Bible reading for May 14.
"For from the top of the crags I see him, from the hills I behold him; behold, a people dwelling alone, and not counting itself among the nations!" (Numbers 23:9)
TWO ORACLES. The chapter records the first two oracles of Balaam. This Midianite seer, despite his desire to curse Israel, speaks God's blessing upon them (see Gen 12:2-3). God is able to draw a straight line with a crooked stick (Spurgeon). Just as he spoke through the donkey, so now he speaks through Balaam. Read more in yesterday's post on the enigma of Balaam.
THE PEOPLE OF GOD. I'm struck by the language God uses to describe his people. They are a people set apart (v 9) and upright (v 10). God is with them (v 21) and has delivered them from slavery and made them like kings (v 21). They are powerful like a wild ox (v 22) and fierce as lions (v 24). These attributes contrast with much of the behavior we have seen, and will see, from the nation. Yet, in the midst of these descriptions we are told that God's word is true and his calling irrevocable (v 19; cf Rom 11:29). He concludes, "For there is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel; now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, 'What has God wrought!'" (v 23)
WHAT GOD HAS WROUGHT. Our salvation from beginning to end is God's work (Rom 8:29-30; Eph 2:10). We who have believed the gospel and trusted God's Son are already "seated above with Christ" (Eph 2:6; Col 3:1-4). This does not mean that the Father is not aware of our behavior as his children, for he gives discipline as we need it (Heb 12:5-10). But we are viewed by God through the lens (so to speak) of his Son, as those who are united to him forever. He sees the finished product even as we struggle in this world below. It's important for us to always keep our true identity in mind!
"Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!" (Psalm 65:4)
WAR OF WORDS. Psalm 64 is a lament psalm of David. The tongue can be used as a sword to injure and defame: whisper campaigns, gossip, slander, and just "giving our opinion," in the sense of thinking we know the motives of others and self-righteously assigning blame (v 6). King David in his position of authority heard this and felt its damage. But the promise is this: God will take the arrows of harmful language and turn them back upon the offenders. One day all the words spoken against the Lord Jesus (and every careless word) will have to be accounted for and taken back (Matt 12:36; Phil 2:9-11).
THANKSGIVING. Psalm 65 is a psalm of thanksgiving for God's bountiful blessing upon his people. David begins by thanking God for being called together as a worshiping community on Mount Zion, for having prayers heard, and for the blessing of atonement (sins forgiven)(vv 1-4). He goes on: the God of redemption is also the God of creation who provides for his people (vv 5-13). The Bible never makes a separation between the God of nature and the God of revelation. Many of Jesus' miracles demonstrated his power over nature: giving wine at a wedding, multiplying bread, providing fish to catch, stilling the storm (v 7; cf Mark 4:39), walking on water, healing diseases, etc. God's people, then and now, should always be thankful for the daily bread he provides and for the bounty of creation that we enjoy (1 Tim 4:4-5).
Image credit: Photo by Paz Arando 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.