August 22, 2020
“If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD your God and will do what is right in His sight, and will listen to and obey His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I brought upon the Egyptians, for I am the LORD Who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26)
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable (in instruction by numerous examples); I will utter dark sayings of old [that hide important truth] which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but we will tell to the generation to come the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, and His might, and the wonderful works that He has performed.
For He established a testimony (an express precept) in Jacob and appointed a few in Israel, commanding our fathers that they should make [the great facts of God’s dealings with Israel] known to their children. That the generation to come might know them, that the children still to be born might arise and recount them to their children. That they might set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but might keep His commandments. And might not be as their fathers – a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that set not their hearts aright nor prepared their hearts to know God, and whose spirits were not steadfast and faithful to God.
The children of Ephraim were armed and carrying bows, yet they turned back in the day of battle. They kept not the covenant of God and refused to walk according to His law. And forgot His works and His wonders that He had shown them.
Marvelous things did He in the sight of their fathers in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan [where Pharaoh resided]. He divided the [Red] Sea and caused them to pass through it, and He made the waters stand like a heap. In the daytime also He led them with a [pillar of] cloud and all the night with a light of fire.
He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as out of the deep. He brought streams also out of the rock [at Rephidim and Kadesh] and caused waters to run down like rivers.
Yet they still went on to sin against Him by provoking and rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness (in the land of drought). And they tempted God in their hearts by asking for food according to their [selfish] desire and appetite. Yes, they spoke against God; they said, “Can God furnish [the food for] a table in the wilderness? Behold, He did smite the rock so that waters gushed out and the streams overflowed, but can He give bread also? Can He provide flesh for His people?”
Therefore, when the LORD heard, He was [full of] wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob. His anger mounted up against Israel. Because in God they believed not, [they relied not on Him], and they trusted not in His salvation [His power to save].
Yet He commanded the clouds above and opened the doors of heaven; and He rained down upon them manna to eat and gave them heaven’s grain. Everyone ate the bread of the mighty [man ate angels’ food]. God gave them meat in abundance. He let forth the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by His power He guided the south wind. He rained flesh also upon them like the dust, and winged birds [quails] like the sand of the seas. And He let [the birds] fall in the midst of their camp, round about their tents.
So they ate and were well filled; He gave them what they craved and histed after. But scarce had they stilled their craving, and while their meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them and slew the strongest and sturdiest of them and smote down Israel’s chosen youth.
In spite of all this, they sinned still more, for they believed not in (relied not on and adhered not to Him for) His wondrous works. Therefore, their days He consumed like a breath [in emptiness, falsity, and futility] and their years in terror and sudden haste. When He slew [some of] them, [the remainder] inquired after Him diligently, and they repented and sincerely sought God [for a time]. And they [earnestly] remembered that God was their Rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer.
Nevertheless, they flattered Him with their mouths and lied to Him with their tongues. For their hearts were not right or sincere with Him, neither were they faithful and steadfast to His covenant. But He, full of [merciful] compassion, forgave their iniquity and destroyed them not; yes, many a time He turned His anger away and did not stir up all His wrath and indignation. For He [earnestly] remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that goes and does not return.
How often they defied and rebelled against Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert! And time and again they turned back and tempted God, provoking and incensing the Holy One of Israel. They remembered not [seriously the miracles of the working of] His hand, nor the day when He delivered them from the enemy. How He wrought His miracles in Egypt and His wonders in the field of Zoan [where Pharaoh resided] and turned their rivers into blood, and their streams, so that they could not drink from them.
He sent swarms of [venomous] flies among them which devoured them, and frogs which destroyed them. He gave also their crops to the caterpillar and [the fruit of] their labor to the locust. He destroyed their vines with hail and their sycamore trees with frost and [great chunks of] ice. He [caused them to shut up their cattle or] gave them also to the hail and their flocks to hot thunderbolts.
He let loose upon them the fierceness of His anger, His wrath and indignation and distress, by sending [a mission of] angels of calamity and woe among them. He leveled and made a straight path for His anger [to give it free course]; He did not spare [the Egyptian families] from death but gave their beasts over to the pestilence and the life [of their eldest] over to the plague. He smote all the firstborn in Egypt, the chief of their strength in the tents [of the land of the sons] of Ham.
But [God] led His own people forth like sheep and guided them [with a shepherd’s care] like a flock in the wilderness. And He led them on safely and in confident trust, so that they feared not; but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. And He brought them to His holy border, the border of [Canaan] His sanctuary, even to this mountain [Zion] which His right hand had acquired. He drove out the nations also before [Israel] and allotted their land as a heritage, measured out and partitioned; and He made the tribes of Israel to dwell in the tents of those dispossessed.
