November 29, 2008 § 1 Comment
Two years or so ago, I first heard that the Ark of the Covenant had been found in Israel, near Jerusalem. I wasn’t sure quite what to make of it, and I figured that time would offer more evidence that would help sway the balance in either direction.
For me, that time has arrived. I now believe that it’s quite likely that the Ark of the Covenant was found, deep in a cave near Jerusalem, underneath the very spot where Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins. From what I understand, Jesus’ very blood came down from the cross and found its way, through a crack in the ground, to the very Mercy Seat of the Ark, where it acted as an atonement for our sins. The crack was formed when the ground shook at His death, and then closed again when He was resurrected and the earth shook once more. I’m not sure how to put this, other than it makes sense to me. It’s like the pieces of a Biblical puzzle are coming together.
I offer the following information for you to consider. You don’t even need to be sure of what you see or hear at this point. I believe that we will get more evidence in the near future to support or refute these findings, and at that time, the evidence will be conclusive.
The person who I believe quite possibly saw the Ark of the Covenant was Mr. Ron Wyatt, an American from Tennessee who conducted an extensive search for it in a cave system known as Zedekiah’s Cave, near Jerusalem. He financed all his trips to Israel himself, out of his own savings, and that’s what makes it more authentic for me. After his death in 1999, an organization that he formed, named Wyatt Archeological Research, continued his work. I can’t vouch for that organization, since some of the things they’ve been doing since then seem to refute Wyatt’s original findings.
There is, as is expected, plenty of controversy surrounding Wyatt’s work. After all, the Ark of the Covenant would be a very important find, of tremendous Biblical significance. His Wikipedia page doesn’t inspire confidence. Then again, there are plenty of people who support him, some of which refute the claims made on Wikipedia and say that any attempts to correct his Wikipedia page are always erased. What I can say is that to me, Ron Wyatt seems like an honest, God-fearing man (from the videos I’ve seen of him), and he looks like he truly believed what he found was the genuine article, so I think he deserves to be heard, and his evidence considered.
Certainly, what I’d like to see happen is that the Ark of the Covenant (if indeed it is the Ark of the Covenant) is revealed for the world to see. Perhaps there are good reasons to keep it hidden still, such as the possibility of a holy war erupting over it — I don’t know — but all I can say is that all this secrecy fuels speculation, and it’s not right.
This video from David Gates gives a good overview of the Ark of the Covenant find. Watch it from minute 10 to minute 15.
There are many videos of Ron Wyatt on YouTube. I chose two of them to show you here. First, there is a video of Wyatt made in 1999 (the year when he died), where he talks about the Ark of the Covenant. The second video is also of Wyatt, and here he talks about the dried blood sample that he recovered from the Ark, and of what he found when he sent it to a lab for analysis.
What I find amazing about the blood analysis, if true, is that Jesus’ blood only had 24 chromosomes, 23 from his mother, and a single chromosome from a divine source. It certainly make sense, from both a Biblical and scientific view, if you believe that Jesus was conceived through the Holy Spirit, and not through a sexual act.
Apparently there are people who are actively trying to discredit Ron Wyatt. Some have even gone as far as try try and destroy his archeological findings. His two sons gave a talk in Israel recently, and they show, first hand, how others have gone out of their way to destroy what Wyatt has found there. Some are even trying to extract the Ten Commandments out of the Ark, for reasons unclear to me.
Ron Wyatt’s sons, Danny and Ronnie, also talked about the six Levites that were sent in to retrieve the Ark after the Israeli authorities were informed of the find. Apparently, all of them died when they approached it, and Wyatt was called in to retrieve their bodies. Their deaths made front page news at the time, though the official story said they had died by driving their car into a field of landmines.
Look, I’m not saying Wyatt’s findings are conclusive. Wyatt could have been overzealous, and, desiring to find what he had been searching for, he could have glossed over certain things that might have led him somewhere else. Who knows… But what if what he found really is the Ark of the Covenant? I think that possibility deserves our consideration, especially when you consider that his findings have spurred so much discussion, and have convinced so many others to go and search for themselves in those areas.
