Category Archives: Reformation Study Bible

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.

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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 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 2, 2017: Verse of the day

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Yahweh has claimed to be their Father (e.g., 1:2; 9:6 again; 43:6) and their go’el (e.g., 41:14; 43:14; 60:16). The prophet asks that Yahweh now behave like one. Abraham was the people’s father (41:8; 51:2), as was Jacob-Israel (45:25; 58:14). They bore this family name (44:5; 48:1). But far from the Israelites’ being acknowledged among the nations (61:9), even the progenitors do not acknowledge this people. Abraham and Israel do not treat this people as their descendants and therefore pass on to them the privileges of being their children. Their earthly fathers have cut them off. That makes it the more pressing that Yahweh indeed treat them as father. It is perhaps this consideration that makes the prophet abandon for a moment the usual ot restraint over calling Yahweh “Father.”[1]


16 “For you are our father” picks up the theme of the sermon from v 8, which has God speak of ancient Israel as his “children.” The anguished cry wants to claim that the relation to ancient Israel should apply to them also across all the intervening centuries. It is the cry of one who represents a group not normally identified with the traditional Israel of twelve tribes, as the following qualifying clauses show. The appelation אבינו, “our father,” for God is rare in the ot, appearing only here (twice) and in 64:7. The notion of YHWH as Israel’s father appears also in Deut 32:6, Jer 31:9, and Mal 1:6 and 2:10. Isaiah refers to Israelites as disobedient sons (1:2, 4; 30:1, 9) and also as children of Zion (43:6; 49:22; 60:4). In addition, the metaphor of Zion as the bride or wife of YHWH (49:14, 18; 54:5; 61:10; 62:5) rounds out the repertoire of Isaiah’s family images for God (see Goldenstein, Gebet der Gottesknechte, 244).

“Abraham did not know us” confesses that they cannot claim to be descended from Abraham. Who, in Jerusalem of the fifth century b.c.e., could this be? Is it one of “the people of the land,” persons brought to occupy sections of northern Israel under the empires (2 Kgs 17:24–28) who learned to worship at YHWH sanctuaries (cf. Zech 7:1–3)? The Zadokite priests would also fit into this classification, but not into the one that follows. “Israel does not recognize us” complains of a current disenfranchisement. This points to the people of the land (see Zech 7:4–14; Ezra 4:1–3) who Ezra and Nehemiah also excluded from cooperation or marriage with Israelites. The verse shows the diversity of persons seeking to work and worship in Jerusalem at this time. The Vision calls for openness toward them. Other leaders suspected them and refused cooperation.

A group of direct descendants of Israel from the exodus on claims YHWH as their “redeemer, from that age.” They want God to recognize that he is their “father,” perhaps implying that he is only theirs.[2]


63:16 Abraham … Israel. The nation’s physical ancestors, Abraham and Jacob (Israel) played a crucial role in Jewish thinking. It had been the besetting temptation and sin of the Jews to rest on the mere privilege of descent from Abraham and Jacob (cf. Mt 3:9; Jn 4:12; 8:39), but at last they renounce that to trust God alone as Father.[3]


63:16 Abraham does not know us Abraham would not recognize his own descendants because of how far off the path they’ve wandered from following Yahweh (see Gen 15:6 on Abraham’s faith).[4]


63:16 our Father. God has always been the Father of His people (64:8; Ex. 4:22, 23; Jer. 3:4, 19); they are His children by adoption (Deut. 32:6; Rom. 8:15).[5]


63:16 The people of Israel are the Lord’s children (v. 8). He is their Father because He created them as a nation (Deut. 32:6; Jer. 3:4, 19). It is rare in the pages of the Hebrew Bible to find the explicit statement of the Fatherhood of God, though it is often presented implicitly. Abraham and Israel, the people’s human fathers (51:2), were limited in their knowledge by time and space—in contrast to the Lord, the people’s Father and Redeemer from Everlasting (41:14).[6]


[1] Goldingay, J. (2012). Isaiah. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (p. 359). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Watts, J. D. W. (2005). Isaiah 34–66 (Revised Edition, Vol. 25, pp. 902–903). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 63:16). Nashville, TN: Thomas 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 (Is 63:16). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1042). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 872). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

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 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 28, 2017: Verse of the day

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So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. [1]


4–7 The purpose for this strong warning to the priests is to caution them against the perversion of their office that has already begun (v. 4). The Lord made a covenant with Levi guaranteeing him life and well-being (thus Heb. šālôm), but only as he revered the Lord and served him faithfully (v. 5). This duty is precisely what the postexilic priests are failing to fulfill; thus they are already in violation of the covenant and are in danger of being cut off from their sacred office, that of custodian and teacher of Torah (v. 7).

