Archives for posts with tag: esv

“The lips of the righteous feed many,
but fools die for lack of sense. ” (Prov 10.21, ESV)

To understand what Solomon is getting at (I think 😋) in this proverb, we have to remind ourselves what Solomon means by the righteous and fools.  To Solomon, the righteous are those who love God, who love and follow God’s law (see Ps. 119) and who encourage others to do likewise.  The fool, on the other hand, is the opposite of the righteous.  This person does not love God, does not love, nor follow God’s law, and encourages others not to love and follow God also.  The fool is diametrically opposed to God.

In this proverb, Solomon is speaking about words as a metaphor for spiritual food.  When those who love God and love his law speak, then those words will be spiritual food for everyone who listens and heeds their words. However, the words of the righteous will not be spiritual food for the fool.  Why not?  It’s because they do not listen to such words.  They don’t want to hear what God says, they have no interest in Him or in His laws, so they neglect it all.  This person will die for “lack of sense” (literally “lack of heart” in the Hebrew).  The fool will experience spiritual death rather than listen to the life-giving words of the righteous!

I like how the Passion Translation captures this verse:

The lovers of God feed many with their teachings,
But the foolish ones starve themselves
For lack of an understanding heart.

We would be wise, dear reader, you and I, to listen to the words of the righteous.

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 And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?” (2 Kings 18:32–34, ESV)

These words were spoken by the Rabshakeh, servant of the king of Assyria, to the people of Jerusalem.  He mistakenly thinks that Yahweh is just like the gods of other nations that the Assyrians have defeated.  Those gods didn’t protect their people from the might of Assyria, why would Yahweh be any different?

The Rabshakeh has a failure of imagination here.  He can’t imagine that Yahweh actually is powerful enough to defeat the might of the Assyrian army.  He can’t imagine that Yahweh created the world.  He can’t imagine that Yahweh is the one God who is God, and is sovereign over every nation, tribe, people, and tongue on earth.

This article from Newsweek claims that science can “prove” that God doesn’t exist.  The thesis of the argument is that, if God created everything basically for human beings, then he created the universe too big and too incredible because humans are only an infinitesimally small part of it, therefore God does not exist.  A laughable thesis because it misunderstands God, misunderstands the purpose for which God created the world, and misunderstands the place of human beings in that world.  It is a gigantic failure of imagination.  The author (and atheistic scientists), despite all evidence of design, can’t imagine why God would create the universe the way in which he did.

We, as followers of Jesus, can imagine why God would create the world the way he did, can imagine that he put the earth in a perfect spot so that its inhabitants could observe the universe, and can imagine that it demonstrates in an irrefutable way, the greatness of God’s creative power and glory.

Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!”” (Psalm 35:27, ESV) Then I won’t be able to hold it in–
Everyone will hear my joyous praises all day long!
Your righteousness will be the theme of my glory-song of praise! (Psalms 35:28, Passion Translation)

I prefer the ESV for vs. 27 and the Passion Translation for vs. 28.

What strikes me is the final line of the psalm: Your righteousness will be the theme of my glory-song of praise! What theme could be greater to sing about than God’s righteousness?  What has the power to lift us beyond ourselves in praise if not meditating on and celebrating the righteousness of God.  Without God’s righteousness we would be lost in sin and condemned to death because we are guilty sinners.

[Side note: Here is part of Kevin DeYoung’s article on sin in the Zondervan NIV Study Bible:

Sin is another name for that hideous rebellion, that God-defiance, that wretched opposition to the Creator that crouches at the door of every fallen human heart. Sin is both a condition, inherited from Adam, and an action—manifesting itself in thought, word, and deed—that when full-grown gives birth to death.]

Surely in the ages to come when the saints are gathered together to be in the presence of God forever and ever, we will sing again and again of the righteousness of God, our eternal glory-song of praise.

So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. And Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel.” (1 Samuel 7:9–10, ESV)

The Philistines take the occasion of Samuel offering a burnt offering to attack Israel.  Samuel’s correct and faith-filled response was to cry out to the Lord…and the Lord answered him.  The result was the first [and perhaps only] time when the Lord defends his people by thunder.

One can only imagine what kind of thunder this was to send the Philistines retreating in confusion and fear.  It must have been terrifying.

As we saw yesterday, God uses animals to accomplish his sovereign will.  Today we find that he also uses natural events; he harnesses them to bring about his design.  In this case, his plan was to fight for Israel using thunder to defeat the Philistines.  Needless to say, God succeeded.

Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?” (Job 40:9, ESV) God asks Job this question towards the end of the book of Job.  The answers to these questions are: no, and no. Only God can thunder like God.

We cannot say it enough, God is sovereign over all things and bends everything: animals, nature, time, people, events, to the control of his will.  Everything serves our sovereign God.  Everything.

And they put the ark of the Lord on the cart and the box with the golden mice and the images of their tumors. And the cows went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh along one highway, lowing as they went. They turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh. (1 Sam 6.11-12, ESV)

What strikes me about this story is that the writer of Samuel wants the reader to see what happened and feel what happened and understand what happened in the march of the milk cows.

The Philistines have captured the Ark of the Covenant and it has been a disaster and the Philistines know it. Whatever city into which the ark is placed, the population begins to experience terrible things. Very soon, they want nothing more than to be rid of the ark. After some hemming and hawing the Philistine leaders decide to send the ark back…if the milk cows will take the ark back of their own accord. Our verses record what happened. The milk cows go back straight down the main highway to Beth-Shemesh turning "neither to the right nor to the left."

The Philistine leaders do not become followers of Yahweh, but they understand that Yahweh would have his ark back, and he got it back.

Here is the faith lesson in these verses. God is sovereign over milk cows. They are nothing but dumb animals, but they must obey God's command just like everything else in this universe, and so they do obey his command and take the ark straight back to Israel, because even dumb animals are servants of Yahweh. He is sovereign over them.

If this is true for milk cows, then it's true for us as well. God is sovereign over our ways and the course of our life (Ps. 139.1-6).

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”” (Ruth 1:16–17, ESV)

Naomi has nothing to offer Ruth.  If she travels back to Bethlehem she will in all likelihood not be married; they will live in poverty; they will spend the rest of their days struggling to survive as two widows with no means of support [husband or children].  Ruth fully understands this.  She is willingly entering into [what she thinks is] a life of suffering and deprivation.

In addition Ruth is turning away from her Moabite gods and fully embracing Yahweh, the God of the Israelites.  Is there any better description of this turning in all of the Scriptures than in Ruth’s simple words: Your God [shall be] my God? 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary comments here:

She chose life with Naomi over her family, her national identity, and her religious idolatry. In one of the most beautiful expressions of commitment in all the world’s literature she laced her future to that of Naomi. She confessed allegiance to the people of Israel (your people) and to the God of Israel (your God). Here was a stirring example of a complete break with the past. Like Abraham, Ruth decided to leave her ancestors’ idolatrous land to go to the land of promise. And Ruth did it without the encouragement of a promise. In fact she made her decision despite Naomi’s strenuous encouragement to do otherwise.

Ruth is an amazing woman and we haven’t yet learned how amazing since we’re only at the end of chapter one.  What looks like a choice of self-destruction into a life of deprivation…well, we shall see what God makes of it.

“The oracle concerning the wilderness of the sea.
As whirlwinds in the Negeb sweep on,
it comes from the wilderness,
from a terrible land.”
https://ref.ly/Is21.1;esv

While this is an enigmatic start to an oracle, we assume from vs. 9 that it is against Babylon.  However, who the oracle is against is not so important for my purposes.  As I’ve read through Isaiah 13-21, I’ve been wondering, what is the purpose of all this?  Why does the Lord take pains to put all of these oracles against foreign nations into the book of Isaiah? The passage kind of drags along and is frankly difficult to read through because it seems so far removed both from our main focus, Israel, and obviously from our own 21st century culture.  Why does God spend so much time on this?

I’m wondering if God doesn’t include these oracles so that we understand that he is God of all the nations, whether or not those nations acknowledge it.  Babylon is under his authority and power; Edom is under his authority and power; Egypt, Ethiopia, and Syria are all under his power and he controls their destiny and prophecies their future.  If this is true, and it is, then God is God of the United States, and of Europe, and of Asia, and of Africa, and of Australia, and of South America, and of every nation, landmass, and ocean drop on the earth.

I have not a shred of doubt that none of the nations mentioned in Isaiah 13-21 and following cared in the least what the prophet of Israel’s God said about them. They should have because, unbeknownst to them, he created the earth and everything in it and all of it is under his sovereign power and authority.

Leave it to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon and no worshipper of Yahweh, to put this truth the best:

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?” (Dan 4.34-35)