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Psalm 146 1
1 Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. 2 I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. 4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. 5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, 6 the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—the LORD, who remains faithful forever. 7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, 8 the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. 9 The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 10 The LORD reins forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD.

clip_image067Background

The last 5 psalms are called the The Hallelujah Psalms. This is because they all start and end with the Hebrew word “Halelujah”. The Jews spoke the Hebrew language and wrote their psalms in Hebrew. “Halel” means “praise”, or “tell someone that they are very great”. The “u” means “you” … all of you! “Jah” is one of God’s names. Most Bibles translate it LORD with 4 capital letters. It has a meaning and a use. The meaning may be that he will always be alive. The use is as a covenant name. A covenant is when two people (or groups of people) agree. Here, God agrees to love and give help to his people. And his people agree to love and obey him. Bible translators do not often translate the word “halelujah” into another language. Usually we spell it “hallelujah”, but the Hebrew word is “halelujah”.

We do not know who wrote Psalms 146-150. And we do not know when they wrote them. Most Bible students think that the psalmist wrote them for the new temple in Jerusalem. The psalmist was the person that wrote the psalms. For half of the psalms David was the psalmist. But there were many other psalmists, most of them after David died. Some Bible students think that maybe Ezra or Nehemiah was the psalmist for Psalms 146-150. The temple was God’s house in Jerusalem. Enemies destroyed it 600 years before Jesus came to the earth. But 70 years after the army of Babylon destroyed it, the Jews built it again. They made the Book of Psalms at this time to use in their new temple.

Biblical Truths 2

Verses 1-2. Many Bibles translate “myself” as “soul”. The soul is the part of us that lives when our bodies die. We say “praises” when we praise someone, (or tell them that they are very great).

Verses 3-4 tell us not to trust in human leaders. “Trust (in) someone” means “believe that someone will do as they have promised”. In the psalmist’s time, “leaders” meant kings and rulers. For us it means everyone with authority. Many leaders do what they have promised. But some do not. But none of them can give us help after we die. Only God can do that. That is why we must trust only in God. In verse 3, the psalmist maybe thought “save” meant “give help while we are alive”. Now, for Christians, it means “give help after we die”. It means that God will save us so that our souls will not die.

Verses 5-6 The God of Jacob may mean the God of the people of Israel; but it may mean just the God of the man Jacob. But that God is the LORD. He gives help to people that ask him for it.

Verses 7-9. Oppressed people are people that stronger people are not kind to. The stronger people make the weaker people work for them. They do not pay them much money for the work. Also, the oppressed people are not free to do what they want to do. So, they are often hungry. And they feel that life is like being in a prison. A blind person cannot see. But God will help people like this, if they ask him. In verse 8, the word “righteous” here means God’s people. The word “righteous” itself means “very, very good”. Only God is really righteous. But he says his own people are righteous too. He makes them righteous because he is with them. In verse 9, “protects strangers” means “does not let anyone hurt strangers”. These strangers were people from foreign countries. They lived in the country round Jerusalem. Today we would call them aliens or perhaps refugees. God also protects children that have no fathers. And he protects widows (women whose husbands have died). God does not protect, or send help, to wicked people.

Verse 10. The LORD will always be king! Again, for Christians this means something else than it does for the psalmist. Jesus is the Lord who will always be king. Zion could be a name for his new people, the Church. Jesus will come back to the earth as king, one day. Then everybody will see that this psalm is true.

Items for Discussion

  • Who are the oppressed people of today? (In the U.S., in the world)
  • What is the connection between the gifts of our God and the believer’s behavior?
  • This psalm states that the Lord sets prisoners free—does the Lord love any prisoner enough to just set them all free? If so, do we have the right to put someone in prison?
  • How is it that the world places their trust in mortal men?
  • How is it that the Church places their trust in mortal men?
  • What does this psalm say about the fairness of our God?
  • What hope do you receive when you hear this psalm?

 

Acts 10:34-43
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Background 3

In chapter 6 we saw how the first Greek speaking Christian congregation was formed. But these were all Jews. The men were circumcised, and they kept the kosher food laws and the Old Testament rituals. Now Luke is interested in the next step of the Messiah’s plan for building his church (Matthew 16:18). Peter had to be persuaded to baptize an enemy Roman Centurion (Army Captain) and his family to form a congregation of foreigners who were not Jews, and had no idea of what kosher food might be.

This would be unthinkable for Peter who said “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean” (10:14). Three times the vision to “kill and eat” had to be repeated” (10:13-16). And finally it dawned on Peter that “God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (10:34-35).

By the end of the chapter the principle was established that Gentiles could be formed into a congregation of the Holy Spirit without submitting to the Jewish rite of circumcision and other rules from the law of Moses. This was essential if Paul was to go out and plant churches all over the Mediterranean. And without this momentous change a world-wide Christian church among all nations would have been impossible. There would still be the problem of how Jewish Christians could have table fellowship in one church with Greeks who lived by such a totally different set of rules. But this would be settled in the Council of Jerusalem which Luke will describe in chapter 15.

