Friday, May 31, 2013

Tongue of the Wise - Proverbs 15:2

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The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive,
but the mouth of fools blurts out foolishness.
Proverbs 15:2

_________

The Book of Proverbs is full of divine wisdom and practical counsel. It is a wisdom and a poetry book.  It is filled withs small couplets of truth. They are short pithy maxims that help us face the every day.  The truth is so beautifully expressed that one can easily grasp their message.  Most often these truths are expressed in the form of a couplet.  The couplet is two ideas placed next to each other. There are three major forms of the couplet: contrastive, completive and comparative.

  1. The contrastive couplet often includes the word but. One statement is set in contrast to the next statement. For the lips of a strange woman drop honey, And her mouth is smoother than oil:  But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two- edged sword.  Proverbs 5:3-4
      
  2. In the completive couplet, the second statement completes the first and generally adds to it. In these statements the connecting word is generally and or soIn the fear of Jehovah is strong confidence; And his children shall have a place of refuge. Proverbs 14:26
  3. In a comparative couplet, the one statement serves as a comparison of the other.  The focus in these Proverbs is often to what actually is the more excellent of the two.  To identify these couplets you can look for than.  Also look for  better . . . than  /  as . . .  so  /   or  like . . .  soBetter a little with righteousness than great income with injustice.  Proverbs 16:8
The words tongue, mouth, lips and words are mentioned nearly 150 times in the book of Proverbs.  You likely can not read a full chapter of Proverbs and not find a reference to the words one speaks. It will appear somewhere as a figure of speech, most often as a metonymy.  This should be an indication of the importance of guarding your tongue.   The key verse in Proverbs on the subject of the tongue is probably: The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive,  but the mouth of fools blurts out foolishness.  Proverbs 15:2  It is a contrastive couplet.   There is that small, important word "but" included in the couplet.  It contrasts the "tongue of the wise" and the "mouth of the fool." Both of these are expressions are metonymies of cause. In both parts of the couplet, the subject is what they say.  The wisdom of a person can be determined by what they say.

The word translated as fool in this verse is the Hebrew word כְסִיל k siyl.  This word refers to a fool, a stupid or shameless person. This noun is used solely of humanity and found only in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. It is found 49 times in the  book of Proverbs.  The verb יַבִּיעַ (yabia’) is translated as "blurts out" means “to pour out; to emit; to cause to bubble; to belch forth.”  The words of the wise are useful.  These words teach valuable information and knowledge in an interesting and pleasant way.  The word of the fool are of no help to the listener. Their words burst out with reckless abandon.

As was stated in an earlier blog, the root of the problem is not in the mouth and tongue, but in the heart. Charles Swindoll states, 
"Like a bucket draws water from a well, so the tongue dips down and pours whatever is in the heart.  If the source is clean, that is what the tongue communicates.  If it is contaminated, again, the tongue will expose it."   


Another biblical book of book of poetry, Psalms states: The fool says in his heart, God does not exist.  Psalm 14:1  As stated in the previous blog: The central and recurring theme in Proverbs is that  the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.  What you speak comes from the heart.  Without knowing God your speech is foolish.  It seems that everyone at some time or another have either struggled with using their tongue in the wrong matter, or they have suffered the injury of a harsh tongue from another.  Remember a fool blurts out foolishness, and a fool is one who is not in step with God's will.


_________

The tongue is also used as a figure of speech both today and in the Bible.  Here are a few of the many metaphors for the tongue used in today's culture.
  • The word or answer is on tip-of-the-tongue — Momentary forgot
  • tongue in cheek comment — Not to be taken entirely seriously, subtle irony or sarcastic.
  • tongue twister — a phrase made specifically to be very difficult to pronounce.
  • The phrase cat got your tongue  — when a person is speechless.
  • To bite one's tongue — holding back an opinion to avoid causing offense.
  •  A slip of the tongue — an unintentional utterance. 
  •  Speak with a forked tongue - deceptive person.
  •  A silver tongue – a smooth-talking person.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Power of the Tongue


The Power of the Tongue

A BIG yawn


From the fruit of his mouth a man's stomach is satisfied;
he is filled with the products of his lips.
Life and death are in the power of the tongue, 
and those who love it will eat its fruit.   –– Proverbs 18:20-21

_______


This is a pretty weighty proverb for our second look at the tongue.  First of all, lets look at the old Testament book of Proverbs in general.  Proverbs is one of the three Bible books called Wisdom Literature.  These three books are Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job.  Wisdom literature is poetry. The poetry and wisdom also appears in Psalms, Genesis, Isaiah, Song of Solomon, the Gospel, James and other scriptures.  One of the main characteristics of poetry in the Scriptures is parallelism.  Parallelism is a construction of words in which one line is repeated, contrasted or advanced by the word of the following line.  Biblical poetry does not have word rhyme or rhythm so a sense of rhythm is created by thought. Knowing that the scripture uses parallelism is often a key in its interpretation.  The three main types of parallelism are: Synonymous parallelism, Antithetic parallelism and Synthetic parallelism.  The wisdom literature also uses metaphors, similes, puns and other figures of speech. Hopefully we will look at these in a later blog.

The book Proverbs is both poetry and wisdom literature.  Wisdom is very experiential.  It is often is a characteristic of an older person. Hopefully, a longer life will expose one to more experiences and increase their wisdom. A wise person observes and learns how to live a happy and successful life amidst everyday challenges.  Wisdom is more than intelligence. Wisdom encompasses discipline, knowledge, prudence, and other virtues. The book of Proverbs was written by Solomon and he received his wisdom as a gift from God.  The Bible tell us that true wisdom comes from God: For the Lord gives wisdom;  from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  Proverbs 2:6  God's wisdom includes

The verses in Proverbs are not promises.  Proverbs draw on observation and experiences to instruct people on how this world works.  Some behaviors and character traits often bring good results and God's blessings.  Other behavior patterns and behaviors bring failure and trouble.  The wise person will heed the knowledge found in Proverbs to put them on the path of more probable success. David Jeremiah writes:
This book is unique in that, while it was written by and for those who are the faithful of God, many of its principles will bear fruit in the life of anyone who practices them. Proverbs reminds us that “all truth is God’s truth.” If a non-believer “turns away wrath” with a “soft answer” Proverbs 15:1, it is because that law of relationships is as certain as the law of gravity. Though they don’t know it, when non-believers practice the truths of Proverbs they are treading on holy ground.
While the gems in Proverbs are useful to all they were written for God's chosen people. They were written by the gifted Solomon and inspired by God.  The central and recurring theme in Proverbs is that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge.  God is sovereign. God's will is always done.  The Proverbs are not methods or laws with guaranteed results. They are not "do this and this will happen" promises. The wisdom of the Proverbs will aid the believer to stay on the right path and walk more closely with God.  We will look at some verses about the tongue in Proverbs, James and other Scriptures, God willing.

