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THE PRANCING, DANCING, LANCING
IS NOT ENHANCING
TO HOLINESS, HAPPINESS OR TO THE LOVE OF LIFE
First let us become more intimate with the word of God, found in Psalms 116, 118, and some of their Messianic neighbours, and then consider what is to be learned, for if one cannot learn from what surpasses all scientific hypothesis in its tri-millenial endurance, as irrefutable and alone valid, why bother to learn at all ? and if not at all, why live ? and if to die, why not die into life, not into interminable destruction! Let us at least be reasonable*1. Then we can apply the concepts, after this is done.
Psalm 116 in Context of Psalm 118
CHRIST IS NOT AN ANSWERING DEVICE BUT A FAITHFUL SAVIOUR
In these two psalms, we see in the first, the deliverance of David, from a riot of pangs to the relish of rest, and then the cost of production of such rest, in the second.
In view of this, what is the need ? It is to follow the prescription laid down in Psalm 116, and receiving rest, likewise to be filled with thanksgiving and praise, while from Psalm 118, realising the cost to Christ: the gallows for God, to deliver sin from its sod. God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation ... for He made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (II Cor. 5:19,21).
Our main course is to feed on Psalm 116, while the desert is delightful: it is part of Psalm 118, which fits like a door handle in the door, to open up the depths of the interior for us.
I Psalm 116 - RESTORING TO REST
A. The Love that Stirs Faithfulness - vv. 1-4
David is surrounded by trials so severe that it is the "pangs of death". Mortality shuddered, and life was under severe threat. As a dog loves his faithfully kind master, so David, but with conceptual consciousness, spiritual dynamic and personal delight, loves the Lord, for He has heard the cry. Hell seemed to open with its yawning depths exposed; but its severities were not able to prevail, and the constant companionship of the Lord secured and showed its elimination as irrelevant to the Psalmist!
B. The Rest that the Lord's Kindness Conveys - vv. 5-7
His very life has been delivered and He is urgent to relate and relay this; for it shows that the Lord is gracious, and does not disregard the appeal of His saints (cf. Psalm 145). Covered in this irremovable robe of divine righteousness (as in Psalm 71), the Lord's OWN righteousness in which alone does he work and move, He is kept; for by simple faith he has opened his heart in the very midst of tribulation, received his answer; and he now returns to his restful content, and assured peace in the presence of the Lord (cf. Hebrews 4).
Christians should BE at rest in the Lord, not without trial or pain, anguish or agony of prayer, but without an underlying torment, disquietude or troubled heart. Rest is apt and appropriate after exertion, as you find in Him those heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), where all is seen from His presence, as when one is at some great height, and looks to see the contours and configurations of the land, knowing the way. The one who is at peace with the Lord, who has HIS righteousness, who is not seeking to obtain by thrust and force, what is a grant, and comes only as a grant of God (cf. Romans 5:17, 3:23ff., 6:23, Psalm 71:14-16), who has learned wisdom from the Lord, who IS his wisdom (I Corinthians 1:30): he understands his way (cf. Proverbs 14:8).
C. The Walk that does not Wander - vv. 8-11
Eyes no more have tears, feet no longer slide to peril, the life has surmounted death, and now at large, he thrills at his re-opened voyage of pilgrimage. In his perils, apparently appalled at horrid behaviour, letting him down, he had surged into near cynicism TOWARD HIS FELLOW MAN. Liars! that's what they are! had seemingly become his disgusted reaction. It can almost seem so when a whole series of parties fails, falling into amoral lapses, unreliable, faithless, all words without deeds, let alone when pride adorns the failure!
But the Psalmist realises that the Lord whose goodness is his life, indeed His lovingkindness is better than life, we read (and find - Psalm 63:3), is not so mean in His gifts to man: far from it. Instead, he will do his own duty, fulfil his own responsibilities toward God, and participate with the saints in His service.
D. The Threefold
Resolution - vv. 12-14:
Embrace the Divine Salvation
Call on the Lord's own name
Fulfil Spiritual Dues and Duties:
because it is all now done,
Rest replacing Restlessness in a Surge of Peace
Seized with desire to reciprocate in some way, toward the marvellous lovingkindness of the Lord, he asks: "What shall I render to the Lord ?" He will rejoice and be replete with the salvation of God, realising its vast areas of commerce and compassion, provision and peace; he will call on the name of the Lord, making himself available for commission, intermission, direction, command, duty or whatever else may be His own good pleasure (cf. Romans 12:1); for this is the very least that one can do.
He will not hide himself away, but "pay my vows to the LORD now IN THE PRESENCE OF HIS PEOPLE!"
E. Cut Bonds and Open Thanks - vv. 15-19
Now: Thanksgiving is the
personal sacrifice the heart makes
Spiritual Commerce, in the Lord, is the Strength
Praise is the Song.
This leads to the reflection that death, from which he had so narrowly escaped, in the midst of perils and betrayals or default on the part of others, is no small thing before God, when it comes to HIS children. On the contrary, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" (cf. Psalm 1:6). None should hold cheap the completion to the uttermost part, of the duties assigned and the commission conferred on one's life by the Lord. As one put it, "I am immortal to my task is done."
After that comes the endless immortality as in I Cor. 15, when a new life and a new body will continue in a new heavens, neither perishing nor able to perish (II Cor. 5), and in the very presence of God, whose face will be seen (Revelation 22). Meanwhile, thanksgiving will be an outpouring like a sacrifice, a comprehensive awareness of the blessings of so faithful a Royal Master as the Lord of glory, the Creator of the universe, the solace of the saints, their comfort and their joy (I Peter 1:5ff.).
What has been the stay and security, the power and the provision for the afflicted and delivered Psalmist in all of this ? It has been the Lord.
On what basis however has this been provided ? It is on the basis of the REDEMPTION (as in Hosea 13:14, Isaiah 49-55), which God is to provide. To this we turn in the Messianic Psalm 118, nearby to this one.
II Psalm 118: THE GATE AND THE GALLOWS
A. Death has no Hold - vv. 10-18
B. The Gate that Led to life - vv. 19-21
The fascinating development in Psalm 118, a Messianic song, is first the resolute determination to deal with the evil vehemences which can so readily afflict mankind, with the concentration on divine faithfulness. Suddenly we see a figure surrounded by evil stings and assault, as if a hive of bees had been recently released and surged to the attack.
Yet "in the name of the Lord, I will destroy them," comes the utterance in response to this challenge, to these evil intruders. This reminds one of Psalm 2, where the peoples are warned to avoid the folly of rebellion that ignores the Son of God, and His work as Messiah, for His rule is to come despite the menace of those forces which loathe God, His love and His redemption. This will succeed, and then comes their judgment, for God’s provision in Christ may appear weak, but is strategic; and then the judgment.
