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Passage: Psalms 9-16

On Friday, June 24, 2022, Yujin wrote,

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:13-16).

Today, the Supreme Court in a 6-3 (really 5-4 with wishy-washy John Roberts) decision overturned the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized child sacrifice in America! It's been fifty years! Some of you have been praying with me for this very thing for as long as we can remember. We voted for presidents with this as the central issue. It was my number one reason for voting for Donald J. Trump in 2016. He installed three pro-life justices to the Supreme Court, so that if by God's grace the issue came before the Supreme Court, they would vote rightly, and they did. Hallelujah! 

Now, let's pray that every state will follow suit and outlaw the murder of unborn children. And let's pray that churches and Christians everywhere will also provide encouragement and support to help women with "unwanted" babies to bring them to term and connect them with a godly home. As America turns toward the LORD, I believe the LORD will turn toward America. "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you" (James 4:8).

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD! (Psalm 33:12)

Passage: Psalms 9-16

On Monday, June 24, 2013, Yujin wrote,

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds;
There is no one who does good.
The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
To see if there are any who understand,
Who seek after God.
They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt;
There is no one who does good, not even one (Psalm 14:1-3).

Psalm 14 is an interesting psalm, because it is only the psalm that is repeated verbatim in another psalm, namely, Psalm 53. They are also both composed by David. Was this a mistake? When they put together the psalter, did they just make an oversight and include this psalm twice? I don't believe that it was a mistake. 

Just as elsewhere in the Bible, repetition was made for emphasis. Here too, I believe the repetition of the psalm was designed to emphasize, remind, and altogether get our attention. What is the point of the psalm? Once again, we discover this in the repetition of words and parallel thoughts:

No one seeks after God. No one does what is good.

All, every one, is evil. No one, not even one, does good. This psalm provides the proper perspective of the universal state of mankind apart from God's grace. This is also why Jesus says and then says again, "No one can come to Me unless the Father has enabled them (John 6:44, 65). These psalms are also the basis for Paul's argument in Romans 3 that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). 

This is also why I am so adamant to correct the wrong teaching that people can choose God as an act of their own free will. It directly contradicts these and many other Scriptures that clearly teach that no one, not even one person, seeks after God. In fact, these Scriptures teach that apart from God's initiating work of grace, everyone would not only not seek God, but they would be in a hurry to go the other way.

I must confess that I am somewhat baffled by those that so stubbonly cling to their notion of "free will" in salvation. This stubborness extends to pastors as well as to laymen. It is all the more baffling in view of the clear testimony of Scripture. It is no mere battle of some Scriptures defend one view while others defend another view. There are no Scriptures that support free will in salvation. Every one they claim may support "will"or "choice," but not "free will" and not "free choice." Every creature can speak, but we speak English, because it has been taught to us. Every creature has choice, but we only choose salvation because God has first enabled us to do so.

Why is this not clear to everyone? Could it be because not all of those who think they are saved are truly saved? I fear that those that stubbornly hold on to their conviction that their salvation relies on the free exercise of their wills may be found to have come short of God's salvation by grace.

Someone may say, "What about faith? We are saved through faith." What about it? Faith is a gift of God. Are you trying to argue that saving faith is not a gift from God, that it was yours from beginning to end, so that it is merely another word for "free will"? There is no support for this in the Scriptures. Ephesians 2:8-9 clearly shows that every part of salvation is a gift of God, so that there is absolutely no room for any kind of boasting.

If you can claim to have chosen God of your own free will, are you not more discerning than another, who chose to reject God? Isn't this a reason to boast? If you also believe that Christ died for the whole world, then the only thing that really separates you from the unsaved is simply your decision to choose Christ over their decision to reject Him. So all of salvation hinges on your free will. Is this not something to your credit? And, thus, is this not a kind of boast?

I would daresay, these people would argue that even God cannot violate human free will. Remember the movie "Bruce Almighty." God gave Bruce all His powers, but he could not make the love of his life love him, because as Morgan Freeman, who plays God, says, 'Even God cannot violate a person's free will'. Who is truly God here? I'm not saying that by this the movie teaches that people are God. But does it not suggest that "free will" is God? Isn't this just a subtle but pernicious form of idolatry.

Let us all be discerning!

Passage: Psalms 9-16

On Friday, June 24, 2011, Yujin wrote,

Friends, we read in Psalm 9:17-18 (NKJV):

17 The wicked shall be turned into hell,
         And all the nations that forget God.
 18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten;
         The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.

Compare this to the NIV version:

17 The wicked go down to the realm of the dead,
   all the nations that forget God.
18 But God will never forget the needy;
   the hope of the afflicted will never perish.

I actually prefer the NKJV translation over the NIV. While it is true that "hell" often represents the grave, and that may be all that is expressed here, the Psalmist seems to suggest here something more than simply death, even a final end, a final destruction. After all, if only death is in view, even the needy die.

Also, note how the NIV smooths out the awkward "shall not always be forgotten" into "will never forget" and "shall not perish forever" into "will never perish." The only problem is that this changes the meaning. Often the Lord allows the needy and the righteous to suffer, even for a long time, and sometimes even a lifetime. In view of this, to speak of God "never forgetting" or the needy "never perishing" seems absurd. The more literal rendering captures the correct sense, which is that they will not always be forgotten and they will not always perish. In other words, there will be a time of redemption, an end to suffering, which will make all that was suffered in this life as nothing in comparision (cf. Romans 8:18; 1 Peter 9:3-9; Psalm 73).

