Recently, God directed me to study a remarkable passage that testifies of people who feared the Lord and feared other gods as well.

Not Fearing the Lord

2 Kings 17:24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. 25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them.

Learning to Fear the Lord

26 Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land. 27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land. 28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.

Fearing the Lord and Fearing Other gods

29 Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. 30 And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, 31 And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.

32 So they feared the LORD, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. 33 They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.

34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; 35 With whom the LORD had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them: 36 But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice. 37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods. 38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods. 39 But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.

40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner. 41 So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

Discussion

This passage plainly attests to unbelievers who were practicing idolaters who feared other gods. Because they did not fear the Lord, He sent lions among them to slay some of them (2 Kings 17:25).

Somehow, however, after they had been taught to fear the Lord, they also feared other gods (2 Kings 17:33, 41). Remarkably, these people were both fearing other gods and fearing the Lord in a manner that was acceptable to God to enough of an extent that He no longer sent lions among them to slay some of them (implied by 2 Kings 17:28), as He had previously done because they did not fear Him (2 Kings 17:25).

How is it possible for unbelieving, practicing idolaters also to fear God in a manner that was acceptable to Him, at least to some extent? How can people fear the Lord and fear other gods as well?

We are living in a time in world history when multitudes are concerned about having sufficient food and drink for them and their families. Two key passages provide vital revelation about how God has promised to certain people that He will provide the food and drink that they need.

Food and Drink Promised in Matthew 6:31-33

Matthew 6:31-33 is a premier passage in the Bible about what people are to do so that they will have the food and drink that they need to survive:

Matthew 6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

With these words, Jesus taught that people who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness will have what they are to eat and to drink added to them.

Food and Drink Promised in Isaiah 33:13-16

Compare the teaching of Matthew 6:31-33 with what Isaiah 33:13-16 says:

Isaiah 33:13 Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and, ye that are near, acknowledge my might. 14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? 15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; 16 He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.

This passage ends with a promise that bread and water will be provided to certain people, just as Matthew 6:31-33 does! Because God promises to provide the same things at the end of both passages, we know that what He teaches as the requirements for obtaining those promises in both passages are directly related.

Application

From the comparison presented above, we learn that seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness includes doing all the things that Isaiah 33:15 specifies: walking righteously, speaking uprightly, despising gaining by oppressions, rejecting bribes, stopping our ears from hearing about blood, and shutting our eyes from seeing evil. To have sufficient food and drink, we must be careful to do all these things in our seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness.

Tonight, I used BibleWorks to find out what persons or people are identified by their name as having God as their God. The results are quite interesting.

The phrase “God of” followed by a name of a person or a people occurs 21 times in the Psalms. God identifies with only three names in such phrases.

God of Abraham

Ps. 47:9  The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted.

God of Israel

Ps. 41:13  Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.

Ps. 59:5  Thou therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen: be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah.

Ps. 68:8  The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

Ps. 68:35  O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.

Ps. 69:6  Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel.

Ps. 72:18  Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.

Ps. 106:48  Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.

God of Jacob

Ps. 20:1  <To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.> The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee;

Ps. 46:7  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Ps. 46:11  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Ps. 75:9  But I will declare for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.

Ps. 76:6  At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep.

Ps. 81:1  <To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of Asaph.> Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.

Ps. 81:4  For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.

Ps. 84:8  O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.

Ps. 94:7  Yet they say, The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.

Ps. 114:7  Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob;

Ps. 132:2  How he sware unto the LORD, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;

Ps. 132:5  Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.

Ps. 146:5  Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:

Discussion

Psalms speaks of God as the God of only three named persons or people: Abraham, Israel, and Jacob. Only one verse speaks of God as the God of Abraham.

Seven verses speak of God as the God of Israel. In thirteen verses, the Psalms present God as the God of Jacob. Twenty verses thus point us to think of Jacob who later became Israel and of God as His God!

It is striking that of all the important people mentioned in the OT, the Spirit inspired the writers of the Psalms to speak of God as the God of Israel or Jacob more than he did for any other named person or people! When we consider what the life of Jacob was like, especially with his faults and failings that the Scripture reveals, it speaks volumes about God’s grace that He speaks of Himself in the Psalms as the God of Israel  or the God of Jacob more than He does of any other person!

