Spurgeon And The Psalms (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Spurgeon And The Psalms hits a sweet spot for me: Charles Spurgeon is one of my favorite preachers and the Psalms are my go-to resource when I need encouragement, perspective, or vocabulary for my heartfelt prayers. The combination of the Prince of Preachers and the Psalter grabbed my attention before I even opened the cover.

After I opened the cover, I was not disappointed. I love the format of each chapter. For each chapter your eyes go to Charles Spurgeon’s commentary first, and then you can read the chapter itself. The reason why I like this layout is because Spurgeon has a tendency to tell us not what the psalmist says, but what we should look for as we read that psalm. This remains true to what Spurgeon himself felt about biblical commentaries.

I always make my Bibles my own. By that I mean that I underline, highlight, circle, and write margin notes throughout my Bible. The wide margins in this book make it ideal to use as a prayer companion. I believe the Bible is not a Book to be read through, but a Book to be prayed through. Nowhere is that more true than in the Psalms, where such deep emotions are poured out in God’s presence, helping us give voice to our deepest prayers.

If you have never read anything from Charles Spurgeon, this is an excellent place to get started. After you have read his insights here, I’m confident that you will want to read more. Even if you are familiar with Spurgeon’s sermons and books, this book is going to be an excellent addition to your library.

I am a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid and I reviewed this book at their invitation 

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Links & Quotes

I love Charle Spurgeon’s definition of godliness: “God Himself is the power of godliness. The Holy Spirit is the life and force of it. Godliness is the power that brings a man to God and bind him to Him. Godliness is that which creates repentance toward God and faith in Him. Godliness is the result of a great change of heart and reference to God and His character. Godliness looks toward God and mourns its distance from Him. Godliness hastens to draw near and rests not till it is at home with God. 

“Godliness makes a man like God. Godliness leads a man to love God and to serve God. It brings the fear of God before his eyes and the love of God into his heart. Godliness leads to consecration, to sanctification, to concentration. The godly man seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and expects other things to be added to him. Godliness makes a man commune with God and gives him a partnership with God in His glorious designs. And so it prepares him to dwell with God forever.”

Viz.Bible has a great way of portraying the data of the Bible in very picturesque ways. Check out this link to see an overview of the Bible like I have bever seen before!

The folks at Axis Ministry provide some amazing insights for parents (and youth pastors) of pre-teens through the early college years. I would highly recommend subscribing to their free weekly email. Here is their Parent’s Guide To Teen Emotions, which is a free PDF for you to download.

The Best Commentary On The Old Testament

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Frequently, people will ask me what commentaries I consult when I’m studying for a sermon. Occasionally, I will consult a commentary—but only after I feel I’ve exhausted my own biblical studies. I discussed some thoughts from Charles Spurgeon on the use of commentaries in a previous post. 

But let’s look at this from another angle: Before there was an Old Testament and a New Testament, what did those who lived in the days of Jesus call what we now refer to as “the Old Testament”? They called it Scripture. 

Here’s a clip from a recent sermon where I discuss more in-depth why our New Testament is really the best commentary we have on the Old Testament:

I invite you to check out a couple of other resources: 

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Think On This…

Here’s the seed thought for this episode of Think On This

My t-shirt from To Write Love On Her Arms that says, “You make today better.”

Think on this: Am I being intentional about making other people’s today better? Am I expressing my gratitude to those who are making my today better?

Think On This…

Here’s the seed thought for this episode of Think On This

Do to others what you would like them to do to you. (Matthew 7:12)

Think on this: Do I apply the Golden Rule negatively (just trying to avoid offending)? Or do I apply it positively (creatively trying to find ways to help others)?

 

Think On This…

Here’s the seed thought for this episode of Think On This

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

Think on this: God has forgotten every sin of mine that He has ever forgiven!

Prescribed & Personal Worship

But you are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put His Name there for His dwelling (Deuteronomy 12:5).

THE place—not a place.

The Old Testament physical practices always point to the New Testament spiritual practices:

  • We cannot worship like everyone else does—You must not worship the Lord your God in their [pagan] way (v. 4) 
  • We cannot worship God like it’s always been done before—You are not to do as we do here today, everyone doing as they see fit (v. 8) 
  • We cannot worship God in a way that is cheap and convenient—Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please (v. 13) 

Go to THE place the Lord will choose (v. 26). 

The exclusivity focus is on the Person not the place or the practice.

Jesus said, “Not here or in Jerusalem, but in spirit and in truth” (John 4:20-24). And He made clear that He is THE exclusive way to the Father (John 14:6).

The apostle Paul noted that the day of the week or the type of food doesn’t matter in our worship practices; THE focus on Jesus is what matters (Romans 14).

So worship of God is both prescribed and personal:

  • Prescribed in that it’s only THE work of Jesus that makes worship possible. 
  • Personal in that I worship God as me—as He created me—not by following a formula. 

Paul went on to say in Romans 14 that we shouldn’t judge the sincerity of another person’s worship. If they are glorifying God—great! If not—they will have to stand before THE Judge.

We only have access to God through THE High Priest Jesus Christ. Let us always make sure that He is THE focus.