I encourage you all to try to read different translations from time to time. You can easily do this through this site just by selecting it in the search box above the daily readings. And if you want to set a new default translation, you can do this through the Account link on the top navigation bar. Remember, every translation is an interpretation. While we are not all Hebrew or Greek scholars to independently judge the work of those that have given us these translations, we can compare versions and then apply the most important test of all in determining meaning, namely, the test of context.

Now, back to our text. Why is all this discussion meaningful for us? Some of us suffer or have suffered hardships. Some have suffered for a long time. Some have suffered their whole lives without any reprieve and perhaps have even died a horrible death. It is meaningful to know that this is not the end of the story, that our suffering, while long, will not be forever. God may have seemed to have forgotten us for a time, but He has not completely forgotten us. Consider Christ, "who for the joy set before Him endured the cross..." (Hebrews 12:2-3). Many people who read "God will never forget" and "the needy will never perish" have this false notion that people who suffer any length of time must necessarily be out of God's will. Like Job's friends, they insist that you must confess your sins if you want to prosper again. But little do they consider that even in the words "the needy will never perish" that those that are given this promise are already "needy" in the first place. Are we then to assume that all of these needy, who the Psalmist contrasts with the wicked, are also wicked themselves, and that is why they are needy?

[Aside: Now, there is something to be said for the promise of prosperity as it relates to those that lived under the Mosaic Covenant in the Land of Promise; however, since Israel as a nation could never fully obey this covenant, they knew mostly curses throughout their history. And for us, who are no longer under the Mosaic Covenant, it is improper for us to try to claim any of the blessings associated with it.]

My friends, it is better to not put your hope in anything in this life and world, which are passing away. As Jesus taught, Set your heart on things above" (cf. Matthew 6:19-21; Colossians 3:1-4; 1 John 2:15-17).

Passage: Psalms 9-16

On Saturday, June 26, 2010, Fernando wrote,

As I read the 10th Psalm, I reflected how I often bounce between "Give Us Mercy!" to "Punish the ungodly"

I want mercy for everyone and times I just want to have a place solidly aware of God, including within me.

But because God IS merciful he will come rolling along as a cloud of destruction right up to you door, and if repentance comes, he will yield. Its the ones that would not yield that should get the mercy, just as God does.

In other words, I like that God isn't reactive to my feelings, shedding wrath when I am angry or hurt, and mercy when I am willing.  But I can ask all these things knowing it will be filtered and done according to Perfection - and others I may have offended :-) 

Psalm 12

'Help Lord for the godly are disappearing! cut off their flattering lips and boastful tongues'

It reminds me of Jesus saying cut out your tongue if it causes you to sin, or your eye.  And what Pastor James Stuart wrote:

"His presence at the innocent gaiety of a village wedding, was like the presence of sunshine. No one was half so kind or compassionate to sinners, yet no one ever spoke such red-hot scorching words about sin. A bruised reed he would not break. His whole life was love. 

And a little sticker I have with Calvin (From Calvin and Hobbes)

"Love the sinner, Hate the sin."

Passage: Psalms 9-16

On Thursday, June 24, 2010 (Last Updated on 6/23/2020), Fernando wrote,

Chap 8 says 'you made man a little below Elohim... Some say God, some say angels.. How is Elohim interchangeable. What does elohim mean? Creator or something right?

Yujin responds... Elohim is the Hebrew word for "God" or "gods." It is in the plural number, so some have suggested that the Trinity(i.e. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit) is captured within the idea of "God." Others have suggested that rather than the Trinity, it is simply a plural of majesty or intensity, carrying a similar sense of glorious weight as when the word "holy" is repeated three times by the seraphim in Isaiah's text when addresseing the LORD. However, this word is also used of the false "gods" of the nations. Only the context reveals which way the biblical writer is using the word.

Now, with respect to Psalm 8 being translated as "angels" by some translations while others translate it as "God", this presents a bit of a grammatical and theological conundrum of sorts. In the Hebrew, elohim is nowhere else translated as "angels". However, the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew, the Septuagint (LXX), which appears to have been the primary resource for most of the New Testament writers, the word is translated as "angels" and not "God" or "gods". The most persuasive case for "angels" must be the New Testament understanding of Psalm 8:5, which we find cited in Hebrews 2:7, which reads, "You made them a little lower than the angels."

While elohim is normally understood as "God" or "gods," the latter sense can carry the idea of angels, even fallen angels (i.e. demons).

That human beings were made a little lower than the angels is not so hard to grasp and perhaps much more theologically feasible than human beings being made a little lower than God. First of all, God can never be considered among those "made." What is more, the whole rest of Scripture teaches just the opposite, namely, that there is a great gulf between God and human beings. As God Himself declares,

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts (Psalm 55:8-9).

What is interesting is how Hebrews 2 cites and explains Psalm 8:5. There, the writer of Hebrews is describing the superiority of Jesus over angels; however, in doing so, he references Psalm 8:5. It would be simple enough for him to make the case that Psalm 8:5 was Messianic and that, unlike the angels, Jesus was a little lower than God. But he does not do this. Instead he rightly interprets Psalm 8:5 as a reference to human beings being lower than angels. Then, he argues that Jesus, being now the representative of the redeemed human race, would provide the pathway from "being made a little lower than angels" to being "crowned with glory and honor" (cf. Hebrews 2:9).