Psalm 47:4

“He shall choose our inheritance for us,
the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.”

~ Psalm 47:4

I have a particular Bible from which I usually read. It has a couple of markers in it that I move from day to day as I read through the passages. This morning, without much thought, I picked up another Bible, the one I use in devotions with my children. I prayed the Lord to open His Word to me and to give me direction in submitting to His will. I opened the book on the table and began cleaning my reading glasses. When I looked upon the open pages, I found I had opened to Psalm 47. My eyes were drawn to verse four, “He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.”

The whole Psalm is about the sovereign power of God. He is named the “LORD most high” (Psalm 47:2) and “God… the king of all the earth” (Psalm 47:7). His power is seen in execution as He “reigneth over the heathen” and “sitteth upon the throne of his holiness” (Psalm 47:8). What a just power is God’s and how right it is that He sits upon His throne! “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the scepter of thy kingdom is a right scepter” (Psalm 45:6). Surely, “he is greatly exalted” (Psalm 47:9).

The application of this truth in this particular Psalm is wonderful. The directive in the opening is to His people, “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph” (Psalm 47:1). God’s sovereign right and power is given as reason for this command. God’s sovereign reign is here seen as the victory and rejoicing of His people. The promise is, “He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet” (Psalm 47:3). All for which we are to “Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises” (Psalm 47:6).

Now let us turn our attention more to our text. We have noted the power of God and His right to rule “over all the earth” (Psalm 47:2). His reign is not limited, but extends to all the affairs of men. He did not create a universe and merely set it in motion to move arbitrarily. He not only ‘flung the stars out into space,’ He also ‘holds them in their proper place.’ It is God “Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains” (Psalm 147:8). Furthermore, “He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry” (Psalm 147:9).

Can we question God’s intimate involvement in the order of the earth and all life upon it? “He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly. He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold? He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow” (Psalm 147:15-18). Here God is seen directing the forces of nature with His word, not leaving things to their own course. “He causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.” With what part of His creation is He not involved daily? “Behold the fowls of the air for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them” (Matthew 6:26).

With all this in mind, it should seem no problem that “He shall choose our inheritance for us.” In fact, His choice is “the excellency of Jacob whom he loved.” Can we fathom that His choice would not be to our good? “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22).

The “inheritance” here is the gift of God to His people. It is His blessing to choose and bestow this inheritance “as seemeth good unto him” (2 Samuel 15:26). Our text has to do with our submission unto God—our submission to His perfect will. Some hold to God’s sovereignty as an excuse to live recklessly saying, “Whatever will be, will be.” However, it is a very different thing to live by faith and trust Him to “choose our inheritance for us.” The latter is to rely upon Him and relegate all of our choice to His infinite wisdom, to want only what He wants for us and to abhor what He would not allow. O to sing with Fanny Crosby:

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice, And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith, And be closer drawn to Thee.
Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord, By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, And my will be lost in Thine.

David said, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4). I do not believe this verse is saying that we will be given what we want if we delight in Him. I believe we are taught here that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the right desires. In other words, He will cause us to want what He wants in all things. A similar thought is expressed in John 15:7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” The truth here is not that abiding in Christ gives us the power to make our wishes come true, but rather that God’s will shall become our will. This is why we can ask what we will, and it shall be done unto us.

In closing, let us rejoice in God’s almighty power. Let us see the sovereign will of God as our victory in “the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Let us trust Him in all things. Then we can say gladly with the sons of Jacob, “He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved.”

Psalm 97:1

“The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice;
let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.”

~ Psalm 97:1

The Psalmist begins here with the most wonderful proclamation of Divine truth, “The LORD reigneth.” This is a simple, yet profound truth that should cause the earth to “rejoice,” and the isles, or nations, to “be glad thereof.” He begins his psalm thus, and this magnificent truth is a golden thread woven throughout the whole tapestry of millennial beauty. What grander theme could he take up with? In verse five, he refers to “the Lord of the whole earth.” He declares, “For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all the gods” (Psalm 97:9).

It should be the sincere desire of all His children that indeed the earth would “rejoice,” and the “multitude of isles be glad thereof,” because “the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Revelation 19:6). His glory, indeed, is extended over all the earth, for “The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people [peoples or nations] see his glory” (Psalm 97:6). His wondrous creation witnesses to His majesty and likewise, we are constrained to “Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people” (Psalm 96:3). Are we not His creation as well as the heavens? “It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3). Then, should not we also “declare his glory?”

Though the different peoples of the earth have many natural things that point them to the Divine Creator, “how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). The witness of the very heavens and earth do not relieve us of our evangelical duty. Millions do not walk now in the light of His glory or rejoice in His mighty power. They do not know God and do not seek after Him. To these, “Clouds and darkness are round about him” (Psalm 97:2). They might say, “Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud” (Lamentations 3:44).

Unknown multitudes are “scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). They wander the earth in enmity against God and what of their awful fate should they continue in this course? The Psalmist says, “A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about” (Psalm 97:3). The spiritual condition of perishing, unreached peoples should concern us, for “Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols” (Psalm 97:7).

