PSALMS 144:1 – 146:10 and COLOSSIANS 3:1–25
This is another Psalm of David which was probably written near the end of his life. One can see the residue of judgment upon his life after his sin with Bathsheba. Though David was forgiven of his sin he suffered under the consequences of it through the end of his life. In verse 1 David is thankful to the Lord for the gifting that God had given to him. David was a warrior king and had an ability to defeat foes that were far stronger then he in the natural. He also had anointed fingers that could play instruments. There is the connotation of warfare in the way one worships and David certainly had that ability. There is something about anointed music that brings a release and an atmosphere of victory. It is God that gives gifts to men and we need to discover them and function in them to the glory of God.
David saw the Lord as one who was able to fully equip him in his battles. He was able to trust the Lord in any situation and its God’s desire that we do the same.
Psa 91:2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
In verse 3 David asks a question that Job also asked. Who is man that you would take knowledge of him (Job 7:17, Psa 8:4)? It really is hard to fathom the great love and investment that God has made in man. This revelation should inspire us to do all we can to honor Him and to fulfil His will. In verse 4 David speaks of the brevity of life; these are words we should take to heart. Moses expressed the same sentiments and prayed that the Lord would teach him to live out his days in wisdom. We have this one life upon the earth and we want to make it count. It is more than just making it to heaven it is seizing every opportunity to become more like Him.
In verses 5-7 David turns his attention to the battles at hand. He had come to know many great deliverances and victories throughout his life but he was still plagued by challenges right up to the end of his life. He speaks in verse 7 of being delivered from “strange children”. This could be a reference to Adonijah who was one of his sons born in Hebron. He sought to usurp the throne that was to be given to Solomon. Absalom and Adonijah were sons who were part of the judgment that resulted from David’s sin with Bathsheba. In verse 9 David resorts to his worship and praise gifting which he trusts will open the way for God to triumph in the midst of his enemies. Let us learn to sing, praise and speak to the mountains that confront us in our lives.
Zec 4:7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
David goes back to the thought of strange children in verse 11. These can speak of the wicked in the midst of a congregation. Like Absalom, they can do much damage in contaminating others who have a call upon their lives. These “strange children” are tares that have no interest in promoting the welfare of the church but are more interested in drawing attention to themselves. They are oftentimes effective in seizing upon an offense that an individual might have.
In verses 12-15 we see the fruits of those who have allowed the Lord to apprehend them at an early age. There are many good Biblical examples of those who God was able to use from a young age. Their maturity allowed for wisdom and grace to be established in their lives. This is pivotal for the younger generation of the last days. We should be seeking to inspire them by pointing out the examples of David, Samuel, Josiah, Jeremiah, Esther and others who were pivotal in their youth. We need to see such youth of maturity rise up in these last days. Let’s pray towards that end.
This is a beautiful Psalm of David that places an emphasis on praise. From the beginning to the end this Psalm speaks of the greatness of God. It provides insight into what eternity will be like with the continual songs of praise and worship before the throne of God. David learned to practice praising the Lord every single day of his life. This is what helped him to keep his soul under subjection during times of difficulty and distress. There is a progression of praise through the generations as seen in verse 4. As we draw closer to the end there should be a greater measure of faithfulness and declared praise for all that God is doing through successive generations. If we are faithful and seek to accomplish all that God has given for us to do it should inspire the generations to come to do the same. If there is failure in the successive generations we then may need to take a good look at ourselves to determine if we may be the problem. Each generation must work at investing in the generations to come.
In verses 5-7 David reflects upon God’s acts of goodness, His majesty and mighty works as seen through the years. This is a healthy exercise for all believers seeing that it will help to give strength and encouragement for the challenges at hand. God’s track record through the years is one of faithfulness and love. A song of praise to God will begin to emerge when spending time in reflection. This is what David is doing in this Psalm and it is why he is able to praise and bless God throughout its entirety.
In verses 8-9 David is referencing the experience and revelation that Moses had when he met God upon Mt. Sinai (Exo 34:6). David though a king had priestly attributes seeing how he loved the presence of God. He could speak of God’s nature in the same manner Moses did. This is the place that the Lord wants to bring us into, to know Him and His nature. The more we come to know Him the more inclined we will be to sing praises as David is doing here.
In verses 10-13 we have another beautiful charismatic song we used to sing. It speaks of what will be seen in the millennium when the nations will come before Christ the Lord in worship. It will be a time when He will make known His mighty acts but also a time where the earth will come to know Him and His ways. We want to be those who know both of these aspects of the Lord. There are many in the church that seem to only focus on knowing and seeing His acts; knowing His ways are priestly attributes which should be our ultimate aim, in addition to seeing His mighty acts displayed.
