PSALMS 100:1 – 102:28 and GALATIANS 3:1–29
This is another Psalm which gives a picture and insight into the millennial temple during the 1000 year reign of Christ upon earth. These verses are reinforced by the writings of Ezekiel in chapters 40-48 which give much more details as to what the millennium will be like. It will be a time when the nations of the earth will come before the Lord with gladness. It will be a time of thanksgiving and great joy. Let us not underestimate the power of joy and what it means to God. It is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit as seen in Gal 5:22-23. The spirit of joy empowers and enables a people to keep going forward even in the midst of great difficulties.
Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
One of the most famous verses in scripture speaks of the joy of the Lord being our strength but few actually understand its context. The law had just been taught to the people by Ezra the priest resulting in them being sorrowful and mournful over their sin. The law, as taught by Ezra exposed them and now they were in deep lament, repenting over their sins. Once the Lord knew that the law had done its work he instructs the people to mourn no more but rather let the joy of the Lord now be their strength (Neh 8:8-10). The joy of the Lord is not just some happy feeling; it is unspeakable and full of glory and something that will be very much in evidence in the millennium. If we do not hear and or respond to that joyful sound and serve the Lord accordingly we may well come under a curse (Deu 28:45-47). We are called to serve the Lord with joy, not begrudgingly. In verse 3 we are reminded that it is the Lord who made us and formed us from our mother’s womb. We are His and we have been created for His pleasure. The millennial reign of Christ presents a beautiful picture of what life will be like. There will be the privilege and great joy in being able to serve and live in the presence of the eternal king. We need to learn to serve the Lord now in joyfulness and thanksgiving so as to have an opportunity to be one of his sheep in the millennial pasture to come.
One can never major enough on thanksgiving and praise. A thankful heart declares to God that He is good in all that He does. The ability to bless Him and speak continually of His mercies gladdens the heart of God which allows for His favor to be poured out. The following is an old favourite song that now comes to mind which well reflects this truth.
Psa 34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Psa 34:2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
Psa 34:3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.
Psa 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
This Psalm of David has been given the title “The House of the King” which was written at about the time he ascended to the throne over all of Israel. It gives several keys in how a household should run as seen in verse 2 where he speaks of walking before God with a perfect heart within his house. We spend considerable time speaking of David as the millennial king who will reign with Christ but this Psalm helps to narrow down the kingdom within the context of a home. The same principles that hold a nation together are the same principles that help ensure a strong house. In fact we should be placing a higher emphasis on having “kingdom homes” which in turn will help promote strong cities and nations. How can this be achieved?
The song of the Lord is reflected by the kind of music and singing we allow in our homes. Have you walked into homes that have nice instrumental music playing in the background? It helps to cultivate a pleasant atmosphere that cultivates the presence of the Lord. We should see our homes as a sanctuary; a place of retreat where families bond and have opportunities to see relationships strengthened. Sadly, most homes are not like this but rather a place where individuals live and function in their own worlds; isolated from one another. David makes the statement in verse 3 that he will set no wicked thing before his eyes. Remember, it is at this time where David is having the privilege of establishing the Ark (the presence of God) upon the holy hill of Zion. He has a singular focus upon the things of God and his leadership is serving as an example to others. For David, it was all about the presence of God. This is the standard that needs to emerge in our homes and churches in these volatile last days. David did not allow anything to get in the way of his being steered away from God’s presence.
It is in the home where our true character is revealed. The children of ministers often become disillusioned with the things of God due to the hypocrisy they see from their parents. If we do not practice what we preach we will adversely affect the lives of many. The Lord hates hypocrisy and we seek to be genuine at all times. David speaks of the need to maintain right and proper relationships in verse 4. We are known by the company of people we spend time with. The people we spend time with serve as a reflection of who we really are. It is vitally important to surround ourselves around people who edify and serve as good examples of Christian conduct. Oftentimes in our work place we may not have that luxury but God can give grace at such times. Stay away from those who criticize, slander and tear down other people. This is an evil that can be traced back to the days of Noah and his sons; particularly Ham who exposed the nakedness of his father. I bring this up due to the curse and consequence that came upon Ham for this attitude of heart. Our words to people and our words within our homes should be words that build up and edify. A deceitful and lying person should be shunned in both our churches and in our homes. We need to be clear on what the Bible says concerning liars and such people and where they ultimately end up if they do not repent.
