Psalms book 2 (Psalms 42-72) – Be Still in God

May 2, 2021

 

   The large book of Psalms is subdivided into five books, and this study is on the second book, which is Psalms 47-72.

 

Why do Christians want to study God’s Word, besides of course the obviously reason that God told us to? Believers might study the Bible to be more effective in teaching others or evangelizing others. I used to study the Bible about twice as much as previously when I was actively witnessing to people in cults, so I would know how to respond to them. We want to study the Bible to learn the great truths in it, and to grow in our minds and understanding as we plumb the deep truths that we find. It is good to study the Bible in order to master what it teaches, but it is even better to study the Bible so that it can master your life, that it would be more pleasing to God. But there is another reason that is none of the above. We study, meditate, and pray simply to draw near to God and know Him better. It is not enough just to try to know the mind of God; we also want to know His heart.

 

 


 

Psalm 42-43 – When Feeling Depressed, Thirst for God

 

Like us, the Psalmist switches between looking around in despair, and looking upward in hope.

 

1. In Ps 42:1-43:5, what is the structure of these Psalms?

 

 

 

 

2. In Ps 42:1-2, what is the difference between a non-believer desiring to come to God and believers wanting to draw closer to God?

 

 

3. In Ps 42:1-2, how is our longing for the Living God like a deer panting for streams of water?

 

 

4. In Ps 42:3-4, what specifically does the psalmist seem to be sad about?

 

 

 

5. In Ps 42:5-7, should Christians, living in God’s will, ever be emotionally downcast or depressed?

 

 

6. In Ps 42:8-9, why does it sound like the Psalmist was close to God in verse 8, yet far from God in verse 9?

 

 

 

7. In Ps 42:9, why do obedient believers sometimes feel separated from God?

 

 

 

8. In Ps 42:11 how do you praised God when you are downcast in your soul?

 

 

 

9. In Ps 43:1, specifically why is the Psalmist downcast here, and what does he think he needs?

 

 

 

10. How does Ps 43:2 exhibit an “already / not yet” kind of paradox?

 

 

11. In Ps 43:5 the Psalmist thought he needed rescued away from ungodly people in 43:1, but what did he really need in verse 5?


 

Psalm 44 – A National Lament

 

1. In Ps 44:1, to what extent should a daughter or son’s faith come from their parents, and to what extent not?

 

 

2. In Ps 44:2-8, what are at least three reasons for publicly acknowledging what God did, versus taking credit for it yourself?

 

 

 

3. In Ps 44:3, they did the fighting themselves, so, objectively speaking, how was it by God and not their own arm?

 

 

4. In Ps 44:4-8, what is interesting about the structure of these verses?

 

 

 

5. In Ps 44:9-16, in their defeats how and why did things change vs. the victories in Ps 44:2-8?

 

 

6. In Ps 44:17-22, what is the lesson to learn in light of the two preceding sections?

 

 

7. How is Ps 44:17-20 a mirror of Ps 44:20-22?

 

 

 

8. In Ps 44:19 and Ps 148:7 (KJV), what are dragons here?

 

 

9. In Ps 44:20, how do people stretch out their hearts to a strange god today?

 

 

 

10. In Ps 44:22 and Rom 8:36, how are God’s people counted as sheep to be slaughtered?

 

 

11. In Ps 44:23-26, what is the real point of this Psalm, and what is the basis of the appeal?

 

 

 

12. In Ps 44:23 and Ps 73:20 does God sleep, or does he not sleep, as Ps 121:304 shows?

 

 

13. In Ps 44:24; 13:1; 22:24; 88:14; Isa 54:8; 57:11; Dt 31:17 what does it mean for God to hide His face?


 

Psalm 45 – The Wedding of the King

 

1. In Ps 45:1 it literally says, “My heart boiled over with a noble theme”. How do we maintain the thrill and excitement of knowing God?

 

 

 

 

2. What is the structure of Ps 45:1-17?

 

 

 

 

3. Does Ps 45:2-17 prophecy of the coming Messiah?

 

 

 

 

4. In Ps 45:3-5, does this refer to Mohammed, as some Muslims claim?

 

 

 

 

5. In Ps 45:6, was this God’s throne, or a human throne?

 

 

 

 

6. In Ps 45:6, I have been debating a man who denies the deity of Christ. He denies my argument about Heb 1:8 and Ps 45:6-7 being correctly translated "thy throne oh God." He asserts it should be "God is your throne."

 

 

 

 

7. In Ps 45:7-8 and Heb 1:9, what is the oil of gladness?

 

 

 

 

8. In Ps 45:9-17, how is the wedding of the King and his queen juxtaposed with Israel’s marriage to God and our marriage to Christ?

 

 

 

 

9. In Ps 45:10-11, how is the advice to the bride relevant for us?


 

Psalm 46-48 – Our Refuge, Our King, and His City

 

Psalms 46, 47, and 48 go together as telescoping the present struggles and victories to the ultimate victory of God.

 

1. What is the historical context of Ps 46?

 

 

 

2. What is a summary of Ps 46?

 

 

 

 

3. In Ps 46:1, how is God a refuge for us?

 

 

 

4. In Ps 46:4 which river is this, and what does it represent, since Jerusalem had no rivers?

 

 

 

5. In Ps 46:5, what is significant about dawn?

 

 

 

6. In Ps 46:9, since God has made wars cease to the ends of the earth, why are there still wars?

 

 

 

7. Does Ps 46:10 show that humans can become God, as the Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi teaches?

 

 

 

8. In Ps 48:2, Isa 1$:13, why is the north / Zaphon mentioned?

 

 

 

9. In Ps 48:7 and Ps 72:10, why is Tarshish mentioned here?

 

 

 

10. In Ps 48:9-10, rejoicing in God is important, so what are ways we can rejoice in God today?

 

 

 

11. In Ps 48:12-14, is Jerusalem God. It sure makes it sound like it is. If the notion that Jerusalem is God is heresy, I’d like to know.


 

Psalm 49 – The Dimly-Lit Road of Destiny

 

1. In Ps 49:2, why would the psalmist call out rich and poor together?

 

 

 

2. In Ps 49:5, should we fear in the days of evil or not?

 

 

 

3. In Ps 49:6-7, what are some characteristics of those who trust in their wealth?

 

 

 

4. In Ps 49:7, since a person cannot redeem their brother, how could Jesus redeem us?

 

 

 

5. In Ps 49:12,20, how are people like beasts that perish?

 

 

 

 

Psalm 50 – The Court of God’s Judgment

 

1. In Ps 50:1, who is Asaph, the author of this and some other psalms?

 

 

 

2. What is an outline of Ps 50?

 

 

 

3. In Ps 50:7-14, how can following rituals, even rituals from God, be a sin?

 

 

 

4. In Ps 50:8-14, how do some people think God is in their debt since they gave to God?

 

 

 

5. What does Ps 50:1 emphasize God here?

 

 

 

6. In Ps 50:5, who are the consecrated ones here?


 

Psalm 51 – A Heartbreaking Psalm

 

1. In Ps 51, what is a synopsis of this psalm?

 

 

 

2. In Ps 51, what outward signs are there of unconfessed sins?

 

 

3. In Ps 51:1, what is significant about David asking God for mercy according to God’s lovingkindness?

 

 

4. In Ps 51:4, how did David sin only against God, and not against Uriah?

 

 

5. In Ps 51:4-5, why did David say God was judging correctly here?

 

 

6. Does Ps 51:5, are people born in sin, or was mankind made upright as Ecc 7:29 says?

 

 

7. In Ps 51:5, how was David a sinner from birth, made in iniquity?

 

 

8. In Ps 51:5 show that unborn fetuses are only potential humans?

 

 

9. In Ps 51:7, what is hyssop?

 

 

10. In Ps 51:8, why did David not have joy?

 

 

11. Since Ps 51:10 appears to be a direct command, is it OK for us to command God?

 

 

12. In Ps 51:11, could the Holy Spirit leave a believer?

 

 

13. In Ps 51:16-17, why did David say God did not desire sacrifices, since God commanded sacrifices in Leviticus and many other places?

 

 

14. Was Ps 51:18-19 added after the Temple was destroyed?


 

Psalm 52-54 – When They are Out to Get You

 

1. In Ps 52:1-9, what is a synopsis of this psalm?

 

 

 

2. In Ps 52:2, since David’s friend Abimelech would have lived if Doeg had not been present, why did a Sovereign God allow Doeg to be there?

 

 

 

3. In Ps 53:1-6, what is the relationship to Ps 14:1-7?

 

 

 

4. In Ps 53:1, what are early references to atheism?

 

 

 

5. Do Ps 53:2-3 and Ps 14:3 refer to a) people in general, b) every specific individual, or c) every specific individual apart from God?

 

 

 

 

6. In Ps 53:3 what is interesting about this word for “corrupt”?

 

 

 

 

7. In Ps 53:5 why does it say they “feared when there was no fear”?

 

 

 

8. In Ps 53:6, how should our prayers be like this?

 

 

 

9. In Ps 54:1-7, what is a synopsis of this psalm?

 

 

10. In Ps 54:1-3, who are the strangers David is mentioning?

 

 

11. In Ps 54:3, how should we react when people betray us or rise up against us?

 

 

12. In Ps 54:4 how is God our helper, since it is we who should be serving and helping God?


 

Psalm 55-56 – In the Darkness God’s Light Sustains Us

 

1. In Ps 55:1-23, what is a synopsis of this psalm?

 

 

2. In Ps 55:1-3 and 55:22-23, what is the difference between a believer living under the circumstances vs. living under God?

 

3. In Ps 55:4-8 was David fearful in this psalm or was he brave? Is it possible to be both?

 

 

4. In Ps 55:12-13, what is David saying about his enemy here?

 

 

5. In Ps 55:19, many people have no fear or regard for God, because they don’t think God will punish them. How do we tell them in a way that can get through to them?

 

 

6. In Ps 55:20-21, how can someone metaphorically stab someone who was not opposing them, with a smile on their face?

 

 

7. In Ps 55:22, how can we cast our burdens on the Lord today?

 

 

8. In Ps 55:23f, how do we trust our life in God, beyond just believing that God’s words are true?

 

 

9. In Ps 56:1-13, what is the emphasis of this prayer?

 

 

 

10. In Ps 56:4,11, how can we choose not to be afraid?

 

 

11. In Ps 56:5, why do some people twist other people’s words?

 

 

12. In Ps 56:5, are there ways to reduce the opportunity to twist your words?

 

 

13. In Ps 56:8, no one can say God gave his faithful servant David an easy, stress-free life. How can we better cope with stress in our life?

 

 

14. In Ps 56:9 we sometimes just assume that God will turn back our enemies, but what has to happen first?


 

Psalm 57-58 – Safe in God’s Shadow when Judgment Comes

 

1. In Ps 57:1-11, where was this psalm written?

 

 

 

2. In Ps 57, what is a synopsis of this psalm?

 

 

 

3. In Ps 57, is it easier to praise God when things are going well, or going poorly?

 

 

 

4. In Ps 57, what is a broken spirit and broken heart?

 

 

 

 

5. In Ps 57:3, what does the word “reproach” mean here?

 

 

 

 

6. In Ps 57:6, why does David often mention nets?

 

 

 

 

7. In Ps 57:8, what is meant by I will awaken the dawn?

 

 

 

8. In Ps 58, what is ironic here?

 

 

 

9. In Ps 58, how should we deal with injustice by those in authority today?

 

 

 

10. In Ps 58:3, how do the wicked go astray and speak lies even from the womb?

 

 

 

 

11. In Ps 58:4, what is a deaf adder?


 

Psalm 59-60 – Dealing with Setbacks in your Life

 

1. In Ps 59:1-17, what is a synopsis of this psalm?

 

 

 

2. In Ps 59:6-7,14-15, why does David compare his enemies to dogs here?

 

 

 

3. In Ps 59:11-12, why does David ask God NOT to kill them here?

 

 

 

4. In Ps 59:13, how are wicked people “consumed in wrath”?

 

 

 

5. In Ps 59:15, what is the correct translation here?

 

 

 

6. In Ps 59:16-17, David sings because God is His defense. Can David be certain God will not let him have any setbacks or defeats?

 

 

 

7. In Ps 60:1-12, what is an outline of this psalm?

 

 

 

8. In Ps 60:1 in the heading, were 12,000 Edomites killed, or 18,000 as 1 Chr 18:12 says?

 

 

 

9. In Ps 60:5, how should we pray, when we have experienced setback or defeat?

 

 

 

10. In Ps 60:6 and Ps 108:7, how did God divide Shechem?

 

 

 

11. In Ps 60:8-12 and Ps 108:9-13, why did God help David’s army, since He never told them to fight against some of the peoples?

 

 

 

12. In Ps 60:9-12, what key application is there for us today in our battles?

 

Psalm 60-61 – Dealing with Setbacks in your Life

 

1. In Ps 60:1-12, what is an outline of this psalm?

 

 

2. In Ps 60:1 in the heading, were 12,000 Edomites killed, or 18,000 as 1 Chr 18:12 says?

 

 

3. In Ps 60:5, how should we pray, when we have experienced setback or defeat?

 

 

 

4. In Ps 60:6 and Ps 108:7, how did God divide Shechem?

 

 

5. In Ps 60:8-12 and Ps 108:9-13, why did God help David’s army, since He never told them to fight against some of the peoples?

 

 

6. In Ps 60:9-12, what key application is there for us today in our battles?

 

 

 

7. In Ps 61:1-8, what is an outline of this Psalm?

 

 

 

8. In Ps 61, what can we do when our faith feels faint?

 

 

 

9. In Ps 61:1-2, how did David pray from the ends of the earth?

 

 

 

10. In Ps 61:2-4, what are the images here?

 

 

11. In Ps 61:3, what is the interplay between relying on God to lead us, and making our own decisions?

 

 

12. In Ps 61:4, what wings do you think David had in mind?

 

 

13. In Ps 61:6, how should we pray for protection?

 

 

14. In Ps 61:6-7, what is curious about the pronouns and nouns here?


 

Psalm 62 – Confidence in Our Rock

 

1. In Ps 62:1, how are we to wait upon God today?

 

 

 

2. In Ps 62:2,6,7 how is God metaphorically a rock?

 

 

 

3. In Ps 62:2,6, what does it mean to be unshaken or unmoved?

 

 

 

4. In Ps 62:4, how do you deal with “double-tongued” people?

 

 

 

5. In Ps 62:9, why should we consider some people as just a vapor or a lie?

 

 

 

6. In Ps 62:12, since God renders to each according to his work, is this the eastern concept of karma?

 

 

 


 

Psalm 63 – Thirsting for God in a Dry Land

 

1. In Ps 63:1, should this be earnestly or eagerly?

 

 

 

2. In Ps 63:5 how are we to cultivate an appetite for God?

 

 

 

3. In Ps 63:8, how are we to “follow close behind” God?

 

 

 

4. In Ps 63:9-11, how should adversity affect our closeness to God?

 

 

 

5. In Ps 63:10, how are violent and slanderous people just “jackal-food”?

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 64 – The Archery Battle

 

1. In Ps 64:1, what does it mean to preserve my life from the fear of the enemy?

 

 

 

2. In Ps 64:2, since godly believers should not be doing wrong, why should be concerned by the secret counsel of others?

 

 

 

3. In Ps 64:3,4,7 what is the significance of arrows here?

 

 

 

4. In Ps 64:4-5, how do arrows differ from snares?


Psalm 65-66 – Shout for Joy that God Provides

 

1. In Ps 65:2,5, how is it awesome that God answers our prayers?

 

 

2. In Ps 65:3, what provision is mentioned here that is different from the rest of the psalm?

 

 

3. In Ps 65:4, do those chosen to bring near to the temple courts just the Levites, or all of God’s people?

 

 