While this determination to destroy the power of sin is present, we now find a focus on the parallel determination of the evil (v. 13), but there is no triumph for them, but for the One sent.
The "right hand of the Lord does valiantly" (vv. 15-16), and we find that this central figure in focus "shall not die but live" (v. 17), and “declare the works of the Lord,” even though the cost has been a fierce encounter. The "gates of righteousness" are for this conquering victor, for His righteousness holds no sin, and perfected righteousness is for Him an avenue, a door and an entry, confirming His triumph.
Open to Me the gates of righteousness!” He exclaims with authority.
It is indeed He who becomes the gateway for the people who are the Lord's, for He has made it His own. “This is the gate of the LORD, through which the righteous may enter.” It is, as always HE who conferring righteousness, when the temple is past and the realities apply, Himself is the gate as in John 10:9. His sheep go in and out!
How did He achieve such a post, such an entry for His people ? It is because "The stone which the builders rejected has become the headstone of the corner". Instead of death, life flourishes in Him, and He becomes the centre of the universe as its salvation, the divine and eternal focus on the Cross of Christ, the Messiah: for GOD ONLY is Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11), and as Christ only, has He paid the price. The rejection is depicted in depth in Psalm 22, and the resurrection in Psalm 16: here, the results!
In other words, in the war we saw that He was fighting, assailed and assaulted; and though death came to Him, graphic in Psalm 22, it could not keep Him, as Peter declared in Acts 2:24 (bold added):
"Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge
you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;
whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death,
because it was not possible that He should be held by it."
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly, says the Psalm, for on the third day, He raised Him from the dead, and "This was the Lord's doing: it is marvellous in our eyes" (118:24). Small wonder that
¨ “this is the day which the Lord has made”, and no marvel that “we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
It is then that the words come, famed for being included in the praise offered to the Saviour, on
(Mark 11:8ff.), children adding the lustre of praise (Matthew 21:13-16), so that it is also
when Jesus was rightly hailed as Messiah, a week before they in inane blindness, killed Him, by judicial murder.
"Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in he name of the LORD!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David,
That comes in the name of the LORD!!
Hosanna in he highest!"
The term 'Hosanna' meant from the Hebrew, 'Save now!' and through it they evidently sought in expectation that the Lord should incline in grace to them. Simeon from the first (Luke 2:29-32), as also John the Baptist (John 1:29), had left no doubt that here was IN HIMSELF, the Saviour, and John had made even the mode of salvation abundantly clear (as well he might, in view of Isaiah 53, for example), as in John 1:29.
Here indeed was THE Saviour as in Isaiah 53, who "through His knowledge will justify many, for He will bear their iniquities"; and although some would not on the Palm Sunday shown in Matthew 21, realise the full import of it all, as the need for teaching showed, in Luke 24: yet the power to perform this salvation was clearly vested in the One sent. If you do not believe that I am He, Christ had declared, you will die in your sins (John 8:24); just as it was, and is no less true that he who sees the Son (with faith, as in John 5:24, 6:40) already HAS eternal life, and does not pass into condemnation, having passed from a state of death to one of life itself (cf. I John 5:11ff.).
On Palm Sunday, the appearance of greatness was before them: the wonder of instant fulfilment of prophecy as He came on the ass, was self-declarative; His preceding works attested His culmination of all that had gone before, and the sense of wonder was vast.
So then sang the people, many evidently recognising that at last, the Messiah in focus in the Psalm was right before their very eyes, the gate into which and through which His people obtain salvation (as in Ezekiel 34, Hosea 13:14, Isaiah 53, Psalm 40; John 10:9). That point was in effect the one for which Stephen died (Acts 7), for it was the LORD whom the State rejected, who Himself was the criterion of salvation, the Temple the symbol which He fulfilled. Even His conveyance on that day, the colt of an ass, was fulfilment of a scripture obvious enough for the blind to see (Zechariah 9:9). But this, it is a sort of blindness where facts do not avail, for the eyes are shut voluntarily.
When even children gave a chant of recognition with the adults, it was too much for some of the staid ceremonialists, in such a spiritual shadow of symbolism that they did not see the One who cast it. Stop them!
"Have you never read," responded the Lord Jesus,
" ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants, you have perfected praise!’ "
The word of God incarnate, like the word written, always has the answer.
It was indeed this undeterrable triumph which tended to make them the more furious (Luke 11:52-54), for truth which is not desired can become obstructive to those who prefer its absence. When Truth is found to be a Person, then the nails can hammer the matter out. It is relatively easy; but then, this murderous step was meant to be available, since the sacrifice of Christ was the only way for man to come back, and the God of love was willing not only to show it, but to do it, to lay the pavement which allowed the access once again, in Himself! (Acts 4:11-12, Hosea 13:14).
The resurrection, in turn, meant that "I shall not die but live" (despite the lethal efforts to cast Him away as foretold in Psalm 2, and 22).
It is best to watch before our very eyes the parallel phrasing and attitude in Psalm 22, where the Saviour is watched dying, for death being a project, eternal life His very Being (I John 1:1-4), the victory is what for some would be like that over an illness. God, who in Christ raised the dead before Calvary, in various cases culminating in the resurrection of Lazarus, looks past this temporary terminus to the victory of life over death, through man (though He was God incarnate, definitively - Hebrews 1), and having done this, declares it, an opportunity for participation for all time, till at least this Age ends, for all who receive Him whose it is, and in whose gift eternal life lies.
Listen then to the Messianic prophecy of Psalm 22 (colour change added
to assist recognition),
before we proceed with Psalm 118:
"I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint:
My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My bowels.
"My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and My tongue cleaves to My jaws;
and You hast brought Me into the dust of death.
"For dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me:
they pierced My hands and My feet. I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon Me.
"They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My clothing.
"But You, O Lord, be not far from Me, O LORD:
O My strength, hasten to help Me.
"Deliver My soul from the sword; My precious life from the power of the dog.
Save Me from the lion’s mouth: for You have heard Me from the horns of the wild oxen.
"I will declare Your name to my brethren:
in the midst of the congregation will I praise You.
"You who fear the LORD, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him;
and fear Him,
all you, the offspring of Israel.
"For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
neither has He hidden his face from Him; but when He cried unto Him, He heard.
"My praise shall be of You in the great congregation:
I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.
The meek will eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD who seek Him:
your heart shall live for ever.
"All the ends of the world will remember and turn to the LORD: and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the LORD’S:
and He is the governor among the nations.
"The prosperous of the earth will eat and worship:
all those who go down to the dust will bow before Him:
and none can keep alive his own soul.
"A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness unto a people who will be born,
that He has done this." At this point, consult I Peter 2:9!
