76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus
Sermon 19 - David expresses his concept of God in his psalms.
January 2nd, 1959
Received by Dr Samuels
I am here, Jesus.
The psalms of David, and those written under his inspiration, are songs of many moods - from joy and exultation, to sorrow, penitence and despair. These are songs of praise of God, hope and faith in His Bounty and Mercy, in the soul’s knowledge that only faith in God can give man the inner strength to go on in the face of hostile events and circumstances, and count on ultimate deliverance. They are the knowledge which the soul has that God is man’s rock of salvation, so that obedient to God’s Law to avoid sin, man’s place with God will be secure, and further, that God will deliver man out of the evils of the material world because of such faith. These songs were prayers which the soul addressed to God in great supplication and petition growing out of the soul’s desperate need for help and assurance. They are songs of thanksgiving for God’s Mercy, songs of gratitude and praise, songs of confession of sin and wrongdoing, songs for strength to overcome evil, happiness for Divine companionship, and awareness of renewed strength through God’s answer to prayer. And in addition, there are public or national songs of battle and victory, pleas for the nation’s delivery in stress of war, hymns of hatred and vengeance against the enemy, and, of course, songs pertaining to court life and celebrations. So that the Psalms are a collection of prayers which fit most every feeling, attitude and aspiration of the human soul.
These psalms, then, are a different phase of the subject which I have been discussing, for while I have up to the present been explaining the Old Testament in terms of man’s human love for each other because of his cognizance of God’s Laws through the creation of his human soul, the perusal of the Psalms of David and those who followed his lead now take me to a consideration of man’s love of God and his relationship to God as the highest living creation of the Father in the material surroundings into which he has been placed. And you will see, as I continue with these sermons, that man’s emotional response to God as the living, eternal Creator of the universe, in terms of love, trust and desire to approach closer to God through obedience to the laws of conduct revealed through the Hebrew religious leaders, was a necessary step in the advancement of man’s spiritual enlightenment for God to make answer with His Promise of Divine Love as the means of uniting His children with Him in at-onement of soul.
Now David’s concept of God was expressed in many ways. He depicted Him, in Psalm 18, for example, as a kind of god of war, or thunder god, who, according to the beliefs of the Semitic tribes, took an active interest in His people or those whom He favored, and delivered them from death in battle or against enemies. And so, in Psalm 18, David wrote that in the danger and uncertainties of battle, his only recourse was to turn to God, in whom he placed all his trust and whom he loved:
I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. (Psalms 18: 1 - 2)
But, of course, the difference between an ancient Fertile Crescent war god and David’s God was simply that the latter was a God of righteousness who shows mercy to those who obey His Statutes of ethical conduct:
According to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.
For I have kept the ways of the Lord, And have not wickedly departed from my God. For all His judgments were before me, And I did not put away His Statutes from me. I was also upright before Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity. (Psalms 18: 20 - 23)
And in his great conviction, David repeats:
Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to the cleanness of my hands in His Eyesight. With the merciful Thou wilt show Thyself merciful; With an upright man Thou wilt show Thyself upright; With the pure Thou wilt show Thyself pure; And with the froward Thou wilt show Thyself froward. (Psalms 18: 24 - 26)
David here meant that adherence to God’s laws of righteousness of conduct will create spiritual conditions favorable to the obedient soul, and that baseness of heart will create conditions of darkness in this and in the next world.
But if the reader is shocked to find David praising God for His so-called giving him the “necks of his enemies,”(Psalms 18: 40) let me remind you that in David’s time, the concept of God did not include mercy for one’s enemies, who were to be destroyed as the enemies of God.
And if in time of war and trouble David saw God as coming in thunderclouds and bolts of lightning, in times of peace and meditation he could turn to God as manifested in the grandeur of the heavens, and he could see Him as the Creator of the Universe - the universal God of all natural phenomena:
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth His Handywork. Day after day through eternity is this speech of glory declared, And night after night, at the sight of the moon and the stars in their courses, have we knowledge of His Laws of the heavens.1 (Psalms 19: 1 - 2)
And when David wrote this Psalm, he introduced ideas which show he had some knowledge of Chaldean and other oriental astrology, where he talks of the voices of the heavens, meaning the influences of the planets, with the sun as the ruling body, or as David wrote, the “bridegroom coming out of his chamber and rejoicing as a strong man to run a race.” (Psalms 19: 5) David, of course, meant that the sun could be likened to a bridegroom coming forth at dawn after a night of sleep; the bride was the moon, whose light reflected that of her consort.
