Bible reading for April 26.
"They shall keep guard over him and over the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle." (Num 3:7)
A friend and I were attending a Hokies' basketball game at an instate rival university a few years ago. Two men in front of us, noticing our colors, turned and said to us in a friendly way, but with no uncertain terms, "You're in our house now." The rivals defended their arena well, and we went home chastened with our loss.
Guarding his house. As I noted at the beginning of Numbers, the Levites were charged with guarding God's house and the people worshiping there. This word [shamar, "keep watch, protect", 8 times in this chapter] was the same word used by God to command Adam to "keep" the garden of Eden (Gen 2:15), that is, to preserve its holiness and to protect it from evil encroachment. (Adam failed.) God's sanctuary in Israel was the place of the gathering of God's people, the place of worship and sacrifice, and the location of the ark of testimony within the Holy of Holies. The ark was a gold-covered box which held God's written revelation, the ten commandments.
Likewise, in the New Testament, church leaders (pastors, elders, teachers) are charged with protecting God's house and words. They are to shepherd the people and guard them from false teaching. They are to teach and preserve sound doctrine. In Paul's last letter to Timothy he wrote, "Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you" (2 Tim 1:13-14). Pray for your church leaders that they would continue to do so!
Redemption of the firstborn. Traditionally in ancient Israel, the firstborn male of each family had a special position of authority in the family. In Exodus God called the the people of Israel his "firstborn son" (Ex 4:22; cf Col 1:15). The last plague upon Egypt was the death of the firstborn. In being spared from this judgment (the Passover) the Levites were set aside for the Lord as a redemption price for the sons who did not die in the judgment. This helps explain why the church of our Lord Jesus is called the "assembly of the firstborn" (Heb 12:23). They are those redeemed, who now belong to the Lord. We who have trusted Christ's death on our behalf are delivered from sin and death so that we might serve him in newness of life. Do you realize that you have been redeemed that you might live no longer for yourself, but for him who died and was raised for your sake? (2 Cor 5:15)
Fret not. This psalm is a wisdom psalm, comprised of a collection of proverbial sayings related to the topic of the prosperous wicked, feeling anger, and who shall inherit the land. This term "fret", repeated throughout, means to become vexed, indignant, agitated, or angry. It is a response that we may be tempted to have when we see the wicked prosper and have their way for so long. As you read this psalm ask, what are the reasons that I should not become so resentful and angry toward those who spurn God and who live in power and prosperity?
The meek will inherit the land. Several times in this psalm we are told that the humble, or the meek, will inherit the land. That sounds familiar, doesn't it? In the sermon on the mount Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matt 5:5). Psalm 37 sounds a bit like the beatitudes of the Old Testament. For the believing Jew under the Old Covenant the "land" was the promised land of Israel. That foreshadowed our inheritance under the New Covenant, which is the new creation (2 Pet 3:13).
What are some of the things that cause you the most anger as you look upon the injustices in the world? When does a sense of righteous anger turn into fretfulness or resentment? How do you deal with these feelings?
Image credit: painting above is "Shepherd and Sheep" (c. 1880), by Anton Mauve, courtesy Cincinnati Art Museum.
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.