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Chapter Summaries, Job 11-15

Monday, March 18, 2019

 

Job 11 marks the first time that Zophar the Naamathite speaks up.  He is the most sarcastic of Job’s friends so far.  He begins by expressing his contempt for Job’s “babble” and his hope that God would show up to set Job straight.  He then caustically questions the limits of Job’s understanding of God.  Who does Job think he is, that he can call God to account?  Finally, Zophar returns to a familiar theme.  All of Job’s problems are the result of his sin.  If he acknowledges his sin, his problems will disappear and his life will be good again.

Job 12 is the beginning of Job’s equally sarcastic reply to Zophar.  He resents Zophar’s mockery of him, particularly when Zophar thinks that he himself is sooo wise.  However, Zophar has overlooked the fact that the wicked are prospering while righteous Job is suffering. 

Next, Job points out that his suffering must be the result of God’s action.  All created things reveal the power of the Creator.  In fact, God is omnipotent.  Nobody can control or restrain Him.  Even the most prominent and powerful people cannot stand against His will.

Job 13 continues Job’s dissection of Zophar’s claims.  Job wants a hearing before God, but in insisting that Job has no right to such a hearing, his friends are misrepresenting God.  They’re being unfair to Job, and God will punish them for it.

After this, Job directly addresses God again.  He says that he will continue to hope in God even if God kills him.  He knows that he is righteous, so he has the right to come before God.  From God, Job wants to learn two things.  First, what has Job done wrong?  Second, why does God hate him and persecute him so much?

Job 14 is the conclusion of Job’s rebuttal.  He begins by describing the transitory nature of man, who is not eternal because God has chosen that he should not be eternal.  A tree that is cut down may sprout from the stump, but man, once dead, stays dead.  What Job would really like, if God is this angry at him, is for God to kill him now and resurrect him once God’s wrath is past.  However, Job knows that this is a vain hope.  Instead, he is going to have to continue in his suffering.

Job 15 contains the next speech of Eliphaz.  He says that Job is being a windbag, hindering faith in God, and revealing his own sin with every word.  Like Zophar, he demands to know who Job thinks he is, that he has the right to question the justice of God and the understanding of his friends, who apparently are much older than he is.  Why is Job so angry when all people are inevitably wicked?  Eliphaz then spends the remainder of the chapter elaborating on the fate of the wicked.  They oppose themselves to God, so they can only receive evil and not good.

Psalm Summaries, Psalms 21-25

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

 

Psalm 21 is about the relationship between God and a godly king.  Vs. 1-7 are addressed to God.  They praise Him for the way He blesses and establishes the king.  By contrast, vs. 8-12 are addressed to the king.  They predict that the king will find success in fighting and defeating his enemies because of God’s help.  The psalm includes with more praise directed toward God in v. 13.  Though the psalm is not quoted nor alluded to in the New Testament, all these sentiments certainly apply to our King today, Jesus.

Psalm 22 is arguably the most prominent prophetic psalm in the entire book.  Even though it is David’s lamentation over his own sufferings, its words prefigure the suffering of Christ.  The first half of the psalm (vs. 1-21) is made up of alternating sections of complaint and praise.  David complains about his predicament and God’s apparent failure to help him, but he always returns to his faith that God will come to his aid.  In this section are some of the most specific prophecies in existence about the crucifixion:  that Jesus’ enemies would mock Him (vs. 6-7), pierce His hands and His feet (v. 16), and cast lots for His clothing (v. 18). 

By contrast, the tone of the second half of the psalm is much more optimistic.  David explores the good results that will come when God saves him, including a worldwide turning to God (v. 27).  These things were fulfilled as a result of Jesus’ resurrection.

Psalm 23 is the most well-known psalm.  It is widely memorized, and our hymn “The Lord’s My Shepherd” is a paraphrase of it.  It compares God to a shepherd and David (and all the rest of us!) to a sheep.  Like a good shepherd, God provides for us (vs. 1-3) and protects us from our enemies (vs. 4-5).  V. 6 sets out the result:  we will enjoy lifelong blessing and dwell with God forever.

