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THE SOLEMN DEPTHS
AND UNHAZED HEIGHTS
OF THE PSALMS
PLUNDERING PRIZES FROM THE PSALMS
Here we shall consider the following as to their sequence of thought or of order, or both:
Psalms 40- 46 inclusive, 49-50, 72, 17
First, by way of introduction, note that this is an application of the title of this volume to an area of the Psalms, both to keep to theme and to the more impactively bring out this phase of the beauty of the Psalms, of their coherence and majesty, depth and wonder. Since these are features divine in kind, and the predictions in tlem are of that self-same mind, which minds the end from the first and is never embarrassed by speaking at any time and clime, with truth, it also has a relationship to BCE, that is, Biblical Christian Apologetics.
In considering these 11 Psalms, we find reason to stress the Bountiful, the Accountable and the Surmountable, and in this context, let us ponder the Psalms, briefly so as not to lose the point of sequence, but in a little depth, so as not to lose the point of the Psalms themselves, either.
I THE BOUNTIFUL - personalised: Psalm 40
in word and deed
We hear David in his inspired pondering: he waits, he waits on the Lord. It is not instant satisfaction. He waits patiently. He cries to Him, and He heard his cry. Out from unspeakable murkiness, the very pit, sticky, deep, dark, unlovely and unlit, separate and sundered in feeling, the outcome of anarchy in the race, of the sin in which he was born (Psalm 51:5).
In this depth of darkness, as if to close in upon him for ever, hearing, God has acted, and brought his soul back into the light. Instead of miry clay, insubstantial phantasms of what is wrong, sundered, amiss, the population for the accursed, the set for their minds and the capacious clay for their beings, stuck fast because of sin, not only particular but generic, now is there that rock, which no longer gives clay perhaps two heavy inches thick, to impede the feet and disperse strength as one goes. It is rock, a delicious platform for swift and modulated action: it is to this that the Lord has brought David in restoration of his soul, of his life, of his heart.
Moreover, it is not some sudden arising to a narrow rock in a stormy sea; for God has "established my steps," he says 40:2). In fact, so great is this transition from the sneak preview of hell with which his heavy imagination had been finding, yes his psychic self, that he finds a new song, not just a psychological exclamation, but one which God Himself personally has put into his mouth. In other words, he has realised the power, presence, grace, kindness and surpassing of all impediment which God does provide, has provided and will provide for his soul (as in Psalm 17).
Nor is it merely personal, but it is a practical, propositionalisable, personal, well-based ground for deliverance and praise, which he has found, so that the song is new in its intensity, grand in its immensity and suitable for many, that they too might trust in the Lord.
Indeed, this deliverance, profound and perfect, is available to any man "who makes the Lord his trust, and does not respect the proud." Why then does David refer to this lack of respect to the proud, in the context of the Rock which the Lord is and supplies for one's feet ? It is because social, psychic, perhaps financial forces, to which is added the force of contrary custom and traditional mores of much defilement, all these things appeal or command or order or seek to apply penalties. Man is not so satisfied with himself, in voluntary isolation from God, that he finds enough in his alienation from the divine: he tends to make life hard for those who do what he knows beyond his superficial thoughts, he should do, and believe what he should believe. Hence one has to have, in comparison with the worship and conformity to the Lord, to have no place for such people. It is indeed deeper than that: for there can be no competition when it comes to God, for He is infinite, the Shepherd and the Prince, and it is a fundamental failure when any consideration competitive with Him is allowed to make successful demands of one's life, of one's soul!
Do the proud tell you what not to believe, what to think, how to say it, what is to be done: have no respect for this when they dare to propagate anti-God lies and anti-Christ love, to seduce you. Blessed are those who do not, to put it in another way, receive the mark of the beast.
Indeed, when you come back to your Creator-Saviour, many are His wonderful works, and if you tried the arithmetical approach, you would find not way even of numbering them. They are invasive of any conceptual apparatus, for there is no limit to His knowledge and precious provisions, and they are pervasive for the very personality, contiguous to the exiguous and the soaring flights of the soul, alike.
Rapt in this spiritual realisation that God is not only majestic, magnificent and mighty, but personal in the individual needs of the soul, vast in His provisions and without inhibition in His deliverances, David is then moved to consider, as so very often, that descendant promised him in the flesh, in his family line, who is to be the Messiah who, as in Psalm 72, is the blessed Lord forever, the Redeemer and the wonder to rule this earth. He hears a voice from heaven, and it is the quintessential voice, the eternal voice, the voice like that of many waters as in Revelation, speaking to the point of the basis of all things vigorous in spirit, refined in reality, attuned to God and providing all that is necessary for his salvation. Here is the core, the basis the height and the depth on which it is all based, even the very deliverance of which David has just been speaking. Here is the Rock speaking (cf. Psalm 18, 62, Isaiah 44:8).
There is first a DENIAL. God has no need of sacrifice.
But how can this be ? Surely He had wrought amazing intricacy in sacrifices for sins of ignorance and intent, alike, and indicated the ways and means for these, even indicating the one place of sacrifice to come! (???). However, it is evidently a very deep matter, one not available to mere superficial thought. It is hidden in the heart of God.
Yet it is not hidden as if to tantalise, but because it is a matter not to slip into the conversation incidentally. It is a matter for understanding, so that "My ears You have opened." Psalm 40:6. Yes, the matter is not some poetry: it is quite specific - "Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require," 40:6. Require ? In some way then the case is met otherwise. There is some elevation of perspective, depth of counsel in which a higher meaning is to be sought ?
No, in fact it is far lower, but its height is
memorable for all that. Suddenly, we find we are given audition to the
intra-personal counsel of God Himself. Here we see the love of God in action,
Father and Son, Sender and Sent, and the One sent exclaims in His
understanding - for all understanding is His (Colossians 1-2):
"Look, I come. In the scroll of the Book, it is written of Me," 40:7.
This then is not new, but a rehearsal of the intensive realisation, known for all time and past it for the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). Indeed, what is to come has already been committed to writing in the Book of the Lord, in prophetic intimation.
