Proverbs 25:1 says “These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.” In the timeline of Israel’s history, we sit at the point when Hezekiah was king of Judah.
We read in 2 Kings 18 how Hezekiah did a lot to lead Israel away from idol worship and back to God. Interestingly, we tells how Hezekiah “broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it.” (2 Kings 18:4) This was the bronze snake that God instructed Moses to make so the Israelites could look at it when they were bitten by snakes in the desert wandering (as part of God’s judgment on them – read about it in Numbers 21:4-9.
Hezekiah cleansed the temple that his father Ahaz had desecrated and restored many of the neglected worship practices in Israel (2 Chronicles 29-31). In conjunction with this, he collected and organized proverbs and psalms to be used in worship, so this week and next week we will complete the reading of the books of Psalms and Proverbs.
In a previous post regarding the Psalms, I mentioned that many of the Psalms are attributed to David or the men he assigned as worship leaders in his day. The Psalms presented here in the context of Hezekiah’s restoration of worship practices are those which are undated or attributed to events or people after David’s time.
Similar to what I did in the post mentioned in the previous paragraph, I’ve collected the editors descriptive headings from the Psalms we read this week. They are:
42 Why are you cast down, O my soul
43 Send out your light and your truth
44 Come to our help
45 Your throne, O God, is Forever
46 God is our fortress
47 God is king over all the earth
48 Zion, the city of our God
49 Why should I fear in times of trouble
84 My soul longs for the court of the Lord
85 Revive us again
87 Glorious things of you are spoken
1 The Way of the righteous and the wicked
2 The reign of the Lord’s anointed
10 Why do you hide yourself
33 The steadfast of the Lord
71 Forsake me not when my strength is spent
91 My refuge and my fortress
92 How great are your works
93 The Lord reigns
94 The Lord will not forsake his people
95 Let us sing songs of praise
96 Worship in the splendor of holiness
97 The Lord reigns
98 Make a joyful noise to the Lord
99 The Lord our God is holy
100 His steadfast love endures forever
102 Do not hide your face from me
104 O Lord my God, you are very great
There is a variety of topics included in these Psalms but I’d like to focus on just the two that open the book – Psalms 1 and 2 (text copied below).
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.
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
These two Psalms set a very important tone for the rest of this book of worship songs. Psalm 1 effectively contrasts the righteous and the wicked, delineating them by their response to the word of God. The word of God is the means by which the righteous will be able to stand (e.g. survive) God’s judgment. The wicked revile God’s word, while the righteous take delight in it.
Psalm 2 expands this thought by identifying how the wicked set themselves against God. God, in response, indicates that he will initiate His judgment through his Son, who will ultimately rule over all nations. God’s judgment will be unleashed based on the response of the nations to his Son.
In summary, these two passages clearly set forth the essentials of the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ. All people will be judged according to their wickedness. Wickedness is defined by God’s word (e.g. the Law = the 10 commandments, which ALL of us are guilty of breaking). The judgment that ensues, though, is based not on the law, but on our response to God’s Son. Revile him, and be judged, or take refuge in him and be saved (blessed)!