April 12, 2009

 from Psalm 69

Continually there are costs and consequences. Often this is seen as a grave result in terms of foolishness, and Obama's errors on Islam count amongst these. Accordingly it is to be hoped that he and the nation will repent and repudiate such counter-Christian oddities.

However, back some 2000 years, there was ONE event with a single-tongue and single-heart for a singular result that cost more than the earth, which writhes in endless betrayals invoking endless seeming disciplines and obstacles, as if one should veer off a highway and seek to speed on, amid the scrub. That single event cannot be reduced for politics, seduced by spiritual diplomacy or satisfied by dismissal. To dismiss that is like dismissing the lungs with which you breathe or the head by which you store thoughts.

This single event, the death and resurrection unity of Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word of God who became flesh for the greatest expedition of history, is filled with pity and power.

The blessing to surpass all, it comes by  His work,  and through His word, which will dismiss this entire earth when the play is over for its potentates and principles of pollution of mind, heart and body, earth and space itself (Matthew 24:35, II Peter 3, Isaiah 51:6), just as His word before incarnation, created it (Colossians 1:15). To bypass this is like bypassing health for the sake of cancer; and to mistreat His people is like a request for a millstone to tie about one's neck (Matthew 18, Micah 7, Revelation 6:9ff.); for the time of judgment comes, and it is according to truth.

Even Israel, that non-oil State in the Middle East, which Islam molests and terrorists and their ilk seek to remove from the map, whether President of Iran or other, though it has yet to return to the Lord (as in Zechariah 12:10ff., Ezekiel 37, Luke 21:24), is under a protectorate. This is despite its many divine disciplines, and meanwhile it becomes a sword-edge for the mighty, on which to blunt their varied appetites, as has been seen and will shortly be seen (Zechariah 12-14).

It is however not the diminution of wisdom, and the antagonism of nations to the Lord and His ways which is our current topic, except BY CONTRAST. It is the acme of wisdom and the wonder of the Lord which arrests our attention this Easter.

We look through Psalm 69 to see in brief form, something of what was to happen, did happen  and has changed the world. If it chooses to ignore it, this leaves the explanation for its plight; and where any make application to this Sovereign by faith, to find His salvation, it is they who change out of all sight and recognition, as is becoming to adopted children of the Lord (cf. Ephesians 1).





I Sunk in Sin    69:1-6

Here David shows something of his travails of spirit, amid persecution, but also his own sin amid circumstances enough to harass the strong. On many sides, vileness and violence seek to oppress him, and he is not even perfect to meet them; but the Lord is perfect and in this Psalm we find what HE DOES, that such as David might be delivered. We tune in to his theme, as the Psalm commences.

The mire of what is spoiled, the depth of what is beyond human recall, the floods of what is overwhelming since only God can stop the submergence in the pressure of events from being fatal to understanding and standing in His light: these things are abetted by the roaring of hatred, like a tsunami ready to invade (69:4). Yet this is no excuse for his own sins - God knows "my foolishness" and "my sins are not hidden from You."

David is moved to record his depth of concern that his own predicaments and errors will not bring disesteem to God, on account of his own failures, vicissitudes (69:6). His solicitude is for those who seek the Lord, and the last thing he wants is for his life to dissuade, to influence them negatively from both knowing and following the Lord.  


II Covered with Reproach     69:7-12

Now we find that it is "for Your sake, I have borne reproach." Shame has come from standing firm for truth in the midst of ceaseless evils, just as the professing Christian must stand now, or be subverted as one without true faith, a mere wall emblem. In the Psalm, we find of the focussed person, that even his brothers treat him as an alien. We move now to the frequently found depiction of the Messiah, through the mother-to-be of David's own descendants according to promise (II Samuel 7).

His words are these: "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up."  It is this which we find now inscribed on what is increasingly obviously the very image of the Messiah; and of course John's Gospel shows that this was just what was fulfilled in Jesus Himself; for He swept out the commercial undertakings in the temple, activities which had polluted the whole atmosphere of sanctity and relief in the presence of free redemption (John 2:17).

At once we draw nearer to the substitutionary atonement itself: "The reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me" - Psalm 69:9.  HE became sin for us, declared the apostle Paul, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (II Corinthians 5:21). There was to be a certain transference of guilt and shame from us, of condemnation from our accounts of spiritual indebtedness to the God of truth and righteousness; He would swallow up death in victory.

