Saturday: Psalms 67-68 & 2 Kings 5.1-19

From Ryan Ruffing

 Psalm 67: This simple poem emphasizes the heart of a missionary God.  The opening lines show a simple logic – when God blesses his people, and makes his face shine upon them, then God’s ways become known to those who are far from him.  The psalmist speaks in deep agreement with God’s purposes to bring about faith in the whole world when he says “let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! (vs. 3 and 5)

 Psalm 68: The psalmist draws a clear distinction between those who are enemies of God, and the righteous.  The righteous are not in God’s favor because of what they have done, but because of the gracious action of God, who is “father of the fatherless, and protector of widows,” continuously giving good gifts - both spiritual gifts (such as the law, vs. 8) and physical gifts (such as rain, vs. 9).  This character of God as a good gift giver was so clear in the person of Jesus, that when Paul went to quote Psalm 68:18 in Ephesians 4:8, he actually changes the phrase “receiving gifts among men,” to “gave gifts to his people.” 

 2 Kings 5.1-19: The story of Elisha’s healing of Naaman tells us many things about God’s work in the world, including his obvious heart for those outside of Israel.  It also speaks clearly about God’s faithfulness even amidst our confusion about him.  In this story there are two major disconnects for Naaman.  First, he obviously expects some kind of flashy religious healing ceremony when he comes to Elisha – he wants him to wave his hands, and shout special words (vs. 11).  It is clear that what God wants is for Naaman to be healed physically and spiritually, and Naaman should care much less about how this is accomplished.   

Second, even after he is healed, and knows “there is no God in all the world except in Israel,” he still believes that somehow the LORD is confined to Israel’s land, which is why he requests to take the dirt from Israel with him in order to worship.  In a culture where deity was so much attached to place, it is clear that Naaman had simply taken what he previousy new about Caananite idols and applied it to the LORD.  What is astounding is that though he is clearly a work in progress, the LORD nonetheless blesses him and heals him, and goes with him.