Psalm 56: “In God We Trust”

Daily Scripture readings for August, set #9:

Numbers, chapters 21-22
Psalm 56
Matthew 24:1-14
Romans 6:15-23

The account of Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22 is, to me, one of the most interesting passages in the OT. Talking donkeys? What the… and yet, the most interesting part is God’s anger toward Balaam in vs 22: “But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as his adversary.” In verse 20 Balaam inquires of the Lord as to whether he should go with the Moabites, and God tells him to go. But then in vs 22 God is angry because he goes. Anybody know what the deal is with that?

Twice in Psalm 56 is the phrase, “In God I Trust” (vs 4,11). Is this Psalm the reason that we have this phrase on our money in the US?

Matthew 24 finds Jesus getting into some eschatological teachings (“eschatology” = study of “end times”). If you’ve studied the evangelical perspective on eschatology then know that a division exists between those that think the “tribulation” will happen AFTER God’s people are taken (raptured) from the earth, and those who think the “tribulation” will be experienced by God’s people first-hand. Well, it sure seems like Matthew 24:9 is clear on that issue: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.” I wonder how this verse is understood in the school of thought that suggests God’s people will be removed from the earth before the tribulation happens?

In his Romans 6 discussion on being “slaves to righteous” vs being “slaves to sin,” Paul asks this important question in verse 21: “But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed?” What a great reminder that sin, although appealing at the time, produces no fruit… only shame.

Aaaand, in order to play a little catch-up, I’m doubling up on the readings for the next few days…

Daily Scripture readings for August, set #10:

Numbers 23-25
Psalm 57
Matthew 24:15-35
Romans 7:1-12

Numbers 23 contains the text I referenced (vs 19) a few days ago regarding God not “changing his mind.” Just now as I was reading I noticed the fact that this verse appears within a story about God’s prerogative to CHOOSE people for himself. Balaam only receives from God oracles of blessing for Israel, but curses for everyone else. Meanwhile, in chapter 25, Israel runs after false gods, provoking the true God’s anger toward them. So did Israel do anything to deserve being God’s chosen people? Why is it that they are blessed and Edom/Moab/etc are cursed? It appears to simply be God’s sovereign choice.

Many of the Psalms begin with a description of authorship and intention. Psalm 57 has a particularly interesting prefix:To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.” According to Do Not Destroy? What in the world does that mean? I Googled it just now but found nothing.

Matthew 24’s eschatological theme continues in verses 15-35, seeming to again reinforce the idea that Christians WILL in fact participate in the Tribulation. “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short” (vs 21-22). Also noteworthy in this passage is Christ’s return, which, instead of being received with JOY like one would imagine, prompts the “tribes of the earth” to “mourn” (vs 30). This verse sure gives the universalists a run for their money.

Romans 7 continues to hammer home the concept of the Law being a delivery vehicle for SIN, as opposed to a giver of life. “The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (vs 10-12). Notice verse 12. The law itself isn’t the problem… rather, the issue is my sinful nature, clearly shown to be sinful because of the law.

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