PSALMS 88:1 – 90:17 and 2 CORINTHIANS 12:1–21
This is one of the Psalms that is somber and sad throughout its length. There is really nothing of hope seen in any of the verses other than the statement that God is the God of his salvation (vs 1). In most of the other writings you would find similar moments of despair, confusion and suffering but it would end on a triumphant note with God seen as coming through. It is not seen here! There are times when our situation may seem so dire that it is very difficult to see any glimmer of light. We can yet hold on to the truth that He is the God of our salvation.
The psalm depicts the earthly life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many feel that the “hidden years” of Christ are uncovered somewhat through this narrative. There is little said about Jesus between his age of 12 and 30. One can speculate that He must have had seasons of true suffering in order to learn obedience in fulfilling His Father’s will (Heb 5:8). I personally feel that Christ suffered more than we realize during those silent years. We must never underestimate His title as the Son of man. He had to know what it was like to be a man in every area with the exception of sin. This is why He is ever interceding before the throne on our behalf.
Rom 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
In the opening verses (vs 1-7) the psalmist cries out regarding the hopelessness of the grave. He is acquainted with the horror and sense of loss regarding the pit. It appears that he has been given a taste of what hell is like. Jesus spoke on hell extensively in the gospels; even more than on heaven. As the Son of man He came to know of hell’s terror and sense of eternal loss. As the Son of God He would know of hell’s purpose because he created it for the fallen angels but He could not be acquainted with its sense of hopelessness unless experienced as the Son of man. The mystery in how God could become man is one that will be pondered throughout eternity.
The Psalmist also suffered the loss of acquaintances and friends as seen in verses 8-10. This was an experience that Job would endure through his trial. He has no words to express in trying to reconcile his situation. As Christians we are part of a body of believers but there are those times when we feel isolated and alone. There will be periods when one may be misunderstood or falsely maligned which only heightens the trial. It is through such times when we remember that God is our salvation and hope. We cling and hold unto Him no matter what. It is a very real trial.
The psalmist cries out to God asking the question as to how he can bless while going down to the grave. No matter how long and persistent his prayer to God there seems to be no answer forthcoming. It appears that he has yet to be delivered from whatever trial he was going through at this time. The Lord is using the experience of this psalmist to give a clearer picture of the future “suffering Saviour”. To me, it helps to present the humanity of the Lord regarding some of the challenges He would have gone through. We know about his last 3 ½ years in the leading up to the cross. Perhaps, this psalm helps to shed some light on those hidden years which helped to prepare and shape Him for the time of His unveiling at the River Jordan. He had to already be an extraordinary man in order to be able to step into those last 3 ½ years as the servant of mankind.
There is much to glean from this psalm from its many messages that come forth. Many feel that it was written at the time Jerusalem was brought into captivity. The writer is well acquainted with what is taking place and finds himself pleading with God to remember the promises of His covenant to David. One can only imagine the sentiments of the writer as he sees his beloved nation slipping into the throes of captivity. I can relate in a very small way as I see America slip sliding away into chaos and judgement. It is at such times when the promises and covenants are called to mind to help soften the reality of what is about to take place.
The familiar song that speaks of the mercies of the Lord is expressed through the first 4 verses. This is a beautiful declaration to make on a daily basis. No matter what we can always sing and speak of His mercies because they are new every morning. We sing the song but do not know the context of when it was penned. Remember, the mercy of God is the highest revelation that the Lord gives of Himself (Exo 34:6).
Ethan, the Psalmist ponders the greatness of God’s creation in much the same manner that David did throughout his life (Psa 8). This helps to bring perspective in the midst of overwhelming circumstances. Though captivity is imminent the psalmist is able to see the big picture; to know that it is God who is in control and allowing it. It is a perspective the church of the last days must come to know as well. God is far greater than the enemies who are about to besiege Judah but God is allowing it to happen. The parallels between Ethan’s day and our day are not that much different. A key in going through such difficulties is the ability to praise and declare the righteousness of God (vs 14-18). It is a statement of faith and trust in the Lord.
In verses 19-37 the Psalmist calls to mind the promises that God made to David. He refers back to the time when David was anointed king at the time of Saul (1 Sam 16:11-13). He speaks of God’s ability in being able to protect him from all of his enemies. Indeed, God did protect David and allowed him to prevail even when he was in a season of captivity himself. This prayer of reflection is meant to serve as a precedent for the period of wandering that Israel is about to go through as a nation. In looking back over history we do see that God did maintain his promise and covenant to Israel. All of the above is actually prophetic of Christ who was David’s greater Son (Psa 110). If we take this one step further we can appreciate its meaning for the church for the last days. Our God is a covenant keeping God unto all generations. We must see the big picture and understand how God moved in the past. History is about to repeat itself and there is a beautiful track record of the mercies of the Lord.
