Habakkuk 3:1-19 (NKJV)1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth.2 O LORD, I have heard your speech and was afraid; O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.3 God came from Teman, The Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah
His glory covered the heavens, And the earth was full of His praise.4 His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, And there His power was hidden.5 Before Him went pestilence, And fever followed at His feet.6 He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, The perpetual hills bowed. His ways are everlasting.7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; The curtains of the land of Midian trembled.8 O LORD, were You displeased with the rivers, Was Your anger against the rivers, Was Your wrath against the sea, That You rode on Your horses, Your chariots of salvation?9 Your bow was made quite ready; Oaths were sworn over Your arrows. Selah
You divided the earth with rivers.10 The mountains saw You and trembled; The overflowing of the water passed by. The deep uttered its voice, And lifted its hands on high.11 The sun and moon stood still in their habitation; At the light of Your arrows they went, At the shining of Your glittering spear.12 You marched through the land in indignation; You trampled the nations in anger.13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For salvation with Your Anointed. You struck the head from the house of the wicked, By laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah
14 You thrust through with his own arrows The head of his villages. They came out like a whirlwind to scatter me; Their rejoicing was like feasting on the poor in secret.15 You walked through the sea with Your horses, Through the heap of great waters.
16 When I heard, my body trembled; My lips quivered at the voice; Rottenness entered my bones; And I trembled in myself, That I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, He will invade them with his troops.17 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls--18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.19 The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.
Hope A Vision Of Divine Judgement
The third and final chapter of the book of Habakkuk, while a prayer is also called a psalm. It has the characteristics of a psalm. Instructions are given in the heading as to the way it is to be sung (,The meaning of the word is so uncertain that the safest course is to transliterate it. The Latin Vulgate renders it pro ignorantiis, "for sins done in ignorance." There is no suggestion in the prophecy that either the sins of Judah or those of the Chaldeans could be thought of as being committed in ignorance. Probably the word indicates the type of music or the tempo in which the psalm may be sung when used in worship. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary), and the subscription tells what instruments are to accompany the singing. Also, Selah, which marks periodical pauses, or perhaps changes of tempo, appears three times.
This prayer/psalm ends the prophetic book Habakkuk. The first two chapters, of which, is a dialogue between Hanukkah and God, in which the prophet not only complains of evil, but even challenges Him as to how He, can tolerate such evil. He is surprised to learn that the Chaldeans are God's choice to punish Judah
Habakkuk’s prophecy starts with with Habakkuk crying out to God for an answer to why His chosen people are allowed to suffer in their captivity.
Habakkuk 1:2-4 (NLT)2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save.3 Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight.4 The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted.
The Lord gives His answer to Habakkuk, essentially stating, “You wouldn’t believe it if I told you”
Habakkuk 1:5-11 (NLT)5 The LORD replied, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.6 I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands.7 They are notorious for their cruelty and do whatever they like.8 Their horses are swifter than cheetahs and fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their charioteers charge from far away. Like eagles, they swoop down to devour their prey.9 “On they come, all bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind, sweeping captives ahead of them like sand.10 They scoff at kings and princes and scorn all their fortresses. They simply pile ramps of earth against their walls and capture them!11 They sweep past like the wind and are gone. But they are deeply guilty, for their own strength is their god.”
Habakkuk then follows up by saying, “Ok, you are God, but still tell me more about why this is happening”
Habakkuk 1:17-2:1 (NLT)17 Will you let them get away with this forever? Will they succeed forever in their heartless conquests? 1 I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the LORD says and how he will answer my complaint.
God answers him again with more information ending by belling the earth to be silent before Him.
Habakkuk 2:2, 20 (NLT)2 Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.20 But the LORD is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.”
*See Get To Know The Prophets Of The Bible - Habakkuk
The book of Habakkuk and this psalm/prayer ends with his prayer.
