Category Archives: Verse of the day

April 30, 2017: Verse of the day


4 The communal confession arouses another invocation to give thanks to the Lord. The worshiping community entered the temple courts (cf. 96:8) through the gates. The verb “enter” (bōʾû), identical to the verb in v. 2 translated “come,” resumes the invocation to praise. In fact, when vv. 1, 2, and 4 are read as a unit, the imperatival parallelism is clearer:

  1. 1–2: “Shout for joy … Worship … come”
  2. 4: “Enter [‘come’ in v. 2] … give thanks … praise”

Verses 1–2 bring out the joyful acclamation of God’s kingship, whereas v. 4 stresses the communal act of worship. They come “with thanksgiving” and “with praise.” These are the appropriate sacrifices of “thanks” to his name for all the benefits. Thanksgiving and praise go together, because the Lord reveals himself both in his perfections and acts (cf. 139:1; cf. Jer 33:11).[1]

100:4 Entering the presence of God has been made possible through Christ who opened the way (John 14:6; Heb. 10:19–22).[2]

[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. 743). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1064). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

April 29, 2017: Verse of the day


9 Before the scattering of the people at the tower of Babel, the world was unified by one language; but it was a world of rebellious people. In contrast, a new purified language will characterize a responsive people (cf. Ro 15:6). The lips or language that had become impure through use in idol worship will become purified so that all may in unison call on the name of the Lord. The reference to lips, the organ of speech, includes the heart behind the language; as Keil, 156, notes, “Purity of the lips involves or presupposes the purification of the heart.” The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost brought about purification and renewal of heart and lips resulting in a widespread calling on the name of the Lord (Ac 2:21).

To “call on [qārāʾ] the name of the Lord” is to turn to the Lord out of a sense of need (TWOT, 2:810). Again, this kind of language may refer back to the preflood period (cf. Ge 4:26). The original unity of speech lost at Babel (11:1–9) will ultimately be restored so that all creation may worship God. Those of purified speech are enabled to serve “shoulder to shoulder” (lit., “one shoulder”; cf. Jer 32:39). In a similar vein, the expression “one mouth” is used to indicate unanimity in 1 Kings 22:13.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

Conversion of the Remaining Nations (3:9)

The pure language of verse 9 probably does not refer to a universal tongue but rather to lips that are undefiled by idolatry, or to speech that is pure with praise to Jehovah. All peoples will serve Him with one accord.

Believers Bible Commentary

3:9 purified lips. See Introduction: Interpretive Challenges. A remnant of the nations, converted to the Lord, will worship Him in righteousness and truth (Zec 8:20–23; 14:16). Pure speech will come from purified hearts (cf. Lk 6:45).

MacArthur Study Bible

3:9 In that day, God will alter the speech (or lips) of the peoples gathered to be punished (Isa. 6:5–7). The nations had polluted speech, worshiping pagan gods, but now they will have pure speech (cf. Ps. 24:4), cleansed to call upon the name of the Lord in worship (Gen. 4:26). (Some have suggested that this may also allude to the reversal of the Babel syndrome in Gen. 11:1–9.) Worship is not only through word but also through deed, since the nations will serve him. The term ‘abad (“work, serve”) designates obedient work for God (Mal. 3:14). This service is universal, done by all, and unanimous, “with one accord” (cf. 1 Kings 22:13).

ESV Study Bible

3:9 change … a pure speech. To purify the lips is either to cleanse from sin in general (Is. 6:5) or to remove the names of foreign gods from the lips of a worshiper (Hos. 2:17).

of the peoples. The Gentiles will also call on His name (Is. 52:15; 65:1; 66:18).

all of them may call upon the name of the Lord. In contrast with the idolaters of 1:5, 6. See Gen. 4:26; 1 Kin. 18:24; Jer. 10:25; Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:12, 13.

Reformation Study Bible

April 28, 2017: Verse of the day


11:1 Isaiah 11 is one of the greatest passages on the Millennium in either the OT or the NT. In one of the quick transitions, so frequent in the prophets, we are now carried forward to the Second Coming of Christ.

First we see the lineage of the Son of David, a Rod from the stem of Jesse, who was David’s father (1 Sam. 17:12).

Believer’s Bible Commentary

11:1 stem … roots. With the Babylonian captivity of 586 b.c., the Davidic dynasty appeared as decimated as the Assyrian army. A major difference between the two was the life remaining in the stump and roots of the Davidic line. That life was to manifest itself in new growth in the form of the Rod and Branch. Jesse. Jesse was David’s father through whose line the messianic king was to come (Ru 4:22; 1Sa 16:1, 12, 13). branch. This is a title for the Messiah (see 4:2).

MacArthur Study Bible

11:1 a shoot from the stump. After portraying the destruction of arrogant human evil as the felling of a vast forest (10:33–34), Isaiah presents the Messiah as a shoot or twig growing from a stump remaining after God’s judgment (cf. 4:2; 6:13; 53:2). Jesse. The father of David (cf. 1 Sam. 16:1–13; 2 Sam. 20:1). A greater David is prophesied (cf. Ezek. 34:23–24; Hos. 3:5). bear fruit. Unlike the human failure before him, especially King Ahaz, this son of Jesse bears the fruit of a new world.

11:1 The Messiah is from the line of Jesse, the father of David (1 Sam. 16:1). He is filled with the Spirit (Matt. 3:16; Luke 4:18), with wisdom (Col. 2:3), and with justice (Rev. 19:11).

