Psalms Are Interactive

Human hands wrote the Psalms. Even so, God stands behind them all. He has complete charge. He makes the rules for his own Psalms. He states this principle elsewhere in the Bible. “All writings are inspired by God.”[1]

Psalms are amazingly interactive. When the reader brings her heart to bear upon her reading, God often responds by personally placing a word, a line, or a thought from one of the psalms directly into the intelligent or feeling portion of her comprehension. By this I mean that God brings the poem home into the reader’s heart and mind, applying what she is reading to her personally. It’s amazing and fun when this happens. Reading Psalms is like reading no other book.

This means that a psalm can change its emphasis with each reading. Just because you’ve read one once doesn’t mean you’ve finished reading it. Just as audience response affects performers on a stage, or a teacher interacts with her students, or a choir interacts with the music they are singing, or an orchestra interacts with the score or a conductor, so God himself can interact with those who read his Psalms. God is alive and present as you read.

This doesn’t mean I’m saying that Psalms can mean any old thing whatsoever that readers desire. The meaning must always stand within the nature, or character, of God. But critics often suggest that each line of the Bible has one exact meaning. They define that meaning as whatever they think the original human author meant when he physically wrote the words. Additionally, they enjoy limiting the meaning of portions of the Bible, including Psalms, to what they might imagine it meant to its original readers. I say “imagine,” because these critics weren’t there either when the Bible was written, or when a supposed “original” group of readers or listeners saw or heard it read.

For you who are reading this blog, that’s neither here nor there. For now, I just want to encourage you to pick up Psalms and read them for yourselves. You might be amazed to discover that God may choose to speak directly into your heart, which he often does for readers of Psalms. It’s totally delightful when this happens, even when he addresses the hurting and painful spots in your heart, like a doctor or a surgeon might your body. Always remember, God is love, and he loves you. He wants you to grow to love him, as well. Reading Psalms can help you do this.

[1] 2 Timothy 3:16. See also John 10:35.

Love Letter from the Cross: Psalm 42

Photo by Phil Botha on Unsplash

Psalm 42 is a remarkable love letter from the Son to the Father. The Son used to have an eternal existence in heaven face to face with his Father (John 1:1-3). But now, by his Father’s will, he has come to earth as a human being to open a pathway for humans back to the throne of God, their creator who loves them.

God the Son had many enemies on earth. The loudest of these were those who claimed for themselves the position of God’s favorites. They weren’t. They studied God’s books of law and interpreted them according to the standards of their own wicked hearts. They completely missed God’s love for his people. These self-styled favorites lorded it over others and condemned everyone who didn’t worship God exactly as they themselves did. They were blind to the fact that they worshiped themselves, not God, and what they really wanted was to be at the very top of the heap. Far from respecting them, even with outward deference, Jesus called out their hypocrisy. He loved his Father with a true and passionate heart, and he loved his Father’s people. He condemned the false religious favorites, and for this cause, they wanted to kill him. And finally, they did kill him.

Psalm 42 records the heart cries of the Son to his Father during the period when he was being tried and executed by the false religious leaders. His death was very painful, because in those days, the Romans, who performed the actual execution, nailed convicted criminals to a wooden cross and let them suffocate for as long as it took. These are the Son’s words of trust and love to his Father during this horrendous event. Other psalms record Jesus’ thoughts, most notably Psalm 22.

The plot line of Poem 42 runs like this, “Father God, I am all alone here. Where are you? You’ve been hiding yourself for a long while. They’re killing me, and everyone has noticed that you’re not here. This discourages my soul so much. But my soul’s response doesn’t make sense to me, because I know you will rescue me. I know that eventually I will pass through this situation and come to a place where I will be thanking and praising you again. So come on, Soul. Perk up and hope in God. He is my help and my God.”

Here is the poem:

NIB Psalm 42:1 For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah. As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.
5, 6 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon–from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
8 By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me–a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
11 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
(Psalm 42:1-11 NIV, 1984)

Parallels with Other Scripture, Indicating that Psalm 42 Is a Prophetic Reference to Christ on the Cross

1.    Psalm 42:10 My bones suffer mortal agony… (NIV)

Psalm 22:14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint… (NIV)

Psalm 22:17 All my bones are on display; (NIV)

2.    Psalm 42:10foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” (NIV)

Psalm 22:7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” 
(NIV)

Matthew 27:42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him. (NIV)

3.    Psalm 42:7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

Jonah 2:2 He said: “… From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. (NIV)

Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (NIV) [Also, the entire psalm is a heart cry of a prayer to God]

Jonah 2:4 I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ (NIV)

Jonah 2:7 “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. (NIV)

Matthew 12:40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (NIV)

Final Words

I have been so very blessed to see the heart of the Son’s love for the Father in this psalm, and to see the heart of the Father’s love for his Son in so many other psalms. The love between Father and Son is extended to us, the recipients of the marvelous gift of redemption, a gift that cost the Son so much pain. If you can, ask God to help you soak in the deep richness of Psalm 42, this marvelous love letter from Christ to his God.

Intellectual Assent Versus Desire

 

 

 

I know a little girl who loves the story of the baby born under a star in a stable. The young mother had ridden a donkey a long way with her husband so the infant could be laid on straw shared by cattle and sheep. The visitors came–wise men, kings, and shepherds. “I love this story so much!” the little girl responds.

