Category Archives: Verse of the day

January 21, 2020 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 3:5–9). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Cure for Divisions: Glorifying God

What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. (3:5–9)

The cure for division is turning away from self and setting our eyes on the one God whom we all glorify. When our attention is focused on our Lord, as it always should be, there will be no time and no occasion for division. When our attention is on Him it cannot be on ourselves or on human leaders or human factions.

Apollos and Paul were simply the servants through whom you believed. They were the instruments, not the source, of salvation. As Paul had reminded them earlier, he had not died for them and they were not baptized in his name (1:13). The same was true, of course, for Apollos and Peter, as it is true for all other ministers of the Lord of all time. All Christians, including even such men as those, whom the Lord used so mightily, are but His servants (diakonoi), or ministers (KJV). It is not the same word (doulos) often translated “servant, slave, or bond-servant” (7:21–23; Rom. 1:1; etc.), but simply meant a menial worker of any sort, free or slave. It was often used of a table waiter or what we would now call a busboy.

Paul was saying in effect, “No one builds a movement around a waiter or busboy, or erects monuments to them. Apollos and I are just waiters or busboys whom the Lord used as servants to bring you food. You do not please us by trying to honor us. Your honor, your glory, is misplaced. You are acting like the world, like mere men. Build your monuments, give your praise to the One who prepared the spiritual food we delivered.”

The world honors and tries to immortalize great men because men are the highest thing it knows. The world cannot see beyond itself. But Christians know God—the Creator, the Sustainer, the Savior, the Lord of the universe, and the Source of all things. He alone is worthy of honor. We are but His servants, His instruments. If an artist is to be honored, you do not make a statue of his brush or his palette. It makes no more sense for Christians to glorify men, even a Paul or an Apollos, who are only brushes or palettes in the Master’s hands. Such are to be esteemed and loved for their work (1 Thess. 5:12–13), but not revered or set against each other.

Those men had their God-appointed work to do. Using agricultural metaphors, Paul acknowledged that he had planted and that Apollos watered. They had done their work well and faithfully. But the real work was the Lord’s. God was causing the growth. No man, not even the best farmer or the best horticulturist, can give physical life or growth to a plant. How much less can anyone, even an apostle, give spiritual life or growth to a person. The most that men can do in either case is to prepare and water the soil and to plant the seeds. The rest is up to God. Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. The human instrument is not anything but a tool. All the honor for the accomplishment goes to God.

Paul here mentions only two types of ministry, represented by planting and watering. His principle, however, applies to every type of ministry. In our eyes, some Christian work is more glamorous, or seems more important or more significant than other work. But if God has called a person to a work, that is the most important ministry he can have. All of God’s work is important. To glorify one kind of Christian work above another is just as carnal and divisive as to glorify one leader above another.

Our Lord’s parable in Matthew 20:1–16 demonstrates the equality of our ministries in the day of rewards. Jesus gave the parable as a corrective to the disciples’ feeling that they were more worthy than others (19:27–30). We will all equally inherit the promised eternal life, with all its blessings. That is the sameness of future glory.

He who plants and he who waters are one. All of God’s workers are one in Him, and to Him all glory should go. Recognition of our oneness in the Lord is the sure and only remedy for divisiveness. It leaves no place for the flesh and its jealousy, strife, and division.

God does not fail to recognize the faithful work of His servants. Each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. God will “give their reward to [His] bond-servants the prophets and to the saints and to those who fear [His] name, the small and the great” (Rev. 11:18). That is the uniqueness of future glory.

God rewards on the basis of labor, not success or results. A missionary may work faithfully for 40 years and see only a handful of converts. Another may work far fewer years and see far more converts. Jeremiah was one of God’s most faithful and dedicated prophets, yet he saw little result of his ministry. He was ridiculed, persecuted, and generally rejected along with the message he preached. Jonah, on the other hand, was petty and unwilling, yet through him God won the entire city of Nineveh in one brief campaign. Our usefulness and effectiveness are purely by God’s grace (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10).

It is appropriate that God’s faithful servants be appreciated and encouraged while they are on earth. But they are not to be glorified, set apart, or made the center of special groups or movements.

Paul and Apollos were but God’s fellow workers. It was not their own ministry that they worked in, but His. What divine companionship! It was God’s church in Corinth, not Paul’s or Apollos’s or Peter’s. The believers there were God’s field, God’s building, and His alone. And the glory for any good work done there, or anywhere, is also His alone.[1]

5–7 Paul begins by asking the question, “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul?” Note that the apostle here uses the neuter ti (“what”) rather than the masculine tis (“who”). What he is talking about is not the person of these two church workers but their task or function.

Both Paul and Apollos are “servants” (diakonoi, GK 1356) of the Lord through whom members of the church in Corinth became believers—some through Paul and some through Apollos. The word diakonos does not have the strong authoritative connotation that the synonym doulos (“slave,” GK 1528) has; diakonos emphasizes the voluntary service or ministry that one renders for another person or persons. This word eventually came to denote a “deacon” in the church. The ultimate diakonos, of course, is Jesus Christ, who “did not come to be served, but to serve [diakoneō, GK 1354], and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45).

But even though both Paul and Apollos are servants, this does not mean that they performed exactly the same ministry. Each had his own primary “task” or gift that he received from the Lord for his work (cf. Eph 2:12). Both, it is true, functioned in evangelism—in bringing people to salvation in Christ—but Paul’s main task was planting the seed of the gospel, while Apollos’s was to water that seed in order to help nurture the new Christians in the faith. Both, moreover, were successful in their individual tasks, yet the credit for the achievement was not to go to either of them but to the Lord, who “made [the seed/plant] grow” (v. 6; cf. v. 7).[2]

3:7 / Paul seeks to explain this seemingly clear image. Neither he nor Apollos is important. Only God matters. The Corinthians are so worldly that they cannot see beyond the human ministers, God’s servants, who labor among them in distinct but complementary and equally necessary ways. If there are differences between God’s servants, those differences exist because God has assigned different tasks to his workers. The tasks are important, but there is no reason to esteem one of God’s servants more than another. Rather, God is the one with whom the Corinthians are to be concerned and the one to whom the Corinthians are to give their devotion (only God … makes things grow).[3]

7. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who supplies the water is anything, but only God causes the increase.

Verse 7 supplies the conclusion to the preceding verse (v. 6): not man but God receives the honor and glory for the work performed in the church. Paul continues to use the imagery borrowed from agriculture by referring to “the one who plants” and “the one who supplies the water.” These two, however, do not receive credit, even though their labor is vital. God receives his full due. In the Greek, the word Theos (God) stands last in the sentence and thus receives emphasis.

Notice that in this conclusion, Paul does not mention any personal names. He is not interested in names but in results. The work of preaching and teaching the gospel that is performed everywhere can succeed only if God grants his blessing. The Corinthians must see the hand of God in the work accomplished by the ministers of the Word. The ministers are nothing in comparison to God. Should God desire to raise up a church without the aid of preachers, he could do so. But he employs ministers to effect the growth of the church (see Rom. 10:14). Paul is not deprecating the work to which preachers are called. Not at all! However, he purposely omits personal names to show the readers that not the preacher but God is important.[4]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 73–75). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 283–284). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Soards, M. L. (2011). 1 Corinthians (p. 70). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 18, p. 106). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

January 21, 2020 Morning Verse Of The Day

Proof of His Divine Love

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (14:28–31)

The fourth proof of Jesus’ deity was His demonstration of divine love. Although Mark and John report Jesus’ walking on the water, only Matthew tells of this incident concerning Peter.

Peter’s if did not reflect doubt that it was actually his Lord, because going out onto the water to join an unidentified ghost was the last thing Peter would have done. He was naturally impetuous and brash, and more than once his overconfidence got him into trouble—including trouble with the Lord. But it would have taken more than brashness for this life-long fisherman to have ventured out on the water without benefit of a boat, because no one on board better knew the dangers of Galilee storms than Peter. He had probably been thrown into the water at times by high winds or waves and had seen others experience the same trauma. He was no fool, and it is highly unlikely that impetuosity would have so easily overridden his reason and instinctive caution.

It seems much more probable that Peter was overjoyed to see Jesus and that his supreme concern was to be safely with Him. Mere impetuosity might have caused him to jump out of the boat, expecting Jesus somehow to come to his rescue. But he knew better, and he therefore asked the Lord, Command me to come to You on the water. He knew Jesus had the power to enable him to walk on the water, but he did not presume to attempt the feat without His express instruction. Peter’s request was an act of affection built on confident faith. He did not ask to walk on water for the sake of doing something spectacular, but because it was the way to get to Jesus.

Peter did many things for which he can be faulted. But he is sometimes faulted for things that reflect love, courage, and faith as much as brashness or cowardice. For instance, although he denied the Lord while in the courtyard during Jesus’ trial, he was nevertheless there, as close to Him as he could get. The rest of the disciples were nowhere to be found. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter’s suggestion was unwise but it was prompted by sincere devotion: “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Matt. 17:4). He genuinely loved Jesus and sincerely wanted to serve and please Him. Peter did not resist Jesus’ washing his feet because of pride, but because, in his deep humility, he could not conceive of His Lord washing the feet of anyone so unworthy. And when Jesus explained the significance of what He was doing, Peter said, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head” (John 13:9).

Peter was continually in the Lord’s shadow and footsteps. By reading between the lines of the gospel accounts it is not difficult to imagine that Peter sometimes followed so closely behind Jesus that he bumped into Him when He stopped. Peter sensed in Jesus’ presence a wonderful safety and comfort, and that is where Peter now wanted to be. It was safer to be with Jesus on the water than to be without Him in the boat.

Peter’s love for Jesus was imperfect and weak, but it was real. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, and each time Peter responded affirmatively. Jesus did not contradict Peter’s answer but reminded him of his obligation to care for his Master’s sheep and warned him of the great cost his love would demand (John 21:15–18). Tradition has it that when Peter was about to be crucified, he requested being put on the cross upside down, not feeling worthy to die in the same way as his Lord.

Jesus’ telling Peter to come confirms the disciple’s right motive. Jesus never invites, much less commands, a person to do anything sinful. Nor is He ever a party to pride or presumption. With the greatest of compassion, Jesus told Peter to come, highly pleased that he wanted to be with his Lord.

As much as anything else, it was Peter’s great love for Christ that made him the leader of the disciples. He appears to have been the closest to Christ, and is always named first in lists of the twelve. Just as the Lord never rejects weak faith, but accepts it and builds on it, He also never rejects weak and imperfect love. With great patience and care He takes the love of His children and, through trials and hardships as well as successes and victories, builds that love into greater conformity to His own love.

Jesus’ telling Peter, “Come!” was an act of love. John declared, “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us.” In fact, he goes on to say, “God is love” (1 John 4:16; cf. v. 8). It is God’s nature to be loving, just as it is water’s nature to be wet and the sun’s to be bright and hot. He loves his own with an infinite, uninfluenced, unqualified, unchanging, unending, and perfect love.

Christians most perfectly reflect their heavenly Father when they are loving, especially to each other. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar,” John continues to explain; “for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).

Although Peter was sincere, he did not comprehend the reality or the extremity of what he was asking to do. From the relative safety of the boat the feat did not seem so terrifying; but once Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus, the situation appeared radically different. Peter temporarily took His eyes off the Lord and, seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” His faith was enough to get him out of the boat, but it was not enough to carry him across the water.

Faith is strengthened by its being taken to extremities it has never faced before. Such strengthening is basic to Christian growth and maturity. “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial,” James says; “for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). The Lord takes us as far as our faith will go, and when it ends we begin to sink. It is then that we call out to Him and He again demonstrates His faithfulness and His power, and our faith learns to extend that much further. As we trust God in the faith we have, we discover its limitations; but we also discover what it can yet become.

When Peter was beginning to sink, he was probably fully clothed and would have had great difficulty swimming through the high waves. And in his fright he could think of nothing but drowning. But as soon as he cried out … “Lord, save me,” he was safe, because immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him.

When Jesus rebuked him, saying, O you of little faith, why did you doubt? Peter must have wondered at the question. The reason for his doubt seemed obvious. He was bone weary from rowing most of the night, scared to death by the storm and then by what he thought was a ghost, and now it seemed he was about to drown before he could reach the Lord. He had never been in such a situation before, and it may be that his actually walking a few feet on the water added to his shock.

But Peter’s weak faith was better than no faith; and, as in the courtyard when he denied the Lord, at least he was there and not holding back like the rest. He at least started toward Jesus, and when he faltered, the Lord took him the rest of the way.

Jesus had been interceding for Peter and the others while He was on the mountain, and now He came directly to their aid in the midst of the storm. The Lord goes before us and He goes with us. When we get frustrated, anxious, bewildered, and frightened, Satan tempts us to wonder why God allows such things to happen to his children. And if we keep our attention on those things we will begin to sink just as surely as Peter did. But if we cry out to the Lord for help, He will come to our rescue just as surely as He did to Peter’s.

Peter would one day write, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6–7).[1]

28–32 See introductory comments above on why Matthew may have added this rider to the story as told by the other evangelists. That Jesus has authority to share with someone else his miraculous ability to walk on the water adds a further dimension to the supernatural power he has already displayed. But the focus of this story is on Peter, who displays a characteristic mixture of attitudes: he will not attempt the walk without Jesus’ direct instruction, but given that instruction he is unable to carry it through because he lacks the necessary faith. Desire to emulate Jesus’ miracle conflicts with the experienced fisherman’s realistic assessment of the risk (“when he saw the strong wind”).

The text as printed above suggests that at first Peter was successful in walking on the water and had already reached Jesus when he ran into trouble. But the alternative reading (“to come” instead of “and came;” see p. 566, n. 4) would express intention rather than actual achievement. In that case it has been suggested that the preceding aorist verb “walked” might be taken not so much as a simple statement of fact but rather as an “inceptive aorist,” so that the whole clause would mean “stepped onto the water intending to come to Jesus.” On such a reading the attempt was a failure from the start, and Jesus had to rescue Peter as soon as he was in the water.15 But the “inceptive aorist” normally denotes the beginning of a continuing state rather than a failed attempt; the desired sense would have been better expressed by an imperfect, which often means “tried to.” Most interpreters, whichever reading they adopt in v. 29b, agree that we are intended to see Peter’s attempt as initially successful, until doubt overcame him.

The verb for “doubt” will recur in 28:17, its only other use in the NT. We shall note there that it denotes not so much a theological uncertainty or unbelief, but a practical hesitation, wavering, being in two minds. Peter’s problem was not so much lack of intellectual conviction as the conflict between the evidence of his senses and the invitation of Jesus. To be “faithless” is (as in 6:30; 8:26) to lack the practical confidence in God and/or Jesus which is required in those who seek his supernatural provision. But here, as in 8:26 (note the same urgent appeal, “Lord, save!”), Jesus overrides that lack of faith, and saves Peter as he had saved the “faithless” disciples in the previous storm.18 The sudden dropping of the wind echoes the conclusion of that previous story.[2]

Salvation (14:28–31)

These verses are peculiar to Matthew; i.e., they belong to ‘M.’ Recalling that discussion (pp. 86–90), we may note that the present material (i) is based on Matthew’s personal recollections (as one of the twelve, he was almost certainly in the boat), together with those of other disciples, notably Peter in this instance; and (ii) is included because it well serves the author’s theological and pastoral purpose (as we shall see).

Answering (the verb apokrinomai) Jesus, Peter says: ‘Lord [Kyrie], if it is you [ei sy ei], command me to come to you over the waters [epi ta hydata]’ (Matt. 14:28). What Peter means by Kyrie here and in 14:30, we reserve for comments on 14:32–33. What of the conditional clause ei sy ei? If, as is probable, Peter is already certain of the figure’s identity, the thought is ‘if it is you, and I know it is.’ But, possibly Peter’s being absolutely sure awaits the answer to his request. In any case, his faith is already overcoming his fear. Jesus has not yet issued a command; and there is no precedent for a disciple’s walking on the water. Yet Peter is confident that Jesus’ mighty word can supply what it commands.

In accord with Peter’s request—‘command me to come [elthein]’ (14:28b)—Jesus said, ‘Come [Elthe],’ an aorist imperative of command (from erchomai) to match the preceding aorist infinitive. Having climbed out (the verb katabainō) of the boat, Peter in exact obedience ‘walked [or began to walk] over the waters [epi ta hydata, as in 14:28b] and came [ēlthen] to Jesus’ (14:29b). ‘But seeing the [strong] wind, he was afraid [ephobēthē]; and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord [Kyrie], save me [sōson me]!” ’ (14:30). In trust and obedience Peter has walked from the boat over the waters into Jesus’ presence (when Peter starts to sink, Jesus is close enough to grasp him immediately; 14:31). The fear that then grips Peter is understandable. He not only hears the wind, he sees it (the verb blepō): i.e., he witnesses its effects on the waves. Even in the boat with the other disciples, he has reason to fear a storm at night; here on the heaving waters, he is more vulnerable than ever. The cause of his fear is the storm; its effect is that he begins to sink—whereupon he cries out (krazō, the verb used in 14:26b) for Jesus to save him (the verb sōzō).

‘Jesus immediately [eutheōs] stretched out [ekteinas] his hand, took hold of [epelabeto] him and said [legei] to him, “You of little faith [Oligopiste], why did you doubt [edistasas]?” ’ (14:31). Jesus’ words to Peter are dramatic: note the shift from the aorist verb epelabeto to the present legei. Jesus says Peter has little faith (oligopistos), not that he has no faith (apistos, an adjective Jesus uses in 17:17). He has just exercised remarkable faith, a faith not shared by the other disciples. Yet Peter’s faith is diminished by his doubt (the verb distazō); namely, doubts about the adequacy of Jesus to deal with frightening conditions beyond Peter’s control.

Has not Peter witnessed Jesus’ saving power in countless miracles heretofore? Has he forgotten what happened earlier on this lake in very similar circumstances (8:23–27)? Did not he and the other disciples, fearing for their lives amid a great storm, cry out (as here) ‘Lord, save [Kyrie sōson]!’? and did not Jesus there (as here) call them men of ‘little faith [oligopistoi],’ because they thought that crisis beyond his control? Given that antecedent revelation, Peter’s present doubt, while understandable, is inexcusable. But it is not unforgivable. Let it be emphasized that Peter exercises his ‘little faith’ by crying out to Jesus for salvation (as did the disciples earlier), and that Jesus saves Peter (as he did the disciples) even when aware of his ‘little faith.’

As noted (p. 766), this text well serves Matthew’s theological and pastoral purpose. 1. Let the church heed this portrait of Jesus, the mighty sovereign of the sea, who rules both church and world (16:18; 28:18). Let him be recognized as the faithful Lord who alone is worthy of one’s ultimate trust and obedience, and who both rebukes and saves doubtful and wavering disciples. 2. Let the church heed this portrait of Peter, the single disciple named here (14:28, 29) and the one who will become increasingly prominent in the chapters to follow. Let Christians take note of his fear and its causes (the storm and especially the figure on the sea); and let them, when beset by various terrors, emulate Peter by trusting and obeying Jesus. Let Peter’s failure be a sober warning, lest amid unrelenting trials and life-threatening persecutions they doubt Jesus’ ability and willingness to defend and save them. But, let Christians also remember that it is the doubting and failing Peter whom Jesus saves; and let them, taking heart from their own experience of such mercy, be strengthened in their resolve to persevere in trusting and obeying Jesus the Lord.47[3]

14:28–33 / The story of Peter’s attempt to walk to his Master on the water is recorded only by Matthew (vv. 28–31). It is sometimes taken as an acted parable of Peter’s career (i.e., in his pride he fell and had to be rescued and restored by Jesus). Christian elaborations on the theme would see the boat as the church, the water as the hostile world, and Jesus descending from the mountain as the ascended Lord coming to dispel the fears of the troubled church. Once again we are reminded that presuppositions control exegesis. Our understanding of the text is conditioned by allowing it to speak for itself. Filson reaches for middle ground, writing, “These miracle stories have grown in the telling, but they are nearer the truth than a gospel narrative stripped of miracles and high faith” (p. 174).

Peter asks the Lord that if it is really he, to command him to come to him across the water (note: epi with the accusative; cf. v. 25, where it was suggested by some that epi with the accusative meant “toward the sea”—hardly possible in vv. 28 and 29). In response to Jesus’ word of command, Peter got down out of the boat (v. 29) and started toward Jesus. When he saw how strong the wind was, he lost his courage. Beginning to sink, he called out, Lord, save me. Jesus immediately reached out and caught him, saying, You of little faith, “What made you lose your nerve like that?” (Phillips). When both Peter and Jesus climbed into the boat, the wind died down (v. 32). Matthew records the worshiping response of the disciples, who exclaimed, Truly you are the Son of God. This profession of faith in Jesus anticipates Peter’s great confession at Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:16). It is often pointed out that Mark ends his account noting that the disciples were astounded because they had not gained any insight from the feeding of the five thousand and their minds were closed (Mark 6:51–52). It is incorrect to compare this with Matthew’s account of the disciples who responded by confessing that Jesus was the Son of God. Mark’s words attach directly to the disciples’ terrified response to seeing Jesus walking on the water. Matthew records the disciples’ response to Christ’s rescue of Peter (the account of which is not included in Mark’s narrative).[4]

30. However, when he saw the wind he got scared, and as he began to sink he cried out, Lord save me. Peter “saw the wind,” that is, he saw the effect of the wind upon the billows. As long as he concentrated his attention on Jesus all went well. But the moment he took notice of the boisterous winds and the surging waters he became frightened. Had he been somewhat over confident? However that may be, his faith, though “little,” was not “lost,” for as he began to sink he cried to Jesus for help.

A most interesting person, this Peter. He seems to do nothing by halves. When he is good he is very good, when he is bad he is very bad, and when he repents he weeps bitterly. He turns from trust to doubt (14:28, 30), from clear and open profession of Jesus as the Christ to rebuking that very Christ (16:16, 22), from a vehement declaration of loyalty to base denial (26:33–35, 74), from “By no means shalt thou wash my feet ever” to “Not my feet only but also my hands and my head” (John 13:8, 9). See also John 20:4, 6; Gal. 2:11, 12. Nevertheless, by the grace and power of the Lord this “Simon” was transformed into a true “Peter.”

The Lord does not disappoint his wavering disciple, who in his distress has cried to him for help: 31. Immediately Jesus reached out his hand, grabbed him, and said to him, O man of little faith, why did you waver?

Strictly speaking it would not have been necessary for Jesus to reach out his hand to rescue Peter. A simple command would have sufficed. But was not the method which the Lord actually used reassuring? Jesus wanted Peter to feel his love as well as to experience his power. See also on 8:3 and 9:25.

The Lord calls Peter a “man of little faith.” For this expression see on 6:30. Doubt or wavering had entered Peter’s heart because for a moment he had looked away from Jesus, that is, he had failed to rest the eye of his faith upon the Master. He had not sufficiently taken to heart the comfort he should have derived from the presence, promises, power, and love of Christ.[5]

14:30–31. But only a moment later, what Peter could see with his physical eyes (the violent, stormy sea) became larger in his mind than what can be seen only through the “eyes” of a faith-filled heart. There is a healthy, respectful fear we need to have before the Lord (Prov. 1:7), but the fear we feel toward anything that seems bigger than the Lord is a sign of small faith. Peter’s underdeveloped faith feared the storm more than the Lord, so the Lord allowed him to sink into a dark, angry sea. Jesus was always teaching his disciples. Every moment, every conversation, and every demonstration were intended to develop his church’s foundational leaders.

In that moment of terror, Peter called out with the most basic expression of faith possible: Lord, save me! (cf. 8:25). The Lord loves that kind of cry, because it is a sign that the person has come to the end of self-reliance and realizes there is nowhere else to turn but to the Lord. Whether from the unbeliever who knows he is helpless on his own or from the believer who has been self-striving for years and has only met with frustration and failure the simple cry, “Save me!” is music to the Father’s ears (cf. Pss. 18:16; 69:1–3; 144:7).

The Messiah answered Peter’s cry immediately by reaching out and grabbing him. Then Jesus said calmly, You of little faith … why did you doubt? The issue here was not the amount of Peter’s faith, but Peter’s culpability. The smallest faith in the right object is effective. Jesus was chiding Peter, not his faith. The problem was that his faith was supplanted by doubt. In all this time, even Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends, had not learned to trust the king fully.

Jesus had also used the phrase you of little faith to address the disciples when he calmed the storm in 8:23–27 (also in 6:30; 16:8; Luke 12:28). Two important tests of faith for Jesus’ disciples have now happened on a stormy sea. Given the awe with which most cultures view the power of nature, Jesus knew that if they could see him as greater than nature, they would be closer to mature faith.[6]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 2, pp. 442–444). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 570–571). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.

[3] Chamblin, J. K. (2010). Matthew: A Mentor Commentary (pp. 766–768). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[4] Mounce, R. H. (2011). Matthew (pp. 145–146). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 602–603). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 222–223). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

January 21 The Poor Man’s Morning Portion

21.—But for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.—Gen. 2:20.