From the fruit of his mouth a man's stomach is satisfied; he is filled with the products of his lips.
Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.   – Proverbs 18:20-21  These two proverbs are a pair that fit well together.  They both refer to speech.  They describe two aspects of speech. These two aspects of speech fight against each other. The words one speak can be either satisfying, or the cause of death.  The tongue can either dispense life or death.

From the fruit of his mouth a man's stomach is satisfied; he is filled with the products of his lips. Proverbs 18:20  Two images are used in the first of these two proverbs.  The fruit of the mouth and the harvest of the lips. These two images  (mouth and lips) are metonymies (a substitution of the name of an attribute for that of the thing meant).  They are synonymous for representation of speech.  Fruit from the orchard and products (wheat, barley) from the field.  Both speak of productive speech. Fruit and field products do not just happen.  Fruit results over a period of time. It is planted, tended and cultivated over a period of time.  The type of speech that you constantly use will determine the quality of the fruit or wheat.  If you speech is wicked you will be filled with depravity.  If your speech is honorable you will be filled with the good things you need.  Productive speech is  satisfying  and it meets the basic needs of life. There is a practical return for beneficial words. Likewise there is a return for derogatory words. The type of words you cultivate will determine return the quality of the harvest.  Good and true words will lead to a warm and comforting satisfaction. 

Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18: 21
One's speech can do either good or harm. You should be cautious with your speech and determine the direction you want your speech to take.  You can do a great deal of harm by the use of your tongue. You can also choose to use your tongue for good.  From the same tongue you can curse or comfort.  It seems that the old adage – Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me. – is not at all true.  Words can and do hurt. The hurt can be deep and lasting.   Notice the little word "it" in the verse above.  It refers to words, speech and the tongue.  If you love talking, engage in it frequently, you will have to eat the fruit of your words. I don't know about you but sometimes the fruit of my words would be quite bitter and nasty. There are consequences to your talking, watch your words. Jesus said: I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:36-37

Life and death are literally within the power of the tongue.  The announcement of the decision by a jury can be one of life or death.  A counselor can give hopeful words to a suicidal client.  A weather warning can save lives. The tongue can cause an action the encourages life or promotes death.  Spiritually, the power of the tongue  mirrors what is in the heart.  Guard your speech.  You will have to eat your own words and the taste may not be to your liking.   Do your word bring life or death?  Do they give hope or discouragement?  Listen to what others say, but also listen to what you say.  Also, remember to speak the good Word of the Gospel.  Those words could help to bring everlasting life to those who hear it. But will they listen if the fruit of your words are spoiled and bitter?

_______


A Greek Philosopher once asked his servant to provide the best dish possible. The servant prepared a dish of tongue, saying, "It is the best of all dishes, because with it we may bless and communicate happiness, dispel sorrow, remove despair, cheer the faint hearted, inspire the discouraged, and say a hundred other things to uplift mankind."

Later the same philosopher asked his servant to provide the worst dish of which he could think. A dish of tongue appeared on the table. The servant said, "It is the worst, because with it we may curse and break human hearts; destroy reputations; promote discord and strife; set families, communities, and nations at war with each other."

He was a wise servant.



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Powerful Tongue

precolombian1


Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.   — Psalm 19:14

The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.   –– Proverbs 21:20

_____

The Tongue


The tongue is a muscular hydrostat on the floors of the mouths of most vertebrates which manipulates food for mastication. That is wordy definition read aloud will exercise your tongue. What is a muscular hydrostat — that is even more a worse definition than that of the tongue. A muscular hydrostat is a structure found in animals that is used to manipulate items (like food) or to move its host around (in gastropods - slugs, snails etc. and the entire body of some worms). A musculat hydrostat is composed of mainly muscles with no skeletal support. Now here is an amazing thing about a muscular hydrostat: Muscles can only create force by contracting. Therefore there must be different sets of muscles working against each other to provide force or movement. One group of muscles will relax (lengthen) while another group will contract (shorten). The muscles in a muscular hydrostat are oriented in three different directions: parallel to the long axis, perpendicular to the long axis, and wrapped obliquely around the long axis.

The average human tongue is 4 inches in length. It is covered with tiny bumps called papillae which gives the tongue its rough texture. Now we know something about a tongue. But the tongue does much more. In the human the tongue is the primary source for taste. There are four common tastes, they are: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. All parts of the tongue can detect these tastes. There are not specific areas of the tongue that are  sensitive to specific tastes as we once thought. There is another taste discovered that the tongue is sensitive to and that is called umami, not a lot of research has been done on this taste yet. Umami is sometimes described as an earthy taste.

It has often been said that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the human body, but it is not. The jaw muscle is stronger, primarily due to its leverage. The heart muscle is the strongest in terms of endurance. The tongue, however, is the only muscle in the body that is connected at only one end, making it unique in its power. This design allows the muscle to function to move food and to speak.

The tongue is also used for non verbal expressions. Sticking one's tongue out at someone is a gesture of rudeness or defiance in many countries. In Tibet sticking out ones tongue is considered a friendly greeting. This day and age tongue piercing and splitting is quite the fad in the United States. As many as 20% of the the young adults are estimated to have at least one piece of body art in their tongue.

Unfortunately I can tell you the words of my mouth are far too often not pleasing to the Lord.  I know what I should of said or shouldn't have said sometime after I have already said it.  The damage to someone else and to my reputation has already been done.  This definitely is not acceptable to God.  As a Christian, when I slander someone with my words, I have damaged my example as a child of Christ.  I am no longer a worthy ambassador of Christ.  Why do I still do it!  I could say that this is a hidden fault,  but that isn't true.  I know I need to take time and think about what I say before I say it.  That is part of the problem.  I  could pause, think, and not speak those words. Unfortunately I have come to enjoy the accolades of those who hear my stinging comments.   The laughs and high fives of the listeners are more important to me than the hurt I may have caused by my words.  It would be far better for me not to say what I said, but it would be even better not to have thought it. The real problem, however, is that one's speech generally originates with their heart.  Taming the tongue is a good start.  Still, a person's words are the windows to their heart.

