• The greatest weekend in salvation history was predicted by King David the prophet in Psalm 16 almost a thousand years before it happened. In Gethsemane we see His trust (Psalm 16:1-6); up to Gabbatha, we see him unmovable (16:7-8); at Golgotha, we see His joy (16:9a); in the “Garden Tomb,” we see Him risen (16:9b-10); and in the Glory, we see Him rejoicing (19:11)!

    Click here to download and read “PSALM 16: Gethsemane, Gabbatha, Golgotha,  the “Garden Tomb,” and the Glory.

  • Studies in the Book of Psalms Comments Off on PSALM 54: “Et Tu, Ziphites?” (“Even You, Ziphites?”)

    by Gordon Franz

    History is replete with trusted and beloved people who betray their own family, friends, or country. Two examples come to mind. Judas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, betrayed the Lord Jesus with a kiss after receiving 30 pieces of silver. Another example is General Benedict Arnold, one of General George Washington’s most trusted officers during the American War for Independence. Arnold betrayed his own country by turning over the plans for West Point, the fort that he commanded, to his British handler Major John Andre in 1780. Fortunately, Andre was captured in Tarrytown, NY, by three alert patriot soldiers before he could make his way back to New York City – thus, this treasonous act was exposed and the plot was foiled.

    William Shakespeare vividly captures another betrayal in his play Julius Caesar (1599). In January 2011, I had the opportunity to see this play in Rome on the last night of the Talbot School of Theology’s study tour of Turkey, Greece, and Rome. Some of my students found out that the play was being presented in English at one of the local theaters. They invited me to join them for dinner and then afterwards attend the play. I could not think of a better way to end the trip.

    Julius Caesar and emperor worship was one of the themes of our study tour. We had discussed Caesar’s assassination and the implications of his subsequent deification by the Roman Senate. We had also discussed the pivotal battle of Philippi, which changed the course of Western civilization. At stake in this battle was whether Rome would retain its republican form of government or become an imperial empire with emperor worship as its new cult. Unfortunately, the imperialists won the battle and Rome adopted emperor worship. Thus, the underlying conflict between the Early Church and the Roman government began. The conflict revolved around the question of who could be rightly worshiped as lord. Was it Caesar or was it the Lord Jesus?

    In 44 BC, Rome was in turmoil. Some Roman senators, calling themselves Liberators, wanted to keep the republican form of government and the liberties and freedoms that went along with it. On the other hand, Julius Caesar and his crowd wanted a dictatorship, and Caesar was about to proclaim himself king. The people seemed to be following Caesar because he fed and entertained them, which later became the basis for the phrase “bread and circuses.” The conspirators (Liberators) isolated Julius Caesar in the old Roman Senate building on the Eids of March (March 15) and proceeded to inflict knife wounds on the dictator. One of the last people to step forward to plunge his dagger into Caesar was Brutus. The Latin line, immortalized by Shakespeare, that has been attributed to Caesar was, “Et tu, Brute?” (“Even you, Brutus?” – Act 3, Scene 1, Line 77).

    In the next scene, Mark Antony begins his eulogy of Julius Caesar with his famous “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” speech. In the course of his remarks, Antony points to the twenty-three stab wounds that were inflicted by the Liberators on Julius Caesar, and says:

    Look, in this place ran Cassius’ dagger through:
    See what a rent the envious Casca made;
    Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb’d;
    And as he pluck’d his cursed steel away,
    Mark how the blood of Caesar follow’d it,
    As rushing out of doors, to be resolved
    If Brutus so unkindly knock’d, or no;
    For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar’s angel:
    Judge, O ye gods, how dearly Caesar loved him!
    This was the most unkindest cut of all;
    For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
    Ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms,
    Quite vanquish’d him: then burst his mighty heart (Act 3, Scene 2).

    According to Mark Antony, Brutus was Caesar’s angel and Julius loved him dearly, which is why a dear friend turning on him was “the most unkindest cut of all.”

    After the play, we walked back to our hotel. There was a beautiful, bright, full moon (the eids of January) as we walked past the old Roman Senate building, where Julius Caesar had been assassinated and then past the Roman Forum, where the Temple of Julius which contains the cremated remains of the dictator was located.

    Psalm 54 tells of another betrayal. The Ziphites, a clan within David’s own tribe of Judah, offered to turn him over to the Benjamite, King Saul. This offer must have deeply hurt David. He might have thought something akin to “Et Tu, Ziphites?” (“Even you, Ziphites?”). Why are you betraying your own tribesman? Where is your tribal loyalty?

    Historical, Geographical, and Archaeological Background
    The superscription gives us the historical setting for this psalm. It states, “A Contemplation of David when the Ziphites went and said to Saul, ‘Is David not hiding with us?’” It was during the time when David fled from Saul (1 Sam. 19-26). The Bible, however, records that the Ziphites offered David to Saul on two separate occasions (1 Sam. 23:19; 26:1; CBA 92) so it is difficult to ascertain which betrayal the psalmist had in mind. Perhaps the Spirit of God left it ambiguous so we could have two possibilities to contemplate as to how God will deliver us in times of trouble.

    The first time the Ziphites offered to turn David over to Saul was in 1 Sam. 23:13-29. David was in the Wilderness of Ziph, and Jonathan, Saul’s son, visited him and made a covenant (23:14-18). David then moved deeper into the Judean desert to the Wilderness of Maon. There Saul divided his army and was ready to pounce on David and capture him when he received word that the Philistines had invaded the land of Israel (23:19-28). Saul left David at the Rock of Escape, or Separation (23:28), in order to take care of the Philistine problem. David then went to the strongholds of Ein Gedi (23:29). The first time David was delivered from Saul it was by external circumstances.

    Nogah Hareuveni, the founder of Neot Kedumim (the Biblical Gardens), has identified the Rock of Separation with Mount Kholed (177-092 on the Israeli grid system), a one-and-a-half-kilometer, knifelike ridge with steep slopes on both sides. David was on the east side heading toward the Dead Sea. Saul, approaching from the west, split his army into a pincer formation to go around both ends of the ridge and capture David (1991: 33–34).

    The second time the Ziphites offered to turn David over to Saul was in 1 Samuel 26:1. David was in the Wilderness (of Ziph or Maon), and Saul was camped on the Hill of Hachilah with his 3,000 men. The Lord caused a divinely induced deep sleep to fall on Saul and all his men (26:12), which enabled David and Abishai, one of David’s mighty men (2 Sam. 23:18-19), to enter the camp of Saul and remove his spear and water jug. Abishai wanted to kill Saul on the spot, but David did not allow it because Saul was the Lord’s anointed. The second time David was delivered from Saul was by divine intervention.

    The Wilderness of Ziph (1 Sam. 23:14-15; 26:2) covers the area of Nahal Hever and Nahal Mishmar. The Wilderness of Maon (1 Sam. 23:24-25) covers the area of Nahal Ze’elim (Har-el 2003: 226).

    The ancient city of Ziph was situated in the third district of the Hill Country of Judah along with ten other cities and their villages (Josh. 15:55-57). Ziph has been identified with Tel Ziph (1628-0982 on the Israeli grid system), a site located 880 meters above sea level and 6 kilometers (3 ½ miles) to the Southeast of Hebron. Because of its varied agricultural activities, Ziph was an important economic center. Dr. Menashe Har-el, professor of Biblical Geography at Tel Aviv University, observed that: “The ancient farmers [of Ziph] grew vines and olives on the slopes of the mountain ranges to the north and west of the city, and this region of the mountains of Hebron was the center of vine-growing activity. Cereals were cultivated on the wide plateau of Jattir and Eshtemoa in the south, which was the cradle of grain farming in the Judean Hills, while livestock were reared in the wilderness of Ziph in the east, particularly on the southern slopes of the mountains of Hebron in the direction of the Arad Valley” (2003: 228).

    Ziph was also a strategic military post because it controlled the roads from the south into Hebron. For this reason King Rehoboam fortified the city in preparation for possible attacks from that direction (2 Chron. 11:8; CBA 119).

    In the last quarter of the 8th century BC, Judah produced storage jars with the word “LMLK” stamped on the jar handles. The word “LMLK” mean “to/for the king.” Sometimes the jar handles had the name of one of four cities on them: MMST (most likely Ramat Rachel), Hebron, Succoh, and Ziph. Dr. Anson Rainey suggests that these vessels contain wine from the royal winery, but he is not sure how the crown acquired the vineyard (1982: 59; CBA 152).  The Hebron Hills were famous for their grapes (cf. Num. 13:20, 22-24; see also Gen. 49:11-12). King Uzziah had royal wineries in the Hill Country of Judah and in Carmel, south of Hebron (2 Chron. 26:10). The royal Carmel estates were a result of David’s marriage to Abigail (1 Sam. 25:39-43). One could speculate that the Ziphite vineyards were confiscated by King David and made into a royal estate after the Ziphites had betrayed him on two occasions.

    No systematic archaeological excavations have been conducted at Tel Ziph. After the Six-Day War (1967), Israeli archaeologists surveyed the site and picked up pottery shards from the Iron Age; the Persian Period; Hellenistic Period; as well as the Roman, Byzantine, and Medieval Periods. There was a heavy concentration of pottery during the Hellenistic period (Kochavi 1972: 68; site #178 on the Judah map). Khirbet Ziph (1635-0983 on the Israeli grid system) is located a short distance to the east of Tel Ziph, was surveyed as well but only Byzantine and Medieval archaeological remains were detected (Kochavi 1972: 69; Judah #179).

    A bilingual ossuary that was found near Tel Ziph is on display in the Hebron Archaeological Museum. The owner’s name, which was written in both Greek and Aramaic, was on the ossuary, which dates to the 2nd or 3rd century AD (Rahmani 1972: 113-116).

    The psalmist is betrayed by “friends” (his own tribesmen) and pursued by the wicked (King Saul), yet his trust is in the name of the Lord, the One who is “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24). The psalmist is confident that the Lord will deliver him from this adverse situation. In gratitude to the Lord for answering his prayer, the psalmist offered a freewill offering out of love for Him.

    Literary Structure
    Psalm 54 is made up of five stanzas and is arranged in a chiastic form: 54:1-2; 3; 4; 5; 6-7. The key word in the A lines (54:1, 6) is “Your name.” The center line, C (54:4), expresses the psalmist’s trust in the Lord.

    A. Prayer for deliverance from enemies by YHWH’s name. 54:1-2

    B. Enemies rise up against David. 54:3

    C. The psalmist’s trust in his Deliverer – the LORD my Helper. 54:4

    B’. Enemies are repaid by the Lord. 54:5

    A’. Thanksgiving for deliverance from enemies by YHWH’s name. 54:6-7

    The Hebrew Bible includes the superscription as part of the inspired psalm; the superscription is found in verses 1 and 2. Verses 1-7 in the English Bible are numbered 3-9 in the Hebrew text.

    Exposition of Psalm 54

    Prayer for deliverance from enemies by YHWH’s name. 54:1-2
    “Save me, O God, by Your name, and vindicate me by Your strength. Hear my prayer; O God, give ear to the words of my mouth.”

    David began this psalm with a prayer that contains two requests: save me and vindicate me. His prayer for salvation is made in the name of the Lord (YHWH). Because of the psalm’s chiastic structure, “the name” appears again in verse 6.

    David probably had in mind the incident when Moses came across a burning bush at Mount Horeb, the mountain of God, in the Sinai Peninsula. The Lord told Moses to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. After the Lord told Moses to go back to Egypt and lead His people out of bondage, Moses asked the Lord what he should tell the people of Israel is His name. The Lord replied, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3:13-15). Yahweh was the covenant-keeping-and-blessing God. David understood he was not to seek his salvation in his own strength or might, but rather to trust the Lord because of His character and revealed attributes.

