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29th April

Isaiah 42-44; Psalm 119:1-32

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
29th April

Isaiah 42-44; Psalm 119:1-32

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in Isaiah, we’ve read through the first half of Isaiah focused on the judgement and future hope of Jerusalem, the nations, and then judgement on Israel's leaders for here they put their trust.

Through these different preaches and visions, we gathered a series of images. God was about to pour judgement on the Israelites for their wickedness and corruption. This punishment was described like God laying an axe to a tree and just a stump remaining. It was destruction intended to purge and purify. Out of the remnant of his people, this tree stump, God would raise up a branch from the line of David, who would be king who reigned over the earth and brought peace.

Focusing on the foreign nations, we got mention of a 'day of the Lord'. On this day, God will bring judgement, waging war on evil and wickedness. He will destroy powers that set themselves up against him, whether they be human kings or spiritual beings. These foreign nations are judged for their pride, oppression, and wickedness. Isaiah specifically mentions Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Cush (Ethiopia), Egypt, and Tyre.

Focusing on Israel's leaders, Isaiah pointed out that the judicial leaders, the priests, and even some of those who claimed to be prophets were proud drunkards who put their trust in their own power and authority rather than God.

But through these preaches, Isaiah highlights some key ideas. The Israelites are not to turn to these foreign nations for support and protection. God is in control and will use all this for his purposes. Eventually, even these foreign nations will be brought into God's future kingdom. In that time, all people will celebrate, feast, and worship God, led by a king who will bring peace and flourishing.

Then yesterday we started the second half of Isaiah, written to the people after the exile, giving them a new hope. It was God that led the other nations to do what they did, not those nations' own strength of own gods. God was always in control and will lead his people to flourish again.

Isaiah 42-44

God begins talking about someone he refers to as 'my servant'. In the previous chapter, God calls the nation of Israel 'my servant' (Isaiah 41:8), and we will see this name for them pop up again (Isaiah 44:1; 45:4). So it would make sense that God is talking about Israel here.

But look at the language God uses to describe this servant. "I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations." (Isaiah 42:1). While this could refer to a nation, this kind of language is very similar to the language used when talking about the future king that will lead the people well. This servant will bring justice to the nations, he will be a light to the people, and he will inspire a new song of praise to God. This servant is an example of how all believers, all the people of God, should live.

In contrast with this servant, God turns back to Israel and calls them a blind servant. These blind servants could see and hear, but chose not to obey or listen. So God used them to magnify his the importance of his law. He let them be punished and ravaged by other nations. But despite all this, God still loves his people. He has now redeemed them and will be with them.

God says all this to remind them that even in their bleak times he was still in control, and he has not forgotten them but will restore them. God then calls his blind and death servants together and reminds them of who they are. “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.' (Isaiah 43:10).

He then reminds them of who he is, that he is the God that was before all things. He is the one that brought them back out of Babylon, the Holy One, Creator of Israel and king. He transforms the earth to bring order and abundance, making a path across the water and bring life to deserted places. But despite all this, his people did not call on him. They did not bring him offerings or sacrifices as they should.

God was willing to blot out their sins. He was willing to forgive them, but his people were not willing to be forgiven or to repent of what they have done, so he let them be destroyed. But now he is calling them back to him. They belong to him. He formed them and made them. He will pour out blessing upon them. God is trying to help his people recognise where they went wrong and encourage them that there is still hope. He is still willing to bless them and transform them.

God then tackles foreign gods and idols. There is no god like God, no one able to meet God's challenge. And idols are worthless. God then goes into detail about how metalworkers and carpenters go about making their idols. His point? These idols aren't anything special. They are made with human hands and are nothing more than hunks of metal or wood. The wood that a man makes into an idol is also the same wood he uses to cook his bread. And yet he still prays to this idol, hoping it might save him.

Instead, let Israel call out and sing to God, because he is the one who rescues them. He is the one that will help them rebuild and live in the land once more.

Psalm 119:1-32

This psalm isn’t attributed to anyone in particular and falls into the category of wisdom psalm. A couple of days ago, we read the shortest psalm in the Bible, Psalm 117. In contrast, Psalm 119 is the longest at 176 verses. Because of this, we’re going to split this psalm across six days.

Each stanza has eight verses each, and each verse within a stanza starts with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. With twenty-two stanzas, we have a different stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In many ways, this psalm can be seen as the A-B-Cs of Biblical wisdom.

Psalm 119:1-8 - Aleph (א): Blessed are those who walk according to the law

Psalm 119:9-16 - Beth (ב): Treasure up the ways of the Lord from youth

Psalm 119:17-24 - Gimel (ג): Be good to me so that I may understand

Psalm 119:25-32 - Daleth (ד): Even when I’m low, your word strengthens me

Much like Psalm 1, this psalm starts with a blessing for those who walk in the ways of the Lord. Here Psalm 119 ties that specifically those who walk in the law of the Lord, who keep his decrees. It is through God’s word and commands that we learn how to live. We are required to be faithful to the God’s commands and steadfast in keeping them. This is how we avoid being put to shame.

The second stanza is focused on how might young people learn to keep their ways pure. The answer is by keeping to God’s word. The psalmist treasures the word of God in their heart. They delight in it and meditate on it. And they ask God to help them keep it. They recognise it’s not something we can do on our own.

In the third stanza, the psalmist asks God to be good to them so that they can keep God’s word. Top open their eyes so they can understand it properly. The psalmist is surrounded by people that don’t love God or keep his ways. The examples around them are bleak. So the psalmist asks that God continually bring his word before them and help them keep them.

For the fourth stanza, the psalmist shares some of their own struggles. They often feel low and filled with sorrow. Because of this, they recognise it is the Lord’s words that revive and strengthen them. It is understanding God’s ways and meditating on what he has done that keeps the psalmist going. Because of this they cling to the Lord’s words.

We’ll see many similar ideas and language repeated throughout this psalm. The whole point of the psalm was that it was structured in a way that meant it could be easily memorised. Then, once memorised, it could be meditated upon. The repetitive themes and language all help this purpose.

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.

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