Monday, July 31, 2017

READ IT! - Introduction to Psalms 20-26

Readings for this week

Monday: Psalm 20
Tuesday: Psalm 21
Wednesday: Psalm 22
Thursday: Psalm 23
Friday: Psalm 24
Saturday: Psalm 25
Sunday: Psalm 26

Introduction to Psalms 20-26

Psalm 20

This is a Davidic psalm in which the writers says, “May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May he remember your offerings. The LORD saves his anointed. We rise up and stand firm!” This psalm was concerned with the king’s military activities and most likely functioned as a pledge of loyalty by the army to its ruler before a military campaign.

Psalm 21

This is a Davidic psalm in which the writer says, “O LORD, the king rejoices in your strength! You set a crown upon his head. You will destroy your enemies. We will praise your power!” The “crown of pure gold” was the ceremonially emblem of royalty – possibly the captured crown of a defeated king. An example of this is seen in 2nd Samuel when David conquers the Amorite king and takes his crown.

Psalm 22

This is a Davidic psalm which is known in ancient Jewish culture as “The Death Psalm.” It contains a note at the beginning for “the director of music” in which the writer states that this song is to be sung to the tune of another well-known song at the time called “The Doe of the Morning.” The writer says, “My God, why have you forsaken me? I am despised. They have pierced my hands. You have answered me! The nations will worship the LORD!”

When Jesus was dying on the cross, he quoted from this Death Psalm. It was the wish of every practicing Jew at the time to be reciting Psalm 22 when they died. The New Testament writers saw this psalm as prophecy that Jesus fulfilled in his death. The psalm ends with the words, “It is finished!”

Psalm 23

This is a Davidic psalm, which says, “The LORD is my shepherd… He leads me in paths of righteousness... I will fear no evil... I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Sometimes we tend to misinterpret this psalm and others that talk about God’s blessings. The truth is that God does not promise to give us everything we want or even need all at once. But he does promise to walk with us and guide us one step at a time, giving us just enough for each moment.

This psalm was written by a desert shepherd living in danger. In his words, we see that we are the sheep and God is the shepherd leading us through the desert. The "green pastures" that God leads us to are not fields of "belly deep alfalfa" as we often imagine as westerners, but rather little tufts of grass scattered here and there, teaching us that we need to rely on God at all times for everything. Because God is the only one who can lead us safely though the desert. With him we can “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” and “fear no evil, for you are with me.”

Psalm 24

This is a Davidic psalm in which the writer says, “The earth is the LORD's! He who has a pure heart will receive blessing. Lift up your heads, O gates! The King of glory shall come in.”

Psalm 25

This is a Davidic psalm in which the writer says, “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. Show me your ways, teach me your paths. Be gracious to me, forgive my sins. I take refuge in you.” This psalm is an acrostic poem, each verse beginning with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet

Psalm 26

This is a Davidic psalm in which the writer says, “Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked with integrity. I do not sit with deceitful men. I love the place where your glory dwells.”

Monday, July 24, 2017

READ IT! - Introduction to Psalms 13-19

Readings for this week:

Monday: Psalm 13
Tuesday: Psalm 14
Wednesday: Psalm 15
Thursday: Psalm 16
Friday: Psalm 17
Saturday: Psalm 18
Sunday: Psalm 19

Introduction to Psalms 13-19
Psalm 13

David says, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? Look on me and answer! Give light to my eyes. But I will trust in your unfailing love.”

Psalm 14

David says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ There is no one who does good. Will evildoers never learn? God is with the righteous.”

Psalm 15

David says, “LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? He whose walk is blameless, who does not slander, who keeps his oath even when it hurts.”

Psalm 16

This is a “miktam” of David. We don’t know what “miktam” means but it’s a word that’s only ever used to introduce Davidic psalms of lament. He says, “Protect me, O God! I have no good besides you. The LORD is my portion. I will not be shaken. In your presence is fullness of joy!”

Psalm 17

This psalm is introduced as a prayer of David. He says, “Hear a just cause, O LORD. My steps have held to your paths. Hide me in the shadow of your wings. Deliver my life from the wicked.”

