Psalm 88 – My Soul Is Full of Troubles

1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story - Angel of Grief

1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story – Angel of Grief

As one of the lament psalms, this one is truly written by one whose condition is most pitiable. In a vote for the saddest psalm of the book, Psalm 88 could easily win. Opinions vary as to the origin of the psalm. Some believe it was written by one of the exiles to Babylon during the worst of his times. Others have postulated that it is the song of a dying leper. I read a first-hand account of a visit to a leper colony that occurred over 50 years ago, and I shall spare you the details of that account. Suffice to say that I find it very plausible that such indeed could be the source of the psalm.

One thing to note is that although the psalm begins and ends with the deepest despair and no real hope that things will get any better, the cries made by the psalmist to the Lord are accompanied by faith nevertheless. And the psalmist makes it clear that he will continue in his faith to the bitter end, fully expecting to begin each new day with his prayers to the Lord.

2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” So why is this psalm in the Bible? What teaching or training could such bleak words hold for us today? I believe Derek Kidner offers as good an explanation as I have heard (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Book 16),IVP Academic; Reprint edition (April 17, 2009)). Burton Coffman aptly summarizes Kidner’s words (which I will leave you with) as follows:

“(1) This psalm reveals the truth that Christians may sometimes be subjected to the most unrelenting and terrible misfortunes in passing through this earthly life. It happened to Job; it happened to this psalmist; and it can happen to any child of God.

What a joyful thing it is that… the Christian today has the advantage of the blessed hope of the resurrection ‘in Christ’ and the hope of eternal glory in heaven.

(2) There is the lesson of this psalm that no matter how discouraging and terrible one’s lot in life may be, he should not fail to lay the matter before the Lord in prayer. God always answers the prayers of his saints, even if their specific requests must be denied, as in the case of Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh.’

(3) Our lives upon earth are only a moment compared to the ceaseless ages of eternity; and our attitude during the very worst of experiences should be the same as that of Job, who cried, ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust him’ (Job 13:15)”

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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Job 17 – Where Then Is My Hope?

storm-01In chapter 17, Job is, of course, still at his lowest, and in so many words – a shadow of his former self.  His pain and immense grief having long given way to despair, he tells his friends to speak to him again (verse 10).  But he is certain that they will not offer anything better than they have already (“come on again, all of you, and I shall not find a wise man among you”).

But contrary to how it may seem, Job is not saying that he has given up hope.  Surely, he says, his days are past and his plans are broken off (verse 11).  But he pleads with God to “put up security” for him (verse 3).  Certain that he has closed the hearts of his friends to true understanding, he asks God not to allow their assessment of him to be vindicated in his death.

For then, he says in verse 15, “Who will see my hope?”  Job still has held on to one thing even at this point – his trust in the Lord, that He is just.

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.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Job 16 – God Has Worn Me Out?

In the speech that Eliphaz had finished, the only new invective was that of adding to the list of Job’s supposed sins that he  is also an extreme hypocrite due to his refusal to admit his wickedness.  Job addresses them as the “miserable comforters” they are and declares that if their roles were reversed, he would try to ease their pain instead of making them more miserable.  He would rather they would have just kept silent as when they first arrived.

Depressed_002In the following verses, while he says that God has worn him out, and that his state bears witness of his sins in the eyes of those around him, he seems to have at last concluded that it is not God Himself that has done all of these things to him.  Instead, he says that God has allowed it to happen, and that he has given him up to the hands of the wicked and evil that are tormenting him (verse 11).   And the fact that he still believes that he is not wicked both confuses and saddens him.

How utterly hopeless a feeling it must be to believe that in the face of all that tragedy, not only has mankind turned their backs on him, but the Lord has abandoned him as well.  Now, it sounds like all that he has to look forward to is a few more years just waiting to die.  Job is deep in the clutches of depression, the depth of which we could never really know.

But that is not the whole story here.  In the midst of all this depression and despair, Job not only has hope, he is certain about his assurance.  Job feels that God has abandoned him to evil, yet he speaks with certainty in verses 19-21 of one who will intercede for him: “Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high.” And then: “my eye pours out tears to God, that he would argue the case of a man with God.”

Through it all, Job know through divine inspiration, that it is God Himself that will intercede for him.

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.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Understanding the Cross of Christ – Part 2 (What is Sin?)