It is evidently very challenging, for in review, the Messiah declares: "I delight to do Your will, O My God, and Your law is within My heart." Here, in preparation for the joyful but not joyous humiliation of serving in situ, in flesh as Messiah, there is that submission which comes not from mere power but from love so intense that He is willing even to become subordinate in role, though equality with God was for Him not something to be snatched at (Philippians 2), being already His, eternally in the form of God. Ravishing is the realisation of the divine will, EVEN IF it means horror and anguish, desolation and deprivation. It is good, written, and if sacrificial, yet sublime.
The word of God is as commanded to Him as the Messiah, in the lowly place of servant (John 12:48-50 shows this attitude and aptitude of a serene sovereign acting as sent Servant as in Isaiah 48:16, where you actually see the One, in that occasion, being sent from the Lord AS God, to be Redeemer. "From the time that it was, I was there, we find in Isaiah 48:16, and indeed, it is not a secret matter, and this has been true from the first. "And now the Lord and His Spirit have sent Me." The Speaker in this Chapter having been identified as the Lord, there is the Trinity.
That apparently refers to the protevangelion, the early Gospel index and indication of Genesis 3:15. In such a world as this God has of course NEVER left Himself without a witness. Sin came and so did the proclamation of remedy. God is not available for obfuscation, obscuration, but has made obtrusive the fact of His purity and man's sin from the first sin. Sin and God are opposites, and where to any sin seems apposite, then God makes clear the opposite. This world is not against God because of any weakness either of strength or articulation on His part; He has divided the one from the other from the very day of sin's entry, and does not suffer His truth for one day to be confused, misunderstood.
At once, in Isaiah 48:17ff., we find the Lord who leads them in the way that they should go, this Sent One, mourning the folly of their departure: "Oh that you had heeded My commandments, then your peace had been like a river." Here is the pitiful compassion and the grandeur of love that is found precisely like this in Christ, as seen in Luke 19:42. IF ONLY, even in this your day, you had KNOWN the things which belong to your PEACE! Christ exclaimed with the same tears are to be seen symbolically in Isaiah 48:17ff., in the divine lament there! It is One, this Messiah, the Lord of the Old Testament and of the New, as in Isaiah 45:22ff., and Philippians 2, where every knee is to bow to the One who alone is God, being both the Lord in the Old Testament, the God of creation and redemption, and the Lord in the New Testament, the payor for redemption, and hence Saviour.
His power is not aborted; it is rather His pity to which man is exhorted, as the second giant stage of the creation mystery, or sublime undertaking from the divine counsel, occurs. Creation in the image of God is immediately followed by sin and salvation's notification. He has a plan, a purpose, submitting to nothing, allowing everything needed for that plan; and His purpose is ultimately divisive of the human race. Those who want constantly to integrate it, fail in this. It is ONE IN ORIGIN, but all men, though brothers in this, that they come from one pair, are by no means brothers in this, that they have very different parents for their ongoing lives. Many are the lost generation, taken from the blessedness of being with God, by sin, and abiding there, by desire. Their parents are indeed, as was the case for many aborigines by report, theirs by choice. What they have lost in this case is not abuse, but peace; for with God there IS peace, and not in any culture, be it white, black or orange.
Man is in two, not twenty two races. There are those who have rejected or become ignorant of their origin, and do not return to it through the Messiah; and there are those who having found the Messiah, have returned.
How bountiful is His provision, how abundant is His pity, how practical is His action. The work of this salvation has thus been proclaimed in the great assembly. The Messiah Himself has not hidden it. Asked, Are you the Christ ? He replied before the high priestly party,
"I am, and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power,
and coming with the clouds of heaven!" (Mark 14:62).
Thus He identified Himself as the Messiah of Daniel 7, whose kingdom shall never end, as in Isaiah 9:6-7, and Psalm 72. Eternal in power and glory is the Saviour for mankind, but just as physically, His sublimity was defiled, His glory displaced, so spiritually, despite the sheer intensity of His glory, man continues for many, to be displaced from it in its place; and refuses like so many in Israel in its ancient day, to be there. Near He may be, but not to them. Available He may be, but it is not an option taken. Indeed, it is discountenanced, whether by sundry Kings of Israel, or by numerous generations, whose lonesome loss of divine counsel and companionship has been the other side, as a nation, of their sufferings. Though many have come, the nation has not done so, but it will, oh yes, it will (Zechariah 12:10-13:1, Hosea 1-3, Micah 7, Isaiah 65). Then it will no more splash with a glory defiled, but be enabled in a glory for Jew and for Gentile alike; for though it has come through the appointed race, who are now as predicted returned to their appointed place (cf. Luke 21:24, Ezekiel 36-39, and see SMR Appendix A), and will soon discover whose they are.
How prodigal is the divine bountifulness, that He abounds to the one and to the other, destroys neither Jew nor Gentile, but in the programs for history, in the tests of fire, in the interstices of sin and the overhead covering of salvation, He selects whom He will, having no payment to make to man. Yet He has chosen to make this selection in terms of principles statable; and He has not hidden this but declared it, both in the volume of the Book and to the great congregation, not once by numerous times over history. It is His GOOD PLEASURE that ALL should be reconciled to Himself. Though none can murkily creep in, with shoes still covered with 2 inches of mud, impeding motion and defiling the place, hypocrites having no room for them, there is entirely room for the most grievous of sinners who has the appetite for grace, who has indeed been foreknown before time and works and without regard to works (Romans 9, Ephesians 2), who repenting brings rejoicing in heaven.
What a physician, no fees, no exclusion zone, allowing His salvation to be only for aristocrats, for the spiritually mighty: no such thing is there. It is not the spiritually perfect, whether seen as getting there from the excellence of their own wills and insight, though sinners, nor the spiritually superior, chosen because they have more appeal to God, as if substance and not will, quality and not heart in its disposition were the point (as in John 3:19 with Colossians 1:19ff.). God seeks all, would love to have all, and will not receive any either for their character, or for their sinful will's option. Knowing them, He has known who are His, and restrained, He does not grab. In grace He offers, and in grace He takes. It is not the stricken will of sinful man who chooses God, not now that it is so (John 1:12), but it IS the will of man who is known apart from works and sin, which is relevant and HENCE, this is the condemantion. What is ? This: that light has come into this world, as it did to David in the account of Psalm 40.
