Weeds or Standards

Church it is time!  As Pentecost approaches, I think it is time for a check-up.  This post has been stirring inside of me for a while but a verse in Psalm 74 finally put a voice to what I have been feeling.

This started with a “kingdom parable” in Matthew 13: 25.  Good seed was sown, but while we were asleep the enemy came in and sowed weeds. The master of the field had an unusual response – leave the weeds alone so you do not pull up the wheat!  And all of the gardeners said, “What!”  And all the church people said, “But that is not how I read the Bible, my doctrine must be correct.” 

Weeds – a plant that is not wanted were it is.  Unfortunately, that is a huge definition when it comes to plants.  I have cut down some huge weeds because I did not want that tree there.  But I quit fighting the false dandelions in my lawn just because they are pleasant to look at when in bloom.   Another example is penny and dollar wort, I don’t like them in my lawn and they are a pain in a garden/flower bed.  To get rid of them I can pull them up or poison them.  One method may work in a flower bed and the other may be okay in the lawn, but it is a decision that must be made carefully.  Oh, if those plants are in a sand dune they are wonderful at helping establish the stability of the dune along the beaches here in south Texas. 

The weeds the enemy has sown come in many shapes and sizes.  Throw in the human condition of pride and it can be war in the printing presses.  The “weed” that set me off is found in Genesis 1. The problem was not that God created the world, a Christian should agree to that, but how long it took and how it was done.  I have followed this argument for many years.  Some of this “weed pulling” comes from what Study Bible you use.  So, the Church of my Living God has battled itself for truth and let evolution take over the education system!

The verse in Psalm 74 that divided weeds from standards is #4.  “Your foes roared in the place where you met with us; they set up their standards as signs.” (NIV) Pick your favorite translation the meaning is clear!

Acts 2:36 needs to be a common point for all Christians – Jesus is Lord and Christ.  Unfortunately, weed seeds have been sprinkled into the rest of Peter’s sermon, that first birthday of the Church!  Verse 40 holds the last part of this post. “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Church, they are in our meeting halls – roaring their standards.  New Age thought has been brought in, and we have let postmodernism change definitions in the Church.  Postmodernism works by changing (usually it is a slow change) the meaning of words!  Words they are changing or at least trying to change – Father God, Jesus, Christ, love, sin, family, and others!  The Great Commission has not changed and that needs to be the work of the Church.  Asaph is credited with writing Psalm 73 to 83; as I have read them recently, many sound like prayers against the foes of God and the Church of Jesus.           

Additional Thoughts – fellow Christians should not be an enemy, you may not agree with them on everything; the Seed is still good; Jesus has confidence in the Seed/Plants even with weeds trying to suck the life from the plants’ roots; Jesus still wins in the end! 

Psalm 59

You have to love Psalms!  This is one of many that I have marked with repeated phrases.  The yellow and blue sections are great. The other highlighted sections are just similar thoughts. The shading was done by me for comparison.  

In my Bible, there is an introduction to this Psalm.  (This Psalm was copied from BibleGateway.com and is the New International Version.)  Apparently, at one time the introduction may have been the first verse.  It was written by David after the events of 1 Samuel 19: 11.  It would be fun to hear the actual tune that went with it when David wrote this song. Was it is up tempo or a slow mournful tune?

It is fair to say that David was not happy when he wrote it.  He was probably in his early twenties and not angry and fearful about what was being done to him!  Even in this very forceful wording, we find verse three, which is a shadow of the Pharisees and how they treated Jesus.  

New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Work of His Hands

The work of His hands.  cropped-flowers-1.jpg

A comforting idea that is in poems, sermons, and song is that we are “the works of God’s hands.”  Job and David both used this beautiful idea in their writings, but with two different perspectives. We will start with Job.

