Archive for the 'Bible' Category

Seek

But if you look for the LORD your God when you are among those nations, you will find him whenever you search for him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29

Those who know your name trust you, O LORD,
because you have never deserted those who seek your help.
Psalm 9:10

Young lions go hungry and may starve,
but those who seek the LORD’s help
have all the good things they need.
11 Come, children, listen to me.
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Which of you wants a full life?
Who would like to live long enough to enjoy good things?
13 Keep your tongue from saying evil things
and your lips from speaking deceitful things.
14 Turn away from evil, and do good. Seek peace, and pursue it!
15 The LORD’s eyes are on righteous people. His ears hear their cry for help.
16 The LORD confronts those who do evil
in order to wipe out all memory of them from the earth.
17 Righteous people cry out.
The LORD hears and rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to those whose hearts are humble.
He saves those whose spirits are crushed.
19 The righteous person has many troubles,
but the LORD rescues him from all of them.
20 The LORD guards all of his bones. Not one of them is broken.
21 Evil will kill wicked people,
and those who hate righteous people will be condemned.
22 The LORD protects the souls of his servants.
All who take refuge in him will never be condemned.
Psalm 34:10-22

My son, if you take my words to heart
and treasure my commands within you,
2 if you pay close attention to wisdom,
and let your mind reach for understanding,
3 if indeed you call out for insight,
if you ask aloud for understanding,
4 if you search for wisdom as if it were money
and hunt for it as if it were hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and you will find the knowledge of God.
6 The LORD gives wisdom.
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:1-6

I love those who love me.
Those eagerly looking for me [wisdom] will find me.
Proverbs 8:17

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
Lamentations 3:25

“Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 Everyone who asks will receive. The one who searches will find, and for the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “If your child asks you for bread, would any of you give him a stone? 10 Or if your child asks for a fish, would you give him a snake? 11 Even though you’re evil, you know how to give good gifts to your children. So how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?
Matthew 7:7-11

Obviously, so many more could be included.

I was going to only use OT passages, but I couldn’t leave out the last one. I have to remember that if we ask for spiritual things that we know are God’s will according to Scripture, he will give them to us in his time. If we ask for a new car, maybe, probably not.

The Lord is Near

The Lord is always near, and we can go near to him.

The LORD is near to those whose hearts are humble.
He saves those whose spirits are crushed.
Psalm 34:18

The LORD is near to everyone who prays to him,
to every faithful person who prays to him.
Psalm 145:18

But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
Psalm 73:28 NLT

As you go, spread this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’
Matthew 10:7

The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5b

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.
James 4:7-8a NIV

It’s interesting that resisting the devil is bookmarked by two things we can do.

God’s Will Is Always A God Thing

We need to get rid of these ideas that answered prayer is when God grants a request the way we want it. Or that it’s a “God thing” if something turns out the way we prefer it to. Or that “it’s a good thing God was watching out for us” when we avoided an accident or other calamity, but are quiet about God if otherwise. If “all our days were written in His book and planned before a single one of them began” (Psalm 139:16 HCSB), and “not one sparrow falls to the ground without our Father’s consent” (Matthew 10:29 HCSB), then it’s all a God thing, whether or not we perceive the matter as good or bad. A friend wrote in a recent comment to a blog post, “There is nothing God can do, or any part of His will accomplished, except that His infinite love be a part of it. No matter how we perceive God’s will, His love is never diminished.”

Some claim that strong faith is defined by throwing our energies into begging God for a miracle that will take away our suffering and then believing without doubting that he will do it. But faith is not measured by our ability to manipulate God to get what we want, it is measured by our willingness to submit to what he wants. It takes great faith to say to God, “Even if you don’t heal me or the one I love, even if you don’t change my circumstances, even if you don’t restore my relationship, even if you allow me to lose what is most precious to me, I will still love you and obey you and believe that you are good.”

–Nancy Guthrie, Hearing Jesus Speak Into your Sorrow

Jesus and Paul received ‘no’ as an answer to prayer, which were both very integral parts of God’s will.

