Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Psalm 105 - He Did What?

Some folks who read through the account in Psalm 105 may surprised - especially when they get down to verse 25.

The Psalm starts off with a call to thankfulness and worship, on account of the deeds that God has done, calling them "wondrous works" and "marvelous works."

The first item to be selected is God's choice of Abraham and Jacob. God chose them for many blessings: but the most important blessing was their personal salvation.

Second is the covenant and oath he made with Abraham and Isaac, and which God confirmed to Jacob/Israel: namely the inheritance of the land of Canaan. As we learn more clearly in Romans and Hebrews, this inheritance was pointing toward heaven.

The Psalmist points out that this promise was made when they were very few and that God protected them, even reproving kings for their sakes. And likewise, God called for a famine in the land, but sent Joseph in slavery to Egypt until the time was right and Joseph was freed. Notice again that God takes credit for sending Joseph in slavery to Egypt. Was it a sinful thing to sell Joseph, yes. And yet God takes credit for the act without any moral responsibility for the sinful act of betrayal by Joseph's brethren.

Furthermore, God not only freed Joseph but made him second to the king of Egypt, even over the leaders of Egypt.

When Israel came to Egypt, God caused Israel to prosper until they were stronger than the Egyptians.

In verse 25, some folks who had not fainted at God's claim to have sent Joseph into Egypt will have cardiac arrest: God says that he "turned their heart to hate his people and to deal subtilly with his servants." It was sinful for them to hate his people and to deal treacherously with them, and yet God takes credit, saying that He turned their heart to do that.

Furtheremore, God punished this hatred by sending Moses and Aaron (also chosen by God) by whom he did many miracles, which each were some form of destruction on the Egyptians.

Finally, he brought forth his people from Egypt, taking the Egyptian's gold, and giving all of the people physical strength. And in the end the Egyptians were glad that the people were gone, because they were afraid of them.

God also brought Israel through the wildernness with a cloud and fire to provide shade by day and light by night. God provided quails and bread and water. God remembered his promise to Abraham and brought forth his people from Egyptian bondage with joy and gladness, and gave them Canaan, so that they might obey him.

It is a picture of salvation: God brings forth his elect from spiritual Egypt - from bondage to sin - with joy and gladness, providing them with spiritual nourishment and bringing them into the promised land: heaven at the end.

It is hard to imagine a more Calvinistic psalm.

As the Psalmist concludes; "Praise ye the LORD!"

-Turretinfan

10 comments:

Josh said...

"It is hard to imagine a more Calvinistic psalm."

It's not Calvinistic at all. If God does not tempt any man with evil, as James says, then God does not decree any man to do evil either. But once the man is already damned of his own will, God will push him further into damnation. So, Paul says that those who refuse to receive the love of the truth will be sent a strong delusion by God to damn them further who would have been damned anyway. Again, Paul says that those who did not like to retain God in their knowledge were then given over by God to defile themselves in all manner of sins, which shows that God did not damn them from the first by any decree to make them sin, but once having damned themselves by refusing to honor him, he consigned them to slide into worse error. So, the Egyptians, already damned by their idolatry, God turns also into hatred of his people. And Pharaoh, again already damned by his own will, God hardens to show his power in him. God is not the cause of their damnation, for God did not decree from eternity past "Pharaoh will be damned" but because Pharaoh was damned of his own will, God used him for a task that required a damned person.

Turretinfan said...

Josh:

a) That's what we call eisegesis, when you impose your theology on the text.

b) It can be demonstrated that you did not get your ideas from the text. There's nothing in the text about God pushing man farther into damnation. There's nothing that says God used already-damned people to do what required such a person.

c) Additionally, it can be demonstrated that your explanation is insufficient. While the "already-damned" hypothesis (unsupported by the text) might seem to make sense with respect to Pharaoh, it does not make sense with respect to the nine patriarchs who sold their brother into slavery.

d) Finally, Scripture is clear that anyone who repents and believes will be saved - that includes the most hardened sinner. Thus, to say that some people harden themselves beyond salvation is to deny the gospel. Thus, the "already damned" hypothesis is not simply extra-scriptural, but counter-scriptural.

e) Furthermore, you fail to address the actual points in issue. The underlying point is that Joseph's brethren and Pharaoh both did evil acts, and yet God takes credit for their acts - God says He sent Joseph to Egypt and He caused Pharaoh to hate the Israelites. In other words, God is responsible for those acts, without receiving blame. That's what makes this such a Calvinistic Psalm.

f) Your opening argument from James' epistle is a non sequitur.

