Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Psalms 31: Anguish of my Soul

In the first part of Psalms 31, David describes God as being a strong refuge. Now, the theme of the psalm is going to change. In verses 6-8, we start to see the second theme creek into the passage.

6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols;
I trust in the LORD.

7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw
my affliction
and knew the
anguish of my soul.

8 You have not handed me over to the enemy
but have
set my feet in a spacious place.

Can start to see the second theme creek in? All though David is still speaking to God and how God had helped him, you start to see trouble and sorrow coming; my afflictions, anguish of my soul, enemy, etc. You didn’t see any of these words in the first theme of the psalm.

From verses 9-13, we see the second theme fully.

9 Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow
weak with sorrow,
my soul and my body with

10 My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by
strength fails because of my affliction, [a]
and my bones grow

11 Because of all my enemies,
I am the utter
contempt of my neighbors;
I am a dread to my friends—
those who see me on the street
flee from me.

12 I am forgotten by them as though I were dead;
I have become like
broken pottery.

13 For I hear the slander of many;
there is
terror on every side;
conspire against me
plot to take my life.

In the second theme, David is in the pit. Everything is going against him. He is weak and broken. So what is one to do when afflictions come? When sorrow and grief arise? When it feels like everyone has abounded you? We’ll see how David responded in the rest of the Psalm.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Psalms 31; God is my refuge

I love how David describes God in the Psalms. He captures who God is with his good and rich adjectives. Psalms 31 is a good example. The whole psalm is well written; it describes God as a refuge, how wickedness is trying to destroy David, and last, how David cries out to God. We also see rich word patterns and a strong contrast between God and wickedness.

Today, we will look at the first word pattern in verses 1-5

1 In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.

2 Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my
be my
rock of refuge,
strong fortress to save me.

3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

4 Free me from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.

5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.

Can you see the word pattern? David has a very strong and vivid description of God. He is strong fortress, refuge, deliver, etc. I like to look up the definitions of words. Let’s look at the adjectives in this passage:

Refuge-- a place of shelter, protection, or safety

Deliver--to set free or liberate: to release or save

Rescue--to free or deliver from confinement, violence, danger, or evil

Rock of Refuge--
a firm foundation or support shelter, protection, or safety strong fortress

My rock--
a firm foundation or support

My fortress--a large fortified place; any place of exceptional security; stronghold

Free--pertaining to or reserved for those who enjoy personal liberty

Commit--to give in trust or charge; to pledge (oneself) to a position on an issue or question

Redeem--to discharge or fulfill (a pledge, promise, etc.); to buy back or recover

Don’t you love David’s rich word choices? With his words, he is about to paint a dramatic picture of God.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Psalms 21

If you want a good place to practice looking for word patterns, the book of psalms is a good place to start. I’ve been reading through Psalms and have been amazed how much David uses word patterns. Sometimes, there are two or three contrasting patterns. Psalms 21 is a good explain of this.

Most of the psalm is David is praising God because He is generous and gives freely to those who serve Him. Look at the word patterns:

O LORD, the king rejoices in your strength.
How great is his
joy in the victories you give!

2 You have granted him the desire of his heart
and have
not withheld the request of his lips.

3 You welcomed him with
rich blessings
and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.

4 He asked you for life, and you gave it to him— length of days, for ever and ever.

5 Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.

6 Surely you have granted him eternal blessings
and made him glad with the joy of your presence.

As you can see, David is very thankful for the blessings God has given him. Why?

7 For the king trusts in the LORD;
through the unfailing love of the Most High
he will not be shaken.

Now David spends a little time to contrast. What happens to thoughts who don’t trust in the Lord? Look for the words patterns.

8Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies;

your right hand will seize your foes.

9 At the time of your appearing
you will make them like a fiery furnace.
In his wrath the LORD will
swallow them up,
and his fire will
consume them.

10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
their posterity from mankind.

11 Though they plot evil against you
and devise wicked schemes, they
cannot succeed;

12 for you will make them turn their backs
when you aim at them with drawn bow.

As you can see, there is a big contract between the how God responds to the ‘those who plot evil’ and ‘those who trust in the Lord.’ To the righteous, God blesses and gives. To the wick, he takes away and destroys.

As for most of David’s palms, he ends the psalm like he began it; with praise.

13 Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength;
we will
sing and praise your might.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ruth: Word Patterns

Last post, we looked at how word patterns can show us what's important in a current. Sometime it can be tricky to find word patterns since we loved to use a thesaurus today.

Ruth is an excellent example. In the first chapter, the Hebrew word “shub,” which means “return,” is in the first chapter 10 times. Now, when translated, the word “return” is not always there, so it makes it more challenging to pick up the pattern. Try to also look for concepts as well as specif words.

Ruth Chapter 1:

6 When she heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there.

7 With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.

8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go back, each of you, to your mother's home. May the LORD show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me.

10 and said to her, "We will go back with you to your people."

11 But Naomi said, "Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons-

15 "Look," said Naomi, "your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her."

21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me."

22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

As you can see, the concept of returning is very strong in this first chapter. Therefore, we know the that returning is a strong theme in the book of Ruth.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Word Patterns

When you're studying the Bible, it's good to have a few tools to help you understand the meaning, or point of the passage. One of these helpful tools is too look for patterns. If a phrase or word is repeated, it is important. For example, look at Psalms 150: The word "Praise" is repeated. In six verses, the word "praise" in there 13 times. The word praise is apparently important.

Sometimes it can be trickier to find the patterns. In today's world, we are taught not to repeat words, but to use a thesaurus. Sometimes, the translator doesn't like to use the same word over and over, so he turns to his thesaurus. In the example above, instead of using the word "praise" every time, he might also use "respect" "worship" "extol", etc. All though it may be easier to read, it will be harder to find the word patterns. We’ll look at an example from the book of Ruth tomorrow.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


The word “but” has an interesting meaning:

  • on the contrary; yet: My brother went, but I did not.
  • unless; if not; except that: Nothing would do but that I should come in.

When we are in prayer, it is very easy to use the word “but.”
“But God, I don’t want to do that.”
“Yeah, but what about so-and-so?”

When we are talking to God, this is the wrong way to use the word “but.” However, when we share our testimony, the word should come up often:
“Things were out of control, but God was in control.”
“I was wounded, but God healed me.”
“I didn’t know what to do, but God guided me.”

When talking to God, we shouldn’t say “but.” When we are talking about God, we should always say “but.”

How often do we use the word “but” in the wrong conversation!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Prayer Requests

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Life has been moving very quickly. I thought I should let you know what I’m doing this fall so you could be praying for me.

I am a full time college student at Morgan Community College. I am studying for a multimedia/teaching degree.

I am trying to start a weekly high school worldview class at my church.

I am coaching a Bible Quiz team this year.

Thanks for your prayers!