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A Bible Acrostic

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
October 13, 2021 8:00 am

A Bible Acrostic

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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October 13, 2021 8:00 am

Even the mountains quake in His presence. This week on The Bible Study Hour, we’ll take a closer look at the poetic imagery of Psalm 25. In this psalm of praise, David experiences God’s power through creation, and he calls on the heavenly hosts to join him in worship of our powerful Creator.

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Today on the Bible study our David approaches God in a prayerful song knowing that God is good and just, and that God won't let him down.

David puts his trust in the Lord and ask God to be gracious to him and to teach and guide him in holy righteousness.

Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically.

If we humbly approach God with repentant willing heart, asking him to teach us his ways he will faithfully guide us and keep us.

God will not disappoint. If you have your Bible turn to Psalm 25 and follow along for several years now we've been looking at this all together, not exhaustively Sunday by Sunday. But for various periods of the year began two years ago and then last year, but a bit more time on the Psalms, advancing our study as far as Psalm 24, Psalm 25 the dependency on Bible scholars and commentators should be very balanced and what they do to exaggerate leg greatness are the depth for that patient loss of whatever portion of Scripture there study I found that true even of this long. One scholar has called us all great sorrow mellowing is said deep soul exercise of the godly remnant of Israel in the time of trouble and distress. I don't have a regular problem with that, except that I think it's not very helpful, and may even be misleading when we started this particular Psalm, there are songs that are expressions of a great Psalm of sorrow. I don't think that's the case with this when I think. Rather, this is a song that expresses client confidence or call majority on the part of the smallest and therefore we don't understand it that way. We really are going to misunderstand what we have in this Psalm is a thoughtful prayer by a person David, who is identified as the author knows that the only adequate foundation for any solid life is God.

As far as a form of assault goes, it's an acrostic acrostic and say literary composition is based upon the alphabet.

There are nine songs like that sold her the first two of which together make up a single acrostic.

The first verse of such a song would begin with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and then the second verse would begin with the second letter that is this first word to the converts would begin with the bait salon and on throughout all of the alphabet. 22 verses until you get to the end Psalms that are like that are Psalms 910, which together make up a single acrostic. We looked at accommodation briefly when we were studying the Psalms earlier and then Psalms 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119 and 145.

The best known of these acrostic seven most complete of these acrostic poems are Psalm 119 is not only the longest of the Psalms. It's the longest chapter in the Bible. It is composed of 22 sections 8 versus each this case not only the first verse of the section begin with the appropriate letter of the Hebrew alphabet, but every verse of the section begins with a letter. So the first eight verses of Psalm 119 begin with the word to begins without and then the second day verses which of the second section begin with a word that begins with a letter bait salon throughout the alphabet for the last eight verses which all begin with the word to begins with the letter tile. Not all of these acrostic poems are complete. Some of them have variations and this particular Psalm is one of the text stands that second rather than the first word of the second verse begins with bait and then there's some other variations along the way to the letters are omitted while cough and find them ready letter which corresponds to our August repeated twice and then at the very end. You have a verse begins with a word beginning with the letter and that doesn't fit the acrostic pattern of all may not be quite as simple as that. However, the word that begins verse two and doesn't fit the pattern is what is translated in our Bibles as my and it may be since that's an expression that stands by itself that it actually belongs with the ending of verse one.

So verse one. In that case would read to you oh Lord I lift up my soul.

Oh my God, that's actually the order of the Hebrew and then the word that follows, which in that case, will actually begin. Verse two would be a word beginning with the bait, so it may be that that pattern actually holds their and then as far as the other emissions are concerned, the fact that why was omitted had that verse at the end begins with a K the 34th Psalm follows exactly the same pattern. I'm not sure what all that means, except it probably suggests first of all, that the two Psalms are by the same author, and secondly, that the variations are deliberate whenever they made me may be that the omission of one letter reflects some kind of an early stage of the Hebrew alphabet. At any rate, I don't know, but you have an acrostic and intentional pattern and this all has to be studied to some extent like that when we asked the question why the psalmist writes lawns acrostic pattern whenever you follow a pattern like that you impose some restraints upon yourself. You have to follow the alphabetical order. Find words that fit so you can't be utterly free-flowing and your ideas why in the world would anybody do that while there are some answers there are the obvious answers where poetry in general is concerned that acrostic poetry in particular.

One thing this may simply be an aesthetic device.

We don't know exactly how the Hebrew mine responded to verse, but we can see parallels in the way we do when we think of verse we think of rhyme we like it that fact that the words and in various couplets and poetry all rhyme and that sort of rings nicely in our ears so we like the poem.

