Psalm 126

Psalm 126 is a joyous song. You can almost hear the up-tempo beat and see everyone dancing, jumping, and skipping to this musical delight as they went to Jerusalem and the Temple for the pilgrimage festivals. It has a classic statement/response style and would have had everyone in the group singing along. (I will italicize the response parts below.)

If I could pick a writer or when it was written, it has to be Ezra the priest in the time of Cyrus of Persia. This comes at the end of the seventy years of exile predicted by Jeremiah. This book rightfully follows 2 Chronicles 36:22-23. Jeremiah was dead. Ezekiel probably was dead, but Daniel was an old man (Daniel 10:1) and I can imagine the joy he had in seeing the captives returning to Jerusalem. (Reference Daniel 9:1-3) I forget these three prophets lived and spoke during the time in Babylon and the fall of Jerusalem.

My NIV has, in its footnotes, that verses one and four could be different, so I will use the KJV and change those two verses.

1When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. (When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like men restored to health.)

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.

The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south. (Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.) NIV

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Zechariah – In Context

To read Zechariah, I think you need to put it in context with the Haggai and Ezra.  I know that Malachi has been put last in the Old Testament because of 4:5, that is about Elijah coming again, but it has no time stamps as to when it was written.  Haggai and Zechariah are time-stamped so it is very easy to believe that these were the last two prophets to write their visions and words from the Lord. (Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah were written after Haggai and Zechariah but they are “historical” books.)

Zechariah is written in two sections, which a course means someone has to say it has two different authors from two times!  The sections are chapters 1 – 8 and 9 – 14; 1 – 8 deal with the building of the Second Temple and 9 – 14 are independent “oracles” that could have come at any time during Zechariah’s time as a prophet.  This second section, to me, could be a recap of many of the Prophets before his time and the Father is restating and adding to words and ideas that have come before. I see Zechariah as a man “standing on the shoulders” of people who have come before him.

This seems to be the order of the timestamps that I was talking about:

  • 2y of Darius – Ezra 4:24 Starts his telling of the story about the building and the opposition to the Temple
  • 2y, 1d, 6m – Haggai 1:1; call to restart building the Temple

24d, 6m – Haggai 1:15; building starts again

  • 2y, 21d, 7m – Haggai 2:1; to encourage Zerubbabel
  • 2y, 8m – Zechariah 1:1; call to return to the Lord
  • 2y,24d, 9m – Haggai 2:10; was defiled now blessed

Haggai 2:18; blessings from this day on

Haggai 2: 20; encouraged Zerubbabel

  • 24d, 11m – Zechariah 1:7; various visions for the leaders and people
  • 4y, 4d, 9m – Zechariah 7:1; call to administer true justice and words of encouragement
  • 6y, 3d, 12m – Ezra 6:15 Temple completed
  • 7y, 14d, 1m – Ezra 6:19 Passover celebrated

Comparing Psalm 135 and 136

Even though I do not think these were written by the same person or even in the same time period it is interesting that Psalm 135 and 136 have similar elements. Please image David in 1 Chronicles 15:11 instructing his Praise Team to sing Psalm 135 as they carry the Ark to Jerusalem. Then image Ezra in Chapter 3:11 separating the congregation into halves and having one group singing the first part of each verse while the other group responds with “His love endures forever.

These Psalms are included in the section of the “songs of ascents” which were traditionally sung as people went up to the Temple in Jerusalem. Psalm 115 and 118 share the idea of verse 19 and 20 of Psalm 135; the house of Israel, Aaron, Levi and those who fear Him. Psalm 135:4 talks about Jacob and Israel giving each a different emphasis. They also have a historical component remembering God’s great deliverance from Egypt and the defeat of Og and Sihon which marked the beginning of the conquest of the Promised Land. The blue sections highlight His control over nature and thus being in charge of their daily lives.

See the studies on Psalm 14 and 53  and Psalm 60 and 108.

Thanks to they are a great resource.

2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles Joined

In my Bible study for 2012 (see Bible Study) I said I was going to join 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles.  Well here is part of that work.  The letters and numbers in italics are from Chronicles. In my document they are in blue and italics. I am not really finished, as I want to place the psalms that David wrote in this document (well where I think they go).  I used the New International Version, the reference is at the end of the page.  This entire document is about 70 pages long, I have also done Kings and Chronicles but in another translation.  In that one I included some work from the prophets.

The best explanation I have for the books being so similar is that they were both taken from another document, like the book of Jasher.  Some scholars credit these books as having been written by Ezra and Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe.

 2 Samuel 24 1 Chronicles 21

David Enrolls the Fighting Men David Counts the Fighting Men

1 Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, 1 Satan rose up and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”

2 2 So David the king said to Joab and the army commanders of the troops with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are.”

3  3 But Joab replied to the king, “May the LORD your God multiply the troops a hundred times over are they not all my lord’s subjects, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?” Why should he bring guilt on Israel?”

4 The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they (Joab) left  the presence of the king and went throughout Israel to enroll the fighting men of Israel and then came back to Jerusalem.

5 4After crossing the Jordan, they camped near Aroer, south of the town in the gorge, and then went through Gad and on to Jazer. 6 They went to Gilead and the region of Tahtim Hodshi, and on to Dan Jaan and around toward Sidon. 7 Then they went toward the fortress of Tyre and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went on to Beersheba in the Negev of Judah.

8 After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.

9 5Joab reported the number of the fighting men to David the king: In all Israel there were eight hundred thousand(one million one hundred thousand) able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand(including four hundred and seventy thousand).

 6 But Joab did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, because the king’s command was repulsive to him. 7 This command was also evil in the sight of God; so he punished Israel.

10 8David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”

11 9Before David got up the next morning, the word of the LORD had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer:12 10 “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’

13 11 So Gad went to David and said to him, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Take your choice: 12Shall there come on you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from (being swept away) before your enemies while they pursue you with their swords overtaking you? Or three days of plague (the sword of the LORD) in your land with the angel of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”

14 13David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us(me) fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”

15 14So the LORD sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand men of the people of Israel fell dead from Dan to Beersheba died.

16 15 And When the angel God sent stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, but as the angel was doing so, the LORD saw it and relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting (destroying) the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the LORD was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

17 16When David looked up and saw the angel of the LORD who was standing between heaven and earth, striking down the people with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell facedown, 17said to the LORD God, “Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? LORD my God, let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people.”

If you would like a copy you will have to ask because it is about a 70 pages word document, it will have to be emailed.

New International Version (NIV)  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica