PSALMS 147:1 – 148:14 and COLOSSIANS 4:1–18
The period of Restoration is reflected once again in another Psalm. Many suggest that this Psalm was written during the days of Nehemiah due to the linking of verse 2 with the genealogies seen in Neh 7:5. There are further references in Neh 12:27-43 which reflects the primary themes from this Psalm. The praises of the Lord expressed in verse 1 is that which brings pleasure to the Lord. There are similarities to the praises seen in Psalm 33. Such praise can even result in the Lord singing in the midst of His people (Zeph 3:17). This is a picture of worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). This kind of praise is costly but it is recognition of the One who is worthy to be praised.
We see the ministry of Restoration at work in verse 3. This is one of the primary attributes of God that will be on display in the last days. You see the 3 categories of Restoration in Luke 15. (The lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son) Restoration is the final theme expressed in the Old Testament as seen in the ministry of Elijah (Mal 4:4-6). God specializes in taking something that is broken and refashioning it into something even more beautiful. In today’s world there are many people who are hurting with all kinds of needs. The world’s response and answer to try and compensate and cover hurts comes via entertainment, off boundary relationships, drugs, drink and scores of other cultural sedatives. It does not work and the cover-up can only hold for so long. The ministry of reconciliation and restoration needs to be one of the primary ministries of the church today. In order for this to be a reality we need to first experience its message. May the oil and the wine be poured out in abundance in this hour.
The greatness of God’s creation is shown forth in verse 4-5 as the number of stars in the sky are contemplated. Scientists estimate that the stars’ number in the billions and each of them has a name. The power of the Lord and the breadth of His understanding is infinite and cannot be measured. How great is our God? If he can number and name the stars while having power and understanding that is limitless then how much more is His concern for us? Can we even begin to know the measure of love and interest He has for each of our lives? This is what is capturing the attention of the Psalmist.
The contrast between meekness and pride is contrasted in verse 6. What does it say about the meek? They shall inherit the earth as seen in Math 5:5. This is one of the fruits of a Babylonian experience. The fruit of meekness is produced at a great cost but when weighed in a proper balance it is a great treasure.
In verses 7-11 the Psalmist breaks forth in song for the way He has created the earth and for the way He provides for all of His creation. What then is it that pleases the Lord? He rejoices over those who walk in the Fear of the Lord and Hope in his mercy. It is not our exploits but rather the attitude and the way that we live out our lives that is acceptable to the Lord. Our works and exploits should only be an outworking and expression of a life committed to serving and honouring God.
The Praise to God continues in verses 12-14 as the Psalmist reflects on God’s blessing to the earlier restorers. The initial restorers had just come forth from a captive environment. The prosperity they came to know was in steep contrast to their previous captivity. There was also the best of wheat which speaks of the truths from God’s Word. This thought is reflected in Jer 31:12.
“Therefore shall they come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.”
The execution of God’s Word and commandment is highlighted in verses 15-18. The God who created the heavens and the earth by His Word is the same God that accomplishes His pleasure through His spoken Word. Can we appreciate the power that can come to the church if it comes to place of knowing the heart of God and speaking forth the things that God is speaking? This is what Paul was referring to in Rom 10:8-10, 17. The Psalmist is not just speaking of these things he is singing of them. The song of the Lord needs to come to the church. It is not just any song but it is a congregation and a people who are singing that which is upon the heart of God under the anointing and direction of the Holy Spirit. This is the kind of praise we need and long for today.
As our journey through the Psalms comes to a conclusion we see a heightened atmosphere of praise and worship being expressed to the Lord. This picture of enhanced praise and worship is captured throughout the Book of Revelation signifying its significance throughout eternity. In this Psalm we see heaven being instructed to praise the Lord in verses 1-6. The command to Praise the Lord begins with the highest ranking angelic hosts and transcends down amongst the ranks. It was Lucifer, who had the highest rank in heaven as the leader of worship until iniquity came forth. In verse 3 the sun, moon and stars are commanded to Praise the Lord. It is the heavens and their splendour that declares the glory of the Lord. In verses 4-6 we even see the weather systems honouring and glorifying God. The stars, moon, sun, water and the weather have an appointed course that honours God and declares his handiwork. The adverse weather such as hurricanes, or movements of the earth like earthquakes or celestial concerns could reflect the consequences of the fall (Isa 24:5, 19-20). These verses give insights as to what happens to the earth when God’s laws and ordinances are not kept. There is so much concern about climate change today and rightfully so; the problem is that the root cause is not being addressed which is sin. When God’s laws are violated the earth experiences its repercussions.
