Psalm 8:3-9 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the
moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful
of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a
little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou
madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all
things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the
field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever
passeth through the paths of the seas. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy
name in all the earth!
Such an arresting passage. Psalm 8:3 is read often and strikes images of nature and the world around us that God has bestowed, of providence in general. Obviously the the whole passage is a set, a paragraph if you will. But, Psalm 8:5 can give rise to questions. First in my mind, is the ranking system, lower than angels, yet above the animals as Genesis even concurs, rulers over the animal and plant kingdom, to subdue or rule over them. This part I question because of the "why?" Why does God choose to rank us so, which must be what David is thinking here. The second question is the crowned with glory and honour part. But, this leaves me with a "how" question. How so Lord? How are we crowned with glory and honour? We seem mightily plain and ordinary to me. But, that is the lesson in the passage of course. David sees what we can often fail to see. He sees how God has hand crafted us and how we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" by God. Psalm 139:14 He sees the care in the workmanship of the Potter and the position in the ranking over creation. Oh, to have eyes like David.
The Nursery Rhymes we teach our children have their roots in history, and often refer to a gruesome and rude history. Humpty Dumpty, has a history in an English Civil War battle siege. The word Humpty Dumpty was used to refer to a "fat" person in the 17th Century. During the Siege of Colchester in 1648, the Royalists were laid siege to by the Parliamentarians (Roundheads). There was a wall around the heavily fortified city and the Royalists placed a huge cannon on top of the wall, which was fired by a man called "one-eyed Jack Thompson."
A shot from a Parliamentary cannon blew the wall beneath Humpty Dumpty to pieces,which caused the cannon to tumble to the ground. The Royalists, or Cavaliers, 'all the King's men'
attempted to raise Humpty Dumpty on to another part of the wall. However, because the cannon, or Humpty Dumpty, was so heavy ' All the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty together again!' So, the Royalists lost the town of Colchester to the Parliamentarians after a siege lasting eleven weeks. The nursery rhyme is a gleeful song about a battle victory.
Another nursery rhyme, Jack & Jill, is a bit more gruesome, and here is your chance to opt out of the telling of the actual historical event, and just say goodnight. But, if you care to hear the tale; Jack and Jill are said to be King Louis XVI of France- Jack -who was beheaded (lost his crown) followed by his Queen Marie Antoinette - Gill - (who came tumbling after). Jill is a common misspelling because the rhyme was handed down by word of mouth for generations.
Yes, what is more gruesome is the act of grabbing the severed head by the hair and holding it up before the crowd, which is actually done to allow the head to see the crowd, and his own body, and not the other way around. It is a fact that consciousness remains for at least eight seconds after beheading until lack of oxygen causes unconsciousness and eventually death. Before you think this a bit gruesome for a child's rhyme, remember the Bible story of David and Goliath.
Goliath was from a family of giants. 2 Samuel 21:16. His sons later attempted to kill David in battle, but failed because the aged David was assisted and protected. But, remember how David slew Goliath, chopped his head off, and held it up before the Philistines? That was to further allow the giant to see the Hebrews running on him, an "in your face" exultation of victory over the giant by God's people.
Death and battle are indeed hard subjects, and especially for children's tales. But, they are the subject of tales the world wide. I am continually amazed at the way little boys, who often feel so weak, love to hear how brave David, who was just a small young man, killed a giant. It gives them such a sense of empowerment. I think it appeals even more to children who are familiar with danger and threat, fear. They know that this can be a cruel world, and do not wish to be lulled to sleep with fantasies of safety, but rather long for some power to defeat their foes. Such is the reason for the success of books like Harry Potter.
Such it is with the subject of salvation today. Many times, people don't want to hear that they have "fallen" from God. Thery don't want to hear of sin and death. They believe they are safe. To come to God, we have to admit sin and choose repentance, to turn from sin, and we have to accept the death of Christ to atone for our sins. Otherwise, we can have no part with Jesus Christ. That's just the facts. But, if you turn to Jesus, He can piece your life back together. That is no nursery rhyme. John 3:16-17
2 Samuel 1:14
I listened to the books of Judges, Ruth, and 1 & 2nd Samuel today, which is a great way to follow the big picture, with sweeping picture of the lives of individual characters. For example, I saw the birth, ministry, and death of Samuel. But, this verse at the beginning of 2nd Samuel caught my attention because I was reminded of the passage earlier today when David could have killed Saul himself, and declined to do so, for the distaste of touching God's annointed.
