Category Archives: ESV Study Bible

October 22, 2017: Verse of the day

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89    Forever, O Lord, your word

is firmly fixed in the heavens.

90    Your faithfulness endures to all generations;

you have established the earth, and it stands fast.

91    By your appointment they stand this day,

for all things are your servants.

92    If your law had not been my delight,

I would have perished in my affliction.

93    I will never forget your precepts,

for by them you have given me life.

94    I am yours; save me,

for I have sought your precepts.

95    The wicked lie in wait to destroy me,

but I consider your testimonies.

96    I have seen a limit to all perfection,

but your commandment is exceedingly broad. [1]


119:89–96. God’s Word is settled in heaven and is attested by His faithfulness (vv. 89–91). The psalmist’s delight (cf. 1:2; 119:174) in the established Law had enabled him to win the victory (vv. 92–95). He concluded that God’s Word is boundless (v. 96) in its values.[2]


119:89–96 The wicked wait for me to destroy me, we must not again seek salvation but simply consider Your testimonies. When we look confidently to the Word of promise and daily trust the provision of God’s grace, we are testifying not only to our salvation by God’s grace but also to the face that Your Word is settled in heaven (v. 89).[3]


119:89–96 Stanza 12, Lamedh, marks the midpoint of Psa 119 and reintroduces a positive tone of trust in the eventual triumph of Yahweh’s directions. The psalmist emphasizes the role that Yahweh’s word has in establishing the cosmos (vv. 89–91) and compares that to the way that Yahweh’s directions establish and protect him (vv. 92–95). This section divides into two units of four verses each, marked by the Hebrew word le’olam (implying permanence; see vv. 89, 93).

The psalmist begins this stanza by emphasizing the role of Yahweh’s word in establishing and supporting the created order (vv. 89–91). He then depicts the central role of Yahweh’s directions in preserving him in his time of crisis (v. 92). The second half of Stanza 12 is a sort of inversion of the first half. The psalmist focuses on the role of Yahweh’s directions for him at a personal level for three lines (vv. 93–95), and then shifts to a very broad consideration of Yahweh’s directions (v. 96).

 

119:89–92 As the start of the second half of Psa 119, Stanza 12 may be mimicking the opening of the psalm. The first three verses connect with the broad theme of emphasizing Yahweh’s authority—v. 92 is a personal response to the truth the opening three verses present. The mention of heavens and earth establishes a cosmic scope for the stanza, where Yahweh’s directions establish and then maintain the created order. The double occurrence of the Hebrew word amad (“to stand”) bolsters the theme of God’s sustaining of creation (vv. 90–91).

 

119:89 Forever The expression le’olam means “long time,” “future time” or “perpetually.” It conveys the idea of long-term constancy rather than eternity.

is settled The word natsav means “to stand” or “to be positioned.” God’s directions are enduring because He is absolutely stable.

119:93–96 The psalmist stresses the personal focus of this unit of poetry by mentioning Yahweh’s piqqudim in the Hebrew text (see note on v. 4) and their role in enlivening him (vv. 93–94). He then implicitly contrasts the help that Yahweh’s precepts bring with the destruction that the wicked plan (v. 95). He closes by considering Yahweh’s directions on a cosmic scale (v. 96).

 

119:94 your precepts Verse 93 and 94 both include the word piqqudim (“precepts”); the two instances emphasize that God and His directions have a central place in rescuing the psalmist.

119:95 the wicked lie in wait to destroy me The psalmist waits until now to name the source of his affliction (see v. 92), demonstrating that he is focusing on God’s directions rather than his enemies.

119:96 perfection The Hebrew word used here, tikhlah, conveys completeness or totality in the sense of being totally comprehensive. Even the most perfectly complete thing has a limit.[4]


119:89–91 These verses stress how God’s word expresses his faithfulness, and its terms are therefore firmly fixed.[5]


89–96 Lamedh. Word without end. The Hebrew word ‘for ever’, occurring as eternal (89) and as never (93), divides the section into two parts: the Lord’s word and commitment to the word are alike ‘for ever’. Thought moves from the word in heaven (89) to the word personally enjoyed (92), and then from the word personally enjoyed (93) to the word in its own boundless nature (96). Your word (89), expressing as it does the nature and the will of the Lord, is the fixed point of heaven. But the Lord is the same on earth (90). His faithfulness, unvarying consistency, remains, undergirding successive generations of people and giving stability to the earth they inhabit. Indeed, such is his enduring changelessness that he is the same today and such is his total sovereign sway that all things—good and bad alike—do his will (91). On the personal level it is the same. The enduring word gives durability to the one who delights in it. This naturally leads to commitment, for the word which guarded from perishing equally brought renewal (preserved, 93). Such commitment to the word marks those who are the Lord’s (94). Still in the same period of hostility (95, cf. 69, 78, 85), it will be spent in pre-occupation with the Lord’s statutes (his word declaring what he is and requires). This is the way to life for ‘In everything finite I see a limiting factor but your commands mean real freedom’ (96, cf. 45).[6]


119:89 Faith is not a leap in the dark. It is based upon the surest thing in the universe—the Bible. There is no risk in believing a word that is fixed firmly and forever in heaven.

119:90 The faithfulness of God is displayed not only in His Word but also in His works. It extends to all generations and is seen in the order and precision of nature.

119:91 Heaven and earth obey His laws. Seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night are all God’s servants. And all are regulated and sustained by His word of power.

119:92 Barnes comments:

“I should have sunk a thousand times,” said a most excellent, but much afflicted man to me, “if it had not been for one declaration in the Word of God, ‘The Eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.’ ”

119:93 Those who have experienced the power of the Scriptures in their lives are not likely to forget them. We were “born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Pet. 1:23).

119:94 Even after we have been saved from the penalty of sin, we still need to be saved day by day from defilement and damage. Acquaintance with God’s precepts and with our own hearts makes us aware of the need of this present-tense salvation.

119:95 The only way to avoid the attacks of the wicked is to lead a petty, inconsequential life. As long as our lives are effective for Him, we can expect opposition. But we find strength and solace when we consider God’s testimonies.

119:96 The very best things in this world fall short of perfection and come to an end, but the Word of God is perfect and infinite. The more we get to know the Bible, the more we realize how far short we ourselves come.[7]


Opting for what lasts (119:89–96). The lamed strophe contrasts what endures with what perishes. The stable universe is a visible token of Yahweh’s faithfulness. The results of the word of God in its creative and sustaining role are seen in the ordered world, whose order is homage to its divine master. V 96 sums up the strophe. On the one hand, the scope of God’s revelation embraces the universe, for it is the expression of the divine will; on the other, the feebleness of human potential, apart from God, is blatant. Devotion to God’s Torah is the only means of sustenance: it is the divinely intended channel of true life, as v 93b maintains in an echo of Lev 18:5 or Deut 30:15–16, 19–20 (cf. Luke 10:18). But in addition to its steady infusion of truth and grace, there may be need of direct and dramatic intervention in the believer’s deadly situation. It is for this that the staccato prayer of v 94a craves.

In v 89 דבר, “word,” is an expression of God’s all-embracing purpose, which is not only embodied in the Torah but reflected in the created universe, as v 91 affirms. One may compare the creative role of the דבר, “word,” in Ps 33:6, but now it is responsible for maintaining the created order, as in Pss 147:15, 18; 148:8. It is here equated with divine wisdom (Robert, RB 48 [1939] 11). “The cosmic word of God and the book of his Torah are, for our psalmist, correlative” (Soll, Psalm 119, 39). In v 96 Robert, observing a similar semantic range in Job 11:7, 9; 28:3, understood דבר in terms of a contrast between limited human understanding and divine Torah-wisdom.[8]


The Lamedh Strophe (119:89–96)

Commentary

89–91 The nature of the Lord is also reflected in everything he has created: heaven and earth (vv. 89–90). The constancy and order in all creation reflects the “faithfulness” (ʾemûnâ) of the Lord (v. 90; cf. vv. 75, 86; 89:2; 104; 147:7–9). The order in creation reveals the love, care, and fidelity of the Lord. He is Lord of his created universe, as “all things serve” him (v. 91; lit., “all things your servants”). The regularity of day and night witnesses to the constancy of the Lord. Nature serves and abides by the “word” (dābār, v. 89) and the “laws” (mišpāṭîm, v. 91) of the Lord.

92 The psalmist confesses that he, too, wants to be included among those who serve the Lord by keeping his “law.” He has found “delight” (šaʿašûʿîm; cf. vv. 16, 24, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143, 174) in the “law” (tôrâ “instruction) of the Lord, and this has given him a desire to align his life with the revealed will of the Lord. If he had not found meaning in his experience of “affliction,” he feels that he would have perished. He would have been like a falling star.

93–96 The psalmist will not forget the “precepts” (piqqûdîm, v. 93) of the Lord, for they give order and preserve life (“for by them you have preserved my life”; cf. vv. 25, 37, 40, 50, 88, 107, 149, 154, 156, 159). The preservation of life is related to the covenantal relationship, as the psalmist knows that he belongs to God (“I am yours,” v. 94; cf. v. 125). So he prays that the Lord may continue to sustain his life (“save me,” yāšaʿ; cf. 54:1) in spite of the opposition of “the wicked” (v. 95). As long as his hope is fixed on the Lord, he does not “perish” (ʾabad) in his affliction (v. 92). The wicked may attempt “to destroy” (ʾabad) him (v. 95; cf. Eze 22:27); but as their violence increases, the psalmist seeks refuge in the diligent study (bîn, “ponder”; cf. vv. 73, 104) of the “statutes” (ʿēdôt) of the Lord. The “commands” (miṣwôt) of the Lord liberate him and give him a new lease on life (lit., “very broad”; NIV, “boundless,” v. 96; cf. v. 32; 118:5). Everything else, perfect as it may be, is limited.[9]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:89–96). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Ross, A. P. (1985). Psalms. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 881). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 728). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 119:89–96). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1098). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Motyer, J. A. (1994). The Psalms. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 569). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[7] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 742–743). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[8] Allen, L. C. (2002). Psalms 101–150 (Revised) (Vol. 21, p. 189). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[9] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 875–876). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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October 16, 2017: Verse of the day

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O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

    You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

you discern my thoughts from afar.

    You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

    Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

    You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is high; I cannot attain it. [1]


139:5 “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13). And because His knowledge of us is so inconceivably absolute, He can guard us behind and before. Ever and always His hand is laid protectingly upon us.[2]


139:5 enclosed me. God used circumstances to limit David’s actions.[3]


139:5 lay your hand upon me. A gentle gesture (cf. Gen. 48:14, 17), giving reassurance.[4]


139:5 You barricade me It is unclear what connotation the psalmist intends when using the Hebrew word tsur here; it can mean “to bind,” “encircle,” or “lay siege to.” In Ps 139:6, the psalmist indicates that he accepts close scrutiny from God, but that he does not understand it.[5]


139:5 You hem me in. The Lord sets His limits around the psalmist’s actions.[6]


The Lord’s Discernment of Individuals (139:1–6)

Commentary

1–6 The Lord “knows” his own. The knowledge of God is relational. He knows his own (see 1:6), as he discerns the righteous from the wicked (cf. vv. 19–20). The root ydʿ (“know”) occurs throughout this section: “you know me … you know when … you know it completely … such knowledge.” It signifies here divine discernment. The Lord discerns the actions of his own (v. 1), whether they sit or stand (v. 2; see 1:6). This discernment belongs uniquely to God, who alone is the Judge of all flesh. Hence the psalmist exclaims that this divine prerogative is beyond him: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me” (v. 6).

In his prayer (vv. 23–24), which gives expression to his recommitment, the psalmist prayed for the Lord’s justification of his acts against those who maligned him. He prayed for the Lord to examine him as in a judicial case and to declare him innocent of the charges (vv. 23–24; see comments there). Now that the ordeal is over and he has been justified by the Lord, the psalmist testifies that the Lord is a righteous judge. He has come to a new level of relationship with the Lord, who knows him through and through: “you have searched me” (v. 1; cf. 7:9; 17:3; 26:2; Jer 17:10), “you know” (vv. 1–2, 4; see above), “you perceive” (bîn, v. 2; or “you have an understanding of”), “you discern” (v. 3, or “you have winnowed me”), and “you are familiar with.” The Lord knows his every move (“when I sit and when I rise,” v. 2).

But the accused is not afraid of his judge. The divine Judge is more than an arbiter, because he is also the one in whom the psalmist has found protection. He hedges in his own for the purpose of protection (“behind and before,” v. 5). This thought receives further amplification in v. 5b: “you have laid your hand upon me.” The placement of the divine hand signifies protection and blessing (cf. Ge 48:14, 17; Ex 33:22).

This knowledge of God is nothing less than a knowledge that discerns and discriminates in favor of those who are loyal to the Lord. The discerning and favorable acts of God are gracious. It is grace that justifies, and it is by grace that humans are blessed. Though the psalmist has taken seriously his responsibilities in all of his ways (his sitting, rising, going out, lying down, and speaking; cf. vv. 2–4), still he exclaims that God’s favorable acts toward him are “too wonderful” and “too lofty” to apprehend (v. 6; cf. Ro 11:33; see Reflections, p. 603, The Mighty Acts of Yahweh).[7]


139:1–6 / Verses 1–12 hymn the comprehensive nature of God’s knowledge and presence: from sitting to rising (v. 2), from activity (going out) to inactivity (lying down, v. 3), from the heavens to the depths (i.e., vertical space, v. 8), from the east (“the wings of the dawn”) to the west (“the far side of the sea,” i.e., horizontal space, v. 9), and from darkness and night to light and day (vv. 11–12).

