Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
Psalm 92 is a song for the Sabbath, literally. The title actually reads, “A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath Day.” Indeed, the title has proven to be very accurate, because if we read Psalm 92 carefully, we can better understand the purpose of the Sabbath and how we should be spending our God-given day of rest.
Before venturing into our song for the Sabbath, we should understand what the Sabbath actually is. For the Jews it is Saturday, for Christians it falls on Sunday (that is why you’re expected to go to church on the weekend). The Sabbath holds a special meaning in God’s heart, and as such he has made it into a weekly holiday. Its origin extends back to creation. Moses explains how the Sabbath came to be in Exodus 20:11,
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
So, God has given us a day to commemorate his activities during the creation week and to follow his example of resting after a week of hard work.
The Jews consider the Sabbath as a day of not working, but this is not exactly its purpose. The Lord made the Sabbath as a day of rest for his people- a day he would very strongly like us to take a break on. God, through Moses, lays down the initial regulations for our weekend respite, “For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death” (Exodus 35:2). As you can see, God is strong on us taking a break. However, don’t think that the Lord just wants us to do nothing. This is not a day of living in fear of being stoned, it’s a day to stretch out and unwind. The Pharisees of Jesus’ time didn’t understand this and butted heads with the Christ a few times. But Jesus, who often did works of healing on the Sabbath, explained to them why God made his forcible rule of rest. We read in Mark 2:27, “Then he said, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’”
So, how should we spend our day of rest? We read in Psalms 92:1-4,
It is good to praise the Lord
And make music to your name, O Most High,
To proclaim your love in the morning
And your faithfulness at night,
To the music of the ten-stringed lyre
And the melody of the harp.
For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
Enjoy your day! God has given a day of praise to us. We can wake up in the morning with no work-based responsibilities weighing us down and we can go to sleep at night having spent a day not struggling to survive but just enjoying the day that God has given us. God doesn’t want us to worry on our day off. We can find this in the regulations for the manna God gave to his people in the desert,
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days (Exodus 16:4-5).
God actually promised to give the Israelites enough food on the sixth day of the week so that on the Sabbath they wouldn’t have to worry about scrounging outside for food. Sure enough, this is exactly what happened,
On the sixth day they gathered twice as much- two omers for each person- and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. He said to them, “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’”
So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. “Eat it today,” Moses said, “Because today is a Sabbath to the Lord. You will not find any of it on the ground today” (Exodus 16:22-25).
Just to make sure nobody tried to work or worry, the Lord did not give his people any manna on the Sabbath, he wanted them to relax and to praise his glorious abundance.
The Sabbath is also a day of victory. We read in Psalm 92,
How great are your works, O Lord,
How profound your thoughts!
The senseless man does not know,
Fools do not understand,
That though the wicked spring up like grass
And all evildoers flourish,
They will be forever destroyed.
But you, O Lord, are exalted forever (Psalms 92: 5-8).
We should spend our Sundays reflecting on the past accomplishments of the Lord. Obviously, one of the best ways of doing this is by reading his Word, as it is filled with stories of victories. By taking time to do this every week, we are strengthened as we go out and fight the good fight in the world. Paul writes in Ephesians,
Finally, be strong in the lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark word and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:10-12).
And just how do we put on the armor of God? Paul continues,
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:13-17).
We put on the armor by understanding all that the Lord provides for us and making connections with him through his Word. In fact, the Word itself is a weapon, so we can train for spiritual warfare before we go back to work on Monday by reading from the Bible on Sunday.
The Sabbath also commemorates a literal day of victory. When the Israelites entered into the Promised Land, their first military win was on a Sabbath day. Jericho was a city with a great wall surrounding it, and the city was on high alert, for they had heard of the Israelites destroying their enemies on the way to Canaan. In short, there was no getting in to Jericho. However, nothing is impossible with God,
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in” (Joshua 6:2-50).
Sounds crazy, right? But true to his word, after marching around Jericho for six days, on the seventh, the walls came down and the Israelites were handed their first victory in the Promised Land- on a Sabbath day.
Psalm 92 also helps us to understand that the Sabbath is a day of separation, a day of anointing, and a day of hope. We read,
For surely your enemies, O Lord,
Surely your enemies will perish;
All evildoers will be scattered.
You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox;
Fine oils have been poured upon me.
My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
My ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes (Psalms 92:9-11).
Evildoers and unbelievers are scattered before the Lord, they do not have the Lord’s uniting power, and as such, they have no support system holding them together. God actually calls us to take time and separate from unbelievers. In relation to the world, God tells us to come out of it. We can read about this in Revelation 18:4’
Then I heard another vice from heaven say:
“Come out of her, my people,
So that you will not share in her sins,
So that you will not receive any of her plagues.”
Most of the time, we are stuck in the world with all kinds of people. This is inescapable as we have to go to work and buy our food and whatnot. Frequently we socialize with non-believers as well. On the Sabbath, at church, we finally have our chance to come out of the world and appreciate that we are separate as God’s people.
By reading the Word (on the Sabbath or otherwise), we are strengthened and anointed by his grace. The writer of Psalm 119 says, “You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word” (Psalms 119:114). We are given the strength of the Lord when we trust in his Word. Not only that, but the Lord gives us wisdom and understanding. We read,
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
For I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
For I obey your precepts (Psalms 119:98-100).
By meditating on and studying God’s Word at church on Sunday, we are prepared to face a week’s worth of surprises and troubles. Likewise, by coming into contact with God’s Holy Word, we too are made holy, having the oil of anointing poured on our heads as we listen to the Bible at church.
It is easy to see that the outside world is in trouble. With natural disasters and the collapse of the global economy, we see discouragement around every corner. But fear not! For as we are separate from the world and holy, the fate of unbelievers is not the same as ours. Psalms 91:9-12 says,
If you make the Most High your dwelling-
Even the Lord, who is my refuge-
Then no harm will befall you,
No disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
To guard you in all your ways;
They will lift you up in their hands,
So that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
So the Lord gives us the Sabbath to remind us that in Christ we have protection from the curses that are falling daily on the world. As we enjoy our day off with God, we can remember that “The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy” (Psalms 145:20). So relax, you who are enjoying the Sabbath, God is watching over you.
Lastly, the Sabbath is a day of restoration. Our Psalm concludes,
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
They will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
They will stay fresh and green,
Proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no wickedness in him (Psalms 92:12-15).
Those who enjoy the Sabbath will stay green. We will remain green not only physically, by resting; but emotionally as well, because on Sunday we are freed from the stresses of life on this cursed planet. Spending the Sabbath praising and studying God keeps us growing in wisdom,
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
All who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise (Psalms 111:10).
Relaxing in the Word renews our strength,
Even youths grow tired and weary,
And young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the Lord
Will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:30-31).
And engaging the Bible (weekly at church or even daily on our own) keeps us fresher than those who don’t, for it is written,
Blessed is the man
Who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
Or stand in way of sinners
Or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in season
And whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers (Psalms 1:1-3).
By enjoying the Sabbath the way God intended it; with relaxation, praise, and studying his Word, our lives are greatly enriched. We find rest, victory, hope, and restoration. Truly it is a day the Lord has made. So, as the scripture says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).