Wednesday, November 18, 2020

93. Psalms 42-89 (Thru the Bible #18)

Psalms 42-89 (Thru the Bible #18) J. Vernon McGee. 1997 (really earlier). 192 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Psalms 42–72 comprise the Exodus section. As in the Book of Exodus, we will see God’s people in a strange land, a suffering people away from the Land of Promise. The heel of a dictator is on them.

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 First and Second Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

McGee loves/loved the book of Psalms. He loved it while he was on earth and I am sure he is still loving it up in heaven. The book of Psalms is traditionally arranged in five books. McGee associates each section or book of Psalm with a book of the law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This is a completely novel concept to me. But I'm open to the insights he gives in his commentary.

In this book, he will focus on the "Exodus" (Psalms 42-72) and "Leviticus" (Psalms 73-89) sections of the Book of Psalms. 


  • My friend, man is alienated from God; he needs more than the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments show us that we are sinners, and we are in rebellion against God. We have no desire or capacity for Him. We need, therefore, to be born again. We need to be brought into the family of God and to the place where we can say, not just as a verse in Scripture but from our hearts, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.”
  • I don’t know if you have ever prayed this prayer or not, but I have said, “O God, don’t let a dictator arise in the United States.” There is grave danger of that. We need to ask God to deliver us from deceitful and unjust men. I certainly don’t want him ruling over me, and we have had quite a few like that in our history. I am afraid the condition of our nation is due to the leadership and internal problems.
  • Today we are to pray for those who deceitfully use us; we are told even to love our enemies. That is a very difficult thing to do, but we can turn our enemies over to the Lord. We are not to avenge ourselves because the Lord says, “… Vengeance is mine; I will repay …” (Rom. 12:19).
  • I think we ought to be realistic, not idealistic. He will have to come in power and wrath against a world that is in rebellion against Him.
  • Notice, the Lord is riding to victory, and here are the three planks of His platform: truth, meekness, and righteousness. Do you know of any candidate today who uses these three planks in his platform? The candidates don’t sound meek to me, and I wonder about the truth of their statements, and righteousness—well, the whole motive is to get elected, not to do right.
  • How this poor nation needs a candidate who will speak truth, who exhibits a little meekness, and who goes all-out for righteousness. These are eternal principles of our Lord’s kingdom. No president, leader, dictator, or king has ever come to power on this platform in the history of this world.
  • “If you wish to astonish the whole world, tell the truth.” That is the way our Lord is coming to power—it will be startling.
  • My friend, believers should be praising God—not complaining! At Christmastime we sing the song, “Joy to the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King.” That is not a Christmas hymn at all; it refers to Christ’s second coming and should not be relegated to a seasonal section of our hymbook.
  • We are to leave the world. We are not to love the world. We have been saved out of it. We are to cling to the Lord.
  • [Ps. 46:1–3]. This is a very wonderful promise. Someone may challenge it and ask, “But how do you know it is true?” Well, it is true because the Bible says so. But it is more than theory with me. I have tried it and found it to be true.
  • Everyone has trouble, but God’s people find God sufficient in time of trouble. Psalm 46 was Martin Luther’s favorite psalm. When he wrote that great Reformation hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” he probably had this in mind. God is our refuge, and our strength, and a very present help when we are in trouble. Men down through the ages have found this to be true.
  • “Be still, and know that I am God.” With the knowledge of this blessed truth we can be calm in time of trouble. There are storms blowing outside today. We are living in a mean old world, a wicked world. Tremendous changes are taking place.
  • Sin is always complicated. It never is simple. And there are several words that David uses to describe his sin. In the Scriptures God uses many more words than this to describe sin, by the way. Sin is that which is complicated; it is goodness that is simple.
  • There are questionable areas on which the Bible is silent, I grant you, but there is also clear-cut black and clear-cut white.
  • There are people who think they are all right, but they are not sensitive to sin. They are like the man in the far North who, as he got colder, wanted to rest. He felt very comfortable sitting down. But those with him knew what was happening to him—he was freezing to death. They wouldn’t let him sit down but kept him moving so he would not die. Today there are many sitting in our churches so cold and so comfortable that they do not realize that in God’s sight they are sinners.
  • Every time you find forgiveness in the New Testament, the blood of Christ is close by. God never forgives sin apart from the death of Christ. Never. Never. God is not forgiving sin because He is big-hearted. He forgives because His Son paid the penalty. And now with open arms He can say to you, “I can extend mercy to you because My Son died for you.” Oh, David knew the way into the heart of God. David says, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” It is the application of the death of Christ to the life.
  • David said. “Create in me a new heart,” and the word create means “out of nothing.” In other words, there was nothing in David’s heart that God could use. He was not asking for renovation or reformation. He was asking for something new. Sometimes we hear the invitation, “Give God your heart.” May I ask you, “What do you think God wants with that old dirty, filthy heart of yours?” He doesn’t want it. God is not asking anybody to give Him his heart. He wants to give you a new one. That’s what He wants to do.
  • We think we are all right. My friend, God cannot clear the guilty, and He says you and I are guilty before Him. The only way he could save you and me is to give His Son to die. For the worst sinner in the world that is all that is needed. And this is the way you and I are saved also.
  • When was the last time you wept over your sins? When was the last time you cried out in the night because of your failures? Thank God, there is forgiveness with Him. But there needs to be confession on our part.
  • “My tears have been put into thy bottle.” A note in The New Scofield Bible concerning this subject says, “Sometimes, in olden days in the East, mourners would catch their tears in bottles (water skins) and place them at the tombs of their loved ones”—to show how much they had grieved. Let me add to that something John Bunyan, the tinker of Bedford, said, “God preserves our tears in a bottle, so that He can wipe them away.” When I read that, I wished I had cried more. We need to weep more. Matthew Henry said, “The tears of God’s persecuted people are bottled up, and sealed among God’s treasures.”
  • There are so few people who are praising His Word that I am going to try to make up for them.
  • I want God to be merciful to me. I don’t want Him to be just with me and righteous. If He is, I am going to get a whipping. I want Him to be merciful and gracious to me. He is that kind of a God—rich in mercy. He has enough for me—and I am going to require a lot of it—but there will be enough for you also.
  • All many of us do is turn in to the Lord a grocery list of the things we want. We ask Him to take them down off the shelf and give them to us so we won’t have to go through the checkout stand and pay for them. I think that attitude has killed prayer today. I believe in the organization, the mechanics, and the arrangement of prayer, but I also believe prayer should come from the heart. You seldom hear that deep heart cry in prayer any more, but you will find it in David’s prayer.
  • What a comforting picture of God! He is a shelter from storms. He is a strong tower to protect us from our enemies.
  • I once had a little card sent to me bearing a message that seemed rather important, so I kept it. Here it is: “True prayer is the Holy Spirit speaking in the believer, through the Son, to the Father.” That is prayer; it is real prayer. “My expectation is from him.”
  • My friend, meditating upon God’s goodness is a lot better than counting sheep!
  • “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” That is the purpose of man on earth. Why do you and I exist? Are we here only “to eat the meat and fish and leave behind an empty dish”? Is that all man is supposed to do? No, man is to glorify God. We glorify Him when we get His Word out. We glorify Him when we preach the gospel. We glorify Him when people are saved. But the purpose is to glorify God.
  • Next to Psalm 22 it is the most quoted psalm in the New Testament. Psalm 22 deals with the death of Christ; Psalm 69 deals with the life of Christ. Psalm 22 is number one on the Hit Parade of the New Testament as far as quotes go, and Psalm 69 is second on the Hit Parade. It is quoted in the Gospel of John, in Romans, in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts. 
  • Friend, there are just two kinds of people in the world today. There are lost people and saved people—redeemed sinners and unredeemed sinners. You can distinguish quite easily which group you are in.
  • Because my memory is not very good, and God knew it wouldn’t be. I can imagine that God said, “By the time McGee gets to this point in the Book of Psalms he will have forgotten all about Psalm 40, so I’ll repeat it.”
  • The Book of Leviticus emphasizes two things: that God is holy and that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins—the key words are holiness and sacrifice. These two words will also figure largely in this Leviticus section of the Book of Psalms.
  • You cannot come to Christ and accept Him as your Savior and continue to live as you did before. If you do, I cannot believe that you were saved in the first place. That is the explanation, and I feel that we need to hold to that rather tenaciously in our day.
  • We are in the presence of God on the basis that He has cleaned us up. When we receive Christ, we have forgiveness of sins; we are washed—it is a washing of water by the Word of God.
  • We are not only washed by the blood of Christ, but we are washed by the Word of God. The Word of God sanctifies us, and then we want to walk well-pleasing to Him.
  • Although I don’t have the answer, I know the One who does, and He has told me to walk with Him by faith. He tests me by putting me in the dark. Then I’ll reach out my hand and take His. In His Word He tells me that I can trust Him. Someday He will explain the whys of life to me.
  • The way in which the Devil works is subtle. His attack today is not a frontal one. He attacks the men who stand for the Word.
  • There is not much difference between the Israel side and the Arab side as far as their relationship to God goes, and there is not much difference between that land and the United States. In fact, I think the United States is in the worst spiritual condition, yet we are telling the world how things ought to be done. Because of our own failure I believe our nation should be in sackcloth and ashes.
  • My friend, when you start judging someone, you are acting for God, and you are a god when you have taken that position of judging.
  • I am fearful of our nation with so many godless people seeking office. They know nothing of the background of this country which was founded upon the Word of God; they are not in spiritual tune with the founding of this nation.
  • The big problem in our contemporary society is not so much with the criminal as it is with the judges and the breakdown of law and order. It is strange that the breakdown of law and order has begun with the law profession and not really with the criminal element.
  • Someone has asked the question, “What is worse than going to hell?” The answer given by a great preacher in the South years ago was this: “To go to hell and recognize the voice of your son and ask, ‘Son, what are you doing here?’ and hear him answer, ‘Dad, I followed you!’ ”
  • “Mercy and truth” haven’t met each other in our day. “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other”—they aren’t even on speaking terms today. One of the reasons we cannot have peace in this world is because we do not have righteousness in the world. Things have to be right, my friend, before there can be peace in the world.
  • We need to be taught God’s way and His truth. Our hearts need to be united to fear His name.
  • How much of our lives is not spent in positive evil, but frittered away and lost in countless petty diversions which spoil effectually the positiveness of our testimony for God! How few can sav with the Apostle [Paul], ‘This one thing I do.’ We are on the road—not at least, intentionally off it—but we stop to chase butterflies among the flowers, and make no serious progress.
  • The psalmist’s prayer that preceded it is, “Teach me thy way, O LORD,” which is, I think, the solution for a wandering, divided heart. The first thing that the apostle Paul said after he was converted was, “ … Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? …” (Acts 9:6). The psalmist had the answer, “Teach me thy way, O LORD.” And the Lord has promised to teach His children, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye” (Ps. 32:8).

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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