Maybe it's that kind of a device in Hebrew, the fact that these letters follow the sequence had a certain artistic or aesthetic appeal.

Secondly, when you follow an outfit that from the beginning to the end. This might be a way of suggesting completeness way we would express that is to say it's all therefore made as a and that may well be the case that probably is the case of Psalm 119 great Psalm and talks about the word of God along the statute, the commands of God.

It explores that exhaustively and you come to the end of that's all.

When you say well subject has been thoroughly covered and the pattern seems to fit that well.

It may also be a mnemonic device that is to assist the memory.

It's always easier to memorize poetry and prose. And if you have verses poem that begin with because of letters of the author that is easy to keep them in mind what is the cup of the begins with the cup at the begins would be up at the begins with C and so forth of that was the case that some like that might be taught easily to children who would be learning the alphabet and therefore could learn the Psalm and that why not all of those are perfectly valid reasons for an acrostic poem to suggest however that in this case patient Psalm 25.

There may be another additional factor and it's this new look at this Psalm carefully, you soon find the idea that seems to tie it all together is the idea of learning. In verses four and following you find that the psalmist is appealing to God. Teach them to find it verse four teach me your plans begin in verse five. Guide me in your truth and teach me same ideas expressed in other words, elsewhere in the Psalm and then having appealing to God to teach him which is what these verses do further section of the Psalm says that's exactly what God will do what is doing is verse eight. Therefore he instructs sinners in his way.

Verse nine guides the humble is what is right and teaches them his way. In verse 12 he will instruct him as a man and fears the Lord in the way chosen for that's the case that the emphasis is upon learning. It is particularly appropriate to have an alphabetical order as we might say a schoolhouse form for this particular song if you recognize as well that what the psalmist talking about his guidance. David once got to teach him his way so we might walk in them. It would be appropriate, call the psalmist school lesson on how to live so as to please God and be blessed by now. It's that way that I think we have to approach it now since the Psalm is not what some songs on it is a highly charged emotional song but rather a quietly mature one. It presents its theme in a way that is easy for us to identify with somebody is crying to God in great anguish and you almost have to be in the same situation to respond to it. And sometimes we are. That's why emotional songs often speak to us so deeply in certain periods of our lives, but that is always the case, or you have a client's law silver one a mature one and is a little bit easier for us to fit into it so way in which we get into it is by the idea of shame which you find in the opening stanza find it several times there once in verse two. Do not let me be put to shame and then twice in verse three or one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who were treacherous without excuse. Now, since that word is also found at the end. In verse 20 guide my life and rescue may let me not be put to shame. Minus sort of the framework of black at by which the ideas expressed in the body of the Psalm are to be understood.

I was David talking about and he talks about shame we have to be careful here because when we use that word commonly in English shame.

I'm ashamed use it in a way that is found in the Bible but was just not characteristic of the Bible's usage of the word.

For example, when we talk about shame, we usually mean being embarrassed but is being shown up as foolish or inadequate in some way. This is the way Webster's dictionary talks about.

It defines shame is a painful emotion excited by a consciousness of guilt, disgrace, or dishonor now. Sometimes you find that in the Bible example Jesus Christ was speaking. Along these lines, when he said if anyone is ashamed of me and my words Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory.

That means that word embarrassed by an association with Jesus Christ.

So that's the way we use the work. Again Paul and he was writing to the Romans. In the first chapters that I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ because of the power of God and the salvation he means is not embarrassed by the gospel, because it actually that which God works powerfully.

That is the way we use the work that as I say this characteristic Bible usage what the Bible seems to mean mostly when it uses that word shame of ashamed is being let down and disappointed somehow been frustrated in the end because the thing in which we trusted shows itself to be untrustworthy.

Let me give you a few text that show how that is used.

First of all, Romans 55 now the old King James version and its translation of that had the words hope maketh not ashamed. Everybody who is older, knows that France hope maketh not ashamed what is that mean what it means doesn't disappoint. The Christian hope in the end is not going to be proved. The something that's illusory. That's why when the new international version translates that you find that in our particular tactics is hope does not disappoint us exactly what it means when I going to be disappointed in the last day because acrostic God. God's going to come through as people what it means again. Here's another one in Isaiah 2816 and then there's the parallel to that very similar text in Isaiah 4923 King James version said they shall not be ashamed who wait for me. I was at mean they won't be ashamed to wait for me that is mean embarrassed, but it means we won't be disappointed or letdown or betrayed or abandoned by God. So when the new international version comes to translate that they say the one who trusts will never be dismayed or in the translation of the verse in Isaiah 49 those who hope in me will never be disappointed versus all mean you say that the one who trusts God is never going to be disappointed in the end that's what David's talking about in the Psalm is not talking about embarrassment, but is talking about disappointment. You might say at this point, however, why shouldn't they would even think this way. If this is really a mature song by mature believer, as I suggested, it is why should David ever think that God is going to be abandoning him knows that God is not a matter of fact, why is he worried. Why is this even an issue for well for several reasons and they emerge in the Psalm I think it really brings the Psalm closest to our own experience.

