Category Archives: Bible Knowledge Commentary

APRIL 25 – “AS I WAS, SO I WILL BE”

As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.

Joshua 1:5

For all things, God is the great Antecedent!

Because He is, we are and everything else is.

We cannot think rightly of God until we begin to think of Him as always being there—and being there first!

Joshua had this to learn. He had been so long the servant of God’s servant Moses, and had with such assurance received God’s word at his mouth, that Moses and the God of Moses had become blended in his thinking, so blended that he could hardly separate the two thoughts. By association they always appeared together in his mind.

Now Moses is dead and lest the young Joshua be struck down with despair, God spoke to assure him: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee!”

Moses was dead, but the God of Moses still lived! Nothing had changed and nothing had been lost, for nothing of God dies when a man of God dies.

“As I was—so I will be.” Only the Eternal God could say this!

 

Almighty God, I pray today for Christian leaders and pastors in foreign lands who need to be reminded that You are the Eternal God who faithfully stands with them in all their challenges.[1]


1:5 The promise of divine power for Joshua’s task.[2]


1:5 will I be with you; I will not fail See Josh 1:17; compare Exod 3:12.[3]


1:5 God’s great promise to Moses I will be with you (Ex. 3:12) is now given to Joshua (1:9; 3:7). Of special comfort to Joshua would have been the fact that God would be with him in the same way He had been with Moses. Joshua had been present during the many demonstrations of God’s presence in Moses’ life and would have known how significant this promise was.[4]


1:5. As Joshua faced the tremendous task of conquering Canaan, he needed a fresh word of encouragement. From personal observation Joshua knew that the Canaanites and others were vigorous people who lived in strongly fortified cities (cf. Num. 13:28–29). Frequent battles kept their warriors in trim fighting condition. And for the most part the land was mountainous, a fact that would make war maneuvers most difficult. But when God gives a command He often accompanies it with a promise, so He assured Joshua a lifetime of continuous victory over his enemies, based on His unfailing presence and help. The words I will never leave you (cf. Josh. 1:9) may be rendered, “I will not drop or abandon you.” God never walks out on His promises.[5]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Jos 1:5). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Jos 1:5). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 274). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[5] Campbell, D. K. (1985). Joshua. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 328). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

April 14 – Devotion to Christ

Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.

1 Peter 3:15

 

Regardless of the opposition a believer may face in this world, he is always to affirm in his heart that Christ is Lord. He is to accept and acknowledge the Lord’s sovereignty and majesty, fearing only Him.

The believer who sanctifies Christ exalts Him as the object of his love and loyalty. He recognizes His perfection, magnifies His glory, and extols His greatness. He submits himself to God’s will, realizing that His will sometimes involves suffering. To live that way is to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:10).

As a Christian, you need to be committed to honoring Christ as Lord—even in the midst of suffering. Submission to Him will yield courage, boldness, and fortitude in the midst of hostility.[1]


A Devotion to Christ

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, (3:15a)

Here the apostle again alludes to Isaiah 8:13, “Sanctify the Lord of hosts” (kjv). When believers sanctify Christ as Lord in their hearts, they affirm their submission to His control, instruction, and guidance. In so doing they also declare and submit to God’s sovereign majesty (cf. Deut. 4:35; 32:4; 1 Kings 8:27; Pss. 90:2; 92:15; 99:9; 145:3, 5; Isa. 43:10; Rom. 8:28; 11:33) and demonstrate that they fear only Him (Josh. 24:22–24; Pss. 22:23; 27:1; 34:9; 111:10; 119:46, 63; Prov. 14:26; Matt. 4:10).

Sanctify (hagiasate) means “to set apart,” or “consecrate.” But in this context it also connotes giving the primary place of adoration, exaltation, and worship to Christ. Believers who sanctify Christ set Him apart from all others as the sole object of their love, reverence, loyalty, and obedience (cf. Rom. 13:14; Phil. 2:5–11; 3:14; Col. 3:4; 2 Peter 1:10–11). They recognize His perfection (Heb. 7:26–28), magnify His glory (Acts 7:55–56; cf. Rev. 1:12–18), extol His pre-eminence (Col. 1:18), and submit themselves to His will (Mark 3:35; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 6:6; Heb. 10:36; 1 John 2:17), with the understanding that sometimes that submission includes suffering.

