OT: Lev. 25:47-27:13
God's cause and effect are different from "natural" cause and effect. In the rules of cause and effect laid out by him in today's reading, success comes from obeying God's laws, and failure comes from not obeying God's laws. Natural cause and effect says that success comes from hard work, wise decisions, and good fortune. And yet, God makes clear that the people's efforts toward success are in vain if they are not being obedient to Him.
I definitely think that these principles are ultimately true today. True, the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer (just like they always have), but from an eternal (read: real) perspective, only obedience to God brings success. Everything experienced in this life is a mere breath we take before entering into eternity.
I hate to be the one to take things to a metaphorical level when they are supposed to be literal. And yet, more and more, I read the ultimate truth of the Law as metaphorical truth. Yes, the laws were literal. Yes, they were physical commands, given perhaps for some physical reasons (like hygiene and food safety), demanding physical obedience. I do not want to take away from that. But at the same time, I am coming to see that the deeper meaning to the Law is metaphorical. The Law says a person is unclean because of what comes out of him/her, and by that, it specifically means (I'm sorry, everyone) blood and semen. Jesus clarifies that, yes, a person is unclean because of what comes out of him/her, and by that, He means "evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean.'" (Matt. 15:19-20). When you compare the Law with Jesus' clarification throughout the Gospel, you begin to see that the Law is ultimately a metaphor, a door to walk through to find God.
And thus, when I read that obeying God will lead to success and disobeying will lead to failure, I understand that, in the physical world, this is not always true. It wasn't even always true for the Israelites, as David can attest. But it is always true in light of eternity. I believe the Law was trying to teach us that principle.
NT: Mark 10:32-52
It's funny how Jesus tells his followers to be like children. I think His apostles act like children all the time, and not necessarily in a good way. James and John's request to sit at the right and left of Jesus is a great example. How childish is that? Who asks those types of things?? And the same is true of their earlier argument on the road about who was the greatest. Do adults really have such overt arguments? That seems so childish to me. Of course, I think Jesus is saying to be child-like, not childish. They mean basically the same thing, but they have very different connotations. We generally infer "child-like" to mean the good things about children: their faith, their innocence, their honesty and humility. "Childish" refers more to their selfishness, their egotism, their brattiness, etc. So the key, I guess, is to be child-like and not childish.
I love how Jesus elaborates on this point in verses 42-45. He says that Christians are to have the opposite hierarchy of the world. In the kingdom of God, those who are great are the servants, and those who are first are the slaves of all. What an amazing concept! I have to continually remind myself throughout the day to actively seek that humility and selflessness, to die to my own desires and "rights," and instead to pour myself out on God's altar as a living sacrifice. Easier said than done!
Psalm 45: 1-17
Well, this psalm isn't as good as David's are, but I still like the pictures of the royal wedding. And to its defense, the psalm was an "event poem," so it was written for a specific occasion, and not a result of spontaneous inspiration.
I love the line, "The king is enthralled with your beauty" (11a), and "All glorious is the princess within here chamber" (13a). Those lines (and accompanying sections) were referenced in the book, Captivating, which was the woman's version of Wild at Heart. I thought that book made some good points about the essence of women. I won't go into them here, but that is what these verses always make me think of.
"The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it." This verse is kind of the opposite of the "more money, more problems" philosophy set forth by the Notorious B.I.G. Yep, I just referenced that.