God rescuer

Day 136 (May 16): “Mighty God” rescues those in need, Joyful are those follow God, Mercy and compassion, Rescue me from darkness, Sing God’s mercies

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Psalms 144-145
Psalms 88-89
(~979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 144): I have talked about how David seems to tell God what to do in his psalms.  He, of course, praises Him. You said that David had such a strong relationship with God that we should pay close attention to how he praises and learn from him.  I was just thinking about how Moses and Abraham walked closely with God.  In this psalm, David praises God for his creation. Again, he asks why God should care so much for humans in the midst of the Earth and it’s contents, amazing as they are.  I think you are right, Rob, we should learn from David’s psalms.  How amazing it must be to be David to be able to talk with God so frankly, yet with reverence.

A.  I like it.  There is a great example in the Psalms on praying: it involves bearing our soul to God, and not being concerned with how it might sound (even to ourselves).  The Psalms seem to indicate that God honors such brutal honesty.  There is simply no reason to “fake” a prayer life with God: He knows us through and through anyway.

Q. (Psalm 88): This Psalm says that it is from a “son of Korah.”  Didn’t Korah do something bad?

A. Yes, he did.  Korah was the leader of the insurrection against Moses and Aaron way back in Numbers 16 and was swallowed up by the earth.  But there are elements of redemption in the story as well.  Numbers 26:11 tells us that the descendants of Korah survived the death of their father, and were part of the Levitical priesthood.  They played a role as door/gate keepers and some form of musicians (1 Chronicles 9) for David.  Seven Psalms are credited to them.  Part of the redemption to me is we see the element of grace at work.  Our past does not have to be our future solely because of God’s grace.  One of the clearest messages of Scripture is that God can redeem anyone, no matter what horrible things have been done in their past, or even their family’s past.

Q. (Psalm 88): Heman cries out in this psalm, basically saying he has been doomed since his youth and that God isn’t helping him.  Is he whining too much about his own problems instead of focusing on praising God?  When is it OK to whine to God like this?  I would think that you could ask God nicely and know that He will answer you one way or another.  Does being humble mean not asking God for things?  My husband doesn’t like to ask God for anything because we are so blessed.  I do agree with him that we don’t need anything.  God provides for us nicely.  On the other hand, if something is troubling us, I was always taught — mainly through hymns — to lay my burdens down to God.  And, I’ve always likened my relationship with God to my relationship with my parents — if something is wrong, they should know about it to see if they can give me some good advice.

A. Well, God is well ahead in the “parent” category: He already knows all that we do or think, so turning to Him is surely a good idea.  As we discussed in the previous question, I would say the balance to strike for is the one you described for David: brutally honest, yet reverent.  Do you have a legitimate need?  Ask God for it (Matthew 7:7-12), though be prepared for God to say “no” as well.  Also, I would recommend seeking God’s will for your heart when it comes to what is legitimate “asking” and what is “whining.”  It sounds like your husband is placing great value upon the things you have been blessed with, and so he does not want to feel “greedy” by asking for more.  And that is a legitimate position, so long as this contentment is not being a hindrance to serving the Kingdom somehow.  Remember that the blessings are never the end point of ministry in and of themselves: we are blessed to be a blessing to others.  So if asking for more allows you to be generous, then by all means, ask away (With the same understanding that God has the right to say no)!  Ultimately, you have to know your own heart.  I don’t know what kept God from healing Heman in a way that satisfied him, but his earnest desire to call God out for it is something that we should desire: we should (reverently) call on God’s name, and seek His will, and if His answer doesn’t satisfy us, seek some more.  In the end, it might not be God that changes, but us.  I hope that helps unravel the matter.

Q. (Psalm 89:15-16): I have to admit praising someone throughout the day never seemed like something I wanted to do, knew how to do or thought there could be rewards for doing it.  Then, it seems like when we get to heaven, I remember reading about how we would sing praises all day.  I’m thinking, that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me, especially since my voice is far from angelic.  But, the deeper I get into the Bible, the more I sing hymns and find myself smiling as I sing them. And, I thought I would never listen to modern Christian music.  Now, it’s about all I can stand — gladly!  Rock and country — not all of it — just seems so lewd, loud, down, inappropriate, etc.