The opening section of the psalm begins with a general confession that you know me. But even this general statement about divine omniscience does not indicate an automatic comprehension: you have searched me. The Hebrew verb behind you discern (Hb. zrh) my going out and my lying down is normally used for “winnowing” or “sifting” wheat. God himself participates in the process of becoming acquainted with us. His knowledge is not static; it too goes through a dynamic process. Examples of what God knows then follow. The various postures one takes during the day point to the various activities one may engage in. God’s knowledge goes beyond mere activity to my thoughts and my ways. One’s speech is also singled out as an area of divine interest. God’s comprehension is comprehensive, both around and over us (v. 5). And so our ability to comprehend is limited, such knowledge is beyond us (v. 6). It is difficult to know whether God’s actions in verse 5 are comforting or oppressive (e.g., Hb. ṣwr, hem … in, is often used in the ot for “besieging,” and God’s hand upon a person can denote affliction, cf. 38:2). The verse may be intentionally ambiguous, though we should note from the next section that the speaker’s immediate response is one of flight.[8]


Exposure to God’s scrutiny (139:1b–6). The speaker of the psalm has come to the sanctuary to present his prayer, hoping for a divine oracle to vindicate him. He protests his innocence of certain charges evidently brought against him, before Yahweh who has insight into the whole of his life. Every detail of his daily routine, every unspoken thought, is known to God, who knows him inside and out, as the alternating parallelism of vv 2a and 3 and vv 2b and 4 conveys. In the OT such terms as “know” (ידע), “examine” (חקר), “see” (ראה) in vv 16, 24, and “probe” (בחן) in v 23 are used with God as subject to refer to a providential role as judge—not necessarily in a formal sense but by way of metaphor—punishing the guilty and acquitting the innocent. These associations of the terms used in the psalm indicate that the psalmist is in some situation of attack. The psalm is comparable with Jeremiah’s appeal for vindication: “You know me, Yahweh; you see me and probe my attitude toward you. Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter” (Jer 12:3 [author’s translation]; cf. Jer 15:15). The psalmist is not engaged in quiet reverie on a divine attribute but pleading for justice to be done. A polemical element is implicit from the outset.

Yahweh is “far away” (מרחוק) as the transcendent God who observes all from heaven (cf. Ps 11:4–5; Jer 23:23). He is also close by, surrounding the psalmist and controlling his movements. The psalmist reacts to God’s omniscience with wonder: it is beyond his ken and too sublime to comprehend. In the area of knowledge a gulf lies between Yahweh and himself. He is driven to avow his own sense of limitation and inadequacy (cf. Job 42:2, 3b). Kras̆ovec (BZ 18 [1974] 232–33) studied the polar expressions used in the psalm to express totality: in vv 2a, 3a, 5a they are used within single cola, while in vv 8, 9, 11 they extend to whole lines. In this connection Holman (VT 21 [1971] 301) noted the contrast between the human and divine representations in vv 1–12. On the one hand there is the multiplicity of the psalmist’s activities and the agitation of various human possibilities; on the other is the majestic superiority of God’s knowledge, expressed in sober, calm tones, comprehending everything by the mere fact of presence.

The force of the expressions in v 5 is ambiguous. The verb צור used in v 5a is often used in a hostile sense “besiege,” but it can be employed of enclosing for safekeeping. Similarly Yahweh’s כף, “palm,” or hand, can refer to loving care or to punishment. Probably the verse is to be pressed to neither extreme but is simply a neutral statement of God’s absolute control of the psalmist’s movements (Dahood, 288).[9]


1–6 God the all-knowing: from inner thoughts to outer ways. These verses are full of verbs of ‘knowing’. The general statement of v 1 is applied to life’s outward activities and inner thoughts (2), everyday acts and lifestyle (3, ways), and unexpressed thoughts (4). Personal life falls wholly within divine limits, behind, before and over, (5, ‘You cup your hand over me’—a picture which reveals that it is all for my protection and comfort Jn. 10:27–30).[10]


139:1–5 You have searched me: God is active to search and test His servants. He knows our motives, desires, and words before they are expressed. In short, He knows His servants completely. But as v. 5 makes clear, the purpose of His intimate knowledge of His servants is protective and helpful, not judgmental and condemning.

139:6 such knowledge: Here the poet gasps aloud at the wonder of the intimate relationship He has with God, and God with him. It is simply too much to comprehend; the human mind with all its ability is no match for the mind of God![11]


139:5–6. David’s initial response to this staggering knowledge was that he was troubled. Like many who respond to the fact of God’s omniscience, he thought it was confining, that God had besieged him and cupped His hand over him.

Moreover, this kind of knowledge was out of David’s control—it was too wonderful for him. The word “wonderful” is in the emphatic position, at the beginning of the sentence. On the meaning of “wonderful” as “extraordinary or surpassing,” see comments on 9:1. In other words divine omniscience is too high for humans to comprehend (also cf. comments on 139:14).[12]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 139:1–6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 769). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 139:5). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1116). 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 139:5). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 860). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[7] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 959–960). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[8] Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (pp. 484–485). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[9] Allen, L. C. (2002). Psalms 101–150 (Revised) (Vol. 21, pp. 327–328). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[10] Motyer, J. A. (1994). The Psalms. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 578). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[11] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 738). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[12] Ross, A. P. (1985). Psalms. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 891). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

October 15, 2017: Verse of the day

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Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,

and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.

    Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;

reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

    Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;

teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. [1]


9:7–9 Wise people receive reproof and rebuke with appreciation; fools do not.[2]


9:7–9 These verses present three statements about what happens if one corrects a scoffer or the wicked (vv. 7a, 7b, 8a) plus three contrasting statements about reproving a wise man (vv. 8b, 9a, 9b). The point is twofold: if a person desires to be wise, he must examine how his heart responds to wise reproof or correction (see v. 12); and in order to be wise with others, he must have the prudence to observe other people’s actions. It is clear that the “wise” or “righteous” person does not rest content with his attainment, nor is he presented as morally “perfect.” He becomes still wiser, and will increase in learning, through correction.[3]


9:8 rebuke the wise In contrast to the scoffer, the wise person accepts rebuke. Throughout Proverbs, the wise person exhibits wisdom by humbly looking to increase in wisdom (12:15; 21:11).[4]


7 As already indicated, there is an abrupt transition here to standard wisdom instruction. The meaning of the verse seems to be that it is more than futile to issue a correction to certain people, such as the arrogant (or scoffer, Hebrew ל֬, parallel to “wicked” here and also in Ps 1). Well-meant advice meets with not just rejection but contumely. As a matter of fact, the sages generally seem to regard fools/wicked as (relatively) incorrigible. Hence there is the frequent injunction to avoid their company. This meaning is also supported by v 8a. The meaning of v 7b is obscure because of the ambiguity of the final phrase “his blemish” (translated above as “shame”). Some understand it as referring back to the one who reproves. This is unlikely since it is not conceivable that he should be stained by the wicked. The blemish must be that of the wicked, meaning something like harm or “insult” in v 7a, with which it is parallel.

8–9 What was enunciated as a saying in the previous verse is now set forth as a prohibition in v 8a. There is a close parallel in the Instruction of Ankhsheshonq: “Do not instruct a fool, lest he hate you. Do not instruct him who will not listen to you” (7, 4–5; Lichtheim, AEL, 3:165). The advice given in v 8b is at the heart of the wisdom enterprise: the wise almost by definition are docile; they listen, and they are open to reproof; see the Explanation below. 9 This verse supports the claim of v 8, and significantly equates the wise and the just, or wisdom and justice. This teaching is familiar, and could indicate that the speaker is the parent/teacher. But what was the intention of the editor in positioning verses such as these between the two invitations? Perhaps the answer lies in the central importance of v 10, without which the wisdom enterprise is in vain.[5]


9:7–9 The continuity here seems to be broken, but perhaps these verses explain either why the invitation is not sent to scorners, or why Wisdom’s guests must forsake them.

If you correct a scoffer, you get only abuse for it. If you rebuke a wicked man, he will turn on you and assault you.

The way in which a man receives rebuke is an index of his character. A scoffer hates you, whereas a wise man will thank you. How do you react when parent, teacher, employer, or friend corrects you?

