Psalm 16: You Will Not Abandon My Soul

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         A “mitkam” of David, and the word has a musical connotation but unknown to us now. But King David is the author of this incredible piece of poetry.

2.         It seems David is under considerable pressure, and this might be at the time when he had to flee from Saul and escape to the Philistines on the Mediterranean coast—former and present enemies of Israel.

3.         His first words, “preserve me” indicates the trouble he is in. And he knows who is His LORD, and that he is safe.

4.         David is aware of the great contrast between those who are the saints or holy ones and those who run after other gods. Though hounded, the “excellent ones” belong to the LORD, and the “sorrows” of the pagans multiply.

5.         Despite it all, David knows he has a “beautiful inheritance” and he receives good counsel and that at night, his heart, or his conscience, instructs him.

6.         Thus David knows he will not be shaken since the LORD is always with him. He will not be shaken.

7.         David had every reason to be down and discouraged, but in his inner being, his heart, he rejoices and does so out loud as the phrase “whole being” is best rendered “tongue.”

8.         Whatever happens to him, even death from his enemies, he will not be abandoned to Sheol, or the Pit. This is a way of speaking of life eternal away from the Creator God.

9.         Right in the midst of this comes a prophetic word about the resurrection of Jesus, “or let you holy one see corruption.”

10.       Indeed, for David, and for all of us who trust in our LORD, there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.”

The Fool Says, There is no God Psalm 14

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

           1.              This Psalm is referred to as a “community lament” and we find this description: “To the Choirmaster. Of David.” The Psalm would be sung in the Temple in Jerusalem, and led by a choir of Levities.

2.              “The Fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” The word fool means someone who has no knowledge, has received no revelation, and is therefore corrupt and in the worst way.

3.              This is the universal condition of all people, which God is completely aware of. Sin blinds the heart and mind and the result is a rejection of all good and a seeking after corruption.

4.              Not that there is no religion, but this is a seeking after supposed freedom and self-care.

5.              The Psalmist is addressing both Jew and Gentile, evildoers who persecute and destroy God’s people. And they “are in great terror.” They are desperate, restless, and have no peace, and blindly hate those who worship Yahweh.

6.              These who hate God and those who worship Him attempt to “shame” the plans of the poor, that is, those who are unable to defend themselves. However, the LORD is still the refuge of those who call upon Him.

7.              Verse 7 is the cry of the Psalmist that the salvation of Israel would appear. This is the forward looking for the arrival of the Messiah.

8.              The promise is that the LORD will redeem and save His people Israel, and here Israel is seen in two ways, both the nation and all those who receive salvation, including the Gentiles.

9.              The Psalmist, seeing in the distant future, the working of God’s salvation, declares rejoicing and gladness.           

Psalm 1

The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked

 Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.       The first song, Psalm 1, for that is the meaning of “psalm,”is essentially a hymn, a poem, or a song of praise to God. The author of the first two Psalms is unknown. This psalm leads off Book One and in this book there are 40 more songs of Praise. In all, there are Five books of songs.

2.       There are 73 songs of David, 11 by the Sons of Korah, 12 by Asaph, 2 by Solomon, 1 by Moses, and for the other 50, no author is stated.

3.       The Hebrew for Psalms is Tehillim, which means “praises.”

4.       Psalms is the best known book of the Wisdom Books, which are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.

5.       The first word in verse one is translated “Blessed” and it translates something like, “Oh how happy.”

5.       In this Psalm we find a series of contrasts. In verse one we find that the blessed one “walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” Then the contrast of verse is that the blessed man (read person) delights in the law of the Lord upon which he and she meditates, or thinks about and focuses on daily.

6.       The next contrast shows the blessed one prospering greatly just like a well watered plant.

7.       However, “the wicked are not so.” These are scattered to the wind.”

8.       The greatest of the contrasts we find in the last two verses. At a time of judgment, the wicked are condemned. Those who merely pretended to be righteous within the congregation will be found out and rejected.

9.         God knows those who belong to Him, those who follow righteousness, but “the way of the wicked will perish.”

Does the Sermon on the Mount describe the process of conversion?

The Process of Conversion as seen in the

Sermon on the Mount — Matthew 5:2–12

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.           The nine, or ten, points of the sermon Jesus gave to His disciples very early on in His ministry has been interpreted as the ordinary means or process of conversion. Let’s see what we think. Each one begins with “Blessed.”