My soul! mark what is here said, for sure it is a sweet Scripture. Amidst all the works of God, there was not one that could be found an help meet for man. The inferior creatures could indeed minister to his bodily comfort, but not to his soul. Eve herself, with all her loveliness, must have failed in this particular. Both the woman and her husband alike needed this help to the soul. How refreshing is the thought, and what a lovely view doth it give us of God’s grace and mercy, that in the seed of the woman an help, in the fullest sense of the word, was found, both for time and eternity. Yes; blessed Jesus! in thee we trace this wonderous gift of God. Pause then, my soul! and add this thought to the vast account: The same love which fitted thee with an help meet in a Saviour, hath fitted thee, and will continue to fit thee, with the supply of all thy need. It were to be wished that every child of God would never lose sight of this certain truth—that he must have the fittest station in life, the fittest frame of mind and of body, the fittest yoke-fellow, the fittest circumstances; in short, the fittest mercies and the fittest trials; because every thing is made subservient to the divine glory in Jesus. Sweet thought! He that spared not his own Son, will, with him, freely give all things.[1]


[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Morning Portion (pp. 17–18). New York; Pittsburg: Robert Carter.

January 20, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (v. 7). Without trusting in the Lord the use of horses and chariots was useless. There was a constant temptation for God’s people to trust in human might or agencies to give deliverance. Even Moses had to learn the lesson in this respect (see Exod. 2:11–14, and Stephen’s comment in Acts 7:23–29). There could be no trusting in horses, chariots, bows, or swords (Ps. 44:5–7), but only in the Lord himself (see the use of ‘name’ already in verses 1 and 5) who was their God. Also, since the ideal condition of God’s kingdom was to be peace, consequently this was meant to be the condition of Israel as a theocracy at all times. Some in Israel clearly followed the untheocratic principle of trust in human might, against which prophets and psalmists warned.[1]

7. Now again the Church breaks out in her confidences, because of her Redeemer’s victory. And is it not so now? Do not some go down to the chariots of Egypt, and trust the reeds there found, rather than the Rock of ages? Reader, doth not every one do this, who is looking to an arm of flesh, instead of the Lord Jesus and his righteousness? See that solemn scripture, Jer. 17:5–8.[2]

7. The word boast (or ‘trust’, av, rv) is a translator’s inference, though a reasonable one; the only verb in the sentence is ‘we will make mention’ (rv). This verb is thought to have had the special meaning of proclaiming the name of God in worship, bringing his power into the midst (see on verse 1), rather as Christians invoke the name of Christ for protection or victory. But the preposition in this phrase brings it more into line with Old Testament expressions of allegiance or regard (e.g. Isa. 48:1, ‘confess’). In Joshua 23:7 it is coupled with ‘swear by’, and in our colloquial use this comes very near the sense of the opening of our verse, as when we say that a person ‘swears by’ some favourite remedy or device. Chariots and horses were the most formidable force of ancient times, but they brought memories to Israel of miraculous victories, e.g. at the Red Sea and the river Kishon (Exod. 14; Judg. 4).[3]

Ver. 7. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.Remember the name of the Lord our God:

By the name of God is meant the various properties and attributes of God. Now, whilst some trusted in earthly power, the Psalmist confides in “the name of the Lord our God.” It would seem to an ordinary observer, if he were ignorant of the Gospel, that the name of the Lord would excite terror rather than confidence. If there be good in the moral government of God, how much of suffering, evil and sorrow there are, notwithstanding. How then can confidence arise from remembering the Divine name? We distinctly admit that there are attributes of God which, because they seem arrayed against sinful beings, can hardly be supposed to be subjects of encouraging remembrance. “The name of the Lord our God” includes justice and holiness; and these are qualities from which we seem instinctively to shrink, as though we felt that they must necessarily be opposed to rebellious and polluted creatures. And so they must be. If there be certain Divine properties, the remembering of which might be comforting even to the disciple of natural religion, undoubtedly there are others which can furnish nothing but cause of disquietude, unless there be full acquaintance with the scheme of redemption. It is in respects such as these that natural theology, if it would keep its disciples at peace, must forbid their recollecting the name of the Lord their God. These are points which must be slurred over, for to examine them deeply would be to destroy all foundation of hope. But it is not so with the disciple of revealed religion. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” there is no property involved in the Divine name from which we need shrink, none which is not actually ranged on our side, if we believe on Him who gave His life a ransom for the world. Did you ever consider what emphasis there is in St. Paul’s answer to his own question, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” His answer is, “It is God that justifieth.” What is there in the fact that “it is God that justifieth,” which proves that earth, and sea, and air might be ransacked for an accuser, but that none could be found who could make good any charge against “God’s elect”? Is it not because God is the justifying agent; not this property, not that attribute of God, but God Himself—God the combination of all possible perfections? If it be God that justifieth, the justification must be that in the effecting which holiness and justice concur. And therefore is it that all accusation is silenced; for if the satisfaction made to God on our behalf hath met every attribute of God, it is not possible that there should remain place for any charge. Justice as well as love demands our acceptance. Who can condemn when the Divine Judge Himself acquits, nay, pronounces approval? You should not fail to observe that our text furnishes a great criterion, and that we ought to test by it our spiritual condition. Is it, or is it not, our habit to “remember the name of the Lord our God,” whilst others, either neglectful of religion or adopting false systems, turn bewildered to “chariots and horses”? It is, if with David we have “entered into covenant with God,” through the Mediator: it cannot be, if we are still virtually aliens, living in the darkness and rebellion of nature. Oh, we too well know that there must be some amongst you whose only happiness is in keeping God out of their thoughts, and who are glad of any excuse for not considering His nature and attributes. Any “chariot,” any “horse,” which may bear them away from the contemplation of their Maker! What a state! To be afraid of meditating on that Being before whom they must inevitably appear, and who “has power to destroy both body and soul in hell”! If the banishing Him from your thoughts could finally keep you from contact with Him in His awfulness; if there were a “chariot,” if there were a “horse,” which would bear you away from His “everlasting wrath,” we might not wonder at your perseverance in forgetting Him to the utmost of your power. Try for one hour to “remember God’s name”—“God’s name” as traced by natural theology, and yet more vividly by revealed. I know that you will be disturbed and appalled, I know that as one property after another of the Divine nature passes before you, you will shrink back, and be tempted to exclaim—Oh! for the “chariot,” oh! for the “horse,” to bear us away from this terrible God! But this is what we wish. We wish you to see in God “a consuming fire,”—a Being of terrors, and those terrors all armed to strike down and to crush you. But we do not wish you to be left in dismay; neither will you be. When “remembering the name of the Lord” has made you feel yourselves lost, you will hear with unspeakable gratitude how God laid your iniquities on His own well-beloved Son. If God out of Christ appeared to you “a consuming fire,” God in Christ should appear to you as a “reconciled Father.” (H. Melvill, B.D.)

Divine and human trust contrasted:

  1. The charge brought against those whose trust is merely human. There have been such always. Now, the guilt of such trust lies in the oversight of God,—regarding chariots and horses as sufficient in themselves. And we are inexcusable in this, because God, though invisible, is ever perceptible to the understanding. And all such trust is irrational. It has no solid foundation in reason or conscience.
  2. The purpose. “We will remember,” &c. The trust of the Christian begins in memory. It acts as a stimulant to the believer, and loosens every other bond and makes it easy to let go all which the world gives.

III. The consequences. “They are brought down, … but we,” &c. Now, the results of trust in human power are sad and unexpected. It was so with Pharaoh and his army. But they are in accordance with the natural course of things. If we sow to the flesh we shall of the flesh reap corruption. But the Christian trust issues in this—“We are risen, and stand upright.” (W. D. Horwood.)

Chariots and horses:

  1. The vanity and the variety of earthly dependences. “Some trust in chariots and horses.” They were the appendages of war; hence were forbidden to Israel, for war was not their trade. They had no standing army. They were always to be conscious of the inadequacy of their own resources, and thus to be taught to trust implicitly in God. Nor were they to be exposed to the temptation of conquest. They were never so triumphant as when trusting in God alone. But the text points to the tendency which men have to trust in the creature rather than in the Creator (Jer. 17:5–8).
  2. The foundation of Christian peace and courage. “But we will remember,” &c. The name of the Lord is perpetually recurring in Scripture and has ever a deep and portentous meaning. The name of Jesus has now the same energy. “The Lord our God”—all the best blessings of time and eternity belong to the covenant of grace which is in Jesus. Is God our God? Can we adopt the words of the text? (W. G. Lewis.)

Trust in chariots and horses vain:

France, in the Revolution, hung up her motto—“Liberty, equality, fraternity.” Napoleon changed it to “Infantry, cavalry, artillery,” says Punch.

Christian loyalty:

Every good Christian is necessarily a loyal man. The subject now considered is, the insufficiency of all human expedients to secure happiness for a people unless God be honoured in the councils of their rulers, and His name be remembered by themselves. Human policy, if separated from Divine wisdom, leads to ruin and disgrace; but they rise and stand upright who “remember the name of the Lord our God.” In what manner is a nation called upon to remember the name of the Lord our God? The right administration of justice and the true worship of God are the only sufficient securities for the permanent happiness of a state. It is the peculiar province of the law of God to instill a hatred of sin. Human laws may bind the hand, fetter the foot, and imprison the body, but nothing can control the heart, and curb the thoughts, and purify the motives by which we are influenced except the Spirit of God. He alone can subjugate the whole man. (A. Watson, M.A.)[4]

7. Contrasts frequently bring out the truth vividly, and here the church sets forth the creature-confidences of carnal men in contrast with her reliance upon the Prince Immanuel and the invisible Jehovah. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses.” Chariots and horses make an imposing show, and with their rattling, and dust, and fine caparisons, make so great a figure that vain man is much taken with them; yet the discerning eye of faith sees more in an invisible God than in all these. The most dreaded war-engine of David’s day was the war-chariot, armed with scythes, which mowed down men like grass: this was the boast and glory of the neighbouring nations; but the saints considered the name of Jehovah to be a far better defence. As the Israelites might not keep horses, it was natural for them to regard the enemy’s cavalry with more than usual dread. It is, therefore, all the greater evidence of faith that the bold songster can here disdain even the horse of Egypt in comparison with the Lord of hosts. Alas, how many in our day who profess to be the Lord’s are as abjectly dependent upon their fellow-men or upon an arm of flesh in some shape or other, as if they had never known the name of Jehovah at all. Jesus, be thou alone our rock and refuge, and never may we mar the simplicity of our faith. “We will remember the name of the Lord our God.” “Our God” in covenant, who has chosen us and whom we have chosen; this God is our God. The name of our God is Jehovah, and this should never be forgotten; the self-existent, independent, immutable, ever-present, all-filling I AM. Let us adore that matchless name, and never dishonour it by distrust or creature-confidence. Reader, you must know it before you can remember it. May the blessed Spirit reveal it graciously to your soul![5]

[1] Harman, A. (2011). Psalms: A Mentor Commentary (Vol. 1–2, pp. 209–210). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[2] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary: Job–Psalms (Vol. 4, p. 223). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Kidner, D. (1973). Psalms 1–72: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 15, p. 120). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[4] Exell, J. S. (1909). The Biblical Illustrator: The Psalms (Vol. 1, pp. 400–402). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company; Francis Griffiths.

[5] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 1-26 (Vol. 1, pp. 302–303). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

January 20, 2020 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

18:31 For who is God besides the Lord? This is not a rhetorical question, because David answers it in military language with a description of what God does (18:32–36).[1]

31. The confident monotheism and the recurrent use of the word rock (ṣûr; cf. verses 2, 46) point to the Song of Moses as part of David’s inspiration for this psalm. With verse 30 compare Moses’ words ‘The Rock, his work is perfect’, and with verse 31, ‘Their rock is not as our Rock’ (Deut. 32:4, 31). [2]

31. Having mentioned his God, the Psalmist’s heart burns, and his words sparkle; he challenges heaven and earth to find another being worthy of adoration or trust in comparison with Jehovah. His God, as Matthew Henry says, is a None-such. The idols of the heathen he scorns to mention, snuffing them all out as mere nothings when Deity is spoken of. “Who is God save the Lord?” Who else creates, sustains, foresees, and overrules? Who but he is perfect in every attribute, and glorious in every act? To whom but Jehovah should creatures bow? Who else can claim their service and their love? “Who is a rock save our God?” Where can lasting hopes be fixed? Where can the soul find rest? Where is stability to be found? Where is strength to be discovered? Surely in the Lord Jehovah alone can we find rest and refuge.[3]

[1] Bullock, C. H. (2015). Psalms 1–72. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (Vol. 1, pp. 129–130). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Kidner, D. (1973). Psalms 1–72: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 15, p. 112). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[3] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 1-26 (Vol. 1, p. 245). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

January 20, 2020 Morning Verse Of The Day

The Lord’s Glory

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (3:20–21)

In culmination of all he has been declaring about God’s limitless provision for His children, Paul gives this great doxology, a paean of praise and glory, introduced by Now unto Him.

When the Holy Spirit has empowered us, Christ has indwelt us, love has mastered us, and God has filled us with His own fullness, then He is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. Until those conditions are met, God’s working in us is limited. When they are met, His working in us is unlimited. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:12–14).

There is no situation in which the Lord cannot use us, provided we are submitted to Him. As is frequently pointed out, verse 20 is a pyramid progression of God’s enablement: He is able; He is able to do; He is able to do exceeding abundantly; He is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask; He is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. There is no question in the minds of believers that God is able to do more than we can conceive, but too few Christians enjoy the privilege of seeing Him do that in their lives, because they fail to follow the pattern of enablement presented in these verses.

Paul declared that the effectiveness of his own ministry was that “my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4), because “the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power” (4:20). Throughout his ministry the apostle was concerned about “giving no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God” (2 Cor. 6:3–7). Everything Paul did was in the power of God, and in the power of God there was nothing within the Lord’s will that he could not see accomplished. That same power works within us by the presence of the Spirit (Acts 1:8).

When by our yieldedness God is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, only then are we truly effective and only then is He truly glorified. And He deserves glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, not only now, but to all generations forever and ever. The Amen confirms that worthy goal.[1]

A Great Doxology

Ephesians 3:20–21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Bible study is a kaleidoscopic experience. The lessons we learn and the experiences we have are multiple. At times the Bible humbles us, making us conscious of our sin. At other times it thrills us as we think of all God has done in Christ for our salvation. Some Bible passages instruct us. Some rebuke us. Some stir us up to great action. In some passages we seem to gain a glimpse into hell. In others, a door is opened into heaven.

The last is the case as we come to the closing verses of Ephesians 3. They are a great doxology, perhaps the greatest in the Bible. In the verses just before this Paul has reached a height beyond which neither reason nor imagination can go. He had been speaking of God’s purposes for his redeemed people, and he had expressed the wish that we should “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (v. 19).

This is beyond comprehension; we cannot even begin to imagine how we can be filled with God’s own fullness. We stand on the edge of the infinite. And yet, Paul is still not satisfied. He has prayed that God will do something we cannot even imagine; and now, having exhausted his ability to speak and write along that line, he bursts out in praise to God who, he says, “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (v. 20).

What an amazing doxology! In the last study I spoke of Paul’s ascending requests for the Ephesians as a “prayer staircase.” But here is another staircase, a “doxology staircase.” Ruth Paxson makes this vivid by arranging the doxology as a pyramid (kjv).

Unto him

That is able to do

All that we ask or think

Above all that we ask or think

Abundantly above all that we ask or think

Exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think

According to the power that worketh in us

A verse of this scope deserves careful consideration.

The first thing the apostle says about God is that he is able to do something. The word for “do” is poieō, which actually means “to make, cause, effect, bring about, accomplish, perform, provide, or create,” as one Greek dictionary has it. It points to God as a worker, which means, as John Stott says, that “he is neither idle, nor inactive, nor dead.”

What a contrast then between this God, the true God, and the so-called gods of the heathen! In Isaiah’s day the people of Israel had fallen away from the worship of the true God and were worshiping idols, and God gave Isaiah words for that situation. He described the idols. They are, he said, nothing but pieces of lumber carved up by the worshiper. “They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand” (Isa. 44:18). God calls an idol just “a block of wood” (v. 19). He issues this challenge:

“Present your case,” says the Lord.

“Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King.

“Bring in your idols to tell us

what is going to happen.

Tell us what the former things were,

so that we may consider them

and know their final outcome.

Or declare to us the things to come,

tell us what the future holds,

so we may know that you are gods.

Do something, whether good or bad,

so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.

But you are less than nothing

and your works are utterly worthless.”

Isaiah 41:21–24

According to these verses, the proof of the true God’s existence is that he is able to do things. The idols can do nothing, not even evil.

Ask and Receive

The second thing Paul says about God is that he is able to do what we ask. That is, the ability of God to work is not related merely to his own concerns and interests but extends to the concerns and interests of his people. It is a statement about prayer.

Most of us are probably quite cautious in our prayers, unless we have learned to pray through a lifetime of growing in this discipline. So often we hold back in asking, afraid of embarrassing either God or ourselves. But that is not the kind of prayer God commands in the Bible.

To be sure, we do often pray wrongly. James says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). But for every verse that warns us about wrong prayers there are others which by example and precept teach us to pray frequently and with confidence. A favorite of mine is 1 John 3:21–22: “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.”

That verse is a great prayer promise. It says that (1) if we are praying with a clear conscience, that is, if we are being honest and open before God, and (2) if we are doing what God in his Word has commanded us to do, and (3) if we are seeking to please God in every possible way, then we can know that what we ask of God we will receive. We can know, to use Paul’s words, that God “is able to (and will) do … [what] we ask.”

What about our thoughts? Have you ever had the experience of thinking about something you would like to ask God for, but not asking him because you had no real confidence that the thing was God’s will for you? I have. There are things I pray for with great confidence. I know it is God’s will for me to conquer sin, to bless my preaching of his Word, and many such things. There are other things that I would like to see happen—the type of things God blesses and that I think would please him—but I do not always pray for them, because I have no real confidence that God wants to do them through my life and ministry or that he wants to do them now. So I hold back, only thinking about them and only occasionally mentioning them as possibilities in my prayers.

I do not know whether I am right in this. I may be wrong. I should probably be much bolder in what I pray for. But whether that is the case or not, it is a comfort to come to a verse like this and read that “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. It says that God is able to do those things that I only think about but am afraid to ask for.

All We Can Ask or Think

Paul’s doxology would have been great if he had stopped at this point, for it would be wonderful to know that God is able to do what we imagine (or think) as well as what we explicitly ask for. But at this point we are only halfway up this great ascending staircase. The next thing Paul tells us is that God is able to do all we can ask or think. It is not a question of God being only fifty percent or even ninety-nine percent able. God “is able to do … all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

It is God’s ability to do all we can ask or imagine that encourages us to stretch forward spiritually and ask for more. My father-in-law was a banker in New York City, and he frequently passed on to me the kind of jokes bankers tell one another. One was about a loan officer who tried to run a gas station in his retirement years. He had been a successful banker, but failed at running a gas station. Whenever a customer came in and asked for ten gallons of gas, he would respond, “Can you get by with five?” Paul tells us that God is not like that. He does not give half of what we ask for (if we ask rightly), but all. Indeed, it is his ability to give all we ask or imagine that encourages us to come with big petitions.

More Than We Ask

It is greater even than this, for Paul has amplified his doxology to say that God is able to do even more than all we might ask or imagine. I put it to you: Is that not your experience of God? Have you not found it to be true that whatever you ask of God (assuming you ask rightly and not with wrong motives, as James warns), God always has something bigger and greater for you—something more than you asked for? It is generally something different, something you would not have anticipated.

That would have been the testimony of all the great biblical characters. I think of Abraham. God called Abraham when he was a pagan living in Ur of the Chaldeans. He told him that he would make him into a great nation, that he would bless him and that he would make him to be a source of blessing to others. I do not know what Abraham would have understood by that at first. In time he probably came to see that the blessing to others would come as a result of the work of the Messiah who would be born in his life. But I suppose that at the beginning he just thought about having a large family which would eventually become a nation similar to those around it. Through most of his life his prayers would have focused on his lack of even one son, and he would have repeatedly asked God to give him children.

How did God answer? We know the story. We know that God did eventually give him a son, a son born to him and Sarah in their old age. And we know that Abraham had other children after that—Genesis 25:2 lists six—and that Abraham’s immediate clan grew substantially so that, at the time of the battle against the four kings of the East, Abraham was able to muster 318 trained men of war to pursue them.

But that is only the most obvious of Abraham’s blessings. In Abraham’s case the “much more” would have included the fact that Isaac, the son of promise, became a type of Jesus Christ and was used to teach Abraham about the future work of Christ, and that the nation promised to Abraham was not limited to his natural descendants, the Jews, but included the entire family of God collected from among all nations throughout all human history. These are the people who have become “as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore” (Gen. 22:17).

Certainly Abraham would testify that God is able to do more than we can ever ask or think.

Moses would say the same thing. God told Moses that he was going to cause Pharaoh to let the people of Israel leave Egypt, where they had been slaves for four centuries. Moses did not want to go. He had failed once, and did not want to fail again. But when God insisted and when he showed Moses that he would work miracles through him, changing his staff into a serpent and then back again and making his hand leprous and then healing it again, Moses went.

Could Moses have anticipated the full extent of the plagues God brought on Egypt: the turning of the water of the land to blood, the multiplication of frogs, gnats, and flies, the plague on the livestock, the boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and eventually the death of the firstborn? Could he have anticipated the miracles of the Exodus: the parting of the Red Sea, the destruction of the Egyptians, the cloud that accompanied the people during their years of wandering and protected them, the manna, the water from the rock, and other miracles? Could Moses have guessed that God would appear to him again and give him the law or that he would work through him to give us the first five books of the Bible?

Moses would not even have dreamed of these things. He would have testified freely that God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine.

David would speak along the same lines. God called him from following after the sheep. He made him the first great king of Israel, replacing Saul. He blessed him beyond his greatest dreams. At the end of his long and favored life God announced that through his descendant, the Messiah, his house and kingdom would be established forever. David replied, “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant.… What more can David say to you?… How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears” (2 Sam. 7:18–20, 22).

David would have joined others in confessing that God is able to do more than any of us can possibly ask or think, and that he does do it.

Is this not your experience? Life may not have gone exactly as you would have planned it for yourself; you may have had many disappointments. But if you are really trying to obey God and follow after him, can you not say that God’s fulfillment of his promises toward you has been more than you have asked?

Immeasurably More

There is one more statement in Paul’s doxology in which he says that God is not only able to do more than all we can think but that he is able to do immeasurably more than we can contemplate. The word translated “immeasurably” (niv) is another of Paul’s coined words: hyperekperissou. It occurs only here and in 1 Thessalonians 3:10 in Greek literature. It can be rendered “exceeding abundantly” (kjv), “infinitely more” (Phillips), “far more abundantly” (rsv), “exceeding abundantly beyond” (nasb), and so on.

How can this be? Even though Abraham, Moses, David, and others may not have anticipated the full measure of what God was going to do in their lives, what they experienced is measurable. It may take time, but it can be spelled out. Was Paul just carried away in this passage? Was he exaggerating for effect? I do not think so. After all, in the previous chapter, in a complementary passage, Paul wrote that “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6–7). In this verse Paul uses the word “incomparable” rather than “immeasurable” but his thought is much the same and indicates to my mind how the word in Ephesians 3:20 should be taken. Paul is not thinking of earthly blessings here. He is going beyond these to think of the blessings of God’s inexhaustible kindness toward us through Christ in eternity. Since eternity is immeasurable, so also are the works that God will do for us in the life to come.

In this sense the doxology ends as the prayer ended just a verse before, with reference to our being filled forever to the measure of all the fullness of God, which is immeasurable.

Power and Glory

After a doxology like this we may be so overwhelmed by the promises implied in it that we find ourselves thinking that it cannot possibly apply to us—for others maybe, for Abraham (he was a giant in faith) or Moses or David—but not for normal people like ourselves. Paul does not allow this. He ties it down to our experience by showing that the power of God which is able to do these things is the same power that is already at work in all who are God’s children. It is “according to his power that is at work within us.”

In other words, although we have not realized the full extent of God’s working—and never will, precisely because God is infinite in his workings—what we are yet to experience is nevertheless of the same substance as what we have already known, if we are genuine believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our salvation in Christ is a resurrection from the dead, for we were “dead in … transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:1), and it is precisely that resurrecting power of God that we are to go on experiencing. It is by that power and not by our own that these great promises are to be accomplished.