In verses 38-45 we see the horror of destruction coming upon Judah and God’s people. How painful it must have been to witness the stripping away of any semblance of how things used to be. Judah’s enemies now prevail on every side. Evil is having its day and there seems now to be no remedy. Already the psalmist is crying out to God, how long Lord will this continue to be? It is one thing to know and understand the big picture; to know that God is greater than all enemies. It is another thing to experience first-hand the very real pain and reality of judgement. It hurts and it is lamentable. The sad reality is that it did not have to happen if God’s people would have only obeyed His voice. If we want to get a read of what is going to take place in the last days one only needs to look at this period of history. We really need to know and understand what the mercies of the Lord truly entail.
In closing the Psalmist reminds the Lord of the reproach that the enemies are bringing to his name. It is a worthy prayer to be made at such times. God uses the enemy as an instrument of judgement upon His own people when they violate His laws and commands. We see this throughout the Book of Ezekiel. The first 24 chapters are written to Israel. They consist of the many judgments that God was allowing to come upon them for their transgressions. From chapters 25-32 the Lord then turns his attention to the nations that afflicted Israel and pronounces judgments upon them. The enemy will seemingly have the ascendancy for a season but his days are numbered; once their usefulness as instruments in God’s hands is completed. Let us seek to emulate the prayer of Ethan as seen in this psalm. Its message not only sheds light upon a historical period it provides clarity for what may well be forthcoming on our horizon. Lord, may we ever seek to sing of your mercies and faithfulness at all times.
This is one of the most popular and beloved of the Psalms. It is the oldest Psalm and it is penned by Moses, one of the greatest men that ever lived. He was the law giver; he is also one of the two witnesses that will come on the scene in the last days. He is also known as the meekest man who ever lived outside of Christ. This is a Psalm that reflects the very close relationship that Moses had with God. We also see that Moses was a man who displayed great wisdom; it is seen in this very prayer that he makes to God. This psalm is a summation of the unique relationship that Moses had with God. His prayer is one that needs to be emulated by all of us today. It truly puts all things into its proper perspective.
Moses begins by speaking on the greatness of God; that He is over all dwelling places. It is recognition of the sovereignty of God in every situation. It also recognizes that God is before all things even before the creation of the earth. This is seen in Rev 13:8 where we see the lamb as being slain before the foundations of the world. This Psalm helps us to appreciate the validity of Psa 103:7 that speaks of Moses knowing the ways of God.
We are all familiar with the expression “time flies”. Moses alludes to this truth in saying that a thousand years are but as a yesterday. Just this morning I was teaching in a class of an event that took place 33 years ago. It really seems like yesterday as I reflect upon the impact from that moment. So much has happened over that period but it really did zoom right by. Our whole life is measured like a vapour or a puff of smoke that appears for a moment and then is gone (Jas 4:14). In that brief moment of time we are making decisions that will determine our life and eternity. Moses had the ability to weigh his life in this unique scale of balance. We should seek to do the same. Have you given thought to the horror of crossing the threshold of this life knowing that your eternity is secured; knowing that you cannot go back with a second chance? If we could somehow capture and lay hold of this truth it would help to reprioritize our lives.
Moses understood how fleeting and fragile the things of this life were. Sadly, the majority of people (many in the church) put tremendous emphasis on things that do not profit in the end. We need to major on the things that are eternal and will not perish once this life is past. We need to always pursue after Truth. Who we are when we die is what people will see in eternity. May we use the opportunity in this life to seek after Truth in the inward parts (Psa 51:6).
Verse 7 speaks of the price involved in pursuing after holiness. There are continual fires and trials that come into the life of a believer who sets out to be wholehearted for God. Peter speaks of the fiery trials that will surely come to the godly.
1 Pet 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
1 Pet 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
He follows up on this thought in the next few verses by speaking of our iniquities being ever before the Lord. He shines the light upon us so that we might see who we really are and give opportunity to be cleansed and changed. Moses fully understood the progressive walk of a believer as illustrated by the Tabernacle which shows the way into the holiest of all. King David cried out that God would send forth His light and truth (Psa 43:3). The Apostle John, another man who had a very close walk with God speaks of walking in the light as He is in the light. If we hear and obey there is a cleansing and a washing through the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). In verse 10 we see that 70 years are given to man; if strong he may have another 10 plus years of life. Whatever the span of life that God may grant to us may we be found faithful in that very brief window of time from that which we call life.
