John T. Willis

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Lord answers prayer--Psalm 6

Like many psalms, the composer of Psalm 6 is confronted with threatening enemies. He turns to God in prayer, and the Lord answers his prayer and delivers him from his enemies. Psalm 6 naturally falls into two parts.

I. An ancient psalmist faces terrors. Psalm 6:1-5.
    a. The superscription of Psalm 6 reads: "To the leader; with stringed instruments; according to Sheminith. A Psalm of David." It is very doubtful that the superscriptions of the psalms are original. The meaning of the statement "according to Sheminith" is unclear. Scholars have proposed several possibilities, but no one knows for certainty what this means.
    b. The psalmist addresses Yahweh in the second person. He beseeches Yahweh not to rebuke him in Yahweh's anger or discipline him in his wrath. He begs Yahweh to be gracious to him because he is languishing. He implores Yahweh to heal him, because his bones are shaking with terror. This expression probably has to do with the danger of his enemies, as verses 7-10 suggest. He feels that Yahweh has not responded as quickly as the psalmist wished. 6:1-3.
   c. The psalmist continues asking Yahweh to save his life and deliver him for the sake of Yahweh's steadfast love. The psalmist wants to continue to praise Yahweh, but he cannot do this if his enemies kill him and put him in death or Sheol. 6:4-5.

II. The psalmist defies his enemies, and receives Yahweh's gracious deliverance. Psalm 6:6-10.
     a. The psalmist explains that he is weary with moaning; every night he floods his bed with tears or drenches his couch with weeping. His eyes waste away because of grief and grow weak BECAUSE OF HIS FOES. 6:6-7.
     b. The psalmist sharply turns to his enemies face-on. Defiantly, he cries out: "Depart from me, all you workers of evil," because Yahweh has heard my weeping. Yahweh has heard his supplication and accepted his prayer. 6:8-9.
     c. Finally, the psalmist declares to his audience that all his enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror; they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame. What the psalmist had feared now receives his enemies' fear and terror. 6:10.

This is the way God always works. Ungodly people mistreat innocent godly people. For a time, it appears that the ungodly will prevail. But this never happens. God always intervenes and delivers the godly from the ungodly.

Share YOUR insights and shortcomings and weaknesses and ideas and experiences with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Movers and Shakers

For many centuries, people have paraded themselves as MOVERS AND SHAKERS. They are the people who ASSUME they are the most important people on planet earth, and who pride themselves about being more intelligent, richer, harder workers, etc., than most people. Every generation has this type of people. Every nation has this type of people. Every church has this type of people. Every university has this type of people. Many examples in the Bible emphasize the fallacy of people setting themselves forth as MOVERS AND SHAKERS.

I. The Tower of Babel. Genesis 11:1-9.
    a. The account of the tower of Babel is one of the earliest stories in the Bible. After the flood in the days of Noah, people on earth multiplied again, and in time people migrated from the east and came to the land of Shinar and settled there. The people VISIONED building a great tower. So they made bricks, burned them thoroughly, made bricks for stone and bitumen for mortar. Out of this they determined that that would build a city and a tower. Their purpose was: "LET US MAKE A NAME FOR OURSELVES" (Genesis 11:4).
    b. Today, numerous people fall into the same trap. People build impressive buildings of all types, make many types of transportation, put together all kinds of instruments, and the like. All of this looks good, and those who do this get in the headlines of newspapers.
    c. The problem with all this is that those who create and do such things do not address the REAL ISSUES OF LIFE like the heart, righteous speech and living, etc.

II. Nebuchadnezzar's Golden Statue. Daniel 3.
     a. Daniel 3 relates the story of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who built a golden statue which was 60 cubits or 90 feet high and six or nine feet wide which he built in the plain of Dura. Then he commanded all the people of Babylon to come to the statue and fall down and worship the statue. Daniel 3:1-7.
      b. But three Jews in Babylon, Shadrach, Meschech, and Abednego refused to come and worship the statue. The authorities brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar rebuked them sternly and commanded his cronies to throw them into a furnace of flaming fire. Daniel 3:8-18.
      c. When they did this, Yahweh protected Shadrach, Meschech, and Abednego. When Nebuchadnezzar saw this, he praised their God and commanded all people to worship the true and living God. Daniel 3:19-30.
      d. Movers and Shakers quickly learn that God is more powerful than would-be dictators and oppressors on earth whether they be kings or presidents or emperors or bosses or tsars.

