November 19, 2017: Afternoon Verse Of The Day


12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 15:12–14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

The Friends of Jesus Love Each Other

This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (15:12–13)

For the second time that evening in the upper room, Jesus gave the commandment that His followers are to love one another (cf. 13:34). Love is the fulfillment of the commandments Jesus had referred to in 15:10. Paul expressed that same principle to the Christians at Rome:

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom. 13:8–10)

Only those who abide in Him have the capacity to love divinely as Jesus loved. At the new birth, the “love of God [was] poured out within [their] hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to [them]” (Rom. 5:5; cf. Gal. 5:22). What Paul wrote concerning the Thessalonians, “Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another” (1 Thess. 4:9), is true of all Christians. Love for fellow believers characterizes the redeemed, as John repeatedly emphasized in his first epistle:

The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (2:9–11)

By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. (3:10)

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (3:14–15)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (4:7–8)

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. (4:20)

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. (5:1)

The daunting standard for believers’ love for each other is set forth in Jesus’ words just as I have loved you. They are to love each other as the Lord Jesus Christ loves them. That does not mean, of course, that believers can love to the limitless extent or in the perfect manner that He does. But just as Jesus loved sacrificially, so also must they. “Walk in love,” Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:2, “just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” The love believers have for each other is marked by a selfless devotion to meeting one another’s needs; it is not mere sentiment, or superficial attachment. In fact, Christians’ love for each other is the church’s most powerful apologetic to the unbelieving world (John 13:35).

The Lord’s death, at that point only a matter of hours away, was the supreme evidence of His love, as His statement Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends indicates. Jesus did not die for Himself, but so that others might live. In Romans 5:6–8 Paul wrote,

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

In a marvelously concise statement—only fifteen words in the Greek text—Paul summarized Christ’s substitutionary atonement for believers: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Peter reminded his readers that “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Echoing the Lord’s words in this passage, John wrote, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). Then the apostle expressed the practical implications of that truth: “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (vv. 17–18). The friends of Jesus Christ show their love for one another by humbly meeting each other’s needs.

The Friends of Jesus Obey Him

You are My friends if you do what I command you. (15:14)

The essence of sin is rebellion against God’s law. Samuel rebuked Saul for his failure to do what God had commanded him: “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22). Samuel then equated rebellion with sin: “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry” (v. 23). The New Testament also defines sin as rebellion. John wrote, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4; cf. Matt. 7:23; 13:41; 23:28; 2 Cor. 6:14).

Because all sin is rebellion against God, turning from sin necessarily implies obedience to God. A person cannot submit to God while at the same time openly rebelling against Him; the same life cannot be characterized both by lawlessness and obedience (1 John 3:6; 5:18). Thus, obedience and faith are closely linked throughout Scripture. Conversion takes place when those who “were slaves of sin” become “obedient from the heart” (Rom. 6:17). Acts 6:7 describes the salvation of “a great many of the priests” as their “becoming obedient to the faith.” Those who “will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:9) are “those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (v. 8). Peter also defined unbelievers as “those who do not obey the gospel of God” (1 Peter 4:17). Paul declared that the goal of his apostolic ministry was “to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles” (Rom. 1:5; cf. 15:18; 16:26). The heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11 demonstrated the reality of their faith by their obedience. So closely is obedience related to saving faith that Hebrews 5:9 uses it as a synonym for faith: “Having been made perfect, [Jesus] became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.” Peter wrote that believers were “chosen … to obey Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:1–2). John 3:36 also equates believing with obeying, noting that “he who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” When informed that His mother and brothers were looking for Him, Jesus replied, “ ‘Who are My mother and My brothers?’ Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, ‘Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother’ ” (Mark 3:33–35).

W. E. Vine points out another link between faith and obedience:

Peithō [to obey] and pisteuō, “to trust,” are closely related etymologically; the difference in meaning is that the former implies the obedience that is produced by the latter, cp. Heb. 3:18, 19, where the disobedience of the Israelites is said to be the evidence of their unbelief.… When a man obeys God he gives the only possible evidence that in his heart he believes God.… Peithō in N.T. suggests an actual and outward result of the inward persuasion and consequent faith. (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words [Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1981], 3:124)

Obedience, of course, does not earn salvation. Salvation is solely “by grace … through faith … not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). God “saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Paul, who so strongly emphasized the connection between saving faith and obedience, also wrote, “By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight … For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom. 3:20, 28; cf. Gal. 2:16). He based his hope of salvation solely on being “found in Him, not having a righteousness of [his] own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil. 3:9).

Obedience is not the means of salvation, but it is the inevitable result; it is the proof that a person has a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. The branches that abide in Christ, the true vine, will inevitably bear fruit (see the exposition of 15:1–11 in the previous chapter of this volume); His sheep hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:27); true disciples obey His Word (John 8:31). Good works save no one, but a faith devoid of them is dead and cannot save (James 2:14–26; cf. Eph. 2:10).[1]

No Greater Love

John 15:12–14

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”

There is something charming about the word “friend” or “friendship.” It is due partly to our desire for a close friend or friends and partly, too, to our remembrance of them. We look to our past and can almost mark the major periods of our lives by friends we have had. We think of the friends who went to grade school with us and of the things we did with them. Perhaps at the point of going into high school we made different friends, and we think sometimes, not only of the friends, but of the adventures we had—sometimes adventures that the teachers or other authorities did not entirely appreciate. We have had college friends and those we have acquired later in life. We value friendship and know that we would be much impoverished if we had no friends at all.

It is this awareness that probably gives the verses to which we now come their special appeal, for in them the Lord Jesus Christ, the great incarnate God of the universe, speaks of friendship in terms of our relationships to him. He calls us friends, saying, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

Human Friendship

When Jesus says, “You are my friends,” it is evident that he is speaking to us on the human level in terms we can clearly understand. And he is doing so—we cannot fail to see it—so that we might contrast his friendship, which is great and perfect, to even the best of the other friendships we have known.

The best known of the biblical examples is the friendship between Jonathan, the son of King Saul, and David, the young hero of Israel. Jonathan was in line for the throne. But David was so evidently blessed of God that the people were saying that he should be the next king. Here was cause for great antagonism, antagonism between the apparent rights of the one and the supposed aspirations of the other. But there was no antagonism. Instead there was a great and beautiful friendship. It was a case in which each sacrificed in order to put the other’s interests ahead of his own.

Sometimes the love that exists between one friend and another leads to the ultimate sacrifice, to death. A friend of mine tells that as he was growing up he knew a man who in a sublime moment of self-sacrifice gave his life to try to save his grandson. The two were out in a boat on the Monongahela River in West Virgina, and neither of them could swim. The child, for one reason or another, fell overboard and was drowning. So the man jumped in after the child. Both drowned. But afterward when they found the bodies, the grandfather still had the young child clutched in his arms. He had been so anxious to save his grandson that he had not even opened up his arms to attempt to swim to save himself.

