Bible reading for Nov 8 -- 9
Nov 8 -- Hosea 14 and Psalm 139
Nov 9 -- Joel 1 and Psalms 140-141
"Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them." (Hosea 14:9)
ONE LAST APPEAL (Hos 14). "Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God..." (v 1). Hosea calls upon the nation to seek from God the forgiveness and healing that comes only from the Lord. They are to abandon their trust in idols and in other nations, and to find shelter in the Lord. God promises: "I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel..." (vv 4-5). They will blossom, and take root, and spread out, and be beautiful, and will flourish, and bear fruit (vv 5-7). And this is true of believers both then and now: "It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit" (v 8; cf John 15:5). The last verse, "whoever is wise...", is addressed to individuals: "let him understand..." (v 9). Though the nation, and its capital Samaria, would fall in 722 BC, many individuals and families might continue to walk in the way of the Lord and so have a future with the Lord.
THE DAY OF THE LORD (Joel 1). It's not known exactly when Joel was a prophet, though it seems likely he served in Judah and Jerusalem (3:1). The nation had suffered (or was about to suffer) a locust invasion and severe drought. This divine judgment upon the land was within the terms of the Mosaic covenant (Deut 28:15-24). The description of the locust army (v 6) is similar to the words found in Revelation, "...their teeth [were] like lion's teeth" (Rev 9:8). The phrase, "day of the Lord," means a period of God's judgment: "Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes" (v 15). The locust invasion we are reading about in chapter one would be as a type, or foreshadowing, of a coming global judgment, described in the next two chapters.
"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth." (Psalm 139:14-15)
FORMED IN THE WOMB (Ps 139). King David, feeling powerless in the face of an attack against him, nevertheless expresses his trust in God to guide him through it. He considers his prenatal formation within his mother's womb. At that time he was unaware, unconscious, in the dark, not in control, and yet, God puts his life together and ordains in advance every day that he shall live. This truth gives David confidence in the Lord to see him through his trial. The image of the formless being formed (or woven) brings to mind God's creation of a good world out of formlessness and disorder (Gen 1). The word used for "formed" (v 13) is also used for Eve's bearing a child (Gen 4:1), and of God's forming Israel (Deut 32:6). King David was the human ancestor of our Lord and Savior Jesus (Rom 1:3), who would then bring about a new creation. Is it possible that this passage is a foreshadowing of the incarnation of Christ brought about by God's miraculous wisdom and power? The fulfillment of our salvation began in a mother's womb, for it was said to Mary: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy - the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
GOD'S ATTRIBUTES. Psalm 139 naturally reinforces a pro-life viewpoint (cf Luke 1:41-44), but this psalm also exalts several attributes of God: his omniscience (he is all-knowing, vv 1-6), his omnipresence (he is everywhere present, vv 7-12), his wisdom (in shaping our unformed substance, vv 13-16), his providence (in ordaining our days, v 16), his infinity (vv 17-18), and his holiness (his hatred of evil, vv 19-24). David not only calls for judgment upon his enemies (vv 19-22), but also for God's judgment concerning sin in his own life (vv 23-24). He is not self-righteous or superior in this regard, but recognizes that God's people should have a hatred for sin wherever it may be found (Rom 12:9).
TWO PRAYERS FOR PROTECTION (Ps 140-141). These two psalms are prayers of David for protection from evil designs against himself. The first psalm (140) is about opponents who are planning evil, and the second (141) includes the evil that he himself is tempted by. He asks that his prayers be a kind of sacrificial offering, pleasing to God, like the evening incense offered in the tabernacle (141:2). Indeed, we see that the angels in heaven handle the prayers of God's people as holy offerings (Rev 5:8; 8:3-4). We as believers must be on guard from evil arising both from outside and from within ourselves. Our Lord has warned us that we live on a spiritual battlefield (Matt 26:41; Mark 13:23; 1 Pet 5:8). Ongoing prayer is vital to our welfare and ministry (Eph 6:18-20). In the prayer that he taught his disciples, Jesus tells them to pray, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matt 6:13). Ask God today for the wisdom, protection, and guidance you need for living in this world.
Image credit: photo above by Christin Noelle on Unsplash. 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.