What can be added to this? Nothing but the final, direct ascription of praise to God, which is what Paul does. “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” John Stott says, “The power comes from him; the glory must go to him.” And so it shall![2]

20 Paul concludes the first half of his letter in grand style—with an exalted doxology that both exalts God (it may even be part of the prayer, though the conjunction de clearly signals a break from what preceded) and assures the readers that God is completely able to answer his elevated prayer for them. In the event that anybody, wondering whether Paul’s request has been too expansive, should ask whether God can really grant to his people this “fullness,” Paul answers in no uncertain terms: “Yes, he can! Nothing limits God’s ability.” Power language dominates what follows: “him who is able” (dynamenos, GK 1538), “power” (dynamis, GK 1539), and “at work” (energoumenēn, GK 1919). God can perform the unthinkable in his people because of his invincible potency and his indwelling presence. Paul directs his praise to the one “who is able to do [above all] immeasurably more” (hyper panta poiēsai hyperekperissou). The adverb hyperekperissou (GK 5655) conveys something “quite beyond all measure (highest form of comparison imaginable)” (BDAG, 1033). With this hyperbolic expression (note the two uses of hyper), Paul pushes the boundaries beyond limits.

Paul then extends what God is able to do beyond what humans may ask of him or what they are capable even of imagining. Paul used the common verb noeō (GK 3783) in v. 4 with the sense of “understand”; here it has the extended sense of “imagine, think” (BDAG, 674). Paul explains that beyond the boundaries of our asking or even imagining for ourselves, God is able to do according to (kata; the basis or norm of his operation) his power (dynamis) that keeps on working (present tense and middle voice of energoumenēn) within or among us. In other words, it is well within God’s ability to accomplish far beyond what his people can ask for, or even imagine as possible, because God keeps working in ways that are in keeping with his mighty power. Recall, this power raised Christ from the dead, seated him in the heavenly realms, and made him head over all things “for the church” (1:19–22). Paul has made an incredibly audacious claim. As Lincoln, 216, affirms, “Neither the boldest human prayer nor the greatest power of human imagination could circumscribe God’s ability to act.”

We may translate the last phrase, en hēmin, as either “within us” or “among us.” Does Paul pray for this power to work inside individual Christians, or in the framework of the body? The answer must be, “Both.” The love Paul has requested for his readers must be demonstrated in the body of Christ, the local church. This requires God’s powerful working “among us.” This, I believe, is the primary focus here, as we’ve seen corporate emphases throughout. For this to happen, however, it requires the work of God’s power within each individual believer. It would diminish Paul’s request in this context to ignore either of these components—individual or corporate.

21 With the use of the personal pronoun “to him,” Paul picks up the thought that began v. 20: “Now to him who is able …” To or for this one (i.e., God) there is “glory” (doxa, GK 1518). We must insert the verb “be,” as Greek often assumes its presence. Paul has pointed to the praise of God’s glory above (1:12, 14; see comments there). Here doxa refers to “honor as enhancement or recognition of status or performance, fame, recognition, renown, honor, prestige” (BDAG, 257). God receives the kind of recognition he well deserves “in the church” and “in Christ Jesus,” where in both cases the preposition “in” (en) has a locative intent. Both phrases pick up the central themes in the broader context of chs. 1–3. “In the church”—its very existence, identity, and godly activities—God’s fame and honor are proclaimed. But, as Paul has made clear, the church is the corporate Christ, and so “in Christ” God receives glory. The church’s glory derives from its head, Christ (cf. 5:26–27). Christ and what he has done in constituting the church—Jews and Gentiles together in one glorious body—manifest the glory of God. Who could imagine what God was up to? In fact, it was a mystery! How glorious is the God who could accomplish this!

How long will God receive this glory? Forever! Paul concludes the doxology with a complex and unique prepositional phrase that reads, literally, “to all the generations of the ages of the ages. Amen.” Paul employs a similar expression of praise in Galatians 1:5, but it lacks “all the generations.” The plural “generations” speaks of ongoing progressions of generations of people. What of the “ages” (aiōnōn)? Paul spoke of this age and the age to come (1:21), of coming ages (2:7), and the purpose of the ages (3:11). Again, the point is an unending passage of time into the future. This praise to God will know no limits: as far as time and eternity take us—forever—God receives the glory he deserves. God’s glory never ends. Amen! With this solemn final word, Paul exclaims, “This is true!”[3]

DOXOLOGY (3:20–21)

20   Now to him who can do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power that operates in us—

21   to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all the generations of eternity. Amen.

20  Has Paul sought too much from God for his fellow-believers—praying that they may be filled up to the level of the divine fullness? They might think so as they heard this letter read aloud, but Paul reassures them: it is impossible to ask God for too much. His capacity for giving far exceeds his people’s capacity for asking—or even imagining.

The contemplation of God’s eternal purpose and its fulfilment in the gospel calls forth a doxology. A doxology takes the basic form, “To God be the glory,” but it may be variously expanded as the immediate occasion for ascribing glory to God is elaborated. Other doxologies of this pattern in the Pauline writings are found in Rom. 11:36; 16:25–27; Gal. 1:5; Phil. 4:20; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2 Tim. 4:18. Such ascriptions, together with such utterances as “Praise God!” or “Blessed be God!” were common in temple and synagogue worship and were taken over into the liturgy of the church.112

Here, in the light of the far-reaching prayer which has just been offered, God is described as the one “who can do far more abundantly than all we ask or think.” The power by which he can do this is the power which he has implanted in his people—“the surpassing greatness of his power in us who believe” which, as has been said in Eph. 1:19–20, is nothing less than “the operation of his mighty strength” exerted in the resurrection of Christ. By the Spirit who imparts this power to believers the full realization of God’s gracious purpose for them and in them becomes possible.

21  The wording “to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus” is unusual. It does not imply that “the church” and “Christ Jesus” are placed on a level with each other. God is to be glorified in the church because the church, comprising Jews and Gentiles, is his masterpiece of grace. It is through the church that his wisdom is made known to the spiritual forces of the heavenly realm. “The heavens declare the glory of God” but even greater glory is shown by his handiwork in the community of reconciliation. This community, moreover, consists of human beings who are united in Christ, members of his body, in whom Christ dwells: the glory of God “in the church” cannot be divorced from his glory “in Christ Jesus.” The “glory of God in the face of Christ” has illuminated the hearts of his people (2 Cor. 4:6) and is reflected in the glory which, in life as well as in word, they ascribe to God through Christ.

This ascription of glory will have no end: not only now but “in the ages to come the surpassing wealth of his grace” continues to be shown “in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7), and provides occasion for eternal praise.

The “Amen” which follows the doxology would be the congregation’s response as it was read in their hearing. It is through Christ, as Paul says in another letter, that his people “utter the Amen … to the glory of God” (2 Cor. 1:20). With this loud “Amen” the first half of the present letter is concluded.[4]

He Is Able

Ephesians 3:20–21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph. 3:20–21)

Some time ago, I needed to make a difficult financial announcement about our seminary because stock market dynamics were creating serious pressures on our finances. I was stewing about the announcement during my early morning jog around a neighborhood lake. Deep in thought, I came to the top of a hill just as some Canadian geese were approaching the lake from the other side of the rise. The result was that for a split second I found myself face-to-face with a flying goose. I ducked to my right but he dodged to his left so that we were still on a collision course. I froze anticipating the crash of our noggins. But then, in one of those sequences that seem to unfold in slow motion, he tweaked his tail and lifted a leg so that his body twisted, and he went by my shoulder with an outstretched wing grazing the top of my head.

Once I realized that I had been spared, I could not help being a little philosophical. “Oh great,” I thought, “wouldn’t that have been a sad way to go out!” I could imagine the headlines: “Seminary President Taken to Heaven on the Wings of a Goose.” Though it may seem a bit silly, in a strange way being saved by that little flick of a goose’s tail gave me a great deal of peace that day.

My peace came from considering the protection God provided for me on that day I was so worried about dear friends, the place I serve, and many months of pressure to come. I began to consider what God had to arrange in order to make that split-second event of reassurance happen. What kind of planning did it take for a person—raised in Tennessee over fifty years ago—and a goose—probably hatched in Canada three years ago—to simultaneously approach a rise in Missouri and come within two feet of one another on the very day that I needed encouragement because of a difficult announcement that I had to make as a result of stock market dynamics that had taken years to develop in a worldwide economy?

The sequence of plans needed to make all of those events and entities converge so precisely is truly mind-boggling. The wisdom and power of God that made that goose’s tail twitch at the precise moment needed to fan into flame a flicker of hope in me were beyond anything I could ask or even imagine. In a world that whirls in an endless procession of unpredictable events and personal challenges, we lose track of what God does moment by moment to preserve us and his purposes for our lives. We know that our God loves us, but amidst the pressures of rents to pay, jobs to perform, medical results to await, tests to take, and transitions to make, we wonder still, “Is our God able to help me here today?” The Bible’s message of a sovereign God who rules over all things in all places among all people and for eternity calms our hearts and stimulates our prayers with the simple affirmation: “He is able.”

But how can we be assured that he is able? Paul unfolds the answer by “singing” this little doxology in the midst of his epistle (Eph. 3:20–21). Paul also breaks into similar doxology in Romans 11:33–36; 16:25–27; Philippians 4:20; 1 Timothy 1:17. Shorter outbursts of apostolic praise such as “to God be the glory” appear throughout the New Testament (e.g., Gal. 1:5; 1 Tim. 6:16; 2 Tim. 4:18; Heb. 13:21; 1 Peter 4:11; 5:11; 2 Peter 3:18) and especially occur repeatedly in the Apocalypse (e.g., Rev. 1:6; 4:11; etc.). Such doxologies draw on themes reminiscent of many Old Testament hymns of praise. This doxology, focusing initially on the ability of God, opens in a manner quite similar to Jude 24–25 and to Romans 16:25–27. The term in Ephesians 3:20 for “able” (from Greek dynamai) is related to the strength vocabulary (e.g., dynamis) found later in this same verse (and elsewhere in Ephesians). Paul intends for this doxology to begin with the answer to a simple question related to God’s power:

How Much Can God Do? (3:20a–b)

The answer is, more—“immeasurably” more than we can ask, and more than we can even imagine. The Greek word for “immeasurably” (hyperekperissou) is the “highest form of comparison imaginable” and could even be translated as “infinitely more than.”

More Than We Can Ask (3:20a)

For children of all ages, Christmas is the asking time of year. While we may not be asking for “mutant turbo-blaster robo-dinosaurs” or “Diamond Dancing Barbies,” we adults still have our “asks.” The adult requests are more in the form of secure jobs, incomes adequate to pay for the turbo-blasters, good health, diplomas, peaceable families, and a world without war. There is no reproach in the apostle’s words for asking. That we would ask is, in fact, a natural outgrowth of Paul’s earlier conclusion that we have confident and free access to the Father by virtue of Christ’s work on our behalf (Eph. 2:18; 3:12). We come to a Father who is able to do what we ask, and invites us to come to him (Phil. 4:6).

But the apostle does not limit the Father’s care or ability to what we ask. There is too much of our humanity in our requests for them to govern God’s responses. Because we are human our requests are feeble and finite. We want dessert when we need meat, success when we need humility, and safety when we need godly courage—or Christlike sacrifice. We ask within the limits of human vision, but he is able to do more. He sees into eternity what is needful for our soul and for the souls of those whom our lives will touch across geography and across generations; and, seeing this, he is able to do more than we ask.

In 1983 a childless woman named Mary Nelson was working in her garden in St. Louis, praying while she worked. She asked God to help not only in her grief for the absence of children in her life, but also in her bitter awareness of women who could have children but choose to abort them. The absence of a child in her home created such a longing for life in her heart that Mary asked God, there in the garden, to help her give life to children in whatever way he would lead. Nine months later, Mary “gave birth” to the first Pregnancy Resource Center in St. Louis, and since that time literally thousands of children have been spared due to the prayers and labors of Mary Nelson and others who have followed her. She, who once asked to be a life-giving mother to one, has become life-saving mother to thousands.

Our God is able to do immeasurably above what we ask. I know to ask only what I think is good for my immediate family; he knows what is good for my children’s children, and what will bring multitudes into his kingdom from places I cannot name or imagine.

More Than We Can Imagine (3:20b)

The ways of our Lord cannot be limited to what we ask, because his wisdom and power—and, therefore, his intentions—are beyond our imagining. Earlier in this chapter of Ephesians we were told that his love is so wide and long and high and deep that it surpasses our knowledge (Eph. 3:18–19), but now we are told that this is not a passive or powerless love. His loving surpasses our knowledge, but his doing surpasses our requests and even our imagination. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9; Isa. 64:4). For those in Christ, T. S. Eliot says, “the impossible union of spheres of existence is actual. Here the past and future are conquered, and reconciled.”

He who loved us so much that he spared not his own Son to make us his children (Rom. 8:32) invites us to come to him freely and confidently, but he also promises to bring the full measure of the wisdom and powers of his Godhead to answer us. How do we measure what he can do? He holds the whole earth in his hand; he created the universe but continues to control the light in your room and the decay of an atom in the most distant galaxy; he makes the flowers grow and the snow fall; he rides on the wings of a storm and holds a butterfly in the air; and he who was before the beginning of all we know still uses time as his tool of healing, restoration, and retribution. Our thoughts are as a window to him; generations to come from us are already known fully to him who loves our family more than we do. He looks at the length of our life as a handbreadth, and makes our soul, though sinful, his treasure forever. Such is the God who hears our prayers and is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or can even imagine.

God’s greatness allows me to believe in his good will even when something I ask for is not answered when I desire or how I imagine. At this year’s Thanksgiving service in my church I listened in fresh-found awe as believers gave their reasons for thanksgiving. One gave thanks for a child soon to be born after three different doctors said a child for this couple was impossible. But this thanksgiving came just after the words of a mother thanking the church for its ministry to her during the year that her husband had been dying of liver cancer. And while the one rejoiced in the coming of a child, I watched the eyes of another couple turn red and their eyes brim with tears because no such miracle child had come to them in their years of marriage. Days later I learned that one of our alumni families, who had just suffered their fourth miscarriage, yet prepared a meal in their home for college students to celebrate the coming of the Christ child.

If the world or any cynic were to look on all of these accounts at once, I can only imagine that the response would be: “Now wait a minute. This one gives thanks when a prayer for new life is answered. That one gives thanks when a prayer for continued life seems unanswered. Then this other couple grieves because a child does not come to them but also gives thanks to God because he let his Son come for us. Does all of this make sense?” No. It does not make earthly sense. But if the God of all things earthly and eternal were at work, would you expect him to be limited by our wisdom and perceptions? No, you would expect him to be at work in ways beyond our imagining. And that is just what he is promising: to do immeasurably above all that you would ask or even imagine.

It must be this way, for inevitably that for which we pray is limited by our human perspective. We think that we shall be happy if we see the perfect sunset, meet the right person, get the right job, or get relief from the person or disease that troubles us. But the One who sees beyond the sunrise, into the heart and after the disease, knows that in a fallen world perfect solutions do not exist and their dim reflections may only distract us from dependence upon him who must redeem us from all that falsely promises fulfillment. J. R. R. Tolkien wrote that our ultimate joy “lies beyond the walls of the world.” Ultimate satisfaction is not in a lover, a landscape, or a livelihood; although they may rightly please us, they will pass. That which is eternal and on which the soul must rest is “higher up” and “further back” (as Cornelius Plantinga puts it) than those things we presently relish, and it can be provided only by the One who is able to do more than we would ask or even think. But how will he do such things?

How Will God Do More? (3:20c–d)

Sovereignly (3:20c)

Paul says that our Lord is able to do immeasurably more than all we would ask or imagine, “according to his power.” These words already have a rich history in this epistle. Paul uses “according to” as a way of indicating that something will be expressed to its full extent. In the first chapter we are told that we have forgiveness “in accordance with” the riches of God’s grace (Eph. 1:7). That is to say, God pours out his mercy from the fullness of his storehouses; he is not budgeting a meager supply for us and saving more till later. We have the fullness of his forgiveness and love. “Power” is the expression of God’s sovereign force of creation. By his power he brought the world into being, brought us from death to life, and will transform this world into a new creation (Eph. 1:4, 10, 18, 19–23). He is the One who made our lovers, landscapes, and livelihoods, along with the universe and the eternity that contain them. Thus, when Paul says that God is able to do immeasurably more than all that we ask or imagine, “according to his power,” the apostle urges us to believe that God can do more than we can imagine because he is God, and will use his sovereign power—the creative power of the physical and spiritual universe—in our behalf.

Personally (3:20d)

But how will God apply this sovereign power? The answer to that question will truly stretch our imagination—and our faith. For what the apostle claims is that God will work sovereignly according to his power that is “at work in us.” God works in us personally. This is a return to the theme that Paul began at the end of chapter 1 where he identified the church as the means by which God would fill and transform creation with his own fullness. Now Paul speaks to those in the church, and he says that God will do more than we can imagine through his power (yes, I can get my mind around this, so far) and that this power will be expressed through “us” (now that is a lot for a mind to handle). You and I are the instruments by which God is going to accomplish more than we can ask or even imagine.

This sounds more than a little far-fetched and perhaps rings a bit idealistic. After all, some of us enjoy places of security and esteem, while others endure great difficulty and depressing obscurity. Some see the effects of their lives in great brush strokes of glory and accomplishment. Others look back on the last twenty or thirty years of their lives and honestly question, “Did I do anything?” How can we honestly affirm that God is doing more than we ask or imagine through us? How could Paul say it while chained to a guard in prison at Rome while he is writing to the few people in the crude and simple house churches of Ephesus?

In a photograph displayed at Auschwitz, a Nazi guard points a pistol at the head of a child. Beneath the picture there is a caption: “He who saves one soul saves the world.” Our temptation is to look for heroism, significance, and success in noteworthy deeds and great accomplishments. But faith accepts that God is working out his plan—for the world and for eternity—one moment, one act, one life at a time. Our finite wisdom in a mortal existence makes it hard to act with unnoticed integrity, to persevere without apparent results, to show courage when there is no gain and no one to cheer the sacrifice. But by such integrity, perseverance, and courage among his people in a church worldwide, God is changing the world.

Consider a woman who teaches prostitutes alternative employment as hairdressers in Thailand; a man who teaches a mentally handicapped adult to paint; a woman who offers comfort to a newlywed distressed by the unfaithfulness of her husband; a woman who gives up a holiday to spend an evening with high school girls needing a friend; a woman who changes the diaper of a disadvantaged infant saved from the uncertainties of the foster care system; a man who lingers over a catechism with an African in a remote village so that the man will be an effective elder in a church of ten; a man who refuses to pay a bribe from mission funds to a rebel leader in India; and a secretary in a government office who encourages her boss with a promise to pray for him today. None of these acts of persons I know can be counted on to make any difference in the eyes of the world, but collectively the power of God is at work in these Christians to change this world. In ways unseen, unheralded, and unknown, God is transforming the world according to his power through us even now.

It is beyond our imagining but necessary for our endurance to remember often that it is God’s way to work his infinite wisdom and divine power through us. This is something that we will need to remember when we face obscurity while serving in a small church, when God chooses others for recognition, when failure knocks at our door, when we face anger or ridicule from foes or friends, when our envy of others in more prestigious or lucrative positions threatens to rob us of our commitment to our calling, or when we wonder if the spouse that God gave us is the right one. Because God is working sovereignly and personally we know that for the purposes of our own Christlikeness and his own glory he gives us the spouse he intends, the church he intends, the position he intends, and the challenges he intends. God’s provision may not always be what we would ask, and often stretches what we can imagine. But God gives us what he does in order to prepare us, to strengthen us, to humble us, to bless us, and to grow in us a greater dependency on himself and a lesser attraction to this world, according to his power in us.

When God put his Son in a stable, it must have been hard to imagine that there was “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). But what may be harder yet to imagine is that we too “are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). In each activity of the Spirit, in each transition of our lives and in each challenge that makes us question how something so humble, difficult, or unnoticed could be significant, there is a new advent of the glory of God, a new incarnation of his presence and power. Think of that: no matter how obscure or insignificant the act, when we serve the purposes of the Savior, the glory of the Son of God shines in us with increasing glory because of his power that is at work in us.

How shall we treat a God who so dignifies and empowers the humble offerings of service that we give to him? If what we do is, in reality, the result of his power at work in us, then there is only one thing to do: give him glory.

What, Then, Is His Due? (3:21)

God does more—more than we can ask or imagine; and he does this according to his power—sovereignly and personally. Our response must be praise. He is deserving of more glory than we can offer. More glory is due him. Glory in the church, glory in Christ, and glory in perpetuity are due the One who is so able and so loving.

In the Church (3:21a)

Glory is due God “in the church” because he has chosen to use her as the instrument of his purposes on this earth and for eternity. Here his gospel is proclaimed, his law taught, and his people are nurtured in his grace and equipped for his service of world transformation. Thus, when Paul earlier pictured the temple of living stones rising to heaven where the angels sing glory, the apostle also pictured the Spirit indwelling as a Shekinah glory—the presence of God’s power and glory.

Whatever is accomplished by us in the church, it is done because our God is able and has enabled us, and therefore the glory belongs to him. Thus the church throughout all time proclaims along with Paul that God is indeed “the glorious Father” (Eph. 1:17). This fits with the concept Paul began earlier in the epistle that God’s grace and our redemption are to “the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). And from God’s “riches of glory” flow his inheritance in the saints (Eph. 1:18) and the Spirit’s strengthening of our inner man (Eph. 3:16). There will be glory in the church because God is working his power through each of us.

In Christ (3:21b)

The church that has been in Paul’s mind since the first chapter—that temple made of living stones that rises to heaven with the Spirit indwelling—is a natural place for giving glory to the enabling God. We readily understand what it means for there to be glory to God in the church. But what does it mean for there to be glory to God “in Christ” (Eph. 3:21b)? The answer involves understanding our position and our God’s passion.

If there is glory in the church, then the thought naturally follows that there is glory in Christ. After all, we have learned in the first chapter of this epistle that the church is Christ’s body (Eph. 1:23). So if there is glory in the church, there is glory in Christ. This is not merely an abstraction but, yet again, an affirmation of our union with Christ. Those who are in the church are recognized by God as having the identity of Christ. As his body, we have his attributes accounted to us: his righteousness, his holiness, his life. We may approach the Father who is able to help us, and we may approach him with confidence, because we are recognized as having the privileged position in and of his own Son. Because we are his body, we have his position, and, conversely, whatever we do is to his glory. But there is more than a tie of words between glory being given in the church and in Christ; there is also progression of thought.

We need both of these truths—that we represent him and he represents us. Since his glory is reflected in what we do as his body, we must always consider if our actions actually are bringing him glory, and repent if they do not. At the same time, the realization that we have his position answers a question that has been hanging in the air since the outset of this chapter. Early on, as the apostle’s thought unfolds, we may be willing to agree with him that our God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. The question that remains is whether “he who is able” is willing to do such things. The answer is, yes. Because we are in Christ Jesus, he is willing to do more in our behalf than we would ask or even imagine. We have Christ’s position, and thus we have our God’s love.

Yet there is something even more than love, and perhaps even stronger than God’s love, that assures me that he is willing to do what he is sovereignly and personally able to do for those who are in Christ Jesus. The immediate subject of the apostle is not the love of our Savior but the glory of our Savior. The reason that I rest assured that my God is willing to use his power for those who are in Christ Jesus is that he is passionate for the glory of the Son who represents the wonders of his love and the beauty of his own nature.

We sometimes mistakenly think of grace as some material blessing or privileged circumstance that God provides to us. But grace is simply an expression of his character. His grace is evident in the glory that is in Christ Jesus. The One who loved us and gave himself for us is an expression of the character of the Father. The fact that there is glory to the Father in him means that the love that Jesus possesses and reflects is the nature of the Father. The glory that is in Christ is also in the Father. Thus the mercy, love, and compassion of the Son are the glory of the Father; they are the expression of the glory that is his chief passion.

Recently I received a letter from a good friend of mine, a pastor who had just resigned from a very difficult church situation. He had endured years of stress, financial sacrifice, family strain, and career jeopardy. Yet, through it all, this man has been one of my chief encouragers. However great his difficulties have been, he has always taken the time to write to me, to encourage me, and to remind me of the eternal promises of the gospel. In the letter in which he told me that he had submitted his resignation, he did so again. He wrote, “I rest in God’s passion for his own glory.” Whatever happens, whatever is required of sacrifice or success, this wonderful pastor trusts and teaches that God is not only able to do more than we can ask or imagine, but is also willing to do so because we are the body of Christ and our God is passionate for his glory.

Sometimes this is all that can make sense of things in the world. Today I worry about funds; my readers may be worrying about their jobs or relationships; but in many parts of the world there are faithful Christians in far worse circumstances. A Christian mother in the Sudan will hold a child dying of starvation, and she will remain faithful. While you read this, somewhere in this world a Christian is being tortured and is crying out to God for help. While we enjoy Christmas celebrations to commemorate the Savior coming to a stable two thousand years ago, other Christians will depart this life at the hands of persecutors and will see Jesus face to face. How does it all work together? I don’t know. It’s beyond what I would ask or even imagine. God’s sovereign and good intent is more than I could believe were it not for the coming of the Savior to suffer and die in my behalf.

