We are going to begin a conceptual study in the Book of Psalms, called “Tehillim” in Hebrew. These are also called “hymns” and “praises” (Matt 26.30). This collection of songs was inspired by the Ruach Ha Kodesh, with several authors that we will point out along the way. David wrote the greater number and the rest were written by the name it bears in the heading. There are several psalms where the author is unknown.
Another word for “song” is “Zemer” and it is related to the word “Zomer” meaning “to prune.” The teaching is, bad habits must be pruned away, and music, song and singing helps do that.
One should also read the Psalms as a book about spiritual warfare because this is when you learn to fight like many of the authors did, so we must understand the context and setting. The Psalms will teach about the Messiah and the Redemption, so they are very eschatological (Luke 24.44). We will point out those eschatological verses when we come to them and you will be amazed at just how prophetic they are.
There are 150 psalms divided up into five books. Book 1 goes from Psalm 1 to Psalm 41; Book 2 goes from Psalm 42 to Psalm 72; Book 3 covers Psalm 73 to Psa 89; Book 4 goes from Psalm 90 to Psalm 106 and Book 5 covers Psalm 107 to Psalm 150.
These five books of the Psalms also correspond to the five books of the Torah. Book 1 alludes to Bereshit (Genesis); Book 2 alludes to Shemot (Exodus); Book 3 is the chiastic center of the Torah and alludes to Vayikra (Leviticus); Book 4 alludes to B’Midbar (Numbers) and Book 5 alludes to Devarim (Deuteronomy).
We will find out that certain psalms were used for certain times. For instance, the Hallel (Psa 113-118) was read five times a year and sung in the Temple. There were certain psalms that were read on certain days of the week and also sung in the Temple by the Levites. Psalm 24 was read on the first day of the week (Sunday); Psalm 48 was read on the second day (Monday); Psalm 82 was read on the third day (Tuesday); Psalm 94 was read for the fourth day (Wednesday); Psalm 81 was read on the fifth day (Thursday); Psalm 83 was read on the sixth day of the week (Friday) and Psalm 92 was read on the seventh day Sabbath. The Levites stood on a platform called the Duchan which had several steps. You never turned your back to the Holy of Holies because it was seen a disrespect to the King of Kings, but the Levites sang with their backs to it. This is because they were not singing to God, but God was singing through the Levites to the people. He was speaking to the people through the particular psalm being read. We will show you an incident where this played a role in history, two thousand years apart.
We also have what is called the “Psalms of Ascent” and they are comprised of Psalms 120 to 134. They are also called the “Pilgrim Songs” because they were sung as the worshipers went up to Jerusalem, especially for the “Shelosh Regalim” or the “Three Foot Festivals” mentioned in Exo 23.14-17. Again, we will not be going verse by verse at first through the Psalms but we will be bringing out certain concepts that will add to our understanding. Eventually (about Psa 116) we will take a Psalm and go verse by verse because we will want to get into more detail. Another concept to bring out here is when Elohim (God) is used in the text, it will relate to judgment. When Yehovah (the Lord) is used in the text, it alludes to mercy. So, with that said, let’s get into the text.
Psa 1.1-6 tells us about the walk of the Tzadik (Righteous) and the walk of the Rashim (Wicked). This psalm is without a title and many scholars believe it was written by David. The Tzadik does not walk (halak), stand or sit in the counsel, way, or seat of the scoffers. If they did, they would reduce themselves to their level. But the Tzadik delights in the Torah of Yehovah and meditates (chews the cud, speaks out loud) in it day and night.
The Tzadik/righteous will be like a tree planted by the streams of water (irrigation canals). Certain trees in the Scriptures will symbolize believers (Isa 61.3; Jer 17.8; Psa 92.12). It will yield its fruit in due season (mature-2 Tim 4.2; Isa 4.2; Mark 7.1-2; Jer 17.8). Its leaf (ordinary conversation has value that protects the fruit-Ezek 47.12) does not wither and he prospers.
