Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on July 26, 2015
Open your Bibles to Psalm 3. This is our third Sunday walking through the book of Psalms. For those who are visiting, we are currently in a series entitled “A Summer of Psalms.” Up to this point we have covered Psalm 1 and 2, and today we are going to unpack Psalm 3. With that said, let us read our text, pray, and then examine the Word of God together.
Background of David and Absalom
The circumstances of surrounding David and Absalom are found in 2 Samuel. Perhaps the first place we should begin is by recognizing that King David was a great King, but he was also a great sinner. It appears that the main struggle for David was sexual immorality. Many of us are most likely familiar with his adultery with Bathsheba, but unfortunately this was just the tip of the iceberg. It is not entirely clear how many wives and concubines David had. In 2 Samuel 5:13 it merely says, “And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David.”
One of these wives was named Maakah. She was a daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur. From this marriage came David’s third son, Absalom. Also from this marriage came a daughter named Tamar. Now stay with me, David’s first son was Amnon. Amnon came from David’s marriage with Ahimoam of Jezreel. This is where the sexual immorality of David starts to have its generational effect. In 2 Samuel 13 we are told that Amnon, David's first son, lusted after his half-sister, Tamar. His lust was so great that he tricked her into believing that he was sick and when he had her all to himself he forced himself on her. 2 Samuel 13:14 says, “being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.” So like his father, David, he was not able to control his sinful urges. Immediately after Amnon lay with her, his lust turned to hate. Verse 15 says, “Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.”
A short time later, Tamar’s full brother, Absalom, found out what Amnon had done, and he hated him for it. His hate against Amnon burned in his heart for two years until, the sin that was crouching at his door overcame him, and eventually Absalom seized an opportunity and ordered his servants to kill Amnon. So as Cain killed Abel, we see Absaolom kill Amnon. The murder of his brother caused Absalom to flea to his Grandfather’s home, Talmai King of Geshur, and he remained there for three years.
Eventually Absalom returned to Jerusalem, not to seek forgiveness, but to instead seek the throne of his father, David. This may be a good time to talk about Absalom’s appearance. We are told in 2 Samuel 14 that Absalom was extremely handsome.
Because the majority of Israel seem to have sided with Absalom, David was forced to flee Israel with the remnant of those who were faithful to him. This journey out of Jerusalem was of great sorrow.
Foes and Faith
Out of this difficult circumstances the Holy Spirit inspired David to write Psalm 3, and hopefully this context gives more weight to the first two versus that we see in Psalm 3:
Most likely we have not experienced the depth of David's circumstance, but I am guessing almost all of us have had trials that have allowed seeds of doubt to be planted. Perhaps it is a cheating spouse, perhaps cancer, perhaps financial struggles, perhaps a broken home. In the midst of our difficulties, we start to focus on the mountain that stands before us and it begins to block out our sight of God. Each day it feels like fiery arrows are being shot one after another at us, and we begin to wonder if God has forgotten about us, or even if there is a God. The battleground goes from being waged in our circumstances to being waged in our hearts, and the fight becomes ultimately a fight of faith. This is what was happening with David, as those around him spoke lies into his life.
One thing we can rest assured, you are not alone, for this is the life of a Christian. To be a follower of Christ does not mean that we are immune to diseases, free from financial burdens, or that everyone likes you. The preaching of Joel Osteen, and the health and wealth prosperity Gospel is a false teaching. When you read the Bible, this is abundantly clear. When you are God's chosen, like David was, life becomes harder. Prior to salvation the world loved you, for you were one of them. However, the minute you turned from the world and followed Christ, the current of this sinful world started to work against you. You started to swim upstream. On top of this, you know have enemies.
Cry Aloud to Yahweh
We are to do exactly what David did. Verse 4, “I cried aloud to the Lord.” The Hebrew word for the LORD when in all caps is the word Yahweh. This word comes from Moses's interaction with God at the burning bush when God declares himself to be the “I Am.” Yahweh who has no beginning and new end. Yahweh who is so great that he cannot be defined except by his own essence. Yahweh who created the heavens and the earth. Yahweh who flooded the world. Yahweh who struck down the Egyptians. Yahweh who we learned in Psalm 2 anointed David as King over Israel. In the midst of David's weeping on his walk to the Mount of Olives, he took his eyes off the circumstances and placed them on the Sovereign Lord.