These thoughts may be traced back to the ancient worship of the sun, and later you will find in the Scriptures the use of the word “bridegroom” to indicate God, who is married to His spiritual wife, Israel, His Elect, and you are certainly aware that the Christian theologians borrowed this word to make a “bridegroom” out of me and to have me married to my “bride,” the Church. And so David wrote:
There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoicing as a strong man to run a race. (Psalms 19: 3 - 5)
But just as God has created the physical universe, so, says David, has He created the soul, and just as the law of the heavens is perfect, so is God’s Law for the soul, and the statutes for the human being make a perfect soul. Thus for David, the Creator of the Universe is also the Creator of the spiritual life of man, and the God of Justice and Righteousness:
The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The Testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The Statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The Commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The Judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. (Psalms 19: 7 - 9)
Thus David seeks God’s help to keep him from sin:
… cleanse Thou me from secret faults, Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me; then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. (Psalms 19: 12 - 13)
That David’s understanding of his religion was clearly a personal relationship between God and the individual soul, and as such a tremendous influence on the prophets, (especially the writers of the Books of Isaiah and Jeremiah) is very clearly demonstrated in the 32nd Psalm, wherein David sought forgiveness from sin. Suffering in his conscience for evil in deed, David knew of no other way to achieve peace of mind than to come unto the Tabernacle of the Lord, to confess his iniquity and seek His Pardon. A man whose sin is pardoned by God, was, as he thought, blessed. And so he wrote in all earnestness of heart:
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For night and day Thy hand was heavy upon me; my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; And Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. (Psalms 32: 1 - 5)
David thus felt that if he came to the Lord, and sincerely repenting of his evil deed, sought forgiveness, the Father would not withhold His pardon, and the fact is that by thus turning to God humbly and contrite, David was able to obtain peace, a peace obtainable because of a higher level of soul condition made possible through remorse and penitence.
In Psalm 41, David was ill, and he prayed that God would deliver him from his sickness. He was also keenly aware of his spiritual shortcomings, and prayed that God would heal his soul - that is, would cause him to act and think in accordance with the Commandments of God, so that his soul would be free from sin and wrongdoing. He bemoaned the fact that his enemies would be glad if he were to die. Here David had cause to think of those who had betrayed him when he was forced to flee from Jerusalem, at the time his son Absalom rebelled against him; Ahithophel, his counsellor remained behind to welcome Absalom and advise him to attack David at once - advice which, if taken, would have unquestionably resulted in victory for the son and disaster for David. He also thought of Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, whom David kept at his table and loaded with kindness, for he too remained behind to welcome Absalom In the hope of obtaining lands and privileges as grandson of King Saul. Hence David lamented in Psalm 41:
Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted; Which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. (Psalms 41: 9)
Again in Psalm 55, David also complained about the falsity of those who had been in his company, but David always came back to his theme of trust in the Father, to whom he turned in times of stress, and he cried:
And as for me, Thou upholdest me in my integrity, And settest me before Thy face forever. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting unto everlasting. (Psalms 41: 12 - 13)
At this point I wish to make mention of the use which some churchmen have made of these events in the life of David as reflected in the Psalms which he wrote, for they have been interpreted to mean that David prophesied Judas’ betrayal of the Christ about one thousand years later, and this is not true, for, while David had a spiritual understanding of religion beyond his age, he was not able to predict events so far ahead in the future, and indeed, even we spirits of the Celestial Heavens cannot see a century in advance with such detailed accuracy, much less a millenium, but the fact is that human behavior can be predicted on the basis of knowledge of a person’s heart, and acts of ingratitude are being constantly recorded as a result of deplorable soul conditions. As for the analogies when made between Ahithophel, Mephibosheth and Judas, let me state here that they are untenable, for Ahithophel was unsuccessful, his advice being rejected in favor of Hushai’s counsel, totally different from the consequences of Judas’ action, even though both took their own lives. The case of Mephibosheth was, of course one of ingratitude without further ado. To believe the notion that David foresaw the events which took place during my ministry on the basis of his own experiences is to create the reefs before which many rational men pause on reading the New Testament account of my life and mission.
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens
1 This verse Psalms 19:2 is similar, but by no means identical to the K.J.V. Without access to the original message, one cannot be certain whether Jesus is quoting a different Bible, or whether an annotation has been made to explain the verse.