The covenant referred to here no doubt pertains to the one made with Phinehas, a grandson of Aaron who at a crisis point in Israel’s spiritual life showed himself mightily on behalf of the Lord. When the Hebrews encamped on the plains of Moab, they became enticed by the Baalism of the area, and some began to involve themselves in lascivious idolatry (Nu 25:1–5). Having witnessed one particularly egregious act of sexual immorality, Phinehas, with spear in hand, slew the guilty parties, an Israelite man and a Midianite woman (v. 8). The Lord therefore held back the plague that was already underway and then singled out Phinehas for special recognition. God praised him and promised to make with him a covenant of everlasting priesthood characterized by well-being (šālôm; vv. 10–13).

In the words of Malachi, Levi (i.e., Phinehas, his descendant) “stood in awe” at the name of the Lord and was known as one whose mouth uttered “true instruction” (lit., “a tôrâ of truth”) and not falsehood. He walked in peace and uprightness and was responsible for the conversion of many to the Lord (v. 6). This rich legacy could and would be forfeited if the priests addressed by Malachi do not repent of their corrupt ways and once more serve the Lord in integrity and truth.[2]


The purpose of the covenant (v. 5)

To give life and peace

One of the most productive lies of the devil is that God enjoys making life miserable for human beings, that he gives us certain rules to spoil our happiness.

The truth of the matter is, of course, just the opposite. The laws of God are designed, not to destroy our happiness, but rather to secure it. Such was the case with God’s covenant with the Levites. By obeying it, they would bring both life and peace to the nation and to themselves. By disobeying it, they would bring destruction and unrest.

To produce fear of God

To fear God is to stand in awe of him. It is to revere his person, to submit to his authority and to dread his displeasure. This may seem to run counter to our happiness, but it is not. The more we stand in awe of God, the more likely we are to obey, and the more we obey the more happiness we find.[3]


2:4–5 / As a result of this punishment the priests would know that God had sent this admonition (see also v. 1) with a purpose—that the Lord’s covenant with Levi, which the priests had “violated” (v. 8), might continue. God was not ready to abolish the priesthood but intended, by means of judgment and the prophetic word, to reform the priests. The ministry of Malachi, the prophet and the book, was to call the priests back to their covenant obligations (vv. 5–7), to call them to work in the interim toward the purification to be completed in days to come by “the messenger of the covenant” (3:1–4).

There is no account in the ot of the making of this covenant with Levi, but Jeremiah 33:20–26 and Nehemiah 13:29 also speak of it. Several passages stand behind Malachi’s formulation (cf. the marriage covenant in Mal. 2:14). According to Deuteronomy 18:1–8, the entire tribe of Levi had been set aside for service at the sanctuary. Like Malachi 2, the blessing of Moses (Deut. 33:8–11) personalizes the tribe of Levi as an individual. Levi was “the man you [God] favored,” who “watched over your word and guarded your covenant.” According to Deuteronomy 33:10, Levi carries out the priestly duties of offering incense and whole burnt offerings, as well as teaching God’s precepts and law (torah) to Israel. “True instruction” (torah) is a major priestly responsibility in Malachi 2:6–7. Leviticus 1:10–11; Deuteronomy 17:8–12, 18; 21:5; 24:8; and 27:14–26 all speak of the requirement to teach and make decisions according to the law (torah). God had granted to Phinehas, a descendant of Aaron, and to his descendants a covenant of lasting priesthood, a covenant of peace, because of his zeal for God’s honor (Num. 25:10–13; cf. Mal. 2:2, 5). But Malachi gives the label “covenant” to the special obligations and provisions for all the priests, who are Levites, as set forth in the law (e.g., Deut. 17:8–13; 18:1–8; Num. 18). The ideal priest revered the Lord and stood in awe of the Lord’s name, for God had kept covenant by giving him life and peace—the best gifts of God to humankind, gifts no one else can bestow.[4]


2:4, 5 My covenant … with Levi. The relationship of God to the priesthood was clearly set forth in the Levitic covenant (Nu 3:44–48; 18:8–24; Dt 33:8–11). The covenant was one of mutual responsibility, in which God expected reverence for Himself in exchange for life and peace for the priests. Verbally similar to the covenant made with Phinehas relating to the lineage of the High-Priest (cf. Nu 25:10–13), this covenant was made with Aaron of Levi’s line and his descendants. The Jewish priests of Malachi’s day had deceived themselves by claiming the privileges of the covenant, while neglecting the conditions of it, as if God was bound to bless them even while they rejected the obligation to serve Him.

2:4 Then you will know. The priests will know the price of disobedience by bitter experience with the consequences.[5]


2:5 with him Levi was the ancestor of Aaron who was ordained as the first priest of Israel (see Exod 28–29). Levi did not personally serve as a priest and is not prominent in Genesis. (He is primarily mentioned in passing in lists of Jacob’s sons apart from the story in Gen 34:1–31). In Mal 2:5–6, he stands symbolically for the institution of the priesthood in general.[6]


2:5 one of life and peace. The central thrust of Deuteronomy is to show the connection between covenant obedience and life. Commitment to God leads to a full life. Some see in “covenant … of … peace” an allusion to the covenant with Phinehas mentioned in Num. 25:10–13.[7]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mal 2:4–7). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Merrill, E. H. (2008). Malachi. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel–Malachi (Revised Edition) (Vol. 8, p. 852). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Ellsworth, R. (2007). Opening up Malachi (p. 45). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[4] Goldingay, J., & Scalise, P. J. (2012). Minor Prophets II. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (p. 337). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

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

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Mal 2:5). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[7] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1346). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

September 25, 2017: Verse of the day

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1 The psalmist pronounces a blessing on those who “live together in unity.” During the pilgrimages, the Israelites enjoyed an ecumenical experience on their way toward and in Jerusalem. The pilgrims came from many different walks of life, regions, and tribes as they gathered for one purpose: the worship of the Lord in Jerusalem. Their unity was in conformity with the regulations for the three annual feasts (Ex 23:14–17; Lev 23:4–22, 33–43; Nu 28:16–31; 29:12–39; Dt 16:1–17). During the feasts the Israelites celebrated their common heritage—redemption from Egypt and their encampment around the tabernacle in the wilderness (cf. Nu 2).[1]

133:1 Unity among brethren is a sight to behold. However, unity does not require that they see eye to eye on everything. On matters of fundamental importance they agree. On subordinate matters there is liberty for differing viewpoints. In all things there should be a spirit of love. There can be unity without uniformity; we are all different but that does not prevent our working together. All the members of the human body are different, but as they function in obedience to the head, there is a glorious unity. There can be unity without unanimity; God never intended that everyone should agree on matters of minor importance. It is enough to agree on the basics. On everything else we may disagree as long as we can do it without being disagreeable. The real enemies of unity are jealousy, gossip, backbiting, censoriousness and lovelessness.[2]

133:1 brothers. Those whose lineage can be traced to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. unity. While national unity might be on the surface, the foundation must always be spiritual unity. This would be the emphasis here, since these songs were sung by Jewish pilgrims traveling to the 3 great feasts.[3]

133:1 brothers dwell in unity. The expression appears in Gen. 13:6; 36:7, where a particular region could not support “brothers” (relatives) and their families dwelling close together. If this is the background for the psalm, then Ps. 133:1 describes a situation in which the land is fruitful enough for brothers to live nearby (perhaps a family inheritance, cf. Deut. 25:5). Since this is a Song of Ascents, the “brothers dwelling in unity” would be the fellow Israelite pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem, abiding in peace with one another. The ideal Israel is a community of true brotherhood, where the members practice mutual concern for one another; if this were achieved, it would indeed be good and pleasant. This should be the goal of church life (John 17:20–23).

