Seeing Jesus in Psalm 11 – Raining Down

Psalm 11:6  – Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.

Have you ever been caught outside in a downpour? How about being caught without an umbrella? I imagine that it has happened to just about everyone, and when it does every hair on our heads is absolutely soaked and our clothes are drenched.  If you are caught out in it, its impossible to avoid.
The Psalmist paints a simiar picture in Psalm 11, except its not a picture of a downpour of rain, its a picture of God’s wrath raining down upon the wicked.  Its a horrific picture, one that we see played out in the Old Testament towns of Sodom and Gomorrah.  One that we see depicted for us in various Old Testament prophets as they describe judgement and the coming Day of the Lord.
Its a terrible fear inducing picture.  God’s wrath raining down on people because of their wickedness. Not a single hair untouched.  It is a state of misery and hopelessness. The great puritan Thomas Watson describes it this way, “What fools are they who, for a drop of pleasure, drink a sea of wrath.”  The wrath of God fills them up as they drink it, it consumes them continually.  As the psalmist says, “it is the portion of (the cup of the wicked).”
Yet it is also a cup that Jesus drank isn’t it.  He prayed for “this  cup to pass from Him”.  In the Old Testament the wrath of God was frequently described as a cup being poured out so what Jesus was praying in the garden was God let Your wrath pass from Me, yet not my will but Yours be done.
Living on this side of the cross we know that the cup didn’t pass from Jesus but instead God poured His wrath out upon Him. Why? Because of His holiness and love.  Sin had to be punished, that is the justice and holiness of God but in His love for us as His children He punished Jesus in our place.
Just as the lamb of the Old Testament stood in the place of the sinner and was sacrificed for the sins of the people, so Jesus the Lamb of God stood in our place to take our sins awayand to give us forgiveness.  He took God’s wrath in our place, on the cross it rained down upon Him so that wrath doesn’t have to be the portion of our cup but instead because of the love of God,  God “is our strength and the portion of our cup forever.” To God be the glory!


Seeing Jesus in Psalm 10 – Hearing What’s Important

Psalm 10:17  -O Lord , you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear

We live in a fast paced busy world.  We have to do this, do that, be here, be there,……..Technology was supposed to make life easier and just a couple of generations ago the prediction was that their would only be a 4 day work week with people working on average 28 hours a week.  That certainly hasn’t come to fruition but even if it did I suspect we would find new responsibilities and commitments and we would remain just as busy.  There’s nothing wrong with being busy per se after all “an idol mind is the devil’s playground”, the problem is that sometimes in our busyness we overlook or forget what is important. 
Many people doubt this statement but life was busy in the year 30 A.D. when Jesus walked the earth.  And Jesus Himself was extremely busy.  People were following Him, wanting to learn from Him, wanting to be touched by Him, wanting to touch Him, wanting Him to do something for them.  He was so busy that the Bible tells us that to have anytime alone He had to get up very early and basically sneak off by Himself just to be able to pray.  He was that busy.
And it was in the midst of that busyness when He was teaching along the Jordan river that some people (presumably women) brought their children to Jesus.  The disciples were outraged, Jesus was too busy for this.  He doesn’t have time for children (they were considered property at that time).  He has better things to do. So they did what they thought they should do, they protected Jesus by turning the little children away.  Jesus however in His grace stepped in and stopped the disciples and He said those words that have become widely known, “let the little children come to Me for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14)
The disciples got a lesson that day.  An object lesson right before their eyes, the Kingdom of God isn’t for those who have it all figured out.  It isn’t for those society (or religious society) deems good enough.  It isn’t for the powerful and the self-sufficient.  It isn’t for those who think they deserve it.  Those children show that.  Jesus was telling His disciples the Kingdom of God (salvation) is for the dependent, the weak,  the helpless, the innocent.  It is for those children and for those who are childlike.
If the disciples didn’t understand it then Jesus further reinforced it by His very next teaching, the story of the rich young ruler.  He thought he had it all figured out.  He was self dependent and probably would have thought that he deserved the kingdom.  Society would have said so and the religious leaders of the day would have as well.  And yet the Kingdom wasn’t for him, he thought that he had earned it and so he had no need for God’s grace.  Because of that sadly enough he missed out.
The little children however didn’t.  They were dependent and did nothing to deserve the grace of God and yet when Jesus blessed them He bestowed it upon them. The Kingdom is for those who depend on the grace of God.  Psalm 10:17 showed us that long ago didn’t it? “You hear the cry of the afflicted, You strengthen their heart.”  That is exactly what Jesus did on the day when He said, “let the little children come to Me for such is the Kingdom of God.”
He took tine in His busyness to care for what was important, those little children and certainly He stands as an example to us.  We to should never be too busy to concentrate and care about those things that really matter.  But even more than that Jesus shows us what is of ultimate importance, depending on Him, receiving His grace and being apart of His kingdom.  To God be the glory!