ESV Study Bible

April 27, 2017: Verse of the day


3:13, 14 Moses anticipated questions from the children of Israel when he returned to them as the Lord’s spokesman, and he wanted to be able to tell them who sent him. It was at this point that God first revealed Himself as Jehovah, the great I AM. Jehovah (more precisely Yahweh) comes from the Hebrew verb “to be,” hāyāh. This sacred name is known as the tetragrammaton (“four letters”). English Jehovah comes from the Hebrew YHWH, with vowel markings supplied from Elohim and Adonai, other names of God. No one knows for sure the true pronunciation of YHWH because the ancient Hebrew spelling used no actual vowels in its alphabet. However, the pronunciation “Yahweh” is probably correct. The Jews consider YHWH too sacred to utter. The name proclaims God as self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal, and sovereign. The fuller name I AM WHO I AM may mean I AM BECAUSE I AM or I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE.[1]

3:14 I Am WHO I AM. This name for God points to His self-existence and eternality; it denotes “I am the One who is/will be,” which is decidedly the best and most contextually suitable option from a number of theories about its meaning and etymological source. The significance in relation to “God of your fathers” is immediately discernible: He’s the same God throughout the ages! The consonants from the Heb. word Yhwh, combined with the vowels from the divine name Adonai (Master or Lord), gave rise to the name “Jehovah” in English. Since the name Yahweh was considered so sacred that it should not be pronounced, the Massoretes inserted the vowels from Adonai to remind themselves to pronounce it when reading instead of saying Yahweh. Technically, this combination of consonants is known as the “tetragrammaton.”[2]

3:14 I am who I am. In response to Moses’ question (“What is [your] name?” v. 13), God reveals his name to be “Yahweh” (corresponding to the four Hebrew consonants YHWH). The three occurrences of “I am” in v. 14 all represent forms of the Hebrew verb that means “to be” (Hb. hayah), and in each case are related to the divine name Yahweh (i.e., “the Lord”; see note on v. 15). The divine name Yahweh has suggested to scholars a range of likely nuances of meaning: (1) that God is self-existent and therefore not dependent on anything else for his own existence; (2) that God is the creator and sustainer of all that exists; (3) that God is immutable in his being and character and thus is not in the process of becoming something different from what he is (e.g., “the same yesterday and today and forever,” Heb. 13:8); and (4) that God is eternal in his existence. While each of these points is true of God, the main focus in this passage is on the Lord’s promise to be with Moses and his people. The word translated “I am” (Hb. ’ehyeh) can also be understood and translated as “I will be” (cf. ESV footnote). Given the context of Ex. 3:12 (“I will be with you”), the name of Yahweh (“the Lord”) is also a clear reminder of God’s promises to his people and of his help for them to fulfill their calling. In each of these cases, the personal name of God as revealed to Moses expresses something essential about the attributes and character of God.

3:14 The name “I am” anticipates the “I am” sayings of Jesus (see John 8:58), which show his deity.[3]

[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 91–92). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ex 3:14). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 149). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

April 26, 2017: Verse of the day


8 “The lion has roared” sounds an alarm. There is indeed cause for fear, though not from any lion or blast of a trumpet; it is Yahweh’s voice through his prophet that should strike fear in people’s hearts. Yahweh is no longer stalking quietly (cf. v. 4)—he has pounced! He has spoken, and no one can contravene his word. So Amos pronounces judgment on the people. For a possible connection with 1:2, see comments on 1:2.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

3:8 who can but prophesy. Just as a lion’s voice evokes fear, so the voice of the Lord compels the prophets to proclaim His word (Deut. 18:18; cf. 1 Cor. 9:16).

The Reformation Study Bible

April 25, 2017: Verse of the day


Hope Is Fulfilled by Christlikeness

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (3:2)

Heaven is attractive for believers because there they will not only see the Lord Jesus Christ, but will become like Him. Concerning that dramatic and eternal change, the apostle Paul wrote:

Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Cor. 15:49–53)

Even though all who exercise saving faith in the person and work of Christ now … are children of God (cf. Rom. 8:14–18), it has not appeared as yet what they will be when they experience what Paul called “the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (8:21). It is then that “the Lord Jesus Christ … will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20–21; cf. cf. Ps. 73:24; Rom. 9:23; 1 Cor. 15:42–49; Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 4:16; 2 Thess. 2:14; 2 Tim. 2:10). As a result, believers will be like Him, because they will see Him just as He is. God has promised to bring about such a climactic transformation because “those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). That transformation will make the redeemed perfectly holy and righteous, with a pure capacity to worship and glorify God in a totally satisfying, joyful, undiminished fashion forever (cf. Rev. 5:11–14).

It has been rightly said that imitation is the highest form of praise, and this transformation will be a supreme tribute to Jesus Christ—that He is the Chief One, the prototokos, among many who are made like Him. Those whom the Father has elected to salvation through the Son will be made like the Son, conformed to the image of Christ. He will be the first among His elect and redeemed humanity who will join with the holy angels to praise and glorify His name, reflect His goodness, and proclaim His greatness, as they worship Him endlessly.[1]

3:2 However, understood or not, now we are children of God, and this is the guarantee of future glory. It has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we do know that when Christ is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. This does not mean that we will be physically like Jesus in heaven. The Lord Jesus will have His own definite appearance, and will bear the scars of Calvary throughout eternity. Each of us, we believe, will have his own distinct features and will be recognizable as such. The Bible does not teach that everyone will look alike in heaven. However, we will be morally like the Lord Jesus Christ. We will be free from the possibility of defilement, sin, sickness, sorrow, and death.

