PSALMS 120:1 – 122:9 and EPHESIANS 5:1–33
The Psalmist here is living in a land of lying lips and deceit. It is not an easy place to be because many times those lies are targeted at the righteous. We know that Satan is the father of lies and he employs this tactic often against God’s people (John 8:44). We also know that Satan has the title of being the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10). He constantly speaks lies and accusations to God about His people. We oftentimes get caught up in these accusations resulting in our coming under condemnation. This is the reason why we need to have an intimate walk with our God and come to know what He says about us. If we are forgiven we can stand under the covering of the shed blood of the lamb. It is important that we be consistent in coming before the Lord to seek forgiveness when we err. There is an insightful verse that speaks of the tents of Kedar. This helps to give some insight into the psalmist’s plight. Kedar is the 2nd son of Ishmael who came to the place of mocking Isaac, the son of promise.
Gen 21:8 And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.
Gen 21:9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.
Gen 21:10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. (See also Gen 17:19)
This enmity seen in Genesis is playing out today on a much larger scale. The revered prophet of Islam can be traced to the 2nd son of Ishmael. It is amazing to note what we see in seed form in Genesis is now manifesting in extreme hatred between nations. In essence Psalm 120 is a picture of the enmity that Israel has today with its neighbours. It all started as the result of a work of the flesh. Abraham coming into Sarah’s Egyptian maid Hagar resulting in Ishmael. If we trace this back even further we can see that Hagar, the mother of Ishmael can trace her roots to Ham who violated and took advantage of his father’s vulnerability (Gen 9:22). There are many lessons here. Everything here points to the only solution for true peace; the Prince of Peace Himself.
It is so encouraging to know that we have a God who can be called upon when in need. He is our help in time of trouble. This was very characteristic of Israel when they encountered attacks from their enemies. The Lord would respond in varied ways as the result of the cries of His people. One thing we need to note however is not to take this privilege for granted. We also see with Israel that there is a limit with God and there are times when He does not answer due to their transgression. There will be times when we can be serving God faithfully and it seems like He is not there or answering prayer. This is when we must trust in His ability to work all things for good. It is times like this when we must remember that He is never caught off guard or found to be slumbering. The Lord not only keeps His people but He is also their helper. David came to know this provision of the Lord (Psa 54:4).
This Psalm begins much like the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer. He looks towards the heavens; the one who rules and reign overall as the one who can answer his cry. Too often we focus on the circumstance; the mountain that is before us as opposed to looking UP to God. This approach can help bring a greater perspective to any situation. It can also help in bringing forth an atmosphere of faith that God can move and work through.
In verse 8 there is the promise of the Lord preserving our coming and our going. No matter where we may be upon the earth the Lord is able to keep his own. Once again this cannot be taken for granted. David experienced the hand of the Lord upon him in His battles because of consulting the Lord before making war. We sometimes move presumptuously thinking that God is with us. It is so important that we allow God to be at the forefront of any major decision be it war or otherwise. God desires to be involved in these matters. He promises to help when sought after. We must let Him.
The opening verse serves as a wonderful approach when coming into a church service. An open declaration of praise and rejoicing in the midst of any circumstance will help to lift one’s spirit. I can attest to this personally remembering a number of times when we would sing this very chorus to the opening of a church service or conference. There was an added little chorus that is not seen in this Psalm but is included here: Singing glory hallelujah, praise the Lord, Singing glory hallelujah praise the Lord, singing glory Hallelujah praise the Lord, let us go into the house of the Lord. There are further blessing in being in the house of the Lord as well such as being given insight and perspective through God’s Word (Psa 73:17). There is also healing and deliverance. The treasure of being able to gather together as a church is going to be more appreciated as we approach the last days. Paul makes mention that we are not to forsake the assembling together of the saints especially as we see the day approaching (Heb 10:25). The house of the Lord will also be a place for needed fellowship and strengthening of the body.
In verse 3 Jerusalem can be likened to a church that is fitly joined together (Eph 4:16). One of the ministries of the person of the Holy Spirit is to help produce a unity amongst the church brethren. This is when the church is at its best; people flowing together in harmony to fulfil the purposes of God under the headship of the Holy Spirit. There is an endeavouring required in being able to achieve such a unity; it takes work and it is costly. It is an area of attack that the enemy focuses upon and will continue to do so until he finds no area that he can penetrate. The upper room was able to come to that place of oneness that allowed for the Holy Spirit to come upon them.
In verses 4-5 we see thrones of judgement that will be in place during the reign of the millennium. These thrones also existed at the time of the Restoration when Joshua was called to be a functioning priest.
Zec 3:7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.
Zec 3:8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.
As believer’s we have the opportunity to ask the Lord to judge and work within us today. David echoed this kind of prayer in Psalm 7:8. He sought to have the Lord Judge him in accordance to His righteousness. Don’t you think it is better to have this work done now at the throne of grace as opposed to having it exposed openly before others or at the judgement seat of Christ? It is time to seek Him while he may be found. Finally, in verses 6-9 we are instructed to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem. This can also represent the church as a result of the Gentiles being grafted into the promise. This will be especially true in these last days as things begin to deteriorate all around us. This is a prayer that can be invoked in our homes, offices, and schools. May we become emblems of God’s peace wherever we go by manner of the way we live, having peace with both God and men.
