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20
Feb
17

psalm 2

Psalm 2

 

1 Why do the nations conspire

and the peoples plot in vain?

2 The kings of the earth rise up

and the rulers band together

against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,

3 “Let us break their chains

and throw off their shackles.”

4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;

the Lord scoffs at them.

5 He rebukes them in his anger

and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

6 “I have installed my king

on Zion, my holy mountain.”

7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son;

today I have become your father.

8 Ask me,

and I will make the nations your inheritance,

the ends of the earth your possession.

9 You will break them with a rod of iron;

you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”


10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;

be warned, you rulers of the earth.

11 Serve the Lord with fear

and celebrate his rule with trembling.

12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry

and your way will lead to your destruction,

for his wrath can flare up in a moment.


Blessed are all who take refuge in him.


The Psalter soon introduces one of its major themes: the figure of the King. Psalm 2 is an ‘enthronement’ psalm, or at least recalls it. Kidner in his Tyndale commentary on the Psalms observes, 

The Psalm would serve well enough (and doubtless did) as a regular enthronement anthem for a new king, when its language would be construed as courtly rhetoric, treating the modest empire of David as though it were the world. But there is more than rhetoric here. The poem draws out the logic of the fact that the Davidic King reigns on behalf of God, whose throne is in the heavens (2:4). The uttermost parts of the earth are therefore his by right, and will be his in fact.

The King was God’s ‘anointed’. Kidner goes on to observe that anointing implied consecration to office (Lev 8:12) and empowerment for the task (Ps 89:19-29); the anointed was often gifted by the Spirit (1 Sam 16:13). Various people in Israel were anointed beside kings. Priests were anointed (Ex 40:12-16). And even a prophet (1 Kings 19:16). In Isaiah God’s ‘servant’ is anointed (Isa 61:1). . In the NT, of course, Jesus is Isaiah’ servant and his ‘anointed’. The title Christ simply means ‘anointed’.
And so the king was much more than a leader. He represented God’s rule on earth. But it is not hard to discern that the Davidic King in the Psalms requires a greater figure than David or most other kings in the Davidic dynasty to fulfil their description. What, if describing only them would be merely poetic exaggeration, is in fact much more than that; it is Spirit-inspired prophecy.  Their very inadequacies underlined the need for a far greater Davidic King. A king who is not only David’s son but is David’s Lord (Ps 110; Matt 22: 42; Acts 2) and is himself God (Psalm 45). Only the NT would explain this enigma when it became apparent that Jesus, Messiah, the last Davidic King who lives for ever at the right hand of God, fulfils these criteria precisely and literally.  Peter says of Psalm 110 that David wrote as a prophet (Acts 2:19-26). His description of the Davidic King anticipated Messiah, his royal person and rule.

Psalm 2 then, has perhaps, an initial reference to David, to Solomon (cf. 2 Sam 7:14), and at some level to other Davidic Kings but its chief focus is Christ, David’s offspring and root. David’s son, Lord, and God.  It describes the enthronement of Christ, the true Davidic King who reigns on God’s behalf. Peter tells us that He is now exalted to the right hand of God (Acts 2:33-36. Cf. Lk 22:69; Roms 8:32; Col 3:1; Heb 1:1-4, 13,;10:12; 12:2).  

The Psalm is a warning call particularly to the gentile nations, though when we reach the NT we see Israel was part of the rebellion. It announces the enthronement and universal reign of Christ and warns the nations that if they defy the Lord and refuse to submit to Christ they will be destroyed, however, the promise is if they do submit they will be blessed. The message of the psalm is… serve the Lord… kiss his son.

10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;

be warned, you rulers of the earth.

11 Serve the Lord with fear

and celebrate his rule with trembling.

12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry

and your way will lead to your destruction,

for his wrath can flare up in a moment.

Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

These words may seem harsh but they are against a background of firstly background murmuring and conspiring which hardens into open hostility and rebellion against God and his designated King.

1 Why do the nations conspire

and the peoples plot in vain?

2 The kings of the earth rise up

and the rulers band together

against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,

3 “Let us break their chains

and throw off their shackles.”

Peter and John locate the crucifixion as a fulfilment of this. (Acts 4:25-28).


Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one. ’27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 

The nations, the Romans, represented by Pontius Pilate (a ruler) in cahoots with Herod (a king) and the ordinary people in the city both Gentile and Jew (so Israel was involved too) plot the death of Jesus. However, while this is clearly a significant fulfilment it probably does not exhaust fulfilment. John and Peter seem to see their issue with the rulers as an example of this ongoing conflict and an encouragement to boldness in their part (v29). Throughout history the nations have rejected God and Christ. We need only look at Western Europe today to see how keen its leaders (and ordinary citizens) are to overthrow Christian values and much to do with Christianity. It would seem that as history advances to its climax this attitude will further harden and assert itself (2 Thess 2; Rev 13, 17, 19). Where the gospel is preached and rejected these verses surely have a voice.
The poetic voice in the Psalm (who seems to be Christ himself vv 6,7) expresses astonishment at the rebellion. In part, no doubt, because he knows the reign of the Lord and his Christ to be a good thing and a blessing to all who accept it (v12). He certainly can’t comprehend the mindset that views this beneficent rule as chains and shackles that oppress. However, his most stressed reason is that it is clear such rebellion is futile reckless folly.  It is not only wrong; it is wrongheaded.

Those who resist Messiah’s rule are fighting a fight they can never win. They are challenging an irresistible force who cannot be opposed. He is not a man on earth but God who rules his creation from the heavens. He laughs in derision (not cruelty or malevolence) at any pitiful attempt (however powerful it may be) to thwart him or his plans.  No power can succeed against God.

4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;

the Lord scoffs at them.

5 He rebukes them in his anger

and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

6 “I have installed my king

on Zion, my holy mountain.”

Christ was crucified but even this apparent defeat was really a victory over the forces of evil (Col 2:15). God raised him from the dead and seated him at his own right hand. His reign has begun and will continue until all his enemies are the footstool of his feet. To resist Christ is crass stupidity of the worse kind. It is culpable arrogance and nothing good can come of it. God will respond in fearful anger and wrath that will destroy them.

We are inclined to romanticise the underdog; he is generally the hero.   Think of the virtually insignificant rebels taking on the might of the Empire in Star Wars films. But God’s kingdom is not an evil empire, rather it is the beneficent rule of peace and righteousness; it blesses those who take refuge in it.  To oppose what is truly good is evil.  And unlike the Empire, it can never be overthrown and those who try will meet a terrible end.

God has determined or decreed that Christ shall reign therefore reign he shall. Indeed his reign is already inaugurated (both in the Psalm and in history).

I have installed my King on Zion my holy mountain

The ‘I’ is emphatic. The enthronement is a fait accompli; it is a done thing and it is God who has done it.  And God has already decreed his unique relationship with his anointed king. And has promised him universal rule. Nothing will stand in Messiah’s way. He will crush all baleful opposition.

7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have become your father.

8 Ask me,

and I will make the nations your inheritance,

the ends of the earth your possession.

9 You will break them with a rod of iron;

you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

Debate exists as to when this day of father-son relationship took place. Some, especially in the past, see it as a reference to the eternal generation of the ‘son’ as the second person of the trinity. However, trinitarian relationships are not the focus here. It is God’s adoption of the Davidic King as the one who would rule the nations on his behalf (2 Sam 7:14). Some see the incarnation as the day when he became ‘son’ as he was born king of the Jews.  However, it is not the royal birth of this figure that is the focus but his coronation, his enthronement and rule. It seems clear that the reference is to Christ’s exaltation as we have already noted. Although disputed, it seems to me Acts 13, where these words are cited, is a reference to Christ’s resurrection.

32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers,

33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, ”

‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’  

The whole context of Acts 13 is resurrection. Romans 1 tells us he was declared to be the Son of God with power… by his resurrection from the dead.
As Kidner says, 

For any earthly king this form of address could bear only the lightest interpretation, but the NT holds us to its full value which excludes the very angels to leave only one candidate in possession (Heb 1:5)

For the truth unveiled in Jesus is that the Royal Davidic ‘son’ by adoption is the divine ‘Son’ by nature and being.

In resurrection, and immediately prior to his enthronement at God’s right hand, Christ commissions his disciples on the basis of his authority as the resurrected Davidic King to preach the gospel to all nations.