There you see in broader perspective in that harrowing Psalm 22, depicting the reconciling sacrifice of Christ to cover sin for those who receive Him as the Lamb of God, God manifest in the flesh: the perfect atonement, complete and consummate, once for all, for all time (Hebrews 9-10).
This is what it was to be, what it is, and only this saves, and produces that holy generation, that special people of which Peter speaks: not that He should suffer often, but ONCE, and as to that, ONLY the blood covers (Hebrews 9). By ONE offering He has perfected for ever those who are sanctified, and by one offering given ETERNAL REDEMPTION, as Hebrews 9-10 declares. Such is the declaration in the Psalm, in the apostolic word, from the mouth of the Saviour, to the zones of eternity! THIS Gospel is more changeless than the atom which will pass with the material universe; and this God is our God, for us who believe Christ, for ever.
As it was to be, so it is, and in Psalm 118 you see the triumphant CONSEQUENCES, just as in Psalm 22 you see the galling method! Both cost and consequence were great, for by His knowledge, His suffering, His death, His taking and breaking of mortality, He shall justify many (Isaiah 53:10-11).
Thus in Psalm 118: it is that though victimised and slain, He yet responds,
"I will ... declare the works of the Lord",
as in Psalm 22:22-26, and reflected in Psalm 16, where we find that so vast is the divine interposition, that His very flesh WILL NOT ROT! (Acts 2:35-37).
Death is overcome here by the unique method of breaking its hold, redeeming its charge and restoring for life, the One whose life could not be broken, because it is eternal by nature, just as His love remains, for as Paul declares, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ...!"
Nothing! (Romans 8:33-39).
"Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
"Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen,
who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
"As it is written:
'For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.'
"Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
For I am persuaded that
neither death nor life,
nor angels nor principalities nor powers,
nor things present nor things to come,
nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
He who healed others could indeed have covered the case of His own body, but was willing for this deliverance, only after its death gave atonement for sin; for as to this, justice required it for the sinners who constitute the human race, and He only was free of it (I Peter 2:22ff., Hebrews 7:26), being as God capacious enough to bear it for many; and love provided it! Hence the arising in the resurrection was the demonstration of power, not the avoidance of death. Hence NOTHING can separate, for the love remains and the impediment does not, slain with Him in His death.
Thus delivered, and Deliverer alike, He declares the works of God.
Assuredly it is so, for when He was near the day of the Cross,
He gave the word, and when He arose from the tomb,
He gave the works.
It is this which made it, as Psalm 118:23-24 foretold, a day of REJOICING. Sin’s companion, death, is overcome. The gate is open, and HE is the gate! as indeed He expressly announced in fulfilment, in John 10:9.
Once entered BY HIM, we have access to the divine mercy (Hebrews 4:16), covenant, the promises (Ephesians 3:14-21, Mark 11:23ff.); and the answer is PERSONAL, as is the Saviour, who personally paid. Once entered, it is as His own sheep that entrants remain, and never perish with the triumphant source of created life, their Guide and Guarantee (John 10:2-28).
We should indeed give thanks to the Lord for He IS good! (Psalm 118:29), so good, that any failure to act out with David the heart of His praise, in duty, responsibility, primacy to Him in life, deeds of testimony and godly living is as unthinkable by omission, as any atomic bomb would be by COMMISSION!
Indeed, the current enlargement of the jaws of death in atomic and other bombs and scourges, is man’s own penalty from man, as the divine judgment awaits the day of its sitting; for without the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:7), peace is outlawed and war rages, as Christ so clearly foresaw, declared and predicted (Matthew 24, Luke 21). It was to come and it has come; but the Gospel remains.
The Gospel bears in focus the GATE TO GOD. This, it MUST be entered; for there is no other way (John 14:6). Omission of this step is like omitting to breathe, but more fatal. Finding it, however, and entering through the Lord Himself, this brings you into direct communion with God as Lord, and what a Lord is He, who master of all, yet in mercy is a Friend to His own people. How rich is His holiness, for YOU ARE MY FRIENDS if you do whatever I command you! He declared. It is not a substitute for obedience, but a motive, a motif, an enablement, which however, always includes that great office of a friend, to forgive a failure, to encourage its non-repetition, and the stirring of the imagination into better things.
With Him, it is no mere influence, since THIS friend is God Himself; with His word is power and with His pardon is peace.
IV In Biblical Setting
and Historical Placement
The main stream of forecast events in Psalm 116, 118 is past. Christ did overcome death, so that it could not hold Him, but like a ball too fast for a fieldsman, determined, grasping at last that errant ball thundering from the opposing batsman, lunging and gaining it, yet suddenly frustrated, He was dropped and pounded on His way to the boundary, yes and past it; for in Him life overcame death.
On the third day, as forecast, He resumed life on earth (cf. SMR Ch. 6), and eating, teaching, inviting fingers to be poked in the holes in His resurrected flesh (as predicted in Psalm 16, available), blessing and preparing His disciples, He proceeded to STEP 6.
Step 1 was for Him to come at all, the incarnation as a man, as forecast in Psalm 40 (cf. Joyful Jottings 22);
Step 2 was the life of purity, to be fit to be a sacrifice for sin and to display as man who God is, so that the philosophers could speak in their beards, but the eye and hand could find the reality of God where the mind could readily gather and understand (I Corinthians 1 expounds the thesis most clearly). Grace made the obvious human, and in humanity the holiness of the Creator was demonstrated, with His power, mercy and lowliness of mind as man (Romans 1, Hebrews 2,4).
Step 3 was to forecast the death in detail, including, but especially including the three days after death before resurrection: since that is a physical thing, and needed quantitative criteria for due testing, to confirm on all sides, and with the whole character of the coming events, the sovereign certainties of each realm, phase and action. That is, His betrayal, fraudulent condemnation, physical brutality and judicial murder, together with the resurrection, all were to be held in compass before the eye, so that His disciples would not be surprised or involved in terminal psychological shock or anything of that character.
In other words, in this phase of the matter, HE PREPARED THEM (John 14:29-31). A good examiner will seek to do this for his students, before the exam, knowing in advance the sort of thing it is.
Step 4 was the answers to the examining magistrates, if you could call them that, the dissolute Pilate who condemned STATEDLY without evidence, for peace' sake, and the rancorous Caiaphas, who condemned on the assumption that although Christ had done and said ALL as the scripture required of the forecast Messiah, yet He COULD not be He, for reasons unstated, and so as an impostor had to die.
Thus, Christ had to conduct Himself in the face of mockery, both personal and judicial, to death with the face of deity. This He did (cf. Mark 14:60ff.).
Step 5 was the enduring of the crucifixion with majesty of manner and unchanging depth of heart, illimitable spirituality of diction. Thus we hear:
"Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!"
such words He REPEATEDLY used, as we see from the Greek tense used (Luke 23:34), and see forecast in the prediction of Isaiah 53:11-12.
