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Summaries, Job 27-31

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

 

Job 27 begins with Job insisting that he is telling the truth and that he has no problems telling the truth because his conscience is clear.  He acknowledges that as a rule, God sends punishment against the wicked.  Even though he appears to prosper and heap up riches for a little while, his life doesn’t have stable foundations and he eventually will lose everything.

Job 28 gets a lot more flowery as Job turns his attention to, of all things, mining.  He spends the first 11 verses describing man’s ability in searching out the things that are hidden in the earth.  No other creatures can see it, but mankind will dig out mines and dam up subterranean streams to extract ore and gemstones. 

By contrast, wisdom is impossible to discover.  You can’t find it, nor can you buy it.  Neither the living nor the dead possess it.  Only God, who knows and understands everything, possesses wisdom, and His wisdom is to tell us to fear Him and turn away from evil.

Job 29 revisits Job’s formerly blessed condition.  Before, he says, God watched over him, protected his children, and gave him prosperity.  In the city, young and old alike listened to him and respected him.  Everyone honored him because he consistently protected the vulnerable and weak and treated them righteously.  He believed that because of his goodness, he would live a long time, be satisfied with life, and die an honorable death.  Others sought out his advice and he had a high status in society.

Job 30 contrasts those former blessings with his current misery.  Now everyone laughs at and mocks him.  This includes not only the respectable but the worthless, men of so little value that they have been driven out of the community to scratch out a living in the wilderness.  Even people like that now mock him and spit on him, so that his honor has gone along with his prosperity.

However, Job’s biggest problems come not from men but from God.  It is God who truly has been cruel to him, and he anticipates that he will die because of God’s disfavor.  Nonetheless, he still cries out for help, anticipating that he will receive the same aid he has given to others.  In the meantime, though, his suffering continues.

Job 31 contains Job’s great defense of his conduct.  It has been called “ the definition of the virtuous man” in the same way that Proverbs 31 is the definition of the virtuous woman.  In it, Job insists poetically that he has shunned lust (31:1-4), deceitful business dealings (31:5-8), adultery (31:9-12), unjust treatment of his servants (31:13-15), miserliness toward the poor (31:16-20), injustice toward orphans (31:21-22), covetousness and idolatry (31:23-28), vengefulness (31:29-30), mistreatment of strangers (31:31-32), secret sin (31:33-34), and misuse of land (31:38-40).  If he has done any of these things, he calls curses down on himself according to the sin that he has done.  Only a man with a clear conscience would dare say such things!

Summaries, Psalms 67-70

Monday, July 08, 2019

 

Psalm 67 calls all the nations to praise God.  It begins with an appeal to God to bless Israel so that all other nations can recognize His power.  This will give them reason to praise Him, an idea that is repeated as a “chorus” throughout the psalm.  The psalmist continues to observe that the nations should rejoice in God because He judges them righteously and guides them.  The psalm concludes by celebrating the recent good harvest and observing that God’s blessing of His people gives the nations reason to fear Him.

Psalm 68 is a war song written by David, probably as the Israelites are about to leave Jerusalem to fight against enemies from Bashan (northeast of the Sea of Galilee).  It opens by describing the totality of God’s victory over His enemies.  He will crush the wicked, and the righteous will praise Him for it.  He blesses the humble and provides rain for His people, but the rebellious will suffer drought.

From there, the focus shifts to the Israelite women (probably actual women in this assembly) who will rejoice in the good news and spoils of battle.  David then contrasts the rebellious mountain of Bashan with Mount Zion, where God dwells and leads His people victoriously (note that 68:18 is quoted in Ephesians 4:8).  He anticipates that God will completely defeat the rebels from Bashan.

After this, we see a recounting of the parade that is passing out of the gates of Jerusalem as the psalm is being sung:  singers and musicians, then contingents from Benjamin, Judah, Zebulun, and Naphtali.  The closing portion of the psalm appeals to God to punish the warmongers who have started this conflict, then calls all nations to praise Him.

Psalm 69 is another Davidic psalm, but is about a time of trouble instead.  In it, David compares his troubles to a flood.  His problem is the numerous people who hate him though he has done nothing wrong.  As a result, he appeals to God to punish them instead.

From there, David laments all of his troubles and says that their source is his devotion to God.  His enemies laugh at his godliness, but David continues to pray to God for help.  He pleads to God to rescue him and points out all the bad treatment he has received.  He asks God to return his tormentors’ malice on their own head.  He promises that if God will do this, he will praise Him and call all the earth to do likewise.

Many portions of this psalm prophetically anticipate the suffering of Jesus and are applied to Him in the New Testament, particularly vs. 4, 9, 21, and 25.

Psalm 70 is similar in content to its predecessor.  Once again, David is in trouble and wants God to deliver him and punish those who hate him.  In comparison, David asks for God to give those who seek Him reason to rejoice.  The psalm concludes with a plea for God to help him quickly.

Summaries, Psalms 62-66

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

 

Psalm 62 is another psalm written by David in a time of trouble.  He expresses his determination to wait on the Lord because the Lord’s protection is certain.  Vs. 1-2 make up a “prelude” that is repeated in vs. 5-6.  Vs. 3-4 explain David’s problem:  he is attacked by people who want to overthrow him as king.  However, he continues to trust in God and encourages others to do the same.  He observes that trusting in earthly power isn’t as beneficial, so seeking for power and riches is pointless.  Power will always belong to God, and He will judge rightly.

Psalm 63 expresses David’s longing for God.  He compares his desire for God’s presence to longing for water in the desert.  He loves to praise God and will be satisfied with the opportunity to praise Him.  He even thinks about God in his bed at night.  He has this regard for God because God has always protected him.  He is confident that God will destroy his enemies and exalt him.

Psalm 64 addresses the problem of wicked men plotting against David.  He compares their hateful speech to sharpened swords and arrows being shot from ambush.  He notes that these are people who have invested a lot of thought in how best to be wicked and betray him. 

However, as they are shooting their “arrows” at David, God will shoot His arrows at them.  They will be destroyed by their own evil words so that mankind will learn from their example and the righteous will rejoice.

Psalm 65 is a song of praise to God.  He deserves this praise because He answers prayer, forgives sin, and allows the righteous to come near to Him.  He answers His people with awesome deeds, the same kind of power that He revealed in establishing the mountains and stilling the sea.  As a result, people praise Him across the earth, and even the dawn and the sunset rejoice in Him. 

God reveals His goodness by sending rain.  This causes his people’s crops to grow abundantly.  Even the wilderness and the hills are green, and the verdant landscape praises Him.

Psalm 66 calls the earth to glorify God.  Even His enemies have to give Him glory, and worldwide, people worship Him.  This praise is justified because of God’s revelation of His power in parting the Red Sea and the Jordan River so His people could cross.  To this day, He continues to protect His people from the nations around them.  Where once He allowed them to be enslaved, now He has blessed them with abundance. 

Because of this, the psalmist is resolved to praise Him and offer sacrifices to Him.  He wants everyone to know that God has answered his prayers because of his righteousness and God’s steadfast love.

Summaries, Psalms 57-61

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

 

Psalm 57 pleads with God to show mercy.  David acknowledges that only God can protect him from the storms of life.  He trusts that God will save him and embarrass those who seek to harm him.  He views God’s help as particularly necessary because he is surrounded by enemies whom he compares to lions and fire.  The first section concludes with the chorus contained in 57:5 (and repeated in 57:11).

These enemies have sought to ambush David, but through God’s help, he turned the ambush around on them.  As a result, David continues to steadfastly trust in God, and he seeks to praise Him as enthusiastically as he knows how. 

Psalm 58 is addressed to the arrogantly wicked.  David calls them out for claiming to be righteous judges while treating others unfairly.  He hyperbolically claims that they were wicked from birth, and he compares them to venomous snakes. 

David then asks God to break the teeth of these “snakes” in their mouths.  He wants them to disappear as though they never had existed, to be consumed as quickly as thorns in the fire are.  David concludes by predicting that if God treats the wicked like this, the righteous will rejoice and mankind will acknowledge His judgments.

Psalm 59 is another plea for help from David when he is beset by his enemies.  The superscription says that David wrote this during/after the events of 1 Samuel 19:11-17.  David says that these enemies are lying in wait to destroy him, even though he has done nothing wrong.  He invites God to come and judge them all, himself included, and to punish the wicked, whoever they are.

David goes on to compare his enemies to packs of wild dogs who are prowling around the city.  They’re unconcerned with whether anyone notices them, but David knows that God sees them, sneers at them, and will destroy them.  David asks God not merely to kill them, but to bring them low in a way that will reveal His power and lordship.  Even as they are in the midst of their prowling and growling around, David will continue to trust in God’s protection and deliverance.

Psalm 60 appeals to God for help in battle.  It begins by lamenting that God has destroyed Israel’s defenses with an earthquake.  However, even without those defenses, God will still protect those who trust in Him.

The psalm then begins to speak for God, answering David.  God states that He controls not only the territory of the people of Israel, but even the lands of their enemies. 

The final portion of the psalm is David’s reply to God.  He wants to know who will help him, expresses his fear that God has abandoned him, and pleads with God to accompany him so that he will have success.

Psalm 61 asks God to hear David’s prayer.  He is weary, but he looks to God to be his refuge like a towering rock would be.  He wants God to allow him to dwell with Him forever because of his faithfulness and God’s past blessings.  The psalm concludes with a final appeal for lifelong protection and a promise to praise God and perform the vows made to Him.

Summaries, Psalms 52-56

Monday, June 10, 2019

 

Psalm 52 is addressed to the wicked.  It asks the wicked man why he is so arrogant in the face of the love of God.  He is using lies to destroy others, but God is aware of his misdeeds and will destroy him.  After his destruction, the righteous are going to mock him for not trusting in God.  By contrast, the psalmist is going to remain secure because of his trust in God, and he will praise God forever because of His protection.

Psalm 53 is also concerned with the unrighteous.  It observes that the fool denies the existence of God and sins accordingly.  As God considers mankind from heaven, He sees no one who is righteous.  In response, the psalmist wonders what evildoers are thinking in their malice toward others and refusal to acknowledge God.  God will frighten them and eventually destroy them because they do not belong to Him.  The psalm concludes with a plea for God to rescue His people.

Psalm 54 is a prayer for salvation.  The psalmist pleads with God to answer him because evil, godless men are attacking him.  He looks to God for his help and trusts that He will destroy his enemies.  The psalmist anticipates the time when he will offer sacrifices of thanksgiving to God because God has rescued him.

Psalm 55 also asks God for help in trouble.  David can’t find peace because he is so distressed by wicked men who are persecuting him.  His heart is filled with grief and fear, and he wants to escape.  He asks God to set them at odds against each other because of all the trouble they are bringing on the city (probably Jerusalem).

This is especially bitter to David because it is a former friend who is causing all the trouble.  David wants God to destroy him and all those who help him.  In the midst of his trouble, he continually calls on God.  He trusts that God will protect him and bring the wicked down.

David also says about his friend that he used deceitful speech to hide his hatred.  He observes that no matter what, God will continue to protect the righteous but will surely destroy the violent and treacherous.

Psalm 56 is more of the same.  David asks God to have mercy upon him because others are oppressing him.  However, despite his bad situation, he puts his trust in God and is not afraid. 

However, his enemies are truly oppressive.  They hate him, and they are looking for an excuse to bring him down.  However, God is aware of his suffering, and he knows that these enemies will be defeated.  Again, he trusts in God and so is not afraid. 

The psalm concludes by anticipating God’s deliverance.  David will offer sacrifices because God rescued him from death.

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