What is the difference ? David rejoiced in that light, being chosen from the first.
Bountiful ? Suppose that someone says this: BUT I WANT HIM! Good, do you ? If you say yes, then count the cost. Do you REALLY want Him who refuses to allow you any competition for management and Lordship from ANY human party ? You see that quite clearly in Luke 14:26,33. Honour your father and your mother, and have brotherly love too: indeed this is all COMMANDED. But never let these things interfere with your fidelity to the God who IS love, and HAS commandments to be accepted by faith in trust as good!
Still want Him, do you ? Excellent. I well recall when teaching in a Church School, three young boys, perhaps 11 or 12 who came to my study, announcing that they wanted to become Christians. There was a lot of sin and evil there. I asked them to count the cost. They returned the next night to say this: We STILL want to become Christians. And they did, praise God, they did! The way of salvation was presented and they took it.
The what hinders ? God would like you to come, you would like to come, foreknowledge is of the TRUTH, and nothing is able to stop it now. So come. You are guaranteed access on that sole basis of the Saviour and His word which is His! (John 6:37). HE is not going to cast you out who came to take you in! You see the sheer intensity and wonder of His bountiful love and practical action in the parable of Matthew 22:1-14. If those who LOOKED and SEEMED as if they must be the ones to receive Him, being even ostensibly in His very own kingdom, WILL NOT DO SO, being merely superficial, then He does not mope. Instead of any merely negative response, He then sends for people to be found under hedges or in byways.
That it is true love and bounty. There are not SPIRITUAL aristocrats in heaven, any more than there are any devious manipulators, none taking stock from their worldly stock, and none finding place from their carnal cleverness. Why that is one of the very REASONS why it IS heaven! The other is this, that God is there, inimitable, reconciled by the blood of the Cross, received by all, loved by all who in His love, have love for one another, where the clouds of sin are excluded from the meteorology such as it might be. They are not there; but He is, and eternal life is and the glory is.
To these things then, in the whole context of the Bible, we are led in the Psalm. It is a very grand introduction, of great wit and wisdom, deep and challenging, and in meeting this challenge, one gains great treasure. It is as in Psalm 1, His word must be dwelt on day and night, for in it is great wisdom, at times simple, deep, challenging, rewarding, always rich.
II THE ACCOUNTABLE - essentialised: Psalm 41
framed by falsity
The mind of man is not inept; it has vast logical potential as well as enormous liberties to violate the same and make sin seem rational.
It happens in human conduct, as in the heart of that betrayer, that Judas, for life, and in the expulsive mind, in a moment, as with Peter, when all ideals were suddenly evaporated, only to be returned as a distillate, a little later, rain from above in the Lord's look and his repentance.
It is not always so short. Modern man, in his many societies is increasingly turning the momentary impetuosity of a Peter into the ingrained deceit of a Judas.
It is always so simple, so clear. Man is an exquisite, hi-tech product. We know this without any difficulty or modish grandeur, by two simple facts. The nature of his 'wiring' or neurological encompassment, his DNA engineering and his architecture of dimensions is so acute that even to follow its eminently clear logic and sophisticated felicities can disturb the brains of the mighty and humble the spirit of the great. You see this in the recent research at Cornell University, for example*1 , where the sheer enormousness and enormity combined of the input is so staggering, just for any one human brain in its organisational technology and imaginative attestation, that it all but defies belief. Symbolical commands in miniaturised equipment gain deeds done by assimilated tiers of technological advancement, giving symbol its significance, performance its cue and translation its meaning.
That is the definitional aspect. What produces this is hi-tech; that is the way of it, the denotation for that connotation, the character of the case, as when you hear a soulful, poignant and technically brilliant soprano intoning with a felicity and grace all but unimaginable, the precise wonders of the text before her. This is what produces that. In vain could you search for what has NO personality to produce those personal tones, overtones and touches. In vain, would you seek for such an informed approach, since information is never to be found producing itself without intelligence: whether this be the containment and control of programmatic masterpieces, which merely accentuates the brilliance, that it could be put in this multi-generational form, or in the observation of it clattering itself out in a given, unintelligent-invested situation.
The omission of mind in the process, as man puts his mind to the spectacle of what he is and has been made to be, is like asking one to believe that the consistent formulations of a vast encyclopedia are merely the particular positionings of bits. What has a bit of formulable pre-fashioned material (matter) to do with the conceptions that mould it like bricks, into something that works on commanding creative principles, to which matter is susceptible! Is an opera singer's song to be regarded as bits, because it is POSSIBLE to inscribe it in a transmission format ? Is it imagined that this is the REAL aspect, and the song meaningless or that the artistry is a nothing, an epiphenomenon that happened to come out like bits of rind when an orange is squeezed, essentially of no meaning amid the sought juice! Nor is even that of no meaning, but it IS not juice.
It doesn't happen. Why this has to be so we have earlier considered (Jesus Christ, Defaced, Unfazed ... Ch. 4 with *1 below). It cannot happen since mind and its mentality, its apt proto-generalisations for a system, configurations to arrive at it and modulations to enable it, is what constitutes it in terms of result (cf. Causes). Theory and practice combine, these two, like a waltzing couple, deeply entwined on the dance floor, staring hard into each other's eyes, in their own inimitable way. It is a tableau, a spectacle, sui generis. The extrusion of logic into the natural world, in the first place and then its infusion followed by the conclusion of reason, the world its habitat, the mind of man its active proponent, its source in the Creator is the requirement of reason, this is the causal requirement, as distinct from the casual effronteries which imagine by naming this and that, you have what is unique to reason, demanded by causality and has its own modes of working to which material things are immune... Even these, however, carry the universal badge of susceptibility to reason, being at whatever level, from the mind where thought dominates, Spirit activates and results indicate.
Creation has happened, with this multi-phase combination of wonders of mind, matter and spirit, from the source adequate to create such things, some of them themselves creative. High-tech works are beneficial for much; and so is the opposite, not clumsiness, not a parade of unfinished creation, no, not at all: rather an ingenious series of most apt curses.
