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A favourite Psalm.
Who has got a favourite Psalm?
[P] Psalm 1 is a favourite of John’s.
I remember taking Sunday school, the lesson was set on introducing the Psalms.
I asked my class of 7-year olds if anyone had a favourite Psalm; expecting a blank response.
A little girl said, “Yes, Psalm 90.
I love it because it is so depressing.”
Well, that knocked the wind out of my sails.
A lot of us have a Psalm that is especially precious to us.
I do!
And I am the last one you would expect to; I mean, me and poetry don’t get on.
If I am reading a book and it has a few lines in verse; my eyes sort of glaze over and I skip over to where the prose resumes.
Some people really appreciate poetry – Robin writes songs, Dion crafts poems; but poetry just ain’t my thing.
So, it shouldn’t be me talking about a Psalm!
But, like most of you, I have a favourite Psalm.
In fact, there are several: Psalm 73: “Whom have I in heaven besides Thee?
And there is none upon the earth that I desire besides Thee ….
God is the strength of my life and my portion forever!” Psalm 27 was given to me at my baptism: “יהוה is my light and my salvation, whom then shall I fear?
One thing have I desired of יהוה and that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of יהוה all the days of my life.
To behold the beauty of יהוה and to enquire in His temple.”
Your favourite Psalm probably reveals something about you and your relationship with God.
But the very first Psalm that was “mine” was Psalm 16; and it is still a favourite of mine.
I was a little nipper at the time; and I was crook.
Mum wasn’t home – I think she was out with Loraine at Girls’ Rally.
So, Dad was left at home looking after a sick child.
Being a nurse is not really his gifting!
So, how do you console a miserable, sick, little boy – maybe I was 6 or 7. Do you give him a cuddle, sing him a song?; no, you preach him a sermon!
So, Dad shared Psalm 16 with me!
And it became “mine”!
It was my special Psalm.
There was only one Psalm for me.
In fact, back in those days Dad a bit of a reputation for preaching on the Psalms.
He would be invited to churches and I would go along with him.
This was some years later, and Dad was preaching at Bryndwr Baptist.
He got up and asked everyone to turn to the most beloved Psalm.
And, of course, all the congregation turned to …. Where?
Psalm 23! Well, all the congregation except one.
Paul turned to Psalm 16! Psalm 23? What’s that!
But without any question, Psalm 23 is by far the most well-known, most beloved, most favourite Psalm.
Even non-believers know it.
The Sunday School is learning it.
But it hasn’t always been so.
In New Testament times there were 5 top favourite Psalms that outstripped all others in popularity: [P] – that is the number of times they are either quoted or alluded to in the New Testament.
Psalm 2; Psalm 69, Psalm 118; and the two most popular: Psalms 22 and Psalm 110, both alluded to 22 times in the New Testament; Psalm 23 didn’t figure in the popularity stakes.
Why were these Psalms so popular?
Well, Psalm 22 accurately prophesied Jesus’ crucifixion.
But Psalm 110 [P] is quoted more than any other.
The New Testament establishes no less than 10 different truths from just the first verse of this Psalm.
One other thing about this Psalm: it is universally considered to be Messianic – be you Jew or Gentile, Christian or not; today, throughout rabbinic history, in Jesus’ day, in fact Jesus Himself did.
Everyone agrees (and that doesn’t happen often) that this Psalm is talking about the Messiah.
You may recall that last time I spoke I said that I had spent too much time in the Old Testament; and here I am in the Psalms.
Well, it is my intention to do a little series looking at the New Testament use of this Psalm 110.
But before we look at the New Testament interpretation and commentary; we ought to look at the Psalm itself.
So, today is just an introduction to this beloved, favourite Psalm.
Everyone knows that Psalms are poetry; and the thing about poetry is that it doesn’t just come out and say something – it hints!
That may be one reason why I don’t take to it – I mean, if you want to say something just come out and say it!
Don’t mess around.
You know like Nathaniel: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
A man without guile – plain speaking what you mean.
But poetry alludes to stuff, your mental processing has to fill in the substance; so that there is more in the poem than a plain surface reading.
So, you are not going to get all that is in this Psalm at one reading in church.
You need to go home and read and read and read and read it.
Meditate upon it – that’s your homework.
Get a feel for the Psalm, absorb it, let its allusions direct the way your thoughts run.
There is a danger, that in analysing poetry – we can kill it.
It is a bit like explaining a joke – it is no longer funny.
We used to have to read books for English at school.
Sometimes they weren’t bad; but by the time you had analysed them, noted the themes, seen the symbolism, done character studies, detected the style – you had destroyed it.
I don’t want to analyse this Psalm to pieces; what I’m going to do is point out a few allusions that I see in the Psalm as a key; you know the ignition key that gets the car started.
Here a few seed points that are in the Psalm that you can pursue in your meditation.
But first let’s read the Psalm: [P]
Psalm 110 (NASB95)
A Psalm of David.
1 יהוה says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
2 יהוה will stretch forth Your strong sceptre from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.”
3 Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew.
4 יהוה has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”
5 The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.
6 He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men over a broad country.
7 He will drink from the brook by the wayside; Therefore He will lift up His head.
What are a few things that this Psalm is talking about?
1. Exaltation: [P] First of all there is “exaltation” – this is something that יהוה decrees [P] “יהוה said …” God Himself is going to exalt.
What does He decree?
[P] “Sit at My right hand” – that is the place of honour.
And יהוה is supreme!
So, that is being told to sit in the place of highest honour.
This is exaltation to the highest place!
Then it says: [P] “יהוה will stretch forth …” this is יהוה placing in rulership (it’s “His sceptre”).
God is placing in authority over all.
God is exalting.
It says: [P] “יהוה has sworn and will not change His mind” – He is exalting by His own full authority, with absolute certainty into a position of honour: as spiritual head.
It says [P] “Lift up His head” – it is speaking of exaltation, placing high above others.
2. Rule [P] Secondly there is “rule” – [P] “Your strong sceptre from Zion” – a king has a sceptre, it is a symbol of his authority, his rule.
יהוה is going to place His enemies [P] “under His feet as a footstool” – being placed under His feet, means in submission.
He is King ruling over them.
It says: [P] “Rule in the midst of your enemies” – it is explicit: “Rule” being King, ruling over those in opposition to you.
3. Opposition [P] And opposition there is! Twice it speaks of “enemies”: [P] “enemies as a footstool”; and [P] “in the midst of Your enemies”.
Later on, it mentions [P] “shattering kings” – why were the kings shattered?
– because they rose in opposition to the King.
But although there is opposition to the rule of the One who יהוה exalted; there is also:
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