I cannot help but see the similarity that exists between these events in Psalm 3 and Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of his arrest. Just think about the parallels. Christ is the rightful heir to the throne, however Satan, a creature, created through Christ had rebelled, seeking the throne for himself. Eventually the opportunity arrived and Satan entered in Judas, who then betrayed Jesus. Judas then leaves to amass a small army of foes to arrest Jesus, and what does Jesus do?
In the midst of their circumstances, what did David and Jesus do? They prayed. In the difficulty of the moment they sought the strength that was from above, and Yahweh who lives in Heaven, on his holy Hill, heard their cry and answered. He had not forgotten about them. He had not turned his back. He answered their prayer, but how.
How did God answer? Did he reign down fire from Heaven? Did he reduce the number of foes? Did he allow the cup to pass? Did he change their circumstances? No. For David, God shielded him and sustained him.
The Fight of Faith
We have an enemy that is crouching at our door. When trials and tribulations come, as they always do, the battle over our heart begins. And this the is real battle. Satan desires to sift you and cause you to shrivel underneath your circumstances and drop your head and doubt the power and strength of God. Satan wants to destroy your peace, cause sleepless nights, and steal your joy. And when he does, we are not called to just weep, but to fight. We must fight the fight of faith, and this fight takes place first and foremost on our knees. We must utilize that armor that God has provided and cry out to him for a larger shield of faith so as to protect us from Satan's fiery arrows. Do not be a victim of your circumstances, but instead be victorious through the Grace of God.
Preached at Riverview Park in Cascade, IA on July 19, 2015.
Open your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 4:1-6. This week the kids have been learning about the Gospel. In light of that, I will be preaching about the Gospel. To do this, I will be using 2 Corinthians 4:1-6. So let us read our text, I will pray that God would give us understanding, and then we will get to work.
I have titled my message, “The Open Statement of the Truth.” I get this title from verse 2. Paul is speaking about his ministry of sharing the Gospel to unbelievers and he says in verse 2, “We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”
For those who don’t know who Paul is, he was the chosen instrument of God to take the message of Jesus Christ to the world. He was the first person to take the Gospel to the continent of Europe. Paul was a Church planter, and Paul’s church growth strategy was to simply proclaim the truth of the Gospel. He goes from place to place and openly declares Jesus Christ as Lord.
As he says in verse 1, he does not participate in disgraceful or underhanded ways, he does not use cunning to trick people into believing, and he does NOT mess around with the Word of God. He simply preaches the Gospel.
Why would Paul be so willing to simply proclaim the Gospel? Why would he place so much faith in a simple open statement of truth? The reason is because this truth is like no other truth in the Universe, for it has the ability to penetrate into the heart of man. You can see Paul’s understanding of the Gospel in Romans 1:16.
Now here is the problem. Some of you, if not many of you in this park, do not know what the Gospel is. No one has ever shared with you the Gospel, nor have never read the Bible to see the Gospel for yourself. Which is a major issue if the GOSPEL is the power for salvation. For if you don’t’ know the Gospel, then you will not be saved.
And because of that if I were to ask you today, “Are you going to Heaven or Hell?” Most likely, all of you would say Heaven. If I were to ask you, “Why do you believe this?” Some of you would say, “Because I go to Church.” Folks, going to Church is not the Gospel. A building has no ability to save your soul from Hell. Never once does Jesus say go to the Church and you will be saved. Not once. Brick and mortar has no special power over you soul.
Others of you may say, “I am going to go to Heaven because I am good person.” Unfortunately, the Bible says the complete opposite about you. Romans 3:12 says, ”No one does god, not even one.” Jesus himself reinforces this truth in Luke 18:19 when he says, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except god alone.” No one is good enough to get to Heaven. Every single one of us on this planet has sinned, and our sin is enough to send us to Hell.
So do not for once think you are going to Heaven because you go to a building, and participate in a certain liturgy. Nor should you think that you are going to Heaven because you are “good.” Neither one of those things are the Gospel. However, Satan would love for you to believe this, for if you do, you will spend eternity with him.
So today, I am going to proclaim the open statement o f the truth, and my prayer is that you would have ears to hear, and would accept the Good News and place your faith in Christ Jesus as your Lord and as your Savior, if you haven't already.
God is the Creator
Let us start with verse 6. It says, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness.” Where does this verse come from? It comes from the beginning, Genesis 1. In the very beginning, before there was creation, there was God. He existed before space/time.
