PSALMS 64:1 – 66:20 and 2 CORINTHIANS 4:1–18
It is speculated that this Psalm is written at the same time of Psalm 63. It is another Psalm where David is in great distress because of his enemy. We gain considerable strategic insight into many of the tactics of the enemy. In reading verse (2) I am reminded of a prophetic word given in a conference over 30 years ago. The word spoke of how the name of the fellowship was known and discussed in the camp of the enemy. It was an encouragement and a challenge at the same time. The fact that the name was known signified the threat that the fellowship represented; it indicated that the fellowship was making inroads into the kingdom of darkness. At the same time there was the realization that there would be a targeting of the fellowship due to the threat that was represented. In subsequent years we saw just how true this was. The kingdom of darkness is real and it does wage war against those who seek to establish God’s kingdom and agenda matters. The devils knew the names of Jesus and Paul in the Book of Acts because of their respective impacts but gave no heed to those who only sought the anointing. This is why many works which have the appearance of success and influence oftentimes pose little or no threat to the kingdom of darkness.
The enemy comes against those who know the heart of God and seek to bring forth his agenda upon the earth. David would well understand this due to his heart for God. He has come to know of the enemy’s plotting and wicked devices. Notice in verse 3 that the arrows are mentioned as weapons of the tongue. Our words are powerful and we need to be very careful of the spirit and motive that underlie our conversations. The fruit of bitterness often results from the outflow of inappropriate words. We need to watch what we say and we need to not be offended at words that come our way. The enemy knows when best to fire forth those arrows of bitter words and we must be able to don our armour. Jesus warned about how offenses will come against the people of God and we must be forewarned. These arrows are targeted and shot forth at optimum moments. They are especially targeted at those who are pressing on in the purposes of God (vs 4).
We must remember the Lord was also targeted on many occasions by the enemy. The arrows that the enemy shoots forth can also be subtle. When the Lord came out of the desert after fasting for forty days and nights He was confronted by the enemy. The enemy came to Jesus when He was physically weak and hungry. His arrows targeted his natural appetite but the Lord was able to resist by quoting the Word (Math 4:4). He did not stop there seeing that he tempted Jesus on two other points. His purpose was to try and get Jesus to move outside His designated calling. Jesus was called to the Cross but the enemy was affording Him a short-cut; an easier way. This is exactly what he attempts to do with us. His arrows can take on many forms and we must be vigilant against them all.
In verse 6 we see the enemy seeking diligently to find areas of fault. In the 1930’s the Chicago gangster Al Capone made this statement. “Every man has his price”. He was able to find areas of vulnerability with police officials, judges and government leaders and used those vices to exploit for his personal gain. He neutralized these people in authority because he was able to search out and exploit hidden sins thereby controlling them. They could carry on in their position provided they did not interfere with Al Capone’s business. They would also be bribed and paid off to stay quiet. It is a technique birthed from the pit of hell which is being exploited in its fullness today. What did Jesus say of Himself concerning this tactic of Satan?
Joh 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
How would you like to be able to make such a statement before men and God? This is the potential of the work of grace that can be accomplished in one’s life. We have the reminder of what eventually becomes of the enemy in verses 7-10. The Lord comes on the scene and in a moment everything is turned around. We saw this with wicked Haman as he plotted the destruction of the Jews. David had the quality of seeing the big picture while holding steady in the midst of the enemy’s assault. He also had many occasions where he was able to rejoice amongst the righteous when the Lord would come to vindicate. The key is in trusting and holding steady and coming into a place of understanding the enemy and his ways.
This Psalm appears to take place after Absalom’s rebellion where David is again sitting upon the throne. He reflects on how God has heard his prayer and how His mercies have been extended towards him after his sin. It is a Psalm that speaks of Zion making clear that it is God’s dwelling place and that it’s the place where all the earth shall come before Him. It is in Zion where sins are purged.
Isa 4:4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.
