Understanding the Psalms
Understanding the Old Testament Lesson #014
April 9, 2000
Father, we do thank you so that we have this privilege to study Your Word. What a phenomenal thing it is in all of human history to have the complete sufficient revelation that You have provided before us; that we can study it and learn it; that we can transform our thinking according to the absolute standard of Your Word. And that You have given us Your Holy Spirit Who indwells us and Who fills us and Who teaches us, and helps us to understand these things. Now Father we pray that You will help us to think, and to concentrate, to understand the things that we will be studying this morning. We pray this in Jesus' Name. Amen.
This morning we are orienting to the Old Testament. We are in the fourteenth lesson and we are on David and the Psalms. If you want to open your Bibles to some place we will be eventually you can turn in your Bibles to 2 Samuel 7. We are going to review a little bit. In terms of the Old Testament and its structure, the first five Books are called the Books of the Law, the Books of Moses, the Pentateuch, or the Torah (tora) usually translated "Law" but it really means "Instruction." 1440 BC is approximately when it was written. 1446 BC is the date of the Exodus, between 1440-1406 BC is the time that the Jews are wandering in the wilderness. Then you have the historical Books: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. These are the Historical Books that cover the history of Israel from the time they left Egypt until they are taken out under captivity in 586 BC. 931 BC they divide into the Northern Kingdom and Southern Kingdom and this is referred to as the Divided Kingdom. The period from Saul, David, Solomon is the United Kingdom. Then the Northern Kingdom goes out under divine discipline in 721 BC; the Southern Kingdom in 586 BC. Then they return to the land in Post-Exilic Period, after the exile and that are the Book of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.
We are now in the early stages of the Historical Books in terms of our orientation. We have looked at Joshua, Judges, and now we are in Samuel. Last time we looked at the beginning of the monarchy. The other Books of the Bible are called the writings and the Prophets. Job is written sometime probably during the life of Abraham. The Psalms were written many by David, but some were written by others. Moses wrote Psalm 90. Many others wrote Psalms. The selection of the Psalms really began under David. So in our study of David we will get an introduction into the Psalms. Solomon wrote Proverbs, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes. Then you have the Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, the Pre-Exilic Prophets of the Twelve; then the last three: Haggai, Zachariah, Malachi are the three Post-Exilic Prophets. That is the overview of the Old Testament.
Now last time, just to orient us to where we are now in the timeline; 1446 BC is the time of the Exodus and then 40 years of wilderness wandering, which means they came out and came across the Jordan to conquer the land in 1406 BC. The initial part of the conquest lasted approximately seven years. By 1399 BC they are in control of the land and are dividing it up and from that point on it is the mopping up operation. From 1399 BC to 1350 BC you have that consolidation of the land. By that time the conquest generation, which is the second generation; the Exodus generation, which was carnal and rejected God, you have their children that enter the land and they are primarily trusting in God. They are a positive generation and the nation succeeds for the most part, but not completely. They don't annihilate the Canaanites as they are supposed to and because of that failure there is a presence in the land of the idolatry of the Canaanites, which eventually culminates in compromise with people.
By 1350 BC that conquest generation had died off and we saw in Judges 2 that another generation came up that did not follow after God. So you have a negative generation at the exodus; a positive generation at the conquest, followed by a negative generation that reject their LORD. The only time they seem to come back to the LORD is when they are in serious trouble. You see this continuous cycle of disobedience and discipline, and finally they decide to return to the LORD, and God sends a deliverer and then there is usually about 30-40 years of peace, and then they give up and go negative again, and go into divine discipline. That period of the Judges lasted about 300 years. The last three judges were Jephthah, Samson, and Eli. Eli is introduced in the Book of 1 Samuel. He dies after the Battle of Aphek that we saw last time. He is succeeded by Samuel, who is the last of the Judges and the first of the Prophets. He anoints Saul as the first king. The people reject God as King of the Theocracy.
We saw that last time. Because of their disobedience God allows them to be defeated at the battle of Aphek. The Ark of the Covenant was taken captive by the Philistines, which is a devastating defeat. We saw that that is a symbol of the fact that God removed His Presence from the land because the Ark is the Throne of God; it is a sign of the Presence of God, the King of the nation. He is taken into captivity. Hophni and Phinehas, the two reprobate sons of Eli, are killed at the Battle of Aphek. When Eli hears the news that the Ark is taken, he falls off his chair. He is 98 years old and porkulent and he falls off his chair and dies, breaks his neck. It seems to be the end of the priesthood, but there is one grandson of Eli who is born to the wife of Phinehas. The mother, before she dies, calls this son Ichabod, which means "no glory." So every time you would mention the name of the son you would be reminded that the Glory of the LORD had departed from Israel.
So this was one of the most depressing times. The Israelites finally decide they want a king. God sends them Saul. Saul was basically good; but he was not a positive believer. We saw the contrast last time between Saul and David. It is very interesting; Saul does not do anything or commit any sin that seems to us as heinous and as socially reprehensible as David. David is a murderer; he conspired to murder Uriah to cover-up his adultery with Bathsheba. Sometimes you get a picture of David and his mighty men; we glorify that, but we look at Abner and we look at Joab, his generals, and sometimes it sort of reminds you of watching the Godfather (movie.) These were two hit men that David had to go out and take care of some of his enemies. So it is a rugged type time.
