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. Cynthia Ramain says:

    Terri, I 100% agree with you. I have been praying over this for weeks. I try not to get political in SRT but it’s very heard. I want to respect everyone’s view and listen…TRULY listen, but it’s SO hard when your heart is telling you what you believe to be right. God always prevails….and he will have a hand in this, I know it to be true. Thank you for your words and Gos bless all our SRT sisters❤️

  2. Sara Moore says:

    I have never really thought about associating the rope with the Passover of the death angel. So glad this detail was pointed out.

  3. Maddy Pearson says:

    Loved the reminder of what the scarlet rope symbolizes ❤️

  4. Angela Nelson says:

    Question – Is the affliction mentioned in verses 67 and 71 affliction due to wandering away from God’s commands/sin? Or do you think it’s referring to suffering a type affliction not necessarily as a consequence of sin?

    1. Lisa May says:

      Angela, I think it’s both. Within Psalm 119, we see the author guilty of sin and it’s repercussions. “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame…” (v. 5-6). In the current passage he seems to be experiencing affliction at the hands of others: “the insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts.” (V. 69). God comforts us through His Word and His Spirit in all kinds of affliction. For further study, compare Psalm 51, which is David’s psalm of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba against Psalm 59, which is David’s cry to God when King Saul continued to attack him for no reason.

      1. Angela Nelson says:

        Thank you so much, Lisa!! I’ll definitely read through those other Psalms as well :)

  5. Lisa May says:

    Psalm 119 is such a gift to us as an example for ways to see how God’s word impacts our own lives. The psalmist appeals to God in verse 58 to “be gracious to me according to your promise.” Then in verse 65 he affirms “Lord, you have treated your servant well, just as you promised.” It calls me to take account of ways that God’s promises from Scripture have been fulfilled in my life.
    The psalmist also sees God’s character more clearly displayed as he learns His Word. Verse 64: “Lord, the earth is filled with your faithful love; teach me your statutes.” Verse 68: “You are good, and you do what is good; teach me your statutes.” It calls me to learn more of God’s character by studying His word.
    The psalmist also has learned the value of trials and affliction, associating that growth with God’s word as well. Verse 67: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” Verse 71: “It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I could learn your statutes.” It calls me to see my trials and affliction as an opportunity to draw closer to my Father in His Word. This growth in affliction is also affirmed by Paul In Romans 5—
    “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
    I am rejoicing in this Psalm for the continuing example of being a student of God’s word and then paying careful attention to the ways that impacts our growth in Christ.

  6. Ashley White says:

    Amen ❤️

  7. Sharon W says:

    Angie, I hear your request and I am praying for all the students, teachers, administrators and school boards that will be going back into the classrooms. I pray all will be encouraged and excited to be back with friends and class mates. I pray for students ready to learn how they can do something every day that really matters and makes others smile. I pray for kindness and goodness from every child toward others that are different. I pray for parents that are praying over their children, and their classmates and their teachers for a healthy and robust year. May we never have to look back on last spring’s disruption and tragedies, but to learn from them. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen. To God Be The Glory, For Ever.

    1. Angie Troyer says:

      Amen

  8. Sharon W says:

    Angie, I thank you for your reminder to pray for all the children, teachers and administrators will be back in the school class.

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