Over the next several days we will look at the Biblical references to the tongue. We will be basically be referring to the use of the tongue in speech.  We shall see the tongue used both literally and metaphorically.  We will see all the trouble the tongue will cause.

The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.  Proverbs 21:20  The words mouth and tongue are used as a figure of speech.  This is a figure of speech called a metonymy.  A metonymy is when a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but is called by something intimately associated with that thing or concept.  A businessman might be called a suit. A reporter is called the press. Hollywood might refer to the film industry in general. In this proverb mouth and tongue are metonymies of cause that signify what person says.  

The word for himself is נֶפֶשׁ nepes.  This word actually means breath, life force, soul, or a creature as a whole.  In some translations it is translated as soul and others as himself.  The word used here for trouble is צָרוֹתtsarot.  The word means: a bind, a difficulty, tribulation, tightness or affliction. Its use can refer to social or legal difficulties. Therefore this proverb is stating that: If a person guards or “keeps” his mouth, he will keep or preserve his soul. Conversely it is stating that one can bring many troubles upon himself by careless speech.

_____

“The boneless tongue, so small and weak
Can crush and kill,” declared the Greek.
The Persian proverb wisely saith:
“A lengthy tongue, an early death.”
Sometimes it takes this form instead:
“Don’t let your tongue cut off your head.”
While Arab sages this impart:
“The tongue’s great storehouse is the heart.”
From Hebrew wit the maxim’s sprung:
“Though feet should slip, don’t let the tongue.”
A verse in Scripture crowns the whole:
“Who keeps the tongue doth keep his soul.”

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Psalm 19 - Prayer and Meditaionn

Psalm 19 - Prayer and Mediation

hyacinth bean

Psalm 19

The Witness of Creation and Scripture
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and,
like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19

________

David closes this beautiful psalm with these beautiful words. This is a very moving prayer from the heart of David. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.  Psalm 19:14 A literal translation of this text would read something like this: “Let what I speak and what my heart murmurs to itself be a delight to You, Lord.”

The word of ones mouth could easily just be words.  One can read, recite or say meaningless words. The words might even sound good to the listener. But to have any meaning they must come from the heart. A prayer of praise that does not come from the heart, is just empty, meaningless sound waves. These words of David came from his heart after meditation. This is how our prayers to God should be.  They can be after meditating on His Word, or His characteristics.  God is listening and God, unlike others you may speak to, knows your heart. You can pray softly, you can sing, you can cry, you can whisper, you can shout –– but the words from the mouth must originate in your heart.

The Hebrew word here for meditation is Higga´ion. The word here refers to the practice of reflection or contemplation. The verb "to meditate" is found mainly in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word means to murmur, moan, or sigh. This meditation is not to be confused with cultic or oriental practices of meditation. In those meditations one tries to empty their mind of all thoughts. The cultic meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. The cultic meditation usually involves rhythmic chants and offerings to appease the gods.  The meditation that David expresses here could be described as “waiting on God” and “thinking on His Word or His character.” This meditation is described in the activities of the blessed man - but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. Psalm 1:2

Be acceptable in your sight. The Hebrew word translated os acceptable is רָצוֹן rason. The word means delightful, good pleasure, will favor acceptance.  The word in this case, and in many others, indicates God’s acceptance of a sacrifice. David prays that while in God's presence, his words will be from his heart and that they will be words that please God.  David knows that God judges not only one’s actions and words but also the meditations of his heart.

O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.  Rock is the Hebrew צור sur.  This means a cliff, a rock, a boulder.  Figuratively it means a refuge, an edge.  When the word is used to describe God it refers to strength and protection. God is David's strong, sheltering rock.  God is also David's redeemer.
גָאַל gaal- go'el is the Hebrew word translated as redeemer.  Redeemer refers to the Oriental law of kinship.   The next of kin, which was describer in detail by the law, would be a redeemer.  The responsibility for a go'el fell first to someone’s brother, then uncle, cousin, and finally to the nearest living clan relative. Leviticus 25:48–49. It means to perform the part of near, or next.   To redeem is to act as a kinsman, an avenger, a deliverer. A redeemer would marry a brother's widow to provide a child for the brother. A redeemer is someone who will pay back.  A redeemer had the right to redeem individuals who had sold themselves into indentured servitude.  Leviticus 25:47–49

 In the Psalms, God is seen as a Redeemer on a more personal level. The metaphor here puts God in the role of a relative, a father, who protects members of his extended family in times of need and crisis.  God is the one who delivers or redeems the life of the psalmist.  Psalm 103:4  In the midst of the trials of Job, he clings to the hope of God's redemption.  Job 19:25  David said that God was his strength. God is his redeemer.

As Christians our Redeemer, God in Christ is the One who buys us back from sin, servitude, and shame.  As Christians we can look to God for our strength. We must proclaim that Christ is our rock (strength) and our redeemer.  As Christians we should be concerned that our words and thoughts should be acceptable our Lord Jesus Christ.  What a beautiful psalm this is.  God reveals Himself in His marvelous creation, God reveals Himself in his Word (The Bible).  God is Awesome!   We are sinners and God provided our redeem.   We should please Him with our words and heart.  We should praise His Glorious name.
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My words and thoughts and their acceptability to God caused me great pause. It is something that I have taken rather lightly.  If things go as I plan, I will continue that thought on future blogs, God willing.

_______

My wife and I have the joy of watching our granddaughter on some blessed days. She is now four years old. It seems that she has always liked to color.  You may have noticed that when children first start to color, they have two problems.  First they rarely choose the appropriate color for the right item they are coloring.  Secondly, they do not stay within the lines. Their boundary when they color is the entire page and it may also include the table on which the paper lies. This rarely results in a beautiful work of art, but it still goes on the refrigerator.  As the child grows and matures, the choices of the colors in more appropriate and the colors stay within the guidelines.  These pictures are much more satisfying, and are also displayed on the refrigerator.

