Genesis 1:2

The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Before I read anything the commentaries have to say about this verse, I looked up the definitions of three of the words on Bible Hub.

without form = waste, formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness, desolation

void = emptiness, an undistinguishable ruin

waters = almost always translated “water.” The word is also sometimes used to mean waste, primeval deep, or, figuratively, that which is violent or overwhelming

Two main interpretations have been advanced to explain the expression “without form and void.” The first, which may be called the Original Chaos interpretation, regards these words as a description of an original formless matter in the first state of the creation of the universe. The second, which may be called the Divine Judgment interpretation, sees in these words a description of the earth only, and that in a condition subsequent to its creation, not as it was originally. — Scofield, page 1)

For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other (Isaiah 45:18).

This (Isaiah 45:18) is one of the Scripture passages that suggest the Divine Judgment interpretation of Genesis 1:1-2. This interpretation views the earth as having been created perfect. After an indefinite period of time, possibly in connection with Satan’s sin of rebellion against the Most High (see Isaiah 14:12 and Ezekiel 28:12), judgment fell upon the earth and “it was [became] without form and void.” Another indefinite interval elapsed after which “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” in a re-creation of the earth. some of the arguments for this viewpoint are: (1) Only the earth, not the universe, is said to have been “without form and void.” (2) The word rendered “was” may also be translated “became,” as indicated above. (3) The Hebrew expression for “without form and void” is used to describe a condition produced by divine judgment in the only other two texts where the two words appear in conjunction (Isaiah 34:11; Jeremiah 4:23). (4) Such a prehistoric divine judgment would throw some light on Satan’s fall and the peculiar relation he seems to sustain to the earth. — Scofield, page 752.

Morris takes the opposite view. He sees verses 1 and 2 as part of the description of Day 1.

In initial creation was not perfect in the sense that it was complete, but it was perfect for that first stage of God’s six-day plan of creation. … When initially created, the earth had no inhabitants; it was “void.” The essential meaning, therefore, is: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth [or space and matter], and the matter so created was at first unformed and uninhabited.

The physical universe, though created, was as yet neither formed nor energized, and light is a form of energy. the absence of physical light means darkness, just as the absence of form and inhabitants means a universe in elemental form, not yet completed. No evil is implied in either case, merely incompleteness…. The picture presented is one of all the basic material elements sustained in a pervasive watery matrix throughout the darkness of space.

The term “face of the waters” is synonymous with “the face of the deep.” Again the word “face” means presence,” and the thought is that the formless waters, like the formless earth, were essentially a “presence” rather than a cohesive body. — Morris, page 50.

the Spirit of God = The Hebrew word for Spirit is also the word for “wind” and “breath.”

The “and,” according to Hebrew usage—as well as that of most other languages—proves that the first verse is not a compendium of what follows, but a statement of the first event in the record. For if it were a mere summary, the second verse would be the actual commencement of the history, and certainly would not begin with a copulative [ word connecting words or clauses linked in sense]…. We have, therefore, in the second verse of Genesis no first detail of a general statement in the preceding sentence, but the record of an altogether distinct and subsequent event, which did not affect the sidereal heaven, but only the earth and its immediate surroundings. — Pember, page 25.

Pember does believe that the gap probably contains, not only the fall of Satan, but the laying down of the earth’s strata, and possibly some pre-adamite beings. Again, I think the first, Satan’s fall, may have occurred then, but I do not believe the latter two.

The creation account picks up in 1:1 not with the very first act of creatio ex nihilo (“creation out of nothing,” for which one can refer to any number of other passages, such as Isaiah 44:24a; John 1:3; Hebrews 11:3), but rather at that point when, with the “raw materials” of creation already in place—i.e., darkness (space/black matter[?]), the sphere of the planet with its land and overlaying waters—and the angelic host standing ready to sin God’s praise (Job 38:4-7), He undertakes the first creative act that bears specifically on the good of man (hence the recurring assessment, “and He saw … that it was good”). It is precisely this reading of the first three verses, in fact, that has long been recognized by Jewish interpreters, following simply and naturally from the syntax of the Hebrew text, according to which verses 1-3 constitute one complex sentence, the first two verses being comprised of dependent clauses (i.e., setting up the “background” of the event) and verse 3 comprising the main or independent clause (i.e., describing the “event” itself). Precisely rendered, these three verses thus read: In the beginning of God’s creating the sky and the (dry) land—while the land was (still) uninhabitable and unproductive, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters—God said, “Let there be light.” and there was light. — Wechsler, pages 59-60.

As you can see, Bible scholars land in several very different places regarding these opening verses. All of them are very convinced that they are right. Morris, Taylor, and to some extent, Wechsler disregard the Gap Theory mainly to refute those who cram evolution into it. But that’s biased interpretation. I have long disagreed with those who try to hold hands with modern “science,” but I’ve suspected there was a gap.

Wechsler’s view that the Bible gives us the account of creation from the sole viewpoint of what God did for humanity is interesting, and one I haven’t heard before.

I am not convinced that that my surmise, recorded in the previous post, is right. But I still need to account for the fall of Satan, and I’m still reluctant to believe that it happened between the six days of creation and the fall of man. I could be wrong.

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Genesis 1:1

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The book of God makes no attempt to prove that God exists. The opening verse of Genesis simply takes this fact for granted, as though it were so obvious that only a fool could say, “there is no God” (Psalm 14:1). — Morris, page 38.

