Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Prayer of Psalm 10 Will Be Answered

“The Lord is King forever and ever;
[unbelieving people-groups] have perished from His land [the place of covenant-communion].
O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear
To vindicate the orphan and the oppressed,
So that man who is of the earth
[unbelieving “tare” among the “wheat”] will no longer cause terror” (Psalm 10:16-18).

Both verses 16 and 18 use the Hebrew word אֶרֶץ, rendered differently in the English (“land” and “earth”). I would suggest that they both be understood as “land” in the theologically-significant sense – the old covenant symbol of the place of God’s fellowship and blessing with His covenant people.

The “nations” (גּוֹי), in the context of “the land” (אֶרֶץ), refers to unbelievers, this idea being an historical echo of the idolatrous people-groups of Canaan as Joshua led the people into the Promised Land.

Psalm 10:1-15 describes the situation to us. Unbelievers are oppressing God’s people, especially the most vulnerable among them.

There are two teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ that, when read together, fit the context of Psalm 10:16-18. I’ve already hinted at the first: “Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, “Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?” And he said to them, “An enemy has done this!” The slaves said to him, “Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?” But he said, “No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn’”’” (Matthew 13:24-30).

The troubling unbelievers in the communion between God and His believing covenant people will eventually be judged – this is the prayer of Psalm 10 and the promise of Jesus.

The second teaching of Jesus which is applicable to our reading of Psalm 10 speaks of “stumbling blocks” of “these little ones” (the vulnerable of God’s covenant people). Both Church discipline in this world and “eternal fire” in the next are promised (again, the answer to the prayer of Psalm 10): “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell. See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost’” (Matthew 18:1-11). Go on to read 18:15-20, where the context for “stumbling blocks” is “the Church” (18:17) – the place of God’s communion and blessing with His covenant people, prefigured by “the land” in the Old Testament (including Psalm 10).

May we be especially sensitive to the vulnerable in the Church, beloved. The Lord of the Church hears their prayers.

Meanwhile, let us faithfully speak the Word in the power of the Spirit (“prophecy”), that the “tares” and “stumbling blocks” in our midst will be “convicted by all…[and be] called to account by all…[and that] the secrets of his heart [will be] disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you” (1 Corinthians 14:24,25). Let us exercise discipline, treating the unrepentant as a "Gentiles and tax collector" (unbelieving objects of evangelism) and the repentant with unceasing forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35) for the glory of the Lord of this field.

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