Lecture 8 - Psalm 100

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Lesson

Exegesis and exposition of Psalm 100. Also some introductory remarks and a summary of Genesis 1. 

08 Wednesday 3

Outline

I. Cause for Praise

A. Light Overcomes Darkness in Pagan Myths

B. God Created the Light, for God is Light

C. Mount Zion and Mount Zaphon

II. A Psalm for Giving Grateful Praise (Psalm 100)

A. Outline and Structure

B. Exposition

1. Call to Praise

2. Cause for Praise

Transcription

Course: Psalms

Lecture 8: Psalm 100

I. Cause for Praise (from the previous lecture)

A. Light Overcomes Darkness in Pagan Myths

We want to spend some time on the cause for praise. We consider the doxological understanding where Psalms become theology to us in a doxological way which I think is the best way to learn theology. We ended in the songs of praise where they used pagan myths to show that God is so much greater in picturing his creation and overcoming the forces of chaos. Genesis 1:1 is a summary statement where it says that, ‘in the beginning God created the heavens and earth.’ This is a collocation which means the entire organized universe. Now the earth had been in chaos, the exact opposite of the summary statement. It was without form and void and darkness was over the face of the deep. So it was a mess. It was uninhabitable and there was darkness on the face of this chaotic situation. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. This could mean the Spirit of God or the wind of God was hovering over the face of the waters. In the recreation involving Noah in Genesis 8 after the chaos returned in the flood and the wind was over the face of the water. Then God steps in and creates the situation. The poets dramatize it from the pagan myths that there was this darkness, an abyss of water and God brought out of it wonderful life and he triumphed over the darkness. Darkness has no power and we see that light will overcome darkness. You can have a dark room and a light room; when you open the door, the dark room gets lighter; but the light room doesn’t get any darker.

B. God Created the Light, for God is Light

The only thing that is real is the light and it overcomes any darkness and so God is light and without God there is no light. To me, there is some mystery here. But it is picturing God overcoming the darkness and chaos. These pagan myths picture it to be God battling against this Rahab, or the sea or the Leviathan. In Psalm 93, the seas have lifted up. When God created, he created light but he didn’t remove the darkness and so you have light and dark together. When God overcame the sea with the land, he didn’t remove the sea; he kept the sea with the land. Originally it was all sea and all darkness; now it is a mixture and you have light and dark and you have sea and land. In the coming Eschaton John says that there will be no more sea; you see that the chaos will be totally removed, it will be gone. There will only be light and no darkness. There will be no sea and no darkness. This is the movement of history; we start with sea and darkness; we are at an in-between time which represents a tension between the two. But finally life overcomes death. So these poems are reflecting that struggle in terms of the pagan myth, but it is purely a literary illusion. They had confidence in Scripture to include this in Psalms as they knew there were no other gods.

C. Mount Zion and Mount Zaphon

In regards to the Songs of Zion, there is just one point, their major god, Baal; his mountain was Zaphon and that is where he lived. Baal dwells on Mt Zaphon which is part of Syria today, the highest mountain in the area. It was a holy place, that is, it was set apart for a deity. Notice that the opposite of holy is profane which comes from Latin meaning before and fane means temple. So the profane is what is in front of the temple, outside of the temple. The holly is the temple where God dwells and where a holly people dwell with God to be like God that is for Mount Zion. But it was on Mount Zaphon that the gods met and dwelt. This comes out of Ugaritic theology. And of course in Israel, it is Mount Zion where God dwelt because God chose it for his city. That is what we mean by holy in these contexts; it is the setting apart to God. These are terms used for Zaphon where their god Baal dwelt, not that he is holly. His wife was Nod, she was filled with sex and violence; she is the epitome of sex and violence. In one of the battles, she slaughters her victims and waded in their gore. The heads of her enemies are bracelets around her hands. She was a prostitute, a very unfaithful woman and this was their goddess. She is in total contrast to the idea of Zaphon being a holy place in this kind of a context.

In the description of Mount Zion; we start off by saying, great is the Lord and most worthy of praise in the city of our God, his holy Mountain. You must understand that Yahweh is altogether different than Baal. Beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth; like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. Zaphon is alluding to the Canaanite mountain and all that the Canaanite mountain was a place of Baal and their worship. Understanding Mount Zaphon helps us to understand Mount Zion better.

II. A Psalm for Giving Grateful Praise (Psalm 100)

1 Shout to I AM, all the earth!

2 Serve I AM with rejoicing! Come before him with a joyful shout!

3 Know that I AM, he is God! He himself has made us; and indeed, we are his people, and the flock he shepherds.

4 Enter his gates with grateful praise; his court with praise! Give him grateful praise! Bless his Name!

5 For I AM is good; His unfailing love [endures] forever; His reliability, throughout generations.

This is a psalm for giving grateful praise and to be accompanied by a sacrifice. In our morning devotions, we recite this Psalm after our confession of sin and our proclamation of praise. Within the Anglian Church you are focused on the four times of worship a day and you read a different section of Scripture every day. The Anglian Theology in its original form was very holly and wonderful.

