The total annihilation of Sodom & Gomorrah is a famous (or infamous) account in Genesis. Many focus on the sinful living of the cities’ inhabitants, but a far better emphasis is how Abraham prefigures Christ when he intercedes for them. Abraham begins his intercession by saying to the Lord, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous and the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23). As I read this, I made an interesting observation of how this account—among others—could be the basis for Psalm 1.
Take note of what Abraham says, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous and the wicked?” Now compare this with the parts I have in bold from Psalm 1, noting also the sharp juxtaposition between the righteous and the wicked. The following is my own Hebrew translation:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the advice of the wicked
and stands not in the way of sinners
and sits not in the seat of scoffers.
Rather, his delight is in the Torah of Yahweh,
and on His Torah he mutters day and night.
He is like a tree planted beside channels of water
that gives its fruit in its time,
and its leaf withers not.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for Yahweh knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked shall perish.
Psalm 1 makes the fate of the wicked quite clear: they will perish. Even though they might be prosperous in this world while the righteous suffer, in the end—at God’s Judgement—the roles will be reversed.
As familiarity with the story of Sodom & Gomorrah will tell, there is only one righteous man: Lot. Thus, as God promised, He saves the one righteous man, Lot, and his family, just as He did with Noah and his family. It turns out that God will not, indeed, sweep away the righteous with the wicked. As Psalm 1 indicates, the righteous are like a tree firmly planted beside channels of water that yields its fruit in its time, whereas the wicked are like feckless chaff that the wind will sweep away.
Here’s the more miraculous thing: God did not spare the one righteous Man, Jesus Christ, in order that He might spare us—His very enemies—from His coming wrath. Consider Paul’s words: “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God… He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 5:8-9; 8:32).
Thus, just as Abraham interceded and saved the one man, Lot, so Jesus did the greater act by interceding and offering Himself up as the sacrifice—the only truly righteous man—to make God’s wicked enemies His children to become part of the congregation of the righteous that will not be swept away in His coming judgement.
Featured Image: Photo by Ludo Kuipers. Friday, November 9, 1973.
1 thought on “Beckett: Pastor’s Thoughts – Sodom & Gomorrah: The Basis for Psalm 1 (Genesis 18:23)”
It’s quite a coincidence that you write about Psalm 1 today. I’ve been thinking about this particular passage a lot lately. I can’t help but wonder if Psalm 1 wasn’t part of the reason why, in the end, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day decided that he had to go. To the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus seemed to deliberately flaunt the clear intent of Psalm 1 when he ate with the likes of Levi (Mark 2:13-17). I’m speculating here, but maybe they even quoted it when they approached the disciples. At least on this occasion, it seems that Jesus’ response to their anger and angst left them speechless.
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