Psalm 85 – Revive Us Again

Daberath, a city in the tribal territories of Issachar and Naphtali near Mount Tabor (background); probably the site of the defeat of the Canaanite king Jabin's army under Sisera (Judges 4). Barak gathered an army here to fight Sisera, and it is one traditional site of the Transfiguration.

Daberath, a city in the tribal territories of Issachar and Naphtali near Mount Tabor (background); probably the site of the defeat of the Canaanite king Jabin’s army under Sisera (Judges 4). Barak gathered an army here to fight Sisera, and it is one traditional site of the Transfiguration.

The vast majority of commentators and scholars attribute this psalm to a post-exilic writing, but that seems hardly to be a given.  Verse 1 is most often used as the basis of that assumption, which in most translations reads “Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the captivity of Jacob.” But the ESV translates it as “…you restored the fortunes of Jacob.” Even if the former translation is taken as correct, the sentence structure makes such a conclusion suspect in the first place.

Secondly, even if it does refer to a restoration from captivity, that does not preclude an earlier occurrence of some sort of captivity. As Barnes points out, it likely refers to bondage in Egypt in addition to other instances – which could include any number of such times written about in the Book of Judges, for example. Also, the next few verses indicate that the psalmist is praying for the Lord to restore their fortunes again, and to no longer be angry with them – indicating that their fortunes are once again not so great in the present:

Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us!
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?

The plea the psalmist makes for God to revive his people probably means more than to rejuvenate them – probably to strengthen and make them powerful again (rather than the powerlessness that they feel and are experiencing at present). The remainder of the psalm expresses confidence that the Lord will do just that, and suggests that there are many saints – many of those who are of a penitent heart ready to serve. The psalmist prays for those people not to return to their folly:

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land

The lesson in this psalm for us today is that when we are in desperate times, we need to remember that God cares for us, and that he will deliver the righteous. But our patience for God acting in His time, rather than in our own, must be strengthened along with our faith.

Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
Yes, the Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Book of Judges – The Ultimate “Vicious Cycle”

English: Historiated initial from the Stavelot...

English: Historiated initial from the Stavelot Bible, Book of Judges, depicting Yael killing Sisera. Folio 84. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If we add up the times listed in the Book of Judges for the periods of oppression and the periods of rest, we come up with about 410 years. But many of the events of the book overlap in time, occurring in different locations. The Exodus is most reliably believed to have occurred around 1450, followed by 40 years of wandering. We also know that King Saul’s reign began about 1050 BC. So, a period of 300 -350 years is probably more accurate for events of this book.

Any time there is a serious discussion of the Book of Judges, the term “Cycle of the Judges” comes up. This refers to the pattern that is repeated over and over throughout the book. That pattern is as follows: (1) the people do what is evil in the sight of God, (2) God allows them to be oppressed, (3) they cry out to God, (4) God sends a judge to deliver them, (5) there is a period of rest, before the apostasy begins the cycle again.

English: Delilah betraying Samson, and turns h...

English: Delilah betraying Samson, and turns him over to the Philistines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Judges 1:27-36 tells the story of failure after failure of various tribes to obey the Lord’s command to drive out all of the Canaanites that still dwelled in their allotted lands. Then in Judges 2:1-4, God’s tells them of the consequences for their disobedience “So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” It was a defining fact of the history of the Israelites. The cycle began with a generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel” (chapter 2:10). Abandoning the Lord, they sank into idolatry and other great evils.

The judges that God “raised up” to deliver the people during these cycles were not perfect servants of God. Indeed, in many cases, some could behave in very ungodly manners, and the Scripture shows them “warts and all.” But the Lord guided them for His purposes with the Holy Spirit, and they accomplished what He needed them to get done. Below are the names of the judges and their places of appearance in the book. The story of Samson is the longest, the most famous, and the most understood. Many people actually believe that Samson’s strength came from his hair, and that he lost that strength due to it being cut. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding fuels the view of his story as some sort of fable. For perhaps some better insight, see this previous post.