Similarly, to the thief who wanted to know that WHEN Jesus came into His kingdom, he, the thief would be remembered at that time, Christ, with that sublime tenderness and assurance which was His own, replied,
"Assuredly I tell you, this day you will be with Me in paradise."
So far from a nebulous futuristic event, it was on that day that the transition would be made! When ? When is this day! He spoke with certainty, authority, pertinence and precision. Death could not move Him, nor agony subdue; and as the scripture told of what He would say, so He spoke, and as it foretold it with emphasis, so He continued to speak in petition for His murderers. The matter progresse through hours of anguish. The end came.
He was returning where He came from, "Father into Thy hands, I commit My spirit!" (Luke 23:46, John 17:1-3, 8:58, 5:19ff.), He cried; and so, redemption accomplished, He would complete His terrestrial, celestial journeying, first as I Peter 3:19*2 tells us, preaching to the spirits which were in prison, then IN THE FLESH through resurrection, returning to earth in triumph. Thus, the grand act of the universe complete, the provision for sin in Himself, vicarious victor, He could say, "It is finished!" (John 19:30). It WAS.
There remained but the application in triumph, His evangelising zeal, His illimitable love (Colossians 1:19-23) by which He would have ALL THINGS, yes, whether in earth or in heaven, reconciled to Himself, as the trinity moved from the vicarious shame to the vigour of the supernatural glory. From no realm was He excluded, for His love, being the love of God, His reconciliation, being that of God, was one for all, that all might find in that One, the wonder of His name.
This, it was not the Tour de France, a cycling classic, but the Tour of the Universe, the delight of Deity so that there was no speck, no cloud, no realm or region that would not have the light of the Gospel, so fulfilling Colossians 1:19.
If now we labour, it is because He laboured; and He laboured that in all HIS labours, we might also participate as with inexpressible joy we forward the work of providing light to darkness, through the Gospel, until all the world knowing, the next event proceeds. That ? It is His own next showing, His return as Lord as He made so very clear would come, Matthew 24 providing the precise steps leading to it, as the syndrome of sin would, as it did, develop. Small wonder some preachers speak of this with no less relish that those before the incarnation would of the coming of the Saviour; for now His return allows the righteous, redeemed, to shine like the sun (Matthew 13:43), and the glory of the Lord, the knowledge of it, to fill the earth as the waters fill the sea.
Where now the bloodthirsty false religionists whose hearts deviate from the doctrine of God, and fulfil fantasy by blood; whereas He, He fulfilled the reality of divine love by the practicality of dying, not killing! and coming back in resurrection, to prepare the world for judgment, and to herald the grounds, the only grounds of exemption from it: what HE Himself had done, and faith in Him to receive it, sin's guilt annulled, God's presence instilled.
The Non-Enhancing Prancing
that is a Perversion of Energy
and a Call to Death
So did He complete this tour of the universe, unstayed by death, His greatness sustained past it, showing the end of sentence in His own (Isaiah 54:10ff.), unless the desire for darkness being before God the ultimate preference (John 3:19), darkness envelops in the very presence of light! Small wonder, again, if in such cases the wrath of God abides; for it is one thing to forgive sin, to pay for it, and another to have the payment, adequate for all, applied to many, spurned in the ultimate folly of self-assertive negativity.
That, it is Step 7, the promulgation of the Gospel.
We have omitted, but He did not, STEP 6 (SMR Ch. 6, and indexes) . That was the bodily resurrection; for having made us with an intricacy which continually arrests the roving eye of knowledgeably ignorant man, He did not fail to complete with the demonstration of love and purity, that of power, which only God has.
As Step 7 is being completed, coming ever nearer as all forms of communication multiply and divide the realms of ignorance massively, mopping up what is yet to be overcome in translation on all sides, so the correlative disorders of the Gentile world as foretold by Christ in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and by Isaiah 24, for example, proceed apace.
One of these is the continuation of the prancing exhibited in Psalm 2, which predicted the direct assault strategy, which man in his official clothes would perform against the Messiah, and the direct assault on death which God would then perform (in more detail shown in Psalms 22, 16), LAUGHING at their folly (Psalm 2:4).
As to the kings, the Psalm foretold a millenium beforehand, showing the sovereign majesty of the Saviour, they would take counsel together against the Lord AND against His Messiah. Let us CAST away their bonds (morals, might, matters in hand, all that belonged to God),! they would (and did in effect) say. In so doing, assailing the Messiah, they might have seemed to manage to slay justice itself, even Him who declared, "I am the ... truth", and Christ at the same time! What a magnificent folly, then, they might achieve for their lust! It was however, that murder of the Messiah, an unfortunate effort which meant that their own justice did not fail to meet them, as Christ foretold, in the destruction of Jerusalem.
Killing the judge, it does not, after all, kill justice, since God being the Judge, and being resurrected, their 'man' whom they 'got' comes with a face worse than that of Banquo for Macbeth; for that, it was an image, and this, it is that ultimate ordeal, meeting your victim face to face, with a role reversal. Here however, it is worse even than that, for it is no mere power in other hands now, but truth.
The need then is to face the truth, as personal and in Person: and this, it alone CANNOT be faced by the impenitent guilty! and being incarnate, it merely makes the penalty the more sure, for those who do not, as Israel did not, repent of their wild day in court! (Matthew 24:1ff.). Gentiles participate by proxy in their spirits, by similar unbelief; and all meet truth at the end, where fantasy and fiasco, prancing, dancing and lancing, either of oneself, as in the case of the priests of Baal with Elijah, or of the truth which does not change, meets its final exposure.
It is then not surprising that Psalm 2 moves from divine mirth, to divine wrath and to divine judgment, and divine appeal to those whom illusion dissipates, or carelessness makes to connive with the rejection. "Now therefore be wise, O kings, be instructed, you judges of the earth - Serve the Lord with fear, rejoice with trembling, kiss the Son lest He be angry and you perish in the way." So does this Psalm move to its end, as does for that matter, the history of this Age, which is tumbling multitudes to judgment, while presenting the mercy which can absolve, beforehand. It was foretold in all these phases before the first, the incarnation, should come, so that shown from the first, it could be believed to the last. Let us however return to Psalm 2.
It says much more. There would be a progressive revolt. They would BREAK THE DIVINE BONDS, as they conceived them to be; they would CAST the CORDS away, after taking COUNSEL TOGETHER AGAINST the Lord and His anointed. The last which we have noted, came first. It was seen especially in John 11, where the high priest showed his extreme knowledgeable sagacity. "You know nothing at all," he intimated to his inferiors, who had been concerned at Christ's resurrection of Lazarus and the tremendous, seemingly irresistible flow of a following which was proceeding for Him. Caiaphas proceeded: "nor do you consider that it is expedient FOR US that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish."
