Psalm 144 – O Lord, What Is Man?

German theologian Hermann Gunkel

German theologian Hermann Gunkel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Psalm 144 is one of the 10 psalms that Hermann Gunkel (a German scholar of the Old Testament) classified as “Royal Psalms” because of their subject matter of the king and his role in the worship of God. Other psalms have been placed in this category by other scholars. This one is very similar to Psalm 18 (which is another psalm on Gunkel’s list). The style of both is unquestionably that of David, as the superscription states. But Psalm 18 was written during the time when David was rescued by the Lord “from the hand of Saul” (see that psalm’s superscription), whereas Psalm 144 is generally believed to have been written following the defeat of Absalom.

David praises God as his fortress, stronghold, and deliverer. He is with him in times of battle (verses 1-2, 10-11), and He blesses him and his people with abundance in their daily lives (verses 12-15). Some of the most beautiful, humble, and poetic praise in the chapter occurs in verses 3-4:

O Lord, what is man that you regard him,
or the son of man that you think of him?
Man is like a breath;
his days are like a passing shadow.

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

/Bob’s boy
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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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Week 28 summary posted

Jerusalem walls at Jaffa gate

This week we will finish the Book of Nehemiah, and take a sampling from the final book of the Old Testament, Malachi – the last word from God to His people for 400 years.  That will prepare us for spending the remainder of the year in the New Testament, as we continue our study of God’s plan for salvation, as revealed by the Bible as a whole.

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 28 (July Week 2) of the schedule I am following.  This short PDF document contains condensed comments about Isaiah 11 and 53, Joel 2, Jeremiah 31, and Amos 5, with hyperlinks to the ESV version of each chapter for listening or reading, and joins the summaries for other weeks already posted there.

/Bob’s boy
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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.

Exodus 7 – Moses and Aaron Before Pharaoh

God reassures (and encourages) Moses in verse 1 and is scripting their audience with Pharaoh, as shown in verse 2.  The repeated mention of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart by God in verse 3 and elsewhere is troubling for some people.  This is best understood as further hardening – Pharaoh has already made it very clear that he does not know the Lord (Exodus 5:2) – and Pharaoh has “gods” of his own.  The sense of the word “know” as it is used here is as much about defiance, as it is about being ignorant of His identity.  The plagues to come shortly will not only demonstrate who the real God is (verse 5 “The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord”), they will show those “gods” to be false and powerless.

The Lord does all of this to demonstrate His power to them, and to “the people of Israel.”  Note the repetition throughout these early chapters in Exodus (and later chapters as well) of the theme “I am the Lord” and “you shall know that I am the Lord your God.  The Lord is making clear who He is, and that He is keeping the promises He made to their fathers.  He mentions those promises made to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob together (as in Exodus 6:8) often in these chapters in order to drive this home.

Modern day Nile river

Moses and Aaron present the first sign with staff, as God had instructed.  We do not know if the mimicry of Pharaoh’s “magicians” in verse 11 is some sort of trick or by some evil or demonic supernatural power.  But see in verse 12, that their “parlor games” are swallowed up quite literally by what God has done.  Then, the first plague – turning the water in the Nile to blood – is introduced by Aaron’s staff, as God commanded.  Once more, the mimicry of these “magicians” might be impressive if instead they reversed the effects of the plague – but they cannot truly fight God!  And now, the Egyptian people suffer because of their ruler’s heart (verses 23-24).

(Side note: A very interesting explanation of the Egyptian “gods” relative to their being mocked by each of the 10 plagues in this and following chapters can be found in this link to an article by Dr. David Livingston calledThe Plagues and The Exodus)

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

/Robert
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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.

Exodus 4 – Moses Given Powerful Signs

Moses begins objecting to his mission first by telling the Lord that nobody will believe that He has spoken to him.  God answers this one by showing him signs, and telling him of more that He will show him (verses 2-9).  He continues to object in verse 10 that he is not eloquent in speech, to which the Lord replies that He will be his mouth and teach him what to say (verse 12).  Then, Moses just tells God what is on his mind – he doesn’t want to do it!  He angers the Lord when he asks God to send someone else (verse 13), and He tells Moses that his brother Aaron, the Levite, will speak for him, and that Moses “shall be as God to him” (verse 16).

