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Low Deeds in High Places

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
November 30, 2021 7:00 am

Low Deeds in High Places

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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November 30, 2021 7:00 am

We may become a little uneasy when we read David’s Psalms calling down God’s judgement on his enemies. Today on The Bible Study Hour we are studying Psalm 58. David’s appeal here is a little different than it has been in previous Psalms we’ve studied; this time, he cries out against the wickedness of Israel’s leaders for the sake of the righteous, not just for himself.

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We may become a little uneasy when we read David Solms calling down God's judgment on his enemies today on the Bible study. Our were studying Psalm 58 David's appeal. Here is a little different than it has been in previous Psalms, we've studied this time he cries out against the wickedness of Israel's leaders for the sake of the righteous, not just for himself and to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically, only God has the right to avenge the promises that in his own time and in his own way. The wicked will be punished.

What should our attitude be and how should we pray, concerning those who pervert justice turn with us to Psalm 58 as we explore David's prayer Marissa time in America's political history. When a person would read this all men are mouthing. It was almost unreal, at least so far as describing conditions among the leaders of the United States following a long way, but in those earlier days of our political history. There were men and women of character in positions of responsibility and while I wouldn't deny for a moment that there still are certainly the political climate is training is not just Christians who say that the secular world also looks on, says where obviously M. Of widespread decline among the leadership of this nation. Washington Post year or so ago was talking about common decency and it said common decency can no longer be described as common, new Republic magazine was riding along the same lines about the same time and said there's a destructive sense that nothing is true and everything is permitted on 4 April 1991 Chuck Colson gave an address at the business school at Harvard University short time before this, the business school and established a chair on ethics which was a very interesting thing for the business school to go.

There was a sense among the leadership in the Dean's slab this problem. I'm describing moral decline among the leadership of this country is a serious matter and therefore should be in rest of the University level and so this chair of ethics was established. Chuck Colson had said at the time, and I quote Harvard's philosophical relativism precludes the teaching of ethics. SAG was impossible to do well.

Harvard is a genuinely liberal institution and so they got in touch with Colson and ask him to common given address of the subject of ethics. He was willing to accept what he did so with great trepidation because very long before the Nobel prize-winning neurobiologist surgeon John Echols had been brewed when he suggested just mildly, though we can account for brain cells through evolution, consciousness of the mind is something that has to come from God, say something like that of my contacts was worthy of hoots and hollers. So Colson accepted the invitation, but he says he expected the worst actually got a very respectful hearing because he began as anybody would naturally begin with a topic like this, like examples of the kind of moral depravity and the climber saying all about us every day. Here's what he spoke of the Keating 55 United States senators were tried and affected by their own tribunal or complicity in the Savings and Loan scandal, Sen. Dave Doran Berger was known by Colson. He was censured by the Senate, Marion Barry, former Mayor Washington DC, the District of Columbia, he was arrested for drug use. Congressman will been turned out of office by discourse and perhaps most reprehensible of all of the time. The hub scandal where people were actually ripping off large sums of money from funds that had been set aside by law for the pool course was April 1991. We have had a year and 1/2 since the end of the last week we could give many examples.

Today the close of the time because I haven't happened yet, but Markey mentioned this a recent press release in which the Department of Justice boasted that in 1990 they had prosecuted and convicted 1500 public officials. The highest number in the history of the country and they were boasting about they got molding scoundrels 1500 of all, it's a sad commentary on the corruption that has become epidemic in American life. Now the audience of her cousins address of Harvard were more or less apathetic were there. They didn't go but they hardly knew how to get engaged either and I suppose that's the way most Americans are weak or apathetic because we tend to say in our database. It seems to me we tend to cite just human nature. That's the way things are in a course, there's some truth to that, because that is what human nature is what were talking about when we talk about Original Sin nature is corrupt.

