2016 · David's Life · Encouragement · Food for Thought · Research

“But I Will Trust in You…” King David and the Art of Bouncing Back

Bestofblog“…I praise the LORD for what He has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me?
I will fulfil my vows to You, O God,
and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for Your help.
For You have rescued me from death;
You have kept my feet from slipping.
So now I can walk in Your presence, O God,
in Your life-giving light.” Psalm 56:10-13

When I was first getting to know David’s full life story, I heard a Rabbi say that David had endured a very hard life. I have to agree. He left a life of obscurity to follow a promise from the Lord, but along the way suffered demotions, multiple assassination attempts, long-term separation from his first wife, many years in hiding fearing for his life, wars, the death of at least four of his sons, long-term serious health problems, three uprisings against his kingship, multiple persecutions because of his faith… plus all the usual popularity and approval issues, which go with being the leader of a nation.

Aside from those problems, he dealt with some of the most toxic forms of stress which are commonly considered to be killers. His sources of stress were: constant, unpredictable and uncontrollable. That he died in old age, having cleared the nation of it’s enemies and having achieved so much for the Lord, is nothing short of a providential miracle.

Or could there be more to it than that?

When the Psalms are being dissected and preached about, there is nearly always an admiring acknowledgement of David’s ability to bounce back up while appearing to be sinking. Here is another example.

Psalm 13
“For the choir director: A psalm of David.
O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O LORD my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.
But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the LORD
because he is good to me.”

David often pushes himself from despair to hope, in a manner which has been said to appear bipolar. He isn’t bipolar in any respect. David knew how to pump up his morale and change a negative picture to a potentially positive one, by seeing the potential for the Lord to work for his good and by consciously determining to aim for a positive outcome. In some Psalms this took some time. For example, in Psalms 38 and 39 he appears disconsolate, however, in Psalm 40 that bounce appears. It’s a human, not an automatic, process.

David did this by reflecting on his past victories and by trusting the Lord, through prayer and praise. This determined action gave his circumstances new meaning. David also constantly turned to the Lord for direction, comfort and grounding and despite persecution from his own people over his unrelenting faith in God, he publicly praised the Lord and pointed the hearts of the people towards Him. David is inspirational.

As psychology has grown, researchers have spent more and more time looking at the positive aspects of human behaviour, rather than staying focussed on what can go wrong. Their findings help explain why David was able to keep his head above water, despite the forces that worked against him. In 2006 Richard G. Tedeschi and Lawrence G. Calhoun studied post traumatic growth, which is exactly what David experienced many times. This growth results in a positive attribute termed resilience.

This is a Creative Commons image. pikiwiki_israel_17643
This is a Creative Commons image. pikiwiki_israel_17643

Resilience is is when you fall down, but get up, and are able to do that repeatedly, becoming stronger each time you arise. It means expecting positive outcomes, despite the risks and stresses that come your way. It involves an ability to adapt when you just have to make the best of a tough situation and clinging onto your purpose in life.

Tedeschi and Calhoun’s work beautifully describes how resilience is enabled. While at first people may show high stress signs and be depressed or overwhelmed by what they have been through, in time they can grow to come through with:

– “Increased perception of competence and self-reliance.
– Enhanced acceptance of one’s vulnerability and negative emotional experiences.
– Improved relationships with significant others.
– Increased compassion and empathy for others.
– Greater efforts directed at improving relationships.
– Increased appreciation of own existence.
– Greater appreciation for life.
– Positive changes in one’s priorities.
– Stronger religious/spiritual beliefs.
– Greater personal intimacy with God.
– Greater sense of control and security through belief in God.
– Greater meaning about life and suffering through religion.”

If David was writing this, I am sure that he would emphasise the last four points, as he repeatedly did in the Psalms. It was faith that gave him the greatest lift; however, his own personality traits of perseverance, willingness to take action, empathy, teachability and bravery, also had an important impact on his resilience. The Lord moulds us like a potter moulds clay, but the process works better if the quality of the clay is good.

To be resilient, David also needed supportive people around him such as Samuel, Nathan, Hushai the Archite and Jonathan; and resilient role models. His mother is mentioned as a role model in Psalms 116:16: “Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains;” and 86:16.

