Saturday, October 13, 2012

Psalm 98

For my weekly quiet time this week, I will blog about Psalm 98.

The King James Version for Psalm 98:1 says "his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory."  What the Hebrew appears to say, however, is "his right hand, and the arm of his holiness, saved for him."  The Septuagint says the same thing----that God's right hand and holy arm saved for him.

What does this mean?  Did God save Israel for God's own benefit?  Of all the commentators whom I read, Augustine actually interacts with the eccentricity of this phraseology.  According to Augustine, we should be healed for God.  In Augustine's eyes, when we are healed and then go on to live dissolute lives, then our healing is not for God.  Augustine also affirms that God's inward healing of us----our spiritual healing and transformation, if you will----is for God.  As far as I could see, Augustine in his comments on Psalm 98 does not specify what being healed for God means, but he may mean that we should make God happy by pursuing righteousness and should use our healing as an opportunity to serve God.

I remember John MacArthur preaching a sermon in which he said that Christ died for God.  Many Christians focus on Christ dying out of love for them, but Christ also died out of love for God: to obey God, and also to give glory to God.  Speaking for myself, I think that both concepts are important: Christ died out of love for me, and Christ also died because he loved God.  There are a variety of ways for God to be glorified, including the punishment of sinners.  But Christ chose a way to glorify God that was also beneficial to humanity.

In terms of Psalm 98 itself, I did a Bibleworks search on the hiphil of y-sh-' plus the preposition "l" (which means "to" or "for").  Most of the time, that phrase in the Hebrew Bible says that God is saving somebody: the "l" precedes the object of God's salvation.  On two occasions, however, the phrase is used for God saving for himself.  The first example of this is Isaiah 59:16, which states in the KJV: "And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him."  The second example is Isaiah 63:5: "And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me."

How does God save for himself in Psalm 98?  God brings glory to himself in the eyes of Israel and the nations when God saves Israel and effects a rule of righteousness over the world.  God also fulfills God's desire to show God's commitment and love for God's people, Israel, and that is probably something that God appreciates----since we all like for our desires to be fulfilled.   Consequently, in a sense, God is a beneficiary of his salvation of Israel.

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