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 JohnGrecoWrites.com.

Post Comments (49)

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

  1. Makenzie Benish says:

    I’m having trouble fitting the story of Rahab in with our reading from Psalm 119 other than the verses “I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promises.” And “I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.” I have always loved the story of Rahab. Oh, to have such confidence! But I have a different kind of confidence than she had, a confidence that I am already marked safe with the scarlet cord of Christ’s blood.

  2. Chris Swan says:

    Prayers for Angie’s ankle and our upcoming school year.

  3. PamC says:

    Praising the Lord! Dave was given a miracle yesterday. One simple cyst and a tiny mass “of no consequence”. We bounced out of that doctor’s office singing praise. Thank you all for your prayers and support.

    1. Sara Morman says:

      God is so good! I am glad you got good news.

  4. Genia McCray says:

    God is FAITHFUL!

  5. Dorothy says:

    I don’t know why but the story of Rehab is one of my favorite. Maybe it’s because here is a gentile who because of all that she has heard believes in God. She didn’t grow up as a Jew but she ended up in the linage of Jesus Christ. Amazing how God can use various people for different purposes. I read (actually listen to on audio books) a series about the linage of Christ and it included Rehab. God’s love can change so much.
    Yesterday I went to the doctor about my hand (carpal tunnel), I will be having surgery on August 10 and have to be off work for a week. I am left-handed and it’s the left hand he will do. The doctor wants to do the right hand three to four weeks later and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Please pray for me sisters, for the up coming surgery and for the wisdom to know whether to do the second surgery so soon after.

    1. Tiffany Harkey says:

      Prayers for you, friend! Prayers for comfort your worries and a speedy recovery.

    2. Carolee M says:

      Praying for you!

  6. Angie says:

    JILL RUMMER and EMILY THOMSON – Keep on ladies. As you each shared I thought back to years ago when I was talking with one of the pastors at our church. He was sharing something from scripture I a said, “What about…” and gave him some examples. He looked at me sort of surprised and said, “How do you know that? I didn’t even remember those details.” I realized that it was from Bible Study Fellowship. All those years of diligently putting the word of God into my heart and mind through the power of the Holy Spirit had been building up and I didn’t even realize it. So, I would encourage you…you may not realize now but, you are building a foundation that God will use in your lives and the lives of your children and family. Keep it up!

    AMAR THEIN – Hooray that you were brave enough to try a post yesterday! Bless you sister!

    BETH – Thank you for sharing that all the different words (precepts, commands, etc.) are synonyms for God’s Word. I remember a time I was studying this privately and thought…so what is the difference…how do I know what is what. Simply synonyms for God’s Word – perfect!

    LISA MAY – Thank you! I loved your post!

    KAITLYN – Girl, we are so proud of you! God is so proud of you! Your peers do not know it but you are a spiritual superhero. High school is so hard and you are lifting them up before the Father. You are such a blessing!!!!

    LINDA J., JOY, and PAM C – praying for each of your family members and their diagnosis.

    LINDSAY C. – Thank you for yesterday’s post. I love how you do such a great job of putting things altogether. The Psalmist has learned and is now equipped to put into practice what God calls him/her too. Love that!

    ANGELA NELSON – May you be blessed this year as you teach Junior High. That is such a pivotal time for kiddos.

  7. Lindsay C. says:

    I love verse 64…“the earth is filled with His faithful love”. In the midst of the pandemic, racial tensions, and our own personal sufferings- it can all seem too much. It can be hard to focus on the good that still surrounds me. If I raise my gaze and look around I will see evidence of His faithful love everywhere. May I be like Rahab and cling to His promises in the midst of the uncertainty and chaos around me. May I be confident in God’s goodness in my sufferings as they make me more like Christ. His portion is enough.

  8. Terri says:

    Women of God I am calling you to prayer for what is happening in Portland and other cities all over the country. What you see in the media is staged. Pray for truth and justice to prevail. Encourage others to do the same. If not us then who will stand. Ephesians 6:12. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

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