Psalm 18

This psalm contains a note to the music director which states that the words of this psalm of David come from a time when “the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies” … specifically Saul. David appears to have borrowed this song from a Canaanite song about Baal the storm god… though David’s version which worships the true God is better than the original. He said, “The LORD is my rock. I called and he thundered from heaven. He rescued me from my enemy. I will praise you among the nations, O LORD!”

Psalm 19

David says, “The heavens declare the glory of God. The law of the LORD is perfect, making wise the simple. May my words be pleasing to you, O LORD.”

Monday, July 17, 2017

READ IT! - Introduction to Psalms 6-12

Readings for this week:

Monday: Psalm 6
Tuesday: Psalm 7
Wednesday: Psalm 8
Thursday: Psalm 9
Friday: Psalm 10
Saturday: Psalm 11
Sunday: Psalm 12

Introduction to Psalms 6-12

Psalm 6

This Davidic psalm contains a note for the director of the music at the beginning, stating that this song is best done with stringed instruments according to “sheminith,” which is probably some sort of musical term. He says, “Be merciful to me, O LORD! My soul is in anguish. I flood my bed with tears. Depart from me, you evildoers! The LORD has heard my cry.”

Psalm 7

This Davidic psalm contains a note saying that it is a “shiggaion” which he sang to the Lord concerning a Benjamite named Cush whom we know nothing about. “Shiggaion” seems to have its roots in the Hebrew word for the ranting or rambling of a drunk person. He says, “O LORD, save me from all who pursue me. Arise in judgment! God has prepared his weapons against the wicked. I will praise the LORD!”

Psalm 8

This Davidic psalm contains a note to the music director saying that it is written according to “gittith.” David spent some time among the Philistines in Gath (Gittites) and a Gittite man named Obed-Edom took care of the Ark on behalf of David when David was too angry with God to deal with it. He says, “O LORD, how majestic is your name in all the earth! What is man that you care for him? Yet you have crowned him with glory and honor.”

Psalms 9-10

These Davidic psalms contain a note to the music director saying that it is written to the tune of another popular song at the time called “The Death of the Son.” Psalms 9 and 10 may have been originally a single acrostic poem, the stanzas of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. He says, “I will praise you, O LORD! You have rebuked the nations. The LORD will judge the world with justice. The needy will not be forgotten. O LORD, why do you stand far off? The wicked man hunts the weak. He says, 'God will never see.' O God, break the arm of the wicked!”

Psalm 11

David says, “In the LORD I take refuge. How can you say, 'Flee like a bird'? The LORD hates the wicked. The LORD is righteous and loves justice.”

Psalm 12

This Davidic psalm contains a note to the music director saying that it is written according to “sheminith” which may be a certain stringed instrument on which the song should be played, or it may be another musical notation such as a certain key or octave. The Hebrew root word is related to the number eight so it might be played on an eight-stringed instrument. David says. “Help, O LORD, for the godly are no more. Everyone lies. ‘I will protect the weak,’ says the LORD. The words of the LORD are pure.”

Monday, July 10, 2017

READ IT! - Introduction to Psalms 1-5

Readings for this week:

Monday: Exodus 39
Tuesday: Exodus 40
Wednesday: Psalm 1
Thursday: Psalm 2
Friday: Psalm 3
Saturday: Psalm 4
Sunday: Psalm 5

Introduction to Psalms 1-5

The Psalms are Israel’s book of worship. They are a collection of songs written over several hundred years. The Book of Psalms was not completed until well after the exilic period. There are 150 psalms total.

There are actually five separate books within the Book of Psalms:

Book I: Psalms 1-41
Book II: Psalms 42-72
Book III: Psalms 73-89
Book IV: Psalms 90-106
Book V: Psalms 107-150

The psalms are attributed to many different people, including:

King David
King Solomon
The Sons of Korah
Heman the Ezrahite
Ethan the Ezrahite

Many of the psalms are attributed to David, and it is understood that some were written by David, some were written in remembrance of David, and some were written by the descendants of David.

Psalm 1

This psalm was written by an anonymous author who states that blessed is the man who does not walk with the wicked, whose delight is in the law of the LORD. He is like a tree planted by the water.

Psalm 2

This psalm was written by an anonymous author, who says, “Why do the rulers plot against the LORD and his anointed? The LORD laughs! He said to me, ‘You are my son.’ O kings, fear the LORD!”