When we hear a story like that we tend to become silent, for we know that we stand before something sublime. It is the ultimate sacrifice, the sacrifice of one’s life. Because of such sacrifices we understand what the Lord is saying when he declares in clear reference to his own self-sacrifice: “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Friend of Sinners

On the other hand, it is not really fair to talk about Jesus’ sacrifice in merely human terms, for his death surpasses anything we can imagine. It may not happen often, but sometimes one human being will voluntarily die for another; still, this gift never equals or even parallels Jesus’ sacrifice. We see this when we reflect on Jesus’ death.

First, when we begin to reflect on Jesus’ death we recognize that his death was exceptional if only because Jesus did not have to die. That is not true of us. We are mortal. We must die. But Jesus was immortal and therefore did not have to die. Indeed, he was life itself; for he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). He could have come into this world, performed a full and varied ministry, and then have returned to heaven without ever having experienced death. On the other hand, of us it is said, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27). What does this mean in terms of self-sacrifice? Merely this. If you or I were to give our lives for someone else, while that would undoubtedly be a great and heroic sacrifice, it would nevertheless at best be merely an anticipation of what must eventually come anyway. We would simply be dying a bit sooner than normally. The Lord did not need to die under any circumstances.

Second, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ is exceptional in that he knew he would die. Again, this is not usually the case when a mere man or woman gives his or her life for another. Few who die in this way do so knowing in advance that they will die. Rather, it is usually the case that although the act is a risk and death is possible, they nevertheless think they may escape death while yet saving their friend. People take calculated risks and sometimes die, but they do not often die deliberately. Jesus by his own testimony deliberately went to the cross to die for our salvation.

There is another area in which the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for his friends shines brighter than any love of which we are capable. The text says that we are Christ’s friends and that he was going to give his life for his friends. But if we think of this closely and honestly, we must recognize that, when the Lord Jesus gave his life for us, strictly speaking we were not exactly his friends. True, he calls us friends. It is also true that we become his friends. But we become friends because of his act, because of his electing grace toward us manifesting itself in the atonement and in the ministry of his Spirit by which our natural rebellion against God is overcome and our hearts are drawn to love and serve Jesus. When he died for us, or (if we may push that even farther back) when in eternity past he determined to die for us, he did so while we were yet enemies or were forseen to be enemies. It was “while we were still sinners, [that] Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Here especially do we see the wonderful love of the Lord Jesus Christ. So long as we think of ourselves as being somewhat good in God’s sight we do not see it. But when we see ourselves as God sees us, then the surpassing worth of the love of Christ becomes evident.

It is this that leads up to the verse I have just quoted from Paul’s treatment of the human condition in Romans. The opening chapter of that book deals with man’s sin, showing how all men and women have possessed a certain knowledge of God but have turned from that knowledge in order to worship a god of their own devising. Paul says that a certain knowledge of the existence and power of God is disclosed in nature and in the consciences of all men and women. But we have rejected that knowledge. Paul says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles ” (Rom. 1:21–23).

There are certain consequences of this, as the chapter goes on to show. We have given up God. So, says Paul, in a certain sense God has given us up. He has given us up to certain consequences. Three times in this chapter we read that “God gave them over.” In every case, however, we are told what God gave them over to. This is important, for it is not as if God were holding the human race in his hand and then let go with the result that the human race simply drifted off into nowhere. If I let go of an object, the object falls. I have not given it up to nothing. I have given it up to the law of gravity, and the law of gravity draws it downward. In the same way, God gives us over to the sad consequences of our rebellion.

First of all, God has given us over to “sexual impurity” (v. 24). That is, when we turn our backs upon God, who is perfect in his purity, we inevitably become dirty spiritually.

Second, God has given us over to “shameful lusts” (v. 26). That is, the good affections we have and that we rightly cherish become warped because they are severed from their source. Love becomes lust. A proper sense of responsibility becomes the driving pride of personal ambition. Self-sacrifice becomes selfishness, and so on.

Third, God says that he has given us over to a “depraved mind” (v. 28). This means that we have developed a way of thinking that is antagonistic toward God so that we are constantly devising philosophies and actions that try to eliminate his presence from our lives.

These important verses from Romans give God’s assessment of the human race. He made us. More than this, he made us in his own image. But we have rebelled against him and defaced that image. Instead of God’s glory, we have advanced man’s depravity. Instead of his sovereignty, we have sought human autonomy. Instead of holiness, we have sin. Instead of love, hate. Yet, in spite of our depravity, Christ came to be our friend and prove his friendship by dying for us. As Paul states, “At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6–8).

Spiritual Death

There is one more reason why the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for his friends, seen in his death for us, is superior to all human loves. The death of the Lord was a spiritual death, whereas ours, if we are Christians, is only physical.

If we were to give our life for someone else, the death we would endure would be only physical. We cannot die spiritually in the place of another person. But that is precisely what Jesus Christ did. Death is separation. Physical death is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body. Spiritual death is the separation of the soul and spirit from God. This is what makes hell such a terrible place; those in hell are separated from God. And because God is the source of all good—all joy, peace, love, and other blessings—hell is the opposite. It is misery, unrest, hate, and so on. This is the separation that Jesus endured for us. He died physically also; that is true. His death was particularly painful and degrading. But the truly horrible aspect of his death was his separation from the Father when he was made sin for us and bore sin’s punishment.

This is the meaning of the cry wrung from his lips in that moment: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I do not know how to explain that. I do not know how it is possible for the second person of the Godhead to be separated from the first person of the Godhead, even for a brief time, as this was. But this is what happened as Jesus experienced ultimate spiritual death in order that we might never have to experience it. Love like that goes beyond our best understanding.

These truths and more are involved in Christ’s statement: “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” We read that and acknowledge its truth. But then we go on to say, “Yes, and greater love has no one at all—either man, devil, or angel—than that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, should die a spiritual death for us sinners.”

Do you know him as the One who demonstrated his love and friendship for you by thus dying? Is he your friend in that sense? If not, you are not yet truly a Christian. But you can be. You can find him to be your friend, indeed, a superlative friend. As the hymn says:

There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,

No not one! No not one!

You need only come to him, confessing your sin and acknowledging your need of him to be your Savior.

Friends of Jesus

There is one other question that arises from our text. I have asked, “Is Jesus your friend?” This is the question that emerges from verse 13 in which Jesus speaks of his love and, therefore, of his friendship for us. But in the next verse we have what might be called the other side of that question. It is, “Are you Christ’s friend?” Jesus suggests this when he declares, “you are my friends if you do what I command you” (v. 14).