Zion is referred to at the time of the 2nd coming when the sins of Israel are atoned for. This is a process that we in the church can avail of ourselves today. It needs to be reiterated that coming into Zion, into the Holy of Holies cannot be presumed. There is a way of approach. There is a casualness in the body of Christ which is alarming; a come as you are mentality that says we can come into the presence of God on our terms. Let’s be clear; the privilege of coming into Zion is afforded to all but not all are willing to pay the price. This truth is emphasized in verse 4 where it speaks of the Lord being the one who chooses to approach unto Him. There must be that internal cry within us that longs to be like Jesus. It is in His presence where we can behold His beauty and majesty and be transformed into his likeness. Still, it is to those whom God chooses. We need to cry out to God to be chosen and found worthy of our calling. You can see the progression unto godliness (God Likeness) from the 7 steps of perfection that Peter speaks of (2 Pet 1:5-7). It starts with the foundation of faith and builds up from there. As the various attributes are worked within a believer by grace the likeness of God within the person becomes more acute. Do you know this old charismatic course?
To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus, all I ask is to be like Him; all through life’s journey, from earth to glory, all I ask is to be like Him.
David attributes great glory and power to God as He now moves against David’s enemies. He speaks of God in His majesty and power by speaking of mountains and seas in contrast to the tumults of the people. This helps to bring true perspective to the situation. The meditative nature of David once again helps lift his spirits as he is able to see the bigger picture as God being over all things.
David closes this Psalm by speaking of God’s blessing that enriches the land. Remember, this is all taking place after David has reigned on Zion, sin and transgressed against the Lord, having to flee from Absalom and now being restored to the throne. What a beautiful picture of the Restorative power of God. It is also a beautiful picture of a man who acknowledged sin, found mercy while finding the ability to continue to pursue God with a whole heart. There is evidence of the Holy Spirit moving upon the land by the showers of blessing that came forth. There is an abundance of corn which speaks of the Word of God. This is something longed for in the last day church; to see the Spirit of God poured out afresh and to see the knowledge of the Lord filling all the land. This is a picture of the last day revival to come.
Hab 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
This Psalm is penned by an unknown author at the time of the Assyrian invasion upon Israel. (Judah) The people are rejoicing in the aftermath of their (Assyrian) destruction. This account is covered in Isaiah 36-39 and 2 Kings 19. One can imagine the sentiments of the people of Judah after 185,000 Assyrian soldiers being slain in one night. They were under threat and intimidation for a period of time. They had also witnessed the Assyrian assault on their brethren to the north just a short time before. Judah was fortunate to be serving under a godly king who was linked to a prominent prophet. God allowed Israel (northern kingdom) to be overrun by the Assyrians due to their idolatry and unrepentant ways. Each and every king took on the sins of Jeroboam their first king. Hezekiah on the other hand was a king who restored order and was in right relationship with God. He sought the help and guidance of Isaiah in how to manage this threat. The rejoicing resembles that which Israel experienced at the time of the Exodus under Moses leadership (Exo 15). In fact that event is referred to in verse 6. The Exodus and this deliverance from Assyria were divine miracles. Israel, with no other place to go saw the Red Sea open before them. Israel, under Hezekiah was no match for the Assyrian army but in one night 185,000 of their men woke up as dead corpses. Don’t you think you would be singing and rejoicing after such an event? The song of the Exodus comes to mind in reviewing this event.
Exo 15:11 Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
Will there be such events that will take place in our day? What will be the song of the Lord that will be sung at such a time? These events should stir our hearts to press into God with all we have. We need to see how Moses and Hezekiah managed their respective battles because it provides a picture of the last days. In these two events you have Moses as the teaching priest and Hezekiah as the righteous king.
