PSALMS 61:1 – 63:11 and 2 CORINTHIANS 3:1–18
This Psalm was written by David at the time of Absalom’s rebellion. David again is in the position of crying out for God’s mercy. He is well aware of his sin and already has suffered great consequences as a result of his transgression. His heart is overwhelmed but somehow finds the strength within to cry out to God. It is another Psalm where we see Truth and Mercy meshed together (vs 7). David loved the Truth; in spite of his sin he was able to quickly acknowledge his wrongdoing. This is only half the matter due to the consequence of his sin. It is not enough for us to just confess and acknowledge our sin; it must be balanced with God’s mercy. Let’s not forget our rooted verse on this thought from Psa 25:10. “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth…” David was a man who received great mercy from God. Perhaps he qualified as a candidate more than most due to the heart he had for God. I think we can safely assume it had a lot to do with his heart. None of us are worthy of his mercy; it is something God dispenses to those whom He chooses. We can probably make another assumption on this thought. If we lightly regard or reject Truth over time we then should not be surprised if we do not obtain mercy. Here is another indicator as to why David obtained mercy. He loved the presence of God and as a king/priest was able to minister before the Ark of the Covenant. The Mercy Seat sits directly over the Ark which contains the Law. David was a man who treasured the Law of God more than silver or gold (Pro 19:7-10). The link between Truth and Mercy seems rather clear. If we love and embrace Truth we may well be candidates to receive Mercy. In the end it is God’s prerogative.
Essentially this Psalm, like many others is broken down into parts. The first four verses records David’s cry to the Lord while the last four refer to the joy of knowing his voice and prayers have been heard. David expresses both the anguish of soul and ability to rejoice even before his prayers are answered. Bear in mind this is after a grievous sin and after the pain of losing his son and having another son looking to steal the throne. In addition to this he is experiencing the pain of betrayal from Ahithophel. An ordinary man would never have this kind of capacity but it was due to his intimate and transparent walk before God. He was able to see and believe God to carry him through any situation. For David it was a lifestyle and his example should stir each one of us into God’s greater purposes. It is amazing in seeing how David could trust the Lord to raise him up again and lengthen his days. This was neither presumption nor taking God for granted; it is based on an intimate relationship where Trust in God was developed. He suffered greatly nonetheless he had the assurance of God’s forgiveness and ability to restore. He had the assurance and reality of truth and mercy encompassing his path. May God place such a love for Truth in our lives; doing so will help enhance our ability to be recipients of God’s abundant mercies.
David begins this psalm with the beautiful thought of waiting upon the Lord. The emphasis here is on the soul and its needs to be still and to be anchored in the greatness of God. The soul can be easily stirred by trouble and unrest something of which David had no shortage of. This kind of stillness and waiting is the result of a disciplined relationship upon God, a discipline that has been tested. This is a solid reminder for what is needed in today’s volatile environment. How rooted are we in our walk; will be easily moved and shaken when tested? Is the Lord our Rock of refuge in time of trouble? He desires for us to know Him in such a way but it requires intentionality on our part.
David then takes issue with the hypocrite, the manner of man who blesses with their mouth but has an inward heart of ill motive. The Bible is very strong in relating God’s sentiment towards the hypocrite. It is a characteristic of Satan himself and it is something that the last day church will be contending with concerning the antichrist. The root issue in such people is their love for lies (2 Thes 2:11-12).
David then returns to the theme of waiting upon God, making Him the sole source of refuge for His life. He exhorts others to do the same when they go through similar challenges. It is a quiet confidence that is maintained at all times. What a wonderful refuge we have in our times of trouble.
David now brings perspective to the enemy and his standing before God. They may have a season where they have a name and status but in God’s divine balances they are found wanting. This was a beautiful truth concerning David; he could see things for what they really were. He could hold steady under pressure knowing that God would always be his refuge and strength. God weighs men according to His scales based on His righteousness. He is a merciful God but it is given in accordance to God and His righteousness. Even as believers we must understand this truth because to obey is better than sacrifice. The scales and balances employed by God are very different than that of men.
