Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Psalm 31

Psalm 31:1-5
1.In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge ; Let me never be ashamed ; In Your righteousness deliver me.
2.Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly ; Be to me a rock of strength, A stronghold to save me.
3.For You are my rock and my fortress ; For Your name's sake You will lead me and guide me.
4.You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, For You are my strength.
5.Into Your hand I commit my spirit ; You have ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth.

As I read these ten psalms (31-40), I was impressed by the richness of them. There are so many familiar verses, deeply meaningful phrases, reminders of Jesus our Savior, and tenets of theology in the Psalms.
As I read Psalm 31, I was emotionally drawn into the feelings David expressed, and I was intellectually interested in David’s descriptions of the character of Yahweh. This Psalm reminded me that God is strong, a refuge, righteous, trustworthy, gracious, and much more.
In verses 1-5, David describes God’s character in a way that lays the foundation for trusting God. The Lord is the God I can run to and be safe. Because of His righteousness, He is the only One who is able to deliver me. He is completely perfect, so He will never fail and no one will ever find a fault in Him to bring Him down. The Lord not only hears and listens to me, but He is willing to rescue me by His mighty strength. God is not disinterested in my life, but will lead and guide me for His purposes- and His purposes are always good. Even when times are hard and I slip into disaster, He will rescue me and be the strength I need to go on. Though I am poor and weak, God has ransomed me. The concept of ransom makes a big impression on me- it is amazing that God would pay a price to get me back, miserable as I am. Above all, He is the God of truth.
Because of who God is as David has described, he can commit his spirit (his very life) into God’s hand. Jesus repeats these words on the cross, knowing that in the darkest hour of human history, God is still trustworthy. And because God does not change, I can commit my spirit to God today. I can be completely confident because of who my God is.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Psalm 25

Psalm 25:4-10
4.Make me know Your ways, O LORD ; Teach me Your paths.
5.Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation ; For You I wait all the day.
6.Remember, O LORD, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, For they have been from of old.
7.Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions ; According to Your lovingkindness remember me, For Your goodness' sake, O LORD.
8.Good and upright is the LORD ; Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.
9.He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way.
10.All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.

What strikes me about this passage is the author’s dependence on God. The focus is not on what the speaker is doing or planning, but on waiting for God to move and carry out His plan.

Verses 4-5 show dependence on God in thoughts, plans, and actions. The author asks that God make him know His ways. He asks God to teach him His paths, and asks God to lead him in truth. He knows God is trustworthy because Yahweh is the God of his salvation. The phrase “for You I wait all the day” is counterintuitive to my tendencies. I want to move ahead, to get something done, but waiting on God shows true dependence on Him.

Verses 6-7 show spiritual dependence on God. The psalmist knows that he has committed sins, and that his sins condemn him as guilty and worthy of death before God. He is dependent on God’s compassion and lovingkindness. He knows that God has possessed these characteristics “from of old” and that He will not change, so He can be depended on. The psalmist also knows that God is good, and in His goodness He remembers sinners with lovingkindness.

Verses 8-9 are an incredible testimony to the mysterious goodness of God. He bestows His attention and energy on sinners and the humble. It is incredible to me that this verse does not say God teaches the diligent, the hard-working, the sincere; rather, He teaches those who have wronged Him and are least in the world’s eyes. I can have confidence in God’s love for me because He loves because of His goodness, not because of who I am.

To all those who choose to follow after God as He instructs them in His way, “the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth.” Lord, teach me Your ways, and enable me to walk after you, that I may walk in Your lovingkindness and truth.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ruth Chapel Series

As I mentioned in my post on Ruth, this semester I got to see a series of four talks given by Dr. Reg Grant in DTS chapel.  I loved this series- Dr. Grant was engaging, interesting, thought-provoking, and challenging.  If you are interested in hearing some great spiritual insights, you can view or listen to the chapels too (I would recommend watching the videos).  You can access them on the DTS website:
Or you can use the Itunes store and search for "DTS chapel- preach the word."  Both methods are free!  Enjoy!


Ruth 3:8-13
8.It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward ; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet.
9.He said, "Who are you?" And she answered, "I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative."
10.Then he said, "May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.
11."Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.
12."Now it is true I am a close relative ; however, there is a relative closer than I.
13."Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good ; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the LORD lives. Lie down until morning."

This semester, I had the privilege of not only reading but experiencing the book of Ruth through the chapel series presented by Dr. Reg Grant. Dr. Grant’s talks gave me so many new insights into this familiar story.

I have always thought of Ruth and Boaz as honorable people, and what I learned about Ruth 3:8-13 reinforced this idea in some interesting ways. When Ruth comes to Boaz on the threshing floor at night, she is acting in obedience to her misguided mother-in-law. Yet, even though she is obeying, she is creating a potentially darkly passionate situation. Ruth makes herself completely available to Boaz, a situation that would have been very tempting to him. And yet, the word she chooses to refer to herself in verse 9 implies humility- she uses a word that captures her situation as a foreigner, an outsider, and even a wanton woman.

The character Boaz displays here is incredible. He not only refuses to give in to temptation, but he does not look down on Ruth as a foreigner or view her as a seductress. He views Ruth as a courageous and honorable woman. He blesses her for not going after younger men, but for honoring him with her attention. Boaz shows his respect for Ruth by not taking advantage of her even when nobody would have known. What I think is really wonderful about this interaction is that Boaz calls Ruth a woman of excellence. In her humility, Ruth does not have a high opinion of herself, but Boaz recognizes her character. He has taken notice of all she has selflessly done for her mother-in-law. Even though she is from a people group that the Jews would normally despise, Boaz sees Ruth as a woman of excellence.

Ruth is a powerful story of the actions of a true God-centered love, but even more so of obedience and honor and the blessings that result.