Bulletin Articles

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Summaries, Psalms 75-78

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Psalm 75 praises God for the way that He brings order to His creation.  He keeps the earth from tottering, and he rebukes the boastful and wicked.  No one else but God can be relied on to judge righteously, and the wicked cannot escape drinking the cup of His wrath.  In addition to bringing the wicked low, He will exalt the righteous.

Psalm 76 contrasts God’s power to the power of an earthly army.  He took Jerusalem for His dwelling place, and there he broke an enemy army’s weapons and rendered its troops unable to fight.  As a result, it is God, rather than they, who is to be feared.  No one on earth can oppose Him.  As a result, it is appropriate for mankind to worship Him because of the judgments He brings against even the rulers of the earth.

Psalm 77 expresses the psalmist’s confidence that God will hear him.  His trouble is so great that he is practically fainting.  At night, instead of sleeping, he finds himself asking whether God has abandoned him. 

He finds the answer to the question in God’s past works.  He has always worked wonders to deliver His people.  In fact, His power and determination to save them are so great that He even parted the Red Sea to save them. 

Psalm 78 explores the paradox of God’s faithfulness to Israel and Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him.  The psalmist begins by explaining his purpose, which is to teach the children of God’s people about the stories of God’s power that the fathers taught him.  Indeed, God established His law so that His people could hand that law down from generation to generation, so that they would not fall into the faithlessness of the Israelites of old.

The psalmist cites the Ephraimites as the foremost example of this faithlessness.  They did not walk according to His will, despite the power He displayed in parting the Red Sea and giving them guidance and water in the wilderness.  They doubted that He would be able to provide food for them too.

In response, God provided them with manna and quail, but their sin made Him angry, so that He struck down many of them as they ate.  Nonetheless, they continued in sin, only repenting briefly when He punished them.  However, He was merciful and did not destroy them altogether.

Their repeated sin was particularly offensive because of all that He had done to deliver them from Egypt.  He struck down the Egyptians with a multitude of plagues, but He led His people safely to Canaan. 

Even there, the Israelites continued to sin.  They provoked God with their idolatry.  As a result, God rejected Israel and abandoned His dwelling place at Shiloh, allowing His priests to be struck down.  Instead of continuing to dwell among the Ephraimites, He selected Mount Zion in the midst of Judah, to be His new dwelling place, and the Judahite David to be the new king of His people.


Summaries, Psalms 71-74

Monday, July 29, 2019

Psalm 71 is an appeal to God for protection in a time of trouble.  In the opening segment of the psalm, the psalmist says that only God in His righteousness can save him.  As usual, the problem is wicked people who are oppressing him.  He observes that he has trusted in God since he was young and that he always has praised God for His deliverance.  Now that he is old, he wants God to continue to deliver him. 

The problem is that his strength has declined with age, so that now his enemies think they can exploit him.  Instead, the psalmist hopes that they will fail and be humiliated, and that he will be able to continue to praise God. 

In fact, the psalmist always has been interested in glorifying Him, and he wants Him to spare him so that he can continue to do so.  He is confident that God will do exactly that, so he anticipates the rejoicing that he will offer Him as a result.

Psalm 72 is the last psalm that David ever wrote, and it asks God to bless the reign of the king (presumably Solomon).  First, David wants God to help the king be a righteous judge and a protector of the poor.  Next, he asks for the king to be respected and have peace as a result.  Similarly, he hopes that the dominion of the king will extend across the known world because God will bless his goodness and righteousness.  The psalm also expresses the wish that the king will prosper along with Israel.  All of this will lead to God being blessed and glorified.

Psalm 73 contains the psalmist’s reflections when confronted with evil people who appear to prosper.  He begins by acknowledging that his envy of such people almost led him into sin.  He reflects on how prosperous and carefree such people appear—they’ve literally gotten fat on evildoing.  What’s worse, their freedom from judgment leads others to question the justice of God.

Next to them, the psalmist finds himself wondering why he has bothered being faithful.  However, he recognizes that giving expression to these concerns would have undermined the faith of others.  Besides, after meditation in the temple, he found himself reassured.  The time would come when God would destroy them.

He concludes by reflecting on his relationship with God.  He treated God badly in his ignorance, but he sees that God always has been with him.  People who reject God will be destroyed, but those who seek Him will prosper.

Psalm 74 is a lament after the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians.  The psalmist asks God why He has apparently abandoned His people and invites Him to consider the ruin of the sanctuary.  The enemies of the Jews have gone through and destroyed everything.  They feel abandoned by God and wonder how long this intolerable state will continue. 

However, the psalmist also acknowledges God’s power.  He always has defeated His enemies and provided for His people.  The psalm concludes with an appeal to Him.  First, the psalmist wants God to remember the Jews’ enemies and punish them for their crimes.  Second, he asks God to remember His covenant.  Finally, He appeals to God to respond powerfully to the scoffing of those enemies.

Summaries, Job 32-36

Monday, July 22, 2019


Job 32 begins with Elihu the son of Barachel deciding to speak up.  Though apparently he’s been around for the whole debate, he hasn’t said anything because of his relative youth.  However, Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad have failed to make any convincing arguments, and it has become obvious that none of them have anything to say in reply to Job’s final declaration.  In these circumstances, Elihu finds himself compelled to say something, and he promises to be impartial in doing so.

Job 33 opens Elihu’s remarks to Job specifically.  He again avows his own sincerity, and he encourages Job to rebut him if he can.  He criticizes Job’s assertion that God is punishing him unjustly.  From what Elihu has seen, that isn’t the way that God operates.  Instead, God warns man in one of two ways:  dreams and afflictions.  Both of those are supposed to produce repentance.  In this, Elihu is implying that Job’s suffering shows that he has sin in his life somewhere that he is refusing to confront.

Job 34 contains Elihu’s words not to Job, but to Job’s friends.  They too (he thinks) need the young guy to straighten them out!  He encourages them to show good judgment, to notice the difference between the righteousness that Job claims for himself and his wicked conduct and speech.  He insists that God’s actions are always just and righteous.  He is impartial, and according to His will, even the most powerful wicked people are destroyed. 

God knows everything that everyone does, and He renders to them according to their works.  No one has the right to appeal His decisions.  When Job ought to be acknowledging his evil, he instead speaks like a rebel against God, defiantly insisting that he has done nothing wrong.

Job 35 marks the return of Elihu’s attention to Job.  He quotes Job as asking how his righteousness has benefited him (since he is being treated by God like a sinner).  However, says Elihu, because God is so great, neither righteousness nor wickedness has any particular effect on him. 

When the wicked suffer, they might cry out to God for help, but they don’t truly honor Him or recognize Him.  As a result, God doesn’t hear them.  Job needs to recognize himself as one of these arrogant people rather than continuing to insist that he deserves a hearing. 

Job 36 is the continuation of Elihu’s words to Job.  He insists that he has it all figured out.  Once again, he touts God’s perfect understanding and justice.  He strikes down the wicked, and He exalts the righteous.  Those who listen to Him will be blessed; those who refuse to hear will be destroyed in shameful ways. 

Next, Elihu claims that Job’s big problem is his arrogance.  He keeps on demanding justice, even though it’s not going to help him.  In insisting that he has been wronged and only wants to die, he runs the risk of judging God.  Rather than judging God, he ought to glorify Him for His power and provision.

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.

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