Category Archives: Wednesday

Psalm 119:113-120 Samekh – Prop, Support

Psalm 119
113 I hate double-minded people, but I love your law.
114 You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
115 Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!
116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.
117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees.
118 You reject all who stray from your decrees, for their delusions come to nothing.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross; therefore I love your statutes.
120 My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.

Right >§§§> Left

I love your law but I hate double-minded people.  I have put my hope in your word; you are my refuge and my shield.  May the commands of my God keep me away from you evildoers.  According to your promise, I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.  Sustain me, my God. I will always have regard for your decrees.  Uphold me and I will be delivered.  Their delusions come to nothing.  You reject all who stray from your decrees.  I love your statutes, all the wicked of the earth you discard like dross.  I stand in awe of your laws, my flesh trembles in fear of you.

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Props and supports are for the crippled.  Sometimes things have been broken so badly only medical traction can help. “Medical traction is the use of a pulling force to treat muscle and skeleton disorders. Traction is usually applied to the arms and legs, the neck, the backbone, or the pelvis. It is used to treat fractures, dislocations, and long-duration muscle spasms, and to prevent or correct deformities.”

This prayer the Psalmist wrote centuries ago sounds way too familiar to the reality of life at this moment doesn’t it?  I’m looking for the “ס Samekh” he’s revealed that can support and prop us up against double-minded people, evildoers, dashed hopes, delusions and the wicked of the earth…today.  Right now our nation is badly crippled by political violence, racial unrest and a pandemic raging around the world.  In one small word, “ס Samekh,” the revelation of God has shown the Psalmist the law is more than a pair of crutches or a wheelchair.  God’s law is spiritual traction for a broken body.  

The Psalmist has told us the love of God’s law is a force that can pull the muscle of the heart back into order.  He’s recorded what God taught him through the law.  God is a refuge and shield that can correct the skeletal disorders of a body fractured, dislocated and having spasms that will surely lead to permanent deformity.  We are a body in need of spiritual traction.

God’s law is the spiritual traction necessary to sustain us and yet we are unable to set it up for ourself.  Jesus is the “promise” of God [v116] and the fulfillment of His law.   He is God’s “ס Samekh” that will provide the spiritual traction God has prescribed for the complete healing of His body in the midst of double-minded people, evildoers, dashed hopes, delusions and the wicked of the earth.  Amen

Psalm 119:81-88 כ Kaph – Bend, Open, Allow, Tame

Psalm 119
81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.
82 My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, “When will you comfort me?”
83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your decrees.
84 How long must your servant wait?  When will you punish my persecutors?
85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me, contrary to your law.
86 All your commands are trustworthy; help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.
87 They almost wiped me from the earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88 In your unfailing love preserve my life, that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.  [NIV]

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A different plan for reading backwards, writing & praying today:

I have put my hope in your word, my soul faints with longing for your salvation.  When will you comfort me?  My eyes fail looking for your promise.  I do not forget your decrees though I am like a wineskin in the smoke.  When will you punish my persecutors?  How long must your servant wait?  Contrary to your law, the arrogant dig pits to trap me.  I am being persecuted without cause.  Help me.  Your commands are trustworthy.  I have not forsaken your precepts but they almost wiped me from the earth. The statutes of your mouth in your unfailing love, preserve my life that I may obey them. [Amen]

The most intriguing phrase in this part of Psalm 119 was “I am like a wineskin in the smoke.” The wineskin was vital to carrying the wine from place to place in ancient times but eventually it deteriorated as it was exposed to the smoke from fires of life inside a tent. There are many meanings of that phrase, and Kaph, but John Piper gets credit for an idea I thought worth passing on that relates the phrase to Kaph.  Kaph is the open hand of God that can “tame” and “open” the life of one who will “bend” to His will. The wine is the Gospel.  The fragile “wineskin” of life is what God has given us to carry His Gospel from place to place. That opportunity won’t last forever.

Psalm 119:65-72 ט Teth – Serpent, Snake

Psalm 119
65 Do good to your servant according to your word, Lord.
66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.
68 You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.
69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart.
70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees
72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

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There is a “before and after” story here in Teth that relates to affliction; where it comes from and how does it relate to a serpent/snake?  Teth is a not-so-subtle reminder of an old “before” story; there really was a serpent hiding in the garden whose purpose was to call into question the absolute truth God had spoken.  Affliction might be the mask of temptation that serpent wears today as he repeats his original question asked long before the Psalmist wrote: “did God really say…?”   

The Psalmist’s words are obviously written to let God know he’s aware there has been a “before and after” in his life.  “Before” I was afflicted I went astray…The “after” is “It was good for me to be afflicted…so that I might learn your decrees…but now I obey your word.”  The Psalmist has shown us the imagery of an “after” we can recognize.  God has built a house [us] and filled it with light [the Word], protected by a strong door [Jesus]and a hedge [the Holy Spirit] around it.  A place where affliction and even the possibility of a serpent hiding in the garden no longer has the power to silence the absolute truth of what God really did say.