If however there is hi-tech creation and hi-tech devastation, there is also high-minded desecration, which is the RSPV for devastation. All this in its own way and time, acts, is found, and is manifest, the form, the function and the fabrication.
Thus, there is a hi-tech devastation (mice, flies, centipedes, boa constrictors, lions, all in their appointed places to be properly curse-ful, to invent a term to match the horror of it). This overlays the magnificence of the creation, like a mist, or a smouldering cloud. But it is there and hi-tech indeed are the provisions of the curse (cf. SMR Bk. 1, Supplement 2A, The Lord of Longsuffering ... Ch. 1, Dizzy Dashes ... Ch. 3), as with flies on the body, mosquitoes insidiously sipping the blood and shadows aiding disorientation of minds separated from the source of their diction and the basis of their liberty. There is an act of production for creation and one of enablement for its spoliation. The consequences of these acts are observable.
But why ? It is just a result, like the creation itself, of a personal Being who having made, is massively unimpressed with the treatment accorded to His production by His production, by that agent man.
It is all so simple. It is nothing remarkable, for we are quite accustomed to such things where we, for our part, do not have the power, but may have at times the intent. It confirms that we are made in the image of God that it is so simple to see the point. He did not put such hi-tech magnificence of construction with such personal intimacy as has been mixed with it in our souls, and such imaginative superlatives as have been created with the production for this very milieu of our spirits, which can contest, controvert or subvert; or for that matter, may be converted.
But to what ? God who made has a service department for those in His image: you could put it like that. When He sends His servant, who for dealing with creations in His image is His own Word, their very source, it is not just a matter of program or a series of propositions (though these could be and have been written about His actions in what the genius department of the computing industry calls the documentation). He is personal and takes things personally; as is natural and coherent. Sin is excruciating to such a Being as He, such a craftsman, such an imaginative and glorious conceiver, creator. He does not ignore it. He is not interested in dealing programmatically with it, since man is personal and at this level you need personality to act.
So He sends His word into a man's very form and He acts (Philippians 2) with an exhibit of such mercy, goodness, nobility, sacrificial splendour, profound planning, careful prediction, functional formulations that there has never been anyone in depth and attainment, in power and pity, in restoration and healing, in holiness and knowledge, like Him. He is singular, sent from His Speaker, though the thing is not time bound, and both Speaker and Word, being without beginning, not coming from an inept nothing, or magic well, act as is seen fit and together in their infinite intimacy, basis for all love.
This Lord of glory becomes thus the suffering servant. So He acts in our form, in suffering in all our sufferings, first in the domain of the curse, secondly by remitting sins, thirdly by reversing what in nature are irreversible diseases. This He CAN do because He is illimitable in power, while man is illimitable only in pride. In His Word, then God's actions are more than expressive, though not less. Thus IN His suffering He displays as a pulped product, the nature of man's hostility to rule, even by God; and He shames man. In His death He displays sin's end and gives man a horror spectacle, and in His predicted resurrection, complete with Danielic forecast of the date (Christ the Citadel ...Ch. 2), He shows the power of God to be mixed with His pity.
Certainly this redemption, it is selective; but it is available. However, just as He made man without provisions for specially better persons at the start, the both in the one mould, so in His image, He did not program man, so that all in this sense were equal before Him. Thus He died that He might be Lord both of the living and of the dead; but on His terms.
His terms are not like that of Islam, where submission is the result, whatever else; with God, you must be willing. Nor does He manipulate, mere subversion of the truth. In His own way in the illimitable wisdom of the Creator, He finds His own people amid the freedom of the creation, foreseeing them. It is analogically, as an architect foresees his work, and in his mind, could even walk around the house to be erected, before it is even built.
Offering to all, He secures these who are His, by paying out the 'cash' of redemption, that is the estate of forgiven life through removal of guilt and death's due, having taken this on Himself. Thus you have two nations only on this earth. There are those redeemed who walk by faith through grace, their entire trust in Him who ransomed them and rising from the dead, who is their Shepherd, even Jesus Christ (Acts 4:11-12); and very simply, those who are not.
This, however, is not an aristocratic subversion of that magnificently free first creation of all in His image, through the prototype of this kind, Adam with Eve. It is a universal offer from the heart, with a particular foraging (Colossians 1:19ff., John 3:17-18), so that ONLY IF He has foreknown their souls as preferring darkness, is any exempted from salvation. He does not manipulate, nor push, though as suitor, He can indeed be ardent in pity, and deep in appeal.
It is an imperial pity provided for those whose hearts are in His hand, not by fraud or artifice, not by cleverness or enlightened self-interest, but by surrender to His summons and realisation of His gift, receiving it with thanks and being remade in the procedure.
The world goes on; the brew goes off, becoming bitter like a decaying liquid. The time comes for an end of the beginning, this world in time. It goes, after the clean-up of judgment.
The mind of the Personal Being who created is there; as is that of the created being in His image. The failure is there, in the works of the latter. The success and the triumph is there in the singular performance of the Creator, who now adds salvation to His indomitable and felicitous work. The world in its wonder is there, and its inhabitants and their environment are there, like a magnificent garden, filled with wonder and ingenuity and attesting an aesthetic beyond the mighty, It develops as the dust from its works and the clouds from its confusion envelops it. The nations ignore the Lord and find not way of ignoring what He is doing about this. It does not go, and currently this world is very simply experiencing a special feature. What is that ? just as a child might learn by experience that in terms of integers (for us integrity), two into one will not go, so man without God will not go.
As in mathematics, as to your efforts to show that they will go, that you insist: these can be discarded in the rubbish bin. It is not so. God with God or go astray without Him. The liberty is simple and clear: it is neither endless nor without beginning, and though fouled by folly, which blinds man to what is available, God can see through the mist of corruption, and has seen, from the first, before the beginning began.
God can see and man can do. What then has man done in this sphere ? Alas, man's efforts to live to the contrary first create havoc on this earth (as now), in ascending and virtually cyclotronic force, of which the atomic bomb is a symbol, destructive in kind, dynamic in development and devastating in force..This done, they proceed until he can then receive judgment when not the experiment, for God knows, but testing and attesting procedure is over.
