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Jason Silver

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Thoughts and Reflections on Scripture

2020

January

January

Friday, January 24th, 2020
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When I read Psalm 91, it sparks my imagination of what it might be like to have super-human powers!

It says that an individual who shelters in the shadow of Almighty God will be immune from sickness, invincible to arrows, avoid traps, and sidestep destruction! Their enemies will fall all around them, while they survive without even a mark! Invisible angels will guard this super-hero, preventing evil from even touching them! Poisonous snakes are no concern, neither are hungry lions!

Imagine that!

It reads like a secret booklet of knowledge that ancient warriors might use. I can picture them memorizing the words, to be recited when they need to be protected.

In fact, that's not far from reality!

Between the third and eighth centuries, this psalm was written inside amulets by both Jews and Christians. It was used as a kind of talisman for protection.

Even before that, the Talmud calls this psalm the "song of plagues" (shir shel pega'im or shir shel nega'im), for "one who recites it with faith in God will be helped by Him in time of danger". Apparently, "Since the times of the Geonim, this psalm was recited to drive away demons and evil spirits." According to midrashim, the psalm references many types of demons that threaten man, including the "Terror", "Arrow", "Pestilence", and "Destruction" mentioned in verses 5 and 6.

While I'm opposed to using scripture like a secret spell, the fact is, God does care about his children, and he has promised to protect us from harm! These verses are not magic, but they certainly are a reminder to what we expect from God. Anything is possible to Him! He cares deeply for each of his children.

However, I think the key to this Psalm is found in the last verse: God will show us his salvation. We should think carefully about who our biggest enemy is, and what me most need to be saved from. Perhaps we most need to be saved from ourselves: our deceits; our pride; our stubbornness; our anger and hatred?

Oh Lord, we make your our refuge and fortress! Save us as you have promised we pray!

Amen.

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Friday, January 17th, 2020
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When I was a kid, there were a few times in which I put God to the test. I told Him that if he would only show himself to me physically, then I would believe in Him! I bargained with God, saying "Wasn't my belief in him worth such a display?"

I could not understand why He wouldn't just do what I asked him to do.

Have you ever cried out to God, begging for proof? It may seem insolent, but I think it's pretty common.

The strange thing about thinking you need proof in order to have faith, is that the two are not compatible with each other. The very definition of the word is "strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual understanding rather than proof."

Let's talk a bit about proof and faith, because I can hear some people saying, "I DO have proof of my faith in the way God has moved in my life, or done this or that."

In one sense, that's true: as I rely on my faith more and more, in other words, as I exercise it, this faith grows and deepens. You might say, "Isn't this a type of proof?" However, each person must build their own faith for themselves; I can't bestow my faith upon someone else by sharing my experiences (though this may encourage a person to try exercising faith for themselves). It's not like a mathematical or scientific proof that cannot be argued with.

Another problem with proof is that it's not always as convincing as we hoped it to be. For example, if we look at the children of Israel, it didn't seem to matter how much proof they were given, their faith always waned. Their hearts still longed for evil. As it says in verse 9, the ancestors of Israel put God to the proof, even though they had seem his works!

God says through the psalmist, "So don't harden your hearts! Come, sing to me! Give me thanks!"

Will you join with me in singing to our Lord?

Amen.

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Friday, January 10th, 2020
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"Out of the depths I cry to you."

This is the first line of Psalm 130, and a really vivid image of desperation. The depths of despair is a well-known alliteration; I think mostly because it's so apt! We've all been there: full of sadness, in an ocean of pain, a chasm of hopelessness. Depth is the perfect word!

Sometimes it takes us hitting the "depths of despair," before we decide to cry out to God! The temptation to depend upon our own strength is great, until we're forced to admit our strength is not enough.

I love the honesty this writer shows in evaluating his own worthiness: he realizes that if God was counting our mistakes, no one could ever please Him. He states that none could stand before him, which is a legal term meaning that none could claim innocence or guiltlessness. But innocence is not required. Fortunately for us, God's forgiveness is waiting for those who ask for it!

What a reason to praise him! He forgives us, even though we don't deserve it!

I love the way this Psalm ends! The Psalmist looks to the future, and makes the bold claim that God WILL forgive Israel from all sin! From this side of the ressurection, we now know that forgiveness is available, not just to Irael, but to the whole earth.

Are you at the bottom of a chasm? Have you finally reached the depths, and come to the place where you can admit your weakness? Do you see your own guilt? If so, what are you waiting for? Forgiveness is there for the taking! Turn from your old ways and enter a new life of freedom and hope!

Amen

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