Pillar of Fire (Psalm 105)
Pillar of Fire
In what ways has God been good to you in the past?
1) Christian parents;
2) A largely positive upbringing - despite moving around so much;
3) A good job experience in high school;
4) A good college experience in undergraduate school;
5) A positive internship at the Seibles Road church of Christ;
6) Positive friendships that still exist today;
7) A positive college experience in graduate school;
8) More friendships that still exist today;
9) A wonderful Christian wife;
10) Largely positive experiences as a youth minister;
11) Two wonderful daughters (and now a wonderful son-in-law and grandson);
12) Largely positive experiences on the mission field;
13) More friendships which still exist today;
14) Positive experiences as a local minister in KY and MI;
15) More friendships that are still developing.
When you stop to think about the blessings God has given to you, it ought to:
1) Compel you to be thankful to God;
2) Worship God;
3) Tell others about God.
This psalm 105 is a “Hallel” psalm because of the last statement in the last verse, verse 45: Hallelujah! Which translated means: “Praise the Lord!”
Let’s feed our spirits on this psalm this evening…
THE CALL - 105:1-7:
Meditate on these commands which are found in the first five verses:
1) Verse 1 - Give thanks to Jehovah;
2) Call on His name - which means not just to express your confidence and hope in Him but to base your life on Him;
3) Make known among the peoples (or nations) His deeds (this verb “make known” is the same verb translated “give thanks” in verse 1; we translate it differently because the subject of the verb is different;
4) Verse 2 - Sing to Him;
5) Praise or sing praises to Him;
6) Speak or be concerned about His wonders;
7) Verse 3 - Glory (“boast” or “praise”) in His holy name;
8) Let the heart be glad (jussive) - those seeking the Lord (observe here that the heart that is glad is the one who is actively seeking the Lord;
9) Verse 4 - Seek the Lord and His strength;
10) Seek His face (the same verb used in the participle at the end of verse 3) continually;
11) Verse 5 - Remember His wonders which He did, His marvels, and the judgments of His mouth (see here that the psalmist wants his people to remember the words and judgments from the mouth of God);
To whom is the psalmist speaking? Verse 6 - “The seed of of Abraham, His servant, the sons of Jacob, His chosen.” So, Israel was the chosen people of God, the family of Jacob, the seed of Abraham. That is the psalmist’s audience.
Notice the theological basis for this call: Verse 7 - “He is Jehovah, our God, in all the earth [are] His judgments.” In other words, the psalmist is saying: “Regardless of where you look, you will see the works of God.”
Notice what the psalmist calls God’s works:
Now the psalmist is going to start reviewing the works of God with His people Israel…
THE PATRIARCHS - 105:8-15:
The covenant mentioned in verse 8 is likely the covenant God made with Abraham starting in Genesis 12, but it was repeated several times through his own life as well as in the life of Isaac and Jacob.
Notice that “the word which He commanded” is a synonym for “covenant.” This covenant was given to Israel indefinitely. Of course, it was designed to bring Israel to Jesus Christ and then be nailed to the cross. But the psalmist is saying that God has remembered that covenant.
He made that covenant with Abraham (ver. 9) and here is another synonym: oath (made to Isaac).
He confirmed that same covenant to Jacob “for a statute” (ver. 10, another synonym). It is an “everlasting covenant.” Let me emphasize here that this word “everlasting” does not mean permanent and it does not mean eternal. The word literally, and most often in the OT, means indefinitely - the promise and the law were to last until Christ came and the NT is emphatic on that point.
So the aspect of the covenant which the psalmist mostly has in mind is the promise of the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants - verse 11.
God gave them that promise when they were “few men in number” (ver. 12). Jonathan said, “the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few” (1 Sam. 14:6) and that principle is illustrated lots of times in the OT.
The patriarchs wandered around in that land, from nation to nation, from kingdom to kingdom (ver. 13). Here, the psalmist is summarizing Genesis 12-38.
God did not allow any other nation to oppress His chosen family (ver. 14) and, in fact, He reproved kings for the sake of the patriarchs - a reference to events like:
Pharaoh of Egypt and Abraham in Genesis 13;
The kidnapping of Lot in Genesis 14;
Abimelech and Abraham in Genesis 20;
The Philistines and Isaac in Genesis 26;
Jacob and Laban in Genesis 29-31;
The Shechemites and Jacob’s sons Levi and Reuben in Genesis 34.
In other words, God walked with the patriarchs and often times saved them from the consequences of their own short-sightedness - all because He had made a covenant with Abraham. In essence God told those peoples who interacted with the patriarchs: “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.” The word “prophet” is only used once in Genesis (20:7), referring to Abraham. But God may have had the other patriarchs in mind as well.
