Fellowship is an essential part of the Christian life. It is a joy to come together with other believers who love Jesus as much as we do. Recently, I found one such group on Facebook: Titus Women’s Gathering. It is a lovely group of women devoted to serving God and His people. In an effort to help each other read, understand, and be able to discuss the Bible better, group administrators facilitate the ministry “Revel in His Word.” In it, a few different bloggers talk through chapters of the Bible and then members can discuss in the comments, supporting each other in understanding and application. This is where I will place my contributions and links to other bloggers’ pieces.
Start at the bottom to read blogs starting with 1 Samuel 1. Feel free to comment here, visit other links, and share as you feel led. Thank you for joining us!
Blogging Through the Bible Psalm 67-68
Psalm 67 is called “An Invocation and a Doxology.” That just means that it is a prayer asking for God’s help or blessing and giving a formal praise from the Bible. Many churches say this first verse at the end of a service:
“God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, Selah.”Psalm 67:1
The basic gist of the Psalm is: Let’s all rejoice and praise our just God. Then God will bless His people, and everybody else will fear Him as God.
Speaking of praise, it just occurred to me this morning that because I haven’t been driving to and from work, I am missing about 20-40 minutes of praise with music every single day. That is something that I will definitely need to make an effort to work on.
Psalm 68 is fairly long. A lot of the same ideas from other Psalms are repeated here as the Psalmist reminds us again that there IS a difference in those who belong to God and those who rebel. The former will have blessings heaped upon them. The latter will live barren lives and then be crushed. Here are a couple notable verses:
Psalm 68:2d-3a: “The wicked will perish at the presence of God, but let the righteous be glad…”
Psalm 68:5-6: “A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.”
Furthermore, those blessings not only seek to separate the just from the unjust, but they also encourage the righteous that their labors and sacrifices are not in vain. We DO belong to God, and He will take care of us always.
Psalm 68:9: “ You, O God, sent a plentiful rain, whereby You confirmed Your inheritance, when it was weary.”
Then a reminder of God’s power in terms that the people of that day could understand:
Psalm 68:17: “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of thousands; the Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the Holy Place.”
Then right smack in the middle, there is an allusion to Jesus, and we are reminded again that the entire Bible is all Him whether overtly as here or just in symbolism.
Psalm 68:18: “You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, even from the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwell there.”
That sure looks a lot like this verse about Jesus in Ephesians:
“When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”Ephesians 4:8
Why the difference between “you have received gifts” and “gave gifts”? Commenters believe that Paul was taking a bit of liberty here. Jesus took captivity captive by cheating death in the resurrection. He TOOK the pleasure of defeat away from the enemies of God, and later received adoration from some of the same ones who crucified Him after they realized what had happened and believed on His name. BUT, Paul is making the point that Christ’s gifts to men – salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit – was part of this process.
Those gifts would be enough, but God is so good to His children that the goodness just keeps on being poured on us. This next verse has me saying, “Amen!”
Psalm 68:19: “Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation! Selah”
The next part is kind of interesting. It’s almost like a modern “shout out.”
Psalm 68:24-27: “They have seen Your procession, O God, the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary… Bless God in the congregations…There is little Benjamin, their leader, The princes of Judah and their company, the princes of Zebulun and the princes of Naphtali.”
Everybody who was anybody was getting together to worship God. The temple at Jerusalem is then prophesied to be great.
Psalm 68:29: “Because of Your temple at Jerusalem, kings will bring presents to You.”
Even if Egypt might wish to retake them, but God will prevail against them. God will scatter them who might want to fight, and the rest will submit and bring offerings to God.
The last verses make me think when I remember that WE, the church, have been grafted into Spiritual Israel.
Psalm 68:34-35: “Ascribe strength to God; His excellence is over Israel, and His strength is in the clouds. O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places. The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people. Blessed be God!”
The Lord Jesus Christ will return in the clouds one day. He will gather His people together to worship and adore Him, but even those who would rebel will not be able to do anything else other than bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. God is awesome whether He is in the ark in Jerusalem or in our very own hearts. He will give His people strength and power, and we will overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. Amen!
Dear God, thank you for the blessings that you have heaped upon us! Thank you for allowing us to be Your children. Help us be ready for the day when You will return in the clouds to gather us together with You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Are you finding more or fewer ways to worship and spend time with God now that we are sequestered?
Has God been dealing with you lately to iron out your last wrinkles before His return?
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Psalm 65-66.
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Psalm 63-64
Blogging Through the Bible Psalm 61-62
God never fails His children. Psalm 61 is yet another Psalm in which David is feeling low until He thinks about the comfort of being God’s child. It’s a lesson for all of us, really. We must never forget that we belong to God – and He takes that very seriously.
“From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”Psalm 61:2
There are 59 different Bible verses about God as the Rock. It is an image that lets us know that He is firm, unmovable, unshakeable, sure. He is our shelter and a strong tower from the enemy. We can abide in Him and trust in His shelter. The next part really makes me think:
“For you, O God, have heard my vows; You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.”Psalm 61:5
This says to me that there is a category of people who have an inheritance, an allotted portion, a part in God’s kingdom. Those are the people who fear the Lord and take Him at His Word that He is who He says He is. When we vow, promise, make the statement, that we believe in Jesus as the Son of God who died for our sins and we give our lives to Him, He hears us.
Then David switches to third person to let us know that he speaks, not just of himself, but his line of decedents:
“You will prolong the king’s life, his years as many generations. He shall abide before God forever. Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!”Psalm 61:6-7
God’s mercy and truth are able to preserve us all when we worship Him and do His will in our lives.
Psalm 62 also uses the metaphor of God as a rock three times and repeats the phrase “I shall not be moved” twice.
- PSALM 62:1-2, “Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.”
- PSALM 62:6, “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.”
- PSALM 62:7, “In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.”
Here, David seems to reminding himself that when he is attached to the rock that is immoveable, that makes him immovable as well. This reminds me of Matthew 24 when Jesus tells of the man who builds his house on the sand versus the man who builds it on a rock. When God is our foundation, we aren’t going to slide around or be swept away even when the storms and rains come into our lives.
Then David laments those who were coming against him. He said they delighted in lies and had a hypocrisy about them. They blessed him with their mouths but cursed him inside. Then a verse that brings it all into perspective:
“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.”Psalm 62:5
We just can’t count on people every time. People are fallible. God is not. We can trust Him and must look to Him alone for guidance, comfort, and salvation. People are but vapors in the wind, but God is a Rock that stands forever. We also can’t count on circumstances. If we become rich, we shouldn’t put our trust or hope in them.
Then the money shot:
“God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God. Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy; for You render to each one according to his work.”Psalm 62:11-12
God confirms His Words. He is true. He is TRUTH. He is also merciful and sees into our hearts to evaluate each one of us personally.
Dear God, thank you for being our Rock. We can build our lives on You and know that our foundations are sure. Thank you for hearing us when we cry out to You. Help us to always remember that our inheritance is found solely in You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
When you get discouraged, what are some things you can do to remind yourself that God has never failed you?
What are some other images that God has used as symbols to show us that He will never be moved?
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Psalm 59-60
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Psalm 57-58.
Join Renae at In Pursuit of God as she blogs through Psalm 55-56
Blogging Through the Bible Psalm 53-54
The first part of Psalm 53:1 is actually the very bumper sticker I have on my truck!
“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.”Psalm 53:1
So many people today have decided that there is no God. Even this week when the world got flipped on its head from the coronavirus, people insist on believing it’s all chance. I saw a post on a local Facebook group by a lady who was 75 and overweight. She was afraid that if she did get sick, the doctors wouldn’t see her because of her age and condition. There were lots of comforting words, but no one had mentioned the gospel yet, so I wrote a short response detailing repentance and trust in Jesus as Savior. I did get some “love” and “like” responses, but I also got the little “laugh” response(s) as well.
The next line of the Psalm is one of those that makes me respond every single time I read it. Do you also find yourself talking back to Bible verses?
“God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God.”Psalm 53:2
“Oh! Me! Do you see me? God, please see me!” I pray that my behavior is such that it can be counted as “seeking,” and that God sees me and knows that I am His.
The next verses get dark, though. “Every one of them has turned aside.” Not good. These are the verses that have me physically cringing as I think of those who would turn away from God. The Psalm says the people who don’t believe are not good. They don’t do good, and they have no knowledge. They are in fear because God is against those who are against His people.
The final lines are prophetic.
“Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When God brings back the captivity of His people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.”Psalm 53:6
They speak about the coming Messiah and the time when the Jews will come back into right relationship with Jesus.
This Psalm is called “Answered Prayer for Deliverance from Adversaries.” It was apparently written by David during a time when Saul was on the hunt for him. He asks God to save him, vindicate him, and hear him. People are after him, but God is his helper. The next line is definitely something to consider.
“Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is with those who uphold my life.”Psalm 54:4
God isn’t just with us, but He is with those who help us. That’s a pretty amazing thought. God is so involved with us and our lives that He is willing to give favor to those who help us and are for us.
“I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good.”Psalm 54:6
God is so good and worthy of all our praise. Any sacrifice we have to make for the good of others and for His glory is worth it to please Him.
Dear God, thank you for seeing us, hearing us, saving us, and keeping us. Please help us to remember that no matter what happens, we are Yours. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Do you “talk back” to the Bible by praying to God in response to what you read?
Will you find a way to mention Jesus to someone who is scared and hurting this week?
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Psalm 51-52
Blogging Through the Bible Psalm 47-48
The word “awesome” has been in my vocabulary since the 80’s. Lunch was “awesome,” the movie was “awesome,” and so was the newest song on the radio. Recently, however, my pastor has challenged our congretation with the idea that the word “awesome” (as well as the word “wonderful”) really should be reserved for God alone.
Psalm 47 begins with rejoicing. The Psalmist encourages people to sing, clap, and shout to the Lord because…you guessed it: “the Lord Most High is awesome”! He is worthy. He is a great King and protector of His people, and He will defeat His enemies. Then an interesting line:
“For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with understanding.”Psalm 47:7
It’s not about memorizing and repeating words, phrases, and songs. It’s about truly comprehending how very awesome our God is. There really is a throne in heaven, and He really does reign forever as our King. I just recently found a song that really makes me THINK about who God is in relation to who I am. It’s a humbling song, for sure. It’s by Addison Road called What Do I Know of Holy. I praise God often for allowing me to be a part of His life.
The first few lines of this Psalm remind me of another song by Michael W. Smith. It’s called Great is the Lord, and it came out in 1982. Still, almost 30 years later, it is a wonderful worship song. God is so worthy to be praised!
The bulk of this Psalm seems to be about Jerusalem, the earthly habitation of our omnipresent God. The world at that time understood that the city belonged to God. Other kings were afraid when they considered trying to take the city. They “marveled and were troubled,” and they were in pain (like a woman giving birth) and scattered (like ships).
“So we have seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it forever. Selah”Psalm 48:8
God’s temple was in Jerusalem, and everyone knew that He took care of His city and His people. While the outsiders were in pain and afraid, those on the inside had positive, worshipful thoughts toward God. They were grateful for His lovingkindness, His justice, and His majesty, and they taught their descendants to think the same way.
“For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”Psalm 47:14
Isn’t that just the way it is now? People who don’t know God don’t reverence Him. There are those on the outside and those on the inside; there are those who are a part of His family and those who are not. What a sad and terrifying thought to think of all those people on the outside on That Day. Life is short and death is sure, and one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. As God’s children, we must be about the business of talking to others about His love – and His justice – every day we have left on earth.
Dear God, thank you for being awesome! Thank you for letting me be a part of your life. Please help me to really think and consider the words I use to praise you instead of just repeating phrases without understanding. Please help me to have boldness to tell others about you. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Do you think words like “awesome” and “wonderful” should only be used for God? Why or why not?
Do you make a conscious effort to tell others about Jesus when you are out and about?
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Psalm 45-46
Blogging Through the Bible Psalm 41-42
The Bible is filled with the theme of good versus evil. God listens and takes care of those who follow God and do good things. He turns His face away from those who do evil, and He punishes them both on earth and in eternity.
Psalm 41 continues in the same vein. Those who will consider the poor will be delivered in their time of trouble. God will keep them, and they will be blessed. Their enemies will not triumph against them, and they will be healed. Last week I did a blog about God’s promises. It was about how we can choose to trust in His Word even when everything in the world tells us we need to fear. You can read that here: Instead of Fear, Choose Faith in God’s Promises.
But even though God hears us, and He promises to take care of us when we need Him, that doesn’t mean that Christians won’t go through trials while on earth. We have an enemy who seeks to hurt God by hurting us. He sends flesh and blood, circumstances, and even our own thoughts against us. The devil will even use people we know and love to cause us pain. Sometimes they know they are doing it; other times, they aren’t even aware.
But, the Psalmist says we can know that God is pleased with us because the enemy doesn’t triumph over us. Instead, we will be with God forever.
These first few verses HIT me. So many times, I will just get this giant longing like no other to be in the presence of God. To worship at His feet. To look upon His face. Sometimes, it feels almost physical, like a knot in the center of myself that aches for that day. Sometimes it is because things on earth aren’t going that great. Sometimes, though, it’s just because I love Him so desperately I just need MORE of Him.
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”Psalm 42:1-2
This Psalm is about a time of trial. It was thought to be written by King David when he was prevented from going to Jerusalem to worship (either by Saul or Absalom’s forces). In it, he laments that things on earth are tough. Even worse, others mock and scoff at him. “…Where is your God?”
When David remembers happier times of worship at God’s house, it just makes him sadder because those times were past. But, then he reminds himself that his hope is in the Lord. God isn’t just in one place, but He is everywhere all at once. Even when life seems to be one trouble after another, God is always good. Even when it seems like God isn’t listening, He is there both day and night. Our hope remains in Him.
Dear God, thank you for being just. You reward the faithful and will one day punish those who do your children harm. Thank you for the hope we have to one day be in your presence forever. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
What is your favorite promise that God gives to us in His Word?
Can you think of a more modern simile than a deer panting for water to describe that overwhelming feeling that you need to be with God?
Join Renae at In Pursuit of God as she blogs through Psalm 39-40
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Psalm 35-36.
Blogging Through the Bible Psalm 33-34
God is SO amazing! So many times in a day, I find myself praising the Lord. Maybe it’s not always eloquent, but it just rushes out in a flow I can’t even stop. Today was the perfect example. I had a super productive day and buzzed through most of the tasks that were starting to weigh on me, making me feel even a little overwhelmed at the amount of stuff I had to do in the amount of time I had to do it. But God. (I LOVE that phrase!) He met me at my desk this morning and put my head in the game. I give all my praise and glory to Him!
And so does David in Psalm 33.
“Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful.”Psalm 33:1
Whether with our voices or with instruments, praising God is the right thing to do. God loves truth, righteousness, and justice. He made the heavens and the earth and filled them with His goodness. His power is beyond imagination. He spoke everything into existence and controls it all. Even when people think they are in control, God can change things in a minute. But, His words and plans stand forever.
Then Psalm 33:12 says something interesting:
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”Psalm 33:12
Now, I know this is talking about Israel, but for a minute, it seemed to describe the United States as well. We were “one nation under God,” and we called Him our God. It was then that we were blessed.
“The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men.”Psalm 33:13
But now what does He see? Does He see our great armies and the technology men tell themselves will keep us safe in times of trouble? Or, does He see a nation that has all but forgotten Him and His ways? The watchmen have been warning of God’s judgement on America. Our cup of indignation is full. But God still knows who His people are, and He will deliver them on that day.
“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.”Psalm 33:18-19
Those of us who still put our trust in the Lord and wait for Him to help us can rejoice now and in that day. We trust Him, and His mercy will be upon us.
Psalm 34 is PACKED with nuggets of goodness. There are some popular verses, and there are some bits and pieces that smack of the choruses of tons of our favorite songs. It starts with what I think of as one of the goals of my life:
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”Psalm 34:1
That’s exactly how I want to live. It reminds me of another go-to verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
We magnify Him and exalt Him, and He hears us when we pray. He delivers us from our fears because we know He has us covered in our time of trouble.
Next comes the verse I say virtually every night as I lay down to sleep:
“The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them”Psalm 34:7
And then the verse that I took for my new ministry! I have started taking a snack and a Bible verse or two to the men who wait for day work on Sundays as a “taste of church.”
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”Psalm 34:8
And then a little bit of assurance. God knows our needs even before we ask. We never need to fear lack even in terrible times if we will just fear God and not man or situations. We shall never lack any good thing.
Then some excellent advice:
“Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”PSALM 34:13-14
“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.”Psalm 34:15
God turns His face away from evil-doers, but He hears those who do His will. When they cry to Him, He will deliver them.
So many great nuggets! Here is another very popular verse:
“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”Psalm 34:18
Yes, the righteous will go through trials and tribulations, but the Lord will deliver us out of them all! What a great promise!
Now, the final mic drop moment. I don’t know about you, but this one REALLY hits home for me on a lot of levels:
“The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.”Psalm 34:22
Let’s break it down. The Lord is our “redeemer.” He paid the price for us to go free from the penalty of sin. We are His servants when we set up our lives to live for Him. We can trust Him and put our faith in Him because He promises in His word that He will never leave nor forsake us. Praise God!
