Leviticus 19 & Psalms 23-24

Leviticus 19

    And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the LORD your God.

    “When you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted. It shall be eaten the same day you offer it or on the day after, and anything left over until the third day shall be burned up with fire. If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is tainted; it will not be accepted, and everyone who eats it shall bear his iniquity, because he has profaned what is holy to the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from his people.

    “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.

    “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

    “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.

    “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

    “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

    “You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.

    “If a man lies sexually with a woman who is a slave, assigned to another man and not yet ransomed or given her freedom, a distinction shall be made. They shall not be put to death, because she was not free; but he shall bring his compensation to the LORD, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, a ram for a guilt offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the LORD for his sin that he has committed, and he shall be forgiven for the sin that he has committed.

    “When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten. And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield for you: I am the LORD your God.

    “You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes. You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.

    “Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, lest the land fall into prostitution and the land become full of depravity. You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

    “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.

    “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.

    “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

    “You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. And you shall observe all my statutes and all my rules, and do them: I am the LORD.”

(Leviticus 19 ESV)


Psalm 23

A Psalm of David.

    The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
        He makes me lie down in green pastures.
    He leads me beside still waters.
        He restores my soul.
    He leads me in paths of righteousness
        for his name's sake.
    
    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
        I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
        your rod and your staff,
        they comfort me.
    
    You prepare a table before me
        in the presence of my enemies;
    you anoint my head with oil;
        my cup overflows.
    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
        all the days of my life,
    and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
        forever.

(Psalm 23 ESV)


Psalm 24

A Psalm of David.

    The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof,
        the world and those who dwell therein,
    for he has founded it upon the seas
        and established it upon the rivers.
    
    Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
        And who shall stand in his holy place?
    He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
        who does not lift up his soul to what is false
        and does not swear deceitfully.
    He will receive blessing from the LORD
        and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
    Such is the generation of those who seek him,
        who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
    
    Lift up your heads, O gates!
        And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
        that the King of glory may come in.
    Who is this King of glory?
        The LORD, strong and mighty,
        the LORD, mighty in battle!
    Lift up your heads, O gates!
        And lift them up, O ancient doors,
        that the King of glory may come in.
    Who is this King of glory?
        The LORD of hosts,
        he is the King of glory! Selah

(Psalm 24 ESV)


Something to Consider

Leviticus 19: The Israelites were called to be a special people and a special nation noticeably set apart by God from among the rest of the world. Although they had been set free from their bondage in Egypt, they were not now simply free to live as they desired to live. God makes it known that He is the Lord their God, and He knows what’s best for them and what’s best for the flourishing of human civilization in general. The same principle applies to us as God’s people today. Although we have been set free from our bondage to sin through the work of Christ, we are not now free to live as we desire to live. No, having been set free from sin, we now have become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6). We have been set apart as a people for God’s own possession who are zealous for living our lives as they were meant to be lived (Titus 2). 

One particular principle worth noting in the midst of such a thorough description of holy living is the principle set by God for land owners to never strip their vineyards bare. Through this command, God provides a practical way for us to love our neighbor as ourself and to show generosity to the poor. How often do we hoard our own assets without regard for those who have nothing to call their own? Our God teaches us that our first-fruits belong to Him, and our excess ought to be given to another. We ought to be careful ever assuming or claiming that we have a right to anything. Here we see a foundational principle of Christian living: The fruit of your own vineyard is not in fact yours at all.   

This particular chapter in Leviticus provides us with some great principles for living as God’s people set apart for the glory of God in this world. May we get rid of this notion that these Old Testament rules of order don’t apply to us as New Testament people. A life lived in obedience to the way of life described in this chapter would be a life of great benefit to oneself and to civilization as a whole today. May we rejoice in the grace that frees us from the burden of having to perfectly live this way, and may we rightly trust that this way of life is in fact the best way to live because it is the way of life taught by our gracious God who works only for our good.