Habakkuk 3:19 (NLT2)19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. (For the choir director: This prayer is to be accompanied by stringed instruments.)
When you read the entire book and consider what this prophet knew he and Judah, was already facing, his sheer hope is stunning.
Habakkuk 3:17 (NLT) Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,
Even though it’s going to get worse before it gets better,
Habakkuk 2:4 (NLT) “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.
God’s word will be true.
The application of Habakkuk’s to us today is that it’s okay to question what God is doing. It’s not always evident what’s going on especially when we have suffered for long periods of time, and those who show no love for God appear to prosper. Habakkuk wrestled with questions, embraced reality, trusted anyways, and found his hope in God.
Habakkuk affirms that God is sovereign, omnipotent and in control. We need to stay focused on Him:
Habakkuk 3:19 (NLT)19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
Psalm 43:1-5 NIV Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
A Personal Cry
The writer of this psalm begins by asking that God to:
● Vindicate him -We who are saved have been justified, or vindicated by or through faith Romans 5:1-2 NIV. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
● Plead his cause - Jesus is our advocate 1 John 2:1-2 NIV My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
● Rescue him - Jesus redeems or rescues us from the curse of sin. Romans 6:23 NIV For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
He then asks why he’s been rejected. He may be depressed wondering why he’s being harassed by his enemies. He is not afraid to let God know how he’s feeling. He needed God’s presence and once He was able to get to the temple and the altar he was able to praise Him.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going, we’re told. But often tough times stop us in our tracks, raising doubts and questions. How good it is to know that we can bring our questions to God and trust in his unfailing love.
Even when we pray we wonder if God has forgotten us, does He hear us, does He care? All the time our enemies are taunting us. Pointing and saying if God loves so much why are you sick, broke, alone, sad, and discouraged? Even in the face of those taunts we can say that our hope and trust is in God.
Our longing for God’s presence is overwhelming until we remember who God is. And He loves us. We remember that He said that He would never leave us.
1 John 4:9-10 (NLT)9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)6 So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
While we search for God’s presence we remember the times when when we felt His presence in our lives without the trials and tribulations of this word. We then remember Jesus’ promise
John 16:33 (NLT)33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Like the psalmist we conclude that even in times of trouble we are not alone and we can say with him; “I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!”
Psalm 106:1-48 (NLT2)1 Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.2 Who can list the glorious miracles of the LORD? Who can ever praise him enough?3 There is joy for those who deal justly with others and always do what is right.4 Remember me, LORD, when you show favor to your people; come near and rescue me.5 Let me share in the prosperity of your chosen ones. Let me rejoice in the joy of your people; let me praise you with those who are your heritage.6 Like our ancestors, we have sinned. We have done wrong! We have acted wickedly!7 Our ancestors in Egypt were not impressed by the LORD’s miraculous deeds. They soon forgot his many acts of kindness to them. Instead, they rebelled against him at the Red Sea.8 Even so, he saved them— to defend the honor of his name and to demonstrate his mighty power.9 He commanded the Red Sea to dry up. He led Israel across the sea as if it were a desert.10 So he rescued them from their enemies and redeemed them from their foes.11 Then the water returned and covered their enemies; not one of them survived.12 Then his people believed his promises. Then they sang his praise.13 Yet how quickly they forgot what he had done! They wouldn’t wait for his counsel!14 In the wilderness their desires ran wild, testing God’s patience in that dry wasteland.15 So he gave them what they asked for, but he sent a plague along with it.16 The people in the camp were jealous of Moses and envious of Aaron, the LORD’s holy priest.17 Because of this, the earth opened up; it swallowed Dathan and buried Abiram and the other rebels.18 Fire fell upon their followers; a flame consumed the wicked.19 The people made a calf at Mount Sinai; they bowed before an image made of gold.20 They traded their glorious God for a statue of a grass-eating bull.21 They forgot God, their savior, who had done such great things in Egypt--22 such wonderful things in