And how will this marvelous transformation be accomplished? The answer is that one look at Christ will bring it to pass. For we shall see Him as He is. Here in life, the process of becoming like Christ is going on, as we behold Him by faith in the word of God. But then the process will be absolutely complete when we see Him as He is: for to see Him is to be like Him.[2]

2 Many commentators have been struck by the language here, for at first glance it seems more Pauline than Johannine. Paul frequently speaks of the believer’s transformation at the second coming (1 Co 13:12; 15:35–53; Php 3:20–21; 1 Th 4:13–17), but the fourth gospel stresses that Christians have already been reborn to eternal life (Jn 1:13; 3:3–8; 5:24–26; 6:53–57; 14:23). Indeed, the Johannine Jesus has almost nothing to say about his return except that he will come to his disciples in the form of the Paraclete (cf. Jn 14:18–23 with Mk 13 and Mt 24–25). Rensberger, 89, therefore concludes that 1 John 3:2 is “closer to non-Johannine forms of early Christian eschatology” than to the fourth gospel (cf. Barker, 330–31; Marshall, 171–73; Johnson, 68). Going a step further, Stott, 119, attempts to harmonize John’s position with Paul’s, positing a threefold sequence of events: “he will appear; we shall see him as he really is; we shall be like him.” But the order of the two slogans at 3:2 suggests that John has not shifted from the realized eschatology of the fourth gospel. Contra Stott’s outline, John actually says that believers “shall be like him” before referring to their vision of Jesus. Believers will not be like Jesus because they will see him; rather, believers will see Jesus because they have been like him. As God’s children, true Christians are already “like him,” and Christ’s appearing will only confirm this established fact. Rather than shifting from the “realized eschatology” of the fourth gospel, then, 3:2 asserts that the second coming will only clarify what believers already know to be true about God and themselves.[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 116–117). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2316). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Thatcher, T. (2006). 1 John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 458–459). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 24, 2017: Verse of the day


His Perfect Person

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (4:15)

At the end of verse 14 our great High Priest is again identified as Jesus, the Son of God. Here together are His human name, Jesus, and His divine title, Son of God. These two parts of His nature are also reflected in verse 15.

Jesus’ Humanity

Most people seem to think of God as being far removed from human life and concerns. Jesus was the very Son of God, yet His divinity did not prevent Him from experiencing our feelings, our emotions, our temptations, our pain. God became man, He became Jesus, to share triumphantly the temptation and the testing and the suffering of men, in order that He might be a sympathetic and understanding High Priest.

When we are troubled or hurt or despondent or strongly tempted, we want to share our feelings and needs with someone who understands. Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses. The phrase “No one understands like Jesus” in the well-known hymn is not only beautiful and encouraging but absolutely true. Our great High Priest not only is perfectly merciful and faithful but also perfectly understanding. He has an unequaled capacity for sympathizing with us in every danger, in every trial, in every situation that comes our way, because He has been through it all Himself. At the tomb of Lazarus Jesus’ body shook in grief. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before His arrest, He sweat drops of blood. He experienced every kind of temptation and testing, every kind of vicissitude, every kind of circumstance that any person will ever face. And He is at the right hand of the Father right now interceding for us.

Jesus not only had all the feelings of love, concern, disappointment, grief, and frustration that we have, but He had much greater love, infinitely more sensitive concerns, infinitely higher standards of righteousness, and perfect awareness of the evil and dangers of sin. Contrary, therefore, to what we are inclined to think, His divinity made His temptations and trials immeasurably harder for Him to endure than ours are for us.

Let me give an illustration to help explain how this can be true. We experience pain when we are injured, sometimes extreme pain. But if it becomes too severe, we will develop a temporary numbness, or we may even faint or go into shock. I remember that when I was thrown out of the car and skidded on my back on the highway, I felt pain for awhile and then felt nothing. Our bodies have ways of turning off pain when it becomes too much to endure. People vary a great deal in their pain thresholds, but we all have a breaking point. In other words, the amount of pain we can endure is not limitless. We can conclude, therefore, that there is a degree of pain we will never experience, because our bodies will turn off our sensitivity in one way or another—perhaps even by death—before we reach that point.

A similar principle operates in temptation. There is a degree of temptation that we may never experience simply because, no matter what our spirituality, we will succumb before we reach it. But Jesus Christ had no such limitation. Since He was sinless, He took the full extent of all that Satan could throw at Him. He had no shock system, no weakness limit, to turn off temptation at a certain point. Since He never succumbed, He experienced every temptation to the maximum. And He experienced it as a man, as a human being. In every way He was tempted as we are, and more. The only difference was that He never sinned. Therefore, when we come to Jesus Christ we can remember that He knows everything we know, and a great deal that we do not know, about temptation, and testing, and pain. We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses.

This truth was especially amazing and unbelievable to Jews. They knew that God was holy, righteous, sinless, perfect, omnipotent. They knew His divine attributes and nature and could not comprehend His experiencing pain, much less temptation. Not only this, but under the Old Covenant God’s dealings with His people were more indirect, more distant. Except for special and rare instances, even faithful believers did not experience His closeness and intimacy in the way that all believers now can. Jews believed that God was incapable of sharing the feelings of men. He was too distant, too far removed in nature from man, to be able to identify with our feelings and temptations and problems.

If comprehending God’s sympathy was hard for Jews, it was even harder for most Gentiles of that day. The Stoics, whose philosophy dominated much Greek and Roman culture in New Testament times, believed that God’s primary attribute was apathy. Some believed that He was without feeling or emotions of any sort. The Epicureans claimed that the gods live intermundia, between the physical and spiritual worlds. They did not participate in either world, and so could hardly be expected to understand the feelings, problems, and needs of mortals. They were completely detached from mankind.

The idea that God could and would identify with men in their trials and temptations was revolutionary to Jew and Gentile alike. But the writer of Hebrews is saying that we have a God not only “who is there” but one “who has been here.”

Weaknesses does not refer directly to sin, but to feebleness or infirmity. It refers to all the natural limitations of humanity, which, however, include liability to sin. Jesus knew firsthand the drive of human nature toward sin. His humanity was His battleground. It is here that Jesus faced and fought sin. He was victorious, but not without the most intense temptation, grief, and anguish.

In all of this struggle, however, Jesus was without sin (chōris hamartia). He was completely apart from, separated from, sin. These two Greek words express the absolute absence of sin. Though He was mercilessly tempted to sin, not the slightest taint of it ever entered His mind or was expressed in His words or actions.

