July 19th Psalm 53
Maschil A Psalm of David
1: The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good. 2: God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. 3: Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 4: Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread: they have not called upon God. 5: There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them. 6: Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.
To the chief musician on Neginoth
Mascil, A Psalm of David when the Ziphims came and said to Saul Dot not David hid himself with us?
1: Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength. 2: Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. 3: For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them. Selah. 4: Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul. 5: He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth. 6: I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good. 7: For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.
To the chief musician on Neginoth
Today I thought I might give a personal account of my feelings regarding these Psalms. These Bible readings and my brief commentary have been a great blessing to me, more than anyone can imagine and when I was in narrative passages I found them to be challenging – it’s all been challenging, but the Psalms as they came nearer and near were very daunting. It’s easy to talk about events in a story but these psalms are the cries of a soul in intimate relation to the Lord. So I knew that I would be on holy ground. I must have felt like the mother whose house was invaded by the Ark of the Covenant. That dark blood stained box, symbolic of the presence of God and only recently it had meant the death of a careless but well meaning man, who had put out his hand and just touched it. How would she keep her little ones from touching something that meant instant death? However to her surprise the coming into her home of this dreaded box brought peace, blessing and fruitfulness, so that after a while it became apparent that the blessing of God was on those who were in the presence of God. These Psalms have come into my life like that. I was slightly afraid of the presence of God that I would discover in their pages but I have found nothing to be afraid there, only blessing beyond description and the Lord has sore broken my heart and softened my spirit, so that I can weep in thankfulness for God who loves me as he did to his servant David long ago.
So today we have been reading Psalm 53 and 54. In Psalm 53 David gives a Maschil which means a Psalm of teaching. David in this Psalm is doing what he said he would do in Psalm 51. He is teaching transgressors the ways of the Lord so that sinners might be converted unto the Lord. Conversion in this context is not salvation as NT believers understand it, but it is the reformation of life style that those who fear the Lord experienced under law. So, David begins by saying that the man who says in his mind there is no God is just a fool. There is nothing intelligent or honourable about denying the existence of God or living as if God will not hold one accountable. Then David goes further and he reveals something that every Atheist would deny. He says they are corrupt and they have done abominable things. An abomination is something that stinks. This word means the fowl stench of a dead putrefying body. In Gods sight the life of an atheist stinks! None of them do good. Why is that true David? Because the only force in the world turning bad men good is the fear of the Lord. This was the case in David’s day but now the means of changing bad men into good is by the operation of the Holy Spirit in the soul of those who have believed in Christ as their Saviour. And those who live without God get worse and worse. There is nothing honourable about atheism. No atheist lives righteously before God. And says David God looks down on all the sons of Adam to see if there is any that truly understand these things and really seeks after the Lord. And he discovers that everyone has turned away from the Lord. And they have made themselves filthy in Gods sight. None of them keep the Mosaic Law, not even one. Have these men who do evil no knowledge of God? They eat other people just as if they are eating bread and they have never prayed to the Lord. Atheism leads to self centeredness. Then David says, the Lord has sent fear among them, when there was not normally anything to be afraid of. Because God had destroyed them and scattered the bones of those that forget Him. He has put them to open shame because they are despised by God. The Lord has no respect for atheists. Then David’s mind switches to Israel and he says, if only the Lord would deliver his people from out of Zion. Because when God sets his people free they will rejoice and be full of joy. This Psalm was sent to the Choir master after the Lord had acted in judgment. Then we turned to Psalm 54. Again this Psalm is a Maschil A Psalm of instruction and it was penned by David at a time when the Ziphims went to Saul to betray the location of David’s secret camp. David true to form does not turn to men but he turns to the Lord. He says save me O God. Do it because you are known to be my Saviour and bring justice to me according to your great power. Hear my prayer O Lord and listen to the words that I speak with my mouth. Isn’t it a wonderful thought that the God of heaven will hear the words that we whisper with our lips? David says, hear me because complete strangers have risen up to oppose me and they want to kill me if they can. They do not have you before them – Think about that ! Look everyone – God is my helper and he is with all those who are on my side. And he will reward evil to those who become my enemies - he will kill them in his righteous justice. And so says David, I will sacrifice with fear to the Lord and I will praise your name O LORD because you are good. You have delivered me out of all my trouble and my eye has seen your wishes carried out against all my enemies. This Psalm was sent to the Choir master after the Lord had destroyed David’s enemies.