TEXTS: Psalms 110 to 118
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the psalmist calls on all and sundry to praise God, “For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever…” (Psalm 117:2). He acknowledges the Lord’s overriding sovereign power over challenges and designs of our enemies. He believes that “the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance”; thus, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118:8).
The psalms in focus do not only talk about God’s mighty works and deliverances for His people, they also contain many messianic prophecies. They recall the historic deliverance of Israel from Egyptian captivity and reveal the writer’s personal reasons for giving thanks to God. His thanksgiving was punctuated at various points with expressions of confidence reposed in the Lord for His continual help.
A mind of gratitude to God for the vastness of His gracious care eclipses vicissitudes of life. Therefore, believers should note that an attitude of gratitude to God is an antidote to worry and anxiety. Moreover, the Scripture admonishes believers to relinquish their cares to the Almighty and “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let [their] requests be made known unto God (Philippians 4:6).
The psalms also highlight the assurance and privileges of the godly (Psalm 112), portray the awesome power of God and project Him above all idols (Psalms 114,115). Finally, there is a call to love God and consecrate to Him (Psalm 116) with exhortation to all nations and people to praise Him (Psalms 117 and 118).
MESSIANIC PROPHECIES AND ISRAEL’S DELIVERANCE (Psalms 110:1-7; 114:1-8; 115:1-18; 118:1-29; Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36,37; Luke 20:42; Acts 2:34; Hebrews 5:6,10; 6:20)
As part of its divine distinctiveness, the Old Testament contains prophecies of Christ’s advent and passion. These are referred to as messianic prophecies and some of them are captured in Psalms 110 and 118. They describe Christ as Lord, Ruler, Priest, Judge and Cornerstone. Christ Himself confirmed that Psalm 110:1 refers to Him: “For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David therefore himself calleth him Lord…” (Mark 12:36,37).
At His first advent, Jesus was rejected, especially by the Jews, yet He established His eternal priesthood through His atonement on the cross (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:5-7; 7:17,21,22,24). At His second coming, He will establish His millennial kingdom with power and shall rule literally as Lord and King; all people and nations shall submit to His lordship. All who believe in Him shall be forgiven their sins and reign with Him eternally. In His dominion, He “…shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen…” (Psalm 110:5,6). The dominion of Christ is as terrible to His enemies as it is glorious to the saints. When His enemies shall be made His footstool, individuals, kings and nations opposed to His lordship shall be crushed in His vehement wrath. Such transgressors and aggressors are counselled to “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled…” (Psalm 2:12). For believers, Christ’s second coming should be a source of joy, comfort and the greatest incentive for Christian service.
In an act of thanksgiving, the psalmist commemorates the miraculous exodus of the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage with beautiful embellishment of language (Psalm 114). Certain similarities can be drawn between the experience of Israel and the Church today. One, they “…went out of Egypt… from a people of strange language” (Psalm 114:1). Believers are the called out ones. They are brought out of the world of sin and “delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). None is a part of Christ’s Church who is not separated from the world or a people of strange language.
Two, God dwelt in Judah as His sanctuary (Psalm 114:2). Similarly, believers are the temple of the living God and He indwells them (2 Corinthians 6:16). Three, the elements of nature could not hold the wilderness church; the sea parted, the mountains skipped and trembled at the presence of God, Jordan was driven aback, and the rock yielded fountains of water (Psalm 114:3-8). In Christ’s work of redemption, the age-long inbred nature of man prone to sin is conquered and sin’s dominion destroyed (Romans 6:14). There is obvious need to acknowledge God’s power and goodness in what He did for Israel, apply it to the much greater work of our redemption through Christ and encourage ourselves to trust in Him in any spiritual, economic, physical, marital or financial straits.
The psalmist declares that God “hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3). The gods of Egypt could not restrain Him; their idols are the work of man’s hand. They are powerless and can do nothing. Those who trust in them embark on futile religion (Psalm 115:4-8). Thus, Israel is admonished to put their trust in the true God. Then, the psalmist pronounces blessings generously on the people of God. Therefore, believers must put their trust in the Lord if they would continue to enjoy divine blessings.
