This psalm shows us a great contrast between the righteous and the wicked. David turns to God for his help (v. 1). Why? David says the godly and the faithful have ceased and are no more. I do not understand this to be an absolute statement, but a poetic statement where it seems he sees no righteous people around. Indeed, righteous people existed then (and today), for God always has His “7000” (I Kings 19:18; Rom. 11:3-4)! Yet, David cries out in sorrow about the words of the wicked (v. 2).
He quickly understands, though, that “the Lord shall cut them off” (v. 3). Do we ever get downtrodden? Do we think that the world is so far gone that it is beyond help? Have we ever asked where God is during these times? If you have, then let David answer these questions in Psalm 12.
The words of the wicked sound mighty and intimidating, but I must remember that God’s words are “pure words, as silver… purified seven times” (v. 6). This means God’s word is without a speck of imperfection. It is without a hint of error! Remember that “seven” symbolizes that which is perfect or complete. Therefore, if God’s word is like “silver … purified seven times,” we can be assured there is no error to be found here! Man will lie and change facts to suit himself or to make himself look good. God changes nothing! His very word is truth (Jn. 17:17) and needs no change! We need to listen to it above anything a man might tell us!
Finally, the wicked men roam or walk when the vilest are exalted (v. 8). Sadly, this seems to be the lot of men who live on earth. God speaks, but His word is ignored by the wicked. Wicked men roam, walk, or strut when the vile are exalted. We see examples of this daily! Solomon lamented the same thing in his writings (ex: Prov. 14:34; etc.). Yet, let us remember that God is still on His throne. His pure word is with us. One day, there will be a reckoning of these things (I Thess. 4:13-17; II Thess. 1:6-9). Where will you be when that happens?
Yes, we sympathize with David’s concern, but we also know there is hope in Christ (Eph. 4:4; Col. 1:27; I Pet. 1:3; I Jn. 3:3)! Let us focus on this, and let us tell others about the hope and joy we have in the Lord (Mk. 16:16; II Tim. 2:2).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Psalm 11 - 6/7/22
As every Bible student knows, some passages demand greater attention to detail. Some passages can be read once or twice, and we comprehend the statement. Other passages require several more readings to truly understand what is said. For me, Psalm 11 required several readings to understand the “feel” and flow of the song.
In reading this psalm, it is apparent that David declares his trust in the Almighty (v. 1). He displayed a trust we all ought to have. When I put my trust in God (v. 1), then why listen to the ones trying to scare me (v. 1b-3)? This section, to me, seemed very difficult until I realized that the last of verse 1 through verse 3 was a statement made by the enemy to David! This is just one of many occasions where I think the verse divisions were not helpful to the reader (me)! When one reads this and sees that the enemy is speaking from verse 1 through verse 3, the rest of the psalm makes much more sense. Verses 4-7 are then David’s answer to his enemy!
Putting the praise and the accusations side-by-side, we have a song declaring David’s trust in the Lord in everything (v. 1).
- Why would he flee to the mountain (v. 1) when God is on the throne in Heaven (v. 4)?
- Why fear man’s bows and arrows (v. 2) when God can rain down fire and brimstone (v. 6)?
- Finally, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do” (v. 3)? This statement is true and scary when taken on its own. I believe I have read articles and heard sermons concerning “if the foundations are destroyed.” Remember, in context, this statement was made by an enemy who assumed the foundations could be destroyed! They will not be destroyed so long as God is on His throne (v. 4), condemning the wicked (v. 6), and allowing the upright to behold His face (v. 7)!
Thus, David can take courage!
When I observe this world and see many wicked things happening, I get depressed. I wonder what “I” can do. I get even more depressed when I see “I” can do nothing on my own (Jn. 15:5). Perhaps David thought this way at times. I know Asaph did (Ps. 73)! Psalm 11 is God’s inspired encouragement to David (and us, Rom. 15:4) that regardless of how bad things may look through your eyes, you can be encouraged, strengthened, and ready to face the enemy when we look at things through God’s eyes!
God has an answer for whatever man might throw at us. If you deny this, read Psalm 11 again (and again) until you get it!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Reading the first chapter of Micah is enlightening as well as challenging. This is one of those occasions where some might become intimidated when they see some city names that are hard to pronounce. Yet, when we compare those towns to a map of Old Testament times, we find these cities scattered in the northern and southern areas. That is significant. What purpose then does it serve to read those names, and how am I helped in the 21st century when I read Micah chapter one?
Let me suggest a few applications to our reading. First, it is interesting to note that it is actually a play on words in the chapter’s context when we read those city names. For example, the city name of Gath means “Tell Town.” Therefore, to “tell it not in Gath” (Mic. 1:10) is like saying, “Don’t tell it in Tell Town!” It is a subtle thing, but one that the people would have understood. God inspires Micah to write to those in Aphrah and say they should roll themselves in the dust. This carries a deeper meaning when we learn that “Aphrah” means “house of dust”! Therefore, those who lived in the “house of dust” needed to roll themselves in the dust (an act of lament and sorrow)! As we continue reading Micah 1:10-15, we see this play on words continue with the rest of the cities.
