The Book of Psalms

Thursday: Man of Sorrows, Part 2


Theme: When God’s Judgment Comes
In this week’s lessons we observe how David expresses himself honestly before God, and see how God hears and understands the great difficulties we go through.
Scripture: Psalm 69:19-36
Blessings can become curses, as we have seen with the first two examples of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Today we mention two more.

Material possessions. I do not need to elaborate on this. Money and other material goods are from God. But they are dangerous, particularly when we possess them in abundance. They should lead us to God in gratitude. More often they lead us from him.

The Lord’s Day. My fourth example is our misuse of the Lord’s Day. On December 7, 1941, the air force of imperial Japan bombed the American navy at Pearl Harbor, which brought the United States into the Second World War and altered the course of history. It was a terrible disaster for this country, since it crippled the Pacific fleet and claimed 2,403 young lives. The bombing took place on Sunday morning. What is not well known is that after the defeat of Japan in 1945, General Douglas MacArthur took control of the archives of the Japanese war department and set translators to work on the enemy’s papers. They discovered that in the years prior to the war the Japanese had sent professors to the United States to study America’s national character to determine at what point and in what manner we would be most vulnerable to attack, when it should come. Their reports stated that we would be most vulnerable on a Sunday morning following a Friday on which both the Army and the Navy had a payday.

And that is precisely what December 7, 1941 was. In earlier years Sundays were sacred days of rest and worship for the majority of Americans, and even those who were not Christians respected them. But that had changed by the winter of 1941. Our day of national blessing had become a national hangover, and God turned this former blessing into a curse. That weekend at Pearl Harbor was a debauch of vast proportions, and we were unprepared and unable to meet the Japanese attack when it came.1
God is not mocked. So we must remember that the judgment of God will in time surely be meted out to sinners, even though that is not a task assigned to us. And that includes our own use or abuse of God’s gifts. We forget a truth like this at our great cost and peril.
Verse 29 is a brief interjection, corresponding to verse 5 in the first part of the psalm. But it is different. The first one-verse section was a confession of sin, occasioned by the psalmist’s profession of innocence where his enemies were concerned. Though innocent before them, he acknowledged that he was not innocent before God. He was both foolish and guilty. In this verse David seems merely to reiterate his profound pain and once again calls on God to protect him. In other words, it is a one-verse summary of the opening lament and plea for help.
What it seems to do is draw the main body of the psalm to a close and prepare for the quite different material and tone of the closing stanzas in which the psalmist praises God and calls on others to praise God too.
1Some of this material, including the Pearl Harbor illustration, is from Donald Grey Barnhouse, God’s Covenants: Exposition of Bible Doctrines Taking the Epistle to the Romans as a Point of Departure, vol. 8, Romans 9:1-11:36 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963) pp. 119, 120.
Study Questions:

How can material possessions become a trap?
How was Pearl Harbor Day an example of our misuse of the Lord’s Day? What should the purpose of the Lord’s Day be?
How is verse 29 different from the rest of the psalm?

Application: Think of ways you can make sure that your possessions and your time will truly honor God in the weeks to come. Are there practices you do on the Lord’s Day that need to get reconsidered, or even stopped?

Study Questions
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