As John 11:46 shows, the concern was that Rome would intervene and their nation would be lost!
God can indeed make earthly kings fear and swagger, until their day comes, as we have seen with Sennacherib, where both events, the prancing and the lancing occurred; except that in his case, the latter or something of that type, came from the hand of his sons, despatching him by a skewering or other deadly device, as he prayed to his non-gods! (II Kings 19:37).
Yes, they took counsel against Christ, but not only once. You see the disposition to kill this unanswerable Messiah who had ALL the answers, and thus hopefully to provide an answer to the unanswerable, much earlier than in that deadly hour with Caiaphas. If you turn right back to Luke 11:45-53, you see an earlier mode, which though indirect, could have the same result.
"Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him,
'Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also.'
"And He said, "Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.
"Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.
"In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers;
for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs.
"Therefore the wisdom of God also said,
‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,'
that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple.
"Yes, I tell you, it shall be required of this generation.
"Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered."
"And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees
began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things,
lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say,
that they might accuse Him.
The accusation, you see, of blasphemy, could be lethal, as indeed it was (Mark 14:62ff.), in the end. It provided the sort of answer this world loves, the sort proposed for Taiwan, in a very different case, but one which likewise illustrates what many feel should be done when they really want something, and something gets in the way. That, it is the answer of force, a puny and temporary subterfuge, unworthy of man.
They BROKE the bonds, such as the 10 commandments, in the murderous act against the One whom they could not control, defeat or overcome in any way. The answer - if you cannot defeat, delete! That is the futile way of force.
It is not an uncommon thing for this world, but it did not work, since resurrection and triumphal use of the crucifixion as a sacrificial provision, of man for man, instead of animal as in the preliminary sacrificial system, this proceeded according to the STATED divine plan, revealed for a MILLENIUM before.
That, it is majesty, yes divine majesty, and it is also a certain sort of humour, that those who thought they would, to take the third predicted act of enmity, CAST AWAY the bonds of God, as they conceived them, did far worse than fail. In fact, they showed the way to the provision of a kindness which would bring countless millions to His side in adoration and love: the Cross of the atonement. In that sense, they did His work for Him, that is preparing the stage, but of course, this did not lessen their guilt! When guilt is added to guilt, and guile to guilt, how great is that guilt!
Hence as you see in Psalm 2, after it has covered this threefold assault on the Lord and His Messiah, which it foretold, the LORD WILL LAUGH. YET He had set His Messiah in triumph on His holy hill, Jerusalem, where the very temple rites portrayed and proclaimed in symbol, what the Saviour was to do, and now in fact had done, personally.
The advice of Psalm 2 therefore, it was to heed, lest they be broken in pieces, who not only sinned in the face of glory, but in the face of grace. It was, as it is, necessary to repent of this physical (or in our day, spiritual) dismissal of the Lord, and His ONE offering wrought on ONE occasion for ONE Gospel by which any ONE may come to Him for salvation. This remains as forecast, till the end of the Age: as in Isaiah 52-55, summing up some seven centuries before it all happened, and as in Hebrews 2, 9-10, Romans 3:23ff., Titus 3:5ff. Ephesians 4:4, Galatians 1-3, showing it again, as accomplished afterward; as also it may be found in other places which could consume the morning to ponder.
They all agree in One, and on One, and that One is the same today, yesterday and forever (Hebrews 13:8), since that is the way with God, for whom our time (Romans 8:38) is merely one of His inventions, a creation!
That then was, as it now is, then physically, now spiritually only, but in both cases with MEAT and MEANING, the way of it: prancing proceeds. It is still here now for many.
The nations invent a new constitution without even mentioning Christ, or religion ? So be it, they cast the bonds of truth aside, perhaps as some frustrated mathematician might do, instead of facing reality.
Now one learns that in one pure mathematical proof of an aspect of that discipline, at last accomplished, and that not very long ago, it ran into 200 pages! Yes, reality can be testing, but it must be faced. It is not only, in this case, when it is junked, that there is frustration to follow, but disgrace; and this is merely intensified when this desire to cast aside, break and remove the cords of Christ's abundant kindness, is compounded by the fact that it is GRACE which is so evilly treated by DISGRACE, making the disgraceful treatment of grace a double disgrace! How this world relishes this casting away of the 'bonds' of reality as inscribed into the creation at the outset, in its kinds, that inviolable fact of nature and the word of God, and this we have surveyed a little before*3.
Small wonder for all this, as the Bible likewise foretells in its intensely and intensively unitary presentation over all the ages, there remains only a "certain fiery expectation" as Hebrews advises (Hebrews 10:27,31).
WHY would anyone ever imagine that man with his sense of justice, or perhaps more often, injustice, with his passionate pleas, his impassioned presentations against this or that, or for this or that, his integumental sense of justice, his awareness of its criteria and his desperation when it is breached, his rightful condemnation of those who feverishly defy it, whether as drug lords or al Qaeda murderers by multiplication, or Yugoslavian maestros of murder epics: why he should be mere mouth and not recipient is rather difficult to imagine!
in such numbers,
through so many saints, sharing in the sufferings of Christ,
lessons of history, in such scholarship, knowledge and wisdom, for so
in so many ways,
been given these priceless truths that the modern movement against His written
word, cardinal works and incisive gospel is doubly and trebly without excuse.
Justice does not dissolve because man acts to murder it. Reality does not shrink because minds are shrunk by illicit and irrational idols (cf. SMR Ch. 4, Extension E, Aviary of Idolatry, Spiritual Refreshings Ch. 13, 16). Justice CAME (on the Cross in mercy, for those willing to receive it this way, and hence to receive the pardon of the atonement for sin in Christ), and will COME, whether to hit like vast breakers in the ocean on the rocky cliffs of Christ's redemption, doing no harm, or on the sandy insurgencies of the prancers, who ignore the answer.
Pride does not occasion protection. Vanity does not exude stability. Man pays, whether it be like a government education voucher, by first being given the means, or directly from his own account. If the latter, it is already in debt, since the standards of God are sinlessness and purity; and hence can provide nothing (Ephesians 2:12, 4:17-19, Psalm 51).
Man without understanding is indeed like the beasts which perish (Psalm 49:12,20), but he might then almost envy them; for they, they assuredly, did not, because they could not, understand. This is not so with man. Man is indeed "in honour", being recipient of an equipment which no scientist can even begin to make, even with the COPY before him! and provided for with a salvation wise in understanding, deep in character, loving in disposition and personal in the obtaining, the very mark, monolith and monopoly of that ultimate mercy without straying man cannot live. Monopoly ? Are YOU not in a monopoly position if even you, mere man, forgive your neighbour ? How much more is God.
