Thursday, July 31, 2008
This is a praise song to the Lord written by Deborah. She begins by blessing God and then recounts the events of the battle recorded in chapter four. There are a few details in the song that weren't in the narrative, most significantly, Reuben, Gilead, Dan, and Asher refused to join in the battle and the town of Meroz refused to help and was cursed for the refusal. The poetic language gives a more vivid picture.
Try writing a song or a poem to God, praising him for a particular event in your life.
Lord, remind us today to praise you and sing for joy because of all you have done for us. Amen.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
I see Jesus in this psalm. David wrote it about some situation he was facing, and I read it and find it expresses my heart in circumstances I find myself embroiled in right now. The Bible itself makes clear that this psalm in some way foreshadows Jesus, because part of it (vv. 6- 8) is quoted in Hebrews 10. Jesus, too, must have experienced the whole range of emotions and thoughts expressed in this psalm. He waited in trust on God the Father; He experienced the highs and lows of being human. He had to discipline Himself to obey His Father’s will and even obeyed to the point of death. He experienced the animosity of others, of powerful people who wanted to take His life. Jesus is the ultimate declaration of God’s righteousness, faithfulness, salvation, love, mercy, and truth. He is our help and deliverer.
This psalm is exactly the psalm I needed this week. We have seen answered prayer. A son who had been knee deep in mud and mire found the solid ground of Jesus. God lifted him out of that pit and set him on solid ground. I have tears in my eyes as I read this passage and see a note I wrote several years ago in the margin: “I’m crying, Lord. Please give our children a firm place to stand. Help them.” He heard my cry and I was given a fresh song of praise to God earlier this week!
Later in the week, after our son’s decision to turn back to trust the Lord, troubles came. I can’t go into details, but we have experienced the whole range of this psalm, from the elation of realizing that God has heard our prayers and worked, to the heartfelt cry that begins with verse 11, “Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD;/ may your love and your truth always protect me./ ... troubles without number surround me./… I am poor and needy;/ May the Lord think of me./ You are my help and my deliverer; /O my God, do not delay. ” (NIV)
The truth is that if we are standing anywhere but on the rock of trusting God, we are in the muddy mud, the slimy pit of false security. Our only hope is in the love and truth and mercy of our LORD.
The words of this hymn came to mind today:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand.
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
We are offered all kinds of “sweet frames” to lean on these days: our government’s system, the law of our country, material possessions, money, position, comfortable lives, family, friends, savings, wise financial planning, our own abilities… not one of those things is evil. But they are not what we should trust in. God alone is the Creator and Sustainer of all that is. He has reached down and given us Himself to stand on! Amazing love!
“Many, O LORD my God,/ are the wonders you have done./ The things you planned for us/no one can recount to you;/ were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” (v. 5, NIV)
Where are you standing? Who or what are you trusting in for your security?
Help us to stand on the firm ground of trust in You, LORD. Help us to seek You. We truly are poor and needy and we need You. Thank you that we know our Deliverer. We know, so much more clearly than David, how You provided Yourself for us. Help us to speak of Your faithfulness and salvation. Make us a people that rejoice and are glad in You, even in the midst of trouble, because we trust in You.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Two "women" issue invitations to their homes in this chapter.
Both call out. Each calls those who are simple or naïve to come to dine with her. Wisdom calls openly and sends her maidens out with invitations, too, asking those who hear her to forsake foolishness and come eat with her. Folly (foolishness) sits by the door of her house, calls to those who pass by, and promises a secret meal and forbidden pleasure.
The passage makes plain that the result of dining with wisdom is understanding and life, innumerable blessings. The result of sharing folly’s secret and stolen food is death.
I’ve spent some time reflecting on the middle verses of this chapter, verses 7 – 9. The verses seem to be a kind of parenthesis, contrasting the wise person with a person who has followed foolishness so long that he has moved past lacking judgment to consciously choosing evil.
Look at the way the verses are structured, with three lines characterizing how a scoffer or wicked person responds to correction and three lines characterizing the wise person’s response to correction. The wicked person ( the one who continues to follow foolishness) turns on the one who rebukes him or tries to correct him – in fact, he hates him. The scoffer is defensive and easily offended. Contrast his reaction with that of the wise person, the person of understanding. The wise person loves the one who corrects him; he knows that he doesn’t know everything so he learns and adds to his wisdom. He is responsive and humble.
