Bible Geek: How to Keep Scripture in Context

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“A text out of context, is pretext.”

If you try and prove a point by using only a phrase or a few words out of Scripture, you are using the Word for a purpose that it had never been intended for.

To keep the Word of God in context, you must:

  1. understand and quote the whole verse;
  2. take careful note of who it is addressed to, it may not be relevant to your audience within it’s prophetic or cultural context;
  3. take into account the meaning of the verses before and behind it;
  4. consider the message of the entire chapter;
  5. know and consider the section of the book of the Bible that your verse is in, and how that affects it;
  6. know what the book it is in, is all about (for example, a prophetic book is very different from an Epistle;) and
  7. understanding the Testament the book is in, (Old or New Testament.) Without that understanding, you won’t be able to accurately attribute the requirements for salvation, worship etc., in that time.

 

unknownAdapted from the work of Dr David Pawson, http://davidpawson.org

“A speaker and author with uncompromising faithfulness to the Holy Scriptures, David brings clarity and a message of urgency to Christians to uncover hidden treasures in God’s Word.”

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Bible Geek: Getting Your Facts Straight

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If you ever try and learn a topic – any topic – from just one point of view, you are in trouble. You will make mistakes that you don’t even know you have made, and that can lead to you looking somewhat silly.

One of the pleasures of formal study is that I get to raid University libraries and access information I don’t usually find anywhere else. However, I am often surprised at how badly the Bible is represented, whether it be by secular institutions or theological colleges. I have found the only way to understand David is to read, read, read and read: and that best includes studying archaeology, psychology, secular history, Jewish thought and customs and reading multiple Bible versions.

Here are a few one sided blunders which have made me go, “wow, you need to research more!” I am NOT putting them in to belittle the sources, but to remind you to study and be careful. The mistakes I have to go back and fix constantly humble me. We have to be responsible with the word of God. Differences in opinions are one thing, but bad research is quite another.

1. A particular version of the Bible, which paraphrases rather than going for a literal translation, likes to translate “David commanded” rather than “David said,” as all the others do. When you read “David commanded” several times in a chapter, he begins to look like a tyrant, throwing his weight around. I double checked the Hebrew. The correct translation was ‘said.’ Use a service like Bible Hub which allows you to check word use from many translations on one page.

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The House of David

2. A secular university, which will also remain nameless for reasons pertaining to slander and legalities, did a series on the Old Testament where they treated the Bible as they would treat any piece of literature: as an isolated, stand alone work. They had no understanding of the culture of ancient Israel or tribal values; they had no spiritual interest or interpretation, which was to be expected. The result was they took two pieces of Scripture with “the house of David” in them and came to conclusions which were so crazy off the bat, I was stunned. Had it been a lecture on physics, psychology or any discipline, facts would have been checked to ensure accuracy. But hey, it’s a mystical book, so no background research was done.

3. A Bible College principal on Youtube preached that Absalom’s hair was so heavy, because he sprinkled gold dust in it every day. This information came from the Roman “historian” Flavius Josephus, who was not an accurate source of information and the principal should have known that. Josephus has been accused of “exaggeration, inconsistency and sloppiness and corrupt transmission of names and numbers,” and the information he does get correct seems to be sourced from research he did with Roman archival data. Even books which publish his work directly address his errors in their introductions. [Sources: Century One and if you search for Josephus and error, you will get many, many results. He has a terrible reputation for anti-semitic bias as well.]

20150109_105710The cost of sprinkling gold in your hair (and the itch) does not appear to be practical. It seems that this is an area where you need to use some common sense. He also claimed that King David had an Egyptian like burial, which David simply would not have done. It was not in line with his beliefs, which are apparent in the Psalms, but that is a topic for another day… Orthodox Jewish women do wear wigs as a sign of modesty, but the Torah forbids men to dress as women, as that was undertaken in strange, pagan rituals, where processing worshippers dressed as half men, half women.


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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.

When You Don’t Know What To Say: How to Help the Hurting

iStock_000004961653XSmallI have been a social worker for thirty years and often, I don’t know how to comfort people. How silly does that sound? Because I have hurt deeply, when I see others in unbearable pain, I am reminded how inadequate words are. I understand how platitudes and cheerleading attempts fall flat. It’s because trying to make things better, or cheer someone up, does not acknowledge the depth of their pain.

