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
Exodus 28 records when God told Moses to choose people to make the garment to be worn by Aaron (and all high priests that would follow). This garment was to be worn by Aaron when he entered the Tabernacle. This outfit included (Ex. 28:4) a breastplate, ephod (shoulder-piece), robe, woven tunic, turban (mitre/hat), and sash (girdle/belt). This outfit would set him apart from the other priests and certainly set him apart from any priest or high priest among the pagan worshippers.
As we continue reading the chapter, God speaks specifically that the ephod (shoulder-piece) would have onyx stones attached to it that had the names of the tribes on it – six on each stone (v. 9-10). The breastplate would contain twelve gemstones and have the name of the tribe on each stone (v. 15-21), and the Urim and Thummim would be placed in that breastplate. Upon the turban was to be a plate that said, “Holiness to the Lord” (v. 36). These things, as well as a robe, the linen breeches, and all that pertained to this garment, were worn by the high priest.
When we read Leviticus 8:7-9, we see Aaron wear this outfit for the first time. Leviticus 8-9 describes for us the first time that the sacrifices and work described from Exodus and Leviticus become a reality. By the end of Leviticus 9, Moses and Aaron had successfully offered the sin offering, burnt offering, and peace offering and blessed the people (v. 22-23). God then “lit the fire” that consumed the burnt offering on the altar (Lev. 9:24).
What a day that must have been! What loveliness on that day in Leviticus nine! What majesty as men observed God Himself light a fire on the altar and accept His offering (Lev. 9:24)! What beauty when Aaron had walked into the Tabernacle bearing the tribes upon his shoulders and his heart (Lev. 9:23; Ex. 28:12, 29) as he did his holy duty. As we continue to read Leviticus, we will see this man carry the blood of the sacrifices into the Most Holy Place (Lev. 16) to obtain forgiveness for the people.
This Old Testament “shadow” looked forward to the day in which a high priest with an “unchangeable priesthood” (Heb. 7:23-24) would come and offer a sacrifice “once and for all” (Heb. 10:10, 7:27, 9:26)! The numerous high priests serving in the Tabernacle and later the Temple “foreshadowed” the One who serves in the “true Tabernacle” that God pitched (Heb. 8:2, 9:11)!
This same high priest came into the “true Tabernacle” with blood, but not the blood of bulls and goats. He entered with His own blood for man’s forgiveness (Heb. 9:12, 14, 10:19-22)! This is the only time in history when the high priest was also the sacrifice! The unchangeable high priest entered, not merely bearing the names of twelve tribes on His heart and shoulders. Instead, the living embodiment of “Holiness” entered (Heb. 10:12, 14) bearing the names of humanity (Matt. 20:28; Heb. 2:9b; I Pet. 1:18-19; Matt. 26:28; I Jn. 2:2; Col. 1:18-23)!
Unlike the sacrifices of the Old Testament that pertained only to the Jews, the sacrifice of Christ pertained to the entire world! The only question left to answer is will you accept the Lord’s salvation? In Old Testament times, children were taught to “know the Lord” because they were already Jews and had circumcised their sons on the eighth day of life (Lev. 12:2-3; Heb. 8:11). Today, we accept the Lord’s adoption willingly when we believe on Jesus as the Son of God, repent of our sins, confess our faith in Christ, and are baptized for the remission of sins (Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3; Rom. 10:10; Acts 2:38).
Have you done this? Have you accepted the Lord’s plan and been washed in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 1:5; Matt. 26:28; Acts 22:16)? If not, why not? There is no other way to be saved! There are no other priests to offer a sacrifice because no other sacrifice will be made (Heb. 10:26b)! The high priests under the Mosaic period looked forward to the time in which we live! Will you accept the sacrifice of God’s unchangeable high priest (Heb. 6:20)? I beg you to do it today!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When we read through the first six chapters of Leviticus, we learn about five sacrifices. These are the burnt offering, grain (meat) offering, peace offering, the sin offering, and guilt offering. These offerings were essential to the lives of the Jews. Each one served a purpose in obtaining forgiveness for those who lived under the Mosaic law. In God’s mind, though, these things not only served an immediate purpose in the lives of the people, but also served the purpose of pointing people toward the ultimate sacrifice, the true culmination of all of God’s plans – Christ!
We see Christ in all of those sacrifices. For example, Christ is seen in …
- The burnt offering. Just as this offering was utterly consumed, so He gave Himself completely at the cross (Phil. 2:8; Matt. 20:28).
- The grain offering. Just as this sacrifice required bread, so Christ is “the bread of life” (Jn. 6:35).
- The peace offering. Just as this sacrifice symbolized the Jews’ fellowship restored, so Christ “is our peace” between us and God (Eph. 2:14; Col. 1:20).
- The sin offering. Just as this sacrifice was burned outside the camp, Christ was also sacrificed “outside the gate” of Jerusalem (Heb. 13:11-12).
- The guilt offering. Just as this demanded restitution of the guilty, Christ purchased us from Satan, “not with corruptible things … but with the precious blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1:18-19).
Is it not amazing to consider the seamlessness of God’s word? The things that occurred in the Old Testament pointed to the greatest sacrifice to ever walk the earth. Jesus fills this role as a sacrifice for mankind (and many others). He offered Himself that we might be free from sin, cleansed, and allowed to start again as “babes in Christ” (I Pet. 2:2)!
