Weds 11 January - Psalm 75
(apologies if you were looking for the Psalm last week - Tom)
1 We praise you, God,
we praise you, for your Name is near;
people tell of your wonderful deeds.
2 You say, “I choose the appointed time;
it is I who judge with equity.
3 When the earth and all its people quake,
it is I who hold its pillars firm.b]">[b]
4 To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns.c]">[c]
5 Do not lift your horns against heaven;
do not speak so defiantly.’”
6 No one from the east or the west
or from the desert can exalt themselves.
7 It is God who judges:
He brings one down, he exalts another.
8 In the hand of the Lord is a cup
full of foaming wine mixed with spices;
he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth
drink it down to its very dregs.
9 As for me, I will declare this forever;
I will sing praise to the God of Jacob,
10 who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked,
but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”
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Meditation on Psalm 75
We are back with Asaph as we consider this psalm. There are 12 psalms attributed to Asaph. We have come across him in previous psalms, so just a quick reminder. He was the leader of one of the three Levitical choirs who represented the tribe of Levi. His job description was fairly detailed – you can read it in 1 Chronicles 16:7-37.
The psalms attributed to Asaph have the theme of God’s rule over His people and the nations.
Psalm 75 has an interesting feature – who said this or who said that? There are times when the congregation are speaking. There are times when the psalmist is speaking. There are times when God is speaking.
- GOD IS TO BE PRAISED Verses 1 and 9-10
The psalm is topped and tailed with praise to God.
God has been praised, sometimes in a spoken word but also in song. Some of the songs of today and yesteryear are full of praise and worship and thanksgiving to God for who He is and what He has done and is doing. We might not know all the tunes but we can make a joyful noise to the Lord!
I wonder what your top ten of praise songs might be – a mixture of old and new? It is important to remember that ‘praise songs’ are not about me but about Him. A song that points me to God is vital if we are to praise Him aright.
Why is the psalmist opening with praise to God?
- Your name is near
David Gusik writes about the Name of God – ‘God in all His character and attributes.’
Remember Moses when God had given him the task of leading the people of Israel out of Egypt? Moses said to God, ‘when I go to the people and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me ‘what is His name?’ what shall I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM…..I AM has sent me to you…..The LORD, the God of your fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob – has sent me to you. This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.” Exodus 3:14-15
Kidner writes: God’s Name is part of His self-giving: a revelation of who He is and an invitation to call upon Him.’ As Peter said in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, ‘everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.’ Acts 2:21
A chorus, written by Audrey Mieir in 1959, comes to mind as we think about His Name.
‘His name is wonderful, His name is wonderful, His name is wonderful, Jesus my Lord;
He is the mighty King, Master of everything, His name is wonderful, Jesus my Lord.
He’s the great shepherd, the Rock of all ages, Almighty God is He;
Bow down before Him, love and adore Him, His name is wonderful, Jesus my Lord.’
Isaiah reminds us in his prophecy that ‘His Name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ Isaiah 9:6
- Your wonderful deeds.
Spurgeon said, “We should praise God again and again. Stinted gratitude is ingratitude. For infinite goodness there should be measureless thanks.”
Psalm 9 starts off with a similar theme to Psalm 75.
‘I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.’
Psalm 40:5 reminds us of this great truth – ‘Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us.’
We often sing the hymn that was written by Fanny Crosby in the early 1870s – ‘To God be the glory, great things He has done…’
Space doesn’t allow us to note down all the ‘wonderful deeds’ that God has done. Shall we start at the very beginning, which, according to a song in a well-known film, goes on to say, a very good place to start.
Shall we start with creation – ‘in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…’
No, we will start before the creation of the world.
Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Ephesus and, in his opening statement, he writes, ‘For He (God) chose us in Him (in Christ) from before the creation of the world…’
How about that for a ‘wonderful deed’?
Then we come to creation – ‘O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the works Thy hand hath made … How great Thou art.’
As we make our way through the Bible, we see His wonderful deeds in so many ways – in the lives of individuals, of families, of nations.
- a God of redemption
- a God who forgives
- a God of justice
- a God of judgment
- a God of faithfulness
- a God of power
- a God of compassion
- a God of love
- a God who cares
For each of us, this list could be personalised - ‘MY God is a God of…’ And we could each give testimony about ‘God and me’.
- A GOD WHO IS IN CONTROL Verses 2-8
- Over the nations and their peoples.
God is speaking in these verses.
As we look through our Bibles perhaps, we sometimes wonder where God is and what God is doing. Perhaps we wonder why God chooses leaders to execute His judgments who have no real time or thought of God.
At other times God chooses and uses leaders who have failed in so many aspects of their lives.
For example, Moses had run away because, having murdered an Egyptian, he thought he would get found out and Pharoah would want him dead in retaliation. And while Moses was ‘in hiding’ God speaks to him and tells him that he is the one who will rescue the people of Israel from their 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Moses puts up all sorts of excuses but eventually goes and leads the people out of Egypt and starts them on the journey to the promised land.
God says, “I choose the appointed time.”
What about the time when the people of Israel were taken into exile by Sennacherib, King of Assyria because of their sin? Later, the people of Judah were taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, because of their sin. This must have seemed like the end of the road for the people of Israel and Judah.
But God had got it all planned out – “I choose the appointed time.”
And the people of God are rescued and brought back to their own land.
Daniel confronted Nebuchadnezzar with the interpretation of a dream the king had, which came true. And
this king, who thought he was number 1, with no equals and nor rivals, came to acknowledge who God is. He says, “His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does what He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him, “What have you done?” “ Daniel 4:34-35
In all of these situations, and every other, God ‘judges with equity’ (i.e. uprightness, fairness, truth, order and integrity.)
When there is an upsurge of wicked and evil powers, when the nations seem to be out of control, God guarantees stability until that time of His choosing when there will be the final judgment – ‘for He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.’ Acts 17:31
- Over the individuals
And God has a clear warning to those who think they know better, or even, best.
- don’t boast
- don’t be defiant (‘lift up your horns’ – a figure of speech for strength)
- don’t speak against heaven – for, in so doing, you are speaking against God
- don’t put yourself on a pedestal
All of these are futile in the sight of God because ‘He judges; He brings one down; He exalts another.’
And the finality of it all will be that the wicked will not be able to escape the judgment of God.
For those who know God and have committed themselves to God – whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life – the judgment of God against their wickedness has been taken by Jesus when He died on the cross and cried out “It is finished”.
- BACK TO WHERE WE STARTED Verses 9-10
The psalmist gives his personal testimony – “As for me…” which Isaac Watts picks up in the hymn he wrote:
I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath, and when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ my nobler pow’rs; my days of praise shall ne’er be past,
While life and thought and being last, or immortality endures.
We, too, have many reasons to praise the God of Jacob for He is our God (my God) and, one day, all wickedness will go; the devil and his cohorts will be finally defeated and the righteous will rise up to meet the Lord in the air and so we will be with the Lord forever.