-Turretinfan

Josh said...

"That's what we call eisegesis, when you impose your theology on the text."

No my friend, but what it is called is glorifying God rather than blaspheming him. The Scriptures plainly state that God tempts no man with evil. Now if God decreed a man to do evil, would it not be worse than tempting him to do it? In tempting a man to do evil, the man would have a choice left. But in forcing him to do evil, he would be forced to do it. If then God cannot tempt man to do evil, neither can he force man to do evil. To say otherwise is to change God into Satan, which is exactly the problem that Calvinism has.

Josh said...

And when God says he sent Joseph into Egypt he means not that he forced Joseph's brothers to sin, but that after they had thrown him into the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites, since the Ishmaelites would of necessity bring him somewhere, God caused the Ishmaelites to bring him to Egypt.

Turretinfan said...

Josh:

1) Your comments in support of your argument from James are addressed by part (f) of my comments, not by part (a).

2) Of course, the point of (a) is that you are not engaging Psalm 105 at all - you are trying to get around it.

3) As for (f) and your comments:

(i) You wrote: "No my friend, but what it is called is glorifying God rather than blaspheming him." Probably you hear blasphemy because you are not listening. You didn't interact with Psalm 105, and you're not interacting with the exegesis of Psalm 105. Instead you are interacting with your misconception of Calvinism.

(ii) You wrote: "The Scriptures plainly state that God tempts no man with evil." You can leave off the "with evil." It plainly states that God tempts no man.

It also plainly states that God tempted Abraham:

Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

The question is what James meant by what he said. You seem to have assumed something (though you did not state what you assumed).

For example, perhaps James just meant something like this:
2Pe 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

After all, James also wrote:
Jas 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Whatever it means, you need to provide an explanation, not just a loud assertion.

When we read James in context, we are seeing that James is explaining in chapter 2 how men succumb to temptation. God does not overwhelm man with temptation, man consents.

Perhaps you recognize all that, but who knows: you don't explain yourself.

(iii)You wrote: "Now if God decreed a man to do evil, would it not be worse than tempting him to do it?" Not at all. God decreed that Jesus would be crucified. Of course, again, the problem no doubt is that you mean something by "decreed" that Calvinists do not - and which consequently means you are battling windmills, not knights.

Conversely, would it be any better if God did not tempt man himself, but gave permission for the devil to tempt? Recall Job. Would man have the excuse: "the devil made me do it" (instead of "God made me do it")? He would in the context of James, but he doesn't in reality, which is James' points.

And likewise go back to the garden: Was Adam's excuse that the woman tempted him a justification or Eve's excuse that the serpent tempted her a justification? No, in neither case. It is never a justification. Adam and Eve did what they wanted to do, neither God nor the serpent, nor the woman forced Adam to eat the forbidden fruit. Yet God placed the tree in the garden, permitted the serpent to tempt Eve and permitted Eve to tempt Adam.

(iv) You wrote: "In tempting a man to do evil, the man would have a choice left." On the contrary, the kind of tempting that James was rebutting was a kind where the man claims he did not have a choice. After all, the man is trying to make an excuse for himself. The man is trying to blame God, saying that he was compelled by God's temptation to sin. James rebuts by placing the cause for succumbing to temptation squarely on man's lusts: man's desires, what he wants.

(v)You wrote: "But in forcing him to do evil, he would be forced to do it." Since Calvinism does not say that people are "forced" to do evil, and since I didn't say that, it's pretty clear that you have engaged only your misconception of Calvinism.
May I suggest you re-read the post. God decrees man's choices - God does not decree that man has no choice. Do you see the difference? Once you do, you will have a chance to deal with the actual issues.

(vi)You wrote: "If then God cannot tempt man to do evil, neither can he force man to do evil." That is more or less the point of James' comments, namely that "tempt" (as used by the person objecting) = "force." God does not force people to do evil, they do so freely. It's all part of Scriptural theology, aka Calvinism.

(vii)You wrote: "To say otherwise is to change God into Satan, which is exactly the problem that Calvinism has." Actually, it is only a problem that your misconception of Calvinism has. Furthermore, Satan does not "force" people to sin, either. If Satan could have forced Job to sin, Satan would have done so. Instead, man sins because he wants to sin. Satan does what he can to make man sin, but Satan can only do so much.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

Josh, again, your latest comment employs more eisegesis:

You wrote: "And when God says he sent Joseph into Egypt he means not that he forced Joseph's brothers to sin, but that after they had thrown him into the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites, since the Ishmaelites would of necessity bring him somewhere, God caused the Ishmaelites to bring him to Egypt."