“Father, if it is your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, your will must be done, not mine.”
Luke 22:42 GW

So that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me– so that I would not become arrogant. I begged the Lord three times to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NET

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 NIV

Even though you’re evil, you know how to give good gifts to your children. So how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?
Matthew 7:11 GW

I’m challenged to pray that by faith I will see God’s will as always loving, whether or not things go the way I’d like, and whatever losses I may have, as with all of the immeasurably good things he gives me.

(When single verses are given to support an idea, it’s always encouraged to look at them in context.)

Prayer for God’s Strength

I confess that I often worry about not having enough money someday for whatever reason. God doesn’t promise that we’ll be prosperous financially or materially, contrary to what some Christians believe. But God promises grace and that he’ll be enough for us, however much he decides to provide for us and in what forms. I can imagine that some people are in this situation and wonder what God is up to.

The NLT Study Bible notes have this about Habakkuk 1:2-4:

“To Habakkuk, God seemed indifferent to the evil permeating society in Judah (Habakkuk 1:3-4) and unresponsive to his complaints about it (Habakkuk 1:2).”

“Habakkuk’s prophecy concludes with a psalm-like prayer.” The last part is below. I don’t normally post notes from study Bibles, but I think these are very helpful.

Habakkuk 3:16

“Although the full realization of God’s mighty power sapped Habakkuk’s strength to the point that he trembled, he would wait quietly (see Habakkuk 2:3) for God’s judgment to descend. • My legs gave way beneath me: Literally Decay entered my bones.

Habakkuk 3:16-19 NLT
I trembled inside when I heard this;
my lips quivered with fear.
My legs gave way beneath me,
and I shook in terror.
I will wait quietly for the coming day
when disaster will strike the people who invade us.
17Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
18yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

“After recounting God’s mighty acts of redemption (Habakkuk 3:2-15), and pausing to consider them (Habakkuk 3:16), Habakkuk now reaffirms his trust in God as he closes his prayer. • Even though . . . yet I will rejoice: Even if God never pours out material blessing on his people again, he is still worthy of all the trust and praise they can give. Come what may, the prophet could rejoice, knowing that the LORD is not only Israel’s Redeemer, but also the source of his own salvation.”

Philippians 4:11-13 TNIV
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Wanting God and Wanting to be Like Him

I would like to continue with trips through Scripture, but I think this will need some explanatory notes, or you might not know where I’m trying to go. I hope this makes sense.

I love getting to know God. I love God’s law and commands. I also like being like Him and wanting to be more like Him. The latter is a lot more difficult on our part, because it involves morality, obedience, self-denial, and holiness. These aren’t very popular these days, unless we’re talking about other people, of course.

The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
They are more desirable than gold,
even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
even the drippings from a honeycomb.
Psalm 19:8a; 10 GW

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
Psalm 42:1

Blessed are those whose lives have integrity,
those who follow the teachings of the LORD.
Blessed are those who obey his written instructions.
They wholeheartedly search for him.
They do nothing wrong. They follow his directions.
You have commanded
that your guiding principles be carefully followed.
I pray that my ways may become firmly established
so that I can obey your laws.
Then I will never feel ashamed
when I study all your commandments.
I will give thanks to you as I learn your regulations,
which are based on your righteousness.
Psalm 119:1-7

The psalmist here shows that godly people are happy people; they are, and shall be, blessed indeed. Felicity is the thing we all pretend to aim at and pursue. He does not say here wherein it consists; it is enough for us to know what we must do and be that we may attain to it, and that we are here told. All men would be happy, but few take the right way; God has here laid before us the right way, which we may be sure will end in happiness, though it be strait and narrow. Blessednesses are to the righteous; all manner of blessedness. Now observe the characters of the happy people. Those are happy, 1. Who make the will of God the rule of all their actions, and govern themselves, in their whole conversation, by that rule: They walk in the law of the Lord, Psalm 119:1. God’s word is a law to them, not only in this or that instance, but in the whole course of their conversation; they walk within the hedges of that law, which they dare not break through by doing any thing it forbids; and they walk in the paths of that law, which they will not trifle in, but press forward in them towards the mark, taking every step by rule and never walking at all adventures. This is walking in God’s ways (Psalm 119:3), the ways which he has marked out to us and has appointed us to walk in. It will not serve us to make religion the subject of our discourse, but we must make it the rule of our walk; we must walk in his ways, not in the way of the world, or of our own hearts, Job 23:10, Job 23:11; Job 31:7.

–Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible

In addition to God’s law, personal holiness and “living the [a ?] good life” being good for us, God calls us to be distinct from the world (Matthew 6:8).

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 NIV

God’s will is pleasing to us and sets us apart from the worldly world.

Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will go to them and make our home with them.
John 14:23

So I don’t believe this is something that we should do as an act for the world, it should be done not only for our own good, but because we are living with a holy God.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like the idea of accountability partners because as it’s usually done, people become accountable to each other instead of helping each other become accountable to God. I haven’t looked deeply into this, but it isn’t something written about much at all in the Bible. We do have:

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
Romans 3:19 NIV

We do have something solid about conscience:

With this belief I always do my best to have a clear conscience in the sight of God and people.
Act 24:16

Again, we are living in the sight of God, not just people. Our conscience should be dictated by all of the law/commands we find in Scripture. Otherwise, we are being self-righteous, which isn’t thinking we’re better than others, but justifying the things we do from human logic, which is, in addition to being a human trait, usually selfish, and from a non-Biblical perspective. As J. B. Shearer noted: “The Pharisee knows nothing of this hungering and thirsting after righteousness, because he is righteous in his own eyes, self-righteous. But the man who has a sense of sin, and has tasted the comfort of pardoned sin, desires above all things to live aright.” And Spurgeon said, “I do not know of anything against which God’s fury burns more than against [self-righteousness] because this touches him in a very tender point—it insults the glory and honor of his Son.” Spurgeon is talking more about the righteousness we receive from the cross, but I think the idea still applies. God will show us what righteousness is (Matthew 5:6), in addition to having made us righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I believe that another benefit to having as clear of a conscience as we can is that it reduces stress. That’s if we aren’t fretting about God constantly looking for us to do something wrong, which isn’t what a good Father would do.

As a father has compassion for his children,
so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him.
He certainly knows what we are made of.
He bears in mind that we are dust.
Psalm 103:13-14

All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Philippians 3:16 NIV

The climax in all of this is the dreadful and wonderful:

Tell the whole congregation of Israel: Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.
Leviticus 19:2

Because you are children who obey God, don’t live the kind of lives you once lived. Once you lived to satisfy your desires because you didn’t know any better. 15 But because the God who called you is holy you must be holy in every aspect of your life. 16 Scripture says, “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:16

Dreadful because it seems impossible to be like our Holy God. Wonderful because he helps to become closer to it.

Being holy, as in being set apart, is God’s work. But we are also to strive to be holy. Knowing God’s character, as written in all of Scripture, is the only way we can begin to strive for holiness.

Also see:
Hunger and Mercy – Place for Truth – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals - where some of the quotes from this post were found
The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges – a modern classic

God Causes and/or Sanctions

When posting individual verses, it’s always recommended to read the context. I don’t want to be someone who contributes to one-verse reading of the Bible. You can always click or touch a Scripture reference to see more.