Man is indeed in honour; but honour smashed brings, indeed breeds justice, and justice judgment!
As you see from the history of Israel, especially in such summaries towards judgment as those of II Kings 17 and II Chronicles 36, God is patient; but as you see there no less, justice does ensue when mercy is disregarded, pleas disdained, opportunities dismissed and alienation pursued with aplomb or indifference.
Judgment has its onset in time.
Then comes the terminus to the prancing of the prototype with the antitype. Then it must be faced by priest, Caiaphas, as by the fraudulent Governor, Pilate, thus all but amusingly implicating not only Israel, but ROME also, since he was a Roman Governor (and Rome's coming judgment is not unclear in Revelation 17-18 cf. The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet Ch. 1, SMR pp. 946ff.).
The dancing with joy at the apparent predicament of the Lamb of God on the 'altar' of the cross, this scarcely unconfined in the day of His agonies, in mockeries delicious to the devious heart (Matthew 27:40-43) ... You can hear the taunting!
"And saying, You who destroy the temple, and build it in three days, save yourself. If you be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
"Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42
'He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
"He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him:
for he said, I am the Son of God.' "
It is said that he who laughs last laughs longest. THEY laughed for an hour or two, perhaps, or three, as the heat grew; but the LORD can laugh for millenia, since HE did not come down from the Cross, any more than an author ceases to write his book, an actor to play his part or a solider to finish his battle.
He did not, since PRECISELY AS HE SAID, the death was necessary for atonement and reconciliation, so that man in repentance might find God (Isaiah 49-55), and it was HERE that the LORD might be found by sinning, dancing, prancing, and yes, as in the nails of the cross, lancing man. They even carried it out more particularly yet, when they put the spear in his side at the end (John 19:34).
They were mocking the method which could deliver them, and the Master, He beyond every maestro who had performed it, and was performing it before their eyes AS HE HAD SAID. What temperance and self-control not to SHOW them by doing that very thing which in their taunting, they suggested!
On the other side, what colossal ignorance was displayed from the savants, from the scholars, then, just as in so many seminaries and universities today, they seek with similar vanity and pride, to cast away the divine cords. It is impossible to succeed in this amoral jousting, though injustice to students in the interim is possible, since God has organised liberty to demonstrate rebellion or exhibit reality, and has by His own atonement and predestining knowledge*4, ensured no loss of any who are His, where love reaches and no force being in view, the children of God appear (cf. Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace Chs. 7 and 9). Judgment will sit in person (Acts 17:31). Reality, not enterprise with verbal antics, will have the final word.
As the apostle Paul so well illustrates however, even mockers can be pardoned, and even persecutors can be forgiven, yes, and being reconstructed, to the point of regeneration, that most blessed transformation of grace, may serve God with relish. This robust reality in the love of God, atonement, reconstruction, regeneration, like that in the creation, has the bliss of integrity with the virtue of verifiability. The whole is encased in that unique validity which belongs in this realm of the divine, to the Bible alone, daring to enter the entire field of the practical just as it meets the entire realm of logic, and showing itself like a champion, the ONLY ONE who can, alone and always prevail*1.
Ponder, if you will, the scene of Psalm 22, in conjunction with the spirit evidenced against the Lord and His Messiah, in Psalm 2. It is evocative, but it is descriptive not only of what actually happened at Calvary, providing the dissection of the spirits of the rebels, but as a prototype, an advance word of that which is to be when the climax of frenzy comes, for our Age. This is to be at that take-over of this world for the devil, the adversary, the illicit, the grabbers who would not stop at grabbing God, and did not, when physically by His program, they had opportunity after Gethsemane.
It comes, surely it comes, for wait for it, it is prescribed!
As Habakkuk 2:2-4 has it:
"Then the Lord answered me and said:
'Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
'Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.' "
Wait for what ? It is coming, as Habakkuk 3:13ff. declares so clearly, in a way so like that of Daniel 12:1ff., and II Thessalonians 1, Revelation 1 and Matthew 26:53, 24:21.
"His glory covered the heavens,
And the earth was full of His praise.
His brightness was like the light;
He had rays flashing from His hand,
And there His power was hidden.
"Before Him went pestilence,
And fever followed at His feet.
He stood and measured the earth;
He looked and startled the nations.
And the everlasting mountains were scattered,
The perpetual hills bowed.
His ways are everlasting.
"I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction;
The curtains of the land of Midian trembled.
O Lord, were You displeased with the rivers,
Was Your anger against the rivers,
Was Your wrath against the sea,
That You rode on Your horses,
Your chariots of salvation?
"Your bow was made quite ready;
Oaths were sworn over Your arrows. Selah
You divided the earth with rivers.
The mountains saw You and trembled;
The overflowing of the water passed by.
The deep uttered its voice,
And lifted its hands on high.
"The sun and moon stood still in their habitation;
At the light of Your arrows they went,
At the shining of Your glittering spear.
You marched through the land in indignation;
You trampled the nations in anger.
You went forth for the salvation of Your people,
For salvation with Your Messiah."
The end is the end of the beginning, and as it begun, so is its end, with one important difference, that whereas truth was wounded, and efforts were made to extinguish Him whose is eternal life (I John 1:1-4), and He bore it, as programmed for salvation, yet when the end comes for which we all wait, then truth will judge.
One would hope that many more will pity themselves and the fracture of life, before judgment sits without mercy, on those who scorn mercy and the Messiah through whom God has appointed it may alone be found.
Does a man object when a bank pardons his debt, and tell its governor that it must be done by this or that credit facility, and not the one appointed ? or does a friend tell a friend who forgives him much, by what instruments the forgiveness will be granted ? Yet many would tell God that He must be extinguished, that their idols might forgive them, and so merely condemn themselves, through their insincerity, double provocation and unbelief. Does reason itself not blench at such folly, and does not pity plead for wisdom to be found!
Thus the events are Calvary, spiritual akin to the end, and nearer to the beginning, involving directly Him who is central, teach much.
It is therefore doubly instructive to ponder the happenings at that earlier time. Let us look together, following the multiple accounts of the Bible, at the evils in action at that hallowed place.
The very spirit of evil, the devilish dynamics, the driving dynamisms disport themselves, as executives of wantonry and woes ply their polluted wares and pursue their puny, punitive wars to destroy what is good, and this not only, but if it were possible, God as well.
Prancing like snorting horses, they chant their mockery:
"You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross" (Matthew27:40).
Indeed, they even add this to their missile developments:
"Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe" - Mark 15:52.
Dissatisfied with the elegance of their riposte and the Man being slowly murdered in front of their sacrilegious eyes, they also ranted:
"If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!"
