Tuesday, October 20, 2020

87. Psalms 1-41

Psalms 1-41. (Thru the Bible #17) J. Vernon McGee. 1977. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The title in the Hebrew means Praises or Book of Praises.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read probably twenty or so of his commentaries. Most recently Philippians and Colossians. 

I love, love, love the book of Psalms. McGee does too. We are kindred spirits in that. He has some great things to say about the book of Psalms. "It is the only book which contains every experience of a human being. The Psalms run the psychological gamut. Every thought, every impulse, every emotion that sweeps over the soul is recorded in this book. That is the reason, I suppose, that it always speaks to our hearts and finds a responsive chord wherever we turn." and "The Psalms are full of Christ. There is a more complete picture of Him in the Psalms than in the Gospels. The Gospels tell us that He went to the mountain to pray, but the Psalms give us His prayer. The Gospels tell us that He was crucified, but the Psalms tell us what went on in His own heart during the Crucifixion. The Gospels tell us He went back to heaven, but the Psalms begin where the Gospels leave off and show us Christ seated in heaven." and "Christ is the subject of the Psalms. I think He is the object of praise in every one of them. I will not be able to locate Him in all of them, but that does not mean that He is not in each psalm; it only means that Vernon McGee is limited."

This commentary covers the first division of the book of Psalms.

