PSALMS 138:1 – 140:13 and COLOSSIANS 1:1–29
This Psalm is attributed to David who sings and worship before the holy temple. What holy temple could he be speaking of seeing that Solomon was the one who had the privilege of building a temple (house) unto the Lord? It would be the spiritual temple in heaven. We have noted on previous occasions in how David was a man born out of time due to the heart he had for God. This is why he could function as both a king and priest. Through his life he has been able to give valuable insights into the life of Christ; His sufferings in the lead-up to the Cross and His future role as Prince over the Millennium. Here He is able to give a glimpse of what the future worship to the king of kings will be like. In verse 1 David speaks of praising and worshipping the Lord with his whole heart. This is not a going through the motions kind of worship but one that gives the Lord his very best. He will be praising the Lord before the gods which speaks of angelic hosts with whom we will be joining in praise. Do we give the kind of praise to the Lord that David is expressing here? It would be good to evaluate the intensity of our worship and praise to the Lord. If it is lacking we need then to stir up the spirit within us. This can be aided by anointed music that plays in the midst of a suitable environment conducive to worship. Our churches should be places where whole hearted worship can go forth.
We see in verse 2 an important truth that is often overlooked. God places a higher emphasis on His Word than on His Name. We know that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow but we must never forget that He is the WORD that was made flesh. Once again we see the importance in putting a priority in the study and application of God’s Word. There is a growing trend in many church circles where the Word is taking more of a back seat in light of programs and other activities. Programs and activities are fine when properly balanced but they are never meant to serve as a substitute for the Word of God. In verse 4 David came to know the blessings of answered prayer. Let us be encouraged by his example and learn to take God at His Word when He speaks promises to us. Our God is a prayer answering God and we must have faith to believe that He hears and responds.
In verses 4-5 we see a messianic message concerning the kings of the earth that will be singing and praising the Lord; they will be singing the ways of the Lord. These will be songs of substance that denote the qualities of who God is, not just His mighty power. Moses was one who knew the ways of God while Israel saw His mighty works (Psa 103:7). There will be kings doing the same thing at the time of the 2nd coming. What a beautiful thought this is when considering the condition of today’s world. We are about to see significant changes and shifts in the heavenly and earthy realms. In verse 6 we see the absolute greatness of God as he ministers and relates to the lowly and downtrodden. The great God of the universe who created all things and rules over all still has that nature of meeting the lowly where they are at. What humility and what a lesson and example for us (Isa 57:15). May we never ever be so high minded that we see ourselves above other classes of people. The Lord who had all power at His disposal chose to be the servant of all mankind. Lord, please help cultivate this quality of mind within each of us.
In the closing verses (7-8) of this Psalm we see the protective hand of God upon His people. If we walk in humility before God, seeking His ways He then is well able to preserve and keep us. The problem comes when we walk outside the established boundaries He has placed before us. He has a purpose and plan for each of us and it is His intention to reveal portions of that plan while doing His part in helping us to fulfil it. In verse 8 David said the Lord would “perfect” that which concerned him. This means that God is a finisher and He will complete the good work that He has planned and started in our lives. This is similar to what Paul shared to the Philippian church (Phil 1:6). The steps that we can take are outlined in this Psalm. We need to be those who worship and praise the Lord with a whole heart, major on His Word, serve Him and man in humility as well as trusting in His ability to keep and protect His own. These steps will help to ensure that we are in the pathway of the Lord that allows for His hand to develop and complete that which concerns us. This is a Psalm that is presented to the mature saint who has an all out heart for God’s best.
I am not sure if there is another portion of scripture in the Bible that better describes the expanse of who God is and what He does than this Psalm. There are so many individual messages and story lines that could be taken from this Psalm. The Psalm is attributed to David and there really could be no other candidate who could be used of God to convey these many qualities of the Almighty. It would have to be a person so close to the heart of God who could express Him in such terms.
In verses 1-12 David gives insights into the Omniscient and Omnipresent God. In verse 1 David speaks of God who has searched him and known him. This is a healthy perspective to have of God because it helps to keep us humble and it allows God to work more deeply in our lives. David does not describe God as threatening but one who knows everything about him. This is one of the definitions of the Fear of the Lord. In verses 2-5 we see the omniscience of God at work as David makes known His ability to know when he gets up, lies down, to know the words he speaks etc. Our God is “all knowing” and it’s good to (and sometimes humbling) to apply His omniscient capacities to our lives. In verses 6-7 David realizes that he could never come out from being under God’s watchful eye. This can be interpreted in different ways. If we are loving God and seeking Him with a whole heart it would be comforting to know that He is observing everything about us. This is the posture David is taking here.
In verses 8-10 David goes further to explain that God inhabits heaven and can be found in hell. He established hell as punishment for Satan and his angels and for those who choose not to appropriate the gift of eternal life through His Son. Darkness means nothing to the Lord as He can see all things at all times. David has the ability to convey the comprehensive greatness of God making clear that there is not a place where He cannot be found. It is a comforting thought to ponder over when going through a personal captivity. God knows about it and He more than likely has authorized it for some eternal good.
In verses 13-18 we see the familiar verses that speak concerning the origin of man. David gets right to the heart of the matter in sharing how the Lord knows us from the womb. We can even say that He pre-planned us before the foundations of the world (Rev 13:8). In looking through Biblical history we can even say that Satan has limited insight concerning the potential of one’s life who has yet to be born. He sought on a number of occasions to undermine God’s purpose and plan prior to or at the time of the birth of significant figures (Moses –Exo 1:18, Joash-2 Kings 11:1-2, Jesus-Math 2:13). In verses 14-16 we come to know the involvement of the Lord concerning our lives even while we are still in the womb. God has given to man an identity and a purpose. It is interesting to note how people are losing their identity and self-esteem in today’s world. Satan, who dictates the spirit of this world, seeks to define who we are; he seeks to define our values and purpose all of which run contrary to God’s ways. It is the hand of a loving heavenly Father that gives true identity and stability more than anything else. The church world needs to come into deep relationship with the heavenly Father. This is the greatest remedy for today’s spiritual identity theft. In verse 17 we see just how much the heavenly Father cares for His own. He truly loves being a Father and He is certainly good at being a Father; if we let Him.
In verses 19-22 we see David’s prayer for the overthrow of the wicked. As we approach the last days we will see an increasing hatred of God and His ways. David loved God and he came to despise and have a disdain for those who mocked and opposed God. There is a place for loving our enemies for the purpose of seeing them turn from their wicked ways but there is a “hatred” that develops within a saint for the things that God hates. Jehosophat made an ungodly alliance with a man and kingdom that God wanted to judge. As we learn to walk in closer harmony with God we will be able to distinguish the difference. We will come into that place of loving that which God loves and hating the things that He hates.
Psa 45:7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
In the closing two verses we see one of the great qualities of David. It is his prayer and cry for a pure heart. He even took a proactive approach in asking the Lord to seek and see if there were any wicked things within him. In the beginning of this Psalm David speaks of God’s omniscience; His ability to know all things at all times. This awareness helps him to pray with the invitation to the Lord to search out his heart. He already knew that God knew all things but he still took the initiative in asking God to reveal anything that may be hidden that could be a hindrance in his relationship with God. One can only imagine how pleased God is with that manner of prayer. Do we have the ability to do the same?
This is another Psalm of David but appears to date back to the time when he was fleeing from Saul. It has similarities to Psalm 52 so it is possible that it was written around the same time. This would be around the time of the treachery of Doeg the Edomite. It is possible that Doeg could be the “evil man” cited in verse 1. He was the one who alerted Saul to David’s whereabouts when he was with Ahimelech the priest. David presents the power of the tongue and its ability to destroy and wreak havoc on the righteous. There is a tremendous power behind our words especially when we are in a position of authority. In today’s world we see slander abounding everywhere. I tend to think this is all rooted back to Gen 9 at the time after the flood. It was Ham who exposed and shamed his father with his words resulting in an eternal curse upon Canaan (Gen 9:22). That spirit was alive and well in the days of David and it is certainly alive and well today. It is with sadness in saying that the church is not immune to this poison. May our words be those that bless, uplift, convict and edify for the glory of God.
David learned to pray for God’s help when challenged by his enemies. This was a season where David learned to trust God seeing that he was constantly on the run from Saul and other enemies. The enemy is crafty and he often seeks to trip up the righteous by trying to catch him off guard. Vigilance is the order of the day seeing that the enemy is ever seeking to devour his prey, particularly those who seek after the heart of God. David learned to pray for the judgments of God to come upon their own heads even to the point of going to hell. David then prayed that the evil speakers would not be established upon the earth. He knew their potential for evil and how capable they would be in turning many away from God. This is a mature prayer and it is only given to those who truly carry the burden of the Lord. David loved God and his prayer reflected that high level of intimacy shared with God. His prayer reflected that which was in God’s heart which is why he could make such strong declarations.
In the end David knew that God would come through on behalf of the righteous. He hears the cause and cry of the poor and responds to them accordingly. It is the upright that shall praise Him while having the privilege of dwelling in His presence.
I have had the privilege of teaching on Paul’s letter to the Colossians on numerous occasions since the year 2004. I never get tired of teaching on this subject and I never cease to learn fresh truths. It is a letter that Paul wrote from prison to the founder of the Colossae church who was a man by the name of Epaphras (vs 7). History teaches that Epaphras was a disciple of Paul and probably one of his students when he taught in Ephesus for a period of two years (Acts 19:10). This is the potential of what a Bible School can produce. Many of the men that Paul discipled went forth being successful church planters and leaders. Paul was burdened to write this letter due to much of the false teaching that was being propagated in this region. Paul had to deal with the Judaizers when he wrote to the Galatian church but there were several other false teachings permeating throughout Colossae that needed to be addressed.
In these 4 chapters Paul will brilliantly counter these false teachings and use it as an opportunity to present Christ uniquely as well as placing an emphasis on the subject of holiness. This was the genius of Paul. He took a concern and vulnerability and turned it into an opportunity to present truth in ways that would otherwise not be known. The primary concerns centered around the following false teachings. They are as follows: 1) Ceremonialism, 2) Angel worship, 3) Asceticism, 4) Minimizing of Christ, and 5) Gnosticism. We will define these doctrines when Paul speaks to it through his letter.
The primary theme that can be given to this letter is that of holiness. Holiness can be best defined in the following two ways: 1) Separation from the world, the flesh and the devil and 2) Separation unto God. We will see this vividly portrayed in chapter 3.
Paul introduces this epistle with his familiar greeting of grace and peace unto its hearers. He also identifies himself as an apostle for the purpose of stating his authority in countering many of the false teachings that were permeating the church. Paul was encouraged in verse 4 in hearing of their faith and the love they had for the saints. Don’t forget, Paul was writing this from prison so news like this would be refreshing and uplifting to him. He commends Epaphras in verse 7 as a fellow-servant and faithful minister of the gospel. This citation is invaluable to a leader like Epaphras seeing that it is coming from someone like Paul. Paul was saying that he could be trusted and that he had his full confidence. Paul had the kind of authority and clout that would satisfy the church in this regard.
Paul was very complimentary of this church due to their Christian conduct and witness (vs 8). He speaks and prays that they might be filled with the knowledge, wisdom and understanding in their spiritual walk. This is a high level prayer seeing that it speaks to 3 of the 7 spirits of God mentioned in Isa 11:2-3. This is the anointing that Daniel and his three friends were filled with as seen in Daniel 1. This required a decision to separate from the delights of the king’s table (Dan 1:8) and a separation unto God in prayer and fasting (Dan 1:12). Can you see the example of Daniel as being the fulfilment of our definition of holiness above? Daniel and his friends separated from the delights and desires of the kings table while separating themselves unto God in prayer and fasting. This is what Paul was praying for the saints at Colossae. Remember, Daniel and his three friends became fruitful seeing that they were 10 times wiser than all the wise men of the king’s realm. This is the kind of fruit that Paul was desiring for the church as they began to grow in these areas (vs 10). One can see a strong parallel between Daniel and his three friends with what Paul was praying for the church. This is the kind of fruitfulness that Paul was looking to see in the church.
In verse 11 he speaks of growing in “might” (another one of the 7 spirits from Isa 11:1-2) as well as the fruit of joy, patience and long-suffering. Paul’s intent for this church was not consisting of trivial matters; he was looking for them to grow into a church of great stature and maturity. Still, he had to warn them about subversive doctrines filling the church. You will find this to be common with churches that have a high calling upon them. One may think that all of these false doctrines indicate weakness on the part of the church but the truth is otherwise. It is because of the potential and high calling upon the Colossian church that these became an issue. The enemy was hard at work in seeking to undermine their progress by some of these teachings. This process is insightful to us and one can only marvel and step back to appreciate how Paul deals with these concerns.
In verses 15-20 Paul speaks to one of the teachings that were being propagated throughout the region. We will label it as the “Minimization of Christ” or put another way, presenting Christ as someone less than whom He really is. This doctrine and false teaching exists today. You will find virtually every religion referring to Christ as a good man, a mighty prophet, one whom we should seek to emulate. True, Jesus is and was all those things but He is more, so much more. He is the co-creator of the world. This is how Paul approaches the subject of Jesus. Paul presents Him as the firstborn of all creation, the One who is before all things and by whom all things exist and are upheld, the One who is the head of the church and the one who made peace between God and man by shedding His blood at the Cross. Paul elaborates on who Jesus really is. He takes this false teaching and presents Christ uniquely in a way not seen in his other writings. It is the same thing today; so many like to speak of Jesus as being a good man, prophet and miracle worker but they tend to leave it at that. He is Alpha and Omega; He was, is and is to come. The New Age movement today seeks harmony and peace among all religions and they are quick to include Christ as a central figure to admire but they are quick to omit the most important characteristic; Jesus Christ is the ONLY begotten Son of God. If you seek to point that out you will lose the majority of the people. Paul was very direct and explicit as to whom Jesus Christ is and in doing so he shattered the myth of one of the false teachings that was coming against the church.
One of the primary themes of Colossians is that of holiness. Paul emphasizes what the work of the Cross can accomplish in the life of a believer. The Cross has the potential to present a person holy and unblameable before Christ. The work of Calvary is more than just salvation; it has the ability to bring one into a state of holiness. This process requires being grounded in the faith and continuing in the faith (vs 23). Paul, in writing to the Romans spoke of the righteousness of God being revealed from faith to faith (Rom 1:17). It is a daily walk of allowing God to deal in our lives, to bring us to the point of dying daily so that His righteousness can be developed within us by faith. This means we must have a love for Truth and continue in His Truth and in His Word (John 8:31-32). Paul then speaks of the work of the Spirit which enabled him to teach on how Christ can be perfected within the life of every believer; Christ in you, the hope of glory.