this version of the Corinthian church is alive and well today.
When we have a communion service in church you will often find a portion from this chapter used in commemoration for all that the Lord has accomplished at the Cross (vs 23-30). It was at the Cross when the Lord took upon Himself the sin of all mankind. He became the broken bread so that all men could experience reconciliation to the Father. The remedy for many of the Corinthian ills is found in the message of the Cross. There was healing (both physical and spiritual) as well as restoration of that which had been broken down. We draw great strength from these passages when we celebrate communion but it is also helpful to see it in context with the Corinthian problem. What Paul prescribed to the Corinthians is a much needed prescription for us today. The bottom line is that the Cross is the ultimate remedy for all that afflicts mankind. It is at the Cross where we see the fullness of the godhead at work, in unity. May we have a fresh revelation of the Cross and the communion service in our homes and churches. It will help to establish the proper order that God had ordained from the beginning.