MULTIPLE EXHORTATIONS TO PRAISE GOD AND BLESSINGS FOR THE GODLY (Psalms 111:1-10; 112:1-10; 113:1-9; 117:1,2; 118:1-29; 35:18; 89:5; 107:32; 109:30; 149:1; Proverbs 1:33; 10:28; 11:7)
Many of the psalms under consideration contain numerous admonitions to praise the Lord. Saints should praise God at all times, “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3). Believers ought to give thanks to God, first, for who He is and His wonderful attributes: His works are great, marvellous, unsearchable and glorious; and His righteousness endures forever. Unlike idols, He is higher than “all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers…” (Colossians 1:16; Psalms 111:2-4; 113:4-6; 117:2; 118:1-4).
Second, because He provides for those who fear Him. He gave Israel the heritage of the heathen and sent redemption to His people (Psalm 111:1-8). Third, He changes the status of His poor children and causes the barren to have children (Psalm 113:7-9).
Fourth, the psalmist testifies to God’s mercy towards him personally through answer to prayers at the time of distress; thus, he made the following declarations of faith: “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?”; “The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me”; “They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them”; “The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation”; “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD” (Psalm 118:6,7,12,14,17).
However, from the testimonies of the psalmist, believers in the new dispensation are not to pray for the destruction of those who hate them but seek their repentance. From his personal experience, the psalmist could boldly say, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes” (Psalm 118:8,9). This underscores the scriptural truism that the arms of flesh will fail and their patrons will be utterly disappointed. Jesus is the only Friend who stays by His own at all times. Then, the fear of the Lord is recommended for those who offer praise to God (Psalm 112:1). It is not only considered as a wise virtue but as a bringer of generational prosperity and blessedness (Psalms 111:10; 112:2-4).
It is noteworthy that the praise of God is sacred and all godly virtues are expected of those who offer praises to Him. A situation where sinners engage in praises does not glorify God. The heart must be cleansed and acceptable to Him before the praises can be pleasing to Him. “But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?” (Psalm 50:16).
There is the mention also of specific earthly blessings that accrue to the godly. One, he shall be prospered by God. Two, his posterity shall be blessed. Three, he will experience light in the darkness. Four, he shall be immoveable and unafraid of evil tidings. Five, he shall be honoured by God. “The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish” (Psalm 112:10). Believers can appropriate these promised blessings now through prayer and faith while they keep the eternal blessings in view.
MANIFEST LOVE TO GOD AND THE PSALMIST’S CONSECRATION (Psalms 116:1-19; 18:1; Jonah 2:9; Leviticus 7:12; John 21:16; 1 John 4:20)
For God’s gracious dealings, the psalmist declares his love for Him: “I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications” (Psalm 116:1). He considers the blessings he had received as inestimable and wonders if he could reciprocate the favours. “What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people” (Psalm 116:12-14). In response, he offers more praise and promised to pay his vows in the presence of God’s people.
Consecration to God stems from a genuine sense of gratitude for His manifold mercies. Partakers of God’s goodness whose lives He has spared from sickness, death, disease, calamity or tragedy should live the rest of their lives for His glory. Moreover, those He has redeemed from the power of sin and Satan should live to serve Him all their lives. “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15). For Apostle Peter, the proof of his love for Christ was caring and feeding His flock (John 21:16). A believer’s love for God will find expression in his love and care for fellow believers (1 John 4:20) and preaching the gospel.
The psalmist’s examples are worthy of emulation for believers in Christ. They should constantly display their affection for Him, not just by mere profession, but through obedience to His word and active service to the body of Christ. They should engage in activities that please the Lord and bring joy to His heart. Our gratitude to God should find expression in the way we give our lives, substance, talent and treasures to Him. Thus, our consecration would be scripturally meaningful if we engage in God’s service and surrender all to His glory.