Sunday, August 1, 2010

Psummer Psalm Pseries - Psalm 72




Psalm 72:1-14 Give the king Your judgments, O God, and Your righteousness to the king's son.
May he judge Your people with righteousness and Your afflicted with justice.
Let the mountains bring peace to the people, and the hills, in righteousness.
May he vindicate the afflicted of the people, save the children of the needy and crush the oppressor.
Let them fear You while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he come down like rain upon the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.
In his days may the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon is no more.
May he also rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Let the nomads of the desert bow before him, and his enemies lick the dust.
Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts.
And let all kings bow down before him, all nations serve him.
For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help, the afflicted also, and him who has no helper.
He will have compassion on the poor and needy, and the lives of the needy he will save.
He will rescue their life from oppression and violence, and their blood will be precious in his sight…

Here is one of 2 Psalms ascribed to Solomon. Solomon the Wise, one could say, for the Bible tells the story of his God-given brain power and how there was no one else like him. People from around the known world came to hear him speak wisdom. When I first read this Psalm I was reminded of that brain power Solomon had. It sounds like it was written by an academic, from the brain, not so much from the heart like David’s Psalms. Some scholars suggest this Psalm may have been used at his coronation ceremony, and as you read you can sense that proclamation, that sense of “officialness” if you will, in the words. Within this context you see a picture of the Gospel. The king was God’s representative to the people and his reign would reflect the character of God. As we consider that, we also consider that there is a Messianic component to this Psalm, as it ultimately reflects not the earthly king’s reign, but the heavenly King’s reign. So the student of hermeneutics would parse it like this:



Verses 1-5: Justice The king was supposed to make sure all in his kingdom had what they needed. Laws were in place to protect the vulnerable, and so part of the king’s mandate was to make sure the violent and oppressors were not able to take advantage of those who were weak. Justice wasn’t about everyone having the same thing, but that everyone had enough. Jesus spoke much about justice issues as part of His kingdom. His parable about the sheep and goats was about His followers living out justice and love. And so the application for us is to be proponents of justice in our areas of influence as we live out the Kingdom of God in our lives.

Verses 6-7: Peace Here the king’s reign is to be marked by peace. The protection provided by a strong king and army is supposed to bring security and peace to the nation. There is also the sense that as God’s people, they are looked after by divine protection as well. Jesus talked about coming to Him for rest, and about peace that He gives to us. Certainly the Messiah brought peace through His sacrificial death. And so we apply this Scripture to us as agents of God’s peace. We are called to be people of peace, to offer peace, to proclaim the peace of the Gospel.

Verses 8-11: Reigning in power The king’s reign is one of power. He has absolute sway over his enemies. His kingdom is broad - all the land. So God’s kingdom is without threat for He is absolute. We have the confidence of following Jesus knowing He is in control. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He is Sovereign.

Verses 12-15: Compassion Here we see the king saving the needy, dealing with poverty, being their advocate and hero. The Messiah came to seek and save those who were lost, to help those in spiritual poverty. We are called to a ministry to the down and out, to helping the least of our brethren.

Verses 16-17: Prosperity There is a blessing pronounced for the king that is reflective of the success of the kingdom and the blessing of God. Indeed, the Kingdom of God is about spiritual prosperity, of eternal life and relationship with the Creator of the ends of the earth. You have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

Verses 18-20: Benediction and closure We end with praises to God. He is our source, our focus. And we could leave this Psalm at that, for this is good hermeneutics. We see what these characteristics meant for the writer in that day, and how the Psalmist looked to God as the ultimate king. We then understand the Psalm in a Messianic vein. These are characteristics of the Gospel, of the reign of Jesus, of the Kingdom of God which Jesus preached while here on earth. We could leave it at that, but let us also take a cautionary note from this Psalm, a note that talks of the reality of sin and the pursuit of holiness, of Christ-likeness. Holiness, as we have talked about it before, is also called perfect love. What holiness looks like is love in all we think, say, and do. It is that work that God is doing within us in those 3 areas through the Holy Spirit as we surrender our lives to Him. Integrity is that work being evident in those three areas of our life. When our speech lines up with our actions and our true motivations in pursuing God, we are people of integrity, people of holiness.

Solomon, son of David, the great king of Israel and slayer of Goliath. The man who could ask anything of God and chose wisdom, thus ensuring wealth and everything else he wanted. Here we have the academic, wise Solomon, saying all the right things, but when the rubber hits the road, he has fallen short. He took 300 wives and 700 concubines. As you read the book of Ecclesiastes you see his own admission of pursuing everything he could think of, from pleasure to wealth to the arts - everything under the sun. It seems as if he pursued everything, everything except God; and everything left him wanting. So, regardless of all the right words at his coronation, he didn’t have the obedience to follow through.

Today people try to fill that same God-shaped void with all the same things Solomon tried, whether it be drugs or possessions, work or leisure, pleasure or pain. Here’s the truth that Solomon missed in spite of all the right words: Surrender your life to God, to Jesus. Give it up - all up, and live for Him. Don’t give your life up to the church. Don’t give it up to a person like a leader or spouse. Don’t give your life to rules and laws, but to the Spirit of Love. Give your life totally over to jesus first and all those other things will fall into place. How do we do better than the smartest man who lived? It’s not a secret. We have a much better understanding of who God is and who we are before Him. We have the full canon of Scripture to refer to, and the Holy Spirit actively working in our lives 24/7. We understand the age old mystery which is the finished work of Jesus. Pursue Jesus with all your heart, mind, and soul, and you will succeed. A lock has tumblers cut in such a way so that only a matching key will raise the tumblers all to the right level. For integrity to be part of your life and my life, we need each of those tumblers to be raised to the right level. The key to integrity is this: our thoughts, our speech, and our words all have to be in sync with that singular pursuit of God. Let me suggest what one of the keys looks like.

First, our thoughts: Motivation. Ask the simple question “Why are you doing what you’re doing?” How much does God play in your decisions and activities? Remember Solomon, we can be saying and doing the right things, but that doesn’t please God unless your heart is after God. You and I need the ongoing work of the Spirit in our lives, leading and guiding us. In the fall of 1981 I was going to the University of Waterloo, enrolled in a math program with a Chartered Accountant option. I was part of a Christian group that met weekly and I remember one of the challenges we were given about doing daily devotions. The question was were we doing it out of devotion to God, or because it was something we were just supposed to be doing? The motivation behind it makes all the difference in the world. Live life, and pursue the calling God has for you, and surrender your will, your motivations to God.

The second area is our words. Ask the question “Is this conversation honouring Jesus?” We are good at saying the right things just like Solomon, but do we recognize when our words turn from being zealous for God to just “beaking” about stuff, or worse, gossiping about people and situations. This is the year of jubilee for our church and in our history there have been issues with words and people taking sides - but that is not who we are today. We have worked hard at being the body of Jesus, of bearing one another’s burdens rather than being one another’s burden. The New Testament spends a huge amount of time talking about the danger of the tongue. It lists gossipers in the same list as murderers and haters of God. Surrender your speech, your conversations to God, and commit to using your words to build people up, to give all praise to God.

The last area is our actions. Ask the question, “I can do anything for God - what will it be?” Preachers always talk about doing this or that, and not doing that or this. Take a step back and consider that probably the biggest error people make in life is to not act at all. People disengage because it is easier, it’s safer. We get tired. We feel our wounds. We feel our age. Sometimes Satan even stops trying to trouble us so we get lulled into inaction. But here we are celebrating our 80th birthday as a church in 2 months and God has declared renewed freedom for us. What are you going to do with your freedom? What has God been speaking to you about?

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