David and Psalms – Psalm 52 and Psalm 54

The virulence of the psalms is hard on our post-Sermon on the Mount ears.  However, we need to recall some things.

  • The Old Testament operates on a more material and present struggle.
  • David was being pursued by Saul and many others as he fled from place to place and lived by his wits.
  • Great massacres were accomplished (I Sam 22) and threatened (I Sam 23).
  • David’s prayers were for justice and vengeance.
  • David did “turn the other cheek” with Saul (I Samuel 24, 26).
  • Even the New Testament looks forward to judgment and vindication that is material. (Revelation).

Psalm 52 is set against the actions of Doeg found in I Samuel 22.  The psalm contrasts Doeg who trusted in his might and connection to power, to David who trusts in the Lord.

Psalm 54 is set against David’s flight through the desert regions from Saul, and his choice first to rescue a city and then leave it when his new-found friends were shown to be likely to betray him to Saul under a siege.

Attached is a worksheet on Psalm 54 with a map of locations mentioned in this Period of David’s life.


Theologian of the Year – Albrecht Dürer

For the past 15 years I have preached a sermon from church history on the Sunday nearest Oct 31.  This commemorates the day in 1517 that Martin Luther posted the “95 Theses” which set of the Protestant Reformation.

This is the first time I have used an artist.  I was preaching on “The Arts and the Word” this year so I chose Albrecht Dürer.

Here is the Sermon – 4.Theologian of the Year.Durer.web

Here is the PowerPoint – 4.Theologian of the Year.Durer

14 Books

14 Books

The C. S. Lewis society of Madison sponsored a conference on the 10 books that most influenced that great author.  It raised the question of the most important books to me, so here is my list, which grew to 14.  These are books that influenced my faith and sense of calling to ministry, in almost alphabetical order.

Answering God, Eugene Peterson.  This work shows the value of the Psalms in the prayer life of a believer.

The Confessions, St Augustine, translated by Henry Chadwick.  The first Christian autobiography and at one time a healing balm to my soul.

Child Craft book of Fairy Tales.  My mother read these to me as a child and there are some that I still quote.

Diet for a Small Planet,  Frances Moore Lappé.  One practical way I can contribute to the health of the earth and its people.

Ecclesiastes.  This O. T. book explains why I am in ministry, and with all Wisdom Literature, shows that both content and skillful expression are important.

Ephesians.  This N. T. book explains why the church is so important.

Founding Brothers, James Ellis.  This is a work on the period of the American Revolution, and stands in to represent this large section of my library.

The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand.  I am not fond of her politics, or of her literary style, but this book has affected my view of art and of the limits of government.

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair.  I had to jump this up to make a counter point to Ayn Rand, as this warns of the danger of unregulated commerce, and speaks of the flaws in human nature.

I Married You, Walter Trobisch.  This is great teaching from scripture on marriage as well as a model of pastoral ministry.

Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  I keep passages from this in my “back pocket” to keep me from both hubris and despair in ministry.

Luther’s Works, Martin Luther.  Ok, this is 55 volumes, so I will just mention two articles, “Two Kinds of Righteousness” and “The Freedom of the Christian.”

Lincoln at Gettysburg, Garry Wills.  This is important on the art of speaking; it is the history of the Gettysburg Address.

Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan.  A shoemaker without formal education wrote a masterpiece of theology and preaching.

Psalm 34 – Acrostic Imitations

We tried out own had at acrostic Psalm writing, by putting Psalm 34 in our own words.  Here is the version from our Sunday Evening Study.

Sunday Evening Study’s Psalm 34

  1. All day long I will praise the Lord
  2. Boast and be glad in the Lord
  3. Come with me to worship and Praise the Lord
  4. Deliverance came from the Lord when I sought him for relief
  5. Everyone who trusts in God is secure
  6. For Christ saved the poor man from his troubles
  7. God surrounds us with his love and protection
  8. How good it is to trust in the Lord; He is good.
  9. I will fear the Lord.
  10. Join the banquet
  11. Know the fear of the Lord; Knowledge comes from God
  12. Live life every day
  13. Manage your tongue; mention only what is true
  14. Never do evil; seek peace
  15. Oh never forget the Lord.  Always listen
  16. Put evil behind you and look to the Lord
  17. Quickly the Lord delivers when they cry for help.
  18. Rely on the Lord when you are broken hearted
  19. Surely the Lord saves us all the time
  20. Thanks to God for fulfilling prophecy
  21. Understand the end of the wicked
  22. Victory is ours in Jesus.

Below is my Version

  1. Always praise the Lord
  2. Boast only in the Lord
  3. Come and Praise the Lord
  4. Deliverance is from God
  5. Everyone who trusts in God is secure
  6. Free me” I cried, and he answered.
  7. Guardian angels protect us
  8. He is worth a try
  9. I have never lacked
  10. Join the Banquet
  11. Know what it means to revere God
  12. Life is from God
  13. Mention only what is true
  14. No” to evil; “Yes” to peace.
  15. Oh, Call on God; He listens
  16. Pity the fate of sinners
  17. Quick is the Lord’s reply
  18. Renewal is only a little away
  19. So much trouble; so much help
  20. Total care is what he promises
  21. Understand the end of the wick3ed
  22. Victory is in the Lord.

Q & A – Why Should We Believe the Bible?

Why Should We Believe the Bible?

There are a number of ways to answer this question.  These may not prove that the Bible is inspired, but they are consistent with that idea.

1.  Textual History

  • We have an increasing number of Old and New Testament manuscripts that tend to point to very old history.
  • It was popular in the 1900s to say that the Gospels were written after the year 200.  We have good reason to date parts as early as within 30 years of Jesus Life (Galatians).
  • The Old Testament bears literary similarity to 2nd Millennial BC documents.
  • We have more historical documents about Jesus life than we do about Julius Caesar.

2.  Distance from Event to Writing

  • Buddhist writings were composed as much as 6 centuries after the life of Gautama Buddha.  Buddhists are not very sure of the Century in which he lived.
  • The New Testament was composed within the life time of eyewitnesses, and they record a shared “oral tradition” from the early preaching of the church.  I Cor. 15:1-5 records that which was already received as established teaching by about 55 AD.

3.  Continuity

  • The Bible is written in 3 languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) over the course of many centuries by over 30 authors.  Yet it has a continuity in it’s story line and in its details.  (think how much writers, artists, politicians and scientists change over much shorter periods of time.)
  • This suggests that God is the author behind the authors.
  • There is a lack of internal contradictions: once the supposed contradiction is studied, it is usually found to be a matter of contrast or emphasis.

4.  Historical Accuracy

  • The Bible describes the Hittites, who were not believed to exist until their civilization was discovered in the 1900s.  You can study Hittite at the U of Wisconsin.
  • Luke’s use of terms for political offices and regions within the Roman empire in the book of Acts would be hard to replicate by someone who did not live in that time.

5.  Prophetic Accuracy

  • Daniel describes a succession of Empires that looks very much like the succession of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome.  So much so that some try to back date the prophecies to explain the fit.
  • Ezekiel 26 describes the historical (future) destruction of Tyre.
  • Jesus was born, lived, died and rose according to Old Testament prophecies, none of which he could control.  (How much say did you have on where you were born?)

6.  Fit to Experience – the Bible describes things that are a fit to how life is.

  • The succession of seasons, the reproduction of plants and animals by kind are accurate.
  • The sense of morality, of our need for eternity, of the existence of a creator within the human hearts cannot be easily explained.
  • The brokenness and injustice of this world is realistically described.
  • Even the heroes of the bible are imperfect (with the exception of Jesus)

7.  The Classic Argument for the New Testament

  •  We have no reason to doubt the historical accuracy of the witnesses to Jesus life (unless we pre-judge that miracles are impossible).
  • These witnesses describe Jesus as the son of God and give evidence of his miracles and teachings.
  • In his Teachings, Jesus showed he believed the Old Testament was given by God and was reliable in its details.  (Mt 9:12-13/ Hos 6:6; Mt 19:3-6)
  • There were many witnesses to Jesus Resurrection – a claim that many died to tell.  (I Cor 15)
  • Thus from Jesus authority, we hold that the Old Testament is the word of God and it is true.  (Mt 5:17-20  ; Jn 10:34-35)
  • Jesus claimed such authority for himself and for his Apostles after his departure.(Mt 7:24-29; Jn 17:6ff)
  • It is consistent to take the New Testament as God’s word and reliable.
  • It is not consistent to claim Jesus was a Good Teacher if so much of his teaching was mistaken.

8.  What about Biblical Scholars who reconstruct the Bible as a human document only?

  • Consider their presuppositions:  e.g. Miracles do not exist; God cannot be cited as a reason for an event.
  • Consider their limitations:  The biblical material is the main source for understanding Ancient Hebrew – and this is used to inconsistencies of style or vocabulary by scholars working 20 to 30 centuries later.
  • Consider the Bible – a “living book” – scholars are limited to studying the body (grammar) and not the spirit (revelation, inspiration, illumination of the Holy Spirit.)

9.  Consider the centuries of testimonies of those who have received grace and meaning from the words of this book.