the land of Ham, such awesome deeds at the Red Sea.23 So he declared he would destroy them. But Moses, his chosen one, stepped between the LORD and the people. He begged him to turn from his anger and not destroy them.24 The people refused to enter the pleasant land, for they wouldn’t believe his promise to care for them.25 Instead, they grumbled in their tents and refused to obey the LORD.26 Therefore, he solemnly swore that he would kill them in the wilderness,27 that he would scatter their descendants among the nations, exiling them to distant lands.28 Then our ancestors joined in the worship of Baal at Peor; they even ate sacrifices offered to the dead!29 They angered the LORD with all these things, so a plague broke out among them.30 But Phinehas had the courage to intervene, and the plague was stopped.31 So he has been regarded as a righteous man ever since that time.32 At Meribah, too, they angered the LORD, causing Moses serious trouble.33 They made Moses angry, and he spoke foolishly.34 Israel failed to destroy the nations in the land, as the LORD had commanded them.35 Instead, they mingled among the pagans and adopted their evil customs.36 They worshiped their idols, which led to their downfall.37 They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons.38 They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters. By sacrificing them to the idols of Canaan, they polluted the land with murder.39 They defiled themselves by their evil deeds, and their love of idols was adultery in the LORD’s sight.40 That is why the LORD’s anger burned against his people, and he abhorred his own special possession.41 He handed them over to pagan nations, and they were ruled by those who hated them.42 Their enemies crushed them and brought them under their cruel power.43 Again and again he rescued them, but they chose to rebel against him, and they were finally destroyed by their sin.44 Even so, he pitied them in their distress and listened to their cries.45 He remembered his covenant with them and relented because of his unfailing love.46 He even caused their captors to treat them with kindness.47 Save us, O LORD our God! Gather us back from among the nations, so we can thank your holy name and rejoice and praise you.48 Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting! Let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!
God's Unfaithful People
The author of this Psalm is unknown but it is a song of national confession and grief and sorrow.. It points out God’s longsuffering mercy in dealing with His people.
The psalm has four major sections.
1.Praise and Confession (verses 1- 6) The author issues a call to praise, followed by an expression of extreme blessing, a personal prayer, and a confession of national sin. He includes the current generation along with the past ones, in that confession and blessing.
2. Murmuring and Disobedience (verses 7 - 33) In this section the author recounts the times that the nation muttered and disobeyed during the wilderness wanderings after being freed of Egyptian slavery .
3. Backsliding and Unfaithfulness (verses 34 - 36) Even after entering Canaan, the nation continued in its unfaithfulness. First of all they did not destroy the nations of the land as God commanded. This lead to them being influenced by the pagan people left in the land. In mingling with the inhabitants, they learned new sin. They not only served idols but they now joined in the abomination of human sacrifice. God although compassionate and merciful was completely justified in His punishment. God's compassion notwithstanding, punishment.
4. Prayer and Praise (verses 37 - 48) The Psalm ends with prayer and praise. The prayer is a request for mercy and restoration. Even with all the rebellion God is still merciful and blesses His people. Yes there are consequences and there is punishment for sin but God is longsuffering in His mercy. When we realize our sin and confess it God hears us, forgives us and blesses us.
1 John 1:9 (NLT2)9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
The author’s praise is based on his confidence that God has heard his confession, on behalf of the nation, and that He will forgive and then bless.
Psalm 41:1-42:11 (NLT2)1 Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The LORD rescues them when they are in trouble.2 The LORD protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies.3 The LORD nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.4 “O LORD,” I prayed, “have mercy on me. Heal me, for I have sinned against you.”5 But my enemies say nothing but evil about me. “How soon will he die and be forgotten?” they ask.6 They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere.7 All who hate me whisper about me, imagining the worst.8 “He has some fatal disease,” they say. “He will never get out of that bed!”9 Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me.10 LORD, have mercy on me. Make me well again, so I can pay them back!
