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Psalms 79: Keeping in Context

Psalms 79 is a little bit gruesome because we see the consequences of Israel failing to follow God. Personally, I’m not sure what time exactly is being described in this chapter because Israel was conquered a few times, but the point is that this was not a happy time.

Listen to what the writer, Asaph, has to say in response to this consequence that God has allowed to happen.

Psa 79:8  O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.

Psa 79:9  Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.

If I didn’t tell you, you might have thought that this was a New Testament passage. It doesn’t sound all that much different. God is our salvation, and when He forgives us of our sins, He will never remember them again.

However, there is an interesting difference. In this verse, he seems to be largely talking about the physical salvation of Israel. The entire structure of the chapter begins on the physical overrunning of Jerusalem, then we get to the verses I mentioned about needing salvation, and we finally get around to asking God to help avenge the blood of those who had fallen.

This is a very physical type of chapter. This is the type of prayer that you pray when you are in a very difficult situation. Even if you had made some bad decisions that led you to your current location, you can still bring that to God for His help and strength.

Of course, we could spiritualize these verses like I said before. It does sound a lot like some of the spiritual salvation verses that we find in the New Testament, but I would be cautious about doing that. It does not seem to fit the greater context of the chapter, and we want to make sure that we are not reading things in that really are not there.

You all know that I enjoy apologetics, and one of the biggest issues we have in that field is when opponents take Bible verses out of context and “proof text.” We want to make sure that we are not doing that on our side either. Certainly, God is a God who does provide spiritual salvation, but if I was looking for a verse to support that claim, I would not use this one necessarily. This chapter is about a man praying for physical deliverance and salvation from literal captivity.

2 Samuel 5: Did David Really Hate the Blind and Lame?

In 2 Samuel 5, we see that today is the day where David finally takes over Jerusalem which becomes known as the city of David.

2Sa 5:6  And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither.

This is a somewhat perplexing passage because it seems like we’re literally talking about the blind and lame. However, look at who’s talking. This is what the Jebusites are saying to David. Many people use this as a justification for the belief that David hated people with disabilities.

If you take in the statement and reword it slightly, you can see how it would easily be understood as “if we keep the blind and the lame, you will not get in here.” Basically, they are taunting him. They are saying that unless you take away every last one of our defenders, even the weakest ones, there is no way you’re getting in here. Even blind and the lame could easily defend such a magnificent stronghold.

2Sa 5:7  Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.

2Sa 5:8  And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.

I am sure that this is where many critics who go in response to what I just wrote. This verse quite frankly says that the lame and the blind are hated by David. How would I answer that?

It actually is not very difficult to answer.

Remember, this is what David is saying this to his men. They all knew that they had been taunted by the people of the city. They all knew that the people of the city had said that the lame and blind could keep the armies of Israel away. David is basically said, “Okay, let’s see them (their blind and lame) try it.” Basically, he was using their misplaced confidence as a motivational tactic for his men. He hated the men that taunted him, and in this case it was the men who defended the city. The men who defended this city said that the blind and lame could do it. Therefore, David was saying that if this is actually the case and the blind and the lame are really defending that wall, let them try to hold us off.

David hated them because they taunted the children of Israel and God. He did not hate them because they had disabilities, and from what I can tell, we really do not even know if there were any defenders with disabilities. It seems as if this was largely a taunt thrown down by the inhabitants of Jerusalem which was then turned into a motivational technique by David.

This passage is attacked by critics, but that is generally the result of proof texting. If you take a few words out of context, it might not make any sense, but think about the bigger picture.

Judges 9: Why Does a Good God Allow Evil?

Today is going to be an interesting day on this blog because there was a verse in Judges 9 that I think needs addressing. I might be getting in over my head theologically, but I’m going to try.

Jdg 9:23  Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:

Surely, you can see why some people might have a problem with this passage. How could God send an evil spirit? If He is all good, how could He possibly send something that is evil? It might be even more important to wonder why God would send (if that is even what it means) an evil spirit.

First things first, I want you to know that I am using the King James Version above. You might wonder why that matters.

All of us need to remember that the Bible we read today is a translation from Hebrew. Because I am using computer software from e-Sword, it allows me to see the original Hebrew word.

The word here was ra’. This word was used a variety of different contexts. For example, it can be used to mean morally wrong like you might have initially thought when reading through this verse giving the English connotation of evil. However, it can also mean simply bad. In that case, it has been used to mean things like adversity.

It is entirely within the character of God to bring about adversity. For example, He put Jonah in a giant fish thanks to his disobedience. You could definitely call that adversity. In fact, the Bible itself describes the storm that Jonah was in as evil in Jonah 1:8, and the identical Hebrew word is used in that verse as well.

Now, let’s think about why Jonah was in trouble. I already mentioned it was because of his disobedience. He was supposed to go to Nineveh to bring about repentance, and he was afraid because he thought the people there would harm him. Since he didn’t want to go to Nineveh, he hopped on a boat going the opposite way thinking he could get away from God. You know how the story ends.

What if we compare that to what happened in Judges 9?

Abimelech was the son of Gideon, and he certainly had ambition. He wanted to be in charge of Israel, so he decided that the easiest way to get to the top would be to murder all of his siblings. He killed 70 of them, and only Jotham escaped.

Wait a minute. Did you catch what happened there? He sinned deliberately to do what he wanted to do. He didn’t care which one of the siblings God wanted to be King or if God wanted to do something else altogether; he thought he could make up his own plans.

As a result, God intervened to correct what was happening. With Jonah, He turned him around and made him go preach in Nineveh with spectacular results. With Abimelech, He brought down the dynasty that had been developed through evil means. God brought about these storms to correct what was going wrong.

If you take away nothing else from what I have read today, please realize that people cannot just pull a few verses out of the Bible and say it is wrong. For example, if you looked only at that passage from Judges in the King James Version, it would not be hard to imagine someone taking out of context and saying that God is evil in the sense of being morally evil. Obviously, that would be an incorrect assumption.

God does allow storms to come into our lives to bring us back on track like He did with Jonah, and He even allows trials into our lives to make us stronger. Think about Paul on the road to Damascus. That was certainly a difficult time, but it helped turn Paul into one of the strongest writers and missionaries in the early church. There is no evil intent from God but rather adversity that helps us become greater forces for God.

Joshua 15: Stay in the Context

I wanted to know more about the end of Joshua chapter 15. Let me give you the final verse.

Jos 15:63  As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.

I found it somewhat interesting that there was a city that was able to hold up against the children of Israel. Because of this, I went and did a little research about why God would allow the children of Israel not to be able to conquer the city.

When I found out was that there was basically a timing difference. If we fast forward to the next book in line, it is pretty evident that the tribe of Judah would eventually prevail.

Jdg 1:8  Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire.

However, even that victory was short-lived because during the time of David, the Jebusites still had control of part of Jerusalem.

2Sa 5:6  And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither.

2Sa 5:7  Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.

While I find this incredibly interesting, I think that the more valuable lesson for me came from Biblical research. In general, when people decide not to believe the Bible, they find one verse and take it entirely out of context.

I think that that could happen with my original verse from Joshua.

However, when you view the entire Bible as a unit, it is not hard to see how this was is simply a timing difference. I think that is a good thought for today. Don’t proof-text, and beware when people start to do it.