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Psalm 91:14-16 1
14  “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

clip_image034Background 2

This Psalm is without a title, and we have no means of ascertaining either the name of its writer, or the date of its composition, with certainly. The Jewish doctors consider that when the author’s name is not mentioned we may assign the Psalm to the last named writer; and, if so, this is another Psalm of Moses, the man of God. Many expressions here used are similar to those of Moses in Deuteronomy, and the internal evidence, from the peculiar idioms, would point towards him as the composer. The continued lives of Joshua and Caleb, who followed the Lord fully, make remarkably apt illustrations of this Psalm, for they, as a reward for abiding in continued nearness to the Lord, lived on “amongst the dead, amid their graves.” For these reasons it is by no means improbable that this Psalm may have been written by Moses, but we dare not dogmatize. If David’s pen was used in giving us this matchless ode, we cannot believe as some do that he this commemorated the plague which devastated Jerusalem on account of his numbering the people. For him, then, to sing of himself as seeing “the reward of the wicked” would be clean contrary to his declaration, “I have sinned, but these sheep, what have they done?”; and the absence of any allusion to the sacrifice upon Zion could not be in any way accounted for, since David’s repentance would inevitably have led him to dwell upon the atoning sacrifice and the sprinkling of blood by the hyssop.

Biblical Truths 3

Here the psalmist mentions some of the distinguishing characteristics of those who truly love God, and tells us what God will do for them. Notice them with me:

They have set their love upon the Lord (verse 14). The Christian’s heart has been turned away from the world in the direction of God. Paul described the Thessalonians as those who had “turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). Thus, God’s child has turned to Him, and away from sin (see also Romans 6:17-18; Colossians 3:1-2). It is only when we have this understanding and, thus, this kind of commitment that we can be acceptable. Many people have a passing interest in Christ (Luke 8:11-14; Mark 7:6), but this is not enough. Those who love the Lord have set their love on Him (John 14:15; Matthew 22:37-39).

They know His name (verse 14). All of us know people whom we are very close to; our dear friends are people we have spent considerable time with. They are ones we have tested and tried; their friendship has been proven. To “know” God is to trust Him, to believe Him. The psalmist says elsewhere, “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee; for thou, Jehovah, hast not forsaken them that seek Thee,” (9:10). Abraham knew God – he trusted Him (Romans 4:3; 17-23). On the other hand, the wicked do not “know” God, and they are cursed because of it: “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:24).

They pray effectively (verse 15). “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him.” Those who love the Lord have the assurance that their prayers will be answered; they may confidently express their dependence on God. Some men, of course, God will not hear. “Jehovah is far from the wicked; but he hear the prayer of the righteous” . . . “He that turn away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Proverbs 15:29; 28:9; see also 1:24-31 and Job 27:8-9). However, God’s ears are open and receptive to His faithful followers (1 Peter 3:12; Psalm 18:3,6).

The Lord is with them in trouble (verse 15). Notice, please, that they are not immune to trouble. We must see that there is actually some benefit to us when trouble arises. “Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold trials; knowing that the proving of your faith work patience. And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). Trials serve to make our faith stronger, so we will have testing times in this life. However, we have the assurance that God is with us in all our troubles. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). “So that with good courage we say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear: what shall man do unto me?” (Hebrews 13:6; see also Romans 8:31-39 and Philippians 4:13).

They will be saved (verse 16). When God “shows us His salvation,” it will be worth it all. Paul said, “For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8; see also 1 Peter 1:3-9; Luke 18: 29-30) .

What a wonderful description the psalmist gives us here of those who love the Lord. If you will “set your love” on the Lord and “know” Him, all these things – and more – will be yours.

Items for Discussion

  • We live in a world filled with distractions and affluence. How do you know you love God enough?
  • When do you pray? Are your prayers consistent with the intent of this Psalm?
  • What would the outward evidence look like of someone who loved God with all their body and soul?
  • What are the dangers we have in our society that dilute our love of God?

 

Luke 16:19-31
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Background 4

“Luke was an Antiochian of Syria, a physician by profession. He was a disciple of the apostles and later accompanied Paul until the latter’s martyrdom. He served the Lord without distraction [or ‘without blame’], having neither wife nor children, and at the age of eighty-four he fell asleep in Boeotia, full of the Holy Spirit. While there were already Gospels previously in existence—that according to Matthew written in Judaea and that according to Mark in Italy—Luke, moved by the Holy spirit, composed the whole of this Gospel in the parts about Achaia. In his prologue he makes this very point clear, that other Gospels had been written before his, and that it was necessary to expound to the Gentile believers the accurate account of the [divine] dispensation, so that they should not be perverted by Jewish fables, nor be deceived by heretical and vain imaginations and thus err from the truth. . . . And afterwards the same Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles [Geldenhuys, pp. 17-18].”

Bible Truths 5

Jesus has been teaching about materialism and money — the unjust steward, serving Mammon, and stewardship. His audience includes his disciples (16:1) as well as “the Pharisees who loved money” and ridiculed his stand on money (16:14). Jesus affirms the validity of the Law, rightly interpreted (16:16-18) — important to the Pharisees. The parable we are studying this week condemns the Pharisees for their love of money and neglect of showing compassion for the poor (16:19-31).

A parable is a story intended to convey a spiritual truth. The story doesn’t have to be about real people or even real situations (such as a camel passing through the eye of a needle). But to achieve its teaching goal, a parable must be striking and memorable, so that as the story is retold and remembered, the spiritual truth is reinforced again and again. The hearers must be able to imagine the situation.

Of course, Jesus is saying that riches don’t count for anything after we die, but that isn’t the thrust of this parable. I think he is making two points.

  1. Wealth without active mercy for the poor is great wickedness.
  2. If we close our eyes to the truth we are given, then we are doomed.

In the context, Jesus is condemning the Pharisees for their love of money but lack of mercy for the poor. Remember his comment about their scrupulous tithing? “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone” (Luke 11:42). It isn’t their piety that he is condemning, but what they AREN’T doing — showing mercy to the poor, seeking justice for the downtrodden. It is ironic that the Pharisees who prided themselves on being such Bible scholars largely missed the spirit of the Old Testament — mercy and justice.

Items for Discussion

  • What was the rich man’s sin?
  • Why do some people have struggles being around poor people?
  • What are the difficulties we face in giving to the poor?
  • How do you feel when someone walks up to your car window at a stop light with a bucket asking for money? Do you roll down your window and give?
  • Should we separate those who are in need from those who try to swindle a handout?
  • What ministries and agencies in our community could you give to that directly aid the poor?
  • How is it that we pass on this message of Christ’s parable to our children?

Discussion Challenge

  • How can we, who are affluent, balance our lives with those in poverty around us?
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