11 I know you are pleased with me, for you have not let my enemies triumph over me.
12 You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever.13 Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen!
In this Psalm, David expresses his thanksgiving after going through desperate situation which he believes was caused by his sin. His thanksgiving corresponds to Jesus comments “Blessed are the merciful” from His Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 5:7 (NLT2) God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
He had been delivered, preserved, blessed, and strengthened by God. God has delivered him and he has recovered from the desperate situation.
His enemies were reveling in his circumstances. Even his best friend had turned against him. This brings to mind Judas’ betrayal of his Friend Jesus.
John 13:18 (NLT2) “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’
Acts 1:16 (NLT2)16 “Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David.
He prayed that God would give him the strength to punish those who took advantage of him, which is certainly different from Jesus’ response to Judas. Jesus washed Judas’ feet as the did the other disciples, and He allowed Judas to confirm His identity with a kiss.
John 13:1-5 (NLT2)1 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.
4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist,5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
Luke 22:47-48 (NLT2)47 But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of his twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss.48 But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”
Wounds from a friend cut deep. David and Jesus have both felt this pain. At the Last Supper Jesus quoted David’s words of Psalm 41:9 “The one who eats my food has turned against me.’” As the Son of God, Jesus intimately knows all people — including their sin and shame — yet he loves them anyway. Jesus’ followers are commanded to love like this. Love is a choice, and in times of hurt and betrayal, it will not be easy. Yet through this act of love for others, Jesus says that the watching world will recognize his followers.
John 13:35 (NLT2)5 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
People know that even their closest friends might abandon them if they knew the truth about their sin. But not Jesus. Jesus loves with a perfect, unconditional love. He never gives up on his people. And through this great love, his followers are redeemed.
Ephesians 1:7 (NLT2) He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
Psalm 109:1-31 (NLT2)1 O God, whom I praise, don’t stand silent and aloof2 while the wicked slander me and tell lies about me.3 They surround me with hateful words and fight against me for no reason.4 I love them, but they try to destroy me with accusations even as I am praying for them!5 They repay evil for good, and hatred for my love.6 They say, “Get an evil person to turn against him. Send an accuser to bring him to trial.7 When his case comes up for judgment, let him be pronounced guilty. Count his prayers as sins.8 Let his years be few; let someone else take his position.9 May his children become fatherless, and his wife a widow.10 May his children wander as beggars and be driven from their ruined homes.11 May creditors seize his entire estate, and strangers take all he has earned.12 Let no one be kind to him; let no one pity his fatherless children.13 May all his offspring die. May his family name be blotted out in a single generation.14 May the LORD never forget the sins of his fathers; may his mother’s sins never be erased from the record.15 May the LORD always remember these sins, and may his name disappear from human memory.16 For he refused all kindness to others; he persecuted the poor and needy, and he hounded the brokenhearted to death.17 He loved to curse others; now you curse him. He never blessed others; now don’t you bless him.18 Cursing is as natural to him as his clothing, or the water he drinks, or the rich food he eats.19 Now may his curses return and cling to him like clothing; may they be tied around him like a belt.”20 May those curses become the LORD’s punishment for my accusers who speak evil of me.21 But deal well with me, O Sovereign LORD, for the sake of your own reputation! Rescue me because you are so faithful and good.22 For I am poor and needy, and my heart is full of pain.23 I am fading like a shadow at dusk; I am brushed off like a locust.24 My knees are weak from fasting, and I am skin and bones.25 I am a joke to people everywhere; when they see me, they shake their heads in scorn.26 Help me, O LORD my God! Save me because of your unfailing love.27 Let them see that this is your doing, that you yourself have done it, LORD.28 Then let them curse me if they like, but you will bless me! When they attack me, they will be disgraced! But I, your servant, will go right on rejoicing!29 May my accusers be clothed with disgrace; may their humiliation cover them like a cloak.30 But I will give repeated thanks to the LORD, praising him to everyone.31 For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them.
