Bible reading for June 1.
"You shall be careful therefore to do as the LORD your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left." (Deuteronomy 5:32)
COVENANT RENEWED. Before entering the land this new generation of Israelites needed to know (and renew) their covenant with God. There are four observations I make in this chapter: A) These are the same Ten Commandments as in Exodus 20 some forty years before. God has not evolved in his thinking from a wandering desert deity to an enlightened city god. His moral nature, and his moral law, do not need updating or revising in keeping with different cultures (Matt 5:17-20). B) The foundation of the covenant consists in words given, received, believed, and obeyed. As God he makes his promises and reveals his standards. C) A mediator is necessary. There is Moses. There are priests. There will be prophets. There will be kings. But only One will come as the fully-sufficient mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5-6), who will be the Word incarnate and the only anointed Prophet-Priest-King. D) Failure of the covenant will be eventual but inevitable. The Lord himself says, "Oh that they had such a mind as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever! (v 29) The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. A new covenant will be needed: "I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules" (Ezek 36:26-27).
TAKEAWAYS. The Bible is one consistent Book with one main story-line. God is unchanging (immutable). If we are ever to trust God, we must believe his words. Salvation does not rest on our performance but on God's chosen mediator and the work God performs in changing our hearts. Salvation is a work of God from beginning to end (Eph 2:8-10).
"I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man who has no strength, like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand." (Psalm 88:4-5)
IN REGIONS DARK AND DEEP. The psalmist Heman uses many terms to describe his despair... troubled, in the pit, forgotten, without strength, slain, in darkness, overwhelmed, shunned, cast away, afflicted, terrified, near death, in dread, and under wrath. He prays (vv 1, 2, 13, 14), but there is no expression of comfort or confidence in God, as most other lament psalms contain. However, there is comfort here: this psalm is included in the canon of Scripture, it is a real description of a real person in real distress, and God does not chide, forget, or abandon one of his own in such deep sorrow. The psalm is an inspired account of how badly a child of God can feel. From other Scripture references we learn that Heman was a wise man, a believer, and was faithful in music ministry at the temple in Jerusalem. But this psalm describes a deep and dark time for him.
TAKEAWAY. We should be quick to hear and quick to have compassion on those in depression. We may not realize how deep and how dark it is for them. We certainly appreciate it when others don't simply assume they know our situation but instead take the time to really listen to us. This is a loving thing we can do for others. Also we can read biographies, such as that of hymn-writer William Cowper, to better understand these conditions. Throughout history, many gifted men and women of faith have suffered dark times of depression and even insanity.
Image credit: photo of Pluto's Cave in Montague (CA) by Ian Chen on Unsplash.
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.
The NET Bible is a free, online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.