Dear God, You are so amazing! Thank you so much for always hearing our cries for help! Thank you for your protection and provision in our time of trouble. Please help us always to trust in You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Do you have a favorite verse that you pray before bed?
Do you have journal where you write experiences with the Lord so you can remember His faithfulness when you are in a struggle?
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Psalm 29-30.
Blogging Through the Bible Psalm 27-28
Psalm 27 is my third favorite Psalm of five. I love Psalm 91 best, then Psalm 23, then Psalm 27, then Psalm 121, then Psalm 1. These are all go-to Psalms for me when I’m feeling some kind of way. They, like the rest of the Bible, contain God’s words of truth and love for His people.
If God is For Us, Who Can Be Against Us?
We are in a spiritual battle. The opening lines of this Psalm are words of encouragement in our fight. If God is our God, we have nothing to be afraid of. No matter how big the situation, our God is bigger. Then my favorite part:
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.”Psalm 27:4
Amazingly enough, it is Psalm 37:4 that tells us that those who delight in the Lord will receive the desires of their hearts. THIS is my desire. I just want to be His child on earth for all my days, see Him and know Him for the amazing God He is, and be able to come to Him with prayers that He hears and answers – not just on earth, but forever and ever. Here is a blog I wrote recently around this theme: The Desires of the Heart: What’s Your One Thing?
Then the next part tells us God WILL be with us, He will hear us and answer us, and we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our hearts. And, the alternative is unthinkable.
One aspect of this Psalm that I love so much deals with my all-time greatest fear: that God will turn Himself away from me. Right after I was saved, this was the fear that brings torment that the devil brought to me again and again: “Okay, you are saved now, but surely you will screw this up eventually.”
“Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.”Psalm 27:9
But God already knew that this would be an attack of the enemy. He spends verse after verse reassuring us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Even when everyone we know and love turns against us, God never will.
The next verse is really profound. It is in with so many other amazing verses, I think sometimes it might get overlooked, but really, it says so much about our lives on earth.
“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”Psalm 27:13
Think about it. So much of how people see salvation is in terms of eternity. Life can bring sorrow and pain, but there is coming a day when God will dry our tears. This verse, however, speaks of the goodness of the Lord NOW. Today. While we are still on earth, He gives us glimpses of His goodness that keep us moving forward toward our prize and allow us not to get weary in well doing.
Finally, the greatest bit of encouragement.
“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”Psalm 27:14
If we will just keep our hope stayed on Him, He WILL strengthen us. That’s a promise, and God doesn’t take those lightly.
Please Answer My Prayer
This Psalm is about prayer, about crying out to the Lord. The Bible says we are to pray “unceasingly,” and a lot of days I feel like I come pretty close. This week, I noticed something about myself. Over and over, I caught myself thinking or saying out loud, “Lord, please help.” I didn’t mean to do it, but it became sort of a mantra, a phrase repeated again and again about varying things: how I felt, what I saw, what would happen, etc.
Last night at church, a lady came to the front when we had prayer time. She was crying, and as I reached to hold her arm and pray with her, she was saying the same thing again and again: “Lord, please help.” We ALL need God’s help whether in little situations or in big ones. I realized that there are low-hum times of prayer, and there are also times when our frequency moves the needle a little higher. I prayed with her over whatever what happening in her life, and it made me more aware of prayer itself as communication with God and even, amazingly enough, other believers.
Fervency In Prayer
In Psalm 28, David’s needle is at the top. He is crying to God, begging God to hear him. He also begs God not to give him what the wicked deserve because they do not fear the Lord and give Him His due worship. Instead, he blesses the Lord because He has, in fact, heard him. God strengthened him and helped him, and it made David happy and caused him to praise God.
God is the strength of His people, and He is our refuge. Then he ends with a prayer
“Save Your people, and bless Your inheritance; shepherd them also, and bear them up forever.”Psalm 27:9
Dear God, I praise you and thank you that you are always available and willing to hear our prayers. Whether they are daily prayers of just walking beside you and “doing life” with you or big prayers when we cry out in the night, You hear us and strengthen us. Thank you for being our God both here on earth and in eternity. .In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Have you ever found yourself praying something that later turn out to be someone else’s prayers? Wheat do you think that means?
What is YOUR greatest desire?
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Psalm 25-26
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Psalm 23-24.
Blogging Through the Bible Psalm 21-22
My pastor’s favorite Bible verse is Romans 5:8, and he talked about it again on Sunday. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” What an amazing God we serve that He would die for us and call us to Himself when we were but wretched and lost. Psalm 21 is titled “Joy in the Salvation of the Lord.”
Salvation Isn’t Just Not Going to Hell
In Christendom today, we often focus our talk about salvation to mean that we will be saved from hell. While this is absolutely true, David’s Psalm 21 explores the many and varied benefits of our salvation while we are still alive.
- Joy in God’s strength
- Filling our God-shaped holes (our heart’s desire)
- Answered prayers
- Blessings of goodness
- Position and authority as a child of God
- Life – just because we ASKED
- The ability to trust Him
- Mercy to stay the course because He will not allow us to be moved
God glories in our salvation because He has taken what is vile and is turning it – ever so slowly in some cases – into something worthwhile and precious. He is sanctifying us to be less like us and more like Him.
Like many Psalms, David then contrasts believers, those in whom God is working, and unbelievers, those who find themselves an enemy to the cross.
God’s enemies will be:
- Destroyed by fire in God’s anger
- Swallowed up in His wrath
- Devoured by fire
- Destroyed from the earth with their offspring
- Foiled in their plans
- Hardened to God and others
- Shot by His arrows in their faces
In all of these, God will be exalted for His strength, and we will sing praise for His power.
A Messianic Psalm
Whether it is the Word in the beginning to the Alpha and the Omega at the end, the entire Bible is talking about our Lord Jesus Christ. While the New Testament speaks of Him in His time on earth, much of the Old Testament references Him in ways that must be discerned.
Some 490 years and 14 generations before Jesus was born, David wrote Psalm 22. The first line of that Psalm almost exactly echo Jesus’ words on the cross, and the rest is an expression of that day. Whether David understood what he was doing at the time or not, we don’t know. What we do know is that the words in the Psalm are capitalized appropriately to mean Jesus here.
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?”Psalm 22:1
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, “’My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’”Matthew 27:46
Then, He says He is a worm. On one hand, this is in reference to being treated like the lowest of lows. The people despised Him. They rejected Him, beat Him, and spit on Him. On another level, the worm here could be in reference to the crimson (or scarlet) worm. Without plagiarizing another’s work, I will just refer you to the article: How Was Jesus Like a Worm? The upshot is that there is a significant comparison between the life cycle of this worm and the sacrifice of Jesus for us. Not only that, but the crimson blood of that worm was used to dye the high priests’ robes back in Old Testament times.
Jesus took the penalty of our sins. But wasn’t the whipping, the spitting, or the insults he endured that crushed Him on that day. It was God who poured His wrath upon Him. It is in this way that He was the propitiation, or atonement, for our sins.
On another level, though, David was probably feeling a little like God had abandoned him here. I know I have felt something similar when it seemed that the world was against me and God was so very far away. But God never leaves His people or forsakes them. Jesus’ work on the cross was the plan from the foundation of the earth. God never left the plan for an instant.
Then the next part:
“I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me.”Psalm 22:14
Again, this is speaking of Jesus on the cross, but it is also easy to identify with here. Sometimes we “pour” ourselves into work, into ministry, into helping others and worshipping our Lord. Sometimes it may feel like there is nothing else in us.
The next lines are absolutely prophetic. You can just see Jesus there on the cross.
- My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws;
- You have brought Me to the dust of death.
- For dogs have surrounded Me;
- The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
- They pierced My hands and My feet;
- I can count all My bones.
- They look and stare at Me.
- They divide My garments among them,
- And for My clothing they cast lots.
But even while He was paying for the sins of the world, God never turned away from Jesus, and He doesn’t hide His face from us either. We can praise Him always, and He will hear us when we cry. He will take care of us.
And one day, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!
“All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You…all those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive.”Psalm 22:27 and 29
And now and from that day, we will declare Him God and king forever.
Dear God, thank you so much for my salvation! Thank you for your help on my earthly journey and the promise that I will be with you forever someday. Please never, ever let us forget what you have done for us. Let us always be reminded that Your grace mercy is a gift. Let us never withhold that from your children.In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Do you think about the benefits of being a child of God on earth? Can you name time after time when God was there for you simply by His grace?
