Category Archives: Reformation Study Bible

APRIL 26 – THE WALK OF FAITH

Enoch walked with God…for God took him.

Genesis 5:24

There are spiritual lessons for every Christian believer in the life of godly Enoch, seventh generation from Adam through Adam’s third son, Seth.

We are impressed that he could resist the devil and find fellowship with his Creator God, for he lived in a worldly society headed for destruction.

Enoch’s daily walk was a walk of faith, a walk of fellowship with God. The Scriptures are trying to assure us that if Enoch could live and walk with God by faith in the midst of his sinful generation, we likewise should be able to follow his example because the human race is the same and God is the same!

Beyond that, Enoch reminds us that the quality and boldness of our faith will be the measure of our preparation for the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. We walk by faith as Enoch did, and although it is now twenty centuries after Christ’s sojourn on earth, we hold firmly to the New Testament promise that our risen Lord will return to earth again!

Lord, the example of Your servant Enoch is a reminder to me that it is possible to be godly in the midst of a perverse generation. Help me to remain faithful to You and Your ways, O Lord.[1]


5:24 walked with God … was not, for God took him. Enoch is the only break in the chapter from the incessant comment, “and he died.” Cf. 4:17, 18; 1Ch 1:3; Lk 3:37; Heb 11:5; Jude 14. Only one other man is said to have enjoyed this intimacy of relationship in walking with God, Noah (6:9). Enoch experienced being taken to heaven alive by God, as did Elijah later (2Ki 2:1–12).[2]


5:24 Enoch’s walk with God makes him an early example of faith (Heb. 11:5–6), and his being taken by God without dying anticipates the eternal resurrection life that Christ gives (Rom. 8:11).[3]


5:24 he was no more The writer omits the typical formulaic ending referring to the death of the individual (see note on Gen 5:3–31), suggesting that Enoch did not experience a normal death. The nt also asserts that Enoch did not die (Heb 11:5).

took him Similar language appears in the description of Elijah’s departure from earth in God’s fiery chariot (2 Kgs 2:1, 5, 9–11).[4]


5:24 was not, for God took him. Of all the saints recorded in the OT, only Enoch and Elijah did not experience physical death (2 Kin. 2:1–12; Heb. 11:5).[5]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ge 5:24). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 60). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 5:24). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 22). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

APRIL 26 – TODAY, ASK GOD TO REMOVE EVERY FALSE TRUST

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

JEREMIAH 17:9

Many of us have become extremely skillful in arranging our lives so as to admit the truth of Christianity without being embarrassed by its implications.

We arrange things so that we can get on well enough without divine aid, while at the same time ostensibly seeking it!

We boast in the Lord but watch carefully that we never get caught depending on Him!

To many, Christ is little more than an idea, or at best an ideal: He is not a fact! They talk as if He were real and act as if He were not.

We can prove our faith by our committal to it—and in no other way!

Any belief that does not command the one who holds it is not a real belief: it is a pseudo belief only. And it might shock some of us profoundly if we were brought suddenly face-to-face with our beliefs and forced to test them in the fires of practical living!

What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now as they must do at the last day. For each of us the time is surely coming when we shall have nothing but God!

Today is the best time to invite God to remove every false trust, to disengage our hearts from all secret hiding places, and to bring us out into the open where we can discover for ourselves whether we actually trust Him. This is a harsh cure, but it is a sure one![1]


17:9 heart. A metaphor for the human will and emotions (cf. vv. 5–7). deceitful. Tortuous, uneven, and crooked like a bad road. desperately sick. Medically incurable (15:18; 30:12, 15; Job 34:6; Isa. 17:11; Mic. 1:9). who can understand it? A rhetorical question expecting a negative answer. However, this strongly negative assessment of the human heart is not intended as a description of the heart of a believer under the new covenant, where God promises to write his law on people’s hearts (Jer. 31:33; 32:40; cf. Ezek. 36:26; Rom. 5:5; 6:17; Heb. 10:22; 1 John 3:21).[2]


17:9 The heart is deceitful more than anything else Refers to human thoughts and feelings. The Hebrew term for the heart metaphorically refers to a person’s inner life—the will, thoughts, motivations, and emotions. This is a different understanding than “heart” in modern Western thinking, which primarily indicates the seat of emotions.

Who can understand it? Only Yahweh understands the thoughts and motivations of His creation (Jer 17:10).[3]


17:9 The heart. In the OT, the “heart” is more than the seat of emotion. It represents the basis of character, including the mind and the will (4:19; Prov. 4:23; 16:23). See theological note “Free Will.”

free will

Every choice that we make in life we make for some reason. Our decisions are based upon what seems good for us at the moment, all things considered. We do some things out of intense desire. We do other things with no awareness of desire at all. Yet the desire is there or we wouldn’t choose to do them. This is the very essence of free will—to choose according to our desires.

Jonathan Edwards, in his work The Freedom of the Will, defines the will as “that by which the mind chooses.” There can be no doubt that human beings do indeed make choices. I am choosing to write; you are choosing to read. I will to write, and writing is set in motion. When the idea of freedom is added, however, the issue becomes terribly complicated. We have to ask, freedom to do what? Even the most ardent Calvinist would not deny that the will is free to choose whatever it desires. Even the most ardent Arminian would agree that the will is not free to choose what it does not desire.

With regard to salvation, the question then becomes, what do human beings desire? The Arminian believes that some desire to repent and be saved. Others desire to flee from God and thus reap eternal damnation. Why different people have different desires is never made clear by the Arminian. The Calvinist holds that all human beings desire to flee from God unless and until the Holy Spirit performs a work of regeneration. That regeneration changes our desires so that we will freely repent and be saved.

