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A Psalm that is Repeated

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
November 23, 2021 7:00 am

A Psalm that is Repeated

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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November 23, 2021 7:00 am

Who, or what, are you living for? Today on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice, we’ll study Psalm 53, and hear about how we should live our lives. Many today, and in David’s time, acted as though there was no God. But God is still God, whether He is acknowledged by man or not. How then, should God’s truth change the way we live?

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What does God think about those who say there is no God. Today Dr. James Boyce will take us through a study of Psalm 53 and talk about how we should live our lives. Many today and in David's time acted as though there was no God but God is still God. Whether he's acknowledged by man or not. How then should God's truth.

Change the way we live to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. Proverbs chapter 14 verse 12 says there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Although you and I can't save ourselves from sin. God has mercifully given us a Savior who can turn in your Bible now to Psalm 53 and let's hear from Dr. Boyce become the first time in our lengthy study of this almost so Psalm that is for the most part, a repetition of the song we had earlier sort of thing occurs occasionally in the Psalms will come to it again, but this is the very first time that we come to in our studies and the settlements repeated to Psalm 14 repeated Psalm 53. Except for a few minor changes in the last three lines of verse five suggests some interesting questions.

One of them is somewhat philosophical.

The other is very personal.

As you'll see in a moment. The ethical question is this why is the Psalm repeated in the very practical one ways for me is what are you going to say about the Psalm.

The second time now, since God has seen fit to repeat the song with only minor changes. I think it would be entirely appropriate if I would repeat the sermon when we we studied Psalm 14, I referred to the fact that Psalm 53 was coming and it's a repetition of Psalm 14. It not only do we have Psalm 14 and Psalm 53, but the heart of these two Psalms is repeated in the New Testament by the apostle Paul in Romans in the third chapter is verses 10 through 12 and I said then that anything God says once commands our attention God speaks we ought to listen to because it twice while out on a command are very deep attention, and if he says it three times. He says it three times. We had to concentrate, contemplate, assimilate, I would suggest we want to memorize the words so they become actually a part of it. You know, the book of common prayer. There's the colic that has the words about Scripture, we are to read Mark learn and inwardly digest that would be appropriate for the Psalm and it would certainly be appropriate to repeat what I said earlier. However, I gotta say I I think that would probably be missing the point. Because of God repeat something even if you study it very carefully.

The first time and accurately. It is probably because you think you haven't yet learned everything there is to learn and so what we need to do is come back and look at this on to see what else it has to teach us. Now Spurgeon thoughts that we profit from these two Psalms Morris, we grow older. Spurgeon you know was very witty and he had a wonderful turn words in here are a few things he said about Psalm 53 in his studies talking. First of all, about the repetition. Spurgeon says all repetitions are not vain repetitions, we are slow to learn, and therefore we need line upon line, referring to that great verse in Isaiah says how the teaching calms precept upon precept, line upon line here a little, there a little, so way we learn a little bit of time. So that's the reason for the repetition he makes an assumption which I think is a valid one, namely that Psalm 53 was also written by David that written late in life.

Psalm 14 was written earlier and he made this conclusion David after a long life found men no better than they were in his youth in the ad's holy writ never repeats itself needlessly. Therefore, there is a good cause for the second copy of the song and then he gets really clever and he links up the numbering of the Psalm with Rh thinking about us being 14 years old I correspondingly Psalm 14 and then being 53 years old.

My corresponding with the second and he says this. If our age is advanced from 14 to 53. We shall find the doctrine of the Psalm more evident than in our youth is only a way of saying the better you get to know people more you believe in the doctrine of original sin. Now there are a few differences between the two Psalms I want to just a moment to show you what those are.

Most of them are slight in verse one, word deeds and Psalm 14 is changed to ways in Psalm 53 the third verse the phrase all have turned aside, is changed to everyone has turned away actually means to turn back in another direction. Verse four word evildoers is replaced with the words, the evildoers are the only apparent effect of those slight changes is to intensify or heighten the sentiments of the Psalm slightly, apparently, use one or the other and it means certainly the same thing now there is a change. It's a bit more significant in the replacing of the name Jehovah with Elohim throughout Psalm 53 each Psalm refers to God seven times, but the earlier Psalm mingles the two names for God. Psalm 14 Elohim appears three times in Jehovah four times but by the time you get to this Psalm is Elohim in every instance, you say, does that mean anything. I'm not sure that it does it does follow a pattern.