    The second prayer request was for God to vindicate David. Vindication is a judicial term. David wanted the Lord to set things right because Saul had already judged David and determined that he was a threat to Saul’s kingdom. Saul wanted his own children to continue the dynasty. Saul slandered both David’s character and his reputation.

    David asked the Lord to vindicate him and show his innocence. David had demonstrated his innocence to Saul on two occasions. The first time was at the cave at Ein Gedi. David could have killed Saul while the king was relieving himself in the cave, but he did not kill him because he understood that Saul was the Lord’s anointed. David said to let the Lord be judge between him and Saul (1 Sam. 24:11-15). David demonstrated his innocence a second time when, while being pursued by Saul, David went into Saul’s camp after the Lord had caused a deep sleep to come over everybody in the camp (1 Sam. 26:12). David took the spear and water jug that were by Saul’s head. After David left the camp and was far away, he asked Saul, “Why does my lord thus pursue his servant? For what have I done, or what evil is in my hand?” (26:18). He then mentions the “children of men” (beni ha-adam) in verse 19, the same Hebrew phrase used in Psalm 57:4 and Psalm 58:1-2 to refer to the wicked. David’s response was, “Let them be cursed.”

    Enemies rise up against David. 54:3

    “For strangers have risen up against me, and oppressors have sought after my life; they have not set God before them. Selah.”

    David used a strong word to describe his enemies. He called them strangers (zarim). This word is usually used to refer to foreign enemies, but that is not always the case. In Psalm 86:14, the word is used of the proud, arrogant, person (zedim). Because the Hebrew letter resh and dalet have similar shapes, it could lead to a copyist error. For this reason, some manuscripts have zarim and other manuscripts have zedim in verse 3. Some scholars have suggested that the word strangers as used here refers to the men of Keilah who were of Canaanite origin and were going to betray David if he stayed in their city (1 Sam. 23:1-12; Kirkpatrick 1916: 305).

    I would agree with the commentator who said: “Perhaps the intent is to use a particularly harsh term to describe fellow Israelites in order to emphasize just how far they have removed themselves from true covenant relationships” (Wilson 2002: 799).
    The oppressors were violent, ruthless men who sought David’s life (cf. 23:14, 15; 24:11). They did this out of envy, or jealousy, because they did not have God’s interest in mind. Their only concern was how they might profit or benefit from David’s death; they refused to recognize the authority of God in their lives.

    The verse ends with the Hebrew word Selah. Scholars have debated the meaning of this word, but I think it is a musical rest note meaning pause and reflect; in other words, stop and think about what was just said! The oppressors do what they do because they pursue their own interests rather than God’s.

    The psalmist’s trust in his Deliverer – the LORD my Helper. 54:4
    “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is with those who uphold my life.”

    This verse is the center of the chiasmus in this psalm. It’s the focal point, or central message, of the psalm. That message is simple: Trust the Name of the LORD. He is your Helper, and He will save and vindicate you!

    While David’s trust was in the Lord, the Lord used human instruments to “uphold his life” by supporting and protecting David. When David was in the cave of Adullam, 400 members of his family and friends who were distressed, in debt, or discontented with King Saul’s policies, joined David in the cave. By the end of David’s flight from Saul, the Lord had assembled 600 men around David for his protection (1 Sam. 22:1-2; 27:2; 30:9). David’s prayer was that the Lord would be with those who were protecting him.

    The Church today is engaged in spiritual warfare against Satan and his minions, both human and demonic (Eph. 6:10-20). We are to be fighting together against Satan and his crowd, not each other!

    Enemies are repaid by the Lord. 54:5
    “He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth.”

    King Saul had plotted evil against David (1 Sam. 23:9; cf. 24:17), yet David did not seek revenge. David knew the promise of God: “’Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Deut. 32:35; cf. Rom. 12:17-21). Stopping Saul’s evil plots was the Lord’s problem. Because David trusted the Lord to take care of his enemies, David did not have to take revenge.

    Dr. Mitchell Dahood points out that enemies (sorer) is a nuanced term for “defamers, or slanderers” (1968: 25; cf. Ps. 5:8-9; 27:2, 11-12; 54:5; 56:5; 59:1, 12). Defaming and slandering David was what Saul and those around him were doing. Saul was making false statements about David. When David had the chance to confront him from a distance at Saul’s camp, he asked: “Why does my lord thus pursue his servant? For what have I done, or what evil is in my hand?” (1 Sam. 26:18). Earlier, David had pointed out to Saul that men were saying he sought to harm Saul, but he had no desire to do so (24:9).

    David did not take matters into his own hands despite having had two opportunities to eliminate Saul: the first at Ein Gedi (1 Sam. 24) and the second in the Wilderness of Ziph (1 Sam. 26). Interestingly, sandwiched between these two accounts, David is set to eliminate Nabal, whose name means fool, but the fool’s wife, Abigail intervenes on her husband’s behalf!

    Thanksgiving for deliverance from enemies by YHWH’s name. 54:6-7
    “I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O LORD, for it is good. For He has delivered me out of all trouble; and my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.”

    The freewill offering (nedabah) is a communal offering in which God got the fatty portion of the sacrifice (don’t worry, God does not have a cholesterol problem!), the high priest got the wave offering, and the officiating priest got the heave offering (right foreleg), and the rest went to the family and friends of the one offering the sacrifice. David and his family and friends enjoyed the fellowship meal together, praising the Lord for who He is and what He had done for David. It was not a votive offering because David had not made a vow saying he would offer a votive offering if God delivered him from his adverse situation (Lev. 7:16; 22:23; cf. Ex. 25:2; 35:29; Num. 15:3; Ps. 35:18; 52:9). With the freewill offering, David just wanted to say, “Thank you, Lord I love You because your Name is good.”

    The reason David could offer this freewill offering was because he loved the Lord for what He had done in his life. The Lord had answered the two-fold prayer of David in this psalm: the first, for deliverance from the hands of King Saul, and the second, for vindication of his reputation in the eyes of Saul and the people.

    Twice while David was in the Wilderness of Ziph the Lord delivered him from the hands of King Saul. The first time was by external circumstances. The second time was by divine intervention.

    The second part of David’s prayer, “vindicate me by Your strength,” was answered as well. The strength of the Lord was seen when He caused Saul and his army to fall into a deep sleep, affording David the opportunity to take Saul’s water jug and spear. Saul finally realized that David had no evil intentions against him. In fact, as they departed for the last time Saul blessed David. “May you be blessed, my son David! You shall both do great things and also still prevail” (1 Sam. 26:25).

    David’s desire was reconciliation, even in a small way, with his father-in-law. David could now rejoice because he had been vindicated by Saul’s admission of David’s innocence and he had given David his blessing.

    Life Lessons to Be Learned
    Fortunately, unlike Brutus’ betrayal of his friend Julius Caesar, the Ziphites’ betrayal did not lead to David’s death. Yet there are some valuable lessons we can learn from David’s prayer in this psalm and the experiences he went through.

    The first lesson to be learned is that David prays in the Name of the Lord for his salvation: “Save me, O God, by Your name.” In the Hebrew Scriptures the name of God was Yahweh (or Jehovah), the self-existing, eternal God who saves. In the New Testament, salvation is found in the name of the second Person of the Triune Godhead, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    When Joseph found out his betrothed wife Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20-21). When the Apostle Peter appeared before the Sanhedrin, he stated: “Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. ‘This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12).

    The Apostle Paul describes the “mind of Christ” as being humility. The Lord Jesus had humbled Himself to the Father’s will and was obedient to death on the Cross. “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

    The second lesson to be learned is that when we are betrayed, rejected, or hounded by people, we should take our problems to our Friend, the Lord Jesus, in prayer. The hymn writer, Joseph Scriven (1855), so eloquently, yet so simply stated:

    “Have we trials and temptations?
    Is there trouble anywhere?
    We should never be discouraged;
    take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Can we find a friend so faithful
    who will all our sorrows share?
    Jesus knows our every weakness;
    take it to the Lord in prayer.

    The third lesson to be learned from this psalm is that God answers prayer and uses various means to deliver us, and we should be careful not to dictate to God how to answer our prayers. Twice while he was hiding in the Wildernesses of Ziph and Maon, David was delivered from the hand of Saul. The first time it was by external circumstances. David was surrounded and about to be captured. Then the Philistines threatened Judah, and King Saul departed to take care of that problem, sparing David. The second time David was threatened; God divinely intervened by causing a great sleep to fall upon the camp of King Saul. David was able to take Saul’s water jar and spear and demonstrate to Saul that he had no evil intentions against him. The light finally came on in Saul’s head, and he realized David had no evil intentions toward him. Thus, he blessed David and departed, never to pursue David again. Twice David was in the same life-threatening situation, yet God delivered him in two different ways.

    How does God answer prayers today? For example, if a person is sick, there are two different means God could use to heal the individual. He could use external circumstances. The sick person could go to a doctor, who makes the proper diagnosis and prescribes the proper medicine, and the person is healed. On the other hand, God could directly intervene and miraculously heal the person.

    The final lesson to be learned is that ultimately God’s righteous justice will prevail. David understood that God would repay his enemies and deal with Saul (1 Sam. 26:10). God’s justice has been demonstrated by history. King Saul and his sons were killed on Mount Gilboa by the Philistines, and the Ziphites lost their land and it became a royal estate / vineyard.

    In some churches, this psalm is sung on Good Friday when the prayer of the Lord Jesus is recalled while He was on the cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Perhaps a glimpse of this perspective can be seen in David’s relationship with his father-in-law. David recognized that Saul was God’s anointed and never took revenge on him. Instead, he prayed about the situation. What if David had taken matters into his own hands and killed Saul in the cave of Ein Gedi or the camp in the Wilderness of Ziph? David would not have experienced, even in a small way, reconciliation with his father-in-law, nor would he have gotten his blessing!

    Even though David was betrayed by his own tribesmen and pursued by his father-in-law King Saul, his trust was in the Name of the Lord; the One who is “a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” God delivered him from this adverse situation, and David offered a freewill offering to the Lord out of love for Him.

    Works Consulted

    Aharoni, Yohanan; Avi-Yonah, Michael; Rainey, Anson; and Safrai, Ze’ev
    2002    The Carta Bible Atlas. Jerusalem: Carta [abbreviated as CBA].

    Albright, William Foxwell
    1924    Researches of the School in Western Judaea. Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research 15: 2-11.

    Cohen, A.
    1974    The Psalms. London: Soncino. 11th Impression.

    Dahood, Mitchell
    1968    The Anchor Bible. Psalms II 51-100. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

    Delitzsch, F.
    1973    Commentary on the Old Testament. Psalms. Vol. 5. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

    Goldingay, John
    2007   Psalms. Vol. 2 (Psalms 42-89). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

    Har-el, Menashe
    2003    Landscape, Nature, and Man in the Bible. Jerusalem: Carta.

    Hareuveni, Nogah
    1991    Desert and Shepherd in Our Biblical Heritage. Lod: Neot Kedumim.

    Kidner, Derek
    1973    Psalms 1-72. An Introduction and Commentary on Books 1and 2 of the Psalms. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity.

    Kirkpatrick, A. F.
    1916    The Book of Psalms. Cambridge: At the University.

    Kissane, Edward
    1953    The Book of Psalms. Vol. 1. Dublin: Browne and Nolan.

    Kochavi, Moshe
    1972   Judaea, Samaria and the Golan Archaeological Survey 1967-1968. Jerusalem: The Archaeological Survey of Israel and Carta.

