February 26, 2008

Arising Early (Mark 1:35-39)

Category: Bible - NT - Mark :: Permalink

Mark likes to play with the words for resurrection. Again and again in his Gospel, Mark tells us how Jesus raised up the people He healed or how they arose. He does not need to mention their posture, but he chooses to do so, emphasizing their rising. And the terms he uses are the terms associated in this Gospel with Jesus’ own resurrection.

On a first reading, these words may not jump out at us. But by the time we come to the raising of Jairus’s daughter and certainly by the time Jesus rises at the end of the Gospel, we should be able to see what Mark has been doing all along.

His Gospel is like a mystery novel. When you come to the end and you see what all the clues were leading up to, you can go back and read the book again and recognize the clues for what they are. And so, after finishing Mark’s Gospel, we can go back and read it again with the final scene in mind and see all the ways in which Jesus’ healings and the ways in which people rise or are raised foreshadow what will happen to Jesus and what will happen to those who belong to Him.

That much I learned from Mark Horne’s commentary on the Gospel of Mark, and possibly also from Austin Farrer’s A Study in St. Mark.  But today, as I worked on Mark 1:35-39, something else jumped out at me.

All the events in the preceding verses (Mark 1:21ff.) took place on the Sabbath. Now, Mark tells us, “early in the morning,” which would be on the first day of the week, Jesus arose and went out to the wilderness, where Simon and “those with him” (presumably Andrew, James, and John) hunted him down. From there, they did not return to Capernaum. Instead, they kept going to the other towns and cities in Galilee so that Jesus could preach there also. That, Jesus says, was the purpose for which he came forth.

Just as the rising of the people Jesus heals foreshadows Jesus’ resurrection and our resurrection, so too this is a foreshadowing of the resurrection. Mark even uses the same words at the end of his Gospel when he tells us that “early in the morning” the women came to Jesus’ tomb (Mark 16:2; cf. Mark 1:35) only to discover that he had already risen. Mark adds that this was “on the first day of the week,” as was Jesus’ rising in Mark 1.

While the word for “He has risen” in Mark 16:6 is a different word, in verse 9 Mark uses the same word that appears in Mark 1, adding the word “early” again and saying once more that this was “on the first day of the week.”

When the angel appears to the women, what he says also reminds us of Mark 1. In Mark 1, we’re told that “Simon and those with him” found Jesus. Now, the angel tells the women to give a message to Jesus’ disciples “and Peter” (16:7).  And just as Jesus told the disciples that he had come forth in order to go to the other towns in Galilee, now the angel wants the women to tell the disciples that Jesus is going before them to Galilee (16:7).

In Mark 1, Jesus is training the disciples for their future mission.  Jesus’ mission is not just to Capernaum, their home town, nor is it the kind of mission the people in Capernaum might want, a mission limited to healing and exorcism. Jesus came to preach, to announce the fulfilment of the time that the prophets had foretold, the time when God’s kingdom was coming. And that message had to go to all Israel throughout Galilee.

When Jesus rises from the dead, his mission starts with him leading the disciples to Galilee again. From the other Gospels, we know that they returned to Jerusalem later. But first Jesus led them to Galilee, where he sent them out to the world: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (16:15; cf. Matt. 28:16-20).

Their mission will start in Jerusalem, but just as Jesus didn’t allow Capernaum to be his center of operations to which everyone had to come for healing or to hear him, so Jesus doesn’t allow Jerusalem to be the disciples’ home base. Now people don’t flow to Jerusalem; now the disciples go out, following Jesus, to Galilee and then to the world.

Posted by John Barach @ 6:08 pm | Discuss (6)
February 25, 2008

Psalm 56

Category: Bible - OT - Psalms :: Permalink

A reminder: I’ve prepared these psalms for our liturgy, trying to be as accurate in my translation as possible. The alternation between plain text and bold is for responsive reading. I invite feedback on the translation!

For the director.
On a silent dove among distant people.
By David.
When Philistines seized him in Gath.