Then along comes thought, the thinking brain. “I know God lives in our hearts. But does he live out there?” gesturing with a wide arm to the outside world. “How do we know?” She asks these questions in her barely five year old head, because her dear gramma says God created and her even dearer papa says there is no God.

Little girl, I just want to say to you, “It’s not about your gramma or your papa. It’s about you. Follow your heart.”

Your heart is the head and your head is the tail. Don’t let the tail wag the dog. If you want to believe in God, then believe. God in his kindness will accept your desire, even if you lack reason for it. As years pass, over time, he may or may not answer the questions of your head. If God had wanted the blessing of belief to come through the head, he would have made it so. As it is, he chose faith. Turn your heart toward God, and your head will follow.

 

 

Waiting Out the Storm: Psalm 130

Photo by Jian Xhin on Unsplash

 

The prayers have been prayed. The battle has been fought. In Psalm 130, the psalmist finds himself alone in a deep, deep place. If we see Christ praying this psalm, we would say that his human body and soul have died, and he lies buried in death. That’s about as deep as a human being can ever go. 

What does the divine Son do, united as he is with his humanity? He does what he always does. He turns to the Lord, gives voice to his people-ness, and cries out to him, just as he always did in life.

Psalm 130:1 A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
2 O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! (ESV)

The Bible teaches that Christ died for our sins. In the next verses the psalmist/Christ reminds God of the reason for his whole being on earth, that God would forgive.

3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. (ESV)

Now everything that can possibly be done has been done. What does this person the psalmist represents do now? He waits. From the deepest deep of the depths, having been removed from all possibility of doing more, the psalmist waits.

5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. (ESV)

Then he encourages his countrymen, his friends, those in fellowship with him, to do the same: to wait in steadfast hope on the Lord. Because his faith in God tells him that redemption is on its way.

O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. (ESV)

Waiting can be a most difficult time. Our faith is tested while we wait. Do we wait in hope of deliverance, as the psalmist did? (See his deliverance in Psalm 18.) Do we wait in peace and even joy, as Paul and Silas did while chained in the depths of a foreign dungeon? (Acts 16:16-40)

Christ was rewarded with resurrection. Paul and Silas were rewarded with freedom and vindication. When we hide ourselves in Christ, we also receive multitudes of “small” resurrections. These small resurrections from the heart wrenching trials of life point to one great, enormous resurrection from death and the grave itself. What a day that will be, a day worth waiting for.

 

A Quibble with NET Word Choice in Psalm 33:6

I take issue with NET’s translation of Psalm 33:6. I would use the majority translation “word” rather than the minority translation “LORD’S decree,” because the context does not support NET’s paraphrase over the literal text of the original Hebrew and Greek.

ESV Psalm 33:6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. 

NET Psalm 33:6 By the LORD’s decree the heavens were made; by a mere word from his mouth all the stars in the sky were created. (Psa 33:6 NET)

The following translations use “word” in verse 6: ESV, NIV 1984, NIB (British NIV, 1984), NAS, BBE (Bible in Basic English), LXE (Brenton’s Septuagint English Translation), NETS (New English Translation of the Septuagint, Pietersma, 2009), KJV, NKJV, NRS (New Revised Standard Version, 1989), and the NIV, 2011. “Word” literally translates both the Greek of the Septuagint and the Hebrew, as the NET points out in its notes. However, the NET model, 2006,  and the NIRV (New International Reader’s Version, 1998) have taken the liberty to interpret the literal “word” of the two original languages and to place the interpretation into the text. NET then puts the literal translation into the notes. Can these two be right and everyone else wrong?

The NET writes for Psalm 33:6, “By the LORD’s decree the heavens were made; by a mere word [breath, or spirit] from his mouth all the stars in the sky were created.” The NIRV writes, “The heavens were made when the LORD commanded it to happen. All of the stars were created by the breath of his mouth.”

The interpretation NET and NIRV have given (although the 2011 NIV returns to “word”) is a narrow slice of the semantic range of possible meanings of the literal “word” of the original. In the case of the NET, I strongly suspect that this is an editorial decision based upon the philosophy (hermeneutics) of Old Testament interpretation the editors have chosen. NET is fond of placing the literal in the margin and their particular interpretation in the text itself.

Why does this matter? 1) These two versions are changing the literal translation of God’s word. 2) They are interpreting for God the meaning of the text, rather than allowing the reader to do so under the guidance of God.

One of the readers of Psalms was John the Apostle. In John 1:1-5, he writes,

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (NIV, 2011)

The author of Hebrews writes,

2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

Why rob the reader the pleasure of seeing the Word, the Son, in Psalm 33:6 by changing the literal translation “word” to “LORD’s decree“? The semantic domain of “word” includes the concept of “decree,” while “decree” erases the possibility of the Personhood of God’s Word.

In support of keeping the original rather than NET’s interpretation, the text of Psalm 148:5-6 is interesting in its contextual similarity to Psalm 33:6.

5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.
6 He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away. (NIB, NIV 1984)

5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he gave the command and they came into existence.
6 He established them so they would endure; he issued a decree that will not be revoked. (NET)

In these verses, “them” means everything named in verses 2-4: angels, heavenly hosts, sun, moon, shining stars, highest heavens, and waters above the skies, i.e., creation, apart from the earth. These verses contain the translations “commanded…created,” “set them in place,” and “gave a decree.” Interestingly, NET notes does not mention any of the three verbal phrases.

In comparison with Psalm 33:6, the immediate creation context is identical. “6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” Yet even though the context is identical, the original Greek and Hebrew words referring to the act of creation are different. Psalm 33, as noted above, uses the Hebrew and Greek original for “word,” “logos” (see Strong’s H1697 and G3056), whereas Psalm 148:5-6 uses different words more directly related to “command” (see Strong’s H6680, H8765, G1781, G2476, and G4367).

“Logos,” which is “word” in the New Testament, carries great weight, and one cannot help but wonder why the NET chose to minimize its potential importance in Psalm 33:6, given that NET’s claimed translation “the LORD’s decree” has other specific Hebrew and Greek words that God could have chosen, as for example, those he did choose in Psalm 148:5-6 in an identical context. Are we to think that God pays less attention to details than NET? In Psalm 33:6, if God intentionally chose Hebrew “dabar” and Greek “logos,” both meaning “word,” then “word” it is.

For Lovers of God: Psalm 33

Psalm 33 1) beautifully describes God’s nature as reflected in his many activities and 2) encourages people everywhere to worship him loudly and clearly with joyful praise and celebration.

myjoyonline.com

Psalm 33 opens with a clarion call to praise that pictures a scene of genuine celebration:

1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. (Psalm 33:1-3 NIV, 1984)

Verses 4 and 5 give four reasons to celebrate God:

  1. For the word of the LORD is right and true; (vs 4)
  2. He is faithful in all he does (vs 4)
  3. The LORD loves righteousness and justice; (vs 5)
  4. the earth is full of his unfailing love. (vs 5)

The body of the psalm develops these four points:

1. For the word of the LORD is right and true (vs 4)

God created by his Word (see footnote 1, technical).

6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; {Or sea as into a heap} he puts the deep into storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

2. He is faithful in all he does (vs 4)

10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm for ever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. 

As we consider today’s shifting political market and humankind’s long world history, we see that various nations and people groups rise and fall. “But the plans of the LORD stand firm for ever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” God is faithful, unchanging, ever true, and powerful.

3. The LORD loves righteousness and justice; (vs 5)

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling-place he watches all who live on earth–
15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.
16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.

The LORD blesses those who follow his ways (vs 12). His ways are righteousness and justice. God did not simply create and then disappear into the vastness of an infinite space (deus ex machina). Verses 13-15 state that God looks and sees everyone everywhere. He judges by his own standards of uprightness, of righteousness and justice. Verses 16-17 state that history is full of examples in which leaders with great armies, great strength, and the best of equipment find all those insufficient to save. It is God who saves.

4. the earth is full of his unfailing love. (vs 5)

18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

The LORD knows his own. He watches over them carefully, minutely, and always. The text describes God’s people as those who love him, respect, trust in, and obey him (text: fear him) as well as place their hope in God’s loyal and faithful actions and attitude of love towards them. We might call these actions faith. God delivers from death those who place their faith in him, who give their loyalty to him. He also keeps them alive in famine.

What should our response be?

Verses 20 and 21 recap the introductory verses 1-3.

20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.

Verse 22 concludes with a prayer that 1) asks the faithful God to continue blessing his people just as he has done in the past, and 2) expresses the continued loyalty of the people.

22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.

Application:

Explanations of a psalm are never as good as the psalm itself, just as reading a synopsis of a book or movie is never as good as experiencing. When someone tells about a great time they had, the description comes nowhere near the great time itself. Explanations like the above serve at best as a roadmap to lead the way or guideposts to point out interesting sights. Whereas experiencing a psalm and being swept up into its mood or passion can happen in just a few short minutes, digesting an explanation can dampen the joy of movement. So read the psalm when you are fresh and celebrate God’s ever present goodness.

_______________

I. Technical Note: The following translations use “word” in verse 6: ESV, NIV 1984, NIB (British NIV, 1984), NAS, BBE (Bible in Basic English), LXE (Brenton’s Septuagint English Translation), NETS (New English Translation of the Septuagint, Pietersma, 2009), KJV, NKJV, NRS (New Revised Standard Version, 1989), and the NIV, 2011. “Word” literally translates both the Greek of the Septuagint and the Hebrew, as the NET points out in its notes. However, the NET model, 2006,  and the NIRV (New International Reader’s Version, 1998) have taken the liberty to interpret the literal “word” of the two original languages and to place the interpretation into the text. NET then puts the literal translation into the notes. Can these two be right and everyone else wrong?

The NET writes for Psalm 33:6, “By the LORD’s decree the heavens were made; by a mere word [breath, or spirit] from his mouth all the stars in the sky were created.” The NIRV writes, “The heavens were made when the LORD commanded it to happen. All of the stars were created by the breath of his mouth.”

The interpretation these two more modern versions have given (although the later NIV went back to using “word”) is a narrow slice of the semantic range of possible meanings of the literal “word” of the original. In the case of the NET, I strongly suspect that this is an editorial decision based upon the philosophy (hermeneutics) of Old Testament interpretation the editors have chosen. NET is fond of placing the literal in the margin and their particular interpretation in the text itself.

Why does this matter? 1) these two versions are changing the literal translation of God’s word. 2) They are interpreting for God the meaning of the text, rather than allowing the readers to do so under the guidance of God.