If you get a chance to see the movie King David starring Richard Gere; some of the doctrine is a little fuzzy, but the historical archeological background is excellent. David Noel Freeman, who was the editor, biblical archeologist, comes from a liberal framework, but he was the historical consultant on that particular film. But if you want to get a feel, it always changes your whole impression of these things. So much our views, when we think about kings and castles, we have these European concepts of monarchy. You watch it here and you see in the opening scene that Saul had just defeated Agag and the Amalekites and he decides to let Agag live. Whatever the rational is; it is a nice thing to do.… God had told Saul to kill the king, kill Agag, wipe out the Amalekites, kill all the animals, and just totally wipe them off the face of the earth. Saul refused to do that. I forget who played Samuel in the movie, but he comes up and he reaches over (a powerful scene) and grabs his sword from Saul and whirls around and slices Agag's head off just like that. That is exactly how it is portrayed in the Scripture. These guys were tough and rugged and earthy and that is just how it is presented.
I know reading through Samuel the first time I was impressed the language…; it just never translated correctly. Saul is out of fellowship; he is carnal. David has just done well and it has really angered Saul. He is angry and mad and just turns around (and says) and it is translated, "your mother was a cur." Now I want you to think about that a minute in terms of what the real vernacular is. You know nobody has the nerve to translate that "you sob." But that is exactly what he is saying. Remember, this is a carnal, angry, jealous king who was talking. He is not going to come back with some nice little English prep-school phrase like that. So it is strong earthy powerful Book (Samuel). And of course, all of that was inspired by the Holy Spirit so we know it is absolutely accurate.
Well we looked at Saul and we saw that Saul's big sin was that he did not kill Agag and because he fails to kill Agag the kingship is taken from him. In contrast we saw that David, despite his adultery and murder is kept on the throne. In his confession in Psalm 51 he says, LORD, don't take the Holy Spirit from me like you did from Saul. The point is that David is truly repentant. The term repent doesn't mean you are sorry for his sins, of course he was. God really took care of him and divine discipline on David was miserable for the sin he committed. He felt horrible. You read some of the repentant Psalms that are associated with that. Psalm 27 and Psalm 31:32; David is just absolutely miserable. But that is not the point of his confession. That is what God had to do to bring him to the point where he finally acknowledges his sin.
But the difference between David and Saul is that David is said to be a man after God's own heart. No matter what else he does, you see we are all failures at certain times. We commit sins and shock ourselves; we shock other people. People look at us and say how can you be a Christian and do that. The point is that as a Christian your sin nature is just as bad and just as evil and just as nasty as anybody else's and every now and then we let it show and people look at us like how did that every happen. But David has this terrible sin nature, but at the very core of his being, deep in his soul, David desires to do what God wants him to do. God's priorities are his priorities; God's way is his way and that is just the opposite of Saul. Saul does not care about God and he has no concern for divine things, for spiritual things. When the ark came back into the land he leaves it sitting out in a field during his whole reign. He doesn't care about the ark, he doesn't try to rebuild the tabernacle, he doesn't try to build a temple, and he has no concern for that at all.
Yet it is David who as soon as he gained victory in Jerusalem and conquers Jerusalem and takes it away from the Jebusites; he immediately moves the ark to Jerusalem, and then he wants to build a house for the Lord. This is the context that backs up 2 Samuel 7. In 2 Samuel 5 David conquers Jerusalem; in 2 Samuel 6 David brings the ark to Jerusalem; and then in 2 Samuel 7 God will make His covenant with David. Now the interesting thing contextually, and we are going to come back and deal with the Davidic Covenant first before we get into the Psalms, but it is when David brings the ark into Jerusalem that he begins to develop the corporate worship of the nation through the singing and the hymns. One of the things we should note is that when we have all of the mandates in the Mosaic Law for worship there is no mention of singing.
I am not down on singing. But there is no mention; it is not instituted there. It is never instituted. It is as it is always supposed to be; hymnody is to be a response to what God has done in our life. That is how hymnody developed. The song of Miriam in Exodus and the song of Moses were written as responses to what God had done in their life. David is the first one who begins to institutionalize and build formal choirs, and he does this and sets up these choirs to sing the psalms antiphonally as they bring the ark into Jerusalem. One of the major themes throughout all of the psalms is that God's name should be sanctified; that it should be set apart and elevated among everything else and that His should cease to be tarnished and treated lightly by mankind.
The whole idea is when you look at that and you study one of the Mosaic Covenant, the Mosaic Laws; when it says don't take the LORD'S Name in vain, that doesn't mean, although I think it is included in some congenial sense; but so often the way that is taught in American culture it means that you never use the word Jesus Christ or God in front of a curse word or something like that and I think that is just a very small sense of what that means. What it really means to take the LORD'S Name in vain is to tarnish the name of the LORD in some way; to attach it to an unworthy purpose or cause or to claim that something is the will of God when in fact it isn't. That is what happened unfortunately it happens in many denominations.
