For We Are God’s Creation A Masterpiece

VERSE OF THE DAY

Ephesians 2:10 (New Living Translation)

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For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

We are the art of God his temple and masterpiece. He has made us new in his image for us to we can work for good in his plan he planned for us long before we were in our mother’s womb

Ephesians 2:10 Meaning of We Are God’s Workmanship

Jul 15, 2020 by Editor in Chief

Ephesians 2:10
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Explanation and Commentary of Ephesians 2:10

This powerful verse shows the interplay between our good and free will to do things, especially good things, and the role God plays behind our will. We are created by God, for God, and in God. We are created for the purpose of action. The action we should take is the action that God had in mind for us to take when he designed and built us. When we are embarking on a good work, it will certainly be an act of will, but we should pray for God’s blessing in it and that it is what he wants us to do. That is, it aligns with not only his ways and his Word, but that it is one of the things written for us to do. When we have done the good work, we should then thank God in heaven that we were able to accomplish it, not only that we were successful, but that we had the energy to attempt it in the first place.

We are not saved by “good works.” We are saved by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins. We are saved by his good work before we are called to our own good works. This life is a free gift by grace from God is both just and the justifier (Ro 3:26) of those who will be saved. But this does not mean that we are not called to do good works in Christ. Indeed we are called to it and we will be rewarded, sometimes in this life, but certainly in the next (Mt 25:21).

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Ephesians 2:10

#1 “For…”
This comes as a result of what was stated in verse 8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” The good works he is about to tell us we are saved for, are not what we are saved by.

#2 “…we are God’s handiwork, created…”
God made us fearfully and wonderfully (Ps 139:14) according to his design for us. He is an expert craftsman who makes no mistakes of design or build.

#3 “…in Christ Jesus…”
This was the case at our creation. Christ was there at the beginning. Through him, all things were made, and in him was life (Jn 1:3,4). But not only that, when we were made new, that is, by the Holy Spirit and our regeneration in Christ we were created anew, new creations (2 Cor 5:17). This is only accomplished in Christ, in his finished work.

#4 “…to do good works,”
We don’t just pray a prayer and wait to die so we can go to heaven. We are saved for a purpose. Jesus came to restore what was lost in the garden. This means that we will now, as new creations, saved by Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit, be able to function as man was intended to function; as a thinking, reasoning, living, being, pursuing life for the glory of God and doing the good things he calls us to for the good of the world, the sake of his glory, and expansion of his kingdom. This has nothing to do with earning salvation, which was given freely, but is part of the privilege of the life eternal and being bearers of the divine image.

#5 “which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
This speaks to the mysterious interplay between our free will and his sovereignty.

What Does Ephesians 2:10 Mean? ►

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

We are God’s masterpiece, God’s workmanship, God’s handiwork, God’s creatures – we are God’s new creation in Christ Jesus. We were born spiritually dead in our sins. In God’s eyes, we were a rotting corpse, the putrefying remains of a fallen creation with no beauty that God should desire us; with no hope, help, comfort, or peace in the world.

We were products of a fallen creation, estranged from our Creator, and antagonistic towards our God, with all the carnal lusts and aspiration of fallen humanity, and under the power of this world system – slaves to Satan.

But being so rich in mercy, in His gracious loving-kindness, God loved us, and even though we were in the pitiable state of death because of our sins, He gave us life in Christ. Our present condition is irredeemable, for a fallen creature can never change, but when He raised Christ from the dead, God exchanged our old life in Adam for our new life in Christ, for when HE died WE died and when Christ was risen, we too were raised from our state of death into newness of life.

We must never forget that it is only by God’s grace that we have been saved. It is only by God’s grace that we have salvation and we access that salvation through faith. For by grace we are saved, through faith, and not of ourselves, lest we boast, for salvation is a gift of God’s grace.

But we have not been raised to newness of life for no purpose. We are God’s masterpiece, made in Christ Jesus in order that we may be able to perform the good acts and good works, which God prepared for us to do before we were even born.

These actions and works cannot be performed by the old putrefying person we were before salvation (the old man which was governed by the old sin nature).

These actions and works can only be carried out through our new abundant life in Christ, which is to be governed and guided by the Holy Spirit working in and through us, so that the works that I do are not of me (my old self), but my new nature in Him.

How wonderful that we truly are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

My Prayer

Loving Father, praise Your wonderful name that I am Your handiwork. Thank You that I was not saved by good works, but by grace through faith in Jesus. But thank You that I was saved unto good works, and so I pray my life would be lived to serve You wholeheartedly in the works You have prepared for me to do, to Your praise and glory. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Source: https://dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com/ephesians-2-10

Ephesians Chapter 2

Ephesians 2 – God’s Way of Reconciliation

A. The need for reconciliation.

1. (1) Christians are alive from the dead.

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,

a. And you He made alive: The words He made alive are in italics, which indicates that they are added to the text but implied from the context. Paul wrote to believers who were made alive by God’s work.

i. Paul ended the last chapter by considering that the ultimate example of God’s power was the resurrection of Jesus. Now Paul considers what the implications of Jesus’ resurrection power are for our life.

b. Who were dead in trespasses and sins: Though Christians are now alive, they must never forget where they came from. They were dead in trespasses and sins.

i. There are many kinds of life: vegetable life, animal life, mental life, moral life, and spiritual life. A being might be alive in one sense but dead in another. To be spiritually dead does not mean that we are physically dead, socially dead, or psychologically dead. Yet it is a real death, a “dead death” nonetheless. “The most vital part of man’s personality – the spirit – is dead to the most important factor in life – God.” (Wood) “Not in a moral sense, nor a mental sense, but in a spiritual sense, poor humanity is dead, and so the word of God again and again most positively describes it.” (Spurgeon)

ii. This touches on one of the most controversial areas in theology – in what manner, and to what extent, is a person dead before conversion? Must a person be converted before he can believe, or can there be a prior work of God to instill faith that is still short of conversion? Those who argue that man must be regenerated before he can believe like to say that a dead man cannot believe. This takes this particular description further than intended, to say that unredeemed man is exactly like a dead man, because a dead man also cannot sin.

iii. We err if we think that dead in trespasses and sins says everything about man’s lost condition. It is an err because the Bible uses many different pictures to describe the state of the unsaved man, saying he is:

· Blind (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

· A slave to sin (Romans 6:17).

· A lover of darkness (John 3:19-20).

· Sick (Mark 2:17).

· Lost (Luke 15).

· An alien, a stranger, a foreigner (Ephesians 2:12, 2:19).

· A child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).

· Under the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13).

iv. Therefore, in some ways the unregenerate man is dead; in other ways he is not. Therefore, it is valid to appeal to all men to believe. We need not look for evidence of regeneration before we tell men to believe and be saved. As the Puritan John Trapp wrote, “Howbeit, the natural man, though he be theologically dead, yet is ethically alive, being to be wrought upon by arguments; hence Hosea 11:4, ‘I drew them by the cords of a man,’ that is, by reason and motives of love, befitting the nature of a man. So the Spirit and Word work upon us still as men by rational motives, setting before us life and good, death and evil.”

c. In trespasses and sins: The idea behind the word trespasses is that we have crossed a line, challenging God’s boundaries. The idea behind the word sins is that we have missed a mark, the perfect standards of God.

i. Trespasses speaks of man as a rebel, sins speaks of man as a failure. “Before God we are both rebels and failures.” (Stott)

2. (2-3) The life of death.

In which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

a. In which you once walked: At one time we lived in trespasses and sins, according to the course of this world, which is orchestrated by Satan. Satan (the prince of the power of the air) is still very much active among those in rebellion against God – the sons of disobedience.

b. You once walked: The self that once walked was the old man, now crucified with Jesus at the time of conversion. The sin nature inherited from Adam influenced the old man, but the world system and Satan do also. One might say that the influence of the old man lives on in what the New Testament calls the flesh.

i. Once walked means it should be different for those who are made alive by Jesus Christ. A dead man feels comfortable in his coffin; but if he were to be made alive again, he would instantly feel suffocated and uncomfortable. There would be a strong urge to escape the coffin and leave it behind. In the same way, when we were spiritually dead we felt comfortable in trespasses and sins; but having come to new life we feel we must escape that coffin and leave it behind.

c. Who now works in the sons of disobedience: In sin we respond to Satan’s “guidance.” The same ancient Greek verb is used in Ephesians 2:2 for the work of Satan in unbelievers as is used in Ephesians 3:20 for the power of God that works in believers.

d. The prince of the power of the air: This unique title for Satan speaks of his authority (prince) and his realm (the air, a way of referring to Satan’s “environment”).

i. “The domain of the air, in fact, is another way of indicating the heavenly realm, which, according to Ephesians 6:12, is the abode of those principalities and powers, world-rulers of this darkness and spiritual forces of wickedness against which the people of Christ wage war.” (Bruce)

ii. Satan is not the ultimate ruler, but he is a prince in the sense that “Evil men set him up for their sovereign, and are wholly at his beck and obedience.” (Trapp)

e. We all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh: We once were among the sons of disobedience, proven by our conduct. We embraced the lusts of the flesh, which are primarily perversions of the legitimate desires of human nature.

i. “The converts are to be reminded what they have been delivered from, as well as what they have been lifted into. They must be led to look down again into the pit, into the grave, from which grace called them out and set them free.” (Moule)

f. And were by nature children of wrath: Because of our surrender to the old man, the world, and the devil, we were by nature children of wrath. We rightfully deserved God’s wrath, and deserved it because of who we were by our heritage.

i. The Bible knows nothing of the idea that all men are “children of God,” except in the sense that He is our common creator (Acts 17:28). Here Paul says that there is a “family” of wrath that has its children, and Jesus called the Pharisees “a family of snakes” (brood of vipers in Matthew 3:7, 12:34, and 23:33) and said that their father was the Devil (John 8:44).

B. The process of personal reconciliation to God.

1. (4) God’s motive in reconciliation.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

a. But God… because of His great love: With but and because, Paul explained God’s reason behind reconciling man to Himself, and these reasons are found totally in God. The reasons are His rich mercy and His great love, which He focuses on us.

i. “As they were corrupt in their nature, and sinful in their practice, they could possess no merit, nor have any claim upon God; and it required much mercy to remove so much misery, and to pardon such transgressions.” (Clarke)

b. With which He loved us: We might imagine a God of rich mercy and great love who did not focus that mercy and love upon us. But behind the good news of God’s salvation offered in Jesus is the fact that this mercy and love is extended to us.

c. His great love with which He loved us: Some warp the idea of God’s great mercy and love into something that justifies our pride. Some imagine that God loves us because we are so lovable. Instead, God’s love is so great that it extends even to the unlovely – to the children of wrath mentioned in the previous verse.

i. Every reason for God’s mercy and love is found in Him. We give Him no reason to love us, yet in the greatness of His love, He loves us with that great love anyway.

ii. Therefore, we must stop trying to make ourselves lovable to God, and simply receive His great love while recognizing that we are unworthy of it. This is the grace secret of the Christian life.

2. (5-7) The past, present, and future of God’s work of individual reconciliation.

Even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

a. When we were dead: This is when God started loving us. He did not wait until we were lovable. He loved us even when we were dead in trespasses, providing nothing lovable to Him.

i. This is the requirement for being saved. You must first be dead, dead to every attempt to justify yourself before God. He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me… has passed from death into life (John 5:24).

b. Made us alive together with Christ: This is what God did to those who were dead in sin. He shared in our death so that we could share in His resurrection life. The old man is crucified and we are new creations in Jesus with the old things passing away and all things becoming new.

i. By grace you have been saved: Paul is compelled to add here that this is the work of God’s grace, in no way involving man’s merit. Our salvation – our rescue – from spiritual death is God’s work done for the undeserving.

c. Sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus: This is the present position of the Christian. We have a new place for living, a new arena of existence – we are not those who dwell on the earth (as Revelation often calls them), but our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

i. We don’t sit in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus, or at least not yet. Instead, we sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Since our life and identity is in Christ, as He sits in heavenly places, so do we.

ii. “And now we sit in heavenly places – we have a right to the kingdom of God, anticipate this glory, and are indescribably happy in the possession of this salvation, and in our fellowship with Christ Jesus.” (Clarke)

d. In the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace: In the future, God will continue to show the exceeding riches of His grace to us. God will never stop dealing with us on the basis of grace, and will forever continue to unfold its riches to us through eternity.

i. He might show: “The original implies, that the exhibition is for His own purpose, for his own glory.” (Alford) This work in us reflects infinitely more on the glory of God than on our own glory, and God will use His work in the Church to display His glory throughout the ages.

ii. “From this verse it is clear that Paul fully expected the gospel of the grace of God to be preached in the ages to come. He had no notion of a temporary gospel to develop into a better, but he was assured that the same gospel would be preached to the end of the dispensation. Nor this alone; for as I take it, he looked to the perpetuity of the gospel, not only through the ages which have already elapsed since the first advent of our blessed Lord, but throughout the ages after he shall have come a second time. Eternity itself will not improve upon the gospel.” (Spurgeon)

iii. “When all the saints shall be gathered home they shall still talk and speak of the wonders of Jehovah’s love in Christ Jesus, and in the golden streets they shall stand up and tell what the Lord has done for them to listening crowds of angels, and principalities, and powers.” (Spurgeon)

iv. The exceeding riches of His grace: “So is it with the grace of God: he has as much grace as you want, and he has a great deal more than that. The Lord has as much grace as a whole universe will require, but he has vastly more. He overflows: all the demands that can ever be made on the grace of God will never impoverish him, or even diminish his store of mercy; there will remain an incalculably precious mine of mercy as full as when he first began to bless the sons of men.” (Spurgeon)

v. One way to see the greatness of the grace of God is to see how He begs man to receive it. When we offer a gift to someone and they refuse it, we are likely to allow them to refuse and leave them alone. God does not do this with us; even when we refuse His mercy He reaches into His storehouse of grace and persists with us, begging us to receive the free gift.

3. (8-10) A summing up of God’s work of individual reconciliation.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

a. For by grace you have been saved: Paul cannot speak of this glorious work God does without reminding us that it is a gift of grace, given to the undeserving. We are not even saved by our faith (though faith itself is not a work), but by grace through faith.

i. We can think of water flowing through a hose. The water is the important part, but it is communicated through the hose. The hose does not quench your thirst; the water does. But the hose brings water to the place you can benefit from it.

ii. “The precise form of words here stresses two things. As consistently emphasized by Paul, it is entirely of His grace, His free, undeserved favour to mankind. Then also this salvation is presented as an accomplished fact.” (Foulkes)

b. And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: The work of salvation is God’s gift. Paul’s grammar here indicates that the words apply to the gift of salvation mentioned in Ephesians 2:4-8, and not directly to the faith mentioned in this verse.

i. Clarke emphatically states that the original Greek is clear in noting that when it says it is the gift of God, the it referred to is salvation, not faith. The great Greek scholar Dean Alford also clearly pointed out that the this not of yourselves referred to salvation, not to faith in this passage.

ii. Yet, even our faith is a gift of God. We cannot believe in Jesus unless God does a prior work in us, for we are blinded by our own deadness and by the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4).

iii. “But it may be asked: Is not faith the gift of God? Yes, as to the grace by which it is produced; but the grace or power to believe, and the act of believing, are two different things. Without the grace or power to believe no man ever did or can believe; but with that power the act of faith is a man’s own. God never believes for any man, no more than he repents for him; the penitent, through this grace enabling him, believes for himself.” (Clarke)

iv. This shows us the essential place of prayer in evangelism. Since God initiates salvation, we should begin our evangelism with asking God to do the initiating, and granting the ability to believe to those we want to see saved.

c. Not of works, lest anyone should boast: God did it not of works simply so that no one could boast. If salvation was the accomplishment of man in any way, we could boast about it. But under God’s plan of salvation, God alone receives the glory.

i. “I thought Napoleon did a good thing, when, on the day of his coronation, he took his crown, and put it on his own head. Why should he not take the symbol that was his due? And if you get to heaven, one half by grace and one half by works, you will say, ‘Atonement profited me a little, but integrity profited me much more.’ ” (Spurgeon)

d. For we are His workmanship: God saves us not merely to save us from the wrath we rightly deserve, but also to make something beautiful of us. We are His workmanship, which translates the ancient Greek word poiema. The idea is that we are His beautiful poem. The Jerusalem Bible translates workmanship as “work of art.”

i. God’s love is a transforming love. It meets us right where we are at, but when we receive this love it always takes us where we should be going. The love of God that saves my soul will also change my life.

ii. We are His workmanship, His creation – something new He has made of us in Jesus Christ. “The spiritual life cannot come to us by development from our old nature. I have heard a great deal about evolution and development, but I am afraid that if any one of us were to be developed to our utmost, apart from the grace of God, we should come out worse than before the development began.” (Spurgeon)

iii. “Our new life is as truly created out of nothing as were the first heavens, and the first earth. This ought to be particularly noticed, for there are some who think that the grace of God improves the old nature into the new. It does nothing of the sort.” (Spurgeon)

e. Created in Christ Jesus for good works: That beautiful thing God is making of us is active in good works. These are just as much a part of God’s predestined plan as anything else is. These good works are valid evidence that someone is walking as one of God’s chosen.

i. “Works play no part at all in securing salvation. But afterwards Christians will prove their faith by their works. Here Paul shows himself at one with James.” (Wood)

C. The reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles in Jesus.

1. (11-12) The need for the reconciliation of Gentile and Jew.

Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh; who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands; that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

a. You, once Gentiles in the flesh: God’s work of reconciliation is not only between God and the individual, though it must begin there. It is also between groups of people that are at odds, such as Jews and Gentiles were in the days of Paul.

b. Who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision: Gentiles were in a desperate place, being aliens, strangers, having no hope and being without God. This shows that they were not only spiritually dead, but they also did not have the access to God that the Jews enjoyed.

i. Before coming to Jesus, Gentiles were “Christless, stateless, friendless, hopeless and Godless.” (Stott quoting Hendriksen)

ii. Having no hope: “The absence of hope in the face of death is amply attested in the literature and epigraphy of the Gaeco-Roman world of that day.” (Bruce)

iii. Without God in the world: Some people believe in God, but they believe He lives in heaven and has nothing to do with this world. In that way, a person can still believe in God and be without God in the world.

c. Without Christ: These are terrible words, and the implications of them are the sum of the woeful condition of the lost man or woman. To be without Christ means to be:

· Without spiritual blessings.

· Without light.

· Without peace.

· Without rest.

· Without safety.

· Without hope.

· Without a Prophet, Priest, or King.

i. “Without Christ! If this be the description of some of you, we need not talk to you about the fires of hell; let this be enough to startle you, that you are in such a desperate state as to be without Christ. Oh! What terrible evils lie clustering thick within these two words!” (Spurgeon)

d. Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel: This likely includes separated Jews as well as Gentiles. “For there were also Israelites who were outside the commonwealth, not only as foreigners but as lax Jews, and lost their part in the covenants, not as foreigners, but as unworthy.” (Alford)

2. (13) Gentiles brought near to God.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

a. But now in Christ Jesus: Those Gentiles who are now in Christ Jesus are no longer far off. They are made near to the things of God, and the blood of Christ accomplishes this, by His sacrificial death.

i. This coming near happens only by the blood of Christ. Gentiles who are not in Christ Jesus are just as far off as they ever were. This reconciliation only happens in Jesus.

ii. It is important that Paul connects the ideas of the great love of Jesus and His sacrificial death. Many people think that preaching Christ crucified is all about a bloody, gory Jesus. But the point of Christ crucified is not gore, but love. Preaching Christ crucified means we preach Jesus full of love – sacrificial, giving, saving love.

b. By the blood of Christ: Many people suggest different ways to come near to God. Some think you can come by keeping the law or by belonging to a group (such as Israel or even the church). But the only way to be brought near to God is by the blood of Christ. What Jesus did on the cross, suffering as a guilty sinner in the place of guilty sinners, brings us near to God.

3. (14-16) Jew and Gentile brought together in the Church.

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

a. For He Himself is our peace: Jesus Himself is our peace; He hasn’t simply made peace between God and man and Jew and Gentile; He is our peace.

b. Who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation: The work of Jesus on the cross is the common ground of salvation for both Jew and Gentile. Therefore, there is no longer any dividing wall between Jew and Gentile. Jesus broke that wall down.

i. In the temple, in between the court of the Gentiles and the court of the women, there was a physical barrier, an actual wall of separation between Jew and Gentile.

ii. Paul was, at the time of this writing, under house arrest in Rome, awaiting trial because he was falsely accused by the Jews of taking a Gentile into the temple past the literal wall of separation dividing Jew and Gentile. Paul made it clear that in Jesus, the wall is gone.

iii. The wall of separation is gone because the common Lordship is greater than any previous division. If the Lordship of Jesus Christ is not greater than any difference you have with others – be it political, racial, economic, language, geography or whatever, then you have not fully understood what it means to be under the Lordship of Jesus.

c. Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances: The source of contention between Jew and Gentile was the fact that the Gentiles did not keep the law. But since Jesus fulfilled the law on our behalf, and since He bore the penalty for our failure to keep the law, we are reconciled through His work on the cross – putting to death the source of contention.

i. “The enmity of which the apostle speaks was reciprocal among the Jews and Gentiles. The former detested the Gentiles, and could hardly allow them the denomination of men; the latter had the Jews in the most sovereign contempt, because of the peculiarity of their religious rites and ceremonies, which were different from those of all the other nations of the earth.” (Clarke)

ii. “And the separation was intensified and emphasized by those institutions which were, in part, designed to isolate Israel from the world, until the fit time for the wider blessing. And He ‘annulled’ them by fulfilling them, in His sacrificial work; thus at once reconciling man to God and man to man.” (Moule)

iii. The law as a source of righteousness is no longer an issue. That source of enmity between Jew and Gentile is dead.

d. That He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross: Gentiles and Jews are brought together into one body, the Church, where our unity in Jesus is far greater than our previous differences.

i. So as to create in Himself one new man from the two: Early Christians called themselves a “third race” or a “new race.” Early Christians recognized that they were not Jews, not Gentiles, but one new man embracing all who are in Jesus.

ii. “As Chrysostom explained, it is not that Christ has brought one up to the level of the other, but that he has produced a greater: ‘as if one should melt down one statue of silver and another of lead, and the two together should come out gold.’ ” (Wood)

e. Through the cross: We see the emphasis Paul places on the work of Jesus on the cross. He repeats the idea several times: made near by the blood… having abolished in His flesh the enmity… in one body through the cross. This unity didn’t just happen, it was the hard-fought accomplishment of Jesus.

i. This means that Jesus’ prayer in John 17 (that they all may be one) wasn’t “just” a prayer. It was a prayer Jesus prayed knowing that His work of the cross would accomplish the answer, and a prayer He was willing to pray knowing that His agony would be used to answer.

ii. This bringing together of Jew and Gentile in Jesus is a partial fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose as stated in Ephesians 1:10: that… He might gather together in one all things in Christ. God uses the bringing together Jew and Gentile into the Church as a preview of His ultimate work of summing up all things into Jesus Christ. Since He can do this, He can also do that.

4. (17-18) How Jews and Gentiles are brought together.

And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

a. He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near: As they respond to the same gospel, the same peace that is preached to those afar off (Gentiles) and those near (Jews).

b. Through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father: They enjoy the same access to God, access that comes by one Spirit to the Father. Not only are Jews and Gentiles saved by the same gospel, but they also have the same essential walk with God and access to Him. One group does not have a greater access than the other does.

i. “Access is probably the best translation of prosagoge, though it could be ‘introduction.’ In oriental courts there was a prosagoges who brought a person into the presence of the king.” (Foulkes)

ii. When conflict arises among Christian groups of different backgrounds, you can be sure that they forget that they were saved by the same gospel and that they have the same access to God. One or both groups usually feel they have superior access to God.

iii. “This text is a plain proof of the holy Trinity. Jews and Gentiles are to be presented unto God the FATHER; the SPIRIT of God works in their hearts, and prepares them for this presentation; and JESUS CHRIST himself introduces them.” (Clarke)

5. (19-22) A picture of God’s work of reconciliation, both individual and among groups.

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

a. You are no longer strangers and foreigners: Paul refers to Christians of Gentile background. They should not regard themselves as “second-class citizens” in God’s kingdom in any regard. They are not only full citizens, but also full and equal members of God’s household.

b. Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets: Because we are one body and have the same access to God, it also follows that we are all built upon a common foundation. That foundation is the original apostles and prophets, and their enduring revelation, recorded in the New Testament. May no one ever lay any other foundation.

i. Though Chrysostom, Jerome, Calvin and others saw the prophets mentioned as Old Testament prophets, it is better to see them as New Testament prophets, perhaps New Testament authors who were not strictly members of the core apostolic group.

ii. “Those who ranked next to the Apostles in the government of the church… They were not in every case distinct from the Apostles: the apostleship probably always including the gift of prophecy: so that all the Apostles themselves might likewise have been prophets.” (Alford)

iii. In this sense of laying a foundation of supremely authoritative revelation for all God’s people, there are no more apostles or prophets today. The foundation is already set. In a lesser sense there may be apostles and prophets today, but not in the sense Paul means here.

c. Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone: This corner stone “literally means at the tip of the angle. It refers to the capstone or binding stone that holds the whole structure together… often the royal name was inscribed on it. In the East it was considered to be even more important than the foundation.” (Wood)

i. Salmond on corner stone: “It denotes the stone placed at the extreme corner, so as to bind the other stones in the building together – the most important stone in the structure, the one on which its stability depended.”

ii. “That structure and cohesion may have for its scaffolding the sacred order of the Church in her visible aspect. But the cement is not of these things; it is wholly divine; it is the Spirit, possessing each saint for God, and binding them all together by articulating them all to their Head.” (Moule)

d. In whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord: As we keep to our common foundation, the whole building of God’s people grows together in a beautiful way, as a holy temple where God dwells in beauty and glory.

i. This tells us that the Church is a building, perfectly designed by the Great Architect. It is not a haphazard pile of stones, randomly dumped in a field. God arranges the Church for His own glory and purposes.

ii. This tells us that the Church is a dwelling place, a place where God lives. It is never to be an empty house that is virtually a museum, with no one living inside. The Church is to be both the living place of God and His people.

iii. This tells us that the Church is a temple, holy and set apart to God. We serve there as priests, offering the spiritual sacrifices of our lips and hearts, our praises to God (Hebrews 13:15).

e. You also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit: When Solomon’s temple was built, the stones were prepared at a place far from the temple building site. It was said that you couldn’t hear the sound of a hammer or axe or other iron tools at the site (1 Kings 6:7). In the same way, God prepares us first, and then He fits us into His building.

i. “The Father makes choice of this house, the Son purchaseth it, the Holy Ghost taketh possession of it.” (Trapp)

ii. “And the everlasting FATHER will perfectly reveal Himself, to all the watchers of all the regions of the eternal world, not anyhow but thus – in His glorified Church, in the Race, the Nature, once wrecked and ruined, but rebuilt into this splendour by His grace.” (Moule)

iii. Adam Clarke explained how God’s work in the Church gave glory to the wisdom, power, and love of God. See all this, we should praise God for His glorious Church.