God's children are quite similar. Our prayer life resembles the child learning to color. At first, we don’t know what to pray for nor do our prayers stay within the guidelines of His will. As we mature and continue praying, though, we learn to pray for the right things and stay within His will, resulting in a satisfying prayer life.

Adapted from Illustrations for Biblical Preaching Edited by Michael P. Green

Monday, May 27, 2013

Psalm 19 - The Trap of Sin

Psalm 19 - The Trap of Sin


I told you not to do that again

Psalm 19

The Witness of Creation and Scripture
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and,
like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19
________


Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.  Psalm 19:12  Our sins are never hidden from God.  We may often hide hide our known sins from others. We as humans often become insensitive to sin.  We tend not to see it in ourselves. God's law is so perfect and righteous and we are so sinful. We as Christians will still sin. We can become so prideful and arrogant that we are blinded to our own sin.  These are our hidden faults. These are our sins that we have hidden from ourselves. These are our sins that we were not aware of when we committed them. These sins are blind spots for us. These may be the sins that surprise us when they just seem to "pop up."  Perhaps when you burn yourself on the stove, or when you trip over the dog,  or drop the screw when you are at the top of the ladder. The law, God's Word, will reveal our sins to us. Sometimes God will choose a friend to point them out to us. When we learn of our sins, we must confess them to God in prayer. The clearer that God's Word becomes to us and the more we study the Scripture, the more we become aware of the holiness of God. When we know God, we will recognize our sins.  This could be the type of sin that Paul spoke of: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15

Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.   Psalm 19:13  There are times when we know full well that what we are doing is a sin.  Some times we are aware of God's will, but we openly choose to defy God.  We sin on purpose! That is a presumptuous sin.   I may be wrong, but I think this is what Sinatra was singing about in his ode to pride:
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way! 
David, unlike the lyrics of the Sinatra tune, asks God (probably on his knees) to not let the presumptuous sins have dominion over him. David asks for the power not to commit these sins. Our presumptuous sins, purposeful sins, will end up trapping us.  We will become a slave to these sins. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.  2 Peter 2:19  Pride will allow you to think you are more than what you really are. Pride will make you believe that you can do it your way.  You are either controlled by the Word of God or by sin. David prays for cleansing, for acquittal, and for God to render him guiltless.

I understand that there are 613 laws in the Old Testament. That is a lot of gold and honey. I am sad to say that when I read through the Bible I do not find laws and the genealogies very exciting or interesting.  I scan over them quickly, giving them but little thought.  Today there is estimated to be more than 2,000,000 laws in the United States.  On the first day of every year many new laws become official in the U.S.A. and it territories. On that first day in 2010, there were 40,627 new laws added  in the USA and its overseas territories and protectorates.  The data in 1998 showed that there was currently a a total of 134,723 pages in 201 volumes totaling 54,834 pages of U. S. Federal laws. Since that date thousands of laws have been added.  Just the affordable Health Act added many more. That is many, many, many more laws than found in the Word of God.  When Jesus was asked what the greatest law was His answer was: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 26:36-40  If we could keep these two laws, we would have no need for the millions of others we have and the thousand of new laws that are added daily

 Are Christians not to be concered of the Law of God?  Well what did Jesus say:  "Don't assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished."  Matthew 5:17-18  The life and ministry of Jesus did not replace the Old Testament. The life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus completed and clarified the Old Testament. The Law of God still stands.   God's Word will never be changed, amended, abolished or ignored.  God did not change His Word.  His Word is true and everlasting.  We are sinners. The Lord owes us nothing but justice and wrath.  As Christians our sins are not ignored.  Jesus paid the price for our sins. God sent His Son to die with the weight of our sins upon Him, thereby paying the cost of our sins in full.  Jesus willingly died on the cross suffering for our sins.  For those who know Jesus as their Lord, our sins have been removed from us, they were not ignored. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.  Psalm 103:12   What did we, as Christians, do to earn this grace of God?  Nothing!  "By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God;" Ephesians 2:8   God, through His grace, by the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, by faith given to us by God has redeemed us. Those who do not know Jesus as their Lord will receive justice for their unpaid sins.




Friday, May 24, 2013

Psalm 19 - Gold and Honey

honeybee on lemon basil

Psalm 19

The Witness of Creation and Scripture
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.


1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfectreviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is suremaking wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are rightrejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pureenlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

_______
We have been looking at Psalm 19.  This psalm starts with the Natural revelation of God.  It continues with the special revelation of God in His law.  We left off yesterday with Psalm 19:10.  This was not, perhaps, the best place to stop, but I ran out of steam and time.  The law of the Lord is more desired than gold and sweeter than honey.  The Hebrew word is נֹפֶת nopet.  This is not just a
a drop of honey it refers to a full comb of honey flowing down from the comb.

There really isn't a natural food that is much sweeter than honey. Honey has been used all over the world and in nearly every culture for thousands of years. In Ancient Egypt honey was used it as a form of currency, much like gold. No other sweetener can compete with the incredible taste of honey.  Honey is also a food with many health benefits.  Honey is packed with probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Honey naturally contains 18 amino acids. Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharides fructose and glucose. It is slightly sweeter than processed sugar.  Studies have shown that when taken daily, honey actually lowers serum cholesterol and does not spike blood sugar levels like refined sugar.  Honey has antibacterial properties that will prevent infection in minor cuts and abrasions. Honey is thick and when placed over the wound it will protect against bacteria and dirt entering a wound. Try placing a a little dab of honey onto your cut and cover it with a bandage. Honey may improve one's sleep and relaxation. A spoonful of honey before going to bed will slightly raise your insulin level. This allows tryptophan to more easily enter your brain, thus promoting sleep. Honey is good stuff.

Gold has long been a measure of one's wealth.  Many leaders of the ancient world measured their wealth in gold, as do some today. King Solomon was the wealthiest man that ever lived.
Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold. 1 Kings 10:14  That is equal to about 25 tons of gold each year.  This was no exaggeration of the wealth of Solomon.  In 923 B.C., Shoshenq I of Egypt waged a successful campaign against the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. He raided all of the gold from the Temple in Jerusalem, and all of the wealth he found in the Jewish Nations. Greek sources tell us that in about 334 B.C., Alexander the Great discovered a hoard of 1,180 tons of gold in Susa, Egypt.  It is likely that much of that gold was from the Temple built by Solomon.  Gold is and was, a mark of wealth.