Do you ever wonder what the Jewish people see in Psalm 22 instead of Truth? It is sort of mind boggling, really.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Psalm 19-20
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Psalm 17-18.
Blogging Through the Bible Psalm 15-16
Who May Abide In Your Tabernacle?
Psalm 15 is short and sweet but powerful. It reminds me of parts of my two favorite Psalms: Psalm 91 and Psalm 23, both of which talk about dwelling with God.
- PSALM 91 “He who dwells in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
- PSALM 23 “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
But what is the character of those who are allowed to do so? They are those who:
- Do the right thing and speak truth in their hearts.
- Hate the vile but honor those who fear the Lord.
- Don’t gossip, spread gossip, or do evil.
- Those who their promises his/her even when it hurts them to do it.
- Those who don’t take monetary advantage of the vulnerable or innocent.
They shall never be moved.
A Psalm of Hope For Now and Evermore
“…You are my Lord; my goodness is nothing apart from You.”Psalm 16:2
I can relate. Can’t you? This Psalm is about David’s pure joy at being counted as one of God’s children both on earth and forever. He loves God’s people and feels sorry for anybody who has chosen a little “g” god instead of God Himself. Because God takes care of His own.
God is there to give advice and be with us in trouble. As long as we set our eyes on Him and keep Him first, we don’t have to worry. We can be joyful now on earth and look forward to the resurrection when we can be with Him face to face. Praise God!
“For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”Psalm 16:10
This has a double meaning. David, himself, is a “holy one” because he is God’s child and keeps His commandments, so he would be kept pure until the time he passed away. But, it is also a reference to his descendent, Jesus Christ who is THE Holy One who never saw physical corruption even after His death.
“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”Psalm 16:11
Another double meaning. David stayed on the path leading to eternal life and experienced joy both on earth and in heaven after he passed away. But, Jesus IS the way and sits at the right hand of the Father.
Dear God, you are my only goodness. Thank you for allowing me to dwell with you and be your child both now on earth and forevermore. I place my hope in You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Do you feel worthy to dwell with the Lord? Does it matter if we feel worthy or not?
Have you put God first in your life? Is your hope in Him both on earth and for eternity?
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Psalm 13-14.
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Psalm 11-12.
Blogging Through the Bible Psalm 9-10
Praise to the Lord for His Righteous Judgments
I love the way this Psalm begins. It’s a good reminder that the Lord deserves our praise, and not only that, it’s a nifty model for doing it. The words are reminiscent of various praise songs that have come and gone over the years. I can catch little strains and melodies as I read.
“I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.”Psalm 9:1
Like many of the Psalms and Proverbs, this chapter talks a lot about justice. But this one seems to be more about God judging nations than individuals. The chapter swings back and forth like a pendulum. On the one hand, God’s people get goodness, mercy, and protection. On the other, the wicked get what’s coming to them. His enemies will be destroyed, and even their memories will perish. Then back again to the other side, praising God that His people will be sheltered. God is a refuge for the oppressed, especially in their times of trouble. God avenges blood and doesn’t forget the cry of the humble. While the nations get caught in their own wickedness and turned into hell, the needy shall not always be forgotten.
Then comes one of my favorite lines and one I would like to put on my list to memorize:
“And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”Psalm 9:10
David ends once again asking God to “Arise, O Lord.” He asks God to judge the nations righteously in His sight. He isn’t happy about the destruction of the wicked but asks God to teach men to fear Him through His mighty acts.
Some people just don’t listen to God in good times. Times of hardship and judgement can bring people to their knees (in prayer) like nothing else. This is one of my most fervent prayers for my loved ones: that when the judgement hits America, my wayward family will turn to God for comfort. I wrote a blog about a prayer I learned to pray by reading the story of Manasseh, King of Judah: Hope For Lost Loved Ones: God’s Mercy in Trials. Check it out if you have a minute.
Chapter 10 starts with two rhetorical questions. David asks God, “Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?” Now, this might seem like a pretty bold prayer and one that is a bit contradictory to his earlier Psalm of praise and confidence in God’s justice, both to the wicked and those who need His protection. But when you think about it, if we were honest with ourselves, many of us would admit to feeling a similar sentiment at times when we see the bad people seemingly rewarded while the weak and the good seem to be trampled again and again.
Like Psalm 9, this one also talks about the wicked and the just, but it mostly focuses on the wicked.
The wicked are proud, they persecute the poor and boast in their hearts’ desires. They bless the greedy and reject the Lord, refusing to seek Him. Then comes a pair of verses that really make me think:
- PSALM 10:4 “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.”
- PSALM 10:5 “His ways are always prospering; Your judgments are far above, out of his sight; as for all his enemies, he sneers at them.”
Wait, what? The wicked are proud, never thinking of God, but they are always prospering? I think this one really speaks to the utter cluelessness of unbelievers. People who reject God and live for themselves have so many fewer things to worry about. Not because they don’t have the same responsibilities to love God and love men like the believers do, but because they choose to ignore those responsibilities. They collect material goods instead of giving. They get ahead at the expense of others. To the outside world, they “prosper,” but the dramatic irony here is that their lives are anything but prosperous because they are missing the most valuable thing possible: a relationship with our Savior.
The wicked have mouths full of cursing and deceit and iniquity. They “lurk” and murder the innocent. They take advantage of the vulnerable like a lion, crouching and lying low. They take the helpless by their strength and say in their hearts that “God has forgotten,” “hides His face,” and “will never see.” Then the real crux of the matter comes out. The wicked say to God in their hearts, “You will not require an account” (Psalm 10:13). But just because God doesn’t use lightning bolts to smite people much these days, it doesn’t mean that they will get away with even one single bit of it.
Because God Has not forgotten. He sees everything and will repay. He is a helper to the fatherless and has heard the desire of the humble. He will give them ears to hear and a heart of flesh. He will listen to them when they call for Him. Justice will be done.
Dear God, thank you that you are just. No matter what it looks like in the natural, you give your people favor and will set right all that has been wrong in the world. In your wrath, please remember mercy for our lost loved ones. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
How do you reconcile the idea that God is good and just with the evil that seems to be rampant in the world?
Have you thanked God recently for a soft heart and ears to hear when the whole world seems to be rapidly turning away from Him?
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Psalm 7-8
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Psalm 5-6.
Blogging Through the Bible Psalm 3-4
The Lord Helps His Troubled People
Psalm 3 is a prayer from David during the time his son Absalom had taken control of his kingdom. It was a long story you can read about in 2 Samuel 15-18. But let’s just say that David was distressed. His son betrayed him by getting the support of the people behind his back and then attacking him in Jerusalem. David fled to avoid bloodshed and preserve his own life.
While on the run, he cries out to God because of his many enemies and those who said, “There is no help for him in God” (Psalm 3:2) Now, I’m not sure if that means “Even God can’t help you now” or worse, “God won’t even help you now.” But either way, the next word is “Selah.” Now, some say this is a musical direction, but another opinion is the word “pause.” As in, “Now PAUSE to think about that.
But David doesn’t listen to the naysayers. He know God is his shield and the One who comforts him. Then David starts listing all the evidences that God hears him and has not forsaken him. He hasn’t let him down before, and He never will. I don’t know about you, but I find myself doing the same exact thing when I start to get down. I start remembering situation after situation when I thought things were hopeless or I felt miserable but God was there for me every single time.
David says that God gave him sleep, He protected him to live another day, and had destroyed his enemies in the past. David trusts God to be there for him in this situation as well. He cries out:
“Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!”Psalm 3:7
David ends with a declaration of faith: Salvation belongs to the Lord, and His blessing is upon His people.
The Safety of the Faithful
This Psalm most likely was not during the same time period as Psalm 3. Here, David isn’t concerned so much with his physical safety as that of his reputation. But again, he cries out to his God and reminds Him that He has always been there for him in the past. He begs for God to hear him and have mercy on him.
Then David wonders at the people around him who are tearing his reputation to shreds. How long will they turn his glory to shame? How long will they “love worthlessness and seek falsehood?” (Psalm 4:2). Has David been on Facebook recently? Seriously, we can all relate to his questions about the people of the world. People who chase after things that don’t matter and lie and listen to lies about things that are good.
But we get a great lesson in the next few verses. David gives himself a pep talk that worked for him and can work for us too. He basically says, “But God has different standards than the world, and I belong to Him. He hears me when I call, so I just have to chill. The Bible says ‘Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed and be still.’ I just have to do what I know is right and trust God. He’s got this.”
He ends with a reminder that it is God who brings his heart gladness. It’s not his circumstances, and it’s not the material things that make the world happy. It is God alone who brings him joy and gives him peace, even in distress.