In Job 10:3 Job is answering one of his tormentors, Bildad, in his third discourse of his book.  Job’s bitterness is evident in this discourse; it is directed at Bildad and God.  (Job 9:33, part of the discourse, is a plea for the work of Jesus as being an arbitrator.)  The end of verse three is still directed at God and says, “While you (God) smile on the schemes of the wicked.(NIV)”  If we look at the original words we find the word “work” with slightly different meanings.  The word work in Job is ygiya it carries the idea of hard toiling/labor.  This fits in with the general tone of how Job is viewing himself and his relationship with God at that moment in his life. It is not pretty and Job is upset.

David uses the phrase in Psalm 138:8.  David uses a different word for work, his is maaseh and it still means work or labor but Vine’s Dictionary says it has to do with farming, artisans working, or the work of praising God.  It has a positive context as compared to ygiya. This fits very well with Psalm 138 and its overall upbeat message.

Even though the general tone of Psalm 138 is positive I can’t help but think it was written at a time when David needed to encourage himself. (ex. After Bathsheba, when he was on the run from Absalom, or when Ziklag was burned.)  It seems he is reminding himself and God of things that he has done and has happened. So the last line of verse eight with the word “abandon” in it puzzled me; it is the reason I think it was written during a time of duress.  It speaks to David’s plea not to be left alone at this time.

“The work of God’s hand.” Two men both referring to themselves as God’s handiwork, but I believe both from a different mindset.

Psalm 138 to 145 – David’s Journey

Psalm 138 to 145

This group of psalms (138 to 145) has recently got my attention.  They are in the Book Five of Psalms and are with the psalms known as the “Songs of Ascent.”  These were song that pilgrims sang as they went up to Jerusalem and the Temple.  Outside of Books One and Two this is the largest grouping of psalms attributed to David the writer.  The original subtitles are in my NIV and many Bibles like my Holman Study Bible add their own titles to give people a sense of contents of the psalm.

These psalms were probably grouped by whoever did the editing and grouping of the psalms into the form we know today.  I like to think where and when psalms were written and read them in those possible contexts.  Only Psalm 142 gives you a time frame and that is “in the cave” referring to David’s outlaw days (1 Samuel 22) when he was hiding from King Saul.  Two (139, 140) are “for the director of music” which may indicate that they were written after he went to Jerusalem, three (141, 143, 145) are identified as a “psalm of David”, and Psalms 138 and 144 are just “of David.”

The first verse or two in each of these Psalms give you a good idea of why they were written.  Most are truly songs of praise or thanksgiving but they seem to have been written at crucial or highlight points in David’ life.   I guess I have started to look at them as a journey through David’s life.  Psalm 138 could have been after Samuel anointed him and they go to Psalm 145 that has the sound of an older mature king who is looking back at his life and wanting his people to look ahead to the life and purpose in God.

Faint/Overwhelmed

Faint/Overwhelmed

You are not sure how much you can take? If one more thing goes wrong! Can I just stop and think for a moment, please? It has been bleak for so long when will things get better?

The Hebrew word that might describe your condition in all of these is ataph. In the KJV it is translated “overwhelmed” and in the NIV it is rendered “faint.” My Strong’s Concordance states that it means being shrouded or clothed and extends from the idea of darkness. The word ataph is not the only word for “faint” but it caught my eye in Psalm 142:3 and 143:4. Ataph is also used in Psalm 61:2, 77:3, and in 102:Title. I often test the definition back into the passage, so I tried: overwhelmed and shrouded in darkness. Both caught the idea of the verse and I liked overwhelmed better than faint in those verses.

In Psalm 142 and 143 David is having a bad time because in both of these “his spirit was faint” (NIV). Psalm 142 is identified as when David was “in the cave.” I associate that time with 1 Samuel 22 which is right before the saving of Keilah (see Hero to Horror). Several of the psalms in this section (138 to 145) I would place in that period of time before Keilah. Psalms 138 to 145 are all attributed to David. This section of Book Five of the Psalms has been referred to as the “Songs of Ascent.” These would have been sung as people went to the Temple.

David faced many ataph moments in his life but the most telling one on how he handled these overwhelming times is 1 Samuel 30:6b – “David found strength in the Lord his God.”