There are many agendas at play here. Some, are trying to find the truth. Some are trying to hide it. And others are trying to destroy it. And that’s what I think makes this seem like the genuine article. You know the old saying — where there’s smoke, there’s bound to be fire. There wouldn’t be so much controversy over this if there weren’t some truth to it.
November 15, 2008 § 1 Comment
During this past presidential election, I saw, beyond any doubt, how the right has managed to marry their cause to religion, and how they continually played that angle for the past couple of years. Churches and religious organizations told their members, in no uncertain terms, that they should vote for so-and-so because they’re Republican, and they’re going to stand up for “what’s right”.
It didn’t, and it doesn’t, seem to matter that’s what’s being put forth as “what’s right” isn’t necessarily what the Bible says is right. No, as long as you can marry a candidate to the church, you can rally the troops and call for jihad against the infidel that dares to go against your cause. It doesn’t even matter if that choice candidate of yours is far from being a real Christian. As long as they secure the endorsement of the right, church members are bullied into voting for them.
This is due, in part, to the two-party system that dominates US politics. When your choice for a candidate boils down to A or B, it’s incumbent upon A and B to polarize you and make your choice easier. Moderates are not what this two-party system wants. It wants frothing leftists or rightists that can be counted on for full support. Other countries where governance is shared among multiple parties tend to be more centrist, more moderate. Election winners have to build coalitions, otherwise they get nothing done. Here in the US, extreme views seem to be par for the course, and are encouraged from pulpits everywhere, particularly in the Bible Belt states.
Another reason for this governmental fallacy is the desire to bring religious views to bear upon political/public policy, when in fact the two should be kept completely separate. Sure, be a Christian in your private life. Go to church, pray to God, read your Bible, but don’t make the mistake of wanting others to do the same. Don’t force people to believe what you believe. Don’t legislate your beliefs. Civic matters should be kept completely separate from religious matters. That’s the principle of separation of church and state at work.
As a citizen of the US, I think there should be equal rights for homosexuals and they should be allowed to marry one another if they so choose. That’s because I choose to keep my beliefs to myself, and I realize that from a civic point of view, everyone is entitled to the same rights as citizens of the same country. One of the most important principles of our Christian faith is that of free will, which says everyone is entitled to choose whether to serve God or not. Unfortunately, others don’t feel the same way, and want to legislate their religion, not realizing that is one very slippery slope toward persecution and injustice on a grand scale.
Those of you who think all this has somehow gone away just because Obama won the election are in for a surprise. The past couple of years has been a warm-up exercise. There is some nasty stuff afoot, stuff that will do away with some of our most basic religious freedoms. Misguided churches are gearing up everywhere in order to polarize their members and begin what I would call a campaign of religious oppression against anyone that does not agree with they way they see life and government.
One of the things that this misguided religious right plans to get passed is a Sunday Law, under the guise of a “National Day of Rest”. This is not a new concept, but this time, its execution will be enforced more severely. The concept has been bubbling up in discussions lately, and unfortunately, no solid proof (other than opinion from groups and organizations) has emerged that something is in the works, but I, along with others, believe there are things going on that are laying the groundwork for it. You can choose to believe me or not on this one, and if I’m wrong, I’ll eat my crow, but I don’t think I am — time will tell for sure.
In the past, Blue Laws were passed to force people to worship on Sundays, and thankfully, they were repealed. Now, a whole groundswell of support is building up from Protestants and Catholics alike. What will make this attack on our collective religious freedoms more effective is they’re working together, thanks to the decades-old ecumenical movement, which I wish did not exist. Various reasons will be offered in its support, such as the economy, the environment, our societal morals, lifestyle choices, etc.
This is a small sample of sources I dug up this afternoon:
- Pope and Christian Coalition met to discuss the Sunday Law and other topics
- Some Democrats are calling for a National Day of Rest
- Christian Coalition proposes National Day of Rest
- Catholic church urges National Day of Rest (this is something that Pope John Paul said numerous times, and his successor wants to see it come to fruition)
This small sample of articles is by no means representative. I invite you to search for the terms “Sunday Law” and “National Day of Rest” on your search engine of choice and see what comes up. Or, you could do nothing but wait and see. I don’t think you’ll have to wait for long.