There is no elaborate argument in proof of the existence of God…. God reveals Himself. He makes Himself known by His works. The heavens The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1)…. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things…by the greatness of His might and the strength of  His power (Isaiah 40:26) In the book of Job (38:41) we have an appeal of the very grandest description, on the part of Jehovah Himself, to the work of creation, as an unanswerable argument in proof of His infinite superiority. — Mackintosh, pages 2-3.

beginning = the beginning of time. The universe is actually a continuum of space, matter, and time, no one of which can have a meaningful existence without the other two.— Morris, page 41. 

God = This first occurrence of the divine name is the Hebrew Elohim, the name of God which stresses His majesty and omnipotence. This is the name used throughout the first chapter of Genesis. The im ending is the Hebrew plural ending, so that Elohim can actually mean “gods,” and is so translated in various passages referring to the gods of the heathen (e.g., Psalm 96:5).

However, it is clearly used here in the singular, as the mighty name of God the Creator, the first of over two thousand times where it is used in this way. Thus Elohim is a plural name with a singular meaning, a “uni-plural” noun, thereby suggesting the uni-plurality of the Godhead. God is one, yet more than one. — Morris, page 39.

The word selected by the Holy Spirit (bara) to express creation may have previously signified the forming out of material. But its use is sufficiently defined in this and other similar passages. For we are told that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; but the Scripture never affirm that He did this in the six days. The work of those days was quite a different thing from original creation: they were times of restoration, and the word asah is generally used in connection with them.

Now asah signifies to make, fashion, or prepare out of existing materials; as for instance, to build a ship, erect a house, or prepare a meal. 

There are, however two acts of creation mentioned in the history of the six days. First; God is said to have created the inhabitants of the waters and the fowls of heaven: because these do not consist merely of the material mould of their bodies, but have a life principle within which could  be conferred only by a direct act of creation. Hence the change of word in this place is quite intelligible. Just in the same way man is said to have been created, though in the second chapter we are expressly told that his body was formed from the dust. For the real man is the soul and spirit: the body, which is naturally changed every seven years, and must ultimately moulder in the grave, is regarded merely as the outward casing which gives him the power of dealing with his present surroundings, and the materials of which were appropriately taken from that earth in contact with which he was destined to live. 

In the detailed account of man’s origin, a third word is used to signify the forming of his body. This is yatzar, which means to shape, or mould, as  a potter does the clay. — Pember, pages 22-23.

The heaven mentioned in the first verse is the starry heaven, not the firmament immediately surrounding our earth: and since its history is not further unfolded, it may, for aught we know, have remained, developing, perhaps, but without violent change from the time of its creation until now. Not so, however, the earth, as the next verse goes on to show. — Pember, page 25.

heaven = The word is the Hebrew shamayim which, like Elohim, is a plural noun, and can be translated either “heaven” or “heavens,” depending on the context and on whether it is associated with a singular or plural verb. It does not mean the stars of heaven, which were make only on the fourth day of creation week (Genesis 1:16), and which constitute the “host” of heaven, not heaven itself (Genesis 2:1)…. In Genesis 1:1, the term refers to the component of space in the basic space-mass-time universe.—Morris, pages 40-41.

earth = the component of matter in the universe….this verse must speak essentially of the creation of the basic elements of matter, which thereafter were to be organized into the structured earth and later into other material bodies. 

This one verse refutes all of mans’ false philosophies concerning the origin and meaning of the world:

  1. It refutes atheism, because the universe was created by God.
  2. It refutes pantheism, for God is transcendent to that which He created.
  3. It refutes polytheism, for one God created all things.
  4. It refutes materialism, for matter had a beginning.
  5. It refutes dualism, because God was alone when He created.
  6. It refutes humanism, because God, not man, is the ultimate reality.
  7. It refutes evolutionism, because God created all things. — Morris, page 38.

The use of the word “create” here in Genesis 1:1 informs us that, at this point, the physical universe was spoken into existence by God. It had no existence prior to this primeval creative act of God. God alone is infinite and eternal. He also is omnipotent, so that it was possible for Him to call the universe into being. Although it is impossible for us to comprehend fully this concept of an eternal, transcendent God, the only alternative is the concept of an eternal, self-existing universe; and this concept is also incomprehensible. Eternal God or eternal matter—that is the choice. The latter is an impossibility if the present scientific law of cause and effect is valid, since random particles of matter could not, by themselves, generate a complex, orderly, intelligible universe, not to mention living persons capable of applying intelligence to the understanding of the complex order of the universe. A person God is the only adequate Cause to produce such effects.—Morris, page 40.

What follows is simply speculation on my part. It is a theory that cannot be proven (or disproven). It’s my attempt to make sense of some things that don’t otherwise make sense to me.

It is normal to think of God as existing through eternity past as if He was sitting around for untold billions of years until, one day, He decided to start creating stuff. But if God is outside of time—if He created time—then before “the beginning” in Genesis 1:1, there wasn’t any time. There was just God. To speak of God in terms of “time” is to limit the Creator by His creation. So, in Genesis 1:1, we read of the moment when God began the progression of events. Any attempt to define what existed before that moment—other than just God—is impossible. God didn’t see fit to tell us, and we probably couldn’t comprehend it if He did, bound as we are by the concept of time.