It is important to note that even the unregenerate are never forced against their will. Their wills are changed without their permission, but they are always free to choose as they will. Thus we are indeed free to do as we will. We are not free, however, to choose or select our nature. One cannot simply declare, “Henceforth I will desire only the good” anymore than Christ could have declared, “Henceforth I will desire only evil.” This is where our freedom stops.

The Fall left the human will intact insofar as we still have the faculty of choosing. Our minds have been darkened by sin and our desires bound by wicked impulses. But we can still think, choose, and act. Yet something terrible has happened to us. We have lost all desire for God. The thoughts and desires of our heart are only evil continuously. The freedom of our will is a curse. Because we can still choose according to our desires, we choose to sin and thus we become accountable to the judgment of God.

Augustine said that we still have free will, but we have lost our liberty. The royal liberty of which the Bible speaks is the freedom or power to choose Christ as our own. But until our heart is changed by the Holy Spirit, we have no desire for Christ. Without that desire we never will choose Him. God must awaken our soul and give us a desire for Christ before we will ever be inclined to choose Him.

Edwards said that as fallen human beings we retain our natural freedom (the power to act according to our desires) but lose moral freedom. Moral freedom includes the disposition, inclination, and desire of the soul toward righteousness. It is this inclination that was lost in the Fall.

Every choice I make is determined by something. There is a reason for it, a desire behind it. This sounds like determinism. By no means! Determinism teaches that our actions are completely controlled by something external to us, making us do what we don’t want to do. That is coercion and is opposed to freedom.

How can our choices be determined but not coerced? Because they are determined by something within—by what we are and by what we desire. They are determined by ourselves. This is self-determination, which is the very essence of freedom.

To be sure, for us to choose Christ, God must change our heart. That is precisely what He does. He changes our heart for us. He gives us a desire for Himself that we otherwise would not have. Then we choose Him out of the desire that is within us. We freely choose Him because we want to choose Him. That is the wonder of His grace.[4]

 


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 1405–1406). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Je 17:9). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (pp. 1292–1293). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

April 26 – Proclaiming Victory

He went and preached to the spirits in prison.

1 Peter 3:19

 

Christ went to preach a triumphant sermon before His resurrection Sunday morning. The term for “preached” in today’s verse refers to making a proclamation or announcing a triumph. In ancient times, a herald would precede generals and kings in the celebration of military victories, announcing to all the victories that were won in battle.

That’s what Jesus went to do—not to preach the gospel but to announce His triumph over sin, death, hell, demons, and Satan. He didn’t go to win souls but to proclaim victory over the enemy. In spite of the unjust suffering they subjected Him to, He could declare ultimate victory over sin and death for you and me.[1]


In which also refers to what occurred with His living spirit while His dead physical body lay in the tomb (concerning His burial, see Matt. 27:57–60; John 19:38–42). He went (poreuomai) denotes going from one place to another (see also v. 22, where the word is used concerning the ascension). When the text says Christ made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, it is indicating that He purposefully went to an actual place to make a triumphant announcement to captive beings before He arose on the third day.[2]


3:19 Verses 19, 20 constitute one of the most puzzling and intriguing texts in the NT. It has been made the pretext for such unbiblical doctrines as purgatory on the one hand and universal salvation on the other. However, among evangelical Christians, there are two commonly accepted interpretations.

According to the first, Christ went to Hades in spirit between His death and resurrection, and proclaimed the triumph of His mighty work on the cross. There is disagreement among proponents of this view as to whether the spirits in prison were believers, unbelievers, or both. But there is fairly general agreement that the Lord Jesus did not preach the gospel to them. That would involve the doctrine of a second chance which is nowhere taught in the Bible. Those who hold this view often link this passage with Ephesians 4:9 where the Lord is described as descending “into the lower parts of the earth.” They cite this as added proof that He went to Hades in the disembodied state and heralded His victory at Calvary. They also cite the words of the Apostles’ Creed—“descended into hell.”

The second interpretation is that Peter is describing what happened in the days of Noah. It was the spirit of Christ who preached through Noah to the unbelieving generation before the flood. They were not disembodied spirits at that time, but living men and women who rejected the warnings of Noah and were destroyed by the flood. So now they are spirits in the prison of Hades.

This second view best fits the context and has the least difficulties connected with it. Let us examine the passage phrase by phrase.

By whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison. The relative pronoun whom obviously refers back to Spirit at the end of verse 18. We understand this to mean the Holy Spirit. In 1:11 of this Letter the “Spirit of Christ,” that is, the Holy Spirit, is described as speaking through the prophets of the OT. And in Genesis 6:3, God speaks of His Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, as nearing the limit of endurance with the antediluvians.

He went and preached. As already mentioned, it was Christ who preached, but he preached through Noah. In 2 Peter 2:5, Noah is described as a “preacher of righteousness.” It is the same root word used here of Christ’s preaching.

To the spirits now in prison. These were the people to whom Noah preached—living men and women who heard the warning of an impending flood and the promise of salvation in the ark. They rejected the message and were drowned in the deluge. They are now disembodied spirits in prison, awaiting the final judgment.

So the verse may be amplified as follows: “by whom (the Holy Spirit) He (Christ) went and preached (through Noah) to the spirits now in prison (Hades).”

