Thursday, June 3, 2010

Plowing Persecuters Don't Prevail. Praising People Do! - Psalm 129

"'Many times they have persecuted me
from my youth up,' let Israel now say,
'Many times they have persecuted me
from my youth
yet they have not prevailed against me.
The plowers plowed upon my back;
they lengthened their furrows.'
The LORD is righteous;
He has cut in two the cords of the wicked.
May all who hate Zion,
be put to shame and turned backward,
let them be like grass upon the housetops,
which withers before it grows up;
with which the reaper does not fill his hand,
or the binder of sheaves his bosom;
nor do those who pass by say,
'The blessing of the LORD be upon you;
we bless you in the name of the LORD.'"
(Psalm 129)

"The church of God has been often greatly distressed by its enemies on earth. God's people have always had many enemies, and the state of the church, from its infancy, has frequently been an afflicted state."

So begin Mr. Henry's comments on Psalm 129. This is a psalm about persecution. It is a psalm that speaks of the enemies of God's people, of their actions against Zion, and of God's actions against them!

You who are counted among the beloved Israel of God on this day, are you being hounded by the hoardes of hell? Are those who hate your Father pursuing you, His child? Take comfort in this psalm. There is much hope found in its contents and there is much hope found even in its context - for this psalm is a song of ascent as have been the 10 previous psalms. This psalm about the persecuting plows of the wicked is a psalm that the church of old sang on its way to worship. May we be moved to worship as we examine it - not matter who is striving to stop us!!

Here Israel is encouraged to speak as one man - this psalm is personal because their persecution (while corporate) has been personal. They have been trampled upon - each of them. They have been pursued - every one of them. They have been taken captive - all of them. It is not difficult for them to look at their circumstances and to speak personally - as one man. It is true, "many times they have persecuted ME from my youth up."

The psalmist tells us that "the plowers have plowed upon my back; they lengthened their furrows."

This is descriptive language, poetic language, picturesque language. Their enemies have sought their destruction through harsh and painful means. They have set upon them as a farmer would a field. They have put the plow to the body and soul of these folks and have sought to tear them asunder. If they could have their way they would rip Israel to pieces, limb by limb. They want to demorilize them. They want to demolish them. They want to decimate them!

Yes, things have been horrible and times have been tough. Doggone it, the hairy hoardes of hell have gone to bush hogging on their backs!!! "YET they have not prevailed against me." Why? Because "The LORD is righteous; He has cut in two the cords of the wicked."

Henry sums it all up well, very well:

"The enemies of God's people have all along used them barbarously. They tore them as the husbandman tears the ground with his ploughshare. When God permitted them to plough thus He intended it for His people's good, that, their fallow ground being thus broken up, He might sow the seeds of His grace upon them; even though the enemies meant it not so!"
The persecutors made their furrows deep and long. They were unrelenting in their pursuits. They cared not how it cut. They were unconcerned with how long it would last. They simply wanted to inflict pain and bring Israel to her knees. They were "aiming at the destruction of the church."


...but God!! (It seems a common theme in these psalms!)
"The church has always beeng graciously delivered by her Friend in heaven. The enemies' projects have always been defeated. Christ has built His church upon a rock, and the gates of hell have not prevailed against it, nor ever shall. God has cut asunder the cords of the wicked. He has cut their gears, their traces, and so spoiled their ploughing. He has cut their scourges, and so spoiled their lashing. He has cut the bands of captivity in which they held God's people." (Henry)
Oh friends, what persecutors pursue you this day? Are you currently ravished for righteousness? Take heart in your hurt for Israel's God is your God!! They shall not prevail against you and the very wounds they inflict will be used by our gracious God for your good. He will sow seeds of grace in the painfully plowed parts of persecution. From those rows He will grow you into a cedar of Lebanon - tall and strong and straight and prospering.

But the wicked are not so...

You will be as a tree firmly planted they will be as grass quickly fading!

Those who hate Zion will be brought to shame. They will be turned backwards. Their forward momentum will take a 180 and they will find their own plows to be pursing their own backs!! The wicked are sovereignly destined for destruction by the God whose beloved they have belittled!! God will not be mocked and His people will not be jostled without justice!

Turning one last time to Henry:

"As they are enemies to Zion they are so certainly marked for ruin that they may
be looked upon as the grass on the house-tops, which is little and short and sour and good for nothing. It withers before it grows up to any maturity, having no root; and the higher its place is - which perhaps is its pride - the more it is exposed to the scorching heat of the sun, and consequently the sooner does it wither."
Here's the summation of the psalm. God's people are often persecuted in this world. They are often mangled mercilessly. But...God... will not allow the enemies of His church to prevail. He will deal justly and right on time with our adversaries and He will take their very schemes of destruction and use them to grow us in greater grace!! Peace will not be upon them. Blessing will not rest among them. But it shall be with us - for the God of peace is for us!

Plowing persecuters don't prevail. Praising people do!!

In His glorious grace,


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