The Test of Circumstances

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), July 9

The psalmist begins Psalm 105 with, “Make known His deeds among the peoples!” Then he introduces Abraham as the one through whom God has chosen to manifest His deeds, “O seed of Abraham His servant, you children of Jacob, His chosen ones!” (105:6). It is to Abraham and his descendants that God makes an oath, “To you I will give the land of Canaan” (105:11).

imagesThe psalmist proceeds to track the good deeds that God has done for Abraham and his “few” descendants, “He permitted no one to do them wrong; yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, saying, ‘Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm’” (105:14-15). Then He sends a famine to the land which appears to jeopardize his promise to Abraham and his descendants, “Moreover, He called for a famine in the land . . . He sent a man before them—Joseph—who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters, he was laid in irons. Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him” (105:16-19).

God speaks to Abraham regarding a land and a people. Sarah’s barren womb and old age offer an opportunity for God to do for the couple what they cannot do for themselves. They falter after ten years of waiting by including Hagar and her surrogate womb. After twenty-five years of waiting they finally have Isaac—after all hope has been lost.

God speaks to Joseph through two dreams. Immediately, circumstances change. To prevent Joseph’s promises from coming to pass, his brothers sell him to traders, who take him to Egypt, where he is sold as a slave, falsely accused, and incarcerated. His circumstances negate the promises of God. Twenty plus years pass before Joseph begins to see his dreams fulfilled.

This scene reveals a number of truths about God’s goodness:

  • Trials often cling to the coattails of the promises of God. Rather than preventing the fulfillment of God’s promises, difficult or trying circumstances further His redemptive purposes. Beware of calling the difficulties and challenges you face as “evil” when God intends them for good.
  • Circumstances frequently contradict the promises of God. Things are rarely as they seem. Therefore, it is always too soon to assess God’s activity.

The psalmist narrates Israel’s immigration to Egypt and their eventual enslavement, God’s good deeds on Israel’s behalf as He dismantles the Egyptian economy, and their departure from Egypt. The psalmist concludes, “For He remembered His holy promise, and Abraham His servant . . . . He gave them the lands of the Gentiles, and they inherited the labor of the nations, that they might observe His statutes and keep His laws” (105:42, 44-45).

God fulfills every promise that He makes. His way of doing so always requires man’s faith in His goodness.

Question from today’s chronological Bible reading (Ps. 105-106):
What role does reviewing history play in worship and how does this review build a person’s faith in God?