As to what God created in verse 1, I have my own theories there too. Commentaries written before about 1970 all speak of an earlier heaven and earth that were created and then destroyed, probably as a result of Satan’s fall. This creates a gap between verse 1 and verse 2. Then, so this theory goes, God began in verse 3 to create the heavens and earth as we now know them.

This theory has fallen out of favor, and most commentaries written recently attempt to debunk it. Their opposition is due to the fact that many people attempt to cram geologic ages of the earth, and even evolution into the gap.

I think there probably was a gap (although if I get to heaven and find out I’m wrong, it won’t shake my faith). But you need to understand that I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE GEOLOGIC AGES OR EVOLUTION OCCURRED IN THE GAP.

Some of my commentaries, written by learned Hebrew scholars reason, based on the grammar of these verses, that there was a gap. Others, also written by learned Hebrew scholars, reason that there isn’t. I’m not a learned Hebrew scholar. I think most of these scholars are capable of finding what they’re looking for.

My reason for believing in a gap is this: Adam and Eve were certainly created by God to be fertile. But if they had had a child before the fall, that child would be sinless, and we know that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). So, the fall must have taken place very soon after the creation. Maybe just a day or two. But before that happened, Satan had to have had his fall. To cram all that into a very short period of time doesn’t make sense to me. I also don’t think it’s necessary.

Rather, I think God created the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1:1 as an angelic creation. I think that earth was destroyed when Satan sinned. I have no idea how much “time” elapsed between its creation and its destruction. But again, I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE GEOLOGIC AGES OR EVOLUTION OCCURRED HERE. The destruction may have been down to the molecular level. That’s the “without form and void” in verse 2. No physical evidence of this earlier period exists on earth. Then, in the six literal days of creation, God took that matter and created our world.

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Genesis Introduction

I believe the Bible is the infallible word of God which should be taken literally. That’s the position from which I intend to do this study. That means that I’m not going to attempt to disprove evolutionary theory. Genesis already does that. I’m not going to attempt to prove that the flood was worldwide. Genesis already does that. Those topics may crop up (or may not), but that isn’t my focus. I want to study to find out what God actually has to say in Scripture as opposed to how people have interpreted it.

So why am I using commentaries? For one thing, I don’t know Hebrew so I have to refer to those who do. For another, I can learn from those who have gone before. I just don’t intend to take them at their word without checking it against the actual text. Many people have tackled Genesis by explaining things away. I just want to try to explain them.

If you tell me I don’t understand Scripture, that gives me incentive to keep trying. If you tell me I can’t understand Scripture, then there’s no reason to look at it at all. The latter view has become very popular, even among Christians, with the inevitable result. I’m just doing my best, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I hope, to find the truth.

I began by reading through the introductions of the commentaries listed below and marking anything I found interesting and informative.

We surely need not accuse the Bible of vagueness or inconsistency in order to explain the diversities of its interpretation. For, if we be observant and honest, we must often ourselves feel the difficulty of approaching the sacred writings without bias, seeing that we bring with us a number of stereotyped ideas, which we have received as absolutely certain, and never think of testing, but only seek to confirm. And yet, could we but fearlessly and impartially investigate, we might find that some of these ideas are not in the Bible at all, while others are plainly contradicted by it. For the tracks of many a popular doctrine may be followed through the long range of Church history, till at length we start with affright at the discovery that we have traced them back to the very entrance of the enemy’s camp. — Pember, pages 8-9.

Must the first chapters of Genesis be taken as history or as symbol and poetry? 

As history, because:

  1. it is related as history.
  2. It is understood by the Bible itself as history.
  3. Christ authenticated it as history.
  4. The apostles understood it as history (Romans 5:11-19).
  5. Revelation 20-22 form the counterpart of it to show that God made re-creation and full restoration of the fallen creation.
  6. Only unbelief in its many forms has a desire to depart from the historical idea.
  7. The whole plan of salvation is based upon the historical reality of these chapters. — Bultema, page 4.

If Genesis were not historically trustworthy, then simple logic showed that neither was the rest of the Bible, including its testimony about Christ. — Morris, page xii.

Genesis, by virtue not only of its place in the canon, but also in the timeline of biblical and revelatory history, is filled with events and concepts that, in the context of their first appearance, are intended both logically and theologically to be viewed as patterns, or paradigms, by which to understand those same or similar events and concepts whenever they appear later on, both in Scripture as well as in history generally. it is in this vein, for example, that Paul writes concerning all that befell Israel in their first national appearance, as recorded in the Pentateuch, that “these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction” (1 Corinthians 10:11). By studying the details of the biblical record, in other words, we can better understand that details and patterns of behavior, both positive and negative, divine and human, as we see them played out time and again in both biblical and post-biblical history, within Israel as well as within the Body of Christ, the Church. — Wechsler, page 21.

The Book of Genesis gives vital information concerning the origin of all things—and therefore the meaning of all things—which would otherwise be forever inaccessible to man. 

Origin of:

  • the universe.
  • order and complexity.
  • the solar system.
  • the atmosphere and hydrosphere.
  • life.
  • man.
  • marriage.
  • evil.
  • language.
  • government.
  • culture.
  • nations.
  • religion.
  • the chosen people.

The Book of Genesis thus is in reality the foundation of all true history, as well as true science and true philosophy. It is above all else the foundation of God’s revelation, as given in the Bible. No other book of the Bible is quotes as copiously or referred to so frequently, in other books of the Bible, as is Genesis.