When tragedy and heartache come to believers, what evidence is there that God is truly sovereign and loving? The answer will not be found in our circumstances, but rather in the character of God revealed in Christ. Cancers do come; tragedies do strike; one baby of a faithful couple lives and another dies; capable people serve in difficult and obscure places all of their lives. There may be no evidence of the sovereign, personal love of God since what he is doing is beyond our asking or imagining, but there is yet glory to give to Christ in these situations. He is the One whose very life and ministry make evident that what God is able to do on an eternal plane, beyond what we can ask or imagine, is for his glory and for the eternal blessing of those who love him.

As I write these words, the longtime chairman of our board of trustees is fighting a very aggressive cancer that has already claimed one of his lungs. He once said this to me: “We are praying for God to heal, but I know that whatever he does will bring glory to God. God will reserve the glory to himself.” That is a mature faith, and it is a sustaining faith: “My God is working beyond my asking or imagining according to his power at work in me, because he is zealous for his own glory.”

I remember a pastor who told me of a man who, having just come to faith, said, “I always thought it would be great if God were like Jesus.” He is. God’s glory is in Christ, and that is the reason that we know that our God is able and willing to help us.

In Perpetuity (3:21c)

How long will God keep this zeal for his own glory? Forever. We should never limit God’s glory to the time of our finite measurement. Perhaps that is why the apostle says that the glory due our God is throughout generations and throughout time. The expression “for ever and ever” (a Greek metaphor, literally “unto the age of ages”) is often found in Paul’s expressions of praise (Gal. 1:5; Phil. 4:20; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2 Tim. 4:18) and elsewhere in the New Testament (e.g., Heb. 13:21; 1 Peter 4:11; often in Revelation). This is not merely a redundancy. There is an intended emphasis that our hearts are meant to endorse.

With saints of old we thus proclaim, “Amen!” (Eph. 3:21). This word is frequently used in the New Testament to signal a wholehearted corporate endorsement of a prayer or praise (especially 1 Cor. 14:16; 2 Cor. 1:20; see for examples in Paul: Rom. 1:25; 9:5; 11:36; 15:33; 16:27; Gal. 1:5; 6:18; Phil. 4:20; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16; 2 Tim. 4:18). Paul invites us to join our hearts with his in this reminder that God will continue working throughout this generation. He is not simply the God of a former people. There is still work for this generation and every generation to do, and he is able for this generation, even as he was able for the generations of the past.

And he is able for ever and ever. There will never be a moment that glory is not due him, and therefore there will never be a moment that he is not working through you to do immeasurably more than you would ask or even imagine. In your moments of great success, he is able. In your moment of greatest fear, he is able. When you have failed, he is still able. When the challenge ahead is too great, he is able. For ever and ever glory is due him, for he is always able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us, and continues to be at work for the purposes of eternity.

At this year’s Thanksgiving service I listened as the wife of one of our pastors gave glory to God. She spoke in the light of the recent murder of her brother. For some years this brother had lived in rebellion against God but, through the witness of his family and others, a glorious transformation had occurred. She reported how her brother had one day come to her father and said, “Now I know where I am going and Whom I trust.” After that, the brother changed and the circumstances surrounding that change were already more than the family could ask or imagine; God had worked sovereignly and personally to bring the young man to himself. After so much pain before knowing the joy of his salvation, one would think that the murder of this young man would totally devastate this loving family. Of course, in many ways, it did. But this dear sister reported how, after her brother’s death, and even while her father held his dead son in his arms, the father said that he was at peace. He knew that God had preserved the son until the time that his eternity was secure with the Lord. But even this promise of eternity was not all that caused the sister to rise to her feet to give glory to God.

She rose to her feet to give the glory to God that her family was now praying for the salvation of the man who had murdered her brother. The Lord is using the family of a man recently saved to pray for the eternity of the man who killed him. Is this senseless? To the world, yes, it is. It is even more than I would normally ask or imagine could be right. But in the church, and for those who are in Christ Jesus, such amazing love is but another reason to give glory to God, for we know it is more evidence that he is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work in us. We give him glory not only because he is able to work immeasurably above all that we would ask or even imagine, but also because in Jesus Christ we know that our God is willing to give supernatural blessing so that there will be glory due him in the church and in Christ, through all generations for ever and ever. Amen.[5]

Praising Through Doxology (Eph. 3:20–21)

3:20 / The apostle has prayed earnestly for certain things, but he realizes that even his requests fall far short of what God is able to do. Thus he concludes this doctrinal section with an appeal to the infinite wealth and understanding of God: To him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. He has opened to his readers the marvels of God’s secret and how they have been incorporated into the body of Christ. But in spite of this vast and eternal plan of God, he reminds them that God has the resources to do much more according to his power that is at work within us. “Our experience of his power, as it is brought to bear within us, is a limited but true index to the nature of the power that governs the universe and brings all things to their appointed end” (Beare, p. 680).

3:21 / Most of the doxologies in the nt connect the glory of God to Christ in some way (Rom. 11:36; 16:27; Gal. 1:5; 1 Tim. 1:17; 1 Pet. 4:11; Jude 24, 25); this is the only passage that refers to glory in the church and in Christ Jesus. Some commentators take this as part of the author’s liturgical language, which should not be pressed for any kind of theological precision (see Houlden, p. 305). However, given the teaching about the church in Ephesians, the relationship of the church as the body to its head, Christ, and the occurrence of so much liturgical language, it seems more likely that this statement is chosen deliberately. Christ (head) and his church (body) form the entire sphere of God’s glory as well as provide the means by which that glory is proclaimed to all humanity. This praising of God’s glory is to go on throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. This amen is a final liturgical declaration that everything the apostle has written may indeed be so.[6]


20, 21. When the apostle surveyed God’s marvelous mercies whereby, through the supreme sacrifice of his beloved Son, he brought those who were at one time children of wrath into his own family, and gave them “the courage of confident access,” the privilege of contemplating in all its glorious dimensions the love of Christ, and the inspiring task of instructing the angels in the mysteries of God’s kaleidoscopic wisdom, his soul, lost in wonder, love, and praise, uttered the following sublime doxology: Now to him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever; Amen. It is immediately clear that this doxology is not only a fitting conclusion to the prayer but also a very appropriate expression of gratitude and praise for all the blessings so generously poured out upon the church, as described in the entire preceding contents of this letter. Besides, it is Paul’s way of making known his firm conviction that although in his prayer he has asked much, God is able to grant far more. On this point the apostle, who relished superlatives (see N.T.C. on I and II Timothy and Titus, p. 75), speaks very strongly. Literally he says, “Now to him—that is, to God Triune—who is able to do super-abundantly above all that we ask or imagine (or: think, conceive),” etc. In order to appreciate fully what is implied in these words it should be noted that Paul’s reasoning has taken the following steps: a. God is able to do all we ask him to do; b. he is even able to do all that we dare not ask but merely imagine; c. he can do more than this; d. far more; e. very far more. Moreover, the apostle immediately adds that he is not dealing with abstractions. The omnipotence which God reveals in answering prayer is not a figment of the imagination but is in line with (“according to”) that mighty operation of his power that is already at work “within us.” It called us out of darkness and brought us into the light, changed children of wrath into dearly beloved sons and daughters, brought about reconciliation between God and man, and between Jew and Gentile. It is God’s infinite might which he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead, and which is now operative in our own, parallel, spiritual resurrection.

Therefore to the One who does not need to over-exert himself in order to fulfil our desires but can do it with ease, “be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus.” In other words, may homage and adoration be rendered to God because of the splendor of his amazing attributes—power (1:19, 2:20), wisdom (3:10), mercy (2:4), love (2:4), grace (2:5–8); etc.—manifested in the church, which is the body, and in Christ Jesus, its exalted head. (On the concept glory see N.T.C. on Philippians, pp. 62, 63, footnote 43.)

The apostle’s ardent desire is that this praise may endure “to all generations.” The word generation, in addition to other meanings, has especially two connotations that should be considered in the present connection: a. the sum-total of contemporaries (Matt. 17:17); and b. the duration of their life on earth; that is, the span of time intervening between the birth of the parents and that of their children. In the present case, as well as in verse 5 above, the latter or chronological sense is indicated, for the phrase “to all generations” is reinforced by “forever and ever.” The latter expression means exactly what it says. It refers to the flow of moments from past to present to future, continuing on and on without ever coming to an end. Rather strangely it has been defined by some as indicating “the opposite of time,” “time without progress,” “timeless existence,” etc. But as far as creatures and their activities are concerned, the Bible nowhere teaches such timeless existence. The popular notion, also found in some commentaries and in religious poetry, namely, that at death—or according to others, at the moment of Christ’s return—believers will enter upon a timeless existence, finds no support in Scripture, not even in Rev. 10:6 when properly interpreted. If in the hereafter believers will acquire one divine “incommunicable” attribute, namely, eternity, why not the others also, for example “omnipresence”? For more on this see the work mentioned on p. 174, footnote 97.

The blessed activity of which believers have a foretaste even now but which in unalloyed and superabundant grandeur will be their portion in the intermediate state, and far more emphatically in the day of the great consummation, an activity with which the apostle is deeply concerned and for which he yearns in prayer, consists, therefore, in this, that forever and ever the members of the Father’s Family ascribe praise and honor to their Maker-Redeemer, whose love, supported by the illimitable power which raised Christ from the dead, will lift their hearts to higher and higher plateaus of inexpressible delight and reverent gratitude. Arrived in glory, their minds unobscured by sin, advance from one pinnacle of spiritual discovery to the next, and then to the next, in an ever ascending series. Their wills, then fully delivered from all the enslaving shackles of willfulness, and invigorated with a constantly growing supply of power, find more and more avenues of rewarding expression. In brief, the salvation in store for God’s children resembles the Healing Waters of Ezekiel’s vision (Ezek. 47:1–5), which, though when one enters them they are ankle-deep, soon become knee-deep, then come up to the loins, and are finally impassable except by swimming. And because of this constant progress in bliss, the answering progress in praise to God also never ceases, for

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we first begun.”

(John Newton)

When the Holy Spirit inspired the prisoner Paul to write this overpowering doxology, Paul’s heart was moved by that same Spirit to express hearty approval by means of the solemn “Amen.”[7]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 112–113). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (pp. 113–119). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.

[3] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 101–102). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Bruce, F. F. (1984). The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (pp. 330–331). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[5] Chapell, B. (2009). Ephesians. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 167–180). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[6] Patzia, A. G. (2011). Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon (p. 227). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[7] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Ephesians (Vol. 7, pp. 175–177). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

January 19, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

Hope in Righteousness (17:15)

15 The phrase “and I” is emphatic and seems to be contrastive with God’s judgment on the wicked. He confronted them in judgment, but the godly will see his “face.” The wicked will be forced to bow down and will be destroyed, whereas the godly will enjoy God’s presence “in righteousness.” The word “righteousness” (ṣedeq, GK 7406) has the sense of victory and joy procured by the Lord and shared with his beloved. The wicked were self-satisfied (v. 10) and shared their wealth with their descendants so that they too would “be satisfied” (“have plenty,” v. 14). But the godly do not comfort themselves with the thought of transitory “blessings.” They will be “satisfied” with the “likeness” of God! No more threats will come from those who are “like” a lion (v. 12), because the lion’s “likeness” will be exchanged for God’s “likeness.” The apostle John applies this experience to the new era, when all God’s people “will see his face” (Rev 22:4; cf. 1 Jn 3:2).

To “wake” may mean here that the prayer is an evening prayer (4:8) or simply a general expression of abandonment to the Lord (3:5). But it seems that the psalmist by inspiration is looking for a greater experience with God that can only be a part of the postresurrection world (cf. Dahood, 1:93, 99: “At the resurrection I will be saturated with your being”). This present life may be filled with testings, as at night (v. 3), but the newness of life (when we “awake,” v. 15) will bring the rewards of vindication and glorification. But the future fulfillment does not exclude a sense of present enjoyment.[1]

15 The psalm ends with an abbreviated expression of trust. A common feature of prayers for help, this expression of confidence supports the third section of appeal. Two aspects of the statement of confidence are notable. First, as noted above, the references to awaking to see your face and your likeness may be hints that the petitioner is facing an overnight trial in the temple. But poetically speaking, the morning is the time of deliverance and hope (cf. Pss. 30:5; 5:3, etc.), and to awake (qîṣ; 3:5; 73:20) is to have the veil of fear lifted and to see God’s purpose unfold. Second, the psalm ends with the third occurrence of the emphatic construction ʿa + 1st person verb—in this case, the expression of trust I, yes I, will see your face. The psalmist, having prayed himself as it were almost into an exhausted sleep, closes his eyes in the trusting confidence that the new day will dawn with hope—because all tomorrows are in the hands of the Lord.[2]

And I—in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness (v. 15). The contrast with the worldly men of verse 14 is most obvious. Any satisfaction they get has to be in this life. For David, there was the prospect of satisfaction beyond the grave, because he gives us in this verse a glimpse of eternity. The language is similar to that used by Moses when speaking of his relationship with the Lord (Num. 12:8). David grasps something, however tenuous, of a doctrine of resurrection, which is spoken of elsewhere as an awaking from sleep (see Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2). The Greek LXX translation clearly read the verse in this way in pre-Christian time for it added the words ‘in the vision of your glory’. God’s actual presence would then be his joy and satisfaction. It is the pure in heart who will see God (Matt. 5:8).[3]

17:15 when I awake … seeing your likeness. Either the psalmist is speaking of waking up in the temple to hear the judicial decision that awaits him, or he is speaking of waking from death. If this is a reference to life after death, then the difficulties of 17:14 are partly resolved—he is contrasting the life of the wicked in this world with that of the righteous who have hope in the world to come (Job 19:25–27). The Scriptures instruct us that Moses saw “the form [temunah] of the Lord” (Num. 12:8), the same word used for “likeness” in 17:15. David may very well have Moses’s experience in mind to describe his own communion with God.[4]

Affirming God’s Promise (17:15)

17:15. Despite any circumstances, David was confident in the Lord: As for me, I shall behold Your face. David concluded this psalm in characteristic fashion by looking beyond the present life to his guaranteed future state in eternity, a state characterized by perfect righteousness (sedeq). This bookends the psalm with the same term in v. 1, though there the NASB translates sedeq by just cause. He will then behold the face (or “presence”) of God (see Pss 16:11; 142:7). Implicit in this conclusion is the recognition that God may choose not to protect him from further affliction by the wicked, but rather—as in the case of Job—to permit it for David’s further refinement (not necessarily chastisement), and in the end therefore for God’s greater glory.[5]

17:15. The reward of love

This superb verse soars straight up from the prosperous lowlands of verse 14, where all was earthbound. The contrast is pointed by the emphatic opening, As for me (cf. e.g. Josh. 24:15b, or the ‘But I …’ of Ps. 13:5), and by the word satisfied which is the same Hebrew verb as ‘have more than enough’ in the verse before. See also on 16:11. So the two goals of men are set side by side, somewhat as they are in Philippians 3:19f.

The significance of righteousness for seeing God face to face is not purely judicial. Only like can communicate with like: cf. Titus 1:15 with Matthew 5:8. The promise that ‘we shall see him as he is’ not only ensures that ‘we shall be like him’ (1 John 3:2; cf. 2 Cor. 3:18) but already, in measure, presupposes it. To know God face to face and see his form was the supreme privilege of Moses (Deut. 34:10; Num. 12:8), and since he saw him not in dreams but waking (Num. 12:6f.) some expositors suggest that the words when I awake meant to the psalmist no more than this. But a variety of strong expressions in the psalms (see on 16:9ff., and the references listed at 11:7) support the view that awake is used here of resurrection, as it undoubtedly is in Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2. It is a climax which abundantly answers the prayer of verse 7, ‘Wondrously show thy steadfast love.’[6]

15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.

  1. As for me.” “I neither envy nor covet these men’s happiness, but partly have and partly hope for a far better.” To behold God’s face and to be changed by that vision into his image, so as to partake in his righteousness, this is my noble ambition; and in the prospect of this I cheerfully waive all my present enjoyments. My satisfaction is to come; I do not look for it as yet. I shall sleep awhile, but I shall wake at the sound of the trumpet; wake to everlasting joy, because I arise in thy likeness, O my God and King! Glimpses of glory good men have here below to stay their sacred hunger, but the full feast awaits them in the upper skies. Compared with this deep, ineffable, eternal fulness of delight, the joys of the worldling are as a glowworm to the sun, or the drop of a bucket to the ocean.[7]

[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 200–201). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Jacobson, R. A., & Tanner, B. (2014). Book One of the Psalter: Psalms 1–41. In E. J. Young, R. K. Harrison, & R. L. Hubbard Jr. (Eds.), The Book of Psalms (p. 189). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[3] Harman, A. (2011). Psalms: A Mentor Commentary (Vol. 1–2, p. 183). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[4] Bullock, C. H. (2015). Psalms 1–72. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (Vol. 1, pp. 122–123). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Rydelnik, M. A., & Vanlaningham, M. (Eds.). (2014). Psalms. In The moody bible commentary (p. 774). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[6] Kidner, D. (1973). Psalms 1–72: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 15, pp. 106–107). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[7] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 1-26 (Vol. 1, p. 221). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

January 19, 2020 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

13:5 But I trust … in your salvation. The conjunction “but” (Heb. adversative waw) is the fulcrum on which David’s faith turns: “But I trust …” The “I” is emphatic and is a casus pendens: “but as for me, I trust in your unfailing love.” The backdrop of this verse is most likely political conflict, and thus “salvation” is deliverance from the political danger. This word in time and changing circumstances takes on a spiritual meaning and here very well may have such a nuance, that is, deliverance from the oppressive sense of God’s having forgotten the psalmist.[1]

Ver. 5. But I have trusted in Thy mercy.On the mercy of God:

  1. What is meant by the mercy of God? Mercy differs from goodness in that it supposes guilt. Without the fall of man there could have been no occasion for his redemption; and without the plan of redemption it does not appear that we could have formed any opinion of the Divine mercy.
  2. How does it remedy man’s misery? The two evils to which man is exposed are sin and death. Yet they differ only as cause and effect. Sin is the distemper, and death the issue of it. Against sin God hath provided by giving us the light of Scripture; against death by the new principle of life infused into the Christian from the time of his baptismal regeneration.

III. What is it to trust in this mercy? We cannot do so till we know what we have to fear. But men are insensible of this, because self-satisfied and resting in a mistaken confidence. To trust in God is to renounce all self-confidence, and to rely on the mercy of God. Do not mistake presumption for trust. They who do, think that God’s mercy is only to deliver from punishment. It is to deliver from sin.

  1. The joy and comfort following. “My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation.” (A. Jones, M.A.)

Mercy and joy:

The minister of the Gospel is to proclaim free grace everywhere. But the heart must be awakened ere it can receive the truth of God’s grace.

  1. The experimental statement of David. “I have trusted in Thy mercy.” He was a sinner, but here was all his hope. This the test of true discipleship, whether we have come to trust as David did, and to hope in the mercy of God through Jesus Christ. And he knew this experimentally. Dry doctrines will not suffice alone. They would starve a soul. There must be experience. David here tells out his sorrow. He mourns God’s delays. But he trusts in God.
  2. His experience. “My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation.” He had trusted, and he anticipates rejoicing. Here was the shelter, the anchor of his soul. The Church and the Christian can never be ship-wrecked, for the anchor holds. He speaks of a heart joy. No one can know anything about heart-rejoicing but those who have been heart-achers. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” How blessed it is to experience the stillness and the quietness of the peace of God. Compared with this, what is the world worth? (J. J. West, M.A.)

My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation.—A renovation of heart essential to a state of salvation:

  1. Without the renovation of the heart there can be no distinct knowledge of the Gospel. The natural mind cannot receive the things of God; they are spiritually discerned. The mind must be renewed, that the man may become spiritual.
  2. Nor can there be a new nature. This is essential to the enjoyment of salvation. For how can we enjoy that which is opposed to our feelings, desires, habits? We have no enjoyment in the society of those who are the objects of our aversion. The “enmity” of the mind must be “slain” by the constraining power of the love of Christ; but this involves renovation.
  3. Unless the heart is renewed by the Spirit of God there is no possibility of accounting for the discovery and preparation of a plan of redemption at all. Was it worthy of the Divinity to do all that He has done in redemption for the sake of saving those He never intended to change and purify?
  4. This renovation of heart is essential to the enjoyment of heaven. Take an individual from the lowest ranks of society, and place him in the midst of the high-born, the educated, the refined; where will be his enjoyment? The unrenewed man, set in the midst of those who have their “conversation in heaven,” has no relish for the company, and gladly turns from it. The reason for finding no interest in heaven is—unrenewedness of heart. (J. Burnet.)[2]

Verse 5.—“I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.” Faith rejoiceth in tribulations, and triumpheth before the victory. The patient is glad when he feels his physic to work, though it make him sick for the time because he hopes it will procure health. We rejoice in afflictions, not that they are joyous for the present, but because they shall work for our good. As faith rejoiceth, so it triumpheth in assurance of good success; for it seeth not according to outward appearance, but when all means fail, it keepeth God in sight, and beholdeth him present for our succour.—John Ball.

Verse 5.—“I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.” Though passion possess our bodies, let “patience possess our souls.” The law of our profession binds us to a warfare; patiendo vincimus, our troubles shall end, our victory is eternal. Here David’s triumph (Psalm 18:38–40), “I have wounded them, that they were not able to rise; they are fallen under my feet. Thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me. Thou hast also given me the neck of mine enemies,” etc. They have wounds for their wounds; and the treaders down of the poor are trodden down by the poor. The Lord will subdue those to us that would have subdued us to themselves; and though for a short time they rode over our heads, yet now at last we shall everlastingly tread upon their necks. Lo, then, the reward of humble patience and confident hope. Speramus et superamus. Deut. 32:31. “Our God is not as their God, even our enemies being judges.” Psalm 20:7. “Some put their trust in chariots, and some in horses.” But no chariot hath strength to oppose, nor horse swiftness to escape, when God pursues. Verse 8. “They are brought down and fallen; we are risen and stand upright.” Their trust hath deceived them; down they fall, and never to rise. Our God hath helped us; we are risen, not for a breathing space, but to stand upright for ever.—Thomas Adams.

Verse 5.—None live so easily, so pleasantly, as those that live by faith.—Matthew Henry.

Verse 5.—Wherefore I say again, “Live by faith;” again I say, always live by it, rejoice through faith in the Lord. I dare boldly say it is thy fault and neglect of its exercise if thou suffer either thy own melancholy humour or Satan to interrupt thy mirth and spiritual alacrity, and to detain thee in dumps and pensiveness at any time. What if thou beest of a sad constitution? of a dark complexion? Is not faith able to rectify nature? Is it not stronger than any hellebore? Doth not an experienced divine and physician worthily prefer one dram of it before all the drugs in the apothecary’s shop for this effect? Hath it not sovereign virtue in it, to excerebrate all cares, expectorate all fears and griefs, evacuate the mind of all ill thoughts and passions, to exhilarate the whole man? But what good doth it to any to have a cordial by him if he use it not? To wear a sword, soldier-like, by his side, and not to draw it forth in an assault? When a dump overtakes thee, if thou wouldst say to thy soul in a word or two, “Soul, why art thou disquieted? know and consider in whom thou believest,” would it not presently return to its rest again? Would not the Master rebuke the winds and storms, and calm thy troubled mind presently? Hath not every man something or other he useth to put away dumps, to drive away the evil spirit, as David with his harp? Some with merry company, some with a cup of sack, most with a pipe of tobacco, without which they cannot ride or go. If they miss it a day together they are troubled with rheums, dulness of spirits. They that live in fens and ill airs dare not stir out without a morning draught of some strong liquor. Poor, silly, smoky helps, in comparison with the least taste (but for dishonouring faith I would say whiff) or draught of faith.—Samuel Ward, 1577–1653.[3]

[1] Bullock, C. H. (2015). Psalms 1–72. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (Vol. 1, p. 91). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Exell, J. S. (1909). The Biblical Illustrator: The Psalms (Vol. 1, pp. 199–200). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company; Francis Griffiths.