Honey and gold is highly valued in this world. Many people desire to be rich. They want gold. Honey delights the taste buds and provides health and nourishment. The word of God is even more valuable and sweeter than gold and honey. The law of God is to be desired over the desire for gold.  The word of God is to be desired over the benefits of honey. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.  Psalm 19:11  The word of God is also a warning.  The law will tell you how to keep on the right path. God's word will tell you how to make the adjustments you need to make in your life to deal with all situations. The law will warn you away from things which might harm you.  The law serves a dual purpose.  It warns the wicked not to continue down the path of destruction, and it warns the believer not to turn away from the right path.

_______

Some seem to expect the Word of God to hit them like a jolt of adrenaline each time they read or study it. Although the “jolt” may hit us periodically, the benefits of the Word of God act more like vitamins. People who regularly take vitamins do so because of their long-term benefits, not because every time they swallow one of the pills, they feel new strength surging through their bodies. They have developed a habit of consistently taking vitamins because they have been told that, in the long haul, vitamin supplements are going to have a beneficial effect on their physical health, resistance to disease and, general well-being.

The same is true of reading the Bible. At times it will have a sudden and intense impact on us. However, the real value lies in the cumulative effects that long-term exposure to God’s Word will bring to our lives.

Illustrations for Biblical Preaching Edited by Michael P. Green

________

I had planned for this to be the final blog on Psalm 19.  I was surprised to see that I had not included any of the items that I had expected to mention in my outline for this blog  I will put more time and thought into the next blog and attempt to finish this look at Psalm 19.




Thursday, May 23, 2013

Psalm 19 - The Greatest Psalm

sunset from Sanibel causway 2002

Psalm 19

The Witness of Creation and Scripture
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.


1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfectreviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is suremaking wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are rightrejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pureenlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
___________

C, S. Lewis wrote of Psalm 19, "I take this to be the greatest poem in the psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world."  We have looked at this wonderful psalm over the last several days.  We have seen how God reveals himself in His creation and in His law. The law of the Lord is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean and true.

Gods law is perfect. God is perfect so his law is perfect as well.  God's law is completely without error. God's Word is both the old Testament and the New Testament is perfect.  There is no contradiction or error in His Word. Following God's law will result in reviving or refreshing the soul.  Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his masters.  Proverbs 25:13

God's law is sure.  The Hebrew word used here is אָמַן aman.  This word means to build up or to support, to foster as a parent or a nurse.  The law of God is trustworthy.  The result of following the sure and trustworthy law is to make wise the simple. The Hebrew word for simple is פֶתִי pethiy. It means foolish, too open minded, easily seduced.  Following the word of God will make us stronger and wiser in God.  It will build up and strengthen our faith.  We will not be so easily swayed to the ways of the world.  God will teach us the correct way.  There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.  Proverbs 16:25

God's law is right.  The Hebrew word translated as right is יָשָׁר yasar.  It means righteous, straight, upright, correct, level, straightforward.   Following God's word will keep you an the straight path. The result of following the right law is rejoicing in the heart.  As sinful people we will turn to the wrong path.  Satan's way often seems far better, more fun and with quicker results. Satan promises a lot, but he only delivers death. Joy comes from following the law of God. God's law will brighten you heart, it will make you glad. As a child of God this joy is eternal. 

God's law is pure.  Pure is the  Hebrew word - בַר bar - it means choice, clean and pure. The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.  Psalm 12:6  Following the pure law will result in enlightening the eyes.   The word here is אוֹר or - it means  to make luminous, kindle, to give light.  It can refer to the break of day.  The law will make your eyes light up.  Following the pure law will result in that "lightbulb" going on in your brain.  You will see the truth. You will "get it," i.e. understand the truth and beauty of God.

God's law is clean.  The word here is טָהוֹר tahor.  It means clean in a physical, chemical, ceremonial, ethical or moral sense.  In the Old Testament we learn that a sacrifice had to be clean.  The animal that was to be sacrificed was to be spotless. One spot or blemish will make a sacrifice unclean and worthless as a sacrifice.  God's law is true.  The Hebrew word "true" here is word מִשְׁפָט mispat.  This word means: justice, regulation, prescription, judgment.   Righteous is the word צָדַק sadaq.  This means to cause to be right in a forensic sense.  Altogether is יַחַד yahad.  This means likewise, united together.  So God's law is true and righteous altogether.  God's true law demands justice.  God's clean, everlasting, righteous and true law has condemned all is fair and beautiful.  But humans are all sinners. This perfect law has pointed out our sins and condemned us.  Since we are all sinners, we all deserve our punishment in hell. 

The ceremonial law was done away with by Christ the Messiah.  But God's word does not change, God's clean law is enduring forever.  Jesus said, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my  words will not pass away.  Matthew 24:35  We are all sinners. We cannot meet the requirements of the law.  One blemish, one sin, will make us morally and ceremonially unclean.   That is why the unblemished Lamb of God, Jesus, sacrificed Himself for his children. Humans will break the beautiful precious law of God.  Breaking the law will bring the judgment of the everlasting law.  Only followers of Christ are washed clean from their sins in the blood of Christ.

Praise the Lord, Christ is risen from the dead, and His children have been redeemed.

_____







Wednesday, May 22, 2013

God’s Perfect Law (Psalm 19:7-14)


God’s Perfect Law (Psalm 19:7-14)

Rainbow in the Clouds



Psalm 19

The Witness of Creation and Scripture
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.


1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is suremaking wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pureenlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.


___________

Psalm 19 switches from natural revelation to the beauty of the Laws of God in verses 7 to 14. Psalm 19:7-14  God in these verses reveals Himself through the powerful spoken words of His law. This is called special revelation. The name used for God in these verses also changes from Elohim used in Psalm 19: 1-4  to Yahweh - the I AM  used in the remaining verses of this psalm.     אֵל el God  Almighty.  Elohim was the name God used in the creation story in Genesis.  This characteristic of God is displayed in His marvelous creation.  I AM, יְהוָֹה yhwh, Yahweh is the self-Existent, eternal God that gave His law to Moses.  This name is very appropriate in this special revelation of His law.

In verses 7, 8 and 9 there are six different words (synonyms) used for God's law. Psalm 19:7-9
These words differ in various translations but they are: law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, and judgments.  (These words are highlighted in yellow above)  This is quite an emphasis on the Law.  Of course this is poetry so one expects this beauty in the words.  But is also an emphatic way of expressing the importance of God's law.