How long shall we continue to cast our “pearls before swine?” How long shall we pray, “O God, send forth laborers, but don’t send me, don’t send my son or my husband?” The Lord said of the Pharisees, “Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte” (Matthew 23:15). However, we can hardly negotiate sidewalk and stoop to declare the glory of God. Let us be even as the prophet Isaiah who said, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

The glory of God ought to be within us “as a burning fire shut up” in our bones so that we cannot forbear speaking it. Elihu testified of old, “I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me. Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles. I will speak, that I may be refreshed: I will open my lips and answer” (Job 32:18-20).

This Psalm concludes very personally, “Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness” (Psalm 97:12). The twelfth verse might be seen as the personal application of the first verse. “Let the earth rejoice,” and “let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.” Also, let us “Rejoice in the LORD.” Praise God! “The LORD reigneth!” Let us seek to promote His glory unto all ends of the earth.

Psalm 86:17

“Shew me a token for good;
that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed:
because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me.”

~ Psalm 86:17

The eighty-sixth Psalm is a prayer of David to God. The tone is set for the Psalm in the first verse, “Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.” He is crying out to God because of his affliction. The distress of David is obvious. This matter of prayer is pressing. He cries, “Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily” (Psalm 86:3).

Though David is in trouble, this is not a plea of desperation without faith. He prays, “In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me” (Psalm 86:7). David declares his faith in verse thirteen, “For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.”

David’s confidence was bolstered here by two reasons. First, he has been delivered in the past from times of trouble. God had shown Himself strong on David’s behalf before, so there was reason to hope that another temporal deliverance would be wrought. Second, David has already been delivered from eternal condemnation. Even if David were not delivered from his present distress by God preserving his life, David would still be delivered ultimately.

As a prayer, there is much in this Psalm for our instruction. For one, when we consider the whole Psalm, we find there is more of the praise of God in it than the trouble of David. This should immediately convict us to the very selfish nature of many of our prayers. David did spread his complaint before God, but he seems almost swept away at times with the worship of God in His various glories. However, we wish to focus our attention upon the conclusion of David’s prayer and glean some good for our soul from it.

David concludes his petition asking God, “Shew me a token for good.” He is asking God for a sign or some sort of visible evidence of God’s mercy toward him. David does not doubt that mercy. He has already said, “For great is thy mercy toward me” (Psalm 86:13). He is seeking a manifestation of that abiding mercy in his present situation.

At one time, Christ rebuked the Jews because they were seeking a sign. He said, “This is an evil generation: they seek a sign” (Luke 11:29). They wished to be healed from some sickness or they wanted to witness some great miracle. Their motives were to receive benefits to themselves and Jesus reproved them. David’s desire was different. He was seeking a sign that God would be glorified and His enemies would be “ashamed.”

David asked for a “token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed.” This request is in accord with the whole reason for David’s prayer. His complaint is voiced in verse fourteen, “O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them.” David’s distress is because of persecution. He rightly recognizes his detractors as the enemies of God, not just David. He said they “have not set thee before them.”

We find reasons for his persecution in verse two. He said, “For I am holy,” or, favored of God. He also said he was “thy servant that trusteth in thee.” The fact that God’s blessings were evident in his life was the reason he was held in contempt. Paul had experienced this same persecution. He wrote to Timothy, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Christians in America today know little of real persecution for “righteousness’ sake.” One reason for this is that perhaps we are not living godly. We have an ungodly self-reliance in this country. We believe in the “American Dream” and our own ability to “make a living.” As a result, the evident tokens of God’s mercy are largely absent from our life. We read here success story after success story of how some poor fellow started out with nothing and with hard work and determination, pulled himself up to the top of the heap. God help us not to bless “the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth” (Psalm 10:3). Our lives ought to be trophies of God’s grace, not testimonies of our own ingenuity. We must repent of our self-reliance and start depending on God.

David gives reason for both his persecution and his request saying, “Because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me.” The word “holpen” carries the thought of surrounding or protecting. David said that his enemies hated him because God covered him. Did not Satan complain to God of His protection of Job? He asked, “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?” (Job 1:10). The wrath of David’s enemies was aggravated by this fact of God’s protection. Just when they thought they had him, some deliverance would be wrought that confounded them. They hated David because God helped and comforted him.

We conclude then, that it is not wrong to ask God for a “token for good” in our lives. In fact, we should seek that God’s hand will be evidently with us every day. I was greatly stirred in the reading of John Warburton’s Mercies of a Covenant God. He would often pray for deliverance that God would be glorified in his life and that he would not be confounded before his enemies. He did not want his life and lack of faith to give cause to the enemies of God to reproach and blaspheme His name. Feeling himself to be poor and needy, he would also ask God to confirm His love for him again.

We should desire to be trophies of God’s grace. We should want our lives to be testimonies to the goodness of the Lord. Can we really be a trophy of grace and walk in sin? Let us cast off the works of darkness with its independence and let us seek the signal blessings of God that a demonstration of His power will be seen in our life. May God give us tokens for good that others may see, fear, and glorify Him.

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