· There is nothing as noble as the Church, seeing that it is the temple of God.

· There is nothing so worthy of reverence, seeing God who dwells in it.

· There is nothing so ancient, since the patriarchs and prophets worked to building it.

· There is nothing so solid, since Jesus Christ is the foundation of it.

· There is nothing so high, since it reaches as high as to the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

· There is nothing so perfect and well proportioned, since the Holy Spirit is the architect.

· There is nothing more beautiful, because it is adorned with building stones of every age, every place, every people; from the highest kings to the lowest peasants; with the most brilliant scientists and the simplest believers.

· There is nothing more spacious, since it is spread over the whole earth, and takes in all who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

· There is nothing so Divine, since it is a living building, animated and inhabited by the Holy Spirit.

©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission

Categories: New Testament Paul’s Letters

Enduring Word

What does Ephesians 2:10 mean?

Ephesians 2:8–9 is an extremely popular passage of Scripture. Since those two verses are so often quoted, many miss out on verse 10 when seeking to understand God’s salvation by grace through faith. However, this important statement offers tremendous insight into what God desires after salvation. God calls us His workmanship or His artwork, from the Greek word poiēma. We are something crafted, with skill and a purpose, by God, for His purposes. Specifically, we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” Good works do not give us salvation, but they are absolutely meant to be the result of salvation.

Interestingly, God prepared what He wanted us to do for Him long ago. He has already planned what He wants us to do with our lives. We do not need to copy what someone else has done or is doing. He has a unique plan for each of us to serve Him in this world. This includes certain spiritual gifts and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to lead us in service to Him.

Context Summary

Ephesians 2:1–10 clearly explains the relationship between our lack of obedience, the grace of God, and our salvation. Those who are saved by Christ do not deserve this salvation. It is only by mercy, and by grace, that God chooses to forgive. In this section, Paul will repeat the claim that human effort has no impact on salvation whatsoever. No Christian can brag about their ”goodness,” since we are saved entirely by the grace of God, not by our own good deeds.

Chapter Summary

Paul repeatedly emphasizes that salvation is accomplished on the basis of grace, through faith. Good works, human effort, and our best intentions will never be enough to earn salvation. Every person is marked with sin, both deliberate and accidental, and for this reason we deserve to be separated from God. Only through His mercy and grace can we be saved, leaving no room for bragging. This also means that all who are saved, Jew and Gentile alike, are part of the same spiritual family. There is no cause for hostility between believers; we are all unworthy, and all saved by the same kindness of God

The Teaching Of Your Word Gives Light

VERSE OF THE DAY.

Psalm 119:130 (New Living Translation).

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The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand.

The teaching of your law and word gives hope and light to a silent path so that even the weak and simple can understand the law.

Psalm 119.

Psalm 119 – The Greatness and Glory of God’s Word.

This long psalm deserves a long introduction. The author is unnamed; older commentators almost universally said it is a psalm of David, composed throughout his entire life. More modern commentators sometimes conclude that it is post-exilic, coming from the days of Nehemiah or Ezra. It may be that David was the author, but we can’t say this with certainty, and it is not necessary to know; if it were important, God would have preserved the name of David to this psalm. No matter who the author was, it was likely written over some period of time and later compiled, because there is not a definite flow of thought from the beginning of the psalm to the end. The sections and verses are not like a chain, where one link is connected to the other, but like a string of pearls where each pearl has equal, but independent value.

Psalm 119 is arranged in an acrostic pattern. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and this psalm contains 22 units of 8 verses each. Each of the 22 sections is given a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and each line in that section begins with that letter. The closest parallel to this pattern in Scripture is found in Lamentations 3, which is also divided into 22 sections, and a few other passages in the Hebrew Scriptures use an acrostic pattern.

Since this is a psalm glorifying God and His word, it refers to Scripture over and over again. Psalm 119 is remarkable for how often it refers to God’s written revelation, His word. It is referred to in almost every verse. The Masoretes (a group of Jewish scholars between the 6th and 10th centuries AD) said that the word of God is mentioned in every verse except Psalm 119:122. Other people analyze this differently (with disagreement about Psalm 119:84, 90, 121, 132). But Scripture is mentioned in at least 171 of the 176 verses.

In this psalm there are eight basic words used to describe the Scriptures, God’s written revelation to us:.

* Law (torah, used 25 times in Psalm 119): “Its parent verb means ‘teach’ or ‘direct’; therefore coming from God it means both ‘law’ and ‘revelation.’ It can be used of a single command or of a whole body of law.” (Derek Kidner).

* Word (dabar, used 24 times): The idea is of the spoken word, God’s revealed word to man. “Proceeding from his mouth and revealed by him to us…” (Matthew Poole).

* Judgments (mispatim, used 23 times): “…from shaphat, to judge, determine, regulate, order, and discern, because they judge concerning our words and works; show the rules by which they should be regulated; and cause us to discern what is right and wrong, and decide accordingly.” (Adam Clarke).

* Testimonies (edut/edot, used 23 times): This word is related to the word for witness. To obey His testimonies “…signifies loyalty to the terms of the covenant made between the Lord and Israel.” (Willem VanGemeren).

* Commandments (miswah/miswot, used 22 times): “This word emphasizes the straight authority of what is said…the right to give orders.” (Derek Kidner).

* Statutes (huqqim, used 21 times): The noun is derived from the root verb “engrave” or “inscribe”; the idea is the written word of God and the authority of His written word: “…declaring his authority and power of giving us laws.” (Matthew Poole).

* Precepts (piqqudim, used 21 times): “This is a word drawn from the sphere of an officer or overseer, a man who is responsible to look closely into a situation and take action…. So the word points to the particular instructions of the Lord, as of one who cares about detail.” (Derek Kidner).

* Word (imrah, used 19 times): Imrah is similar in meaning to dabar, yet a different term. “The ‘word’ may denote anything God has spoken, commanded, or promised.” (Willem VanGemeren).

The theme of the glory of Scripture is diligently explored in this psalm, but always in connection with God Himself. Derek Kidner remarks: “This untiring emphasis has led some to accuse the psalmist of worshipping the Word rather than the Lord; but it has been well remarked that every reference here to Scripture, without exception, relates it explicitly to its Author; indeed, every verse from 4 to the end is a prayer for affirmation addressed to Him. This is true piety: a love of God not desiccated by study but refreshed, informed and nourished by it.”.

“This wonderful psalm, from its great length, helps us to wonder at the  immensity of Scripture. From its keeping to one subject it helps us to adore  the unity of Scripture; for it is but one. Yet, from the many turns it gives to  the same thought, it helps you to see the variety of Scripture…. Some have said that in it there is an  absence of variety, but that is merely the observation of those who have  not studied it. I have weighed each word, and looked at each syllable with  lengthened meditation; and I bear witness that this sacred song has no  tautology in it, but is charmingly varied from beginning to end. Its variety  is that of a kaleidoscope: from a few objects a boundless variation is  produced. In the kaleidoscope you look once, and there is a strangely  beautiful form. You shift the glass a very little, and another shape, equally  delicate and beautiful, is before your eyes. So it is here.” (Charles Spurgeon).

Being such a long psalm – and the longest chapter in the Bible – this psalm has been of great historical interest. There have been many lengthy works written on this psalm; one of them is by Thomas Manton, a Puritan preacher and writer, who wrote a three-volume work on Psalm 119. Each volume is between 500 and 600 pages, with a total of 1,677 pages. There are 190 chapters in his work, more than one chapter for each verse.

“Luther professed that he prized this Psalm so highly, that he would not take the whole world in exchange for one leaf of it.” (Charles Bridges) Some great people have memorized this whole psalm and found great blessing in doing so: John Ruskin (19th century British writer), William Wilberforce (19th century British politician who led the movement to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire), Henry Martyn (19th century pioneer missionary to India), and David Livingstone (19th century pioneer missionary to Africa).

Matthew Henry – the great 18th century Bible commentator – was introduced to Psalm 119 as a child. His father, Philip Henry, told his children to take one verse of Psalm 119 every morning to meditate on, and thereby go through the entire psalm twice in the year. Philip said to his children, “That will bring you to be in love with all the rest of the Scriptures.” Perhaps that practice was why Matthew Henry loved the Bible so much that he wrote commentary that is used still today.

George Wishart was the Bishop of Edinburgh in the 17th century (not to be confused with another Scot by the same name who was martyred a century earlier). Wishart was condemned to death for his faith. But when he was on the scaffold, he made use of a custom that allowed the condemned person to choose one psalm to be sung, and he chose Psalm 119. Before two-thirds of the psalm had been sung, his pardon arrived and his life was spared.

A. Aleph א: The blessedness of those who walk in God’s word and the longing to do so.

1. (1-2) Blessing declared.

Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the LORD!
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!

a. Blessed are the undefiled in the way: In beginning to describe man’s blessedness, the psalmist starts with the idea that being undefiled in the way is a blessing.

i. Many people – ancient and modern – think the life lived undefiled in the way is boring at best. The idea is that if there isn’t any defilement in it, then it can’t be any fun. Yet the one who walks in God’s word knows the true blessedness of living and enjoying an undefiled life.

ii. We can simply say that God is blessed; He wants us to share His blessedness. His word shows us the way to share His blessedness, and it is found by being undefiled in the way.

iii. Survey and polling data constantly demonstrate that those who live lives in general conformity to God’s standards are happier, enjoy life more, and are more content. Yet the illusion remains for many that a defiled life is more “fun.”.

iv. We need God to show us the way to a happy life, and it is centered on being undefiled in the way. “The reason we are not happy is that we sin, and the main reason we sin as much as we do is that we do not know the Bible well enough…. Apart from being instructed by God, human beings do not know how to achieve happiness.” (Boice).

b. Who walk in the law of the LORD: In the mind of the psalmist, there is a strong and definite connection between being undefiled in the way and walking in the law of the LORD. To walk in the law of the LORD is in fact to be undefiled in the way.

i. We wouldn’t know what a pure life was without God telling us. Certainly, some aspects of a pure life are revealed in human conscience and known widely among humanity. Yet there are other aspects of the pure life that we learn only from the word of God.

ii. The law of the LORD: Here the author of Psalm 119 uses, for the first time, a phrase referring to the written revelation of God. The many various ways he referred to God’s written revelation shows us how much he knew, loved, and respected God’s word.

iii. The law of the LORD: The word here used is torah. “Here the great word Torah is used, the word which to the Hebrew stood for the Law, being the word employed to describe the first division of the Bible, that which we call the Pentateuch.” (Morgan).

iv. “To enjoy this beatitude a holy walking must become habitual. This sacred exercise is very different from sluggish piety. ‘Blessed are the undefiled in the way who walk in the law of the Lord.’ A man may sit down in the road without soiling his skin or fouling his apparel, but that is not enough. There must be progress – practical action – in the Christian life; and in order to experience blessedness we must be doing something for the Master.” (Spurgeon).

c. Blessed are those who keep His testimonies: To keep His testimonies is virtually the same as to walk in the law of the LORD. Here is an example of the parallelism common to Hebrew poetry, used for both explanation and emphasis.

i. Keep means doing, not only hearing. “Neither is it enough that we understand or ponder God’s precepts, but we must practise them, if we would be happy.” (Trapp).

ii. “Blessedness is ascribed to those who treasure up the testimonies of the Lord: in which is implied that they search the Scriptures, that they come to an understanding of them, that they love them, and then that they continue in the practice of them. We must first get a thing before we can keep it. In order to keep it well we must get a firm grip of it: we cannot keep in the heart that which we have not heartily embraced by the affections.” (Spurgeon).

iii. “But let me not shrink from the question, do I ‘keep his testimonies’ from constraint, or from love? Surely when I consider my own natural aversion and enmity to the law of God, and the danger of self-deception in the external service of the Lord, I have much need to pray.” (Bridges).

d. Who seek Him with the whole heart: If one will seek God with the whole heart, it must include diligent study of God’s written revelation. There are good and important ways to seek God other than through His word (such as in prayer, worship, fasting, serving, and so forth). Yet if these do not include seeking God in and through His word, these other practices can be misdirected.

i. With the whole heart: Yet, we do not miss the emphasis on the heart. “God is not truly sought by the cold researches of the brain: we must seek him with the heart. Love reveals itself to love: God manifests his heart to the heart of his people. It is in vain that we endeavour to comprehend him by reason; we must apprehend him by affection.” (Spurgeon).

ii. The whole heart is vital. God is one; and we will not know Him closely until we seek Him with the whole heart. This is a challenge to the divided heart, not to the broken heart. “Strange to say, in scriptural phraseology, a heart…may be broken but not divided; and yet again it may be broken and be whole.” (Spurgeon).

2. (3) Blessing described.

They also do no iniquity;
They walk in His ways.

a. They also do no iniquity: The idea from Psalm 119:1-2 is repeated; these ones keep His testimonies, they are undefiled in the way, and they also do no iniquity. There is a purity and goodness that marks their lives.

b. They walk in His ways: They have learned  His ways from the written revelation; but with His word, God also gives grace and power to walk in His ways.

3. (4-8) Blessing desired.

You have commanded us
To keep Your precepts diligently.
Oh, that my ways were directed
To keep Your statutes!
Then I would not be ashamed,
When I look into all Your commandments.
I will praise You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
I will keep Your statutes;
Oh, do not forsake me utterly!

a. You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently: The psalmist connects commanded  obedience with the blessings to the obedient. He shows that the reason God commanded us to keep His precepts diligently is not only because it honors Him, but also because it is the path to blessing.

i. With the words “You have commanded us,” we see that the psalmist begins to address God in prayer; a position he will hold through most of the psalm. This shows that he was not only a student of Scripture, but also a man of prayer.

ii. “Because it was a hard thing to rightly understand this word in all its parts, and harder to put it in practice, he therefore intermixed many prayers to God for his help therein, thereby directing and encouraging others to take the same course.” (Poole).

iii. To keep Your precepts: “God has not commanded us to be diligent in making precepts, but in keeping them. Some bind yokes upon their own necks, and make bonds and rules for others: but the wise course is to be satisfied with the rules of holy Scripture.” (Spurgeon).

b. Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes: This is not only a pious wish; it is also a prayer for the ability to obey God’s word. Apart from His work in us, we lack the ability to keep those commands.

i. Here the psalmist gets personal. This isn’t a theological treatise on written revelation; it is an interaction with the Living God regarding His primary way of showing Himself to us. “It may be considered as the journal of one, who was deeply taught in the things of God, long practiced in the life and walk of faith.” (Bridges).

ii. “We do not get very far into the psalm before we discover that he is very much like ourselves, at least in the respect that he has not yet gotten to be like the happy, blessed ones he is describing. He wants to be, but he is not yet.” (Boice).

iii. “Without thee I can do nothing; my soul is unstable and fickle; and it will continue weak and uncertain till thou strengthen and establish it.” (Clarke).

c. Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your commandments: The psalmist felt the shame that comes when the standard of God’s word is compared to our lives. He prayed for the power to live an unashamed life.

i. “‘Shame’ is the fruit of sin; confidence is the effect of righteousness.” (Horne).

ii. “There is a twofold shame; the shame of a guilty conscience; and the shame of a tender conscience. The one is the merit and fruit of sin; the other is an act of grace.” (Thomas Manton, cited in Spurgeon).

iii. “…unto all thy commandments; so as not to be partial in my obedience, not to allow myself in the practice of any known sin, or in the neglect of any known duty.” (Poole).

iv. “Sincerity therefore must be the stamp of my Christian profession. Though utterly unable to render perfect obedience to the least of the commandments, yet my desire and purpose will have respect unto them all.” (Bridges).

d. I will praise You with uprightness of heart: The psalmist found it not only important to praise God, but to do it with uprightness of heart. He did not want to offer God the image of praise or a moment of praise when the rest of his life was not upright.

i. “Be sure that he who prays for holiness will one day praise for happiness. Shame having vanished, silence is broken, and the formerly silent man declares, ‘I will praise thee.’” (Spurgeon).

e. I will keep Your statutes: This was a promise to keep – in the sense of guarding – the statutes (huqqim), the engraved, inscribed, written word of God.

i. We never forget that in a real sense, only Jesus could say I will keep Your statutes. “The many strong expressions of love toward the law, and the repeated resolutions and vows to observe it, will often force us to turn our thoughts to the true David, whose ‘meat and drink it was, to do the will of him that sent him.’” (Horne).

f. Oh, do not forsake me utterly: We sense the note of desperation in the psalmist. He knows and loves God’s word, yet is also very conscious of his inability – apart from the work of God in his life – to live God’s word. If God did forsake him, he would be lost.

i. “Forsaken we may be – but not utterly. David was forsaken, not like Saul. Peter was forsaken, not like Judas, utterly and for ever…. Mark his dealings with you. Inquire into their reason. Submit to his dispensation. If he forsakes, beg his return: but trust your forsaking God.” (Bridges).

ii. The heart that sings do not forsake me utterly is a heart that longs to be close to God. “Apparently unconsciously, that is without intention, the song reveals the fact that a man who obeys the will of God as revealed, comes to a personal fellowship with God. From beginning to end, the singer sang as one who had personal knowledge of God and direct dealing with Him.” (Morgan).

B. Beth ב: Purity of life and meditation on God’s word.

Each line of this second section of Psalm 119 begins with the Hebrew letter Beth, which also means “a house.” Some have suggested that this section tells us how to make our heart a home for the word of God.

1. (9) A young man finds a cleansed life through God’s word.

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.

a. How can a young man cleanse his way? This was no less a difficult question in ancient times than in our own. The young man has his own particular challenges in living a pure life.

i. This is a question that some – even some who are numbered among the people of God – never seem to ask for themselves. Sadly, some people never have a concern for moral purity. They echo the prayer of Augustine before his conversion: “Lord, make me chaste – but not yet.”.

ii. The world tells us, “Have your good time when you are young; get it all out of your system. When you are older you can settle down and be religious and proper.” Boice comments on this thinking: “God’s answer is quite different. God says, If you are going to live for me, you must begin at the earliest possible moment, without delay, preferably when you are very young.”.

iii. Even when one has the desire for moral purity, there are many things that may make it difficult for a young man to cleanse his way.

·  Youthful energy and a sense of carelessness.

·  The lack of life wisdom.

·  The desire for and gaining of independence.

·  Physical and sexual maturity that may run ahead of spiritual and moral maturity.

·  Money and the freedom that it brings.

·  Young women who may – knowingly or unknowingly – encourage moral impurity.

·  The spirit of the age that both expects and promotes moral uncleanness for young men.

·  The desire to be accepted by peers who face the same challenges.

iv. “Why is the young man so especially called to cleanse his way? Because God justly claims the first and the best.” (Bridges).

v. God wants to spare the young man (and the older man) the bondage of sin. Experience has the power to shape our habits. Surrender to any temptation; transfer it from the realm of mental contemplation to life experience, and that temptation instantly becomes much more difficult to resist in the future. Each successive experience of surrender to temptation builds a habit, reinforced not only spiritually, but also by brain chemistry. Such ingrained habits are more and more difficult to break the more they are experienced; and it is almost impossible to break such habits without replacing them with another habit.

vi. Significantly, the words his way come from the Hebrew word orach. “Orach, which we translate way here, signifies a track, a rut, such as is made by the wheel of a cart or chariot.” (Clarke) A young man determines the tracks for the rest of his life.

vii. Of course, it is not only the young man who has these challenges; older men and women of every age have their own challenges in living pure lives. Yet these are often more severely felt in the life of the young man.

viii. “From the heartfelt prayers of the surrounding verses it would seem that the young man is the psalmist himself in the first place. He is praying rather than preaching.” (Kidner).

b. By taking heed: A life of moral purity does not happen accidentally. If one does not take heed, the natural path is toward impurity and degeneration. One must take heed in order to be pure.

c. According to Your word: This is how one takes heed. The foundation for a morally pure life is found in God’s word.

·  God’s word shows us the standard of purity, so we know what is right and what is wrong.

·  God’s word shows us the reasons for purity, so we understand the wisdom and goodness of God’s commands.

·  God’s word shows us the difficulty of purity, and reminds us to be on guard.

·  God’s word shows us the blessings of purity, and gives us an incentive to make the necessary sacrifices.

·  God’s word shows us how to be born again – converted, so our inner man may be transformed after the pattern of ultimate purity, Jesus Christ.

·  God’s word shows us the way to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, so that we have the spiritual resources to be pure.

·  God’s word is a refuge against temptation, giving us a way of escape in the season of enticement.

·  God’s word is a light that clears away the deceptive fog of seduction and temptation.

·  God’s word is a mirror that helps us see our spiritual and moral condition, and thus walk in purity.

·  God’s word gives us wise and simple commands, such as to “Flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22).

·  God’s word washes us from impurity, and actually cleanses our life in a spiritual sense (Ephesians 5:26, John 15:3).

·  God’s word is the key to the renewing of our minds, which in turn is the key to personal, moral, and spiritual transformation (Romans 12:1-2).

·  God’s word gives a refuge against condemnation when we have been impure, and shows us how to repent and come back to a pure life.

·  God’s word shows us how to conduct our lives so that we are an encouragement to others in purity.

i. Jesus spoke specifically of the power of His word to cleanse and keep us pure: You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you (John 15:3). Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth (John 17:17).

ii. The impact is clear: if you want to cleanse your way, then you must also take heed according to God’s word.

iii. “Young man, the Bible must be your chart, and you must exercise great watchfulness that your way may be according to its directions. You must take heed to your daily life as well as study your Bible, and you must study your Bible that you may take heed to your daily life. With the greatest care a man will go astray if his map misleads him; but with the most accurate map he will still lose his road if he does not take heed to it.” (Spurgeon).

iv. This idea is communicated in Proverbs 2:10-12: When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things.

v. We remind ourselves that Jesus answered temptation with the word of God (Matthew 4:1-10). “He who became man for our salvation, passed through this state of youth, undefiled, that he might, as it were, reclaim and consecrate it anew to God.” (Horne).

2. (10-11) How one takes heed of God’s word.

With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

a. With my whole heart I have sought You: Here the psalmist declares his dedication to God, and at the same time recognizes his weakness in being able to maintain such a dedication (Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments).

i. With my whole heart I have sought You reminds us that Scripture was no mere textbook to the psalmist; it was how he sought and met with God. “His heart had gone after God himself: he had not only desired to obey his laws, but to commune with his person.” (Spurgeon).

ii. Let me not wander helps us put in perspective the many claims to purity and devotion in this psalm (and others). They are understood in the light of dependence upon God, not in the sense of self-righteous pride.

iii. “The path of purity is that of caution conditioned by the Word of God. This caution is further manifested in the distrust of self, and earnest seeking to be kept in the way of God’s commandments.” (Morgan).

iv. “When the soul is thus conscious of ‘following the Lord fully,’ there is a peculiar dread of wandering. In a careless or half-hearted state, wanderings are not watched, so long as they do not lead to any open declension.” (Bridges).

b. Your word I have hidden in my heart: The psalmist knew the value of taking God’s word and hiding it in his heart. It is hidden in the sense that it is on the inside, where no one can see it, and it is safe so that no one can take it away.

i. We can be assured that before this word was hidden in his heart, it was received in his mind. The psalmist heard and read the word of God, and thought about it continually, until it became ingrained in both his mind and his heart.

ii. “Memorizing is precisely what is called for, since it is only when the Word of God is readily available in our minds that we are able to recall it in moments of need and profit by it.” (Boice).

iii. “If God’s word be only in his Bible, and not also in his heart, he may soon and easily be surprised into his besetting sin.” (Clarke).

c. That I might not sin against You: Here the psalmist states one benefit from having God’s word hidden in his heart. It is a defense against sin, for all the reasons discussed above and more.

i. “The personal way in which the man of God did this is also noteworthy: ‘With my whole heart have I sought thee.’ Whatever others might choose to do he had already made his choice and placed the Word in his innermost soul as his dearest delight, and however others might transgress, his aim was after holiness: ‘That I might not sin against thee.’” (Spurgeon).

3. (12) A prayer for instruction.

Blessed are You, O LORD!
Teach me Your statutes.

a. Blessed are You, O LORD: The psalmist seems to interrupt his thoughts on the connection between God’s word and a pure life with this expression of praise. The greatness of these ideas and the reality of them in his life has made this praise necessary.

b. Teach me Your statutes: This demonstrates the humility of the psalmist. Though filled with God’s word and a desire for purity, he sensed his constant need for instruction by God. He didn’t simply need to read God’s statutes; he pleaded with God to teach him.

i. This saying is written in the front of some Bibles: “This book will keep you from sin. Sin will keep you from this book.” The psalmist understood this principle, and longed for God to be his teacher, and to keep him in God’s great book.

ii. “We need to be disciples or learners – ‘teach me;’ but what an honour to have God himself for a teacher: how bold is [the psalmist] to beg the blessed God to teach him!” (Spurgeon).

4. (13-16) A declaration of commitment.

With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.

a. With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth: The psalmist understood the importance of not only silently reading or hearing the word of God, but also the importance in saying it. To declare God’s word (all the judgments of Your mouth) with his lips was another part of his relationship with and love for God.

i. We may confidently conclude that there is not enough – never enough – of this among the people of God. God’s people should have His word not only in their minds and hearts, but also upon their lips. Saying it is powerful and must not be neglected.

ii. “When we make the Scriptures the subject of our conversation, we glorify God, we edify our neighbours, and we improve ourselves.” (Horne).

b. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches: The psalmist understood the true value of God’s word; it gave him as much joy as all riches might.

i. It could be fairly asked of every Christian: “For what amount would you deny yourself to ever hear or read God’s word again?” It is to be feared that many, like Esau, would sell this birthright treasure for the equivalent of a bowl of stew.

ii. “We may also observe here an evidence of adoption. Obedience is not a burden, but a delight. The servant may perform the statutes of God, but it is only the son who ‘delights in them.’” (Bridges).

c. I will meditate…and contemplate…I will delight…I will not forget Your word: The greatness of God’s word has led the psalmist to great resolution for his life. His life will be filled with God’s word, in his mind (meditate…contemplate), in his heart (delight), and in his habits (not forget).

i. “Meditation is recalling what we have committed to memory and then turning it over and over in our minds to see the fullest implications and applications of the truth.” (Boice).

ii. I will delight: “The word is very emphatical: evetvaeshtaasha, I will skip about and jump for joy.” (Clarke).

iii. This giving of the fullness of life to God’s word – in mind, heart, and habits – is a good description of what the psalmist meant by taking heed in Psalm 119:9. The young man will cleanse his way, and enjoy the fullness of such a God-honoring life.

iv. We can almost hear a challenge from the psalmist: “You live your compromising, impure life that thinks it knows pleasure and satisfaction; I will cleanse my way and give the fullness of my life to God and His word, and we will see who will be more blessed, more happy, and more filled with life.”.

C. Gimel ג: The word of God and the trials of life.

1. (17) A prayer for blessing, so that God’s word can be kept.

Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.

a. Deal bountifully with Your servant: This is a wonderful request: boldly asking for blessing (deal bountifully), while at the same time coming humbly before God (Your servant). The servant properly depends upon the master for his bounty.

i. In saying, Deal bountifully, the psalmist was asking for a lot, not just a little. “The believer, like [the psalmist], is a man of large expectations…. We may, indeed, be too bold in our manner of approach to God; but we cannot be too bold in our expectations from him.” (Bridges).

ii. “He begs for a liberality of grace, after the fashion of one who prayed, ‘O Lord, thou must give me great mercy or no mercy, for little mercy will not serve my turn.’” (Spurgeon).

b. That I may live and keep Your word: This is why the psalmist asked for God’s blessing. It was not for personal indulgence or even comfort, but so that God’s word might be lived and kept. This is a wonderful, God-honoring prayer that is heard in heaven.

i. As the rest of this section will demonstrate, the psalmist prayed this because of great problems and pressures that had beset him. This section of the psalm shows us that the author was a man who had suffered deeply. He had known persecution (Psalm 119:22-23), deprivation and fear for his life (Psalm 119:17), seasons when he seemed to get nothing from God’s word (Psalm 119:18), and loneliness, rejection, and a sense of abandonment (Psalm 119:19-20).

ii. In the midst of these trials, he wanted to live – not only surviving, but also a better quality of life, especially in regard to God.

iii. That I may live: “[This] is the first of many such prayers…. While some of them could refer simply to surviving an illness or an attack, others are clearly qualitative, speaking of life that is worthy of the name, or in our terms, spiritual life, found in fellowship with God.” (Kidner).

2. (18) A prayer for insight, so that God’s word can be understood.

Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law.

a. Open my eyes, that I may see: The psalmist recognized that without God’s enlightenment, he could not see what he could and should from God’s word.

i. “The verb ‘open’ in Psalm 119:18 is used in the Balaam story where the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes so he could see the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. It has to do with removing a veil, or covering.” (Boice).

ii. This reminds us that it isn’t the word of God that needs changing, as if it were obscure; we are the ones who are veiled and can’t understand the word of God apart from the work of the Spirit. Paul’s eyes were unveiled when he was converted (Acts 9:18); it was as if scales had dropped from his eyes.

iii. “In order to keep God’s word, must we not pray to understand it? What then is this prayer? Not – give me a plainer Bible – but open my eyes to know my Bible. Not – show me some new revelations beside the law – but make me behold the wonders of the law.” (Bridges).

iv. The psalmist didn’t need new revelation; he needed to see the revelation that was already given. He didn’t need new eyes; he needed to see more clearly with the eyes he already had.

b. Wondrous things from Your law: There are wondrous things in Scripture; but they can only be seen when the eyes are opened by God. This means that prayer is an important (and often neglected) part of Bible study.

i. Not everyone sees the wondrous things in God’s word, but when he does see them, he should regard it as evidence of God’s blessing and favor.

ii. Jesus rejoiced that God revealed His wisdom this way: At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.” (Matthew 11:25).

iii. God has given man a sense of wonder, and there are certain things that prompt it. The new and unexpected can cause wonder, the beautiful and great can cause wonder, and the mysterious and unknown can cause wonder. God has provided for this sense of wonder by giving us His word. The Holy Spirit can make us alive to the Bible, and helps us constantly see things that are new and unexpected, things that are great and beautiful, and things that are mysterious and unknown. It is a shame that many Christians look for their sense of wonder to be satisfied without looking to the word of God.

iv. Think of all there is in the Bible that you don’t see. Think of all the wonder, all the treasure that is there, but you don’t see it. You can see some things, though you can’t see everything, and sometimes you will think you see things that are not really there. Those who see more than you are not necessarily smarter or better; their eyes are just more open.

v. “If we want to see wonderful things in the Scriptures, it is not enough for us merely to ask God to open our eyes that we might see them. We must also study the Bible carefully. The Holy Spirit is given not to make our study unnecessary but to make it effective.” (Boice).

3. (19-20) A prayer for revelation, longing for God’s word.

I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.
My soul breaks with longing
For Your judgments at all times.

a. I am a stranger in the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me: This is the same request as in the previous verse, but made for a different reason. The psalmist wants to know and keep God’s word, and prays for it to be so; but now he makes the request because he recognizes that the earth is not his home, and he needs communication with his true homeland.

i. When we think of the man who says I am a stranger in the earth, we should not think of the man who wanders alone through the wilderness. We should think of the man who lives among others and is surrounded by the vanity of the world’s joys, but all the while knows, “I don’t really belong here.”.

ii. “If you are trying to follow God, the world is going to treat you as an alien, for that is what you will be. You cannot expect to be at home in it, and if you are, well, it is an indication that you really do not belong to Christ or at least are living far from him.” (Boice).

b. My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times: His soul longed for God’s word so much because he was indeed a stranger in the earth; for those who feel perfectly at home in this world, the word that comes to them from heaven is less precious.

i. My soul breaks: “We have a similar expression: It broke my heart, That is heart-breaking, She died of a broken heart. It expresses excessive longing, grievous disappointment, hopeless love, accumulated sorrow. By this we may see the hungering and thirsting which the psalmist had after righteousness, often mingled with much despondency.” (Clarke).

ii. “Spiritual desires are the shadows of coming blessings. What God intends to give us he first sets us longing for. Hence the wonderful efficacy of prayer, because prayer is the embodiment of a longing inspired of God because he intends to bestow the blessing. What are thy longings, then, my hearer?” (Spurgeon).

iii. “Longing lingers not within a lifeless corpse. Where the heart is breaking with desire there is life. This may comfort some of you: you have not attained as yet to the holiness you admire, but you long for it: ah, then, you are a living soul, the life of God is in you.” (Spurgeon).

4. (21-24) A prayer for refuge in God’s word.

You rebuke the proud—the cursed,
Who stray from Your commandments.
Remove from me reproach and contempt,
For I have kept Your testimonies.
Princes also sit and speak against me,
But Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
Your testimonies also are my delight
And my counselors.

a. You rebuke the proud: Those who stray from God’s commandments are both proud (their disobedience is evidence of willfulness) and cursed (no good can come from their disobedience).

i. “Let the histories of Cain, Pharaoh, Haman, Nebuchadnezzar, and Herod, exhibit the proud under the rebuke and curse of God.” (Bridges).

b. Remove from me reproach and contempt: The psalmist recognized that even princes also sit and speak against him; yet he would not turn from meditation on God’s word. Instead, he simply prayed, asking God to deal with the reproach and contempt that notable people put on him for his love of God’s word.

i. Reproach is unpleasant; it is the expression of disapproval or disappointment. Yet contempt is even worse; it is the feeling that a person or thing is beneath consideration, that he is worthless and useless.

ii. Beyond reproach and contempt, these enemies also slandered the psalmist (sit and speak against me). Slander goes beyond our “stranger” status. When the world thinks we are strange and wonders if we belong, it sees us correctly. When they slander us, they tell lies about us and falsely accuse us.

iii. “The best way to deal with slander is to pray about it: God will either remove it, or remove the sting from it. Our own attempts at clearing ourselves are usually failures.” (Spurgeon).

c. Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors: The psalmist delighted and trusted in God’s word much more than in the high people of this earth (such as princes).

i. “Most men covet a prince’s good word, and to be spoken ill of by a great man is a great discouragement to them, but the Psalmist bore his trial with holy calmness…. While his enemies took counsel with each other the holy man took counsel with the testimonies of God.” (Spurgeon).

ii. My counselors: “Yet a mere cursory reading will never realize to us its holy delight or counsel. It must be brought home to our own experiences, and consulted on those trivial occasions of every day, when, unconscious of our need of Divine direction, we are too often inclined to lean to our own counsel.” (Bridges).

iii. In this section the psalmist saw many things that hindered his reception of the word of God and his fellowship with God, and he prayed to be protected from them.

·  He saw the danger of a dead soul and a cold heart; therefore he prayed, “Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word.”.

·  He saw the danger of darkened understanding; therefore he prayed, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.”.

·  He saw the danger of living as a stranger in a strange land; therefore he prayed, “Do not hide Your commandments from me.”.

·  He saw his own weakness and instability; therefore he prayed, “My soul breaks with longing.”.

·  He saw the danger of pride, evident in those who attacked him; therefore he recognized that the proud are “the cursed, who stray for Your commandments.”.

·  He saw the reproach and contempt that came upon him, and how those could shake his standing; therefore he prayed, “Remove from me reproach and contempt.”.

·  He saw rulers plotting against him; therefore he prayed, “Your testimonies are my delight.”.

iv. “He rises superior to these sorrowful circumstances by keeping the testimonies, meditating on the statutes, and so finding delight therein.” (Morgan).

D. Daleth ד: Revived from the dust.

1. (25) A prayer for revival from a soul who feels dead.

My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.

a. My soul clings to the dust: The psalmist used a strong image to say that he felt near death in his current crisis; dust was the place of death, the place of mourning, and the place of humiliation.

i. “Whatever was the cause of his complaint, it was no surface evil, but an affair of his inmost spirit; his soul cleaved to the dust; and it was not a casual and accidental falling into the dust, but a continuous and powerful tendency, or cleaving to the earth.” (Spurgeon).

b. Revive me according to Your word: From this low place, the prayer for revival came. The psalmist asked for life and vitality to be restored, and he asked that it happen according to Your word.

i. Revival comes from a sense of spiritual need and lowliness. True revival – in the Biblical and historical sense – is marked by a shamed awareness of sin and an urgency to confess and make things right (mentioned in Psalm 119:26).

ii. The psalmist knew what he needed. “One would have thought that he would have asked for comfort or upraising, but he knew that these would come out of increased life, and therefore he sought that blessing which is the root of the rest. When a person is depressed in spirit, weak, and bent towards the ground, the main thing is to increase his stamina and put more life into him; then his spirit revives.” (Spurgeon).

iii. According to Your word shows us that God uses His word in bringing revival. Works that claim to be revival can be measured according to His word.

2. (26-27) Teach me, make me understand.

I have declared my ways, and You answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.
Make me understand the way of Your precepts;
So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.

a. I have declared my ways…teach me Your statutes: The idea behind I have declared my ways is that the psalmist told God everything about himself and his life. He confessed fully and freely before God.

i. “Can each one of us now say, in this sense, ‘I have declared my ways’ to the Lord? For this should be done, not only at our first coming to him, but continually throughout the whole of our life. We should look over each day, and sum up the errors of the day, and say, ‘I have declared my ways,’ – my naughty ways, my wicked ways, my wandering ways, my backsliding ways, my cold, indifferent ways, my proud ways.’” (Spurgeon).

ii. The psalmist had a wonderful liberty in conversation; he spoke to God as a dear friend. “How often do we treat our Almighty Friend as if we were weary of dealing with him!” (Bridges).

b. Make me understand the way of Your precepts: The psalmist understood that he needed more than knowledge; he also needed understanding. With both he would meditate on God’s wonderful works.

i. Make me understand: “It is concerned with a deep understanding, one that goes beyond a mere understanding of the words to a profound understanding of what they reveal about the nature of God, the gospel, and God’s ways.” (Boice).

ii. “‘Teach me thy statutes.’ I think the psalmist means this, ‘My Lord, I have told thee all; now, wilt thou tell me all? I have declared to thee my ways; now, wilt thou teach me thy ways? I have confessed to thee how I have broken thy statutes; wilt thou not give me thy statutes back again?’” (Spurgeon).

3. (28) A plea for strength from a shrinking soul.

My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.

a. My soul melts from heaviness: The problems surrounding the psalmist (as seen in Psalm 119:17-24) made his soul heavy, as if it would melt. He felt that he had no strength or stability within.

b. Strengthen me according to Your word: Therefore, he prayed for strength, and that this strength would come both from and according to God’s word.

i. “The singer is bowed down, overwhelmed. He sorely needs succour and strength. How does he seek it? Not by asking for pity, but by a determined application to the law of his God.” (Morgan).

ii. “This melting heaviness has not wrought its work, until it has bowed us before the throne of grace with the pleading cry of faith – Strengthen thou me!” (Bridges).

4. (29-30) Choosing the way of truth.

Remove from me the way of lying,
And grant me Your law graciously.
I have chosen the way of truth;
Your judgments I have laid before me.

a. Remove from me the way of lying…. I have chosen the way of truth: The psalmist sensed the common temptation to lie; yet he determined to choose the way of truth.

i. Remove me from the way of lying: “…a sin that David, through diffidence, fell into frequently. See 1 Samuel 21:2,8, where he roundly telleth three or four lies; and the like he did, 1 Samuel 27:8,10; this evil he saw by himself, and here prayeth against it.” (Trapp).

ii. Grant me Your law graciously: The verb translated graciously “…actually has the sense of ‘graciously teach,’ a single word. The full thought is, If we are to be kept from sin, it must be by the grace of God exercised through the teaching of his Word.” (Boice).

b. Your judgments I have laid before me: This is how the psalmist was able to choose the way of truth: He was in close relationship with the word of God.

i. “Men do not drop into the right way by chance; they must choose it, and continue to choose it, or they will soon wander from it.” (Spurgeon).

5. (31-32) Rescue me; enlarge my heart.

I cling to Your testimonies;
O LORD, do not put me to shame!
I will run the course of Your commandments,
For You shall enlarge my heart.

a. I cling to Your testimonies; O LORD, do not put me to shame: The psalmist understood that if he were to give himself entirely to God – to cling to His word as a shipwrecked man clings to a floating plank in the sea – then he could trust that God would not allow him to be put…to shame. This was well-placed confidence.

i. In the beginning of the section, he is clinging to the dust (Psalm 119:25); by the end he is clinging to God’s word. In the beginning he is laid low; now he is joyfully running with all his strength in the race God’s word sets before him.

ii. The clinging of this verse connects well with the choosing of the previous verse. “Having once chosen our road, it remains that we persevere in it; since better had it been for us never to have known the way of truth, than to forsake it, when known.” (Horne).

b. I will run the course of Your commandments: After beginning low in the dust, now the psalmist is running. He has moved in a beautiful progression, from confessing to choosing to clinging to running.

c. For You shall enlarge my heart: The psalmist comes back to a familiar theme, not only of the greatness of God’s word, but also of his acute sense of weakness and dependence upon God. He must have his heart enlarged: made bigger, stronger, better, and more steadfast. His confidence is that God would do this through His word.

i. “The remedy therefore is in that enlargement, which embraces a wider expanse of light, and a more full confidence of love…. He does not say – I will make no efforts, unless thou work for me; but if thou wilt enlarge – I will run. Weakness is not the plea for indolence, but for quickening grace…. The secret of Christian energy and success is a heart enlarged in the love of God.” (Bridges).

E. He ה: A plea for guidance and life.

He is the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and it is used at the beginning of verbs to make them causative. Therefore, the prayers in this section have the meaning, “Cause me to learn,” “Cause me to understand,” “Cause me to walk” and so forth.

1. (33-35) A prayer for instruction for righteous living.

Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.

a. Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end: The psalmist here stresses his great desire to keep the way and word of God. If God would teach him, he would persevere and keep the way to the end.

i. “The general desire expressed in this division is that for guidance. It is not an appeal for direction in some special case of difficulty, but rather for the clear manifestation of the meaning of the will of God.” (Morgan).

ii. Only a God-changed heart can pray this. Left to himself, man is unable to keep the way and word of God (much less keep it to the end). Philippians 2:13 tells us that it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Here the psalmist prays as one who has received the will, and now prays for the doing of it.

iii. We should have the expectation of following God and His word to the end. “The end of our keeping the law will come only when we cease to breathe; no good man will think of marking a date and saying, ‘It is enough, I may now relax my watch, and live after the manner of men.’” (Spurgeon).

b. Give me understanding…I shall observe it with my whole heart: Without this understanding, the psalmist could not follow the desire of his transformed heart. We need understanding to persevere in the faith.

i. “The understanding operates upon the affections; it convinces the heart of the beauty of the law, so that the soul loves it with all its powers; and then it reveals the majesty of the lawgiver, and the whole nature bows before his supreme will.” (Spurgeon).

ii. The psalmist had no doubt that God had given His word to us; his only fear was that he would not understand it (or be distracted from it). Yet he was utterly confident that God had spoken and that it could be understood rightly by the prayerful heart and mind.

iii. “‘To the end’ means without time limit, and ‘with all my heart’ means without reservation.” (Boice).

c. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it: Despite his delight and desire for God’s word, the psalmist knows he cannot walk in God’s path without God’s empowering.

i. “We need no instruction in the way of sin…. But for a child of God, this is a prayer for constant use.” (Bridges).

ii. “This is the cry of a child that longs to walk, but is too feeble; of a pilgrim who is exhausted, yet pants to be on the march; of a lame man who pines to be able to run.” (Spurgeon).

2. (36-37) God’s word and the problem of material things.

Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.

a. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness: The psalmist rightly understood that covetousness was a threat to walking in God’s way. A heart inclined toward God’s word would help him be satisfied in what God provides.

i. “He is asking God to turn his heart toward the Bible rather than allowing him to pursue selfish gain. For the first time he is confessing a potentially divided mind.” (Boice).

ii. The Bible tells us how covetousness has ruined many people.

·  Balaam sold out God’s people and his own soul because he coveted (Numbers 22, 2 Peter 2:14-16).

·  Ahab murdered because he coveted (1 Kings 21:1-13).

·  David committed adultery and murder because he coveted (2 Samuel 11:2-17).

·  Achan stole and brought Israel to defeat because he coveted (Joshua 7:21).

·  Judas stole from his fellow disciples and betrayed Jesus because he coveted (John 12:6 and Matthew 26:14-16).

·  Gehazi lied because he coveted (2 Kings 5:20-27).

·  Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit because he coveted (Acts 5:1-6).

iii. “It is a handmaid of all sins; for there is no sin which a covetous man will not serve for his gain.” (William Cowper, cited in Spurgeon).

b. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things: The psalmist rightly understood that some things, comparatively speaking, are worthless things. They are of no value for eternity and little value for the present age. He prayed that God would empower and enable him to turn away his eyes and attention from such things.

i. Many lives are wasted because people find themselves unwilling or unable to turn away their eyes from worthless things. The modern world with its media and entertainment technology brings before us an endless river of worthless things to occupy not only our eyes and time, but also our heart and minds.

ii. Some things are clearly worthless; some things are thought by many to be worthy, but are in fact worthless:.

·  worthless because they do no good.

·  worthless because they do not last.

·  worthless because they help no one else.

·  worthless because they build no faith, hope, or love.

·  worthless because they distract from things that are truly worthy.

·  worthless because they have nothing to do with Jesus.

iii. The psalmist understood that he had a natural tendency toward worthless things, so he prayed for that natural tendency to be counter-acted. “Keeping the eye is a grand means of ‘keeping the heart’ (Numbers 15:39, Job 31:1).” (Bridges).

iv. Yet the eyes are so powerful that the psalmist had to pray – to pray for power outside himself to turn his eyes from worthless things. Does the psalmist have no eyelids or no muscles in his neck to turn the head? We all sympathize with this prayer; the eyes are so small – yet they can lead the whole person, and often lead to destruction. This is because the eyes lead the heart, lead the mind, and can lead the whole person. He prayed this, “…lest looking cause liking and lusting.” (Trapp).

v. He did not gouge out his own eyes or pray God to do it; instead he wanted to look another way, a better way. The best way to look away from sin is to look at something else. “The prayer is not so much that the eyes may be shut as ‘turned away;’ for we need to have them open, but directed to right objects.” (Spurgeon).

c. And revive me in Your way: This is another prayer for revival – this time, to be made alive again in the way (or path) of God. The psalmist wanted to walk in God’s way, and to do it with a revived heart. He prayed for deadness in one direction – toward worthless things – and for life in another direction – toward God’s way.

i. “As I desire that I may be dull and dead in affections to worldly vanities; so, Lord, make me lively, and vigorous, and fervent in thy work and service.” (Poole).

ii. “He goes at once to him in whom were all his fresh springs. Life is the peculiar sphere of God: he is the Lord and Giver of life. No man ever received spiritual life, or the renewal of it, from any other source but the living God. Beloved, this is worth recollecting, for we are very apt when we feel ourselves declining to look anywhere but to the Lord. We, too, often look within.” (Spurgeon).

iii. God has many ways to revive us. Spurgeon listed some:.

·  God’s word: “There are promises in God’s word of such effectual restorative power, that, if they be but fed upon…they will make a dwarf into a giant in the twinkling of an eye.”.

·  Affliction: “It is wonderful how a little touch of the spur will quicken our sluggish natures.”.

·  Great mercies: “A man may be stirred up to diligence by a sense of gratitude to God for great mercies.”.

·  Christian example: “I believe the reading of holy biographies has been exceedingly blessed of God.”.

·  Warm-hearted ministry: “We should select not that which tickles the ear most, but that which most enlivens the heart.”.

3. (38-40) Longing for revival from God’s word.

Establish Your word to Your servant,
Who is devoted to fearing You.
Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your judgments are good.
Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me in Your righteousness.

a. Establish Your word to Your servant: This is not a prayer for God to change His word in some way; indeed, the word of the LORD is established forever (Isaiah 40:8). This is a prayer for a change in the heart and mind of the servant of God, so that the word of the LORD would be established in him.

i. Establish Your word to Your servant is much the same idea as what Mary said to Gabriel regarding the word of the Lord that he brought to her: Let it be to me according to your word (Luke 1:38).

b. Turn away my reproach which I dread, for Your judgments are good: While declaring the goodness of God’s judgments, the psalmist also prayed that his disgrace (reproach) would be turned away by the merciful God.

i. There is some reproach [disgrace] that we face as faithful followers of Jesus. Paul suffered these kind of reproaches (1 Timothy 4:10) and indeed even took pleasure in them (2 Corinthians 12:10). We expect and receive reproach as followers of Jesus (Hebrews 13:13, 1 Peter 4:14).

ii. “The Lord’s grace to him will remove disgrace and will promote the fear of God.” (VanGemeren).

c. I long for Your precepts; revive me in Your righteousness: Again the psalmist prays for revival. The prayer comes from a heart that loves God’s word (Your precepts), asking to be made alive in the righteousness of God.

F. Waw ו: Liberty comes from loving God’s word.

“This commences a new portion of the Psalm, in which each verse begins with the letter Vau, or v. There are almost no words in Hebrew that begin with this letter, which is properly a conjunction, and hence in each of the verses in this section the beginning of the verse is in the original a conjunction – vau.” (Barnes, cited in Spurgeon).

1. (41-42) Receiving from God and defending against man.

Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD–
Your salvation according to Your word.
So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.

a. Let Your mercies come…Your salvation according to Your word: Here the psalmist acknowledged that mercy and salvation come from God to man through the word of God. The word of God doesn’t merely point us toward mercy and salvation, as if it were a self-help book. It actually brings mercy and salvation to us.

i. The psalmist rightly said mercies, in the plural. God’s gracious mercy to us is so great that it can only be described in the plural, with mercy piled on top of mercy.

ii. “He desires mercy as well as teaching, for he was guilty as well as ignorant.” (Spurgeon).

·  He needed mercy, not only teaching.

·  He needed many mercies, so the request is in the plural.

·  He needed mercy from God more than from man, so the request is made to God.

iii. The ancient Hebrew word here translated mercies is hesed. For centuries it was translated with words like mercy, kindness, and love. But in 1927, a scholar named Nelson Glueck (among others) argued that the real idea behind hesed was “covenant loyalty” and not so much love or mercy. Many disagreed and there is no good reason for changing the long-held understanding of hesed and taking it as a word that mainly emphasizes covenant loyalty (see R. Laird Harris on hesed in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament).

iv. “It must come to me; or I shall never come to it.” (Bridges).

b. So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word: Trust in God’s word provides an answer to those who reproach us. The disapproving voices we often hear can be answered by our abiding trust in the approval that we believers find in God.

i. When we believe who God is and what He has done for us in Jesus Christ, the disapproval of this world is answered.

2. (43-44) A prayer that the word of God would remain in the mouth of the psalmist.

And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
For I have hoped in Your ordinances.
So shall I keep Your law continually,
Forever and ever.

a. Take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth: This request is rooted in the understanding that it is only by the goodness and grace of God that His word does dwell with us. Therefore the prayer comes that it may continue so.

i. This is true for humanity in general; hypothetically, God might have created man yet never communicated with him by His word.

ii. Yet it is also true for the individual who is awakened and attentive to God’s word – because of the work of God in him – so it is wise and worthy to pray that it would remain so.

iii. It is true most of all for those who proclaim the word of God. “He who has once preached the gospel from his heart is filled with horror at the idea of being put out of the ministry; he will crave to be allowed a little share in the holy testimony, and will reckon his silent Sabbaths to be days of banishment and punishment.” (Spurgeon).

b. For I have hoped in Your ordinances: His past hope is the ground for his future expectation. He has hoped in the word of God (ordinances) in the past, and he has not been disappointed.

c. So shall I keep Your law continually: The psalmist wanted God’s word to remain in his mouth so that he could keep God’s law. This was to glorify God through obedience to His word, not for any self-serving purpose.

3. (45-48) Loving the word that brings liberty.

And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.
I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings,
And will not be ashamed.
And I will delight myself in Your commandments,
Which I love.
My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments,
Which I love,
And I will meditate on Your statutes.

a. And I will walk at liberty: Having just spoken of the obedience that comes from having God’s word within, the psalmist now testifies that this obedience brings a life of liberty. Freedom comes through obedience and submission to God.

i. It is proven in many lives, in both the positive and the negative: Obedience and the pursuit of God’s word and wisdom lead to liberty. Disobedience, rejection of God’s word, and reliance upon one’s own wisdom lead to bondage.

ii. “Saints find no bondage in sanctity. The Spirit of holiness is a free spirit; he sets men at liberty and enables them to resist every effort to bring them under subjection. The way of holiness is not a track for slaves, but the King’s highway for freemen.” (Spurgeon).

b. I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed: This is an example of the liberty just mentioned. To have the boldness and ability to speak freely of God and His great word before kings and the great men of this earth shows true liberty.

i. “This is part of his liberty; he is free from fear of the greatest, proudest, and most tyrannical of men.” (Spurgeon).

c. And I will delight myself in Your commandments: That he set this in an I will statement shows that delighting in God’s word is a choice, a matter of the will. The psalmist didn’t wait for a feeling of delight to overcome him; he simply said, I will delight myself in Your commandments.

i. In Psalm 119:44, the psalmist proclaimed: So shall I keep Your law continually. In the verses following he lists at least three things that come from this life of obedience: liberty, confidence (will not be ashamed), and delight. These are blessings of the obedient life – blessings not earned by our obedience, but simply enjoyed by those of us who will keep His law continually.

d. Which I love…which I love: The strength and the depth of the psalmist’s love for God’s word are impressive. That love is manifested not only in the feeling of delight, but also in an act of honor (My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments), and time and energy spent with God’s word (I will meditate).

i. We may say that all true love has these three components: feeling, the giving of honor, and the desire to spend time and energy in knowing the beloved. This is a good measure of our love for God’s word.

ii. My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments: “A bold expression of yearning for God’s revelation in Scripture.” (Kidner).

iii. “O shame to Christians who feel so little affection to the Gospel of Christ, when we see such cordial, conscientious, and inviolate attachment in a Jew to the laws and ordinances of Moses, that did not afford a thousandth part of the privileges!” (Clarke).

iv. “Why then is the Bible read only – not meditated on? Because it is not loved. We do not go to it, as the hungry man to his food, as the miser to his treasure. The loss is incalculable.” (Bridges).