Scientists love to talk about a “Big Bang,” which is the scientific explanation of where the Universe came from. Scientist believe at the moment of the big bang there is what is called singularity. Singularity is the existence of infinite density and infinite temperature, and in that moment of singularity there is no existence of the laws of physics, and it was from that moment of singularity that all the Universe came from. What science can’t tell you is what is behind the Big Bang? What caused the Big Bang? What is infinite in density and infinite in temperature? What can exist outside all of the laws of physics?
However, the Bible does. God has told us explicitly how it all began. The Infinite, Eternal, Sovereign God is the force behind all of Creation. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.” Paul in 2 Corinthians 4 is reminding us of that reality in verse 6. He is reminding us that God is the Creator. God is the Potter. God is Sovereign, and the evidence of this reality is all around us. Look at the sky. Look at the grass. Look at your hand. Look at your children. Look at a bumble bee. Creation screams that it has a creator, and logic screams this as well.
Just think about it. Everything that has a beginning has a cause. We call this cause and effect. For example, at one time this amphitheater did not exist, but now it does. How did it get hear? This amphitheater was built by builders. How do I know this? Did I see them build it? No. The reason I know that builders built the amphitheater is because it exists. The builders were the cause of this existing. Likewise, as we look around, how do we know that this world was built? Because all things that exist have a cause.
Humanity Is Blind
However, here is the problem, we fail to thank God. We fail to give him the praise that is due his name. Instead of giving God glory, we instead give other things glory, like ourselves.
I think verse 4 tells us why, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” Because of the deception of Satan and the subsequent fall, humanity is blind. This is the reality for who have ever lived. Because of Sin we fail to see God as God and therefore give Him the glory he deserves. Therefore instead of living for Him, we blindly live for other things.
And because of this blindness we have made a mess out of the world. From day to day we leave a wake of disaster behind us: Murder, abortion, sexual immorality, drugs, drunkenness, coveting, divorces, lying, the list can go on and on. The world is an absolute mess. However the worst is found in verse 3, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing”
The biggest issue in our life is sin. But why? What is so bad about living in sin? Why can’t we live our life our way? The reason is because God is a just God and he will not ignore our rebellion against him.
Imagine being in Wal-Mart and seeing a father with his 5 year old son The child is whining and complaining because he wants a gun. The father tells him “No, you cannot have a gun, you will hurt yourself.” Then imagine the 5 year old turning to the father and flipping him off and grabbing the gun and run out of the store as he attempts to load it with bullets. Then imagine the father shrugging it off, or laughing about it. Would you think he is a good Dad? Of course you wouldn’t, so why do we assume God shrugs off our sin.
God is our Father in Heaven and he is a Just God. Each one of us will stand in judgment before Him. The coming judgment of God was one of Jesus’ most common messages during his three year ministry. He was constantly warning people about the coming judgment.
For those who do not believe in the Gospel, your destiny is found in verse 3, you will perish. Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death.” And this perishing is not just physical death, but it is eternal death, Hell. Every single person who does not accept the good news of Christ is guaranteed to live all eternity in a place that Jesus described as “eternal torment.”
Once again, why do I say these things? Because it is an open statement of the truth. It is what Jesus proclaimed, it is what John the Baptist proclaimed, it is what Peter proclaimed, it is what Paul proclaimed, it is what the early Church proclaimed, it is what the entire Bible proclaims, and it is what all Christians today should proclaim. People must hear the bad news before they will accept the good news.
Christ is the Glory of God
So what is the good news? The good news is Jesus Christ our Lord. He is the good news. This is why the Angles proclaimed to the Shepherd's in Luke 2:10 regarding the birth of Jesus, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” The good news is found in the person of Jesus Christ. The answer to your biggest problem, sin and death, is not found in a building, it is not found in a ritual, it is not found in yourself. It is found in Christ alone.
This is the whole point as to why Jesus came into the world, to save sinners like you and like me. Jesus said of himself in John 14:6, ““I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
God sent Jesus into the World to fix the world's problem, sin. He was a rescue party of one, sent behind enemy lines to rescue his bride. And the way He rescued her was to live a perfectly sinless life and then lay down his life for her. Jesus was the only person to walk this planet without sin. He was perfectly righteous. He then died on the cross, and God the father, poured out all of his wrath against sin upon His Son.
