September 30, 2015.
Daily Reading: Psalm 105-107.
Background: Psalm 102-104.
Concepts and Connections.
Praising the Lord through history: This is a psalm of praise to the Lord, telling of His mighty works. The audience is are called to worship Him in the first stanza and sing of His works, that they might be known amongst the people. It is very interesting the focus on history that the children of Israel had, and they use history here to praise the Lord. One of the ways that stories were passed down from generation to generation was through song. We are called to remember the stories that we are given in the law, just as God remembers the covenant that He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to give them the promised land (see Genesis 17, 22). We are brought briefly through the story of Joseph, being sold into slavery, and the famine that would lead him to second in command in Egypt. We are taken through Israel’s move to Egypt, and the subsequent bondage that the children on Israel eventually fell into (see Genesis 46, Exodus 1). Then Moses is called by God to go back to Egypt to lead His people from the land and the plagues that the Lord brought on the land of Egypt that eventually led to convincing Pharaoh letting the children of Israel go, and they left with silver and gold (see Exodus 3-12). The story continues with the Lord’s tangible presence in the wilderness, as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (see Exodus 13:21), providing them with water, manna and quail when they asked (see Exodus 16, Numbers 20). Thus He brought the people out with joy, that they might keep His laws and walk in His statutes. May we ever praise the Lord for the great and wonderful works that He has done.
Rebellion and redemption: Here we see another psalm of praise that utilizes history, but with a much different perspective than the previous psalm. In the previous psalm, there was a retelling of the great works that the Lord had done and shown to His people, and there was little mention of anything that was negative. Here, the psalmist focuses on the mistakes and sin of Israel, and the cycle of good and bad that they continually went through. As a note, it is important to recognize that in biblical history, both the good and bad of the people are recorded, not just the good. This is different than the written history of many cultures, and gives evidence to the reality of the scriptures. Here, we see the iniquity of Israel, but this iniquity is juxtaposed with the redemption of God. Note the repentance that is implied in the psalm itself, as confession is made from the beginning. The psalmist goes though the history of Israel’s sin, beginning with their rebellion at the Red Sea when the Egyptians pursued them, though they had seen the great plagues brought on Egypt by the Lord (see Exodus 14). Yet the Lord saved them, and parted the sea. Then they sang His praise- for a while at least. They got sick of the manna that the Lord was giving them and craved meat, and the Lord gave them so much quail that it would come out of their nostrils, and because of their craving, a disease was sent amongst them (see Numbers 11). Then there was the rebellion of Korah out of jealousy of Moses and Aaron, which would cause the Lord to open up the earth and swallow the families of Dathan, Abiram and Korah (see Numbers 16). They made a golden calf as an idol when they thought Moses wasn’t coming down from the mountain (see Exodus 32). In each of these times, God was going to destroy the people completely and make Moses a great nation, but Moses interceded for the people and the Lord turned from His wrath. When they got to the promised land, they had no faith in the Lord that He would give the frightful inhabitants of the land in to their hand (see Numbers 13-14). They went after the false gods at Peor (see Numbers 25), grumbled at Meribah (see Numbers 20), did not utterly destroy the inhabitants of the promised land (see Judges 1), served other gods, sacrificed their children, shed innocent blood, played the whore and became unclean in all of their acts. The people of God, straying far from God. And so the Lord would send punishment when they rebelled, and redeem when they called out to Him. But they always forgot His salvation and went back to their evil deeds (see Judges 1-5). Still, the Lord would remember His covenant that He made with Abraham, and would look upon their distress when He heard their cry. He would show His steadfast love, and at this thought, the psalmist cries out once again to the Lord, “Save us, O Lord our God.” Blessed be His name, for His steadfast love endures forever.
Praising the Lord for His deliverance: This is a psalm of thanksgiving to the Lord by those He has redeemed, by those who He has answered their call of distress and turned their situation around completely. After the redeemed are called in to give thanks to the Lord for His provision in their time of trouble, the psalmist sets up four different situations that some found themselves in (or rather, got themselves into) that were situations of distress. Some wandered in deserts (v. 4-9), some sat in the shadow of death (v. 10-16), some suffered affliction because of their own sinful ways and still others found themselves in the troubled sea. Each time, the psalmist records that they called out to the Lord in their time of trouble and He delivered them from their distress (v. 6, 13, 19, 28). After this repeated phrase, the psalmist goes on to describe what the Lord did to turn the situation around in His glorious power. In the last section of this psalm, the psalmist highlights the ability for God to take a certain situation and turn it on its head. Just as He can turn the rivers into desert (v. 33), so can He turn the desert into pools of water (v. 35). He makes a place for the hungry to dwell, plant fields and sow vineyards and blesses the redeemed that they multiply fruitfully. He humbles the proud and raises up the needy and afflicted. The righteous see and are glad. Let us all praise the Lord for His steadfast love.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Proverbs 25.
Cry out to the Lord.