4. In Ps 65:7, when does God still the noise of the seas?

 

 

5. In Ps 65:9-13, how does God bless people with prosperity?

 

 

6. In Ps 65:11, how does God crown the year with His goodness?

 

 

7. Is Ps 66:1-20 primarily a national psalm of thanksgiving, or an individual psalm of thanksgiving?

 

 

8. In Ps 66:2-3, how can we sing out the “honor” of God or make “His praises glorious”?

 

 

9. In Ps 66:4, how does the earth bow down to God?

 

 

10. In Ps 66:6 when did God turn the sea into dry land, and how does God do that today?

 

 

11. In Ps 66:5 and Jn 1:46, how are we to cultivate a “come and see” attitude today?

 

 

 

12. In Ps 66:8-12, it sounds like the psalmist is praising God for hard times too. Why is that?

 

 

 

13. In Ps 66:13-15, how do “financial optimization” in our life run directly counter to obeying God’s word?

 

 

14. In Ps 66:18, how does cherishing iniquity in our heart mean that God will not hear our prayer?


 

Psalm 67-68 – God Moves

 

1. In Ps 67:1 and Num 6:25, what does it mean for God’s face to shine upon us?

 

 

 

2. In Ps 67:2 what were God’s people commanded to do for all the nations?

 

 

 

3. In Ps 67:2, why did David desire the other peoples praise God, and why should we desire the same?

 

 

 

4. Ps 67:2 what all is meant by the term “salvation/deliverance” here?

 

 

 

5. In Ps 67:6, how should we praise God for the harvest?

 

 

 

6. In Ps 68:1-35, what is an outline of this psalm?

 

 

 

7. In Ps 68:1-35 what is interesting about the names for God here?

 

 

 

8. In Ps 68:1, why did David want God to arise and scatter God’s enemies?

 

 

 

9. In Ps 68:2, how is opposition to God like smoke and wax here?

 

 

 

10. In Ps 68:4, what is the significance of God riding on the clouds?

 

 

 

11. In Ps 68:7-8, when did this marching occur?

 

 

 

12. What does Ps 68:17-20 refer to?

 


Psalm 69 – God’s Mercy under Water

 

1. In Ps 69:1-36, what is an outline of this Psalm?

 

 

 

2. In Ps 69:1-36, what kind of trouble does it look like the writer has here?

 

 

 

3. In Ps 69:1-2,3,10,12,14-15,21, what are the images of liquid, and what could they represent?

 

 

 

4. In Ps 69:4f, what was stolen that must be restored?

 

 

 

5. In Ps 69:5-6, what is David saying here?

 

 

 

6. In Ps 69:6-12, what is the disgrace or shame David is talking about here?

 

 

 

7. In Ps 69:9,20, 25, where are these quotes in the New Testament and why?

 

 

 

8. In Ps 69:11, what does it mean to become a byword?

 

 

 

9. In Ps 69:13, what is an important point about prayer here?

 

 

 

10. In Ps 69:14-15, how are some of our troubles like mire, and some like floodwaters?

 

 

 

11. In Ps 69:33, what does this say about prisoners?


 

Psalm 70-71 – At Any Age, Don’t Be Far from God

 

1. Ps 70:1-5 is the same as the last third (verses 13-17) of Psalm 40? What could be the reason for this?

 

 

 

2. In Ps 70:1-5, what is the structure of this Psalm?

 

 

 

3. In Ps 70:4, why did David want all who seek God to rejoice in God, and why did David feel the need to pray this request?

 

 

4. In Ps 70:5, is it OK to tell God to hurry up and don’t delay?

 

 

 

5. In Ps 71:1-24, what is the structure of this psalm?

 

 

 

6. In Ps 71, how is this similar to other psalms?

 

 

 

7. In Ps 71:3, should it be “rock of dwelling” or “rock of refuge / strong refuge”?

 

 

 

8. In Ps 71:5-18, what are various issues that can be at the forefront for Christians at different ages?

 

 

9. In Ps 71:7 what is a “portent” (NIV, NRSV, ESV), or “wonder” (NKJV)?

 

 

 

10. In Ps 71:7-18, what advice would you give to a Christian child, on how to “age well in the Lord”?

 

 

 

11. In Ps 71:22, 78:41; 89:18, what is interesting about the title for God “Holy One of Israel”?

 

 

12. In Ps 71:22-23, what is interesting about the musical references here?


 

Psalm 72 – The King’s Deliverance for the Poor and Needy

 

1. In Ps 72:1-20, who wrote this psalm?

 

 

 

 

2. In Ps 72:1-20, what is the structure of this psalm?

 

 

 

 

3. In Ps 72:2-4, how are good leaders a means for God blessing His people?

 

 

 

 

4. In Ps 72:1-4, 99:4, why was judgment considered something to eagerly anticipate?

 

 

 

 

5. In Ps 72:2-4, 12-14, what does this say about government, that is sometimes forgotten?

 

 

 

 

6. In Ps 72:3-4, what does the metaphor of peace and righteousness from the mountains and hills mean?

 

 

 

 

7. In Ps 72:4, how does breaking in pieces the oppressor apply to us?

 

 

 

 

8. In Ps 72:2f,4,9f,12-14, does this psalm a praise for the present or a hope for the future?

 

 

 

 

9. In Ps 72:15, what do we know about the land of Sheba?

 

 

 

10. In Ps 72:15, what is like the “gold of Sheba” today?


 

Psalm 42-43 – When Feeling Depressed, Thirst for God – some brief answers

 

Like us, the Psalmist switches between looking around in despair, and looking upward in hope.

 

1. In Ps 42:1-43:5, what is the structure of these Psalms?

A: While these are two Psalm in both the Masoretic text and Septuagint, the are organized as one “song”, and are together in a few Hebrew manuscripts. Every Psalm in Psalms has a title except for Psalm 43 and 72.

Ps 42:1-4 Lament on the Situation and a Question

- Ps 42:5 A Refrain of Hope

Ps 42:6-7 Lament

- Ps 42:8 Hope

Ps 42:9-10 Lament on the Severity and a Question

- Ps 42:11 A Refrain of Hope

Ps 43:1-4 Lament on the Root Cause and a Question

- Ps 43:5 A Refrain of Hope

See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.330, the New International Bible Commentary p.584-585, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.826 for more info.

 

2. In Ps 42:1-2, what is the difference between a non-believer desiring to come to God and believers wanting to draw closer to God?

A: This is similar to every Christian already having the Holy Spirit inside them, yet God still commands Christians to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Psalmist already had a living relationship with God, but felt his relationship was rather dry at this time. A good metaphor is someone outside of the building looking through the windows, vs. someone inside visiting the different rooms.

   The Holy Spirit draws a non-believer to come to God, to know God and His love. He wants the rewards of heaven and to escape the punishment of Hell. A believer already has those things, but wants to know God better, and please Him more.

 

3. In Ps 42:1-2, how is our longing for the Living God like a deer panting for streams of water?

A: A deer can have all the grass, sunshine, and comfortable weather it needs, but if it needs water, nothing else will satisfy it except water. Deer know that, but unfortunately, we are not always as smart as deer. We try to satisfy our craving for God with other things as partial and poor substitutes. What we really need is Living Water.

 

4. In Ps 42:3-4, what specifically does the psalmist seem to be sad about?

A: Just looking at 42:3-4, the Psalmist does not like his enemies taunting him “where is your God”. He remembers fondly when he used to go to the house of God, which he apparently cannot go to now. There are times, when we have not been able to gather with others in the house of God, due to illness, disability, travel, or COVID-19. But we long for when we can get together again.

 

5. In Ps 42:5-7, should Christians, living in God’s will, ever be emotionally downcast or depressed?

A: Yes. It is OK for a Christian to feel sad at the loss of a loved one, or to be down when something happens for a period of time. Some Christians wrestle with mold or other chemical imbalances that can make them chronically depressed. When you are not depressed, you should praise God. When you are depressed, you should praise God the same. Praising God during our trials is just as sweet, if not sweeter, to Him.

 

6. In Ps 42:8-9, why does it sound like the Psalmist was close to God in verse 8, yet far from God in verse 9?

A: The Psalmist feels close to God in verse 8. But sometimes, as in verse 9, God is not doing what you want Him to do, and you feel that God should do that, - right now. Sometimes is it not God’s will that He do that. Sometimes God will, but now is not the time. Finally, there are times when we should “storm the gates of heaven” with prayer that God glorify Hi name and work in this satiation.

 

7. In Ps 42:9, why do obedient believers sometimes feel separated from God?

A: Sometimes they separate themselves by being caught up in the world, disobedience, apathy, an unforgiving heart, or other sins. However, sometimes obedient believers can still feel down or oppress for a period of time. We are to be faithful to God regardless of our feelings.

 

8. In Ps 42:11 how do you praised God when you are downcast in your soul?

A: As Christians we are not blind to the circumstances around us, and sometimes the circumstances do not look good. But we should see that being in God’s hand is more important than whatever circumstances we are in. All of our present tribulations are small and short-lived compared to the everlasting bliss in heaven with God.

 

9. In Ps 43:1, specifically why is the Psalmist downcast here, and what does he think he needs?

A: Psalm 42:9-10 and 43:1 show it was because of the oppression of his enemies. Some enemies want to take your life. But other enemies don’t, they just want to keep you down so that you can enrich them, by paying tribute or other means. Other enemies want to put you down emotionally, with mocking and insults. Or they want to “gaslight” you and try to get you to doubt yourself.

   Oppression can be “illegal” in the sense of hidden at night or secretive, or it can be “legal”, using the law to unjustly take things away or execute people. The Psalmist is asking for vindication and deliverance from oppression of any kind.

 

10. How does Ps 43:2 exhibit an “already / not yet” kind of paradox?

A: The Psalmist says that God currently is God of his strength. Yet he wonders why it seems God is casting him away and not vindicating him. He is asking God why he feels down because of oppression of the enemy. So he shows a confidence in God’s strength, but a doubt in God vindicating him now. But as we will see later, it might not be God’s will to vindicate him right now. It is like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3:17-18. They told Nebuchadnezzar they had confidence that God would deliver them from the fiery furnace; - but even if God does not, they still are not going to bow down to the golden image.

 

11. In Ps 43:5, should obedient Christian ever be emotionally downcast?

A: Job was, and that was understandable. David was at times, and that was OK. Jesus was down in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Paul despaired of life in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10. Paul was sorrowful when Epaphroditus was sick and almost died in Philippians 2:27.

   So it is fine for Christians to feel a wide range of emotion, but as the Don Francisco songs says, “Jesus is the Lord of the way I feel!”

 

12. In Ps 43:5 the Psalmist thought he needed rescued away from ungodly people in 43:1, but what did he really need in verse 5?

A: He did not need to be rescued from the situation, he simply needed to put his hope in God, who would carry him through this situation.

   Handling this difficult situation might be a part of our growth, and also might be a witness for others. As George Muller said, “God delights to increase the faith of His children. We ought, instead of wanting no trials before victory, no exercise for patience, to be willing to take them from God’s hands as a means. Trials, obstacles, difficulties and sometimes defeats, are the very food of faith.” The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.616 for more info.

 


 

Psalm 44 – A National Lament – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 44:1, to what extent should a daughter or son’s faith come from their parents, and to what extent not?

A: Someone once said, “God has no grandchildren.” You are either a child of God or you are not, but you cannot be merely a grandchild; a person has to have their own faith. We can learn from our parents’ teaching, follow their good examples, and even be warned when seeing their mistakes. We can rejoice in the faith and life work of our ancestors, both biological and in the faith, but we should be careful not to rest our hope on what they believed and did, rather than our own faith.

 

2. In Ps 44:2-8, what are at least three reasons for publicly acknowledging what God did, versus taking credit for it yourself?

A: There are three benefits of acknowledging what God did.

So you don’t have a false view of yourself and become arrogant.

As a witness of God to others

To glorify God

 

3. In Ps 44:3, they did the fighting themselves, so, objectively speaking, how was it by God and not their own arm?

A: They did the work and did the fighting, but God gave the victory. Sometimes when we start to think that we are accomplishing something by our own power, we might do all of the work to be successful, but success eludes us because of outside or factors we did not see coming. While we can recognize the hard work that we do, recognize that the results will not be successful unless God wants or at least allows it. Psalm 127:1a says that unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

 

4. In Ps 44:4-8, what is interesting about the structure of these verses?

A: These are arranged in a chiasm.

Remember the past 44:1

- Victory over past enemies 44:2

- - Victory not by human strength 44:3a

- - - Victory by the Lord 44:3b

- - - - Confession of Personal Confidence 44:4

- - - Victory by the Lord 44:5a

- - Victory not by Human Strength 44:6

- Victory over past enemies 44:7

Praising God by believers today 44:8

See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.339 for more info.

 

5. In Ps 44:9-16, in their defeats how and why did things change vs. the victories in Ps 44:2-8?

A: Scripture is silent on why their enemies started defeating them. In almost every case in the book of Judges the Israelites had turned away from God. But in Psalm 44:17-22 there is no mention of backsliding or other sin on their part. Sometimes bad things happen, and it is not always because you sinned. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.618 for more info.

 

6. In Ps 44:17-22, what is the lesson to learn in light of the two preceding sections?

A: We are here to glorify God. Glorify God when things go well, and glorify God when things don’t go well.

 

X 7. How is Ps 44:17-20 a mirror of Ps 44:20-22?

A: Psalm 44:17-20 says that they have not forgotten God. Psalm 44:20-22 says the defeats would be understandable if they had forgotten God and worshipped a foreign God. But since they have not, then in Psalm 44:23-24, why does God sleep and hide His face?

 

8. In Ps 44:19 and Ps 148:7 (KJV), what are dragons here?

A: These are “jackals”, as the NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, and Green’s Literal Translation all say. The NET Bible says, “wild dogs” with a footnote saying the Hebrew says “jackals”. By the way, the English word “jackal” comes from the Persian word for them shaghal) according to The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia vol.6 p.7.

 

9. In Ps 44:20, how do people stretch out their hearts to a strange god today?

A: This refers both to worshipping false gods and seeking aid from false gods. Today Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religions worship either inanimate statues as gods, or else worship other gods represented by inanimate objects. Some Catholics in Central and South America combine Catholicism with idol worship.

   However, even some Christians do not take idolatry very seriously. A Catholic priest once asked me “why are Protestants so afraid of the Virgin Mary?” I am not afraid, since I named one of my daughters after her. I should have asked him in return, “why are many Catholics not careful of the sin of idolatry?”

 

10. In Ps 44:22 and Rom 8:36, how are God’s people counted as sheep to be slaughtered?

A: There have been times when God has allowed many of his children to be killed. Sometimes, God punished the Jews because they were disobedient, but that is not the primary meaning of this verse. Rather, God sometimes allows even obedient believers to suffer and be martyrs for Him. We can see the following.

God apparently does not have the same view of life on earth that most people do. Since we do not see the afterlife yet, it is easy to feel that maximizing the time of our life on earth is one of the most important things. God’s perspective is different. God sees what somebody can be doing in Heaven, and on earth. Sometimes proving you are willing to die for your faith is a witness to others. During the time of the early church, up to 324 A.D., an estimated 40,000-50,000 Christians were killed for their faith.

 

11. In Ps 44:23-26, what is the real point of this Psalm, and what is the basis of the appeal?

A: Psalm 44:26 is asking for God’s help. Since God had greatly helped them int eh past, they are suffering problems now, they have not forgotten God, please arise to help us.

 

12. In Ps 44:23 and Ps 73:20 does God sleep, or does he not sleep, as Ps 121:304 shows?

A: God does not ever become tired or unconscious. However, there are times when God appears less active in our immediate situation. Metaphorically, David is asking God to “wake up” and take action now.

