April 2010 • Volume XII, Issue 24
The Psalms Versus Common Grace (4)
After considering Psalms 5 and 11 by David, Psalm
73 by Asaph and Psalm 92, a "Sabbath day" song, we return to a Davidic
psalm, Psalm 69 and especially verses 20-28.
All agree that Psalm 69 is a messianic psalm. Verse 9a ("the zeal of
thine house hath eaten me up") is quoted in John 2:17 with reference
to Jesus’ first cleansing the temple. Verse 9b ("the reproaches of
them that reproached thee are fallen upon me") is cited by Paul in
Romans 15:3 regarding Christ’s sufferings. Verse 25 ("Let their
habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents") is quoted
by Peter in Acts 1:20 against Judas, who betrayed our Lord. Verse 21
is alluded to in all four gospel accounts of Christ’s suffering on the
cross (Matt. 27:48; Mark 15:36; Luke 23:36; John 19:28-30).
Read Christ’s amazing prayers to God (Ps. 69:22-28). "Let their table
become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their
welfare, let it become a trap" (22). There is no common grace here!
The physical good things of food and drink which are served at the
"table" are not given to the reprobate wicked in love; they are given
in God’s judgment, as a "snare" and a "trap" (22). Jesus prays for the
spiritual blindness of His reprobate enemies: "Let their eyes be
darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to
shake" (23). Psalm 69:22-23 is quoted in Romans 11:9-10.
Psalm 69 opposes the free offer, an alleged desire of God to save the
reprobate. In verse 24, Christ prays that the wicked be punished in
hell: "Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful
anger take hold of them." In verse 27, Jesus prays that they not be
justified and forgiven: "Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let
them not come into thy righteousness." In verse 28, our Lord prays
that they have no part in the roll of heaven: "Let them be blotted out
of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous."
Christ’s prayers are only for the elect: "I pray for them: I pray not
for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are
thine" (John 17:9). Christ’s prayers are only against the reprobate
Like Psalm 22, Psalm 69 is a song of the cross. Christ’s petitions to
God (22-28) come just after verses in which He is reproached by His
enemies (19-20), left without comforters (20) and given vinegar to
drink on the cross (21). This passage teaches the biblical and
Reformed doctrine of particular atonement. Especially since Jesus
prays for the destruction of the reprobate (22-28), including Judas
(25; Acts 1:20), while He was on the cross, He did not die for
everybody. As He bears God’s wrath against the sins of His people,
Christ opposes the notion that God wants to save everybody (Ps.
69:23-24, 27-28). While suffering hellish agonies on behalf of His
church, Christ even made time to pray against the reprobate wicked and
oppose the error of common grace (22). Thus Psalm 69 teaches Christ’s
particular atonement, particular intercession and particular grace for
the elect alone. It even presents Christ praying against common grace
and the free offer as He is crucified (22-28).
The only way to know God’s love and blessing is through faith in Jesus
Christ. Because of the fall, the human race is under the curse of God.
By His effectual, saving death on the cross, the Lord Jesus bore God’s
curse for His people so that God’s blessing comes to those who are in
Christ. Any doctrine of a love of God or a blessing of God for the
reprobate, not only denies God’s perfect justice—for how can God love
and speak good about totally depraved, reprobate sinners?—but also
slights the glory of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. Christ
alone mediates God’s love and blessing to believers! Thus, the
philosophy that God loves and blesses people outside of Jesus Christ
attacks the gospel. If God really loves them—and His love is divine:
eternal, unchangeable and powerful—surely He will not allow them to
perish in hell. Thus the advocates of common grace, especially as they
go further down this line, are increasingly teaching that there is a
sense in which Jesus died for everybody or even that Christ actually
died for all men head for head. Believing in a love of God for all and
a cross for all, it is more and more being suggested, and even
affirmed, that those who remain in other religions or none may
ultimately be saved.
The canonical significance of the book of Psalms is that it is the
church’s song book, a book of worship, devotion, praise and prayer, as
we lift up our hearts and voices in melody to God. Psalms 5 and 11
teach a hatred of God for some and oppose a love of God for everybody.
Who would sing this? Psalm 73 and 92 are against the notion that the
good things that God gives to the reprobate come out of a divine love
for them. Many would not want to worship the Almighty using these
inspired words. Psalm 69 contains the prayers of Christ on the cross
against common grace and the free offer. Sadly, this Word of God in
the church’s inspired song book offends many professing Christians.
Do you worship God singing these Psalms? David did. Asaph did. The
church in the Old Testament and New Testament did. Many faithful
churches do today. However, many slight the Psalms and especially
those Psalms that we have been considering. Such Psalms would kill the
supposed worship of many professing Christian churches. The #1 heresy
in modern, evangelical, uninspired hymnody is a universal love of God.
Most hymnbooks are filled with it. John and Charles Wesley wrote their
hymns to promote Arminianism’s universal love of God and to attack
predestination. The Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster’s hymnal is
riddled with Arminian ideas (www.cprf.co.uk/articles/freepresbyterianhymnal.htm)
and most hymnals are worse. As a church departs, the Psalms are first
slighted and then largely ignored; in come the Arminian hymns,
designed to present a nicer, cosier god and to make people feel good.