As John the Baptist rightly said in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! “ Jesus took away our sin. All of it. He paid every last cent for the sins of the world, past, present and future. For those who trust in Jesus, there is nothing left for you to do to pay for your sin. No penance. No purgatory. Nothing. Christ has done it all. This is why Jesus cries out on the cross “It is finished.” This is why the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. This is why the author of Hebrews says that Jesus, our great High priest, sat down after ascending to Heaven. Because all the work was completed. This is why Jesus says in Mathew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This is why Jesus says in John 8:32, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This is why in Hebrews 10:14, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” One sacrifice. Perfect. Forever. This is why it is called grace, for it is entirely a gift.
And this is what the world, and perhaps some of you are blind to. Look again at verse 4, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” According to this verse, what does Satan desperately not want you to see? The “gospel of the glory of Christ.” What is the gospel of the glory of Christ? It is that Christ did all the work, and paid for all of our sin, therefore he gets all the glory.
The only thing left for us to do is it believe. That's it. This is how we receive the gift of Jesus' payment for our sins, and his righteousness.
The question I have for you today, in the sight of God, is do you believe in Jesus? Do you place your trust in his life, death, and resurrection? Do you have faith in the sufficiency of his sacrifice, and that on the third day he rose from the grave?
It is my prayer that today, just like it says in verse 6, shines in your hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Let's pray.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on July 12, 2015
Open your Bibles to Psalm 2. Today marks our second week of our Summer of Psalms. Next week we will take a short break while we are at the park and I will be preaching the basics of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Next Sunday would be an excellent time for each one of you to invite someone who is not a follower of Jesus Christ. As for today, however, we will be examining Psalm 2. Therefore let us read, pray that God would open they eyes of our heart, and examine the Word of God.
As we look at Psalm 2, we can see that there is no indication of its Author. Some Psalms have the Author listed at the beginning, but Psalm 2 does not. Having said that, Peter in Acts 4 tells us who wrote Psalm 2 and he credits it to two authors, David and the Holy Spirit.
First, let us begin by talking about David. David was the second King of the nation of Israel around the time of 1000 B.C. He was chosen by God through the Prophet Samuel to replace King Saul. We see the narrative of this story in 1 Samuel 16.
Upon David taking the throne of all of Israel, God began to use David to subdue the enemies of Israel. And this is the best way to understand the role of David. He was not a defensive King, but instead an offensive King. He did not sit around waiting for the attacks of the surrounding nations, he moved forward and conquered.
Interestingly, the first place David conquered was none other than Jerusalem. We see this documented in 1 Chronicles 11:4
Foreshadowing of Christ
When David was writing this Psalm, he was writing in the context of his life. He saw these words in Psalm 2 as applying to him and his role as Israel's King. Having said that, many of you know that the Old Testament is a foreshadow of Christ, and this is especially true for David. David is considered a type of Christ. By this I mean that God used David to point to the coming of the Messiah. And as we read Psalm 2 from the other side of the cross, we can easily see this deeper meaning. This Psalm is not just about David, it is about Christ. In fact, it is primarily about Jesus, and secondarily about David. We know this because of Acts 4 that I mentioned earlier. If you recall, I said that Psalm 2 had two authors, David and the Holy Spirit.
So please turn with me in your Bibles to Acts 4. Acts 4 is the narrative of the early Church right after the ascension of Jesus into Heaven. In Chapter 3, Peter and John were arrested for preaching the Gospel. In Chapter 4 we see them making their defense before the council, the same people who voted to crucify Jesus, and before these rulers Peter says in verse 11 and 12, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among menc by which we must be saved.” After this statement, the council threatened Peter and Paul and told them to stop sharing the gospel. Now look at verse 23.
Peter makes it very clear, Psalm 2 is all about Jesus. And as you look at the words of Psalm 2, this, to us seems obvious. Verse 7 says, “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” Words like this remind us of verse like John 3:16 which say, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Likewise in verse 2 we see the word “annointed” which in Hebrew is “”mashiach”, which is the word Messiah. So, like Peter who stood on the other side of the cross, it is clear that Psalm 2 is about King Jesus.
So the question is, what is it telling us? I belive it is telling us four things 1) God's Enemies, 2) God's Sovereignty, 3) God's Victory, and 4) God's Appeal.
Look at verse 1-3, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 3“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
Since the moment of Jesus arrival over 2000 years ago, the world has hated his name. In Isaiah 53:3, we are told he was destined to be “despised and rejected by men” Right out of the gates there was a hit put on his head by Herod. Even his hometown of Nazareth tried to throw him off a cliff.