I would hate to think that in the true sense of that command in the Ten Commandments, the place where the LORD'S Name is taken in vain. The LORD'S Name is taken in vain most today is probably in evangelical churches as well as liberal churches because they are attaching the Name of God to false doctrines, to false causes, and everything else. And yet they stand up there and preach their legalism, don't use the LORD'S Name in vain; don't say Jesus Christ or something else. Yet they are attaching God's Name to their whole doctrinal framework, which is totally false. So it is just one of the ironies of history. One of the major issues throughout the all of the psalms is the idea that there is evil in the world and yet God is working to solve evil. This brings up the whole problem for us of the problem of evil. This is a typical problem that you will run into at times when you are witnessing to people and so I thought that it would be good for us to put it up on the overhead. This is how it is usually presented in terms of an argument:
1. First of all, God is omniscient; therefore, He knows that evil exists and that evil would exist.
2. Second prophesy, God is omnipotent; therefore, He is able to rid the world of evil. He knows evil exist; He is omnipotent; therefore, He is greater than evil; He would be able to rid the world of evil.
3. God is Holy, so He doesn't want evil.
Now their argument is that if those three things are true: God is omniscient, omnipotent, and Holy, then evil not ought to exist. But it does; so therefore, the God you say exists must not exist. Now sooner or later you are going to be witnessing and somebody is going to say; they may not develop the argument in that precise form; they are going to say, well how can you believe in God when all this evil exist in the world. How can you believe in a good God that would allow the Holocaust to take place? And of course, the problem is in the last assumption that God is Holy so He doesn't want evil. The point in the Psalm is that God is continuously working in an evil world to redeem it. Man's assumption is that if God does not want evil He is going to remove it on man's timetable. But God has a different timetable. God is working out His purposes in human history and He is removing evil. That is the whole plan of salvation; is to redeem evil and ultimately to redeem the entire universe and to remove evil and sin from it.
Just because God doesn't snap His finger and it happen instantly does not mean that He is not greater than evil. He has a different plan and He's taking many more things into account than man does. For example, to create man as a true volitional creature He had to allow for man to make bad decisions and evil decisions. If you take away volition then you end the whole panorama of history, which is the whole issue, human accountability and whether or not man will decide for or against God. So when you bring into play the issue of human volition and human freewill, God's overall plan, you will realize that the problem of evil is just another attempt to sophistry to try to attack Christianity and it is based on a couple of false assumptions. But that is a major theme throughout all of the Psalms is that God is a Holy God. God's Name should be elevated above everything else; and God is working out His purposes in human history. He is ultimately going to conquer evil.
Now let's look at the Davidic Covenant itself. In 2 Samuel 7:5ff. God is going to make a covenant with David here and this covenant is so important that it is repeated three times in the Scriptures. You find it stated in 1 Chronicles 17, Psalm 89 and in 2 Samuel 7:5ff. After David conquers Jerusalem David wants to build God a house. Now there is sort of a play on words in this whole thing. In the Hebrew there are a number of puns. Apparently the Holy Spirit likes paronomasias; paronomasia, that is the technical word for pun. David wants to build God a house, but God in turn is going to make David's lineage a house. There is that part of the phrase there that brings out the emphasis of the point in the whole context. Of course if you don't know Hebrew it just goes over your head. That is why it is important for pastors to always get into and know the original language.
David wants to build God a house, but God reminds David that in the plan of God David's role is to be a man of war, not a man of peace. Instead of David building God a house God is going to build David a house. God wants a peaceful person to build the house and that will be Solomon. He is not making any negative comments about war; that would be inconsistent with God's whole mandate to carry out holy war against the Canaanites. But he wants a particular type of person to build the house and that will be Solomon. In the context of this God refers to David several times by an important phrase. Look at verse five. 2 Samuel 7:5 "Go and say to My servant David…;" [audio sound problems…] this is a special title that is only used for a very elite minority in the Scriptures; David is called a servant of God.
God says that he is My servant. This is the ideal for the spiritual life in the Old Testament and it is usually a view. We have a coin from the era of Jeroboam II, who was one of the kings of the Northern Kingdom; he was one of the most wicked kings in Israel in the Northern Kingdom. He had stamped on this coin "Jeroboam the servant of Yahweh". That is just an empty boast because he had no clue Who Yahweh was. He probably was not even a believer and he continued to lead the nation into some of the grossest type of idolatry in the Old Testament. But God is honoring David as His servant. We have to take this back to what we have studied in terms of the Suzerain-vassal treaty form. The treaty was the Suzerain says, if you do thus and so and thus and so, I will bless you. We saw that as the framework for the Mosaic Covenant. But for the servant who is faithful to the Suzerain, to the overlord; you have another category of grant called a "Royal Grant" and sometimes a "Royal Land Grant." That was the framework for the Abrahamic Covenant.
