28 Sep Living From The Heart (The Psalms) – Episode 2
It often seems Christians are the only group that can be vilified without consequence. Are we right to feel indignation at this? Learn more on Living From The Heart.
INTRODUCTION: The older I get, my tolerance fuse gets shorter. When I see the name of Christ vilified, it really makes me mad. When it seems to me that only Christians are fair game, it makes me really mad. When they can wail on and say terrible things about Christians and our great country, it just makes me want to get an oozy.
EASLEY: Well you’re going to have to listen to the rest of the broadcast to see how in the world, or if I even get out of that statement. Hi, this is Michael Easley inContext. We’re glad you have joined us again today on the broadcast. We’re going through a series called Living From The Heart out of Psalm 5 this week and perhaps you feel the same way if you’re a believer in Christ. It feels like we’re the only group that can be vilified and people still get away with it. Does that stir up something righteous in you? Does it stir up righteous indignation, and anger, and “I want to get even,” and “I want justice out of this?” Is that the right response? As we’ll see from the Psalmist today, he’s going to take us in a little different direction. Let’s pick up the broadcast.
MESSAGE: Notice what he does with this. The English translation differs greatly in verse 3. So I don’t know what text you’re using in front of you, but I’ll show you a couple of them. NASB says I will order my prayer. King James which is the same as the New King James, says I will direct my prayer. NIV says, I lay my request before you. ESV says, I will prepare a sacrifice. The New English Translation, the NET Bible says, I present my case before you. New Century Bible says, I will tell you what I need. That’s really bad. I’m sorry. (Laughter). With all due respect, that’s terrible. We get a sense with what the English Translators are fumbling with. This is a complicated word. It’s a complicated translation to our English mind: Order, direct, lay my request, prepare a sacrifice, present my case, tell you what I need. What are they trying to wrestle with? Well, let me try and give you a sense of this. The word means to order something, like arranging a wood pile. For example, in Genesis 22, it’s used when Abraham orders the wood to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. In Numbers, Chapter 23, vs 4, it’s used for how you build the altar; you arrange it a certain way. In Psalm 23, and Isaiah 21, it’s used for preparing a table. He prepares a table before me. So there’s some order to this word. It’s also used in Job: a speech is prepared out of words. On and on we can talk about the word usage. You know the way you determine meaning in the Bible, is how it’s used. You have to look at how it’s used!
How many of you own a concordance? An exhaustive concordance. How many of you know how to use an exhaustive concordance? (Audience chuckling). Yeah, there’s a little difference there. I’ll give you a little primer here: let’s say you are going to study the word: order. If you use an NIV, you have an NIV Exhaustive Concordance. If you use a New American Standard, you have a New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance. It’s important that the concordance match your translation. The Strongs only comes in King James. It’s a good way to do it. You have to have the same text you study and the same concordance. You look up the word order and the concordance will have it from the first time it occurs, let’s say Genesis 22:6, all the way through the Bible. There’s a little number on the side called the Strongs number because Strongs lost his mind putting numbers on all the words in the Bible. (Laugher in audience). He died with a number on his grave. It just is a Hebrew number and no one knows what it means. These guys before computers, studied the Greek and Hebrew text, and they found the root of every single word. It was an amazing task. They put it in that big book with the smallest print you’ve ever seen. In that text, what you’re doing is seeing how did the author use the word. So the ones I gave you: sacrifice, arranging shewbread, arranging an altar, preparing one’s words, preparing a table, the way the word is used colors in the meaning. So we started to say, “Oh, I see what this field of meaning is and it could apply to.” You’ve all heard this silly story about the word trunk. What can the word trunk mean? Give me some explanations of how the word trunk is used.
AUDIENCE: Elephant’s trunk. A car trunk.
EASLEY: Who said car? Boot of the car. Betty’s really hogging the candy. (must be nibbling on some candy in the crowd)
AUDIENCE: Storage, luggage.
EASLEY: Who said luggage?
AUDIENCE:Tree trunk. Train!
EASLEY: Man, you’re really smart. Okay, that’s six right. Was that six? If I say the peanut is in the trunk, have I narrowed the field of meaning.
EASLEY: Not really, because a peanut could be in a trunk of a tree, a trunk of a car, the trunk of an elephant. If I say the zookeeper is trying to get the peanut out of the trunk, have I narrowed the field of meaning probably more? This is the same challenge that a Bible student has. How the word is used gives the meaning. All that for free. Now, why am I belaboring this? Because if David is saying, “Morning by morning, I’m going to order my prayer,” does that mean he’s going to offer a sacrifice? We have good examples of that. He’s established the Levitical Priesthood and it is set in place, and they’re supposed to what every morning? What are they offering? What kind of sacrifice? What kind of burnt? A lamb. One in the morning and one in the evening. If the sacrificial system was working properly, the Levitical Priest were to order and attend the wood, the water, and the sacrifice every single morning. If you look at Exodus 29, vs 38-39, you’ll see how it’s done every single morning. Now here’s a question for you Bible students. Did David have the Temple Complex? No! Where are the sacrifices taking place in David’s day? In the tabernacle? Where’s the tabernacle? Mount Moriah. It moves. It’s where God puts His name. Now when David builds the house what’s David’s place called? The City of David, or the Holy City, or Mount Zion. All these are parallels. You have Mount Gilboa, you have the Kidron Brook. How many of you have been to Israel? You have to go to Israel before you die. You have to go to Israel before you die. This is like reading two dimensional stories that will become holographic once you go to the Holy Lands, to the Land of Israel. You will see the Herodian Walls and you will see where the Temple Complex was, and the Tabernacle Complex. Before it’s built, it is right next to David’s house. You think he heard the commotion of the sacrifice or perhaps he smelled the aroma of the sacrifice in the morning? So if David is in his house, if he’s in the city, which is a time stamp problem,we just don’t know, but look at the way he talks about it. Look at the Psalm. In the morning, you will hear my voice. I will order my prayer to you. We’ll get some cue here in a minute. Let’s just for conversation sake, look at His Holy Temple down in verse 7. Let’s say the Tabernacle Complex is beside him. So morning by morning, he’s involved watching this. I suspect in my sanctified imagination, he could smell the smoke of the sacrifice. The question is the Tabernacle is not called the Temple in David’s time. Twice in your Old Testament, in I Samuel 1:9, and I Samuel 3:3, that’s the story of Hannah. And she goes where? To the Temple. The Temple ain’t built. So in Hannah’s day, they were using the word synonymously for what becomes the official Temple Complex in Saul’s time. Remember, David spends the last years of his life assembling this huge amount of material so that Saul can build the Tabernacle Complex that David couldn’t build because of his hands. So he gives it to his son Solomon to build so Solomon will be in position to build the Temple Complex that David was not allowed by God to build. But God said build yourself a house which he did. Let’s move on. Verse 3, you’ll see the phrase where he says, “Eagerly watch.” Let me read the verse again, in the morning O Lord, you will hear my voice. So David is saying, you are going to hear a prayer from me. You’re going to hear my voice of praise every morning and in the morning I will order. If you look at the NASB, the words my prayer are in italics, meaning the translators are leading you to a conclusion that’s not there in the Bible. Anytime you read an italic phrase in the New American Standard, it’s a suppletion, meaning the New American Standard Allotment Foundation translators put that in there to smooth the reading.That’s another reason why I like the NASB. It’s a very wooden text; a little harder to read than some other Bibles, but you know those words aren’t in the Hebrew text. “In the morning, I will order to you and watch. That’s what it literally says. It doesn’t have the eagerly watch part. What’s David saying? Every single morning, this is so consuming to me, (We’ll get a hint later on, that it’s his enemies,) that I’m waking up and I’m going to pray to you. Maybe he’s part of the sacrificial system; maybe he’s just saying I’m going to order my words to you in my prayer just like I’d formally order a sacrifice, like we put the wood together and we bring the lamb in and we cut the lamb, and we bleed it at the base of the offer, and we only burn the parts that are acceptable, and we take the refuse away because you approach God carefully, and according to His law because He’s holy. It’s not just a random set of lists on how to prepare the sacrifice. You’re approaching the God of the universe and you do it the way I told you to do it for a reason, even if you don’t understand the reasons. David says, “I’m going to come to you in a formal way of worship every morning with my prayer.” Now the phrase, eagerly watch. We get the word eagerly probably from the word watch. It’s an anticipation. We know there was a watchman on the wall. A watchman who falls asleep isn’t much help. A watchman who stays awake and is looking is a very difficult job. When I wake up in the morning, I need two things. I need caffeine and oxygen, and usually in that order. This is my oxygen and I have to have the caffeine so that I can take a breath. I get up, Cindy gets up, whoever gets up first, coffee gets going, wash my face, I go sit down in my chair, open up my Bible, and Cindy does the same in her chair. Those everyday rituals are not because we have to, but because we want to. Not because we should, because we get to. It wasn’t always that way. In my college years, I did it because I was supposed to. I did it for three years because I was supposed to do it and I did it seven out of seven, three out of seven, four out of seven, five out of seven, and then one day I woke up and said, this isn’t something I do to check a box or read a page of a devotional. This is because I worship Christ and in the morning I get to and I’m glad He hasn’t told me caffeine is sinful yet. (Laughter), because then we’d have a problem. Morning by morning, I brew my offering before you, but notice what he says. So I think eagerly is a good word. I’m pretty good at the Bible study part; I’m crummy at the eagerly watching part. Really crummy at it. F.B. Meyers writes, We miss many answers because we get tired of waiting on the dock because we get tired of waiting for the returning ships. I hate to wait. I’m the most impatient person in this room, I am sure. Ask my wife. I won’t go to a restaurant if there’s more than like a one second wait. Go home and eat something leftover. I will not do it. There’s no food in the universe worth waiting an hour. I’m just bad that way.
