It’s no secret that God loves to give good gifts to his children. He provides for us in ways too numerous to count.
Think about his goodness for a moment. There are the big gifts, like salvation and forgiveness and eternal life, of course, but there are small gifts too—the ones we so easily take for granted. From the breakfast we ate this morning to the breath in our lungs to the beauty of creation that surrounds us on every side, his care is extravagant.
Scripture itself is a gift from God, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving. A believer could read the Bible for a lifetime and never run out of new reasons to praise God. It seems no matter how much we dig, there’s always more treasure to uncover. And this has always been the case. One of the most famous episodes of treasure-seeking in God’s Word comes from Jesus’ own ministry.
After Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. These two friends were sad and sullen and downright gloomy. You would be too if you were walking in their sandals. You see, a few days earlier, Jesus—the man they believed to be the Messiah, the rightful king of Israel, and the very Son of God—was nailed to a Roman cross. His lifeless body was then placed in a borrowed tomb and, with it, their hope. And then, as if the pain of all that were not enough, his body was now missing.
These two disciples didn’t know the stranger who sidled up to them was the resurrected Jesus; for the time being, they were kept from recognizing him. And so, as they walked, they opened their hearts up to their traveling companion and described the weekend’s cruel events. It was then that Jesus spoke up.
“Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you so thick-headed? Why do you find it so hard to believe every word the prophets have spoken? Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah, to experience all these sufferings and afterward to enter into his glory?'”Luke 24:25–26 TPT
There it is! The Hebrew Bible—the Old Testament we know today—had spoken of Jesus’ death and resurrection long before the events unfolded in history. While the cross and the empty tomb may have been a surprise to these disciples on the road to Emmaus, they were no surprise to the Holy Spirit, who authored Scripture.
“And beginning with Moses and all the prophets he carefully unveiled to them the revelation of himself throughout the Scripture.”Luke 24:27 TPT
Finding Jesus in the Psalms
Like many people, I found myself suddenly working from home when the pandemic surged in the spring of 2020. Though the world filled the airwaves and our social media feeds with fear and uncertainty, I received these days at home as a gift from the Lord. I knew I needed to slow down and recharge, to refocus and return to my first love. And so, that’s precisely what I set out to do.
Without a morning commute, my days were suddenly longer. I could spend the early hours of each and every morning with the Lord. While the house was quiet and the kids were still in bed, I prayed, I worshiped, and I read my Bible. One morning, as if drawn there by the Spirit himself, I flipped to the book of Psalms and began to read. These were emotional days as infection rates climbed and the world was shutting down. The Psalms are filled with raw emotion and heartfelt cries to God; it seemed a good place to settle in. And so, day after day, for 150 days, I entered into the songbook of ancient Israel.
As I read, however, I found more than a sympathetic friend in David; I found the embrace of God. Every detail, every strange-sounding verse, and every familiar refrain drew me into the story of redemption. It was as though all the beautiful promises of God from Genesis to Revelation were being rehearsed in the Psalter. God was reminding me, in the midst of my uncertainty, that he has always had a plan to bring peace and goodness and mercy and joy to his people.
Not a Single Broken Bone
Take, for example, this verse from Psalm 34:
“God will be your bodyguard to protect you when trouble is near. Not one bone will be broken.”Psalm 34:20 TPT
The original context for this psalm is David’s flight from King Saul into enemy territory. Since David knew Saul would look everywhere in Israel for him, he decided to leave the country. Bold as he was, he went to stay in Gath, the hometown of Goliath, right in the heart of Philistine territory. It was a risky move, but David trusted God would see him through. In the end, David had to act insane to evade capture, but he left Gath unharmed, without a single injury or broken bone. (See 1 Samuel 21:10–15 for the full account.)
The line “Not one bone will be broken” isn’t mere poetry; it’s the voice of the Spirit of God urging us to look back on Israel’s history while also cherishing the salvation we have in Christ. You see, God commanded the Israelite slaves in Egypt not to break the bones of the Passover lambs they ate on the night they left their bondage (Exodus 12:46). The message was simple and straightforward: “There’s no time to leaven the bread, no time to break up the lamb and pack leftovers. Leave it unbroken. It’s time to go!”
If you recall, the lambs killed on Passover were unblemished, their physical perfection representing the moral purity no Israelite possessed. The spilt blood of those spotless lambs revealed that a substitution was necessary for salvation. A Lamb without broken bones—a holy and righteous Substitute—was needed.
The Gospels tell us that Jesus was that perfect, spotless Lamb. So, of course, when Jesus was pierced for our sins and was splayed like a violent criminal on a Roman cross for our shame, his bones were left unbroken (John 19:33–36). His righteousness was perfect and pure.
Jesus did everything we were unable to do. He upheld the commandments where we broke them. He loved God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength as we never could. He loved all people as his neighbors. He revealed the life of heaven on earth in his kingdom ministry. With his life, he showed the world “the dazzling radiance of God’s splendor” (Hebrews 1:3 TPT). In other words, Jesus bore the image of God perfectly, as we were created to do (see Genesis 1:27).
And the best part? Because Jesus was our substitute, he made a way for us to have our own exodus, out of the region of fear and sin and death and into the promised land of God’s mercy and joy and love—his presence!
We may break our physical bones as we walk through this world, but Jesus has given us his righteousness so that, in God’s eyes, we are perfect and spotless, lambs without a single broken bone.
The book of Psalms is a gift from our gracious Father, filled with reminder after reminder of his amazing love. (Check out Psalm 22 for a detailed account of Jesus’ crucifixion written a thousand years before it happened!) He doesn’t want us to live in doubt. He wants us to know that he has been thinking about us since the very beginning, making a way to bring us home to him.
“He’s the God who chose us when we were nothing! His tender love for us continues on forever!”Psalm 136:23 TPT
Brimming with poetry and praise, prayers and prophecy, the book of Psalms is an invitation to walk with God and experience his overwhelming love. As you journey through devotions for all 150 psalms, The Ascent
• helps you get more out of your time in God’s Word,
• highlights important cultural and historical background information,
• focuses on the big story the Bible tells from Genesis to Revelation,
• embraces the seemingly weird or tough passages others avoid, and
• uses a conversational manner to inspire, inform, and encourage. Be drawn deeper into the story of redemption, into your purpose as an image-bearer of God, and into the embrace of the Father who loves you.