PSALMS 37:1 – 39:13 and 1 CORINTHIANS 12:1–31
This is one of the more popular Psalms as many familiar verses come forth from them. It is written at the end of David’s life and you can see many verses that resemble portions from the Book of Proverbs. He speaks concerning the fruits of the righteous and unrighteous. In verses 1-4 David exhorts to not get overly excited when you see the enemy prospering. There will be seasons when they (enemies) are doing so well it makes one wonder if God really takes note. This is especially perplexing to those who seek to do right and are going through difficulty. It is times like this when our faith and roots are tested. If you are a worker of iniquity you can feel emboldened seeing that your evil doings seem to have no consequence.
David had many years of perspective in being able to make this assessment. He exhorts the believer to continue to trust in the Lord and do well no matter how things may look. Do not be jealous of the evil doer for their time of prospering will come to an end. The key is learning to delight ourselves in the Lord knowing that He will then give the desires of your heart. This must be understood. We first must learn to delight in Him and become more acquainted with who He is. This allows us to have glimpses into His heart. The more we know His heart the more our desires will reflect His. We as believers often by-pass the delighting in the Lord portion of the scripture and expect the Lord to answer us according to what is in our heart. He may answer us accordingly but it more than likely not be what is in His heart.
In verses 5-7 we see David pretty much following along the same lines. We need to commit or consecrate our ways unto the Lord. This requires a measure of dying to self but look at its fruit. It results in the righteousness of God being revealed. He then speaks on the importance of entering into Rest which then brings this whole matter back full circle. When we learn to Rest in God we do not tend to worry or be concerned at the temporary prospering of the wicked. David then warns of the danger of anger and wrath and to not be aligned with evil in anyway. One can sense the heart of David as he shares some of his lifelong lessons through this Psalm. It is clear that there are seasons when the enemy is strong and imposing but David speaks to his future demise. This thought will come back again at the end of this psalm. One of the primary weapons in the believer’s arsenal is meekness (vs 11). In fact the Lord will speak the very same thing in the Beatitudes (Math 5:5). Is learning to turn the other cheek really a source of strength? We find that Moses exhibited the fruit of meekness more than any other man. (Num 12:3). The enemy is never threatened by hype and “gung ho” enthusiasm. The true weapons are spiritual, like the Sword (The Word of God) and meekness. If you finish reading verse 12 it speaks of the meek abiding in the abundance of Peace. Why is this significant? Let’s look at another verse from this Psalm.
Psa 37:37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
Rom 16:20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
The fruit of Peace is a powerful weapon against the enemy. In the Psalms you see the enemy at one moment being strong and imposing (37:35). In verse 37 he is suddenly gone. What happened; why the sudden and total change of atmosphere? The game –changer was the fruit of Peace. We must never seek to come against our foe with natural weapons. This is often times seen in an angry knee jerk reaction to a situation or event. One must allow for a certain righteous indignation against injustice but never to the point of venting anger. It is the devil’s fuel and he thrives upon it.
David also clarifies that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and that he is well able to keep such a person in the way (vs 23). In fact, the Lord delights in such a person. This should be one of our aims; having the Lord delight in our walk and decisions in life. I often counsel young single people to have the Lord involved in their pursuit of a future spouse. He delights in being brought into the equation of one’s life. It speaks volumes about such a person, a person who trusts the Lord to lead and guide their steps. We are acknowledging Him as the Alpha and Omega, the one who knows the end from the beginning. Don’t you think the Lord can be trusted? Can you imagine the strength of Christian marriages if this approach were to be taken? May God help us to allow the Word to be that lamp unto our feet, guiding and leading us along His pathway of life (Psa 119:105).
David also puts a strong emphasis on the Law of God (vs 31). He understood the New Covenant reality which was the law of God being written upon the fleshly tables of the heart (Psa 19:7, Jer 31:33). If this is our pursuit a few things will happen: First the Bible says that our steps would not slide. Secondly we will be targeted by the enemy. Anyone who puts a high premium on God’s Law should expect attention from the evil one (vs 32). This is clear right from the beginning when Satan first approached Eve ( Gen 3:1). “Yea hath God said…” The whole of Psalm 37 should be read and meditated upon. It is one of the last pieces of writing from David before he died. We see much of what he instructed to Solomon in the Proverbs contained here as well. The voice of wisdom echoes throughout this Psalm, let’s embrace and lay hold of her.
