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THE LIFE OF FAITH
IN THE PSALMS
FOOTHILLS OF GLORIOUS GRANDEUR
NOT FOR ELEVATION ONLY,
BUT FOR CONSUMMATION OF CREATION
First, acronyms 37:1-7
DONOF TIL DIL DIL COW RIL
Do not fret,
Trust in the Lord, Dwell in the Land,
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
Commit your way to the Lord.
Rest in the Lord
Think of an
Oxford don, in his time off, tilling the land,
and making a mess of it, saying to himself, dill! dill!
as he sees the cows by the rill.
In this way, you have two mnemonics, one in acronyms and one in imagery. Note especially amid the exhortations: "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart."
1) ACTIVE INGREDIENTS 1-8
Don't fret. Surely, many have mansions and beach-side houses, lands and riches, power and glory among men. If you want that, there are means. If however, you want the Lord, then things are not your god, and pleasure is not your drive, nor is acceptance by men your elixir nor cunning profit your desideratum. So why fret because some go that way ? This is highway one.
If you go on the narrow way, that is not it. So forget it and enjoy the view, but don't live for it. Live with it as it comes. Wants and lust of mind, heart and body will perish like grass in the Summer heat.
Trust in the Lord and do good. If you have not learnt to trust in the Lord, you are not yet in the reception module for little children. You have not yet begun. This is where life begins, in an engagement, like that of a gear in a giant piece of earth-moving equipment. ENGAGE that gear, and don't let the engine idly whirl.
Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. Don't be scatter-brained. Abide in Him, be near where He is, don't walk away being pre-occupied, stir up the wits, not wilting and wishing but walking and doing what is good. USE His promises, be content in His premises, being "accepted in the beloved" - Ephesians 1:6.
Delight yourself also in the Lord. Don't just follow an inane accident of birth, as if going to church were like breathing, a not particularly inviting habit, but something you just do. Delight in the Lord, have relish for His reality, learn to KNOW Him as you WAIT upon Him, and leave no problem in mid-air, like an acrobat walking over the Niagara Falls in order to stir wonder and 'give the people what they want', as one town commissar put it. Be where you are, not endangering things for whim, caprice or floating desire.
There is quite enough danger abroad without living by or for it. If your duty involves danger, fine, but don't go and seek it out as if your wits were dead and death were your desire. Leave that to those mentioned in Revelation 6, caught up in wild enterprises of spirit and flesh, doomed and seeking to impose doom. Live abundantly, love the Lord, His grace is incomparable, His power illimitable, His kindness even in a great city, inimitable.
What then ? Then He will "give you the desires of your heart." That is what it says. In this, YOU are changed by being charged with His Spirit, en-graced with His presence, enabled with His power, refined by His reality, taught by His word until what you want is precisely what He is not only willing to give, but in fatherly fulness, delighted to give.
Commit your way to the Lord. Do not, however, fail to trust Him while you do so. Don't say: Well here it is Lord, and I hope you can do something with it, for I certainly cannot. Just let us wait and see then, and hope for the best.
Is that faith ? Commit your way and trust in the Lord. Make it a believing commitment and a commissioning trust. Though you be slandered - and I seem to have inherited a remarkably able slander squad, right from the days when it was my duty to confront the Professors in my forsaken seminary before being expelled for meeting their challenge with godly answers when invited, or when it was necessary - then be aware of your commitment, and trust in the Lord. I have found Him both reliable and realistic, meeting practical needs for service, not with a bed of roses (it WOULD be rather fun to have one, provided the thorns were first removed), but with what is required. HE WILL BRING IT TO PASS.
What is your commission ? Do you know ? For what is the Lord asking you to be committed ? Read the Bible and find the motive, the rules, the promises, the examples, and wait on the Lord and He who reads YOU will know for what you are sent. Then go and do it, watching your way, His word, with HIM your wisdom, the refreshment of your soul (Acts 3:19-21).
Rest in the Lord. Don't be anxious! What good did worry ever do ? Did it do more than increase the size of your head, or narrow the dimensions of your heart!
Be patient. Don't issue ultimata to the Lord; but DO be urgent, importunate, and have your grounds for His action, properly assembled, and approach Him not as a prince but as a sinner. You find this in the parable, on the one hand, in Luke 18, of the unjust judge, and in the text of Isaiah 66. To whom does the Lord look ? It is to this one, who trembles at His word.