Rev 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Let us be reminded that the way we rule in our house will be the way we rule and lead in our churches or work place. May the Lord help us to be zealous in looking at our homes as a kingdom that has God at the center of it all.
In reading this Psalm one can call to mind the sufferings of people like Job and Jeremiah. It speaks of one who is afflicted and overwhelmed. We can take comfort that it is at such times when we can take our trials and present them before the Lord. This psalm begins with the writer feeling assured that the prayer he is about to submit to God will be heard and that His response will be a quick one. What an attitude of heart that we see in this prayer of petition being brought before the Lord. There is a sense of the brevity of life as expressed in verse 3. We saw Moses make a similar statement when he prayed and asked the Lord to number his days while applying his heart unto wisdom.
The psalmist sees his sickness and depleted condition as wasted time in addition to his solitary state of gloom and doom. He sees himself as a solitary watchman in this evil environment. In verse 8 the enemy only seeks to add to his woe. One can be sure that the adversary will be close by when all things seem to be at a low ebb. He is very strategic and seeks to strike when darkness and suffering is all around. When Jesus came forth from His 40 days of fasting and walking in the wilderness, the enemy was there to greet Him. Once again we see the need in being able to have perspective when going thorough such experiences. He continues to place emphasis on his depleting physical condition in verse 11. One can sense that he is on the verge of losing hope and strength with each passing day.
In verses 12-16 the psalmist with strength of vision now looks beyond his circumstances unto Zion. This is where true perspective which comes from knowing God and His Word proves to be most helpful. It gives us the strength and ability to be lifted from the reality of struggle and pain to the place of seeing the bigger picture. These verses also inform that there is a set time with God in when and how He does things. The Lord’s timetable is often quite different from our own and we must learn to seek and be content with His timing in all things. It is wisdom to seek the Lord in such a way. The Lord Himself fed upon the butter and honey of the Word to sustain Him through trials and to have perspective when responding to His accusers (Isa 7:15).
The psalmist knows of the Lord’s ability and desire in hearing and acting upon the prayer of the destitute. The track record of God is very clear throughout history to such people in need. The generations to come can take comfort in seeing how God worked in the past (vs 18). The pattern of how God moved on behalf of Zion in the past serves as a precedent for the praises that will again be sung in Zion in future. It will be there where the nations of the earth will come to worship Him in the millennium (Zech 14:16-19).
In the closing verses (23-28) the narrative becomes messianic as we see glimpses of the suffering saviour. These verses can be linked with what is seen in Isa 53. The Apostle Paul actually quotes these verses in Hebrews when speaking on the Messiah (Heb 1:10-12). This psalm offers hope to those who go through great difficulty and adversity. It is a confident prayer that is brought forth by one going through a painful trial. May God help us to draw the needed comfort and encouragement from its message.
Paul is very blunt in asking the Galatians as to who bewitched them? It’s as if a spell had been cast over them. This is the fruit of opening our hearts to wrong people. The Judaizers obviously had great influence within this church. They undermined Paul at every opportunity they had while propagating their false gospel. What is noteworthy is how easily seduced the Galatians had become through their assault. It is reminiscent of the seduction of Eve by the serpent. Satan was able to take the absolute truth of God’s Word and redefine it into a false and easier message. What took place in the garden was still occurring in the days of Paul; it still is happening today with deadly effect. Paul worked hard in portraying Christ as the one who was crucified for the sin of man so how is it that many in the church are now putting a higher premium of observing Jewish rituals? It is clear there was a very strong spirit blinding the minds of many from the truth.
