Tag Archives: Devotional

Anthems to Glory

Raise a song, strike the timbrel, The sweet sounding lyre with the harp. NAS
Psalms 81:2
Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery. KJV
Ps 81:2

After years of slavery in Egypt would you not be happy on the day of your release and the day after seeing many signs and wonders leading to that freedom? The cause of all this good stuff? The One who created everything. That same Everliving God sets captives free every day. One day He stooped down and set me free and I broke out in praise.

This verse encourages a certain pleasantness and sweetness to be added to that song. God made the ear. He knows how to tickle it.

As a young kid of 15, I was developing my musical tastes. I was not a Christian and liked rock n roll. I had a friend in the Bowling Green Symphony Orchestra. Blake played the oboe. He invited me to come and I came and I listened. It was an enjoyable experience. Then, one day I remember him playing a new album by Dan Fogelberg called Nether Lands. This was soft rock but the first song on that album employed a full orchestra. So many instruments and so many sounds coming together perfectly to make a single statement. The music was majestic and the lyrics uplifting. Music with word amplified.

Off in the nether lands
I heard a sound
Like the beating of heavenly wings
And deep in my brain
I can hear a refrain
Of my soul as she rises and sings
Anthems to glory and
Anthems to love and
Hymns filled with early delight
Like the songs that the darkness
Composes to worship the light.

The darkness knows how to compose music to worship the Light.  How much more should this be true of those who are called light.

The following is taken directly from The Treasury of David by Spurgeon.

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EXPOSITION

Take a psalm.

Select a sacred song, and then raise it with your hearty voices.

And bring hither the timbrel.

Beat on your tambourines, ye damsels, let the sound be loud and inspiriting. “Sound the trumpets, beat the drums.” God is not to be served with misery but with mirthful music, sound ye then the loud timbrel, as of old ye smote it by “Egypt’s dark sea.”

The pleasant harp with the psaltery.

The timbrel for sound, must be joined by the harp for sweetness, and this by other stringed instruments for variety. Let the full compass of music be holiness unto the Lord.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Ver. 2. Timbrel. The toph, English version tabret, timbrel, LXX., ‎tumpanon‎, once ‎qalthrion‎. It was what would now be called a tambourine, being played by the hand; and was specially used by women. It is thrice mentioned in the Ps 81:2 Ps 149:3; 150:4. — Joseph Francis Thrupp.

Ver. 2. The Psaltery. It is probably impossible to be sure as to what is intended by a psaltery. The Genevan version translates it viol, and the ancient viol was a six stringed guitar. In the Prayer book version, the Hebrew word is rendered lute, which instrument resembled the guitar, but was superior in tone. The Greek word “psalterion” denotes a stringed instrument played with the fingers. Cassidorus says that the psaltery was triangular in shape, and that it was played with a bow. Aben Ezra evidently considered it to be a kind of pipe, but the mass of authorities make it a stringed instrument. It was long in use, for we read of it in David’s time as made of fir wood (2 Sam 6:55), and in Solomon’s reign, of algum trees (2 Chron 9:11), and it was still in use in the days of Nebuchadnezzar.

Sing and Shout

Sing for joy to God our strength;
Shout joyfully to the God of Jacob.
Psalms 81:1

I thank God for song writers and poets that capture and rephrase the acts of love that God bestows upon us. My heart would burst if not for the tunes and magical lyrics of others; they act like relief valves to a heart filled with joy.

“Sing. Shout”, thus saith the Lord.

The following is taken directly from The Treasury of David by Spurgeon.

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EXPOSITION

Ver. 1. Sing, in tune and measure, so that the public praise may be in harmony; sing with joyful notes, and sounds melodious.

Aloud.


For the heartiest praise is due to our good Lord. His acts of love to us speak more loudly than any of our words of gratitude can do. No dulness should ever stupefy our psalmody, or half heartedness cause us to limp along. Sing aloud, ye debtors to sovereign grace, your hearts are profoundly grateful: let your voices express your thankfulness.

Unto God our strength.

The Lord was the strength of his people in delivering them out of Egypt with a high hand, and also in sustaining them in the wilderness, placing them in Canaan, preserving them from their foes, and giving them victory. To whom do men give honour but to those upon whom they rely, therefore let us sing aloud unto our God, who is our strength and our song.

Make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.

The God of the nation, the God of their father Jacob, was extolled in happy music by the Israelitish people; let no Christian be silent, or slack in praise, for this God is our God. It is to be regretted that the niceties of modern singing frighten our congregations from joining lustily in the hymns. For our part we delight in full bursts of praise, and had rather discover the ruggedness of a want of musical training than miss the heartiness of universal congregational song. The gentility which lisps the tune in well bred whispers, or leaves the singing altogether to the choir, is very like a mockery of worship. The gods of Greece and Rome may be worshipped well enough with classical music, but Jehovah can only be adored with the heart, and that music is the best for his service which gives the heart most play.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Title. It is remarkable that as Ps 80 treats of the church of God under the figure of a vine, so the present is entitled, “upon Gittith,” literally upon the winepress. Whether the expression was meant to refer to a musical instrument, or to some direction as to the tune, is uncertain. In our Saviour’s adoption of the figure of a vineyard to represent his church, he speaks of a winepress dug in it, Matt 21:33. The idea refers itself to the final result in some sense, in a way of salvation of souls, as the same figure of a winepress is used in Rev 16 of the final destruction of the ungodly. — W. Wilson.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER

Ver. 1. Congregational singing should be general, hearty, joyful. The reasons for this, and the benefits of it.

Ver. 1-3.

1.    Praise should be sincere. It can come from the people of God only.

2.    It should be constant: they should praise God at all times.

God’s Goodness and Israel’s Waywardness

Psalms 81:1-16

History. Memory. Patriotism. Politics. All of these are given to us by God; they lodge in the mind and our heart and make up the very fiber of our nation. To alter or forget the past is to dissolve the ties that hold us together; it destroy the greater body we call nation that encloses us to protect us from evil.

What do you remember that encourages you today?

This Psalm exposes the goodness of God and waywardness of His people.  It begins by looking back at one most significant event in the past to be remembered and celebrated.

The following is taken directly from The Treasury of David by Spurgeon.

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PSALM 81

Title.

To the Chief Musician upon Gittith. Very little is known of the meaning of this title. We have given the best explanation known to us in connection with Ps 8 in Vol. 1 of this work. If it be intended to indicate a vintage song, it speaks well for the piety of the people for whom it was written; it is to be feared that in few places even in Christian countries would holy hymns be thought suitable to be sung in connection with the winepress. When the bells upon the horses shall be holiness unto the Lord, then shall the juice of the grape gush forth to the accompaniment of sacred song.

A Psalm of Asaph.

This poet here again dwells upon the history of his country; his great forte seems to be rehearsing the past in admonitory psalmody. He is the poet of the history and politics of Israel. A truly national songster, at once pious and patriotic.

Divisions.

Praise is called for to celebrate some memorable day, perhaps the passover; whereupon the deliverance out of Egypt is described, Ps 81:1-7. Then the Lord gently chides his people for their ingratitude, and pictures their happy estate had they but been obedient to his commands.

Psalms 81

God’s Goodness and Israel’s Waywardness.

For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of Asaph.

1 Sing for joy to God our strength;

Shout joyfully to the God of Jacob.

2 Raise a song, strike the timbrel,

The sweet sounding lyre with the harp.

3 Blow the trumpet at the new moon,

At the full moon, on our feast day.

4 For it is a statute for Israel,

An ordinance of the God of Jacob.

5 He established it for a testimony in Joseph

When he went throughout the land of Egypt.

I heard a language that I did not know:

6 “I relieved his shoulder of the burden,

His hands were freed from the basket.

7 “You called in trouble and I rescued you;

I answered you in the hiding place of thunder;

I proved you at the waters of Meribah. Selah.

8 “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you;

O Israel, if you would listen to Me!

9 “Let there be no strange god among you;

Nor shall you worship any foreign god.

10 “I, the Lord, am your God,

Who brought you up from the land of Egypt;

Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

11 “But My people did not listen to My voice,

And Israel did not obey Me.

12 “So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart,

To walk in their own devices.

13 “Oh that My people would listen to Me,

That Israel would walk in My ways!

14 “I would quickly subdue their enemies

And turn My hand against their adversaries.

15 “Those who hate the Lord would pretend obedience to Him,

And their time of punishment would be forever.

16 “But I would feed you with the finest of the wheat,

And with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

We Will Be Saved

O Lord God of hosts, restore us;
Cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.
Psalms 80:19

Hope. Pray. Wait. “We will be saved.”

I just finished grading a lesson from an inmate in the Sierra Conservation Center in Jamestown California. His answer to question 9 caught my attention.

Sometimes it is hard to tell if our turning to God makes any difference.

I responded with:

When God sets us free (John 8:34-36) something happened, something is happening, and something will happen. That single act has an immediate effect, an ongoing effect, and a future effect. When we first commit to following Christ, He frees us from the penalty of sin. At the same time He also transforms our heart and moves inside to break the bondage to sin that resides in our flesh. (Romans 7:23-24) Our success in defeating sin improves as we grow in Christ by feeding on God’s Word and by spending time with Him in prayer. Finally, we will be delivered from this struggle when we die or are raptured. We will leave behind this old body and take on one imperishable and glorious.

The following is taken directly from The Treasury of David by Spurgeon.

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EXPOSITION

Turn us again, O Lord God of Hosts.