Psalm 24 was probably used in religious processions.  It has three main parts.  The first (vs. 1-2) asserts God’s ownership of the world because He created it.  The second asks who can ascend the hill of the Lord (probably the literal Mt. Zion) and enter His holy place.  Such people have good behavior and honest hearts, and they can expect God to bless them.  The final portion of the psalm is addressed to the gates of Jerusalem, urging them to open before God, who is the King of glory.

Psalm 25 is another appeal for God’s help in time of trouble.  Vs. 1, 2, and 7 are quoted in our praise song “Unto Thee, O Lord”.  In this particular case, David asks for God’s protection from his enemies even though he is conscious of his own imperfections.  He relies on God’s response to his faith, even though he knows he has sinned (v. 7) and needs further instruction (vs. 4-5).  According to vs. 8-10, his hope is founded in God’s steadfast love.  Vs. 11-15 describe the benefits that come to those who fear God:  forgiveness, instruction, stability, friendship, and protection.  The psalm concludes with a final plea for God’s presence and redemption.

Psalm Summaries, Psalms 16-20

Monday, March 04, 2019

 

Psalm 16 describes how meaningful God is to David.  He has no protection apart from God.  He loves those who seek God and rejects idolaters.  God, rather than some patch of dirt in Palestine, is his true inheritance.  God gives him wisdom.  Finally, in 16:8-11, David trusts in God to stand beside him, protect him from death, and give him eternal joy.  This section of the psalm is quoted in Acts 2:26-28, where Peter by inspiration applies it to Jesus.  It is a prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection, that even though He died, He would not undergo corruption or be abandoned to Sheol.

Psalm 17 is a plea from David to God for justice.  In 17:3-5, David engages in spiritual self-analysis.  He insists that his words and actions have been righteous.  Next, he expresses his confidence that because God is filled with steadfast love, He will hear him.  Because of this, he asks God to preserve him from wicked people.  They are going to attack David like lions, and only God can defeat them.  David concludes the psalm by contrasting his hope with the hope of the wicked.  They look for fulfillment in this life, in riches and children, but David’s hope is to awaken to see the face of God.  This reveals David’s belief that God would raise him from the dead.

Psalm 18, which also appears in 2 Samuel 22, expresses David’s joy at God delivering him from Saul.  Our praise song “I Will Call Upon the Lord” is taken from 18:3, 46.  18:4-5 describes David’s peril.  Vs. 6-15 poetically describes the passion and power of God’s reaction.  In 18:16-24, David presents the good things that God’s deliverance accomplished.  Vs. 25-30 relates this to the goodness of God’s nature.  16:31-45 goes into greater detail about God’s goodness to David and severity to David’s enemies.  The Psalm concludes in vs. 46-50 with another expression of praise.

Psalm 19 is about two main ways of coming to know God.  The first is through the physical creation.  Vs. 1-6 point out that even though the sun, the moon, and the stars don’t actually talk, when we look up at them, they declare the glory of the One who created them.  19:7-11 discusses the other great way God reveals Himself, which is through His word.  Here, David examines the perfection and goodness of God’s law.  The lyrics of the hymn “The Law of the Lord” are nothing more than this section of Scripture.  Vs. 12-14 describes David’s reaction to these things.  He asks God to examine his spirit and keep him from evil.

Psalm 20 asks God’s blessing on the king of Israel.  Presumably, David wrote this either about Saul or about himself.  In either case, it asks God to protect the king, receive his sacrifices, and bless his plans.  20:6-7 explains the reason for this confidence.  It is that God hears His anointed.  As a result, unlike the kings of the surrounding nations, who trust in chariots and horses, Israel’s king can trust in God. 

Diligence in Discipline

Monday, February 25, 2019

 

Proverbs 13:24 reads, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”  Typically, when we go to this verse, we see it as being about corporal punishment.  All the experts in our society tell us that spanking children harms them, but we know better (generally from personal experience), and besides, Proverbs 13:24.  Certainly, I believe that there are times when my children’s backsides listen better than their ears do!

However, we ought to spend as much time in this verse considering the importance of diligence as we do defending a particular method of discipline.  The contrast in the proverb isn’t really between spanking and not spanking.  It’s between being diligent in discipline versus refusing to discipline when appropriate.

