PSALMS 46:1 – 48:14 and 1 CORINTHIANS 15:1–28
This psalm has served as a strength and encouragement to many believers throughout the ages. The famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God” was inspired through this psalm. The Psalmist is well acquainted with the creative genius of God. The language is expressive when speaking of mountains moving or the waters roaring. I am reflecting on this Psalm while sitting on the shores of the Indian Ocean on the island of Mauritius. The waves billowing with their rhythmic tones cannot help but have an effect on one’s spirit. The sunrise in all its majestic glory immediately puts at ease any concern, care or worry; our God is truly an amazing God. When meditating upon these thoughts it helps to bring true perspective as to how great our God is and how limited the enemy is no matter how threatening his devices.
In verse 4 the psalmist speaks of a river that flows forth from the city of God. It is a picture of the Tabernacle of David at Zion but it speaks of a greater fulfilment yet to come. The Book of Revelation makes reference to a river that comes forth from the throne of God that brings healing wherever it goes. The prophet Ezekiel speaks of a river that flows forth at the time of the Millennium. The beautiful truth seen in this picture is that God is in the midst of her people. It is so hard to comprehend how an eternal God would go to such great lengths to have this level of intimacy and fellowship with man. We need to think, ponder and meditate upon this privilege given to man. We do not want to miss or fall short of all that God has prepared for mankind. It is interesting to note the writings and examples of those who entered their later years in God. The emphasis is all about winning Jesus and being like Him and being with Him. It is humbling to think that God chooses and desires to tabernacle with men but it is to those who have a hunger and desire for him. The Lord Himself loves to sing in the midst of the congregational song (Psa 22). When a church is in alignment with what God is doing you will oftentimes find God singing and rejoicing in their midst.
“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.” God in the midst of His people is a beautiful thought to ponder and reflect over.
Who can stand against such a force; the enemy can only yield, melt and give way. This is a privilege that cannot be assumed; it is given to a people who have the vision of Zion in their hearts and who seek to qualify to inhabit His holy hill. We noted the 15 qualifications earlier when noting both Psalm 15 and 24. What we see in this psalm is another picture of what it will be like at the time of the 2nd coming. I never cease to be amazed as to how parallel applications can be made in scripture. Oftentimes there is a fulfilment at the time of the writing but there is a greater application for the future. You see this in the ministry of Daniel. God gave him great wisdom, knowledge and understanding as seen in his ability to give and interpret the king’s dream. That dream had implications for Daniel’s day but its impact will not be fully realized until the time of the end. Daniel had to seal the vision until the end time. He also stated that knowledge in the end will be increased (Dan 12:4).
This psalm closes with the beautiful thought of the Peace and Rest of God. No matter what one may be going through in life there is nothing like taking time, being still and meditating upon the greatness of God. Think of the Lord like the sun rising at the dawning of a new day. The darkness of night has passed and has become a memory as the light and splendour of the sun puts to flight its shadows. The creation of God speaks of His glory and of His ways. Be still, reflect and think upon the Almighty one and He will arise in glory upon you.
This is yet another Psalm that demonstrates the triumphant God. There is something about the people of God coming together with hands clapping and voices raised that brings Him pleasure. It is not only exhilarating for the people of God but it something the Lord delights in and oftentimes participates in. He is King and Lord over every nation of the earth. This is encouraging for those who are subjected or labouring in a land that s ungodly; God is still over all. There are times and seasons when it appears that the enemy is in control but it will not be for long. We must be able to see the big picture and know that every knee will one day bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. It helps to look through the lens of eternity because it is there where one will have true perspective. There will come the day when the enemy will be subdued under the feet of the saints. It is good to revisit Psalm 37 and see how the enemy was strong one moment and then cut down instantly the next. The key to victory in that instance was peace and it is the fruit of the Spirit that is required today.
In verse 4 we see that it is the Lord who chooses our inheritance. This makes it clear that God has planned our destiny from the very beginning. It is also clear that we need to seek the Lord so as to come into that place of discovery. This helps in our ability to make right choices in life seeing that it directs our steps in the appropriate path. If we do not seek God in this area it will result in frustration and a lack of fulfilment. It is due to not hitting the target and mark that God has established for our life. This is why one’s marriage partner is so important. Why not let God be brought into the important decisions of life. He delights in the steps of a good man; a man who allows God to come into the equations of his or her life.
In verses 5-9 the Psalmist again returns to the theme of rejoicing and praise. It is a battle anthem that strikes fear and destruction into the hearts of the enemy. The power and strength of God comes forth from a position of holiness (vs 8). Are we a people who have a love for the beauty of His holiness? Are we a people who have a love for Zion, the very dwelling place of God? It will be from here where God will bring forth His triumphant army in the last days.
It is speculated that this psalm could have been birthed at the time of King Jehoshaphat’s victory over the children of Ammon and the Moabites (2 Chr 20). Once again it serves as a reminder of a song from the charismatic days. The song comes from verse 1 and 2. We see again the blessings or ruling and reigning from Mt. Zion. It’s God’s chosen place, the place he has chosen for His presence to dwell in. It is a vision worth pursuing and it is available to all. The question is whether we will allow God to work the message of Zion into the fibre of our being. It needs to also be noted that Zion is a place of refuge and safety in times of trouble.