They had never learned that he who saves is life will lose it. They had no faintest, foggiest conception of kindness, far less love, by which spiritual wars are won, so that love gives blood to secure lives; they had never learned in all those centuries preceding as teachers, that sacrifice is required, penal, punitive, adequate, nor spoken meaningfully with the prophecy of Isaiah 49-55, Psalm 22 or Micah 5. It had not entered their heads - or at any rate, their hearts, that animals are preliminaries and the Messiah is the consummation in the role of justifying many, since He would (as before their very eyes, He did) bear their iniquities as Isaiah 53 had declared some 7 centuries before.
Yet they claimed to believe the scripture (John 5:39-40, 6:40, Isaiah 43:10-11, 53:3-11).
What sort of belief is that, which fails to notice the work of the Messiah, or their part in it, by abhorring Him, as Isaiah also foretold of the nation (Isaiah 49:7)! while they with unspeakable criminality and inhumanity, depict their own sin on Him, pulling out beard and smiting to their very heart's content, the One even with this, bearing and depicting sin (Isaiah 50).
Was it to be theirs, this parody of faith, this abyss of worship ?
Do not their so scripturally oriented ears, those of these savants, these so-called spiritual leaders, these paid recipients of honour for spiritual services, do they not HEAR Him cry, yes and continue to cry, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!" (Luke 23:34)! And if they do, would it not occur to their obstructive aural cavities and cranial possessions, as thought flickered and memory revived, yes would it not penetrate into the very spirits which move them and give life to their human souls, that this is precisely what the Messiah HAD to do, for it was written in Isaiah 53 also, that He would "make intercession for the transgressors".
What child, taught the alphabet, and patiently shown a cat and the sounds of each letter, then given the sound and given the cat, and for half an hour shown how to make the sound and the letters refer to the same, at age 5, could possibly do worse, unless a mongol! Yet sin blinds the most brilliant mind, envy and hatred still the most pellucid thought.
Here it is, sketched out, filled out, with spiritual exposition and depth of detail in the scriptures they both professed and were paid to know, and they miss this! It was hardly that some eminent mathematician missed E=MC2 in the days before Einstein. You did not need genius, just eyes, just a heart willing to learn, just a lack of envy (Matthew 27, emphasis added):
"Then said Pilate to Him,
Do You not hear how many things they witness against You?
"And He answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
"Now at that feast the governor was accustomed to release to the people a prisoner, whom they desired. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
"Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said to them,
'Whom do you wish that I release to you?
Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?'
'for he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
"When he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying,
'Have thou nothing to do with that just man:
for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.'
"But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
"The governor answered and said to them,
'Which of the two do you wish that I release to you?'"
"Pilate said to them,
'What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?'
"They all said to him,
'Let him be crucified.' "
This parody of justice, this epic of false judgment, this play-acting of demographic devilry, this abdication of judge and manipulation of populace, apparently the most deadly for any nation ever executed, for how many of them were not in due time executed by the Romans, or the Inquisition, or by Hitler, that extension of the hatred, or in Russia's pogroms: it proceeded, that it might be paid for. So it continues, except the sins, yes even these and those like them, should be obliterated in the name of Him whom they vainly sought to obliterate, the only Prince for Peace in the Middle East, or indeed in the world, which pays and continues to pay heavily for its parallel sin of pride and unbelief, envious for the very prerogatives of God.
Yes, it was an execution of manipulation by executives rank with envy, reviling with scorn, scoffing their way to the disenablement of their nation for millenia.
The case is scarcely better for the modern world, for its efforts will bring this time, not a temporary occupation by the Roman Empire, in Israel, as was then the case within a generation; rather will it now bring, as the climax duly arrives, a universal occupation of this world by the same spirit of devilry, the same scorning ignorance and manipulative and drab magnificence, that same splendour of the sink, which gurgles up its corruption with corrosive spitting.
Parading at Calvary, like admired peacocks, they scoffed, Let Him deliver Him, since He delighted in Him! as if to throw back the fact that in Isaiah 41, the Lord shows Israel has NONE to offer for deliverance, but in Isaiah 42:1ff., He exhibits the Messiah in whom God does indeed delight, since it is His own eternal word, the Saviour, and HE, GOD ONLY is Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11). Only God can meet the standards of God, sin a blemish at the heart and a pollution in the spirit of man; and there in Isaiah as at Calvary, He shows Him, personal incarnation of the infinite God, by whom He was despatched from the eternity of heaven, for this purpose of glory.
And how was this glory to be obtained ? how was man to be brought home ? It was not by force, but by faith, and not in all but in those who received Him.
As declared and symbolically displayed in hundreds of thousands of preliminary portrayals, it would be gained by sacrificing Himself in the shame sin brings, even the glorious purity of the Son whom He then raised. Just as in desperate pity, He provided His Son, so having given all, He rescued and resurrected Him, laughing derisively at their pitiless folly (Psalm 2:4), yet still willing to receive those who received, and would receive Him, yes down to the end of the Age (Matthew 28:19ff.).
Let us however revert to Calvary.
Dancing in anticipation, they have taken counsel, and now glowing with pride as they glower with hate, they buy the time from Judas for the arrest, manipulate the manipulator, Pilate, and bring criminality to its glorious epochal place, which al Qaeda, the Inquisition, Hitler and Co. have so well and so flamboyantly purveyed to the people. Now from that ancient time, they act to haunt history with the worst loss of history and the pivotal depletion of time, that of the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:7) who yet, and for all that, will break the parading pollutants in their day, in His own way and time; for God is not mocked, and mockers do but mock themselves. Truth does not expire because they respire; cease, says Isaiah, from man whose breath is in his nostrils (Isaiah 2:22).
What an idea! to trust in man, instead of trusting in God, who became man, that man might be restored to God, in all truth and justice, through Him who worked and has worked, in all patent clarity and certainty, with all evidence and validity, with all patience and purity, with all love and practicality for all who see Him and calling in faith upon Him, are saved from sin and secured for eternity.
Yet they chose the criminal at the behest of their priestly leaders, dead in sin, deaf in envy, drab in ignorance.
Truth laughed (Psalm 2).
The answer had been achieved, to provide cover for those repenting: even the expression of this had been fulfilled, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!", in the right time and way, as is always the case with the works and words of God; while hell was reserved for those adding rebellion and scorn to their sins, lest they should receive mercy.
To such, even heaven would appear as hell, since they cannot, will not and desire not at all to bow the knee, to be submissive in spirit, yes, not even to their Creator, nor yet to the Redeemer, nor even to Truth, who bore enough to satisfy justice for any, and received the sins exclusively of those who received Him (Romans 8:32).
HELP FOR THOSE
AN EASIER COVERAGE OF BASICS IN THE PSALMS 166,118
Initially, please READ through Psalm 2, 16, 22, 118, with Isaiah 50-55.
