With Isaac born, there’s now one last thing we need from Abraham. God decides to test him, to make sure this is definitely the kind of man, and the kind of family that he wants to lead the world back to him. So in a turn of surprise, God asks Abraham to sacrifice and kill his only remaining son, Isaac. This may seem completely out of character to us, but unfortunately it was fairly common at the time that people would sacrifice children to their gods.
For Abraham, this is a big test. Ishmael has been sent away, and Isaac is his last son. If he kills Isaac, his family dies out with him. There’s no one to carry on the family name, so to speak. And this was a big fear for people at the time. The idea of life after death wasn’t really clear during this period, and so the way to continue after you died was through the lives of your children and grandchildren.
But Abraham was committed to God. He was obedient and loyal and so did as he was told. He was willing to go all the way, and it was only at the last minute that God stopped him. Abraham had passed the test. His faith wasn’t merely a believing thing, it was lived out through his actions and obedience to God.
In return, God reaffirms his promise to Abraham and provides a lamb that Abraham and Isaac could sacrifice together. This became a lesson to Abraham and all his future descendants that God provides for his people.
This is the peak of Abraham’s journey, and so in many ways our time following him is almost done. But there are still two issues to address. The first is that reminder that though Abraham and his family are blessed by God, they are still mortal and will die. We get a long chapter on Sarah’s death and how Abraham handles that. If Abraham was the father of nations, Sarah was their mother, and so it was important to the future descendants that would be reading this that she be properly honoured and respected.
The second issue is that, for the family to continue, Isaac needs to marry. What follows is a beautiful chapter (Genesis 24) on the provision of God to bring two people together. While it’s never explicitly mentioned that God does anything in this chapter the reader is meant to have a clear sense that God is behind this in every step, from Abraham’s insistence that God will send an angel ahead of the servant, to the servant’s prayer and answer to prayer, to the moment that Isaac and Rachel meet and it’s clearly love at first sight. The lesson that we got from Abraham sacrificing Isaac in chapter 23 is now all the more clear here in chapter 24. God provides.
Finally, through chapter 24, we see the smooth transition from Abraham to Isaac. It is Abraham who first sends his servant off to find a wife. This servant sees Abraham as his master (Genesis 24:9) But by the end Rebekah points to Isaac and asks who he is and the servant replies “He is my master” (Genesis 24:65). It is as though Abraham has slowly stepped off stage and then Isaac steps forward. The new head of the family and main character of our story (even if it’s very briefly).
This psalm fits into the category of lament psalm, specifically a prayer of someone innocent, who has been accused of something false. I hope by now you can see how many of the psalms are lament psalms.
It is attributed to King David, about a time he was wrestling with the accusations of a man named Cush from the tribe of Benjamin. While there is no specific mention of Cush elsewhere in the Bible, this is not surprising. Saul and his family were from the tribe of Benjamin, and so there would be many from that tribe that believed David had unfairly stolen the crown. We see examples of this in 2 Samuel 16:5 and 2 Samuel 20:1.
The structure of the psalm is a chiasm where the passage mirrors itself.
A) Psalm 7:1-2 - Declaration of trust in God
B) Psalm 7:3-7 - Let me be judged for my wickedness
C) Psalm 7:8 - God is my judge
D) Psalm 7:9a - Let the wicked die
D) Psalm 7:9b - Let the righteous be saved
C) Psalm 7:10-11 - God is my judge
B) Psalm 7:12-16 - Let the unrepentant be judged for their wickedness
A) Psalm 7:17 - Declaration of trust in God
Unlike some of the other lament psalms we’ve read so far, this psalm begins with a declaration of trust. From there, the psalmist repents for any wickedness in him. This is important. They don’t want pride to blind them from any truth in these accusations.
When praying to God about a struggle with someone else, it’s always beneficial to first look at yourself and see how you might be contributing to the problem. Jesus raises this point in the gospels (Matthew 7:3; Luke 6:41).
The psalmist recognises God’s authority to judge. If he is wicked or righteous, let God decide. Either way, let the wickedness come to an end.
And then the psalm flips back round. Now that the psalmist has taken time to examine themselves, they bring their trust request to God. Establish the righteous. If after all this God finds the psalmist innocent, then may he save them.
Just as God is a judge who punishes the wicked, he also protects the innocent. Thinking now of his enemies, the psalmist asks God to punish them if they are not repentant like he has been. May they fall to the consequences of their own actions.
And so the psalmist ends, once more declaring his trust in God. He can be praised as both protector of the innocent and judge of the wicked.
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.
Tim and Jon explore why God seems to test people in the Bible and why this is actually a good thing.
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.
BibleProject continue their animated overview of the book of Genesis, helping you see how the passage you're reading fits into the book's wider story.