A. Outline and Structure

The structure of this psalm interlaces an alternating and a chiastic structure. The alternating structure has two parts or stanzas: a call to praise and a cause for praise in verses 1 – 3 and then another call to praise and a cause of praise for verses 4-5. There are seven imperatives demanding praise and confessing who God creating a chiastic structure. Remember that Hebrew poetry is laced with the chiastic structures. Look at the Following:

A

 

 

Shout to I AM

 

B

 

Serve him.., with joy / shout

 

 

C

Come before him

 

 

X

Know that I AM

 

 

C’

Enter his courts

 

B’

 

Give him grateful praise with praise

A’

 

 

Bless his name

A/A’ is a reference to his name and the joyful shout blesses his name

B/B’ with rejoicing/joyful shout; with grateful praise and possibly serve him is clarified by give him grateful praise.

C/C’ is Chiastically repeated as first word of verse 2a and the first word of 4b

X is the pivot or focus – know that I AM is God and he has made us (Israel). Both notions are introduced with an emphatic ‘he’.

The verb ‘come and enter’ in C/C’ in the exact same word. These two verses match each other, so you would have come before him, see and then enter his courts. In B/B’ shout to his name is equal to bless his name. The major point of the psalm is the X, know that I AM. Note that a chiasm is illustrated in the imagery of a rock hitting the water with waves going out from there. The X is where the rock hits the water and the C/C’, B/B’ and A/A’ are the waves as they spread out in the water. So the focus point is the X where we know that I AM is God! And you know that we (Israel – the seed of Abraham) are his people and the today, the ‘we’ represents his church. So you should know that we are his true people and the medium of blessings of the earth.

B. Exposition

In this exposition, I will try to give you the basic vocabulary of the Psalmist and what these words mean. I am defining critical terms that permeate the Book of Psalms. First, the superscript tells us that it is a psalm and it is a song accompanied with musical instruments as a libretto with stringed instruments. Music affects our emotions and causes us to empathize with the composer and inspires us to action, to enter God’s courts with grateful praise. Paul calls upon the Church to teach and admonish one another through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in our hearts. Music prepares our hearts to hear the Word and understand and accept it. Music will move me to tears as these psalms which are songs to be sung with musical instruments. In regards to grateful praise, you are confessing who God is.

1. Call to Praise

In the call to praise in verses 1-2; It begins with shout to I AM. Praise is to be done with enthusiasm. This word ‘shout’ is a loudness of crying out and its strong emotion can be inferred by the use of rua’. This is like a sound that happens when a home-team scores a goal in a game. So worship should not be like a funeral and everybody should be involved. And we give a shout to I AM. Actually his name is ‘I AM who I AM’. Moses’ question in Hebrew was actually, ‘who is your name’, but when you say ‘what is your name’, it is asking what does it really mean. The answer entailed two things. Jesus referred to himself as ‘I AM’ in the Gospel of John. He said, ‘before Abraham was, I AM’ and that is when they accused him of blaspheme. He identified himself as the eternal God. But he is not only the eternal one who is always the same, but he is continually revealing himself in new acts of salvation. So he is unchanging as the eternal one but his acts of history are constantly revealing him, showing us more about him. For example, it was through the golden calf that he revealed his compassion and long suffering. So in this process, he was making himself known to them in a way that he was becoming clearer to them. For example, we weren’t sure that he was a trinity in the Old Testament; there is evidence of it but it wasn’t clear until the New Testament made it known. For me, the best way to understand the trinity is by way of a triatic cord in music. Through this, I can hear three in one; they are all of the same substance, being equal, but they make a tri-unity and that is how I understand God to some extent. Of this triatic cord, they are all equal and all necessary. Within this understanding, the Father wants to be recognized in the Son; he wants to be known through the name of Jesus. So we worship today in the name of Jesus and that gives glory to the Father.

The idea of ‘all the earth’ refers to the earth not the land of Israel. Earth may be a personification for all terrestrial objects, but it certainly functions as a metonym for the people inhabiting it. What God has done for Israel is for the benefit of every person on Earth. The Psalter is a missionary hymn book, calling upon all people to know and love God for their own good and for his praise. God did not choose Israel to exclude people; he chose Israel to include everyone. In his sovereign grace God chose them at the mediatory kingdom by which he would spread the knowledge of himself in the world. In the second line, ‘serve the LORD with rejoicing!’ There are two ideas in serving the Lord: it entails that you have a master and that your master is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To serve here means that I recognize God as my master. It can also refer to your whole way of life in serving the Lord. It is like Joshua would say, ‘as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’ But in the psalms, it means that you are in the temple with your sacrifice and with your praises and your testimony, you are serving your master. You are working for your master along with other brothers and sisters who labor in prayer as part of your service. As a human being and a mortal being, there are always other things that we allow to guide our lives. These are gods of course and so we have to make a choice to serve Jesus Christ instead of those other gods.

