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Bearing Fruit…Mature Fruit

“To declare, 

‘Indeed, Righteous is Yahweh!’

‘My Rock!’

‘There is no injustice in him!’

(Psalm 92:16 {verse 15 in English})

Thus, what is the ripe fruit of spiritual maturity? Indeed, it is a declaration of praise that God is righteous and that he is the rock upon which you base your life. It is the declaration that not only that there is no injustice in Him, but that there is nothing unjust in his Word. Thus, that world is followed and obeyed in life … not begrudgingly, but joyfully. And from that joyful obedience flow the many fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, knowledge, virtue, hospitality, generosity, mercy, peacefulness, reasonableness, sincerity, impartiality, obedience, and things like these… (Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 1:6; 2 Peter 1:5-7; 3 John 8; 2 Corinthians 9:7; James 3:17; John 15:8-11). Indeed, if a tree is known by its fruit (Matthew 7:15-20), this is the fruit that ought to identify our lives as mature and Christian…not the crosses that we wear as decoration or the Jesus-stickers on our cars.

Yet, how often we find people who speak of this on Sunday but completely ignore this on the rest of the days of the week. Trees do not bear one fruit on Sundays and a different fruit the rest of the week…indeed, trees bear fruit the whole season of their maturity. And so shall we. As we began this psalm we highlighted that it was written for the Sabbath. Indeed, it is our Sabbath rest and worship that ought to plant us (as trees) firmly upon the rock of Christ, but so planted, we then engage the rest of our week on the basis of that foundation, not in spite of the foundation laid Sunday morning.

The Wall Goes Up!

“My eye has been made to see my wall being raised up;

Before me is the one who does evil;

My ear hears.”

(Psalm 92:12 [verse 11 in English])


A short survey of English Bible translations will give a vast variety of interpretations of this verse, thus it ought not be surprising that the one I offer above is again rather distinct from some of the others. In fact, about the only thing that each translation can be said to have in common is that it speaks of the eye seeing and the ear hearing something, though that something is debated by translators.

The text literally speaks of seeing “my wall” being raised up. The Hebrew word used there is r…wv (shur), which typically refers to a small wall that might be placed around a well or a fence that might be laid between two people’s property. In context, it seems that God is giving the psalmist the confidence to say that though the enemy is on my borders, I shall not fear because even now I see God erecting a wall to protect me and to protect this covenantal land that God has entrusted to my family.

If we translate the verse in this fashion, then rather than it speaking of the destruction of the psalmist’s enemies, its focus is really on the defense of the psalmist from his enemies…something that lends itself better to the following verses. Remember too, this is a Sabbath psalm, and as such, this is that which the assembled congregation would be singing as they implore God’s protection from the foes all around them.

The notion of the ear hearing things is not so much a notion of the psalmist hearing perhaps the clamor of the enemies outside of the walls, but instead it is covenantal language that speaks of the design of God: “He who has ears, let him hear” is a common Biblical phrase to say, “Listen to the design and wisdom of God.” In other words, while the enemy is before you, listen to God’s plan to preserve you healthy and strong from the onslaught of the wicked…for (as the following verses speak) it will be you who bear fruit in old age.

Thus it is a reminder to us to be confident and sure that God is in the business of strengthening and walling in his own to preserve them from the evil one. And indeed, God is still in the business of preserving his own today which ought not only to give us confidence in doing his work in this world, but it should also drive us to praise for he has done this for us.

Rejoicing in Yahweh’s Divine Actions

“For you make me rejoice constantly, Yahweh, in your divine action; in the works of your hands, I continually exult.”

(Psalm 92:5 [verse 4 in English])


The question that we must raise is whether or not we can really say, with the psalmist that we rejoice and exult in the works of God. On the surface level, our first response is probably to say that we do rejoice in God’s works, but in saying that we need to take a closer look at what we are suggesting. Indeed, it is easy to rejoice in the blessings that God brings into our lives, but what of the trials? What of those times when everything is falling apart and we just cannot figure out which end is up in life? Is it not harder to rejoice in God and exult in his works when such things take place? Yet this, too, is in sight of what the Psalmist is saying.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do, when things fall apart in our lives, is to praise God in the midst of such things. Yet, in times of distress like this, such is what our soul most needs. We need that communion and worship and we need to affirm that God’s work is continually a good thing in my life because it is used to conform me into the image of his Son, Jesus.

