Part 2 of a 4 Part Introduction
If the Prophet Moshe gave Israel the five books of the Torah and King David gave Israel the five books of the Psalms, why is the latter virtually absent from the study literature that is emerging among the rebirth of the Natsarim? The answer is because the enemy has kept it partially concealed; knowing that familiarity with it has the potential to bring unprecedented healing, wisdom and unity into the camp of the Natsarim. One need only look at the contrast between the Book of Psalm’s constant presence among the daily lives of the Yahudim (Jews) and the scarcity of its use among returning Ephraim. This scarcity is the product of a former religious system that went little further than presenting Psalms as a book of prophetic signposts, which foreshadow events in Messiah Yahshua’s earthly ministry.
This work has been compiled to meet a long overdue need within this movement to attain a deeper understanding and unique appreciation of the Book of Psalms. Any blocked spiritual growth, whether individually or communally, will be dislodged by daily study and meditation on the Psalms, which is the major artery that pumps blood to the rest of the Scriptures. A working familiarity of the Psalms is not only integral to the t’shuvah (return) process, but also increases the potential for Torah to be absorbed permanently onto the heart. A natural ability to incline oneself to meditate on appropriate Psalms for any given situation is a central key to maintaining a path of integrity and purity. The Jewish Sages regularly taught that if men knew the value of reciting Psalms, they would recite them continually. May this work be freely disseminated throughout the Natsarim Diaspora.
Beatings and Praises
The Book of Psalms is the quintessential guide to self mastery. In it’s writings it captures and deals with every emotion, joy, heartache and sorrow ever experienced by man. This week we continue the introduction by looking at the value of the Psalmist’s pleas, punishments and the praises.
Psalms 130:2; “My Lord, listen to my voice, let your ears be attentive to the sound of my pleas.”
- King David did not ask Elohim to heed his eloquent plea, rather he merely begged Him to hear his voice and entreaties. Psalsm 28:2; “Hear the sound of my pleading when I cry out to you for help.” David’s only direct request is to be heard, rather than helped.
- He committed all of his vast mental powers to the composition of the Psalms. This is the meaning behind of the word, maskil. It literally means, “A song composed with intellect.” Psalms 142:1; “A maskil unto David, when he was in the cave, a prayer.”
- Tehillim is not a book of poetry! It is a cry for help. It is a plea for perfection.
- Sanhedrin 92b recounts the story of Nebuchadnezzar, who upon witnessing the miraculous salvation of Chananya, Mishael and Azarya from the fiery inferno, was prepared to write songs and praises to Elohim that would exceed the book of Psalms.
- But an angel was sent down to strike him on the mouth.
- Why was Nebuchadnezzar not permitted to write songs of praise to Elohim?
- A heathen might well write a literary work that far outshines the excellence of the Psalms, but the literary style is not the hallmark of Tehillim.
- It is not so much what King David said, as when he said it.
- Anyone can rapturously extol Elohim when he sits securely, watching miracles occur, but it is only the rare, unique individual who can continue to sing even when he falls, even after he is crushed and beaten.
- The sending of the angel was YHWH’s way of asking, “Do you really wish to write sacred music for me? If so, you will do it after I silence you.”
- He did not after being silenced, proving that the depth of his intent was shallow.
- Throughout his life, King David incessantly begged Elohim to care for him as a father cares for his son, to guide him on the straight path.
Psalms 27:10; “Though my father and mother have forsaken me, YHWH will gather me in.”
- YHWH responded as a loving parent and led his child through many joys and heartaches. Psalms 2:7; “I am obligated to proclaim: YHWH said to me, ‘You are my son, I have begotten you this day.’”
- Elohim also promised David that He would continue to maintain his close relationship with his descendants as well. Samuel 7:14-15; “I will be like a father to him, and he will be like a son to me; If he will commit iniquity, I will rebuke him with the rod of men and with the plagues of mankind. But My kindness shall not depart from him…”
- Plagues and punishing rods are a part of the unsurpassed kindness of a loving father who does not withhold beating his son if that is the way to guide him t perfection.
- Anytime a son strays and loses sight of his father’s instruction, he receives a blow to forcefully remind him that he must conform to his father’s path.
- In all the Scriptures we find no one who was afflicted as much as David.
• No one was so misunderstood
• No one had so many enemies
• Job’s suffering was intense, but only lasted a short time.
- King David’s life was an endless succession of misfortune.
Psalms 119:28; “My soul drips from agony.”
My soul drips from the disasters which overwhelm me. No year passes without bad news. There is no day without misfortune. Woe upon woe!!
- But there is no one who appreciates the benefits of affliction as much as King David.
• Job lashed out and complained
• Abraham laughed for joy
• King Chizkiyah begged for the beatings to stop.
- Yet David wrote, as if saying, “Why does the whip sit idle on the wall? Beat me with it!!”
- It is recorded in rabbinical literature that King David said, “To the Holy One, blessed be He, show me the open gate, which leads a man straight into the World to Come. The Holy One, blessed be He replied, ‘David, if eternal life is your wish, then affliction must be your wish.’”
- A characteristic of a man who is on the straight path is a man with a disposition that loves rebuke and correction.
Proverbs 12:1; “He who loves discipline loves knowledge (literally Torah).”
Proverbs 15:12; “A scoffer does not like his being reproved; he will not go to the wise.”
- “For when there is rebuke in the world, Elohim is pleased with the world. Goodness and blessing come to the world and evil departs” (Tamid 28a)
- Every beating, every rebuke, brought forth new waves of song from David’s lips.
- Elohim loved him so much, that he literally beat him onto the straight path.
Proverbs 27:5; “Open rebuke is good if it stems from hidden love.”
Proverbs 16:17; “The path of the upright is to stay away from evil, he who safeguards his soul will preserve his way.”
The Secret of King David’s Harp
Psalms 49:5; “I will solve my riddle with the harp.”
- If you wish to discover the secret of David’s soul, pay close attention to the working of the harp.
- The more vigorously you pluck its strings the louder it sounds, the more resonant its tones. Likewise the more Elohim tugged at David’s heart with pain and affliction – the louder and more beautiful were his songs. “Psalms 57:9; “Awaken my soul! Awaken me O lyre and harp.”
- The soul is aroused and stimulated in the very same way as the lyre and harp.
- This is the wondrous secret to Tehillim. David cries out in pain, yet songs of joy pour forth from his lips.
- His words ate those of melancholy and desire, yet a spirit of happiness fills every syllable. This is how he was able to compose songs while he fled from his own son who sought to kill him.
Psalms 3:1; “A song of David, as he fled from Absalom his son.”
- King David cried out, “Every night my bed I drench, with my tears I soak my couch…”
and still he maintained his belief that YHWH will hear and accept his prayer (Psalms 6:7-10)
. He spoke of affliction and praise in the same breath, because he understood the value of affliction. Affliction and acceptance are one.
Proverbs 3:11; “My child, do not despise YHWH discipline.”
- Rashi writes, “If suffering comes upon you, cherish it.”
- Chastisement is a constant reminder that one should repent. “If you despise afflictions,” according to the Sage Ralbag, “you will not receive the benefits they were to have brought.”
Proverbs 3:11; “Do not be disgusted with His reproof.”
Do not say, “How could I deserve such punishment?” It is Elohim’s way to be very exacting with the righteous. Precise punishment indicates YHWH’s special concern. King David knew this truth.
- King David possessed the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but YHWH does not allow this precious gift to descend upon one who is sunk in sadness. It descends as a result of joy derived from the performance of a mitzvah, as the Word says, “And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of YHWH came upon him.” (2 Kings 3:15)
- The basis of all prayer is to allow the heart to find happiness in YHWH.
Psalms 105:3; “Glory in His Holy Name, let the heart of those who seek YHWH rejoice.”
(Sources – Artscroll Tanach Series Tehillim & Mishlei)