Brueggemann notes that to praise is to reject alternative loyalties and false definitions of reality. Praise is relentlessly polemical; for example, you cannot serve both God and something else. It is a devoted loyalty to God as we offer up in labor and prayer and praise; we serve him as priests in the temple. I think this is what he is saying by serving the Lord which again is part of ‘shout’ to him.

The next part of the line is ‘with rejoicing.’ This denotes gladness and joy with the whole disposition, as indicated by its association with the heart. This is not a restrained, inactive disposition of the psyche, but joy expressing itself spontaneously in an elementary way; in joyful leaping, stamping of the feet and hand clapping, dance, music, and joyful shouts. This is spontaneous like that found at a marriage, a spiritual exuberance. The next part of the psalm says to come before him with a joyful shout. This involves a unique and ubiquitous presence, but no one can enter God’s unique presence in the sanctuary lightly or as a matter of right. Psalm 139 tells us that God is everywhere, but he is uniquely present at the temple and that is where the blessing is; thus his blessing is not universally present. He is present where we are in praise and worship of him. He inhabits the praises of Israel. God is Spirit and is enthroned on our praises. When we come to Jesus Christ, he is uniquely present. When you touch his garments, we are healed by faith. When he touches us we are healed.

2. Cause for Praise

They are to know that I AM is God. The nations have been invited to come before him, but they don’t enter into his gates until they accept that I AM is the God of the universe. You don’t enter into his presence just because there is some kind of deity there. They are to know that he, himself, is God and we are the sheep of his pasture, the mediatory kingdom and you can’t come to God without the mediatory kingdom, you can’t come to God without Jesus Christ and the church. You come to God through the church which is the body of Christ in the world today and you have to know that before you worship and that is the pivot of this psalm, this chiasm. Before entering the temple complex people must confess that I AM alone is God and that Israel is his chosen people. But how do they know this? He is the God who can defeat death and chaos and this was only a foretaste of when Jesus conquered death, himself and rose from the dead. So you can know God from experience as they did or through the resurrection. In Ezekiel they would know God because of prophesies from the prophets. Now normally when a deity lost his temple, the deity was no more, he lost his authority and even dies at that point. So here God is committed to Mount Zion and then the mockers of the Book of Daniel telling them to sing a song of Mount Zion which was in rubble. But then Cyrus, a pagan king rebuilt the temple on Mount Zion. Who could ever have prophesied that? But it was and it was prophesied to confirm our faith in God.

How do we know that today? It is by the testimony of the people and the Word of God. So faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. It is due to the work of the Holy Spirit that when we hear the Gospel, we know it is the truth. As Paul says to the Thessalonians, it came to you as the Word of God as it truly is. It took the Spirit of God to enable them to hear it. And by God’s grace, we found a need for Christ to be our Savior in our hearts and we trusted him and we come to faith. God has sustained his church through the testimony of the Lamb for two thousand years and the willingness of the church to suffer with him. This pivot, I AM is God, emphasizes and focuses on Yahweh and identifies him as God. Elohim signifies the quintessence of a divine nature and eternal power, and the plural emphasizes that he is thoroughly characterized as such. His presence in the heavens scenically depicts his transcendence. Elohim is plural, but not a countable plural. The plural is used differently in Hebrew; it means the quintessence of something.

So God made Abraham part of his family and said to him, ‘I want you to be my partner.’ But what did Jesus say to the Jews who accosted him, ‘you are not Abraham’s seed, you are the seed of the devil.’ Those of Abraham’s seed are people who will live a life of righteousness and teach their families this righteousness. Having adopted Abraham’s family, he promised to make them into a nation; he elected them, he chose them forever and we are grafted into that. This nation is made up of a common people, a common law and land and a common ruler: people, law, place and ruler. Those of Abraham’s offspring will become that nation of God and not that nation has expanded to gentiles. This remains to be physical and spiritual. Their common law included the covenant that was made at Sinai, there in the desert wilderness. Those are the standards by which we live and the changes within the old dispensation he wrote the law on tablets of rock but the new dispensation he writes the law on our hearts. It comes from within where the Spirit has written this law on our hearts. It is something where we depend upon God who gives expression to it. It is the common law that binds us together; it is the Ten Commandments that bind us together. For the Old Testament, land for example is the fourth most frequent word used. In the New Testament, there is not one reference in the Epistles to the land. Christ takes its place in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, land was the place of security but in the New Testament Christ becomes our security. We are now in Christ; Christ is the place where we live and dwell with the ruler being the King of kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. This is our nation and as Peter would say, we are a holy nation. We are a common people, we have a common law, we have a common ruler and we have a common place where we dwell and that is in Christ. We are indeed his people but we see that he uniquely chose Israel to be his people.

Duration

50 min

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