   The Bible acknowledges that sometimes God acts slower than some people would want (2 Peter 3:9). Some reasons for His timing are a testing for us, sometimes we are not ready for something yet, or sometimes we are ready, but some others are not. We have to wait upon the Lord. When Critics Ask p.238 says “sleep” here is a figure of speech meaning God defers judgment until later.

   See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.244-245, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.268-269, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.153 for more info.

 

13. In Ps 44:24; 13:1; 22:24; 88:14; Isa 54:8; 57:11; Dt 31:17 what does it mean for God to hide His face?

A: This means when you pray for something and either God is not answering your prayer, or He is not answering it the way you want Him to. The expressions for God to hide His face is also in Psalm 13:1; 88:14; Isaiah 54:8. God hid in Isaiah 57:17, and will hide his face in Deuteronomy 31:17f due to their disobedience. God not hiding His face is in Psalm 22:24. The Psalmist was perplexed, they had not turned away from God. See the New International Bible Commentary p.586 for more info.

 


 

Psalm 45 – The Wedding of the King – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 45:1 it literally says, “My heart boiled over with a noble theme”. How do we maintain the thrill and excitement of knowing God?

A: We might know the truth, and obey God’s truth, but are we stirred and excited about God? If not, is something else existing us that might in fact be an idol?

   Sometimes people suffer spiritually because of a lack, they have none or too little of something. But other times, it could be because they are filled with too much of something else. A dull knife is dull because there is too much metal where the sharp edge should be. Perhaps we need to be honed and sharpened to be used of God. In John 15:2-3 Jesus said that the Father removes unfruitful branches, but He also cuts (that is prunes, not removes) fruitful branches so that they can bear more fruit.

   Sometimes believers just “fall out of touch” because they don’t make spending time with God a priority in their life. They can become apathetic, preoccupied with trivial things, or burned out from doing the work of God too long only on their own power.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.827 for more info.

 

2. What is the structure of Ps 45:1-17?

A: Psalm 45 is not exactly a chiasm, but close to a chiasm with parallel parts in the middle.

Introduction 45:1

- Address to the King 45:2-5

- - Glory of the bridegroom 45:6-9

- Address to the Bride 45:10-12

- - Glory of the Bride 45:13-15

Conclusion 45:16-17

See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.343 for more info.

 

3. Does Ps 45:2-17 prophecy of the coming Messiah?

A: Yes. Psalm 45:6-7 speaks in second person of God and His throne, and that God, your God has anointed you. So this is speaking of God coming. The writer of Hebrews also noticed that this referred to Christ in Hebrews 1:9. The Metzudat David, by Rabbi David Altschuler of Prague (1678-1769) also says that this refers to the Messiah. Among early Christian writers, Psalm 45 refers to Christ according to Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Novatian, Victorinus of Petau, Methodius, Lactantius, Alexander of Alexandria, and Eusebius of Caesarea (prior to Nicea). See www.biblequery.org/History/ChurchHistory.WhatEarlyChristiansTaught.html for more info.

 

4. In Ps 45:3-5, does this refer to Mohammed, as some Muslims claim?

A: No, even Muslims cannot really see this way, except for some of the Gulat sects of Islam, which think Mohammed actually is God. Psalm 45:6 says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever.” (NIV) In addition to Mohammed never claiming to be God, Mohammed never had a throne or a scepter either. See When Critics Ask p.238 and When Cultists Ask p.64 for a complementary answer.

 

5. In Ps 45:6, was this God’s throne, or a human throne?

A: This is both, as Jesus Christ is both God and man. This is the throne of “God who was anointed by God”. This is Jesus Christ according to Hebrews 1:8-9. Also, we will reign with Christ on His throne in Ephesians 2:6-7. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.271-272 for more info.

 

6. In Ps 45:6, I have been debating a man who denies the deity of Christ. He denies my argument about Heb 1:8 and Ps 45:6-7 being correctly translated "thy throne oh God." He asserts it should be "God is your throne."

A: Hebrews 1:8, which quotes Psalm 45:6, is speaking of the deity of Christ. There is some ambiguity in Psalm 45:6. There are really three questions here:

1) Is this verse talking about God and His throne, David and his throne given by God, or both?

2) Does the Old Testament elsewhere unambiguously speak of God sitting on His throne?

3) What does the Book of Hebrews add, at least for Christians?

1) In Psalm 45:6, is it God’s throne or David’s?

In Hebrew Psalm 45:7 has kis'aka 'elohim which literally is “your throne” and “God”. Most translators would see this as

“your/thy throne, O God”, (vocative) Jay P. Green, KJV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, RSV mg, Septuagint, etc.

   However, there is an ambiguity in the phrase here because Hebrew can use a noun as an adjective. For example, 1 Chronicles 29:23 says that Solomon sat on the “Yahweh” throne. Ezekiel 28:13 it says that Eden was “garden elohim” or the Garden of God. Thus some versions translate Psalm 45:7 as:

“your divine throne” (Jewish JPS, RSV)

“your throne is like God's throne” (NEB)

“your throne, O divine king” (Weiser, p.360)

“your throne is a throne of God” (RSV mg.)

   Note that the JPS and RSV give a straightforward reading assuming elohim is an adjective here. The others in this list try add a few more words not in the Hebrew.

   The JPS Study Bible p.1332 also gives “Your throne O God is everlasting” as one of the margin readings, so it does at least recognize that it could be either way.

   Murray J. Harris, has an article defending why it is really the first way (vocative) in 'The Translation of Elohim in Psalm 45:7-8,' Tyndale Bulletin 35 (1984]: 65-89).

So is it God’s throne or David’s in Psalm 45? Verse 7 says “…therefore God, Your God, has anointed You…”. Christians see the psalm addressed to the first One called God (the vocative), while others could see this as repetition, such as in this example: “therefore the wonderful God, the great God”. However, Psalm 45:11, says to worship this King because He is your Lord. while we know that David is a type of the Messiah, both in this psalm and others, it is very difficult to see how to exclude this psalm from referring to God. Admittedly, the phrase, “God, Your God”, does add to the uncertainty for a Jewish reader though. Psalm 110 might help provide the clue, a Lord who is also a priest after the order of Melchizedek.

   See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.5 p.346-347 note 6 for more info on Psalm 45.

2) Does God Sit on His Throne Elsewhere in the Old Testament?

In the Old Testament, God is said to sit on His throne, unambiguously in Ezekiel 1 especially verse 26, Ezekiel 10:1, Isaiah 6:1-3, and Psalm 97:1-2 and Psalm 93:2. So there is no theological reason a Jewish person would need to reject Psalm 45:7-8 as referring to God, or a dual reference of God, and David as His representative. Sixteen pre-Nicene Christian writers also refer to God’s throne.

3) What Hebrews 1 says

The Book of Hebrews, definitely takes it as referring to the son in the vocative. Though there is the same ambiguity, in this phrase, in the Greek here as it is in the Hebrew, Hebrew 1:8 starts with “But to the Son” and Hebrews 1:9 says (like Psalms 45:7 “therefore God your God”. There is no doubt that Hebrews 1:8-9 is calling Jesus God, and interpreting Psalm 45:7-8 as referring to God. So Hebrews 1:8-9 does not add anything except that the second Lord is God the Son.

Heb 1:8 is translated as:

“your/thy throne, O God” (Jay P. Green, KJV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, RSV, Wuest)

“God is thy throne (RSV mg)

   On Heb 1:8 The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.19 says, “Some translations render the opening words of v.8 as 'God is your throne' or the like (cf. RSV, NEB mg.). But it is better to take the Greek as a vocative as NIV: 'Your throne, O God.' The quotation from Psalm 45:6-7 is referred to the son who is then addressed as 'God.' His royal state is brought out by the references to the 'throne,' 'scepter,' and 'kingdom' and by his moral concern for the 'righteousness' that is supreme where he reigns.' ... We should perhaps take the first occurrence of the word 'God' as another vocative: 'Therefore, O God, your God has set you.'”

In conclusion, Based on Psalm 45:7-8 alone, the grammar of the phrase “your throne O God” may refer to God, but verses 45:7,11,17 strongly suggest this Psalm refers to God as well as David, and other Old Testament verses also refer to God having a throne.

 

7. In Ps 45:7-8 and Heb 1:9, what is the oil of gladness/joy?

A: Hebrews 1:9, which quotes this verse, also mentions this. Scripture does not specify exactly what this was, but a Jewish person would recall a type of this anointing oil for holy things in Exodus 30:22-23. In Exodus it was a unique formulation, not to be used for any other purpose. It was never said to have any miraculous properties, but was a symbol of the honor of consecration, and putting it on the altar, lampstand, utensils, and other holy things was an act of worship. People would put oil on themselves, or rich people would have slaves put oil on them. But an official “anointing” was only of a king, a priest, or the holy things. Jesus was anointed for all three reasons. Jesus too was anointed with oil, while alive in Mark 14:3-9, and his body anointed with spices in John 19:40. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.619 for more info.

 

8. In Ps 45:9-17, how is the wedding of the King and his queen juxtaposed with Israel’s marriage to God and our marriage to Christ?

A: Marriage is a metaphor for the Lord’s relationship with Israel and later with the church. The Hebrew word for love, hesed, means “covenant-love”. So is it more of a covenant or more of love? But they would not view those as separate things. Loving someone when you feel like it, when it feels good, all is going well, or is to your advantage, would not be considered love at all. Even today, if love is without commitment, then why should we think it is love at all. Even with friends we should be committed to sticking up for them.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.343-344 for more info.

 

9. In Ps 45:10-11, how is the advice to the bride relevant for us?

A: Many times, God’s advice to us in the Bible is to remember something. But here the advice is the opposite: to forget something. Believe it or not, sometimes forgetfulness can be good. Choosing to forget past sinful habits, hatreds, jealousies, and any resentment, is a “godly forgetfulness” that we all need to have. So, properly understood, the advice here is “be forgetful”! We should forget our old ways, prior to Christ, and focus on our king, and husband, Christ. In Luke 14:26 Jesus said that if anyone comes to Him and does not hate their father and mother, wife, and children, then they cannot be His disciple. The word “hate” actually means “love less”, so we should be very concerned if anything, even a good thing such as love for family, is higher than our love for God. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.828 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.619 for more info.

 


 

Psalm 46-48 – Our Refuge, Our King, and His City – some brief answers

 

Psalms 46, 47, and 48 go together as telescoping the present struggles and victories to the ultimate victory of God.

 

1. What is the historical context of Ps 46?

A: The Psalm does not explicitly give us the context, but it appears to be a totally unexpected victory by God. The most likely context is the deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians in Hezekiah’s time, according to the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.381, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.621 Both the New International Commentary on the Bible p.587 and Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament (The Psalms by Franz Delitzsch) p.91-92 say it is either the victory under Jehoshaphat or else the deliverance from Assyria.

 

2. What is a summary of Ps 46?

A: It is a psalm of encouragement, pointing to the endtimes, with three pictures.

1-3 The challenge of confidence: Despite cosmic disaster, we will not fear

4-7 The secret of confidence: Ultimate peace with God

8-11 The vindication of confidence: God’s eternal victory, ending all wars

The first part of each title was from G. Campbell Morgan, as said in the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.621. To learn more about this future city of God, read Revelation 21:1-22:5.

 

3. In Ps 46:1, how is God a refuge for us?

A: The Hebrew word for refuge, mahseh, means shelter from danger. We can trust God’s promise to work all things together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

In this life, nothing will happen to us except what God allows. God allows bad things to happen to us, but God will be there to take us through them.

Ultimately, we have refuge in God by going to Heaven and living there eternally.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.828 for more info.

 

4. In Ps 46:4 which river is this, and what does it represent, since Jerusalem had no rivers?

A: Jerusalem, from the beginning up to now, never had a river beside it. While it had a spring large enough to feed a pool, but that is not relevant here. Rather Psalm 46:4-11 speaks of a future time, when wars will cease (Psalm 46:9), when God breaks the bow and shatters the spear (Psalm 46:9), and when God is exalted among the nations (Psalm 46:10).

   The new Jerusalem, with the river of the water of life flowing through the center of it, is mentioned in Revelation 21:2,10-22:5. Ezekiel 47:1-12 also speaks of the river coming out of the altar in the new Jerusalem.

   The Hebrew word here means a river that flows all year around, not a seasonal stream, called a wadi, according to the New International Bible Commentary p.587.

 

5. In Ps 46:5, what is significant about dawn?

A: Military attacks often began at dawn. That way the troops could get into position while it was still dark. Also, if they were victorious, they would have the most time to capitalize on their victory.

 

6. In Ps 46:9, since God has made wars cease to the ends of the earth, why are there still wars?

A: While the wars against Israel had ceased for a while, that was not the point here. David knew that all wars had not stopped, nor all wars against Judah. That is why he still maintained a standing army. Rather, Psalm 46:4-11 speaks of a future time, when the new Jerusalem, with a river in the middle of it comes. You can read about this in Revelation 20:7-22:5.

 

7. Does Ps 46:10 show that humans can become God, as the Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi teaches?

A: Not at all. Psalm 46:10 says, “know that I am God”, while according to When Cultists Ask p.64-65 the Meditations of Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi, 178 says this verse means “know that you are God”. (underline not in the original)

   As a side note, in some languages including Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, the pronoun (I, you, he, she, it, etc.) is included in the verb. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 5 p.354 in the notes says this verse uses the independent pronoun “I”. This gives greater emphasis to the “I”. The Greek Septuagint translation uses ego eimi, which also gives emphasis with the independent pronoun.

 

8. In Ps 48:2, Isa 1$:13, why is the north / Zaphon mentioned?

A: The word for “north”, Zaphon, is also the name of a mountain about 25 miles northeast of the Canaanite city of Ugarit. There are three views.

On one hand, this could simply be referring to the city of Jerusalem, on Mount Zion, looking splendid from the north. But then, no explanation is given why the north looks good, and not the south, east, or west.

A second view recognizes that the ancients all knew of the north star. But as the visible stars all revolved around the north star in the heavens, everything will be centered around the New Jerusalem in the new earth. The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.624 mentions this view.

The most likely meaning is that this is a deliberate comparison with Mt. Zaphon, saying that the true God who “dwelled” in the Temple on Mt. Zion was better than the idol on Mt. Zaphon. The Canaanites believed that their main god dwelt on Mount Zaphon. It would be sort of like Ante-Nicene Christians saying the true God is better than the Greek idols dwelling on Mt. Olympus. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.362-363, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.829, and the New International Commentary on the Bible p.589 for more info.

 

9. In Ps 48:7 and Ps 72:10, why is Tarshish mentioned here?

A: Tarshish probably refers to what we call Tartessus, a Phoenician colony in far-off Spain. It was likely mentioned because this was the westernmost known city to them. This Tarshish was probably also the city Jonah was trying to flee to, when God told him to go east to Nineveh.

   There are three towns called Tarshish in the ancient world. Paul was from Tarsus/Tarshish in Asia minor. However, it was an inland city, so it is not in the place mentioned here. The second was a small mining town in Sardinia; we are not sure the Israelites were even familiar with this. The third was also a mining port in Spain, and the westernmost city known to them.

 

10. In Ps 48:9-10, rejoicing in God is important, so what are ways we can rejoice in God today?

A: We can praise Him in prayer, in song, and be reading aloud praises to Him in scripture.

 

11. In Ps 48:12-14, is Jerusalem God? It sure makes it sound like it is. If the notion that Jerusalem is God is heresy, I’d like to know.

A: No, Jerusalem is not God, and Jerusalem is not heresy either. Rather, Jerusalem was the beloved place where God choose to put the symbol of his holiness the ark of the covenant. But as political events today show, some people can elevate Jerusalem above their following of God. That does not make Jerusalem bad, but for them Jerusalem can become an idol.