This is one of the penitential psalms penned by David after his sin with Bathsheba. This Psalm should be read in conjunction with 2 Sam 12:1-14. One could never come to feel the depth of despair that David must have endured. Here he is as King over Zion, at Rest from his enemies and basking daily in the presence of the Lord. The next moment he is vulnerable, indulging in adultery and eventually murder. Could there be any greater example of contrasts to a mortal man? The only greater example would be Christ Himself. He willingly became sin; in fact He had to become sin in order to be the perfect sacrifice. Jesus had the loving intimacy with the Father and was able to daily delight in His presence. The next moment He had to confront the face of an angry, wrathful God of vengeance in becoming the object of all the Father disdained. This Psalm captures the pain and anguish David experienced as a result of sin.
David is quite descriptive in sharing the consequence of his sins. He is coming face to face with the reality of what he has done. There is no relief and all seems lost. David had suffered much throughout his life in leading up to this moment. This suffering is deserved because of something he chose to do in direct disobedience to God. Is there any hope for him; has he gone too far in having any chance for restoration? Yes, he has that anchor of known forgiveness due to his quick acknowledgement of wrongdoing but still the pain and consequences are real. In verses 7-8 we see David plagued with some sort of disease. It could even be some sort of cancer due to the way it was eating up his body. He has lost light and perspective as well as the companionship of close friends. Many of these verses sound like experiences that Job had expressed. The difference is that Job did not sin, even though there was undealt sin lurking deep in his heart. David is suffering as a result of a chosen act on his part. He knows it and he cannot escape it although he has been forgiven.
The enemy has now gained an inroad into David’s life and he takes full advantage of it. He attacks David’s physical body, his relationships while at the same time seeking to put David in fear and doubt. He demonstrates a remarkable ability to plough through and not give up. David’s greatness lies in his ability in being transparent. He confesses as to one who received not the instruction of the Lord even though he was well acquainted with God’s commandments. He also recognizes that he is no position to speak reproofs unto others seeing that he would be a hypocrite (vs 14). These thoughts must have weighed heavily upon him. How could he ever speak the truths he once shared to others? The feeling and sense of failure must have been part of the harrowing judgement upon him. How should he respond, what should he do? In verse 15 he simply says “Lord, I put my trust in you”. He cries out to God to be heard otherwise his enemies will triumph over him. He builds up a strength and momentum as he continues his prayer. Once again we do see evidence of the Spirit man within him rising up to take control over the soul. How easy it could have been for him to give up. He pressed on and even came to the point of echoing some of the words the Lord cried out while upon the Cross (Mark 15:34).
Psa 38:21 Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me.
Psa 38:22 Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.
The heart of David still had the capacity to lay hold of God in the midst of his sin. One of the keys is to love and embrace Truth. May we learn well the lessons and instructions of David. God can help preserve us from going down this road of extreme regret. The instruction manual is provided in the previous psalms.
You will notice in the introduction to this Psalm that it is another Psalm of David but given to the Chief Musician who went by the name of Jeduthun. He was one of three choir masters of David and he apparently had extraordinary musical abilities. I have made many references to songs I learned in my early years as a believer that have come from the psalms. It is not hard for me to imagine the prophetic anointing that would come upon these writings as they are put to music. Jeduthun is also seen in Psalm 62 and 77.
Psalm 39 is a continuation of Psalm 38 which depicts David’s lament over his sin. In the first few verses David is not defending himself against the enemy but rather looking to God for His mercy. He knew that he gave the enemy the occasion to afflict him. He knew he was worthy of being judged but he sought God for his help anyways. David asks an interesting question in verse 4 concerning what the end of his day would look like. It can be assumed that he did not want his life to close at this juncture of his life. If he can catch a glimpse of how he will finish it would help to bring encouragement through his current dark valley. Personally, I feel it is prudent to enquire to the Lord along these lines. Perhaps God has given promises that have yet to be fulfilled. This can serve as an anchor and hope when one is facing great adversity. You find in seasoned men and women of God a sense of purpose of finishing well. Jesus knew His destination and set his face in determined focus towards that goal as he was getting closer to the end. It is important to have an intimacy with God so as to be in alignment with His will. Moses also had this desire and cry when he cried out to God for help in numbering his days (Psa 90:12). This is a product of wisdom that develops over time. The Lord may not reveal absolute specifics concerning our end but He does provide a pathway for those who are so inclined.
David speaks of the man who gathers riches for himself throughout life only to be perplexed in oftentimes leaving them to people they do not know. It is a cruel irony to realize that the very thing one worked hard for all their lives is the very thing that leaves them restless and without peace in the end. The greater tragedy is an eternity of regret that will never leave them. If people can only come to know the true treasures that God provides daily; the riches that satisfy and fulfil both in this life and throughout eternity. The devil has done an extremely good job of redefining priorities and sad to say we are allowing it to creep into today’s church.