I am glad the Lord put it as he did, for I suppose that if we had come to him and had asked, “Lord, you have shown yourself to be a friend to us; what must we do to be your friends?” Jesus could have answered, “You have my example of what a true friend is; do that.” But if he had said that, we would have been discouraged. How could you or I do that—love as he loves, give ourselves as he gave himself? It is impossible for us to die spiritually for someone else. If Jesus had required us to do all he did, it would be impossible to become his friend. But he did not say that. Instead, he put the requirements in our terms and on our level, saying, “You can be my friends if you will only do what I command you.” This means that we are to show our friendship to him by simple obedience.

Did I say “simple”? Yes, it is simple; but it is simple obedience, and this means that it must be active, continuous, and in all things. We see that our obedience must be active, for Jesus said, “You are my friends if ye do. …” Unfortunately some Christians talk about the Christian life as though it consisted largely in refusing to do certain things. If we fall into that way of thinking, we imagine after we have refused to drink alcohol, refused to play cards, refused to have extramarital sex, refused to cheat in business, and so on, that we have done a great deal. But we have not. We have obeyed negatively but not positively. Christ calls upon us to love one another, and that cannot be done except in very practical ways. We are also to pray. We are to worship with other Christians. Our lives are to be marked by good deeds. It would make a great difference in the lives of many Christians if, as they read their Bibles and pray each day, they would pause as part of their devotions to ask what practical things the Lord would have them do.

Second, our obedience should also be continuous. Jesus did not say, “If you do what I command and then quit” or “If you do it on Sundays” or “If you do it when you feel like it.” The verb is a present subjunctive meaning “If you are doing.” The idea is of continuous action, day after day, year after year. There is no vacation from being a disciple of the Lord.

Finally, our obedience is to be in all things, for he says, “If you do whatever I command you.” It means coming to him in love to do whatever he asks of us, not picking and choosing as some do, not exalting those aspects of the Christian faith we like and neglecting those we dislike. Rather it means coming with that yielded humility of mind and body that places us prostrate at his feet and asks from that position, “Lord, what will you have me do?” It is only when we ask that question and mean it that we find ourselves being lifted up to do the great errands of our king, and not as slave either, but rather as a friend of Jesus.

I asked earlier, “Is Jesus your friend?” Now I must ask, “Are you Christ’s friend by this definition?” God grant that you might be, to your own great joy and to the praise of his glory.[2]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2008). John 12–21 (pp. 156–160). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 1177–1182). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.


November 19, 2017: Morning Verse Of The Day

26–27 She is wise and gracious in her speech. She uses good, practical common sense in her discussions; and her instruction is reliable. The last phrase of v. 26 literally says “law of kindness” (tôrat ḥesed)—kind and faithful instruction comes from her. Finally, the wife’s supervision of the household is alert, as a watchman (v. 27).[1]

She is wise in her speech (v. 26)

She exemplifies all of the characteristics of wise speech taught in Proverbs. She is discreet. She doesn’t get her husband into trouble by saying foolish things (18:7; 20:19). Nor does she nag him (27:15). She builds up her husband and others with her kind words (15:4). She teaches her children and grandchildren (1:8; 31:1; Titus 2:3–5).[2]

26 It should be noted that nothing has been said so far about her speech, although this would seem to be very much in demand in view of her activities around the home. It occurs now in typical sapiential fashion: speech is associated with wisdom. The parallel to wisdom is significant. It is the “torah of kindness,” either the teaching about kindness or kindness with which she gives instruction. Unfortunately, we cannot determine exactly to whom she might give instruction, but it is probably to her children or her maidservants.[3]

31:26 opens her mouth … teaching of kindness. Her teaching of wisdom and the law is tempered with mercy.[4]

31:26 Although Proverbs has often used men as concrete examples of wisdom, the proverbs apply equally well to women, and the wisdom that God teaches in Proverbs can be well understood by both men and women (cf. note on 1:8).[5]

31:26 There is great contrast between this woman and the “contentious woman” mentioned earlier (19:13; 21:9, 19). The term “kindness” (hesed, Heb.) indicates she is able and willing to give moral and spiritual instruction to her children.[6]

31:26, 27 Any woman who opens her mouth with wisdom deserves praise, given all the information on the use and misuse of speech in the Book of Proverbs. A virtuous woman takes care to speak well (James 3:2).[7]

[1] Ross, A. P. (2008). Proverbs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, p. 250). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Newheiser, J. (2008). Opening up Proverbs (p. 179). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[3] Murphy, R. E. (1998). Proverbs (Vol. 22, p. 248). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Pr 31:26). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1191). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Pr 31:26). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 778). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

November 18, 2017: Evening Verse Of The Day

1  To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2  O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
3  Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 25:1–3). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

1–3 Distressed by his ever-present adversaries, the psalmist turns to the Lord in prayer. He is confident in coming to God, as is brought out by the emphatic “to you” and “in you” (also in MT), by the address of deity as “Lord” (= Yahweh) and “my God,” and by including himself among those who trust (“hope”) in the Lord (vv. 1–2). The psalmist thus creates a setting of joyful confidence in the Lord, who has not disappointed and will not disappoint those who trust in him.

The psalmist turns to the Lord in prayer with the attitude of submission and anticipation. The verbs (“lift up,” “trust”) have been carefully chosen as a means to enhance the atmosphere of confidence. With his whole being the psalmist turns to his covenantal God out of utter dependency on him. The close relationship between the Lord and the psalmist is set forth by the phrase “O my God.” To his God, who cares for him, he can come with confident expectation, as he draws close to him in prayer (“I lift up my soul,” cf. 86:4; 143:8).

The psalmist prays that the wicked will not overpower him (v. 2). From his perspective, evil cannot be victorious, because it is an insult to those who trust in the Lord. His eye of faith is fixed on his covenantal God, by whose promises he lives. Others have trusted and have not been disappointed (cf. 21:7; 22:4–5; 26:1; 31:6, 14; 52:8; 56:4, 11). For him, the “shame” or disgrace of God’s people leads to the exaltation of the enemies. Their shouts of triumph would hurt him deeply within his very being, marking him as one whose trust in the Lord was only outward. But he does not worry about this possibility, because he turns his attention to the godly and affirms their confident hope that they will receive God’s protection. But “the treacherous,” who have no regard for the Lord, receive their just reward for their faithlessness (v. 3b).[1]

25:1–3 First comes a prayer for protection. David’s enemies are never far away, it seems. So he looks to the Lord for help, acknowledging God as the sole object of his trust. David’s dual supplication is that he will never be disappointed for having trusted in Jehovah and that his enemies will never have occasion to gloat because God has failed His child. This is his prayer for all who depend on the Lord. As for those who deliberately deal falsely, he wishes them a full dose of shame.[2]

25:1 I lift up my soul. This is a vivid picture of David’s dependence (cf. Pss 86:4; 143:8).