Dear God, please help us always to trust in You for our protection and well being. Even when we don’t understand people, we can always rely on the truths that You gave us in Your word. You aren’t fickle, and You are not a man that You would lie. We can trust you. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Do you have a journal to record all of the times that God has been there for you? (Then when you are sad, you can read it and remember how great God has been to you all of your days.)
Do you have favorite scriptures that you have memorized to remind yourself of God’s truth when you need to hear it?
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Psalm 1-2
Join Renae at In Pursuit of God as she blogs through Job 40-42.
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Job 38-39.
Blogging Through the Bible Job 37-38
Job 37 starts in the middle of Elihu’s monologue about the works and wisdom of God. These passages are good for us to read because so many times in the hum drum of life, we can forget how very amazing our God really is. Elihu’s heart trembles when he thinks about God, and ours should too.
Among the things He does, God
- Sends forth the thunder of His mouth and lightning to the ends of the earth.
- Does great things we can’t comprehend.
- Tells the snow and the rain to to fall.
- Seals the hand of every man.
- Gives ice with His breath.
- Scatters the clouds at His command.
Elihu Questions Job
Then the whole conversation turns from a list of amazing things God does to an interrogation. I can just see Elihu sort of swing around, pointing a finger as he asks him a couple of questions about those very clouds:
“Do you know when God dispatches them, and causes the light of His cloud to shine? Do you know how the clouds are balanced, those wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge?”Job 37:15-16
But then he gets nervous. How could he speak for God? As arrogant as he has been in his earlier diatribes, he does, at least, have the sense to realize that he might not exactly be doing God justice with his weak words. He reasons that people can’t even look at the sun. How could they possibly stand in the presence of our great God?
God Finally Has Enough
So far God has been silent as the men go back and forth, but He decides at this moment to interject. He’s going to clear a few things up just now, but none of the things he will say immediately answers anybody’s questions or proves any man was right in the argument. He starts with a little comment, possibly directed to the previous speaker Elihu:
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: ‘Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?’”Job 38:1-2
Then He tells Job to buckle his seat belt because He has a few questions of His own.
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?”Job 38:4-5
The questions involve all kinds of topics, but they are basically all the same. They are asking Job where he was when things were created and if he had the same power as God. They were meant to remind Job that He was God, and Job was NOT. This is a good passage for us to read too. The questions remind us the amazing majesty and power of God and the great breadth and depth of His power. There is no one like our God. And even when we might feel for just a moment that we understand and are in control of our tiny little lives, we really haven’t even glimpsed understanding and are but specks of dust swirling in a wind of His breath.
Dear God, as we go about our ordinary lives, please help never to fall into the trap of thinking that You are are also ordinary. Let us be humbled to remember your great power and majesty and that You are always in control. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
God humbled Job right before He let him off the hook and restored what he had lost. Does God still humble His children today?
God spoke out of the power of whirlwind, but His Holy Spirit is the still small voice. Why isn’t this a contradiction?
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Job 35-36
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Job 33-34.
Blogging Through the Bible Job 31-32
I’m. Not. Guilty.
Charged with hypocrisy, Job defends himself again. He knows it’s not all lip service. God looks at the condition of the heart, and Job knows that he has done his best to live with integrity.
“Does He not see my ways, and count all my steps?”Job 31:4
He then starts listing the sins that he HASN’T committed. But, he doesn’t just include the sin. He includes even the mere THOUGHT or desire to sin.
- Dishonesty: he hasn’t used dishonest scales.
- Adultery: he hasn’t even looked at a woman.
- Poor treatment of his servants: he hasn’t mistreated them because he knows they are God’s children too.
- Selfish with the poor: he hasn’t turned away the poor and fatherless.
- Covetousness/Idolatry: he doesn’t love his money more than God.
- Hatred of enemies: he hasn’t cursed his enemy or rejoiced at his destruction.
- Lack of hospitality: he hasn’t turned away travelers from staying at his home.
His reasoning for WHY he doesn’t do these things or even think about them is worthy of note here. It’s the same reason you and I live our lives to the best of our ability in obedience: we fear God.
“For destruction from God is a terror to me, and because of His magnificence I cannot endure.”Job 31:23
After Job’s words, the three friends are silent for a minute. Job just wasn’t getting what they were saying. What point was there in continuing to argue? Then a fourth “friend” shows up to fuss at them all. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting Facebook flashbacks here. How many times have people been having a discussion that was about all wrapped up, and here comes someone else to get everyone riled up again? The man’s name is Elihu, and he’s on nobody’s side.
Elihu Is Really Mad at Everybody
“Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.”Job 32:2-3
Elijhu explains why he was just now joining the conversation. He’s younger than the rest, so he was giving them a chance to speak first. He took their little pause as permission to enter the conversation, so here we go.
He basically says. “Look. You guys are older, so I didn’t want to jump in before you had a chance to use those grey hears for what they are good for: wisdom. But none of you has convinced Job of anything. So, before I absolutely BURST, I’m going to give you the what’s what from the Holy Spirit.”
Dear God, please help us to always discuss matters with others in a civilized way. When we are wrong, let us repent and ask others for forgiveness. When we are injured, let us be quick to forgive. Please let us to remember that in all things we must have order, for you are not the author of confusion. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Have you ever been in a position in which you must justify your actions in front of other Christians? Did you react in a way pleasing to God?
Have there been times when you have been silent or spoken last out of respect for those who were also in the conversation?
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Job 29-30
Check out this bonus article on Job 28 from Angela G at No Longer Lukewarm: Twinkly Trash: A Closer Look at Job 28
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Job 27-28.
Blogging Through the Bible Job 25-26
So if you have been following the Saga, the argument from Job’s “friends” seems to be that for Job to be experiencing this much trouble, he must be a wicked, sinful man. If he would just repent already, Job could be done with this whole ordeal. This is (again) dramatic irony because we, as readers, know what Job knows: he is innocent before God. Repenting for imaginary sins won’t help. He must simply endure.
In Job 24, Job reminds them that there are plenty of wicked people doing just fine out there. Sometimes God doesn’t smite the wicked. He allows them to prosper (thereby nullifying their argument completely). He makes his point apparently, because Bildad changes tracks.
He decides to remind Job the vast expanse of difference between the power and majesty of God and the lowliness of man.
This passage teaches us two things. First, when arguing with brothers and sisters in Christ, there are times when it is best to let a matter drop instead of continuing to argue. Second, no matter what is happening in our lives, we must always remember that God does all things well. There will never be a time when God is wrong and man is right. Our righteousness is but filthy rags.
One more interesting thing from this passage is that it contains yet another clue pointing to Jesus Christ as the Messiah. I super love how you can find little nuggets like little rabbit trails that you can follow to treasure. Here’s a passage in Job 25 that corresponds to Psalm 22:6.
“How much less man, who is a maggot, and a son of man, who is a worm?”Job 25:6
This is what Bildad says when referring to the insignificance of man vs an all-powerful God. He makes a distinction here between man and the son of man.
“But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people.”Psalm 22:6
This is what David says when he is recounting what we know to be the plight of Jesus Himself as He was mocked and ridiculed on the cross to save us from our own sins. The Son of Man is not JUST a man. It is a term synonymous with Jesus, the Christ of God.
Job feels kicked while he’s down. “Why can’t you just give me a little comfort?” he seems to say. Then he echoes the idea of the very power of God and again. In the face of the very arrogance and assurance of his friends that believe they KNOW God, Job again reminds us that we really can’t understand everything about Him, because He is, in fact, God.
“Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him but the thunder of His power who can understand?”Job 26:14
Dear God, thank you for your mercy in that even when we don’t understand everything, You never change in Your goodness and mercy. And, thank You for the Bible in which we can see time and again that your Word is truth. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Have you ever been in an argument with another believer and decided to “agree to disagree”?
Does the power of God bring you comfort or fear? (It should do both!)
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Job 23-24
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Job 21-22.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Job 17-20
Blogging Through the Bible Job 15-16
Eliphaz Thinks He Knows
Eliphaz is unimpressed with Job and his speeches. He thinks he knows exactly what’s going on here, and he doesn’t hesitate to inform his good buddy. He accuses him of not fearing God and not praying enough.
“Yes, you cast off fear, and restrain prayer before God.”Job 15:4
He still thinks Job is in sin, and every word out of his mouth that isn’t humble repentance to God is just digging Job a deeper hole with God.
“Your own mouth condemns you, and not I; Yes, your own lips testify against you.”Job 15:6
He also thinks that the very advice he, himself, was giving was sent from God to set Job straight and that Job wasn’t being very smart by rejecting what he had to say.
“I will tell you, hear me; what I have seen I will declare, what wise men have told, not hiding anything received from their fathers…”Job 15:17-18
And he reminds Job that the wicked are the ones with all the problems. (So if Job has problems, he must be wicked.) And God will ultimately judge the wicked.
