Psalm 69:29-33 (NKJV)29 But I am poor and sorrowful; Let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high. 30 I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. 31 This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bull, Which has horns and hooves. 32 The humble shall see this and be glad; And you who seek God, your hearts shall live. 33 For the Lord hears the poor, And does not despise His prisoners.
Within the last two centuries much has been made of the supposed contrast between the faith of our fathers in the Old Testament and the faith of God’s people in the New Testament. It has been said that the Old Testament was an economy of works where our fathers were required to earn their salvation by their own merits whereas the New Testament is an economy of grace in which salvation is a free gift. Others have said that the Old Testament articulate an external religion, based wholly and entirely upon rituals and regulations whereas the New Testament is focused upon the heart and the inward attitude of the worshiper toward God. The Old Testament was focused upon the corporate deliverance of Israel whereas the New Testament focuses upon individual salvation.
What does David say to these supposed contrasts? Hog-wash. Well he doesn’t say it in quite those terms but notice what he does say – I am poor and sorrowful – me, individual me, not corporate Israel, but lonely old me – rescue me O Lord, set me on high. Was Israel poor and sorrowful as well? Yes. Did Israel too need to be set on high? Yes. Did this mean that David didn’t? No.
But notice that David goes on. “I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bull, Which has horns and hooves.”
Wait, David, you can’t say that. The Old Testament is all about ritual. How can you say that your songs of thanksgiving please God better than an ox or bull? I don’t remember reading that in Exodus! You must have missed the whole point of the law. O, but wait, the Holy Spirit inspired you to write this didn’t He? Hum. I guess you must be right. I guess I must have missed the whole point of Exodus. The Old Testament really is all about personal faith and trust in the Lord that manifests itself in godly worship.
Now don’t get things wrong. I’ve emphasized where the contrast between the Old and New Testaments does not lie. There is a contrast between the Old and New Testaments. But the contrast lies not in the God who is worshiped, not in the reverence He demands, not in the standards He maintains, not in the faith He expects, but in the fullness of the revelation now that the Christ has come. I have come, Jesus declares to us, to fulfill the law – to manifest the full extent of what My Father promised throughout the ages but has now manifested in My presence. He who has seen Me, he declares, has seen the Father, the very Father who redeemed Israel from Egypt, the very Father who spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, the very Father who overthrew the town of Jericho, the very Father who raised up Samson, Gideon, Deborah, and Jephthah to deliver our fathers from bondage, the very Father who inspired the prophet Elijah to contend with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, the very Father who raised up Nebuchadnezzar and then drove him mad – he who has seen Me, Jesus declares, has seen this Father.
And so whereas we once saw the Father dimly, through clouds and fire and vapors of smoke, we now have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
And so having come into the presence of such an august company, let us kneel and confess our sins to God seeking His forgiveness for despising the first portion of our Bibles.