Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #314 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Psalm 120 and 121 today and our focus is on How Should We Handle it When People Gossip and Lie About Us? + Does the Lord Protect us From All Harm? We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Two Psalms today, and since they are quite different from each other, let’s read each one and then discuss them separately from each other. First Psalm 120. First, you might notice that this Psalm, and the next are both entitled, “a Psalm of ascents.” Apparently these two Psalms, and the next few after them, were traditionally sung by the Jewish people when they travelled to Jerusalem for a feast or festival from the surrounding countryside. It is also thought that these Psalms were sung as worshippers walked up the steps to the temple. Psalm 120 sees the Psalmist in distress – again – and he rightly calls on the Lord for help, and – again – the Lord answers him. What is the source of the distress? Well, vs. 2 seems to tell us quite clearly:
“Lord, rescue me from lying lips
and a deceitful tongue.” Psalm 120:2
Lies are being spoken against the Psalmist – somebody is spreading deceitful things, gossip or rumors about him. When I was a kid, we learned a nursery rhyme that said, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” I don’t believe that there have been many more erroneous things taught to children. While I’ve broken several bones in my life – ankle, finger, hip, head, fibula, wrist, toe, and arm…I’ve never had a bone broken as the result of a stick or a stone. Conversely, I have been wounded many, many times from words, and I’ll bet you have too. Listen to Spurgeon’s commentary on this verse – especially to his counsel on how to handle it when people are slandering us, gossipping about us, or lying about us:
Slander occasions distress of the most grievous kind. Those who have felt the edge of a cruel tongue know assuredly that it is sharper than the sword. Calumny rouses our indignation by a sense of injustice, and yet we find ourselves helpless to fight with the evil, or to act in our own defence. We could ward off the strokes of a cutlass, but we have no shield against a liar’s tongue. We [often] do not know who was the father of the falsehood, nor where it was born, nor where it has gone, nor how to follow it, nor how to stay its withering influence. We are perplexed, and know not which way to turn. Like the plague of flies in Egypt, it baffles opposition, and few can stand before it. Detraction touches us in the tenderest point, cuts to the quick, and leaves a venom behind which it is difficult to extract. In all ways it is a sore distress to come under the power of “slander, the foulest whelp of sin.” Even in such distress we need not hesitate to cry unto the Lord. Silence to man and prayer to God are the best cures for the evil of slander.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 120-150, vol. 6 (London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers, n.d.), 5.
READ Psalm 121 begins with an important and familiar question, and a most wonderful and comforting answer:
1 I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2
Now THAT is a song worthy of being sung on the way to worship – in Jerusalem, or anywhere! Next we get to and almost too good to be true set up promises:
He will not allow your foot to slip;
your Protector will not slumber.
4 Indeed, the Protector of Israel
does not slumber or sleep.
5 The Lord protects you;
the Lord is a shelter right by your side.
6 The sun will not strike you by day
or the moon by night.
7 The Lord will protect you from all harm;
he will protect your life.
8 The Lord will protect your coming and going
both now and forever. Psalm 121:3-8
We are protected, says the Psalmist – because the Lord is ALWAYS paying attention. How often have we heard stories of kids being injured when their parent or watcher turns away for just a few seconds? God does not ever do this – He is always awake and watching. But that gets us to a big question: what do these promises mean, practically? The sun DOES strike us by day- I just got a sunburn a few weeks ago. I HAVE slipped on a hike recently – my foot slipped on some gravel, and down I went. (no injuries!) I have been harmed before, and so have my kids and my wife – who has been recovering from very painful surgery for the last 2.5 weeks, and has struggled with pain every day. You know what? I’ll bet you’ve been harmed too – so what does this promise mean for us -is it so spiritual as to be meaningless?
Of course, I do not believe so. Consider some other great promises we have, like John 3:16, “16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son,so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Of course humans will die – that is clear in Scripture “It is appointed unto man to die” Hebrews 9:27. Of course, humans will suffer – Jesus Himself makes that clear in John 16:33 – In this world, says He, you WILL HAVE tribulation. So – what does the promise of John 3:16 mean? It means that death, for the Christian – will not mean rotting away and perishing. It will mean transformation, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:
51 Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. 53 For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality. 54 When this corruptible body is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place:
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
55 Where, death, is your victory?
Where, death, is your sting?
As writer and theologian A.W. Pink says:
“He underwent the full horror that is death and in doing so transformed death, so that for his followers it is no more than sleep.”
Richard D. Phillips, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, ed. Richard D. Phillips, Philip Graham Ryken, and Daniel M. Doriani, Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2015), 162.
Will we suffer? yes. Will we temporarily slip? Yes. Will messengers of Satan temporarily torment us? Yes, probably so (see 2nd Corinthians 12) and yet God will ultimately, permanently and completely KEEP us and PRESERVE us into eternity. Here is how Peter talks about God’s keeping power:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 5 You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials 1 Peter 1:3-6
Notice the dual truths – God will KEEP AND GUARD us by His power, and yet – for a short time, we will suffer grief in various trials. Those trials do not mean we are not being kept/guarded and protected by the Lord.
Bible Memory passage for the month of November: John 14:6 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
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