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Psalm 23

Vs. 1 states the premise of the whole Psalm: If the LORD is an individual’s “shepherd,”

Vs. 2-5 list the many responsibilities the LORD has undertaken for the “sheep;”

Vs. 6 teaches the permanent blessing that comes to a faithful sheep.

Psalm 23 is the most requested Bible passage to read at a funeral. It so speaks consolation that many a “battered soul” has found comfort in the troubling time of death. Once again, as a prophet, David writes of his “Lord” who was yet to come. Jesus Christ is this “shepherd,” as the Apostle Peter wrote: “For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls (1 Peter 2:25).

Vs. 1 “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

The sad fact and harsh reality, however, is that not everybody is a “sheep” protected by the LORD as “shepherd!” Jesus set the limit: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). Jesus set the price: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Since  “the church of God [is that] which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28), then everyone saved by the blood of Jesus Christ has been added to His church  (Romans 6:3-4; Acts 2:38, 41, 47)!  Those who are in the church of Christ must “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” and are promised food, drink, and clothing (Matthew 6:31-33).

Vs. 2 “He makes me to lie down in green pastures;”

A shepherd removes danger from the pasture. Jesus destroyed the work of the Devil (1 John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14-15).

Vs. 2 “He leads me beside the still waters.”

Jesus spoken word calmed stormy seas (Mark 4:37-39), and His written word does  the same (Colossians 3:15-17).

Vs. 3 “He restores my soul;”

Jesus healed bodies by miracles (Luke 4:40), and now heals souls who obey His Gospel (1 Peter 2:21-25; 3:20-22).

Vs. 3 “He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”

Moses’ Law did not contain “the promise by faith in Jesus Christ” which now saves (Galatians 3:21-29).

Vs. 4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;  For You are with me;”

Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2 in Matthew 4:12-17 as He preached His coming kingdom. Jesus Christ is the light for the darkness and despair of sin (2  Corinthians 1:9-10; Luke 1:76, 79; John 1:1-5, 8-9; 8:12). The ominous nearness of death is overcome by nearness to the resurrected Jesus Christ.

Vs. 4 “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Jesus has the rod of authority to rule (Matthew 28:18-20; Hebrews 1:8 from Psalm 45:6-7) and the staff of protection (John 10:26-30).

Vs. 5 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;”

Jesus established His supper for disciples to be eaten each week (Matthew 26:26- 29; 1 Corinthians 11:20, 23-26; Acts 20:7).

Vs. 5 “You anoint my head with oil;”

Honored guests were perfumed (Luke 7:46) and Jesus’ disciples at His table are dedicated with His blood (Hebrews 10:19-22).

Vs. 5 “My cup runs over.”

Jesus provides the “living water” (Revelation 7:13-17).

Vs. 6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;  And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.”

Only Jesus Christ can promise “goodness and mercy” in this life, and that one may  “dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” Jesus provides His disciples “goodness”  (Romans 15:14) and “mercy” (Matthew 5:7; 1 Timothy 1:12-16) then “eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30; John 10:27-28).

#book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-study, #daily-devotional, #shepherd

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Psalm 22

Vs. 1-21 describe the cross of Jesus Christ with details that must have been inspired by  God, for this was written several hundred years before Jesus lived on earth;

Vs. 22-31 describe the church of Christ, which was purchased by Jesus’ blood.

The very words Jesus uttered on His cross as He spoke for sinners quote Psalm 22:1 (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). God does not forsake those who seek Him (Psalm 9:10), so God didn’t actually forsake Jesus on the cross, but Jesus was vocalizing the agony of a sinful soul as He took the sinners’ place. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation… For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:19, 21).

Psalm 22:2-5 probably refer to Jesus, “who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:7-8). God let His only begotten Son go to the cross, in contrast to the “fathers” who were heard, and delivered when they cried out to God in Egypt (Exodus 3:7-10).

Psalm 22:6-7 show the lowly assessment those who crucified Jesus Christ had of Him. Isaiah predicted Jesus would be “despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), and Matthew mentions passers-by blasphemed Jesus (Matthew 27:39), Luke adds Jewish rulers’ sneers (Luke 23:35). Psalm 22:8 are almost verbatim the words disbelievers hurled toward Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27:43). Psalm 22:9-10 certainly show that Jesus Christ learned to trust God while on his mother’s breast, which should be an example for all godly mothers. Faith is home-built and cannot be “hired out” to grandparents, nannies, day-care, or baby-sitters!

Psalm 22:16 did not apply to David, but came to pass at Jesus’ cross. The Apostle Thomas specifically mentioned, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25), which the other Apostles had already done (John 20:20).

