To download the Bible reading plan that our faith family started on January 1st, visit this site. There is also a guide to personal worship that you can download from that site. If you haven’t been reading along thus far, no worries! Jump on in with the current day’s reading.
Readings for This Week
Deuteronomy 6-12, and Psalm 89-98
Where We Are In The Story (Deuteronomy)
Background of Deuteronomy: Deuteronomy picks up with Moses’ word from the Lord to the Israelites at Mount Horeb at the end of their forty years of wilderness wanderings.Deuteronomy presents the Law (much of what is in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers) in a preached format, and it contains three of Moses’ sermons to the people of Israel that both rehearse their history and instruct them in how they are to live as God’s people in the Land of Promise. While Moses wrote this book, the end of the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy) has an unnamed author since Moses did not write about his own death in Deuteronomy 34.
Structure of Deuteronomy:
- Deuteronomy 1:1-4:49 reviews Israel’s history from Mt. Sinai through their wilderness wanderings.
- Deuteronomy 5-28 rehearses God’s covenant with Israel and exhorts the people to keep the covenant.
- Deuteronomy 29-30 records a renewal of the covenant between God and Israel.
- Deuteronomy 31-34 reports Joshua’s succession of Moses, Joshua’s commission, a song of Moses, and the death of Moses.
This Week in Deuteronomy: With Deuteronomy 5 rehearsing the Ten Commandments, Deuteronomy 6 lays out other stipulations of God’s covenant with His people, and it emphasizes the importance of relaying God’s laws and works to each generation so that they would know He is Lord and walk in obedience. Deuteronomy 5-12 lays out blessings and curses related to God’s covenant with Israel. If the people trusted and obeyed the Lord, He would give them the Promised Land, multiply their descendants, and cause them to prosper. However, disobedience would bring destruction. Throughout this week’s readings, a connection exists between love for God and obedience to God, which supports Jesus’ statement in John 14:21a that “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.” We do not obey out of duty but out of a delight in God and a desire to demonstrate our love for Him.
Moses points the people to God’s faithfulness to His people in the past (specifically, with the Exodus and with providing for them in the wilderness) as a basis for them to trust Him to keep His promises to give them the land. As they move to take the land of Canaan, Moses reminds them that God would destroy their enemies. Conquest would not be dependent upon their military strength, and Moses warns against any pride in themselves, explaining that their pride would lead them to idolatry and judgment.
When reading the covenant curses and blessings, it is important to remember that these promises are specifically for the people under this particular covenant (the Sinaitic Covenant). Therefore, we as modern believers do not have the promise that our obedience will lead to “health and wealth.” In contrast, obedience to God often brings adversity or persecution upon Christ-followers. Also, it is important to reflect on why God even made such promises to Israel in the first place. As Deuteronomy 6-12 indicates, God chose Israel to be the people through whom He would bring the Messiah. Blessing and multiplying the Israelites was part of God’s program, a redemptive plan that involved choosing a man (Abraham) whom He would bless, whose descendants would become a nation (Israel), and from whom God would bring forth the One would save sinners. As we read through the Bible, it’s not that God wanted to bless the Israelites and not bless believers on this side of the cross. Rather, we should remember that His blessings are not always material. Wealth is not the definition of God’s blessings, nor is it a constant reward for obedience. Both Scripture and life experience demonstrate that wealth can be attributed to both the wicked and the righteous; therefore, prosperity should neither be a motivator for obedience nor a barometer of God’s opinion of us.
Where We Are In The Story (Psalms)
Background & Structure of Psalms: God used many different writers to write Psalms: David, Moses, the sons of Korah, Asaph, etc. The book is arranged in five parts, and this arrangement occurred after the people of Israel returned to the land after the Babylonian exile. A doxology concludes each book or arrangement of psalms (Psalm 41:13 for Book 1, Psalm 72:18-19 for Book 2, Psalm 89:52 for Book 3, Psalm 106:48 for Book 4, and Psalm 150:6 for Book 5), and the entire book of Psalms climactically ends with a grand doxology of several psalms (Ps. 146-150).