On the 116, 118 Psalm Sermon
First let us look at Psalm 116. In this Psalm, you see dramatically David’s deliverance – neither death nor hell swallow him – and by contrast, a spiritual rest in the Lord is the result (Psalm 116:7). This is what you find as you read that Psalm. It reminds you of Matthew 11:28-30).
Troubled, he had felt that all men were liars, that none of them were reliable (116:11); but now, guarded by the Lord, he sees light is indeed shining and leading him (116:12,16, compare Psalms 27:1, and 43:3).
Thanksgiving and sacrifice are his delighted response (116:17). He, David himself so sets his heart before the Lord that he will prove reliable! He wishes to GIVE, yielded to the Lord (cf. Romans 12:1-2).
Such a wonderful change! On what is such a marvel of divine provision based ? We can see by looking at a nearby Psalm. Thus, in Psalm 118, we see the answer. This Psalm is so near to the other that it goes well with it.
Thus in this address, Psalm 116 is paired with 118.
It is because it is here, so near to 116, that we see the ultimate ground of deliverance.
It is the Messiah, or ‘Christ’ as Greek has it. This is the basis, and as this Psalm is centuries before the Messiah came, as predicted by Daniel, to die around AD 30, the provision is being predicted here.
In Psalm 118, you see the Messiah cost clearly in verses 22,24. There we learn that the main person for Israel, the One on whom its whole structure rests, who carries its destiny, is One whom they would reject. Amazing as this may seem, it is what is written, and also what happened at Calvary, on the Cross. As we learn in Genesis 12, Isaiah 49:6, 42:6, that One is also to be the basis for Gentile approach to God, this is crucial. It is not enough that He should be for the Jew; He is for the Gentile also (Isaiah 49:6).
The next thing to realise is this, that in Hebrew prophecy, a coming event is shown very often as one already done, fulfilled, accomplished. It is called the ‘prophetic perfect” or past. It is so clear to the prophet that it is simply described as seen, as already done.
In Psalm 22, you see the same rejection – even more horribly: for here is shown the slow and agonising death (Psalm 22:13-16), and the piercing of the hands and feet of Him who was rejected by the nation, but who next returns in triumph from death. That resurrection is stressed in Psalm 16, just as the crucifixion is in Psalm 22.
Both show His return in triumph from the dead.
He returns from death to declare the way of life (Psalm 22:24-27,30-31), and as to that, He IS it (as in Isaiah 55), for it is found in Him, the “head-stone of the corner”, the indispensable basis.
In Psalm 118, triumphant although, this, this chief ‘stone’ as He now is seen to be, the very one which Israel rejected (118:22), amazingly becomes the chief over all – the chief corner stone. Despite the most determined efforts to eliminate Him, He overcomes death as other Psalms show, and as this one confirms, He lives! Overcoming all efforts, He is victor. In the face of a multitude, He prevails. Vulnerable before man, He overcomes in the name of the Lord. Indeed, HE enters the gates of righteousness since no sin is to be found in Him (Psalm 118:19). He does not need any permission, since as God in the flesh, it is His already. Open them, He cries, and Is shall enter. This established, we who come to Him enter by invitation, since He IS the door (John 10:9). BY HIM, we enter. He does it on His own!
This prophecy was so well understood amidst all the Messianic Psalms and the words of all the prophets (as in Isaiah 50-55), that when the amazing Jesus Christ fulfilled Zechariah 9:9, by coming as their spiritual King to Jerusalem on an ass’s colt (that is, a young male donkey), even children saw here, the very centre of Israel’s salvation (as shown in Matthew 21:15), and adults chanted songs (Matthew 21:9), straight out of the Messianic prophecy of … Psalm 118:26.
One hopes that should open things for you, for this area. You always read all Psalms together, just as you take all relevant experiments together in science. Each adds to the other, all are of one.
SMR Chs. 1,3,5,10,
TMR Ch. 5, Barbs ... 6 -7,
Repent or Perish Chs. 2, 7;
and see REASON, REVELATION and the REDEEMER
The Kingdom of Heaven Ch.4, pp. 52ff., and The Biblical Workman Ch.5, pp. 79ff..
See Repent or Perish Ch. 5 ... inventions in mind, gender, politics ... and Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 15, Secular Myths and Sacred Truth Ch. 3
The Wonder of Predestination
Although ultimately, man's destining results from his liberty, not in its sovereign majesty which is God's, but in its ability to be divorced from God, and it is able so to result since man is made in the image of God: yet that liberty is in the hands of the Lord, who Himself alone is always the ultimate.
SO far from this compromising the liberty divinely provided for man, it establishes it. It is not permitted to run away with itself in meaningless effervescence, dubious sincerity, immersion in the irrelevant, but is kept personal and is divinely administered, for "whom He foreknew, He also predestined" (Romans 8:29 cf. Ephesians 1:4); nor can sin pervert it, since God sees beyond sin, just as heat imaging sees beyond the darkness, as was seen in the landing of the recent space-craft (August 2005), settling back to earth in the darkness.
Nor can man's differential merit affect it, the one more than the other, since beyond sin, there is no deficiency, nor is it relevant, but truth is known direct by the Lord, from whom nothing either is or could be hidden. In His light we see light, and how much more does He see ALL, past time, and beyond it, past works, and beyond them, inviting and longing, loving and finding (Matthew 23:37), just as Christ shows it in His own person in His weeping for Jerusalem.
Nor is this weak, for what that is of the heart's love is weak, when purity and reality abide, but rather is it strong: for love does not deny itself for its longing, as if to transmute into something else, like force or manipulation; but with truth is the divine way; and it is sated in love, not in obnoxious substitutes of either speciousness or pseudo-spirituality.
Man is thus in entirely in the hands of God, and what else would you expect for a sinner! This you see for example in John 6:65, and Matthew 11:27 - where none can come except the Father draw them, and again, the Son reveals the Father to whomever He WILLS, as the Greek quite clearly states, and the NKJ version correctly translates). Incidentally, here you see that trinitarian splendour of infinite intimacy between Father and Son, the Spirit convicting of sin, righteousness and judgment the while (John 16:8-11, II Corinthians 3:17).
The harmony of love, truth and reality is so great that it is positively overwhelming: nothing clashes, nothing is aside or astray, all things are clear and beautiful, empirically apt, doctrinally mutually embracing, rationally staggering in immensity, as one learns from revelation the magnificence of His love, the beauty of His holiness and the wonder of His provisions: who alone is God.
Thus predestination is the ultimate friend of liberty.
See the Predestination Quintet, named:
ON PREDESTINATION and
LIBERTY and NECESSITY,
RESPONSIBILITY, DUTY and CREATIVITY.