In the beginning of Exodus, we see the story pick up from Genesis. Jacob’s family has settled down and they’ve begun to multiply and fill the land. But after many years of this, the Egyptians start to get afraid.
There are now a lot of Israelites, and if they decided to overthrow the Egyptians, they would be a real threat. First, they begin to oppress them and treat them like slaves, then they threaten to kill all the first-born sons. Yet despite all this, God still continues to make the Israelites prosper.
It is into this setting that Moses comes on the scene. His mother gives birth to him and hides him for a bit before dropping him off at the river bank. We often think of this as a huge risk. What if the child drowns? But the river wouldn’t have had a strong current, the reeds would have kept the basket protected, and the women of the area would have come true river regularly to wash their clothes.
In some ways, this was a common practice. Just as people used to leave babies at the doorstep of the orphanage knowing they’ll be found, woman from this era would leave their babies at the river bed, knowing that they would be found by those coming to wash their clothes.
Yet it still required a lot of trust of Moses’ mother. She needed the right person to find her son. Someone who was able to look after him and who wouldn’t kill him as the Egyptians had asked.
So Moses grows up and developed a strong sense of justice. He sees an Egyptian oppressing one of the Israelites and kills him. Right heart, wrong action. He then sees some of fellow Israelites fighting and seeks to bring peace, but they challenge him and he realises that people are out to get them.
He flees into the wilderness, and there jumps to the aid of some shepherd girls, making sure they have access to the well and watering their flock for them. He may have made some mistakes, but from the beginning Moses is clearly a man of strong character.
Then we get the burning bush. There’s a lot we could talk about. Moses is told to takes his sandals off because the ground is holy. Why is the ground holy? Because God’s presence is there. God’s presence makes things holy.
God sees those who are oppressed, and his heart is to lead them out of oppression into freedom. He calls Moses to that purpose, and thousands of years later that’s his call to us, to bring freedom to that who are captive.
God then gives Moses his true name. Lots of translations translate it as ‘Lord’, which is less than ideal because in English ‘Lord’ is a title, not a name. In Hebrew, his name is YHWH (יהוה), also known as Yahweh. Going forward whenever you see ‘Lord’ in all caps you know that behind that is the proper name of God.
This psalm is attributed to King David and fits into the category of lament psalm. The psalmist calls to God, raises their complaint, asks God to intervene, and the declares their trust in God.
Psalm 17:1-2 - A call for the Lord to listen
Psalm 17:3-5 - A call for God to intervene because of the psalmist’s innocence
Psalm 17:6-8 - A call for God to intervene because of his love
Psalm 17:9-12 - A call for God to intervene because of the psalmist’s enemies
Psalm 17:13-14 - A call to God to punish the psalmist’s enemies
Psalm 17:15 - A declaration of trust in God
The psalm opens with an appeal to God. The psalmist asks God to listen to his prayers, allow them in his presence, and vindicate them. They point out that God has had everything opportunity to test them, and they have proven themselves innocent of any offense.
The psalmist isn’t claiming they’ve never sinned here. Instead, they are pointing out that they’ve not done anything specific to deserve the struggle they are going through. This issue they are facing isn’t their fault. Instead, they have lived with integrity.
But God should not only intervene because the psalmist is innocent. The Lord is a God of faithfulness and love. He does not turn away from those who are oppressed.
Then the psalmist turns his focus to his enemies. They lack pity. They speak arrogantly. They use their strength to prey on the weak. The psalmist ask God to intervene and to deal with his enemies, because right now it just looks like God is rewarding them for their wickedness.
Having brought his complaint to God, the psalmist now declares his trust. He allows the truth of God’s righteousness and goodness to lead him forward.
Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.
Understanding the context of your passage is always important. BibleProject always do an incredible job of breaking down each book so you can see how your passage fits into the wider story.
The Naked Bible Podcast is for those that want intense Bible study. Be warned, many will find these podcasts go too deep for them. The fact that there are 10 episodes, average an hour each, just working through the first three chapters of Exodus should give you a hint of what you're getting into. But for those that persevere this will be a rich source of teaching for you.Check the podcast out here
BibleProject have done an animated recap of Exodus 1-18 to help you fit today's passage into the overarching story of Exodus.
Spoken Gospel outlines the book of Exous and point out some of the key themes, all in the medium of spoken word.
This Bible study devotional covers Exodus chapters 1-2. Here we see God working for his people and purposes in spite of the worst human suffering.
As always, Spoken Gospel are committed to showing you how Jesus fulfills these specific passages. In Exodus 1-2, we see that Jesus is the one who went through the worst human suffering to fulfill God's purposes and make us his people.
This Bible study devotional covers Exodus chapters 3-4. Here we see God, the I Am, calling Moses to rescue Israel from slavery in Egypt.
As always, Spoken Gospel are committed to showing you how Jesus fulfills these specific passages. In Exodus 3-4, we see that Jesus is the I Am, the new and better Moses, who rescues us from slavery to sin and death.