2.           “The poor in spirit,” “those who mourn,” “the meek,” and “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” — these expressions represent mental and emotional states that someone who under the oppression of sin, guilt, and shame, recognize their need of forgiveness and salvation. And all this due to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.

3.           This would correspond to the “calling” that we read of in Romans 8:30: “Those whom he predestined he also called…” Then is “justified” meaning born again or saved.

4.           In verse seven we find the word “merciful,” who “shall receive mercy.” Here is a radical change, a conversion. Now instead of guilt and shame, a person has experienced mercy, and it must be the cleansing of sin by means of the shed blood of the crucified Messiah. Having received mercy, one can be merciful to others.

5.           “The pure in heart” — here the “poor in spirit” has now a pure heart, and thus can be in a personal faith relationship with God.

6.           This person who has now experienced forgiveness and enjoys peace with God becomes a peacemaker: this is indeed a radical conversion experience and is common for all in Christ.

7.         Even those who are now experiencing persecution are blessed since it makes evident that theirs is the kingdom of heaven, the desired goal above all others. And in the last verse, Jesus re-emphasizes the fact that for the blessed persecution is coming, just like the prophets before them.

The Year of Jubilee

The Year of the LORD’s Favor

Isaiah 61-1–4

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.              Most Hebrew Bible scholars link this passage to Leviticus 25 and the Year of Jubilee. On the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, all debts were cancelled and slaves were set free. And this every 50 years.

2.              This beautiful piece of poetry is similar to the “servant songs” of chapters 42 to 55 of Isaiah.

3.              It is thought there are two applications for the passage: one, the Jewish people returning from Babylon to Judah and Jerusalem; two, the forgiveness of sin through the shed blood of Jesus and/or the return of Jesus and the reign onset of the Kingdom of God.

4.              The passage begins with the “Spirit of the LORD coming upon “me” and this reminds us of the Holy Spirit falling upon Jesus at the Baptism of John.

5.              There follows then 7 purpose clauses, and these are evident with the use of the infinitive “to.”

6.              1–to bring good news to the poor. This good news is the Gospel. 2–to bind up the brokenhearted. We may see this as the experience of being forgiven and being filled with the Holy Spirit. 3–to proclaim liberty to the captives. This is the preaching of the Gospel message to those trapped in sin. 4–to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor. Here again the believer’s commission to evangelize. 5–to comfort all who mourn. “Comfort(er) one of the terms for the Holy Spirit as found in John 14. 6–to grant to those who mourn in Zion, and this presented in the rest of verse 3. 7–to give them, and four splendid gifts are listed, and all so that “he” the messianic servant “may be glorified.”

7.              And for us who trust in Jesus Christ, we have two years of Jubilee. One, the day of our salvation. Two, either our death or the return of the Messiah.

The Compassion of the Lord

Isaiah 55:1–13

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         In our passage we find perhaps the most beautiful description of grace to be found in the Hebrew Bible, and not the only one either. Law and Grace go together perfectly; indeed, our Gospel is a careful blend of the two.

2.         The great evangelical invitation, “Come, everyone who thirsts” begins this magnificent song. What quenches the great spiritual thirst cannot be acquired by any human effort. 3.         In verse two the question is raised “Why” do we work so very hard for that which can never satisfy? This is the story of the human predicament.       All the world’s religions attest to the traffic error, even much of what is found within the diverse Christian community.

4.         The universal invitation is “come to me,” in verse 3. And when we come to Him He makes an “everlasting covenant” with us, and like the covenant made with David (see 2 Samuel 7:4–17), and David was not close to being without sin, the covenant cannot be broken. This is a way of referring to eternal security, that in Christ, we are saved to the uttermost.

5.         And to us the call comes, “seek the Lord,” and “let the wicked forsake his way,” and the result is we are abundantly pardoned.” Salvation is a constant flow of grace.