Psalm 22:18 did not apply to David, but is quoted as fulfilled in Jesus’ cross.  “Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: ‘They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots’” (Matthew 27:35; see also John 19:23-24). This is not the first time garments were divided, but the first time they became the stakes in gambling, also!

Psalm 22:22 is one of 2 verses in Psalms that describe the music of the church of Christ. This is quoted in Hebrews 2:12, and Psalm 18:49 is quoted in Romans 15:9. All references to “instruments of music like David” are left in the law of Moses which was nailed to Jesus’ cross (Colossians 2:14-16).

Psalm 22:23-31 do not describe the limited reign of David, but instead describe the world-wide extent of the church of Christ we read about in the New Testament. The church of Christ was purchased by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28), so since He gave Himself for the church (Ephesians 5:25-27), all who are saved by obeying the Gospel “were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). Disciples were to be the baptized “of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19-20).

#book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-study, #daily-devotional, #jesus-christ, #jesus-cross

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Psalm 21

Vs. 1-6 praise God for all David has already received;

Vs. 7-13 show David’s confidence in God’s defense.

It does no good to continually request favors of God unless, and until, one praises God for what has already been done! David’s joy and reason to rejoice are because God has already: vs.2) granted his heart’s desire and voiced request; v.3) met him with “blessings of goodness” including his gold crown; v.4) given him length of life; v.5) placed “honor and majesty” upon him; v.6) given David much for which to praise God. All of these would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ (2 Samuel 7:8-17; Acts 2:22-36), but David would not even be king without the blessings of God. Wicked Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, learned this the hard way (Daniel 4:28-37), and Jesus said as much to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate (John 19:10-12; Luke 3:1; Matthew 27:2).

In His pattern for prayer, Jesus taught disciples to “hallow” God’s name and His Will before any personal request. The Apostle Paul taught “the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse” (Colossians 1:2) to:  “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).

That God had “given him his heart’s desire” or “not withheld the request of his lips” does not picture God as some “Santa Claus” but rather pictures David as a knowledgeable believer. David knew what requests were within God’s Will to grant. Requests given to God must NOT be contrary to His Will. Even in the New Testament, those in covenant relationship with God must make submissive requests: “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22). “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14). Clearly, God’s Will must come before our requests, as Jesus showed: “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will’” (Matthew 26:39). All of our plans must be submitted to God’s Will (James 4:13-15).

Psalm 21:7-12 show that David’s enemies were God’s enemies and David left them in God’s Hands to be dealt with justly. In the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 32:35) and in the New (Romans 12:17-21), God still reserves “vengeance” for Himself against His enemies. God is to be praised for whenever He determines to act (Psalm 21:13;  2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

#book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-devotional, #daily-bible-study, #jesus-christ, #prayer

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psalm-20

Vs. 1-5 give “best wishes;”

Vs. 6-9 give the only resolutions.

Verses 1-4 seem to be a pattern for prayer, and verse 5 could indicate that it is designed to be prayed publicly. This would be like Jesus teaching His disciples to pray by giving a prayer outline (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4). Reciting these verses is not prayer, but letting these thoughts guide one’s own expression is prayer. Psalm 20:1-4 express the desire that God would accept the others praying in this same worship time, and respond by: answering, defending, sending help, strengthening, remembering their offerings, accepting their sacrifices, granting according to their heart, and fulfilling their purposes. God is not pictured as a “genii in a bottle,” but that worshipers must properly approach God, as He has directed (John 4:24; Psalm 88:2; 95:2; 100:2). Job understood that “a hypocrite could not come before Him” (Job 13:16). Even under Moses’ Law, God required more than the sacrifices of worship (which He had specified), but also a life of obedience consistent with His principles (Micah 6:6-8). The prayer’s final request of God is in Psalm 20:5. Jesus taught that requesting forgiveness without giving forgiveness is vain (Matthew 6:14-15).

God’s salvation is from Heaven, not in the devices or strengths of humans (Psalm 20:6). Military might is represented by horses and chariots (Psalm 20:7), and Israelite kings were forbidden to trust in such, but should have depended upon God and His Word (Deuteronomy 17:14-18). Judah left the LORD by trusting in an assortment of soothsayers, foreigners, silver and gold, horses, chariots, and idols (Isaiah 2:1, 6-9). One may choose to associate with those who bow before human might and power, or stand upright by the mightier power of the name of the LORD. The former is defeated before the battle, the latter is victorious without a fight! David knew this truth when he conquered Goliath with “the battle is the LORD’S, and He will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:45-50).

