The Exodus Book of Psalms--Part 2
Mar 22, 2010
This is a psalm about the redemption of Israel from Egypt, as well as our greater redemption by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the previous psalm, after hearing the voice of God, the people ran in fear (Exodus 20:18). So Psalm 49 opens with the appeal:
(1) Hear this, all peoples; give ear, all inhabitants of the world, (2) both low and high, rich and poor together. (3) My mouth will speak wisdom, and the meditation of my heart will be understanding.
Verse 2 appeals to "both low and high." The Hebrew words are ben adam and ben ish. Literally, these are "sons of men" and "sons of great men." In that sense, the appeal is to lowly men and to "high" men.
So God speaks to "all the inhabitants of the world," giving us the extended meaning of the event at Sinai that had occurred on a very limited scale. While some take Exodus 20 as an indication that God speaks only to the house of Israel, we see from Psalm 49 that the appeal to hear His voice is a universal appeal.
The psalmist says that God's mouth speaks "wisdom" and "understanding." This is also what we read in Deut. 4,
(5) See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me . . . (6) So keep and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people."
Psalm 49 then relates how the ungodly trust in their wealth (vs. 6), but no amount of money can redeem their brother from the debt brought about through the sin of Adam. Whether they are wise or stupid, those who have wealth eventually die and leave their wealth to others (vs. 10).
(14) As sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd. . . (15) But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol; for He will receive me.
When we view this psalm in the light of its corresponding story in Exodus, we can see that God's purpose in speaking to the people in Exodus 20 was to administer to them the power of the Holy Spirit. They refused to hear, of course, prompting the prophetic words in Psalm 95:7 and 8, "Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts."
In refusing to hear, they rejected the blessing of that day and postponed the fulfillment of Pentecost for nearly 1500 years. (Pentecost was the feast commemorating the day that God spoke on Sinai, giving them the Ten Commandments.)
The lesson to be learned is that it is only by receiving the Holy Spirit, first the downpayment at Pentecost, and finally the fullness of the Spirit at the feast of Tabernacles, that God redeems us from the debt of Adam's sin. Romans 8:23 says that we eagerly await "the redemption of our body."
This is a continuation of the story in Exodus 20, focusing on the fact that God came to earth on that day to teach us of His character and to show us the way to walk in His likeness and image.
(3) May our God come and not keep silence; fire devours before Him, and it is very tempestuous around Him."
He came to Sinai with great shaking and the sound of a loud trumpet in the midst of the fire. Yet the psalm focuses primarily on the words that God actually spoke, rather than the mere fact that He came and spoke. The psalm covers Exodus 21-31, where the laws are given in detail. First God makes it clear that He was not really interested in sacrifices. "If I were hungry, I would tell you" (vs. 12), He says. "Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving" (vs. 14).
Animal sacrifices were not the perfect will of God. He only instituted them as a teaching tool that would prophesy of the one True Sacrifice and the blood of Jesus Christ which alone can cleanse us from sin.
From verse 16 on, we read of the other laws that the people continued to violate, contrary to the will and and character of God. "You hate discipline" (vs. 17); "when you see a thief, you are pleased with him" (vs. 18); "you slander your own mother's son" (vs. 20).
(21) These things you have done, and I kept silence; you thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes.
Human nature (the carnal mind) thinks it can violate the law and still be pleasing to God. They do not comprehend that the law expressed the very character of God. When we claim to walk in His likeness but refuse to hear His laws and hate discipline (correction), we deceive ourselves.
This psalm covers Exodus 32 and the story of the golden calf, where the people, after refusing to hear God's voice, were happy with a false god and his permissiveness.
Realize, of course, that David himself wrote this psalm after being confronted by Nathan the prophet over his sin with Bathsheba. It was his prayer of repentance. But this psalm was placed in this particular location in order to relate it to the story of Israel's worship of the golden calf in Exodus 32. In other words, even as Israel committed spiritual adultery with false gods in Exodus 32, so also did David commit adultery with Bathsheba.
This psalm was written by David while he was running from Saul. He had gone to the high priest in Nob (because Shiloh had been destroyed some years earlier). Ahimelech, the high priest, had given David and his men the bread from the Table of Showbread (1 Sam. 21:6), because they were hungry.
This appeared to be a violation of the law, because only the priests were allowed to eat this bread. But David was a high priest of the Order of Melchizedek, so he did not violate the law in the eyes of God. His men, therefore, represented priests of Melchizedek under him.
Anyway, Doeg the Edomite saw David and reported him to Saul (1 Sam. 22:9). Saul condemned all of those priests to death, but his guards refused to carry out the order. So Saul told Doeg to be the executioner, and he obeyed (22:18).
Thus, Doeg the Edomite became a prophetic type of his latter-day descendants who have made an alliance with the "Saul" Church and have persecuted the true priests of God who would assist the overcomers ("David").
David thus writes of him in Psalm 52,
(1) Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The lovingkindness of God endures all day long. (2) Your tongue devises destruction . . . (3) You love evil more than good, falsehood more than speaking what is right. . . (8) But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever."
Dr. Bullinger's notes on Psalm 52 says this about Doeg and David's words: "It is prophetic, and a type of Antichrist." Yes, there is a close connection between the Edomites and Antichrist, for their violent opposition to David and the true "Son of David" in the New Testament is the topic of John's discussion in his first epistle.
For further study on this, I recommend reading chapter 6 in my book, The Struggle for the Birthright.
The lesson of Psalm 52 is that those who reject Jesus Christ in favor of the golden calf are, in essence, Antichrist--or at least following the spirit of Antichrist.
This is the second part of a series titled "The Exodus Book of Psalms." To view all parts, click the link below.