III. Jesus' Parable of the Rich Fool. Luke 12:13-21.
      a. Jesus was approached by someone who wanted his brother to divide the family inheritance with him. Jesus' response was: "Be on your guard against ALL KINDS OF GREED." A person's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. Luke 12:13-15.
      b. Then Jesus told the parable of the rich fool. A rich man received great abundance. So he pondered what he should do. After awhile, he concluded that he would build greater barns and increase his holdings so he can "relax, eat, drink, be merry." Luke 12:16-19.
      c. But God said: "You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things your have prepared, whose will they be?" So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God." Luke 12:20-21.

IV. BUT people continue to parade themselves as the great MOVERS AND SHAKERS on planet earth. They demean and mistreat others to gain what they want for themselves, often, unfortunately in the name of God and for his cause. But God knows better because God knows the importance of the heart and the lives of godly people, which are the only important issues in life after it is all said and done.

Share YOUR reversals and successes and reservations and concepts and experiences with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Psalmist Pleads for Protection from Enemies--Psalm 5

The superscription of Psalm 5 reads: "To the leader: for the flutes. A Psalm of David." Evidence suggests that all the superscriptions are later additions to the original psalm. Nothing in the content of Psalm 5 favors or opposes the idea that David originally wrote this psalm. It is safest to consider Psalm 5 as a poem written in a circumstance in which the composer faced problems with enemies. Psalm 5 naturally falls into four parts based on the "persons" emphasized.

I. The psalmist beseeches Yahweh to answer his prayer. Psalm 5:1-3.
    a. The dominant pronoun in verses 1-3 is "I" and "my." This indicates that the psalmist is greatly concerned about his own personal situation at this point in his life.
    b. The psalmist beseeches Yahweh to "give ear to" his words, "give heed to" his sighing," "listen to" the sound of his cry. These are powerful terms for "pleading" or "begging" or "entreating." 5:1-2a.
    c. The psalmist refers to his "words," "sighing," "cry," "prayer," "voice," and "case," "plea," and "watch." The poet clearly thinks he has a "legal case" which Yahweh should address. By implication, others have made charges or accusations against him. 5:1-3.
    d. The composer owns Yahweh as "my King and my God." This might imply that the speaker is an earthly king, and he is emphasizing that he is subservient to Yahweh, the real king. 5:2.

II. The psalmist praises Yahweh for who he is. Psalm 5:4-8.
     a. After emphasizing his own critical situation, the psalmist turns to Yahweh to stress the nature and importance of Yahweh. First, he emphasizes the striking difference between Yahweh and the psalmist's enemies. Yahweh is a God who does not delight in wickedness; evil will not sojourn with him; the boastful will not stand before his eyes; Yahweh hates all evildoers; Yahweh destroys those who speak lies; Yahweh abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful. The liars, bloodthirsty, and deceitful are apparently the psalmist's enemies who have sought to destroy him. 5:4-6.
     b. For protection from his enemies, the psalmist resolves to enter Yahweh's house, that is, Yahweh's holy temple in Jerusalem, through the abundance of Yahweh's steadfast love; and then bow down toward the temple in awe of Yahweh. He beseeches Yahweh to LEAD him in Yahweh's righteousness and MAKE Yahweh's way STRAIGHT before him. 5:7-8.

III. The psalmist describes the sinfulness of his enemies. Psalm 5:9-10.
      a. After approaching Yahweh, the psalmist turn to describe his enemies. He emphasizes FOUR of their features: (1) there is no truth in their mouths, implying that they had made false charges against the psalmist; (2) their hearts are destructions, implying that the real problem is their sinful heart; (3) their throats are open graves, showing that their intention is to destroy other people, including the psalmist; (4) they flatter with their tongues, indicating that they attempt to entrap innocent people to destroy them. 5:9.
      b. Because of their nature and actions, the psalmist entreats Yahweh to punish his enemies. He beseeches Yahweh to make his enemies bear their guilt, and let them fall by their own counsels. This is the same principle as Galatians 6:7: "Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow." The psalmist beseeches Yahweh to cast out his enemies because of their transgressions, because actually they have rebelled against God. 5:10.

IV. The psalmist intercedes in behalf of others who have experienced the same problem as the psalmist. Psalm 5:11-12.
      a. The psalmist implores Yahweh to let all who take refuge in Yahweh will rejoice and ever sing for joy, to spread Yahweh's protection over them so that those who love Yahweh's name may exult in Yahweh. 5:11.
      b. The psalmist concludes that praises Yahweh because Yahweh blesses the righteous and covers them with favor as with a "shield." The Bible often uses the metaphor of "shield" as a symbol of Yahweh's protection. 5:12.

Share YOUR insights and thoughts and shortcomings and experiences and fears with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis