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
Psalms 9-10 - Higgaion and Selah
I have been trying to write a little note about two psalms a day. In this case, two psalms were originally one psalm. I am told that Psalms 9 and 10 were originally one long psalm. At some point, this psalm was divided into two pieces. However, I want to combine them once more for this writing.
Those who know about this psalm tell us that it is an “alphabetical” psalm. Perhaps we thought Psalm 119 was the only one that fits this category. Not so! There are other “alphabetical” psalms. Unfortunately, translating from Hebrew to English lost that distinction for us. Yet, Hebrew scholars assure us that David used the first 11 letters of the Hebrew alphabet in Psalm 9:1-18 and the rest of the alphabet in Psalm 10:1-17!
While we could discuss much in these two psalms regarding the praise David has for God (Ps. 10:16), David’s prayer for the enemies’ defeat (Ps. 10:15), and many other things, I would like to focus on two words in the text.
I want to focus on the two words “Higgaion” and “Selah.” It is interesting to note that “Higgaion” is translated in other psalms (Ps. 19:14, 92:1-3, 2:1, 38:12; Isa. 59:3, 13; etc.), but not here. Here, the translators of the KJV, LSB, TIB, ASV, ESV, NET, NAS, and several others chose to “Anglicize” a Hebrew word. What does “Higgaion” mean? It is hard to know its exact meaning, but often it is considered an utterance or a call for meditation from the reader of the Psalms (Evan Blackmore. The Book of Psalms, Vol 1. 2017. p. 180). For this reason, a handful of translations render the word “meditation” (NKJV, NLT, LSV, etc.) and even “quiet interlude” (NLT). The next word in Psalm 9:16 is “Selah.” We remember from our study in Psalm 2 that this word is a complicated word. It can mean rest, but it also carries the idea of meditation at times.
Thus, as David pens this psalm, when he comes to verse 16 of Psalm 9, the musical notation is to rest or pause and meditate on what was said. I really like these words because I think they provide added emphasis to the songs and teaching. The blessed man is one who “meditates” (higgaion) on God’s word (Ps. 1:2). Do we meditate on the teaching in the psalms? They are rich!
By application, when we sing praises to God (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 13:15; Jas. 5:13; etc.), are we truly thinking about and meditating upon the meaning? Though our songs are not verbally inspired like the psalms were (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:20-21), they are based in Scripture and worthy of our meditation because of the message they teach from God’s word. We also recognize that several psalms have been supplied with a tune, and we today worship God and sing the songs once penned by David in this way. Pause! Meditate! Think about what a privilege we have when we can read these songs and sing them to God!
Much more ought to be said, but please allow these words to encourage us to not only meditate on the words of Scripture but make sure we meditate on the “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” we direct to our God (Col. 3:16)! May they be holy! May they be offered “in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:24), that they might be a “sweet-smelling savor” to God (II Cor. 2:15).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Many have expressed their opinions about the nations addressed in this psalm. There are some aspects that God has kept vague, but I suggest this psalm is a reminder to every nation of who is really in charge of things! Beginning at the end, let us remember that the blessed people are those who put their trust in Him (God’s anointed King, v. 11-12). Have you put your trust in Him (Ps. 7:1, 11:1, 16:1, 25:2; I Tim. 4:10; II Cor. 10:7)?
When reading Psalm 2, some have tried to guess which “kings” and “rulers” joined to rage against God (v. 1-3). It really does not matter, for the end result is true for any man or nation who decides to rebel against God! When we look through history, we find many individuals, leaders of men, governments, etc., who have rebelled against God and ultimately failed. Friends, this is the point! No one can stand against God.
This is why the One who sits in the heavens laughs (v. 4). He laughs at their vain action. What can a man do to overpower God? Nothing! God will overcome (Rev. 17:14)!
This passage also has a Messianic focus (v. 6-7). Hebrews 1:5 quotes this psalm and applies it the Christ. To whom has God ever said, “thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?” He never said it to a man or an angel, only to Christ!
As this psalm closes, notice God instructs men to be “wise” (v. 10). How can we be wise? We need to listen to God’s instruction (v. 10), serve the Lord (v. 11), and worship Christ (“kiss the son;” “pay homage,” v. 12)! This is the path to real wisdom (Ps. 119:98-100).
Notice that the way God tells us to be wise is not what man says is necessary. They call what God instructs “foolishness” and their ways “wise.” Yet, God chose what men call foolish to confound and confuse those deemed “wise” (I Cor. 1:20-21, 25, 27-29).
Let’s reread Psalm 2 and be impressed with God’s power. He is in control. He rules and has sent His Son to be “King of kings and Lord of lords” (I Tim. 6:15). Will you listen to Him? Pray our rulers stop listening to men and listen to God before it is too late (I Tim. 2:1-4).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
One of the saddest verses, next to Jeremiah 8:20, is the three questions asked in Jeremiah 8:22. The Lord asks, “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” I struggled with what was being asked until I came to understand that these were rhetorical questions. Interestingly, Jeremiah 8:22 is written entirely differently in the NET. There, we read, “There is still medicinal ointment available in Gilead! There is still a physician there! Why then have my dear people not been restored to health?” These translators chose to forego the ambiguity of the rhetorical questions and simply state the facts. Whether or not we agree with such actions is a discussion for another time. The point is that God was emphasizing to the people (yet again) that their transgressions could be healed if they would be willing to change. This was done by pointing out a physical truth to make a spiritual point.