   A second example of this phenomena is with the bronze snake. In Numbers 2:4-9, the people were being bitten by poisonous snakes. God told Moses to make an image of a snake and put it on a pole. When anyone was bitten, and looked at the snake, they would live. (Perhaps the snake was a symbol of our sin being nailed to the cross, but that is another story.) Anyway, it was good that Moses obeyed God and made the snake, and good that the people looked at it. Jesus also referred to this snake, positively in John 3:14. But there was no confusion that anyone thought the snake should be worshipped, - yet. However, in 2 Kings 18:4, people were burning incense to the snake. So, Hezekiah destroyed the bronze snake, because it had become an idol, more important to the people than the true God was.

 


 

Psalm 49 – The Dimly-Lit Road of Destiny – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 49:2, why would the psalmist call out rich and poor together?

A: The main point of this psalm is a warning to those who trust in riches. There could be a couple of reasons why the author wanted to highlight this, instead of just saying all people. People can either trust in the wealth they have, or hope to trust in the wealth they hope to have. Don’t think that this psalm, or any part of scripture, applies only to the rich, or only to the poor. Scripture is living, and always able to speak to us, if you let it speak.

   In western culture today we think that people should have the same rights, regardless of wealth. It was not so in ancient times, and it is not so today in some other cultures. For example, when a person murders another, the murdered family can set a price, called “blood money”. If the murderer pays the money to the murdered person’s family, then the murderer can go free. So whether you can get away with murder depends on how much money you have. Of course, in western countries, a wealthy person can afford a more expensive legal team, to try to be found innocent or at least have a lesser penalty. There was a case where two people committed the same crime, and were equally culpable; one got five years, and one got 70.

   In some ancient laws outside of Israel the penalty for murder varied depending on the status of the murdered person. Murdering a slave was not so serious; in fact, in Sparta after this time, young men growing up were expected to murder a helot (subject people).

 

2. In Ps 49:5, should we fear in the days of evil or not?

A: The question implies that we should not fear. Days of evil can provide uncertainty (which we should not fear), hardship (which we should not fear) and even going to heaven much earlier (which we definitely should not fear), so there is nothing we should fear. This passage implies that others take advantage of the vulnerable for selfish purposes. The reasons given in the following verses sound strange: their riches are not going to help them, no mortal human can redeem another, and all are going to die anyway. The psalmist’s point is that nothing temporal, no matter how bad, that is thrown our way can shake our eternal foundation.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.368 for more info.

 

3. In Ps 49:6-7, what are some characteristics of those who trust in their wealth?

A: They have a false sense of security. They can be arrogant and worried, at least if they have wealth. They believe their self-worth comes from their wealth, and they think they have more self-worth than others. However, if they realized that their wealth can be gone at any moment, they can worry about their wealth and the economic climate.

 

4. In Ps 49:7, since a person cannot redeem their brother, how could Jesus redeem us?

A: Before answering this question, these verses are inviting us to pause and consider how costly it would be to redeem another person. The richest of the wealthiest person are insufficient to ransom another. Imagine going before a human court and trying to bribe the judge; -with one penny. Not only would it not do you any good, but it would be insulting to the judges and things would go worse for you. Trying to bribe God with our works is, relatively speaking, even smaller than trying to bribe a human judge with a penny.

   The answer is that it is true that one sinful person cannot redeem another sinful person; actually any mere human could not redeem another human either. But Jesus was neither. All of Psalm 49:7-14 is pessimistic; nobody on earth can redeem another. Then Psalm 49:7 is a striking contrast: God can!

   A person cannot understand the answer unless he or she first understands why someone cannot redeem his or her brother. For someone to pay (with their life) the penalty for someone else’s sin, they cannot already be paying with their life for their own sin. Thus, in David’s time, nobody had ever lived who was sinlessly perfect. Nobody could offer themselves as a sinless sacrifice and substitute for the sin for anyone else. In our time, we know of one person who had done so, Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God.

 

5. In Ps 49:12,20, how are people like beasts that perish?

A: On earth, people’s physical bodies die just like animals. People can be proud, like a lion or other animal can be proud, but that is very fleeting. It does NOT mean that there is no afterlife, because Psalm 49:15 affirms that God will redeem his soul from the power of the grave. Two things are certain: the doom of the wicked and the hope of the saints. See the discussion on Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.830, and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.271-272 for more info.

 

Psalm 50 – The Court of God’s Judgment – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 50:1, who is Asaph, the author of this and some other psalms?

A: This godly man was a Levite appointed by David to minister before the ark. He is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 16:4-5,37.

 

2. What is an outline of Ps 50?

A: This psalm gives the picture of the divine court of law. There is one top-level point, with two sub-points. The top-level point is a warning that God is judge. The first sub-point is a warning of God’s judgment to those who do the right things with a wrong attitude. The second sub-point is a warning of God’s judgement to those who give lip service to being of God when they are not really God’s people at all.

   At a lower level, there are the four parts, the first and last are symmetrical, and the middle two are parallel.

1-6 God’s Righteous Judgment

- 1 The judge is heard

- 2-3 The judge is Seen

- 4-5 The judge calls the defendants

7-15 Charge of ritualism: Warning to Godly people

16-21 Charge of forgetting God’s judgment: Warning to the Wicked

- 16-17 they hated discipline

- 17 Disdain for God’s Word

- 18 refused to walk separate

- 19-20 wicked speech

22-23 God’s Righteous Judgment

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.373-377 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.627 for more info.

 

3. In Ps 50:7-15, how can following rituals, even rituals from God, be a sin?

A: When you think that doing the rituals makes up for sinning and allows you to sin. Starting in the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church in western Europe had the concept of indulgences. When you sinned a Catholic would believe they would suffer in Purgatory for that sin, unless they did the indulgence, which would be some action or paying money to the church. In fact, if you were going to sin, you could “prepay” the indulgence and then you would have the “license” to sin.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.628 for more info.

 

4. In Ps 50:8-14, how do some people think God is in their debt since they gave to God?

A: They think in terms of a transaction, and think that God owes them since they “paid” God. What they don’t realized is that God has already given us so much that we can’t even begin to outgive God. Second, they don’t realize that God does not need anything. Anything God does through us He could also do through someone else. It is not putting God under obligation to serve Him, rather it is a privilege to serve Him. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.381-382 for more info.

 

5. What does Ps 50:1 emphasize God here?

A: In Hebrew it reads, El, Elohim, Yahweh. It emphasizes who is setting up Court here. El is the general term for God/god. Elohim is a common name for God in the Old Testament. Yahweh is the most holy, personal name for God. The background of Psalm 50 is not just a court a law; rather it is the court of law, the court of divine law. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.373 for more info.

 

6. In Ps 50:5, who are the consecrated ones here?

A: The Hebrew word is hasidim, which comes from the word hesed, or covenant love. The term means consecrated ones, beloved ones, or in other words saints. These are all believers, or in other words, those who have committed their lives to God. When someone thinks you can just grow up as a Christian and become one by osmosis or association, and they object to saying you have to make a decision for Christ; show them this verse. These are people who have made a covenant. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.374 and the New International Bible Commentary p.590-591 for more info.

 


 

Psalm 51 – A Heartbreaking Psalm – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 51:1-19, what is a synopsis of this psalm?

A: Psalm 51 is one of the penitential psalms after David repented of committing adultery with Bathsheba and had Uriah her husband killed. Psalms 6, 32, 38, 39, 78, 79, 102, 106, 130, 143 are also penitential psalms, and Psalm 65 and 73 also speak of sin. Psalm 51 is somewhat symmetric, arranged as a chiasm, like Psalm 25. This complex psalm has seven parts.

51:1-2 Prayer for mercy and cleansing for individual restoration

- 51:3-6 Confession and sorrow

       3-4 David takes responsibility

       5 Not just a slip or aberration

       6 God’s standard has already been taught

- - 51:7-12 Prayer to God, requesting restoration

- 51:13-17 Thanksgiving (sort of matches confession and sorrow)

        13-15 David’s commitment

        16-17 Seeing what God delights in

51:18-19 Prayer for national restoration

   The great preacher Alexander Maclaren once said, “The alchemy of divine love can extract sweet perfumes of penitence and praise out of the filth of sin.” See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.629, The NIV Study Bible p.838 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 5 p.379 for more info.

 

2. In Ps 51, what outward signs are there of unconfessed sins?

A: Some signs are lack of joy, lack of caring, guilt, and a dry prayer life. David also mentions his bones growing old in Psalm 32:3. In Psalm 51:3, the guilt of his sin haunts him day and night. Sometimes people who feal guilt don’t sleep well.

 

3. In Ps 51:1, what is significant about David asking God for mercy according to God’s lovingkindness?

A: David wanted God to reward David according to his righteousness in Psalm 18:20 and indirectly in Psalm 7:3-5. However, David is saying something very different here, after he realized just how sinful he is.

 

4. In Ps 51:4, how did David sin only against God, and not against Uriah?

A: David did sin against Uriah, by taking his wife from him and killing him. That was obvious to David. David’s point here is that as much as David sinned against Uriah, that was still a small thing compared to sinning against the judge of the universe.

 

5. In Ps 51:4-5, why did David say God was judging correctly here?

A: In this verse, David is confessing and acknowledging that God was right to “lower the boom” and severely condemn David for his sin. David did not tell God, “you have to let me off lightly because of our past closeness.” One important aspect of repentance is claiming responsibility for what you did, said, failed to do, and failed to say.

   David might have been thinking of how close he was to God, - or at least use to be. There is no such thing as partial repentance. True repentance is sincere and complete.

 

6. Does Ps 51:5, are people born in sin, or was mankind made upright as Ecc 7:29 says?

A: Both are true. God originally made man without a sinful nature. However, after the Fall, people are born with a sinful nature, estranged from God, and in need of God’s sanctifying grace. See When Critics Ask p.238 for a complementary answer.

 

7. In Ps 51:5, how was David a sinner from birth, made in iniquity?

A: David is saying that he was a sinner from before birth. David did not mean he was born illegitimately, and he is not saying his mother sinned in conceiving David, but rather that his parents were sinners. David obviously did not mean he committed any sinful actions prior to being born. Rather, David is saying that he was a sinner, with a sinful nature, even prior to being born. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.832 adds that at no time in David’s life was he sinless. 735 Baffling bible Questions Answered p.152-153 says this shows David sinned because he was a sinner, and not a sinner only because he later sinned.

   Although this shows the precedence of the sinful nature prior to sinful deeds in David (and us), it does not prove we are guilty for the sins of our parents or ancestors. It does not place the blame for our sinful actions on God, or deny Psalm 139:14, that at the same time we should praise God that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.272-273 for more info.

 

8. In Ps 51:5 show that unborn fetuses are only potential humans?

A: No, this is not saying you are not human until you commit a sin, but rather you have a selfish, sinful nature even before birth. The DNA of an unborn baby are not of the species of bull or chicken, but human, and just as human as you or I. An unborn baby has not committed any personal sin, but he or she is still a sinner by having a sinful nature. See When Critics Ask p.239 for a different answer.

 

9. In Ps 51:7, what is hyssop?

A: Hyssop is a mossy-looking plant that one can use as a brush. Israelites used it during the Passover to paint the lamb’s blood on the doorpost. When Christians re-enact Jewish ceremonies, if they cannot get hyssop, sometimes they substitute broccoli.

 

10. In Ps 51:8, why did David not have joy?

A: David had all the money, power, and wives he could desire. Yet his relationship with God was such that he had no joy and gladness without restoring his relationship with God. David was an accomplished musical composer and musician. But when David sinned, he lost his song. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.630 for more info.

 

11. Since Ps 51:10 appears to be a direct command, is it OK for us to command God?

A: No, David was not commanding anything; he was requesting God to create in Him a clean heart. He knew he could not get rid of his wicked heart himself, so David threw himself wholly on the mercy of God.  We can be confident as we pray that God will keep His promises, and we can ask with confidence, but we have no basis to command God.

 

12. In Ps 51:11, could the Holy Spirit leave a believer?

A: David had good reason to think so. The Holy Spirit apparently left his predecessor, King Saul and an evil spirit came upon him. The Lord left Samson in Judges 16:20 or at least left him as far as his strength was concerned. However, since believers are given the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing our eternal life in Ephesians 1:13-14, things are different in New Testament times.

 

13. In Ps 51:16-17, why did David say God did not desire sacrifices, since God commanded sacrifices in Leviticus and many other places?

A: This would only be a difficulty for someone who failed to grasp the importance of obedience. As Cain learned in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 4:3-5), God does not simply accept every sacrifice given to Him. For example, David knew that God would not accept from David a sacrifice that David took from someone else and which cost him nothing (1 Chronicles 21:24). More to the point, God repeatedly shows that He does not desire any sacrifices by disobedient people (Isaiah 1:10-15; 66:2-4; Jeremiah 6:19-20). God desires obedience, and sacrifices of obedient people do please God (2 Chronicles 7:12-18; 2 Chronicles 30:1-26 especially 26; Ezra 6:17; 9:5).

   See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.274-275 for more info.

 

14. Was Ps 51:18-19 added after the Temple was destroyed?

A: No. Because Psalm 79 was written after the Temple was destroyed, some have thought Psalm 51:18-19 was also, because it mentions building the walls of Jerusalem.

   However, this is not a valid reason to think Psalm 51:18-19 was written later, as David and Solomon extensively built up the walls of Jerusalem. The Temple was built outside of the original walls of the city David captured, and expanding the city to cover the Temple Mount more than doubled the size of the original city.

 


 

Psalm 52-54 – When People Have Done You Wrong – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 52:1-9, what is a synopsis of this psalm?

A: This is a psalm of trust, as is Psalm 1, except that this psalm is in a darker time. It starts with what the evil man Doeg experiences, and finishing with what God’s people will experience. Psalm 1 also has contrasts two views, but Psalm 51 has a third perspective in the middle: what the righteous will see of the end of the wicked. Here is a synopsis.

A. Evil plans lead to a heap of ruins

─ 52:1 Though you boast of evil, God’s love protects me

─ 52:3-4 Your tongue destroys as a sharp razor, you love evil lies more than truth, and your tongue destroys and deceives

─ 52:5 You will be ruined and removed

B. The godly will be in awe of the justice for the wicked

─ 52:6-7 Behold the man who would trust in his wealth and plans instead of God

C. Trust in God and flourish like an olive tree

─ 52:8-9 But David will flourish in God’s unfailing love. David trust God’s executing judgment, for God is good

 

2. In Ps 52:2, since David’s friend Abimelech would have lived if Doeg had not been present, why did a Sovereign God allow Doeg to be there?

A: David had a strong suspicion this would happen in 1 Samuel 21-22, but David was passive here. The answer as to why God allowed this is essentially the same as why does God allow evil. Treachery is a specific kind of evil. God allows evil as a test, a trial, and that we can learn lessons. One way of looking at things is that Abimelech’s life ended early. But another way of looking at this is that Abimelech’s real life, in Paradise, started early. As to why God allows evil, see the various discussions on Habakkuk 1:13 for more info.

 

3. In Ps 53:1-6, what is the relationship to Ps 14:1-7?

A: They look like two versions of the same thought except that Psalm 14 uses Yahweh, and Psalm 53 uses Elohim. Both are by David, and it is guessed that Psalm 53 is the later version. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.834, the New International Bible Commentary p.592, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.632, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.388 for more info.

 

4. In Ps 53:1, what are early references to atheism?

A: Psalm 53:1 and 14:1 are two references, and an extra-Biblical reference is that the philosopher Socrates was falsely accused of atheism before he was executed by drinking hemlock. Aristophanes wrote a play which said that Socrates taught that the gods did not exist, and so Socrates was executed due to a play about him instead of what he actually said. Some Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain schools teach there is no creator. Philo the Jew (15/20 B.C. to 50 A.D.) mentions “the selfish and atheistical mind” in Allegorical Interpretation, I 15 (48) p.30.