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

The Lord had promised Messiah the nations as his inheritance

8 Ask me,

and I will make the nations your inheritance,

the ends of the earth your possession.

The great commission to preach the gospel that ‘Jesus is Lord’ is how this promise is presently being fulfilled.  It is a call to ‘kiss his son’.   But there is also a reference to his crushing all opposition.  

9 You will break them with a rod of iron;

you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

It’s worth noting that this is what happened to Israel when they refused his rule.  Within a generation Jerusalem was routed and many died.  Israel is a warning to the gentile nations.  Where people do not submit to his reign voluntarily through the gospel they will submit to it ultimately for at his Second Coming every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The Day of the Lord will be a dark day for any opposition to the reign of God’s anointed son.

Rev 19: 11-16
11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.

Note the allusion to Psalm 2 in v15
And so, in the light of all of this, God in all his invincibility having already enthroned Christ, formally adopted him as son, promised him universal dominion and the overthrow of all his enemies, we arrive at the message of the psalm, the  a warning command to the nations of the earth… serve the Lord with fear… kiss the son

After the chilling threats of wrath and judgement that are addressed to the rebelling nations, chilling, for like God himself we have no pleasure in the death of the wicked (though we delight in the overthrow of wickedness) it is with a certain relief, joy, and no little comfort we read in the last line of the psalm 

Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Kidner’s succinct comment here is quote-worthy 

What fear and pride interpret as bondage (v3) is in fact security and bliss. And there is no refuge from him:only in him.

Serve the Lord with fear (holy awe)… kiss the Son.

16
Feb
17

psalm 22 (2)

spiritual distress

Without doubt the fundamental agony of the psalm is spiritual (though we must avoid making physical, mental and spiritual discrete categories; his spiritual anguish is clearly mental and has physical effects as his heart melts like wax). His distress flows above all from divine abandonment.

The difference between David and Jesus is that while he felt abandoned by God in reality he was not; in reality, however, Jesus was. He was made sin and a curse (2 Cor 5; Gal 3:13). Many of God’s people have felt abandoned (think of the godly in Babylon) but none ever have been. The righteous are never forsaken (Ps 37:25, 28; 9:10; 13:5,6). It is precisely this truth that disorientates (4,5).

In you our ancestors put their trust

they trusted and you delivered them.

To you they cried out and were saved;

in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

Yet the ‘righteous one’ experiences what the righteous never do; he is forsaken. His cry to heaven is unheeded. His anguished spirit and plea for help rallies no support, no pity, no rescue. There is no help. He is utterly abandoned by God and it haunts and hollows his holy soul.

We in our sin have known separation from God (though even here not in this absolute sense) but Jesus never did. He had known only intimacy and communion. He had known God’s felicity but never his frown. He had been the constant object of heaven’s delight but never experienced its dismissal, never its wrath. He had rightly known approval for his righteous holy life but now he is alienated and made sin. Now he is treated, not as the righteous, but the unrighteousness. And so he is shunned, rejected, forsaken. He is not the blessed man but the cursed (Gals 3:13). As one writer comments, ‘He bears in his soul all God is against evil.’

To all God’s people who feel forsaken we have a helper who has felt what we feel for he has known abandonment to a degree we never will as he made atonement for our sins. He knows the support we need and provides it unfailingly (Hebs 2-5).

But here we must note, and this is critical. In all his distress and cries of incomprehension there is no failure of faith. Faith is under pressure, extreme pressure, but it does not waver. From the outset God is ‘My’ God (three times repeated). If there are agonised questions they are agonised precisely because they come from a position of submissive trust. There is incomprehension but no rebellion. Faith affirmations sprinkle the lament section of the psalm.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One

and,

Yet you brought me out of the womb;

you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.

From birth I was cast on you;

from my mother’s womb you have been my God.’

In utter helplessness he reminds his heart of God’s reign and of the lifelong trust God himself had instilled and He looks with undeviating resolute faith to God for help and deliverance despite its apparent absence. Such is persevering faith at its outer limits.

You are my strength; come quickly to help me.

Deliver me from the sword,

my precious life from the power of the dogs.

Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;

save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

Faith may ask ‘why’, often in great agony of soul and confusion but it does so from a position of trust. The ‘why’ does not come from self-assertion but from faith at a loss to grasp and understand. And Christ, our Great High Priest, understands this, not simply as a divine person who knows everything but as a human person who has known faith tested in just this way.

With v21 the lament ends. Lament gives way to praise. David is no longer rejected by the people and by God. He is no longer the ‘afflicted one’ (v24). God has heard him and delivered him and he is now the undisputed King leading the praises of his people for the deliverance he has received.  Where a prayer for deliverance was answered and a vow of service was made to God as thanksgiving the law encouraged a sacrifice and feast of celebration.  They were not to keep their happiness to themselves but invite their servants and other needy folks (Lev 7:16; Deut 12:17-19) that they may all be blessed.

suffering and glory

Peter writes, concerning salvation, ‘the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow’ (1Pet 1:10-11). Here the prophet David (Acts 2) by the Spirit shifts from the sufferings of Christ to the glory that follows.

At what point are these verses to be located in the experience of Christ. Is it resurrection? Or is it when the loud cry of triumph ‘it is finished’ echoes through the universe and the cry of abandonment gives way to a certainty of relationship, and resurrection in prospect, and becomes ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’?
Whenever, it expresses the determination that this deliverance will be known to all Israel and a cause for praise. It would bring blessing for all. In fact, the news of this deliverance and its effects would spread far beyond the borders of Israel and bring salvation to the nations (Cf. Isa 49).

All the ends of the earth

will remember and turn to the Lord,

and all the families of the nations

will bow down before him,

for dominion belongs to the Lord

and he rules over the nations.

This deliverance clearly has far greater ramifications than any deliverance David experienced. Here we have the message of the cross and resurrection and the universal blessing and dominion it brings (Phil 2).  Hebrews 2:10-18 is the NT commentary on this text.

In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me. 14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

He became human that he might become one of us and so be fitted save us but our spiritual union with him is not through his birth but his death and resurrection.  It was in these that the one who makes people holy and whose who are made holy belonged to the same family.   It is in resurrection he first refers to his disciples as his ‘brothers’. He says to Mary,

Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’

Jesus introduces this new and intimate relationship with his people that resurrection inaugurated and commissions Mary to announce his resurrection and coming exaltation to the disciples.  Mary clings to him and Jesus seems both comfort her by telling her he is not yet returning to heaven while gently preparing her for the fact that he will be returning to heaven and she cannot always have him with her as he is.  Ascension and exaltation to Kingly glory is imminent.  In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus instructs Mary to tell his brothers to go to Galilee where they will see him. The narrative then moves virtually immediately to the ascension and the great commission.  The disciples are given the task of spreading  the news of his deliverance and all that flows from it to the whole world.  Not least that those who believe have a more profound relationship with Him and God than ever before.  They are now his brothers and sisters and God is now their Father.  Jesus came to reveal God as Father; he has done what he vowed in Psalm 22 when he said,

I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters

We rightly praise Christ for the victory of the cross. And God has determined that his obedience to death even the death of a cross there will bring universal obeisance (Phil 2). However, here it is Jesus, the obedient man and appointed King acknowledging that his victory belongs to the Lord. The King fights the Lord’s battles but the Lord gives the victory. God honours Christ and Messiah honours God as the delivered King vows that praise will resound to God from his people everywhere for the victory won.

And so blessing flows out from Golgotha to all, in all places and at all times. The poor and the rich are blessed. Israel and the nations are blessed. The weak and desperate are blessed. And future generations are blessed for the news of this victory will pass from generation to generation … to people yet unborn.  They too will declare his righteousness and proclaim

He (the Lord) has done it.

15
Feb
17

psalm 22 (1)

Psalm 22

 
This is a psalm of David. The Zondervan Study Bible comments in its notes,

‘The first part focuses on David as an individual experiencing unmatched suffering in his person. In the second part, David returns to his accustomed role as king, thanking God before the people and extending his vision to the nations.’

The Zondervan Study Bible has very helpful comments on this psalm to which this post is indebted.