The wise person understands that all of us are moving in a direction, progressing toward wisdom or toward foolishness, and that our choices determine which way we move. The simple person who continues making foolish choices eventually becomes a scoffer and wicked, hardened to understanding and insight. The one who begins making wise choices, learns, and consequently is ennabled to choose more wisely the next time.
In case we have any doubt where to begin in getting wisdom, verses 10 – 12 spell it out for us. Wisdom and understanding begin with recognizing that God is God – with fearing Him and getting to know Him.
I will ask you what I’ve asked myself. How do you react to correction or rebuke? Are you defensive and easily offended? Take some time to think about that. Turn to the Lord and ask Him to give you a teachable heart. After all, doing that is the beginning of wisdom! Then be aware of how you receive instruction and correction.
Help us to fear you, LORD; to turn to You as the source of wisdom and understanding. Give us hearts that are humble and want to learn. Help us not to be easily offended, but teachable.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
READ: Joshua 24
Maybe you enjoy history and would take the time to read books such as Paul Johnson's A History of the American People -- all 1088 pages of it! I love history, but I haven't tackled that book yet (although it is on my "to read someday" list). At this point in my life, I am much more likely to read a book with a title like "A Short History of America." Joshua, speaking to the people of Israel, condenses all we have read since Genesis 11 to a mere eleven verses. It's their own history. Just the highlights, but it is who they are. But is it about the Israelites? Not really. It's all about what God has done for this people since the day he spoke to Abraham and called him away from other gods to follow him.
Then Joshua issued a challenge to the people of Israel. "Now you put away those other gods, just like your father Abraham did, and serve the LORD, and only the LORD. You can't serve both, so choose one or the other today" (Katrina's paraphrase of verses 14-15).
The people made their decision. Their choice was the LORD. Joshua warned them of what would happen if they didn't follow through. They assured him of their commitment, and the covenant was made. Joshua put up a stone reminder for them.
The chapter concludes with the death of Joshua and his burial on his own land, the burial of Joseph's bones at Shechem (see Genesis 50:24-26 and Exodus 13:19), and the death of Eleazar the priest and his burial at Gibeah (his son's land).
Here are some ideas of ways to respond to this chapter. I plan to do one or two of them today. Won't you join me?
- Take some time today to write down the highlights of your journey with the Lord. (Carol has suggested something like this before, but if you haven't done it yet, I highly recommend it!)
- Count the cost of a commitment to God. Make a list of what must be put aside or done away with in your own life, if you are going to choose to serve the Lord only.
- Make (or renew) a commitment to serve the Lord. Put it in writing and keep it in a place where you will see it often.
- Make a physical symbol of your commitment to God, a "witness stone."
- Write a summary of the life of Joshua, highlighting his faith and obedience.
Lord, you are a holy and jealous God. I fail often, but I want to truly commit to serving you alone. Help me to count the cost of such a commitment and to follow through with it. Thank you for the death of Jesus on the cross which allows me to be yours, and for the Holy Spirit who is my helper in serving you. Amen.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Life can get pretty complicated at times. Sometimes there are no easy answers. If you’ve ever struggled with anger or your tongue or sin or simply struggled to get perspective, Psalm 39 should give you some comfort. At least you’ll see David’s honest struggle and realize you’re not alone.
The heading of this psalm says it’s for Jeduthun, the chief musician or choir master. Jeduthun is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 9:16; 16:38-42 as a Levite and as one appointed by David to play a musical instrument to accompany songs of praise to God. Perhaps David wrote the words and gave them to the musician to set to music.
This psalm follows naturally from the preceding one, and many commentators have linked the two chronologically. Perhaps they spring from the same incident in David’s life. We don’t know, and I’m glad David isn’t clear about exactly what occasioned this psalm, because it applies so well to quite a few struggles. He struggles here with himself and with God.
It’s hard to be corrected by God. It hurts our pride. It’s embarrassing. We don’t want to look bad. I think that’s what happened to David here.
David didn’t want to sin more, so he resolved to hold his tongue and not sin verbally. But being silent didn’t cure what was wrong inside. He was still churning inside – so finally he did speak – to God!
He asked for perspective.