Later in 2nd Samuel 11, David himself has an honest and valient man of the Lord killed to cover up for his act of adultry. God punishes him, not for the adultry, but for the blood of Uriah. This seems like such an inconsistency in the life of a man who was after God's own heart, but such are we at best... inconsistant. Why do we marvel at the fact that we or our neighbors are inconsistent? What is it that we are looking at, if not the blood of Christ, and yet another need for the blood shed on Calvary?
Such ranges in character are common for all of us, even Christians. The important lesson is in David's repentance and seeking of God's face. Note that God was displeased, David and Bathsheba's love child was struck with a sickness and died. Some of David's most beautiful words are present when we see the death of this son, and of his son Absalom later.
Yes, inconsistencies are part of the path. It is a straight and narrow path we walk, but our feet are prone to struggle to hold to that path.
If you are interested, give these questions about the "three kings" of the unified nation of Israel a try.
1. Why did God give Israel a king at the time He did?
2. Was it God’s intention for them to ever have a king?
3. How did Saul qualify to be king?
4. What caused Saul to lose his kingdom?
5.How was Saul constantly humiliated?
6. How was David different from Saul?
7. Why was Saul jealous of David?
8. What was David’s great desire, and when did it come to pass?
9. What books authored by Solomon reveal the downward progression in his life? Put them in order.
10. How many Proverbs and songs did Solomon write?
My answers to these thought questions are below. (Possibilities vary.)
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God is the God of the Universe. He has made all things. He orders the laws of physics, mathematics, and all that we know is eclipsed by the surplus of His knowledge of this created world that we yet do not know. Some things in
Scripture stand out more readily than others. Some stories capture the attention of the casual reader, like dear sweet Jochebed and brave, heroic David. It's easy to see why children can become enchanted with the stories of the Bible. But, there is so much more in the Bible that remains unnoticed by casual reading. Bible reading becomes almost intoxicating when you dig deeper. It seems like the more you know, the more you have to dig to get a better taste. Like the harder drugs or alcohol bring a greater sense of euphoria. Or, so I've been told, as I have never experimented with even gateway drugs. So, just ignore any idotic thing I may inadvertantly say about drug usage, seeing that I am not well versed on that subject, and didn't really listen in Health class.
In the book of Numbers is an exciting story of redemption and desire, possession, and purchase. So, you think I'm lying now? The title is very misleading. Actually it is probably the most boring meaningless title for a book isn't it? Let me show you the real story. God gave birth to the nation of Israel in Genesis, the book of beginnings.
In Exodus, the child Israel grew in bondage, like Joseph. God delivered His children from bondage in a mighty act of deliverance that took a series of plagues against Egypt to effect. The last of those plagues was the death of the
firstborn of all Egypt. Now, this would have convinced the hardest hearts to listen to Moses, to lose your firstborn child. But, those who were under the blood were saved. From that day of God's deliverance from bondage, God declared to Moses that all the firstborn of Israel would belong to Him, seeing that He had saved their lives from the plague of death.
You've heard stories where a person saved another person's life, and the saved man felt he owed his life of service to the man who saved him. That is exactly the case with Christians, and with the firstborn Israelites. But, the day comes, after the Israelites are in the wilderness and ready to move towards possession of the promised land, when God organizes the little band of men into a nation. Moses takes a census of the men of war above the age of 20 in Numbers 1, but doesn't count the Levites. God says the Levites will now be His to use as priests, instead of the firstborn of every family. Numbers 3:12,13.
Of course, God knows how to make a trade. He also keeps count of what belongs to Him. The firstborn were already his. He ordered Moses to count the firstborn, and a total of 22,273 is reported. Then God orders a count of the Levites, every male above one month of age. That's interesting. God only counted the men of war above the age of 20. But, when He was counting His own of the Levites, He counted even the babies. We all belong to God regardless of age.