With this, there would and did come, reciprocally, a transfer of His righteousness to us who believe Him and in Him.  This latter transfer occupies two categories. Firstly, there is the presence of His own credit given reception by us; and secondly, there comes truth in life. This means that the very life of God would as it does, re-create our capacity to live in practical alliance with Him. No longer would we or do we who believe, live as spiritually dead, severed from His presence and stricken with the fruits of absence! (Titus 3:5-8, Romans 8:11-14). Life in abundance encounters and embraces us, as a waterfall, the rock on which it moves.

Meanwhile, back in the realm of the Messiah and the cost of our deliverance, believers in Him, we see in this Psalm account of the putridity of the shame which surrounded Him. For Him, almost any religious activity became a cause of mockery, as He becomes a "byword" to the socially well-known, and is "the song of drunkards". Such is the place of grace in sight of disgrace, the defiled and abandoned ways of this world! Thus, while the Cross was the site of actual penalty-bearing on the part of Christ, there was much leading to it, of which it was the epitome; and this, equally, had to be borne. If then such things Christ bore this in life, before the drama of death, is it too much to ask of His disciples and friends, that they bear with valour and courage, what has to be borne now, by us,  with Him in His life ? I think not (cf. I Peter 3:*ff., 3:15, 4:1ff., and esp. 4:12ff.). 


III  Seeking Deliverance      69:13-18

So musing and so moving past his own time to that of the Messiah, in this Psalm as it progresses, David is yet still seeking for his own deliverance. We return from the sudden flash into the realm of the Messiah (closely resembling the crucifixion account in Psalm 22 and allied to that of the then coming resurrection as in Psalm 16). From the mire and the hatred of those hired by sin, he seeks deliverance, for here are deep waters indeed. The pit would love to shut its mouth on him; but he seeks that it will be frustrated by the very power of the God for whom he relentlessly seeks. So does David move from inspiration concerning the Christ to come, and His undeserved woes, and His effectual prayers, to his own case in his endeavours to find deliverance.

Where then is deliverance to be found ? In a moment, he moves to a full-face view of the Messiah actually being murdered; but in the meantime, as the picture moves from himself to that Lord of glory, he seeks help from "the multitude of Your tender mercies". Just as now in the world of weaponry, they are making more and more smaller drones which ultimately could be like insects of electronics, or bionics, devouring and killing, burning and attacking (rather like Revelation 9:1ff.), and these will swarm in evil dealings and reelings, so he seeks a helpful swarm of loving tender mercies. These however are to do good and overcome the evil, like so many attendant nurses, not curses!

The redemption of the whole body of those who would believe in the Messiah now comes into focus (cf. Ps. 16, Romans 8:23), and His own sacrificial death is to cover this. Thus we see developed, as from a photographic negative before us, His very picture who died that we might live. 


IV  Climax in the Messiah    69:19-28

cf. Psalm 83:16   Here is the climax for Easter.   He foresaw. We recall

"Reproach has broken My heart," He cries. " I am full of heaviness," as well He might be with the woes and griefs of all the believers in the world that were and are, come thrust upon Him. Infinite in Godhead, He is yet as man surrounded by sorrow and "acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). In this lovingly planned disgrace, borne vicariously, we hear His words:  "I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none," as might well be. Why is this ?

It is because there is no pity when justice is met for sin; and it was this meeting of mercy in judgment that closed the doors of grace for a moment to the dying Christ, blasting Him as lightning might blast as aircraft from the skies. Then He traces, as One foretelling His own biography, since God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:8), this amazing detail: they  "gave Me gall for My food, and for My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink." That of course happened when moving from His eternity in heaven, the Lord came to earth and suffered as man,  as seen in John 1:1, 8:58, and 19:29.

Just as the Ethiopian eunuch, as shown in Acts 8:26ff., needed someone to explain Isaiah 53 to him, asking: Did the prophet speak this of himself or another ? so here, it explains itself for us. There is here, there being no parallel in the life of King David, a simple, sample expression by prediction of what in DETAIL would happen, so enabling us to see the fulfilment quite clearly and to appreciate the context. David’s illustrious and indeed divine descendant through the maternal line is in view. Indeed as in Psalm 16, it is a case as again in Isaiah 52, of death. David did not die that way.

It is as in Acts 2:29ff., where Peter cited from Psalm 16 the resurrection which instead of a rotting body, was the triumph of Christ Jesus:

"Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David,
that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

"Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him
that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh,
He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne,
he, foreseeing this spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ,
that His soul was not left in hell, nor did His flesh rot.

"This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses."

David died indeed; but Christ did not so die. His was resurrection as planed from the first and foretold for a millenium. Yet reproach had broken Christ's heart, since the reproaches due to us LANDED on Him, like shells on a stricken battle-ship; and it HAD to result in His 'sinking' for justice to be done, for He was dying the "just for the unjust" to bring us to God (I Peter 3:18).

The coming resurrection did not allay the pangs and horrors of the crucifixion, which had to be borne not only in body, but in mind and spirit. Thus He was left aghast in anguish, stricken with sin He did not commit, excavating those to believe in Him, from the doom that otherwise had to be theirs. 


V  Mercy through Him    69:29ff.   cf. Isaiah 53:4-6

The Assurance from Him who Lifts (Romans 8:16)

In 69:19-21 you see the profound payment; in 69:29-34 you find the profound result

Small wonder then that "the humble shall see this and be glad" and that even further, "you who seek God, your hearts shall live" (Psalm 69:32).

Here is the answer for the poor in spirit, for Christ has borne their sorrows and taken their griefs (Isaiah 53:4). THIS is why their hearts shall live, for He has borne death away and replaced it with life: this with the complete wedding of justice (its bonds on Him) and mercy (its fruits through Him). Indeed, the Lord "hears the poor, and does not despise His prisoners" (Psalm 69:33). We read more of this in Isaiah 61, a test cited by Christ of Himself (Luke 4), where we find:

 "The Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound."

THIS is the liberty in view, that of eternal life; and THAT is the captivity, that sin and guilt which severs from God, itself broken by His vicarious death, as is an electrical circuit, when the wire is cut.


VI  Doom without Him    69:22-28

In view of what He did, what it cost and the enormous consequences in blessed favour and friendship with God for those who simply and freely  by faith receive this,  the Lord's Christ (Luke 2:26, Romans 3:23ff.), small wonder that there is that inevitable and horrendous ire and action from God toward those who rejecting Him, or even assisting evil concerning Him, shame mercy and detest deliverance (Psalm 69:22ff., cf. John 3:19,36).

This acrid and grievously just condemnations, they are not merely for sin, ordinary sin in falling short of the spiritual life which should be led. They concern something far worse. What is this horror phase to which the anger of God is so directed as we here see ? It is nothing less than the steadfast insistence on being self-slain by REFUSAL to receive REDEMPTION, which so costly, attests love but not stupidity.

Staying in the hearts of those who despise and reject Christ's salvation, there remains the deadly sin in which they therefore must die (John 8:24)! Some even seek to ‘protect’ others from the truth, scorning and scoffing; and what a load they are to bear when judgment does come, and that ACCORDING TO TRUTH (Romans 2:1ff.).

The leadership of this movement of deadly defiance (foretold in Psalm 109 and in some detail in Zechariah 11), which in the Zechariah we find was a matter of selling Him to His enemies for 30 pieces of silver, as history records, is now seen. It is that prepared for the futility they preferred to keep, the emptiness and asininity, instead of taking with relish and relief all means for guilt's removal. And available, freely, urgently, with vast cost, were these means of deliverance! Scorners scorned, they become the final mark of guilt, and their ignoring becomes the first line of judgment. If you refuse to be protected at such cost, how great is your loss and your shame, called in Daniel 12, "everlasting contempt."

As they were a cause of ruin for many, so their ruin rushes upon them; for they have preferred to infect others, scorning avoidance of guilt and scorching their own souls through their ineffectual and vacuous despising of the Messiah.

May the good Lord deliver many now from such things, as instead,  they embrace the good He has done for the salvation of their souls, and knowing God as friend, delight in the abundance of inner peace and the provision of His paths for their living. As such, it is well to conceive of ourselves by His gift of grace and current vital presence, as 'living letters' and ambassadors for Christ.

Hear Paul from the Lord (I Cor. 2:9ff., 14:37):

" ...ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us,
written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God;
not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart
(II Corinthians 3:3).

Again he is moved to write:

"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."