This series began in Part One as a search for a more meaningful answer to an aspiring young Christian’s question: “Why did God send His only son to die?”  The short answer “to save us from our sins,” while correct, really only serves to raise more questions.  Whether the question comes from a young person or someone older, I should be able to do better.  Hopefully I will be more prepared to answer that question by the end of this series.

A real understanding of the answer to this question naturally begins with understanding some things about sin.  So as we turn to that subject, the first set of questions we brought up in part one center around just what the problem is with sin.

What is sin anyway?

English: Man's Sin, and God's Promise; as in G...

English: Man’s Sin, and God’s Promise; as in Genesis 3:1-6, 13-15; illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Simply put, sin is that which is contrary to God’s will, His commandments, even that which is against His very nature.  Sin came into the world in what we know as “the fall” way back in Genesis 3.  At that time, man had a practical paradise on earth, as well the blessing of being really close to God.  But despite clear warning, he threw it all away in rebellion against the Lord, and nothing has been the same since that time.  God’s first reference to sin as a word in the scripture appears in Genesis 4, when Cain had become angry.  God had warned him that sin was “crouching at his door,” after which he in fact murdered his own brother.  Since that time, many specific acts that are sinful have been named in the Bible.  Some of those are named by Paul as “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-20.  The fact that this is not a complete list of all sins is obvious, and made clear by the words “and things like these” at the end of the passage.

We know that those things in Paul’s letter to the Galatians are wrong.  We even know that such things as lying and murder are wrong.  But if there is no clearly exhaustive list of sins in the Bible to which we can refer, how should one know what else may be sinful?   The answer is by studying God’s word – the Scriptures.  The more we learn by reading and hearing God’s word, the more we know about what is right, what is wrong, and what is abhorrent to God (Proverbs 6:16-19, for example).   But we usually have to look no further than our own hearts.  God gave us a conscience; and if we truly examine ourselves with honesty, our internal conflict will betray our true knowledge of what God really expects from us (Romans 2:14-16).

English: The Story of Cain and Abel; as in Gen...

English: The Story of Cain and Abel; as in Genesis 4:3-15; illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So why does sin matter so much to God?

God has revealed Himself in many ways to us.  One of those of those ways is by His word. One could write a dissertation on that very subject, but we should know that the Bible declares (among other things) that God is the very definition of goodness and faithfulness, and that He has enduring and steadfast love (Psalm 100:5) – indeed that He is love (1 John 4:8)!  And from His word, we know that He is truth and holiness (Leviticus 19:2) – that He is light, and in Him is no darkness (1 John 1:5).  There is no evil in His character, and He is too pure to tolerate sin or evil (Habakkuk 1:13).

Why should sin matter to us?

We will have more to say about this in Part Three of this series.  But sin is important to us first and foremost because it separates us from God.  That separation is absolutely the worst thing that has ever happened to mankind.  It separated man from God after “the fall” of Genesis 3, and God has been at work to restore that relationship with Him ever since then.  The good news is that He has a plan to do just that very thing; and that hope for us has always pointed to the Cross.

On a Sunday within the next few short weeks, we will present part three of this series with a look at God’s response to sin. as we begin to examine His plan for our salvation and hope for being with Him forever.

/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.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Psalm 33 -The Steadfast Love of the Lord

Psalm 33 is a hymn – a song of praise and prayer to the Lord, by whose word the heavens were made.  And it begins with the reasons for that praise – His word for man, His faithfulness to that word (verse 4), and the fact that He loves righteousness and justice.  The Lord has shown in His word over and over again how faithful He is to the promises He has made to us, and He does love righteousness.  But how fortunate for us that He also loves justice – for the fact that He is just.

201_01_0066_NatureCreationBkgAfter more praise for His creation of the world by His very word (verses 7-9), the psalmist returns to elaborate on that faithfulness and justice (verses 10-12).  Verses 16-17 simply mean that man’s faith in his own power and strength – even in large armies gives him an illusion of safety and a false promise of salvation.  He then points out God’s care for all those who wait upon Him, as He watches over those who fear Him, and see to it they are provided for (verses 18-19).  He finishes with prayer for the love of the Lord, as His people look toward Him with hope.

