Friday, May 20, 2011

Reflecting on the Psalms: Chapters 51-54

Psalm 51

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

1Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
13Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

19Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

Psalm 52

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Doeg the Edomite cam and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Ahimelech.

1Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.
2The tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.
3Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.
4Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue.
5God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah.
6The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him:
7Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.
8But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

9I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.

Psalm 53

To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David.

1The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
2God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.
3Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
4Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread: they have not called upon God.
5There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.

6Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

Psalm 54

To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, A Psalm of David, when the Ziphims cam and said to Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us?

1Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength.
2Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.
3For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them. Selah.
4Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.
5He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth.
6I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good.

7For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.

Chapter 51

Matthew Henry comforts on the first few verses by stating the following: “David, being convinced of his sin, poured out his soul to God in prayer for mercy and grace. Whither should backsliding children return, but to the Lord their God, who alone can heal them? he drew up, by Divine teaching, an account of the workings of his heart toward God. Those that truly repent of their sins, will not be ashamed to own their repentance. Also, he instructs others what to do, and what to say.” I really see that in the first few verses and even though I won’t get involved with a kind of Bathsheba in my life, I can still relate to the first few verses by considering them instructions of what to do in a similar situation. Heck, I could see this as something that applies to every day sins since I ask God for forgiveness daily since David is asking God for forgiveness in verses 2-3. Verse 4, where it says, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight” means to me that God was the only that knew of David’s sin with Bathsheba. I think there are some cases where I commit sin and even though no other man knows about it, God does because there’s no hiding from Him. I was born into sin (v. 5) since I wasn’t born a Christian. That reminds that since sin is inherited -- due to Adam and Eve’s sin -- my parents and their parents and their parents’ parents and so on inherited sin from the beginning of whenever the genealogy traces back to and the only redemption is coming to Christ. It kinda makes me wonder who accepted Christ in my family in past generations and who didn’t. Matthew Henry comments on verse 6 by stating the following, “Thou desirest truth in the inward part; to this God looks, in a returning sinner. Where there is truth, God will give wisdom. Those who sincerely endeavour to do their duty shall be taught their duty; but they will expect good only from Divine grace overcoming their corrupt nature.” That’s an interesting point, especially the last part. Since God wants my nature to be true to Him and not something that just treats Him like a spiritual bellhop. He is able to understand my heart and I see Him as my source which inspires me to do good things for Him. And if makes wisdom known to me, I’m not gonna lose because it I will beneficial to me. I imagine that He wants me to have an open mind to the wisdom He provides me with. In verse 7, I wanted to clear up that “Purge me with hyssop” means that David is asking to be forgiven for his sin by the blood of Christ. It reminds me of Isaiah 1:18, which says, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Both verses deal with being cleansed of sin, which I imagine that is something that God does as a part of forgiveness. Yes, I know, that Christ’s blood cleansed me from all sin when He was up on that cross, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t forgive those who live for Him who sin (hopefully not intentionally) on a daily basis. I think it’s OK to ask God