Bible reading for weekend Nov 5 -- 7
Nov 5 -- Hosea 11 and Psalms 132-134
Nov 6 -- Hosea 12 and Psalms 135-136
Nov 7 -- Hosea 13 and Psalms 137-138
"I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them." (Hosea 11:4)
GOD'S TENDERNESS (ch 11). What beautiful pictures of God's care we see here! Israel is a beloved child, and a son (v 1). Jesus -- God's beloved Son (Matt 3:17) -- in his own life recapitulates the history of Israel, going to Egypt (Matt 2:15) and being tried for a period of forty days in the wilderness (Matt 4:2). God is the Father who taught Israel to walk, and he is the one who held them and healed them, though they did not know it (v 3). Like a kind farmer he cared for them as a cherished animal (v 4). He does not rejoice to bring judgment upon them (vv 7-8), for God's holiness is not merely manifest in judgment but also in compassion (v 9). The people of God will return and be restored to the Lord. One principle we learn in verse five is that when people reject the Lord as King, they do not find more freedom but only more bondage, and to worse masters.
THIS GOES FOR YOUR SISTER, TOO (ch 12). While Hosea was ministering as prophet in Israel (called "Ephraim", which was the northern kingdom, the capital being Samaria), Isaiah was prophesying in the southern kingdom, Judah, with its capital at Jerusalem. Their common ancestor was the patriarch Jacob (vv 2-5, 12). Moses was the prophet and law-giver they had in common (v 13). Judah is doing slightly better than Israel but is given a warning (v 6). Meanwhile, the people of the northern kingdom don't think they have done anything wrong (v 8). However, Hosea and Isaiah are giving the same message to both, "I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior" (13:4, compare Isa 43:11).
WORSE AND WORSE (ch 13). To "kiss the calves" (v 2) is a reference to calf idols like Jeroboam set up when the northern kingdom separated from Judah (1 Kgs 12:28-32). Kissing these was an act of worship. There was a continuity, and a degeneration, from that beginning all the way down to human sacrifice. Israel's perversions had taken on the authority of an established tradition. The point is, the nation was actually getting worse and worse, though they were blind to it. They would soon go from their smug, self-justifying prosperity to the nightmare of verse 16. This brutal humiliation would occur in 722/721 BC at the hand of the Assyrians. One seemingly random statement (v 14) speaks of God as being the only one who can save from death. The Apostle Paul cites this in 1 Cor 15:55 in declaring that God, who raised up the Lord Jesus, will do so also for all who trust in him. Death will be vanquished at the end. Jesus said to John, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades" (Rev 1:17-18). This is the only hope for human history.
"By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our lyres." (Psalm 137:1-2)
SONGS OF ASCENT. The next three psalms conclude the Songs of Ascent (120-134). Author and pastor Eugene Peterson called these psalms, "A long obedience in the same direction." Each psalm had a particular theme related to being a pilgrim on the road to the God's city. The last three themes are dwelling, unity, and worship.
DWELLING (Ps 132). In the OT King David yearned to find a dwelling place for God, a place where he could be known and worshiped (vv 5, 7, 13). This is the city of Jerusalem and Mount Zion, where the temple was built. This has been the hope of all redemptive history, that man and God might dwell together (Lev 26:11-12; Ezek 37:27; 2 Cor 6:16). NT believers await the return of the righteous King, the Son of David, who will bring the dwelling place of God from heaven to man forever (Rev 21:2-4, 23).
UNITY (Ps 133). The unity of the Israelite tribes was found in the worship of the one true God, of whom Aaron was the first high priest. United worship in Jerusalem brought not only the tribes together, but also families and individuals. True unity is refreshing like the dew on Mount Hermon. We who believe in Christ, the eternal high priest, find in him a unity that he himself creates (1 Cor 12:12-13; Eph 2:15-16; 4:3-6). Our harmony in fellowship is a blessing like the dew from heaven, and we too need the shared strength of our fellow believers as we walk this road we're on.
WORSHIP (Ps 134). The pilgrims, having arrived in Jerusalem (perhaps in the evening), call upon the Levites who keep watch over the temple to bless (praise) the Lord even at night. And they express the wish that the Lord would bless those servants who keep watch. The final psalm in this collection speaks of a city where praise is natural. Once we taste the joy of worshiping God, and of being blessed by God and blessed by his people, we long to be there forever (Rev 21:22-26).
BLESS THE LORD (Ps 135)! Related to the theme of pilgrimage is this psalm of Zion. It's a psalm of praise to God for the privilege of standing upon Mount Zion (the temple mount in Jerusalem) and recounting his goodness and his work of redemption. Compare this with Hebrews 12:24-25.
STEADFAST LOVE (Ps 136). In every verse, for a total of twenty-six times, we are told that the steadfast love of the Lord, that is, his covenantal, kind, compassionate, faithful love toward them, would endure forever. The repetition of this phrase may indicate that it was sung responsively in the temple (i.e., call and response). But the point for us -- made twenty-six times -- is that God will never forsake those who trust him (Rom 8:35-39).
BY THE WATERS OF BABYLON (Ps 137). Another song of Zion, a lament, likely written during the Babylonian exile. It is filled with tearful longing to be with God's people in God's presence, singing joyful songs to his name. Listen to a rendition of this psalm by the Messianic group, Lamb.
HIS PURPOSE FULFILLED (Ps 138). Make this psalm your own prayer today! It's a psalm of thanksgiving to the Lord, who will accomplish all his good purposes not only among the nations, but also for you and me: "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands." (Ps 138:7-8)
Image credit: Cover of Lamb III album, courtesy City of Peace Media (2011). About this newsletter: I'm Sandy Young, and I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Subscribe for email at Buttondown.email/Sandy. 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. A very helpful resource is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.