Praise God!

Atheists deny the existence of God. No one should be an atheist, however, because it is impossible for anyone to know objectively that there is no God.

Here is why. Suppose that an atheist looked for God in every place in his town, state, or country and claimed not to find any evidence for God. Would the atheist have proved that there is no God? Not at all, because when the atheist is looking in one place for God, God could have been in another place, and when the atheist looked in that place, God could have moved to another place.

Extending this line of reasoning, the only person who could know objectively that there is no God is someone who could be in all the places of the universe at the same time. Unless someone can be everywhere at once, he cannot know that there is no God, and he cannot prove that there is no God.

Of course, there are no such people who can be everywhere in the universe at the same time to know that there is no God and to prove that there is no God.

Furthermore, no atheist can know objectively that there is no God because he is incapable not only of being everywhere at the same time but also of processing at the same time all the information about the existence of God concerning every place in the universe.

Even all the atheists in all the world working together cannot prove that God does not exist because they cannot be everywhere in the universe at the same time and they cannot know everything about every place in the universe at the same time.

Atheism, therefore, is not based on fact or science. It is not sound thinking. Atheism is based on faith in the nonexistence of God because the atheist cannot know that there is no God, and he cannot prove that there is no God. He can only choose to believe that there is no God.

Intellectually honest people who consider themselves to be sound thinkers should reject atheism because what atheists assert is something that they do not know objectively that it is true, and they cannot prove objectively that it is true. No one should be an atheist!

Probably every believer who has been a believer for any length of time has encountered teaching about the main point or big idea of the following passage:

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Most have been taught that this passage is “about” the Great Commission that Jesus gave to His apostles. Probably no one has ever thought or said that the main point or big idea of this passage is to teach us about the Holy Spirit.

A careful examination of nearly every sound work on systematic theology or NT theology would likely reveal, however, that this is an important passage for one’s formulating a proper understanding of what the Scripture teaches us about pneumatology. Any person who does not treat what this passage reveals about the Spirit in formulating their theology of the Spirit is a person who does not profit fully from revelation that God has intended him to profit from theologically.

As this brief but clear example shows, it is a faulty approach to hermeneutics and exegesis to insist that the main point/big idea of a passage is all that matters. Truth that God has revealed about a subject in a passage that does not have that subject as its main point or big idea is nonetheless truth that God wants us to profit from fully.

In one of his attempts to tempt Christ to sin, the devil made a remarkable declaration concerning his authority over all the kingdoms of the world:

Luke 4:5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

Making this statement, the devil proclaimed that he had authority over all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He also made known that authority was delivered to him at some prior point and that he could give it to whomever he willed to give it.

When, why, and how was power over all the kingdoms of the world and their glory delivered over to the devil?

How should this truth illumine our understanding of world affairs?

Most believers know that Psalm 119 has more verses than any other chapter in the Bible. Many also know that Psalm 117 has the fewest.

The following tables show the top 10 chapters in the Bible by number of verses, both the chapters with the most verses and the chapters with the fewest. For chapters that have the same number of verses, the chapter with more words is ranked higher in the following table.

Most Verses Per Chapter
Chapter Verses Words Words/Verse
1 Ps 119 176 2445 13.89
2 Num 7 89 1939 21.79
3 1 Chr 6 81 1341 16.56
4 Lk 1 80 1583 19.79
5 Matt 26 75 1625 21.67
6 Neh 7 73 1176 16.11
7 Mk 14 72 1595 22.15
8 Ps 78 72 1228 17.06
9 Jn 6 71 1506 21.21
10 Lk 22 71 1396 19.66

 

In the following table, many chapters have the same number of verses. These chapters are ranked with the chapters having the fewest words being ranked higher than those with more words.

Fewest Verses Per Chapter
Chapter Verses Words Words/Verse
1 Ps 117 2 33 16.50
2 Ps 134 3 48 16.00
3 Ps 131 3 66 22.00
4 Ps 133 3 75 25.00
5 Est 10 3 93 31.00
6 Ps 123 4 98 24.50
7 Ps 100 5 90 18.00
8 Ps 93 5 92 18.40
9 Ps 15 5 103 20.60
10 Ps 125 5 112 22.40

Exodus 5:1 reveals what Moses and Aaron said to Pharaoh when they first met with him:

Exodus 5:1 And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.

