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: In this section of Deuteronomy, Moses continues to relay God’s instructions for His covenant people as they prepare to enter the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 21 addresses an assortment of scenarios that are likely to occur as they live in Canaan – unsolved murderers, marrying female captives, inheritance issues when the husband has more than one wife, prodigal children, and the disposal of those who have received the death penalty. A common thread in this chapter has to do with purging the land of evil (vv. 9, 21, 23). Paul references Deuteronomy 21:22-23 in Galatians 3:13-14 in reference to Christ since He was hung on a tree and became a curse for us.
Deuteronomy 22-23 also contain miscellaneous instructions for the Israelites, and they all have to do with distinguishing the Israelites from the other inhabitants of the land and with them accurately representing God in their treatment of others and care for the land. God also regulates worship by stipulating who can participate. As an earthly representation of the heavenly sanctuary and as the place of God’s presence on earth, those who entered the sanctuary had to be pure and whole. Those with deformities were still members of God’s people, but they could not enter the tabernacle/Temple. For those who entered a forbidden union or who were Ammonites and Moabites were never allowed to worship in the sanctuary because they violated God’s standard of purity and holiness. The Ammonites and Moabites were descendants from Lot’s incestuous relationship with his daughters (Gen. 18-19), but they also mistreated God’s people on their journey to Canaan (Num. 22-23), which is why they are judged in this way. Again, they could become part of God’s people, but they were disqualified from entering the sanctuary grounds. While the Ammonites and Moabites were permanently barred from the sanctuary grounds, the Edomites (descendants of Jacob’s brother, Esau) and the Egyptians were allowed to enter and participate in corporate worship after the third generation of natural citizens.
Deuteronomy 23:15-25:19 contain twenty-two case laws, which are representative types of rulings for things that the people would typically face. The regulations concerning levirate marriage in Deuteronomy 25 are the laws that affected Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38 and that influence Boaz and Ruth’s situation. Deuteronomy 26 contains regulations for the offering of firstfruits and tithes. By doing this, the people were recognizing God’s blessings in giving them the land and providing for them as promised in His covenant with them.
When Israel entered the land, they were to erect stones on Mt. Ebal to remind them of God’s promises and the nation’s commitment to the covenant. God’s commands were written on these stones as a memorial. Once in the land, half of the nation was to stand at Mt. Ebal while the Levites announced the covenant curses while the other half of the nation stood on Mt. Gerizim while the Levites proclaimed the covenant blessings. Mt. Ebal in its barrenness represented cursing while Mt. Gerizim was more fertile and represented blessing. To receive God’s blessings, God urges the people to heed His commands.
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:
- Psalm 108 contains portions of both Psalm 57 (vv. 7-11) and Psalm 60 (vv. 5-12) and is basically these two psalms spliced together. Either David or another psalmist took two previous psalms by David and combined them into this psalm, possibly to celebrate some military victory since Psalm 60 is repeated here.
- Psalm 109 is the last imprecatory psalm in the book, and it petitions God to discipline one particular enemy of King David, although we do not know the identity of this person. Peter quotes part of verse eight in Acts 1:20 as he discusses replacing Judas Iscariot’s position among the Twelve after Jesus’ resurrection and Judas’ suicide. In verse four, the psalmist provides a helpful example for how to respond to anyone who hates, accuses, or opposes you – turning to God in prayer.
- A Messianic psalm, Psalm 110 contains many statements about the rule of King David that are also prophecies regarding Christ. In Matthew 22:41-46 and Mark 12:35-37, Jesus quotes this psalm in a conversation with the Pharisees about the Messiah’s identity. In writing of his own descendant, King David calls him “lord,” and David did so because He recognized that this descendant would be divine and an eternal priest. Hebrews 7 quotes Psalm 110 twice as it describes Jesus as the perfect and ultimate high priest who makes intercession forever for His people. It can be helpful to study Psalm 110 by examining what it says about the character and the rule of the Lord.
- Both Psalm 111 and Psalm 112 are alphabetical psalms in that there are twenty-two lines of three words with each line beginning with the following letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Both are praise psalms with Psalm 111 emphasizing His works and Psalm 112 focusing on the blessings that come to those who fear the Lord.
- Known as the Hallel Psalms, Psalms 113-118 were sung at the three great festivals in Israel: the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. They praise God for His sovereignty, for His deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt, for His power over all other gods, for His answer to prayer for deliverance, for His steadfast love, and for delivering His people from exile. These psalms were often sung before and after the Passover meal, and it is likely that Psalm 118 was what Jesus and His disciples sang in the upper room at the night of Jesus’ arrest (see Matt. 26:30; Mk. 14:26).
- The longest psalm in the book, Psalm 119 consists of 176 verses that are arranged in twenty-two stanzas of eight verses with the stanzas arranged in alphabetical order and with every line of the stanza starting with that letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The entire psalm focuses on the subject of God’s law, and it includes many features of a wisdom psalm.
- Stanza 1 (vv. 1-8) starts with the Hebrew letter aleph (א), begins with a promised blessing for those who keep the Lord’s commands, and includes the psalmist’s intent to praise God and obey His commands.
- Stanza 2 (vv. 9-16) starts with the letter beth (ב) and teach God’s people how they can remain pure – by adhering to God’s Word.
- Stanza 3 (vv. 17-24) starts with the letter gimel (ג), and in it, the psalmist requests God’s assistance in upholding God’s Word and notes God’s treatment of those who disobey Him.