Psalms book 2 – Be Still in God

Jan. 10, 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 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.

 

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 condemn David for his sin. One important aspect of repentance is claiming responsibility for what you did, said, failed to do, and failed to say.

 

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 They are Out to Get You – 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.

 

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.

 

 


 

Ps 5:17 Elyon

Ps 50:22 uses a rare word for God: Eloah according to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.5 p.373.

 


 

 

 

by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.