 

5. Do Ps 53:2-3 and Ps 14:3 refer to a) people in general, b) every specific individual, or c) every specific individual apart from God?

A: Until you look at other scriptures, the answer might not be clear. Romans 3:10 indicates this scripture is applicable to all people. However, David, who wrote Psalm 53 also wrote that he sought God in Psalm 27:3. Psalms 105:4; 119:2; and Proverbs 28:5 also show that some do seek God. The resolution is that we are so sinful that no one on their own will seek God. However, God has enabled us to seek Him. So the answer is both a and c.

 

6. In Ps 53:3 what is interesting about this word for “corrupt”?

A: This is a totally different word that used in Psalm 53:1. This word literally means “soured” like sour milk. This word is also used in Psalm 14:3 and Job 15:16. Once milk becomes sour, there is nothing you can do to “unsour” it. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.834 for more info.

 

7. In Ps 53:5 why does it say they “feared when there was no fear”?

A: This poetic expression means they feared when there was nothing to fear. If someone tries to claim the writer “accidentally” contradicted himself just three words later, then I think they know they do not know what they are talking about. See When Critics Ask p.239 for a different but complementary answer.

 

8. In Ps 53:6, how should our prayers be like this?

A: This is one of many places where Psalms prays about a longing for God’s kingdom. In the Lord’s prayer one of the phrases is a request for “thy kingdom come”. In Revelation 22:17,20 we are to desire Christ to come soon. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.834 for more info.

 

9. In Ps 54:1-7, what is a synopsis of this psalm?

A: Here is an outline

54:1-2 Pray for deliverance

- 54:3 The reason for the prayer

- - 54:4 Resolution of trust in God in this

- 54:5 Expected result of the prayer

54:6-7 Thanking God in advance for the deliverance

See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.389 for more info.

 

10. In Ps 54:1-3, who are the strangers David is mentioning?

A: It does not specify who these specific people are, but they could be the Ziphites who twice betrayed David and told Saul where he was hiding in 1 Samuel 23:19; 26:1. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.843, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.382, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.834 for more info.

 

11. In Ps 54:3, how should we react when people betray us or rise up against us?

A: Being a Christian is no guaranteed that you won’t ever be betrayed by someone. But as Christians God is very clear; we are not to get revenge. We should pray about our situation, and we can pray about the oppression, but it is not our hand that should get revenge; we can have confidence that God will take care of that.

  As Christians we should do our job, not our job plus God’s job. God’s job is to judge and do vengeance, and our job is loving others and obeying and following God. We are told not to get revenge so let God do His job and we should do ours.

 

12. In Ps 54:4 how is God our helper, since it is we who should be serving and helping God?

A: As Katherine Marshall (I think) once said, Benjamin Franklin was wrong when he said God helps those who help themselves. Rather, God helps those who acknowledge they are helpless. Four points to consider in the answer.

1. God does not require our help to do anything, but He has given us the privilege of helping, and He has prepared good works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

2. We should be helping God do His work, to advance His kingdom, not our work to advance our own empire.

3. Believers even need God’s help to serve Him and follow Him, and in this God is our Helper as we rely on His strength.

4. We should realize that when we realize we are weak and dependent on God, then we are strong, as 2 Corinthians 12:10 says.


 

Psalm 55-56 – In the Darkness God’s Light Sustains Us – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 55:1-23, what is a synopsis of this psalm?

A: Like many Psalm, this is organized as a chiasm. There is a twist though; some phrases that would expect to be near synonyms are actually polar opposites.

Complaint and despair 55:1-3

- How David feels under the circumstances 55:4-8

- - Praying for Justice 55:9-15

- - Confidence in God’s justice 55:16-21

- How we should feel under God 55:22-23a

It all about trust in God 55:23f

See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.393 for more info.

 

2. In Ps 55:1-3 and 55:22-23, what is the difference between a believer living under the circumstances vs. living under God?

A: Someone living under the circumstances can feel that the present situation will last forever. They can feel they are all on their own and feel inadequate. They can have the attitude of “if it’s to be, it’s up to me” which can either lead to a fatalistic depression, or else lead them to do rash things. On the other hand, when things are going very well, they can arrogantly think it is just their own knowledge, skill, power, or even good luck, that brought them what they think they deserve. Someone living under the circumstances has a lot to think about for themselves; they have the concerns, worries, and resigned fatalism.

   A believer living under God realizes that current troubles, as well as current wealth and fame, are temporary. They know that God is with them, and they can reach out to other believers as we are a family and a community. They know that God is adequate and they are just to love and follow Him. They can have the attitude of “if it’s to be, it’s up to us to pray and be empowered by God.” On the other hand, when things are going well, they are full of thanksgiving for God’s gracious bounty. Someone living under God has lots of mental energy available to think about others. As 1 Peter 5:7 says, God will take care of them; but God wants to equip them to help others.

 

3. In Ps 55:4-8 was David fearful in this psalm or was he brave? Is it possible to be both?

A: David was not just afraid, he was terrified. Looking around at his circumstances, and even much of his own army now against him, he likely wondered how we would get out of this alive. But then looking up to God, David saw that He was with him was greater than all his past and current enemies combined.

 

4. In Ps 55:12-13, what is David saying about his enemy here?

A: David was shocked by someone he thought was his friend. They walked and talked together, and even went to worship together. So the treacherous person at least appeared to be a believer, and yet betrayed David. Sometimes people betray their friends for profit, and other times from fear.

   The psalm does not say specifically who this enemy was, but the phrase “took sweet counsel together” in Psalm 55:14a might furnish us a clue. This is consistent with the advisor Ahithophel in 2 Samuel 16:21-17:14. Ahithophel was once of David’s trusted advisors, and later advised David’s rebellious son Absalom how to kill David’s men and get David. In fact, in 2 Samuel 17:1 Ahithophel asked Absalom to give him 12,000 soldiers and Ahithophel wanted to go after David himself!

   See the Believer’s bible Commentary p.633 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.835 for more info.

 

5. In Ps 55:19, many people have no fear or regard for God, because they don’t think God will punish them. How do we tell them in a way that can get through to them?

A: People often think they will escape punishment in this life a lot more than actually happens. However, some people do pretty much escape any bad consequences in this life. But as even an agnostic, a former editor of the Scientific American magazine, Marvin Gardiner, wrote, if a person believes in justice, they have to believe in an afterlife. Some think that what you don’t see, and what you don’t know, can’t hurt you. But if you are standing on some train tracks, and a train is coming, will the train miss you because you don’t see it coming, because you have your eyes closed? Judgement is real. 100% of all evil will be punished. Unless Jesus’ atonement takes away someone’s sins, they have to bear their own punishment.

   Pray to God that He will soften their heart. Try to understand their viewpoint, and as 1 Peter 3:15 says to always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in you.

 

6. In Ps 55:20-21, how can someone metaphorically stab someone who was not opposing them, with a smile on their face?

A: Occasionally Christians make the mistake of thinking that everyone views life the way Christians do. While we are to love people and use things, some love things and use people. Sometimes when someone betrays someone else, it is not personal, they are just discarding that relationship like you throw away an empty bottle, after you have gotten out of it all you wanted. Others might betray you with pleasure, for some perceived slight you did to them that you might be totally unaware of. But we should never be that way. As believers we should be as wise as serpents, but as innocent as doves, as Jesus says in Matthew 10:16.

 

7. In Ps 55:22, how can we cast our burdens on the Lord today?

A: 1 Peter 5:7 says to cast your cares upon God because He cares for you. We are often tempted to worry about things we can do nothing about; let God do the worrying for you; you don’t need to. Sometimes we worry about things that we can do something about. We should not worry about it, but we should pray and be diligent to do what should be done. Some things look like they are in the first category, but when we explore a bit, we might find come up with a solution that was an in fact do. Casting your burdens on the Lord is not an excuse to be lazy, or to be fatalistic. It still means to work hard, but be concerned that you are doing what God wants you to do, and leave the results to God.

   Second, once you turn over your burdens to God, there can be a temptation to take them back again. Once you have given them over, then keep them out of your own hands. Don’t give up, and do what God wants you to do; but just worrying will not help anything. We are all familiar with Jesus’ teaching on the lilies of the field, but actually the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 is filled with things we could be worried about but are not supposed to be.

   Third, know that sometimes God puts certain people, even difficult people, into your life for a reason. It might be to help you build up patience, break down your pride, or, as you deal with them, you learn how to deal with others like them, both for your own benefit and to instruct others.

   As Jesus bore the burden of our sins, He also wants to bear the burden of our cares. (adapted from Bishop Horne) See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.634-635 for more info.

 

8. In Ps 55:23f, how else do we trust our life in God, in addition to believing that God’s words are true?

A: There is always a path in life that seems the safest path to take, if there were no God. At some points it is the same path we should take in following God, but in everyone’s life there will be times where they diverge, and you have to choose between following God completely or instead taking the safest-looking path. Of course, the safest-looking path is not always the safest path. It would have looked “safer” to Abram to just have stayed in Ur, instead of moving out west to who knows where. What Abram did not know though, is that within 50 years the mighty city of Ur would be destroyed by the Elamites and the populations enslaved. Abram, in following God, actually did the safest thing, though he did not know that and it would not look like the safest thing at the time. When God commanded Jonah to travel to a wicked, violent city of Nineveh, the safest-looking thing was to sail the opposite way. But when this believer was disobedient, we know how that worked out. So the best advice is not to “stay safe”, though it is not “be risky” either. The best advice is to fully follow after God.

 

9. In Ps 56:1-13, what is the emphasis of this prayer?

A: David mentions “I”, “me”, and “my” 31 times, refers to God, Lord, or You 16 times, and refers to his enemies or evil men 14 times. Other psalms of David have different emphases, but this psalm shows that praying for yourself is OK too.

   Chiasms are common in Hebrew poetry, with patterns such as A, B, C, C’, B’, A’. This psalm is close to this pattern, and it is interesting to see the deviation.

The basic pattern is

1-2 Cry to God for help from his attackers

¾ 3-4 Trust in God when we are afraid

¾ 5-6 What the enemies are doing

¾ ¾ 7-9 What God will do to them when David prays

¾ 10-11 Trust in God and not be afraid

12-13 Thanksgiving in advance for deliverance over despair

Note that asking for mercy is coupled with thanking for deliverance. Note that David speaks of “when he is afraid” in verse 3, yet only says he will not be afraid in verse 4 and 11.

 See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.398 for more info.

 

10. In Ps 56:4,11, how can we choose not to be afraid?

A: David was honest to mention “when he was afraid” in Psalm 56:3. Yet David (and we) can conquer our fear. David conquered his fear by looking to God, trusting in God’s faithful word, and asking what can man do to him? The answer is that man can do nothing to David, except what God allows. Furthermore, the worst man can do is kill David so that he will dwell with God in Heaven sooner.

   Peter also had to choose not to be afraid when Jesus asked Peter to walk on the water. Like a tightrope walker should not look down and panic, we must keep our eyes on Jesus.

   When we are afraid, we can ask ourselves four questions:

1. Why are we afraid?

2. On what are we focusing?

3. On what does it make sense for us to focus, or rather, on Who?

4. We should be concerned and diligent, but does it really make sense for us to be afraid when we trust in God?

 

11. In Ps 56:5, why do some people twist other people’s words?

A: There are at least two reasons.

Deliberately “waging war” on others is what some do, and their main weapon is the false words they use.

Recklessly assuming a meaning, even when closer observation would show the assumption wrong, is a common thing people do when either they do not care what the person really meant, or they actually desired the person to have the assumed meaning. When we share the gospel, and when people read the Bible, some people will actively try to interpret things the way they desire. In fact, some people believe they can interpret a book, such as the Bible, in whatever way “means the most” to them, regardless if that were the original meaning or not.

 

12. In Ps 56:5, are there ways to reduce the opportunity to twist your words?

A: Try to make sure no half-sentence conveys the opposite of what you believe. Says what you mean before you explain what you did not mean. Be careful when introducing hypothetical scenarios, as some might think you are saying they really happened or will happen. Be very careful when using sarcasm, as either some might not understand, or others might dismiss you solely because of your tone.

 

13. In Ps 56:8, no one can say God gave his faithful servant David an easy, stress-free life. How can we better cope with stress in our life?

A: God considers how we deal with challenges as precious things to remember. God puts our tears in a bottle, and record them in His book. This beautiful expression means that the sadness and disappointments believers bear are carefully remembered by God. He will wipe every tear from our eyes according to Revelation 21:4.

   Psalm 34:19 says that though the righteous have many afflictions, God will deliver us out of all of them.

 

14. In Ps 56:9 we sometimes just assume that God will turn back our enemies, but what has to happen first?

A: You have to cry out to God for help to save you. Sometimes we don’t get what we need, because we don’t ask God.


 

Psalm 57-58 – Safe in God’s Shadow when Judgment Comes – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 57:1-11, where was this psalm written?

A: The superscript says it was when David was in a cave hiding from Saul. There are two times when David did that; one in the cave of Adullam in 1 Samuel 22:1, and one in a cave at en-Gedi in 1 Samuel 24:1. Feeling he is in a shadow, God’s shadow, would be very appropriate here. Psalms 56 and 57 are likely placed here because they go together.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.636, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.401 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.836 for more info.

 

2. In Ps 57, what is a synopsis of this psalm?

A: David is seeking reassurance of God’s protection here. Psalm 57 has three parts: crying out to God, 2) the danger described, and 3) David’s godly response. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.836, the New International Bible Commentary p.594, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.401-402 say there are two parts: the lament 57:1-4 and thanksgiving 57:6-10. Both parts have the ABCDC’A’B’D pattern with a refrain at the end of each part

1 Prayer for God to deliver him

- 2-3 pray for vindication, love and faithfulness

- - 4 The enemies

- - - 5 Refrain

- - 6 The enemies

- 7-8 Thanksgiving for strength

9-10 Thanking God for His love and faithfulness

11 Refrain

This is similar to a chiasm except that A’ and B’ are reversed and the refrains.

 

3. In Ps 57, is it easier to praise God when things are going well, or going poorly?

A: Believers would give different answers.

When things go poorly, some are more prone to discouragement (Jeremiah), acting out of fear (Abraham), or even bitterness (Naomi). After being exhausted, Elijah feared Jezebel’s threat.

When things go well, some are more prone to pride (Uzziah), take God’s commands lightly (Saul), think they are above God’s laws (Solomon), led astray by money and idols (Gideon), and led astray by women (Samson, David, Solomon). After the were rescued from catastrophes, Noah and Lot sinned. After standing up to the Assyrians, Hezekiah both had pride and did not want to die.

In all situations, some believers are constantly faithful, as Joshua, Deborah, Joseph, and Daniel.

 

4. In Ps 57, what is a broken spirit and broken heart?

A: A contrite heart is one that is sorry for what was done, said, or not done. It could also be sorry for what they are or have become. It is also a heart that wants to change and not sin again. A broken spirit is closely related. It is one that realizes that the previous way that was followed was wrong and not to be followed, but also a realization that we cannot make things right with God. It is only God who makes things right with us. Finally, a broken heart realizes that we cannot make the changes that are needed. Rather than despair, it can also be a heart full of hope, knowing that God desires to make the changes in us, and a heart of resolve, that knows the changes must be made.

 

5. In Ps 57:3, what does the word “reproach” mean here?

A: While God will avenge people, that is not precisely what this means. It means that they will be reproached, i.e. God will have them look bad before others, because of what they did.

 

6. In Ps 57:6, why does David often mention nets?

A: Nets do not look very impressive or very strong. Yet, even a boy with enough stones can kill a powerful lion, if the lion is immobilized in a net. People too can be caught, and even eventually die, by little, unimpressive snares and sins that do not look too powerful. Are there any nets in your life that make you spiritually vulnerable?