We were talking earlier as we began the second of the Psalms, and I pointed out that in the second book of the Psalms Elohim is the name for God dominates just like Jehovah is the name for God.

The dominates in book 1 of the names for God both had their overtones but I don't know that there's anything particularly significant about that change. There is one substantial change. However, it's what I referred to earlier, and that is verse five of Psalm 53, which replaces verses five and six of Psalm 14 in case you're not flipping back and forth.

Let me read what the earlier Psalm says seems to be addressing fools in Israel fools everywhere and they existed in Israel to learn, and here's what it says in the earlier Psalm, there they are overwhelmed with dread. For God's presence in the company of the righteous.

You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge and Psalm were studying. Now this seems to redirect the verse now like to talk about fools in Israel but fools among those who are attacking Israel that is presumably Gentiles and refers to them saying that there they were overwhelmed with dread where there was nothing to dread God scattered the bones of those who attacked you, you put them to shame for God despised them that we can only guess what that incident refers to, but there are several that be quite apt as an explanation. I suppose the one that comes to mind most immediately is the scattering of the armies of select rib in the days of Hezekiah in Isaiah recalled that they surrounded Jerusalem and the leader of the troops was boasting about the power of their God saying no, God is going to protect you against the armies of the king of Assyria and Hezekiah laid that up before the Lord in that night the angel of the Lord went out and killed 185,000 of the surrounding troops woke up in the morning and there they were there all dead and select rib wisely decided that was not a very good place to attack and so were told that he would throw anyone back to his own capital, where one of his sons murdered him.

That is in second Kings 18 and 19 up. I would describe what you have here in this verse, and if that's the case, it's very likely I'm not sure it is just a guess nobody really knows, but it's very likely what you have here is an early Psalm of David that later. Paulette answered, in view of the historical situation slightly by making the change in verse five to accommodate in a very specific way, the new historical situation would still bear the name of David, because as David Salm but it's been a adapted slightly for the new situation I was. I say I don't know I'm not certain, but it seems to me that would probably explain why we have the Psalms we do now situation with the king surrounding Jerusalem and the Army is not our situation, of course. So if the Psalm is going to speak Dawson asked to speak in a different way and so I asked the question, how are we to study and what lesson are we to get from the song new lesson when we were studying the earlier button. Psalm 14 I went to the New Testament and study what Paul was saying in Romans as an interpretation of the song know how Paul operates. He gives a reasoned argument for his doctrine when he gets to the end. He gets the text out other biblical writers or speakers do the other way around.

Peter, for example, get the text first that he gave the explanation. That's why most people preach the explanation that he gave the text on the text again.

This, in part, is what we have here in Psalm 14 or from Psalm 53 and so precedes that is really Paul's explanation of what it means and what Paul is describing their is the nature of the human beings are fools in their sin because what they do is this God is revealed himself in nature like God is there nature and so they do everything they can to suppress the knowledge of and they deny that he exists. Sometimes they deny that he has any influence in the world. They deny that he cares.

I do not know about him and they do that, Paul says, suppressing the truth because they really don't like the God who is there to be no longer afraid they really did acknowledge it would have to change her lifestyle that have to thank them for the things that he did that have to serve him and I don't want to do that now that is sent course, what Paul is talking about.

That's the very nature of sentence out reason with me this way. If Paul is explaining the small monies describing it is sin, isn't it true to say the definition for the full way song begins.

The fool says in his heart there is no God.

The fool is not just one says in his heart original God.

The fool is anyone who sins. What that means is to act as if God is not there, God the holy God's original sin.

When I got so you sin your acting as if there is no God. Now if that's the proper way of thinking and I'm sure it is then we can look at the Psalm what it teaches us about setting out some precedent for that, you know, the great commentator Matthew Henry and all those multiple volume 6 volumes of studies on the entire Bible.

He studies the song carefully and he finds eight points in the Psalm seven of which have to do with sin in the 81. By contrast with the faith of the saints, and in each case, each of these eight points altogether that he develops each other begins with the F wonderful study of alliteration. You know this is all writers were just magnificent about been able to do that.

Well, let me share some of them with you and then reflect on them from our own perspective. The first thing Matthew Henry talks about on the basis of the Psalm is the fact of sin fact of sin is a reality of sin.

Why does he say that well he argues from the fact that God looks down from heaven sees it. What verse two says I don't always see sin reason you and I don't always see sin as we don't want to see sin we close our eyes to it. We do it, sometimes with other people. There are friends we want to think badly of them. And so we close our eyes. What they're doing. Frequently we do that always, we do it with ourselves. Somebody honestly confronts us with our certain natural instinct of our hearts is to make excuses for it. We say things like this recycling are you don't understand what really happened or we say it wasn't really like that or it wasn't my fault or should see what the other person did to be first. You know what they did to me you understand why I did that. That's the way we argue. In other words, we pretend either that the act was not sin or that it was justified. We have a biblical example that you know in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve and said God came to confront them. I try to wiggle out from under the judgment. And so Adam said it wasn't my fault was a woman's fault.

She gave me to eat and I ate and she said it wasn't my fault. It was the dumbest fault double got here in the garden and he tempted me and that's why I said that's what we do but you know the problem with that kind of denial of the fact of sin is that you and I are not the court of last appeal medevac were not even judges.

This particular court.

You and I are the plaintiffs were the ones that are accused, the one who stands to judges one who knows the facts of the case and he prepares the indictment and he handles the prosecution and he renders the ultimate verdict of that one is God is God excess everyone has turned away.

They have together become corrupt. There is no one who does good one. That's a fact of sin is God's judgment on the race now. The second thing. Matthew Henry talks about is the fault of sin that's important to you say because another way we deal with sin is to minimize it because we don't want to feel too guilty about it. So we we talk about our sins's weaknesses sometimes are not about them as imperfections. We don't mind being imperfect because we assume are on our way to perfection will overcome it sometime. We don't actually tell it as it is now God doesn't why God sees things as they are is the way God describes that excessive sinners are corrupt in their ways are vile, verse one. He describes him as having turned away from the correct path that supports three says that they are evildoers or devour other people. Verse four now those terms describe sin in terms of relationship three relationships relationship to God's relationship to ourselves relationship to other people. As far as God is concerned, we have turned away from him.

What the word says is about annexing stronger than that. I said, in a moment ago was I just turning aside as with the earlier Psalms. At this Psalm actually has the idea of turning around and going the other direction entirely. We are anti-God in our nature as far as we're concerned, we become corrupt and violence in crops, so we are in the process of moral decay or sin as far as other people are concerned.

While we are harming them by our actions, and is no small thing.

Very great fault and it's very harmful and that's the second point third point is this the fountain of sin. What Henry means my life is the source of sanity asked the question I quoted here is that how comes it that men are so bad in any answers shortly.

It's because there is no fear of God before their eyes because they say in their hearts. There is no God. I when we were studying Psalm 14 I pointed out that there is a great deal of difference between a theoretical atheism and a practical atheism theoretical atheism is that kind of atheism that denies the existence of a supreme being is literally there is nobody to slip in a mechanistic universe. All that is is what we see and we have a lot of theoretical atheists today in the ancient world that wasn't true. Very hard to find atheist in that sense, in the ancient world. And when you find in the Psalms, the saying there is no God is not we mean when we say there is no God. This is a practical atheism stance taken it's the lifestyle of the person who wants to act as if there is no God. Medevac is very strong in the Hebrew text. I mentioned that when we study the earlier Psalm because in the Hebrew words, there is actually aren't there. All that Hebrew says is the fool says in his heart. No, God, what that really means is, nobody may practice your concern about God, but I'm not going to do that. I did God need doesn't intervene as long as he doesn't intervene either to do whatever I can to advance myself now is the source of our problems and say because whether we deny the true existence of God or not there is a God does exist, but the problem is we act as if he doesn't exist. Reminder what we said what I was studying on earlier Psalms. One of my favorite Psalms Psalm eight the one that places man in this interesting mediating position in the universe that you made him a little lower than the heavenly beings, and you crowned him with glory and honor now in the New Testament that's used in reference to Jesus Christ is the perfect man and saw me this really going to humankind in general and and here's the interesting position you have God you have the Angels you have been beings men and women and then below them. As you read on in the Psalm you have the animal creation. The base you made a little lower than the heavenly beings you crowned with glory and honor you given dominion over the beach. That's what it says now Aquinas pointed out that that's a very interesting position to see the Angels who are above us as spirits with nobodies. The animals were beneath us have bodies but no spirits. We are body spirit beings. Francis Schaeffer made a great deal about. I wanted to study says it's our unique opportunity and that mediating position to look up because we have spirits and the angelic beings who are about Boston gondolas about that as we become increasingly like the one to whom we look because you to model is what you will tend to become what you say when you become a practical atheists. And you say no God may what you're saying is I I gonna put a spiritual dimension of my life. What I'm going to do is well what do you do if you don't look up is only one direction, you can walk down so you looked out of the animals and you become like animals begin act like them is why we have so much beastlike conduct in our day and the sad thing to say is that when human beings were made to be even above the Angels act like animals. They do things that even the animals wouldn't do Bob against talk about that in Romans one pictures this downhill path of moral decline gets to the bottom says, in effect, there is no bottom, because when you say to yourself, well that's something I won't do no that's wrong. I won't do that but you have a relationship with God.