A few months ago, a certain number of closed-door meetings were held between high-ranking members of Protestant and Catholic churches when the Pope visited the US. No one can say what went on during those meetings, but given that both sides of the table want to see a “National Day of Rest”, it’s not impractical to assume that it was one of the items discussed there.
I for one was shocked when I heard President Bush exclaim that he “saw God in [the Pope's] eyes”. Wasn’t he supposed to be Protestant? Has he forgotten that countless people died, by sword, torture, or burning, in order to win the right to worship God apart from the Catholic Church? That’s not something you forget, unless you have a different agenda.
Some may say we shouldn’t worry about Bush, because he’s a lame-duck president. To that, I say this so-called “lame duck” is signing bill after bill while he still can, while he’s still in office. Also, let’s not forget all the stuff he did during his two terms in office. Will he try to sign some sort of National Day of Rest legislation into law before he leaves the White House on 1/20/09? I don’t know, but it is possible. Even if Bush doesn’t sign such legislation, that’s not to say it won’t happen. We have a good combination of economic, societal and religious factors that are creating a situation where a Sunday Law can pass, especially one couched in such nice terms as a “National Day of Rest”…
What bothers me in all this is that somehow forcing people to worship on Sunday is supposed to make everything better. Why? How? It’s ridiculous when you think about it.
Never mind that the Bible, when you study it, says quite clearly that Sabbath is the proper day of worship. Never mind that the Bible talks about religious tolerance. Never mind that other religions worship on the Sabbath or on Friday. Never mind that forcing people to worship the way you want them to worship never works out. Never mind that God doesn’t force people to believe in Him, but He gives them free will to choose what to do with their lives. Never mind that the US is a country whose very foundations were built on the precepts of religious freedom. No, somehow legislating a day or worship will make everything better. And of course, Sunday is picked because it is the day when most people in this part of the world go to church (or would go to church, if they did go to church) even though it is not the Biblical day of worship.
In effect, when that law gets passed, and it will get passed in the near future, because the Bible prophesies that it will get passed, what will have happened is that government will have effectively entered into an unholy marriage with religion. It means a return to the days of religious persecution that have haunted our collective histories as countries of this world. Sure, the National Day of Rest sounds good, but make no mistake about it, it is, at its core, as evil as the Inquisition. It is the start of religion once more dictating how governments will behave.
Don’t believe me? Read up on Bible prophecy and make up your own mind. I recommend the following resources:
November 14, 2007 § 4 Comments
There is a passage in Romans chapter 7 that had a huge impact on me during a recent reading. I have to share it, because I think it represents perfectly every Christian’s struggle to stay close to God and obey His Law. The words resonated deeply with me, even though I read that passage plenty of times before. Perhaps I was only now ready to truly understand its message.
I’m going to quote from the New Jerusalem Bible, whose translation of this passage is superb. Here is what the apostle Paul writes in verses 14 through 25 of that chapter:
“We are well aware that the Law is spiritual: but I am a creature of flesh and blood sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand my own behaviour; I do not act as I mean to, but I do things that I hate.
While I am acting as I do not want to, I still acknowledge the Law as good, so it is not myself acting, but the sin which lives in me.
And really, I know of nothing good living in me — in my natural self, that is — for though the will to do what is good is in me, the power to do it is not: the good thing I want to do, I never do; the evil thing which I do not want — that is what I do. But every time I do what I do not want to, then it is not myself acting, but the sin that lives in me.
So I find this rule: that for me, where I want to do nothing but good, evil is close at my side. In my inmost self I dearly love God’s Law, but I see that acting on my body there is a different law which battles against the Law in my mind. So I am brought to be a prisoner of that law of sin which lives inside my body.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death? God — thanks be to Him — through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So it is that I myself with my mind obey the Law of God, but in my disordered nature I obey the law of sin.”
