Numbers 34, Psalm 78:40-72, Isaiah 26, 1 John 4

DateVersionReading Plan
@May 25, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Numbers 34

Numbers 34:1–2 (ESV) 34 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Command the people of Israel, and say to them, When you enter the land of Canaan (this is the land that shall fall to you for an inheritance, the land of Canaan as defined by its borders),

The chapter is largely dedicated to the description of tribal boundaries for the promised land and the appointment of chiefs, but Matthew Henry’s commentary illuminates an aspect of the land that is easy to miss, namely its size:

Canaan was of small extent; as it is here bounded, it is but about 160 miles in length, and about 50 in breadth; yet this was the country promised to the father of the faithful, and the possession of the seed of Israel. This was that little spot of ground, in which alone, for many ages, God was known…how little a share of the world God gives to his own people. Those who have their portion in heaven, have reason to be content with a small pittance of this earth. Yet a little that a righteous man has, having it from the love of God, and with his blessing, is far better and more comfortable than the riches of many wicked.

Psalm 78:40-72

Psalm 78:67–69 (ESV) 67 He rejected the tent of Joseph; he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, 68 but he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loves. 69 He built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever.

God was selective of the tribe whose land His sanctuary would be built. It was not to be Joseph or Ephraim, but Mount Zion of Judah. As the FSB Notes points out, “The temple mount in Jerusalem and often used synonymously for Jerusalem in general.” From this nation would come David, whose ancestral line would eventually lead to Jesus. It is amazing to ponder how the psalmist’s words here tie in with the fulfilled promise of the Messiah that would arrive from the line of David, the Lion of Judah.

Isaiah 26

Isaiah 26:16–19 (ESV) 16 O LORD, in distress they sought you; they poured out a whispered prayer when your discipline was upon them. 17 Like a pregnant woman who writhes and cries out in her pangs when she is near to giving birth, so were we because of you, O LORD; 18 we were pregnant, we writhed, but we have given birth to wind. We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen. 19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.

In response to their distress, they sought the LORD by pouring out a whispered prayer. The people are compared to a pregnant woman nearing delivery and crying out in her pangs. However, they gave birth to wind and accomplished no deliverance, admitting their failure to conquer the inhabitants of the world. Despite this, God tells them that their dead shall live and bodies rise. There will be a restoration, a freshness and renewal like morning dew. By this we see the fruitlessness of our self-initiation and the grace of our God who alone brings new life and victory.

1 John 4

1 John 4:8–9 (ESV) 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

John ties the act of loving others with knowing God. Those who do not love also do not know God because God is love. This does not mean that love is God, but that it is one of His attributes, like holiness and righteousness. It is because of this perfect love that God was made manifest through the person and work of Jesus. God condescended as human and was sent into the world to be sacrificed in our stead in order that we might live through Him. It is by the great love He has shown us that compels our love for others.

Carson on Psalm 78:40-72

Christians know how the storyline of Psalm 78 develops. David’s dynasty descends into corruption; God’s wrath is greater yet, and the Exile ensues. But worse wrath, and more glorious love, were yet to be displayed in the cross.

Carson summarizes well the perspective we have as Christians reading Psalm 78 from this side of the cross. We know of the redemption that would come through David’s line: the arrival, the ministry, the crucifixion and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.