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Psalm 16 March 1, 2019

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 16.

Summary: In this passage, David pledges allegiance to God, asserting that he will not worship any other deity. He praises God, as He has given him abundant blessings – including wisdom. He rejoices in the fact that God – the ultimate source of life – has delivered him from a severe illness.

Thoughts: Here, David rejoices in the fact that God has preserved his life. My NIV Study Bible includes the following germane note:

Some scholars associate Psalms 16 and 30 with the dedication of the citadel, David’s palace, on Zion. David regarded the palace as God’s pledge of the stability and exaltation of his kingdom (2 Samuel 5:12). Apparently a severe illness (Psalm 16:9-10, 30:1-12) had delayed him from moving into the new building.

If the above-mentioned scholars are correct in making that association, then we could gain a greater appreciation for the depth of David’s gratitude to God in this instance. In particular, David’s note in verse 10 that God “will not abandon me to the realm of the dead” would take on greater significance – i.e. instead of viewing that verse as mere hyperbole, we could marvel at the extent of God’s healing power at that time. Moreover, we could draw strength from this verse if we are in dire straits.

While this psalm was written by David, Spurgeon associates it with Jesus Christ. For example, consider the following part of his commentary on verse 1:

Tempted in all points as we are, the humanity of Jesus needed to be preserved from the power of evil; and though in itself pure, the Lord Jesus did not confide in that purity of nature, but as an example to his followers, looked to the Lord, his God, for preservation.

Clearly Spurgeon is correct in making that association, as Peter quotes verses 8-11 in Acts 2:25-28 during his sermon on Pentecost concerning Jesus. That being said, Spurgeon’s commentary on this psalm only references Jesus – not David. Thus, I am curious: did Spurgeon actually reference David in his original commentary? If so, why did the editors, Alister McGrath and J.I. Packer, decide to remove his references to David? Also, was David mindful of Jesus Christ while writing this psalm? Would David have approved of Peter’s decision to associate verses 8-11 with Jesus Christ?

Suffering for Being a Christian June 27, 2014

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Here are my thoughts on 1 Peter 4:12-19.

Summary: Peter begins by exhorting his readers to acquaint their thoughts and hearts with suffering. Indeed, if they commune with Christ in suffering, then they will be filled with joy at His Second Coming; thus, they should rejoice. When they are taunted by unbelievers, they are blessed, since they have been anointed with the Spirit of Christ. Now the suffering that they should be acquainted with should not stem from their living in an impure and unholy way; instead, this suffering should stem from their communion with Christ. He asserts that believers will suffer before the Second Coming of Christ; after His Second Coming, though, unbelievers will suffer terribly. To support this point, he quotes from Proverbs 11:31, where it is stated that:

  • those who endeavor to walk uprightly in the ways of God will encounter great difficulties in the process
  • those who do not endeavor to walk in the ways of God will encounter even greater difficulties after they die.

Peter concludes by asserting that believers – who suffer according to God’s good pleasure – should place their souls in His safekeeping and follow His will in everything.

Thoughts: In verses 12 and 13, Peter states that the Christian life necessarily entails some degree of suffering. Leighton offers some thoughts on this point:

The ungodly world hates holiness, despising the Light. And the more the children of God walk like their Father and their future home, the more unlike they must be, of necessity, from the world around them. Therefore, they become the target of all the malice of their enemies. And thus the godly, though the sons of peace, are the occasion of much disturbance in the world.

Believers who live in nominally Christian nations such as the United States may have difficulty applying this passage to their context – compared to believers who live in nations where the political structure is directly opposed to Christianity. As a believer in a nominally Christian nation, I am thankful for the separation between church and state along with the freedom to practice my religion…yet I feel disadvantaged in that I wonder if this passage truly applies to me. Indeed, many of the New Testament epistles were written to believers who were enduring persecution. Now one might note that members of the Christian right can apply this passage to their context, as they have endured their fair share of insults and verbal assaults from those who oppose their views on issues such as gay marriage and abortion. Yet one might ask: has the Christian right truly acted in a “godly” way in advancing their agenda? Can a believer in a nominally “Christian” nation truly incur “all the malice of their enemies” by acting in a godly way?

In verses 14-16, Peter states that when believers suffer, their suffering should stem from their holy lives. Leighton offers some interesting thoughts on this point:

So what if you are poor, mocked, and despised? The end of all this is at hand. This is now your part, but the scene will be changed. Kings here, real ones, are in deepest reality mere stage kings. [If, as there is good reason to believe, these words were written soon after the battle of Worcester, September 3, 1651, they have a special significance, referring to the dethronement and tragic end of Charles I. – Editor’s note.] But when you are no longer the person you now are, how glorious will be the result. You appeared to be a fool for a moment, but you will truly be a king forever.