Wow! If I had tried to put my own struggle into words, it wouldn’t have been half as good or half as honest as this. Aren’t Paul’s words so true? It seems the more we want to do good, the worse we fare — our lives are then constantly assaulted by either internal weaknesses or external factors that exploit our weaknesses, and we end up doing worse, never coming close to the heavenly standard. Then again, we have some days when we feel really close to God, and things go just great.
One thing I’ve learned, is to not trust my feelings. They come and go, they’re up and down, and if you rely on them, you can end up happy one day and depressed the next, depending on how things go. The important thing is to keep your faith, and make a fresh effort every day to stay close to God. Whether you succeed or not is not for you to judge, but for God. I think that if we keep trying to do what’s right in our walk with God, and have faith that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice sufficed to forgive our sins, God will supply our poor record with the grace we will need to be counted as saved.
We must keep trying, persist, and struggle against that human nature of ours, and we will succeed with God at our side!
October 5, 2007 § 1 Comment
This psalm is a warning to the wicked rulers and judges of Israel, who, in the writer’s own words, “give unjust judgments and uphold the prestige of the wicked” (verse 2). It addresses its audience in the voice of God.
It starts by portraying God as sitting in the “divine assembly” and giving judgment, and verses 2 through 7 relay His message to those judges and rulers. Verse 7 in particular is quite clear in its verdict: “You will die as human beings do, as one man, princes, you will fall.” The writer ends the psalm by entreating God to arise and “judge the world”.
It is quite clear that the writer was frustrated with the rulers of that time. As we read through Israel’s history, we find that problems arose with the judges and rulers quite often. Being a theocracy, with its judges and rulers supposedly elected by God, it was quite hard to speak out against them. All one could do was to pray. This psalm is one such prayer. Only prophets dared speak out, and when they did, they risked imprisonment or death — the Bible attests to this.
This psalm underlines the problems inherent in theocracies. When rulers can hide behind religion, they can use it as a powerful excuse to commit crimes against humanity and to trample upon people’s rights. The concept of separation of church and state is a truly enlightened one, and should continue to be the standard for all the governments out there.
We don’t have to look very far back in our history to see just how disastrous it can be to allow the church to control the state. The Dark Ages weren’t called dark for just any reason. That’s when the papacy, through the church, controlled all of the governments in what was then the “civilized” world. Any view contrary to the church was squashed. Kings were deposed for opposing the popes, and corruption, vice and greed ruled freely. When salvation could be easily bought from priests, there was no incentive to lead righteous lives. That’s also when horrible instruments of torture were invented and perfected by the Inquisitors. It took a secular power — that of Napoleon — to shake things up and start the beginning of a new world order.
I tell you, in as much as I am a Christian, I’d rather have a secular government that cannot use God as an excuse for their corruption and criminal behavior.
November 24, 2006 § 1 Comment
I can’t help thinking as I read this psalm that the author is praying in vain. It’s like crying for spilled milk. The deed is done, you can’t bring back the old times. Focus on the future, and work in the present with a view of that future.
You may wonder why I’m so cruel in my interpretation. After all, this is a heartfelt prayer. It’s a very good prayer. It’s also meant for a good purpose. What righteous Jew of that time wouldn’t desire to recover from a severe invasion, and to restore God’s temple? The author asks some very good questions: “God, why have You finally rejected us…” and “Is the enemy to insult Your name for ever?”. He entreats God to “Look to the covenant!”, etc.
All of that is useless. Let’s remember that God is constant. He would not have gone back on His Word. He never does. If you doubt that, then you don’t really believe that His Son, His Only Son, changed into a man and lived among men on the earth for 33 and a half years, only to die a terrible death on the cross for all our sins. God sticks to His promises. You can bank on that. But He will use that same standard when looking at us, and will not tolerate it when we go back on our promises to Him. The author of this psalm asks God to “Look to the covenant”. Has he forgotten that the Jews were supposed to uphold their part of the covenant as well? He couldn’t have been blind and deaf. He knew what was going on in Israel at that time if God allowed His temple to be rased and the country conquered.
