Sunday, July 28, 2019

“Psalm 92, A Psalm. A Song. For the Sabbath Day.” [Matt's Messages]

“Psalm 92, A Psalm. A Song. For the Sabbath Day.”
Family Bible Week: The Songbook in Your Bible
July 28, 2019 :: Psalm 92

Well, we have had a great Family Bible Week, and we’ve learned a lot.

There’s been a lot of “vroom vroom” this week, and I am very grateful.

I invite you to turn in your Bibles with me to Psalm 92.

Because all week our adult class has been learning about the Songbook in the middle of our Bibles.

If you open your Bible to the very center, you’ll find a book of 150 poems which turn out to be 150 songs most of which are also prayers of some sort.

We said this week that the Psalms are in the center of our Bibles, to express the center of ourselves–our hearts, and are directed at the Center of the Universe–our God, the LORD.

Last week, we looked at the first Psalm.

Today, I want us to look at the 92nd Psalm.

And this is the title:

Or translated into English: “A Psalm. A Song. For the Sabbath Day.”

Interestingly, this is the only Psalm of 150 Psalms that is designated “for the Sabbath Day.”

In fact, it’s the only time that the word “Sabbath” is mentioned in the book of Psalms.

Apparently, this Psalm, Psalm 92, is particularly appropriate and was written for use on the Day of Rest.

The Jews were to take off one day a week from their work and trust God to provide for them.

And to set aside that day to enjoy one another, to enjoy rest, and to enjoy their God.

And, apparently, also to sing.

It’s interesting because the word for “psalm” there in the title (mizmor) basically means “to make music and sing praise” and then the second word of the title (shir) means “a song.”

So it’s like a repetition.

This is a songy song.

This is a musical song.

This is a praise song that is meant to be sung.

On the Sabbath day.

I’d like to read it to you all the way through before we study it in parts.

But before I do, I want to remind the adult class of some of the things we learned together this week.

First, because they are songs, we have to interpret the psalms as songs.

We don’t expect to read a song the same way we read other kinds of literature.

You don’t take the phone book to the beach with you and say, “I think I’ll work my way down through the W’s today. They are just so interesting.” No, you take a novel with you to the beach. But you don’t use a novel to fix your Honda either even if there is a Honda in the story.

You interpret various kinds of literature according to their own rules and their own forms.

So we learned a little about Hebrew poetry this week.

The Hebrews loved to what? Repeat themselves.
The Hebrews loved to what? Repeat themselves.
The Hebrews loved to what? Repeat themselves.

We call it Hebrew parralelism.

Listen for the psalmist (we don’t know his name) to repeat ideas one right after another. Sometimes with a twist in the second or third line.

Hebrew poetry also features imagery.

Imagery is when you say a word and an image pops up in your mind.

And the image is supposed to speak to a reality beyond the image.

The LORD isn’t a shepherd in the sense that He’s smelly and rough and works with literal sheep.

We are the sheep, and we need a strong and loving caretaker. So the LORD is our shepherd. That’s imagery.

Listen for the powerful images that jump out of this song as we read it.

Hebrew poetry is deeply emotional.

It’s terse. It uses a few power-packed words to get across its point. There’s a lot of white space on the page.

But the words are emotive and passionate and arouse the affections.

We love the Psalms because they are expressive of our hearts.

And yet, at the same time, they are not about us. They are about the LORD and how awesome He is.

The Psalms paint a picture of God as God is, and they draw us into worship.

The Psalms are great because they connect us intimately with God’s majesty.

Listen for that.

One more thing to listen for, though I could say more, this week our adult class learned to classify the Psalms into 7 basic categories.

The Celebratory Hymn
The Heartfelt Lament
The Thanksgiving Song
The Psalm of Remembrance
The Psalm of Confidence
The Wisdom Psalm
The Royal or Kingship Psalms.

Those are the seven main types.

But we also said that some Psalms exhibit features of more than one of those types.

I think there are at least 3 of those types exhibited in these 15 short verses.

So, let’s play “Name that Tune” as we read them and listen for which types of Psalms this one has.