for forgiveness on daily basis -- I don’t see repentance as a one shot deal because even though Christ has already taken my sin on the cross, I still have to ask God for forgiveness on a daily basis because it shows that I’m admitting my faults and that I need His help so He can forgive and forget the sins I commit daily. I suppose it really boils down to the nature of the flesh, which I’ve read in Martin Luther’s writings. Flesh is weak and even though I’m a sinner saved by grace, I still sin and there’s no I can attain perfection in the flesh because I mess up sometimes and I try not to make a habit of sinning. Hopefully I didn’t ramble on too much about that verse -- I just had a lot to say about it. Matthew Henry comments on verse 8 by stating the following, “Let me have a well-grounded peace, of thy creating, so that the bones broken by convictions may rejoice, may be comforted.” I just thought I’d share that insight to clear that verse up. If God convicts me of sin, I see how that can be a good thing because I can view in the sense that God convicts me of sin so He can continue to change me so I won’t have a hinderance that keeps me from knowing Him more and more. So if I’m convicted of sin, I can ask God to rid me of whatever sin I’m convicted, which is cool because He’s the only one that can do that. It’s as if I should take joy in the fact that God’s gonna help me deal with a sin I may struggle with since I can overcome sin with His help. God forgets my sin which I ask for forgiveness (v. 9) and He renews His spirit in me as a result of asking Him to forgive me of my sins daily (v. 10). Perhaps, though, I shouldn’t be overoptimistic about God’s freedom from sins which I am convicted of because doing so could cause me to lose focus of the main thing: God’s working in me to help me out with sins I am convicted of. I am thankful that even though I sin, God doesn’t lose connection with me (v. 11). I see that as a reminder of His grace because I imagine I do deserve for God to abandon me since He hates sin and since it is offensive to Him, but He forgives me because He loves me and His love is something that wouldn’t be complete without His forgiving nature. I find salvation a joyful thing since it is what saved me and continues to save me from sin (v. 12). I suppose that whenever I ask God to forgive me of my sins, salvation is restored to me because God has forgotten my sin and I think it even goes back to the concept that not one sin will enter heaven. Since I’m forgiven, makes sense that salvation is maintained by asking God for forgiveness daily. I never really thought of salvation being maintained by asking God for forgiveness of sin, if that is the meaning of verse 12. What it really boils down to is being faithful to God, which I do by trying not to commit the same sins over and over. There are other ways that I show faithfulness to God and trying not to commit the same sins over and over is just one of them. It’s like once I steal, I’m not gonna do it again. If I steal something tomorrow and then do it again five years later, I have repented of it but I ended doing it again. I think that some sins are easier to give into others. For instance, I may swear a few times a week but that doesn’t mean I don’t ask God to forgive me daily so I can be renewed. Typically, swearing isn’t an intentional thing for me -- I don’t usually think about it beforehand and then do it, but it can be how I choose to react to something. I can ask God to help me out with that if it has a negative effect on my relationship with Him. And since His salvation renews me daily, I have that spirit of willing and unforced obedience towards Him, which is what is meant by “and uphold me with thy free spirit.” It’s kind of a two-way street, I guess, because if I wasn’t renewed daily despite asking Him for forgiveness, I don’t think I’d be willing to serve and obey Him. I enjoy serving Him and I am thankful that He allows me to do sin even though I sin and even though I’m not perfect. Those who live in sin, I enjoy teaching them the ways of God (v. 13). I haven’t done much teaching from the Word, but I imagine that when I have in the past, it’s been a blessing to even non-believers. That verse gets me excited about telling people about Christ and the opportunities that will present themselves regarding that. If I had just one person to impact, I know that God’s will would be done in that and that God could use me in such an unique way to change one’s life by helping him or her to not a lifestyle where sin is glorified. I can’t relate to verse 14, but I will talk about verse 15. What it means to me is that since God is faithful to forgive me, I can praise Him for that because He’s not gonna hold sin against me nor is He gonna abandon me as a result of sinning. If He didn’t forgive me, I wouldn’t be able to thank Him nor would I feel that I have no burden to deal with. And since God forgives me of my sin, I see that as one of many reasons to worship Him.