Othniel (Judges 3: 7-11)
Ehud (Judges 3:12-30)
Shamgar (Judges 3:31)
Deborah (Judges 4-5)
Gideon (Judges 6-8)
Tola (Judges 10:1-2)
Jair (Judges 10:3-5)
Jephthah (Judges 10:6-12:7)
Ibzan (Judges 12:8-10)
Elon (Judges 12:11-12)
Abdon (Judges 12:13-15)
Samson (Judges 13-16)

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Judges 16 – Samson and Delilah

Samson destroys the temple

Samson destroys the temple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Lord was with him, His gift to Samson was great strength.  Obviously, it wasn’t accompanied by much wisdom.  His blindness to coming betrayal, first by his wife and now by Delilah (verses 6, 10, 13, 15) seems to be a foretaste of the Philistines’ treatment of his eyes (verse 21).  Pair this naivety with his continued lack of regard for the Lord’s commandments, and his confidence in his own might, and you see the path his downfall.

Samson is, as usual, out of control from the start of the chapter. He visits a common prostitute in Gaza in verse one.  The Gazites, discover he is there and lay an ambush for him, but he just pulls the city gates out of the ground and carries them away.  The gates would be about two stories high with posts set deep in the ground that he pulled up with his brute strength.

When he allowed his hair to be cut, it broke the last of his Nazirite vows, and the Lord was no longer with him.  But in verse 20, he did not expect that to ever happen.  He had always done as he pleased before., so his capture surprised him.  His prayer in verse 28 and God’s will to stir the Israelites are what returned his strength long enough to bring the house down on himself and 3,000 of the Philistines.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Judges 14 – Samson’s Marriage

Samson kills a lion with his bare hands

In verses 1-3, Samson decides he must have a Philistine woman he saw for his wife.  This was expressly forbidden in Deuteronomy 7:1-3.  In verses 8-9. he violates his Nazirite vow (Numbers 26) by touching the lion’s carcass.  As for his wedding feast, the Hebrew word in verse 10 is “mishteh” which denotes a feast with much drinking.  If Samson participated, such would be another violation of his vow.

Samson right away begins to show disregard not just for his Nazirite vow, but for the will of God in general. Unfortunately, it will not get any better, as we will see in the next two chapters.  So why was he chosen even before birth in chapter 13?  Why was the spirit of the Lord with him so much of the time, such as when he tore the lion to pieces with his strength (verses 5-6)?  Verse 14 gives us the answer – God was going to use him against the Philistines in his own way. This time, the people were not crying out at their plight – at  least not yet.  They needed someone to stir things up – and to wake them up!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Judges 6 – Midian Oppresses Israel

Chapter 6 is the story of Gideon, the reluctant and rather timid judge.  This time, the Israelites are overpowered by the Midianites.  Verses 3-4 tell us that whenever they planted crops, the Midianites and Amalekites would come and “devour” the land, leaving no sustenance – not even livestock.  They hid in caves and were terrified.  But this time when they cried out to the Lord, He sent a prophet to rebuke them for their apostasy (verses 7-10).  And we soon learn the depths that their apostasy and idol worship have reached are great.  It is no wonder the anger of God is burning against them!

Gideon tears down the Baal altars and the
wooden Asherah idols (Judges 6:25-27)

The angel of the Lord then appears to Gideon, the son of Joash the Abiezrite.  Abiezer was part of the tribe of Manasseh that settled west of the Jordan River (Joshua 17:1-2).  Gideon shows a low opinion of himself in verse 15, but asks for “a sign that it is you who speak with me.”  The angel of the Lord gives him one in verse 21, and vanishes.  Afterward, the Lord commands him to take his father’s bulls and pull down the altar of Baal that his father has, and the Asherah beside it.   The Asherah probably refers to sacred wooden poles erected to worship the goddess Asherah.  He was too afraid of his family and the others to do in the daytime, so he took 10 servants and destroyed it by night.

When the men of the town found what he had done the next day, they wanted to kill him.  This is a chilling illustration of how low they have gone.  But Joash intervenes in verse 31 and tells them that they should let the “powerful ” Baal contend for himself.  Gideon, clothed with the spirit of the Lord (verse 34) called out the Abiezrites, sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali.  But he asks for another sign – the sign of the fleece in verses 36-40 – not once, but twice, clearly knowing he was wrong in testing the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:16).  But God lets him have it anyway, maybe from knowing the boy was weak and needed confidence to perform such a great task.  The task was for God to save Israel by his hand.

Is he ready now?

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Judges 3 – The Lord Raises Up Judges

The cycle that is repeated throughout the book of Judges is in full swing.  The cycle is:

(1) The people do what is evil in the sight of God (verses 7, 12)

(2) God allows them to be oppressed (verses 8, 12-14)

(3) they cry out to God (verses 9, 15)

(4) God sends a judge to deliver them (verses 9, 15)

(5) There is a period of rest, before the apostasy begins the cycle again.

Illustration to The Holy Bile, Judges, chapter...

Illustration to The Holy Bile, Judges, chapter 3. Eglon assassinated by Ehud. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Baal worship referred to in the scripture included a system of sacred prostitutes – “priestesses” of Baal.  In this chapter, the first judge was Othniel, who delivered Israel from Cushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia.  The second was Ehud, a left-handed man, who hid his sword bound to his right thigh under his clothes (verse 16).  He tricked Eglon, the king of Moab into being alone with him and killed him (verses 20-23).  Then he led the people to defeat the Moabites.  This time, the period of rest lasts 80 years.  The third judge is Shamgar, mentioned briefly in verse 31.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Who Were the Judges? \ April Week 1 Summary Posted

Mosaic of the 12 Tribes of Israel. From Givat ...

Mosaic of the 12 Tribes of Israel. From Givat Mordechai synagogue wall in Jerusalem. Top row, right to left: Reuben, Judah, Dan, Asher Middle: Simeon, Issachar, Naphtali, Joseph Bottom: Levi, Zebulun, Gad, Benjamin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow, we will learn that Caleb’s younger brother Othniel, mentioned in Judges 1:13, will become one of the judges. But for now, the people have no leader.  But what was a judge?  generally, these were people called by the Lord to administer justice, and to drive out the adversaries of the people – often given miraculous power for doing so.  Many of them served purposes almost entirely military in nature.  In order of appearance in the book, the oppressors of the people at various times are Mesopotamians, Moabites, Philistines, Canaanites Midianites, Ammonites, and then the Philistines.  The book tells us that the judges came from at least 8 of the twelve tribes of Israel (Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, Gilead-Manasseh, Zebulun, Dan).

Here are the judges in order of the scripture:

Othniel (ch 3:7–11)           – written time for oppression and period of rest was 48 years (Judges 3:8,11)
Ehud (ch 3:12–30)            – written time for oppression and period of rest was 98 years (Judges 3:14, 30)
Shamgar (ch 3:31)             – written time for oppression and period of rest is unknown.
Deborah (chs. 4–5)           – written time for oppression and period of rest was 60 years (Judges 4:3,5:31)
Gideon (chs. 6–8)             – written time for oppression and period of rest was 47 years (Judges 6:1, 8:28)
Tola (ch 10:1–2)                – written time for oppression and period of rest was 23 years (Judges 10:2)
Jair (ch 10:3–5)                 – written time for oppression and period of rest was 22 years (Judges 10:3)
Jephthah (ch 10:6–12:7)  – written time for oppression and period of rest was  24 years (Judges 10:8, 12:7)
Ibzan (ch 12:8–10)            – written time for oppression and period of rest was 7 years (Judges 12:9)
Elon (ch 12:11–12)             – written time for oppression and period of rest was 10 years (Judges 12:11)
Abdon (ch 12:13–15)         – written time for oppression and period of rest was 8 years (Judges 12:14)
Samson (chs. 13–16)         – written time for oppression and period of rest was 60 years (Judges 13:1, 15:20, 16:31)

The pattern of the book of Judges is:

(1) The people do what is evil in the sight of God
(2) God allows them to be oppressed
(3) They cry out to God
(4) God sends a judge to deliver them
(5) There is a period of rest, before the apostasy begins the cycle again.

