“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Psalm 1
The above Psalm speaks primarily of the blessed God-man, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, Who as He read and prayerfully meditated on these words, surely knew that it was speaking of Him in His perfectly obedient righteousness, knowing also that that perfection would be infallibly imputed to all those in whose place He came to suffer and die and to whom He would grant the gift of repentant faith leading to their perfect, unchanging justification before God and to everlasting life. It depicts the One outside of Whom there is no possibility of genuine, enduring hope. In the mysterious act of Spirit-effected regeneration, as He applies the divine law and gospel to our innermost being bringing us to ongoing repentance via the gift of genuine faith, Christ’s perfect righteousness, as summarized above, in reality becomes our inheritance and our sins become His, something which Luther called the Great Exchange. Because of that settled acceptance of our persons by God in Christ, we now strive, with growing humility and gratitude, toward the courageous, trusting perfection displayed by Christ in His short life on this earth as briefly summarized in Psalm 1. The wicked mentioned here includes all people ever conceived prior to the gift of divine regeneration, after which Christ’s righteousness is imputed to them, a gift which He sovereignly, freely, lovingly, wisely, and with divine precision bestows on those so chosen.
“Songs…” is a rich little book that introduces the largest `book’ of the Bible and then helpfully focuses on insightful teachings from the first eight Psalms, each chapter ending with review questions. Dr. Fesko’s goal is to call the church back to its rich, often forgotten heritage of the last ~ 3,000 years by incorporating these profound treasures in its personal and corporate worship. That particular history of worship appears to have started with their divinely inspired composition in King David’s time and has continued all the way through the New Testament apostolic / church era to the present day.
Fesko speaks of the importance of the Psalms in the life of the church, hoping to stimulate something deeply needed but widely lacking in contemporary worship, the plain, prayerful, reverential, worshipful singing of and teaching on the Psalms. He would like to “help awaken the church to the majesty, beauty, and splendor of the book of Psalms … (desiring that it would become) a regular staple in our personal spiritual diet, whether we read, pray, or sing them in public or private worship.” He also points to some practical aids for doing so.
Moving on, Fesko shows how Psalm 2 depicts the rage and enmity of nations as they are set in determined rebellion against God & His Anointed. That Psalm reveals a sweeping, Christological overview of human history and its inevitable climax, depicting rebellious, sinful man fully determined to be perfectly autonomous in unrestricted human `freedom’, saying in effect “We will not have this Man rule over us”. To which God, with something like sardonic mockery, perhaps saying something like, “You want it your way? Very well then, have it your way … forever. Enjoy.” Thus the saying, hell is getting what you think you want, insist on having, and are determined to get. And so, in endless horror for such, ends the dreadful delusion of wholly autonomous, self-directed, unrestricted human freedom.
Psalm 3 is a song of deliverance – David, again foreshadowing Christ, exiled and on the run from an attempted coup by his son Absalom, abandoned by the fearful and by those making political calculations to see which side they should be on, etc. But he trusts God for his vindication and salvation, a profound, courageous trust that Jesus illustrated every day of His earthly life. Jesus, more than David, lived a life of self-exile in this ugly, rebellious, sinful world enduring humiliation and suffering for our sake, not His, in coming from heaven to be surrounded by those who hate Him, reject Him, refuse to believe in Him, and were determined to kill him, even as they later mockingly insult Him on the cross, “He trusted in God; let God save him” Mt 27:43. But God, with masterful ease, outmaneuvered them all, turning their evil plots and deeds right back on their heads in the resurrection vindication of His promised King, Deliverer, and Judge.
Psalm 4 is an evening song. David as usual is surrounded by evil men aching to take him down as he once again foreshadows the life of his greater Heir. David irritates them by his solid confidence that God hears him when he calls to Him, unlike those worthless fellows to whom God refuses to pay any attention or provide any help – they’re pretty much on their own, with only judgment coming from above.
To get the full story on these and the other four Psalms, you’ll need to buy or get a copy of the book. Then you can enjoy Dr. Fesko’s solid, helpful, edifying insights on these and the other four Psalms in this sweet little book.
Highly recommended. “Songs of the Suffering King” was provided gratis by Reformation Heritage Publishers via Cross Focused Reviews solely in exchange for an objective review.