Sunday, August 7, 2016 pm                                        Psalms Index


They Have Not Prevailed
Psalm 129


Tonight another Psalm of Ascents.  One of 15 (120-134).  As with many of these psalms, we have no background information.  This particular psalm is divided into 2 parts.  Vs. 1-4 describes the deliverance of Israel.  Vs. 5-8 are imprecatory as the psalmist call for the defeat of those who hate Zion.

 I.                     Afflicted from my youth (1-4)

a.       The phrase of vs. 1 is repeated in vs. 2 and possibly could be a responsive statement.

b.       Many a time afflicted from my youth – a reference to Israel facing various afflictions from their time in Egypt.  The picture of vs. 2-3 is one of captivity and possibly enslavement.  Much like what Israel faced while in Egypt.  After that Israel and Judah’s history was filled with enemies that afflicted them.
The plowers plowing could be a reference to their produce for which they labored was for another – as is often the case when a nation is under captive tribute to another nation -
i.e. Micah 3:12, written to Jerusalem and Samaria as Northern Israel was about to face captivity, Micah (a contemporary of Isaiah) exposes the corruption of the priesthood and calls for a future punishment saying, “Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, And the mountain of the temple Like the bare hills of the forest.

Or, some see this as whips upon the back – consider how in Egypt, they were beaten (Exodus 1:11, 5:13-14 - taskmasters, Isaiah 10:24 – speaking of the remnant of Israel, “Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: “O My people, who dwell in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrian. He shall strike you with a rod and lift up his staff against you, in the manner of Egypt.”)

c.        But the LORD has delivered –

                                                   i.      The enemy has not prevailed against me – be reminded, if God is for us, who can be against us – Romans 8:31.  1 John 4:4 – He is greater than He who is in the world.
BUT, also this shows endurance on the part of the psalmist - 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 – hard pressed, but not crushed.

                                                 ii.      He is righteous – Revelation 16:7, Psalm 19:9 – His judgments are true and righteous all together.

                                                iii.      He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked – perhaps a reference to losing the chains of captivity.  Our God can deliver us – 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 – He has delivered, does deliver and will still deliver. 2 Peter 2:9 reminds us that He knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation.

d.       Applications

                                                   i.      The kingdom of God will stand - As the worshipper in Jerusalem would look at its walls and the temple and consider the people’s history – the “battle scars” from times past, yet the temple is still standing;
So we, as we consider all that the church has endured – assaults from without and within – both in its youth (consider all the troubles recorded in the Bible) and throughout the ages we can take courage knowing that the kingdom of heaven will stand forever.  
Matthew 16:18 – when Jesus promised to build His church he noted that the gates of Hades would not prevail against it.  1 Peter 1:25, similarly the word of the Lord endures.

                                                 ii.      We have enemies today – this is no secret.  Enemies within and without.  Enemies that would like to inflict and even destroy us.  In these troubling times, the future of the godly seems troublesome.  BUT, just remember the history of Israel and Zion and how in all these things – the LORD is righteous and our enemy shall not prevail against us.

                                                iii.      Consider also the bondage of sin – whether it applies or not to our present psalm – our Lord endured chastening – including having his back plowed (bruised for our iniquities – Matthew 27:26, 1 Peter 2:24 [Isa. 53:5], Hebrews 9:28) so that we could be loosed from the bondage and chains of sin (Heb. 2:14-15, Galatians 4:3-7).

 II.                   Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame (5-8)

a.       An imprecatory psalm – the word imprecatory means, to call a curse or judgment upon one’s enemies.  We struggle with such psalms today as we are called upon to love our enemies and do good to them (Matthew 5:43-45, Romans 12:19-21, etc.).  BUT, even in this we should not rejoice in iniquity but in truth (1 Cor. 13:6).  To request of God to deliver us from the evil one and evil ways is reasonable (Matthew 6:13, 2 Timothy 4:18, 2 Thess. 3:3).
To request that He defeat HIS enemies (who should also be our spiritual enemies) is natural, and when offered with a humble and loving attitude it has its place.
BUT, in this we MUST examine our motives AND we MUST leave it in God’s hands.

b.       Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame and turned back -
Zion, as noted in times past, is reference to Jerusalem, but more so, the place where God meets with His people. 
Consider the usage of Zion in the New Testament:

1)       Matthew 21:5, John 12:15 – both passages quoting Zechariah 9:9 when Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly, riding on a donkey

2)       Romans 9:33 and 1 Peter 2:6, both quoting Isaiah 28:16 and notes those who reject the Lord (He becomes a stumbling block to them)

3)       Romans 11:26, quotes Isaiah 59:20-21 speaking of the salvation of Israel because the deliverer (our Lord) would come

4)       Hebrews 12:22, in describing our future hope, we have come to Mount Zion and the city of the living God…

5)       Revelation 14:1, records the Lord as a Lamb, standing on Mount Zion.

IN these passages we get the picture of what Zion is about to us – we are God’s chosen people, redeemed though our Lord Jesus Christ.   

May these enemies of God (haters of Zion) be frustrated and stopped. 
        Again, this ought to be our desire in this lost and dying world.  We want to see those of this world saved – cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10-11
       However, on our own, we certainly cannot retaliate against ungodliness (as we have seen), BUT

1) We can be an example and by our godly example put them to shame.  1 Peter 2:11-12, 3:15-16

2) We can pray that God’s will prevail and that His church prospers and that we be delivered – 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2, 1 Timothy 2:1-2 – we pray so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life
3) We can seek to change our environment for the better, one soul at a time – Matthew 5:13, 16
4) We can make sure we are not contributing to the ongoing ungodliness - Ephesians 5:11, Romans 1:31, Isaiah 5:20 – calling good evil, and evil good, 1 Corinthians 5:6, etc.

c.        Let them be as grass on a housetop (6-7) – a description of grass growing in a place where no firm root can be established.  Grass withers and perishes and is useless.  Possibly, in the hot region of Israel, they would put a small layer of dirt on their housetop to help cool it.  When it rained, some grass would spring forth, but not enough to grow and become useful.  
The psalmist prays that the scheming of the wicked will fail and wither away. 

d.       Neither let those who pass by them say, “The blessing of the LORD be upon you…” (8) - Do not give the friends of His enemies the power to bless them
I cannot help but think about how many of the ungodly think they are godly.  They think their ways are just and righteous.  Sadly, many professed believers in God have capitulated to the ungodly, and the society we are in is the result. 


We find another psalm that we can appeal to as we look at this sin-sick and dying world.  And when we are assembling with the saints, may we be reminded of a kingdom that has been tested and yet continues to endure.  Let us take courage and put whatever happens in God’s hands.  He IS still in control.  Think about it.