The LORD asked him [Moses], “Who gave humans their mouths? Who makes humans unable to talk or hear? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? It is I, the LORD!”
Exodus 4:11 GW

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who had been born blind. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, why was this man born blind? Did he or his parents sin?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. Instead, he was born blind so that God could show what he can do for him.
John 9:1-3

He takes something away, but who can stop him? Who is going to ask him, ‘What are you doing?’
Job 9:12

Although Job is a narrative, there is confirmation:

Everyone who lives on earth is nothing compared to him. He does whatever he wishes with the army of heaven and with those who live on earth. There is no one who can oppose him or ask him, “What are you doing?”
Daniel 4:35

The LORD does whatever he wants
in heaven or on earth,
on the seas or in all the depths of the oceans.
Psalm 135:6

Who was it who spoke and it came into being? It was the Lord who gave the order. 38 Both good and bad come from the mouth of the Most High God.
Lamentations 3:37-38

Your eyes saw me when I was only a fetus.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book
before one of them had taken place.
Psalm 139:16

Paul and Silas went through the regions of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit kept them from speaking the word in the province of Asia.
Acts 16:6

Scripture says to Pharaoh, “I put you here for this reason: to demonstrate my power through you and to spread my name throughout the earth.” 18 Therefore, if God wants to be kind to anyone, he will be. If he wants to make someone stubborn, he will. 19 You may ask me, “Why does God still find fault with anyone? Who can resist whatever God wants to do?” 20 Who do you think you are to talk back to God like that? Can an object that was made say to its maker, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 A potter has the right to do whatever he wants with his clay. He can make something for a special occasion or something for everyday use from the same lump of clay. 22 If God wants to demonstrate his anger and reveal his power, he can do it. But can’t he be extremely patient with people who are objects of his anger because they are headed for destruction? 23 Can’t God also reveal the riches of his glory to people who are objects of his mercy and who he had already prepared for glory?
Romans 9:17-23

And the oft quoted:

God’s riches, wisdom, and knowledge are so deep
that it is impossible to explain his decisions
or to understand his ways.
34 “Who knows how the Lord thinks?
Who can become his adviser?”
35 Who gave the Lord something
which the Lord must pay back?
36 Everything is from him and by him and for him.
Glory belongs to him forever! Amen!
Romans 11:33-36

Power belongs to him forever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:11

The Lord Is Gracious, Good and Compassionate

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Exodus 33:19 NIV

For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
Romans 9:15

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
Isaiah 30:18

the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:11

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
Lamentations 3:25

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,
Nahum 1:7

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:32

Hope

Just a couple of snippets during my blogging drought. I started studying Colossians, which I intend to do for a very long time, but I’ve taken a break from that too.

Here are a couple of things from my notes on Colossians, and a quote from a book on Titus, which I will be reviewing.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in our prayers for you. 4 We thank God because we have heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. 5 You have these because of the hope which is kept safe for you in heaven. Some time ago you heard about this hope in the Good News which is the message of truth.
Colossians 1:3-5

thinking about and banking on and living in the expectation of the hope that awaits us in Christ in heaven is of immense practical, life-changing, faith-awakening, love-inspiring benefit.

–Sam Storms

‘the hope’ is the totality of the blessings that awaits the Christian life to come; it is a metonymy for this as opposed to an inward disposition. An objective fact produces subjective attitudes.

–Murray Harris, Exegetical Guide To the Greek New Testament, pg 15, lines have been rearranged

I’m learning a lot from this book. I sort of know just enough Greek to kind of understand some what is being written. See how often the hope is used in the New Testament:

For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.
Galatians 5:5 NRSV

while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Titus 2:13 NRSV

we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us.
Hebrews 6:18 NRSV

We were saved with this hope in mind. If we hope for something we already see, it’s not really hope. Who hopes for what can be seen?
Romans 8:24 GW – this has both senses of hope

Faith leads to hope and hope sustains faith.

Titus For You by Tim Chester, on Titus 1:2

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness–in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,
Titus 1:1-2 TNIV

More on God’s Word Translation

I feel like writing more about God’s Word translation. There has been a little frustration on my part, but it’s still my translation of choice. As a warning, this is another rambling post. Part of this is an explanation, or maybe even a defense, of why I still prefer this translation. Previous posts:

The frustration is mainly because of the fact that it doesn’t use about five theological terms, like righteous, grace, justify, sanctify, and repent, not to mention propitiation. I have to let the latter go, because 99% of Christians (and I don’t think I’m exaggerating) don’t know what that means. I think it’s the most rich and amazing term there is.