Some may wonder how Jesus can completely identify with us if He did not actually sin as we do. It was Jesus’ facing sin with His perfect righteousness and truth, however, that qualifies Him. Merely experiencing something does not give us understanding of it. A person can have many successful operations without understanding the least bit about surgery. On the other hand, a doctor may perform thousands of complicated and successful operations without ever having had the surgery himself. It is his knowledge of the disease or disorder and his surgical skill in treating it that qualifies him, not his having had the disease. He has great experience with the disease—much greater experience with it than any of his patients—having confronted it in all of its manifestations. Jesus never sinned, but He understands sin better than any man. He has seen it more clearly and fought it more diligently than any of us could ever be able to do.

Sinlessness alone can properly estimate sin. Jesus Christ did not sin, could not sin, had no capacity to sin. Yet His temptations were all the more terrible because He would not fall and endured them to the extreme. His sinlessness increased His sensitivity to sin. “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin” (Heb. 12:3–4). If you want to talk to someone who knows what sin is about, talk to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ knows sin, and He knows and understands our weakness. Whatever Satan brings our way, there is victory in Jesus Christ. He understands; He has been here.

Dr. John Wilson often told the following story. Booth Tucker was conducting evangelistic meetings in the great Salvation Army Citadel in Chicago. One night, after he had preached on the sympathy of Jesus, a man came forward and asked Mr. Tucker how he could talk about a loving, understanding, sympathetic God. “If your wife had just died, like mine has,” the man said, “and your babies were crying for their mother who would never come back, you wouldn’t be saying what you’re saying.”

A few days later Mr. Tucker’s wife was killed in a train wreck. Her body was brought to Chicago and carried to the Citadel for the funeral. After the service the bereaved preacher looked down into the silent face of his wife and then turned to those who were attending. “The other day when I was here,” he said, “a man told me that, if my wife had just died and my children were crying for their mother, I would not be able to say that Christ was understanding and sympathetic, or that He was sufficient for every need. If that man is here, I want to tell him that Christ is sufficient. My heart is broken, it is crushed, but it has a song, and Christ put it there. I want to tell that man that Jesus Christ speaks comfort to me today.” The man was there, and he came and knelt beside the casket while Booth Tucker introduced him to Jesus Christ.

We have a sympathetic High Priest, whose priesthood is perfect and whose Person is perfect.[1]

4:15 Then too we must consider His experience. No one can truly sympathize with someone else unless he has been through a similar experience himself. As Man our Lord has shared our experiences and can therefore understand the testings which we endure. (He cannot sympathize with our wrongdoing because He never experienced it.)

In every pang that rends the heart,

The Man of Sorrows has a part.

He was tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sin. The Scriptures guard the sinless perfection of the Lord Jesus with jealous care, and we should too. He knew no sin (2 Cor. 5:21), He committed no sin (1 Pet. 2:22), and there is no sin in Him (1 Jn. 3:5).

It was impossible for Him to sin, either as God or as Man. As the perfect Man, He could do nothing of His own accord; He was absolutely obedient to the Father (John 5:19), and certainly the Father would never lead Him to sin.

To argue that His temptation was not meaningful if He could not sin is fallacious. One purpose of the temptation was to demonstrate conclusively that He could not sin.

If you put gold to the test, the test is not less valid because the gold is pure. If there were impurity, the test would show it up. Similarly it is wrong to argue that if He could not sin, He was not perfectly human. Sin is not an essential element in humanity; rather it is a foreign intruder. Our humanity has been marred by sin; His is perfect humanity.

If Jesus could have sinned as a Man on earth, what is to prevent His sinning as a Man in heaven? He did not leave His humanity behind when He ascended to the Father’s right hand. He was impeccable on earth and He is impeccable in heaven.[2]

15 But can such a great high priest in heaven also care about our human concerns? As we have seen in ch. 2, his greatness derives paradoxically from the fact that he has shared our human condition to the full, including its “weaknesses.” As we noted at 2:18, those weaknesses include the experience of being “tested” or “tempted”; both are valid meanings of the verb peirazō (GK 4279), but the further comment here that Jesus remained “without sin” suggests the author is thinking particularly of “temptation” to do wrong. It is part of being truly human to feel the attraction of that which is wrong, but the uniqueness of Jesus is shown in that he knew the power of temptation without giving way to it. While there is never any doubt of Jesus’ full humanity, the NT writers express in a variety of ways the belief that he never actually sinned (7:26; Jn 8:46; 2 Co 5:21; 1 Pe 2:22; 1 Jn 3:5; etc.). Peterson, 188–90, usefully discusses how sinlessness is compatible with fully sharing our human condition. “In every way, just as we are” is a very comprehensive statement, covering both the hard circumstances of Jesus’ life and death and his experience of temptation throughout that period; our modern circumstances may be very different, but in principle we are assured Jesus has been here before. There is a great difference between an omniscient but detached awareness of what human beings face and a personal experience of the power of temptation. Only Jesus can “empathize” (TNIV) with us in that way.[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 111–114). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2169–2170). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 72–73). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 23, 2017: Verse of the day


96:11–13 All creation is invited to join in the festal joy as the Lord (Jehovah, or Yahweh) arrives to rule the world. The heavens will be happy. The earth will be glad. “The sea and all within it will thunder praise” (Gelineau). No field will be silent, and “no tree in the forest but will rejoice to greet its Lord’s coming” (Knox). For He is coming to rule over the world. He will rule in perfect righteousness and in absolute honesty.

“Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?” (2 Sam. 19:10).[1]

96:11, 12 This is what even inanimate creation awaits (cf. Ro 8:19–22).[2]

96:10–13 Let All Nations Know that the Lord Will Judge in Righteousness. The Gentiles addressed throughout this psalm (cf. vv. 1, 7) are to spread the news among all their fellow Gentiles (among the nations, v. 10; cf. v. 3), namely, that the Lord reigns! The universal rule of the one true God (who is above all other gods, who are worthless anyway, vv. 4–5) is good news to those who will acknowledge his kingship. These verses describe a time when God will judge (i.e., rule justly; see note on Psalm 96) the peoples with equity (v. 10; cf. v. 13). When all kinds of people gladly receive God’s rule, worshiping him according to his gracious character, the rest of the creation (the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the field with all their inhabitants, and the trees of the forest) will all celebrate (be glad, rejoice, roar, exult, and sing for joy). The creation suffers from the curse upon mankind, and from God’s discipline of wayward human beings, and from the evil that people do; but when they genuinely come under the rule of the true God, the blessings will spread throughout the world. Cf. note on Rom. 8:20–21.[3]

96:11–13 The psalmist describes personified creation as looking forward to Yahweh’s judgment, which will be right and fair. As Yahweh’s reign is fully established over everything in the way that it should be—with justice and equality (righteousness)—everything on heaven and earth that knows Yahweh will rejoice.[4]

96:11–13 These verses call us to sing to the Lord as the judge of the earth.

96:11 heavens be glad … earth rejoice. This verse and the one that follows personify the whole creation.

96:13 comes to judge. The sense is that He comes to put everything back into proper order, which is why the creation is rejoicing in vv. 11, 12.[5]

[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 696). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 96:11). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1060). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 96:11–13). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 944). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

April 22, 2017: Verse of the day


One with Other Christians

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (3:28)

Paul focused on the existing, well-defined distinctions of his society that drew sharp lines and set up high walls of separation between people. The essence of those distinctions was the idea that some people-namely Jews, free men, and males in general-were better than, more valuable than, more significant than others. The gospel destroys all such proud thinking. The person who becomes one with Christ also becomes one with every other believer. There are no distinctions among those who belong to Christ. In spiritual matters, there is to be made no racial, social, or sexual discrimination-neither Jew nor Greek, … slave nor free man, … male nor female.

It is not, of course, that among Christians there is no such thing as a Jew Gentile, slave, free person, man, or woman. There are obvious racial, social, and sexual differences among people. Paul, however, was speaking of spiritual differences-differences in standing before the Lord, spiritual value, privilege, and worthiness. Consequently, prejudice based on race, social status, sex, or any other such superficial and temporary differences has no place in the fellowship of Christ’s church. All believers, without exception, are all one in Christ Jesus. All spiritual blessings, resources, and promises are equally given to all who believe unto salvation (cf. Rom. 10:12).

It was only with great difficulty that Peter finally learned that there are no racial distinctions in Christ, “that God is not one to show partiality” among Jew or Greek, “but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:35). Among the five prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch was “Simeon, who was called Niger,” which means black (Acts 13:1). Paul’s beloved son in the faith was Timothy, whose father was Gentile and whose mother and grandmother were Jewish (Acts 16:1; 2 Tim. 1:5).

Likewise there are no distinctions according to social or economic status. Paul told the Christian slave to be obedient to his master, “as to Christ,” and he told the Christian master, a free man, to “give up threatening, knowing that” the Master of both “is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him” (Eph. 6:5, 9).

James warned, “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? … If you show partiality, you are committing sin” (James 2:1–4, 9). The oneness of the Body of Christ focuses on common spiritual life and privilege, as Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Eph. 4:3–7).

Nor are there spiritual distinctions according to sex. There is neither male nor female. In recognizing believing women as the full spiritual equals of believing men, Christianity elevated women to a status they had never known before in the ancient world. In matters of rule in the home and in the church God has established the headship of men. But in the dimension of spiritual possessions and privilege there is absolutely no difference.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

April 21, 2017: Verse of the day


Salvation is of the Lord

Romans 9:16

It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

We are in a section of the Bible in which every sentence has exceptional importance. Because of this, we have been moving very slowly. In the last study we looked at Romans 9:15. In this study we look at verse 16.

Verse 16 can be considered an inference drawn from the truth in verse 15, which is a quotation from the Old Testament. If that is the case, the thought would be: If God has mercy on whom he wills to have mercy and shows compassion to whom he wills to show compassion, then salvation is of God who shows mercy and not of man. That is true enough. But it is probably better to see verse 16 as a statement of the truth behind the quotation. If this is the case, it means that salvation is not of man but of God; therefore, God shows mercy on whom he wills to show mercy and has compassion on whom he wills to have compassion.

This is better, because the chief point of verse 16 is the exclusion of any human role in salvation. The verse says, “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Or as the King James Version has it, “So then it is not of him that willeth, not of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”

Today’s Evangelism

This text has enormous implications for the way we do evangelism. In fact, it is a rebuke of most popular evangelism in our day.

You may recall from our studies of Romans 6 that when I was writing about sanctification in that context, I said that we tend to approach it in either of two wrong ways. Either we introduce a formula: “Follow these three [or four] steps to sound spiritual growth.” Or we recommend an experience: “What you need is the baptism of the Holy Spirit [or meaningful worship or whatever].” I pointed out that neither of these is introduced by Paul. Rather, he bases his approach to sanctification on sound teaching. He tells us that we are to go on in the Christian life for the simple reason that we have become new creatures as the result of God’s work in us, and we cannot go back to what we were.

The situation is exactly the same in most of our current approaches to evangelism. We choose either a formula or a feeling.

The formula represents something we must do: “Give your heart to Jesus,” “Pray the sinner’s prayer,” “Hold up your hand and come forward,” “Fill out this card.” The feeling is something we try to work up in evangelistic services by certain kinds of music, moving stories, and emotional appeals.