I was inspired to learn about the Battle of Worcester, and my research clarified that Charles II, not Charles I, was defeated at that decisive engagement. My research also revealed that Charles II opposed Presbyterianism in Scotland, implying that Leighton struggled under his reign. Thus, it can be inferred that Leighton applied this passage to his context, essentially stating that Charles II and his supporters persecuted him for living a holy life. Did God approve of Leighton’s thoughts in this regard? Since Charles II was a member of the Church of England, was Leighton making a legitimate application of Peter’s exhortations (i.e. could a conflict between two Christian denominations be viewed as an example of persecution)? Perhaps if Charles II was only a nominal Christian, then Leighton would have been justified in his application of this passage. I am eager to meet Leighton in the next life and probe him on this section of his commentary.

Doxology January 14, 2014

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Here are my thoughts on Jude 24-25.

Summary: Jude praises Christ as the mediator between God and man, who keeps his readers from total apostasy so that He can present them to God the Father at His glorious appearance. At that time, they will be without fault; moreover, He will rejoice to see them and they will rejoice to see Him.

Jude praises God, as:

  • believers receive benefit through Him
  • He is excellent
  • He is to be honored above everyone else
  • He is able to do all things according to the good pleasure of His will
  • He is sovereign over all things.

Indeed, God is to be praised forever. Jude consents to God’s promise and displays his steady belief that it will continue unto all generations.

Thoughts: Now that I have completed my stroll through this letter, I would say that Jude and Paul are actually quite similar. This letter can be viewed as a microcosm of some of Paul’s fiercest letters, including both of his epistles to the Corinthians and his letter to the Galatians. Jude was not surpassed by Paul in his zeal for his readers; indeed, he prayed fervently that they would be saved on The Day of the Lord. Anyone who tried to cause them to lose their salvation was harshly rebuked; moreover, the certainty of their eventual defeat was emphasized in order to encourage his readers while they aimed for The Day of the Lord, which would occur on an unknown future date. I am eager to meet Jude and his readers in the next life and learn how they responded to this letter. Perhaps Jude can enlighten me at that time regarding the sources of the two extra-biblical accounts in this letter, i.e. Michael’s dispute with the devil and Enoch’s prophecy regarding heretics.

Timothy’s Encouraging Report April 17, 2013

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Here are my thoughts on 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13.

Summary: Paul begins by telling the Thessalonians that Timothy has brought him a joyous report of their true piety. He declares his zeal for God and Christ by stating that the fact that the Thessalonians are doing well swallows up all of his other anxieties. Indeed, he cannot find an expression of gratitude to God that can come up to the measure of his joy. He persistently prays to God that he can visit them and complete their faith.

Paul then prays that God and Christ would remove Satan’s obstructions and allow him to visit the Thessalonians. He prays that they would be filled with love mutually cherished and love for all people; he stimulates them by his own example in this regard. Paul concludes by praying that God would make the Thessalonians internally holy when they stand at His judgment seat – when Christ returns with his holy ones.

Thoughts: In this passage, we see that Timothy’s report regarding the Thessalonians made Paul quite joyous. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point:

This manner of testifying to the joy he felt about the steadfastness of the Thessalonians had the force of an exhortation, for Paul’s intention was to stir up the Thessalonians to persevere. It was undoubtedly a most powerful encouragement when they learned that the holy apostle felt so great consolation and joy from the progress they had made in their piety.

We see that Paul did not describe the depth of his joy for the sole purpose of sharing his feelings with the Thessalonians – he wanted his words to have an impact on them by spurring them to honor God more fully in their lives. Paul and the Thessalonians were enduring persecution at this time, and so the importance of mutual reinforcement and encouragement is stressed throughout the letter. The Thessalonians’ “progress” would spur Paul to make “progress” in his ministry, and his “progress” would spur them to continue their Christian walk, etc. Clearly neither Paul nor the Thessalonians could make “progress” on their own.

In verse 10, Paul prays that he would be able to see the Thessalonians again and help them attain perfection in terms of their faith. Calvin offers some insights on this point:

Now, this is the faith he had previously extolled. From this we infer that those who far surpass others are still far away from the goal. Hence, whatever progress we may have made, let us always keep in view our deficiencies, that we may not be reluctant to aim at something higher.

Perhaps this quote implies that even if a Christian nears the end of their life on earth, they “are still far away from the goal.” One must wonder if a Christian’s distance “from the goal” decreases at any point in their walk with God; conversely, can this distance increase at any point in their walk with God? What we do know, though, is that a Christian’s distance “from the goal” vanishes when they are reunited with Jesus Christ – either through physical death or at His Second Coming. That should encourage us during our walk with God.