The Son of David

I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing.
I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.
A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person.
Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.
Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.
He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.
I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD.
– Psalm 101

Jesus is the Son of David. And Jesus is the Son of God. And the Son of Man. And the Christ. Now, David was also the Son of God. It’s a title for the king of Israel, Son of God. Hence it’s use in the enthronement psalm, psalm 2. And Christ means anointed; David was also anointed; David was also a Christ.

And David was the man after God’s own heart. God really liked David, and apparently liked the way he led Israel. He did sin and that grievously, but those were rather isolated incidents; he repented. In general, David cared about what God cared about.

Jesus takes freely of the psalms and applies them to himself. He seems to think they were written about him. But they seem pretty obviously to us to have been written by David about David’s life.

Now, if Jesus is the Son of David and is the inheritor of David’s office, then it would seem to follow that Jesus would face many of the same kinds of situations that David did. He would have David’s same responsibilities. He would have enemies like David had enemies. And if David was the man after God’s own heart, then he cared about the same things that Jesus does. And hence what was true of David is going to be largely also true of Jesus.

Psalm 101 paints a picture of some of David’s daily concerns in the office of King of Israel. Jesus probably has the sames concerns and care. He was sent, after all, not to bring peace but a sword. And it is he who baptizes with fire and whose fan is in his hand, who shall burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. And who shall abide the day of his coming? Or who shall stand when he appeareth? For he shall return as a thief in the night, and woe to that servant who is asleep at his coming.

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Back When We Were Sinners

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
– Romans 5:8

The proof of God’s love to us is that back when we were still sinners, he died for us. Ergo, we no longer are sinners. For by the one man’s obedience, the many have been made righteous, and hence no longer are sinners.

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Be Angry and Sin Not

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?
But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.

Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD.

-Psalm 4 ESV

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do… Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
-Ephesians 4 ESV

So it turns out that when Paul says “be angry and sin not,” he is quoting Psalm 4. Both raise the specter of lies and then exhort to holy living. But where the psalm has “ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent”, Paul wrote “do not let the sun go down on your anger.” These don’t seem like the same thing.

First, a note. It seems that the hebrew — I don’t know a lick of hebrew, I’m just going on footnotes and commentary — that the hebrew word translated in the ESV as ‘be angry’ means more basically ‘tremble’. The KJV and others have “stand in awe” or “tremble” instead of “be angry”. The Septuagint, however, translates it as “be angry”. So it appears that Paul is quoting the Septuagint and that the fundamental idea in the psalm is getting worked up about sin, getting motivated to live a life of repentance. Fear seems like a more natural idea here, but getting angry about sin also works. “Have you been living a lie? Get angry about wasting your life that way and make sure it doesn’t happen anymore.” That kind of idea.

And if the idea being conveyed is about becoming impassioned against sin and corruption, then that makes perfect sense of “give no opportunity to the devil” and suggests a new reading for “let not the sun go down on your anger.” When Paul says that, maybe it is a figure of speech exhorting his readers to not let their anger against their own sin fade.

We talk sometimes about someone’s sun going down, meaning their their moment or power or glory has past. Jeremiah 15:9 uses the phrase this way. It is not clear that Paul means this, but it is an intriguing possibility that makes the passage flow quite nicely.

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The Fast I have Chosen

Wherefore have we fasted, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for man to afflict his soul? to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes? wilt thou call this a fast, an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.
– Isaiah 58

In a country of such abundance as the United States, it is hard to imagine the point of fasting. But if we were less rich, and there wasn’t always enough food to go around, the picture changes pretty fast. If you choose not to eat, that means someone else can eat more. Or if you choose not to spend money on food, then that money can be spent on something else.

And this seems to be the idea in Isaiah 58. God is disgusted with their fasts. Why? Because fasting isn’t about suffering. It isn’t some ascetic thing like self-flagellation. The point isn’t to make things harder for yourself. The point is to give more to others. Abstain from bread so that you can give it to others. Skip a meal so you can bring the pour of the neigborhood into your house and feed them instead. Pour yourself out for the hungry, says God, and then your righteousness will shine forth.

