Thoughts for Tuesday 4th August 2020

Psalm 78:1-8, 17-29; Deuteronomy 26:1-15; Acts 2:37-47


Tuesday 4 August


If you go onto the website at you’ll notice that I’ve opted for the alternative readings today. This is for no especially good reason, except that I did feel we could do with a change of psalm. This, of course, is something that can be done whenever there are alternatives. If you don’t fancy one set of readings, then it’s always possible to switch to the other instead.


Psalm 78, at 72 verses, is the second-longest of the psalms after Psalm 119. Verses 1-8 are a sort of preface, and then – in no strict chronological order at all – we have a number of stories from the Book of Exodus. These include, at verses 17-29, an account of God’s providence of water, manna and meat to the Israelites when they were in the wilderness.


Verse 2 is quite interesting in that it is quoted in Matthew 13:35. This comes right at the heart of a chapter which is devoted to parables, and is an explanation of sorts by the author of Matthew as to why Jesus uses parables as a method of teaching rather some other method instead: for, ‘I will use parables when I speak to them. I will tell them things unknown since the creation of the world,’ the Bible says!


Both Psalm 78 and Matthew 13 are therefore full of stories. And that’s true of our passage from Deuteronomy, and the prelude to our New Testament reading for today – Peter’s Pentecost Preach-Off.


There’s loads of material, therefore, for us today, but one phrase in the Old Testament passage which catches my eye is at verse 5: ‘My ancestor was a wandering Aramean’. This is thought to be an extremely early ‘bit’ of the Bible, dating back to long before anyone ever put pen to papyrus. A confession of early Israelite tribespeople, it’s thought that it would have been used by them in order to make them feel, all those years ago, that they belonged to a society with ancient roots; something that’s even more true today – even for us – I would suggest.


In Genesis, Bethuel (the father of Rebecca and Laban – see Genesis 25:20 & 28:5) is said to have been an Aramean; and Joseph’s son Manasseh, has two sons by his unnamed Aramean concubine (see 1 Chronicles 7:14); our assumption being that the ‘wanderer’ in Deuteronomy is Jacob. This, I think, is interesting in that, if Deuteronomy 26:5 is meant to refer to him, then his Aramean credentials were only actually by virtue of marriage.


Let us pray (and as students prepare to return to school this is Eton College’s Founder’s Prayer):


O Lord Jesus Christ, who hast created and redeemed me and hast foreordained me unto that which now I am; thou knowest what thou wouldst do with me; do with me according to thy will, in thy mercy,




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