Two weeks ago, I sat with my bible and a cup of Assam tea while reading through the Old Testament (OT) book of Deuteronomy. I am following a chronological reading plan by George Guthrie. When I came across this verse, the wheels in my mind began turning:
“To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it” (Deuteronomy 10:14, NIV).
I told myself that this passage sounds very familiar, especially the portion that I placed in boldface type. My gut told me that there was a Psalm that used this wording. One of things that I love about living in the Twenty-first Century is the accessibility of information over the internet. Because I wanted to be sure about my hunch, I searched for the phrase “…everything in it” on the Bible Gateway website. Sixteen verses came up, but only one fit the bill:
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters” (Psalm 24:1-2, NIV).
Thus begins one of the most glorious Psalms about the majesty and holiness of the Lord. Most OT scholars worth their salt attribute the twenty-fourth Psalm to King David. His Spirit-inspired words sprang up from the pages of Deuteronomy penned by Moses, whom many in Judaism still view as Israel’s greatest prophet. When David wrote the twenty-fourth Psalm, the only Bible in existence in his day was the Pentateuch or the Torah, also known as the five books of Moses. Why is that significant? Permit me to go one step further before answering that question. I am a New Covenant, Gentile believer instead of an Old Covenant, Israelite like King David. My Bible not only includes the Torah, but thirty-four additional OT books and twenty-seven that make up the New Testament (NT).
I have in my possession the fullest account of God’s divine revelation. It is greater than what King David had in his day; however, rarely do I find an ounce of inspiration from the Torah like him. Think about this for a minute. King David wrote a worship song based on reading through the Torah. I suppose that sounds like a miracle all by itself. Here is more evidence that Israel’s greatest king drew inspiration from the Torah. He begins the twenty-fourth Psalm with the independent clause, “the earth is the Lord’s.” When one searches for it using Bible Gateway, the only other OT reference is in the book of Exodus. This is what it says: “Moses said to [Pharaoh], ‘As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the Lord. The thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the Lord‘s'” (Exodus 9:29, ESV).
It is clear from the context of the Exodus passage that God’s majesty is on display to Pharaoh and all of Egypt in his restraint of the thunder and hail. In fact, God’s purpose behind the ten plagues had been to demonstrate his sovereign control over creation to the nations of Israel and Egypt and its ruler, Pharaoh (Exodus 7:2-5, ESV). King David saw God’s glory jump out at him as he read about Israel’s redemption and deliverance from the hand of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. The first verse of his Psalm, “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,” is essentially a combination of the two references found in Exodus 9:29 and Deuteronomy 10:14. King David is a remarkable poet, but he did not come up with that verse. God spoke it first to Moses. Has King David understood and seen more with less revelation than I have? For me, large portions of the Torah are downright tedious, especially the tribal lists in Numbers or the details concerning the Levitical sacrifices.
To be fair, I’m beginning to see immense spiritual value in the book of Leviticus, which eluded me in the past. The jury is still out on whether or not I could find enough inspiration like David to compose a poem in praise to the Lord. Maybe I am being a little too hard on myself. It is true that I live in a different period within redemptive history than King David. He lived thousands of years before Christ, and I live thousands of years after him. This partially explains my disconnect with the OT let alone the Torah; however, the simple fact is that both King David and me worship the same Lord. One day we will sit together at the Lord’s table in the consummated Kingdom (Matthew 8:11, ESV). It seems to me that I need to start seeing God’s glory in the Torah like my spiritual ancestor. The apostle Paul states on two occasions in first Corinthians that the OT contains necessary instruction for believers in the New Covenant era (1 Corinthians 10:6 & 11, ESV).
Those thirty-nine books of the OT are as divinely inspired as the twenty-seven that comprise the new. The Torah is every bit as inerrant, authoritative, sufficient, necessary, and clear as the gospel accounts of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Dr. Luke reminds all readers of his gospel that Jesus asserted the OT’s divine inspiration and disclosure of his life and ministry to two disciples on the road to Emmaus: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27, ESV). Before he ascended to the right hand of the Father, Christ reminded the eleven apostles of the same truth that he told the disciples on the road to Emmaus: “…everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled…” (Luke 24:44 & 46, ESV).
King David saw God’s glory in the Torah, which became the basis for his twenty-fourth Psalm. The apostle Paul taught the Corinthian believers that the OT contained vital truths for their growth and life in the church. Jesus revealed to his disciples and apostles that the OT proclaims him. This brings to mind another key point. When Jesus spoke his words to the apostles, the OT was all they had to read and study. Those Corinthian believers most likely had access to some of the first books of the NT; however, their Bible was not complete as it consisted mainly of the OT. It was their Bible for worship and study about their new lives in Christ. Consider this statement for a moment. The first Christians taught the gospel from the OT. Does that sound strange? I think it does, and it needs to be rectified.