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Fascinating study of the first 40 Psalms of the bible and how they correlate to the book of Genesis. This work is a continuation and completion, if you will, of the work done by Dr. Bullinger on this subject. There is much to discover here that we consider to be very illuminating in the study of scripture.
Category - Long Book
Fifteen is the number of new direction.
The fifteenth psalm is Psalm 16. Psalm 15 speaks of entering God's rest when we dwell on God's holy hill. This is a new direction from the normal walk of the carnal man. Even as eight follows the perfect cycle of seven and is the number of new beginnings, so also 15 follows 14 (the second cycle of seven).
The first section of the Psalms began with the perfect man in the garden and ended with Noah's flood. Section two began with Nimrod the Rebel and ended with Isaac the obedient servant, the type of Christ who came to redeem rebellious man. Section three of the Genesis Book of Psalms, beginning with Psalm 16 (KJV), focuses more upon the perfect man, Jesus Christ and His redemptive work on the Cross.
Psalm 16 is entitled, “A Michtam of David,” that is, it is an atonement psalm.
Michtam literally means “engraven,” as letters might be chiseled in stone. The atonement portrayed in Scripture is a truth “set in stone.” It speaks of Isaac's deliverance from death when his father offered him to God as a sacrifice in Gen. 22. His deliverance from death—a type of resurrection—brought him into “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). This change indicates a “new direction,” which is the meaning of the number fifteen.
Isaac was a type of Christ in that His heavenly Father sent Him into the world to die for the sin of the world (1 John 2:2). But Isaac is also a type of the believer who was spared from death by the Lamb that the Father provided (Gen. 22:13).
Psalm 16:1 says, “Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in Thee.” It reflects how God preserved the life of Isaac. It reflects the life of both David and Jesus, for verses 8-11 says,
8 I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely. 10 For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay. 11 Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy; in Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.
The entire passage is quoted in Acts 2:25-28 in Peter's Pentecostal sermon and applied to Christ, particularly His resurrection. He would not be abandoned in Sheol (the grave), because “Thou wilt make known to me the path of life” (i.e., how to attain the resurrection and immortality). These are words of faith and hope that God would turn the situation around and bring life out of death.
But this prophecy of Christ also looks back to Isaac, who is the primary type of Christ in that he was placed upon the altar as a Sacrifice. And so Psalm 16 reflects the thought and experience of Isaac. Most people have not considered Isaac's faith in this matter, because he is usually pictured as a small child when his father brought him to Mount Moriah. However, he was old enough to carry the large amount of wood that would have been required for a burnt offering (Gen. 22:6).
The book of Jasher tells us that Isaac went to Mount Moriah with joy, knowing that he was to be the sacrifice. Jasher 23:52 says,
52 And Isaac said unto his father, I will do all that the Lord spoke to thee with joy and cheerfulness of heart.
Jesus' purpose in coming to earth was to die on the cross for the sin of the world. Like Isaac, He did so with joy. Heb. 12:2 says,
2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, the despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
This same joy was in David when he wrote in Psalm 16:11,
11 Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy; in Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.
Isaac went to Moriah with joy. David went through his crucifixion-type experience (2 Sam. 15:30) with joy. And Jesus went to the cross with joy. Is it not a paradox that joy and sorrow may be felt at the same time? The reason is the hope of resurrection, which reverses the downward slide toward death. When one can see the other side of death that goes upward into the light of immortality, one can face death with joy and without fear.
Sixteen is the number of Love.
The sixteenth psalm is Psalm 17. It is entitled, “A Prayer of David.” Psalm 17 is a logical progression from Psalm 16. In Psalm 16:10 David says, “Thou wilt not abandon my soul in Sheol;” and Psalm 17 concludes in verse 15 saying, “As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Thy likeness when I awake.”
Like Psalm 16, the seventeenth Psalm looks back to Abraham's great test of faith when God asked him to put his son Isaac upon the altar. But Psalm 17 (which is the sixteenth psalm) portrays this not so much a test of faith as a test of LOVE. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. But when we come to a choice between the two, we are to love God first, and man second. It is a matter of priority. Thus, God tested Abraham in Gen. 22:2,
2 And He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son, WHOM YOU LOVE, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.
Abraham's love of God was tested as much as his faith. Many people claim to love God, and this is good. But it is equally true that when their love is tested by priorities in life, their love for God is not at the top of their list. God tested Abraham's priorities by asking him to give up that which he loved the most. Not only was this a test of a father's love, but also a test of his willingness to give up all his hopes and dreams and even the very promises of God.
Abraham's love for God proved to be stronger than his love for Isaac. But often overlooked in this story is the fact that the incident also proved the love that was in Isaac's heart. Remember, he was 37 years old, and Abraham was 137. Abraham did not have the strength to force Isaac upon the altar. But Isaac was willing to die because of his love for God. In this we see a prophetic reflection of Jesus' prayer just before His crucifixion in John 17:24-26,
24 Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world... 26 And I have made Thy name known to them, and will make it known; that the love wherewith Thou didst love Me, may be in them, and I in them.
Earlier that same evening, Jesus told the disciples in John 14:30, 31,
30 I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; 31 but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do.”
Jesus went to the cross “that the world may know that I love the Father.” The Father had sent Him to the earth for this very purpose, and Jesus' motive in going to the cross willingly and joyfully was His LOVE for the Father. Like Isaac, Jesus' it was not merely Jesus' FAITH that was being tested—faith that the Father had purpose in His death. It was not merely Jesus' HOPE that was being tested—hope that the Father would raise Him from the dead. It was also His LOVE being tested. This was the greatest test of all, because “ now abide faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love ” (1 Cor. 13:13). This aspect is often overlooked, because we do not understand the meaning of the number sixteen and its relationship to Psalm 17. Thus also, Psalm 17:3 says,
3 Thou hast tried my heart; Thou hast visited me by night; Thou hast tested me and dost find nothing. I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
Jesus had passed all the tests required of him, even as Abraham had passed his ultimate test on Mount Moriah. Though nothing is said about Abraham's emotional reaction to God's command, we can be sure that Abraham was as human as the rest of us. This could only have been his Gethsemane experience, for to offer up Isaac was far more of a test than if God had asked Abraham to place himself upon the altar. To place himself upon the altar would have tested his faith and hope. But to place his beloved son upon the altar was primarily a test of love.
Psalm 17 was written out of David's experience as well. For David himself, his Gethsemane experience came when his son Absalom usurped his throne with the help of Ahithophel, David's counselor and friend (2 Sam. 15:12). David did not fight for his throne, but left Jerusalem. 2 Sam. 15:30-32 says,
30 And David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went, and his head was covered and he walked barefoot. Then all the people who were with him each covered his head and went up weeping as they went.... 32 It happened as David was coming to the summit [Heb. rosh, “head, skull, top”], where God was worshiped, that behold, Hushai the Archite met him with his coat torn, and dust on his head.
David's place of sacrifice was at the “summit,” or literally, “head,” the place of the skull, called in the New Testament, “ Golgotha ” (Matt. 27:33). Jesus would walk up that same hill of sorrow many years later and would make the ultimate sacrifice on its summit, or skull, according to the prophetic pattern in David's experience.
Psalm 17:7-12 describes those who persecuted David, who were also prophetic of the chief priests who hated Jesus and persecuted Him unjustly.
7 Wondrously show thy loving kindness, O Savior of those who take refuge at Thy right hand, from those who rise up against them. 8 Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of Thy wings, 9 from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me. 10 They have closed their unfeeling heart; with their mouth they speak proudly, 11 They have now surrounded us in our steps; they set their eyes to cast us down to the ground. 12 He is like a lion that is eager to tear, and as a young lion lurking in hiding places.
Absalom was the “young lion” who was “eager to tear.” As David's son, he was of the tribe of Judah, pictured as a young lion (Gen. 49:9). Absalom was not chosen to rule, for David had chosen Solomon to rule. But Absalom disagreed with his father's choice. Thus, he conspired against the king to seize the throne. He did so with the help of David's friend, Ahithophel.
All of this was prophetic of what would happen to Jesus, the “Son of David” in the New Testament. The part of Absalom, the usurper, was played by the chief priests, who wanted to kill Him and seize His inheritance (Matt. 21:38). These are the “deadly enemies” in Jesus' day, prophesied above in Psalm 17:10.
Jesus' enemies are exposed further in His parable in Luke 19:12-27. The nobleman is Jesus; the servants are His disciples; and the “citizens” are His enemies. Verse 14 says,
14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, “We do not want this man to reign over us.”
In other words, the people (that is, their priestly rulers who represented them) prayed to God, telling Him that they did not want Jesus to reign over them. They had rejected Jesus as king. Later in the parable, after the servants were given their various rewards, we finally come to the divine verdict that settles this dispute. Verse 27 says,
27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.
Yes, Jesus had enemies, even as David had enemies. And in both stories, they were betrayed by their friends. Ahithophel betrayed David (2 Sam. 15:12), and Judas betrayed Jesus (Matt. 26:49, 50). Both Ahithophel and Judas later committed suicide by hanging themselves (2 Sam. 17:23; Matt. 27:5).
In order to understand this aspect of prophecy, one must know how Absalom usurped David's throne with the help of Ahithophel—and how it prophesied of the chief priests usurping Christ's throne with the help of Judas. This story forms the setting for the event in David's life, which he so often wrote about in the psalms, and it set the tone for the New Testament events in Jesus' life as well.
But the crucifixion was not the end of the story, for Jesus' faith and hope was realized when He rose from the dead. Thus, Psalm 17:15 concludes,
15 As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Thy likeness when I awake.
“When I awake” prophesies of Christ's resurrection in power and glory. It also prophesies of the future resurrection of the saints when they too awake in the likeness of Christ. In the case of Abraham's test, Isaac was placed upon the altar of death, but then the lamb was given as a substitute. In like manner, all believers are identified with Christ in His death, in order that they may also be identified with His resurrection life. Rom. 6:5 says,
5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.
Psalm 17 ends with the postscript, “To the chief Musician.”
Seventeen is the number of victory.
The seventeenth psalm is Psalm 18. The long heading for Psalm 18 reads,
“A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord who spoke unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said:”
The original form of this psalm is recorded in 2 Sam. 22. The form we have in Psalm 18 is a slight alteration of it. Psalm 18 was written primarily to commemorate David's deliverance from all of his enemies, including King Saul who had been the first to persecute and oppress him.
Psalm 18:1 begins with David's statement, “I love Thee, O Lord, my strength.”
What better way of portraying the fact that victory (17) comes only after love (16) has been perfected!
It is a victory song, as the title indicates, not only for David himself, but also for Isaac in the book of Genesis, for Jesus when He was raised from the dead, and for the overcomers in the first resurrection. When Saul was killed by the Philistines, it was God's way of delivering David. But this was not a “victory” for David, for he mourned for Saul and for Jonathan, his friend who was also killed at the same time. The victory is really over death, not over Saul. The great enemy was not really Saul who had been trying to kill him, but death itself, which Paul calls “the last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26). And so Psalm 18:3-6 says,
3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. 4 The cords of death encompassed me, and the torrents of ungodliness terrified me. 5 The cords of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears.
The fact that this prophesied of Christ is made abundantly clear in the next verse, which says,
7 Then the earth shook and quaked; and the foundations of the mountains were trembling and were shaken, because He was angry.
When Jesus died, the earth shook and quaked (Matt. 27:51), and this tore the veil in the temple. Later, when He rose from the dead there was another earthquake that rolled the stone away from the tomb (Matt. 28:2). Thus Christ was delivered from death and rose victoriously, according to the prayer of David.
Psalm 18 is also applicable to the Body of Christ, for in the book of Acts we read the story of how the chief priests of the temple persecuted the early Church and ultimately drove them out of the land. Thus, we see in Psalm 18:2 that the Lord is a “rock,” a “fortress,” a “refuge,” and a “shield” against the oppression of the enemy.
Psalm 18:7-15 is a poetical description of the Lord coming to deliver, appearing to be “angry” and with smoke coming out of his nostrils. It brings hope of deliverance, as in verses 16 and 17,
17 He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. 17 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.
Psalm 18:46, 47 continues the theme of deliverance from his enemies, saying,
46 The God who executes vengeance for me and subdues peoples under me, 47 He delivers me from my enemies; surely Thou dost lift me above those who rise up against me; Thou dost rescue me from the violent man.
The law says that we are not to take vengeance upon those who wrong us (Deut. 32:35). We are to let God do it in His way, which is by overcoming evil with good (Rom. 12:19-21). This is the way God executes “vengeance” upon His enemies. As we showed in our commentary on Psalm 17, Jesus defined His enemies in Luke 19:27,
27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.
This parable spoke directly about those who hated Christ and who plotted to kill him and seize His inheritance (Matt. 21:38). In plain language, it was speaking of the Jewish priests and those induced by them to reject Him as King and Messiah.
In Psalm 18:48 David reminds us that Christ and His body have been delivered from “those who rise up against me” (“me” = David or Christ). His enemies are also called “the violent man.” These enemies are portrayed in a clearer manner in the psalms yet to come. But let us make one final point that is important to understand.
God's vengeance is often portrayed carnally, as if God is like a carnal man who gets emotionally angry at His enemies. But a careful reading of the New Testament shows that the “sword” He wields against His enemies is the sword that comes out of His mouth (Rev. 1:16; 19:15). It is, in essence, the tongue, by which the Word of God is spoken.
The Word is the sharp sword (Heb. 4:12), sharper than any carnal weapon formed among men. Carnal swords can only divide the head from the body, while the Word of God can divide soul and spirit, and divides thoughts and intents of the heart. It is the Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). It is a flaming sword, because the Word is also like a fire (Jer. 23:29).
God's sword destroys “the flesh.” Man's sword destroys the body. God's vengeance sends the Holy Spirit upon His enemies. Man's vengeance sends an evil spirit upon his enemies. The Hebrew word translated “vengeance” in Psalm 18:46 is naqam. It is nearly the same word as nakam, “comfort.” The New Testament name for the “Comforter” (John 16:7) is meant to convey the idea of this Hebrew word, nakam. It is the name of the prophet Nahum, who speaks of the avenging God (Nahum 1:2), but when applied by the Prince of Peace, it is a baptism of fire that burns the flesh, but brings the Comforter to mankind.
Hence, there are two ways to take “vengeance” upon others. There is man's carnal sword, which brings only death and destruction; and there is God's sword which can discern the difference between “the flesh” and “the body” and is sharp enough to separate the two. This sharp sword is able to destroy the flesh without killing people. It is the weapon of choice to all those who are Spirit-filled.
Psalm 18:50 concludes,
50 He gives great deliverance to His king, and shows lovingkindness to His Anointed [Messiah], to David and his descendants forever.
The victory here is given to Christ, to David, and also to their seed. This ultimately finds its fulfillment in the overcomers, the people who have gone beyond Pentecost into the Feast of Tabernacles. Such people, if they have lived in past generations, will be raised in the first resurrection. Those who are alive at the time of the resurrection will simply be changed into His likeness without seeing death.
The violent men of this present age have usurped the throne in the Kingdom, but God will give the Kingdom to the Prince of Peace in the Age to Come. Those who are in His image (lamb-like) will rule with Him in that time, after having been oppressed and threatened with death in the present age. Psalm 18:43 and 44 prophesies of these who are given authority over the nations.
43 Thou hast delivered me from the contentions of the people; Thou hast placed me as head of the nations; a people whom I have not known serve me. 44 As soon as they hear, they obey me; foreigners submit to me.
These are the rulers that God has chosen and prepared to rule with justice and equity. These will not oppress His creation, nor put them into bondage without due process of law. These will not be like King Saul nor like any of the enemies of David and Christ. And so Psalm 18 is written to commemorate the end of oppression by Saul and all other enemies of righteous government.
The Postscript to Psalm 18 says, “To the chief Musician.”
Eighteen is the number of oppression or bondage.
The eighteenth psalm is Psalm 19. It is entitled, “A Psalm of David.” Psalm 19 declares “the glory of God” as revealed in the story of Jacob's dream at Bethel when he was on his journey to Haran. Remember that when Jacob arrived at Bethel the first time, he was fleeing from his brother, Esau. Jacob was still carnal, for his name had not yet been changed to Israel.
Even so, as he slept at Bethel, he had a revelatory dream in which he saw the angels of God ascending and descending upon him. The opening phrase in the psalm, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God,” carries a gematria of 888, which is the same as Jesus' name in Greek. Thus, Jesus is the glory of God revealed by the heavens and manifested in the world. We can therefore say that this dream was a revelation of Jesus Christ to Jacob. This is confirmed by Jesus' own words to Nathaniel in John 1:51,
51 And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. ”
Jacob did not know it, but he was in bondage to his own carnal mind. The heavens had not yet descended upon him with the revelation that he needed to fulfill his calling. He thought that God needed his help in fulfilling the promise given in Gen. 25:23 before the twins were even born that “ the older shall serve the younger.” When Jacob and his mother saw Isaac about to give the blessing to Esau, they panicked and decided to trick Isaac into giving the blessing to Jacob. Jacob did not yet understand that one cannot fulfill the promises of God by the power of the flesh or by unlawful means (in this case, lying).