In verses 4-8 we see a picture of what will take place in the last days when the kings of the earth seek to surround Jerusalem to make war with the lamb. They will gather their armies and come to Jerusalem with boldness and a sense of invincibility. This overwhelming show of force and strength will be short-lived. Their strength and power will be quickly broken resulting in great fear coming upon them. We have spoken of similar quick reversals before such as the time of Belshazzar’s feast (Daniel 5). This is significant because it happened at the time of the fall of Babylon; an event that will happen again in our time. It seems that God will allow for pride to come to ripeness. Then suddenly, it all turns around. It is important for these psalms to get into our Spirit because challenging days lie before us and we need to be prepared. These accounts in the Word of God are for our instruction and encouragement. May God grant that we learn from them.
In verses 9-14 we see further examples of the blessings of Zion. It is an eternal blessing not one that comes and goes. The importance of maintaining and passing along a good testimony to future generations is also emphasized. Zion is God’s resting place and it is a place that each of us have opportunity to ascend. These Psalms should help to further establish the beauty and message that Zion entails.
1 Cor 15
This is the supreme text when it comes to the message of the resurrection. There were many deniers of the resurrection in Corinth yet Paul makes the case for its reality. Paul uses nature among other things to speak as to how a seed must be sown into the ground before it can bring forth new life. He makes clear that there are different levels of the resurrection as seen in the differing glories of the stars. The resurrection is central to the life of a believer because without it we would still be in our sins; death would not have been conquered (vs 56). Paul has a unique anointing in being able to tie the natural to the spiritual. What becomes clear is that God speaks more than we realize if we would only pause and allow our ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. Finally, Paul helps us to look at our lives through the lens of eternity. The short time we have upon this earth needs to be maximized, to extract all that God has made available. We only have this life to qualify, once it is over our eternal fate is sealed. As believers we do not want to settle for anything less than what God has created us for or to come to the end with the horror of failing to appropriate the grace that God has made available for us. There is a resurrection and it is the validation of all that Jesus spoke while walking upon the earth; it is a validation of the Father’s plan both for His Son and for His creation. “Because he lives, we can face tomorrow”
Paul, ever the student of the Old Testament alludes to several OT scriptures in verse 3 when speaking of Christ having to die for our sins (Exo 12:1-3, Num 21:8, Isa 53:5-9, Dan 9:26 and Zech 13:7). In verse 4 he then refers to several more OT scriptures that speak of his burial and resurrection (Psa 16:9-10, Psa 49:15, Jonah 2:1-10, Isa 26:19, Isa 53:9-10). The Old Testament is so full of examples that speaks to both the death and resurrection of Christ.
In verses 5-6 Paul makes references to the many witnesses who saw Christ after He rose from the dead. We are familiar with the disciples and some of the women who gave witness to his resurrection but Paul makes reference to at least 500 people who would have seen Him. That in itself should prove beyond a doubt that the resurrection is a reality. On the other hand look to the extremes the enemy will go to supress the Truth. It takes a lot of work and clever manipulation to try and hide what was clearly seen by many. This tactic exists today. Remember, Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) as well as the suppressor of Truth. He goes to great lengths in attempting to invalidate God, His creation and Redemptive plan. It is God’s intent that we come to know the Truth and allow Truth to bring clarity and liberty to our lives (Joh 8:32).
Paul was among the primary unbelievers of the resurrection and yet had a personal visitation of the Lord while on the Damascus Road. This is why he is adamant in his teaching to the Corinthians; he knows what it is to be a sceptic but he also knows the reality of the Truth. In verses 9-10 Paul presents the true meaning of grace. He was one who persecuted the church in passionate zeal; it is said that he was responsible for approximately 10,000 incarcerated Christians many of whom died. His conversion took him from being a destroyer of Christianity to becoming one of it rebuilders. Is this the picture of grace that we see taught in many churches today? Paul is a product of grace; anything he achieves or ever will achieve is purely by the grace of God. Paul’s life is marked by contrasts and extremes giving him an ability to speak on the subject of the true grace.
In verses 13-18 Paul makes clear that without the resurrection death in the end would have prevailed. If Christ did not rise from the dead then sin would have prevailed and there would be no hope for our redemption. In my role as a Pastor I have had the privilege of ministering at many funerals. There is no denying the pain and sense of loss of a loved one but at the same time there is the joy in knowing that he or she is forever in eternity with the Son of God. (This is provided the deceased was a believer)
Paul uses many illustrations to enhance the truths of the resurrection. It is a subject that bears much study seeing that there is an order where Christ is the first fruits. It is the fulfilment of the Feast of First fruits which is referenced in Lev 23. This offering is acceptable to God the Father for the satisfying of His judgement against sin. In verse 29 Paul speaks to the importance of Baptism and for all that it represents. One is baptized into his death when plunged under water but is raised to resurrection life as he is brought back up. It is more than a symbolic act it is a declaration of faith that Jesus is indeed the resurrection and the life.
Paul warns the Corinthians to be careful of their associations. This is a repeated warning seen throughout the scripture. As Christians we will be affected by the people we associate with; it says something about who we really are. This was a Corinthian problem due to their heady knowledge and inbred pride. In verses 35-46 Paul is contrasting the natural with the spiritual and how one helps to validate the other. Every seed replicates itself in the growing process. If a Christian is weak and refuses to grow in this life it will have repercussions in eternity. In like manner if a believer is seeking God, allowing a work to be done in his or her life it will be reflected in the resurrection. This is why we should endeavour to finish strong and run the race to its length to obtain the prize. What we are in the natural will be reflected in the spiritual.
Finally, Paul emphasizes that through Christ we have victory over the grave. He has conquered sin and death; it is a revelation we need to allow to get deeply planted into our spirit. Death does have a power and a sting but when contrasted with the power of the resurrection it has no hold. It is more than just a knowing that the resurrection is true it is the power that it represents to all who call upon His name. When this revelation hits us in its fullness it will change the way we think and live. To God be the Glory!