That's the very thing you're going to do as a matter fact even the naming of the sin invites you to do it. That's what happens with community standards and cultural mores we say to ourselves. Well, we're better than those other people wherever that may be in the world people of a different race or different background or different religion, different nationalities, we would never do that because as soon as you say that that is exactly what you do. That's why there is never been moral reformation of any nation that is not religious in nature does not flow from the gospel of redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ and you see that's what we've got here. That is the fountain of sin. When you say there is no God is no fear of God before your eyes. That's the direction that you go all of this is probably of course that's the next Henry's points and folly of sin is folly, because God exists and that we knowledge them or not, then it is certain when they were going to have to stand before him, and give an accounting so every sin we could match every on Fox. We cherish the wrong deeds we perpetrated something for which we will have to give an answer one day let me put that in a very personal way through a person who is been living as if there's no God and Savior and atheists the way we talk about the person who is been living as if there is no God is planning your own life, doing your own thing by finding out what God said in the Bible. How you should live your person like that them when asked this question, what are you going to say on the day when you do stand before God. What kind of an excuse.

Are you going to make going to say. While I I didn't know you existed anything that's going to sound God that's going to be stupid. That's the only word for it. I think it will even sound stupid to you as a God is gone to great pains to reveal himself to you is revealed himself in nature what Paul says you don't need advanced degree to know that there's a God made everything about you look at your own handout functions your fingerprints and so on.

Evidence that there's a God is revealed himself in the Bible God revealed himself preeminently in Jesus Christ you study nature of an open mind read the Bible and try to get to know Jesus Christ. Together.those things are you going to stand before God someday say I didn't know that you existed.

Maybe you're going to say can say that maybe you're going to say, I didn't think you were important how insulting the God that must seem lots of other things that you think are important you spend your time watching television was a very important thing you think the football scores baseball scores were important.

Getting your bank accounts importance.

You're always very concerned about that. You don't want overdrawn, all those things are important, but you're going to stand before God and say I didn't think that it was important that I sought you out came to know you and Sergio. You made me tell God that you're going to say well I didn't have time for you. I probably comes closer to the point.

But you see again that's falling you didn't have time gaunt God. Everything else I'm everything you wanted to have time for fun time for your pleasure time for gaunt see on that day, we have to give an accounting and those questions will seem foolish, you will know that you were a fool. Whether you acknowledge it here or not. This point is this the filthiness of sin.

One of the deceptive features of sin is that it masquerades as something beautiful and desirable when actually it's hideous and destructive Psalm uses the words corrupt while you have a great tendency to want to make sin look pretty recall. Not long ago when Magic Johnson's handsome, very attractive and charismatic basketball player professional announced that she had AIDS. How almost immediately sportscasters pundits jumped on land and they just were almost jubilance goes here was somebody was attractive mice and had AIDS and somehow in their mind that took away the hideousness of this fatal disease. I remember reading the day after that was announced of the papers that this is actually now they said the smiling face of a because Magic Johnson seen so often smiling other paper suggested that now we know that age is not a danger to danger not just for some groups of people, but anyone can get it on its natural course. AIDS is not acquired by people who follow the moral law of God in sexual matters, except in a few strange cases with contaminated blood say the thing that is strange. There is trying to glamorize something which is not at all glamorous but that's what we try to do what the Bible says. The Bible says there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 1412 apostle Paul said the wages of sin is death, and fortunately the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 623. The six point is this sin destroys the one who pursues it so we can talk about the fruit of sin and the fruit of sin is that destruction also in verse four is showing. It shows us how sin impacts other people uses an image it describes these evildoers as those who devour my people as men eat bread now in the Middle East. Just as in the West. Bread is the most common of all. We have a great deal of variety here. There's less variety in the Middle East. On that date. It was very little variety.

