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Psalm 37 May 19, 2019

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 37.

Summary: In this passage, David exhorts the people of God to:

  • remain calm in light of the ostensible prosperity of the wicked – as He will condemn and punish the wicked
  • maintain their confidence in God – as He will vindicate and bless them.

Thoughts: Many believers – including me – enjoy reciting verse 4, yet we often fail to consider its context. In particular, not long after the 2015 San Bernardino attack, I attended a Bible study at a church that I was visiting. The pastor who led that study used that tragedy to help us grasp the thrust of this passage: although the wicked perpetrate their crimes, David exhorts the people of God to hold fast to Him. Now, whenever current events appear to advance the kingdom of Satan, I meditate on this verse and resolve to maintain my confidence in God, trusting that He will finally defeat Satan at some definite point in the future.

Throughout this passage, David draws a sharp contrast between the destiny of the righteous and the destiny of the wicked. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 36:

If we inquire for the ungodly, they have left no trace; like birds of ill omen, none desire to remember them. Some of the humblest of the ungodly are immortalized, their names are imperishably fragrant in the church, while of the ablest of unbelievers and blasphemers hardly their names are remembered beyond a few years. Only virtue is immortal.

I should note that the mention of “ungodly” in the second sentence may be a typo, i.e. I believe Spurgeon meant to state, “the humblest of the godly.” In any event, Spurgeon’s note caused me to ponder how various historical figures are remembered (or forgotten) today. I conjecture that at least some wicked people have been forgotten at this point; other wicked people (e.g. Hitler) are remembered today, yet many loathe their memories in light of the evil that they perpetrated. I would also conjecture that at least some righteous people have been forgotten at this point; other righteous people (e.g. Dietrich Bonhoeffer) are remembered today, and many cherish their memories, marveling at their good words and deeds.

In verse 40, David asserts that God rescues those who trust in Him. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

Not their merit, but their believing, will distinguish them. Who would not try the walk of faith? Whoever truly believes in God will be no longer fretful against the apparent irregularities of this present life, but will rest assured that what is mysterious is nevertheless just, and what seems hard is, beyond a doubt, ordered in mercy.

While strolling through this book, I occasionally fell into the trap of assuming that Spurgeon failed to fully comprehend the difficulties of “this present life.” Thus, I was encouraged by this quote, as it revealed the folly of my assumption. The fact that Spurgeon references “apparent irregularities…that which is mysterious…what seems hard” indicates that he wrestled with many of the same issues that trouble modern-day believers – yet he would not allow those issues to sever his relationship with God. We would do well to emulate Spurgeon’s example in this regard.

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Psalm 36 May 19, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 36.

Summary: In this passage, David declares that because the wicked do not fear God, their thoughts, words, and deeds are sinful. He then contrasts their wickedness with God and His righteousness.

He praises Him, as He has abundantly blessed His people. He concludes by praying that He would continue to bless His people and protect him – while punishing the wicked.

Thoughts: Verses 5-7 form the basis of “Your Love Oh Lord”. A quick Google search reveals that this song was written by the members of Third Day. I hope to meet them at some point and and learn how they composed those memorable lyrics. How did this passage inspire them at that time? Since this passage includes a sharp contrast between the wicked in verses 1-4 and God in verses 5-9, did they consider that context while composing these lyrics? Did they consider weaving other sections of this passage into that song? On a related note, as modern-day believers, we should evaluate verses 5-7; are we cognizant of the extent of God’s love, faithfulness, righteousness, and justice? Do the cares of this world distract us from meditating on His excellence?

In verse 9, David asserts the revelatory nature of God’s light. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

The Lord alone can give natural, intellectual, and spiritual life. In spiritual things the knowledge of God sheds a light on all other subjects. We need no candle to see the sun; we see it by its own radiance, and then see everything else by the same light. We never see Jesus by the light of self, but self in the light of Jesus.

I have previously noted that my knowledge of God has enhanced my love of math and science; indeed, I believe that those disciplines point to Him and His excellence. That being said, I am struggling with the notion that the knowledge of God can enhance my understanding of evil and suffering. I know that evil and suffering sharpen the contrast between the unholiness of man and the holiness of God. Yet I wonder: when will this contrast be “fully” sharpened? Does this world need to experience more evil and suffering? When will God’s holiness be fully revealed, and why must others suffer before that time? These are challenging queries, and I pray that He would not tarry in responding to them.

Psalm 11 February 8, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 11.

Summary: In this passage, David rebukes those who advise him to flee from his enemies. In particular, he asserts that:

  • God is acutely aware of the wicked deeds of his enemies
  • He has resolved to punish them for these wicked deeds
  • He has resolved to bless him – and all others whom He regards as being righteous.

Thoughts: Here, David declares his confidence in God even while his enemies plot against him. This psalm, then, furnishes another example of David’s fundamental trust in God. Now we know from 1 and 2 Samuel that God consistently punished David’s enemies (whether foreign or domestic). Thus, I wonder: were any psalms composed by people of faith who maintained their trust in God even if He did not deliver them from their trials? If so, it could be argued that those psalms would be more compelling testimonies than those composed by David. On a related note, since God does not always deliver us from our trials in this life, we need even greater faith than that of David in order to trust Him in the midst of hardships.

Psalm 1 December 14, 2018

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I’ve recently started reading through the Psalms with the aid of a commentary by Charles Spurgeon. I should note that I’ve previously read through the Psalms. I hope to acquire a deeper appreciation for the range of emotions that are expressed in this book – along with a deeper understanding of God Himself and His relationship with His creation.

I plan to blog about this experience as I read through both the book and Spurgeon’s commentary. Each post will generally correspond to a specific Psalm (exceptions will be made for longer Psalms).

For starters, here are my thoughts on Psalm 1.

Summary: In this passage, the psalmist draws a sharp contrast between two parties.

The first party consists of those whom God regards as being in a right relationship with Him. These “lucky bums” consistently strive to obey His commandments, bringing glory to His name – as He succors them.

The second party consists of those whom God does not regard as being in a right relationship with Him. Since they are useless in His eyes, He will subject them to eternal punishment.

Thoughts: In verse 2, the psalmist commends those who consistently strive to obey God’s commandments. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

And yet, in David’s day, how small was the volume of inspiration, for they had scarcely anything save the first five books of Moses! How much more, then, should we prize the whole written Word which it is our privilege to have in all our houses! But, alas, what ill-treatment is given to this angel from heaven! We are not all Berean searchers of the Scriptures.

This passage should challenge us, as believers, to ponder the following questions. Do we actually block off time to study Scripture on a daily basis? If so, do we ponder what we have read throughout the day? Is our daily study of Scripture challenging certain facets of our relationship with God (and others)? How can we (painfully) put Scripture into practice? How can we maintain our focus on God and His commandments in the face of myriad distractions? This psalm sets a high bar for the modern-day believer, and we would do well to wrestle with the challenge of clearing it.