The familiar verse concerning the thought of numbering our days is mentioned in verse 12. Moses cries out for wisdom so as to maximize each and every moment that has been allotted to Him. When we meditate on the brevity of life we make better decisions and make better use of our time. In these last days things are going to begin to move at an accelerated pace. Will we be in alignment with what God is doing or will we get left behind due to short-sightedness? All one has to do today is to have their eyes open to catch a glimpse of what is happening around us. There is no time to waste given the day and hour that is now before us. We need to be living with eyes that see through the lenses of eternity. The process of preparation to lead in the last days is an enduring one. Moses spent 40 years in obscurity in being prepared to lead. These hidden years (much like the hidden years of Christ) were formative in helping Moses to be acquainted and prepared to lead 3 million plus people. It was a time where the relationship between Moses and God became more enhanced. These productive years birthed a capacity within Moses for meekness and wisdom which we see on full display in this Psalm. May the prayer of Moses be our prayer so that we can emphasize the things that truly matter.
2 Cor 12
Paul continues to boast of his credentials so as to neutralize their boasting in the false ministers that they were esteeming. Paul was a true minister who asked nothing and gave much for the cause of the Gospel. The false minister on the other hand could not make such claims while yet taking offerings from them. It was amazing how the Corinthian’s continued to be gullible to such so called apostles. Sad to say we see the same things today in many of our churches. The ministers who succeed in suppressing the truth seem to draw the greater followings. It all comes down to an easier message and gospel. The ministers who peddle compromised doctrine will have must to answer for. There is an Old Testament verse that comes to mind that helps bring this truth to light.
Jer 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
The Apostle Paul, while writing to the Thessalonian church speaks as to how delusion will fill the minds of God’s people in the last days. The reason given is that people love a lie (2 Thes 2:10-11). Paul then refers to himself in speaking of a man who was brought up to the third heaven; an experience that was so real he did not know whether he was in his body or spirit. Paul had tremendous revelation but he did not flaunt it for personal advantage. He refers to it to let the church know that he does not lag behind in any gift. The seducers were making boasts of lofty things; they taught a doctrine that was false and they were taking from the church. Paul established, suffered and served the church and is only making his credentials known. The third heaven is a Zion truth; he partook of hidden truths which is characteristic of the hidden manna in Moses Tabernacle. Partaking of the hidden manna is one of the promises to the overcomer in the last days (Rev 2:17). God is after those who seek Him with all their hearts (Jer 29:13).
Prov 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
Paul speaks of a thorn in the flesh in verse 7. It is something that God allowed to help keep Paul humble. His incredible revelation of the third heaven required a demon to afflict him in some way. This is not a punishment but rather a mercy that was extended to Paul. We are not sure what this thorn would have been but it did have its effect.
In verse 8-10 Paul learned to come to terms in a certain infirmity that he sought relief from. On three different occasions he sought the Lord but to no avail. The Lord did not answer his prayer but responded by saying that His grace was sufficient for him. He came to know that in his weakness he could become strong through His grace. This was revelation in itself which prompted Paul to relish and embrace such experiences in future. This helps to keep one humble and reliant upon the Lord. Paul came to know that his weakness was an opportunity for the strength and grace of God to come forth. This was needed medicine for the Corinthians who put such a premium on strength and the flesh. If they continue down this road they would only hinder and frustrate the grace of God upon their lives. God’s power cannot work through the fabric of pride and self.
Paul desired to come again and be in their midst. He reiterates that he would take nothing from them so as to prove that his interest was for their well-being and not his own. This was unlike the other teachers and ministers who were propagating another gospel. It can be likened to those who put a price tag on their ministry. You would not find Paul demanding 1st class air tickets, luxury accommodations and high speaking fees that many do today. Honestly, those who make such demands are not worthy of being listened to anyways. Paul was a true father who only had their best interest at heart.
This chapter concludes with Paul’s concern for some who have not changed from their carnal ways. He makes it abundantly clear that when he comes it will be with the rod so as to bring the needed correction. He had the authority to do so and great fear fell upon those who were in this position. God is after a church that has been cleansed and prepared for his Son when He returns. We are temples of the Holy Spirit and what is required at times is the overturning of the tables of the moneychangers within our own lives. The job becomes much easier if we heed the warnings and corrections now; if not now then later with far greater consequences.