It was only when Jacob was 98 years old, on his way home from Haran, that he came to understand the sovereignty of God while wrestling with the angel. Then God gave him the name Israel, which means “God Rules.”
But at Bethel, Jacob was still in bondage to the fleshly mind and needed a greater revelation of the mind of God and His law. Thus, Psalm 19 first declares that the glory of God has gone forth into the whole earth. Then the last half of the psalm declares the mind of God as set forth in the perfect law. Beginning in verse 7 we read,
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
The law was the foundational word that God had given Israel in the time of David. It was their gospel (Heb. 4:2). God spoke, and those with ears to hear were those who had faith. David thus celebrates the law as the gospel seed through which the heavens may declare the glory of God in us.
To fully appreciate this celebration of the giving of the law, one must understand that Jacob's wilderness journey runs directly parallel to Israel 's wilderness journey under Moses. This subject is fully discussed in chapter 4 of my book, The Laws of the Second Coming. I show there that Jacob's journey set the pattern of the feast days as follows:
Jacob at Beersheba (Gen. 28:10) Passover
Jacob at Bethel (Gen. 28:19) Pentecost
Jacob in Haran (Gen. 28:10) (interim)
Jacob at Mahanaim (Gen. 32:2) Feast of Trumpets
Jacob at Penuel (Gen. 32:31) Day of Atonement or Jubilee
Jacob at Succoth (Gen. 33:17) Feast of Tabernacles
According to this pattern, Jacob's Pentecostal experience came when he was at Bethel. His dream was the revelation of the glory of God. But Pentecost was also Israel 's celebration of the giving of the law at Mount Sinai, when God spoke to them. Thus, in the last half of Psalm 19 David celebrates the law.
The fact that this was Jacob's Pentecost is evident because Jacob made a vow to God (Gen. 28:20-22). Many years later, Israel also made a vow at Mount Sinai, saying in Ex. 19:8, “All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do.” Whereas Passover speaks of justification by faith alone, Pentecost speaks of learning obedience as we hear His voice and are led by the Spirit.
And so, we see that Psalm 19 looks back to Jacob's Bethel-Pentecost experience, while also prophesying of the Pentecost that was yet to come in Acts 2. In both cases, the purpose of Pentecost was the same—to teach obedience and to write the law upon our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. Even as Passover speaks of justification by faith alone, so also Pentecost speaks of the fire of the Spirit by which He teaches obedience to those who are justified. This is the purpose of the law—to teach believers the difference between right and wrong and make the distinction between sin and righteousness.
The purpose of the giving of the law was the same for both Jacob and his descendants, the nation of Israel. Paul says that “ through the law comes the knowledge of sin ” (Rom. 3:20). Without the law, we would have no standard by which to know if some course of action or attitude is a sin before God. Paul says again in Rom. 7:7,
7 … On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
That purpose is expressed in Psalm 19:11, 12,
11 Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
The purpose of the law is to warn us and give us some criteria by which to discern our errors, particularly our hidden faults. The number 18 is composed of two Hebrew letters: yod (hand, or work) and chet (fence). It pictures the outworking of the fence or wall, which puts men into bondage to their own works, or their ability to be righteous by the power of the carnal mind. The fence indicates an inner room with “hidden faults.”
Some sins are obvious to us simply because our culture is based upon the more obvious beliefs of right and wrong. However, there are areas of worldly culture that give us no twinge of conscience, and yet God calls these things “sin.” These make up many of the “hidden faults” of which we are ignorant.
And so, God gave Jacob a pre-Pentecostal experience at Bethel. Its purpose was to begin to teach Him obedience. This was the purpose of the law that was later given in Moses' day to the nation of Israel. Unfortunately, the nature of the Old Covenant was such that it was written on external tables of stone. The laws therefore had to be imposed upon the people from the outside. And so this put the people into bondage to the “works of the law.”
The New Covenant, on the other hand, makes God responsible to write those laws upon our hearts (Heb. 8:10) by the power of the Holy Spirit. The New Covenant writes the same laws (Ex. 34:1) upon our hearts that were imposed externally upon Israel through the Old Covenant. This is pictured in the fact that Moses received the law twice. The first time, he broke the tablets (Ex. 32:19); the second time, the tablets were not broken (Ex. 34). This speaks of the two covenants by which the law has been given.
Finally, we note that Psalm 19:10 speaks of the judgments of God as being “ more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold.” Fine gold is from the Hebrew word phaz, which is also the root of the name Eliphaz, “my god is fine gold.”
When we connect Psalm 19 with the story of Jacob at Bethel, we must take note that Eliphaz, son of Esau, had just robbed Jacob, leaving him penniless. For this reason he had to work for Laban as a substitute for the dowry for both Leah and Rachel. And so, it is as if Psalm 19 is speaking to Jacob, telling him that the law and judgments of God are more desirable than fine gold—which was the god of Eliphaz.
We could take this one step further by showing that the Hebrew word phaz is composed of two Hebrew letters, peh (mouth or word) and zayin (weapon or to cut). The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. It is the weapon of the mouth, and it is sharp enough to divide soul and spirit, along with the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:12). But such words are also better than fine gold, for they are refined by the fire of the Holy Spirit.
And so Psalm 19:10 gives us divine direction in our priorities. Instead of coveting after fine gold, we should desire the fine gold of God's law and His judgments, which Paul says are “unsearchable” (Rom. 11:33). God was about to deal with Jacob in regard to this heart-issue, this “hidden fault” of the carnal mind.
Psalm 19 ends with the postscript, “To the chief Musician.”
Nineteen is the number of Faith and Hearing.
The nineteenth psalm is Psalm 20. It is entitled, “A Psalm of David.” It looks back to Jacob's first visit to Bethel, where he had his dream of the angels ascending and descending upon him. Though no words seem to have been spoken in the dream, Jacob certainly “heard” the voice of God, for he responded immediately in verse 16 and 17,
16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely, the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
Faith can be generated in those who hear the gospel in this great silent witness of the heavens, even if they have never had opportunity to read the Bible or hear the Gospel from one of Jesus' disciples. Paul makes this clear in Rom. 10:17, 18,
17 So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. 18 But I say, surely they have never heard have they? Indeed they have: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” [quoted from Psalm 19:4]
With Psalm 19, David no doubt recalled his childhood and the many nights that he spent under the stars tending his father's sheep.
In giving the law to Israel on that first day (later known as Pentecost), God's voice was heard (Deut. 5:23-27), and the people were expected to hear and to respond by faith. Of course, most of them drew back and told Moses to go hear the voice of God (Ex. 20:18-21). There was only a minority who seemed to be able to hear. But David was one who did hear the voice of God. He thus manifested faith, and we too are admonished to draw near to God in Heb. 4:16 and not harden our hearts as did Israel under Moses.
Psalm 20 looks back to Jacob's prayer (vow) in Gen. 28:20-22, which says,
20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, 21 and I return to my father's house in safety, then the Lord will be my God. 22 And this stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be god's House; and of all that Thou dost give me, I will surely give a tenth to Thee.”
And so Psalm 20:1-5 seems to respond to his prayer, saying,
1 May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high! 2 May He send you help from the sanctuary, and support you from Zion! 3 May He remember all your meal offerings, and find your burnt offerings acceptable! Selah. 4 May He grant you your heart's desire, and fulfill all your counsel! 5 We will sing for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.
Jacob was about to enter into “the time of Jacob's trouble” (Jer. 30:7). We will have more to say about this when we speak of the number 21 and the 21st psalm (Psalm 22). And so verse 1 above speaks of “the day of trouble” and “the God of Jacob.”
Psalm 20:6 says,
6 Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed [messiah]; He will answer him from His holy heaven, with the saving strength of His right hand.
Jacob experienced two times of trouble, each 21 years in length. Hence, it is associated with the number 21, which we shall soon see. However, Jacob's life also provided prophecy for Jesus' time of trouble, in which He went to the cross. That is why the 21st psalm (i.e., Psalm 22) is the greatest prophecy of the crucifixion in all of the psalms.
But in Psalm 20:6 we have a foreshadowing of this in David's statement that “the Lord saves His Messiah.” Neither David, nor Jacob, nor Jesus were spared their times of trouble, but they proved that their troubles could not prevent them from fulfilling their callings. In this way they were saved from their troubles. God put them through troubles in order to teach them faith. (In Jesus' case, He went to the cross to deal with OUR sin, which we are to accept by faith.)
When Jacob vowed his vow in Genesis 28, he anointed the stone which he had used as a pillow (vs. 18). In doing so, he made it a type of Messiah, an “anointed one.” This rock thus became a type of Christ, which Moses mentioned in Deut. 32:4, 15, 18, 31. David, too, writes of the Rock many times. See Psalm 18:2, 31, 46.
So even as the Rock was Christ, it also served as a type of all God's anointed ones who are “in Christ” by faith. All who have gone through times of trouble and testing know that in the end, “the Lord saves His anointed ones.”
And so David concludes his psalm with a statement of faith, saying,
7 Some boast in chariots, and some in horses; but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God. 8 They have bowed down and fallen; but we have risen and stood upright. 9 Save, O Lord; may the King answer us in the day we call.
Psalm 20 ends with the postscript, “To the chief Musician.”
Twenty is the number of Redemption. The Hebrew letter kaph represents the number 20, and it means an open palm, or hand, often cup-shaped as if giving something. It is a word picture of Christ, who comes as our near kinsman to redeem us by paying the full debt for sin through His death on the cross.
Psalm 21 is entitled, “A Psalm of David.” Psalm 21 is the 20th psalm and so carries the meaning of the number 20. It speaks of the time in which the tribes of Israel came to David, wanting him to become their king. In essence, they wanted David to “marry” the Kingdom-Bride.
The postscript at the end of Psalm 21 reads: “To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar.” Dr. Bullinger gives us the meaning in his notes in The Companion Bible,
Aijeleth Shahar = the Day-dawn: David's Coronation, 953 B.C. Looking forward to the Day-dawn of the Messiah's Coronation, which is the subject of the twenty-first Psalm, not of Ps. 22. [Note: David's coronation over Israel actually took place in 1004 B.C.]
David apparently composed this psalm on the occasion of his coronation. The word Shahar means “day or dawn” and signifies prophetically the new day of the Kingdom.
As for the word Aijeleth, or Ayeleth, this is the word for a doe, or hind, a female deer. (See where the word is used elsewhere in Gen. 49:21, Prov. 5:19, and Jer. 14:5). Putting the words together, it means “A Hind's New Day,” or “the Dawn of the Hind.” It probably signifies a time of jumping for joy, which is similar to the prophetic statement in Mal. 4:2,
2 But for you who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings [rays]; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.
When David was crowned king over all the tribes of Israel, it signified the marriage of Christ and His bride. In that sense, the time of separation between the Husband and the Bride came to an end. The connection between marriage and coronation is evident by the fact that at Mount Sinai—the first Pentecost—God married Israel. It was a time for rejoicing and jumping for joy.
The first few verses of Psalm 21 read:
1 O Lord, in Thy strength the king will be glad, and in Thy salvation how greatly he will rejoice! 2 Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and Thou hast not withheld the request of his lips. Selah. 3 For Thou dost meet him with the blessings of good things … 6 Thou dost make him joyful with gladness in Thy presence.
David had known since he was just eight years old that he was called to be king over Israel. He knew this when Samuel had anointed him for the first time in 1 Sam. 16:13. There is always great joy when, after a long time of training and trouble, we finally come into the calling that God has for us. There is no question that David loved the nation of Israel, and this is reflected in the meaning of his name itself. David means “beloved” and is from the root word that means Love.
This psalm also looks back to the time when Jacob arrived at the house of Laban and was met by Rachel. At that moment Jacob experienced by pain and joy at seeing her. It was love at first sight, and there was great joy in that. But at the same time, because Eliphaz, the son of Esau, had robbed him of the dowry that his father had given him by which to secure a wife, Jacob wept because he did not have the means to marry her without placing himself under bondage to Laban. So we read in Gen. 29:11,
11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.
The book of Jasher fills in some details about this in Jasher 30:8, 9,
8 And when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban, his mother's brother, he ran and kissed her, and lifted up his voice and wept. 9 And Jacob told Rachel that he was the son of Rebecca her father's sister, and Rachel ran and told her father, and Jacob continued to cry because he had nothing with him to bring to the house of Laban.
Jacob had been sent to Haran to find a wife (Gen. 28:2). Rachel was the first one he met. He was joyful in the presence of Rachel. So also will the Bride be “joyful with gladness in Thy presence.” And yet there was a price to pay—seven years of bondage—in order to pay the dowry to her father. This serves as a type of redemption.
In seeing Laban's character in his treatment of Jacob, how he lied and plotted to change his wages ten times, it takes little imagination to see that it was not only Jacob who was oppressed, but Rachel also. Circumstances required Jacob to identify with Rachel in her oppression in order to redeem her by his labor.
This established the pattern of Jesus Christ many years later. Christ divested Himself of the glory and riches of heaven, made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7). Thus, God Himself directed Eliphaz to steal the dowry from Jacob, in order to make him identify with Rachel's oppressed condition in this redemptive work. This became prophetic of Christ Himself, the great Intercessor, who identified with the human condition in order to do His work on the cross to redeem fallen humanity.
At the end of Jacob's labor, he was first given Leah, the older of the twins, as his wife. Then, when Jacob confronted Laban about the deception involved, Laban agreed to let Jacob marry Rachel, if he would agree to work another seven years for her. And so Leah was the mother of Judah, while Rachel was the mother of Joseph, whose sons were given the name Israel (Gen. 48:16).
This prophesied of David, for David first reigned over Judah (who was of Leah), and then seven years later he was crowned over the tribes of Joseph (who were of Rachel). Psalm 21 was composed at the time of David's coronation over all Israel —that is, of Israel who represented Rachel.
The Bride is a crown upon the head of the King. Verse 3 says, “Thou dost set a crown of fine gold on his head.” David recognized that God Himself had anointed him to be king over all Israel, and thus the crown signified the “marriage” of the king to the nation. David says that God put this crown of Israel upon his head. David then prophesies, looking ahead to Christ, the King, and the final fulfillment:
4 He asked life of Thee, Thou didst give it to him, length of days forever and ever [“to times age-abiding and beyond”— Rotherham].
This refers to Jesus' resurrection and immortal life, after He had concluded His work on the cross. This is the true lengthening of days, not merely to seventy years, nor yet to a century. Ultimately, it speaks of immortality, not only for Christ Himself, but also for humanity. Yet it also speaks of lengthening the days of men in general during the Tabernacles Age, which parallels David's Kingdom. Isaiah 65:20 says,
20 No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred shall be thought accursed.
The overcomers who inherit the first resurrection will have immortality, of course (Rev. 20:4-6). However, the rest of humanity who are alive at the time will not have immortality. Being yet mortal, they will die. However, because conditions will begin to change, and wars will cease, they will live longer and have a much better quality of life. Believers during that time will die in hope of the general resurrection at the end of the thousand years. (See my book, The Purpose of Resurrection.)
The last half of Psalm 21 prophetically deals with overcoming God's enemies:
8 Your hand will find out all Your enemies; Your right hand will find out those who hate You.
Ultimately, this speaks prophetically of Christ putting all enemies under His feet, ending with that final enemy—death (1 Cor. 15:26).
9 You will make them as a fiery oven in the time of Your anger; the Lord will swallow them up in His wrath, and fire will devour them.
In the time of David, no doubt these words were interpreted according to the times in which they lived and the light of the Old Covenant. Because the people had rejected the Sword of the Spirit—the Word given at Pentecost at Mount Sinai in Exodus 20—the people were left only with a physical sword and physical conquests of Canaan. But after the fulfillment of Pentecost in Acts 2, the Church has a Spiritual Sword by which we are to conquer and subdue the earth under the feet of Christ. Thus, the fulfillment of this passage in Psalm 21 is to be applied differently after the second chapter of Acts.
At the Great White Throne judgment, those who are NOT found written in the book of life are said to be cast into the “lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15). As I explained in my book, The Judgments of the Divine Law, the fire is the law itself, which is often pictured as fire in the Bible. The judgments of the law do not include torture in literal fire. The fire represents judgment and justice in general, by which men are corrected and restored. Though God is pictured as “angry,” it is a legal anger, not an emotional anger. The future fulfillment of this will not be the same as in times past, for Isaiah 26:9 prophesies,
9 For when the earth experiences Thy judgments, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
The ultimate purpose of the law's judgments is to correct and to teach righteousness, not to destroy forever or to torture. Psalm 21:10 then says,
10 Their offspring Thou wilt destroy [abad, “to wander, be lost, perish, or be destroyed”] from the earth, and their descendants from among the sons of men.
The Hebrew word abad literally means “leaving the strength of the house.” Houses were places of refuge and safety from the elements, wild animals, and from hostile people. Wandering away from the house, a child could be lost and perish. So it is with mankind in general, which has wandered from the safety of the house of God.
Many think that when the Bible speaks of the wicked being “destroyed,” that this means they cannot be brought back or redeemed from death. This is not true, for this same word abad was used in Ezekiel 34 in regard to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Because they were “lost,” God says in verses 11 and 16,
11 For thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out... 16 I will seek the lost [abad], bring back the scattered, bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick...”
