Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 25

OT: Judges 4:1-5:31

Simple question: how in the blazes did a woman become a leader over Israel? I know the Law didn't say anything specific about women not being prophets, though it was specific about men being priests. But just given the "vibe" of the Law and the attitude of the time, how did all the men come to listen to a woman? And how did she squeeze in the time between all the baby having and/or regular uncleanness? I find that situation to be remarkable...which is why I just remarked on it, I guess:).

This whole story is quite remarkable, actually. It is yet another one where I don't know quite what to think. It doesn't raise any new questions in the grand scheme of things, but I am having a little problem with Jael's motivation. What was up with that? What made her go the tent peg route? Where was ol' Heber during this time period, and what did he think upon his return?

Anyway, I am now going to share with you a genuinely "fun" fact. Let me set it up, first. I was struck today by all the humanness and messiness of this story. The messiest part of course, was the "tent peg through the temple" bit. The second "messiest" part was Deborah and Barak's song. I was particularly struck by their ruminations on Sisera's mother. First of all, it seems a little hard-hearted to clearly imagine and celebrate in song the agony you have just unleashed on someone's mom. Secondly, the seemingly approving mention of the practice of "finding and dividing the spoils: a girl or two for each man" (30) was a bit disturbing. I didn't care for it. For me, it reemphasized the humanity involved in the whole process (as did the fact that their song got the story wrong. Sisera didn't sink or fall, like verse 27 says; he was already lying on the ground.) Anyway, though, despite the corrupt humanity involved, God was clearly in the picture, too. Obviously, He was with Deborah beforehand, and He was with the army during throughout their victory. But He was also clearly presiding over the big picture.

I know this because He gives us a clue in this story. Greg told me something he had heard, and I looked it up, and it is true. Jael means "goat." Deborah means "bee." Do you see any significance there? I'll wait.

Milk and honey:).

It's a little thing, but I just loved that. I really do think that God does things like that to show us that He is the one orchestrating events. He promised to bring these people into the land of milk and honey, and despite their rebellion, He is keeping His promise.

NT: Luke 22:35-53

Today, I just focused on and sympathized with the plight of Jesus' disciples:

Jesus' poor disciples. They had to be so confused. Surely, they had in their head Jesus' remarks about suffering and dying, though they were not yet able to wrap their minds around that. Surely, they also had OT-prophecy-induced visions about a coming earthly kingdom of God. And then Jesus tells them to get swords.

Now you're talking! We were getting worried by all that "take up your cross" talk!

The swords are the first thing they mention back to Jesus: "See, Lord, here are two swords" (38). They are on it. They have already started their collection. (And where did they even get the swords? Were two of them packin' already?)

Then Jesus deflates their fledgling militia with, "That is enough."

See, to me, two swords isn't enough, because their are eleven remaining disciples, plus Jesus. That must have been confusing.

Then, it is off to Gethsemane. Apparently, the disciples' reaction to all the events up to this point isn't great, b/c they fall asleep, "exhausted from sorrow" (45). Why? Why were they so sad?

Regardless, confusion continues to reign when these exhausted men are jolted awake suddenly, only to see an approaching mob. They are still trying to get their head on straight and are probably trying to compute why their compadre, Judas, is leading the mob, all the while gaining a growing understanding of their eminent danger. When it clicks with them that Judas is betraying Jesus, one of them asks, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" (49). Such confusion. I would have hated this situation. I hate not knowing what to do during key events. Before Jesus answers, another one (Peter) takes out his sword and cuts off Malchus' ear. What a random act. Did he mean to cut off the ear, or was he just swinging wildly? Something tells me that these men were not used to wielding swords. And then Jesus ends any coming battle with his words, "No more of this," and his action of healing the ear.

What a confusing experience. No wonder most of the disciples ran away. I'm quite sure that that's what I would have done, though perhaps I would have been like Peter and John and a safe distance.

