Psalm 92 - Sabbath Praise

INTRODUCTION: This Psalm is part of Book 4 in the Hebrew scriptures, and it is the only psalm within all five books of the psalms that specifically states that it is a psalm or song for the sabbath. Further, it is the only psalm that even contains the word sabbath while that word appears sixty times in the rest of the Old Testament. This Bible study is intended to be an overview of the entire psalm; therefore it will provide only a brief treatment of the sabbath as a separate subject.

NOTE: Bible text for Psalm 92 is taken from the 1917 Jewish Publication Society English version of the Old Testament, and that version assigns 16 verses compared with 15 in the KJV. Other referenced verses are from Bible versions as noted.


Psalm 92 JPS

1 A Psalm, a Song. For the sabbath day.

COMMENTS: The phrase "psalm or song" is used only in six of the 150 psalms, and for four of those the inscription specifically states that it is directed to the chief musician, indicating application in corporate worship. The cycle of a day of rest for every seventh day, was sanctified and hallowed by the Lord for man from the very beginning following the six days of creation. It is interesting to note that man was not even on the scene for the first five days of that initial seven day period, so man did not start his six day cycle of work until after the first day of rest. "And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it He rested from all His work which God in creating had made." (Genesis 2:3 JPS) When the Lord called his nation Israel out of Egypt, He supplied the bread of heaven (manna) and developed a discipline for the people to observe the sabbath even before Moses was given the law on the stone tablets. "29 See that the LORD hath given you the sabbath; therefore He giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.' 30 So the people rested on the seventh day." (Exodus 16:29-30 JPS) Observance of the sabbath day then became part of the law written in stone. "8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath unto the LORD thy God, in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; 11 for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." (Exodus 20:8-11 JPS) Judging by the inclusion of servants and strangers to be regulated by the specifics given above, it seems clear that this was to be a civil law enforced for all who resided in those territories under the control of the Jews. The following entry from the American Heritage Dictionary gives indication of part of the impact of a seven day cycle on western culture. "Sabbath n. 1 The seventh day of the week, Saturday, observed as the day of rest and worship by the Jews and some Christian sects. 2 The first day of the week, Sunday, observed as the day of rest and worship by most Christians. ME sabath OFr. sabbat and OE sabat, both Lat. sabbatum Gk. sabbaton Heb. shabba th sha bhath, he rested." Another interesting point from that dictionary entry is that the literal meaning of the Hebrew term is given as "he rested." In the Exodus 20:8 verse sabbath and day are used together, and in other references sabbath is used alone and is understood to mean that particular day in the seven day cycle. We could perhaps paraphrase Exodus 20:8 by saying "remember the "He rested' day to keep it holy." This is a commandment about man's obedience to the Lord God to commemorate that special rest.

In the New Testament, the sabbath day closed the week for the Jew, and it was closely linked with gathering in a synagogue, not at the temple. The scripture records that both Jesus and the apostle Paul entered into various synagogues over the course of time to interact with Jews on the sabbath. . Jesus made it clear that it is always lawful to do good on the sabbath, even if that seems to be contrary to Jewish tradition to do no manner of work. He also made this statement about the sabbath. “27 And he said to them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28 AKJV) But the focus in each seven day cycle shifted to the first day of the week for Christians beginning with the resurrection of Christ. "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils." (Mark 16:9 AKJV) "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the middle, and said to them, Peace be to you." (John 20:19 AKJV) Christians celebrate on the first day of the week, both the finished work of Christ on the cross to pay our sin debt in full, and the resurrection that verified His power over death and the assurance of our resurrection to eternal life. "And on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached to them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." (Acts 20:7 AKJV) "On the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” (1 Corinthians 16:2 AKJV) Paul further commented on the freedom Christians have because Christ Jesus has fulfilled the law for us. Therefore man should not stand in the place of God for judgment of another man regarding the law. "13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." (Colossians 2:13-17 AKJV) When Israel came out of the bondage of Egypt, unbelief kept many of them from entering into the promised rest. As we celebrate by faith the "He rested" day at the beginning of each seven-day cycle, we should keep in mind not only the victorious resurrection of Christ Jesus in our behalf, but also the promised "rest" He has gone ahead to prepare for us. "10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." (Hebrews 4:10-11 AKJV)


Psalm 92 JPS

2 It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O Most High; 3 To declare Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness in the night seasons, 4 With an instrument of ten strings, and with the psaltery; with a solemn sound upon the harp.

COMMENTS: The psalmist here speaks the thoughts of his heart directly to the Lord most high, and this is a good principal to apply in our weekly worship as an offering to our Lord. Meditating on the multiple aspects of the "He rested" day which shows His great glory, and our benefits by His grace, we should truly understand that it is indeed a very good thing to give praise for His lovingkindness each morning, and His faithfulness through each night. the "solemn sound" was the translator’s choice for a Hebrew term that carries both the sense of a powerful or resounding sound, and also a sound that can prompt meditation. how appropriate to tune our thoughts to an all-powerful God through beautiful music that is powerfully presented. Other psalms give praise to our Lord who is indeed most high above all else. "(7-18) I will give thanks unto the LORD according to His righteousness; and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High." (Psalms 7:17 JPS) The weekly praise and worship of Christians should be preparation of the heart for our proper conduct through the next six days until we gather again to worship. “14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:14-17 AKJV)


Psalm 92 JPS

5 For Thou, LORD, hast made me glad through Thy work; I will exult in the works of Thy hands. 6 How great are Thy works, O LORD! Thy thoughts are very deep.