25:2, 3 ashamed. The important phenomenon of shame for the wicked and no shame for the righteous returns (cf. a millennial expression of this great principle in Is 49:23).[3]

25:1–3 Expression of Trust. The psalm opens by expressing confidence in the Lord; the request of v. 2 is reaffirmed as assurance in v. 3.

25:1 lift up my soul. This Hebrew expression appears in Deut. 24:15; Prov. 19:18; Jer. 22:27; 44:14; and Hos. 4:8, where it is translated with terms such as “long,” “desire,” “set the heart on,” “be greedy,” “count on”; thus it is an idiom for “I direct my desire” (cf. Ps. 24:4; 86:4; 143:8).

25:2–3 To be put to shame (vv. 2, 3, 20) is to be publicly shown to have relied on a false basis for hope. The worshipers, who side with the genuinely faithful (I trust … wait for you), expect that their hope in the Lord has a worthy basis, while those who seek to harm them (enemies … wantonly treacherous, i.e., the unfaithful) have founded their hopes on lies.[4]

25:1 my soul See note on 24:4. The psalmist puts all his trust and hope in Yahweh.

25:2 let me not be put to shame The Hebrew word used here, bosh, often represents a result of misplaced trust (Job 6:20). In Isaiah, Yahweh declares the people of Israel will be shamed because they trust in idols (Isa 1:29) and other nations (Isa 20:5). Here, the psalmist prays that his trust in God will be validated.

25:3 Those who betray The term bagad, meaning “treacherous,” can mean “to betray” (Ps 73:15; Isa 21:2) or “to be faithless” (Hos 6:7; Mal 2:10–11). It is the opposite of righteous (Prov 11:3, 11:6).[5]

25:1–3 Let me not be ashamed is the opening and closing appeal of Ps. 25 (v. 20). Shame is the intended end of the enemies of God (35:26), but not of the faithful. who waits: Waiting on the Lord is the equivalent of hoping in Him (25:5; 40:1).[6]

[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 264–265). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 582). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 25:1–2). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 967). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 25:1–3). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 665). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

New study: decline in mainline church attendance linked to progressive theology


Church attendance for progressive denominations in free fall Church attendance for progressive denominations in free fall

This study was reported in the Weekly Standard, of all places.


A literal reading of scripture and faith in an interventionist God strengthen church attendance. According to a new academic study of what drives a mainline Protestant church to die out or succeed, preaching these two theological precepts makes all the difference.

The forthcoming article, entitled “Theology Matters,” confirms a truth universally acknowledged, or reasonably intuited anyway. The Christ-optional, Gospel-as-metaphor, liberal-progressive mainline Protestantism borne of our secular age keeps so loose a lock on wandering souls that they wander away—choosing boozy brunch, perhaps, over pew-sitting.

The authors, Drs. David Haskell, Kevin Flatt and Stephanie Burgoyne, used five years’ data gathered from 2,255 attendees of Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United Church of Canada parishes across the province of Ontario. (The United Church of Canada boasts an ongoing, unsurprising self-parody in an…

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27 Thanksgiving Quotes from Very Random but Awesome Authors

Here are 27 of the most random thanksgiving quotes you’ve ever seen from G.K Chesterton to Willie Nelson. But I like it that way. We can all learn from each other, yes?

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” Willie Nelson

“Beth ceased to fear him from that moment, and sat there talking to him as cozily as if she had known him all her life, for love casts out fear, and gratitude can conquer pride.” Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

“Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.” A.W. Tozer

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” H.A. Ironside

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” Maya Angelou

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” Alphonse Karr

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.” Thomas Merton

“Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

“We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.” Neal A. Maxwell

“Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle.” Ann Voskamp

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward

“Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks – I’ve got the sun in the mornin’ and the moon at night.” Irving Berlin

“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” Brené Brown

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” Henry Ward Beecher

“The poor man shuddered, overflowed with an angelic joy; he declared in his transport that this would last through life; he said to himself that he really had not suffered enough to deserve such radiant happiness, and he thanked God, in the depths of his soul, for having permitted that he, a miserable man, should be so loved by this innocent being.” Victor HugoLes Misérables

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” G.K. Chesterton

“Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation.” John Ortberg

“I think that real friendship always makes us feel such sweet gratitude, because the world almost always seems like a very hard desert, and the flowers that grow there seem to grow against such high odds.” Stephen King

“Be happy, noble heart, be blessed for all the good thou hast done and wilt do hereafter, and let my gratitude remain in obscurity like your good deeds.” Alexandre DumasThe Count of Monte Cristo

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” Thornton Wilder

The post 27 Thanksgiving Quotes from Very Random but Awesome Authors appeared first on ChurchLeaders.

10 Things You Should Know about Thanksgiving

1. Numerous nations celebrate a Thanksgiving holiday.

Many Americans consider Thanksgiving to be the quintessentially American holiday. It marks the beginning of our “holiday season,” a period that lasts into Christmas and through New Year’s Day. But many nations celebrate a Thanksgiving holiday, including Canada, Germany, and Japan. The Canadian Thanksgiving is influenced in many ways by the American version of the holiday.

2. George Washington was the first American president to call for an official Thanksgiving holiday.

Congress called for several days of thanksgiving during the Revolutionary era and the years shortly thereafter. Often, these days also emphasized the need for prayer and “humiliation” (repentance). In 1789, George Washington proclaimed November 26 to be the first official Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving is a secular holiday. . . but it is deeply rooted in biblical principles.

3. Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an ongoing federal holiday.

1863 was arguably the most important year of the Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on the first day of that year and the battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg were fought that summer. President Lincoln called for a Thanksgiving holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November, harkening back to Washington’s first Thanksgiving holiday at the same time of year. It has been celebrated annually ever since.

4. Thanksgiving is officially a secular holiday, but it is rooted in biblical principles.

Thanksgiving is a secular holiday that has no specific ties to the Christian liturgical calendar such as Easter and Christmas. However, Thanksgiving is deeply rooted in biblical principles. The Scriptures are replete with references to the place of thanksgiving in worship (Psa. 95:2; 100:4; 105:1-2), commands for believers to give thanks to God (Psa. 106:1; Col. 3:17; Eph. 5:18-20; 1 Thess. 5:18), and reflections on the importance of cultivating a disposition of thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2).

5. The Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in America—sort of.

Thanksgiving calls back to an Autumn harvest feast celebrated by the Pilgrims who colonized Plymouth Plantation (now part of Massachusetts) and the local Wampanoag tribe in 1621. The Wampanoag had helped the Pilgrims to survive by sharing food with them during the latter’s first winter in New England.

Squanto, a Patuxet man who lived with the Wampanoag, was as an advocate for the Pilgrims and served as an intermediary between them and the Wampanoag. It’s possible that Squanto was a convert to Christianity and that his faith was partly responsible for his kind disposition to the Pilgrims, even though he had previously been kidnapped and briefly enslaved by other English explorers.

6. How Americans have thought about that first Thanksgiving has changed over time.

As Robert Tracy McKenzie shows in his excellent book The First Thanksgiving the meaning of Thanksgiving has evolved over time. First of all, Americans mostly forgot about the Pilgrim-Wampanoag meal for over 200 years. From the mid-1800s on, Americans looked back to the first Thanksgiving as a defining moment in early American history.

By the early twentieth century, the Pilgrims were considered America’s founders and all sorts of elaborate pageants and traditions emerged to commemorate their first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims themselves became the most important icon for the real meaning of Thanksgiving, even as that meaning developed over time.

7. Every year, the President of the United States issues a Thanksgiving Day proclamation.

Since the Civil War era, every US President has followed the example of Washington and Lincoln by issuing an annual Thanksgiving Day proclamation. A nearly complete list of proclamations is available online. Reading through the proclamations shows how Presidents regularly reinterpreted the Pilgrims as quintessential Americans who offered moral lessons for contemporary citizens in any given year.

8. The President also pardons a turkey every year at Thanksgiving.

There are many stories of Presidents pardoning turkeys in honor of Thanksgiving, dating at least to the Truman Administration. However, Ronald Reagan offered the first official pardon in 1987. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush made the turkey pardoning an annual tradition. Most years, the pardoned turkey is donated to a petting zoo or farm.

9. Americans eat a lot of turkey at Thanksgiving.

According to the website Turkey Facts as much as 88% of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving. Around 46 million turkeys are eaten at Thanksgiving, which is about twice as much turkey as is eaten at Christmas. Over 730 million pounds of turkey are consumed annually and around 250 million turkeys are raised in the USA in any given year.

10. Americans also love football at Thanksgiving.

Football games have been played at Thanksgiving since the late-1800s. The Detroit Lions have hosted a Thanksgiving Day game almost every year since 1934, with the exception of World War II. The Dallas Cowboys have hosted a game nearly every year since 1966. Numerous college football teams play on or immediately after Thanksgiving, and the long weekend is especially identified with “rivalry games.” Informally, many communities host “Turkey Bowls” where amateurs from schools, churches, or civic groups compete in a football game, often to raise money for charitable causes.

This article is part of our 10 Things You Should Know series.

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Source: 10 Things You Should Know about Thanksgiving

One Member’s Resignation

The Elephant's Debt

Update 11:17:17Our most recent post regarding the David Wisen letter elicited a comment from a reader that struck us as a wise and grace filled response the the MacDonald crisis that we thought it was worth putting up as an independent post, as opposed to letting it languish among hundreds of other comments.

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The Fruits of Bethel Church – Ashamed of the Gospel, Flirting with the Occult.

Our good friend Rick Decker from ‘Famine In The Land’, continues with the third article in his series on the New Apostolic Reformation, examining the fruits of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry:

The false doctrines of Bethel church are well documented.  Word of faith heresy, prosperity gospel, dominion theology and mysticism are part and parcel of Bethel’s “gospel”   Bill Johnson & co claim to be agents for heaven invading earth; however the only invasion they are facilitating is that of false teaching in the visible church.  We examine the fruits of the Bethel School Of Supernatural Ministry based on an a testimony from a BSSM student which was published on the BSSM official school planting page.

The Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) is headed by false prophet Kris Vallotton,  “Senior Associate Leader of Bethel Church and co-founder of BSSM.”  Their mission is to “equip and deploy revivalists who…

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November 18, 2017: Afternoon Verse Of The Day


3 The Hebrew says, “Yahweh appeared to me” (contrast the NIV’s “to us” and the NASB’s “to him”); that is, the prophet receives the word as the representative and embodiment of the people of Israel as a whole (see Notes). The prepositional phrase mērāḥôq means “distant, remote,” either in time (NIV) or in space (NASB), the former being more appropriate in this context but the latter reflecting its primary usage. (According to Untermann [186, n. 47], it almost certainly refers to geographical distance, “since מרחוק [mrḥwq] never refers to time in the Bible,” despite the views of Rashi and Radak, found also in, for example, HALOT; Holladay; NJPS.) It was then, during the time of national infancy (cf. 2:2, with ḥesed and ʾaha, as here—the only occurrences of these nouns together in Jeremiah), that the Lord spoke to Israel.

Yahweh loved his people with an undying, unfading love—with ʾahabat ʿôlām, “everlasting love,” which stands in stark contrast to the other ʿôlām references of recent chapters; compare 20:11, “everlasting disgrace” (NASB); 20:17, “her womb enlarged forever” (Jeremiah’s wish that his mother’s womb be his perpetual tomb); 23:40, “everlasting disgrace” and “everlasting shame”; and 25:9, “an everlasting ruin.” The Lord’s love for Israel will outlast the shame, reproach, destruction, and judgment, and his hold on them—in those ancient days and again in the future—will be both tenacious and tender, drawing them with ḥesed, “lovingkindness” (GK 2876), using vocabulary clearly borrowed from Hosea 11:4a (specifically, ʾaha and mšk [GK 5432], and note the similar context there, beginning with Hos 11:1; for further parallels, see v. 9 with Notes). Elsewhere in Jeremiah mšk, “draw, pull,” occurs only one other time, in 38:13, where Jeremiah is pulled out of the cistern with ropes made of rags and worn-out clothes. In this verse, the NJPS translates with, “Therefore I continue [mšk] my grace to you,” but the primary OT usage of mšk along with the parallel in Hosea 11:4 argue against this.[1]

31:3 You is feminine singular, referring to the whole people (cf. v. 4). everlasting love. God’s love was always based on grace (Deut. 7:6–11), and even the involvement of the majority in Israel’s rejection of that love cannot cause this covenantal, relational love to cease (Hos. 1:10–11; 2:14–23; 11:1–9).[2]

31:3 from far away. This phrase probably carries forward the allusion to Sinai from the preceding verse (Ex. 19–24).