This honoring of Christ as Lord is not external, but in the hearts of true worshipers—even when they must face unjust suffering. That submission to and trust in the perfect purposes of the sovereign Lord yields courage, boldness, and fortitude to triumph through the most adverse situations.

A Readiness to Defend the Faith

always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; (3:15b)

It is not just endurance through the blessing of suffering that believers are to submit to; there is also the opportunity to defend the truth when they are being persecuted. Christians must be ready to make a defense of the faith. The Greek term for defense (apologia) is the word from which the English terms apology and apologetics derive. It often means a formal defense in a judicial courtroom (cf. Acts 25:16; 2 Tim. 4:16), but Paul also used the word informally to denote his ability to answer those who questioned him (Phil. 1:16). Always indicates believers’ need for constant preparedness and readiness to respond, whether in a formal courtroom or informally, to everyone who asks them to give an account for why they live and believe the way they do. Account is simply logos, “word,” or “message,” and it calls saints to be able at the time someone asks (present tense) to give the right words in response to questions about the gospel.

The gospel is identified as the hope that is in believers. Hope is synonymous with the Christian faith because the motive for believers’ embracing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is their anticipation of escaping hell and entering eternal glory (cf. Acts 26:6; Eph. 1:18; 4:4; Col. 1:23; Heb. 10:23). Thus hope becomes the focal point of any rational explanation believers should be able to provide regarding their salvation. (For further insights into the meaning of hope, see the discussion of 1:3 in chapter 2 of this volume.)

The believer’s defense of this hope before the unbeliever who asks must be firm and uncompromising, but at the same time conveyed with gentleness and reverence. Gentleness refers to meekness or humility, not in the sense of weakness but in the sense of not being dominant or overbearing (cf. Eph. 4:15, “speaking the truth in love”). The Lord Himself was characterized by this virtue, as was Paul: “Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:1a).

Reverence expresses devotion to God, a deep regard for His truth, and even respect for the person listening (Col. 4:6; 2 Tim. 2:24–26).

Christians who cannot present a biblically clear explanation of their faith (cf. 1 Thess. 5:19–22; 1 John 2:14) will be insecure when strongly challenged by unbelievers (cf. Eph. 4:14–15). In some cases that insecurity can undermine their assurance of salvation. The world’s attacks can overwhelm those who have not “put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:8; cf. Eph. 6:10–17).[2]


3:15 In the last part of verse 14 and in this verse, Peter quotes from Isaiah 8:12b, 13, which says: “Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.” Someone has said, “We fear God so little because we fear man so much.”

The Isaiah passage speaks of The Lord of hosts as the One to be reverenced. Quoting it, Peter by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says, sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.

To reverence the Lord means to make Him the Sovereign of our lives. All we do and say should be in His will, for His pleasure, and for His glory. The lordship of Christ should dominate every area of our lives—our possessions, our occupation, our library, our marriage, our spare time—nothing can be excluded.

Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. This applies primarily to times when Christians are being persecuted because of their faith. The consciousness of the presence of the Lord Christ should impart a holy boldness and inspire the believer to witness a good confession.

The verse is also applicable to everyday life. People often ask us questions which quite naturally open the door to speak to them about the Lord. We should be ready to tell them what great things the Lord has done for us. This witnessing should be done in either case with gentleness and reverence. There should be no trace of harshness, bitterness or flippancy when we speak of our Savior and Lord.[3]


3:15 sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. The meaning is “set apart in your hearts Christ as Lord.” The heart is the sanctuary in which He prefers to be worshiped. Live in submissive communion with the Lord Jesus, loving and obeying Him—and you have nothing to fear. always being ready to make a defense. The Eng. word “apologetics” comes from the Gr. word here translated “defense.” Peter is using the word in an informal sense (cf. Php 1:16, 17) and is insisting that the believer must understand what he believes and why one is a Christian, and then be able to articulate one’s beliefs humbly, thoughtfully, reasonably, and biblically. the hope that is in you. Salvation with its anticipation of eternal glory.[4]


3:15 “Sanctify” means “set apart.” Having established a special dwelling for God in the heart, the Christian ought to be ready always to give an answer to those who seek a reason for his hope. The word “defense” is apologia (Gk.), from which the English word “apology” is derived. However, closer to the intent of Greek thought is the idea of Christian “apologetics,” an organized, thoughtful defense of the faith. The believer’s task is to know well the truths of the faith and to prepare to present them in a persuasive fashion.[5]


