Wednesday: Psalms 111-114 & 1 John 3.16-18

From Jonathan Bailes

Psalms 111-112: These two psalms should be read together.  In the Hebrew text, they follow the same acrostic pattern and the end of Psalm 111, mentioning the fear of the Lord, is a clear transition into the beginning of Psalm 112.  The first psalm celebrates the magnalia Dei, the great deeds of God that inform our understanding of His identity and character.  God's acts are "wondrous" and are marked by grace and mercy (v 4).  His power is manifested in His redemption of His people and His provision of their needs (vv 6-8).  And wisdom, the theme of the following psalm, comes from an understanding of these works that leads to reverence and praise (v 10).  Psalm 112 gives us greater insight into the nature of the wisdom that is characteristic of those who follow this God.  What is perhaps most noteworthy is that the wise person mirrors the moral perfections witnessed in the magnalia Dei.  Like God, the wise are gracious and merciful (v 4).  The wise distribute freely and generously to those in need and their righteousness endures forever (v 9).  How can we be wise?  We can contemplate the mighty and righteous acts of God, allow this contemplation to lead us to praise and reverence, and in a spirit of praise and gratitude, imitate the goodness we have seen in God toward those around us.

Psalms 113-114: Like Psalm 111, these are psalms of praise that again focus on the magnalia Dei witnessed in the history of God's relationship to Israel.  The first focuses on the benevolence of God, who rescues those who are poor and needy from their distress (think of the Exodus) and gives children to the barren (Rachel, Hannah, etc.).  The second praises God's power over nature itself as witnessed in the event of the Exodus, depicting the Red Sea and Jordan as fleeing from God and the mountains (perhaps Sinai) as skipping at His presence.  Behold the glory of God, which causes the earth to tremble and the poor to rejoice.  

I John 3.16-18: Here is a message not far removed from what we read in Psalms 111-112.  Here John refers to the greatest of all the great acts of God, one that the psalmist could have only anticipated through a glass dimly. "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us." And once again, this great act of God beckons our imitation.  In the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth, God has given us a pattern for love, one that goes beyond words.  When we were in need, God loved us with more than comforting words or wise moral guidance.  When we were in need, God came down and He loved us in deed, even to the point of death.  Shall we love any other way?