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.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Psalm 34 – Taste and See That the Lord Is Good

The superscript here refers to David feigning madness in the  presence of Achish, otherwise known by the Philistine title of Abimelech in 1 Samuel 21:10-14 (not to be confused with Ahimelech, the priest of the previous few verses).   Barnes identified the following four paragraphs in the psalm: (1) thanksgiving for deliverance (Psalm 34:1-6); (2) from his experience, he invites others to join in praise (Psalm 34:7-10); (3) special instructions and exhortations for the young to trust in God (Psalms 34:11-14); (4) a general summary of the security, joys, and protection for those who truly rely upon God (Psalms 34:15-22).

Don’t misunderstand verses 17-19:

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

Those who have a contrite heart (crushed in spirit) – those who truly repent instead of continuing to do wrong – will be delivered in the end.  God has no regard for the prayers of those who have no intention of changing their ways.   The righteous will indeed suffer, but their salvation and their comfort is promised.

Of this, Coffman wrote:

“Our Lord himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and he is the ever ready comforter and Saviour of those whose hearts have been broken by the soul’s tragic encounter with the wicked world in which we live.

NSRW Rudyard Kipling

NSRW Rudyard Kipling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The words of Kipling come to mind:

‘The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart.
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget; lest we forget!’

— Rudyard Kipling (The Recessional)”

Regarding verse 8’s first half “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!, Coffman rightly stated: “God has made it possible for men to know whether or not his word is true. The person who receives it, obeys it, and trusts its promises will shortly come to know, Whom he has believed, having tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come…”   Peter repeated it in 1 Peter 2:1-3.  When we dedicate our lives to serving the Lord and continue  to grow in prayer and learning from His word, our lives are better because of the goodness of the Lord and the assurance of His promises.

Of verses 9-10 (“those who seek the Lord lack no good thing”), one must not think that the scripture promises that those who fear the Lord will never have any of their earthly needs or desires lacking in satisfaction, for not all things are good for everyone – nor is what may be good for one person necessarily good for another.  Instead, we trust that the Lord will provide what we truly need.  Just come and taste for yourself!

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.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Cancer – My Neighbor’s Hope for the Cure

Dear friends, family, brothers and sisters,

This year in April, I am joining in with Relay for life in a fundraising effort for which proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society. It is a most worthy cause, and one dear to my heart.  Most of us know of know someone whose life has been touched by cancer. In my family, my son is our latest survivor of lung cancer. In January of 2009 , I lost my father, Bob, who was also my best friend to mouth cancer. The nature of radiation treatment when necessary for the mouth or throat is such that it often requires a “feeding tube” to be surgically inserted to the stomach because the tongue, mouth and throat become too raw and the tongue itself often stops functioning correctly as a result.

On December 23, 2008 after 39 treatments of radiation to the mouth and throat, Dad suffered  a stroke that would claim his life in just a few short days after Christmas.  My mother would become a collateral casualty that same autumn, loneliness staking its claim as much as all of any of several maladies that began to afflict her.

Dad left me the most precious gift a father can give a son – to bring me up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”  And when I strayed, I thank the lord every day for my Dad’s persistence in never giving up on me as a Christian, for I was as lost I could be. God never gave up on me either, though I certainly deserved none of his grace. February 01, 2013 would have been 66 years of wedded bliss for that special couple.  By God’s grace my wife and myself have had over three decades together – and it is their example that has kept our love strong, understanding how important that union is to those who love us as well as to ourselves.

Today, I have a monument just like those who crossed the Jordan so long ago had for their children. It is a tattered envelope in a frame much too large in my Daddy’s handwriting, urging me to return to what he taught me all the days of his life. It is my most cherished worldly possession, for it speaks to me as nobody else will, and when it seems nobody else cares; and it tells me how much he cared for me. One day He will take me in his loving arms and share in the joy of knowing that at last I came home.

I cry for you sometimes Dad, though I never have fear; but Daddy, oh Daddy how I wish you were here. When last we were together, you could no longer speak.  Your mouth was so damaged, your tongue so weak.  Just one more moment would I ask of the Lord – to tell you I love you, but not ask for a word. Though you are weary no longer, and your tongue not so tired, that same twinkling in your eye is all my heart desires.

