Rom 11:9-12 “And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?”
Paul, speaking of his brethren the Israelites, quotes Psalms 69:22-23 here in verses nine and ten. This Psalm is a prophecy concerning our Lord Jesus whom all but a remnant rejected. The Israelites were so in love with their legal service that they had lost sight of the true meaning behind the service they performed. Rather than using it to praise God, it had become a testament to their own self-righteousness.
Unfortunately, that same attitude can be found in us today. We all love the places where we worship and the manner in which we worship. Sometimes, the place and the manner become more important to us than who we should be worshipping. Customs and traditions take the place of Biblical authority.
It is likely that the table that David referenced actually referred to the altar and the meat and drink offerings that they brought. Considering all that Paul has said about them seeking their own righteousness rather than the righteousness of God, this would be in keeping with Paul’s instruction here. Instead of these things being offered in a manner that was pleasing to God, they perverted the service into something that was (in their eyes) profitable to them. Their table became a snare and destruction to them: it was reciprocal of the way they perverted God’s worship.
We are told these things in the scripture as more than just a matter of history. This is a present-day caution to us to keep our eyes fastened on Jesus. Otherwise, we may find ourselves being unable to see and always heavily burdened. This is a sad state of affairs. God is not being praised when we are in this condition.
At the same time, Paul calls our attention to the grace and purpose of God beyond what we may immediately see. Even though Israel had stumbled, it was not to the end that they should be completely cast aside (fall) from the love of God. This should be a cause of great joy to us, both for them and ourselves. Although we may stumble, God will not utterly forsake us.
Although the word “fall” appears twice in Paul’s speech here, they are taken from two different root words. When Paul asks “Have they stumbled that they should fall?”, this word means “to fall down.” The second word translated a fall, which is something they did do, means “to err or transgress.” Although they had not fallen completely out of God’s love, He used their error as a door of salvation to the Gentiles.
Again, this was not for the eternal justification of the Gentiles. That was in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, just as it was for the Jews. Rather, God used this fall to show the Jews that He has power to call the Gentiles to His service. In our self-righteousness, we might be tempted to look at someone else’s life and think “God cannot use them.” However, when He allows us to truly see our own condition, we realize that if God can use us to serve Him then He can certainly use anyone.
At the same time, we need to be very careful about our attitude toward those who may have fallen (failed) in their worship. If God used the fall of the Jews to draw the Gentiles, He also used the drawing of the Gentiles to provoke the Jews to remember His call in their lives. When we are blessed by God to see the example He has made of others, it may enrich us by allowing us to walk a better path. How much more glorious will it be when we whose salvation has been to provoke others to jealousy are able to see them turn and worship God in spirit and in truth.
May we always be thankful for the privilege of worship and service to the Living God, and may we pray for those who may have fallen and rejoice when we see God raise them up again!