Summing Up

Each weekend, I am now posting a small PDF of one week of chapter summaries (on the website’s “Summaries” page), current to the beginning of the previous week.  I have posted the summary for Week 14 (April Week 1) of the schedule I am following.  This short PDF document contains condensed comments about Joshua chapters 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, with hyperlinks to the ESV version of each chapter for listening or reading, and joins the summaries for other weeks already posted there.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Judges 2 – Israel’s Disobedience

In chapter 2, the apostasy of the people is made explicit, and the angel of the Lord’s words to them brings fear, tears, and sacrificing.  But unfortunately, not true repentance, as they return to their idol worship of Baal and Ashtaroth (verses 11-13).   The repetition  of the death of Joshua serves to explain the behavior That prevented them from completing the task of driving out the Canaanites.  The problem was not just a lack of faith, but a lust for the wickedness and the immoral and often perverse behavior that accompanied idolatry.

Verses 11-23 present a summary of the book of Judges, and verse 11 sums it up very well – “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”   God would no longer drive the Canaanites out for them, but leave them as a snare and a test for them.  Indeed, verse 15 says that “Whenever they marched out, the hand of the Lord was against them for harm, as the Lord had warned, and as the Lord had sworn to them.”

Their condition was miserable.  How could a nation that had been honored to have the visible presence of the one true God among them, and witness His power with their own eyes turn to bow down to statues and carved images?  Judges is the illustration of our own ability to turn away from God and worship immorality when His presence is made perfectly clear in everything we see (Romans 1:18-21).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Judges 1 – The Continuing Conquest of Canaan

The book of Judges opens by relating successes by the tribes of Judah and Simeon in driving out the Canaanites, but ends with verse after verse of failures to complete the task.  Notice in verses 27 and following that the scripture says that they “did not drive out” the Canaanites from their tribe’s allotted territories, but left them dwelling among them – in some cases using them for forced labor.

Othniel Ben Kenaz is the first of the Biblical...

Othniel Ben Kenaz is the first of the Biblical Judges. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This refusal to obey the Lord’s command is the key to all the trouble that will follow; and God through Moses and Joshua warned them over and over that any Canaanites they leave to dwell with them would be a snare and a thorn to them, leading them into apostasy; and that the Lord would do to them as He was doing to the Canaanites as a result (see Exo 34:10-17, Num 33:51-56, Deut 7:1-5).  Notorious worshipers of Baal and other false gods, the remnant Canaanites would influence the weak of faith to do the same.

Caleb’s younger brother Othniel, mentioned in verse 13 will become one of the judges. But for now, the people have no leader.  But what was a judge?  generally, these were people called by the Lord to administer justice, and to drive out the adversaries of the people – often given miraculous power for doing so.  Many of them served purposes almost entirely military in nature.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Here Come the Judges \ March Week 4 Summary Posted

Gideon is a judge appearing in the Book of Jud...

Gideon is a judge appearing in the Book of Judges, in the Bible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We will close the book of Joshua on Wednesday, and begin the Book of Judges.  Deborah, Samson, the other judges, and the incredible patience of the Lord with His people will be the topics of this book, as we march through to begin the book of Samuel by month end.

Summing Up

Each weekend, I am now posting a small PDF of one week of chapter summaries (on the website’s “Summaries” page), current to the beginning of the previous week.  I have posted the summary for Week 13 (March Week 4) of the schedule I am following.  This short PDF document contains condensed comments about (Num 21:4-9 & Num 25), Num 32, Joshua 1, 2, and 3, with hyperlinks to the ESV version of each chapter for listening or reading, and joins the summaries for other weeks already posted there.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.