It was GK Chesterton who said that the doctrine of original sin is the only philosophy that is been imperative leave verified by 3500 years of world history. So we acknowledge right off people or bankers evil and this is an expression of an estimate that is quite a different thing from being apathetic and simply setting back and allowing it to take its course. You know, whenever we take that stance me in one way or another endorsement we say well it's all right because after all, human nature, it's a way everyone is doing and also we run the danger ourselves, because what happens in a climate like that is that we get drawn into it ourselves.

We find ourselves signed not just the right is out.

You have to act that way if you're going to succeed in business or succeed in politics or make it in the academic world, or some such thing. Now Islam stands against black were going to take the wording of the Psalm at face value.

That is exactly what the kingdom was like in the days of David Ingersoll was occurring at this time there was that kind of corruption was very very bad. David didn't say all he could of biblical theology where all the way things are and all that's Original Sin you just have to learn to live with and do anything of the sort.

Instead, he cries out against it in what is actually a great cry of malediction against evil of his day. I sometimes mention JJ Stewart Perrone is one of the great old commentators is what he says about the Psalm. The Psalm is a better protest against unrighteous judges opens with an indignant text postulation on their deliberate perversion of justice while they pretend uphold its ways bear their character and that of those who may favor is been thoroughly, habitually, by their very nature, corrupt, and finally because they are thus beyond all hope of correction or amendment to calls upon God to rob them of their power and to bring all their councils to not, I would suggest that it's entirely appropriate for Christians in our day to pray that way about government. We say that song 58 is an imprecatory song title that's given to Solms in which the writer asked God to meet justice on the ungodly bring them down. Sometimes the Psalms do it in very violent language people today read. We got a little uneasy when we read these things because while we been taught by Jesus to turn the other cheek been taught to forgive our enemies. All that is true, we don't want to minimize that of the slightest legislators a great deal of difference between me turning my cheek when somebody hits me my being pass when I see somebody get you and is also the fact of responsibility in certain elected offices. What would you think of a policeman to see somebody take a got into somebody else does nothing about it because he says Alexis the way things are. You know it's an evil evil world. And besides, I've been taught to forgive say this policeman's job exercise justice and that he doesn't do it, he's accountable for his failure to maintain order in so far as he is able and the same thing is true of those in high positions of office now. That's what David is you say David later on in his life as a king and what he's doing here is talking about injustice of these higher levels of the government is asking God to do something about putting himself on the side of God with righteousness over against the side of the wickedness that he sees in his day and then there's this about these imprecatory Psalms may be the only reason we find ourselves not quite able to express our thoughts and exactly that kind of language but we should remember that at least we should be caused by them to examine ourselves, to make sure that were not like that say here's David talking about those who are habitual offenders. People who are impervious to correction. Well, we should make sure that we are not habitual offenders and impervious to correction and that we should pray that God will give his ears to hear what the Holy Spirit of correction says to us in order that our lives might move in the direction righteousness, we analyze the song. How do we divided up while I think the stanzas of the new international version of very good way of handling this. Three of them versus one through five.

From the first stanza six through eight second verses nine through 11, the third first stanza actually falls into two parts, because the first two verses sees unjust rulers are addressed directly and then in verses three through five are described, but altogether that's the description of the wicked. That's really what the first section is about the second stanza, which I called verses six through eight is the malediction Parkinson's, where David asked God to bring justice upon them to afflict them to bring their plans to mock and then finally the last stanza really the climaxes wonderful prophecy of what's going to happen.

David is so sure that God rules the earth that when he prays adjustments will be done.

If you're the justice will be. As always, as the day is coming when were going to see the justices dotted to get the verse 11. It's a wonderful climax, then men will say surely righteous storyboard and surely there is a God of judges in the earth, look at this first stanza is first answer is a rebuke of these corrupt rulers of his day in the first two verses there addressed directly.