Psalm 119:49-56 ז Zayin – Weapon

Today the section title of Psalm 119 is ז Zayin – Weapon.
49 Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.
51 The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.
52 When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord.
53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law
54 Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.
55 I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law.
56 This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts. ESV

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It’s two days before Christmas and “ז Zayin – Weapon” definitely is NOT where my heart wants to be.  I want Bethlehem, a Holy baby and love, not weapons.  Mankind has provided plenty of weapons for both defense and offense and plenty of desire to use them.  Despite my reaction to it’s title, this section brims with testimony of God actively arming His people with a different kind of “weapons” to protect and defend their minds as well as their eyes and hearts long before the birth of Christ.  My challenge is to a) read and write the verse backwards as I have been doing and b) to look for evidence in them of God’s determined revelation of Himself that we celebrate this Advent, 2020.  

For my own clarification about laws and weapons:
law is the system of rules enforced by the authority with the intention of regulating human behavior for the common good.
statute is a legal document that declares a specific law, expressed in writing.
A precept is a rule dictating a way you should act or behave.

49 You have made me hope as you remind me of your Word.
God has reminded me through the birth of Christ of His own hope for His own creation through His own determination to place Himself in the midst of our world as a way to protect and defend our lives.

50 Your promise comforts my affliction and gives me life. 
Jesus is God’s promise of comfort revealed in human form as a newborn that Luke 2 reminds us “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” to redeem the sins of my afflictions with His love.

52 O Lord, I take comfort when I think of your rules from of old.
I don’t always feel comforted by rules but I do recognize they are a hedge of restraint around me until I come “to my senses.”   Jesus was the “Door” opened to new freedom to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

53 The wicked who forsake your law cause hot indignation to seize me.
The first Law of God to regulate human behavior is to love Him.  Hot indignation rarely affects the wicked but it’s certainly the fire that can destroy the ability to love. 

54  In this house where I sojourn your statues are my songs.
Our sojourn is the brief span of life we’re given by God for the express purpose learning the words and the music of God’s love song for us, Jesus the Christ.

55 I keep your law O Lord, and remember your name in the night.
I remember that little town of Bethlehem.  I remember the circumstances of life where your answer to regulating human behavior for the common good was revealed in Law of Love, Jesus, born in the likeness of man.

56 I have kept your precepts and this blessing has fallen on me.
I have pledged to let your Law of Love dictate my actions and behavior.  The blessing that has fallen on me this Advent, 2020 is that “God With Us,” is the Law of Love you’ve given to protect and defend my life here and now and forever.

Psalm 119: 41- 48 ו Waw – Hook, Nail, Peg

Psalm 119:41-48 ו Waw – Hook, Nail, Peg
41 May your UNFAILING LOVE come to me, Lord, your salvation, according to your promise;”
42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I TRUST in your word.
43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my HOPE in your laws.
44 I will always OBEY your law, for ever and ever.
45 I will walk about in freedom, for I have SOUGHT out your precepts.
46 I will SPEAK of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame,
47 for I delight in your commands because I LOVE them.
48 I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may MEDITATE on your decrees. [NIV]

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The mysterious Hebrew headings of Psalm 119 have been like directions from the plans of an Architect for a structure being built.  They each tell a backstory of the words that follow them.  Reading verses 41-48 right to left seems to personalize how these special “nails” secure the previous walls, doors and windows of the promised, personal shelter being built for God’s people…their salvation.

41 Your salvation Lord is according to your promise of UNFAILING LOVE to me
42 I TRUST in your word, I can answer anyone who taunts me
43 I HOPE in your laws, you never take your word of truth from my mouth
44 Forever and ever I will OBEY your law always
45 I have SOUGHT out your precepts, I will walk about in freedom
46 I will not be put to shame when I SPEAK of your statutes before kings
47 Your commands are my delight because I LOVE them
48 I MEDITATE on your decrees, I will reach out with love for your commands

Psalm 119:33-40 ה He – Window

Reading these verses forwards, and then backwards and pondering their meaning continues.  It seems like all of Psalm 119 has been about the building of the temple within the people of God; you and I.  Today seems a perfect time for to punch a hole in the walls that we depend on for protection to let in a little more light using the Hebrew “ה He.”  I haven’t missed the “coincidence” that God has used winter darkness, a raging pandemic and the period of Advent to do just that.

ה He – Window, Lattice
Psalm 119: 33-40 ESV
33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
35 Lead me in the path of your commandment for I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
38 Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared.
39 Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good.
40 Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

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33 I will keep the way of your statures to the end, O Lord; teach me
34 I keep your law and observe it with my whole heart because you give me understanding
35 I delight in the path of your commandment, lead me to it
36 Your testimonies, not Selfish gain, inclines my heart
37 Give me life in your ways and turn my eyes from looking at worthless things
38 Your promise confirms that you may be feared to your servant
39 Your rules are good for they turn away the reproach that I dread
40 Your righteousness gives me life! Behold I long for your precepts

Click here to read a previous post about the meaning of ה He – Window

Psalm 119:25-32 – ד Daleth – Door

Psalm 119:25-32
25 My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
26 When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
29 Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.
31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame!
32 I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!