Man, is he ACCOUNTABLE ? entirely so. Thus here in Psalm 41:9, as more forcibly in Psalm 69 and 109, you see the precise point: His own familiar friend has lifted up his heel. The crushing of the heel, in godly terms, has been prepared for the head of the serpent, or more literally, the power of the devil, and it is to be administered by the Messiah (as in Isaiah 7, 9, 11, 22, 35, 40, 49-55, 66 for example), in salvation. What then of crushing the Saviour, sent in vulnerable flesh to secure the redemption of all who receive Him ? sent indeed, in the context of being willing and pleased that ALL should be reconciled to Himself ? What of this ? Why this is the antipodes of Satan under the foot of the Messiah. This is the foot of sin seeking to crush the Messiah, and not without help, man has done this.
Act first, man proceeds to sin and secure death amid many maladies. Act the second, man proceeds to slay the Physician sent to deliver and redeem. Act the third, in dismissing all of this from very thought, in the interests of a captivated and indeed captured liberty, man seceds from God with a treble anarchy. He misuses his gifts and peers; he misuses his Saviour, and disciples; and then he abuses the very name, or loses the very place of grace.
Thus does man proceed to crush what relieves man from being crushed. It is not wise. It is the depth of folly and the command for curse, which has been satisfied with great reluctance.
Man, in these dimensions, whether as agent or gulled, with the gall to participate in what the prince of this world esteems highly, when what is highly esteemed among men is abominable to God, has something for which to answer. He is, in short, accountable. Accordingly, he will be served with His account (II Corinthians 5:9-10), unless it has by then been covered in Christ, the remitting remedy (cf. Revelation 7:14). What then of accounts ? When you may pay, it is not so bad; but when your best is still imperfect and you try to con God into receiving you into heaven, it is a contradiction in terms. Heaven plus sin is not heaven. End of story. You come without it, or not at all. If you want to keep it (as they did in the John 8:23ff. case), then it is yours and life is not. What would you!
Paying an account when the one concerned is already in debt and without credit, this is not a pleasant prospect; but it is ENTIRELY a SIW, or self-inflicted wound as it could be called in WW I, when to escape the fight, some might try to categorise THEMSELVES as wounded, by assaulting their own bodies. Pity is irrelevant to those who have squandered pity and been pitiless both to themselves and to others who have had to bear with them. If you WILL not take the pill, then you are left with the thing that will kill.
It is all so incredibly simple. A child can understand it, one in my own family having done so in the vicinity of three years of age.
Man is accountable; God is bountiful; trying to take over the payroll to pay your account when rejecting His provision is merely one more robbery. It cannot be done. There is no banditry in heaven. The accounts are pure, paid or unpaid, and the payor is One, and as for Him, He is the Lord Himself, of great singularity (cf. The Lie has a Limited Shelf-Life... Ch. 5).
III THE SURMOUNTABLE - realised: 7 Steps
1) Psalm 42 - present in hope
We pass from Psalm 41 with its betrayal, its rupture of friendship, it solemn sedition, with relief, to the straightforward cleanness and simplicity of Psalm 42.
Here you see the Psalmist panting for God, like the Psalm in 119, who declares this:
"My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times," 119:20. People stand up crying, Where is your God! There is a sense of disengagement, even of being disowned. He used to go with the flush of worshippers, keen with others, in devotion. Not now. He is burlesqued, given alien treatment. Yet in God is his trust, who will shine on him with encouragement. Deep indeed has been his trial, for "Deep calls to deep at the sound of your waterspouts; all Your waves and billows have gone over me."
He is like a tossed vessel in the grip of storms.
Yet hope based on faith has assurance: "The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime," when the night of affliction has passed. He has not forgotten.
Meanwhile (as in the case of the unjust judge, contrast for encouragement of faith, in Luke 16), he will seek God asking, Why have You forgotten me ? Enemies reproach unmolested, pre-empting the place of God in condemning him, but despite their cry, his trust is that his cry to God will be heard. He asks another question, one of his own soul: WHY are YOU cast down ? HOPE in God, for praise will yet come from a full heart for Him.
Thus here the scene broadens to those who suffer for the Lord's own sake, and the place of hope in the midst of an alien world, and even alienated people who use the name of God, and to the FACT of faith in Him, who is the site for undaunted hope and assured trust.
In this Psalm, therefore, we have some slight suggestion of Psalm 22, not however in any redemptive sense, but rather in that of sharing in this world, with the suffering of all who love God in it. The Lord and His people have this in common: they are not popular in this world, however much their works should commend them.
2) Psalm 43 - present in faith
This next Psalm in the sequence, continues with growing concern at "the unjust man" who lavishes evil on him, on the deceitful who are unreliable and tricky, while "my tears have been my food, day and night."
His heart now KNOCKS at the divine door:
"O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me!" He is seeking truth, light, guidance, reality and true alignment to it, which is to be found only in God, from Him who is " the God of my strength." When this deliverance comes, then he will return to His altar with exceeding joy. Why then mourn ? faith asks; and why this disquiet ? Know this, that "I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance, and my God." In Him the very glow and spirit, the quietness and confidence, the strength in reposeful action is all to be found. He is assured it will not be missing, when this trial is over.
3) Psalm 44 - present in entreaty
The past is evocative, for in it a people admittedly sinful, yet gained their promised land. Assured of the power needed for continuance for and before God amid the nations, he is given to reflect that even so, it was not the strength of the people which prevailed, but the assured power of God for them.
The dire contemporary scene, however seems provocative. Enemies have ransacked them. Their very name is a reproach amid the nations, and indeed, they are "a scorn and a derision."
The Psalmist is unaware of grounds for divine dismissal, the enemy chiding and chirruping (cf. Isaiah 36). Shame becomes a public menace, but they have not dealt falsely in terms of the covenant. Nevertheless, though this is the perception, suppose then that they have, without being awake to it ? In that case, would not God search them out ? and it is He who knows the depths of all their hearts. Yet they suffer, all day long, like sheep for the slaughter.