Be gracious to me, God, because man pants for me;
All the day, fighting, he oppresses me.
My foes pant all the day;
Indeed, many are fighting against me proudly.

The day I fear,
I myself trust in you.
In God (I praise his word),
In God I trust; I do not fear.
What will flesh do to me?

All the day my words they twist;
Against me are all their thoughts for evil.
They assemble; they lurk;
They themselves watch my heels,
Just as they wait for my soul.

By trouble is there deliverance for them?
In anger bring down peoples, God!
My wanderings you yourself count.
Put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?

Then my enemies will turn back in the day I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
In God (I praise the word);
In Yahweh (I praise the word);
In God I trust; I do not fear.
What will man do to me?

Upon me, God, are your vows;
I will perform a Thanksgiving to you,
Because you have delivered my soul from death —
Have you not delivered my feet from falling? —
To walk before God
In the light of the living.

Some comments on the translation of this psalm, which, though brief, seems surprisingly difficult to translate:

(1) The title is literally “on a silent dove, distant ones.”  The “distant ones” may be distant lands or distant people; I’ve opted for the latter here.  Many take this to be the title of a tune to which the psalm would be sung or perhaps a setting for the instruments, but it strikes me that Alexander is right and that it may be a reference to David, who is like a dove (Ps. 74:19), suffering in silence in his exile among the Philistines.  On the other hand entirely, if the Thirtle thesis is correct and Habakkuk 3 gives us the pattern for how Psalm titles and postscripts work, then this line may be the postscript of Psalm 55, in which David wishes he had wings like a dove so that he could fly far away.

(2) Any guesses as to what mikhtam means?

(3) In line 1, the word for “man” (enosh) usually refers to mortal, frail man, in contrast to God.  Later on, in the question “What will man to do me,” the word is adam.

(4) In lines 1 and 3, the word translated “pant” is often rendered “trample.”  It appears also in Ps. 57:3, where the meaning is ambiguous.  In Amos 2:7 and 8:4, many commentaries render it “trample,” taking it as a variant spelling of the usual verb for trampling, but I’m not sure that these passages (or any of the passages in which this verb appears) clearly speak of trampling.  So, following Alexander and Kidner, I’ve stuck with “pant.”

(5) In line 2, the word for “fighting” can mean both “dining, eating” as well as “fighting, doing battle.”  Alexander renders it “devouring,” as he does also in Ps. 35:1.

(6) In line 4, the term translated “proudly” here generally refers to a high place or a high social position, and sometimes to heaven.  Nouns in Hebrew, however, can be used as adjectives or adverbs and in Ps. 73:8, this same word appears to describe the way the wicked speak (“They speak loftily”).  Other translators take this word as an indirect reference to God who is on high, and so they render it “Most High.”

(7) Line 10 can be rendered something like this: “All the day, my affairs they hurt.”  In that case, David would be saying that they cause him trouble all day long.  So are they twisting David’s words or harming his “things, matters, affairs.”

(8) In line 12, the word translated “assemble” (following Alexander’s suggestions and how the word seems to be used in some other passages) can refer to an attack or perhaps even to stalking (which is how the NET Bible takes it).  In Ps. 140:2, it appears to refer to assembling for war, and that’s the sense here, too, I suspect: David’s enemies are gathering in order to attack him.

(9) Line 13, “They watch my heels,” may mean “they watch my steps” (see the use of “heels” in Pss. 77:19; 89:51; Song 1:8).  Alexander points out that “they” is emphatic and that fits best with taking “heels” as a description of these people: hence he takes this term to be shorthand for “supplanters,” people who grab the heel, as he does also in Ps. 49:6. The word here is, of course, the same word that appears in Jacob’s name.  That leaves the verb without an object (“they watch”), though I suppose it could also be “they guard” (that is, they are surrounding David like guards) which is often what the verb means.  Still, it seems simplest here to translate it “They watch my heels.”