I don’t think the faithfulness of the Jews to God was legendary. On the contrary, they were habitual backsliders. There are countless instances in the Bible when they gave into idol worship and committed other heinous acts. When you do those things time and time again, God will not stand for it. We know the Israelites were given into captivity several times, and that the temple was also rased on a few occasions. The NJB footnotes suggest that it was Nebuchadnezzar’s army that sacked the temple this time. It’s quite probable, and if that’s the case, we can easily tell what crimes against God took place in Israel. It was during the reign of Jehoiakim and his offspring, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. See Jeremiah, chapters 17 through 25, and Ezekiel chapter 12 for the historical details.
If the Israelites had been faithful, they could have rightfully expected Jerusalem to stand forever (Jeremiah 17:24-27). But in view of their disgusting apostasy and crimes, could they really expect any leniency from God? They simply got what they deserved, and no amount of crying and fasting was going to change it. They were going to be in the situation they’d created until God decided they’d had enough.
It is possible that the author of this psalm was faithful. But it’s obvious from history that the overwhelming majority of people weren’t. I think about the promise that God made to Abraham about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God said that if there were only 10 righteous people in those cities, He would not destroy them. Obviously, that wasn’t the case, and I have to believe a similar rule would apply to the Jerusalem and Israel at the time of this Psalm. I’m not sure what the threshold would have been for Israel, but it’s safe to assume that very few people still truly believed in God.
Whatever the personal convictions of the psalm’s author may have been, this is one prayer that fell on deaf ears, and for very good reasons. Sometimes, you see, it pays to look around you and inside you before you start blaming God for not doing His part. Have you, or have we, done our part first? Have we been constant, have we been faithful, or have we really bowed to other idols (money, wealth, power, sexual perversions, alcohol, drugs, etc.) and still expect God to help us?
November 6, 2006 § 2 Comments
The prayer of a down and out man is recorded in this psalm. It is a lament, where the author recounts the injustices done to him because of his steadfast belief in God, and asks God for divine rescue, as well as retribution against his enemies. The NJB calls this a Messianic psalm, but I disagree. There are Messianic references indeed, but this psalm falls short of qualifying as a prophetic, Messianic message.
A first reading of this psalm points out why it can’t be called Messianic. The following verses stand out:
- “God, you know how foolish I am, my offences are not hidden from you.” (verse 5)
- “I mortify myself with fasting, and find myself insulted for it, I dress myself in sackcloth and become their laughing-stock…” (verses 10-12)
- “Rescue me from the mire before I sink in; so I shall be saved from those who hate me, from the watery depths.” (verse 14)
- “May their own table prove a trap for them, and their abundance a snare; may their eyes grow so dim that they cannot see, all their muscles lose their strength. Vent your fury on them, let your burning anger overtake them… Charge them with crime after crime…” (verses 22-28)
Need I go on? The language here differs greatly from real Messianic psalms, where one can almost associate the voice of the author with the voice of God. A psalm prophesying about the Son of God would not talk in the words quoted above. No, that’s nothing more than human babble, incoherent to the ages, and disliked by God.
What verses can make people think this is a prophetic psalm? They’re listed below:
- “Those who hope in you must not be made fools of, Yahweh Sabaoth, because of me! Those who seek you must not be disgraced, God of Israel, because of me!” (verse 6)
- “To eat they gave me poison, to drink, vinegar when I was thirsty.” (verse 21)
Verse 6 could almost imply that the speaker is Messiah, because other people believe in him. It’s much more likely that he was in a public position, and other believers looked up to him as he was persecuted for trying to stay faithful to God, as the rest of the verses in this psalm show. Verse 21 could be called a clincher, except you can’t build your faith on one verse. The rest of the psalm is weighty evidence against this. Yes, the vinegar mentioned above is a pretty strong reference to Jesus’ experience on the cross, but given the rest of the psalm, it’s very likely, if not certain, that this was just a metaphor, a figure of speech that expressed the author’s lament. It has prophetic undertones, yes, but nothing more.