Seeing Jesus in Psalm 9 – Joyous Victory

Psalm 9:6 – “The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins……”

Have you ever had one of the days when everyone that you come in contact with seems to be having one of those days? Anger, frustration, and edginess seems to be everywhere.  Horns blaring, fingers shaking (or pointing), and voices ringing out as people scream.  Or silence and angry stares and head shaking might be the rule of the day.  Sometimes, some days, some people are having one of those days and its obvious by the anger, the depression, and the pain on people’s faces.
Yet as a Christian the truth is that we shouldn’t have those kinds of days.  We shouldn’t be known for our anger or our frustration. Instead we are called to be people of joy.  And why shouldn’t we be? After all we are a part of an unshakable kingdom (Hebrews 12).  We are given the promise of stability and even more than that the promise of victory.
One day we will be victorious.   As children of God we are citizens of the kingdom of God and that kingdom is a victorious kingdom.  It became a victorious kingdom when Jesus burst forth from the grave.  It was then that the enemy lost the war. The battles still rage but there is no doubt who will be victorious.  As Paul says in the 1 Corinthians “thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Through Jesus’ work on the cross and through the empty tomb we are given the victory.  The enemy will come to an end in “everlasting ruin”.  He will be banished into the lake of fire and along with him sin, sickness, fear, pain, and death.  We will be victorious.  That victory is already secure yet not yet fully realized.  Still we are victorious which means we should live joyfully.
Sometimes however we don’t.  Sometimes we find ourselves having one of those days, or weeks, or even months.  Why? Because we forget, we forget the power of the Gospel and we forget what Jesus did for us.  We forget that we are ultimately victorious through the blood of Jesus.   Because of that as one person put it, ” we need to continually remind ourselves of the Gospel.” Or as Martin Luther put it we “should beat the Gospel into our heads”. 
We need to be reminded. And yet the good news is that even when we forget God is still faithful and His grace sustains us even during the midst of those days.  Which is cause for even more joy as we go from grace to grace.  To God be the glory!

Seeing Jesus in Psalm 8 – Over All and Concerned About You

Psalm 8:4 – “What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him.”

What color is George Washington’s white horse? The answer is obvious isn’t it? But of course sometimes we miss the obvious.  It is obvious from just a glance at Psalm 8 that it is a Messianic psalm. It is obviously a passage about Jesus, the Messiah.
Verse 6 says, ” You have placed all things under His feet,” and surely that must refer to Jesus, the one that Paul says “through Him and for Him all things were created and He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.  Jesus is what David writes about in this joyous psalm. 
In fact Jesus used this very psalm to contradict those that opposed him in Matthew’s Gospel and the writer of Hebrews uses it to describe Jesus in Hebrews 2.  It is a song of joy and even beyond that it is a Messianic psalm of joy.  Some things are just obvious.
And the message of this psalm certainly is as well.  It is a psalm of the Messiah and the reason that David is so joyous when he writes it has to be verse 4, “what is man that You are mindful of him?”  The question, God you are so high and lofty why would you care about us? But the implication, the joyously rich implication is that the God of this universe really does care about us.
In fact He cares so much about us that He sent Jesus, His one and only son to open the way of salvation to us.  Jesus who is the son of man (it was one of His favorite titles for Himself) is also the son of God sent to this earth to redeem fallen humanity.  Remember what He said, “the son of man has come to seek and save that which was lost.”  He is mindful of us so He sent us Jesus the one whom He cares for and through Jesus He cares for us as well.  We go from being enemies of God to being able to cry out “Abba Father” because of what Jesus has done for us. 
In fact the Hebrew word that is translated “to care for” in most of our English translations also means to “visit”.  God cared so much about us that He visited us in Jesus the Son of man.  Yes He is Lord of all and as Thomas Goodwin pointed out in the 1600s He is the only one who can be described as having all thibgs under His feet, yet He is still concerned about us.
Concerned about those things that we go through on a daily basis.  Yes 100%, but most of all concerned about our sins and our failures.  Concerned that we are lost and on the highway to hell.  So concerned in fact that He made THE way for us to get off possible, and that way is provided through His own blood.
He is over all but still lovingly concerned about us.  To God be the glory.

Seeing Jesus in Psalm 6 – A Beautiful Word

Psalm 6:1 – O Lord rebuke me not in Your Anger nor discipline me in Your wrath.