Psalm 92 (NIV 1984):
1 A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day. It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High,
 2 to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,
 3 to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.
 4 For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
 5 How great are your works, O LORD, how profound your thoughts!
 6 The senseless man does not know, fools do not understand,
 7 that though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be forever destroyed.
 8 But you, O LORD, are exalted forever.
 9 For surely your enemies, O LORD, surely your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered.
 10 You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured upon me.
 11 My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.
 12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
 13 planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
 14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,
 15 proclaiming, "The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him."
Psalm 92 has a lot in common with the Psalm we looked at last week, Psalm 1.

Last week, we talked about choosing the path, the track, of righteousness instead of the path, the track, of wickedness.

We kept saying, “Turn to the right.”

“Turn to the right.”

“Turn to the right.”

I’d like to cast this Psalm as four more right turns.

Four more turns in the right and righteous direction.

Here’s the first one:

#1. TURN UP YOUR PRAISE!

You can just feel the warmth and joy that rises off of the first three verses.

“It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.”

The word “good” there in Hebrew is, “tov.” It’s the same word God used when He made everything at creation, and He said that it was good.

It is “tov” to praise the LORD and make music to His name.

It is good and right for us to be here today.

It is good and right for us to raise God’s praise!

It’s good and right for us to sing the way we have this morning!

We were made for this!

And notice the psalmist is already praying.

It’s not just good to praise the LORD. It’s good to make music to YOUR name, O Most High. (That’s quite a title, isn’t it?!)

“...to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,”

Does that mean that in the morning we’re supposed to praise God for His love and then in the evening, we’re supposed to praise God for His faithfulness?

No, that’s Hebrew parallelism and that’s the figure of speech called “merism,” isn’t it?

Any remember what merism is?

It’s when you mention one of the spectrum and the other end of the spectrum to mean everything in between.

The A line says that we should proclaim God’s faithful love in the morning and the B line says that we should proclaim His faithfulness at night.

And that means all day long. We say, “24/7.”

It is good to praise God all day long!

Especially on a Sabbath Day.

Which our Sundays are kind of like.

They aren’t the exact same thing, but they are kind of like the Sabbath for Christians.

And it’s appropriate. It’s fitting. It’s good. It’s tov, to proclaim God’s love and faithfulness all day long.

Class, what kind of Psalm is this so far?

It’s a hymn, right? One of those celebratory hymns of joy.

Turn up your praise!

And set your praise to music.

“to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.”

David’s own instrument.

The Psalmist says that God’s praise deserves some good instrumentation.

“To the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.”

To the electronic keyboard and the 6 string guitars.

To the drumset.

To the brass band.

To the orchestra.

Turn up your praise!

Why?

Verse 4.

“For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.  How great are your works, O LORD, how profound your thoughts!”

Our praise is not just based on feelings.

Our feelings come from facts.

The facts of Who God is and what God has done.

The Psalmist full of joy when He thinks about God. God’s love and faithfulness.

God’s deeds. God’s actions in the world.

“I sing for joy at the works of your hands.”

What is that?

That’s creation, right?

That’s marveling at everything God has made.

And more than that, it’s not just creation. It’s redemption, too.

The Red Sea Rescue!

God’s salvation of His people from their enemies.

“How great are your works, O LORD, [B-line] how profound your thoughts!”

God’s great works come out of God’s great thoughts.

Just contemplate for a minute the depth of God’s thoughts.

What does it take to run a universe?

How wise do you have to be?

I mean, Misty has done a fabulous job coordinating our Family Bible Week, and that was a lot of details.

Now, imagine if you were in charge of the universe. How deep would your thoughts have to be?

Now, imagine not just running the universe, but running the universe with justice. Where everything works out the way it ought to be.

But don’t stop there. Imagine not just running the universe, and not just running the universe with justice, but also running the universe with love and GRACE for your special people?

So that the end in the end all things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes.

“How great are your works, O LORD, how profound your thoughts!”

Turn up your praise.

This week, we looked at a number of the sadder psalms. The Psalms of Lament. We need those songs, too, because our world is broken, and we feel the pain of it.

