(Numbers 21, Psalm 60-61; Optional 1 John 2:28-3:10, Proverbs 23:1-5)
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SEE May 11 for SPECIAL NOTE on format change…
NUMBERS 21 – This chapter mostly filled with victories over the wicked folks NOW living in the Promised Land and surrounding area. Note 1) these are NOT at the initiative of Israel at this point, but they are attacked first (Num 21:1, 21-23, 33). And 2) read Gen 15:12-16 to be reminded that God had let His own people suffer for hundreds of years allowing the wickedness of the current inhabitants to reach full judgment level before bringing Israel back in to carry out His righteous judgment.
Num 21:3 – The site of the previous generation’s DEFEAT almost 40 years ago (see Num 14:36-45) when they disobeyed God is now the first site of VICTORY for the next generation when they cry out to God for help!
Num 21:4-9 – Just after their victory, more complaining, the Lord sends serpents in judgment, but also sends a surprising salvation – look and live! Beside Num 21:8-9 I’ve written a cross (reminding me this is referred to in the NT) and “Jn 3:14-16”. There Jesus calls on Nicodemus (a top religious leader in Israel) to see himself as one of the sinful, helpless folks in Num 21 and look to Jesus lifted up on the cross and live.
Num 21:10-20 – A sweet taste for how life can be when we trust the Lord and His timing and His provision. Num 21:16-18 is such a beautiful contrast to the complaining and punishment of v 4-7 and Num 20:2-13. And as a music guy I love that there was a “Song of the Well” 😊
Num 21:27-30 – Helpful insight from ESV Study Bible: [“This old poem celebrates the capture of Moabite territory by Sihon. It is included in Numbers to show that the Israelites could justifiably displace the Amorites from their land, for the Amorites had acquired it from the Moabites by force. It also helps to explain the king of Moab’s anxiety about Israel that drove him to hire Balaam to curse Israel (see 22:4–6, and all of chs. 22–24). Moab had been defeated by Sihon, and Sihon had been defeated by Israel, so what hope has Moab?”]
PSALM 60-61 – Ps 60 – When you piece together hints from the title with 2 Sam 8:1-14 and its parallel in 1 Chron 18:1-13, it appears that David was battling some enemies and Edom swooped in and attacked Israel. And they had the upper hand at first (see Ps 60:1-5, 9-10).
Ps 60:1-5 – David is feeling abandoned by God, very aware that victories and defeats alike come from His sovereign hand. But, like Peter in Jn 6:66-69, David knew there was no place else to turn for help / hope. The turning point is v 5 where David cries out that God’s “beloved” may be delivered. It’s the same tender / sweet root word used repeatedly in Song of Solomon, the same used to refer to Jesus as God’s Beloved Son (Mt 3:17, Eph 1:6), and the same term used to refer to Christians (Rom 9:25, Eph 5:1, Col 3:12).
Ps 60:6-8 – “God has spoken” – THIS is all that ultimately matters! He has the FINAL and FOUNDATIONAL word on any topic! He authoritatively speaks of His possession of ALL the nations involved – they belong to Him!
Ps 60:9-12 – Even after God has spoken, the situation looks grim (v 9-10). The title mentions Edom, God mentions what WILL happen to Edom (v 8), and David is anxious over Edom (v 9). He knows that they will NOT succeed apart from God (compare Jn 15:5), but knows that with God there WILL be victory at the end of the story! There was… 2 Sam 8:13-14 records thousands of Edomites struck down, complete victory… “And the LORD (Yahweh) gave victory to David wherever he went.” Just like the END of our story – Rev 21-22!
Ps 61:6-7 – Reminds of the importance of praying for our leaders and is also a pointer to the eternal Kingship of the great king David’s far greater descendant Jesus, the King of kings of Lord of lords.
Optional 1 John 2:28-3:10 – Don’t forget that one of the main purposes 1 Jn is written is so that you may KNOW for sure that you have eternal life (1 Jn 5:13). All these evidences are to help you examine your PROFESSION of faith and make sure there’s REALITY there. These verses are NOT talking about sinless perfection (see 1 Jn 1:8-10, Matt 6:9-12 where Jesus connects daily prayer with asking for forgiveness for the sins of that day). The Greek tense in this section in 1 Jn refers to ongoing sin that is a defining mark of your life – if your life is run by what your sinful flesh wants, then you’re NOT a child of God and need to be born again.