I call this God’s “Hall of Shame” because Micah speaks to the inhabitants of those cities, as well as those in Samaria and Jerusalem (Mic. 1:5, 9), and condemns them for their sin. No inhabitant of these cities could read the first chapter of Micah and feel good about themselves or their history before God! In fact, the promise made before this was that God was coming in judgment against these people because of their sin (v. 3-9). Let this then be a reminder that God has a standard for right and wrong, and He follows it! Unfortunately, we live in a society that has removed itself from such standards, and we are suffering for it. It is past time to be reminded that there are things that are right and wrong in this world, and we need to stand for what is right! This is because we will suffer if we do the wrong things. Over a dozen cities in Judah and Israel were made to understand this, and we need to understand it as well!
Another application I make from this reading is the very pointed and powerful preaching done by Micah. In the spirit of Acts 2, when Peter condemned “all the house of Israel” for killing Jesus (Acts 2:36), so also Micah, 700 years before Christ, condemns folks for sins. I appreciate Micah because after he wrote, the people knew what they had done and why God cursed them. In my mind’s eye, I imagine the people reading Micah’s words for the first time, and when he started mentioning their hometowns, they might have smiled. Their smile didn’t last long, though! In a moment, they were made to face their sins and see themselves as God saw them! God was coming in judgment against people who had wasted their lives on vain things, on the lusts of the flesh and eyes, and the pride of life (I Jn. 2:15-17)!
In light of these truths, let us hear and fear! We need to listen to what God says now while we still have the opportunity to repent (II Cor. 6:2). The people in Micah’s day were told essentially to “brace themselves” because God was about to bring judgment against them (Mic. 1:3-4). In like manner, we are told that the Lord is coming “in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and those who obey not the gospel” (II Thess. 1:7-9)! This is not an empty threat. God’s longsuffering grants us time to repent (Rom. 2:4), but the longsuffering will not continue indefinitely!
One final application I see is the bravery of Micah! I am impressed that when given the responsibility to bring a very unpopular message to both the northern and southern kingdoms, Micah accepted the challenge! This same bravery characterized preachers of the first century, and it needs to describe God’s people today (I Cor. 16:13-14; Prov. 28:1; I Thess. 2:2; Eph. 3:12; I Jn. 4:17)! Paul encouraged Timothy (and us by inference) to preach the word “in season and out of season” (II Tim. 4:2). This means when people like it and when they don’t like it! It means preaching the word without compromise or changing the message because of who is listening. Notice how brave Micah was in chapter one. He will have more to say later, but think about how Micah was taking his life into his hands. Yet, he would write what God wanted to be written, and he was willing to face the consequences. Are we ready to say the same (Rom. 15:4)?
What a dubious honor it was to be listed in such a place as Micah one. If we had been living in that time, what decisions might we have made after hearing this read? Would we repent? Would we get mad at Micah? Would we be angry at ourselves? God’s blessing is seen in the fact that we can change! We can repent and do things His way (Acts 2:38, 17:30). Are you willing to leave the shame of sin behind (Rom. 6:21)? Don’t get mad at the messenger for saying you are in sin (Rom. 3:23). Be thankful someone cares enough and loves you enough to tell you (Eph. 4:15). Now, let’s do something about it (Heb. 5:9; II Cor. 6:2)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In the three “synoptic gospels,” we read where Jesus chose His twelve apostles. What comes to mind when we think about “apostles”? Often, we think of these men who had the ability to “heal sicknesses and cast out devils” (Mk. 3:15). Maybe we think about the men receiving the Holy Spirit’s power in Acts 2:1-5? I hope that when we think of the apostles, we think of them as teachers of the Word. This was their primary work (Mk. 3:14)!
Are you familiar with the word “apostle”? It has a simple meaning. It means “one sent” (Thayer, Vine’s). Someone sent to do a specific work is, in the strict definition, an apostle. For this reason, Jesus was called an apostle (Heb. 3:1)! This is because He was sent from Heaven to the earth with work to do (Jn. 3:16, 17:4). Of course, we know these men had a special work to do. They had been called explicitly by the Lord to take the gospel first to the Jews and later to the world (Matt. 10:6; Mk. 16:15). They also had to meet certain qualifications to be the Lord’s apostle (Acts 1:21-22).
What impresses me is the fact that these men were not what the “elite” or the “powerful” would have chosen to be apostles. Almost all of them were from Galilee, not from Jerusalem or Judea. They were from an area not known for their literacy (Acts 2:7). Four or 1/3 of the apostles were fishermen! Jesus also chose a tax collector (publican), a zealot, and others from nearby places in Galilee. These men who had not traveled much except within the borders of Israel were chosen to take the gospel to the world! Once taught and empowered by the Holy Spirit, they preached the gospel “in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). These men who were sent by Jesus accepted the work, the hardship, the persecution, and finally, death in order to spread the gospel.