  • My friend, it is one thing to listen to counsel, and good counsel is fine, but certainly not the counsel of the ungodly. We are to walk by faith. Listening to the counsel of the ungodly is not walking by faith. Who are the ungodly? They are the people who just leave God out. There is no fear of God before their eyes. They live as though God does not exist. Around us today are multitudes of people like this. They get up in the morning, never turn to God in prayer, never thank Him for the food they eat or for life or health. They just keep moving right along, living it up. They are ungodly—they just leave God out.
  • The delight of God’s man is in the law of the Lord. In other words, he finds joy in the Word of God. I wish I could get the message over to folk that the Bible is a thrilling Book. It’s not a burden; it’s not boring. It is real delight to read and study the Word of God. Blessed is the man—happy is the man—whose delight is in the law of the Lord.
  • My friend, God has no plan or program by which you are to grow and develop as a believer apart from His Word. You can become as busy as a termite in your church (and possibly with the same effect as a termite), but you won’t grow by means of activity. You will grow by meditating upon the Word of God—that is, by going over it again and again in your thinking until it becomes a part of your life. This is the practice of the happy man.
  • The primary business of a Christian is not soul-winning, but getting out the Word of God, my friend. It “bringeth forth his fruit in his season.”
  • The Lord Jesus said that He Himself is the sower and that He is sowing seed in the world. Then He said an enemy came in and sowed tares. The servants wanted to go in and pull up the tares. When I entered the ministry that is what I wanted to do. I was the best puller-upper of tares you’ve ever seen. But I soon found out that we’re not called to pull up tares (I sure found that out the hard way!). That is the reason I don’t try to straighten out anybody else. I’m having enough trouble with Vernon McGee, so I don’t worry about the others. He will take care of them. But what He said was that the wheat is growing, the tares are growing, they are both growing together, and He will do the separating. He will take care of that.
  • May I say to you, my friend, the Jesus that the world believes in today doesn’t even exist. He never lived. The Jesus we preach is the Jesus of the Bible, and that is the One against whom there is opposition in the world today. There is a tremendous build-up, a mighty crescendo of opposition against God and against Christ in this day in which we live.
  • It is disturbing as we look at this world in which we are living. In the political world there is confusion. In the moral realm there is corruption. In the spiritual sphere there is compromise and indifference. And in the social sphere there is comfort. This affluent society never had it so easy, and their goal is to make it easier. We are living in that kind of a day. It is disturbing, and I’ll be honest with you, I do worry about it a little.
  • Today I live in a world where every man is tooting his own little horn. Every little group wants to be heard. Everybody wants to tell you what he thinks. Everybody is playing his own little fiddle, and I want to tell you, it’s a medley of discord. Everything is out of tune. But one of these days the spotlight is going on, and the Lord Jesus Christ will come. When He comes to this universe, He is going to lift His scepter, and everything that is out of tune with Him is going to be removed.
  • The comfort given in these psalms is for all of God’s children. There are three ways to look at these psalms. The primary interpretation, of course, concerns the personal experience of David. Then there is a direct application to the godly remnant in the nation of Israel during the Great Tribulation. There is also an application to God’s people everywhere at any time in the history of the world. If we look at the psalms from this point of view, they will become more meaningful to us.
  • Only mercy can save us. We are told over and over again in the New Testament that God is rich in mercy. He has had to use a lot of His mercy on me, but He has some left over for you. He has plenty of mercy, and we certainly need it.
  • I feel that before a man preaches on hell he ought to search his own heart to make sure that the subject affects him—that his heart is broken because men are lost.
  • May I say to you, not only should there be sermons on hell, but the right kind of men should preach them. He is the One who declares what is right. If you don’t think so, you are wrong. That is just the way it is. It is as simple as that. Someone has to make the rules.
  • Do you want to know who the wicked are as you look around the world? They are those who are filled with pride, the “great” of the earth, who have no place for God in their lives. Also they do a great deal of boasting. I don’t know how you feel, but I am not impressed by politicians and world leaders who are always boasting that they will solve the problems of the world.
  • Frankly, I do not like this distinction that I hear today that, “God loves the sinner, but He hates the sin.” God has loved you so much that He gave His Son to die for you; but if you persist in your sin and continue in that sin, you are the enemy of God. And God is your enemy. God wants to save you, and He will save you if you turn to Him and forsake your iniquity. Until then, may I say, God is not a lovey-dovey, sentimental, old gentleman from Georgia.
  • Today the enemy huffs and puffs like the wolf did in the story of the three little pigs. Two little pigs lost their homes because the big bad wolf blew them down. But the last little pig had a house that stood up under the huffing and puffing. The story of the three little pigs illustrates what David is saying here. God says, “I will set him in safety at whom they puff. I will hide him in the clefts of the rocks. I will put him in a place of safety.”
  • My friend, wherever you are and whoever you are and however you are, you can still sing praises to God.
  • We need to be full of life and joy all of the time. I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons [Ps. 16:7]. What do you think about at night when you cannot sleep? The psalmist thought about the Lord.
  • I don’t know about you, but I am not asking for justice from God; I am asking for mercy. What most of us need from Him is mercy.
  • He is our high tower. A high tower is also a good place for protection and a good place to get a vision and a perspective of life. Many of us need to go to the high tower.
  • Oh, that there might be praise in your mouth and mine, in your life and mine, in your heart and mine, toward our God! Praise to God. “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so” (Ps. 107:1–2). If the redeemed do not say the Lord is good, nobody else in the world will. The redeemed ought to say so. We need some “say-so” Christians.
  • Whatever God does is right. This is a tremendous section. We ought to learn to love all of the Word of God—all of it. Several people have written to me because they think I am opposed to the Ten Commandments. Why, the Ten Commandments are wonderful; I am not opposed to them. I am opposed to Vernon McGee—he can’t keep them. If you can keep them, then you can ask God to move over; and you can sit beside Him because you have made it on your own. But God says you cannot keep them, and I agree with Him. He told me I would not make it on my own, and I agree with Him. I have to come as a sinner to God.
  • I can give excuses, but God won’t accept them. God says that you cannot understand your errors. Just take His word for it that you are a sinner.
  • When we come to Psalm 22 I feel that we are standing on holy ground, and we should take off our spiritual shoes. This psalm is called the Psalm of the Cross. It is so named because it describes more accurately and minutely the crucifixion of Christ than does any other portion of the Word of God. It corresponds, of course, to the twenty-second chapter of Genesis and the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah.
  • Why was He forsaken of God? Because on the cross in those last three hours, in the impenetrable darkness, He was made sin.
  • Psalm 23, which is so popular, would be meaningless without Psalm 22, which leads me to say that we have a trilogy or triptych of psalms that belong together. They are Psalms 22, 23, and 24, and they are called the shepherd psalms. To put it succinctly, in Psalm 22 we see the cross, in Psalm 23 the crook (the Shepherd’s crook), and in Psalm 24 the crown (the King’s crown). In Psalm 22 Christ is the Savior, in Psalm 23 He is the Satisfier; in Psalm 24 He is the Sovereign. In Psalm 22 He is the foundation; in Psalm 23 He is the manifestation; in Psalm 24 He is the expectation. In Psalm 22 He dies; in Psalm 23 He is living; in Psalm 24 He is coming. Psalm 22 speaks of the past; Psalm 23 speaks of the present; and Psalm 24 speaks of the future. In Psalm 22 He gives His life for the sheep; in Psalm 23 He gives His love to the sheep; in Psalm 24 He gives us light when He shall appear. What a wonderful picture we have of Christ in these three psalms!
  • This psalm begins by saying, “The LORD is my shepherd.” By what authority do you say my shepherd? Is this psalm for everybody? I don’t think so. Since Psalms 22, 23, and 24 go together and tell one story, you have to know the Lord Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep before you can know Him as the Great Shepherd. You must know the Shepherd of Psalm 22 before you can come to Psalm 23 and say, “The LORD is my shepherd.”
  • The psalmist speaks not only of the kindnesses of God but also of His loving kindnesses. It is difficult for me to distinguish between the two, but I think what a little girl once said in Sunday school is a good definition. She said, “When you ask your Mother for a piece of bread with butter on it, and she gives it to you, that is kindness. But when she puts jam on it without you asking her, that is loving kindness.”
  • David had whittled his life down to one point: “One thing have I desired of the LORD.” Also Paul did that with his life. He said, “… but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13–14).
  • God can strengthen and enable us to go through the storms of life and know what peace is afterward. The storm with all of its fury may lash across the land, but Jehovah is still in control. In every storm of life He is in control, and He will bless His people with peace.
  • There are two things you should remember: the storm will end, and the Lord will see you through it.
  • Friend, you will find a psalm that fits you. I believe that every person can find a psalm that will be just his size.
  • Most of the psalms are very unfamiliar; yet they comprise one of the richest portions of God’s Word. My feeling is that if proper emphasis were given in this section, it would give a different perspective to Scripture, especially relative to God’s purposes in the nation Israel.
  • Sin required a penalty; and, if the sinner did not pay it, someone else would have to pay it. God has a plan, and He can save sinners because Someone else has paid the penalty for sin. That Person is His Son, Jesus Christ. 
  • The Savior, Jesus Christ, is the strong Rock upon which we can rest. I am reminded of the little Scottish lady who was talking about her salvation and her assurance of it: “There are times when I am frightened and I tremble on the Rock, but the Rock never trembles under me.” It is a strong Rock.
  • “My times are in thy hand”—and those are crucified hands. I can see my sin in His hands. And they are the tender hands of a Shepherd. He picked up a lost sheep and put it on His shoulders. My care and protection are in those hands. Some future day He is coming with blessing, and those hands will bless. I rejoice that my times are in His hands.
  • When you are saturated with this portion of God’s Word, it not only will bring comfort to your heart, it will solve 99.4 percent of the problems of the church. Oh, that it might become meaningful to you personally and be translated into shoe leather! This is a rich area of the Word of God.
  • if you think God is not going to take vengeance on evildoers, you are mistaken. He will do it without being vindictive. He will do it in justice and in righteousness and in holiness.
  • I think that one of the things the lost will have to live with throughout eternity is an old nature that he is going to learn to hate. That is the thing that will make his own little hell on the inside of his skin!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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