Archive for the 'Commentary' Category

What Did Moses Do So Wrong?

On that same day the Lord told Moses, “Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people. This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.”
Deuteronomy 32:48-52

What did Moses do so wrong in the Desert of Zin that God wouldn’t let him go into the land of Canaan like the rest of the Israelites he was leading? For 40 years? And in the beginning of it all, God spent a chapter and a half convincing Moses to lead the people in the first place. (Exodus 3-4 — I’m no scholar, but a chapter and a half is like, a lot.) All I could find in plain sight is that he struck the rock when that isn’t what God explicitly stated.

The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
Numbers 10:7-12

In his commentary on Deuteronomy, Daniel Block addresses this, with the help of another quote.

Aaron Wildavsky comments eloquently:

At Meribah Moses substitutes force for faith. In his hand the rod reduces a divinely ordered act to a trickster’s shenanigans. But the import runs deeper. If Moses’ strongest leadership quality has been his ability to identify with the people, then the lack of faith at Meribah is a double one. Moses not only distances himself from God by doubting the adequacy of his work but also distances himself from the people by assuming power that was God’s. Tired of the incessant murmurings, Moses taunts the people just before he strikes the rock: “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water from this rock?” (Num 20:10).

Instead of exhorting a stiffnecked people to greater faith, Moses condescends to their plea with an arrogant jeer. His words imply acceptance of the people’s evil (separating himself from it) rather than hope of overcoming it. “Ye rebels” assumes very much what Aaron had presumed in trying to rationalize fashioning the Golden Calf. At that point, Aaron had lamely pleaded for Moses’ sympathy: “thou knowest thy people, that they are set on mischief” (Exod. 32:22). Like Aaron’s defense then, Moses’ “Hear now, ye rebels” [Listen, you rebels] now becomes its own accusation. Similarly Moses taunts the people with rebelliousness, yet is himself rebelling when he smites the rock without authority—the authority God alone can provide. Perhaps, after all, Moses does have more authority than he, or any man, can handle.

Block also mentions that this can be a warning for leaders.

This is the type of thing that’s bothersome to us if we’re thinking soberly, but we can also believe by faith that God is good (Num 1:7) and a God of justice (Deut 32:4).

Deuteronomy

Also see:
Why I Love Deuteronomy | Monergism

Why Deuteronomy Is Important

Every book of the Bible is important. This is a post about some reasons why Deuteronomy is important.

I’ve recently been reading the commentary on Deuteronomy (The NIV Application Commentary) by Daniel Block in a devotional sort of way. I’ve wanted to read a commentary on Deuteronomy for a long time because of it being theologically rich, along with having a lot of questions I wanted answered, one of which I’ll write about in another post. I found this one on sale in Kindle format for under $5 (along with the commentary on Job, which was excellent).

I came across a couple of quotes in the commentary on why it’s so foundational.

Although readers of the Old Testament often assume that expressions translated as “the law of the LORD” refer to the Pentateuch as a whole, the default view should rather be that “the Torah of Yahweh” and “the Torah of Moses” refer particularly to the book of Deuteronomy. This book is the heart of the Torah that the priests were to teach and model, in which psalmists delighted, to which the prophets appealed, by which faithful kings ruled, and by which righteous citizens lived (Ps. 1).

This was the book—long neglected—that Josiah’s officials found in the temple and which provided the theological impetus for his wide-ranging reforms (2 Kings 22–23); this was the book that Ezra read to the community of returned exiles on the occasion of the Festival of Booths (Neh. 8). And as the light of Old Testament prophecy was going out, this was the book to which Malachi called his people to return (Mal. 4:4). The book of Deuteronomy provides the theological base for virtually the entire Old (and New) Testament and is the paradigm for much of its literary style. Luke 16:19–31 and John 5:19–47 illustrate the enormous stature of Moses in the tradition of Judaism at the turn of the ages. In the Torah the Jews heard Moses’ prophetic voice, and in the Torah they read what he wrote.

Later on, Block writes:

At the theological level, the Song [of Moses–or of Yahweh, as Block would prefer to call it–Deut. 32] is unparalleled within the book of Deuteronomy, if not the entire Old Testament, for its concentrated but extraordinarily lofty theology.