Now you have to understand how this fits in the Old Testament. In the Abrahamic Covenant God said; God promised Abraham three things
1. He promised a land.
2. He promised an eternal seed.
3. He promised blessing, eternal spiritual blessing for all the nations.
Now the land covenant, the land paragraph in the Abrahamic Covenant was expanded in Deuteronomy. Sometimes that is called the Palestinian Covenant or I prefer the land covenant because Palestine comes from the Hebrew word paleset, which is the word for the Philistines. That is where that comes from; it is not the land of the Philistines; it is the land of Israel. I don't like the term Palestine at all; that shows a non-biblical view of history. It is assuming that the Philistines have a right to the land. So you could never use that. It is God's land for Israel. The land is expanded the paragraph in the land covenant. The second part of the Abrahamic covenant is, "I will give you a seed." That is expanded in the Davidic covenant. The land covenant, the land treaty, the Davidic covenant, and the New covenant all are expansions of sections of the Abrahamic covenant; so therefore they relate to that concept of a royal land treaty/royal grant treaty which is a special blessing given to a faithful servant.
Now the application for this is that the parable where the Lord talks about the land owner who leaves and gives responsibility to his servants. And when he comes back one of his servants hasn't done anything with it, another has invested and made a little bit, and one has invested and made more, and one has invested and made a lot more. The Lord said to the last one, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." This is what we want to hear from the Lord at the judgment seat of Christ. So what this is a picture of is the believer's rewards at the judgment seat of Christ. When the believer has a faithful life on earth and is obedient to the Lord then there are special blessings reserved in heaven for that believer throughout all eternity. This foreshadows that in terms of how God treats "My servant" in the Old Testament.
2 Samuel 7:5-8"Go and say to My servant David, 'Thus says the LORD, "Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle. Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, 'Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?' Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts…." In Hebrew this is Yahweh Sabaoth, which means 'the Lord of the Army', so it pictures Him in terms of His command, the Commanding General of the Armies of Israel taking them into the land and conquering the land. "I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be a ruler over My people Israel.'"
There is something we have to understand here about background. Remember, the Bible always needs to be interpreted in the time in which it was written. If we looked at the social structure of Israel in terms of all their prejudices and biases, if we went to the bottom rung of the social ladder and dropped to about ten feet below ground level; that is where the shepherd belonged. There was no one in their society looked down upon like the shepherd. He is somewhat comparable to a street person. Now we don't see that too much out in the country here, but when you go to Boston or New York or some of the big cities you will find street people out there and you drive through the streets. I know down in Houston you will find three or four people waiting at some traffic light with their squeegees and mops and they want to clean your windshield so you will give them a buck or something like that. I think I read an investigative reporter followed one around for a while and when he left and went home and changed clothes and got into his Mercedes. He was taking home about 75 grand a year cash. That means he probably wasn't paying tax on any of it. He had a good scam going.
But a shepherd in Israel at that time had about as much social status and was looked upon with about as much regard and respect as we look upon a homeless person or a street person out there living under a bridge or in a cardboard box out in the city park somewhere. So, for God to take that shepherd and elevate him to the highest level of society indicates that God does not look on them outside but on the inside, and the issue is positive volition; and because David came out of the sheepfold he has learned humility, grace orientation, and he trusted God. He had learned to meditate on God and to learn about Him, and that prepared him for his future. It is also interesting that the term 'pastor' is basically brought over; it means shepherd. The same thing is true in the New Testament. In the New Testament times at the birth of Jesus when the angels appeared to the shepherds; they were the lowest element in society to come and worship. And God says, okay, I am going to designate the leaders of the church as shepherds, as pastors, this is not a complementary term. Every now and then we remind pastors that God has chosen to call us by a term that at the time was developed to recognize one of the lowest, least respected elements in society. So we are shepherds because of our function, to feed the sheep.
Now, in the Davidic covenant God outlines several promises to David. 2 Samuel 7:9-11 "I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you;" notice this is all in the past tense. This is what God has done for David. He, the Great King, is rehearsing the blessings that He has bestowed upon His vassal. "I have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will …;" notice the shift, "I have been with you; wherever you have gone I have cut off all the enemies." That is all past tense and then it shifts in verse nine to future tense, "I will make you a great name." Like the names of the great men who are on the earth. "I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you."
Now there is a shift there at 2 Samuel 7:12 "When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers," that means everything previous to this is what will occur in David's lifetime. But in 2 Samuel 7:12 it is going to introduce what God promises to do after David has died physically. "When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom." This is a prophecy related to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a double fulfillment, initially Solomon and ultimately the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Samuel 7:13 "He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever." That is where it moves from Solomon in the first part to the Lord Jesus Christ in the second part. 2 Samuel 7:14 "I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me…" This is a reference to the house as a whole. Notice how 2 Samuel 7:14 cannot be a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ: "… when he commits iniquity." He is talking here about the whole house of David as a whole; all of his descendants. It is treating the kingship as if the king is a son to God. 2 Samuel 7:14-15 "He will be a son to Me when he commits iniquity I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you." So God's faithfulness will always extend to the Davidic house. 2 Samuel 7:16 "Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever."