The truth is that our time here on earth, even if we live ninety years, is short. David used metaphors of vapor or breath, moving shadows, a hand’s width, and a moment to picture his life span. People rush around trying to accomplish something, to make names for themselves, to accumulate wealth. They may even do it. But then they die and leave it all – the name, the things, the money.
The turning point of this psalm is verse 7. David says, “And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?/ My only hope is in you.”
When I was growing up my mom hung a little plaque on some wall of each home we lived in. Sometimes it was in the bathroom where we were forced to look at it regularly, a kind of captive audience! So its words are etched in my mind, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
I think that’s what David’s saying here. What we put our hope in is what we live for.
We know David did sin. A couple of instances, his blatant sin with Bathsheba and his subsequent murder of Uriah are recorded for us in II Samuel 11. But David probably forgot who his hope was in more than that one time. That would be easy to do as king. It would be easy to think that you were in control. And it’s easy for us to do. God stopped David and punished him. We don’t know how David sinned on this specific occasion, but God made it clear to David that he wasn’t as powerful or in control as he thought he was.
We read in this psalm of David’s surrender. He asks God to hear him. He states that he realizes that he is God’s guest here on earth, a traveler – not a permanent resident – and certainly not in charge.
Remembering all that puts things in perspective. It did for David and it does for us, too.
What is your hope in? Who and what are you living for? What is most important to you? When we sin we are shouting to God that our hope is in ourselves and what we want. God in His mercy, punishes us, His children, and so reminds us that we are frail and not as strong as we think we are. God becomes our beloved enemy to turn us from ourselves to Him.
It is so easy to lose perspective and major on what is truly unimportant and temporary, rather than to keep our eyes on the Lord and realize that He’s in charge, that He alone knows the big picture.
Make this psalm a kind of yield sign. Take the time to look, to evaluate your life by this psalm, and to yield to God if you’ve taken control in some way. Don't wait for His hand of discipline.
LORD, give me perspective. Please make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am. Keep my gaze on You and help my hope to be in You and not in what is temporary.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
In these two chapters Ephraim and Manasseh, the two sons of Joseph, receive their allotments of land. The leaders didn't think their allotments were enough, so they asked Joshua for more land. Joshua told them they could clear some of the forest and thereby gain more land for themselves. But they didn't think they could overcome the people who lived there. As you can see in the map below, Manasseh's portion is very large compared to that of most of the other tribes. And Ephraim's portion is rather large as well. By this time, Manasseh has fulfilled the prediction of Jacob that the younger brother would be greater than the older. (Gen. 48:19)
Neither Ephraim nor Manasseh drove out the Canaanites like they were supposed to. Sound familiar?
But they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites liveThey didn't seem to believe that God would drive the Canaanites out. They were relying on their own strength and strategy and found themselves overpowered and outwitted by their enemies without even trying.
in the midst of Ephraim to this day, and they became forced laborers. (Joshua 16:10)
But the sons of Manasseh could not take possession of these cities, because the Canaanites persisted in living in that land. And it came about when the sons of Israel became strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely. (Joshua 17:12-13)
They also were not content with the portion God had decreed for them. They complained it wasn't enough land and asked for more. But they weren't willing to work for it; they just wanted Joshua to hand it over to them.
Let's take some time today to thank God for the many blessings we have received from Him. We often come to Him with our requests, and He wants us to do that. But are we also taking the time to thank Him for what he has already provided for us?
Are there any "enemies" in your life that you are harboring? Is there sin that you like to keep around rather than going to all the effort it takes to get rid of it? It can be hard work to weed out those sinful habits, and we often give up before we even try.
Father, thank you for the inheritance you have given us as your children. You have adopted us through Jesus. You give us your grace and mercy every day. You give us wisdom. You give us every spiritual blessing. You chose us before the foundation of the world to make us holy and blameless. Drive out the sins that we get caught up in so easily so we can live holy lives, pleasing to you. Help us to do the work it takes to fight the enemies that keep us from obeying you completely. Because of Jesus, Amen.
Monday, July 14, 2008
David had sinned and his conviction of it caused him physical, emotional, and mental suffering . A personal lament, this psalm is also grouped with six others ( Psalms 6, 32, 51, 102, 130, and 143) as a Penitential Psalm, a psalm that expresses sorrow for sin.
Is this psalm difficult for you to read? It was for me. I think it’s because I've absorbed some of the pervasive mindset that doesn’t treat sin as something truly offensive against God and that uses euphemisms for sin such as “mistake” or “bad decision” or “dysfunction”. We trivialize sin as something we do to each other or as something that hurts us, but often overlook the most important dimension, the verticle one. Sin is an offense against God, first and foremost. If we are His, He will convict us. Sometimes conviction of sin causes depression and even physical symptoms – showing that sin does hurt us. But those symptoms are God’s arrows, designed to prick us to make things right with Him.
“God's law applied by the Spirit to the conviction of the soul of sin, wounds deeply and rankles long; it is an arrow not lightly to be brushed out by careless mirthfulness, or to be extracted by the flattering hand of self righteousness. The Lord knows how to shoot so that his bolts not only strike but stick. He can make convictions sink into the innermost spirit like arrows driven in up to the head. It seems strange that the Lord should shoot at his own beloved ones, but in truth he shoots at their sins rather than them….”
So David is weighed down by his sin, and recounts just how that feels in the first ten verses of the psalm. He knows that God understands his heart and hears his sighs (9). He feels alone, deserted even by his closest friends (11). His enemies want him to fall further and they meditate on ways to trip him up (12); they’re goading him to sin more. Perhaps David wants to defend himself to them, or justify himself, or give his side of the story. Whatever it is they’re doing, look at David’s response. “But I, like a deaf man, do not hear;/ And I am like a mute man who does not open his mouth./ Yes, I am like a man who does not hear,/ And in whose mouth are no arguments./ For I hope in You, O LORD; /You will answer, O Lord my God.” (13-15) Rather than responding to his enemies, he turns to God. He doesn’t seek to “look good” or to justify himself. He confesses his sin to the One who matters (18). I think we often care more what other people think about us than what God thinks about us. Sometimes in trying to defend ourselves, or give our side of the picture, we end up sinning even more.
Perhaps you can take the time to reread this psalm and as you do, note the times David turns to God and speaks to Him. What does he say to God each time? Look at David’s progression of faith here.
Please understand that I don’t think the psalm is saying that ALL sickness or depression or mental or emotional stress is because of sin. But the psalm makes it clear that conviction of sin does cause us distress in all those realms. I don’t think we’ll have to look very far to see if our anguish of soul and body is the result of sin.
If you are heartsick and even feeling physically ill because of sin that you haven’t dealt with, turn to God and confess your sin to Him – put your hope in Him. He is merciful and forgiving. I am convinced that much of our soul anguish is caused because we don’t want to call sin sin. We gloss over it, excuse it, rationalize it, call it something else – when what we need to do is really quite simple – turn to our Lord and confess it and realize that He gave Himself for us because we are unable to save ourselves.
If you are feeling alone, turn to God – He hears your sighs and your desires are laid out before Him.
If you have been foolish and sinned in spite of wanting to grow in the Lord, and you are tempted to explain and justify and “be understood” by those about you who might judge you or use your sin against you – be very careful! Turn to God and find your help in Him.
Face the bad news so that you can hear the good news.
Look at that last verse. What is God called there? What a foreshadowing of Jesus! David calls God “my Salvation”! He is our remedy for sin.
LORD, help us to be honest before you. Give us tender hearts. Help us to see our sin as an offense against You, not simply something that harms us or other people. You have given Your law as a plumb line to help us to see our sin for what it is, and You have given Yourself to save us from ourselves. We put our hope in You. You are our salvation!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Just another encouragement to "walk on"!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Victory. Defeat. Victory. What's next? Another defeat. Clearly, Joshua is still learning! Joshua followed his own judgment and was deceived by the Gibeonites. If Joshua had asked for the counsel of the Lord, he would have found out that these men were really from a neighboring city, not from a distant land as they claimed. But he didn't bother. The decision was one he thought he could make on his own. Thus, the leaders of Israel find themselves in a predicament.
There are a couple of positive things in this chapter, though. Once the men of Israel gave their word to the men of Gibeon, they did not go back on it. They might have thought they would be justified in doing so since the agreement was based on a lie. But they had sworn by the name of the Lord, and to break their word would defile His name. So, even though their own countrymen grumbled about it, they honored their promise. As it is said, "two wrongs don't make a right."
But the Israelites had to live with the consequences of their misjudgment and abide by the people of these four cities living in their land. They became servants to Israel -- hewers of wood and drawers of water -- for many generations. This may be a way God turned Joshua's bad decision into a blessing. These pagan people went back and forth to the place of worship every day and must have observed some of the worship of the true God. They also did necessary work, freeing up the Israelites to do other things, like focus on their military campaigns. When we mess things up, God often turns things around and makes them into blessings. He doesn't necessarily remove the consequences of our actions, but if we admit our error and repent, He often shows mercy to us.
It is a difficult thing for Americans, especially, to consult God before making decisions. We are taught all of our lives to rely on ourselves and on our own judgment. This is one of the things I struggle with the most as a Christian. I often need to be reminded of these verses in Proverbs 3.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. (Prov. 3:5-7)If I acknowledge God in everything I do and not think myself too wise, I can keep out of a lot of trouble. :)
Lord, you promise to give us wisdom if we ask with believing hearts. Remind me to consult You when making decisions and not to think I can do it all on my own. Give me your wisdom, and let me trust in you rather than in myself. As I follow you and what you tell me in your word, you will guide me in your ways. Amen.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Psalm 37 is an acrostic poem with each verse beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, though apparently out of order. This may have been a poetic device and/or it could have been a mnemonic device, to aid in memorizing.
REFLECTION AND APPLICATION
Our family has been away for the July 4th weekend, so my entry will be brief for once!
This psalm touches on the age-old question: Why do the godly so often suffer and the ungodly so often succeed? And as in the case of Job, the question isn’t really answered. I wonder if the “why” question about suffering isn’t one of those “secret things that belong to God” mentioned in Deuteronomy 29:29.
What are we told in this psalm?
Three times we’re told, “Do not fret!” When we fret, we are envious or jealous or anxious about something and fume and let it eat away at us. The wind and the rain fret a limestone cliff and wear it away little bit by little bit. A river wears a new channel by fretting its banks – wearing away at them until they corrode. In this chapter we’re told not to fret with envy at the success of those around us who aren’t living for God. But I think we can extend that admonition to include anything that troubles us. Fretting, or discontent, doesn’t help anything and it has at least two possible negative results that I can think of. It eats away at us and makes us bitter. Or it eats away at us and causes us to begin imitating those who are living life without God. Lest we head too far in that direction, David points out how temporary are the benefits of the ugodly. He also contrasts the godly and the wicked.
Let’s focus on what we are to do…
Trust in the Lord.
Delight in the Lord.
Commit our way to the Lord.
Trust Him (again!).
Rest in the Lord.
Wait patiently for Him.
Depart from guilt and do good (again!).
Wait on the Lord (again!).
Keep His way.
I like how Spurgeon puts it in his Treasury of David, “There is a joy in holy activity which drives away the rust of discontent. So shalt thou dwell in the land. In "the land" which floweth with milk and honey; the Canaan of the covenant. Thou shalt not wander in the wilderness of murmuring, but abide in the promised land of content and rest. ‘We which have believed do enter into rest.’ Very much of our outward depends upon the inward: where there is heaven in the heart there will be heaven in the house.”
While we trust and rest and wait and commit our way to God, we aren't supposed to sit around twiddling our thumbs. We are to do good, to show mercy, and give of ourselves!
I hope you’ll take some time to note what God promises the godly (those who follow Him).
What is your favorite verse from this psalm? What lesson did you come away with?
Our LORD God, It is so easy to look around us at others and get tired and wonder why and doubt. Sometimes life just doesn’t seem fair. Help us to pay attention to the words of wisdom in this psalm. Help us to realize that You are our help and that we don’t live only for what this life can give. Help us to be farsighted rather than shortsighted. Keep our gaze on You. Help us to trust You and actively do good where we are.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Happy 4th of July!!
The last couple of chapters (Proverbs 6 and 7) have focused on the adulterous woman, which, while a warning on a literal level, is also a metaphor for that which leads us away from God, which tries to substitute for Him. The adulterous woman promises much, but gives little, and going with her leads to death. In this chapter(8) we finally focus on the woman Wisdom – the adulterous and foolish woman’s opposite. If you have the time, it might be helpful for you to go back and read Chapter 7 before reading Proverbs 8. And if you want to review some of the previous posts on Proverbs, there are links in the sidebar by book of the Bible; just scroll down and click on Proverbs. We are reading these chapters in Proverbs infrequently enough that I usually need to go back and review before thinking about the new chapter.
