Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Psalms 56-76|
Passage: Psalm 73:1-12
A. Find Out:
1. What declaration does the psalmist first make? v.1
2. But what had happened to him and how? v.2,3
3. What had he envied, but what was their outworking? v.4-6
4. What sort of hearts led them to do what? v.7-9
5. What did they say? v.11
6. So what was it that he had been envious about? v.12
1. What had nearly been the psalmists downfall?
2. What specific things had got to him?
3. Yet what does he acknowledge about them?
This, you will note, is a psalm of Asaph, presumably the Asaph who had been David's prophetic worship leader (see 1 Chron 15). This is a remarkably honest psalm about the stirrings of heart that had been his. It concerns a problem many of us face: how can the wicked be rich and get away with it before God?
He first of all declares God's goodness but recognises that God's blessing is for the pure in heart (v.1) those who are all out for God. Then he confesses he had almost fallen (v.2) as he had struggled with envy (v.3) as he looked and saw the prosperity of the wicked. He looked at their lives and saw that in their prosperity they seemed healthy and strong (v.4) and free from the problems that the common man suffered (v.5). It was this that really got to him. Why can't my life be like that is a common temptation? But then as he looked on them he recognised pride in them (v.6a) and saw that that pride led them to violence (v.6b). He saw that their hearts were hard and callous (v.7) and therefore didn't worry about doing wrong. Their pride also led them to speak maliciously and threaten others (v.8). They boasted (v.9), they led others astray (v.10) and mocked God (v.11). Yet still their affluence got to him! (v.12). It is a common temptation and we'll see how he resolves it tomorrow in the second half of the psalm.
1. Don't only see the good side of prosperity, see the whole picture.
2. Realise the temptations that come with affluence and resist them.
Passage: Psalm 73:13-28
A. Find Out:
1. Why did the psalmist feel he'd been wasting his time? v.13,14
2. What did he feel about his thinking and speaking? v.15,16
3. When did change come? v.17
4. What did he then realise about the wicked? v.18-20
5. How did he view how he had been? v.21,22
6. What did he realise about himself? v.23-26
7. How was he contrasted with the wicked? v.27,28
1. What has the psalmist previously thought about his life?
2. What did he come to see?
3. What had been the turning point/
Yesterday we saw the psalmist envying the wicked who had become prosperous. Now he continues, first of all bemoaning his own state, feeling it's been a waste of time seeking to be pure (v.13), for trials and troubles still have befallen him (v.14). He had sought to understand but to no avail (v.16) and he feared if he said anything it would lead others of God's children astray (v.15). But then he went to the Temple to seek God (v.17) and in God's presence all became clear.
There he realised first that God would hold the wicked accountable and He would deal with them (v.18-20). He also realised what an awful state he had been in (v.21,22). As it all became clear he realised what a wonderful relationship with the Lord (v.23-26) he had and rejoiced in that. Yes, he saw the contrast between the wicked who will be judged (v.27) and himself who is blessed in God's presence (v.28). Suddenly all is clear!
In the midst of trials in this Fallen World, in the face of the wicked apparently getting away with their wicked deeds and getting richer and richer, it is easy to fall prey to wrong thoughts. The remedy is to seek the Lord, and spend time in His presence. Before the Lord all things become clear.
1. The world can appear confusing.
2. For clarity, spend time in the Lord's presence.
Passage: Psalm 74:1-11
A. Find Out:
1. What does the psalmist ask the Lord? v.1
2. What does he ask about his people? v.2
3. What does he ask the Lord to do? v.3
4. What had their enemies done? v.4-8
5. How are they bereft? v.9
6. So what does he ask of the Lord? v.10,11
1. What does the psalmist feel has happened?
3. What is his remedy?
The Temple has been utterly destroyed and the Exile has happened. There appears no future whatsoever for Israel (v.1a). It is in one sense a cry of ignorance for Jeremiah had been warning Jerusalem again and again to repent to avoid the coming destruction, but that had not heeded the warning, and the destruction had come (v.4-8) as their enemies had plundered the city and the Temple and burnt it to the ground (v.7). Because the Temple had been the meeting place between God and people, now that is gone, there seems no future possibility of relationship with the Lord.