Now if we are to interpret this literally, then this means that even though right now there is not a Davidic throne in Jerusalem, for God to be faithful to His promise He must restore someone to that throne and there must be a literal king on a literal throne in Jerusalem. Because part of this has been fulfilled literally; so part of the promises are fulfilled literally; the future, yet still unfulfilled promises must also be fulfilled literally. For example, God promised David that He would give him a great name. This is fulfilled in 2 Samuel 8:13 when:
1. David has conquered all of his enemies and he has a name that goes throughout all the world. He is famous.
2. Secondly, He promises David to extend the borders of the land, which happened in 2 Samuel 8. You have the rehearsal of all of David's conquests and how he pushed the borders of Israel almost to the greatest extent they ever had. But it still doesn't go all the way to the boundaries that God had promised to Abraham back in Genesis 15.
3. God promised to give David rest at the end of his life, and this is fulfilled in 1 Kings 5:4; that the nation would have rest and peace and all this would occur in David's lifetime.
So God fulfilled part of the covenant literally He must to be consistent He must interpret even the yet to be fulfilled promises in a literal manner. The promises to be fulfilled after his death are that he would have an Eternal Seed. Now never before had a dynasty been promised to have eternal prosperity or to have an Eternal Kingdom; that there would be an Eternal Dynasty. What this means is that there would always be a descendant of David on the throne. This becomes the tangible symbol of the covenant. Remember I said that all covenants have a symbol. The Noahic Covenant has a symbol of the rainbow. The Abrahamic Covenant has the symbol of circumcision. The Mosaic Covenant had the symbol of the Sabbath. Well the symbol of the Davidic Covenant is that there is a descendant of David on the throne.
So the Jews could look to Israel and they could see a descendant of David on the throne in Jerusalem and that was a sign of Davidic Covenant that God was still faithful to His promise. Now this was almost destroyed by Athaliah. Athaliah was the queen following Jezebel and Ahab and she also led the nation into idolatry. A wicked, wicked woman who had 69 of her children killed. She hired an assassin to go in and wipe-out every descendant; every male child would be destroyed. Sixty nine children were destroyed, but the high priest had gotten wind of the plot and grabbed the infant Joash, who was hid in the temple until he was seven years old. So he survives and resumed the throne as a young boy and eventually leads the nation in a revival. He is brought up by the priests in the temple. He is instructed in the Law and then he institutes a true revival. He takes the people back to reinstitute temple worship and he reinstitutes the Law and they rediscover copies of the Law that they had began to copy and spread throughout the land. So there is a true revival in the nation Israel under him, 2 Kings 1:11-14:23.
Then you come in the New Testament to Jesus. Jesus is a descendant. He is the last descendant of David. And Jesus never marries; He never has any kids; and yet Jesus is crucified. So it changes if the covenant is over with. But Jesus is like one of those trick birthday candles. You blow it out and it comes back. So Jesus comes back at the resurrection and He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, which is at the right hand of the throne; it is not on the throne. That is something that progressive dispensationalist are trying to do. It is an allegorical interpretation; so Jesus is now on the Davidic throne. But you see, that is the same thing that amillennialist, those who believe in no literal millennium, no literal kingdom; they have been interpreting those passages spiritually all along and that is one of the problems with progressive dispensationalism; and where Dallas Seminary is going with that. They are beginning to treat passages or interpret passages in a spiritualized allegorical way in the same way that amillennial covenant theologians have interpreted those passages and there is no warrant for it.
So Jesus Christ is born of a virgin. Why? Because his father Joseph is the legal descendant of David but he comes through the line of Coniah. In Jeremiah 22:30 Jeconiah or also called Coniah. There is a Coniah curse. In Jeremiah 22:30 the LORD says, "Write this man…." He was one of the most wicked kings in the Southern Kingdom. "Write this man down childless a man who will not prosper in his days, for no man of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah." So Jeremiah 22:30 is known as the Coniah curse; and because of that curse on Coniah, none of his descendants can sit on the throne. His line goes down to Joseph. Mary is the descendant of another child of David so Jesus traces His lineage back and that is why there is a difference in the genealogy between Matthew 1 and Luke 4. Luke traces it one way and Matthew traces it another way. Matthew traces Mary's lineage; Luke traces Joseph's lineage. The point is that Jesus is both by adoption to Joseph a legal heir to the throne and by His physical lineage through Mary He is doubly qualified; He is doubly an heir to the throne of David.
So there is a promise of an eternal seed and secondly an eternal throne in Jerusalem on Mt. Zion. We don't have that now, but it will come about in the future during the Millennial reign, and that is also an eternal kingdom for Israel. This is stated in 14-15, "I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me when He commits iniquity I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you." So this will go on forever; that is the idea.