We’ve seen previously that the LORD gives wisdom and that He stores up wisdom for the upright (1: 6-7). But we’ve been shown over and over again in these first seven chapters of Proverbs how easily tempted and foolish we can be. The young man in Chapter 7, simple and naïve and foolish, looking for love in all the wrong places, is captivated by the empty promises of the adulteress, the woman who wants to take the place of wisdom. This adulterous woman leads him to death, not life. If you want to spend more time on this, compare and contrast the adulterous woman of Proverbs 5-7 with the woman Wisdom of Proverbs 8 -9.
So let’s look at Proverbs 8! Let’s focus on wisdom.
The claim of wisdom and her authority are established in this chapter. She cries out publicly to all to listen and gain understanding. She asserts her integrity and trustworthiness, and promises that she gives excellent and good gifts. She counsels on the ways of God. She claims that she was with God in the beginning, before creation, and like a master craftsman assisted Him in creation. Finally, she equates herself with life: “For whoever finds me finds life, / And obtains favor from the LORD;/ But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;/ All those who hate me love death.” (vv. 35-36, NKJV)
It is continually amazing to me (though it probably shouldn’t be) how closely the various parts of God’s word tie together. The theme of these chapters in Proverbs closely relate to the theme of Psalm 36, the chapter we read on Monday: the contrast between the empty promises of what draws us from God and the absolute integrity of God’s promises. They also relate to some of the closing chapters of Deuteronomy.
Just look at Wisdom!
Wisdom teaches prudence (I will get back to that word later) and gives an understanding heart (5). She speaks of what is excellent and right and good and truthful (6, 7). Is it possible for there to be excellence without moral rightness, goodness, and truth?
She speaks straightforwardly (8-9) and what she says is plain to the one who understands, and right to those who find knowledge. Now that’s a a bit of a paradox there. Could this mean what it means in Ps. 36, that “in Your light we see light”? She says that she is better than riches, better than all the choice things we could desire. (11) She equates herself with “the fear of the Lord.” (13) She is understanding and is strong. (15)
What does wisdom hate? Evil, pride, arrogance, a perverse mouth. That Hebrew word translated "evil" can mean evil in the sense of viciousness, or something that is bad in value, or something that is unethical or immoral. A perverse mouth is a mouth that is turned away from what is good and right, is marked by a dispostion to oppose or contradict, or is self-willed.
Wisdom loves those who love her and is found by those who seek for her with diligence. ((17) (Those who keep on keeping on!) She says that with her are enduring riches, honor, and righteousness – better than gold or silver. I don’t think the wealth she speaks of has anything to do with earthly wealth, but rather with wealth of the soul and heart – a wealth that never is destroyed. (14 – 21)
Wisdom belongs to God and has belonged to Him since before the beginning of this world (22), from everlasting (23). I love the poetry of verses 22- 31. God used wisdom in His creation of the world and delighted in her. Wisdom says that she, in turn, rejoiced before God, rejoiced in His inhabited world and was delighted with mankind.
Her authority over us and delight in us made clear, Wisdom once again asks us to pay attention to her. We are blessed if we keep her ways and listen to her. If we find her, we find life; we find God’s favor. When we sin against her… How do we sin against her? … Maybe by seeking what she offers elsewhere? What do you think? When we sin against her we wrong our own souls.(36) Those who hate her love death. Those are very strong statements and sobering.
Earlier I said I’d talk about that word “prudence” later. Ever since we first read it at the beginning of Proverbs, I’ve been pondering it, because it’s literal meaning is “crafty,” which doesn’t have a very good connotation to us. The serpent in Genesis was prudent. (Our versions say “crafty” or “cunning,” but apparently it’s the same Hebrew word as “prudent.”) I ran across this by Peter Leithart recently:
“Wisdom makes her dwelling with “prudence” or “cunning” (v. 12). This is the Hebrew words (sic) used for the serpent in Genesis 3:1, and both there are (sic) here the word refers to an ability to achieve one’s goals. Those who are shrewd know the ways of the world and can work the system to get what they desire (14:8, 15). The shrewd shrug off insults (12:16), and have the foresight to know where their actions are going to lead (14:15). They are especially adept at seeing when disaster lies ahead and taking steps to sidestep it (22:3; 27:12). Scripture sometimes describes wicked people as shrewd (cf. 2 Samuel 13:3), but the word does not necessarily have a negative connotation. In fact, as Proverbs 8:12 makes clear, Wisdom and cunning are roommates. Shrewdness can be good or bad, depending on what goals one is pursuing.”