133:1 Unity among God’s people is produced in Christ and in his Spirit (Eph. 4:1–6).[4]


133:1 dwell together in unity This expression probably reflects statements like those in Gen 13:6 or Gen 36:7, where extended families are described as being unable to dwell peaceably together because the land could not support them.[5]


133:1 brothers. This term could refer to family members, but here probably refers to tribal and national comrades as they unite in worship.[6]


133:1 “Brethren” denotes the members of the larger family of Israel. National unity is likened to: (1) the precious and sacred anointing oil used in the consecration of the high priest (cf. Ex. 29:7; Lev. 8:12); and (2) the refreshing and life-giving dew, known for its abundance on the slopes of Mt. Hermon (cf. 89:12, note). This exhortation to unity would, of course, be applicable to believers today (cf. Eph. 4:3). Cf. also 120:title, note.[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, pp. 935–936). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 762). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 133:1). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1110). 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 133:1). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 856). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[7] 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., Ps 133:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

September 24, 2017: Verse of the day

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“O Lord, make me know my end

and what is the measure of my days;

let me know how fleeting I am!

    Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,

and my lifetime is as nothing before you.

Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah

        Surely a man goes about as a shadow!

Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;

man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! [1]


4 Unable to resolve his problem, the psalmist turns to the Lord for instruction. The purpose of knowing life’s end is not that he may plan for every day of his life. He does not ask to know all that will happen but only what is the purpose of life. In the greater awareness of the brevity of life, he hopes that the Lord will guide him in an understanding and acceptance of this brevity. Notice the threefold mention of the brevity of life: “my life’s end,” “the number of my days,” and “how fleeting is my life” (cf. Ps 90; Job 11:7–9; Ecc 2:3).

Prayer is God’s means of instruction. In the quietness of prayer, the psalmist returns to the revealed insights pertaining to his life and to life in general. Because the question was personal, his first insight is personal. But the sage in him is not content until he has generalized it to be applicable to humankind.[2]


39:4–6 / The resulting prayer is not what we expect. It is initially a prayer about knowledge or insight (Hb. ydʿ is used twice, rendered in the niv by show me and let me know), not about a moral dilemma, but about how fleeting is my life. This is thus a prayer for perspective. The realization that he asks God to impress upon him (introduced in v. 5 with Hb. hinnê and emphasized in v. 6 with Hb. ʾak) is the span of my years is as nothing before you, and in fact, each man’s life is but a breath. Verse 6 shows the relevance of this prayer for the speaker’s moral dilemma: Man … bustles about, but only in vain (Hb. hebel, “as a breath”); he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. One’s life is too short of time and of guarantees to busy oneself with piling up things.[3]


39:4–6Lord, how long is this nightmare going to last? Tell me how much time I have left, and when it is going to run out. At best the span of my life is only about the width of my palm; compared to Your eternity, my lifetime isn’t worth mentioning. All of us humans are as unsubstantial as a vapor. We go through life like phantoms. We rush around in frenzied activity—but what does it all amount to after all? We spend our lives scrimping and saving, and leave it all behind to be enjoyed by ingrates or fools or strangers![4]


4–6 The burning question. Poetically v 4 asks ‘Am I going to die?’ This was the question he felt he should suppress before those who did not share his faith, for, with a heavenly prospect (49:15; 73:24) ahead why should he fear or resent dying? But the question will out and David faces the acknowledged brevity, insubstantiality and uncertain point of earthly life (5–6).[5]


39:4 For similar prayers about the brevity and burdens of life, cf. Job 6:11; 7:7; 14:13; 16:21, 22; Ps 90:12; Ecc 2:3.[6]


39:4 The threat of death hangs over all human existence and finds relief ultimately only through the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:12–26, 35–58).[7]


39:4 Let me know, O Yahweh, my end The psalmist asks for perspective and awareness regarding the brevity of human life.[8]


39:4 measure of my days. Their own short, hard lives tempted the faithful as they compared them to the prosperity of the wicked and questioned God’s wisdom and justice. See note Ps. 88:5.[9]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 39:4–6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 360). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (p. 188). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 609). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] 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. 511). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[6] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 39:4). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[7] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 986). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 39:4). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[9] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 770). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

September 19, 2017: Verse of the day

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23    If you turn at my reproof,

behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;

I will make my words known to you. [1]


23 The invitation takes the form of a conditional clause—“If only you’d respond” (NEB). Wisdom is firmly resolved to pour out her words (lit., “my breath,” a metonymy for words spoken, and not in the sense of “my spirit”) on those who respond. Like a copious spring she will gush forth to them.[2]


Wisdom promises blessing to those who repent (v. 23)

There is hope, however, that fools can change if they will only heed the voice of Wisdom, who offers to pour out her spirit upon the listener. Who would refuse such a wonderful and gracious invitation? Do you realize that you have been a fool? If so, you are well on your way to wisdom. Seek wisdom from God who will not refuse you (James 1:5).[3]


1:23 This verse may be understood in two ways. First, it may mean,

Since you won’t listen to my invitation, now turn and listen to my rebuke. I will pour out my spirit in words of judgment, and will tell you what lies ahead for you.