G. Zayin ז: The power of God’s word to comfort and strengthen.

1. (49-50) God’s word brings comfort.

Remember the word to Your servant,
Upon which You have caused me to hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life.

a. Remember the word to Your servant: The psalmist understood that God could never forget His word. Speaking in the manner of men, this was a plea for God to fulfill the promises stated in His word. God wants His people to plead His stated promises back to Him in prayer.

i. “When we hear any promise in the word of God, let us turn it into a prayer. God’s promises are his bonds. Sue him on his bond. He loves that we should wrestle with him by his promises.” (Sibbes, cited in Spurgeon).

ii. Spurgeon said that he often carried with him a small book of God’s promises (Clarke’s Precious Promises), and he turned to specific promises to help him at needful times. “But God – let us speak with reverence – when he gives a promise, binds himself with cords of his own making. He binds himself down to such and such a course when he says that such and such a thing shall be. Hence, when you grasp the promise, you get a hold on God.” (Spurgeon).

iii. To Your servant: “If God’s word to us as his servants is so precious, what shall we say of his word to us as his sons?” (Spurgeon).

b. Upon which You have caused me to hope: Again the psalmist understood that his trust and hope in God’s word should not be credited to his own spiritual greatness or genius. It came because God worked in him to hope in His word.

i. This also demonstrates that the word of God is worthy of such hope. “It is an irrevocable word. Man has to eat his words, sometimes, and unsay his say. He would perform his engagement, but he cannot. It is not that he is unfaithful, but that he is unable. Now this is never so with God. His word never returns to him void. Go, find ye the snowflakes winging their way like white doves back to heaven! Go, find the drops of rain rising upward like diamonds flung up from the hand of a mighty man to find a lodging-place in the cloud from which they fell! Until the snow and the rain return to heaven, and mock the ground which they promised to bless, the word of God shall never return to him void.” (Spurgeon).

c. This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life: When the psalmist recalled how faithfully and powerfully God’s word had brought him life in the past, he then found comfort in his present affliction.

i. “It would seem as though this section expressed the feelings of one in the midst of affliction. It does not sing the song of deliverance therefrom. The word is distinctly, ‘This is my comfort in my affliction.’” (Morgan).

ii. In this stanza there is no specific prayer for help. Instead, there are “…statements by the writer that he trusts what God has written in his law and will continue to love it and obey its teachings. It is a way of acknowledging that suffering is common to human beings.” (Boice).

iii. In the midst of affliction, the psalmist proclaims his comfort: this is my comfort. “The worldling clutches his money-bag, and says, ‘this is my comfort’; the spendthrift points to his gaiety and shouts, ‘this is my comfort’; the drunkard lifts his glass and sings, ‘this is my comfort’; but the man whose hope comes from God feels the life-giving power of the word of the Lord, and he testifies, ‘this is my comfort.’” (Spurgeon).

iv. My comfort…my affliction: In the midst of an affliction suited to the individual, the believer can also enjoy a comfort specifically suited to him. It is my affliction, and it is my comfort.

d. Your word has given me life: All should remember (especially preachers) that the word of God gives life; the preacher does not give it life. It isn’t as if the poor, dead word of God lay lifeless until the wonderful preacher came and breathed life into it. Instead, the word of God gives life – especially to dead preachers.

2. (51-52) God’s word adds strength to comfort.

The proud have me in great derision,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.
I remembered Your judgments of old, O LORD,
And have comforted myself.

a. The proud have me in great derision: In this section as well as the previous, the idea is that the psalmist is mocked and reproached for his love and trust in God’s word. These proud mockers look at the psalmist and his dedication to the word of God, and they hold him in great derision.

i. And so it has ever been: those who love and trust God’s word – especially with the depth and passion reflected by the psalmist in this mighty psalm –are mocked by the proud who want nothing to do with God and His word.

b. Yet I do not turn aside from Your law: We almost sense a note of defiance in the psalmist. No matter how great the derision that comes from the proud, he will hold faithful to God and His word.

i. Great harm has been done to the cause of God when believers find themselves unable to endure this great derision, and they begin to down-grade their view of God’s word and its inerrant character. Hoping to appease or impress the proud, they lead themselves and others to trust and love God’s word less. Such ones should instead find their strength and comfort in these very passages and declare, “Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.”.

ii. “Christian! Be satisfied with the approbation of your God. Has he not adopted you by his Spirit, sealed you for his kingdom? And is not this ‘honour that cometh from God only’ enough – far more than enough – to counterbalance the derision of the proud?” (Bridges).

c. I remembered Your judgments of old, O LORD, and have comforted myself: When challenged to lessen his confidence and trust in God’s word by the proud mockers, the psalmist wisely responded by increasing his confidence in God’s word! Therein he comforted himself.

i. The proud who hold the simple believer in great derision enjoy the applause and honor of some in this world; but they can never know the comfort that the psalmist wrote of here.

ii. There was specific comfort in remembering Your judgments of old, O LORD. In a similar way, we are comforted and strengthened in hope as we remember how God has dealt with men and circumstances in the past. “The grinning of the proud will not trouble us when we remember how the Lord dealt with their predecessors in bygone periods; he destroyed them at the deluge, he confounded them at Babel, he drowned them at the Red Sea, he drove them out of Canaan: he has in all ages bared his arm against the haughty, and broken them as potters’ vessels.” (Spurgeon).

iii. “When we see no present display of the divine power it is wise to fall back upon the records of former ages, since they are just as available as if the transactions were of yesterday, seeing the Lord is always the same.” (Spurgeon).

3. (53-56) Describing the comfort and strength the word of God brings.

Indignation has taken hold of me
Because of the wicked, who forsake Your law.
Your statutes have been my songs
In the house of my pilgrimage.
I remember Your name in the night, O LORD,
And I keep Your law.
This has become mine,
Because I kept Your precepts.

a. Indignation has taken hold of me: When the psalmist thought of the wicked – perhaps the proud who held him and others who trusted in God’s word in great derision – it made him indignant. He recognized their great sin: who forsake Your law.

i. Those who deny or depreciate God’s word do just this – they forsake the word of God. Worse yet, they often lead others to do the same. Jesus graphically described the penalty for those who lead others astray (Luke 17:1-2).

b. Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage: God’s word (Your statutes) makes him sing with joy and confidence. Those who know the power of singing God’s word have great comfort in the house of their pilgrimage.

i. Even as Paul and Silas could sing in the midst of suffering (Acts 16:25), so could the psalmist. Even as a pilgrim, not yet home and afflicted, he could sing unto his God.

ii. “A pilgrim is a person who is travelling through one country to another…. We are hurrying through this world as through a foreign land. We are in this country, not as residents, but only as visitors, who take this country en route for glory.” (Spurgeon).

iii. “Since our songs are so very different from those of the proud, we may expect to join a very different choir at the last, and sing in a place far removed from their abode.” (Spurgeon).

c. I remember Your name in the night, O LORD: This is true both literally and figuratively. In the dark of night when fears and anxieties often rush in upon us, the psalmist finds comfort in the name of the LORD, revealed to him by God’s word. Yet this comfort is also real in the figurative night that believers may face.

i. The words following – And I keep Your law – remind us that the remembrance of God in the night made for an obedient life with God in the daytime. “The good effect of hours thus secretly passed in holy exercises, will appear openly in our lives and conversations.” (Horne).

ii. “If we have no memory for the name of Jehovah we are not likely to remember his commandments: if we do not think of him secretly we shall not obey him openly.” (Spurgeon).

d. This has become mine: This is a glorious, triumphant statement from the psalmist. The power, goodness, comfort, and strength of God’s word are not only ideas or theories to him. By faith – faith that has come by God’s word (Romans 10:17) – he can rightly say, This has become mine!

i. “…‘this’ being the cheer and comfort so tellingly described in Psalm 119:54f. Although obedience does not earn these blessings, it turns us around to receive them.” (Kidner).

ii. “We are not rewarded for our works, but there is a reward in them.” (Spurgeon).

e. Because I kept Your precepts: The psalmist enjoys this triumph not only because he knows the word of God, but also because he obeys them (I kept Your precepts). It isn’t that the psalmist claims perfect obedience (as shown in the next verses, Psalm 119:57-58), but a life generally lived in faithfulness to the word of God.

H. Heth ח: Hurrying to God with all my heart.

1. (57-58) Loyalty proclaimed and mercy requested.

You are my portion, O LORD;
I have said that I would keep Your words.
I entreated Your favor with my whole heart;
Be merciful to me according to Your word.

a. You are my portion, O LORD: These are the words of a satisfied soul. The psalmist is satisfied with the portion received, and that portion is the LORD Himself.

i. Spurgeon observed that this was “…a broken sentence. The translators have mended it by insertions, but perhaps it had been better to have left it alone, and then it would have appeared as an exclamation, – ‘My portion, O Lord!’”.

ii. “The psalmist is saying that, like the Levites, he wants his portion of divine blessing to be God himself since nothing is better and nothing will ever fully satisfy his or anyone else’s heart but God himself. To possess God is truly to have everything.” (Boice).

iii. We understand this in the broader context of this psalm. The LORD Himself is satisfaction to the psalmist because God has come to him through His word. It isn’t as if the word of God is in one place, and the psalmist must go to another place for experience of and satisfaction in God. He can say, “You are my portion, O LORD, and I receive that portion as You meet me in Your word and I live it out.”.

iv. Thomas Brooks – quoted in Spurgeon – said that we could answer every temptation with the reply, “The Lord is my portion.” If He truly is our portion, we don’t need to look for satisfaction in fleshly pursuits.

v. “He is an exceedingly covetous fellow to whom God is not sufficient; and he is an exceeding fool to whom the world is sufficient. For God is an inexhaustible treasury of all riches, sufficing innumerable men; while the world has mere trifles and fascinations to offer, and leads the soul into deep and sorrowful poverty.” (Thomas Le Blanc, cited in Spurgeon).

b. I have said that I would keep Your words: This promise would be an empty vow without the empowering of God in our lives. When we have a close connection with God and receive and enjoy Him as our portion, we also receive strength to keep His words.

i. “But if we take the Lord as our portion, we must take him as our king…. Here is the Christian complete – taking the Lord as his portion, and his word as his rule.” (Bridges).

ii. He was public in this statement of his intentions. “I have said; I have not only purposed it in my own heart, but have professed and owned it before others, and I do not repent of it.” (Poole).

c. I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; be merciful to me according to Your word: Here the psalmist understood both the urgency to seek and please God, and the inability to completely do so.

i. The words translated Your favor are literally, “Your face.” To enjoy the face of God is to experience His favor. The psalmist here declares that he has sought the face of God.

ii. He sought the face of God with a sense of urgency, reflected in the words entreated and whole heart. The psalmist understood how important it was to seek the favor of God and to please Him with his life.

iii. He sought the face of God with a sense of inability, shown in the request be merciful to me. No matter how diligently the psalmist would seek after God and seek to please Him, he would always remain in need of mercy.

d. Be merciful to me according to Your word: This is a blessed and glorious apparent contradiction. The request for mercy is not based on it being a right, or that he deserves it. The psalmist speaks as one who expects mercy according to the promise of God’s word.

i. While we have no natural right to mercy, there is a spiritual right to mercy for all who ask according to His promise.

2. (59-60) A life directed toward God’s word.

I thought about my ways,
And turned my feet to Your testimonies.
I made haste, and did not delay
To keep Your commandments.

a. I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies: Time spent in God’s word has given the psalmist sober reflection about his ways. This gave the insight necessary to turn in the right direction.

i. “While studying the word he was led to study his own life, and this caused a mighty revolution. He came to the word, and then he came to himself, and this made him arise and go to his father.” (Spurgeon).

ii. “Blaise Pascal, the brilliant French philosopher and devout Christian, loved Psalm 119. He is another person who had memorized it, and he called verse 59 ‘the turning point of man’s character and destiny.’ He meant that it is vital for every person to consider his or her ways, understand that our ways are destructive and will lead us to destruction, and then make an about-face and determine to go in God’s ways instead.” (Boice).

iii. I thought about my ways: “How many, on the other hand, seem to pass through the world into eternity without a serious thought on their ways! Multitudes live for the world – forget God and die! This is their history.” (Bridges).

b. I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments: Once on the right path (with the feet having been turned), the psalmist can now speed his way in the course of obedience.

i. It is dangerous to make haste on a wrong path; it is glorious to make haste on the right way. We can also say that making haste to God is a sign of revival. When God is moving in power, people make haste to get right with him.

ii. “Speed in repentance and speed in obedience are two excellent things. We are too often in haste to sin; O that we may be in a greater hurry to obey.” (Spurgeon).

iii. Did not delay: “The original word, which we translate delayed not, is amazingly emphatical…. I did not stand what-what-whating; or, as we used to express the same sentiment, shilly-shallying with myself: I was determined, and so set out. The Hebrew word, as well as the English, strongly marks indecision of mind, positive action being suspended, because the mind is so unfixed as not to be able to make a choice.” (Clarke).

iv. “Delay is the word used of Lot as he ‘lingered’, reluctant to leave Sodom [Genesis 19:16].” (Kidner).

3. (61-62) Faithfulness to God’s word in adversity.

The cords of the wicked have bound me,
But I have not forgotten Your law.
At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You,
Because of Your righteous judgments.

a. The cords of the wicked have bound me, but I have not forgotten Your law: The psalmist was attacked and afflicted by adversaries; but they could not make him forget or forsake the law of God.

b. At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You: The heart and the mind of the psalmist are so filled with thanks and appreciation toward God that he finds his sleep interrupted by these high thoughts.

i. I will rise: “The Psalmist observed posture; he did not lie in bed and praise. There is not much in the position of the body, but there is something, and that something is to be observed whenever it is helpful to devotion and expressive of our diligence or humility.” (Spurgeon).

ii. Thomas Manton (cited in Spurgeon) listed several notable lessons to be drawn from the psalmist’s midnight devotion:.

·  His devotion was earnest and passionate; the daylight hours did not give him enough time to thank God.

·  His devotion to God was sincere, shown by its secrecy. He was willing to thank God when no one else could see him or be impressed by his devotion.

·  He regarded time as precious; he even used the hours normally given to sleep for devotion to God.

·  He regarded devotion to God as more important than natural refreshment. He was willing to sacrifice a legitimate thing (sleep) for the pursuit of God.

·  He showed great reverence to God even in secret devotion, by rising up to praise Him. Praise requires something of both soul and body.

4. (63-64) Friendship with those who are friends of God’s word.

I am a companion of all who fear You,
And of those who keep Your precepts.
The earth, O LORD, is full of Your mercy;
Teach me Your statutes.

a. I am a companion of all who fear You: The psalmist enjoyed the special fellowship present among those who honor and hold God’s word, of those who keep Your precepts.

i. This wonderful companionship is the testimony of countless Christians, who experience warm fellowship across the lines of race, class, nationality, and education.

ii. “These then are the Lord’s people; and union with him is in fact union with them…. To meet the Christian in ordinary courtesy, not in unity of heart, is a sign of an unspiritual walk with God.” (Bridges).

iii. “If then we are not ashamed to confess ourselves Christians, let us not shrink from walking in fellowship with Christians. Even if they should exhibit some repulsive features of character, they bear the image of him, whom we profess to love.” (Bridges).

b. The earth, O LORD, is full of Your mercy: Having experienced this broad companionship, the psalmist felt the goodness of God filling the earth. This experience of God’s mercy increased his desire for knowledge and obedience (teach me Your statutes).

i. We see again the course of a never-ending cycle. The pursuit of God in and through His word leads to satisfaction and blessing. That satisfaction and blessing leads to a deeper pursuit, leading to even more satisfaction and blessing.

ii. When one lives in this glorious cycle, it feels as if the whole earth is full of the mercy of God. It is a glorious, blessed life with the experience of mercy all around.

I. Teth ט: God’s word brings benefit from a time of affliction.

1. (65-66) A prayer of praise and petition.

You have dealt well with Your servant,
O LORD, according to Your word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
For I believe Your commandments.

a. You have dealt well with Your servant, O LORD, according to Your word: This section begins with a note of gratitude. The psalmist finds himself thankful for God’s good dealing toward him, and that blessings have come according to His word.

i. We don’t think about it enough, but it is wonderfully true that You have dealt well with Your servant, O LORD. Think of all the ways God has dealt well with us. He chose us, He called us, He drew us to Himself. He rescued us, He declared us righteous, He forgave us, He put His Spirit within us, He adopted us into His family. He loves us, He makes us kings and priests and co-workers with Him, and He rewards all our work for Him.

ii. According to Your word implies that the psalmist not only knew the promises of God and pled them in prayer (as in Psalm 119:49); he also received the promises by faith and experienced them.

iii. This should be the life experience of every child of God. We know that God has deal well with us, and we know that it has been according to His word.

iv. “When we are thus reaping the fruitful discipline of our Father’s school (Hebrews 12:11), must we not put a fresh seal to our testimony – Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord? But why should we delay our acknowledgment till we come out of our trial? Ought we not to give it even in the midst of our ‘heaviness?’” (Bridges).

b. Teach me good judgment and knowledge: This prayer for wisdom comes from a blessed life. Having received this well-dealing from God, the psalmist understood the need to live in good judgment and knowledge. The blessings were given to him for wise and obedient living to the glory of God.

i. Good judgment: “…Hebrew, the goodness of taste, an experimental sense and relish of divine things.” (Poole).

ii. “Judgment, here, is literally ‘taste’, not in our sense of artistic judgment, but of spiritual discrimination: ‘for the ear tests words as the palate tastes food’ (Job 34:3). Cf. Hebrews 5:14.” (Kidner).

iii. We far too easily forget our great need to learn good judgment and knowledge, and are far too ready to trust our own heart and conscience. “The faculty of conscience partakes, with every other power of man, of the injury of the fall; and therefore, with all its intelligence, honesty, and power, it is liable to misconception…. Conscience, therefore, must not be trusted without the light of the word of God; and most important is the prayer – Teach me good judgment and knowledge.” (Bridges).

iv. “No school, but the school of Christ – no teaching, but the teaching of the Spirit – can ever give this good judgment and knowledge.” (Bridges).

c. For I believe Your commandments: He wanted God to teach him because he really did believe the commands and words of God. If we really do believe His word, then we should want Him to teach us to live wisely and obediently.

2. (67-68) The goodness of God seen even in correction.

Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.
You are good, and do good;
Teach me Your statutes.

a. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word: The psalmist speaks here of lessons learned the hard way. There was a time when he was far more likely to go astray from God’s word and the wise life revealed in it. Yet, under a season of affliction, he was now devoted to the word of God.

i. This principle has been demonstrated in nearly everyone who has pursued God. This is one reason why God appoints affliction for His people (1 Thessalonians 3:3).

ii. “Often our trials act as a thorn hedge to keep us in the good pasture, but our prosperity is a gap through which we go astray.” (Spurgeon).

iii. Bridges relates an old church prayer: In all time of our wealth – Good Lord, deliver us! “A time of wealth is indeed a time of special need. It is hard to restrain the flesh, when so many are the baits for its indulgence.” (Bridges).

iv. “As the scourging and beating of the garment with a stick beateth out the moths and dust, so do afflictions [beat out] corruptions from the heart.” (Trapp).

v. “Many have been humbled under affliction, and taught to know themselves and humble themselves before God, that probably without this could never have been saved; after this, they have been serious and faithful. Affliction sanctified is a great blessing; unsanctified, it is an additional curse.” (Clarke).

vi. “We gain solace here by remembering what the Bible says even of Jesus, ‘Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered’ (Hebrews 5:8).” (Boice).

b. You are good, and do good; teach me Your statutes: This important and precious line follows the recognition of affliction and the good it has done in life. The psalmist did not become bitter or resentful toward God for the affliction that brought him to greater obedience.

i. Despite the affliction – which we should regard as genuine – he proclaimed, “You are good, and do good.” In fact, he even wanted more instruction from God, saying “Teach me Your statutes.” This is said with the implicit understanding that this teaching might require more affliction; yet it was the psalmist’s desire. This shows how confident he was in the goodness of God.

ii. “Affliction is not the most frequently mentioned matter…. The most prominent word in these verses is ‘good.’ This is the teth stanza. Teth is the first letter of the Hebrew word ‘good’ (tov), so it was a natural thought for the composer of the psalm to use ‘good’ at the beginning of these verses.” (Boice).

iii. In the most basic sense, this is praise for who God is (You are good), and praise for what God does (and do good). These are always two wonderful reasons for praise.

3. (69-70) Delight in God’s law despite attacks from adversaries.

The proud have forged a lie against me,
But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart.
Their heart is as fat as grease,
But I delight in Your law.

a. The proud have forged a lie against me: In reading of the godly and humble character of the psalmist, it is almost shocking to hear that he has enemies who carefully forged a lie against him. Yet he explains how this is possible: they are the proud, who are no doubt convicted in conscience and spiteful of his humble, obedient, teachable life before God.

i. “If the Lord does us good, we must expect Satan to do us evil…he readily puts it into the hearts of his children to forge lies against the children of God!” (Bridges).

ii. “To such slanders and calumnies, a good life is the best answer. When a friend once told Plato, what scandalous stories his enemies had propagated concerning him, – I will live so, replied the great Philosopher, that nobody shall believe them.” (Horne).

b. But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart: The lies of the proud did not distract or overly discourage the psalmist. Instead, he dedicated himself to greater obedience and honor of God, pledging to obey Him with his whole heart.

i. “If the mud which is thrown at us does not blind our eyes or bruise our integrity it will do us little harm. If we keep the precepts, the precepts will keep us in the day of [insults] and slander.” (Spurgeon).

c. Their heart is as fat as grease, but I delight in Your law: Their fat heart was not good for their physical or spiritual health. It meant that their hearts were dull, insensitive, and drowning in luxury and excess. In contrast, the psalmist found delight in the word of God.

i. “The tremendous blow of almighty justice has benumbed his heart…. ‘seared with a hot iron’ (1 Timothy 4:2), and therefore without tenderness; ‘past feeling’ (Ephesians 4:19); unsoftened by the power of the word.” (Bridges).

ii. “There is and always ought to be a vivid contrast between the believer and the sensualist, and that contrast is as much seen in the affections of the heart as in the actions of the life: their heart is as fat as grease, and our heart is delighted with the law of the Lord.” (Spurgeon).

iii. “As if he should say, My heart is a lean heart, a hungry heart, my soul loveth and rejoiceth in thy word. I have nothing else to fill it but thy word, and the comforts I have from it; but their hearts are fat hearts; fat with the world, fat with lust; they hate the word. As a full stomach loatheth meat and cannot digest it; so wicked men hate the word, it will not go down with them, it will not gratify their lusts.” (William Fenner, cited in Spurgeon).

4. (71-72) Appreciation for the goodness of God even in seasons of affliction.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes.
The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of coins of gold and silver.

a. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes: The psalmist repeats the idea from earlier in this section (Psalm 119:67). This repetition is an effective way to communicate emphasis. Affliction, brought under the wisdom and guidance of God’s word, did genuine good in his life.

i. “I, for my part, owe more, I think, to the anvil and to the hammer, to the fire and to the file, than to anything else. I bless the Lord for the correctives of his providence by which, if he has blessed me on the one hand with sweets, he has blessed me on the other hand with bitters.” (Spurgeon).

ii. “‘I never’ – said Luther – ‘knew the meaning of God’s word, until I came into affliction. I have always found it one of my best schoolmasters.’” (Bridges).

iii. Yet we must guard against the misunderstanding that seasons of affliction automatically make one better or godlier. Sadly, there are many who are worse from their affliction – because they fail to turn to God’s word for wisdom and life-guidance in such times. The worst affliction of all is a wasted affliction, wasted because we did not turn to God and gained nothing from it.

iv. This also shows how valuable the learning of God’s word was to the psalmist. It was entirely worth it for him to endure affliction, if only he could learn the statutes of God in the process. This made a time of painful affliction worthwhile.

v. “Very little is to be learned without affliction. If we would be scholars we must be sufferers…God’s commands are best read by eyes wet with tears.” (Spurgeon).

vi. “By affliction God separates the sin which he hates from the soul which he loves.” (John Mason, cited in Spurgeon).

b. The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver: This is a logical extension of the thought in the previous verse. If the psalmist understands that even trouble can be good if it teaches him the word of God – if it is more valuable than his comfort – then it is also possible to say that it is more valuable than riches.

i. This great estimation of the word of God came from a life that had known affliction. It was love and appreciation from the field of battle, not the palaces of ease and comfort.

ii. “Herbert Lockyer recounts a story concerning the largest Bible in the world, a Hebrew manuscript weighing 320 pounds in the Vatican library. Long ago a group of Italian Jews asked to see this Bible and when they had seen it they told their friends in Venice about it. As a result a syndicate of Russian Jews tried to buy it, offering the church the weight of the book in gold. Julius the Second was Pope at that time, and he refused the offer, even though the value of such a large amount of gold was enormous…. Today we pay little to possess multiple copies of God’s Word. But do we value it? In many cases, I am afraid not.” (Boice).

iii. “Who can say this? Who prefers the law of his God, the Christ that bought him, and the heaven to which he hopes to go, when he can live no longer upon earth, to thousands of gold and silver? Yea, how many are there who, like Judas, sell their Saviour even for thirty pieces of silver? Hear this, ye lovers of the world and of money!” (Clarke).

iv. “The word of God must be nearer to us than our friends, dearer to us than our lives, sweeter to us than our liberty, and pleasanter to us than all earthly comforts.” (John Mason, cited in Spurgeon).

J. Yod י: Confidence in the Creator and His Word.

The yod stanza represents the small Hebrew letter Jesus referred to as a “jot” in Matthew 5:18: Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

1. (73) Surrendering to the word of the Creator.

Your hands have made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.

a. Your hands have made me: Here the psalmist proclaimed God as Creator, and understood certain obligations to God because he was fashioned by the hands of God.

i. Fashioned me: “The reference to God forming him is a deliberate echo of Genesis 2, which says God ‘formed man from the dust of the ground’ (Genesis 2:7).” (Boice).

ii. The modern age, with its widespread denial of a Creator God, has a much lower sense of obligation to God as Creator. Despite the deeply seated rejection of God as Creator, man’s obligation to his Maker remains. The psalmist understood what many today forget or deny.

iii. To say that God is our Creator is to recognize:.

·  That we are obligated to Him as the One who gives us life.

·  That we respect Him as One who is greater and smarter than we are.

·  That He, as our designer, knows what is best for us.