One of the readers of Psalms was John the Apostle. In John 1:1-5, he writes,

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (NIV, 2011)

The author of Hebrews writes,

2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

Why rob the reader the pleasure of seeing the Word, the Son, in Psalm 33:6 by changing the literal translation “word” to “LORD’s decree“? The semantic domain of “word” includes the concept of “decree,” while “decree” erases the possibility of the Personhood of God’s Word.

The text of Psalm 148:5-6 is interesting in its contextual similarity to Psalm 33:6.

5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.
6 He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away. (NIB, NIV 1984)

5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he gave the command and they came into existence.
6 He established them so they would endure; he issued a decree that will not be revoked. (NET)

In these verses, “them” means everything named in verses 2-4: angels, heavenly hosts, sun, moon, shining stars, highest heavens, and waters above the skies, i.e., creation, apart from the earth. These verses contain the translations “commanded…created,” “set them in place,” and “gave a decree.” Interestingly, NET notes does not mention any of the three verbal phrases.

In comparison with Psalm 33:6, the immediate creation context is identical. “6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” Yet even though the context is identical, the original Greek and Hebrew words referring to the act of creation are different. Psalm 33, as noted above, uses the Hebrew and Greek original for “word,” “logos” (see Strong’s H1697 and G3056), whereas Psalm 148:5-6 uses different words more directly related to “command” (see Strong’s H6680, H8765, G1781, G2476, and G4367).

“Logos,” which is “word” in the New Testament, carries great weight, and one cannot help but wonder why the NET chose to minimize its potential importance in Psalm 33:6, given that NET’s claimed translation “the LORD’s decree” has other specific Hebrew and Greek words that God could have chosen, as for example, those he did choose in Psalm 148:5-6 in an identical context. Are we to think that God pays less attention to details than NET? In Psalm 33:6, if God intentionally chose Hebrew “dabar” and Greek “logos,” both meaning “word,” then “word” it is.

 

 

My New Book

I’ve published my first book, Beauty: Find One Beautiful Thing Every Day and Take a Photo of It. I apologize that it’s not about Psalms! The book contains 31 photos of beauty which I found in the commonplace things around me and 31 simple poems to accompany the photos. The book is available on Amazon at Beauty: Find One Beautiful Thing Every Day and Take a Photo of It.

I invite you to check it out!

 

Psalm 68:1-6–A Harry Potter Kind of Celebration

From Pottermore.com

 

When the fictional Harry Potter caused the death of the wicked Lord Voldemort, J. K. Rowling describes the scene with these words:

Voldemort fell backward, arms splayed, the slit pupils of his scarlet eyes rolling upward … Voldemort was dead … then the tumult broke around Harry as the screams and the roars of the watchers rent the air. The fierce new sun dazzled the windows as they thundered toward him … and Harry could not hear a word that anyone was shouting, nor tell whose hands were seizing him, pulling him, trying to hug some part of him, hundreds of them pressing in, all of them determined to touch the Boy Who Lived, the reason it was over at last … The sun rose steadily over Hogwarts, and the Great Hall blazed with life and light … the innocent [prisoners] of Azkaban were being released at that very moment … 

(J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (USA: Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc., 2007), 744-745.)

Why was there such rejoicing? The wicked wizard Voldemort had oppressed the people by fear, intimidation, torture, maiming, imprisonment, death, and separation of families. Harry’s victory over him ended all this, and freed from captivity, the people’s outcry of joy was magnificent.

Notice that Rowling divides the action quoted above into three parts: 1) the death of the enemy, 2) the victory celebration, and 3) the reason for the joy.

While the Harry Potter series is fiction, the Bible is not. Psalm 68:1-6 describes God’s victory over the forces of darkness in a way that could serve as a model for Rowling. Verses 1-2 describe the victorious battle:

God springs into action! His enemies scatter; his adversaries run from him.
2 As smoke is driven away by the wind, so you drive them away. As wax melts before fire, so the wicked are destroyed before God. (Psalm 68:1-2 NET)

Next comes the victory celebration:

3 But the godly are happy; they rejoice before God and are overcome with joy.
4 Sing to God! Sing praises to his name! Exalt the one who rides on the clouds! For the LORD is his name! Rejoice before him! (Psalm 68:3-4 NET)

And finally, the biblical author gives the reason for the joyful celebration:

5 He is a father to the fatherless and an advocate for widows. God rules from his holy palace.
6 God settles those who have been deserted in their own homes; he frees prisoners and grants them prosperity. But sinful rebels live in the desert. (Psalm 68:5-6 NET)

In other words, God is good! The people are so glad he freed them from the tyranny of those seeking their own power, of those who delight in causing others to suffer.

Harry Potter is a fictional character, yet he has a large fan following.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I pray that all who read this will know that you exist, that you are love, that you hear the heart cries of us all (Pslam 65:2), and that you answer and give relief to all who turn to you. Thank-you, amen.

……………………………….………………………………………………………..

Technical note of further interest regarding Psalm 68:6c and the Malfoy family in the Harry Potter series.

6a God settles those who have been deserted in their own homes; 6b he frees prisoners and grants them prosperity. 6c But sinful rebels live in the desert. (Psalm 68:5-6 NET)

Those who have read this blog for awhile know how highly I regard the Septuagint edition of Scripture. There are two interesting English translations of this Greek version of Psalm 68:6 that I find interesting.

