PSALMS 82:1 – 84:12 and 2 CORINTHIANS 10:1–18
This Psalm serves as an indictment to the ministers of the Lord who do not live by the message that they preach. In such cases they can represent one of the greatest hindrances to the growth of the Gospel. God has given the privilege of ministry to be an example and standard by which people should live. Israel was called to be the nation that was to radiate the glory and majesty of God and His kingdom. The following verses serves as an indictment upon Israel which is reflected in this psalm:
Ezek 5:5 Thus saith the Lord GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her.
Ezek 5:6 And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them.
Israel actually became worse than the nations they were called to be an example to. What we see in Israel as a nation we see in many of the ministries today. Where is true justice, where is the upholding of God’s standards. Instead of the church becoming the standard bearer she becomes more like the world and in some cases even worse. Why does this happen? It all comes down to the lowering of God’s divine standard and plumb line. It all comes down to the priesthood which chooses to make itself more accountable to the people than to God. The first 4 verses ask the question as to where is true judgement and equity. They were saying that the wicked are actually just; they gave little regard to the poor and did not defend them coupled with having no ability to discern right from wrong.
The leaders are called to be the backbone and foundation of what the church is called to be. If they are out of alignment then the whole work will suffer. The minister is held to a higher standard because it is through the minister that a work is established. A true minister must walk in the Fear of the Lord and be totally dependent upon the Lord’s mercies. The enemy targets leaders for this very reason; if they can be altered or shaken it will affect the whole of the work.
In verse 6 we are called to be “gods” or to be like God. This is possible through what Jesus accomplished at the Cross. We are called to be holy and partakers of his divine nature (Lev 11:44, 1 Pet 1:15-16). It is God’s desire that we grow in god likeness as we walk in the light (2 Pet 1:5-7). Remember, the Lord is preparing a bride for Himself. There is a process involved in coming into that level of relationship. The psalm closes with the prayer that God would vindicate and judge the earth in righteousness. There will be a time when God will judge all men for how they lived; a time when rulers and ministers will give an account. The anointing of the Fear of the Lord will help keep ministers and all of us in alignment with the living God and His purposes.
This psalm seems to refer to the timeframe of King Jehoshaphat’s rule. It would be about the time when Assyria was a rising power and enemy force against Israel. Judah, under Jehoshaphat was being troubled by several nations that were aligning themselves against them (2 Chr 20). It was a historical account that served as an inspiration to Ezra and the restorers when they were being troubled in the early stages of their rebuilding effort. Once again this is why it so important to journal and record God’s history and working within one’s life. It can help bring encouragement and strength when going through difficulty.
In verse 1 the appeal is made to God Himself; not man that he would deliver and answer directly. This was characteristic of the restorers whether it was Ezra or Nehemiah. They knew their call and they oftentimes appealed directly to God when events would prove overwhelming.
Neh 4:4 Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity:
Neh 4:5 And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders.
Nehemiah above did not take the attacks personally but directed his prayer to God. He knew that the enemy’s attack was actually against God since He was the one who authorized the rebuilding work.
There are many verses that help to give insight into the tactics of the enemy. They are crafty, subtle with the intent of looking for ways to stop the work of God. We also see that when the enemy has a common foe they will unite with rival nations to fight against God. The work of the restorers faced similar challenges. There were people who pretended to be interested in the rebuilding project of the temple (Ezra 4). The leadership discerned their intent and did not allow them to help. The enemy then caused the work to cease for about 16 years. You can see how Ezra (who chronicled these psalms) would use this as a means of encouraging those of the restoration era. He looked to history to help give perspective to all that was taking place. It should be noted that the enemy hates the message of restoration. It then needs to be noted that it is one of the primary initiatives of God for the last days; He is a God who loves to Restore. The enemy is a divider while God is one who unites.