Instead of resenting criticism, a wise man takes it to heart and thus becomes still wiser. A just man benefits by increasing his store of useful learning.[6]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 9:7–9). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Pr 9:7–9). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1150). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Pr 9:8). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Murphy, R. E. (1998). Proverbs (Vol. 22, pp. 59–60). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 813). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

October 13, 2017: Verse of the day

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25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,

for he is the living God,

enduring forever;

his kingdom shall never be destroyed,

and his dominion shall be to the end.

27    He delivers and rescues;

he works signs and wonders

in heaven and on earth,

he who has saved Daniel

from the power of the lions.”

28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. [1]


25–27 Like his predecessor King Nebuchadnezzar (see comments on 4:1–3), King Darius writes a royal letter (v. 25a), or “epistle,” since publication is intended for a “universal audience” (i.e., the peoples of his vast realm; cf. Collins, Daniel: with an Introduction to Apocalyptic Literature, 61, 72). The letter is Darius’s personal confession of his own experience with Daniel’s God, Darius having witnessed Daniel’s miraculous deliverance from the lions’ pit. According to Goldingay, 129, whether or not King Darius “converted” to the Hebrew religion is not the point; rather, it is his confession acknowledging the living, eternal, saving, and active power of Daniel’s God—an affirmation desperately needed by the Hebrews enduring the dark days of Babylonian exile (cf. Porteous, 92).

Both royal epistles offer the same greeting or salutation, “may you prosper greatly” (v. 25b; see comments on 4:1–3). The formal proclamation of Darius here (vv. 26–27) contains the additional literary forms of decree, commanding the subjects of his kingdom to respect the God of Daniel (v. 26a). Both “encyclicals” (as Seow, 95, labels them) conclude with a doxology in praise of the God of the Hebrews (vv. 26b–27). The hymnic language of the doxology justifies the poetic format of the king’s decree in the more recent English translations.

The decree of Darius that his subjects must hold “the God of Daniel” in awe is stated more positively than the decree of Nebuchadnezzar that threatened dismemberment to anyone who defamed “the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” (3:29). To “fear” (lit., “tremble,” Aram. zûaʿ) and “reverence” (lit., “fear,” Aram. deḥal) God mean to both “respect Him and recognize that they could be hurt by Him, Darius thus admitting that this God’s power extended far beyond the boundaries of Judah” (Wood, 175). The decree of Darius serves two purposes: first, it gives official sanction to the God of the Hebrews as a legitimate and even superior deity to the gods of the Babylonian pantheon; and second, it rescinds the “irrevocable” edict that Darius had earlier published forbidding petition to anyone but the king (cf. Redditt, 112). How ironic, as Seow, 95, observes, that “now the king himself publicizes to the world the reversal of his supposedly unchangeable edict, for God has brought about the change.”

The doxology of Darius repeats the epithet “the living God” (v. 26b; cf. v. 20), whereas Nebuchadnezzar makes reference to the Most High God (4:2). The reference to God as “the living God” not only contrasts Yahweh with the lifeless gods of the nations (e.g., Jer 16:18; Hab 2:19) but also calls attention to his capacity to preserve life as a God who saves and rescues his followers (v. 27a). The doxology of Darius extols the eternality of God and the indestructibility of his kingdom, echoing the affirmation of Nebuchadnezzar (4:3). Like Nebuchadnezzar, Darius also testifies to God’s ability to perform “signs and wonders” (v. 27a; see comments on 4:1–3). Lastly, God’s power to perform signs and wonders is applied specifically to his rescue of Daniel “from the power of the lions” (v. 27b).

Both royal epistles make the same claim—God alone is sovereign, and “he does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth” (4:35; cf. Seow, 95). Perhaps for the Hebrews in Babylonian captivity the testimony by a pagan king to God’s power to perform signs and wonders and deliver his people stirred thoughts of the “signs and wonders” associated with the exodus from Egypt and the possibility of a “second exodus” (cf. Lucas, 153).

28 Baldwin, 132, observes that the chapter ends with “an enigmatic note connecting the reign of Darius with that of Cyrus,” understanding that the conjunction “and” (NIV, NASB) actually conveys the explicative force of “namely” or “that is” (i.e., “during the reign of Darius, namely, Cyrus the Persian”). Thus the writer explains to the reader that the two names, “Darius” and “Cyrus,” belong to the same person. Given the current state of scholarship on the book of Daniel, this solution is as plausible as any of the attempts to identify the “King Darius” mentioned in ch. 6. The approach has merit in that it unifies the court-stories section of the book by forming an envelope construction with the reference to Cyrus in 1:21 (cf. Lucas, 153).[2]


6:25–28 / Reminiscent of earlier chapters (2:46–47; 3:29; 4:34–37), the king extols the God of the Jews. Here he does this by writing to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land (6:25). He addresses them with a customary greeting: May you prosper greatly! (6:25). Then he issues a decree that all his subjects must fear and reverence the God of Daniel (6:26). This is an advance over the decree in chapter 3, which is intended merely to prevent a behavior; people are forbidden from saying “anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego” (3:29). Here, the decree promotes an activity, commanding the people to respect this God; they are to tremble in awe before him. The former proscribes verbal attacks on God; the latter prescribes everyone to honor him. During the exile God had called his people to be witnesses to the nations (Isa. 42:6; 43:12; 49:6), promising that one day kings and foreign peoples would acknowledge that the Jews worshiped the one, true God (Isa. 45:14–15; 49:7, 22–23; 56:6–7; Zech. 2:11; 8:20–23; 14:16–19). Here a king fulfills that prophecy.

Unlike idols, Daniel’s God is living (6:26). As already noted, this confession of faith fits better here than previously (see the commentary on 6:20). The Jewish God also endures forever (6:26). Unlike human regimes, his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end (6:26). This statement is also reminiscent of earlier parts of the book, such as Nebuchadnezzar’s vision in chapter 2 (2:44) and his affirmations about the eternality of God’s kingdom in chapter 4 (4:3, 34). It also anticipates the vision of the next chapter (Dan. 7), which records the arrival of God’s everlasting reign. We are reminded that the book of Daniel is apocalyptic. Even though chapters 7–12 deal more with the end of time, the theme is not absent from the first half of the book. Finally, Daniel’s God is a God of salvation: He rescues and he saves.… He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions (6:27). This truth was intended to feed the hope of God’s beleaguered people being devoured by the Seleucid “lions,” that God may intervene in history to deliver them. Secondarily, it becomes a timeless message for every age.

The chapter concludes with a brief chronological note, locating Daniel’s prospering in the interval of time from the reign of Darius to that of Cyrus the Persian (6:28). This calls to mind Daniel 1:21, which says that “Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.” These two similar statements frame chapters 2 through 6, setting off this block from the preceding introductory chapter (ch. 1) and from the following, more apocalyptic chapters (chs. 7–12). Nevertheless, we must not forget that chapter 2 is also linked to chapter 7 by the theme of the four kingdoms and that chapters 2 through 7 form a chiastic structure, making them a unit. As further confirmation of their unity, it also bears mentioning that they are written in Aramaic. There is a further chronological reference to Cyrus in Daniel 10:1.

The book’s author uses repetition for theological effect. Four times he uses the Aramaic word meaning “law” or “religion,” but only once does it refer to God’s “law” (v. 5); every other time it refers to the “law” of the Medes and Persians (vv. 8, 12, 15). In this way, he creates a tension between divine and human requirements, so that as the story plays out, Daniel remains faithful to Jewish law, or religion, by praying, even though he risks his life to do so.

