February 22, 2011

Bible in 90 ~ Week 7 ~ Hmmmmm...

I crossed the halfway point this week!  It's not been easy, though.  The kids have been sick.  I've been up in the middle of the night.  The books I've read this week weren't connected to anything else, so it was very hard to stay "interested" so to speak.  But I stick with it because I know it's a blessing to the Lord.  And I ask Him to meet me there in my weakness and fill me with His word.

This week I read through the second half of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. I struggled with these not only because much of this section is random (for lack of a better word) phrases or isolated paragraphs, but also because much of it is figurative and that's not something I comprehend without thinking through it, especially because I know pretty much nothing about Hebrew culture of 500BC!  I have also learned about myself that I really am just more encouraged by seeing God work in situations, and these books don't really have a context offered.  (I think when I do this reading style again, I'm going to buy a Chronological Bible and divide it into my own reading for 90 days.  That would make these passages come alive and make sense.)  I don't tell you any of this to be complaining, but to keep it real.

*** I think I should put this disclaimer before the rest of this post... ***
The remainder is loaded with theological questions, and I don't intend to make anyone stumble if this is all one ever reads on my blog.  I just think it's worth thinking about, but if you don't have a strong foundation of faith in the Almighty God, the God of the Old and New Testament, I think I'd leave this alone for now!  

I think one other question that keeps coming to my mind is this: Just because it's in the Bible, are these promises for me, are these thoughts I should have?  I know the Lord loves David, and I know David was inspired by the word of God to write many of the Psalms, but does that mean that I can claim the promises David thought were correct about God?  See, it's all well and good to pray this prayer from Psalm 139 as David did:
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well. 
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 

That makes me feel great and I think many of us would claim that as a statement of theology as if God spoke it Himself.

But how would you feel if you were in my small group and I started quoting this one from Psalm 109 during my closing prayer?

1 My God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, 2 for people who are wicked and deceitful have opened their mouths against me;
   they have spoken against me with lying tongues. 
3 With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. 4 In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer. 5 They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship.
 6 Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy; let an accuser stand at his right hand. 7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him. 8 May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. 9 May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. 10 May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. 11 May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. 12 May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. 13 May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. 14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
   may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. 
15 May their sins always remain before the LORD, that he may blot out their name from the earth.
 16 For he never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the poor
   and the needy and the brokenhearted. 
17 He loved to pronounce a curse— may it come back on him.
He found no pleasure in blessing— may it be far from him. 
18 He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water,
   into his bones like oil. 
19 May it be like a cloak wrapped about him,like a belt tied forever around him. 20 May this be the LORD’s payment to my accusers, to those who speak evil of me.

See what I mean?  That's not one anyone would claim as something right from God's mouth, not the God of the New Testament anyway.  I know it's comforting to read these emotional poems that David wrote to God.  And I know it's nice to believe that everything David thought about God was true, but is it?  David clearly had some misperceptions in his life!!  So how do I decide which of these poems are the ones I should pray as well?  How do I decide which of the Proverbs were just Solomon's ideas and which ones are "promises" I can claim and put my faith in?  What makes it okay to own some verses of scripture and not others?  

Maybe this is why Psalms is not a book that brings me comfort like so many other people I know, though I ceratiainly don't think there's anything wrong with that.  I myself wrote a whole post last week on Psalms that comforted me!  I guess because I'm pretty black and white and like proof, I just like putting my cards in the scripts where God was an active role playing member (documented, I mean, not just understood) and what he said and did was written down on paper... no confusion there!   I'm sort of just playing Devil's advocate in opposition to the other side of my brain.  I'm certainly not questioning my faith in the inspired word of God, and I do believe that every word is in the Bible because God wanted it there, but I think this is worth looking at.
Any thoughts?


Kjirstin C said...

Wow! I've had many of those same thoughts. I don't have any answers, but just thought I'd let you know you're not alone in those questions. I'm still so encouraged by your persistence in this, thanks for being such a great example.

Anonymous said...

Any thoughts, well they are abundant and too many for this space, but the first thought is that the God of the New Testatment is the same as the God of the Old Testatment. There is one God and one alone. He does not change. Both of the Psalms passages you quoted are beautiful. They perhaps exclaim different characteristics of God, but they are beautiful. God's justice is as beautiful as his love. Both are parts of who God is. We cannot take one without the other or we lose a true picture of who God is.