Contrasting the Righteous and the Evildoer

Psalm 37 presents a contrast between the one that follows the Lord and the wrongdoer, wicked, and evildoer.

The psalmist says to the one following the Lord that he should not fret because of the evildoer. Rather, the one who follows the Lord should:

  • Trust the Lord
  • Do good
  • Delight himself in the Lord
  • Commit his way to the Lord
  • Be still before the Lord
  • Wait patiently for the Lord
  • Refrain from anger
  • Forsake wrath
  • Be generous and give
  • Turn away from evil
  • Do justice
  • Utter wisdom and speak justice

Those that do this are considered righteous and meek. It is these individuals that will inherit the land and have abundant peace. In other words, these are the individuals that will have eternal life, abundant life.

This is in contrast to the evildoer. The evildoer:

  • Carries out evil devices
  • Plots against the righteous
  • Gnashes his teeth at the righteous
  • Draws the sword
  • Bends the bow
  • Slays the righteous
  • Borrows and doesn’t pay back
  • Seeks to put the righteous to death

Over and over the psalmist says that the evildoer shall be cut off and that the evildoer has no future.

This is a picture of the righteous as the ones who love their enemies and return evil with good in contrast to the wicked who hate their enemies and return good with evil.

The evildoers are called transgressors. They are rebels. Indeed, they have gone the way of Satan, who is the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning. So, we see the evildoers in this psalm speaking lies about the righteous and seeking to do violence against them.

But, how does the Lord deal with these evildoers? Verse 15 says, “their sword shall enter their own heart.” The Lord allows the violence of the evildoer to return upon himself. The evildoer destroys himself with his own weapon and plans for evil.

The self-destruction of the evildoer, even Satan, is a recurring theme throughout scripture.

  • “So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.” – Esther 7:10
  • “Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his [Goliath’s] sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.” – 1 Samuel 17:51
  • “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.” – Proverbs 26:27
  • “The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made.” – Psalm 9:15

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:56-57) What gave Jesus the victory? His death. He defeated death with death.

Evil, wickedness, violence always returns upon the head of the one who does it. So, Jesus calls us to a way of peace, a way of dying, picking up our cross and dying to self. It is these that inherit eternal life.

Psalm 111 – Jesus’ Prayer, My Prayer

I love how the psalms, like so much of scripture, have twofold meanings. We can read the psalms as prayers of Jesus. But, once we are saved and having the same mind as Jesus (as Philippians 2 instructs us), they become our prayers too.

Psalm 111 really shows this to me. It starts with a declaration to praise the Lord. It further declares that the works of the Lord are:

  • Great
  • Studied by those who delight in them
  • Full of splendor and majesty
  • To be remembered
  • Powerful
  • Faithful and just
  • Established forever and ever

Near the end we read the statement that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and all those that practice this fear, that is awe and reverence of God, have a good understanding.

The psalm closes with a declaration that God’s praise endures forever.

Jesus starts his prayer with a call to praise the Lord, and so should we. Jesus remembers all the works of God and what they are, and so should we.

It is this continual reflection on and remembering of the works of God that show us what it means to fear the Lord. And, this is the beginning of wisdom. Practicing this reflection and remembrance of God’s works gives a good understanding. Jesus did this and so should we.

Living in this fear, this continual remembrance and reflection upon God’s works and the qualities of them (see above), caused God’s praises to dwell on Jesus’ lips forever. It should be so of us too.

The Connection between Jesus’ Earthly and Glorified Body

Here are two passages that stood out to me this morning. They are connected.

Psalm 138:8

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”

I believe “the work of your hands” refers very specifically here to the body of Jesus. And, if you search the scriptures (Genesis 1:6-8, Exodus 25:9, 40, 1 Chronicles 28:19, Psalm 19:1, Psalm 78:69, Hebrews 10:5 for starters) you will find that Jesus’ body is connected to both the veil of the temple and the expanse between heaven and earth.

Jesus’ purpose in coming was to reconnect heaven and earth, the spiritual and the natural, to create a dwelling place for God in man. So, the torn veil and the opening of the expanse between heaven and earth symbolize his broken body that provided a way for this reconnection to take place. In Psalm 138, Jesus declares that this purpose will be fulfilled.

This leads to the second portion of scripture that stood out to me this morning.

Psalm 139:13-16

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

We see the link here with the passage from Psalm 138 in that this passage from Psalm 139 is also talking about the work of God’s hands. But, there are two different parts to the work that are done in two different places. The first part of the work is done in “my mother’s womb” while the second part of the work is done in “the depths of the earth.” Interesting.