    Lance, H. Darrell
    1992    Ziph. P. 1104 in Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 6. Edited by D. N. Freedman. New York, NY: Doubleday.

    Perowne, J. J. Stewart
    1976    The Book of Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

    Rahmani, Levi
    1972    A Bilingual Ossuary-Inscription from Khirbet Zif. Israel Exploration Journal 22/2-3: 113-116.

    Rainey, Anson
    1982    Wine from the Royal Vineyard. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 245: 57-62.

    Rasmussen, Carl
    1989    Zondervan NIV Atlas of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

    Tate, Marvin
    1990    Word Biblical Commentary. Psalms 51-100. Vol. 20. Dallas, TX: Word.

    Van Gemeren, Willem
    1991    Psalms. Pp. 3-880 in Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 5. Edited by F. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

    Wilson, Gerald
    2002    The NIV Application Commentary. Psalms. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

  • Studies in the Book of Psalms Comments Off on PSALM 73: The Goodness of God

    by Gordon Franz

    One theologian described the attribute of the goodness of God this way: “This attribute, if contemplated as that which is within God, is akin to His holiness; if contemplated as that which proceeds from God from God is akin to love.  The infinite goodness of God is a perfection of His being which characterizes His nature and is itself the source of all in the universe that is good” (Chafer 1947: I: 206).

    Throughout the ages, the people of God have asked the questions, “Why do the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper?” “Is this consistent with the doctrine of the goodness of God?” and “Is it worth living a righteous life in an unrighteous world?”  Psalm 73 examines these difficult questions in light of the goodness of God.

    The psalm shows it is both possible and necessary to walk righteously in an unrighteous world.
    Psalm 73 is one of twelve psalms attributed to Asaph (Psalms 50, 73-83).  He was a contemporary of King David (cf. Psalm 77 with Psalm 39; Nehemiah 12:46) and was in charge of the music when the Ark of the Covenant was brought up to Jerusalem (I Chron. 15:17-24).  Later, he was the chief choir director for the sanctuary (I Chron. 16:4).  During the reign of King Hezekiah, some of the songs of Asaph, the seer, were sung (II Chron. 29:30).  This indicates that Asaph’s message had a prophetic content (I Sam. 9:9).

    Literary Structure and Outline
    This psalm is divided into five sections.  It begins with the questions raised to the Lord because of the seeming prosperity of the wicked (73:1-3).  The middle section reveals the ultimate end of the wicked (73:16, 17).  It concludes with a positive response to the Lord (73:28).

    The psalmist understands the doctrinal truth of the goodness of God, but reality makes him doubt this truth.  73:1-3
    Asaph begins this psalm with a correct theological statement: “Truly God is good to Israel, to such as be pure in heart.”  He had merely to reflect on the history of the nation to see that this was true.  The Lord, in spite of Israel’s unfaithfulness, redeemed Israel out of Egypt and brought them through the Wilderness into the Promised Land (Ezek. 20:5-22).  God is faithful to His covenants and good to His people.

    To make this more personal, Asaph adds, “to such as be pure in heart.”  This purity of heart is not gained by one’s own merits (Isa. 64:6), but it is given as a gift to those who receive the Lord Jesus as Savior (Eph. 2:1-9; Phil. 3:9).  God’s goodness gives His righteousness, whereby people may have the forgiveness and sins and the free gift of eternal life.

    Turning inward and seeing his personal circumstances, Asaph makes an incorrect theological statement.  He believed that “righteousness equals prosperity.”  This is a human perspective.  One needs simply to look at the life of Job.  He was righteous, yet he lost all his prosperity.  In contrast, Manasseh, king of Judah, was very wicked, yet prospered and had a long life (II Chron. 33).  From God’s perspective, He allowed the king to have a long life because He wanted Manasseh to return to Himself (II Pet. 3:9), and he eventually did (II Chron. 33:11-16).

    Christians are only promised persecution for living godly lives and for the gospel’s sake (II Tim. 3:12), yet they have an Example and pattern to follow, the Lord Jesus Christ and His life (I Pet. 2:13-20; 4:12-19).  The Apostle Paul writes in the book of Romans that “we know that all things work together for good” (8:28).  All things, humanly speaking, may not seem good, but from a divine perspective, all things do work together for good.

    The wicked seemingly flaunt the goodness of God and live as they please.  73:4-12
    The seeming prosperity of the wicked is manifested in rebellion, first on a human level (73:4-9) and then on a divine level (73:10-12).  Humanly speaking, unrighteous people show no outward signs of pain or punishment for their evil doings (73:4-5).  Inwardly, their sins are manifested in pride (73:6; cf. Prov. 6:16), violence (73:6), covetousness and greed (73:7), the covering up of their oppression (73:8), as well as blasphemy (73:9).  On the divine level, the wicked question the existence of God and ignore Him completely (73:10-12).

    The psalmist understands the doctrinal truth of the goodness of God in light of His holiness and justice.  73:13-17
    The psalmist takes stock of his spiritual life and looks at it from a temporal perspective.  He had cleansed his heart, yet it seemed a waste (73:13).  Why should he go on living for the Lord when he is being chastened (73:14)?  What he failed to recognize was that chastening is a sign of sonship, and that the Lord loves him (Prov. 3:11, 12; Heb. 12:3-11).  Finally, the psalmist acquires the eternal perspective on life (73:15-17).  When he went into the sanctuary of God he saw life from God’s perspective (73:17).  There was the Ark of the Covenant with the mercy seat above it.  This spoke to him of the redemption which God has accomplished for His people and His love for them.  Inside the Ark lay the tablets with the moral law of God engraved upon them.  It struck him that God was sovereign and holy, and in His time, He would set things in order and judge the wicked.  In the future, it will be the Lord Jesus Christ, at the Great White Throne Judgment, who will judge all those who have rejected Him as their Savior (John 5:22; Rev. 20:11-14).  When Asaph saw and understood this, his theology was clarified and he could rest on the promises of God.

    The LORD demonstrates His goodness by being righteous and judging the wicked.  73:18-20, cf. II Pet. 3:9
    Upon realizing that the Lord was a holy, righteous and moral God, Asaph knew what the response of the Lord would be, first toward the unrighteous (73:18-20) and then toward the righteous (73:21-26).

    In the case of the unrighteous, the proverb will hold true, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18).  Judgment is sure to come (Heb. 9:27).  From the perspective of a person who has not accepted the Lord Jesus and His salvation, this life on earth is the closest to heaven that the unrighteous will get.  After the judgment, they will be confined to the Lake of Fire forever (Matt. 25:41, 46; Rev. 20:15).

    The psalmist understands experientially, the doctrinal truth of the goodness of God and it leads him to repentance.  73:21-28
    The psalmist saw the response that the Lord will have toward the righteous (73:21-25).  In so doing, he confesses his shortsightedness concerning the plan of God (73:21, 22).  After this he put his confidence in God because he knew the Lord will sustain him (73:23; cf. John 10:28, 29), guide him (73:24), complete his salvation (73:24), and strengthen him (73:26).  He realized that it is only the Lord who can meet all his needs (73:25).

    The psalmist’s theology is now in proper perspective so he can respond correctly to the question, “Why should I walk righteously in an unrighteous world?”  First, he realizes that the wicked will not always prosper (73:27; cf. 73:3).  Second, he is to draw near to the Lord so that his feet will not slip (73:28a; cf. 73:2).  Finally, he is to trust in the Lord so that he can declare His works (73:28b; cf. 73:1).  Now he can say from experience, “Truly God is good to Israel and to such as be pure in heart.”  He should know.  He’s seen the goodness, love, holiness and justice of the Lord.  His right theology should lead him to righteous living, even in an evil world.


    Chafer, Lewis Sperry
    1947    Systematic Theology. Vol. 1.  Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press.

  • Life of King David, Studies in the Book of Psalms Comments Off on PSALM 63: Longing to Worship the LORD while in the Wilderness

    by Gordon Franz


    Let’s be honest, we do not live in a perfect world, nor is our homeland Paradise. There is a Millennial Kingdom coming when King Jesus will rule from Jerusalem with justice and righteousness, but that day is still in the future. We live in the nasty, here and now where Murphy’s Law is the norm. “If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong!” This world we live in is far from perfect. It is a world where injustice is the norm and unrighteousness prevails.

    King David was in a very inhospitable environment with disastrous circumstances beyond his control when he composed Psalm 63. His son, Prince Absalom, instigated a revolt against him. King David fled eastward from Jerusalem through the Judean Desert, most likely at the end of the summer (cf. 2 Sam. 16:1). David escaped to the Levitical city of Mahanaim, in the friendlier region of Gilead on the other side of the Jordan River (2 Sam. 17:24; CBA 109).

    As we examine this psalm, we will see David’s desire to worship the Lord even though he had been cut off from access to the sanctuary in Jerusalem. He uses three metaphors from his own personal experience to convey this desire and how God might bring it to pass: (a) thirsting for the Lord in the wilderness, (b) satisfaction after a gourmet banquet in the sanctuary, and (c) following the Lord as his Shepherd and trusting in His protection so he can return to the sanctuary and worship the Lord.

    Historical and Geographical Setting
    This psalm’s superscription reads: “A psalm of David when he was in the Wilderness of Judah.” The Wilderness of Judah (Midbar Yehuda) is a specific geographical location within the tribal territory of Judah (Josh. 15:21, 33, 48, 61). It is situated to the east of the cultivated farmland of the Hill Country of Judah and slopes down to the Dead Sea with a vertical drop right before the sea. Its northern limit was the Hill Country of Ephraim, delineated by the present-day Wadi Auja to the north of Jericho, and it extended south about 96 kilometers (60 miles) to the Biblical Negev. The words wilderness and desert are used interchangeably in different translations of the Bible for the Hebrew word midbar. The same will be done In this paper.

    The Wilderness of Judah is easily distinguished on a geological map because it is composed of Senonian soft chalk. The chalk formation is not conducive to agriculture, but grass and flowers do grow there during the rainy season, thus providing food for pasturage.

    The prophet Isaiah describes the wilderness (of Judah) in his comfort passage (40:3-9). The Voice, John the Baptizer (cf. Mark 1:3, 4), was crying out: “All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath [ruach = hamsin winds] of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isa. 40:6-8; all quotations from Scripture are from the NKJV). Isaiah is describing the phenomenon of the hot, dry hamsin winds that blow from the Arabian Desert soon after Passover in the spring. This east wind kills all the grass and flowers very quickly. David had used a similar word picture in Psalm 103:15-17.

    Bethlehem, the hometown of David, was in the transitional zone between the agricultural land of the Hill Country of Judah and the pastures of the Wilderness of Judah. As its name, literally House of Bread, implies, there was plenty of fertile soil around Bethlehem in which to grow wheat and barley (cf. Ruth 2), and yet just to the east was the place for shepherding.

    There are three periods in David’s life when he was in the Judean Desert. For each period in the wilderness, there were important lessons for David to learn.

    For young David, the Wilderness of Judah was a place of growing and learning. While tending his family’s flock, he honed his hunting skills by killing a lion and a bear (1 Sam. 17:34-37). There was plenty of time to practice using his slingshot. His preparation paid off when he went big-game hunting in the Elah Valley and bagged the giant, Goliath. There was plenty of time to fine-tune his musical talent as well. The Lord used David’s skillful harp playing to calm the distressing spirit that possessed King Saul (1 Sam. 16:14-23). The Lord would also use David’s musical abilities to bless and instruct the souls of men and women throughout the ages as they sang his psalms, some of which were composed in the Judean Desert.