Here we have another advance in the title and the incommunicable name of Jehovah, the I AM is introduced. Faith’s day grows brighter as the hours roll on; and her prayers grow more full and mighty.

Cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

Even we who were so destroyed. No extremity is too great for the power of God. He is able to save at the last point, and that too by simply turning his smiling face upon his afflicted. Men can do little with their arm, but God can do all things with a glance. Oh, to live forever in the light of Jehovah’s countenance.

Turn us again.

How well that we can look to God when our face is set wrong, that he may turn us, and so his face shine on us, as to bring blessing and present deliverance to his people. — J.N. Darby.

During distress God comes; and when he comes it is no more distress. — Gaelic Proverb.

Saving Christ

Then we shall not turn back from You;
Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
Psalms 80:18

The saving of Christ is our salvation. Pinned to the cross with torturous nails He was cut.  He burned as He cried out “my God, my God, why hast though forsaken me.” The rescue came, but it came late. It came late, but it came great! That abandoned Shoot was one day noticed, revived, and raised to a position higher than the angels.  And in His resurrection we are lifted high, even to newness of life in Him forevermore. Romans 6:4

EXPOSITION

So will not we go back from thee.

Under the leadership of one whom God had chosen the nation would be kept faithful, grace would work gratitude, and so cement them to their allegiance. It is in Christ that we abide faithful; because he lives we live also. There is no hope of our perseverance apart from him.

Quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.

If the Lord gives life out of death, his praise is sure to follow. The Lord Jesus is such a leader, that in him is life, and the life is the light of men. He is our life. When he visits our souls anew we shall be revived, and our praise shall ascend unto the name of the Triune God.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

So will not we, etc. [Then we shall not turn back from You] How are we to understand the connection between this and the preceding words? It may be understood two ways.

1.    As it would oblige them to the yielding of steadfast obedience; it would lay them under a special engagement never to revolt any more, as they had done; if God would grant this request, it would be a most eminent tie and bond upon them to the most constant and faithful service.

2.    As it would enable them to yield such obedience. And this I conceive to be chiefly aimed at; if God would lay such help upon Christ for them, they should receive power by that means to discharge their duty to him better than ever heretofore; though they were very feeble and wavering, false and treacherous of themselves, yet here would be a successful remedy. — Timothy Cruso.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER

Ver. 17-18. The power of God seen in Jesus, the cause of the perseverance of the saints.

Ver. 18 (last clause). The need of quickening in order to acceptable worship.

Perfect Prayer

Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand,
Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.
Psalms 80:17

Perspective

The man that God made strong
to stand high above men
is the same man that God stoops down to become.

What we esteem or hold high as the best of men, God must step down to conform to.

Perfect Prayer

The Psalmist has given up hope on this people saving themselves. He turns to God now with his final plea. He will never know in his lifetime (apart from the eye of faith) that God will one day answer his prayer. But He will; four accounts of this man’s life will be preserved forever to testify to this (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).

This Psalm started with “Oh give ear” and God said, “I will give ear and grant this most perfect request.” May our prayers be so powerful and in tune with the will and the way of God!

The following is taken directly from The Treasury of David by Spurgeon.

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EXPOSITION

Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand.

Let thy power rest on thy true Benjamin, son of thy right hand; give a commission to some chosen man by whom thou wilt deliver. Honour him, save us, and glorify thyself. There is no doubt here an outlook to the Messiah, for whom believing Jews had learned to look as the Saviour in time of trouble.

Upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.

Send forth thy power with him whom thou shalt strengthen to accomplish thy purposes of grace. It pleases God to work for the sons of men by sons of men.

“By man came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead.”

Nations rise or fall largely through the instrumentality of individuals: by a Napoleon the kingdoms are scourged, and by a Wellington nations are saved from the tyrant. It is by the man Christ Jesus that fallen Israel is yet to rise, and indeed through him, who deigns to call himself the Son of Man, the world is to be delivered from the dominion of Satan and the curse of sin. O Lord, fulfil thy promise to the man of thy right hand, who participates in thy glory, and give him to see the pleasure of the Lord prospering in his hand.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Ver. 17. Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, etc. Neither the church, nor any member thereof needeth any more security for their stability and perpetuation, but Christ; for now when the vineyard is burnt, and the visible church defaced, the remnant are content to rest satisfied with this, which also they take for granted, and do subscribe unto it:

Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. The consanguinity of Christ with the believer, and his humiliation in his human nature, are strong supporters of the faith and comfort of his people that do seek salvation through him; therefore do the faithful here fix themselves on this, that as he is God’s Son, so he is a branch of their vineyard also; that as he is at the right hand of the Father as God, so he is the man of his right hand also; the Son of Man, or of Adam, partaker of flesh and blood with us, of the same stock that we are of, in all things like to us, except sin; for the Son of Man is the style whereby Christ styled himself in his humiliation. The perpetuity of the church, and the perseverance of the saints, is founded upon the sufficiency of Christ; and the unfeigned believer may assure himself, as of the continuance of the church, so of his own perseverance and constant communion with God through him. Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, etc.; [v18] so will not we go back from thee. — David Dickson.