When, however, we examine all the preceding statements in Exodus 3-4 about what God told them to say to Pharaoh, we do not find anything about His telling them to tell Pharaoh about their celebrating a feast to the Lord in the wilderness:

Exodus 3:18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.

Exodus 4:22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: 23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

How, then, do we explain what Moses and Aaron said to Pharaoh about celebrating a feast to Him in the wilderness?

Any song that God has inspired to be in Scripture is a perfect song. Scripture reveals that God has provided us with a song that is a perfect love song!

“A Song of Loves”

The Spirit inspired Psalm 45 to begin with an explicit statement that it is a love song:

Psalm 45:1 <To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil, A Song of loves.> My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

From this divine love song, we learn many striking lessons that God intends us to profit from greatly. This post will only treat a few selected truths from the song. The post is by no mean an exhaustive treatment of the valuable lessons that this song provides.

The Subject of This Perfect Love Song

From the beginning of the song, we learn that the subject of this perfect love song is a king (Ps. 45:1). New Testament use of Psalm 45:6-7 teaches us that the ultimate Subject of this perfect love song is God’s own anointed King, the divine Messiah:

Psalm 45:6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. 7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Hebrews 1:8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Fearful Activity Revealed in This Perfect Love Song

Second, the Spirit teaches us that this divine King is a mighty Warrior (Ps. 45:3-4) who will engage in fearful activity:

Psalm 45:5 Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.

Strikingly, this perfect love song speaks explicitly of the King’s destroying His enemies in battle! We thus learn that far from being inappropriate content in a love song, fearful activity by the divine King as the Messianic Judge who judges evil people is fitting content to include in such a song!

The Glorious Character of the Subject of This Perfect Love Song

Third, this perfect love song highlights two key aspects of the glorious character of its Subject (Ps. 45:7). The first key aspect of the glorious character of the King is that He loves righteousness. The Spirit thus teaches us that extolling someone who loves what is right and loves doing right is fitting content for a perfect love song.

The second key aspect of the glorious character of the King is that He hates wickedness. Saying this, the Spirit teaches us that extolling someone who hates what is wicked and hates evildoing is also fitting content for a perfect love song.

Application

Psalm 45 is a perfect love song because God inspired it to be in Scripture. The lessons treated above teach us that speaking about the Messianic Judge as the divine King who renders divine judgment on wicked people is fitting content for a perfect love song!

Moreover, extolling the glorious character of the One who loves righteousness and hates wickedness is fitting content for a perfect love song!

We must sing songs of love that include this glorious content.

Sing to God the King!

January 25, 2020

At least six passages in Scripture highlight singing to God because He is the King.

Psalm 22

Psalm 22:21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

Psalm 22:22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

Psalm 22:23 Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.

Psalm 22:24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

Psalm 22:25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.

Psalm 22:26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.

Psalm 22:27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

Psalm 22:28 For the kingdom is the LORD’S: and he is the governor among the nations.

Psalm 47

Psalm 47:1 <To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.> O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.

Psalm 47:2 For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.

Psalm 47:3 He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet.

Psalm 47:4 He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.

Psalm 47:5 God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.

Psalm 47:6 Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.

Psalm 47:7 For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.

Psalm 47:8 God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.

Psalm 68

Psalm 68:24 They have seen thy goings, O God; even the goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary.

Psalm 68:25 The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; among them were the damsels playing with timbrels.

Psalm 68:26 Bless ye God in the congregations, even the Lord, from the fountain of Israel.

Psalm 95

Psalm 95:1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.

Psalm 95:2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

Psalm 95:3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Psalm 98

Psalm 98:1 <A Psalm.> O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.

Psalm 98:2 The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.

Psalm 98:3 He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Psalm 98:4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

Psalm 98:5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.

Psalm 98:6 With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.

Revelation 15

Revelation 15:1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

Revelation 15:2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

Revelation 15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

Revelation 15:4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.

Application

Only by meditating much on these passages will we as Christians fully have the right mindset about singing in worship of our God who is the great King!