    The wilderness also afforded David solitude and quiet times to contemplate the Lord, His ways, and His attributes. At night, while tending his flock, he saw the majestic starlit sky and sang, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).

    While in the wilderness, David also learned some lessons in shepherding that would be helpful when God called David to shepherd His people Israel (2 Sam. 7:8). Yet David realized it was the Lord who was his Shepherd and He was the One who provided for David, guided, protected, and comforted him until he dwelt in the House of the Lord forever (Ps. 23). The prophet Ezekiel tells us that, in the future, a resurrected David will be the shepherd over a united Israel (34:22-25; cf. Jer. 30:9).

    The second time David spent time in the Judean Desert was during his flight from Saul (1 Sam. 19:18-27:6; CBA 92).

    The final time David was in the Judean Desert was when he fled from his son Absalom (2 Sam. 15-19). The internal evidence of Psalm 63 suggests that the historical setting for this psalm was during this flight. The psalm was composed after David had become king (63:11) and after he had seen the Ark of Covenant (63:2).

    Literary Structure
    There is no consensus among Bible teachers as to the literary structure of this psalm. For the purpose of this exposition, one phrase (actually one word in Hebrew) that repeats itself three times in this psalm will be used as the touchstone for each stanza. That phrase is “my soul” (63:1, 5, 8). The word God (Hebrew El) is found only in verses 1a and 11 and it forms an inclusio (bracket) for this psalm.

    The psalm begins with a superscription that is part of the inspired psalm and states where this psalm was composed. Unfortunately, it does not tell us the circumstance (the when), but the time frame can be discerned by examining the internal context of the psalm.

    The psalmist longs to worship the Lord in the sanctuary in Jerusalem, but he cannot, because he is in the Wilderness of Judah fleeing from those seeking to kill him. His confidence is in the steadfast, covenant love (hesed) of God, because it is better than life itself. The psalmist trusts the Lord to protect him from his enemies so that he will again be able to rejoice and praise the Lord in the sanctuary.


    David’s Declaration of Faith and His Purpose in Life. 63:1a
    David begins this psalm with a declaration of faith:

    O God, You are my God;
    Early will I seek You.

    David declares his faith in the Lord as his personal God. For David, God was not an idol of gold, silver, wood, or stone. He was the living God who acted in history and was intimately involved in David’s life. David had a personal relationship with the Lord. Today, a person can have the same personal relationship with the Lord through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Our personal relationship with the living God begins by realizing that we are sinners because we have offended a holy God. Our sin separates us from God. Yet God reached down to His creatures by sending His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to earth to live a perfect life, not sinning once, and then dying on the cross outside the walls of Jerusalem in order to be the Perfect Sacrifice to pay for all our sins. The Lord Jesus did the hard part to reconcile us to God – He died. But three days later, He was bodily resurrected from the dead to demonstrate that all sin had been paid for, Satan had been defeated, and death had been conquered. Now He offers each of us salvation as a free gift, which one can receive by simply putting one’s faith in the Lord Jesus and trusting Him alone for salvation. When a person puts his or her trust in Christ alone, he or she is born into God’s family and becomes a child of God (John 1:12).

    In this verse we also see David’s purpose and priority in life. He states: “Early will I seek You.” His purpose in life was to seek the Lord and His face. This he could do in the tent sanctuary that rested near his palace in Jerusalem. His priority was to do this early, apparently early in the morning. This passage seems to suggest that the first thing he did in the morning was to leave his palace and visit with the Lord in the tent sanctuary. This pattern can also be seen in the life of the Lord Jesus. He would rise up early in the morning for prayer (Mark 1:35).

    David’s Soul Is Thirsting for God in the Wilderness. 63:1b-4
    In the first stanza, David sings:

    My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You
    In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.
    So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
    To see Your power and Your glory.
    Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
    My lips shall praise You.
    Thus I will bless You while I live;
    I will lift up my hands in Your name.

    David uses hyperbolic language to describe his longing for the presence of the Lord in His sanctuary. The Judean Desert is depicted as a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. David, when he was a shepherd in the Judean Desert, knew where all the springs and waterholes were. In the summertime, even when it is extremely dry, there is water in the desert. It may be scarce, but there is water nonetheless. Yet this language expresses the fact that David is totally cut off from the Lord and His sanctuary in Jerusalem. The people with David, however, were hungry, weary, and thirsty when they got to Mahanaim (2 Sam. 17:29).

    In the rainy months (October to April), the Judean Desert gets between 100 millimeters and 350 millimeters (4-14 inches) of water. Most of the rain falls in the Hill Country; rainfall tapers off to about 100 millimeters near the Dead Sea (Rasmussen 1989: 42). There are five sources of water in the wilderness. Three of the sources are natural: rainwater, springs, and waterholes that collect run-off water. The other two sources are man-made: wells and cisterns dug by the inhabitants of the area (Hareuveni 1991:57-66).

    I have the utmost respect for the sun and dry heat in the Judean Desert in the summer. The air is so dry that your perspiration evaporates almost instantaneously, which means that one may be unaware that he is dehydrating. Therefore, it is very dangerous to be in the Wilderness of Judah without adequate water.

    The first summer I was in Israel, I experienced what David describes. Several fellow students and I walked the approximate 14 kilometers (8 ½ miles) down the Wadi Qelt from Ma’aleh Adumim to Jericho on Shabbat (the Sabbath). Each of us had brought one canteen of water. In the blazing summer heat, it was not enough. By the time we got to the oasis of Jericho, each of us had a headache and was very thirsty. I’ll tell you, freshly squeezed orange juice never tasted so good!

    Later, when I was a field-trip instructor in Israel, I always encouraged my students to drink plenty of water. I informed them that I knew where all the toilets were in Israel and would be glad to stop if they ever needed to use them. I would quip, “It is easier to stop for toilets than it is to take you to the hospital because of dehydration!” Water is essential for survival in the Judean desert. Now, when I hike in Israel during the summer months, I leave early in the morning, wear a hat, and take two or three one-and-a-half-liter bottles of water with me.

    In the second verse, David reminisces about the power and glory of God in the sanctuary. Early in his reign, after he had conquered Jerusalem, David brought the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem from Kiryat Jearim (2 Sam. 6:12-23) and placed it in a tent dwelling (2 Sam. 7:2, 6). He had the desire to build a house for the Lord, but was not allowed to build it because he was a man of war and had blood on his hands (1 Chron. 22:8; 28:3). Yet God made a covenant with David that stated that his son would build a house for the Lord and that one of his sons would sit upon the throne of David forever and ever (2 Sam. 7:12-16). After this unconditional covenant was made, David went into the tent and sat before the Lord and prayed (2 Sam. 7:18-29). More than likely, David saw the Ark of the Covenant, God’s strength and glory, on this occasion (cf. Ps. 78:60-61; 96:6; 132:8).

    When David fled from Absalom, the Levites brought the Ark of the Covenant out of Jerusalem. David insisted that they take it back. He said to Zadok: “Carry the Ark of God back into the city. If I find favor (chen) in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place. But if He says thus: ‘I have no delight (hephzati) in you,’ here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him” (2 Sam. 15:25-26).

    David resigned his fate to the Lord but was fully confident in His sovereignty and lovingkindness. In verse three, David declares that the LORD’s “lovingkindness is better than life.” The Hebrew word for lovingkindness is hesed and it has a powerful word picture associated with it. Like a stork (hesedu) that lovingly watches over and guards its young so the Lord is lovingly loyal to the covenants that He made with His people Israel. He is faithful to His people, even when they are not faithful to Him. He watches over His people, provides for them, and protects them because He made unconditional covenants with Abraham and David. Because he understood this important attribute of God, David said that, even with parched lips, he would praise the Lord. He blessed the Lord by lifting up his hands and would do this for the rest of his life (63:4; cf. Ps. 104:33; 146:2; 1 Tim. 2:8)

    David’s Soul Is Satisfied in the Lord as after a Gourmet Banquet. 63:5-7
    In the second stanza, David sings:

    My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
    And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
    When I remember You on my bed,
    I meditate on You in the night watches.
    Because You have been my help,
    Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.

    Although David was thirsty because of the dryness of the wilderness, he was satisfied and content because his confidence was in the Lord and His promises. As the king lay awake that night contemplating the lovingkindness of the Lord, he was reminded of the sacrifices that were offered in the sanctuary. He said he was satisfied as with “marrow and fatness,” in other words, the best and richest food. David could be contemplating a banquet in his palace, but it is more likely that he was thinking about the sacrifices in the sanctuary. The “fatness” (chlev) was the result of the pleasant Bar-B-Q aroma of burning animal fat on the altar. The Mosaic Law prohibited people from eating any fat (Lev. 7:23-25) because all the fat was for the Lord (Lev. 3:16). Don’t worry; God does not have a problem with cholesterol! We do. David’s palace was not that far away from the sanctuary, and, if the wind were blowing just right, he could smell the sweet-smelling aroma of burning fat.

    As David lay awake that night in the Plains of the Wilderness (2 Sam. 17:16) near Jericho, he was trying to sort out the day’s events. He was thankful to the Lord for His help in getting his family and followers out of Jerusalem before Absalom’s army was able to approach the city and do any harm to it. He remembered the goodness of God and meditated on the Lord Himself.

    The word meditate is the same word used in Psalm 1:2: “But his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law he meditates day and night.” It is in the Torah (Genesis to Deuteronomy) that the Lord and His ways are revealed. The word meditate is a pastoral word that David gleaned from observing his sheep. Sheep have four stomachs. The sheep would eat the grass and flowers in the fields, and the foliage would go down into one stomach. Later, while the sheep was resting in the shade, it would regurgitate, which is the same word that is translated meditate, the foliage, chew it over again, and send it back down to another stomach.

    I am sure David had large portions of the Torah memorized so that at night he could bring to mind those passages that spoke of the Lord and apply them to his present situation. God is an avenging God. “’Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19; cf. Deut. 32:35). When David heard that Ahithophel was conspiring with Absalom, David prayed: “O Lord, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness” (2 Sam. 15:31).

    David rejoices in the shadow of God’s wings. Some commentators have suggested the wings were a reference to the cherubim above the mercy seat in the sanctuary. Moses used a similar word picture in Psalm 91:4: “He [the Almighty] shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge.” David uses this word picture in other psalms (Ps. 17:8; 36:7; 57:1). I think David’s word picture came from nature. Perhaps that evening David had seen a partridge in the wilderness gathering her young under her wings when she felt threatened by the people with David, or, in the heat of the afternoon, the young might have sought shade under their mother’s wings.

    The Lord Jesus uses a similar illustration in His Olivet Discourse. He said: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who were sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matt. 23:37).

    Twice in this stanza David praises the Lord with rejoicing in spite of his terrible circumstances. The Lord Jesus might have had this psalm and David’s circumstances in mind when He instructed his disciples: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12). David was a prophet (Acts 2:30). This was the same lesson that James the son of Zebedee recounted in the opening verses of his epistle: “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (1:2).

    David, as he fled over the back side of the Mount of Olives, was cursed by Shimei at Bahurim (2 Sam. 16:5-14). David’s servants wanted to behead Shimei, but David forbad them. He said: “Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the LORD has ordered him. It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day” (16:11-12). When the revolt was over, Shimei sought forgiveness from King David and it was granted to him (2 Sam. 19:16-23). On his deathbed, however, David instructed his son Solomon to kill Shimei (1 Kings 2:8-9). Solomon eventually carried out this instruction when Shimei reneged on an oath he had made to the Lord at Solomon’s request (1 Kings 2:36-46).