Reading the psalms as Jesus’ prayers, I think the first work refers to his earthly body. God formed and knitted Jesus in his mother’s womb for a work on this earth.

But, then the scene shifts to the depths of the earth. Here, Jesus says his “frame” was not hidden from God and God saw his “unformed substance.” These are the only two uses of the Hebrew words for frame and unformed substance in the Old Testament. Seems like this is speaking of something unique and different. Note, too, that Jesus says this was being done in secret. So, I think this is a picture of Jesus’ resurrection body, his glorified body, being prepared by God after the cross in Jesus’ death. Jesus was transfigured or transformed, which the disciples got a glimpse of before his death and then saw the reality of after the resurrection. It’s out of death that the life of God springs forth, which is an idea repeated over and over scripture.

Jesus then says that all his days, even though none of them had taken place yet, were written in God’s book. This book, the Bible, was written by God and given to us to bear witness of Jesus. It is a testimony of all the days that God planned for him.

Psalm 30…Jesus as Temple Builder

In the original Hebrew, Psalm 30 is given the title “A Psalm of David. A Song at the Dedication of the Temple.”

How does this psalm show us Jesus?

In John 1 it says that Jesus tabernacled (that’s the literal translation for dwelt) with us. While Jesus was the tabernacle, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:16 (and many other places), “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” All believers are God’s temple. When did the building of this temple begin? When was it dedicated?

Psalm 30:1-3 – “I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O Lord you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.”

This is clearly speaking of Jesus and his resurrection. “You have drawn me up.” “Lord you have brought up my soul from Sheol.” In the story of David and Solomon, we read that the temple was to be built in a time of rest, not war. Jesus won the war on the cross. When he was resurrected, restored to life, he sat down on the throne. He was at rest. It was now time for the temple to be built.

Psalm 30:4-5 – “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

On the cross, Jesus was separated from God. He experienced God’s anger. But, it was just for a moment. God’s favor upon Jesus is for all eternity. Jesus wept for a night, but joy came in the morning.

Psalm 30:6-7 – “As for me, I said in my prosperity, ‘I shall never be moved.’ By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain strong, you hid your face; I was dismayed.’”

The Hebrew word for prosperity is used only this one time in the Old Testament. It actually means rest, quietness, or ease. Jesus is now in rest. He is seated on the throne. He is ruling. This was all by God’s favor. God has made Jesus’ mountain, or kingdom, stand strong.

But, what does it mean “You hid your face, I was dismayed.”? I think this line is Jesus speaking from the place of rest, looking back to the place of his work, the cross. It was at that time that Jesus experienced God hiding his face from him. It was dismaying. It was true suffering for Jesus.

Hebrews 5:8 says, “Although he was a son, he [Jesus] learned obedience through what he suffered.” Does this mean Jesus was at one time disobedient and what he suffered taught him how to obey? No! He was without sin. He was always obedient.

So, what did he learn? What does it mean he “learned obedience?”In what he suffered, God hiding his face from him, being separated from God, Jesus learned what it cost to obey God. Because of that obedience, Jesus is exalted and on the throne, in the place of rest, building his temple.

This is summed up in Philippians 2:6-9:

“… though he [Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.”

Psalm 30:8-10 – “To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: ‘What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!’”

If Jesus died and was not resurrected, then how would the temple be built (what profit would there be). Would men (dust) build the temple to praise God? Remember, God doesn’t dwell in a temple made with human hands.

Psalm 30:11-12 – “You have turned for my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”

God heard the cry of Jesus from the previous section. God raised Jesus from the pit. So, in this section, we read of a change of garment’s. The sackcloth has been loosed. Sackcloth was made from goat’s hair. The goat was sacrificed for atonement of sin. Jesus made sin for us. But, his body that was made sin was sacrificed and loosed. Now, in his resurrection he has a new garment, a garment of gladness. Peter, James, and John saw the foreshadowing of this when Jesus was transfigured, or transformed. That literally means to be changed from one thing to another.

Then, in his resurrected and glorified body, the disciples saw the reality of this transformation. The time had come. Jesus was at rest. The temple was dedicated. Now he is building his temple, God’s people.

Jesus, the Psalmist…”My Sin,” “I Sinned”?

In Luke 24, Jesus interpreted the Old Testament for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus so they could see where he was in the whole book. In Hebrews, the writer says that God used to speak in all these different ways and at different times but today God speaks in Son.