It does no good to pray for God’s help when we will not trust Him for the answer! “For according to the number of your cities were your gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem you have set up altars to that shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal. So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble. What has My beloved to do in My house, Having done lewd deeds with many? And the holy flesh has passed from you. When you do evil, then you rejoice” (Jeremiah 11:13-15). Many ignore what God says about proper worship, but want God to hear their prayers of need. Listen carefully: “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination” (Proverbs 28:9).

#book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-study, #daily-devotional, #prayer

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psalm-19

Vs. 1-6 show the awesome power of God’s Creative Word;

Vs. 7-10 point to the awesome qualities of God’s Word;

Vs. 11-14 praise the awesome effect of God’s Word in a human heart.

A “Christian Evidence Textbook” simply makes observations that prove God’s existence  by pointing to unanswerable facts. The Bible is, therefore, a “Christian Evidence Textbook.” Verses 1-6 demonstrate this, pointing to “outer space” with its vastness, set stars, and searching sun. Certainly, no interior explosion (“big bang”) but the superior Power (“God”) could have perfectly placed it all. God spoke it into existence (Psalm 33:9; Hebrews 11:3; Genesis 1:16). It has taken America’s Voyager 35 years to reach what is believed to be the outer edge of our “Solar System.”

  “Launched on Sept. 5, 1977, Voyager 1 is the most distant human-made object, at about
11billion miles (18 billion kilometers) away from our sun. Launched Aug. 20, 1977, Voyager 2 is the
longest operating spacecraft, past or present. It is 9 billion miles (15 billion kilometers) away from
our sun” 10/4/12, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.                                                                  

Science is proving what the Bible has been telling us all the time: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The message is that everyone is without excuse who denies God’s existence.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and
unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known
of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world
His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even
His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20).

Psalm 19:4 is quoted in Romans 10:18 where it points to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people, both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 10:12-21). The Gospel should be preached wherever the evidence for God exists!

“The heavens” speak of God, without words, by their vastness, the “stars” by their precise place, “the sun” by its function of providing heat, none of which is to be worshiped of itself, but all of which point to their Creator. Most navigation still depends upon the fixed position of some stars, and the sun’s heat is essential to life on earth. Some ridicule, but continue to use, the description of the sun’s “rising,” but rather than pointing to movement of the sun, it describes the rotation of the earth! The sun’s “circuit,” however, has been shown to be its own “orbit” through space! These remarks were made thousands of years before “technology” could prove them! Inspired words precede “scientific fact!”

Verses 7-10 give qualities of God’s Word: 1) perfect “law” converts; 2) “testimony” educates; 3) “statutes” stabilize; 4) “commandment” clarifies; 5) “fear” motivates; 6) “judgments” secure a receptive soul. Properly understood, God’s Word is more valuable than gold and sweeter than honey! No one can do better in life than to incorporate Bible teaching into one’s heart.

Verses 11-14 show the understanding God’s Word gives: 1) ample warning of dangers in life; 2) knowledge of sin; 3) humility of heart; 4) purity in praising the awesome God!

Truly, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1).

#book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-study, #daily-devotional, #existence-of-god, #fool

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Psalm 18

Vs. 1-3 express David’s complete confidence (faith) in God as Protector;

Vs. 4-19 describe God as He delivered David from King Saul;

Vs. 20-28 give the reasons why God delivered David;

Vs. 21-45 describe how David “felt” to be “empowered” in that deliverance;

Vs. 46-50 show David’s acknowledgement that God is the real power!

This Psalm is exactly recorded in its historical setting in 2 Samuel 22:1-51.

In picturing God and His deliverance, anthropomorphisms and theophanies abound! An anthropomorphism (compound word, “anthropos”=”human” + “morphos”=”form, shape”) is: “an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics.” Theophanies (compound word, “theos”=”deity” + “phaneros”=appearance) are also mixed into this language. According to Jesus Christ, “God is Spirit” (John 4:24) and “a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39), therefore there is no physical form for God to be described, except for Jesus Christ as “God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16), and there is absolutely NO physical depiction given of Jesus Christ in Scripture! In Psalm 18, God actually isn’t a: “rock,” “fortress,” “shield,” except as physical terms to help us understand what He means to one in distress. God doesn’t actually have: “ears,” “nostrils,” “mouth,” “feet,” except to help us visualize how He responds to us. God didn’t actually move about on: “a cherub,” or “wings of the wind,” except to help us visualize how easily and quickly God does what He desires. By inspiring men to write the Scriptures, God has used their words and meanings to describe Himself to us in terms we may understand and appreciate, so that we may “know God” (1 Thessalonians 1:5-8; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 4:8-9; 1 John 4:6-7).