The church started out well as they came to experience the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, miracles and many salvations. Paul was questioning them as to how they obtained these blessings; were they obtained by abstaining from pork or some other Jewish ritual? Paul clearly established the church on receiving the blessings through the Spirit by grace through faith. The seducers were now attempting to have them coming into perfection by works through the flesh. Paul is astonished at the dramatic shift in their walk with God. They are now blinded to the truth. The danger is that they were now on the path of reverting back to their old lifestyle after tasting of the truth. Paul’s aim in all of his preaching was not just to get people saved; his aim was for perfection because he understood what Jesus accomplished at Calvary. He did not want people to fall short of the glory that God had for His people. The condition of the Galatian church was an alarming one; not only are people falling short but they have turned from the truth. There is urgency and a thrust behind his message.
Paul has to now go back to the Old Testament which is actually a clever way of addressing this issue seeing that the Judaizers were banking on Old Testament rituals. He validates Abraham, whom every man esteemed as one who was justified by faith, not works. He had a believing heart and it was accounted unto him for righteousness (Gen 15:6). It was not his works but his heart of responding in obedience that justified Abraham. What God is after in our lives is obedience. You would think that the Judaizers would be aware of the downfall of King Saul.
1Sa 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
In verses 10-12 Paul now places the weight of the message back to the Galatians. The Old Testament Law which is so highly esteemed cannot produce righteousness but is rather a curse. It appears Paul is quoting from Deu 27:15-16. The law brings man to awareness of sin but it cannot produce righteousness; it produces death. The Law is an instrument that points to justification by a sovereign act of God and not of works (Rom 4:6-8). It is amazing in how they started so well by faith only to be brought back into Old Testament bondage and ritual; a gospel that runs contrary to the work of the Cross. What is even more amazing is that we can see evidence of the Galatian problem at work today. I suppose one should not be surprised as to what happens when Truth is suppressed and discarded; it opens the doors for all other kinds of spirits and messages to enter in. The concern here is that they had a very good foundation at the start. This needs to be a warning for each and every one of us.
The Judaizers primary contention was that the Law of Moses was binding on the descendants of Abraham. It seems like the Galatians could have benefitted from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews where he makes the case for the greater priesthood of Melchizedec over Levi. God gave the Law as a means of helping to keep Israel in check as they journeyed from Egypt through the wilderness to Zion. The Law in effect was an instrument that was pointing to Christ. The righteousness of the Law would be fulfilled in Him as He took sin to the Cross. Jesus did not destroy the Law but fulfilled it. Man was not and is not capable in fulfilling the Law in his own strength but can only do so in dying to self and growing in grace. We grow in grace as we acknowledge sin, and accept His gift of grace by faith. The Galatians were being taught that justification was achieved by the works of the Law thus removing the element of faith. It was another gospel, a damaging gospel that was taking the church away from the Truth.
In verse 16 Paul zeroes in on one special and specific seed of Abraham whereby the promises were made; that seed of course is Christ. Paul’s genius is once again on full display here because the Judaizers specialize in Old Testament rituals to make their case. Paul is using their “so called” area of resource and expertise to make his point concerning justification by faith through Christ. As we go through these epistles let’s not lose sight of Paul’s ability to adapt his message to solely hit his target. He takes the sword and plants it squarely back in their court. It is a skill and approach that can only come through suffering and pain; there is a cost to have this measure of anointing. God gave the promise to Abraham about 430 years before the Law was given. That promise was never invalidated; that Law which was obtained by Abraham in faith. The purpose of the Law that was given at Mt. Sinai was given because of the transgressions and sins which needed to be shown to the people. It was a means of demonstrating the need for a redeemer. The Law points to the problems in man’s hearts while also pointing towards the one who would come to fulfil the Law in the flesh; Christ the only one who could justify.
The balance of chapter 3 is a comparison between the promise made to Abraham which was immutable and the Law of Moses which was conditional involving a mediator. It was clear that man would not be able to keep the Law so in the end it represented death, pointing out sin while pointing towards the one who would fulfil the Law in His flesh. This contrast was presented in the hopes that the Galatians would see the errors in giving ear to the false teachers. He emphasizes over and over again that they were the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by the works of the Law.