One of the great reminders of this principle is the setting aside of the Sabbath day. A day where we join with the body of Christ and worship together — where we even lift one another up in worship, standing in the gap for the brother and sister who is broken and cannot stand (spiritually) on their own feet to do so. That joined with the promise that if we count the Sabbath a delight, God will raise us up from our depths and give us a taste of his glory (Isaiah 58:13-14).

God’s Faithfulness

“To declare your chesed in the morning;

And of your trustworthiness in the night;

Upon the ten strings and upon the harp;

With the sound of the zither.”

(Psalm 92:3-4 [verses 2-3 in English])


Again we find an emphasis on singing praise accompanied by the sound of instruments. The reference to the “ten strings” in Hebrew is unique to the book of psalms (33:2, 92:4, 144:9) and is likely a reference not simply to a small personal shoulder harp (which might have had 5 or 7 strings), but to a larger harp requiring more skill to play. Granted, depending on the dating of this psalm, much larger harps would have been familiar items; the ancient Egyptians had 22 strings on their full-sized arched-harp. Arguably this is one more reminder that this psalm has its focus the gathered worship of God’s people where skilled musicians (levitical or otherwise) would have been present, not simply to private worship.

The additional reference to the zither seems to reinforce both the corporate setting (as multiple instruments are being mentioned) and to skillful musicians required to play it. Often this word is translated as lyre, which shouldn’t surprise us as the lyre has its origins in the zither. Again, the emphasis of music in Sabbath worship.

Yet, what is more important is not the instruments used but for what God is being praised. Here, it is his “chesed” and his trustworthiness. The word chesed I have simply left untranslated as there is not a simple word-for-word equivalent of this idea. Ultimately it refers to God’s covenant faithfulness to his people (that’s us!) despite the covenant unfaithfulness of his people (sadly, that’s us too…). This we do not deserve, but this God graciously gives to his own to his own glory and praise. As the Apostle Paul wrote, salvation is by grace, not works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Indeed, it is worth praising our God for his faithfulness and for his chesed.

And it is for this faithfulness (amongst other things) that we praise God when we gather together on the Sabbath. The sad thing is that all-too-often, the lyrics of our praises are focused heavily on the individual, not on the God who saves the individual. Loved ones, remember, it is not our goodness or our works that brings about God’s faithfulness…God is faithful despite our lack of goodness and our failures…that is the essence of Grace. As the old Fanny Crosby hymn went… “To God be the glory, great things he has done!”

And you shall remember—for you were a slave in the land of Egypt and Yahweh, your God, redeemed you.  Because of this, I command this thing of you today.

(Deuteronomy 15:15)

What is Good…

“It is good to praise Yahweh;

To sing to your name, Most High.”

(Psalm 92:2 [verse 1 in English])


Indeed, it is good to give God praise. How often, though, we seek to define for ourselves what is good rather than seeking obedience to God’s word about what is truly good. Scripture tells us that it is good to be in the presence of the godly (Psalm 52:9), to give thanks to our God (Psalm 54:6), to be near God (Psalm 73:28), to be afflicted that we might learn the statutes of God (Psalm 119:71), to wait quietly on the Lord (Lamentations 3:26), to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8), to discern the will of God (Romans 12:2), to not cause a brother to stumble (Romans 14:21), and to remain orthodox in your theology (Hebrews 13:9).

And while we could go on, isn’t it interesting how many of the things listed above take place in the context of our gathered worship on the Sabbath day. We pray, we gather, we sing, we learn the statutes (even sometimes in affliction), and we learn to wait on God’s time and his deliverance from trouble. It indeed is good to praise Yahweh, and not just on the Sabbath day, but with every waking breath and with our rest at night.

