(Numbers 19, Psalm 56-57; Optional 1 John 2:7-17, Proverbs 22:22-25)
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NUMBERS 19 – There have been so many executions by God in the last several chapters and over a million will die in the wilderness over the next 40 years. God gives exact instructions on how they can be purified involving the ashes of a red heifer mixed with water.
Helpful summary from ESV Study Bible: [“Life and death are the two poles of existence inside and outside the Bible. Holiness, God, and life are associated in Scripture, whereas uncleanness, sin, and death also belong together (see chart). Human corpses caused the gravest kind of pollution under the Mosaic system, affecting all who approached them. Thus those who have contact with the dead must keep away from the sanctuary and undergo cleansing. This rite is designed to provide ritual cleansing for all who have been near or touched corpses.”]
PSALM 56-57 – Ps 56 – The historical background (see the Psalm’s title) is in 1 Sam 21:10ff and cf Ps 34) when David was running from the jealous rage of king Saul and escaped to a chief city of the Philistines, only to be recognized as the Israelite warrior who had killed many Philistines in battle. Everywhere David turned there were enemies, and at this time in his life they SEEMED to be winning. In fear and fragility where can a believer go? The answer is in the repeating chorus of this psalm (v 4, 11) – to God Himself!
Ps 56:3-4 – When our kids were young, we memorized Ps 56:3-4 with them, telling them that Dad and Mom could not always be with them when they were afraid, but they could ALWAYS call out to God and trust in Him. He always wins! And He tenderly cares when His people hurt (note the infinite tenderness in v 8).
Ps 56:13 – The end of the story for every believer (also see Rev 21-22).
Ps 57 – The historical setting (see the title) refers to David hiding from king Saul’s jealous rage (see 1 Sam 22, 24).
Ps 57:2 – Compare Rom 8:28 – David remembering the END of the story – God WILL work ALL THINGS together for His good and wise purposes – for His ultimate glory and the ultimate good of His people.
Ps 57:7 – Even after the dire situation recorded in v 1, 3, 4, 6 notice that David’s heart is SET on praising God.
Ps 57:5, 9-11 – Notice the MISSIONARY emphasis here. David is NOT just focused on his own pain (so easy to fall into when we’re hurting, and why the inspired book of Psalms is necessary to help broaden our perspective in hard times in our own lives).
Optional 1 John 2:7-17 – One good way to think about the Christian life is that it is all about new RELATIONSHIPS. Note all the family terms in this section. There are new LOVES (v 9-11) for God’s family, and a turning AWAY from old loves (v 15-17). This is another EVIDENCE of a true Christian.
Optional Proverbs 22:22-25 – v 24-25 – Both a warning to NOT be close friends with someone given to anger, and a powerful motivation for someone who tends towards anger to cry out to God for help in turning from this dangerous snare (v 25) that will keep Godly folks from being close to you.