Seven times we find words from the root meaning “to seek,” “to ask,” or “to pray.” The conspirators “tried” or “sought” (v. 4) to find a way to trap Daniel. The edict was that no one should “ask” “a request” (v. 7; the two words from the root are rendered by the one word, “prays,” in the niv) from anyone except the king. Yet, Daniel continued “praying” (v. 11) to God. The evil administrators reminded the king of his decree against anyone who “prays” (v. 12) to a god and indicted Daniel because he “asks” “his request” (v. 13; niv “prays”) three times daily. This highlights the importance of praying to God rather than seeking after other gods or humans.

There are five occurrences of the verb meaning “to rescue.” The king attempts “to rescue” (v. 14) Daniel, but fails. After casting Daniel into the pit of lions, Darius then expresses his hope that God will “rescue” (v. 16) Daniel. In the morning, he inquires whether God was able “to rescue” (v. 20) his servant. At the end, the king proclaims that God “rescues,” because he “rescued” Daniel from the lions (v. 27). The purpose here is that readers may infer something about the nature of God from the story: God rescued Daniel from the wild animals because that is his nature—he is a God who rescues and saves. This is further intended to engender hope for those who, like Daniel, are persecuted for their faith; God is able to deliver them.

Finally, there is the root meaning “to harm,” “to hurt,” or “to destroy.” The lions could not “hurt” Daniel, because he was blameless and had not done any “harm” (niv “wrong”) to the king (v. 22). After Daniel exits the pit, no “hurt” or “wound” (v. 23) is found on him. The closing edict affirms that God’s kingdom will never be “destroyed” (v. 26). The theological intention is clear: just as ravenous beasts could not harm Daniel, so nothing can harm or destroy heaven’s dominion. Daniel’s experience is symbolic and prophetic.

There are parallels in Daniel 6 to the life of Jesus. Daniel’s fellow administrators conspire against Daniel to ensnare him. Just so, the religious leaders conspired against Jesus (Matt. 26:3–5), and Judas betrayed him (Matt. 26:14–16). Daniel is arrested because he prays, contrary to the edict; Jesus was arrested after prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane because he defied religious authorities (Matt. 26:36–55). Darius struggles to save Daniel but is bound by law and pressured by his administrators, so he carries out the sentence (Dan. 6:14–15); Pilate was sympathetic to Jesus and washed his hands of the affair, but he felt pressure from the religious leaders, from the crowds, and from Rome (to keep the peace), so he allowed Jesus to be crucified (Matt. 27:18–24). The opening to the lions’ pit is covered with a stone and sealed (Dan. 6:17); Jesus’s tomb was treated similarly (Matt. 27:60, 66). Both come forth from their enclosures alive, although Jesus died, whereas Daniel did not. These parallel motifs to Daniel in Jesus’s life do not “predict” events which Jesus later “fulfills.” On the one hand, the parallels are close enough to say that maybe the Gospel writers thought of Daniel as a type of Christ. On the other hand, since they do not declare this unequivocally, perhaps the most we can say is that the parallels are remarkable but possibly coincidental.[3]


6:25–27 Darius the king wrote. Impacted by Daniel and by the Lord, he expressed himself as if he had come to a point of personal trust in God for his salvation such as Nebuchadnezzar (cf. 4:1–3, 34–37). Daniel illustrated the evangelistic potency of a godly, uncompromising life. Cf. Mt 5:48.[4]


6:25–27 Darius Acknowledges the Power of Daniel’s God. Darius, like Nebuchadnezzar, confesses the awesome power and protection of Daniel’s God: he is the living God … his kingdom shall never be destroyed (v. 26).[5]


6:26 a decree. Compare 2:47; 3:28, 29; 4:2, 3, 34–37; 5:18–29. As in the previous narratives, God displays His sovereign control of nature and history, kingdoms and kings. The decree is an eloquent testimony to “the living God” and His indestructible kingdom. It is an official acknowledgment of Daniel’s God, although it does not necessarily reflect personal faith on the part of Darius.[6]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Da 6:25–28). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Hill, A. E. (2008). Daniel. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel–Malachi (Revised Edition) (Vol. 8, pp. 126–127). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Nelson, W. B. (2013). Daniel. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (pp. 172–175). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Da 6:25–27). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 1598–1599). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1224). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

October 12, 2017: Verse of the day

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1 Having been moved by “a noble theme” (lit., “a good word”), the sacred composer adds his own word of tribute to the king. It may be that he received a word from the Lord and wrote or recited the psalm to bless the royal couple. Gifted with a “golden tongue,” he was well prepared. Like the scribe Ezra (Ezr 7:6), he excelled in oral composition, interpretation, and communication. As an artist in his own right, he spoke the words of a “skillful writer.”[1]


45:1 It was easy for the psalmist to write this Psalm. In fact, his heart was bursting to put in writing the poem he had composed concerning the King. The words flowed freely from his pen; he felt himself being literally borne along. His tongue was like the pen of a ready scribe, and we are not stretching matters if we identify the ready scribe as the Holy Spirit Himself.[2]


45:1 My heart overflows … My tongue. The psalmist is overwhelmed with emotion upon the occasion of the king’s marriage; consequently, he puts his stirred-up mind and feelings into words. In v. 2ff. his tongue is the brush that he uses to paint vivid word pictures.[3]


45:1 A Song for a King. Whether these words are to be sung by the congregation or by a choir, they are addressed to the king. As a psalm, used in Jerusalem, this would refer to a king in David’s line. A ready scribe was probably one who wrote quickly and neatly.[4]


[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 397). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 618). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 45:1). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 993). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

October 10, 2017: Verse of the day

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13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.[1]


13–16 God’s response to Solomon’s prayer in many ways mirrors the phraseology and content of Solomon’s supplications, including the emphasis on hearing prayer and covenantal consequences, including drought, locusts, and plague (see comments on 6:12–42, esp. vv. 22–39).

What is perhaps one of the most well-known verses of Chronicles and the OT as a whole (v. 14, “If my people, who are called by my Name …”) is also simultaneously one of the more misappropriated verses in the Bible. In short, this verse is not a promissory statement being made to the United States or any country apart from the ancient covenant community of Israel. This statement is situated within covenantal particulars related to the Deuteronomic covenant (cf. v. 13), matters of temple theology (and the interwoven Israelite sacrificial system; cf. vv. 15–16), and the Davidic covenant (cf. vv. 17–22). Note that all these features are directly applicable to the nation of Israel located within the specific geographical area of the Promised Land featuring a functioning temple in the city of Jerusalem and having a Davidic king on the throne. Moreover, the Chronicler is retelling something that had been told to Solomon about four centuries prior to the time of writing.

Given that the Chronicler is writing to those in Jerusalem with a functioning temple (the Second Temple, completed during the time of Zerubbabel, Haggai, and Zechariah, ca. 515 BC) and some degree (or hope) of Davidic leadership, there is certainly a secondary line of significance and application to the postexilic Judeans living in Israel. Beyond this expanded sense for Israel, this promise cannot be connected with any sense of direct divine promise that God will “heal” the United States or any other nation, although the notion of corporate (or national) humility and Godwardness is a wonderful image that God might sovereignly choose to bless. Notable examples of leaders described as humbling themselves or leading a time of national repentance include Rehoboam (12:6), Hezekiah (32:26), and especially the dramatic example of Manasseh (33:12). Such instances of repentance and humbling frequently accompany times of prayer and an earnest seeking of God.

