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Summaries, Psalm 119:113-Psalm 120

Monday, November 18, 2019

Psalm 119:113-120 (Samekh) shows more concern for the antics of evildoers.  They anger the psalmist and he wants them to go away because he knows they also anger God.  By contrast, the psalmist fears God’s word and trusts His promises.

Psalm 119:121-128 (Ayin) again reflects the psalmist’s concern for what is going to happen to him.  He asks for protection from his enemies, the fulfillment of God’s promises, God’s love, greater understanding, and vindication.  He compares the crookedness of the wicked to the uprightness of God’s law.

Psalm 119:129-136 (Pe) describes the glories of the word and the psalmist’s longing for them.  He yearns for the commandments, and he wants God to be gracious to him because of his commitment to the law.  To him, God’s word and God’s blessing go hand in hand.

Psalm 119:137-144 (Tsadhe) returns to the theme of the word’s perfection.  God’s statutes have been established by Him, His promises have been tested and found to be true, and His law will always reveal what is righteous.  Because of this, the psalmist is confident that through understanding them, he will live.

Psalm 119:145-152 (Qoph) reveals the psalmist’s behavior in trouble.  He calls to God to rescue him, even rising before dawn to do so.  Through the night, he continues to reflect on the word.  As a result, he asks God to protect him from the wicked (who are far from the law), because of God’s nearness to the righteous.

Psalm 119:153-160 (Resh) reports the psalmist’s attitude toward God’s law and those who violate it.  He remembers the law and God’s promise.  Despite his many enemies, he continues to hold to it, and he regards those who do not with contempt.  Ultimately, his hope is in the word.

Psalm 119:161-168 (Sin and Shin) presents the psalmist’s focus on the law.  Even though powerful people are persecuting him, he gives it his attention.  He rejoices at it and praises God for it.  Because of his love for God’s testimonies, he obeys them.

Psalm 119:169-176 (Taw) contains the psalmist’s promise of faithfulness if God rescues him.  He wants both deliverance from his enemies and greater understanding of the word.  Because of his faithfulness, he asks God’s help, and he promises to praise Him and to continue to remember His commandments if he receives that help.

Psalm 120 is written from the perspective of an exile.  He begins by praising God for His past help, and he then asks God to rescue him from people who are lying about him.  He expresses the wish that the tongues of the liars will be pierced with arrows and burned with hot coals.  In the meantime, the psalmist is stuck in Meshech, amid the tents of Kedar (basically, in the deserts of modern-day Iraq).  Even though he wants peace, he’s surrounded by warmongers.

Summary: Psalm 119:33-112

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

As with everything else in the psalm, this section of Psalm 119 concerns the relationship between the psalmist and the word of God.  The acrostic structure of the psalm continues in this portion, this time employing the Hebrew letters from He to Nun. 

Psalm 119:33-40 (He) acknowledges the connection between God’s word and life.  Those who seek the word and follow it will receive life, but those who seek after worthless things and selfish gain will not know God’s blessing.

Psalm 119:41-48 (Waw) focuses particular attention on the usefulness of the word in times of confrontation.  The psalmist uses the law of God to answer those who taunt him, to find hope, and to give him confidence when he stands before kings.  These benefits are only available to those who love God’s commandments and trust in them.

Psalm 119:49-56 (Zayin) considers the consolation that is available in the word.  Even when he is afflicted, when others mock him, when the wicked abandon God, and when things look (both literally and metaphorically) dark, the psalmist still draws comfort from God’s law.

Psalm 119:57-64 (Heth) makes a connection between the steadfastness of God and the psalmist’s steadfastness.  No matter what, he continues to seek the word and praise God, and he is confident that this is the correct strategy because of the obviousness of God’s steadfast love.

Psalm 119:65-72 (Teth) explores the difference between those who honor God’s law and those who do not.  The psalmist strayed from God before he was afflicted, but his suffering taught him the importance of obedience.  On the other hand, the insolent continue to oppose him and God because the word does not move their hearts.

Psalm 119:73-80 (Yodh) examines the value of the word in times of trouble.  Through God and His law, the psalmist hopes that his affliction will work out for good, that he will be comforted, that the insolent will be ashamed, and that the faithful will seek him out.

Psalm 119:81-88 (Kaph) is a plea for God’s help according to the promises of the word.  The psalmist has lived according to God’s law, and he cherishes the hope that God offers him.  Consequently, he calls on God to rescue him so that his relationship with His commandments can continue.

Psalm 119:89-96 (Lamedh) focuses on the trustworthiness of the word.  The rest of God’s creation proclaims His faithfulness, so it is logical to attribute that same faithfulness to the word.  Those who trust in it will be delivered.

Psalm 119:97-104 (Mem) is one of the most famous sections of the psalm.  It exclaims over the psalmist’s love for God’s law and the benefits that come from studying it.  The commandments of God make the psalmist wiser than mentors and enemies alike, and they teach him to act and think righteously.

Psalm 119:105-112 (Nun) contains the most famous verse in the psalm (119:105) and reflects further on how the word is useful through different seasons of life.  The psalmist vows his faithfulness to the word until life’s end.


Summaries, Job 42-Psalm 119:32

Monday, November 04, 2019

Job 42 concludes the book.  It begins with Job’s reply to God.  He acknowledges that in questioning God, his mouth was outrunning his understanding.  From now on, he will be content to listen to God, and he repents of questioning Him.

In response, God accuses Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar of not speaking the truth as Job has done.  He tells them to make a burnt offering and get Job to intercede for them, which Job successfully does.  After he does so, God blesses Job, giving him twice as much as he had had before and 10 more children to replace the ones who had died.  At the end of the book, Job dies in honored old age.

Psalm 117 is the shortest psalm in Psalms, as well as being the shortest chapter in the Bible.  It urges everyone to praise God because of His steadfast love (the Hebrew word hesed, which is untranslatable but means something like, “God continuing to love us because He promised He would) and faithfulness.    

Psalm 118 is a processional psalm with significant Messianic overtones.  It begins with different Israelite groups (probably arranged by group) being called upon to praise God.  The primary singer of the psalm then declares that God has rescued him from his enemies, so he will never be afraid of anyone as long as God is with him.  His enemies pressed him hard, but he defeated them.  Likely, different groups are singing the content of 118:15-16.  The primary again affirms that God has protected him, and then has a discussion in song with the people who are supposed to open the gate for him (vs. 19 and 21 are the primary singer; vs. 20 and 22-27 are the chorus).  The psalm concludes with both singer and chorus praising God. 

Several verses from this psalm are quoted in the New Testament.  118:22 is quoted widely by Jesus and others, and the crowds are singing 118:26 during the triumphal entry.  They may, in fact, have sung all of 118:22-27 as Jesus was going through the gates of Jerusalem.

Psalm 119:1-32 is the opening of the longest psalm in the book and longest chapter in the Bible.  This section, and indeed the entire psalm, exalts the word of God.  The content of the psalm is organized acrostically (each line in the first eight verses begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet; each line in the second eight verses begins with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and so on), so the content can be repetitive. 

The first section highlights the importance of seeking God’s law wholeheartedly.  The second points out the significance of the word to the young.  The third asks for God’s blessing because the psalmist has been devoted to the word.  The fourth promises renewed attention to the word if God will rescue the psalmist.

Summaries, Job 37-41

Monday, October 28, 2019

Job 37 is the conclusion of Elihu’s speech.  If you’ll recall, Elihu is the whippersnapper who was so provoked by the ignorance of Job and his three friends that he had to say something.  He begins here by inviting Job to consider the majesty of God as revealed by thunderstorms.  He creates lightning, thunder, snow, rain, cold, and ice.  The storm goes wherever He wants it to.  He asks Job whether Job is God’s equal in understanding and power.  Does he know how God makes thunderstorms?  Can he himself make a drought?  God is incomprehensible, so wise men learn to fear Him.

Job 38 is the beginning of God’s discourse.  Unsurprisingly, He gets the last word in the book!  He opens by inviting Job to prove his fitness to question Him.  He asks Job if he was around when God created the earth, or restrained the seas, or separated day from night.  Has Job traveled in the depths of the ocean, followed light to its source, or seen how various forms of precipitation are created?  Can Job guide the stars, control the weather, or provide for the animals of the world?

Job 39 continues in similar vein.  Does Job understand the lives of the mountain goats?  Does he know everything about wild donkeys?  Can he tame wild oxen?  Does he understand God’s purpose in the folly of the ostrich?  Does he strengthen the horse?  Does he guide the flight of the hawk?

Job 40 contains God’s summation.  He invites Job to accuse Him if Job can understand all of those things.  Not surprisingly, Job declines the invitation, acknowledging that he isn’t fit to question God.  Nonetheless, God continues to point out Job’s limitations.  He asks if Job is able to rule mankind as God does.  He describes Behemoth (some large beast whose identity we can speculate about but not determine) and asks if Job can control him. 

Job 41 continues God’s exploration of Job’s deficiencies.  The entire chapter concerns Leviathan, another unidentified creature.  God asks Job if he (or any man) is able to tame Leviathan, and if he isn’t, then how can he presume to question God?  The rest of the chapter describes Leviathan’s attributes in poetic terms:  his armor, his fiery breath, his strength, his invulnerability in battle, and his speed. 

Summaries, Psalms 112-116

Monday, October 21, 2019

Psalm 112 examines the blessings that come to the righteous.  This looks like a psalm with three verses and a coda, with the end of each verse being the “forever” statements of vs. 3, 6, and 9.  Each verse explores different aspects of the blessedness of the righteous.  V. 1 is about offspring and wealth, v. 2 is about enlightenment, generosity, and justice, and v. 3 is about confidence reflected in generosity.  By contrast, the coda describes the envy and ultimate failure of the wicked.

Psalm 113 is a call to praise God.  It defines His praise in terms of who (His servants), how long (forever), and where (from the rising to the setting of the sun).  The remainder of the psalm explains why this praise is justified.  God is great and lofty, and He uses His power to bless those who are in need. 

Psalm 114 is a snapshot of God’s care for His people during the Exodus.  It observes that He went with His people as they left Egypt.  He showed His dominion over creation by parting the sea and the Jordan, and by making the mountains quake.  The psalmist then sarcastically asks all of the above why they’re running away and jumping up and down.  Because of this, he calls all the earth to tremble before God, who is so powerful that He can even turn rock to water.

Psalm 115 contrasts the power of God with the powerlessness of idols.  It opens with an appeal to God to glorify Himself, not His worshipers.  The psalmist then marvel at the nations, who don’t know where their god is or what he is doing, with the psalmist’s own certainty of God’s dwelling place and omnipotence (the second half of v. 3, “He does whatever He pleases,” is the Biblical definition of omnipotence). 

The psalm then points out how helpless idols are by comparison.  Even though they have human features, their abilities don’t even measure up to the abilities of people.  As a result, those who trust them will become like them—dead and helpless.  The psalm concludes by inviting Israel to trust God.  He has helped them before, He is sure to bless all who trust Him, and He is mindful to preserve those who praise Him on earth, both by giving them children and by protecting them.

Psalm 116 rejoices in God’s help.  It notes that He heard when the psalmist cried out to Him, even though he was at death’s door.  He did so because of the grace and mercy that are part of His nature.  The psalmist’s soul is able to rest because of how completely God protects him.  Mankind might not be trustworthy, but God is.  The psalmist then promises to praise God and pay his vows to Him.  Because God’s holy ones are precious to Him, He protects them from death, which allows His servants to continue to worship Him.

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