OCTOBER 9, 2023
I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
As to why David wrote this psalm and for whom, there is much discussion in rabbinical works. The reason for this diversity of opinion revolves around the phrase seen at the heading of this psalm — “To the Chief Musician. On the Death of the Son.” In Hebrew the last of the phrase is translated from the words, mut (death) l'van (to the son). Some commentators surmise the son in question may have been Absalom, but most conclude that the son referred to is the one born to Bathsheba who died as a seven-day old infant. You will recall this is the child born as a result of David's scandalous and adulterous affair.
Others suggest the word l'van may have another meaning, while remaining connected to the thoughts above. They argue that the Hebrew word l'van should not be translated as “to the son” but as the “to whiten.” The word laban does in fact mean “white” and, therefore, this idea is not to be considered as farfetched. But why would David compose a psalm about being whitened one might ask? That is, in fact, the very thing that connects the two ideas together. In other words, the death of his young son was, in part, a consequence of his sin, meaning that God allowed him to endure a great trial that was engineered to render repentance. God allowed David to go through a great trial, at the end of which, David arose, washed himself and changed his clothes. He realized that God was putting him through the process of repentance and forgiveness. In short, l'van has a double meaning: it was the “death of the son” that caused David to be “whitened.”
Instead of being melancholy and composing a dirge, David went before the LORD with song and with adoration saying, “I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” How many of us could do this under such circumstances? Admittedly, it is difficult to come out of such a distressing situation and immediately burst forth into praise, and yet, David did so, and in so doing, challenges us to do the same. All of us have grappled with remorse over our failures and grief over our losses, still in spite of those how we feel at the moment, it behooves us to praise Him with our whole heart and sing praise to His Name. That might be just the thing to pull us out of our grief and despair.
SEPTEMBER 12, 2023
I will declare the decree: the Lord has said to Me, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
In Jewish commentary, the one being spoken of here — the king who is set upon Mount Zion — is David. When he was crowned king of Israel, one of the first things he did was go to Jerusalem (which was called Jebus), subdue its inhabitants and begin to rule from Mount Zion. Thus, it is understood, at least in some Jewish circles, that the LORD speaks to David saying, “You are My son … I will give you the nations for your inheritance.” Without a doubt, David figured prominently in God's purpose and plan for Israel, nevertheless, we understand that David was a picture (or pattern if you will) that pointed to someone greater — the Son of David, the King Messiah.
It is on His behalf that this decree is issued, and it is to Him that the nations are given as an inheritance. As it is written, “The earth is the LORD's and the fulness thereof,” and consequently, He bequeaths the nations to His Son, the only begotten of the Father. He is the One who, according to the psalmist, “shall break (rule) them with a rod of iron … and dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.” When the nations are compelled to come up to Jerusalem to worship the King at the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16), they will not stand before the shepherd who killed Goliath; they will bow before the Good Shepherd, the One who crushed the Serpent and destroyed the works of the Devil.
All of us who follow the LORD look with great anticipation toward that day as we do consider what His reign means for us. Of course, it means that we will no longer be subject to the inclination of the flesh; we will be changed when we shall see Him as He is. Also in that day, we too will be recognized as sons and daughters of the Most High, and as such, will be given dominion over the nations. Quoting Psalm 2, Messiah promised that those who overcome and remain faithful to the end, will be given “power over the nations… to” rule them with a rod of iron” (Revelation 2:26-27).
Because of Him, we are reborn as the children of God; because He overcame the world, we can as well. Furthermore, just as He received authority to rule the nations from the Father, He will give us authority to do likewise. But here is the key: we must overcome and be faithful even as He was faithful — even unto death. We must do as Messiah admonished us to do, we must continue to watch and pray in this evil day that we might be permitted to stand before the Son of Man, the King Messiah (Luke 21:36).
FEBRUARY 2, 2023
Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. And He will love you and bless you and multiply you.
As Moses continued encouraging the people to safeguard that which had been entrusted to them, he explained to them that there would be a reward for their obedience. The Hebrew word that is translated here as “because” is an interesting one with rich connotations. The word is ekev and can be rendered as “reward” or “result” — that which comes about because of their obedience. In this case, not only would God bestow His love upon them but He would “bless and multiply” the people. Sounds simple enough, however, there is much more to this word that just that.
More literally, the root word akev (ekev) means “heel” or can imply that which is underneath our feet. There are some Jewish commentaries that suggests that, as it is used in this verse, the word ekev hints that no command God has given should be considered as insignificant, or something they would tread on with their “heel.” Man lives by “every word” that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD God. Then, there is this aspect of the word ekev — it can be translated as “end” as in the end of a matter. In this case, if we obey, in the end, we will be blessed and multiply. That thought brings us to our main point.
That which God commands us to do can be summed up in this manner: “Love God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It sounds simple when read aloud but when it comes to putting this into practice, we can get tripped up by the heel. In other words, to fulfill this mandate, it is important that we don't tread underfoot those instructions that might seem insignificant in comparison to others. It is important that we consider the Word of God, with all of its precepts and principles, to be crucial for our spiritual growth and maturity. If we disregard what doesn't seem important to us, we may never accomplish the greater goal. However, if we pay attention to even the smallest matters, as it relates to our overall growth in Messiah, we will reap the rewards and be blessed from above and multiply in this life.
JANUARY 1, 2023
But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
It is interesting and a bit pathetic that, in our human frailty, we often fail to appreciate what is before us. By that I mean, rather than appreciating what we do have, we long for what we think we don't have. Likewise, have you ever met a person who can't seem to enjoy the present because they are too fixated on the past or overly concerned about the future? Far too often, it takes losing what they do have — including their families at times — to shake them from their selfish stupor. Only then do they seem to recognize that they had everything they needed all along.
I will suggest that this is what is hinted at in the verse above. Only when Israel had been exiled from the land of milk and honey and reduced to serving idols of wood and stone would they come to realize that they had exchanged blessings for curses. Nevertheless, God would use this sad state of affairs — in servitude to strangers — to provoke them to “seek the LORD.” Not only would they search for Him, but if they did so wholeheartedly, they would “find” Him. And thus, we are reminded that God is the only One who can take a bad situation and make something good come from it. Moreover, we are reminded of this life-saving principle: if we pursue God, we will not be disappointed. Messiah said:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8).
Whatever our circumstances, even when it is the consequence of our bad choices, God is not so far away that He can't be found. He isn't so far removed that He can't hear us when we call out to Him. The key is to seek His face with everything we have — all our heart, all our soul and all of our strength. He wants us to completely turn our zeal and passion away from our other love interests and focus it all on Him. In short, He wants to see whether we really love Him the way we say that we do. So should we give to Him anything less than our whole heart? To those who may feel as if they are in exile, far away from home, forgotten and lost, remember the words He spoke to errant Israel: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1).
DECEMBER 31, 2022
And the Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you. And there you will serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.
Imagine a scenario in which one member of a marriage has eyes for someone else outside of the marriage. The faithful spouse perceives this and warns the one with the wandering eye to be careful and to stay away from the person they find so alluring. Unfortunately, the one refuses to heed the warning and continues flirting with this other person, falling more deeply into the seduction. Eventually, the faithful spouse has had enough and says to the unfaithful one, “Leave, and go be with the one you really love. But be prepared to deal with the consequences.” In a nutshell, that is what Moses warned would happen if Israel pursued the gods of the land.
In fact, he didn't say “if” this happens but “when” this happens they would go into exile and serve “the works of men's hands, gods of wood and stone.” If they were so enthralled by these “nothing gods,” they would end up serving them in the nations where they were venerated. If their hearts were bound to go after the gods of Babylon, then their bodies would end up in Babylon — in chains. It would seem that this fascination with pleasing the world has not stopped even now. Consider this: the United Nations has never been a friend to Israel, and yet, decade after decade, the nation of Israel seems ready to comply with most anything the UN wishes to hand down — all for the sake of being accepted by the nations.
Here is the reality for God's people: if we are determined to seek out and embrace the values of the world, then eventually, we will be in servitude to the world. To gain acceptance by this world means we must be polluted by the world's values. If that happens, we will end up acting like the world which, in turn, means that we will cease serving our purpose — being a light to the world. And so it is that God uses this scenario to teach His people a valuable lesson which is — it really isn't so bad in our Father's house. Even the servants have it good there.
So if He must, He'll send us away to the embrace our other lovers and, consequently, allow us to lose everything. He'll allow us to experience great suffering to the point that we are reduced to feeding pigs — but all in the hopes that we will come to our senses and return to Him. But here is the good news — it doesn't have to be that way at all; instead, we can determine to be faithful to Him. In reality, anything in this world that would lead us astray has been, in some way, fashioned by the hands of men, meaning it is temporal and not eternal. In short, it is worthless. So let us be careful not to turn away from our Master and thus avoid the pitfalls of this world. Let us keep our eyes fixed on the Author and Finisher of our faith and be the one He calls “Faithful.”
NOVEMBER 27, 2022
On this side of the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain this law.
It has always intrigued me that, as a nation, Israel didn't grow and multiply while in the land of Canaan but always outside of the land, in fact, in the land of their enemies. Likewise, it has always struck me as interesting and important that, through Moses, God gave instructions for living to His people while they wandered through a wilderness. In fact, this book opens with, “These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel … in the wilderness.
