My Favorite Psalm

Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth. I do not sit with deceitful men, nor will I go with pretenders. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. I shall wash my hands in innocence, and I will go about Your altar, O LORD, That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders. O LORD, I love the habitation of Your house and the place where Your glory dwells. Do not take my soul away along with sinners, nor my life with men of bloodshed, in whose hands is a wicked scheme, and whose right hand is full of bribes. But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; Redeem me, and be gracious to me. My foot stands on a level place; In the congregations I shall bless the LORD.” (Psalm 26)

If I would have to choose a psalm which has/had the most impact on my life it would have to be Psalm 26. Why? Simply because I would love to be able to say this for myself. I long for it! David’s statements are incredible! I mean, to ask the LORD to prove his innocence?! Come on, “There is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 53:3b). I think verse 8 is my favorite: “O LORD, I love the habitation of Your house and the place where Your glory dwells.” This is an amazing verse to meditate on and to be used for when you want to worship God, when you are thankful to God, when you feel the beauty of Christ’s completed work in your life, when you repent, etc. I need to be reminded often of this psalm and its beauty and its truth, and renew my mind with it. Wouldn’t it be a great testimony to God for generations to come if my epitaph would say something like: “Here lies Marc. A godly man who walked with integrity and trusted in the LORD without wavering”? Oh well, there is a long way to go, but “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in [me] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)

Psalm #2 – A Cosmic War

Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’ He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, you shall shatter them like earthenware.’ Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2)

This psalm is the first of the so-called Messianic psalms, meaning that it speaks prophetically about the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the anointed One. It is a testimony to the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. Jesus Himself said that the psalms spoke of Him. In Luke 24:44 we read, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled“. This psalm talks about Jesus as the Son of God, His office as king over heaven and earth, and that they will wage war against Him. If you read the psalm carefully you will see that it is build up in four parts, and that each part is a different voice.

The Voice of the Nations
Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!‘” (Psalm 2:1-3)
Their is a fight going on. The kings of the earth have taken their stand and counsel together against God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. You could say this began in the time of Babel when men took counsel together, thinking that when mankind is united they have a better change against God. This is also seen in the Book of Acts when the first persecution broke out against the church, we’re told that the apostles, Peter and John, after they had been threatened, returned back to the church to give their report. Here is this movement, beginning when Pilate joined up with the religious rulers and Herod in order to put Jesus to death. This is a movement against God and Christ, and it is heading for a climax. In Acts 4:24-28 we read, “And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, ‘O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, ‘why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futile things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’ For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” This is obviously a vain thing to do, thinking that you can win from God. Yet Satan thought he could do it, and Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matthew 12:30), and so the vain thing is very much a reality we have to deal with.

And what are the shackles and cords that is talked about? Those who oppose the Lord think of God that He is someone who brings bondage. The Ten Commandments, the rule of the Law of the Old Testament, marriage, heterosexuality can all be considered, by the unbeliever, cords by which we are bound. Yet Paul says, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:22-23). And Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17), and in answer to the question what the greatest commandment in the Law is, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). To love the Lord is freedom. Freedom from the bondage of sin (freedom from “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:16)), and freedom from eternal punishment and wrath.

The Voice of the Father
He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain” (Psalm 2:4-6)
I love this verse. God looks at man and how he tries to plot against Him, and just laughs. He’s not afraid, confused or depressed. He laughs. He isn’t pacing back and forth in the throne room of heaven, wondering what He should do next. He laughs. God sits in perfect peace and assurance, yet doesn’t remain inactive. He laughs, but not only laughs. He takes action. Yet before He acts, He speaks. I think great mmercy is shown by God here. He has every reason to act against man, but in His love and mercy He speaks a word of warning. He speaks of a way out. He has set a king upon His holy mountain, Jesus! A beautiful passage can be found in Isaiah which is worth mentioning here. “I have not spoken in secret, in some dark land; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in a waste place’; I, the LORD, speak righteousness, declaring things that are upright. Gather yourselves and come; draw near together, you fugitives of the nations; they have no knowledge, who carry about their wooden idol and pray to a god who cannot save. Declare and set forth your case; indeed, let them consult together who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none except Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. They will say of Me, ‘only in the LORD are righteousness and strength’ Men will come to Him, and all who were angry at Him will be put to shame.” (Isaiah 45:19-24).

The Voice of the Son
I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, you shall shatter them like earthenware.’” (Psalm 2:7-9)
It is completely in line with how the Son, Jesus, relates to the Father. Jesus Himself said, “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49). He echoes and confirms the promise of the Father to us. Jesus remembers what God the Father said to Him, identifying Him as the Son of the Father. To beget means to procreate or generate offspring. Jesus was not created, rather He created everything that was created (Colossians 1:16-17). God the Father “has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22). We read in Revelation what happens when Jesus returns: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords'” (Revelation 19:11-16).

The Voice of the Spirit
Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:10-12)
In this last part of the psalm we see the Holy Spirit taking on the role as counselor, and counsels the kings of the earth to give up their foolish attempts to overthrow God. He instructs them to worship the Lord with reverance and rejoice with trembling, to surrender to God and give Him the proper reverence. In Psalm 5:7 it says “but as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house, at Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.” The Hebrew says to kiss (nashaq) the Son. The root of this word means “to catch fire, burn, kindle,” and so paying homage is a proper context here.

