Lean

My post “Lean” is a glimpse at this Biblical concept. There will be attempts at humor associated with this post, I hope. I pray my wit will not hinder my attempts to improve the use of lean. Since I am writing this the Oxford Dictionary might not agree that this is sarcasm, which is normally spoken. I personally do not see it as satire because I will not build a story around it. Even though it is written it does not fit a lampoon because I do not want anyone vexed. This is my first test with this post, so we will call it a written satire without a lot of severity. With that resolved, I will now lean in or lean on my subject of lean. (The NIV and KJV are close on the number of times they use the term lean.)

Genesis 41:19 is the story of Pharaoh who woke up because of a dream where lean cows and heads of grain ate up the fat ones. His trusted advisors could not give him the skinny on the dream. So, he called for Joseph. The KJV uses the term lean fleshed, in 2021 that might be viewed as something favorable.  

Jacob leans on his staff in Genesis 47:31 to bless his boys. After reading the Complete (CJB) and Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB) and several other scholarly works, it seems he leaned but not on his staff. The first Latin translations did not let the absences of vowels deter them. A better interpretation is he bowed his head on his bed, or at the head of his bed. The man was 147 years old; he did not need to stand up to bless his family.

Samson, in his last minutes of life, likewise did some leaning. He leaned in or leaned on the pillars of Dagon’s Temple to bring it down-Judges 16:26. Because his act brought the house down we can go with lean in.

Leaning in while playing sports frequently gets you called for a penalty. Well, at least in basketball when you are blocking someone. Tackling in football (American) is leaning in. Leaning in while batting in baseball may get you hit with the ball. 

King Saul died while leaning on his spear-2 Samuel 1:6. Finally, I could get a lean on into the conversion. 

The reason for this post is the buzz words-lean in. There is one preacher who seems to want you to lean in during every one of his messages. Not that he uses it wrong, but after thirteen sermons it gets a little old. By the fourteenth time, the expression is no longer fresh. Where did I get my figures? I made them up! Things are always more impressive if you spout numbers. Just hope no one asks you to document your facts. But, then you could say, “Well, everyone knows that.” That always seems to work for politicians, as long as they can change the topic right away. 

In Psalm 62:3, a leaning wall is a metaphor for a man not doing well in life. Walls can lean for a variety of reasons. But getting pushed on repeatedly or fatigue seems valid for this case. So, this metaphor may have been for Jeduthun. He was a prominent official and worship leader in David’s kingdom. If you are the person leaning into someone, know that it will take a toll on them.

Proverbs 3:5 underscores the importance of trusting the Lord and do not lean on yourself. To understand this metaphor better, try to lean on your own body. Okay, that is strange if you just tried it. Leaning on your own arm is done, but the arm should be on something. We need something or someone else to lean on. After that, you are on your own.

The disciple John had the right idea in John 13:25. He leaned on Jesus to ask a question. All the disciples wanted to know the name of who would betray Jesus. (The alternative accounts are in Matthew 26:21, Mark 14:18, and Luke 22:21.) The other disciples did not get an answer because they were not close enough to Jesus to lean back on Him. Judas may have been that close because he dipped his bread into Jesus’ bowl. Luke records a dispute among the disciples during the dinner. I will always think Judas started that. It is an excellent diversion tactic. 

 Anapipto is the word used by John when he leaned back on Jesus. In Strong’s, it is #377 in Greek. Use this to learn more-https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/anapipto

My point is you can lean into someone or something and never touch them. You will hear better because you have come closer to the source. But when you lean on someone, must make contact or you will just fall.

There is a Greek word that all of this leaning made me think of-charatoo. Now, this concept has nothing to do with leaning in or on. The root of this word is charis or grace. Charatoo is used twice in the Bible: in Luke when Gabriel talked to Mary and in Ephesians 1:6. Both refer to grace surrounding the person. I can see Jesus putting His arm around John, surrounding him with His presence when John leaned on Him.

We will go back to the overuse of fashionable terms. I traded out words in these phrases, since I am older, the word in parentheses is what I removed. 

  • Lean (right) on, bro
  • Keep on leaning (trucking)
  • Leaning (standing) tall
  • Stop, look and lean (listen)
  • Lean (waste) not want not

Well, that sounded better in my head than on paper. The point is, don’t lean too often on popular idioms to make your point, because people may lean away from you instead of leaning into you. 

The image is from the Brooklyn Museum https://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/tis-last-supper/

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