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 131, 133, 138-141, 143
Questions & Observations
Q. (Psalms 131, 134): I missed asking this question yesterday. Who are the pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem? David is certainly at peace in these songs. In 133:3, it seems David is talking about the afterlife again. He must be looking forward to it after all the turmoil in his earthly life.
A. No, he’s not talking about the afterlife, at least not directly: there would have been three different times of the year that faithful Jews would have made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the holy days there. These songs were envisioned to be songs that these men and women would sing on the steep climb to the holy city.
Q. (138:6): This verse brings to light a dichotomy of desires. Our culture — and I would think that most cultures now or in the past — pushes people toward striving to do their best, climb the ladder, achieve financial prosperity, etc. However, that “success” is often accompanied by pride. I was wondering what God’s take is on striving to do your best. I don’t think we’ve talked about the “1-2-10” talents story yet. I was discussing the math curriculum with my daughters First Grade teacher last year. That school’s curriculum was to start math one year early. So, my daughter was doing First Grade math in Kindergarten and Second Grade math in First Grade. I thought it was a little too much, too soon. They said that if they start it when it’s supposed to start, the students are bored with it. The school says on its answering machine that it’s rigorous. And, it is. It is a wonderful school, don’t get me wrong. Anyway, the teacher said God wants us Christians to be leaders. Rob, can you address this?
A. I believe that God has created each of us for a purpose, and in some cases, that purpose is to be leaders: leaders of nations, leaders of Fortune 500 companies, leaders of major universities, but ALSO leaders of families, leaders of care for the poor and needy, and leaders in ministry. Can you see how you would take a very (very very!) different path to get to be a leader of some verses others, and yet, they are all leaders — all important in God’s sight. So I would agree with your school’s assessment, to a point: I think God desires leaders who are willing to follow after HIM, and not be led by their ego or paycheck.
But I think I could also argument that God desires non-working parents, laborers, followers, helpers, servants, and assistants — the janitor who is passionate about a clean floor is honoring God through what he has been given, just as a God-honoring CEO is. Even if the janitor does not feel that he wants to be a janitor all his life, he is still choosing to honor God in his work, whether it is as leader or servant. That, I think is what it comes down to: honoring God through whatever He has given you to do as your task in life, even one moment at a time.
Q. (138:7): There’s that right-hand reference again.
A. Yes. That was the “power side” where a warrior kept his spear or sword, or a king kept his closest advisor.
Q. (139:23-24): I find it interesting that David asks God to test his faith.
A. Yes he does. As we discussed a few days ago — when I pointed out in our discussion of Psalm 19 and seeing our faults, Day 127 — one of the best ways to make changes in our lives is to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in the process.
Q. (141:7): This is quite a visual. I was just wondering where the practice of burying bones came from. My family is from rural Kansas where most everyone has a family plot at the cemetery. Now that I’m more worldly, I know of cremation. Does God care if we are buried or cremated? I have always liked burial because then your family can visit it, read the headstones, place flowers on it and just reflect. But, in our conservation-minded society, it seems to be more savvy to choose cremation.
A. It is Jewish tradition (as well as other societies such as the ancient Greeks) that they buried their dead, as opposed to those who consumed the bodies in funeral pyres, which would naturally connect more with cremation. But the REQUIREMENT to bury a body is not found in the Bible, so there is a great amount of leeway there. I do not think it matters to God one bit.
O. (143:8-10): This would be a great passage to read every morning!