In verses 7-12 the earth and its creatures are commanded to praise the Lord. All the sea creatures (vs 7) and the judgments which are seen in the fire, hail and snow which is a fulfilment of what will be seen in Revelation are also called to give praise to the Lord (Rev 14:7). The mountains, fruitful trees, beasts and cattle are also commanded to Praise the Lord. When God created the heavens and earth He took stock and saw that it was very good (Gen 1:31).
“All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord, and thy saints shall bless thee. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power.” (Psa 145:10-11)
The kings, princes and people are all commanded to Praise the Lord which is a picture of what Paul writes to the Philippian church.
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:10-11)
Everything is culminating to a glorious crescendo of Praise and Worship to the King of Kings; not just the men of the earth but all of creation. May our lives prove to be an instrument of praise and blessing to the Lord.
Paul continues to instruct on practical matters that helps to reflect a life of holiness. Chapter 4 begins in how a master is to relate to his servants. The standard is God Himself as our master and Lord. This is helpful in properly evaluating how we treat those who are under us. Do we want the Lord to treat us adversely if we are doing the same to others? This is the standard of heaven. This truth is applicable to those who are employers with their employees or even how a maid or house servant is treated. Throughout history there has been great abuse in these kind of relationships. As a leader or one who has the responsibility of being over people we must take this responsibility seriously. One of the final exhortations of David to leaders was that men needed to rule justly. The familiar verse from Micah reinforces this truth. “…to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with thy God.” (Mic 6:8)
The standard of praying, being vigilant and thankful is reinforced by Paul. This is not a part time endeavour but something that needs to be exercised daily. Paul is setting a high benchmark for the Colossian church. If holiness is the goal then these essentials need to be applied. Paul then requests prayer that God would open further doors for him. Let’s not forget that Paul is writing this from a prison yet he still seeks opportunity to minister. What an attitude to have; seeking to avail any opportunity that may come his way. Paul did not make excuses he made every excuse to minister. It is a big difference of attitude and approach. It is a mind-set we all need to adopt. In verse 5 we see Paul referencing one of the primary messages from Moses. He sought the Lord to help him have his days numbered so that he would live out his time in wisdom; making the most of that precious commodity of time (Psa 90:12). Paul is essentially sharing the same truth here. He then speaks of the importance of the words that we speak. Our words can make or break situations seeing that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Pro 18:21). The tribe of Naphtali was cited for the goodly words that they gave (Gen 49:19). This is a wonderful quality to have. I am not saying we should speak flattering words but rather words that edify. When one flatters he does so with a motive, to gain something from the one he is speaking well of. One who edifies does so for the sole benefit of that person without seeking anything in return. It is putting others interest before their own.
Paul then gives commendation to several brethren who have helped him and who can be a blessing to the church (vs 7-15). Named among them is Epaphras, who was the founder of the church. He also mentions Demas in verse 14 who was a faithful worker for the kingdom at that time. Paul will refer to Demas in his last letter where he indicates his turning aside due to his love for the things of the world (2 Tim 4:10). He is a clear example of one who falls into the category of the seed sown amongst thorns in the parable of the sower. It is tragic and it is something we should ponder upon so that we shall not fail in the end. It is how we finish that truly matters.
Paul then encourages the church to share this message with the church at Laodicea and to have their letter read to them (vs 16). Paul had specific issues that he addressed to the respective churches but they were messages that all churches could benefit from. You can see similarities in his letters but you also see very specific issues that he brought to individual churches. One can understand how the church of Laodicea would benefit from the theme of holiness that Paul presented to the Colossians. Let us appreciate the unique anointing that was upon the Apostle Paul. He had concerns from several false teachings that were permeating the region. He used this as an opportunity to present Christ and His message of holiness through his clarifying on these doctrines. One can only do this if he has the Word working deep within. The Lord Himself ministered in the same way. This epistle needs to be read and studied through modern day lenses because it is needed. We owe a huge debt to the Apostle Paul for his dedicated ministry to the Lord and to the church. He closes by stating “remember my bonds”. We remember and celebrate his bonds because we are beneficiaries of his suffering. May the Lord help us to honor his life by learning and applying the message of holiness as seen through this epistle.