Numbers 8, Psalm 44, Song of Songs 6, Hebrews 6

DateVersionReading Plan
@May 1, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Numbers 8

Numbers 8:16–18 (ESV) 16 For they are wholly given to me from among the people of Israel. Instead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the people of Israel, I have taken them for myself. 17 For all the firstborn among the people of Israel are mine, both of man and of beast. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I consecrated them for myself, 18 and I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel.

The firstborn among the people belonged to the Lord but, in their place, He took the Levites to Himself to be dedicated to His service. Their duties were to be performed between the ages of 25-50, after which they were released of the heavy work of carrying the tabernacle but could still minister to their brothers and keep guard. The CSB Notes provides some additional context:

The Levites served as assistants to the Aaronic priests, transporting and maintaining sanctuary structures and implements. They also served as guardians against encroachment upon the holiness of the sanctuary. The substitutionary role of the Levites for the firstborn of Israel is reiterated here (Num. 3:40–45; Exod. 13:11–16), with emphasis on the exodus event as the historical precedent for this legislation.

Psalm 44

Psalm 44:23–26 (ESV) 23 Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! 24 Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? 25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground. 26 Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

In despair, the psalmist boldly pleads with the Lord to wake from sleeping, perceiving that He had rejected His people. The tone is heavily accusatory, that God had hidden His face and forgotten their affliction and oppression. However, the psalmist ends his entreaty with an acknowledgement of God’s ability to redeem and of His steadfast love. This is a wonderful example of how raw we can be in our address of the Lord provided it stems from a sincere heart of faith. We are to come to Him with everything—however candid and unrefined as it may be—and He is ever faithful to listen.

Song of Songs 6

Song of Solomon 6:8–9 (ESV) 8 There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and virgins without number. 9 My dove, my perfect one, is the only one, the only one of her mother, pure to her who bore her. The young women saw her and called her blessed; the queens and concubines also, and they praised her.

Solomon refers to queens, concubines and virgins—three royal classes of women of privilege and likely beautiful in their own right—but they were of no compare to his dove, his perfect and only one. Solomon had many women during his reign as king, but this one surpassed them all. While he was certainly no model of monogamy, the devotion and loyalty he conveys here is admirable. It is an encouragement to the husbands, that among the many your eyes could gaze, there be only one on whom you long to look.

Hebrews 6

Hebrews 6:4–6 (ESV) 4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

The author of Hebrews speaks of how it is impossible to restore to repentance those who have tasted the heavenly gift and goodness of the word of God but then fallen away. As the FSB Notes points out, “Even after experiencing all that God has to offer, some people still choose to not follow Christ. They may participate in the faith community, but still walk away from faith.” Only by the work of the Spirit is the heart secured with enduring faith, convicted of indwelling sin and the vital need for salvation in Christ.

Carson on Numbers 8

Under the new covenant, Christ Jesus by his triumph has captured us, and to each one of us (Eph. 4:7) he has apportioned grace and then poured us back on the church as his “gifts to men.”

Carson relates the selection of the Levites to the New Covenant era of being apportioned by the grace of Christ to be “gifts to men”. What deep gratitude should we exhibit in our being adopted as sons and daughters of the King, assigned to the service of the kingdom. The gift we present to man is the message of Christ and the salvation obtained exclusively therein.