PSALMS 103:1 – 105:45 and GALATIANS 4:1–31
We have often commented on how David had an ability to summon the spirit man when going through times of great difficulties. It is in the area of the soul where our emotions can be affected as result of circumstances but it is the spirit man that needs to rise up and take authority. David was very strong in this area. He had the ability to speak into his circumstances and to speak to his soul due to the Word that was resident within Him. This attitude of heart is on full display in this Psalm. He speaks to his soul as he calls to mind many of the benefits that God had bestowed upon him. He lists 6 such benefits within the first 5 verses. The Lord who heals diseases, forgives iniquities, redeems life from destruction, crowns one’s life with loving kindness and mercy, satisfies the mouth with good things and renews youth like that of an eagle. What beautiful thoughts to reflect and meditate upon. David knew each of these benefits intimately and is now able to proclaim them openly.
David goes on to give a brief review of the history of the children of Israel. One of the more common verses is seen in verse 7. We see that Moses is distinguished from the children of Israel due to knowing the ways of God. The children of Israel knew and witnessed God’s power. We too need to see the demonstration of God’s power in the earth but it cannot be compared to knowing who God is; to know His ways. We often sing songs about wanting to know the Lord in a greater way. This was the cry of Moses as well (Exo 33:13, 18). The truth is most people do not really have the desire to know some of the holy attributes of God. This would require the need for change on our part. People want to know God in His power but only few truly seek after His ways. The 2 groups cited in verse 7 exist in the church today, which of the two groups best depicts us?
When we sing that song “I want to know you” let’s believe for a heart like Moses had so that we can come to know the Lord in all His ways. The mercy of God is highlighted in verse 8 as is the virtue of being slow to anger. These two qualities are linked. The highest revelation of God to man is His mercy (as seen in the mercy seat) followed by His attribute of long-suffering (Exo 34:6). This is who God is and each us have been beneficiaries of them. David is now caught up in the greatness of God as he ponders over His mercies that are high over the earth. It is true that God does judge and punish sin but not to the extent they deserve. In judgement the mercies of God are still seen. We can also take comfort in knowing that God is well acquainted with the frailties of man resulting in his great measure of mercy upon man (vs 14). David is also able to put the time of man upon earth into perspective. This was a quality of Moses and many others as well. When we have true perspective as to how short our time on earth is in light of eternity it helps to change our priorities in the way we live (vs 15-16).
David again returns to the theme of God’s mercies making the point that it is given to those who keep his covenant and laws. This was one of the primary strengths of David; he had a love for the law of God. He spent considerable time meditating and reflecting upon it (Psa 19:7-10). He put a value upon the Law of God that was much higher than gold. In verses 20-22 David is now in a mode of worship resulting in his commanding the angels, ministers and works to praise the Lord. This is a command to worship God for who he is; it is not a prayer of petition but one of reverence to the majestic God. As this Psalm comes to a close we see a culmination of God’s creation in an expression of worship and praise to the Holy God. It presents to us a picture of the eternal praise that will be seen in heaven. Remember, it starts with an ability to bless the Lord at all times; an ability to align our soul with our spirit man so as to sing endless praises to our God. Help us Lord, to be able to speak and take authority over our soul at all times.
This is a beautiful Psalm which presents the greatness of God as seen in His creation. There are those who like to break this psalm down into 7 different sections reflecting the 7 days of creation. The Psalm begins with beginning of creation as seen in verses 1-4 and ends with thoughts on the Sabbath which speaks of the millennial rest in verses 31-35. We will approach this psalm by examining the 7 different sections of this Psalm.
Verses 1-4 The Psalm again begins with the exhortation for the soul to bless the Lord. In verse 2 the Psalmist speaks to one of the attributes of God. He is a God of light (1 John 1:5). There is no area of darkness about Him. We see the establishment of the waters in verse 3 and how He rules in the air in His majesty. In verse 4 we see the angels as His ministering spirits who are assigned tasks to perform in the administration of his kingdom.
Verses 5-9 The Psalmist speaks concerning the foundations of the earth being established. We see the ordained boundaries of the water through the mountains and valleys and the various springs that come forth.
Verses 10-13 The animals of God’s creation are provided for as reflected in these verses (Gen 1:9-13). Jesus referred to the animal kingdom and the tender care provided to them when speaking of His ability to meet the needs of man. If God provides for birds do you not think He can provide for man (Luk 12:7)?
Verses 14-18 The Lord’s ability to bring forth food for man is cited in this the 4th section. We see the oil and the wine mentioned which speaks of the anointing for peace, wisdom and the service for God. God’s creation makes provision for all things that enables man to fulfil His will and pleasure. There is also the sense of the joy of the Lord. It was the oil and the wine that was ministered unto the man who was tended by the Good Samaritan that brought restoration of soul and spirit to this wounded man.
Luk 10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
Luk 10:34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
Verses 19-23 In this 5th section we see the psalmist moving from the third to the fourth day of creation as he highlights the celestial portion of the Lord’s creation. The sun and moon are featured in a way where one cannot help but worship the one who created such a heavenly arrangement. There are religions which worship aspects of God’s creation like the sun and moon; we choose to worship the creator.