In verses 9-11 the writer again refers to history in battles that God fought on behalf of his people. In this case the recorded victories against the Midianites are cited while under the leadership of Gideon. The track record of God should be highlighted especially while going through times of distress. When looking at the period of the Restoration we need to remember that the kind of prayers that went forth were of a priestly nature. What distinguishes a priestly prayer from others? They assume responsibility for the sins and condition of the land. They cry out and lament the sin and seek the living God for mercy. They do not excuse or dismiss sin but take responsibility for sin while teaching God’s people in how they should live. In the end a priestly prayer is one that seeks to ultimately bring glory to God. It is a prayer that is jealous for God and His name. This is the final exhortation as seen in the closing verse of this psalm (vs 18).
This is a beautiful Psalm that depicts the joy and privilege of dwelling in and near the presence of the Lord. It is written by the sons of Korah who were doorkeepers in the house of the Lord. This was their ministry and their devotion to service is reflected in the psalm. They loved what they did and they were very good at it. They had intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the temple and we can glean some keys while going through these verses.
In verses 1-2 you can see the love they had for the presence of God. This is something we should seek to major on as well. How do you feel about an upcoming church service? This was a reality to me in my early years as a believer. I was so touched by God that all I wanted was for the next weekend to come so that I could again be in church. In the years 1982-83 I was living in Buffalo New York. My home church was in Erie Pennsylvania which came about due to my work related duties. The distance between Buffalo and Erie is about 160 kilometres. I would travel to Erie every weekend and spend my weekends there because of my desire to be at the church services. I think I only missed about 6 weekends over the course of the year. Eventually I moved to Erie and resided there until being posted overseas as a missionary. That was a special period in my life and I often draw from it when going through dry seasons. I again pray for such rekindling of desire for the presence of the Lord. I was also a diligent Bible student during that period. I was blessed to have a Pastor who had a love for the Word of God and faithfully taught the Word of God systematically on a weekly basis. (He still is my Pastor) I still have my notes from those teaching sessions and have drawn from them over the years.
The psalmist speaks of the birds that have found a resting place within the sanctuary which depicts the condition and nature of the priests that reside there. The house of God should be a place of Rest where one is refreshed, empowered and revived. This is the purpose of the Sabbath in its truest form. It was created for man so that he could worship His creator unhindered from labour and toil. It is sad to consider what the Sabbath has now become. The House of the Lord among other things is to be a place of Rest.
It is from a position of Rest where we can draw strength (vs 5). It is God’s intention that we cease from our own labours and enter into Rest where we then walk in newness of strength. When we walk in accordance to God’s will and his ways we become empowered to fulfil the task. The verse then speaks concerning knowing the heart of God. This is what the New Covenant represents; the laws of God being written upon the fleshly tables of our heart (Jer 31:33). When considering the Tabernacle of Moses we discover that the law resided in the Holy of Holies. It is not accessible to the casual believer that exists in the Outer Court. There needs to be a hunger and pursuit of God that draws us deeper into His presence as demonstrated by the approach the priests had to make in the days of Moses Tabernacle. The priests were the only ones who had access to the Holy place and holiest of all so it is essential that we become priests of God. Many fail in this because they simply want to serve God on their terms. God desired that all his people would become priests (Exo 19:6) but they were disqualified due to being offended at the giving of the law (Exo 20:18). Psalm 84 helps to establish the way of approach into the presence of Almighty God.
In verse 6 we come to know of experiences of suffering and sorrow. It is painful and it is real but it helps to develop a capacity within us to have compassion for others who go through their own adversity. The Christian journey is an ongoing one that can take us from one level of glory to another. It requires a love and pursuing after God. There are qualifications and requirements in order to be brought into such a relationship (Psa 15-24). This is a psalm of Zion. In verse 10 we see the sheer joy that the doorkeepers had in their task of serving. They understood that their divinely appointed position was far greater than the vain pursuits of their world. This is a truth we should seek to emulate. We should seek the Lord for that which He has called us to do and do all we can to serve faithfully in that place of appointment. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing we are serving in the position that God has created us for. We spend so much time allowing the world to define what is best and right for us as opposed in allowing God to have His say. When one comes to the end of their life it will all come out. We do not want to suffer the tragedy of falling short of that which God has created for us to do. The doorkeepers were joyful and satisfied in their appointed task; there was nothing else that they would rather be. How wonderful to know and experience such contentment.
