(Numbers 8, Psalm 44; Optional Romans 14:1-12, Proverbs 21:16-20)
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NUMBERS 8 – Num 8:1-4 – The light from the beautiful lampstand was always to be kept lit, giving light for ministering within the Tabernacle and also physically representing the beautiful Aaronic blessing in Num 6:23-27. The light would shine on the 12 loaves of special bread laid out before the Lord in the Tabernacle, representing the tribes of Israel.
Num 8:5-22 – The Levites were to be cleansed (v 5-10) and dedicated to the Lord to assist the priests in Tabernacle ministry. They were both offered as living sacrifices TO the Lord (Num 8:10-11, 14-16, 21; compare Rom 12:1) and gifts FROM the Lord (Num 8:19; compare Eph 4:8, 11).
Num 8:9-19 – Notice the recurring theme of SUBSTITUTION. The Lord receives the Levites as substitutes for the firstborn sons of the rest of Israel (Num 8:14-19), and accepts the blood of sacrificial bulls in place of the blood of the Levites (Num 8:8-12). Thankfully, Jesus took the judgment I deserve, so that God is favorable / gracious to me!
Num 8:23-26 – I love the concept of lessened but continued ministering after “retirement.” Still involved and doing what they can!
PSALM 44 – Ps 44:1-8 – In the first part of this psalm the psalmist recounts PAST deliverance (one of the biggest was the deliverance from slavery in Egypt that we read about in Exodus). In tracing the theme BOTH of God’s sovereignty AND people’s responsibility, notice they’re both here, but notice the clear emphasis… God is the DECISIVE / FOUNDATIONAL Actor, and the people are certainly INVOLVED, but as DEPENDENT on Him.
Ps 44:5-6 – The Psalmist doesn’t throw away his tools (bow, sword, etc), but doesn’t TRUST in them, either – his TRUST is in God.
Ps 44:9-26 – What a difference from v 1-8! Now the Psalmist is crying out for a FRESH work from God because again the enemy SEEMS to be winning. This is why we need Psalms! They are God’s inspired way to cry out to Him so that we don’t slip into the wrong grumbling / complaining that Israel so often does (and is sadly featured coming up in Numbers 11-17). And it includes REMEMBERING how God was powerfully worked through history in His timing and in His way to rescue His people.
Ps 44:9-14 – In the sad / tough times notice the inspired Psalmist correctly knows that God is still in control (and so correctly turns to God as the only solution, even though very confused on what God might be doing). Compare Job 1:18-22 (don’t miss Job 1:22 – Job was RIGHT when he said “The LORD gives and…takes away; blessed be the name of the LORD”) and compare Isa 45:7, Lam 3:37-38. When we’re hurting, don’t take the path too many go on of giving far too much credit to Satan. The Psalmist here and Job in his suffering correctly knew that God is sovereign over ALL things.
Ps 44:17-21 – The Psalmist wisely has examined his life (and overall the trend of the whole nation of Israel which was at a rare point of overall obedience to God). There definitely ARE times (including on our side of the cross – see 1 Cor 11:29-31, Heb 12:5-8) when God brings His people through tough times as punishment for sin. But this (and what Job went through) was NOT that.
Ps 44:22 – Quoted in Rom 8:36, so I’ve written a cross (to remind me it’s referred to in the NT) and “Rom 8:36” in my Bible margin. Here though, it’s a mostly heartbroken cry to God. Though maybe there’s a hint of understanding that sometimes God’s people suffer in this fallen sinful world just because they belong to the God that’s so hated by this world. When it’s used in Rom 8:36 it’s in a much more confident section (the “IN all these things we are MORE than conquerors through Him who loved us” section). Note the clarity that comes on our side of the cross – NOW we can CLEARLY see that many times of suffering are entering into sweet fellowship with our Lord in His sufferings (see Phil
Ps 44:23 – Sections like this (and the book of Job) remind us that there ARE times when God SEEMS to be sleeping. This gives us inspired words to cry out to Him. Notice that the Psalmist IS turning to God. He does NOT understand what God is up to, but knows his only hope is in the Lord!
Ps 44:26 – The closing focus is one of my favorite Hebrew words – “chesed”. It’s very similar to the NT word “grace” – it’s undeserved, faithful love / mercy. I love the song (sung beautifully by Babbie Mason – worth looking up and listening through at the end of this Psalm) Trust His Heart: “God is too wise to be mistaken / God is too good to be unkind / So when you don't understand / When you don't see His plan / When you can't trace His hand, TRUST HIS HEART.”
Optional Rom 14:1-12 – Such an important chapter to help Christians in areas (there are quite a few of these) where God leaves room for believers to have differences about how they glorify God. Notice the weight to verses like Rom 14:5, 10, 12 – that there is room for some differences in some areas does NOT mean we can just lightly do whatever we want!
Optional Proverbs 21:16-20 – Both vs 17, 20 emphasize MODERATION and self-control.