Throughout this Psalm David is crying out to the Lord for His mercy and deliverance. He again comes back to the thought of being restored before he finishes his life. One can understand David’s concern here. Think of his life up to this point. It has had many challenges and triumphs. His life was one filled with a heart after God; most recently having the privilege of establishing the Ark of the Covenant upon Zion’s hill. This is no way for his life to come to an end. This had to be excruciatingly tormenting to David. It was not the physical pain of his suffering as it was the sense of losing the presence of God. Can we better understand his prayer when he cried out “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me”.
Psa 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
In spite of David’s grievous sins he did find forgiveness and restoration. David’s experience gives each of us hope when we have failed the Lord that He has the ability to forgive and restore. It is something we can never take for granted; it is God who determines who receives mercy. Yet our God is a God of Long-Suffering and abundant mercy. God is looking for a heart that has an ability to be contrite and humble before Him. This is what David is exhibiting in these psalms. David is giving God a tender heart that He can work with. As stated in Psalm 38 we do not have to go down the road that David endured to benefit from his example. We honor him and God’s mercy if we become warned from his example and seek to not be led into the paths of evil doers.
1 Cor 12
This chapter is one of the best in highlighting the working of the person of the Holy Spirit within the body of Christ. We know that a human body is made up of many parts, each having specific functions. This is what the church is comprised of; many members that have varied areas of gifting coming under the administering authority of the Holy Spirit. Paul spoke on the authority structure in the previous chapter. The Holy Spirit seems to have the primary responsibility in the carrying out of God’s administrative needs. The prophet Ezekiel had a revelation of this administrative capacity as noted in chapter 1. He saw 4 living creatures that surrounded the throne. They went to and fro with lightning speed wherever the Spirit of God was to lead them (Eze 1:12). It is an absolute wonder to think that God would interact with man in such a way. This is why being baptized in the Holy Ghost is an absolute essential in the life of a believer. It is the person of the Holy Ghost who enlightens man in being able to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (vs 3).
One of the problems being seen in the Corinthian church was that people were prone to doing their own thing. There was a lack of order in so many areas whether it was the misusing of gifts, the tolerating of sin or unbridled pride. Paul seeks now to address these problems by placing a high emphasis on the person of the Holy Spirit. There are many different gifting’s but there is only one Holy Spirit (vs 4). There are different administrations or offices in the church but only one Holy Spirit (vs 5). There are so many attributes of the Holy Spirit that are given to different members of the body but still only One Holy Spirit. Paul is trying to get the focus off of individual gifts and people and solely upon the one Holy Spirit. These lessons apply to us today.
We live in a world that puts a high premium on celebrity. Have you ever seen the movie “Miracle” which tells the true story of the 1980 USA Ice Hockey team that did the unthinkable? They beat the giants of hockey from Russia. The USA team was a gathering of collegiate level hockey players that came from many different schools. These young men were rivals and they brought their individual grudges to training camp. The coach recognized that these individual grudges had to be broken so as to be gelled into a united team, a team that would function as one under his (the coach’s) guiding hand.
This personality obsession must cease in the church. All members are vital and important and Paul goes to great lengths to establish this truth. He also makes it clear that if one member suffers than all the members suffer (vs 26). There is to be no schism or area of division in the body of Christ. This helps us to better understand a primary tactic of the enemy in his desire to divide the body. This becomes a problem when the church allows elements of the world to creep in. If we are not careful we begin to diminish the role and functioning of the Holy Spirit. We must always be mindful that the Holy Spirit is likened to a dove who has the characteristic of being very sensitive. He will not force His way into an environment that is contrary to His nature.
God has created each of us uniquely with special gifts and anointing’s. He is honoured when we come into that place of discovery of who we are and flow accordingly. The Holy Spirit helps us in being able to bring forth our gift in a way that benefits and strengthens the body. In like manner we derive blessings from other members of the body as they allow the Holy Spirit to administrate through them. Paul has spent considerable time in his letter in bringing the Corinthians to this point. He has dissected their primary needs, pointed out serious sins that were being tolerated while dealing with their issue of puffed up pride. All of these maladies can be resolved with a proper understanding and revelation of the person of the Holy Spirit. In the days that are before us we are going to need to know this person as never before. He is a person, not just an influence or a force; these are merely some of His attributes. He is the one who makes it all happen just as he did when He breathed afresh upon the earth as seen in Genesis (Gen 1:2). He was the one who made it possible for the Son of God to become the Son of Man (Luke 1:35). He was the one who helped to enable Jesus to offer himself upon the Cross (Heb 9:14). He is the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, the same Holy Spirit that seeks to do the same in our lives (Rom 8:11). 1 Corinthians 12 is all about the person of the Holy Spirit as the administrator of the Body of Christ.