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Psalm 107:1-9, 43 1
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say this—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, 3 those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. 4 Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. 5 They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. 6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. 8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, 9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. ….43 Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD.

clip_image037Background 2

Verse 1-9 – In these verses there is reference to the deliverance from Egypt, and perhaps that from Babylon: but the circumstances of travelers in those countries are also noted. It is scarcely possible to conceive the horrors suffered by the hapless traveler, when crossing the trackless sands, exposed to the burning rays of the sum. The words describe their case that the Lord has redeemed from the bondage of Satan; who passes through the world as a dangerous and dreary wilderness, often ready to faint through troubles, fears, and temptations. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, after God, and communion with him, shall be filled with the goodness of his house, both in grace and glory.

Biblical Truths 3

Psalm 107 begins with the most basic biblical affirmation possible: That God is good. What might seem self-evident to many, to others it is not obvious that God is good. There is so much evil and darkness in the world, and sometimes the forces of death seem so overwhelming, that God’s goodness becomes problematic. The problem of evil is theological at its base and the problem of whether the universe is ultimately a friendly place or a hostile place is a basic philosophical question. The death of a child; the destruction of dreams and life by natural forces such as tornadoes and earthquakes; deliberate acts of evil of one against many–all stack up powerfully against a good God. If one argues for the goodness of God based on evidence, the case is difficult to make. Yet, that is precisely the argument the Psalmist makes.

The Psalm begins by giving thanks to this God because this God is good. The goodness of God is evidenced by the quality of love. The Psalm calls attention to a list of loving acts. God delivers in times of distress, hunger and fear. The wise person is the one who pays attention to these acts of God.

The text continues with the theme of the nature of God as love. In this case, God is seen as parent. God is portrayed in a state of anxiety over the waywardness of the child. God loves the child and is therefore committed to the child no matter what the child’s behavior might be. Any parent who has a troubled teenager knows the anxiety of the text. The trouble relationship between parent and child is one of the basic forms of anxiety that love produces. Rarely in the Bible do we get such a glimpse into the Divine agony caused by taking the risk of love. God is torn between anger and compassion.

Items for Discussion

  • How do you personally explain the love/anger relationship between a parent and a child?
  • Can a child anger a parent so much that the parent stops loving them?
  • What are the ways that we learn about our God? Experiences, books, others, etc. What have you learned about the character of our God?
  • Why is the paid of distress such a great teacher and relationship builder? Think about between people, between a person and God.
  • Why is the analogy of wondering in a desert so perfect for describing mankind’s search for God today?

 

Ephesians 1:18-20
18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,

Background 4

This Epistle purports to have been written to the “saints at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus,” though, as we shall see, the fact of its having been directed to the church at Ephesus has been called in question. Assuming now that it was sent to Ephesus, it is of importance to have a general view of the situation of that city, of the character of its people, and of the time and manner in which the gospel was introduced there, in order to a correct understanding of the epistle.

Ephesus was a celebrated city of Ionia in Asia Minor, and was about 40 miles south of Smyrna, and near the mouth of the river Cayster. The river, though inferior in beauty to the Meander, which flows south of it, waters a fertile vale of the ancient Ionia. Ionia was the most beautiful and fertile part of Asia Minor; was settled almost wholly by Greek colonies; and embosomed Pergamos, Smyrna, Ephesus, and Miletus. The climate of Ionia is represented as remarkably mild, and the air as pure and sweet and this region became early celebrated for everything that constitutes softness and effeminacy in life. Its people were distinguished for amiableness and refinement of manners; and also for luxury, for music and dancing, and for the seductive arts that lead to vicious indulgence. Numerous festivals occupied them at home, or attracted them to neighboring cities, where the men appeared in magnificent habits and the women in all the elegance of female ornament, and with all the desire of pleasure.

There is an extensive introduction to Ephesus that can be found at the Internet link http://www.studylight.org/com/bnn/view.cgi?book=eph&chapter=001

Biblical Truths

Verse 18. The eyes of your understanding being enlightened. The construction here in the Greek is, probably, “that he may give you (\~dwh\~, Ephesians 1:17) the Spirit of wisdom, etc.–eyes of the understanding enlightened,” etc. Or the phrase, “the eyes of your understanding are being enlightened,” may be in the accusative absolute, which Koppe and Bloomfield prefer. The phrase, “the eyes of the understanding,” is a figure that is common in all languages. Thus Philo says, “What the eye is to the body, that is the mind to the soul.” Comp. Matthew 6:22. The eye is the instrument by which we see; and, in like manner, the understanding is that by which we perceive truth. The idea here is, that Paul not only wished their hearts to be right, but he wished their understanding to be right also. Religion has much to do in enlightening the mind. Indeed, its effect there is not less striking and decisive than it is on the heart. The understanding has been blinded by sin. The views which men entertain of themselves and of God are narrow and wrong. The understanding is enfeebled and perverted by the practice of sin. It is limited in its operations by the necessity of the case, and by the impossibility of fully comprehending the great truths which pertain to the Divine administration. One of the first effects of true religion is on the understanding. It enlarges its views of truth; gives it more exalted conceptions of God; corrects its errors; raises it up towards the great Fountain of love. And nowhere is the effect of the true religion more apparent than in shedding light on the intellect of the world, and restoring the weak and perverted mind to a just view of the proportion of things, and to the true knowledge of God.

That ye may know what is the hope of his calling. What is the full import of that hope to which he has called and invited you by his Spirit and his promises. The meaning here is, that it would be an inestimable privilege to be made fully acquainted with the benefits of the Christian hope, and to be permitted to understand fully what Christians have a right to expect in the world of glory. This is the first thing which the apostle desires they should fully understand.

And what the riches of the glory of his inheritance. This is the second thing which Paul wishes them to understand. There is a force in this language which can be found, perhaps, nowhere else than in the writings of Paul. His mind is full, and language is burdened and borne down under the weight of his thoughts. See Barnes “2 Corinthians 4:17”. On the word “riches” here used the phrase “riches of glory” means glorious wealth; or, as we would say, “how rich and glorious!” The meaning is, that there is an abundance –an infinitude of wealth. It is not such a possession as man may be heir to in this world, which is always limited from the necessity of the case, and which cannot be enjoyed long; it is infinite and inexhaustible. The “inheritance” here referred to is eternal life.

In the saints. Among the saints.

Verse 19. And what is the exceeding greatness of his power. On the language here used, See Barnes “2 Corinthians 4:17”. There is much emphasis and energy of expression here, as if the apostle were laboring under the greatness of his theme, and wanted words to express the magnitude of his conception. This is the third thing which he was particularly desirous they should know–that they should be fully acquainted with the power of God in the salvation of men. He refers not merely to the power which he had evinced in their salvation, but also to what the gospel was able to accomplish, and which they might yet experience. The “power” referred to here, as exercised towards believers, does not refer to one thing merely. It is the whole series of the acts of power towards Christians which results from the work of the Redeemer. There was power exerted in their conversion. There would be power exerted in keeping them. There would be power in raising them up from the dead, and exalting them with Christ to heaven. The religion which they professed was a religion of power. In all the forms and stages of it, the power of God was manifested towards them, and would be until they reached their final inheritance.

According to the working of his mighty power. The might of his power. This should be taken with the clause in the following verse, “which he wrought in Christ;” and the meaning is, that the power which God has exerted in us is in accordance with the power which was shown in raising up the Lord Jesus. It was the proper result of that, and was power of a similar kind. The same power is requisite to convert a sinner which is demanded in raising the dead. Neither will be accomplished but by omnipotence, See Barnes “Ephesians 2:5”; and the apostle wished that they should be fully apprised of this fact, and of the vast power which God had put forth in raising them up from the death of sin. To illustrate this sentiment is one of his designs in the following verses; and hence he goes on to show that men, before their conversion, were “dead in trespasses and sins;” that they had no spiritual life; that they were the “children of wrath;” that they were raised up from their death in sin by the same power which raised the Lord Jesus from the grave, and that they were wholly saved by grace, Ephesians 2:1-10. In order to set this idea of the power which God had put forth in their regeneration in the strongest light, he goes into a magnificent description of the resurrection and exaltation of the Lord Jesus, and shows how that was connected with the renewing of Christians. God had set him over all things. He had put all things under his feet, and had made principalities and dominions everywhere subject to him. In this whole passage, Ephesians 1:19-23; 2:1-10, the main thing to be illustrated is the POWER which God has shown in renewing and saving his people; and the leading sentiment is, that the SAME power is evinced in that which was required to raise up the Lord Jesus from the dead, and to exalt him over the universe.

Verse 20. Which he wrought in Christ. Which he exerted in relation to the Lord Jesus when he was dead. The power which was then exerted was as great as that of creation. It was imparting life to a cold and “mangled” frame. It was to open again the arteries and veins, and teach the heart to beat and the lungs to heave. It was to diffuse vital warmth through the rigid muscles, and to communicate to the body the active functions of life. It is impossible to conceive of a more direct exertion of power than in raising up the dead; and there is no more striking illustration of the nature of conversion than such a resurrection.

And set him at his own right hand. The idea is, that great power was displayed by this, and that a similar exhibition is made when man is renewed and exalted to the high honor of being made an heir of God. On the fact that Jesus was received to the right hand of God.

In the heavenly places. See Barnes “Ephesians 1:3”. The phrase here evidently means in heaven itself.

Items for Discussion

  • What do you think Heaven is like?
  • What about life’s experiences gives you faith that life after death is real?
  • If God wanted to prove to humanity that He exists and that life after death exists, what methods besides Christ could He have used?
  • With Ephesus being the kind of city it was, does this help or hurt Paul’s argument for faith in Christ?
  • Many believe in God – Many believe in the afterlife – Why is Christ and our faith in Him paramount to establishing a relationship with God?

Discussion Challenge

  • In a world filled with distractions, how do we keep our children’s and our own eye on the ball (getting to the next world with Christ)?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. Matthew Henry Commentaries
  3. http://www.processandfaith.org/lectionary/YearC/2006-2007/2007-08-05.shtml
  4. Barnes Notes
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