PSALMS 85:1 – 87:7 and 2 CORINTHIANS 11:1–33
This Psalm takes place at the beginning of the Restoration era soon after the end of the Babylonian captivity. It is a remembrance and prayer of thanksgiving for all that the Lord has done. This is a healthy approach to take as Israel is about to embark in a whole new way of life. They have been in exile for about 70 years and are now coming into a place where God is going to restore them. You find the prayers and approach taken during this period to be mature and reflective. I would assume that many of the leaders would be well aware how quickly Israel as a nation turned from God after their years of bondage under the Egyptians. They do not want to make the same mistakes again. What needs to be noted during this period is the rise of the faithful priesthood who were able to bring perspective and order to the people. The moment they began to slip back into their idolatrous ways you find the priests, like Ezra and Joshua restoring order by exalting the law of God. They were doing what Moses exhorted the people to do before going in to possess their inheritance. They were upholding God’s laws and statutes and in doing so were preserving the nation.
Ezra 7:10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
In verses 1-2 the psalmist acknowledges the blessing of the Lord upon Israel. He goes on to make mention as to how their iniquity has been forgiven. Israel had sinned grievously in the lead up to the Babylonian captivity. They had become an idolatrous and immoral people and far from the example that God was looking for them to be before the nations. The 70 years of captivity resulted in a cleansing for Israel and through it all God had brought forgiveness. He now is looking to restore His beloved nation to their land. The difference this time is that there is a quality of priests and leaders that will spearhead this effort. In verses 3-4 the psalmist displays great humility in asking the Lord to turn Israel back to Himself. It is a prayer of utter dependence upon His mercies. It was a prayer of asking for the favor of God to rest upon the people. Can you see the fruits of this foundational prayer of the psalmist? Before the process of restoring Israel to their land he is asking the Lord to keep them in check and to allow His favor to rest upon them.
Think of a marriage just starting out. The initial joy of a godly union can make a couple lax in praying for the long term survival of the relationship. It is good right from the beginning to put the Lord at the forefront and to ask for His guidance, favor and mercy to always be upon them. To pray in such a manner from the beginning is most pleasing to God and it will help ensure His hand to be upon the couple. The problem for many of us is we wait until there are problems before seeking the Lord. The psalmist here wants to start off on solid ground by bringing forth a prayer of acknowledgement for all that God has done and to ask for His guiding hand as they embark on their journey of Restoration.
In verse 8 there is a posture taken in hearing what God would speak. The problem many of us have in hearing God’s voice is we really do not want to hear what He is saying. We have selective hearing based upon what is in our heart (2 Tim 4:3). There needs to be a willingness and trust in the Lord that whatever He would speak it would be for our good. In verse 10 we see the two beautifully balanced attributes of God coming together once again. Remember Psa 25:10? “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth”. Once again we see mercy and truth joined together and they are linked with righteousness and peace. During the restoration era we do see Truth springing forth out of the earth and the righteousness of God at a premium. Moses as the priest of God had a revelation of the mercy and attributes of God (Exo 34:6). The Restoration era is now being secured under the leadership and guidance of a priesthood that puts a high premium on mercy, truth, righteousness and peace. Priests like Ezra know the heart of God and have come into a deep revelation and understanding of His ways. They will now teach these precepts unto the people. Jeremiah spoke of a time when these qualities would again fill the land.
Jer 33:6 Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.
Jer 33:15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
Jer 33:16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.
This is a psalm of David with no identifiable time frame. It seems to be a summary of many of his experiences encountered throughout his lifetime. If this is true it could then be something written toward his latter days. This psalm brings great comfort and encouragement to those who may be under oppression and going through difficulty. The 1st verse can be linked with the 1st beatitude. “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” It is an experience that every Christian will go through especially those who make a mark for the kingdom. The Lord Jesus Christ experienced this at the time of the betrayal of Judas.
Psa 109:16 Because that he remembered not to show mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart.
David cried out to God that He would preserve him because he is holy. As believers we are not holy when we are born again. We are called to be holy and have the opportunity to draw upon the grace and mercy of God as we go from strength to strength. The work of the cross gives each of us the opportunity to die daily and become Christ-like in every area of our lives. David could make this statement because he feared and trusted God and was ever dependent upon His mercies. The Lord gives us the invitation to call upon His name in time of need. We sometimes need to avail ourselves more of this privilege.
Jer 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
In verses 8-10 David speaks of the greatness of God. He was one who meditated upon God and his greatness. He took time to ponder the creative genius of God by looking at the night sky and its handiwork of stars etc. (Psa 8). This helps to give the big picture so that we realize that God is truly above all things which would include our circumstances. There is nothing, absolutely nothing too hard for our God (Jer 32:27). David was even able to foresee a time when all nations would come and bow before him. This is an event that will take place during the millennium (Zech 14:16).
In verse 11 David prays for unity of heart and for the ability to walk in truth. In essence this is what the New Covenant is all about. It is having the Law of God written and etched upon the fleshly tables of our heart. This is what allows for us to have a heart that is united with God’s heart. It is how we come to know his heart. It is also how we come to know truth on the inward parts. This prayer of David is a New Covenant prayer and one we all need to adopt. This resultant experience allows for a joy and triumphant declaration of praise as seen in verses 12-13. In fact, it is another one of the Old Testament chorus’s we used to sing in the days of the charismatic renewal.
David knew God and he knew the heart of God. He again alludes to the well balanced attributes of mercy and truth (vs 15). It is clear that he had a similar revelation of God that Moses had while upon Mt. Sinai (Exo 34:6). This is a picture of a true king/priest. David was both and he models for us the manner of king/priest to come on the scene in these last days. The church of our day needs to adopt this prayer of David’s as its own.
This is a Psalm where the Lord declares His love for Zion. What is it about Zion that draws the Lord’s love and preference? It is the dwelling place He has chosen for His habitation. It is the place where He allowed His presence to dwell after David became king over all of Israel. It is the place that God has chosen above all other places. This truth is referenced in many places such as Psa 15, 24, 78, 132 as well as others. It is an exclusive dwelling place but the invitation is available to those who have the vision birthed within their hearts. Being birthed in Zion is a knowing that something deep is being done in our hearts; a recognized call to holiness which provokes a pursuit of His very best. There are then the qualifications seen in Psa 15 and 24. The progression is illustrated through Moses Tabernacle in its 3 divisions. The outer court is where you will find the majority of Christians dwelling today. They may be in the kingdom but it is a relationship that tends to be more self-serving than that of seeking God’s very best. It is where man serves God on his terms. The holy place and Holy of Holies is a deeper experience that requires priestly qualities to be in evidence. It is in the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant rests and speaks of those who dwell in Zion.
Psa 132:13 For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.
Psa 132:14 This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.
If Zion is the resting place that God has chosen should we not seek to dwell there as well? It is possible but the vision must be birthed within and there must be the commitment to seek to qualify to ascend God’s Holy Hill.
It’s true; God is partial towards Zion more than any of the other dwelling places of Jacob. God loves all of His children but He does have a particular fondness for those who seek to dwell there. There is a cost involved and it reflects a people who desire to know the heart of God. It reflects a people who put God and His ways above all things; a people who love His laws and Truth and seeks to walk in them. In our Christian walk we are tested in how committed we are to serving God. What is in our heart will reflect where our true allegiances lie. If our heart is pure and one that embraces truth we may become candidates for Zion (Psa 15 and 24). King David exemplifies the manner of man or woman who can come into that dwelling place; it’s a person who has an all-out heart for God. The journey of one who seeks to go to Zion can be characterized another way. It would be prudent to take time to examine the journey of the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh to Zion (1 Sam 4 thru2 Sam 6). The Ark was in Moses Tabernacle at Shiloh under a corrupted priesthood (Eli and his two sons). The people took the presence of the Lord for granted resulting in the Ark being taken from Moses Tabernacle at Shiloh never to return. It began a journey and finally came under the capable custodial care of a King/Priest named David. He had the privilege of establishing the Ark upon Zion’s hill. There are many other truths that will be picked up concerning Zion in future commentaries. May it be said of each of us that we were born and established in Zion (vs 5).
2 Cor 11
Paul continues his assault against those who were bringing forth another gospel. He knew the potential of what their poison could do if it was not properly countered. He expresses a godly jealousy over them and he admits to it because of his love for them. He desires to teach a word that will produce a godly chaste bride for the bridegroom. He then goes back to the garden where the subtlety of the enemy was on full display when he tempted and seduced Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. In like manner the Corinthian’s were in danger of falling into the same trap. The same is true today with many of the clever and seducing doctrines that exist. Paul was not being jealous in trying to defend a reputation but rather for the reason of preserving the church from being corrupted. If we have a true love and concern for people we will be provoked to godly jealousy. The gospel message that is under the anointing is not complicated. It becomes complicated when man seeks to rationalize away the laws and commandments of God. Why do you think we have 10 thousands of laws in the books today in the USA? God gave Adam a simple commandment that if obeyed would not have resulted in sin. The serpent took that simple law and redefined it thus making it complicated and filled with great consequence. If we would learn to Trust and Obey God all would be well.
Paul uses puns and some humour in trying to help the Corinthians see the folly of following the false teachers. Many today are preaching “another Jesus”, a message that may sound good using Biblical passages but a message void of the cross and mention of sin. No matter how well decorated it may be presented it is another gospel. In verses 5-9 Paul speaks with a hint of humour in how he has provided for the Corinthian freely while other charlatans take charity for their services. He worked among them, took no wages or support in the establishing of the church yet they are now willing to support ministries that preach another Jesus. Paul is saying in a tongue in cheek kind of way, have I missed something, hmm, I must be doing something wrong since you are so willing to forsake the truth for another gospel message. Once again, we see the same things happening today. In sounding out on such matters it makes one sound like they are jealous. It probably made Paul look like he was being jealous. It’s true, there is jealousy but not for the reasons people would think. Having a godly jealousy is far different. The concern is where such teaching will take people in the end. A person who has a true love and concern for people will react in such a way when they perceive the subtle seeds of false doctrine creeping into the church.
Satan’s greatest challenge is to be able to redefine truth from behind the pulpits of churches (vs 13-15). Be on the lookout when you begin to see compromise enter into the church. It starts very innocently and boy is it ever so subtle. The soul and emotions become stirred just as they did with Eve in the garden. Once compromise enters in a door is open and Satan now has an access he did not have before. He does not openly attack the Cross from the pulpit but introduces tiny bits of error at the first. It will be a matter of time before the cracks widen to greater lengths. Spiritual discernment is an absolute must in addition to being able to uphold truth. The Corinthians were gullible to such teachers just as many churches are today.
Paul now reasserts his credentials to the church (vs 16-19). He is still speaking in a “tongue in cheek” mode to the Corinthians by saying: Look, since you are so discerning and willingly invite anyone to your pulpits how about inviting me and use your discernment to determine if I tell you the truth. Paul chooses to speak to them this way due to their gullible inclinations. He loved them and was trying to communicate anyway he could to help them see the truth. In verses 24-27 Paul hits home with his message by saying have any of these other ministries suffered all of these perils, persecutions and modes of suffering? He has the credentials and he has paid a price. He would not spend time investing in the Corinthian or any other church for naught. He was seeking to shame them for their foolishness in easily going after many of these false teachers who not only preach another gospel but take from them as well. Paul was different, markedly different and he makes his case very well. As this chapter closes Paul gives an overview of his journey to date. He does not do this to boast but to demonstrate the love He has for Christ and for the work and people God has given to him. Paul could out boast the best of them but his only boasting comes in his lifting the name of Jesus through all of his suffering. Paul is an amazing man with an ability to communicate his message in unique ways. 2 Cor 11 is but another example of seeing Paul at his best.