EXHORTATION

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 HAMAS Rocket Men

UNENDING ENCOURAGEMENT

Here are two Psalms that again reach out to the sons of Korah.  Their ancestor had caused trouble by attempting self promotion in service to God.  If the sins of the fathers may be passed down through generations, the mercy of God continues to invite them home.  We all encounter the soil on the road of life, and so Jesus ordained a spiritual foot washing.  God cares about those of us who as believers are experiencing temptation to fail.

(A Psalm or Song for the sons of Korah.)

His foundation is in the holy mountains.  The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.  Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.  I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.  And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her.  The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah.  As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there: all my springs are in thee.  Psalm 87:1-7

Mount Zion and Jerusalem are established as a focal point for the attention of God.  He will honor good men from many places.  He has promised salvation to whosoever is willing to obey Him.  For those who are born in Zion God has promised salvation and some special attention.  While the sons of Korah may be drawn to manmade religions, their heritage of Jerusalem gives them a special promise.  Those designated to serve in the temple as musicians and singers are also more honored in Israel.

Christians of gentile heritage may be proud to be grafted into Zion through faith in Yeshua.  Still a promise of salvation remains for Israel, even if they may not yet acknowledge the grace being offered to them.  It was natural for many of Israel to be conservative about such an ancient God.  If some human traditions tempt them away from a revelation of grace, they are not deprived of the promise of the prophets.  So could we be in danger of the same spiritual pride by presuming to be better than the Sons of Korah?  Jesus showed us that Jews are the source of salvation, because he was Jewish.

Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.  John 4: 22-24

As God continues to encourage the Sons of Korah to stay near him are we Christians even more guilty of man made doctrines that can separate us from God?  The other sons of Korah perished in the wilderness, and gentiles too are being removed from the tree of life.

And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;  Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.  Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.  Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:  For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.  Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.  For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?  For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.  And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:  For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.  Romans 11:17-27

Today Israel is under a siege of rocket fire.  It seems the aggressor because Hamas is using civilians as shields against air strikes.  The rockets of Gaza seem crude but they have a real mission.  First they turn public opinion against Israel, while forcing their hand.  Secondly they allow technicians to discover the weaknesses of the Iron Dome anti-missile shield.  Dumb rockets are cheap, and the interceptor missiles cost about $60,000 apiece.  But the technology loss could turn the tide of battle.  Fortunately the nations of the world do not understand who the real shield of Israel is.  One day Israel will fully understand who that shield is too.  Those born of Jerusalem will be the first to see.

The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.  In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.  And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.  And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.  In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.Zechariah 12:7-11

As Joseph was presumed dead, so Yeshua was also presumed to be pierced and dead also.  Yet as Joseph, Yeshua will return as the Messiah of Israel, with deliverance and salvation for the Sons of Korah.  They will have time to mourn, and to be forgiven as well.

For the sons of Korah there may be mourning as they identify the temptations that try to remove them from the grace of God.  For the brethren of Yeshua our hope is in daily repentance.  We have entered the house of the Lord by faith in Yeshua.  Are we given a place of honorable service only to consider our own religious rituals more important?  Do we “help” God by gossiping about our neighbors?  Do we leave the house to make an offering at the house of the Accuser of the Brethren?  God wants us to pull back to the safety of his sanctuary.

(A Song or Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leannoth, Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite.)

O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:  Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;  For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.  I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength:  Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.  Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.  Psalm 88:1-6

The unidentified psalmist sings to God, not just about him.  This is the prayer of one who is full of troubles.  This is a bitter lament, not a celebration of life.  The singer is deeply into the blues as he finds himself in the lowest pit of despair.  He  is separated from the source of life, our God.

Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.  Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.  Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.  Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.  Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?  Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?  Psalm 88:7-12

God doesn’t need to strike us for punishment; merely turning from us takes away our hope.  When I was in Scouts our scoutmaster was an imposing and dignified figure.  One night a boy had a nightmare and awakened crying out “Slim won’t look at me!”  How much more do we need affirmation from the creator who breathed life into our world?

This psalmist is expecting death and asks how God would be glorified in a dead world.