  1. Law - The Hebrew word used here for law (or instruction in some translations) is תֹרָה torah.  This word means precept or statute.  It specifically the Decalogue (10 commandments), or Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Old Testament).  In general it refers to body of legal directives.  
  2. Testimony - עֵדות edut - means testimony or to bear witness.  The law of the Lord The Bible is a witness of the greatness of the person of God. 
  3. Precepts - פִקוד piqqud - Appointed mandates. God's law is not something one can decide is right or wrong.  These are God's laws, all people are under His dominion and are subject to His laws.
  4. Commandment - מִצְוָה miswa - a command.   this is a command order from God.
  5. Fear - יִרְאָה iyra - fear, morally, reverence.  Fear is not a word for the law.  It is used here to state that the law of God is vital. One should revere God and his law.
  6. Rules - this is also translated as judgements - מִשְׁפָט mispat - verdict, pronounced judicially, formal decree. God decides what its right and what is wrong.  It is God's decision. Not to follow His word will bring God's justice

After each one of the six words for the law there is an evaluation of the law.  These words are: perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true.   (Highlighted in blue above).  Also after each word and evaluation for law there is a result.  These results are: converting the soul, making wise the simple, rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes, enduring forever, and righteous altogether. (Highlighted in green above).

The law of God was to be more desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.  Gold and honey were very highly esteemed gifts.  They were costly and valuable commodities. When God gave the law to the nation of Israel it was a delight.  The have been told by the eternal I AM, exactly what was expected of us.  The other people at that time worshiped pagan gods. These pagan gods were quite fickle.  One could never please them.  The behavior of these false gods was very unpredictable.  Those who worshiped these false gods were always trying to appease them.  They lived in fear, worrying that they might unknowingly make their gods angry.  An angry god would bring down his wrath upon them. They were helpless and hopeless in knowing why, when, how or if this wrath would be displayed.

Because of sin, the world is in chaos. God's law is a beautiful gift for mankind. God's law told the nation of Israel what they were to do and what they were not to do.  God's law was beautiful because it rescued them from the chaos. They knew the path they should follow.  If they stayed the path God would bless them.  God's law promised both warning and reward.  God gave them His guidelines for life.

It seems today that instead of esteeming the law we dread the law.  We look to see how close we can come to breaking the law without going going over the line.  It seems we are quite comfortable in the gray areas. We tend to forget, or ignore the power of sin.  Sin brings death.  We should want to stay as far away from sin as we can.   Humans are sinners, we cannot avoid sin, but we can be forgiven.  Christ provided a way for us.

______

I am out of practice and have forgotten my html code so I could not make a chart for the word, evaluation and result for the law.  The highlighting - while not so nice as a chart - was easily applied by the blog editing program.  I hope it was sufficient.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Psalm 19 - The words of The Sky

sunset2 sanibel causway 2002

Psalm 19

The Witness of Creation and Scripture
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man,
runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

We will continue with David's meditation on God's creation.  Everyone knows about God because nature proclaims God's existence and power, this is natural revelation.

Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.  Psalm 19:2-3 The skies proclaim the works of God day and night. A look at the sky during the night or the day should be enough to convince a person that there is a God. The glory and majesty of God is displayed in His works. It does sound a bit confusing with pouring out speech, then there is no speech.  this is poetry.  There is no contradiction here. There is constant communication, day and night, by the heavens, but it is not with literal words.  The silence of the skies fills the earth with volumes of unspoken truth. The message of the created world extends to everywhere.

In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.  Psalm 19: 4-5 God made a tent for the sun.   From our vantage point on the earth there is no greater object in the sky than the sun. It provides warmth and light.  Many of the pagan religions considered the sun as a god. These pagan religions worshiped the stars, moon and sun as their gods. The nation of Israel was not to worship the sun. This psalm specifically tells us that the sun is only a creation of God.  It is not a god and should not be worshiped.  The sun as a creation of god actually "speaks" to the people of the glory of the Creator God. The sun, like a bridegroom, is celebrating it creator. The sun is a like a strong man.  It runs a race across the sky each day. There is not a place in the world that the sun does not touch every day.  It rises bright and joyfully every morning and crosses the sky each day.  The purpose of the sun is to provide sustenance to all living things on earth. It provides heat and light.  It joyfully glorifies its creator God.

God’s wisdom does not need to be spoken. Through creation, it is seen, felt, and experienced.  It is quite ridiculous to say that the universe happened by chance.  The design of nature points to a personally involved Creator. My first college study was in Science. I know that science has a lot of fantastic thing to say about the earth and creation.  There is no absolute evidence for any of the many theories of the origin of the universe.  The true study of science began and flourished by Christians. Biblical belief and science are not mortal enemies. Modern science first flourished under a Christian worldview and floundered non Christian nations.

Modern science is based on the assumption that the universe is orderly. An orderly universe makes perfect sense only if was made by an orderly creator. The very fact that we can look at nature and see a plan is because of the plan of God. The very nature of His creation allows us to study and observe natural laws. These are the laws created by God. We can calculate the size of the earth and the galaxy because God's law establishes specific things to happen in specific ways.  We can predict the outcome of a controlled experiment because it follows the God made natural laws, and it will always end with the same result.  God created the heavens and the earth.  He alone is the creator of the universe. As you look at the wondrous natural sky, and God's handiworks in heaven and on earth it will take you breath away.  What an awesome God we serve. We must thank Him for the beauty of the heavens and the earth.

Nature points to the existence of God.  The law of God points out our sins, and sinful nature. The Gospel tells us about God's plan of salvation. It is the wonderful duty of Christians to explain to others how they can have a relationship with God. Even in today's world most people believe in a Creator.  The evidence of nature around them shout of the existence of God.Just knowing that there is a God is not going to save you. You must know God.  You must know Jesus as your Savior. People need to know about God's  love, mercy, and grace.  We need to tell them the good news of redemption through Jesus Christ. We need to inform them so that the Holy Spirit can work in them and they will become a new creation.

The next blog, should I get around to it, will discus the second part of this Psalm 19.  We have seen the natural revelation of God, next we will look at His revelation in His Law.




Monday, May 20, 2013

Psalm 19 - The heavens declare the glory of God

Sanibel sunset

Psalm 19

The Witness of Creation and Scripture
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man,
runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

_______

Psalm 19 is a bit longer that the other psalms we have looked at thus far. This psalm was written by David and inspired by God.  Many scholars divide this psalm into two major parts, a few divide it into three major parts. In the first part of the psalm God reveals Himself through nature. the observation of creation calls for an acknowledgment of God's existence. This is called natural revelation. Paul talks about natural revelation: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:19-20  There is a continuous revelation in the skies. The wisdom, power, and glory of God is mirrored in his creation.  The second part of the psalm deals with what is called specific revelation.  God reveals Himself in His word, and in His law. The psalm ends with redemption and a beautiful benediction.

The first part This psalm is well known.  For many, there is no psalm that has such beauty of literary expression. It is beautiful in the description and contemplation of the universe.  On the first day God said "Let there be light" – and there was light.  On the fourth day he created the heavenly bodies – the sun, moon and stars.  Man is drawn to the glory of the skies. Our days are divided into day and night.  The sun lights each day.  The moon and stars light each night.  The heavenly bodies mark our days, months and years.  The beauty of heavenly bodies delight our eyes and inspire our thoughts. The sky is glorious. Our God as Creator is even more glorious and magnificent than the heavens, the works of His hands.

Lets take a look at verse one. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1   Notice that the word here is the Heavens - plural.  The Hebrew word is שָׁמַיִם samaiym.  They fall into two main categories: the sky, atmosphere, visible universe, or space; and the dwelling place of God.  In this inspired psalm of David, the meaning is clarified by the next phrase, the sky above.   The Hebrew word for sky is רָקִיעַ raqiya.  This means the firmament, the visible arch of the sky.  The Hebrew word for declare is סָפַר sapar.  This word means to score with a mark as a tally or record, to enumerate intensively. The visible heavens are shouting the glory of God.  The sky is listing a record of all the glorious things God has created. The visible heavens includes the clouds, the wind, the weather, and the place where eagles soar. The visible heavens include the stars, the moon, the planets. The parallelism between the glory of God and the work of His hands (handiworks), indicates that the objects of creation are evidence of Gods glory.

The glory of the sky really does declare the glory of God. The Hubble telescope has shown us that they could be more that 100 billion galaxies. The Milky Way galaxy is the galaxy in which our solar system resides. In the Milky Way alone there are at least 100 billion stars.  In our solar system lies the earth and our sun, moon, and planets.  Our sun, a star, it is 93 million miles from earth. The nearest star from our sun, Alpha Centauri, is 4.3 light years away. A light year is the distance that light travels in one year. Light travels at 186,282 miles in one second. The distance that light travels in 1 year is 5,870 billion miles. That places the nearest star from the earth at more that 24, 000 billion miles away. The size and glory of the skies is phenomenal.  Only a glorious God could plan and create such a magnificent creation.

The skin of air around the earth is the atmosphere. There are five layers in the atmosphere of the earth. Each layer is differentiated by temperature.  The trophosphere is the lowest level of the atmosphere. This is where most clouds and weather form.  The trophosphere averages about seven miles in its thickness.  The highest level is the exosphere it is anything above 435 miles high. The earth weighs 5.97 X 10 to the 23rd power kilograms.  The highest point on the earth is Mt. Everest at 29,028 feet.  The lowest point on earth is the Dead Sea between Israel and Jordan which is 1,312 feet below sea level. The average depth of the ocean floor is 13,124 feet.  There are 2000 thunders storms occurring on the earth at any given moment. Every second of  every day there are an approximently 100 lightening strikes. That is 8,640,00 lightening strikes each day. The heavens really do declair the glory of God.  There is no excuse for not knowing that there is a God through
natural revelation.

  The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah   Psalm 50:6

 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! Psalm 89:5

 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all jthe peoples see his glory. Psalm 97:6    


This marvelous planet, in this huge universe is the only planet on which man lives.  On this single planet God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ. On this planet, God walked as a man and lived with mankind.  He gave up all the glory due to Him as God.  He became a humble servent.  He died for the sins of His children.  He rose again and reigns in His heaven.  If you know Him you will see the heavens where God lives.  You will have a house in that heaven with Him.  God reveals Himself in nature, but You can come only into His presence by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ.

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Sorry,  I ran out of time.  I hope to continue tomorrow. I only have a few more days to get my garden in and to get a lot of things done around the house. I haven't been getting my blog done soon enough to proof read it.  Let me know of problems so that I can correct them.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Psalm 100 - For the Lord is good

For the Lord is good


crab apple blossoms

A Psalm for Giving Thanks

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,  and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the Lord is good;  his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100
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I had intended to talk about psalm in two blogs.  It didn't turn out that way.  I had some time limitations in my preparation of this weeks blogs.  But that was not the only reason. I may have been repetitious in what I wrote.  I may have seemed to stray to far away from this psalm in some of my writing.  The bible is a library of many books, but it is one story.  It is the story of God's plan of redemption for fallen mankind.  All of the Word of God are true and inspired.  The words are all connected.  It is all truth, in one context. You cannot study one verse without acknowledging its connection to the entirety of the Word. Never does the Bible contradict itself, its purpose, or God's plan. All of those reasons contributed to stretching the look at Psalm 100 to five days.

I find that this short psalm is worthy of more than the five days I spent on it.  It should be in our heart at all times.  As Christians we should definitely have and attitude of gratitude.  This gratitude should be should spontaneous and joyful.  This attitude is demanded by God in His commands. This  attitude is demanded by the very nature of God.  We cannot help but praise and thank God because of what He has done for us.  But even more we cannot we cannot come into His presence without awe, thanksgiving and praise. It is an automatic response of believers to the presence of God.

I must confess that I memorized this psalm more than 50 years ago, but I really did not pay enough attention to the words. I missed out on a lot of the benefits of what I was able to recite, but not internalize.   Today we will look at the final verse of this short psalm.

In the previous four verses we were given seven commands.