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Flattering Lips

Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue. Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.
-Psalm 5

In the psalms, David is not normally praying against Philistines. The enemies in the psalms are usually faithless Israelites, like Saul; they are men who sacrifice at the temple, swear by Jehovah, but say in their hearts that there is no God. I think that is the case here as well.

The crux of this prayer is that David wants God to listen to him and not to the prayers of his enemies. It starts with, “Give ear to my words, O Lord.” He moves on to note that God will not tolerate evildoers and how the lord abhors those who lie. He then contrasts such people with himself, who worships in fear. They, however, are different. There is no faithfulness in their mouth. They are just wickedness deep down inside. They are a walking tomb. And they are flatterers.

Whom do they flatter? He doesn’t say, but I think he is implying that they flatter God. Don’t listen to them, he seems to be saying. You love righteousness and righteous men. They are wicked and they just speak lies. Their prayers sound nice and all, but they are just flattering you. Don’t listen. Destroy them. Bring them down. They have rebelled against you; don’t tolerate it. But let those who do trust in you rejoice. Bless them and let them rejoice in you. Hear their prayers, defend them against these evildoers.

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Righteous Deeds are Fine Linen

But you, draw near,
sons of the sorceress,
offspring of the adulterer and the loose woman.
Whom are you mocking?
Against whom do you open your mouth wide
and stick out your tongue?
Are you not children of transgression,
the offspring of deceit,
you who burn with lust among the oaks,
under every green tree,
who slaughter your children in the valleys,
under the clefts of the rocks?
Among the smooth stones of the valley is your portion;
they, they, are your lot;
to them you have poured out a drink offering,
you have brought a grain offering.
Shall I relent for these things?
On a high and lofty mountain
you have set your bed,
and there you went up to offer sacrifice.
Behind the door and the doorpost
you have set up your memorial;
for, deserting me, you have uncovered your bed,
you have gone up to it,
you have made it wide;
and you have made a covenant for yourself with them,
you have loved their bed,
you have looked on nakedness.
You journeyed to the king with oil
and multiplied your perfumes;
you sent your envoys far off,
and sent down even to Sheol.
You were wearied with the length of your way,
but you did not say, “It is hopeless”;
you found new life for your strength,
and so you were not faint.

Whom did you dread and fear,
so that you lied,
and did not remember me,
did not lay it to heart?
Have I not held my peace, even for a long time,
and you do not fear me?
I will declare your righteousness and your deeds,
but they will not profit you.
-Isaiah 57

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the LORD?

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
-Isaiah 58

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
-Isaiah 64:6

The issue in Isaih 64 is not that all deeds that anyone ever does are disgusting in God’s sight. It is that the deeds that Israel was doing in Isaiah’s day, the deeds they thought were righteous, were actually disgusting. They prayed daily as if they were a nation that did righteousness, it says, but their “righteousness” was all upside down and backwards. True, they fasted, but they abused those in their trust at the same time. They fasted so they could quarrel and fight. Don’t do that, God said. If they actually did what he wanted — fed the hungry, helped those in need — then their light would have broken forth like noon and their righteousness would have gone before them. But they didn’t. Their “righteous deeds” were a cruel mockery of righteousness.

The proof that human deeds can be righteous and acceptable in God’s sight is in Revelation. When the church descends at the last trump in glory, she is said to be clothed in her own righteous deeds. And they are not rags. They are fine linens.

“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
-Revelation 19:7-8, ESV

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Overlooked Elder Qualifications

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
-James 3:13-18

There are Timothy and Titus of course. Everyone always goes there, and they should. But there is also James. He warns that those who would be teachers are judged by a stricter standard and then sets forth signs that someone is not qualified before describing what a wise man who is fit to teach actually looks like.

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