According to this interpretation, verses 24–27 are the words which describe their fate.

The second possible meaning is this:

Turn and repent when I reprove you. If you do, then I will pour out my spirit on you in blessing, and make my words of wisdom known to you.

The word “spirit” here probably means “thoughts” or “mind.” While it is true that Christ pours out the Holy Spirit on those who answer His call, this truth was not as clearly stated in the OT as it is in the NT.[4]


1:23 reproof. God’s wisdom brings to bear against the sinner indictments for sin that demand repentance. To the one who does repent, God promises the spirit or essence of true wisdom linked to divine revelation.[5]


1:23 my spirit. Proverbs recognizes wisdom as both a divine gift and a human task. The former is seen in 1:7, where the fear of the Lord grows from the grace of God in redemption. Redemption involves renewal of the mind as well as regeneration of the soul (Rom. 12:1, 2; 1 Cor. 1:18–2:6).[6]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 1:23). 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. 55). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Newheiser, J. (2008). Opening up Proverbs (p. 40). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 794). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Pr 1:23). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 874). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

September 18, 2017: Verse of the day

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17    I love those who love me,

and those who seek me diligently find me.

18    Riches and honor are with me,

enduring wealth and righteousness.

19    My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,

and my yield than choice silver.

20    I walk in the way of righteousness,

in the paths of justice,

21    granting an inheritance to those who love me,

and filling their treasuries. [1]


17–21 Wisdom rewards those who love her. The emphasis here is that Wisdom not only possesses all these attributes but also makes them accessible to those who seek her. Loving (ʾāhab) and seeking (šāḥar) point up the means of finding (māṣāʾ) Wisdom (v. 17). Those who find it obtain honor and wealth (vv. 18, 21). This honor and wealth come along the way of righteousness (v. 20), for divine blessing is always connected to obedience, i.e., ethical behavior. Earlier the teacher had instructed the disciple to walk in the way of righteousness; now we see that Wisdom walks in this way.[2]


Wisdom and Jesus offer you great rewards (8:17–21)

Wisdom loves and blesses those who love and seek her (v. 17). They enjoy success in their vocations, in their families, with their finances, and in their relationships. Jesus loves and blesses those who seek him (John 14:21; Matt. 7:7–11). Because we are by nature wayward and would never seek him (Rom. 8:7–8), he draws us to himself, giving us new desire for wisdom (Jer. 31:3; Rom. 8:9–11; 1 John 4:19). Just as Wisdom offers great treasure to those who seek her, so Jesus makes all who come to him spiritually rich, at great cost to himself (2 Cor. 8:9; Matt. 6:19–20; Rev. 3:18). In him we have an imperishable heavenly inheritance (1 Peter 1:4–5).[3]


8:14–21 Some of the rewards or benefits of Wisdom are:

Good counsel (v. 14a)

Sound judgment (v. 14b)

Understanding (v. 14c)

Moral strength to do what is right and to resist evil (v. 14d)

Leadership ability (vv. 15a, 16a)

Judicial skill (vv. 15b, 16b)

Affection and companionship (see John 14:21) (v. 17a)

Ready access to those who mean business (v. 17b)

Enduring riches coupled with honor and righteousness (v. 18)

Character that is worth more than fine gold or choice silver (v. 19)

Guidance in paths of righteousness and of justice, bringing wealth in abundance (vv. 20, 21).

We have already mentioned that these passages dealing with Wisdom can be fittingly applied to the Lord Jesus, since the NT refers to Him as Wisdom (Matt. 11:19; Luke 11:49; 1 Cor. 1:24, 30; Col. 2:3). Nowhere is the application more clear and beautiful than in the following verses. The Christian Church has consistently regarded this paragraph as referring to the Lord Jesus Christ.