There are many reasons why parents, even Christian parents who believe in corporal punishment, can find themselves in the latter category.  I’m here to tell you—it’s HARD to discipline children consistently!  For one thing, parents who work long hours may simply not spend enough time around their children to consistently hold them to a standard.  If you only have a couple hours a day with them, do you really want to spend those few hours making them do stuff and calling them down when they don’t?

Energy is another issue.  I have heard legends of children who only need to be told once and then obey their parents’ wishes.  It is not so with my children. 

Don’t get me wrong; they’re basically good kids.  However, they will gladly expend ten times as much effort evading some instruction as they would in obeying it.  Never mind that simply listening the first time would be easier and less painful for everyone.  They remain as intent on freedom as the plot of a Mel Gibson movie.

As a result, they are exhausting to parent.  Getting them to do anything they don’t want to do requires a massive expenditure of energy, and tomorrow, there will be no evidence that the energy was expended.  If the same situation arises, the same conflict will take place. 

I have been known to observe that trying to train my children is about like banging on a hunk of scrap steel with a hammer.  It makes a lot of noise, but it doesn’t appear to produce much change.  That being the case, why not hand them the remote and let the TV and the Xbox raise them?

To myself, to my wife, and to all parents with children like that, I say, “Do not grow weary and lose heart!”  It may be tempting to walk away from the daily struggle, but that won’t end well.  As Shawn likes to say, if you don’t teach your children to act right, the police will.  Life isn’t kind to people who haven’t learned to control themselves. 

Additionally, I doubt that I am truly as ineffective as I sometimes feel.  My children may be learning at a glacial pace, but they are learning.  These days, they can sit through an hour-long funeral without having to be bribed with books or tablets, and that wouldn’t have been true two years ago.  The signs of progress will be evident to those who look for them.

Diligence matters.  It matters in everything, but it particularly matters in raising children.  The more we apply ourselves to the task now, the less cause we will have to regret it later.

Chapter Summaries, Job 6-10

Monday, February 18, 2019

 

Job 6 is the beginning of Job’s first reply to Eliphaz.  In vs. 1-7, he argues that despite Eliphaz’s insinuations, he is being treated unfairly.  If he were being treated fairly, he wouldn’t be complaining!  In vs. 8-12, he insists that the best thing God could do for him, if God is determined to be unfair to him, would be to destroy him completely.  From there, he turns his critique on Eliphaz.  He complains that Eliphaz is being a faithless friend to him, and he sarcastically insists that if he has done something wrong, Eliphaz should tell him what it is.

Job 7 continues Job’s complaint.  He explains that his days are miserable, and he anticipates that he will die soon.  In those circumstances, he doesn’t see any reason to hold anything back from God.  He complains that God is persecuting him through every hour of the day, and he points out that if God continues to do so, He will kill him.

Job 8 is the first time that Bildad the Shuhite speaks.  He insists that God would never behave unjustly toward Job, that all the bad things that have happened to Job’s children are deserved, and that if Job is righteous, God will surely deliver him.  He says that this has been proven by history.  Furthermore, everyone knows that the wicked will be destroyed, but that God will sustain the righteous.

Job 9 contains the first part of Job’s reply to Bildad.  He begins by pointing out the impossibility of contending with God.  When God is so powerful and has done so many wonderful things, who can call Him to account?  Job then imagines the outcome of a contest between him and God.  If it’s a contest of strength, God will crush him.  If it’s a contest of justice, God is so shrewd that He will make Job look guilty even though he is innocent. He says that God is arbitrary in His dealings with mankind, treating the blameless and the wicked alike.  He is afraid that no matter what he does, God will continue to punish him.

Job 10 is entirely addressed by Job to God.  He wants to know why God is oppressing him so.  He is bewildered that God made him so carefully, only to begin to treat him so badly.  No matter what he does, he is confident that God will continue to persecute him.  Job doesn’t get it.  If this was the purpose that God always had in mind, why go through all the other stuff first?  Why not simply let him die in the womb?  All Job asks from God at this point is to leave him alone so he can die in peace.

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