Using physical examples to make a spiritual point was how Jesus taught the majority of His time on earth (Matt. 13:34-35). His teachings are called “parables,” but in Jeremiah, this was not a parable but instead a rhetorical question to open the eyes of the people. Is there no balm in Gilead? “Balm” was used for medicinal purposes, and Gilead, and this region, was known for having an abundant supply. “Is there no physician there?” Again, in Gilead, there would be doctors in abundance ready to apply the balm to the hurting. Since a lack of balm and a lack of doctors is not the problem, then why are His people not recovered?
The reason they had not been recovered is the same reason someone might not recover physically even if there is “balm in Gilead.” What is this reason? In order to be healed physically, those people needed to apply the balm to the affected area! If one refuses the medicine, do not be surprised if this person does not recover from the illness! In like manner, if Israel (and us by application) refuses to listen and apply God’s teaching, then they will never recover from the harm of sin and will die in that condition! Remember, they have already told Jeremiah “no” in 6:16, and it does not look like they will change anytime soon. Therefore, when Babylon comes to conquer, when multitudes die, when people are enslaved, and when the land is ravaged, it is not because the people did not have “balm.” It is not that they had no one to heal (physician), it is because they refused to accept God’s “medicine”!
I hope that the application to Jeremiah 8:22 is apparent to us (Rom. 15:4). Though Babylon is not coming to destroy, we still face something greater than a physical threat, for we are facing a judgment day (Heb. 9:27; Acts 17:30-31; II Cor. 5:10; Ecc. 12:13-14). Sadly, there is a real possibility of people dying in their sins (Jn. 8:24; Jas. 1:14-15; II Thess. 1:6-9). If we die in our sins, who can we blame for this besides ourselves (Ezek. 18:20; Col. 3:25)? Is there no “balm,” the gospel, that tells us what to do to be saved from our sins (Rom. 1:16; II Tim. 3:6-17)? Is there not a physician, a “great Physician” who is ready to heal our spiritual ills (Matt. 9:12, 11:28-30)? Then why is there a world of people not yet saved? I think I know at least part of the reason is that those who are aware of the Physician’s prescription (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38) do not want to accept it! I say again, if we are sick and refuse to accept the medicine the doctor prescribes, then do not be surprised if you do not recover from the illness! While I know people can cite dozens of cases where people “wore out” their physical sickness with time and determination, there is no one who will “wear out” the spiritual sickness called “sin”! There is only one cure for it, and if you refuse the cure, nothing else will cure you!
In the long ago, God, through Jeremiah, called out to his people to tell them that there is a way to be healed if they would accept, and they said “no”! These people are dead and gone and have died with their decisions. You and I are still alive, though! What will you do? What will be your response to the Lord and His plan for healing (saving) you from your spiritual ills? Choose wisely (Heb. 3:7-8; II Cor. 6:2)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these” (Jer. 7:4, KJV). The NET records this passage as, “Stop putting your confidence in the false belief that says, “We are safe! The temple of the LORD is here! The temple of the LORD is here! The temple of the LORD is here!” What was going on with these people in Jeremiah’s day?
In context, notice that God has sent Jeremiah to warn this sinful nation of their sin. He went to the gate of the Temple and cried out, “amend your ways and your doings” (Jer. 7:2-3). They responded, “The Temple of the Lord,” as if God would spare them from destruction because the Temple was in Jerusalem. They were reminded twice in this chapter not to trust in those lying words. The mere fact the Temple was in Jerusalem would not save them when the Babylonian army swept over them.
What would save them? God said salvation would come when they “amend” or change their ways (Jer. 7:5). In other words, repent, and they would be allowed to dwell in the land (v. 7). Notice that the key to their salvation was not in having the Temple in Jerusalem but living as God told them to live (v. 5-7). Even though many years had passed, the words of Joshua 24:14 were still true, and they needed to worship God “in sincerity and in truth”! They could not “ride the fence” by practicing their abominations and then turn around, beaming about having the Temple there (Jer.7:9-15). That Temple was made of physical material and could be destroyed (and was, II Kings 25)!
Friend, beware that you don’t have the same attitude as the Israelites of old did. It is easy to slip into the mindset that I am bound for Heaven so long as I am a member or have my name on the “roll” of a sound church. This is not always the case! Don’t misunderstand; we know that salvation comes through Christ (Lk. 19:10), and all those who are saved are added to His church (Acts 2:38-47). My point is that we must examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5) and make sure our actions match our words (Rev. 22:14; Lk. 6:46)! The people in Jeremiah’s day had to “amend” or change their ways because their actions did not match their words (Jer. 7:9-11). It takes more than merely having our names written on a piece of paper to be saved. We must be active in the Lord’s work (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10; Jas. 1:22-25; Heb. 5:9)!
It pains me to say this, but there will be people condemned to an eternity in Hell because their actions, speech, and thoughts were not in line with the Scriptures (II Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:31-46). Yes, some of these will be people who claim to be members of the Lord’s church. Why will this happen? It will happen because they weren’t slaves to God (Rom. 12:1-2) but obeyed only when they felt like it. When they were confronted with their sin, they said, “I’m a member of the Lord’s body!” Just like those folks said, “The Temple of the Lord!” As if that were all that was required! Sadly, Christ will say, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). Let’s learn a lesson from this text and not act like those in Jeremiah 7!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs