Remembering His Story
Yesterday, we considered the introduction to this psalm, ending with the call to remember what the Lord has done. Now, as we come to the main content, we find it a psalm of history – specifically His Story of His gracious dealings with His people, and it begins with God remembering His covenant.
‘He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth. He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations … which covenant He made with Abraham’ (v7-9)
Obviously, this covenant is made with people, and through this psalm, seven different names are mentioned. Through these seven we see the fullness of divine grace being worked out.
The First Four
The covenant was: Cut with Abraham, the faithful servant. Promised to Isaac, the only begotten son. Renewed to Jacob, chosen before his birth. And established forever to Israel, who strove with God.
From these four we learn that our entrance into the blessings of God is, like Abraham, through faith: ‘for by grace are ye saved, through faith … it is the gift of God’ (Eph 2:8). And that gift is always worked out through the giving of the only begotten Son (John 3:16). As to whether man comes into the good of these eternal blessings is a mysterious blend of divine election (we are chosen like Jacob) and human responsibility (we must strive for it like Israel).
God’s Sovereign Hand
From this certain start, life for God’s people was not so straight forward. To the mind of man, it would seem that, at times, the LORD had forgotten His covenant, but this psalm shows us that all the way through, God’s sovereign hand was upon them, and they knew at different times:
1) the LORD’s Protection from Egypt (Egypt used in the Bible as a picture of this world in general)
‘He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm’ (v12-15)
2) the LORD’s Proving through Egypt
‘Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread … Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him’ (v16-19)
3) the LORD’s Prospering in Egypt
‘He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance … And he increased his people greatly; and made them stronger than their enemies’ (v20-24)
4) the LORD’s Punishment of Egypt
‘They shewed his signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham … He smote also all the firstborn in their land, the chief of all their strength’ (v25-36)
5) the LORD’s Provision out of Egypt
‘He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes … he brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven’ (v37-41)
And finally, the psalm closes with Israel knowing:
6) the LORD’s Promise fulfilled in Canaan
‘he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant. And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness: And gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labour of the people; That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the LORD’. (v42-45)
The Other Three
It’s interesting to note that while the LORD’s sovereign hand is upon Israel the whole time, He chooses to work through a mediator. Three are mentioned, and we see each as a type of Christ.
Salvation through Joseph, the man sent ahead
‘He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters’ (v17-19)
What precious words those are? … ‘He sent a man’, and Joseph is such a beautiful type of ‘the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for us all’ (1 Tim 2:5,6). We think of the descent of Joseph into bondage and prison, ‘whose feet they hurt with fetters’, but this is nothing compared to the sufferings of our Saviour, of whom it could be said ‘they pierced my hands and my feet’ (Psa 22:16).
And having gone to Calvary, ‘now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept’ (1 Cor 15:20). A man is now in glory, the firstfruits , and as certain as He has gone ahead, so we will follow.
Salvation through Moses, the faithful servant
‘He sent Moses his servant’ (v26)
It’s interesting that this remembering of Egypt does not mention the Lamb, the blood or the Passover. The focus is on the judgment that fell on Egypt, and we think of how faithfully Moses stood before a hard-hearted Pharoah.
Then we think of another servant sent, the very Son Himself, ‘sent not … to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved’ (John 3:17). What grace? And in this He was ‘obedient unto death, even the death of the cross’ (Phil 2:8).
Salvation through Aaron, the elect high priest
‘He sent … Aaron whom he had chosen’ (v26)
In God’s Grace, salvation is not simply about escape from the penalty of sin, but positively has the aim of making us a holy people to enjoy the presence of God.
But for this to be possible, there had to be a mediator. Therefore God ‘choose (Aaron) out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me?’ (1 Sam 2:28). And so Aaron went in before God on behalf of the people, but his ministry was limited.
Compare this with the unlimited high priestly ministry of Christ, who ‘is not entered into the holy places made with hands … but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others … but … Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation’ (Hebs 9:24-28).
And so, we conclude as the psalmist does, and there’s only one word for it: Hallelujah!!!