Psalm 31:22 As for me, I said in my haste, “I am cut off from before your eyes.” Nevertheless you heard the voice of my petitions when I cried to you. “In my haste,” says David. That sounds like me. In my Greek way of thinking, I need to know now. I often jump to a conclusion quickly and fail to wait for God’s answer. It’s that way in this verse. David jumps to the conclusion that God isn’t paying attention, but later God does answer. The beauty is that He answers even though David makes the assumption that He’s not going to. Sometimes we just need to wait longer and be quieter. Don’t be hasty!
Psalm 30:11 You have turned my mourning into dancing for me. You have removed my sackcloth, and clothed me with gladness, One thing I learned yesterday is that the Hebrew idea of vision is to look at what God has done in the past and align myself with that. It’s like rowing a boat. You face backwards, but go forwards. This is interesting because I’ve had lots of pastors say that you should face forwards and forget what’s gone before. This is a very Greek way of thinking. However, the Hebrew people believed that a person could only go forward if he or she looked at what God had done in the past and then used that to set the course of the next part of the journey. That, to me, is interesting. It makes a lot of sense. But I get stuck. I don’t have a problem looking back and remembering where I’ve seen God working. How do I use that to plot my course though? Of course, here I fall back into the Greek mindset of wanting to know what’s going to happen next and controlling my world. One thing I’m finding is that when a person is immersed in a Greek mindset and taught a Greek mindset from birth, it’s really difficult to try and think in a different way. Yet, You, O Lord, are holy. God knows my heart and its motivations. He knows that I am honestly trying to seek Him and know Him. He knows my weaknesses and my difficulties and the way I think. I don’t think He’s angry at me for not thinking with the right mindset. He knows I try. He cares most about my heart and my motivation and my love. Those He has. And I’m sure there are times when He watches me, gently shaking His head with a soft smile on his lips, as I sort through all these new ideas… and He loves me. He gathers me up in His mighty arms and gives me a quick hug before releasing me to think some more. The Hebrews believe that God, above all things, loves His children and is completely holy. If nothing else, that is what I want to remember. If I can truly remember and believe that God LOVES me, then everything else falls into place.
Psalm 59:5 You, LORD God Tzva’ot, the God of Yisra’el, Rouse yourself to punish the nations. Show no mercy to the wicked traitors. Selah. I thought the name for God here, Tzva’ot, was interesting so I actually did some research! I found that in the Hebrew it’s written tsaba, which is translated hosts. But, if you actually read the definition from Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary it means the appointed time+army+warfare. The Psalmist, David, is crying out to God for rescue from the men Saul sent to kill him. To me, this name symbolizes the knowledge that God’s salvation comes at the appointed, or perfect time. David knows this, and uses this name to acknowledge it. Another way of interpreting the name Tzva’ot is by looking at the Jewish meaning of Tzva’ot which refers to God’s sovereignty and leadership. If it all gets woven together, the name seems to be something like The God who at the perfect time will lead the way into battle and show His sovereignty over the situation. When things are going crazy in my life, which is often, it is helpful to remember that God’s answers come at the perfect time, He is sovereign over everything that is happening, and He leads the fight for me. Through all of it, He is in control of the situation and it never overwhelms Him the way it does me. I like that!