A Plea For Vengeance
In this Psalm David, the author, is clearly an expression of grief and sorrow for something that is going on in his life. He considers his antagonists are also enemies of God.
He begins with a terse statement which includes an appeal for help and the complaint against his enemies. He says his enemies, people to whom he has shown goodness and love, have lied and slandered him, and God has been silent through all of this.
He then asks for retribution. The picture that David paints is a court of law in which a wicked person (the accuses) is to be judged. He details the sentence the accused deserves.
David ends with a prayer for deliverance. He prays that God will have mercy on him, and vindicate him, so that his enemies realize that God's hand has delivered him. He ends confident that even in this trouble he will have opportunity to praise God for answered prayer.
But I Thought God Was All About Love
We Christians have trouble reconciling this and other Psalms in which the author prays that God destroy their enemies along with their families, often in very graphic ways, with a God who we describe as love who calls us to love even our enemies.
1 John 4:8 (NKJV)8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
The message of the Gospel is that the vengeance for which the psalmist, and we often pray is not on us. Jesus came to the earth to take upon Himself our sins and our punishment. God placed upon His Son the punishment which David petitioned God to bring upon his enemies. No one who places his trust in the solution to sin—the Savior, Jesus Christ—need suffer the consequences of sin. It is only those who resist and reject God’s solution who suffer His temporal and eternal wrath. The psalmist who prayed for God’s justice for his enemies also petitioned God for His mercy and loving kindness. God offers mercy and forgiveness to all, but He also promises justice and judgment to all who reject His Son. I encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, the sin-bearer who died in your place and suffered even more than Psalm 109 describes. From Psalm 109: A Prayer for the Punishment of the Wicked
Romans 12:19-21 (NKJV) 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Psalm 39:1-13 (NLT2)1 I said to myself, “I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. I will hold my tongue when the ungodly are around me.”2 But as I stood there in silence— not even speaking of good things— the turmoil within me grew worse.3 The more I thought about it, the hotter I got, igniting a fire of words:4 “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” Interlude
6 We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.7 And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.8 Rescue me from my rebellion. Do not let fools mock me.9 I am silent before you; I won’t say a word, for my punishment is from you.10 But please stop striking me! I am exhausted by the blows from your hand.11 When you discipline us for our sins, you consume like a moth what is precious to us. Each of us is but a breath. Interlude
12 Hear my prayer, O LORD! Listen to my cries for help! Don’t ignore my tears. For I am your guest— a traveler passing through, as my ancestors were before me.13 Leave me alone so I can smile again before I am gone and exist no more.
An Appeal For Strength
As mentioned in verse 10, David much like Job, David believes that God is punishing him and that he will soon die because of it.
Job 7:20 NIV If I have sinned, what have I done to you, you who see everything we do? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?
He’s tempted to complain but he doesn't because the ungodly are around but he's not happy about it.
He the prays that God will remind him of how frail he is and that all he is able to accomplish is really nothing when everything is considered. This is much like thoughts of Solomon in Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
Ecclesiastes 5:11 NIV As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?
Ecclesiastes 6:2 NIV God gives some people wealth, possessions and honor, so that they lack nothing their hearts desire, but God does not grant them the ability to enjoy them, and strangers enjoy them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
He gives vent to his feelings and thoughts concerning the vanity of human aims. He hopes to be led back to a quiet confidence in God which will dispel these vain thoughts.
He then confesses and asks that God will end His punishment so that he can enjoy the balance of his days. David finishes with a prayer: let me live a little longer.
Psalm 110:1-7 (NKJV)1 The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."2 The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!3 Your people shall be volunteers In the day of Your power; In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth.4 The LORD has sworn And will not relent, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."5 The Lord is at Your right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.6 He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill the places with dead bodies, He shall execute the heads of many countries.7 He shall drink of the brook by the wayside; Therefore He shall lift up the head.