So, one of the ways God spoke in the Old Testament was Psalms. But, because of the references above as well as many others, I have been reading the psalms as if they were the prayers of Jesus. I have tried to read every psalm as if Jesus was speaking it to God. Certainly, there are a number of psalms that virtually all Christians would agree our messianic. Trying to read all of them as if they were the prayers of Jesus while he walked this earth is hard. But, it has allowed me to see deeper into who Jesus was and what he did.

This morning my reading included Psalm 38 and 41. I think many of us could see Jesus fairly easily in portions of these psalms. For example:

Psalm 38:12-13

“Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my heart speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long. But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear. Like a mute man who does open his mouth.”

The gospels detail all the traps and snares people were laying to trick Jesus, to catch him in a lie, but like a mute man he never defended himself, must notably when he stood accused before Pilate.

Psalm 41:9

“Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”

Judas was one of the twelve, walking with Jesus for three years. At the last supper, Jesus’ last night on earth, Judas ate the bread Jesus gave him. Yet Judas lifted his heel against Jesus, betraying him to the Jewish leaders.

But, then there are portions of these psalms where it gets really difficult, even uncomfortable, to see Jesus as the speaker. That’s because the speaker starts talking about his sin.

Psalm 38:3-8

“There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.”

Psalm 41:4

“As for me, I said, ‘O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!’”

Now, in both of these psalms and many others, the writer talks about his sin. And, the Bible says very clearly that Jesus never sinned (e.g. Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22).

So, how can we read these psalms as the words of Jesus when he never sinned?

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin…”

1 Peter 2:24 says, “He [Jesus] himself bore our sins in his body…”

Romans 8:3 says, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh…”

Yes, Jesus was without sin. But, God made him to be sin. He bore your sin and mine in his body. So, when I read the passages in the psalms above and others where the writer, who otherwise seems to be Jesus speaking, says “my sin” and “I sinned,” I shouldn’t shy away from seeing those words as the words of Jesus. Because those words show the fullness of what Jesus did for you and for me. He literally became our sin. He literally bore it in his body. He had to, otherwise God would not have been able to condemn sin in the flesh.

Think about that. Really meditate on it.

The perfect son of God, co-equal with God, emptied himself of his deity, and became your sin. He became it. And, not just your sin, but the sins of the whole world. Jesus so identified with you and your sin that he could call it “my sin” and say “I have sinned,” even though he was completely without sin himself.

Then, Jesus took your sin, your rebellion and hatred toward God, to the cross and crucified it in his very own body. He condemned it in his flesh, not yours.

What a God we serve!

Do You Find Mercy Shameful?

God is incredibly merciful. So much so that we have a hard time understanding Him.

David’s son Absalom attempted to steal the kingdom from him. At first David fled from Absalom. In time though, he sent his army after Absalom. But, he told them to protect Absalom. When Joab, one of David’s military commanders, hears that the army found Absalom stuck in a tree, he pierces Absalom with three javelins.

Now, Absalom had quite the past – covering up his sister’s rape by his half-brother, murdering said half-brother, and attempting to steal the kingdom from his father. Yet, in 2 Samuel 19, David is weeping and mourning for Absalom, grieving for his son.

David’s actions completely confound and anger Joab. In 2 Samuel 19:5-6, Joab says, “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines, because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased.”

“Because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you.” This statement from Joab is what really struck me. David loved Absalom even though he had acted so wickedly toward him. David felt compassion and mercy to Absalom that Joab could not understand. Joab saw David’s mercy as shameful. To Joab it seemed that David loved those who hated him which equated to David hating those who him.

I think this statement from Joab is a window into how we view God at times. We say, “If you love those who hate me, then you must hate me even though I love you.” We have a hard time understanding how God can love all.

Later in 2 Samuel 19, we read of another instance of this very phenomenon. In 2 Samuel 16, Shimei cursed David. At the time David rejected the idea of killing Shimei. Then, in chapter 19, Shimei comes to meet David and falls before the king in worship. But, Abishai, one of David’s military commanders, says, “Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord’s anointed?”

David responds, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah [speaking to Abishai], that you should this day be as an adversary to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I knot know that I am this day king over Israel?” David knows that Shimei cursed him, called him a murderer, and rejected him as king over Israel. But, David knows he’s king. Therefore, why does he need to kill Shimei to prove it?

David’s statement to Abishai recalls Jesus’ word to James and John. Luke 9:51-54 says, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.”

Jesus knew he was king. He didn’t need his servants to call fire down from heaven to consume those who had rejected him to prove it.

I think David’s actions are just two small pictures of God’s love and mercy. God’s love and mercy goes much, much further than any of us can imagine. He is not like us. God thoughts are not our thoughts.

When You Feel Forgotten…Psalm 13!

Psalm 13

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

“Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’ lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

I read these words and hear the prayer of Jesus on the cross after He says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” That was the first moment ever throughout all eternity that the Father and Son had been separated. The pain of that separation was so incredibly intense that Jesus asks if the Father will forget him forever, how long the Father would hide His face from Him, and how long His enemy (death) would be exalted over Him. Jesus asks the Father to light up His eyes, to revive Him, unless he sleeps the sleep of death, which sounds like being dead forever. For then His foes would rejoice.

Then Jesus says, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love.” He knows God will save Him, restore Him, deal bountifully with Him, and, yes, even resurrect Him.

Also, I can’t read this Psalm without thinking of Dawn, my first wife who died from breast cancer in 2012.

It was something like six years ago that we were getting a second opinion in Chicago regarding a brain tumor the doctors in Cincinnati found. We went to Chicago believing that God was going to miraculously heal this brain tumor. The Chicago doctors would do their tests and find nothing. But, after the test, the doctor came in and confirmed the golf-ball sized tumor in Dawn’s brain.

When the doctor left the room, Dawn began weeping. I mean really weeping. We had a 25-minute drive back to the hotel, and she wept the whole way. We got to the hotel room and she curled up on the bed and continued weeping. The entire time I felt completely helpless. What could I say to her? What could I do for her?

Flash back something like three to six months before that when I started a plan to read the Bible through in a year. So, of course, I had no idea what I would be dealing with the day of the doctor’s diagnosis.

As I sat in the chair in the hotel room, feeling so helpless, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, “Remember what you read this morning.” I got my reading plan out. I had read Psalm 13 that morning. I told Dawn I wanted to read her a psalm. So, I read Psalm 13 to her. I told her that I know it seems like God has forgotten you, but you can trust Him.

It was like a switched had been flipped. Her mindset changed immediately. The atmosphere in the room changed. She rolled over and asked me to read Psalm 91 to her. Then she asked me to read Psalm 23. For the next two years, I don’t  recall her shedding another tear about what she was facing.

That day is forever etched in my mind. God is in control of everything – no matter what the situation looks like. I started that reading plan months before on “my own” initiative. And, the very day that we needed a word from the Lord to deal with feeling forgotten, God had me read Psalm 13. That wasn’t chance. That wasn’t an accident. God had a plan. It wasn’t our plan, but His, and it was good.

Since that time, for the last six years, I have read the Bible through continuously. At first I read it through a couple of times in one year. Then I read it all the way through every three months for one year. So, four times through in a year. For the last several years I have read it through every six months.

I don’t do it out of some religious obligation. It’s not an item on my checklist. It doesn’t make me a good person, a good Christian, or earn me some sort of favor with God. But, every morning I get to hear from Jesus. And, I can’t tell you how many times I have received the absolutely perfect word from the Holy Spirit that I would need later that day. It has happened so many times now all I can do is laugh.

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6

My reading of the scriptures every morning is an act of faith. I believe God exists and that as I diligently seek Him He will reward me. I hope this encourages you to do the same.

Don’t Make Me Better, Make Me New

Psalm 51 is the prayer of David after the utter and complete wickedness of his heart was revealed to him regarding his actions towards Bathsheba and Uriah. David put himself in the wrong place at the wrong time not fulfilling his duty as king, coveted another man’s wife, committed adultery with that woman, found out she was pregnant, pulled Uriah out of the battle in attempt to get him to sleep with Bathsheba so the baby wouldn’t appear to be David’s, and when that didn’t work David sent Uriah back into the most contested part of the battle, telling the rest of the army to pull away from Uriah so he would be killed.

David thought he got away with it.

However, when David knew his sin was found out, he cried out to God, confessing everything he had done. It’s in David’s cry to God that we read what I think is the critical statement of the entire psalm. Verse 10 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

This word create is a special word. In the entire Old Testament, God is the only one that is ever the subject of the Hebrew word for create. God is the only one that creates. So, this is the same word used in Genesis 1:1 when it says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

David knows that he doesn’t just need to have a few things patched up, a few cracks in his life to be repaired. David knows that being a better version of his current self is not good enough. David is not asking God to make a bad man a good man.

No, David is calling on God to perform an act of creation inside of him. David is crying out to God to be completely recreated from the very center of who he is. “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” David is asking God for a complete new heart that is clean so that every thought, every desire, every motivation, and every want is entirely and utterly different than they were before. “Renew a right spirit within me.” David is asking God to make him new again. Don’t make me better, make me new. Instead of asking God to make a bad man good, David is asking God to make a dead man live!

This is what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” We become a new creation in Christ, and in Christ alone. The old dies, and the new comes. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Paul says it another way in Romans 12:1-2, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

“Do not be conformed to this world.” David knew he couldn’t go on as he was. And, neither can we go on doing anything and everything the way the world around us does it. Instead, Paul says “be transformed.” That’s the Greek word we get the word metamorphosis from. It’s to be completely changed. Do you know what happens to a caterpillar when it goes inside its cocoon to become a butterfly? The caterpillar is completely dissolved. Nothing of it is left. And, do you know that it is this same Greek word used of Jesus when he was “transfigured” in front of Peter, James, and John?

How do we “be transformed?” “By the renewal of our mind.” Every thought, desire, motivation, and intention of our thoughts has to be completely and totally changed. Only then can we know what the will of God is, what is good, what is acceptable, what is perfect.

But, note how Paul makes his appeal to the church in Rome. “By the mercies of God.” How does David start his prayer in Psalm 51? “Have mercy on me, O God.” It all begins with God’s mercy. We must recognize that and cry out for it so that He can recreate us, make us new, transform from us, so that He can make dead men live.

There is much more that could be said in the connection of Psalm 51 and Romans 12:1-2, which are two excellent passages of scripture to meditate on together.

Are You Offering Yourself or Things?

Psalm 69:30-33 – “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.”

The cultures of the ancient near east, including Israel, were centered around a sacrificial system to please their god (the God in Israel’s case). Since the Israelite culture was based on sacrifice, God in effect said, “if you are going to sacrifice, then do it this way.” In this way, God was trying to teach them what He really wanted.

But, scripture is replete with statements that God does not desire sacrifice. The verse quoted above is just one instance. God is more pleased with praise and thanksgiving than an ox or bull, that is a sacrifice. Instead of sacrifices, God wants us in our entirety. Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” When our spirit and heart is broken, which is the sacrifice God wants, then we will give praise and thanksgiving.

God wants us to love and know Him, not give Him sacrifices. Hosea 6:6 says, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Instead of a broken spirit and contrite heart, what sacrifice are we offering today? What is that thing we are doing for God, but without truly giving ourselves to him?

Psalm 33 – Who is the word of the Lord?

Psalm 33 says that the righteous, or God’s people, should shout for joy in the Lord. They praise Him, give thanks to Him, and sing to Him. Why?

First, because the “word of the Lord” is upright, faithful, righteous, and just. All of these are aspects of God’s steadfast love, which fills the earth.

Second, because the “word of the Lord” made the heavens and their hosts and gathers the water of the sea (think of the second day of creation and the Red Sea).

Consider that phrase the “word of the Lord.” What is it? Or, rather who is it?

John 1:1-3 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

When you read the “word of the Lord” in the Old Testament your mind should instantly turn to Jesus. Jesus is the word of the Lord. Jesus is God’s word. God’s word is a person. The Bible is not God’s word. The Bible calls itself the scriptures, and Jesus, God’s word, says that the scriptures bear witness, or give a testimony, of Him. The scriptures point to Him, the giver of Life, but in the scriptures themselves there is not life. Rather, life, eternal life, is found in the true and living word, Jesus Christ. Jesus says this himself in John 5. The distinction between the scriptures and the Word of the Lord is an important one and can be seen all throughout the Bible.

As we just read in John 1, the Word, this word of the Lord, is God. So, the psalmist writes that all the earth should fear and stand in awe of Him.

So, Psalm 33:10-12 says, “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!”

In the first sentence, God is speaking of all the nations of the earth, whether we think of that as people groups or nations like we have today. But, in the last sentence, when the psalmist writes “blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” he’s not speaking of a nation with borders as we think of nations today. He’s speaking of the “nation” of people that are believers in Christ, members of His body, citizens of His kingdom. Remember from yesterday what Peter wrote in his first epistle – we, God’s people, are sojourners and strangers in the earth, moving about from nation to nation, kingdom to people. 1 Peter 2:10 says, “once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people,” which echoes Psalm 102:18 that says, “let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people not yet born will praise the Lord.”

God looks down from heaven on this people. His eye beholds this people that fear Him. What does He see? Psalm 33:16-17 says that God sees a people where “the king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope of salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.” God’s nation, God’s people, does not trust in war, military power, or the carnal weapons of this world. Rather there hope is in the steadfast love of the word of the Lord, Jesus, because He delivers them and keeps them alive.

In light of all this, it seems clear that Christians have no desire for or need of war. War comes from the lust of your flesh. Fighting that way makes you a friend of the world, which is enmity with God. See James 4.