On the June 22 readings – Part II

King David in Prayer, by Pieter de Grebber (c. 1640). . .


“June 22 – Part I” covered Genesis 21, where Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael out in the desert to die.  Turning to Psalm 86, the International Bible Commentary (IBC) said the writer kept imploring God “to hear him in his need” in verses 1-10, but with each new plea slowly moved from “self-orientation towards a focus on God Himself.”  (Which is usually the way it works. . .)

Another commentator indicated, based on Psalm 86, that the people who wrote the Bible were indeed just like us, which could mean it’s our duty to continue the ongoing story of the Bible “even to this day,” and beyond into the future. . .     But we digress. . .

Which makes this as good a time as any to mention the importance of David, shown above in prayer when he was “old and full of years.”   Traditionally David is given credit for writing half the 150 psalms listed in the Bible, though he was far from faultless:

He is depicted as a righteous king, although not without faults, as well as an acclaimed warrior, musician, and poet, traditionally credited for composing many of the psalms contained in the Book of Psalms. . .   David is an important figure to members of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths. Biblical tradition maintains the Messiah‘s direct descent from the line of David. In Islam, he is considered a prophet.

See David – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.   Turning again to this Sunday’s Psalm 86, verse 16 has a note of irony:  “Turn to me and have mercy upon me; give your strength to your servant; and save the child of your handmaid.”  (Which is what God did in the Genesis 21 story, save the child of Abraham-and-Sarah’s “handmaid.”)

In the run-up to Romans 6:1b-11, the IBC said Paul “personified” sin as – for example – a king or a slaveholder, “an external power alien to man’s true nature as God intended it,” an enemy that has invaded man and “occupied his ‘flesh.'”   However, “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

Which is another way of saying that Jesus wants us: 1) to come to Him, 2) to live a life of abundance, and 3) to perform even greater miracles than He did.  (See About this Blog.)

In Matthew 10:24-39, Jesus predicted future persecution for the twelve disciples, and said while they needed to “guard against men,” they were (and are) secure in their faith; “So have no fear of them. . .  Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”  Jesus also warned of disunity produced by the Gospel, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  Of this one commentator said:

This is taken from Micah 7:6.  Christ did not here mean to say that the object of his coming was to produce discord and contention, for he was the Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 11:6; Luke 2:14; but he means to say that such would be one of the effects of his coming.

See Matthew 10:34 Commentaries: “Do not think that I came to … (emphasis added).

Micah was a Hebrew prophet of the 8th century “before Jesus,” whose book “reproaches unjust leaders, defends the rights of the poor against the rich and powerful, and preaches social justice; while looking forward to a world at peace. . .”   (We’re still working on those.)   Note also, Micah used the idea a “covenant lawsuit,” with God suing the Hebrews for breach of contract, in Chapter 6:1-8.  (Did I mention that I was a lawyer in my former life?)

In Chapter 7, verse 6, Micah noted the results of such a contractual “breach:”

The godly man has perished from the earth, and there is none upright among men; they all lie in wait for blood, and each hunts his brother with a net. . .   The best of them is like a brier, the most upright of them a thorn hedge. . .  Put no trust in a neighbor, have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom; for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.

So what’s the solution?  One answer comes in Micah 6:8 (in the Living Bible), that God “has told you what he wants, and this is all it is: to be fair, just, merciful, and to walk humbly with your God.”


– The Scribe


The upper image is courtesy of Wikipedia.  The “seek justice” image is courtesy of http://thefinestkind.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/img_1748.jpg?w=529&h=396.


As always, to see the full readings for the upcoming Sunday, see The Lectionary Page.

As to “Another commentator wrote.”  What the commentator wrote was, “We may learn from the present psalm [86] that the great saints of old were accustomed to pray very much in the same fashion as we do.” Treasury of David—Psalm 86 – The Spurgeon Archive. , emphasis added.  Which again is a reminder that those who lived in Bible times – and indeed took part in writing the Bible – may not have been that different from us, or “special.”  

As to Micah 6:8, Cliff’s Notes on the Old Testament (1965 copyright, 1988 printing) called it “a clear statement of the prophetic religion at its best.”   It further noted that Micah understood “that Yahweh desires moral qualities on the part of his worshipers [sic] rather than sacrifices and burnt offerings,” and that he – Micah – had captured “the nature of true religion and the moral qualities it is designed to promote.”    (In other words it’s always easier to follow the letter of the law, rather than trying to live that darned-hard-to-implement spirit of the law.  See 2d Corinthians 3:6.)

See also What does it mean to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly …:

One of the most popular verses among both Jews and Christians promoting social justice is Micah 6:8. . .    The message of Micah is still pertinent today.  Religious rites, no matter how extravagant, can never compensate for a lack of love (1 Corinthians 13:3).  External compliance to rules is not as valuable in God’s eyes as a humble heart that simply does what is right. God’s people today will continue to desire justice, mercy, and humility before the Lord.

Which is pretty much what The Scribe is trying to say. . .

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