But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.  LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?  I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.  Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.  They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together.  Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.  Psalm 88:13-18

I have known elderly men who passed from life both with and without faith in God.  The man of faith seemed demented to some but his scripture and his joy remained intact as he passed through the veil of death.  He had already seed what was awaiting him and he was at peace.  The man who was educated in the world seemed sharp and competent, but his nights and dreams were filled with terrors.  To live in your own strength is the ultimate weakness.

This Psalmist has felt lost, separated from one he esteemed to be a friend and a lover.  The Lord he has cried out to is not without hearing or feeling.  He will not die in despair, for our God is faithful.

So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.  And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.  As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.  Isiah 59:19-21

RESTORATION

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 idf-infantry

FALLEN WARRIORS

Asaph is contributes Psalm 85 and David returns with a prayer in Psalm 86.  For Asaph to write a Psalm for the sons of Korah, he addresses descendants of the survivors of the rebellion in Moses time.  The sons of Korah still served in the temple, in positions of honorable ministry.  They also still possessed free will, and the temptation to stray as their fathers had.

(To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.)

LORD, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.   Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.  Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.  Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.  Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?  Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?  Psalm 85:1-6

Asaph acknowledges the gifts of God and the good history of Israel in his care.  Even as he praises God for past help he is asking that the people be turned back to their old faith.  He sees some anger from God for their ways, and looks for mercy.  Does he hold out hope for the Sons of Korah to turn from their sin?  It seems they retained a few bad ways from the old days.  Still, Asaph does not expect God to hold a grudge forever.

Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation.  I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.  Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.  Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.  Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.  Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.  Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.  Psalm 85:7-13

Asaph offers intercessory prayer for God’s peace to his people and his saints; the masses and the righteous few.  The sons of Korah had been forgiven and he prays they will not return to errors of their elders.  All need to stay on the straight path, forgiven and forgiving.  Prosperity will follow those who follow God.  There is hope for all of us, no matter how our fathers may have failed.

While Asaph offers intercession for others, David is seeking mercy for his own failings.  In both cases we can see that people can have a high place in serving God and still be tempted to fall away.  God’s own people fail daily and need to make the repairs of repentance daily.

(A Prayer of David.)

Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.  Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.  Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.  Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.  For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.   Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.  Psalm 86: 1-6

David submits his personal need and comes humbly to petition God for his needs.  David joins in a relationship with God daily for forgiveness and mercy.  David asks God to hear out his request.

In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.   Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.  All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.  For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.  Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.  I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.  Psalm 86: 7-12

Psalms often come with news of trouble, but God is acknowledged as the cure for all of these.  As the psalmist promises to continue praising God to the world the psalm, or song, gathers energy.  Here David is looking forward to more praise and awareness of the great works has and will do.

For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.  O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them.  But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.  O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid.  Shew me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me.  Psalm 86: 13-17

David already knows that God is merciful because of past victories so he can face the challengers.  The psalm is showing the confidence of the often confirmed compassion of God.  David knows that he needs grace for his failures but he is expecting that help.  He asks for a token, a sign of God’s deliverance which his enemies too can see.  When the world sees the evidence that God’s people are really being favored by God a few are prepared to accept.  This is a token, a warning to the violent and corrupt of the world.  The psalms again move beyond threats to the excitement of God’s personal answer.  This kind of intercession and repentance still works today.

God is more concerned about the righteous falling away, and a few unrighteous may still turn to join us as well.  To praise God produces his intervention and the victories that carry momentum towards our victory.  Let us not forget our own behavior and the warriors on our left and right.  Remember the rewards of serving in the house of God and call our own to follow the banner, the cross.

APPRECIATION

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BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION

Again Asaph is writing this psalm.  He reports on enemy movement and calls on God as an observer directs artillery.  He calls on the Lord’s forces to assure the future of Israel.

(A Song or Psalm of Asaph.)

Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.  For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.  They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.  They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.  For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:  Psalm 83:1-5

Let God speak up against enemies who speak against him and his people.  The enemies of God have formed real conspiracies against Israel.  They seek to exterminate the Jews as so many have before and since.  Many nations have perished in this way.