- Book 1: Psalms 1-41
- Book 2: Psalms 42-72
- Book 3: Psalms 73-89
- Book 4: Psalms 90-106
- Book 5: Psalms 107-150
This Week in Psalms:
- While Psalm 89 begins with praise to God specifically for keeping His covenant with King David, the psalm primarily laments a time when Israel’s king had been defeated. This created a problem since God promised David that his descendants would rule and would continue forever; for a background of God’s covenant with David, read 2 Samuel 7. God’s promises to David remain unfulfilled and will not be completed until Christ’s return when His kingdom is ultimately established. While we do not know the time period or the king referenced by this psalm, it would have been written during the time period of the Divided Kingdom. After Solomon’s reign, Israel split into two kingdoms – the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). The Northern Kingdom remained pagan and was eventually taken captive by Assyria, and the Southern Kingdom vacillated between godly and wicked kings until they were taken captive by Babylon. Psalm 89 concludes Book Three of Psalms and contains a short doxology in verse 52.
- Ascribed to Moses, Psalm 90 reflects on God as eternal in contrast to humanity’s impermanence on the earth. Considering the death of a generation that Moses saw while leading Israel during its wilderness wanderings, he would have been familiar with the brevity of human life. Therefore, he asks God for the wisdom to live each day with thankfulness and faithfulness to the Lord.
- In Psalm 91, the psalmist expresses confidence in the Lord in the face of various types of perilous situations – traps set by others, pestilence, attacks, and battles. The psalmist sees God as both Protector and Deliverer for those who trust in Him (see also Rom. 8:35-39), and while the first thirteen verses are in the voice of the psalmist, the speaker transitions from being the psalmist to God in verse 14. In the Gospels, Satan quotes Psalm 91:11-13 to Jesus when tempting Him to throw Himself down from the temple (Matt. 4:5-6; Lk. 4:9-11).
- The superscription establishes Psalm 92 as a “Song for the Sabbath,” which means it would have been used in the Temple services on the Sabbath day (see Num. 28:9-10 for what would have taken place at the sanctuary on the Sabbath). Verses 1-8 praise God for His works, and verses 9-15 attribute the destruction of enemies to the Lord and describe the preservation of the righteous.
- An enthronement psalm, Psalm 93 celebrates God’s everlasting reign over the world, and it exalts His might, decrees, and holiness as Lord of all.
- Psalm 94 contains a national lament about wicked rulers who were killing the people of Israel (vv. 1-7), and the psalm warns the readers that nothing escapes God’s notice (vv. 8-11). God’s people need not despair because He does discipline, will not forsake His people, and will judge justly (vv. 12-15), and the psalmist gives testimony to the Lord’s strength and preservation in his own life (vv. 16-23). Despite the oppression of the helpless , the psalmist trusts God to avenge the righteous and to judge the wicked.
- In Psalm 95, the first six verses call the people to praise God for His superiority and sovereignty while the remaining five verses exhort the people to listen to the Lord and to avoid the unbelief and disobedience they demonstrated at Meribah (see Num. 20). In the psalm, the basis for faithfulness and obedience is the greatness of the Lord, and it demonstrates the severity of the consequences for hard-heartedness since the Israelites at Meribah died before entering the Promised Land. Hebrews 3-4 draws upon Psalm 95 in its discussion of Sabbath rest and its admonition that those who do not follow God will not enter His rest. While the “rest” of Psalm 95:11 is the Promised Land, the “rest” of Hebrews 4 refers to eternity with God in the heavenly sanctuary.
- Five imperative verbs dominate Psalm 96: “sing” (vv. 1-2), “declare” (v. 3), “ascribe” (vv. 7-8), “worship” (v. 9), and “say” (v. 10), and accompanying each of these verbs is the content of the praise and other instructions. It is instructive to note that Psalm 96 demonstrates that praise is meant to be shared and not kept to one’s self, for the the psalmist exhorts the readers to “tell of his salvation” (v. 2), “declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples” (v. 3), and “say among the nations” (v. 10). The psalm contains a missional element in that the praise spills over from believers and is relayed to nonbelievers, so they can know about this great God who deserves their worship unlike the gods that they already worship (vv. 3-6). The psalm also celebrates the day when the Lord comes to judge and rule the world (v. 13).
- An enthronement psalm, Psalm 97 describes the reign of the Lord and sets it forth as a reason for rejoicing. The psalm uses epiphany language (powerful manifestations of God) in verses 2-5 to demonstrate His superiority over all other gods and idols and to exhort people to hate evil and rejoice in the Lord.
- Psalm 98 urges others to sing praises to the Lord for His salvation and for His faithfulness to His covenant promises, and the psalm anticipates His return when he will judge the earth.