Now, we want to shift gears here and go into the Psalms; because with David we are introduced to a formal worship setting in Israel. We are not going to get very far this morning, but at least we will get some introductory things about the Psalms. The Psalms have always been richly appreciated by the people of God because I think they speak to the very core of our experience. When we read through the Psalms we read about men and about the nations who are struggling with the problems we all struggle with faced with the adversities that we all face and we see how they work through our problems by applying doctrine. One of the most important things you should learn in reading the Psalms is that as you read the Psalms you see how the writer will think though logically, especially about the character of God and how different attributes of God are applied to particular problems in order to provide problem solving in terms of the faith-rest drill. So the Psalms speak to our very existence.
Now the Psalms are written by many different people. David writes most of them but not all of them. They are the hymns that the Jews sang. They are the words and the lyrics to the songs. I have always said, if you are going to write good songs and hymns that are sung in the church, then let's use the Psalms as our standard in terms of the content and the lyrics. There is content there; there is development; there is thought flow; there is deep theology that you can get into. Now I recognize that we're not going to be inspired by God the Holy Spirit in writing hymns, but we can at least inspire to write hymns that have content to them and are not just repetitious words or phrases over and over again; or that simply represents or review very superficial ideas.
The Psalms are divided into five different Books and the last Psalm or last verse in each Book is a benediction or a blessing. They are divided up like this:
1. Book One covers Psalms 1-41; and at the end of Psalm 41 we read: "Blessed be the LORD, [Blessed be Yahweh] the God of Israel, From everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen." That is the end of the first Book.
2. The second book, Book Two of the Psalm goes from Psalms 41-72. This ends with Psalm 72:19, "And blessed be His glorious name forever; And may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen. And then notice Psalm 72:20, it states, "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended." But that is not true in our collection of the Psalms. For example, Psalms 142 and Psalm143 are also written by David. So, what this tells us is that at an earlier stage in the collection of the Psalms there was a selection where all the Psalms of David were selected in the fist 72 Psalms. Then as other Psalms were written by other people throughout the history of Israel those were added and the selection was rearranged and there is a different form today than it was at one particular time. This relates to what is called the progress of revelation.
God doesn't dump everything at one time in history. He reveals Himself incrementally over time. Abraham did not know as much as Moses did; Moses did not know as much as David did; David did not know as much as Isaiah; Isaiah does not know as much as Paul or as John. I think that even though the apostles knew a lot more than they wrote about and they had a tremendous grasp of what they wrote; I think that we understand some things even better than they did. We have had 2000 years to reflect upon the details of what they have written and to really understand or to unpack all of the ideas that were there. It was not that they didn't believe in; it is that they are not as fully aware of all of the implications of what they were writing as we are today because we have had more time, 2000 years has gone by, to study and flesh out the meanings of everything that they wrote. So
Psalms 72:20 indicates a different selection; and that makes sense within the development of canonicity.
3. Book Three covers Psalms 73-89 ending with the benediction in Psalm 89:52, "Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen."
4. Book Four covers Psalms 90-106 and ends with Psalms 106:48 "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting even to everlasting. And let all the people say, 'Amen.' Praise the LORD!" The term "Praise the LORD" is one we find frequently in the Psalms, and in the Hebrew it is the word "hallelujah." "Jah" is the abbreviated form of Yahweh: hallelu is the imperative form of the word hallel, to pray. It is a command; it is not declarative sentence like so many Christians use it. Sometimes you hear people say, "Well, Praise the Lord…" That is such a trivialized use of what this means. It is a command to "Praise the LORD;" we'll see the root concept of what it means to "Praise the LORD" when we get into a look at the "Praise" Psalms a little later on.
5. Book Five, the last selection from Psalms 107-150. Psalm 150, the last Psalm, is just one long extended benediction or praise to the LORD.
Psalm 150:1-6 "Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary" That would be in the temple. "Praise Him in His mighty expanse." That is in the heavens, outside; not just in the temple, but outside as well. We are going to see this from antithetical parallelism. We will study parallelism in a minute. See this is the contrast: praise Him in the temple; praise Him outdoors… What do you think? Praise Him everywhere! It is like a marriage; it is like heaven and earth; that means the whole universe; day and night means continuously, all the time. "Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre." I have never understood this; when you get into talking about music there are traditionally; I know you don't know that and don't believe that living in New England, but there are traditionalist around who believe that you can only have organs and pianos in the church. They don't want to have guitars and they don't want to have drums; and they don't want to have cymbals and all this… Now that is a matter of taste, but it is not a biblical thing. The harp and lyre, the lyre is the early, early form of a guitar like instrument. "Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments (guitar) and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals (tambourine); Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!"
Jews are typical Mediterranean people; they are very inclusive when they demonstrate their praise. They are not like white Anglo-Saxons Protestant Western Europeans who want to feel restrained and hold back your emotions and be primarily cerebral. There is nothing wrong with that; that is just cultural; and I think that it is just as wrong for some churches to read passages like this and say, oh we have to act like the Jews do; as it is to try to force other cultures that are more emotional than white Europeans are to be less emotional. That is just a cultural thing; it is not an absolute; don't make issues out of that.