He exhorts the Lord to awake to their cause, and groans as He asks why He is hiding His face. Only redemption can help, and for this He implores God.
This inspired reflection reminds us in its language of Psalm 66:18: "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Then too, there is Hosea 7, where though they cried to the Lord, they did not do it with their hearts, this being superficial!
Clearly there is need in this case to examine themselves; and yet the very strenuous imploring suggests that this is just what is to occur, and that what they are suffering is in no small measure, the same trials as did the Apostle Paul when he cited this passage at 44:22, which come to test the faithful, purge their hearts, demonstrate the meaning of fidelity to a watching world, and perhaps give to them in the meantime, a keel overhaul, during which the ships are not really on the water, but awaiting the relaunch for renewed service.
So we have proceeded in sequence, from hope to faith to entreaty and now come to consummation. Here is the Messiah seen in His perfected role, when it is to be. Here is the fulfilment of Psalm 40, and yes, beyond this, for here is the second phase of the Messianic mission, namely the glory to follow as in Luke 24:25. OUGHT not Christ to have suffered before the glory to follow ? Christ asked. What now of the glory in the incidence of His power on this earth under His direct rule in the millenium (Psalm 72, Isaiah 11, Revelation 20, Isaiah 65, Micah 4 and 7)!
4) Psalm 45 - present in sight
Here the predictive Psalmist has an overflowing heart, for in vision he is seeing what is to come, in the final rule of the Messiah on this earth. It is "a good theme." Just as Christ was defaced beyond the form of man, hacked and harassed into almost total oblivion of individuality by the violent at the time of His approaching death (Isaiah 52:13-15), so now in His glory, He is "fairer than the sons of men: grace is poured upon Your lips," says the Psalmist who, seeing Him in vision for that time, is quite free to address Him in this way, personally. Such is the graphic intensity in the prophets who are sent by God (as distinct from the false ones - cf. Jeremiah 23), that they can both refer to the future as if already past, a done thing, and speak in this way, as if themselves present. Such is faith, and such is vision from the Lord.
The sword of the Lord is to be girded upon Him, by this symbol suggesting that His power be actively deployed on the earth in the most direct manner, and of course, that sword is primarily His word (Ephesians 6), but it includes action on that basis.
Seeing His truth, humility and righteousness, the Psalmist adapts from Zechariah 9:9, where in His time of humiliation He rode on an ass's colt as fulfilled in the narrative of Matthew 21 on Palm Sunday as we now know it. Ride PROSPEROUSLY because of such qualities as those cited, which endure even when His power is now not only indicated, but vindicated (cf. II Thessalonians 1). Keeping to martial imagery, it continues that the arrows of this Messiah are sharp in the hearts of the King's enemies. This reminds us of II Corinthians 10:5, where Paul is casting down theories and ideas contrary to Christ and bringing all thoughts rightly and reasonably into subjection to Him and His truth. It is this truth which is irresistible by reason, for it IS reasonable, and God Himself reasons with us (Isaiah 1 cf. Let's Be Reasonable, for God is Reasonable).
Now all resistance, exposed and forsaken, bows (cf. Isaiah 45 and Philippians 2 on this).
This Messiah may indeed be addressed as God, as was the case with Thomas (John 20:28). There the verses to follow show that not only was this correct, but would become the very basic premise of all faith to come: Thomas saw that, seeing, but those not seeing yet so expressing the truth would indeed be blessed! Here is not the lie but the truth, and nothing more fundamental to the faith is it possible to find. God is, loves, acted, came in the form of a man, bore for man the sins that block, for each who comes, as many as come, all foreknown, and His heart and offer is as broad as the race. It is none less than He, nor is it a secretary or even secretariat, as in the new aristocracy of China, which seems to be close to hereditary, playing God without being elected, while rampaging amid the people if they have active faith in Jesus the Christ!
That will cease in Christ's day. HIS sceptre will not be one of renegade rule but righteousness, and in this rule, He is anointed from His Father with "the oil of gladness", so unlike the case with so many rulers today who if not involved in illicit or promiscuous sexual deals, have strange financial deals often involving embezzlement, even Korea the latest in past rulers so charged.
Among those converted to Him will be high and low, in social estate, and the company will include kings' daughters.
The Psalmist, watching this vision, is then inspired to charge all, and the term 'daughter' here is not only a follow-on from the example just cited above, but one used for a city, such as Jerusalem where the current generation is often referred to as "the daughter of Jerusalem" (cf. SMR Appendix B). Other cities may "come with a gift" signifying acceptance, and no category of society will be uninvolved.
Meanwhile, "the royal daughter is all glorious within." This means that the children of God are within His counsel, protection, care, for these as in I John 3, have this outstanding wonder, that now they are adopted children of God, not as such merely ready to be persecuted, but as distinctive His own where He rules. This mortal, as Paul is moved to put it, is replaced with the immortal life, and the flesh with a spiritual body, distinct from a natural one, one fit for eternity. The sufferings of the former time are now SEEN to have wrought a more exceeding weight of glory as the apostle foretells (II Corinthians 4:16 - 5:8). A word to those who are His adopted children now follows.
FORGET your current culture and identification criteria in terms of this world's honours and portents. YOU ARE HIS, and that is the designation which matters. In terms of Jesus Christ only, have your objective, famed and publicly well-known identification: not however some other Christ, for there is no other King, and imposters who claim to be His when following another bogus operator using His name, can expect only rejection as in Matthew 21:15.
Instead (v.16) of what you amounted to in terms
of family and culture, history and power, there will be a question rather of
Him from whom you NOW come, so that you as children replace the concept of
the great who were your fathers in the flesh. Let NOTHING prevail to
countervail against you in your whole-hearted elevation of Christ only, and
do not let anything, whether false church or false society or fear or
ambition, pride or self-honour lead you astray in this. It is HE who gives
honour to His children, and it is HIS name which will be remembered, not
only for this or that generation of prominence in history, but FOR EVER. Add
something ? Yes: "for ever and ever."
5) Psalm 46 - Seen in the Sovereign in Action
This past, this vision, this oncoming King of glory who was the suffering servant of ignominy and crucifixion and resurrection, we are free to consider the principles and power for life given to us who are His, in the grace of life.
