Today: [Psalm 75-76] The Nearness of the Name of God. In chapters 75-76 of Psalms the writer is again Asaph. He writes a song not of individual lament but rather one of corporate praise. The focus is upon the name of the Lord and the fact that God’s name is near to us. The understanding of God’s nearness speaks of distance and timing. God is near to us in answer to our prayers and near to us in that He is not a far off God. The magnification of the warrior nature of God describes Him as not only the God of Israel but the God of Jacob. Jacob was who Israel was before he wrestled with the angel. This is the believer in his immature, imperfect state. Even though you may be imperfect and an unfinished work in terms of God’s character being realized in you – He is still your strong defense in a time of battle.
[Psa 75:1-10 KJV] 1 [[To the chief Musician, Altaschith, A Psalm [or] Song of Asaph.]] Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, [unto thee] do we give thanks: for [that] thy name is near thy wondrous works declare. 2 When I shall receive the congregation I will judge uprightly. 3 The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars of it. Selah. 4 I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn: 5 Lift not up your horn on high: speak [not with] a stiff neck. 6 For promotion [cometh] neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. 7 But God [is] the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. 8 For in the hand of the LORD [there is] a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring [them] out, [and] drink [them]. 9 But I will declare for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. 10 All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off; [but] the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.
This psalm is a psalm of thanks by Asaph composed to be sung not just by a special appointee – but all the congregation. The focus is upon the name of the Lord. Asaph writes that the name of the Lord is NEAR to His people. For the Old Testament saint the name of the Lord was Jehovah in all of its compound derivatives:
Jehovah-Tsidkenu – Our Righteousness
Jehovah-Shalom – Our Peace
Jehovah-Shamma – God who is Here
Jehovah-Rophe – Our Healer
Jehovah-Jireh – Our Provider
Jehovah-Nissi – Our Banner
Jehovah-Rohi – Our Shepherd
Jehovah-M’kaddesh – Our Sanctifier
When Asaph says that the name of the Lord is NEAR, he isn’t saying that the people have casual access to the presence of God. The Hebrew word “karove” was used uniquely to describe the Levites who were privileged to go near to the Presence of God in the Shekinah manifestation of His glory that appeared over the Mercy Seat. The implied statement is that God is not a far off God – He is near to those who are of a contrite heart and a humble spirit. When the reference is made to nearness with this word it not only means near to us in terms of proximity and distance but also near to us in terms of time and immediacy. The name of the Lord – the authority of God, the power of God and the presence of God is near to us. The word is also translated as a reference to PERSONAL relationship as well. We have a personal relationship with our God who makes His mighty works known in the earth in our behalf to bless and benefit us.
Verse 2 makes reference to the fact that the singer RECEIVES the congregation of the Lord. Because he receives the congregation of the Lord then he can JUDGE RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT. Usually when we think of judgment we think in terms of separating ourselves from an offender who must be punished. I want you to see in this verse that God’s idea of judgment between men is exactly the opposite. Our judgment, in order to be right judgment must proceed from a decision we make to RECEIVE the congregation of the redeemed. The Hebrew word for receive here, among other things means to “wed” and to “stick together”. Religious minded people make judgment and separate themselves and sow discord among the brethren. Asaph is saying that it is impossible to make righteous judgment from God’s perspective unless you first proceed from a posture of seeing yourself in covenantal relationship with the objects of your scrutiny.
Verses 4-6 speak of those who seek to assert themselves above others in terms of authority and control. He warns the prideful not to speak with a stiff neck or to exalt their horn (or to seek to exert power) over others. In the final analysis verse 7 tells us that promotion comes from the hand of God not from asserting our willfulness against our adversaries. God puts one down and sets one up. It is important to understand this particularly in an election cycle. Many times people whose candidate loses an election will question the results. We have to make up our mind whether we believe that God raises on up and sets one down? Man pulls the voting lever but God decides the outcome. Any other mentality or attitude toward election results is a rejection of the wisdom of God’s word.
Verse 8 speaks of the sovereignty as a cup in God’s hands. Ultimately the affairs of men are not under their control. We make decisions and nations rise and fall but it is the hand of God that rules over all. From this perspective we view the world around us in the context of our nearness to God’s presence knowing that our lives are not controlled by the hand of man but by the economy of God that is exercised in our behalf from the throne on high. For this reason Asaph offers up praise. He evokes the name of God as the God of Jacob which tells us that God is our God even in our unrefined and immature state. Jacob did not become a prince with God until he wrestled with the Angel and had his name changed to Israel. However long before that God was working in his behalf. God doesn’t wait for us to attain some lofty spiritual state before He acts to defend and benefit us.
[Psa 76:1-12 KJV] 1 [[To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm [or] Song of Asaph.]] In Judah [is] God known: his name [is] great in Israel. 2 In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. 3 There brake he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle. Selah. 4 Thou [art] more glorious [and] excellent than the mountains of prey. 5 The stouthearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep: and none of the men of might have found their hands. 6 At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep. 7 Thou, [even] thou, [art] to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry? 8 Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still, 9 When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah. 10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain. 11 Vow, and pay unto the LORD your God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared. 12 He shall cut off the spirit of princes: [he is] terrible to the kings of the earth.
Psalm 76 is another Psalm of Asaph. Asaph apparently did not become prolific in his contributions to the compendium of the psalms until after the death of David. The previous psalm speaks of the goodness of God to the people of Jacob. This psalm continues the theme emphasizing not Jacob but Israel. Israel is the name given by God after Jacob wrestled with the angel. It speaks of a changed nature and a changed heart as Jacob was transformed from a heel grabbing manipulator to one who had wrestled with God and prevailed. In Psalm 75 the people praised the name of the God of Jacob. In Psalm 76 they made His name great in Israel because now they not only reflect God’s mercy but also His transforming power to change our hearts and cause our character to reflect His nature and integrity.
Verse 2 tells us that the tabernacle of God is in Salem. Salem means peace. The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy and we in our own persons are the temple of God. God’s dwelling place is not in a tent or a building but in our own hearts. In choosing to make his dwelling place on the inside of us – He first brings His peace to bear. He wants us to have peace and to live in peace with ourselves and with one another. God is not a God of turmoil or disturbance. When God is on the ascendency in your life peace will rule. This is why the apostle Paul wrote in Colossians:
[Col 3:15 KJV] 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
We want the peace of God to rule in our hearts because as verse 2 of Psalm 76 tells us God dwells in peace and rules in peace in our lives. In verse 3 we read that because God dwells in peace – He will break the bow, the arrows and the shields the enemy brings against. This gives us to understand that the enemy isn’t just warring against us – he is warring against our peace, the peace of God on the inside of us. Verse 6 tells us that at the rebuke of the God of Jacob the chariot and the horses of the enemy are cast into the sea. This is a reference to Pharaoh when his army pursued after Moses and the people in the wilderness. The chariots and horses represent the devices of the enemy. We are not ignorant of the enemy’s devices but neither are we not ignorant of the weapons of our warfare. God destroys our enemies as the God of “Jacob” which means that the enemy lies when he tries to claim the right to harm us or destroy us because we are not living in sinless perfection. Jacob is a metaphor representing the immature, unrealized character of Israel. We may not have wrestled with the angel yet, we may not have come to sinless perfection but God defends us nonetheless!
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