Reminder of Some Biblical Themes
Tod Kennedy, August 2019
First John, Fellowship with God
John’s theme is the believer’s close relationship with God through Jesus Christ and what that relationship can produce in the lives of believers.
Fellowship with God and believers is based on the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is true deity and true humanity and was judged in our place for the sins of the entire world. John uses the words love, know, abide, and sin often. Loving God, keeping God’s commands, loving believers, rejecting antichrist teaching, and believing God highlight this letter. He uses three terms to develop our relationship with God through Jesus Christ: fellowship with God, knowing God, and abiding in God. They identify three aspects of a believer’s right relationship with God. The believer in this right relationship with God may—and should—experience love for God, obedience to his commands, love for believers, victory over sin, victory over the world, assurance of eternal life, and confidence in prayer.
Ecclesiastes, Solomon’s life apart from God
Human beings, by themselves, by their own ideas, and by pursuit of details of life, cannot fully understand life nor find lasting satisfaction and happiness.
King Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba, was granted wisdom from God along with great wealth, fame, and almost everything a person could want. He started strong, but in midlife he turned from the LORD to pagan wives, to money, to building projects, and to idolatry (1 Kings 1-11). Among things he tried were knowledge, wisdom, pleasure, possessions, work, time for life’s events, suffering, religion, wealth, a possessive woman, children, reputation, and writing books. Near the end of his life he realized his folly: “vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1.2), “all was vanity and striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 2.11). Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes about his experiments to understand life, but he did so apart from God. Finally, he realized the purposelessness and hopelessness of man living apart from fellowship with God and obeying God’s revelation. He concluded: “fear God and keep his commandments, because this applies to every person” (Ecclesiastes 12.13).
Psalm 1, The godly person and the ungodly person
The godly believer’s spiritual joy, contentment, and production are based on delight in and meditation on Yahweh’s word in contrast to the spiritually worthless life of the ungodly person.
Psalm 1 is a fitting start for the entire book. This psalm contrasts the godly believer with the ungodly person. The godly believer delights in and meditates on Yahweh’s word and so makes the right choices about ideas, activities, and relationships. He reaps spiritual joy, contentment, and production because of his right relationship with Yahweh, while the ungodly person has a spiritually worthless life, though from the human viewpoint he may be temporarily successful and prosperous. In the end the godly will be saved and blessed while the ungodly will perish.
Psalm 13, questions, prayer, faith, rejoicing
What we believe and apply about our LORD God is more important than how we feel, and this can turn discouragement into rejoicing.
The psalm finds David stalked by an enemy, which happened many times during his life. He feels abandoned and neglected. He asks the LORD four questions. David then prays that God will answer by both encouraging him and delivering him. Even before the LORD answers, David trusts in God’s lovingkindness (hesed). He rejoices in God’s deliverance and will sing to the LORD. Therefore, though one feels forsaken or ignored by the LORD God, one can pray, and trust in God’s loyal gracious love and deliverance. This trust results in rejoicing and praise to the LORD even before deliverance because of confidence that God will deliver and bless.
Psalm 85, Revive us again—Recall, Pray, Listen
The psalmist asks God to revive Israel like he did in the past, and he anticipates God’s peace and glory in the land.
Israel had a history of blessing by the LORD and judgment by exile. The psalmist now writes in a time of spiritual apathy and disobedience—possibly in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. He recalls God’s past deliverance of Israel and now asks God to revive and restore the nation, stop his anger, and revive them again so they may praise him. They will listen for God’s answer and anticipate that the LORD will do what is good.
Psalm 146, Praise Yahweh, do not trust princes
We all ought to praise Yahweh while we are able. He is the creator and able to bless, while princes are mere mortals and temporary.
All of us should praise Yahweh while we are alive. Do not trust influential people because they die and their thoughts die with them. In contrast, the person who trusts the God of Jacob, Yahweh Elohim, is happy because Yahweh is the creator, protector, and provider. He created the heaven, the earth, the seas, and all creatures. He is faithful, performs justice, gives food, frees prisoners, gives sight, encourages the discouraged, loves the righteous, protects strangers, supports the fatherless and widows, and thwarts the way of the wicked. Yahweh, the God of Zion, your God, will reign forever, so praise Yahweh.
- First John: Eternal life only comes by relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, who is true humanity and undiminished God. Fellowship with God, knowing God, abiding in God, loving God, and loving believers are vital to the Christian life.
- Ecclesiastes: Details of life will not bring ultimate satisfaction or contentment. Give first place to God and his word.
- Psalm 1: Organize your life around love for God and God’s word—which believers must know, believe, and apply by meditating, memorizing, and understanding it.
- Psalm 13: When discouraged or alone, remember who God is. Pray expectantly, trust God’s lovingkindness, and by faith rejoice in God’s expected provision even before it happens.
- Psalm 85: In time of national and personal spiritual apathy and suffering, remember God’s past deliverances and answers to prayer. Ask God for another deliverance and for spiritual revival. Then listen for his answer.
- Psalm 146: We all ought to praise the LORD while we are able. He is eternal, the creator, and able to righteously rule and bless, while all humans, even princes, are mere mortals and temporary.