288 – Psalm 11 – Introduction
Sometimes the Holy Bible seems like a huge book. Technically it is a collection of sixty-six books. Thinking about sitting down to read it from cover to cover seems like such a daunting task. This is when many of us turn to a Bible-in-a-year plan to break it into more bite-sized chunks. We turn our Bible reading into a daily task list. We feel good about ourselves if we make it through our daily reading, and are disappointed if we miss a day. We try to catch up to where we should be but if we get too far behind we may abandon the plan altogether telling ourselves “I’ll start again in January”.
I would challenge us all to think about our encounter with the Word of God a little differently. Think about it. If we read one book of the Bible a week then we would complete the whole Bible in one year and fourteen days. Ah, but those pesky leftover fourteen days! How could we trim those days off so we could get it done in a year? Ah, maybe I’ll just stick to someone else’s plan and try the one-year thing again.
Then there are those of us who are not goal oriented. We know we should read the Bible, but we could care less if we read the whole thing in a year or not. We’ll read the interesting stuff and skip the harder sections. I mean, have you looked at the book of Leviticus? Isaiah has sixty-six chapters. Some of it seems to make sense, but there’s a bunch of stuff we sort of just plow through.
Maybe I’ve lost readers by now. Maybe I’ve struck a nerve and made you feel guilty about your Bible-reading habits. Maybe you’re bored with the discussion – you really don’t care. The Bible is not a priority in your life beyond your regular church attendance. Let the Pastor do the studying and lay it all out for you every week. After all, isn’t that what he gets paid to do?
Regardless of where you stand on this topic, the struggle is a very real one among believers in Jesus and seems intensified as we approach the new year. And maybe that’s a good thing. We should struggle and fight to be in the Book. It’s sad to me, however, that there is no similar struggle over studying the Word of God. Too many people say, “I don’t know how to study the Bible”, and leave the discussion right there. They spend their whole Christian lives simply reading the Bible devotionally (or not) and never learn to study it. Oh, the joy of discovery we miss when we do that!
If I have any regular readers, one might be thinking, “there he goes beating the same old drum again! When will he get off his study-the-Bible-horse??” Can I be honest, I hope never! I’m not a very disciplined person. If I didn’t write about the Bible weekly, who knows maybe I’d rarely study the Bible myself.
So here’s my challenge to you. Why don’t you put a notebook and a pen next to you as you read the Bible devotionally? As you encounter something you don’t quite understand write down your question and the passage reference. At the end of the week pick one or two things on your list to explore further. Study the passage. Find other verses that might shed some light on what you read and didn’t understand. Look up the keywords in a source language lexicon and find the range of possible meanings. Make observations. Read and re-read what you didn’t understand. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit for illumination and guidance as you study.
If you want more ideas, make a comment on this post and I’ll be more than happy to make some suggestions. If you do it I promise you it will be an enriching experience for you. I’ve spilled a lot of ink and haven’t so much as mentioned Psalm eleven yet. Please read the seven short verses.
Yahweh willing, I’ll dig into this beautiful Psalm further next time, but for now I’d like to share a few observations I made while perusing this Hebrew poem. One of the first things I noticed in this short passage is that, unlike many other Psalms, this one is not a prayer. The Psalmist’s words are not directed to God. He is talking to someone who evidently is counseling him to get away to safety (verse 1). I also noticed the Hebrew word YHWH (the LORD in the translation) occurs five times (verses 1, 4, 5, 7) in the seven verses. What does this tell us? It tells us that the Psalmist’s focus is on YHWH.
Psalm 1:1 (NKJV)
1 In [YHWH] I put my trust; How can you say to my soul,
“Flee as a bird to your mountain”?
David challenges the advice he’s receiving telling him to run. I trust in YHWH, you know that, so why would you counsel me to run, he seems to be asking. Who does David put his trust in? YHWH, the God whose very name communicates to us that He has life within Himself. He uses this as a teaching moment to counsel his counselor. My life is not preserved because I flee to the mountain! My life is preserved by the living God YHWH who gives and preserves the lives of those who put their trust in Him! What a beautiful declaration of truth!
Next, I’d like to consider the phrase, “How can you say to my soul…”. You and I don’t talk like that, so what does it mean? Well, if we define the soul as our mind, will, and emotions maybe it will help us to understand. Maybe the person offering the suggestion is not simply throwing something on the table. Maybe he’s putting energy into attempting to convince David to run. David recognizes the passion by responding, How can you say to my soul, the very core of my being to run? Why do you try to get my total buy-in to the idea that running is what’s best for me?
Next time I’d like to look at the word “trust” in greater detail. I hope you’ve enjoyed considering these few observations. Maybe you’ve made a few of your own already. Feel free to share with the rest of us by leaving a comment below.
I never tire of proclaiming that Yahweh is so very good! He and He alone is worthy of all Praise, Worship, and Adoration! Won’t you worship Him with me today?