David is clearly in the crucible of suffering. The occasion may be his fleeing Saul (1 Sam 19-30) or Absalom (2 Sam 15-17). Whatever it may be, as the ZSB again observes,

‘the intensity and the specific details, especially in vv. 12-18, outstrip anything that David is recorded to have experienced. As in many psalms, he resorts to figurative language to express the depth of his distress. In the second part, his vision extends beyond any reality of his own day as he affirms that “all the families of the nations will bow down before the Lord ‘ (v27).

Christians understand the psalm strains beyond David to find ultimate fulfilment in Christ. It describes the experience of Christ upon the cross with language used figuratively of David being realised literally by Christ. Peter, concerning another psalm says that David was a prophet and spoke of Christ (Acts 2). This is clearly true of Psalm 22.

The opening words of the psalm firmly locate its messianic location at Golgotha,

‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me’ Matt 27:46

Other allusions to the cross are clear in the psalm; the derision (vv6-8; Matt 24:34-35, 43), his thirst (v15; Jn 19:28); and the dividing of his clothes (v18; Lk 23:34).

The cross was a vortex of suffering. A swirling disarrayed mass of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish created a deadly crucible of overwhelming distress. The raw and lacerated feelings of Jesus upon the cross are exposed in the Psalm for our wonder and worship.  Christ loved the church and gave himself for her…the Son of God loved me (and you) and gave himself for me.

physical distress

For those of us who have little experience of physical agony, to say nothing of crucifixion agony, we can only glimpse what it involved and shudder. Psalm 22 gives us an insight. We read in verses 14- 16

My heart has turned to wax;

it has melted within me.

My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,

and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;

you lay me in the dust of death…

… they pierce my hands and my feet.

Some physical elements are clear. His bones are out of joint. Perhaps the brutal jarring of the stake being rammed in the ground and presumably the unnatural and prolonged hanging from it would dislocate bones. He is pierced and parched (refusing in the gospels any drink that would dull the pain for the pain was part of the purpose). But it is the images of being ‘poured out like water’ and his heart melted like wax that reveal how reduced he is. He is as weak as water. He feels broken as his heart melts within him as weakness, dread and dissolution seek to assert themselves and his will becomes faint (Cf. Dan 10:18). We are in deep waters here.

Dr. Gill wisely observes, “if the heart of Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, melted at it, what heart can endure, or hands be strong, when God deals with them in his wrath?”

And we should note with Gill that whoever the secondary actors are responsible for Christ’s suffering the leading actor is God for these sufferings are vicarious; they are sin-bearing wounds from the hand of God. As Isaiah writes,

He was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us

This is acknowledged in v15; it is God who has brought him low ‘into the dust of death’. In fact, as we shall explore, the Psalm is a lament, acry for understanding and answer, addressed to God. The profound distress of the sufferer in the first half of the psalm flows from his dismay and disorientation as he grasps the inconceivable that he is abandoned by God. Laceration of bones, tongue, feet, hands and heart all feeding into this.  There is mystery here for Jesus knew the cup that he must drink, however, in the maelstrom of Golgotha the cry of dereliction is the honest cry of the abandoned.  When one feels forsaken one may cry ‘why’ even if the answer is known, how much deeper the cry if one is forsaken.

mental and emotional distress


Mental and emotional pain should not be considered less destructive and devastating than physical pain. In fact the psalm focuses more on the mental than on the physical. Of course physical and mental are interconnected. Yet, some of the bruising was peculiarly mental and emotional.

The shame element is one. He feels acutely, as one who is wholly right and pure will, the shame of the cross.

All my bones are on display;

people stare and gloat over me.(v17)

He is an exhibit. A spectacle. An object of macabre and malignant pleasure. They delight in his indignity. He has no privacy in his distress. He is also an object of derision and mockery and that by the ‘people’ to whom he belonged, from whom he may look for sympathy. But there was none, only contempt. (Ps 69:14).

6 But I am a worm and not a man,

scorned by everyone, despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me;

they hurl insults, shaking their heads.

8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say,

“let the Lord rescue him.

Let him deliver him,

since he delights in him.”

The language is exactly that used at the cross (Matt 27:43). The insults of those who insult God fell on him (Ps 69:4,9)
The impact of this relentless derision and taunting in his physically weakened condition erodes his sense of personal value. He feels worthless, a worm, subhuman, a non-person. And the derision is not merely relentless it is malevolent and vicious as ‘the strong close in on the weak’ (Kidner). It is like being trapped and baited by salivating murderous ravenous animals.