The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes;   Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre;  Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah. Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison:  Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth.  Psalm 83:6-10

Asaph recognizes the enemies of this day, and compares them to the enemies of the past.  He asks God to leave their new enemies in the same destruction previously allotted to their enemies of old.

Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna:  Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.  O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind.  As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire;  So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm.  Psalm 83:11-15

These new enemies also want to steal the homes of Israel, and also the house of God.  Asaph will accept any of a variety of destructions for their enemies.

Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD.  Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish:  That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.  Psalm 83:16-18

Asaph would shame the enemies of Israel, but only so they will seek the name of God.  Without that name they will be shamed and slain.  The name of the Lord is the source of the salvation that these nations will need.

(To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.)

How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!  My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.  Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.  Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.  Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.  Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. Psalm 84:1-6

The writer dedicates this song to the sons of Korah, which rebelled against God and Moses and were swallowed by the earth.  Had they listened to this psalm they might have embraced the goodness of the house of the Lord.  They had been assigned to care for the house of the Lord and its furnishings, and rejected that lowly role for greed.

This psalmist sings of the joy and wonder of the temple and the honor of living in it.  He sings of the man who has his strength in the ways of God and lives in them.  These men who serve God are blessed.

They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.  O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.  Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.  For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.  For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.  O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee. Psalm 84:7-12

So the man of God who serves in his house lives in strength.  The psalmist asks God to look on his anointed workers.  He treasures a day in the courts of God to be better than a thousand days of freedom.  Even being a lowly doorman is better than to live in sin.  If the sons of Korah could have absorbed these messages they might have praised God for the honor of the station they enjoyed in life.  We who know the Lord should rejoice in every new day we wake to see, and in the eternal days we will embrace in the next life.

CALL TO ARMS

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 Joshua ARMY

BLOW THE TRUMPET

Asaph is writing another psalm.  He may have observed David’s psalms as a pattern for victory in the face of challenges.  He previously described the destruction of Israel and asked God to turn them back to him.

Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.  Psalm 80:19 

Now Asaph seems to recognize a pattern in David’s many exhortations to praise God.  He calls the musicians into battle, as praise music is a primary weapon in spiritual warfare.

(To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of Asaph.) Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.  Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.  Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.  For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.  This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt: where I heard a language that I understood not.  Psalm 81:1-5

Asaph remembers how God ordained the feasts in Egypt, where the people heard the unfamiliar Egyptian language.  Or could this point to an early experience in worship that is later demonstrated in the book of Acts?  Joseph became a prime minister of Egypt; he certainly understood their language.  Did Joseph or Israel witness a special form of worship?

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  Acts2: 1-4

The results of those solemn feasts did manifest deliverance for Israel when their season was accomplished.  They were delivered from the oppression of Egypt.

I removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the pots.  Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah. Selah.  Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me;  There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god.  I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.  Psalm 81:6-10

While Asaph has recognized a path to deliverance, he may not be able to convince his people to come to the living water and drink.  They may not choose to open wide and be filled.

But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.   So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.  Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!  I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.  The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever.  He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.  Psalm 81:11-16

We understand that Egypt would not come to God, but Asaph mourns the failure of God’s people to come to salvation.  Even today religious people trust their own wisdom and dogma over scripture.  Instead of attracting the lost, they attack them, verbally and even violently.  God wants Israel to walk in his way, not their own.  Churches picket and protest, but fail to welcome the lost.  I have news for them:  if there were no sinners there would be no church.  We are called to invite the lost world, not the perfect world.

Asaph now confronts the religious phonies who embrace popularity and men of the world.  He reminds them of the righteous judge who is our God.

(A Psalm of Asaph.) God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.  How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.  Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.  Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.  Psalm 82:1-4

Now Asaph is looking at the conservatives who are not willing to embrace the only name under heaven by which men are saved.  These accept leadership from men who assert influence by their wealth and power.  They are men who abandon all morality in a sacrifice to the gods of the Bohemian Grove. These conspire for power in secrecy among amoral debauchery in the darkest forests of America’s Babylon.