    David’s Soul Follows His Shepherd as a Defenseless Lamb. 63:8-10
    In the third stanza, David sings:

    My soul follows close behind You;
    Your right hand upholds me.
    But those who seek my life, to destroy it,
    Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
    They shall fall by the sword;
    They shall be a portion for jackals.

    David turns to his younger days for the word picture of a defenseless lamb following close by its shepherd for protection. The right hand of God is always the hand of power and protection. David was advised by his commanders to stay within the walls of Mahanaim while they went out to fight Absalom’s army. The revolt ended with the slaughter of twenty thousand Israelites in the woods of Ephraim and the death of Absalom at the hands of Joab (2 Sam. 18:1-18, 28). The dead went into the “lower parts of the earth,” another description of Sheol, the place of the departed spirits (cf. Luke 16:19-31; Hades is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol).

    The bodies of the dead were eaten by scavengers. The Hebrew word shaliem is translated foxes or jackals. In the context, jackals makes more sense because jackals are the vacuum cleaners, or scavengers, of the desert. On a number of occasions as he wandered in the Judean Desert, David would have seen dead animals. Later, when he walked past the same place, the animal carcass would be gone. Jackals had been there and cleaned up the mess, bones and all. The only thing to be seen was the jackal poop! David is saying that his enemies would not be afforded a proper burial with their families, as was the Israelite custom and practice.

    Absalom’s body, however, was placed in a pit in the forest of Ephraim and covered with a huge pile of rocks (2 Sam. 18:17). This was to keep the jackals away, but it also symbolized the death of a rebellious son who should have been stoned to death (Deut. 21:18-21).

    David’s Declaration of Praise because His Critics Are Silenced. 63:11
    David concludes this psalm by singing:

    But the king shall rejoice in God;
    Everyone who swears by Him shall glory;
    But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

    David speaks of himself in the third person as “the king.” His victory, however, was bittersweet. The revolt had been suppressed, but his son was dead. On a personal level, David mourned the death of his son (2 Sam. 18:33-19:7), yet he says in this psalm that, because the revolt was over, the king rejoiced.

    David and his followers had sworn an oath to the Lord and were victorious because they feared Him (Deut. 6:13; 10:20). But those who had not sworn by the Lord were speechless (Ps. 38:12; 41:5-8). This is a euphemistic way of saying they died. Ahithophel hung himself and Absalom was killed by Joab and his men (2 Sam. 17:23; 18:14-15).

    Singing Psalm 63
    The songwriter David Strasser adapted the first part of this psalm in his composition of the lyrics for the song “Step by Step.”

    O God, You are my God
    And I will ever praise You!
    O God, You are my God
    And I will ever praise You!

    I will seek You in the morning,
    And I will learn to walk in Your ways.
    And step by step You’ll lead me,
    And I will follow You all of my days.

    Lessons from the Psalm for Our Daily Life
    There are several lessons that we can learn from this psalm that should encourage us in our daily walk with the Lord.

    The first lesson is set forth by the eloquent late fourth century AD preacher, John Chrysostom (“golden-mouthed”) of Antioch-on-the-Orontes, when he commented: “That it was decreed and ordained by the Primitive Fathers that no day should pass without the public singing of this psalm.” Based on the phrase, “early will I seek you” (63:1), this psalm was sung on a daily basis during the morning liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox churches. Without being legalistic or ritualistic, perhaps this practice of singing, or reading this psalm, at the beginning of our daily quiet time would sharpen our focus on the Lord in spite of any adverse circumstances in which we might find ourselves. Also, David and the Lord Jesus set apart the early morning hours for prayer and communion with the Father. We should follow their example and set apart a portion of our day for Bible reading and prayer.

    The second lesson we can learn from this psalm is that David resigned his fate to a sovereign God who was in control of the affairs of history. He was content with whatever the Lord had in store for his future; whether he lived or died he would be content because the lovingkindness of the Lord was better than life. He knew that if he died, he would be with the Lord forever. The Apostle Paul had the same attitude. When he wrote to the Philippian believers, he said: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21; cf. Acts 20:24).

    The third lesson we can learn from this psalm is that David rejoiced in the Lord in spite of his terrible circumstances. This he could do because he remembered the Lord and meditated on Him and His ways. Our contentment and joy is based on Christ’s unfailing lovingkindness and mercy toward us and is not based on our circumstances. The Lord Jesus is always faithful to us and can be trusted to get us through our difficult circumstances. Thus, we can live joyfully and triumphantly in the midst of unpleasant circumstances. We are reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus when He said to “rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:12). Similarly, James tells us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2).

    The fourth lesson to be learned is that God will eventually vindicate His children and set things in order. David was confident that those who sought his life would have a reversal of fortune and God would judge them. This lesson is probably the most difficult to learn because we have no control over our future. We see Christians being martyred for the cause of Christ, and God does not seem to act on their behalf. Ultimately, God will set things in order, if not in this life, then He will do so in the future. For those who are martyred, there is the crown of life (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10).

    The final and probably most important lesson for the believer in the Lord Jesus who is walking close to the Lord is that there is no spiritual refreshment to be gained from watching most of the popular television shows or movies, listening to contemporary secular music, or even reading the latest fiction book if it is devoid of spiritual content and Biblical truth. Refreshment and satisfaction for the soul are found only in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in the Word of God. It is only when we are content and refreshed that we can come together corporately to truly worship and sing praises to the Lord Jesus Christ. Our sole focus must be on Him.

    Works Consulted

    Aharoni, Yohanan; Avi-Yonah, Michael; Rainey, Anson; and Safrai, Ze’ev
    2002    The Carta Bible Atlas. Jerusalem: Carta [abbreviated as CBA].

    Cerosko, Anthony
    1980    A Note on Psalm 63: A Psalm of Vigil. Zeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 92: 435-436.

    Cohen, A.
    1974    The Psalms. London: Soncino. 11th Impression.

    Delitzsch, F.
    1973    Commentary on the Old Testament. Psalms. Vol. 5. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

    Har-el, Menashe
    2003    Landscape, Nature, and Man in the Bible. Jerusalem: Carta.

    Hareuveni, Nogah
    1991    Desert and Shepherd in Our Biblical Heritage. Lod: Neot Kedumim.

    Kidner, Derek
    1973    Psalm 1-72. An Introduction and Commentary on Books 1and 2 of the Psalms. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity.

    Kissane, Edward
    1953   The Book of Psalms. Vol. 1. Dublin: Browne and Nolan.

    Perowne, J. J. Stewart
    1976    The Book of Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

    Rasmussen, Carl
    1989    Zondervan NIV Atlas of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

    Tate, Marvin
    1990    Word Biblical Commentary. Psalms 51-100. Vol. 20. Dallas, TX: Word.

    Van Gemeren, Willem
    1991    Psalms. Pp. 3-880 in Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 5. Edited by F. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

  • Studies in the Book of Psalms Comments Off on WHAT IS WORSHIP?

    by Fredrick Tatford

    If an illustration were required of the truth of Isaiah 55:8, no more striking one could be found than the 4th chapter of John. In the heat of the noontide sun, the Lord Jesus Christ sat upon Jacob’s well discussing – not with learned doctors of the law but – with a poor Samaritan harlot the great truth of worship. In a single sentence He swept away the old system altogether, and foretold the imminence of a day when worship should be no longer local but universal, the true worshippers should “worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” Moreover, He added the amazing statement that “the Father seeketh such to worship Him.”

    It may well seem astonishing that the omnipotent God should desire anything from us, but the tremendous fact remains that He does long for the worship of His redeemed. The question naturally arises, do we give to Him that portion for which our Lord intimated He so much longed?

    What is worship? Often the term is represented almost as a synonym of praise, but praise is rather the lauding of God for His works or deeds. We do well to come before Him with praise, but that is not the whole of worship. Possibly thanksgiving may be suggested as an equivalent, but obviously thanksgiving is merely the expression of gratitude for some gift or favor. Again, worship is not prayer, for in prayer the soul does not give, but is engaged in supplicating or petitioning God for something.

    What then is worship? Surely it is that complete occupation with our blessed Lord in which self and surroundings are lost to view, when the soul pours itself out in adoration and whole-hearted devotion. Worship rises above the joy of sins forgiven and of gratitude for blessings and mercies, and centers the thoughts and affections upon a Person—not upon blessings but upon the Blesser. It is as we are lost in contemplation of our adorable Lord, occupied with His intrinsic worth, His glories, attributes and virtues, His untold excellencies, His surpassing beauty, that our souls are ravished and our hearts are bowed at His feet in adoration and worship.

  • Studies in the Book of Psalms Comments Off on PSALM 145: “Worship 101” as Taught by King David

    by Gordon Franz

    If King David were teaching a class on “Worship 101” today, he might begin the first lecture by saying: “Please unroll your third Psalm scroll toward the end, to the 145th psalm, and let’s see what lessons we can learn about worship from this psalm.” Perhaps he brought out his harp and sang the psalm through once while everybody was unrolling their scrolls! [One psalm scroll that was found at Qumran measured nearly 4 meters in length and that only had 48 psalms written on it (Sanders 1965:3)].

    In this psalm, King David sees his God as the King of a glorious kingdom that will last forever and ever. He contemplates the Lord as King, His mighty acts and His attributes, so he can bless and praise the name of the LORD until “Thy Kingdom come.”

    Title of the Psalm
    The Hebrew superscription of this psalm reads: “Tehillah la-David” and is translated “Praise of David.” This is the only psalm that uses the word tehillah/praise in the superscription. The name for the Psalter, or book of Psalms, is derived from this superscription and is called Tehillim In Hebrew.

    Literary Structure
    This is a beautifully arranged acrostic psalm. Each bicola verse (two lines in each verse) begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The first word of the first verse begins with “aleph”; the first word of the second verse begins with “bet”; the third, “gimel”; the fourth, “dalet”; and so forth, with the noticeable exception of the 14th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, “nun.” There is no verse beginning with this letter, it is missing! [If you have an NIV paraphrase, a verse 13b is added that begins with “nun” that was included in several psalm scrolls (11QP3) that were discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls. More than likely David deliberately did not include a verse with “nun” for his purposes, one that may be unknown to us today].

    This psalm is divided into four stanzas with two components in each stanza. Each stanza begins with a call for the people to praise the Lord and then gives the reason to do such, the cause for praise. The exception is the last stanza which reverses the two components. The reason for this is that verse 21 is part of an “inclusio” with verses 1 and 2 that frames the psalm. The psalm opens and closes with the same thought. Notice the four elements in each thought: The psalmist will (1) bless and (2) praise the (3) name of the Lord (4) forever and ever.

    The LORD is Great. 145:1-3
    David might continue his lecture by saying: “What we are doing everyday, and especially on the Lord’s Day, is just practice, or a dress rehearsal, for what we will be doing throughout eternity.”
    He sang:

    I will extol You, my God, O King;
    And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
    Every day I will bless You,
    And I will praise Your name forever and ever.

    Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
    And His greatness us unsearchable.

    King David did not compartmentalize his life into the secular and the sacred. He brought the spiritual aspect of his life into his everyday living experience. In the first two verses of this psalm, he instructs every believer to extol (to lift up), bless, and praise the name of the Lord everyday, for the rest of our life, and then on into eternity (145:1, 2). The Apostle John gives us a glimpse of how our daily practice of worship, and our weekly dress rehearsal of corporate worship, here on earth will pay off in eternity when he describes the scene around the throne of God and we will say with the myriads of angels: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12).