H12 Many bulls surround me

strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13 Roaring lions that tear their prey

open their mouths wide against me…

16 Dogs surround me,

a pack of villains encircles me;

His soul is oppressed and dismayed. On top of the ravening of the execution revellers  (who are like unclean dogs) there is the callous indifference of the hardened soldiers to his approaching death. They gamble for his clothes (part of his identity) in front of him as if he were already dead, a non-person.

They divide my clothes among themand cast lots for my garment.

These abuses all contribute to his heart melting like wax. The combined physical and mental anguish is crushing.  It is more than the human spirit can endure. However, in all the innocent victim’s distress there is no cry for vengeance against his tormentors a notable omission in psalms that frequently do.

Much of what we have considered is part of the life of faith for every believer at some level.  We all are likely to experience physical pain and mental distress due to the treatment of others.  Few will experience these to the point of crucifixion but some will and have done.   However, we will all know times of difficulty and crisis in our Christian life.  We rightly pray that we will not be lead into such trials and if we are that we are delivered from them.  Such trials are keenly felt and grievous (Hebs 12) but Jesus has been there before us.  He has been tried to the extreme and knows how to help those who are tried.

Yet the real source of his anguish in Psalm 22 lies deeper still. It is neither the physical torture of crucifixion nor the mental anguish that mob hate creates that all but crushes Jesus; it is the loss of relationship with his God. The cry of the opening stanza is the core of his distress. It is above all a spiritual distress, a spiritual plight, the unbearable agony of being cut-off from God and abandoned. The double appeal to God serves to underline the depths his distress and desperation.

‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me?’

But this requires a further post.

15
Feb
17

psalm 22

Psalm 22
This is a psalm of David. The Zondervan Study Bible comments in its notes,
‘The first part focuses on David as an individual experiencing unmatched suffering in his person. In the second part, David returns to his accustomed role as king, thanking God before the people and extending his vision to the nations.’
The Zondervan Study Bible has very helpful comments on this psalm and this post will draw heavily from them.
David is clearly in the crucible of suffering. The occasion may be his fleeing Saul (1 Sam 19-30) or Absalom (2 Sam 15-17). Whatever it may be, as the ZSB again observes,
‘the intensity and the specific details, especially in vv. 12-18, outstrip anything that David is recorded to have experienced. As in many psalms, he resorts to figurative language to express the depth of his distress. In the second part, his vision extends beyond any reality of his own day as he affirms that “all the families of the nations will bow down before the Lord ‘ (v27).
Christians understand the psalm strains beyond David to find ultimate fulfilment in Christ. It describes the experience of Christ upon the cross with language used figuratively of David being realised literally by Christ. Peter, concerning another psalm says, David was a prophet and spoke of Christ (Acts 2). This is clearly true of Psalm 22.
The opening words of the psalm firmly locate its messianic location at Golgotha, 
‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me’ Matt 27:46
Other allusions to the cross are clear in the psalm; the derision (vv6-8; Matt 24:34-35, 43), his thirst (v15; Jn 19:28); and the dividing of his clothes (v18; Lk 23:34).
The cross was a vortex of suffering. A swirling disarrayed mass of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish created a deadly crucible of overwhelming distress. The raw and lacerated feelings of Jesus upon the cross are exposed in the Psalm for our wonder and worship for all is for us. Christ loved the church and gave himself for her…the Son of God loved me (and you) and gave himself for me.
Physical distress
For those of us who have little experience of physical agony, to say nothing of crucifixion agony, we can only glimpse what it involved and shudder. Psalm 22 helps us glimpse. We read in verses 14- 16
I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint.

My heart has turned to wax;

it has melted within me.