Yet the comparison in those Old Testament sacrifices does not end here. Just as we can see a spiritual connection between Christ and those sacrifices, remember, Christians are also a “royal priesthood,” and God intends for us to offer “spiritual sacrifices” (I Pet. 2:9, 5). Let us look at those sacrifices and see where the comparisons can be made in our lives.
- As a burnt offering, we are to offer ourselves to God completely (Gal. 2:20).
- As a grain offering (the only sacrifice without blood), we are to be living sacrifices, not dead ones (Rom. 12:1-2; II Cor. 5:14-15).
- As a peace offering, we enjoy fellowship with God now that we are forgiven (II Jn. 9; I Jn. 1:7; Matt. 5:9).
- As a sin offering, we “take up (our) cross daily and follow” Him (Lk. 9:23). Since we are following Him, where did He go? We need to follow Christ and “be separate” from the world (II Cor. 6:17)!
- As a guilt offering, we strive to make restitution for our sins. We cannot earn our salvation (Lk. 17:10), but we can repent of our sins (Acts 2:38) and be His servant so long as we live (Rom. 6:16-18)!
Christ is our sacrifice, but how have we responded to Him? The beauty and poetry of Scripture show us how the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to Christ. We now need to offer sacrifices but in a spiritual way. These also point us to Christ! Are we doing this? Do we give God all that He deserves?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Getting An Answer You Don’t Want
An old saying often repeated is: “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” In like manner, be careful when asking a question, you just might get an answer that you do not want! Is this not what happened when the rich young ruler came to Jesus asking what to do to inherit eternal life (Matt. 19:16)? Jesus answered him, but the man received an answer he did not want, and so he abandoned Jesus (Matt. 19:22).
What about us? Do we sometimes get an answer from God’s word that we do not want? How do we react when we learn that a thing we have been doing (or would like to do) is not authorized of God in the Bible? Do we become defiant, saying, “I’m going to do it anyway”? Do we get mad, or sad? Do we say, “That doesn’t make sense to me”? Such responses do not change what God said. Getting mad, sad, protesting, or substituting our ideas for God’s does not change what has been written. Let us take a moment and examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5). How do we react to God when His answers are not what we want?
For example, some do not like God’s answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” The Lord’s answer is to have faith in Christ, repent of sin, confess our faith in Christ, and be baptized (Heb. 11:6; Acts 17:30; Rom. 10:10; I Pet. 3:21; Acts 2:22-38; etc.). Will you accept God’s answer to this important question, or will you turn away like the man in Matthew 19?
Some ask, “What kind of music does God accept in worship?” God’s answer is vocal music (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 13:15; Jas. 5:13; etc.). Yet, this is not the answer men give to us! Therefore, whose answer will we accept? God’s or man’s?
Others ask, “Did Christ really establish one church?” The answer from Scripture is that Christ promised to establish a church (Matt. 16:18), and this church began on the Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2:41, 47). Before Acts 2, the church was spoken of in promise, but after Acts 2, the church was spoken of as being in existence on earth. This church belongs to Him and not man (Rom. 16:16; Acts 20:28). This is the Lord’s answer. However, is this the answer we want, or the one we have been taught? When was your church established?
Another common question asked is whether or not the kingdom is in existence. Jesus said the kingdom was “at hand” when He was on earth (Matt. 4:17). He promised some would not “taste of death” until they saw the “kingdom of God come with power” (Mk. 9:1). He equated the kingdom with the church in Matthew 16:19. Thus, the kingdom was brought into existence in Acts 2 when folks heard the gospel, believed, obeyed it and were saved (Acts 2:36-41). As further proof of the kingdom’s existence, the apostle Paul said folks who are saved are “transplanted” into this kingdom (Col. 1:13). The apostle John said he was in the kingdom (Rev. 1:9).
These and many other questions are answered by God in the Bible. Therefore, what is the proper response when we get an answer from God’s word that we do not want? The answer is to be honest, and accept what the Lord says (Jer. 10:23; Col. 3:17). There are times when God’s answers do not make “sense” to us, but this does not give us license to change the answer (Rom. 3:4). Let us submit our will to God’s, and let us be ready to accept what He says always (I Pet. 4:11), knowing that God’s ways are best (Isa. 55:8-9; I Cor. 1:20-31).
“Come And See!”
John 1:45-46 records Philip bringing Nathanael to Christ. Nathanael asked, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip answered, “Come and see.” Throughout the Bible, God asks for people to investigate, see, and learn about Him and His Word (ex: Isa. 1:18). Likewise, Jesus called for people to “come” and “learn” of Him (Matt. 11:28-30). Paul said a similar thing to the Thessalonians (I Thess. 5:21). The truth does not fear investigation! In like manner, we would like you to “come” visit with the Caneyville church of Christ and “see”....
“Come and see” a group of people committed to doing only as the Bible says. We wish only to “speak as the oracles of God” (I Pet. 4:11), and do only those things that are authorized by the Lord (Col. 3:17). If we are doing wrong, show us this in the Scriptures and we will stop it and do that which is right!
“Come and see” our orderly worship services. God demands that things be done “decently and in order” (I Cor. 14:40). God is not the author of confusion (I Cor. 14:33). In our worship services, we will sing praises to God; partake of the Lord’s Supper; give as we have been prospered; pray to God; and hear a sermon from God’s word (Acts 2:42; I Cor. 16:1-2; Acts 20:7; II Cor. 9:7). “Come and see” what we do and what we are about. YOU are welcome!