First of all what David says is that he surrounded by enemies mentions these explicitly in verses 219. And then he alludes to his enemies, and directly else where he talks about God needing to deliver them from the snare snare is a snare of his enemies and he says in verse two. Don't let my enemies triumph over mayor again in verse 19 see how my enemies have increased how fiercely they hate me now is surrounded by these enemies literally in his day enemy states that would gladly have toppled them from his throne and yet enemies within the kingdom as well. That's one of the problems. Second, Mrs. sent mentions that in the particularly interesting way in this song playing in verse seven. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways, something you say.

I think we can understand we can understand a matter of enemies, because the world is our enemy. We sometimes are deluded even as Christians in thinking that the world is for us with the world's world as opposed to our spiritual well-being and will destroy us if we can and we have to understand that the world is our enemy and it surrounds us, were immersed in the world we can get out of every day constantly were being bombarded with ideas that are contrary to God are opposed to God and the God's teaching and the devil is our enemy the devil is a powerful enemy, and he uses the world as a tool Bible describes devil, as a roaring lion going about seeking whom he Bauer and Jesus said he's a murderer from the beginning of the devil is trying to use the world and its ways to destroy us and then is it that isn't bad enough we have an enemy within. And that's the sin we carry about in our own hearts. It's a sin, the business report with the world is why the world has such an appeal to us if we were like Jesus Christ without sin the world wouldn't have any appeal for us. We understand it in its ways sweetly would be aloof from it, but we have sin within is a work were drawn after the world see if that's the case then you can understand why David would pray the way he does why he would be concerned about somehow being ashamed, disappointed or abandoned.

In the last day one of the wells and get to him Dragon down to its level and pull them away from God or what if God remembering the sins of these you should. In the time of real temptation on trial abandoned them and neglect to save and help them see that somebody's thinking. I said a moment ago. David is perfectly aware that's not going to happen say he talks about shame and he says in verse three no one is hoping you will ever be put to shame what does that mean in terms of our theology. How would we describe what he saying there no one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame what term is used to describe that his perseverance about the perseverance of the saints. He says any one of us hope is in God is going to persevere to the end God's going to keep him.

That's very true. I want you to see how he handles that receipt is always another side to that kind of confidence. It is true God is going to keep his people, but that is never simply mechanical or abstract thing which would allow us to say. Well, not going to keep us therefore we can do anything we want in this case. You see God's going to keep him at the way in which God is going to keep him is to teach them God's ways. So that's why he prays along those lines. We have to learn and you learn as you grow in the Christian life. While it is true that God ordains the ends, he nevertheless also ordains the mean God is going to persevere with us as he well where is people keeping us to the Darien that is also going to mean that we must persevere in the way we persevere is by learning is ways walking in place. Every other area as well. You're talking about prayer you say well of God's going to do something. Why should I pray about it doesn't matter. Yes it does because of God's going to do something and he's ordained doing in response to the prayers of his people and you have to pray its way is going to happen, you know, prays not going to happen going to happen will happen because you pray why because God has ordained it to happen that way. Sending a stroke witnessing is not going to say Joe Smith is a them I don't have to worry about that. No is in follow-up, God is going to say that is truly going to say God's work, but he's ordained to do it through your witness and your witnesses. You have to witness down operates.

He doesn't just learning the ends you ordains the means and what is true of prayer and witnessing is true, as well as growth in life are we going to grow. Yes, of course, that's God's will for us.

We might be holy God is not going to be frustrated when that happens, despite the steps that we must take in the Christian life.

Learning is ways walking in them. And that's why Dave is praying along these lines.

He doesn't want to be put to shame.

He knows he's not going to be put to shame. God's going to be faithful and for that very reason. He prays guide me in your ways and teach me, as as a very practical matter, is a very practical small I was studying in preparation for this study, I came across a very good paragraph by what is probably the best writer on the Psalms. Today, a contemporary writer that we died several years ago, 1985 name is Peter Craigie until his death was a professor at the University of Calgary in Alberta and his study compares the Psalms on 25 of Psalm 11 is us all the wisdom that has the doctrine of the two ways he says when you study that's all you could possibly get the wrong idea.

You could think that there are two ways in all you really have to do with the start of the Christian life is decide to walk in the one, rather than in the other you want in the way of righteousness, rather than the way of sinners, well then you want to be blessed. He says when you get on the path you find that isn't quite that way. Many read the way puts it think this through with prayer of Psalm 25 complements the wisdom of Psalm one. The latter Psalm one is the Lord did not date of the two establishes the two ways. But, taken alone, the dispassionate wisdom of Saul, one could be misleading.

It might be taken to imply that the essence of life is simply choosing the right road and once the choice has been made. Everything will go well. Psalm 25. Prayer is that of a person who is made the choice presented in Psalm one walking on the road of the righteous, but the wisdom has been transformed now passionate petition because the right road is not an easy one on which to walk and to identify with that live any length of time in the Christian life. You know that's true. This road is lined with enemies who would like nothing better than to put the walker to shame, and the traveler on the road is also plagued with internal doubts calls to mind previous wanderings from the path and for Merced essence of the road of the righteous is this it is a road to difficult to walk without the companion ship and friendship of God.

That's why David is praying as he is well. You say how does the psalmist arrived then at quiet confidence in God, it's because he's taught the very things we find the song only son about the character of God we find about the character of God and the song well look through it to find the answer for so long you find that God is faithful. Verse three faithful because no one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame. That's the first thing he tells us about God.

Secondly, God is a God of truth because his plans are the prayers of truth versus four and five verse five God as his Savior. You are God my Savior. My hope is in you all the day long for God is merciful and loving and he has been from of old verse six verse eight tells us that God is good and upright. Verse 10 brings back the matter of God being a loving and faithful once again.

He is loving and faithful in all his ways. Verse 11.

God is forgiving nature to forgive.

Verse eight God is open with his people and he freely confides in the verse 14 God is gracious.

Verse 16 again. Finally got is powerful to rescue his people and therefore he's one in whom they can take refuge if I that in verses 15 and 20 C when David wants to be instructed in the way so he'll walk in the place he begins is with the character of God are two characteristics of God are brought together in verse eight, which require special attention and that is God's goodness and his uprightness good and upright is the Lord we would talk about his mercy and his justice is goodness, which causes them to be merciful to us in his uprightness, which means his justice reason that striking is it apart from the revelation work of God. We can if we think clearly understand how those two can belong together. How can God be merciful and just. At the same time a good and upright we can understand how we can be good and we believe that he's good is a matter of fact that's the basis of our appeal to them is why we come to him in prayer. Body wasn't good. It was basically in different than it would be a fruitless exercise reason we come is because he's good we know is merciful. We plead his mercy problem is this how can he show mercy and be just at the same time, if we have any understanding of all sinners per se follows immediately after verse seven David is talking verse seven about the sins of his youth is remembering those and now he says in verse eight good and upright is the Lord why doesn't the upright character of God, the justice of God condemn them for his sin. We only an ultimate answer that is Jesus Christ.

See, it's in Christ by his death on the cross that God can be both good and upright at the same time that is merciful and just is just because he punishes our sin in Jesus Christ. Christ bears the punishment the penalty of our transgression. By doing that, God demonstrates his goodness or his mercy, and so he reaches out on so much of that David understand we don't know we do not because of things he said elsewhere that they look forward to a Redeemer who would come to know his name but he expected God to do a work of redemption because of who he is.

That's the way we have to, and if we come to God and that way on the basis of what Jesus Christ is done then when we say remember not the sins of my youth, we can know that God is not remembered them.

Rather, equipment behind his back. He forgot because what Jesus Christ is not very on-site in his commentary has an interesting set of comments on that many tells the story said that was a time when he was called to visit very old man in his congregation.

He was well up into his 90s is not doing well. 60 copper Ironside Ironside came to him.

The man said everything seems so dark. Ironside was surprised by that because this man had been a Christian for more than 70 years with a strong and effective Christian life and the blessing other people.

He said what you mean darken the man replied this way said in my illness since I been lying here so week.

My memory keeps bringing up the sins of my youth and I get them out of my mind.

I keep crowding in on me and I can't help thinking about them. They make me feel miserable and wretched lines.

I turn to this song since he mentioned the sins of his youth. Ironside read that verse. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways according to your love remember me for your little Lord many said to him you came to God through Jesus Christ. Faith in him more than 70 years ago.

You remember what God said to you and know what he was talking about.

He said well when you confess your sin. God said your sins and iniquities. I will remember no more. God has forgotten them.

