1484.) Exodus 4

January 8, 2015
"Moses and the Burning Bush" watercolor by William Blake, early 19th century (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

“Moses and the Burning Bush” watercolor by William Blake, early 19th century (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

Exodus 4   (NRSV)

Moses’ Miraculous Power

Then Moses answered, “But suppose they do not believe me or listen to me, but say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’“

Bible commentator G. Campbell Morgan has written:  “We are ever prone, when God is calling us to some high service, to say ‘But,’ and this to introduce our statement of the difficulties as we see them.”

2The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”

He said, “A staff.”

3And he said, “Throw it on the ground.”

Ex 4 hand

God likes to use what is in our hand.

God used a sharp stick in Shamgar’s hand (Judges 3:31).

God used the stones and slingshot in David’s hand (1 Samuel 17:49).

God used the jawbone of a donkey in Samson’s hand (Judges 15:15).

God used five loaves and two fish in the hand of a little boy (John 6:9).

So he threw the staff on the ground, and it became a snake; and Moses drew back from it. 4Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand, and seize it by the tail” —so he reached out his hand and grasped it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5“so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

6Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” He put his hand into his cloak; and when he took it out, his hand was leprous, as white as snow.

7Then God said, “Put your hand back into your cloak” —so he put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored like the rest of his body— 8“If they will not believe you or heed the first sign, they may believe the second sign. 9If they will not believe even these two signs or heed you, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

10But Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

11Then the Lord said to him, “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?

Psalm 94:9 (New American Standard Bible)

He who planted the ear, does He not hear?
He who formed the eye, does He not see?

12Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.”

13But he said, “O my Lord, please send someone else.”

14Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “What of your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know that he can speak fluently; even now he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you his heart will be glad. 15You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and will teach you what you shall do.

Moses should have obeyed the Lord in simple dependence, knowing that His commands are His enablements.  God never asks us to do anything without giving us the power to do it.  Because Moses was not satisfied with God’s best, he had to take God’s second best—that is, having Aaron be his spokesman.  Moses thought that Aaron would be a help, but he later proved to be a hindrance in leading the people to worship the golden calf (chapter 32).

–William MacDonald

16He indeed shall speak for you to the people; he shall serve as a mouth for you, and you shall serve as God for him. 17Take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”



HERE  is “Speak, O Lord,”   by Keith Getty, 2005, with videoclips from Norway and France.   ( The music does not begin until 20 seconds into the clip.)


Moses Returns to Egypt

18Moses went back to his father-in-law Jethro and said to him, “Please let me go back to my kindred in Egypt and see whether they are still living.”

And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”

19The Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt; for all those who were seeking your life are dead.” 20So Moses took his wife and his sons, put them on a donkey and went back to the land of Egypt; and Moses carried the staff of God in his hand.


a thought from Andy Warhol:

Ex4 andy-warhol-

According to Exodus 7:7, Moses was 80 years old when God called him to do the great work of his life:  lead the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt and guide them 40 years in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land.

Are you impatiently waiting for something — and could you now put that situation in God’s hands for God’s timing?

What good work, what great work might the Lord have for you now, later, and even in your retirement years?

21And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.

Who really hardened Pharaoh’s heart?

We might say that it was both God and Pharaoh; but whenever God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, He never did it against Pharaoh’s will. Pharaoh never said, “Oh, I want to do what is good and right and I want to bless these people of Israel” and God answered, “No, for I will harden your heart against them!” When God hardened, He allowed Pharaoh’s heart to do what Pharaoh wanted to do – God gave Pharaoh over to his sin (Romans 1:18-32).

–David GuzIk

22Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord: Israel is my firstborn son. 23I said to you, “Let my son go that he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; now I will kill your firstborn son.’“

24On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the Lord met him and tried to kill him. 25But Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, and touched Moses’ feet with it, and said, “Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26So he let him alone. It was then she said, “A bridegroom of blood by circumcision.”

27The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went; and he met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which he had sent him, and all the signs with which he had charged him.

29Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the Israelites. 30Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses, and performed the signs in the sight of the people.