The Psalmist finishes by making clear the blessings of learning to trust the Lord. He is faithful to those who look to Him and desire to be in His presence. May God help to put such a love and desire within our own hearts to serve him in a similar manner.
2 Cor 10
The Apostle Paul will now address those who were opposing him in his efforts to promote the gospel message. There were Judaizers that the Apostle Paul had to deal with. These were men who sought to enforce Old Testament legalism upon the churches. These are formidable foes and they were clearly taking direct aim against Paul. He had to deal with this on a more extensive basis in Galatia and his epistle to the Galatians reflects this. It is one thing to deal with outward enemies but those who oppose doctrinally is another kind of battle that must be faced head on. Paul begins by coming against those who oppose him in a demeanour of meekness. This is a fatherly approach in trying to bridge a divide. He was a much greater figure than those opposing him but he sought to approach them in a gentle way. Paul was not bragging of his credentials and he did not want to have to challenge them in that way. There will always be the Korah’s who will challenge the authority of leaders like a Moses or Paul. They usually come to the surface when a standard is being lifted up that they choose or cannot uphold themselves. They say things like “Who raised you up, you are just a man” etc etc. The response of Paul and the response of Moses in their respective cases was that of meekness. This is true strength. They do not have to put on a show to demonstrate their authority but at the same time are faithful in looking after the interests of the church by upholding true standards.
In verses 3-4 we see one of the primary differences between the Old and New Testament. In the Old Testament Israel fought against physical enemies. The battles now fought in the New Testament are spiritual. We no longer wrestle against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces. Paul lists the spiritual weapons that are available to the church in Eph 6:10-18. The primary offensive weapon is the Word of God which is known as the sword of the spirit. One of the objectives of the enemy is to wage war in the mind. It is here where battles can be lost or won. It is in the mind where thoughts come forth and it is here where a lifestyle can begin to emerge. This is why Paul endorses the helmet of salvation as one of the spiritual weapons in a believer’s arsenal. Our minds must seek a focus upon the things of the Lord and not make allowances for distractions. Today’s world seeks to bombard our minds with images and content that result in insulation from the things of God. In the church we must guard against an over absorption of social media. Sadly, even the church is becoming more out of touch with the realities surrounding it.
There is an important truth in verse 6. There is the tendency in wanting to move against a situation or indignation before we are clear of things ourselves. The Corinthians had to get their own house in order before they could move against other issues. This is also a warning for us as well. We are very quick to point out fault in others without allowing personal introspection into our own lives. The Corinthians did respond favourably to Paul’s first letter so they are now in a better position to revenge against indignation in other areas. Paul goes on to say that his letters were not for the purpose of terrifying them as others charged him of but rather that they were intended to build them up. He wrote them strongly because of his love for them. The people who were making charges against Paul did not have such love for the Corinthians; their attacks against Paul were self-serving. They even went so far as to attack Paul’s physical appearance as confirming that he was in reality a weak person. They said he may write powerfully but he cannot back it up. In the natural Paul may not have looked imposing but he was a giant in the things of the Spirit. In verses 11-12 Paul warns of the danger of comparing yourself with others. These men who were challenging Paul were of no similar stature yet they were casting lofty accusations against Paul. The friends of Job thought they were at a peer level with him but Job was of a much greater stature. This is why they could not relate to his trial.
It was Paul’s desire that the Corinthian church would continue to grow and mature so that they could expand the kingdom for the glory of God. He wanted their faith to grow and enlarge and to not be bound or restricted by those who were sowing another gospel. Paul concludes by reminding them to glory in the Lord. It is God who gives the calling, the gifts and the inheritance and we want to learn to function faithfully within those parameters. It is God’s intention for the kingdom to expand but it must be on God’s terms. As we learn to glory in the Lord and be content He will help ensure that we will be fruitful. We need to focus on that which God has given to us and be faithful in it.