Psalm 22:30-31, “A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.”
This morning, two blessed Biblical subjects press upon our mind, and they also happen to be two of our favourites. Quite often the subjects of finished redemption and church perpetuity are discussed apart from each other rather than linked. For example, church perpetuity would be established upon texts such as Matthew 16:18 with discourses and discussions taking in ideas like church succession (II Timothy 2:2), proper worship (John 4:24), and other like thoughts. Finished redemption would be established upon texts like Hebrews 10:14 with discourses and discussions taking in ideas like the spotlessness of Christ (Hebrews 7:26), necessity of blood (Hebrews 9:22), and other like thoughts. However, these two paramount Biblical principles can be linked – and should be – as we hope to discuss in this piece. The reason that these subjects should be linked is twofold: 1. The Bible does so, and 2. If we fail to perceive the Lord’s church as we should, we will begin to have skewed perspectives on Christ’s work, and vice versa.
There is no doubt that Psalm 22 points us directly to Christ. Verse 1 uses identical language to Christ on cross: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? As the Psalm progresses, we read the internal thoughts of the writer during his period of feeling forsaken by God. Therefore, looking at the succeeding verses from the first one, we read prophetically what Christ thought about while suffering on Calvary’s tree. We even read vivid, prophetic detail about the speaker having pierced hands and feet with his garments being divided and gambled over. (Verses 16-18) The speaker’s enemies are gaping upon him and reviling him with horrid behaviour. Indeed, all this and more was joyfully endured by the Saviour as His head was shamefully entreated.
As the speaker (David) progresses through the Psalm, it turns from thoughts of agony and disgrace to thoughts of ultimate praise unto God. There is a declaration coupled with the encouragement to praise God who is worthy of such adoration. (Verses 23-29) However, the declaration and encouragement of praise is in very broad terms. Words like world, kingdom, lands, etc. are used as descriptors. What the Psalmist implored in a general way was that the earth – in the fullest sense – praise Him who is worthy. Will all do this? Will all offer up the sweet smell of perfumed prayers unto the Almighty? Will all rejoice in His courts and enter into His pavilions with singing?
Arriving at our study verses, we see that the answer to those questions is: no. While the encouragement was general that people in lands, kingdoms, etc. praise God, the answer is that a “seed” shall serve Him. While this “seed” is not all that will house heaven some sweet day, they are a distinct group from all the world that serves Him, and specifically show that on some devoted points. This seed shall be a generation for the Lord, and we learn from the New Testament that this generation will forever stand and always be in this earth. (Matthew 16:18) As long as there is time, He will have a seed and generation in this world that serve Him and praise Him in the proper way. Looking at this seed, what does David give as descriptors of them?
Verse 31 tells us what this seed and generation does, and while these are not the entirety of their characteristics, they do show some very important ones. The first thing mentioned is that they come declaring the righteousness of the same One that endured such shame and humiliation. The very God that they praise is the very same One that cried out in agony and humiliation. Though He is Lord of all and richest of all, He freely became poor and suffered as the lowest of the low for us. (II Corinthians 8:9) This seed is identified as promoting Him and not themselves. The identified generation of the Lord talk about the work of God rather than their own abilities and desires.
In other words, what they come most wanting to talk about is Christ Jesus and Him crucified – the very same thing that Paul laboured for. (I Corinthians 2:2) Any gospel that comes declaring the righteousness of the sinner is not the gospel but a perversion and accursed thing. (Romans 1:16-17, Galatians 1:6-8) The way that they come declaring these things is shown by the last phrase of verse 31: that he hath done this. Looking at the language of that phrase, I believe no damage is done to the linguistics by saying that they declare “that it is finished.” By saying that He (Christ) hath done this, we are saying that He (Christ) hath finished what was required.
What we preach, or should preach, is that “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Whenever I hear folks mock and scoff at the church’s weekend meetings (sometimes going from Thursday night all the way through Sunday morning), they say, “That is so much church. A 20-30 minute sermon on Sunday morning is all I need.” Well, perhaps I need more, but Thursday night through a Sunday morning still does not render enough time to do justice to such a sweet story as finished redemption in the Person of Jesus Christ. Talking from now until the end of time (should that even be 100+ years into the future), we will never exhaust the rich storehouse of this story. Paul declares that blood redemption through Jesus Christ is according to the riches of His grace wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence. (Ephesians 1:7-8) How rich is God? How wise and prudent is He? Since He is infinite on all counts, there is still a vast, untold amount about Christ’s work for and to us that His riches, wisdom, and prudence entails. Time is oh too short to speak of it all and praise Him for all of it.
Notice though, that there is a phrase in verse 31 that also gives identifying marks to this seed and generation. They do not just speak of His righteousness through the finished work of Christ and what He has done. They also tell it to those people that shall be born. While our light should shine into the communities in which we dwell, here David shows where such behaviour begins. It begins in the home, with those that shall be born: our children. Should a man be negligent to teach His children the Bible and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, what reason does He have to hope for success in other places where He has far less influence and teaching ability? Indeed, our children may not ever be enlightened to the richness of the spirit of these things, but one thing that should identify us as this seed/generation is that we are faithful to fill their minds with these things and pray that He be willing to open their eyes to these things.
So, three marks of a faithful seed/generation is shameless declaration of the righteousness of God and Christ, centered upon the finished work of Christ for us, and teaching our children of those same principles that we love and are willing to both live and die for. We mentioned above that the link between church perpetuity and finished redemption was twofold. We have already tried to show in these two verses that the Bible links them in such a way. Marks of the Lord’s church that will be here as long as there is time is that families are together looking together at the work of Christ with praise, awe, and thanksgiving. What about the other fold: the loss of one leads to a loss of the other?
When a church strays from the thought of finished redemption in Jesus Christ, they have a improper focus on their Husband Jesus Christ. With an improper view of the Husband, how long does it take before there is an improper view of the bride? If we believe we have done something to get there, does that not also detract from our sight of His love? Christ told the Pharisee that he who loves his Lord most is he who feels forgiven the most. (Luke 7:40-50) If we feel less sinful by doing something to “help Christ out,” we will inherently love Him less than we would should we properly see Him as the Victorious Redeemer that did it all for us! With less love for Him in such a fashion, we will – by extension – exhibit less love for His bride.
Working from the other perspective, what happens when our view of the church becomes unfocused? What if we see her improperly? My late father occasionally met men (and I have too) that are most aptly described as, “They seem to love the truth of the doctrine. But, they seem to dislike the church and cannot stand His bride.” From his observation and mine, that mindset is short-lived, for a constant, skewed view of His church eventually leads to utter distaste for the doctrine. Given time, the unloving thoughts of His people lead to rotten doctrine about His work. Sadly, some have even wreaked havoc on their way out.
The Lord did promise however that no matter the persecution and distress, there will be people somewhere on this world praising Him as this seed does. My hope and sincerest desire is to be with the people that do, prizing their heavenly ways, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. May those lips forever repeat, “Jesus paid it all,” be free to declare His righteousness, and never negligent to bring my children up in the knowledge of the same. Truly, we have duties and teachings besides these to learn, but may we thank Him that His work is finished, and He has left an oasis here for thirsty souls to drink from and rest awhile in fellowship with each other and attendance from on high.