Friday, February 27, 2009

Psalm 23:6 Goodness and Love Chases Me

"Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD


We must not miss the irony here. The word translated here as “follow” is the Hebrew word “radaf”. In the rest of the Old Testament, it was never used in connection with blessing. This word usually expresses hostility between two opposing parties. One lexicon says it usually “... refers to a man or a group pursuing another for the purpose of taking revenge.” (TWOT).

A note from the NET Bible says: "This verb is often used to describe the hostile actions of enemies. One might expect the psalmist’s enemies (see v. 5) to chase him, but ironically God’s “goodness and faithfulness” (which are personified and stand by metonymy for God himself) pursue him instead. The word “pursue” is used outside of its normal context in an ironic manner and creates a unique, but pleasant word picture of God’s favor (or a kind God) “chasing down” the one whom he loves."

So the word usually carries the idea of violence with it. The doer of the action has the intention of inflicting harm on the subject.

The psalmist used the word outside of its normal usage. It is not the enemies who will pursue and catch the psalmist, but the Lord’s goodness and love, not for a temporary period but for the rest of the Psalmist’s lifetime. It is not harm that will pursue us, but the Lord’s divine favor. The closest bible verse I could relate it to is Deut. 28:2 where God says that “blessings shall come upon you and overtake you”. But I think Psalm 23:6 is even stronger, for with comes the idea of violence. The author of this Psalm is a warrior, a veteran of so many battles. He knows what it means to chase an enemy, and he also knows what it means to be chase by an enemy.

Kung nanunuod po tayo ng mga Police Report sa mga newscast, karaniwan nang maririnig natin yung mga bayolenteng linguahe tulad ng “tinadtad ng bala” o “tinadtad ng saksak”. Sa gayong paraan, tayo ay hinahabol ng Panginoon upang tadtarin, pero hindi ng mga bala o saksak, kundi ng kanyang kabutihan at pag-ibig.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Psalm 23:5 A Banquet in the Presence of my Enemies

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

In my previous post, I shared my meditations on the first four verses of Psalm 23. I did not touch verses 5 and 6 then because I wanted to stick to the Shepherd/Sheep imagery.

As we come to verse 5, we notice that there is a shift in imagery. The Shepherd/sheep relationship between David and YHWH becomes Banquet host/Guest of honor relationship. The pasture is now a table and the brooks of refreshing water is now an overflowing cup of wine.

But since all six verses constitute one Psalm, we will start with its connection with verse 4. Verse 4 shows that even in the most dangerous and life-threatening conditions- even in the valley of shadow of death, the sheep is fearless because of the Shepherd’s presence. The Lord delivers us from all harm. Ferocious predators such as lions and bears may lurk around but if the Lord is our shepherd, there is nothing to fear.

From that point comes the shift in imagery. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” Before the eyes of the enemies, the Lord takes the role of a banquet host and prepares a feast for the Psalmist. The imagery is similar to Isa. 25:6 where in the context of God comforting His people and removing their disgrace, God says: “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined”. He anoints the psalmist with oil publicly proclaiming that the psalmist is a very special guest.

Brothers and sisters, why should we desire any other place other than God’s presence. Why should we desire to eat the garbage of worldliness when in His presence, our souls can enjoy the banquet he prepared. In the Lord's presence, there is a feast even when enemies and other dangers surround us. To the banquet host be the glory!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Psalm 23:1-4 The LORD is my Shepherd

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.


In this Psalm, David uses an imagery which is very close to his heart. For he himself was a shepherd when he was a young boy.

The shepherd-sheep imagery is found in other parts of the Bible but the special contribution of this Psalm is its emphasis on the pronoun “my”. YHWH is not only the shepherd of the flock, we can claim him to be our very own personal shepherd as well.

The Essentials for a Sheep's Well-being
a) green pastures (that is a place to eat and rest)
b) refreshing and safe water
c) guidance (for the sheep is prone to go astray)
d) protection from harm

All of these essential needs are are provided by the Shepherd as shown in verses 2-4.

Application: From Sheep to Men
1. In this Psalm we learn that if the Lord is your shepherd, there will always be a green pastures for you. During periods of drought and absence of rain, when the green hills turn dry, do not despair. The Lord- your shepherd, has a green pasture for you.

2. When the brooks and the rivers run dry, do not grumble. Your thirst shall be quenched, for though the still waters are out of your sight, the Lord your shepherd shall lead you there.

3. When your heart which is prone to wander is tempted to go astray, incline your ear to the Shepherd’s voice. His word, his counsel is sufficient for you.

4. When you walk through the valley of the shadow of death… when you are in the most dangerous and life-threatening situations, thou shall not fear. For if the shepherd boy David was skillful enough to use his slingshot in striking down predators such as lions and bears, how much more will the Lord- our Mighty God deliver us from all harm.
For His Name's Sake

Our ultimate assurance of his care and attention is found in the last line of verse 3; “For His name’s sake".

What’s at stake is his glory. God will never allow anything that would diminish his glory. He would not allow anything that would damage his reputation. God would not allow anything that would stain his honor. His glory is the ultimate reason why He will make us lie down in green pastures and lead us to still waters. His reputation is the ultimate reason why he guides us. His honor is the ultimate reason why He will protect us. To the Shepherd be the glory!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Psalm 2: The King Among Other kings


verses 2-3
Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together
against the LORD
and against his Anointed One.

"Let us break their chains," they say,
"and throw off their fetters."

No war has ever lasted this long. Ever since the infancy of the nations, this war has been ongoing. The nations, with their kings, rulers and influential men do not like the idea of one God reigning as king over the nations. They want independence from God. From the account of Babel’s tower in Genesis to the prophesied one last conspiracy of the nations after the Millennium in Rev. 20:7-9, the nations hate God’s rule. You can almost hear from their lips, “Give us autonomy, you God. Give us liberty or give us death” So they devise plans against him. They join forces. They gather together in a huddle as if they were a team discussing the next game plan; or the next strategy to overthrow God.

verse 4: The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.

In our God’s sight, the strategies of these nations are completely silly. It is sheer foolishness that men, regardless of how powerful and wise they are, would even think that they could outsmart an all-wise and all-powerful God. Hear the laughter from the one who sits in heaven (his throne is above all thrones). God is not in anyway terrified or alarmed by men’s rebellion... he mockingly laughs at them.

verse 5:"Then he rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath"

Though God laughs at the schemes of evil men, he is not totally amused. In fact, they arouse the wrath of God. God is burning with fury. There are no superpower nations in the hands of the Messiah.

verse 9: You will rule them with an iron scepter;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery."

He can take the nations one by one and smash them like jars of clay. That is how fragile they are. In the hands of an angry God, nations cannot boast of their superior Armed Forces. They cannot boast of their; atomic bombs, nuclear weapons, Harrier and Stealth military aircrafts, Tomahawk missiles, Surveillance and Tracking Radar Systems... all these are worthless in engaging God in battle. Nations are as fragile as jars of clay.

Isa.40:15:” Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.”

Isa.40:17” All the nations are insignificant before him; they are regarded as absolutely nothing.

That is to recognize the preeminence of God’s anointed King- the heir of David’s throne in Zion (v.6).

verses 10-12 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.

Serve the LORD with fear
and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry
and you be destroyed in your way,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.

The only wise option for the kings of this earth is to serve the Lord with fear and trembling. Nations, kings, rulers, generals, and we ourselves must submit to the rule of God’s Son, or else we will all perish. Everyone, king or peasant, must no longer claim, “I am the master of my fate;/I am the captain of my soul.” .

Kings and rulers are instructed to be "wise" in verse 10. Rejecting the Son's reign is mere foolishness.

How about you my friend?
Is the Son your King?
Or do you have you own throne?