31The people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had given heed to the Israelites and that he had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

Ex4 moses_burning_bush_bysantine_mosaic

Luke 1:54 (New American Standard Bible)

He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Blake.    http://www.william-blake.org/105321/Moses-and-the-Burning-Bush-large.jpg
hand.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/86bd8-ex44.jpeg
Andy Warhol quote.  http://imagecache5.art.com/p/LRG/17/1704/2CM1D00Z/andy-warhol-waiting.jpg
Moses and the burning bush Byzantine icon.    http://iconreader.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/moses_burning_bush_bysantine_mosaic.jpg

1483.) Exodus 3

January 7, 2015
"The Burning Bush" by Israeli artist Shraga Weil (1918-2009).

“The Burning Bush” by Israeli artist Shraga Weil (1918-2009).

Exodus 3   (NRSV)

Moses at the Burning Bush

"Burning Bush"  by Pat Smith

“Burning Bush” by Pat Marvenko Smith

God, hear me saying . . .
. . . heartbeat . . .
I am dry and brittle and ready to snap.

God, I hear you saying . . .
. . . heartbeat . . .
How else to be kindling for a burning bush?

–Ann Voskamp

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 3Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.”

4When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!”

Ex3 he knows your name

God’s first words to Moses called him by name. This shows that even though Moses was now an obscure, forgotten shepherd on the backside of the desert, God knew who he was, and Moses was important to God.

 The double call (Moses, Moses!) implied importance and urgency, as when God called Abraham, Abraham! (Genesis 22:11), Samuel, Samuel! (1 Samuel 3:10), Simon, Simon (Luke 22:31), Martha, Martha (Luke 10:41), and Saul, Saul (Acts 9:4).

–David Guzik

And he said, “Here I am.”

5Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”


When was the last time you took off your shoes (or fell on your knees, or shouted for joy) because God was so near to you?



HERE  is a song for Moses and for us:  “We Are Standing on Holy Ground.”


6He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.


7Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, 8and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. 10So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

11But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”

The Divine Name Revealed

13But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”

When God revealed Himself to man in the days of the patriarchs it was often associated with a newly revealed name or title for God.

  • Abraham, in the encounter with Melchizedek, called on God Most High (Genesis 14:22)
  • Abraham later encountered Almighty God (Genesis 17:1)
  • Abraham came to know the Lord as Everlasting God (Genesis 21:33), and The-Lord-Will-Provide (Genesis 22:14)
  • Hagar encountered You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees (Genesis 16:13)
  • Jacob met El Elohe Israel (Genesis 33:20), and El Bethel (Genesis 35:7)

So if Moses were to come to the elders of Israel as a representative of God, it would be logical for them to wonder, “By what name did He reveal Himself to you?”

–David Guzik

14God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’“

3.  I AM

Mark 14:61-62 (Amplified Bible)

Again the high priest asked Him, Are You the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), the Son of the Blessed?

And Jesus said, I AM.

15God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.


DreamWork’s 1998 animated movie, The Prince of Egypt, tells the story of Moses and the Exodus.  HERE  in this clip, Moses encounters the burning bush.

16Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying: I have given heed to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt. 17I declare that I will bring you up out of the misery of Egypt, to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.’

“a land flowing with milk and honey”

3. land of milk and honey

Exactly what kind of prosperity does the biblical expression refer to? It probably does not refer to the most common forms of agriculture, such as the cultivation of grains. Rather, the “milk” most likely refers to animal husbandry and the use of animal byproducts for food and clothing. Sheep were important for their wool and meat, but goats may have been more important. They provide twice as much milk as sheep, and their hair and hides could be used for tents, clothing, carpets, and even satchels for holding liquids. The “honey” refers to horticulture—the cultivation of fruits and vegetables. “Honey” in Israel is more commonly the syrup from grapes and dates than the substance produced by bees.

–John H. Walton, “Bible Backgrounds”  

18″They will listen to your voice; and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; let us now go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, so that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’ 19I know, however, that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. 20So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all my wonders that I will perform in it; after that he will let you go.

21″I will bring this people into such favor with the Egyptians that, when you go, you will not go empty-handed; 22each woman shall ask her neighbor and any woman living in the neighbor’s house for jewelry of silver and of gold, and clothing, and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters; and so you shall plunder the Egyptians.”