The Shema (Deut. 6:4) is contained there, and the verse after it, which Jesus quotes as being the greatest commandment.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Deuteronomy

Also see:
Deuteronomy and the New Testament | Scripture Zealot blog

Union with Christ

Martin Lloyd-Jones in his Exposition of Ephesians 2 says:

There are two ways of looking at this great statement [union with Christ]. There are some people who take a purely objective view of it. They think of it exclusively in terms of our position, or our standing, in the presence of God. What I mean is that they think of it as being something that, in a sense, is already true of us in Christ, but is not true of us in practice. […] They say that it is true of us by faith now, but actually only by faith. It is not real in us now: it is entirely in Him. But it will be made real in us in the future. Now that is what I call the purely objective view of this statement. And of course as a statement, it is perfectly true, except that it does not go far enough.

This is the way I’ve always envisioned it. Union with Christ is not only our position in Christ. It’s something that changes us, feeds us, something we meditate on, something that hopefully affects how we act as we live in union with him. If two people are married, there is usually a relationship that goes on because of it, not just a legal document that was enacted at a ceremony. It should also impel us to act in a godly manner, because he is in us and we are in him. (Acts 17:28, Ephesians 2:22, Colossians 2:6-7)

But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
1 John 2:5-6

Later he continues:

“I am the vine, ye are the branches” (John 15:5). The union between the branches and the vine is not mechanical: it is vital and organic. They are bound together: the same sap, the same life is in the stock as in the branches. But that is not the only illustration used. At the end of the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul says that the union between a Christian and the Lord Jesus Christ is comparable to the union of the various parts of the body with the whole body, and especially with the head. […]

All these blessings that we enjoy become ours because we are joined to Christ in this double manner: in the forensic, federal, covenant manner, but also in this vital and living manner. We can therefore claim that what has happened to Christ has happened to us. This is the marvel and mystery of our salvation, and it is the most glorious thing we can ever contemplate! The Son of God, the Second Person in the eternal Godhead, came down from heaven to earth; He took unto Him human nature, He joined human nature unto Himself, He shared human nature; and as the result of His work we human beings share His life and are in Him, and are participators in all the benefits that come from Him.

In another excellent article, Michael Horton writes:

Regeneration, or the new birth, is the commencement of this union. God brings this connection and baptism even before there is any sign of life–“while you were dead…he made you alive” (Eph.2:1). […] Through union with Christ, we receive his righteousness imputed (justification) as well as his righteousness imparted (sanctification).

Also see:

Union with Christ

Opposition to Opposition of the Cross

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Mark 8:21-33

When I was a kid growing up in Roman Catholic Church, I would always get so mad at those people who crucified Jesus. I used to think, “Just imagine how much more Jesus could have done if he would have been able to keep teaching and healing. How could people do that to the Savior?” It’s still hard for me to read the passion part of the Gospels.

As it turns out, this is the same attitude that Peter (and most likely the other disciples) had. Even though Peter said this out of love for his friend and ‘the Messiah’ (Mark 8:29), they were rebuked soundly for saying just what Satan would want them to think.

The MacArthur Study Bible has a note where he says, “Jesus’ sacrificial death was God’s plan (Acts 2:22,23; 4:27-28), and whoever opposed it was, wittingly or not, advocating Satan’s work.”

In Mark 8:15, Jesus warned about the “yeast of Herod and the Pharisees”, who in part were opposed to the inbreaking kingdom of God (1 Cor 5:6-8), which was merely a human concern.

So now I think, “Imagine if Jesus didn’t come to die on the cross for our sins, be raised for our justification, and ascend to heaven to that he could send the Holy Spirit”, among so many other ramifications of the cross. After reading this in Mark, though, I realize that my perspective still needs adjustment.

The cross was planned before eternity. Over time I’ve written down verse references from the NT that apply to this.

Acts 2:22-23, Acts 4:27-28, 2 Tim 1:9, Titus 1:2, 1 Pet 1:20, Rev 13:8
Predicted–Acts 3:18, Acts 7:52 (Isaiah 53 among many others)

Recommended books:
The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul
The Cross of Christ by John Stott

Cross

“Which is easier to say”? You’re forgiven or healed?

Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”
Mark 2:9-11 ESV

In reading through Mark using several study Bibles and a couple of commentaries when necessary, the comment on this passage in the ESV Study Bible is very helpful.

Mark 2:9–11 Which is easier … ? On the surface, of course, it is easier to say the words, “Your sins are forgiven,” because that is something invisible and impossible to disprove. But it is harder to say, “take up your bed and walk” because, if the man does not get up, the one who said the words will be shown to have no authority to heal. On a deeper level, however, it is harder to forgive sins, because only God can forgive sins—at the cost of Christ’s death on the cross. The logic here is that, since Jesus can do the visible miracle (heal the paralytic), this is evidence that he also has the power to do the invisible miracle (forgive sins).

I’ve been using up to seven study Bibles. All of them are available to me online except the paper version of The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB), which I have found to be the most helpful after using it and others while reading 1 Timothy through Revelation.

Free Resources
You can find the Reformation Study Bible for free at BibleGateway, along with previews of many others, along with some commentaries, and the HCSB Study Bible on their own site. Go to the Library link on the left and find it within the book list. Let me know if there are others you’re familiar with.

The Privilege of Fearing the Lord

Recently, when reading Psalm 130, I found verse 4 fascinating.

Lord, if you were to record iniquities,
Lord, who could remain standing?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that you may be feared.
Psalm 130:3-4 ISV

Some translations use revered, honored, or respected. That may be more perspicuous (plainly understood), but I think the word fear is a much broader term. I say this at the risk of betraying what the original Hebrew means. Fear would include respect, honor, and revere, and it also may include a filial (as a son or daughter) fear of offending God our Father.

This means that unbelievers cannot fear the Lord, but when we are forgiven and our eyes are opened to who God is, we are then able to rightly fear, honor, revere, and respect him without being either afraid of eternal punishment, indifferent, or at least not be able to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23).

Spurgeon says it much better than I ever could:

None fear the Lord like those who have experienced his forgiving love. Gratitude for pardon produces far more fear and reverence of God than all the dread which is inspired by punishment. If the Lord were to execute justice upon all, there would be none left to fear him; if all were under apprehension of his deserved wrath, despair would harden them against fearing him: it is grace which leads the way to a holy regard of God, and a fear of grieving him.

–Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, on v. 4

The point is that God forgives people in order that they might fear, meaning, that they might become his faithful, obedient worshippers.

–Allen Ross, A Commentary on The Psalms

Ross says that the verb form translated as fear only occurs here, which is why I don’t want to make a strong case for using the word fear, although that’s how it has traditionally been translated.

This portion of a Puritan prayer reminds me of this. I’ve emphasized a phrase that’s especially relevant. If you’re reading this on Sunday morning (I know that many of you are), let this be a Lord’s day prayer.

O how desirable, how profitable to the Christian life
is a spirit of holy watchfulness
and godly jealousy over myself,
when my soul is afraid of nothing
except grieving and offending thee,

the blessed God, my Father and friend,
whom I then love and long to please,
rather than be happy in myself!

Knowing, as I do, that this is the pious temper,
worthy of the highest ambition, and closest
pursuit of intelligent creatures
and holy Christians,
may my joy derive from glorifying and
delighting thee.

–Devotion, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (emphasis added)

The Fear of God and A Sense of Sin (1:30) from NCFIC on Vimeo.

Also see:
Fear of the Lord posts on this blog

Who are the ‘Weak in Faith’?

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.
Romans 14:1 NASB

Short version: read the quote below from The MacArthur Study Bible to see what ‘the weak in faith’ really means.

A few years ago when I was reading posts on Facebook, I came across a video that autoplayed (which has now been rectified) of someone dying in a car crash, or something awful like that. When someone who deals with chronic depression, or is just very sensitive sees something like that, it can send them into a deeper depression, with that image being added to all of the other images that bombard the mind, if the conditions are right. So I wrote to the person who posted it and asked him very politely if he could either give a warning, or not post material which can be so upsetting to people.

–As an aside, I wouldn’t do this now, for fear of appearing to be a Social Justice Warrior (SJW–you can look it up) These are not people who work towards legitimate social justice causes. These are people who are offended by any little thing, and I mean little. I didn’t know about them until recently. I’ve actually been less willing to talk about mental health because of this, although I’m probably over-reacting.–

Back to the story–he was extremely polite and took the video down. But, he said that he didn’t realize it may upset “the weak in faith.” I didn’t write anything back, I just let it go, because he was so understanding.