But what right do we have to assume that the spirits in prison were the living men in Noah’s day? The answer is found in the following verse.[3]


3:19 made proclamation. Between Christ’s death and resurrection, His living spirit went to the demon spirits bound in the abyss and proclaimed that, in spite of His death, He had triumphed over them (see notes on Col 2:14, 15). spirits now in prison. This refers to fallen angels (demons), who were permanently bound because of heinous wickedness. The demons who are not so bound resist such a sentence (cf. Lk 8:31). In the end, they will all be sent to the eternal lake of fire (Mt 25:41; Rev 20:10).[4]


3:19 spirits in prison. There is much debate about the identity of these spirits. The Greek term pneuma (“spirit”), in either singular or plural, can mean either human spirits or angels, depending on the context (cf. Num. 16:22; 27:16; Acts 7:59; Heb. 12:23; etc.). Among the three most common interpretations, the first two fit best with the rest of Scripture and with historic orthodox Christian doctrine. These are:

(1) The first interpretation understands “spirits” (Gk. pneumasin, plural) as referring to the unsaved (human spirits) of Noah’s day. Christ, “in the spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18), proclaimed the gospel “in the days of Noah” (v. 20) through Noah. The unbelievers who heard Christ’s preaching “did not obey … in the days of Noah” (v. 20) and are now suffering judgment (they are “spirits in prison,” v. 19). Several reasons support this view: (a) Peter calls Noah a “herald of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5), where “herald” represents Greek kēryx, “preacher,” which corresponds to the noun kēryssō, “proclaim,” in 1 Pet. 3:19. (b) Peter says the “Spirit of Christ” was speaking through the OT prophets (1:11); thus Christ could have been speaking through Noah as an OT prophet. (c) The context indicates that Christ was preaching through Noah, who was in a persecuted minority, and God saved Noah, which is similar to the situation in Peter’s time: Christ is now preaching the gospel through Peter and his readers (v. 15) to a persecuted minority, and God will save them.

(2) In the second interpretation, the spirits are the fallen angels who were cast into hell to await the final judgment. Reasons supporting this view include: (a) Some interpreters say that the “sons of God” in Gen. 6:2–4 are angels (see note on Gen. 6:1–2) who sinned by cohabiting with human women “when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah” (1 Pet. 3:20). (b) Almost without exception in the NT, “spirits” (plural) refers to supernatural beings rather than people (e.g., Matt. 8:16; 10:1; Mark 1:27; 5:13; 6:7; Luke 4:36; 6:18; 7:21; 8:2; 10:20; 11:26; Acts 5:16; 8:7; 19:12, 13; 1 Tim. 4:1; 1 John 4:1; Rev. 16:13–14; cf. Heb. 1:7). (c) The word “prison” is not used elsewhere in Scripture as a place of punishment after death for human beings, while it is used for Satan (Rev. 20:7) and other fallen angels (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6). In this case the message that Christ proclaimed is almost certainly one of triumph, after having been “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18).

(3) In a third view, some have advocated the idea that Christ offered a second chance of salvation to those in hell. This interpretation, however, is in direct contradiction with other Scripture (cf. Luke 16:26; Heb. 9:27) and with the rest of 1 Peter and therefore must be rejected on biblical and theological grounds, leaving either of the first two views as the most likely interpretation.[5]


3:19 proclaimed to the spirits in prison. Five main interpretations of vv. 19, 20 may be mentioned: (1) The “spirits in prison” are the people to whom Christ preached during His earthly ministry, for His work involved proclaiming liberty to the captives (Luke 4:16–21). (2) Christ by the Holy Spirit preached through Noah (2 Pet. 2:5) to the people before the flood (Gen. 6–8). Noah called them to repentance, but they disobeyed and are now imprisoned. The point of Peter’s argument would then be that as God vindicated Noah then by sending the judgment Noah proclaimed, He will vindicate Christians when He judges the world according to the Christian proclamation. (3) Christ preached in the short interval between His death and resurrection during a “descent into hell.” It is said that Christ announced His victory to the spirits of Noah’s wicked contemporaries confined in the realm of the dead. (4) A similar idea is that during the same interval Christ proclaimed His victory to fallen angels, often identified with the “sons of God” of Gen. 6:2, 4 (cf. Job 1:6; 2:1), in their place of confinement. (5) Christ proclaimed His victory to fallen angels after the resurrection, at the time of His ascension into heaven. The point of the last three interpretations is that just as Jesus was vindicated, so will Christians be vindicated. See Introduction: History of Interpretation.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 131). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (p. 209). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2272). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Pe 3:19). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 2410–2411). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2247). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

APRIL 25 – EVERYBODY RECEIVES GRACE

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

—Isaiah 64:6

Everybody receives in some degree God’s grace: the lowest woman in the world; the most sinful, bloody man in the world; Judas; Hitler. If it hadn’t been that God was gracious, they would have been cut off and slain, along with you and me and all the rest. I wonder if there’s much difference in us sinners after all.

When a woman sweeps up a house, some of the dirt is black, some is gray, some is light-colored, but it is all dirt, and it all goes before the broom. And when God looks at humanity He sees some that are morally light-colored, some that are morally dark, some that are morally speckled, but it is all dirt, and it all goes before the moral broom.

So the grace of God is operated toward everybody. But the saving grace of God is different. When the grace of God becomes operative through faith in Jesus Christ then there is the new birth. But the grace of God nevertheless holds back any judgment that would come until God in His kindness has given everyone a chance to repent. AOG102-103

Lord, each one of Your children has sinned and deserves to be swept away. Thank You for Your saving grace that reaches out to all of us in our sinfulness. Amen. [1]


64:6, 7 They confess to personal uncleanness, and admit that their best deeds (righteousnesses) are like filthy rags. No wonder that they are fading leaves, driven away by the wind of their own iniquities. There is spiritual deadness in Israel. Intercessors are nowhere to be found, because Jehovah has abandoned them to the consequences of their sins.[2]


64:6 unclean … filthy garment. As in 53:6, the prophet included himself among those confessing their utter unworthiness to be in God’s presence. Isaiah employed the imagery of menstrual cloths used during a woman’s period to picture uncleanness (cf. Lv 15:19–24). This is true of the best behavior of unbelievers (cf. Php 3:5–8).[3]


64:6 all have become like the unclean Someone who was unclean was forbidden from entering the temple for sacrifice or worship. See note on 35:8; note on 52:1.

deeds of justice like a menstrual cloth An acknowledgement of their false piety (see 58:2 and note).[4]


64:6 unclean. Unfit to be in God’s presence (Lev. 13:45, 46; Hag. 2:13, 14).

polluted garment. Under the old covenant, garments stained by menstruation are defiled, as is anything else that comes into contact with a flow of life-fluids from the body (30:22 note; Lev. 15:19; Ezek. 36:17; cf. Phil. 4:7, 8). Since God is the Lord of life, nothing associated with a diminishment of life can enter His presence. Our problem is not merely our sinful acts but the fact that even our very best works are defiled before Him.

