Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Psalms 68-70, 86, 101
Questions & Observations
Q. (Psalm 68:6): What does “God places the lonely in families” mean? Then, does the last part, “he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land” still pertain to today, since we see a lot of fighting in desert areas in the middles east?
A. It is talking about adoption, both in the sense of human families and the divine family. God not only IS the father to the fatherless (one of my favorite TobyMac songs, by the way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUpWFz1PDoQ), but He provides real families to those who need them (this would have included widows in ancient society).
I would reject the notion of God “making” people live in sun-scorched lands because of their rebellion. Many of the people who live in those lands today (often under terrible persecution) are faithful Jews and Christians.
Q. (68:16): I googled Mount Zion images, but I couldn’t tell which one was the correct one. There’s one with several photos and buildings on the mountain, which looks like more of a hill. Can you give us a link to the correct biblical Mount Zion photo?
A. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Zion. This article has it right, and there is a picture included. Mt. Zion is a low mountain/tall hill in the area of Jerusalem, just outside of the so-called “Old City.” This “mountain” was not something to be jealous of exactly — though it is the tallest area around — and the author is not speaking of the other mountains — some of which are significantly higher — as being jealous of the awesome height of Zion, but rather that they are jealous because God’s spirit resides there. Mount Zion has come to be a way of symbolizing the kingdom of God.
O. (68:9-12): These verses certainly show David’s loyalty to God. He is publicly ridiculed, yet he stands up for God.
Q. (68:22-28): David does his share of wishing for revenge. God hasn’t spoken much about this is yet. Is it in the NT where we will read “love your enemies?”
A. Yes, it is primarily a NT concept (Matthew 5:43-48).
O. (68:30-31): Here is another instance — we talked about this a day or so ago — where God prefers us praising Him to animal sacrifices.
A. Yes, David is making that assertion. It will be a major theme of the Prophets. The problem Israel will have is that they clearly understood the sacrificial system, but they took advantage of it in the way we discussed a few days ago in our understanding of “cheap grace.” The people were doing whatever they wanted, and then trying to use the sacrifice system to basically “cover their tracks.” They took the sacrifice system as a license to sin. This missed the entire point of the Law — which should have brought God and man closer together, not further apart — and God was not pleased by the people’s rebellion.
Q. (101:5): What does this verse mean? I thought we were supposed to love our neighbor. If someone is doing something that you or God does not approve of, should you run from that person or just get to know them until you find the good things about them?
A. What David is describing is his desire to see himself and his neighbors living a righteous life according to the Law. Now, that last phrase is the most important part: according to the Law, you should not be a gossip, or slander, or be prideful. That would have been the foundation of the entire society in David’s era, and EVERYONE would have been aware of the standard, even if they didn’t follow it. Now the catch about trying to apply this circumstance to our day is that not everyone is aware of God’s standard, and it is unfair of us to hold people responsible for a standard that they do not know. Your neighbors might not have the same standard of acceptable conduct as you do, so you have to be tactful in how you approach such things. Being in loving relationship with people who hold different moral standards than you do can be quite difficult, and you have to decide for yourself where the “line” is with acceptable conduct. This is just one more place where Christians can get themselves into trouble by trying to act as though modern America is exactly the same as ancient Israel. That simply isn’t the case, and acting as though it is will very likely result in people not hearing of God’s love clearly because they feel they are being shunned for their conduct.