What brave souls! What true workmen! They lived through sad times, and they also saw many victories. To their number was added two more apostles, Matthias and Paul (Acts 1:26, 26:16-18). Though they came later, they still had the same mission -- to teach and preach to people and bring lost souls to Christ! This these men did until they met their deaths -- all except John died at someone else’s hands.
I know there are no living apostles today in the sense that Jesus had them (Acts 1:21-22). Yet, we still have their testimony with us in the epistles and gospel records. These men wrote the words of the New Testament. Therefore, we can take the words of the apostles of Christ to the world as we teach others and preach the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” Paul told Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Tim. 2:2). The point being that as Timothy told “others” what he had been taught, then they would tell “others,” and those “others” would tell “others,” etc., until we come to this present day! Friend, you and I are supposed to be in that “chain”! We are supposed to accept the Lord’s will, believe it (Heb. 11:6; Jn. 8:24), obey it (Heb. 5:9; Mk. 16:16), and then teach others (Matt. 28:20) what we have done so that they can do it, too!
We are not the ones Christ chose, but we still must take up the mantle and go to others to tell them about the Lord and salvation. Are you going to do what God wants you to do?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Mark 3:1-6 records a time when Jesus was in the synagogue and healed a man with a withered hand. This event happened on the sabbath day when God had said no work was to be done (Ex. 20:10-11, 31:15, 3l; Lev. 23:3; Deut. 5:14). Thus, the Pharisees and scribes (Lk. 6:7) watched Jesus on this day, scrutinizing His every move. Other versions besides the KJV say “they watched him closely” in this text (NKJ, NET, etc.).
Why were the scribes and Pharisees watching Jesus (closely)? Did they want to make sure and witness a miracle? No! Were they enamored with the Lord and His power? No! The reason they watched Him so closely was to determine whether or not He would “heal” the man (i.e., work) on the Sabbath (Mk. 3:2). If they could catch Him in such an error, they could accuse Him of a capital offense (Ex. 35:2; Num. 15:32-36; Jer. 17:21-26)!
As I read this text (and parallel accounts in Matthew and Luke), what stands out to me is that these people weren’t watching Jesus so they could show how He was a fake! They didn’t watch to show folks where the “wires” were or how He did tricks with “smoke and mirrors.” Jesus wasn’t a fraud as Simon was (Acts 8:9-11)! These people knew Jesus was the real thing when it came to miracles. They just didn’t accept what that meant for them, and so they looked for ways to accuse Him of sin!
When Jesus merely said, “Stretch out thine hand,” and the man was healed (Mk. 3:5), what “work” did He do? Is speaking now to be classified as a “work” to those people? Jesus had outwitted them, and they were “filled with madness” at what He’d done (Lk. 6:11).
As my old friend used to say, these people accepted the evidence (Christ’s miracles are real), but they rejected the conclusion (Jesus is the Christ)! Their dishonesty would lead them down a road of sorrow, unbelief, and ultimately an eternity in Hell if they didn’t repent (Jn. 8:32)!
There are people like this today, sadly. For example, think about those who say Jesus is a “good guy” or a “good prophet.” Some might say He was a good philosopher, but they deny He’s the Son of God. Here are people today who accept the evidence but reject the conclusion. They won’t accept Jesus as the Son of God! For this choice, they jeopardize their souls!
Another lesson we learn from this text is that the Pharisees and scribes, though supposed to be living in a close relationship with God, didn’t express that which God embodies -- love (I Jn. 4:8)! Love doesn’t think ill of another. Love doesn’t envy, and love thinks the best of others (I Cor. 13:4-8). We see none of those attributes in the Pharisees in this text. They were looking for a way to accuse Jesus. They were watching in the hope of finding fault. That’s not love!
Mark 3:5 declares Jesus looked upon the Pharisees and scribes “with anger.” He was angry at the people and that their hardened hearts would stand by in condemnation as He healed a man who needed it. It was lawful “to do well” on the sabbath (Matt. 12:11-12; Lk/ 6:9). Yes, menial work was prohibited and jobs wherein people might’ve been engaged all week long were to be stopped on this day, but showing compassion and mercy to another wasn’t prohibited any day of the week! Their lousy attitude had so clouded the truth that they thought being compassionate was somehow sinful. Read Galatians 5:22-23 and learn there’s no law that is somehow against one practicing the “fruit of the Spirit.”
Jesus had a lot of work to do, but He was up to the challenge! Read the book of Mark and see what facts come to life for you! There is much to learn, and perhaps it is I that’ll get an “attitude adjustment” by reading about the works and listening to the words of Christ!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs