Tag Archive | psalm

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Reading the introductions

The Bible Reading Plan for today is to read Psalm 6-8. I’ve resolved of late to read the introductions of the passages and not skip them. Also, to read the endings and read the notes, like these in the Psalms I’m about to discuss. If all scripture is profitable, then I shouldn’t skip the intros, conclusions, lists of names, genealogies, or musical directions, lol.

Often David or the other Psalmist would make notes to the musicians who were going to play the songs, like this that begins Psalm 6-

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.

Of course, once I read the note and see something like ‘Sheminith’, I got curious. Like, what is a Sheminith?

I read in Easton’s Bible Dictionary about Sheminith:

That the Hebrew of shemini is an ordinal number, eight. The Easton’s Bible Dictionary says sheminith is Eight; octave, a musical term, supposed to denote the lowest note sung by men’s voices (1 Chronicles 15:21; Psalm 6; 12, title).

Nobody really knows for sure. Other Bible dictionaries defined it slightly differently, but along the same lines. Some said, ‘we dunno, the word has passed out of use and understanding.’ I’ts still interesting to look these things up, though.

Psalm 7 is a Shiggaion. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines Shiggaion,

From the verb shagah, “to reel about through drink,” occurs in the title of Psalm 7. The plural form, shigionoth, is found in Habakkuk 3:1. The word denotes a lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion; a song of impassioned imagination accompanied with suitable music; a dithyrambic ode.

Psalm 8 is “according to The Gittith: A stringed instrument of music.”

This word is found in the titles of Psalm 8, 81, 84. In these places the LXX. render the word by “on the wine-fats.” The Targum explains by “on the harp which David brought from Gath.” It is the only stringed instrument named in the titles of the Psalms. Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Well, that was about as clear as mud.

I do know that once we’re in heaven, we’ll likely be singing. (Revelation 5:9). Will we be singing these Psalms in heaven, properly as David originally wrote them, (According to sheminith, a Shiggaion, or with The Gittith?). I hope so. Wouldn’t it be nice if we did!

Meanwhile I resolve not to skip the intros, conclusions, lists, or notations. All scripture is profitable… I don’t always understand how scripture profits me, but I trust that it does.

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Further reading

I always enjoy Phil Johnson’s knowledge of the Psalms and his clear delivery in explaining them.

Here is a page of Phil preaching the Psalms, including one we are to read today, Psalm 8. Interestingly, Phil introduces his sermon by explaining what can be known about the mysterious term ‘according to the Gitteth’.

wed harp

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Our tender God?

Our Bible Reading Plan today brings us to Psalm 3-5. I was struck by this scene-

O LORD, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah

But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
(Psalm 3:1-4)

David is running from Absalom, his son, who wanted to kill David. How heartbreaking when your own child seeks to murder you! Absalom had undermined David and sought to usurp David from the throne and take it over. At a tipping point, David feared for his life and fled Jerusalem. He composed this Psalm.

David was dejected and depressed. He was surrounded by enemies which were Absalom’s allies. David couldn’t trust anyone. But David had God. David notes that he has God’s protection as a shield, His glory, and His tenderness.

God’s tenderness?

David has enough of a relationship with Jehovah that David could express it in terms this intimate- God cares for each of His people so much that He veritably lifts our head. He lifts us out of our despondency. God- the lifter of my head.

the one who lifts up my head: A lifted head signaled confidence and pride (27:6), while a lowered head signaled defeat and disgrace (Judg 8:28). Barry, J. D.,  Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 3:3).

When we’re despondent and depressed, our head is down. Our shoulders slump. Our countenance is low. In Genesis 4:5b when God rejected Cain’s offering, it says,

So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast
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What the verse made me think of is when a toddler is upset and crying and sad. You go to them and you wrap them in your arms, and you want to talk to them, but they’re looking down or away. You take your hand and cup their chin and you raise their face to yours. We are a lifter of heads to our children, and so, God is lifter of heads to His children- us.

He is tender. Matthew Henry explains how God lifts our head:

Joy and deliverance: “Thou art the lifter up of my head; thou wilt lift up my head out of my troubles, and restore me to my dignity again, in due time; or, at least, thou wilt lift up my head under my troubles, so that I shall not droop nor be discouraged, nor shall my spirits fail.”

If, in the worst of times, God’s people can lift up their heads with joy, knowing that all shall work for good to them, they will own it is God that is the lifter up of their head, that gives them both cause to rejoice and hearts to rejoice.  ~Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume.

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Today’s Bible Reading thoughts, Psalm 1:3

A verse from our Bible reading for today:

psalm 1 wed verse
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
(Psalm 1:3)

In the ’90s I traveled a lot. I kept a travel journal most places I traveled to. One adventure was on an ice-breaking ferry/transport ship in Canada. We we started at Rimouski and went all the way along Quebec’s lower North Shore (of the St. Lawrence River) to Blanc Sablon, a city at the border of Labrador. On the early part of the journey when we departed from Sept-Iles, I wrote,

Got up at 5am to see departure. Whales and birds galore. The shore line is interesting, large rocks smoothed over by the tides. Rock ledges poke through the stands of trees lining the shore. How do the trees’ roots grasp in the 2 inches of soil?

I am not agricultural at all, but even a neophyte can muse upon the physics of it. It’s intuitive.

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. (Matthew 13:20-21).

That is what made Jesus’ metaphors so excellent.

fallen tree
The verse in the Psalm above refers to the rootedness of a tree that is planted where it can be fed by good soil and good water. Such a tree does not fall away. It bears fruit.

Where does a believer get his rootedness from? By planting him or herself in the Life of Christ, drinking and feeding on His word. By living and growing in obedience and submission to His commands. Those who fall away were never planted in Him to begin with. They had no confidence in Him, in comparison to their own sin and wretchedness. They were only joyful for a time because their consciences were temporarily salved. But unless one is truly repented, that joy will fade at the first hardship and there will be no streams to drink from for nourishment. They fall.

Barnes Notes on the Psalm-

A description of the happiness or prosperity of the man who thus avoids the way of sinners, and who delights in the law of God, now follows. This is presented in the form of a very beautiful image – a tree planted where its roots would have abundance of water.
Planted by the rivers of water – It is not a tree that springs up spontaneously, but one that is set out in a favorable place, and that is cultivated with care.

God cultivates us by the Spirit, but we shepherd our salvation too. Drink deeply from the word, obey and submit with grace without grumbling. Pray earnestly for all things, and praise the One who planted you. May you bear fruit in your time.

psalm 1 wed verse

The Idlers at the Gate

‎This celebrated sixty-ninth psalm has been called the missionary’s psalm. It speaks of the miseries of one far from home and kindred, of one who proclaims God to those who will not heed. The unbelievers, in their rage and scorn, heap injury upon the preacher, afflict him both in body and in mind. “Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children. “For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up, and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.”

‎Then follows the picture of this good man mocked by the idlers who even to-day, as in the psalmist’s time, gather about the gate of every Eastern city, to chat with those who pass, and comment upon them. The ridicule of these falls heavily upon the psalmist; he cries out, “Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee. Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness; and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.”

Source: The Bible and its Story, Volume 6: Poetry–Prophets, Psalms to Isaiah

The Bible and Its Story is a massive collection of images which illuminate the story of Scripture. The images are taken from modern paintings, illustrations, and other renderings of the ancient text. Together, The Bible and its Story serves as a pictorial narrative of the entire story of the Bible—from beginning to end. It compiles the best of modern artwork to bring the Bible vividly to life.

 

Picture Mixture Tuesday: kids’ digital footprint, bacon, 9/11, piano, gelato, more

There are lots of people in my area without power from yesterday and into today due to the remnants of Hurricane Irma passing north through the state of Georgia. Thank you, Linemen, for your dangerous but so important work!

picture 1

Yesterday was the 16th anniversary of 9/11. On waking up that bright fall morning, millions never knew that in a few hours their families would be devastated, and our national security and psychology would never be the same.

picture 2

A new trend, this precious moon nightlight!

picture 3

 

I’m a vegetarian due to taste and preference issues (not philosophy). I rarely eat any meat. I dislike cooking bacon because of the mess. But this is funny. In the south, I hear many wives mourn the fact that they can’t get their men to eat vegetables, and salads are practically anathema. This dish would be close to the truth in any proud southern home… 😉

picture 4 bacon

 

I thought this was pretty. I’m getting set to do a musical instrument series. I shot this after church Sunday. The delicacy and beauty of a well-crafted instrument is wonderful to behold. When it is played skillfully by someone singing hymns to the Lord, it’s even better.

picture 5

Something to think about when posting pics of your kids on Facebook. Are you widening their digital footprint to the degree that their future privacy will be lost? More here.

picture 6

Where is the best gelato in the world? Well, duh, Italy of course! After three years and many nations competing, one gelateria in Spoleto Italy has won. I’m not an ice cream fan but when you are in Italy tasting real gelato, your world will be rocked. More here on the winner.

picture 7 gelato

Psalm 63:6-8

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you; your right hand upholds me

Have a great day!

David’s brave prayer

In Matthew 16:24-26 we read,

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

We know that passage means we turn our back on the kingdom of darkness and everything it represents, including self-aggrandizement, self-absorption, selfishness, anything self, &etc. We know we are supposed to die to self. We know we are supposed to hold others in higher regard than ourselves. We know it is written that we should be willing to lay down our life for our friends.

It’s hard.

Very hard.

Oh, does the flesh rebel against this.

We read in Psalm 7:3-5, the following prayer by David.

O Lord my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
if I have repaid my friend with evil
or plundered my enemy without cause,
let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust.

In that section of the Psalm, David is saying that if he has violated his Godly principles and done evil to a friend, may the Lord crush him. He is saying that if he has done evil to an enemy without cause, may him be trampled to the ground without honor.

Barnes Notes explains,

repaid friend with evil – The meaning here is simply that if he were a guilty man, in the manner charged on him, he would be willing to be treated accordingly. He did not wish to screen himself from any just treatment; and if he had been guilty he would not complain even if he were cut off from the land of the living.

plundered enemy without cause – The allusion here is to the manner in which the vanquished were often treated in battle, when they were rode over by horses, or trampled by men into the dust. The idea of David is, that if he was guilty he would be willing that his enemy should triumph over him, should subdue him, should treat him with the utmost indignity and scorn.

No wonder David was a man after God’s own heart. It is a hard thing to pray. Because, God will do it.

Sometimes I try to pray this kind of prayer. The words stick in my throat. Or, as the words come out, I soften them. I am a weakling when it comes to the battle between myself and others. ‘Lay my glory in the dust’? I am far from mastering that.

Praise God for the Psalms. They are comforting yes, but they are convicting too. Lord, help me by giving me the strength to more deeply obey Your principles. As I take up my cross today and go down the dusty road, give me the strength to truly care for others beyond myself, in spite of myself, denying myself.

EPrata photo

Visual Theology: He restores my soul

Chris Powers is creating visual resources for the global church. His resources are free and meant to be shared. Chris creates tract cards, visual exegesis that can be shared separately or through his book Visual Exegesis Vol. 1, study guides and lessons, animations, and more. Please visit his website at fullofeyes.com. He is also on Patreon, and you can donate to his ministry just once or on a recurring basis. He needs $2,000/month to be self-sustaining, and currently the level of giving is $1,947. Won’t you consider being the patron who puts him over the top?

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Click to enlarge
He restores my soul. He leads me on paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalm 23:3-4

Artist’s Explanation: By Chris Powers

I wanted this image to visually express the transition from the pastures into the valley that takes place between verses 2 and 4. The overall color scheme is much darker and the jagged edges of the valley frame the distant pastures in the background.

Verse 3 emphasizes the sovereign leading of the shepherd. It is he who guides and goes before His sheep. This is significant to note because in verse 4 we find ourselves in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The implication is that the sheep is in the valley because the Shepherd has led him there. And—because the entrance into the valley of shadow is by the design of the Good Shepherd—I wanted to show that the sheep is no less in the almighty hand of his shepherd in verse 4 than he was in verses 1-3. In fact, the sheep’s intimacy and dependency upon the shepherd is only intensified by the valley.