15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,

and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;

you lay me in the dust of death…

… they pierce my hands and my feet.
Some physical elements are clear. His bones are out of joint. It would appear the brutal jarring of the stake being rammed in the ground and presumably the unnatural and prolonged hanging from it would dislocate bones. He is pierced and parched (refusing in the gospels any drink that would dull the pain for the pain was part of the purpose). But it is the images of being ‘poured out like water’ and his heart melted like wax that reveal how reduced he is. He is as weak as water. He feels broken as his heart melts within him as dread and dissolution seek to assert themselves and his will becomes faint (Cf. Dan 10:18). We are in deep waters here.  
Dr. Gill wisely observes, “if the heart of Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, melted at it, what heart can endure, or hands be strong, when God deals with them in his wrath?”
And we should note with Gill that whoever the secondary actors are responsible for Christ’s suffering the leading actor is God for these sufferings are vicarious; they are sin-bearing wounds from the hand of God. As Isaiah writes, 
He was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us 
This is acknowledged in v15; it is God who has brought him low ‘into the dust of death’. In fact, as we shall explore, the Psalm is a lament, a cry, an agonised groan, addressed to God. The profound (holy) complaint of the sufferer in the first half of the psalm flows from his dismay and incomprehension as he grasps the inconceivable that he is abandoned by God. Laceration of bones, tongue, feet, hands and heart all feeding into this.
Mental and emotional distress
Mental and emotional pain should not be considered less destructive and devastating than physical pain. In fact the psalm focuses more on the mental than on the physical. Of course physical and mental are interconnected. Yet, some of the bruising was peculiarly mental and emotional.
The shame element is one. He feels acutely, as one who is wholly right and pure will, the shame of the cross. 
All my bones are on display;

people stare and gloat over me.(v17)
He is an exhibit. A spectacle. An object of macabre and malignant pleasure. They delight in his indignity. He has no privacy in his distress. He is also an object of derision and mockery and that by the ‘people’ to whom he belonged, from whom he may look for sympathy. But there was none, only contempt.

(Ps 69:14). 
6 But I am a worm and not a man,

scorned by everyone, despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me;

they hurl insults, shaking their heads.

8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say,

“let the Lord rescue him.

Let him deliver him,

since he delights in him.”
The language is exactly that used at the cross (Matt 27:43). The insults of those who insult God fell on him (Ps 69:4,9)
The impact of this relentless derision and taunting in his physically weakened condition erodes his sense of personal value. He feels worthless, a worm, a non-person. And the derision is not merely relentless it is malevolent and vicious as ‘the strong close in on the weak’ (Kidner). It is like being trapped and baited by salivating ravenous animals.
12 Many bulls surround me;

strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13 Roaring lions that tear their prey

open their mouths wide against me…

16 Dogs surround me,

a pack of villains encircles me;
His soul is oppressed and dismayed. On top of the ravening of the execution revellers there is the callous indifference of the hardened soldiers to his approaching death. They gamble for his clothes (part of his identity) in front of him as if he were already dead, a non-person.
18 They divide my clothes among them

and cast lots for garments
These abuses all contribute to his heart melting like wax. The combined physical and mental anguish is crushing. It is more than the human spirit can endure. However, there is no cry for vengeance against his tormentors a notable omission in psalms that frequently do. 
Yet the real source of his anguish lies deeper still. It is neither the physical torture of crucifixion nor the mental anguish that mob hate creates that all but crushes Jesus; it is the loss of relationship with his God. The cry of the opening stanza is the core of his distress. It is above all a spiritual distress, the distress of being cut-off from God and abandoned. The double appeal to God serves to underline the depths his distress and desperation.
‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me?’

08
Feb
17

psalm 21

1 The king rejoices in your strength, Lord.

How great is his joy in the victories you give!

2 You have granted him his heart’s desire

and have not withheld the request of his lips.

3 You came to greet him with rich blessings

and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.

4 He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—

length of days, for ever and ever.

5 Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;

you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.

6 Surely you have granted him unending blessings

and made him glad with the joy of your presence.

7 For the king trusts in the Lord;

through the unfailing love of the Most High

he will not be shaken.

 

8 Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies;

your right hand will seize your foes.

9 When you appear for battle,

you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace.

The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath,

and his fire will consume them.

10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth,

their posterity from mankind.

11 Though they plot evil against you

and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed.

12 You will make them turn their backs

when you aim at them with drawn bow.

 

13 Be exalted in your strength, Lord;

we will sing and praise your might.