(10) I’ve translated line 15 as a question because taking it as a statement doesn’t make any sense to me (“On/by trouble, there is deliverance for them”). It may be David asking whether they the trouble they cause can deliver them or even whether they can be delivered in light of the trouble they’ve caused.  Alexander leaves it as a statement and admits it’s mysterious.  Others emend the text, adding a “not” to the statement, but that’s not my preferred option.

I have wondered whether this could be a prayer: “Unto trouble let there be deliverance for them” (that is, “Let them be handed over to trouble”). Or perhaps it could be a statement about birth, since that’s one way the term for “deliverance” is used in Scripture (hence something like “Unto trouble they have been brought forth”). That would make the statement the grounds for the plea in the next stich.  But I don’t know that the term used here can be understood as a reference to goal or purpose (“unto”).

(11) In line 27, the word for performing here has to do with fulfilling a vow.  It appears that the vow includes the presentation of a thanksgiving offering to Yahweh.  Is there a better term than “perform”?  “Pay” is one possibility, but it doesn’t seem particularly helpful, given the economic connotations the term has for us.

(12) In line 29, the word translated “falling” is a strong term that refers to being pushed or knocked down.  Any suggestions for a better translation?

Posted by John Barach @ 4:47 pm | Discuss (0)
February 22, 2008


Category: Miscellaneous :: Permalink

I laughed and laughed when I saw this xkcd cartoon (HT: Remy Wilkins):

Posted by John Barach @ 9:29 am | Discuss (0)
February 21, 2008


Category: Theology :: Permalink

The other day, I was thinking about patience, which led to some thoughts on how we reify virtues.  In plain English, people treat patience as if it were a thing, something which some people have and others lack.”I don’t have a lot of patience for that kind of thing,” people say.  Or they say things like: “My wife has more patience than I do; the kids drive me nuts.”  “I’m running out of patience.”  Or: “If you’re going to take on that project, you’ll need a lot of patience.”

This way of talking doesn’t seem accurate to me.  Is patience something that you have, a quality that you possess somehow?  Or is patience something you display by continuing with a project in spite of all obstacles?  I suspect it’s the latter.  That is, someone can be patience (and thus can display “patience,” which is the quality of being patient), but a person cannot have patience as if it were a thing.  You can’t have patience in advance; you can only be patient in the midst of the project.

When someone says, “My wife has a lot of patience with the kids, but I run out of patience fast,” that makes it sound as if the wife (somehow) has gallons of patience while the speaker himself (somehow) ended up with only a couple tablespoons of it.  He simply has less to start with and so he runs out more quickly.  If only somehow he could get a bigger supply of it in advance.

Put like that, isn’t it obvious that this way of speaking is really an excuse?  The truth is that the guy who’s speaking puts up with the kids to a certain point.  Then they get on his nerves and he tries to control them so that they get off his nerves.  What he tries doesn’t work right away.  He gets impatient, and he allows himself to get angry.

But the very same things may get on his wife’s nerves and yet she perseveres.  She keeps speaking calmly to the children, correcting them gently, and so forth.  She doesn’t blow up.  She doesn’t throw up her hands and storm out of the room.  She remains patient.  What makes the difference?  Not that she isn’t bothered by what the kids are doing.  But also not that she has several gallons more of the substance called “patience” to start with.  The difference is that she keeps going.  She keeps doing what she ought to do.  She keeps parenting the children in spite of the obstacles.

Now by practice, she develops the kind of character that makes this endurance easier, and in our shorthand we call that character trait “patience.”  I suppose that’s okay.  But what we really mean is simply that she stays patient with her kids, whereas her husband doesn’t.  It’s not a difference in how much “patience” they possess.  It’s a difference in how they behave.

The same is true, isn’t it, with love?  People talk as if they possess love: “I have a lot of love to give” or something like that.  But love isn’t a substance you possess at a certain point in time.  Love has to do with how you think and feel and act.  If you’re treating your wife like dirt, you’re not loving her.  You don’t “have love for her.”

