Psalm 34 – Part Three

Over the past two days we’ve considered Psalm 34: praise for the God who delivers, and testimony about the God who delivers. Today we ask: how, exactly, does God deliver?

How does God deliver?

I mean, now. Sure, he delivered David from the hands of Achish, Goliath, Saul, the Philistines, the list goes on… But I’m unlikely to fall into the clutches of any marauding barbarian kings, at least in the places where I regularly hang out. And if I do, I’ll remember to keep that whole saliva-in-the-beard, faking-insanity strategy up my sleeve. (You can’t accuse the Bible of not containing practical advice.) But what does “God delivers” mean today?

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Psalm 34 – Part One

Psalm 34 is all about ‘the God who delivers’. The word ‘deliver’ occurs 4 times:

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
19 A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;

The God who delivers. But what exactly do we mean by that? Because the word “deliver” when used this way tends to be a bit of a Christian jargon word. Certainly we use it quite differently from how the rest of the world understands it.

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Christian Parenting for Everyone – Part Five (Ps 78:1-8)

In honour of Father’s Day last Sunday, all this week we’ve been looking at Christian parenting. But not just for parents – for everyone. Our text is Psalm 78:1-8, which is the introduction to a very long Psalm that recites the great deeds of God in Israel’s history. But the introduction itself tells us a lot about teaching future generations about God. We’re using John Piper’s six key ideas as our “window” into the Psalm:

(1) God, the central reality in our lives, (2) has given us a fixed deposit of his truth (3) which we are to teach (4) so that our children might know that truth (5) and therefore put their trust in God (6) enabling them to live lives of loyal obedience.

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Christian Parenting for Everyone – Part Four (Ps 78:1-8)

In honour of Father’s Day last Sunday, all this week we’re looking at Christian parenting. But not just for parents – for everyone. Our text is Psalm 78:1-8, which is the introduction to a very long Psalm that recites the great deeds of God in Israel’s history. But the introduction itself tells us a lot about teaching future generations about God. We’re using John Piper’s six key ideas as our “window” into the Psalm:

(1) God, the central reality in our lives, (2) has given us a fixed deposit of his truth (3) which we are to teach (4) so that our children might know that truth (5) and therefore put their trust in God (6) enabling them to live lives of loyal obedience.

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Christian Parenting for Everyone – Part Three (Ps 78:1-8)

In honour of Father’s Day last Sunday, all this week we’re looking at Christian parenting. But not just for parents – for everyone. Our text is Psalm 78:1-8, which is the introduction to a very long Psalm that recites the great deeds of God in Israel’s history. But the introduction itself tells us a lot about teaching future generations about God. We’re using John Piper’s six key ideas as our “window” into the Psalm:

(1) God, the central reality in our lives, (2) has given us a fixed deposit of his truth (3) which we are to teach (4) so that our children might know that truth (5) and therefore put their trust in God (6) enabling them to live lives of loyal obedience.

Continue reading

Christian Parenting for Everyone – Part Two (Ps 78:1-8)

In honour of Father’s Day last Sunday, all this week we’re looking at Christian parenting. But not just for parents – for everyone. Our text is Psalm 78:1-8, which is the introduction to a very long Psalm that recites the great deeds of God in Israel’s history. But the introduction itself tells us a lot about teaching future generations about God. We’re using John Piper’s six key ideas as our “window” into the Psalm:

(1) God, the central reality in our lives, (2) has given us a fixed deposit of his truth (3) which we are to teach (4) so that our children might know that truth (5) and therefore put their trust in God (6) enabling them to live lives of loyal obedience.

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Christian Parenting for Everyone – Part One (Ps 78:1-8)

Yesterday was Father’s Day in Australia. Now to those of you who aren’t fathers, or don’t have children, or don’t get on with your father, or get sick of churches banging on about families to the exclusion of people who are single… don’t tune out! Because this week – yes, in honour of Father’s Day – we’re looking at Christian parenting from the perspective of everyone in a community of believers. Not just parents.

It takes a church

There’s a proverb that says: it takes a village to raise a child. But it takes an arsonist to raze a village. I think the second bit wasn’t original. But the first part is often cited as a truth that contemporary, Western society has overlooked in our increasingly disconnected, isolated family units. Hilary Clinton famously used it as the title for a book, looking at the ways in which society helps parents raise children. Many Christian conservatives in the US took issue with the book, firing back that it doesn’t take a village to raise a child, it takes a family to raise a child.

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Psalm 72 (part three)

Psalm 72 is helping us bridge the thousand-plus year gap between our study in Ruth, and next week when we start the Christmas story in Matthew’s gospel. Today, we’re focusing on three more the ideals of Israel’s king – and how Jesus “fulfils” or “completes” them. Make sure you’ve read Psalm 72 first, if you haven’t already.

God’s champion of justice

An overriding theme of this psalm is that the king is to be the means by which God executes justice in the world. Firstly, within Israel’s borders:

72:1-2, 4 Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. 2 May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice… May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.

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Psalm 72 (part two)

Yesterday was an overview of Psalm 72, which is helping us bridge the thousand-plus year gap between our study in Ruth, and next week when we start the Christmas story in Matthew’s gospel. Today, we’re focusing on two of the ideals of Israel’s king – and how Jesus “fulfils” or “completes” them. Make sure you’ve read Psalm 72 first, if you didn’t already read it yesterday.

The King as God’s Son

This is one of a number of Psalms called ‘royal psalms’, written about the king. It opens by referring to the king as the ‘royal son’. In the Ancient Near East, kings were often referred to as ‘sons’ of the nation’s god – that is, the god’s representative. Most of the time, these national gods couldn’t be bothered getting of their backsides to help their people – humans were created to serve them, not make their lives harder – so they would get their king to do all their work for them in their absence. Much like our Governor-General…

In Psalm 2, another royal Ps written for David’s coronation, God says to the King: ‘You are my son; today I have become your Father.’ God effectively adopts the king as his son when he ascends the throne.

Behind this idea is the practice of a son entering the same profession as his father, ultimately taking over the family business. Although people might disrespect the hired staff, if you spoke to the son of the owner, you were speaking to his authorised representative – it was like you were speaking to the owner himself. We’ll come back to that later on today.

In Israel, then, Psalms 2 and 72 describe the king in Ancient Near Eastern terms as God’s authorised representative, adopted as his son – his spokesman and executive agent, performing his will. And we see this in the narratives about David, Solomon, and all the kings of Judah.

God’s perfect son

However, no human king could always live up to this ideal of being the perfect representative on earth of Yahweh, the Lord and Creator of the universe. Even the good ones – like David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah – all failed from time to time.

Enter Jesus.

The writer to the Hebrews applies this idea of royal sonship to Jesus, citing Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14

Heb 1:5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”?

By the way, this doesn’t mean that Jesus was just a man who was ‘adopted’ into being God after his resurrection. Jesus was God’s Son from all eternity. The ‘today I have become your Father’ in Jesus’ case prob refers to his ascension into heaven after completing his atoning work on the cross. By becoming human, living amongst us, dying for us, and rising again, he at that point perfectly fulfilled the role of God’s son in Ancient Near Eastern kingship terms – God’s perfect representative and mediator to humanity.

As Jesus said (John 14:9) ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.’ We’re not talking to hired staff, but the owner himself. Which is why in Jesus’ parable of the wicked tenants – after sending a succession of servants who were ignored or beaten – the owner of the vineyard sends his son, the equivalent of going there himself. And this is why it is so shocking that the tenants killed the son. The point is: you reject Jesus, you’re rejecting God. Conversely: we who have accepted Jesus now have a relationship with God himself.

Christians – God’s sons?

Now we’re not Jesus. Obviously. But we, too, have been given the role of sonship by God – we are to be his representatives.

Eph 1:5 in love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will

That is who we are in Christ – sons of God. (I’m not using the gender-inclusive term ‘children’ here because in this context ‘son’ doesn’t mean ‘male child’, It refers to the role of being an authorised representative of the Father. Each of us, male and female, is God’s son.

We are called God’s sons:

When we follow Jesus in working for peace:

Mt 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

When we follow Jesus  in showing kindness to our enemies:

Lk 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

When we follow Jesus  in his obedience to God:

Rom 8:13-14 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

As God’s sons, his representatives, through us people should be able to meet God:

‘There was a young boy living in Paris at the end of the World War II. He had been orphaned by the atrocities committed within his city by the occupying German forces. He scrounged around the ruined city as best as he could to find food, clothes and shelter. But everyone was living in desperate times and he found that people either ignored him and or could find nothing to give him. Even the soldiers who had freed Paris from the German army seemed not to care about his situation. He had heard the Priest in the church, long before war had broken out, talk about God and Jesus and living the Christian life. But with the hell on earth that the war had brought he had since lost hope of any sense of Heaven. One cold morning, he was wandering down the street, staring into the windows of shops and cafés. He stopped outside the window of a small bakery. The smell of the fresh bread made his stomach ache with pain, so much so he didn’t notice the American soldier who had stopped in the street and had begun watching him with interest. The boy hardly noticed the soldier as he walked past him and into the store. He did however notice the large bag the baker was filling for the soldier with rolls, breads, pastries and other foods. And the boy could hardly breathe when the soldier exited the shop, knelt down and handed him the bag. The boy looked at the soldier with astonishment and gratefulness. Finally, he looked up at the soldier and asked him the question that was running through his mind: “Mister, are you Jesus?”’

Would other people – having met you, seen who you are, how you behave – go away thinking they’ve seen Jesus?

God’s king forever

The second thing we notice in the psalm about Israel’s king is that he would be king forever:

72:5 May he endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations.

Oops. The sun’s still here; moon, too. Solomon’s dead. Maybe the Palmist means that the king will endure through his descendants?

Ps 45:6 Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.

And how about God’s promise to David about Solomon and his descendants:

2 Sam 7:14a, 16 ‘I will be his father, and he will be my son. … Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’

That lasted a bit longer. A few hundred years. But still, in 587BC, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched in and carried the king off. To this day there is no king on David’s throne in Jerusalem. The closest we’ve got is some bloke in Tel Aviv called Ben.

What about God’s promise? What are we to make of this? Are we living in denial when we say God keeps his promises?

Or do we do a rethink about David’s throne? It’s no longer a physical kingship over God’s chosen nation, but now it’s a spiritual kingship over God’s new covenant people, the church.

This is what Peter preached in Jerusalem at Pentecost:

Acts 2:29-32 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.”

We, the church, have God’s son – his perfect representative – through whom we have access to God. And this is not temporary. We have God’s perfect king who is king forever.

But what does that mean for us now? How will this perfect, eternal representative exercise his rule in the world? That’s what we’ll look at tomorrow…

To think about

For now, think about what it means for us to continue Jesus’ work as “sons of God” – his representatives on earth. What kind of a difference would it make to your day today if you kept that thought at the forefront of your mind?