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been reading Romans with some study Bibles. I found this in The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB). It’s the best description I’ve seen of what the weak in faith really are. It’s definitely not people who deal with mental illness, or are extremely (legitimately) sensitive in this way for one reason or another.

weak in faith. This characterizes those believers who are unable to let go of the religious ceremonies and rituals of their past. The weak Jewish believer had difficulty abandoning the rites and prohibitions of the Old Covenant; he felt compelled to adhere to dietary laws, observe the Sabbath, and offer sacrifices in the temple. The weak Gentile believer had been steeped in pagan idolatry and its rituals; he felt that any contact with anything remotely related to his past, including eating meat that had been offered to a pagan deity and then sold in the marketplace, tainted him with sin. Both had very sensitive consciences in these areas, and were not yet mature enough to be free of those convictions.

passing judgment on his opinions. The mature believer should not sit in judgment on the sincere but underdeveloped thoughts that govern the weak believer’s conduct.

Certainly, there are similar things that would be applicable here. Anything that might fall into “a weakness of conscience causing him [someone] to think that something lawful is actually sinful”, as the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible puts it.

Study Bible Image

Romans 5:7 – Die for a Good or Righteous Man?

I’ve been reading Romans in a study Bible. I’ve never used a study Bible for reading. My wife and pastor friend have done it and benefitted from it, so I thought I’d try it for something different. I chose the Reformation Study Bible because I liked what I saw of the notes when I used it briefly in the past.

As I was reading through Romans 5, I saw that there isn’t a note for verse 7.

I used to get hung up on what type of a man, of these two types, was a better person a worldly person might die for. Now I think it’s just a literary device that Paul used. So I found these in other study Bibles, the ESV being especially helpful. To see how I came to this, you can see the Stuff and Bother below if you’d like.

As uncommon as such a sacrifice is, Paul’s point is that we were neither of these persons— yet Christ sacrificed Himself for us.

NASB, The MacArthur Study Bible, by John F. MacArthur

Rom. 5:7–8 On rare occasions, even a human being will die for a righteous (morally upright) person or for a good person (one who has done much good). God’s love, however, belongs in an entirely different category from human love, for Christ did not die for righteous people or those who have done good for others but for sinners, that is, for ungodly, unrighteous people living in willful rebellion against God. It is not just Christ’s love that was shown in his death but also God the Father’s love. While God’s righteousness and justice led to his plan of salvation through the death of Christ (see Romans 3:25–26), it was his love that motivated this plan.

ESV Study Bible

Stuff and Bother
As noted above, I’m using a study Bible for reading and more ‘shallow’ study. The notes, which I don’t read all of, can be helpful in tipping me off to things, like how trinitarian the first part of Romans 1 is, as an example.

When I didn’t find anything on verse 7, I remembered that I have the MacArthur Study Bible on my phone in Kindle format. Then I thought about how I have the ESV Study Bible and the NLT Study Bible, both of which have online versions (and the NIV somewhere too). So while reading chapter 5, I decided to use all four at the same time. The ESV and the NLT are each in a separate browser tab. The HCSB Study Bible used to be online, but apparently, it’s not anymore, or I’d use that too. I’ve chosen not to use the big commentaries for now, but I plan to next year.

I need to be lying down most of the time, so I can’t sit at a table with a lot of books around me. It’s a nice setup, although I probably won’t use it much in the future. I also have the ‘dead people commentaries’ in e-Sword if I need them.

I’d like to write more about Bible reading I’ve done and plan on doing in the future, if I have the ambition.

Photo of a Bible

Revelation 3:15-17 – Both Hot and Cold Are Good

This is a Repost from 2009. The original comments were heated.

Revelation 3:15-17 NIV
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

I was always slightly puzzled by what these verses mean but never really looked into it until I read about it in Craig Keener’s The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation.

Regarding verse 15, although it may be well known to most of my readers, who are generally better educated in things Bible than I, Jesus is referring to the water temperature and quality or lack thereof in Laodicea, the church He is addressing here.