How David dealt with his mistakes was also a major factor in determining his success. A positive attitude to mistakes has been found to enable people to make better choices in the future, which in turn increases their overall happiness and ability to function in life. Belting yourself up with guilt only sends you backwards. David responded to corrections by Abigail and Nathan and was always able to get back up on his feet, no matter what hardship or grief hit him. [Refs. 1 Samuel 25 and 2 Samuel 12]

If you feel you are low on resilience, take heart. According to the research, resilience can be taught and role modelled. Studying David’s life has certainly helped boost my resilience. I am inspired by his courage, gently rebuked by his righteous responses to stressful situations and comforted by his trust in the Lord. He is a blessing that has never stopped giving.

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Helpful References:

– Post Traumatic Growth: http://www.posttraumaticgrowth.com
– Post Traumatic Growth: Conceptual Foundations and Empirical Evidence: Richard G. Tedeschi and Lawrence G. Calhoun http://data.psych.udel.edu/abelcher/Shared%20Documents/3%20Psychopathology%20(27)/Tedeschi,%20Calhoun,%202004.pdf
– Resilience Videos on TED Talks: Search via https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=resilience+ted or enter “resilience TED” into search box.
– Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcGyVTAoXEU
– Firdaus Dhabhar: The positive effects of stress: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsc83N-Q1q4
– Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007.


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The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

2016 · What's Happening

Celebrating Chanukah 2016

chanukah-2016

About Chanukah

More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d.

When they sought to light the Temple‘s menorah (the seven branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah (candelabrum) lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.

Chanukah customs include eating foods fried in oil — latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (doughnuts); playing with the dreidel (a spinning top on which are inscribed the Hebrew letters nungimmelhei and shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, “a great miracle happened there”); and the giving of Chanukah gelt, gifts of money, to children.

IHLDY032

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2016 · David's Life · Encouragement · Food for Thought · Scripture

This is What Emotional Exhaustion Looks Like

IMG_0505
Paran, as in the settlement mentioned in 1 Samuel 25. This is a Google maps image screenshot for Oct 1015 (Copyright belongs to Google, of course…)

This part of David’s story and the image above, brings this song to mind.

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name,
It felt good to be out of the rain.
In the desert, you can remember your name,
‘Cause there aint no one for to give you no pain.   Dewey Bunnell, America

As King Saul’s unprovoked attempts to kill him wore David down, he moved further and further away from the centre of Isra’el, until in 1 Samuel 25 we see him and his supporters ekking out an existance guarding flocks in the centre of nowhere.

That is why I started with that map. Even now, Paran is in the middle of nowhere. It’s where you go when you’ve just had enough! The terrain screams desolation, hopelessness and misery.

Three thousand years ago, it was probably greener, but now it’s decimated by overgrazing. Paran is home to a small kibbutz and which the main industry appears to be selling solar generated power back to the grid. At least deserts are good for something… They are inhospitable places to hide, especially when you are isolated from your family, friends and community and are completely cut off from your centre of worship.

Many of us have felt the frustration and exhaustion that David was experiencing after years of running from Saul. We are all pursued by situations which dog us, whether we deserve them or not, and problems which simply will not go away. At times like that, it feels like the only path to peace is to get as far away from the maelstrom as possible.

But where does retreat get us?

David did receive a blessing in the form of taking Abigail as a wife, but that incident at Paran also almost led him to unrighteous murder. Then as the weariness he was feeling didn’t lift, the next step was to align himself with his hated enemy, the Philistines, in the hope Saul would finally ease off. Saul would never risk crossing a Philistine border.

David did need to pull his life back together again. I am not criticising him. He and his men had wives, children, livestock and a need for a secure living place and income. He was up against an enemy who wasn’t as easy to overthrow as Goliath, and his spiritual life would have been heavily strained. This was a testing period for him in terms of his ability to lead his men and live in a godly manner. Only by the grace and providence of God, he would have completely failed.

However, running led to sin. You never take shelter with the enemy and long term, this led to David losing his heart’s desire: the right to build the temple at Jerusalem. He paid a high price for this mistake, one he could never have foreseen at the time.

This period in David’s life is a reminder for us all to face our problems, rather than distance ourselves from them. We need to continue to believe in God’s ability to deliver us and not falter, no matter what uncertainties and pain we go through.

Think long and hard before you run. It may be far better to stand your ground and continue to sing God’s praises, no matter how tired you become.


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Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

2016 · David's Life · Encouragement · Psalms

Coping When You’re Persecuted for Your Faith

The album cover's copyright belongs to David Meece, the artist and his record label.
The album cover’s copyright belongs to David Meece, the artist and his record label.