This psalm, like many others was written by David during the time he was fleeing from Saul. When you compile and reflect upon the psalms written during this period in David’s life you cannot help but marvel at the many treasures that were gained. True, it was a confusing and bewildering experience yet it provided the opportunity for David to know God in a most intimate way. These are qualities that helped position him to effectively rule as king. It is a picture as to how both a king and priest are made (Rev 5:10). Do we think of this period in David’s life as a training manual for becoming King’s and priests? The preferred option is a fast track with minimum opposition.
In the first 8 verses we see the thirsting that David has for the presence of God. Once again we see the fruits of a meditative and consecrated life. In verse 1 we see one of the predominant keys in establishing a strong devotional life. What better way than seeking the Lord early in the day. This was the approach that Jesus took in His relationship with His Father. Long before the sunrise He spent time worshipping and waiting upon the guidance of His Father. This helped to provide a strong base from which the balance of His day would emanate. He was able to make the Lord His sole source of strength and help even while in a dry and thirsty land. Our soul can draw sustenance and relief from many sources. What occupies the cry of our soul? How do we fill the various voids and hunger that come forth? Is God our help in time of need and thirst? Several years ago I was in a remote Indian village with many of our orphan children. It was during a very hot and dry period. I took a walk in the mid afternoon and found myself hot and very thirsty. (I did not take water with me) After a time I could hear the squeaky sound of the manual water pump from the village in the distance. All I could think about was a cup of that cool water from the well. My mind focused on nothing else other that its desire to have my thirst quenched. This to me is a picture of the kind of relationship and longing that David had for God. The loins of his mind were firmly fixed upon His God and out of this came forth his ability to endure any hardship. He effectively reflected upon past times of God’s help which emboldened and helped him in his present challenges. Once again we see the discipline of soul that David had in his walk (vs 8). It takes a very strong person to be able to bless the Lord at all times, especially those times when the soul may be cast down. David was able to channel his hunger and appetite towards the things of God. There are a few courses taken from the first 8 verses of Psalm 63 that come to mind. There is another related charismatic chorus that comes to mind that I would like to share below seeing that it summarises David’s heart for God.
Oh Lord Jesus, I hunger and thirst after thee, O Lord Jesus, you are the breath of my life; O Lord Jesus, without you I can’t run the race, O Lord Jesus, I long to see your face.
David now turns the tables on those who come against him in the closing three verses. Those who plot destruction shall themselves fall prey to destruction. There end is sure and it is eternal within the pit. (vs 9) Today we are seeing the rise of militant assaults against Christianity and for the moment there seems to be no end in sight. David understood this, was able to hold steady in its midst and still be in the place of declaring God’s ultimate victory in the end. It is a needed recipe for the church of the last days that needs to be appropriated.
2 Cor 3
Paul once again re-establishes his credentials due to many groups that were seeking to undermine him and the work of the church. Paul was making the case that the proof of the ministry is the life they were leading. He likened them to living epistles that were being observed by others. That in itself should be proof of the impact that Paul had brought through the time spent with them as well as the fruits of his first letter. It is a sobering thought to think that our lives are likened to a living book. What is the story that is being told? It is good to meditate on this truth from time to time to help ensure our life is in order. Paul was very confident of the message his life was conveying to the Corinthians because of the work of the Holy Spirit being manifest through him. He had a large heart for this church and everything he did for the Corinthians resulted from the love he had for them.
