Psalm 119 Taw
169 May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word.
170 May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise.
171 May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.
172 May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous.
173 May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation,Lord, and your law gives me delight.
175 Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.
176 I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.
These twenty two sections of Psalm 119 and their relationship to the Hebrew letter the Psalmist chose to “mark” each of them have challenged my thinking from mid November through Advent, Christmas and into this new year, 2021. Transposing sentences has been a way to pay homage to the Hebrew method of reading Right to Left. These last eight “right to left” verses were organized with that in mind but with a twist; writing all the right phrases, one after another, and then stringing all the left phrases together after them. My intent is for them to be read as a whole that gives these important old words a new expression and then consider why the Psalmist marked them with last letter of the Hebrew Aleph-bet, “Taw.”
The image of the ancient letter, Taw, was used like a signature mark to verify the truth of what was said. Taw is pictured by two sticks crossed but I don’t see two sticks. I see a cross! It’s amazing to consider the Psalmist purposefully chose a mark all those centuries ago to verify the truth of his words and become a recognizable sign of the cross, chosen by God, to verify our future. Read on please…
– Psalm 119:169-176 All Right then All Left –
Give me understanding according to your word. Deliver me according to your promise, for you teach me your decrees. All your commands are righteous for I have chosen your precepts. Your law gives me delight and may your laws sustain me. Seek your servant for I have not forgotten your commands. May my cry come before you, Lord; may my supplication come before you. May my lips overflow with praise; may my tongue sing of your word. May your hand be ready to help me. I long for your salvation, Lord. Let me live that I may praise you. I have strayed like a lost sheep.
–––∞ My Thoughts ∞–––
Jesus IS the Word! That’s the understanding of God we need. God’s promise to us lives in Jesus Christ; the way, the truth and the life. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s precepts, laws and commands and He will remove the condemnation of those same laws from those who place their life in Him. Jesus has completed everything God required to sustain us. He is our reminder that the truth we now have can hold us firmly while our lips learn to overflow with praise and our tongues find words to sing the song of salvation for lost sheep; being crucified with Christ. I long for your salvation, Lord. Let me live that I may praise You, glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. 1 Chronicles 29:11 NASB
Dominion and domination are very similar words in construction but neither word is commonly used today. Hearing “dominate” be used in public reporting this last disturbing week was startling. That made the other uncommon word “dominion” stand out when I read it as a Verse of the Day from 1 Chronicles in the same week.
Dominion is a descriptive noun used to identify God’s complete sovereignty and power to partner with His people to protect and preserve His creation. “And God blessed them. “And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28 ESV
Domination is an action verb the Bible uses to indicate an exercise of power. A very simple word sturdya of “domination” resulted in two conclusions: 1)The most important one was it was never God who was dominating and 2) God’s displeasure at Israel’s opposition to His dominion was clear and the natural consequence of their rebellion was domination.
In some places it’s “domination to, of or by” that represents God’s action to move Israel “to” repentance. In other places the references were “delivered from domination” that represented God’s repeated rescue for Israel “from” those who would destroy them. In all those places the Word reveals the same timeless truth of 1 Chronicles: God is still prepared to respond to repentance and deliver His people from the domination of an enemy.
“Yours is the dominion, O Lord,
and You exalt Yourself as head over all. “
Yet today’s attitudes tend more towards the domination idea. Domination has undertones of manipulation, coercion, and force. Bending the earth to our will, rather than working in a state of collaboration and cooperation. Extracting what we want at the expense of others. Not caring about the broader impacts of our actions…” currentcoach.com
There are only two choices: Dominion or Domination
NIV 2 Peter 1:3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence…5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. 8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
My husband once commented about the oddity of buying yards of pricey fabric and then cutting it up into little pieces and reassembling them to make a quilt. It’s a labor intensive process and undeniably costly…but at the end of that process you have a beautiful and useful work of art to show for it. Reading and pondering this portion of Peter’s words brought to mind that process and this awareness: we have God’s pattern and all the supplies we need to make a very special quilt. “God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” – yards and yards of the beautiful fabric of His Word.