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Weil.   http://www.safrai.com/details.php?id=450
Smith.   http://pitnbookstore.estoreadvanced.biz/images/products/p320.jpg
He knows your name.     http://www.hollychristine.net/original%20art%20product%20images/block-he%20knows%20your%20name.jpg
Ratner — Burning Bush.   http://www.ratnermuseum.org/?page=exodus#
Be still plaque.   http://www.catholicfamilygifts.com/images/products/detail/frame-plaque/317.jpg
land of milk and honey.  https://www.artfulhome.com/item_images/P/6501-6600/full/P06598-P00036f.jpg

1482.) Exodus 2

January 6, 2015
"A Miniature Ark" from Clay Illustrations by Georgia Cawley

“A Miniature Ark”   clay by Georgia Cawley

Exodus 2  (NRSV)

Birth and Youth of Moses

Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. 2The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months.

Hebrews 11:23 (Contemporary English Version)

Because Moses’ parents had faith, they kept him hidden until he was three months old. They saw that he was a beautiful child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s orders.



HERE  is “Beautiful Boy,” one of John Lennon’s last songs, written for his son Sean.


3When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river.

Well, she did exactly what Pharaoh had commanded — she put him in the river —-

4His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

"Moses in the Bulrushes" by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1921 (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

“Moses in the Bulrushes” by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1921 (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

5The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. 6When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said.


The first weapon God used against the oppressing nation of Egypt was the cry of a baby.

What seemingly small thing could you do now to help God’s kingdom come?

7Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?”

8Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. 10When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

Acts 7:22 (New International Version)

Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.

David Guzik says:  Certainly, Moses was raised with both the science and learning of Egypt, one of the most academic and scientific societies among ancient cultures. It is reasonable to think that Moses was instructed in geography, history, grammar, writing, literature, philosophy, and music.

Resources for children:


The Moses Basket. A simple, gentle retelling by Jenny Koralek and illustrated by Pauline Baynes (who also illustrated The Narnia Chronicles), Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2003.

Moses Flees to Midian

11One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and saw their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsfolk. 12He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13When he went out the next day, he saw two Hebrews fighting; and he said to the one who was in the wrong, “Why do you strike your fellow Hebrew?”

14He answered, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “Surely the thing is known.”

15When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh.

"Flight to Midian"  digital art by Ted Larson

“Flight to Midian” digital art by Ted Larson

He settled in the land of Midian,

In that day Midian described the area which is both Saudi Arabia and the Sinai Peninsula.

and sat down by a well.

16The priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came to draw water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17But some shepherds came and drove them away. Moses got up and came to their defense and watered their flock.

"Moses Defending the Daughters of Jethro" by Fiorentino Rosso, 1523 (Uffizi, Florence)

“Moses Defending the Daughters of Jethro” by Fiorentino Rosso, 1523 (Uffizi, Florence)

18When they returned to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come back so soon today?”

19They said, “An Egyptian helped us against the shepherds; he even drew water for us and watered the flock.”

20He said to his daughters, “Where is he? Why did you leave the man? Invite him to break bread.” 21Moses agreed to stay with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah in marriage. 22She bore a son, and he named him Gershom; for he said, “I have been an alien residing in a foreign land.”

23After a long time the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God. 24God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them.

God was not oblivious to the plight of His people.  God heard, and remembered, and looked upon the children of Israel, and acknowledged their condition.  His response was to bring His servant back to Egypt (ch. 3) to lead His people out of that land in the mightiest display of power since the creation of the world.

–William MacDonald

Psalm 142 (NIV)

I cry aloud to the LORD;
I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy.

I pour out my complaint before him;
before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
it is you who know my way.
In the path where I walk
men have hidden a snare for me.

Look to my right and see;
no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”

Listen to my cry,
for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.

Set me free from my prison,
that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
because of your goodness to me.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Cawley.   http://gcawleyart.com/galleries/clay/
Tanner.   http://americanart.si.edu/images/1983/1983.95.197_1b.jpg
Larson.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/2-larsonflight-to-midian.jpg?w=450
Rosso.  http://www.wga.hu/art/r/rosso/2/1moses.jpg

1481.) Exodus 1

January 5, 2015
Exodus: a word cloud.  (A word cloud is a visualization of word frequency in a given text.  Greater prominence and size are given to words that occur more frequently in the text.

Exodus: a word cloud.   A word cloud is a visualization of word frequency in a given text. Greater prominence and size are given to words that occur more frequently in the text.

Exodus 1   (NRSV)

The first verses of Exodus reach back some 430 years. The story of the Exodus begins where the story Genesis ends: a large family with a crucial place in God’s plan of the ages and their migration to Egypt.

The Hebrew title for the Book of Exodus is taken from its first words: And These are the Names Of. In the original language, the first word of Exodus is and, marking its continuity from the Genesis account.

–David Guzik

To really enjoy the book of Exodus, we need to look for Christ in it.  Moses, the Passover lamb, the rock, and the tabernacle are only a few of the types (symbols) of the Lord Jesus, many of which are referred to elsewhere in Scripture (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews chapters 3-10).  May the Lord do for us what He did for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus—interpret to us “in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).

–William MacDonald

These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.

John 10:3  (NIV)

He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

5The total number of people born to Jacob was seventy. Joseph was already in Egypt.

6Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that whole generation. 7But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.


Bruce Feiler: Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses (Book II, Chapter 2 “And They Made Their Lives Bitter”).



When the children of Israel were set to slave labor they built many of the great cities and monuments in Egypt — though not the pyramids, which were built much earlier.

The Israelites Are Oppressed

8Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”

11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites.

The nation could not grow this way in Canaan, because it was practically impossible to avoid intermarriage with the pagan and wicked inhabitants of Canaan. Egypt was so racially biased and had such an entrenched system of racial separation that Israel could grow there over several centuries without being assimilated.

13The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, 14and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

Genesis 15:12-14 (NIV)

As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.  Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.  But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.”

Pharaoh meant the hard bondage for evil, but God meant it for good.  It helped prepare the Jews for their arduous journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.

–William MacDonald

15The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16“When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.”

"Choose You This Day" by Elspeth Young, a painting of Puah considering the order the king has just given her.  (I find it ever so interesting that we are know the name of the two midwives, but not of the Pharaoh!)

“Choose You This Day” by Elspeth Young, a painting of the midwife Puah considering the order the king of Egypt has just given her. (I find it ever so interesting that we know the names of the two midwives, but not the name of the Pharaoh!)

17But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live.  18So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?”

19The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”

20So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. 21And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.

Ex1 doright

One person respectfully honoring God —  matters.

Proverbs 11:18 (ESV)

One who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.

22Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”

If the battle were just between Pharaoh and the people of Israel, Pharaoh would have clearly won. But the real battle included God in the equation, and that changed everything.



David Guzik says:  The method Pharaoh commanded for the death of the male children of Israel became the divine provision for training the deliverer of Israel.

HERE  is a ballad — Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open” won the Grammy Award in 2001 for Best Rock Song.  The song celebrates the good news that a child is on the way.  “With arms wide open, I’ll show you love, I’ll show you everything. . . ”

And God already had in mind the child who was coming to rescue Israel from the Egyptians!


The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
word cloud.   http://identity33.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/exodus1.gif
pyramids.   http://blog.hotelclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/egypt-pyramids.jpg
Young.  http://alyoung.com/Art_Gallery/Elspeth_Young/Women_in_Scripture/Puah_thumbnail.jpg
Do the right thing.   http://www.appleseeds.org/doright2.gif

1480.) Proverbs 1

January 2, 2015

proverb: (noun) a short, pithy sentence that conveys a general truth, condensing common experience into memorable form

Proverbs 1 (New Living Translation)

The Purpose of Proverbs

1 These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.

King Solomon. Third king of Israel. Son of the great King David. The wisest man who ever lived.

The absolute quiet and prosperity of the reign of Solomon (the man of peace), as described in 1 Kings 4:20, would naturally be conducive to the growth of a sententious philosophy; whereas the constant wars and dangerous life of David had called forth the impassioned eloquence of the Psalms.

–Charles J. Ellicott (1819-1905)

2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,
to help them understand the insights of the wise.
3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,
to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
4 These proverbs will give insight to the simple,
knowledge and discernment to the young.

5 Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.
Let those with understanding receive guidance
6 by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,
the words of the wise and their riddles.

7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.



HERE  is “We Choose the Fear of the Lord”  sung by the Maranatha Singers.


A Father’s Exhortation: Acquire Wisdom

A father teaching his son how to kayak.  Photo by Susan Sayour.

8 My child, listen when your father corrects you.
Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
9 What you learn from them will crown you with grace
and be a chain of honor around your neck.