“The wicked man writhes with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden from the oppressor.Job 15:20
Again, I’m reminded of the times when people THINK they know exactly what is happening in a given situation. We assume that someone is going through a trial to deal with sin, to chasten one into obedience, or to learn a lesson, but when all is said and done, we don’t really know anything. We certainly don’t know how much someone is or is not praying. We shouldn’t assume.
Job Answers Eliphaz
“Some comfort you are,” Job seems to say to his accusers. You have only told me the things I already knew. If I was in your position, I could say the same thing, but I wouldn’t. I would at least try to help you feel a little better!
And now, he’s kind of sick of talking about it.
“Though I speak, my grief is not relieved; and if I remain silent, how am I eased?”Job 16: 6
He’s been through a lot, and it has all been so very PUBLIC. His friends have seen him brought to the lowest of lows, and he has no idea why except maybe that God hates him and wants him to be humiliated.
“He tears me in His wrath, and hates me; He gnashes at me with His teeth; my adversary sharpens His gaze on me. They gape at me with their mouth, they strike me reproachfully on the cheek, they gather together against me. God has delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over to the hands of the wicked.I was at ease, but He has shattered me; He also has taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces; He has set me up for His target.”Job 16:9-12
He doesn’t know what he has possibly done wrong, and he again asserts his innocence. He simply can’t fathom how his current predicament is the result of the righteous life he had previously lived.
“My face isflushed from weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death; although no violence is in my hands, and my prayer is pure.”Job 16: 16-17
Job’s friends didn’t know the extent of his innocence, but Job did – and so did heaven. He was starting to see death as a comfort. On the one hand, it would be the end to his suffering. On the other, he might finally get some answers.
It is definitely something to remember that we are the only ones who actually know our own guilt or innocence with God, but even then we might not have the complete picture about a given situation. Job’s friends judged him unrighteously, but even Job’s righteous judgement of himself was missing vital pieces of information. Right now, we see through a glass darkly. That is why it is so vitally important to know the character of God and trust Him in every situation.
Dear God, thank you for helping us to remember that we don’t know everything in every situation. We shouldn’t judge others when we don’t know all the facts, and we must even be careful in judging ourselves when we THINK we know all the facts. You are the only one who sees and knows everything. Please help us to always trust in You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
How does the “Golden Rule” seem to apply in this situation?
Have there been times when you examined yourself completely and still had no idea why something was happening in your life?
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Job 13-14.
Join Tatiana Adurias at The Musings of Mum as she blogs through Job 11-12. COMING SOON.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Job 9-10
Blogging Through the Bible Job 7-8
Job’s Pity Party
To this point, Job has really been handling the whole situation well. Even when his “friends” come to accuse him and his wife tells him to curse God and die, Job really has kept a stiff upper lip about the whole thing. But he’s getting tired. He is hurting, and his patience is wearing thin.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there. When something happens, I always start with the best intentions about dealing with things in a godly way. I try my best to continue to love, continue to hope, and continue in my faith. But the longer a trial drags on and the more extreme the test, the more those imperfections that we have been hiding deep down inside me come to the surface. It’s almost like those fish you feed at the park. The pond looks calm and empty until you start to throw some breadcrumbs. Then one or two, and finally a frenzy of fish are roiling and splashing where the once-calm water was.
Job Lets Go
The dam breaks. Job reminds God that his life is short and gives him an earful about what God has been doing to him lately. Of course, we know that it isn’t God at all but Satan who is doing the tormenting. God is just allowing it for His purposes (something we all need to remember, for sure!).
“Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Am I a sea, or a sea serpent, that You set a guard over me? When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,’ Then You scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions, so that my soul chooses strangling and death rather than my body. I loathe my life;Job 7:11-16
I would not live forever. Let me alone,for my days are but a breath.”
He feels (rightly) targeted and asks God what he has done to deserve what he is going through. He also asks why God doesn’t forgive him and take away the things that are offensive to Him. Finally, he says he will die and then God will look for him, but he will be gone. Of course, this is ridiculous given that God knows everything, but we say things we don’t mean when we’re upset.
Bildad Gets In On the Action
But his friends still aren’t getting it. It’s dramatic irony in its finest. The reader knows why everything is happening because we were privy to the details in heaven, but Bildad is just a character playing a role. He sees some things, but some things are hidden to him – just like you and I experience every day. The Bible says it this way in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
So he chastises Job for his words to God and accuses him (and his sons) of sins that MUST be the cause of his current predicament. Okay, can we be honest here for a minute? How many times do people do that today? Don’t you know people who really can’t seem to catch a break in life? Sometimes it might be sins catching up with them, but sometimes it might be generational curses, and sometimes it might be God just getting their attention. The point is, we don’t know, so we shouldn’t assume.
But Nobody ever mentioned that to Bildad. He still thinks he has an iron-clad case.
“Behold, God will not cast away the blameless,nor will He uphold the evildoers…And the dwelling place of the wicked will come to nothing.”Luke 8:20 & 22
Again with the dramatic irony. We know that while this is TRUE, this is not true in THIS situation. Here is where discernment, humility, and keeping close to God comes in. It’s a good lesson for us all.
Dear God, thank you for your grace for us when we are hurting and upset. Please help us to always remember that we probably don’t know everything. Help us to be humble and always pray in faith to You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
The last time you went through a trial, did you maintain your Christian witness, or did you slip up and have to repent?
Are there people you know who ALWAYS seem to have something going wrong in life? Have you caught yourself wondering if it is something they might have done?
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Job 5-6.
Join Tatiana Adurias at The Musings of Mum as she blogs through Job 3-4.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Job 1-2
Blogging Through the Bible Esther 9-10
Some things in the Old Testament are hard to understand. As Christians, we are taught to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, and to pray for those who spitefully use us. But these Old Testament Jews were hard core eye for an eye sometimes.
Chapter 9 opens with the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them. Because of Mordecai and Esther herself, the decree had gone out from King Ahasuerus that, instead, the Jews had free reign to take out anyone who opposed them. Fear of Mordecai fell on the people because he had become pretty powerful by this time, and everybody knew it.
The carnage was intense.
“Thus the Jews defeated all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, with slaughter and destruction, and did what they pleased with those who hated them.”Esther 9:5
On the first day, in Shushan the citadel, the Jews killed 500 men plus the ten sons of Hamon. They didn’t take any goods or money. It wasn’t about that, apparently. That day, the report came to the king about what the Jews had done. The king asked Esther if she had any other requests. She asked that the decree remain in effect one more day and that Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows. So the next day, the Jews killed three hundred more men and hanged the sons.
The rest of the Jews in all the king’s provinces got together and had their days as well. Seventy five thousand enemies were killed, but no plunder was taken. This was the 13thof the month.
The Feast of Purim
On the 14thof Adar, they rested and made a feast. Mordecai decided that this should be a yearly thing to commemorate the occasion, and Queen Esther confirmed it with full authority by sending letters to all 127 provinces. They called it the Feast of Purim because Haman had cast Pur (that is, the lot) to destroy them, but when Esther came before the king, the decree was made to return the evil intent on his own head. It is a day in which the Jews rest from their enemies and spend the day feasting in joy, sending presents to each other and gifts to the poor. From generation to generation, it has been observed among Jews so that the memory of what happened here will never be forgotten.
King Ahasuerus was a powerful king, imposing tributes on the lands and islands of the sea. Mordecai was his second in command, and all of their exploits are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia. Mordecai was popular with the Jews and always looked out for his people and tried to keep peace with his countrymen.
Dear God, please help us to always remember to forgive our enemies. We know that vengeance is Yours and you will repay. Also, please let us always remember to give thanks to you when you fight our battles for us and give us the victory. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Have you ever stopped to think about “an eye for an eye”? Why do you think God started with that before He changed it to “forgive your enemies”?
Can you think of a time when God fought a battle for you? Did you thank Him?
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Esther 7-8
Join Tatiana Adurias at The Musings of Mum as she blogs through Esther 5-6.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Esther 3-4.
Blogging Through the Bible Esther 1-2
A Big Party
When we open in Esther 1, we find King Ahasuerus in charge of 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia. He was rich. So rich, in fact, that when he had a party to show off for all his officials, servants, and princes of all the provinces, it took 180 days to show the splendor of it all. Showing off works up on appetite, apparently, so at the end, the king made a feast lasting for seven days. The décor was marvelous, the goblets unique, and the wine was flowing. But drinking wasn’t mandatory. Each person could choose to eat or drink what he liked.
Meanwhile in another part of the palace, Queen Vashti was having a similar soiree for the ladies.