In other words, just because Israel was “lost” did not mean they could no longer be found. Jesus came to seek and find that which was lost, or seemingly destroyed (Matt. 18:11). Being “lost” is not a permanent condition, even if the lost one perishes. The resurrection of the dead is designed to rescue people from death and to show that death and separation from God is not a permanent condition.
And so even though God's enemies will be “destroyed,” they will be raised for judgment at the Great White Throne and then cast into the lake of “fire” in order to learn righteousness, as Isaiah tells us. Ultimately, God destroys His enemies by making them His friends—people who are in agreement with Him (Rev. 5:11-14).
Psalm 21:11 says,
11 Though they intended evil against Thee, and devised a plot, they will not succeed. 12 For Thou wilt make them turn their back; Thou wilt aim with Thy bowstrings at their faces.
David himself had experienced much opposition, primarily from the house of Saul. But does this not also remind us of Laban's plots against Jacob? First, Laban plotted to give him Leah, instead of Rachel, in order to keep Jacob in bondage for an extra seven years (Gen. 29:27). Then he plotted to change Jacob's wages ten times (Gen. 31:7). In the same way, the chief priests plotted against Jesus during His time on earth.
The evil plots of men will fail at the end. God will aim His “bowstrings” at them. This is a poetic way of saying that He will shoot His “arrows” at the wicked in order to cause their plots to fail. God's “arrows” are pictured as lightning in Psalm 77:17, 18,
17 The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth a sound; Thy arrows flashed her and there. 18 The sound of Thy thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook.
In Psalm 127 we read further that arrows are symbolic of children.
3 Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. 5 How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them…
Putting these concepts together, we see that God's arrows, pictured as lightning, actually represent the sons of God. Thus, when He aims His arrows at the faces of His enemies, it is prophetically depicting the sons of God confronting and overcoming God's enemies. This occurred on one level with the manifestation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But it has still another fulfillment with the manifestation of the sons of God, as we read in Romans 8:19-22,
19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing [“manifestation, or unveiling”] of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Thus, whether God's enemies are pictured in the story of David himself, or looks back to Jacob, or looks ahead to Christ, or to us in the present time, the biblical solution is the manifestation of the sons of God. This is how God deals with His enemies. He has chosen the seed of Abraham to be a blessing to all families of the earth (Gen. 12:4). He has chosen to bless His enemies, even as He instructed us in Luke 6:27, 28,
27 But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
These are Jesus' instructions to those who aspire to become sons of God, for this is how He aims His arrows at His enemies. He overcomes evil with good and thereby heaps “coals of fire” on their head (Rom. 12:21).
This is not to say that the sons of God will torture people with literal fire. Paul understood the meaning of the Hebrew word “bless.” It is the word asher —the same name as the son of Jacob. Asher is from the Hebrew word ash, or esh, which means “fire.” The word ends with the letter resh, which means “head.” In other words, to “bless” is to put fire on the head.
For instance, when a family returned home from a long trip in those days, they would go to their neighbor to obtain some coals for the fire. They did not have matches in those days. A stingy neighbor might give them just one small coal. But it was a blessing if the neighbor would heap coals of fire into a jar, in which they carried the fire home on the head.
This is how Jesus intends for us to treat our enemies. This manifests His heart and His intention for all of His enemies on the earth. It is His purpose to bless all families of the earth—not destroy them.
God's purpose in raising up plotters against David (such as King Saul) was to teach him how NOT to rule Israel. He learned that a king ruled under God and was only the administrator of divine justice as defined by God's law. In like manner, Jacob's oppression was to teach him the same lesson, so that he could qualify to receive the name Israel, which means “God rules.” Jacob, the carnal believer, was a supplanter, a usurper of God's throne, for he thought that his calling gave him a license to establish prophecy by the flesh. Israel, the overcomer, ruled by recognizing God's sovereignty.
Finally, the sons of God, the overcomers who aspire to inherit the first resurrection, must also learn the same lesson, for God will not put anyone into a position of leadership who has not learned to submit to the sovereignty of God. They must bless others in God's way, as revealed in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. They must know how to administer the law by the mind of Christ and led by the Holy Spirit, and not in a legalistic, carnally-minded way. Then they can say with David in Psalm 21:13,
13 Be Thou exalted, O Lord, in Thy strength; we will sing and praise Thy power.
In summary, Psalm 21 is about David's pain which he endured in order to obtain the joy of the promised crown. Psalm 21 also looks back also to the story of Jacob's pain and joy in seeing Rachel, for it was his love for Rachel that caused him to submit to Laban's oppression in order to receive her as his reward in the end. Prophetically speaking, Psalm 21 also looks ahead to Christ's coronation after He had drunk the bitter cup at the cross. Heb. 12:2 says,
2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the JOY set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jacob's joy at seeing Rachel established the pattern of the joy that Jesus had in enduring the cross, that He might also obtain the Bride that He loves. This story, when connected to the 20th psalm (Psalm 21), illustrates for us the cost of redemption.
Likewise, it shows all aspiring overcomers how God trains them as “Jacobites” so that they may overcome the flesh and qualify to rule as “Israelites.” Like Jesus, a true Israelite learns obedience by the things that he suffers. Love is his motive and source of divine strength.
Psalm 22 is the 21st psalm. The number 21 is the number of distress and is particularly associated with the time of Jacob's trouble.
Psalm 22 is entitled, “A Psalm of David.” It is one of the great psalms that portrays David's distress and sufferings at the hands of his enemies (including Saul). It also looks back to Jacob's distress under Laban and looks forward toward Christ's time of distress on the cross.
Psalm 22:1 begins with “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” These words are well known, since Jesus quoted them while on the cross. (See Matt. 27:46.) In fact, no psalm is more prophetic of Jesus' crucifixion than Psalm 22. But in the context of David's life, he wrote this when he was undergoing distress at the hand of his own enemies. As a type of Christ, David was experiencing distress in his own day, which established a prophetic pattern for Christ in the future.
But Psalm 22 also looks back to the time of Jacob's trouble and distress under Laban. No doubt Jacob asked this same question often during his time of trouble. He had left his wealthy father, he had been robbed of his dowry and other living expenses by his nephew, Eliphaz, and he was now a bondservant in a foreign land.
Another parallel is found in Israel 's wilderness experience. When they ran out of water, they thought God had forsaken them. Exodus 17:7 says,
7 And he named the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
When God brings us through times of distress, we are all tempted to wonder if God has forsaken us. But this is precisely the point of such times of testing. Through such times we often learn just how weak our faith is. We think that God is punishing us for sin. We forget that He said, “ I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you ” (Heb. 13:5). It is normal for people to assume that when God is with them, nothing bad will happen, and if anything happens to cause distress, to assume that God has left us—or that we have left God somehow. But this is simply not true.
In the story in Exodus 17 (above), God told Moses to strike the rock, and water came out for them to drink. And so, Psalm 22:4, 5 reminds us,
4 In Thee our fathers trusted; they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them. 5 To Thee they cried out, and were delivered; in Thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.
The smitten rock was a picture of Jesus Christ, as Paul says in 1 Cor. 10:4. Zech. 13:7 echoes, “Strike the shepherd that the sheep may be scattered.” Matt. 26:31 applies this prophecy to Jesus Christ in his death on the cross.
Psalm 22:6 says,
6 But I am a worm, and not a man, a reproach of men, and despised by the people.
God answers through the prophet in Isaiah 41:14, saying,
14 Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you, declares the Lord, and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
This connects Psalm 22 not only to Christ but also to Jacob. Both were “ a reproach of men and despised by the people.” And yet, after their times of distress, both were delivered and brought into the place of authority according to their calling.
The most important fulfillment of Psalm 22 is found in Jesus' trial and death. Psalm 22:7 and 8 says of this,
7 All who see me sneer at me; they separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, 8 Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him; let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.
Matthew 27:41-43 applies this to the chief priests' mockery when Jesus was on the cross, saying,
41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him, and saying, 42 “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we shall believe in Him. 43 He trusts in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He takes pleasure in Him; for He said, I am the Son of God.”
Those who said these things did not understand the prophecies in Psalm 22, nor did they consider that they were playing the role of David's enemies in this great re-enactment of David's time of distress. Psalm 22:9, 10 is another reference to David and Jacob as well as to Jesus Himself:
9 Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother's breasts. 10 Upon Thee I was cast from birth; Thou hast been my God from my mother's womb.
In Genesis 25:23 and Rom. 9:10-13 we find that God had chosen Jacob even before he and his twin brother, Esau, were even born. Paul says that God did this in order to teach us that His callings are not the result of our works, but purely by His sovereign will. How much more was this applicable to Jesus Christ?
Psalm 22:14 and 15 is a description of Jesus on the cross:
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws, and Thou dost lay me in the dust of death.
Crucifixion pulls one's shoulders out of joint, and when Jesus died, the soldier's spear caused the last of His water to be poured out. After He died, he was laid in the dust of death in Joseph's tomb.
Jesus was crucified as the Passover lamb. In Exodus 12:46, God instructed Israel in regard to the Passover,
46 It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it.
For this reason, although Jesus' bones were pulled out of joint, they were not broken. This was important in order to fulfill every word of Scripture, for He was the Passover Lamb. John 19:32-34 says,
32 The soldiers therefore came, and broke the legs of the first man, and of the other man who was crucified with Him; 33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs; 34 but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.
Psalm 22:16 says,
16 For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet.
Foreigners were referred to as “dogs” in those days, as for example in Matt. 15:26. Thus, this is a prophetic reference to the Roman soldiers present at Jesus' crucifixion. However, the “ band of evildoers ” who “ pierced my hands and my feet ” were not the dogs but were the chief priests themselves. Pilate desperately tried to convince them not to crucify Jesus, because he perceived Him to be unjustly accused. John 19:15-18 says,
15 They therefore cried out, Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him! Pilate said to them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. 16 So he [Pilate] then delivered Him to THEM [the chief priests] to be crucified. 17 THEY [the chief priests] took Jesus therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. 18 There THEY [the chief priests] crucified Him ….
So it says clearly that Pilate delivered Jesus into the hands of the chief priests, who took Him and “ they crucified Him.” This is consistent with every statement in the book of Acts, where the apostles attributed the crucifixion, not to the Romans, but to the chief priests or to the Jews in general (Acts 2:36; 3:13-15; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52; 10:39). In addition to this, the apostles required the people to repent for their deed in order to be saved. Modern ministries to the Jews often contradict Scripture, even to the point of demanding that Christians repent of believing the clear word of God in order to accommodate “Jewish sensitivities.” Jews are sensitive because they disagree with the New Testament account, believing that Jesus deserved to be crucified. Psalm 22:16 calls them “a band of evildoers.”
Psalm 22:18 says,
18 They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
This was fulfilled by the soldiers at the foot of the cross. Matt. 27:35 says,
35 And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots.
Psalm 22:20 gives us the key to the entire psalm, for it establishes that the one being mistreated and killed in the psalm is the only-begotten Son of God. Verse 20 reads,
20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my only one [Heb. yawkiyd] from the paw of the dog. 21 Save me from the lion's mouth; and from the horns of the wild oxen. You have answered me. [quoted from The Interlinear Bible]
The word translated “my only one” is yawkiyd. Strong's Concordance says that it means “ united; i.e., sole; by impl. beloved; also lonely.” It has to do with being an “only one” or “only-begotten son.” The word is also used in Gen. 22:2, where God told Abraham,
2 And He said, “Take now your son, your only son [yawkiyd],whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”
Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Isaac was not the only son in the sense of being an only child. He was a son who had a special bond with his father, a son who was united with his father, “one” with his father.
This Hebrew word, yawkiyd, as written in Psalm 22:20, is rendered monogene in the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Septuagint was the Greek Bible in Jesus' day for those who did not speak Hebrew. This old translation is important because it established the standard by which Greek words were used to express Hebrew concepts. This Greek word is used in the New Testament in John 3:16,
16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten [monogene] Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Here and in other places Jesus is referred to as the “only-begotten” Son of God. It is a reference to yawkiyd as used prophetically of Christ in Psalm 22:20. It speaks of His special bond and unity with the Father. This Hebrew word carries the meaning of being united with the Father as one, even as Jesus said in John 17:20-23,
20 I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me. 22 And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me.
Jesus Christ is the “only-begotten” Son of God. This is not meant to imply that He is the only Son, for Abraham had more than one son. Further, John says that He has given us the authority to become the sons of God as well (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1, 2). Rather, the idea conveyed is unity with the Father, the idea of being one with Christ, even as Christ is one with the Father.
Being an only begotten son in unity with the Father does not mean that Christ usurps the place of the Father, for we read in 1 Cor. 15:28,
28 And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.
Christ exercises authority that is subject to the Father. Antichrist usurps authority. The antichrist spirit breaks that bond of unity. But the only begotten son is one with his father. “Only begotten” means becoming unified with Him in every purpose, every word, every thought, and every deed. In short, it means to be an Amen person like Jesus, who did nothing but what He saw His Father do, and who said nothing but what He heard His Father say.
Psalm 22:22 continues,
22 I will tell of Thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly [kahal, “congregation”] I will praise Thee.
This is quoted in Heb. 2:12 to show that Jesus was not ashamed to call us brethren,
12 saying, I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren, in the midst of the congregation [ekklesia, “congregation, or Church”] I will sing Thy praise.
The only-begotten Son of God endured the cross and its time of distress in order to redeem mankind that had been sold under an unpayable debt to sin. The Sons of God are likewise called to be crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6) and to partake in the fellowship of His sufferings (Phil. 3:10). Thus, this time of distress is common to all of us on different levels and in different ways. It is part of being one of His “brethren.”
Psalm 22:27-31 then shows the final result of this time of distress:
27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will worship before Thee. 28 For the kingdom is the Lord's, and He rules over the nations. 29 All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship, all those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, even he who cannot keep his soul alive. 30 Posterity will serve Him; it will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. 31 They will come and will declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has performed it [or “that it is finished, completed, or accomplished”].
Verse 28 says that “the kingdom is the Lord's, and He rules over the nations.” And so we read in Rev. 11:15,
15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there arose loud voices in heaven, saying, “The Kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever [lit., “the ages of the ages”].”
This is part of the Gospel, the Good News. His people “ will declare His [work of] righteousness... that it is finished.” This is what Jesus quoted on the Cross in John 19:30, speaking His final words,
30 When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, “IT IS FINISHED.” And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.
Psalm 22 is about the Son of God and His distress on the cross. Jesus directly quoted from it twice while He was on the cross. Thus, Psalm 22 begins with “ My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” and ends with “ It is finished.” This is the finished work of Christ on the Cross. He never again needs to die for the sin of the world. In that great work He accomplished the salvation of the world, as we read in John 12:32, 33,
32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw [helkuo, “to drag”] all men to Myself.” 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.
Again, John says in 1 John 2:2,
2 And He Himself is the propitiation [hilasmos, “atonement, covering”] for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
This is the great victory obtained by Jesus' time of distress on the cross. We, too, obtain victory through our own times of suffering and distress, as we follow in His steps. This is the one of the great principles of intercession in the divine plan, for after our time of trouble, we too are raised up to positions of spiritual authority, empowering us to serve Him in more effective ways in bringing the Gospel of the Kingdom to the world.
Twenty-two is the number of Sonship, or the Sons of Light. Psalm 23 is the 22nd psalm and manifests the meaning of the number 22. It is a psalm that speaks of the Good Shepherd leading His sheep in such a way that they come into Sonship. Throughout the day, “ The Lord is my shepherd,” and at the end of the day, then, they can say in verse 6,
6 Surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23 is entitled, “A psalm of David.” In it David draws from his personal experience as a shepherd tending sheep. No doubt he recalled the time when the Lord strengthened him to deliver the sheep from the mouth of a bear and again from a lion. (1 Sam. 17:34). These faith-building experiences taught him God's character as the Good Shepherd and later gave him the faith to fight Goliath (1 Sam. 17:37).
This psalm thus looks back to Jacob to show us how his time of bondage to Laban brought him into the place of Sonship—that is, to the place where God would change his name to Israel.
Likewise, this psalm looks ahead to Christ, whose time of distress on the cross was rewarded with a promotion from the Good Shepherd (John 10:11) to the Great Shepherd (Heb. 13:20) and the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4). It also has meaning for the overcomers who will rule and reign with Him, in order that they may shepherd the rest of the sheep as Jesus has shown them by example.
Psalm 23:1-3 says,
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
This corresponds to Jacob's restoration to the land of Canaan, when he arrived in Succoth after leaving Laban. Since his time with Laban was a difficult time of bondage and labor, his arrival in Succoth was a time of peace and rest from his labors. Gen. 33:17, 18 says,
17 And Jacob journeyed to Succoth; and build for himself a house, and made booths for his livestock, therefore the place is named Succoth. 18 Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram, and camped before the city.
The term Succoth means “booths” or “tabernacles.” This place represents the final feast day (Tabernacles) in Jacob's prophetic journey. There are three Sabbaths, or rests, in Scripture. The seventh day, the seventh year, and the Jubilee (50th year) each represent a different level of rest. Only the Jubilee rest is the place of God's Rest (Heb. 3:18; 4:8-10). These three also correlate with the three main feasts of Israel: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Entering into God's Rest is the third and final resting place, which one experiences only through the feast of Tabernacles. The Jubilee is the door of Tabernacles.