Psalm 94:1-23

I love psalmists. I love them b/c they remind me And that kind of comforts me. See, pondering God often puts me on a roller coaster. Up and down, back and forth. I try to figure it all out; I try to make the picture make sense, whether that picture is the Bible or the world around me. The psalmists do the same thing. Here is the process:

1. They weep, they wail, they question: "How long will the wicked, O Lord, how long will the wicked be jubilant?" (3). How long? That is the question of dissatisfaction, of discontent. It is a question of confusion.

2. They list all that is wrong with the world, all the things that don't make sense: "They pour out arrogant words...They crush your people...They slay the widow and the alien; they murder the fatherless" and so on (4-7). I can add to that list from what I see and hear about in the world. They abuse children. They torture innocents. They enslave the helpless.

3. And yet, they then chastise those (including themselves?) who don't understand that God is in control. They apply logic to the situation: "Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish?" (9-10).

4. They recognize that they just don't get it, and that God is beyond them: "The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile" (11).

5. They take solace in recounting what God has done for them: "Unless the Lord had given me help, I would have soon dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul" (17-19).

6. They reaffirm their faith: "But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the Lord our God will destroy them" (22-23).

Yep, I've totally been there. Um...yesterday, in fact.

Lastly, verse 20 puncture a little hole in the "divine right of kings." I wonder if that verse ever struck Englishmen in past centuries the way it struck me. Of course, most of them probably didn't have their own Bible...

Proverbs 14:3-4

I didn't really understand verse 4.


  1. Ha, the "milk and honey" thing is pretty cool. :)

    You know, I hadn't really thought of it before, but the Old Testament doesn't specifically say that women can't be leaders. It seem that the men probably wouldn't let them be leaders, but it doesn't say that they can't be, or that they can't be prophets. Other cultures had, you know, the Queen of Sheeba and women like that, but I never really thought much about the fact that she was a female leader. What is more interesting to me than the fact that Deborah was a female leader is that she was married. I wonder about her relationship with her husband, not that they would have had a problem specifically, but I would think that Lappidoth would have felt funny about the whole thing. I guess, though, if all the men were as cowardly as Barak, I can understand a woman rolling her eyes, sighing, and stepping up to the plate. When men decline to lead, it is hard for women to resist filling that role themselves.

    I have always thought the song was strange. I don't understand the purpose of it.

    Yeah, I wouldn't have wanted to be one of Jesus' disciples that day.

    I also like being able to relate to the psalms. Honestly, though, they never really did much for me until we (you) stared doing this blog. You have helped me to appreciate them so much more. I used to see them as just a bunch of poetic rambling. Now reading them helps me to see more depth in my relationship with God.

    My verse 4 in Proverbs says, "An empty stable stays clean, but no income comes from an empty stable." To me, this sounds a lot like the parable of the talents. We can do what is "safe" (or "clean" in this instance), but we gain nothing. It is better to risk a mess with the prospect of gaining something good than to do nothing even knowing that we would lose nothing. (Actually, in the parable of the talents, the guy did lose something.)

  2. The NIV version of Prov. 14:4 says, "Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of the ox comes an abundant harvest." I like the NLT interpretation of it, and you're right, the NLT version goes quite well with the idea of the talents.

    As for "us" starting a blog:), you know that I am so thankful for your daily contributions, mainly b/c I just love hearing what other people think about the Bible. As always, I don't want you to feel bad if you ever go awhile without commenting (seriously), but I just love the idea of interpreting Scripture within a communal context. I think it helps us get closer to the truth of what the Bible is saying (b/c you know my independent ramblings are definitely NOT doing it:)).

  3. I just loved the way you broke down that Psalm. But what I wanted to comment on is when Peter cut off that man's ear and Jesus healed it. Can you imagine getting your ear cut off by a sword...or anything! That must have been sooooo painful! He surely cried out, screamed his head off ... and then Jesus HEALED it. Didn't anyone notice????? At that point, if I had of been the mob that came to arrest him, I would have took off running!!! Come on, Jesus just healed the cut off ear! That just floors me!