Month: July 2013

Comfort food and comfort rules? (Psalm 119:52)

When I think of your rules from of old,
I take comfort, O LORD (Psalm 119:52).

Comfort food, comfort films, comfort friends and comfort rules?

comfort foodsWhat do you do when you need comfort?

Is there a food you eat to calm your soul?  For me lately it’s been Klondike bars.  (What would I do?  I’d open the freezer door.)  But the comfort doesn’t last very long.

Is there a film or TV show you watch to make you relax?  Lately, we’ve been watching Arrested Development.  Funny, but more troubling than comforting.

Is there a friend you talk with to encourage you?  Friends are wonderful, but they’re not always available.

The psalmist finds comfort in rules.  Nice huh?  A few verses earlier the psalmist needed comfort in affliction and found it in God’s promise, which gave life (for more on Psalm 119:50, click here).

Wait, how do rules bring comfort?  Rules bring structure, which is good.  Rules set boundaries which we all need.  But God’s rules are designed to bring us closer to God.  The psalmist might not always have a friend to talk to, but God’s always available.  And that’s highly comforting.

How do God’s rules bring us closer to God?  Good question.  Some rules like love God with all your heart, soul and strength (Deut. 6:5) obviously move us toward God.  Other rules like resting on the Sabbath (Deut. 5:12), force us to slow down, rest and make room for God in our lives.  Other rules make us dependent upon God, so hopefully we pray for divine assistance to obey.

The psalmist isn’t comforted with just any rules, but old ones.  Isn’t that always the case, the old rules are the best ones when you need to be comforted?

The oldest rule, is the first rule that God gave to the freshly made humans, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28).  In order to be fruitful and multiply, what do humans need to do?  I’m pretty sure that will involve sex.  How much sex?  Enough to fill the earth.   (I discuss this in God Behaving Badly pages 116-118.)

God’s first rule is basically, “Have a lot of sex.”  Yes, that’s what it says (in the context of a life-long committed relationship between a man and a woman).

What a great rule!  Comforting and exciting.


The Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Bible Dictionaries are perhaps the most helpful reference when it comes to understanding the Bible.  Commentaries often give too much information, particularly about issues you’re not interested in.  For my thoughts on Study Bibles click here (“I hate Study Bibles”) and here (part 2)–I don’t like them.

But Bible Dictionaries give you want you need to understand the Bible.  I’ve contributed to three other Bible Dictionaries (see “Other Books“).  So, I’m excited to tell you about a brand new one.

The Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary is now available from Amazon and other sources.

OK, I may be a bit biased since I wrote twelve articles for this one (out of 5000 total).

Some of the bigger articles were:
1) Hosea the book (I’d never written on Hosea, but I liked how this came out)
2) Hosea the person (You think your spouse is bad, he married a prostitute)
3) Jacob (I negotiated to get more words for Jacob, taking a few away from Lot)
4) Lot (Should Abraham have taken him or left him behind?)
5) Jeroboam (What was so bad about those altars?)

Others were:
6) Elihu (Do you know who this is?)
7) Hilkiah (Josiah’s priest)
8) Gedaliah (Governor of Judah)
9) Jehoiachin (Do you get confused between him and Jehoiakim? join the club)
10) Jehoiakim
11) Jephthah (Did he really sacrifice his daughter?)
12) Lamech (The first polygamist/misogynist)

Hope you find it helpful in your studies.

Only one right side to Redskins debate, and history will remember – CBSSports

Washington-RedskinsI always find Gregg Doyel (of provocative.  I usually agree with him.  I definitely agree this time.  Read his argument here for why the Washington Redskins (US pro football team) should change their racist name: Only one right side to Redskins debate, and history will remember – CBSSports.

It makes it easier that I’m a Broncos fan (since I went to Stanford with John Elway–he was a year ahead of me, he didn’t know who I was).

Doyel’s best line, “Sometimes politically correct is morally correct.”

What do you  think?  I’d love to hear from any Redskins fans.

Derision, the Slave Trade and Psalm 119:51

The insolent utterly deride me,
but I do not turn away from your law (Psalm 119:51).  

Wilberforce WThe primary human behind the abolition of the slave trade in England, William Wilberforce, memorized Psalm 119 (see Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness, p. 48 by Eric Metaxas).  Since I can’t do that, I’ve decided to blog through the 176 verses of this the longest chapter of the Bible all of which are devoted to the psalmist’s obsession with the word of God.

For awhile I was doing one verse each week, but then health problems derailed me in the fall of 2012, and I skipped a few months.  I’m slowly getting back to it.  I’m now in the third verse of the seventh section (I’ve finished only 29%), the Zayin section where each of the 8 verses begin with the Hebrew letter Zayin.  Good English Bibles will show you where the 176 verses are divided into 22 groups of 8, and give you the Hebrew letter title for each section.

Getting back to our story, the psalmist is being derided, mocked and taunted by the insolent, arrogant and proud.  Why?  The psalmist doesn’t tell us, but it seems connected to the psalmist’s love for God’s law.  Despite the derision, the psalmist refuses to turn away from God’s law, suggesting that their abuse could have led the psalmist to reject or abandon it.

There are a lot of reasons why people today might be derided as they cling to God’s commands.  Wilberforce was derided by the people of his day because he threatened the status quo by advocating that the slave trade be eliminated.  Since all people were made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27-28), he believed they were all equally worthy of respect.  I would imagine that his love for Psalm 119 would have encouraged him to stand firm in the face of opposition, specifically as he realized from verses like 51 that the psalmist also experienced persecution.

Modern day Christian abolitionists like Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice Mission (see Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian) fight against global slave trade because of values they find in God’s word.  In the face of opposition, they, like the psalmist, do not turn from God’s law.

Who do you know that is being derided for their adherence to God’s law?  Zayin