But, back to the counting. I was totaling the numbers in the margin of my Bible as I read, when I first read this story several years ago. The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. Gershon's family numbered 7,500. Kohath's family was counted at 8,600, and Merari's family totaled 6,200 males. I totaled that to get 22,300. When I finished reading the counting...after I had already added... Numbers 3:39 gave the total as 22,000.
Notice that that number is different from the number of the total of the individual families. This could be due to several factors. I call the number recorded in verse 39, the "Total accepted Levitical count" because that was the
number accepted and recorded by Moses, Aaron, and God. The other 300 were not accepted in the number for some reason. It could be perhaps, that the firstborn Levites were excluded so that they would not be counted twice. Or those 300 may have been on "disability" for some reason or other. We know that God said the Levites with a handicap were not to be put to work in the temple, but were to be fed...God's disability plan for priests...they can eat without working. Leviticus 21:22. Regardless, they were not part of the accepted count.
Look back at the total number of the firstborn, 22,273. Without the 300 that were not accepted, God will be losing a total of 273 souls in the trade. They want to do the right thing by the God of the Universe when they calculate their gift. So, God tells Moses to set the redemption price at 5 shekels apiece for the 273 firstborn that are not replaced by acceptable Levites. This totals 1,365 shekels to be paid to God's treasury by the Israelites. Now, God has a tabernacle, priests, and a treasury.
It is noteworthy that 5 shekels, the redemption gift of a firstborn child, was a small amount, and was
equal to the amount that Joseph was sold into slavery for by his brothers in Genesis. And, Scientists calculate the worth of all our basic elements in any given human body to be about $4.70. So, don't think God is devaluing us. He is giving us a higher market value at the value of five silver dollars today. So, go ahead and sell out to God, since the world won't give you what Jesus did on the cross.
The part that grabbed my heart was the fact that God desired ownership of the Levites, and he didn't want them counted along with the rest of the Israelites, because they were his. Possessed, owned by God Almighty. But, he did not forget that these firstborn were His. These things were done as a type of Redemption at the cross.
Today, God has purchased and redeemed us off the slave market of sin. We belong to the God of the Universe. He paid a price for us in blood. He knows who is His. He counts us everyone. He talks about this ownership throughout Scripture. And, in the end, He will take us to Himself. Revelation 21:3.
We are instructed to care for the possession of God, which he purchased with his blood. Acts 20:28. Don't think you are not an overseer. Regardless of your position in church, somebody is watching you. Remember when we have baby dedications in church, the church is pledging to be an example in front of the child of a Christian, and not become a stumbling block before him as he is raised before God. Just like the parents are responsible for his upbringing, so are the fellow church members responsible for the example of Christianity that they show this child.
I think it is remarkable the way God seems to be jealous of His own people. Exodus 34:14. Romans 14:8. When one is lost, God will not rest seeking him. Luke 15;7.
Psalms 11:1-7 In the LORD put I my trust: how say you to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may secretly shoot at the upright in heart. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids test, the children of men. The LORD tests the righteous: but the wicked and him that loves violence his soul hates. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous LORD loves righteousness; his countenance does behold the upright.
It is easy to notice that David seems to think of himself like a bird. But, not just any old bird. He compared himself first, to an eagle in Psalm 103:5, "My youth is renewed like the eagle's;" once to an owl in Ps 102:6, "I am like an owl in the desert;" and to a pelican, in the same verse, "Like a pelican in the wilderness;" another time to a sparrow Ps 102:7, "I watch, and am as a sparrow;" once to a partridge, "As when one doth hunt a partridge." He would like to be like a dove in Ps 55:6, "O that I had the wings of a dove, for then I would flee away and be at rest."
David, like all of us, sees himself differently in different situations, yet always having wings.
When things were going well and he was on top of the situation, he felt like an eagle. When things were going against him and his resources seemed dried up, he felt like an owl in the desert. When he was heartbroken, he compared himself to a pelican. (Note-the New King James says vulture, but the Greek word is defined as a pelican. Both are birds with wings, no less, and they both wander in the wilderness.) Or, he felt as lonely as a sparrow alone on the rooftop. Worst of all, he sometimes felt hunted for sport, like a partridge.