Keener writes:

Laodicea lacked its own water supply, having no direct access to the cold water of the mountains or the hot water of the nearby springs in Hierapolis to the north. In contrast to its claims to self-sufficiency (Rev. 3:17), it had to pipe in its water; though much of the aqueduct from the south was underground, nearer the city it came through stone barrel pipes, thus remaining vulnerable to any intended besiegers who wished to cut off the city’s water supply. More important, this water had grown lukewarm by the time of its arrival.

Other sources speak more about how displeasing this water was.

NLT Study Bible:

neither hot nor cold: The hot springs in Hierapolis were famous for their healing qualities. Colosse was equally famous for its cold, refreshing springs. In contrast, the water available in Laodicea was smelly and lukewarm. Such water is distasteful; Jesus was saying that the church’s indecisive commitment to him was revolting.

ESV Study Bible:

The waters of the nearby Lycus River were muddy and undrinkable, and the waters flowing by aqueduct from hot springs 5 miles (8 km) away were lukewarm when they reached Laodicea. Likewise, Jesus found his church’s tepid indifference repugnant. Cold and hot water represent something positive, for cold water refreshes in the heat, and hot water is a tonic when one is chilly.

So in mentioning the hot and cold water Jesus wasn’t speaking to their spiritual zeal or lack. And it doesn’t make sense that Jesus would rather they be spiritually cold than lukewarm. He’s not saying, “Pick a side, any side, as long as you commit to something.” Or that He would rather we be willfully cold towards Him as a way of showing some sort of truthful integrity if we aren’t very thrilled about how we feel about God at the moment.

What Jesus is saying is much more shocking. As Keener puts it,

In today’s English, he is telling the self-satisfied church in Laodicea: ‘I want water that will refresh me, but you remind me instead of the water you always complain about. You make me want to puke.’

The Laodiceans, who prided themselves on their wealth and self-sufficiency (Rev. 3:17) didn’t even have water that tasted good and Jesus used this to illustrate their spiritual self sufficiency and pride, and how He felt about it.

I was wondering if puke was a little overboard.

Thayer: to vomit, vomit forth, throw up, i. e. to reject with extreme disgust,

Louw-Nida: Since a term meaning ‘to vomit’ often carries somewhat vulgar connotations, ἐμέω in Re 3.16 has frequently been translated as ‘to spit out of my mouth.’ It is also possible to interpret ‘to vomit out of the mouth’ as an idiom meaning ‘to reject.’

It seems to me that a disservice is done when translations water this down (no pun intended). Most popular translations use spit. Among those that I looked at, the HCSB, LITV, Mounce Sr. (Interlinear), NET, NKJV, The Message and WEB use vomit. The Geneva Bible and King James use spewe and spue. (I think they were ahead of their time.)

Further reading:
The Letter to the Church in Laodicea at Ligonier Ministries

revelation-commentary

We’re Wealthier Than Solomon

In some ways, we’re better off than Solomon as far as material things go. Here are some quotes from Philip Graham Ryken in Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters.

Like Solomon, we have ample opportunity to indulge many sinful and selfish desires. In fact, maybe Solomon would envy us. Generally speaking, we live in better homes than he did, with better furniture and climate control. We dine at a larger buffet; when we go to the grocery store, we can buy almost anything we want, from anywhere in the world. We listen to a much wider variety of music.

King Solomon

I never thought of this before. What I have thought about is how our wealth can be bad for our spiritual health.

Although God gives wealth, wealth doesn’t automatically equal satisfaction. History shows this, but we so often ignore it.

The LORD sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.
1 Samuel 2:7 NIV

Our possessions can never bring us lasting joy. The gifts that God gives us and the power to enjoy those gifts come separately. This is why having more money can never guarantee that we will find any enjoyment. Without God, we will still be discontent. It is only when we keep him at the center of our existence that we experience real joy in the gifts that God may give. The fear of the Lord is not just the beginning of knowledge; it is also the source of satisfaction.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:7 NIV

And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life–this is indeed a gift from God.
Ecclesiastes 5:19 NLT

If we were able to find lasting satisfaction in earthly pleasure, then we would never recognize our need for God. But satisfaction does not come in the pleasures themselves; it comes separately. Satisfaction only comes in God himself, so that our dissatisfaction may teach us to turn to him.