Psalm 18:20-28 explain that David strives to be righteous (obedient to God’s Will), and God helps and sometimes delivers the righteous from dangerous enemies. David’s profession that his hands were “clean” obviously didn’t mean that he had never sinned, but that he had confessed and repented of his sins and was currently obedient. In the New Testament, only the self-deceived say, “we have no sin,” and only liars say, “we have not sinned” (1 John 1:8-10). David was neither of these, for God said he was “a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22). Everyone should learn this lesson of the Bible: God doesn’t expect us to live without sin, as Jesus did (1 Peter 2:22), but to continually repent of our sins, as David did, but today we must appeal to the blood of Jesus Christ to wash us clean (1 Peter 3:18-22).

David was delivered to keep God’s promise alive to send His promised “seed” (2 Samuel 7:12-16, which was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Romans 1:1-4) and to establish a people, both Jews/Israelites and Gentiles, which is the church of Christ and began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:29-36, 37-47). David lived under Moses’ Law, which was for Israelites, not Gentiles (non-Jews/Israelites, Deuteronomy 5:1-6). Psalm 18:49 contemplated a worship in song that included Gentiles, which was not done until the New Testament church of Christ (Romans 1:16-17; Ephesians 2:11-22). The only time Jesus used music on earth, He sang with His brethren (Matthew 26:30).

But of all references to musical instruments used by David and Israelites when they lived under Moses’ Law, there are only two which apply to the worship in the churches of Christ: Psalm 18:49, quoted in Romans 15:8-9; and Psalm 22:22, quoted in Hebrews 2:12, both of them specify “singing,” or vocal music! “Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19) is the only authorized music in Christian worship.

Because Psalm 18:49 is a clear prophecy pointing to the church of Christ, which is the body of Christ (Colossians 1:18), one may re-read the entire Psalm and see a parallel between David’s deliverance and God’s concern for Christians today (as, for example, in the case of the Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 1:8-11).

#book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-study, #daily-devotional, #singing

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Psalm 17

Vs. 1-2 show David’s appeal to be heard by God;

Vs. 3-5 show David’s reason he should be heard, that he has obeyed God;

Vs. 6-9 show David’s confidence in God’s judgment;

Vs. 10-14 describe his enemies;

Vs. 15 shows David’s satisfaction with God’s action.

“Hear,” “attend,” “give ear,” “let my vindication come,” “let Your eyes look,” are all ways of describing God’s interest in an individual’s needs with human terms we can recognize. God has no physical body (John 4:24; Luke 24:39), but we do, and thus we must “personalize” God to understand our communication connection with Him.

In verse 3, David is not arguing his sinlessness for he says, “I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me” (Psalm 51:3). He is stating that, no matter what has happened, his resolve has always been to be right with God. This should be true of Christians today (1 Peter 1:6-9).

In verses 4-5, David has overcome temptation, with God’s help (God’s word and ways).

In verses 6-9, David will be heard because God’s practice is to save those who trust Him by focusing His attention on them (“apple of Your eye,” is the expression used), and “shadow of Your wings” presents the tender picture of a hen gathering her chicks as God had done for Israel (Deuteronomy 32:8-12), David wanted to be (Psalm 17:8-9), and Jesus had wanted to do for Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37). A question for all today: “To whom will you flee for help?” (Isaiah 10:3). David was being “bullied,” but knew no counselors, advisors, teachers, social workers, or psychotherapists help like God!

In verses 10-14, David is the “prey” and his wicked, deadly enemies are “hunters” who, like lions, surround, boast (“roar” Isaiah 31:4), concentrate (“set their eyes”), desire (“eager to tear his prey”). David requests God to confront, cast down, deliver with His sword by His hand “from men.” To accomplish His purpose, God can use (and has used!) worldly people who live only for their own existence, enjoy God’s blessings, but leave their possessions to children they taught to be as worldly as they have been (Deuteronomy 32:41; Ezekiel 30:24-25; 32:10). It is a sad sight to see so many live only for this life and have nothing to show for it in eternity! When people are abundantly blessed, they forget the God who blessed them (Deuteronomy 8:11-18; Nehemiah 9:24-27)! Agur’s request of God is pertinent:

“Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches-Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:7-9).

In verse 15, David is confident that, after this life, he will be satisfied to be with God. Job had expressed a similar belief (Job 19:26-27), and so today should Christians (1 John 3:2-3).

#book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-study, #daily-devotional