They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.  I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.  But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.  Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.  Psalm 82:5-8

Those dark fools have temporal power and are ignorant of the eternal power over us.  They tip the world into acceptance of all ungodly sin by peer pressure and popularity.  The universe is afflicted, not just the climate of the world.  God has called his church children of God and yet most are deceived back into mortal death by rejecting God’s Word.  These weak believers will die like the amoral men that they follow.  Asaph calls on God to rise to the judgment now, to reclaim his few faithful remnants from among the nations.

THE AFTERMATH

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DESTRUCTION

Asaph is another writer of psalms.  David has just related the history of Israel to his people and they will go on to ignore all of his warnings.  Asaph comes upon the destruction of Israel and this is his lament.  All the nations of today’s world have heard these histories and the warnings they present.  Are we prepared to witness this scene?

(A Psalm of Asaph.)  O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.  The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.  Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them.  We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.  How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?  Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.  Psalm 79:1-6

Asaph reports to God; the enemies of God have invaded his temple.  The temple and the city are defiled and the army of Israel is feeding the buzzards as the bodies are in heaps.   Too many bodies to bury have left Jerusalem a subject of scorn and derision.  Asaph despairs and wonders how long God will be turned away from Israel.  He asks God to redirect his wrath against his enemies instead of his own in Jerusalem.

For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place. O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.  Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.  Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed.  Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;  And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.  So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.  Psalm 79:7-13

Asaph reports the destruction of Israel and their home.  He asks God to forgive their sins and to again show them mercy.  From their low place Asaph asks God to remove their sins and save them if only to reaffirm his own good name.  He asks God why the heathen should disbelieve the God if Israel.  He challenges God to avenge the deaths of the soldiers of Israel by destroying their enemies now.  Asaph asks God to remember the prisoners of war, and to save those sentenced to death.  He promises that Israel will always praise God if he adds seven times the misery of Israel to those who produced that misery.

(To the chief Musician upon Shoshannimeduth, A Psalm of Asaph.)

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.  Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us. Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.  O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?  Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure.  Psalm 80: 1-5

Asaph is aware of the trouble of Israel, and he is also aware of the hope of Israel.  He turns to the God of Israel for help.  The children of Abraham have been defeated and Asaph longs for the comfort of their God.

Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves.  Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.  Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.  Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land.  The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars.  Psalm 80:6-10

Israel is weak against neighbors and they are held in derision by all.  As God led them out of Egypt he can again deliver them.  God had made them as a vine that grows and prospers in the earth.

She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river.  Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?  The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.  Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine;  And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself.  Psalm 80:11-15

When the vine of Israel had grown rich God had removed the protection that preserved the fruit of her vines.  Without the hedge the vines were vulnerable to the wild animals.  As God made the vine Asaph is inviting him to visit the vine of Israel again.

It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance.  Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.  So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.  Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.  Psalm 80:16-19

This vine of Israel is destroyed as if by fire, which is from the rebuke of God.  Is Asaph asking God to raise up a right hand man, a son of man who God made for himself?  Is this another call for Messiah as we heard in David’s psalms?  He is asking God to help the people to stay close to God as they call on his name.  Asaph is confident that asking God for his salvation is their key to life.  Like David, I believe that Asaph heard some revelation from God about their future king and hope as he turned to worship and honoring God.

HERITAGE

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 tabernacle3

REFRESHER COURSE

David could praise God when he was alone or in a small company.  On this occasion he is prepared to give the evidence of God to a larger audience.  He speaks to his people and relates the greatness and glory of God to them.  In this praise he fulfills the mandate to honor God before the generations.  The gathering may be less intimate but the participation of God is assured.

Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.  I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:  Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.  For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:  Psalm 78: 1-5

Israel, I will tell the old parables of our elders and we will teach the children of Israel.  Now in the 21st century we can teach two covenants and witness the unfolding of an eternal one.  We know how to have a relationship with God, not just a bondage in law.

That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:  That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:  And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.  The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.  They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law; And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.  Psalm 78: 6-11

David passed an education system for eternal life that can be passed to our grandchildren.  They may not be as stubborn as we were, they may take these lessons to heart, and to live by.  They need not follow the world into darkness, by ignoring his word and his wonders.

Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.  He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap.  In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire.  He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths. Psalm 78: 12-15

God did amazing miraculous things in the sight of the children of Israel in Egypt.  He parted the sea for them and marked their path with fire and smoke as they travelled.  He gave them living water from the rock of ages.

He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.  And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness.  And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.  Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?  Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?  Psalm 78:16-20

David reminds Israel that their fathers could forget those miracles in a hurry.  The Israel of Moses was rebellious and insulting towards God.  They acknowledged God’s miracles and then questioned his ability to do more.  They challenged him to give them meat to eat.

Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;  Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:  Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven,  And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.  Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full.  Psalm 78:21-25

When God hears this insult he gave them what they wanted, but he was angry in the process.  The food of angels had not satisfied them so he knew they would continue to sin.

He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind.  He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea:  And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations.  So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire;  They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.   Psalm 78:26-31

God gathered the birds like a blizzard of feathers and flesh, but the people continued in sin.  While they were still eating God slew the fattest of them and the great men of them.  It would not change them.

For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.  Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble.  When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God.  And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.  Psalm 78:32-35

David continues to tell Israel of their father’s sins.  When God punished them and slew them they remembered their faith for a season.

Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.  For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.  But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.  For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.  How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!  Psalm 78:36-40

Now Israel was being religious in words but not in their hearts.  They were sinning but God refrained from slaying more of them.  If we did not have grace we too would be in failure mode.  We can tempt God and then remember to repent each day.  That generation did not have the final sacrifice of the Lamb of God in their day.

Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.  They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.  How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan.  And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink.  He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them.  Psalm 78:41-45

This generation had been given the perfect law and all the powerful signs of God’s miracles.  They witnessed the punishment of Egypt and still turned back to the sins of Egypt.  God did not slack off in his demonstration against Egypt either.

He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labour unto the locust.  He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost.  He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts.  He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.  He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence;  Psalm 78:46-50

Here in the western United States weather is a real influence on prosperity.  Nebraska and South Dakota lost herds of cattle to an early blizzard, and we watch the reservoirs for snow and rain that fills them for the summer crops.  Late snows and frosts have people scrambling to cover their tomatoes.  God turned everything against the Egyptians and Israel witnessed their despair and destruction.  But he wasn’t finished yet.

And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham:  But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.  And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.  And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased.  He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.  Psalm 78:51-55

God slew the oldest sons of Egypt and mentions their linage from Ham.  Ham was cursed for viewing his father’s nakedness, and that curse seems to carry through the ages.  The children of Abraham were protected and guided to safety.  When they faced the Canaanites, who were also of Ham, God drove those out of the land before them too.  The world thinks little of nakedness, but it seems Go has his own opinions.  Israel moved from their homes in Egypt to the portable city of tents.

Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies:  But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.  For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.  When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel:  So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men;  And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand.   Psalm 78:56-61

Has Israel witnessed enough power to motivate a change of their bad attitudes?  No, but then I too ignored some powerful warnings before responding to God.  It takes only a brief boredom to provoke us to try the next new temptation.  When God chose the family of his perfect man Abraham he was not willing to witness a teen age rebellion.  Their eastern religions and statues were not part of God’s law and he hated their bad choices.  God withdrew from their hose of worship and removed his safety from them.  The enemies of Israel gained power over them.

He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance.  The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage.  Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation.  Then the LORD awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.  Psalm 78:62-65

The fortunes of war turned against Israel, and they tasted the wrath of God.  Warriors fell and young women had no potential husbands.  Even the priests were slain until God decided to return to Israel.

And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach.  Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim:68 But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved.  And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever.  He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds:  From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.  So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.  Psalm 78:66-72

God performed the work that gave victory back to Israel.  God put the enemies of Israel in retreat but he also made changes in the camp of Israel.  The tribe of Ephraim, the son of Joseph, was rejected from the Tabernacle service in favor of the Temple in Judah.  David and Jerusalem were over Israel and he cared for them as the shepherd he was.