Psalm 3

This is a psalm of David from the time when he fled from his son Absalom who wanted to kill him and take over the kingdom. He says, “O LORD, how many are my foes! But you are a shield around me. You have broken the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

Psalm 4

This Davidic psalm contains a note for the director of the music at the beginning, stating that this song is best done with stringed instruments. David says, “Answer me when I call, O God! O people, how long will you seek lies? Put your trust in the LORD! O LORD, you make me sleep in safety.”

Psalm 5

This Davidic psalm contains a note for the director of the music at the beginning, stating that this song is best done with wind instruments. David says, “Hear my cry, O LORD! You hate all evildoers. Lead me in righteousness because of my enemies. Let all who take refuge in you rejoice!”

Monday, July 3, 2017

READ IT! - Introduction to Exodus 32-40

Readings for this week:

Monday: Exodus 32
Tuesday: Exodus 33
Wednesday: Exodus 34
Thursday: Exodus 35
Friday: Exodus 36
Saturday: Exodus 37
Sunday: Exodus 38

Introduction to Exodus 32-40

Chapter 32

At this point in the text, we get back to the narratives and we learn that Moses was hanging out with God on the mountain for a really long time learning about all these new laws.

And Moses was gone for such a long time, that the Israelites began to wonder if he was ever coming back. So they went to Aaron and said they wanted a new god. And Aaron used their gold jewelry to make a calf for them to worship.

While Moses was still on the mountain, God told him what the Israelites were up to. And God said, “I’m going to go destroy them all and then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation.” But Moses begged God to change His mind... and He did.

And when Moses came down the mountain, he found the Israelites worshiping the golden calf. And he was so angry that he threw the stone tablets of God's Law to the ground and they broke. Moses then ground the idol up into powder and dumped it in the people’s drinking water. And Aaron lied to Moses about what happened saying the calf just appeared out of nowhere… ‘cause that makes sense.

At this point, the people were out of control. So Moses rallied the Levites to his side, and the Levites went through the camp and killed 3,000 of the rioters.

Chapter 33

Later on, Moses goes back up the mountain and continues to have conversations with God. Moses asks God to teach him His ways. And God promised that His presence will always go with them. One day, Moses asked to see God’s “glory.”

“Then the LORD said, ‘There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.’”

Chapter 34

God also commanded Moses to carve out new stone tablets to replace the ones Moses smashed. And God rewrote the Ten Commandments onto Moses’ tablets.

“Then the LORD said: ‘I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you…’”

When Moses returned from the mountaintop, he did not realize that his face was “radiant” from speaking with God. And the people were terrified of him. 
And Moses gave God’s commands to the people. But after Moses stopped talking, he put a veil over his face. And Moses would remove the veil when he would go and talk with God, and put it back on when he talked to the people.

The New Testament says that Moses wore a veil because he didn’t want the people to watch the glory “fade” from him.

Now if you’ve ever seen some old painting and sculptures of Moses… you may have asked yourself… Why does Moses have horns?

Well… funny thing… when Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, he misinterpreted “the radiance” of Moses to say “the horns” of Moses.

This is why art following this time period portrays Moses with horns.

Chapters 35-40

After these narratives, we start to get back into the law again. The text revisits the structure and layout of the Tabernacle… but then we get to learn about this weird thing called the “Ark” …also known as the “Ark of the Covenant”…which is not to be confused with Noah’s Ark.

Now God gave them specific instructions on how to build it. It is a wooden chest (like Noah’s ark). It is overlaid with gold (unlike Noah’s ark). And there were two golden cherubs on top. God told Moses that “the presence of the LORD” would come to rest between those two cherubs. No one was allowed to touch it. It was stored in The Most Holy Place (or Holy of Holies) in the Tabernacle. Later, God told Moses to keep the 10 Commandments inside the ark.

The text again gives detailed descriptions of the design and construction of the Tabernacle.

Within the intricate design, we see Similarities to Genesis 1…

In Genesis, there are seven commands from God to create the universe.
In Exodus, there are seven commands from God to create the Tabernacle.

In Genesis, God lives in His “house” - the universe.
In Exodus, God lives in His "house" - the Tabernacle.

And the God who fills the whole universe chooses to live in a desert tent... within his people... within us.

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”

And the book ends with Moses wanting to go inside the completed Tabernacle… but he can’t… because the holiness of the presence of God is too dangerous for him to go near.