3:15 sanctify the Lord God: Believers should acknowledge the eternal holiness of Christ by revering Him as the Lord of the universe who is in control of all things. to give a defense: Peter assumes that the Christian faith will be falsely accused. He therefore encourages Christians to have rational answers to respond to those false accusations. Meekness is the same term translated gentle in v. 4. Meekness is not weakness. Scripture indicates that both Moses and Christ were meek men; however, they were certainly not weak men. Fear implies a high degree of reverence or respect.[6]


3:15. In their hearts Christians are to set apart Christ as Lord. Alexander Maclaren wrote, “Only he who can say, ‘The Lord is the strength of my life’ can go on to say, ‘Of whom shall I be afraid?’ ” (Expositions of Holy Scriptures, 16:42) Christians should overcome fear by sanctifying (hagiasate, “make separate from others”) Christ as their Lord (kyrion). As a result Christians should always be prepared (hetoimoi, “ready”; cf. 1:5) to give … the reason (apologian, the “defense” which a defendant makes before a judge; cf. Acts 22:1; 25:16) for their hope in Christ. Such an oral defense should be consistent with one’s “set-apart” conduct.[7]


3:15 sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: Be sure you are filled with His Spirit and have no attitude contrary to love. We should give our testimony with meekness (humility) toward others and with fear (reverence) toward God for what He has done. See article “Noah’s Ark.”[8]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 119). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 200–202). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2271). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Pe 3:15). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., 1 Pe 3:15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1685). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[7] Raymer, R. M. (1985). 1 Peter. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 850). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[8] The Open Bible: New King James Version. (1998). (electronic ed., 1 Pe 3:15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

April 12 – Leaving No Cause

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed.

1 Peter 3:15

 

It’s not likely, but according to the apostle Peter, there is a remote possibility that you may suffer for being righteous. Indeed, many Christians suffered for their obedience to Christ in the early church, but others suffered for their disobedience. When a Christian disobeys God’s Word, the world senses a greater justification and freedom for hostility. Even godly Christians should not be surprised or afraid when the world treats them with hostility.

A passion for goodness is no guarantee against persecution. Doing good only reduces the likelihood of it. No one did more good than Jesus, yet a hostile world eventually killed Him. Nevertheless, your life should be above reproach so critics will have no justification for any accusations against you.[1]


A Devotion to Christ

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, (3:15a)

Here the apostle again alludes to Isaiah 8:13, “Sanctify the Lord of hosts” (kjv). When believers sanctify Christ as Lord in their hearts, they affirm their submission to His control, instruction, and guidance. In so doing they also declare and submit to God’s sovereign majesty (cf. Deut. 4:35; 32:4; 1 Kings 8:27; Pss. 90:2; 92:15; 99:9; 145:3, 5; Isa. 43:10; Rom. 8:28; 11:33) and demonstrate that they fear only Him (Josh. 24:22–24; Pss. 22:23; 27:1; 34:9; 111:10; 119:46, 63; Prov. 14:26; Matt. 4:10).

Sanctify (hagiasate) means “to set apart,” or “consecrate.” But in this context it also connotes giving the primary place of adoration, exaltation, and worship to Christ. Believers who sanctify Christ set Him apart from all others as the sole object of their love, reverence, loyalty, and obedience (cf. Rom. 13:14; Phil. 2:5–11; 3:14; Col. 3:4; 2 Peter 1:10–11). They recognize His perfection (Heb. 7:26–28), magnify His glory (Acts 7:55–56; cf. Rev. 1:12–18), extol His pre-eminence (Col. 1:18), and submit themselves to His will (Mark 3:35; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 6:6; Heb. 10:36; 1 John 2:17), with the understanding that sometimes that submission includes suffering.

This honoring of Christ as Lord is not external, but in the hearts of true worshipers—even when they must face unjust suffering. That submission to and trust in the perfect purposes of the sovereign Lord yields courage, boldness, and fortitude to triumph through the most adverse situations.

A Readiness to Defend the Faith

always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; (3:15b)

It is not just endurance through the blessing of suffering that believers are to submit to; there is also the opportunity to defend the truth when they are being persecuted. Christians must be ready to make a defense of the faith. The Greek term for defense (apologia) is the word from which the English terms apology and apologetics derive. It often means a formal defense in a judicial courtroom (cf. Acts 25:16; 2 Tim. 4:16), but Paul also used the word informally to denote his ability to answer those who questioned him (Phil. 1:16). Always indicates believers’ need for constant preparedness and readiness to respond, whether in a formal courtroom or informally, to everyone who asks them to give an account for why they live and believe the way they do. Account is simply logos, “word,” or “message,” and it calls saints to be able at the time someone asks (present tense) to give the right words in response to questions about the gospel.

