Joshua 3, Psalms 126–128, Isaiah 63, Matthew 11

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

Joshua 3

Joshua 3:11–13 (ESV) 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. 12 Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. 13 And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”

As a divine gesture to show that the LORD was with Joshua as He was with Moses, the LORD would make the waters of the Jordan stand still and the people would pass over on dry ground. This clearly parallels the events of the Red Sea (Exod. 14:21-22) following the exodus of the people from Egypt, but some of the details differ. Rather than dividing the waters by the stretching out of the hand, the LORD would cut off the Jordan from flowing when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark rested in its waters. Similar to the splitting of the Red Sea in which the waters were made “a wall to them on their right hand and on their left” (Exod. 14:22b), the waters of the Jordan “coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” (Josh. 3:13b). Because the Red Sea is a still body of water and the Jordan a river, the means of stoppage were different, but both events demonstrate God’s favor of His people and complete dominion over His creation.

Psalms 126–128

Psalm 127:1–2 (ESV) 1 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Solomon speaks of the vanity of building a house or a watchman staying awake apart from the LORD. We see this theme of vanity also play out in the Book of Ecclesiastes, of which Solomon is also the author. Interestingly, a different Hebrew word is used in these verses (שָׁוְא, which means “worthless” or “futile”) as is used in Ecclesiastes (הֶ֫בֶל, which means “vapor”, “breath”, “vanity”). Solomon had wealth beyond measure and realized late in his life the futility of chasing every good thing this world could offer. He came to see—as we must as well—that there is nothing to be acquired or achieved that eclipses the all-surpassing worth of knowing and abiding in the LORD.

Isaiah 63

Isaiah 63:10–11 (ESV) 10 But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. 11 Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people. Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit,

The rebellion of God’s people grieved His Holy Spirit, prompting Him to turn and become their enemy. The Holy Spirit is mentioned twice in these two verses, being among a relative few number of references in the OT compared to the NT. The response of grief here expressed by the Holy Spirit gives strong indication of His personhood, to be further developed in Scripture through progressive revelation. Centuries later, Paul also gave strong admonition against grieving the Holy Spirit “by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Eph. 4:30). This third Person of the Triune God is indeed fully God, sharing in all divine attributes of Father and Son, guiding us in all manner of sanctification, worthy of our praise and our striving to bless Him through our obedience and righteous conduct.

Matthew 11

Matthew 11:7–9 (ESV) 7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

Jesus speaks to the people regarding John the Baptist whom He considered greater than any man born of women. He confronts the people with a number of rhetorical questions as to whom they had gone to see in the wilderness. The Believer’s Bible Commentary provides helpful insight on this discourse and of the character of John:

As soon as John’s disciples departed with Jesus’ words of reassurance, the Lord turned to the multitudes with words of glowing praise for the Baptist. This same crowd had flocked to the desert when John was preaching there. Why? To see some weak, vacillating reed of a man, shaken by every passing wind of human opinion? Certainly not! John was a fearless preacher, an embodied conscience, who would rather suffer than be silent, and rather die than lie. Had they gone out to see a well-dressed palace courtier, luxuriating in comfort? Certainly not! John was a simple man of God whose austere life was a rebuke to the enormous worldliness of the people.

Carson on Psalm 127

alone among the songs of ascent this one is ascribed to Solomon. Sadly, Solomon is a figure whose great wisdom was sometimes not followed in his own life: his own building program, both physical and metaphorical, became foolish (1 Kings 9:10–19), his kingdom a ruin (1 Kings 11:11–13; see the October 8 meditation), and his household — not least his multiplied pagan marriages — a systematic denial of the claims of the living God (1 Kings 11:1–9). How important to ask God for the grace to live up to what we understand!

Carson provides more specifics regarding Solomon and that this is the only psalm of ascents ascribed to him (a detail I had not previously known). Solomon’s negative example and the consequences that resulted from his foolish exploits should instill a heart-level conviction to guard against doing likewise. Ours is to be a steadfast, Godward posture, pleading with the Spirit that we be granted sensitivity to His leading, an enduring wisdom and the earnest desire to seek His glory.