 

7. In Ps 57:8, what is meant by I will awaken the dawn?

A: In those times of limited lighting, usually it is the light of dawn the wakes people up. But David is saying that he will be up even earlier, and instead he will wake up the dawn, so to speak. See the New International Bible Commentary p.595 for more info.

 

8. In Ps 58:1-11, what is ironic here?

A: This psalm is about doing something that is not often done today: judging the judges. When people declare certain things politically correct, or right versus wrong, based on their own opinions, who judges these judges? See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.836-837 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.637 for more info.

 

9. In Ps 58, how should we deal with injustice by those in authority today?

A: There are a number of steps to think about.

First of all, keep our spirits up, realizing that all injustice against us is temporary, until we go to Heaven.

Second, don’t just think about yourself, but see if others are suffering from this injustice too. We are to help the oppressed.

Third, if you can get out from under the injustice, and help the others get out from the injustice, without hurting others or risking something worse, then do so. If you live in a democracy, and there is an unjust politician, would it be within the realm of possibility for you to run for office to take his or her position?

Fourth, sometimes you realize that there is nothing you can do without making things worse. Jesus understands injustice, because He suffered injustice too.

Fifth, see if this is a learning opportunity, that God would have you learn something here. People can be very sensitive to even the smallest injustice against themselves, but mostly oblivious, or even worse, uncaring, about injustice done to other people. Once you get out of this situation, or even before, can you be a change agent to help fight the injustice of others who are oppressed?

Most important, ask God what He would have you do in this situation. The answer could be very different in different situations, so you need to ask for wisdom from God to know what to do.

 

10. In Ps 58:3, how do the wicked go astray and speak lies even from the womb?

A: This is obviously a poetic hyperbole, as newborn infants do not speak, whether lies or truth. This can refer to four complementary things:

a) Everyone is born with a sinful nature, a natural tendency to sin.

b) From birth they are separated from God and in need of His grace.

c) God, who sees the end from the beginning, can see how reprobate people follow their own chosen direction even from birth.

d) Even little children can learn from the example of their parent’s sins.

 

11. In Ps 58:4, what is a deaf adder?

A: This was a poisonous snake that lived around the Mediterranean Sea. The word “cobra” used in the NKJV, is not correct; cobras do not live in the Mideast.

 


 

Psalm 59-60 – Dealing with Setbacks in your Life – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 59:1-17, what is a synopsis of this psalm?

A: While Psalm 59 and 60 likely were circumstances they flow together nicely. Psalm 59 is about praying to God not to suffer defeat (physical, in public opinion, or otherwise) by Saul’s men, and Psalm 60 is praying to God after having suffered a defeat. Psalm 59 splits naturally into two parts: verses 1-10 and 11:17 with a similar refrain to both parts in verses 9-10 and 17.

1-2 Request for deliverance

- 3-4 Description of his enemies

- - 5 Request for God’s vengeance

- - - 6-7 In th evening they roam, growling like a dog

- - - - 8-9 Expectation of God’s coming through

11-12 Request to bring down his enemies but not to slay them

- - 13 May God’s handling of David’s enemies be glorifying to God

- - - 14-15 In th evening they roam, growling like a dog

- - - - 16-17 So sing, celebrating God’s power

See the New International Bible Commentary p.596 for more info.

 

2. In Ps 59:6-7,14-15, why does David compare his enemies to dogs here?

A: It is not very complimentary. Stray dogs had no owners, and just ate the garbage that people left. They would sleep and appear very docile by day. But in the evening, when it was dark, they would prowl for food. They would not attack anyone during the day, with so many people around. But letting a child go out at night alone would not be good.

   Dogs don’t think about God; and likewise, these enemies think there are no consequences at night, when they won’t be caught. After all, “who hears?” They might seem nice one-on-one, but in a group they follow the pack.

   Similarly, sometimes enemies can appear docile and friendly when they are being watched by others. They might only strike when they feel they won’t get caught.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.837 for more info.

 

3. In Ps 59:11-12, why does David ask God NOT to kill them here?

A: David is not after their death; rather he wants them to be humiliated in their pride, when others see how they are brought down.

 

4. In Ps 59:13, how are wicked people “consumed in wrath”?

A: There are two ways. The primary way is that in the future, unless the repent, they will be destroyed by God’s wrath. Secondarily, right now their hearts can be eaten up with hatred and strife.

 

5. In Ps 59:15, what is the correct translation here?

A: It can be one of two ways.

“Let them wander” is what the KJV and Green’s literal translation say. The New International Bible Commentary p.596 similarly says “make them wander”.

“They wander/roam” is how the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NET, NRSV, translate it. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 5 p.413 indicates the evil men presently were doing that.

While the dogs were growling in the evening, David was singing in the morning.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.639 for more info.

 

6. In Ps 59:16-17, David sings because God is His defense. Can David be certain God will not let him have any setbacks or defeats?

A: No. The next psalm was after a fierce battle, and God had “shown the people hard things”. Similarly, under Moses they did not win all of their battles either. After the report of the ten spies persuaded the people to not go in, God told them they would die in the desert, they decided on their own to invade Canaan, and they were defeated. Likewise, Joshua suffered defeat at Ai.

   So, following God does not mean we will never make mistakes, or that the people we rely on will not make mistakes. It also does not mean we won’t suffer setbacks or defeats. But it does mean that God will carry us through those setbacks, and even though we will not win every battle, in Christ we will win the war. God does not forget us. In both victory and defeat, we are waiting on God, our champion.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.409,414 for more info.

 


 

Psalm 60-61 – Dealing with Setbacks in your Life – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 60:1-12, what is an outline of this psalm?

A: Psalm 60 was written after having suffered a setback. Here is a synopsis.

1-4 The cause of the defeat is said to be the Lord

5 But Israel’s hope is in the Lord

6-8 The Ord promised victory, eventually

9-11 Israel’s Needs the Lord

12 Israel can be confident in the Lord

See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.639 for more info.

 

2. In Ps 60:1 in the heading, were 12,000 Edomites killed, or 18,000 as 1 Chr 18:12 says?

A: There are three possible answers.

1) This most likely is a copyist error, as Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.130-131 points out.

2) The army might have had multiple divisions. 1 Chronicles 18:12-13 that the army division under David’s nephew Abishai killed 18,000, while in Psalm 60 the soldiers under Joab killed 12,000 Edomites. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.608 has this view.

3) It is thought that subscriptions above the Psalms were added later, so the subscription about Psalm 60, whether the number is correct or not, is not scripture.

 

3. In Ps 60:5, how should we pray, when we have experienced setback or defeat?

A: A setback could be job-wise, family-wise, or ministry-wise. A defeat could be due to trusting in someone that could not be relied upon, or letting God down by our sin. The setback or defeat has already happened, but what has not happened yet is our response to it. We can respond by drawing closer to God, in repentance if needed, and that we would be stronger in the Lord as a result of this unpleasant experience. Or we can let their setback or defeat weaken us, or break us, and cast us into a no man’s land of indecision and doubt. The choice is ours, whether we draw closer to God or farther away.

 

4. In Ps 60:6 and Ps 108:7, how did God divide Shechem?

A: This refers to parceling out the land to the Israelites who conquered it. The NIV Study Bible p.847 says that mentioning Shechem (west of the Jordan River) and Succoth (east of the Jordan River) might have been symbolic for all of the conquest under Joshua.

   Rather than the phrase “from His sanctuary”, “by his holiness” is a better translation according to the New International Bible Commentary p.597.

 

5. In Ps 60:8-12 and Ps 108:9-13, why did God help David’s army, since He never told them to fight against some of the peoples?

A: David fought against all his enemies, old and new. As for the Ammonites and Syrians, it was they who chose to be David’s enemies, not the other way around. The nation of Edom was smaller than Israel, but they became a serious threat when combined with another small nation, the Ammonites, new enemy, the more numerous Syrians (also called Aramaeans).

   Besides people who might want to see us fall, we also have enemies of the world, the flesh, and the devil. There is no place to make a compromising agreement with these enemies.

 

6. In Ps 60:9-12, what key application is there for us today in our battles?

A: This psalm, like many other places, speaks of us having confidence and hope in God. But unlike other places, Psalm 60 speaks of having confidence and hope in God even after our setback or defeat. Depend on God even after a setback. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.838 for more info.

 

7. In Ps 61:1-8, what is an outline of this Psalm?

A: Psalm 61 is a psalm of when we need God to shelter us. This psalm has four parts.

1-2 A prayer for protection

3-5 Remembering God past work and future promise

6-7 Another prayer for protection

8 Expectant hope in God’s promise

See The Expositor’s Commentary on the Bible vol.5 p.418 for more info.

 

8. In Ps 61, what can we do when our faith feels faint?

A: Just as David did remember how God carried us through in the past. Realized that God will lead you to a rock higher than you. The Rock is Himself, but your life can be lifted to a higher place than you are right now. But David is not only asking for the Rock, he is asking to be led to the rock.

   See The Expositor’s Commentary on the Bible vol.5 p.419 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.838 for more info.

 

9. In Ps 61:1-2, how did David pray from the ends of the earth?

A: David is not geographically in the remotest part of the earth, but he is probably not in Israel here and he feels he is in an extreme predicament. From anywhere and everywhere, even the ends of the earth, he would cry out to God. Of course, Christian business people who travel today can pray from the ends of the earth too. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.641 for more info.

 

10. In Ps 61:2-4, what are the images here?

A: The are five metaphors of taking cover here. Verse 2 has a higher rock; verse 3 has a shelter and a strong tower. Verse 4 has a tabernacle and the shelter of God’s wings. Each of these emphasize God sheltering us in a slightly different way.

From a high rock you can not only see, but you are above enemy soldiers easily getting too you and perhaps out of range of most arrows.

A shelter or tent protects against the storm, cold, and the sun.

A strong tower gives 100% protection against the enemy while the tower stands.

A tabernacle is a place to have intimacy with God. When our spirit feels weary, we can be refreshed spiritually.

Shelter of God’s wings is like a bird keeps the chicks warm and protected from rain.

   See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.383 for more info.

 

11. In Ps 61:3, what is the interplay between relying on God to lead us, and making our own decisions?

A: God can tell us what to do directly through His word, for example: don’t steal. Some things we can learn by precept; for example, since the Bible says don’t steal, use pirated software or music; pay for it. Sometimes God can make decisions for us by opening and closing doors. Other times God can lead us to do certain things, like take a particular job or not. But other times God wants us to make the decision, and to develop our own decision-making capabilities, under the Lordship of Christ.

   In the Bible David is a good example of relying on God. He could have given up, publicly refused to be a king, and run away to another country. But David relied on God to make him king. David is also a good example of making our own decisions too. David was on the run from Saul, had to hide in caves a few times, and (rightly or wrongly) decided to cut off a piece of Saul’s robe to show Saul how loyal he was.

   Personally, many years ago I had to choose whether or not to take a new job vs. keep the existing job that I had. I prayed about it, and I believe God spoke to me about that. Here was what God said: “you decide”. I submitted the decision to God and made my decision. Many times, we are to make the decision, but we should submit the decision to God, and allow Him to overrule us without getting upset.

   What if you make a wrong decision and start going the wrong way? Someone once said that God doesn’t guide parked cars. Whether you tell a car to turn left or turn right makes no difference if the car is not going to move anyway. But if we are trying to follow God, and we ever make a wrong decision (which we will), that is OK because God can tell us to make a U-turn.

 

12. In Ps 61:4, what wings do you think David had in mind?

A: These could be the wings of the cherubim that were over the mercy seat of the ark. Or they could be a metaphor for how an eagle or other bird takes care of her little chicks. Or it could be both. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.642 for more info.

 

13. In Ps 61:6, how should we pray for protection?

A: Don’t make your safety your idol, but it is good to pray for protection, as David did here. Pray without ceasing. David specifically prayed that God would be his shelter, that God would listen to him, and that God will keep His promises. So, David does not have to wait until the circumstances seem safe; David can sing and praise God right now! See The Expositor’s Commentary on the Bible vol.5 p.420 for more info.

 

14. In Ps 61:6-7, what is curious about the pronouns and nouns here?

A: The pronouns change from “I” to “the king”. Verses 1-5 have ten usages of “I”, “me”, or “my”. Verses 6-7 are the “king” and “he” two times. Then verse 8 is “I” two times and “my”. David stops thinking only about himself and also considers future kings.

   Today when we find ourself in a hard situation, stop and think if there are other people in the same situation too. When you pray, you might want to pray for them also. Also, when you see the situation some others are in, you could see that your problem might not be as big an issue as you thought.

   See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.383 for more info.

 


 

Psalm 62 – Confidence in Our Rock – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 62:1, besides just listening to and obeying God, how are we to wait upon God today?

A: Remember that God our Rock is Higher than us. We are secure on the rock and safe in the Tent. We can apply this verse in almost every context of our lives in at least five ways.

Worship: Servants of a king does not ask how what they are doing is helping themselves; rather they are asking how it is helping the king. While we might still enjoy a worship service, or get something out of it, those are not the reasons why we should be there. We are these to glorify God, because worship is about Him, not us.

Help: Are we actively asking God to help us in our life and ministry to Him, or are we trying to do things on our own power?

Leadership: Do we wish God’s help to follow us in our work, or do we try to follow the Spirit in His work? Joshua asked the angel if the angel was on Joshua’s side or not. But while Joshua was asking “a” or “b”, the angel answered: neither, rather “c”. The angel did not answer the question directly, because the angel was not on the side of a sinful man. Rather Joshua should have realized that Joshua needed to be on the angel’s side. (Joshua 5:13-15). We should not ask if God is on our side; rather we should be concerned that we are on God’s side.

Guidance: Do we want to serve God “in our own way”, or are we perfectly content to serve God in His way for us?

Timing: Do we wait for God’s timing, or do we think is any time good for us? (John 7:6)

   See the New International Commentary on the Bible p.597 for more info.

 

2. In Ps 62:2,6,7 how is God a rock, metaphorically?

A: God is like a rock in at least three ways.

A mountain is a very big rock; you can’t go through it; you have to go around.

A rock is hard; hitting a rock is not going to do much to it.

A rock is rather permanent; changing reasons, rain, hail, and sun do not affect it.

God and His protection are like that for us.

 

3. In Ps 62:2,6, what does it mean for us to be unshaken or unmoved?

A: We are not the rock, but if we stand on a high rock, we will be safe from a flood. It does not mean that we think bad things will not happen to us. And it does not mean we should not adapt quickly to changing situations. Rather, it means that our peace, presence of mind, and confidence should not be disturbed because of what mere humans are doing.

 

4. In Ps 62:4f, how do you deal with “double-tongued” people?

A: These people speak well in front of you, but they speak against you behind your back. First of all, make sure you are not a person like that yourself. Sometimes people might be that way towards you because they think, rightly or wrongly, that you are that way towards them. Here are some things to do.

1) Pray to God about them, that God would protect you from their lies. Lies can separate friends and make people not like you without you having any clue as to why.

2) Deal with them carefully; often the less you tell them the better.

3) When you do speak, be careful of your words; they might be repeated by them in the most unfavorable light.

4) Try to understand why they feel and act the way they do. Perhaps there is a way you can make peace with them. Romans 12:18 says as far as is possible, be at peace with everyone.

   See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.383, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.643-644, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.421 for more info.

 

5. In Ps 62:9, why should we consider some people as just a vapor or a lie?

A: Jesus said we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, and we are to value other people, since all men and women are made in the image of God. But that being said, sometimes we can care too much about what other people say and think of us. You the other person will not let there be a reconciliation, there comes a point where their criticisms or gaslighting of you should just be ignored. At some point you should just move on with your life, and not care about what negative things they might say about you. However, you might will have a need to defend your reputation in the eyes of others,

 

6. In Ps 62:12, since God renders to each according to his work, is this the eastern concept of karma?

A: No. While there are similarities, there are significant differences.