Yet they tempted and provoked and rebelled against the Most High God and kept not His testimonies. But they turned back and dealt unfaithfully and treacherously like their fathers; they were twisted like a warped and deceitful bow [that will not respond to the archer’s aim]. For they provoked Him to [righteous] anger with their high places [for idol worship] and moved Him to jealousy with their graven images.
When God heard this, He was full of [holy] wrath; and He utterly rejected Israel, greatly abhorring and loathing [her ways], so that He forsook the tabernacle at Shiloh, the tent in which He had dwelt among men [and never returned to it again], and delivered His strength and power (the ark of the covenant) into captivity, and His glory into the hands of the foe (the Philistines).
He gave His people over also to the sword and was wroth with His heritage. The fire [of war] devoured their young men, and their bereaved virgins were not praised in a wedding song. Their priests [Hophni and Phinehas] fell by the sword, and their widows made not lamentation [for the bodies came not back from the scene of battle, and the widow of Phinehas also died that day].
Then the LORD awakened as from sleep, as a strong man whose consciousness of power is heightened by wine. And He smote His adversaries in the back [as they fled]; He put them to lasting shame and reproach. Moreover, He rejected the tent of Joseph and chose not the tribe of Ephraim [in which the tabernacle had been accustomed to stand]. But He chose the tribe of Judah [as Israel’s leader]. Mount Zion, which He loved [to replace Shiloh as His capital]. And He built His sanctuary [exalted] like the heights [of the heavens] and like the earth which He established forever. He chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from tending the ewes that had their young He brought him to be the shepherd of Jacob His people, of Israel His inheritance. So [David] was their shepherd with an upright heart; he guided them by the discernment and skillfulness [which controlled] his hands.
Beloved, I am now writing you this second letter. In [both of] them I have stirred up your unsullied (sincere) mind by way of remembrance, that you should recall the predictions of the holy (consecrated, dedicated) prophets and the commandment of the LORD and Savior [given] through your apostles (His special messengers).
To begin with, you must know and understand this, that scoffers (mockers) will come in the last days with scoffing, [people who] walk after their own fleshly desires and say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” For since the forefathers fell asleep, all things have continued exactly as they did from the beginning of creation. For they willfully overlook and forget this [fact], that the heavens [came into] existence long ago by the word of God, and the earth also which was formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world that then [existed] was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been stored up (reserved) for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly people.
Nevertheless, do not let this one fact escape you, beloved, that with the LORD one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The LORD does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance.
But the day of the LORD will come like a thief, and then the heavens will vanish (pass away) with a thunderous crash, and the [material] elements [of the universe] will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. Since all these things are thus in the process of being dissolved, what kind of person ought [each of] you to be [in the meanwhile] in consecrated and holy behavior and devout and godly qualities, while you wait and earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming of the day of God by reason of which the flaming heavens will be dissolved, and the [material] elements [of the universe] will flare and melt with fire? But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to His promise, in which righteousness (uprightness, freedom from sin, and right standing with God) is to abide.
So, beloved, since you are expecting these things, be eager to be found by Him [at His coming] without spot or blemish and at peace [in serene confidence, free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts]. And consider that the long-suffering of our LORD [His slowness in avenging wrongs and judging the world] is salvation (that which is conducive to the soul’s safety), even as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the spiritual insight given him, speaking of this as he does in all of his letters.
There are some things in those [epistles of Paul] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist and misconstrue to their own utter destruction, just as [they distort and misinterpret] the rest of the Scriptures. Let me warn you therefore, beloved, that knowing these things beforehand, you should be on your guard, lest you be carried away by the error of lawless and wicked [persons and] fall from your own [present] firm condition [your own steadfastness of mind]. But grow in the grace (undeserved favor, spiritual strength) and recognition and knowledge and understanding of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ (the Messiah). To Him [be] glory (honor, majesty, and splendor) both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (so be it)!
(II Peter 3)
For David says, “I saw the LORD constantly before me, for He is at my right hand that I may not be shaken or overthrown or cast down [from my secure and happy state]. Therefore, my heart rejoiced and my tongue exulted exceedingly; moreover, my flesh also will dwell in hope [will encamp, pitch its tent, and dwell in hope in anticipation of the resurrection]. For You will not abandon my soul, leaving it helpless in Hades (the state of departed spirits), nor let Your Holy One know decay or see destruction [of the body after death]. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will enrapture me [diffusing my soul with joy] with and in Your presence.”