David often used this metaphor of a bird, and it seems fitting. A bird is going to fly whenever any of these problems present themselves. We as Christians can also fly. But, looking at Psalm 11, it appears that David resents being given the advice to flee, like a bird. His friends and enemies know he can very well escape to the hills, to his hideouts there. The young shepherd boy, David, is most comfortable in the wilderness with nature all around him anyways. The very metaphor which David so often used on himself, his enemies in the first verse of this Psalm used on him.
Whether the reason for David being given advice to flee was the impending attack in Saul's court, or later after the massacre of the Priests by Doeg, or later when Saul was pursuing him in the woods, David always eluded Saul. So, it is obvious David did indeed flee, and that would have been his intention from the start. It looks as if his enemies are taunting him here by accusing him of being a scared little bird hopping from hilltop to hilltop. Birds are skittish. They have excellent eyesight, and strong wings. They see trouble coming and fly quickly to safety. But, they are skittish because they are small and fragile. Yet, David didn't like the reference here. He protested because He knew he wasn't running in fear, but running to the safety aforded by God, and God is our mountain. What else did they think David was going to do? Stay and be killed by Saul. That seems to be what enemies often expect from us, to stand still and wait for destruction. No, God's children are instructed to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. Turn the other cheek doesn't mean to be foolish.
Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of
wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Indeed, if the foundations of government and justice are destroyed, what else can the righteous do but run to God? David knows this. A Christian does not have to be afraid to turn away from bad situations, abuse, crippling loss, or injustice. God provides shelter, and he gave us our wings to fly to Him. Go ahead David, fly to your God!
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament
shows his handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows
knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the
world. In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom
coming out of his chamber, and rejoices as a strong man to run a race. Its going
forth is from the end of the heaven, and its circuit unto the ends of it: and
there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of
the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening
the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments
of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be
desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey
and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is your servant warned: and in keeping of
them there is great reward.
Who can understand his errors? cleanse me from
secret faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not
have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent of great
transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be
acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
God has two books: Creation and Scripture. David studied both. He often compared and contrasted the two volumes in his psalms, revealing the excellent nature of God from both. The book of Creation will never contradict the book of Genesis, nor Genesis the book of Creation, for my Father wrote both of them. This Psalm expresses with 14 verses, what I have tried to express in my blogs; that Creation shows God's glory, that the Scriptures show God's glory, and that our personal relationship and communication with God shows God's glory. Some of what I write never gets posted, of course. And, I have several unfinished blogs in the not quite ready for prime time category. I read and think about some chapters and psalms and then never get them written at all, only thinking I have written them down. In all of the showing and telling, as David was showing and telling in this Psalm, it may happen that I tell you the same thing twice. So, if I have been here and wrote that, I hope you can still see the beauty of each passage of Scripture.
Charles Spurgeon said that even the sun shines in light borrowed from the Father of Lights.
"Thou sun, of this great world both eye and soul, Acknowledge Him thy greater; sound His praise both when thou climb'st, and when high noon hast gained, and when thou fall'st.
In my personal search for meaning, for beauty, for reason, I find Jesus, who I can not see in flesh, but I see His face imprinted in Creation and Scripture. It is our interaction with and knowledge of the Words and Works of Jesus that form the foundation of our relationship with Him.
David was a shepherd boy, and spent days and nights in the field, watching the sheep, and the heavens. Psalm 18 was probably written on one of those nights, and Psalm 19 must have been penned on one of those sunny days. In the first six verses above, David is talking about Creation; the Works of God. In the middle portion he is talking about Scripture; the Words of God. The last section is David's prayer to God...communion. It is not yet possible for me to see God, yet He makes Himself visible in his Words and Works.
"Therein our fingers feel, our nostrils smell, our palates taste his virtues that excel, He shows Him to our eyes, talks to our ears, in the ordered motion of the spangled spheres." -Du Bartas
Or, as David said... the heavens are telling the glory of God, the sky showing the work of his hands; today speaks to tomorrow, tonight calls out to tomorrow night. And they are all talking about God's glory. (My paraphrase)
Job 36:3 I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe
righteousness to my Maker. (old KJV this time)
Isn't that what I am here for, to write about the righteousness of my Maker?
