Day 4

I Have Promised to Keep Your Words

from the Psalm 119 reading plan

Psalm 119:57-72, Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Joshua 2:1-21

BY Guest Writer

I remember listening to journalist Malcolm Gladwell interview Nashville legend and famed songwriter Bobby Braddock. Their conversation centered on what goes into writing a truly sad song, the kind of tune that finds you driving with one hand on the steering wheel so the other can be free to wipe the tears from your eyes.

As they talked, they decided that country music has a leg up on rock and pop when it comes to mournful tracks, but the question that lingered was Why? In the end, Braddock said it came down to details: “We cry when melancholy collides with specificity.” It’s one thing to sing about heartache, and another thing entirely to sing about standing by a lost friend’s grave and the angels’ faces delighting to welcome that friend home. Take a listen to “Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill to hear what I’m talking about.

The reason that details help sad songs resonate with us is because they echo our own experience. We live in a world of details, not generalities. Somehow, the details make a thing more real. When it comes to God’s Word, I delight in the details. You see, in the ancient world, there was no paper. Instead, texts were written on papyrus, a material similar to paper but made out of certain flattened reeds—and papyrus wasn’t cheap. That means that everything included in God’s Word is important. There are no throwaway lines, no unimportant details.

In the story of Rahab, there’s a detail that jumps off the page for me. When she lets the two Israelite spies down through her window, she does so with a “scarlet cord” (Joshua 2:18). And it was this scarlet cord that would identify her home and keep her safe when the Israelites later attacked Jericho. It wasn’t brown or blue or white. It was a scarlet rope—and that makes all the difference in telling this story.

For those early Israelite readers of Rahab’s account, they would have connected the red color of the rope “dripping” down the window frame with the lamb’s blood a previous generation had brushed on the doorframes of their homes. While still slaves in Egypt, God had passed over the houses of the Hebrews on the night the firstborn in every household in the land had died (Exodus 12:23). The blood marked those inside as belonging to God. Rahab was a Gentile and a prostitute, but she, too, would be marked as one of God’s people. Though she was late to the party, so to speak, the “blood” of the scarlet cord would bring Rahab her own Passover moment.

The symbol, of course, is not as important as the thing it symbolizes. What set Rahab apart as a member of God’s family was not the red rope but her loyalty to Yahweh, based on the reports she had heard (Joshua 2:10–11). By helping the Israelites, she was committing treason, and she knew it. By earthly measures, the people of Jericho should have been able to withstand an attack by the Israelites. Rahab could have turned the spies over to the authorities and garnered herself the favor of Jericho’s king. But she believed what she had heard about the Lord, and she gave Him her allegiance, echoing with her life what the psalmist would later write: “The LORD is my portion” (Psalm 119:57).

But the scarlet cord doesn’t just point backwards to Passover; it also points forward to Christ. It is Christ’s red blood that now marks those who are members of God’s family. The Passover account had always foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus, and God had always planned on making one new people from Jews and Gentiles. Rahab’s story reveals this had long been in God’s heart to do. The prostitute-turned-daughter of the King is even honored with a place in Jesus’s family tree (Matthew 1:5).

God is the Author of Scripture. No detail is included by accident. Every last one is an invitation to thank Him for His faithfulness, our God who knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).

John Greco is a writer, editor, and Bible nerd. He and his wife, Laurin, live south of Nashville, where they daily wrangle their three small boys and dream of someday being the ones who get to take all the naps. You can find John at

Post Comments (57)

57 thoughts on "I Have Promised to Keep Your Words"

  1. Angie says:

    (Deuteronomy passage)
    LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH. This is our heart message. This is the message we want to pass down through the generations to family and friends. This is the message we need to have on our lips, in our mind, before our eyes, and symbolized by our life. This is the message we put on unending “repeat.”

    (Joshua passage)
    It occurred to me today that because Rahab was a prostitute, and all that represented…the king’s men may have believed her more readily than someone who was always known for being “good.” Because she was a prostitute, the scarlet cord from her window would not have been questioned…I’ve read that it would have been thought to be a marker for travelers coming into the city to mark her profession (much like a red light). Rahab tells the men what they have heard about the power of God and makes a declaration: “…for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on earth below.”
    I even thought about how she was more familiar with the land and the patterns of the king, therefore better able to give them a successful plan of escape. ONLY GOD could take a prostitute’s life and use it for good. ONLY GOD could take the symbol of scarlet cord and turn it from evil to the passover reminder and the future symbol of the blood of Jesus to cover all sin. ONLY GOD, can we trust to take each and every part of our lives…from the details to the large events and use them for good. ONLY our GOD. WOW!

    (Psalm verses)
    The earlier readings in the Psalm remind me of when I face struggles early on…I remind myself of WHO GOD is and His goodness, while giving myself little pep talks of…because of God…I am trusting, I am able to, I will…

    The verses today remind me of further into the struggle. I’m no longer just reminding myself, whether things have improved or not, I know-because I know-that I know; He is faithful. I’m fully focused on Him. I am thankful to Him. I am trusting the affliction will be used for good.