God’s name (v. 16) designates the presence of God and incorporates aspects of God’s character, such as his covenantal love, with Israel and his grace toward all humankind (cf. Dt 12:5).[2]


7:13–16 This section is almost all unique to 2 Chronicles (cf. 1Ki 9:3), and features the conditions for national forgiveness of Israel’s sins: 1) humility; 2) prayer; 3) longing for God; and 4) repentance.[3]


7:14 if my people. God’s purpose above all is to forgive his penitent people and heal their land. The specific vocabulary of this verse (humble themselves, pray, seek, turn) describes different aspects of heartfelt repentance and will recur throughout chs. 10–36. “Heal their land” includes deliverance from drought and pestilence as well as the return of exiles to their rightful home (6:38). For the Chronicler, this includes the restoration of the people to their right relationship with God. Cf. Jer. 25:5; 26:3.[4]


7:14 if my people. God promised that the nation would receive relief from the hardships caused by their sin if the people would turn to Him in humility and prayer. This promise was especially relevant to the restored community following the Babylonian exile. A number of events in the divided and reunited kingdoms illustrate the principles of this passage (12:6; 13:14; 14:8–15; 18:31; 20:5–19; 32:20; 33:12, 13 and notes). Many times in Chronicles the concepts in this passage appear as the decisive factor for divine blessing and curses.

humble. An attitude of contrition and dependence on God (12:6, 7, 12; 30:11; 33:12, 19, 23; 34:27).[5]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Ch 7:13–16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Mabie, F. J. (2010). 1 and 2 Chronicles. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 Chronicles–Job (Revised Edition) (Vol. 4, p. 192). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (2 Ch 7:13–16). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 752). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 606). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

October 8, 2017: Verse of the day

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5:16 The crown has fallen. Israel lost its line of kings wearing the crown. The Davidic monarchy was temporarily over and will not be resumed until Christ comes as King (Jer 23:5–8; Eze 37:24–28; Rev 19:1–21).[1]


5:16 The crown has fallen. Both the Davidic kingship (4:20) and Jerusalem itself were considered crowning glories (cf. Jer. 13:18). we have sinned. Punishment has followed transgression (cf. Lam. 1:5, 8, 14, 18, 22; 2:14; 3:42; 4:6, 13, 22).[2]


5:16 The crown. Some take this to refer to Jerusalem in particular (Lam. 1:1; 2:15; 5:18). Probably it represents the glory of Israel and Judah among the nations (Ex. 19:6).[3]


5:16 / Zion had been enthroned among the nations because of God’s blessing upon it. It was king. But because of its sin, its royal status has been removed. In another more literal sense, the crown has also fallen from the head of God’s people. With the Babylonian defeat of Judah, the last king of Judah, Zedekiah, was deposed, and not replaced.[4]


16 With liturgical loss stated plainly one more time in v 15, the people move toward a clear statement about the desolation of Zion in v 18. Now they say, “The crown has fallen from our head” (נפלה עטרת ראשׁנו). Berlin believes that the crown is the Davidic kingship. Thus she thinks the verse laments the loss of kingship and temple worship (124). Renkema, on the other hand, suggests that the crown may be Jerusalem itself, the city’s walls, or the temple on Zion; he then concludes that the temple is the best option given this verse’s similarity of content with chaps. 1 and 2 (616–17). Lamentations certainly mourns the loss of Zion more often than it does the loss of the Davidic kingship, though the latter concern emerges directly in 4:20. Kraus (90) notes that Jer 13:18 links the loss of kingship and the loss of the nation’s cities, so both images may be intended here, for Jerusalem’s devastation includes city, people, cult, and king.

The people confess the sins that have caused all this pain. As in 1:18–22, admission of guilt appears: “woe to us, for we have sinned” (אוי נא לנו כי חטאנו). This phrase includes the dual understanding that sin has occurred and that punishment has followed the sin, an understanding that marks 1:5, 8, 14, 18, 22; 2:14; 3:42; and 4:6, 13, 22 (Wiesmann, 259). It upholds God’s righteousness in the matter of Jerusalem’s demise (Weiser, 366). Renkema observes that אוי נא, “woe to us,” occurs only here and in Jer 4:31 and 45:3 (617–18). In the former text the daughter of Zion cries out before murderers, while in the latter text Jeremiah quotes Baruch’s self-pitying, though understandable, complaint about personal deprivation. The text reminds readers of prophetic warnings; Jerusalem has fallen according to the word of the Lord (see 1:21).

The book never wavers in its conviction that God has punished because of what the covenant people have done. It never moves away from the conviction that the long-announced day of the Lord has come upon Israel. At the same time, it never flags in prayer. It maintains a dogged determination to confess sin adequately enough to restore the people’s relationship with their covenant partner, who is also their judge.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (La 5:16). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1494). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1142). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[4] Longman, T., III. (2012). Jeremiah, Lamentations. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (p. 392). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Garrett, D. (2004). Song of Songs/Lamentations (Vol. 23B, p. 467). Dallas, TX: Word, Incorporated.

October 1, 2017: Verse of the day

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1 God (Elohim) is portrayed here as ready to judge. He “presides” (niṣṣāb; cf. Isa 3:13; Am 7:7; 9:1) as the Great Judge. God assembles the “gods” together for judgment in “the assembly of El” (MT; NIV, “the great assembly”). The assembly of El is a borrowed phrase from Canaanite mythology, according to which El, the chief of the pantheon, assembled the gods in a divine council (see Dahood, 2:269).

For Israel there is no other God than Yahweh. He embodies within himself all the epithets and powers attributed to pagan deities. The God of Israel holds a mock trial so as to impress his people that he alone is God. Zimmerli, 155, has expressed the superiority of Israel’s God well in these words: “Whenever a hymn speaks of those other divine powers, whose existence is by no means denied on theoretical grounds, it can only be with reference to the One who will call their actions to judgment (Ps. 82), or in the spirit of superiority that mocks their impotence (Pss. 115:4–8; 135:15–18).”[1]


82:1 / In the opening verse a liturgist or prophetic voice provides the congregation with the psalm’s visionary setting in God’s heavenly royal council chambers. Here, we enter a world very foreign to us.[2]

82:1 The court is called to order. The Judge has taken His place at the bench. It is God Himself. He has called a special session of the divine council in order to reprove the rulers and judges of the earth. They are called gods because they are representatives of God, ordained by Him as His servants in order to maintain an ordered society. Actually, of course, they are only men like ourselves. But because of their position, they are the anointed of the Lord. Even if they do not know God personally, yet they are God’s agents officially and therefore dignified here with the name of gods. The basic meaning of the name is mighty ones.[3]

82:1 His own congregation. The scene opens with God having called the world leaders together. midst of the rulers. The best interpretation is that these are human leaders, such as judges, kings, legislators, and presidents (cf. Ex 22:8, 9, 28; Jdg 5:8, 9). God the Great Judge, presides over these lesser judges.[4]