The New Testament is, if anything, even more dependent on Genesis than the Old. There are at least 165 passages in Genesis that are either directly quoted or clearly referred to in the new Testament. Many of these are alluded to more than once, so that there are at least two hundred quotations or allusions to Genesis in the New Testament.

Furthermore, everyone of [the first] eleven chapters is alluded to somewhere in the New Testament, and every one of the New Testament authors refers somewhere in his writings to Genesis 1-11. On at least six occasions, Jesus Christ Himself quoted from or referred to something or someone in one of these chapters, including specific reference to each of the first seven chapters. 

It is quite impossible, therefore, for one to reject the historicity and divine authority of the Book of Genesis without undermining, and in effect, repudiating, the authority of the entire Bible. If the first Adam is only an allegory, then by all logic, so is the second Adam. If man did not really fall into sin from his state of created innocency, there is no reason for him to need a Savior. If all thigns can be accounted for by natural processes of evolution, there is no reason to look forward to a future supernatural consummation of all things. if Genesis is not true, then neither are the testimonies of those prophets and apostles who believed it was true. Jesus Christ Himself becomes a false witness, either a deceiver or one who was deceived, and His testimony concerning His own omniscience and omnipotence becomes blasphemy. Faith in the gospel of Christ for one’s eternal salvation is an empty mockery. — Morris, pages 17-22.

That Moses did write the entire Pentateuch (and thus Genesis) is nonetheless clearly indicated elsewhere in the Bible, in light of which there can be no doubt on this issue for those who affirm the full inspiration of “all Scripture” (see 2 Timothy 3:16). Indeed, Moses is identified—either explicitly or implicitly—as the writer of the Pentateuch more often than any other writer is identified with any other biblical book(s). — Wechsler, page 1.

Morris has a view of the writing of Genesis that runs counter to that of the other commentaries I’m using. I haven’t come to my own conclusion on this, in part because, even if Morris is correct, it doesn’t alter my view of the divine inspiration of Scripture. In short, he believes that many of the people who show up in Genesis were keeping a record of what happened during their lifetimes. These were then all passed down to Moses who compiled them into Genesis.

While Moses actually wrote the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, he served mainly as a compiler and editor of the material in the book of Genesis. This in no way  minimizes the work of the Holy Spirit, who infallibly guided him in this process of compilation and editing. Just as He later did the unknown compiler of the book of Kings and Chronicles. it would still be appropriate to include Genesis as one of the books of Moses since he is the human writer responsible for its present form. In fact, this explanation gives further testimony to the authenticity of the events recorded in Genesis, since we can now recognize them all as firsthand testimony. 

It is probable that these original documents can still be recognized by the key phrase: “These are the generations of …” The word “generation” is a translation of the Hebre toledoth, and it means essentially “origins,” or, by extension, “records of the origins.” There are eleven of these divisions marked off in Genesis:

  1. “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth” (Genesis 2:4).
  2. “This is the book of the generations of Adam” (Genesis 5:1).
  3. “These are the generations of Noah” (Genesis 6:9).
  4. “Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (Genesis 10:1).
  5. “These are the generations of Shem” (Genesis 11:10).
  6. “Now these are the generations of Terah” (Genesis 11:27).
  7. “Now these are the generations of Ishmael” (Genesis 25:12).
  8. “And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son” (Genesis 25:19).
  9. “Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom” (Genesis 36:1).
  10. “And these are the generations of Esau, the father of the Edomites in Mount Seir” (Genesis 36:9).
  11. “These are the generations of Jacob” (Genesis 37:2).

The weight of evidence suggests that the respective names attached to the toledoth represent subscripts or closing signatures. The events recorded in each division all took place before, not after, the death of the individuals so named, and so could in each case have been accessible to them.  — Morris, pages 26-27.

There is no question, of course, that some portions of Genesis are treated as types in the New Testament. The first Adam is taken as a contrasting type of the second Adam (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 45-47). Eve is taken as a type of the church (Ephesians 5:29-33). Abraham and Isaac are discussed as a type of the Father offering up His only-begotten Son (Hebrews 11:17-19).

It should never be forgotten, however, that types must be considered only as illustrations or applications, not as doctrinal interpretation, except to the extent that the inspired New Testament writers themselves make such applications a part of their own doctrinal systems. — Morris, pages 31-32.

Genesis is important not only as a history of man’s origin, but also as a prophecy of man’s future. 

The first chapters of Genesis describe a perfect world, made for man and placed under his dominion. Had man not sinned, he would have continued to rule and develop that perfect world, for man’s good and God’s glory. Since God cannot be defeated in His purpose, even though sin and the curse have come in as intruders for a time, we can be sure that all God intended in the beginning will ultimately be consummated. The earth, therefore, will be restored to its original perfection, and will continue eternally. Sin and the curse will be removed, and death will be no more. — Morris, page 32. 

Here are the commentaries I’m using. When I quote from one of these books in my blog, I will just use the author’s last name and the page number.