Verses 24-30 It is the manifold wisdom of God that is observed in these verses as seen through His creation. Several other Bible writers speak of God in a similar way in observing His creative prowess. The more one studies nature and spends time meditating upon the creation of God the more one comes to know the wisdom, knowledge and understanding of God. In looking towards the heavens and getting caught up in the marvels of creation one will soon find his capacities enlarged; to see the beauty of God expressed in ways that will minister to the earthly every day challenges of man. This was one of the secrets that enabled David to constantly speak to his soul while in adversity.
Verses 31-35 This last section speaks of the Lord rejoicing over His works in much the same way he did after the 6 days of creation. The Psalmist goes on in seeking the Lord to remove the sinners from the earth which is something that will take place at the end of the church age when He comes to establish his 1000 year reign upon the earth which commences the Lord’s millennial rule upon the earth. It will be a time of blessing and rejoicing before the Lord. This psalm ends as it began; the cycle is now complete and one can only come to the place of speaking forth these familiar words, “Bless the Lord O my soul and let all praise the mighty name of the Lord”. He is worthy to be praised.
This is another historical psalm that should be attributed to David seeing that the first fifteen verses reflect that which was sung by David when bringing the Ark up from the House of Obededom (1 Chr 16:17-22). We should never lose sight of the many portions of scripture that reflect and speak of events from the past. This is not suggesting that one should live in the past but rather glean and benefit from these experiences. Such reflecting helps to build and enlarge ones faith so as to believe God to see them through present challenges. There are many verses in this Psalm that provides such comfort and encouragement. The first seven verses speak of joyful praise to the Lord. Verse 5 encourages us to reflect and remember some of the things that He has done and to reflect upon His judgments. God is an unchanging God and is consistent in how he relates to man so it is important for us to reflect either from personal experience or from known recorded Biblical accounts.
In verses 8-23 David speaks of the dealing of God with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. He makes mention of the everlasting covenant made with Abraham and how he brought forth a nation from a few to a multitude. The account also shows God’s ability in protecting and preserving His people in the midst of hostile enemies. He even brought forth victories on their behalf. The account of Joseph is recorded in verse 17-23 whose serves as an example and picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. The key verse is as follows:
Psa 105:19 “Until the time that his Word came: the Word of the Lord tried Him.
How many times has the example of Joseph served as an encouragement to believers going through a prolonged trial? Joseph did nothing wrong yet was being punished and forgotten in a prison with no glimmer of perspective or comfort. Yet, we see that the Lord was not only testing him but preparing him for an appointed season of destiny. Joseph’s experience should put to flight many of the erroneous doctrines that we see today. The days of Joseph in Egypt have striking similarities to our day so it should not be surprising if many are going through their own personal prisons. We truly need to have the perspective and big picture ability to function in our day. Joseph came to know betrayal from loved ones, in addition to abandonment and false accusations. Let us never forget that Joseph’s whole situation changed in one day when the Lord placed a dream within Pharaoh. We can say that Daniel had a similar experience in his own life (Dan 2). We must allow the timing of God to play out and not force or make presumptions upon Him. The Word of God will test us in various ways throughout our Christian journey.
In verses 24-38 David recalls the account of the Exodus under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. After 430 years of captivity God set the stage for Israel’s deliverance under the leadership of Moses. He allowed for the heart of a wicked Pharaoh to be hardened against Israel resulting in iniquity becoming ripe. There now was an all-out hatred for Israel due to their increase of population and influence in the land. There were the 10 plagues that came upon Egypt. In addition to the mighty deliverance from their captors, Israel was able to spoil the land of their wealth. The judgements of God upon Egypt were so severe that they were all to glad to see Israel go. The Fear of the Lord had fallen upon them. It is a glimpse of what things will be like in the last days. In the final verses (39-45) we see the Lord’s ability to lead, protect and provide throughout their wilderness journey. David mentions the fire by night, cloud by day, the rock which gushed forth water and the great rejoicing and gladness that was evident throughout. There is the final reminder concerning the keeping of His laws and statutes. Regretfully, they failed in their ability to do so resulting in severe consequences. It is good to go back and observe history, especially Biblical history and seek to learn from those who went before us. We want to glean from the successes as well as learn from the mistakes and shortcomings. We have great advantage seeing there is an extensive record of the dealings of God with man. This means we are accountable for the tremendous light that has been granted to us. May the Lord help us to be faithful observers and learners of history.
Paul continues on the theme he has been addressing in the previous chapters. He is hitting hard on the message of those who continue to seek to fulfil righteousness by the Law. In this chapter he is going to use the example of comparing a minor to someone who is of full age. The law is meant to be a schoolmaster to serve as an instructor so as to put us into a positon of choosing to grow and mature. The law is likened to being under tutors and governors; it does not qualify one to obtain the inheritance. The Law teaches obedience in elementary truths of outward things that helps to later pave the way for internal change in one’s life. This is when the New Covenant has its full effect. The Law in itself does not change us, it merely serves as an instructor and vehicle that point out areas where we fall short; areas where we still have to grow up.