    In my first year of college, I had an English teacher who was proud to proclaim he was an atheist, and he wanted everybody to know it. During one class, he tried to make the case for the absurdity of Christianity. He said, “Imagine yourself in heaven for all eternity and you are singing praises to God for a thousand years. You think to yourself, ‘I have to do this for all eternity? I will get bored in Heaven.’ It is absurd to think that we will live for all eternity. We will get bored!” I thought to myself, “What are the alternatives? I’d rather be bored in heaven, than burning in Hell for all eternity with no way out!!!”

    Rabbi Eleazar ben Abina said: “Whoever recites [the psalm] Praise of David [Tehillah of David, Psalm 145] three times daily, is sure to inherit the world to come” (BT Berakoth 4b). I would not agree with the rabbi’s theology because one inherits the world to come by putting ones trust in the Messiah, the Lord Jesus as ones Savior from sin; there are, however, some advantages to the practice of reciting this psalm thrice daily. If a believer in the Lord Jesus did read this psalm thrice daily they would first of all have the psalm memorized fairly quickly. David also provided a memory device in Hebrew: aleph, beth, gimel, dalet, and so forth. Secondly, they would come to a deeper appreciation of God’s attributes: His greatness, His graciousness, and His goodness. And finally, their daily application of this verse; blessing and praising the Lord; would prepare them well for what they will contribute and experience in eternity.

    The first reason David gives for praising and blessing the Lord is because God is great (145:3). “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.” God’s greatness is beyond human comprehension because we are finite human beings trying to grasp the greatness of One who is infinitely greater than all of us. Thus, King David extols, blesses and praises his God the King.

    The LORD is Great because of His Mighty Acts and His Attributes. 145:4-9

    In the second stanza, King David tells us the reason why the Lord is great. It is because of His works and His mighty acts. The two mighty acts that David probably had in mind were the creation of the universe, the earth and all that is in it; and also the redemption of Israel from the House of Bondage in Egypt.

    David continued:

    One generation shall praise Your works to another,
    And shall declare Your mighty acts.
    I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
    And on Your wondrous works.
    Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
    And I will declare Your greatness.
    They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,
    And shall sing of Your righteousness.

    The LORD is gracious and full of compassion,
    Slow to anger and great in mercy.
    The LORD is good to all,
    And His tender mercies are over all His works.

    Our Jewish friends still practice verse 4 every year when the family gathers together for the Passover Seder. The youngest son asks the father four questions as to why this night is different than all other nights for them. The father responds by recounting the mighty acts of God concerning their redemption from Egypt: the ten plagues, the Passover Lamb, the unleavened bread, the departure in haste, the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, the Lord’s provision of the manna and water in the Wilderness of Sinai, and the awesomeness of God’s manifestation on Mount Sinai.

    The Children of Israel did not deserve this redemption because they were worshiping the gods and goddesses of Egypt (Ezek. 16:26; 20:7-9). But God redeemed them out of Egypt by His grace and mercy because He was faithful to His covenant that He made with their fathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    For the believer in the Lord Jesus, we do not have a yearly Passover meal, but rather a weekly Lord’s Supper where we come together to remember the mightiest act of God: God taking on human flesh in the Person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ; living a perfect, sinless life; dying and paying for all the sins of all humanity, being buried and rising from the dead. Before we were Christians, we did not deserve salvation. The Apostle Paul says we were dead in our trespasses and sins, we walked according to the course of this world’s system, and we followed after the lusts of our flesh (Eph. 2:1-3). Yet Paul goes on to say, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Eph. 2:4-5; cf. 2:8-9).

    In this stanza, King David says he will do two things. First, “meditate on the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on Your wondrous works” (145:5). The word “meditate” is a different word that the word for meditate in Ps. 1:2 and Josh. 1:8. Here, the idea is to contemplate, and perhaps loudly so others can hear. We might say, “Musing out load.” Here is King David contemplating the majesty of the Great King, the Lord Himself, but he is also contemplating the Lord’s working in his life and in history. Second, he will declare the Lord’s greatness (145:6).

    There is another group of people in this stanza, probably part of the “generation.” They declare Your mighty acts (145:4), speak of the might of Your awesome acts (145:6), utter the memory of your great goodness, and sing of your righteousness (145:7). The “righteousness” that they sing about is God’s fidelity to His attributes – He can never contradict His own character. The results is a number of things that He (who is omnipotent, omniscience, omnipresent, holy, righteous, just, all loving, etc.) can not do. An example is that He can not lie (Tit. 1:2). Lying goes against His nature and against His holiness.

    The second reason David gives for praising and blessing the Lord is because of His works and mighty acts in creation and redemption. Included in this are His attributes of graciousness (hnie), compassion (rehom), slow to anger (erk afim), and great mercy (gadol hesed) toward His covenant people, but also His goodness (tov) and tender mercies (rehomeo) toward all His creatures (145:8-9, Hebrew words are transliterated in italic).

    In Exodus 34, the LORD said to Moses, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful (rehom) and gracious (hnon), longsuffering (erk afim), and abounding in goodness (rav hesed) and truth (amet), keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and fourth generation” (34:6-7). David used four of the five attributes of God that are mentioned in Exodus 34. He apparently had this Torah portion committed to memory.

    The prophet Jonah, after the people of Nineveh repented and God withheld His judgment on the city, uses the same language, in the same order, as recorded in Psalm 145. In anger he said: “For I know that You are a gracious (hnon) and merciful (rahom) God, slow to anger (erk afim) and abundant in lovingkindness (gadol hesed), One who relents from doing harm” (Jonah 4:2). Jonah knew the passages from the Torah, as well as Psalm 145, but did not apply them to his life!

    The LORD is Great Because His Kingdom is an Everlasting Kingdom. 145:10-13
    In the third stanza we see the Lord’s saints join in corporate worship to bless the Lord because of the glorious majesty and mighty power of His Kingdom.
    King David would have joined in this company of saints because he has already been contemplating the glory and power (mighty acts) of the Lord in his personal life. Now he joins the saints for public worship. As they sing:

    All Your works shall praise You, O LORD,
    And Your saints shall bless You.
    They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom,
    And talk of Your power,
    To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts,
    And the glorious majesty of His kingdom.

    Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    And your dominion endures throughout all generations.

    Believers in the Lord Jesus might likewise contemplate our position in Christ. As the Apostle Paul said, “And raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6-7).

    The third reason David gives for praising and blessing the Lord is because He has an everlasting kingdom. Politicians come and go, yet the Lord is the same; yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8), and He is sovereign and in control of His Kingdom forever! (Ps. 145:13). The prophet Daniel quotes this verse in Aramaic in Daniel 4:3 and 4:34.

    The LORD is Great Because of His Care of all His Creatures and especially His Covenant People. 145:14-21

    The two components of the first three stanzas have been reversed in the last stanza. He begins this stanza with the cause for praise and ends it with the final call to praise the Lord. One of the key words that appear in this stanza is the two letter Hebrew word “cal”, translated ten times in this section as all/every.

    David concluded by singing:

    The LORD upholds all who fall,
    And raises up all who are bowed down.
    The eyes of all look expectantly on You,
    And You give them their food in due season.
    You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

    The Lord is righteous in all His ways,
    Gracious in all His works.
    The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
    To all who call upon Him in truth.
    He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
    He also will hear their cry and save them.
    The LORD preserves all who love Him,
    But all the wicked He will destroy.

    My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD,
    And all flesh shall bless His holy name
    Forever and ever.

    In the final stanza, King David focuses on God’s care for His creatures and especially His covenant people. In verses 14-16 we see the Lord’s providential care of His creatures. In verses 17-20 we see the Lord’s righteous and gracious care of His covenant people. There are three groups of people within His covenant people: those who call upon Him, those who fear Him, and those who love Him.

    King David concludes this psalm the same way he began it: “My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD, and all flesh shall bless His holy name forever and ever” (145:21). In his last call to praise the Lord he adds his desire that all humanity shall join him in worshiping the King. The Apostle Paul saw that day clearly when he penned the words: “Therefore God has high exalted Him (the Lord Jesus) and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

    Until then, the Lord’s Supper is just a dress rehearsal until the gathering of all the saints around the Throne of Grace where we will be worshiping the Lamb of God for all eternity.

    The first thing this psalm teaches us is that we are to prioritize our lives and get an eternal perspective on our existence here on earth. In eternity, we will worship the Lord forever, but we are to begin practicing that now, here on earth.

    The second lesson this psalms teaches us is that worship is corporate. The Lord’s Supper is just a dress rehearsal to the gathering of all the saints around the Throne of Grace where we will be worshipping the Lamb of God for all eternity. The axiom: “Practice makes perfect” holds true in this case. Believers are afforded the opportunity every week to gather to worship the Lord. Our hearts should be prepared before we come to the Lord’s Supper and practice for eternity.

    The third lesson this psalm teaches us is that the only way we are to know who God is and what He has done for us in salvation history is through His Word. It behooves us to be daily reading His Word so we can know who He is and what He has done. We must not be like Jonah, a prophet with an attitude, who knew the passages from the Torah, as well as Psalm 145, but did not respond in a positive manner to the Word of God!

    Works Consulted

    Allen, Leslie C.
    1983    Word Biblical Commentary. Psalms 101-150. Waco, TX: Word Books.

    Cohen, A.
    1974    The Psalms. London: Soncino. 11th Impression.

    Delitzsch, F.
    1975    Commentary on the Old Testament. Psalms. Vol. 5. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

    Kissane, Edward
    1954    The Book of Psalms. Vol. 2. Dublin: Browne and Nolan.

    Perowne, J. J. Stewart
    1976    The Book of Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. Reprint of 1878 edition.

    Sanders, J. A.
    1965    Discoveries in the Judaean Desert of Jordan. The Psalms Scroll of Qumran Cave 11. Vol. 4. Oxford: At the Clarendon.

    Van Gemeren, Willem
    1991    Psalms. Pp. 3-880 in Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 5. Edited by F. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

  • Studies in the Book of Psalms Comments Off on PSALM 27: Worship in the Midst of Warfare

    by Gordon Franz

     Have you ever been in a dangerous situation and wondered if you would ever get out of it alive?  God often uses danger and adversity in our lives to remind us of what is important and this gives us an opportunity to contemplate the shortness of life and focus our minds on what really matters: our desires and goals for this life in light of eternity.

    King Saul hounded David like a fox hunter; chased him as one hunts a gazelle; tracked him as if he was a common criminal; and made war on his son-in-law as if he was a threat to his kingdom.  David fled from Saul, not knowing his future fate, nor if his next step would be his last.  There was always the possibility that in his haste to flee from Saul, he would slip on a rock and fall in the treacherous terrain of the Judean Desert, or that Saul would have an ambush prepared for him in the Shephelah.

     What kept David going in this dangerous and difficult time?  What was his focus, and priorities in this life?  Psalm 27 recounts David’s supreme and sole heartfelt desire to worship the Lord even in the midst of warfare.

    Historical Background
     Some of the psalms of David have superscriptions that give the historical circumstances that prompted David to compose the psalm.  In Psalm 27 the superscription states “le-David” in Hebrew and is translated, “to or by David.”  The Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, adds the words: “before he was anointed.”  If this addition is historically accurate (and I suspect that it is), the question is raised: “Which anointing?”  David was anointed on three separate occasions during his life.  The first time he was anointed was by Samuel in Bethlehem before the battle with Goliath in the Elah Valley (1 Sam. 16:13).  The second time was after the death of Saul when the men of Judah anointed David in Hebron (2 Sam. 2:4).  The final time was seven and a half years later when he was anointed king over all of Israel in Hebron by the elders of Israel (2 Sam. 2:11; 5:3).