The gospel is identified as the hope that is in believers. Hope is synonymous with the Christian faith because the motive for believers’ embracing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is their anticipation of escaping hell and entering eternal glory (cf. Acts 26:6; Eph. 1:18; 4:4; Col. 1:23; Heb. 10:23). Thus hope becomes the focal point of any rational explanation believers should be able to provide regarding their salvation. (For further insights into the meaning of hope, see the discussion of 1:3 in chapter 2 of this volume.)

The believer’s defense of this hope before the unbeliever who asks must be firm and uncompromising, but at the same time conveyed with gentleness and reverence. Gentleness refers to meekness or humility, not in the sense of weakness but in the sense of not being dominant or overbearing (cf. Eph. 4:15, “speaking the truth in love”). The Lord Himself was characterized by this virtue, as was Paul: “Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:1a).

Reverence expresses devotion to God, a deep regard for His truth, and even respect for the person listening (Col. 4:6; 2 Tim. 2:24–26).

Christians who cannot present a biblically clear explanation of their faith (cf. 1 Thess. 5:19–22; 1 John 2:14) will be insecure when strongly challenged by unbelievers (cf. Eph. 4:14–15). In some cases that insecurity can undermine their assurance of salvation. The world’s attacks can overwhelm those who have not “put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:8; cf. Eph. 6:10–17).[2]


3:15 In the last part of verse 14 and in this verse, Peter quotes from Isaiah 8:12b, 13, which says: “Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.” Someone has said, “We fear God so little because we fear man so much.”

The Isaiah passage speaks of The Lord of hosts as the One to be reverenced. Quoting it, Peter by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says, sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.

To reverence the Lord means to make Him the Sovereign of our lives. All we do and say should be in His will, for His pleasure, and for His glory. The lordship of Christ should dominate every area of our lives—our possessions, our occupation, our library, our marriage, our spare time—nothing can be excluded.

Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. This applies primarily to times when Christians are being persecuted because of their faith. The consciousness of the presence of the Lord Christ should impart a holy boldness and inspire the believer to witness a good confession.

The verse is also applicable to everyday life. People often ask us questions which quite naturally open the door to speak to them about the Lord. We should be ready to tell them what great things the Lord has done for us. This witnessing should be done in either case with gentleness and reverence. There should be no trace of harshness, bitterness or flippancy when we speak of our Savior and Lord.[3]


3:15 sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. The meaning is “set apart in your hearts Christ as Lord.” The heart is the sanctuary in which He prefers to be worshiped. Live in submissive communion with the Lord Jesus, loving and obeying Him—and you have nothing to fear. always being ready to make a defense. The Eng. word “apologetics” comes from the Gr. word here translated “defense.” Peter is using the word in an informal sense (cf. Php 1:16, 17) and is insisting that the believer must understand what he believes and why one is a Christian, and then be able to articulate one’s beliefs humbly, thoughtfully, reasonably, and biblically. the hope that is in you. Salvation with its anticipation of eternal glory.[4]


3:15 “Sanctify” means “set apart.” Having established a special dwelling for God in the heart, the Christian ought to be ready always to give an answer to those who seek a reason for his hope. The word “defense” is apologia (Gk.), from which the English word “apology” is derived. However, closer to the intent of Greek thought is the idea of Christian “apologetics,” an organized, thoughtful defense of the faith. The believer’s task is to know well the truths of the faith and to prepare to present them in a persuasive fashion.[5]


3:15 sanctify the Lord God: Believers should acknowledge the eternal holiness of Christ by revering Him as the Lord of the universe who is in control of all things. to give a defense: Peter assumes that the Christian faith will be falsely accused. He therefore encourages Christians to have rational answers to respond to those false accusations. Meekness is the same term translated gentle in v. 4. Meekness is not weakness. Scripture indicates that both Moses and Christ were meek men; however, they were certainly not weak men. Fear implies a high degree of reverence or respect.[6]


