Friday, March 29, 2013

Living Sacrifice

Psalm 50

A psalm of Asaph.

1 The Mighty One, God, the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to where it sets.

2From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
3Our God comes
and will not be silent;
a fire devours before Him,
and around Him a tempest rages.
4He summons the heavens above,
and the earth, that He may judge His people:

5“Gather to me this consecrated people,
who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.”
6And the heavens proclaim His righteousness,
for He is a God of justice.a, b
7“Listen, my people, and I will speak;
I will testify against you, Israel:
I am God, Your God.

8 I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices
or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.

9I have no need of a bull from your stall
or of goats from your pens,
10for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.
11I know every bird in the mountains,
and the insects in the fields are mine.

12 If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is Mine, and all that is in it.
13Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?

14 “Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
fulfill your vows to the Most High,
15 and call on Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honor Me.” 

16But to the wicked person, God says:
“What right have you to recite my laws
or take my covenant on your lips?
17You hate my instruction
and cast My words behind you.
18When you see a thief, you join with him;
you throw in your lot with adulterers.
19You use your mouth for evil
and harness your tongue to deceit.
20You sit and testify against your brother
and slander your own mother’s son.

21 When you did these things and I kept silent,
you thought I was exactlyc like you.

But I now arraign you
and set my accusations before you.
22“Consider this, you who forget God,
or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you:

23 Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor Me,
and to the blamelessd I will show My salvation.”



his Psalm, as the former 49, is a psalm of instruction, not of prayer or praise; it is a psalm of reproof and admonition, in singing which we are to teach and admonish one another.

In the foregoing psalm, after a general demand of attention, God by His prophet deals (v. 3) with the children of this world, to convince them of their sin and folly in setting their hearts upon the wealth of this world. 

In this psalm, He deals with those that were, in profession, the church's children, to convince them of their sin and folly in placing their religion in ritual services, while they neglected practical godliness; and this is as sure a way to ruin as the other.

This Psalm is intended,

1. As a proof to the carnal Jews, both those that rested in the external performances of their religion, and were remiss in the more excellent duties of prayer and praise, and those that expounded the law to others, but lived wicked lives themselves.

2. As a prediction of the abolishing of the ceremonial law, and of the introducing of a spiritual way of worship in and by the Kingdom of the Messiah, John. 4:23-24.

3. As a representation of the Day of Judgment, in which God will call men to an account concerning their observance of those things which they have thus been taught; men shall be judged "according to what is written in the Books;" and therefore Christ is fitly represented speaking as a Judge, then when He speaks as a Lawgiver. Here is,

I. The glorious appearance of the Prince that gives law and judgment (v. 1-6).

II. Instruction given to His worshipers, to turn their sacrifices into prayers (v. 7-15).

III. A rebuke to those that pretend to worship God, but live in disobedience to His commands (v. 16-20), their doom read (v. 21, 22), and warning given to all to look to their conversation as well as to their devotions (v. 23).

The apostle Paul exhorts us;

Romans 12:1

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship.

These instructions and admonitions we must take to ourselves, and give to one another, in singing this Psalm.

Hear This!

Psalm 49

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

1 Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
2both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
3My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
4I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:
5Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me—
6those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?
7No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for them—
8the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
9so that they should live on forever
and not see decay.
10For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.
11Their tombs will remain their housesb forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they hadc named lands after themselves.
12People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.
13This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.d
14They are like sheep and are destined to die;
death will be their shepherd
(but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
He will surely take me to Himself.

16Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
when the splendor of their houses increases;
17for they will take nothing with them when they die,
their splendor will not descend with them.
18Though while they live they count themselves blessed—
and people praise you when you prosper—
19they will join those who have gone before them,
who will never again see the light of life.

20 People who have wealth but lack understanding
are like the beasts that perish.



This psalm is a sermon, and so is the next Psalm 50.

In most of the psalms we have the penman praying or praising; in these we have him preaching; and it is our duty, in singing psalms, to teach and admonish ourselves and one another.

The scope and design of this discourse is to convince the men of this world of their sin and folly in setting their hearts upon the things of this world, and so to persuade them to seek the things of a better world; as also to comfort the people of God, in reference to their own troubles and the grief that arises from the prosperity of the wicked.

I. In the preface he proposes to awaken worldly people out of their security (v. 1-3) and to comfort himself and other godly people in a day of distress (v. 4, 5).

II. In the rest of the psalm,

1. He endeavors to convince sinners of their folly in loving the wealth of this world, by showing them

(1.) That they cannot, with all their wealth, save their friends from death (v. 6-9).

(2.) They cannot save themselves from death (v. 10).

