Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Psalms 47-49, 84-85, 87
Questions & Observations
Q. (Psalm 47-49, 84-85, 87): These Psalms were probably grouped together because they were all about or by — whatever it means by “of” the descendants of Korah — the descendants of Korah. Korah was a tribe of Esau, right? They have joined the Israelites or at least acknowledged God’s supremacy? Their words are very glorifying!
A. There is a Korah mentioned as being a son of Esau (Genesis 36:5), but it much more likely refers to the children of the Korah that instigated a rebellion against Moses back in Numbers. Back on Day 136 (May 16th) when we first came across a Korah psalm, you asked me about that Korah, and here’s what I wrote:
Korah was the leader of the insurrection against Moses and Aaron way back in Numbers 16 and was swallowed up by the earth. But there are elements of redemption in the story as well. Numbers 26:11 tells us that the descendants of Korah survived the death of their father, and were part of the Levitical priesthood. They played a role as door/gate keepers and some form of musicians (1 Chronicles 9) for David. Several psalms are credited to them. Part of the redemption for me is we see the element of grace at work. Our past does not have to be our future because of God’s grace. One of the clearest messages of scripture is that God can redeem anyone, no matter what horrible things have been done in their past, or even their families’ past.
Q. (48:4-7): What incident is the psalm speaking about here?
A. It’s a good question, and I don’t have a great answer. There are a couple of times where foreign enemies allied themselves against Israel, including 2 Chronicles 20, where forces, Moab and Ammon, ally against Jehoshaphat and fail, but there are other possibilities. We don’t know for sure.
Q. (49): What an awesome psalm to bluntly say that riches get you nowhere! We heard in Psalm 48 how beautiful and fortified Jerusalem was, how it was so magnificent that it scared away rival kings. We are saying that this city was strong because it was God’s city, right? Psalm 49 could be looked at as contradicting because it’s saying wealth is meaningless in the life-and-death spectrum. We are talking of two different things — the beauty of Jerusalem because it’s God’s city and the wasteful riches of people?
A. Yes, I think you have that right.
Q. (84:5-7): Would you say that we could apply these verses to our lives? The more we bring God into our heart, the stronger we become?
A. As a general rule yes (remember our rules for Proverbs: generally very helpful, but not ironclad). I would say the same applies here.
O. (84:10-12): Love the song that comes from this verse. The first time I stepped into our old church in Yorktown, VA they were playing that song. Brought me to tears. You can listen to it on youtube.com, just type in “better is one day in your courts.” The next two verses, 11-12 are awesome too. What a reward to follow him.
Q. (85): Is this psalm asking that if Israel or Judah become corrupt again, will God come to their rescue?
A. It seems more like the writer is demanding rescue. Pretty gutsy expectation if you ask me, but God has surely proven Himself faithful to His people, so maybe this guy is on to something.
Q. (87): So, Jerusalem absorbs other nations because they have seen God’s magnificence and accepted Him as their God?
A. This psalm casts a unique vision (for the Psalms anyway), but it reads very similarly to verses and concepts that we have read about in Isaiah and Micah — the idea that the Kingdom God will one day establish will be gathered around Jerusalem and the concept of the Mountain of God — Zion. Those other stories spoke of all nations gathering in Jerusalem/Zion to be a part of His holy Kingdom (see Micah 4 for instance). For what its worth, the Book of Revelation contains a very similar image, albeit from a very different Jerusalem (Revelation 21 and 22:1-5), but no less the Kingdom of God.