Let me say that I do not doubt for a moment that God has sometimes used these methods and that he has sometimes worked through feelings, just as he has also sometimes used quite different things. The problem with these ways of doing evangelism is not that God has not occasionally been gracious enough to use them, but that they distort the truth about salvation by making it something we do or to which we can contribute and thus, to that degree, detract from the glory of God.

Besides, these approaches contradict our text, which says that salvation “does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”

These approaches are also ineffective, as we would expect them to be, for they have filled our churches with thousands of people who think they are saved because they have made a profession or come forward at a meeting, but who are not born again. In many cases, those who have done these things are not even any longer present in the churches.

The Negative Teaching

Romans 9:16 contains both negative and positive teaching, each of which is meant to be comprehensive. Negatively, we are told that salvation does not come by man’s desire or effort, that is, neither by his will nor by his personal attainments. Positively, we are told that salvation comes from God.

The words desire and effort are meant to include everything of which a human being may be capable, and they thus reduce everyone to the position of being saved by the mercy of God or not saved. The first word concerns volition. The second refers to active exertion. Specifically they deny that we are saved by “seeking God” or “wanting to be saved” or, to run with the other term, by “choosing Jesus,” “surrendering our lives to Jesus,” “taking Jesus into our hearts,” or doing anything else of which we may think ourselves to be capable. It is true that there is a faith to be exercised, a choice to be made, a life to be surrendered, and seeking to be done. But those are the result of God’s working in us according to his mercy, and not the conditions on which he does.

Robert Haldane wrote rightly, “It is true, indeed, that believers both will and run, but this is the effect, not the cause, of the grace of God being vouchsafed to them.”

I know there are objections, some of them scriptural.

“What about John 1:12?” says someone. “Doesn’t that verse say, ‘To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’?” It does, of course. But the answer to the implied objection—that we become born again as the result of our receiving Jesus—is found in the next verse, which describes those who are saved as “children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (v. 13). That fixes the sequence rightly, just as Paul has expressed it in Romans 8, Ephesians 1 and 2, and elsewhere: first, election; then, rebirth; third, faith accompanied by repentance; and lastly, adoption into the family of God along with other benefits.

Together, John 1:12 and 13 actually teach that “it does not … depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Rom. 9:16).

Another verse that some people will quote is Romans 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Then they ask, “Doesn’t that teach that we have to give our hearts to Jesus and then confess him as Lord to be saved? Doesn’t it mean that we are the ones who ultimately determine whether or not we will be saved? If we are saved, isn’t it because we want to be saved? If we are lost, isn’t it because we choose to be?”

Well, we know the mouth speaks what is in the heart. Jesus said, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34b). So the critical question is: What kind of a heart is it that confesses, “Jesus is Lord”? Is this the new heart, which is given to us by God,—or the old, Adamic heart, which is enmity against God? It cannot be the latter, because the Bible everywhere teaches that the old heart is thoroughly corrupt. Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jer. 17:9). Ezekiel called it a “heart of stone” (Ezek. 11:19). Can a stony heart repent of its sin and come to God? Can a heart as wicked as this “choose” Jesus? Impossible! We can no more change our hearts than a leopard can change its spots.

Therefore, if we are to repent and believe the gospel, we must be given a new heart. A “heart of flesh” is Ezekiel’s term for it. This heart is given to us by the new birth. It is this heart only that believes on Jesus.

The Positive Teaching

This brings us to the positive teaching of this verse, namely, that salvation is entirely of God. God has mercy on whom he wills to have mercy, and he shows compassion on whom he wills to show compassion.

I have titled this study “Salvation Is of the Lord,” which comes, as I am sure you realize, from the Old Testament. It is from the story of Jonah, from chapter 2, and I refer to this now because Jonah is a good illustration of our text in Romans, namely, that salvation “does not … depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” The story of Jonah is a story of God’s mercy from beginning to end: mercy to the sailors, mercy to the people of Nineveh, and, above all, mercy to Jonah. Moreover, as far as man’s desire or effort is concerned, not only did Jonah not desire God’s will or strive to do it, he actually willed and tried to do the opposite. He tried to run away from God as deliberately as he could.

Jonah was a prophet, and God came to him with a command to proclaim a message of judgment on Nineveh, the capital of Assyria: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2). We would have expected Jonah to be responsive to such a call at once. Instead, “Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish” (v. 3a). Scholars debate the location of this ancient city, but most believe it was on the far coast of Spain beyond the Rock of Gibraltar. This fits the story, of course, for it means that Jonah was so determined to resist God’s sovereign call that he set out in precisely the opposite direction and for a destination as far away as possible. God said, “Go east.” Jonah went west, as far west as anyone knew to go. If he went farther than that, he would presumably have fallen off the edge of the world, which is, in a sense, what happened to him.

Why did Jonah disobey God? Strangely, at the end of the story, we find him explaining that it was because he suspected that God was going to be merciful to these people (Jonah 4:2)—and he did not want that, because they were the enemies of his people. No one can successfully run away from God, however. So, although Jonah went west instead of east, God went after him and brought him back. The text says that God hurled a great storm after Jonah.

At this point the mariners come into the story, for the judgment on the disobedient prophet affected them, too, and they were soon in as much danger of drowning from the fierce gale as Jonah was. They were pagans, but they had some spiritual perception and understood that the storm was unusually fierce, supernaturally so, in fact; they reasoned that some powerful god was angry with one or more of them. When they drew straws to find out who it was, the lot fell on Jonah.

Jonah understood that God had found him out and was now exposing his disobedience. He confessed what he was doing. But he was still unrepentant. He had that “heart of stone” Ezekiel had written about. So, when the sailors asked what they should do to him to make the sea calm down for them, Jonah replied, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea, and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you” (v. 12).

I like to point out that Jonah did not know that God had prepared a great fish to swallow him and eventually return him back to land. So, if he was asking to be thrown overboard in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, it meant that he was willing to be drowned. It meant that in his heart he was still unrepentant, for he was saying, “I would rather die than submit to God’s will.”