So it is significant that Jacob-Israel camped near Shechem and called the name of the place Succoth, “booths, or tabernacles.” As I pointed out in the study of Psalm 18 (the 19th psalm), Jacob had walked through all of the experiences that would later become celebrated as Israel 's feast days. Succoth was the final stop in this feast-day pattern.
The story of Jacob also reveals another underlying prophecy. Succoth means “booths,” which are temporary dwellings. A booth is not a house. Neither was the tabernacle of Moses the same kind of structure as the temple of Solomon. While in the wilderness under Moses, Israel was called to dwell in booths, rather than to build houses in the wilderness. This showed that they had not yet entered God's Rest (Heb. 4:9).
So also when the Age of Pentecost is concluded, and the feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled, those who are overcomers (Israelites) like Jacob will receive a permanent “house,” while the rest of the Church will remain in “booths” until the time of the Great White Throne Judgment. In other words, not all the believers will receive their “house” from above (2 Cor. 5:1) at the time of the First Resurrection in Rev. 20:4-6.
The story of Jacob at Succoth shows us that there will be two different rewards given at the time of the fulfillment of Tabernacles. In fact, the overcomers will then become the Shepherds of the sheep during the coming Age, in order to evangelize the world, teach the law (Isaiah 2:3), and lead the sheep into their reward at the end of the Tabernacles Age. I showed this more fully in my book, The Purpose of Resurrection.
After Jacob settled in Shechem, we find Jacob confronted with evil men. There were, of course, evil men from Shechem; but there was also the problem with evil in the hearts of Jacob's own sons. Though Jacob had learned to be led by the Spirit and not rely upon the flesh to do God's work, most of his sons apparently had not learned this lesson. So this conflict is portrayed in Psalm 23:4, 5,
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. 5 Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.
In the corresponding story of Jacob at Shechem, we read in Genesis 34 that the leader of Shechem was a man named Hamor. He had a son named Shechem, who seemed to fall in love with Jacob's daughter, Dinah. Genesis 34:2 and 3 says,
2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force. 3 And he was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her.
Afterward, Shechem wanted to marry Dinah, so he asked his father to negotiate the marriage with Jacob. Of course, negotiating a marriage after the rape is not at all in accordance with God's law or even normal human decency. But Jacob knew better than to judge Shechem before giving him a hearing. “So Jacob kept silent until they came in” (Gen. 34:5). Jacob's sons, however, resembled their father in his earlier days, and so we read in Gen. 34:13,
13 But Jacob's sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor, with deceit, and spoke to them, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.
They agreed to give Dinah to Shechem if he and all the men of the town would submit to circumcision. They did so, and Gen. 34:25-29 says,
25 Now it came about on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of Jacob's sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, each took his sword and came upon the city unawares and killed every male... 29 and they captured and looted all their wealth and all their little ones and their wives, even all that was in the houses.
So they took Dinah from Shechem's house by force, looted the city, and took all the women for themselves as slaves or wives. Some today attempt to justify their actions, but the fact is, Jacob was not at all pleased with their actions.
30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me, by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me, and I shall be destroyed, I and my household.” 31 But they said, “Should he treat our sister as a harlot?”
Simeon and Levi were the progenitors of the Pharisees. They were quick to recognize when a man had sinned, but their manner of dealing with it was not according to the Holy Spirit's guidance. There is no way to justify Shechem's sin, but neither is there any way to justify the deceit and murder that Simeon and Levi committed. They were zealous, but they knew not the mind of the Lord—nor even the mind of Jacob. Jacob himself recognized this many years later, when he said in Gen. 49:5-7,
5 Simeon and Levi are brothers; their swords are implements of violence. 6 Let my soul not enter into their council; let not my glory be united with their assembly [kahal; “church”]; because in their anger they slew men, and in their self-will they lamed oxen. 7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel. I will disperse them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel.
Moses and Aaron were Levites, and God used them to establish the kingdom of Israel and the Old Covenant. However, recall that Moses was not allowed to enter Canaan because he struck the rock, rather than speaking to it (Num. 20:12). Though Moses and Aaron were both great and godly men (though not perfect), they were also under a curse upon their grandfather, Levi, which prevented them from entering the Promised Land.
This was all part of the divine plan, because as it turns out, they represented the Old Covenant, under which Israel was unable to enter into the glory of the Church that was to come by way of the New Covenant. The “glory” of Jacob-Israel would NOT be “united with their assembly.” The glory of Pentecost would come upon the 120 disciples in the upper room, rather than upon the priesthood of Levi-Aaron in the temple.
The priesthood of Levi ultimately had to give way to the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ and His sons. This new priesthood was NOT under this curse of Levi for his violent spirit, because the Melchizedek Order was not given to the descendants of Levi. Though some Jews today are attempting to establish another priesthood of Levi in the Israeli state, they have no way of reversing the curse upon Levi. The glory will not be given to the assembly, or “church” of Levi.
In Psalm 23:4 David said, “Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.” In the case of Simeon and Levi, they found comfort in a bloody sword. The word “comfort” comes from the Hebrew word nacham, which means “to avenge.” The law says that vengeance belongs to God (Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:19). Simeon and Levi did not believe this. They believed that God needed help from the arm of flesh in avenging Dinah. As Jacob said, “in their anger they slew men.” They were not led by the Spirit.
The Hebrew word nacham also has another meaning, “comfort, consolation.” The prophet Nahum carries this name. So does Nacham-Yah (Nehemiah). Nacham is the title given to the Holy Spirit (Luke 2:25; John 14:26). He is the Comforter. If vengeance is left to God, then it is carried out according to the perfect will of God by means of the Holy Spirit. But when vengeance is carried out by zealous men of violence, like Simeon and Levi, it leaves only a trail of blood and dishonors the name of Israel.
Jacob recognized this and cursed their anger. The tribe of Simeon ultimately lost its identity and was absorbed by Judah. Levi likewise was given no land inheritance among the tribes. Levi was given the priesthood, but even that was a temporary calling, for they were replaced by the Order of Melchizedek after their final act of violence in crucifying the Messiah. After the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, the only way that an Aaronic priest could remain in the priesthood was if He came in through Jesus Christ as a Melchizedek priest. He had to enter a different order of priesthood.
If we consider Jacob's carnally-minded sons to represent the non-overcoming Church, then we can identify them with Jacob's cattle who were made to dwell in booths while Jacob dwelt in a house. We can see, then, that the sons are a prophetic picture of the heart attitude of the non-overcoming Church, who seem to believe that unbelievers ought to be destroyed at the second coming of Christ (feast of Tabernacles).
Their attitude is much the same as with Simeon and Levi and with the later priests of Levi. This attitude comes from the carnal mind, and while it seems “just” in their eyes, it is really only a manifestation of their own bitterness of heart and spiritual immaturity. This is why even today, Christians tend to condemn Jacob and defend Simeon and Levi in their slaughter of the Shechemites.
They do not understand that the sharp sword coming from the mouth of the Lamb is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. That Sword is not a physical sword that divides head from body, but is rather a spiritual Sword that divides soul and spirit and discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:12). The physical sword kills; the spiritual Sword brings life. And in the age to come, the great Stone Kingdom of Dan. 2:35 will grow until it fills the whole earth—not because God's enemies are killed, but because the nations are converted.
Psalm 23:6 ends the psalm by saying,
6 Surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
In the story of Jacob, immediately after the slaughter of Shechem, Gen. 35:1 says,
1 Then God said to Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel [“house of God”], and live there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.
David says, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” God told Jacob to go live, or dwell in Bethel, the “house of God.”
The full meaning of Psalm 23:6 can only be understood when we look at the example of Jacob. Before going to Bethel, Jacob finally told his household to put away all idols. One cannot fulfill this today without first putting away the idols. Gen. 35:2 says,
2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your garments.
This speaks prophetically of putting away the idols of the heart. In order to truly dwell in the house of the Lord, one must deal with the problem of heart idolatry. (See chapter two of my book, Hearing God's Voice.) This speaks prophetically of the Age of Tabernacles, in which time the Spirit of the Lord will be poured out in an increased way through the ministry of the Sons of Light. They will teach people by word and by example how to deal with the idols of the heart, so that they, too, may come into the glorious liberty of the Sons of God (Rom. 8:21).
Psalm 24 is the 23rd psalm and speaks of the number 23. During this time, Deborah died. She was Rebekah's nurse. According to the book of Jasher (ch. 31), Jacob's mother had sent Rebekah to him after he had served Laban 14 years with a message to return to Canaan. But Jacob remained another six years with Laban before returning. Deborah had remained with Jacob from that time until her death about seven years later at Bethel.
Jasher 36:3 says that Jacob and his family remained at Bethel for six months. It also tells us that Jacob's mother died in Hebron about the same time that her nurse, Rebekah, died (Jasher 36:6).
Likewise, Rachel died in childbirth as she gave birth to Benjamin (Gen. 35:19), and she was buried near Bethlehem as they were leaving Bethel. It was certainly a time of death, as the number 23 indicates. And yet it was also a time of new life, as pictured in the birth of Benjamin.
One important lesson to be extracted from Jacob's second trip to Bethel is this: In his first trip 22 years earlier, he anointed the stone as a pillar and named it Bethel, “the house of God.” In his second trip, however, he built another altar and called it El-Bethel, “the God of the House of God.”
Jacob's first trip to Bethel represents the feast of Pentecost, even as the second trip represents the feast of Tabernacles. This established a prophetic pattern, where, during the Age of Pentecost, the people tend to worship the house of God—that is the Church organization. Only in the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, our second outpouring of the Spirit, will the Church shift their focus to the God of Bethel. It is a matter of priorities. The denominational system of the Church during the Pentecostal Age has often usurped the place of God by demanding loyalty to itself more than to God. This loyalty will shift to God Himself in the Age to come.
Psalm 24:1 and 2 proclaims God's ownership of the earth and all creation, saying,
1 The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the rivers.
Then David launches into the primary subject of his psalm, which looks back to Jacob's ascent into the hill of God (Bethel).
3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, and has not sworn deceitfully [mirmah].
Does this not give us the reason why the idols of Jacob's household were to be buried under the oak before they could ascend to Bethel, the House of God? One qualification of a pure heart is that he has not sworn deceitfully. This is from the Hebrew word mirmah, which means “deceiving, fraud.” It is from the root word ramah, “to delude, betray.” But ramah also means “height” in the sense of a high place, or a seat of idolatry.
And so the use of this term points to heart idolatry, which disqualifies a person from advancing from Pentecost into the glorious Rest of the feast of Tabernacles.
Psalm 24:5 and 6 says,
5 He shall receive a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Thy face—even [the God of] Jacob. Selah.
The ultimate blessing from the Lord is righteousness, or perfection, which comes through the fullness of the Spirit that is given through the feast of Tabernacles. The “generation” of which David speaks is the 42nd generation of the body of Christ, prophesied in Matt. 1:17. In that verse we read that there were three sets of 14 generations from Abraham to Christ, for a total of 42 generations. However, if you look closely, you will find only 41 generations to Jesus. The 42nd generation is the “Christ” [anointed] generation, which is the body of Christ.
It is a prophecy of Benjamin, the son who was prophesied to come after Joseph. When Joseph was born, he was named Joseph as a prophecy: “God will add to me another son” (Gen. 30:24). Joseph is a type of Christ; Benjamin is a type of the younger brother who was born after Jacob's second trip to Bethel.
Prophetically speaking, this younger son is the 42nd generation, the body of Christ. He had two names, Ben-oni and Benjamin (Gen. 35:18). Ben-oni means “son of my sorrow,” while Benjamin means “son of my right hand.” Those who are called to rule in the throne of Christ must first experience the fellowship of His sufferings. This is the pattern that Jesus Himself followed, for He came first as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), and only later was He raised to sit at the right hand of God the Father (Eph. 1:20). He is the Pattern Son, and so the overcomers must also share in His sufferings in order to be seated with Him in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). Paul speaks of this in terms of death and resurrection, which, of course, points to the meaning of the number 23.
The final part of Psalm 24:6 speaks of those who seek His face.
This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Thy face—even [the God of] Jacob.
There is some confusion in the text of this verse. If the Hebrew text as we have received it is correct, then Jacob is being set forth as the type of “the generation of those that seek Him” in his second trip to Bethel.
However, both the Septuagint and the Syriac versions of this verse read, “the God of Jacob.” If this is correct, then it is saying that this generation is seeking the face of the God of Jacob. In either case, the general meaning is the same, for when Jacob wrestled with the Angel Peniel, he named the place after the angel. Peniel means “God's face or presence.”
Both renderings speak of God's face, or presence. This concept was first set forth in Jacob's experience wrestling with the angel, but this idea was enlarged upon when Moses came off the mount with his face glowing (Exodus 34:29). In the New Testament the Apostle Paul expounds upon this in 2 Cor. 5:1-8, which is his commentary on the glorified, immortal body that is given at the feast of Tabernacles. (See also chapter 9 of my book, The Laws of the Second Coming.)
The Hebrew root of Peniel is paniym, whose Greek equivalent in the New Testament is prosopon, the “presence” (i.e., “face”) of God. In other words, the glorified body is characterized by the face of God being seen in our face, or the presence of God being fully manifested within our bodies.
Those who qualify to “ascend into His holy hill” are those who seek His face. These are the overcomers who go the second time to Bethel for a greater measure of the Spirit than they received at Pentecost. These overcomers will reign on the earth (Rev. 5:10), so that they may teach the nations who desire to learn His law (Isaiah 2:1-4).
Psalm 24:7-10 concludes,
7 Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads O gates, and lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory might come in! 10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. [Selah]
This is a prophetic command: “ Be lifted up, O ancient doors.” It spoke of the opening of the temple gates that signaled the time of the lamb to be killed for the morning sacrifice. Jesus is our Sacrifice, of course. Alfred Edersheim writes on pages 161 and 162 of his book, The Temple,
“The elders who carried the keys now gave the order for opening the Temple gates. As the last great gate slowly moved on its hinges, the priests, on a signal given, blew three blasts on their silver trumpets, summoning the Levites and the ‘representatives' of the people... to their duties, and announcing to the city that the morning sacrifice was about to be offered. Immediately upon this the great gates which led into the Holy Place itself were opened to admit the priests who were to cleanse the candlestick and the altar of incense.
“The opening of these gates was the signal for actually slaying the sacrificial lamb.”
All of this prophesied of the glory of the Lamb that was slain—Jesus Christ—and by extension all the martyrs who shared in His sufferings as part of His body. This passage speaks of the opening of the gates for the purpose of presenting the morning sacrifice—prophesying the death of the Messiah, and which expresses the meaning of the number 23 as well.
The people who came to witness the morning sacrifice prophetically represented the great company in Rev. 5:11, 12,
11 And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”
And so, Psalm 24 pictures the company of people who are qualified to ascend into God's holy hill. These are the overcomers, who finally ascend at the feast of Tabernacles. But at the same time, we are presented with the means toward that end—for to become part of the Benjamin company, one must first become Ben-oni. To rule, one must know the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. Life comes out of death, and this is the double meaning of the number 23 expressed in Psalm 24.
Psalm 25 is the 24th psalm. Twenty-four is the number of priesthood.
Psalm 25 is entitled, “A Psalm of David.” Psalm 25 was written to commemorate the day that David brought the Ark to Mount Zion and placed in “David's Tabernacle.” This was the primary event marking the day when David's priesthood began in the Order of Melchizedek. Though David was not descended from Aaron, yet he ministered before the Lord in the Tabernacle of David before Solomon's temple had been built.
Thus, Psalm 25 looks ahead to the beginning of the new Melchizedek priesthood. It also looks back to the time Jacob and his sons journeyed to Bethel, while the people of the land of Canaan were terrified. Genesis 35:5 says,
5 As they journeyed, there was a great terror upon the cities which were around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.
But first let us look at David's situation itself and how this psalm applied to him. When David moved the Ark to Zion, he mistakenly put it on an ox-drawn cart (2 Sam. 6:3), and when the cart hit a bump in the road, the Ark nearly fell off the cart. Uzzah, one of the priests walking along side the cart, instinctively touched the ark to stop it from falling to the ground, and he was killed. 2 Sam. 6:7 reads,
7 And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God. 8 And David became angry because of the Lord's outburst against Uzzah, and that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. 9 So David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?”
David was then afraid to bring the Ark to Zion, so he turned aside and let it reside in the house of Obed-edom for three months. Then when he saw how God had blessed the house of Obed-edom, he decided to complete the journey and brought the Ark to Zion. In fact, he offered sacrifices every six paces along the rest of the journey.
Uzzah means “strength,” and is from the word azaz, “strong,” and az, “strong, vehement, harsh.” The word also means a goat. From the standpoint of typology, Uzzah represents fleshly strength, one who is “vehement or harsh.” Such people cannot touch the Ark of God's presence, because their spiritual character is incompatible with God's.