It is obvious from reading Psalm 6 that King David truly had a fear of God.  He had triumphed over a giant, he had slain 1000s of people, and he had defeated both the lion and the bear but David the great warrior-King is fearful.  Why? Because he knows the truth, the only way he was able to do those things was through the power of Almighty God.  David knew the truth that Jesus taught centuries later when He said in John 15, “apart from me you can do nothing.”  Even though David was the king he knew that and because of that he feared the power of God.
Winston Churchill once said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” And while that sounds good and is very motivational it simply isnt true.  We must also fear God and the wrath of God.
Jesus said in Luke 24 that the Psalms ultimately point to Him and because of that I believe Psalm 6 points to Him.  In fact it could have been a part of His prayer in the garden, “rebuke me not in Your Anger don’t discipline me in Your wrath.”  For you see Jesus knew a truth that people refuse to affirm today and that is that God’s wrath is real. 
He also knew that the wrath of the Father would be poured out on  Him on the cross.    Why? Because on the cross He became sin. He not only bore our sin, He became our sin.  2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “……He made Him who knew no sin to become sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”  Jesus became sin and the Father’s wrath was poured out on Him.  Why? Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “for our sake.”  He did that for us, He willingly became our substitute and took the wrath of the Father against sin in our place.  That is what the word propitiation means.
And it reveals another truth to us, if we are in Christ we are no longer subject to the wrath of God.  Its why Paul passionately and triumphantly declares, “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” But if a person is not in Christ, if they haven’t repented of their sins and placed their faith in Him, then the Bible says, “they are sons of disobedience” and we are told that the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience.
Jonathan Edwards put it this way in a sermon delievered on July 8, 1741, “The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow.”
The wrath of God is alarmingly real.  So real that David the great warrior-king didn’t want to face it.  So real that Jesus the Son of God didn’t want to face it either, remember He prayed, “let this cup pass from me.”  Yet He willingly gave Himself to it because it was the Father’s will, it was for His glory, and it was for “our sake”.
He took the wrath of the Father in our place.  Wrath is one of the most terrifying words in the English language. Propitiation however is one of the most beautiful and the Bible tells us that He became the propitiation for our sins.
To God be the glory!

Seeing Jesus in Psalm 5 – Finding the Way Home

Psalm 5:7 – But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.

Have you ever been lost? Its easy to get that way isn’t it? Physically it’s not as easy as it used to be with our Map apps and our GPS technology.  Still if we aren’t careful we will end up lost.
Spiritually we don’t have to try  to get lost do we? We are born sinners and we quickly end up lost with no idea how we can get found.  As the Bible says, “all we like sheep have went away, we each tur to our own way” and we end up lost with  no idea how we can be found because in reality we don’t even know where we are going. 
Turn on the news or what we call “entertainment” today and the lostness of humanity is evident.  We again are lost with absolutely no way of finding ourselves.  We don’t even know what we are looking for  even though we should because what we are looking for is home.
We weren’t created for this world we were created for so much more.  We were created for our home with Jesus.  Think about the famous story of the Prodigal  son, when he came to his senses where did he go? He went home.  He ran to his father (and even more beautifully his father ran to him).  That was what he was longing for,  it was what  he was looking for, when he came to his senses he went home.
We are looking for the same thing.  Searching for home.  And yet we are lost and can’t find it.  But look at the promise of Psalm 5:7, “I will enter your house…..” In other words I will go home.  How? Through the abundance of steadfast love.  Whose steadfast love? Jesus’
John Stott summed it up beautifully, “Jesus came to where we are to take us to where He is”.  We don’t know the way.  We can’t get there on our own. But there is One who comes to find us, remember He came to “seek and save that which is lost,” and His name is Jesus.
We couldn’t get to Him so He  came to us, to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.  To cleanse us of our sins, to put His clothing on us, to lead us home, and to prepare for us a banquet.  That is grace, to God be the glory!

Seeing Jesus in Psalm 4

Psalm 4:2  – O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?

The great early church Father John Chrysostom said once, “That if he were the fittest in the world to preach a sermon to the whole world, gathered together in one congregation, and had some high mountain for his pulpit, from whence he might have a prospect of all the world in his view, and were furnished with a voice of brass, a voice as loud as the trumpets of the archangel, that all the world might hear him, he would choose to preach upon no other text than that in the Psalms, O mortal men, ‘How long will ye love vanity, and follow after leasing? (Lies) 
He certainly raises an interesting point and its the same point  that the Psalmist raises in Psalm 4, why do people chase after the vanities and the lies of the world.  Things that will never satisfy us because we are not made for those things as another church father Augustine said, “there is within all of us a God shaped hole and nothing but God himself can fill that hole”.  Augustine knew from experience because he had tried.  He had chased after the vanities and the lies of the world only to come up empty.  Chrysostom’s words are certainly appropriate.
But I believe there is a deeper meaning in this Psalm, a meaning that point to Jesus.  For when He walked the earth men sought to turn His glory into shame.  Even though He loved and healed and taught and revealed God to the people, they sought to rob Him of His glory.  They displayed their self focused idolatry in that they didn’t want to see Him glorified, instead they sought glory for themselves.
Vainly trying to find fault with Him (see verse 2).  And even when they could not, they sought after lies so that they might have Him arrested and put on trial.  A trial that was nothing but a sham.  He was declared guilty (even though He was 100% innocent) and sentenced to crucifixion.  Why? Because they sought to steal His glory,  shame Him, and to do so they ran to lies.
And yet as the Psalm points out that was not the end of the story.  God heard His cries and distress and stepped in.  Verse 3 says, “the Lord sets apart the godly for Himself and listens to His cries.”  Jesus was fully righteous and godly yet crucified because of lies and jealously.  The vanity of the world led to the death of the Son of God.
But death did not have the last word.  Up from tbe grave He arose, triumphing  over the lies, the sin, the vanity and ultimately over death itself.  Because of that we shouldn’t fear death nor should we chase after the lies, the sins, and the vanities of the world.  To God be the glory!