COMMENTS: The works of the Lord's hand are everywhere present in the natural world, displaying beauty, diversity, and great wonder and mystery. These truths were the cause for gladness and rejoicing by the nation Israel, and they are the same for Christians. "O Lord GOD, Thou hast begun to show Thy servant Thy greatness, and Thy strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth, that can do according to Thy works, and according to Thy mighty acts?" (Deuteronomy 3:24 JPS) "(40-6) Many things hast Thou done, O LORD my God, even Thy wonderful works, and Thy thoughts toward us; there is none to be compared unto Thee! If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be told." (Psalms 40:5 JPS)

There is also great variety in many tribes, tongues, and nations of people all around the world; and He has called from each of these, ones to share in his kingdom as those who were created in His image. The apostle Paul was surely rejoicing in his heart as he wrote his spirit-directed words to Christians in Ephesus. "16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 To him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (Ephesians 3:16-21 AKJV) John's revelation to us assures that the worship and praise of the Lord's marvelous works will continue past this present age. "And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are your ways, you King of saints." (Revelation 15:3 AKJV)


Psalm 92 JPS

7 A brutish man knoweth not, neither doth a fool understand this. 8 When the wicked spring up as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they may be destroyed for ever. 9 But Thou, O LORD, art on high for evermore.

COMMENTS: The Hebrew word that is translated here as brutish could also be translated as fool. And it is interesting that the Hebrew root for this word means to burn or to consume away, which is what is happening to the fool who says in his heart there is no God, and the burning will continue throughout eternity. The Hebrew term for fool in verse seven could also be translated as dull, stupid, or arrogant. The couplet of both brutish and fool emphasizes the complete lack of wisdom for the one who does not "know" the magnificence of the works and thoughts of the Lord. Even though the wicked God-rejecters may flourish for a time, they are on the path that has been determined for them, and they will be destroyed forever. But the one they rejected will remain on high for He is the Lord for evermore. This should be a call for repentance to those who desperately need salvation in the Lord, and a reminder of what has been placed behind us for those who have received God's grace. Just two more verses to accentuate these points. "Consider, ye brutish among the people; and ye fools, when will ye understand?" (Psalms 94:8 JPS) "Whoso loveth knowledge loveth correction; but he that is brutish hateth reproof." (Proverbs 12:1 JPS)


Psalm 92 JPS

10 For, lo, Thine enemies, O LORD, for, lo, Thine enemies shall perish: all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. 11 But my horn hast Thou exalted like the horn of the wild-ox; I am anointed with rich oil.

COMMENTS: We need to see those who foolishly refuse God's grace, as those who have set themselves as enemies that He is completely justified to destroy. How could a holy god allow unrighteousness to remain in His presence for eternity, and still be totally holy? "For the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs--they shall pass away in smoke, they shall pass away." (Psalms 37:20 JPS). The final book of our Bible confirms this fact with a certainty that should be sobering to our thoughts about our own salvation, and the need of the lost around us. "14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:14-15 AKJV).

We should be careful not to minimize our own salvation by thinking more highly of ourselves because we have not done some of the things we consider more despicable than our own sin. There is no person righteous in themselves, but the good news is that Jesus said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:32 AKJV). And Paul reminds us, "But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8 AKJV).

For those who have received grace by faith, God will exalt them in His imputed strength of righteousness as symbolized in the fearsome power of a great horned animal. The anointing oil speaks of a fragrant preparation for important service, as pictured by the preparation of spice-laden anointing oil, and its use at the beginning of the Arronic priesthood. "oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense;" (Exodus 25:6 JPS). "And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and upon his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto Me in the priest's office." (Exodus 28:41 JPS). Christians are chosen in God, and are to serve in His priesthood. "21 Now he which establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God; 22 Who has also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." (2 Corinthians 1:21-22 AKJV). "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;" (1 Peter 2:9 AKJV).


Psalm 92 JPS

12 Mine eye also hath gazed on them that lie in wait for me, mine ears have heard my desire of the evil-doers that rise up against me.

COMMENTS: We need to remember the words of our Lord as he warned that the ones who hated him will also hate us. So, his enemies are also our enemies. But for the Christian, we don't see enemies as does the world, for the Lord also said, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him ..." We are to be "perfect" or complete as we become more like Christ. He is not willing that any should perish, so we should carry his message as salvation to all who have ears to hear.


Psalm 92 JPS

13 The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree; he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 14 Planted in the house of the LORD, they shall flourish in the courts of our God. 15 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and richness; 16 To declare that the LORD is upright, my Rock, in whom there is no unrighteousness.

COMMENTS: The poetic phrases portray lavish richness and vigor in long life for those who love the Lord, as a lasting thought to close this psalm. "He will swallow up death for ever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of His people will He take away from off all the earth; for the LORD hath spoken it." (Isaiah 25:8 JPS). "42 And he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. 43 And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, To day shall you be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:42-43 AKJV). "He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the middle of the paradise of God." (Revelation 2:7 AKJV). "These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 AKJV).


--- Reflections in prayer ---

Lord, I am overwhelmed as I reflect on all that you have done in creation, and in making me a new creature in Christ. Work in and through me so my words and actions will demonstrate the truth that it is indeed a good thing to praise the Lord. Your works and your thoughts make me glad more than anything I could possibly do or imagine without you. Even though many have material abundance without acknowledging you as Lord, they will perish and you will remain on high for evermore. You have given me strength through your Spirit, and you have anointed me for service in your kingdom as a chosen vessel. This causes some to oppose me because I am identified with you, but any distraction in this present world pales by comparison with what awaits me in your kingdom. Keep my thoughts on this truth since it declares that the LORD is upright, my Rock, in whom there is no unrighteousness. Then I will have peace in my heart despite any affliction, anguish, trouble, or persecution, in confidence knowing that you have overcome the world. Amen.

Published 5 March 2007