Wednesday, December 4, 2013

CCXIV – Psalm 104-118

We finished the last post with Psalm 103, one of my favorites.  I spoke much about it.  Although 104 opens with similar phrases as 103, I do not think it is an extension of 103, but I think David wrote them both.
Psalm 105 is rather lengthy as it gives an overview of Israel from Abraham to Joshua.  This Psalm is a call to praise God and keep in remembrance of what God has done for His people.  This psalm opens with a quote from Isaiah 12:4.  It goes on to give the History, going into detail with mentioning that Joseph became part of the Egyptian hierarchy, naming the plagues in Egypt, and even mentioning the pillar of fire.  Psalm 106 seems to be somewhat connected to 105.  105 gives a History of what God had done for the Israelites and then 106 speaks of Israel’s rebellion and disobedience toward God.

Psalm 107 begins the final section of Psalms according to the NIV.  You will find many of these last forty-four psalms to be lengthy.  Remember these were poems of thanksgiving and praise put to music, which does much to explain the lyrics.  107 is a psalm written after the Jews were allowed to return to the Promised Land from Babylon, after seventy years of captivity.  Early verses in this psalm describes the difficulty of their journey back to Jerusalem.  Unlike their journey through the wilderness from Egypt, the difficulty of this journey is not often mentioned in the Bible.

David wrote Psalm 108 and I like his opening phrase, “My heart, O God, is steadfast”.  David is proclaiming that his faith does not and will not waiver, in spite of all of the adversities that he must endure.

Please read Psalm 109 and concentrate on it for a moment.  This is a classic (and rare) psalm where David is not only asking God to help him against his enemies, but is actually asking God to make many bad things happen to his enemies.  Look at the list of David’s requests.  David asks God (verse 6) to appoint someone evil to oppose his enemy.  {I read this as him asking God to appoint a warring angel to his enemy.}  You will see such things as making his enemy’s children be “wandering beggars”.  In verse 11 he wants his enemy’s creditors to take everything he has; he wants thieves to plunder his vineyards; may no one extend kindness to his fatherless children.  I have listed but a few.  This psalm goes on and on about bad things David wants God to inflict on his enemies.  {This is quite a different and interesting read.  David must have been in a peculiar mood when he wrote this.  I can sympathize.  I’m not proud of the fact that I have been there.}

Now let’s have a look at Psalm 110.  This is a difficult psalm to understand at the first reading.  I see it as prophetic.  I want to be careful not to get too much text tied up with this, but there is much to be explained.  The opening verse says “The Lord says to my Lord:  Sit at My right hand”.  There is little doubt in my mind that this is the Father talking to the Son.  The Son is our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.  With that in mind, take a moment and read this short psalm (it’s only seven verses).  Verse 3 mentions His troops will be “arrayed in splendor”.  Verse 5 mentions “the day of His wrath”.  But let’s back up to verse 4.  You have heard me mention this man before.  This verse says the Jesus will be “a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”.  Allow me to take a break and try to explain what is so special about Melchizedek.  Why is he mentioned so many times in the Bible as the standard against which priests are measured?  The short answer is simple:  Because Melchizedek was a priest before the Jews became God’s chosen people.  He was the priest of everybody on earth (just like Jesus).  All of the priests between Melchizedek and Jesus were priests of only the Israelites and the bloodline of Abraham.  There are factions within the Christian faith that believe Melchizedek was actually Jesus before Jesus was made flesh.  I’m not too sure about that, but I cannot oppose that thought.  The evidence is compelling.  In Genesis 14:18-20 Abram met with Melchizedek, (being not A priest, but THE priest) of God Most High.  This was prior to the Jewish nation having been established.  In the New Testament Book of Hebrews, chapter 7 speaks at length of Melchizedek, saying in verse 3,  “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever”.  {We will speak further of this somewhat mysterious figure Melchizedek.  I am intrigued with him because there is no figure in the Bible besides Christ himself that is spoken of with such reverence and awe.  I think that when we get to heaven, we will discover just how magnificent this figure really is.}

Psalms 111 and 112 were written right after the groups of Jews returned to Jerusalem after being exiled for seventy years.  Both of these are considered “acrostic” psalms.

This brings us to Psalms 113-118, which are special psalms.  The Jews have referred to these six psalms as the “Egyptian Hallelujah”.  The word “hallelujah” means  “The Lord Is Very Great”.  There are three feasts celebrated by the Jews, the most important of which is the Feast of the Passover.  This celebrates the time in Egypt when the last plague was placed on Pharaoh and his entire nation.  The Angel of Death was sent to kill all the first born in the nation of Egypt.  As the Angel of Death passed through Egypt, the houses of the Jews were “passed over” by the angel because the Jews had obediently marked their houses as instructed by God through Moses.  So the Feast of the Passover has been celebrated every year since then, and is still to this day among the Jews.  Before the meal they would sing Psalms 113 and 114.  After the meal they would sing Psalms 115, 116, 117, and 118.  These six psalms would respectfully bring to remembrance the Passover and the exodus.

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