THE SOJOURN IN EGYPT - 105:16-25:
In this verse, the psalmist moves into the period of the Egyptian sojourn and the exodus from slavery. God sent a famine on the land of the Mediterranean world (ver. 16) and He “broke the staff of bread.”
But God took care of His people through the patriarch named Joseph (ver. 17). Now the psalmist is moving into Genesis 39-50. Joseph was sold into slavery, which was God’s way of getting him into Egypt.
The Egyptians did not treat Joseph well at first: afflicting his feet with fetters and laying him in irons. The “word of the Lord tested Joseph” (ver. 19) until Joseph’s words came to pass: interpreting the dreams of the baker, butler, and Pharaoh himself.
At that point, the Egyptian king Pharaoh released Joseph from prison (ver. 20) and set him free. He made him lord of his own house (ver. 21) and ruler over all his possessions. Joseph was second in command of Egypt.
Pharaoh imprisoned the “princes” or leaders of Israel in order to teach them wisdom. God was using the difficult experiences of Israel in Egypt to teach, train, discipline His people to love God and serve Him. James writes: “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
So Israel came into Egypt (ver. 23), even Jacob the patriarch. Joseph, in Egypt, caused His people to be very fruitful and made them stronger than their adversaries.
This is a reference likely to Exodus 1:7: “But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them.” Egypt enslaved the Israelites because they were afraid of them.
Pharaoh turned the Egyptians’ hearts to hate God’s people and dealt craftily or deceitfully with God’s servants.
THE EXODUS - 105:26-39:
So then God sent Moses (ver. 26) and Aaron.
They performed God’s “wondrous acts” among the Egyptians - a reference to the ten plagues - and “miracles” in the land of “Ham.”
Among the “miracles” and “wondrous acts” were:
The plague of darkness (ver. 28) at which the Egyptians did not rebel;
The plague of turning water into blood (ver. 29), which caused the fish to die;
The plague of frogs (ver. 30) which even found their way into the chambers of the Pharaoh;
The plague of flies (ver. 31);
The plague of gnats (ver. 31);
The plague of hail (ver. 32) with flaming fire - this struck down the vines and fig trees and other trees in the territory of Egypt (ver. 33);
The plague of locusts (ver. 34), without number - they ate up all the vegetation and fruit of the ground (ver. 35);
The plague of the death of the first born (ver. 36), the first fruits of their vigor.
That’s eight of the ten plagues God sent over Pharaoh and the Egyptians.
But God brought out the Israelites (ver. 37), despite all those wondrous works, with their arms full of silver and gold and not one stumbled as they came out of Egyptian slavery.
In fact, the Egyptians were glad when Israel left, for they feared Israel and Israel’s God (ver. 38).
At the Red Sea (ver. 39), God covered Israel with a cloud for a covering, from the Egyptian army and He also led them at night with the pillar of fire.
THE WILDERNESS - 105:40-45:
Israel asked for meat and God gave them quail (ver. 40) and He satisfied them with “bread from heaven,” a poetic description of the manna. That event is recounted in Exodus 16.
God even opened up the rock and water flowed out (Exodus 17); it ran in the dry places like a river (ver. 41).
God continued to bless Israel and work with them because He remembered the covenant He made with Abraham His servant (ver. 42).
God brought His people out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, and through the wilderness “with joy” and they expressed their thanks to God “with joyful shout” (ver. 43).
Then verse 44 recounts the time of Joshua and the Judges: God gave the lands of the nations - the land of Canaan - to Israel, the family of Abraham and they took possession of the peoples’ labor - the fruit from trees Israel did not plant and the vegetables from the ground Israel did not sow.
The purpose of all these blessings…? Verse 45: “So that they might keep His statutes and observe His laws.” Then the psalmist ends with a final call to worship: “Paise the Lord!” or “Hallelujah!”
THE MESSAGE FOR CHRISTIANS:
While I don’t want to belittle God’s call for us to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel (Eph. 4:1), it is also true that when all is said and done, we will have said more than we did. We cannot earn our salvation and we should not fret that we haven’t done enough to make God pleased with us. You and I know, in our hearts, if we really are doing the best we can and all we can to serve our Savior.
But for those of us who are faithful but still doubt…
“It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” 2 Tim 2:11–13.
The Father is the one “who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” Col 1:12.
Jesus Christ “will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of” His appearing” (1 Co 1:8).
Give thanks to the Lord for what He has done for you.
Make known His good works among the peoples.
Sing to Him, Sing praises to Him.
Speak of all His wonders.
Seek the Lord and His strength.
Seek His face continually.
Remember His wonders which He has done for you.
God has remembered His covenant which He made with us through Jesus Christ. He will bring that covenant to its completion on my behalf and yours.
Take home message: When you doubt… remember Christ is faithful and He is able to bring your salvation to its completion.