On the other hand, the Rasha (wicked) are just the opposite. They are like chaff (useless and don’t produce fruit-Jer 17.6). They will not stand (survive) in the judgment, nor sinners (Chataim, average people) in the assembly (Adat=congregation as in Matt 16.13-26; Ezek 13.8-9) of the tzaddikim. Yehovah knows (approves, nurtures) the way (derech,) of the tzaddikim (righteous), but the way (derech) of the wicked (rashim) will perish because of the seeds of their own erosion and destruction come about without any help from God (Ezek 6.11-14).
Psa 2.1-12 is called an “Enthronement Psalm” and it goes with Psa 24, 45, 47, 48 and 110, 1 Kings 1.30-39,, 2 Kings 11 and Rev 4-5 which either talk about or allude to the coronation of the Messiah (Yeshua). In this psalm, the nations rebel against Yehovah, his Messiah and the Torah. Now, there are five aspects to the coronation of a Jewish king. They are the Investiture with insignia, the Anointing, The Acclamation, the Enthronement and the Homage.
The king will come before the people and oil was poured over his head, symbolizing the anointing of the Ruach Ha Kodesh and he has been empowered to rule as king. That is why a king is referred to as the “anointed of Yehovah.” The word “Mashiach” or Messiah means “anointed one.” However, each king was not “the” Messiah and was seen as paving the way for “”the” Messiah in the future
Psa 2.1-3 tells us that the nations (goyim) rebel against Yehovah and the leaders meditate (hagah) in vain, sitting together against Yehovah and against his “anointed” (Mashiach or Messiah). They want to “tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us.” This is referring to the Torah commands, and like Nimrod, they are “against” the Lord and his Torah. The mitzvot (commandments) and the teachings (fetters and cords) are torn off because they do not want to be bound to the Torah. They believe they are “free from the Law (Torah)” and have become lawless (“anomos” in Greek meaning “without Torah, Torah-less”).
But Psa 2.4-6 says the Lord laughs at them from heaven (he is enthroned there). God is not trying to conquer the nations, he already owns the earth. It is the nations who are in conflict with him. He will hold them in derision and confuse, frustrate and agitate them. He may “laugh” in heaven but that doesn’t mean he isn’t doing anything. He will speak to those in conflict with him, warning them. He wants man to know that he has installed a king in Israel, upon “Zion, my holy mountain” and that is why this is an Enthronement psalm.
In Psalm 2.7 the Messiah speaks and he will teach the Torah (“Hoq” in Hebrew meaning the decrees). Yeshua says, “He (the Father) said to me, ‘Thou art my son, today, I have begotten you.'” Jewish kings were seen as adopted sons of God (1 Chr 28.5-7; John 1.49; Matt 16.16) so there must be a king when the Kingdom of God returns (Matt 3.1; 16.18; Luke 2.1, 3.22, 3.38). The word “begotten” means that Yeshua was not created, he was the creator (Col 1.16-17). This word relates to two beings of the same nature. We “create” a picture but we “beget” children.
Psa 2.8-9 says Yehovah has given his Messiah “the nations as an inheritance” (Dan 7.13-14; Rev 5.1-14). He will rule over them and break them with a “rod of iron” which is a name for the Torah. It is either a blessing to the believer or a curse to the unbeliever, and is seen as a “sword” (Rev 2.27; Isa 2.2-4; Heb 4.12). He will shatter their plans and utterly break them like an earthenware vessel. So, let’s look at what an earthenware vessel means.
Jer 19.1-15 gives us some concepts on this phrase and there is an allusion to what Yeshua did in his ministry. This chapter is also related to Jer 7.31-34, so we will pick up concepts from both Jer 19 and Jer 7.
Jer 19 tells us about how Yehovah tells Jeremiah to take an earthenware vessel, and take some elders and senior priests with him, and go to the Valley of Ben-hinnom. This is where the Potsherd Gate was at the southern end of the city, overlooking the Valley of Hinnom and where it connects to the Kidron Valley. This area is also called the Tophet (place of fire). Potters had their houses outside the city due to the fires and smoke. Winds would blow the smoke east, away from the city and this area is where innocent blood was shed because the people burned their children in fire to Baal and Moloch. That is why this area will not be known as “Tophet” or the “Valley of Ben-hinnom” but the Valley of Slaughter (Jer 19.6). God was going to make the city of Jerusalem a desolation and terrible things were going to happen (v 7-9).
