PSALMS 91:1 – 93:5 and 2 CORINTHIANS 13:1–14
This is a devotional Psalm that was written by King David. Oftentimes when David wrote in this manner it would indicate a messianic application to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is true in this Psalm. It also has great meaning for the believer; especially those who have an understanding of the Tabernacle truths and what they represent. It has very real meaning for the church of the last day especially as it prepares for the revival and judgements that will soon take place. The first verse introduces the reader to the Holy of Holies itself as it references the Mercy Seat of God. It is here where one knows the divine protection and personalized care of the Lord. The ensuing verses speak further of the blessings that come in learning to abide in this special place. There is protection from man, disease and other maladies that result from sin. The more one reads and meditates upon this psalm the greater the desire should be in seeking to come into this position of abiding. Many of the questions surrounding the meaning of the vision of Zion are addressed in this psalm. Each verse builds upon the other in making clear the blessings that are associated in coming into the Holy of Holies. We have mentioned on numerous occasions that there is a way of approach in passing from the Outer Court into the Holy Place and Holy of Holies. It is wonderful in being able to sing songs that come from this Psalm but weight has to be given to the cost involved in being able to come into this place. A casual come as you are mentality will not suffice; this mentality and attitude is far too common today. Solomon spoke a Proverb which reflects the above message:
Pro 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.
The cry of our heart should be to have a greater hunger and thirst after righteousness (Math 5:6). Dr. Brian Bailey in his later years was consumed with the burden of raising up “teachers of righteousness” so as to stand strong in the pressurized challenges of the last days. Tucked within his teachings and writings was the unmistakeable compass pointed towards Zion. The message and vision of Zion was threaded in all aspects of his ministry. Psalm 91 represents the fruit of where such teaching would lead.
The church is called to great glory and as it progresses so will the attacks of the enemy. A man or woman who pursues the vision of Zion will adopt a heightened state of vigilance; it is a knowing that the enemy lurks about seeking opportunities to destroy or devour. We saw this earlier when looking at Psalm 64 where he (the enemy) conducts a diligent search against his foes. God comes through at the end when he suddenly responds on behalf of His people (Psa 64:7). It is to those who know and are able to come into the secret place of the Most High. It also needs to be noted that there is no covering for those who abide in the outer court where the majority of the church today seems to be camped. This Psalm should provoke and inspire all believers to press in and pursue God so as to come into this special place of abiding. We sing the songs but Oh may we know the reality.
The days before us are going to be both glorious and perilous. There are nations who have been planning biological warfare for years as a means of neutralizing a stronger country. There are reports of “dirty bombs” strategically placed in major cities that could be detonated at any time. There are chemical agents that can be released in a major city with no one knowing that could result in over a million deaths within 2 to 3 days. These things are real and they are deployable. It is in the contemplation of such horrific events where Psalm 91 takes on even greater meaning. After considering the above possibilities take another look at verses 5 -7.
Psa 91:5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Psa 91:6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
Psa 91:7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Lord, put before us the blessings and security of being able to abide under your shadow in the Holy of Holies.
It is interesting to note that this Psalm is referenced as one to be sung or observed on the Sabbath Day. Overall it is a joyful in its tone while giving instruction in how we can improve our walk as a believer. It has as its aim instruction in how a believer can become righteous and be established in fruitfulness. The opening verses represent another song that used to be sung at the beginning of church services and conventions in my early years as a believer. I still have a cassette tape where I recorded the songs and messages of a convention in 1984. The first song sung was from verse 1 and it so beautifully set the tone for the conference. This song was sung in conjunction with another psalm as shown below:
Psa 86:12 I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.
Psa 86:13 For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.
The song leader spoke of its refreshing and message and it did indeed pave the way for a glorious 3 days’ worth of meetings. I recall this event because it reflects the intent of what the psalmist is writing here. In the midst of singing such choruses we can catch glimpses of the greatness of God and how he rules and reigns over the affairs of men (vs 5-6). There is oftentimes revelation that comes as the Spirit gains expression through the worship ( 1 Cor 2:10-11). The ways of God are higher than man’s and it is often while in the midst of rejoicing where one comes to taste of His sovereignty.
In verses 7-9 the psalmist turns his attention towards the enemies of God. They will spring up and they will seek to oppose the purpose and plan of God. It is good to think of the enemy in terms of a harvest because there is a season of growth. There is a season where they seem to become stronger however there is a harvest that takes place at the time of ripeness. David saw this on numerous occasions in his walk with God; the enemy would be imposing and strong only to be brought down in a moment (Psa 37:35-37). God wants us to be able to see the big picture as well. The psalmist goes on to speak as to how those who seek the Lord are filled with fresh oil which result in the destruction upon the enemy. All right, forgive me but here comes another song that was sung at this 1984 conference which flows so well with the above thoughts, it is taken from the following verse:
Isa 10:27 And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.
Here are the words: By the anointing Jesus breaks the yoke, by the Holy Ghost and fire just as the prophets spoke; this is the day of the latter rain, God is moving in power again, by the anointing Jesus breaks the yoke. As the anointing and fresh oil increases upon a believer it breaks the bondage and containing control of the enemy. We need to position ourselves to seek the Lord for a daily dose of His anointing oil to carry us and enable us to press forward. A consistent daily devotional is essential in aiding this effort. I also feel that we need to appropriate the blessings and truths of the Sabbath. This is a psalm and song that was to be sung on the Sabbath. We need to make time, to step away from our busy daily grinds so that God can speak and anoint. One of the most clever tactics of the enemy is his ability to keep us busy and distracted, oftentimes with legitimate things so that we are robbed of the Sabbath related benefits.
