DUNCAN/Joy in God’s great reversals

DUNCAN/Joy in God’s great reversals


If you have your Bibles, I’d invite you to turn with me to Psalm 75 as we continue our way through the Book of the Psalms. In Psalm 75, the psalmist rejoices in God’s providential rule over the world. We will look at this Psalm in three parts. Firstly, in verse 1 we will see the psalmist praise the God who has drawn near. Secondly, in verse 2 – 5, we will see God’s own words of encouragement and warning. Lastly, in verses 6 – 10, we will see the people of God respond to God’s rule with praise and thanksgiving.

I. Praise God Who is Near 

The Psalm begins with praise: praise for a God who is near. This is very different than how our world functions today. Our world is filled with practical atheism, not outright denials that God exists. Even the USA Today polls taken on a regular basis in recent times show that most people still believe in God. It’s just that they don’t live like He exists. It’s just that their attitude and outlook on the world is as if He does not exist. It’s just that they don’t trust and live as if there were a God. Few men really believe that God is and governs the world, that everything happens by His ordering, and that all the causes and agents and means that we see in the world are nothing without Him. But the psalmist has been brought to praise in the very first verse of this Psalm because of that truth. Even with the backdrop of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple emblazoned upon his eyes and on his heart, he is able to praise, and he tells us he is able to praise God.

Notice what he goes on to say in verse 1: “Men declare Your wondrous works.” What’s happening there? God’s wondrous works are being retold in the songs and in the praises of the people of God who are gathered there to worship, and as he hears that, it enables him to worship. The psalmist is telling us that the praise and worship of the people of God prompted his thanksgiving to God. It was when he heard the wondrous acts of God retold in the worship of God that his outlook on the world was reoriented.

Doesn’t that tell us something about the importance of gathering together Lord’s Day after Lord’s Day? Because all during the week there are things that occur in our lives that are susceptible to very different interpretations than that which we hear from God’s word. We are tempted to doubt, we are tempted to wonder, we are tempted to question, we are tempted to bitterness. And the psalmist is saying, “It’s in the context of the worship of God where I hear God reveal who He really is. I am strengthened to worship the Lord rather than to scramble for cover.” It’s this retelling of who God is and what He has done that strengthens this man to face this cataclysmic crisis in the history of Israel. And so we see praise for a God who is near.

II. God’s Encouragement and Warning 

In verses 2 – 5, God speaks in comfort and in warning. And notice what He tells us here. God’s speech in verses 2 – 3 is encouraging, it’s reassuring to the people of God: “When I select an appointed time, it is I who will judge with equity.” He is a Judge who dispenses justice with fairness, so that the wicked are judged and the righteous are acquitted. He goes on to say, “The earth and all who dwell in it melt; it is I who have firmly set its pillars.” We are told here that though those who view themselves as the pillars of society melt away, it is God who has established the pillars of the earth. Though this earth seems with its inhabitants and cultures to be going crazy, God has established the structure and the order of this world, and He will administer justice. That is good news for the people of God, that justice will be done, that God will set things to rights.

But now there’s the warning side. You see it in verses 4 – 5, “I said to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn; do not lift up your horn on high, do not speak with insolent pride.’” The Lord here speaks to the proud and to the wicked; and notice how He links those together — the proud and the wicked. To be prideful is to be wicked; to be wicked is to be prideful. And He says to them, “Do not be arrogant. Do not speak arrogantly.” This is one reason why humility is the quintessential Christian grace; why it’s so important for all of us to cultivate that humility. For God will exalt the humble, and He will abase the proud. To be prideful is to be raised up against God. May God grant to us grace-wrought, gospel humility.

III. Praise and Thanksgiving 

The psalmist in verses 6 – 10 responds to God’s rule with praise and thanksgiving. Here the psalmist, after hearing God announce His just judgment, instead of standing back and saying, “God, how could You have let the wicked Babylonians bring judgment on Your people and destroy Your temple?” responds by saying, “Lord, I know You’re going to bring the wicked down. I know the prideful who set up their own banners in the temple of God are going to be brought low because I know that You rule the world in righteousness.” There’s only one place where you can go where things will be put right for the people of God, and that’s to God the Judge. That’s the One who is going to come and exalt you in your abasement and humility. That’s the One who is going to come and set things right. Search where you will, but there is no Arbiter but God: He alone exalts the humble; He alone abases the proud. And the psalmist praises God for this fact.

Also this reality evokes thanksgiving. Listen to what the psalmist says: “But as for me, I will declare it forever, I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.” He is remembering the promises that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: that He would make them a people, and that He would give them a permanent dwelling place, and that He would be their inheritance. Our God is the same God who promised this to Abraham and to Jacob, who sustained Daniel, who heard Paul, who was there with John at the very end. And so in the midst of all of the world’s crises, we continue to believe in His just judgment because He has drawn near to us and we hear the people of God in all generations singing praises to Him for those wondrous works.

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