loved … everlasting love. The Lord’s love for Israel was the ground of His election of them (Deut. 7:6, 7). The everlasting character of the covenant is affirmed in Gen. 17:7.

faithfulness. See note 9:24; contrast 16:5. This verse provides another sign of the reestablishment of the broken covenant.[3]

31:3 Despite Judah’s rejection and apostasy, God loved them. The very foundation for the restoration of Israel is the love of God and His faithfulness in keeping His covenant. The word translated “of old” (merahoq, Heb.) may also be rendered “from afar,” i.e., from Zion where God is enthroned. His “lovingkindness” has prevented the destruction of this wicked and backslidden nation. “Lovingkindness” (hesed, Heb.) refers to God condescending in goodness to the needs of His people. The word translated “drawn” (mashak, Heb.) means “to draw,” “to drag,” or “to continue.”[4]

31:3 Of old, which may also be translated “from afar,” may refer to the betrothal days of Israel in the wilderness (2:1–3) or to the distant lands of Assyria and Babylon to which Israel and Judah had been exiled. The phrase everlasting love is paralleled with lovingkindness, which means “loyal love” or “covenant loyalty.” Out of His faithfulness to the covenants He established with Abraham and Moses, and out of His great love, God established the nation Israel for His glory and for hers. The Lord would also deliver His people from captivity and reestablish them by His love.[5]

[1] Brown, M. L. (2010). Jeremiah. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah–Ezekiel (Revised Edition) (Vol. 7, p. 383). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1428). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1097). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[4] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Je 31:3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (pp. 921–922). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

November 18, 2017: Morning Verse Of The Day

22 Emotions, affect on health. One’s psychological condition affects one’s physical condition: a healthy attitude fosters good health, but a depressed spirit ruins health. The antithetical idea, describing the two effects, stresses the importance of a cheerful heart. The first line presents the ideal: a “cheerful heart” (lēb śāmēaḥ) causes “good healing” (yêṭîb gēhâ; “is good medicine,” NIV). The heart, as with the spirit in v. 22b, refers to the mind, the psyche. A positive and healthy outlook on life brings healing. On the other hand, a “crushed spirit” (rûaḥ nekēʾâ), i.e., one that is depressed or dejected, has an adverse effect on the health of the body. “Bones” figuratively represents the body (encased in the bony frame); fat bones means a healthy body (3:8; 15:30; 16:24), but dry bones signify unhealthiness and lifelessness (cf. Eze 37:1–14).[1]

17:22 / Antithetic. It is a psychosomatic observation which describes the effect of the mind on the body. Verse 22a is similar to 15:13 (see Additional Notes).[2]

22 See Note 22.a. The first line is similar to 15:13 except that the uncertain “health” replaces “face.” In both cases there is a recognition of what we would call a psychosomatic unity. Inner dispositions affect the body in terms of well-being or its opposite. For similar observations, see 14:13, 30.[3]

17:22 Here again we learn that a person’s mental outlook has a lot to do with recovery from sickness or accident. A cheerful disposition is a powerful aid to healing. A broken, disconsolate spirit saps a person’s vitality.

In a footnote on this verse, the Berkeley Version comments: “Up-to-date therapy, unsurpassed.”

Today’s doctors tell us that a hearty laugh is great exercise. When you emit an explosive guffaw, they say, your diaphragm descends deep into your body and your lungs expand, greatly increasing the amount of oxygen being taken into them. At the same time, as it expands sideways, the diaphragm gives your heart a gentle, rhythmic massage. That noble organ responds by beating faster and harder. Circulation speeds up. Liver, stomach, pancreas, spleen, and gall bladder are all stimulated—your entire system gets an invigorating lift. All of which confirms what that sage old Greek, Aristotle, said about laughter more than 2000 years ago: “It is a bodily exercise precious to health.”

But not all laughter is healthful. Howard Pollis, a psychology professor at the University of Tennessee, reports that when laughter and smiling are used in an aggressive way—to sneer at, to ridicule, to embarrass—they are “nonhealthy” and can really do more harm to the laugher than the one who is laughed at.

A broken spirit dries the bones. Blake Clark agrees:

Emotions can make you ill. They can make hair fall out by the handful, bring on splitting headaches, clog nasal passages, make eyes and nose water with asthma and allergies, tighten the throat with laryngitis, make skin break out in a rash, even cause teeth to drop out. Emotions can plague one’s insides with ulcers and itises, give wives miscarriages, make husbands impotent—and much more. Emotions can kill.[4]

17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine Proverbs often speaks of the benefits of a happy frame of mind. Joy is encouraged, while anxiety and discouragement only weigh a person down (12:25; 15:13, 15; 18:14).[5]

17:22 The role of attitude and feelings in terms of physical health and well-being is only recently being given consideration by standard medical practitioners in the West. This proverb asserts that there is a relationship between attitude and health.[6]

17:22. As in 15:13, 15, 30; 18:14, one’s inner life affects his physical well-being. A cheerful heart translates two Hebrew words that are rendered “a happy heart” in 15:13. The word for medicine occurs only here in the Old Testament. A crushed spirit refers to being depressed or saddened (cf. 18:14). An example of a crushed spirit is a father’s grief over a wayward son (17:21). On the bones see comments on 3:8.[7]

[1] Ross, A. P. (2008). Proverbs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, p. 158). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Murphy, R. E., & Carm, O. (2012). Proverbs. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (p. 88). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Murphy, R. E. (1998). Proverbs (Vol. 22, p. 131). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 836). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Pr 17:22). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 764). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[7] Buzzell, S. S. (1985). Proverbs. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 943). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

November 17, 2017: Evening Verse Of The Day


14 “And-may-be-called his-name in-Israel.” Whose name is celebrated, Yahweh’s, Obed’s, or Boaz’s? This ambiguity mirrors that of 2:20; again, one cannot separate God and the redeemer(s) he provides (see Campbell, 163–64).[1]

4:14 / The women said: Aristotle discusses the functions of the Greek choros in Politics (New York: The Modern Library, 1943), line 1276b.

Who has not left you: For the polysemantic possibilities of shabat, see Moore, “Two Textual Anomalies in Ruth,” p. 242.[2]

14 אֲשֶׁר לֹא הִשְׁבִּית לָךְ גּאֵל הַיּוֹם, lit. “who has not caused to be lacking for you a redeemer this day.” This usage of השׁבית is rather unusual. When used with the preposition מן, it can mean “to remove from” (e.g., “yeast from houses,” Exod 12:15) or “to let (something) be lacking from” (e.g., “salt from grain offering,” Lev 2:13) or “to stop (someone) from doing (something)” (e.g., “people from working,” Exod 5:5). Without the prepositional phrase, it can mean simply “to remove” (e.g., “pagan priests,” 2 Kgs 23:5) or “to put an end to” (e.g., “the kingdom of Israel,” Hos 1:4). With this clear semantic range, the positive statement here would mean “he has put an end to/caused to be lacking a redeemer for you this day.” When the phrase is negated, such a meaning could be conveyed in English with a positive statement: “He has provided a redeemer for you” (cf. tev), but the common translation “he has not left you without a redeemer” is perhaps preferable, in that it has the same sense and preserves the negative connotation of the Hebrew.