And in the context of praise, the psalmist also speaks of singing those praises. The term that we translate here as “sing” is the Hebrew word rmz (zamer), which refers to singing while accompanied by a stringed instrument like a harp or a lyre. It is the root from which the word rOwm◊zIm (mizmor), which is translated as “Psalm” comes from…a reminder that instrumentation is appropriate for the worship of God’s people.

Most High is one of those rich names for God amongst God’s people. It reflects his majesty and the loftiness of his name and person. When the Messiah was announced to Mary by Gabriel, he is referred to as the Son of the Most High, again a reminder of Jesus’ divinity (Luke 1:32). How rich and good it is to sing praises and proclaim the name of our most high God!

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your own pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, holy to Yahweh, and honorable; honor it from doing your own things and finding your own pleasure and speaking words, then you shall delight in Yahweh and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth; I will feed you with the inheritance of Jacob your father, for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.”

(Isaiah 58:13-14)

A Song for the Sabbath

“A Psalm: A Song for the Day of the Sabbath”

(Psalm 92:1 [superscript in English])


That which we identify as Psalm 92 begins with a clear statement of its purpose. It is written for use on the Sabbath day. And, presuming that superscripts are given to us as indicators of purpose and groupings of psalms, it follows that this introduces Psalms 92-97 as a grouping of psalms (given no superscripts until psalm 98) that are all designed for worship on the Sabbath day.

Sadly, in the western world, we have largely lost any sense of the Sabbath’s significance. Stores are open for business (even stores that purport to be Christian stores!), it is often the busiest day of the week for restaurants, amusement parks are open for business, athletic teams are practicing, and there is no abatement in the worldly junk that passes for television entertainment. We fill our lives with so much activity that we are beyond busy and then we buy into the lie that if we just rob ourselves of the Sabbath day and make that day busy as well, then we will find the satisfaction and fulfillment that we crave. Yet, falling into this pattern is a downhill race to self-destruction.

Probably even sadder is that teaching on the Sabbath in our culture is often ignored or avoided because of fears of stepping on toes. Yet, the scriptures have no hesitation about speaking of the Sabbath Day. The other challenge in our culture is that teaching on the Sabbath only tends to be received in terms of negatives and not in terms of positives. People hear “DON’T” and then they shut their minds off and never hear the “DO.” Yet, the scriptures place far more emphasis on the “DO” and the blessing of the Sabbath day. We don’t seem to have a problem hearing the words: “You shall no Murder” or “You shall not commit adultery” but when people hear the Sabbath spoken of, they seem to shut down and miss the blessing of the teaching.

While there are entire books and treatises written on the Sabbath, for the devotions that will follow, we will let this psalm guide our thoughts and hopefully challenge our practices. Though the day of the Sabbath has changed from Saturday to Sunday, the principle behind the Sabbath day remains the same; may the Spirit move our hearts as we reflect and meditate on these words.

“Remember the Day of the Sabbath and continually consecrate it.”

(Exodus 20:8)

The Sixth Hour

“Now, it was the Day of Preparation of the Passover and it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, ‘Behold your King.’”

(John 19:14)


This is one of those passages where enemies of the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy say, “Aha! See, there is an error!” They go on to say that this is the “Day of Preparation for Passover,” not the Passover itself and that while John records the sentencing as taking place during about the “sixth” hour, Mark records the crucifixion as having taken place at the third hour! Oh my, such a dilemma we are put into if we hold to Biblical inerrancy…well, not really.

First of all, the language of the Day of Preparation is used in the Gospel accounts to speak of the Preparation for the Sabbath (for the Jews, Saturday), not in terms of the Passover (see Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, John 19:31,42). Thus, as the Passover this year fell on a Friday, it was also the Day of Preparation for the Sabbath…oh my, one objection answered simply by looking at the context.