     Most commentators that venture a historical setting for this psalm usually suggest it was composed during the rebellion of Absalom (Perowne 1976: 265).  Thus, the false witness against David (27:12) might have been the slander by Ahithopel (2 Sam. 16:1-21; cf. Ps. 55:4-6, 23), but this was after David was anointed all three times.  So most likely this is not the historical setting for the psalm.

     I suspect, however, David composed this psalm earlier in his life.  It had to be after his first anointing because we have no record of David engaged in military conflicts while he was a shepherd in the Wilderness of Judah.  Most likely it was during his flight from Saul and before he was anointed for the second and third time.   A possible setting could be in the cave at Adullam or the one at Ein Gedi.  David uses an interesting phrase in verse 5, “He [the LORD] will hide me in His pavilion.”  The Hebrew word translated pavilion is “sucah”.  The same word is used in Psalm 10, “He lies in wait secretly, as a lion in his den (sucah),” which is most likely a cave.

    After David fled the palace at Gibeah of Saul, he bid farewell to Jonathan and then headed for Nob (1 Sam. 21:1-9).  Most likely Nob is located at Ras el-Mesharif, althought it lacks pottery from the Davidic period (Barkay, Fantalkin and Tal 2002: 65-66).  There he got provisions (bread) for his flight and also the sword of Goliath.  Doeg the Edomite, the chief of the herdsmen, ratted on David to Saul (1 Sam. 22:9-10).  Saul summoned Ahimelech to his palace, a mere 2 ½ kilometers away (just over 1 ½ miles) and interrogated him and his family.  Saul accused them of being involved in a plot to overthrown him and to help place David on the throne of Israel.  They denied this accusation.  (David carefully worded his statements to Ahimelech so as not to let them know what his real intentions were.)  Saul ordered his men to slay Ahimelech and his family, but they refused.  Doeg the Edomite ended up carrying out this barbaric deed (1 Sam. 22:11-23), and the only priest to escape was Abiathar (22:20).  This incident lead David to compose Psalm 52 about the evil words and deed of Doeg.  The superscription of the psalm says: “To the Chief Musician.  A Contemplation of David when Doeg the Edomite went and told Saul, and said to him: ‘David has gone to the house of Abimelech.’”

    Psalm 52 may provide a clue to the time setting of Psalm 27.  There are distinct similarities in words and thoughts between the two psalms.  Psalm 52:1-4 describes the evil, lying tongue.  In Psalm 27, David mentions the false witnesses, presumably witnesses that lie with their tongues (27:12).  In 52:5 the wicked are removed from the land of the living; yet in 27:13 David anticipates the goodness of God in the land of the living.  In 52:7, the evil man did not make God his strength (maoz), yet David declares the LORD is his strength (27:1, 14).  David trusts in the mercy of God in Psalm 52:8, and in 27:7 he prays for God’s mercy.  In Psalm 52:9 David declares that he will praise the Lord forever.  In 27:6 he vows to sing praise to the Lord.  He concludes both psalms by saying he will wait upon the Lord (52:9; 27:14).  The mention of violence by the false witnesses (27:12) may be a hint of the slaughter of the priests and inhabitants of Nob by Doeg the Edomite (1 Sam. 22:18-19).  This was a barbaric crime that even Saul’s men would not do (1 Sam. 22:17).  David could have composed both psalms within a short period of time while his mind was thinking similar thoughts.

    Literary Structure
     Some commentators and critical scholars have suggested Psalm 27 was originally two psalms: 27:1-6 is seen as a psalm of confidence, while 27:7-14, is an individual lament psalm.  Some of the reasons for this suggestion is that in verses 1-6, the Lord is addressed in the third person (Lord, He); but in verses 7-14 He is addressed in the second person (You).  In the first section, we see the psalmist’s confidence, and the second, his prayer (Craigie 1983: 230).  But if we look at this psalm closely, these are two halves of the same psalm.  Both halves compliment each other and are linguistically related.  If we put them in chronological order, they would be reversed.  Verses 7-14 would come before verses 1-6.

     The psalmist’s supreme and sole desire in life is to dwell in the house of the Lord in order to worship Him, behold His beauty, and meditate on His Word (27:4), yet he is battling enemies around him that prevents him from accomplishing his goal.  He expresses his confidence in the Lord that one day this goal would be attained.  Until that day, his desire for worship sustains him as he goes through conflicts in his daily life.  In other words: Worship in the midst of warfare.

    An Exposition of Psalm 27

    The psalmists desire for worship leads to confidence in the Lord during daily conflicts.  27:1-3

     The Apostle Peter, on the day of Pentecost in AD 30, stated that David was a prophet (Acts 2:30).  He predicted the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus more than a millennia before it happened (Ps. 22; cf. Matt. 27:35-50; John 20:20), as well as His subsequent resurrection (Ps. 16; cf. Acts 2:25-33).  David had an understanding of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  How much he comprehended, we can only venture to guess (I Pet. 1:10-11).

    David describes the LORD three different ways in the first verse.  First, he says the LORD is “my light.”  In the Hebrew Scriptures, God is never called Light.  The closest it comes is the “Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings” (Mal. 4:2).  However, in the New Testament John the Baptizer, introduces Jesus as the Light.  The Apostle John records in his gospel: “In Him [the Word, the Lord Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John [the Baptizer].  This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.  That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (1:4-9).  The Apostle goes on to say that He came into the world, but His own did not receive Him.  But John holds out the promise: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (1:12).

    Jesus Himself said when He was in the Temple for the Feast of Succoth in AD 29, “I AM the Light of the World” (John 8:12; 9:5).  This statement was made in sharp contrast to the four large candelabras that lit the Jerusalem sky at night during this festive holiday.  During Passover of AD 30, Jesus said: “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” (12:46).  The Apostle John continues with the light theme in his first epistle.  He states: “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1:5; cf. 1 Tim. 6:16).

    The second way David describes the LORD is that He is “my salvation.”  The word salvation is “yeshua,” the Hebrew name of Jesus!  Recall the words of one of the angels of the Lord who appeared to Joseph in a dream.  “And she [Mary] will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

    The third description of the LORD by David is that he is the “strength of my life.”  The word strength (maoz) is often translated fortress or stronghold.  In Psalm 31:3, David describes the Lord as his Rock (zor) and Fortress (maoz).

     David also asks two rhetorical questions in this verse: “Whom shall I fear?” and “Of whom shall I be afraid?”  The obvious answer for David was no one because the LORD is his light, salvation, and fortress.  The only Person he was to fear was the Lord Himself.

     In verse 2, David demonstrated his confidence in the Lord by describing his enemies, and what they planned to do to him, but also what the Lord does to them.  The wicked (maraim) wanted to eat David’s flesh, like a lion or a leopard would do of the prey that was caught.  I’m sure David was using this in a metaphorical sense.  Saul was not a cannibal.  Yet a distressing spirit came upon him and Saul tried to kill David with a spear (1 Sam. 18:5-16; 19:1-24).  His enemies (zar) [Same word in use in verse 12] and foes (ayv) would eventually stumble and fall.  That was the case of King Saul when he finally realized David was more righteous than he was (1 Sam. 24:17-22).

     David makes a bold assertion of his confidence in the Lord by saying that even when an organized army came against him, he would not be afraid of them (27:3).  King Saul led his army against David and his band of men, chasing them throughout Judah.  Yet David was confident when he said, “In this (the Lord is my light, my salvation and the strength of my life) I will be confident.”  David was fearless in the face of danger because his desire for worship, even in the midst of warfare, lead him to a greater confidence in the Lord.

    The psalmists desire for worship leads to a more intense desire to have fellowship with the Lord.  27:4-6

    The Lord is omnipresent (everywhere present), but was also localized in one place at times in Biblical history (cf. 1 Kings 8:23, 27).  When the Children of Israel were redeemed out of Egypt, God led them by a pillar of clouds by day and a pillar of fire by night.  He resided in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness.  When David fled from Saul, the Tent of Meeting was at Nob (1 Sam. 21:1-9), just 3 ½ kilometers to the north of the Jebusite city of Jebus / Salem.  Perhaps before he fled, while David was staying at King Saul’s palace at Gibeah of Saul he would make frequent visits to the Tabernacle at Nob, just a 20 minute walk from the palace.

    Hebrew worship was sensual: all five senses were involved in worship.  One could see the beauty of the Tabernacle and observe the sacrifices being offered.  One could hear the beautiful music sung by the Levites accompanied by harps and other musical instruments in praise to the Lord.  One could handle the sacrifices before they were given to the priest to be offered.  One could smell the sacrifices roasting on the altar.  One could taste the offerings after the sacrifices were “bar-b-qued.”  One could sing praises to the Lord with the mouth, or thank God for fulfilling a vow that was made.  On occasion, the feet were involved when the people danced before the Lord.  David made his contribution to Hebrew worship by composing songs that were later gathered together to comprise the Hebrew hymnbook, the book of Psalms, for worship in the Temple.

     This section begins by David saying, “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek” (27:4).  What will follow is David’s supreme, sole, and only desire in life.  It was his priority in life, it was everything he lived for, and it was the focus of his entire being.  He sought it because the Lord had earlier challenged him to “Seek My face” (27:8).  His supreme and sole desire was to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of his life, a reference to the Tabernacle at Nob.  This is in contrast to the end of Psalm 23 when David wants to “dwell in the house of the LORD forever,” a reference to heaven.

     Two reasons are given as to why David wanted to dwell in the House of the LORD.  First, he wanted to behold the beauty of the Lord; and second to inquire in His Temple.

    When David visited the Tabernacle he was awestruck by its beauty because it was a reflection of the Person of the Lord Himself.  It was constructed of acacia wood overlaid with silver and gold.  It also contained finely woven tapestries with beautiful colors and designs.  Within the Tabernacle were vessels made of finely crafted gold.  All these things reflected the beauty of the Lord, as well as His ways in redemption.  Apparently the Glory of the Lord, the Sheikana Glory, was there as well.  The beauty of the Lord reflects the Person of the Lord.

     The second thing David wanted to do in the House of the Lord was to inquire of the Lord.  The word inquire has the idea of meditation on, or contemplation of, something.  This would be done with the Word of God.  While God’s revelation to humanity was not complete at this time, the priests at Nob would have had copies of the Torah with them, as well as the books of Job, Joshua, Judges, and Ruth.  David would have been able to read the Word of God.  He could meditate on His ways and discern His will from the Scriptures that had already been written.

     In verse 5, the psalmist states that the Lord will protect him.  Three times David says that “He shall …” do something to protect him.  Twice “He shall hide”  David and once “He shall set him on a high rock.”  The Lord would hide him in His pavilion (sucah), a word that is used of a lions den, most likely a cave, possibly at Ein Gedi (Ps. 10:9; 1 Sam. 24:3).  The Lord would also hide him in the secret place of tabernacle (ohel).  The Lord also set David high upon a rock (zor).  I would like to suggest that this is a reference to Masada because after David and Saul depart at Ein Gedi, David went to the “stronghold”, a reference to the high plateau overlooking the Dead Sea (1 Sam. 24:22; Cf. Ps. 18:1-2; 28:1; 31:2; 89:26).

     During David’s flight from Saul, He made a vow to the Lord that when the Lord delivered him he would go to the Tabernacle and offer thanksgiving offerings to the Lord and publically thank Him for the deliverance (27:6; Num. 10:10).  When God answered his prayers, and the warfare had ceased, David offered his vows to the Lord as he worshiped.