    I saved this for last because I am somewhere between the first sections of the Psalm reading the those read today. The last 2 years or so have had an unusual amount of affliction for my husband and me. Without a doubt we declare God’s care and goodness in the guiding before, during, and following every single event. Regardless of the challenges, we are blessed, period, ALL and ONLY because of our GOD. Because I believe fully in the power of God’s praying people, I ask for prayer in a couple ways:

    1) School starts in 2-3 weeks. Monday I spent a day in meetings and in the classroom. My broken ankle did not handle it well. There are 45 steps to get to my room on the 3rd floor and no elevator. All the places the children need to travel to in our building (that I travel with them) are down those stairs and at the opposite end of the building. On an average day I can do those stairs 10-16 times (per my fitbit). My foot needs to heal much, much more for me to be able to handle it. The single day on Monday, literally left me exhausted, swollen, and hobbling for two days. Today is still sore but much better. So I pray for healing and help. God is in the details, I will trust Him.

    2)These additional struggles in our lives could be to teach us something…or attacks because we are faithfully following Jesus. The story of Rahab reminds me that either way, God turns the toughest, seemingly most ugly stuff into beauty when we declare Him LORD and trust. My request is that whatever we need to learn, we will learn well, and if we are being attacked…we will remain faithful witnesses to the world for our LORD, Jesus Christ.

    For those of you who are willing and able, will you please pray with me. I thank you and the LORD in advance for you and His answers.

    1. AnneLyn P says:

      Praying for you, Angie.

  2. Erin B says:

    I can’t help but thinking how much pressure Rahab would have felt in our Big Media culture. Her secret kept quiet, but all the while hearing people talk about safety measures, impending doom, and what they had “heard” about traitors, Israelites and such— while all the while
    having to keep quiet about what she knew was true in her heart. Sometimes God calls us to speak, and sometimes he calls us to keep quiet truth in our hearts when our culture is pursuing evil. Cast not Pearls before Swine, I guess. I admire her faithfulness and conviction.

  3. NanaK says:

    Karen: thank you for sharing. My version uses the word “afflicted “ in place of “humbled” and although that was meaningful to me, “humbled “ really hit home.
    I was also struck by our highlighted verse today from Deuteronomy 6:6-9, “ …(7) Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
    The bottom line? Do others see JESUS in me? Through my words and actions? Through the time and money I spend, is it evident that JESUS and bringing others into the Kingdom is my priority?!
    LORD, I pray that you will provide wisdom and guidance to the doctors working with Linda J’s son and grant complete healing to him. FATHER, forgive me for the times I am not intention in sharing your words with my children, in my home, and with others throughout my day. I pray that my thoughts words and actions will reflect my love for You today.

  4. Rachel Kelley says:

    I love how we can cling to God’s promises and his Word and, since they do not change, delight in them!

  5. Kristen says:

    As Maura said, God’s Word she be treasured. I heard about Christian converts that don’t have access to a whole Bible. If they have a page, they cling to it and read the words over and over. I think I heard they share with each other secretly. Many people here have multi copies of the Bible that are opened. May we remember how valuable His Word is and remember that the Bible is a gift, life giving, the Sword of the Spirit, sharper than any double edged sword, and used to teach us. There is so much more! I found a site that have 52 Scriptures about the Word of God!
    Also, I was thinking about this teaching when I read Karen’s comment about pride and humility. This is by Tim Keller and it is called, Haughty Eyes. Pride is such a dangerous thing. Some prideful ways we might not even recognize. In agreement with both of these ladies with their prayers for us to treasure the Word and be humble. Here is the link to the teaching. Both are worth checking out! I have passed this sermon on before, and others agreed.

  6. Dayna R says:

    Linda J – praying for your precious son today. He is precious to God too. May you all be filled with His peace today as you wait for a diagnosis. Praying for some good news for you today.

  7. Angela Sutherland says:

    Reading verses 59-60 of Psalm 119 again after reading the account of Rahman, I can see her in those words. It’s so easy to see it all from my perspective here in my rocking chair, with my coffee, reading these accounts. But then I think “what would I have done in Rahab’s position?” Would I have had the courage and faith in a God I didn’t know but only heard about? When I think about the details beyond just what we are presented with, it makes me marvel at God’s goodness and the scope of His plan for redemption. And how he pointed to it, time and again, like with the scarlet rope in this story. The Word of God is so rich and intricate!

    1. Jennifer Sanders says:

      I love this idea— to reread the verses from the perspective of Rahab! It came alive for me so much more when I read it in this way. Thank you!

  8. Linda J says:

    Please pray for my son today. He is having health issues and testing to determine diagnosis this morning. He’s raising three children and is of course so precious to us.

    1. Savannah Brasells says:

      Praying for your son now!

    2. Mari V says:

      Praying now Linda

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