Psalm 25

ps-25.jpgGreetings!

When read in Hebrew, this psalm is an acrostic – each verse begins with a successive letter of the alphabet.  That would have made it easier to memorize.

As my Life Application Bible points out, nearly have the Psalms mention enemies (72 out of 150).  Satan is our ultimate enemy and wants to see us stay away from God or turn from him.

David mentions asks for mercy and forgiveness several times, trusting that it is in God’s nature to grant them.

1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;

2 in you I trust, O my God.

Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.

3 No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame,

but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.

4 Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths;

5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior,

and my hope is in you all day long.

6 Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.

7 Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways;

according to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.

8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.

9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant.

11 For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

12 Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.

13 He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land.

14 The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.

This reminds me of where Jesus says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” and “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  (Matthew 6:33 and 7:7.  People who really seek the one true God will find him. 

15 My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

17 The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.

18 Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.

19 See how my enemies have increased and how fiercely they hate me!

20 Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.

21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God, from all their troubles!

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

The angry Psalms

bible3.jpgSome Psalmists invoked or called down evil or curses.  A classic example is the end of Psalm 137:

V. 8-9: O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us— he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

These imprecatory Psalms, as they are called, make Christians uncomfortable – as they should

Some of these psalmists seem to be venting in the first part of the Psalm, then they seem to calm down as they talk with God and start to see things from his perspective.

Skeptics and Dalmatian Theologians often use them, along with other difficult passages, as a sort of trump-card to say, “Aha!  That would be evil, so this isn’t God’s Word!”  They are wrong.

There are different points of view on this – most of which rigid liberal fundamentalists won’t like – but I think Ben Witherington III sums it up nicely:

I think actually Luther had a very good point when he said that in the prophets God speaks to us, but in the psalms we speak to God, and what is in and on our hearts is truly and truthfully revealed. How then are such psalms God’s Word? The answer is not difficult– they show God holding up a mirror to us so we will see our own hearts and what is in them– ranging from praise to cursing. As James once said– blessing and cursing should not be coming out of the same human mouth or heart for that matter.

The imprecatory psalms then reveal fallen human character, not divine character.

Just because something is in the Bible doesn’t mean that God thinks the action being described is a swell idea.  The Bible is a thoroughly honest book.  The flaws of even the heroes of the faith are laid out for all to see.  There is no revisionist history there. 

For Christians who dismiss these verses as not belonging in the Bible: If those passages trouble you, that is good. But I wouldn’t throw them out by saying that God didn’t want them in the Bible.  Unless, of course, you can do both of the following for me:

1. Use your “still, small voice” – i.e., your hotline to the true word of God – and tell me what God really wanted the Bible to say. Don’t just say that the current version is wrong, but tell me what it should have said. Feel free to add, delete or modify as He guides you.

2. Convince me why I should trust your revelation from God rather than the one that has been tested for 2,000 years or more and rather than any special revelations that other people come up with.

For non-Christians who use these verses to dismiss the Bible: I encourage you to dig deeper. 

Weekly roundup

skydive.jpgParachuting past disability – 89-year-old amputee Fred Winter made his first jump.  I used to attend the same church as Fred.  I last saw him when he was 83 and working out at the YMCA.  He is a truly engaging and inspiring person.

“I didn’t do this for the thrill of it,” he added. “I did it to inspire other people who have lost limbs.”

Check out the video.  This makes me want to sky dive . . . when I’m 89.  I figure if I wait until then I won’t have risked as much of my life.

Opus gets banned for some gentle digs at Islam.  Gotta love the “brave” journalists who made that choice.

How much do the rich pay in taxes?  More than you might think.  See this update by Next Stop Lauderdale.  Here’s a sample: “Among the richest 5% of taxpayers the actual taxes paid equaled 56.2% of all income taxes versus 50.2% had the tax rates not been changed in 2003.”

Think about that: The top 5% pay more than half of the taxes.  Seems like the Lefty politicians should be sending them (us?) thank-you cards instead of villification.

This should be interesting.  Ben Stein has a movie coming out called Expelled, which is:

 . . . a disturbing new documentary that will shock anyone who thinks all scientists are free to follow the evidence wherever it may lead.

Ben Stein, a pop-culture icon who is also a lawyer, an economist, a former presidential speechwriter, author and social commentator, “uncovers a long line of biologists, astronomers, chemists and philosophers who have had their reputations destroyed and their careers ruined by a scientific establishment that allows absolutely no dissent from Charles Darwin’s theory of random mutation and natural selection.

Good analysis of the CNN report on “God’s Warriors.” 

“God’s Warriors” is quite an equivocation in the CNN series because Christian activities are fundamentally different than radical Islam.

Have you patronized blasphemy lately?

Choice

choices.jpgA classic pro-choice sound bite is that it is paternalistic to assume that women are incapable of making their own choices, so abortions should be legal.

That message fails like the rest of pro-choice logic because it assumes what it should be proving: That abortion doesn’t kill another human being.

Should a woman have the “choice” to kill a toddler in her private bedroom along with her doctor and priest because they have consulted each other on this difficult decision? Of course not. So the only question is, “What is the unborn?” If it is not a human being, then no justification is necessary. If it is a human being, then no justification is valid (except to save the life of the mother).

Of course women should have choices – where to go to school, what career to choose, whom and when to marry, etc.  But they shouldn’t have the choice to legally have someone killed.  And neither should the guys or her parents who often pressure them to do so. 

And in many cases “choice” is a myth.  Read about the Unchoice message and Portraits of Coercion.  They contain some important statistics and stories.

There is a better way.  Choose life.

Blessed are the meek

blessed-are-the-meek.jpg

The comedian Dennis Miller had a great piece on Matthew 5:5 (Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth).  He said something like: 

Who cares if the meek inherit the earth?  We’ll just take it right back from them.  What are they going to do about it?  They’re a bunch of meeks!

Of course, the key to the joke was the misunderstanding of what it means to be meek and to inherit the earth.

In the context of the Sermon on the Mount, meekness is submitting to God after we have acknowledged our spiritual bankruptcy and mourned over our sins. 

But meek does not equal weak.  It is power under control.  It is humility and not exercising our power.  By submitting our wills to God we are being meek.  Just as a tamed lion or horse still has all of its power, so do we. 

Meekness does not equal cowardice.  Consider what Christians have done over the centuries for God that took incredible courage.

Meekness does not equal timidity or passivity.  Consider all the exciting and energy-requiring things people do for God – mission trips, sharing the Gospel, teaching, service, etc.

Mid-weekly roundup

Pastor approves cursing your enemies – What an embarrassment.  I wonder if this guy just took a major turn or if he slowly drifted into such doctrinal error?  Ick.

book-burning.jpgI suppose it is a shade better than book burning, but I was surprised at how proudly and openly these Darwinists admitted to hiding Intelligent Design books in bookstores.   Seems rather cowardly to me.  I suppose their monopolies in public and higher education and the free ride by the MSM aren’t enough.  This subset is even afraid to debate in the public square. 

They love to trot out their Galileo story to perpetuate the “Christians are anti-science” canard, but they miss the larger point: It is the abuse of power that helps sustain wrong ideas, not the religious component.  Rationalizing that they must hide “false” ideas from people is symptomatic of their fundamentalist materialist ideology. 

Islam in Europe – this guy does a great job of addressing the cowering politicians there.

Free market principles and abortions were addressed in Freedomnomics.  Supply and demand principles work everywhere.  Legalized abortion makes sex appear to be less risky and less costly, so you get more of it.  And more diseases, more emotional damage, more abortions and, ironically, more out-of-wedlock children.