But today we live in a dynamic were a lot of the music that is being developed; you want to bring in your little stage band and have a worship leader; 1900 years of worship leaders in the past are not the song leaders. A song leader is a song leader; a worship leader is a the man who teaches you what God had said so that you can in turn worship Him. Worship is a response to what God has taught you. If you do not know God you cannot worship God. You can only know God through the teaching of God's Word from the pulpit. So the singing is a form or worship, but that is a lesser form of worship than the teaching of God's Word. So I really react to this whole modern trend to call the song leader the worship leader. But they get the band up there and all of this really flows from an underlying idea that we have to make the church more culturally compatible with what unbelievers experience outside, so that when they come to church they will feel comfortable.
Now, I don't think we should try to make unbelievers feel uncomfortable in church; but unbelievers ought to realize that when they come into a church it is a different culture operating in that church. There is a culture that has developed; it is music; it is worship; it is formed everything from the revelation of God. They should not come in and hear music that is reminiscent of what they hear on an oldies goldies station or rock station; they don't realize that there is no cultural incompatibility; and this is the problem today in church growth movements and everything else; it is let's make the church comfortable for seekers. Well seekers are people I call serious, but not positive. I would rather have a church that is aimed at teaching the truth of God's Word because positive people, people who really want to know the truth will respond. I do not want to waste a ministry on people who are serious and not positive. Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit job to make His Word clear and if people are positive to the Gospel and positive to the Word they will come. I would rather have a church of 20 people who wanted to go somewhere in the spiritual life and learn the Word than have a church with 200 and 2000 in the church because then you either have a bunch of babies who are just messing their spiritual diapers all the time. You are constantly just babysitting, which is exactly what happened….
I love Earl Radmacher, the Chancellor of Western Conservative Baptist Seminary. He said, "The problem with evangelicalism today is that it is the world's largest nursery and none of the nursery workers have a vision for getting anybody out of the nursery." Think about that. That is the problem. Most pastors have no clue how to get people from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity and that is not the goal of the church. The goal of the church is to worship; the goal of the church is evangelism; and all of that is good, but that is not the goal that God gave us. The goal that God gave us is to take people to spiritual maturity. If you don't want to grow to spiritual maturity that is fine, there is the door. We are here to take you to spiritual maturity. I am not here and my role as a pastor is not here just to entertain or just to give nice little feel good warm fuzzy sermons and hug everybody and say how wonderful life is going to be. That is not the biblical concept of a pastoral ministry. So we have to start with what the Scripture says. If people out there who are just casually curious don't like it; well, that is just too bad. They can find something that stirs their glands down the street.
Psalm 150:3-6 "Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!"
Now, most of the Psalms are Davidic. I think this is helpful. I never forget the first time I began to learn Hebrew; before I ever went seminary; back in the days when Bible churches actually taught people the Bible. Friday when I was speaking in the chapel at Chapel Seminary, I taught on feeding the sheep. I used as part of my illustration the fact that when I grew-up in Houston there might have been twenty, fifteen maybe, Bible churches that were mostly pastored by Dallas Seminary graduates. I knew most of those men because of the work that I did with Camp Peniel, assistant camping. We had a lot of kids come to most of those churches during the summers. I got to know most of those pastors; they were good teachers; and you learned a lot from those teachers.
When I went back to Houston in 1990; I went around and visited a number of Bible churches in Houston. Most of them are pastored by Dallas grads; some of those guys I knew were still pastoring. I was amazed at how deluded their messages were; guys who were teaching three of four times a week in the early 70s were not teaching once a week; and their sermons were predictable. They were short now, 25-30 minutes. Everybody has been infected with this idea that you have to make everybody comfortable, especially the unbelievers. So let's not challenge anybody to much, my goodness! They might be offended and goodness they might not come back. So when I went around and visited I was appalled. Now there are about fifty Bible churches in Houston and out of that I know that in 1990 there was two that was teaching anything. Now I think there are maybe four guys that I know that are teaching to one degree or another. A couple of them are teaching a whole lot more than others.
But the problem is that there is loss of vision for what it is all about. The Head of the Greek department down at the capital came up to me and afterwards and he said, you know, and Dr. Eggers is just a great old wonderful guy, graduate of the Naval Academy, Marine Corp. officer, graduate of Dallas Seminary with a doctorate's degree. Dr. Eggers came up to me and said, You know Robby, before I ever went to seminary I knew that in Revelation 17 there was three different positions and I knew the strengths and weaknesses of everyone of those positions because that was what I was taught in church. Now when I get students coming to seminary, they don't even know what Revelation 17 is about, much less that there are three different positions in what the strengths and weaknesses are. Churches aren't teaching anybody anything anymore. It is tragic! We have to learn these things and all of this stuff I learned before I ever went to seminary and it really just opened up the Psalms to me.