Biblical Truths 4

Intentionally left in the original translation of Barnes Notes

Verse 34. Then Peter opened his mouth. Began to speak, Matthew 5:2.

Of a truth. Truly; evidently. That is, I have evidence here that God is no respecter of persons.

Is no respecter of persons. The word used here denotes the act of showing favor to one on account of rank, family, wealth, or partiality, arising from any cause. It is explained in James 2:1-4. A judge is a respecter of persons when he favors one of the parties on account of private friendship; or because he is a man of rank, influence, or power; or because he belongs to the same political party, etc. The Jews supposed that they were peculiarly favored by God, and that salvation was not extended to other nations, and that the fact of being a Jew entitled them to this favor. Peter here says that he has learned the error of this doctrine. That a man is not to be accepted because he is a Jew, nor is he to be excluded because he is a Gentile. The barrier is broken down, the offer is made to all, and God will save all on the same principle–not by external privileges, or rank, but according to their character. The same doctrine is elsewhere explicitly stated in the New Testament, Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25.

Verse 35. But in every nation, etc. This is given as a reason for what Peter had just said, that God was no respecter of persons. The sense is that he now perceived that the favors of God were not confined to the Jew, but might be extended to all others on the same principle. The remarkable circumstances here, the vision to him, and to Cornelius, and the declaration that the alms of Cornelius were accepted, now convinced Peter that the favors of God were no longer to be confined to the Jewish people, but might be extended to all. This was what the vision was designed to teach; and to communicate this to the apostles was an important step in their work of spreading the gospel.

In every nation. Among all people; Jews or Gentiles. Acceptance with God does not depend on the fact of being descended from Abraham, or of possessing external privileges, but on the state of the heart.

He that feareth him. This is put for piety towards God in general. It means, that he that honors God and keeps his law–that is a true worshipper of God, according to the light and privileges which he has–is approved by him, as giving evidence that he is his friend.

And worketh righteousness. Does that which is right and just. This refers to his conduct towards man. He that discharges conscientiously his duty to his fellow-men, and evinces by his conduct that he is a righteous man. These two things comprehend the whole of religion, the sum of all the requirements of God–piety towards God, and justice towards an men; and as Cornelius had showed these, he showed that, though a Gentile, he was actuated by true piety. We may observe here,

(1.) that it is not said that Cornelius was accepted on account of his good works. Those works were simply an evidence of true piety in the heart; a proof that he feared and loved God, and not a meritorious ground of acceptance.

(2.) He improved the light which he had.

(3.) He embraced the Saviour when he was offered to him. This circumstance makes an essential difference between the case of Cornelius, and those who depend on their morality in Christian lands. They do not embrace the Lord Jesus, and they are, therefore, totally unlike the Roman centurion. His example should not be pleaded, therefore, by those who neglect the Saviour, for it furnishes no evidence that they will be accepted, when they are totally unlike him.

Verse 36. The word. That is, this is the word, or the doctrine. Few passages in the New Testament have perplexed critics more than this. It has been difficult to ascertain to what the term “word” in the accusative case (\~ton logon\~) here refers. Our translation would lead us to suppose that it is synonymous with what is said in the following verse. But it should be remarked, that the term used there, and translated “word,” as if it were a repetition of what is said here, is a different term. It is not \~logon\~, but \~rhma\~ a word, a thing; not a doctrine. I understand the first term “word” to be an introduction of the doctrine which Peter set forth, and to be governed by a preposition understood. The whole passage may be thus expressed: Peter had been asked to teach Cornelius and his assembled friends. It was expected, of course, that he would instruct him in regard to the true doctrines of religion–the doctrine which had been communicated to the Jews. He commences, therefore, with a statement respecting the true doctrine of the Messiah, or the way of salvation which was now made known to the Jews. “In regard to the “word,” or the doctrine which God sent to the children of Israel, proclaiming peace through Jesus Christ, (who is Lord of all,) you know already that which was done, or the transactions which occurred throughout all Judea, from Galilee, where he commenced after John had preached, that this was by Jesus Christ, since God had anointed him,” etc. Peter here assumes that Cornelius had some knowledge of the principal events of the life of the Saviour, though it was obscure and imperfect; and his discourse professes only to state this more fully and clearly. He commences his discourse with stating the true doctrine on the subject, and explaining more perfectly that of which Cornelius had been only imperfectly informed.

Unto the children of Israel. To the Jews. The Messiah was promised to them, and spent his life among them.

Preaching. That is, proclaiming or announcing. God did this by Jesus Christ.

Peace. This word sometimes refers to the peace or union which was made between Jews and Gentiles, by breaking down the wall of division between them. But it is here used in a wider sense, to denote peace or reconciliation with God. He announced the way by which man might be reconciled to God, and might find peace.

