1 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
4 Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
7 He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
8 He remembers his covenant forever,
the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as your portion for an inheritance.”
12 When they were few in number,
of little account, and sojourners in it,
13 wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
14 he allowed no one to oppress them;
he rebuked kings on their account,
15 saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
do my prophets no harm!”
16 When he summoned a famine on the land
and broke all supply of bread,
17 he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 His feet were hurt with fetters;
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
19 until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the Lord tested him.
20 The king sent and released him;
the ruler of the peoples set him free;
21 he made him lord of his house
and ruler of all his possessions,
22 to bind his princes at his pleasure
and to teach his elders wisdom.
23 Then Israel came to Egypt;
Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.
24 And the Lord made his people very fruitful
and made them stronger than their foes.
25 He turned their hearts to hate his people,
to deal craftily with his servants.
26 He sent Moses, his servant,
and Aaron, whom he had chosen.
27 They performed his signs among them
and miracles in the land of Ham.
28 He sent darkness, and made the land dark;
they did not rebel against his words.
29 He turned their waters into blood
and caused their fish to die.
30 Their land swarmed with frogs,
even in the chambers of their kings.
31 He spoke, and there came swarms of flies,
and gnats throughout their country.
32 He gave them hail for rain,
and fiery lightning bolts through their land.
33 He struck down their vines and fig trees,
and shattered the trees of their country.
34 He spoke, and the locusts came,
young locusts without number,
35 which devoured all the vegetation in their land
and ate up the fruit of their ground.
36 He struck down all the firstborn in their land,
the firstfruits of all their strength.
37 Then he brought out Israel with silver and gold,
and there was none among his tribes who stumbled.
38 Egypt was glad when they departed,
for dread of them had fallen upon it.
39 He spread a cloud for a covering,
and fire to give light by night.
40 They asked, and he brought quail,
and gave them bread from heaven in abundance.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed through the desert like a river.
42 For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant.
43 So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
44 And he gave them the lands of the nations,
and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples' toil,
45 that they might keep his statutes
and observe his laws.
Praise the Lord!
The psalmist here touches on a theme that is near or at the root of any Biblical teaching. It is of extreme importance as an overarching theme of Scripture. This is the Lord’s covenant with man. I could never hope to fully speak of this covenant in just a short devotion (nor would I be able to if I could), but every Christian should meditate on this doctrine and see more and more the inconceivable depths of God.
“He is the Lord our God; his judgements are in all the earth. He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, “to you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.” Vs 7-11
“For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant.” Vs 42
This is a teaching in which we all known so well that our minds can be at risk of numbness. The Lord made a covenant with man! You can read of this eternal covenant being established through Abraham (Gen 15, 17, 22), through Isaac (Gen 26), and through Jacob (Gen 28, 46). And then as you read through the whole of scripture you will see His covenant established through his people, Abraham’s offspring, over and over again- continually revealing itself more and more, being made possible through the person and work of Jesus Christ. “You shall be my people, and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36:28.
In Acts 6, Stephen is falsely accused of heretical statements and is brought before the high priest to stand trial. In Acts 7, in being told to defend himself, Stephen makes his apology- and what a defense it is. He presents a lengthy lesson on Israel’s history to show the high priest and the Sanhedrin that they have wrongfully understood it. And they are compared to those who hindered the gospel, and not to the faithful of Israel’s past. Now look on Stephen’s first words, the words he launches his apology with- “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham.” The God of glory appeared! This is it- all that flows from the written word, all theology that is understood by man, all hope is based on these words. Without this appearance man was doomed. But the God of glory appeared! God came down and made a covenant with man. For no reason other than He chose to- He wanted to. He chose one man, Abraham, in which to establish the covenant, and then his offspring to follow. And in reading through the Old Testament you see Him faithfully keeping this covenant in miraculous and undeserving ways. And when you come to the New, you read passages like Romans 4 and Galatians 3, where Paul is showing that we, as gentiles, are heirs to this covenant not through bloodline, nor Levitical law; but through faith. “And if you are Christs, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29.” Just think on that! It is in this covenant that all our hope flows from.
Now the psalmist meditates on this covenant by reflecting on Israel’s history- from the making of this covenant to the exodus out of Egypt. Throughout the Bible we see God upholding this covenant and carrying His people in amazing ways. Bringing them through the impossible and establishing them as His people- never letting them be swallowed by the world. Now think on the last two thousand years of history as members of this eternal covenant. If you have read anything at all in church history, you have read of impossible odds, miraculous events, and a people of God being upheld through insurmountable obstacles. It is utterly amazing that the church exist as it does today. If you were to undertake the task of a detailed church history study of the last two thousand years, you would find there is no part of history that would not be touched on- politics, science, philosophy, conquest, cultures, revolutions, art, architecture, voyages, manifest destinies and on and on. It is truly HIS STORY! The Lord’s covenant is not only present in scripture, but in all history.
When reflecting on this, the question ultimately arises- Why did God decide to do this, to make covenant with man, or make a people unto himself in this way? Well it is a question we will not have an answer to until it is asked in eternity. But maybe we can see it in part. Look to the end of the psalm:
So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing. And he gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples toil, that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws. Praise the Lord!” vs 43-45
As Christians we tend to minimize our actions here on earth. We say we do not, but I think we all do inadvertently at some point. We hide behind Christ’s forgiveness, His substitution, His cleansing of us, faith not law and so on (and of course these are all true) - but the Bible does not minimize our actions at all. In fact our actions are an extremely key theme in scripture and are of the utmost importance. Throughout the Old and New, the Bible calls us to a life of obedience. Read 1 John, Ezekiel 36, Matthew 12:36, Revelation 22:12, the Sermon on the Mount, the last few chapters of any epistle. We could list an endless amount of passages speaking on obedience. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” It is interesting to note, that it is easy to picture Judgement day and seeing ourselves called to the “salvation” side of Christ’s return and avoiding the judgement of the unsaved- God telling you to stand safely over here while He judges the world. But the Bible never paints that picture. We will all stand before God. Obedience in our lives is one of the most overarching themes of the entire Bible. The Lord has made a covenant with man, drawn a people unto himself, taken away our heart of stone and given a heart of flesh, built a church (as Augustine called- a “City of God”) and has sustained it. And could one reason be, to have a people who love and obey his every word. A Christian. “Be holy as I am holy.”
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1