6a God settles the solitary in a house; 6b leading forth prisoners mightily, 6c also them that act provokingly, even them that dwell in tombs. (Brenton, Sir Lancelot C. L. The Septuagint Version: Greek and English. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970.)

6a God settles the solitary in a house; 6b With courage He leads out those in bondage, 6c Likewise those who rebel, who dwell in tombs. (Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Elk Grove, California. The Orthodox Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008.)

I. Context

It appears to me that the Septuagint version of verse 6c matches the near and surrounding contexts of Psalm 68 far better than the English versions based upon the Masoretic Hebrew texts, such as the NET quoted above.

First, verse 6 is naming God’s benefits to those who are rejoicing in his victory, not the bad consequences to those who still his enemies.

Second, the large bulk of the entire psalm is focused on God’s victory, the response of his supporters, and the benefits awarded to them. Nowhere else remotely near this portion of verse 6 are the results for the enemies of God described. Further, statements concerning his enemies form a small portion of the entire psalm.

It seems unlikely, therefore, that a single phrase inserted in a context bearing no resemblance to that phrase would be the correct meaning of Psalm 68:6c.

II. New Testament Relevance

Psalm 68:18 sheds light on the identity of God in this psalm.

You ascend on high, you have taken many captives. You receive tribute from men, including even sinful rebels. Indeed the LORD God lives there! (Psalm 68:18 NET)

Thou art gone up on high, thou hast led captivity captive, thou hast received gifts for man, yea, for they were rebellious, that thou mightiest dwell among them. (Brenton, The Septuagint Version)

You ascended on high, You led captivity captive; You received gifts for mankind, Truly for the disobedient, so they may dwell there. The Lord God is blessed; (Psalm 68:19 The Orthodox Study Bible)

Paul quotes a variant of the Greek Psalm 68:18 in Ephesians 4:8, where in its context, he solidly makes reference to Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 4:8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he captured captives; he gave gifts to men.” (Ephesians 4:8 NET)

According to The Orthodox Study Bible (Psalm 68, pages 724-725), Psalm 68 in its entirety is about the resurrection and ascension of Christ. This conclusion follows the principles of ordinary literary interpretation. If one verse of a text block clearly points to a particular referent, then, if the contextual flow of language is contiguous and no other referents are introduced, then the entire textual block must be about the same referent. This is the case for Psalm 68:18 and its context. Reading prophetic scripture in context makes far more sense than yanking verses out of context in order to interpret them as isolated islands of meaning.

Therefore, if we consider that Psalm 68 makes reference to Christ and his victories, we should look to the New Testament, and especially to the gospels, to make sense of verse 6c, Likewise those who rebel, who dwell in tombs. Verse 6 tells the reader that Christ is helping three groups of people: 1) the solitary, those who have been deserted by humanity and live alone, 2) the prisoners, and 3) the rebellious, who live as though dead, or among tombs. Where can we find a New Testament reference to the rebellious living among tombs?

First, the New Testament, and Paul specifically in Romans 3:23 and Romans 5:8, teaches that God died for sinners, enemies, and we were all such at one time. Since humankind was not created as enemies of God, they became enemies through rebellion. The New Testament also teaches that humankind was dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). Metaphorically, dead people live in tombs.

Second and literally, the gospel of Mark 5:1-20 relates how Jesus met a demon-possessed man of the Gerasenes, who actually lived among the tombs. Further, when Jesus approached him, the man called out provokingly to Jesus in a loud voice, saying, “Leave me alone, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! I implore you by God– do not torment me!” (Mark 5:7 NET) Likewise, Psalm 68:6c in Brenton’s translation talks about those who act provokingly, even those who live in tombs.

Third, as if by chance, verse 18 in Psalm 68, the verse that identifies Jesus as the victorious actor, also mentions that his gifts were either received from or given to rebels:

You ascended on high, You led captivity captive; You received gifts for mankind, Truly for the disobedient, so they may dwell there. The Lord God is blessed; (Psalm 68:19 The Orthodox Study Bible)

God is indeed merciful, as this verse and this psalm show.

III. Harry Potter

Compared to knowing that the most high God is extremely merciful through his Son Jesus Christ, knowledge of the fictional mercy of Harry Potter seems trivial, except as a means of illustration. The Malfoy family, especially Draco the son and Lucius his father, were rebellious, having chosen the dark lord to serve. And metaphorically, as time progressed, it became more and more apparent that they felt miserable and that living under the dark lord’s power was like living among the dead. Further, both Lucius and Draco provoked Harry with their actions and speech throughout the series, just as Psalm 68:6c describes the provoking action of the rebellious ones living in tombs. Nevertheless, Harry and his companions, including Dumbledore and Ron, showed Draco and his parents extreme mercy, until finally, the Malfoy family left the wicked Valdemort’s side before he died.

IV. What Is the Point?

Once again, what is the point of comparing the Harry Potter series with Psalm 68? Harry Potter is a gripping story to read and Rowling does a great job both of contrasting good and evil and of presenting the joy of regular folk in the ultimate victory of goodness, as represented by Harry Potter and his friends. If readers love Harry Potter, then I implore that the same readers would give the Lord Jesus Christ a chance, since in many ways Rowling appears to have modeled her heroic character and plot after the good news of the one and only Savior under heaven, Jesus Christ, who does exist in the real world.