The same is true of perseverance, right?  Perseverance isn’t a gift God gives certain people.  It’s not as if the elect get a bunch of graces from God, some of which they share with the non-elect covenant members, but one of which they certainly don’t, namely, the gift of perseverance.  We shouldn’t reify perseverance.  That is, we shouldn’t turn it into a “thing.”  It’s not something you have to begin with (though you can, through exercise, develop traits of stick-to-it-iveness and perseverance in general).  Perseverance is really just persevering.

At least, that’s what I was turning over in my mind the other day.  Thoughts?

Posted by John Barach @ 6:30 pm | Discuss (3)


Category: History :: Permalink

Another good blog entry by Doug Wilson, from a few years back:

Dominion will never be understood through worry. The natural tendency of those who are able to identify trajectories is to assume that what they currently see will go on forever and ever. Herman Melville thought that civilization would end as soon as we ran out of whale oil. After a week of rain, farmers think that they will be ruined if the rain keeps up. After a week of sun, they start worrying about drought. A generation ago, everyone panicked about the population bomb, and so the western world threw itself into the gospel of birth control. But now we see the trajectory going the other way. It is a bomb all right, but it is the imploding kind.

A kind of uniformitarianism plagues our thinking, and interferes with genuine wisdom. We are like someone who is driving to a distant city, and who assumes that he must drive north by north east the entire time. But this leaves out a multitude of curves and bends in the road, and forgets his duty to follow the road. Cultural trends, projections, and trajectories are never absolute. Rather, they are just one leg of the road. Christians believe that human history is going somewhere; it has an intelligible destination. And, to return to the image of driving used earlier, we believe that God is the driver of the car. All the pundits, historians, social critics, art historians, et al. are nothing more than glorified back seat drivers. We don’t really know where we are going-and so we need to be more humble about the observations that are coming forth from the back of the car.

We walk by faith, and not by sight.

Posted by John Barach @ 5:04 pm | Discuss (0)
February 19, 2008

Handwriting on the Wall 2

Category: Bible - OT - Daniel :: Permalink

Back in January, I wrote about the introduction to James B. Jordan’s new commentary on Daniel, The Handwriting on the Wall.  Now here are some thoughts on the first two chapters of the book.

In chapter 1, Jordan sets Daniel in its covenant-historical context.  He shows, following Isaiah 48:3, how Israel’s history is divided into “former days” (basically from Moses to the prophets) and “latter days” (from the prophets to Christ). Then he traces how each of these broad periods goes through an opening prophetic period, an “Egypt” period, a priestly period, an interim period, and then a kingly period, which leads in turn to a new prophetic period.

I’m still mulling over some of what he said, but I appreciated his emphasis on a typological reading of Scripture and how what God does with Israel is a miniature portrait of what He is going to do now in the world in and through Christ.

Chapter 2 is a continuation of the material in chapter 1, setting the book of Daniel in its context in the history of God’s revelation. Most of the material in this chapter was already familiar to me from other things I’ve read, but I thought the presentation here was particularly helpful.

While we often speak of “prophet, priest, and king” in that order (and there’s some biblical support for that, as chapter 1 indicates), the progress in man‘s history is from priest to king to prophet.  Adam started out in God’s Garden sanctuary as a priest, serving and keeping the Garden (“serving and keeping” are terms later associated with priests in the tabernacle and temple).  Eventually, Adam would have gone out into the world to serve as a king.

Likewise, Israel starts out with priests but no king for several hundred years. Then there’s a kingly period, starting with Saul. And then the focus shifts to prophets like Elijah, Elisha, and so forth, and eventually there are no kings in Israel, but there are prophets.

Here’s a crucial paragraph:

God is revealing Himself to humanity in history. Also, since human beings are images of God Himself, it follows that as God reveals Himself to us, He is also revealing us to ourselves. Thus, human history can be seen as a course of instruction in who God is and in who we are. Since God is One and Three, history is unified, but history also spirals through three phases over and over again, as God progressively reveals more and more about His Tri-Personhood. There is an Age of the Father, followed by an Age of the Son, followed by an Age of the Spirit. Roughly speaking, these are priestly, kingly, and then prophetic ages (p. 31).