    A more focused prayer life leads the psalmists to an intense desire for worship.  27:7-12

     This section (27:7-12) seems to be a reflection on some past experience that prompted David to seek the Lord and to fulfill his desire to worship the Lord in the midst of warfare.  What the historical circumstances were, we are not told.  Chronologically, this section would come before verses 1-6.

     The psalmist begins this section by pleading, “Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!” (27:7).  The word “hear” is the Hebrew word shema.  The same word that is used in Deut. 6:4, “Hear, O Israel:  The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”  David pleaded to the Lord for His mercy in answering his prayer for deliverance from his enemies.

     God responds to David’s request by saying, “Seek My face” (27:8).  Whether this was an audible request, or the still small voice, or something David had read, we are not told. But David got the message and knew the Lord was right.  He responded, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”  David knew God’s presence was in the Tabernacle, so he sought the Lord there. 

     David pleads for mercy and petitions the Lord not to do three things (27:9).  The first is: “Do not hide Your face from me.”  The word hide is the same word used in 27:5, “He shall hide me [in His Tabernacle].”  When God hides His face, He removes His blessings from a believer (cf. Psalm 22:24; 30:7; 143:7).

     The second petition is “Do not turn your servant away in anger.”  David reminds the Lord that He has been his help.

     The third petition that David prays is for the Lord not to leave him nor forsake him (27:9).  In verse 14, David was aware of the “Be strong and of good courage” phrase from Deuteronomy 31 and Joshua 1.  Within these verses, Moses wrote “He [the Lord] will not leave you nor forsake you” (31:6, 8).  The LORD also promised Joshua, “I will not leave you nor forsake you” (1:5).  Of course, every AWANA clubber in Sparks knows Hebrews 13:5, quoting Joshua 1:5: “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”  David addresses this petition to “O God of my salvation.”  David began this psalm by saying: “The LORD is my light and my salvation” (27:1)!

     When David fled from Saul, he took his parents to Moab and left them there with distant relatives, descendants of Ruth (1 Sam. 22:3-4).  His parents did not forsake him, but rather waited for David to return to get them.  David’s statement “When my father and mother forsake me” should be taken as a hypothetical construction, such as “Even if my father and mother forsake me.”  If that ever happened, the Lord in His infinite love would take up David as a loving father lifts up his child in order to take care of him (27:10).

     The second part of this stanza is a prayer for God to teach David His ways, or guidance (27:11-12).  This prayer was answered in David’s desire to inquire of the Lord in His temple, which is the second reason David wanted to dwell in the Tabernacle (27:4).  He goes on to pray, “Lead me in the smooth path, because of my enemies.”  The smooth path is the level road.  When travelling in the Hill Country and Wilderness of Judah, the easiest, most convenient lines of communication are the ridge routes.  If David went into the valleys his enemies could attack him from above.

    The next prayer was for victory over his enemies.  “Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries.”  The word “adversaries” in this verse is the same as enemies in verse 2.  As mentioned before, the reference to the violence by the false witnesses (27:12) may be a hint of the slaughter of the priests and inhabitants of Nob by Doeg the Edomite (1 Sam. 22:18-19).  David would have been saddened by this event because this was the place for him to worship, even in the midst of warfare.

    The psalmists desire for worship leads to patience as he waits on the Lord to answer prayers.  27:13-14

     The words “I would have lost heart” (NKJV) is in italics which means it was added by the translators.    The idea that the translators were trying to convey is “I can not even think about this possibility.”  So sure was his confidence, or trust, in the Lord that He would deliver him from the life-threatening situation that he found himself in.

     David was anticipating the goodness of God in the land of the living.  In this passage, the “land of the living” is not referring to the “pie in the sky, sweet bye-and-bye” – heaven – but rather to his deliverance in the nasty here and now – life on earth!  His attitude was not one of cockiness, but rather of confidence in the Lord as seen in the beginning of this psalm.  There is a difference between these two attitudes.

     David concludes this psalm by twice admonishing his hearers to “wait on the LORD!” (27:14). While they were waiting, they were to be of good courage so that the Lord would strengthen their hearts.  Courage and strength are linked together in other contexts, as well.  Just before the Children of Israel entered the Promised Land, Moses, in his farewell address, instructs them to be strong and courageous as they battled for the Land (Deut. 31:6).  He then commanded General Joshua, “Be strong and of good courage” (Deut. 31:7, 23).  Just before the Israelites crossed the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land, the LORD commanded General Joshua three times to be strong and courageous (Josh. 1:6, 7, 9).  The Israelites also commanded General Joshua to be strong and of good courage as he led them into the Land (1:18).  Later, during the Shephelah Campaign, Joshua admonishes the Israelites to be strong and of good courage (10:25).  Each time the admonition was given, it was in a military context.  David took this phrase and applied it to the military conflict that he was involved in when he composed this psalm.  David also used the phrase to encourage his son, Solomon, to build the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Chron. 22:13; 28:20).

     When Sennacherib, the king of the Assyrians, entered the Land of Judah he threatened Jerusalem with total destruction.  King Hezekiah made military preparations for the upcoming battle and encouraged his army by saying, “Be strong and of good courage” (2 Chron. 32:7).  He applied the words of the Lord, Moses, Joshua and David to the desperate military situation that Judah was facing, but his confidence was ultimately in the Lord (32:8).

     In this psalm, David’s confidence was in the Lord, and he rested in His sovereignty, knowing that the LORD was his light, salvation, and the strength (fortress) of his life.  So he could, wait – be of good courage – and strengthen his heart, knowing that God would answer his prayer to worship Him even in the midst of warfare.

     There are several applications we can draw from this psalm for our daily life.  First, the LORD is my salvation.  David realized he could not save himself, both in a spiritual sense as well as a physical/political sense.  He could only depend upon the Lord for his salvation.

     The same is true of each and every one of us.  We have a problem called sin (Rom. 3:23).  In order for us to enter Heaven and have fellowship with a holy God, we must be as perfect as God (Rev. 21:7).  None of us are.  That is why the Lord Jesus came to earth and lived a perfect life, never sinning once because He was sinless.  When He died upon the Cross, He paid for all our sins (1 John 2:2) and offers us His perfection and His righteousness, if we would trust Him as our Savior (Phil. 3:9; Rom. 4:1-5; Eph. 2:8-9).  Like David, we can truly say, “The LORD is my salvation” because, by faith alone in Christ alone, He paid for all my sins, gives me His righteousness, the forgiveness of sins, and a home in Heaven.

    Second, we have confidence in the Lord in our daily struggles when we know who He is and what He has done for us.  David’s prayer to the Lord was “Teach me Your ways, O LORD.”  The way to know the ways of God is revealed in His final revelation, the Bible.  David had to go to the Tabernacle in Nob to read the Word of God, but we just need to go to our bookshelf and pull down a copy of God’s Word.  It is imperative that we know our Bibles, and that can only be accomplished by studying and memorizing it.

    Finally, we need to develop a heart for worship like David had.  His desire was to behold the beauty of the Lord in His Tabernacle.  This is the one application that I would like to focus on.  Most of us will not find ourselves in harms way in a military conflict such as David experienced.  For those believers in the Lord Jesus who are in the military and serving overseas, they could relate to David’s personal experience and emotional feelings better than most of us.  However, the Apostle Paul says of Christians, that we are engaged in a spiritual warfare.  “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).  Thus, he encourages the Christian to put on the whole armor of God and engage in this spiritual warfare in the power of the Lord’s might (6:10-20).

    While we are engaged in this spiritual warfare, this psalm asks one question of us.  Do we have the single minded and focused desire that David had to worship the LORD and to meditate on His Word as we are engaged in this spiritual warfare?  David’s sole desire was to dwell in the Lord’s Tabernacle so he could behold His beauty, and to contemplate Him.  But today we do not have a Tabernacle to go to, but instead, a Table (1 Cor. 10:21).

    On the night in which the Lord Jesus was betrayed, He instituted the Lord’s Supper and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  And again, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood.  This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:24, 25).  The command given by the Lord Jesus was to remember Him when we gather to worship.

    When we gather corporately to worship the Lord and remember His Son we do not come to remember our sins, but rather, the Savior of sinners.  We do not come to remember and recount our blessings for that week, as many as they may be, but rather to remember the Blesser Himself – the One who has already blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3).  We do not come together to remember the dumb sheep that we are, but rather the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep (John 10:7-18).  Nor do we come together to remember the Bride of Christ, but rather the Bridegroom.  As the hymn writer so eloquently and profoundly wrote:

    “The Bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face;
    I will not gaze at glory, but on my King of Grace.
    Not at the crown He giveth, but on His pierced hand;
    The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.”

    We come together to remember the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36); the Bread of Life who came down from Heaven (John 6:22-59); the Light of the Word who shines in darkness (John 1:7-9; 8:12); the Prince of Peace who brings peace with God to sinful humanity by faith alone in Christ alone; and the peace of God to His children who walk by faith and not by sight (Isa. 9:6; Rom. 5:1; Phil. 4:7).  We remember the Bright and Morning Star who shines in our hearts (Rev. 22:16); and the Son of Righteousness with healing in His wings (Mal. 4:2).

    The subject of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ is inexhaustible in God’s Holy Word (for a limited, yet excellent attempt, see Lockyer 1975:93-280).  This gives us unlimited facets of the Person of the Lord Jesus to focus on at the Lord’s Supper.  The worship service is not about us; it’s about Him!  That was David’s supreme heart’s desire and should be ours as well, even in the midst of spiritual warfare.


    Alexander, Joseph A.
    1975 The Psalms.  Translated and Explained.  Grand Rapids. MI: Baker Books.

    Barkay, Gabriel; Fantalkin, Alexander; and Tal, Oren
    2002 A Late iron Age Fortress North of Jerusalem.  Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 328: 49-71.

    Cohen, A.
     1974 The Psalms.  New York: Soncino.

    Craigie, Peter
     1983 Word Biblical Commentary.  Psalm 1-50.  Waco, TX: Word.

    Dahood, Mitchell
     1986 The Anchor Bible.  Psalms I.  1-50.  Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

    Delitzsch, F.
    1975 Psalms.  Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament.  Vol. 5.  Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

    Gaebelein, Arno
    1963 The Book of Psalms.  A Devotional and Prophetic Commentary.  Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers.

    Kidner, Derek
     1973 Psalms 1-72.  Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity.

    Kissane, Edward
     1963 The Book of Psalms.  Vol. 1.  Dublin: Browne and Nolan.

    Lewis, C. S.
    1958 “The Fair Beauty of the Lord.”  Pp. 44-53 in Reflections on the Psalms.  London: Geoffrey Bles.

    Lockyer, Herbert
    1975 All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

    Paul, Shalom
    1982 Psalm 27:10 and the Babylonian Theodicy.  Vetus Testamentum 32: 489-492.

    Perowne, J. J. Stewart
     1976 The Book of Psalms.  Vol. 1.  Gramd Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

    Tesh, S. Edward; and Zorn, Walter
    1999 The College Press NIV Commentary.  Psalms.  Vol. 1.  Joplin, MO: College Press.

    VanGemeren, William
    1991 The Expositor’s Bible Commentary.  Psalms – Song of Songs.  Vol. 5.  Edited by F. Gaebelein.  Gand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

    Wilson, Gerald
    2002 The NIV Application Commentary.  Psalms.  Vol. 1.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan.



Recent Comments

  • Nicely done Gordon! At last, a place to send people who are...
  • It's incredible how Mr Cornuke keeps finding things in the w...
  • Obviously Mr.Cornuke hasn't studied Torah or the Bible very ...
  • Thanks for this cogent and concise summary, Gordon. The body...
  • Gordon, You did an excellent work to support the traditiona...