In the final few verses the Psalmist speaks of the need for the righteous to be planted in the house of the Lord. It is vitally important to seek the Lord as to the place where we are planted. It is there where our roots grow deep and it is in that place where fruitfulness can abound. In the very first Bible that I purchased my first marking made was on the following verses:
Jer 17:7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
Jer 17:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
It was at this time where I also made the decision to join a particular church in Erie Pa. The year was 1982 and it still serves as my home church after all these years. It almost did not happen. I sincerely prayed that the Lord would lead me to the place of his choosing. I am eternally grateful for the Lord planting me there because it has been through this planting where God was able to develop and establish a measure of fruitfulness. This is a subject many people do not take very seriously and it is unfortunate. There are many “church hoppers” who go from church to church to try and find that message and medium that suits their personal inclinations. It is those who are “planted” in the house of the Lord, the house and church of the Lord’s choosing that will still bear fruit in old age.
This is a beautiful Psalm that is solely fixed upon the majesty and power of God. There is no mention of the enemy or distressful situations just reflections and thoughts concerning God’s throne and holiness. This is our God; this is who He is, unmoveable and seated on high. He is the God who is Alpha and Omega; nothing is before Him or beyond Him. The Lord is higher than any wave the world may toss its way. Yes, this is our God in His splendour and might. If we can properly ponder on these few verses it should help for faith to arise within us; suddenly our problems and concerns are dwarfed in light of His greatness. We oftentimes feel weak and overwhelmed by the very real challenges that confront us but it here where our weaknesses can become his strength at work through us.
2Co 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
It is so important that we ask the Lord to help us see situations as He sees them. The last verse speaks of the New Covenant reality of having the Law of the Lord written upon the fleshly table of our hearts. (Jer 31:33) It is the apprehension and application of this verse that can help bring us into the Holy of Holies. Do we really have a love for His Law and testimonies; is there a deep rooted love within us for a life of Holiness? Yes, there is a price to pay but it is more than worth it. This and the previous two Psalms (Psa 91-92) help to put within us the kind of heart that can bring us into Zion; into the Holy of Holies so that we can behold His face and be covered under His shadow. Our God is an awesome God!
2 Cor 13
Paul, in this final chapter in his letter to the Corinthians states again his intention in wanting to come to Corinth. His intention is for the church to be brought unto perfection. He warns that he will not spare them if they refuse to turn from their ways. He would rather come in the spirit of love and meekness but he would not spare the rod if that’s what it would take. This proposed visit would be his third and it cannot be stated enough the love that Paul had for them. He also said in verse 1 that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” Paul was making clear that his assessment would not be a unilateral one. It is also a precedent that the Lord had established in the gospels (Mat 18:16).
In the next few verses we see the theme of the Cross coming forth. The greatest demonstration of God’s power to man was revealed at the Cross. In the natural it did not look that way. The broken and tortured body of Christ was anything but triumphant yet, it was! Paul was once again bringing forth the point that in weakness we are made strong, through His spirit. Paul was demonstrating this message to the Corinthians, a message they desperately needed to hear. There is a danger in assessing things of the spirit through natural means. Even in the church we tend to make judgments solely based on what we see. If a church has many people it then means that all is well. On the other hand we can see churches that struggle and automatically assume they are not rich and flourishing in spiritual things. The examples of Smyrna and Laodicea from the Book of Revelation are good cases in point. What looked to be their condition in the natural was seen totally different by the Lord.
In verse 5 Paul comes back to an important exercise we all need to appropriate. It is healthy to examine ourselves and allow the Word to search us through and through. David was proactive in presenting himself before the Lord in allowing his heart to be examined (Psa 139:23-24). One of the other fruits of practicing this is that it helps us not to be overly judgmental toward others. Paul goes on in verse 5 to say that if it was not for Christ we would all be reprobates. A pretty strong statement but a true one and something we should never forget, especially when we get caught up in criticism of others. Christ is indeed our all in all. The attacks that were coming against Paul from other teachers were quite extreme and he wanted the Corinthians to excel regardless of what they said about him. He was trusting in their inner witness of knowing who was true from the false. Paul was exhorting them to be truly honest in their assessment; in doing so they would know the truth. In verse 8 we see the pursuit for Truth. The honest minister will be valiant for the truth in all he or she does. Knowing the Truth will set us free and it results from a continuing in his Word (John 8:31-32). May Mercy and Truth be our guide throughout our walk in life.
One of the prevailing themes seen throughout the Corinthian epistles is that of coming into perfection. This was Paul’s desire for them; that they would come to know a thorough equipping in every virtue. Paul is certainly giving them every tool and opportunity by way of his teaching and example. He is writing to them as if he is there but he warns that when he comes he will be sharp in his rebukes and correction if the words of his letter are not received. He is hoping that he will not have to approach them in that way when he does come. He chooses to edify more than to have to come with the rod. As ministers we must not shy away from sharp reproofs when they are needed. We have to address issues from an eternal perspective and not worry about offending people. It requires wisdom in knowing how to manage such situations.
Paul concludes his letter by again exhorting them to be “perfect”, to be in unity and walking in peace (vs 11). The binding outpouring of His grace is what unites the body of Christ worldwide. This is such a blessed experience in being able to meet believers from any part of the world and connect as believers in Christ. This will be especially true in these last days and it will be essential. The Corinthian church was a young and vibrant church but a church filled with carnality. Paul loved this church and saw its potential; it required strong rebukes, correction and admonition. Paul was a father who conveyed great love and authority to a church that was in the balance. One of the contributing factors for its carnality was the open door being given to many false teachers. It is no different today. There needs to arise fathers and mothers in the church who have the love and best interest at heart for believers. This is what we see in the Apostle Paul in his 2 letters to the Corinthian church. Can we see many of the similarities to our day?