In the pastures the shepherd’s presence and goodness were mediated by the grass and water, but in the valley the mediators have been removed and the shepherd himself has become the desperate and hope-filled focus of the lamb (“I will fear no evil for you are with me.”).

The attacking wolf represents the onset of the valley and its terrors (It need not be only death. The Hebrew word translated “shadow of death” can apply to various grievous and hard to bear sufferings that come as we live life in a fallen world. Sickness, loss, a season of doubt or darkness in the soul might all be categorized under this shadow). The shepherd’s hand on the wolf’s head is intentionally ambiguous. He could either crush the animal’s skull into the ground….or allow it to continue its trajectory toward the lamb. However—whatever the outcome— the hand on the wolf’s head declares the shepherd’s sovereignty over all that befalls his own (John 10:28, 21:19, 22).

The wounds of the shepherd visible behind the head of both the lamb and the wolf declare two different truths. The wound behind the head of the wolf reminds us that Christ’s death and resurrection has overcome all of His people’s enemies and that—should they be allowed to harm His beloved—it will only be to the enemy’s final downfall and His people’s exaltation (John 16:33, Philippians 1:28-29, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-8, Revelation 12:11).

The wound behind the lamb’s head is a reminder that our Lord and God and Shepherd Himself has suffered equivalent to and greater than any suffering He may ordain for us. The hand wounded in sovereign love authors our sorrows, and because He Himself is a slain yet living Lamb, He has infinite compassion on those whom He leads. The shepherd who laid down his life as a lamb is the one who goes before us (Isaiah 49:10, Micah 2:12-13, John 10:4, Hebrews 2:18, Revelation 7:17). And since he has led the way through suffering into glory, He has transformed all of our suffering into an avenue for deeper fellowship with Him, fuller joy in Him, and greater exaltation of Him (2 Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 3:10, 1 Peter 2:21).

Notice also that, if the wolf is to attack the lamb, it must pass the through the cross (represented in the staff). This is yet another reminder that the death and resurrection of our Good Shepherd has “de-fanged” the enemy. Because of Christ’s victory on Calvary, tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword—and whatever else might assail the people of God—cannot separate us from the love of God and, indeed, can only serve our ultimate good and His ultimate glory (Romans 8:28. 31-39).

Lastly for verse 4, I wanted to really emphasize the intimate fellowship with the Savior that often comes in the context of suffering (though it might not feel like it in the moment). First, notice that the lamb is intently focused on the shepherd and that the shepherd’s head is inclined toward the lamb. Though the wolf is slathering and raging, it is not the focus, rather, its onslaught has driven the sheep closer to the master. Second, the light of the two halos forms a sort of quiet, personal space—shared by the sheep and shepherd—amidst the darkness and motion in the rest of the image. And lastly, notice that the distant green pastures and still waters are visible through the face and torso of the Shepherd. The soul-restoring kindness of the shepherd, previously mediated through grass and water, is now accessed directly—and only—through communion with the Shepherd Himself.

In conclusion, I want to point back to verse 3. There we read that YHWH leads His people in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. There is much to say about that statement, but for this image the main thing I tried to emphasize is that the paths into which YHWH sovereignly leads His own are intended to make the goodness and beauty of His Name known to them and to those who observe their lives. This is true even (and especially) of those paths that lead through dark valleys because the Name of YHWH is most perfectly communicated in the death and resurrection of Christ, and when the Christ-follower is led through a time of hardship, the glory of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is—in a sense—echoed in their lives.

Christ’s love-borne death reverberates in His people’s sufferings as they entrust themselves humbly into the hand of God to do with them what He will for His glory (1 Peter 2:19-21). And the joy of Christ’s resurrection radiates from His Bride’s face as she endures hardship with hopes set, not on the things that are seen, but on the unseen, blood-bought, and resurrection-assured glory that is to come (2 Corinthians 4:14-18).

So, by making the practical implications of Christ’s death and resurrection visually apparent in this image, I am attempting to show that the valley experiences of God’s people bring the crucifixion and resurrection to the foreground and, consequently, glorify the name of our Shepherd and God who is climactically declared at the cross (Psalm 23:3, John 17:26).