But this morning, I wanted to look at one of the joyful songs because that’s where this book ends up. It ends up in praise.

The title of the book is “Song of Praise.”

The songbook in the middle of your Bible is a book of Praise Songs.

Turn up your praise!

But not everybody does.

In fact, most people take the wrong path.

We saw this last week. They turn the wrong way.

They take the road wickedness.

And Psalm 92 says that that is senseless, foolish, and just plain dumb. V. 6

“The senseless man does not know, fools do not understand, that though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be forever destroyed.”

#2. TURN AWAY FROM WICKEDNESS.

Wickedness is very shortsighted.

The Psalmist calls it senseless.

It seems like the wicked flourish. They spring up like grass, and for a while it seems like they are going to win.

If you take the shortcut, it’s going to look like you’re in the lead.

But God says that taking that wicked short cut will cut short your life. Forever.

“They will be forever destroyed.”

What did Psalm 1 call them?  “Chaff.”

Their success is momentary, temporary, and fleeting.

I know it doesn’t seem like it. That’s why we need to sing this song for ourselves!

“It’s stupid to choose wickedness.
Because the good times never last!”

I know. I’ll stick to my day job.

The psalmist says, verse 8, “But you, O LORD, are exalted forever. For surely your enemies, O LORD, surely your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered.”

They are like chaff. And the LORD is like a mountain!

He is exalted forever.

He is supreme. He is majestic. He towers over all. He towers over time. He towers over rulers. He towers over creation. He towers over everything and never will fall!

He is exalted forever!

Not so the wicked.

Notice the “surely” in verse 9. Not a person. “Surely” as in “certainly” “inescapably” “unavoidably.”

“For surely your enemies, O LORD, surely your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered.”

Justice is on the way.

We saw this again and again this week in our class, as well.

The promise of restoration and justice.

The promise that God will make all things right, and His enemies will lose forever.

That day is on the way.

And we need to get ready for it.

Because, we are by nature, God’s enemies.

We are born hurtling down the wrong path.

And we need to turn away.

The word for that is “repentance.”

We turn away from the path of wickedness and choose the path of faith.

Faith in God’s promises.

And faith in God’s promised Savior. The Lord Jesus Christ. Have you turned onto His track yet?

The point is not to become “nice” and become “good.”

The point is to receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord, your Rescuer and King and begin to follow Him on His path.

To chase after Him on His track.

Jesus perished like one of God’s enemies so that we could become God’s friends.

Turn away from wickedness and trust in the Savior Jesus Christ.

Because wickedness is so shortsighted.

I know it seems like the wicked are winning in this world.

That’s the point of Psalm 73, by the way.

But that’s what is happening.

Sin promises a pay-off, but it’s all pleasure in the short-run.

Sin always fails to deliver in the long run.

Turn away from wickedness.

The Psalmist did. And over and over again, He experienced the blessing of God. V.10

“You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured upon me. My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.”

#3. TURN ON YOUR THANKSGIVING.

By the way, what kind of Psalm was verses 6 through 9?

It sounded like a Wisdom Psalm didn’t it?

The two paths. Righteousness and wickedness contrasted. Take the right path.

Sounds like Proverbs. Sounds like wisdom.

Well, what do these verses sound like, class? Verses 10 and 11.

The Psalm of Thanksgiving right?

That’s the Psalm of personal testimony.

“You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured upon me. My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.”

Again and again the Psalmist gives thanks for God’s blessing on his life.

And he doesn’t take credit for any of it. This is all from God.

And the psalmist is thankful.

Now, I’m not sure what it means that God has exalted his horn like that of a wild ox.

I know that a horn is a symbol of strength.

So God has blessed him with some strength, maybe some power.

The wild ox, the “auroch” was a powerful animal, a predecessor to our cattle known for its strength.

Funny story. The Greek translators of the Old Testament used the word “one-horned” “monkeros” to loosely translate this word from the Hebrew so that the older English versions ended up translating it “unicorn.”

You might have the old King James, and it says “unicorn” in verse 10.