We all fade like a leaf. We are transitory mortals, while the Lord endures forever (40:7, 8). Like the wicked in Ps. 1, we are easily blown away in the wind.[5]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 988). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 64:6). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Is 64:6). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1244). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

APRIL 24 – CONFESSING OUR LOVE

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

Song of Solomon 2:4

Consider with me the appealing Old Testament story of the beautiful young woman in the Song of Solomon. Deeply in love with the young shepherd, she is also actively sought out by the king, who demands her favor. She remains loyal to the simple shepherd, who gathers lilies and comes to seek her and calls to her through the lattice.

In many ways, this is a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus, of His love and care for His Bride, the Church. In the scriptural account, she does turn her loved one away with simple excuses. But condemned in heart, she rises to go out and search for him. As she seeks, she is asked: “What is he above others that you should seek him?” (see 5:9).

“Oh, he is altogether lovely,” she replies. “He came and called for me, and I had not the heart to go!” (see 5:16).

But at last she is able to confess, “I have found him whom my soul loveth!” (3:4).

He had been grieved but He was not far away. So it is with our Beloved—He is very near to us and He awaits our seeking!

Lord, You are “altogether lovely.” Thank You for pursuing the human race even in our state of unloveliness.[1]


4 The movement towards consummation intensifies. He has brought her to the “house of wine,” another identification of love with alcohol (and the vineyard of the previous vignette). The “banner” is a military standard that signals the identity of an encampment. Pope, 2, glosses, “His intent toward me Love.” The unmistakable design of the boy when he brought her to the house of wine, she says, was concupiscence. A literal banquet hall is as unnecessary to postulate as the houses of 1:16–17; perhaps the “wine-house” is part of the fantasy.[2]


2:4 banquet hall. The scene continues in the outdoors. This “house of wine” symbolizes the vineyard, just as the beams and rafters of 1:17 refer to the forest. his banner. As a military flag indicates location or possession, so Solomon’s love flew over his beloved one (cf. Nu 1:52; Ps 20:5).[3]


2:4 banqueting house (ESV footnote, “house of wine”). This is the only occurrence of this phrase in the OT (although there are similar expressions in Est. 7:8; Eccles. 7:2; Jer. 16:8). The exact location of this house is not critical. Rather, it is a place where wine is drunk and thus a place of love (see note on Song 1:2). This Hebrew term for banner is used elsewhere in the OT only in Numbers (Num. 2:2), where it is a standard flown at camps and carried into battle. Its use here would thus seem to indicate a public display of the lovers’ identity, namely, that they belong to and are committed to each other.[4]


2:4 the house of the wine The Hebrew phrase used here, beth hayyayin (meaning “the house of wine”), may describe a vineyard where grapes for wine are grown, or a banquet room in a palace (Esth 7:8).

his intention Banners were used for military purposes. Each unit would gather under their banner (Song 6:4; Num 1:52), which represented the army and often included the name or image of a deity (Exod 17:15). Here, the man’s banner represents a declaration of his love.[5]


2:4 banqueting house. Lit. “house of wine” (text note). The setting is outdoors (1:12 note). The lover’s “house” to this point has been the forest (1:16, 17). Now they move to a different “house,” namely, the young man’s vineyard, his “house” of wine. The expression continues the royal imagery from 1:4, 12 (the shepherd is a king) and the comparison of love and wine from 1:2.

his banner. An emblem typically used to mark out one tribe from another (Num. 2:3, 10, 18, 25). Banners were also used to muster troops for battle. It has been suggested that the word is used here for something like a sign for an inn. The young man is unabashedly advertising his love for the young woman.[6]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Schwab, G. M. (2008). Song of Songs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, pp. 385–386). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (So 2:4). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1218). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (So 2:4). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1099). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

April 23, 2017: Verse of the day

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96:11–13 All creation is invited to join in the festal joy as the Lord (Jehovah, or Yahweh) arrives to rule the world. The heavens will be happy. The earth will be glad. “The sea and all within it will thunder praise” (Gelineau). No field will be silent, and “no tree in the forest but will rejoice to greet its Lord’s coming” (Knox). For He is coming to rule over the world. He will rule in perfect righteousness and in absolute honesty.

“Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?” (2 Sam. 19:10).[1]


96:11, 12 This is what even inanimate creation awaits (cf. Ro 8:19–22).[2]


96:10–13 Let All Nations Know that the Lord Will Judge in Righteousness. The Gentiles addressed throughout this psalm (cf. vv. 1, 7) are to spread the news among all their fellow Gentiles (among the nations, v. 10; cf. v. 3), namely, that the Lord reigns! The universal rule of the one true God (who is above all other gods, who are worthless anyway, vv. 4–5) is good news to those who will acknowledge his kingship. These verses describe a time when God will judge (i.e., rule justly; see note on Psalm 96) the peoples with equity (v. 10; cf. v. 13). When all kinds of people gladly receive God’s rule, worshiping him according to his gracious character, the rest of the creation (the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the field with all their inhabitants, and the trees of the forest) will all celebrate (be glad, rejoice, roar, exult, and sing for joy). The creation suffers from the curse upon mankind, and from God’s discipline of wayward human beings, and from the evil that people do; but when they genuinely come under the rule of the true God, the blessings will spread throughout the world. Cf. note on Rom. 8:20–21.[3]


96:11–13 The psalmist describes personified creation as looking forward to Yahweh’s judgment, which will be right and fair. As Yahweh’s reign is fully established over everything in the way that it should be—with justice and equality (righteousness)—everything on heaven and earth that knows Yahweh will rejoice.[4]


96:11–13 These verses call us to sing to the Lord as the judge of the earth.

