Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Psalm 111 1
1 Praise the LORD. I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. 2 Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. 3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate. 5 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. 6 He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. 7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. 8 They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness. 9 He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever—holy and awesome is his name. 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

clip_image064Background

There is no title to this Psalm, but it is an alphabetical hymn of praise, having for its subject the works of the Lord in creation, providence, and grace. The words dwell upon the one idea that God should be known by his people, and that this knowledge when turned into practical piety is man’s true wisdom, and the certain cause of lasting adoration. Many were and are ignorant of what their Creator has done, and hence they are foolish in heart and silent as to the praises of God: this evil can only be removed by a remembrance of God’s works, and a diligent study of them; to this, therefore, the Psalm is meant to arouse us. It may be called The Psalm of God’s Works intended to excite us to the work of praise.

The psalmist begins with an invitation to praise, Ps 111:1; and then proceeds to furnish us with matter for adoration in God’s works and his dealings with his people, Ps 111:2-9. He closes his song with a commendation of the worship of the Lord, and of the men who practice it. This is the first alphabetical Psalm which is regular throughout. This Psalm is an acrostic poem, the lines of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Biblical Truths 2

The Lord is to be praised for his works. The psalmist resolves to praise God himself. Our exhortations and our examples should agree together. He recommends the works of the Lord, as the proper subject, when we are praising him; and the dealings of his providence toward the world, the church, and particular persons. All the works of the Lord are spoken of as one; it is his work; so admirably do all the dispensations of his providence centre in one design. The works of God, humbly and diligently sought into, shall all be found just and holy. God’s pardoning sin is the most wonderful of all his works, and ought to be remembered to his glory. He will ever be mindful of his covenant; he has ever been so, and he ever will be so. His works of providence were done according to the truth of the Divine promises and prophecies, and so were verity, or truth; and by him who has a right to dispose of the earth as he pleases, and so are judgment, or righteous: and this holds good of the work of grace upon the heart of man, verses 7, 8. All God’s commandments are sure; all have been fulfilled by Christ, and remain with him for a rule of walk and conversation to us. He sent redemption unto his people, out of Egypt at first and often afterwards; and these were typical of the great redemption, which in the fullness of time was to be wrought out by the Lord Jesus. Here his everlasting righteousness shines forth in union with his boundless mercy. No man is wise who does not fear the Lord; no man acts wisely except as influenced by that fear. This fear will lead to repentance, to faith in Christ, to watchfulness and obedience. Such persons are of a good understanding, however poor, unlearned, or despised.

Items for Discussion

  • In what ways does the Old Testament re-enforce your belief in God and your faith in Christ?
  • Why would the poetry of a Psalm be more effective to communicate the true nature of our God to us?
  • When you think of God’s Works, what comes to mind?
  • Of the characteristics of our God mentioned in Psalm 111, which ones do you relate to the most on a personal level?

 

Acts 9:32-43
32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. 34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. 35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. 36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” 39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. 40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.

Background

Acts and the Gospel According to Luke are both, technically speaking, anonymous. The early church universally attests that Luke the physician authored both, but since the late 18th Century, some have advocated a questioning of this view. As mentioned, internal evidence is not specific as to the author, but we can see several characteristics of the author from a study of the text that enables us to narrow the possibilities. From this method, we see that the author is well-educated, knows his Greek Old Testament, thought a great deal of Paul, and was not an original Apostle or disciple but did participate in some of the events he narrated. From what we know of Luke, he fits well with these characteristics. In conclusion, we see that there is no convincing reason to think that Luke isn’t the author of Acts: the early church attests to it and there is no real reason to doubt it.

Biblical Truths

Luke again takes up the story of Peter’s evangelistic work. He had earlier left him in Jerusalem, after his missionary tour with John through the Samaritan villages (8:25). We now find Peter on an evangelistic campaign in Judea (9:32). We remember that Philip had passed throughout the area of coastal Judea preaching the gospel on his way from Azotus to Caesarea (8:40). Peter may have been following up Philip’s Judean missionary trip, even as he did for Philip’s work in Samaria.

Luke begins the account of Peter’s circuit around Judea with his trip to Lydda to “visit the saints,” that is, the believers (9:32). This city was the Old Testament Lod (1 Chronicles 8:12; Ezra 2:33; Nehemiah 11:35). Lydda was about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Jerusalem, at the edge of the central highlands. It sat astride two important highways. One ran from Egypt to Syria and the other from Joppa (on the coast) to Jerusalem.

In Lydda, Peter encounters a man named Aeneas who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. Upon meeting him, Peter says, “Jesus Christ heals you,” and Aeneas immediately gets up and walks (9:34). Word quickly spreads of Aeneas’ healing, and it has a powerful influence on the community. With some hyperbole, Luke writes: “All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord” (9:35).