The second objection has caused a little more consternation amongst commentators. As noted, Mark speaks of the crucifixion as taking place at the third hour (Mark 15:25). Different answers have been given for this from speaking about variant manuscripts that substitute “third” for “sixth” in John’s text to suggestions of scribal changes. Yet, the simplest answer is often the best. One should recall that John is writing at least 30 years after the other Gospel writers had penned their Gospel texts and arguably is familiar with the synoptic accounts. The Synoptics, writing before the destruction of the Temple, when the traditional Jewish sense of marking time was still in active use, chose to use the Jewish method of counting hours from sunrise. John, writing after the destruction of the Temple, when everyone would have been under the Roman system of marking time, used just that — the Roman system of marking time — a system which began marking hours at about midnight. That means that there is about 3 hours of time that will pass from the time that the sentence is uttered by Pilate (6 AM) and the hanging Jesus on the cross (9 AM), but this is not unrealistic as the execution had to be organized and Jesus had to proceed from there to Golgotha bearing the weight of his cross at least part of the way. Carrying such a burden would have taken a strong, healthy man a fair period of time; Jesus, being beaten and stumbling, would have taken considerably longer.

As with most cases, answers are available to every challenge to Biblical inerrancy and most challenges come as a result of surface readings, not being willing to look more deeply into the text.

What is much more important is the dialogue that follows. “Behold your King!” Pilate knows he has lost the chess game with the Chief Priests but he nevertheless wants to get in a final dig. This, though, will be the final rejection of Jesus that these men will make…denying Jesus’ Lordship to their own condemnation. How many in our world today insist, like these Jewish officials, that they have no king but Caesar! Yet, we get ahead. Here, though given as a taunt, we find Pilate speaking truth…Behold the King not only of the Jews, but of all creation. For them, all they saw was a broken and bloody man…one day all mankind will witness the risen and glorious Christ, King of all the universe — a King of power and might — how great the contrast will be, yet how these will find themselves not with him in their power, but under his crushing foot of judgment. Loved ones, there is a call given to each of us, flee to Christ as King while there is still breath in your lungs.

Notes on Sabbath Use

In terms of how we are to celebrate the Sabbath day, God gives us five commands within the Pentateuch to guide our worship: 

1)  The Sabbath is given to us as a day to rest from our labors and reflect on their completion:

Gen. 2:1 ¶ Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and wall the host of them.

Gen. 2:2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.

Gen. 2:3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.


2)  The Sabbath is a day for the commemoration of God’s creative work;

Ex. 20:9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,

Ex. 20:10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.

Ex. 20:11 For min six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.


3)  The Sabbath is a day that commemorates God’s setting apart of a people to himself as holy and set apart:

Ex. 31:12 ¶ And the Lord said to Moses,

Ex. 31:13 “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.

Ex. 31:14 You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

Ex. 31:15 Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.


4)  The Sabbath is a day for the gathering of God’s people:

Lev. 23:1 ¶ The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

Lev. 23:2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.

Lev. 23:3  “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.


5)  The Sabbath is a day that commemorates God’s redemption of his people:

Deut. 5:12  “ ‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.

Deut. 5:13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

Deut. 5:14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.

Deut. 5:15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.



Jesus said of the Ten Commandments that not a yod or a seraph (smallest letter and smallest mark in Hebrew) would pass away until his second coming.

Matt. 5:17  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Matt. 5:18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Matt. 5:19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.


We still need the Sabbath:

1.  The Christian Sabbath is still a needed rest from the labors of the week.

2.  Not only do we commemorate God’s creative work, which was begun on a Sunday, but we anticipate God’s re-creative work in the new heavens and the new earth, which was secured on a Sunday, as it is Christ’s resurrection that secured for us an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading (1 Peter 1:4).

3.  We commemorate God’s election, setting us apart as a holy priesthood (1 Peter 1:14-16).

4. We gather as a people in the name of the Lord.

5. To commemorate God’s redemption of His people, not only through the history of redemption, but also in the saving work of Jesus, through which we have been redeemed from our bondage to sin and are being prepared for eternity with Christ in heaven.  Because Christ is resurrected, we have the hope of resurrection as well (Romans 8:29, Colossians 1:18).