the energy of God
the enemies of God.
the energy of God
the enemies of God.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1.
It is a gloomy, dark, rainy Sunday morning. There is not a parking space left in the parking lot of the church. As the thunder booms above it cannot be heard by the worshipers inside. Inside the building it is dry and warm, filled with souls singing to their Lord. They are singing songs that give Him praise, that glorify Him and that thank Him for His salvation, grace and love. The offering plates passed are overflowing with gifts and offerings, benefits of the blessings of God. These brothers and sisters are united in purpose, prayer and praise, listening intently to the personal message that God has for each hearer. When the time of decision comes, the altar is full of praying, confessing, repenting sinners. Here the business meetings are calm and orderly, conducted with kingdom expansion in mind. The members are gracious, long-suffering, gentle, good and faith-filled. This is the picture of a unified group of believers in the local body of Christ.
Unity is good and proper and promotes happiness in the body as a whole and in each believer. It is pleasant and sweet, refreshing and soothing to the malicious wounds of the world. You may think that this is an impossible task, but it is not. It does require a lot of self-denial in favor of promoting Jesus. It is putting brothers and sisters in Christ first.
Now I beseech you, brethren, . . . be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Cor. 1:10).
šagāh [and] āwōn [and] peša‘
Is the issue of sin really all that important? Yes—it is mentioned approximately 900 times in the Bible. In addition to the most commonly used Hebrew word, chātā’, we find several others used to picture the seriousness of sin (see July 11 for another).
One such word is šagāh (H7686), “to go astray, to deceive, to wander, to make a mistake, to reel.” It’s used primarily to express the idea of straying or wandering and frequently describes a wandering or aimless flock, both figuratively and literally (Eze_34:6). Isaiah used this verb to suggest “swerving, meandering, or reeling in drunkenness” (Isa_28:7, “erred”). It also describes moral corruption (Pro_5:23, “to go astray”). It is also translated sin in Lev_4:13, “sin through ignorance.”
Another word is ‘āwāh (H5753), which is equivalent to the Arabic ‘awaya, “to bend or twist,” and so reflects not only those ideas but also to “distort” and “pervert,” whether intentional or not. Men pervert what is right (Job_33:27; Jer_3:21) and commit “iniquity,” which is to bend God’s revelation (Psa_106:6). The word ‘āwōn (H5771), which appears more than 230 times, speaks of Israel choosing to return to the “iniquities of their forefathers,” that is, twisting and perverting God’s Word to “[go] after other gods to serve them” (Jer_11:10). This word is also translated sin in 1Ki_17:18, where a widow speaks to Elijah in fear that her son died because she bent or distorted some requirement.
One other word for sin is peša‘ (H6588), which appears over ninety times to indicate “willful deviation from, and therefore rebellion against, the path of godly living” (e.g., Isa_58:1; Isa_59:12; Amo_5:12).
Is there now any doubt as to the answer to the question, “Is the issue of sin really all that important?” Indeed, sin is the problem, salvation is the provision, and the Savior is the path. After salvation, however, is sin still a problem? Positionally no, but practically yes. While we are freed from the bondage of sin as the rule of life (Rom_6:1-7), “the flesh” (“our selfish properties,” sarx, G4561) still rears its ugly head and wars within us (Romans 7). Thankfully, we can have victory over this by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8), and we have the assurance of forgiveness through confession when we do sin (1Jn_1:9).
Scriptures for Study: Read David’s prayer of confession and restoration (Psalms 51). Note the words for sin in Psa_51:1-4 : “transgressions” (peša‘), “iniquity” (‘āwōn), “sin” (chattā’t, a derivative of chātā’), and “sinned” (chātā’). Praise God today for His forgiveness (April 16).
2 Samuel 7:18-29
“Then went king David in, and sat before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” 2 Samuel 7:18.
When God established His covenant with David, He reminded him that, when God chose David, he was simply a humble shepherd keeping sheep. It was God’s idea to elevate him from a keeper of sheep to the king of Israel. David realized that he had done nothing to promote himself to his position of prominence and did not deserve this kind of recognition. He rightly asked, “Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” (2 Sam. 7:18).
In today’s culture, it is easy to cultivate an attitude of entitlement. Success and fame are almost expected by everyone and certainly are pursued by the majority of people. This attitude goes against the grain of Christianity because, in Christ, we begin with an understanding that we are not entitled.
Jesus came to this earth precisely because we are unable to help ourselves and none of us deserves Heaven. We only enter into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ after we have realized our desperate circumstance. David realized his humility, and we need to take note. The next time you are tempted to boost your own pride or take credit for anything good that has happened to you, take a cue from David and, instead, lift up God in praise. None of us deserves to be called the children of God, and, yet, He still reaches out to us and lifts us up from the pit.
JUST A THOUGHT
Will you deflect praise to God today?
yāḏa‘ [and] hālal
The old Scottish (Genevan) Psalter of 1551 affectionately and respectfully refers to Psalms 100 as “Old Hundredth.” The first stanza declares:
All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.
Here “is one of the every-day expressions of the Christian church,” writes Charles Spurgeon in The Treasury of David, “and [it] will be so while men exist whose hearts are loyal to the Great King. Nothing can be more sublime this side of heaven than the singing of this noble psalm by a vast congregation.” Today we consider a fourth way to praise God according to “Old Hundredth.”
The words “Know . . . that the LORD he is God” (Psa_100:3), show us that we praise God by increasing our knowledge of Him. Know is yāḏa‘ (H3045), which appears more than 900 times and has a wide range of meanings concerning knowledge acquired by the senses, “to know relationally and experientially.” It is similar to the Greek ginōskō (G1097), “to know by experience,” and often is practically synonymous with love and intimacy (Mat_1:25), as well as the personal relationship the believer has with Christ (Php_3:10; 1Jn_2:3; 1Jn_2:5; cf. Mat_7:23).