Brethren, it is permitted me to tell you confidently and with freedom concerning the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being however a prophet, and knowing that God had sealed to him with an oath that He would set one of his descendants on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke [by foreknowledge] of the resurrection of the Christ (the Messiah) that He was not deserted [in death] and left in Hades (the state of departed spirits), nor did His body know decay or see destruction.
This Jesus God raised up, and of that all we [His disciples] are witnesses, being therefore lifted high by and to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promised [blessing which is the] Holy Spirit, He has made this outpouring which you yourselves both see and hear.
For David did not ascend into the heavens; yet he himself says, “The LORD said to my LORD, ‘Sit at My right hand and share My throne till I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’” Therefore, let the whole house of Israel recognize beyond all doubt and acknowledge assuredly that God has made Him both LORD and Christ (the Messiah) – this Jesus Whom you crucified.
Now when they heard this they were stung (cut) to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles (special messengers), “Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter answered them, “Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise [of the Holy Spirit] is to and for you and your children, and to and for all that are far away, [even] to and for as many as the LORD our God invites and bids to come to Himself.”
And [Peter] solemnly and earnestly witnessed (testified) and admonished (exhorted) with much more continuous speaking and warned (reproved, advised, encouraged) them, saying, “Be saved from this crooked (perverse, wicked, unjust) generation.” Therefore, those who accepted and welcomed his message were baptized, and there were added that day about 3,000 souls.
And they steadfastly persevered, devoting themselves constantly to the instruction and fellowship of the apostles, to the breaking of bread [including the LORD’s Supper] and prayers. And a sense of awe (reverential fear) came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were performed through the apostles (the special messengers), and all who believed (who adhered to and trusted in and relied on Jesus Christ) were united and [together] they had everything in common. And they sold their possessions (both their landed property and their movable goods) and distributed the price among all, according as any had need. And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the LORD’s Supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts. Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people; and the LORD kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved [from spiritual death].
Keep and protect me, O God, for in You I have found refuge, and in You do I put my trust and hide myself. I say to the LORD, “You are my LORD; I have no good beside or beyond You.”
As for the godly (the saints) who are in the land, they are the excellent, the noble, and the glorious, in whom is all my delight. Their sorrows shall be multiplied who choose another god; their drink offerings of blood will I not offer or take their names upon my lips.
The LORD is my chosen and assigned portion, my cup; You hold and maintain my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good heritage. I will bless the LORD, Who has given me counsel; yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the LORD continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore, my heart is glad and my glory [my inner self] rejoices; my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety.
For You will not abandon me to Sheol (the place of the dead), neither will You suffer Your holy one [Holy One] to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.
Hear the right (my righteous cause), O LORD; listen to my shrill, piercing cry! Give ear to my prayer, that comes from unfeigned and guileless lips. Let my sentence of vindication come from You! May Your eyes behold the things that are just and upright. You have proved my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and find nothing [no evil purpose in me]; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
Concerning the works of men, by the word of Your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent (the paths of the destroyer). My steps have held closely to Your paths [to the tracks of the One Who has gone on before]; my feet have not slipped. I have called upon You, O God, for You will hear me; incline Your ear to me and hear my speech. Show Your marvelous lovingkindness, O You Who save by Your right hand those who trust and take refuge in You from those who rise up against them.
Keep and guard me as the pupil of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings from the wicked who despoil and oppress me, my deadly adversaries who surround me. They are enclosed in their own prosperity and have shut up their hearts to pity; with their mouths they make exorbitant claims and proudly and arrogantly speak. They track us down in each step we take; now they surround us; they set their eyes to cast us to the ground, like a lion greedy and eager to tear his prey, and as a young lion lurking in hidden places.
Arise, O LORD! Confront and forestall them, cast them down! Deliver my life from the wicked by Your sword, from men by Your hand, O LORD, from men of this world [these poor moths of the night] whose portion in life is idle and vain. Their bellies are filled with Your hidden treasure [what You have stored up]; their children are satiated, and they leave the rest [of their] wealth to their babes.
As for me, I will continue beholding Your face in righteousness (rightness, justice, and right standing with You); I shall be fully satisfied, when I awake [to find myself] beholding Your form [and having sweet communion with You].