When I was a teenager, David Meece had a popular song titled “Count the Cost.” The chorus lyrics are:

“You’ve gotta count the cost
If you’re going to be a believer,
You’ve got to know that the price
Is the one you can afford.
You’ve gotta count the cost
If you’re going to be a believer,
You’ve got to go all the way
If you really love the Lord…”

I believe that King David would have related to that song very strongly!

One of the things that surprised me when going through the Psalms, was the number of times that King David spoke about being persecuted for his faith. In the midst of the Psalms which speak of persecution by Saul, problems with his children and the threats of other kings, were verses that I had never noticed before.

David didn’t just give the people the gift of the Psalms and how to worship God in holiness, he also taught them the Torah (Word of God) and was persecuted for it. Spiritual leadership is considered to be one of the functions of an Israeli King, which is why kings were so powerful in leading people spiritually astray. David had a huge heart for his people’s spiritual walk, and put up with a lot of fierce payback, for speaking out about God.

Many of the Psalms in which David pleads for God to deal with his enemies justly, don’t only refer to David’s need to keep his throne and be safe. For David, as he was God’s anointed king, for him to be deposed would be for God’s will to be thwarted. For David to lose his throne early, would be for him not to have completed the Lord’s full purpose for his life. Thus it is acceptable that he should call down God’s judgement. An example of this is Psalm 17, a prayer of David.

Psalm 22:6 describes the ridicule David experienced because of his faith:
“But I am a worm and not a man.
I am scorned and despised by all!
Everyone who sees me mocks me.
They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
“Is this the one who relies on the LORD?
Then let the LORD save him!
If the LORD loves him so much,
let the LORD rescue him!” “

Later the Psalm goes on to say:
“O LORD, do not stay far away!
You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!
Save me from the sword;
spare my precious life from these dogs.
Snatch me from the lion’s jaws
and from the horns of these wild oxen.
I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
I will praise you among your assembled people.
Praise the LORD, all you who fear him!
Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!”

Being a king is a perilous business. Everyone wants your land, your people as slaves, your livestock, your property and any other wealth you possess. Being a king who has open faith and acts as a spiritual leader, is an even harder task, but David was willing to do it.
“Save me so I can praise you publicly at Jerusalem’s gates, so I can rejoice that you have rescued me.” Psalm 9:14

This is perhaps why, despite his sins, many of us stand up publicly as supporters of King David. We relate to his pain, as in many ways, it describes our own and we are encouraged out of our mess by his words; but we can also see the odds he was up against. The Psalms are full of David crying out to God, needing help which never seemed to come when he felt it was so sorely needed.

People like to cheer on the underdog and David, is often considered to be one. For all his military prowess, he lived a life which was appallingly hard: he dealt with many dangers from enemies, plus his own family; steered the people through famine… and then to have his own people, of his own faith, mock him when he relied on God for assistance? It’s heart breaking. Especially with his testimonies of how many times the Lord had delivered him out of trouble. Any of us in the same position would be left feeling abandoned, misunderstood and deeply hurt.

Yet with David, one thing never changed. He always expected the Lord to deliver him and the Lord did. David died aged seventy from disease. Two years earlier, he’d had the joy of seeing his son, Solomon, take the throne. Despite the odds, He Who has the Greatest Might saved his beloved son from all harm and honoured him as king. That honour continues, even today and into the future. From what other heart could the Messiah come, than from that of such a faithful servant?

Note: Scriptures which include David’s encouragement for others to praise God are many, but include Psalms 29:1-2, 32:11 and 66:1-4, which is considered to be David’s because of the style.


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Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

2016 · Encouragement · Food for Thought · Research · Scripture

Boldly Approaching God: The Example of David

baldhonestfaithWe are familiar with Hebrews 4:16: “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most;” and Ephesians 3:12: “Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence;” but what you may not know, is that boldness before God isn’t a New Testament privilege that arrived with Jesus.

This confident attitude in approaching God is evident in how David communicates with the Lord, and was also seen in Moses, Job and other Psalmists. It may look a little disrespectful sometimes, but it is a hallmark of a dynamic, covenant relationship with God.

“I cried out to you, O LORD.
I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,
“What will You gain if I die,
if I sink into the grave?
Can my dust praise You?
Can it tell of Your faithfulness?
Hear me, LORD, and have mercy on me.
Help me, O LORD.” Psalm 30:8-10 (See also Psalm 44 by the Sons of Korah)

I didn’t know about these ancient roots of boldness, until I read “Worship in Ancient Israel,” by Walter Brueggemann. On page 46-47 he writes: “Isra’el also engaged in truth telling about its life with YHWH in confession, lament and protest… Isra’el was not a submissive, second-rate player, but was a full, vigorous partner to YHWH with an unapologetic presence and an unembarrassed voice that refused to be silenced or cowed… Isra’el refuses to submit too readily to YHWH’s sovereignty when that sovereignty was seen to be unfaithful; in such circumstances, Isra’el instead of submitting, made a claim for itself against YHWH.”