  1. Make a joyful noise to Yahweh.
  2. Serve Yahweh with gladness.
  3. Come before Yahweh with joyful songs.
  4. Know that God is your Lord.
  5. Come into the presence of God with praise.
  6. Give thanks to Yahweh
  7. Bless (show honor and praise) to God
We really do not need to be given any reasons to praise God.  He is worthy of our praise because He is God.  He is the eternal I AM.  By his nature He deserves our praise. In verse five, however,  we are reminded of three reasons for following those seven commands. For the Lord is good;  his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.  Psalm 100:5    

For the Lord is good.  The Hebrew word used here is טוֹב tob.  The word can refer to both the quality or the morality of goodness. It refers to pleasant, delightful, pleasing and bountiful. God is the source and perfect example of goodness.  God is good.  He is always good. His ways are perfect. His commands are best for us. C. H. Spurgeon wrote this about the goodness of God: This sums up his character and contains a mass of reasons for praise. He is good, gracious, kind, bountiful, loving; yea, God is love. He who does not praise the good is not good himself.  The kind of praise [instilled in this psalm Psalm, that of joy and gladness], is most fitly urged upon us by an argument from the goodness of God.

His steadfast love endures forever. The word here is חֶסֶד hesed. It is translated as steadfast love,   mercy, or as as lovingkindness in various versions of the Bible. The Hebrew word means loyal love or unfailing love, and specifies Gods faithfulness to His people through his covenant relationship. It denotes a strong sense of goodwill, especially such as can be relied upon in times of need. God's love is constant and forever toward His people.

His faithfulness to all generations. The Hebrew word is אֱמונָה  muna, which means faithfulness, steadiness, trustworthiness. God is faithful and true to His people.  God's faithfulness is to all generations. God is fair, just and faithful to His people. God is good because He is faithful, loving, loyal and merciful.  God is faithful, loving, loyal and merciful because He is good. God is not fickle  does not change His mind. As he was faithful to Moses and His people, He will be faithful to His people today. God has never broken his word and He never will.

Is an attitude of gratitude important? Yes, indeed!  We know that it is important to our physical health.  It benefits our mental health.  And it is commanded in our spiritual live as a Christian. Is ingratitude rampant in our times today? Yes indeed!  Let us take a look at 2 Timothy 3:1-5  But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self- control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Psalm 100 tells us that we can and should have an Attitude of Gratitude.  It is important that Christians are grateful people. We must show gratitude to others and to God.  God deserves our praise and thanksgiving.   Let's Thank God!

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Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.
A.W. Tozer
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Many years ago, Matthew Henry, a well-known Bible scholar, was once robbed of his wallet. Knowing that it was his duty to give thanks in everything, he meditated on this incident and recorded in his diary the following:

I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life; third, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.
  Matthew Henry
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God is in control, and therefore in EVERYTHING I can give thanks - not because of the situation but because of the One who directs and rules over it.
   Kay Arthur
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When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.
 G.K. Chesterton
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Thou who has given so much to me, give one thing more: a grateful heart.
 George Herbert



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Psalm 100:4 - Thanksgiving, Praise, Blessing

Ocean Blue Morning Glory


A Psalm for Giving Thanks

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,  and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the Lord is good;  his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

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We continue looking at Psalm 100.  Today we begin at verse 4.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving,  and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!  Psalm 100:4  Enter with thanksgiving.  This is the reason for the psalm.  It is for all of the world and all of its people to offer thanks to Yahweh.  Entering into His gates and His courts refers to the Temple complex.  The nation of Israel was to join joyfully in worship of the I AM.  Today we have no Temple, the temple was destroyed in  70 AD.  How are we to enter into his gates?  The Temple is where the nation of Israel approached God. 

There was a portion of the Temple called the Holy of Holies. In this place only the High Priest could approach God and only one day of the year.  And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed out His life.  And the curtain [of the Holy of Holies] of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  Mark  15:37-38  At the death of Jesus God tore the curtain of the Holy of Holies from top to bottom. This was to show us that the death of Jesus is the final and definitive sacrifice for sin. No longer would the high priest need to enter into the Most Holy Place behind the veil to atone for the sins of the people. Christians have access to God through Jesus His Son.  Jesus obtained eternal redemption for His people. We can enter into the His gates and His courts by prayer.  Through Christ our mediator we have access to the presence of God in prayer.  In Hebrews 4:16, we are told "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."  Furthermore as Christians, we are the temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in and with and among them and will walk in and with and among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 2 Corinthians 6:16  By the grace of God, through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ we have access to God in prayer.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving.  Psalm 100:4 commands us to come into Gods presence with thanksgiving. This is the first time in this psalm that we are commanded to give thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is the theme of the psalm and the title of the psalm. The word translated as thanksgiving in this verse is תוֹדָה toda.  This word means: adoration, praise, thanks. This praise is specifically, a choir or congregation of worshippers.  As Christians we are to give praise in songs and prayer to God.  This is to be done by Christians privately in our closet, and corporately with our church family. We are to Enter... his courts with praise!  The Hebrew word translated as praise here is  תְהִלָה thila. This word has a lot of meaning. This word means a hymn, a song of praise and adoration paid to God. This praise is to be an act of general or public praise that is demanded by the attributes of God.  So our praise to God is to be genuine and joyful. We are to praise and thank God because His very nature demands our praise. God is to be the recipient of our praise.

 From the very start of psalm we are told to joyful in our worship and praise of God. In verse four we are commanded to come into the presence of God with thanksgiving and praise.  We are further commanded to Give thanks to him; bless his name!  Psalm 100:4  The word for thanks here is the Hebrew word יָדָה yada.  This word for thanks has as its base an action word that means to physically use the hand. This would be like holding out you hand or throwing a stone. Our thanksgiving is to be especially reverent and with extended hands.  We previously saw that the word bless ( בָרַךְ barak) means to kneel, to show adoration and praise.  We also previously learned that "name" is more than a label.  The word here is שֵׁם sem. Here it means the mark of individuality, or total character of the person. To bless His name is to proclaim or praise the excellence of Yahweh, and to worship Yahweh.  Giving thanks to God is demanded by the character and glory of God.  Giving thanks to God is a privilege of all who love Him.  "In everything give thanks!" 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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Many view God only as a kind of heavenly genie, ready when you rub the lamp of prayer to appear and say, “Yes, master; what do you want me to do?” But God is not like that. God is sovereign. God moves according to his own purposes, and he does not play games with us. He is not to be mollified and placated by a temporary return to him when we get into difficulty.
Illustrations for Biblical Preaching Edited by Michael P. Green


Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~ George Herbert

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Everything we enjoy, should be viewed as coming from the gracious and liberal hand of our sovereign God.  ––  James Smith