This is one of the main reasons why Ecclesiastes is in the Bible. It is here to convince us not to love the world or live for its pleasures. This message is not intended to discourage us or to make us any more depressed than we already are, but to drive us back to God. This is not all there is. There is also a God in Heaven, who has sent his Son to be our Savior. That Son resisted the pleasures of this life to fulfill the purposes of God for our salvation.

Also see:
1 Timothy 6:17 and the "Rich" | Scripture Zealot blog

Image is from: Free Bible images: King Solomon builds the temple that King David had planned. (I Kings 5 – 9, II Chronicles 2 – 7). I know it’s corny, but images in posts are supposed to give the viewer a better experience. There also isn’t a blank space in the posts on Twitter and Facebook.

Allen Ross on Psalm 119

As promised in a recent review on this blog, here are some quotes on Psalm 119 from A Commentary on the Psalms: Volume 3 by Allen Ross. I especially like this Psalm and I really appreciate how he treated it.

Psalm 119 has not received the kind of attention that it deserves. For many students of the Bible its massive size and apparent repetition is off—putting. This is reflected in a number of commentaries and studies as well. Leopold Sabourin, for example, says, “Tedious repetitions, poor thought-sequence, apparent lack of inspiration reflect the artificiality of the composition.” Anderson calls it monotonous, but impressive in many ways. Weiser considers it a purely literary composition that is wearisome in its repetition of motifs—and one that opens the way for later legalism; he offers no commentary on the text. But most would agree with Breuggemann that it is a massive achievement.

Finding himself in persecution from powerful people who ridicule his faith in an effort to shame him into abandoning it, the psalmist strengthens himself by his detailed meditations on the Word of the LORD, which is his comfort, his prized possession, his rule of life, his resource for strength, and his message of hope, all of which inspire him to desire it even more, to live by it, and to pray for its fulfillment.

If people simply read through Psalm 119 quickly they most likely will conclude it is a repetitious and random collection of meditations on the Word of God. But if they take time to study each stanza in sequence, they will discover how each of the stanzas forms a complete meditation with certain themes and emphases. They will also see how the collection builds on the themes from stanza to stanza to develop a general flow to the message. To gain a full appreciation for this amazing work one must study it carefully from beginning to end, stanza by stanza.

As a major resource for meditation this psalm is superb. It reveals how divine revelation is the basis for everything that the believer does; but it also shows how the Word of the LORD is applied in all the circumstances of life.

Commentary on Psalms by Ross Vol 3

The King Reigns After Death

“Their King … commences his reign by advancing to death.”

–John Calvin

What a great quote. It’s from his commentary, referring to John 12:12.

12 The next day, when the large crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 they took palm branches and went out to meet Him. They kept shouting: ” Hosanna! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One–the King of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written:

15 Fear no more, Daughter Zion.
Look, your King is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt.

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first. However, when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
John 12:12-16 HCSB

HT: Pastor Tom Provost

The Dread of God

Is the fear of God on the decline? Culture slips in, “God is love”–although completely true (1 John 4:8; 16)–becomes all he is. Jesus has become only meek, mild, and tame.

Though many read the Psalms for comfort, there we can see how dreadful God’s judgement is through how the Psalmists portray it. Does this apply to ‘New Testament Christians’?

If we pay attention to all of what Jesus says in both the Gospels and Revelation, we can see that he isn’t tame, that he can’t stand sin and he is ready to eradicate it in a very non-meek way in the end. He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).

Two benefits that I see to respecting God’s wrath is that: 1) We can better appreciate what Jesus did on the cross for us by receiving the wrath we deserve. 2) It compels us to be holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:16)–wanting to please our Father by learning more about his holiness and imitating it, as feebly as we do. Thank God that he compels us, strengthens us, and shows us how to become more like him.

I like how the Revised English Bible translates Psalm 119:120:

The dread of you makes my flesh creep,
I stand in awe of your decrees.

In the verses before this, the Psalmist is recounting God’s judgement of sinners.