The Promise Of Victory And Dominion
This psalm of David has obvious Messianic overtones. In a conversation with some Pharases Jesus Himself quotes what is verse one of the psalm.
Matthew 22:41-46 (NKJV)41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,42 saying, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?" They said to Him, "The Son of David."43 He said to them, "How then does David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord,' saying:44 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool" '?45 "If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his Son?"46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.
In writing this psalm David is speaks prophetically and uses the term “the Lord said”. That is a term frequently used by the prophets.
The king is commanded to occupy the position of highest honor and share the divine rule until his enemies are completely destroyed.
Joshua 10:24 (NKJV) So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, "Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings." And they drew near and put their feet on their necks.
1 Kings 5:3 (NKJV) You know how my father David could not build a house for the name of the LORD his God because of the wars which were fought against him on every side, until the LORD put his foes under the soles of his feet.
The prophetic utterance is addressed to “my Lord”, a title of respect used for a king or superior. This king is to be honored and protected by divine blessing. His rule is to be universal. His subjects are to be willing volunteers. This is a certainty because the prophecy includes the appointment of the king as a priest. The Messianic ruler serves a priestly as well as a royal office as did ned to Melchizedek, the priest-king of Salem.
Genesis 14:18 (NKJV)18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.
Jesus’ ministry was was compared to that of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 7:14-17, 20-22 (NKJV)14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life.17 For He testifies: "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."20 And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath21 (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: "The LORD has sworn And will not relent, 'You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek' "),22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.
The psalm ends (verses 5-7) on the battlefield where the Lord (the king in this psalm and the Messiah in the prophecy) completely destroys his enemies. The vivid language and imagery clearly show the absolute finality of the victory.
Psalm 38:1-22 (NLT2)1 O LORD, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage!2 Your arrows have struck deep, and your blows are crushing me.3 Because of your anger, my whole body is sick; my health is broken because of my sins.4 My guilt overwhelms me— it is a burden too heavy to bear.5 My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins.6 I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief.7 A raging fever burns within me, and my health is broken.8 I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart.9 You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh.10 My heart beats wildly, my strength fails, and I am going blind.11 My loved ones and friends stay away, fearing my disease. Even my own family stands at a distance.12 Meanwhile, my enemies lay traps to kill me. Those who wish me harm make plans to ruin me. All day long they plan their treachery.13 But I am deaf to all their threats. I am silent before them as one who cannot speak.14 I choose to hear nothing, and I make no reply.15 For I am waiting for you, O LORD. You must answer for me, O Lord my God.16 I prayed, “Don’t let my enemies gloat over me or rejoice at my downfall.”17 I am on the verge of collapse, facing constant pain.18 But I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done.19 I have many aggressive enemies; they hate me without reason.20 They repay me evil for good and oppose me for pursuing good.21 Do not abandon me, O LORD. Do not stand at a distance, my God.22 Come quickly to help me, O Lord my savior.
The Passionate Expression Of A Suffering Man
David writes that he has a serious skin disease and attributes it to him being guilty of sin. He asks God, in His mercy to lighten his suffering. Because of his condition his family and friends are keeping their distance and his enemies are taking advantage of his weakened condition.
Davids condition and circumstances are much like those of Job whose friends either desert of fail to sympathize properly with him.
Job 2:7-9 (NLT2)7 So Satan left the LORD’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot.8 Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes.9 His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.”
Job 2:12-13 (NLT2)12 When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief.13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.
Job 6:14-16 (NLT2)14 “One should be kind to a fainting friend, but you accuse me without any fear of the Almighty.15 My brothers, you have proved as unreliable as a seasonal brook that overflows its banks in the spring16 when it is swollen with ice and melting snow.
Forsaken and dejected, he looks to God as his last and only hope.
Psalm 38:22 (NLT2) Come quickly to help me, O Lord my savior.
