Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.
Psalm 98 is a Psalm of David. It was written in celebration of a great victory over Israel’s enemies. In this Psalm David called upon Israel to rejoice before the Lord and sing praises to Him.
In keeping with all this, David emphasized three things in the verse we use for this meditation. He described the Lord as the God of Israel’s salvation. He pointed out that the Lord daily loads His people with benefits. And he called the Lord blessed, that is, worthy of all praise and honor.
The Lord is also the God of our salvation. Daily He loads us also with benefits. And so He is blessed, worthy of all praise and honor. That praise we must render to Him from thankful hearts.
Daily the Lord loaded Israel with benefits.
These benefits were, first of all, material abundance. The reign of David was a time of prosperity for Israel. It had not always been that way. The 400-year period of the judges prior to this had been a time of want and scarcity, as the surrounding nations troubled Israel constantly. But now was a time of victory and prosperity. Canaan had once more become the land of milk and honey for Israel. This abundance was part of the benefits of which David spoke. Daily the Lord loaded Israel with these benefits.
The benefits that the Lord loaded upon Israel were, however, primarily spiritual in nature.
We must bear in mind that in the Old Testament God dealt with His people in pictures. The earthly Canaan was a picture of a heavenly Canaan. The material prosperity of Canaan was a picture of the spiritual prosperity of the heavenly Canaan, a prosperity that Israel began to enjoy even in the earthly Canaan. This greater spiritual prosperity consisted in all the blessings of salvation. It included the forgiveness of sins, deliverance from the power of sin, and the power to live a new life in sweet fellowship and communion with God.
Daily the Lord loaded Israel with these benefits.
This was in keeping with the name and description David gave to God. He is the Lord, that is, Jehovah. This is God’s covenant name, emphasizing that He graciously established and maintained His covenant with Israel. He is also called the God of Israel’s salvation. As their covenant God, Jehovah brought a great salvation to Israel.
It was as their covenant God, the God of their salvation, that the Lord daily loaded Israel with benefits and blessings, both material and spiritual.
And the Lord does the same to us. We also belong to the covenant of God.
We belong to God’s covenant because we, by God’s sovereign grace, belong to Jesus Christ. God’s covenant is with Abraham and his seed (Gen. 17:7). And “if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29).
As our covenant God, the Lord has provided for us in Jesus Christ a great salvation. In the context of that salvation the Lord daily loads us with benefits. Also with us these benefits are primarily spiritual in nature. Daily the Lord forgives our sins in Jesus Christ. Daily He leads us to live a new life in the service of His name and provides for us the joy of His covenant fellowship and friendship.
But the Lord also loads us daily with material abundance. Although the church has not always enjoyed material abundance, most who read this do enjoy this abundance. We must remember, of course, that material abundance no longer has the significance it did in the Old Testament. It no longer serves as a picture and token of spiritual blessings. Nevertheless, the material is necessary for our covenant life with God on the earth. To serve the Lord in His covenant, we need food and drink, clothing and shelter. And the Lord, as the God of our salvation, has loaded us with material things.
The source of all the benefits that Israel enjoyed was the great victory that the Lord gave to Israel.
As we indicated earlier, this Psalm was written on the occasion of a great victory that the Lord had given to Israel over one of her enemies, the identity of which we are not told.
Through this victory the Lord had shown Himself again as the God of Israel’s salvation. The surrounding nations repeatedly sought to destroy Israel and rob her of her land. And they were motivated by more than the natural hatred of nation for nation, and greed for more land, that often led one nation to battle with another. Israel was the people of the one true and living God, whom the nations hated. In their attacks on Israel, the heathen nations sought to destroy the people of God and the covenant of God. Behind this was Satan, the arch enemy of God. At stake in these battles, therefore, was the very covenant of God and Israel’s life with God. But the Lord had once again led Israel to a great victory. Through this great victory the Lord, as the God of salvation, once more saved Israel.
Out of that victory, and others like it, came the many benefits of which David spoke in this Psalm.
In verse 18 of this Psalm, David spoke of the ascension of the Lord on high, His leading captivity captive, and the gifts the Lord received for men. Notice, He had led captivity captive, that is, had taken captive a multitude of enemies. He had received gifts for men. This refers to the spoils of war that David, as a type of Christ, distributed to the people of Israel.
All this prompts David to speak of the benefits that the Lord loaded upon Israel.
What great benefits the Lord loaded upon Israel daily. And they all came out of the great victories God gave to Israel as the God of her salvation over her enemies.
The benefits we enjoy today as the church find their source in a much greater victory than this. The victory that occasioned the writing of this Psalm was a mere type, or picture, of a greater victory of the Lord through Jesus Christ on the cross.
Let us consider this greater victory of the cross. Throughout history the devil has sought to destroy the covenant of God with His people and the new life they have in Him. He will do that by turning them against their God and bringing them under the bondage of sin. In fact, he succeeded in this at the very beginning of history by leading our first parents into sin. This was a terrible violation of the covenant that made the life of the covenant impossible. And so God sent His Son to the cross to atone for sin. At the cross Jesus endured the full punishment of sin for all that the Father had given Him. He also walked in perfect obedience for them. This perfect sacrifice means complete victory for the church and the covenant. Christ’s atoning death rescues God’s covenant from the destruction of sin and ensures the salvation of the church. It also dooms the devil and the powers of darkness to destruction in hell.
Of this great victory in Christ, the many victories of God over Israel’s enemies in the Old Testament were only types and pictures. On the basis of His great victory at the cross, Christ also ascended into heaven. And, even as David distributed to the people of Israel the spoils of war after his victories over the enemies of Israel, so also the Lord distributes the spoils of war to His church through the power of Christ’s ascension. Christ is seated at the right hand of God in heaven. As the exalted Victor He daily loads the church with the benefits of His victory— blessings of salvation, both spiritual and material.
In response to all this David exclaims, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits.”
The phrase “to bless” is used in Scripture most often to describe one greater bestowing good gifts on one lesser. These good gifts are the source of life and happiness and are called blessings.
Here, however, David called the people to bless the Lord. “Blessed be the Lord.” He meant that the Lord was the one who ought to be blessed by Israel. His many benefits ought to be acknowledged. Expressions of thanks ought to be given. He ought to be praised.
This is what we should do in response to the many benefits the Lord has loaded upon us.
Many of our readers will celebrate a national day of thanksgiving soon. Historically Thanksgiving Day is connected to the fall harvest and the material abundance we receive from the land.
Certainly the Lord has loaded us with these things.
We ought to acknowledge this as well as thank and praise Him for them.
But let us not forget the greater benefits we have from God through Christ, namely, the spiritual blessing and riches of salvation in Jesus Christ. We must above all acknowledge these spiritual benefits, giving thanks and praise to the Lord for them.