The beginning of this chapter addresses one’s individual walk with Christ. It is a walk that is based on love, a walk based on being in the light and a walk based on integrity. Paul then segues nicely into the walk we are to have in our marriages. The way we function in our marriages will reflect the level of relationship we have with Christ; we are called to be the bride of Christ. From the beginning we are exhorted to be followers and imitators of God. This can only be achieved by knowing Him and by walking in love. I think we have a tendency to understate God as a loving heavenly father. A true father loves his children and always seeks to do what is in their best interest. How is such love for children portrayed?
Psa 103:13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
God loves being a Father and he is very good at being a Father. Take a good look at today’s world and consider how the role of the father is portrayed. Fatherhood is mocked, diminished, redefined and even removed from many aspects of society. This has been a trend over the last several decades and all one has to do is to see its resulting fruit. Is it any wonder that violence, lawlessness, and other vices are on the rise? What about single parent homes that have no true father figure to help influence and bring stability? Satan hates fatherhood and attacks it mercilessly because this is the primary way God is defined. The same can be said for marriages. If homes divide and fall apart it allows for the enemy to have his way; he is not kept in check when marriages are in turmoil. Paul is threading essential keys throughout chapter 5 that strengthens ones relationship and walk with God as well as keys to having a strong and success marriage. If we can learn from his exhortation and apply them it will deal a powerful blow to the kingdom of darkness.
Paul lays out several things that a Christian must avoid and not be a partaker of in verses 3-6. There has been the passing of about 2000 years since Paul wrote to the Ephesian church and we see its continued relevance today. We need to guard our Christian conduct in an evil world. This would include watching our conversation and actions; to be aware that our lives are being observed. God is calling the saints to be salt and light. Sadly, there is much of Christendom that is morphing into worldly practices as reflected through many churches and marriages. The standards must be lifted higher. Paul is providing guidelines in how believers can walk in love and light. A closer walk with God will result in healthier marriages and home life. This is where Paul is now heading.
The theme of the fruits of the Spirit is picked up from verse 9 through 21. Paul zeroes in on the subject of Goodness, Righteousness and Truth as seen in verse 9. It is the goodness of God that leads a man unto repentance. This is a beautiful attribute we want to see developed in our lives. In exuding goodness we give people an opportunity to taste the savour of Christ. I experienced this personally when God first touched my life. I was dating a girl whose father took an interest in me. He shared about the love that God had for me. His testimony and kindness to me has made an impact I could never repay. I have no idea where Mr. White is today but I thank God for his investment made into my life. May we be likewise in our interactions with people.
Righteousness and Truth should always be primary aims in our walk with God. There is an opportunity for believers to have the righteousness of God imparted and developed within their inner being. This comes as a result from an abiding with Christ; walking in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7). Finally, Paul goes on to say that we need to have a love for truth and learn to embrace truth. If we learn by God’s grace to implement these qualities into our life it will help ensure a close and intimate walk with God. It will also help to ensure the keys to a very strong marriage.
Now that Paul has helped to give us understanding in how we are to submit ourselves before one another in the fear of God he turns our attention towards the true structure for marriage. In verses 22-24 the wives are instructed to submit to their husbands in the same manner as the church is to be subject to Christ. If we have applied carefully the pattern Paul laid out in the earlier verses it would then help to put the issue of subjection into greater clarity. Wives are to love their husbands as the church is called to love Christ. The assumption here is that the husband would be like Christ as seen in His willingness to lay down His life for His beloved church. If a husband were to demonstrate such qualities then a woman would have little problem subjecting herself to his leadership. The primary problem is man’s failure to uphold the Biblical standard of loving his wife in the manner that Christ loved the church. If a wife feels deprived of this kind of love it should then come as no surprise that problems would soon follow. We pinpoint a wife’s rebellion and frustration as the main problem but oftentimes it stems from the failure on the husband. Please understand that I am not condoning rebellion on the part of a frustrated and non-submissive wife but merely pointing out one of the root issues for its cause. Like John the Baptist we are living in a day where the axe has to get to the root. This is what the New Covenant is actually all about. It has the ability to get to the root of where all sin originates. In marriage the onus is upon the husband to learn to demonstrate the love for his wife that Christ has for the church. Christ demonstrated His love by His death upon the Cross. He covered His (bride) church by dying for her. The Biblical standard is very high but it is achievable by His grace. As we grow in intimacy in our love for God we will grow in intimacy in our love for our spouse and for one another. This is the pattern that Paul is placing emphasis on in chapter 5. If a wife knows that she is loved, prized above all others, cared for and cherished she will feel no need to have to go and assert herself by unnatural means. When these boundaries become crossed, homes and families soon suffer the consequences. It does not stop in the home because it soon spreads to the church and then throughout society. The rioting in our cities, the fatherless homes that are seen today represent the scars of the broken pattern that God has established. The cry for Restoration must be one of our primary rallying cries in these last days. This is what the heart of God is longing for. The keys to seeing this become a reality are covered in this chapter.
Mal 4:4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
Mal 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
Mal 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.