In fact, we find that the Ark was placed in the house of the Servant of Edom (Obed-edom) until David could discover the problem and rectify it. Edom signifies the strength of the carnal man and manifests the fleshly way of establishing the Kingdom. Since David had put the Ark on an ox-drawn cart instead of having it carried on the shoulders of the priests, God had brought judgment upon Uzzah and gave the Ark into the hands of a type of Edom for a season.
Years afterward, Scripture speaks of another man: King Uzziah. We read in 2 Chron. 26:14 and 15 that he invented new war machines. Verse 16 then says,
16 But when he became strong [chozeq, “vehement”], his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God, for he entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense.
As a result, God struck him with leprosy (2 Chron. 26:20) and was quarantined in a leper's house until the day he died. Isaiah 6:1 then says,
1 In the year of King Uzziah's death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of his robe filling the temple.
Thus, we have two types and shadows here, one with Uzzah, and the other with King Uzziah. Both signify the end of the time of fleshly strength, which seeks to bring about the glory of God, but in fact must be removed before the Ark of God's glory can take its rightful place.
All of this is reflected in Psalm 25. David says in verses 4 and 5,
4 Make me to know Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths. 5 Lead me in Thy truth and teach me; for Thou art the God of my salvation; for Thee I wait all the day.
It must have weighed heavily on David's heart to know that his ignorance of the law resulted in Uzziah's death.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth [immaturity] or my transgressions; according to Thy loving-kindness, remember Thou me for Thy goodness' sake, O Lord... 11 For Thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great.
David also speaks of his numerous enemies beginning in verse 2, where he prays, “Do not let my enemies exult over me.” In verse 19 he writes,
19 Look upon my enemies, for they are many; and they hate me with violent hatred... 22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.
These verses take us back to Genesis 35, to which Psalm 25 refers in the past. Jacob's sons had just destroyed the city of Shechem in a violent display of so-called “righteous indignation.” Jacob-Israel recognized a huge problem in his sons, and in this context he took that second trip to Bethel.
When we link David's experience in Psalm 25 with Israel 's situation in Genesis 35, the meaning of the psalm takes on a greater meaning for us today. David was thinking about Uzzah, which was prophetic of man's strength and his tendency to try to establish the Kingdom through violence and force. Jacob-Israel saw this same tendency in Levi and Simeon, who massacred the Shechemites and caused Jacob's name to “stink” among the Canaanites (Gen. 34:30).
Psalm 25 is largely a prayer of repentance for not understanding the law or the mind of the Lawgiver. Spiritually immature believers justify their violent behavior and their reliance upon brutal strength to do God's work. But David reminds us in Psalm 25:8-10,
8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in the way. 9 He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way. 10 All the paths of the Lord are loving-kindness [chasad, “grace, or kindness”] and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
David recognized that the ways of God were not violent and bloodthirsty, but rather were full of grace and kindness. Simeon and Levi were anything but gracious and kind toward the Shechemites, for their concept of God was that He was a stern Judge who demands the blood of the sinners.
Obviously, these are lessons that come forth in a fuller manifestation in the New Testament. Yet we often see these lessons forgotten throughout Church history. And in the past century, with the rise of Christian Zionism, many Christians have come to think that Zionist violence against Palestinians and others is an example of heroic or virtuous behavior. Modern eschatology seems to demand a violent Messiah who, like David, attempts to bring the Ark to Zion by the power of carnal flesh.
All of this is the fulfillment of the Uzzah principle and the example of King Uzziah as well. Not until both Uzzah and Uzziah are dead will the divine plan be completed. Only then will the new order of priests, the Melchizedek Order be established in the earth, replacing the priesthood of Levi, who, with Simeon, thirsted for blood.
Thus, Psalm 25, manifesting the meaning of the number 24, is about Priesthood and its spiritual qualifications. Those who misunderstand the mind of Christ in this matter, those who are carnally minded and violent in their treatment of “Canaanites,” will not be given rulership in the earth as priests of God and of Christ (Rev. 20:6). Such a position is reserved for those who, like David, repent and come into agreement with the grace and kindness that characterizes the mind of Christ.
Psalm 26 is the 25th psalm. Twenty-five is the number of blessing. It is five squared, and so twenty-five is related to five, the number of grace.
Psalm 26 is entitled, “A Psalm of David.” Psalm 26 is about David not condoning the sin of the wicked and asking for God's blessing as a result. David therefore comes to God and asks that his heart be tested to see if he is worthy of the blessing of God.
Psalm 26 also looks back to Gen. 35:22, where Reuben lost the blessing of the birthright for defiling his father's bed. His birthright was thus passed to Joseph, with the kingly line going to Judah, and the priesthood going to Levi.
Psalm 26 looks forward as well to the true David, that is, Jesus Christ, whose heart was tested and found to be upright and true. Jesus was the Repairer of the breach, who reunited the three branches of the birthright back under one Head. He is the Heir of David in His first coming, the Heir of Joseph in His second coming, and He is also the High Priest after the Order of Melchizedek.
Psalm 26 portrays a man who has been tested and blessed. It was penned by David, whom God tested, but it also represents the heart cry of Jacob in his final trip to Bethel, the House of God. There is no doubt that Jacob prayed and searched his heart on this occasion, even as David would do years later.
Psalm 26:1-3 says,
1 Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity; and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. 2 Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind [lit. “reins, or kidneys”] and my heart. 3 For Thy loving kindness [chesed, “mercy, grace”] is before my eyes, and I have walked in Thy truth.
Kidneys are called the “renal system,” because the urinary tubes coming out of them resemble reins on a horse. Thus, they came to be associated prophetically with divine guidance. The heart has to do with righteousness, as in the case of the circumcision of the heart. Thus, when David prayed for God to test both his kidneys and his heart, he was asking God to test his discernment (divine guidance, hearing God's voice) as well as his righteousness.
David (like Jacob) had learned chesed, here translated “loving kindness,” but more often the word is translated “mercy” (as in Psalm 136, “for His mercy endures forever”). It often takes age and experience to learn mercy and grace. If we apply Psalm 26 to Jacob's prayer at Bethel, it takes little imagination to see that Jacob knew God's mercy and grace, while Simeon and Levi did not. “Try me, examine me, prove me, because Thy grace and mercy is before my eyes.”
These are the higher principles that one must know in order to know God's ways, the mind of the Lord. Without understanding grace, one does not really know God, though one might seem to have all biblical knowledge—as did the Pharisees. It is apparent that Simeon and Levi's actions were abhorrent to Jacob, not simply out of fear of the Canaanites, but because of their merciless legalism.
The essence of Psalm 26, however, is its connection to the story of Reuben and how he lost the blessing of the birthright. It is also the story of how Joseph, Judah, and even Levi came to be blessed, as the three primary duties of the birthright were distributed between them. Of the three sons, only Levi's blessing was in a sense temporary, being superseded by the Order of Melchizedek in the end. Levi finally lost his priestly position because of his merciless legalism and bloodthirsty tendency, as manifested in the massacre of Shechem in Genesis 34. Even so, Levi was well suited for the bloody work of offering sacrifices. God uses even bad character for good purposes.
Shortly after leaving Bethel, Reuben had sexual relations with Bilhah, Jacob's concubine (Gen. 35:22). The book of Jasher says that Reuben was upset with his father, because after Rachel died, Jacob had moved his bed into Bilhah's tent, rather than the tent of Leah, who was Reuben's mother. Jasher 36:13-15 says,
13 And it was after the death of Rachel that Jacob pitched his tent in the tent of her hand maid Bilhah. 14 And Reuben was jealous for his mother Leah on account of this, and he was filled with anger, and he rose up in his anger and went and entered the tent of Bilhah and he thence removed his father's bed. 15 At that time the portion of birthright, together with the kingly and priestly offices, was removed from the sons of Reuben, for he had profaned his father's bed, and the birthright was given unto Joseph, the kingly office to Judah, and the priesthood unto Levi, because Reuben had defiled his father's bed.
It is interesting that Jasher fails to mention that Reuben had had sexual relations with Bilhah. Perhaps the text was altered later, though Moses preserved it in the book of Genesis. At any rate, Reuben's birthright was distributed among three other sons, so as not to concentrate it in one lineage. We read of this also in 1 Chron. 5:1, 2,
1 Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright. 2 Though Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came the leader, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph.)
We are told little about Jacob's reaction, other than he heard about it. But by not giving him the birthright, Jacob's displeasure and God's judgment is clearly seen. So it is not surprising that Psalm 26 reflects this, saying,
5 I hate the assembly of evil doers, and I will not sit with the wicked. 6 I shall wash my hands in innocence, and I will go about Thine altar, O Lord, 7 that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and declare all Thy wonders.
Jacob's children were not overcomers—at least not in their early lives. Though they were called the sons of Israel by genealogy, they were not the sons of Israel in the real biblical meaning of the term. Likewise, “a son of Abraham” is one who has the faith of Abraham. The “children of light” are those who walk in the light. The “sons of thunder” were loud and forceful people. The “children of the devil” were those that did the works of the devil in accusing the brethren. And so, a son of Israel (as in “the children of Israel ”) can be interpreted in two ways, depending on the context. Psalm 26:8 says,
8 O Lord, I love the habitation of Thy house, and the place where Thy glory dwells.
Jacob was at Bethel, the House of God, the place where God's glory rested. It was the place where Jacob had anointed the rock on his way to Laban's house many years earlier. Jacob anointed that same rock when he returned to Bethel (Gen. 35:14). That rock prophetically signifies the Messiah, the “Anointed One,” and the two anointings speak of the two comings of Christ. It speaks also of the two anointings of the Body of Christ—first at Pentecost, where the Church received the earnest of the Spirit; and finally at Tabernacles, where the overcomers will receive the fullness of the Spirit.
11 But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.
In contrast to his carnally-minded sons, Jacob-Israel resolved to be an overcomer.
David, too, was speaking of his own situation, for he had to contend with his own sons, such as Amnon, who raped his own sister, Tamar (2 Sam. 13:14). David then had to contend with another son, Absalom, who took matters into his own hand and killed Amnon. Later, Absalom led a revolt against David (2 Sam. 15). He was killed when David returned to claim his kingdom (2 Sam. 18:14). Finally, at the end of David's life, his son Adonijah tried to take the throne from Solomon and was ultimately executed.
When we look forward to see how this applied to Jesus Christ, we find once again that He was surrounded by carnally minded men, including His own disciples. Jesus' friend Judas betrayed Him, even as Ahithophel had betrayed David by siding with Absalom. The chief priests led a revolt against Jesus in a dispute over who ought to be the king-Messiah. Thus, we see the same troubles repeating in the lives of Jacob, David, and Jesus.
Ultimately, Psalm 26 is about receiving God's birthright blessing. It is illustrated in the story of Reuben and Absalom in the Old Testament, showing how one may lose the birthright. In this story, as the birthright is divided among three sons, it is clear that this birthright consists of: Rulership (Judah), Sonship (Joseph), and Priesthood (Levi). These are the three great blessings that may be gained or lost.
It now falls to us to follow the example set before us by these overcomers. In following the Repairer of the breach, we inherit all three of these blessings with Him. And then we can, in turn, bless the Lord as David wrote in the last verse of Psalm 26,
12 My foot stands on a level place; in the congregations I shall bless the Lord.
Psalm 27 is the 26th psalm. Twenty-six is the number signifying the Power of Salvation.
Psalm 27 is entitled, “A Psalm of David.” Here he speaks of the power of salvation that will overcome all of his enemies. And so he writes in the opening verse,
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?
He continues in this vein until verses 4 and 5, where we see the reason for his great confidence and strength.
4 One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple. 5 For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of his tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.
This psalm looks back to Jacob when he was dwelling at Bethel, the “House of God.” During his stay there, Jacob had nothing to fear from the Canaanites, because the terror of the Lord was upon them (Gen. 35:5). Jacob-Israel had been lifted “on a rock” (Psalm 27:5), and that rock was Christ—“anointed” (1 Cor. 19:4). This was the rock that Jacob had anointed on the first time he was at Bethel (Gen. 28:18). But then he had only spent a single night at Bethel. On his second trip he dwelt at Bethel for some time, probably over a year. And during this second stay, he again anointed the same rock. Gen. 35:14, 15 says,
14 And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He had spoken with him, a pillar of stone, and he poured out a libation on it; he also poured oil on it. 15 So Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him, Bethel.
Twenty two years earlier, Jacob had used this pillar as his pillow when he spent the night there (Gen. 28:18). When our heads rest upon Christ, the anointed Rock, we can say with David in Psalm 27:6,
5... He will lift me up on a rock. 6 And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me....
Notice that David says “He will lift ME up on a rock,” and then immediately says “now MY HEAD will be lifted up.” This is a veiled reference to Jacob, whose head rested upon the anointed rock at Bethel. It speaks of identification with Christ, for the anointed rock was a type of Christ. Laying one's head upon that rock portrays the desire to obtain the mind of Christ and His “headship.” Psalm 27 continues,
8 When Thou didst say, “Seek my face,” my heart said to Thee, “Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
Presence and face come from the same Hebrew word, Paniym. Jacob had seen God face to face earlier when wrestling with the angel (Gen. 32:30). He was transformed from Jacob to Israel by beholding Him face to face.
David, too, longed for the continuous presence of Christ, saying in verses 9 and 10,
9 Do not hide Thy face from me, do not turn Thy servant away in anger; Thou hast been my help; do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation! 10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.
Both Jacob and David had been sent away by their parents—in effect, providing a type of abandonment (Gen. 28:2). The law tells us in Exodus 22:21-24 that those who have no earthly covering (such as widows, orphans, and strangers) are covered directly by God Himself, who then defends them directly from oppressors. Thus, when David's parents were forced to renounce him to avoid Saul's persecution, God became David's covering. So also it is with the overcomers who are orphaned, excommunicated, and driven away by the Church for the sake of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
As I showed in my book, The Wheat and Asses of Pentecost, King Saul was a type of the Pentecostal in the Old Testament. David was a type of the overcomer who was persecuted by the Saul Church and forced to live in hiding in the wilderness as an outlaw. The Church has trained many such overcomers over the years by its persecuting spear and sword. Thus, David said in Psalm 27:13, 14,
13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.
Wilderness training is to break one's dependence upon the Church (submission to men) and to strengthen one's reliance upon God alone. This is how God prepares the overcomers to preach the pure word. He often must bring them into the wilderness outside of the Church systems of men in order to teach them to hear God's voice and to rely upon Him alone. For this reason, Psalm 27 focuses not only upon dwelling in the House of God (Bethel), but also encourages the overcomers to take courage and wait for the Lord. Though the wilderness training might be long, depending upon one's calling, they will surely “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Psalm 28 is the 27th psalm. Twenty-seven is the number signifying the Ministry of Salvation. Scripture shows us the double-edged sword of Salvation, for one cannot come into life without first dying. Paul says in Rom. 6:7, “for he who had died is freed [justified] from sin.” This is a divine paradox that death produces life. Thus, we find this dual nature of salvation to be central to the 27th psalm (i.e., Psalm 28).
The concept of Salvation must also be seen in the light of Jesus' name, Yeshua, which means “Salvation.” Thus, as Peter said, “there is no other name under heaven, that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The Ministry of Salvation, then, cannot be separated from Jesus Christ Himself and the work that He did on the cross to bring us life.
Psalm 28 is entitled, “A Psalm of David.” In it, David prays not to die like the wicked, but to be saved from death. The psalm begins,
1 To Thee, O Lord, I call; my rock, do not be deaf to me, lest, if Thou be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit.... 3 Do not drag me away with the wicked and with those who work iniquity; who speak peace with their neighbors, while evil is in their hearts.
In verse 6 David rejoices that his prayer has been heard. He ends the psalm by speaking of salvation in verse 9,
9 Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance; be their shepherd also, and carry them for ever.
Psalm 28 also looks back to Rachel's death while giving birth to Benjamin. As she was dying in childbirth, she named him Benoni, “son of my sorrow,” for in the first coming of Christ, He came to die as “ a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief ” (Isaiah 53:3). But Jacob named him Benjamin, “son of my right hand,” for this name speaks of Christ seated at the right hand of the Father (Heb. 1:13).
These two names picture the two works of Christ that make up the full Ministry of Christ. All of this is pictured in the law. In Leviticus 14 we find that it takes two doves to cleanse lepers. The first was to be killed, and the second was to be dipped in the blood of the first dove and let loose (alive) in the open field. Since leprosy is a type of slow death (mortality) in Scripture, this law pictures how Christ comes to bring us out of death into immortal life. The two doves portray Christ in His two manifestations—the first to die, and the second to come with His robe dipped in blood (Rev. 19:13).
In Leviticus 16 we see the law which prophesies of the manner in which Christ deals with the problem of SIN. It took two goats to deal with sin. The first was killed, and the second released into the wilderness. Once again, this prophesied of Christ's two manifestations. The field in which the dove was released is the same as the wilderness in which the goat was released. Both represent the world (Matt. 13:38).
The two names of Rachel's son, Benoni and Benjamin, give us another story prophesying of the two manifestations of Christ, the first time as a man of sorrows, and the second as the one seated at the right hand of the Father. Both of these must be taken together to understand the full Ministry of Christ. Likewise, in order for a man to be saved, or justified, he must be “crucified with Christ” and identify with Christ's death. This qualifies him to identify also in His life. Rom. 6:5 says,
5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.
