Beckett: The Son Comes on Behalf of the Father

Psalm 16
Preserve me, O God, for in You I take refuge.
I say to Yahweh, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from You.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.
Yahweh is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless Yahweh who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set Yahweh always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore, my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.
For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol or let Your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

David pictures God as if He’s standing beside him holding his hand, like the intimacy shared between father and son. For David, God is the focal point of his life. I remember as a child when I held my own father’s hand; I felt protected—nothing could ever get to me. So it is with our Father in Heaven. He stands beside us, holding our hand and guiding us, even through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23). As long as the Lord is by our side, nothing can get to us. Even death, for in it we receive life through Christ our Lord.

Malachi rebukes the Judeans for their faithlessness to God their Father. “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers” (Malachi 2:10)? They have profaned the covenant with God by profaning the sanctuary of Yahweh, which they did in their spiritual infidelity by “marrying” foreign gods, that is, worshiping other gods. The words of David, then, are true, “The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply” (Psalm 16:4).

Malachi then connects this spiritual infidelity to the literal infidelity between the men of Judah and their wives. Just as they have been unfaithful to God, so they have been unfaithful to their wives, which is a shameful thing.

Yet God promises a messenger. This messenger will bring Law and Gospel. He will bring Gospel, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi [the priests] and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to Yahweh” (Malachi 3:3).

He will also bring Law, “Then I will draw near to you for judgement. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear Me, says Yahweh of hosts” (3:5).

This messenger, of course, is Jesus Christ. As David viewed his relationship with God the Father as the Father holding His son’s hand, God sent His Son—Christ our Brother—to bring us to the Father. C.F.W. Walther’s comment on Matthew 4:1-11 given in the Treasury of Daily Prayer is a helpful understanding of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness:

An exceedingly wonderful battle is explained to us in our Gospel today. Shortly before, when Christ was baptized, the heavens opened up above Him as if they wanted to descend upon earth. Immediately after His baptism, hell opened up under Christ and rushed upon Him with all its power. How wonderful! The Son of God in almighty power had once cast Satan out of heaven, but here on earth, He let Himself be attacked by him, let Himself be led around, sneered at, and ridiculed. He did not conquer Satan, as He very well could have, by one word of His omnipotence, but by the written Word of God.

Treasury of Daily Prayer, for September 26, p. 758

The Father is not the Son; nevertheless, Christ says, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Fathers send their sons on behalf of the father, just as kings send their son the prince on behalf of the king. And so, God the Father sent His Son on the Father’s behalf to be Immanuel—God with us—and bring us to the Father. Walther continues:

By sin, all people sold themselves to Satan, becoming servants and subjects of his kingdom. Therefore, when Christ wanted to redeem men and save them, He came, as the true owner of all people’s souls, to conquer Satan, to destroy his kingdom, to remove his plunder from him, to free us from his dark power, and to lead us through the kingdom of grace into the kingdom of glory. Christ did this mainly by His bloody death of atonement on the cross for all the sins of the world. By this, the head of the snake was totally crushed and all people were completely redeemed. The battle with Satan described in our text was the beginning. It was the first engagement that had to be fought by the Prince of our salvation to trample Satan under His feet and to deal the first deadly wounds to him. It was the first defeat the hellish army had to experience to show them that the Stronger One had now come.

Treasury of Daily Prayer, for September 26, p. 758

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