Now I think I’ll talk about verses 16-19. Verse 16 is a reminder that God doesn’t want my burnt offering and sacrifices, which I talked about in my reflection on chapter 50, so just look at that. God sacrificed His Son (v. 17) so I could have salvation. Christ was broken for me and I don’t think I’ll ever be thankful enough for that. I though I’d share Matthew Henry’s insight on the verse, which states, “The good work wrought in every true penitent, is a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, and sorrow for sin. It is a heart that is tender, and pliable to God's word. Oh that there were such a heart in every one of us! God is graciously pleased to accept this; it is instead of all burnt-offering and sacrifice.” So basically what that means to me is that in order for God to (continue to) work in me. It’s basically my way of saying to God that I surrender to Him and I need to have my spirit broken once in a while so I don’t go on sinning and do whatever I wanna do. Verse 18 is talking about God’s goodness towards Zion. I see that verse applying to me because if I am of a broken spirit and contrite heart (v. 18), I will be saying to God that I want Him in to work in me and that I want Him to do good things in my life. God eventually delivered me from darkest moment, which he used so I could grow closer to Him. It’s as if God built walls of Jerusalem in me in a spiritual sense because I can that since that experience, my spiritual strength has been pretty good. I will continue to do righteous things for God (v. 19).

Chapter 52

Matthew Henry comments on the first few verses by stating the following, “Those that glory in sin, glory in their shame. The patience and forbearance of God are abused by sinners, to the hardening of their hearts in their wicked ways. But the enemies in vain boast in their mischief, while we have God's mercy to trust in. It will not save us from the guilt of lying, to be able to say, there was some truth in what we said, if we make it appear otherwise than it was.” Yeah…I am thankful that I can trust in God’s mercy and I don’t have to make a big deal out of the evil things I do. I see it as meaning that God’s mercy covers the evil things I do and I suppose I don’t enjoy doing sinful things, I’m not arrogant about the sinful things I do. God’s renewal has created a sense of humility in me and I think that coming to Him and asking forgiveness shows humility in comparison to making a big deal out of my sins. I can’t really relate to verses 1-4 since I don’t live a life where I boast about the evil things I do, but I know God will take care of those that do (v. 5). If I am witness God’s work towards those who boast about their sin, as described in verse 5, I can imagine myself laughing at them (v. 6). Not only did the man boast in his sin, but He also lived for money, or “trusted in the abundance of his riches” (v. 7). Matthew Henry comments on verse 8 by stating the following, “Those who by faith and love dwell in the house of God, shall be like green olive-trees there. And that we may be as green olive-trees, we must live a life of faith and holy confidence in God and his grace.” I don’t have much to add to that, but I think that since I see myself as an olive tree in God’s house, I don’t have any problems trusting in Him since He can exceed my expectations. I suppose that I would have some problems trusting Him if I boasted of evil things because I’d end up giving into Satan’s lie that God wouldn’t forgive me because I’ve committed sins. And I see a primer in trusting in God’s mercy, which is since He doesn’t have a limit as to how many sins one commits, one can trust that God’s mercy will wash away his or her sins. I even trust in God’s mercy for when I ask for His forgiveness, which means that by trusting in His mercy, I am acknowledging the fact that He forgives me on a daily basis. I am thankful for and I praise Him for the fact that His forgiveness is a continual, constant thing (v. 9).

Chapter 53

This chapter is pretty much the same as Psalm 14, so see my reflection on that, which can be found here: I am reminded in verse 6 that I will rejoice in salvation.

Chapter 54

Matthew Henry comments on the first few verses by stating the following, “God is faithful, though men are not to be trusted, and it is well for us it is so. David has no other plea to depend upon than God's name, no other power to depend upon than God's strength, and these he makes his refuge and confidence. This would be the effectual answer to his prayers.” During my darkest moment, I had to depend on God to help me out as David did in his struggle. God saved me (v. 1) and heard my prayer (v. 2). I haven’t dealt with oppressors that have tried to seek after my soul or my life (v. 3), but I imagine I could count Satan as one who acted in that way during my darkest moment because he made me feel like I wanted to hurt myself. God helped me out, though (v. 4), and I know whenever God helps me out, He will have vengeance on my enemies (v. 5). I’m glad I don’t have to have vengeance on my enemies myself because I’d probably be hesitant to do it. To address verse 6, I will say that although I don’t make sacrifices to God, as I’ve discussed in regards to Hosea 6:6 in my reflection on Psalm 50, I still offer myself as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1) on a daily basis. I have free will in doing that, however, because I could choose to live for myself one day and live for God the next. That is what verse 6 means to mean, since I see Hosea 6:6 and Romans 12:1 as parallel verses. I freely sacrifice myself to God but I don’t feel like I’m enslaved and have no choice in regards to doing so. And if I choose to live for God daily, I can see how praising Him would be included in that. God delivered me from darkest moment (v. 7) and I know He’s gonna take care of Satan -- He’s gonna defeat him -- when that time comes. I’ll even go out on limb by saying that God weakened Satan’s power over me during my darkest moment, which was how He dealt with him.

                                                    Sources used:

Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Psalms 51". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary
on the Whole Bible". <>.

Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Psalms 52". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary
on the Whole Bible". <>.

Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Psalms 54". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary
on the Whole Bible". <>.  

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