The rest of the chapter spells out this theme and this progression in Scripture in a way that helps us understand where Daniel fits in the history of God’s revelation of Himself and of us.

Jordan doesn’t work out the implications of all that he’s saying here.  For more of that, see his little booklet Crisis, Opportunity, and the Christian Future, as well as his monograph entitled From Bread to Wine.

I’ve found that this material also preaches well. In Advent 2006, I took my congregation through the themes of priest, king, and prophet in Scripture, showing what each office entailed, how Christ fulfilled those offices, and how we share in those offices.

In particular, in dealing with ourselves, I talked about God’s process of maturation, how we start out as “priests” (servants to hear and obey), mature into “kings” (who rule), and then mature further into “prophets” (who shape worlds with our words).

Yes, they were topical sermons in some sense (but no more than, say, a catechism sermon), but I thought it was important to show the congregation what God was doing with these offices in history and how they shed light on what God is doing in our lives.

This chapter was very helpful for understanding the flow of Scripture and how redemptive and revelational history “works.”  It’s also an aid to our understanding of the Trinity.  All too often, we treat the Trinity as if it were grounded on a verse here and a verse there, whereas it is actually grounded, not on scattered verses, but on the whole flow of Scripture and the way God reveals Himself in history.  Furthermore, this chapter lays a good foundation for understanding what God is doing, not just in the Bible, but in history in general and in our own lives.

Posted by John Barach @ 2:04 pm | Discuss (0)
February 18, 2008

Psalm 55

Category: Bible - OT - Psalms :: Permalink

A reminder: I’ve prepared these psalms for our liturgy, trying to be as accurate in my translation as possible. The alternation between plain text and bold is for responsive reading. I invite feedback on the translation!

For the director.
On stringed instruments.
By David.

Give ear, God, to my prayer;
And do not hide from my supplication.
Attend to me and answer me;
I roam in my thought and I make an uproar.
Because of the voice of the enemy,
Because of the pressure of the wicked;
For they bring down upon me trouble;
And in anger they oppose me.

My heart writhes within me;
And terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come into me;
And shuddering covers me.
And I said, “Who will give me a wing like a dove?
I would fly away and settle down.”
Look, I would wander afar;
I would lodge in the wilderness.  Selah.
I would hasten my escape
From rushing wind, from tempest.

Swallow up, Lord!  Divide their tongue,
Because I have seen violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they surround her upon her wall;
And trouble and distress are within her.
Destructions are within her;
And there will not depart from her street oppression and deceit.

Indeed, it is not an enemy who reviles me,
Or I could bear it.
And it is not one who hates me who magnifies himself against me,
Or I would hide from him.
But it is you, a man my equal,
My confidant and my acquaintance,
With whom together I enjoyed sweet counsel;
In the house of God we walked in the throng.

Desolations upon them!
They will descend to Sheol alive,
Because evils are in their dwellings, within them.

As for me, I call to God;
And Yahweh will save me.
Evening and morning and noon, I think and roar;
And He hears my voice.
He will redeem my soul in peace from the war against me,
Because many are against me.

The Mighty One will hear and answer them,
And he who sits from of old (Selah)
Will answer those to whom there are no changes,
And who do not fear God.
He has stretched out his hands against those at peace with him;
He has profaned his covenant.
Smooth are the butterings of his mouth
But war is in his heart.
Softer are his words than oil,
But they were drawn swords.

Cast upon Yahweh your burden, and he will sustain you.
He will never give shaking to the righteous.

And you, God, will bring them down to the pit of corruption;
Men of bloodshed and deceit will not live half their days.
But as for me, I will trust in you!

A multitude of comments about the translation of this psalm:

(1) In line 4, the verbs aren’t clear.  The first verb has to do with roaming or restlessness.  The second is often taken to mean “make a noise,” since it is related to a word for an uproar.  It may mean that he makes an uproar (see Micah 2:12).

(2) In line 14, David says that he will “fly and dwell.”  The word for dwelling has to do with settling, with finding a place to live, and so it also implies resting.

(3) In line 19, “swallow up” is a cry for the Lord to destroy, to wipe the wicked out.

(4) In line 25, the word for “man” implies frailty, mortality.

(5) Line 31 is impossible to translate exactly.  The verb is plural (“whom together we sweetened counsel”), but that doesn’t work in English.  I thought the singular form might work better. “To sweeten counsel” means to enjoy sweet counsel and fellowship.  The idea here is also that they were close enough to say things that were confidential.

(6) Line 32 mentions “the throng.”  This terms implies noise, and “throng” sounds noisier to me than “crowd.”

(7) Line 41 says that there were many “with me,” which might make one think that there were many people siding with David. It actually means that there were many contending with him, that is, many against him.

(8) In line 43, “sits” probably has the sense of sitting enthroned, sitting as king.  Lines 43-45 are complex and hard to reproduce in English, not least because of the interjection of “Selah” in the middle of the second sentence.  To make the thought clear, I supplied the words “will answer” in line 44.  I don’t know what “there are no changes” means for the wicked here.

(9) For an explanation of “smooth are the butterings” in line 48 and why the word has to be taken as a participle and not as a comparison (“smoother than butter”), see Alexander’s commentary.  Basically, it’s because the comparison would have different vowel pointing.

(10) In line 53, “not forever” could mean “never,” which is how virtually all translations put this.  Maybe that’s just the Hebrew idiom for “never.”  But it seems to me (without regard now for Hebrew idioms) that “not forever” expresses something different from “never.”  Is this line saying that God never sends shaking to the righteous?  Or is it saying that when he does send things that shake the righteous, he sees to it that the shaking is not forever, that it lasts only for a time?  I don’t know Hebrew well enough to say for sure.  Thoughts?

Posted by John Barach @ 4:48 pm | Discuss (0)
February 13, 2008


Category: Miscellaneous :: Permalink

Matt Bianco of The Bound Dragon let me know that he had tagged me for a book meme that’s making its way around various blogs.  Here are the rules:

1. Pick up the book nearest you with at least 123 pages. (No cheating!)
2. Turn to page 123.
3. Count the first five sentences.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five other bloggers.

I don’t often do these sorts of things, but I did happen to be sitting here near a book.  The book is Andi Ashworth’s excellent Real Love for Real Life:

We are often guilty of taking on more than God ever requires of us simply because it’s the way people around us are living.  We may feel that the more we give care, the more valuable, productive, and helpful we are.  We may even think that if we just give a little more, maybe someone will recognize us the way we want to be recognized.

As for tagging other bloggers, I’ll tag Pete Scholtens, Michael Shipma, Charles Chambers, Garrett Craw, and Jake Belder.

Posted by John Barach @ 5:24 pm | Discuss (3)
February 12, 2008

Psalm 54

Category: Bible - OT - Psalms :: Permalink

A reminder: I’ve prepared these psalms for our liturgy, trying to be as accurate in my translation as possible. The alternation between plain text and bold is for responsive reading. I invite feedback on the translation!

For the director.
On stringed instruments.
By David,
When the Ziphites came and said to Saul,
“Is not David hiding with us?”

God, in your name save me;
And in your might vindicate me.
God, hear my prayer;
Give ear to the sayings of my mouth,
Because strangers have risen up against me,
And oppressors seek my soul;
They have not set God before them.  Selah.

Look, God is a helper for me;
The Lord is among the supporters of my soul.
Cause the evil to return to my enemies;
In your trustworthiness destroy them.

With a free-will offering I will sacrifice to you;
I will praise your name, Yahweh, because it is good,
Because from all my trouble he has delivered me,
And on my enemies my eye has looked.

A few comments about the translation of this psalm:

(1) In line 1, “in your name” may mean “by your name,” as “in your might” in line 2 seems to mean “by your might.”  God’s name, Yahweh, indicates that he is the faithful God, and so, in keeping with his name, he will be faithful to David.