On the seventh day of the feast when the king had plenty to drink, he gathered his Eunuchs and told them to bring Queen Vashti before the king. Now, eunuchs were men who had specific jobs that required to work with women. They were castrated, one would suppose, so there would be no danger of temptation for any funny business with the ladies. Anyway, the king commanded the eunuchs to bring the queen and to make sure she was wearing her royal crown. She was very beautiful, and he wanted to show her off to his friends.
She. Said. No.
A Big Insult
Now, in today’s modern world this might not mean the end of a marriage, but for this king at that time, this was a deal breaker. The king was so mad that he checked with all his top guys about what he should do. He was drunk, he was mad, and this chick was going to pay. And, just like often happens when guys get together (or girls for that matter), they started to get even more worked up the more they thought about it. Pretty soon, they had a national incident on their hands.
“And Memucan answered before the king and the princes: ‘Queen Vashti has not only wronged the king, but also all the princes, and all the people who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus.’”Esther 1:16
His reasoning went that as soon as the other women heard that Queen Vashti got away with this kind of thing with the king, pretty soon every wife in the kingdom would quit coming when their husbands called. So he advised King Ahasuerus to make a decree proclaiming that all wives must honor their husbands. Oh, and he should give Queen Vashti’s position to somebody else who deserved it more than she did.
“Good idea,” said the king. He sent letters to all the provinces to each man in his own language that every man would be the master in his own house, and Vashti was out.
A Big Lesson
Poor Queen Vashti had let the sumptuous surroundings, her position as queen, and the freedom within the kingdom go to her head. She realized, too late, that her privileges could be taken as quickly as they were given. This story makes me think of the times in my life when I have gotten a little too big for my britches, times when pride crept in and I thought things revolved around me. As children of God, pride is definitely a big one to watch out for. We must always remember that everything we have has been given to us by God. He gives, and He can take away. It’s all for His good pleasure. But unlike the king in this story, our King loves us and wants what is best for us.
Out With the Old: In With the New
The king’s servants had a new project: Operation Find a New Queen. Beautiful virgins were rounded up from all over the provinces and brought to the women’s quarters at Shushan the citadel. Beauty preparations were given to them, and they awaited their time to meet the king.
Now, in this city was a certain Jew named Mordecai from the tribe of Benjamin. His family had been carried away captive from Jerusalem, and he was the adopted father of his uncle’s daughter who had no parents. Esther was beautiful, so of course, she was rounded up too. She caught the eye of the head eunuch, so she was put into the queue to meet the king. She got an allowance, beauty preparations, and seven maidservants to attend to her. She and her maids were moved to the best place in the house of women.
Mordecai had told Esther not to reveal that she was from a Jewish family, so she didn’t. Each day, he would check on her, and this lasted for a year. She had gone through six months of oil of myrrh, six months with perfumes and other beautification procedures. When it was her turn to see the king, she got to pick whatever she wanted to go in with her. She chose to take the advice of the chief eunuch and take in only what he told her to take. Good move. The king loved her and made her queen instead of Vashti.
To celebrate, the king made a great feast called “the Feast of Esther” and invited all his officials and servants. He proclaimed the day a holiday and gave generous gifts.
One day while the virgins were gathered together, Mordecai sat within the king’s gate. While there, he happened to overhear two of the king’s eunuchs plotting against the king. Mordecai told Esther, and she told the king in his name. After an investigation, the two men were hung on the gallows, and the incident was recorded in the chronicles in the presence of the king. Meanwhile, Esther still kept her mouth shut about her family heritage.
Dear God, please help us to always remember that everything we have has been given to us by you. The world does not revolve around us. It does, however, revolve around YOU. Please also help us to honor our family commitments and stand fast in the position that God places us for His glory. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Have you found yourself acting like Vashti in the past? How did you correct it?
We aren’t very far into the story, and already Esther’s obedience is plain (first to her guardian and then to her eunuch handler). Are there places in your life in which God is talking to you about obedience?
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Words From the Wheel and Telling Hearts as she blogs through Nehemiah 13.
Join Tatiana Adurias at The Musings of Mum as she blogs through Nehemiah 11-12.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Nehemiah 9-10
Blogging Through the Bible Nehemiah 7-8
With Nehemiah’s building project complete, he begins the real work of getting the city back up and running the way it should. He starts with a grand opening and appointing watchmen for the walls.
“And I said to them, ‘Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard, let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house.’”Nehemiah 7:3
The Concept of the Watchmen
The concept of the watchmen is all through scripture. It’s mentioned in Isaiah 62:6-7 in the same way as here: men who physically watched for invaders trying to breach the walls of Jerusalem. But it’s also mentioned in Ezekiel 3 and Isaiah 56:10 in a more spiritual sense. Men (and women) are appointed by God to watch for spiritual danger for God’s people. When they sense it or hear it from the Lord, they are to sound the alarm, letting people know the danger. If the people turn from their wicked ways and repent, good. If not, the blood is on their own heads. But, if the watchmen get slack and do not warn the people and they do not turn away from their ways, the blood will be on the heads of the watchmen. It’s a pretty sobering concept, and it is one that is very much alive and active today. Just tapping into social media for a minute, you will find several people letting us know that the hour is late, the time to prepare and get right with God is at hand, and Jesus is coming very soon.
The People Return By Houses
Now, the city was all ready to go, the watchmen were on the wall, and the doors were about to be opened, but the houses had still not been rebuilt. It was going to take some administration to get everybody in and working on the NEW projects at hand. Nehemiah says, “Then my God put it into my heart…” I LOVE that! It shows that God was interacting with His people then just like He interacts with us today. Anyway, God tells him to gather up all the nobles, rulers, and people and register them by family.
See, Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon had carried away those people, but they were coming back, everyone to his/her own city. A big list follows with lots of numbers, but the list had some interesting characteristics that are worth mentioning.
First, some people were listed by name. How important those men must have been to be listed by name when the rest of the list are in thousands. Those men were Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamia, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah.
The Big List
Next there is a big list of the people who are returning, but the list is really strange. First, it starts off with a list of men and their sons – 18 to be exact. The format is “the sons of ____” where the blank is the name of a man, and then it gives the number. Now, “sons” here is obviously not in the literal sense. Nobody can have 2,172 sons, for example. But it does show that family lines were extremely important. A person’s family line could tell someone a lot in those days, and the honor in a family was not to be underestimated (as we will see when we get to the list of people who could not tell their lineage).
But here’s the weird thing. Right in the middle of this list, we switch from “the sons of ____” in which the blank is the name of a man to “the men of ____” where the blank here is the name of a city. There are eight of those, and then we go back to “the sons of ___” for five, and then we switch to priests. There are four “the sons of ____” listed under the heading of priests.
Then there is a paragraph break, and we sense that we have entered another type of list. These are people who are involved in the temple system. It starts with the Levites and lists two “sons of ___” with numbers. Then the singers with one “sons of ___” and a number, and then the gatekeepers. After the gatekeeper, there are 6 “sons of ___” with only one number at the end of that list. Then the Nethinim, or temple assistants, are listed with thirty-two “sons of ___” but no number after it. Then the sons of Solomon’s servants were listed with ten “the sons of ___” listed of those. The number for all of the Nethinim and the sons of Solomon’s servants comes at the end (392).
Then we switch to people who came from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherob, Addon, and Immer. They didn’t know their lineage. There were three “sons of ____” and then priests with 3 “sons of ___”
Interestingly enough, it was so important that the people know from which house they came that the priests who could not identify their lineage were excluded from being priests in Jerusalem. They counted them as “defiled,” and they were excluded from the most holy things until a priest could consult with the Urim and Thummin, objects worn by the high priest that could somehow tell God’s will in a situation.
“Altogether the whole assembly was forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty, besides their male and female servants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven; and they had two hundred and forty-five men and women singers. Their horses were seven hundred and thirty-six, their mules two hundred and forty-five, their camels four hundred and thirty-five, and donkeys six thousand seven hundred and twenty.”Nehemiah 7:66-69
There has to be a reason why this list seems so ADHD. It must have to do with the familial importance of the people listed. Somebody, somewhere, might get the significance. As for us, it is enough to understand that we may not always understand. The Bible is a big, beautiful project. We can learn and learn until our time to go Home, but we will likely never unlock all the mysteries inside.
Donations To the Treasury
The end of this chapter talks about the cash flow. Treasury donations came from some of the heads of houses, the governor (that was Nehemiah himself), and the people. They donated gold drachmas, basins, priestly garments, and silver minas.
Then everyone dwelt in their cities and Ezra (who must be at least 90 years old by this time) reads the law.
