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
Joshua 9-19 and Psalm 140-150
Where We Are In The Story (Joshua)
Background of Joshua: While authorship of this book is unknown, the book’s name derives from the name of its main character, Joshua, who was Moses’ successor in leading the people of Israel. His name means “Yahweh delivers” or “Yahweh saves,” which is an apt title of the book since it describes God’s work in defeating the nations of the Promised Land and giving the land to His people. Joshua presents the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give their descendants the land of Canaan, and it describes the military conquests that brought this to pass. Written as a historical book for Israel, Joshua also emphasizes God’s sovereignty, omnipotence, and faithfulness to His word, and Joshua 21:43-45 provides a fitting summary of God’s character as One who keeps all of His promises.
Structure of Joshua:
- Joshua 1-5 describes Israel’s preparations before taking the Promised Land.
- Joshua 6-12 depicts the military conquests of the nation.
- Joshua 13-21 explains the distribution of the land among the tribes, highlighting the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people.
- Joshua 22-24 records Joshua’s final instructions and exhortations to the nation before his death.
This Week in Joshua: Joshua 9 records the Gibeonite deception, and verse fourteen explains the crux of the matter: “So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD.” God had given them directions on how to deal with the people in the land and how to respond to other nations (Deut. 20). Based on their own wisdom, the Israelites assumed that the Gibeonites fell into the category of a foreign nation rather than a nation living in the Promised Land. Because of their deception, they were cursed (see Deut. 27-28). Nehemiah 3:7; 7:25 reports that the Gibeonites were among the Jews who returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile and helped rebuild the wall of the city, demonstrating that they had been assimilated into the nation of Israel.
While the Gibeonites deceived the Israelites because of fear, Joshua 10-11 tell of two groups of nations who opposed Israel in battle. The kingdoms mentioned in Joshua 10 were all located in the region between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, which is also where Gibeon was located, and soon after making the peace treaty with the Gibeonites, the Gibeonites called upon Israel to honor their promise to protect them. God demonstrated His power as He struck the enemy nations with hail and had the sun and moon stand still until the enemy had been defeated. According to David M. Howard in his commentary on Joshua, “A midsummer hailstorm would have been a rarity, rendering miraculous assistance in this instance. There are only five to eight days of hail per year in the coastal plain, mostly in midwinter…And even then the hail is not usually of deadly force” (p. 237). Yahweh rightly receives the credit as Israel’s warrior in this chapter.
Israel continued to battle against the inhabitants of Canaan and take possession of the land as God had promised. Although not all of the land had been possessed, in Joshua 13 God directs Joshua to divide the land among the tribes of Israel as Moses had directed (Num. 27:18-23; 32:17; 34:17; Deut. 1:38; 3:28; 31:7). Completion of the conquest depended on more than just military success; it also involved the people settling the land God had given to them. Joshua 13-19 explains the inheritance of the tribes and of Caleb and Joshua. It is important to note that Israel does not complete their conquest until the reign of King David (2 Sam. 8:1-14) because it was not until then that they were faithful in defeating the remaining nations.
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 140 divides into four parts. In section one (vv. 1-3), the psalmist petitions God for deliverance from violent men. In section two (vv. 4-5), he asks for God to guard him from the traps of the wicked. Section three (vv. 6-8) contains a declaration of trust in God along with a petition to thwart the plot of the psalmist’s enemies, and section four (vv. 9-13) continues with more petitions and concludes with confidence in God’s justice and righteousness.
- In Psalm 141, the psalmist asks God to sanctify him and to cultivate righteousness in him, and the psalmist requests that God preserve him and keep him from evil.
- Psalms 142-143 both include petitions for God’s deliverance from enemies and expressions of trust in the God who has preserved the psalmist thus far. The psalms stem from a believer who desires to faithfully follow God in times of adversity.
- Psalm 144 contains a praise report for God’s faithfulness in battle (vv. 1-2) and boldly petitions God to demonstrate His might in defeating the psalmist’s current enemies and to bless His people.
- Psalm 145 is an alphabetical psalm, except that the Hebrew letter nun (נ) is left out of the acrostic. This psalm serves as a hymn that celebrates God’s character and mighty deeds.
- Psalms 146-150 serve as the doxology of the entire book, ending the book with a crescendo of praise to God for His character and calling all of creation to join in praising Him.