[3] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 1-26 (Vol. 1, pp. 157–158). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

January 19, 2020 Morning Verse Of The Day

23 Character traits, pride and humility. A humble spirit brings honor and respect. The verse contrasts consequences: pride leads to abasement, but humility brings exaltation. The lines are tied together with a paronomasia between “brings low” (tašpîlennû) and “lowly [šepal] in spirit.” McKane, 633, explains that the lowly one can learn, but “pride is a way of descent to mediocrity or worse” (see Lk 14:11; 18:14).[1]

23 The next in the series moves to the arrogant. Its antithetical parallels juxtapose the pride of a mortal (ʿādām, see I: 89) with the lowly in spirit (see 16:19). “Pride” derives from a root meaning “to be high” and so constitutes a precise antithetical parallel of “lowly.” G. V. Smith and V. P. Hamilton comment: “pride is a fundamental attitude of self-sufficiency because of which a person throws off humility and pursues selfish desires. In pride a person rejects the need for dependence on God or his laws and despises moral or social limitations that regulate behavior according to the highest good for others.” His opposite, the humble (Job 5:11; Prov. 16:19; 29:23), has an attitude of dependence upon God and of submission to his moral ordering of society. In that upright order one behaves to achieve the highest good of others and bestows on others their rights to life, home, property and reputation, as mandated in the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:13–16). The parallels also juxtapose their respective predicates, will bring him low (see 16:19; 25:7) versus will lay hold of (and hold fast to, see 3:18) honor (see 3:16). The imprecise antithesis suggests that the lowly will be exalted and that the proud mortal will lose his social esteem and influence, his property, and all he gained for the moment by raising his fist against heaven and by transgressing the boundaries of the others on earth (see 11:2; 15:33; 16:5, 18f; 18:12; 21:4; 22:4; 30:21–23; Mt 19:30; 23:12 [= Lk 14:11; 18:14]).[2]

29:23. A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.

Here, again, is the oft-repeated theme of ‘pride’ and ‘a humble spirit.’ Proverbs repeatedly tells us that God is opposed to the proud. It stands directly opposed to the fear of the Lord, the major theme of this book (Prov. 8:13; 15:33; 22:4). Indeed, the proud man is an abomination to the Lord (Prov. 16:5). Little wonder that God guarantees to ‘bring him low.’ Pride pulls ‘dishonor’ (Prov. 11:2), ‘destruction’ (Prov. 16:18; 18:12), and ‘stumbling’ (Prov. 16:18) in its train. Nebuchadnezzar boasted of his sovereignty, but was brought down by the true Sovereign (Dan. 4:30–31). Jesus added His voice to this assurance: ‘[W]hoever exalts himself shall be humbled’ (Matt. 23:12a), as did his half-brother James: ‘God is opposed to the proud’ (James 4:6).

On the other hand (‘But’), one who possesses humility ‘will obtain honor.’ Humility not only pulls ‘honor’ (Prov. 15:33; 18:12b) in its train, but also ‘riches’ and ‘life’ (Prov. 22:4). Humility is paralleled with the fear of the Lord (Prov. 15:33; 22:4). ‘But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word’ (Isa. 66:2b). Jesus promises, ‘[H]e who humbles himself shall be exalted’ (Luke 14:11; 18:14b). ‘Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you’ (Prov. 4:10). ‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time’ (1 Pet. 5:6).

The irony of God’s justice is inescapable: By lifting yourself up, you bring yourself low, and by recognizing your lowliness, you incite God to lift you up.[3]

29:23. Ironically, the proud man, who craves to be exalted, will be brought low while a man of lowly or humble spirit will be exalted with honor (cf. Jb 5:11; Jms 4:10). There may be many reasons for this: the proud depend on themselves and go their own way while the humble depend on God and submit to His moral order (Waltke, Book of Proverbs 15–31, 450); the humble are teachable while the proud refuse to learn from their mistakes (Longman, Proverbs, 509); society finds the proud obnoxious and the humble winsome (Clifford, Proverbs, 255); or the Lord judges the proud and blesses the humble. But whatever the reason, the general principle stands.[4]

Ver. 23. A man’s pride shall bring him low.On pride:

Pride, though it implies an assumption of superiority, has a manifest tendency to degradation.

  1. A man’s pride will bring him low because it subjects him to the imputation of folly. There is no condition of life that can warrant the indulgence of this sinful and corrupt passion. The maxims of human policy teach us that in proportion to the trust must be the responsibility. The uncertainty and imperfection of every blessing which this world affords should alone be sufficient to prevent that silly exaltation of the mind which constitutes pride. Neither abundance of riches nor superior endowments of the mind are a sufficient justification for pride. Neither the acquisition of fame, the flatteries of self-love, nor the consciousness of distinguished merit, should swell the heart with arrogance or pride. The truest characteristics of superior greatness and superior wisdom are modesty and humility; modesty freed from false shame, and humility without affectation or abasement. If these motives are insufficient to warrant the indulgence of pride, much less ought it to arise from the casual distinction of rank in the different orders of men. Pride is not confined to any particular rank or station. From whatever cause it proceeds, it always betokens weakness, folly, and corruption.
  2. The various evils, and the general depravity which it produces. The text is often verified as “pride produces poverty.” More persons have sunk into poverty from this cause than from any other. From indulging in a thousand idle expenses, in order to support a kind of pompous vanity, the proud man can seldom spare a charitable mite “to give to him that needeth.” Pride is also the source of continual mortification. The petty vexations of pride that are compounded with every vain, selfish, and malignant passion have no claim to our indulgence. Pride is more productive of quarrels, bitterness, and strife than anything else. This base and selfish passion always creates, and always keeps alive, a watchful and incessant jealousy of power. Hence the mildest exhortation and the most friendly remonstrance is often converted into the bitterness of accusation or the insolence of reproach. This odious vice is seen at its worst in the awful end of the suicide. The dreadful act of self-destruction is often committed in the evil moment of wounded pride or mortified ambition. The proud man sits on an imaginary eminence of his own creation, and propagates servility or wretchedness all around him. In a mind thus bewildered and deceived the first principle of improvement is wanting. He who is not conscious of any defect can have no sufficient motive for amendment. Pride never appears so sinful and offensive as when we consider man in relation to his Maker. Then we perceive it destroying the efficacy and poisoning the very source of all those virtues which he is chiefly bound to practise. The proud man is in reality always degraded in proportion as he thinks himself exalted. (J. Hewlett, B.D.)

Honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.Honour:

This word means “nobleness of mind.” It is a natural instinct of human nature to be trustful, especially when a man’s honour is at stake; but there has been so much deception as to make almost everybody doubt everybody else. Every representation we make should be the truth; a deception is never excusable.

  1. Honour is an acquired nature. The germ of honour is born in us, but every child has to be taught by example and precept to cultivate it. We sometimes cram our children too much with catechism, and omit to cultivate their honour. There is as much religion in being honourable as in being prayerful.
  2. Honour should become an essential part of our nature. It is only the ignorant and the foolish who can be tickled by a title or a name. Let us seek to have honour in our nature. Honour should grow in us and become an essential part of our nature. Uncommon honour should be the common practice of everybody.
  3. Honour should be the principle of all our transactions. Whether you gain by it or not, be honourable. Let your honour be as true in the dark as in the light.
  4. In honour prefer one another. Do not gibe at a friend or detract from an enemy. If you can praise one another, do so, but never throw mud at anybody. If you really know that a man or woman is doing wrong, be honourable enough to tell them so, and not so mean as to talk of it behind their backs. Be honourable in all your sayings and in all your doings, so that this world, through you, may become a more joyous dwelling-place. (W. Birch.)[5]

[1] Ross, A. P. (2008). Proverbs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, p. 232). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Waltke, B. K. (2005). The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 15–31 (p. 450). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] Kitchen, J. A. (2006). Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary (p. 670). Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[4] Finkbeiner, D. (2014). Proverbs. In M. A. Rydelnik & M. Vanlaningham (Eds.), The moody bible commentary (p. 963). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[5] Exell, J. S. (n.d.). Proverbs (pp. 666–667). New York; Chicago; Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company.

January 18, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

Reflection on God’s Promises (12:6)

6 The assurance of the godly ultimately lies in God’s promises. His “words” (= “promises”) are pure (= “flawless”), refined like silver that has been subjected to a sevenfold process of purification (cf. 18:30; 119:140). Over against the lies, deceptions, false honesty, treachery, perverse speech, and scheming of the wicked is God’s word! The OT is full of his promises, which have been confirmed by our Lord (2 Co 1:20). Bellinger, 62–63, concludes that the certainty of the psalmist arises from a prophetic insight and that “salvation is now being actualized; these verses give a prophetic vision of judgment and deliverance from the present crisis and are then clearly to be seen as a prophetic element in the psalm since they anticipate God’s deliverance of the worshipers.”[1]

And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times (v. 6). The contrast with the words of the deceivers is so clear. The Lord’s words are pure, i.e. they have been purified like silver in the furnace, and so they stand forever (cf. the use of the same expression for the law of the Lord in 19:9). The reference to ‘seven times’ simply denotes the completeness of the process. The Lord’s words contain no dross, and so can be relied upon. The implication is that the words of the deceivers are all dross![2]

12:6 the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified … seven times. Now the Lord’s words are placed in contrast to those of the wicked. “Flawless” is the Hebrew “pure” (tehorot), which is here a synonym of “true.” The Lord’s words, like refined silver, are words that have no impurities. Proverbs describes the Torah in terms of the precious value of silver (Prov. 2:4; 3:14). The word “purified” (Hebrew tsarup, passive participle) further defines “flawless.” Malachi uses the verb to say that the Lord will purify his people as the “refiner” purifies silver (Mal. 3:3). “Seven times” is really the dual form of the number seven and should be understood as “twice seven times,” meaning numerous times.[3]

6. How beautifully is this verse introduced, by way of contrast to what was said before concerning the words of the ungodly. Do sinners talk of vanity? let saints then speak of Jesus and his gospel. Do they talk impure words? then let the faithful use the pure words of God, which, like silver, the more used, the more melted in the fire, the more precious will they be. It is true indeed, despisers will esteem both God and his word as trifling; but oh! what unknown treasure doth the word, the promises, the covenant relation of the divine things of Jesus, contain! They are more to be desired than gold, yea than fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb.[4]

Ver. 6. The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.The excellence of the Holy Scriptures:

  1. The holy description of the sacred writings here given. It tells of—
  2. Their high authority. The men who wrote these books say, “The Spirit of God spoke by me, and His Word was upon my tongue,” “Thus saith the Lord,” and so on. Thus they claim high authority. But you may ask, “How are we to know it?” Therefore note—
  3. Their inherent sanctity. “The words of the Lord are pure words.” And are they not so? Some say the book is immoral because it records immoral actions. But could the Scriptures have given a faithful account of human nature without such records? Those who study the Bible most are those who most of all live and practise all the public and social virtues. Modern infidels are not so candid as those of the former century. Rousseau could say, “I will confess that the majority of the Scriptures strike me with admiration, as the purity of the Gospel hath its influence on my heart. Peruse the works of our philosophers, with all their pomp of diction: how mean, how contemptible are they compared with the Scriptures! Is it possible that a book at once so simple and sublime should be merely the work of man?”
  4. Their intrinsic worth. In our text they are compared to the finest silver and gold. And in Psalm 119. And this eulogy is deserved, because they speak of God and man reasonably and in harmony with our experience. They satisfy man upon the most anxious questions.
  5. The scrutiny they have endured. “Tried in the furnace, purified seven times.” The reference is to the searching process of the refiner, by which he detects the presence of any alloy and removes it. And the Word of God has passed under a scrutiny like that of fire. It is not accepted on mere hearsay and because of the teachings of priests.
  6. It has been thoroughly investigated. Josephus gives his testimony to the sacred books of the Jews. Hence the Old Testament is evidently not a book of yesterday. And from the testimony of the Fathers we know that the books of the New Testament have existed from the time they profess. The ancient versions confirm this. The entire New Testament might be collated out of the quotations made by the Fathers.
  7. Then there has been antiquarian and scientific research. And these do homage to the testimony of revelation.
  8. Philosophical and moral discoveries likewise bear their testimony. All the philosophies of China and India, and yet others, have been searched, and they have been found poor and unsatisfactory, like the glimmer of gas lights at noonday, compared with the Scriptures. That eminent Oriental scholar, Sir William Jones, says, “The Scriptures contain, independently of a Divine origin, more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains, both of poetry and eloquence, than could be collected within the same compass from all other books that were ever composed in any age or in any tongue.” Now these are not the testimonies of priests, but of laymen, learned, travelled, and who have become acquainted with the literature of all nations. And should any be disposed to trifle with the Bible, let me quote to him two lines from a poem penned by one of the greatest geniuses that has ever adorned our empire, and whose intellectual light has been just lost to us—

“Better he had ne’er been born

Who reads to doubt, who reads to scorn.”

(J. Blackburn.)

Testing the truth:

The Psalmist is telling of the Word of God, and contrasting it with the words of men. He tells of those who speak vanity. “With flattering lips and a double heart do they speak.” He wants something better, and finds it in the Word of the Lord. For in contrast with man’s weakness and falsehood there was the Divine promise immediately made, “For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now,” &c. May that be depended upon? May we take heart? Yes, “For the words of the Lord are pure words,” &c. So then, we may apply this text to the Bible.

  1. By the prolonged and severe conflict it has had with all the evil of our world. There are two great forces in the moral world, that of evil—the world, the flesh, and the devil, and that of good—in truth, in holiness, and in love. And God is the source of all this good. Now, if the words are of God they will be like Him; which is just what they are. And they will occupy His place, bitter against nothing but evil, enamoured of nothing but good. And they will do His work. So they do, have done everywhere and always, under all circumstances and amid all conditions.
  2. By all the contradictions of unbelief. Concerning Him it is said, “He endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself.” Just so it has been with the Word of God, and is so now. They have heated the furnace to the intensest heat, and cast the Bible in, and the result is that it has lost nothing but the tinsel of man’s folly or the bonds wherewith men’s authority sought to bind it.

III. By the evil consequences of the conduct of false professors. We complain of the unfair dealing of unbelief. Naturally. But there are others who deserve our indignation far more, and these are those who profess to be, but are not, friends of the Gospel or of the words of God. Worldly men, who have determined to make it a political engine. Hence it has been encumbered with ceremonies and dogmas; kept back from the people; man’s own interpretations fastened upon it, as if they were the words of God Himself.

  1. The infirmities and inconsistencies of its real friends. Many of you here profess to be its real friends. Some of you hold prominent positions, and, like Peter and John, you bid men look on you and see what your religion can do. And men do look on you and judge the Word of God by you. And they see very soon where there are inconsistencies in you; whilst, on the other hand, there is nothing so awes the world as the spirituality, unselfishness, and devotedness of earnest holiness. But who of us can profess fitly to represent the Word of God? How imperfect are the best of men.
  2. By the spiritual discernment of all sanctified men. In one sense the Word of God tries a man, for according as he acts towards it so does he reveal his spiritual state. On the other hand, all holy souls test the living Word. “My sheep hear My voice,” said the Saviour, “but a stranger will they not follow.”
  3. By the personal experience of both saints and sinners.

VII. by those, most of all, who have most thoroughly lived in it and worked hardest for it. If I want to know the sustaining qualities of any particular kind of food I observe those who live most on it, yet do the greatest amount of work, and with the greatest ease, and, nevertheless, show the most robust health. And so, would I know what the Word of God can do, I turn to those who are such as I have described. See Paul. Hear him say, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthened me.” All of you who hear the Word, bind it to your hearts, and let it be your holy resolve, God helping you, to live as well as speak His Word. (John Aldis.)

The Word of God tested and proven:

The fable that there were animals that lived in the fire, called Salamanders, came from the glowing brilliance of some metals that, when they are heated to a white heat, acquire a supernatural splendour, and apparently a new and mysterious life. The metal seems now to live, breathe, heave, move at every new expansion and contraction; a hundred hues, indescribably brilliant and radiant, play around the molten surface. Of all books, the Word of God is the only one with Salamander qualities. The flames of persecution and hostile criticism, instead of effecting its destruction, have but added to its lustre and strengthened its claims to be indeed “the Word of the Lord that endureth for ever.” (A. T. Pierson, D.D.)[5]

Verse 6.—What a contrast between the vain words of man, and the pure words of Jehovah. Man’s words are yea and nay, but the Lord’s promises are yea and amen. For truth, certainty, holiness, faithfulness, the words of the Lord are pure as well-refined silver. In the original there is an allusion to the most severely-purifying process known to the ancients, through which silver was passed when the greatest possible purity was desired; the dross was all consumed, and only the bright and precious metal remained; so clear and free from all alloy of error or unfaithfulness is the book of the words of the Lord. The Bible has passed through the furnace of persecution, literary criticism, philosophic doubt, and scientific discovery, and has lost nothing but those human interpretations which clung to it as alloy to precious ore. The experience of saints has tried it in every conceivable manner, but not a single doctrine or promise has been consumed in the most excessive heat. What God’s words are, the words of his children should be. If we would be Godlike in conversation, we must watch our language, and maintain the strictest purity of integrity and holiness in all our communications.[6]

[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 168). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Harman, A. (2011). Psalms: A Mentor Commentary (Vol. 1–2, p. 159). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[3] Bullock, C. H. (2015). Psalms 1–72. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (Vol. 1, p. 83). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary: Job–Psalms (Vol. 4, p. 197). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[5] Exell, J. S. (1909). The Biblical Illustrator: The Psalms (Vol. 1, pp. 192–193). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company; Francis Griffiths.

[6] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 1-26 (Vol. 1, p. 143). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

January 18, 2020 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

God Is the Refuge of the Righteous (11:7)

7 The “righteous” (ṣaddîq) God loves those who do righteous acts (edāqôt; NIV, “justice”; cf. Isa 33:15–16). He who sees and examines all people promises that only the “upright” (yāšār) of heart (cf. v. 2) will see him (cf. 17:15; 63:2; Mt 5:8; 1 Jn 3:2; Rev 22:4). To see the face of God is an expression of deliverance from adversity, of close communion, and of the reality of God’s blessed presence (cf. 23:6; 63:2) in this world and in the world to come (cf. Dahood, 1:71)[1]

For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face (v. 7). How differently God will act towards the righteous! He himself is righteous and he loves justice, i.e. the righteous deeds done by his people. The phrase ‘loves justice’ could mean that God loves to do righteous deeds, but this is less likely in the context. The final outcome is that the upright in heart will see God’s presence manifested in his saving deliverance of them. It is possible that the vision of God here is the ultimate vision of him that every believer will have after death (see the two important passages for this concept, Psalm 17:15; Job 19:26–27). The psalmist returns at the end of the psalm to the same confession he made at the beginning.[2]

11:7 / Upright men will see his face: Two Hb. words cause difficulty here. Hb. pānêmô should usually be construed as “their face,” but who is the antecedent to “their”? GKC (p. 302) notes, however, that there appear to be other ot instances where this Hb. suffix should be rendered, “his face.” The ancient versions support this reading. Hb. yāšār is a singular adjective (“upright”), though according to BDB it can function as a noun (“the right,” “the upright one”), even a collective noun (“the upright ones”). We should observe, however, that Hb. yōšer is the normal form for the singular noun and Hb. yešārîm for the collective noun (as in v. 2). In addition, it is unclear which of these two Hb. words is the subject of the pl. verb and which is the object (sing., collective nouns can be combined with pl. verbs, as in 74:18). There are thus three possibilities: “His face will see the right” (a claim consistent with the rest of the v., so lxx), “His face will see the upright one” (a claim consistent with vv. 4–5), and “The upright ones will see his face” (cf. 17:15).[3]

11:7 he loves justice; the upright will see his face. The first clause draws a contrast between the Lord—indeed, his character—who “loves justice,” and the wicked, who “love violence” (11:5). In the Old Testament human beings are forbidden to see Yahweh’s face (Gen. 32:30; Exod. 33:11, 20), which is a metaphor for admission into God’s presence and an Old Testament precursor of the final state of redemption in Jesus Christ (Rev. 22:4). See statement at the beginning of the “Understanding the Text” section.[4]

The Ultimate Hope of Trusting God: Beholding His Face (11:7b)

11:7b. By contrast, the ultimate hope of the upright is to behold His face. This is a unique (and perhaps the greatest) hope for believers, looking forward not simply to worshiping an eternally transcendent God, but enjoying intimate fellowship with Him (see the comments on Gn 1:26; 2:7; 3:8). In seeing God’s face, His person and presence are revealed. Jesus Himself referred to this same idea in the sixth beatitude: “Blessed are the pure in heart (synonymous with the Hb. term here translated upright), for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8).[5]

7. The psalm ends, as it began, with the Lord, whose character as righteous answers all the fear of 3a and the frustration of 3b. ‘The foundations’ of righteousness are none other than his nature and will: what he is and what he loves (7). And if the first line of the psalm showed where the believer’s safety lies, the last line shows where his heart should be. God as ‘refuge’ may be sought from motives that are all too self-regarding; but to behold his face is a goal in which only love has any interest. The psalmists knew the experience of seeing God with the inward eye in worship (e.g. 27:4; 63:2); but there is little doubt that they were led to look beyond this to an unmediated vision when they would be ransomed and awakened from death ‘to behold (his) face in righteousness’ (cf. 16:8–11; 17:15; 23:6; 49:15; 73:23ff.; 139:18).[6]

Ver. 7. The righteous Lord loveth righteousness.The righteous God and righteousness:

“Righteousness” may be taken as but another word for “rightness”, equity, justice, the being and rendering what is right. Here it describes God. It is the quality which binds and blends into a perfect unity all His Divine perfections. We feel instinctively that righteousness is essential to Divine perfection. Show how this statement that God is a righteous God bears on matters of faith and practice. God, because He is the righteous Lord, loveth righteousness.

  1. This will explain a peculiarity in the redemption accomplished for us through the atoning death of Christ. The problem to be solved was, how can the love of God be manifested, and righteousness be at the same time upheld in all the majesty of its eternal rectitude?
  2. There is much which is mysterious, perplexing, and inexplicable in God’s providential dealings. But throw on all these mysterious providences the light of this statement, that “the Lord is righteous and loveth righteousness,” and you calm the troubled spirit to patience and submission. Then with entire trustfulness you would leave yourselves in God’s hands. In the conviction of His righteousness, let us face the problems and perplexities which confront us in the world. Now see how this statement bears on all the business of life between man and man. “His countenance doth behold the upright”: beholds them, that is, with special favour and approval, because He sees reflected in them, however imperfectly, the lineaments of His own Divine image. (R. Allen, M.A.).[7]

Verse 7.—The Lord possesses righteousness as a personal attribute, loves it in the abstract, and blesses those who practise it.[8]

[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 164). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Harman, A. (2011). Psalms: A Mentor Commentary (Vol. 1–2, pp. 155–156). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[3] Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (p. 81). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Bullock, C. H. (2015). Psalms 1–72. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (Vol. 1, p. 76). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Rydelnik, M. A., & Vanlaningham, M. (Eds.). (2014). Psalms. In The moody bible commentary (p. 769). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[6] Kidner, D. (1973). Psalms 1–72: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 15, p. 91). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[7] Exell, J. S. (1909). The Biblical Illustrator: The Psalms (Vol. 1, pp. 184–185). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company; Francis Griffiths.

[8] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 1-26 (Vol. 1, p. 140). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

January 18, 2020 Morning Verse Of The Day

6  For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.

7  Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
8  The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 138:6–8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Confidence in the Lord’s Presence (138:7–8)

7–8 The psalm ends on a personal reflection even as it began on a personal note of thanksgiving. Confident of his God, to whom the nations must one day submit themselves, the believer confesses his indubitable faith in the Savior-King. He anticipates more “trouble” in life because the life of a believer is not immune from adversities. But despite the hardships, he rests assured. He knows the difference between being self-assured and assured, between pride and lowliness. The difference shows in his two confessions. The first is couched in the second person: “you preserve … you stretch out … you save me” (imperfect in Heb., v. 7), and the other in the third person: “The Lord will” (v. 8). These expressions are the language of faith.

The Lord will keep his saint alive (cf. 119:25; 143:11) and deliver him from danger and from his “foes.” The psalmist portrays the Lord as reaching out his “hand” as an expression of help, while dealing in judgment with those who cause his adversity (cf. 144:7; Ex 3:20; 9:15). His “right hand” signifies strength (cf. 60:5; 139:10).

Confidence also comes from a recognition that the Lord has a purpose. This purpose also includes individuals (“purpose for me,” v. 8; cf. 57:2; Ro 8:28). Confidence is not misplaced, because the Lord has shown an interest in his creation and in his people (“the works of your hands”; cf. 90:16; 92:5; 143:5; Isa 60:21; 64:8). His concern is of the most profound and lasting kind, as it is nothing less than his enduring “love” (ḥesed).[1]

7–8 In the last two verses of Psalm 138, the psalm-singer shifts the focus once again from the earthly realm of kings to the oppression (ṣārâ) of my enemies (ʾôyēb̠). The two words are often used in parallel poetic construction in the Hebrew Psalter (see Psalm 42, for example).

The psalm-singer refers to the hand of the Lord three times in the closing cola of Psalm 138. God sends forth a hand; God’s hand delivers the psalmist; and the psalmist requests that the doings of God’s hands not come to an end (rāp̱â). The verbal root rāp̱â means “be slack, be loosened, be weak.” The psalmist has experienced God’s upholding hands over and over in the past and petitions God in v. 8 to continue to uphold and protect.

