Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Have Found a Friend in Jesus

In our series of the Psalms of Ascents, we come to psalm 125. to recap briefly, the psalmist travels to Jerusalem (120-122). He begins his worship by asking God for mercy (123) and then recounting how God has been the source of their help in the past (124). In this psalm (125), he sings about the current relationship he has with the Lord.

Read Psalm 125 (NASB, NIV, KJV)

Here is the tentative outline I developed for this psalm. As always, please send feedback. I think they always can be improved. I would like the flow of thought to be better than this. This is just the initial thoughts.

Our Relationship with God

I. A relationship with God provides...(1-2)
          A. Stability (1)
          B. Protection (2)

II. Warning to those who have a relationship with God. (3)
          A. God's people do not have control over this land (3a).
          B. God's people should not be tempted to do evil (3b).

III. Holiness is expected of those who have a relationship with God. (4-5)
          A. Prayer for the good
          B. Warning for the bad

I want to give some of the thought process of my outline briefly. In verses 1-2, the psalmist uses geographical analogies to communicate a truth about the people of God. First, he mentions Mount Zion. This is by no means the highest "mountain" in Jerusalem and is in fact more a hill (I live in Colorado so I may be biased). The point of using Mount Zion is it permanency. Mount Zion was the temple mount and was the center of the Jewish religious system and the center of religious activity in the future (Rev. 14:1, for example). The use of this imagery is to show how God's people are stable in Him. He makes them like Mount Zion: permanent, stable.

The next geographical analogy used is the mountains which surround Jerusalem (although probably still hills by Colorado standards). Here, instead of the analogy being used to describe His people, the picture is used to describe God. His people are like little Mount Zion but God is like those big mountains which surround Jerusalem and protect it from attack. The Lord gives His people protection.

In the next point, point II, there are two warnings given in this psalm. The first half of verse 3 indicates that those that do not trust in God (the wicked) are in control of lands around Jerusalem (septer) but will not rest on the land of God's people. The point here is that in this world, there are evil people who are leaders around the world (most call them politicians) :-) God's people are not in control of this world. While God is ultimately in control of all things, He has temporarily given authority of this world over to Satan. This is a warning to God's people. This world is not home.

The second warning comes in the last half of verse 3: the reason the wicked's septer will not reach the land of God's people is so they will not be tempted to do wrong things. The warning is that God's people should not be tempted to do evil in this world. If the wicked are in charge, they may tempt God's people to engage in behavior and activities which would defile them. Becare, the psalmist says, to not let this happen.

The last two verses, making up point III, are pretty self-explanatory: the psalmist is praying that God will do good to those who are faithful to Him (those who do good) and he is warning those who live as they want (who turn aside to their crooked ways) that God will punish them. In short, the Lord expects holiness (upright in their hearts) from those who are to be in relationship with him.

I think this message is would be a great message for new believers and matures believers, alike. A relationship with God through Christ will bring us stability and protection. However, that does not mean that this life will be easy. Those who are lost are in control for now but we must not be tempted to live like them. Instead, God expects holiness from us. Any Christian could benefit from a reminder like this.

As I was thinking about a song from today which captures the essence of this psalm, my mind when to "The Lily of the Valley" (click to listen) because it tells how we are in relationship with God through Christ and that in temptation he helps us stay pure.
I have found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay;
He tells me every care on Him to roll.

He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

He all my grief has taken, and all my sorrows borne;
In temptation He’s my strong and mighty tower;
I have all for Him forsaken, and all my idols torn
From my heart and now He keeps me by His power.
Though all the world forsake me, and Satan tempt me sore,
Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal.

He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

He will never, never leave me, nor yet forsake me here,
While I live by faith and do His blessèd will;
A wall of fire about me, I’ve nothing now to fear,
From His manna He my hungry soul shall fill.
Then sweeping up to glory to see His blessèd face,
Where the rivers of delight shall ever roll.

He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.