 

Psalms 9 and 10: A Readers Theater

Prosopoeia: Dramatic Character Masks for a Readers Theater

God is not a stern, heavy-handed professor who crosses out the needs and heartfelt cries of our prayers with a large red pen, saying, “No, you are reading my psalms incorrectly.”

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How This Post Developed

Help me to understand what your precepts mean! Then I can meditate on your marvelous teachings. (Psalm 119:27 NET)

Sometimes a portion of Scripture opens to the understanding in a burst, a flash, all at once, like an experiencing directly in our heart. Gifts like these humble us, causing us to worship God, to thank him for his blessings in Christ, and to be amazed that the Spirit can speak his Word like this to us in such an intimate way. Other times, Scripture seems more like a brick wall, impenetrable, unyielding, or like hard dirt that must be mined. When meaning comes forth and gems begin to appear, once again, the heart is humbled, and we stand amazed at God for his goodness to us, his love toward us as displayed in his Word. This psalm yielded to this author without bursts, but with much prayer and multiple, patient readings. When the writer then places her thoughts alongside those of her favorite commentators and finds that she is in the ballpark, not far from the mark of respected others, she is humbly thankful for the confirmation of her meditation.

Readers Theater

Psalms were written during the period of time when other Ancient Near Eastern literature was written. As a genre, the Psalter can sound remote to our modern ear. This need not be, since the psalms were intended for performance in Israel’s worship, whether through singing, recitation, reading, or teaching. Many reading this article may be familiar with a style of literary presentation called readers theater (or reader’s theater or readers’ theater). This is a minimalist performance in which actors read a script onstage in performance without memorization. There is no full set, nor full costumes. Readers theater is basically dramatic reading. As a dramatic production, readers theater can utilize a narrator, a chorus, individual characters, and dramatic tools such as flashbacks and fast forwards. Interactions between these are kept simple.

It is helpful to our modern ear to envision a specific psalm as readers theater. Given the dramatic nature of psalms, various timeframes are discernible, important periods of dramatic time, all revolving around Christ as center. These include the pre-Christ setting (prophetic), the incarnation (historical), the post-resurrection (historical), the end times (prophetic) and the eternal (by faith). Individual speeches within a given psalm may be placed in any one of these time frames, and they do interchange within single psalms.

The author’s viewpoint in the psalms is eternal. God the ultimate writer is not constrained by an Ancient Near Eastern time frame nor by any other. God is as concerned with us the present day readers as much as he was concerned with those who lived during the original recording of Scripture. Paul, the New Testament writer of many biblical letters, or epistles, appropriated Old Testament Scripture as having been recorded for application during his particular era, which was very future to the time when historical events were recorded in Israel’s distant past.

1 Corinthians 10:6 These things happened as examples for us, so that we will not crave evil things as they did. (NET)

1 Corinthians 10:11 These things happened to them as examples and were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come. (NET)

We today are still part of the biblical time frame named by Paul as “the ends of the ages.” Actually, we are nearer to the final ending than Paul was. What was true for Paul is true for us. God most definitely wants us to appropriate ancient Scripture as our own, relevant and applicable for today. God is not a stern, heavy-handed professor who crosses out the needs and heartfelt cries of our prayers with a large red pen, saying, “No, you are reading my psalms incorrectly.” It is his very own Holy Spirit who opens and intimately connects the words of the Psalter with our own hearts and life circumstances. He wants us to apply his psalms in personal ways in order to make them our very own.

Psalms 9 and 10: A Dramatic Interpretation

This is how I read these two psalms, how they make the most sense to me. I have joined them together as two parts of one psalm, as they are presented in the Septuagint, which is my bible of choice for the reading and perception of God’s intent in Psalms.

Psalms 9 and 10 represent three clearly discernible dramatic characters, or prosopa: 1) God, 2) the righteous, poor and needy individual, and 3) the wicked. As a Readers Theater, five speaking parts would be assigned: 1) God, 2) the righteous poor and needy first person singular speaker, 3) the wicked person(s), 4) a narrator representing God, and 5) a chorus/congregation. These are abbreviated in the script below as: God, the Righteous, the Wicked, Narrator, and Chorus.

The narrator may be thought of as a holy person, perhaps the Holy Spirit, who stands outside the action and commands a perfect view of all. He clearly advocates for God. The Chorus represents the congregation, both Old Testament and New. They also are clearly on God’s team. There is by no means any hard and fast line between the Narrator’s speeches and the lines of the Chorus. In most cases, one character could read both of these roles. Assigning two roles is an appeal to a more interesting readers theater.

Psalm 9 (ESV)

the Righteous: [in prayer to God] Psalm 9:1 To the choirmaster: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David. I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
3 When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence.
4 For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.
5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished.

Narrator: [speaking about Christ the Lord] 7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice,
8 and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness.
9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Narrator: [speaking to Christ the Lord]  10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Narrator: [speaking to the Chorus/Congregation about Christ the Lord] 11 Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!
12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

the Righteous: [a flashback prayer illustrating “the cry of the afflicted” from the previous verse. The afflicted one is Christ in his incarnation]  13 Be gracious to me, O LORD! See my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in your salvation.

Narrator: [from the point of view of the future eternity looking back]  15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.

Chorus:  16 The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah 

Narrator:  17 The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

Chorus: [with a strong voice of triumph in address to Christ the Lord]  19 Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you!
20 Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah

Psalm 10 (ESV unless otherwise noted)

the Righteous: Psalm 10:1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

Narrator: 2 In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
3 For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.
4a In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are,

the Wicked: 4b … “There is no God.”

Narrator: 5 His ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of his sight; as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
6a He says in his heart, … 

the Wicked: 6b … “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”

Narrator: 7 His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
8 He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
9 he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket; he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
10 The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might.
11a He says in his heart, … 

the Wicked: 11b … “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

the Righteous: 12 Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted.

Chorus: 13a Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, … 

the Wicked: 13b … “You will not call to account”?

Narrator: [to the Risen and Reigning Christ:] 14 You have taken notice, for you always see one who inflicts pain and suffering. The unfortunate victim entrusts his cause to you; you deliver the fatherless. 15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man! Hold him accountable for his wicked deeds, which he thought you would not discover. (NET)

Chorus: [expressing faith for the present moment and faith for the eternal future]  16 The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. 17 O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear 18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

Summary and Conclusion

The above represents one way of dividing Psalms 9 and 10 for performance in a Readers Theater setting. This is by no means the only way of dividing the script. The goal, however, is that the reader may begin to perceive for herself that there is speech in the various psalms of the Psalter, that more than one voice and one point of view are represented. Psalms are meant to be performed. They lend themselves easily to performance because they deal honestly and passionately with life’s most poignant times of crises. Where we walk, Christ, the ultimate human being, walked before us during his incarnation. Listen to the words of his prayers as man, relate the prayers, Christ as man, and the triune Godhead to yourself, and be blessed. God, as ultimate author, wrote the psalms for all believers of all ages to be active participants in them.

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The needs and concerns of summer have already overtaken me. This will be the last post of the Christ in the Psalms series until next fall, Lord willing. My blessings!

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Psalms 9 and 10: Justice

God speaks the last word: his word is final, just, and determinative.

What does a “wicked” person look like?

Psalms 9 and 10 stand near the beginning of the Psalter, where themes mentioned in brief words of introduction are still being expanded. While judgment has been introduced in Psalm 1:5-6, Psalm 2:5 and 9, Psalm 5:5-10, Psalm 6:10, and Psalm 7:6, 9, and 11-16, there has been nothing like the detailed portrait of the “wicked” person as described here in Psalm 10:2-11. 

The wicked person is someone who…

  • arrogantly and hotly pursues the poor
  • is greedy for gain
  • curses and spurns the Lord
  • wears pride on his face as he denies the existence of God
  • is prosperous at all times
  • is full of confidence in his belief that he shall never meet adversity
  • curses and lies and oppresses
  • injures with his words
  • sets up ambushes and from hiding murders the innocent and stealthily watches for the helpless
  • like a lion lurking in ambush, seizes the poor and pulls them into his net
  • crushes the helpless until they sink down and fall by his might
  • says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it”

We can see from the above that God’s main concern is relationship: How do people treat God? and how do people treat each other?

Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (NET)

This is primary to the God who is L-O-V-E. Psalm 10 spells out behaviors and heart attitudes of the “wicked” who are and do the exact opposite of what God in his love is and does. Only a person in complete denial would ever say that she has never met a wicked person. Our modern society abounds with such. God’s love sent his one and only Son, the co-creator, to hang naked as a human being on a cross and to painfully and willingly suffer and die there in order to forgive wicked people who want to return to him and be forgiven. God refuses no one; he accepts all; but he won’t compel anyone against their will.

God’s Word is Final, Just, and Determinative

Psalms 9 and 10 demonstrate how God gets the last word, that his word is just and favorable to the afflicted, the poor and needy, and that his word carries the power to execute what he decrees. Psalm 9 relates the final outcome of God’s justice in making the world right again, while Psalm 10 provides a close-up of what evil looks like in the present tense to those who plead for God’s merciful help for their defense and deliverance from those who are evil.

Psalm 9 opens with the praises and thanksgiving of a righteous suppliant *(See note), who recounts how God helped him in his great hour of need (verses 1 and 2). God’s help came in universal form, broad in scope and endless in time (verses 5 and 6).

Psalm 9:5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished. (ESV)

Verses 7-10 speak in general terms of the Lord’s eternal, sovereign reign, his goodness to the oppressed, their trust in him, and the Lord’s just and righteous judgments over all. Verse 11 is a call to praise, and verse12 proclaims how the Lord favors the afflicted over the persecutor. Verses 13-14 recount the prayer of a poor and needy suppliant, while verses 15-18 establish the final, favorable decree of God for the poor and needy. The wicked perish. Verses 19-20, functioning as a summary, plead with God to perform what the rest of the psalm states that in fact he will do.

Psalm 10, as summarized above, gives a detailed portrait of the wicked person (verses 2-11). The description of the wicked is sandwiched between a plea for God to act on behalf of the needy and helpless (verse 1 and verses 12-15). The psalm closes with a strong statement of faith in God, that he will bring final, eternal justice to earth (verses 17-18).

The Necessity of Faith

Psalm 9 recounts the thanksgiving of a suppliant whose prayers God answered by judging the world in righteousness, defeating the enemy who stood against both God and against the poor and needy whom God loves. It gives the larger picture, a view from the endpoint of eternity. Psalm 10 on the other hand, provides a portrait from ground level, what the world looks like now.