Let us return to the Psalms and their humbling presentation of the
glory of God and His sovereign, particular grace in Jesus Christ, over
against common grace and the free offer. Rev. Stewart
Job: History or Allegory?
One of our readers asked, "Is the book of Job a
true story or an allegory?" In the last News, I defended the
historicity of the book of Job and noted James 5:11’s important
commentary and very practical application to us in the new
dispensation. But we must also have an overview of the book, if we are
to appreciate this Word of God.
Job suffered as few saints are called to suffer. He lost everything he
possessed, including his ten children, and, in a certain sense, his
wife, for she never once offered him a word of comfort but only added
to his torture. He was stricken with boils so that his excruciating
pain left even the three friends speechless for a whole week. All this
is presented in the book as coming from God’s hand. True, Satan
brought it on in his hateful spite of God and of Job, but the devil
could do nothing but what the Most High enabled him to do. Job himself
recognized that all came from God.
Job’s three friends persecuted him with their lengthy, sometimes
sarcastic and always cruel speeches, for they wrongfully accused Job
of being so terribly afflicted because he had sinned
grievously—something which the book itself clearly shows to be false
(Job 1:1, 8). Their sin was so great that Job had to make special
sacrifices for them or they would have gone to hell for what they had
In his responses in the agony of his suffering, Job did not himself
always say what was right. He sometimes sinned as, for example, when
he cursed the day of his birth (3:1-26). But one point Job continued
to make throughout all his suffering: He did not know why the Lord
sent such great afflictions, but he did know they came from God. As
Luther points out, sacrifices had to be made for Job’s three friends,
but no sacrifices had to be made for Job’s wrong words, because Job
believed absolutely in the sovereignty of God.
Job’s sin was also that he wanted to know from God the reason for his
suffering. He implored God to make this reason known to him. He, in
effect, insisted that if only he knew, he could bear it all. He wanted
to summon God into the dock, so to speak, and require Him to give an
account of the reasons for Job’s suffering (23:1-9). But he tells us
that he could not find God, no matter where he looked.
Yet, as James 5:11 reminds us, Job was outstanding for his patience.
One must remember that patience is the spiritual ability to bear up
under "the mighty hand of God" (I Peter 5:6). And to do so without
criticism, complaint or rebellion.
In patience, Job made some remarkable confessions. At the very
beginning of his trial, Job "arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved
his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said,
Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return
thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the
name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God
foolishly" (Job 1:20-22).
Even when he wanted to summon God to the witness stand, he still
added, "But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I
shall come forth as gold" (23:10). In such suffering as he endured,
his patience shone through in a willing submission to God’s way:
"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (13:15).
Finally, there is Job’s stirring and deeply moving confession of hope
in his Saviour. After mournfully reciting all the suffering he was
called to endure at the hands of those that claimed to be his family
and friends (19:1-20), and after, with almost unbearable poignancy,
begging for a show of pity (19:21-22), he confessed his great hope
with such assurance that he wanted his words to be preserved forever
in stone (as indeed they were in an even more permanent way when God
infallibly inspired this wonderful book): "For I know that my redeemer
liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and
though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I
see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and
not another; though my reins be consumed within me" (19:25-27).
The story is told of a rehearsal in England for a rendition of
Handel’s Messiah. The soprano was singing that moving aria "I know
that my Redeemer liveth," when the conductor suddenly stopped her.
With a puzzled look on his face, he asked, "Do you believe what you
are singing?" She responded, "Yes, I do." The conductor replied, "Then
sing it that way." There was not in the entire orchestra, so the story
goes, one dry eye. Job’s wonderful confession has not ceased to thrill
the souls of God’s people and bring them comfort as they stood on the
edge of the grave.
God’s answer to Job is striking and powerful—and goes a long way to
explain what patience in the life of the believer really is. The gist
of God’s words to Job is, if I may put it bluntly: "Job, who do you
think you are? Do you really think that you can summon the sovereign
Creator and Sustainer of heaven and earth into a witness stand that
you have set up? I am under no obligation at all to explain to you
what I do. You are less than a speck of dust and I am the infinite
God. I need give no account to you of My actions. It is wrong of you,
terribly wrong, to demand that I do this."
What was Job’s response? "I know that thou canst do every thing, and
that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth
counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood
not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech
thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto
me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye
seeth thee. Wherefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes"
The great truth of the book of Job is that God does what He wills in
the lives of His people, even bringing them great suffering. But He
has pity on us in our suffering and causes us to suffer as we do
because this is the only way we can be saved. We learn from Job
that the "end [i.e., purpose] of the Lord" is to show us His great
mercy that saves us from our misery (James 5:11), especially the
misery of our sin, and brings us to Himself in everlasting covenant
fellowship through Christ, who will vindicate our cause before all the
wicked at the general resurrection. All of what I have written about
this wonderful book of Job is true because the narrative of Job
records real history. Prof. Hanko
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