(found at http://www.leithart.com/archives/001437.php )
Hope that helps anyone who, like me, might have had a little difficulty with that word!
Do you want to dwell with wisdom, do you want to be wise?
We are asked to do some things if we want to be wise. Read verses 17; 32-34 and explain each action in terms of your own life. What would being diligent mean? What would it mean for you to "watch daily at my gates"?
We are bombarded today with “self” this and “self” that. So much of what is described as spirituality is thinly disguised self-worship – substitution of self in God’s place.
I want to choose life! (Hey… where did I read that recently?) I want to listen to and follow Wisdom.
What voice are you listening to? Who are you following? Are you pursuing Wisdom? I hope you’ll take the time today to meditate on this chapter as you ask yourself those questions.
Lord, help us to fear You – to reverence You so much that You are our focus. Help us to love Wisdom and be faithful to her, rather than looking for love and fulfillment in that which leads to death. Thank you for the benefits we receive from loving Wisdom!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
In Deuteronomy 2:25 God said, "This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the peoples everywhere under the heavens, who, when they hear the report of you, shall tremble and be in anguish because of you." This promise was being fulfilled in the city of Jericho at the time of this chapter.
The destruction of Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan that Rahab refers to is recorded in Numbers 21. (Sihon's story is Num. 21:21-26, and Og's is in Num. 21:33-35.) A more detailed account of Sihon's destruction is found in Deut. 2:26-37, and a more detailed account of Og's is in Deut. 3:1-11. Og was a giant but was defeated by Israel, and both cities were utterly destroyed. (Take a minute to re-read these passages; it brings context and life to Joshua 2.) These are the events that struck fear in the hearts of the Canaanites!
Joshua sent the spies out secretly (vs. 2). Obviously he didn't want the people of Jericho to know they were there, but he also didn't tell the Israelites he was sending spies. Why do you suppose he kept it a secret?
Rahab (after her rescue in 6:25) became a part of Israel. She married a Jewish man named Salmon and became the mother of Boaz. (We will read about Boaz in the book of Ruth.) Matthew 1:5 tells us that she is part of the genealogical line of Jesus, so she played an important role in the Scarlet Thread of Redemption!
The red cord could also be viewed as a symbol of the Scarlet Thread of Redemption. By placing it in the window, Rahab was acknowledging the One True God and placing her faith in Him as well as in His people. That red cord was used to provide salvation from the coming destruction.
My favorite verses in this chapter are 9-11:
Rahab was a prostitute who lied to protect the spies. We often focus on her sin. God saw her faith. She understood (1) Israel's God is the only true God, (2) He is a very powerful God, and (3) this nation of His was going to take her city. She acted on her new faith in this "new" God and protected the spies. She also asked for protection from them in return when Israel actually did come to destroy the city. They promised her that protection as long as she left the scarlet cord in the window and gathered all who were to be rescued into her house.
and said to the men, "I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath."
Rahab made it into the "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews chapter 11. "By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace." (vs. 31)
She was also commended for her actions based on her faith (James 2:25). If she had not acted on her faith, she would not have been saved from the destruction of the city.
As believers, our lives are very much like Rahab's. We were content to live in our sin until one day when we discovered the truth about the One True God. He was the only one to be feared, and at the same time He was also the only one to offer salvation. Once we accepted His salvation from our sin, we were rescued. But at the same time we continue to be surrounded by a sinful culture that is at war with God. We have to live by faith, not seeing the God who rescues us, but trusting that He will make it all work out right in the end. What we can always see around us is the way of life we are leaving behind. Let's not look back at the world and the pleasures it offers but press on, moving forward toward God, letting Him transform our minds and hearts.
Lord, you are the great Redeemer who saves us from a life of sin. Help us to fully trust in You and to act on our faith in You. Help us to continue to turn from the sin of the world that surrounds us and to seek You wholeheartedly. In the name of Jesus, Amen.