Psalm 21 is a Royal psalm. In the first instance it is a celebration of King David’s victory over his enemies. David is God’s chosen Warrior King. He represents the throne of God on earth.  He fights on God’s behalf, overthrowing God’s enemies, however, in truth, David knows it is not he who wins battles but God himself who fights and triumphs. If there is victory it is God who has achieved it (Cf. Ps 18). David recognises this and so the psalm is one of acknowledged dependence on the Lord (vv 2-7) and of thanksgiving for victory granted.  It is this trust is the basis of the king’s success (v7).

In the previous psalm (Ps 20), battle is pending and the people pray for the King’s victory. Psalm 21 is a prayer of thanksgiving for victory achieved, indeed for all victories where the Lord has delivered the King, saving him from defeat and death. David could have been killed in battle but God preserved him repeatedly (v4) and has preserved him yet again.  As a result his life is a tale of privilege.  It is one of God-given glory and majesty, of a glad heart experiencing the joys of God’s presence, indeed of unnumbered blessings (4-7).

The Psalm goes on to express (vv8-12) confidence that all his enemies will be overthrown. However, is difficult to be sure who is addressed. If it is the Lord then the speaker is expressing the certainty that the Lord, the divine Warrior, will always triumph over his enemies. If it is David, then this was clearly not the case (vv8-12).

And it is just here that another layer of meaning emerges from the Psalm. The Psalm celebrates the victory of God’s anointed king. The Davidic King was God’s ‘son’ (Ps 2) the human who reigned on God’s behalf. And so the Psalm anticipates the ultimate Davidic King. It reaches forward to Jesus, Messiah, the final king of the Davidic dynasty and his victory over his enemies.

The Psalm has been traditionally understood in terms of Jesus exaltation. The cross is over (Ps 20) and the battle has been won. The enemies are defeated. Victory celebration and thanksgiving is now dominant. In the heat of battle and in the jaws of death the ultimate Davidic King and Warrior asked for life. Hebs 5:7 says,

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.’

Unlike David, he wasn’t saved from death, but out of death. Hebs 2:9 says,

But we see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

Jesus was the fully dependent man, the trusting Davidic Warrior-King who called on God to give him victory and save him from death.  He asked for life and God gave it to him, length of days for ever and ever (Ps 21:7). The resurrected Davidic Priest-King, lives in the power of an ‘indestructible life’ (Hebs 7:16). He has been crowned with glory, splendour and majesty and seated, as the Royal Son, the Davidic King, at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (Ps 2, Hebs 1; 12:2; Phil 2).

When we see the psalm from this perspective we see that the question of who is addressed in the final section is not so important. For it is true not only of God but of Christ (his anointed human King); the now reigning glorified king will conquer (through the promised power of God) all remaining enemies. He must reign until God has made (through Christ) all his enemies the footstool of his feet. (Ps 110:1; Hebs10:12; 1 Cor 15:25; Rev 19:11-21).

And what of us?

We who belong to the same olive tree as David also triumph by faith. We may look for inspiration to David in this psalm, or the other heroes of faith in Hebs 11; and we certainly look, as Hebrews instructs us (12:2), to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of faith (who took faith to places never before charted). We do so assured in faith that their victory will be ours for the battle is the Lord’s. We too, in faith, have asked for life, for ‘length of days for ever and ever’ and we too anticipate ‘glory and splendour and majesty’, ‘unending blessings’, the ‘joys of God’s presence’ all eternally gladdening our hearts for we share in the King’s triumph.  And again, it will be certainly ours; we who persevere in faith, who refuse to be shaken, who trust in the Lord’s strength for our triumph, and who are continually confident of his ‘unfailing love’.

Romans 8 says,

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let’s, with the celebrants of Psalm 21, sing and praise his might.

16
Sep
16

Islam and Christianity. The dilemma.

26
Apr
16

eu referendum for what it’s worth

For a clear expression of the issues regarding the coming British referendum I cannot do better than refer you to the following post by Free Church Moderator David Robertson.  I agree fully with his conclusions.

https://theweeflea.com/2016/04/26/european-referendum-the-tipping-point/

I should add for my European friends that although I wish Britain to be out of the EU that in no way suggests hostility to my European neighbours.  I have had many happy holidays in many areas of Europe.  Europe and the EU are two different entities.  




the cavekeeper

The Cave promotes the Christian Gospel by interacting with Christian faith and practice from a conservative evangelical perspective.

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