PSALMS 141:1 – 143:12 and COLOSSIANS 2:1–23
This is a Psalm of David when he was going through a very deep trial. It is presumed to be at the time of Absalom’s rebellion. It seems that David was away from the sanctuary of God as seen in verse 2. This had to be the lowest and most difficult time of his life. His sin with Bathsheba, murder of Uriah and subsequent rebellion of Absalom had to have taken a toll upon David. He still had the ability to dig deep and make his cry out unto the Lord. In spite of all that David had done he still had confidence that God would hear him. His relationship with God was very deep and even though he transgressed against God he came to know the forgiveness and restoring capacities of God. He also knew that he was guilty and he made no pretence for what he had done. His ability to seek immediate repentance and forgiveness allowed for God to work the message of restoration into his life.
Psa 32:1 A Psalm of David, Maschil. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Psa 32:2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
Why is it that other people who pray may not be heard from God? What is the condition of their heart? Are they walking in obedience (Pro 1:28-29)? As always, it seems to come down to the heart. We are living in a day when Truth is being suppressed. We hide behind clever veils and coverings that hide the true picture or condition. David desired truth in the inward parts (Psa 51:6). What is the truth concerning the economy, the nation, the church or our individual lives? The fig leaves of Adam provide a flattering veneer to the above mentioned entities, but what is the Truth? David and the great men and women of God had an ability to respond openly to God when He walked into their individual garden; they did not hide nor cover up nor shifted blame, they acknowledged truth. God desires Truth on the inward parts and we need to be willing to allow God to probe (Psa 139:23). “Search me O God”
David prayed that his offering would come before the Lord as incense. We can conclude that he was alluding to the altar of incense that was situated at the entrance to the veil before the Holy of holies. There were 4 ingredients that made up the incense that was presented to God. Each of the ingredients were costly and had a spiritual significance. It reflected the quality of prayer that David brought before the Lord. The first ingredient “stacte” is synonymous with Myrrh which speaks of Meekness. The second ingredient was “onycha “which speaks of having a proper attitude when petitioning the Lord as was seen in Esther when she came before the king. She approached the king in total submission with the attitude “If I perish, I perish”. David is in a very similar condition as he is now making his prayer known to God. The third ingredient is “galbanum” which speaks of tears and gentleness. The Lord records the tears of those who seek him out of a pure heart. Finally, the fourth ingredient is “frankincense” which speaks of faith. In spite of all that David had done and what he was currently going through he could still present to the Lord a true prayer of consecration.
David then prays that God would help to put a guard on his mouth and to keep him in check when surrounded by his enemies. There will always be the temptation to opt for an easier life which slowly brings us into the clutches of the world’s system. This is the danger we see in so many of the doctrines being taught today. The ability to live a good life as a believer is not bad but our focus should be upon the city whose founder and maker is God (Heb 11:8-10). This will help to keep the fire within lit and burning for the ultimate purpose of God for our lives. Let us learn to separate from the world’s dainties (Dan 1:8). The final verses have David praying that his eyes would ever be upon the Lord and not being seduced or taken in by the enemy and his devices. He prays that the wicked would fall into their own traps and that he would escape. This in fact is what happened to Absalom. It was a bitter-sweet moment for David; he was vindicated and was able to return to Jerusalem but he had lost his son in the process. The fruits of sin, even for a man such as David are high and it is painful. God is able to forgive and restore and He did so with David but the pain and consequence of sin was very real. Let us learn from his example.
This Psalm is a Maschil (instructive or teaching Psalm) given by David when he was in the cave of Engedi. The reference for this would be 1 Sam 24:1-8. Overall there were 8 Psalms that denote David’s fleeing from Saul as seen in the Psalm’s descriptions. David at this time was a young man probably in his mid to late twenties but already has experienced significant events in his life, such as the taking down of Goliath. The elite of Saul’s army are now on a hunt for David and for what reason? He had the anointing and Saul did not.