That’s not the mythical beast and national animal of Scotland.

This is a wild oxen known for its power.

That’s an image, by the way.

The psalmist has been given strength and power in some way like an exalted horn of a wild ox. Not that he’s superhuman now. It’s an image.

And so is the B-line. “Fine oils have been poured upon me.”

I suppose he might have literally had fine oils poured on him, but I think it’s poetic language to say that he’s been consecrated and refreshed.

This sounds like Psalm 23, right?

 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

In other words, “I’ve been treated like an honored guest.”

And he’s been blessed with success and justice.

And he knows it! “My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.”

This guy knows that he has been blessed, and he’s singing about it.

Turn on your thanksgiving.

When was the last time you listed your praises out to God for His many blessings to you?

I’m giving thanks this week that it’s been four years since my major abdominal surgery. And I’m thankful for four years of health and fruitfulness since then.

When was the last time you listed your praises out to God for His many blessings to you?

Verse 11 might sound like gloating.

But we learned this week that the psalmists prayed against their enemies because they were also God’s enemies.

If they would turn and be converted and come over to the Lord’s side, I’m sure that they would have also be happy to forgive and receive and love them.

But if their enemies persisted in hate of God and rebellion against God, then the psalmists were going to stay opposed to them.

And it’s right to praise God when their evils schemes fail.

To pray for justice and to praise God when justice is done.

Last one.

#3. TURN INTO BLESSING! V.12

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’”

I almost said for this last point, “Turn into a evergreen tree,” but I didn’t want it to sound like I was saying “Crash your race car into a tree.”

I mean “turn into” as in “transform into” a flourishing tree.

This is another image, isn’t it?

And it’s like the image from Psalm 1.

Here’s Heather’s painting of Psalm 1 again. V.12

“[A-line] The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, [B-line] they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; [C-line] planted in the house of the LORD, [D-line] they will flourish in the courts of our God.”

I love that word “flourish” because it’s what I want for me, for my family, and for my church family.

I want us to experience that kind of blessing. Of vibrancy and vitality and fruit-bearing and flourishing and life!

Both the Palm Tree and the Cedar are symbols of stateliness and grace and dignity and prosperity and strength.

And they were both in Solomon’s temple.

Solomon used cedar from Lebanon (where they are famous for their cedar) and palm trees were part of the decorations. They were embroidered into the design of the temple.

Psalm 92 says that WE are the trees.

And it pictures us not just used in the design of the temple but transplanted into the temple.

I think the idea is that we will flourish if we are near God.

And part of our flourishing is nearness to God!

Not just a tree, but a tree in the temple.

And the temple, by the way, was as shadow of heaven.

A reminder of the Garden and a foretaste of what is to come!

Eternal flourishing!

How about that?!

V.14  “They [the righteous, the trees] will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green...”

Evergreen.

I heard of a church named “Evergreen” once.

I love that. That would be such a good name for church.

Evergreen.

That’s what God promises to the righteous as they follow Him by faith.

Endless vitality.

Not physically. Not in this age.

“...outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16)!

Endless spiritual vitality.

And what do they do with that flourishing?

They praise God with it and for it! V.15

“...they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming [same word as verse 2], ‘The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’”

Praise the Lord!

How about that image?

God is our Rock.

Just what we need when our world is crumbling and giving way and floating down stream.

We need a rock.

And a rock that doesn’t move. A rock that has no fault in it. No wickedness, no shadow of turning in Him.

“The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’”

That’s the song of the righteous.

That’s what it looks like to flourish.

To all the time be able to sing and proclaim that God is our Rock.

That’s what it means to win this race that we’ve been learning about all week.

You know Who did this really well?

You know Who sang this song to its fullest?

The Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus sang all 150 psalms.

I’m sure He sang this one and nobody sang it better.

He turned up the praise of His Father.
He turned away from wickedness (perfectly).
He always turned on His thanksgiving.

And He was ever green.

He was the very model of human flourishing.

He sang this song with His life.

And with His death.

And with His resurrection.

And He invites us to sing it with Him now.

A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.

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