One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. (Psalms 27:4)
One of the greatest pleasures I have as the pastor of this church is the time it affords me to do in-depth Bible study. Although I believe every Christian should take time to read and meditate on scripture, I know it is not possible for most of you to spend the kind of time it takes a pastor to study the word and prepare sermons. Since I do have the time, and you expect that I should use it, I am blessed to read and study the word along with the writings of many good men of God.
I have heard some preachers criticize the use of commentaries and other aids saying a man should get his instruction straight from the word and allow the Holy Spirit to speak directly to his heart. I would never deny such a method is excellent, but I also believe it would be foolish to reject the wisdom of good godly men who have also been spoken to by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you have never thought of it this way, but a good commentary acts as a preacher’s preacher. My sermons to you are commentary on scripture, so why should I be deprived of commentary on scripture?
My whole point here is to come to this—in reading commentaries, I often come across golden nuggets of thought that are a particular blessing to me. I was looking over the 27th Psalm when I read William MacDonald’s commentary and I was truly blessed by his treatment of the text. He took each verse and showed how the Lord Jesus may have thought on this Psalm in the hours before He was taken to the cross. I do not have space to rehearse the entire Psalm, but I can give you a few examples of how MacDonald handled the comparison to Christ.
In verse 1, the Psalmist said “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” MacDonald remarked that when the chief priests and the elders of the temple came to take Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, He said, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53). While He said this, Jesus consoled Himself with the words of the Psalm, ”The Lord is my light and my salvation.”
Verse 2 is interesting. In John 18:6, the scripture says when Jesus spoke to the men that came to arrest Him, they heard His voice and they went backward and fell to the ground. Compare this to “When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.”
The intention of Christ’s enemies was to take Him to trial, condemn Him, and then lift Him up between heaven and earth by nailing Him to a cross. MacDonald says as they planned to do this Jesus was anticipating another kind of lifting up. Notice verse 6 of the Psalm: “And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.”
When Jesus was arrested, great fear came on all the disciples and they forsook Him and fled. When all your friends forsake you and when no one is there to stand with you, on whom do you depend? Would Jesus think on the words of verses 9 and 10? “Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.”
This is just a small sampling of the commentary, but how blessed I was to find this little jewel in the hundreds of books in my library. Bible study is interesting, uplifting, exhilarating—and fun. I hope you delight in God’s word and use every opportunity to learn more about our great God and the salvation He provides in Jesus Christ.
Pastor V. Mark Smith