With those seeking his life dead now (verse 19), God tells him he can return to Egypt; and Moses goes back to let his father-in-law, Jethro, know that he will no longer be tending his sheep.  God sends Aaron “into the wilderness” to meet him, in order to hear what the lord has said.  Aaron and Moses go back and gather the elders, and tell the people all that had happened – showing them the signs.  They believed, and “they bowed their heads and worshiped” (verses 29-31).

Much time can (and has) been spent, and even wasted, puzzling over verses 24-26.  Both the text and its timing can be confusing.   Whenever we come across one of the few passages in scripture that are just that way for us, we always want to ask ourselves the same question.  What about the passage is important as it relates to serving the Lord, and therefore, salvation?  That criteria will usually help us move on.  In this case, all we know for certain is that for whatever reason, Moses had not (at the time that verse 25 refers to) circumcised at least one of his sons.  The important point is that Moses’ house was fully following the Lord’s commandments before he went to Egypt to carry out God’s will.

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.

 

Exodus 3 – The Burning Bush

The last time the scripture recorded God speaking was over 400 years ago to Jacob (Israel) to tell him to go ahead and leave Canaan for Egypt.  In verse 2, “the angel of the Lord appeared” to Moses at Horeb “in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush”.  The ground is holy (verse 5) because of the presence of the Lord, who tells Moses of his plans (verse 8) to deliver “the people of Israel” to the land He promised Abraham would belong to his offspring in Genesis 13:14-17.

When asked His name, the reply in verse 14 “I am who I am” basically means the one who is, always has been, and always will be.  It does not mean that Moses did not know who the one true God is.  This is how Moses is to refer to “the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” when speaking of Him to his people – as well as to the polytheistic people of the land where they are now captive.

In verses 20-22, God tells Moses how he will deliver them with the power of His hand, and the “victory” over their captors will be signified by their “plundering” them (as is done by victorious armies).  But in this case, it will be done simply by the people asking for the treasures!   This emphasizes well that when God shows His power, it is awesome indeed!

(Side note: As this chapter introduces the name of Yahweh (the Hebrew contained no consonants, so the Lord is referred to in the text as “YHWH”), you may be interested in a great article on Gordon Franz’s site “Life and Land Seminars”, entitled “Yahweh Inscription Discovered at Mount Sinai!“.  Further illustration that although genuine secular evidences are plentiful, men need to take care in trying to use them to prove the Bible is true.  His summary at the end of that article is right on the mark!  Bear in mind, however, that I do not know if his opinion of claims about the disputed location of Mt. Sinai is correct.)

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.

 

Preview – “Jumping Forward” to Exodus \ Feb Week 1 Summary Posted

Building Better Bible Habits

Three quick tips for making Bible reading a habit in your life

  • Plan – to keep the “appointment”
    • Set aside a time (maybe even a second, backup time) that is just for you to spend with the Lord each day.  Repetition, as with anything, is the key.  It takes 2-3 weeks of doing something regularly to make it a habit in your life.
  • “Arm” yourself – keep it handy!
    • I love reading from my regular “hold it in my hands” Bible.  But I make use of free Bible apps on my electronic devices, so no matter where I go I can use “down time” to read the Bible whenever I want.
  • Listening counts!
    • If you have never tried audio, give it a shot! It is a very handy way to get your “reading” in.  There are many resources for your PC, eReader, phone or tablet. Many of them pay for great voices to do the reading. YouVersion.com and ESVBible.org are just two of many providers.

Remember, even a little bit of reading any part of the Bible each day is better than none at all.   Hearing from the Lord is what matters!