Verses 7 – 9 may be regarded as a summary statement of the principle on which the whole book is based, and of the duty which it enjoins. The principle is that true wisdom is based on religion, and the duty is to listen to parental instruction. ‘My son,’ is the address of a teacher to his disciples, rather than of a father to his child.

–Alexander MacLaren (1826-1910, an English non-conformist minister of Scottish origin)

10 My child, if sinners entice you,
turn your back on them!
11 They may say, “Come and join us.
Let’s hide and kill someone!
Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent!
12 Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave;
let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death.
13 Think of the great things we’ll get!
We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take.
14 Come, throw in your lot with us;
we’ll all share the loot.”

15 My child, don’t go along with them!
Stay far away from their paths.
16 They rush to commit evil deeds.
They hurry to commit murder.
17 If a bird sees a trap being set,
it knows to stay away.

from Whispers of His Power, by Amy Carmichael

Proverbs 1:17 — Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.

When God is speaking to a soul, the devil always tries to spread a net to entangle him.  Have you ever heard a message and found yourself thinking, “Yes, that is just the word for him.  It fits him exactly.  I hope he takes it to heart.”  If you have, then you know one of Satan’s favorite nets.  He tries to make us think of somebody else, and pass the message on to him instead of taking it for ourselves.

But surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.  If you see the net, pray this prayer:  “Lord, open my ears to hear what Thou wilt say to me.  Make me sincere, and give me grace to obey.”

And then, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it (John 2:5).

18 But these people set an ambush for themselves;
they are trying to get themselves killed.
19 Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money;
it robs them of life.

Wisdom Shouts in the Streets

“Wisdom calls aloud in the street . . . “

20 Wisdom shouts in the streets.
She cries out in the public square.
21 She calls to the crowds along the main street,
to those gathered in front of the city gate:

This is the first time that Wisdom,  personified as a woman  (in Greek, “Sophia”),  speaks in the book of Proverbs.  We will hear from her again in chapters 8 and 9.  This seems to me to be a metaphor only; orthodox Christianity does not condone worship of the goddess Sophia.  Scripture teaches that God alone is true and holy Wisdom.

Romans 11:33 (NIV)

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!

1 Timothy 1:17 (NKJV)

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

22 “How long, you simpletons,
will you insist on being simpleminded?
How long will you mockers relish your mocking?
How long will you fools hate knowledge?
23 Come and listen to my counsel.
I’ll share my heart with you
and make you wise.

24 “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come.
I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.
25 You ignored my advice
and rejected the correction I offered.
26 So I will laugh when you are in trouble!
I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone,
and anguish and distress overwhelm you.

28 “When they cry for help, I will not answer.
Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.
29 For they hated knowledge
and chose not to fear the Lord.
30 They rejected my advice
and paid no attention when I corrected them.
31 Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way,
choking on their own schemes.
32 For simpletons turn away from me—to death.
Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.
33 But all who listen to me will live in peace,
untroubled by fear of harm.”

Psalm 112:1, 7, 8 (NIV)

Praise the LORD.
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who finds great delight in his commands.

He will have no fear of bad news;
his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.

His heart is secure, he will have no fear;
in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.


New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
proverbs.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/1-proverbs-color.jpg?w=450
King Solomon.     http://api.ning.com/files/CHEym1kkr-YmEgUruMEwdTsmvkM*DCr30RIcYq*p5HNeRbM-zLi0sJsoZ6OEP88KoqWo6JUlIz02yMthithZs3zQ13e-I5Pu/King_Solomon.jpg
Sayour.    http://z.about.com/d/paddling/1/0/h/3/-/-/0_Intro.JPG
sparrow caught in a net.      https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/1-sparrow.jpg?w=450
wisdom calling in the street.    http://www.tlchrist.info/wisdom.jpg

1479.) Psalm 13 and 14

January 1, 2015

13. sundial

Psalm 13

Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies

1How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

2How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

The green comments on Psalm 13 are from The Message of the Psalms, by Walter Brueggmann: 

(Walter Brueggemann is an American Protestant Old Testament scholar and theologian, widely considered one of the most influential Old Testament scholars of the last several decades.)

This is a psalm of personal lament.  It begins with five rhetorical questions (in Hebrew, four) which describe a situation of disorientation and fix the blame firmly on Yahweh.  The crisis in relationship with Yahweh is at the bottom of the external problem of troubles in the world.  The speech is a barrage of someone in a sore condition.

3Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,

4and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

Verses 3 and 4 provide a petition and a motivation.  The petition:  “consider, answer, give light.”  The psalmist is clear that there is no way out of the trouble unless Yahweh can act.  The motivations communicate to Yahweh what is at stake:  or “I will sleep the sleep of death . . . and my enemy will say . . . , and my foes will rejoice.”  The psalmist makes his problem into Yahweh’s problem, providing data out of which Yahweh can make a new act.

5But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

6I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

We do not know how long the psalmist waited, but now things are changed.  He is on his way to a new orientation:  “I  have trusted . . .  my heart shall rejoice . . . I will sing. . .”  These three personal references are matched by three references to Yahweh:  “your steadfast love . . . your salvation  . . . the Lord.”  The psalmist is clear about the source of help, and breaks loose in doxology.  The sense of disorientation is overcome, released to a new, grateful, trustful communion.  The accused Yahweh has now become the praised Yahweh.

13. Fig+Tree

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (New International Version)

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.



HERE  is “How Can I Keep from Singing?” — the Oakwood University Aeolians.  The mission of Oakwood University (Huntsville, AL), a historically black, Seventh-day Adventist institution, is to transform students through biblically-based education for service to God and humanity.


Psalm 14

Denunciation of Godlessness

1Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”

13. TIME Is God Dead

“God is dead.”
–Friedrich Nietzsche

“God is dead” — Nietzsche.
“Nietzsche is dead.” — God.

“God is dead.  Nietzsche is dead.  And I’m not feeling so good myself.”
–Woody Allen

They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.

2The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.

3They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one.

Romans 3:10-18 (New International Version)

As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.
The poison of vipers is on their lips.
Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

4Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the Lord?

5There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the company of the righteous.

6You would confound the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.

7O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
sundial.  http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2216/2273473796_df9b41a468.jpg
fig tree.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/ff111-fig2btree2b00063.jpg
Time magazine cover.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/009c4-isgoddead.jpg

1478.) Psalms 11 and 12

December 31, 2014
In the Lord I take refuge . . .

In the Lord I take refuge . . .

Psalm 11

Song of Trust in God

1In the Lord I take refuge;

2 Corinthians 3:4 (New Living Translation)

We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.

how can you say to me, “Flee like a bird to the mountains;

2for look, the wicked bend the bow, they have fitted their arrow to the string, to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.

3If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

4The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven. His eyes behold, his gaze examines humankind.

11. eyes of the Lord earth

2 Chronicles 16:9 (New Living Translation)

The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

5The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and his soul hates the lover of violence.

6On the wicked he will rain coals of fire and sulfur; a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.

7For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.


HERE  Paul Wilbur sings about the God of truth and life in “Let the Weight of Your Glory Fall.”  It is a wonderful song for worshiping our Lord, as with the Psalmist we ask to behold his face.

We do not seek Your hand
We only seek Your face
We want to know You
We want to see You
Reveal Your glory in this place


Psalm 12

12. fire for silver

Plea for Help in Evil Times

1Help, O Lord, for there is no longer anyone who is godly; the faithful have disappeared from humankind.

2They utter lies to each other; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

3May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts,

4those who say, “With our tongues we will prevail; our lips are our own—who is our master?”

5“Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan, I will now rise up,” says the Lord; “I will place them in the safety for which they long.”

6The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure,

John 8:26   (NRSV)

“The one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.”

silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.

Silver ingots

pure silver ingots, 10 troy ounces each

7You, O Lord, will protect us; you will guard us from this generation forever.

8On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among humankind.

Just one example of “vileness” being “exalted”:

Globally, porn is a $97 billion industry, according to Kassia Wosick, assistant professor of sociology at New Mexico State University. Between $10 billion and $12 billion of that comes from the United States.



The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
refuge.  http://wonders.wallpaperdave.com/ps64-09.jpg
eyes of the Lord on the earth.  http://rlv.zcache.com/the_eyes_of_the_lord_poster-p228420788755933712qzz0_400.jpg
fire.  http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2519/3884836710_44dcac29b0.jpg
silver ingots.  http://www.nunemakers.com/images/silverbars10oz.JPG


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