Now, as for the glimpses of divinity mentioned in the title of this post, they’re to be found in the following verses:
- “… Yahweh Sabaoth, because of me!” (verse 6)
- “I will praise God’s name in song, I will extol Him by thanksgiving, for this will please Yahweh more than an ox, than a bullock horned and hoofed.” (verses 30-31)
Given the overwhelming evidence present throughout the Bible that Saturday is the Sabbath, or God’s day or rest, I’m surprised that other Christians still insist on Sunday. By not obeying the Sabbath, they’re willfully disobeying God’s fourth commandment. Verse 6 in this psalm adds to the stack of evidence for the Sabbath, because it addresses God as Lord of the Sabbath, or Lord of Rest. If this was a common name for God during those times (and it was, because it’s mentioned in plenty of other places), what makes us think nowadays (given God’s unchanging, steadfast nature) that He has somehow changed His mind on this subject?
A verse like verse 31 isn’t often found in the Old Testament, so it’s worthwhile to mention. It’s not often that an Israelite would say that thanksgiving pleases God more than animal sacrifice, but it’s true. It was a lot easier during those times to bring an animal to the temple and be done with it. It was, and it still is a lot harder, to really thank God for what He is doing for us, and spend time with him in prayer, asking for forgiveness. Animal sacrifices were never meant to be a substitute for a real relationship with God. They were meant to be a constant lesson of the price of sin, but people tended to rely solely on them.
In much the same way, people rely on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross today as a substitute for a real relationship with God, and think that they can go on sinning because His divine sacrifice has saved them. When they sin, they say, “Jesus died for me, I’m forgiven.” Or, they say, “Jesus nailed the commandments to the cross, I don’t have to obey them anymore.” Is it really so? They’re sorely mistaken if they believe that. God’s Law is at the very core of our beliefs. The Bible was literally built upon them, they’re woven into the very fabric of its foundation. You find God’s Law everywhere, in every chapter of the Bible. What makes you think you have license to disobey it? Aren’t you presuming too much?
October 13, 2006 § 1 Comment
This psalm is rightly called a “harvest song”. It is a prayer of thanks, that once again calls our attention to the complete dependence of Israel’s agrarian society and economy upon God. More on this in my comments on Psalm 65. But here, in Psalm 67, we see the results of those pre-harvest prayers: “The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God has blessed us.”
I have to be a little cynical, I can’t help it. The message of the psalm is, paraphrased: crop target achieved and exceeed, God has blessed us. I wonder what would have happened if the crop had been sub-standard that year. Would this psalm still have been written? Or would we have seen yet another whiny psalm about how downtrodden the people are, and how God has forsaken them?
Thankfully, the crop was good, and the people were happy. They wanted to praise God. I would even go so far as to say they were a little over-flattering: “…You judge the world with justice, You judge the peoples with fairness…” What does this have to do with crops? So the crop was good, that means God was fair? Hey, let’s get overexcited, and heap praises onto God just because we’re happy… What if the crop was bad? Then God is bad? Sounds crude, but it’s true. That’s how people react, it’s human nature. I’m not saying it’s right at all, but that’s how we are if we don’t keep ourselves in check.
The basic purpose of the Jewish nation of that time (and the purpose of God’s people in this time) is also brought out in this psalm, albeit unwittingly, in verses 2 and 7: “Then the earth will acknowledge Your ways, and all nations Your power to save” and “May God continue to bless us, and be revered by the whole wide world.” That was the mission of the Israelites, wasn’t it? They needed to be a lamp to the darkness around them, and to spread God’s Word and Commandments to the nations. They were to be an effective witness, and help bring others to God.
History gives a bleak account of the success of that witness, but the burden is on us to spread God’s light nowadays. Might I add, history has so far given an even bleaker account of Christianity’s witness to the rest of the world. I’m tempted to put Christianity in quotes, because the witness of the Catholic church during the Dark Ages, with its repression of God’s Word, and the torture and killing of others in the name of Christ, is anything but an effective witness of God’s grace, forgiveness, kindness and salvation.