Brief Notes on Genesis, by Harry Bultema (Grace Publications)

Notes on the Book of Genesis, by C. H. Mackintosh (1879)

The Genesis Record, by Henry M. Morris (Baker Book House, 1976)

Earth’s Earliest Ages, by G. H. Pember (Fleming H. Revell Company)

Gleanings in Genesis, by Arthur W. Pink (Moody Press, 1922)

The New Scofield Reference Bible KJV, notes by C. I. Scofield (Oxford University Press, 1967)

The Six Days of Genesis, by Paul F. Taylor (Master Books, 2007)

Commentary on Genesis, by Michael G. Wechsler (written by a professor of Old Testament at Moody Bible Institute, as study notes for a class he teaches)

Complete Bible Commentary, by George Williams (Kregel Publications, 1994)

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Psalm 67:1-7

To the Chief Musician. On stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.

God be merciful to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us, Selah

That Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.

Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.

Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy!
For You shall judge the people righteously,
And govern the nations on earth. Selah

Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.

Then the earth shall yield her increase;
God, our own God, shall bless us.

God shall bless us,
And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.

Commentators do not list the 67th Psalm as among the Messianic Psalms, but without a doubt it will have its fulfillment at the time He reigns, and cannot be fulfilled until then. The sinful, selfish nature of fallen man is such that he does not want God to rule the earth. The portrait painted by the inspired writer is that of a universal kingdom of God, in which the nations will be glad and sing for joy. For the first time in the history of the world, the the nations and the people will be judged righteously. For the first time, since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, will the earth yield her increase of fruit, as it did before sin entered the world. — Phillips, page 139.

Structurally and thematically this psalm is organized in a beautifully symmetrical-chiastic fashion, with the first and third section focusing on God’s solicitude for Israel as the basis for worldwide praise, culminating in the center section (in which verses 3 and 5 mirror each other exactly) with a focus on God’s ideal and ultimate sovereignty over all nations, including Israel. Notably, the number of verses in this psalm, reflecting its symmetrical-chiastic structure, is seven, which number in the Bible is indicative of perfection and completion—hence underscoring even at the structural level that this is not only a picture of what the nations should ideally do, but also what they will one day really do when God establishes His kingdom on earth. — Wechsler, page 173.

Wechsler believes Psalm 67 was written by David.

This Psalm was probably composed, like Psalm 65, to be used at one of the great annual festivals, probably the Feast of Tabernacles. — Meyer, page 83.

The psalmist begins by adopting the phraseology of the priestly (or “Aaronic”) benediction in Numbers 4:24-26, in which the key expressions “be gracious,” “bless,” and “cause His fact to shine upon” all specifically signify spiritual provision (regardless of outer circumstances), “rest” (in the salvific sense” and intimacy with God. — Wechsler, page 173.

Regardless of what may happen throughout the course of human history, it will ultimately, inevitably culminate in all the peoples of the earth offering their praise to God when, in the person of His Son, He establishes His kingdom permanently on earth, judging the peoples with uprightness and guiding the nations on earth. — Wechsler, page 174.

Williams’ take:

According to the Scriptures God chose Israel as His agent to lead all nations to Him; and to this end He gave her a sufficient revelation of Himself and of His salvation. Israel refused this honor; but the Divine purpose has not thereby been defeated. She will be restore; she will yet publish peace to the nations, and win all peoples to the knowledge and service of God.

Here appears a deep principle of the Word of God, true in all dispensations, that the spiritual welfare of those far from God is dependent upon revival and restoration of soul among the people of God … The prophetic doctrine that the salvation of the world depends upon the restoration of Israel (Romans 11:12, 15) is repeated in the last two verses, as it was affirmed in the first two. — Williams, pages 351-352

This one seems pretty straightforward. Almost all my commentaries (except Guthrie) agree that this psalm points forward to the Millennial Kingdom. I see no reason to think otherwise.

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Psalm 66:1-20

To the Chief Musician. A Song. A Psalm.

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!

Sing out the honor of His name;
Make His praise glorious.

Say to God,
“How awesome are Your works!
Through the greatness of Your power
Your enemies shall submit themselves to You.

All the earth shall worship You
And sing praises to You;
They shall sing praises to Your name.” Selah

Come and see the works of God;
He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.

He turned the sea into dry land;
They went through the river on foot.
There we will rejoice in Him.

He rules by His power forever;
His eyes observe the nations;
Do not let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah

Oh, bless our God, you peoples!
And make the voice of His praise to be heard,

Who keeps our soul among the living,
And does not allow our feet to be moved.

10 For You, O God, have tested us;
You have refined us as silver is refined.

11 You brought us into the net;
You laid affliction on our backs.

12 You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.

13 I will go into Your house with burnt offerings;
I will pay You my vows,

14 Which my lips have uttered
And my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.

15 I will offer You burnt sacrifices of fat animals,
With the sweet aroma of rams;
I will offer bulls with goats. Selah

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
And I will declare what He has done for my soul.

17 I cried to Him with my mouth,
And He was extolled with my tongue.

18 If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.

19 But certainly God has heard me;
He has attended to the voice of my prayer.

20 Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer,
Nor His mercy from me!

The first 12 verses use plural pronouns, the last last 8 verses use singular pronouns.

enemies shall submit (v.3) — The psalmist specifies God’s awe-inspiring miracle of turning the sea into dry land (v.6)—a miracle performed on such a grand scale that it set fear and trembling into the heart of the peoples all around (Exodus 15:14). yet though these people—the enemies of God and Israel—then feigned obedience to God out of fear of His great power (v.3), the psalmist affirms that one day all the earth will worship God—a goal which no force of history can preempt (cf. Isaiah 11:10; Zechariah 14:9, 16; Revelation 22:3-4). — Wechsler, page 172.

sea into dry land (v.6) — a reference to Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21)

through the river on foot (v.6) — a reference to Israel’s crossing of the Jordan River (Joshua 3:14-16)

peoples (v.8) — According to Williams, this is a reference to the Gentiles who will be invited to worship Israel’s God.

fulfillment (v.12) — signifies “satisfaction” and “rest.”

The psalmist next praises God for having tried and refined His people (v.10), yet those who have been trained by it come into a place of abundance (v.12). all of these points are reiterated in Hebrews 12:4-13, which explicitly adds, citing Proverbs 3:11-12, that divine chastisement is, in the end, a cause for rejoicing, for it is evidence of God’s undiminished paternal love. — Wechsler, page 172.

In the first part [vs.1-12] appeal is made to all the earth to worship God because of what He has shown Himself to be on behalf of His people. This is a recognition of the true function of the people of God, that of revealing God to the outside nations in such a way as to constrain them to worship. — Morgan, page 116.

extolled (v.17) = praised

In regarding the wickedness in his heart (i.e., the depravity that affects us all; see Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9) he correctly determined that the Lord will not hear (v.18, to which compare Isaiah 59:2). Yet for the one who has … submitted in faith to God’s Word (and now that Word made flesh in Jesus; John 1:14), God will give heed to the voice of their prayer (v.19) and not turn away His lovingkindness (the expression of God’s covenant love) from them. — Wechsler, page 172.

Williams’ take:

The Psalm praises God for smiting the nations in judgment and Israel in chastisement. It will be sung by Israel and the Messiah at the opening of the millennium. She will recite His past action with her enemies (vs.3-7) and with herself (vs.9-12); she will offer the sacrifices of praise promised when in trouble (vs.13-15); and she will invite all who fear God to listen to her testimony as to His faithfulness and love in the fulfillment to her of His promises of deliverance (vs.16-20). — Williams, page 351.

Guthrie explains the Psalm as praise from Israel for some past deliverance. He suggests the overthrow of the Assyrian forces under Sennacherib. Perhaps that was the immediate context, but I think Williams’ explanation of the Psalm as prophecy makes the most sense. Morgan’s explanation (above) makes sense only in the prophetic context because in no sense has what God did for Israel in the past forced the nations to worship Him.

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Psalm 65:1-13

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. A Song.

1 Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion;
And to You the vow shall be performed.

O You who hear prayer,
To You all flesh will come.

Iniquities prevail against me;
As for our transgressions,
You will provide atonement for them.

4 Blessed is the man You choose,
And cause to approach You,
That he may dwell in Your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
Of Your holy temple.

By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us,
O God of our salvation,
You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth,
And of the far-off seas;

Who established the mountains by His strength,
Being clothed with power;

You who still the noise of the seas,
The noise of their waves,
And the tumult of the peoples.

They also who dwell in the farthest parts are afraid of Your signs;
You make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice.

You visit the earth and water it,
You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water;
You provide their grain,
For so You have prepared it.

10 You water its ridges abundantly,
You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers,
You bless its growth.

11 You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.

12 They drop on the pastures of the wilderness,
And the little hills rejoice on every side.

13 The pastures are clothed with flocks;
The valleys also are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, they also sing.

This joyous hymn was probably composed for use in the sanctuary on the occasion of one of the great annual festivals. It expressly dwells on the Divine bounty in the fertility of the earth (Leviticus 23:9-14). — Meyer, page 80.

Each of the three sections of this psalm deal with an expression of God’s grace towards man, beginning with that which is the greatest of all: His forgiveness of sin. He will hear the prayer and forgive the sin of all men (lit., “all flesh,” meaning any human being, whether Jew or Gentile who come to Him—the phraseology of which parallels Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple (see 1 Kings 8:41-43). “How blessed” is the one whom God thus chooses (v.4)—i.e., chooses to forgive (per v.3). And if such forgiveness comes about by God’s choice, then it cannot come about through the striving or merit of man; it is, simply put, a gift of God.

God’s grace is expressed in His awesome deeds (v.5)—i.e., the awe-inspiring miracles that He performed to deliver His people Israel. So too, just as Israel affirms in their “song” of response that God “has become my salvation (Exodus 15:2), so too does David affirm in this “song” (as the psalm is called in its heading) that the Lord is the “God of our salvation.”

In the last section David focuses on God’s grace as expressed in His ongoing (not necessarily miraculous, as in the previous section) provision for His people—as for mankind in general—by upholding the natural order. — Wechsler, pages 171-172.

Williams’ take:

The remnant according to the election of grace (Romans 11:5) here sings of the day of the establishment in Zion, and over the happy earth, of the Kingdom of God and the power of His Messiah (Revelation 12:10); of the new moral birth necessary to entrance into that Kingdom (v.4); of the sufferings of its subjects (v.3); and of the judgment of its foes (v.5). Israel will then perform her vow of praise (v.1), and the converted nations will unite with her in the worship of Messiah (vs. 2 and 8). — Williams, page 350.

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Psalm 64:1-10

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

¹Hear my voice, O God, in my meditation;
Preserve my life from fear of the enemy.

Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity,

Who sharpen their tongue like a sword,
And bend their bows to shoot their arrows—bitter words,

That they may shoot in secret at the blameless;
Suddenly they shoot at him and do not fear.

They encourage themselves in an evil matter;
They talk of laying snares secretly;
They say, “Who will see them?”

They devise iniquities:
“We have perfected a shrewd scheme.”
Both the inward thought and the heart of man are deep.

But God shall shoot at them with an arrow;
Suddenly they shall be wounded.

So He will make them stumble over their own tongue;
All who see them shall flee away.

All men shall fear,
And shall declare the work of God;
For they shall wisely consider His doing.

10 The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in Him.
And all the upright in heart shall glory.

To express complaint (v.1) to God, provided one does so in the manner modeled by Scripture, is not only an acceptable part of worship, but it is also an essential part, for in doing so the child of God finds healthy release for the angst that inevitably attends living in an ungodly world, and in the process strengthens the bonds of filial intimacy and dependence on their Heavenly Father. David concludes his complaint in this section by affirming that the inward thought and the heart of man are deep (v.6)—i.e., too deep for David to discover (and so take guard against), but never too deep for God, who knows the innermost secrets of all men’s hearts. 

Because God knows the heart, and because He is just and all-powerful, David can say with confidence that He will (not may) shoot at them and suddenly they will be smitten down—i.e., completely defeated (not just “wounded”), just as in 1 Samuel 17:46, where David declares with identical confidence what God will do through him to Goliath. — Wechsler, page 169.

Williams’ take (and he’s very specific about the occasion with no reference to David’s context at all):

In Matthew 22 and Luke 11, and in other similar passages, it is recorded that the leaders of the Jews composed in private crafty questions for the Lord so as to entangle Him in His teaching, and thus to be in a position to accuse Him either to the Sanhedrin or to the Roman government as a heretic or an insurgent and consequently guilty of death, and that they then in public rudely and vehemently proposed these questions to Him.

In this Psalm are found His comments upon their conduct, and His appeal to God about it. — Williams, page 349.

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Psalm 63:1-11

A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah.

¹ O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.

So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.

Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.

Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.

My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.

But those who seek my life, to destroy it,
Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.

10 They shall fall by the sword;
They shall be a portion for jackals.

11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him shall glory;
But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

The superscription tells us that it was written in the wilderness of Judah. But the word “king” (v.11) forbids our supposing that the Psalm was penned during the Sauline persecution. It was probably written amid the events recorded in 2 Samuel 15:23-28. — Meyer, page 78

In Hebrew David’s opening expression “Thou art my God” is arranged in grammatically less typical fashion as “My God Thou art,” by which he intends to underscore not simply the deity of the LORD, but the comforting and joy-giving fact that the LORD, who is the only true deity, is his God, personally and intimately, even when he is in the wilderness removed from His dwelling presence in the sanctuary (v.2).

By the statement “Your lovingkindness is better than life” (v.3) David means that God’s [covenant love (His faithful and continual expression of what is best for those whom He views as His own under the promise of the Abrahamic covenant)], which will bring him into the glory and complete joy of the next (eternal) life, is better than anything that the present life has to offer. — Wechsler, page 167

marrow and fatness (v.5) — highly valued and nourishing foods in David’s time

follows close (v.8) = clings, the same word used for husband-wife intimacy in Genesis 2:24.

Portion for jackals (v.10) — Absalom’s army was badly routed, and many of the slain must have fed the jackals which roamed the forest (2 Samuel 18:6-8). — Meyer, page 79

swears by (v.11) = places their confidence in

speak lies (v.11) = contradict what God has said

Williams’ take:

When David was in the Wilderness of Judah exiled from the worship of the Tabernacle (v.2), this prophetic message was given him by the Spirit to refresh his heart and sustain his faith. It sings of the first and second Advents of David’s Son and Lord. His first Advent occupies verses 1-10; His second, verse 11.

Verses 1 and 9 speak of the earth—the one, its surface; the other its lower parts. He descended from the Father’s glory to the surface of the earth and found it dry and thirsty. His enemies shall descend into the lower parts of the earth and will there find not one drop of water to cool their parched tongues.

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Psalm 62:1-12

To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

¹ Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.

He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.

How long will you attack a man?
You shall be slain, all of you,
Like a leaning wall and a tottering fence.

They only consult to cast him down from his high position;
They delight in lies;
They bless with their mouth,
But they curse inwardly. Selah

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.

He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.

In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah

Surely men of low degree are a vapor,
Men of high degree are a lie;
If they are weighed on the scales,
They are altogether lighter than vapor.

10 Do not trust in oppression,
Nor vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase,
Do not set your heart on them.

11 God has spoken once,
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God.

12 Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy;
For You render to each one according to his work.

Jeduthun (Intro) — A Levite, chief singer and instructor, father of one of the three families of Levitical singers. See 1 Chronicles 9:16; 16:38-42; 25:1-6; 2 Chronicles 5:12; 35:15; Nehemiah 11:17. He is mentioned in the inscriptions of Psalms 39; 62; 77.

truly (v.1) = The words “truly,” “only,” and “surely” are translations of the one Hebrew word. It occurs six times in the Psalm. Its modern meaning is “Whatever happens.” — Williams, page 348.

silently waits (v.1) = better translated “tranquility”

Verses 3 and 4 are addressed to the enemy.

