In verse 6 of this psalm, one way God has shown faithfulness is by giving the Israelites the “heritage of the nations.” Initially, this seems like a strange gift. The word translated in the New Revised Standard Version as “heritage” is the Hebrew word nachalah. It’s translated in Strong’s Concordance as “possession, property, inheritance, or heritage.” This word is used in scripture primarily in Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua in reference to instances when the Israelites overtook other nations. God brought them victory so the nachalah of other nations became theirs.
Early in the Old Testament, law codes were laid out for the Israelites. They were to follow the laws as a sign of obedience to God; in turn, God would provide what they needed. Sometimes this meant manna in the desert, and sometimes it meant a military victory. The fact that God, throughout the history of the Israelites, provided for them was a sign that God was upholding God’s portion of the law codes. It meant that the Israelites were being faithful and were therefore deserving of God’s promises.
In the tradition of wisdom literature (books such as Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job), this is how one can make meaning out of difficult circumstances. Wisdom literature can be easily criticized as black and white thinking, but it can also be a comforting way to find meaning in hardship by recalling other times when God was faithful. The psalmist reminds readers that God’s commandments are firmly established, unchangeable, and reliable. If God’s followers hold up their end of the covenant, then God will be faithful and provide. God’s name should be held in awe and reverence because God's promises are fulfilled.
Conqueror of Lands, you provide; you prevail; you prosecute. Uphold your covenant; fulfill your promises. Reward our faithfulness so that we may proclaim your goodness and offer your redemption throughout the land. In the name of the God of Joshua, David, and Solomon. Amen.
If you could ask God for one thing, what would it be? God offered this chance to Solomon, and the king asked for wisdom to rule God’s people well. God honored this request by giving Solomon many other gifts too, as long as the king followed God’s ways. (Later on, unfortunately, Solomon lost his way.) The psalmist tells us that wisdom begins with understanding who we are and who God is. Ephesians addresses practical implications of wise living: follow the will of the Lord, be filled with the Spirit, encourage one another, and be grateful to God. The Gospel passage continues Jesus’ metaphorical description of himself as the Bread of Heaven. Here Jesus anticipates the sacrament of Communion, in which we partake of his body and blood by faith.
Read 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14. Do you hesitate to ask God to show you your call? Why?
Read Psalm 111. Where have you seen God’s faithful and just actions in your life? In the world?
Read Ephesians 5:15-20. How do you live wisely and make the most of the time?
Read John 6:51-58. What is the significance of Holy Communion in your life of faith? How has your understanding of this sacrament changed over time?
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