Then Jeremiah was to break the earthenware jar in the sight of all the men who came with him. Jeremiah went to the Azarah (court) of the Temple after he prophesied and prophesied that Yehovah was going to bring on the city “the entire calamity” that he has declared. Jer 7.31-34 basically says the same thing.
Now, these verses are very prophetic. Jeremiah prophesied near Tophet and this is the area where the Royal Stoa would be eventually in Herod’s Temple at the time of Yeshua. This is where he overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple complex. Jeremiah also prophesied about a coming siege to Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Yeshua also prophesied about a coming siege by the Romans on Jerusalem. In addition, this will also happen again during the Birth-pains.
The Feast of Leviathan is also alluded to in Jer 19.7 where Yehovah will “give their carcasses as food for the bird of the sky and the beast of the earth.” This will happen in the Roman siege and will also happen in the Birth-pains. Zech 12 through 14 describes a siege of Jerusalem in the latter days (“in that day”-Zech 12.3). The False Messiah will be driven back to Jerusalem and then he will be captured and killed by Yeshua after he returns to the city (Matt 24.29-31; Rev 19.20-21).
Then we will have what is called the “Warrior Judgment” described in Matt 25.31-46. Unbelievers who have survived the birth-pains will be gathered to Jerusalem first for this judgment and Yeshua judges them and they are killed. Then the righteous who have survived the birth-pains will be gathered and judged, and they enter the kingdom alive (Matt 13.24-30). The dead bodies of the Rashim (wicked) and the Chata’im (sinners) will be taken to the Tophet (the Valley of Slaughter-Jer 19.6) just south of Jerusalem where their will become food for the birds and the beasts (Jer 19.7; Luke 17.33; Matt 13.40-41, 24.28; Rev 19.17-18, 21; Ezek 29.2-7, 32.2-8). All of this is alluded to in the Remez level of interpretation in Psa 2.9.
Psa 2.9-12 tells the kings of the earth to show discernment (think about it) and “Do homage to the Son” or King Messiah (1 Chr 28.5-7). This is the fifth step in the coronation of a Jewish king previously mentioned. God’s wrath could be kindled and how blessed is the person who takes refuge in Yehovah and his Messiah.
In the book “Rosh Ha Shanah and the Mesianic Kingdom to Come” by Joseph Good, p. 134-135, Good says that Psa 2.12 is a controversial verse. It can be translated several ways, and a Jewish published Bible and a non-Jewish published Bible will differ. For instance, in the Mesorah Publications commentary called “Tehillim” (Psalms), p. 71, it says about Psa 2.12, “Yearn for purity lest he grow wrathful and your way be doomed, for a brief moment his anger will blaze.” In a KJV Bible it says, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry” and it goes on. In the NASB it says, “Do homage to the Son, lest he become angry” and it goes on.
In the Jewish Midrashim (interpretations), the way it is written in most non-Jewish Bibles does not damage or “destroy” the ancient meaning of the verse. Good then quotes a midrash from “The Midrash on Psalms” that says, “In another comment the verse is read, ‘Do homage to the Son’ (Psa 2.12). What parable fits here? That of a king who became angry at the inhabitants of a certain city, and the inhabitants of the city went and pleaded with the king’s son to mollify the king. So he went and mollified his father. After the king was mollified by his son, the inhabitants of the city were about to sing a song of homage to the king. But the king said to them: ‘Is it to me that ye would sing a song of homage? Go and sing a song of homage to my son. Had it not been for him, I would long ago have destroyed the inhabitants of this city.’ Likewise, when the people of the earth will be told, ‘O clap your hands, all you peoples; shout unto God with the voice of triumph (Psa 47.2)’ and it will be about to sing a song of homage to the Holy One, blessed be he, he will say: ‘Is it to me that you would sing a song of homage? Go and sing it to Israel. Had it not been for them, the earth would not have endured for a single hour, for it is said, if I whet my glittering sword, and my hand take hold on judgment…I will make my arrows drunk with blood…sing aloud, O ye nations to his people (Deut 32.41-43).'” So, to “kiss” or “do homage” to the Son in verse 12 is consistent with the ancient writings.
We will pick up here with Psalm 3 next time.