That is what it means to have a hard heart. It is what every one of us has until God replaces it.

Was Jonah a genuine believer at this point? Good question! I used to say he was. We would expect it of a prophet. If he was, he is an example of how stubbornly disobedient some Christians are with God, at least for a time. Today, however, I am not so sure. It is clear that Jonah was not right with God, and his is more an example of an unregenerate heart than a regenerate one. At any rate, Jonah seems to have experienced what we would call a conversion inside the great fish, which is where the verse “Salvation comes from the Lord” occurs (Jonah 2:9).

What happened inside Jonah while he was inside the fish is the heart of this great story.

Prayer from the Depths

When Jonah was turning his back on God to go to Tarshish, it did not bother him at all that he was abandoning God. But suddenly, when he was thrown overboard to his death and found himself in the position of apparently being abandoned by God, and Jonah actually calls his condition hellish, saying, “From the depths of the grave [that is, from Sheol] I called for help” (Jonah 2:2). As the story shows, God had not abandoned Jonah. But Jonah thought he had, and his despair was the very first step in his conversion.
What Jonah did in that great fish was to pray. God brought him to that point. As he prayed, he discovered that God was using the very depths of his misery to show him mercy.

Jonah’s prayer has four characteristics of all true prayer, and these have bearing on the question of correct biblical evangelism, which is where we started.

1. He was honest. The first thing we notice about Jonah’s prayer is that it was honest. That is, his disobedience had gotten him into a mess, and he acknowledged it. Before we get to this point, when God is working in our lives, we tend to explain away the hard hand of God’s judgments. We tell ourselves that we are only having a temporary setback, that things will get better, that they are not as bad as they seem. But when God begins to get through to us, the first thing that happens is that we admit our misery and desperate circumstances for what they are. Moreover, we admit that God has caused them. This is what Jonah does. You hear it in his prayer.

You hurled me into the deep,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
I said, “I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.”
Jonah 2:3–4

To acknowledge that God was behind his misfortune increased his terror, for it was not the sailors or even mere circumstances he was fighting. It was God. God had summoned Jonah to trial, cast a verdict of “guilty” against his sinful prophet, and sentenced him to death. This is a terror almost beyond words! But, in another sense, the acknowledgement of God’s hand in his misery also provided comfort. For God is merciful, and it is always better to fall into the hands of God, even the angry God, than of men.
It is often in judgment that mercy may be found.

2. He repented. The second characteristic of Jonah’s prayer is a spirit of repentance. We see it in two ways. First, he acknowledged that what had happened to him, while caused by God, was nevertheless his own fault. This is the meaning of verse 8, where Jonah says, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” An idol is anything that takes the place of God. So Jonah is confessing that he had rejected God, just as surely as those who literally worship idols. Therefore, he had renounced the source of all mercy.

The second way we know Jonah was genuinely repentant is that he does not ask God for anything. If he had, we might suspect that he was repenting only to get something from God. That is, he would have been treating his repentance as a good work that somehow was supposed to put God in his debt. Salvation does not come that way. Remember: Deserving something and receiving mercy are two entirely different things. Jonah knew now that all he deserved was damnation. Therefore, he was willing to wait upon the mercy of God, if it should come, without demanding anything.

3. He was thankful. “Thankful?” we might ask. “From the belly of a fish? Only a few hours or days away from death? What could Jonah possibly be thankful about?” Well, if we continue to think of his plight in physical terms, there probably is no good answer. But it is vastly different if we think spiritually. True, Jonah had no hope of any bodily deliverance. But he had found the grace of God. His entire prayer shows he had. His word for what he had found is “salvation” (v. 9).

This is the greatest miracle of the book. Not the great fish. Not the storm. The greatest miracle is Jonah’s salvation.

4. He was willing to take his position alongside the ungodly, all of whom need salvation by the mercy of God only. The final characteristic of this prayer is likewise significant. For when Jonah prayed, as he did at the end, “But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good” (v. 9, emphasis added), he was promising to do exactly what the pagan mariners had been willing to do, and did do, in the previous chapter. When they saw the power and holiness of Jonah’s God, “They offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him” (Jonah 1:16). It was right that they should. But here, in the second chapter, Jonah is taking his place alongside of them.

Earlier he had said, “I don’t want to preach to pagans. I am a Jew. I want God to judge the pagans.” But now, after he had discovered how much he deserved God’s judgment himself, he was willing to come to God as the mariners came—as a suppliant seeking mercy.

“Jesus Saves”

I have two final points. The first is a restatement of the truth that salvation is by the mercy of God and is without conditions.

What conditions could there be? Robert Haldane asks that question and answers with a telling paragraph:

Is it faith? Faith is the gift of God. Is it repentance? Christ is exalted as a Prince and a Savior to give repentance. Is it love? God promises to circumcise the heart in order to love him. Are they good works? His people are the workmanship of God created unto good works. Is it perseverance to the end? They are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. … “Thy people,” saith Jehovah to the Messiah, “shall be willing in the day of thy power.” Thus the believer, in running his race, and working out his salvation, is actuated by God and animated by the consideration of his all-powerful operation in the beginning of his course, of the continuation of his support during its progress, and by the assurances that it shall be effectual in enabling him to overcome all obstacles and to arrive in safety at the termination.

Second, what does this say about the proper way to do evangelism, the point with which I started?

Well, the weaknesses of our contemporary evangelism have been recognized and critiqued by many, among them Walter J. Chantry, Ernest C. Reisinger, and Gordon H. Clark, all of whom have written things that have been helpful to me. As I have read their books, I have found that there is a common bottom line. Evangelism is to teach the Word of God. Not just a certain evangelistic core, or only certain doctrines, or only truths that will move or motivate the ungodly. It is to teach the Bible and to do this as carefully, consistently, and comprehensively as possible, while looking to God (and praying to God) to give new life. Gordon Clark expressed it by saying quite succinctly, “Evangelism is the exposition of the Scripture. God will do the regenerating.”