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Comments On Commentaries

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Comments On Commentaries

     It has been said that the passage I have taken for my text [Isaiah 7:1-17] is one of the most difficult in all the Word of God. It may be so. I certainly did not think it was until I saw what the commentators had to say about it, and I rose up from reading them perfectly confused! One said one thing, and another denied what the other had said. And if there was anything that I liked, it was self-evident that it had been copied from one to the other and handed through the whole of them! 

     One set of commentators tells us that this passage refers entirely to some person who was to be born within a few months after this prophecy….

     Well, that seems a strange frittering away of a wonderful passage, full of meaning, and I cannot see how they can substantiate their view when we find the evangelist Matthew quoting this very passage in reference to the birth of Christ [Matthew 1:22-23]….

     I find, moreover, that many of the commentators divide the sixteenth verse from the fourteenth and fifteenth verses, and they read the fourteenth and fifteenth verses exclusively of Christ, and the sixteenth verse of Shear-Jashub….

     Then another view, which is the most popular of all, is to refer the passage, first of all, to some child who was then to be born, and afterward, in the highest sense, to our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. … 

     But I think that if I had never read those books at all, but had simply come to the Bible without knowing what any man had written upon it, I would have said, ‘There is Christ here as plainly as possible! Never could His name had been written more legibly than I see it here.’ 

From The Birth Of Christ

Spurgeon was not advocating that we never consult commentaries because elsewhere he said about the use of commentaries: “I find it odd that he who thinks so highly of what the Holy Spirit teaches him speaks so little of what the Holy Spirit teaches others also.” 

But what I believe Spurgeon is advocating here is this important principle—The best commentary on a passage of Scripture is another passage of Scripture. Which is why he used the passage in Matthew to help him understand the passage in Isaiah.

God makes Himself clear in His Word. The same Holy Spirit that inspired the pen of those who wrote the words in the Bible is the same Holy Spirit in you that can illuminate those words to your heart and mind. 

Commentators have their place. I believe that place is after you have prayed through and wrestled with a passage of Scripture for yourself. Think of commentators as the answers in the back of your math book. After you have worked through the equations for yourself, go to the answer key to verify your answers. If you simply look up the answer before you wrestle with the problem, how have you benefitted yourself? 

And always remember that God’s Word is infallible, but men are fallible. Commentators may provide an insight that helps you see something more clearly, but they are never a substitute for God’s very own word on a matter. 

Should you use commentaries? Sure! Find a good one, but consult it only after you have asked the Holy Spirit to help illuminate the passage, and after you have allowed the commentary of Scripture itself to shine its light on the difficult verse or passage.


Dressed For Victory

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power (Ephesians 6:10).

Not…

  • be strong in my own ability
  • be strong in the company of another warrior

But…

  • be strong in the Lord
  • be strong in the power of His might

The armor I wear has been battle-tested by the undefeated Champion. It’s armor emblazoned with the crimson red blood of Calvary. It’s armor gleaming brightly with the glow of Resurrection victory.

I wear Christ’s armor! 

  • The belt of truth—it’s the righteousness of Jesus (Isaiah 11:1-5)
  • The breastplate of righteousness—worn by the Messiah who defeated evil (Isaiah 59:15-17)
  • The helmet of salvation—worn by Jesus as He won salvation for us (Isaiah 59:16-17)
  • The shoes of the gospel of peace—worn by our Lord as He defeated our enemies (Isaiah 52:5-7)
  • The shield of faith—God says, “I am your shield” (Genesis 15:1)
  • The sword of the Spirit—what Jesus used to strike down satan’s temptations (Isaiah 49:1-2; Luke 4:4, 8, 12)

I must continually clothe myself in God’s armor. Then I keep the armor bright by prayer—

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight 
Prayer makes the Christian’s armor bright 
And satan trembles when he sees 
The weakest saint upon his knees. (William Cowper)

Holy God, may I be dressed in YOU at every moment. May I daily use YOUR battle-tested armor and weapons to strike a blow against satan! 

(Check out all the Scripture references above by clicking here.)

“Ye Shall Be As Gods”

“By two great lies was man led away from God. By the same two lies has the estrangement been kept up. On these two lies the world has been feeding ever since the Fall. Their fruit has been woe and death—‘Ye shall not die’ and ‘Ye shall be as gods.’ …

“The world’s history is the same. Our race has been eating the fruit of lies [Hosea 10:13]; not simply of sin, but of lies. The sorrows, sighs, tears, pains of our race are the fruit of lies—the original lie of Paradise, and a thousand such since then. …

“The two original satanic lies are continually coming up, and along with them myriads of others, all leading us astray. Each day brings forth the lie, the fruit, the eating thereof. satan, or the world, or the flesh, or a friend, or a book, or a scene whispers the lie; it is fair and specious, we believe it; it brings forth fruit, we eat of it, and the end is bitterness and disappointment. We feed on lies. … We persuade ourselves that this world is good, and pleasant, and excellent, so we pursue it in preference to the world to come. …

“Jesus says, ‘Yes, ye shall not surely die, but that deliverance shall not be in the way you think. Death is the wages of sin, yet I bring life to the sinner, everlasting life, life through the belief of the Truth, even as death came through the belief of a lie. Yes, ye shall be as gods, but not in your way. I will make you partakers if the divine nature, not by eating the forbidden tree, but by eating of Me.’” —Horatius Bonar, in Light & Truth—The Old Testament

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