Yāḏa‘, then, first appears in Gen_3:5, where Satan tells Eve that eating of the forbidden tree would enable her to know good and evil. Gen_3:7 goes on to say that Adam and Eve knew they were naked. It also speaks of sexual intimacy (Gen_4:1) and even its perversion, such as homosexuality (Gen_19:5). Spiritually, not only does yāḏa‘ speak of God knowing us (Gen_18:19; Deu_34:10), but also of our knowing Him. While the lost do not know God (Jer_10:25; Job_18:21; Joh_17:25), the believer does, and that knowledge is to increase and grow. The psalmist desired to understand and know God’s Word (Psa_119:125). Solomon wanted “to know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding” (Pro_1:2) and then added, “Teach [yāḏa‘] a just man, and he will increase in learning” (Pro_9:9). Peter likewise declares, “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2Pe_3:18).
Scriptures for Study: In what does true knowledge result (Psa_9:10)? What does Psa_44:21 declare about God?
Continuing our look at Psalms 100, we note the second and third ways to praise God in this wonderful “psalm of praise.”
Psalm 100:1A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Second, “Serve the LORD with gladness” (Psa_100:2). Many in modern church ministry think “praise and worship” is reserved for the church building and is comprised of singing and other “religious” exercises. The psalmist tells us, however, that praising God is extremely practical. Serve is ‘āḇaḏ (H5647), a verb that appears almost 300 times, the first of which is in Gen_2:5 (“till”) and 15 (“dress”), where God gives Adam the task of taking care of the garden. It is found repeatedly, then, to portray labor on one’s own behalf (e.g., Gen_4:2; Isa_19:9) or for another person (e.g., Gen_29:15; Exo_1:14).
This tells us something astounding: We can praise God no matter what we are doing. That is precisely what Paul meant when he wrote, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1Co_10:31). Dear Christian, do you dedicate each day’s activities to God? Do you do everything with the attitude that you are praising Him in it? Does the outcome of all your labor give praise and glory to Him? Do you take “gladness” in it (śimchāh, H8057, “joy, rejoicing, pleasure,” July 20)?
Third, “Come before his presence with singing” (Psalm 100:2). Singing is renānāh (H7445), which appears only three other times (Psa_63:5, “joyful”; Job_3:7, “joyful”; Job_20:5, “triumphing”) and literally means “cry of joy.” It is derived from the verb rānan (H7442), “to sing or shout joyfully.” As one might expect, half of its some sixty occurrences are in the Psalms, but another fourteen are in Isaiah. What do we have to sing about? We “rejoice in [our] salvation” (Psa_20:5), “sing aloud of [God’s] mercy” (Psa_59:16), rejoice in His “help” (Psa_63:7), “sing” about His righteous judgment and government (Psa_67:4), and much more.
As Paul declares, there is nothing more indicative of the Spirit-filled life than the expression of song (Eph_5:18-19). Despite popular teaching, music must not be the foundation of church ministry or even the major emphasis. It’s not even mentioned, in fact, in Act_2:42, which lists the activities of the early church; the primary emphasis was doctrine. Singing (not just instrumental music but singing) is important, however, for its purpose is to be a restatement of doctrine. Oh, that we would seek depth in our church music!
Scriptures for Study: What do we have to sing about in Pro_29:6? What is the object of our singing in Isa_24:14?
hālal [hālal yāh]
Another predominant theme in Scripture, as well as an integral part of worship, is praise. So central is this activity that we will consider it over the next few days.
The most general Hebrew word for praise is hālal (H1984), from which we get the English Hallelujah; the Greek allēlouia (G239) is a transliteration of hālal with the addition of Yāh (H3050), a shortened form of “Yahweh” (Yehōwāh, H3068, January 8). Hālal yāh, then, means “praise ye Yah,” which occurs some twenty-six times in the book of Psalms. Except for Psa_135:3, it always appears at the beginning or ending of a Psalm, “suggesting that it was a standardized call to praise in temple worship.” (We should interject, as one Hebrew authority insists, while “this word is sometimes spelled alleluia in modern hymnals, in imitation of the mode of spelling that found favor in medieval times . . . The letter H ought certainly to be restored at both ends.”)
Significantly, the original picture in hālal was “to shine,” even “the giving off of light by celestial bodies.” Job used it poetically, for example, as he “beheld the sun when it shined [hālal]” (Job_31:26). Similarly, the Greek doxa (G1391), which is usually translated “glory,” includes the idea of “radiance” (although those concepts were added to doxa in the NT and are foreign to secular Greek).
Hālal ultimately came to mean “to praise, celebrate, commend, or even boast.” Appearing more than 160 times, it sometimes refers to praising of people, such as when the princes of Egypt “commended” Sarah’s beauty (Gen_12:15, the first occurrence of hālal) and when a husband praises his virtuous wife (Pro_31:28).
It is, of course, when used of God (its most frequent use) that hālal takes on its greatest significance. Scripture is permeated with this theme. It is noteworthy that its first appearance in reference to praise of God is in 2Sa_22:4, where David praised God for delivering him out of the hands of Saul, also calling God his Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Shield, Salvation, Tower, and Refuge (2Sa_22:2-3). Is that not, indeed, cause for praise? This song of praise, in fact, is virtually identical to Psalms 18.
Not only do men and angels praise and commend God, but even nature itself does so (Psalms 148). All that we do should praise God (1Co_10:31), even the playing of musical instruments (Psalms 150), and such praise is therefore constant (Psa_34:1; Psa_35:28; Psa_44:8).
Scriptures for Study: In preparation for the next few days’ readings, read Psalms 100 and meditate on praising God in everything.