96:11 heavens be glad … earth rejoice. This verse and the one that follows personify the whole creation.

96:13 comes to judge. The sense is that He comes to put everything back into proper order, which is why the creation is rejoicing in vv. 11, 12.[5]


[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 696). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 96:11). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1060). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 96:11–13). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 944). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

APRIL 22 – A BLESSING: THE UNCHANGING FAITHFULNESS OF GOD

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.

HEBREWS 13:8

It is a gracious thing in our relationship with the heavenly Father to find that He loves us for ourselves and values our love more than galaxies of new created worlds.

The added blessing is to discover His faithfulness for what He is today we shall find Him tomorrow, the next day and the next year!

Actually, the fellowship of God with His redeemed family is beyond all telling. He communes with His redeemed ones in an easy, uninhibited fellowship that is restful and healing to the soul.

He is not sensitive nor selfish nor temperamental. He is not hard to please, though He may be hard to satisfy. He expects of us only what He has Himself first supplied.

He is quick to mark every simple effort to please Him, and just as quick to overlook imperfections when He knows we meant to do His will. Surely He loves us for ourselves!

Unfortunately, many Christians cannot get free from their perverted notions of God, and these notions poison their hearts and destroy their inward freedom. These friends serve God grimly, as the elder brother did, doing what is right without enthusiasm and without joy, and seem altogether unable to understand the buoyant, spirited celebration when the prodigal comes home. Their idea of God rules out the possibility of His being happy in His people!

How good it would be if we could learn that God is easy to live with, the sum of all patience, the essence of kindly goodwill![1]


13:8 The connection of this verse with the preceding one is not clear. Perhaps the simplest way to understand it is as a summary of the teaching, the goal, and the faith of these leaders. The gist of their teaching was this: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The goal of their lives was Jesus Christ—the same yesterday, today, and forever. The foundation of their faith was that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the same yesterday, today, and forever.[2]


8 This famous verse has neither verb nor immediate link with what precedes and follows to clarify what is its intention in context. Probably it is to be understood as summing up the faith of the church’s founders (its epigrammatic form suggests a well-memorized creedal “motto”), which the readers are now called to imitate. Following the mention of the “outcome” of these earlier leaders’ lives, it serves to reassure the readers that, whereas their founding fathers may have died, Jesus remains and always will remain a secure foundation for their faith. The unexpected word order that separates the first two time references from the last—“Jesus Christ yesterday and today the same, and forever”—is perhaps intended to emphasize that the fact that he has proved unchanged so far (“yesterday and today”) assures us he will remain the same for the future. Following the assurance of vv. 5–6, this verse thus locates the reliability of our unfailing God more specifically in the unchangeability of Jesus—and thus, as so often in this letter, places Jesus alongside God without distinction. (Cf. 1:12, where our author has quoted the description of God’s unchangeability in Ps 102:27 [using the same phrase “the same”] as though speaking of the Son; for the threefold division of time, cf. the doxologies of Rev 1:4, 8; 4:8.)[3]


13:8 Jesus the Messiah (Christ) is eternally trustworthy in his position as high priest and as Son of God—yesterday active in creation (e.g., 1:2–4), today offering salvation (e.g., 4:7–10), and forever reigning in heaven (e.g., 10:12). This verse may be a transition from 13:7 (their leaders trusted in this Christ, and Jesus remains trustworthy) to v. 9 (strange teachings are departures from the Jesus who is always the same).[4]


13:8 Though human leaders pass from the scene, Jesus Christ is “the same” (1:12) “yesterday” (in which God spoke through prophets, 1:1), “today” (as God summons us to enter His rest through faith; 3:7, 13; 4:7), and “forever” (1:8; 7:17, 21, 24, 28). He is the strong anchor amid sufferings and uncertainties (6:19).[5]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2209). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 185). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2385). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2221). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

APRIL 22 – ALL ARE RECIPIENTS

It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

—Lamentations 3:22

All men are recipients of God’s mercy. Don’t think for a minute that when you repented and came back from the swine pen to the Father’s house that mercy then began to operate. No, mercy had been operating all the time…. So, remember that if you hadn’t had the mercy of God all the time, stooping in pity, withholding judgment, you’d have perished long ago. The cruel dictator is a recipient of the mercy of God. The wicked murderer is a recipient of the mercy of God. And the blackest heart that lies in the lowest wallow in the country is a recipient of the mercy of God….

All men are recipients of the mercy of God, but God has postponed the execution, that is all. When the justice of God confronts human guilt then there is a sentence of death, but the mercy of God—because that also is an attribute of God, not contradicting the other but working with it—postpones the execution.

Mercy cannot cancel judgment apart from atonement. When justice sees iniquity, there must be judgment. But mercy brought Christ to the cross. I don’t claim to understand that. I’m so happy about the things I do know and so delightedly happy about things I don’t know. AOG085-087

Lord, when I realize how much we deserve Your judgment, I am once again in awe of Your great mercy. Thank You for the message of the cross. Amen. [1]


3:22 lovingkindnesses. This Heb. word, used about 250 times in the OT, refers to God’s gracious love. It is a comprehensive term that encompasses love, grace, mercy, goodness, forgiveness, truth, compassion, and faithfulness.

3:22–24 His compassions never fail. As bleak as the situation of judgment had become, God’s covenant lovingkindness was always present (cf. vv. 31, 32), and His incredible faithfulness always endured so that Judah would not be destroyed forever (cf. Mal 3:6).[2]


3:22 God’s steadfast love (his “covenant mercy” or beneficial action on his people’s behalf) never ceases, even in the face of Judah’s unfaithfulness and the resulting “day of the Lord” (cf. Joel 2:1–2; Amos 5:18; Zeph. 1:14–16). mercies. Or “compassion.” This type of mercy goes the second mile, replacing judgment with restoration. never come to an end. God is willing to begin anew with those who repent.[3]


3:22 The loyal love of Yahweh does not cease The speaker appeals to Yahweh’s covenant love to justify his hope.

The Hebrew term used here for Yahweh’s covenant love is chesed. This phrase could be referring to the eternal nature of Yahweh’s chesed or to chesed as the essential quality of Yahweh’s nature that allows Him to restrain His wrath and justice from bringing a total end. Some English translations follow the ancient Aramaic versions here, which read “The kindnesses of Yahweh never cease”; others follow the traditional Hebrew text, which says “Because of Yahweh’s mercies [or great love], we are not consumed.” Deciding which reading to follow is part of the task of a field of study known as textual criticism. The difference between what the Hebrew reads and what the Aramaic translators may have read is only one letter. The poetic parallelism with the rest of the line (which reads literally, “His mercies never come to an end”) supports following the Aramaic reading.[4]


3:22 steadfast love. On the Hb. word (hesed), see note on Ps. 36:5. The plural form, used here, recalls many acts or perhaps the riches of divine love. Cf. Is. 55:3.

mercies. God’s covenant devotion is always joined with His compassion. Though the Lord may withhold mercy temporarily (see 2:2), that is not the end of the story. His people are not finally consumed because God’s compassion is not consumed. God’s wrath toward His people must come to an end because His compassion cannot end (4:22; Hos. 11:8).[5]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (La 3:22–24). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1487). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (La 3:22). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1372). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

APRIL 21 – SPIRITUAL TESTING

Do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

Deuteronomy 5:32

 

In the scriptural accounts, there are many examples of men and women being tested, and I think it is plain that the Holy Spirit rarely tells a believer that he is about to be tested.

Abraham was being tested when the Lord asked him to take his only son up into the mountain. He thought he was being ordered. He did not know he was being tested.

Peter was unconsciously tested. Paul was tested and tried. There does come a time when we have heard enough truth and the Holy Spirit says, “Today this disciple is going to be tested.”

The people of Israel in their time of testing came to Kadesh Barnea, and instead of crossing into the promised land, they said, “We will not go over!” God simply let them make their own test, and they flunked it!

Are there any among us who have an honest desire to be Christlike? We should all be aware that every day is a day of testing. Some come to their own Kadesh Barnea and turn back.

What a solemn thought: Many of the persons whom God is testing will flunk the test!

 

Lord, tutor me by Your Spirit and help me successfully “pass” Your times of testing. I can’t do it by myself.[1]


32–33 The narrative, i.e., the recollection by Moses of this stupendous historical event, ends with 5:31, and Moses’ exhortation begins with 5:32. Moses makes it clear that he is not talking about the words or commandments of Moses but the words of Almighty God. God’s covenantal people are not to “turn aside to the right or to the left” (a common expression in Deuteronomy and other historical books—Dt 17:11, 20; 28:14; Jos 1:7; 23:6; 2 Ki 22:2) from those divine expectations. Instead, the Israelites are to live (“walk”; see comment on 10:12–13) in accordance with those requirements and, consequently, enjoy long tenure in the Promised Land.[2]


5:32–33 not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. God’s way is likened to a straight path. See also 2:27; 17:11, 20; 28:14. walk in all the way. See also 8:6; 9:16; 10:12; 11:22; 19:9; 26:17; 28:9; 30:16; 31:29.[3]


5:22 and he added no more. Lit. “and He did not add,” perhaps an idiom meaning that He spoke no more. This would fit the statement in Exodus that the people in their fear asked that God speak no more to them directly but to address them only through Moses (Ex. 20:19).

two tablets of stone. The tablets are mentioned in Ex. 31:18, where they are called the “two tablets of the testimony … written with the finger of God.” In addition, the tablets were inscribed on both sides (Ex. 32:15). These tablets were broken (Ex. 32:19), but new ones were made (Ex. 34:1–4, 27). Called “the testimony,” the tablets were placed in the ark of the testimony (Ex. 25:16; 40:20), also called the “ark of the covenant” (Num. 10:33). The “testimony” refers to the written record attesting the terms of the covenant (Ex. 25:16 note).[4]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Grisanti, M. A. (2012). Deuteronomy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Numbers–Ruth (Revised Edition) (Vol. 2, p. 552). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 341). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 262). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

APRIL 21 – A BOUNDLESS AND FATHOMLESS FLOOD

And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

—Exodus 33:19

There has been a lot of careless teaching that implies that the Old Testament is a book of severity and law, and the New Testament is a book of tenderness and grace. But do you know that while both the Old Testament and the New Testament declare the mercy of God, the word mercy appears in the Old Testament over four times more often than in the New?…

God’s infinite goodness is taught throughout the entire Bible. Goodness is that in God which desires the happiness of His creatures and that irresistible urge in God to bestow blessedness. The goodness of God takes pleasure in the pleasure of His people. I wish I could teach the children of God to know this. For a long time it has been drummed into us that if we are happy, God is worried about us. We believe He’s never quite pleased if we are happy. But the strict, true teaching of the Word is that God takes pleasure in the pleasure of His people, provided His people take pleasure in God….

“The mercy of God is an ocean divine, a boundless and fathomless flood.” Let us plunge out into the mercy of God and come to know it. AOG077-079, 095

Thank You, Lord, for your mercy, that out of Your goodness You delight in the happiness of Your children. Amen. [1]


33:18–23 Next Moses asked for a sight of God’s glory. God replied by promising to reveal Himself as a God of grace and compassion (see Ex. 34:6, 7). Moses could not see God’s face … and live, but he would be permitted to stand on a rock while God’s glory passed by, and he would see an appearance of God’s back. This is figurative language, of course, since God does not have a body (John 4:24). As Hywel Jones put it, “Moses is to see the afterglow which is a reliable indication of what the full splendor is to be.”

No one can see God’s face and live (v. 20). This means that no one can look upon the unveiled glory of God; He dwells “in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). In that sense, no one has seen God at any time (1 Jn. 4:12). How then do we explain passages in the Bible where people saw God and did not die? For example, Hagar (Gen. 16:13); Jacob (Gen. 32:30); Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel (Ex. 24:9–11); Gideon (Judg. 6:22, 23); Manoah and his wife (Judg. 13:22); Isaiah (Isa. 6:1); Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:26, cf. 10:20); John (Rev. 1:17).

The answer is that these people saw God as represented by the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes He appeared as the Angel of the Lord (see Judges 6 for a discussion of this doctrine), sometimes as a Man, and once manifested Himself as a Voice (Ex. 24:9–11; cf. Deut. 4:12). The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has fully declared God (John 1:18). Christ is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His Person (Heb. 1:3). That is why He could say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).[2]


19–20 In response to Moses’ request to see God’s “glory,” God says he will “cause all [of his] goodness to pass” before Moses (v. 19). By his “goodness” is meant his whole character and nature. In a later theophany the Lord passed by what may have been the same cleft of the rock (cave) for the discouraged prophet Elijah (1 Ki 19:11).

A further aspect of the revelation of God’s glory is the proclamation of his name. The name of God includes his nature, character, person (Ps 20:1; Lk 24:47; Jn 1:12), doctrine (Ps 22:22; Jn 17:6, 26), and standards of ethical and moral living (Mic 4:5). In this context his name includes his “mercy” (i.e., his “grace”) and his “compassion” (rehem, lit., “womb, bowels,” i.e., deep-seated feelings; GK 8167). Romans 9:15 quotes this verse and applies it to the sovereignty of God. The one restriction of the Lord is that Moses will not be permitted to see the Lord’s face (v. 20). In fact, “no one may see me and live” (v. 20; see Jn 1:18; 6:46; 1 Ti 1:17; 1 Jn 4:12).[3]


33:19 The Lord’s words appear to be a response to Moses’ requests—that the Lord would show him his ways (v. 13) and his glory (v. 18). The description points forward to the event of the Lord’s self-declaration that is to come: “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord’ (see 34:5–6) … I will be gracious … and will show mercy” (see 34:6). Paul cites this in Rom. 9:15 to show that, when God shows mercy, it is because he has chosen to do so.

33:19 God as sovereign works his will in election (Rom. 9:15).[4]


33:19 the name of Yahweh’ Yahweh has already revealed His name to Moses (3:14). In ot theology, the “name” (shem) of God was another way to refer to the person of God Himself (e.g., Isa 24:15; 30:27; Prov 18:10; Psa 75:1).[5]


33:19 my goodness … my name. Though the visible magnificence of this theophany is apparent from the text, the emphasis falls on a revelation to Moses of God’s sovereign, gracious, and compassionate nature (cf. 34:5–7). In Jesus Christ, the glory of the gracious and compassionate God that was withheld even from Moses is displayed to believers through the Spirit (John 1:14; 2 Cor. 3:18).

to whom … on whom. The Lord is sovereign in His purposes of mercy (Rom. 9:14–16). See “Predestination” at Mal. 1:2.[6]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 126). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kaiser, W. C., Jr. (2008). Exodus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis–Leviticus (Revised Edition) (Vol. 1, pp. 545–546). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 199). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ex 33:19). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 145). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

APRIL 20 – INFINITE MERCY

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.

—Psalm 103:17

There is an old story… about the Jewish rabbi centuries ago who consented to take a weary traveler into his house for a night’s rest.

After they had eaten together, the rabbi said, “You are a very old man, are you not?”

“Yes,” the traveler replied, “I am almost a century old.”

As they talked, the rabbi brought up the matter of religion and asked the visitor about his faith and about his relation to God.

“Oh, I do not believe in God,” the aged man replied. “I am an atheist.”

The rabbi was infuriated. He arose and opened the door and ordered the man from his house.

“I cannot keep an atheist in my house overnight,” he reasoned….

But then the voice of God said, “Son, I have endured him for almost 100 years—don’t you think you could endure him for one night?” …

It was the mercy of God that had endured the atheist for nearly 100 years. ICH054-055

Lord, You have endured and continue to endure so much from Your creation. Your mercy is indeed from everlasting to everlasting. Amen. [1]


103:17, 18 With God’s mercy there is a vivid contrast. It lasts from everlasting to everlasting to those who fear Him. In duration, as in volume, it is limitless. And His righteousness extends to children’s children. There is great comfort in this. Christian parents often feel concern about their children and grandchildren growing up in a world of mounting wickedness. But we can safely entrust our little ones to One whose love is infinite and whose righteousness is sufficient not only for us but for succeeding generations as well. Of course, the promises necessarily have a condition attached. They are valid for those who keep His covenant and remember His commandments to do them. But that is only reasonable.[2]


103:17, 18 the lovingkindness of the Lord. Those who appeal to God’s mercy by proper fear (v. 17) and obedience (v. 18) will overcome the shortness of physical life with eternal life. Lk 1:50 quotes Ps 103:17.[3]


