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Crucified Before the Foundation of the World

"Crucified before the foundation of the world." What does that mean? How could that even happen? Historians and archaeologists ta...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Psalms 111-115

Psalms 111

This is a Psalm of praise. It is not attribitued to David. It is an acrostic poem with each line beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. There are only 10 verses so it does not have enough text too include all the letters or it uses some other division format.

The text translates Praise the Lord as Hallelu Yah. The verses list characteristics of the world that God is to be praised for. The nation's territory, the works of his hands, the success of the nation. But it also reveals the failures and the cost of their disobedience.

The Psalmist praises the wisdom of the Lord and his gracious treatment of Israel. He recounts the ways God has been generous to His people. The Psallm has only 10 verses, but he manages to touch on elements of history and the success Israel enjoyed in the past. This Psalm is both poetic and inspiring. Many of the phrases are memoraable and uplisting for the reader. This Psalm is only 10 verses long, but it contains one often quoted verse:The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A good understanding have all they that do his commandments; his praise endureth forever.

Psalms 112

This Psalm gives instructions on how to be blessed. He begins with Praise and translates "Hallelu Yah" as Praise the Lord. Psalms 112 is another acrostic. It loses some of the art and excellence when it is translated without his literary devise.

The psalmist lists the benefits of obedience to the Lord: The land, Redemption,  fellowship with Himself, deliverance, and eternity.  This is not the longest psalm, but it covers many of the elements we value. We can read it and rejoice in its truth.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Today is the day before Thanksgiving. I'm trying to focus on what I'm thankful for. I'm still thankful for all the things I was ever thankful for: All my children and grandchildren, my health, Frank, survival in all the painful and challenging places, God's Grace in trying times. There is no end to my Thanksgiving for the people in my life, for friends, and people who help me or serve me. When I read the list, my heart swells with joy and gratitude.

Today, I must include my move to the RGV. There are things I didn't like about it for a while, but that is resolved now, and today I'm thankful for that choice and decision. Today I can rejoice that I live in the Valley.  

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Psalms 106-110

Psalms 106
Psalms 106 goes into detail to make sure Israel knows what they did to anger God.  There is no attribution of authorship, 
It opens with a call to praise and the refrain found in other places: Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his mercy endures forever.
In vs. 2 the author issues a challenge to Israel and to us: Who can tell of his mighty acts? Who can reveal his praise?
In vs. 3 he hastens to remind us who the blessed ones are: Those who observe justice and behave with righteousness all the time.
In vs. 4 he pleads for God's blessing to come to him in the form of Salvation. He wants to be counted among the chosen and rejoice in the gladness of God's nation and glory with His inheritance. 

In vs. 6. he launches into a recital of the sins of Israel beginning with the Fathers. He says they didn't understand the mercies of God. He includes the current members of Israel and prays for all of them to be blessed by God.  

Even after he saved and blessed them they forgot again his mercies and goodness. They demanded better food and tested God's patience. They were envious of Moses and Aaron. He heard their demands and answered their demands but sent leanness to their souls.

The earth opened and swallowed Dathan, Abiram and his friends; fire fell from Heaven to consume the wicked ones. They preferred to worship an ox they had made to God himself. God declared He would destroy them, but Moses interceded for them and begged him to turn from his wrath. They refused to enter the Promised Land, for they doubted that He would deliver them from their enemies. They pouted and whined and he swore that he would kill them in the wilderness.  They despised the pleasant land and doubted his promise.

They provoked God to anger. They defiled the land with their works sacrificing their children to pagan idols.  God gave them into the hands of their enemies, but when they called to him out their affliction, he heard them and delivered them.  Blessed be the Lord God of Israel. Amen. Praise the Lord.

Psalms 107

This Psalm has no attribution of authorship, but it is a Psalm of praise giving thanks for God's mercy which endures forever. It calls on the "redeemed of the Lord" to testify of his deliverance. The author goes on define the testing the people suffered and how God dealt with them. He released them from oppression and darkness.

"Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men" is a refrain we might do well to repeat. Read the Psalm with reflection on the mistakes common to man and learn repentance and renewal in God's blessings.

The author continues with the roller-coster like experiences of Israel and of modern Man in this world. 

He speaks prophetically of man's accomplishments and defeats, and God's repeated efforts to restore and renew.  He finally closes with admonitions to see God's righteousness and be wise to obey and understand his loving kindness.

 Psalms 108

In Psalm 108 David is again the author and "sweet singer of Israel."
David declares his intent to praise God among the people and the nations.

He calls for instruments to accompany his song praising God and exalting Him.

He praises the expansive nature of God's mercy and his truth reaching to the heavens and His glory above all the earth.
In vs. 7 he quotes God and names the places that belong to God, Schechem, Succoth, Gilead, Manasseh, Ephraim, Judah, and Moab, as well as Edom and Philistia.

He ends the Psalm with praise and thanks for His help.

Psalms 109

Psalms 109 is a Prayer of David for vengence against the wicked and deceitful against him. Characteristic of David, he does not attack, but seeks God to. take up his cause. He does call for more disaster on his enemies than they visited on him. He pleads for evil to fall on them from extorotioners, and that there would be no mercy on them. He calls on God to make their children warnderers and their wives widows. 
He claims that cursing and persecution were the clothing of his enemies and he sought God to return it to the enemies that they may suffer as they had caused others to suffer.
He sought God to reward his enemies with the evils they had laid on him.
But he pled for God to bless him and deliver him because he was week from fasting. He ends the Psalm with praise for God.

Psalms 110

Psalms 110 speaks of the Lord as the King-Priest who has power to raise some to places of authority and give power to whom he chooses.
The reference to Melchizedek, who some say is an incarnation of Jesus, is both interesing and confounding. 

Melchizedek is refered to as Christ is other references, but it is not a widely promoted idea.  

Friday, July 7, 2017

Psalms 101-104

Psalms 105

Psalms 105
This Psalms focuses on praise for God. The first four verses give various ways to life his name and rejoice in his glory. These first verses are present tense, look at what God has blessed us with today. 

In vs. 5 the author reflects on where God has brought us from and the people he has used: Abraham, Jacob and their descendants; he recalls the miracles, the pronouncements, the judgments.

In vs. 8, he reminds us that God's promises are forever. The Children of Israel wandered until God sent them into the land he promised them. They were wanderers without a home.
God called down destruction on the land and demanded the Israelites be honored and their prophets be respected.

About vs. 18 he begins to recount the story of Joseph and the calling of the Israelites out of Egypt.

God made the Children of Israel too fruitful to remain under the domination of Egypt and he enabled them to leave and go to the place he had prepared for them.

Vs. 11 promises them the Land of Canaan as their inheritance forever. 

The author describes the actions of Moses and Aaron in winning the release of Israel from Egypt. He describes the plagues and devastation God brought on the land to give freedom to His chosen people. Some of the history becomes confused and fails to follow the chronology, but he never loses the presence of God in the direction and course the Israelites take. 

The final verdict and effect was: the people God chose were given the land of Israel to celebrate God's victory, to keep his precepts and observe his laws. Hallalujah!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Psalms 101-105

Psalms 101

This Psalm was written by David. I have not found any indication of his age when he wrote this. It could have been in his innocent youth, or it could have been after the confession of his tryst with Bathsheba. In either case, it proclaims David's intention to live a sin free life. From my own experience, I would guess this was written before he committed adultery and arranged the death of Uriah.

He begins with praise and then goes on to detail the matters of selfishness and arrogant behavior he will not tolerate.  He includes the behaviors he will not allow in his household. He focuses briefly on the things his eyes behold. What we see, we sometimes imitate. Beware what you watch, for it may inhabit you.

He denounced faithlessness and perverse people and their actions. He put the slanderers and the haughty in the same classification. These judgments make me think he had not yet experienced the general sins of the population, for these things are everywhere and evident in all people.

I applaud his intention not to associate with the unwholesome and to separate himself from those who commit evil, but he seems to think he can tell at a glance who is worthy to be respected. Maybe in later years he moderated his opinion and became more forgiving.

Return to his opening lines. He valued God's love and justice. His intent was to let that be his guide for life. May we follow in that goal. 

Psalms 102

The author of this Psalm is not identified beyond the description of him as afflicted and in distress. The Psalm begins with a litany of his anguish and vivid descriptions of his anxiety from vs. 1 through 11. In vs. 12 he changes his focus to note the attributes of God.

He begins with pleas to be heard. He beseeches God to see his problems and hear his cries.  He feels his time escaping. He describes the pain he feels in his soul as a bodily sensation. He can't enjoy his food and it tastes like ashes. He is losing weight and describes himself as "skin and bones." He compares himself to a desert owl. In ancient literature, the owl is bad omen forecasting evil times and consequences.

He groans aloud in distress. He seems to indicate this is somehow shameful. He has enemies who use his name like a curse. His distress is so compelling that he has lost all his companions, he likens himself to a bird on a roof. He is alone. He has no friends or support. God, too, has abandoned him. His drink is mingled with tears. He has no recourse. God's wrath is directed toward him, and God has thrown him aside. He sees the darkness closing in and he senses he has no hope.

