Friday, December 9, 2011

Psalm 9

Psalm 9
A psalm of righteous judgment  

"To the Chief Musician. To the tune of 'Death of the Son.' A Psalm of David. I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High." (verses 1-2)

      In this psalm destined for the Chief Musician, (the leader of the Levite Temple Choir), David begins with a note that no new instrumental composition was required for this piece, as the lyrics worked with the tune of an already existing song by the name of "Death of the Son." This particular song has been lost to us today, but clearly God designed that the words of David's replacement should stand the test of time...3,000 years of time. 
      A good number of the beloved hymns of yesteryear were written to existing popular secular tunes of their day. Upbeat and with a marching tempo, many of our most sacred songs had their origins in bar rooms and taverns. Clearly, in God's estimation, good music is good music, and is not at all bothered by holy words sung to "worldly" melodies. David is just overflowing with praise as he begins this passionate psalm, declaring his rapturous delight in his God.

"When my enemies turn back, they shall fall and perish at Your presence. For You have maintained my right and my cause; You sat on the throne judging in righteousness. You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their name forever and ever. 
O enemy, destructions are finished forever! And you have destroyed cities; even their memory has perished. But the  LORD shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment. He shall judge the world in righteousness, and He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness." (verses 3-8)

        Verse three sheds some light on the cause for David's great rejoicing; he is fully convinced, by faith, that God is going to stand up for him against those who hate him.  In short, David believes that God is on his side.  He is the good guy, on the right side, with the just cause. His enemies are the bad guys, on the wrong side, and with evil intent. 
      When starting a children's movie with my kids, the plot and characters are generally pretty predictable, and I am always certain that, no matter how bad it seems to get for the good guys, in the end, good triumphs and evil loses. I, of course, know this from experience, having watched too many movies over the years. However, my kids are not as certain, and can easily become frightened at parts where the main character seems in deathly peril. I often have to reassure them, "I promise he won't die." And you know what? He never does. 
      Well, David was a man who actually lived an adventure/ drama/ action/ sword fighting/ romance/ political intrigue movie plot. One of the most exciting characters in the Bible, he also was a famous musician, outlaw, and king. And over the many years of seeing God's favour and faithfulness towards him, David just knows that God is going to take care of him this time, too. He knows who's going to win, and it is not the bad guys.

"The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people. When He avenges blood, He remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the humble. 
      Have mercy on me, O LORD! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death, that I may tell of all Your praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion. I will rejoice in your salvation." (verses 9-14)

      When you look into the annals of world history, it becomes painfully clear that untold multitudes of people have lived and died horrible lives, bound under the oppression of wicked men and women. Today, billions live tragic lives of hunger, slavery, disease, and fear. Millions of innocent men, women, and children die because of mankind's greed and selfishness. 
      In North America, we rip babies out of the safety of their mother's wombs and throw them in trashcans, legally. The trafficking of children for sex, the murder of Christians, the destruction of poor people's land and health through toxins and chemicals, the list could go on and on. Does God see all of these horrible things that happen daily? The unspeakable atrocities that have happened all throughout history, for thousands of years? The billions and billions of lives ruined by the sin of others? 
       The answer is a resounding, "YES!" God sees, and God cares. God is good, and hates evil. Why then does He allow such wickedness to happen, to "go unchecked"? 
       You see, God gave mankind a free will to make choices, good and bad, and He allows men the right to make evil choices. When a person asks why God doesn't just step in and punish all the evil men, they make themselves judges as to the standards of right and wrong. 
      What exactly constitutes "evil"? If God punishes those who live luxuriously off of child sex trafficking, should He not also punish those who publish child pornography? What about those who sell it? Or how about your local pedophile, or that man who "just" thinks sexually about children? How far is God to go in "stopping evil men"? 
      Well, the Bible actually answers that. He will go all the way to the hidden things of the heart at the final Judgment, but right now, He extends mercy to all who will receive it, and waits until the appointed day. Is mercy just for the "innocent"? No, God's mercy is for all of us. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) God extends mercy to both the victim and the victimizer, and truly saves them both through humble faith alone. David is confident in God's care for the helpless, and includes himself with them in needing God's deliverance.

"The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made; in the net which they hid, their own foot is caught. The LORD is known by the judgment He executes; the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Meditation. Selah. 
      The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever. Arise, O LORD, do not let man prevail; let the nations be judged in Your sight. Put them in fear, O LORD, that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah." (verses 15-20)

      God's judgment is perfectly fair. By the exact degree that a man commits evil, by the same degree will he be judged; and his judgment is certain. No wicked deed will go unpunished; God will eternally punish the wicked. When we see atrocities committed all around us, we need not despair. God will judge it. But today is the day of God's mercy, the age of grace. 
       Today, God is calling out for all who hear to repent of their dead works and place their trust in Him... today, to receive the mercy of God through faith. 
       Jesus died the death of the wicked, bearing the worst of mankind's sins upon His own body. Murder, lust, greed, perversion, hatred, deceit.... He took the WHOLE punishment, for the WHOLE of mankind. The oppressed and the oppressor, He died for them both. His mercy is for them both. His mercy is for all. It is free. By faith. 
      If you are trusting in your own goodness and good works, repent and trust in His mercy alone, and be saved from the judgment to come. "The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) 
      We all die. Even the the strongest and most beautiful end up in the grave. We are but men. But for those whose hope is in the LORD, death is but the passageway to life! Full, physical, forever LIFE. Even heaven is our home but for a season; after this earth is judged, we will return to it in eternal material bodies to live life the way we wished we could have from the beginning... perfect health, strength, minds, emotions, and relationships, all without even a taint of sin or sorrow. 
      It is how God designed us to live from the beginning, before man's choice in the garden. It is natural to desire peace, prosperity, health, and wisdom; but utopia is impossible until Christ returns to reign on this earth. O, Lord, Jesus, come!

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