Sunday, May 13, 2012

Psalm 73 - Faith on Trial

We will skip for the next few weeks to cover some of the most important psalms in the arrangement of the Psalter.  After that, the plan is to come back and cover psalm 25 etc.

Psalm 73 is one of the most important psalms in the Psalter as it is placed at the beginning of book III.  Here is the introduction from the ESV Study Bible.  But note that the psalm should also be read in connection with Pss. 37 and 72.

This is a wisdom psalm, helping those who sing it to rest content even when unbelievers seem to get along without a care in the world, so that the faithful are tempted to join them. Their help comes from taking to heart where the different life paths of the faithful and the unbelievers are headed: each one is going toward either nearness to God or separation from him, a nearness or separation that will apply both now and in the afterlife. Psalm 73 is thus a companion to Psalm 49. The singer remembers that he discerned these different destinations while he was in the sanctuary of God, namely, at public worship (which points the congregation to what they should look for as they worship).

The following division (from McCann) is acceptable and useful:

Vv1-12 outline the problem, within which the plight of the psalmist receives 3 lines and the prosperity of the wicked receives 9.
Vv13-17 function as a five-verse unit indicate the turning point, while
vv18-28 describe a solution where 3 lines explain the plight of the wicked and 9 describe the prosperity of the psalmist.

There are multiple problems and questions that this psalm raises.  Here are a few of them:

1) What is the psalmist's main problem?
2) How do you understand the 'turning point' in vv. 13-17.
3) What are some practical lessons that can be learned from this psalm when dealing with issues that question your basic beliefs about God?
4) How do you understand the 'entering in the sanctuary' in v. 17?
5) Reflect on vv. 23-28.  What are the 'solutions' present in these verses?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Prepare to Praise the King of Glory

This is another amazing psalm, even though it is little known.  Kraus titles it: “The Entry of Yahweh, the King of the World.”  That is rather well said.

My study will concentrate on the theme of right worship and I will probably end up agreeing with Allen P. Ross (I am still studying the psalm) in his excellent commentary on the Psalms.

According to Ross, the “expository idea that best expresses the message of the psalm would be something like this: Those who assemble to praise the sovereign LORD of creation for his mighty and glorious acts of deliverance must be pure in thought and deed (if they are to find God’s favor and vindication). 

Here is the introduction and division as found in the ESV Study Bible:
Psalm 24. This psalm seems fitted for some liturgical occasion, perhaps one that celebrates the way that David brought the ark of the Lord into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6); this would explain the interest in God’s presence in Ps. 24:3–6, and the address to the gates in vv. 7–10. The psalm asserts the astounding idea that the God who created and owns everything is the very same God into whose presence the faithful worshiper enters because of the covenant with Israel. Such is the privilege of being Israel, and such too defines their mission, namely, to bring God’s fame to all his creation, and especially to all mankind.
Ps. 24:1–2 The Lord Is Creator and Owner of All. 
 Ps. 24:3–6 Who Receives Blessing from Him? 
 Ps. 24:7–10 Lift Up Your Heads, O Gates! Readers may imagine this as the call and response before the gates of Jerusalem: in v. 7 the procession bearing the ark announces God’s presence in the ark, seeking entry into his sanctuary; Who is this King of glory? (v. 8a) is the reply, asking for further identification. The procession then says who the Lord is (The Lord, strong and mighty, theLord, mighty in battle!), and then repeats the request for entry (v. 9). Again the doorkeepers reply, asking for identification (v. 10a), and again the procession identifies the Lord (v. 10b).
Ponder and pray with me over the following questions:
1)     How are the sections in this psalm connected?
2)     Do you recognize the sovereign reign of God over your life and all creation?
3)     What are the proper steps to take when approaching God?
4)     Can this psalm be interpreted Christologically? How?
5)     Note that this psalm is usually understood in connection with psalms 22 (The King in Suffering = past) and 23 (The King in Life = present).  In psalm 24 we find the King in Glory = future.  Do you agree with this interpretation/insight?
Teaching pastor,
Cristian R

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Lord is My Shepherd - Psalm 23

After a 2 week break from the Psalter to rejoice in the Resurrection of our Savior, we will continue with our study by meditating on Psalm 23.