3:15. In their hearts Christians are to set apart Christ as Lord. Alexander Maclaren wrote, “Only he who can say, ‘The Lord is the strength of my life’ can go on to say, ‘Of whom shall I be afraid?’ ” (Expositions of Holy Scriptures, 16:42) Christians should overcome fear by sanctifying (hagiasate, “make separate from others”) Christ as their Lord (kyrion). As a result Christians should always be prepared (hetoimoi, “ready”; cf. 1:5) to give … the reason (apologian, the “defense” which a defendant makes before a judge; cf. Acts 22:1; 25:16) for their hope in Christ. Such an oral defense should be consistent with one’s “set-apart” conduct.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 117). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 200–202). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2271). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Pe 3:15). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., 1 Pe 3:15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1685). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[7] Raymer, R. M. (1985). 1 Peter. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 850). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

APRIL 11 – IF MY ACCOUNT WERE CLOSED TOMORROW

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

—Psalm 103:1-2

Increasing knowledge of God’s ways and works, especially His wise and tender treatment of His redeemed children, fills me with ever-mounting degrees of admiration and praise. It is becoming every day easier to understand experientially the hosannas and hallelujahs which make up such a large portion of the sacred Scriptures. They are the normal response of the heart to the manifold goodness of God, and it would, in fact, be hard to understand their omission if they were not found there.

While I have no doubt that the grace which has followed me since my boyhood will continue with me while I live on earth and for an eternity after, I have enjoyed already enough of God’s benefits to supply me with matter for constant praise for at least a thousand years to come. If God were to close my account tomorrow and refuse any longer to honor me with His favors, the circumstances of His grace to me so far would require that I should still thank Him unceasingly with tears of honest gratitude. TET071-072

Lord, don’t ever let me take for granted the many blessings You send my way. Give me a thankful heart today and be pleased with my offering of praise. Amen. [1]


1–2 Praise of God begins with the self. As the psalmist exhorts himself to praise the Lord with his “soul” (nepeš, GK 5883; vv. 1–2) and “inmost being,” he has nothing else in mind than a full commitment to the act of giving thanks. There is no thought of a separation between “soul” and “inmost being” (lit., “my inner parts”) or between “soul” and “body,” because in Hebraic thought the worshiper praises the Lord with his or her entire being.

The praise of God is focused on “his holy name.” The “name” of the Lord calls to remembrance all of his perfections and acts of deliverance (“all his benefits,” v. 2; see Reflections, p. 271, The Perfections of Yahweh; p. 603, The Mighty Acts of Yahweh). The Lord had revealed to Israel his name, “Yahweh” (Ex 6:6–8; cf. 3:18), so that they might witness his benefits in the redemption from Egypt, the giving of the land, and the fulfillment of his promises. The psalmist recites many of the Lord’s blessings to the covenantal community (vv. 3–22). Praise is the response of awe for God while reflecting on what the Lord has done for the people of God throughout the history of redemption, for creation at large, for the community, and for oneself.

Praise also has an eschatological dimension, as the psalmist reflects on the ultimate righteousness that the Lord will establish (vv. 6, 15–19; cf. 2 Pe 3:13). In and through the divine acts in history the Lord reveals his holiness on earth (v. 1). Far from separating himself from the evil in this world, God’s acts of redemption are significant steps in reclaiming the world by and for “his holy name” and in fulfilling the ultimate plan of dwelling in the midst of his holy people (cf. Eze 48:35; Rev 22:3). The opposite of “praise” is “forgetfulness.” To “forget” (v. 2) the “benefits” (gemûl; cf. v. 10) of the Lord is to disregard his covenantal lordship (cf. Dt 4:9, 23; 6:12; 8:11; 32:18).[2]


103:1 One of the reasons we love the Psalms so much is that they verbalize so beautifully what we often feel but cannot find words to express. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of the 103rd. In its majestic cadences of thanksgiving, we read sentiments that mirror our own deepest emotions of gratitude. Here we call on our soul to bless the Lord—and by our soul we mean not just the non-material part of our nature but the entire person. Spirit, soul, and body are cued in to bless the holy name of Jehovah.

103:2 The call to worship rings out a second time, with the significant added reminder that we should forget not all His benefits. It is a needed reminder because all too often we do forget. We forget to thank Him for soundness of body, soundness of mind, sight, hearing, speech, appetite, and a host of other mercies. We take them too much for granted.[3]


How Should a Person Praise God?

I want to address a number of questions to this psalm, arranging them in such a way that the successive verses of the psalm give the answers. First, How should a person praise God? The answer of this psalm is in verses 1–2. It is with “all my inmost being” or with all my soul.

Praise the Lord, O my soul;

all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the Lord, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits.

In these verses David is rousing himself to remember God’s benefits, and he does not want to do it superficially. He wants to do it with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his strength (cf. Deut. 6:5). This is the place to begin noticing the “alls” in this psalm: “all my inmost being” (v. 1) and for “all his benefits” (v. 2), which include forgiveness for “all your sins” and the healing of “all your diseases” (v. 3). Later David will call on “all [God’s] heavenly hosts” and “all his works” to join him in his praise (vv. 21–22).

What a rebuke to much of what passes for praise in our assemblies. We come to church, but we leave our minds at home. We hear of God’s grace, but our hearts have been hardened by a critical and carping spirit. Jonathan Edwards believed that there is no true worship that does not touch the “affections.” We often are strangely unaffected, honoring God “with our lips” while our hearts are “far from him” (cf. Matt. 15:8; Isa. 29:13).[4]


103:1 Bless the Lord. Cf. 103:2, 22; 104:1, 35

103:2 forget none of His benefits. These earthly gifts from God included: 1) forgiveness of sin (v. 3), 2) recovery from sickness (v. 3), 3) deliverance from death (v. 4), 4) abundant lovingkindness and mercy (v. 4), and 5) food to sustain life (v. 5).[5]


103:1–2 Bless the Lord, O My Soul, and Do Not Forget His Benefits. Each member of the worshiping congregation urges himself to bless the Lord, i.e., to speak well of him for his abundant generosity. Thus forget not all his benefits is a crucial step in blessing the Lord, and the body of the psalm lists these benefits in order to bring each singer to an admiring gratitude.[6]


103:1 Bless Yahweh The psalmist repeats this command six times (vv. 1, 2, 20, 21, 22). The Hebrew word used here, barakh (which may be literally rendered as “to bless”), describes bestowing someone with special power or declaring Yahweh to be the source of special power. In that regard, it means praising Yahweh for who He is. Compare 106:48 and note.

bless his holy name This refers primarily to the essential character and nature of Yahweh. See 94:14 and note.[7]


103:1–2. David told himself (O my soul) to praise the Lord with all his being, that is, to put his whole heart in his praise of God’s holy name (cf. 33:21). This was certainly warranted in view of the Lord’s many benefits.[8]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 756). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 703). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 42–106: An Expositional Commentary (pp. 832–833). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 103:1–2). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1067). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 103:1). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[8] Ross, A. P. (1985). Psalms. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 867). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

APRIL 9 – “I WILL NOT FORSAKE YOU!”

And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:20

 

Men without God suffer alone and die alone in times of war and in other circumstances of life. All alone!

But it can never be said that any true soldier of the cross of Jesus Christ, no man or woman as missionary or messenger of the Truth has ever gone out to a ministry alone!

There have been many Christian martyrs—but not one of them was on that mission field all alone. Jesus Christ keeps His promise of taking them by the hand and leading them triumphantly through to the world beyond.

We can sum it up by noting that Jesus Christ asks us only to surrender to His lordship and obey His commands. When the Spirit of God deals with our young people about their own missionary responsibility, Christ assures them of His presence and power as they prepare to go: “All power is given unto Me! I am no longer in the grave. I will protect you. I will support you. I will go ahead of you. I will give you effectiveness for your witness and ministry. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations—I will never leave you nor forsake you!”

 

Thank You, Lord, that You are very near to me and my loved ones at all times.[1]


Power

“and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (28:20b)

As crucial as are the first four elements for effective fulfillment of the church’s mission, they would be useless without the last, namely, the power that the Lord Jesus Christ offers through His continuing presence with those who belong to Him. Neither the attitudes of availability, worship, and submission, nor faithful obedience to God’s Word would be possible apart from Christ’s own power working in and through us.

Idou (lo) is an interjection frequently used in the New Testament to call attention to something of special importance. Egō eimi (I am) is an emphatic form that might be rendered, “I Myself am,” calling special attention to the fact of Christ’s own presence. Jesus was saying, in effect, “Now pay special attention to what I am about to say, because it is the most important of all. I Myself, your divine, resurrected, living, eternal Lord, am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

A helpful way to keep one’s spiritual life and work in the right perspective and to continually rely on the Lord’s power rather than one’s own is to pray in ways such as these: “Lord, You care more about this matter I am facing than I do, so do what You know is best. Lord, You love this person more than I do and only You can reach into his heart and save him, so help me to witness only as You lead and empower. Lord, You are more concerned about the truth and integrity of Your holy Word than I am, so please energize my heart and mind to be true to the text I am teaching.”

Always literally means “all the days.” For the individual believer that means all the days of his life. But in its fullest meaning for the church at large it means even to the end of the age, that is, until the Lord returns bodily to judge the world and to rule His earthly kingdom. (See Matt. 13:37–50, where Christ uses the phrase “end of the age” three times to designate His second coming.)

Jesus will not visibly return to earth and display Himself before the whole world in His majestic glory and power until the end of the age. But until that time, throughout this present age, He will always be with those who belong to Him, leading them and empowering them to fulfill His Great Commission.

Some years ago, a missionary went to a primitive, pagan society. She became especially burdened for a young wife and eventually was used to win the woman to Christ. Almost as soon as she was saved the woman told the missionary with great sorrow, “I wish you could have come sooner, so my little boy could have been saved.”ll When the missionary asked why it was too late, the mother replied, “Because just a few weeks before you came to us, I offered him as a sacrifice to the gods of our tribe.”[2]


“I Will Be with You Always”

The final universal of Matthew 28:18–20 is “al[l]-ways” or, as the Greek text literally says, “all the days, even to the consummation of the age.” This is a great, empowering promise, and it is wonderfully true.

In the first chapter of Matthew, Jesus was introduced as “Immanuel”—which, we are told, means “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). Here, in the last verse, that very same promise is repeated. John Stott adds:

This was not the first time Christ had promised them his risen presence. Earlier in this Gospel … he had undertaken to be in their midst when only two or three disciples were gathered in his name. Now, as he repeats the promise of his presence, he attached it rather to their witness than to their worship. It is not only when we meet in his name, but when we go in his name, that he promises to be with us. The emphatic “I,” who pledges his presence, is the one who has universal authority and who sends forth his people.

So ends the first and longest of the Gospels: Jesus will be with us as we go. We have been given a very great task, but we do not need to attempt it in our own strength. We have the Lord’s power at work within us as well as his promise to be with us to the very end as we obey the Great Commission.[3]


But the gospel ends, not with command, but with the promise of Jesus’ comforting presence, which, if not made explicitly conditional on the disciples’ obedience to the Great Commission, is at least closely tied to it. “Surely” captures the force of idou here (see comments at 1:20). He who is introduced to us in the prologue as Immanuel, “God with us” (1:23; cf. 18:20), is still God with us, “to the very end of the age.” The English adverb “always” renders an expression found in the NT only here—namely, pasas tēs hēmeras, strictly “the whole of every day” (Moule, Idiom Book, 34). Not just the horizon is in view, but each day as we live it. This continues to the end of the age (for this expression, see comments at 13:39–40, 49; 24:3; cf. Heb 9:26)—the end of history as we know it, when the kingdom will be consummated. Perhaps there is a small hint of judgment. The church dare not drift, because it, too, rushes to the consummation. The period between the commission and the consummation is of indefinite length; but whatever its duration, it is the time of the church’s mission and of preliminary enjoyment of her Lord’s presence.[4]


Then the Savior added a promise of His presence with His disciples until the consummation of the age. They would not go forth alone or unaided. In all their service and travel, they would know the companionship of the Son of God.[5]


I am with you always. Jesus was named Immanuel (“God with us”) at His birth (1:23), and now He promises to be with His disciples to the end of the age, as the Lord had promised His presence to OT figures such as Jacob (Gen. 28:15) and Joshua (Josh. 1:5–9) and to Israel as a whole (Is. 43:5). He is with them specifically in the responsibility of teaching His will to the world.

to the end of the age. As the promise of Christ’s presence extends beyond the apostles’ life spans, so the disciple-making commission first spoken to the Eleven is now entrusted to the church, which is founded on the apostles’ confession (16:16–18).[6]


The final words of the Lord recorded by Matthew were a promise that He would be with them always until the very end of the Age. Though the Lord did not remain physically with the Eleven, His spiritual presence was with them until their tasks on earth were finished. These final words of the Lord were carried out by the apostles as they went everywhere, proclaiming the story of their Messiah, Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews.[7]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 28:19–20). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Boice, J. M. (2001). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 651–652). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 669–670). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1313). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1726). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

[7] Barbieri, L. A., Jr. (1985). Matthew. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 94). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.