From Psalms 103-105
Today’s Psalm is long and I don’t know who wrote it, but it reminds us of a couple important themes running all through the bible. Story and Covenant.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
105 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
4 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones! (Ps 105.1-6)
The Psalmist calls on his listeners to give thanks to the LORD and tell others about what he has done. For all God’s people this is something we can do. The Psalmist gives a series of imperatives. We are to sing about him, glory in him, seek him and remember what he has done. He specifically targets the ‘offspring of Abraham’ (Ps 105.6). However this shouldn’t deter believers today, because they are Abraham’s offspring as well (Rom 4.11-12; 9.8).
7 He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.
8 He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac,
10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.” (Ps 105.7-11)
The Psalmist begins to unpack why God’s people should do this. Because he is our God and he rules over the whole earth, judging it as He pleases. Importantly for this post, we should sing about him, glory in him, seek him and remember what he has done because He remembers his covenant forever, the covenant he made with Abraham. He starts of with the story of Israel, picking up with Abraham and the promise of land. Look at how he tells the story.
12 When they were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it,
13 wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people,
14 he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account,
15 saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”
16 When he summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread,
17 he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron;
19 until what he had said came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him.
20 The king sent and released him; the ruler of the peoples set him free;
21 he made him lord of his house and ruler of all his possessions,
22 to bind his princes at his pleasure and to teach his elders wisdom.
23 Then Israel came to Egypt; Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.
24 And the LORD made his people very fruitful and made them stronger than their foes.
25 He turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.
26 He sent Moses, his servant, and Aaron, whom he had chosen.
27 They performed his signs among them and miracles in the land of Ham.
28 He sent darkness, and made the land dark; they did not rebel against his words.
29 He turned their waters into blood and caused their fish to die.
30 Their land swarmed with frogs, even in the chambers of their kings.
31 He spoke, and there came swarms of flies, and gnats throughout their country.
32 He gave them hail for rain, and fiery lightning bolts through their land.
33 He struck down their vines and fig trees, and shattered the trees of their country.
34 He spoke, and the locusts came, young locusts without number,
35 which devoured all the vegetation in their land and ate up the fruit of their ground.
36 He struck down all the firstborn in their land, the firstfruits of all their strength.
37 Then he brought out Israel with silver and gold, and there was none among his tribes who stumbled.
38 Egypt was glad when they departed, for dread of them had fallen upon it.
39 He spread a cloud for a covering, and fire to give light by night.
40 They asked, and he brought quail, and gave them bread from heaven in abundance.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed through the desert like a river.
42 For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant. (Ps 105.12-42)
The story he tells has snippets of key figures and events in Israel’s history. He starts with Abraham (v9), continuing through Isaac (v9), Jacob (v10), and Joseph (v17). After Joseph Israel because slaves to Egypt (v23). So God raised up Moses (v26), whom he used to lead them out. The exodus (v37). This led to their wilderness wanderings (v39-41). Why all this? Well the Psalmist says because ‘he remembered his holy promise and Abraham his servant’ (v42). Israel’s story of salvation was in the end a reflection of God’s covenant faithfulness to his promises and to Abraham.
43 So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing.
44 And he gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil,
45 that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws. Praise the LORD! (Ps 105.43-45)
God’s faithfulness led finally to their entry into the promised land (v44). Which sets the two book ends of the story.
11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.” (Ps 105.11)
and (the story of God fulfilling his promises in the middle)
44 And he gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil, (Ps 105.44)
God is faithful. But the story does not end there.
Story of Israel
Israel remained in the promised land, but they forgot God. Like all of us they sinned and turned away from him. God punished Israel by sending them into exile, as he should punish all of us. But not before he made another set of promises scattered all through the Psalms and Prophets.
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer 31.31-34)
And when did this happen?
Story of Jesus
Well thats another story, a better story about Jesus.
He was born of a virgin in the line of David. The line of Kings. He lived and served the Father, by doing good, healing people of sickness, forgiving them of their sins, and teaching them a new and better way to live. But the rulers of that age rejected him. Just as we all have at one point turned away from the LORD. They made him suffer, the crucified him on a tree. He became cursed for us. He died the death we all deserve. According to the prophecies in the Old Testament, God raised him to life on the third day and he appeared to many. Jesus is the promised Christ, the risen king, our Lord and Saviour.
The author of Hebrews connects the concepts of covenant with Jesus.
6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. 8 For he finds fault with them when he says, (Heb 8.6-8)
At this point the author of Hebrews quotes the above Jeremiah passage. Then he says;
13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Heb 8.13)
How should we respond?
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb 10.19-25)
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