Exodus 2:1-2 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bore a son: and when she saw him that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.
God Bless Jochebed! Oh the love of a mother's heart! (We find her name in Numbers 26 by the way.) Giving birth to a child, though not a unique event, just happens to be one of the most meaningful events in a woman's life... to her. Yes, every mother has a child...but, this was her child. No government mandate would stop a mother's love from pounding in her heart. You have to wonder what she was thinking. Breaking the law is really stupid, you know. She was a criminal! She hid a child the government ordered executed. Picture this poor girl, for she had to be still young, with a smile on her face as she held this chubby little baby. Now, she already had a boy and a girl, older children. But, something in her heart refused to reject this child. To look at this silly laughing baby and know she would defy the law to keep him, was easy to understand, if you are a mother.
Other Hebrew women had seen their children killed. They suffered the grief. They cried and screamed as the child was torn from their arms to be dashed to pieces. Who did Jochebed think she was to hide her baby? Did she think her baby was so special? She had to have suffered the pains of childbirth in silence, without even calling for a midwife. Maybe her husband did the unthinkable and delivered the child himself. I can hear Jochebed crying, grabbing her husband by the arm and pleading that he not call a midwife, because they would kill her child. No, she must deliver this child in silence and hide him today.
The verse says she saw he was a "goodly" child, probably meaning pretty, or cute. Loveable. But, that describes most every mother's baby, does it not. What made her baby so special? Well, there you have the difference in the saved and the lost.They both know they are lost. But, the Christian decides that regardless of how little they deserve salvation, they want it. The Lost accept that they don't deserve salvation. They won't take it. The Saved found themselves at a place where they would not be denied heaven at any price.
Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.
Lawbreaker! Just who do you think you are Jochebed? Do you think your baby is so special? We find later that this baby had a speech problem, Moses. But, God spoke from the mouth of Moses. God can speak from a rock. God has spoke in various times and in various ways, you know. (Hebrews 1:1) It doesn't really matter who you are, because God is the one speaking. Dear Jochebed, God will speak. Go ahead. Step out on faith and hide God's promise. Lay little baby Moses down in the bulrushes, and watch God bring him up out of Egypt.
In this story you see a mother who had no idea, no plan. She was just taking it one day at a time. She only knew she could not allow this good baby to be killed. Each day she hid him, not knowing what else to do. Finally, she knew she could hide him no longer. She had to have a plan. Oh, but God already had a plan waiting for her. Moses would not only be saved, but he would become the salvation of his people. Jochebed couldn't have realized that this had been God's decision all along. Here she thought she wanted her baby to live, and all along it was God's child. God put that love in her heart for a reason. God would not only sustain the child, but He would make a way of escape, when Jochebed's resources were depleted.
And, to think, God lets us have a part in His plan...when we will ask for His will. He could do it without our help. But, God chose to use Jochebed and her "good" child. Afterall, God used David and a rock. He could have killed the giant with just the rock. But, David chose to get involved in God's will. David hooked his sling up to God's rock. Just who did he think he was?! Still wet behind the ears, and you think you're going to fight a giant? Sit down boy!
You see, the problem was that the other men had been there working all the time. David had not been on the battlefield, serving in the war. They saw him as coming fresh out of Father's protecting arms, to criticize their work. Had David seen war, they might ask? Where had David been while they were faithfully serving the country? Here he was catering lunch. But, David had been serving in the sheep fields of his Father. He was working elsewhere. A job is a job, is it not, when you are in the employ of Dear Old Dad. Somebody has to watch the family business. They must have wondered who David thought he was.
I never read what becomes of Dear Old Dad and Mom (David's Dad Jessie and Moses' Mom Jochebed.) But, Moses delivered a nation from bondage. David became King of Israel, and his son after him, and Jesus will one day sit on his throne. Imagine, being part of such a great big plan! That's where we find ourselves...right in the middle of God's glorious Kingdom!