Done like a toast

The practice of reciting is impressive but pretty dangerous, and memorizing Bible sayings along with their book, chapter and verse references has been taken as secure wordwork. Both practices often overlook what the writer intended and the Psalms, being a source of popular expressions are often part of the phenomenon which I liken to “never done like toast”.

The speaker’s view of action: condition and events

The actions in a sentence fall into two simple categories according to Hebrew grammar. We like to think of them as time-stamped, which results in the recognition of English tense; past, present and future. Hebrew verb tense grammar, being only two, resolves more into TYPE of action than into TIME of action. Perfect tense resolves the business of action into a condition. We can call this the way things are. Imperfect tense resolves the business of action into incomplete and repeatable events.  We can call this the what’s going on model.

For I will not trust in my bow, Nor will my sword save me. But You have saved us from our adversaries, And You have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted all day long, And we will give thanks to Your name forever. Selah

Psalms 44:6-8, NASB
  1. I will not trust [imperfect]
  2. (Nor will my sword) save me. [imperfect]
  3. You have saved us (from our adversaries) [PERFECT]
  4. You have put to shame (those who hate us) [PERFECT]
  5. we have boasted all day long, [PERFECT]
  6. we will give thanks [imperfect] (to Your name forever.) Selah.” (Psalms 44:6-8, NASB)

“Doing the math”, accurately interpreting not always big deal for the translators

Toast, cracker, or untoasted are the simple choices for the translator, but the reader is often robbed of this currency.

  1. I won’t keep trusting my bow. I did not trust my bow
  2. Sword did not save
  3. You save us
  4. You shame
  5. We boast
  6. Let us give thanks

Giving God the credit

When we read something that appeals to us we are often eager to apply its benefits to ourselves.  We even pretend that we have invented a new thought or maxim, unaware that a hundred souls may be gobbling up the same messsge with varying expectations and emphases.  The one thing that rarely occurs – I know from experience – is that we give the credit to the Holy Spirit for opening that particular window into God’s heart.

Exegetes beware!

Even if the Biblical kernel is combined with an observation in nature a Messianic significance is necessary or the exercise is futile. How likely is a reader to look under rocks (in the text) without seeing them? How often does a sentence or verse appear in glorious maturity with the Cornerstone in place? The number of people finding light from a gold plated Ten Commandments box is equal to the crowd that walks around picking up gold nuggets that are strewn everywhere. No mining is necessary! Consider that and meditate before beginning a message run without giving credit to the One who hid the gold in the first place.

Off madly interpreting

One of the verified crazy and unlikely ways to rightly divide – correctly handle – the text of the Bible is that of using the existing divisions Old and New Testaments.  Conclusions of this sort are elementary and shortsighted.   If one thinks that the Messianic doctrine was plastered over every page of the Hebrew Bible we must understand how our Lord’s contemporaries so profoundly missed it and having seen his marvelous work and heard his gracious words. Let me suggest that occasions for the correct handling of the Bible’s message happen in the verse and the the sentence.

Exhibit A

Yahweh is my light and my salvation even when I am stumbling in fear.

Do our thoughts stop being ours when they range far from God’s? Do we suppose that we have God’s thoughts and ways?

Exhibit B

Psalms 28:7

The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.

Consider the following two landmarks.

  • God lives in unapproachable light and that is why the ancients presumed that one dies on seeing God. 
  • There was never a time when God was not Life, Salvation, Shield and Strength

Or maybe we want to believe in a God who changes?