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God’s Word has survived all these centuries because it’s more than information. Psalm 119, Daleth – Door is truth beyond time, translation, and even survives reading these eight verses right to left.  My hope is that after you’ve read the eight verses above as copied from the English Standard Version you’ll read my right to left versions with the “Door”  in mind.  Daleth is the Old Testament Word of God that opens the “Door” to our communication with Him through our relationship to Jesus.  “Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.”  

O Lord,
25 Give me life according to your word, dust clings to my soul
26 You answered me with your statutes to teach me your ways when I told of my ways
27 I will meditate on your wondrous works to make me understand the way of your precepts
28 Your word strengthens me when my soul melts away for sorrow
29 Graciously teach me your law and put false ways far away from from me
30 Your rules set before me are the way of faithfulness I have chosen
|31 Let me not be put to shame O Lord, I cling to your testimonies
32 Enlarge my heart so I will run in the way of your commandments

Click here to read a previous post about ד Daleth – Door

Psalm 119:17-24 – ג Gimel – Soul

Psalm 119:17-24 All 8 verses of each of the 22 sections of this Psalm begin with the next sequential letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  It wasn’t until I decided to visually verify that for myself that I realized Hebrew is read from right to left.  It’s become an interesting truth-finding exercise for me to explore the impact of reading the verses forward and then backward.  The bold verses are directly copied from the ESV version.  Read them as a unit.  Then read and consider the same verses composed by reading them right to left.  God’s Word has endured all these centuries because it’s truth is more than information.  The Word still uses time, translation, and even reading words and phrases right to left, to refresh timeless truth from information into enduring application for followers of Jesus Christ.

Gimel
17 Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.

18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
19 I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!
20 My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.
21 You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments.
22 Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies.
23 Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.
24 Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.

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17 I live and keep your word because you deal bountifully with your servant
18 Out of your law my eyes may behold wondrous things
19 Do not hide your commandments from me while I am a sojourner on the earth
20 Longing for your rules at all times consumes my soul
21 Your commandments rebuke those insolent, accursed ones who wander from  them
22 I have kept your testimonies, take scorn and contempt away from me
23 Your servant will meditate on your statutes even though princes sit plotting against me.
24 My counselors are my delight in your testimonies

This link is to a previous post about Psalm 119:17-24 written from the perspective of the meaning of Gimel – Soul

Psalm 119:1-8 – א Aleph – ox head, yoke, learn

Each of the twenty-two sections of Psalm 119 follows the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. What’s unique is each verse in each section begins with the same Hebrew letter.  It wasn’t until I decided to verify that for myself and found this image that I realized Hebrew is read from right to left. I wondered if the verses from the ESV version might be read as normal and then read again from right to left [sort of] as a way to ponder the fullness of truth works both ways. You decide.

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!
OR 1 The Lord is the law of the walk of those whose way is blameless and are blessed

2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,
OR 2 Whole hearts who keep his testimonies and seek him are blessed
3 who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!
OR 3 who walk in his ways and also do no wrong

4 You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
OR 4 Diligently keeping your precepts is your command
5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
OR 5 Keeping your statutes keeps my ways steadfast

6 Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
OR 6 You fix my eyes on your commandments so I shall not be shamed
7 I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules
OR 7 Your righteous rules are how I learn to praise you with an upright heart

8 I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!
OR 8 Do not utterly forsake me, I WILL keep your or statutes.

The Third Chapter – I John

1 John 3:18-20 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.  21-24 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. MSG

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Here’s your Good News for today: There is a way to practice real love that can help you know you’re’re living truly in God’s reality.  It’s this simple: “Jesus loves me, this I know.”  Say that to yourself.  Do you believe that in the depths of your soul?  “Jesus loves me, this I know” is not the same as self-affirmation.  It’s not a fake-it-’til-you-make-it plan. “Jesus loves me, this I know!” is how God chooses to establish His in-person relationship with you to confirm His love for you. “Jesus loves me, this I know!” is the only truth you need to know to make you a person after God’s own heart.  

God never uses shame and guilt to transform you. It is not God who bedevils you with “debilitating self-criticism…”  “Jesus loves me, this I know!” is how God has chosen to convert that space designed to harm you into a reminder of your need for Him instead. “Jesus loves me, this I know!” is real love that changes guilt and shame, “even when there’s something to it,” into a heart full of thanksgiving and praise for the Grace of God, and that confirms your love for Him. Once that’s taken care of and [you’re] no longer accusing or condemning [yourselves], [you’re] bold and free before God!