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“His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.” John 12:16 (Read John 12:12-19)

Do you know what Palm Sunday and the events of that day are all about? Yes, you may know what happened on that day – how Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt and was hailed King of the Jews, but why? What does it all mean?

If you don’t know, you’re not alone. Jesus’ own disciples didn’t understand these things until after Jesus had risen from the dead and was glorified. As John writes, “then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.”

What was written about Jesus? From the Book of Zechariah, we see the ancient prophecy: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). We see these very words fulfilled; the people shouted words of praise to Jesus as the Messiah and Savior of Israel. They hailed Him as their King. And, Jesus was riding upon a donkey’s colt, just as the prophecy said and similar to the way King Solomon was made known as the king of Israel (cf. 1 Kings 1:32ff.).

And what did they cry out? John tells us the multitude cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” In Matthew 21:9, we read: “Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” Compare that to the words of Psalm 118:19ff. Hosanna, which is a call to the LORD to save now, together with the references to Son of David, King of Israel and He who comes in the name of the LORD is an acclamation of Jesus as the Messiah and promised Savior who would save His people and establish an everlasting kingdom (cf. 2 Sam. 7:16).

Thus, the events of Palm Sunday were a declaration that Jesus is the long-promised Messiah, the Son of David and King of Israel who would save His people and establish an everlasting kingdom. The people were calling upon Him to save them as God had promised. He was the one who would “redeem Israel From all his iniquities” (Psalm 130:8). And, this, just days before He was crucified and died for the sins of the world to provide that promised salvation!

And we too cry out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” We pray that He would usher in the day of our salvation – the salvation he won for us upon Calvary’s cross. We long for Him to come again and enter into the gates of the New Jerusalem and establish His everlasting kingdom and be our God and King forevermore! Cf. Phil. 2:5ff.; Rev. 7:9ff.; 19:11ff.; 21:1ff.; 21:22ff.

Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! We praise You, Christ Jesus our Savior, and pray that You would come and establish Your everlasting kingdom and reign over us as our God and King. Amen.

[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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1 Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty, 2 Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain. 3 He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters, Who makes the clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind, 4 Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire. 5 You who laid the foundations of the earth, so that it should not be moved forever, 6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. 7 At Your rebuke they fled; at the voice of Your thunder they hastened away. 8 They went up over the mountains; they went down into the valleys, to the place which You founded for them. 9 You have set a boundary that they may not pass over, that they may not return to cover the earth.

10 He sends the springs into the valleys; they flow among the hills. 11 They give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. 12 By them the birds of the heavens have their home; they sing among the branches. 13 He waters the hills from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works. 14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth, 15 And wine that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart. 16 The trees of the LORD are full of sap, the cedars of Lebanon which He planted, 17 Where the birds make their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees. 18 The high hills are for the wild goats; the cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers. 19 He appointed the moon for seasons; the sun knows its going down. 20 You make darkness, and it is night, in which all the beasts of the forest creep about. 21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God. 22 When the sun rises, they gather together and lie down in their dens. 23 Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening. 24 O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all.

The earth is full of Your possessions — 25 This great and wide sea, in which are innumerable teeming things, living things both small and great. 26 There the ships sail about; there is that Leviathan which You have made to play there. 27 These all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season. 28 What You give them they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good. 29 You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. 30 You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth.

31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in His works. 32 He looks on the earth, and it trembles; He touches the hills, and they smoke. 33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. 34 May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the LORD. 35 May sinners be consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Bible Study

Psalm 104 praises God for His mighty works in creation and speak of God’s design in creation as described in Genesis 1 and 2.

One thing which was a part of God’s design — either at creation or following the Genesis Flood — was to tilt the earth on its axis to give us the seasons of the year (cf. Gen. 1:14 and Gen. 8:20-22).

  1. How different would the world be without seasons? How do the seasons flow together for our good and benefit?
  2. How does the psalm describe God’s creation of the heavens and the earth (v. 1-9)? Compare this with Genesis 1:1-10. How are these accounts similar?
  3. How does the psalm describe the angels? See v. 4. What does Hebrews 1:14 tell us of the angels? Compare Psalm 103:20-21.
  4. Read verses 10-24. How does God’s design in creation, the seasons, the rains, the creation of day and night, work together to make God’s creation wonderful and work together for good? Compare Genesis 1:11-19.
  5. Who waters the earth and feeds and nourishes all of creation? How?
  6. Consider the spring plants and how they grow? Who brings all this about? And, how does it work together for our good?
  7. Read verse 24. How is this true? Is God’s design in creation simple, or complex with interdependence and, of course, full dependence upon the Creator built in? Compare Neh. 9:6; Heb. 1:1-3.
  8. What about the seas? Read v. 25-30. Do we depend on them? What do the seas tell us about the Creator?
  9. What is the great Leviathan? Do we know for certain?
  10. Read Genesis 1:20-25. Does this sound similar? How?
  11. Who gives food to all the creatures? What happens when God withholds His hand? When He takes His spirit from His creatures? Compare Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 3:20-21; 12:1-7.
  12. Who gave life in the beginning? Compare Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7 with Psalm 104:30.
  13. What does the psalmist say of the Lord in v. 31-32?
  14. What does the psalmist say he will do in v. 33-34? How long will he continue to do this? What about us?
  15. How can our praises and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable to the LORD God who made us and redeemed us? Compare Psalm 51:14-15; 66:18; Psalm 32:1-11; Ephesians 1:6-7; 1 John 5:11-15.
  16. What does the psalmist pray in v. 35? Is this a fitting prayer that we can pray? Do we ever pray the same thing? Why? Compare Matt. 6:10a; 2 Pet. 3:9-10; 2 Thess. 1:3-10; Rev. 22:20.