Jesus was very tuned into this reality. He says in John 15:18, ““If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” The raging of the world against Christ is as old as the world itself, whether it was raging against the shadow of Christ or raging against the substance of Christ. Whether it was Nero, Diocletian, Joseph Stalin, or Kim Jung Un, it is nothing new. It is estimated that 70 million Christians have been killed for their faith since the death of Christ.
We, here in America, have been living in a bubble. The rage of nations is something that we are not familiar with, at least not firsthand. However, I believe this is changing. You can sense the rage rising in our news, our work, our communities, an even our families. Having said that, there efforts to destroy Christ, as it says in verse 1, is vanity.
Look at verse 4-7, “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.”
God's laughter is not comedic. God's laughter is one of absurdity. The nations have no clue who they are waring against. If they did, they would not fight, but instead lay down their arms. God is infinitely powerful, and the nations are nothing compared to God.
As it says in our text, God has decreed that Christ is to be on the throne. The decree of God is not like a decree of man. It is a guarantee. It is locked in stone. It is a decree that will become reality. Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.“ Isaiah 46:9-11, “for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose”
No matter how hard ISIS fights, no matter how many Christians are locked up and murdered in North Korea. No matter how much Iran hates Christians and Jews, God's sovereign plan of Christ on the throne will not be defeated. As we read in Hebrews 12 today in Sunday School, it is a Kingdom that cannot be shaken.
In fact, the victory is already ours. Verse 8-9 says, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Upon the cross Jesus was victorious. In Matthew 28:18-19 Jesus speaks of this victory when he says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations ” The work is over, Christ is on the throne. Not only was it decreed by God, but it was fulfilled in Christ. And some day, one way of the other every knee will bow to Christ. The question is not will Jesus be King. The question is will you submit before it is too late.
Which leads us to God's gracious appeal, which in my opinion is the primary purpose of Psalm 2. God has laid out his Sovereign Plan before us. He is not hiding the ball. He has determined and proclaimed that the Universe will revolve around his anointed, only begotten Son. And not only will the Universe revolve around Christ, but he will rule. He will be King. This is the will of God. This is the purpose of Creation.
Failure to accept God's will, failure to submit to God's plan of Christ-centeredness results in perishing. This is the second week we have seen this word, perish. We saw it last week in Psalm 1 when God said “but the way of the wicked will perish.” Now in Psalm 2 we see perishing as the destiny of those who fail to kiss the son.
Failure to receive eternal life will not be because of lack of warning, it will be because of the lack of submitting. The only way in which we, or anyone else on this planet avoid the wrath of God, is by loving Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life, no one gets to the father but through him (John 14:6).
This Kiss of the Son is not a kiss of Judas, which was a kiss of hypocrisy. Instead the Kiss of the Son is one that is more like the sinful women in Luke 7:38 which says, “and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.”
Kissing the son is humbling ourselves and embracing him for who he truly is and what he truly has done for us. It is recognizing that he is a suffering King, who died in our place. It is recognizing that he is the anointed Son of a loving God, who was sent to ransom a wretched people for his own possession.
So in summary, what is Psalm 2 about? It is about God's soverign plan that cannot be defeated. It is about the Messiah who will reign. It is about the gospel message of God's love through His Son. It is about proclaiming these truths to the nations that rage. We should see Psalm 2 just like Peter saw Psalm 2. After he quoted Psalm 2 what was his prayer? “And now, Lord, look31 upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on July 5, 2015
Open Your Bibles to Psalm 1. Today we begin our journey through the book of Psalms. We will be working our way through it for the next three months with periodic Sunday’s where I will step away and cover a specific topic. What I have decided to do is to preach the Psalms as they come. So today will be Psalm 1, next week Psalm 2, and so on and so forth. The reason I am doing this is to protect you from my sinful desire to cherry-pick. I believe cherry picking is one reason we have so many immature Christians today. They have not been taught the whole counsel of God.
It will be my intent to periodically preach from the Psalms in the years, and perhaps decades to come, God willing. This means that if we get through 10 Psalms this summer, my hope is in the next year or two, we will pick up where we left off, until we eventually work our way through 150 Psalms.
Before we begin I want to give you a road map of how today will go. First, I want to explain how I will preach the Psalms. Second, I want to give us some general insight into the Psalms. Third, with the time we have left we will examine Psalm 1.
