Tag Archives: Response

Psalm 119:105-112 נ Nun – Fish, Longevity

Psalm 119 Nun – Fish, Longevity
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.
107 I have suffered much; preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.
108 Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws.
109 Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law.
110 The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts.
111 Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.

 Right >§§§> Left

The light on my path for my feet is the lamp of your word.  I will follow your righteous laws. I have taken an oath and confirmed that.  Preserve my life, Lord, is according to your word.  I have suffered much.  Teach me your laws and accept the willing praise of my mouth.  I will not forget your law though I constantly take my life in my hands.  I have not strayed from your precepts but the wicked have set a snare for me.  The joy of my heart and my heritage forever are your statutes.  My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.

—∞∞∞—

For some time now I’ve been separating the Scripture from my own writing using a typographical sign of the fish [ >§§§> ] so  the meaning of “Nun” didn’t seem unusual.  It’s a familiar image many Christians use to associate themselves with Jesus.  The surprise was to find it hidden here in Psalm 119. 

 The fish symbol was a common pagan symbol long before it was chosen as an identifying mark for Christians. Early believers in Jesus Christ chose the
“fish” because it was a sign that would attract less attention than, say the sign of the cross might, because people were familiar with seeing it.  It became a way to safely identify themselves to one another.  The story is told that when strangers met, the Christian could draw a simple arc in the sand with his toe and wait for the other to respond.  If the other was a Christian, he would respond by drawing the lower arc to form the outline of a fish.  

The “fish” is the surprise set-up for these devotional thoughts.  Did God reveal
נ Nun to the Psalmist king as a mark of a greater KING, yet to come, or was it just a poetic accident?  Was that secret little Hebrew heading written as a familiar signal for generations in the future to respond to, and reveal their own identity? 

This Psalmist king knew the law of God.  He knew it made the path he wanted to follow visible to him.  He knew seeing that path was one thing, but deciding to walk it demanded a way to identify truth and people he could trust.  He knew the writings of the prophets.  He knew life was his training ground with a divine purpose; intimacy with God.  I think he knew the significance of נ Nun – Fish was longevity, that his identity with God would last into our future too.

The Psalmist king has become known throughout history as a “man after God’s own heart.”  He knew his own identity was as sketchy and unreliable as any other human being except for his awareness that God’s truth [aka, the law] had saved and changed him.  The Psalmist knew he could trust God to be just and fair even when his own behavior and words were not.   Long before Jesus fulfilled the law, the Psalmist identified himself completely with the fullness of God revealed in His law, it’s precepts and statutes.  The value that has been ascribed to his heart was that he gave the fullness of it to God without reservation; the very best parts as well as well as the very worst parts.   That was the identification mark the Psalmist king made face to face with God trusting it would be recognized and God’s response would be to complete His identity with him.  >§§§>

The Firsts: 2 Corinthians 1 – Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.  6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.  7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. [NLT]

This passage is remarkable for the number of times some form of the word “comfort” is used in just five verses.  Certainly that’s repeated for emphasis.   The need for comfort is more frequent that we realize and that need doesn’t always look the same.  Sometimes what comfort looks like turns out to be a surprise too.  We know “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort” but when faced with a heart in need it “takes one to know one.” 

Comfort is the presence of one needy heart’s response in humility to the need of another.  It may take the more familiar form of shared scars of experience, love, grace, compassion, Scripture and prayer…OR sometimes it may just take a plate of cookies

Let your heart respond…”when they are troubled…give them the same comfort God has given us.”   Comfort is not meant to be the solution.  Comfort is the revelation of Jesus from one heart to another and He’s the solution.

Jesus was a revolutionary, who did not become an extremist, since he did not offer an ideology, but Himself.” Henri Nouwen from The Wounded Healer

Power Struggle

Psalm 59 – Written by David at the time King Saul set guards at his home to capture and kill him.

1 O my God, save me from my enemies. Protect me from these who have come to destroy me.  2 Preserve me from these criminals, these murderers.  3 They lurk in ambush for my life. Strong men are out there waiting. And not, O Lord, because I’ve done them wrong. 4 Yet they prepare to kill me. Lord, waken! See what is happening! Help me!
9 O God my Strength! I will sing your praises, for you are my place of safety. 10 My God is changeless in his love for me, and he will come and help me. He will let me see my wish come true upon my enemies.

11 Don’t kill them—for my people soon forget such lessons—but stagger them with your power and bring them to their knees. Bring them to the dust, O Lord our shield.
16 But as for me, I will sing each morning about your power and mercy. For you have been my high tower of refuge, a place of safety in the day of my distress.   17 O my Strength, to you I sing my praises; for you are my high tower of safety, my God of mercy.

David writes of his personal “power” struggle in these imprecatory Psalms.  His is a struggle between real circumstances and real intimacy with God.  You can see that in the verses above.  Over and over his conflicted thoughts demand my thought because that’s my power struggle too.  Circumstances do not operate independently of intimacy with God.  

