Bible reading for April 21.
"And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan." (Leviticus 25:10)
Holiness brings joy to God's community. Chapter 25 gives instructions regarding the sabbatical year and the year of jubilee. We see here God's concern for the poor, for the care of the land, for the redemption of slaves, for the release of debts, and for redeeming property. Within the community, borrowing and lending were to be interest-free, and profit was not to be made at the expense of the poor. We will see a wonderful picture of how this worked when we come to the book of Ruth.
"The land is mine" (25:23). This is a point we often forget. The promised land belonged to the Lord, and he lent it out to the tribes as an inheritance to be enjoyed from generation to generation. Everything we have in this world is on loan to us. And we are stewards of this creation. Throughout Scripture we are reminded what the Lord says... "all the earth is mine" (Ex 19:5). This is related to the principle of the sabbath, that all things need rest. The land, the livestock, the servants, the poor, and the resident alien, all of them, need rest and refreshment from their painful labors. We who have been successful and fruitful should have a generous hand in relieving the toil of those with less. We may enjoy the good things God gives us in creation, but we should enjoy them with an open and generous hand.
"Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. " (Psalm 32:1)
"Confession is good for the soul." We hear this often enough, and indeed confession is a big theme in the Bible. It has an important role in the life of a Christian (1 Jn 1:9). But confession is more than good for the soul, it is vital to my relationship with God, for it restores honesty and transparency before him. In confession I am agreeing with God about who he is and who I am. It can be restorative, as in confessing my failure before God, or it can be declarative, as in confessing my trust in the Lord and what he has done. This psalm, along with Psalm 38 and Psalm 51, is called a "penitential" psalm, for it recounts David's confession of his sin and failure. It is more than admitting that "mistakes were made" or expressing regrets without really taking responsibility, like, "I'm sorry that you feel hurt". Confession is coming clean and being honest about ourselves before God and others: "in whose spirit there is no deceit" (v 1).
Covering and uncovering. The Hebrew word that David uses for "cover" (kasah) in verse one is the same word used in verse five. In verse one, it is the Lord who covers the sin of David (in forgiveness) and in verse five it is David who does not cover (or, who uncovers) his sin before God. The principle then, taking the whole psalm into account, seems to be this: what we cover (hide or deny) before the Lord he will eventually uncover (reveal) to us and others, often painfully; but what we uncover to the Lord in confession he will then cover in his forgiveness. What we uncover he will cover, but what we cover he will uncover.
No need for bit and bridle. I grew up in a horse-riding family. My mother [pictured above] was internationally accomplished in show jumping and in the fox-hunting community, as well as training riders and horses for many years. My brother and I [pictured below] were riding and competing early in life. As wonderful as horses are -- and they are among the best of God's creatures (Jesus rides a white one in Rev 19:11) -- most of them still have need of bridle and bit to keep them going in the right direction and gait. (You will notice all the horses in these pictures are bridled!) We are told in verses 8 and 9 that we should desire to live by the Lord's teaching and counsel (freely), rather than by his chastising discipline (forcefully). Confession is not a burdensome act, but a freeing one, so that we might know the blessedness of forgiveness (v 1) and experience the joy of walking with God (v 11).
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.