The Glory of the Lord Displayed in His Covenant Dealings with Israel

a brief study of Psalm 105, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 14 May 2010


Psalm 105 is a well-beloved Psalm, though I suspect that many of us are more familiar with the first 10 verses rather than with the whole psalm.

Like Psalm 104, Psalm 105 is also a psalm of praise and thanksgiving. However, unlike the previous psalm which praises the LORD for His wonderful work of creation, this psalm praises the LORD for His redeeming acts towards Israel in Her history.

We might entitle this Psalm: “The Glory of the LORD Displayed in His Covenant Dealings with Israel.”

This Psalm essentially has three parts. Verses 1-12, may be subtitled: “Praise God for He has covenanted to bless us” Verses 13-41: “Praise God for His redeeming acts towards His people.” Verse 42- 45: “Praise God He has remembered His covenant.”

Let’s consider these three parts briefly.


1. Praise God for He has Covenanted to Bless Us

1 O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon His name: make known His deeds among the people.

These familiar opening words of this Psalm tell us what this Psalm is about. It is a psalm for God’s people to sing among themselves to teach and admonish one another to give praise and thanks unto the LORD for all that He has done for us. It is, no doubt, inspired by the Spirit of Christ that as God’s people we may sing in union with our covenant head to praise God.

What does this Psalm call us to do? Well, it enjoins both vertical and horizontal responsibilities.

Vertically, it calls us togive thanks unto the LORD (v. 1a); as well as to “glory… in His holy name” (v. 3); to seek the LORD (v. 4) and to praise… the LORD (v. 45).

Horizontally, it reminds us to encourage our fellow believers by [making] known His deeds among the people.(v. 1b).

How are we to do so?

2 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto Him: talk ye of all His wondrous works.

We are to praise and thank God by singing psalms unto Him. We are to speak to one another and teach and admonish one another about what God’s wondrous works by using the psalms (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16).

What shall be the result of so doing? The result will be glory to God, and joy in our heart:

3 Glory ye in His holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. 4 Seek the LORD, and His strength: seek His face evermore.

And what should we recall and sing about to praise the Lord and to speak to one another? Verse 5-12 gives us a summary.

We are to recall “[God’s] marvellous works that He hath done” because of His covenant love towards us. God has made a covenant with Abraham and therefore with us. “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:29).

And this promise is unto us and our children (Acts 2:39). God will not forget His covenant. If we would last a thousand generation, God would extend His covenant love a thousand generations (v. 8; cf. Ex 20:6). This is the same covenant that God confirmed with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (v. 9-10).

When the covenant was expressed to these our forefathers in the faith, it was expressed as a promise to give the land of Canaan as an inheritance (v. 11). But we must remember that Abraham was “[looking] for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11:10). Abraham knew that the land was but a picture of heaven.

The covenant was not about land. It is about redemption in Christ. It is an ‘everlasting covenant’ (v. 10), which as the apostle to the Hebrews reminds us is sealed by the blood of Christ (Heb 13:20).

For this reason, beloved brethren and children, we have exactly the same reason to praise the LORD as our fathers in the faith. For this reason, we may sing this Psalm to praise God for His covenantal redeeming grace and to encourage one another to walk gratefully before the Lord.

What about the second part of this Psalm, which we have subtitled…


2. Praise God for His Redeeming Acts Towards His people

This section forms the bulk of this Psalm, verses 13-41. But what is this section about? Well, it is really an enumeration of what God did as an outworking of His covenant love towards His people in the formative days of the nation.

The history of the people during the entire period days of Abraham and Isaac and most of the wanderings of Jacob is covered in verses 13-15. Those were the days when the fathers wandered from place to place—from Ur of the Chaldees, to Haran, to Canaan, to Egypt, to Philistia, etc. God, you will remember how God protected Abraham and Isaac from Pharaoh and from the Philistine king, Abimelech.

·         Verse 16 speaks of famine which was instrumental in the hand of the Lord to bring Jacob’s family into Egypt for a season.