Page 49: “Such speech, in its rawness, is in fact an expression of great faith; it expresses deep conviction that when YHWH is mobilised in order to honour YHWH’s covenantal commitments to Isra’el, YHWH has full capacity and power to right any situation or wrong. Thus the voice of protest and rage is characteristically in the service of plea and partition to YHWH.”

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I agree with Professor Brueggemann that calling God to action like this can seem irreverent. However, David is never rebuked by God for being too direct. God could destroy him for speaking out, but as David’s boldness is coupled with praise and dependence on God for help, He doesn’t. It seems that those without the faith to get in God’s face and speak their mind lose, and those with the faith to be bold, win. Honesty with God obviously pays off.

“Protect me! Rescue my life from them!
Do not let me be disgraced, for in You I take refuge.
May integrity and honesty protect me,
for I put my hope in You.” Psalm 25:20-21

Calling on God is submissive, rather than subversive. David could have taken his problems into his own hands and dealt with his enemies by the sword. Instead, he persisted in knocking on God’s door, and his perseverance got him a better answer.

If you study the Psalms, you will find that his entreaties to God are also tempered by praise and a promise to make an offering to God when deliverance has been granted. God gets His due recognition, gratitude and with David, the testimony of what God had done is also shared among the people via a Psalm, to encourage them as well. David’s brave, bold faith benefitted many people, including us today.

“Declare me innocent, O God!
Defend me against these ungodly people.
Rescue me from these unjust liars…”
verse 4: “Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise You with my harp,
O God, my God!
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise Him again—
my Saviour and my God!” Psalm 43:1 and 4-5 (Also see Psalm 66:13-15)

So are there limits to how bold we can be? Yes; the limits begin if we abuse the Lord, blame Him for our problems, or in short, cease to address Him with any attitude that doesn’t demonstrate the *fruit of the Spirit. He is merciful and patient, but He is neither a scapegoat, nor a punching bag. Respect is absolutely always called for, in every situation and praise absolutely must accompany these kinds of prayers. Submission is always a requirement.

There are times when like David, regardless of the trouble we are in and how urgent it is, we just have to wait patiently for an answer and keep hoping in the Lord. There are other times when due to complications, such as the effect of other’s free will on our circumstances, God can’t do as we ask, and we have to submit to His authority and wisdom, like it or not. Plus there are times when we’re wrong. Our ‘fix it’ answer was a poor one. In all these conditions we need to adopt the humble attitude Job had when he said:
“I know that You can do anything,
and no one can stop You.
You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.” Job 42:2-3
Despite how humbled he is, Job still has the courage to front up and reply to the Lord.

So the next time you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to be honest with God. He already knows every detail of your circumstances and feelings. so hiding what is really going on is impossible. The Lord has promised to **bless us with every spiritual blessing. We are ***beloved, treasured heirs with Christ, and He will always ****be on our side to help us through every trial and battle. Tell Him how you feel and ask for help… And don’t stop asking and seeking Him. You’re not crossing a line, you’re building your faith and a better, active relationship with Him.

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References:
Worship in Ancient Israel: An Essential Guide,” by Walter Brueggemann, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005.  ISBN: 0-687-34336-4. (Academically, theologically worded and not easy to read for the average person, but if you can get through the wording it is a massive blessing. I learned so much which reflected on my relationship with the Lord and encouraged me.)

*The fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22-23
**Every spiritual blessing: Ephesians 1:3
***Beloved joint heirs: Romans 8:15-17
****By our side: Deuteronomy 31:8 and Hebrews 13:5

Re: Psalm 43:4: “Then I will go to the altar of God…” This may refer to David planning to go to the tabernacle to give a peace offering as thanks, as per Leviticus 7:11-15.

Moses’ honesty with God can be seen here: “Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the LORD became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. And Moses said to the LORD, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favour and spare me this misery!” Numbers 11:10-15


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

2016 · Food for Thought · Scripture

Why Christians Still Need the Laws Set Down Through Moses ~ Simchat Torah 2016

Simchat Torah, or Shemini Atzeret, marks the conclusion and then renewal of the Jewish annual Torah reading cycle. It is welcomed with great celebration and is one of the highlights of the Jewish calendar. This article has been scheduled for this day, to celebrate the blessing the Torah brings to us all. Read more here.

