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Psalm 42 June 8, 2019

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 42.

Summary: In this passage, the Sons of Korah covet the presence of God. They are severely wounded by the taunts of those who assert that God has abandoned them; moreover, they lament the fact that they cannot worship Him in His house.

Yet they maintain their confidence in God, as He has sustained – and continues to sustain – them in the midst of severe trials.

Thoughts: In verse 1, the psalmist laments their separation from God. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

Debarred from public worship, David was heartsick. Ease he did not seek, honor he did not covet, but the enjoyment of communion with God was an urgent and absolute necessity, like water to a stag.

When I read Spurgeon’s thoughts, I was – and remain – baffled by them. Did Spurgeon completely overlook the title note that this psalm was “a maskil of the Sons of Korah”? Was Spurgeon’s error actually introduced in the editorial process for this Crossway Classic commentary? Was this title note added after Spurgeon wrote his original commentary? We do know that David could not have been a member of the Sons of Korah, as he belonged to the house of Judah – while the Korahites belonged to the house of Levi. I hope to meet Spurgeon in the next life and resolve this issue.

Verse 1 forms the basis of “As The Deer”. A quick Google search reveals that this song was written by Martin Nystrom. This link describes how Nystrom composed these memorable lyrics. I hope to meet Nystrom some day and learn more about his walk with God – especially his spiritual peaks and valleys. On a related note, as modern-day believers, we should evaluate verse 1; do we truly “pant” for the presence of God? Is He a mere accessory to our existence? If the former is true, how does He actually quench our spiritual “thirst”? If the latter is true, how should we reorient our souls to pursue Him?

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Psalm 33 May 4, 2019

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 33.

Summary: In this passage, David exhorts those whom God views as righteous to praise Him, since:

  • He is righteous and just
  • He created – and sustains – the world
  • His plans cannot be foiled
  • He is omniscient
  • He preserves those who trust in Him.

He then affirms his trust in God and prays that He would continue to preserve those who trust in Him.

Thoughts: In verse 2, David exhorts the people of God to praise Him with musical instruments. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

We who do not believe these things to be expedient in worship, lest they should mar its simplicity, do not affirm them to be unlawful, and if any George Herbert or Martin Luther can worship God better by the aid of well-tuned instruments, who shall gainsay their right?

I had not heard of George Herbert before reading Spurgeon’s note, sparking a quick Google search. Admittedly I am not a poet (though I have fond memories of composing an amusing villanelle for my AP English class), and I gravitate towards works of prose. Yet I respect those who gravitate towards works of poetry – especially those poems that elucidate the relationship between God and His creation. On a related note, if I ever make the effort to learn Biblical Hebrew, I would hope to utilize that knowledge in a more in-depth stroll through the Psalms.

In verse 5, David asserts that God’s “unfailing love” is omnipresent. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

Come hither, astronomers, geologists, naturalists, botanists, chemists, miners, yea, all of you who study the works of God, for all your truthful stories confirm this declaration. From the midge in the sunbeam to leviathan in the ocean all creatures own the bounty of the Creator.

Perusing these posts reminds me that I cannot help but marvel at the sublimity of God as expressed in His creation. Indeed, my love of math and science spurs me to praise God for His excellence as revealed in the fundamental principles that govern His creation. Moreover, I know that scientists who are also believers join me in praising God in this regard. Occasionally I wonder if I will be able to discuss math and science with God – and other believers – in the next life; would such discussions enrich my songs of praise to Him at that time?

In verses 18 and 19, David asserts that God will always preserve those who trust in Him from death and famine. Admittedly I still wrestle with these verses – although I am cognizant of the assertion that these verses do not constitute ironclad guarantees that God will always provide for the material needs of His people. Indeed, I hope to meet David in the next life and delve into his mindset when he composed this psalm. Was he convinced at that time that God would always satisfy the material needs of His people? Did he anticipate the persecution of believers in the New Testament era? If he were to compose that psalm today, would he revise these verses?

Psalm 31 April 26, 2019

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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 31.

Summary: In this passage, David prays that God would save him from his enemies, since he:

  • lives righteously
  • trusts in Him
  • reveres Him.

Now his enemies seek to kill him; although they have not achieved their objective, he has been weakened – physically and emotionally. Thus, he prays that God would punish them and save him.

He then praises God for blessing those who trust in Him and revere Him. He concludes by exhorting the people of God to trust in Him.

Thoughts: In verse 2, David calls on God to save him from his enemies. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

How very simply does the good man pray, and yet with what weight of meaning! He uses no ornamental flourishes, he is too deeply in earnest to be otherwise than plain; it were well if all who engage in public prayer would observe the same rule.

I am often tempted to use “ornamental flourishes” while praying with others, as I enjoy hearing my own voice on those occasions. Indeed, my sinful nature wants to impress fellow believers, spurring me to present eloquent arguments to God concerning their requests. Now I worry that if I only present simple prayers to God, then I am not honoring their requests. Clearly I need to pray publicly in a manner that glorifies God; how can I make progress in that regard? How can I pray more simply and effectively?

Verses 19 and 20 form the basis of “How Great Is Your Goodness”. A quick Google search reveals that this song was written by Ed Kerr. I hope to meet him at some point and learn how he composed those memorable lyrics. How did this passage inspire him at that time? Since this passage was inspired by David’s struggles with his enemies – who slandered him and even sought to kill him – did Kerr consider that context while composing these lyrics? Did he consider weaving other sections of this passage into that song? On a related note, as modern-day believers, we should evaluate verses 19 and 20; when we are being persecuted for our faith, do we find solace in God’s presence? Or do we bemoan our lot and blame God for enabling our persecutors?

In verse 22, David states that while he was besieged, he believed that God had abandoned him. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

This was an unworthy speech; but unbelief will have a corner in the heart of the firmest believer, and out of that corner it will vent many spiteful things against the Lord if the course of providence be not quite so smooth as nature might desire. No saint ever was, or ever could be, cut off from before the eyes of God, and yet no doubt many have thought so, and more than one have said so. Forever be such dark suspicions banished from our minds.

Spurgeon’s thoughts are encouraging, as they indicate that I am not alone in doubting God and His goodness in the midst of severe trials. We are reminded that our doubts constitute a human reaction to adverse circumstances. Now the question that we must answer is: will we indulge our doubts, or will we wrestle with them in light of our knowledge of God and His promises? Can we sense that God continues to work – in both large and small ways – while we are in the midst of our trials? Can we draw strength and encouragement from that fact?

Psalm 13 February 10, 2019

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Psalm 13.

Summary: In this passage, David laments God’s apparent unconcern about his struggles. He prays that He would deliver him from his current predicament – lest his enemies extol his demise. He then reaffirms his trust in God – in light of His blessings.

Thoughts: In verse 1, David assumes that God has abandoned him. Spurgeon offers some thoughts on this point:

Ah, David, how like a fool you talk! Can God forget his own beloved child? Let us drive away the thought, and hear the word of our covenant God by the mouth of the prophet (Isaiah 49:14-16).

While I agree with Spurgeon’s assertion that God never forgets His children, I think that he is being somewhat uncharitable to David in this instance. When believers are confronted with severe trials, they naturally respond by wrestling with feelings of fear and doubt. While these feelings may be irrational in light of Scripture (e.g. “he will never leave you nor forsake you,” as noted in Deuteronomy 31:6), we are necessarily subject to them in this life. Thus, instead of regarding David as a “fool” in this instance, I empathize with him, knowing that even great faith cannot banish earthly thoughts from our earthly minds. The challenge for us, as believers, is this: how should we respond to these earthly thoughts?