What brought on this post is I read Romans again a few weeks ago and really missed those theological terms. It was glaring. The advantage is it can translate the different meanings of grace, like good will for a greeting, or God’s favor, and two others. On the other hand, there is the great doctrine of “salvation by grace alone”, and it doesn’t even use the word grace. ! Same with those other terms.

I think it’s a good translation for someone like me who has a decent grasp of all of those terms, which I embarrassingly didn’t have until a few years ago, and knows where they lie in the Bible, but likes to read proper but contemporary English. Not informal English like on the sitcoms on TV “networks FOX and ABC”, but you know, like real good English and whatnot. (joke) It’s also good for those who are new to the Bible whose head spins when they read not only a lot terms they have no idea about, but have to interpret the English itself, because so much of it is borrowed from 400 years ago, or ‘updated’ 60 years ago and basically left unchanged.

Even the NIV has strange word order sometimes:

lean not on your own understanding;
Proverbs 3:5b

I don’t know why they didn’t change that in the last update in 2010. Even the ESV has, “do not lean on your own understanding.” And that one has some really strange word orders, if you pretend you don’t know the Bible, which isn’t easy. Many seasoned Christians are so used to this language that it seems perfectly natural. I would call myself a seasoned Christian, but this strange language can be a distraction.

Here is a fantastic explanation of the gospel by Steve Lawson:

But just imagine being someone who has never been to church and never read the Bible. This is on the street, although maybe it’s at a Christian convention. I wouldn’t understand half of what he’s saying after launching into ESV speak. It’s great that he’s quoting the Bible. You can’t go wrong with that. But I think there is a way to explain it in plain language. (But I also don’t think this would put a big road block in front of the elect.) What does ‘might’ mean (as in Jesus might secure salvation)? Maybe, may (as the GW often uses), will, can? Does anyone say that anymore?

So I think it’s a strange situation, because someone who’s an advanced beginner or maybe intermediate Christian might (and I don’t mean that in the old archaic way) do better with a translation that has those terms and learns what they mean.

As John Hobbins eloquently commented on a previous post:

Since the church is a transgenerational community spanning cultures and ages, then it makes sense for scripture and liturgy to sound the same, as much as possible, from age to age and language to language.

I have always agreed with that in part. It bothers me that GW doesn’t use those terms in Romans, which is where it’s the most obvious. But at the same time, I like reading English in a translation that doesn’t try to mimic Greek grammar or borrow non-theological phrases that are long gone. I like to read the Bible in a true translation into my own language. If it could only use the theological terms so that we all speak the same theological language.

If only there was the perfect translation. But that would be different for everybody. For most Reformed folks, other than me, the ESV seems to be it. For those unfamiliar, about 99.99% of Reformed people like the ESV. “It reads so naturally” they say. I best cease, lest gnashing of teeth might be thrust upon the reading of this letter by my brothers, for they might pen comments of rebuke upon me for persecuting their beloved (pronounced bih-luhv-id) ancient writings (completed in 2001). All in fun. I’m thankful we have so many to choose from.

Reviews:

What Does “Praying in the Holy Spirit” Mean?

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,
Jude 1:20 NIV

Dear friends, use your most holy faith to grow. Pray with the Holy Spirit’s help.
Jude 1:20 GW

Almost all translations render it, “in the [power of the--GNT, NLT] Holy Spirit”.

Praying in the Holy Ghost. Observe, [1.] Prayer is the nurse of faith; the way to build up ourselves in our most holy faith is to continue instant in prayer, Rom 12:12. [2.] Our prayers are then most likely to prevail when we pray in the Holy Ghost, that is, under his guidance and influence, according to the rule of his word, with faith, fervency, and constant persevering [Luke 11:5-10, Luke 18:1-8]; this is praying in the Holy Ghost, whether it be done by or without a set prescribed form.