82:1 in the divine council; in the midst of the gods. Many would take these terms in vv. 1 and 6 as describing the assembly of angelic beings who surround God’s throne as a divine court (cf. 1 Kings 22:19; Job 1:6; 2:1). This finds support in the way that the title “sons of the Most High” matches the label “sons of God” in Job; cf. also the “heavenly beings” (or “gods”) in Ps. 8:5 (see note there). On the other hand, these “gods” are said to “judge” among men (82:2–4) and to die like men (v. 7); God is to judge the earth and to inherit the nations (where mankind lives, v. 8). This makes it better to see these as human rulers, who hold their authority as representatives of the true God (and therefore deserve respect; cf. 58:1; Rom. 13:1–7; 1 Pet. 2:13–17). Of course this does not require ultimate loyalty that overrides faithfulness to God, or that silences testimony about God’s justice, as this very psalm makes clear. Jesus seems to have read the psalm in this way, since in John 10:34–35 he cites Ps. 82:6, describing the “gods” as those to whom the word of God came, which means they were human. See also note on v. 6.[5]


82:1 stands The Hebrew word used here, nitsav, is a singular verbal form, which means that its subject, which is elohim in Hebrew—and could be translated as “God” or “gods”—should be translated in the singular as “God.” The imagery that extends from this verb is one of presiding, since the setting is a formal council meeting.

the divine assembly A descriptive phrase used of the heavenly host. Like other ancient Near Eastern cultures, the psalmist conceived of God as directing the affairs of the unseen world through an administration of divine beings. The members of the heavenly host are often referred to as a “council” or “assembly” (see 1 Kgs 22:19–23).

in the midst of the gods The Hebrew preposition used here, qerev, requires the Hebrew word elohim to be translated as a plural here—as “gods.” The gods in the verse are the council members, the heavenly host (see Psa 82:6). A council of divine beings is also mentioned in 89:5–7, where they are depicted as in heaven or the skies.[6]


82:1 the divine council. The exact scope of this congregation is unclear. It may be the heavenly assembly (including only spiritual powers), or it may include earthly kings.[7]


[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 623). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (p. 336). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 674). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 82:1). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 1041–1042). 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 (Ps 82:1). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[7] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 810). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

September 30, 2017: Verse of the day

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So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem. [1]


35:2–4 / Responding to God’s orders, Jacob immediately instructed his household and others who had joined him to prepare themselves for a religious pilgrimage to Bethel. Careful preparations had to be made to protect everyone from the possibility of God’s breaking forth against anyone who was not ritually pure. Specifically Jacob commanded those of his house to get rid of the foreign gods, indicating that some continued to worship various deities. Some gods or idols may have been brought from Haran; others might have been taken from the pillage of the Shechemites. The report of this command accounts for the removal of the teraphim Rachel had stolen from her father’s house (31:19). Jacob also ordered his company to purify themselves so that they could be in the presence of God without danger. Ritual purification included bathing, shaving, and putting on clean clothes. It symbolized the removal of all that was unclean and sinful. In an exhortation Jacob told his entire household that they were going up to Bethel, where he would build an altar to God, who had helped him in his distress and who had been present with him throughout his long journey. The mention of God’s being with Jacob establishes a connection to the vow he had made at Bethel long ago (28:20).

The people responded willingly by giving Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears. These earrings must have had religious significance; possibly they were amulets. Jacob disposed of all the idols and rings he had collected by burying them under the oak at Shechem.[2]


2 But Jacob was as prompt as Abraham (cf. 22:3), and he immediately instructs them to prepare for pilgrimage. Worship of other gods was always incompatible with serving the God who said, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exod 20:3). Ps 24:3–4 asks, “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?” and answers, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false” (i.e., idols).

And other texts record the putting away of foreign gods in the context of renewed devotion to God (Josh 24:14, 23–24; Judg 10:16; 1 Sam 7:3–4). Worship, which brings one into the presence of a holy God, demands inward and outward purity, the latter being seen as an expression of the former. Purification usually took the form of bathing the body, washing the clothes, and shaving (Lev 14:8–9; Num 8:7). Before the Sinai revelation, all the people were told to wash their clothes and abstain from sexual intercourse (Exod 19:10–15). Here Jacob insists that they change their “outer garments,” the poncho-type wrapper used as coat and blanket (Exod 22:25–26 [26–27]). Their change of clothes represents a new and purified way of life (cf. 41:14). Elsewhere in the Pentateuch, sexual intercourse and the spilling of blood in war are seen as polluting (Num 31:19; Lev 15:18; 18:24–29). So this command to purify themselves probably looks back to the pollution produced in chap. 34.

3 “My time of crisis” is a common phrase, especially in the Psalms (e.g., 20:2 [1]; 50:15). Here Jacob is harking back to his flight from Esau, as the reference to the vow he made then, “If God will be with me, guard me on the journey I am undertaking” (28:20), makes clear. When the prayer offered as a vow was answered, the votary was duty bound to fulfill the promise he had made. Now Jacob implies he is about to do that.

4 The family members respond as requested, putting away their foreign gods and also their earrings. The significance of this last point is elusive. On two later occasions, earrings were used to make objects of idolatrous worship, the golden calf and an ephod (Exod 32:2–4; Judg 8:24–27). It could be that burying the earrings along with the foreign gods expressed their complete determination to dispose of the idols and also any material that could be used to replace them. A comparison with Num 31:48–54 suggests a quite different possibility. After the battle with the Midianites, the Israelites had to purify themselves (Num 31:19–20). Part of their purification process included donating to the sanctuary booty consisting of “articles of gold, armlets and bracelets, signet rings, earrings, and beads, to make atonement for ourselves before the Lord” (Num 31:50). This suggests that the rings removed by Jacob’s sons may well have been part of the booty captured by them from the Shechemites; indeed it is possible that the outer garments and the foreign gods (gold-plated idols?) were part of the spoil (cf. Num 31:20; Josh 7:21; Deut 7:25). We have already noted the close parallels between Gen 34 and Num 31:1–9 (see Comment on 34:27–29). These further parallels strengthen the case for reading all of 35:1–4, not merely v 5, in the light of chap. 34. 35:5 is not a late gloss or extract from a different source, but it flows naturally out of the preceding verses.

“Terebinth” (אלה): probably the Atlantic terebinth according to M. Zohary (Plants of the Bible, 110–11).[3]


35:2–4 Put away the foreign gods. Moving to Bethel necessitated spiritual preparation beyond the level of an exercise in logistics. Possession of idolatrous symbols such as figurines, amulets, or cultic charms (v. 4, “rings … in their ears”) were no longer tolerable, including Rachel’s troubling teraphim (31:19). Idols buried out of sight, plus bathing and changing to clean clothes, all served to portray both cleansing from defilement by idolatry and consecration of the heart to the Lord. It had been 8 or 10 years since his return to Canaan and, appropriately, time enough to clean up all traces of idolatry.[4]


35:2–3 Jacob’s instructions are intended to prepare his household for entering God’s presence; Bethel (v. 3) is the “house of God.” They must rid themselves of foreign gods (v. 2). As emphasized later in the first prohibition of the Ten Commandments, those who worship the Lord must not have other gods (see Ex. 20:3). Rachel’s theft of her father’s household gods suggests that polytheistic beliefs existed within Jacob’s household. These must be eradicated. The members of Jacob’s household must purify themselves (Gen. 35:2). While no details are given here, later Israelite tradition emphasized the importance of purification rituals, some of which involved the washing of clothes. This may explain Jacob’s final instruction to change garments (v. 2; see Ex. 19:10). who answers me in the day of my distress (Gen. 35:3). The present tense, “answers,” here indicates that God has consistently responded to Jacob in every time of trouble.