Number one: The Psalmist cries for help. The Psalmist is asking God: I believe in the larger construct and you’re supposed to be just and you’re not just right now. I’m consumed with this prayer request, we’d say. Every morning I get up and I’m ordering it and I’m putting it in front of you. If it was the sacrificial system, we can see David worshipping, watching the Levitical Priest carrying out the sacrifice, and he’s begging God for help. Number one: the Psalmist cries for help.
Number two: It’s a little cumbersome of an outline, but I would suggest he’s saying, you can’t stand, but you can bow. When you come before Yahweh, Elohim, you can’t stand in front of Him, but you can bow. Watch the verses 4 and following: For you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness. No evil dwells with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes. You hate all who do iniquity. You destroy those who speak falsehood. The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit, but as for me, by your abundant lovingkindness, I will enter your house and your holy temple, I will bow in reverence for you. Number one: his cry for help and God be just. Number two: he is going to bow. I think the text gives us enough information somebody is after him. The Psalmist declares a core principle here. God’s character cannot abide with evil. What David is arguing here is: because of who you are; because you are holy and you demand a proper approach, you can’t just come mel pel in here with sin on your mind, on your conscience, on your hand. God’s character cannot abide evil. One of hte most interesting phenomenas in the last decade has been the cry for tolerance, and the accusation of intolerance. We hear this all the time! Christians are intolerant people and that gets us even more angry. We say, “We’re not intolerant. We just hate certain people.” We have compartments of people that we hate and loath. We don’t hate them, but that’s the way it looks to the outside world. This passage is going to teach you and me a little bit about our intolerance with tolerance, and part of it has to do with your condition and mine as we come before Yahweh: we are completely intolerant in that He can’t deal with us. He cannot hoodwink sin. He can’t overlook and say, “Oh, that’s a small sin. That’s a insignificant one. That’s a big one. That one we’re going to have to talk about.” This principle that He cannot abide evil. Now we’ve had a litany that David gives us. Look at it again: No pleasure in wickedness. No evil dwells in you. The boastful will not stand. Hard phrase: You hate all who do iniquity. We know that God loves everyone, but the Psalmist is saying something a little challenging: You destroy those who speak falsehood. You abhor a man of bloodshed and deceit. You know the yin yang symbol? It’s a round symbol and it’s like a little paisley thing and part of it’s black and part of it’s white. So the theology behind that is there’s one force, there’s a good force and a evil force and they work together. Many religions syncretize evil and good as juxtaposed forces. Scripture says evil’s evil and Yahweh’s good. There’s amalgamation of spiritual powers here in one big pond and you can use it for good or for bad. The Israel God, the Yahweh Elohim, the one true monotheistic God, says, “No, there’s me and there’s everybody else. I’m holy and I’m righteous and man is in a sinful condition.” Peter Craigie writes, “ Ultimate destiny of destruction for a life lived in direct contradiction to those who are opposed to God.” In other words, we all come in the same situation and David will associate himself with this in a moment. Look at it carefully. Look at it: you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness. He can’t tolerate it. No evil dwells in you. There’s no compartment of you. You don’t draw on the dark side of the force. Then he lists this litany: the boastful won’t be there, those who are iniquity, those who lie, those who commit bloodshed, those who are men of deceit; you can’t tolerate those people. The core difference of these two groups of the evil and those who are not so evil, is one word: arrogance. It has to do with the heart of the person. Evil is characterized by these kinds of terms. The righteous is characterized with a person whose undone, with a person who knows he has no right before Yahweh Elohim. Again, we have the King of Israel saying, “I can’t even approach you.” Sure, we can easily compartmentalize those other people and be tolerant of the wicked and the evil, but verse 7 is the hinge. Now, if you know the expression chiasm, the Greek letter