·  That since our beginning is connected to the invisible world, so our end will be also.

iv. “The consideration, that God made us, is here urged as an argument why he should not forsake and reject us, since every artist hath a value for his own work, proportioned to its excellence. It is, at the same time, and acknowledgement of the service we owe him, founded on the relation which a creature beareth to his Creator.” (Horne).

v. “If God had roughly made us, and had not also elaborately fashioned us, this argument would lose much of its force; but surely from the delicate art and marvellous skill which the Lord has shown in the formation of the human body, we may infer that he is prepared to take equal pains with the soul till it shall perfectly bear his image.” (Spurgeon).

vi. Your hands: “‘Oh look upon the wounds of thine hands, and forget not the work of thine hands,’ as Queen Elizabeth prayed.” (Trapp).

b. Give me understanding: In his thoughts of God as Creator, the psalmist prayed for understanding. He recognized that this was something often misunderstood, and one could ask for and expect help in understanding both how God created us and what our obligations are to our Maker.

i. We gain much understanding by considering God as Creator, and especially as the Creator of man. “Every part of creation bears the impress of God. Man – man alone – bears his image, his likeness. Everywhere we see his track – his footsteps. Here we behold his face.” (Bridges).

Who Do You Say I Am?

VERSE OF THE DAY

Matthew 16:15-16 (New Living Translation)

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Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Then Jesus asked the people, his deciples, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter spoke saying “You are the messiah, the son the living God”

What Does Matthew 16:15 Mean? ►

“But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?”

Matthew 16:15(HCSB)

Verse Thoughts

Speculation about the identity and origin of Jesus Christ was as widespread among the people of the first century as it is within today’s modern generation. Imaginations overflowed with ideas and postulations of where He was from and who He could be and why He had come and what they should do about Him. There were some equally preposterous suggestions then as to who they thought that Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Man, was as there are in this day and age.

They had seen His signs, had witnessed His healings, and were aware of His miraculous birth. They had heard His authoritative teachings and were anticipating a coming Messiah as prophesied by in the Hebrew Scriptures. They had heard the astonishing claims of this ‘Teacher’ Who swept aside the deeply entrenched traditional teachings of the elders by declaring, “You have heard it said of old, but I say unto you,” and they were fully aware of His Messianic claims, as He proclaimed, “I am the Good Shepherd,” and “I am the door of the sheepfold.” “I am the Bread of Life that came down from heaven,” and “I am the Living Water,” that will refresh your weary souls and come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you the Sabbath rest that God promised you so long ago.

Oh yes, the people of the first century were equally aware of the claims of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, as are today’s modern generation. They were equally aware of His claims to be God incarnate – the Word made flesh – the Son of the Father – the 2nd Person of the eternal Trinity, but like the people of today, they preferred to speculate on the false assumptions that flooded their depraved imaginations, as do the people of today.

“But you,” He asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I AM?” And the eternal destiny of His disciples, along with the eternal destiny of every individual who ever walked this earth, rests on the response to that question.

So… who do YOU say that Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Man, is…?

My Prayer

Gracious Lord and Heavenly King, how can I ever thank You enough for setting aside the glory that You had with the Father from before the creation of the world. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, Who died for my sin and rose again so that I may live. Praise Your holy name, AMEN.

Source: https://dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com/matthew-16-15

Source: https://dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com/matthew-16-15

What Jesus Did! ‘Christ, Son of God!’ — Matthew 16:15-16

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Then [Jesus] asked [his disciples], “But who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Matthew 16:15-16 NLT

Key Thought

Peter’s answer is simple but profound: “”You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Effectively, he was saying, “You are ‘The One’ God has promised for all these years. This is what I believe!”

Salvation today still hinges on fully relying on Jesus as our Savior. There is no one else on whom salvation can depend. The central issue in our lives then becomes whether or not we truly believe that Jesus Christ, our Lord, is the Son of God and whether or not we live our lives differently from the world because of that faith!

Today’s Prayer

Almighty God, how can I ever begin to thank you for sending Jesus?! Help me live with him as Lord over all of my life. In Jesus’ mighty name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

John 20:30-31

Acts 16:29-34

1 John 3:23

David Guzik

On December 9, 2015, 5:56 am

Matthew Chapter 16

Matthew 16 – Revealing Who Jesus Is and What He Came to Do

A. Warnings against the Sadducees and the Pharisees.

1. (1-4) The Sadducees and the Pharisees seek a sign from Jesus.

Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.

a. Then the Pharisees and Sadducees: Their working together showed a deep fear among the religious leaders. The Sadducees and Pharisees were long-standing enemies, and the fact that they came together against Jesus shows they regarded Him as a serious threat.

i. “It is an extraordinary phenomenon to find a combination of the Pharisees and Sadducees. They stood for both beliefs and policies which were diametrically opposed.” (Barclay)

· The Pharisees lived according to the smallest points of the oral and scribal law; the Sadducees received only the written words of the Hebrew Scriptures.

· The Pharisees believed in angels and the resurrection; the Sadducees did not (Paul used this division in Acts 23:6-10).

· The Pharisees were not a political party and were prepared to live under any government that would leave them alone to practice their religion the way they wanted to; the Sadducees were aristocrats and collaborated with the Romans to keep their wealth and power.

· The Pharisees looked for and longed for the Messiah; the Sadducees did not.

ii. Yet for all these differences, Jesus brought them together. Not in a good way – they came together in opposition to Jesus, but they came together nonetheless.

b. And testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven: Jesus had done many signs and they remained unconvinced. They looked for a sign from heaven such as calling down fire from heaven, preferably against a Roman legion. They said they were not convinced by the signs “on earth” Jesus had already done.

i. Jesus had already been asked for a sign in Matthew 12:38, and in response He had already pointed them to the sign of Jonah. Tradition held that a sign done on earth could be a counterfeit from Satan, but signs done from heaven (coming in or from the sky) were assumed to be from God.

ii. “The immediate demand of the Jewish leaders for a sign from heaven contrasts sharply with the Gentile crowd’s response to Jesus’ miracles (Matthew 15:31).” (France)

c. Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times: Jesus condemned their hypocrisy. They felt confident about predicting the weather from the signs they saw around them, but were blind to the signs regarding Jesus’ Messianic credentials right before their eyes.

i. “The proof that they cannot discern the ‘signs’ is that they ask for a sign!” (Carson)

ii. Jesus wasn’t the only one to notice the hypocrisy in His day. The Jews of Jesus’ day had a proverb saying that if all the hypocrites in the world were divided into ten parts, Jerusalem would contain nine of the ten parts.

iii. You cannot discern the signs of the times: Jesus said this of the religious leaders of His own day regarding the signs of His first coming. There were prophecies, circumstances, and evidences that should have made it clear to them as signs of the times that the Messiah had come. Many people today are just as blind to the signs of the times regarding the second coming of Jesus.

d. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign: This statement of Jesus reminds us that signs alone convert no one. It is easy to place far too much confidence in signs and wonders as tools to bring people to faith in Jesus.

i. The problem isn’t that the signs are themselves weak, but that a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after them. The Bible gives repeated examples of those who saw remarkable signs, yet did not believe.

e. No sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah: Jesus promised a sign that would have power to bring people to faith – His resurrection. He had previously mentioned the sign of the prophet Jonah in Matthew 12:39-41, clearly explaining it as His coming resurrection.

i. We remember some of the similarities between Jonah and Jesus:

· Jonah sacrificed himself that others would be saved.

· Jonah disappeared from all human view in doing this.

· Jonah was sustained the days when he could not be seen.

· Jonah came back after three days, as back from the dead.

· Jonah preached repentance.

2. (5-12) Jesus cautions the disciples against false teaching.

Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?; but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

a. Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees: After the preceding conflict with the religious leaders, Jesus gave this warning to His disciples, using the metaphor of leaven.

i. As noted previously in the parable of the leaven (Matthew 13:33), leaven is consistently used as a picture of sin and corruption (especially in the Passover narrative of Exodus 12:8, 12:15-20).

ii. “It was the Jewish metaphorical expression for an evil influence. To the Jewish mind leaven was always symbolic of evil…leaven stood for an evil influence liable to spread through life and to corrupt it.” (Barclay) “False doctrine; which is fitly called leaven, because it soureth, swelleth, spreadeth, corrupteth the whole lump, and all this secretly.” (Trapp)

b. It is because we have taken no bread: This was a strange concern after Jesus had, in the recent past, miraculously fed both crowds exceeding 5,000 and 4,000 people. The disciples didn’t understand Jesus at all here and His use of leaven as a metaphor.

i. “Our memories are naturally like hour-glasses, no sooner filled with good instructions and experiments than running out again. It must be our prayer to God that he would put his finger upon the hole, and so make our memories like the pot of manna, preserving holy truths in the ark of the soul.” (Trapp)

c. Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees: Jesus impressed the importance of being on guard against false teaching, especially that in the service of religious hypocrisy.

i. Jesus charged His disciples with three things:

· Ignorance, because they didn’t understand that He was using material things (leaven) to illustrate spiritual things (the dangerous teachings and practices of the Sadducees and Pharisees).

· Unbelief, because they were overly concerned with the supply of bread, when they had seen Jesus miraculously provide bread on several previous occasions.

· Forgetfulness, because they seemed to forget what Jesus had done before in regard to providing bread.

B. Peter proclaims Jesus as Messiah.

1. (13) Jesus asks the disciples to tell Him who others say He is.

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

a. When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi: Jesus again withdrew from the mainly Jewish region of Galilee and came to a place more populated by Gentiles. This was likely a retreat from the pressing crowds.

i. “Caesarea Philippi lies about twenty-five miles [46 kilometers] north-east of the Sea of Galilee…The population was mainly non-Jewish, and there Jesus would have peace to teach the Twelve.” (Barclay)

b. Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? Jesus did not ask this question because He didn’t know who He was, or because He had an unfortunate dependence on the opinion of others. He asked this question as an introduction to a more important follow-up question.

i. Caesarea Philippi was an area associated with idols and rival deities. “The area was scattered with temples of the ancient Syrian Baal worship…Hard by Caesarea Philippi there rose a great hill, in which was a deep cavern; and that cavern was said to be the birthplace of the great god Pan, the god of nature…In Caesarea Philippi there was a great temple of white marble built to the godhead of Caesar…It is as if Jesus deliberately set himself against the background of the world’s religions in all their history and splendour, and demanded to be compared to them and to have the verdict given in his favour.” (Barclay)

2. (14-16) A pointed question and a pointed answer.

So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

a. Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets: People who thought that Jesus was John the Baptist, didn’t know much about Him, and they didn’t know that Jesus and John had ministered at the same time. Yet John, Elijah, and Jeremiah (along with other prophets) were national reformers who stood up to the corrupt rulers of their day.

i. Some thought Jesus was a herald of national repentance, like John the Baptist and some thought Jesus was a famous worker of miracles, like Elijah. Some thought Jesus was someone who spoke the words of God, like Jeremiah and the prophets.

ii. Perhaps in seeing Jesus in these roles, people hoped for a political messiah who would overthrow the corrupt powers oppressing Israel.

iii. The general tendency in all these answers was to underestimate Jesus; to give Him a measure of respect and honor, but to fall far short of honoring Him for who He really is.

b. Who do you say that I am? It was fine for the disciples to know what others thought about Jesus. But Jesus had to ask them, as individuals, what they believed about Him.

i. This is the question placed before all who hear of Jesus; and it is we, not He, who are judged by our answer. In fact, we answer this question every day by what we believe and do. If we really believe Jesus is who He says He is, it will affect the way that we live.

ii. “Our Lord presupposes that his disciples would not have the same thoughts as ‘men’ had. They would not follow the spirit of the age, and shape their views by those of the ‘cultured’ persons of the period.” (Spurgeon)

c. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God: Peter knew the opinion of the crowd – while it was complimentary towards Jesus – wasn’t accurate. Jesus was much more than John the Baptist or Elijah or a prophet. He was more than a national reformer, more than a miracle worker, more than a prophet. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.

i. We can surmise that this was an understanding that Peter and the other disciples came to over time. In the beginning, they were attracted to Jesus as a remarkable and unusual rabbi. They committed themselves to Him as His disciples or students, as was practiced in that day. Yet over time Peter – and presumably others of the disciples by this point – understood that Jesus was in fact not only the Messiah (the Christ), but also the Son of the living God.

ii. Peter understood that Jesus was not only God’s Messiah, but also God Himself. The Jews properly thought that to receive the title “the Son of the living God,” in a unique sense, was to make a claim to deity itself.

iii. “The adjective living may perhaps have been included to contrast the one true God with the local deities (Caesarea Philippi was a centre of the worship of Pan).” (France)

3. (17-20) Jesus compliments Peter for His bold and correct declaration.

Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.

a. Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven: Jesus reveals to Peter that he spoke by divine inspiration, even if he didn’t even know it at the time. In this, Peter was genuinely blessed – both by the insight itself and how it came to him.

i. We too often expect God to speak in strange and unnatural ways. Here God spoke through Peter so naturally that he didn’t even realize it was the Father who is in heaven that revealed it to him.

ii. This also speaks to us of our need for a supernatural revelation of Jesus. “If you know no more of Jesus than flesh and blood has revealed to you, it has brought you no more blessing than the conjectures of their age brought to the Pharisees and Sadducees, who remained an adulterous and unbelieving generation.” (Spurgeon)

b. I also say to you that you are Peter: This was not only recognition of Peter’s more Roman name; it was also a promise of God’s work in Peter. The name Peter means “Rock.” Though perhaps unlikely, Peter was a rock, and would become a rock. God was and would transform his naturally extreme character into something solid and reliable.

c. On this rock I will build My church: The words this rock have been the source of much controversy. It is best to see them as referring to either Jesus Himself (perhaps Jesus gesturing to Himself as He said this), or as referring to Peter’s confession of who Jesus is.

i. Peter, by His own testimony, did not see himself as the rock on which the church was founded. He wrote that we are living stones, but Jesus is the cornerstone. We could say that Peter was the “first believer”; that he was the “first rock” among “many rocks.”

ii. Peter said as much in 1 Peter 2:4-5: Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

d. I will build My church: This is the first use of the word church in the New Testament (or the Bible for that matter), using the ancient Greek word ekklesia. Significantly, this was well before the beginnings of what we normally think of as the church on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.

i. This shows that Jesus was anticipating or prophesying what would come from these disciples/apostles and those who would believe in their message that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

ii. The ancient Greek word ekklesia was not primarily a religious word at all; it just meant, “group” or “called-out group.” In describing the later group of His followers and disciples, Jesus deliberately chose a word without a distinctly religious meaning.

iii. Furthermore, this statement of Jesus was a clear claim of ownership (My church). The church belongs to Jesus. This was also a claim to deity: “What is striking is…the boldness of Jesus’ description of it as my community, rather than God’s.” (France)

iv. Taken together, the promise is wonderful:

· He brings His people together in common: I will build.

· He builds on a firm foundation: On this rock I will build.

· He builds something that belongs to Him: My church.

· He builds it into a stronghold: the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

e. And the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it: Jesus also offered a promise – that the forces of death and darkness can’t prevail against or conquer the church. This is a valuable promise in dark or discouraging times for the church.

i. The Puritan commentator John Trapp explained the gates of Hades this way: “All the power and policy of hell combined.”

ii. “Neither doth hell signify here the place of the damned…but either death, or the graves, or the state of the dead: yet the devil is also understood here, as he that hath the power of death, Hebrews 2:14.” (Poole)

iii. “The gates of hell, i.e., the machinations and powers of the invisible world. In ancient times the gates of fortified cities were used to hold councils in, and were usually places of great strength. Our Lord’s expression means, that neither the plots, stratagems, nor strength of Satan and his angels, should ever so far prevail as to destroy the sacred truths in the above confession.” (Clarke)

iv. A slightly different view: “Is thus to say that it will not die, and be shut in by the ‘gates of death.’” (France)

f. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: This idea of Peter holding the keys of the kingdom of heaven has captured the imagination (and theology) of many Christians throughout the centuries. In artistic representation, Peter is almost always shown with keys.

i. Some people think that this means that Peter has the authority to admit people to heaven, or to keep people out of heaven. This is the basis for the popular image of Peter at the Pearly Gates of Heaven, allowing people to enter or turning them away.

ii. Some people think that it also means that Peter was the first Pope, and that his supposed successors have the keys that were first given to Peter. Indeed, the Papal insignia of the Roman Catholic Church is made up of two prominent keys crossed together.

iii. There is no doubt that Peter had a special place among all the disciples, and that he had some special privileges:

· He is always listed first in the listings of the disciples.

· He opened doors of the kingdom to the Jews in Acts 2:38-39.

· He opened doors of the kingdom to the Gentiles in Acts 10:34-44.

iv. Yet there is no Biblical argument whatsoever that Peter’s privilege or authority was passed on. To put it one way; one might say that Jesus gave Peter the keys, but didn’t give him the authority to pass them on to further generations, and there is not a whisper in the Scriptures that Peter’s authority was to be passed on.

v. The idea that apostolic authority comes from Jesus, who gave it to Peter, who set his hands on the heads of approved and ordained men, who in turn set their hands on the heads of approved and ordained men, and so on and so on through the generations until today is nonsense. It is exactly what Spurgeon said it was: the laying of empty hands on empty heads.

g. And whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven: The power for binding and loosing is something that the Jewish rabbis of that day used. They bound or loosed an individual in the application of a particular point of the law. Jesus promises that Peter – and the other apostles – would be able to set the boundaries authoritatively for the New Covenant community. This was the authority given to the apostles and prophets to build a foundation (Ephesians 2:20).

i. We should understand this as Jesus giving both the permission and the authority to the first-generation apostles to make the rules for the early church – and indirectly, the inspired writings that would guide all generations of Christians. The authority that Peter carries is “not an authority which he alone carries, as may be seen from the repetition of the latter part of the verse in Matthew 18:18 with reference to the disciple group as a whole.” (France)

ii. “Binding” and “loosing” were administrative terms in daily Jewish life; whenever a Jew came up against the Law of Moses, that Jewish person was either “bound” or “loosed” in regard to that law. To loose was to permit; to bind was to prohibit. To loose was to free from the law, to bind was to put under the law. “Their regular sense, which any Jew would recognize was to allow and to forbid. To bind something was to declare it forbidden; to loose was to declare it allowed. These were the regular phrases for taking decisions in regard to the law.” (Barclay)

iii. In daily Jewish life, this could be rather complicated. Here is one example from ancient rabbinical writings, cited by teacher Mike Russ:

· If your dog dies in your house, is your house clean or unclean? Unclean.

· If your dog dies outside your house, is your house clean or unclean? Clean.

· If your dog dies on the doorstep, is your house clean or unclean? Ancient rabbinical writings took the issue on and decided that if the dog died with his nose pointing into the house, the house was unclean; if the dog died with his nose pointing away from the house, the house was clean.

iv. As their rabbi, Jesus did this binding and loosing for His own disciples. Without using the same words, this is what Jesus did when He allowed them to take the grains of wheat in the field (Matthew 12:1-8).

v. Significantly, when it came time to understand the dietary laws of the Old Covenant in light of the new work of Jesus, God spoke to Peter first. He and the other apostles, guided by the Spirit of God, would bind and loose Christians regarding such parts of the Old Covenant.

vi. In a lesser, secondary sense, this power is with the Church today. “Today the Lord continues to back up the teaching and acts of his sent servants, those Peters who are pieces of the one Rock. The judgments of his Church, when rightly administered, have his sanction so as to make them valid. The words of his sent servants, spoken in his name, shall be confirmed of the Lord, and shall not be, either as to promise or threatening, a mere piece of rhetoric.” (Spurgeon)

h. He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ: Jesus was pleased that His disciples were coming to know who He was in truth, but He still didn’t want His identity popularly known before the proper time.

i. “Before they could preach that Jesus was the Messiah, they had to learn what that meant.” (Barclay)

4. (21) Jesus begins to reveal the full extent of His mission.

From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.

a. He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things…and be killed: This must have come as quite a shock to His disciples. After fully understanding that Jesus was the Messiah, the last thing they expected was the Messiah would suffer many things and be killed.

i. Yet this was the predicted work of the Messiah (Isaiah 53:3-12). He must die, and He must after His death be raised the third day.

ii. The suffering and death of Jesus was a must because of two great facts: man’s sin and God’s love. While His death was the ultimate example of man’s sin against God, it was also the supreme expression of God’s love to man.

iii. “The ‘must’ of Jesus’ suffering lies, not in unqualified determinism, nor in heroic determination (though some of both is present), but in willing submission to his Father’s will.” (Carson)

iv. “The elders and chief priests and scribes were the three groups who together made up the Sanhedrin, Israel’s highest court; Jesus is to be officially executed. The estrangement between Jesus and the official Jewish leadership is thus already irrevocable.” (France)

b. And be raised the third day: The disciples were probably so shocked that Jesus said He would be killed in Jerusalem that these words didn’t sink in. Later, an angel reminded them of these words (Luke 24:6-8).

5. (22-23) Peter’s unwitting opposition of Jesus.

Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

a. Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You! At this moment Peter had the remarkable boldness to rebuke Jesus. Peter did it privately (took Him aside), yet was confident enough to tell Jesus that He was wrong to consider going to Jerusalem to be killed.

i. It’s not hard to see Peter following these steps:

· Peter confesses Jesus as the Messiah.

· Jesus compliments Peter, telling him that God revealed this to him.

· Jesus tells of His impending suffering, death, and resurrection.

· Peter feels this isn’t right, and he feels that he hears from God and therefore has some authority or right to speak.

· Peter begins to rebuke Jesus. “‘Began’ suggests that Peter gets only so far before Jesus cuts him off.” (Carson)

ii. We can infer that if Peter was bold enough to rebuke Jesus, he was confident that God told him that he was right and that Jesus was wrong at this point. Where it all broke down was that Peter was far too confident in his ability to hear from God.

· What Peter said didn’t line up with the Scriptures.

· What Peter said was in contradiction to the spiritual authority over him.

b. Get behind Me, Satan! This was a strong rebuke from Jesus, yet entirely appropriate. Though a moment before, Peter spoke as a messenger of God, he then spoke as a messenger of Satan. Jesus knew there was a satanic purpose in discouraging Him from His ministry on the cross, and Jesus would not allow that purpose to succeed.

i. We can be sure that Peter was not aware that he spoke for Satan, just as a moment before he was not aware that he spoke for God. It is often much easier to be a tool of God or of the devil than we want to believe.

ii. “Origen suggested that, Jesus was saying to Peter: ‘Peter, your place is behind me, not in front of me. It is your place to follow me in the way I choose, not to try to lead me in the way you would like me to go.’” (Barclay)

c. You are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men: Jesus exposed how Peter came into this satanic way of thinking. He didn’t make a deliberate choice to reject God and embrace Satan; he simply let his mind settle on the things of men instead of the things of God, and Satan took advantage of it.

i. Peter is a perfect example of how a sincere heart coupled with man’s thinking can often lead to disaster.

ii. Peter’s rebuke of Jesus is an evidence of the leaven mentioned in Matthew 16:6. With his mind on the things of men, Peter only saw the Messiah as the embodiment of power and strength, instead of as a suffering servant. Because Peter couldn’t handle a suffering Messiah, he rebuked Jesus.

C. Jesus’ call to disciples.

1. (24) Jesus declares His expectation that His followers would follow Him by dying to self.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

a. Said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me”: This was a word spoken to the disciples of Jesus; to those who genuinely wanted to follow (come after) Him.

b. Let him deny himself, and take up his cross: It was bad enough for the disciples to hear that Jesus would suffer, be rejected, and die on a cross. Now Jesus told them that they must do the same thing.

c. Deny himself, and take up his cross: Everybody knew what Jesus meant when He said this. Everyone knew that the cross was an unrelenting instrument of death. The cross had no other purpose.

i. The cross wasn’t about religious ceremonies; it wasn’t about traditions and spiritual feelings. The cross was a way to execute people.

ii. In these twenty centuries after Jesus, we have done a pretty good job in sanitizing and ritualizing the cross. Yet Jesus said something much like this: “Walk down death row daily and follow Me.” Taking up your cross wasn’t a journey; it was a one-way trip. There was no return ticketing; it was never a round trip.

iii. “Cross bearing does not refer to some irritation in life. Rather, it involves the way of the cross. The picture is of a man, already condemned, required to carry his cross on the way to the place of execution, as Jesus was required to do.” (Wessel, commentary on Mark)

iv. “Every Christian must be a Crucian, said Luther, and do somewhat more than those monks that made themselves wooden crosses, and carried them on their back continually, making all the world laugh at them.” (Trapp, commentary on Mark)

d. Deny himself, and take up his cross: Jesus made deny himself equal with take up his cross. The two express the same idea. The cross wasn’t about self-promotion or self-affirmation. The person carrying a cross knew they couldn’t save themselves.

i. “Denying self is not the same as self-denial. We practice self-denial when, for a good purpose, we occasionally give up things or activities. But we deny self when we surrender ourselves to Christ and determine to obey His will.” (Wiersbe, commentary on Mark)

ii. Denying self means to live as an others-centered person. Jesus was the only person to do this perfectly, but we are to follow in His steps (and follow Me). This is following Jesus at its simplest: He carried a cross, He walked down death row; so must those who follow Him.

iii. Human nature wants to indulge self, not deny self. Death to self is always terrible, and if we expect it to be a pleasant or mild experience, we will often be disillusioned. Death to self is the radical command of the Christian life. To take up your cross meant one thing: you were going to a certain death, and your only hope was in resurrection power.

2. (25-27) The paradox of the cross: finding life by losing it.

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”

a. Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it: We must follow Jesus this way, because it is the only way that we will ever find life. It sounds strange to say, “You will never live until you first walk to your death with Jesus,” but that is the idea. You can’t gain resurrection life without dying first.

i. You don’t lose a seed when you plant it, though it seems dead and buried. Instead, you set the seed free to be what it was always intended to be.

b. What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Avoiding the walk to death with Jesus means that we may gain the whole world, and end up losing everything.

i. Jesus Himself had the opportunity to gain all the world by worshipping Satan (Luke 4:5-8), but He found life and victory in obedience instead.

ii. Amazingly, the people who live this way before Jesus are the ones who are really, genuinely happy. Giving our lives to Jesus all the way, and living as an others-centered person does not take away from our lives, it adds to it.

c. He will reward each according to his works: This ultimate gain is given on this day. If we live life blind to this truth, we really will lose our own soul.

i. “Not only Jesus’ example, but the judgment he will exercise is an incentive to take up one’s cross and follow him.” (Carson)

ii. With His angels: “They are his angels: he stands so far above them that he owns them and uses them.” (Carson)

3. (28) A promise to see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.

“Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

a. Some standing here… shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom: Jesus said this at this moment to emphasize an important truth. Walking with Jesus doesn’t just mean a life of death and crosses. It also means a life of the power and glory of the kingdom of God. Jesus promised some of His disciples would see glimpses of that power and glory.

©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission

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DAILY BIBLE VERSE AND DEVOTION – MATTHEW 16:15

Posted on May 20, 2022

Then Jesus said to his followers, “And who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” – Matthew 16:15 (ERV)

How you perceive something matters. Many times, we have a friend who will describe something using different colors and words than we would, and we can wonder what they’re talking about or trying to say. Often different people experience and see things differently.

When it comes to our spiritual lives, how we see things matters. How do you see Jesus? Do you see Him as your provider, your friend, and the only way to God? Or do you see some guy who was a good teacher and did some good things to help others? How you view Jesus is important.