The Hebrew word translated as “wilderness” is midbar — spelled with the letters mem, dalet, beit and reish). This same spelling could also be rendered as m’daber – a phrase that means “to speak.” In other words, very often in our life, God chooses to speak to us in an environment that doesn't offer too much luxury and prosperity. To the contrary, it is an environment that puts every man and woman to the test to see whether they possess the spiritual mettle to continue on having only the Word of God to sustain them. Of course, He gave them bread and water for their daily physical needs but that was also intended to teach them about what they need in a spiritual sense — “Man does not live by bread alone….”
How many of us have wondered why it is that God often leads (or prods) us into what seems to be a wilderness experience? Within our hearts we know why it must be, however, it is our flesh that is quick to resist (and sometimes resent) the experience. But the One who knows what is in our best interests guides us into that place and that season whereby we have nothing else to rely upon save Him and His Word to us. As it written, “He made His own people go forth like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock; and He led them on safely, so that they did not fear” (Psalm 78:52-53). So just like Israel of old, we too must traverse the wilderness of life, sustained by His Hand of provision, but ever needful to hear Him speak His Word into depths of our soul.
AUGUST 16, 2022 Numbers 14:27 How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. That is the question isn't it — how long will He bear with those who continually resist and walk contrary to Him? In this section of Scripture, […]
January 23, 2022
Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the Lord had commanded Moses. And with him was Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver and [b]designer, a weaver of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and of fine linen.
Among all the artisans who brought the Sanctuary and its' furnishings into being, these two men, Bezalel and Aholiab, were the principal figures. Being that Bezalel was from the tribe of Judah and Aholiab was from Dan, an interesting concept develops. The tribe of Judah and its camp alway led the nation as they traversed the wilderness. It was the tribe of Dan and its camp that always brought up the rear when the nation was on the move. So then, together, Judah and Dan represent the “first and last.” In the persons of Bezalel and Aholiab, the “first and “last” brought the Tabernacle into existence.
From the very beginning, it is clear that God always has desired to build a “house” in which He could dwell with His people. In fact, in Hebrew, first word of Genesis begins with the Hebrew letter beit, which in name and in form means “a house.” This desire to dwell with His people is then demonstrated initially in the Garden and eventually in the Tabernacle. So then, that these two men, and the fact that they came from these two tribes is not coincidental — their selection by God speaks to something very important. Christ, who is the First and the Last, is the greater manifestation of God's desire to dwell with His people. Paul said:
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:15-17)
Christ, as the First and Last, brought the Creation into existence and it is He who made it possible for you and me to become a new creation. God used Bezalel and Aholiab to construct the Tabernacle and “flesh out” the Creator's desire to build a house. God sent His Son, in the flesh, to bring about the fulfillment of His desire and, accordingly, John said, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us.” Because He did dwell among us, we have the opportunity to commune with the Creator as a Temple of His Spirit with the promise that, one day, we will dwell with Him in a much bigger “house” — the New Jerusalem. So let us remain faithful knowing that what He initiated in our lives, He will bring to its intended fruition because He is the First and the Last, and the Author and Finisher of our faith.
DECEMBER 18, 2021 Exodus 33:11 So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. One of the reasons that Judaism places so much stock in the first five books of the Bible — the Torah — is because of this statement in the Scripture. Prophets were moved upon by the Spirit […]
NOVEMBER 20, 2021
Then you shall kill the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar.
At first glance this instruction seems a bit odd and, for those not inclined to see beyond the surface of things, maybe even bizarre and troubling. Yet, we know that God has a purpose for everything He does and for everything He instructs us to do. First of all, understanding the role of blood in the process of redemption and its necessity for the forgiveness of sins is essential if we are to understand anything about the role of the priests and the Sanctuary itself. Blood is emblematic of life itself and it is through the shedding of blood that the guilt of sin is atoned for.
That something regarded as precious as blood was to be placed upon the priests begs us to consider why it was on placed on their right ear, their right thumb and right big toe. Rabbinical commentary offers an opinion on the matter. Rabbi Raphael Hirsch offered this interpretation: “Through the ear, one hears and understands; through the hand, one acts; through the feet, one moves about. All three are consecrated to show that the Cohen dedicates all his faculties to God's service.”
In other words, as the priests were being inaugurated into service, they were reminded that they were to “hear” what God said and to “do” what God said. Likewise, as representatives of the Messiah, we are consecrated to hear and to do according to His will. Our ears are not to be dull of hearing but are to be sensitive to heed and understand His voice. Our hands and feet must not be polluted with sinful deeds but be dedicated to go and to act according to His will. In short, this ritual was a reminder to them and to us that those who are called to serve the Almighty are to dedicate their entire being to Him without reservation or exception. So then, let us serve Him in the way that He expects and deserves — with all of our heart, soul and strength.
OCTOBER 23, 2021 Exodus 25:32-33 And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lamp stand out of one side, and three branches of the lamp stand out of the other side. Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob […]
MAY 25, 2021 Exodus 13:17 Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” It has been proven that Israel could have […]