Yesterday we looked at an ancient list of right and wrong, and considered God’s consistent commands that we live our lives in a certain way. We also celebrated that in Jesus we have forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love to hold us up when the obeying gets hard.
Today, we turn to Psalm 65. Lo and behold, we find a joyous song of praise to the God who provides and forgives even those who are overwhelmed in sin. Yes, long before Jesus was born, the people of Israel understood that they weren’t saved by their own righteousness and faithfulness, but by God’s righteousness and faithfulness. This joyful truth is proclaimed all throughout the Old Testament—and here in this song of praise.
Listen to the joy of the people relishing in the wonders of God’s house—not because they deserve or earned their way there, but by God’s invitation. They declare that God chose to bring them near to live in His courts.
God cares for the land, providing water, pouring out abundantly so that all can eat and drink. Because of God’s gifts, the mountains and valleys, grasslands and wilderness all shout for joy in song.
Even here, thousands of years ago and long before the Messiah, the Bible never indicated we could be saved by our own obedience. It was always God’s grace. God is the gracious Creator who pours out abundantly. If God cares for the grasslands and the seas, how much more does He care for you?
And, amid so much nurturing care, God asks—commands—that we live a certain way.
If we don’t, God will still love us, still call us children. But we will suffer. And we will bring suffering on others. That hasn’t changed either, and we’ve seen it so vividly this week in Ezekiel and the Psalms (and more than likely in our real lives too).
But in God’s mercy and compassion, He is always calling us back.
Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple. (Psalm 65:4)
Questions for reflection and discussion: Do you struggle to believe that God loves you only when you are perfect? Or do you struggle to remember that even covered by God’s grace, God wants us to live a certain way? What do you see in the Old Testament that beautifully and powerfully speaks of God’s gracious and compassionate provision?