He is Lord of all. That is, Jesus Christ. He is Sovereign, or Ruler, of both Jews and Gentiles; he is their Proprietor; and hence Peter saw the propriety of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles as well as Jews. See John 17:2; Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:20-22. This does not necessarily imply divinity; but only that the Lord Jesus, as Mediator, had been constituted or appointed Lord over all nations. It is true, however, that this is a power which we cannot conceive to have been delegated to one that was not divine.

Verse 37. That word. Greek, \~rhma\~–a different word from that in the previous verse. It may be translated thing, as well as word.

Which was published. Greek, Which was done. “You know, though it may be imperfectly, what was done or accomplished in Judea,” etc.

Throughout all Judea. The miracles of Christ were not confined to any place, but were wrought in every part of the land. For an account of the divisions of Palestine.

And began, etc. Greek, Having been begun in Galilee. Galilee was not far from Caesarea. There was, therefore, the more probability that Cornelius had heard of what had occurred there, indeed, the Gospels themselves furnish the highest evidence that the fame of the miracles of Christ spread into all the surrounding regions.

Verse 38. How God anointed, etc. That is, set him apart to this work, and was with him, acknowledging him as the Messiah. See Barnes “Matthew 1:1”.

With the Holy Ghost. See Barnes “Luke 4:19”. The act of anointing the kings and priests seems to have been emblematic of the influences of the Holy Ghost. Here it means, that God communicated to him the influences of the Holy Spirit, thus setting him apart for the work of the Messiah. See Matthew 3:16,17; John 3:34: “God gives not the Spirit by measure unto him.”

And with power. The power of healing the sick, raising the dead, etc.

Who went about doing good. Whose main business it was to travel from place to place to do good. He did not go for applause, or wealth, or comfort, or ease, but to diffuse happiness as far as possible. This is the simple but sublime record of his life. This, in few, but most affecting words, tells us all about the Savior. It gives us a distinct portrait of his character, as he is distinguished from conquerors and kings, and false prophets, and the mass of men.

And healing, etc. Restoring to health.

All that were oppressed of the devil. All that were possessed by him. See Barnes “Matthew 4:23,24”.

God was with him. God appointed him, and furnished by his miracles the highest evidence that he had sent him. His miracles were such that they could be wrought only by God.

Verse 39. And we are witnesses. We who are apostles.

In the land of the Jews. In the country of Judea.

Whom they slew, etc. Our translation would seem to imply that there were two separate acts–first slaying him, and then suspending him. But this is neither according to truth nor to the Greek text. The original is simply, “whom they put to death, suspending him on a tree.”

On a tree. On a cross.

Verse 40. Shewed him openly. Manifestly; so that there could be no deception, no doubt of his resurrection.

Verse 41. Not to all the people. Not to the nation at large; for this was not necessary in order to establish the truth of his resurrection. He, however, showed himself to many persons. See the Harmony of the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus, at the close of the Notes on Matthew.

Chosen of God. Appointed by God, or set apart by his authority through Jesus Christ.

Who did eat and drink, etc. And by doing this he furnished the clearest possible proof that he was truly risen; and that they were not deceived by an illusion of the imagination, or by a phantasm. Compare Verse 42. And he commanded us, etc. Matthew 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16.

And to testify. To bear witness.

That it is he, See Barnes “John 5:22-27”. Compare the references in the margin.

Of quick. The living. The doctrine of the New Testament is, that those who are alive when the Lord Jesus shall return to judge the world, shall be caught up in vast numbers like clouds, to meet him in the air, without seeing death, 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17. Yet before this, they shall experience such a change in their bodies as shall fit them for the judgment and for their eternal residence–a change which shall liken them to those who have died, and have been raised from the dead. What this change will be, speculation may fancy, but the Bible has not revealed. See 1 Corinthians 15:52: “The dead shall be raised, and we shall be changed.”

Verse 43. To him give, etc.

That through his name, etc. This was implied in what the prophets said. See Romans 10:11. It was not, indeed, expressly affirmed that they who believed in him should be pardoned; but this was implied in what they said. They promised a Messiah; and their religion consisted mainly in believing in a Messiah to come. See the reasoning of the apostle Paul in Romans 4.

Items for Discussion

  • Who does God accept, according to Peter?
  • What is the significance that Peter tells this version of the story of Jesus in light of concerns Cornelius may have had?
  • Why would one receive remission of sins in his name for belief (loyalty to his name)?
  • What is it to fear God and work righteousness?
  • Why does Peter draw this connection to working righteousness and believing in Jesus?
  • What significance does that have for us?
  • What happens if one forgets Jesus and tries to work righteousness? What happens when one forgets to work righteousness and tried to believe in Jesus?

Discussion Challenge

  • In light of this lesson, what should the message of the Church be today? (think about the sermon title, Impartiality)

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. http://www.easyenglish.info/psalms/psalm146-taw.htm
  3. From Wikipedia (repeated from September 3, 2006 Lesson)
  4. Commentary from Barnes’ Notes
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