Psalm 111:1-10 NIV Praise the Lord . I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. Great are the works of the Lord ; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness. He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever— holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
Praise For The Lord’s Works
Psalm 111 is a hymn of praise. It opens with the writers announcement that he intends to praise the Lord.
The author starts by describing God’s works in general and then addresses His eternal righteousness and His compassion which are revealed in His mighty acts. These mighty acts of God cause us to seek even more evidence of His righteousness and compassion.
The author reminds us that God keeps His covenants with man. The evidence was His provision of food (manna and quail) in the wilderness, and the conquest of Canaan which fulfilled His covenant promise to Abraham.
He ends with the realization that the wisdom of our praise comes from the reverence and awe of God that penetrates our entire being.
It is the A B C of true wisdom. He who has learned to fear God has learned the first part of wisdom. According to some, the word “beginning” here means the chief, the head, the front, just as, often, in Scripture, “beginning” signifies that. “The fear of the Lord” is the chief part of “wisdom,” the essence of it.
Practical goodness is the proof of a good understanding. A man may have an orthodox head, and yet not have a good understanding. A man may be able to talk very glibly about the commandments of God, and even to preach about them with considerable power; but it is the doing of them that is the main point. - Charles Spurgeon
That praise should never end. We should never stop praising Him. Just as the angels surrounding God’s throne see His greatness and the greatness of His works.
Revelation 4:8 NIV Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “ ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”
Psalm 37:1-40 (NLT)1 Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong.2 For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither.3 Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.5 Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.6 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.7 Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.8 Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.9 For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.10 Soon the wicked will disappear. Though you look for them, they will be gone.11 The lowly will possess the land and will live in peace and prosperity.12 The wicked plot against the godly; they snarl at them in defiance.13 But the Lord just laughs, for he sees their day of judgment coming.14 The wicked draw their swords and string their bows to kill the poor and the oppressed, to slaughter those who do right.15 But their swords will stab their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.16 It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich.17 For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the LORD takes care of the godly.18 Day by day the LORD takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.19 They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.20 But the wicked will die. The LORD’s enemies are like flowers in a field— they will disappear like smoke.21 The wicked borrow and never repay, but the godly are generous givers.22 Those the LORD blesses will possess the land, but those he curses will die.23 The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.24 Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.25 Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.26 The godly always give generous loans to others, and their children are a blessing.27 Turn from evil and do good, and you will live in the land forever.28 For the LORD loves justice, and he will never abandon the godly. He will keep them safe forever, but the children of the wicked will die.29 The godly will possess the land and will live there forever.30 The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong.31 They have made God’s law their own, so they will never slip from his path.32 The wicked wait in ambush for the godly, looking for an excuse to kill them.33 But the LORD will not let the wicked succeed or let the godly be condemned when they are put on trial.34 Put your hope in the LORD. Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you by giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed.35 I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil.36 But when I looked again, they were gone! Though I searched for them, I could not find them!37 Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.38 But the rebellious will be destroyed; they have no future.39 The LORD rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble.40 The LORD helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they find shelter in him.
In The Face Of Evil And Dark Times Choose Courage
We live in a world filled with evil, greed, fear, pride, stress and anxiety. Psalm 37 the FTE Psalm of the week urges the righteous to have patience and confidence in God by contrasting the end of the righteous and the unrighteous. The major problem for David the psalmist is the inconsistency connected with the prosperity of the wicked. Although tempted to doubt God's goodness, he settles down and urges patience and trust.
He concludes the psalm by saying the the righteous will be able to see the downfall of the unrighteous. The end of the righteous is peace, the end of the unrighteous is destruction.
Last November, in response a series of tragic events, Max Lucado published This Brutal World on his website. I believe that it captures the essence of what David says in Psalm 37, and it is right on time for us today.
This Brutal World (Italics mine)
“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Matthew 10:28
Yet again, yet so soon, we struggle to make sense of bloodshed and violence. Last week bikers mowed down on New York City’s Westside. Sunday, worshippers slaughtered in a small-town South Texas church.