I don't always like to point out when their difficulties in translation because it's not always helpful, but there is a difficulty here is a matter fact this is a difficult song to translate him. Many people think maybe there are errors in the transmission of the text in verse one. Also, perhaps in verse nine, and a few other places that may be the difficulty in verse one is this the word that is translated rulers in my very first line do you rulers indeed speak justly is actually the Hebrew word LM which means literally muteness or silence the translators of the King James Bible read it that way. That's the text I have, I might add that the text we still have. That's what the word is and so that King James translators tried to do justice to the idea of silence doesn't fit in real well but they came up with this, they said, do you indeed speak righteousness you silent ones. I didn't seem quite right to some of the modern translators and slowly looked at that rather carefully and they said well that word LM in the Hebrew is very close to the word Elohim Elohim means God's. It's one of the word that is used for God. It's a plural form of the word L but sometimes it's applied to human beings, especially rulers limits usually translated you rulers you mighty ones and obviously that's what the new international version translators did. They said this must be a corrupt word must really be Elohim, it occurs that way. Elsewhere in the Psalms and so you get the translation we have in the new international version.

Do you rulers indeed speak justly now. I'm not sure that it's possible to resolve that it is quite possible that there would be a small error in the transmission of the text of this one word, but I am always inclined to go with the text we have was there very good reasons, or perhaps a textual variant so we have it in another form somewhere else, which is not the case here and if you take the word as it really stands in the Hebrew text my Hebrew Bible.

I use that as the word LM and it's translated where they do it between the lines as you silent ones that's the case, and this is making a very serious point of saying that these people who are appointed to deal justly and to speak righteously actually are silent when they need to speak up. I mentioned Perrone a few minutes ago.

The older translator.

He has an interesting comment comparing that first with what said later in another are likes cobra that stopped at Sears and can hear Perrone said there done when they are to speak afterwards their death.

When I got here. That's a lot of what sin is like we don't listen when we should. And when we got to speak up and say something for righteousness. We don't. I suppose at that point we have to ask ourselves a question we should say because this is the way we have to apply it.

Are we ever in a position of remaining silent when we ought to stand up and speak for the truth, I'm sure we are one of the problems with our society.

We've got a kind of laissez-faire society. Let everybody do their thing. If he wants to do something bad something bad that happens corporately and judgments are made in the name of the lender and organization. The perhaps the individual himself would never make things really change rightly if you just have a righteous person there that will stand up at the right moment and say I don't think that's right. I know people who've done that incorporations will even identify their position as a Christian position later say something like this.

They say I hear what's going on. I just gotta say I'm a Christian from my perspective, I don't think that's right way.but I don't think that's a fair thing to do and often things are turned around because somebody will have the courage to do exactly that. You may recall when Jeremiah's life was saved. The limitation by Amanda did that he had some enemies that came to the king as a result of that, he was thrown into a cistern. He was about to die there in the cistern one righteous man. His name was Edward Melick and he wasn't even a Jew. It was a Cushite game with a cane and said look, Jeremiah's going to die.

That's not right is a prophet? That happened and so the king gave an order and they hold about. So the life of the prophet Jeremiah was safe now. If that word is to be retained in this is obvious.

Meeting the idea of silence, then there is a first important message of the song now in this descriptive section of this first stanza. David levels to damaging accusations against the rulers, first of all, verse three. They are evil from their birth. I was thinking of a special class of evildoers. Here is very evident as you read out that that's what he saying I'm talking about occasional wrongdoers. He's certainly not talking about the righteously starting about people made a habit of this, as it were. From the very moment they were born. How blessed we excuse ourselves at that point and say well it doesn't have anything to say to us because is not referring everybody and I technologies not let's remember, however, that when were thinking in Christian terms. We are sinners from our birth. David himself set the 51st Psalms of the few songs before that, he said surely I have been a sinner from both simple. From the time my mother conceived maybe meant that there was never a moment in his life going back to the moment of conception when he was not a sinner.

It was always a sinner that is true as well. That is true of us and we have to say God by your grace, keep me from continuing and that might help me be what you would have me be cycling.