So bread was eaten all the time regularly, was scarcely a thought. Psalm was picks up on that image to say well that's the way evildoers are asked when her furthering their own interests.

They divide that we are the poor in order that they might become strong and rich themselves.

Now we talk about that way in our own speech, we talk about this being a dog eat dog world. That's the same idea. What is worse, we know people like that no people who don't care what happens. Anybody else you know underneath the glamour and glitz. That's really what sin is like sin is not caring what happens anybody else but even ourselves righteous. Of course do care what happens to others and therefore will do the right thing even a great personal cost. They will set their own interests aside in order to help other people in advance their interests seventh point is the fear that a 10% now. This brings us to verse five and its verse that I referred to earlier as the new addition variance in this repeated song seems to refer as I said, doing historical incident. Although we don't know which one I mentioned the destruction of the armies of Seneca and the Assyrians outside the walls of Jerusalem that fits the situation nicely, but it's not the only situation in the Old Testament in which God struck terror into the hearts of Israel's foes when it really was not human cons for we get some examples in Joshua 1010 were told of the confusion of the armies of southern Canaan.

When the Jewish troops fell upon them at Gibeon judges seven told about the battle of Gideon and his small army of 300 men against the Midianites. All they did on that occasion was surround the camp of the Midianites at night. They had candles were hidden by a piece of pottery trumpets and then on a given signal that the pottery all of a sudden the lights came on the trumpets and the Midianites.

All of the such terror and confusion that they turn on one another and actually slotted themselves and fled out across the board. First Samuel 14 after Jonathan and his armor bearer and killed some 20 of the Philistines were told verse 15 panic struck the whole army and Saul and his larger army then routed.

Now anyone of those incidents would explain. Let me say this. In most cases I just mentioned panic overtook the enemies of Israel.

When there was no human cause for the panic yet God didn't know.

I asked if that's so, people were filled with panic before God when there was no human cause for it.

What is going to happen in the day when sinners have to stand before God and give an accounting for all the things that they have done. Jesus said what's going to happen on that day. Set in that day there going to say to the mountains fall on us of the hills cover us so great will be there dread say but the hills made by God. Mountains are his creation. My answer to God not to sinners and I will fall upon sinners to hide them in sinners will have to stand before God. You will have to do that one day unless your sins are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ brings us to the last point of this is where the tone of the exposition changes tone of the song changes to its talking about this in the wicked evildoers, those who say there is no God. In verses one through five but when you get to verse six now suddenly were talking about what Matthew Henry calls the faith of the saints of the faith of the righteous are you noticing changes from sin, the righteous, but he doesn't drop the alliteration is talked about the fact that fountain probably filthiness fruit and furious and always talking about the faith of the saints. These people live in a world in which fools do indeed act and speak as if there is no God world in which sin abounds because of the bounds of this become a world in which the righteous suffer, and which were at time. Those were wicked do seem to try them. But in the midst of this present evil world, the saints look upward and wait for the deliverance come from Zion. Think about that. That's what that last phrase says all salvation for Israel would come out of Zion wasn't referring to.

Well it's not referring to the deliverance in verse five because that's something in the past there.

They were overwhelmed with dread where there was nothing to dread God scattered the bones of those who attacked you and put them to shame for God despise them at something in the past as the occasion of the song that when you get to the end. Verse six says that salvation would come out of Zion to maybe some people thought of that, only in terms of physical deliverance as God delivered Israel from the Assyrians of the Midianites of the listing, but the saints of Israel were many down through all the centuries of Jewish history. Look forward to that Savior who was to come, the Savior, God prophesied way back in the third chapter of Genesis, whose goings forth from an old ways and ministry work details of life for all portal they look forward that one that's salvation is that's the only answer that question sin. They look forward, we look back, but it's the same solution. If God does not save us from our sin is not salvation. You and I can save ourselves from sin. Our culture certainly Do in our culture as part of the enemy. Part of the problem. God is come to save us in Jesus Christ. So what I say to you is this. If you been living as if there is no God.

I urge you to repent of black falling and the sin which is an expression that can become wise instead one of the wise to wise people know they need a Savior through wisdom, as was given by God and furthermore that Savior is revealed as he has been since Christ the believe on him cleats to him regarding the console so wise. Father, we thank you for this long been a privilege to study it again lessens their great lessons which we need to return again and again, we would pray that you would grant us the prophets we might become wise men and women spiritually wise. From the folly of seven racing Jesus Christ. Following hard after him.

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