chi looks like a stylistic x. So you have an a and an a prime, a b and a b prime, a c and a c prime, and on and on, and let’s just say for conversation, d. So the structures aa, bb, cc, d. a and a will be similar, b and b similar, c and c similar, and d is unique. This is a chiastic Psalm. Verse 7 is unique. Verse 7 is the center of the structure of the piece of music. So as the Hebrew would sing it , and recite it, and have it committed to memory, my understanding of the Psalter and the structure, is that this is the middle of the Psalm. This is the verse that jumps off the page, with the single most important word in your Old Testament: lovingkindness in the NASB. But as for me, in contrast to the litany of evildoer, but as for me, by my righteousness I can approach you? By my good deeds? By the sacrifice I just performed in verses 1, 2, and 3. No, by your lovingkindness. You know, if you know your Bible, David sounds down right Pauline. I can’t even come to you apart from you calling me to yourself. I’m not justified, unless you justify me. Same thing David is saying in verse 7, but as for me, by your abundant lovingkindness. Paul will talk about hyper: uper (Greek translation for English) grace in the New Testament. This is the precursor. By your abundant lovingkindness (Greek word mentioned in Message) I can come to your house. This is the contrast, if this is the Tabernacle Complex beside him, not the temple complex. We do have a little bit of a problem here. Why does David call it the Holy Temple where he will bow in reverence? The best I can come up with, and some of you are better Bible students than me, I believe that as the Psalm was used over time, when David first wrote it, they all understood it was the mobile tabernacle unit. But once it was built, in Solomon’s day, the word probably became a field of meaning. It doesn’t mean that it was the mobile one and that every time they were supposed to set it up. So now we have established, this is the worship center of Israel and they built it under Solomon’s’ name. So I think the usage changed the way the word was understood. It’s the same word; the word didn’t change in the Hebrew, but it came to mean the Temple Complex.
Let me give you a lesson on this. The difference between self righteousness and righteousness is the acknowledgement of self. The difference between self righteousness and righteousness is the acknowledgement of self. And again, I don’t know about you; you may be further along at this than me, but the older I get my tolerance fuse gets shorter. When I see the name of Christ vilified, it really makes me mad; when it seems to me that only Christians are fair game, it makes me really mad; when they can wail on and say terrible things about the Christians in our great country, it just makes me want to get an oozie, and kill them in a Christian sort of way, you know. I’ll just say it. I know it’s wrong. I’m supposed to love them for Christ sake, right? But, I can be selfish. I can be self righteous. I’m not any better.
I had a pastor teacher back in Houston,Texas named Bob Tolson and Bob was the first man I ever heard teach the Bible. Bob used to say a phrase all the time, “There were no losers at the foot of the cross and no winners anyplace else.” “No losers at the foot of the cross and no winners anyplace else.” I’m not any better than anybody. Calvary’s level ground. The most heinous, evil, sinner that David perhaps has depicted over against the self righteous Jew is just the same in God’s sight.
And the truth is, what? You nor I are any better than anyone else. Sure, in our gradiant view of sin, we might view some sins worse than others, but the truth of the matter is, the ground at Calvary is level; meaning, there’s no better sinner or worse sinner when it comes to the work of Jesus Christ. The good news is because the ground is level the opportunity is for all. For those of us that have some righteous indignation, and our hearts were angry towards those that hate us, ask God to do a work in your life; that you’d see them as confused, as deceived, as hurt people that need a Saviour. For those of us who may have not yet come to know who this Christ is, He loves you; He cares about you; He took your sin and mine; He died in our place, on our behalf instead of us, and by trusting in Christ and Christ alone, you can know a relationship with the eternal God who loves you more than you can imagine. You can go the website at MichaelinContext.com. That’s Michaelincontext.com and let us know if you have questions or comments about the broadcast as always. This is Michael Easley inContext.