Psalm 28:7 (HNV) The LORD is my strength and my shield. My heart has trusted in him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart greatly rejoices. With my song I will thank him. I found a new version of the Bible on the Blue Letter Bible that I use when I read online. It’s called the Hebrew Names Version. I think it’s also called the Messianic Jewish Bible. It uses common Hebrew phrases in the place of some of the words. I also found a really cool tool – I can look at the Hebrew text and see what the words are in Hebrew. However, the salt of this is that the translation I get for the word is just that, a translation. It isn’t the image associated with the word, and sometimes our translated equivalent isn’t quite right because it takes a paragraph to really get the word’s true meaning conveyed. But, it’s interesting nonetheless. I found when I looked at it that “therefore” isn’t used. According to the Hebrew text it just says “My heart.” After listening to Skip’s teaching on the Hebrew World View I’ve also learned that leb (the Hebrew word for heart) doesn’t just mean our literal heart; it also means the mind and emotions and spirit. So, the heart that rejoices here is really the writer’s whole self. Maybe the “therefore” is implied because of the placement of the phrase? I went back and tried to match the symbols they had for each word with the picture of the textual sentence and also noticed that there seemed to be words that weren’t translated (or maybe they were variations on the translated words given – due to tenses or placement). And, the words weren’t necessarily translated in the same order as the original text (at least that’s how it seemed to my VERY untrained eye). I’d imagine that if I actually learned Hebrew, then a lot of these issues would go away because I would understand the grammatical side of things (like, for example, the Hebrew way of writing puts the important stuff first and the less important stuff later). Anyway, all the technicalities aside, I like the image here. God is a shield, my strength. A shield does nothing on the floor, and cannot protect me if I choose not to stand behind it. It’s the same thing with God. He loves me and wants to be my shield, but I have to choose to stand in His protection. That means two things – first, I have to be close to Him so that I am surrounded and within the radius of the shield, and two, I have to trust that shield not to let anything through. I think that’s a lot of the point of knowing God. Stay close to Him, be where He is, work where He works, and trust Him, that He is Holy and good and loving. When I start wandering off to look at rabbit trails and daisies, I get hurt because I’m no longer under the protective shield of God. Similarly, when I don’t trust Him I’m likely to try to find something else to shield myself with (not a good idea because nothing is as strong and true – I’m ultimately building an idol) or I’m likely to try and start dodging bullets out in the open (how I figure this is a better plan is beyond me). I think a lot of my tendency to move away from my shield stems from a desire to be in control (a Greek mindset) and a failure to recognize and truly understand the nature of God and His love for me. And maybe that is much of the purpose of reading His Words and listening to His voice – to learn and understand who He is (or at least as much as my fragile mind can handle).
As I’m listening to Skip Moen’s Living the Biblical Worldview and my world is being shifted from under me, I found this article about Biblical translations called “Reading the White.“ Ultimately, it says, it doesn’t particularly matter what translation is being read. The point is to “read the white,” letting the Holy Spirit express the meaning of the text. Instead of focusing so much on the black, printed words that time and translation have touched and changed, read the white – let the Holy Spirit speak Truth into your life because Jesus is the WORD of God. It’s a long article, but it’s an interesting read. One of the things Skip talks about in his teaching is the 22nd Psalm. This is the Psalm that Jesus referred to when he cried, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” What Skip notes is that, because we don’t know our Old Testament as well as the early church and the Jewish society, we don’t realize that this is part of a longer Psalm. When Jesus mentions this part of the Psalm, the Jews of this time would immediately know and recall the rest of the Psalm… which mostly speaks about victory over judgement… and is one of the prophetic chapters that foretells the death of Jesus. So, he’s not asking why His Father turned away, but rather proclaiming the beginnings of victory. Very cool. Also, the first two verses ask God where He is when the author is going through a difficult time. The response is, as Skip points out, quite typical for a person who thought in the Hebrew manner: “Yet you are holy. The praises of Israel surround your throne” (vs. 3). No matter what the circumstances, God is holy. Truly, that’s the beginning and the end of the argument. He is Holy. He is Righteous. He is perfect. He is Good and Trustworthy. All these things are to keep me aligned with Him and to mold me into His likeness. So, even in my current circumstances, Yet God, You are holy!
Psalm 56:9 On the very day I call to you for help, my enemies will retreat. This I know: God is on my side. I’ve been listening to Skip Moen’s classes on Living the Biblical Worldview where he explains the way the Hebrew writers of the Bible thought and how it differs from the Greek way of thinking that we are saturated with today. It’s pretty much rocked the foundations of my world. I’ve realized that many of the things I thought I knew and understood are not what I believed, and are built of a philosophy of thinking that is alien and opposite to the philosophy and mindset of the very people who wrote the book that makes up the basis of what I believe. I’m not particularly sure I’m even articulating what I’m thinking. I cannot recommend enough these classes (they’re on downloadable CDs on Skip’s website – http://skipmoen.com/products/). Anyway, the Psalm in which today’s verse lies is one of my favorites. It’s one where it talks about God collecting all my sorrows and tears in his bottle. It’s a beautiful image. This verse reminds me that God hears me. He’s never far away and He’s never not paying attention. His answers come quickly (just not always in the form I expect). It may be that to answer my cry for help, other events get set in motion, some depending on the obedience of another person, ultimately resulting in the answer I need.
Psalm 25:15 My eyes are always looking to the LORD for help, for he alone can rescue me from the traps of my enemies. I find that when I get in trouble and need rescuing, I look to God, but I also look to people around me. When I’m hurting, I go to people to talk. People are tangible. I can see them and touch them. I can get the comfort of a hug if I need it, too. Sometimes it’s hard to go to God for help. Not because I don’t believe He can help, but because I can’t see Him. However, this verse is a good reminder that rescue isn’t going to come from anywhere else. God is the only one who can truly set me free and keep me from harm. People are good, but God is better.