First, how will I preach. There are two ways to preach, the right way and the wrong way. The wrong way is for me to use God’s Word as a vessel for my opinion. The right way is for God to use me as a vessel for His truth. True preaching is taking God’s Word, breaking it down, analyzing it, mining it for absolute truth, and then proclaiming IT by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is what we call expository preaching, and this is when the Word of God has its sharpest edges, and God receives the most Glory. This is the way John MacArthur preaches, John Piper preaches, Matt Chandler preaches, David Platt preaches, etc. These reformed guys preach expositionally, and this is the way I hope to preach. For it is the right way to handle the treasures that are in this book, and we will see this as we study Psalm 1 today.
Overview of the Psalms
With that said, let us step into this amazing book. As we begin our journey we should first recognize what this book is. The Book of Psalms is a collection of 150 songs. The Hebrew title for the book of Psalms is “tehillim” which means to make a jubilant sound or praise. The words “Psalms” comes from a Greek word which means the plucking of strings. So as we walk through these Psalms, we must recognize that we are studying God inspired worship music. This is interesting because these songs are abundantly rich in Biblical truth. In this day in age we have a tendency to think about songs as being emotional and separate from the mind and intellect, but that is not the case when examining the Psalms. In God’s book, deep knowledge of God and praise are inseparable.
So let us talk briefly about the book itself. As I said, it is a collection of 150 separate Psalms. This makes it the longest book in the Bible. Another odd fact is that it contains the shortest chapter, Psalm 117, and the longest chapter, Psalm 119. Another thing that is odd is that, depending how you define middle, the middle of the Bible is Psalm 118:8. The book itself is actually a collection of five books. Those who originally compiled this hymnal for Israel chose to break it into five parts. Perhaps some of you have noticed this as you read through the Psalms.
The psalms are written by a variety of men; the most prominent of those being David. Quite often it is referred to as the Treasury of David. It is believed David wrote nearly half of the psalms. Other authors include, Moses, Solomon, Asaph, the Sons of Korah, Ethan and Heman. In addition, some 50 psalms are attributed to no one. Because the book of Psalms is a collection of separate songs, written by separate men, its coming together took approximately 1000 years, from Moses (1400 B.C.) to the Babylonian exile (500 B.C.).
The last thing that I want us to understand as we begin is that the Book of Psalms is a book about Jesus. Jesus is the Word. Jesus says it himself in Luke 24 that all Scripture points to him, this is true for every book in the Bible including the Psalms.
The pointing to Jesus comes in two forms, prophecies and foreshadowing. Regarding prophecies, the book of Psalms contains more prophecies about the coming of Jesus than any other Old Testament book. More than 90 specific prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus. Regarding the general foreshadowing, we will need to be more intentional as we dive into the text, for shadows do not always catch our eye, unless we are looking for them, but it is interesting to know that the book of Psalms is quoted more by New Testament authors more than any other book in the Old Testament. It is referenced in one way or another approximately 112 different times in the New Testament. So with that, let us now read our text, pray and then unpack it.
In this text we see the comparison of two individuals, the righteous and the wicked. In these two descriptions falls every man. In the eyes of God, you are either one or the other. There is no such thing as a middle ground when it comes to your standing before God.
You see this reality mentioned a number of times throughout the Bible. In fact, last week we briefly looked at one of those text, Matthew 25, where Jesus talks about the coming day of judgment. Jesus says that on that day he will separate the sheep and the goats. The sheep will come into the Kingdom of God and the goats are sent to “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
We see it again in Matthew 13 where we see Jesus talking again about the final judgment and he uses the comparison of wheat and weeds, and he says this, “Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:30). Just a few verses later we see Jesus again talking about the final judgment before God in verse 47.
The word righteous as used in this passage, does not mean sinless. The reason we know that is also in the Psalms 14 and Psalm 53 it tell us that no one is good, no one is righteous. We know that it is only Jesus who is truly righteous in a sinless sense. The Psalmist in this text is not talking about being sinless, but by having a right position, or standing before God. So how is someone righteous in a Psalm 1 sense. It is only through faith in Jesus Christ. It is by believing in God, we can stand in the congregation.
The Psalm begins with the word “Blessed.” Interestingly, this is what Jesus called Peter in Matthew 16:17 after Peter confessed that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven”
It is how Jesus began the greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…blessed are those who mourn…blessed are the meek…blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…blessed are the merciful…blessed are the pure in heart…blessed are the peacemakers…blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.” I do not think it is a coincidence that the book of Psalms begins the same way.
