Psalm 113 and the “-ologies”



This Psalm is a reflection on the name of God (Yahweh) which is rendered LORD in most modern translations.


First I notice the variations on the phrase “Praise the Lord” which are all variations on the word Hallelujah (“praise Yahweh”).

  • Praise the Lord (hallelu jah)
  • Praise  (him) the servants of the LORD (hallelu abedey yahweh)
  • Praise the name of the LORD (hallelu eth shem yahweh)
  • Let the name of the LORD be blessed (yahi shem yahweh mebarak)
  • Praise to the name of the LORD (mehulal shem yahweh)

This reminds me of musical compositions that take a theme and vary it through the piece, both in classical music and jazz.  It seems a kind of memditation by repetitive variation.

Then I notice contrasts in categories of time, space, people.  So I made this outline.


These show the LORDS praiseworthiness in regards to

  • time (now and forever)
  • location (place of sun rising and setting)
  • the nations
  • the heavens (which the Lord has to stoop down to even see)
  • classes of people (Poor, princes, childless woman, mother)

It’s a bit ironic that in the tradition of the text, we change the actual NAME of the LORD to the word “LORD” so as not to break the commandment against taking the LORD’s name in vain.



David & Goliath for kids and grownups

We have been enjoying telling the Bible story to the congregation with the kids present and then preaching on the text when the kids go off to Junior Church.  This week it is David and Goliath.  So there are lots of silly things said about this.  The text is not really about how to take on your big problems (the Goliaths in your life).  Nor is it about David being a super hero.  The sermon is a work in progress, but at this point we need to note:

  • David came as the future anointed King (I Samuel 16).  So he comes at Goliath not as a personal problem, or because he is a busy-body, but as one who is given leadership.
  • The anointing symbolized the presence of the Spirit of God in a unique way with David – and so he comes as a chosen one, but not for his super powers.  The human estimate, by his own father, was not even to invite him to the meeting with Samuel.  David was the least likely to be chosen, or so it seemed.
  • Goliath was not only big but he was a blasphemer, this goes to motive.  This was not about David and his personal problems, but leadership for the larger work of God.
  • It is a story about faith – David expressed trust in God, who had helped him before as a shepherd.  He did not rely on Saul’s armor, but on what he had used before – a sling.
  • I don’t think the number 5 is important – maybe David did not think he would take out the Giant in one shot, so he gave himself time to get off more than one shot.  some people have allegorized this story to death.

Stay tuned – or if you are in Madison, join us on Sunday to see if this David and hit the PowerPoint Giant with a sling and bean bag.


Whose Staff is that? Exodus 17

Aaron and Hur support MosesIn Exodus 4:2 the Lord says to Moses, “what is that in your hand?”.

“A staff.”  Moses replied.

A simple walking stick, the tool of ancient travellers and of shepherds in the wilderness.  A weapon, a tool to rest upon, an object of comfort to we sheep (Psalm 23).

This is used in Exodus as a sign, when Moses turned it into a serpent, or perhaps a crocodile in conflict with  the lesser snakes of Pharaoh’s magicians.  Moses “staff” eats theirs.

This is used later to bring on 5 of the plagues against Egypt – Moses or Aaron would stretch out their rods and power would go out to bring on the frogs or turn water into blood.

Moses would reach out his rod and the Red Sea would part for a way of escape for Israel and destruction for the army of Pharaoh.

Moses would hit a rock with it in the desert, and water would come out to give life to the people.

Moses would hold it up overhead, giving Israel victory over the Amalekites, but when he sagged under the fatigue of it, they would fail, until Aaron and Hur came to hold up his arms.

(Exodus 4:2,4,17,20;  7:9,10,12,15,17,19,20;  8:5,16,17;  9:23;  10:13;  14:16;  17:5, 9)

However, when Moses spoke to Pharaoh, he tells the king that it is God’s staff that is being held out: “thus says the LORD, ‘By this you shall know that I am the LORD; behold with the staff that is in my hand, I will strike the water that is in the Nile…”

On the others side of victory, the song of Moses says: “You (the Lord) stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them.”