The author then writes on behalf of the congregation in verses 13-20. He speaks of offering his vows that were made while they were in their distress. Have you ever been in a troubled situation where you looked to God and made all kind of promises? We need to carefully note our words and make good on the things spoken, especially if vows were made. Once an answer to prayer materializes we oftentimes forget our promises and move on. The psalmist here is making sure to follow through on that which he uttered. He also makes another important statement in verse 18. If he does not let go of known issues or iniquity in his heart the Lord will not hear him. One of the keys to answered prayer is being open to what the Lord may be addressing in our lives. If He puts His finger on something within us we need to respond. He goes on to say that God has heard him thus signifying the psalmist to be a righteous man; a man who allowed God to work deeply within him. He is also a man who came to know the abundant mercies of God.
2 Cor 4
This chapter puts an emphasis on the inner man. The Apostle Paul taught and wrote extensively on this subject seeing that the church and people seem to always get caught up in externals. The same is true today. Paul is going to cover the subject of earthen vessels (people) having the privilege of bearing the presence of God. It is not the vessel that matters it is what the vessel contains. We have been given a treasure that exceeds all things; how is it stewarded? In verse 1 we see Paul as an apostle carrying a huge burden and responsibility. It is the grace and mercy of God that sustains him. It is a ministry that one does not seek after, it is God given. A minister has a high responsibility to be inwardly what he shows himself to be outwardly. Far too many mask the reality of who they are. There are also those who misrepresent the Word of God for personal gain while making a mockery of the Truth. What do people see in the life of a minister? It is a high calling and one who is in ministry needs to seek the Lord in being able to be authentic and real.
Satan is the god of this world and his objective is to keep people in darkness. He is at his strongest when he is concealed and hidden. This is why the light of God’s Word represents a threat to him. Those who pursue the truth and light will be resisted and opposed. How will we respond at such times? Remember what the Psalmist said in Psa 43?
Psa 43:3 O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.
People who have Zion as their goal and vision are those who uncover the works of darkness. It first starts within one’s own life. The reality today is that Satan is very clever at sugar coating and masking the truth. He has many devices that are used to distort and distract the people of God from the Truth of what God is looking to do. When a people reject Truth they are given over to another spirit. We see this in church circles as well.
Rom 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
In verse 6 Paul speaks of the light from God that shines out of darkness into our hearts. When this happens we have the opportunity to grow in the light and knowledge of God. Once again it is a choice because when the light shines it brings the hidden things to the surface. How do we respond at such times? Do we reach for the fig leaves or excuse the matter out of hand? Do we acknowledge the light and allow for it to bring cleansing and change into our lives? Paul is presenting this message to the Corinthians and likening them to a vessel that has a treasure contained within. In his first letter he had to shine considerable light upon their ways so that they could get a true picture as to who they were. The church seems to be responding by appropriating the counsel and advice that Paul has given them.
The walk of a believer will have its challenges. Jesus made this clear as Paul is doing along with other writers. In verses 8-12 Paul lists several areas of affliction. He mentions that he has been troubled but not in distress, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but knowing the presence of Jesus in His midst and cast down but having the ability to get back up again. This is Christian resiliency at its best. Paul goes on to say that he bears in his body the marks of Jesus for the purpose of bringing life to others. The message of the crucified life is one that brings a release of life to others. When Jesus died upon the cross He opened the way for each of us to know eternal life. It takes a man or woman who is not self-centred to make such an impact. Paul was able to present a witness to the death of Jesus by living a life of dying daily (1 Cor 15:31). He also was a witness of the resurrection power of Christ through the Holy Spirit. In verse 15 Paul shows forth a true father figure. All things are done for the sakes of others which in turn brings greater glory to God.
Finally Paul helps us to see beyond the here and now. We go to great lengths to keep up our natural bodies in good shape which is a good thing when done in moderation. Paul though puts our focus clearly on the internal state of man with an eye on the eternal. The external and all its visible glory are but temporal; whether it is a person, church or other entity. The internal qualities deserve our attention especially when considering the treasures that they contain. We are earthen vessels that have the opportunity and privilege of containing the treasures of God. If stewarded properly the Spirit can develop and grow within to bring us into the stature of Christ. These are the things that matter and they carry on throughout eternity.