What then do we learn about Christ in “this noble specimen of sacred eloquence?”[4]


8:17 love. Wisdom’s love for the one who receives it is proven by the benefits mentioned in vv. 18–21.[5]


8:17 I love those who love me reinforces the calls to seek wisdom (e.g., 2:1–4; 4:5, 7), for she will show favor and then grant multiplied benefits. Those who seek me diligently find me reinforces the promise that the Lord will give wisdom (e.g., 2:5–11; James 1:5) and its benefits (see Prov. 8:18–21, 35).

8:18–21 Riches and honor come with wisdom (this often happens when a society is functioning justly), but also something even greater: an unspecified kind of enduring wealth and righteousness (v. 18), a fruit that is better than gold and silver (v. 19), and an abundant inheritance (v. 21). While this description would include any material blessings that come to those who seek wisdom, these things cannot compare to the greater value of what is promised here: life and favor from the Lord (see v. 35).[6]


8:17 those who seek me diligently Both statements in this verse aim to motivate the reader to seek wisdom (compare vv. 18–19). The vocabulary of love suggests that in the pursuit of wisdom, there is a need not just for an emotional commitment, not just a pragmatic vision. Its attainment therefore involves heartfelt satisfaction.

8:18 enduring wealth and righteousness The pairings in this verse speak of honorable wealth. While unprincipled people may possess certain characteristics of wisdom, their wealth is not the kind described here because it lacks honor (see v. 20). Wealth and power are neither indications of the kind of wisdom God desires, nor are they necessarily indications of divine blessing. The writer avoids blessing wealth for its own sake.

8:19 My fruit is better than gold Wisdom is often depicted as preferable to gold or other precious metals (3:14–15).

8:20 I walk Indicates a habitual activity.

paths of justice The Hebrew word used here, mishpat, refers to a fair ruling or decision. It is associated with truth and righteousness. See note on 1:3.

8:21 I will fill their treasuries Wisdom promises rewards of permanence and continuity across generations (13:22). See note on 3:2.[7]


8:17 I love those who love me. The statements contrast with wisdom being hidden from fools (1:28, 29). Wisdom cares for her own (4:6, 8, 9).

those who seek me … find me. See 2:4, 5; 3:13–15. This suggests a relationship between wisdom and the grace of God that causes Him to draw near to us (Is. 55:6). Jesus, Himself the final revelation of divine wisdom (1 Cor. 1:24, 30; Col. 2:2, 3), possibly alludes to this verse in Matt. 7:7.

8:18 Riches and honor. See 3:2, 16. Solomon’s early reign was an example of the material and social benefits of wisdom (1 Kin. 10:1–9).

righteousness. This means obedience to God’s law, extending to the cultivation of right relationships between God, people, and creation. See Rom. 12:18; 1 Tim. 2:1–4.[8]


8:17–18. Wisdom, available to all, is acquired only by those who love her (cf. v. 21; 4:6) and seek her (cf. 2:1–4). Those who are wise receive riches and honor (cf. 3:16), enduring wealth (cf. 8:21; 14:24; 15:6; 22:4), and prosperity. “Enduring” is literally “surpassing” or “eminent.” The riches that come to the possessor of wisdom are genuine, not artificial substitutes purchased with silver or gold. Being honored in a community is a product of one’s walk (conduct) rather than one’s wealth by itself. “Prosperity” is literally “righteousness” (cf. v. 20). Godly living is the major benefit from having wisdom.

8:19–21. The word yield (v. 19) is a term used in the marketplace; the verb focuses attention on wisdom’s ability to produce benefits far superior to what fine gold (ḥārûṣ; cf. v. 10) and silver provide. Wisdom goes with righteousness and justice (cf. v. 8). The form of the Hebrew verb walk conveys the idea of walking steadily or continuously. (On the distinction between righteousness and justice see comments on Amos 5:7.)

As in many places in Proverbs, way (s) and paths are used synonymously (see comments on Prov. 2:13). As stated in 8:18, those who love (cf. v. 17) and acquire wisdom gain wealth (cf. 3:16; 14:24; 15:6; 22:4). Like many statements in Proverbs, this one is a generalization to which exceptions should be noted. Material substance is replenishable (keeping one’s treasuries full) because of the skill a wise person has to maintain it.[9]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 8:17–21). 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. 99). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Newheiser, J. (2008). Opening up Proverbs (p. 90). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 810–811). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Pr 8:17). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 1148–1149). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Pr 8:17–21). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[8] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 884). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[9] 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. 922). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.