6.         Yes, this is beyond our understanding, indeed God’s thoughts and ways we cannot fully grasp.

7.         So now we have a joy and a peace deeply placed within us, this life we have which is an Exodus to a new Eden.

A Surprising Comparison Between Mormonism and Islam

1. Both Islam and Mormonism were started by a prophet who said he had the last word from God. This was the last word and there would be nothing else. This was finally it. Mohammed said this and so did Joseph Smith.
2. Both received, as they reported, a revelation from an angel, Gabriel for Mohammed and Moroni for Joseph Smith. (A number of religions and sects have begun with a visitation by an “angel.”)
3. The purpose behind both visitations was to restore Christianity and true religion. Everything that had been revealed by God before then was wrong or temporary and was now to be put aside. 
4. Both of these encounters with angels resulted in a book, the Koran for Muslims  and the Book of Mormon for the Latter Day Saints.
5. Opposition began and both prophets were martyred. Upon their martyrdom, the groups split along family lines, some following one side of the feud, some following another.
6. Both groups developed a system of prophets or other leaders who proclaimed the authoritative word of God on an ongoing basis.
7. Then there was rapid growth, both groups employing some rather radical methods of evangelism, some quite militant about it. 
8. Both religious groups are rich and powerful.
10. Both groups are quite defensive when they perceive that their belief systems are being attacked. 
11. Both groups rely on miracles to substantiate their “truth.”

He Was Pierced for Our Transgressions, part two

Meditation on Isaiah 53:7-12

He Was Pierced for our Transgressions–Part Two

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.

1.         Here now we have the last part of the Servant Song, which began in Isaiah 52:13. The Prophet Isaiah sets out in such a memorable manner the ministry of the Lamb of God.

2.         Isaiah speaks as though the events he foresees have already been completed as we see in the phrase, “He was oppressed.”

3.         The first message here now is the Lamb is quietly and without resistance being “led to the slaughter.”

4.         This killing is one of oppression, and is carried out unlawfully. Yet, the Lamb yields to the unjust circumstances.

5.         The reason the Lamb is “cut off,” is because of the “transgression of my people?” And we note the question mark, which indicates the cutting off is a shocking event, even something that no one can grasp.

6.         Incredibly, after the death of the Lamb, He is somehow buried with both the wicked and the rich. This incredible prophecy we find fulfilled in Matthew 27:57-60.

7.         The Lamb is innocent in Himself, and His death, His “crushing” is the “will” of the LORD. For those of Isaiah’s day, this would have been completely inexplicable.

8.         And this “will” of the LORD shall result is the utmost prosperity. Indeed, as a result of the work of the “righteous one, my servant,” many will be cleansed of their iniquities. Thus God brings triumph out of tragedy.

9.         As the last servant song comes to a conclusion, we have a retelling of the central motif of Isaiah’s prophecy: by the willful pouring out of His life unto death and thus being numbered with the transgressors, He yet bares the sin of “many”—and we note the “many” and not the all.

He was Pierced for Our Transgressions

Meditation on Isaiah 53:1–6

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passages of Scripture.

1.         Isaiah 52:13–15 is where the fourth “servant song” began that is titled “He was Pierced for our Transgressions.” It is a stunning poem since it encompasses all of human history right up to the return of the despised servant.

2.         Some commentators say the passage speaks of a king, or prophet, or priest that would arise and bring peace and healing to Israel and does not speak of a future event, that is, the incarnation. Clearly, no one in Isaiah’s time fits.

3.         Isaiah speaks of the servant’s horror and misery, which is turned into God’s power and glory. The servant’s suffering is not due to His own sin. Common in that era is the idea that suffering portrayed God’s disfavor.  We see this in Job where it is thought Job’s suffering is something he brought upon himself. Here the suffering is for the sins of others.

4.         In verse 1 of chapter 53 is a question that must remind us of the fact that God reveals Himself and cannot be found out. It is an ancient way of referring to the electing of a sovereign Creator. We are reminded of Romans 8:29–30.

5.         Verse 2 reminds of the virgin birth, with the servant depicted as a young plant, thus weak and lowly, and also one coming like a root out of dry ground—the miraculous.

6.         The servant is not a warrior king saving the nation of Israel, a great prophet with new revelations, but one who bears the sin of the people upon Himself. This personage, and it is referencing a human, is actually pierced, that is killed due to “our” transgressions.

7.         And “all we like sheep have gone astray” points to the great need of the saving Shepherd who takes all our sins upon Himself. A perfect portrayal of Jesus and the cross.