We’ve also been doing poorly in recent times, haven’t we? In large part, many Christian denominations are misguided in their doctrine. They accept only parts of the Bible, and reject others. In some denominations, pagan elements (whether old or new) have crept in, and are corrupting God’s message. We’re in a sorry state overall, and need to get back to the basics, to God’s Word, the Holy Bible, the entire Bible, in order to get ourselves aright.
July 28, 2006 § Leave a Comment
This is the prayer of a Levite in exile, longing to be restored to God’s Temple. I like the metaphor used in the second verse to refer to the Temple, namely, “the high rock”. We meet this image throughout the Bible when referring to God’s Word, or to Jesus Christ – the two being the same, of course, as John 1:1 clarifies.
I like verse 3 as well. The image of the “strong tower” may not conjure up much resistance against our enemies today, in the age of airplanes and cruise missiles, but back when this psalm was written, a massive, tall tower was the absolute defense. You could defend yourself for months, or even years, in such a structure. It was nearly impossible to take.
The writer wishes to “take refuge in the shelter of [God's] wings”. Before we get caught up in the visual imagery, it’s important to remember that God has no wings, and needs no wings. If we think back to the structure of the earthly Temple, in the Most Holy place, the Arch of the Covenant was found. It was a golden box which housed the Ten Commandments, and some manna from the desert. On top, two golden heruvims were sculpted, their wings covering it. The imagery used in this fourth verse is referring most likely to the Ten Commandments, and verse 5 encourages this interpretation, since it says: “For you, God, accept my vows, you grant me the heritage of those who fear Your name.” Of course, we know that when we make a promise to obey the Ten Commandments, we make a vow to God, and in return, He grants us the promises He made to those that fear His name, such as forgiveness from sins and eternal life.
The meaning of verses 6 and 7 is two-pronged. They could be referring to an earthly king, but given that this Levite was in exile, it was very likely that there was no earthly king when he wrote this psalm. It’s more likely that it’s referring to the Messiah. The Levites’ hope was that He (Jesus Christ) would rule as a king on Earth. They didn’t quite understand God’s plan, but to their credit, they didn’t have the New Testament either, and the meaning of the book of Daniel was locked in time, not to be revealed fully until more recent times. We, as Christians, possess an incredible amount of knowledge and clarification on the nature of God, God’s Son, the Holy Spirit, and prophecy in general, and therefore our responsibilities are much greater. Remember what Jesus said, that we are each responsible for living in the light given to us. Those who have been given much are expected to do much.
It’s easy to pass over verse 8 and assume it’s a typical Levite phrase. Sure, he’ll sing God’s praises, and fulfill his vows, that’s great… But we ought to remember just what fulfilling one’s vows means, in light of the meaning of verses 4 and 5. It means to obey God’s commandments, to find refuge in the safety they offer. And doesn’t it behoove Christians to also praise God daily? There’s nothing particularly Levitic about this verse. It applies just as well to us, and we should remember that.
July 21, 2006 § Leave a Comment
A tone of wailing can be heard throughout this psalm. Pain and defeat are confessed, and help is asked of God. It’s a tortured prayer, after a battle that’s left Israel in a pretty sorry state. “God, you have rejected us…” the author cries out. A better exclamation would have been, “God, what have we done to deserve this?” and the answer would have been, “Plenty.”
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It’s a Biblical fact that God stuck by Israel all the time. His promises of blessings and protection were conditional, and were spelled out by Moses quite clearly before they entered Canaan. If they ever were to stray from Him, they would be humiliated at the hands of their enemies. That was one of the curses. (Read up on the promises made to the Israelites in Deuteronomy. The whole of that chapter is filled with them.) If Israel had stayed close to God, they would have been victorious in battle. In our covenant with God, it is we who should look to ourselves when the promises are not fulfilled. We can’t blame God. He always upholds His part of the bargain.
Had this author asked himself what Israel had done, he’d have made much more progress with his prayer. The logical next step after that would have been to ask God what could be done to heal the rift between Him and His people, and then this prayer would have been truly fruitful. As it stands, it is simply a wail of pain, and a nostalgic recollection of victorious times of the past.