It’s easy for all of us to retreat behind walls and rely on tired old phrases. “I wish I had the answers, but I don’t.” “Just keep trusting God.” That approach only leaves both parties feeling sadder and nothing gets better. So what is the cure for when you don’t know what to say? Here are the three most effective answers I know.

1. Just be there, listen and allow crying, hysteria and all manner of scary and awful reactions to come out, as that promotes healing.

2. Let them know they are not alone... Not just then. Ring them a day later, then a week later and then in another week and stick with them until they know they are NOT alone, even when everyone else expects them to be over it. Hurting people need to know that at least one person understands that healing is rarely fast, and that someone is still there for them.

3. Absorb the Psalms / Word of God, on the deepest level you can. Since I started studying David, that the black times are easier to cope with, as now I spend my comfort-seeking time in the Psalms. I go to David: the regular guy, who found himself in an extraordinary set of situations and who suffered the most appalling persecution, health problems, family issues and threats against him, for years and years and years… and came out happy, blessed and the right way up.

The Psalms are where we can hear someone who hurts like we hurt and does not minimise suffering, or use trite phrases. You’ll find comfort in relating to David’s pain and honesty, and then he’ll always send you straight back into the safety and healing that can only be found in the arms of God.

David has become my role model, not because he had a bag of magical answers, as he didn’t. What he did do, was constantly go back to the Lord in prayer, praise, study, submission and fasting, no matter what, and he made himself focus on the positive when it seemed impossible to. He is infectious. He will teach you how to float peacefully in the shark pool, by pulling you out of yourself, showing you a better way to manage your hurts, and he’ll teach you to fully engage with the loving heart of God.

I recommend that you read the Psalms so often, they get into your DNA. They will change how you think, react and cope with adversity. Read them until you dream them, wake up thinking about them and they inch their way into your mind at other times, during the day. Also try listening to Christian music which is heavily based on, or quotes the Psalms. That has helped me a lot. The Psalms were originally sung and it makes them much easier to remember.

The Psalms are the living, active Word of God with the power to comfort, heal and deliver and they WILL. Just give it time. The Word of God will never fail you.

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Further Help:
“How Long?” When Answers to Prayer Don’t Seem to Arrive
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33409

When You Can’t Be An Overcomer: Coping With Spiritual Failures
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33052

Turning Back the Darkness: Coping With Insomnia and Night Stress
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33051

The Habits That Built King David’s Faith
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33033

The Power of Praying the Psalms
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32076

“But I Will Trust in You…” King David and the Art of Bouncing Back
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32732


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.

The Habits That Built King David’s Faith

I love the positive feedback I receive through the King David Project. Hearing how David has blessed other people’s lives, blesses me! One comment which comes up quite often is “I wish I was like David!” I understand, as I feel that way too.

David was one of the few people in the Old Testament to be filled with the Spirit of the Lord, so we are actually able to be like David, in all matters of faith. It’s good news and I reply to people with: “you can do it; it will take time, as David’s own faith took a long time to build, but it can be done, if you are willing to invest your time in a deep relationship with the Lord.”

If you look at the details in between the most often quoted verses in the Psalms, you find references to David’s mother being a strong role model and you’ll also find that David worshipped and obeyed the Lord, from the earliest age a child is able (Psalm 71:5). The Psalms constantly reflect the values and teachings of the Laws which were set down by God through Moses, and David is an observant Jew (Hebrew to be precise. References to David’s mother are Psalms 116:16 and 86:16 and his righteousness is stated in 1 Kings 15:5.)

As they appear in the Scriptures, in the order of frequency, here are the habits that made David a strong man of God:

 

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Most of these are self-explanatory, but what do I mean by awe and wonder? This, aside from prayer, is my personal favourite, as it’s a characteristic I share with David. Awe and wonder is when you see what the Lord is doing in your life, in the people around you and through nature, and you are captivated. It’s when everything speaks of the majesty and love of the Lord, and it builds you.

“I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendour
and your wonderful miracles.” Psalm 145:5

We are commanded by God to remember His deeds to keep our faith level high, as David knew from the Torah (which is the first five books of the Old Testament.) Deuteronomy 4:9 says: “But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.”

David does this in Psalm 66, which speaks of the Lord’s deliverance and care of Isra’el. In verse 6 he makes a direct reference to the nation’s history, as it was recorded in the Torah. (See also Psalm 103 as another example.)

“Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
Your enemies cringe before your mighty power.
Everything on earth will worship you;
they will sing your praises,
shouting your name in glorious songs.” Interlude
Come and see what our God has done,
what awesome miracles he performs for people!
He made a dry path through the Red Sea,
and his people went across on foot.
There we rejoiced in him.” Psalm 66:3-6

A beautiful example of awe and wonder as acts of faith and worship is seen in the popular Psalm 8.
“O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
Your glory is higher than the heavens.
You have taught children and infants
to tell of your strength,
silencing your enemies
and all who oppose you.
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers
the moon and the stars you set in place
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them?
Yet you made them only a little lower than God
and crowned theme with glory and honour.
You gave them charge of everything you made,
putting all things under their authority
the flocks and the herds
and all the wild animals,
the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
and everything that swims the ocean currents.
O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!”

Similar Psalms include number 29, 33, 65, 66, 103, 139 145 and 2 Samuel 22 and 23:1-7.

Another aspect of David’s success, came from his repeated requests to have God judge him, in order that he would stay on the right path. It’s a beneficial habit for all of us to adopt and one that, to my own detriment, I neglect.

46580920_s“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
and innocent of great sin.
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:12-14

As David diligently sought God’s judgement and was very rarely judged, he was able to declare his righteousness before the Lord in defence, when he was threatened and persecuted. He often states his position when grappling with his (and Israel’s) need for deliverance. (e.g. Psalm 41:12 “You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever.” See also Psalm 139.)

I encourage you to follow David’s example. Meditate on what God has done for you; the wonders you see in creation and the testimonies of others that give you hope. Tell someone else, tell your children and enjoy living in awe and wonder.

“Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
let them proclaim your power.
I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendour
and your wonderful miracles.
Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
I will proclaim your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
they will sing with joy about your righteousness.” Psalm 145:4-7


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.

Turning Back the Darkness

“You light a lamp for me.
The LORD, my God, lights up my darkness.
In Your strength I can crush an army;
with my God I can scale any wall.
God’s way is perfect.
All the LORD’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection.” Psalm 18:28-30

Night is the worst time for any of us who are hurting. It is in the dark and quiet, when you can’t sleep and long hours stretch out ahead, that every fear, hurt and discouraging thought you can muster, catches up with you.

I have had insomnia for years and when I am stressed, it becomes uncontrollable. I sometimes get out of bed and try and do something to distract myself; but then I pay in exhaustion the next day. Through most of my time in bed, I simply stew over everything that is wrong.

That is one very bad idea!

When studying the Psalms, I’ve noticed that David talks a lot about the night time. It’s obvious that his troubles have kept him awake through many nights too, but there are a lot of positive Scriptures, which have me looking at the dark hours in a new way.

That time of quiet can be harnessed and used to build our relationship with the Lord. Instead of stewing, turn that rumination into praying. Then add the Word of God, and seek His company as you turn an awful time into fellowship. There is no guarantee this will generate an instant answer, but if it builds your walk with God into one which has some of the quality that David’s had, this is time exceedingly well spent, which will bring you joy.

Here is David’s approach to facing the night hours.

1. Search for correction, as well as healing, deliverance and direction!
“Tremble and do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.” Psalm 4:4

“You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night.
You have scrutinised me and found nothing wrong.
I am determined not to sin in what I say.” Psalm 17:3

2. Reflect on the goodness of the Lord in your life. That can only lead to praise.
“But each day the LORD pours His unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing His songs,
praying to God who gives me life.” Psalm 42:8

3. Meditate on the Word of God.
“I lie awake thinking of you, meditating onYou through the night.” Psalm 63:6
and
“I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.” Psalm 16:7


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