This is clearly one of the most beloved and well-known psalms in the Psalter, and it would be great if we all memorized (I am sure some of you have memorized it already). If you already know it in Korean, try to memorize it in English. If you know it in English, try to memorize it in Korean, or some other language. I am still working on Hebrew and Korean, but I am stuck on the first verse in Korean! :)

As you read and meditate on this psalm, think about the following issues:

1) Can anyone appropriate this popular psalm, or does it apply only to believers? What does the image of 'shepherd' convey to you?
2) Do you see any relationships between this psalm and the surrounding ones (especially 22 and 24)?
3) This psalm is classified as a psalm of trust/confidence (just like psalm 16). In what way(s) is this psalm edifying you?
4) In this psalm the Lord is pictured as a shepherd. Which metaphors do you find most vivid and helpful for your walk with the Lord? How?
5) Why do you think that there is a change of person (from 3rd to 2nd) in verse 4?
6) The Lord seems to be pictured as a Host in vv. 5 and 6. How are the images in these verses helpful in your Christian walk?

7) Which explanations did you find most useful? Pay special attention to the "goodness and mercy" [better: goodness and steadfast love] in v. 6.
8) Which line is central for the understanding of this psalm?

Many blessings and joy as you meditate on this Psalm and follow the Good Shepherd on the path of life!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Psalm 22 - A Prophecy of the Cross of Christ

Psalm 22 is one of the two texts in the Old Testament that I consider most clearly Messianic. The other one is found in Isaiah 53. It is great that in our study through the psalms this is scheduled to be preached right at the beginning of the Passion week!

What makes this psalm so amazing is the fact that even though it was written about 1000 years before Christ, it reads “as if it were actually recorded at the foot of the cross.” It is clearly prophetic (see 2 Peter 1:19-21) since there aren’t any events in the life of David that correspond to this event.

MAIN IDEA : The Son of God will be forsaken by God and put to death, yet he remains fully confident in the faithfulness of God to deliver Him, and praises God for the nations who will come to worship from the ends of the earth.

Notice the use of Psalm 22 in Matthew (from ESV Study Bible):

Ps. 22:18

They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.

Matt. 27:35

Ps. 22:7

All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads.

And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads.

Matt. 27:39

Ps. 22:8

“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, “I am the Son of God.”

Matt. 27:43

Ps. 22:1

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Matt. 27:46


Ps. 22:1–2 Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Ps. 22:3–5 Yet the Lord Has Been Our Trust.

Ps. 22:6–8 Yet I Am Derided.

Ps. 22:9–11 But the Lord Has Cared for Me All My Life.

Ps. 22:12–18 I Am Surrounded by Enemies.

Ps. 22:19–21 Save Me as You Have Done Before!

Ps. 22:22–31 Praise Will Result: From Me, From Israel, From All Nations. The song closes with confidence that when God answers the prayer, the singer will be vindicated and will again be able to join with God’s people in worship.


1) Why do you think that this psalm should be classified as Messianic?

2) How do you react when you feel forsaken by God?

3) How is your understanding of Old Testament enhanced by the study of this psalm?

4) Is there anything in this prayer/psalm that can help enhance your prayer life? What?

5) Does this psalm help you understand better Jesus’ cry on the cross (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

”One Almighty is more than all mighties.William Gurnall

Psalm 19 was a breath of fresh air and I learned much, especially to humble myself, confess my sins, and appeal for power to God as my Rock and Redeemer.

While psalm 19 is fairly well known, I must confess that I cannot remember anyone ever preaching from psalms 20 and 21. By God’s grace, I am preparing to preach from psalm 20 on Sunday, skip psalm 21 (they are both royal psalms), and then preach from Psalm 22 (a Messianic psalm) on the Sunday before Good Friday. Then the plan is to preach from Psalm 23 after Resurrection Sunday.

Since I have not had the chance to do an in-depth study of this psalm yet, this outline relies again on Steven Lawson.

For comparison, Kraus has the following title: Prayer for the King. Craigie has A King’s Departure for Battle. My title is from Lawson, but it will most likely change by Sunday!

MAIN IDEA: David describes the prayer for military victory offered for him by the people before he leads the armies of Israel into battle.