Why should you think about them and man relaxed at that point and he said well I'm an old fool trying to remember what God is. Forgot is a found peace because he was instructed about God and God's ways. That's what David himself is doing you find yourself as a Christian times in your life mulling over the things of the past. You remember the character of God, that you find here. God is good, but is just at the same time as demonstrated both that the cross of Jesus Christ sinners atone for their therefore the basis of that God lays it behind doesn't bring it up again you bring it up.

You say all those things bother me. The devil will bring them up.

Your site will what you did, how can you possibly be a Christian. God never brings it up really trusted in Jesus Christ will never find God remind you of the passive rather instructing you and meeting you in the way that you should go. What is one more thing that needs to be said about this. All that is weighed in the blessing is what is sometimes and I'm not considered in sections by rather look at it as a whole, but the song does assessor presents a problem and suggest a solution expresses confidence in God that he will provide the solution needed, but then finally at the end, it shows the attitude of the heart of the one who is going to experience the solution.

God's going to instruct and guide, but how is he going to do that. What is our attitude to be, we come to find that kind of instruction well for things. First of all, God says that he'll instruct sinners in his way and that implies that they know that there sinners otherwise have to come before him humbly look at verse mind. He guides the humble and what is right and he teaches them his way is no promise in the Bible that God will teach an arrogant spirit or hottie mind will humble ourselves before him confessing not only our sin but our ignorance and thought it was a source of all truth and righteousness will instruct us and leaders in the way that we should go does say James 46 God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. And that's what David at work. Secondly, we must have an obedient spirit three, verse 10 talks about the covenant and it reads this way all the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant is the reason many of us don't get guidance in the way that we should go is that we come wanting God to tell us what he wants before we agree to do it and what we really are doing in that case is trying to keep the options for sin open way of God is way righteous than anything else in the way of sin, but we wanted to tell us what he wants us to do so we can decide after we hear it whether we really want to do it or not, it doesn't work that way and see the instruction is for those who keep the demands of the covenant. So if you come to God you have to come obediently and you have to be willing to obey whatever he gives. Thirdly, we have to, reverent way.

That idea was important David because he repeats it twice. Verse 12 and 14 is in the words fears the Lord. That's not a cowardly fear, but it's a reverential fear, who then is a man who fears the Lord, he'll instruct him away chosen for him. Verse 14 the Lord confides in those dear him or who revere him mustn't come brashly to God. Some in our day are encouraging Christian people to think of God, more or less as a celestial body and guide sit down together with and have a beer. It's not what God is like is a holy, sovereign, awesome God and we have to recognize that as we come final thing here is what I would call expectation verse 15 where David describes how he fixes his eyes upon God that is looking to God expectedly to see what God is going to do my eyes. He says art ever on the Lord.

If we want to be taught, led by God. We have to get into the habit of looking to irregularly now. Each of those four characteristics has to be possessed and practiced by us.

If we are to grow. I think this is the note All men's remember what I was talking about the acrostic pattern earlier I pointed out that 22nd verse the final verse doesn't fit versus all follow this acrostic pattern. Verse 21 begins with the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet tile and then you've got 22 tacked on. Moreover, even the subject matter doesn't seem to fit the earlier what you have is a very personal prayer of David and Alan verse 22. Suddenly, Israel's right-hand redeem Israel, oh God with all their troubles not talk about that before this point is I mean it doesn't really belong been added somehow erroneously no I don't think so. I think it's deliberate because the effect of accuracy is to take what David is said about himself and where David is made for himself now to the client all Israel because he say this this this pattern of thought, a relationship to God, which I'm cultivating. I want to be true of all the people and that this verse. The last broadens it to include all of Israel than it is broadened to include us as well is in place of Israel. You can put your own name. Redeem me. Oh God from all my troubles and do it in this way you come that way.

This is a Psalm of wisdom tells you how to come. How you should relate to God. Well, then God will do it and he will lead you in the way that you should go right. Father, we confess that we are very poor in wisdom when it comes to spiritual things like giant faith, and when we read a Psalm like that David himself work through what it really means to be instructed by you and to walk in your way. We realize that we are only at the beginning of that path father by your grace.

We have trusted in Jesus Christ. We are on it. That's the important thing in your leading us and that's important. And so we want to move on along the path of discipleship following Jesus Christ it was that spirit in which we can grow humble spirit, obedient spirit, a reverential spirit and an expectant one, so that as we come before you in that way we might actually be part of you and find that we persevere in this life, going on to the end and so find ourselves in that final day, not ashamed or letdown or humbled by a disappointment but rather having demonstrated in our lives before the world and the angels that you really are the foundation upon which a wise man builds and is not disappointed to pray that the name of Christ are. Thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars and churchmen who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the reformed faith and who proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a reformed awakening in today's church.

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