In vs. 12 he returns to the praise of God and His glory. He is still conscious of his own weakness, but God will endure and restore Zion. I assume this Psalm was written after the return from bondage and Exile. The writer mentions the destruction of the city, Even in the destroyed state, God's people still love for stones. He is confident that God will arise and have compassion on Jerusalem. Her appointed time has come.

Many nations will fear the Lord when he appears in His Glory.
He broke my plans, I yield to Him, He cut short my life, and like the earth, my time will end. You, Lord, will stand forever. The descendants of your faithful will worship you forever.

Psalms 103

In this Psalm, David is the writer, and he is speaking to himself. He addresses his own soul. He lists the characteristics of God, the continuous benefits God freely bestows. Then he makes a summarizing statement: God brings righteousness and justice to the oppressed and all are provided for.  The King James Version is worded slightly differently: "Bless the Lord, O my soul." It is a plaintive cry of one who is alone, God is his only resource. 

He goes into detail about God's love toward us and the lengths he goes to to insure our forgiveness and make us aware of His everlasting love. David's metaphors are, both memorable and revealing. He compares God's love toward the wayward sinners to the love of a father for his minor children. We are so conscious of our own lives and ambitions we feel imortal, but God knows that we are dust. When the wind blows on us we are gone, but God remembers us and promises us a future of joy and glory.

David closes the Psalm with one more injunction to his soul to praise the Lord.

Psalms 104 

There is no attribution of authorship in Psalms 104, but it fits very well with the ones that come before it. It praises and glorifies God's power and majesty.

The writer describes God wearing light like a garment. I like the metaphors used in this Psalm. The clouds are his chariot and he rides on the wings of the winds. Flames of fire are his servant. We feel very powerful when we find ways to use the power of natural elements, but to God, these elements are his servants. They obey his commands. The Psalmist describes them as orderly and obedient to God's design, yet they are still beyond our reach. I am amazed at the scientific descriptions that account creation as a product of evolution without input from God, but when they behold a new finding in a telescope or a microscope, they exclaim "Oh, God, look at that!" Even denying the power or action of God, they still have no other way to express their wonder and amazement.

May we who know and seek His communion also revel in the wonder of his works.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Psalms 96-100

Psalms 96

There is no notation of authorship.
This Psalm is totally praise. The writer praises God in singing, and he calls for a new song. He calls for the worshippers to praise God's salvation. He calls us to declare His deed among the nations.
He is great and worthy of praise. 

The Psalmist is excited about the glory and reverence of God. He reminds us that the gods of other nations are idols not worthy of reverence, but the Lord made heaven and earth. Splendor and majesty surround Him and strength and glory are his sanctuary.

Assign glory and honor to God. The writer uses the word "ascribe" to emphasize the authority we should place on the name of God.
He calls us to bring an offering into His courts. He does not want burnt offerings, but a contrite heart is the sacrifice he asks us to bring.

He calls us to proclaim His works among the nations, to repeat the facts of his glory and His blessing, to be attentive to His creation. We are to rejoice before him and bring honor and glory to His name. He will judge the earth.

Psalms 97

Again, the author is not noted.
He declares God's authority and power. God is cloaked in darkness, righteousness, and justice. Fire goes before him. The earth trembles, the mountains melt, and all see his majesty.

The people of the whole earth see His majesty, and those who love the Lord hate evil. Zion and Judah rejoice and light shines on the righteous.  Rejoice in the Lord and Praise His holy name.

Psalms 98

Psalms 98 returns to the praise of God with song and the author uses the voice to magnify the glory and salvation God offers to the people of the earth. He mentions shouts and jubilation as acts of worship.
He also calls for making music on the harp and the blast of the ram's horn and trumpets.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it, and all who live in the world. Let the rivers clap their hands and the mountains sing for joy. All this rejoicing and celebration comes in honor of God's judgment of the world in righteousness.

Psalms 99

Psalms 99 describes and gives details of God's power to rule Heaven and earth. There is no place where He is not in control. The author lists individuals in the history of Israel who played a part in God's plan, but the glory and honor belong to God alone. This Psalms is compact and powerful claiming God's absolute control.

Psalms 100

This Psalm is noted to give grateful praise.
It is used often in worship and is powerful to remind worshippers of the power and majesty of God. Reading it communally, or individually, is an appropriate introduction to formal worship, to prepare for a service with your community of believers. 

Take time to dwell on the meaning of the phrases and enter with joy and gladness to be in His presence.