Psa 103:7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
The Lord is faithful to pick us back up even after we have fallen. What an encouragement this is especially since we are prone to have setbacks. We take encouragement when we see how someone like Peter rallied after his failure. He had a deep love for God that the Lord took note of. He had an ability that allowed for the Holy Spirit to help bring needed correction into his life. This is a major key for us in that we make allowance for the Holy Spirit to move in our lives. Do we resist Him and His overtures? Do we make excuses when He seeks to address areas of concern in our lives? The Bible speaks of 7 times where a man can fall and yet God picks Him up again (Pro 24:16). This does not imply that we can go out and sin wilfully thinking that God is always there to forgive us. Our God is a merciful God, a long-suffering God but never are we to take His love and forgiveness for granted. He knows our frame, our weaknesses and our tendencies and He seeks to help and strengthen us in our areas of need. God is faithful and when we begin to get a taste and understanding of His ways it will cause us to sing His praises accompanied with a heart to serve Him fully.
The Lord seeks to bring man into an even deeper experience with Him. He is righteous in all His ways and holy in His works. He longs to bring people into this revelation of Truth. What do we do with Truth? Do we embrace it; do we love and uphold it? How do we respond when Truth presents itself before our being? The tendency of man is to hide, (like Adam did) to cover up (like Adam did) or to place blame and make excuse (like Adam did). The key is in our ability to acknowledge the Truth. Yes Lord, I am a ___________, yes Lord, this is who I am etc. The Lord desires Truth on the inward parts of our being (Psa 51:6). This is why David has such insight into this quality and it is why he can sing and praise God accordingly. What about us today? Do we truly seek after the fullness of Truth? Can we own up to who we really are? This is a serious question that deserves serious attention. It is helpful to be reminded of the following verse that David spoke of in another place.
Psa 25:10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
In the end David says that he will praise the Lord forever. There are many who feel that this was the last of the Psalms that David wrote; if so it is quite a statement and declaration that he makes. “I will speak the praise of the Lord and let all flesh bless His holy name forever. Amen”
This Psalm, as well as the remaining ones can be placed during the restoration era of Israel’s history. These Psalms are filled with great rejoicing for all that God has done. The years of bitter bondage are but now a memory as the joy and goodness of the Lord is celebrated. There is a maturity conveyed in these psalms as the writers exhort the people to not put their trust in man but God. The lessons of the past are fresh in the minds of the restorers. In verse one the Psalmist commands his soul to bless the Lord. David excelled in being able to do this; to take authority over the emotions of circumstance and allow his spirit man to take authority over his soul. We sing songs that have the words “Bless the Lord Oh my soul” but in reality we have little understanding what they entail. This can only be done by a strong “spirit” man working within a vessel. This spirit man is strengthened by the feeding upon the Word of God. A strong “spirit” man has a perspective that counters circumstances and the emotions of the soul. In reality a strong “spirit” man has the ability to see situations from God’s perspective. The Psalmist is conditioned and makes his living praising the Lord. There is no room for a fair weather friend type of Christianity. God is not honoured when we live on top of the world one day only to sink into the depths of despair the next. There will be twists and turns, ups and downs in our walk but we must seek the Lord’s grace to be consistent at all times. This is why the Psalmist has the ability to bless the Lord with his soul at all times.
We are not to put our trust in man when going through a time of difficulty. The help we seek from man may seem logical and proper but God must always be our source of help. God does use man in assisting His people but He must be the initiator otherwise we will tend to look to man to solve other problems and needs as well. In verses 5-6 we see that God is faithful and true to those who place their trust in Him. Let us never take God and His presence for granted. He made the heavens and the earth and He is a God who keepeth truth forever. Once again we have to ask the question as to whether we love truth. If so, we too can see fulfilments of the above stated promises. The Lord opened the eyes of the blind in the natural during His earthly ministry (John 9, Math 9:23-28). There is yet another blindness that God is opening up in our day and that is Truth from his Word. When a person is in the grip of sin he becomes blinded to many things. The Word of God brings light into darkness; it enlightens the inner being of man as he acknowledges sin while experiencing God’s forgiveness and grace. The Word of God becomes a light unto the path of a believer.
The tender heart of God is expressed to the fatherless and widows. This is the pure religion that James speaks of in Jam 1:27. We draw His favour and interest when we reach out in a similar way to those who are in need. As a church and as individuals we want to always have the interest of the poor in our hearts. In reaching out to them we are reaching out to the Lord (Math 25). The psalmist closes by looking forward to the Lord’s reign in the millennium. David had already reigned in Zion many years before but the spiritual significance is brought to light. He looks forward to that time when the Lord Jesus Christ reigns in Zion during the millennium. Zion is God’s desired dwelling place, the place He has chosen above all others. This Psalmist had Zion in his heart; he could sing the praises of Zion while understanding its cost and privilege. His “spirit man” could command his soul, even while going through trouble. This is the essence of a “spiritual man” and it’s on full display in this Psalm.