(2) In line 11, the word for “destroy” may mean “silence,” as it appears to in some other passages.  “To silence” is how Holliday’s lexicon renders this word, but most Bible translations use “to destroy” or “to cut off.”

(3) In the last line, “to look upon one’s enemies” is to gaze with delight at their destruction.

Posted by John Barach @ 5:43 pm | Discuss (0)

Two New Blogs

Category: Miscellaneous :: Permalink

Here are two new blogs you ought to check out: The Avenue, written by Steve Wilkins and Duane Garner, the pastors of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in Monroe, LA, and Biblical Horizons, written by many, many people.

Biblical Horizons is the ministry of James B. Jordan and some close associates, and I’ve learned from the material BH has produced for many years.  Furthermore, I’ve been a member of the Biblical Horizons mailing list throughout my whole ministry.  I’m delighted to see that now several of the members of that mailing list are putting some of their thoughts into this blog.  Read and enjoy!

Posted by John Barach @ 12:48 pm | Discuss (1)
February 6, 2008

Psalm 53

Category: Bible - OT - Psalms :: Permalink

A reminder: I’ve prepared these psalms for our liturgy, trying to be as accurate in my translation as possible. The alternation between plain text and bold is for responsive reading. I invite feedback on the translation!

For the director.
Upon mahalath.
By David.

A fool says in his heart, “No God.”
They act destructively and they do an abominable wrong;
There is no doer of good.

God from heaven looks down upon the sons of Adam
To see if there is one who acts wisely,
Who seeks God.
All of them have turned back;
Together they have become corrupt.
There is none who does good,
Not even one.

Do they not understand, the workers of wickedness,
Who eat up my people?
They eat bread;
On God they do not call.

There they fear a fear, where there was no fear,
Because God has scattered the bones of your besieger.
You have put them to shame,
Because God has rejected them.

Oh that from Zion would come salvations for Israel!
When God returns the captivity of his people,
Let Jacob rejoice!
Let Israel be glad!

A few comments about the translation of this psalm:

(1) In the title, “mahalath” may be the name of a particular tune to which the song is sung.  But it doesn’t appear anywhere else.  The word itself appears to be related to a word for sickness, and perhaps “upon mahalath” means “on the occasion of sickness.” We don’t know what maschil means.

(2) This psalm is a variation on Psalm 14.  It’s interesting to compare the two.  Notice, for instance, that Psalm 14 uses the name “Yahweh” but this psalm says “God” (Hebrew: Elohim).  There are some more significant differences, too.

(3) The first line is often rendered, “There is no God.”  But it’s not just a denial of God’s existence; it’s a denial that God is relevant.  God’s response is an echo of these words: “No one doing good.”

(4) “They eat bread; on Yahweh they do not call” may mean that they eat David’s people like bread.  Or it may indicate that they feast on bread but don’t call on the Breadgiver, as Israel did in the wilderness.

(5) “Fear a fear” is a typical Hebrew expression, using the same word as a verb and as a noun for emphasis.

(6) “Oh that …” is literally “Who would grant … ?”  It’s an expression of a great wish: “If only someone would give me what I long for!”

(7) The phrase “return the captivity” is used when God restored Job’s fortunes.  It may refer to a return of captive people, but it may also refer to the restoration of anything that was lost.

Posted by John Barach @ 4:52 pm | Discuss (0)
February 4, 2008

Feminism & the Trinity

Category: Theology - Trinity :: Permalink

A few years back, Doug Wilson wrote this helpful comment about feminism and the Trinity.  Here’s a little more than a paragraph to whet your appetite:

Unfortunately, many traditionalist Christians have assumed that feminism can be effectively opposed with something that might be called “not feminism.” A moment’s reflection should reveal the problem here. There are many things that are “not feminism” that are also “not biblical.” Take the Saudi view of women for just one example. Take rape for another.

Feminism is actually a Trinitarian heresy, but unfortunately many of the Christian world’s “not feminism” reactions are equally heretical.

To read the rest, click here.

Posted by John Barach @ 4:33 pm | Discuss (0)