A. Much of the that type of description comes from the various “glimpses” that we are given into heaven over the course of Scripture, and some of it has been taken a hold of and exaggerated by artists and musicians (where these liberties take the visions outside of the clear teaching of Scripture).  So I wouldn’t put too much stock in being part of a heavenly choir for all eternity, but I suspect that that sounds like a pretty cool way for some people to “spend it.”

For further reading: There are many reasons for singing to the Lord, https://www.globaldisciples.ca/blog/reasons-the-bible-tells-us-sing-in-worship/

Shop: Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalm 50
— Psalms 73-74

Rescue me from wicked Mount Zion and the Abbey of the Dormition in Jerusalem, Israel

Day 133 (May 13): Let Godly rejoice and wicked perish, Scorned for praising God, Rescue me from danger, Teach me, for I am yours, Divert eyes from wicked

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT.

Today’s Reading
Psalms 68-70
Psalm 86
Psalm 101
(~979 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 68:6): What does “God places the lonely in families” mean?  Then, does the last part, “he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land” still pertain to today, since we see a lot of fighting in desert areas in the Middle East?

A. It is talking about adoption, both in the sense of human families and the divine family.  God not only IS the Father to the fatherless (one of my favorite TobyMac songs, by the way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUpWFz1PDoQ), but He provides real families to those who need them, including widows in ancient times.

I would reject the notion of God “making” people live in sun-scorched lands because of their rebellion.  Many of the people who live in those lands today — often under terrible persecution — are faithful Jews and Christians.

Q. (68:16): I googled Mount Zion images, but I couldn’t tell which one was the correct one.  There’s one with several photos and buildings on the mountain, which looks like more of a hill.  Can you give us a link to the correct biblical Mount Zion photo?

A. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Zion.  This article has it right, and there is a picture included.  Mt. Zion is a low mountain/tall hill in the area of Jerusalem, just outside of the so-called “Old City.”  This “mountain” was not something to be jealous of exactly — though it is the tallest around — and the author is not speaking of the other mountains — some of which are significantly higher — as being jealous of the awesome height of Zion, but rather that they are jealous because God’s spirit resides there.  Mount Zion has come to be a way of symbolizing the Kingdom of God.

O. (68:9-12): These verses certainly show David’s loyalty to God.  He is publicly ridiculed, yet he stands up for God.

Q. (68:22-28): David does his share of wishing for revenge.  God hasn’t spoken much about this is yet.  Is it in the NT where we will read “love your enemies?”

A. Yes, it is primarily a NT concept (Matthew 5:43-48).

Q. (68:30-31): Here is another instance — we talked about this a day or so ago — where God enjoys our praise rather than sacrificing animals to Him.

A. Yes, David is making that assertion.  It will be a major theme of the Prophets.  The problem Israel will have is that they clearly understood the sacrificial system, but they took advantage of it in the way we discussed a few days ago in our understanding of “cheap grace.”  The people were doing whatever they wanted, and then trying to use the sacrifice system to basically “cover their tracks.”  They took the sacrifice system as a license to sin.  This missed the entire point of the Law — which should have brought God and man closer together, not further apart — and God was not pleased by the people’s rebellion.

Q. (101:5): What does this verse mean?  I thought we were supposed to love our neighbor.  If someone is doing something that you or God does not approve of, should you run from that person or just get to know them until you find the good things about them?

A. What David is describing is his desire to see himself and his neighbors living a righteous life according to the Law.  Now, that last phrase is the most important part: according to the Law, you should not gossip, slander, or be prideful.  That would have been the foundation of the entire society in David’s era, and EVERYONE would have been aware of the standard, even if they didn’t follow it.  Now the catch about trying to apply this circumstance to our day is that not everyone is aware of God’s standard, and it is unfair of us to hold people responsible for a standard that they do not know.  Your neighbors might not have the same standard of acceptable conduct as you do, so you have to be tactful in how you approach such things.  Being in loving relationships with people who hold different moral standards than you do can be quite difficult, and you have to decide for yourself where the “line” is with acceptable conduct.  This is just one more place where Christians can get themselves into trouble by trying to act as though modern America is exactly the same as ancient Israel.  That simply isn’t the case, and acting as though it is will very likely result in people not hearing of God’s love clearly because they feel they are being shunned for their conduct.

Shop: Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— Psalm 103
— Psalms 108-110
— Psalm 122
— Psalm 124