If you view Jesus as a friend, then in those moments where you feel friendless, you’ll have a friend. If you view Him as your salvation, in those moments where you feel unworthy and worthless, you’ll remember that you’ve been bought with a price.

So today, take a moment to think about how you see Jesus. Choose to see Him as Peter did. He’s your savior and he’s the answer to every need you’ll ever face. So draw close to Him and trust Him to be all you need.

Why Does Jesus Ask ‘Who Do You Say that I Am?’ (Matthew 16:15)

Jesus asks this question because He wants to know if we believe that He is our Lord. We have the choice that we can agree with Peter that He is the Messiah, or we can follow the world who makes Jesus out to be somebody He is not.

Vivian Bricker

In Matthew 16:15, Jesus asks His disciples, “‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’” In order to understand the reason why Jesus asks this question, we have to read the passage in its proper context in order to glean the true meaning.

What Is the Importance of Matthew 16:15?

Earlier in the passage of Matthew 16, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13). The disciples reply to Jesus’ question by saying, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:14).

After this answer from His disciples is when Jesus proposes the question, “‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’” (Matthew 16:15). Right after Jesus asks this question, Peter answers, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

Peter’s answer was correct, and Jesus tells Peter that he is blessed because the Father has revealed this truth to Peter (Matthew 16:17-19). All of the other disciples would have heard Peter’s correct answer as Jesus told His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Messiah (Matthew 16:20).

Even though Jesus asks this question to His disciples, He still asks us the same question today. Jesus asked this question to His disciples to discover who the disciples thought He was. As evident from one of the disciples’ statements, some people thought Jesus was John the Baptist, other people thought He was Elijah, Jeremiah, or another Old Testament prophet of the past (Matthew 16:14).

In order to be saved, one has to truly know who Jesus is — the Messiah, the Savior, God in the flesh. A person cannot obtain salvation if they believe Jesus to be John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or another prophet. Likewise in the modern-day, many people try to say Jesus is someone He is not, such as only a moral teacher or a peace-loving hippie.

Some people have even gone to the lengths of claiming Jesus suffered from the mental disorder of schizophrenia, which would make Him a schizophrenic. If a person believed Jesus suffered from schizophrenia, then His message was not true, and the person would never place faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

Take this as an example: Jesus is here today, and he asks a person “Who do you say I am?” Let’s say the person Jesus is asking is an atheistic sociologist and he answers Jesus by saying, “A schizophrenic,” then Jesus would know this man did not have the correct knowledge of who Jesus truly is because the correct answer is that Jesus is Lord, Messiah, God in the flesh.

Jesus did not suffer from schizophrenia nor any other type of mental disorder. This is why it is vitally important that we know who Jesus is and this is why Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?”

It is not difficult for people to come up with myriads of erroneous answers to this question, especially given the fact that we live in a postmodern Christian world today, which has drifted further away from God as the years have gone by.

As Christians, we know Jesus is the Messiah, our Lord, and the Second Member of the Trinity. Since we have known this, we have placed faith in Jesus. However, if a person has an erroneous view of who Jesus is, they will not be able to place faith in Jesus.

Why Did Jesus Have to Ask His Disciples Who He Was?

Jesus was known to correct His disciples if they were ever wrong. For this specific question that Jesus asks in Matthew 16:15, Peter gives the correct answer (Matthew 16:16), which is why Jesus does not correct Peter. It is important to note the fact that just because a person has the correct view of Jesus does not mean that they have accepted Jesus as their Savior.

Normally, a person will go through a process of learning more about Jesus before they place faith in Him for salvation. While some people may place faith in Jesus as soon as they know He is God, for most people, it is a process (learning more about Jesus) to a point (accepting Jesus for salvation).

Just as Jesus asked Peter during His earthly ministry, Jesus asks us today, “Who do you say I am?” The world will try to tell us at best that Jesus was just a good moral teacher or at worst, a man suffering from a mental disorder. However, when a person says Jesus is God, they are making a radical transition to coming to the point of accepting Him.

Jesus asks this question because He wants to know if we believe that He is the Messiah, our Savior, our Lord. We have the choice that we can agree with Peter that He is the Messiah and the Savior of our souls, or we can follow along with the culture of the world who makes Jesus out to be somebody He is not.

The Bible tells us the entire world is under Satan’s control and that unbelievers are blinded from knowing the truth because of the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4). It is not surprising then that the world tries to make false claims of the identity of Jesus. One has to be truly counter-cultural in order to believe Jesus is God and declare this truth to others.

In the modern-day of religious plurality and a negative view of Christianity, Christians have the great challenge of helping lost souls come to recognize Jesus’ true identity as Lord and Savior of all mankind.

Why Does This Matter?

Similar to Jesus, we have to show proof of Jesus’ divinity by defending the faith in apologetics and studying biblical history in order to help more people know the true identity of Jesus. Jesus was no mere man nor was He a hippie or a schizophrenic. Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior, our Lord, God in the flesh (John 1:1). Have you believed in Jesus and taken Him as your Savior? Who do you say Jesus is?

If you have never placed faith in Jesus and you would like to today, that is great! All you have to do is believe that Jesus is God and that He died on the cross to save you from your sins and that He was resurrected three days later.

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

If you believe this, you are given forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a restored relationship with God.

For further reading:

What Did Jesus Mean When He Said to Peter ‘Get Behind Me Satan’? (Matthew 16:23)

How Do We Know Whom We Believe? (2 Timothy 1:12)

Why Does Jesus Call Himself ‘the Door’?

Why Is Jesus’ Divinity Important?

Why Did Jesus Ask Peter if He Loved Him?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/artisteer

Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.

What does Matthew 16:15 mean?

Different groups in Jesus’ era held their own opinions on the concept of a Messiah, or a Promised One. Jesus has asked His disciples about the people’s view of “the son of man,” which His disciples understand as a reference to Jesus Himself. This question might have been aimed at those following Him around Galilee to hear Him preach and see His miracles. Luke’s details from this conversation include Jesus asking, “Who do the crowds say that I am” (Luke 9:18)?

According to the disciples, there are a few common opinions. Some think Jesus is one of the prophets of old, returned in the fulfilment of prophecy. Others think Him to be John the Baptist resurrected—despite that Jesus and John lived at the same time and were about the same age. John had recently been executed by Herod Antipas (Matthew 14:1–12).

Yet, the opinion of the crowd is not really the point of Jesus’ question. He seems to have asked only to set up the idea found in this verse. This pointedly separates popular opinion from personal belief: the emphasis is on this group, not the overall public. Who do these closest followers think Jesus is?

This is a key moment in Matthew’s narrative. Until Jesus’ core followers truly understood His identity, they would not truly understand the gospel. Once they fully knew who He was, they could begin to represent Him to the world (John 16:12–15). Peter’s response in the following verse reveals He understands who Jesus is (Matthew 16:16–17), though almost immediately he will also reveal the limits of his understanding (Matthew 16:21–23).

Context Summary

Matthew 16:13–20 describes a conversation between Jesus and the disciples about His identity. It takes place about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee in the district of Caesarea Philippi. Jesus asks who the people say He is and then asks who the disciples say He is. Peter says Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus says this declaration of faith will be the rock on which He will build His church.

Chapter Summary

A group of Pharisees and Sadducees demand a miracle from Jesus, though He has already performed many. Jesus refuses and warns the disciples to beware of the teachings of these religious leaders. Jesus asks the disciples who the people say He is, as well as their own opinion. Peter says Jesus is the Christ, and is commended for that statement. Jesus begins to reveal that He must suffer and be killed before being raised on the third day. Peter’s attempt to scold Jesus results in a devastating rebuke. Jesus then says all who would follow Him must take up crosses of self-denial

Living In Fellowship With One Another

VERSE OF THE DAY

1 John 1:7 (New Living Translation)

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But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

If we are living in the light to be noticed as God is in the light on a pedestal then we worship with one another and the blood of Jesus his son makes us pure as snow cleansing us of all sin and impurities

7 But if we awalk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the bblood of Jesus Christ his Son ccleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have ano bsin, we cdeceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

What Does 1 John 1:7 Mean? ►

But if we live in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:7(WNT)

Verse Thoughts

Fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ can be such a blessed experience, but to enjoy sweet fellowship with our Heavenly Lord is the pinnacle of being a sinner saved by grace. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all, and walking in the warmth and radiance of His perfect light and communing with Him is the right and privilege of all believers – nevertheless, fellowship with our Father is a believer’s choice.

Sin is the cause of broken fellowship with God. Christians that are out of fellowship with the Lord are walking in darkness, and sin is the cause of all broken fellowship. Allowing unconfessed sin to lurk within or pretending to be in fellowship while walking in the darkness is simply a lie. Fellowship with the Father is incompatible with sin – but if we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.

Any one of us who says that we are in fellowship with the Father while walking in darkness and sin is a liar who is not walking in spirit and truth: “BUT if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

During our sojourn on earth, we are living in a fallen body with a sinful nature that must be kept nailed to the Cross. We can never achieve sinless perfection as some like to teach, but can choose to live in the light by keeping a short rein on sin, dying to self, living for Christ, submitting to God, resisting the devil, and flying to our Heavenly Father to receive His forgiveness through Jesus Christ our Mediator.

When we walk in the light, we will maintain sweet fellowship with the Lord. But if we choose to step outside of the light, our fellowship with our Father will be interrupted. There are many enticements to sin and we can choose to disobey God’s will for our life and foolishly step back into the darkness from which we have been rescued – but the consequences for carnality in a Christian is a loss of reward – eternally saved but a wasted life, loss of reward, and broken fellowship with our Father.

Because we are children of God, we are children of the light. At salvation, we were transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son and as such, we are expected to walk in the light as He is in the light. But the world wants to squeeze us back into its mould and the enemy of our soul wants to entice us away from the glorious light of the gospel of truth into the destructive cul-de-sac of darkness and sin.

But God is light and in Him is no darkness at all and those who choose to walk in darkness have, of their own volition, removed themselves from sweet fellowship with the One Who purchased them with His own blood, having rescued them from the jaws of Satan, sin, and death. 

Yes, it is through the shed blood of Jesus, our Saviour, that we were cleansed at our salvation and brought into the light, and it is as sinners saved by grace, that we need to be continually cleansed of any post-salvation sin as we travel through this life. While all our sins, past, present, and future, were forgiven the moment we trusted Christ for salvation, we need to confess any post-salvation sin to our Heavenly Father in order to be returned into fellowship with Him – for sin is the cause of broken fellowship.

God is love and peace and hope and joy – and God is purest light. He knows that the perfect place of protection and joy for all His children is to remain in fellowship with Him and to walk in the light of His love, just as He is in the light. When a sinner who has been saved by grace, chooses to live in the light in the same way that God is in the light, he has made a wise decision, for he will not only enjoy blessed fellowship with His Christian brothers and sisters who are also living in God’s light, but will enjoy unbroken fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, and sweet communion with the great Father of light and life and hope and love.

Source: https://dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com/1-john-1-7

Source: https://dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com/1-john-1-7

Devotional

Walking in the Darkness or Light (1 John 1:6-7)

Posted on Monday, February 15th, 2021 at 12:19 pm.

Would those closest to you describe you as authentic or phony? Unfortunately, our culture blinds us to pretense: “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth” (1 John 1:6). Too often, we claim to trust in Christ, but we live no differently than those who do not have faith in Him. We like the idea of Jesus, but we never fully surrender to Him, missing out on His vision for our lives.

Whether it is the texts we send, the posts we make, the emails we write, or the arguments we have, we often cause others to stumble in the darkness because we don’t flip the switch and reflect the light of Christ. We become blind guides, just like the Pharisees (Matthew 23:16). All the while, our world recognizes us as a counterfeit. Jesus used the term, hypocrite, meaning an actor, for teachers of the law and Pharisees who pretended to be righteous on the outside, but were unrighteous on the inside (Matthew 23:27-28).

Darkness is the absence of light, yet one ray of light can illuminate the night.

Everything changes when we walk in the light of Christ: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). When we surrender our lives to Jesus, we live authentically. His Spirit cleanses us from our pretending and deepens our relationships. We reflect the light of Christ, helping everyone see His face, His identity, the true light full of grace and truth (John 1:9, 14).

Make an appointment with God. Ask Him to show you any part of your life where you are living in darkness and then walk in the Light.

dac4admin

On December 6, 2015, 4:37 am

1 John Chapter 1

1 John 1 – Fellowship with God

Most people understand that the important things in life are not things at all – they are the relationships we have. God has put a desire for relationship in every one of us, a desire He intended to be met with relationships with other people, but most of all, to be met by a relationship with Him. In this remarkable letter, John tells us the truth about relationships – and shows us how to have relationships that are real, for both now and eternity.

A. The purpose of the letter: to bring you into relationship with God.

1. (1-2) John begins with the center of relationship: Jesus Christ.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.

a. That which was from the beginning: The beginning John wrote of is not the beginning of this world; nor is it the beginning of creation. It is the beginning of Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1, the beginning there was before there was anything, when all there existed was God.

i. The beginning of Genesis 1:1 is simple: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The beginning of John 1:1 is profound: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John takes us back to this time in eternity past, to meet this One which was from the beginning.

ii. Whoever, or whatever, John wrote of, he said his subject was eternal and therefore was God because the subject existed before all else and was the source and basis of the existence of all things.

b. Which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled: This indicates that this eternal being – the One from the beginning – came to earth, and John (among others) personally experienced this eternal One.

i. “We deliver nothing by hearsay, nothing by tradition, nothing from conjecture; we have had the fullest certainty of all that we write and preach.” (Clarke) The idea is that this eternal subject of John has been audibly heard, physically seen, intently studied (have looked upon), and tangibly touched (hands have handled). This idea would have enormous implications for his readers.

ii. The implications were enormous because they said that this eternal God became accessible to man in the most basic way, a way that anyone could relate to. This eternal One can be known, and He has revealed Himself to us.

iii. The implications were enormous because they proved that John’s words have the weight of eyewitness evidence. He did not speak of a myth or of a matter of clever story-telling. He carefully studied this eternal One and he knew whom he spoke about.

iv. Enormous because it debunked dangerous teachings that were creeping into the church, known as Gnosticism. Part of the teaching of Gnosticism was that though Jesus was God, He was not actually a physical man, but instead some kind of pseudo-physical phantom. Yet John declared, “I heard Him! I saw Him! I studied Him! I touched Him!”

c. The Word of Life: John identified this eternally existent being, who was physically present with John and others (note the repetition of our, and not “my”), as the Word of Life. This is the same Logos spoken of in John 1:1.

i. The idea of the Logos – of the Word – was important for John and for the Greek and Jewish worlds of his day. For the Jew, God was often referred to as the Word because they knew God perfectly revealed Himself in His Word. For the Greek, their philosophers had spoken for centuries about the Logos – the basis for organization and intelligence in the universe, the Ultimate Reason which controls all things.

ii. It is as if John said to everyone, “This Logos you have been talking about and writing about for centuries – well, we have heard Him, seen Him, studied Him, and touched Him. Let me now tell you about Him.”

d. The life was manifested: This life was manifested, meaning that it was made actually and physically real. John solemnly testified as an eyewitness (we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you) that this was the case. This was no fairy tale, no “Once upon a time” story. This was real, and John tells us about it as an eyewitness.

e. Eternal life which was with the Father: In calling Jesus eternal life, John remembered the words of Jesus (John 5:26, 6:48, and 11:25). He also repeated the idea expressed in his first words of this letter: that Jesus Himself is eternal, and therefore God.

i. We can say that people are eternal, but we say this with the understanding that we mean they are eternal in the future sense – they will never perish, being immortal (John 5:29). Yet people are not eternal in the past sense; to say that something is eternal in the past sense is the same as saying it is equal to God or God’s Word.

ii. The eternal existence of Jesus is also declared in Micah 5:2 – But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. The word everlasting here literally means, “beyond the vanishing point.”

f. Which was with the Father: This refers to the eternal relationship between the Father and the Son. There was an eternal relationship of love and fellowship between the Father and the Son. Jesus referred to this in John 17:24: “For You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

i. This eternal relationship is clearly described in the Scriptures, but we could also understand it from simple logic. If God is love (1 John 4:8) and God is eternal (Micah 5:2), we understand that love in isolation is meaningless. Love needs an object, and since there was a time before anything was created, there was a time when the only love in the universe was between the members of the Godhead: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

g. Was with the Father: The word with indicates that this being, who is eternal, and is eternal life Himself, is distinct from the Father. John builds the New Testament understanding of the Trinity – that one God exists as three Persons, equal and one, yet distinct in their person.

i. The Bible links together the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a way that is unimaginable for other persons. We read, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Yet we would never say, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of Michael the Archangel.”

ii. We read, The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14). Yet we would never say, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of the Apostle Paul, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

iii. We read, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:2). Yet we would never say, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of the Apostle Peter.”

2. (3) An invitation to relationship.

That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

a. That you may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ: The purpose of John’s declaration about this eternally existent, physically present, Word of life who is God, yet is a person distinct from the Father, is to bring his readers into fellowship with both God’s people and God Himself.

i. You can enjoy this fellowship even though you do not understand all the intricacies of the trinity. You can use your eyes even though you don’t know every detail of how your vision works. You can know God and believe in Him as He has revealed Himself, even though you can’t understand everything about His person or nature.

b. Fellowship: The idea of fellowship is one of the most important ideas in this letter of John’s. It is the ancient Greek word koinonia, which speaks of a sharing, a communion, a common bond and common life. It speaks of a living, breathing, sharing, loving relationship with another person.

i. “This is one of the greatest statements of the New Testament, and it may safely be said that its greatness is created by the richness of the word which is the emphatic word, viz., fellowship.” (Morgan)

ii. “The Greek word koinonia is derived from the word koinos, which very literally means common, in the sense of being shared by all.” (Morgan) The use of the word in Acts 2:44 is very helpful: Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common. The word common is the ancient Greek word koinonia.

iii. “Those who have a fellowship one with another, are those who share the same resources, and are bound by the same responsibilities. The idea becomes almost overwhelming when it is thus applied to the relationship which believing souls bear to the Father, and to His Son Jesus Christ… The Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and all believers have all things in common. All the resources of each in the wondrous relationship are at the disposal of the others. Such is the grace of our God, and of His Son.” (Morgan)

c. Fellowship… with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ: This simple and bold statement means that one can have a relationship with God. This idea would surprise many of John’s readers, and it should be astounding to us. The Greek mind-set highly prized the idea of fellowship, but restricted to men among men – the idea of such an intimate relationship with God was revolutionary.

i. Jesus started the same kind of revolution among the Jews when He invited men to address God as Father (Matthew 6:9). We really can have a living, breathing relationship with God the Father, and with Jesus Christ. He can be not only our Savior, but also our friend and our closest relationship.

ii. Actually, for many people this is totally unappealing. Sometimes it is because they don’t know who God is, and an invitation to a “personal relationship with God” is about as attractive to them as telling an eighth-grader they can have a “personal relationship with the assistant principal.” But when we know the greatness, the goodness, and the glory of God, we want to have a relationship with Him.

iii. Other people turn from this relationship with God because they feel so distant from Him. They want a relationship with God, but feel so disqualified, so distant. They need to know what God has done to make this kind of relationship possible.

d. Fellowship… with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ: The kind of relationship John described is only possible because Jesus is who John says He is in 1 John 1:1-2. If someone invited you to have a “personal relationship” with Napoleon, or Alexander the Great, or Abraham Lincoln – or even Moses or the Apostle Paul – you would think them foolish. One cannot even have a genuine “spiritual” relationship with a dead man. But with the eternal God who became man, we can have a relationship.

i. The word fellowship has in it not only the idea of relationship, but also of sharing a common life. When we have fellowship with Jesus, we will become more like Him.

ii. The disciples did not have this close fellowship with Jesus when He walked this earth with them. As Jesus said to Philip at the very end of His earthly ministry, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?” (John 14:9) Their true fellowship was not created by material closeness to the material Jesus, but by a work of the Holy Spirit after the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Therefore we can enter into the same fellowship with God that the Apostles could enter.

e. Our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ: We have the potential of a relationship of a shared life with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. It is as if the Father and the Son agree together to let us into their relationship of love and fellowship.

i. This idea of a shared life is essential. This doesn’t mean that when Jesus comes into our life He helps us to do the same things, but simply to do them better than before. We don’t add Jesus to our life. We enter into a relationship of a shared life with Jesus. We share our life with Him, and He shares His life with us.

f. That you also may have fellowship with us: We may think it curious that John first considers fellowship with God’s people; but this is often how people come to experience a relationship with God: they first encounter God through relationships with God’s people.

i. “When fellowship is the sweetest, your desire is the strongest that others may have fellowship with you; and when, truly, your fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, you earnestly wish that the whole Christian brotherhood may share the blessing with you.” (Spurgeon)

g. With the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ: Here John finally names this being – eternally existent, physically present, the Word of Life, truly God (yet distinct from the Father) – it is God the Son, whose name is Jesus, who is the Christ (Messiah).

3. (4) The result of relationship.

And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

a. That your joy may be full: The result of fellowship is fullness of joy. This joy is an abiding sense of optimism and cheerfulness based on God, as opposed to happiness, which is a sense of optimism and cheerfulness based on circumstances.

i. John clearly echoed an idea Jesus brought before His disciples the night before His crucifixion. He wanted fullness of joy for them – even knowing that the cross was directly in front of them.

· These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11).

· Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full (John 16:24).

· But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves (John 17:13).

b. That your joy may be full: Fullness of joy is certainly possible for the Christian, but it is by no means certain. John wrote with the desire that believers would have fullness of joy – and if it were inevitable or very easy to have, he would not have written this.

i. The Christian’s joy is important, and assaulted on many fronts. External circumstances, moods and emotions, or sin can all take away our joy. Yet the Christian’s joy is not found in the things of this world, as good as they might be. When John wrote about these things, he wrote about this relationship of fellowship and love we can share in with God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ.

ii. Too many Christians are passive in their loss of joy. They need to realize it is a great loss and do everything they can to draw close to God and reclaim that fullness of joy. “If any of you have lost the joy of the Lord, I pray you do not think it a small loss.” (Spurgeon)

4. Observations on this first portion of the book, which is one long sentence in the original manuscript.

a. John began with the beginning – the eternal God, who was before all things.

b. He told us that this God was physically manifested, and that he and others could testify to this as eyewitnesses.

c. He told us that this God is the Word of life, the Logos.

d. He told us that this God is distinct from the person of God the Father.

e. He told us that we may have fellowship with this God, and that we are often introduced into this fellowship with God by the fellowship of God’s people.

f. He told us that this eternally existent God, the Word of Life, who was physically present with the disciples and others (and present for fellowship), is God the Son, named Jesus Christ.

g. He told us that fellowship with Jesus leads to a life lived in fullness of joy.

h. We could say that in these four verses, John gave us enough to live our whole Christian life on. No wonder one commentator wrote, “Observe the note of wonder in the Apostle’s language. Speech fails him. He labours for expression, adding definition to definition.” (Expositor’s)

B. John’s message from God: dealing with sin and maintaining relationship.

1. (5) Sin and the nature of God.

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

a. This is the message: This is a claim to authority. John isn’t making this up; these are not his own personal opinions or ideas about God. This is God’s message about Himself (which we have heard from Him), which John now reveals to us (and declare to you).

i. What John will tell us about God is what God has told us about Himself. We can’t be confident in our own opinions or ideas about God unless they are genuinely founded on what God has said about Himself.

b. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all: We must begin our understanding of God here. John declares this on the simple understanding that God Himself is light; and light by definition has no darkness at all in it; for there to be darkness, there must be an absence of light.

i. A good definition of God is, “God is the only infinite, eternal, and unchangeable spirit, the perfect being in whom all things begin, and continue, and end.” Another way of saying that God is perfect is to say that God is light.

ii. “LIGHT is the purest, the most subtle, the most useful, and the most diffusive of all God’s creatures; it is, therefore, a very proper emblem of the purity, perfection, and goodness of the Divine nature.” (Clarke)

iii. “There are spots in the sun, great tracts of blackness on its radiant disc; but in God is unmingled, perfect purity.” (Maclaren)

c. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all: Therefore, if there is a problem with our fellowship with God, it is our fault. It is not the fault of God because there is no sin or darkness in Him at all.

i. Any approach to relationship with God that assumes, or even implies, that God might be wrong, and perhaps must be forgiven by us, is at its root blasphemous and directly contradicts what John clearly states here.

2. (6) God’s sinlessness and our relationship with Him.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

a. If we say that we have fellowship with Him: John first deals with a false claim to fellowship. Based upon this, we understand that it is possible for some to claim a relationship with God that they do not have. We can also say that it is possible for someone to think they have a relationship with God that they do not have.

i. Many Christians are not aware of their true condition. They know they are saved, and have experienced conversion and have repented at some time in their life. Yet they do not live in true fellowship with God.

b. And walk in darkness: John speaks of a walk in darkness, indicating a pattern of living. This does not speak of an occasional lapse, but of a lifestyle of darkness.

c. We lie and do not practice the truth: God has no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). Therefore, if one claims to be in fellowship with God (a relationship of common relation, interest, and sharing), yet does walk in darkness, it is not a truthful claim.

i. The issue here is fellowship, not salvation. The Christian who temporarily walks in darkness is still saved, but not in fellowship with God.

ii. If John said “That is a lie,” it means he thinks in terms of things being true or being lies. John sees things much more clearly than our sophisticated age does, which doesn’t want to see anything in black or white, but everything in a pale shade of gray. The modern world often thinks in terms of “my truth” in an individualistic sense. John focused on the idea of God’s truth, ultimate truth.

3. (7) The blessing of walking in the light.