In verses 6-9 Paul makes a contrast between the New and Old Testament. There is confusion and debate over these verses primarily over the expression; the letter killeth. Does this mean that the Old Testament is no longer relevant? Absolutely not; it only kills when it is misapplied and repeated without the ministration of the Holy Spirit. A good example would be the advice given to Job from his three friends. Their words only added death to Job because they were not able to identify in his area of need. Many today like to eliminate the Old Testament, especially the law so that they can fashion a doctrine that is more appealing to the masses. Jesus made this point very clear when He elevated the standard of the Old Testament law that the children of Israel could not keep. How is it today that many miss or choose to forget what Jesus had to say about whether He came to destroy the law? It all comes down to the New Covenant; the law of God being written upon the fleshly table of our heart. It is a work and process that gets to the core of who we are and many simply do not like to go there.
Why was the Old Testament known as the ministration of death to Israel? It is because they had no power in the Old Covenant to keep its precepts? It took the Lord, as the Son of man, empowered by the Holy Spirit to become the ultimate sin sacrifice. When the Law was first given there were 3000 that perished. At the same time there was such a glory that shown about the face of Moses; a glory so strong that his face had to be veiled. Yet, there is a greater glory to come by way of the ministration of the Spirit. It is interesting to compare the following verses: (Exo 32:15-28, Acts 2:41) In the Old Testament you see the perishing of 3000 souls while in the New Testament you see about 3000 souls being added. Paul is saying that as we walk in the spirit we can fulfil the law (Rom 8:1). It was through the Spirit that Jesus was able to fulfil the will of the Father in going to the cross. The Old Testament believer could not experience the victory over the law; it exposed and revealed sin. The offerings that God required were symbolic of the once and for all offering that was to come. It is through the law where one has a revelation of sin. It gives strength to sin and up until Christ no one had the power to gain victory over it. This is why the Old Testament Law has been labelled as the ministration of death. Paul is now letting the Corinthians know that life in the Spirit can give victory over the Law. In the Old Testament the law was located in the Holy of Holies within the Ark of the Covenant. No man could enter or approach the Holy of Holies because it would have resulted in instant death. Only the high priest could enter in once a year on the Feast of Atonement to make offering for the sins of the people. When Jesus died upon the cross the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy place was rent in two signifying access to the New Testament believer. It is not an automatic access like many have been led to believe. There is a way of approach as we appropriate the blood of the Lamb while walking in the light of His glory (1 John 1:7).
In verses 10-11 Paul speaks of a greater glory to come. When Moses came down from the mount at the giving of the Law there was great glory, so much so that his face had to be veiled (Exo 34:33). If this is true of the Old Covenant how much for the New? The glory that is to come will exceed any previous outpouring; included will be a greater righteousness as well. This greater glory can be applied to the Feast of Tabernacles. This is the 7th Feast of Israel and it can be also connected to the 7th kingdom parable. This is the parable of the great net that is cast that brings in all kinds of fish, both good and bad. The measure of glory will be instrumental in helping to draw multitudes into the kingdom.
Paul has been looking to bring order back into the Corinthian church and is now pointing to its great potential. They are a church that believes in the gifts of the spirit but they are and have been in need of instruction. This epistle should both challenge and excite the believers of the last day. The glory to come will not only be greater than previous outpourings but it will be enduring which will usher in the millennial reign of Christ. Paul emphasizes the great hope; opportunity and privilege the Corinthians have as they look forward.
In verses 14-15 Paul explains the curse and blindness that is upon Israel. They were so tied to the letter of the law that they had no light or insight into its spiritual implications; no ability to know or understand the New Covenant reality. Paul then says that the veil and curse will be removed from Israel at the time of the 2nd coming. It will be at the time when they see the nail prints in the hands of the one whom they have pierced (Rom 11:25-27).
The Lord desires that we come into that place of beholding His glory. It is true; we become like whom we worship. As we gaze and look upon the Lord we can become more like Him, to be changed from glory to glory. It is in the Holy of Holies where we can behold His beauty and be transformed. It is in the presence of a Holy God where we are changed. We cannot just presume to do so. Yes, Christ has made a way for us when he died upon the Cross but it is only as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh where we can come into His very presence. It is God’s intent that we all become kings and priests; will we allow Him to do that work by His Spirit?