Psalm 10:1 Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you pay no attention during times of trouble? (NET)

Psalm 10 ends with a plea and a statement of faith. Clearly, the world as a whole leans more toward unrighteousness than righteousness. One only needs to pay attention to the media for a short while to learn of all the millions and billions of people who suffer from one form of exploitation or another. What good are these ancient prayers prayed so many millennia ago, since the wicked still oppress the weak ones?

God has never promised anything except what can be accessed by faith.

Hebrews 11:6 Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (NET)

Psalm 9 speaks the promise, while Psalm 10 speaks to faith. Faith lives in an already-not-yet world. God’s promises have already been given and have been experienced in part by all believers, but many of his promises will not be fulfilled until most of us have already died. Hebrews 11 is an entire chapter that recounts the faith of Old Testament saints who died before receiving the fulfillment of God’s promises. The statement of God’s promises in Psalms 9 and 10 is very strong, yet the realization of them must await the eternity that follows the final judgement, that is, the realization of God’s full promise must await the end of the world as we know it. We will most likely die before we see the eternal promise fulfilled. Our faith, however, experiences these promises as fulfilled now.

Faith is torture for the flesh. Our flesh does not like to exercise faith, since our flesh craves satisfaction now. Faith must deny the flesh and command it constantly to wait. A biblical illustration of flesh versus faith is the narrative of Esau and Jacob. Esau caved in to his flesh and sold his birthright for a single bowl of stew, because his body was hungry (Genesis 25:29-34). Jacob, on the other hand, waited and worked fourteen years to marry the love of his life (Genesis 29:20-30), then labored again to return to his native homeland (Genesis 30:25-43). Jacob controlled his flesh and seeded by faith his eternal future, while Esau allowed his flesh to control him and seeded the present. Esau cared nothing for God, while Jacob encountered God and experienced a life changing transaction with him (Genesis 28:10-22). Jacob responded to God by wanting him and by receiving what God wanted to give. The point is that practicing faith is so hard as to be impossible for those who have not got it (Esau). Faith is a gift (Jacob).

Except for the few who have intellectual interest, the psalms must appear impermeable and repetitive, like watching paint dry, if they are read apart from the eyes of faith.

How Does Anyone Get Faith?

Faith is a gift from God.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (ESV)

Gifts come in two ways: unexpectedly or by asking.

  1. God often chooses people for specific tasks and provides an overwhelming argument as to why the person should believe him. The apostle Paul’s conversion is a good example of this method of receiving faith (Acts 9:1-22).
  2. A common way to receive the gift of faith is to ask God for it. The conversion of the Philippian jailer provides a good example of receiving faith by asking (Acts 16:22-34).

Having faith is not like having air. God always rewards faith by providing tangible evidences, such as those the psalmist recounts in Psalm 9:3-6. Consider the description of faith given by three translations.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. (NET)

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (KJV)

Hebrews 11:1 Faith assures one of the substance of hope, providing verification of invisible realities. (MacDonald Idiomatic Translation, MIT)

God helps our faith, which is intangible, by giving us tangible evidences. In Psalm 9, the speaker saw his enemies actually turning back, stumbling, and perishing. Jesus Christ saw God perform astounding miracles through him, and he experienced his own resurrection. For ourselves, God helps our faith by answering prayer in real time–by healing the sick, by providing for us financially, by bringing to nothing the threats of our enemies, by any number and kind of miracles large and small, and by his Word.

Faith is a spiritual “something” within believers that God encourages and grows by his own Spirit indwelling the believer and by his Word. Faith is a transaction between the person and God. As a person puts her trust in God, God in turn entrusts himself to her. And just as some children need more adult encouragement than others, so God gives tangible evidences that encourage faith to some more than to others. But it is the trust in God and the commitment of our needs to him that pleases God. He is a good God who provides good things for his children.

Listen to Jesus–

John 4:16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said,`I have no husband,’
18 “for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.
20 “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
23 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (NKJ)

So once again, how does anyone get faith? Answer: by asking God for it. Here are just a few examples of how you might word your request.

Lord (notice the humble acknowledgement of God as “boss” and the willingness to approach him on his own terms), I don’t have faith (notice the humble confession of need). Please (notice the humble acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty and willingness as the weaker party to receive from his hand) give me some (notice the faith inherent in the desire to have faith and in the spoken request for it.)

If you get this far in your petition to God, you can be one hundred percent (100%) sure that he will answer you affirmatively. God is good! He loves you!

Lord, I don’t believe in you. Please help me to believe (notice your desire to believe–that is sufficient).

Dear God, I don’t know if you even exist. But if you do, I want to learn more about you.

Once again, if you’ve gotten this far in your petitions in all sincerity and truth, God has chosen you because he wants you to believe in him. He himself has placed this prayer on your heart because he wants to give you the gift of faith to believe in him and in Jesus Christ whom he sent to open the way for you to return to God your Creator.

No step is too small. Even half a baby’s first baby step is enough, just so you step toward God your Father and not away. Try it! He will catch you in his loving arms.

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*Note: A righteous person, as defined by usage in Psalms, is someone who commits him(her)self fully to the Lord. She looks to the Lord for all her needs and tries to please him in all she thinks, says, and does. Her motives and heart are pure; she is 100% on the Lord’s team. Jesus Christ, as incarnated human being, is the ultimate Righteous Person in the Psalter.

Please tune in for the sequel to this post, which will present these same two psalms, Psalm 9 and Psalm 10, in a Readers Theater format. It is scheduled for Friday, May 25, 2018.

 

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