Where Psalm 1 begins with a beatitude, Psalm 2 ends with one. Verse 10 talks about the mind. We should show discernment and take warning. The “counsel of the wicked” (Psalm 1:1) has led the ungodly astray. “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20). Verse 11 talks about the heart. We should worship Jesus! Verse 12 talks about the will. We should surrender to Jesus. “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered” (Joel 2:32), because “the LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.” (Nahum 1:7). Beautiful!

Psalm #1 – An Important Contrast

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1)

What a beautiful and important way to open the book of Psalms. To contrast the way of the righteous and the unrighteous, and the results of either choice. This first psalm is about two men: the blessed, righteous, godly man who is “in Christ”, and the wicked, scoffing, unrighteous man who is “in Adam”. Two men, two ways, two destinies.

What the Righteous Man Does Not Do
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” (Psalm 1:1)
The word ‘blessed’ in Hebrew is ‘esher,’ and means “to be straight, or right”. The context talks about a man being right with God. The man who is right with God does not do certain things. First of all the righteous man knows how to stay away from bad counsel. I think especially in our world today this is very important. We get input from so many different sources, like colleagues, family, television, Internet, media, etc. How often do we really consider whether the counsel given is godly or ungodly? We often either agree or disagree, but do we really discern? This is also the case when counsel comes from one’s self. Our own conscience, mind or heart can give us ungodly counsel. How do we deal with this? We should discern that for godly counsel we should always go to God’s Word, the Bible, because it’s there where truth is found. One key to spiritual growth is turning to God and turning away from the kind of people who draw us into temptation. When it says that the righteous man does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, it also refers to walking in the spiritual sense. The apostle Paul implores us “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1), and “that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind” (Ephesians 4:17), but to “walk in love, just as Christ also loved you” (Ephesians 5:2), to “walk as children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8), and to “be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15). When we fail to study and apply God’s Word, we tend to drift through life or follow those who do not follow God. If we are not careful to guide our lives by God’s Word, we will be tossed around by every new fad or philosophy that comes our way.

Secondly, when it says to not stand in the path of sinners, it basically means that the righteous man chooses a different path, opposite of the unrighteous’ path. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). The righteous man walks a certain direction. He knows the direction sinners take and does not take the same way. He takes the road less traveled instead. Jesus said in Matthew 7:13 to “enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” The righteous man seeks God for the path to take. He says to God: “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11).

Thirdly, the righteous man does not sit in the seat of scoffers. Who are the scoffers? Those who reject God, the atheists who are in denial, those who only partly accept the truth (like acceping God, but not Jesus), those who willingly ignorant and blind towards intelligent design, which they ascribe to randomness. The scoffers love to sit and critize the people of God and the things of God. The righteous man should not join them. We have to remember that the righteous man sits in the seat of the scornful, and he should not switch sides. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12), yet “who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35)

It’s interesting to see the progression here, from walking (towards them), standing (among them), and finally sitting (in their seats). Cut out the walking towards them, eliminates the fear of standing among them or sitting in their seats. What a challenge!

What the Righteous Man Does
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2)
I think this verse is very confronting, because it reveals the heart. To delight in something is to have a high or extreme degree of pleasure or enjoyment in something. What gives you extreme pleasure? What do you make sacrifices for? What do you worship? Is it the Word of God? Or is some false god that you idolize? I would also say that if you delight in something you just want to do it all the time. You make time for it. You hunger for it. And so the righteous man does not only delights in reading the Bible, he also wants to think about it, feel it in his heart, apply it. His mind wants to be filled with the Word of God, so he can meditate on it day and night, even when he is not reading the Bible. That way he always has the sword ready for any circumstance that may come his way. “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16)

The Blessing of the Righteous Man
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:3)
If I think of a tree by a river, I think of a tree that has been there a long time, with root reaching deep into the ground. A tree by a river always has what it needs: water. And because of that it’s strong and stable. This is exactly what the righteous man is, strong and stable. Because he has firmly planted himself in the Living Water, the Bible, God, his roots reach deep into the ground, and he bears much fruit because of it. Yes, leaves will fall, seasons come and go, but in the end he will prosper because his source is Living Water.

The Way of the Unrighteous
The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away” (Psalm 1:4)
The unrighteous basically is the opposite of the righteous. Whereas the tree is strong and stable, Charles H. Spurgeon says of chaff that it is “intrinsically worthless, dead, unserviceable, without substance, and easily carried away”. It may seem at times that the unrighteous has more than the righteous, but it only a temporal thing, it doesn’t carry any weight, and will not hold in judgment. The righteous man should always aim to bear much fruit. When he stops bearing fruit, it is because something happens to the roots (Matthew 11:13,14,20).

Conclusion
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:5-6)
We don’t want to think about judgment, believer and unbeliever alike. Yet this does not changes the truth that there will be judgment nonetheless. For the believer in Christ, the righteous, blessed man there is no judgment of sin, for “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), but for the unbeliever, the unrighteous, ungodly, wicked scoffer, there is “a terrifying expectation of judgment” (Hebrews 10:27). It is said in Psalm 37:18 that “the Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever“. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me” (John 10:14), “but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him” (2 Corinthians 8:3). It is awesome to be known by God, and it should be our goal in life to live righteous, to not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers.

In closing, let’s heed the advice from the apostle Paul, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” (Galatians 4:9).