So we are going to take a few minutes to understand the background of the Hebrew poetry and how these are set up so the next time you read through the Psalms you can read them with a little more intelligence and perhaps get a little more out of it on your own. The nature of Hebrew poetry is based on two things: rhythm and parallelism. I am not going to say anything about rhythm; you would not understand it anyway. It is based upon Hebrew accents and you have got to read it in the original or you just miss it. So, we'll have to skip that. But, the most important feature is parallelism. In English when we write a poem often there is a rhyming of words. There are consonants and consonants and something of that nature; and there is similarity of sound and vocalization of words and that is rhyming the words. In Hebrew there is a rhyming of paralleling mirroring of ideas from sentence to sentence. So it is not a rhyming of words but of ideas. There are various different types of parallelism. I am only going to go over three or four, but there is about six or eight. These are the most predominate ones:
1. The first is synonymous parallelism, which is exactly what it sounds like. The parallel is synonymous. It reflects the same thing. In the first line you state the point and in the second line you repeat it in almost exactly the same way. It will pick up similar nuances. What is interesting is that when you use synonyms sometimes one word is broader than the word that is used in the next paragraph. It helps to understand word meanings. For examples, when David confesses his sins he says, "LORD, I confess my sins to You;" and in the next line he says, "I acknowledge my wrong doing." Well in the second line he is saying the same thing that he said in the first line, but what you learn by examining the synonym is that "acknowledge" is the synonym for "confess" and it helps you understand that "confess" is not weeping and waling and beating yourself, self-flagellation to convince God that you are sorry for your sins. It is simply acknowledging your transgression to God. And so by looking at this we can gain a lot of insight into different things and different words and different ideas.
So, let's look at some examples: Psalm 2:1 "Why are the nations in an uproar…"; this is looking at how all the nations, fulfilled at Armageddon; it pictures all of history; how human nations are always antagonistic to God and portrayed as being in conflict with God. "Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing?" That is a synonym. The nations and the peoples are the same thing. They are in an uproar and it's a little more specific in the second line. The uproar is defined as they have vain planning, empty planning. They are trying to do something they will never accomplish; they are trying to act like God.
Psalm 2:2-5 "The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together…" You see they are saying the same thing in just a slightly different form. "Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us! He who sits in the heavens laughs;" God is laughing; "the LORD scoffs at them." See how it mirrors; one line mirrors the idea in the other line. "Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury.
2. Then the second form of parallelism is emblematic parallelism. In this the first line states the concept and then the second line will picture, illustrate or elucidate what is said in the first line. It will expand it, develop it. It doesn't just restate it, it goes on to develop it a little further. Psalm 23:1-6 is a great example of emblematic parallelism: "The LORD is my shepherd…;" that states the point in a somewhat metaphorical way; then you get the implication of it, the expansion of it in the second line, "I shall not want." Because the LORD is my shepherd I shall not want. "He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters." Those are different ideas, one develops; "He restores my soul." I think that in the original "He restores my soul" goes with those first two lines. "He leads me" is a metaphor. "He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters." What does that mean? Literally, "He restores my soul." The first two are metaphorical; the third line, "He restores my soul" is the point. "He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His Name sake" is part of a concluding sentence. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil." Then you have the expansion, "For Thou are with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me." So "Thou are with me" how? "Your rod and staff comfort me;" it expands the idea. "Thou prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemy; Thou hast anointed my head with oil;" so, not only have You taken care of all of my needs in the presence of hostility, but it goes a step further to where You have treated me in a special manner. "You have anointed my head with oil" and You have given me abundant blessing, "My cup overflows." "Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."
3. Then in synthetic parallelism you state a point in the first line and then expanded it in the second line. Psalm 1:1-2"How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of the sinners or sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law He meditates day and night."
4. Then you have antithetical parallelism, which is where the two lines contrast with one another. The first line is the opposite of the second one. Psalm 1:6, "For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." By stating it in contrast it makes its point. Many of the proverbs are based on antithetical parallelism. Proverbs 10:4 "Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich." So by contrast it makes the point. Psalm 10:19 "When there are many words transgression is unavoidable. He who restrains His lips is wise." A very nice way of saying, 'Be quiet.' Proverbs 12: 1 "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge; but he who hates reproof is stupid."
Now, more than fifty per cent of the Old Testament is in poetry. Much of the Prophets are in poetry. Almost every time that God speaks it is written in a poetical form; so to understand these dynamics of Hebrew poetry really helps to understand what is going on as we read the Scripture on our own. Now next time we will come back and we will look at the categories of Psalms. There are about five or six categories of Psalms. If you can understand the kind of Psalm you are reading it will help you to see its application and its implication to your life. So we will come back and begin with that nest Sunday morning. With our heads bowed and our eyes closed.
Father, we thank you for Your Word, Your faithfulness; we thank You for just all of the doctrines that are there, the complexities of Your Word and no matter how much You study it there is so much more to learn and understand. There are so many things that challenge us and bring us back to You are the purpose of everything in the universe. Father, we pray that if there is anyone here that is uncertain of their salvation; that they would take this opportunity to make that certain. All that is necessary is faith alone in Christ alone; believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Father, we pray for the rest of us; that we will be challenged by the things that we have learned; that we will have a greater understanding and appreciation of all You have done in revealing Yourself to us in Your Word and that we might be challenged to advance to spiritual maturity. We pray this in Jesus' Name, Amen.