A Transcript Of The Video Study
This is the thirtieth study in the series, and we are looking once more at the book of Psalms. In our previous study, I pointed out the book of Psalms has been divided into five sub-books, often called the Five Books of Psalms.
Book 1: Psalms 1-41 (1 hr, 5 min to read)
• Total 41: David (37); Anonymous (4)
Book 2: Psalms 42-72 (51 min to read)
• Total 31: David (18); Asaph (1); Korah (7); Solomon (1); Anonymous (4)
Book 3: Psalms 73-89 (36 min to read)
• Total 17: David (1); Asaph (11); Korah (3); Ethan (1); Heman (1)
Book 4: Psalms 90-106 (31 min to read)
• Total 17: David (2); Moses (1); Anonymous (14)
Book 5: Psalms 107-150 (1 hr, 10 min to read)
• Total 44: David (15); Solomon (1); Anonymous (28)
For this study, we are looking at the fourth book of Psalms, beginning with Psalm 90 and ending with Psalm 106. It takes 31 minutes to read in a single sitting. This is a total of seventeen Psalms, two of which are ascribed to David, one to Moses and fourteen are anonymous.
In preparation for your reading of this fourth book, I would like to say three things about it.
First, the New Testament quotations.
Of the seventeen Psalms, the New Testament writers quote from eight of them.
Psalm 90—Psalm 90:1 (Matthew 22:44)
Psalm 91—Psalm 91:11,12 (Matthew 4:6)
Psalm 94—Psalm 94:11 (1 Corinthians 3:20)
Psalm 95—Psalm 95:7 (Hebrews 3:7)
Psalm 97—Psalm 97:7 (Hebrews 1:6)
Psalm 98—Psalm 98:22 (Matthew 21:42)
Psalm 102—Psalm 102:25 (Hebrews 1:10)
Psalm 104—Psalm 104:4 (Hebrews 1:7)
As I have pointed out in the previous studies, the book of Psalms is a gospel book, which is why the New Testament writers quote from it so frequently. The gospel of the New Testament is the gospel of the Old Testament. There is one gospel, and both Testaments proclaim it. My dear friends, I cannot say it enough times—if the book of Psalms is to yield spiritual benefit to us, then we must read it within the context of the gospel of Christ.
Second, the characters mentioned.
There are eleven names recorded in the inspired text of the fourth book. Seven of them belong to God’s elect people—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and Phinehas; the other two belong to the non-elect—Dathan and Abiram.
Aside from the names recorded in the inspired text, there are two names mentioned in the inscriptions. Both belong to God’s elect people—Moses and David.
These are the characters mentioned in the fourth book of Psalms.
Third, the leading message.
As you should know by now, the leading message of the book of Psalms is the masterplan of God for the ages. The masterplan of God for the ages is the administration of His grace to the members of the human race. There is a common grace of God unto creation which extends to the elect and the non-elect alike; but then, there is the special grace of God unto salvation which is designed for and extended only to the elect. You see, grace is nothing other than the favor and good will of God, insomuch that when we speak of His grace, we are speaking of His favor and good will towards everything that He has made. It is in this sense that we may speak of the common grace of God unto creation. However, when we speak of God’s special grace unto salvation, we are referring to His favor and good will only towards those He has set apart as objects of His special love. I emphasize these points, because there are some who reject the whole notion of common grace, believing that God has absolutely no favor or good will towards anything or anyone other than His elect people. Whereas on the other hand, there are those who embrace the idea of common grace, believing that God has a favor and good will unto salvation towards the entire human race, including that of the non-elect. I believe both views are mistaken. Rather, the scriptures teach that God has a common grace which extends to all His creation, the nature of which includes all temporal blessings given to creatures to enjoy as they live on this earth. Whereas He has a special grace unto salvation which extends only to the elect, the nature of which includes all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. On this point, the whole of Psalm 104 bears witness, which of course, belongs to the seventeen Psalms of the fourth book. I wish to read the Psalm to you, and as I read it, please consider how the statements of the Psalm fit within the Framework of Sovereign Grace:
Psalm 104:1-35: “Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire: who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them. Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth. He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst. By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches. He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart. The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted; where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies. He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens. Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening. O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works. He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke. I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD. Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.”
If you compare the words of this Psalm with the Framework of Sovereign grace, then you will see how each statement is aligned with the masterplan of God for the ages, as He administers a common grace unto creation, which includes a favor and good will towards the entire human race. However, and to be clear, this common grace unto creation has absolutely nothing to do with the special grace of God unto salvation. You see, if we mix the common and special grace of God together, then a whole slew of false teachings arise, among which is the blasphemous doctrine of universal atonement or general redemption—a doctrine, by the way, which is held in one form or another by the Arminians, the Low-Calvinists and the Moderate-Calvinists.
Now, not only is the leading message of the book of Psalms the masterplan of God for the ages, that is, the administration of His grace to the members of the human race, but one particular part of His plan tends to receive more attention than the other parts— the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, especially as it relates to the rule of conduct for the believer’s life. The rule of conduct for the believer’s life is the Gospel Law, which is nothing other than the soul’s union with the Lord Jesus Christ, by virtue of which the life and graces of Christ flow into the soul. And this is the law, you see, which governed the lives of those who wrote the Psalms. They had been regenerated by the Spirit of God, and therefore their souls were in union with Christ, which is the basis upon which they experientially enjoyed a relationship with God.
I would like to give just one example on how the fourth book of Psalms emphasizes the Gospel Law as the believer’s rule of conduct.
We read in Psalm 103:8-13: ”The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.” What other meaning may be drawn from these words, than a soul in union with Christ? The Psalmist speaks as one who has been born again, having been brought to the realization that Jehovah is merciful, and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy. The Psalmist understands, based on the redeeming grace and justifying work of Christ, that He does not always chide, neither will He keep His anger forever. The Psalmist rejoices, for he knows the Lord does not deal with His redeemed people after their sins, nor does He reward them according to their iniquities. Ah, the Psalmist has tasted the Lord is gracious; the love of God has been shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Spirit; the peace of God, which passes all understanding, has been imparted to his soul through the Lord Jesus Christ; and as such, he knows in the experience of his own soul, that as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is God’s mercy in Christ towards them that fear Him—to those unto whom the fear or reverence of God flows into their souls by virtue of their union with Christ. He knows as the east is from the west, so far has the TriUne Jehovah removed his transgressions from him. And why does the Lord God do this great work of salvation in his soul? Because as a father pities his children, so Jehovah pities them that fear Him; or, Jehovah pities them into whose hearts He has imparted the fear or reverence of the Lord.
I hope you see, my dear friends, these words are yet another example of how the Psalms describe the rule of conduct for the believer’s life—namely, the soul’s union with Christ, and all His life and graces flowing into them. May it please the Lord to make the experience of the Gospel Law ours, and to enrich us in Christ with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places! I leave with you these thoughts. Until we meet again for our next study, may the Lord bless you!
Jared Smith served twenty years as pastor of a Strict and Particular Baptist church in Kensington (London, England). He now serves as an Evangelist in the Philippines, preaching the gospel, organizing churches and training gospel preachers.