1 Sam 18:8 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?
This is the primary issue between Saul and David. Saul was disobedient to the Word of the Lord and as a result was given the Word that the kingdom would be given to another. He became stirred and troubled when people from the kingdom began to ascribe greater glory to David. Saul was insecure and this is what can be noted in people who have such insecurities. They will accentuate their strengths at the expense of the weaknesses or areas that God is after. Saul accentuated his strength when defeating the Amalekites but he did not obey what God told him to do (1 Sam 15:22-23).
David had to deal with loneliness during this season in his life as seen in verse 4. There are times in the life of a believer where it appears that we are in a solitary journey. It is such a blessing to have brethren who can walk alongside us during times of trial to encourage and support.
Prov 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
There are times however when the Lord allows us to be isolated so that we can turn our full attention to him. He is that friend that sticks closer than a brother (Pro 18:24).
The people of God are almost always at a disadvantage in the natural at such times. David is absolutely correct in his assessment of the enemy. They were far more formidable than his band of brethren but it seems that these are the odds the Lord enjoys to work with. David saw this as an opportunity for the Lord to be glorified if he were to be brought forth from this captive situation. He understood that the testimony of God’s deliverance would draw men to God when they come to see how the Lord worked on his behalf. Oh, by the way verse 7 is another one of the old charismatic songs we used to sing back in my early days as a believer. I enjoy singing them even now as I write this because the song has much deeper meaning due to my better grasp of the scriptures and being able to parallel these examples to our day.
This is one of the penitential psalms of David that took place after his sin with Bathsheba. It is a Psalm that gives a vivid picture of many of the sufferings that David went through as a result of his sin. We also see the door that was opened up to the enemy, a door he would otherwise never would have been able to enter in.
2 Sam 12:14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.
This is now what David is experiencing as he has now fled from Absalom. In verse 1 we see the same confidence that David expressed in other places, that God would hear his prayer. He quickly addresses his sin and makes it known that if he were to be judged according to his deeds that he and no other man would be able to stand in his sight. David understood and knew the mercies of God and was ever dependent upon them. The overwhelming presence of the enemy is now upon him; it is more than physical but a real spiritual battle that is taking place. It can be so intense at times that we see no hope or relief from our situation. Spiritual attacks and oppression is very real and it has the ability to cast down the strongest of saints. We will never know how intense the battle was for Jesus in the garden at the time he partook of the cup in becoming sin (Luke 22:42).
The physical beatings were beyond anything we could imagine or endure but what about the spiritual oppression? There were the mockings, jeering and ungodly attacks’ coming from all corners and worse of all was the removal of the loving glance of His Father. David is tasting this in a very small measure (compared to Christ) but it all so painful and real. It is at times like this when all one can do is reflect upon God’s goodness in the past which helps to increase the longing for God with His deliverance and touch (vs 4-5). David even has a taste of the hopelessness of hell in verses 6-7. David was crying out for renewed hope and strength that would aid in his pursuit for God. This is one of the horrors of hell; there is no relief, no vision or opportunity to look forward to help comfort one’s current condition. It is an eternity of separation from God and it is an eternity of musing over opportunities that were lost. David had hope and he had opportunity but his taste of hell serves as a sobering wake-up call for all of who yet have breath; a wake-up call to do all we can in warning others of hell’s perils.
An essential exercise for all believers’ is to have a daily devotional time with the Lord. It is one of the primary ways that God can speak and affirm His work in our lives. David prayed that God would cause him to be able to hear His voice, especially times and season like the one he was going through. David concludes this Psalm by praying a two-fold prayer in verse 10. He prayed that God would “teach him” of His ways and that he would have an obedient heart to walk in His ways. David had an extraordinary life up to the time of his reign upon Mt. Zion and yet these events are all the result of his sin with Bathsheba. In spite of his sin, David had the ability to acknowledge truth thus allowing God to work Restoration. David, through this trial and judgement becomes acquainted with many aspects of the Lord’s future suffering. This does not mean that it was God’s intention for David to sin so that he could be a vessel of insight to what the Lord would experience. It does speak of the great restorative power that God is able to bring forth and it also speaks of the greatness of David, that after grievously sinning while on the throne and in light, he could still call upon the Lord. It was the heart of David that so drew the Lord’s attention and favor. May we learn from these Penitential Psalms and not go down the tragic road that David took (Psa 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143) .
Paul was very much in tune with the Colossian and other churches while he was in prison. He battled spiritually on their behalf even though he was distantly removed from them. We will later see this in Daniel where he had spiritual encounters (warfare) regarding events far removed from him (Dan 10). Paul was writing letters that was shedding light on the devices of the enemy whether it was in Colossae, Laodicea or other places. His letters had a thrust, power and spirit behind them so it would be natural to assume that Paul would be opposed. Paul then speaks again to the thought of understanding, wisdom and knowledge in verses 2-3. These attributes of the Holy Spirit are essential anointings to counter the tactics of the enemy. The enemy must be discerned and he must not be allowed to entice or seduce God’s people with his smooth and undermining words. In verse 5 Paul makes clear that he is able to behold their order even though he is not with them. Is this really possible? There is precedent for this when looking at the prophet Ezekiel. He was taken from one place to another so that he could observe what the priests were truly doing in secret. He was allowed to see what God was seeing. This revelation then helped to shape the message of Ezekiel.
Ezek 8:3 And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
Paul’s message to the Colossian church is being shaped in large part based on what he has heard and seen, even while being in a Roman prison.
Paul now is about to address another problem in the church. There were those who were teaching traditions and ceremonial customs based on human philosophy. Paul speaks and addresses the subject of the true circumcision and not the one done by hands (vs 11). This was the Judaizer problem that we saw in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. He precedes his warning by emphasizing the need in being grounded and rooted in Christ. There are many today who are easily swayed with the various doctrines and teachings that circulate throughout the church world. Paul later writes concerning how this will be a major problem in the last days (2 Tim 4:3). Paul goes on to explain how Jesus dealt with ritual and ordinances when he died upon the Cross (vs 14).
One of the most potent verses in the whole of the Word of God has to be verse 15. It is here where Jesus died on the Cross with the look of a pathetic, tortured and humiliated human specimen yet it was the power of God being openly displayed against the powers of darkness. What looked hopeless in the natural was actually the greatest display of God’s power to man. It is here where expressions like “let the weak say I am strong” are derived. The culmination of this display of power took place 3 days later when Jesus rose from the dead.
Paul addresses the heresy of the worshipping of angels in verse 18. There are prominent false religions today that have their origins due to the worshipping of angels and their not being challenged. A true angel will always acquiesce to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; a true angel will not receive worship. We are reminded as to how Satan is able to transform himself into an angel of light. Man tends not to deliberately worship angels, it can be done unknowingly nonetheless we must be able to discern. This can become an issue when we become overly absorbed with the supernatural. We place more emphasis on signs and wonders than on the Lord Himself. This is something that needs to be watched carefully in the leading up to the last days.
Paul now deals with another issue, a heresy known as Asceticism which is referenced in verses 21-23. Asceticism can be defined as extreme abstinence. One feels that they become more spiritual by their ability to place extreme disciplines upon their body. An example could be those who try to re-enact the crucifixion on Good Friday. They allow themselves to go through extreme pain and suffering and by doing so think that they are endearing themselves closer to God. One can admire the self-control and discipline but it does nothing for one’s spirituality; it dismisses the atoning message of the Cross. Another example can be those who go through numerous 40 day fasts. (Please do not mistake my point here; I fully believe God ordains such fasting for people) I have seen people who pride themselves on the number of times they do such fasting within a year. In one particular case the excessive fasting was a “cover-up” for moral failure that a leader was involved in. I believe Asceticism at its core is rooted in the need to cover up and atone for wrong doing. Is it practiced today? I believe so though in different and more palatable forms. Have you ever noticed entertainers who promote immorality, vulgarity and other vices through their performances are oftentimes at the forefront of social causes? They embrace environmentalism, climate change, animal rights type agendas as their means of atoning or feeling better about themselves because of their guilt. Remember, history continually repeats itself but it is often in more sophisticated ways. History tends to repeat itself because man is at the center of it. After laying the foundation of many of his concerns for the church and refuting many of the heresies, Paul will delve into the subject of holiness. The message of true holiness will have more meaning as a result of the approach that Paul has taken in the first 2 chapters of Colossians.