Summary: The Lord is worthy of praise for his works in defeating his enemies and nourishing the righteous.
We’ll take a short break from John this morning, but we’ll stay on the theme of fruit and spiritual life in the vine. I’d like to flip back a little into the Old Testament and have a look at Psalm 92 which is introduced as a song for the Sabbath day. The Sabbath was an important part of Jewish life, and it was a legal requirement under the Law of Moses. Anyone who failed to rest on that day was subject to death by stoning, and that actually happened to one certain man who was caught carrying a load of sticks (Num. 15:32-36). That certainly seems excessive, and we might shrug and say, “Well, it was just disobedience,” but what if there’s more to it than that?
What if the Sabbath foreshadows a greater spiritual purpose? If you’ll think back to Genesis, you’ll remember that the LORD created everything in six days, and then he rested: “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Gen. 2:3). So, God works six days and then rests on the seventh because there was nothing left to add.
He then commands Israel to do the same: they labor throughout the week, and then they spend the final day at rest contemplating what it means to have rest and be finished with work. Look at Deuteronomy 5:14-15 and see that the Israelites were to observe the Sabbath because they had been freed from slavery. God ties their bondage to the Sabbath day because slaves don’t get a day off to rest, but God broke their shackles and brought them into a good land where they were no longer slaves. Now they work six days and rest on the seventh to remember that the work is done!
In John 15 we read that Jesus is the vine, and that we bear good fruit in him. He says, “I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain (v. 16). He also promises his disciples that they’ll suffer persecution, “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (16:33). We’re guaranteed righteousness and victory over our enemies, and this is our hope in Christ.
Now, let’s read this Psalm and see how it fits in with John 15. First, let’s read the whole thing and take a quick look at its three main points:
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: 2To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, 3Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound. 4For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. 5O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. 6A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this. 7When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever: 8But thou, LORD, art most high for evermore.9For, lo, thine enemies, O LORD, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. 10But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil. 11Mine eye also shall see my desire on mine enemies, and mine ears shall hear my desire of the wicked that rise up against me.12The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; 15To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
If we had to summarize this into one sentence I think we could say “the Lord is worthy of praise for his works in defeating his enemies and nourishing the righteous.” This man sits in his home on Saturday with a week’s worth of work behind him contemplating the meaning of the required day of rest: “God has worked, and that gives me hope; praise the Lord!”
Now, let’s go over each verse again and look a little more thoroughly:
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: 2To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, 3Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.