1) It is a living being, God, who meets out justice, not an impersonal force of the universe.

2) Some people do not get justice for their evil actions in this life; they die “unjustly” getting much better than they deserve.

3) But God has a day, called Judgment Day, where before the Great White Throne judgment everyone will get what they deserve.

 


 

Psalm 63 – Thirsting for God in a Dry Land – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 63:1, should this be earnestly or eagerly?

A: The Hebrew word means “eagerly”, but it is related to the word for “s-h-r” which is related to the dawn, so some have thought this meant “early” and considered this a psalm to say in the morning. Of course, if you are eager to seek God, then you will do it as soon as you can.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.840 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.425-426 for more info.

 

2. In Ps 63:5 how are we to cultivate an appetite for God?

A: The literal Hebrew says that David was satisfied as with marrow (the blood-producing region at the end of long bones), and fatness. These were considered delicacies. This means that the soul would have would feast and abound, not merely have enough to survive. Seeking God should feel as fulfilling as these things (and probably healthier too!) Actually, the Israelites were forbidden to eat fat (Leviticus 3:16; 7:23), so being to God is better than even forbidden things.

   So the point is that David enjoyed worshipping in God’s presence, because David had an “craving” for God. We too should cultivate a craving for God by spending time with Him in prayer and in His word.

   Christians have seen these throughout the centuries. When we sing the traditional hymn “Be though my vision”, many Christians might not be aware that this is a traditional Irish hymn that goes back to around the eight century A.D.

   See the New International Bible Commentary p.598, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.840, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.425, and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.644 for more info.

 

3. In Ps 63:8, how are we to “follow close behind” God?

A: To not follow closely implies going to the same destination, but being haphazard about the route and stops. To follow closely means not just wanting to approximately do God’s will, but to prayerfully do it in the right way, in the right timing, with the right companions, and the right motivation.

 

4. In Ps 63:9-11, how should adversity affect our closeness to God?

A: Some people are grateful and close to God because God keeps them from adversity. Satan falsely accused Job of being that way in Job 1:9-12. On the other hand, some people draw close to God because of adversity, either hoping that God will help them, or grateful that God did help them. Scripture does not criticize either situation. However, a better way is to stay close to God regardless of adversity. It is perhaps a different skill to stay close to God when things are going well (and it is easy to forget Him), than to stay close to God despite the fact that God has allowed things to go very poorly. We should be close to God in all situations.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.427 for more info.

 

5. In Ps 63:10, how are violent and slanderous people just “jackal-food”?

A: Jesus said that those who live by the sword die by the sword. For those who try to achieve things by either violence, slander, or lies, other people who have no qualms about doing the same to them. Being unburied, and food for jackals was a dishonorable for a corpse. See the New International Bible Commentary p.598 for more info.

 


 

Psalm 64 – The Archery Battle – some brief answers

 

Q: In Ps 64:1, what does it mean to preserve my life from the fear of the enemy?

A: David in many places asks for protection from his enemies, but that is not what he is praying for here. David is praying to preserve his life from fear. Even though the enemy is still out there, David does not have to live in fear of the enemy, even though David might be tempted to do so. Also, sometimes when people are very afraid, they can do foolish things that harm their position.

   Likewise, our prayer should be that we live without fear, except for the fear of the Lord. It is not to say that bad things won’t happen to us, or that we won’t suffer defeats, but we do not need to live in fear of those future, vague, uncertain things.

   David knows that not only are the enemies out there, but they are skillfully conspiring on how to trap him to do him in. But even then, God can not only thwart them, but even make them stumble over their own words, as Psalm 64:8 says.

   Finally, let’s not take our eyes off of the goal. It is not for safety and protection, and it is not that the enemies be publicly defeated; rather in Psalm 64:9-10 it is that people would glorify God.

 

Q: In Ps 64:2, since godly believers should not be doing wrong, why should be concerned by the secret counsel of others?

A: Sometimes a person can be unjustly accused by deceiving witnesses. David also was concerned about Doeg and others possibly turning David over to Saul. Others plotted against Daniel, even though Daniel gave no reason for the others to accuse him.

 

Q: In Ps 64:3,4,7 what is the significance of arrows here?

A: In a sense this psalm is about two archery battles; the first is the wicked plotting to shoot their many arrows at David; and the second is God shooting at the wicked, and just one arrow is enough.  Arrows are weapons, that if they hit, can hurt from afar. They hit suddenly, but they do not hit in secret.  See the Believers Bible Commentary p.645 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.383 for more info.

 

Q: In Ps 64:4-5, how do arrows differ from snares?

A: Whether the arrow was shot openly or secretly, the victim did nothing to cause the arrow to come to him. But a snare is a trap that the victim is lured to, either to die from the trap itself, like a beartrap, or to be pinned down so that the enemy can kill the victim at any time later. Satan uses both arrows and snares. When Job was attacked, those were arrows; Job did nothing to cause those calamities to happen to him. But when Absalom rebelled form David, it was prophesied that David would have war after David fell into the snare of committing adultery and murder, which lost the people’s respect. We need to call out to God for help from both. And when we are ensnared on account of our own sin, we need to call out to a merciful God all the more.

 


 

Psalm 65-66 – Shout for Joy that God Provides – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 65:2,5, how is it awesome that God answers our prayers?

A: God who created not only the universe, but time itself, is so great and vast. Yet He even stoops to listen to the prayers of the smallest child. God has promised to do that, but God did not have to, because God did not have to promise. God does not do that out of a duty, because God delights in doing so. He listens to our prayers, even ones that might have some nonsense in them from His perspective, because He loves us.

 

2. In Ps 65:3, what provision is mentioned here that is different from the rest of the psalm?

A: Other places mention deliverance from droughts, natural disasters, and enemies; but this is deliverance from another enemy: yourself. The psalmist is praising God while acknowledging that his iniquities prevail, or have had victory, over him. Yet he still praises God anyway, knowing the God will provide atonement. The Hebrew word here, kipper, means to cover over or to wipe off. If can include by intercession or paying a ransom. See the New International Bible Commentary p.599-600 for more info.

 

3. In Ps 65:4, do those chosen to bring near to the temple courts just the Levites, or all of God’s people?

A: All of the people were a kingdom of priests in Exodus 19:6. Not only could every Israelite could enter the temple courts, but every Israelite was commanded to assemble together a couple of times a year.

However, not just anyone can approach God. The situation with the sons of Korah in Numbers 16:5 shows that it is by invitation only. But God has invited us all to approach Him, on His terms. Jeremiah 30:21 shows the terms: He who has pledged His heart to God can and will come before Him.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.433-434 for more info.

 

4. In Ps 65:7, when does God still the noise of the seas?

A: Calming the stormy seas is small demonstration of the power God has. God can calm the literal ocean, but “seas” also are a metaphor for people and chaos. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.434 says.

 

5. In Ps 65:9-13, how does God bless people with prosperity?

A: God does not bless believers with prosperity for no reason at all. He does it for a purpose. God blesses us that we would glorify Him, and use our prosperity to help others and further His kingdom. If you do not praise God for what He has given you, and you do not offer gifts from your money for His use, then there would be no reason for God to bless you with prosperity, would there?

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.841 for more info.

 

6. In Ps 65:11, how does God crown the year with His goodness?

A: The idea is the annual cycle of planting and harvest. In various ways today we plant products, idea, and invest, where uncertainty can take its toll. But praised God when things do come through. If they are expected to be successful most of the time, we still praise God for those things.

 

7. Is Ps 66:1-20 primarily a national psalm of thanksgiving, or an individual psalm of thanksgiving?

A: Believing scholars disagree on this, probably because there are elements of both. Verses 1-12 are corporate, with no hint of this just being an individual praise. In Psalm 66:15 goats and rams were specified for national sacrifices, though an individual could bring those too. But verses 13-15 are strictly individual, and 16-17 are the individual spreading the word to the nations. For us, the things that happen to God’s people should be just as important as the things that happen to us individually. The praise for what God has done for us individually we should spread to everyone. The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.647 has likened this psalm to a chorus with a solo part.

 

8. In Ps 66:2-3, how can we sing out the “honor” of God or make “His praises glorious”?

A: While we cannot change anything about God, by our lives and words we can change how people view God. We can glorify God bring honor to His name, or even dishonor, by the respect we show Him, how we live, and what we say.

 

9. In Ps 66:4, how does the earth bow down to God?

A: It bows down in two different ways, both mentioned in this psalm.

Ps 66:6 God’s works on the non-living earth praise Him, such as turning the sea into dry land during the time of the Exodus.

Ps 66:8 the people of the earth praise God.

 

10. In Ps 66:6 when did God turn the sea into dry land, and how does God do that today?

A: God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites. When God parted the Jordan River for Joshua, they went through the river on foot. In both cases, what was an impossible barrier was suddenly removed and they went through. If there is an impossible barrier for you to go through, don’t make the false assumption that it is impossible for God to carry you through that barrier. And when He does, make sure to praise Him for it. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.647 for more info.

 

11. In Ps 66:5 and Jn 1:46, how are we to cultivate a “come and see” attitude today?

A: This who psalm could also be title “come and see”, because of all the good things God has done in various ways, or come and hear in Psalm 66:16. Part of our evangelism should be a winsome “come and see” that the Lord is good. We should invite the whole world to experience the love of God.

      See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.648 and the New International Bible Commentary p.600-601 for more info.

 

12. In Ps 66:8-12, it sounds like the psalmist is praising God for hard times too. Why is that?

A: David is praising God that God refined and hardened him too. Even though times might have been hard, they prepared him for the success he would have later, and he would not trade them for the lack of character development. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.647 for more info.

 

13. In Ps 66:13-15, how do “financial optimization” in our life run directly counter to obeying God’s word?

A: Financial optimization is doing everything legally possible to maximize your profit, finances, or return on investment. But here in Psalms and other places we are to give generously to God. We will offer our money to God, but even in the Old Testament their “freewill offerings” were giving up financially above and beyond the minimum the law commanded them to give. We should be totally devoted to God, not our own gain.

   It really comes to down to a matter of the perspective of our heart. Is our desire to maximize the riches for us, on our brief time on earth? Or is it to maximize glorifying God, and laying up treasures in heaven?

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.647 for more info.

 

14. In Ps 66:18, how does cherishing iniquity in our heart mean that God will not hear our prayer?

A: Our requests need to be from sincerity, not hypocrisy. We will not receive if we ask just to spend on our pleasures, as James 4:3 says. We also might be asking for a lesser good thing, when God wants our focus to be a great good thing, deliverance from the unrepentant sin in our lives.

   But God did hear David’s prayer, even after David committed murder and adultery and murder with Uriah and his wife. But David repented of his sin. So, life with God was not over for David when he sinned. After he repented, God would hear his prayers again.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.842 and the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.5 p.238 for more info.

 


 

Psalm 67-68 – God Moves – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 67:1 and Num 6:25, what does it mean for God’s face to shine upon us?

A: While it in part means that God has been and is currently blessing us in this world, it also means so much more. It means that God is “smiling at us”, as we are pleasing Him and reflecting His glory. As a light shines in the darkness in Philippians 2:15, our lives are to shine on this dark word. As we do so, we are transformed by His glory in 2 Corinthians 3:18. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.440 for more info.

 

2. In Ps 67:2 what were God’s people commanded to do for all the nations?

A: This mentions the evangelistic and missionary activity for us to tell of God’s greatness to all nations. While most of the Jewish people failed to pick up on the fact that God’s goodness is for everyone, and all nations were to be blessed through Abraham. Israel was not to be the endpoint of God’s blessing, but a channel of God’s blessing as the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.648 says. Unfortunately, in the time of Calvin and Luther they thought that the Great Commission had already been fulfilled and on longer was relevant. But after that, the church, from the time of the great missionary movements has taken this seriously. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.648 for more info.

 

3. In Ps 67:2, why did David desire the other peoples praise God, and why should we desire the same?

A: This was a “lost teaching” of the Old Testament. It was “lost” in the sense that most Jewish people forgot about this teaching, to tell the Gentile nations to serve and glorify God. David (and we) should desire this simply to glorify God. In addition, it will be a wonder to see so many people, and people of so many different cultures and backgrounds in Heaven.

 

4. Ps 67:2 what all is meant by the term “salvation/deliverance” here?

A: The Hebrew word Yeshuw’ah (Strong’s 3444) can mean deliverance, health, help, aid, victory, salvation, and welfare. This encompasses both being saved from destruction, and victory. In our Christian life, we are saved from Hell and destruction, but we are also saved for new life now, and being at home with the Lord eternally. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.440-441 for more info.

 

5. In Ps 67:6, how should we praise God for the harvest?

A: The only reason given in this psalm for praising God is the bountiful harvest, so this is considered a harvest psalm, as is Psalm 65. They praised God for a good harvest that year. Likewise, when God does something that excites us, we should let the world know about it too. One description of a leader in a church, is one who encourages others to praise God more.

   See the New International Commentary on the Bible p.601 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.842 for more info.

 

6. In Ps 68:1-35, what is an outline of this psalm?

A:  Psalm 68 can be entitled, God’s marching on. It has a semi-chiastic outline.

1-3  Rejoice, for God’s presence is coming to scatter the wicked

- 4-6 Sing, for God defends

- - 7-18 God is greater than all the armies of warriors

- 19-20 God gives us salvation and escape from death

- - 21-23 God will bring back the enemies to destroy them

24-35 Be in number of the march of the saints

See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.443 for more info.

 

7. In Ps 68:1-35 what is interesting about the names for God here?

A: This is a prayer asking God to display his awesome power. Most psalms have just one of two of God’s names. This psalm has seven. Elohim (1); Yah (4); Jehovah (10, El Shaddai (14), Yah Elohim (18), Adonai (19), Jehovah Adonai (20). See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.650 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.843 for more info.

 

8. In Ps 68:1, why did David want God to arise and scatter God’s enemies?

A: There are a number of likely reasons.

a) David wants to see God be exalted, and God’s name be glorified in Psalm 68:4.

b) David might want to be personally protected from God’s enemies.

c) David wanted righteous people to rejoice in God (Psalm 68:3), and not be persecuted by God’s enemies.

d) David wanted to see justice brought to the ungodly (Psalm 68:21-23)

 

9. In Ps 68:2, how is opposition to God like smoke and wax here?

A: As un-solid as smoke, and as un-firm as melting wax, the opposition to God will drift and melt away.

See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.649 for more info.

 

10. In Ps 68:4, what is the significance of God riding on the clouds?

A: Jesus will come in the clouds in glory in Acts 1:11; Matthew 24:30; Luke 21:27; Revelation 1:7. Also, in the Ugaritic and Canaanite religion it was said that Baal was “the rider on the clouds.” Psalm 68:4 is saying, not it is not Baal but the true God. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.445, the New International Bible Commentary p.601, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.843 for more info.

 

11. In Ps 68:7-8, when did this marching occur?

A: This was in the past when God went before the Israelites as a cloud and a pillar of fire when they were wandering in the desert in Sinai. But in a sense believers are moving to serve God today, and in the future, when the Messiah returns in glory, the believers will be behind Him. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.843 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.650 for more info.

 

12. What does Ps 68:17-20 refer to?

A: This alludes to David and the Israelites capturing Jerusalem, according to the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.650-651

 


 

Psalm 69 – God’s Mercy under Water – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 69:1-36, what is an outline of this Psalm?

A: Verses 1-28 are a lament, and verses 29-36 are a hymn arising out of the lament. The lament is a chiasm.

1-4 Prayer to be saved

- 5 Recognizing that God knows

- - Bearing disgrace for God

- - Deliverance for the sake of God’s servant

- We know that God knows

Pray for God to judge the wicked

The hymn is organized as

29-30 Individual and corporate praise

- 33 We know that God cares

34 Praise in the heavens

35-36 God will deliver in the end

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.454 for more info.