Yet still the psalmist cries out. His first plea is to remember the past, to remember what He had created, this people of old (v.2a) who he had redeemed from Egypt (v.2b) and remember Jerusalem where He had met with His people (v.2c). Look at these ruins (v.3), look at what is left, see the awfulness of your inheritance (implied).
Yes, the enemy had come in terrible destruction (v.4-8) and all places where the Lord was worshipped have been removed (v.8b) and even worse, there seems not a prophet left to bring them any word from the Lord (v.9a) so this is a time of uncertainty (v.9b). Yet there is a hint here that the psalmist knows that this will not be for ever, but still he cries, “How long will you tolerate the enemy's apparent triumph?”
1. When God judges, the future is in His hands.
2. With judgment we must pray for mercy.
Passage: Psalm 74:12-23
A. Find Out:
1. Yet how does the psalmist see the Lord? v.12
2. How does he remember Him? v.13-17
3. What does he ask the Lord to remember? v.18,20,22b
4. What does he ask the Lord to do negatively? v.19,21,23
5. What does he ask the Lord to do positively? v.22
1. What are the purposes of verses 12-19
2. How many things does he ask the Lord in verses 18-23
3. What is his ultimate desire?
In the first 11 verses of the psalm we saw the psalmist anguishing over what has happened to Jerusalem and the temple. He ended those verses questioning the Lord who long He would let His enemies get away with it.
Now he affirms the Lord's greatness. He first declares that the Lord is his king who brings salvation (v.12). He then extols the Lord as the all-powerful Creator of all things (v.13-17). The implication must surely be that nothing or no one is too difficult for the Lord to deal with.
He then moves on to make 8 requests (8, the number of resurrection?) He asks the Lord to remember how His enemies have been behaving, to take note of what they have been saying and doing (v.18,22). He asks the Lord to preserve His people (v.19a) and then not to appear to forget or abandon them (v.19b). He asks the Lord, and this seems pivotal, to remember His covenant with Israel and with the Land, because the land is now being abused (v.20) with violence. it is not as it was designed to be! He asks the Lord to act on behalf of the oppressed, the weak and the needy (v.21) who are always on the Lord's heart. He asks the Lord to take note of the noise of the enemy (v.23) who, presumably, are rejoicing over their plunder, and his ultimate plea is for the Lord to come and defend Israel and the land (v.22), that which the Lord has worked for, for so long.
1. The Lord judges but does not abandon His people.
2. Appeal to the Lord on the basis of His covenant.
Passage: Psalm 75
A. Find Out:
1. Why do we give thanks to the Lord? v.1
2. What does the Lord do, and with what effect? v.2,3
3. Who does he warn and what does he say? v.4,5
4. What cannot happen anywhere on the earth? v.6
5. For what does God do? v.7,8
6. What will the psalmist do as a consequence? v.9,10
1. How is God revealed in this psalm?
2. How is man revealed?
3. Thus what warnings come?
The psalmist is aware of the ACTIVITY OF THE LORD. He first of all gives thanks because the Lord has come near and whenever we can say that it involves the Lord doing things (v.1). The Lord decides the time to act (v.2) and although sometimes the earth seems to shake, the Lord holds everything in place (v.3). Thus, when the Lord acts, He acts on the basis of His wisdom (he judges wisely what to do) and He upholds the world as well as bringing disciplinary judgement.
When we compare man to God we realise we have no grounds for boasting (v.4) and so it is only the foolish and arrogant person who will boast. It is only the wicked who is foolish enough to lift up his position and power (horns, v.4,5) as if to challenge God. No, the truth is that nobody anywhere on the earth can exalt or lift up a person to challenge God (implied, v.6). We cannot lift up ourselves except by the grace of God for the Lord is the One who lifts up and pulls down (v.7). The Lord is the One who judges the earth (v.8)
The response of the psalmist is to praise the Lord (v.9). He has come to this understanding. He knows God's greatness, he's seen God's activity and man's smallness and so he will respond accordingly and an appropriate response is praise. In terms of daily life it is to come against wickedness and work for righteousness (v.10).
