In the former passage we read the following from the pen of Moses: “Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land and to his people.”
In the latter passage from the pen of the Psalmist we read: “O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him all ye people.”
When looking at these passages rather closely, we notice that they both emphasize the fact that the Gentiles shall praise God for His mercy, and that Israel is the people through whom God brings this mercy to the Gentiles. Salvation is out of the Jews. True, it is not merely for the Jews. But surely salvation could only come to us through Christ, and he was born to us from a woman and made under the law, that those who were under law might be redeemed from the same, and that the Gentiles too might receive the adoption of sons. Gal. 4:4-5. This truth is implicitly taught by the Holy Spirit in both Deut. 32:43 and in Psalm 117:1.
Secondly, we notice that both of these passages, which we have quoted above, look at this salvation which is for the Gentiles from a prophetical viewpoint. They are both parts of a prophetical “song”! In Deut. 32:43the Holy Spirit gives us the climax of the Song Of Moses, which was uttered by Moses as the mouth-piece of God, just prior to his climbing Mt. Nebo to die. He went up to this mountain to see the land from afar ere he would die. The mediator of the Old Covenant, the law-giver, cannot enter into the land of promise. This is to be done by one whose name is Joshua, that is, Jehovah saves. It will be done by the greater than Joshua, by Jesus Himself, who will save his people from their sins, and who will truly bring them into the promised rest. And thus also the end of this song is nothing else than Christ the righteousness for everyone who believeth, the Jew first and also the Greek. SeeRom. 1:16, Romans 10:4. In Psalm 117:1, which incidentally is the shortest Psalm in the Bible, we have as it were one great trumpet-blast, prophetically through the Spirit of Christ in the Psalmist, exhorting the nations to sing the praises of God for His promised mercy and everlasting covenant faithfulness.
Thirdly, we should notice that these passages are now specifically mentioned by Paul as underscoring for us the duty and the privilege to glorify God for His mercy. The ends of the ages have now come upon us! NowJew and Gentile in great accord and with one mouth can praise God for his mercy. Not to do so is to deny the work of God in Christ Jesus on the Cross!
So much in general on these Scripture passages here quoted by Paul.
Concerning Deut. 32:43 we would still notice more particularly the following:
1. This passage is, in the Song of Moses, the culminative point; it is the very matter which gives us to understand this “Song.” It is the key to its prophetical perspective! If it were not for this particular part of the Song of Moses, truly the law would have annulled the promise. But now we see Moses rise to the heart of the Abrahamic promise: “In thee and in thy Seed shall all nations be blessed.” Now Moses sings of the great “Exodus which Christ is about to fulfill at Jerusalem,”Luke 9:31. The law is given by Moses but grace and truth became a reality through Jesus Christ. John 1:17-18.
2. That such is the intent and thrust of this entire “Song” is, it seems to me, very evident from the following important elements in this entire Song of Moses:
a. This appears, first of all, from the very introduction and preface of this Song. It is more than a song of Moses! Also this Song is God-inspired. It is the word of God. Moses is here a prophet and speaks the more sure prophetic word unto which we do well to give heed as unto a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day-star arise in our hearts. II Peter 1:19. The content of this song is such in its prophetical instruction that heaven and earth are called upon to give ear to pay close attention. For mere man doth here not speak! He who proclaims the end from the beginning here unfolds the glory of Israel and the light of the nations (Luke 2:32). Small wonder that the Holy Spirit through Moses says, “Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass,” Deut. 32:1. For the greatness of the Lord is here proclaimed, the glory of God in Christ in the church in salvation’s history (Heilsgeschiedenis). See a similar instance inPsalm 50:1, where heaven and earth are called to attention, “The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun even to the going down thereof.” Compare also Isaiah 1:2.
b. The Lord had really a controversy with the rebellious nation and people, who are not sons, but who are the blotch and spot of Israel. Is God not true and every man a liar? Is He not a Rock and is all His work not perfect, and are not all His ways judgment and equity, and is He not just and right?! And were not the rebellious Israel also brought up with the true sons, and had they not seen the mighty works of the Lord, tasted the power of the coming age —when the Christ will come — in the redemption of Israel? But God is faithful and His promise stands. God will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy. The elect shall obtain, and the rest shall be hardened.