35:4 the rings that were in their ears. It is not clear whether these earrings were worn by the people or by the foreign gods; some ancient Near Eastern evidence indicates that idols could have earrings. Jacob probably buried these cultic objects so that their location would not be easily discovered.[5]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 35:2–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Hartley, J. E. (2012). Genesis. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (pp. 298–299). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Wenham, G. J. (1998). Genesis 16–50 (Vol. 2, pp. 323–324). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ge 35:2–4). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 110–111). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

September 29, 2017: Verse of the day

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33 But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book. 34 But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.” [1]

33–34 The Lord refuses Moses’ offer and replies, “Whoever has sinned … I will blot out of my book” (v. 33; cf. Pss 9:5; 51:1). Thus the OT principle is reaffirmed: the person who sins is accountable for his or her own sin (cf. Dt 24:16; Eze 18:4, 13, 17). Whereas in the past the Lord led (12:42, 51; 13:17; 15:13; 20:2), with Moses being only God’s servant, from now on Moses and an angel are to lead (v. 34). “The time comes for me to punish” is literally, “in the day of my visitation.” Perhaps this is the beginning of the day-of-the-Lord warnings by the later prophets.[2]

32:33–34 The Lord affirms the presumption in Moses’ request that the Lord determines whose names will be in his book, a reality which is referred to in both the OT and NT in various ways: “the book of the living” (Ps. 69:28), “the book” (Dan. 12:1), “names … written in heaven” (Luke 10:20), “the book of life” (Phil. 4:3).[3]


32:33 I will blot Refers to the practice of lifting wet ink from parchment, which results in the illegibility of what was written, and also a visible smudge. Sometimes this area could be written over, but it would always appear as a blemish.[4]


32:33 Whoever has sinned. Moses’ intercession is partially successful: God does not finally reject His people, but the sinful individuals will be judged. The limitations of Moses’ mediatorial office and ministry point to the need for a greater Mediator who will present a full and efficacious atonement for sin (Heb. 3:1–6; 10:11–18). See “Christ the Mediator” at 1 Tim. 2:5.[5]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ex 32:33–34). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Kaiser, W. C., Jr. (2008). Exodus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis–Leviticus (Revised Edition) (Vol. 1, p. 543). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 198). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ex 32:33). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 142). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

September 27, 2017: Verse of the day

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19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” [1]


19–20 For a final time, Moses solemnly exhorts God’s children to choose life (for themselves and for their descendants) and all the other blessings that accompany a proper relationship with the God of their ancestors. To emphasize the importance of this demand, Moses for the third time uses the expression “today” (cf. 30:15, 18). He presents heaven and earth as enduring witnesses to this call to covenantal conformity (see Note on 4:26). Appeals to creation as part of a rebuke for covenantal disobedience also occur in other OT passages (Isa 1:2; Mic 1:2; 6:1 [mountains and hills]).

Israel’s choice to obey or disobey Yahweh will have far-reaching implications: life or death, blessings or curses (cf. ch. 28). Choosing life (for them and their descendants) is equated with wholehearted commitment to a genuine covenantal relationship with Yahweh. Verse 20 delineates that commitment by employing stock “covenantal” verbs: “love,” “listen,” “hold fast” (see Note at 13:4). Moses concludes this section by affirming that Yahweh, Israel’s covenantal Lord, will give them long tenure in the land if they live as loyal citizens. Just prior to that statement he declares a powerful reality: “For the Lord is your life.” True life is only to be found in God, i.e., in an intimate relationship with him.[2]


30:19 choose life. Moses forces the decision, exhorting Israel on the plains of Moab before God (heaven) and man (earth) to choose by believing in and loving God, the life available through the New Covenant (see v. 6). Sadly, Israel failed to respond to this call to the right choice (see 31:16–18, 27–29). Choosing life or death was also emphasized by Jesus. The one who believed in Him had the promise of eternal life; while the one who refused to believe faced eternal death (cf. Jn 3:1–36). Every person faces this same choice.[3]


30:19–20 I call heaven and earth. Ancient treaties had witnesses to their ratification. Often those witnesses were the gods. In Deuteronomy, since God himself is a partner to the covenant, heaven and earth are called as witnesses. See 4:25–26 and note. Life, and living, is a key theme in ch. 30 (see vv. 6, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20). To choose life is to choose God himself, to trust in God’s grace and circumcision of the heart. holding fast. See 4:4 and note on 4:3–4 on 4:3–4.[4]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Dt 30:19–20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Grisanti, M. A. (2012). Deuteronomy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Numbers–Ruth (Revised Edition) (Vol. 2, p. 768). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Dt 30:19). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 375). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

September 26, 2017: Verse of the day

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20    My son, keep your father’s commandment,

and forsake not your mother’s teaching.

21    Bind them on your heart always;

tie them around your neck. [1]


20–21 The youth is exhorted to cling fast to the teachings of his parents (see P. W. Skehan, Studies in Israelite Poetry and Wisdom: Proverbs 5:15–19 and 6:20–24 [Washington: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1971], 1–8). Implicit in these verses is the basic understanding that a good home life (i.e., father and mother sharing the rearing of the children together) will go a long way to prevent youth from falling into immorality. But the teachings must become a permanent part of the youth’s thinking; they must be memorized and practiced.[2]


20–21 The address to “my son” is an introduction to the final section of the chapter that deals with adultery. These opening verses (vv 20–21) are similar to Prov 3:1–3 and also to 7:1–3. Here, too, the youth’s attention is called to the instruction and command of the teacher; they are to be “bound” on the heart, “tied” on the neck, and also “written on the tablet of the heart” (3:3; 7:3). Such recommendations seem to be a deliberate recall of Deut 6:6–9 (the “Shema”) and Deut 11:18–21, as pointed out by C. Maier, ‘fremde Frau,’ 153–58. The agreement among these three introductions is significant. One may even draw the conclusion that sapiential and “Yahwistic” teaching do not differ, one from another. The teaching of the parents are on a level with, or better, analogous to the commands of Moses. It would not be surprising to find these prescriptions concretized in amulets and other objects. Their apotropaic character (warding off evil) is also to be presumed; cf. P. Miller, JNES 29 (1970) 129–30.[3]


6:20 The subject of adultery or unfaithfulness is taken up again here. The frequency with which it recurs is not accidental. The words of verse 20 are a sort of formula used to introduce important instruction.

6:21 Some extreme literalists in Jesus’ day thought they obeyed this verse by wearing phylacteries, that is, small leather boxes containing Scripture portions. During prayer, these Jews wore one on the left arm (near the heart) and one on the head (near the neck). Some Jews still use them today.

But what this verse really means is that we should make the Word of God so much a part of our lives that it will accompany and direct us wherever we go. It is not just a question of honoring the Scriptures outwardly but of obeying them from the heart.[4]


6:20 your mother’s teaching. In the appeals of chs. 1–9, usually only the father is mentioned. The mother as teacher appears here and in 1:8 (see note on 1:8). The young man’s mother represents respect for the institutions of family and marriage.[5]


6:20 My child, keep the commandment of your father See 1:8; note on 1:8–9:18.

6:21 Bind them on your heart The son is charged to keep his parents’ commandments close and ensure they will not be forgotten. Compare Exod 13:9.[6]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 6:20–21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] 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. 88). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Murphy, R. E. (1998). Proverbs (Vol. 22, pp. 38–39). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 806–807). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1145). 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 (Pr 6:20–21). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.