As for this blog’s “jump” to Exodus:

We will move on from Genesis 46 on Wednesday, all the way to Exodus and the story of its author Moses.  Why skip so many chapters?  As this plan attempts to help us get the story of the Bible as a whole this year, some choices must be made as to where to move forward. That does not mean the chapters we will jump over are unimportant, though.  As the longest book of the Bible in terms of time-span, Genesis covers a couple thousand years; and it is proper to note that from the end of the book (chapter 50) to Exodus 1, about 400 years pass before the Lord’s word to us begins again.  This is because the events of those years were not what the Lord intended for Moses to relate to us for our instruction concerning salvation and the coming of the Messiah and our savior, Jesus Christ.  That story resumes in Exodus 1, where we will take it up on Thursday.

Summing Up

Each weekend, I am now posting a page-length 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 6 (February Week 1) of the schedule I am following.  This short PDF document contains condensed comments about Genesis chapters 29, 30, 31, 32 and 37, with hyperlinks to the ESV version of each chapter for listening or reading, and joins the summaries for other weeks already posted there.

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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.
/Robert

Genesis 43 – Joseph’s Brothers Return to Egypt

The grain that Joseph’s brothers brought back from Egypt has run out.  Jacob (who is referred to as “Israel” more times in this chapter than previously) knows that the brothers must go back for more, but it is Judah who speaks up convinces his father to entrust Benjamin to him (verse 9).  In stark contrast to Reuben, he places the responsibility for the boy’s safety on his own shoulders; and Israel is resigned that there just is no choice, and fears he may not see them again (verse 14).  So he sends them with gifts and a double portion of money, and they return to Joseph.

When they are brought to Joseph’s house, their fears mount (verse 18), but instead of harsh treatment, they are fed and treated well.  Joseph’s love and compassion for his younger brother is great, and Benjamin receives five times the amount of food that his brothers get.  Joseph has plans for little brother.

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

___________________

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 “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 41 – Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams

We come to a lengthy, but crucially important chapter of the Bible – two years after Pharaoh has his chief baker hanged.  Pharaoh has two dreams of his own.  When his wise men were unable to tell him what the dreams mean, his cupbearer (undoubtedly hoping to gain favor) had a sudden improvement in his memory, and told him about Joseph rightly predicting the baker’s fate and his own by interpreting their dreams.  So Joseph is quickly brought out of prison (verse 14), cleaned up, and brought before Pharaoh, who repeats his dreams to him.

Joseph is quick to point out before interpreting (verse 15), that it is God who will give Pharaoh the answers he is looking for, not Joseph himself.  Then throughout the interpretation, he makes it clear that God has shown Pharaoh through these dreams the reality of what He is about to do.  Joseph says that the “doubling” (verse 32) of the dreams (for they both mean the same thing) means that they will be fulfilled soon.  There will be seven years of great abundance, followed by seven years of severe famine.  He tells Pharaoh that he should appoint overseers over the land and take “one-fifth of the produce” from the plentiful years into reserves “so that the land may not perish through the famine” (verse 36).

So begins Joseph’s rise to power, as the Pharaoh decides that he will be that overseer.  He declares that Joseph will be second only to Pharaoh himself in all the land (verse 40).  To complete his acceptance as such in the land, Pharaoh gives him an Egyptian name (Zaphenath-paneah) and the hand of “Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On” in marriage.  It is from this marriage that Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim are born.  We will see these two names figure prominently throughout the Old Testament, as their descendants become the famed “half-tribes” destined to go with the descendants of Joseph’s 11 brothers, as the “Twelve Tribes of Israel” are led by Moses, and finally by Joshua to the Promised Land ~400 years later.

For now though, Joseph’s choice of names for the two in verses 51-52 (the name Manasseh ironically relates to “forget” and Ephraim sounds like the Hebrew for “make fruitful”) reflects his acknowledgement throughout the chapter that God is in control, and that by His power Joseph’s life has been blessed.

The boy who was 17 years old (in Gen 37:2) before his brothers threw him away is 30 years old when he begins with Pharaoh (verse 46); and after the famine began 7 years later, “all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth” (verse 57).

Now, thanks to God, the young Hebrew has just become the second most powerful man in the world!

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

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 “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert