Thursday, September 24, 2009

9/24 Psalm 78 Salvation history

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

Psalm 78:1-16

1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. 4We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.
5He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children,6that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, 7so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; 8and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation,a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God. 9The Ephraimites, armed with[b] the bow, turned back on the day of battle. 10They did not keep God’s covenant, but refused to walk according to his law. 11They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them.12In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan. 13He divided the sea and let them pass through it, and made the waters stand like a heap. 14 In the daytime he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a fiery light. 15He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep. 16He made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers. With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.

Calvin abridged: Within this psalm there are two leading topics. On the one hand, it is declared that God adopted himself a Church from the line of Abraham, how tenderly and graciously he cherished it, how wonderfully he brought it out of Egypt, and how many were the blessing bestowed upon it. On the other hand, those who were so indebted to him for these great blessings given, are upbraided for having sometimes treacherously revolted from such a liberal father. His goodness is shown- in his adoption of them at first, but also in his striving against their rebellion. Another theme is the mention of the renewal of God’s grace, and a second election in which he chose David out of the tribe of Judah to rule the kingdom of Israel.

Thoughts: Psalm 78 is the history of the gospel in Old Testament terms. The people are chosen through Abraham, then they are slaves, then they are redeemed from Egypt and set free, then they rebel, then God chooses a ruler in the person of David (Calvin calls this a second choosing). In the gospel- we are seen in slavery to sin; then we are chosen and adopted to salvation; we continually rebel against God despite his blessings, and God still leads us back to him in the descendant of David- Jesus Christ. For Calvin, the pattern of salvation is deep within the Old Testament but seen clearer and fuller in the New Testament. Baptism is seen as a fulfillment of circumcision; the Lord’s Supper a completion of the Passover; The New Testament or covenant a fulfillment of the Old Testament of covenant. God does not interact with us in a vacuum. He has been at work, and works in us to redeem us, and to gently lead us as a shepherd despite our rebellion against his blessings. In our day, many are rejecting God despite the fact that we are blessed more than any other country and any other time in history. The average person in America lives better than a king of old- with relative safety, air conditioning, clean water, regular food, education- but we refuse to publicly recognize God’s blessings, and we rebel against him by going our own way. Yet, God is more gracious than we deserve- He still leads us like a shepherd. We need to turn back to Him our father, our shepherd.

Prayer: Thank you Lord, for your gentleness in adopting us, and your kindness in dealing with our sins. Help us to come back to you fully.

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