“Just preach Jesus!” someone says.

Did I hear, “Just preach Jesus”?

Let’s do it. But remember what Jesus means. Jesus means “Salvation is of the Lord,” the very words uttered by Jonah from the belly of the fish. To preach Jesus is to preach a Calvinistic gospel.

Romans, Volume 3: God and History (Romans 9 – 11): An Expositional Commentary

April 20, 2017: Verse of the day


Who Should Praise God

The final answer that Psalm 150 gives to the questions you or I might have about worship is to tell us who should praise God. The answer is as comprehensive as those given to each of the other questions. First question: Where should we praise God? Answer: Everywhere, in heaven and on earth. Second question: Why should we praise God? Answer: Because of everything God is and for all he has done. Third question: How should we praise God? Answer: With everything we’ve got.

Now at last, question four: Who should praise God? Answer: Everything and everybody. “Everything that has breath,” says the Psalmist.

This is exactly what will happen, according to the Bible. At the moment, we see God insulted, blasphemed, denied, and ignored. We see Christ rejected. But one day “every knee [will] bow,” whether willingly or not (Phil. 2:10). As far as the saints are concerned, the apostle John wrote in Revelation, “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13).

What a great choir! What a great song! What a great privilege. It will be ours if we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who has indeed taken away the sin of those who trust him.

Psalms, An Expositional Commentary by James Montgomery Boice

6 All God’s creation that “has breath” (nešāmâ, GK 5972)—particularly humankind (cf. Isa 2:22)—is summoned to praise the Lord (cf. 148:7–12). The word nešāmâ denotes all living creatures—all endowed with life by the Creator (Ge 1:24–25; 7:21–22) but all distinct from the Creator (cf. Isa 2:22; see Eichrodt, 2:242; TWOT 2:605).

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

April 19, 2017: Verse of the day


24:7, 8 I like to think that the procession has been singing the words of verses 1–6 as they cross the Valley of the Kidron. But now their singing is interrupted by the clarion call of the herald at the head of the parade. He calls out to the watchmen at the gates of Jerusalem: “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.” A sentry on the wall of the city calls back in loud, impressive tones, “Who is this King of glory?” The answer comes back in clear, stentorian words, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.”

The Believers Bible Commentary

24:7 Heaven is opened to receive Christ in his ascension (Luke 24:51; Heb. 9:24).

The ESV Study Bible

7 It is difficult to be sure of this psalm’s original setting. Some explain it from the perspective of the ark’s return from battle (Craigie, 213–14). Others relate it to David’s bringing of the ark to Jerusalem from Kiriath-Jearim (K&D, 1:334). Weiser, 234–35 posits a cult dramatization of a theophany in the temple. This difficulty raises the question of the referent of “heads,” “gates,” and “doors.” Dahood, 1:152, explains “lift up your heads” as an idiom for rejoicing by the godly (cf. Lk 21:28). Similarly, A. A. Anderson, 1:204–5, proposes that “gates” may be symbolic of the people collectively, as in Isaiah 14:31 (cf. Briggs, 1:216–217). The sense of v. 7 would be: “Rejoice greatly, O you people [who live within the gates]” (cf. Zec 9:9). On the other hand, the psalmist may be literally addressing the gates of the temple to open up. Or since the temple itself was not yet erected in David’s time, the psalmist may be referring to the “ancient doors” of Jerusalem. Regardless of the referent, the point remains that Jerusalem had been a Jebusite city with a long history (cf. K. Kenyon, Royal Cities of the Old Testament [New York: Schocken, 1971], 13–35) and over which Melchizedek ruled in Abraham’s days (Ge 14:18). It became the city of God because God chose to dwell in it. Consequently, both the city and the people were called on to receive with joy and anticipation the Great King. The repetition in v. 9 of the refrain bears out the importance of proper preparation for “the King of glory.” Twice the people ask in antiphonal chorus, “Who is [he] this King of glory?” (vv. 8, 10).

8–10 “The King of glory” is “the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle” (v. 8) and “The Lord Almighty—he is the King of glory” (v. 10). He is Yahweh (three times, vv. 8, 10), the God of the covenantal people. He brings blessing, victory, and vindication to his people because he is their God and Savior (v. 5). He is the Warrior (see Reflections, p. 733, Yahweh Is the Divine Warrior). The descriptive phrases “strong and mighty” and “mighty in battle” (v. 5) portray him as the Warrior for his people (cf. Ex 15:2–3; Nu 10:35; Dt 10:17; Isa 10:21; Jer 32:18)—coming not to fight against them but for them. He is “Lord Almighty” (ṣebāʾôt, “of hosts”) as he commands both the heavenly beings (89:6–8; 103:20–21; 148:2) and the host of stars and constellations (Isa 40:26; Joel 2:10–11; see Reflections, p. 263, Lord Sabaoth). The Creator-God is the King of Glory and has come down to dwell in the midst of the city of human beings.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

24:7 Lift up your heads The psalmists asks the doors of the temple to open for Yahweh’s entrance. This psalm was most likely used when the ark of the covenant returned from battle (see Num 10:35–36 and note).

The ark of the covenant symbolizes Yahweh’s presence. Israelites used the ark in military campaigns during the conquest of the land (Josh 6:1–21), the period of the judges (Judg 20:27–28; 1 Sam 4:1–11), and in the early days of the monarchy (1 Sam 14:18–23). They eventually housed it in Solomon’s temple (1 Kgs 8:6).

24:8 mighty in war The psalmist portrays Yahweh, the King of glory, as a mighty warrior (Exod 15:3). Throughout the ot, biblical writers portray Yahweh going out to battle with His people (Deut 20:2–4).

Faithlife Study Bible