He says about these people in this descriptive section versus foreign five is that they don't listen to appeals to act differently uncharacteristic of the Psalm is its vivid imagery and we have one of these vivid images here as David describes these unjust rulers and snakes. Now that's not an uncommon image with us we sometimes use that of a particularly devious personal sale. Let's make well that's not exactly the way David uses it, but it is the image she has two ideas. He gets from and one is that snakes when they bite you inject venom. Poison and we know he is thought this way because in the earlier Psalm is been thinking of how words kill saying people like this killed by words. And so that's the first thing he gets from the image of any says this is an interesting point. He said there like cobra slick camp here and I won't even hear the tune of the charmer that would control him by his pipe. I told them snakes are actually here very much all know that for a fact I assure you I have never tried to charm cobra. Although I've seen it done.

I been in India but I'm told that is not to that charm slick cobra but it's the motion of the pipe actually follow. That is, that charmer doesn't. But that doesn't make any difference really to the image. What David is saying here is that these people really can't be charmed. They are deaf. Both of the words of man and the words of God. In other words, they don't listen to reason they don't respond to Revelation what you do with a person like that if you reason when you say luck that is not that the best way to operate just like in pragmatic terms.

Evil brings down destruction on its own, head of the government works that way pretty soon you have a dictator. We don't want that sort of thing will listen to that and then you try.

Revelation figure 7 God says in his word that he is the judge of all the earth, and he will he will bring down justice upon the ungodly and the judgment seat of Jesus Christ to be phase 1, that I will listen to that what you do what you do is what David does in the next section. When he begins to speak of judgment and of God himself recognizes that sometimes people want here. He told Ezekiel Son of Man you're living among the rebellious people think God would say that to us today. They have eyes to see, but they do not see and ears to hear, but they do not here because they are a rebellious people is what Isaiah said, you have seen many things, but it paid no attention.

Your ears are open but you hear nothing that's true all of us in our natural state. So we pray the Holy Spirit to give us ears to hear what God has to say to those in the churches that stanza 1002 moves from this description of the wicked in these positions of responsibility, the rulers and the judges of the day prayer that they and their evil might be overthrown by God. Now I said a moment ago that the Psalm is filled with vivid images and you have five of them here in the stanza five images for the wicked, and what David wants God to do its interesting issue. Look at them that they have a certain amount of movement just in these three verses they moved from images that are powerful to what becomes increasingly weak or we would say from what is awe-inspiring to what is merely tragic or side. Very interesting for carrying us along with it. We get the feeling of the true nature of evil when when we when we see it upfront. It appears a terrifying thing but as you begin to think of it in terms of God and God's control of the universe becomes increasingly weak and even tragic. That's the way these things will look at them first of all, the teeth of a lion or six break the teeth in their mouths of God tearout overlord findings of the lion lion is a very fierce animals able to do great damage. David use that image earlier. In fact, he did it in the preceding Psalm you recall Psalm 57 verse four. He described himself as being in the midst of life's ravenous beast now.

Asking God to define these animals break their teeth that are not able to do damage with their teeth got this course is what God did to the armies of Saul, first of all, he protected David from Saul and finally he defeated Saul and his armies in the great battle against the Philistines.

When Saul and Jonathan both killed.

It was after that, David, with his own army, gather the troops of the nation and eventually came to the throne so praying for something that actually happened. Second image.

Here is an image of the water flows away. Water also can be very destructive, especially if it comes as a flood great flood columns are made as the destructive power of water that can sweep away all the villages kills people in its course, but it is also the fact of water. The water flows downhill, and therefore doesn't stick around very long can come in great force. Great destructive damage, but eventually it fades away is gone, soaks into the ground and David said that's what I want you to do with evil. They, like a tidal wave when I want you to let them float away, remove them, so eventually they're gone. Images that a blend of narrow snow arrows are less destructive than the masses of water, there must destructive less fearsome than a lion but nevertheless they do damage. Arrows can wound and kill and so David says these wicked people out there shooting our arrows knowing always thinking of when he says that because in the previous Psalm he identified it with their words, men whose teeth are spears and arrows and stones are sharp sword since it's that kind of outlets being shot. Damage awards you find all through the songs.