Paul now gets to the meat of the message in his writing to the Colossian church. The primary theme of this letter focuses on the subject of holiness. Paul has addressed many of the teachings that were posing a threat to the growth of the church. He countered these heresies by presenting Christ as the only begotten Son of God, co-creator of the world and the one who went to the Cross to ultimately spoil and destroy the works of the enemy. He then spoke as to the power of what Jesus accomplished at the Cross whereby men now having opportunity in coming into the position of holiness (Col 1:22). Paul is now going to build on that theme in chapter 3. One of the first keys in developing a strong Christ-like life is to have a mind that is set on the things above. Our thought life will ultimately govern our actions. Paul spoke to this point when writing to the Philippian church (Phil 4:8). It takes discipline in today’s world to effectively have a mind that is continually Christ-centred.
One of the keys that can help in this process is to take stock whom we associate with. One can learn much about a person by gauging who they like spending time with. I learned this first-hand after my born again experience. I started going back to old friends thinking that my new life would have a positive effect upon them. The reverse happened as I slowly drew back to my old way of life prior to knowing Christ.
Holiness is achievable by the grace of God but it requires a discipline and committed approach. Paul mentions 5 things in verse 5 that are to be mortified (put to death) as we grow in relationship with him. These are strongholds that require the grace of God in order for them to be rooted out of our lives. The life flow of these enemies must be cut-off much like the working of a tourniquet which is used to stop the flowing of blood. If these sources are allowed to live they can eventually become strongholds that result in the wrath of God being poured out. The children of Israel are an example of what happens when idolatry is not addressed. The violating of the 1st commandment eventually became a stronghold that led them to Babylon. Balaam is yet another example of one who yielded to fleshly lusts resulting in great damage being done to Israel of the Old Testament and the church of the last days (Rev 2:14). Let us seek to emulate people like Job who made a covenant with his eyes to not look upon a maid. He made a disciplined decision to stop any potential threat of a moral issue by preventing its entrance through the portal of the eye. This is the part we can play in helping to put to death these damaging strongholds.
In verses 8-9 Paul speaks about things that we can put off from our lives like anger, wrath and evil communication. Do we have struggles with anger from time to time? Do we have a tendency to speak ill of people or always looking to fault find? It is healthy to do a personal assessment in these areas and ask God to help in having them “put off” or removed. Paul speaks to the first part of the definition of holiness in verses 5-8. Do we remember our definition? Holiness is the separation from the world, the flesh and the devil. We earlier used Daniel as an example as one who determined to not allow his heart be defiled by the worldly delights of the kings table (Dan 1:8). This takes great discipline especially when surrounded by an environment that runs contrary to kingdom values.
In verses 5-8 Paul is challenging the Colossian church to put to death and to separate from those things that contaminate the spirit; those things that stand in the pathway to holiness. We cannot do it in our own strength however there is grace available in our committing to that path. The second part of our definition on holiness is a separation unto God. Paul now picks up on this point by speaking on 10 different garments or attributes of God that we are to “put on”. These 10 garments are mentioned in verses 10-15. Each of the garments mentioned can have its own commentary; it is worthy of study and meditating upon. It begins with the mercies of God in verse 12 and it ends with thankfulness in verse 15. These garments can be applied in a daily devotional walk with God. The more we spend time in His presence and in His Word the more these qualities begin to apprehend us. This goes along with Paul’s earlier exhortation in being a people who have a mind upon heavenly things. This is how the inner man becomes strengthened; it is the means by which man can become holy and more like Christ. The power of the Cross is not only the forgiveness of man’s sin and his being reconciled unto God; it is the power by which all men have the potential in being presented holy before God. It is a daily dying to the flesh and carnal nature of man so that the life and power of God can be made manifest within. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is that same Spirit that can quicken our mortal bodies while cultivating the fruits of righteousness and holiness in His likeness. If we see Jesus on the Cross as only accomplishing the salvation of mankind we are actually cheapening and understating all that Jesus fulfilled. This is the heart of what Paul is looking to bring across to the Colossian church; it needs to be heard in our churches today.
Paul will now be giving some additional instructions as to how this life of holiness can be applied in practical ways. He took a similar approach in his other writings. He gives instruction as to how husbands and wives are to relate to one another (vs 18-19). He then gives instruction to the children as to how they are to relate to their parents. There are some instructions given to the parents in how they are to nurture their children with emphasis in not provoking them to anger. This is important because parents need to know their children’s physical and emotional capacities. In today’s world the standards are so high that in many cultures kids never have the experience of being kids. Please understand that I am not condoning rude or rebellious behaviour of children. There is so much pressure being placed on children for them to succeed. It is important to stress to them to do the best that they can but within boundaries. Children need to be affirmed, they need to know that they are loved and they need to experience loving discipline. They are not to be coddled or put into situations where the expectations upon them are unreasonable. The Lord loves children and He has a love for child-like qualities and innocence. As parents we must seek the Lord’s help in both loving and challenging our children to be all that they can be. It requires wisdom. Paul’s final instruction in this chapter is then given to servants. A modern day application can be how we serve our bosses or employers. The attitude we convey in our work and service is an attitude that is ultimately conveyed to God. We must never underestimate the privilege and blessing of having a servant’s heart.