The “redeemer” must be the newborn child. This is the most natural implication of the היום, “this day” (v 14b), and the statement in v 15b that it is Ruth who has borne him makes this mandatory, especially since it is clearly the “redeemer” who is the unexpressed subject of the preceding clause (15a). The word גאל, “redeemer,” is not used here in any of its technical senses but in the general sense in which he is described in v 15a, i.e., the one who restores Naomi’s life and sustains her old age (cf. the comments of Leggett, The Levirate, 259). This is the way the women of the story have used גאל previously; see Comments on 2:20; 3:9. There is nothing improper in applying such a general sense to a child who is the son of Naomi by a legal fiction (contra Sasson, 163–64).

A number of scholars, however, have argued that the redeemer referred to here is Boaz (e.g., Bewer, AJSL 20 [1903–4] 202–23; cf. the bibliography in Leggett, The Levirate, 255 n. 2). This conclusion is grounded in the view that גאל, “redeemer,” is being used here in a technical sense, i.e., the one who is called upon to perform the levirate marriage and so to provide an heir to the family line of Elimelech. This almost invariably goes along with the view that this is the major purpose of both Naomi’s scheme to prevail upon Boaz to marry Ruth and the legal proceedings instituted by Boaz at the city gate. Thus, Bettan states, “The reference is to Boaz, who fulfilled the obligation of a near kinsman; and this very day, having secured an heir for Mahlon, has given full effect to his office” (The Five Scrolls, 71). In a similar vein, Sasson (163) argues “the women were glorifying God not so much for his positive act in which a gôʾēl is created to care for Naomi’s needs, but for his intervention to prevent the end of Elimelech’s line.” Joüon (93) carries this view to the extreme by arguing that the term “redeemer” here refers to the newborn child and is “very nearly equivalent to (legal) heir, but with the nuance who redeems or delivers the name of the grandfather from oblivion.” Since the following phrase, ויקרא שׁמו בישׂראל, expresses result, “so that his name may be pronounced in Israel,” the name so pronounced must then be that of Elimelech. Consequently, according to Joüon, there is lack of harmony between the two clauses: he has not caused a גאל, “redeemer,” to be lacking for you, so that his name may be pronounced in Israel. Hence לך, “for you,” must not be authentic, and it must be emended to למת, “for the deceased,” “the alteration of which to לָךְ,” he avers, “could easily happen with a scribe swept along by the thought of Naomi whom the women are addressing!” But it is not some ancient scribe who has been swept along by the thought of Naomi and so read her into the text, but Joüon himself who has been swept along (as have others, including jb) by the view that redemption here can only refer to the responsibility of providing an heir for the line of Elimelech, and so read that concern into the text. It is exactly the same predilection that leads Richter (ZAW 95 [1983] 125) to conclude that the text of vv 14–15 is not in order (“for the child, not Boaz, is said to care for Naomi in her old age”). He feels that a “major conjecture” is in order and so posits that the word בית fell out of the text after השׁבית by haplography, subsequent to which some later scribe inserted לך גאל in order to supply the missing words! Changes must then also be made in v 15 so that the text can be made to present the women as praising Yahweh for maintaining the family line of Elimelech rather than for restoring Naomi to life and fullness. But surely such drastic emendation of a felicitous clause that is syntactically and semantically correct as it stands reveals that Richter is reading into the passage his hypothesis that “the true intent of the book is … to praise the faithfulness of a wife to her deceased husband and his family” (125). I must emphatically demur from such conclusions and unsupported emendations and insist that it is women and women’s concerns that occupy center stage here and that there is not a shred of evidence that their interest in this child relates primarily to the fact that Boaz has voluntarily pledged him as the heir of the patrimony of Elimelech in order to continue his family line. On the contrary, the neighbor-women are solely interested in the child because he will resolve the emptiness of Naomi’s life. This is unmistakably clear in the succeeding verses, for the function of the child as a redeemer is to become for Naomi “one who will restore your life and sustain you in your old age” (v 15a). And the reason given that this child can so redeem Naomi totally reflects women’s concerns and relationships. It is not expressed in terms that relate to his role of continuing by a legal fiction the family line of the deceased (such as המת יקום על־שׁם …, Deut 25:6), but, on the contrary, it is because of his maternity. It is because of Ruth’s proven commitment and fidelity that Naomi can count on this child to redeem her old age: “for your daughter-in-law who loves you has given him birth—she who is more to you than seven sons” (v 15b)!

וְיִקָּרֵא שְׁמוֹ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, “May his name be renowned in Israel.” The exact nuance of this expression is difficult. Its meaning depends on the answers to two questions: (1) What is the antecedent of the pronominal suffix “his” on “his name”? (2) What is the meaning of the idiom נקרא שׁמו? As far as the first question is concerned, “his” can refer to either the redeemer or Yahweh, both of whom have been mentioned in the previous clause. It is impossible that it can refer to the deceased (either Elimelech or Mahlon; contra neb; cf. reb), for he has not been mentioned or referred to in any way since v 10. Concerning the second question, it is rather clear that the idiom is not being used in the literal sense of “his name shall be called N,” an idiom that occurs in Gen 17:5; 35:10; Deut 25:10; Ezek 20:29; Dan 10:1 (and possibly 2 Sam 6:2 = 1 Chron 13:6). This latter idiom is the passive form of the active construction “he will call his name N,” e.g., in Gen 5:2, 3; 16:15 (see form § 2a in the analysis of the syntactic structures of name-giving formulas in Bush, “Ruth 4:17,” 8). Not only does this literal idiom make no sense in this context, but the idiom here is syntactically different at one critical point—no object of the verbal expression יקרא שׁמו, “his name is called,” is given; i.e., no name is expressed.

Loretz (ZAW 89 [1977] 125), however, does take the phrase as a name-giving formula. He concludes that the story must find its conclusion at 4:16 on the tenuous grounds that the point and purpose of the story are “the events concerning levirate marriage and the birth of the male child.” Hence, he proposes that the phrase here in v 14 must have originally read PN ויקרא שׁמו and the personal name was changed to בישׂראל when the names of Boaz and Obed were secondarily introduced into the narrative. However, apart from the utterly speculative nature of such views and the tenuous nature of the grounds upon which they are based, a name-giving formula cannot possibly fit the context of the final clause of v 14, where the women are praising Yahweh for providing a גאל, “redeemer,” who will restore Naomi’s life and provide for her old age.