 

2. In Ps 69:1-36, what kind of trouble does it look like the writer has here?

A: While the heading at the top is not scripture, the heading says it was written by David, so we will assume it was him. In verses 1-3 David is in great distress, his cause looked hopeless. In verses 4, 19, the reason is because people were attacking him. In verse 5 David mentions his foolishness and sin, and even though he knew he sinned, David was still counting on God’s protection. In verse 13,16 David is relying on God’s mercy; indeed, David has nothing else to rely on.

 

3. In Ps 69:1-2,3,10,12,14-15,21, what are the images of liquid, and what could they represent?

A: Images are mire, deep waters, floods, crying till your throat is dry, song of drunkards, deep waters, vinegar for his thirst. Liquid does not have a solid shape, but it is still real and can kill. You can build a wall against some threats, but liquid can go around boundaries.

But in sharp contrast to this in verse 3, even though he is in deep water, with all his crying David is parched on the inside.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.455, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.384-385 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.844 for more info.

 

4. In Ps 69:4f, what was stolen that must be restored?

A: This enigmatic statement refers to Jesus, the suffering Messiah. Sin stole God’s rightful worship, obedience, and glory, and people were robbed of life, peace, and joyful fellowship with God. Jesus stole nothing, but Jesus, for our sake, had to restore what had been stolen by sin. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.653 for more info.

 

5. In Ps 69:5-6, what is David saying here?

A: David does not want his sins to be an excuse for others not to turn to God. Perhaps this psalm was written after David and Bathsheba sinned.

 

6. In Ps 69:6-12, what is the disgrace or shame David is talking about here?

A: David does not want God’s people to bear disgrace because of him, and in verse 7 David bore disgrace for God’s sake. There are two ways of looking at this.

Our Persecution for following God: Sometimes we are mocked and shamed for following God. However, we are to rejoice when we suffer reproach for the name of Jesus.

Mocking for our hypocrisy: David was hoping the godly would not be disgraced, or feel disgrace, because of David’s sin, while he was a believer. He was not mocked for the evil he did, as much as mocked for being a believer who committed adultery and murder.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.456 for more on the first view.

 

7. In Ps 69:9,20, 25, where are these quotes in the New Testament and why?

A: Psalm 69:9 is quoted in John 2:17 when Jesus drove out the moneychangers. Psalm 69:20 is quoted in Romans 15:3. Psalm 69:25,28 is quoted in Acts 1:20

 

8. In Ps 69:11, what does it mean to become a byword?

A: David knew that he was like a standing joke to them. Just his name was an object of taunting. We do not know the circumstances, but it might refer to lack of respect many had towards their king after hearing of his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah.

 

9. In Ps 69:13, what is an important point about prayer here?

A: When David was in deep trouble, his prayer was only to God; not to some angel or departed believer, but only to God for help.

 

10. In Ps 69:14-15, how are some of our troubles like mire, and some like floodwaters?

A: Both can cause you to slip, slide, and sink, but in different ways. Mire does not move; you sink down in it yourself because of the weight on you. Floodwaters externally move to cover you, when you are in a vulnerable situation, on low ground. Likewise, some sink down due to the logical and direct physical consequences of their sin. Others can be overcome by a flood of external persecution, temptation, or temptation to give in to the persecution, because they are not standing on the rock (Psalm 62:2,6,7, the rock that is higher than them (Psalm 61:2).

 

11. In Ps 69:33, what does this say about prisoners?

A: God does not despise His prisoners, or in some translations: His captive people. Some are in prison because of their testimony about God. Others, such as war prisoners, are captives though they are not criminals. But others are in prison, rightfully so, because of the bad things they did. But if seek God and commit their life to the Lord, they become “His” prisoners, and God, who is full of mercy, does not despise them.

 


 

Psalm 70-71 – At Any Age, Don’t Be Far from God – some brief answers

 

1. Ps 70:1-5 is the same as the last third (verses 13-17) of Psalm 40? What could be the reason for this?

A: Both are psalms of David. These are the same, except that Psalm 70 has the word “Hasten. Come quickly” at the beginning, Psalm 40 uses the name Yahweh and Psalm 70 uses Adonai. While David is the author of Psalm 40, David’s name is likely on Psalm 70 because the text was taken from Psalm 40. While the superscriptions before each psalm are not scripture, they are likely correct.

   While we don’t know the exact reason this portion was copied to its own Psalm, it could be that it served as an individual petition, a lament or possibly on the occasion of giving an offering. This could be thought of as a “bookend” prayer. Psalm 40 as almost at the end of Book 1 of Psalms and Psalm 70 is almost at the end of Book 2 of Psalms. This also shows us that it is fine to quote a portion of section of scripture without all of it, at least as long as you preserve any context.

   See the New International Bible Commentary p.603-604, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.463, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.845, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.656-657, and the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.5 p.87-288 for more info.

 

2. In Ps 70:1-5, what is the structure of this Psalm?

A: This has four parts:

1 Help quickly

- 2-3 Punish thoroughly

- 4 Be praised continually

5 Help quickly, without delay

See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.656-657 for more info.

 

3. In Ps 70:4, why did David want all who seek God to rejoice in God, and why did David feel the need to pray this request?

A: God prayed that all who seek God would not only find God and gain eternal life, but find also find their joy in God right now. It is good for us to pray this today too.

 

4. In Ps 70:5, is it OK to tell God to hurry up and don’t delay?

A: In a respectful manner, yes. If you need help and strengthening right away, tell God that.

 

5. In Ps 71:1-24, what is the structure of this psalm?

A: The heading does not say if this was by David, so it was probably written by someone else, whom we can call “the gray-headed servant”. The Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.5 p.290-291 makes the case that the author is likely be Jeremiah. This psalm can be considered as a lament for an individual, or for the nation as a whole. The writer is probably an older man. This psalm is a chiasm, which is common in Hebrew poetry.

1-4  God be my rock and fortress

- 5-8 God, you are my hope from birth

- - 9-13 My prayer in old age

- - 14-18 God, you are my hope in old age

- 19-21 God, who has done great works, will revive me again

22-24 I shall praise and sing of your faithfulness

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.463, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.657, and the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.5 p.288-289 for more info.

 

 

6. In Ps 71, how is this similar to other psalms?

A: Psalm 71 can be considered “a panorama of lifelong trust” by an “well-aged” writer. Psalm 71 has sort of “shortened summaries” of Psalms 22, 31, 35, and 40.

See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.845 and the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.5 p.289-290 for more info.

 

7. In Ps 71:3, should it be “rock of dwelling” or “rock of refuge / strong refuge”?

A: Many Hebrew manuscripts have “rock of dwelling”. However, this is probably a copyist error as this phrase is not used elsewhere. Furthermore, other Hebrew manuscripts, the Septuagint, and the Targum all have “rock of refuge”. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.464 for more info.

 

8. In Ps 71:5-18, what are various issues that can be at the forefront for Christians at different ages?

A: Speaking primarily for western culture, here are some issues with various seasons of life.

Young kids: Following good examples and hanging with good friends. Obeying parents. Too much internet, TV, and video games, sports-crazy. They need to develop life-skills, kindness, respect, and their prayer life.

Teens: Following good examples and hanging with good friends. Obeying parents, kindness, premarital sex, school, music, sports, fashion. For some getting drunk, high on drugs, porn, bullies, and gangs, prejudice, too much internet, TV, and video games, In the future sexual identity.

College-age: Growing deeper in God’s word. Joining a good, Bible-believing church. education and career, prejudice, too much internet, TV, and video games. Living for fun and entertainment. Priorities

Young adults: Joining a good, Bible-believing church. finances, spouse, raising little kids. Time squeezes

Middle-age: Joining a good, Bible-believing church. Raising teens, investments. Some middle-age people have a “7-year itch or midlife crisis”. The standing joke is that some men deal with “middle-age crazies” by buying a red sports car. Other issues are helping elderly parents. exercise, time, cork-life balance. Being a good example. For some, prodigal kids and getting drunk, and substance abuse.

Older adults: Grown-up children and grandkids, exercise and energy, career and retirement. Health: especially diabetes and cancer (especially prostate and skin). Health and death of loved ones. For some apathy and cynicism. Leaving a legacy.

 

9. In Ps 71:7 what is a “portent” (NIV, NRSV, ESV), or “wonder” (NKJV)?

A: There are two views, and the second is most likely the correct one.

Negatively, a portent is a warning or omen, especially a bad omen. The psalmist is afraid that this life will be viewed as a bad omen from God. The NET Bible says “many are appalled”.

Positively, the Hebrew word comes from the root to bend and distort. A “wonder” is a miracle, a changing of the natural order caused by God. The KJV, NKJV, Green’s Literal translation, and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.657 say “wonder”, implying that David is viewed as a wonder from God. See the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.5 p.293 for more info.

   On the other hand, the Hebrew can be interpreted either way, and perhaps the best understanding could be both ways.

 

10. In Ps 71:7-18, what advice would you give to a Christian child, on how to “age well in the Lord”?

A: Always stay close to God, and make the important things the important things. You will have so many distractions, and a great many things, some evil, and some not really evil, to draw your time and attention away from God.

 

11. In Ps 71:22, 78:41; 89:18, what is interesting about the title for God “Holy One of Israel”?

This term is frequently used in Isaiah, but only three times in the Book of Psalms, and never by David. Besides the superscription, this is an additional argument that this psalm was not written by David. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.846 for more info.

 

`12. In Ps 71:22-23, what is interesting about the musical references here?

A: When older people lose their mental abilities, music is usually the last thing to go. When my mother was in her eighties not too long before she died, she would often confuse our names, but she could still play Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu on the piano. When older people have church service in nursing homes, they love to sing hymns. They usually don’t need to read the words, since they still remember them. So as the Christian praise song says, “Let me be singing when the evening comes.”

 


 

Psalm 72 – The King’s Deliverance for the Poor and Needy – some brief answers

 

1. In Ps 72:1-20, who wrote this psalm?

A: While the subscript in 72:20 says the prayers of David are ended here, the superscription before the start of the psalm and also Psalm 127 say that these were a psalm “by Solomon” in Hebrew. Psalm 72 says “for Solomon” in the Greek Septuagint. While the superscriptions are not scripture, they are probably correct. So, book 2 (as well as book 1) are primarily psalms by David, but this particular psalm is very likely by Solomon.

   If Solomon wrote this psalm, he in verse 1 he is asking for the wisdom of God’s judgment for himself, as we should ask in James 1:5. In a sense he is asking God that he, and his descendants, would be good kings.

   Some, such as John Calvin thought that the psalm might have been written by David for Solomon. While it is possible the “gold of Sheba” in 72:15 was not in view in David’s time, only in Solomon’s. Keil-Delitzsch’s Commentary on the Old Testament vol.5 p.298-299 says it is definitely Solomon.

   See the New International Bible Commentary p.604 for more info.

 

2. In Ps 72:1-20, what is the structure of this psalm?

A: Some psalms are structured in a pattern we are familiar with, with alternately lines. But many more psalms are structured as a chiasm, symmetrically, with each line, starting from the beginning, is a mirror image of the equivalent line, starting from the end. This particular psalm blends both patterns.

1 Judgments and righteousness for the King and His son

- 2-4 Righteousness and justice for the poor and needy

- - 5-11 All nations will fear/respect God forever

- 12-14 Deliverance for the poor and needy

- - 15-17 All nations will praise Him forever

18-19 Bless the LORD God, God of Israel

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.469 for more info.

 

3. In Ps 72:2-4, how are good leaders a means for God blessing His people?

A: Sometimes it seems that bad leaders can mess things up more than a good leader can help. Good leaders realize they are to help the people, not just take all the profit they can from them. They don’t sell out the country just for personal profit. On one level, good leaders can bring better economic conditions for all. Good leaders can negotiate favorable trade agreements. Good leaders can especially help the poor and vulnerable, such as widows and orphans. They can lead in wars that should be fought, and keep out of wars that they should not be fighting. Good leader can make a big difference in natural disasters and invasions. And finally, good leaders can have good, just laws.

   On another level, good leaders can be a good example of honesty, justice, and following God. They can train up a successor well. And finally, good leaders can appoint, good, honest officials under them.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.470 for more info.

 

4. In Ps 72:1-4, 99:4, why was judgment considered something to eagerly anticipate?

A: Oppressed people would want judgment to come to take away their oppression.

 

5. In Ps 72:2-4, 12-14, what does this say about government, that is sometimes forgotten?

A: The king and government are there for the benefit of the people, especially the poor and needy, who need help the most. In the Middle Ages in Europe, it was often viewed that the commo people were there for the benefit of those over them. See Keil-Delitzsch’s Commentary on the Old Testament vol.5 p.302 for more info.

 

6. In Ps 72:3-4, what does the metaphor of peace and righteousness from the mountains and hills mean?

A: There is a lot to unpack with these metaphors. The Mosaic Law came from Mt. Sinai. The people repeated the blessings and curses of the covenant on Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal in Deuteronomy 27:11-26. The mountains and hills were the highpoints of the whole land and the people living in it. The streams from the hills and mountains water the land, enabling crops and grazing. The mountains and hills would be thought to be beautiful, until you remember that that was where the idolatrous Canaanite high places were. In these places religious prostitution and child sacrifice were practiced. But these same places, beautiful physically, but ugly morally, would be beautiful in all ways eventually. See Keil-Delitzsch’s Commentary on the Old Testament vol.5 p.301 for more info.

 

7. In Ps 72:4, how does breaking in pieces the oppressor apply to us?

A: Oppressors are not just human oppressors. God delights in breaking the oppression of Satan and sin. If you have something in your life that God can break you out from under its oppression, God delights to do so, so turn it over to Him and expect results.

 

8. In Ps 72:2f,4,9f,12-14, does this psalm a praise for the present or a hope for the future?

A: Both. While it mentions the current coronation of the king, these verses show that it is a hope and prayer for the future, during the Millennial Kingdom

   See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.385, Keil-Delitzsch’s Commentary on the Old Testament vol.5 p.299, and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.658-659 for more info.

 

9. In Ps 72:15, what do we know about the land of Sheba?

A: Sheba was a far-off land in the western part of modern-day Yemen today. It was an ancient people, being mentioned as a son of the Semite Joktan in Genesis 10:28 in the Table of Nations and 1 Chronicles 1:22. The land just north of it, Havilah, was also mentioned in Genesis 10:29. Sheba was a fruitful land, with frankincense, myrrh, and various spices. It was fairly wealthy through trade with Africa, Egypt, Persia, and likely even India. Through trade it was an exotic land, where monkeys, elephants, and tropical birds were known.

   The Queen of Sheba brought 120 talents gold, spices, and precious gems to Solomon in 1 Kings 10:10. It was somewhat unusual for the main ruler of a kingdom to be a queen. But Assyrian and south Arabic inscriptions, written in the 8th century B.C., mention queens in Arabia. Also, just as the main ruler in Egypt was a male titled Pharaoh, the main ruler later in Ethiopia was always female and titled Kandake/Candice.

   Another Sheba is the son of Ramma, son of Cush in Genesis 10:7 and 1 Chronicles 1:9, and another was the son of Jokshan, son of Abraham and Keturah in Genesis 25:3 and 1 Chronicles 1:32. These last two Sabaeans probably combined and lived on the eastern side of Arabia, or else combined with Sheba in southwest Arabia.

   See the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary p.1171-1172, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1566 for more info.

 

10. In Ps 72:15, what is like the “gold of Sheba” today?

A: Trading with Sheba was a significant, unexpected bounty that increased the prosperity of Israel in Solomon’s time. Likewise, sometimes we can receive an unexpected significant blessing from God. Praise God for His blessings, but also remember that it can be a test, to see if you use and spend it wisely and generously.

by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.