It is indeed GOD, not a secretary, secretariat, parliament or people, who is our refuge and strength. We are not spiritually dealing with bureaucrats (nor of course can HIS Church be run by them, since He is the head and they do not even know Him! far less have intimate attachment as the 'body' does with the 'head'. GOD is our refuge and strength. The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world, as I John puts it, and the Lord in Isaiah 48 announces His being sent by God! It is not someone less: this one, He was there as in Isaiah, before the day was (as also in Proverbs 8 and Colossians 1).
THEREFORE have done with fear. Let the earth take to its heels, if you will, and be cast into the midst of the sea: let it. We have one who will endure, with HIS SALVATION, though the very earth wear out and be gone (as explicit in Isaiah 51:6). Even if the mountains get all jumbled up and are moved into the sea, destroying the appointed order of this world in grave disruptions: no fear is needed. GOD is our refuge and strength, source of our way and He is with us. But suppose as a RESULT of such things, the waters roar, and the vast terrestrial displacement lead to awesome grandeurs of terrifying potency ? No, even then, in the cause or the result, do not fear. Indeed, it is more than this: BECAUSE GOD is our refuge and strength, THEREFORE we WILL not fear, despite all such awe-inspiring possibilities among the divine projects, which He will implement in His own time.
There is, on the other hand, to speak in terrestrial imagery, a river with streams that rejoice and relieve the heart, even to the point of bringing joy to the eternal city (whether seen as Jerusalem above as in Galatians or Jerusalem millenial as in Micah 4). That as in Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 22 is of course the Spirit of God, often seen in terms of water. Your joy, said Christ, no man takes from you! (John 16:22).
It is God who is in the midst (cf. Luke 17:21). Like water in you, so the Holy Spirit is in you who believe in the Lord's Christ (Luke 2:26, Romans 8:9), and He through His Spirit is there (cf. Matthew 18:20).
The city of God will not be moved. Trouble ? but in this world, of course, even tribulation, and that is a promise (John 16:33). But God will help, and that right early!
In the last resort, and in the last phase indeed, as in Micah 7, Isaiah 59,66, II Thessalonians 1, Revelation 19-20, God speaks and acts and then things happen with that same amplitude of scope and means that occurred during the creation. In the desolation it is total (as in II Peter 3, Isaiah 51:6), and even before that, there are events that stalk the earth as the wolf its prey. To the pure God is pure, but to the devious He is alert! So let the nations rage, when He utters His voice that will all be past and even passe. It was ludicrous, this crowing of little crows before the eagle! It was suffered; it spoke; but now God Himself speaks. If you want to take it to the conclusion, then try your skills in intemperance, riot and rebellion when the earth melts. Wake up! if only just a little.
Such is the power of this message in Psalm 46, abiding in the presence of God and in His power, as considered more intimately in Psalm 45.
Thus God is near
a) at any time
b) at the end time.
ALWAYS act in the faith which belongs to His grand faithfulness and power, never by sight. He has you in His sights. Look to Him.
6) Psalm 49 - Secure in Redemption
There is no need to fear man. What, in himself and by himself, indeed is he ? Let the evil pursue me like a dog at my heels, what is their status, standing and ultimate power, for in God we are dealing in ultimates; for the test is temporal, but the consequence is eternal.
Rich let the godless be, but they cannot even redeem a brother! What sort of riches is that ? It is ineffectual, making mockery of their pretended power. How utterly impotent is wealth that cannot even rescue the nearest and dearest! Can one give to God a ransom for another, and bring about escape from the judgments of heaven, if these are forthcoming ? Can you buy eternal life for ANYONE, whoever you are! Women give birth to children, but can a man give birth to deliverance from judgment and to eternal life at all ? In this, he remains childless in himself, without issue, and his pretended power is trivial.
They all die, wise and fools. What is the use of that inner thought of those who live and die godless amid plenty, spiritually starving where vast stores were available and pubicly shown to be so! Do they fondly imagine dynasties for themselves, houses lasting forever, their lands stretching as if given an eternal status ? Do they call lands after their names as in investment in a hollow future!
Their children and grandchildren look well to their ancestor's fame and name; but they too are laid, if still without God, in the grave. It is not at all picturesque, so face it: their beauty is consumed in their burial, and death will feed on them.
Not only is all this so, but in the morning, when the light of eternity shines in this world, and then in that to come, where are they ? When the millenium comes the upright will have dominion over them; in the end, they are caught in everlasting destruction.
My soul, says the Psalmist, the Lord will redeem. HE is able to pay, unlike all of them of this world. Do they have earthly glory ? when they depart, so does it! They are temporal creatures, like clay marred, fit to be cast away. He may convey wealth, but not glory. They all shall never see the light, without understanding, without standing as well.
THEY cannot pay; God can. I cannot pay; God can. I am born to die; but God can give redemption and with it eternal life. Here is something that lasts, unlike the graves that bear witness to what, the consumption of the body of the unblessed and the forfeiture of life. Their graves but mark the earth for failure, tombs of untruth and monuments to disaster.
7) Psalm 50 - Available by Covenant
God has given a covenant and its imagery and symbolism is in Mount Zion; and so God, the perfection of beauty shines out of it and lends it some of His glory.
As to Him, He is not in indefinite recess, but will come and fires indicative of judgment wil be tempestuous about Him; for He WILL JUDGE the people
Therefore, be realistic, gather the people of God together, those who have made a covenant with Him by sacrifice! That is fulfilled as in Isaiah 53:10, where Christ sees HIS children, though cut off out of the land of the living, when YOU, each one, make of His soul, an offering for sin! (cf. Ch. 3 above and Bible Translations 3, *n20). The heavens will declare HIS righteousness, for He is judge. You will not fail to be heard, if in faith as His child, you seek Him in this way.
It is not in the masses of sacrifices that your health and strength, yes your salvation lies, whether of animals or of this or that. It is the FAITH with which you receive and call upon Him that matters; and faith admittedly, without works is dead, like any fruit-bearing type of tree which remains useless. The Lord is not reliant on your sacrifices as such, and if He were, though the concept is an enormity, but still, to make the point, if He were hungry He would not even tell you!