In verses 4-7 we see the fulfilment of one of the great mysteries of the kingdom. Before the foundation of the world the Father ordained that there would need to be a sacrificial lamb that would be slain for the sins of all mankind (Rev 13:8). In His foreknowledge there was a knowing that man would transgress His commandment requiring the sacrifice of His only begotten Son to be the only means of atonement. This meant that the Son of God would have to become man so as to acquaint with man and become sin on his behalf.
After the fall, man was separated from God by the wall of sin and the only way of approach was through God ordained sacrifices. All of these sacrifices served as an example of the one and only true sacrifice who would one day walk upon the earth. (The Lord Jesus Christ) The Law that was given to Israel through Moses was intended to help keep Israel protected and covered by God as they went forth into their inheritance. Just like the sacrifices that were offered to God, the Law was a vehicle that pointed to Christ. Man proved over and over again his inability to keep the Law. It was in the fullness of time that Jesus as the Son of God came to earth and became man. He walked the earth becoming acquainted with man in every way with the exception of knowing or committing sin. Through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit He was able to fulfil the Law in His flesh. He did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfil it and to raise the bar of the law even higher. How could any man still be in in bondage to the Law outside of Christ after all that Jesus had done? How is it possible that the Galatians would revert back to the Law after the strong foundations that Paul had established among them? The Law defines who God is, it defines man and his inability to keep it and the law gives strength and life to sin. For the New Testament believer there is only one way of fulfilling the Law and it is by faith in Christ and His work. When we begin to grasp an understanding of the true intent of the Law we come to know what the New Covenant is all about. It is then when we come to know what grace is and our need for it. It is the grace of God that serves as a bridge in taking us from our sinful woeful state to the stature and nature of Christ. It is the Law that makes us so aware of our sin base nature. The more we embrace and come to know the Law the more we have need for grace. We obtain grace through faith in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ not be seeking to attain unto the law through ritual and means of the flesh. This in essence is the battle taking place among the Galatian believers. This is why Paul spent an exorbitant amount of time in seeking to correct this damnable error.
What was happening to the Galatian church was that they were becoming more and more Jewish. Here you have a Gentile church being established by the great Apostle Paul only to be undermined by Judaizers a few years later. We cannot understate the power and influence these Judaizers had. As mentioned in a previous chapter we are seeing similar situations taking hold today. There is a return to ritual being seen among many believers worldwide; a turning back amongst people who have mightily tasted of God’s spirit and have known the living saviour. How can this be? I have a sense that we will be gleaning more from the Book of Galatians as we approach the last days.
In verses 12-16 Paul again reminds them of the impact that he helped to bring to the church at the time of its founding. They embraced Paul and honoured him as one who laboured on their behalf. He now asks the question of whether he is now an enemy because he tells them the truth. This is what Truth can do; it gets to the core of who people really are. It can be suppressed or hidden for a time but it eventually gets to the root where there is a fleshing out of internal intents of the heart. The Judaizers suppressed the truth which enabled them to be open to another gospel. This is why we must always have a love and pursuit for the truth. If we have not the love for truth we will come under strong delusion, especially in these last days.
2Th 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
2Th 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
It looks like the Thessalonian problem can be applied to the Galatians as well. This must have been most perplexing to Paul. Still, he presses on in his attempt to help them see the error of their ways. He goes on to point out that the Judaizers really did not have their best interest at heart; they were only seeking to gain at their expense (vs 17).
In verses 22-31 Paul uses the allegory of Hagar and Sarah to further bolster his point. He seeks to make the distinction by making 5 different comparisons; they are as follows:
1) Two covenants (Law and Grace)
2) Two Women (Hagar and Sarah)
3) Two Sons (Ishmael and Isaac)
4) Two mountains (Sinai and Zion)
5) Two Cities (Earthly Jerusalem-Heavenly Jerusalem)
We do not have the time to go into detail on these contrasts but it makes for an interesting study in coming to see the issue between the teachings of Paul as opposed to that of the Judaizers. One quick example is seen in the two sons. Ishmael was a product of the flesh. It violated the promise that God gave Abraham seeing that Ishmael came from Hagar who could be traced to Ham, the son of Noah. Isaac on the other hand came forth from Sarah who can be traced to Seth who is of the promise seed. It was obedience to faith that enabled Sarah to bear a son in old age. Paul lays a comprehensive case in contrasting the old to the new. There are other interesting notes that we can glean from these contrasts as well. Soon after the seed of promise was born (Isaac) the seed of the flesh (Ishmael) mocked and derided him (Gen 21:9). What was seen in seed form in Genesis is having its fulfilment today when looking at Israel’s relationship with its neighbours. There will always be contention between these two contrasts and Paul is certainly experiencing this in his contending over the saints at Galatia. It was Paul’s intent in the end that Truth would prevail. This should be our intent as well to always have a seeking heart for the Truth and nothing but the Truth.