Here is what Spurgeon has to say in The Treasury of David:

“My flesh trembleth for fear of thee.” [KJV] Such was his awe in the presence of the Judge of all the earth, whose judgment he had just now been considering, that he did exceedingly fear and quake. Even the grosser part of his being, – his flesh felt a solemn dread at the thought of offending one so good and great, who would so effectually sever the wicked from among the just. Alas, poor flesh, this is the highest thing to which thou canst attain! “And I am afraid of thy judgments.” God’s words of judgment are solemn, and his deeds of judgment are terrible; they may well make us afraid. At the thought of the Judge of all, – his piercing eye, his books of record, his day of assize, and the operations of his justice, – we may well cry for cleansed thoughts, and hearts, and ways, lest his judgments should light on us. When we see the great Refiner separating the precious from the vile, we may well feel a godly fear, lest we should be put away by him, and left to be trodden under his feet.

Love in Psalm 119:119 is quite consistent with fear in this verse, the fear which hath torment is cast out, but not the filial fear which leads to reverence and obedience.

The Lord Watches Over Everyone

Unpopular Scripture of the Day:

I am going to watch over them. I am going to watch over them to bring disasters, not blessings. In Egypt the people from Judah will die in wars and famines until everyone is gone. 28 Those who escape the wars will return to Judah from Egypt. Then all the people of Judah who went to live in Egypt will know whose words have come true, mine or theirs. 29 I will give you this sign,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will punish you in this place so that you will know that my threats of disaster will happen to you. 30 This is what the Lord says: I’m going to hand Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, over to his enemies and to those who want to kill him, just as I handed over King Zedekiah of Judah to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to those who wanted to kill him.’”
Jeremiah 44:27-29

John Calvin says,

I will watch over them, he says, for evil and not for good. This mode of speaking we have observed elsewhere, and explained why the Prophets spoke thus, even because hypocrites, though they think God cares not for human affairs, and imagine that he sleeps in heaven, and hence audaciously provoke him [see context before this passage], as though they were fugitives and their purpose hid from God, yet boast of God’s providence, and pretend that they acquiesce confidently in him. For this reason the Prophet answered, that God watched indeed, but not for good. We then perceive the object of the Prophet; he derided the presumption of the people, who thought that God had a care for their safety. He then says, that God indeed does not sleep, but that this would bring no benefit to hypocrites; for though God watches as a father to preserve his own people, he yet watches as a judge to destroy all the ungodly.

We can be sure that God is watching over the evil that is done and will punish now or certainly at the end. We need to remember how much more God hates sin than we do.

He is also always watching over his children, whether good or bad comes. I always cringe when somebody averts disaster and says, “God was really watching over us”, because as I see it, this implies that God wasn’t watching over them if bad would have happened. (I understand that most people say this sincerely.) We will have trouble in this world (John 16:33 as just one example of many) but God will work it for the good of those who love him–who have been called according to his purpose–namely, his children (Romans 8:28). This to make them more like Christ–infinitely more important that any temporal thing we can receive (we mustn’t leave out Romans 8:29).

Psalm 119 – Christian Living

Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity;
and quicken thou me in thy way.
Psalm 119:37 KJV

I want to be quickened to more life, energy, delight, and devotedness in the way of my God. The secret of Christian progress is simplicity and diligence. “This one thing I do,-forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forth to those things that are before; I press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 3:13-14 KJV] The Spirit leaves no wish in the heart for beholding vanity. The world with all its flowery paths, is a dreary wilderness; and Christ and heaven are the only objects of desire-“He who shuts his eyes from seeing evil, he shall dwell on high; his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him, his water shall be sure. Your eyes shall see the King in His beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” [Isaiah 33:15 KJV]

–Charles Bridges, An Exposition of Psalm 119

We live a life of simplicity and diligence, but always keeping in mind that it’s God who actually ‘quickens’ us to change us and what we want, if we want him to.

I’m memorizing Psalm 119:33-37 and am reading Treasury of David by Spurgeon and this commentary on those verses. I highly recommend both. You can find them for free online in electronic format or in book form by using the Amazon button in the right column. Bridges also has an exposition on Proverbs which is excellent. It’s at a level everyone can read and application oriented.

I like this quote a lot and can identify with it, so I thought I’d post it since I haven’t been doing much of that. I have some other short posts in mind.