In the aftermath of the Babylonian exile, the Israelites questioned their very identity and future as the people of God. Book Five of the Psalter celebrates a new realization by the people that they can continue to exist as a specially called people by acknowledging God as their sovereign and worshipping faithfully. Psalms of David dominate the end of the Psalter (Psalms 138–45). David was the great king of ancient Israel, the king with whom God made a lasting covenant. David now leads the people in the acknowledgement of the place of God within their lives. The words of Psalm 138 celebrate the name, the hesed, the faithfulness, the words, the glory, and the intimate care of God. The psalm-singer reminds the faithful that their God is a God who remembers and cares and that their God is a God worthy of thanks and worship, a God above all gods.[2]

Confidence in God’s Keeping Power (vv. 6–8)

Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me (vv. 6–7). The God of glory stoops to look with favour on the lowly (shâfâl; cf. 136:23, ‘who remembered us in our low estate’), while at the same time he notes from afar (possibly meaning, ‘from heaven’) the character of the proud. These he mocks, but to the lowly he gives grace (Prov. 3:34). The psalmist knows that, in his dangerous situations, he has been protected by God, with God’s hand being turned towards him in saving power. However, that same hand is turned to oppose his hateful enemies.

The Lord will fulfil [his purpose] for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands (v. 8). The verb ‘fulfil’ (Hebrew gâmar) is a rare word, but, as in Psalm 57:2, it seems to refer to God’s purpose or will being completed, and hence the niv addition of the words ‘his purpose’ brings out the meaning well. Part of that purpose is that covenant love is maintained for all time (see the refrain in Ps. 136, ‘his love endures forever’). The final prayer is that God’s people will not be abandoned. This interpretation of ‘the works of your hands’ is supported by reference to Isaiah 60:21 and 64:8.[3]

138:7–8 / After celebrating the international scope of Yahweh’s praise, the psalm returns to the worshiper’s own situation, this time with a view towards the future. His recent deliverance (v. 3) gives confidence for future protection: Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. Yet the ultimate basis for this confidence lies not in this historical precedent, but in the character of Yahweh himself: your love, O Lord, endures forever. To confirm this future relationship, this thanksgiving psalm closes with a petition that Yahweh not abandon the works of his hands.

Surprisingly, Yahweh’s exaltation above all does not entail his distance from us. He does not become a remote monarch. In fact, paradoxically his exaltation goes together with his commitment to a relationship with the “lowly.” Yahweh’s subjugation of all enemies signifies his “exaltation” above all. And his subjugation of enemies entails the preservation of his allies.[4]

138:7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble. The word “trouble” can have the meaning of the underworld (Sheol; see Jon. 2:3), but here it probably means simply any kind of trouble in this world. The whole psalm is a victory celebration for David, who has triumphed over his enemies, and verse 8 picks up the theme of Psalm 136, that God’s love (hesed) has accomplished these blessings for David and Israel.

138:8 The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever. The verb translated as “vindicate” also means “to complete” (ESV: “fulfill his purpose for me”). Since the psalm closes with a petition that Yahweh not “abandon the works of [his] hands” (138:8c), it would imply that his work on the psalmist (and Israel) is not yet complete, but they are confident that he will complete it, for his love “endures forever.” The prayer that God not abandon them (“the works of your hands”) elicits thoughts of the exile and other troubles double-tracked in Israel’s historical experience (see “Additional Insights: The Model of Historical Double-Tracking,” following this unit).[5]

Praise God for His Future Faithfulness (138:7–8)

138:7–8. As in Ps 23, David expresses his confidence in the Lord, Though I walk in the midst of trouble (cf. Ps 23 and comments there). God will stretch forth His hand is a frequent expression of God’s judgment (cf. Ex 7:5; 15:12; Is 5:25; Jr 51:25) against the wrath of my (David’s, and by extension, Israel’s) enemies. But in contrast, David concluded with the confident assertion, Your right hand will save me (cf. Pss 20:6; 60:5; 118:25) and that God would accomplish what concerns me (cf. 57:2). His affirmation that God not forsake him and His people, the works of Your hand (cf. 100:3), alludes to the promise of Dt 31:6.[6]

6–8. All believers in Christ can set their seal to these blessed truths. God’s poor must be in his remembrance; they are his property, and they shall be his care. The Lord will perfect and make good all his promises concerning them. Exercised his people must be; but forgotten they shall not be. The Lord saith to each, and to all, as he said to Jacob, I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of, Gen. 28:15. See the Apostle’s blessed conclusion from the same, Philip. 1:6.[7]

138:7, 8. Help to the end

Meanwhile the vision of verses 4–6 waits to be realized, and times are hard. If the inner resilience of verse 3 was the first part of God’s help, it is not the last. Verse 7 shows his control over the battle, both as ‘the Lord and giver of life’ and as stronger than the enemy; and verse 8 looks beyond the immediate scene to the finished product that God must have in mind in relation to his servant (8a), a work to which he has set his hand (8b). The old translation of 8a is perhaps as memorable as any: ‘The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me’ (av, rv). So the first and last lines of this verse make personal, confident and urgent use of the familiar truth which they embrace in the middle line. To David, hard-pressed and threatened, the words come new-minted: God’s steadfast love … endures for ever.[8]

138:6–8. God helps the vulnerable

The psalmist stands amazed that such a great God cares for the vulnerable (the lowly). He counts himself among their number since he is in the midst of trouble. But God takes care of him and fights off his foes. The psalmist ends with an appeal to God not to abandon him in the midst of the fray.


The psalmist thanks God for answering his prayer. He praises God for his great name and his wonderful promises. He loves the Lord for taking care of the vulnerable, and he calls on the kings of the earth to join in the praise.

During the Old Testament period, the kings of the earth did not praise God; if anything, they resisted and challenged him (Pss 2 and 48). However, when Christ came, the gospel began to spread throughout the earth. Revelation 21:24 pictures the end of time when the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into the new Jerusalem.[9]

Ver. 7. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me.Human life:

  1. The universal law of human life. What is it? It is expressed in one word—walking. Life is a “walk,” a journey. It is constant action, and constant action onward. Life is never stationary; it is always on the move; it is motion.
  2. Constant change of position. Every step puts us in a fresh point of space, and surrounds us with something new in scenery. So with life.
  3. Constant approximation to destiny. The grave for the body; retribution for the soul.
  4. The saddening probabilities of human life. Life is not only a walk, but a walk often “in the midst of trouble.” Since the introduction of sin into our world, it has never been a walk of unmingled pleasure. All here meet with trials on the way; but some more than others. Physical—bodily pains and diseases; moral—the conflict of passions, the remorse of conscience, and the dread of death; social—disappointments in business, the treachery of false friends, the corruption of the world, and the bereavement of death.

III. The grand support of human life. “Thou wilt revive me.”

  1. God is an all-sufficient support. He is equal to all our emergencies. “He is our refuge and strength,” etc. There is no enemy from which He cannot deliver us; there is no trial under which He cannot support us; there is no danger from which He cannot rescue us. In the fiery furnace, in the surging waters, in the “valley of the shadow of death,” He is all-sufficient.
  2. He is the only effective support. No one else can support you. “Put not your trust in princes.”
  3. He is an available support. Available to all at any time. “Call upon Me in the time of trouble and I will deliver you.” (Homilist.)

The Christian’s comfort in the midst of troubles:

  1. The Christian’s troubles. They arise from—
  2. The world within. An evil heart of unbelief; prone to distrust God, to dishonour God, to wander from God.
  3. The world without. Bodily affliction, worldly trials, opposition from the world, etc.
  4. The world beneath. Satan distils his venom in secret.
  5. The Christian’s comforter. Though he walks in trouble, he does not walk alone. Though persecuted, he is not forsaken; though cast down, not destroyed.
  6. God can enter the inner world and bring comfort there, and spread a banquet within, and open a little paradise (Ps. 94:19; Job 35:10; Ps. 27:5).
  7. God can enable us to meet the world without. So He enabled Jacob to meet Esau; Elijah, Baal’s priests; David, Goliath.
  8. God can effectually subdue the world beneath. “Bruise Satan under your feet.”

III. The Christian’s confidence. What it is proved.

  1. What He is—God of mercy.
  2. What He has done.
  3. What He has promised to do. (Evangelist.)[10]

7. “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me.” If I am walking there now, or shall be doing so in years to come, I have no cause for fear; for God is with me, and will give me new life. When we are somewhat in trouble it is bad enough, but it is worse to penetrate into the centre of that dark continent and traverse its midst: yet in such a case the believer makes progress, for he walks; he keeps to a quiet pace, for he does no more than walk; and he is not without the best of company, for his God is near to pour fresh life into him. It is a happy circumstance that, if God be away at any other time, yet he is pledged to be with us in trying hours: “when thou passest through the rivers I will be with thee.” He is in a blessed condition who can confidently use the language of David,—“thou wilt revive me.” He shall not make his boast of God in vain: he shall be kept alive, and made more alive than ever. How often has the Lord quickened us by our sorrows! Are they not his readiest means of exciting to fulness of energy the holy life which dwells within us? If we receive reviving, we need not regret affliction. When God revives us, trouble will never harm us. “Thou shall stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.” This is the fact which would revive fainting David. Our foes fall when the Lord comes to deal with them; he makes short work of the enemies of his people,—with one hand he routs them. His wrath soon quenches their wrath; his hand stays their hand. Adversaries may be many, and malicious, and mighty; but our glorious Defender has only to stretch out his arm and their armies vanish. The sweet singer rehearses his assurance of salvation, and sings of it in the ears of the Lord, addressing him with this confident language. He will be saved,—saved dexterously, decidedly, divinely; he has no doubt about it. God’s right hand cannot forget its cunning; Jerusalem is his chief joy, and he will defend his own elect.[11]

[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 958). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] deClaissé-Walford, N., Jacobson, R. A., & Tanner, B. L. (2014). The Songs of the Ascents: Psalms. In E. J. Young, R. K. Harrison, & R. L. Hubbard Jr. (Eds.), The Book of Psalms (pp. 960–961). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[3] Harman, A. (2011). Psalms: A Mentor Commentary (Vol. 1–2, pp. 959–960). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[4] Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (p. 482). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Bullock, C. H. (2017). Psalms 73–150. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (Vol. 2, pp. 497–498). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books: A Division of Baker Publishing Group.

[6] Rydelnik, M. A., & Vanlaningham, M. (Eds.). (2014). Psalms. In The moody bible commentary (pp. 872–873). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[7] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary: Job–Psalms (Vol. 4, p. 610). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[8] Kidner, D. (1975). Psalms 73–150: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 16, pp. 499–500). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[9] Longman, T., III. (2014). Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary. (D. G. Firth, Ed.) (Vol. 15–16, p. 451). Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

[10] Exell, J. S. (1909). The Biblical Illustrator: The Psalms (Vol. 5, pp. 291–292). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company; Francis Griffiths.

[11] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 120-150 (Vol. 6, p. 246). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

January 17, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

1  O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2  Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 8:1–2). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Ascription of Praise (8:1a)

1a The introductory and concluding ascriptions of praise form an inclusio within which the glory of the Creator is the object of celebration. The Redeemer-God, Yahweh, is Lord over his people. The title “our Lord” (ʾadōnênû) is an address to God as king—“our governor” or “our ruler” (so Coverdale’s rendering, “O Lorde oure Governoure”; cf. 97:5; 110:1)—so to speak of Yahweh as “Lord” was an ascription of kingship in the OT (97:5). The Redeemer-King of Israel is the Creator! His name (Yahweh) is glorious over all the earth by virtue of his creative activities (cf. Ge 1:1–31). What is marvelous is the Great King’s revelation of his glory in, and thereby his self-involvement with, his creation. He, the glorious One, has endowed the earth with glory.

A hymn of praise is sometimes the only way a person can express amazement with God’s glorious rule. The “majesty” of Yahweh’s name radiates from his work on earth and heaven. The word “majestic” (ʾaddîr, “mighty”) is a royal attribute denoting his victories (Ex 15:6), his might in judgment (1 Sa 4:8; Ps 76:4), his law (Isa 42:21), and his rule over creation (Pss 8:9; 93:4). All creation reveals the power and glory of God’s name (Ro 1:20). Only God’s people know how to respond to this revelation of his majesty in nature, because he has revealed his “name” to them (Ex 3:14–15).

The Glory of the Great King (8:1b–2)

1b–2 The glorious rule over heaven is no surprise from a theistic perspective—heaven declares God’s glory (19:1). But the marvel of the biblical view of the Creator is that his creation on earth not only reveals but is also glorious (cf. Isa 6:3). The discordant note sounded by the enemies (v. 2; cf. 44:16) in his creation is silenced by the praise of children (v. 2; cf. Mt 21:15–16). Regardless of how the wicked assert themselves, they cannot outdo the evidence of God’s glory on earth and in heaven. It is all around us (cf. Ro 1:20). His glory is established (NIV, “ordained”), and no enemy can overcome his kingdom.

The translation “you have ordained praise” may also be rendered “you have established a bulwark” (“strength,” NIV text note). The sound of the children is concrete evidence of God’s fortress on earth. The continuity of the human race is God’s way of assuring the ultimate glorification of an earth populated with a new humanity (Hab 2:14). The sound of opposition is silenced by the babbling and chatter of children. What a contrast! What a King![1]

God’s Majesty (vv. 1–2)

The psalm opens with a declaration of the majesty of God’s name. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger (vv. 1–2). God is addressed by the use of the covenantal name, Lord, to which is added ‘our Lord’, using the common word for ‘Lord’ (ʾâdôn). The pronoun ‘our’ most probably relates to Israel, rather than to mankind. The niv rendering of the second part of verse 1 is possible, but it omits the particle ʾasher that commences the clause and takes the verb tenâh as a past tense (‘you have set’). The clause is difficult as both the syntax and the verb are anomalous. Possibly the particle links the two clauses together by carrying forward the idea of God’s majesty, even though ‘splendour’ (ʾaddîr) in the first clause is replaced by ‘majesty’ (hôd) in the second. The verb is either an imperative with an emphatic ending (‘set’), or a perfect (‘you have set’).2 God’s character is seen in the created world, and to believing eyes the whole world manifests God’s glory.

Heaven above is softer blue,

Earth around is sweeter green;

Something lives in every hue,

Christless eyes have never seen.

(George Wade Robinson, ‘Loved with everlasting love’)

There is a fuller explanation of God’s glory in creation in verse 3. Even the young children can be used by God to establish his ‘strength’, and such praise is able to quieten that of his enemies. God is able to use the weak things of this world to confound the mighty (1 Cor. 1:27). Jesus quoted verse 2 in Matthew 21:16 when rebuking the authorities who wanted him to quieten the children shouting his praise when he entered Jerusalem. The quotation is from the LXX version and confirms the place of even little children in offering acceptable praise.[2]

8:1 / In the opening and closing refrain (v. 9) your name points particularly to Yahweh’s self-revelation. The psalm sings of it in universal and cosmic terms by referring to the twin spheres of all the earth and the heavens. This does not imply his name is recognized universally. Rather, those who know his name and so confess him as our Lord can perceive that heavenly and earthly phenomena reflect his handiwork. The horizon of this psalm is all creation, not Israel’s history or the experience of the individual, as in most psalms.[3]

8:1 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth … in the heavens. Note that the tetragrammaton (YHWH, “Lord”) appears only twice in the psalm (8:1, 9), and the language of the psalm is descriptive praise. The second part of this address is the common noun for “lord” (’adonai) that sometimes is used as a substitute for the covenant name, or in conjunction with the tetragrammaton (the former is lower case, and the tetragrammaton is in small capitals). Also, note the universal character of “all the earth” and its appropriateness in a hymn that adores the Creator of the universe. The idea of “majestic” is “excellent” (KJV) or “glorious” (NEB). No explanation can open up the content of God’s majesty. Spurgeon suggests this is the reason “it is left as a note of exclamation.” The reference to God’s “name” suggests his character and nature. The mention of “the heavens” perhaps suggests that God’s glory is too great to fit into the heavens and the created order.5[4]

Reflect on How God Uses Men (8:1–2)

8:1–2. The opening phrase, O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth is repeated at the end of the psalm (8:9) as a literary device (an inclusio; see Introduction: Genre) highlighting the main theme of the psalm, which is to praise God for His majesty as expressed in His creation of and interaction with humanity. In this opening clause, David affirmed God’s majestic name, which is indicative of His power and glory evident in all the earth. David also affirmed Israel’s submission to the one true God. This is indicated by the first Lord (Hb. Yahweh) that represents the unique covenant name of the true God, which is conjoined to the second Lord (Hb. adonenu), which represents the Hebrew term for “master” (one to whom the speaker is subject). Verse 2a is cited by Jesus in Mt 21:16 (see the comments there).[5]

1. If we read this verse according to the authority we have to read it, where the word Lord, when translated in capitals, means Jehovah, and where the same word Lord, in smaller letters, means Adonai, then it will be beautiful indeed: for then the expression carries with it the Lord Jehovah as beheld in a covenant way in Christ. Oh! how excellent is this. Oh! how truly hath Jehovah exalted his glory, even in the person of the Lord of glory, Christ Jesus, far above all heavens. 1 Cor. 2:8.[6]

8:1, 2. The praise of his glory

This adoration is ardent and intimate, for all its reverence. The God whose glory fills the earth is our Lord: we are in covenant with him. His praise is chanted on high, yet acceptably echoed from the cradle and the nursery. It is the theme of the whole psalm in miniature.

rsv and jb iron out this paradox by running the two verses together (against the punctuation of the Heb. text and of the lxx as quoted by our Lord in Matt. 21:16). If verse 1 is allowed to end with ‘Thou whose glory is chanted above the heavens.’ (note the full stop), the whole verse then shows its similarity to the great Sanctus of the Seraphim (Isa. 6:3), whose cry one to another shook the temple. So the startling contrast of verse 2 makes the proper impact. With all earth and heaven proclaiming God in verse 1, the rising discord of foes … enemy … avenger presents a challenge which God meets with ‘what is weak in the world’, the immaterial (by the mouth) and the immature. But, as Palm Sunday was to show (Matt. 21:15f.), the free confession of love and trust is a devastating answer to the accuser and his arsenal of doubts and slanders.[7]

[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 138–139). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Harman, A. (2011). Psalms: A Mentor Commentary (Vol. 1–2, pp. 131–132). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[3] Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (p. 71). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Bullock, C. H. (2015). Psalms 1–72. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (Vol. 1, p. 60). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Rydelnik, M. A., & Vanlaningham, M. (Eds.). (2014). Psalms. In The moody bible commentary (pp. 766–767). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[6] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary: Job–Psalms (Vol. 4, p. 184). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[7] Kidner, D. (1973). Psalms 1–72: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 15, p. 83). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

January 17, 2020 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

16  The LORD is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
17  O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18  to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 10:16–18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Resolution (10:17–18)

17–18 God’s kingship was revealed to Israel (Ex 15:18) and came to expression in Israel. Because God is faithful to the covenant, he has promised to judge (NIV, “defending,” v. 18) the needy. “The fatherless [cf. v. 14] and the oppressed” is a reference to the class of people who were most easily wronged (cf. 82:3) but were protected by God’s law (Ex 22:22–24; Dt 10:18; 16:11, 14; cf. Isa 1:17; Jer 7:6; Jas 1:27; cf. F. C. Fensham, “Widow, Orphan, and the Poor in Ancient Near Eastern and Wisdom Literature,” JNES 21 [1962]: 129–39; see Reflections, p. 119, Yahweh Is King).

God grants to the needy their “desire” (v. 17) by stopping the reign of terror by people who act as gods. The MT has two infinitive constructs—“to judge” and “to terrify”—translated in the NIV with God as the subject of the judging and “man” as the subject of the terrorizing. Parallelism requires that God be the subject of both verbal forms: “defending … and terrifying.” But the negative particle bal (“not”) changes the second colon into a result clause (so NIV). Craigie, 121, renders bal in an affirmative sense: “Once again, he will continue to execute judgment for orphan and oppressed, to terrify mere earthlings!” (for the basis, see C. F. Whitley, “The Positive Force of the Hebrew Particle בל,” ZAW 84 [1972]: 213–19).

The idiom “man, who is of the earth” expresses the weakness of people (ʾenôš; cf. 9:19–20). People are weak and confined to the earth, an “earthling” (Craigie, 123), whereas God is King. Calvin, 1:157, comments appropriately, “The phrase of earth contains a tacit contrast between the low abode of this world and the height of heaven” (cf. Isa 2:22).[1]

10:17–18 (Tāw) The psalm closes with a final expression of confidence: The desires of the afflicted, O Lord, you hear. As one might expect, the poetic references to the body feature prominently: You make firm their hearts, you make ready your ear. Throughout the psalm, a pressing issue has been that the wicked oppress the innocent. The psalm ends with the affirmation that God judges the wicked for the very purpose of protecting the innocent—there is no separation between the two actions.[2]

The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more (vv. 16–18). The psalmist ends with a song of complete confidence in the Lord, and he was so certain of being heard by him that he describes the result of his prayers as a present reality. He recognises that the Lord exercises his kingship over the whole land, and will even destroy the enemies from it. That thought is remarkable, because in the psalm the enemies are opponents within Israel. However, the concept of judgment on the enemies reminds him that God will also deal with the external enemies of Israel. Verse 17 contains the assurance that the prayers he has already expressed for the afflicted are indeed heard by God (notice the variety of terms the psalmist uses for the needy: weak, verse 2; innocent, verse 8; helpless, verse 12; fatherless, verses 14 and 18; afflicted, verse 17; oppressed, verse 18). What God does is to make the heart firm (niv ‘encourage’; for the negative use of this expression, see Ps. 78:8). Man, who boasts of his might, is but frail man (Heb., ʾenôsh, cf. Ps. 9:19) who will no longer be able to terrify others. He is ‘of the earth’, a mere earthling who cannot stand before the judge of all. This psalm reminds us that under persecution and oppression we must turn to God for relief. Our pattern is Jesus who, ‘when they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly’ (1 Pet. 2:23–24). The same epistle counsels us that if we suffer we are to commit ourselves to our faithful creator and continue to do good (1 Pet. 4:19).[3]

10:16–18 / The psalm’s closing verses return to hymnic forms, which do offer praise to God but also serve to remind him of the actions he must now reenact. Again, the verbal echoes tie the psalm into an integrated unit:

Psalm 9


Psalm 10


The Lord reigns forever (v. 7).


The Lord is king forever and ever (v. 16).


You have rebuked the nations …


The nations will perish from his land.


The memory of them has perished (vv. 5–6).




Nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish (v. 18).


You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted (vv. 16–17).


He will judge the world in righteousness …


judging the fatherless and the oppressed (v. 18).


The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed (vv. 8–9).[4]



Declaring One’s Confidence in the Judge (10:16–18)

10:16–18. The psalm concludes with a declaration of praise: The Lord is King forever and ever. He has a confident look at the final, future state, when everyone will recognize the Lord for who He is and always has been—the true King of all the earth (cf. 47:7)—and nations (lit., “Gentiles,” i.e., those opposed to the true God and His people) will have perished from His land (i.e., all of the redeemed/recreated “new earth”; cf. Zch 14:9; Rv 21:1). The use of the past (i.e., perfect) tense verbal expression—in this case, have perished—is a common feature of prophetic-predictive statements in the OT and is intended to underscore the absolute certainty of a future event. Such events are described, as it were, from God’s timeless perspective, as if they had already happened. The Lord had heard the request of the humble and would vindicate the orphan and the oppressed. The man who is of the earth, the person who is not following God, will no longer cause terror because they will no longer be in power over the righteous and innocent (cf. 49:12, 20; 56:4, 11; 62:9; 118:6–9).[5]

16–18. Nothing can be more beautiful than this close. By strong faith in the divine goodness, though the Psalm began under the deepest sorrow, in the apprehension of God’s withdrawing, yet now, taking confidence in the faithfulness of Jehovah, here is full triumph. The cause of Christ, his Church, his redeemed, is God’s own cause; and while the Lord Jehovah is preparing mercy for his redeemed, and deliverance from all their enemies, he is preparing their hearts to receive it. And the deliverance shall be so great, their triumphs so complete, and their salvation so finished, that the man of sin shall no more be permitted to oppress them. Hallelujah. Amen.[6]

10:16–18. God is King

Because God is King, the nations that seek to destroy him and his people will come to nothing (v. 16). While the wicked person boasts about the cravings (tā’ăwâ, v. 3) of his heart, so God hears the desire (tā’ăwâ, v. 17) of his afflicted people and will encourage them. God takes care of those who are weak and vulnerable (the fatherless and the oppressed), with the result that no mere person will ever again strike terror in God’s people.


The psalmist (of Pss 9 and 10) celebrates God’s past victories over the evil nations, while at the same time calling on him to intervene in the midst of a present crisis. The enemy in view is a hostile nation, although the threat leads the psalmist to reflect on the nature of the wicked man (10:2–11). While the psalmist believes God is absent at present (10:1), he is confident that he will have the final victory (10:16–18).

Christians today are in the midst of a spiritual battle (Eph. 6:10–20), but they can call on Jesus their Warrior to battle the ‘powers and authorities’. They can be confident that Jesus will have the final victory. Jesus himself was killed by wicked men (‘with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross’, Acts 2:23), but God had the final victory through the resurrection (‘it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him’, Acts 2:24).

While the psalmist speaks of the wicked man as opposed to the righteous (10:2–11), Paul cites verse 7 along with a number of other passages from Psalms and Isaiah in order to describe the pervasive sinfulness of all humanity (see Rom. 3:9–20). He makes this point in order to emphasize that our salvation is not the result of our own efforts, but rather through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus’, Rom. 3:23–24).[7]

Ver. 17. Thou hast heard the desire of the humble.The desire of the humble encouraged:

  1. The characters here spoken of. Though there be great difference between man and man with regard to natural character, yet the truly humble before God are those only whom He has humbled. The humble are those whom God doth teach the plague of their own hearts. He humbles them by discoveries of themselves.
  2. The desires here spoken of. The soul of man is a restless principle. The souls of the humble ones do desire. The humble soul wants a clearer inward witness of his adoption; a renewed application of the blood of Christ to his conscience; a deeper sense of his acceptance in the Beloved; a closer walk with God.

III. The encouragements here spoken of. Three expressed in the text—

  1. “Thou hast heard the desire of the humble.”
  2. “Thou wilt prepare their heart.”
  3. “Thou wilt cause Thine ear to hear.” (J. Evans.)

The desire of the humble:

  1. Here is a character described—“the humble.” It is a characteristic of all Christians. Humility befits us if we regard—
  2. The meanness of our origin—“dust.”
  3. Our sinfulness.
  4. That pride is hateful in the sight of God. What evil it has wrought; how unwarrantable it is.
  5. But God hears the desire of the humble. What is that desire? It is to know the want of Himself. To have an interest in Christ. To think highly of others. To adore the goodness of God, and to be obedient to His will.
  6. God prepares such a heart.
  7. By giving conviction of sin.
  8. By encouraging trust in Christ.
  9. By giving desire after holiness.
  10. By emptying him of self.

III. God hears and answers prayer.

  1. Because they come in Christ’s name. Because—
  2. He is their Father.
  3. He Himself has bidden us pray; and
  4. Prepared their hearts to do so. He who will not pray has no excuse. (T. Scott, M.A.)

Thought-reading extraordinary:

  1. The lowliest form of prayer may be most true and acceptable. “The desire of the humble.” It is only a desire. It may not be uttered. Many prayers are very prettily expressed, in fact, so grandly that their tawdry fineries will not be tolerated in heaven. God will say, “They were meant for men, let men hear them.” The desire of the humble may not be recommended by any conscious attainments. If your stock-in-trade is made up of empty vessels, and little else, the Lord can deal with you as He did with the prophet’s widow, “who had empty vessels not a few.” Your little oil of grace He can multiply till every vessel is filled; and you may have no confident expectation. I would chide your unbelief, but I would encourage your desires, for that desire which God hears is not to be despised. Note that it is “the desire of the humble.” It has this advantage about it that it is free from pride. Now, to be humble is a sweet thing; there is no lovelier spot on the road to the Celestial City than the Valley of Humiliation: he that dwells in it dwells among flowers and birds, and may sing all day long. The desire of the humble is saturated with a gospel spirit, and therefore is acceptable to God.
  2. And He is quick to hear it. “Thou hast heard the desire.” This must be a Divine science. We hear much about thought-reading now. Whatever this may be, here is a wonderful instance of it with the Lord. It is an act which God has exercised in all ages. “Thou hast heard,” &c. It is a matter of frequent fact, the record of a deed.

III. The heart is the main matter in prayer. Desires are the fruit of the heart. “Thou wilt prepare their heart.” When a fair wind fills the sails of desire, then make all possible headway.

  1. God Himself prepares the hearts of His people. “Thou wilt prepare their heart.” I am rejoiced at this statement, because preparation is such an important business. And it is often difficult as it is important. Surely none but the Lord can prepare the heart for prayer. One old writer says it is far harder work to raise the big bell into the steeple than to ring it when it is there. This witness is true. In that uplifting of the heart lies the work and the labour. Now, God prepares the heart by restraining wandering thought, by giving us deep sense of need, and by working in us strong faith.
  2. Prayer from prepared hearts must be heard. “Thou wilt cause Thine ear to hear.” He will, for if God had love enough to prepare your heart He has grace enough to give you the blessing. His goodness and faithfulness ensure that He will. Where God leads you to pray, He means you to receive. Be comforted, therefore, you beginners in prayer. God is inclining His ear to catch the faintest moan of your spirit. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The gracious desires and prayers of the humble:

Lord Bolingbroke once asked Lady Huntingdon how she reconciled prayer to God for particular blessings with absolute resignation to the Divine will. “Very easy,” answered her ladyship; “just as if I were to offer a petition to a monarch of whose kindness and wisdom I have the highest opinion. In such a case my language would be, ‘I wish you to bestow on me such a favour; but your majesty knows better than I how far it would be agreeable to you or right in itself to grant my desire. I therefore content myself with humbly presenting my petition, and leave the event of it entirely to you.’ ”[8]

Verse 17.—There is a humbling act of faith put forth in prayer. Others style it praying in humility; give me leave to style it praying in faith. In faith which sets the soul in the presence of that mighty God, and by the sight of him, which faith gives us, it is that we see our own vileness, sinfulness, and abhor ourselves, and profess ourselves unworthy of any, much less of those mercies we are to seek for. Thus the sight of God had wrought in the prophet (Isaiah 6:5), “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” And holy Job speaks thus (Job 42:5, 6), “Now mine eye seeth thee: wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” This is as great a requisite to prayer as any other act; I may say of it alone, as the apostle (James 1:7), that without it we shall receive nothing at the hands of God! God loves to fill empty vessels, he looks to broken hearts. In the Psalms how often do we read that God hears the prayers of the humble; which always involves and includes faith in it. Psalm 9:12, “He forgetteth not the cry of the humble,” and Psalm 10:17, “Lord thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou will prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear.” To be deeply humbled is to have the heart prepared and fitted for God to hear the prayer; and therefore you find the Psalmist pleading sub forma pauperis, often repeating, “I am poor and needy.” And this prevents our thinking much if God do not grant the particular thing we do desire. Thus also Christ himself in his great distress (Psalm 22), doth treat God (verse 2), “O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season am not silent. Our fathers trusted in thee. They cried unto thee, and were delivered. But I am a worm, and no man; reproached of men, and despised of the people; (verse 6) “and he was “heard” in the end “in what he feared.” And these deep humblings of ourselves, being joined with vehement implorations upon the mercy of God to obtain, is reckoned into the account of praying by faith, both by God and Christ. Matt. 8.—Thomas Goodwin.

Verse 17.—“Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble.” A spiritual prayer is a humble prayer. Prayer is the asking of an alms, which requires humility. “The publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Luke 18:13. God’s incomprehensible glory may even amaze us and strike a holy consternation into us when we approach nigh unto him: “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee.” Ezra 9:6. It is comely to see a poor nothing lie prostrate at the feet of its Maker. “Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.” Gen. 18:27. The lower the heart descends, the higher the prayer ascends.—Thomas Watson.

Verse 17.—“Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble,” etc. How pleasant is it, that these benefits, which are of so great a value both on their own account, and that of the divine benignity from whence they come, should be delivered into our hands, marked, as it were, with this grateful inscription, that they have been obtained by prayer!—Robert Leighton.

Verse 17.—“The desire of the humble.” Prayer is the offering up of our desires to God in the name of Christ, for such things as are agreeable to his will. It is an offering of our desires. Desires are the soul and life of prayer; words are but the body; now as the body without the soul is dead, so are prayers unless they are animated with our desires: “Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble.” God heareth not words, but desires.—Thomas Watson.

Verse 17.—God’s choice acquaintances are humble men.—Robert Leighton.

Verse 17.—He that sits nearest the dust, sits nearest heaven.—Andrew Gray, of Glasgow, 1616.

Verse 17.—There is a kind of omnipotency in prayer, as having an interest and prevalency with God’s omnipotency. It hath loosed iron chains (Acts 16:25, 26); it hath opened iron gates (Acts 12:5–10); it hath unlocked the windows of heaven (1 Kings 18:41); it hath broken the bars of death (John 11:40, 43). Satan hath three titles given in the Scriptures, setting forth his malignity against the church of God: a dragon, to note his malice; a serpent, to note his subtlety; and a lion, to note his strength. But none of all these can stand before prayer. The greatest malice of Human sinks under the prayer of Esther; the deepest policy, the counsel of Ahithophel, withers before the prayer of David; the largest army, a host of a thousand Ethiopians, run away like cowards before the prayer of Asa.—Edward Reynolds, 1599–1676.[9]

[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 159–160). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Jacobson, R. A., & Tanner, B. (2014). Book One of the Psalter: Psalms 1–41. In E. J. Young, R. K. Harrison, & R. L. Hubbard Jr. (Eds.), The Book of Psalms (p. 143). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[3] Harman, A. (2011). Psalms: A Mentor Commentary (Vol. 1–2, pp. 150–151). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[4] Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (p. 78). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Rydelnik, M. A., & Vanlaningham, M. (Eds.). (2014). Psalms. In The moody bible commentary (pp. 768–769). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[6] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary: Job–Psalms (Vol. 4, p. 194). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[7] Longman, T., III. (2014). Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary. (D. G. Firth, Ed.) (Vol. 15–16, p. 89). Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

[8] Exell, J. S. (1909). The Biblical Illustrator: The Psalms (Vol. 1, pp. 177–178). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company; Francis Griffiths.

[9] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 1-26 (Vol. 1, pp. 126–127). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

January 17, 2020 Morning Verse Of The Day

3:30. Do not contend with a man without cause, If he has done you no harm.

The word ‘contend’ generally describes strife and conflict between persons. That strife may be general and vague or specific and even violent. In legal contexts, it came to mean bringing charges against another. Repeatedly, the Proverbs admonish us to avoid such contention (Prov. 15:18; 17:1, 14; 18:6, 17; 20:3; 26:17, 21; 30:33). The specific conflict denounced here is the one that is ‘without cause.’ Stirring up such discord is a violation of the ninth commandment (Exod. 20:16). It is the kind of thing the evil one does himself (Job 2:3) and inspires in others (1 Cor. 6:1–8).

In a society where frivolous lawsuits have created gridlock in the judicial system, this is a word we need to hear. ‘I’m going to sue!’ and ‘You’ll be hearing from my lawyer!’ have become the battle cries of people too weak to personally resolve their interpersonal conflicts. Such taunts reveal not wisdom, but the folly of selfishness. In a conflict, the one devoid of wisdom has nothing left but to demand his ‘rights.’ A man of understanding, however, would rather be defrauded than violate this command (1 Cor. 6:7–8).[1]

Ver. 30. Strive not with a man without a cause.Strife:

  1. As a principle inherent in the soul. There is a battling instinct in every human mind. Man is made to antagonise. The principle is intended to put us into antagonism—
  2. Not against existence, but against the evils of existence.
  3. Not against God, but against the enemies of God.
  4. As a principle liable to perversion. (D. Thomas, D.D.)

Negative goodness:

Here we are called to do good negatively. The strife-loving disposition is fatal to culture, solidity of goodness, and every instinct of beneficence. Where strife is, God is not. Where there is cause of strife be careful to ascertain its true quality. It must be a cause so evident and so righteous that there can be no dispute about it. Some minds are ingenious in creating causes of strife, and they justify themselves by blinding themselves. Strength is itself a temptation. Who can be strong and yet civil? Unjust contentions degrade their authors. False accusations need further lies for their defence and support. Whom we begin by ill-treating we end by hating. (Joseph Parker, D.D.)[2]

3:30 Here we are warned against picking a fight with a man when he has done nothing to provoke it. There is already enough strife in the world without needlessly going around to stir up more![3]

[1] Kitchen, J. A. (2006). Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary (p. 92). Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[2] Exell, J. S. (n.d.). Proverbs (p. 97). New York; Chicago; Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 800). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

January 16, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

Ver. 10. My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.—God, the shield-bearer of the upright:

Lit.: God is my shield-bearer. Fig.: I hang my shield upon God. The idea is that of going to war, and having God as the carrier, the bearer, of our shield, so that before we can be struck down, God Himself must be wounded and overpowered. “My defence is of God.” There are times when we need great defences. There arise in life crises, points of agony, when we can only be silent, having first said to God, “Undertake for me.” There are times when it seems to us but a small thing, or a course quite natural, to claim all heaven as our defence. These are supreme moments. The bulk of life is commonplace, lived on an ordinary level, requiring the discharge of common duties. There are times when the whole heaven is no longer a defence, but an accusation. These are the terrible moments of life. Where, then, is man’s defence? Let man in such moments look within; let him trace the course of his own spirit and action; and if he can find in that action reasons for self-condemnation, then let him be penitent and broken-hearted; let him find God through his tears. The tears must not be selfish: no man must make an investment of his broken-heartedness. Repentance must be perfect, vital, sincere, all-inclusive. He does not repent who cries simply because the consequences are painful. Contrition has nothing to do with consequences. God may be both accuser and defender. He prefers the accusation with the reluctance of wounded love; through the accusation He causes to shine the light of the prepared defence: His mercy endureth for ever. He is the defender of the sinner, when the offender falls down in contrition and self-examination. The Psalmist falls back upon the vital element of character. “Saveth the upright in heart.” Is God, then, only the defender of the righteous, who have never sinned? No such meaning is here. “The upright in heart” may not always be the upright in conduct. Men cannot go beyond conduct; God goes into motive, purpose, secret thought. May there, then, be broken conduct and yet a heart truly upright before God? There may be, and that is our hope. God does not look upon us as we are, but upon what we would be if we could. Where there is this integrity or uprightness of heart, all the rest will be well. When you have the upright heart all needful consistency will be guaranteed. A growing life is never a literally consistent one. Many a man is mechanically consistent who is spiritually self-contradictory. Do we want to be upright in heart? There is but one gospel way. The grace of God alone can make the heart true and new and beautiful. We cannot give ourselves uprightness of heart. It is not in man to make himself clean. (Joseph Parker, D.D.)

The upright in heart:

  1. A character described. The upright in heart. Now it includes inward principle as the wheel which puts the whole machine in action; and outward conduct is the result of it. Take as example—
  2. Nathaniel. He was a man whose outward character corresponded with the promptings of his heart.
  3. Remember there may be uprightness of heart with many failings. God looks at the intents of the heart. Only they must be sincere.
  4. The privilege of this character.
  5. God’s defence. We see how God defends the tender plants from winter’s cold and summer’s heat. But yet more does He protect His children. For His love is deeper, stronger, and more lasting than that of a mother.
  6. God’s salvation. “God raiseth the upright in heart.” But our salvation is in Christ, there is none out of Him. (W. D. Howard.)[1]

Verse 10.—“My defence is of God.” Literally, “My shield is upon God,” like Psalm 62:8, “My salvation is upon God.” The idea may be taken from the armour-bearer, ever ready at hand to give the needed weapon to the warrior.—Andrew A. Bonar.[2]

[1] Exell, J. S. (1909). The Biblical Illustrator: The Psalms (Vol. 1, pp. 115–116). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company; Francis Griffiths.

[2] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 1-26 (Vol. 1, p. 74). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

January 16, 2020 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

3 With the dawning of each new day, prayer is renewed, with the hope that the Lord will soon respond. The “morning” is symbolic of a renewal of God’s acts of love (cf. La 3:23). The change from darkness to light brings with it the association of renewed hope. In the early morning hours (cf. 55:17; 88:13; 92:2) the psalmist sought the Lord (his covenantal God) in prayer because he knew that Yahweh would not forsake him. It is to this end that he presented God with his “requests” (or “offerings”; see Notes). During the day he waited “in expectation” to see what the Lord would do for him.[1]

3. Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; morning by morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation (v. 3). Just as there were morning sacrifices, so prayers were directed to the Lord at that time. This was part of the threefold pattern of daily prayer (cf. Dan. 6:10). The language of sacrifice is carried over here, for ‘lay my requests’ represents the verb used of laying in order the wood (Lev. 1:7) or the victim for sacrifice (Lev. 1:8; 6:12). The psalmist then waits expectantly for God’s answer.[2]

5:3 I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. The Hebrew verb for “lay” is used of laying wood on the altar (Lev. 1:7), preparing a lamp (Ps. 132:17), setting a table (Ps. 23:5), laying out a legal case (Ps. 50:21), and setting forth thoughts (Ps. 40:5; see KJV).2 The NIV translates the verb in the last sense, supplying the missing object “my requests.” The ESV chooses the first meaning, “prepare a sacrifice.” Coupled with the imagery of the morning (sacrifice), this meaning seems preferable, although the ambiguity here is quite impressive (see “Historical and Cultural Background”). The verb “wait” has the same meaning in Habakkuk 2:1, where the prophet stations himself in the tower to “watch” (NIV: “look”) for the oncoming messenger.[3]

3. What a blessed view is here again given of Jesus! The apostle saith he was heard in that he feared. Heb. 5:7. And what an assurance have all the faithful of being heard, when they are led by his Spirit, act faith upon his person and mediation, and thus direct their prayer with the first dawn of the morning, unto him that proves himself the hearer of the prayer of the poor and destitute, and despiseth not their desire. Reader! do put it down as a sure unerring mark, that wherever the Spirit gives grace to pray, the Lord is already come forth to answer prayer. Isaiah 65:24.[4]

3. The words a sacrifice are a translators’ assumption, though probably a correct one. The Hebrew has the single word prepare, which can be used for setting out in order anything from a feast (23:5) to a case at law (50:21), and therefore perhaps for one’s plea to God (av), or one’s self-preparation (‘I hold myself in readiness for you’, jb); but it is often a priestly term for laying the altar fire and arranging the pieces of the burnt offering (Lev. 1:6f.). The emphasis on the morning rather suggests this by its possible allusion to the daily sacrifice at God’s threshold, ‘where I will meet with you, to speak there to you’ (Exod. 29:42). David, it seems, puts his praying into such a context (as in 141:2) to express the assurance of atonement and the total commitment with which he comes before God. But he also comes expectantly. The word watch is used of God’s prophets posted to report the first sign of his answers: cf. Isaiah 21:6, 8; Micah 7:7; Habakkuk 2:1. As at the tent of meeting, God would ‘speak there’, not only listen.[5]

Ver. 3. In the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee.—How to begin every day with God:

  1. The good work itself that we are to do. To pray. A duty dictated by the light and law of nature, but which the gospel of Christ gives us better instruction in. See how David expresses his pious resolutions.
  2. My voice shalt Thou hear. Understand as promising himself a gracious acceptance with God. “Thou wilt hear.” It is the language of his faith, grounded upon God’s promise, that His ear shall be always open to His people’s cry. Wherever God finds a praying heart, He will be found a prayer-hearing God. Understand as David’s promising God a constant attendance on Him, in the way He has appointed. God understands the language of the heart, and that is the language in which we must speak to God. We must see to it that God hears from us daily. He expects and requires it. Thus He will keep up His authority over us; and testify His love and compassion towards us. We have something to say to God every day: as to a friend we love, and have freedom with; as to a master we serve, and have business with. Our happiness is bound up in His favour. We have offended Him, and are daily contracting guilt. We have daily work to do for God and our own souls. We are continually in danger. We are dying daily. We are members of that body whereof Christ is the head, and are concerned to approve ourselves living members. Lay all this together, and consider whether you have not something to say to God every day. If you have all this to say to God, what should hinder you from saying it? Let not distance, or fear, hinder you. Let not His knowing what your business is hinder you. Let not any other business hinder our saying what we have to say to God.
  3. We must direct our prayer to God. We must with deliberation and design address ourselves to Him. The term “direct” indicates fixedness of thought, and a close application of mind, to the duty of prayer. It speaks the sincerity of our habitual intention in prayer: the steadiness of our actual regard to God in prayer.

III. We must look up. We must look up in our prayers; and after our prayers, with an eye of satisfaction and pleasure; with an eye of observation, what returns God makes to our prayers. Let us be inward with God in every duty, to make heart-work of it, or we make nothing of it. The particular time fixed for this good work is the morning. Then we are fresh and lively. Then we are most free from company and business. Then we have received fresh mercies from God, which we are concerned to acknowledge. In the morning we have fresh matter ministered to us for the adoration of the greatness and glory of God. In the morning we are addressing ourselves to the work of the day, and therefore are concerned by prayer to seek unto God for His presence and blessing. (Matthew Henry.)

Morning prayer:

  1. The Christian’s resolution. To pray.
  2. Prayer is a duty and a privilege. It implies spiritual life—filial relationship—freedom of access to God. The spirit of prayer must be earnestly cultivated.
  3. God is the supreme and immediate object of prayer. “I will direct my prayer unto Thee.” The mediation of priests and saints or of the Virgin Mary superfluous. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble,” &c.
  4. Prayer must be definite in its aim. “I will direct,” &c. A soul soliloquy is not prayer. Nor is the enumeration of the Divine attributes hid. True prayer is the earnest expression of the deep necessities and longings of the soul in the simplest language possible. The grain of prayer should not be lost in the chaff of vague generalities.
  5. The best time for private prayer. “In the morning,” &c.
  6. There is a greater freedom from the distracting cares of the family, business, &c.
  7. We should seek Divine strength in anticipation of duties, trials, temptations, &c.
  8. A day begun with prayer, generally proves a happy day.
  9. The most eminent Christians have devoted the early morning to prayer. Mention some.

III. The becoming attitude for a prayerful soul. “I will look up.” Describe watch-tower.

  1. We should not be satisfied without the conviction that our prayers have been heard by God. Many prayers never reach the goal of the throne of grace.
  2. Our prayers should not be forgotten, but an answer looked for. It will be so if our eye be single and our aim definite.
  3. Such an attitude prepares us for the recognition of the Divine hand in answer to our prayers. (Homilist.)

Morning devotion:

The essence of real religion is a filial disposition of heart towards God.

  1. Morning is the time for reflection. It seems natural to think, and to be quiet, in the early morning. The very laws of our physical being demand quiet in the morning.
  2. Morning is the time for observation. The curtain is drawn aside, and we look upon the face of God’s creation.
  3. Morning is the time for purpose. We may begin again, every morning, with fresh purposes, that will be achieved if the strength of God is made perfect in our weakness.
  4. Morning is the time for prayer. As the morning gives wings to the day, so prayer gives wings to the morning. Wise reflections will become wiser through the power of prayer, and our purposes will only be binding on the conscience, or wrought out in the life, as prayer gives them their character of sincerity or religiousness. Mornings are monitors, text-books, and registers. (W. G. Barrett.)

The protective power of prayer:

Among the elegant forms of insect life, there is a little creature known to naturalists, which can gather round it a sufficiency of atmospheric air—and so clothed upon, it descends into the bottom of the pool, and you may see the little diver moving about dry and at his ease, protected by his crystal vesture, though the water all around and above be stagnant and bitter. Prayer is such a protector—a transparent vesture, the world sees it not—but a real defence, it keeps out the world. By means of it, the believer can gather so much of heaven’s atmosphere around him, and with it descend into the putrid depths of this contaminating world, that for a season no evil will touch him; and he knows where to ascend for a new supply. (James Hamilton.)

Morning prayer:

A battle is every morning fought in every Christian’s closet. The morning is the key of the position. The season of morning prayer is, so to speak, the citadel, the Hougomont, the critical point in each successive day. If he wins those morning minutes, the devil knows he has won that day. (Ibid.)

The upward look:

It is said that the monks of Mount Athos are accustomed to hypnotise themselves into trance conditions by gazing at their own bodies—no very ennobling objective if true. In some of the Buddhist monasteries of Eastern Asia devotees are pointed out who have sat facing blank walls for twenty or thirty years and have gazed themselves into mysterious ecstasies. In the modernised Buddhism of London and New York theosophy the same virtue is ascribed to intense and sustained contemplation. What change, think you, ought to effect itself within us if with the same steadfastness we contemplate the personality of Him who is the leader and consummator of our faith? (Thomas G. Selby.)[6]

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

Observe, this is not so much a prayer as a resolution, “ ‘My voice shalt thou hear,’ I will not be dumb, I will not be silent, I will not withhold my speech, I will cry to thee, for the fire that dwells within compels me to pray.” We can sooner die than live without prayer. None of God’s children are possessed with a dumb devil.

In the morning.” This is the fittest time for intercourse with God. An hour in the morning is worth two in the evening. While the dew is on the grass, let grace drop upon the soul. Let us give to God the mornings of our days and the morning of our lives. Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night. Devotion should be both the morning star and the evening star.

If we merely read our English version, and want an explanation of these two sentences, we find it in the figure of an archer, “I will direct my prayer unto thee,” I will put my prayer upon the bow, I will direct it towards heaven, and then when I have shot up my arrow, I will look up to see where it has gone. But the Hebrew has a still fuller meaning than this—“I will direct my prayer.” It is the word that is used for the laying in order of the wood and the pieces of the victim upon the altar, and it is used also for the putting of the shewbread upon the table. It means just this: “I will arrange my prayer before thee;” I will lay it out upon the altar in the morning, just as the priest lays out the morning sacrifice. I will arrange my prayer; or, as old Master Trapp has it, “I will marshal up my prayers,” I will put them in order, call up all my powers, and bid them stand in their proper places, that I may pray with all my might, and pray acceptably.

And will look up,” or, as the Hebrew might better be translated, “ ‘I will look out,’ I will look out for the answer; after I have prayed, I will expect that the blessing shall come.” It is a word that is used in another place where we read of those who watched for the morning. So will I watch for thine answer, O my Lord! I will spread out my prayer like the victim on the altar, and I will look up, and expect to receive the answer by fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice.

Two questions are suggested by the last part of this verse. Do we not miss very much of the sweetness and efficacy of prayer by a want of careful meditation before it, and of hopeful expectation after it? We too often rush into the presence of God without forethought or humility. We are live men who present themselves before a king without a petition, and what wonder is it that we often miss the end of prayer? We should be careful to keep the stream of meditation always running; for this is the water to drive the mill of prayer. It is idle to pull up the flood-gates of a dry brook, and then hope to see the wheel revolve. Prayer without fervency is like hunting with a dead dog, and prayer without preparation is hawking with a blind falcon. Prayer is the work of the Holy Spirit, but he works by means. God made man, but he used the dust of the earth as a material: the Holy Ghost is the author of prayer, but he employs the thoughts of a fervent soul as the gold with which to fashion the vessel. Let not our prayers and praises be the flashes of a hot and hasty brain, but the steady burning of a well-kindled fire.

But, furthermore, do we not forget to watch the result of our supplications? We are like the ostrich, which lays her eggs and looks not for her young. We sow the seed, and are too idle to seek a harvest. How can we expect the Lord to open the windows of his grace, and pour us out a blessing, if we will not open the windows of expectation and look up for the promised favour? Let holy preparation link hands with patient expectation, and we shall have far larger answers to our prayers.[7]

[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 115). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Harman, A. (2011). Psalms: A Mentor Commentary (Vol. 1–2, pp. 117–118). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[3] Bullock, C. H. (2015). Psalms 1–72. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (Vol. 1, pp. 39–40). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary: Job–Psalms (Vol. 4, p. 175). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[5] Kidner, D. (1973). Psalms 1–72: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 15, pp. 74–75). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[6] Exell, J. S. (1909). The Biblical Illustrator: The Psalms (Vol. 1, pp. 93–95). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company; Francis Griffiths.

[7] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 1-26 (Vol. 1, p. 46). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

January 16, 2020 Morning Verse Of The Day

Anticipate the Lord’s Coming

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. (5:7–8)

Three times in this section (vv. 7, 8, 9), James refers to the believer’s great hope, the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The realization that things won’t always be as they are now, that believers are headed for “the city … whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10), provides great hope for those undergoing persecution. For that reason, the more persecuted a church is the more eagerly it anticipates the return of Jesus Christ; conversely, an affluent, indulgent, worldly church has little interest in the Lord’s return.

Parousia (coming) is an important New Testament eschatological term. It is the most commonly used term in the New Testament epistles for the second coming of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1, 8; 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4; 1 John 2:28; cf. Matt. 24:3, 27, 37, 39). Parousia refers to more than just coming; it includes the idea of “presence.” Perhaps the best English translation would be “arrival.” The church’s great hope is the arrival of Jesus Christ when He comes to bless His people with His presence. That glorious truth appears in more than 500 verses throughout the Bible.

Our Lord said much about His return, especially in His Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24–25; Mark 13; Luke 21). He taught that His return would be preceded by definite signs (Matt. 24:5–26). He portrayed His coming as a dramatic, climactic event, as striking and unmistakable as the flash of lightning across the sky (Matt. 24:27–30). It will be a time of separation, as the angels gather the elect to enjoy Jesus’ presence (Matt. 24:31) and gather unbelievers to banish them from it (Matt. 24:39–41).

Every Christian is to live in the hope of the certainty of Christ’s return. “The end of all things is near,” wrote Peter; “therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1 Pet. 4:7). With his own death imminent, Paul could confidently say, “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). The sure hope of Christ’s return is especially comforting to those undergoing trials and persecution. To the Romans Paul wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). He reminded the Corinthians that “momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). Peter also encouraged suffering believers to remember their Lord’s return:

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:6–7)

Focusing on Christ’s return also motivates believers to godly living. In 1 John 3:3 John writes, “Everyone who has this hope [the Second Coming—v. 2] fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” The study of end time events should not produce speculative eschatological systems, but holy lives. After discussing the destruction of the present universe, Peter exhorted his readers, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” (2 Pet. 3:14; cf. Phil. 3:16–21; 1 Thess. 1:9–10; Titus 2:11–13).

To further reinforce his point that believers need to wait patiently for the second coming, James described a familiar scene using a simple, straightforward illustration. The farmer, he points out, waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. The farmer would have been a tenant farmer or small landowner. Having planted his crops, he waits expectantly for the precious produce of the soil—his crops—to come in. That depends on something outside of his control, God’s providentially bringing together all the elements needed for the crops to grow. Those crops are precious or valuable to him because he depends on them for his existence. All he can do is to be patient (from makrothumeō, the same word used earlier in the verse) as he waits eagerly for the crops to come in.

James’s reference to the early and late rains shows just how long farmers had to patiently wait. The early rains in Palestine arrive at the time of the fall planting season (October and November), the late rains just before harvesttime (March and April).

Applying the analogy to his readers, James exhorted them, you too be patient. Just as a farmer waits patiently through the entire growing season for his crop, so also are believers to wait patiently for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul addressed a similar exhortation to the Galatians: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Gal. 6:9). Perhaps James’s readers, like those described in Revelation 6:9–11, were growing impatient for Christ to return. They may also have been plagued by scoffers who denied the reality of the Second Coming (cf. 2 Pet. 3:3–4).

James further exhorted his readers to strengthen their hearts. Strengthen is from stērizō, a word meaning “to make fast,” “to establish,” or “to confirm.” In Luke 9:51 this term is used to describe Jesus’ resolute determination to go to Jerusalem, although He knew He faced death when He arrived there. It is a word denoting resoluteness, firm courage, an attitude of commitment to stay the course no matter how severe the trial. Stērizō derives from a root word meaning “to cause to stand,” or “to prop up.” James urges those about to collapse under the weight of persecution to prop themselves up with the hope of the Savior’s return.

Spiritual strengthening is seen elsewhere in Scripture as the gracious work of the Holy Spirit (e.g., Eph. 3:14–19; 1 Thess. 3:12–13; 2 Thess. 2:16–17; 1 Pet. 5:10), but is here presented as the believer’s responsibility. This is another instance of the profound tension between divine provision and human responsibility that permeates doctrinal truth. Christians are not to “let go and let God,” nor are they to view the Christian life as one of legalistic self-effort. Instead, they are to live as if everything depends on them, knowing that it all depends on God (cf. Phil. 2:12–13).

James does not tolerate double-minded, unstable people. In 1:6 he observed that “the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind,” and warned “that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (vv. 7–8). In 2:4 the inspired writer denounced those who equivocated by making “distinctions among [themselves],” and thus became “judges with evil motives,” while in 3:8–12 he pointed out the incongruity of those who bless God while at the same time cursing their fellowmen. James also rebuked those who claimed to love God, yet were in love with the world (4:4), exhorting them, “Purify your hearts, you double-minded” (v. 8). It is not surprising, then, that James exhorted his readers to have a settled conviction that the Lord Jesus Christ would return, and thus strengthen their hearts.

The obvious idea of this exhortation was that believers should realize that their trouble is temporary. It will end when Jesus returns. Though Jesus would not return in the lifetime of the recipients of this epistle, nor in the lifetimes of millions of other believers who have lived and died since—no one has known when He will—all may live in the anticipation that He may come at any moment. This argues for imminency, the idea that the next event on God’s schedule for Christ is the deliverance of believers from this world with all its troubles. This is the message of comforting hope for the church in every age (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13–18).

James emphasizes imminency by reminding his readers of the hope that the coming of the Lord is near. The verb translated near (eggizō) means “to draw near,” “to approach,” or “to come close.” The return of Christ is the next event on God’s prophetic calendar and could happen at any moment. He delays His return because God is still redeeming those whom He “chose … in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). But from the human perspective, Christ’s return has been imminent since He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9–11). That reality has always been the church’s hope. “The night is almost gone, and the day is near,” wrote the apostle Paul to the Romans (Rom. 13:12). The writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers not to forsake their “own assembling together … but [to be] encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25). “The end of all things is near,” wrote Peter (1 Pet. 4:7), while the apostle John added, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). And Jesus’ last recorded words in Scripture are “Yes, I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:20). It is both the privilege and the responsibility of all Christians to be constantly “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13; cf. John 14:1–3; 1 Cor. 1:7; Phil. 3:20–21; 1 Thess. 1:9–10; 4:16–18). Any view of eschatology which eliminates imminency (believers in every age living with the hope that Christ could come at any moment) is in conflict with all those passages which provide hope for suffering believers by anticipating the Lord’s coming.[1]

8 Like the farmer, Christians must be patient and strengthen their hearts (compare Luke 9:51; 22:32; 1 Thess. 3:13). In both instances such confidence is based on hope: the farmer is sure that the rains will fall, and the Christian that the Lord will come. The tense of the verb indicates that the coming is near.31[2]

Second Exhortation to Patience (5:8) Exhortation (5:8a)

James now repeats his exhortation to patience, but this time with some emphasis and in light of his analogy: “You must also be patient.” To this James adds a new idea before he gives his second reason for patient endurance: “Strengthen your hearts.”188 The word “strengthen” (Greek, stērizō) is used of fortifying oneself with food (Judg 19:5, 8), and by trusting in the strength of God one’s heart can be fortified and the will made resolute (Ps 57:7; Sir 6:37; cf. 22:16–17). Paul wants to strengthen, or fortify, the Romans with some spiritual gift (1:11), he prays that God will fortify hearts in holiness (1 Thess 3:13), and he is confident that good works fortify the heart (2 Thess 2:17). Not surprisingly, strength of heart comes from grace not food observances (Heb 13:9). When James says he wants the messianists to be strengthened “in your hearts,” he is thinking from the inside out, from the core of their being, both in resolution and confident faith (James 1:26; 3:14; 4:8; 5:5). Reason (5:8b)

Why do they need to be patient and strengthen their hearts? As James puts it, “for the coming of the Lord is near.” We concluded above that “the coming of the Lord” refers to the act of God in judgment against the oppressors in the defeat of Jerusalem. But, again, some of this needs to be shown, and this verse and the next will clarify what remains to be demonstrated. Everything here hinges on the meaning of “is near” (Greek ēngiken). The word (engizō), in short order, means “draw near.” It speaks of something so near that its impact is beginning to be felt. The fear that somehow James, and therefore the Word of God, would be wrong if this word is given the meaning one expects it to have has led too many to less than obvious explanations. The word is used forty-one times in the New Testament.191 One of the more telling uses is in Mark 11:1 (par. Matt 21:1): “When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples.…” The point is that they were close but not yet there; so close that Jesus sent two disciples on ahead to get things ready. Other uses, such as Matthew 21:34; 26:45–46; Luke 15:25; 18:35; 19:41; 21:8, 20; 22:1 confirm that engizō means to be near, very near, but not yet arrived—but close enough for things to start happening.

What matters in our context is that ēngiken is used for cataclysmic eschatological events in the time-plan of the early Christians. Hence, Jesus can say the kingdom of God has drawn near (Mark 1:15; Luke 10:9, 11). Of note are Luke 21:20: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near,” and 21:28: “Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” From Acts, we read in 7:17: “But as the time drew near for the fulfillment of the promise that God had made to Abraham, our people in Egypt increased and multiplied.” Paul says in Romans 13:12: “the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” And Hebrews 10:25: “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Peter too: “The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers” (1 Pet 4:7). In addition to these considerations we note that this term emerges at times in the context of oppression and serves to buttress the hope of the oppressed. Thus, Mark 13 speaks often of persecution and how the nearness of the Son of Man’s coming brings hope (Mark 13:26–31). Peter’s words about the end of all things being near immediately lead to encouragement about persecution (1 Pet 4:7–11, 12–19). The so-called roll-call of heroic faith in Hebrews 10 winds up its point in a combination of encouragement and promise that the Lord is coming (10:32–39).

One can read “the coming of the Lord is near” in James 5:8 in the context of Paul’s statements about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and, if ēngiken is understood as referring to something about to happen, then either Jesus did return somehow or James was wrong. Or one can read this text in light of the teachings of Jesus about the parousia in a Jewish context and see it as a prediction of the imminent judgment of God, and in this case one would have to think of the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 ad as told of so graphically by Josephus in his Jewish War. The latter is far more probable, and the next verse tips the balance in its favor. There (5:9b) the parousia has to do with God appearing as Judge. Grammatically speaking, the perfect tense of ēngiken needs to be seen in context: the state of affairs that comes through the perfect tense is that God has heard the cries of the poor (5:4, perfect tense), so the flipside of that hearing is that the “coming near” of the Lord’s parousia is a state of affairs. One might think of “being near” the way a plane might be put into a holding pattern just before it arrives. The Lord’s parousia then mirrors the hearing of the cries of the oppressed as a state of affairs. The Judge’s standing, or hovering, at the doors (5:9b) is another set of affairs sketched in the perfect tense. They need to be tied together: God having heard the cries, the coming near of the parousia, and the approach of God as Judge.[3]

5:8 / Christians also must be patient. Like the farmer, the Christian bets his or her life on the outcome of a long wait. Like the farmer, reducing the tension (by compromise or attack) would be self-destructive. The Christian must place all hope in a condition outside his or her control, waiting patiently for the coming of the King.

As they wait they are to stand firm. As they wait doubt must be fought at all costs: The inner defenses must be constantly attended, their hearts must be strengthened in the face of suffering.

As a further encouragement he adds, the Lord’s coming is near. For the rich this is bad news (5:3–5); for believers this is good news. The waiting may still be long, but like a runner who has rounded the last curve on the track and sees the finish line down the interminable straightaway, they can receive a new wind from the vision of the end.[4]

5:8 the Lord’s coming is near. A double meaning is intended here. “Near” means near in time, that is, “soon” (as in Rom. 13:11–12; Heb. 10:25). But “near” also means near in space, that is, “nearby” or “at hand” (as in Matt. 3:2; Luke 10:9–11). The word for “coming” (parousia), when used of Jesus, almost always refers to the second coming, which is in the future. And the primary frame of reference thus far in 5:7–12 has been the future. But the verb “is near” is in the perfect tense, which usually indicates something that has already been put into place and that has continuing effects. So besides the emphasis on Christ’s future second coming, there is also a sense that James is saying the Lord is nearby his readers now, that they should wait for him to rescue them from their sufferings in some ways before the second coming. This ambiguity of Jesus (or his kingdom) being both already present in some sense and not yet present in another runs through much of the New Testament. While 5:7–12 has a stronger emphasis on the “not yet” aspect, 5:13–20 emphasizes the “already” aspect.[5]

7. Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.

Note these observations:

  • Command

Fully aware of their adversities, James tells his readers to exercise patience. The adverb then links the command to be patient to the preceding verses in which James describes the oppressive conditions under which the poor live. In a sense, James takes up the theme with which he begins his epistle: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (1:2).

Patience is a virtue possessed by few and sought by many. We are living in a society that champions the word instant. But to be patient, as James uses the word, is much more than passively waiting for the time to pass. Patience is the art of enduring someone whose conduct is incompatible with that of others and sometimes even oppressive. A patient man calms a quarrel, for he controls his anger and does not seek revenge (compare Prov. 15:18; 16:32).

The old English term long-suffering does not mean to suffer a while but to tolerate someone for a long time. To say it differently, patience is the opposite of being short-tempered. God displays patience by being “slow to anger” when man continues in sin even after numerous admonitions (Exod. 34:6; Ps. 86:15; Rom. 2:4; 9:22; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:15). Man ought to reflect that divine virtue in his day-to-day life.

James knows that the readers of his epistle are unable to defend themselves against their oppressors. Therefore, he urges them to exercise patience and to leave matters in the hands of God, who is coming to deliver them. Even if they were able to do so, they should not take matters into their own hands. God has said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay” (Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:12; Heb. 10:30).

“Be patient … until the Lord’s coming.” The readers know that the Lord is coming back in the capacity of Judge. They ought to exercise self-control toward their adversaries and demonstrate patience in respect to the coming of the Lord. He will avenge his people when he returns (2 Thess. 1:5–6).

  • Example

Throughout his epistle the writer reveals his love for God’s creation. In this verse he portrays the expectations of the farmer who anticipates a bountiful harvest but must patiently wait for the arrival of “the autumn and spring rains.” The farmer has learned that everything grows according to the seasons of the year. He knows how many days are needed for a plant to develop from germination to harvest. Moreover, he knows that without the proper amount of rainfall at the right moment, his labors are in vain.

Although the amounts of rainfall in Israel fluctuate, the farmer knows that he can expect the autumn rain, beginning with a number of thunderstorms, in the latter part of October. Then he can plant his seed so that germination takes place. And he eagerly hopes for a sufficient amount of rainfall in April and May when the grain is maturing and the yield increases every time the rains come down. He depends, therefore, on the autumn and the spring rains (Deut. 11:14; Jer. 5:24; Hos. 6:3; Joel 2:23). He is able to predict the coming of the rain, but he cannot speak with certainty about the harvest. He waits with eager expectation.

  • Repetition

James applies the example of the farmer to the readers. “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” As the farmer confidently waits for the coming of the autumn rain and the spring rain on which his harvest depends, so the believer waits patiently for the coming of the Lord. As God promised Noah that “as long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest … will never cease” (Gen. 8:22), so the Lord has given the believer the promise that he will return.

James tells the readers to be patient and to stand firm (“to strengthen your hearts” in the original). They can say with confidence that the Lord is coming back, but they do not know when that will be. While they are waiting, doubt and distraction often enter their lives. For this reason, James counsels his readers to stand firm in the knowledge that the Lord in due time will fulfill his promise made to the believers. He falls into repetition, but the reminder of the Lord’s imminent return is necessary so that the readers will not lose heart in difficult circumstances.[6]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1998). James (pp. 253–256). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Adamson, J. B. (1976). The Epistle of James (p. 191). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] McKnight, S. (2011). The Letter of James (pp. 410–413). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[4] Davids, P. H. (2011). James (pp. 118–119). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Samra, J. (2016). James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 78). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books: A Division of Baker Publishing Group.

[6] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, pp. 163–165). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

January 15, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

6:9 The Lord has heard … the Lord accepts my prayer. While the first verb is the Hebrew perfect (“has heard”) and the second an imperfect (“will accept”), both types of verbs in Hebrew poetry are quite flexible. Here the second verb carries the present reality, “accepts.”[1]

9. “The Lord hath heard my supplication.” The Holy Spirit had wrought into the Psalmist’s mind the confidence that his prayer was heard. This is frequently the privilege of the saints. Praying the prayer of faith, they are often infallibly assured that they have prevailed with God. We read of Luther that, having on one occasion wrestled hard with God in prayer, he came leaping out of his closet crying, “Vicimus, vicimus;” that is, “We have conquered, we have prevailed with God.” Assured confidence is no idle dream, for when the Holy Ghost bestows it upon us, we know its reality, and could not doubt it, even though all men should deride our boldness. “The Lord will receive my prayer.” Here is past experience used for future encouragement. He hath, he will. Note this, O believer, and imitate its reasoning.[2] †

6:9 — The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer.

How did the psalmist know that God had heard his prayer? How could he express such confidence that the Lord would answer his request? Through faith. He prayed in faith and he expected an answer by faith—just like us.[3]

[1] Bullock, C. H. (2015). Psalms 1–72. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (Vol. 1, p. 46). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 1-26 (Vol. 1, p. 59). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.

[3] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Ps 6:9). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

January 15, 2020 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

62:1 Truly my soul finds rest in God. God alone is the source of rest. See “Theological Insights” for the translation of “truly/alone” (’ak). “Rest” signifies faith, as it does in Psalm 37:7 (“Be still [dmm; see 62:5] before the Lord”).[1]

1. Liturgy and life

Scholars give much thought to how the psalms generally would have been used in the temple cultus in Jerusalem, and who would have sung this or that section. This poem’s I and you and people—who did the worshippers suppose them to be? To whom was verse 10 addressed? Did the temple liturgy expect a prophecy at verse 11?

As we have seen, however, the real-life situations that lie behind so many of the psalms are of still greater interest. Even if we cannot be certain what they were, we do know that David himself, for example, both talked and listened to God, just as the Davidic psalms do. How such things did happen historically is likely to be of more practical value to modern readers than how they may have happened liturgically.

Once again the meaning of the phrase A psalm of David could include authorship, and once again it could have been the great rebellion that prompted the writing of it. How long will you assault a man? cries our psalmist, echoing a psalm in the first David Collection which seems to belong to the same period (4:2). The downfall (v. 3) of one so eminent (v. 4a), brought about by a man of deceit (v. 4b; see 2 Sam. 15:1–6), fits these circumstances. So does the sense of desperation: in spite of many loyal friends, the outlook is so serious that if God does not rescue the psalmist he is doomed. If this is not the King David of 2 Samuel 15–16, it must (as the schoolboy said of Second Isaiah) be another person of the same name.[2]

62:1–2. My rock and my salvation

Rather than beginning with complaint, the composer asserts his utter confidence in God’s ability to protect him. While circumstances conspire to upset his life and fill him with anxiety (see vv. 3–4), he relaxes in his relationship with God. He knows that the solution to his troubles comes from God who is his salvation. Through his use of metaphors of protection (rock and fortress [18:2], but there miśgāb is translated ‘stronghold’), he reveals his belief that God will not let those who assault him overwhelm him.[3]

1–2. Whether we behold Christ in the first place, or David, as a member of Christ, in the next point of view; or whether we consider the whole body of Christ in any of the exercised members of Jesus in his body, which is the church, as we read these words; still in every sense they will be blessed to our meditation. Christ had an eye to the support of the Father in all his sufferings. Psalm, 22:19. Psalm, 89:20, &c. The words imply a silent, patient waiting. So all God’s people should manifest their sure dependence, for he that believeth shall not make haste; Isaiah, 28:16. Reader, if you and I peruse these precious words with reference to Christ, think what a double blessedness is in them, not only in having an interest in Christ’s salvation, but Christ himself for our salvation![4]

1. “Truly,” or verily, or only. The last is probably the most prominent sense here. That faith alone is true which rests on God alone, that confidence which relies but partly on the Lord is vain confidence. If we Englished the word by our word “verily,” as some do, we should have here a striking reminder of our blessed Lord’s frequent use of that adverb. “My soul waiteth upon God.” My inmost self draws near in reverent obedience to God. I am no hypocrite or mere posture maker. To wait upon, God, and for God, is the habitual position of faith; to wait on him truly is sincerity; to wait on him only is spiritual chastity. The original is, “only to God is my soul silence.” The presence of God alone could awe his heart into quietude, submission, rest, and acquiescence; but when that was felt, not a rebellious word or thought broke the peaceful silence. The proverb that speech is silver but silence is gold, is more than true in this case. No eloquence in the world is half so full of meaning as the patient silence of a child of God. It is an eminent work of grace to bring down the will and subdue the affections to such a degree, that the whole mind lies before the Lord like the sea beneath the wind, ready to be moved by every breath of his mouth, but free from all inward and self-caused emotion, as also from all power to be moved by anything other than the divine will. We should be wax to the Lord, but adamant to every other force. “From him cometh my salvation.” The good man will, therefore, in patience possess his soul till deliverance comes; faith can hear the footsteps of coming salvation because she has learned to be silent. Our salvation in no measure or degree comes to us from any inferior source; let us, therefore, look alone to the true fountain, and avoid the detestable crime of ascribing to the creature what belongs alone to the Creator. If to wait on God be worship, to wait on the creature is idolatry; if to wait on God alone be true faith, to associate an arm of flesh with him is audacious unbelief.[5]

[1] Bullock, C. H. (2015). Psalms 1–72. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (Vol. 1, p. 472). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Wilcock, M. (2001). The Message of Psalms: Songs for the People of God. (J. A. Motyer, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. 220). Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

[3] Longman, T., III. (2014). Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary. (D. G. Firth, Ed.) (Vol. 15–16, p. 244). Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

[4] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary: Job–Psalms (Vol. 4, p. 353). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[5] Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 56-87 (Vol. 3, pp. 48–49). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.