The word blessed in Hebrew is esher and if you were to look up the meaning in a Lexicon it would say happy. In fact, the Holman Christian Standard Bible translates this verse as “How happy is the man…” Having said this, I think there is a reason why this word is commonly not translated to happy. Happy doesn't quite do this word justice. It doesn't have enough depth to it. For to be esher (blessed) is to be happy as a result of receiving. Esher is just not a feeling, it is a feeling that is produced by grace. This makes sense in light of how we tend to use it. If you were to ask me, how do I feel and I said “happy” that would be different then if I said that I feel “blessed.” By saying blessed I am saying, I am happy, but that my happiness springs from something unmerited.
So who is the blessed in our passage? The Pslamist starts with the negative, then moves to the positive. First he says that a blessed person is one, “who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” With each one of these descriptions you can see an escalation of evil, or an increase in the hardness of ones heart, walk, stand, sit.
So what does it mean to walk in the counsel of the wicked? It simply means seeking advice from the fallen, broken, sinful world. Unfortunately, this is a common characteristic of most people, even Christian people. When in uncertain, where do you seek advice? Oprah, Dr. Phil, an unsaved Psychologists, celebrities, magazines, unsaved coworkers, and unsaved friends. Each one of these people, if they have not received Christ in their life, are spiritually blind, and have no hope in giving you Christ exulting counsel. Jesus said it well in Matthew 15:14 when he said, “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
Which leads to our next phrase “nor stands in the way of sinners.” This is the faliing into the pit in which Jesus spoke, for it is the implementation of the wicked advice. Another way to think about it is the taking the wide and easy path that leads to destruction that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 7. Or the “following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—“ that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2. It is standing against God and with sinners, those who miss the mark.
Lastly, the Pslamist says, “nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” This is the final act of rebellion. Not only does this person seek advice against God, and implement that sinful advice, but they then mock those who don't follow suit. They begin to teach others and ridicule those who do not accept their sinful opinion. They become a teacher and preacher of sin They want more wicked people to jump on their bandwagon of rebellion. This was the case for the Pharisees. Jesus said this to them in Matthew 23:15, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”
Regarding these three positions of walking, standing and sitting, I can't but help see the connection with the current status in America regarding homosexuality. Many self-proclaimed Christians, and self proclaimed Churches have sought counsel from the world, chosen to stand with the disobedient, and now they scoff at those who do not join in with their sinful ways. They mock those who have read and have accepted Leviticus 18, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, 1 Timothy 1, and the dozens of other implicit scripture on the subject. The people who reject these text are like our psalmist says, chaff. They are blown about with the ever changing wind of this fallen and broken world. Today it is homosexuality, tomorrow it will be something else. As scripture clearly teaches, this is not the pathway of blessedness, it is not the pathway of happiness, love doesn't win. It is trampled on and destroyed. This walking, standing, and sitting with sinfulness leads to one destination...perishing.
No, the blessed ones are those who “delight in the law of the Lord.” What is the law of the Lord? The word used here is actually torah, which is commonly used to reference the first five books of the Bible, but torah in Hebrews means instruction. So a good reading of this text is to say “delight in the instruction of the Lord.” Which of course includes more than just the law, or the first five books of the Bible, but all of the Scripture.
For the man that is blessed this treasuring of God's Word causes him to think about God's instruction day and night. Reading the Bible is not about a check list. It is something that he soaks in, thinks through, works out, analyzes, and clings to.
As the Psalmist says, the man that is blessed has been planted next to the Word of God. He has made the intentional decision to live life in accordance to God's Word. It is his standard of truth. It is his sustainer. As Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, this man is living “on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
And what is the result? Fruit. The man planted in God's Word is guaranteed to yield fruit. What kind of fruit? Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control”
Imagine if I came up to you and said, I have a sure fire way that you can have experience love and joy and peace and in every situation you will have he capacity to rise above it, and be outside the fray, would you want it? Of course you would. And folks you can have it if you want it. If you want to have a blessed life, the answer is not found on facebook, or magazines, or doctor Phil. It is not found in the counsel of the wicked. It is found in God's Word.
This is why we at Cornerstone are Bible people. This is the way that God has designed to pour his Grace out upon you, through His Word. And what is wonderful, is that each one of you have it in your hands in this moment. Spiritual prosperity is literally within you grasp, so make the intentional decision to be happy, and plant yourself in the living Word of God.