So do not rest in forms, but CALL in faith on Him in your day of trouble. Acts in faith, cry in faith, expect in faith, in terms of His covenant of which all His people are members, even that in His own blood (Acts 20:28).
However, just as this is the exhortation to those who are the Lord's, so to the wicked He has another exhortation. What have YOU to do with MY covenant! He exclaims. Your ways have not been My ways, and you have thieved, committed adultery, slander, had uninhibited self-will. You thought I was in partnership with you ? You could not be more mistaken. Take heed lest you be torn to pieces, who instead of making peace, who act in grandeur of soul and as if the world were under your morality, if it be called that.
Realise, all, that the Lord is God and His truth is the path of peace and wisdom; and to praise Him is the path of righteousness, for He indeed is good, and when you keep His words, as in John 14:21-23, He will manifest Himself to you.
On the contrary, the mind is turned by these words to those who do not even know the Lord, as in Matthew 7:21-23, when He declares to them in their hideously false and presumptuous expectation, Depart from Me: I never knew you. Not so is it for the redeemed: for if you buy an expensive picture for some millions of dollars, that is one thing; your account is denuded. Yet if you are bought for a life, in a life for life transaction, the One who gives remembers, since it swallowed up in this case, of His life in the ardours of anguish, as we saw in Psalm 2, and the rupture of death itself as the required follow-on, this took the power of the Creator who MADE life, to perform. It is His faithfulness who, having paid, and received acceptance in the mode of faith, will NEVER leave or forsake the purchased possession, in this case, Christian believer, you and me.
It is in His likeness that we shall awake, and be most satisfied with that!
IV THE SURMOUNTED -
Psalm 72 - The glory to follow - Luke 24:26
Here, by contrast, and in consummation, is the Lord seen as in Isaiah 4, 11, 65-66, Micah 4,7, Revelation 20, in the millenium, in that period of divine vindication, of Christ's other side, the one not wounded!
The Son of God is seen now as judge, a thing noted as to come in Acts 17:31, Psalm 2, 96, 67; and He will come out of His place, to judge the earth (Micah 1:3, Isaiah 26:21), which in turn will be moved from its place! (Hebrews 12:27, Isaiah 51:6), both in being shaken and in being dispensed with, when its time is past, as that of a garment, of a building with its work now done. It is necessary to think in space and time, as of things temporary and temporal, as we know them, a setting like an arbour in a divine garden, where great things and small are done. In the end, the garden is made differently, and in a different place, for the site is sold and a new heavens and earth are to be made as in Revelation 21:1.
Now with Christ in direct charge in what had become a drunken earth, both in spiritual licence and in tottering and shaking astronomically, the poor will have justice, and righteousness will be in every eminent thing, yes and in smaller 'hills' likewise. His people will flourish, for this is their day when they shine as the sun in its glory, darkness excluded. Eternity is already in sight, and the reverential trust in the Lord is now launched on the macro-scale, even if some hypocrites remain till this earth is gone altogether.
All generations will now experience His love, mercy and justice (73:5), and His blessedness will anoint even the grass, to give it grace and a pleasing beauty. His enemies, still spiritually such, will lick the dust (a contribution from the AV of the Bible to the English language). His kingdom is not limited to Israel as a centre (Micah 4), but spans this earth. Kings will come to Him as Lord of Lords. Deliverance for the afflicted, help to the poor, salvation to the seeking, redemption to lives that appear forfeited in the strong thrust of things: these will parts of HIS program!
As in Psalm 22, His death had to come that this life might be received freely as an inheritance (cf. Hebrews 9:12fff.), and this done once and for all, and His suffering having been wrought once and for all, in payment of ransom to enable justice to smile while pity is plumbed and mercy is sated. But HE SHALL LIVE! This reassurance comes, as indeed it is seen in Psalm 16 and in the end of Psalm 22:21ff.. It is even as Revelation 1:18, for He was indeed dead in body, but is now alive forever.
Psalm 17 - Personally coming to that glory
In this Psalm, David is seeking deliverance from God only (Psalm 17:1,5,6).
It is therefore vital that his heart be right, since the sleeping cry, God does not hear, but the seeking cry (cf. Hosea 7:14-16). They did not cry with their hearts, says Hosea. " You have tried me and found nothing," he announces (17:3). He has had the spiritual version of the cardiac test, moreover: indeed David has set himself a purpose not to let his mouth go astray. Further, the works of men, through the word of God he has been inspired to avoid these, those of the destroyer, rampantly seizing things for his own will. He seeks for the future, then, that God uphold his steps, lest they slip. He wants an unslipping spiritual ratchet.
Moreover David has called upon God, and asks Him to "show Your lovingkindness by Your right hand," that is, to make it come and stay put through the office of initiative and power alike.
This is sought from that God who, he declares, saves those who trust in You, from those who rise up against them.
More personally, David seeks that God cover David to keep him as the apple of His eye, to shelter him under His wings (as God is so watchful to implement, cf. Matthew 23:37), from the proud. These speak proudly, and have encamped about him, right by his own personal life. Like a young lion, crouching they wait to leap! David their target...
It is God whom he asks to confront this enemy, reminding us to resist the devil, so that he flees from us (I Peter 4:7). David seeks to be delivered by the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God, which implies according to His promises to faith), and he wants divine confrontation with the forces of evil.
His enemies as a type, they want to found their dynasties, and being satisfied with food, they have their portion, their will in this life.
As to David, as a person, we learn Psalm 17:15, "I will see Your face in righteousness," and when he awakes (cf. Isaiah 26:19) at the resurrection (I Corinthians 15:57ff., II Corinthians 5:1ff.),he knows he will be satisfied. It will be a deep content at seeing this likeness, this form, this reality, and he WILL be satisfied
See The Lord of Longsuffering ... Ch. 7 *2, for example, with Ch. 1 of the same volume, Waiting for Wonder Appendix,
The Lie has a Limited Shelf Life ... Ch. 1,
Evidence and Reality Ch. 2,
Alpha and Omega ... Ch. 2; and on this topic and its background see also:
Deliverance from Disorientation Ch. 8,