103:17–18 the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting. Cf. 25:6; 100:5. Those who fear him (103:11, 13) are the same as those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments; they are the faithful, who believe the promises and obey the commands (Ex. 19:5; Deut. 7:9; cf. John 14:15, 21; 15:10; Rev. 1:3; 3:8). The covenant of circumcision, which Abraham’s descendants were to “keep,” included the promise that the Lord would be God to both the offspring and their parents. This psalm goes beyond that, however: the faithful expect that God sets his saving love on their children’s children. This is the crowning privilege that God gives to his faithful: though their lives are short and appear almost insignificant, they may still contribute to the future well-being of the people of God by their godly and prayerful parenting and grandparenting. Cf. also Ps. 100:5; 102:28; in Ex. 34:7a God keeps steadfast love for thousands (i.e., thousands of generations; cf. Deut. 7:9) for the faithful (Ex. 20:6).[4]


103:17 everlasting to everlasting God’s loving nature has always characterized Him.

his righteousness The psalmist describes God’s righteousness (tsedaqah) as parallel to His chesed (“steadfast love”) for Israel. See v. 6 and note.

to their children’s children This multi-generational relationship between Yahweh and Israel is a feature of Yahweh’s covenant relationship with His people (see v. 18). Compare 90:16 and 102:28.[5]


103:17 steadfast love … on those who fear him. There is a reciprocal relationship between divine initiative and human response. God first loves His people, then they love Him in return as shown in the faithful obedience of their lives (Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:10–12).[6]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 706). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 103:17). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1069). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 103:17). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 951). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

April 17, 2017: Verse of the day

img_0192
      9       Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
      my flesh also dwells secure.
            10       For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
      or let your holy one see corruption.

9–10 The ground for the psalmist’s joy is twofold. First, his God is the sovereign Master to whom he has fled for protection (vv. 1–2). Second, the Lord has been good to him (vv. 2b, 5–8). He has not been disappointed in having sought him as the ground of his being. His conclusion to this psalm of confidence begins with “therefore” (v. 9); but this “therefore” introduces additional, though related, reasons for his confidence. The psalmist is filled with joy in his Lord, who cares for him in life and in death. In life the Lord gives him security (vv. 5–6) and in death, protection (vv. 9b–10). He may die and go into “the grave,” but the Lord will not permit his beloved (“Holy One”) to suffer eternal alienation. The phrase “see decay” (v. 10) is a metaphor for total isolation and banishment from God’s presence. It is not clear whether the psalmist had in mind the experience of God’s presence in the life hereafter or specifically in the resurrection of the body. But in the apostolic preaching this verse did have a particular apologetic significance, as both Peter (Ac 2:27, 31) and Paul (Ac 13:35) quoted v. 10 as proof of the resurrection of Jesus (see Reflections, p. 663, Sheol—Grave—Death in the Psalms).

The primary significance of the text lies in the confidence of the psalmist that his relationship with God will not end with death. David, to whom the psalm is attributed, died; but we are confident that in his death he, too, enjoyed the presence of God in some special sense. For Peter and Paul, the text spoke of the resurrection. They appropriately argued that since David died and did not rise from the grave, the psalm received a special significance in view of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus, as the Son of David, arose from the dead, “because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Ac 2:24). In the progressive unfolding of God’s revelation, Peter saw a prophetic/messianic sense in the psalm (v. 31). The resurrection of our Lord gives a ground for the confidence of all believers, since they, too, will not suffer corruption. The Father will crown his beloved with life. God is concerned with the whole being, and therefore the body is included in the renewal of life. Calvin, 1:230, observes: “Yet as God defends and maintains not only our souls, but also our bodies, David does not speak groundlessly when he represents the blessing of dwelling in safety as extending to his flesh in common with his soul.”[1]


16:9, 10 Assured of God’s constant care and protection, the Savior faces the future with confidence. His heart is glad. His soul rejoices and His body is safe. He knows that God will not leave His soul in Sheol or allow His body to see corruption. In other words, Christ will be raised from the dead.

The reference to Sheol needs a word of explanation. It is the word used in the OT for the grave, for the “netherworld,” and to describe the disembodied state. It is equivalent to the NT Greek word “Hades.” Sheol did not so much indicate a geographical location as the condition of the dead—the separation of the personality from the body. It was used to describe the condition of everyone who died, whether believer or unbeliever. On the other hand the NT equivalent, Hades, is used only of unbelievers. Sheol was a very indefinite, imprecise word. It did not convey a clear picture of life after death. In fact, it expressed more of uncertainty than of knowledge.

In the NT, all that is changed. Christ has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim. 1:10). Today we know that when an unbeliever dies, his spirit and soul are in a state of suffering called Hades (Luke 16:23), while his body goes to the grave. The spirit and soul of the believer go to be with Christ in heaven (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23), while his earthly body goes to the grave.

When the Savior said “… You will not leave my soul in Sheol,” He revealed His foreknowledge that God would not allow Him to remain in the disembodied state. Though He entered Sheol, He did not remain there.

God did not allow the usual process of decomposition to take place. By a miracle of preservation, Christ’s lifeless body was kept from corruption for three days and nights.[2]


16:10 These words expressed the confidence of the lesser David, but were applied messianically to the resurrection of the Greater David (the Lord Jesus Christ) both by Peter (Ac 2:25–28) and Paul (Ac 13:35).[3]


16:10 Sheol. See note on 6:5. Here it is likely the abode of the wicked. Likewise, corruption probably describes the experience of being far from God forever. These are not likely terms for the grave, since everyone singing these words would know that his body would one day die and rot.[4]


16:10 In Acts, both Peter and Paul apply this passage to Jesus as a prophecy of His resurrection (Acts 2:24–36; 13:34–39).

Sheol The Hebrew word she’ol is used here. See note on 1 Kgs 2:6.[5]


16:10 you will not abandon my soul to Sheol. The immediate application of this psalm is to David and the OT saints. It refers to deliverance from the immediate threat of death, but it points prophetically to the Son of David whom the historical David reflected and anticipated. Both Peter and Paul recognized Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of this psalm (Acts 2:25–28; 13:35).[6]


[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 191–192). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 567–568). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 16:10). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 956). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 16:10). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 845). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.