I have watched great churches rise and fall into temptation for many years now.  Some are repentant and are restored to favor.  Others are passed over for promotion and are forgotten forever.  No matter how many gifts a church has it must remember that it needs the Captain of the Host to win our battles.

Balance is found in fellowship with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost:  Prayer, Bible Study, and Christian Fellowship.

BARING ARMS

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IMG_1566DARK LIGHTS 

The bible carries messages in undertones reserved for the spiritually aware.  David sought God in praise and worship and discovered the mind of Christ.  These Psalms are celebrations of his relationship with the messiah who would not appear to the world for centuries to come.  For the righteous the evidence of God is all around us.  Kings and servants all bow before him, but the wicked should not boast against him.  God can speak for himself when he warns them not to boast of themselves.

Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.  When I shall receive the congregation I will judge uprightly.  The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars of it. Selah.  I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn:  Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck.  Psalm 75:1-5

David gives thanks to God by declaring his works to our lost world.  God’s works declare that his name is near; David is again describing his king, a messiah, by outlining his coming greatness.  David is again speaking for messiah as he offers to judge the congregation uprightly.  Who else could bear up the pillars of the earth?  If he tells the unrighteous not to toot their own horn, to be humble, he speaks with authority from above.  God reveals the messiah by painting everything about him and leaving an empty outline of the coming savior.  He is proving God in the way astronomers prove dark matter.  There is an obvious void, a place for messiah in David’s Psalms.

For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.  But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.  For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.  But I will declare for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.  All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off; but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.  Psalm 75:6-10

David points to God as the one who gives glory, not our own good works.  We have no goodness to earn promotion so God delivers prosperity and punishment by his own strength.  David plans only to lift the name of God for the world to hear.  He has faith to trust God and wait for his judgment.

In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel.  In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion.  There brake he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle. Selah.  Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey.  The stouthearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep: and none of the men of might have found their hands.  At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep.  Psalm 76: 1-6

In this age of a new covenant Israel is living in the evidence of God.  The new nation has survived impossible odds in becoming a nation again and surviving their wars.  The powerful opposition of the Nazis and wealthy oil nations has not overthrown the people of God’s promises.

Thou, even thou, art to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?  Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still,  When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah.  Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.  Vow, and pay unto the LORD your God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared.  He shall cut off the spirit of princes: he is terrible to the kings of the earth.  Psalm 76: 7-12

David speaks to God as the judge of mankind.  He expects mankind to be angry, to curse God in this time of hardship.  But the fact of this anger is evidence of God and some will recognize God and others will be prevented from their evil ways.  He who has enough sense to fear God will be honored by him, and no ruler will be able to oppose him.

I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.  In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.  I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.  Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.  Psalm 77: 1-4

David calls out to God in his day of trouble and he hopes to be comforted.  He had to remember God first, as we tend to forget during our busy times.  He is troubled that he knows God and had not called out before this.  God is keeping him awake at nights and David is troubled.  I share these feelings when I put off doing these studies myself.  This is the best way for me to learn, and the greatest reward to be able to share discoveries.  I should be troubled when I neglect the source of our peace.

I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.  I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.  Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?  Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?  Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.  And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.  Psalm 77: 5-10

David remembers the close relationship he had with God in earlier times.  He remembers the songs, even like this psalm, that comforted his nights.  Aren’t the old worship songs a great source of comfort to we who remember the fruit of those old hymnals?  David wonders if God has forsaken him when that relationship has not been kept close.  David acknowledges that this is his failure, but he will remember his way.

I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.  I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.  Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?  Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.  Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.  Psalm 77: 11-15

David purposes to remember the way and to follow the instructions of God.  The Lord’s way is a sanctuary, and we have his word from which to learn his ways.  We also have the wonders, the creation, and the miracles the people have witnessed.  David Is reassured that God has delivered Israel.  The arm of God brings deliverance.

The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled.  The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad.  The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook.  Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.  Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.  Psalm 77: 16-20

David and the people of Israel witnessed and testified about God’s power on the waters and winds.  They also know that this powerful God was their leader who delivered them to safety.

But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:  That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?  Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,  He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.  John 12:37-40

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