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Entries in Boice (3)

Monday
Aug182014

Defeated

James Montgomery Boice reflects on Psalm 40, discussing the reasons for David's words in verse 2, that he was dragged up from the "miry bog," as the ESV puts it (NIV: slimy pit):

Some people have a very different kind of pit from which they need to be lifted. It is the pit of personal defeat, whether at work or school or in the home or in some other setting or relationship. Some people would say that their entire lives have been one long and unending defeat. They have never succeeded at anything.

I do not know the answer in your specific case, of course. And I do not want to trivialize your discouragement or make light of it. But I can tell you this. God does have things he wants you to succeed at, and he will enable you to succeed at those, even though they may be different from what you are doing now. The place to begin is where David began. He began by laying his problems before the Lord. I repeat that I do not know what David was referring to by his metaphor of the pit, but there was a time early in his life when he could have spoken very graphically about his defeats. No matter what he did he was unable to please King Saul, and Saul in his hatred and jealousy of David ruthlessleslly hounded the young man from place to place. It was many years before the Lord intervened to remove Saul and eventually bring David to the throne. If you are defeated, bring your defeats to God. Wait on God. David "waited patiently for the Lord." That is how Psalm 40 begins (v.1). If you wait patiently, you too will learn that God has more important things for you to do, and he will give you significant victories in his own pefect time.

Wednesday
Aug132014

Delight in the midst of despair

The past few weeks have been a time for Psalm 37:

Fret not yourselves because of evildoers:
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

I've been reading Psalm 37 for a few days now, studying and thinking about it. When there are women being stoned for adultery, families suffering religious persecution, and all manner of wars and rumours of wars, it's definitely a time for Psalm 37.

In addition to these world wide evils, many people suffer their own personal evils. We do not endure the hard persecution like the people in Iraq are facing, but there are other, more subtle kinds. The darkness does not like the light. Christ is offensive to the darkness, because His light exposes the deeds of darkness. Of course, those of us who walk in the light will experience forces which wish to silence us.

Following the psalmist's opening lament, wisdom follows, instructing the believer how one can "fret not" in the face of evil. Verse 4 is one of the most loved bible verses:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

And of course, there are many who take this verse and assume it means something it doesn't. James Montgomery Boice has some good clarifying words regarding this verse:

The promise attached to this verse is that if we delight in God, God will give us the desires of our heart. This does not mean that God will give us any foolish thing we may long for. It means that if we are delighting in God and longing for God, God will give us himself.

In every situation, longing for God brings the promise of himself. When I am in a struggle, rather than looking for the relief from the consequences, I ought to be delighting in God, in what he has done, in his faithfulness, in his promises. Rather than hoping for a change in circumstance, my eyes should be lifted up to God, delighting in him.

I have heard pastors preach about this verse, and it usually includes the thought that if we delight in God, he will give us the right kind of desires. I think that's correct, but the way Boice puts it, the desire is God himself. God will give us a desire for him. And that's what we want, because desiring God means we will make choices that are in line with God's will. 

Earlier in this commentary, Boice also commented about those who don't delight in God:

The reason many apparent Christians do not delight in God is that they do not know him very well, and the reason they do not know him well is because they do not spend time with him.

Spending time with him; learning about him; those are reasons why I love to study. It was suggested to me recently that my developing aspirations of going to seminary had more to do with proving my intellect to others or bolstering my flagging self-esteem. Wrong. It's about the learning of Him. This is just who I am; a perpetual student. And what better subject matter than the God we delight in?

Monday
Dec022013

Christmas Greek Grammar

From James Montgomery Boice's book The Christ of Christmas, referring to Luke 2:10-11:

This is one of the most significant texts in the New Testament, for through a small grammatical detail (diected by the Holy Spirit, who inspired the biblical writers) two words give the fullest possible testimony to Jesus' divinity. When the angel said to the shephers that the child who had been born in Bethlemen was "Christ the Lord," the Greek words read Christos kyrios. The ending of both words is masculine and in the nominative case, thus making the words equivalents. If instead of this we had read Christos kyriou, which is a very common way of writing --- that is, with the first word in the nominative case and the second in the genitive --- the phrase would mean "the Lord's Christ." This would be an appropriate way to refer to anyone anointed to a special task in israel as God's prophet, priest or king. David would be "The Lord's Christ," for example. But that is not what the phrase says. Instead of reading "the Lord's Christ," we actually read, "Christ the Lord," which means "Christ, who is the Lord."

The sentence means that He, who by this time had already been born of Mary, was not merely the anointed one of God but was actually God now manifest in human form.