Sasson (164–66) also notes the fact that the name is missing. But, observing that all the occurrences of the above idiom apart from our passage in Ruth have a proper name following, he argues that the same is likely here. Therefore the passage “may have originally included the personal name of the child who was to become Naomi’s gôʾēl” (166). Sasson uses this argument to buttress his hypothesis that 4:13–17 comprises two—not one—separate birth episodes. The first, to be found in vv 13–15, which he terms the “Gôʾēl” episode, describes a son born to Ruth and Boaz who is legally theirs and becomes Naomi’s גאל, “redeemer,” taking over the function from Boaz. The second, to be found in vv 16–17, which he terms the “Son” episode, describes a second son born to Ruth and Boaz, who is Naomi’s son and heir, fulfilling Boaz’s pledge to raise an heir to the line of Elimelech (158–61). But Sasson’s attempt to understand vv 13–15 as a birth and naming episode separate from vv 16–17 cannot be sustained. To do so, he seeks to understand vv 13–15 as an example of the “mixed” type of birth and namegiving etiology suggested by Long in The Problem of Etiological Narrative. In Sasson’s analysis of the text from this point of view (159), v 13 comprises the “Setting” and vv 14–15 the “Report of birth” (and the naming). However, the report of the birth surely occurs in 13c–d: “And when they came together, Yahweh caused her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son,” for which 13a–b is surely the setting: “So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife.” Further, v 14a–b cannot be interpreted as “An announcement by näšîm of the gôʾēl’s birth” (159). In the first place, the birth has already been reported in 13c–d, and second, the women’s statement does not have the form of an announcement. Rather, it is a word of praise to Yahweh for providing her with a גאל, “redeemer,” i.e., one who will care for family members in need (as the language of v 15 makes patently clear). Such a context precludes taking the meaning of the idiom יקרא שׁמו in the literal sense of giving a name (and Sasson does not so translate it!). The women here are not making an announcement of the birth of the גאל, “redeemer”; they are praising Yahweh for restoring life and fullness to Naomi, a setting within which the naming of the child (by Ruth or Boaz?) has no meaningful place. Finally and decisively, Sasson’s hypothesis reinterprets a pericope in which our author depicts with great power and touching humanity Naomi’s transformation from death and emptiness to life and fullness into a concern with meeting legal niceties, one son to continue the line of Elimelech and another to be the גאל, “redeemer,” that, in Sasson’s interpretation, Ruth requested from Boaz in 3:9.

Consequently, since the one critical, syntactical element necessary to understand the idiom נקרא שׁם as a name-giving formula is missing, namely, the object, the name, the idiom must be employed in another sense. It is not without point to note that we have already seen this absolute use of the idiom employed in the active mood in this very chapter (4:11). The idiom does occur in two other passages in the OT, Gen 48:16; Jer 44:26, but in both of these passages the meaning is not pertinent to the.usage here. Since there are no other uses of the verb קרא in the niphal stem (i.e., the passive) with שׁם, “name,” as the subject with which to compare our passage, it will be necessary to turn to the active use of the verb for which our idiom could be the passive reflex, i.e., the use of the qal stem of קרא with שׁם plus pronominal suffix (or plus nomen rectum) as the single object. Here we have a number of uses in which the idiom קרא שׁם means “to call out the name of” Yahweh, either in supplication (e.g., Lam 3:55) or in praise or celebration, i.e., “to proclaim his name” in the sense of “to extol, to celebrate his name” (see esp. Deut 32:3; Ps 99:6, and note the helpful comments of Campbell, 163). Since all the examples of this active use of the idiom have Yahweh as the subject, it may be that the passive form of the idiom here in Ruth 4:14 should be understood the same way, so that Yahweh would be the antecedent of the pronoun “his” in “his name” and the phrase would be virtually equivalent to “may his name be praised” (so njb), which could fit this context since the women began by praising Yahweh. However, the subject of both the preceding clause, 14a, and the following clause, 15a, is the newborn child. Since there is no indication of any change of subject here, it seems more natural to see the newborn child as the subject of this clause also. It is not impossible that such an idiom could be used of a human being, especially if “name” is used here in the sense of “fame, reputation” (see BDB, 2.b, p. 1028). I conclude then that the idiom as used here means “May his name be proclaimed [i.e., in the sense ‘renowned’] in Israel” (cf. BDB, 2.a, p. 896; KB3, 2.b, p. 1055). Finally, the term “Israel” here refers to the whole covenanted people of God, so that “the scope here has been greatly broadened, beyond local realities like Bethlehem and Ephrathah in 4:11, or political units like Judah and Israel as the southern and northern kingdoms” (Campbell, 163).[3]

4:14 the Lord … has not left you. In contrast to Naomi’s worst moments of despair (1:20, 21). a redeemer … his name. Refers to Obed, not Boaz (cf. 4:11), who cared for Naomi in her latter years.[4]

4:14 Blessed be the Lord. The women recognize that the Lord is the author of new life (v. 15; see notes on 2:4; 2:20) resulting from redemption. Calling the heir a redeemer indicates the one in whom redemption is realized.[5]

4:14 the women This group likely includes some or all of the same women who greeted Naomi and heard her complaint in Ruth 1:19–21.[6]

4:14. Naomi again moved to the center of the scene. The women of Bethlehem who had witnessed Naomi’s emptiness when she returned (1:19) now praised God that she had received a kinsman-redeemer. Had Naomi not been past the time of childbearing (1:12; 4:15) she might have been the one at the feet of Boaz that night on the threshing floor (3:7). The women knew this and they spoke of Boaz as the kinsman-redeemer of Naomi as surely as if she had gone there. They blessed Boaz with a blessing similar to that of the elders (cf. 4:11). They asked that Boaz be famous in Israel, a request that God granted. The Book of Ruth is filled with benedictions and blessings of Israel’s people (1:8–9; 2:4, 12, 20; 3:10; 4:11–12, 14–15).[7]

[1] Schwab, G. M. (2012). Ruth. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Numbers–Ruth (Revised Edition) (Vol. 2, p. 1346). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Moore, M. S. (2012). Ruth. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Joshua, Judges, Ruth (p. 370). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Bush, F. W. (1998). Ruth, Esther (Vol. 9, pp. 253–257). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ru 4:14). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 483). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ru 4:14). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[7] Reed, J. W. (1985). Ruth. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, pp. 427–428). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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