Meditations on the Psalm of the Cross

Psalm 22 Meditation 9: verses 25-26
Praise in the Congregation, Part 2

Introduction:

We have made a slight turn in the Psalm of the Cross as David continues to consider how this revelation of Christ’s suffering upon the cross will affect the people of God and how will it affect the church. In the last meditation of this series, we considered how David would proclaim or preach this message to the church, how this message would wistfully lead to praising God, and how the prayer is our chief response for such a salvation we have in Christ.

In this meditation, we will continue to see how this reflection on the cross of Christ leads to praise in the church. David does this in two ways, by once again focusing upon praise and then by showing us where we find true satisfaction. The theme for this meditation is, David shows us praise and true satisfaction comes from God alone.

1. Praise from God—v. 25

David once again takes us to the praise that one should find in the church of God, in the congregation of the Lord. So, as we consider this verse consider it with me by breaking it down into two further points. First, reflect on the fact that God reveals Praise to us in the Scriptures. Then ponder the fact that while in worship we are to pay our vows in service to the Lord.

1.1. He Reveals Praise to Us

25 My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;

First, David is speaking of his praise. This again is a change in voice of the Psalmist. Throughout most of this Psalm, David has been speaking prophetically with the voice of Christ. There is a change that happens between verses 22 and 23, and once again here in verse 25 from the perspective of Christ to that of David. While it is also true of Christ—His praise of God would be heard in the congregation of the Lord—this must be understood first of David. David’s words are being read in church, they are being used to sing praises to God while in church, and are being used to pray in church.

Thus, David’s praise is found in the congregation. Secondly, David’s praise is of God. This is the amazing part, for the subject and object of our Worship is God. Which has been true from the beginning. Shortly after the fall, mankind began to call upon the name of the Lord in public gatherings (Gen. 4:26). The people of God have always desired to gather to call upon the name of the Lord, and David is revealing his desire to do the same. We enter His presence to hear His Word and praise His name.

The only way we can do this in worship is due to God’s self-revelation of what is pleasing to Him in worship. When explaining the second commandment, the Heidelberg Catechism makes it clear that we are to worship God in the manner He has prescribed to us in His Word. Some today call this the regulative principle of worship. The Bible simply calls this the Law. God has revealed to us who we are to worship, God alone; how we are to worship, without any idols; where we are to worship, in the gathering of God’s people to call upon His name; and when we are to worship, primarily upon the Lord’s Day. We can worship God because He has spoken to us through His prophets and apostles. They have given to us His Word, which directs us in our worship. We can worship because God has revealed to us how we are to worship Him. Our worship comes from God, and we worship God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

1.2. In Church

I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.

First, David is the one worshipping. David pays His vows. He is speaking of his attendance in worship, and it is important because this verse is also fulfilled in Christ who never missed an opportunity to gather with God’s people for worship. David is making it clear he is performing his vows. This must mean vows are a part of God’s will for worship, and that includes the church today. One such vow we will consider in more detail momentarily is the vow of church membership. We must be committed to each other and to attending worship together. We must have this discipline of gathering for public worship, for when joining a church, we make a vow to do so. To not practice the discipline of church attendance will lead to church discipline. Vows are vitally important, for our yes must mean yes and our no must mean no.

Note where these vows are performed with those who fear God. This speaks of the church. As you can see in verses 22-24, those who fear the Lord gather to praise and worship God.

Therefore, the wisest thing for a person to do the moment they have made a commitment to God is to gather with God’s people for worship. Those who fear the Lord will gather with God’s people for worship. To those who have said things like, “I’m a Christian but I just don’t like the people at church. They are such sinners, mean, and unkind,” I’ll respond, “Whom do you think heaven will be filled with? Those people you see so clearly as sinful people are those people God has redeemed. They will most likely be in heaven, but those who defy God’s law by not gathering with His people will not be. Stop neglecting the gathering together of God’s people for worship.” Heaven, or eternal life, begins now. We experience a taste of heaven every time we gather for worship with the congregation of the Lord.