Sing LSB 804: “O Worship the King.” How does it reflect the words of Psalm 104?

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“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.” Psalm 19:12-13

So many times, we do not even see or understand that we have sinned. We don’t recognize our faults and don’t realize that we are unclean before our holy God and deserving of nothing but His eternal wrath and punishment.

When we read and study God’s Word, it reveals our sinfulness. The Holy Spirit, who authored the Scriptures, shows us what God desires of us and reveals to us that we do not measure up and have garnered the wages of our sinfulness — eternal death and damnation!

That is why David, in Psalm 19, says, “Who can understand his errors?” and prays that God would cleanse him from his secret faults — faults that he does not even see in himself and recognize.

This is also what we do in our general confession when we ask God to forgive us all our sins of thought, word and deed, both sins of omission and sins of commission. We ask God to forgive us all our sins for Jesus’ sake: those we know and recognize as sin and even those sins we do not know and feel in our hearts.

And, we are assured that God, for the sake of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, forgives our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (cf. 1 John 1:7 – 2:2).

Presumptuous Sins

David continues his prayer: “Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.”

“What are presumptuous sins?” we might ask. These are those sins we know are wrong and contrary to God’s commandments and, yet, we willfully choose to go ahead and do them, presuming that God will deal with us in mercy and not condemn us for our wickedness.

John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim’s Progress) once referred to sin as “the dare of God’s justice, the rape of His mercy, the jeer of His patience, the slight of His power, and the contempt of His love.” And this is a fitting description of presumptuous sins. Those who commit them treat the blood of Christ, shed for the sins of all upon the cross, as a common and worthless thing to be used as a license to indulge in the sinful desires of our flesh (cf. Heb. 10:26-31). Presumptuous sins are, indeed, the “rape of His mercy” in Christ Jesus!

And, of course, the Scriptures warn against them, telling us that, if we go on sinning wilfully after we have learned of Christ, we should not expect to receive pardon and forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice (Heb. 10:26-27; 2 Pet. 2:18-22). Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). To the believers in Ephesus, he wrote: “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them” (Eph. 5:5-7). To the churches of Galatia, he wrote: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).

That is why David pays that the Lord would hold him back from following his own lusts and committing presumptuous sins. He recognized that His sinful flesh longed to plunge forward into sin and He needed God to hold him back from such sin and eternal ruin.

David adds, “Let them not have dominion over me.”

David knew well the dangers of presumptuous sin. Going against his knowledge of God’s commandments, he lusted after Bathsheba and committed adultery with her. Then, he tried to hide and cover up his sin and ended up murdering Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to do it. And, had God not sent Nathan the prophet to rebuke David and call him to repentance, he would have been lost forever! (Read 2 Samuel 11-12.)

Sin is deceitful and, once we give in to its desire, we easily become entangled and enslaved by it. We know it’s wrong to drink to excess or take mind-altering drugs but, once we give in, we find ourselves giving in again and again until we cannot stop. We know that sexual immorality, pornography and adultery are wrong but, once we give in just a little, we become addicted and enslaved. We know it is wrong to be dishonest in our dealings with others but one deception leads to another and another. We know we should take the time to hear God’s Word and worship and serve Him but, once we start neglecting to do so, it becomes easier and easier.

The apostle Paul wrote: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:15-16).

Thus, we pray with David, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.”

We ask God to graciously forgive all our sins — both those we know and those which are unknown to us — for the sake of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, and God pardons our sins for Jesus’ sake. And we pray that God would keep us back from following our sinful desires into presumptuous sins which so easily entangle and ensnare us and lead us away from Christ Jesus our Savior to our eternal ruin!

O gracious and merciful God, we have sinned in our thoughts, desires, words and actions. Some of our sins we know and recognize and others are known only to You. Forgive all our sins for Jesus’ sake. Cleanse our hearts and souls and make us acceptable in Your sight through the shed blood of Christ Jesus. Keep us back from presumptuous sins and do not let them gain the upper hand and rule over us. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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