1. May I never let pride rise up and fool me into exalting myself.
2. The Lord is the One who oversees all things and all people.
Passage: Psalm 76
A. Find Out:
1. Where is God known and where is His dwelling place? v.1,2
2. What did He do there? v.3,5,6
3. How is He described? v.4
4. What responses does His activity evoke? v.7-10
5. What exhortation is given as a result? v.11
6. Why? v.12
1. What particular activity of the Lord is at the heart of this psalm?
2. What does that say about Him?
3. What does it say about what our response to Him should be?
This is a psalm about the might and power of God as it is directed against His enemies, the enemies of Israel . Asaph first focuses the Lord's activity on Zion or Salem or Jerusalem, the various names by which the chief city of Israel went by (v.1,2). Immediately he speaks of the Lord's activity in coming against soldiers in war (v.2), utterly defeating them (v.5,6). The Lord simply has to speak a word (v.6) and they are brought down. The Lord stands above all the inhabitants of the earth dressed in light (v.4) and clearly stands out as The Glorious One.
As the psalmist ponders what has happened (for obviously he has some past example in mind where the Lord came and delivered Jerusalem ), he declares that no one can stand before the Lord (v.7) when the Lord is roused on Jerusalem 's behalf. He speaks a word of judgement from heaven against His enemies (v.8) and all was quiet in the anticipation of His awful power being released in the land on Jerusalem's behalf (v.8,9). At the end of His activity there is praise from His people (v.10).
With this in mind, the psalmist calls to all who hear him, and calls us to commit ourselves to the Lord and come into a right relationship with the Lord (v.11). For why? Because if we don't the Lord will deal with us as He does with all who oppose Him (implied).
1. The Lord fights on the side of His people.
RECAP - Psalms 73 - 76
Yet again we continue to simply produce a table as a reminder of what we have recently been reading in the Summary, and then a similar table in the Lessons. Next to the study numbers, the letter indicates the writer. A = Asaph
It is likely that the designation ‘Asaph' does not refer to the single person who was one of David prophetic song leaders, but simply for or from the songsters of Israel, for at least one of these psalms appears to speak of the destruction of Israel that happened many centuries after David. These four psalms are calls to maintain perspective in a variety of ways.
Lord, thank you for the life you have allowed me to have. Thank you that when problems occur, you promise your wisdom (Jas 1:5). Thank you that you will rescue me because I am your child. You alone are Lord and you love me and protect me, your child.
Reminder-Summary of the Theme of the Psalms
Struggling with Opposition
1 Samuel, chapter 16 onwards, tells us of David on the run from Saul. Once he eventually became King, still life wasn't easy. Absalom, one of his sons rose up against him. His wasn't an easy reign, yet he was God's man, chosen and anointed by God, following the 'head and shoulders', appointed-by-men, king Saul. To follow him would come his son Solomon, who would inherit the peaceful land, but it was only peaceful because David had fought and triumphed over his enemies.
Today our opposition comes because we are Christians. Depending where we live in the world that opposition will vary from all-out persecution, to simple derision. Nevertheless, because we all like to be liked, we still suffer and still struggle against enemy opposition. The apostle Paul said, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12). For this reason we too will find ourselves crying out to the Lord sometimes, in the same way as David. Sometimes we too will feel weak and vulnerable.
People of Testimony
Whether we are going through trials and tribulations, or through times of ease, we are called to be a people of testimony. The apostle Peter write, “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pet 2:9) At all times we are to be Jesus' witnesses (Acts 1:8) and to testify to what we know (see 1 Jn 1:1-3). However when we are feeling down or under attack, it is especially important to declare the truths of God, the things we know about Him.
Living at this point in history
The psalms remind us that these writers were living at particular times in history and every time is unique. Something different is happening and we have to learn to cope with whatever is going on. Sometimes, as we've noted above they were times of opposition, even of destruction, sometimes of great victory. Whatever is going on, we are called to be those who bear witness to the Lord and who call on the Lord and who respond as His ambassadors to this part of history.