–Matthew Henry

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:5-6 ESV

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Matthew 21:22 NIV

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Romans 12:12 GW

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
1 John 5:14 NIV

Also see:
God’s Will For You | Scripture Zealot blog

persistence

Spurgeon on Psalm 116:8

I often miss the spiritual meaning in Scripture. Death here can refer to that, possibly in addition to also being delivered from human enemies. I see it more readily now than I used to. Reading commentaries has helped me a lot with this.

I had a great time reading the first half of Psalm 116 today, which is one of my favorites. At least I thought it was, because I had the title highlighted. But in the past the Holy Spirit hadn’t opened up my eyes to nearly the amount of things I learned today. I spent some time looking at dead white guy commentaries, and this is one of the many gems I found.

For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.” [Psalm 116:8] The triune God has given us a trinity of deliverances: our life has been spared from the grave, our heart has been uplifted from its griefs, and our course in life has been preserved from dishonour. We ought not to be satisfied unless we are conscious of all three of these deliverances. If our soul has been saved from death, why do we weep? What cause for sorrow remains? Whence those tears? And if our tears have been wiped away, can we endure to fall again into sin? Let us not rest unless with steady feet we pursue the path of the upright, escaping every snare and shunning every stumblingblock. Salvation, joy, and holiness must go together, and they are all provided for us in the covenant of grace. Death is vanquished, tears are dried, and fears are banished when the Lord is near.

–C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David

The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5b

Scripture Enlightening Scripture – Fear of the Lord and Wisdom

Reading and meditating on Psalm 111, which contains verse 10a:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom

may help with learning more about Proverbs 9:10, which says the same thing, along with Job 28:28. Without acknowledging, praising Him for and obeying the things written there, we will not acquire wisdom.

The fear of the Lord, including reverencing him for his spectacular works and righteous character, is the beginning–being both the foundation, and the principal or chief–of wisdom (Henry Smith–paraphrased).

C.H. Spurgeon, who wrote The Treasury of David, in the introduction to this Psalm, writes:

Many are ignorant of what their Creator has done, and hence they are foolish in heart, and silent as to the praises of God: this evil can only be removed by a remembrance of God’s works, and a diligent study of them; to this, therefore, the psalm is meant to arouse us.

Matthew Henry comments on this verse in Psalms:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is not only reasonable that we should fear God, because his name is reverend and his nature is holy, but it is advantageous to us. It is wisdom; it will direct us to speak and act as becomes us, in a consistency with ourselves, and for our own benefit. It is the head of wisdom, that is (as we read it), it is the beginning of wisdom. Men can never begin to be wise till they begin to fear God; all true wisdom takes its rise from true religion, and has its foundation in it. Or, as some understand it, it is the chief wisdom, and the most excellent, the first in dignity. It is the principal wisdom, and the principal of wisdom, to worship God and give honour to him as our Father and Master. Those manage well who always act under the government of his holy fear.

Keil and Delitzsch:

The fear of Jahve, this holy and terrible God, is the beginning of wisdom – the motto of the Chokma in Job (Job 28:28) and Proverbs (Pro 1:7; Pro 9:10), the Books of the Chokma. Psalm 111:10 goes on in this Proverbs-like strain: the fear of God, which manifests itself in obedience, is to those who practise them (the divine precepts, פקודים) שֶׂכֶל טֹּוב (Pro 13:15; Pro 3:4, cf. 2 Chr 30:22), a fine sagacity, praiseworthy discernment – such a (dutiful) one partakes of everlasting praise.

After having heard it all, this is the conclusion: Fear God, and keep his commands, because this applies to everyone.
Ecclesiastes 12:13

The Lord gives wisdom.
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:6

You Can’t Out-Think God

You know how when you have a staring contest with a cat? Or maybe you did that with a sibling or friend when you were a kid, or maybe an adult. (This doesn’t include the aspect of who can keep their eyes open the longest.)

Imagine having a thinking contest. With God. Imagine the whole world vs. God. God would win. And he would like it. He would know everyone’s thoughts. It would be easy.

Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
Psalm 147:5

I want to encourage those who may be under the impression that God doesn’t care about the little things in your life, or has bigger things to deal with. God created us to be in relationship with him, and he wants to constantly hear those who are his children talk to him, think about him, ask him things, and even complain. God never says, “Not now; I’m busy.” Or, “Quit your whining!” I suppose this is a good reminder for everyone.

So after writing all of that, I’ll let Scripture speak for itself. The idea for this post first came when I read the first verse on the list below. These are purposely pulled out of context (except the last one) to get the message across, but I would encourage anyone to look at the context of any of the verses you may not be familiar with. I’m using God’s Word translation, except where noted.

If you have any to add, please post them in a comment, or anything else you’d like to write.

Morning, noon, and night I complain and groan,
and He listens to my voice.
Psalm 55:17

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Ephesians 6:18 NIV

Continue in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2 ESV

Never stop praying.
1 Thessalonians 5:17

We always pray that our God will make you worthy of his call. We also pray that through his power he will help you accomplish every good desire and help you do everything your faith produces.
2 Thessalonians 1:11

I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day when I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience as my ancestors did.
2 Timothy 1:3

Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

Jesus used this illustration with his disciples to show them that they need to pray all the time and never give up. He said, “In a city there was a judge who didn’t fear God or respect people. In that city there was also a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice.’ “For a while the judge refused to do anything. But then he thought, ‘This widow really annoys me. Although I don’t fear God or respect people, I’ll have to give her justice. Otherwise, she’ll keep coming to me until she wears me out.’” The Lord added, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge thought. Won’t God give his chosen people justice when they cry out to him?
Luke 18:1-7

to persist obstinately in–Liddell-Scott

Psalm 23 Addendum

For those who saw the Psalm 23 post before this post was written, I’m very embarrassed to say that I copied and pasted the wrong translation. It was close enough to God’s Word translation that I thought they may have updated it since my Bible was printed. I was so into the HTML formatting of the indentation that I didn’t pay attention to the differences. Since many people get these posts via email right after they’re put up, and people get them in RSS feed readers the same way, I can’t make any changes that they will see. I apologize. I’ve not made changes to the post.

Psalm 23 – God’s Word Translation

I still really like God’s Word translation, and love my inexpensive plain single column black Duravella cover Bible, which isn’t made anymore. I decided to change the RefTagger (which has some new features) translation to that, even though most probably use NIV. (See Psalm 23:1, which you should be able to hover over or touch or whatever.) I was very pleased when reading Psalm 23 today. I think it’s just slightly more formal (literal) than the NLT, except they use the formal word for to begin many sentences, and more significantly formal than the Good New Bible, but still solidly dynamic in my estimation, although some would list it as intermediate, like Craig Blomberg, whom I just read. I like to go to the GNB when I want to understand a passage, because it does more interpretationing. The NASB is my favorite for when I want to use a translation on the literal/formal end for working on Greek or sentence diagramming. I read the very fine NIV for over two decades before I got into all of this translation stuff.

Regarding Psalm 23, I see that this, and the ESV and KJV are the only ones to mention death in the line about the “the dark valley”. Most of the modern translators seem to have come to the conclusion that death is not necessary or is going too far. I’m not interested in it enough to look into it. If you know the story, let me know.

One feature (or something some people would hate), of God’s Word translation is that it indents poetry, almost like a crude form of sentence diagramming. I kind of like it, but can imagine what some people think of it. I decided to format it below as it is in my Bible.

I don’t expect many to like their favorite Psalm changed, but I was pleased enough with this that I wanted to post it. Maybe you haven’t read it in a while and will see something in a new way.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
I am never in need.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside peaceful waters.
He renews my soul.
He guides me along the paths of righteousness
for the sake of his name.
Even though I walk through the dark valley of death,
because you are with me, I fear no harm.
Your rod and your staff give me courage.
You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch.
You anoint my head with oil.
My cup overflows.
Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life,
and I will remain in the Lord’s house for days without end.