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

a. But if we walk in the light: This means to walk in a generally obedient life, without harboring known sin or resisting the conviction of the Holy Spirit on a particular point.

i. John’s message here means that a walk in the light is possible. We know that on this side of eternity, sinless perfection is not possible. Yet we can still walk in the light, so John does mean perfect obedience.

ii. The Christian life is described as walking, which implies activity. Christian life feeds upon contemplation, but it displays itself in action. “Walking” implies action, continuity, and progress. Since God is active and walking, if you have fellowship with Him, you will also be active and walking.

b. As He is in the light: Since God is light (1 John 1:5), when we walk in the light we walk where He is. We are naturally together with Him in fellowship.

c. We have fellowship with one another: We would have expected John to say, “We have fellowship with God.” That is true, but already in the idea of walking together with God in the light. John wants to make it clear that fellow Christians who walk in the light enjoy fellowship with each other.

i. This leads to an important idea: if we do not have fellowship with one another, then one party or both parties are not walking in the light. Two Christians who are in right relationship with God will also naturally be in right relationship with each other.

d. The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin: As we walk in the light we also enjoy the continual cleansing of Jesus. This is another indication that John does not mean sinless perfection by the phrase walk in the light; otherwise, there would be no sin to cleanse in this ongoing sense.

i. We need a continual cleansing because the Bible says we continually sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Even though Christians have been cleansed in an important general sense, our “feet” need cleaning (John 13:10).

ii. The verb form John used in cleanses us from all sin is in the present tense, not in the future tense. We can do more than merely hope we will one day be cleansed. Because of what Jesus did on the cross for me, I can be cleansed today.

iii. “Observe, yet again, that in the verse there is no hint given of any emotions, feelings, or attainments, as co-operating with the blood to take away sin. Christ took the sins of his people and was punished for those sins as if he had been himself a sinner, and so sin is taken away from us; but in no sense, degree, shape or form, is sin removed by attainments, emotions, feelings or experiences.” (Spurgeon)

e. The blood of Jesus Christ: This continual cleansing is ours by the blood of Jesus. This does not mean the actual drops or molecules of His literal blood, but His literal death in our place and the literal wrath of the Father He endured on our behalf. The blood of Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all our sins – past, present, and future.

i. The work of Jesus on the cross doesn’t only deal with the guilt of sin that might send us to hell. It also deals with the stain of sin which hinders our continual relationship with God. We need to come to God often with the simple plea, “cleanse me with the blood of Jesus.” Not because we haven’t been cleansed before, but because we need to be continually cleansed to enjoy continual relationship.

ii. “‘The blood’ is more specific than ‘the death’ would be, for ‘the blood’ denotes sacrifice. It is always the blood that is shed.” (Lenski)

iii. “Observe, here is nothing said about rites and ceremonies. It does not begin by saying, ‘and the waters of baptism, together with the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us,’ – not a word, whether it shall be the sprinkling in infancy, or immersion of believers, nothing is said about it – it is the blood, the blood only, without a drop of baptismal water. Nothing is here said about sacraments – what some call ‘the blessed Eucharist’ is not dragged in here – nothing about eating bread and drinking wine – it is the blood, nothing but the blood.” (Spurgeon)

iv. “Does my walking in the light take away my sins? Not at all. I am as much a sinner in the light as in the darkness, if it were possible for me to be in the light without being washed in the blood. Well, but we have fellowship with God, and does not having fellowship with God take away sin? Beloved, do not misunderstand me – no man can have fellowship with God unless sin be taken away; but his fellowship with God, and his walking in light, does not take away his sin – not at all. The whole process of the removal of sin is here, ‘And the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.’” (Spurgeon)

f. From all sin: We can be cleansed, by the blood of Jesus, from all sin. The sin we inherited from Adam, the sin we committed as kids, the sins of our growing up; sins against our father, against our mother, against our brother and sister; sins against our husbands or wives, against our children; sins against our employers or our employees, sins against our friends and our enemies; lying, stealing, cheating, adultery, swearing, drugs, booze, promiscuity, murder; sins that haunt us every day, sins we didn’t even know we did – all sin can be cleansed by the blood of Jesus.

i. Sin is the hindrance to fellowship and the blood of Jesus, received by faith as the payment for our sin, solves the problem of sin and opens the way to fellowship with God.

· You can’t come to fellowship with God through philosophical speculation. You can’t come to fellowship with God through intellectual education.

· You can’t come to fellowship with God through drugs or entertainment.

· You can’t come to fellowship with God through scientific investigation.

· You can only come to fellowship with God by dealing with your sin problem through the blood of Jesus.

ii. We might say that the only sin that cannot be cleansed by the blood of Jesus is the sin of continuing to reject that blood as payment for sin.

4. (8-10) The presence of sin, the confession of sin, and the cleansing from sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

a. If we say we have no sin: John has introduced the ideas of walking in the light and being cleansed from sin. But he did not for a moment believe that a Christian can become sinlessly perfect.

i. To think this of ourselves is to deceive ourselves, and to say this of ourselves is to lie – the truth is not in us.

ii. “Our deceitful heart reveals an almost Satanic shrewdness in self-deception… If you say you have no sin you have achieved a fearful success, you have put out your own eyes, and perverted your own reason!” (Spurgeon)

iii. There are few people today who think they are sinlessly perfect, yet not many really think of themselves as sinners. Many will say “I make mistakes” or “I’m not perfect” or “I’m only human,” but usually they say such things to excuse or defend. This is different from knowing and admitting “I am a sinner.”

iv. To say that we have no sin puts us in a dangerous place because God’s grace and mercy is extended to sinners, not to “those who make mistakes” or “I’m only human” or “no one is perfect” people, but sinners. We need to realize the victory and forgiveness that comes from saying, “I am a sinner – even a great sinner – but I have a Savior who cleanses me from all sin.”

b. If we confess our sins: Though sin is present, it need not remain a hindrance to our relationship with God – we may find complete cleansing (from all unrighteousness) as we confess our sins.

i. To confess means, “to say the same as.” When we confess our sin, we are willing to say (and believe) the same thing about our sin that God says about it. Jesus’ story about the religious man and the sinner who prayed before God illustrated this; the Pharisee bragged about how righteous he was, while the sinner just said God be merciful to me a sinner (Luke 18:10-14). The one who confessed his sin was the one who agreed with God about how bad he was.

ii. Confess translates a verb in the present tense. The meaning is that we should keep on confessing our sin – instead of referring to a “once-for-all” confession of sin at our conversion.

iii. You don’t have to go to a confessional to confess your sin. When you are baptized, you are confessing your sin by saying you needed to be cleansed and reborn. When you receive communion, you confess your sin by saying you need the work of Jesus on the cross to take your sin away. But of course, we need to confess our sin in the most straightforward way: by admitting to God that what we have done is sin, and by asking for His divine forgiveness, based on what Jesus has done on the cross for us.

iv. Our sins are not forgiven because we confess. If this were the case – if forgiveness for a sin could only come where there was confession – then we would all be damned because it would be impossible for us to confess every sin we ever commit. We are forgiven because our punishment was put upon Jesus, we are cleansed by His blood.

v. However, confession is still vital to maintain relationship with God, and this is the context John speaks from. As God convicts us of sin that is hindering our fellowship with Him, we must confess it and receive forgiveness and cleansing for our relationship with God to continue without hindrance.

vi. Confession must be personal. To say, “God, if we have made any mistakes, forgive us” isn’t confession, because it isn’t convinced (saying “if we made”), it isn’t personal (saying “if we made”), it isn’t specific (saying “if we made any”), and it isn’t honest (saying “mistakes”).

c. He is faithful and just to forgive us: Because of Jesus’ work, the righteousness of God is our friend – insuring that we will be forgiven because Jesus paid the penalty of our sin. God is being faithful and just to forgive us in light of Jesus.

i. “The text means just this – Treat God truthfully, and he will treat you truthfully. Make no pretensions before God, but lay bare your soul, let him see it as it is, and then he will be faithful and just to forgive you your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” (Spurgeon)

ii. The promise of 1 John 1:9 shouldn’t lead us into sin, saying “Hey, I’ll go ahead and sin because God will forgive me.” It should lead us out of sin, knowing that God could only be faithful and just to forgive us our sins because the wrath we deserved was poured out on the sin. Since each sin carries with it its own measure of wrath, so there is a sense in which each sin we commit added to the agony of Jesus on the cross.

iii. There is no more sure evidence that a person is out of fellowship with God than for someone to contemplate or commit sin with the idea, “I can just ask for forgiveness later.” Since God is light and in Him is no darkness at all, we can be assured that the person who commits sin with this idea is not in fellowship with God.

d. If we say that we have not sinned: If we deny the presence of sin, we are self-deceived and are denying God’s Word. Yet, though sin is always present, so is its remedy – so sin need never be a hindrance to our relationship with God.

i. The idea that His word is not in us is related to the idea that Jesus is the Word of life (1 John 1:1); if we refuse to see sin in us, we show that Jesus is not in us.

ii. “No man was ever kept out of God’s kingdom for his confessed badness; many are for their supposed goodness.” (Trapp)

©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission

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What does 1 John 1:7 mean?

Verse 6 spoke against walking in the darkness. Verse 7 offers the contrast, and calls believers to live according to God’s ways. Again, we find connections to the Gospel of John, chapter 1. John 1:8–9 speaks of John the Baptist, stating, “He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” Jesus was noted as the “light” and “true light.” John the Baptist spoke about Him, calling people to repentance in preparation for His arrival. Now believers are called to walk according to Christ’s ways.

The second half of this verse states what takes place when believers do walk in the light: fellowship and a cleansing from sin. Two applications are given. First, believers will have community and friendship with one another. Second, believers will experience forgiveness. Even though a person is forgiven (eternally) of sins when he or she first believes in Christ, Christians still commit sins and find themselves in need of forgiveness as believers. See verse 9 for more information on this. Even the apostle Paul noted his many failures, despite his desire to live right, and the many noble works he had done for God (Romans 7).

The implication here is clear: the mere presence of sin in one’s life does not imply that the person is lost. Christ’s sacrifice removes the eternal penalty of all sins, past, present, and future. Even more importantly, those who trust in Christ are forgiven even for sins they are not aware of. Those sins we become aware of, we should confess, and they will be forgiven. If we walk in obedience with what we have, God will make up for what we lack.

Context Summary

First John 1:5–10 opens the main topic of John’s letter. God is entirely goodness and truth, and those who follow God cannot also follow evil and falsehood. John offers a pattern of “if” statements, comparing each to the truth. In particular, John mentions those who claim to be entirely free from sin, or to have never sinned. Such a belief is literally the opposite of the gospel. No person is sinless other than Jesus Christ.

Chapter Context

Chapter 1 re-states the fact that Jesus is the eternal Son of God. John confirms that he has personally seen and heard the things he is teaching. God’s truth is presented as “light,” while false teachings are presented as “darkness.” Those who hold to the truth are saved from sin; those who claim to have no sin at all are self-deceived.

O Lord All Creation

Psalm 8

Psalm 8

For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be accompanied by a stringed instrument.[a]

O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
    Your glory is higher than the heavens.

You have taught children and infants
    to tell of your strength,[b]
silencing your enemies
    and all who oppose you.

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
    the moon and the stars you set in place—

what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
    human beings that you should care for them?[c]

Yet you made them only a little lower than God[d]
    and crowned them[e] with glory and honor.

You gave them charge of everything you made,
    putting all things under their authority—

the flocks and the herds
    and all the wild animals,

the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
    and everything that swims the ocean currents.

O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

Footnotes

• 8:Title Hebrew according to the gittith.

• 8:2 Greek version reads to give you praise. Compare Matt 21:16.

• 8:4 Hebrew what is man that you should think of him, / the son of man that you should care for him?

• 8:5a Or Yet you made them only a little lower than the angels; Hebrew reads Yet you made him [i.e., man] a little lower than Elohim.

• 8:5b Hebrew him [i.e., man]; similarly in 8:6.

What is the meaning of Psalms 8?

Psalms 8. Keep Reading. describes Yahweh as the King of creation who made dependent humans his royal partners. This is unexpected and wonderful news to those who understand their need for God. But it’s offensive to those who want to rule their lives apart from Yahweh.

https://bibleproject.com › blog › ruli…

Ruling the World through Weakness in Psalm 8 | BibleProject™

Who is man that you are mindful of him Psalm 8?

what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

http://web.mit.edu › cef › NIV › PS+8

Bible Gateway Psalm 8 :: NIV

WHAT IS MANKIND THAT YOU ARE MINDFUL OF HIM? | Bible Study

Psalm 8 is the eighth psalm of the Book of Psalms, beginning and ending in English in the King James Version: “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!”. In Latin, it is known as “Domine Dominus noster”. Its authorship is traditionally assigned to King David. Wikipedia

O Lord God of all creatures great and small and all creation how beautiful is thy name over all the earth how great though are in all creations

David Guzik

On December 19, 2015, 10:51 pm

Psalm 8

Psalm 8 – The Glory of God in Creation

The title of this psalm reads, To the Chief Musician. On the instrument of Gath. A Psalm of David. It indicates the audience of the psalm (the Chief Musician), the author of the psalm (of David) and the sound of the psalm (the instrument of Gath). In this psalm David speaks of the glory of God, and how the glory of man and his destiny reflect upon God.

A. The plainly seen glory of creation.

1. (1) The glory of God in the earth and the heavens.

O LORD, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

a. O LORD, our Lord: Here, David recognized both the covenant name of God (LORD) and the position of Yahweh to His people (Lord). It was a simple, straightforward, and common way to say that “Our God is our Master.”

i. “Yehovah Adoneynu; O Jehovah our Prop, our Stay, our Support.… The root dan signifies to direct, rule, judge, support. So Adonai is the Director, Ruler, Judge, Supporter of men.” (Clarke)

b. How excellent is Your name in all the earth: David also recognized that though the LORD was Israel’s covenant God, He was also God of more than just Israel. His name is excellent…in all the earth.

c. Who have set Your glory above the heavens: At the same time, the earth was not enough to measure the glory and excellence of God. His glory is above the heavens.

2. (2) The glory of God in His strength over His enemies.

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

a. Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength: In the first verse, David considered the greatness of God by His evident power and glory in creation, both across the earth and in the heavens. Now, he considers that the power and glory of God can be seen in small children – babes and nursing infants – as God’s strength is evident in them.

i. David here touched on a familiar theme in the Bible: the idea that God uses otherwise weak things to display His glory and strength. 1 Corinthians 1:27 is an example of this idea: But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.

ii. It is hard to think of anything more weak and helpless than a baby; yet the same God who can ordain strength out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants can give strength and support to me in the midst of my weakness.

iii. “The word here rather means a strength…that, out of such frail material as children’s speech, God builds a tower of strength, which, like some border castle, will bridle and still the restless enemy.” (Maclaren)

iv. “The praises of the Messiah, celebrated in the church by his children, have in them a strength and power which nothing can withstand; they can abash infidelity, when at its greatest height, and strike hell itself silent.” (Horne)

v. Significantly, Jesus quoted this passage to His indignant accusers in Matthew 21:16, as Jesus did wonderful miracles in the temple area, and as He received the praise of children who cried out Hosanna to the Son of David! (Matthew 21:15).

b. Because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy: The reason why God displays His strength in unlikely vessels is because it works to silence the enemy; Satan and his fellow adversaries have nothing to say when God works so mightily in an otherwise weak person.

i. One dramatic example of this is the story of Job. In it, God silenced the accusations of Satan against both God and Job by the way that He sustained Job with His unseen hand in the midst of profound weakness.

ii. In quoting this passage in Matthew 21:15-16, Jesus told His accusers who He was and who they were. Since the babes and nursing infants praise God in Psalm 8, Jesus identified Himself as God. In this, Jesus also identified the indignant scribes and teachers as the enemy and avenger described in this psalm.

iii. “Aha! Aha! O adversary! To be overcome by behemoth or leviathan might make thee angry; but to be smitten out of infants’ mouths causes thee to bite the dust in utter dishonor. Thou art sore broken, now that ‘out of the mouth of babes and sucklings’ thou art put to shame.” (Spurgeon)

B. The surprising glory of mankind.

1. (3-5) Though seemingly insignificant, man is crowned with glory and honor.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

a. When I consider Your heavens: David knew the value of simply considering the glory of God’s creation. He knew what it was like to look up into the starry sky and consider what a great God had made this vast, wonderful universe.

i. With the naked eye, one can see about 5,000 stars. With a four-inch telescope, one can see about 2 million stars. With a 200-inch mirror of a great observatory, one can see more than a billion stars. The universe is so big that if one were to travel at the speed of light, it would take 40 billion years to reach the edge of the universe. Considering the heavens makes us see the greatness of God.

ii. These great heavenly objects such as the moon and the stars are the work of God’s fingers. “Notwithstanding the amazing magnitude of the sun, we have abundant reason to believe that some of the fixed stars are much larger: and yet we are told they are the work of GOD’S FINGERS! What a hand, to move, form, and launch these globes!” (Clarke)

b. What is man that You are mindful of him: Considering the greatness of the heavens also made David consider the relative smallness and insignificance of man. David wondered why such a big, great God would be mindful of such small beings.

i. “We gave you but a feeble image of our comparative insignificance, when we said that the glories of an extended forest would suffer no more from the fall of a single leaf, than the glories of an extended universe would suffer though the globe we tread upon, and all that it inherits, should dissolve.” (Chalmers, cited in Spurgeon)

ii. God is so big that He makes the universe with His fingers; man is so small that he is dwarfed by the universe. Yet David did not doubt that God was mindful of man; he simply said “You are mindful of him” and only wondered why. Before we share David’s question, we should first share his assured confidence that God is mindful of us; He thinks of us and considers what we do.

iii. “Sorry, sickly man, a mass of mortalities, a map of miseries, a mixture or compound of dirt and sin…and yet God is mindful of him.” (Trapp)

iv. “David’s question can be asked with many nuances. In Psalm 144:3-4 it mocks the arrogance of the rebel; in Job 7:17 it is a sufferer’s plea for respite; in Job 25:6 it shudders at human sin. But here it has no tinge of pessimism; only astonishment that thou are mindful and thou dost care.” (Kidner)

c. And the son of man that You should visit him: Indeed, using the poetic method of repetition, David repeated the idea in a stronger way. Son of man is a title that emphasizes the “humanness” of man, and we might say that visit him is yet stronger than are mindful of him.

i. David was confident that God not only carefully thought about man, but that He had some kind of personal connection and contact with men (that You visit him). He thinks about us and acts in our lives.

ii. Morgan considered the use of the terms man and son of man as a “contrast between the stately splendor of the moon and the stars, and man – Enosh – frail man – and the son of man Ben-Adam – of apparently earthly origin. The contrasts are graphic.” (Morgan)

d. For You have made him a little lower than the angels: David saw that God made man a little lower than the angels, and this is evident in the way that man is beneath the angels in present glory, power, and nearness to God.

i. The word translated angels is Elohim, and most often refers to God Himself. There are some (such as Boice) who believe that David meant to say that man is a little lower than God, stressing the idea that man is made in God’s image.

ii. Yet the ancient translators of the Bible from Hebrew to Greek understood elohim here to speak of angelic beings; more importantly, that was how the writer to the Hebrews understood it. “The Hebrew for [angels] is simply ‘God’ or ‘gods’ (‘Elohim’). It may refer to angelic beings.” (VanGemeren)

iii. Significantly, David did not say that man was “a little higher than the beasts,” though one could say that is true. Theologians since Thomas Aquinas have noted that man is in a middle position between the angels and the animals: lower than the angels yet higher than the animals. Yet David rightly makes us look upward and not downward, though many think of mankind as more animal than angelic, David wrote that You have made him a little lower than the angels.

iv. “Although made in God’s image and ordained to become increasingly like the God to whom they look, men and women have turned their backs on God. And since they will not look upward to God, which is their privilege and duty, they actually look downward to the beasts and so become increasingly like them.” (Boice)

v. This very passage is quoted in Hebrews 2:5-9 to reinforce and build upon this exact point. In it he notes that man’s low estate relates only to this world, and not the world to come (Hebrews 2:5). More pointedly, the writer of Hebrews used this passage from Psalm 8 to show that Jesus really did add a genuinely human nature to His divine nature and thus also became a little lower than the angels.

e. You have crowned him with glory and honor: Though for a little while set lower than the angels, man’s destiny is one day to be crowned with a glory and honor that surpasses even the angels. It is the destiny of redeemed men and women to one day be lifted above the angels (1 Corinthians 6:3, Revelation 1:6, 5:10).

i. “Little can sometimes mean ‘for a little while’ in both Hebrew and Greek, which is the sense probably implied in [Hebrews].” (Kidner)

ii. “A little lower in nature, since they are immortal, and but a little, because time is short; and when that is over, saints are no longer lower than the angels.” (Spurgeon)

iii. God’s glory is above the heavens; yet He put this same glory and honor on man as a crown. “This is an effective way of identifying man with God and of saying that he has been made in God’s image, reflecting God’s glory in a way other parts of the creation do not.” (Boice)

iv. As the writer of Hebrews points out, it seems that this divine call and gift given to man of great dominion over the whole earth is tragically unfulfilled; fallen man seems so weak and incapable of dominion over his own thoughts and desires, much less crowned with glory and honor. Yet, as Hebrews properly says, but we see Jesus (Hebrew 2:9).

v. “In Him we have had the full revelation of the greatness of man. But we have seen more than that. We have seen Him ‘crowned with glory and honour, that by the grace of God He should taste death for every man.’ That vision creates our confidence that man will at last realize the Divine purpose.” (Morgan)

vi. “Satan is no doubt filled with scorn of man when he looks at him and measures him with himself. ‘Is this the creature that is to be set over all the works of God’s hands, made of earth and water, phosphates and metals? I am nobler far than he. Can I not flash like lightning, while he must creep about the world to find himself a grave?’” (Spurgeon)

2. (6-9) The dominion of man and the excellence of God.

You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen –
Even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

a. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands: David understood the mandate given to Adam and His descendants at creation (Genesis 1:26-28 and 9:2). By both God’s decree and through superior ability, man indeed has dominion over the other creatures and resources of the earth.

i. “In this section of the psalm, allusions to the first chapter of Genesis are inescapable, which shows that David was thoroughly acquainted with this book.” (Boice) Perhaps this knowledge of God’s word came from David’s mother, whom he twice in Psalms refers to as a maidservant of the LORD (Psalm 86:16 and 116:16).

ii. As part of this authority, mankind has the responsibility to wisely manage the creatures and resources of this earth in a way that gives God glory and is good for man. It means that it is wrong to see man as merely part of the ecosystem (thus denying his God-ordained dominion). It is also wrong for man to abuse the ecosystem, thus making him a bad manager of that which ultimately belongs to God (Psalm 24:1). The mandate of dominion asks man to use the creatures and resources of the earth, but to use them wisely and responsibly.

b. You have put all things under his feet: Here, David developed the idea introduced in the first line of Psalm 8:6. The dominion of man extends to all things, including sheep, oxen…beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea.

i. The Apostle Paul quoted this passage in 1 Corinthians 15:27. Paul quoted it in much the same way that the writer of Hebrews did in Hebrews 2:5-9, showing that this promise of dominion is now only incompletely fulfilled among men. Yet it will be ultimately fulfilled in Jesus, the ultimate Man, and will be one day also completely fulfilled in His resurrected followers.

ii. In light of all this, it is a great tragedy when a man is captured and held in bondage by the things of this world. We were born to have dominion over such material things, instead of being in bondage to them.

c. O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth: When David thought about how vast a dominion God had given to man, it made him praise God all over again. That this humble creature – humble in light of the majesty of the universe, humble in light of its present standing under angelic beings – should be given such authority is a demonstration of both the excellence and the goodness of God.

i. David understood that the position of man in creation says far more about the glory of God than saying anything about the glory of man. Understanding it all should make us praise God, not man. “For man’s dominion over nature, wonderful though it is, takes second place to his calling as servant and worshipper, to whose very children the name of the Lord has been revealed.” (Kidner)

ii. There are three wonderful and important truths about man found in this psalm; when these truths are denied or neglected, man never is what God made him to be.

·God made man.

·God made man something glorious.

·God made man for a high and worthy destiny.

iii. All three of these principles are rooted in what God has made man; they do not exist nor are they fulfilled from the plan or work of man. That is why this glorious psalm about man is even more so a psalm about God. “The most striking feature of Psalm 8…is its description of man and his place in the created order. But the psalm does not begin by talking about man. It begins with a celebration of the surpassing majesty of God.” (Boice)

iv. “He made us to have dominion by the word of creation. He made us kings unto God by his blood. His name shall, therefore, be honoured through all the earth.” (Meyer)

v. “Even thou, silly worm, shalt honour him, when it shall appear what God hath done for thee, what lusts he hath mortified, and what graces he hath granted thee.” (Spurgeon)

(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – ewm@enduringword.com

Categories: Old Testament Psalms

What does Psalm 8:8 mean?

God also placed Adam and Eve in authority over the birds and fish (Genesis 1:28). Of course, human beings still exercise limited control over the birds and fish. We catch fish, and we house birds as pets or train them to perform feats, but sharks and stingrays have been known to maim and kill human beings, and millions of birds fly freely in the sky.

However, during His earthly ministry, Jesus offered a preview of the dominion He will someday exercise over the birds and fish. He told Peter, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me” (Luke 22:34). Luke 5:1–7 relates how Jesus encountered fishermen cleaning their nets after trying all night to catch fish. After borrowing Peter’s boat to teach the crowd from, Jesus directed Peter to drop his nets once again for a catch. Peter told Jesus they had worked all night and caught nothing, but that he would do as Jesus asked. When Peter obeyed, so many fish swam into the nets that the nets were breaking. Following His resurrection, Jesus repeated this miracle (John 21:4–6).

Animals respond to the will of their Creator. It seems only sinful man is inclined to disobey Jesus, but that situation, too, will be changed when every knee shall bow and “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10–11).

Context Summary

Psalm 8:3–9 parallels Genesis 2:8–15 in which God had provided abundantly for mankind and had given them dominion over all living creatures on the earth. Hebrews 2:5–9 applies this part of Psalm 8 to Jesus. He became a real human being on our behalf, and after His death for our sins, He arose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God. Someday, He will sit upon the throne of David and hold dominion over the whole earth. What Adam lost by sinning, Jesus has restored by suffering (1 Corinthians 15:20–28).

Chapter Summary

In this psalm David reflects upon God’s majesty that is displayed in the creation. The heavens declare God’s glory. Against the backdrop of such glory, man seems insignificant, yet God chose man to rule the earth and all its creatures. By giving man this awesome responsibility, God has crowned him with glory and honor. The psalm has a messianic tone, because Jesus Christ became a little lower than the angels by becoming a human being. Someday, when Jesus rules the world, he will restore the dominion Adam lost. All nature, including all mankind, will submit to Jesus’ rule. The psalm ends as it began with a declaration of the Lord’s majestic name in all the earth.

God Be Our Judge

Psalm 7

A psalm[a] of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush of the tribe of Benjamin.

I come to you for protection, O Lord my God.
    Save me from my persecutors—rescue me!

If you don’t, they will maul me like a lion,
    tearing me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

O Lord my God, if I have done wrong
    or am guilty of injustice,

if I have betrayed a friend
    or plundered my enemy without cause,

then let my enemies capture me.
    Let them trample me into the ground
    and drag my honor in the dust. Interlude

Arise, O Lord, in anger!
    Stand up against the fury of my enemies!
    Wake up, my God, and bring justice!

Gather the nations before you.
    Rule over them from on high.

    The Lord judges the nations.
Declare me righteous, O Lord,
    for I am innocent, O Most High!

End the evil of those who are wicked,
    and defend the righteous.
For you look deep within the mind and heart,
    O righteous God.

10 

God is my shield,
    saving those whose hearts are true and right.

11 

God is an honest judge.
    He is angry with the wicked every day.

12 

If a person does not repent,
    God[b] will sharpen his sword;
    he will bend and string his bow.

13 

He will prepare his deadly weapons
    and shoot his flaming arrows.

14 

The wicked conceive evil;
    they are pregnant with trouble
    and give birth to lies.

15 

They dig a deep pit to trap others,
    then fall into it themselves.

16 

The trouble they make for others backfires on them.
    The violence they plan falls on their own heads.

17 

I will thank the Lord because he is just;
    I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

let the LORD judge the peoples. Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High. O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure. My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.

There is one God one judge The Lord be judge of all people. Judge me accordingly Oh Lord, according to my righteousness and honor according to my integrity, O my judge most high. Righteous king of Heaven who searches me and my thoughts and my hearts knowing my honor and desires, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure. My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart. For he is my protector and guidance.

Purpose

It reveals David’s confidence in God to save him from his enemies. He believes he deserves defeat only if he has done wrong, such as by cheating or stealing. The rest of the psalm asks God to judge him according to his righteousness and his enemies according to their evil deeds.

https://www.bibleref.com › Psalms › 7

What does Psalm 7:2 mean? – BibleRef.com

Psalm 7 is the seventh psalm of the Book of Psalms, beginning in English in the King James Version: “O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me”. In Latin, it is known as “Domine Deus meus in te speravi”. Its authorship is traditionally assigned to King David. Wikipedia

Psalm 7

Psalm 7 – Confidence in God’s Deliverance

The Hebrew title to this psalm reads: A Meditation of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning the words of Cush, a Benjamite. The New King James Version translates the Hebrew word “shiggaion” as meditation, though the word is difficult to translate and is used elsewhere only in Habakkuk 3:1. The specific occasion is not easily connected with an event recorded in the historical books of the Old Testament; it may be a veiled reference to either Shimei’s accusations against David in 2 Samuel 16:5 or to Saul’s slanders against David. More likely this Cush, a Benjamite, was simply another partisan of Saul against David. The psalm contains both David’s cry of anguish and shout of confidence in God’s deliverance.

A. David pleads for deliverance.

1. (1-2) A trust-filled plea.

O LORD my God, in You I put my trust;
Save me from all those who persecute me;
And deliver me,
Lest they tear me like a lion,
Rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

a. In You I put my trust: When David was under attack from Cush the Benjamite, all he could trust was God. Every other support was gone, but he needed no other support.

i. “Nothing is known of Cush; but from Absalom’s rebellion it emerged that Benjamin, Saul’s tribe, held some bitter enemies of David (2 Samuel 16:5ff; 20:1ff).” (Kidner)

ii. “It is easy to understand how the slander described in the psalm could have emerged from the smoldering hostility of this tribe.” (Boice)

iii. Some believe that this Cush was really Saul or Shimei. “Cush has been supposed to be Shimei or Saul himself, and to have been so called because of his swarthy complexion (Cush meaning African) or as a jest, because of his personal beauty.” (Maclaren)

b. And deliver me: Sometimes God’s strength is evident in helping through a trial. Other times it is evident in delivering us from trials. David was persuaded that God wanted to deliver him from this trial.

i. To be slandered is a severe trial. “It appears probable that Cush the Benjamite had accused David to Saul of treasonable conspiracy against his royal authority. This the king would be ready enough to credit, both from his jealousy of David, and from the relation which most probably existed between himself, the son of Kish, and this Cush, or Kish, the Benjamite…. This may be called the SONG OF THE SLANDERED SAINT.” (Spurgeon)

c. Lest they tear me like a lion: David believed there would be grave consequences if he were not delivered from these lion-like enemies.

i. This understanding gave David urgency in prayer. God sometimes allows difficult circumstances, so they will awaken this urgency in us.

ii. “It will be well for us here to remember that this is a description of the danger to which the Psalmist was exposed from slanderous tongues. Verily this is not an overdrawn picture, for the wounds of a sword will heal, but the wounds of the tongue cut deeper than the flesh, and are not soon cured.” (Spurgeon)

iii. David also knew what it was like to overcome a lion. “The metaphor of the lion is common in the psalms attributed to David, and is, at all events, natural in the mouth of a shepherd king, who had taken a lion by the beard.” (Maclaren)

2. (3-5) The plea of innocence.

O LORD my God, if I have done this:
If there is iniquity in my hands,
If I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me,
Or have plundered my enemy without cause,
Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me;
Yes, let him trample my life to the earth,
And lay my honor in the dust. Selah

a. If there is iniquity in my hands: With these words, David did not claim sinless perfection. Instead, he simply rejected the idea of moral equivalence between himself and his enemies.

i. “Although David expresses himself as perhaps we would not, his words do not mean that he is perfect, only that he is innocent of the crime of which he was charged…. The question is not whether David was morally perfect but whether he was innocent of this particular slander.” (Boice)

ii. “From the Psalm we learn the nature of the charges, which he made against David. They were: that he had appropriated spoils which rightly belonged to the king; that he had returned evil for good; and that he had taken toll for some generosity.” (Morgan)

b. Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me: David knew that his enemies were thirsty for his defeat. He was so confident in his righteousness in comparison to his enemies that he was willing to be given over to their desire if they were in the right.

B. The righteous judgment of God.

1. (6-7) A plea for God’s righteous intervention.

Arise, O LORD, in Your anger;
Lift Yourself up because of the rage of my enemies;
Rise up for me to the judgment You have commanded!
So the congregation of the peoples shall surround You;
For their sakes, therefore, return on high.

a. Arise, O LORD, in Your anger: David believed that God was a being of human-like passions such as anger. David also believed that the passions of God were on his behalf; he believed God was or would be angry for him instead of against him.

i. It is a mistake to believe that God is without passions. Because He is God, we can say that these passions are not exactly like their human counterparts; yet they are certainly somewhat like them. God is not cold, distant, and dispassionate.

ii. Yet it is also a mistake to assume that the passions of God are always with us or support our opinion. Many dangerous fanatics have been wrongly inspired by the mistaken assurance that God was for them when He was not.

b. Lift Yourself up…rise up for me: David believed that God was for him and his cause; yet he did not hold this belief passively. He actively prayed for the accomplishing of what he believed God’s will to be.

c. For their sakes, therefore, return on high: David’s prayer for protection and vindication was not fundamentally selfish. He knew that his fate was vitally connected to the welfare of God’s people. It was in large measure for their sakes, the sake of the congregation.

2. (8-10) David’s defense.

The LORD shall judge the peoples;
Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness,
And according to my integrity within me.
Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end,
But establish the just;
For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.
My defense is of God,
Who saves the upright in heart.

a. The LORD shall judge the peoples; judge me, O LORD: This was the attitude that protected David from presumption. He honestly invited God’s judgment and correction.

i. Therefore, David asked for God’s blessing according to my righteousness, and according to my integrity within me. In effect he prayed, “Lord, to the extent that I am righteous before You, bless me and protect me from my enemies.”

ii. When David longed for justice, it wasn’t that He wanted ultimate and perfect judgment before God; he looked for justice on the earthly level, justice between him and his false accuser.

b. Let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the just: This reveals more of the heart of David’s prayer. More than anything, he prayed for God to be just. David did not pray for special favoritism with God; he prayed for God to be just, and he searched his own heart to help put him right before God.

i. David seemed to pray here beyond his own personal needs. “There is a great breadth of vision here, revealing a concern for universal justice which was always the motive behind David’s personal appeals for vindication.” (Kidner)

c. My defense is of God: David knew he was at a significant disadvantage before his enemies and had to rely on the defense that is of God.

i. With his trust in God, David did “Throw off slanders, as Paul did the viper; yea, in a holy scorning… laughs at them.” (Trapp)

3. (11-13) God, the just judge.

God is a just judge,
And God is angry with the wicked every day.
If he does not turn back,
He will sharpen His sword;
He bends His bow and makes it ready.
He also prepares for Himself instruments of death;
He makes His arrows into fiery shafts.

a. God is a just judge: David’s prior appeal to God’s testing of man (Psalm 7:9) made him think of the justice of God. He declared this fundamental principle: God is a just judge.

i. This is a commonly and dangerously rejected truth about God. Many anticipate that they will one day stand before a God of great love, great mercy, great warmth, and great generosity. They never imagine they will stand before a God who is perfectly just and who cannot ignore the crime of sin.

ii. We can say that sin is a crime – that it breaks the good and holy law of God. And while all sins are not equally sinful (some sins are worse than others and will receive a greater condemnation, Matthew 23:14), there are no small sins against a great God.

iii. The justice of God is easy to understand if we simply compare it to what we expect from an earthly judge. We don’t think it is right or good if a human judge excuses crime in the name of compassion; we expect judges to be just. Yet many are absolutely confident that God will be an unjust judge on the Day of Judgment. They are so confident of it that they mistakenly rely on this idea for their salvation. David knew the truth: God is a just judge.

b. He is angry with the wicked every day: Adam Clarke believed a more accurate translation of Psalm 7:11 was, “He is NOT angry every day.” He writes: “The mass of evidence supports the latter reading. The Chaldee first corrupted the text by making the addition, with the wicked, which our translators have followed.”

i. If the original is taken as more correct, “The sense seems to be, that there are daily instances in the world of God’s favour toward his people; as also of his displeasure against the ungodly, who are frequently visited by sore judgments, and taken away in their sins.” (Horne)

c. He will sharpen His sword; He bends His bow and makes it ready: David here considered the readiness of God to judge the sinner. David saw the sword sharpened and the bow bent. With God so ready to judge, the sinner should never presume that God will delay His judgment.

i. When God delays judgment out of mercy, many people make a fatal error. They think this mercy means that God is not concerned with justice.

ii. Instead, one should ask: “Why does God hold back the immediate application of justice?” Is it because:

·The sinner is not really guilty?

·The Law is not really clear?

·Mankind, in fact, really deserves such mercy?

·God is not really powerful enough to bring justice?

·God is not really just?

iii. None of these are true. Instead, the sword is sharpened and the bow is bent. The only thing that holds back the immediate judgment of God against the sinner is the undeserved mercy of God, giving the sinner an unknown period of time to repent. Such mercy should never be presumed upon. “Did I say, he will do it? Nay, he hath already done it; his sword is drawn, his bow is bent, and the arrows are prepared and ready to be shot.” (Poole)

iv. The real reason for any apparent delay in God’s judgment is found in the line, if he does not turn back. In His great mercy, God waits for the sinner to turn back, to repent. The apparent delay is an expression of God’s love for the sinner.

d. Instruments of death…arrows into fiery shafts: This powerful poetic imagery communicates the severity of God’s judgment, hopefully providing another incentive to repentance.

i. “The wrath of God may be slow, but it is always sure. In thoughtless security man wantons and whiles away the precious hours; he knows not that every transgression sets a fresh edge on the sword, which is thus continually whetting for his destruction.” (Horne)

C. The resolution of the matter.

1. (14) The wickedness of the wicked.

Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity;
Yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood.

a. Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity: This seemingly obvious statement is important. It shows that a wicked heart will show itself in wicked deeds.

i. Those wicked deeds may have the cover of respectability but will nonetheless be filled with iniquity (as was the case with the Pharisees of Jesus’ day).

b. He conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood: This shows the source of sin – from within the sinner. The sinner conceives and gives birth to sin as a mother gives birth to children – from within.

2. (15-16) God deals with the wicked.

He made a pit and dug it out,
And has fallen into the ditch which he made.
His trouble shall return upon his own head,
And his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown.

a. Fallen into the ditch which he made: This shows a common method of God’s distribution of justice. He often brings the same calamity on the wicked that they had planned for the righteous.

i. “God is righteous. The way of wickedness cannot prosper. It creates its own destruction. The pit digged is the grave of the man who digs it.” (Morgan)

ii. “This is but the highly metaphorical way of saying that a sinner never does what he means to do, but that at the end of all his plans is disappointment.” (Maclaren)

b. His violent dealing shall come down on his own crown: Two examples of this among many in the Bible are the fate of Haman the enemy of Mordecai and the Jews (Esther 7:7-10), and the enemies of Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6:24).

3. (17) The response of praise.

I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness,
And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.

a. I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness: David was wise enough to praise God according to His righteousness and not his own.

i. Though David appealed to God in this psalm on the basis of his comparative goodness, this was not a self-righteous prayer. David knew the difference between his relative righteousness and God’s praiseworthy, perfect righteousness.

b. And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High: David ended this psalm – which began in gloom – on a high note of praise. He could praise, because he took his cause to God and in faith left it there.

(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – ewm@enduringword.com

Categories: Old Testament Psalms

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What does Psalm 7:10 mean?

A warrior uses his shield to defend himself from attack. In the same way, David believes God defends him against his enemies. The phrase “with God” implies that David is entrusting his defense entirely to the Lord. There may be a physical aspect to this prayer of protection (1 Samuel 24:1–2), but it may also be about slander and lies (Psalm 7:1; 3–5). David is confident that God is the ultimate, righteous Judge (Psalm 7:6–9). David knows he is innocent of those crimes, so he has reason to believe the Lord will vindicate him.

God’s deliverance is not always as soon as we would prefer (Habakkuk 1:2–4), but it is always complete. He delivered the Israelites at the Red Sea from the approaching Egyptian cavalry (Exodus 14). The Lord parted the waters so the Israelites could cross safely, but closed them when the Egyptians entered, drowning their army. In the time of Daniel, God delivered Daniel’s three friends from a furnace that was heated seven times beyond its normal temperature, and the three men emerged unharmed without even the smell of smoke on them (Daniel 3:19–27). The Lord also delivered Daniel from a den of hungry lions (Daniel 6:19–23).

The Lord defends His people today, as well. Nothing happens without our Lord’s permission. As difficult as those experiences may be, they are meant for our good and His glory (John 16:33; Romans 8:18–39).

Context Summary

Psalm 7:6–11 follows the section in which David asked the Lord to vindicate him. This seems to have been a response to slander. Here, he asks God, the righteous Judge, to bring consequences to his wicked enemies. David expresses faith that God sees and is angered by sin and that the Lord serves as David’s Protector.

Chapter Summary

David takes refuge in God and asks to be rescued from those seeking his life. He boldly defends himself from accusations of fraud or plunder. Rather than seek his own revenge, David calls on the Lord to execute judgment. The wicked man plots evil, is full of mischief, and gives birth to lies. However, trouble will come back to strike such a person. His sin and violence will lead to a sinful, violent end. David concludes this psalm by giving thanks and praise to the Lord.

I Bow Before Your Holy Temple As I Worship

VERSE OF THE DAY

Psalm 138:2 (New Living Translation)

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I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.

I bow before your holiness in the presence of your holy temple as I wish it in your honor. For I praise and honor your name in evidence of your unfailing love and faithfulness for you promises are revealed true by the honor of your name.

What is Psalms 138 talking about?

This particular psalm describes that those who are close to God live in reality, and those who believe in human power live in a world of fantasy. The singer begins with individual thanks for God’s lasting love and care.

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Psalm 138 – Wikipedia

Psalm 138

Psalm 138 – God’s Promise to Honor His Word and to Complete His Work

This psalm is titled A Psalm of David. Several commentators mention that it was fittingly placed next to Psalm 137, which described the inability of the psalmist to sing before the heathen. Psalm 138 is a declaration that even the kings of the nations will praise Yahweh.

“This Psalm is wisely placed. Whoever edited and arranged these sacred poems, he had an eye to apposition and contrast; for if in Psalm 137 we see the need of silence before revilers, here we see the excellence of a brave confession. There is a time to be silent, lest we cast pearls before swine; and there is a time to speak openly, lest we be found guilty of cowardly non-confession.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“There is a fine blend of boldness and humility from the outset: boldness to confess the Lord before the gods, humility to bow down before him.” (Derek Kidner)

A. Declaration of praise for the past.

1. (1-2a) The declaration of praise.

I will praise You with my whole heart;
Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
I will worship toward Your holy temple,
And praise Your name

a. I will praise You with my whole heart: David began this song with a bold declaration – that he would hold nothing back in his praise to God. It would be done with all his being, with his whole heart.

i. My whole heart: “We need a broken heart to mourn our own sins, but a whole heart to praise the Lord’s perfections.” (Spurgeon)

ii. “‘With the whole heart’ leaves no room for mixed motives of divided devotion.” (Morgan)

b. Before the gods I will sing praises to You: We can’t imagine that David meant he would praise Yahweh in the actual presence of idols and images of other gods. There are three ideas about what David meant by his singing praise before the gods (elohim).

· Perhaps it was a declaration of allegiance to Yahweh and Him alone, and the gods represent the idols of the heathen.

· Perhaps gods (elohim) in this context refer to angelic beings, as in a few other places in the Hebrew Scriptures.

· Perhaps gods refers to kings or judges, such as are spoken of later in Psalm 138:4.

i. “A witness against the impotence of idols…. Praise belongs to the Lord alone and not to the gods of the nations, whose kings will have to submit to the Lord.” (VanGemeren)

c. I will worship toward Your holy temple: Even when David was not at the temple, he recognized it as God’s appointed place for worship and sacrifice. He would worship according to God’s direction.

i. “Wheresoever I am the face of my soul shall turn, like the needle of a dial, by sacred instinct, towards thee, in the ark of thy presence, in the Son of thy love.” (Trapp)

2. (2b-3) Reasons for praise.

For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul.

a. For Your lovingkindness and Your truth: David’s praise was not empty adoration. It had reasons behind it, which were a basis for it. He thought of the great lovingkindness (hesed) of God toward him, and God’s firmly established truth. Meditation on those gifts from God gave David a basis for his spirit of praise.

b. For You have magnified Your word above all Your name: Having mentioned God’s truth in the previous line, now David considered the main way God’s truth is communicated to us – through His word. God has such a high estimation of His word that He has magnified it above His very name, His character.

i. This is a stunning and remarkable statement, showing the incredible regard God has for His own word. He holds His word in greater esteem than His very character or name.

ii. “It would be as if God is saying, ‘I value my integrity above everything else. Above everything else I want to be believed.’ The verse does not have to mean that God’s other qualities are moved to second place.” (Boice)

iii. Charles Spurgeon explained his confidence in complete, God-spoken, inspiration of the Bible: “We believe in plenary verbal inspiration, with all its difficulties, for there are not half as many difficulties in that doctrine as there are in any other kind of inspiration that men may imagine. If this Book be not the real solid foundation of our religion, what have we to build upon? If God has spoken a lie, where are we, brethren?”

c. In the day when I cried out, You answered me: David also had very practical reasons to praise and thank God. The LORD had answered and rescued him many times. When David’s strength failed, God made him bold with strength in his soul.

i. We notice an important pattern in the reasons David gave for his praise. It is important to praise God for who He is, even more than for what He has done for us.

· First he gave God praise for who He is – a God of lovingkindness and truth.

· Then he gave God praise for His revelation – the word, magnified above His very name.

· Then he gave God praise for what He had done – God’s response to David in a time of crisis.

ii. Made me bold: “The psalmist uses a remarkable expression, in saying that Jehovah had made him bold, or, as the word is literally, proud.” (Maclaren)

iii. “If the burden was not removed, yet strength was given wherewith to bear it, and this is an equally effective method of help.” (Spurgeon)

B. Declaration of confidence for the future.

1. (4-6) Praise from the kings of the earth.

All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O LORD,
When they hear the words of Your mouth.
Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
For great is the glory of the LORD.
Though the LORD is on high,
Yet He regards the lowly;
But the proud He knows from afar.

a. All the kings of the earth shall praise You: David was king of Israel and gave praise to the LORD, but he also knew the day would come when all the kings of the earth would praise Him. They would praise Him in response to hearing the words of His mouth from those who proclaim.

i. Morgan saw a connection between the answered prayer of verses 2-3 and the praise of kings described here: “The reason of praise is next declared to be that of lovingkindness and truth as already proved. The effect of praise is to be that of the revelation of God to others, who if they come to know Him, will also praise Him.”

ii. When they hear the words of Your mouth: “It probably means when those who know God declare his words to them. In other words, the psalm is acknowledging the need for the people of God to be missionaries.” (Boice)

b. They shall sing of the ways of the LORD: The kings of the earth would not only praise Yahweh with words, but also in song. This was in response to their understanding that great is the glory of the LORD.

c. Yet He regards the lowly: David understood that God is great in glory and on high, yet He holds the lowly, the humble, in high regard. On the other hand, God keeps His distance from the proud.

i. “Infinitely great as God is, he regards even the lowest and most inconsiderable part of his creation; but the humble and afflicted man attracts his notice particularly.” (Clarke)

ii. “Unto the lowly; unto such as are mean and obscure in the world; to me, a poor contemptible shepherd, whom he hath preferred before great princes, and to such as are little in their own eyes.” (Poole)

iii. David’s statement that God regards the lowly, but the proud He knows from afar is another way of saying a truth from Proverbs 3:34 that is repeated twice in the New Testament: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5).

iv. “Low things he looketh close upon, that he may raise them higher; lofty things he knoweth afar off, that he may crush them down lower. The proud Pharisee pressed as near God as he could; the poor publican, not daring to do so, stood aloof off; yet was God far from the Pharisee, near to the publican.” (Trapp)

v. “Proud men boast loudly of their culture and ‘the freedom of thought,’ and even dare to criticize their Maker: but he knows them from afar, and will keep them at arm’s length in this life, and shut them up in hell in the next.” (Spurgeon)

2. (7-8) David’s firm confidence for the future.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
Against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.
The LORD will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

a. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me: As David considered the greatness of God and His kindness to the humble (Psalm 138:4-6), it gave him confidence that God would revive him in his present trouble. Understanding God’s greatness and kindness builds our faith.

b. Your right hand will save me: When God’s help came, it would come with all His skill and strength (Your right hand). God would defend David against the wrath of his enemies.

i. “Thou shall strike them with thy left hand, and save me with thy right.” (Trapp)

ii. “Adversaries may be many, and malicious, and mighty; but our glorious Defender has only to stretch out his arm and their armies vanish.” (Spurgeon)

c. The LORD will perfect that which concerns me: This was David’s confident declaration. He knew that God had a plan concerning him, and this God of greatness and goodness would absolutely perfect that plan.

i. “This is the language of utmost confidence…. The hope is based, not upon the determination of the singer, but upon Jehovah.” (Morgan)

ii. This is another way of stating the great promise of Philippians 1:6: being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

iii. David could think of the particular promise (2 Samuel 7) that God had made concerning him – that his descendants would rule forever, especially fulfilled in the Messiah. The principle is true for every believer regarding the promise and course of life God has appointed for him.

iv. Maclaren noted the connection between the phrases the LORD will perfect and Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever: “Because Jehovah’s lovingkindness endures forever, every man on whom His shaping Spirit has begun to work, or His grace in any form to bestow its gifts, may be sure that no exhaustion or change of these is possible.”

d. Do not forsake the works of Your hands: With confidence in the never-ending mercy (hesed) of Yahweh, David knew that God would never forsake him, who belonged to God by creation and redemption.

i. “Look upon the wounds of thy hands, and forsake not the works of thy hands, prayed Queen Elizabeth 1. And Luther’s usual prayer was, Confirm, O God, in us that thou hast wrought, and perfect the work that thou hast begun in us, to thy glory; so be it.” (Trapp)

ii. “His creating hands formed our souls at the beginning; his nail-pierced hands redeemed them on Calvary; his glorified hands will hold our souls fast and not let them go for ever.” (Burgon, cited in Spurgeon)

(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – ewm@enduringword.com

Categories: Old Testament Psalms

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Psalms 138:2 Meaning and Commentary

Psalms 138:2

I will worship towards thy holy temple
Not the temple at Jerusalem, which was not yet built, though, when it was, the Jews in their devotions at a distance looked towards it, ( 1 Kings 8:38 1 Kings 8:40 ) ; but rather the tabernacle of Moses, in which was the ark, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi observe; and over that the mercy seat and cherubim, between which Jehovah dwelt; and this being a type of Christ’s human nature, which was perfectly holy, and is called by himself a temple, and is the true tabernacle God pitched, and not man, ( John 2:19 ) ( Hebrews 8:2 ) ; he may be designed, and to him, as Mediator, should we look, and with him deal in all our devotions for acceptance with God; see ( Jonah 2:4 ) ; unless heaven itself is meant, which is the palace of Jehovah, the habitation of his holiness, his temple where he dwells, ( Psalms 11:4 ) ( Habakkuk 2:20 ) ;

and praise thy name, for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth;
which may primarily regard the goodness and grace of God in promising David the kingdom, and his faithfulness in making good the promise, and for both which he was under obligation to praise the name of the Lord; and holds good with respect to all other promises: and it may also signify the free favour and love of God to his people, which is from everlasting, is the source of all blessings, and is better than life; and the faithfulness of God to himself, his perfections, purposes and promises, council and covenant: it may be rendered, “for thy grace, and for thy truth” F13, which both come by Christ, ( John 1:17 ) ; grace may intend both the doctrine of grace, the Gospel of the grace of God preached by Christ, and the blessings of grace which come through him; as justification, pardon, adoption, sanctification, and eternal life, which are all of grace, and by Christ: and truth also may signify the word of truth, or solid substantial blessings, in distinction from typical ones; or the good things that come by Christ our High Priest, of which the law was only a shadow; and these are all of them things the name of the Lord is to be praised for;

for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name;
or “above every name of thine” F14; which Aben Ezra interprets of the glorious name Jehovah; the word God spake to Moses, the name in which he made himself known to him, and to the Israelites, he had not to their fathers, ( Exodus 3:14 ) ( 6:3 ) ; but rather it is to be understood of God’s word of promise, and his faithfulness in fulfilling it; which, though not a greater attribute than any other, yet is made more known and more illustrious than the rest; and particularly may regard the promise of the coming of the Messiah, and of the blessings of grace by him; Jarchi interprets it particularly of the pardon of sin. It may with propriety be applied to Christ, the essential Word, that was made flesh, and dwelt among men; whom God has highly exalted, and not only given him a name above every name of men on earth, but also above any particular name or attribute of his: or however he has magnified him “according”

FOOTNOTES:

F15 to every name of his, it being his will that men should honour the Son as they honour the Father; or “with” F16 every name along with each of them; or “besides” F17 every name; for all these senses the word will bear. Some render them, as Ben Melech, “thou hast magnified above all things thy name” and “thy word”; or, as others, “thy name [by] thy word” F18; see ( Psalms 8:1 ) ( Psalms 57:10 Psalms 57:11 ) ; The Targum is,

“the words of thy praise above all thy name;”

or “over all thy name”: everything by which he has made himself known in creation and providence; “thou hast magnified thy word”, all being done according to the word said in himself, his decrees and purposes; or declared in his word and promises, whereby he has glorified it.


F13 So Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.
F14 (Kmv lk le) “super omne nomen tuum”, Cocceius, Michaelis.
F15 “Secundum omne nomen tuum”, Gejerus.
F16 “Cum toto nomine tuo”, Junius & Tremellius.
F17 “Vel praeter omne nomen tuum”, Piscator.
F18 “Nomen tuum sermone tuo”; so some in Piscator.

Taken from John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

Psalms 138:2 In-Context

1 I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.

2 I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame.

3 When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.

4 May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD, when they hear what you have decreed.

5 May they sing of the ways of the LORD, for the glory of the LORD is great.

What is the meaning of Psalm 139?

The psalm addresses God, or, in Jewish tradition, YHWH, and the speaker calls out and establishes a salutation and an understanding of what he knows God to be. He goes on to marvel at the omnipresence of God even in the most secret of places, and praise God for His vast knowledge of the future.

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Psalm 139 – Wikipedia

I will praise your name for you created me by your hand and your desires and image you formed in me I am fearfully and wonderfully made in your honor and name

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