c. To see this truth Israel has but to consider the history of “ancient times,” the years of many generations, both past, present and future. They have but to scan the dealings of God through the ages with the sons of Adam. For “when the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel,” verse 8. And again we read in verse 9, “For the LORD’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance”! This evidently means that the Lord so placed the peoples in His providence that the children would be gathered from the nations, even as He elected His chosen people before the foundation of the world. When God confused the speech of the builders of the tower of Babel in the days of Peleg and “did scatter them abroad upon the face of the earth” this was not simply a helter-skelter scattering of the nations on the part of the Lord, but it was a work of quiet serenity of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will. Shall Abraham be the Father of “many nations” then these nations must not be merely “formed,” but their “bounds must be set,” their place in history must be determined! And each nation is set by almighty God exactly where it can be subservient to the cause of the Son of God in the world. Hence, the bounds of the nations are set according to the number of the children of Israel, as he numbers according to the election of grace! Thus we read in the well-known address of Paul on Mars Hill in Athens: “And he hath made of one blood all nations for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed (orisas prostetagmenous kairous) and the bounds of their habitation.” Both the time and the place of nations is appointed by the LORD! When this is considered, as the ancients will tell, it will be evident that the Lord is a ROCK, and that all His works are perfect!
d. But Moses sees the entire history of Israel from the view-point of the reprobate Israel as they are the “Jeshuran who waxes fat,” verses 15-35. They have grown thick, forsaking God who formed them, moving God to jealousy, provoking God with their vanities! They are those who see emphatically and yet see not, and hear emphatically and yet hear not. They are the “not-children” (lo-banai) who are the spot of Israel. Upon these God will come in His judgment, remove them from their land, and through this judgment God will bring mercy upon His people! For this people will sing: For unto us a Child is born, for unto us a Son is given, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, and the government shall be upon His shoulders. Such is the history here foretold in the prophetical Song of Moses! In this history we see all the virtues of God displayed, particularly His covenant-faithfulness to His own.
e. But also Israel’s place and calling are thus determined by God. Also Israel as a nation has only a place in the world according to the number of the children of Israel, the “Israel of God”! (Gal. 6:16). For salvation is out of the Jews, John 4:22. To them have been entrusted the oracles of God. Here is the adoption and the glory and the covenants, and the law-giving and the worship and the promises! From this people cometh Christ according to the flesh, who is God over all blessed forever, Amen!
f. And the Scriptures foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles out of faith, proclaimed beforehand as Gospel, “In thee shall all nations be blessed.” Harking back to this Abrahamic promise and Gospel, the Spirit of Christ, in Moses, calls out to the Gentiles, “Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people.” The axiom and the fundamental dealing of God with the Gentiles is not such that it will be first the Jew and then the Greek ! However, it is first the Jew and also the Greek. For in the Christological-eschatological perspectives of Noah’s prophecy we read: “God shall enlarge Japhet and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem.” The Gentiles shall be one body with the Jews. God will make one new man. And therefore the Gentiles are to rejoice in the one Spirit with the Jews.
Thus we have the same Christological perspectives here in the Song of Moses! But it is no different in the Psalmody of Israel. Particularly it is thus in Psalm 117:1.
Concerning this Psalm we would make a few brief remarks.
In the first place it should be noticed that Psalm 117 is then shortest Psalm in the Bible. As one writer puts it, “This Psalm, which is very little in letter, is exceedingly large in its spirit; for bursting beyond all bounds of race or nationality, it calls upon all mankind to praise the name of the Lord . . . It is short and sweet. The same divine Spirit which expatiates in the 119th, here condenses His utterance into two short verses, but yet the same infinite fullness is present and perceptible.”
In the second place, we should observe that the Spirit of Prophecy led the Old Testament saints to sing a special song concerning the future salvation of the Gentiles, who too are the Israel of God.
Thirdly, the Holy Spirit through Paul quotes Psalm 117 inRomans 15:15. The Gentiles, who are brought to the faith, are a part of the people of God. They too are the Laos! They are the congregation to which Christ came to show mercy when He became the minister of the circumcision.
Fourthly, we, the Gentile church, are to see this reality. We are not to call common what Christ hath sanctified, but with one voice both Jew and Gentile are to serve God. Thus is the plan and purpose of God in all the Scriptures.
Hence, we are to receive each other in the love of Christ.
For meat we are not to destroy the work of God. In this higher unity the differences of adiaphora vanish away!