3rd January

Genesis 8-11; Psalm 3

Bible in a Year
4 minutes

Genesis 8-11

The flood waters reside. Noah, his family, and the animals are once again on dry land, and God gives Noah his blessing. It’s like everything has been made good again. But then the continued effect of the fall behind to show itself again. Noah gets drunk and his son Ham takes advantage of this. From the text it’s clear that something worse than taking a look at his dad’s naked body, but it’s not clear what exactly he did. Some suggest that later on in Leviticus uncovering a man’s “nakedness” meant sleeping with his wife, and that here Ham was making a play at being the leader of the family by sleeping with his father’s wife. Very different times indeed. Either way, what is clear is that the brokenness of humanity is still very much an issue.

We then speed forward as one family becomes many. The author begins listing the various descendants of Noah. But these aren’t random people. Each of these names represents a different tribe or nation. In this list we see all the different people groups that were known at the time. One name that is given special mention is Nimrod. This guy is an incredible hunter, but he also begins to form the first empire. He starts his empire in Babel (which later will become Babylon) builds many more cities. One important one is Nineveh in the land of Assyria. Anyone who is familiar with their Old Testament will know these two cities, Babylon and Nineveh, will become quite important.

The issue is when God told humanity to be fruitful and multiply, he expected them to spread out in their creativity. He wanted to see different tribes and cultures pop up, each looking slightly different but all united in their humanity. Empires tend to do away with this. They aim to spread one homogenised culture wherever they go, removing the individual identity.

This continues to the point where the people of earth are developing new technologies such as brick (someone had to develop it) and building great cities. They decide to build a giant tower. This may not seem significant, but during this time mountains were where heaven meets earth, and these giant towers were like man-made mountains. In other words, they were building a tower to launch an attack on heaven. God notes that at this rate humanity would spend the rest of eternity working together to take back their immortality at force. There was no chance for a relationship when they were like this. 

So God divides up humanity into different groups of people with different languages. No longer able to communicate with one another easily, and now part of separate groups, humanity would now focus on dealing with one another rather than on openly waging war on God, not that they were ever a threat.

It’s not made clear in this passage, but later on (Deuteronomy 32:8) we see that God actually disinherited the nations here. By this we mean that he decided that he would no longer be God to these people. Instead he put angels in charge of the nations and these angels would deal with the nations so he didn’t have to. The Fall is now complete. Not only did humanity reject God in Genesis 3, but they showed their willingness to group themselves in Genesis 6 and now they’ve brought God to the point where he would rather break up his own kingdom then let them continue as they were. 

So what’s next? Well, we get a brief glimpse at the end of Genesis 11. Now that God has disinherited, or disowned, humanity, he needs a new people that he will be God to. And these new people are going to come from a man called Abram.

Psalm 3 

This psalm is attributed to King David when he had to flee from his son Absalom (2 Samuel 15-19). This idea is that either David wrote this psalm, or someone else wrote it as they were meditating on this story, a poem, working through the emotions David must have been feeling at the time. 

The psalm is categorised as a Lament Psalm, which make up over a third of all psalms (see Psalm 22, 44, 88, 90, 141 for examples of other Lament Psalms). Biblical lament is whenever a person takes their pains, hurts, and frustrations before God. It tends to include four steps; turning to God, bringing the complaint, making a request of God, and then declaring trust in God. We see this in the structure of Psalm 3.

Psalm 3:1-2 - The complaint

Psalm 3:3 - Declaring trust in God

Psalm 3:4-5 - Remembering what he has done before

Psalm 3:6 - Declaring trust in God

Psalm 3:7 - Asking God to rescue them and defeat their enemies

Psalm 3:8 - Declaring trust in God

This psalm was typically sung in the morning. It opens with a reminder that sometimes it seems like we are surrounded by opposition, oppositions that is declaring there is no hope for us. The response to this is to declare the truth of who God is. We can support this with reminding ourselves of his goodness to us in the past. We do not need to be afraid, because God has answered us and sustained us in the past and he will do it again.

The psalmist the invites God into this pain and struggle. To rescue them and strike down this opposition. Finally the psalmist ends, challenging the declarations of their oppositions. In Psalm 3:2 the opponents declared there is no salvation for him, but in Psalm 3:8 he responds that ‘salvation belongs to the Lord’.

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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© Bryn Joslin