I respond: You didn't get that from the verse. The first thing that is listed as God's way of bringing Jospeph to Egypt is Joseph being sold as a slave. You don't like that, and want to find a way around it. There's not a whisper about God redirecting Ishmaelites.

On the other hand, we see the fact that it was the sale of Joseph into slavery that God intended in another place:

Gen 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

-Turretinfan

Josh said...

Speaking of eisegesis, where does Psalm 105 say that God caused Joseph's brothers to sell him? It does not. Here is what it says, verse 17, "He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:"--it says not that he caused Joseph to be sold, but that he sent Joseph who was sold. There is not even any implication that he caused him to be sold. It simply states that the man who God sent was Joseph, who was sold. My interpretation is clearly valid, that after he was sold to the Ishmaelites, God sent him to Egypt by causing him to be brought by them into Egypt. You have added, yea eisogesized, the words "God cause his brothers to sell him" into the text where they do not appear.

Now, your whole argument against my interpretation is essentially that interpreting Scripture with Scripture is eisegesis. And you say that because I recognize God's holiness (a thing taught in Scripture) in my interpretation, and refuse to blaspheme, therefore it is eisegesis. But you are the one engaging in eisegesis, as I have show in the first paragraph above.

Josh said...

Gen 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Again, this merely shows that God turned their actions around, not that he caused them. Once they sold him with the intention of doing evil against him, then God turned it around and brought good out of it.

Turretinfan said...

Josh, writing regarding Genesis 50:20, wrote: "Again, this merely shows that God turned their actions around, not that he caused them. Once they sold him with the intention of doing evil against him, then God turned it around and brought good out of it."

Actually no: "God intended it" does not mean that God "turned their actions around." It means that God meant for it to happen. That's what intend means.

There's simply no exegetical leg to stand on for the "turned it around" argument. The only reason you make such an assertion is an a priori commitment to a rejection of Calvinism.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

Josh, writing regaring Psalm 105 wrote: "Speaking of eisegesis, where does Psalm 105 say that God caused Joseph's brothers to sell him? It does not."

Go back to the original post. The whole Psalm is about what God has done, it is a celebration of his deeds.

That context helps one who is reading to understand that when God says he sent Joseph to Egypt and then explains how Joseph got to Egpyt (by being sold into slavery, shackled, etc. etc.) we can readily understand that God is taking credit for the recited events.

Josh continued: "Here is what it says, verse 17, "He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:"--it says not that he caused Joseph to be sold, but that he sent Joseph who was sold"

I respond: It says what it says. It does not say what you would like it to say, namely that he sent Joseph who had already been sold.

Josh continued: "There is not even any implication that he caused him to be sold."

I respond: Sure there is, the context of the psalm as a whole, and especially the introduction; the fact that the goal is stated and then the means for attaining that goal; and the parallel account in Genesis 50.

Josh continued: "It simply states that the man who God sent was Joseph, who was sold."

I respond: In context, the "who was sold" is an explanation of how Joseph got to Egypt.

Josh continued: "My interpretation is clearly valid, that after he was sold to the Ishmaelites, God sent him to Egypt by causing him to be brought by them into Egypt."

Actually, this is simply wishful thinking on your part. In point of fact, Scripture clearly indicates that the Ishmaelites were already on their way to Egypt:

Gen 37:25 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.

They were already going to Egypt to sell spices. God did not direct the Ishmaelites to Egypt after Joseph was sold.

Josh continued: "You have added, yea eisogesized, the words "God cause his brothers to sell him" into the text where they do not appear."

I respond: Clearly this charge is false, see above.

Josh continued: "Now, your whole argument against my interpretation is essentially that interpreting Scripture with Scripture is eisegesis."

I respond: Nope. I'm pointing out that you didn't get the sense of the text from the text: you imposed your own philosophical notions on the text.

Josh continued: "And you say that because I recognize God's holiness (a thing taught in Scripture) in my interpretation, and refuse to blaspheme, therefore it is eisegesis."

I respond: Again, no, I say that you mangle Scripture because you have a precommitment to certain philosophical notions. God is holy, AND the text says that God takes credit for various acts. The solution is not to deny what Scripture says or mangle it (your approach so far) but to rethink your philosophy.

Josh continued: "But you are the one engaging in eisegesis, as I have show in the first paragraph above."

I respond: Precisely the reverse, as has been demonstrated.

-Turretinfan