I LOVE YOU FERVENTLY AND DEVOTEDLY, O LORD, MY STRENGTH. THE LORD IS MY ROCK, MY FORTRESS, AND MY DELIVERER; MY GOD, MY KEEN AND FIRM STRENGTH IN WHOM I WILL TRUST AND TAKE REFUGE, MY SHIELD, AND THE HORN OF MY SALVATION, MY HIGH TOWER. I WILL CALL UPON THE LORD, WHO IS TO BE PRAISED; SO SHALL I BE SAVED FROM MY ENEMIES.
THE CORDS OR BANDS OF DEATH SURROUNDED ME, AND THE STREAMS OF UNGODLINESS AND THE TORRENTS OF RUIN TERRIFIED ME. THE CORDS OF SHEOL (THE PLACE OF THE DEAD) SURROUNDED ME; THE SNARES OF DEATH CONFRONTED AND CAME UPON ME.
IN MY DISTRESS [WHEN SEEMINGLY CLOSED IN] I CALLED UPON THE LORD AND CRIED TO MY GOD; HE HEARD MY VOICE OUR OF HIS TEMPLE (HEAVENLY DWELLING PLACE), AND MY CRY CAME BEFORE HIM, INTO HIS [VERY] EARS. THEN THE EARTH QUAKED AND ROCKED, THE FOUNDATIONS ALSO OF THE MOUNTAINS TREMBLED; THEY MOVED AND WERE SHAKEN BECAUSE HE WAS INDIGNANT AND ANGRY. THERE WENT UP SMOKE FROM HIS NOSTRILS; AND LIGHTNING OUT OF HIS MOUTH DEVOURED; COALS WERE KINDLED BY IT.
HE BOWED THE HEAVENS ALSO AND CAME DOWN; AND THICK DARKNESS WAS UNDER HIS FEET. AND HE RODE UPON A CHERUB [A STORM] AND FLEW [SWIFTLY]; YES, HE SPED ON WITH THE WINGS OF THE WIND. HE MADE DARKNESS HIS SECRET HIDING PLACE; AS HIS PAVILION (HIS CANOPY) ROUND ABOUT HIM WERE DARK WATERS AND THICK CLOUDS OF THE SKIES.
OUT OF THE BRIGHTNESS BEFORE HIM THERE BROKE FORTH THROUGH HIS THICK CLOUDS HAILSTONES AND COALS OF FIRE. THE LORD ALSO THUNDERED FROM THE HEAVENS, AND THE MOST HIGH UTTERED HIS VOICE, AMID HAILSTONES AND COALS OF FIRE. AND HE SENT OUT HIS ARROWS AND SCATTERED THEM; AND HE FLASHED FORTH LIGHNINGS AND PUT THEM TO ROUT.
THEN THE BEDS OF THE SEA APPEARED AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE WORLD WERE LAID ARE AT YOUR REBUKE, O LORD, AT THE BLAST OF THE BREATH OF YOUR NOSTRILS. HE REACHED DOWN FROM ON HIGH, HE TOOK ME; HE DREW ME OUT OF MANY WATERS. HE DELIVERED ME FROM MY STRONG ENEMY AND FROM THOSE WHO HATED AND ABHORRED ME, FOR THEY WER ETOO STRONG FOR ME.
THEY CONFRONTED AND CAME UPON ME IN THE DAY OF MY CALAMITY, BUT THE LORD WAS MY STAY AND SUPPORT. HE BROUGHT ME FORTH ALSO INTO A LARGE PLACE; HE WAS DELIVERING ME BECAUSE HE WAS PLEASED WITH ME AND DELIGHTED IN ME. THE LORD REWARDED ME ACCORDING TO MY RIGHTEOUSNESS (MY CONSCIOUS INTEGRITY AND SINCERITY WITH HIM); ACCORDING TO THE CLEANNESS OF MY HANDS HAS HE RECOMPENSED ME.
FOR I HAVE KEPT THE WAYS OF THE LORD AND HAVE NOT WICKEDLY DEPARTED FROM MY GOD. FOR ALL HIS ORDINANCES WERE BEFORE ME, AND I PUT NOT AWAY HIS STATUTES FROM ME. I WAS UPRIGHT BEFORE HIM AND BLAMELESS WITH HIM, EVER [ON GUARD] TO KEEP MYSELF FREE FROM MY SIN AND GUILT.