Benoni-Benjamin, then, not only looks ahead to Christ but also to the Body of Christ. Jesus Christ's ministry, as manifested in both of His manifestations, brings the complete Salvation for all men. In fact, for Salvation to be complete, the second manifestation of Christ must take place historically. Even so, on an individual level, we are already living out the principles of death and life, which the prophecy of Benoni-Benjamin reveals.
Psalm 29 is the 28th psalm. Twenty-eight is the number of the leading of the Spirit. Thus, the main theme of the psalm is the leading of the Spirit by the voice of God.
Psalm 29 is entitled, “A Psalm of David.” This psalm was sung at the time of the drink offerings on Tishri 1 (feast of Trumpets) and Tishri 16 (2nd day of Tabernacles).
Psalm 29 is first a psalm that celebrates the divine revelation that David himself enjoyed in the presence of God. Seven times in this psalm David speaks of the voice of the Lord. The first is in verse 3,
3 The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord is over many waters.
Psalm 29 also looks back to the revelatory dreams that God gave to Joseph in Gen. 37:5-11. Joseph's brothers hated him for these dreams, because they indicated that they would ultimately bow to their younger brother. “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” they asked in Gen. 37:8.
We understand that Joseph was a type of Christ in His second manifestation, and that the overcomers are called to rule and reign with Christ after the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6). Thus, Joseph's dreams have a prophetic significance going far beyond his own life and experience. It prophesies of the overcomers ruling and reigning over their brethren—the other believers—in the Tabernacles Age to come. The overcomers are the ones who heard the voice of God and learned obedience, as they were led by the Spirit.
Jesus was born on the feast of Trumpets (Tishri 1) in the year 2 B.C. (See my book, When REALLY Was Jesus Born?) The fact that Psalm 29 was read on the day Jesus was born shows it to be a prophecy of Jesus. Likewise, the overcomers are to be raised from the dead on the feast of Trumpets, called “the seventh trumpet.” And so, Psalm 29 prophesies not only of Jesus Himself, but also of His Body that will rule and reign with Him over His other brethren.
Psalm 30 is the 29th psalm. Twenty-nine is the number of departure.
Psalm 30 is entitled, “A Psalm and Song at the Dedication of the House of David.” This is the title of Psalm 30, not the postscript from Psalm 29. Psalm 30 is David's praise to God for keeping him alive in the wilderness. Although David by this time had become king of all Israel and had built his own house on Mount Zion, this psalm looks back to the previous years in which he was a fugitive in the wilderness. In fact, the psalm thanks God for allowing him to depart from the wilderness. Hence, this is the 29th psalm, which is the number of departure. And so he says,
1 I will extol Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast lifted me up, and hast not let my enemies rejoice over me. 2 O Lord my God, I cried to Thee for help, and Thou didst heal me. 3 O Lord, Thou hast brought up my soul from Sheol; Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
Psalm 30 also looks back to Joseph and ahead to Christ. Joseph's brothers first placed him into a pit, prophesying the death and burial of Jesus in His first coming. This brings to mind the Hebrew terminology that when a person dies, the soul “departs.” (See Gen. 35:18.) So David speaks of death and deliverance from death. Even as Joseph was brought up out of the pit (Gen. 37:28), so also was Jesus raised from the dead. In that sense, to be resurrected is to depart from the grave.
Joseph's brother Judah suggested that they sell Joseph to the Ishmeelites for 20 pieces of silver (Gen. 37:25-28), even as Judas later betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matt. 26:14, 15). Joseph then departed with his new masters to go to Egypt, in order that he might mature through suffering and learn how to rule as a blessing to others, rather than as a tyrant. All of this was part of the divine plan, including the heartache and suffering. Joseph's father, Jacob, mourned for his son. Gen. 37:34 says,
34 So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
Psalm 30:5 reflects this idea, saying,
5 For His anger is for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.
The suffering is temporary in the plan of God, and its purpose is to teach us the lesson set forth in Romans 8:28,
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Joseph not only is a type of Christ, but also a type of overcomers associated with Christ in His second appearance. They, too, have overcome persecution and death. They, too, have robes dipped in blood. They, too, have tasted both the youthful prosperity and the bitterness that brings maturity, which both David and Joseph felt, as expressed in Psalm 30:6, 7,
6 Now as for me, I said in my prosperity, “I will never be moved.” 7 O Lord, by Thy favor Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong; Thou didst hide Thy face, I was dismayed.
Jesus Himself felt lonely and forsaken on the cross, saying in Matt. 27:46, “ My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” So also the overcomers have been led to taste of His suffering in the earth through many trials, often feeling as if abandoned. This trial is necessary in order to believe His promise even when He appears to have forgotten them. It is the lesson Israel had to learn in the wilderness in Exodus 17:7, when they questioned God, asking, “ Is the Lord among us or not?”
When God appears to have departed from us, and we are left with only His promise to stand upon, it can be a living death, but it also teaches us the most profound lesson in faith and trust, which we could never learn otherwise.
And so, Psalm 30, the 29th psalm, expresses how David, Joseph, Jesus, and the overcomers have felt about departing to go into “Egypt,” as well as how it feels to have God seem to depart from them and forsake them. Yet all of this works together for good, for such departures bring the maturity needed to rule in righteousness, which is expressed by the number 30 in Psalm 31.
Psalm 30 ends with the subscript, “To the chief Musician.”
Psalm 31 is the 30th psalm. Thirty is the number of dedication for rulership.
Psalm 31 is entitled, “A Psalm of David.”
Joseph, David, and Jesus were all dedicated (consecrated) to God at the age of thirty in order to rule in righteousness. Jesus was baptized by John when He was thirty, and this was His dedication ceremony. His baptism was His legal death, and it put Him on the path that ultimately would lead to the cross, where He was publicly declared to be “King of the Judeans” by inscription and by the crown of thorns.
The irony of Jesus' coronation at the cross is no less an irony than the very definition of rulership, for He who would be the greatest in the Kingdom must be the greatest servant. Luke 22:24-26 says,
24 And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. 25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Nations lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.' 26 But not so with you, but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.”
Matthew 23:11 says also, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”
The cross coronation was the greatest irony in the history of the world. Psalm 31 speaks of David's persecution, and includes verse 5, which Jesus quoted on the cross just as He was about to die:
5 Into Thy hands I commit My spirit; Thou hast ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth.
When Jesus died, He quoted the first half of this verse in Luke 23:46. The rest of the verse has a dual application. First, as it applies to Jesus Himself, we see that He knew that God would not leave His soul in Hades (Acts 2:31), but that He would be ransomed from the grave. Secondly, as it applies to us, the verse indicates that His death on the cross ransomed us from the power of sin and death (Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:6).
In committing His spirit to God, we see the Great Sacrifice being offered and dedicated to God. The very act itself qualified Jesus to be the King over all creation, for in that act, He became the world's greatest Servant.
Likewise it was for David and for Joseph. To be subjected to such persecution and grief provided the greatest opportunity either to become embittered or to learn to love and forgive those who have mistreated us.
Psalm 32 is the 31st psalm. Thirty-one is the number of offspring.
Psalm 32 is entitled, “A Psalm of David, Maschil.” Maschil means “giving instruction.” Psalm 32 is the first of thirteen “Maschil psalms. (The others are Psalms 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89, and 142.)
In Psalm 42, David reveals how God trains His sons in the wilderness to bring them into the understanding necessary for Sonship. Likewise, this applies to Joseph, whom God trained through much tribulation in Egypt, so that he would know the Father by experience and would be able to rule Egypt wisely. Such training can be rigorous, depending upon one's calling.
Psalm 32 begins with a statement of positional righteousness:
1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! 2 How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
To “cover” sin is to atone for sin. The word “atone” is kaphar, which means “to cover.” There are two types of righteousness: imputed and infused. In the law that gives instructions for the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16), they were to take two goats, kill the first, and release the second into the wilderness.
The blood of the first goat was to be sprinkled on the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place to COVER sin. As for the second goat, the high priest was to lay hands upon its head and impute all the sins, transgressions, and iniquities of the people on to that goat and release it alive into the wilderness.
The first goat prophesies of Christ's first coming and His death on the Cross. As the High Priest, He brought His own blood into the Most Holy Place in the Temple in heaven to COVER our sin and impute righteousness to us. To impute means to call what is NOT as though it were, as Paul explains in Romans 4:17 in his great chapter on the doctrine of imputed righteousness.
It takes a second work of Christ to infuse righteousness into us and to make us actually righteous.
Thus, the first work of Christ makes us legally righteous in our position with God. God looks upon Christ as our righteousness and treats us AS IF we were actually perfect. Blessed is the man who has that understanding, for such a man is no longer beaten down by his imperfections. He knows that his sin is covered, and that God does not impute sin to him, but rather the righteousness of Christ.
That is one of the most foundational revelations in the training of God's Sons. David went through many tribulations, not because God was punishing him for sin, but because God was showing him that in spite of his imperfections, he was a son-in-training. God led him every step of the way.
Likewise, Joseph was led into Egypt as a slave, not because God considered him to be unrighteous, nor because God was punishing him for some sin—secret or otherwise. God considered him to be perfect in his standing before God, based upon the righteousness of Christ, though he yet had to be brought into spiritual maturity through suffering.
This great doctrine of imputation was more fully discussed in Romans 4, where the Greek word logizomai is translated in three ways: impute, reckon, and count. Yet it is defined and illustrated in verse 17. Even as God imputed many children to Abraham before he had even a single child, so also does God impute righteousness to us before we have any of our own. God calls what is NOT as though it were.
From this newly-discovered positional righteousness, we are set free from the bondage of guilt, so that we can begin our training as sons. This training is designed to bring us experientially into alignment with our legal position in Christ. One of the most basic lessons to be learned is found at the end of verse 2: “and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
In other words, we must see the truth clearly and know where our righteousness lies. We must see the clear contrast between our Adamic man and the New Man in Christ. We must have no illusions, no self-deception, that might make us trust in the arm of flesh. Likewise, we must have no illusions about the reality of our flesh. There are some who think that if could be deny the existence of the flesh, it would go away. If we could convince ourselves that it is but an illusion, we could overcome it. But Paul clearly says that God calls what is NOT as though it were. One must recognize what IS NOT in order to know what IS.
In Psalm 32:4 and 5, David explains the painful process by which he finally came to know God's imputed righteousness:
4 For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. [Selah] 5 I acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; and Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin. [Selah]
Note that David did not try to apply the power of positive thinking here. He did not say, “I will refuse to recognize sin in my life, and I will confess only good things about myself.” No, he acknowledged the existence of his flesh, repented for it, and thereby found forgiveness and peace with God. He knew it was important for spiritual growth—and indeed, the purpose of our earthly sojourn, to experience and understand sinful flesh.
In verse 8, David shows us God's answer which he came to know by revelation:
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. 9 Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you.
God takes personal responsibility for our training. He is raising our level of understanding beyond that of a horse or mule. He is training us in obedience through love, so that we will not run away from God when He calls, but will come running with eager anticipation to do His will.
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones, and shout for joy all you who are upright in heart.
Once again, David is speaking about those who have learned that in spite of the condition of their Adamic flesh, they are—in the sight of God—perfectly righteous, and need not fear the judgment of God. Though He does bring discipline into our lives, without which we are not true sons at all (Heb. 12:5-11), yet we do not need to fear or run from God to avoid those disciplines. His discipline comes from a loving heart, “for we also are His offspring” (Acts 17:28).
And so, all the lessons learned by David and Joseph are applicable to us as well, as Paul explains in Romans 4. The training is much the same in all ages, for the human problem is common to all, and though each context is different, the lessons of Sonship are the same.
Psalm 33 is the 32nd psalm. Thirty-two is the number of covenant.
Psalm 33 has no title, but it speaks prophetically of the fulfillment of God's promise both to David and to Joseph, when each was given authority in the earth. The psalm begins this way:
1 Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; praise is becoming to the upright.
The reason for such praise is due to the fact that the Lord's word can be trusted. What He says, He does, even if the promises come after many years of seeming failure. Thus, when God makes a covenant with men, we can know that He will fulfill it in His own time, and then is the time of rejoicing. Verses 4, 6, and 9 tell us:
4 For the word of the Lord is upright; and all His work is done in faithfulness.... 6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host... 9 For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.
The first time the word “covenant” is used in Scripture is found in Genesis 9. After the flood, God made a covenant, not only with Noah and his family, but with the whole earth and every living creature on the face of the earth (Gen. 9:16). This is the foundation of all subsequent covenants, for it establishes the divine purpose in the earth in what Acts 3:21 calls “the restoration of all things.” Later, the Abrahamic covenant promised that his seed would be the vehicle through whom these blessings would be distributed.
Then the covenant with Israel under Moses set forth the moral standard which would be attained in this restoration of all things. Of course, that covenant obligated men to become righteous by the discipline of their own flesh, which turned out to be an impossible task. Hence, the New Covenant later made the change, whereby God obligated Himself to do the work in men through the impartation of the Holy Spirit. In this way, the Ten Commandments were transformed into the Ten Promises of God, the obligation being upon God Himself to transform men's hearts so that “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not covet.”
The David covenant established rulership in the earth—the administrators of the divine law—with Jesus Christ being the prime Inheritor and King.
David himself was a type of Christ, and the establishment of his throne manifested an Old Testament type of the final administration of the Kingdom of God. Hence, Psalm 33:12 reads,
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.
This spoke first of King David, whose throne established a nation under God, for David did not consider the throne to be his own. He was merely a deputy-king who was charged to rule by the mind of God. This was unlike Saul's attitude before him, for Saul ruled in rebellion against God, as if the throne belonged to him and he could do as he pleased. David ruled as Christ; Saul ruled as Antichrist, usurping the throne and ruling by his own mind and will.
This same principle also looks back to Joseph. When God put Joseph in authority in Egypt, it established a prophetic type of Christ ruling over the world—for Egypt represents the world. Even as David established a pattern in Israel, so Joseph established a world-wide pattern in Egypt, showing that God is interested in ruling more than a single nation on earth.
Psalm 33:13-17 reflects on the sovereignty of God, and verse 16 says that “the king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not delivered by great strength.” The true power of a king is based upon God's will, not man's will. Verse 17 says,
17 A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.
This was true with both Joseph and David, and it continues to be true for us today. Verses 18 and 19 seem to point directly to Joseph, saying,
18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His loving kindness, 19 to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
Certainly, this reminds us of the great famine that came in the days of Joseph, and how Joseph's seven-year food storage program saved many people alive, including his own family. Joseph's great statement of God's sovereignty is given in Gen. 50:19, 20,
19 But Joseph said to them [his brothers, who had sold him as a slave into Egypt], “Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? 20 And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about the present result, to preserve many people alive.”
And so, Psalm 33, which is the 32nd psalm, says that God's covenant promises can be trusted. He brings things to pass, not by the strength of men, but by His own power. The time between the promise and its fulfillment is a faith-building time, during which time it appears that the promises are doomed to failure. In this way, God not only does His will, but He also trains us in faith to have confidence in His sovereign power to fulfill His word.
Psalm 34 is the 33rd psalm. Thirty-three is the number of a sign or evidence.
Psalm 34 is entitled: “A Psalm of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed.”
This is an acrostic psalm, written to commemorate the time when David pretended to be insane so that the Philistine king would not think he was a threat (1 Sam. 21:10-15). After all, David was known to have killed Goliath some years earlier. The Philistine king was named Achish, king of Gath, but the title of all the Philistine kings was Abimelech, “Father-King.”
Psalm 34, therefore, gives praise to God for delivering him out of danger. Psalm 34: 4-6 reads,
4 I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears... 6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
The first level of application, of course, is David's own experience where God saved him from prison or certain death. Yet looking back to the story of Joseph, it speaks of his deliverance from prison (Gen. 41:14). But more than this, Joseph's preservation is the opportunity to manifest the signs of his divine calling, which was to save many people alive (Gen. 50:20). Thus, when his brothers came to buy grain, Joseph was there to fulfill this divine purpose. This itself was a sign that Joseph was a type of Christ.
Looking ahead, we see that it is also prophetic of Christ, who was delivered from the prison of death itself. The first prophetic parallel to notice is the fact that the Philistines represent the carnal mind, which cannot understand the things of the Spirit. Paul says in 1 Cor. 2:14,
14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness [moronic] to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
Thus, David appeared to be foolish (i.e., insane) to the Philistine king. This was a type of the Gospel of Christ, for the plan of the cross itself is sheer insanity to the natural mind of man. For this reason, David was led by the Spirit to act as if he were insane.
Psalm 34:20 prophesies of the manner of Christ's death on the cross, saying, “ He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.” John tells us that this was prophetic, for we read in John 19:31-33,
31 The Jews therefore, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 The soldiers therefore came, and broke the legs of the first man, and of the other man who was crucified with Him; 33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs... 36 For these things came to pass, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “ Not a bone of Him shall be broken.”