Does He want brash and narcissistic beauties ? Not here, for to this one He looks, the one who is poor and of a contrite spirit. I always wonder and marvel at a well-known Australian preacher, perhaps more an aid specialist, who has reportedly said that he is not bad enough to need the Lord to die for him. He is, then, too good for heaven and can shed perhaps the lustre of his glowing light, self-generated in part at least since to the uttermost he does not need purging by the crucified and mangled Lord whose lot was in substitution, if he be Christ's, for his own! (Galatians 3). If this is not his need, why have his feet washed and his soul purged and his life covered by ransom ? If his feet don't really need all that, and his heart is not contrite in the face of the wages of sin being death and the fact that if we say we have no sin we merely deceive ourselves, then what has such a man to do with the Christ who has other conceptions. You CANNOT have a spiritual physician by the name of God and REJECT His diagnosis.
You can of course mention his name and not attend His premises, but if His word does not reside in your heart, how is His hand on your soul ? and if not, how is He your Good Shepherd, and if not, how are you one of His sheep ?
Distressingly the same, these Christians! someone may say. That is rather like saying, Tame little trotters, these racing cars, they cannot move. To be sure, like the racing car, the farmer, the accountant, the Christian is built for a particular service with a particular spirit and a particular Lord. It is just that this particular One is God, and man, this particular product in His own image, is His creation, and what is prescribed is lively, since God is its life, and is shrouded not with the mists of confusion but with the clouds of His mercy, to deliver Him like the Israelites of old, from the pressing troops of sin and the powerful potentates of no mercy, so that his light shines, in whatever circumstances, and the truth is on his lips, however woeful the tyrant.
Life is for living ? yes, but for the living God who made it, and only in Him is there the rest of knowing that He knows not only what is now for you, but the rest as well, being wise in all and available to all, and offering His sacrifice to all, with a heart that would have all come to Him in reconciliation, but will not coerce. His sovereignty is that of love, which is what He is so that He is never contrary to it in disposition (I John 4:7ff.), so that what is not love is not sovereign. He has His ways, and they are everlasting, even past the day when the anguish and groaning of this present creation, subjected to vanity, to curse (Romans 5:1-12, 8:17ff.), is over and He brings out His new product with His ancient wisdom the same, a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness lives (II Peter 3).
Rest then in Him, not in restlessness as if that were your abode, and take the time to find your duty and His designs for the destined work as His servant. I should rather be a servant of the Lord than the highest potentate on this earth, and am avid for His companionship, rather than having a million friends ready to lay down their lives for me. He is invaluable, and His life cannot be compared with that of the lie (II Thess. 2:4-10, Romans 1:17ff.).
So don't be angry, stirred up by seven devils or even one, but rather rest in the Lord and let your heart be still, knowing that He is God, and His word and work is there for you. Therefore do it, not to become His child, but if convicted, converted and come to Him by faith to receive Him as Lord who died that you might live, but BECAUSE YOU ARE! If you enter the college by faith, being called, then you don't have to rebuild the place or buy it in order to get in. Entry is free (Romans 5:1-18), and other entry is illicit (John 10:9ff.).
2) INHERITANCE DISPERSAL 9-12
The wicked, are told, that is those who refuse the Lord and rob Him of their lives which He created, and of His cure for which He died, these plot against the just, the ones whom the Lord has justified (as in Psalm 32 and Romans 5), so making them to be as if they had not sinned (cf. Zechariah 10:6, Ephesians 1, Psalm 103), for in His acceptance is their covered life (cf. Isaiah 32, Psalm 105:39).
The wicked will plot against the just, we learn (37:12). He will even gnash with his teeth; but the Lord laughs at him: "for He sees that his day is coming." Then the inheritance of shame will be dust, and the heap for lust will be like a rubbish heap (cf. Matthew 13:36-43). They may cut now, but will be cut off. Those who wait on the Lord, however will inherit the earth. We are His and He is ours and all things in Him are ours (Romans 8:32). It is like that when your Father is God, and our God is He who has shown His wishes, will and wonder in Jesus Christ, the Son of His love and the incarnation of His eternal word (Hebrews 1, John 3).
Thus the inheritance of the wicked will be dispersed being cursed, but of the justified will be distributed! of which the feeding of the 5000 is a symbol. It was not however a time for making the narrow-minded provincials open their hidden food packages, for intent on following Him, they had left behind the prudent measures of a more than one day trip. We learn that Christ took the tiny lunch of one boy and distributed it (Mark 6:41), not that people took their lunches and ate them freely. He took the boy's loaves and distributed them. It is important to read the script, not invent it. It was this that secured fame and showed the worth of His name, not uncalled impresarios who make a new play for the day of unbelief, founded on distortion.
The two are as far apart as heaven and earth, socialism and a godly society trusting in the Lord, and finding in Him their resource.