MosesFangirl“Show me the right path, O LORD;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by Your truth and teach me,
for You are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in You.” Psalm 25:4-5

With the exception of the ten commandments, we tend to see most of the laws God gave through Moses as irrelevant, as we are justified by grace. I have needed to study the Torah (the first five books of the Bible,) to understand David’s actions and mindset; to my surprise, I have found that they make me feel more secure. I don’t need the Old Testament for just the feel-good Scriptures about how much God loves me, and what He wants to give me, I need the hazard warnings too. They are making how I relate to the world easier.

Western society in 2015, even for Christians, is very permissive. We live under the pressures of anti-discrimination and tolerance philosophies, and most of the time, they are excellent attitudes which do serve society well. However, as we were warned when political correctness began to become a societal standard, our willingness to include and accept everyone as they are, has indeed subtly eroded our understanding of what is sinful.

It’s become harder and harder to know where the lines should be drawn. I know what is wrong and right, but the part of my brain which has been taught by society to be empathetic, worries too much about offending, when instead, it should be identifying where the Word of God stands, and being brave enough to publicly say, “no.”

When the Lord bought Israel out of slavery in Egypt, He was dealing with a nation who had lost their sense of right and wrong. They were Hebrews living as Egyptians, in the same way that we are Christians, living as westerners. They took on the local foods, manner of dress, customs, social standards and culture, just as we have… and they had to be delivered from it. Not only that, but when you look at the masses of rules set down, they also had to be re-taught how to live as God’s people, with Godly attitudes and proper morals.

The Lord taught the ‘young’ Israelites everything they needed to know, right down to how to handle disease, how to avoid the risks of food poisoning and parasites in food, acceptable moral standards etc. They are  sometimes referred to as the ‘children of Israel,’ as they were the same as small children, who need to be bought up to know what was safe, and what was not. The young Isra’el also underwent hard training regarding the consequences of their actions, and had to learn obedience in small steps. Even then, they failed, as their sinful natures took over.

Even when Israel had grown into a mighty nation, and to this day, for our protection, we still need a loving Father to say, “no!” When the world starts to overwhelm our Godly mindsets, we must go back to the Word to be set on the right path again. The Torah is as relevant now in 2015, as it ever has been, and David relied on it heavily, to determine how to rule God’s people.

“Your regulations remain true to this day,
for everything serves Your plans.
If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy,
I would have died in my misery.”  Psalm 119:91-92  (This Psalm is thought to belong to David, because the wording matches his style.)

For many controversial moral situations, the Torah has a simple answer, which often is an outright no, for reasons which are best known to the Lord. Like the ten commandments, some rules were made for all time periods, and hot topics such as the sexual morality (not purification) laws are included in that. [Ref. Leviticus 18] I don’t have to know and understand absolutely every reason why God has forbidden some things, in order to decide what stand I should take on those issues.
“The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” Psalm 32:8-9

10438365_sWhere areas appear grey or discriminatory, I have to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing. Just because I don’t understand every factor behind why the Lord made any moral or ethical decision, should not make it questionable, or open to being changed and compromised by current ideas.

I don’t understand how quarks work or behave, but I trust God that He made physics to perform perfectly, and that the building blocks of the universe work to His design. So why have we stopped trusting His moral wisdom, when the rest of His plan for creation works so well? We’re fine with the natural systems and don’t question His wisdom there. (Except maybe for mosquitoes, fleas and snakes, but they do have their place. So I am reliably told.)

As pressure and stress bear down on me,
I find joy in Your commands.
Your laws are always right;
help me to understand them so I may live.” Psalm 119:143-144

Standards on stealing, murder, lies, social responsibility and fairness have also stayed the same. Even though we are made right with God through grace, the baselines of our faith have not changed. [See also Romans 1:8 to 2:16.] As Paul discusses the issue of sin in Romans 3, he quotes parts of Psalms 14, 5, 10 and 36, This demonstrates the New Testament relevance of the principles found in the Torah.

We need to go back to the Torah more, and allow the Lord to take Egypt out of us.

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9


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2016 · Video Resources · What's Happening

Sukkot, What Is It?

For the Festival Sukkot (Festival of Booths), an explanation of the significance and the symbols of the holiday. With Rabbi Mark S. Golub.