This prophecy was important, because of the symbolism of His bones. When God took Eve out of Adam, it was said in Gen. 2:23,
23 And the man said, “This [Eve] is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.”
Jesus Christ is called the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45), and He too has a Bride that has been taken out of Him. That Bride is represented by His bones, “because we are members of His Body” (Eph. 5:30). He died for her and is currently working within her by the Holy Spirit, as Eph. 5:27 says,
27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.
So we see that Psalm 34:20 gives us the sign that is prophetic of Christ, the antitype of both David and Joseph. In fact, all of the Old Testament types and shadows, which are prophetic of Christ, are prophetic signs by which we can identify the true Messiah in the New Testament.
Not only is this sign fulfilled in the crucifixion of Christ—in that none of His bones were broken—but it is also applicable directly to us today as members of His Bride, for we are “ bone of His bones.”
Psalm 35 is the 34th psalm. Thirty-four is the number of identification.
Psalm 35 is entitled: “A Psalm of David.” In this psalm, David is identified as a type of Christ, for we find the name of Jesus mentioned twice by name (in verses 3 and 9). Likewise, we find in verse 17 the Hebrew term yahid, translated “darling” (KJV). It is the equivalent to the New Testament term monogenous, “only-begotten” and identifies the one who is given the birthright.
Psalm 35:3 says, “Say to my soul, “ I am your salvation ” [Heb. Yeshua]. Verse 9 continues, saying, “And my soul shall rejoice in the Lord; it shall exult in His salvation” [Heb. Yeshua]. This identifies Yeshua (i.e, Jesus' Hebrew name) as the God of the Old Testament and the God of David himself. But it also hits of Yeshua speaking through David and thus prophesies of Jesus Christ through David.
David himself speaks of persecution, abuse, and false accusations against him, for he was a type of Christ.
11 Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me of things that I do not know. 12 They repay me evil for good, to the bereavement of my soul.
We read of Jesus' trial in Matt. 26:59, 60,
59 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, in order that they might put Him to death; 60 and they did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward.”
Again, David writes in Psalm 35:15 and 16,
15 But at my stumbling they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together; the smiters whom I did not know gathered together against me, they slandered me without ceasing. 16 Like godless jesters at a feast, they gnashed at me with their teeth.
Matt. 26:66, 67 says,
66 “What do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death!” 67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him, 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, you Christ; who is the one who hit you?”
The more they vented their hatred at Jesus, the more they proved the words of David and established His calling as the Messiah, the anointed King of the line of David. Psalm 35:19 and 26 continues,
19 Do not let those who are wrongfully my enemies rejoice over me; neither let those who hate me without cause wink maliciously... 26 Let those be ashamed and humiliated altogether who rejoice at my distress; let those be clothed with shame and dishonor who magnify themselves over me.
Even as Absalom magnified himself over David by usurping his throne, so also the Jewish leaders magnified themselves over Christ by usurping His throne (Matt. 21:38). Yet it is clear not only from David's writings, but also from his experience, that all of the false contenders for his throne failed in the end, and Absalom himself was killed. So also will the Jewish usurpation come to a similar conclusion.
All of this not only speaks of David and of Christ, but also looks back to Joseph, who is the other type of Christ in the book of Genesis. Joseph was sold as a slave into Egypt in order that Judah might usurp his birthright. Hence, David writes in Psalm 35:7,
7 For without cause they hid their net for me; without cause they dug a pit for my soul.
This refers us back to the time when Joseph's brothers threw him into a pit before selling him as a slave (Gen. 37:24). On a secondary level, once in Egypt, Joseph was again cast into a type of “pit,” this time a prison, after being falsely accused (Gen. 39:20) by Potiphar's wife.
But Joseph was ultimately brought out of prison, even as Jesus Christ was brought out of the prison of death and the grave. Psalm 35 then brings us to the place where Joseph is identified by his brothers and his father. It is the moment where the lost son of the Birthright has been found and identified as the true Birthright holder. Gen. 45:4 says,
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.”
His brothers are terrorized and ashamed of their actions, for now their guilt is made manifest, whereas up to that time they had been able to hide their actions from their father. Furthermore, Joseph then the power—and the right—to put them to death. But Joseph said in verse 5,
5 And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.
Joseph sent his brothers back to their father to tell him the good news.
25 Then they went up from Egypt and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. 26 And they told him, saying, “Joseph is alive, and indeed he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” But he was stunned, for he did not believe them. 27 When they told him all the words of Joseph that he had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 Then Israel said, “It is enough; my son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”
And so the story had a happy ending. Joseph was found alive; his brothers repented; and his father lived long enough to see him and to impart to him the Birthright. David says in Psalm 35:27, 28,
27 Let them shout for joy and rejoice, who favor my vindication; and let them say continually, “The Lord be magnified, who delights in the prosperity of His servant.” 28 And my tongue shall declare Thy righteousness and Thy praise all day long.
Psalm 36 is the 35th psalm. Thirty-five is the number of vindication.
Psalm 36 is entitled literally: “Relating to Jehovah's Servant, by David.” It is the second of two psalms entitled in this way, the other being Psalm 18. Psalm 18 was written after God had delivered David from the hand of all his enemies, including Saul. God had worked all things out for his good. Psalm 36 is similar in its message, for it vindicates God for His way of bringing His servants through many tribulations. God is ultimately vindicated by working all things out for good in the end.
This was a lesson that Job also had to learn, for he knew that God had allowed him to be smitten at the hand of Satan for a season. Job's wise response is found in Job 2:10,
10... Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity (ra'a, “evil”)? In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
His friends, who did not really understand the mind of God, tried to find other explanations for Job's troubles, but Job always gave God the credit for everything. In the end, when the Lord turned the situation around, he was vindicated in his faith, even as God was vindicated in His actions. The great lesson in Job is that we ought not to think so highly of ourselves that we think we know better than God how to govern the universe. Even Job's family and friends came to the same conclusion in Job 42:11,
11 Then all his brothers and all his sisters, and all who had known him before, came to him, and they ate bread with him in his house, and they consoled him and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought on him.
In similar fashion, God had brought David through many troubles before entrusting him with the throne of Israel. And so the psalm begins this way (quoting from the Concordant Version):
1 The wicked one has a watchword of “Transgression” within his heart; there is no awe of Elohim in front of his eyes. 2 For he apportions too much to himself in his own eyes to find out his depravity and to hate it.
In other words, the wicked have no real respect (“awe”) toward God. And so such a man “apportions too much to himself in his own eyes.” That is, he thinks too highly of himself and trusts too much to his own reasoning and understanding to really know the depths of his mortal condition.
This is precisely what tribulation is designed to correct in us after its work is finished. We cannot comprehend how God can work all things out for our good, because we are humanly incapable of doing it—though many men are haughty enough to think that they can do evil for a good purpose. But the testimony of David in verse 3 is:
3 The words of his mouth are lawlessness and deceit; he evades even to contemplate doing good. 4 He devises lawlessness on his bed; he stations himself on a pathway that is not good.
In contrast to the wickedness of the natural man, we see God presented as the All-Wise and All-Powerful One who is truly good, even though He appears to do evil things to His people. It is really a matter of perspective, for in our immaturity, we do not comprehend the deeper purposes of God, nor do we really trust Him with our fate.
But David then breaks forth into praise to God in verse 5,
5 O Yahweh, Your benignity reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness unto the skies. 6 Your righteousness is like the mountain ranges of El, Your judgment like the vast abyss... 8 They are satisfied with the richness of Your House, and You give them the watercourse of Your luxuries to drink; 9 For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light shall we see light.
David affirms that the only way we can truly see the light is through the light of divine revelation, which He works in us by experience. These are the words of one who has experienced both good and evil from the hand of God and, having come out the other end, can say that God really is good, even if He appears to do evil things in the world. Then, as if to warn us once more of the pride of the human mind, he says in verse 11,
11 Do not let the foot of pride come against me; and do not let the hand of the wicked cause me to wander.
When we apply this psalm to the story of Joseph, we see another great illustration of how God uses evil for an ultimately good purpose. Joseph's brothers sold him as a slave into Egypt, intending it for evil, but God worked behind the scenes to turn it all into good. Joseph came to see this and gave God all the credit for sending him to Egypt. Gen. 45:5 says,
5 And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life... 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. 8 Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
This is one of the greatest lessons that we can learn. Many Christians have been taught to think as children—that all good comes from God, while all bad things come from the devil. Such dualistic thinking often motivates them to fight God, thinking they are fighting the devil. They have not learned the lesson found in Job 1:7-12 that the devil needs God's permission to do anything to us. He is only a servant.
Therefore, nothing that Satan does is outside of God's sovereign control. If Satan attacks us, we ought to deal with God and inquire of God's purpose, so that we know how to deal with the problem. In this way, we vindicate God by showing Him that we do indeed have faith that He does all things well, even as Paul says in Romans 8:28,
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
The lesson of Psalm 36 (the 35th psalm) also looks ahead to Jesus Himself and to His crucifixion. What greater evil could have been done in the earth than to crucify the Son of God? And yet “the Lord was pleased to crush Him” (Isaiah 53:10), and in fact the divine plan from the beginning was for Him to be crucified. For this reason, when God named the constellations, He put in the heavens the Southern Cross as a witness of this.
Jesus went willingly to the cross, knowing that this greatest of evils would result in the greatest good the world had ever known. He is our Example of obedience and joy even in the face of the worst possible death and shame—the death on the cross.
And so this speaks also to us. Since the beginning of time, we have seen examples of evil things happening to good people. How are we to vindicate God through all of this? Are we simply to blame the devil? Are we simply to blame evil men? Are we to remove from God's shoulders the responsibility for evil that He takes upon Himself in Scripture?
No, this is not the way to vindicate God's name, for such pseudo-vindication would come only at the expense of His sovereignty. The biblical way of vindicating God is to show that (to those who love God) all things work together for good.
Psalm 37 is the 36th psalm. Thirty-six is the number of the adversary, or enemy.
Psalm 37 is an acrostic psalm entitled, “A Psalm of David.” After God has been vindicated (36), He then begins to restore all things and reconcile all enemies to Himself. This is how God subdues His adversaries. David's terminology, of course, is in accordance with the Old Covenant method of subduing enemies by conquest. But there is more than one way to eliminate enemies. The New Covenant method is by turning them into friends.
And so, while David's terminology is appropriate for his time and accurately portrays his real-life experience, we see a very different portrait painted when we look back to the story of Joseph, which this psalm also illustrates.
David starts out by saying in verses 1-4,
1 Do not fret because of evildoers; be not envious toward wrongdoers. 2 For they will wither quickly like the grass, and fade like the green herb. 3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
We know from the Scriptures that David was opposed by many evildoers, including King Saul, whose rebellion against God perpetuated witchcraft in the land. But David refused to kill Saul when the opportunity presented itself, because He had faith in God's purposes in allowing Saul to rule for his full allotment of time.
Ultimately, we must all learn not to fret because of evildoers, nor to be envious of all the so-called “pleasures” that they do without any apparent accountability. Their rewards are nothing in comparison to what is in store for the believers. If our delight is truly in the Lord, we will be given the desires of our heart. Of course, this does not mean that we will be given the desires of our flesh, for then would our delight not truly be in the Lord at all.
5 Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. 6 And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noon day. 7 Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him... 9 Those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land [eretz, “land or earth”].
Jesus referred to this verse in Matthew 5:5, saying, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” The meek, then, are those described by David as not fretting about the evildoers or envying them. They are the ones who wait patiently for Him and who trust Him, knowing that even the evildoers are part of the divine plan to show us the ways of mortal, fallen men. It takes trust to believe that all things together for good.
Looking back to the story of Joseph, we see God working not only in Joseph's heart but also in the heart of his brethren. In the end, Judah's confession and repentance is the signal for Joseph to reveal his true identity (Gen. 45:1-3).
God worked in secret to change the hearts of the evildoers—in this case, Joseph's brothers, who had sold him as a slave to Egypt. God also used this evil to train Joseph in the principles of the Kingdom of God, for it is certain that Joseph learned not to fret over the evildoers, even as David learned the same lesson many years later.
Egypt itself represents the world in biblical symbolism. In the great historical allegory in the story of Joseph, we find that Joseph represents Christ in His second appearance and also serves to represent the Body of Christ, the overcomers, who will rule and reign with Him. Pharaoh, then, represents God the Father, under whom Joseph rules Egypt. The non-overcoming believers are Joseph's brothers, who inherit the earth under Joseph.
In this scenario, we find an interesting purpose for the famine. Not only did it bring Joseph's brothers to Egypt; it also served to make Pharaoh the owner of all the land in Egypt. We read in Gen. 47 that the world citizens of Egypt and Canaan spent all their money buying food, which Joseph put into Pharaoh's treasury. When they ran out of money, they turned over all their cattle to Joseph, and finally their own bodies, for they said in Gen. 47:19,
19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be slaves to Pharaoh... 20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for every Egyptian sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. Thus the land became Pharaoh's.
And so we see the divine purpose of the famine was give the whole land of Egypt to Pharaoh. This was a historical allegory to illustrate the restoration of all things, wherein all things are put under the feet of Christ (1 Cor. 15:27, 28).
The “famine” today, however, is not a famine of food, although there is always a famine in some part of the world. It is rather, as Amos says in 8:11,
11 Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord.
God has caused a famine of hearing the Word today. The famine has crept even into the Church, where the Word has been displaced by programs, activities, social functions, and entertainment. But world conditions are now creating a hunger for the word, and coming events will prove that the popular views of Bible prophecy were all wrong. This will create an immediate and immense hunger to know the Word.
Up to now, the Gospels of Passover and Pentecost have been preached to most places in the world. Many have learned the meaning of Justification by faith and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But only a few know anything about the third and crowning glory of the Gospel—the Message of the Feast of Tabernacles, that third great feast.
The overcomers are those who know the message of the hour at the time in which they live. Though the rest are blinded, their eyes remain open. And during the famine of hearing the Word, the revelation of God sustains them, and they find plenty of food available for them. Psalm 37:19 prophesies this:
19 They will not be ashamed in the time of evil; and in the days of famine they will have abundance... 25 I have been young, and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his descendants begging bread.
Inherent in the Gospel of Tabernacles is the concept of the Restoration of All Things, which is the capstone of the Gospel of the Kingdom, showing how all of creation will come under the feet of Christ. As the people of the world come to accept Christ as their King, then Psalm 37:10 will be fulfilled in a New Covenant manner:
10 Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place, and he will not be there.
There will be no more wicked men, not because they will all be dead, but because they will all be converted to Christ. So also the prophet Jeremiah foretold of the day when there would be no more inhabitants of Babylon (Jer. 50:13; 51:3). In the Old Covenant fulfillment, this meant that all the inhabitants evacuated the city, making it a ghost town. In the New Covenant fulfillment, this foreshadows the day that all those former citizens of Babylon will become followers of Christ and will become citizens of the Kingdom of God.
Psalm 37 is about inheritance. David inherited the kingdom from Saul. Joseph inherited the kingdom from Pharaoh and the Birthright from his father. Joseph's brothers inherited the land of Goshen. Pharaoh inherited the land of Egypt. Even the citizens of Egypt inherited life, for in their dependence upon Pharaoh, they were sustained.
So also the overcomers will inherit immortal life in the first resurrection and will rule as the Joseph company and the David company in the Tabernacles Age to come. Who are these people? David describes them in Psalm 37,
31 The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. 32 The wicked spies upon the righteous, and seeks to kill him. 33 The Lord will not leave him in his hand, or let him be condemned when he is judged.
In other words, the righteous are not those with a performance-based religion, nor are they the ones who have a form of godliness, or try to conform to a righteous standard written on external tables of stone. They are the ones who have the law written on the tables of their hearts (2 Cor. 3:3). This means they do what Jesus would do, and they do so by nature—because they want to— rather than by compulsion and external discipline.
Such people throughout history have experienced tribulation, for the wicked ones seek to kill them or destroy their reputation. The Lord certainly puts His people into their hands for a season, as we see in the examples of Joseph, David, Jesus, and many others to this day. But God will not leave them in their hands, but will raise them up—if not in their life time, then certainly in the first resurrection. They will inherit the earth as joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17), for they were willing to participate in Christ's sufferings, that they might also know His resurrection (Rom. 6:5).
The only way that anyone can truly understand the suffering of Christ and His Body is to know and believe that good will come out of this evil. This is not a message for the world, which cannot be expected to believe such things. It is for the Body of Christ. And when all God's enemies have been reconciled to Him, then God will be all in all.
Psalm 38 is the 37th psalm. Thirty-seven is the number of inheritance.
Psalm 38 is entitled, “A Psalm of David to bring to remembrance.” It was used on the Day of Atonement each year. This day was also the beginning of the Year of Jubilee once every 49 years, when every man was to return to his inheritance (Lev. 25:13).
When Israel came out of Egypt 2448 years from Adam (See Secrets of Time), they went to Sinai, where they spent a little over a year. Then Israel journeyed to Kadesh-barnea, where they sent the 12 spies into Canaan. They returned and gave their report, at the time of the first ripe grapes (Num. 13:20). It was September, the beginning of the Hebrew new year 2450 years from Adam.