Life is a dangerous endeavor. We pass our days in the shadows of ominous realities. The power to annihilate humanity has, it seems, been placed in the hands of people who are happy to do so.
Contrary to what we’d hope, good people aren’t exempt from violence. Murderers don’t give the godly a pass. Terrorists don’t vet out victims according to spiritual resumes. The bloodthirsty and wicked don’t skip over the heavenbound. We aren’t insulated. But neither are we intimidated. Jesus has a word or two about this brutal world. “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28).
His disciples needed this affirmation. Jesus had just told them to expect scourging, trials, death, hatred, and persecution .
Matthew 10:17-23 (NKJV)17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.21 Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.22 And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Not the kind of locker room pep talk that rallies the team. To their credit none defected. Perhaps they didn’t because of the fresh memory of Jesus’ flexed muscles in the graveyard. Jesus had taken his disciples to the “the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, [where] two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs; they were so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by that road. And behold, they cried out, saying, ‘What do we have to do with You, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?’” (Matthew 8:28–29 NASB).
These two men were demon-possessed and, consequently, “exceedingly violent.” People walked wide detours around the cemetery to avoid them.
Not Jesus. He marched in like he owned the place. The demons and Jesus needed no introduction. They had battled it out somewhere else, and the demons had no interest in a rematch. They didn’t even put up a fight. “Have you come to punish us before our time?” (Matt.8: 29 cev). Backpedaling. Stuttering. Translation? “We know you will put it to us in the end, but do we get double trouble in the meantime?” They crumpled like stringless puppets. Pathetic, their appeal: “please send us into those pigs” (Matthew 8: 31 CEV).
Jesus did so. “Move,” he exorcised. No shout, scream, incantation, dance, incense, or demand, just one small word. We Christians trace the source of violence back to the devil. We place the fault of bloodshed at the feet of the one whose days are numbered; Satan. We find our hope in the sure victory of Jesus.
And though this world with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God has willed
his truth to triumph through us:
the prince of darkness grim,
we tremble not for him,
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure,
one little word shall fell him.
This is the balance on which Jesus writes the check of courage “Do not fear those who kill the body and cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28).
Courage emerges, not from increased police security, but from enhanced spiritual maturity. These days of violence call for people of faith. People of fear make poor decisions. They overreact, lash out and/or retreat. People of courage, on the other hand, keep a cool head. They are not blind to nor bewildered by the evil in the world.
Martin Luther King exemplified this courage. He chose not to fear those who meant him harm. On April 3, 1968, he spent hours in a plane waiting on the tarmac due to bomb threats. When he arrived in Memphis later that day, he was tired and hungry, but not afraid.
“We’ve got some difficult days ahead,” he told the crowd. “But it doesn’t matter to me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
He would be dead in less than twenty-four hours. But the people who meant him harm fell short in their goal. They took his breath, but they never took his soul.
Evildoers have less a chance of hurting you, if you aren’t already a victim. “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust the LORD means safety (Proverbs 29:25 NLT).
Real courage embraces the twin realities of current difficulty and ultimate triumph.
Avoid Pollyanna optimism. We gain nothing by glossing over the brutality of human existence. This is a toxic world. But nor do we join the Chicken Little Chorus of gloom and doom. “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” Somewhere between Pollyanna and Chicken Little, between blind denial and blatant panic, stands the level-headed, clear-thinking, still-believing person of faith. Wide-eyed, yet unafraid. Unterrified by the terrifying. The calmest kid on the block, not for lack of bullies, but for faith in our heavenly Father. The old people of God knew this peace: “Though a host encamps against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident” (Psalm 27:3 RSV).
Do not give in to your fears. Resist the temptation to retreat and hunker down. This is the time for faith; the season for God-based hope. “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about the evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes” (Psalm 37:7 NLT).
Courage is a choice. Let it be yours.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.