3) OUTLAY BECOMES INCOME 13-17
The outlay of the wicked gains them an income. See how it works. Thus "their sword shall enter into their own heart." They outlay in getting the sword, and in seeking to slay with it, but their income is proportionate to their extortionate desires, for that very sword will enter into their own heart. Nuremberg was merely a symbol of spiritual things, though its sword has been clear enough. In the judgment, inheritance is available, both in the nether regions of hell and in the supernal wonders of heaven. It is not about a percentage attainment, but a perfect gift by grace (Romans 5:15-19, Ephesians 2).
That is why heaven is so wonderful: for sin is not admissible at all! What insists on carrying his or her own, can assuredly have it. But not there (cf. Revelation 21:8), not any. It is His work of atonement which has made the place clean and His resurrection which will grant to us imperfect people, though saved from the guilt and sovereignty of sin, by no means perfect, that spiritual body and life which is fitting for the children of God, being raised in immortality, and leaving that mortal susceptibility to sin behind. God who created freedom and the gift by grace of eternal life, alike, who made man, He also knows how to make for man his home where the image of God, now restored, can fit!
As to the presumption and arrogance of seeking entrance on one's own ground, or as one put it, when you get to heaven I'll be in charge! the Lord laughs. If He became man so that man might become an adopted child of God, as many as received His diagnosis and death for life, through faith in Him alone, that is not to signify incompetence, but love, not manipulability but impassioned self-discipline to gain the glory of goodness for man, despite all his sin, in the victory which is by faith (I John 5:1ff.).
Better a pebble on the beaches of heaven than a bold boulder on the coastlines of hell (37:16-17).
4) ETERNAL INHERITANCE 18-20
As to His own spiritual people, the Lord knows their times, vicissitudes; and indeed these are governed by God, and for these, do not stand in their own right: they are fledglings before the Lord, not dicta for Him to swallow. Indeed, it is His eye which on them, for them has prepared an eternal inheritance. For them, evil times test, but do not get the best of them. In contrast, the wicked will perish, and His enemies at last will be like the meadows in Spring: their glory will quite simply be gone, for they will have no more sustenance.
5) MERCY TO THE MERCIFUL 21-28
The wicked are apt to borrow, and in debt, not repay. The righteous however have another mode: in mercy they give. What does this tiny bit more matter, when they will inherit the earth. It is not necessary to act as if your whole life was in livelihood, for it is not; it is in God. Better to be favoured by God and blessing to man than cut off with the wicked, whose whole lives are pertinaciously prompted by carnal considerations and profitable motives.
Consider a good man: his way of life is divinely ordered. Fall he may, but desolation is not his, for the Lord upholds him. Love justice as the Lord does, and dwell in and with the Lord forever. Be like what He is, and liking Him, show it.
6) PRUDENCE AND RAPACITY 29-36
The people who belong to the Lord have tongues trained to what is wise, and to what is just, for the law of God is written in his heart. His footing is not lost, nor will the Lord leave him in the unchaste hands of the wicked, with their pompous judgments.
Therefore WAIT on the Lord, find what He wills, mine His desire as choice silver, and in due course when the wicked are gone, you will remain. Yes they may spread like a vast tree, but in the end, their name rots, their live is sought and not found.
7) DYNAMIC DEALINGS FOR THE LORD'S PEOPLE 37-40
Look! see the blameless? Their end is peace; while the wicked, already cut from the living branch of the Lord, are simply cut off for ever. They have a present appearance, but no future worth mentioning!
Meanwhile, the righteous have salvation and it is from the Lord. They do not walk alone, f or God is their strength when trouble seeks to crush them. Those who are His HE will save, because they trust in Him. But remember, it is better like Josiah to be saved by leaving this earth before calamity consumes, than to remain intact and embroiled in downfall!
THIS PSALM IS PREPARATION FOR WHAT IS TO COME
This Psalm is on the way to Psalm 40, the incarnation for divine sacrificial remedy for sin and Psalm 45, the glorification of the King following His securing salvation.
These broad and beautiful principles are the prelude to the detailed Messianic heights to follow as in Ch. 8 below, where a sequence of Psalms is seen in its overall coverage, and others are found thematically in this orchestration, which is really what the Bible is in a musical sense, instruments (writings) continually adding their symphonic enrichments, descants, cadences and cadenzas to the themes, principles, promises, depictions of the Messiah, in His first coming, as in His second. It is rather like the shepherds, arrested in the fields by the news of the significance of the babe just born, in this, that there is a latent joy, a sense of exuberance, energy, certainty, profound security, utter assurance that rings the bells of the heart in the chantry of the soul. The persons named in this chantry are the Father (Psalm 2), the Son (Psalm 2, 40) and the Holy Spirit (Psalm 104, 143), because of their endowment which no man can make (as in Psalm 49:7,15).