David begins this second section by reiterating (in vs. 5-6) the comforting confidence with which he began the psalm, the only substantive difference begin that he substitutes “hope” for “salvation”—affirming that the “salvation” of which he spoke in verse 2 is still unrealized (and hence a reference to future and final salvation), just as “hope,” by definition, pertains to that which is yet unaccomplished and unseen (cf. Hebrews 11:1, where “things hoped for” is parallel to “things not seen”).

David concludes by exhorting his “people” (those he addresses in v.8) to look beyond the apparent prosperity of the wicked (v.9—”men of low degree”), for power and lovingkindness belong to God (i.e., they are His to the utmost degree) and by them He will eventually recompense every man according to his work (culminating at that time when Jesus returns in glory … and wrath Matthew—16:27; Romans 2:6). — Wechsler, page 166-167

“men of low degree are a vapor, men of high degree are a lie” (v. 9). I think this means that men who are “important” are impostors and lowborn men are like a breath that disappears. Verse 10 supports this by referring to the lack of value of oppression (by the important) and robbery (by the lowborn).

vapor (v.9) = air

Williams’ take:

Acts 17:31 and Matthew 16:27 make it evident that Messiah is the Man of verse 3 and the God of verse 12.

The first two verses reveal the perfection of Messiah’s trust when suffering the hatred described in verses 3 and 4: and verses 5-8 predict the faith which His people, animated by His spirit, will repose in God when suffering the oppression of the men described in verses 9 and 10. Except morally, verses 5 and 6 are not a repetition of verses 1 and 2. They are separated by a long period of time: the one is the expression of Christ personally when on earth; the other, that of Christ sympathetically in His people’s time of future trouble.

The presence of the word “glory” in verse 7 in relation to verse 2 points to the distinction between His first coming in weakness and His future coming in power, and marks the distance which separates these two verses — Williams, page 348.

Some of what Wechsler brought out in his quote (above) seem to lean toward Williams’ interpretation, but don’t go quite as far.

One of my commentaries guesses that David wrote this Psalm at the time of Absalom’s rebellion, but says nothing to back this claim up. If David wrote this when he was king, the people mentioned in verse 8 would be those under his rule. If that’s the case, there must have been some spiritual conflict with the enemies mentioned in verses 3 and 4. There was surely some contemporary application, but I find Williams’ take compelling.

In either case, the lesson on trusting tranquilly in the Lord, who is our Rock, Salvation, and Hope, even when our enemies expect us to tumble like a leaning wall is a powerful message. I have a long way to go.

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Psalm 61:1-8

To the Chief Musician. On a stringed instrument. A Psalm of David.

1 Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.

2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

3 For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.

4 I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah

5 For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.

6 You will prolong the king’s life,
His years as many generations.

7 He shall abide before God forever.
Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!

8 So I will sing praise to Your name forever,
That I may daily perform my vows.

David expresses himself in language intended to underscore his vulnerability—removed from all that make shim feel familiar and secure, calling out to God as if from a strange land, from the end of the earth … when his heart is faint (v.2). It is in God that he therefore looks for the most intimate familiarity (his internal/emotional needs) and the most impenetrable security (his external/physical needs): for security he implores that God lead him to the rock—i.e., to God Himself, for whom the term “rock” here is a common biblical designation, signifying a massive rock formation that is humanly impossible to move; for familiarity he implores that God let him dwell in His tent forever and—employing one of his favorite images—that He let him take refuge in the shelter of His wings, the phrasing of both of which statements is elsewhere connected with the expectation of joyful, all-fulfilling intimacy in the unrestricted presence of God. — Wechsler, page 164.

the rock that is higher than I (v.2) — which he himself cannot attain

tabernacle (v.4) — The psalm was evidently composed while the tabernacle was standing; and after David had received the promise of the everlasting kingdom (vs. 6-7). — Meyer, page 76

Notwithstanding his opening appeal that God “hear,” David affirms that He has already “heard” (v.5)—i.e., that He has already provided that which is best for David. This “best” as David goes on to affirm (not petition), entails: (1) the inheritance of those who fear God’s name (v.5), referring to the family of believers, of which he is part; (2) qualitatively eternal life, as indicated by verse 6 (“Thou wilt prolong, etc.”), in which “many generations” is a poetic idiom for “forever”; and (3) the sublimest of all privileges, to abide before God forever—i.e., in His presence—as a remade man, preserved (i.e., permanently ensconced) in lovingkindness and truth. — Wechsler, pages 164-165.

I will sing praise to Your name forever (v.8) — David’s ultimate motivation and goal.

William’s take:

The doctrine of this, and similar Psalms, is the perfection of the faith of Messiah, as man, under every form of hatred, affliction and adversity. The sharper these became the more He trusted. His moral glory as the Servant of Jehovah shines through all. This position of dependence and suffering He voluntarily took in union with, and on behalf of, His people. Hence they are cheered and comforted in trial, and their faith sustained by these communications, for they prove that their King and Shepherd trod these dark paths before them; that He trusted God and was delivered; and that a like deliverance is consequently assured to them. — Williams, page 347

It seems to me that Williams’ has a point here. Verses 6 and 7 certainly seem Messianic. Again I am drawn by the writer’s simultaneous experience of despair and hope. This is why it makes me sad that many (most) churches and ministries no longer preach about future things because somebody might disagree and be offended. How can we hope, especially in the midst of trials and despair, when we have no idea what it is our hope is in?

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