A. The Petitions for the King (1-5)

1. For God’s protection (1)

2. For God’s power (2)

3. For God’s prosperity (3-5)

B. The Prayer of the King (6-8)

1. God saves the king (6)

2. God secures victory (7-8)

C. The Pleadings for the King (9)

1. SAVE the king (9a)

2. Answer our prayers (9b)


1. How is psalm 20 relevant for the church and for the individual Christian?

2. What are our battles and how should we prepare for them?

3. Do you see any connections between this psalm and 1 Tim 2:1-4.

4. Since we are approaching Palm Sunday, do you see any relationship/contrast between this psalm and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem?

Please note that the questions are preliminary. Please send me any other questions or ideas that may help with the teaching of this psalm!

Many blessings and joy,

Pastor Cristian

Monday, March 5, 2012

PSALM 19: The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

The excitement of studying and meditating on the Psalter continues with psalm 19. Thank you for your prayers and support!

I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God. ~ Abraham Lincoln

The starry sky above me and the moral law in me…are the two things which fill the soul with ever and new increasing admiration and reverence. ~ Immanual Kant

This psalm is both a hymn of praise and a petition. It can also be classified as a wisdom psalm (and it is by many scholars) and as a Torah psalm (see the second part of the psalm and compare it with psalms 1 and 119). Waltke titles it: A Royal Sage Praises and Petitions I AM (YHWH).

Here are some notes from his outline:

I. Firmament’s Praise of God’s Glory and Knowledge (1-6)

A. Temporal and Spatial Universality of Its Inaudible Praise (1-4)

B. Sun’s Universal Testimony (5-6)

II. Psalmist’s Praise of I AM’s [the LORD’s] Torah (7-10)

III. Psalmist’s Petition for Salvation (12-13)

A. Pardon for Hidden Guilt (11-12)

B. Preserve from Guilt of Apostasy (13)

Epilogue: Dedicatory Prayer (14)

Here are some relevant questions:

1. Do you meditate on all that God has done to reveal Himself?

2. Do you use God’s Word as a source of restoration between God and yourself?

3. Do you long and desire for God’s Word?

4. What are some ‘rewards’ that you received from following God’s Word?

Enjoy studying and meditating the psalms, and please send any questions you may have about this passage or just write them in the comments for this blog. Thank you!

Many blessings and joy!

Teaching Pastor,


Monday, February 27, 2012

Anchored to the Rock: A Song of Thanksgiving

One with God is a majority. – William Carey

I am skipping psalm 17 because I plan to preach from the ‘parallel’ psalm (22) closer to the Passion Week. Psalm 18 is a very long psalm, so I was tempted to skip it in my preaching.

However, I find this an important one (it is also found in 2 Samuel 22) and I will tackle it with God’s help.

The following preliminary notes are from Lawson and the ESV Study Bible. By the end of the week I usually refine my understanding of the psalm and I may be in partial disagreement with these comments, but I find these notes as good starting points.

MAIN IDEA: David rejoices in God who has rescued him from all his enemies.

This is a royal psalm, i.e., it celebrates the way that God has shown his love to his people by giving them the Davidic monarchy and by preserving David through many dangers (see the title and v. 50). The text of the psalm is almost identical to 2 Samuel 22. The two songs differ, however, in their context: Second Samuel 22 is David’s personal expression of gratitude to the Lord, while Psalm 18 is the adaptation of that song for the whole people to sing, because their well-being is now tied to the offspring of David (2 Sam. 7:4–17). When God’s people sang this, then, they were to give thanks for the Davidic line and to pray that its heirs would be faithful to the Lord and would be valiant military leaders, so that Israel might carry out its God-given purpose of bringing light to the Gentiles. (ESV Study Bible).

A. David’s Rejoicing (1-3)

Love for God

Protection from God

B. David’s Reasons (4-45)

God rescued me (4-19)

God rewarded me (20-27)

God renewed me (28-42)

God restored me (43-45)

C. David’s Refrain: (46-50)

God subdues (46-47)

God saves (48)

God succeeds (49-50)


What struck me about this psalm is the opening line: I love you, O Lord! This statement of love is almost unparalleled in the Bible. Check it out for yourself by starting with the psalms.

Read the ‘theophany’ in vv. 7-15. What are your feelings and understanding about this?

How is this psalm applicable to the Christian today?

What are your reasons for thanksgiving?

Can this psalm be preached ‘Christologically’?