Life-Study of Psalmsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Thus far, we have covered Psalm 1 concerning the law in man's appreciation and Psalm 2 concerning Christ in God's economy. We have seen that it was altogether by the Holy Spirit for the Psalms to be arranged this way. Suppose that we were the arrangers of the one hundred fifty psalms. Which psalm would we place as the first one? The Lord's way is the best way. He put Psalm 1 first, where we see the law in man's appreciation. Then we see Christ in God's economy in Psalm 2. What would be next in Psalms 37? It is interesting to see that right after Psalms 1 and 2, there are five psalms which show us David's concepts concerning a godly life.
The title of Psalm 3 says, "A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son." Absalom was a rebellious son. The Psalms were arranged in this way to show us that David needed to be corrected and disciplined. David appreciated the law so highly in Psalm 1, but did he keep the law? Did he as a tree stand by the streams steadfastly? He was not planted by the streams in Psalm 3. Instead, he was fleeing from his rebellious son.
From my youth I have loved Psalm 51. This is a psalm of David's repentance after his great sin recorded in 2 Samuel 11. David committed intentional murder, using his power and authority as a king to carry out his conspiracy to kill Uriah, one of his fighters. After that murder, he robbed Uriah of his wife. The last five commandments of the law prohibit killing, fornication, stealing, lying, and coveting. David broke the last five commandments. He killed Uriah, committed fornication, stole Uriah's wife, lied to Uriah, and coveted Uriah's wife. That offended God to the uttermost (1 Kings 15:5). Right away God sent the prophet Nathan to reprove David, as recorded in 2 Samuel 12. David became subdued, and he repented. Then he wrote Psalm 51. That is a wonderful psalm. The standard in this psalm is high; it is full of life and full of spirit. It even takes care of God's economy. The end of that psalm shows that after his confession of his own sin, he still remembered Zion and Jerusalem. In verse 18 David said, "Do good in Your good pleasure unto Zion:/Build the walls of Jerusalem."
That psalm is very good and very high. But it is difficult to believe that about three years later, he wrote Psalms 37, which are full of the human concept. After David committed murder and fornication, God disciplined him by allowing there to be trouble among his children (2 Sam. 12:11). One of David's sons committed fornication with one of his daughters. Then the fornicator was killed by another son of David, Absalom (2 Sam. 13:1-36). After the killing of his brother, Absalom fled to Geshur and stayed there for three years (vv. 37-39). Then after three years, he came back to David, and a little later he rebelled. Then David fled. In his flight from his rebellious son, he wrote Psalms 37. We have to know the history of these psalms in order to see them in the light of God's New Testament economy.
Some Chinese Christians have said that if you want to learn how to pray, you should study the Psalms, but I would say that we should not do this. Psalms 37 are all psalms of prayer, but they are the wrong example of how to pray because they are according to David's human concept for his personal interest. The Chinese Christians also say that if you want to learn how to preach, you should study Proverbs. But I would say that if you want to be a good preacher, you should study Paul's fourteen Epistles. Furthermore, if you want to learn to pray, you should go to Paul. Paul gave us two model prayers in one book, the book of Ephesians. In Ephesians 1 he said that he would ask the Father, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation that we may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us (vv. 17-19). Then in Ephesians 3, Paul said, "I bow my knees unto the Father..that He would grant you..to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man, that Christ may make His home in your hearts..that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God" (vv. 14-19). If we compare these two prayers of the apostle Paul with the prayers in Psalms 37, we will realize that the prayers in these psalms should not be the examples of how we should pray.
In this message I would like to paraphrase the main points in these five psalms. We need to evaluate these psalms point by point in the light of God's New Testament economy. The prayers in Psalms 37 are all involved in sufferings, in good and evil, and are even involved in avenging, self-righteousness, and accusing of others. There is no point in these psalms indicating life, repentance, self-condemnation, or self-denial. Furthermore, there is no point indicating much fellowship with God, touching God or being touched by God, and being humble and contrite in spirit. As we consider these psalms, we need to see these points.
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