In the confrontation with Pharaoh it did not seem to matter if Moses or Aaron stretched out their rods.  This seems to explain it.  They were acting out what God was doing – it was God’s power at work, it was His hand and his rod that struck Egypt and later the Amalekites.

So we do not forget that it is not the great leader or the great tool (which is only a stick after all) but the LORD who brings victory.

Genesis 22 and Jesus – Fair?

John Walton says that it is not really fair to compare Abraham’s willingness to offer Isaac to the sacrifice of Christ.  He says that it is not mentioned in the New Testament.  (Bible Story Handbook)  Then again, a good OT scholar, Derek Kidner is not averse to making the link. (Tyndale OT Commentary).

One question is whether the NT is the only fair interpreter of the OT when it comes to Christological passages.  That is, we can only go where the NT has already gone.  On the other hand, it would seem in several places that there is a rich mine in the OT that is fairly compared to the NT, not all of which is in the NT.  Note these two comments:

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  Luke 24:17  This is the risen Christ giving a tutorial to the disciples on the Emmaus Road.  the book of Hebrews makes many connections as does Paul in I Corinthians.  For example, ” Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, to whom the end of the ages has come.”

There needs to be some care taken, so we don’t make up what is not there.   So what then is the case for comparing Isaac to Jesus?

1.  The phrase “your son, your only son, whom you love” evokes the feel of John 3:16 “…who sent his only son.”

2.  Isaac is the entire promised Seed of Abraham (seed can be singular or plural as in english) at that point of Genesis 22, all of the promises of God to Abraham, to bless him and the nations are down to Isaac.  There is much exegetical material indicating that Christ is the fulfillment of the “seed” promise, first mentioned in Genesis 3:15.

3.  The idea of a sacrifice and of a substitution is in Genesis 22.  The NT sees the cross as a sacrifice and as a substitution of Christ for the sinner in bearing the cost of sin.

4.  Isaac does not, in the end, have to experience death, but Christ does.

5.  God will provide (twice in Genesis 22) fits with Christ as God’s provision – for example John’s call, “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (Jn 1:29)

Now what for the arguments against.

1.  The NT does not cite this event in this way.

2.  Abraham’s sacrifice is a test, not a substitute.

3.  Jesus was willing, but we don’t know what Isaac thought.


In all it is fair to be careful, and not to overstate or over emotionalize the passage. However, it seems to me that the comparison is in the text when viewed from teh NT perspective.  Just as it seems to be that Moses offered to give his life in exchange for the people is also fair. (Ex 32:32)  What Moses was not permitted to do was what Christ did.  This also is not mentioned in the NT.

Also, we need to be careful not to allow the typology overwhelm the actual NT teaching.  There is a suggestion or a shadow of what is to come.  What came later can be understood in the light of what came before.  However, what came later more or less supersedes the previous.  The light of Isaac is not from Isaac, so much that he is a suitable surface from which the light of Christ can reflect.




Genesis 22 – not for the Kiddos?

John Walton in his book , The Bible Story Handbook, has some good notes on Genesis 22. However the last line says, “Finally, this is not a story to tell young children.”

So we are telling the story in church before the Children’s Church leaves the service.  this means all kids over 5 years are in church.

It is a hard story – Abraham asked to take his own sons life.  Is it too much for kids?  Will they become insecure at home?

It also depends on the telling – how much the story-teller magnifies the drama and the fear and loathing that went along with this event.  Something else to ponder this

Cartography is not in my future

It is sometimes helpful in reading the text to find a Bible Atlas or other resource and try to plot out the locations of the story. In Genesis 14 there are 11 kings, about half a dozen battles, and a number of geographic details that mapping clarifies.  It is nice to fond one that was done by an expert.  But scratching out your own map is an exercise in paying attention to the details. I cross referenced my two Biblical Atlases (Oxford Bible Atlas and New Bible Atlas) a Study bible (which often have maps in the back) and commentaries.

Above is my work.  It got me to thinking about getting goat-herd soldiers to take on a larger force of battle tested soldiers lead by a man with a vision from God.