THEREFORE, HAS THE LORD RECOMPENSED ME ACCORDING TO MY RIGHTEOUSNESS (MY UPRIGHTNESS AND RIGHT STANDING WITH HIM), ACCORDING TO THE CLEANNESS OF MY HANDS IN HIS SIGHT. WITH THE KIND AND MERCIFUL YOU WILL SHOW YOURSELF KIND AND MERCIFUL, WITH AN UPRIGHT MAN YOU WILL SHOW YOURSELF UPRIGHT. WITH THE PURE YOU WILL SHOW YOURSELF PURE, AND WITH THE PERVERSE YOU WILL SHOW YOURSELF CONTRARY. FOR YOU DELIVER AN AFFLICTED AND HUMBLE PEOPLE BUT WILL BRING DOWN THOSE WITH HAUGHTY LOOKS.
FOR YOU CAUSE MY LAMP TO BE LIGHTED AND TO SHINE; THE LORD MY GOD ILLUMINES MY DARKNESS. FOR BY YOU I CAN RUN THROUGH A TROOP, AND BY MY GOD I CAN LEAP OVER A WALL. AS FOR GOD, HIS WAY IS PERFECT!
THE WORD OF THE LORD IS TESTED AND TRIED; HE IS A SHIELD TO ALL THOSE WHO TAKE REFUGE AND PUT THEIR TRUST IN HIM. FOR WHO IS GOD EXCEPT THE LORD? OR WHO IS THE ROCK SAVE OUR GOD. THE GOD WHO GIRDS ME WITH STRENGTH AND MAKES MY WAY PERFECT?
HE MAKES MY FEET LIKE HINDS’ FEET [ABLE TO STAND FIRMLY OR MAKE PROGRESS ON THE DANGEROUS HEIGHTS OF TESTING AND TROUBLE]; HE SETS ME SECURELY UPON MY HIGH PLACES. HE TEACHES MY HANDS TO WAR, SO THAT MY ARMS CAN BEND A BOW OF BRONZE. YOU HAVE ALSO GIVEN ME THE SHIELD OF YOUR SALVATION, AND YOUR RIGHT HAND HAS HELD ME UP; YOUR GENTLENESS AND CONDESCENSION HAVE MADE ME GREAT.
YOU HAVE GIVEN PLENTY OF ROOM FOR MY STEPS UNDER ME, THAT MY FEET WOULD NOT SLIP. I PURSUED MY ENEMIES AND OVERTOOK THEM; NEITHER DID I TURN AGAIN TILL THEY WERE CONSUMED. I SMOTE THEM SO THAT THEY WERE NOT ABLE TO RISE; THEY FELL WOUNDED UNDER MY FEET.
FOR YOU HAVE GIRDED ME WITH STRENGTH FOR BATTLE; YOU HAVE SUBDUED UNDER ME AND CAUSED TO BOW DOWN THOSE WHO ROSE UP AGAINST ME. YOU HAVE ALSO MADE MY ENEMIES TURN THEIR BACKS TO ME, THAT I MIGHT CUT OFF THOSE WHO HATED ME. THEY CRIED [FOR HELP], BUT THERE WAS NONE TO DELIEVER – EVEN UNTO THE LORD, BUT HE ANSWERED THEM NOT. THEN I BEAT THEM SMALL AS DUST BEFORE THE WIND; I EMPTIED THEM OUT AS THE DIRT AND MIRE OF THE STREETS.
YOU HAVE DELIVERED ME FROM THE STRIVINGS OF THE PEOPLE; YOU MADE ME THE HEAD OF THE NATIONS; A PEOPLE I HAD NOT KNOWN SERVED ME. AS SOON AS THEY HEARD OF ME, THEY OBEYED ME; FOREIGNERS SUBMITTED THEMSELVES CRINGINGLY AND YIELDED FEIGNED OBEDIENCE TO ME. FOREIGNERS LOST HEART AND CAME TREMBLING OUT OF THEIR CAVES OR STRONGHOLDS.
THE LORD LIVES! BLESSED BE MY ROCK; AND LET THE GOD OF MY SALVATION BE EXALTED. THE GOD WHO AVENGES ME AND SUBDUES PEOPLES UNDER ME, WHO DELIVERS ME FROM MY ENEMIES; YES, YOU LIFT ME UP ABOVE THOSE WHO RISE UP AGAINST ME; YOU DELIVER ME FROM THE MAN OF VIOLENCE.
THEREFORE, WILL I GIVE THANKS AND EXTOL YOU, O LORD, AMONG THE NATIONS, AND SING PRAISES TO YOUR NAME. GREAT DELIVERANCES AND TRIUMPHS GIVES HE TO HIS KING; AND HE SHOWS MERCY AND STEADFAST LOVE TO HIS ANOINTED, TO DAVID AND HIS OFFSPRING FOREVER.
(Psalm 18 & II Samuel 22)