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Calling on the Name of the Lord: Writings

By Gianluca Cueva

“When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart… and return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul… then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you” Deuteronomy 30:1-3

Israel had received God’s promised blessings and now while in exile, under subjugation, they have also received God’s promised judgment and curses. However, curses never had the final word. Because God is a compassionate and merciful God, He promised that if the people would only repent, He would restore them. They need only call out to the LORD.

The Biblical and Hebraic category of Writings (1 Chron. - Song of Songs, Lamentations & Daniel), both teach and show God’s people to pray and repent in a way that recalibrates their idolatrous hearts that led them to exile. The wisdom literature in Writings teaches this, while the rest of the Writings compliment by showing these repentant prayers. Writings builds upon a biblical theology of prayer by helping the people to recalibrate their hearts no longer to God’s promises of obedient blessings or disobedient curses (Deut. 28), but to His promise of life-giving repentance (Deut. 30).

Wisdom literature, especially Proverbs and Job, teach that the LORD hears the prayer of the upright and righteous person (Prov. 15:8, 29; Job 42:8). These prayers teach, and remind, the Israelites just how far they have fallen. Because God is gracious to restore, the Israelites are able to learn they are in need of recalibrating their hearts. And these lessons are shown by the prayers of Daniel on behalf of his people (Dan. 9:16-19), Ezra and Nehemiah (Neh. 13:22-29) and even in the retelling of Israel’s kings in Chronicles (who pray 10 times more than in Kings).

But perhaps the most influential book in the Writings for our purposes are the Psalms. They tell how God’s people can, should and must call on Him. In many ways the psalms are a bridge to the New Testament when it comes to a biblical theology of prayer. They connect the prayers of Israel’s anointed king(s) and the people of the anointed king, to the one true anointed King of kings. The promises that undergird the vast diverse prayers in the Psalms become incarnate in the only One who could both keep and make those promises, Jesus the Messiah (Christ).

Have you fallen short this week? this day? The Writings remind us there’s grace awaiting us when we repent and recalibrate. Let us call on the name of the LORD, the one who promises us grace upon grace.