·         Verse 17-22 speaks of how Joseph was sold as a slave (v. 17); was thrown into prison (v. 18); was given the wisdom of the Lord to interpret Pharaoh’s dream (v. 19); was set free and promoted to prime minister over all Egypt (v. 20-22).

·         Verses 23-24 recounts how the family of Israel went into Egypt and grow into a mighty people in Goshen.

·         Verses 25 notes how the Egyptians began to hate the Israelites and made them slaves.

·         Verses 26-36 recounts how God raised up Moses and Aaron and through them brought the 10 plagues upon Egypt. Only the 5th and 6th plague (the plague against livestock and the plague of boils) were missed out in this poetic account.

·         Verses 37-38 speaks of how the Israelite plundered the Egyptians, who gave willingly of their silver and gold because they were exceedingly glad that the Israelites were finally leaving them.

·         Verses 39-40 records for us how the LORD led and provided for the needs of the people miraculously. For example, He led people with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night; and He also provided water from the dry rock when the people thirsted.

Now, these things all happened about three thousand five hundred years ago. But we must be careful not to think that they are irrelevant to us, for we must remember that they are recorded, as the Apostle Paul, puts it: “for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor 10:11). As believers in the last days, we are those upon whom the ends of the world are come.

So these events happened not only for the sake of the people who experienced the great deliverance. They happened also for us who live in these last days that we may be encouraged by example of how God through His mighty hand kept His promises to our forefathers.

And this is exactly what the final section of this Psalm makes clear, for here we are called to…


3. Praise God He has Remembered His Covenant

The specific acts of God enumerated really serve to testify of how God remembered His covenant promises:

42 For He remembered His holy promise, and Abraham His servant. 43 And He brought forth His people with joy, and His chosen with gladness: 44 And gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labour of the people; 45 That they might observe His statutes, and keep His laws. Praise ye the LORD.

What was God’s covenant and promises about? It is about redemption from sin and Satan.

We must not forget that much of the exodus accounts, have typical significance. Remember that Egypt is a type of the world. Pharaoh is a type of Satan. Slavery in Egypt is a type of bondage to sin. Moses is a type of Christ. Israel was both the church-underage and a type of the Church throughout the ages. Israel’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt is a type of the Church’s deliverance from sin and the world.

This, I believe, is the reason why the bulk of this Psalm, and indeed, the next psalm is a recounting of the crucial events in the book of Exodus! Now, we will not have time in this short study to explain the typological significance of the events listed in this Psalm.

However, even without entering into the typological significance of specific events, I hope you can see how the exodus record exemplify God’s covenant love towards His people and how He keeps His promises.

God’s covenant, we must remember, is not only about a piece of real-estate. It is about eternal life and eternal inheritance. Eternal life is knowing and enjoying God.

This is what the final section of the Psalm would have us realise. God brought forth His people with joy and gladness (v. 43). He gave them the land which He promised their fathers (v. 44). But why did He give them the land apart from keeping His promise? The answer is in verse 45—“That they might observe His statutes, and keep His laws.

That, beloved brethren and children, is the purpose of redemption. Christ came in order to free us from sin. Sin is lawlessness. Sin is falling short of the glory of God. Sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God. Christ lived, suffered and died to pay for the penalty due to our sin. By grace through faith alone we are justified by the righteousness of Christ. But Christ does not only give us justification; He sends His Spirit to regenerate and to sanctify us too. It is by the Spirit of Christ that we are enabled to observe God’s statutes and laws. By the work of the Spirit, we find that the commandments of God are not grievous! And it is in this way that we find true joy and freedom in this life and the life to come.


Conclusion

This is Psalm 105. It is, as we can see, a psalm of praise and thanksgiving. Let us learn to sing it with gratitude in our hearts in the acknowledgement that the LORD who redeemed Israel out of Egypt is the same LORD. His covenant love for His people has never changed although the circumstances under which His people’s lives have changed and are changing. God is still keeping His promise to save us and our children. Let us praise Him from the bottom of our hearts! Amen. Ω