David, the other Psalm is a very sensitive to that sound damaging words are. David said as he prays to God.

Bluntly, arrows take away their point when they hit the piercing, wounding and killing. They simply bounce off and nursing to be harmful. You know the time of Absalom's rebellion against his father David prayed that wise counsel about the file might be disregarded and fall on deaf ears. In other words, it might be blunted is exactly what happened because Absalom listened to the Council of Shari instead of ignoring that event at the Fallon as a result of that, he eventually lost zero. David is praying for hearing terms of these things actually happened in his life fourth of these images is of the melting slug all never seen a slug sort of crawling along the cement. You don't see too many of them here in Philadelphia. Only once you do say are actually people but the kind of a slug he has in mind is one of these little creatures that is sliding along the pathway that leaves us in a slimy trail behind it appears to be melting away doesn't actually go the way of course by David's using that as an image and he said see it is images are getting lower and lower in others or something anymore as an ally under a tidal wave or even a narrow. This is a slug that is talking about. He said let them go like that.

Just slide along eventually. They're all gone.

Dried up dead and then I guess that leads him to his final image should see image of a child is born dead recall of the stillbirth of his prayer is that the lives of these evil ones might be nipped at the beginning. I think that image corresponds to his earlier statement in verse three. Because what he said of the wicked. In verse three is that they were evil from their birth. From the very moment of their conception.

Now here he is talking about the stillbirth of what is really saying is that they been evil from birth, they should be cut off birth and so he asked God is at work nipped evil in the bottom, less the malediction part of the last stanza of Islam is a prophecy or as we might better say confidence, statement of the wicked will be judged by God and the righteous be rewarded as the climax of the Saul is a moral climax is a moral and immoral is this even though judgment may tarry long, it will come when it does, where the righteous will be seen to of been right I said earlier that there is a problem in verse nine with the translation of this verse nine is even harder than verse one.

You can find that out for yourself, just through English translations get out various versions of the Old Testament and comparator fighting various translations of this first there's a reason that word that is translated parts in the NIV can mean the plot used for cooking Erica Mina for God has two entirely different meaning. Some of our English words to so that's a puzzle on the intake and then the word that is rendered green, whether they be green or dry can mean green is referring to one that hasn't been dried out Or it can mean law and in that case it is water uncooked meat and of them even need it could have to do with the plotter of the pot should be in translated the floor maybe on to be green if you got a problem succumbing to try to translate data, then in addition the words that he govern all actually there in the text in the NIV zero brackets around it indicates that they are not there.

And then there are few other problems as well. Otherwise it's just very hard to know what verse nine is actually saying and maybe a sense that as you read it when I read it. It just seems to me that doesn't quite fit the rest of the wording of the song before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns whether they be green or dry the wicked will be swept away.

Well, maybe that's exactly what it means but it does seem a bit strange. It does seem like there's a problem to see whether or not there's a problem there.

The general ideas clear enough. It's simple image saying that whatever the plans of the wicked may be before they actually come to the oil God is going to sweep down on them and destroy them altogether.

That's what it say say I said a moment ago that leads to the climax that is climax.

That's verse 11. Then when that happens, men are going to say. Surely the righteous still rewarded. Surely there is a God judges the earth only say about the climax at something that's worth remembering. The reason I say it's worth remembering as it is very easy for us to forget, especially in the kind of world in which we live, we live in a kind of world when again and again the righteous are not rewarded those who are wicked. Do triumph, taking a short view of course is what we see now we don't see that hereafter, but because all we can see is that now that's the way we begin to think that we forget that this is true, what we have to do what we will do it if we remember the word of God is take a long range perspective and understand, things may seem different.

For a time.

In the end God nevertheless does rule in his world injustices done and therefore we remember that were going to take our stand on the side of the righteous.

Regardless of the consequences that may come. I like to nail this down a certain way and to do that.

I want you to look back to the title of the song. Those are words that are printed before the storm itself in slightly smaller letters.

I want you to look at the very last word.

There is a word Mick Tom nobody knows exactly what Mick Tom means are a number of words, like that of the titles of the Psalms, and that's why they're put there in a transliteration of the Hebrew rather than in the translation of a new with the translation was to be. They do it but I don't and so they say. Mick Tom now let me get as close to it as I can word Mick Tom actually has its root of the verb means to engrave doesn't mean like engraving steel plates. It is like writing might great install owner without a message that wife. Apparently, the translators of the Septuagint.

That's the Greek version of the Old Testament done about 100 or 200 years before Christ understood it that way because the word they used to translated in the Septuagint, the state of Mafia raffia means to rights for writing. We got our graphics from within the steel I was steel that's not steel as in metal that's like a stone, upon which you do writing so this is stenographic. In another words it written in stone and commentators is name is John Jim.

I don't even have his book but is quoted by Charles Spurgeon says you know word Mick Tom appears in the titles of four of the six Psalms written by David. During these years when he was hiding from Saul in the cave of Waterloo.

He says what is there to keep us from thinking that when the Psalms are introduced as a Megatron. They were actually Psalms were written by David stone walls of the cave actually engraved in stone around. I found that interesting because I was thinking of David earlier when I was doing earlier Psalms thinking of and their hiding from somber apps along these 400 men beginning to trickle in, one by one, and I was imagining him occupying the time writing song, but it did occur to me where in the world would get the parchment thinking be mostly concerned about food or weapons or something like that. What's he doing writing these things that maybe he's writing them on the walls of the cave that would be understandable admit it would be why you call in the top I don't know that's true. That's an interesting suggestion by this ancient writer Jim, I do know this. Whether that's what David did or not these words especially the conclusion summary out of the engraving on our hearts to be in our minds and hearts to such a degree that we never find ourselves actually forgetting sure yourself on the basis of God's revelation of the righteous still are rewarded and that there is a God who judges the earth when he said this to make sure that you stand forming your stand on the side of righteousness.

Do what's right. Christians are called to do. That's the meaning of history and God do right regardless of the consequences that you're calling that's what you were to do if you are a follower of Jesus Christ talking about Chuck Colson and I want to go back to that now because there are some things he said to the very end of the address that he gave the Harvard business school in 1991 that make this point he ended on that note, he was giving his testimony in the latter half of his addressing the same he had always thought that he was able to do what was right when he got into a position of great power. He found that he didn't have the will to do it was suggesting that they would neither and so what I needed was to find Jesus Christ alone can give them a character stand up against the evil of the day. Here's Colson's testimony, even the most rational approach to ethics is defenseless. If there isn't the will to do what is right on my own might only speak for myself.

I do not have that will which I want to do. I do not that which I do.

I do not want to do so only when I can turn the one we celebrated Easter one was raised from the dead.

I can find the will to do what is right. It's only when that value. In that sense of righteousness pervade a society that there can never be a moral consensus. I hope I might leave you this future business leaders thought that a society in which we are apart, and for which you should have a great sense of responsibility and stewardship desperately needs those kinds of values.

If I may say so.

Each one of us does as well, which I say a man with prayer father, we thank you for the sound that we studied and we thank you for this great testimony of Chuck Colson is found in both the evil on the one hand, as it's described by David and also the need for righteousness.

On the other to be emphatically true by his own life and service of government.

We would first of all, begin by looking at ourselves, give us the character necessary to stand for truth, goodness and righteousness of a corrupt world which we don't always have don't have the will to do that we have to receive it from you. We have to be willing to pay the price of that kind of obedience. Especially when we have positions of responsibility, grant that we may do it and them over and beyond that, as we pray for our leaders, we ask that you would give us people who have that kind of character we pray the same time that you would bring to mock the plans machinations of those who do not say thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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