Leviticus 24-25; Psalm 38
Nearing the end of Leviticus, we have a collection of some final bits and pieces. First, we have some instructions on the daily objects that are needed in the tabernacle. Oil for the lamps and bread. This followed yesterday’s reading, where we looked at the annual feasts. In other words, both the annual and the daily practices of worship are important.
We then get a case where a man blasphemes the name of God. It’s unclear whether blasphemy then is the same as blasphemy now, but either way it’s taken very seriously.
What’s interesting is that this man is from the tribe of Dan (Leviticus 24:11). When we looked at Jacob blessing his sons, we noted how Dan’s blessing was actually negative. Here we see more of that negative connotation, and this will continue as we read further in the Bible.
The people imprison him while they enquire of God. The man’s sin has contaminated the land and the nearby people. Those that heard the blasphemy are to place their hands on the head of the man, transferring that contamination back to him.
Then they are to stone him. This may seem harsh or strange, but if you remember how the people were to view cleanliness and sin as contamination, you remember that they have to remove it at any cost.
Leviticus 25 unpacks the Sabbath year and the year of Jubilee. In the same way that the people were to work six days and then rest on the seventh, they were also meant to work the land for six years and let the land rest on the seventh.
Here in the wilderness the people had to trust God’s provision on the sixth day, that he would give them enough that they didn’t need to go out on the seventh. This was to be replicated in the land they were going to, that they would trust in God’s provision for the crop of the sixth year, so they didn’t need to go out and farm in the seventh.
Then after seven Sabbath years, on the fiftieth year, they would have a year of Jubilee. This year was basically a poverty reset. Those that had to sell themselves into slavery because they were poor were freed. Those that had to sell their property because they were poor were given it back.
This was to be a reminder that God was the owner of the land. He lets the people live there. No one could store up land and wealth for themselves and claim it was theirs, because every fifty years they had to give it all back.
This psalm is attributed to king David, and falls into the category of lament psalm, specifically a psalm or repentance. Their psalmist’s sin has brought them grief, and they now bring this grief before God.
Psalm 38:1 - A prayer for mercy
Psalm 38:2-10 - My sin is like a sickness that keeps me from God
Psalm 38:11-14 - My relationship with those around me is broken
Psalm 38:15-20 - Now I wait for God and repent of my sin
Psalm 38:21-22 - A prayer for mercy
The psalm opens with a request for mercy from God. For the psalmist, it feels like God is punishing them. The weight of their sin has become too much to bear.
The psalmist describes their sin like a sickness. This could easily be interpreted that God sends sickness to those who sin, but that would be a dangerous way to view God.
Instead, this psalmist is merely using sickness as a metaphor for their sin. It has spread through their body, corrupted everything, and made them feel awful.
The psalmist shares how their sin brings them to grieve each day. Their desire is for God, and yet he seems so far away right now.
In a similar way, the sin has caused brokenness in the psalmist’s relationships. Those who were once close to them, their friends and family, now avoid them. There also unsavoury characters that seek them harm and maybe resent the psalmist’s attempt to get right with God.
The psalmist describes himself as like a deaf and mute man. In response to the abuse he gets, all he can do is try to ignore them. He can’t defend himself.
But through all this, the psalmist now waits upon God. They are willing to repent of their sin and give themselves over to God’s hand. They would much rather fall into God’s hands than into the hands of their enemies, who seek evil even though the psalmist is seeking good.
And so the psalm ends how it began, with a request for mercy. In this psalm we see how devastating sin can be to our lives, and the need to confess it before God and repent of our wrong.
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.