Living a Godly life is a process just as making a quilt is. Even two quilts made from the very same pattern by two different people will look very different. Peter’s words aren’t a list of clever steps you can tick off as they’re accomplished. They are like pieces of a quilt that require choices to be made as you’re collecting, selecting, arranging and piecing together what often seems like odd, unrelated and even crazy combinations of fabric. Peter’s words describe the pattern God has given to help each of us create a uniquely designed quilt that becomes the beautiful and useful work of art that is our inheritance of faith.
“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises.” Follow God’s pattern and Peter’s list; choose, collect, select, arrange and piece together your personal quilt from this fabric of words God has provided for you. “The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”…and your inheritance will become a beautiful quilt of worship.
-Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
-Matthew 22:37 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
-Luke 10:27…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, Love your neighbor as yourself.
These three New Testament Scripture passages all quote Jesus speaking words that would have been familiar to his Jewish hearers, the Shema. They’re words still used repeatedly in Jewish prayers. They all include loving God with your heart and soul which seems obvious. The inclusion of mind and/or strength is the variant that got my attention. I understand the access to mind and strength more than I do heart and soul.
This is the age-old debate: Is it strength of commitment or the exercise of the mind that fills the heart and soul? How do we figure out what’s required of us to prove our sincerity? It would seem even these Bible authors had their own opinion on that. Mind and strength? Mind? Strength? Do I have to choose one or the other?
Hillel was a famous religious leader in Jewish history. He was asked to recite the whole law for a dedicated student who would prove his sincerity and his physical strength by listening to it all while standing on one leg. That’s a funny mind picture isn’t it? Hillel’s short answer was probably pretty welcome to him; “What thou hatest for thyself, do not to thy neighbour. This is the whole law, the rest is commentary. Go and learn.”
This is the whole law…“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” Now go find a comfortable spot, read, study and think. God will begin to write his whole commentary in your mind and on your heart to strengthen your soul
Jeremiah 18:1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 5b…“Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand…
I took a pottery class once. It’s not as easy as it may look to take an unwieldy lump of clay and make something out of it. This Scripture is a perfect analogy of life experienced with God as he reshapes us. If he can’t open your eyes through his Word he’ll get the message to you some other way. God sometimes uses funny ways I call his humor to point out the difference between what appears to be and what actually is in the life of those he loves. We can react to them in shame [which is not God’s choice] OR choose to see them as humorous interventions of a potter at work.
I have some carpentry and remodeling skills and had offered to help a friend with a few projects. I arrived early, made a pot of coffee and work was underway when I received a phone call from another friend standing on my own doorstep, reminding me Bible Study was meeting at my house that morning…and where was I? I think that’s kind of a funny situation to find yourself in.
I put the pot of coffee on the floor of our new car to race home. You see where this is going, right? I turned the corner, over went the coffee pot and thru my brain went an unspoken word of profanity. I pulled off the road shaken more by that word than the coffee spill. Sitting there by the side of the road in the mess of my own making and stunned at my own unbidden response, God taught me one of the most important lessons of my life. You don’t get over your desperate need for him and he can use the “funniest” circumstances to remind you to be thankful he loves you enough to remind you of that.
Ah, humility…it comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes a heart is moved by circumstances to act in secret on behalf of God to meet a need. Even in that secret act God’s humor seems to aim at what appears to be and what actually is in my life. We’d been privileged to be a part of meeting such a need. It was a heartfelt act…right up to the point the recipient gave a testimony about what a blessing it had been AND named the responsible person. It’s a heart-cleansing lesson in the humor of humility that reshapes you when the name given is someone else’s!
Humor is one of the tools the Potter uses to point out the difference between what appears to be and than reshapes it into what is in our life. It’s one way he gently accomplishes humility in us because “the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” 🙏😇