What do you think? Was God disappointed by this? I think He was. He expected a little more substance. So let this be a lesson to all of us in the here and now. Let’s not waste His time when we pray with complaints about how bad we’ve got it, or how good it used to be. Let’s examine ourselves, and see just what stands between us and Him. Then we should ask Him to help us get close to Him again, and heal our too-weak and spiritually emaciated souls, so that His Spirit may work in us once more, and inspire us to do His will. It is then that we will experience victory in our lives, both internal and external. Dwelling on the past never solves anything. Let’s all decide to move forward in our relationships with God.
June 10, 2006 § Leave a Comment
There are three things that I notice right away when reading this psalm:
- The most obvious is the pain one feels when a “friend” betrays you,
- David wasn’t as brave as people have come to believe, and
- A day is described as such: “evening, morning, noon.”
I don’t want to beat the first point to death. If we all haven’t been there, we will at some point – it’s guaranteed. When we go through such a time, it’s nice to know others went through it as well, that we can turn to this psalm for some support, and that God will never betray us.
Take a look at some of the language David uses to describe his state, and wonder, is this the great leader of Israel?
- “I shudder at the enemy’s shouts, at the outcry of the wicked…”
- “My heart writhes within me, the terrors of death come upon me, fear and trembling overwhelm me, and shuddering grips me.”
- “How far I would escape, and make a nest in the desert!”
It’s with some surprise that I read those verses. Hey, all that happened is that he got slandered! There are a lot of things that are a lot scarier, right? If he reacts like this to slander, how will he react when enemy troops surround Jerusalem? He’s the king, he should show some backbone.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to slander David’s memory. The point I’m trying to make, is that he was able to be the great leader he was through God. We can see for ourselves that he wasn’t very brave, or at least in this particular instance, he wasn’t all there. But the one right thing he kept doing is trusting upon God. Take a look at this: “Unload your burden onto Yahweh and He will sustain you; never will he allow the upright to stumble.” (verse 22) He’s got his priorities straight, and this gives us hope. There are plenty of us, myself included, who aren’t brave or courageous, either consistently, or at certain times when the chips are down. But if we trust in God, we, like David, can get through the tough times, and things will be alright.
Now, take a look at verses 16 and 17, which I quoted at the beginning: “For my part, I appeal to God, and Yahweh saves me; evening, morning, noon, I complain and I groan.” The NJB has a footnote for verse 17, and it’s this: “The hours of prayer, Dn 6:11.” Evening, morning and noon were the times when the Israelites would pray to God. What does this have to do with us? Well, how do we describe the day? We say morning, noon and evening. David says evening, morning and noon. He does it because that was the normal progression of a day back then. The day started when the sun went down and the previous day ended. There was night, then the day, including morning and noon. When evening came, the next day began.
This same succession is found in Genesis: “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that light was good, and God divided light from darkness. God called light ‘day’, and darkness He called ‘night’. Evening came and morning came: the first day…” This is found in verses 5, 8, 13, 19, 23 and 31 of the first chapter of Genesis, and these verses bring us to verses 1-3 of the second chapter of Genesis: “Thus heaven and earth were completed with all their array. On the seventh day God had completed the work He had been doing. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day He rested after all His work of creating.”
We are to discover two things from these descriptions of the succession of a day. The first is that the day rightfully begins when the sun goes down, not at midnight. That’s a concocted idea and took seed when people wanted to find a clean division between each day, one that occurred at precisely the same, all the time. It may be good for time-keeping, but it’s not Biblically correct. The second is that the proper day of rest is on the seventh day – the Sabbath, or Saturday. God established this at the beginning of the world, and His people have followed this desire of His throughout time. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Israel, David and Jesus Christ followed it. Even the early Christians followed it, until very misguided people decided to change it, against God’s will.
We would do well to follow God’s will, not people’s whims, and we’d be much better off if we’d trust in Him completely, as David did, at countless times in his life.