There’s no way to get around the fact our power struggle is just like David’s.  Life was his connection between real circumstances and real intimacy with God.  Maybe God is using David’s Psalms to make us look at life in a more realistic way.  Life is not a sentence because of circumstances or a slam-dunk because of intimacy with God.  Life is our power struggle in which we constantly have to choose whether we’ll give the power to circumstances or to our intimacy with God to effect our response. 

Practice…Authority and injury

I don’t know what I had in mind at the end of January when I wrote my list of word combinations to explore. I’ve spent hours thinking and reading many resources only to find myself back at the very beginning of time in Genesis when disobeying Authority first resulted in injury. That seems appropriate to remember on this first day of Lent.

Authority: the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.
Genesis 2:16-17 But the Lord God gave the man this warning: “You may eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the Tree of Conscience—for its fruit will open your eyes to make you aware of right and wrong, good and bad. If you eat its fruit, you will be doomed to die.” TLB

injury: hurt, damage, or loss sustained
Genesis 3:16 Then God said to the woman, “You shall bear children in intense pain and suffering; yet even so, you shall welcome your husband’s affections, and he shall be your master.”
17 And to Adam, God said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate the fruit when I told you not to, I have placed a curse upon the soil. All your life you will struggle to extract a living from it. 18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, and you shall eat its grasses. 19 All your life you will sweat to master it, until your dying day. Then you will return to the ground from which you came. For you were made from the ground, and to the ground you will return.” TLB

God’s Response: Genesis 3:21 and the Lord God clothed Adam and his wife with garments made from skins of animals. TLB

The ultimate Authority  faced with the disobedience of his creation and the required consequences, chose to respond by providing garments to temporarily protect their lives because they would be separated from him.  His response was their heritage and ours…UNTIL… Galatians 3:25-27.

“But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor [the Law]. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

The Red Thread – In the Presence of God

• 21 “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.
• 23 “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear. 24 Consider carefully what you hear,”
• “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

The crowd Jesus was speaking to was accustomed to their connection to God being dependent on a priest in a synagogue where they would be required to sit until dismissed. Jesus knew two important things about them. They were there because they’d heard he was changing lives AND they were free to wander away at any time.

He gave them stories that could become their lightning flash of reality; to discover a heavenly meaning in the seemingly inconsequential events of daily life. They weren’t meant to be studied at length but to cause an immediate response. If people would see and hear them in the actual presence of God they could discover truth of God that was truly their own. God wasn’t only there in the church, he desired a direct connection to their day-to-day lives.

I read somewhere these words of Jesus are sometimes called orphan statements. I don’t know when the concept of God as Our Father began but I do know without God we’re all orphans. “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear. Consider carefully what you hear,”

“R”

I’ve paid almost no attention to the “minor” prophets in the Bible but it’s time for a change. Certainly change is a major theme in the book of Hosea. It’s a strange story that reads like an “R” rated soap opera.

Hosea 1:2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”…

Hosea 2:10 So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands…14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her…17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked…21 “In that day I will respond,” declares the Lord—“I will respond to the skies and they will respond to the earth; 22 and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and the olive oil,..

Hosea 3:1 The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites….” 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last.

I’m sure there are deep symbolic meanings in all the details of this story but I’m going for the cliff notes for these first 3 chapters.
1. God does not ignore broken relationships with generations of faithless people no matter how bad the realities are.
2. Those who exploit the provision of God will be exposed so all can see but even then God will not let them go.  He will respond because of his love for what he has created.
3. “The Lord said to me, Go, show your love…”…”They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last.”

God’s plan has always been that “R” can become Restored.

Psalm 119:137-144 צ Tsadhe – fish hook?

Psalm 119:137-144 צ Tsadhe – fish hook?
137 You are righteous, Lord,
and your laws are right.
138 The statutes you have laid down are righteous;
they are fully trustworthy.
139 My zeal wears me out,
for my enemies ignore your words.
140 Your promises have been thoroughly tested,
and your servant loves them.
141 Though I am lowly and despised,
I do not forget your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is everlasting
and your law is true.
143 Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands give me delight.
144 Your statutes are always righteous;
give me understanding that I may live.

The Psalmist had his own reasons for choosing Tsadhe – fish hook as his title. Today it’s a stepping stone, a mental path, to find truth that makes old words real for contemporary life.

Fish hook is only one step away from the idea of being “caught.” Is the Psalmist caught thinking his zeal for God is what changes his enemies? Is that what’s wearing him out? Is he caught by his own perception of what others think of him? Is he caught by his own trouble and distress? Is he caught being human? The answers to all of the above may well be yes.

That’s why his words seem familiar – they’re still struggles of being human today. Maybe Tsadhe – fish hook – is the Psalmists’ way of remembering being “caught” is also what makes it possible for him to find a positive response to those negatives.

He’s “caught on” that despite thorough testing, he still loves the promises of God. He’s “caught on” that God’s righteousness is everlasting but his circumstances aren’t. He’s hooked by these truths that allow him to live, to believe, to be faithful…even though he’s caught being human too. He’s been caught and firmly hooked by a righteous and trustworthy God.