Peter next goes to Joppa (modern Jaffa, or Yafo). It was 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of Jerusalem and about 10 to 12 miles northwest of Lydda. Today, Jaffa is part of greater Tel-Aviv. Joppa possessed the only natural harbor on the Mediterranean between Egypt and Ptolemais (Acco), to the north. Thus, it served as the seaport for Jerusalem. Herod the Great had also built the harbor of Caesarea, 30 miles north of Joppa, which became an important seaport, too.

Luke takes up the story of a much-loved disciple who lived in Joppa. In Aramaic her name was Tabitha, and in Greek, Dorcas (both names mean “gazelle”). Luke says she was a person “who was always doing good and helping the poor” (9:36). But suddenly Tabitha dies, and the church in Joppa is mourning its loss of a much appreciated and needed servant.

When the church hears that Peter is nearby in Lydda, they send two men to urge him to come immediately to see what he can do. When Peter arrives at Joppa he is taken to the house where Tabitha is lying in preparation for her burial. Here all the widows are gathered. They are crying and showing Peter the clothing that Tabitha had made for the poor. Peter then goes upstairs where her body lays.
He sends everyone out of the room, and then kneels and begins to pray. Finally, turning to the dead woman, he says, “Tabitha, get up” (9:41). He takes Tabitha’s hand, helps her to her feet and presents her to them alive (9:41).
Commentators point out the considerable similarity of this account and the raising of Jairus’ daughter by Jesus (Mark 5:21-24; Luke 8:49-56). Some of the similarities include:

  1. the use of messengers to call the person who will raise the dead person,
  2. the milling about of crying bystanders,
  3. the excluding of outsiders from the room,
  4. the call to the dead person to rise,
  5. the taking of the revived individual by the hand.

The most striking similarity is that both Jesus and Peter issued a command for the dead person to rise, a short sentence in each case. Jesus had said, “Talitha…get up!” (Mark 5:41), whereas Peter cried: “Tabitha, get up” (9:40).
As he had seen Jesus do in the case of Jairus’s daughter, he ordered the mourners out of the room and prayed. Then he spoke these words: “Tabitha, get up” (which in its Aramaic form Tabitha kumi would have differed in only one letter from Jesus’ command Talitha kumi [“Little girl, get up”]). (Richard N. Longenecker, “Acts,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 9, page 382)

The parallel between Mark’s account of the raising of Jairus’ daughter and Peter’s raising of Tabitha is striking. Interestingly, Luke uses a different construction for Christ’s command (Luke 8:54), one that didn’t closely parallel his phrasing of Peter’s command to Tabitha. This may indicate that Luke was not conscious of the correlation. Yet, it was there nonetheless.

Both the raising of Tabitha and the healing of Aeneas mirror similar miraculous works performed by Jesus (Luke 5:17-26; 7:11-16). The accounts in Acts 9 also remind us of the power to heal and to raise the dead exhibited by Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:32:37). Taken together, these biblical accounts show God as one who continues to work through his servants — be they prophets or apostles or his own Son — to show his saving power. God brings his power to bear on behalf of the less-advantaged people of the world. Among those whom he liberates from death and sickness are widows like Dorcas and the poor and disenfranchised who have no one on whom they can rely.

Almost as a footnote, Luke mentioned that in Joppa Peter stayed “for some time with a tanner named Simon” (9:43). This is informative because the rabbis considered tanning an unclean trade (Mishnah, Ketubot 7.10). The reason is that a tanner’s work required regular contact with the skins of dead animals. This suggests that Peter was not overly scrupulous in observing some of the Jewish ceremonial traditions. Yet, he professed to be quite careful not to eat meats considered ceremonially unclean (10:4).

The fact that Peter already seems to have an open mind regarding Jewish beliefs and practices prepares us for what will come shortly. He will be tested in the next chapter on matters “clean and unclean,” but from a much broader perspective. Luke thus shows his attention to detail and to giving accurate information even on what might seem to be unimportant matters.

Items for Discussion

  • To us in today’s modern society, death seems so permanent and painful. How do you personally relate to the stories in Scripture of people who have died but later are raised from the dead?
  • In the text above, similarities are pointed out between stories of Peter and Jesus raising someone from the dead. What do you find interesting about those similarities?
  • Do stories like these in Scripture make it easier or harder for people to believe in God and Christ?
  • What would you tell a skeptic about someone being raised from the dead?
  • Why do you think that Luke would add verse 43?
  • What was the role of the early believers in this story?

Discussion Challenge

  • How do you teach the very essence of faith to others?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. Matthew Henry’s Commentary
Share