This was the 50h Jubilee from Adam, for 49 x 50 = 2450. In other words, God was instructing Israel to return to their inheritance on the great Jubilee of Jubilees. However, ten of the twelve spies gave an evil report based upon fear (Num. 13:32), and the people believed them instead of Caleb and Joshua, who gave a good report (Num. 14:6-10).
Because the people refused, however, the day of rejoicing (jubilation) was turned into a Day of Atonement, a day of mourning and fasting and repentance for refusing to enter the Kingdom. And so, of the Day of Atonement, we read in Lev. 23:27-29,
27 On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord. 28 Neither shall you do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God. 29 If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off [karath] from among his people.
We see, then, that the Day of Atonement called to remembrance Israel 's lack of faith in believing the evil report. For this reason, the 37th psalm (i.e., Psalm 38) is entitled, “A Psalm of David to bring to remembrance” and was used on the Day of Atonement in conjunction with the time of fasting and repentance.
The implication is that by means of repentance, people can still receive their divine inheritance, even if it comes to them at a later time. In Israel 's case, the inheritance came 38 ½ years later when Joshua led them into Canaan. But anyone who does not repent and humble himself was to be “cut off” (karath) from among his people. This is the same Hebrew word used in Gen. 15:18, where it is said that God “made” (lit. “cut”) a covenant with Abram by having him take seven animals and cut them in half (except for the birds). It is by divine covenant that we receive our inheritance. But if we refuse to repent, we ourselves are “cut off.”
The idea behind a blood covenant, dividing animals in this way, was to signify: May God do the same to me if I do not fulfill the terms of this covenant. It was, indeed, a solemn blood covenant.
Psalm 38 is a solemn prayer of repentance, acknowledge sin and iniquity. Verse 18 is the key verse:
18 For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin.
While sin or transgression is an act of injustice against another, iniquity is the hidden motive of human nature from which sin springs. For this reason, in Isaiah 53, that great chapter picturing Christ as the Lamb of God, we read in verse 5,
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.
A wound is visible, while a bruise is internal. Thus, on the cross, Christ was wounded for our external acts of sin and transgressions, but He was also bruised for our iniquities—those inner heart motives that are unseen. David confesses both sin and iniquity in Psalm 38:18.
Throughout the rest of the psalm his iniquity is pictured as a disease and as wounds. Verse 4 says, “My wounds grow foul and fester.” Verse 7 says, “My loins are filled with burning; and there is no soundness in my flesh.” Verse 11 says, “My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague.” Sin is treated biblically as a disease. Compare Isaiah 53:4 with Matt. 8:17,
(Isaiah 53:4) “Surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows.”
(Matt. 8:17) “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.”
And certainly, our iniquity is a disease rooted in death (mortality), which we received from Adam. This is what the Day of Atonement requires us to recognize and to renounce. Without repentance, we too will be “cut off from among our people.”
When we apply Psalm 38 to the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis, we see that Joseph's brothers repented, led by Judah. And so in Genesis 49 they each were given a spiritual inheritance and would later receive a land inheritance in Canaan. Yet keep in mind that they did not receive the Birthright, for that was given to Joseph, as we read in 1 Chron. 5:1, 2,
1 Now the sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel (for he was the first-born, but because he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel; so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright. 2 Though Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came the leader, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph.)
Judah received the scepter (Gen. 49:10), and so from him would come the kings of Israel and ultimately the Messiah-King. But the birthright belonged to Joseph, making it necessary for Christ to come a second time—this time through Joseph—in order for Him to receive the inheritance (i.e., the Birthright). This is why in His second coming it is said that “He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood” (Rev. 19:13). This is the description of Joseph, the only person in the Bible whose robe was dipped in blood (Gen. 37:31).
There are, then, two primary kinds of inheritance which are distinguished from each other in Scripture. There is the Judah company and the Joseph company. Those of the Judah company are those who, like Judah, repent and accept Jesus as the Christ. There are others who go beyond justification. These are the Joseph company of overcomers, who become the manifested Sons of God, for “ Joseph is a fruitful son ” [Heb. ben].
These two levels of inheritance are associated with the two ways in which to keep the tenth day of the seventh month. The Day of Atonement is associated with the Church in the wilderness that did not have the faith necessary to enter the Kingdom. The Jubilee is associated with the overcomers (like Caleb and Joshua) who DID have the faith, but were prevented from entering on their own. They had to wait for the rest of the body.
Psalm 38 also looks ahead to Christ, for He fulfilled the Day of Atonement when He was baptized on that day in 29 A.D. just before beginning His ministry. He was baptized by John at the Jordan River while the priests were killing the goat in the temple, signifying that He was the fulfillment of that first goat which was “for Yahweh” (Lev. 16:8). As for the second goat, which was “for Azazel” (the goat-god, or satyr, a devil figure known as Pan by the Greeks) we read in verse 21,
21 Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel, and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness 22... and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.
Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit (the “man who stands in readiness”) into the wilderness “for Azazel,” that is, to be tempted, tried, and tested by the devil (Matt. 4:1). Thus, even Jesus was required to fulfill the law of the Day of Atonement. And we too, the body of Christ, follow His footsteps, for we cannot escape the death of the old man through baptism, nor can we escape the trials of life in “the wilderness.”
These important biblical truths form the backdrop for Psalm 38. The psalm sets before us the path of repentance and atonement through the blood of Christ, by which we receive the inheritance of the Promised Land.
Psalm 39 is the 38th psalm. Thirty-eight is the number of work.
Psalm 39 is entitled, “A Psalm of David.” As David grew older, he became more reflective of his life's work and calling. He thought about the limited time that he had upon the earth in which to labor and establish the things of God. And so he prayed to God in verses 4 and 5,
4 Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. 5 Behold, Thou hast made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight. Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.
David died at the age of 70, for he was 30 when he began to reign in Hebron, and he reigned 40 years (2 Sam. 5:4, 5). David says also in Psalm 90:10, “ As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years.” It is almost as if he knew he would die at the age of 70. He writes this in the 38th psalm (i.e., Psalm 39), because it has to do with his life's work that is measured in “handbreadths.”
If there is a revelation about “the extent of my days,” as David prayed (above), then it is peculiar that he would say also, “Thou hast made my days as handbreadths.”
A handbreadth is a linear measurement being applied here to Time. In biblical prophecy, a handbreadth is equal to one month. Revelation 11:1-3 speaks of measuring the Temple using a reed. Ezekiel 41:8 says that a reed is six great cubits—that is, six sacred cubits. Each sacred cubit was 7 handbreadths in length, one longer than a regular cubit (Ez. 40:5).
Thus, a reed was 42 handbreadths in length and could be divided into either 6 Sacred Cubits or 7 Regular Cubits.
In Rev. 11:3 we find that the reed (42 handbreadths) correlates with the 42 months of time. Therefore, a handbreadth is equal to one month (or 30 days) of prophetic time.
So when David tells us that God measured his days in terms of handbreadths, we must ask how many handbreadths (months) are there in 70 years? Well 70 x 12 = 840 handbreadths, or months. Anyone living precisely to the age of 70 will live 840 months, which is expressed in a linear way in the Bible as 840 handbreadths.
A Sacred Cubit is 7 handbreadths, so 840 handbreadths equals 120 Sacred Cubits. In this way, a Cubit of linear measurement can be expressed by time measurement, and we see that a Sacred Cubit is equal to a Jubilee. Thus, David's 70 years is 120 Cubits, or Jubilees, and this brings us to the year 1986, the great 120th Jubilee from Adam.
But 840 handbreadths are also 140 Regular Cubits, representing 140 Jubilees of history. Because Regular Cubits are shorter than Sacred Cubits, more are required to measure 840 handbreadths. The extra 20 Jubilees (from 120 to 140) are 980 years, essentially expressing the Millennium to come. The final 20 years are perhaps the short time in which Satan is said to be loosed at the end of that age (Rev. 20:7), prior to the Great White Throne Judgment.
Psalm 39 also looks back to Jacob in Genesis 49, where Jacob-Israel prophesied of the diverse callings of his twelve sons. This blessing on the twelve sons appears to have been the final work of Jacob's life before he died. This is implied in Gen. 49:33, after Jacob had finished prophesying over each of his sons:
33 When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.
In the New Testament, Jesus gave a new calling to his twelve disciples, and the apostle Paul talks about our various callings, gifts, and ministries in Romans 12 and again in 1 Corinthians 12. And so it is possible for us today to identify with certain callings and blessings upon one or more of the twelve sons of Jacob.
Psalm 40 is the 39th psalm. Thirty-nine is the number of infirmity.
Psalm 40 is entitled, “A Psalm of David.” It expresses David's patience in waiting for the Lord during his time of trials, saying in verses 1-3,
1 I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay; and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. 3 And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear, and will trust in the Lord.
David's figurative language was more literally fulfilled in Joseph, who had been cast into a pit by his brothers (Gen. 37:24) before selling him as a slave into Egypt. The pit represents death, of course, which is the ultimate “infirmity” of mortal flesh. Yet in all of this we find hope, praise, and a new song in our mouths, for these biblical examples teach us that even in the face of trouble and death, we ought to trust in the Lord. He has the power to deliver us from death, whether in our earthly experience or by the power of His resurrection in the end.
Psalm 40 also contains one of the great teachings of Scripture in regard to the mind of God.
6 Sacrifice and meal offering Thou hast not desired; my ears Thou hast opened; burnt offering and sin offering Thou hast not required. 7 Then I said, “Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me; 8 I delight to do Thy will, O my God; Thy law is within my heart.”
In the Old Testament, many of the people thought that sacrifices and offerings were their duty and that this is what delighted God. David, however, who was a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4), understood that the sacrifices that were required of the Levites were a temporary feature of religion and were not truly what God wanted at all. He was more interested in opening our ears so that we might hear His voice. It is relationship, not sacrifice, which is God's delight.
Opening the ears was prophesied in the law itself, for we read in Exodus 21:5, 6,
5 But if the slave plainly says, “I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,” 6 then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear [lobe] with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.
This law had to do with bondservants, or slaves, who were sentenced to serve their masters for six years and to be released in the seventh year. At the end of their time of service, they were to be set free with liberal provisions. But if the bondservant had come to love his master, he had the choice of returning freely in order to remain with his master. In effect, he would give up his own inheritance, desiring to inherit with his master.
Applying this law to us today, we as believers are Christ's bondservants, even as Paul confessed of himself (Rom. 1:1). Yet He has also set us free from the bondage of sin and death. If we love Him, however, we will not want to leave Him, but freely return to remain as His permanent bondservants. Those who do this are those whose spiritual ears are opened. They have heard His voice. In following His voice and in learning obedience, they have come into agreement with Him.
These are the overcomers who have come to love Him and desire to give up their own earthly inheritance in order to be joint heirs with Christ. These are the ones who can say, “Thy law is within my heart.” In other words, the law is not a burdensome thing that is imposed upon them from the outside. They do not chafe at His commandments, because they are in agreement with them. In fact, they do not need to be told to follow His commandments and laws, because they do so by nature, rather than by compulsion.
These are the ones who “delight to do Thy will, O my God.” These are overcomers.
Jacob is the classic overcomer in Scripture. By his life we learn how a man goes from being a deceiver and supplanter (“Jacob”) to one who places himself under the authority and rule of God (“ Israel ”) voluntarily in love. Israel means “God rules.”
Thus, in this 39th psalm, we see a portrait of both David and Jacob, who were tried and tested in their life time, and by the time of their deaths, they could testify of the love they had for God, agreeing with Him in all His ways. They could face death, that ultimate infirmity of the flesh, with full confidence and trust that this was not their final end. Psalm 40:11 and 16 says,
11 Thou, O Lord, wilt not withhold Thy compassion from me; Thy loving kindness and Thy truth will continually preserve me... 16 Let all who seek Thee rejoice and be glad in Thee; let those who love Thy salvation say continually, ‘The Lord be magnified!”
Psalm 40 also looks forward to Jesus Christ, even as David and Joseph are types of Christ, for verses 6-8 are quoted and applied to Christ in Hebrews 10:5-7. We are then told of the temporary nature of the animal sacrifices, and the author concludes in verse 9, “ He takes away the first in order to establish the second.” That is, He takes away the animal sacrifices, which He never truly delighted in, in order to establish the second, which is “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10).
This brings us to the final application of this principle as it applies to the body of Christ itself. God does not delight in giving our bodies to be burned; He desires Love (1 Cor. 13:3). Though many martyrs in the body of Christ has given their bodies as sacrifices, this is not what delights God. He does all to establish and enhance relationship.
Finally, let us also say that God does not intend to re-instate animal sacrifices in the age to come, as some today are teaching. Though some prophetic passages in Ezekiel 44 speak of the future in Old Testament terms, there is no reason that we must take such passages so literally. Even as all the animal sacrifices prophesied of Jesus and His death on the cross for sin, so must we interpret Ezekiel's writings about the millennial priests offering up sacrifices, blood, and fat upon the altars. These priests of “the sons of Zadok” prophesy of the Melchizedek Order—not of another family of Levites, who might offer up animal sacrifices in a rebuilt temple in old Jerusalem.
These Old Testament prophecies ought not to be interpreted in a way that despises the “better” Sacrifice of Christ, which He has established through the New Covenant. This better sacrifice of the New Covenant reflects the true mind of God from the beginning, as Psalm 40:6 tells us.
Psalm 41 is the 40th psalm. Forty is the number of trial or probation.
Psalm 41 is entitled, “A Psalm of David.” It is the final psalm of the Genesis Book of Psalms and thus ends with a doxology. It is as if David were giving an overview of his life wherein he was tested and tried many times. He speaks of death and the hope of resurrection, saying in verses 5-10,
5 My enemies speak evil against me, “When will he die, and his name perish?”... 7 All who hate me whisper together against me; against me they devise my hurt, saying, 8 “A wicked thing is poured out upon him, that when he lies down, he will not rise up again. 9 Even my close friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. 10 But Thou, O Lord, be gracious to me, and raise me up, that I may repay him.
David's enemies wished him dead, and even David's “close friend” (Ahithophel, his grandfather-in-law) helped his enemies, but God's grace will raise him up. Of course, this is obviously prophetic of Jesus Christ Himself, who was betrayed by Judas, His “close friend,” and killed by His enemies. Verse 9 is quoted in John 13:18 as prophetic of Judas.
On the surface, the “enemies” are first the followers of Absalom, who overthrew David with the help of Ahithophel. Secondarily, they are the enemies of Christ in the New Testament story. But finally, these enemies are metaphors for death itself, which is “the last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:25, 26). And so Psalm 41:11 says,
11 By this I know that Thou art pleased with me, because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me.
Resurrection from the dead fulfills this word in the fullest sense. And so, we can exult with Paul in 1 Cor. 15:54, 55,
54... Then will come about the saying that is written [in Hosea 13:14], “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O Death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
This message is also inherent in the last verses of Genesis, where Joseph gives instructions before he dies in Gen. 50:24-26,
24 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you, and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here. 26 So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Though Genesis ends with Joseph in a coffin in Egypt, it does not end without hope. Joseph fully expected God to fulfill His oath to Israel and to bring them out of Egypt. So also in the same manner, Paul had hope of the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15:12-20), knowing that God would not leave the believers in a coffin. The number forty is not only applicable to a literal time period of forty days or forty years, but is also a metaphor for life itself. Regardless of how long our life may be here on earth, it is a time of trial and testing, ending in death; but it is not death without hope, for there is a resurrection of the dead. Without that great hope, Paul asserts, “we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19).
This is also the underlying message of Israel 's testing in the wilderness, for it too ends with the Jordan River, which prophesies of both death and resurrection at the end of a forty-year time of trial and testing. The hope of resurrection itself is broken down into two resurrections portrayed in Revelation 20, at the beginning and at the end of the thousand-year Age of Tabernacles. Then comes the Great White Throne judgment, in which the second death is imposed upon those who did not believe in Christ during their former life on earth. This final “enemy” (death) will at last be abolished in the great Creation Jubilee, perhaps after 49,000 years of man's history, where all debt to sin is cancelled solely on the grounds of divine grace. That day is portrayed in 1 Cor. 15:26-28,
26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet [Psalm 8:6]. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.
Paul uses the Greek term ta panta, “all things,” (literally, “the all”) much like David defined it in Psalm 8:6, in terms of all that God had given Adam to rule. In Col. 1:16 Paul uses the term to describe all that was created, adding in verse 20 that this same “all” has been reconciled by “the blood of His cross,” whether they are in heaven or in earth.
Likewise, John foresaw that great day in Rev. 5:13, 14,
13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
The four beasts represent the four divisions of creation found first in Genesis 9, when God made the first covenant with Noah (man), the birds (eagle), the cattle (ox), and every beast of the earth (lion). These are four standards of the leading tribes of Israel in the wilderness, the four faces of Ezekiel's vision of the throne of God (Ezekiel 1:10), and the four living creatures around the throne that John saw in Rev. 4:7. They depict all of God's creation in harmony, peace, and reconciliation, saying “Amen” to the divine plan, for all shall come into full agreement with Him by the Creation Jubilee.
When the four beasts say “Amen,” the divine plan for this universe will have been completed. And so closes the 40th psalm:
13 blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting, Amen and Amen.
Psalm 41 ends with the postscript, “To the chief Musician.”