Consider some applications of this verse before we turn to verse 26. There are at least two important applications or implications of this passage. First, the making of vows is a worship experience. Simply put, the public declaration of faith is an act of vow making. You commit yourself not only to the Lord, but also to this public gathering together of God’s people. You commit yourself to this communion of God-fearers. The same is true of a marriage. There are vows made there as well. Sadly, people have found it easy to skip out on both of those vows today. People will change churches like they change their taste from a Whopper to a Big Mac or because of no-fault divorce, people will treat marriage as a revolving door. This is just sad; we no longer have people of their word and of honor.

Secondly, we are to keep our vows ever before us in the fear of the Lord and with those who fear the Lord. This is what it means to be a covenant community. When you make vows for marriage or church membership the witnesses are there to keep you accountable to each other. They are there to make sure you keep your word. This is why every covenant relationship has witnesses.

Creation is a witness to many of the covenants in Scripture. And you are all witnesses to each other’s commitments in the church. This is why when one falls into a sin, you must go approach them gently, striving to see their repentance bring forth fruit. It is when the church acts like the church that we will see true satisfaction.

2. Poor Satisfied—v. 26

As we break this verse down into three parts, we see these three things. First, we will see God desires us to taste and see that He is good. Then, we will desire to praise the Lord. Finally, we see eternity, life forever.

2.1. Taste and See

26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;

These words of David could be understood in two ways. The first way is at face value. The literal poor will eat and be satisfied. One of the consequences of the Gospel is that those who fear the Lord will be those who help those in need. They will be the hands and feet of the Gospel serving the widows, orphans, poor, and destitute. This is part of God’s call to the church: to help the afflicted and those in need.

The second way to understand these words is the way of the Beatitudes. Jesus would say blessed are the poor in spirit and blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. We must remember that those who are poor in spirit will receive the kingdom of heaven, and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied. These are wonderful realities for those who fear the Lord and place their trust in Jesus Christ. Satisfaction is found only in Christ.

2.2. Praise the Lord

Those who seek Him will praise the LORD.

Worship is the context. Those who fear the Lord are the ones who are seeking after God. The believers seek to be in the presence of the Lord. We must not think that this part of verse 26 is speaking to people who are seeking the Lord for the first time for salvation. No. Instead, we must recognize the calling of the Holy Spirit to gather into God’s presence where we hear the call to worship, where we hear the call to faith in the sermon, where we hear the call to repentance in the sermon, where we hear God’s Word, and where we respond with praise.

Only the people of God will seek to worship God in spirit and truth. This is what God desires according to John 4, and this is what the church gathers to do in worship, and in doing so, the church will taste and see that God is good. It is at this moment we can see that our lives have just begun. We begin to live forever now in Christ.

2.3. Live Forever

Let your heart live forever!

Here we have a wonderful close to our passage. Because Christian, those who fear the Lord will be satisfied when they worship God in spirit and in truth; we see here that they are the ones who will live forever.

We need to simply open these words up to see a beautiful reality for today and tomorrow. First, we recognize the requesting or supplication language with these words, “Let your heart live forever!” (v. 26) David is blessing the people of God with a reality of what it means to be in God’s redemption. You will live in His grace forever.

Secondly, recognize the language of the heart is to speak of the inner man, or the soul of man. When this physical body dies and is buried in the ground waiting for the resurrection of the dead, our souls will continue to live, waiting for that glorious reunion at Christ’s return.

And thirdly, this does speak of eternal life. We will live forever in Christ. This is true because of the resurrection of Christ, and by this resurrection we have the hope of everlasting life. Through the resurrection of Christ, we have the promise that this life is not all there is. We have more coming. We have forever.

Conclusion:

Recognize two simple truths from this passage. First, you are right where you belong. You were born for this time, you live for this time, and God has you in the Church to worship Him.

Secondly, we are going somewhere. This life is not all that there is; there is more to come. Christ left to prepare a place for us, and He promised to return to take us where He is. He has given to us His Spirit and His completed Scriptures. We have everything we need to understand what it means to live in Christ and what it means to worship God correctly. May we find ourselves in His Word, with His Church, and looking forward to life everlasting with our Savior.

Rev. J.P. Mosley, Jr.
Professor of Biblical Studies and Systematic Theology
Heidelberg Theological Seminary
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

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