Tuesday, January 16, 2024

2024.01.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 109:16–21

Read Psalm 109:16–21

Questions from the Scripture text: What did the wicked not remember to show (Psalm 109:16a)? What did he do instead (verse 16b)? To whom? What else did he even do (verse 16c)? To whom? What did the wicked love (Psalm 109:17a)? What, then, should come to him? In what didn’t the wicked delight (verse 17b)? What, then, should be far from him? With what did the wicked clothe himself (Psalm 109:18a)? What, then, should permeate his body and bones (verse 18b–c)? What else should cursing be like unto him (Psalm 109:19)? Who should give this reward to whom (Psalm 109:20)? But what reward does the psalmist hope to receive from him (Psalm 109:21)? For what two reasons?

What do we learn, as the Psalm turns from how the wicked have treated God’s Messiah to how they have treated the needy and lowly? Psalm 109:16–21 prepares us for the opening portion of public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God vindicates His own Name in both the justness of His wrath and the freedom of His mercy. 

The poor and needy are a providential assignment to test if we value God by valuing those made in His image, Psalm 109:16. The word “remember” is important. It indicates that there is something that we should do in response to the poor, needy, and broken-hearted: show mercy. The word here is ḳessed—covenant love. Love in which we are to image God in how we treat others who are made in that image. Failure to show mercy is to “forget” what we should do, to know what is right but not do it—which is sin (cf. James 4:17)! 

So the first line of Psalm 109:16 is not saying that the wicked “was going to show kindness” but didn’t remember; rather, it is identifying his not showing mercy as a rebellion against God. God commanded something, and he didn’t remember it. (The idea of “remembering” is used in the same way in the fourth commandment; “forgetting” the Sabbath is not a mental lapse, but rebellion!)

We see this rebellion in the escalation from forgetfulness to “persecution” and finally “slaying.” And his victims progress from those who are merely lowly in an outward sense (“poor and needy”) to those who are broken even in heart. The attacker of the Lord and His anointed in Psalm 109:1-4 is now further identified as a despiser of the needy, a disregarder of God by his uncaring devaluation of those made in God’s image. 

The wrath of God is exact in its justness, Psalm 109:17-20. The language in Psalm 109:17-19 highlights that the Spirit-inspired praying for wrath is asking only for exactly what is right and just. Let him have what he loved (cursing, Psalm 109:17a). Keep from him what he doesn’t delight in (blessing, verse 17b). Let him be coated continually with what he wanted to be covered with (cursing, Psalm 109:18-19). We must be careful with how we relate to men who are made in the image of God.

And we must be careful even more with how we relate to God Himself. We will spend forever in His presence, either in His favor (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:17, 2 Thessalonians 1:10) or in His fury (2 Thessalonians 1:8–9). For if the justness in how we respond to those made in the image of His glory is exact, then what must be the greatness of His justice in how we respond to His glory itself?! 

YHWH’s reward in Psalm 109:20 is amplified by against-Whom are the accusations in this Psalm. Remember that David is speaking here as the Anointed, the Messiah, the Christ. This is a Psalm by which Christ Himself, as a human boy, grew in wisdom and understanding of Who He is. And He learned that attacks on God’s image, attacks upon God, attacks upon God’s reign, are attacks especially upon Christ Himself. verse 20 makes this point strongly: “My accusers” and even “My Person.” 

The mercy of God is divine in its greatness, Psalm 109:21. Just as God acts for His Name’s sake, for His glory’s sake, in His dealings with the wicked, so it is also in His dealings with the elect. It is not as if they have treated God’s glory well enough to merit God’s favor. But He, the Lord YHWH (verse 21a) will act for the sake of that Name! He will act for the sake of His mercy, grace, longsuffering, ḳessed, and emmet (cf. Exodus 34:6)! This is how and why YHWH shows mercy to Hs elect, and why His Name on His Son must certainly be vindicated. Jesus was shown to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection (cf. Romans 1:4), and that same resurrection was on account of our justification (cf. Romans 4:25). These two lines of God’s acting for His Name come together in Christ. He acts for Christ Who is the glory of His Name, and He acts for the mercy that is bound up in that Name! His mercy, His ḳessed, is so good (Psalm 109:21c) that He will surely deliver those upon whom He has set that love (verse 21c)! Here is something that every believer can plead in every trouble. 

What poor and needy has the Lord placed in the path of your life? What should you “remember”? How should you feel about cursing? What evidence is there, in your life, of delighting in blessing? Yet, what must your hope be in, rather than in these evidences? What, in God’s character, makes sure your hope in God’s Name’s sake? What, in Christ’s identity, makes sure your hope in God’s Name’s sake?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for creating us in Your image to glorify and enjoy You! Grant that we would remember to show covenant love to those who are made in Your image. But now, O Lord, show covenant love to us. Declare and display Your glory and covenant love to us, especially in the person of Your Son, our Lord Jesus. Until You bring us at last into Your glory to worship You forever, be our reward in the worship of Your glory, we ask through Christ Himself, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP109A “God of My Praise” or TPH389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear!”

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