Day 1: They Gather At the Water Gate
When Ezra the priest and scribe reads the law, it is the seventh month. Everyone gathers in front of the water gate, and there is a feast for seven days. This is significant. Many archeologists put the water gate near the Gihon Spring, a distribution point for fresh water. Think about it. In Jesus’ time, He attended the feast and gave a Word about the Holy Spirit who would make His home with all who believe on Him. John 7:37-38 says, “ On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
Ezra reads from morning to midday. He’s standing on a platform of wood made just for this purpose, and a list of people are given to his right and left. The people stood to listen, “And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God.” And the people answered “Amen, Amen!” while lifting their hands, bowing their heads, and worshiping the Lord with their faces to the ground. Then others stood to help the people understand the Law, and the people stuck around to listen. Then the people wept. What a picture of revival!
Then Nehemiah said:
“Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”Nehemiah 8:10
The Levites comforted the people and sent them away to eat and drink and rejoice. That was day one.
Day 2: Feast of Tabernacles/Feast of Booths/Sukkoth
On the second day, the heads of the fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were still at it with Ezra, searching the scriptures to understand the Law. Then they found the place in which God had commanded Moses to tell the children of Israel to dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month. They should announce and proclaim that in all cities of Jerusalem. They said:
“Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.”Nehemiah 8:15
Then the people made booths on the roofs of their houses, in their own courtyards, in the courts of the house of God, in the open square of the Water Gate, and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim. All those who came back from captivity made booths and sat in them. This was the first time that this had occurred since Joshua’s time, and there was great rejoicing. Ezra read every day for seven days, and they kept the feast for all seven. On the eighth day, there was a sacred assembly.
What’s the Deal With the Booths?
Like little huts, people made these temporary shelters that probably reminded them of the Israelites’ temporary life in Egypt and their journey through the wilderness, moving from place to place. Even more, it gave them a picture of our temporary pilgrimage on earth and the permanence of an eternity in heaven. They would spend hours and days relaxing, meditating on God, and considering their past, present, and future. Their prophets had given them so many revelations about the truth of the importance of waiting on God. They might have even thought about Jonah who made a booth while waiting on God to decide about Ninevah.
Here are a couple more pictures from my friend’s celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles:
Dear God, please help us to always listen when your watchmen speak. Even more so, let us always be attentive when You, Yourself, lay something on our hearts for us to do for you. We praise you and thank you for the rivers of living water You have given us through Your precious Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!
What have you heard the watchmen saying lately?
Do you have an appointed time each day in which you, yourself, get shut in with God to meditate on Him?
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Nehemiah 1-2
Blogging Through the Bible Ezra 9 and 10
Temple rebuilt? Check. Levites and priests installed? Done. Families returned to Jerusalem. Yes! Wait. About those families…
Not Good News
Ezra was trying to get things running the way they were supposed to be. He worked so hard in seeking the Lord, doing God’s will, and teaching others what to do. So, when Ezra heard from the leaders that there was something amiss with the people, he took immediate steps to correct it. It seems that the people of Israel (even the priests and the Levites) had intermarried with the heathens while in captivity “so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands.” Not good.
When Ezra gets the report, he tears his garment and his robe, plucks out some of the hair on his head and beard, and sits down, astonished. Have you ever been so frustrated that you pulled your own hair? I have. It’s an intense reaction here, but Ezra worked so hard to make things right, and they just…weren’t. These guys had just spent a long captivity because they hadn’t done things Lord’s way, and already the people were blowing it again. Those who fear the Lord gather around him, and they just sort of sit there, stunned, until evening.
Ezra Spills It All To God
At the evening sacrifice, Ezra falls down on his knees and spills everything to God. He basically says, “Wow, God. I can’t even look at your right now. I’m so ashamed. We have been so guilty of so many things, and for those crimes we were delivered to the kings of other lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to humiliation. And right when you show us a little grace, get us a rebuilt temple and even a wall in Judah, this is how we repay you? You TOLD us that we weren’t to mingle with the heathen or to want the things they want, and it would be well with us. After all this, you punish us less than we deserved, and we break your commandments by committing these abominations? You are righteous and we are guilty. ‘Nobody can stand before you because of this!’”
When You’re Wrong, You’re Wrong
Meanwhile, while Ezra is weeping and praying, a large assembly of people start to gather to do some weeping of their own. It’s starting to sink in that God wasn’t playing before. He gave them another chance, and they were already starting off on the wrong foot. There is a reason why it says in in Proverbs 9:10 that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Smart people fear God.
Then somebody comes up with an idea. Let’s just follow the law.
“And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, ‘We have trespassedagainst our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this. Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.’”Ezra 10:2-3
Here, I’m kind of torn. On the one hand, I totally get that God rules, and when we screw up, sometimes we just have to abandon everything and just sort of shake the Etch a Sketch and start over from zero. Nothing we ever lose on earth can compare to what we can lose by not being obedient to God.
On the other hand, I can’t help thinking about those poor little babies losing their mommies and daddies. It wasn’t their faults that one of their parents was a pagan, and now they won’t even get the benefit of being raised by someone who followed the one true God. This reminds me of the story of Naomi. Her sons die, and she says to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your pagan gods.” Ruth doesn’t go, but Orpah is like…”Do-tee-do, going back to paganism now.” Hello? Pagans don’t go to heaven. They go to be with their gods in hell. But God knows people’s hearts. He knows who will repent and who won’t no matter what. Maybe that’s what this is here.
In any case, everybody swears that they will put away their pagan families. Ezra is fasting because he still feels bad about it, and a proclamation is issued that everybody gather at Jerusalem within three days. People who choose to stay with their heathen familes will get their property confiscated and be cut off from the remnant of God’s people.
After three days, everybody gathers, and Ezra addresses them, instructing them to repent and separate. The people agree to do both, but at this point, it’s pouring down rain, and they beg for a little time and order for the process, which they receive. Ezra and some elders start interviewing people, a man at a time, until they get through everybody.
The rest of the chapter is a list of people who had taken pagan wives, even those who were associated with the temple. Sons of priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, and more promised to put away wives and even children to follow the Lord His way.
Dear God, please help us to always admit when we are wrong. You are God, and we are not. We may not understand everything, but we know that you have our best interest in mind. Thank you for helping us to be obedient. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!
Can you think of other places in the Bible in which things looked unfair from the natural?
What might have been the consequences for keeping those wives and children around?
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through Ezra 3-4
Ezra 1 and 2
People make their own choices for good or evil, but God can stir a heart like no other. Babylon had taken the Jewish people captive seventy years before, and as prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah, that time period was ending. King Cyrus of Persia was in charge then, and God stirred up his spirit to make a proclamation to free the people and get them back on the road to worshiping the one true God.
King Cyrus Makes a Proclamation
He basically acknowledges that all of his kingdoms have been given to him by God, and that God has commanded him to build a temple in Jerusalem. He tells anybody who names God as his own to go to Jerusalem and build the house of the Lord God (for He is God). Everybody should help by donating silver, goods, and livestock besides the freewill offerings for the house of God.
Then God moves some other spirits too. He touches the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, the priests, and the Levites, and they all head over to Jerusalem to start building. Everybody else gets all their goods and “precious things” together and makes a big offering.
Finally, King Cyrus digs out the articles which Nebuchadnezzer had taken from Jerusalem to put into the temples of his idols and gets the treasurer to hand them over to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. Items listed include: 39 gold platters, 1,000 silver platters, 20 knives, 30 gold basins, 410 silver basins, and 1,000 other articles. There were 5, 400 articles of silver and gold.
Then Sheshbazzar took all the loot plus the captives who were still in Babylon and delivers everything and everybody to Jersusalem.
This whole situation reminds me to keep hoping for salvation for my lost loved ones. God can and does stir hearts to do His will. He can change a situation in a heartbeat.
The Captives Return
Ezra 2 starts with the people’s return from captivity. Nebuchadnezzer had taken them away so many years before, but now they were returning, each to his/her own land. The Bible lists the people by the land and the number returned. Then it lists the number of priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, temple assistants, and sons of the priests as well as Solomon’s servants. In total, there were 42,360 besides the 7,337 male and female servants plus lots of horses, mules, camels, and donkeys.
When they got to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem everybody gives generously to support the work on the temple. The people gave 161,000 gold drachmas, 5,000 minas of silver, and 100 priestly garments. Then the people dwelt in their cities.
Dear God, thank you for being a God who still stirs hearts. Help us to know what to pray in accordance with Your will to accomplish Your purposes. Let us always remember that wherever we might wander, You are our true home. Help us to always give from our hearts to your house. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
What are you asking God to stir for you?
The people gave from their hearts. Are you always a cheerful giver?