Please make a donation to support my effort in the Relay for life for the American Cancer Society.  Your donation does so much to help survivors, as well as care-givers, and it tells them that they are not alone in this fight.  You can find my page at http://main.acsevents.org/goto/bobsboy, Then please send an email message to lovethelord@withallyoursoul.com stating the amount of donation you made, in order to receive a special thank you message.

I remain,

/Bob’s boy

Matthew Chapter 22
37And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38“This is the great and foremost commandment. 39“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Please make your donation to this cause in support of my part in this relay at http://main.acsevents.org/goto/bobsboy, Then please send an email message to mailto://lovethelord@withallyoursoul.com to confirm your donation. In that message, you may choose whether to accept a purple “Find the cure” magnet, a purple satin pin, or simply donate the ribbon or magnet back to us out of the goodness of your heart. (pictures below).

The fruits of these efforts do so much to support weary loved ones, caregivers,survivors, and so much more.

Dear Bob’s boy,
I made a donation to in support of you in the amount of $25.00

Purple ribbon $50.00 donation

Purple ribbon $25.00 donation – This satin purple ribbon pin is perfect to give to people who make a donation. Approximately 3 inches tall by 2 inches wide. Each purple ribbon pin has a small gold ribbon in the middle of the pin.

Bob’s boy, I’m super-supporter. I made donation to in support of you in the amount of $100.00 Please send my Purple ribbon magnet to
Purple ribbon magnet - $50 donation.These purple ribbon magnets are approximately 8 inches tall. Perfect for the refrigerator or car. Each purple ribbon magnet says Find The Cure.

Purple ribbon magnet – $50 donation.These purple ribbon magnets are approximately 8 inches tall. Perfect for the refrigerator or car. Each purple ribbon magnet says Find The Cure.

/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. For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Psalm 10 – Why Do You Hide Yourself?

A drawing of balances, or scales, of Bible times. A standard weight was placed on one side, and the object or objects to be weighed were placed on the other side.

A drawing of balances, or scales, of Bible times. A standard weight was placed on one side, and the object or objects to be weighed were placed on the other side.

Psalm 10 is often considered to be an acrostic continuation of Psalm 9, and differences aside there is some merit in that view beginning with the fact that the psalmist in chapter 10 recounts the deeds of the wicked and speaks of his denial of God (verse 4) in the third person.  And he reminds us that the wicked who oppress the poor will “be caught in the schemes that they have devised”. – always an abomination to the Lord.  God has always cared deeply about the poor (Micah 6:9-11, Leviticus 19:9-11).

It is not the psalmist himself that believes the wicked will continue to prosper forever, nor that God himself does not know , for he says of their attitude in verse 11 “He says in his heart, ‘God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.'”.

But God does see and he will mete out his vengeance one day, just as HE has before in His own time”

 “O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”

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.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Revelation 21 – The New Jerusalem

With all of the imagery amid these chapters, just what is meant by a new heaven and a new earth is highly debated.  Many see it as a literal renewal of earth after the old has passed away.  But much about what is spoken of in this chapter simply does not fit into such a notion.  2 Peter 3:10-13 affirms that the earth and the heavenly bodies will be destroyed – burned up  – after the judgment.  Just how this imagery of a new heaven and a new earth does fit into the coming of the faithful to heaven is uncertain.  What is certain is that there will be a literal new home for the faithful that is so wonderful than our minds probably could not grasp it without the imagery contained here that is full of references to precious metals and jewels and such.

Alexander building a wall against Gog and Magog

Alexander building a wall against Gog and Magog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No sun or moon will be needed because “the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”  No temple is there because God will be in the midst of his faithful, and they shall be His people.  This is an echo of the prophetic language in Isaiah 60:19-20.  The description of John being carried away in the Spirit to the high mountain to view the new Jerusalem is reminiscent of the time after “Gog and Magog’s” destruction Ezekiel 38-39, when Ezekiel was transported to “a very high mountain” (Ezekiel 40:2-3) to see the future temple of God.  The measurements done this time are enormous (a stadia was about 185 meters) and all are multiples of twelve; and the number is repeated in other descriptions here as both the twelve apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel are mentioned.  Both of these groups were important, after all, in both the old covenant and the new covenant.

The last word of comfort in this chapter for these first century Christians – and for us – is that once in heaven, no longer will they have to live among those who do evil in the world or, most especially, do evil to them, as verse 27 says “…nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

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.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.