Ver. 17. The man of thy right hand… The Son of Man. These striking expressions apply in the fullest and most perfect sense to Christ. If the Man of God’s right hand be the man placed there, to whom can the title apply but to him? for, to which of the angels said God at any time, Sit thou on my right hand? Heb 1:5; and much less has he said this of any Jewish king. As to the other appellation,

The Son of Man, it is one of Christ’s most definite titles, being given to him in Scripture no less than seventy-one times; in sixty-seven instances by himself; once by Daniel; once by the martyr Stephen; and twice by the Apostle John in the Revelation. He it is, too, whom the Father has made strong for the salvation of his church, and who will yet turn away captivity from the chosen people, and restore them to a place in the church, so that henceforth they will not go back from God. — Editorial Note to Calvin in loc.

Ver. 17, The man of thy right hand. The man of the right hand is,

I. Most dear, whom one holds equally dear with his own right hand, Matt 5:29-30. Jacob called the son of his most beloved wife, Benjamin, the son of his right hand, Gen 35:18, who was so dear to him that his life was bound up in the lad’s life, Gen 44:30.

II. Most honoured; a man upon whom one wishes to confer the highest honour, is placed at the right hand as Solomon placed his mother, 1 Kings 2:19, and the spouse stands at the right hand, Ps 45:10. Sitting down at the right hand is in Scripture a proof of the greatest honour.

III. Allied, because covenants and mutual agreements are ratified by giving the right hand, 2 Kings 10:15. Jehu said to Jehonadab, Is thy heart right? and Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand. The right hand used to be given, as in Gal 2:9. The man of God’s right hand, therefore, is one most dear to God, most honoured and joined with him in covenant. — James Alting. 1618-1679.

Ver. 17. Though the phrase, man of thy right hand, may have an immediate reference to the King who ruled in Judah when this Psalm was penned, it must ultimately and most properly intend Jesus Christ, the great antitype of all the kings of David’s line. The New Testament is the best interpreter of the Old; and it assures us that this highly dignified man is the Son of God. Heb 1:1,3,13. But if we would understand the genuine import of the phrase, we must attend to a custom which obtained in Judea and other eastern countries. At meals, the master of the feast placed the person whom he loved best on his right hand, as a token of love and respect; and as they sat on couches, in the intervals between the dishes, when the master leaned on his left elbow, the man at his right hand, leaning also on his, would naturally repose his head on the master’s bosom, while at the same time the master laid his right hand on the favourite’s shoulder or side, in testimony of his favourable regards. This custom is obviously referred to in John 21:20, where John is called the disciple whom Jesus loved, who also leaned on his breast at supper. Now, since Christ is called the man of God’s right hand, this says that he is the object of his warmest and most honourable regards. In him he is well pleased, and in token of this, he has set him in the most honourable place. He is the Son of Man, whom the Father made to stand strong for himself, i.e., to support the honour and dignity of the divine character amidst a perverse and crooked generation: the consideration of the Father’s right hand being upon him, or of the Father’s satisfaction in him as our Surety, serves to animate and embolden our addresses to his throne, and is the keenest incitement to put in practice that resolution, Henceforth will we not go back from thee. — Alexander Pirie.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER

Ver. 17-18. The power of God seen in Jesus, the cause of the perseverance of the saints.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER

Ver. 8-15. Parallel between the Church and a vine.

Desolation Reign

It is burned with fire, it is cut down;
They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.
Psalms 80:16

More than a winter’s drought has come upon this vine. More than once during Israel’s treacherous history with the Vinedresser, He gave them them over in holy anger and said, “Let desolation reign.”

It is clear that this nation endures the same displeasure. Our cities burn; justice is cut down. God is nowhere to be found. We cry with this Psalmist “O God, restore us.”

The following is taken directly from The Treasury of David by Spurgeon.

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EXPOSITION

It is burned with fire.

In broken utterances the sorrowful singer utters his distress. The vineyard was like a forest which has been set on fire; the choice vines were charred and dead.

It is cut down.

The cruel axe had hacked after its murderous fashion, the branches were lopped, the trunk was wounded, desolation reigned supreme.

They perish at the rebuke of thy countenance.

God’s rebuke was to Israel what fire and axe would be to a vine. His favour is life, and his wrath is as messengers of death. One angry glance from Jehovah’s eye is sufficient to lay all the vineyards of Ephraim desolate. O Lord, look not thus upon our churches. Rebuke us, but not in anger.