(3.) They cannot secure to themselves happiness in this world (v. 11, 12). Much less,

(4.) Can they secure to themselves happiness in the other world (v. 14).

2. He endeavors to comfort himself and other good people,

(1.) Against the fear of death (v. 15).

(2.) Against the fear of the prospering power of wicked people (v. 16-20).

In singing this Psalm let us receive these instructions, and be wise.

Heavenly Jerusalem

Psalm 48

A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah.

1 Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise,
in the city of our God, His Holy Mountain.
2Beautiful in its loftiness,
the joy of the whole earth,
like the heights of Zaphonb is Mount Zion,
the city of the Great King.
3God is in her citadels;
He has shown Himself to be her fortress.
4When the kings joined forces,
when they advanced together,
5they saw her and were astounded;
they fled in terror.
6Trembling seized them there,
pain like that of a woman in labor.
7You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish
shattered by an east wind.
8As we have heard,
so we have seen
in the city of the Lord Almighty,
in the city of our God:
God makes her secure
9Within Your temple, O God,
we meditate on Your unfailing love.
10Like Your name, O God,
Your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
Your Right Hand is filled with righteousness.
11Mount Zion rejoices,
the villages of Judah are glad
because of Your judgments.
12Walk about Zion, go around her,
count her towers,
13consider well her ramparts,
view her citadels,
that you may tell of them
to the next generation.

14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
He will be our guide even to the end.


This Psalm, as the two former (Psalm 46, 47), is a triumphant song; some think it was penned on occasion of Jehoshaphat's victory (2 Chronicles 20), others of Sennacherib's defeat, when his army laid siege to Jerusalem in Hezekiah's time; but it might be penned by David upon occasion of some eminent victory obtained in his time.
Yet not so calculated for that but that it might serve any other similar occasion in aftertimes, and be applicable also to the glories of the gospel church, of which Jerusalem was a type, especially when it shall come to be a church triumphant, the "heavenly Jerusalem" (Hebrews 12:22), "the Jerusalem which is above," Galatians 4:26. Jerusalem is here praised,

What is the title, “A psalm of the Sons of Korah”?

The names Asaph or Heman or Ethan or Jeduthun, or the designation "the sons of Korah" are attached to 25 or more of the Psalms (e.g. Psalms 42-49; 50; 62; 72-85), and we have a body of testimony that is at least abundant and intelligible.

It is to the effect that there was elaborate organization, on a large scale, in connection with the musical services of the temple at Jerusalem; that this began in the time of David, as a part of the preparation for building the temple, under the influence of the family traditions of the prophet Samuel; and that the movement continued in the generations following David, either surviving the exile, or being revived after the exile.

In connection with this movement, the phrases "sons of Korah," "sons of Asaph," "sons of Heman," "sons of Jeduthun" denote, in some cases, merely lineal ascent; but in other cases they denote each an aggregate of persons interested in sacred song and music--a guild or society or succession or group--arising out of the movement which originated in David's time.

The sons of Korah in Numbers

Their role was to encircle the tent. The Levites were to be human insulation so to speak; both protecting the priests and the holy things from unclean contamination from without and protecting the people in the camp from holy retribution from within.

But Korah and his kin grew discontent with their tribe’s role in Israel’s communal structure and staged a rebellion against Moses. Moses appealed to God, and God was decisive in his response. “The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods”(Numbers 16:31,32). The end.

Or, perhaps, the beginning. “But the sons of Korah did not die” (Numbers 26:11). Not only were they permitted to live, but they were given back their God-ordained place in the community. By David’s time they still held their entitled position: they were the gatekeepers, “keeping the thresholds of the tent, as their fathers had been in charge of the camp of the Lord, keepers of the entrance” (1 Chronicles 9:17-19).

If this were where the story ended, it would be a lovely vignette of God’s grace and communal forgiveness extended to a rebellious family. But there is so much more. The heads of the families of the sons of Korah were accorded special honor: “These are the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the Lord after the ark rested [in Jerusalem]” (I Chronicles 6:31-33; 9:33,34). God not only restored what a generation had once disdained, but also made something brand-new out of their lives and those who would long benefit from their spiritual legacy.

Good Friday Today

In America, most of christian people celebrate today as “Good Friday” in remembrance of Jesus’ Suffering and Death on the cross.

Seven Last Words from the Cross

The traditional order of the sayings is:
1.     Luke 23:34: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.
2.     Luke 23:43: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.
3.     John 19:26-27: Woman, behold your son. Behold your mother.
4.     Matthew 27:46: My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
5.     John 19:28: I am thirsty.
6.     John 19:30: It is... finished.
7.     Luke 23:46: Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit.

Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do

Luke 23:34

Then Jesus said, "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do".

This first saying of Jesus on the cross is traditionally called "The Word of Forgiveness".  It is interpreted as Jesus' prayer for forgiveness for those who were crucifying Him: the Roman soldiers, and apparently for all others who were involved in His crucifixion.

From the cross Jesus looked at the soldiers casting lots for His clothing, at the priests pointing to Him derisively, at the crowd yelling their insults. The evil in humanity was at its greatest height. While Jesus could have summoned legions of angels to bring vengeance on all of them, instead He pulled Himself up and, with all His strength, offered a prayer on behalf of those who mocked and crucified Him.

Today you will be with Me in paradise

Luke 23:43

And He said to him, "Truly, I say to you today you will be with Me in paradise".
This saying is traditionally called "The Word of Salvation".  According to Luke's Gospel, Jesus was crucified between two thieves (Dismas and Gestas, but not shown in the Gospels), one of whom supports Jesus' innocence and asks Him to remember him when He comes into His Kingdom. Jesus replies, "Truly, I say to you..." (ἀμήν λέγω σοί, amēn legō soi), followed with the only appearance of the word "Paradise" in the Gospels (παραδείσω, paradeisō, from the Persian pairidaeza "paradise garden").

Jesus, hanging on the cross, was still seeking to save those who were lost. This confessed thief did not know Scripture or understand theology, had not recited a creed nor joined a church or been baptized. He was in no position to do anything redemptive or to clean up his life. He simply turned to Jesus and asked, "Remember me when You come into Your Kingdom".

A seemingly simple change in punctuation in this saying has been the subject of doctrinal differences among Christian groups, given the lack of punctuation in the original Greek texts. Protestant Christians usually use a version which reads "Today you will be with me in Paradise".   This reading assumes a direct voyage to Heaven and has no implications of purgatory.  

On the other hand, Catholics have used a reading which emphasizes "I say to you today", leaving open the possibility that the statement was made today, but arrival in Heaven may be later.

Behold your son: behold your mother

John 19:26-27

Jesus saw His own mother, and the disciple standing near whom He loved (John), He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your Son". Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother". And from that hour, he(John) took His(Jesus) mother into his(John) family.

This statement is traditionally called “The Word of Relationship” and in it Jesus entrusts Mary, His mother, into the care of "the disciple whom Jesus loved".

Jesus looked down from the cross to see His mother standing nearby. As far as we know, only one of the twelve apostles was there at the foot of the cross: "the disciple whom Jesus loved," usually identified as John

Naked and in horrible pain, He thought not of Himself but was concerned for the well-being of His mother after His death. This shows Jesus' humanity and the depth of love He had for His mother and the disciple into whose care He entrusted her.

My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?

Matthew 27:46

Around the ninth hour, Jesus shouted in a loud voice, saying "Eli Eli lama sabachthani?" which is, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?"

Mark 15:34

And at the ninth hour, Jesus shouted in a loud voice, "Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?"

It is the only saying that appears in more than one Gospel, and is a quote from King David in Psalm 22:1. This saying is taken by some as an abandonment of the Son by the Father. Other theologians understand the cry as that of one who was truly human and who felt forsaken. Put to death by His foes, very largely deserted by His friends, He may have felt also deserted by God.

The mystery of  Christ's Incarnation, "far beyond our power to fathom", is that "He Who died at Golgotha (Calvary) is One with the Father, that God was in Christ, and that at the same time He cried out to the Father".

I thirst

John 19:28

He said, "I thirst".

This statement is traditionally called "The Word of Distress" and is compared and contrasted with the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan Woman at the Well in John 4:4-26.

Jesus became dehydrated by the loss of blood and sweat. Having had nothing to eat or drink since the Last Supper the night before, He was painfully thirsty. John, like the other Gospels, says someone offered Jesus a drink of sour wine. Only John says this person placed a sponge dipped in wine on a hyssop branch and held it to Jesus' lips. Hyssop branches had figured significantly in the Old Testament and in the Book of Hebrews.

Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit

Luke 23:46

And speaking in a loud voice, Jesus said, "Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit".

From Psalm 31, this saying, which is an announcement and not a request, is traditionally called "The Word of Reunion" and is theologically interpreted as the proclamation of Jesus joining the God the Father in Heaven.

When darkness seems to prevail in life, it takes faith even to talk to God, even if it is to complain to Him. These last words of Jesus from the cross show His absolute trust in God the Father: "Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit". 

This has been termed a model of prayer for everyone when afraid, sick, or facing one's own death. It says in effect.