Archive for the ‘Books of the Bible’ Category

1 I will love You, O Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-3 (NKJV)

The Lord is my strength is the theme of this psalm. Each line tells us something about how this is true. For example, in verse 2, we are told “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.” Separating out the ideas within the verse, we find that three separate descriptive images:
1. Rock
2. Fortress
3. Deliverer

Each of these taken alone would be a great promise–a great character trait for God. But we see the three-fold majesty of Adonai in these verses. God is my Rock–that is to say, the foundation under me–that on which I am built. He is not shifting sand underneath me, but pure bedrock–immovable, unshakable, and unbreakable. He is eternal and unchanging.

Then I read that God is my Fortress–I understand that Adonai is my castle, the thick walls of protection around me. He is not merely in front as my shield (See Psalm 18:2b, 2 Samuel 22:3, Psalm 3:3) or behind as my rear guard (See Isaiah 52:12 and 58:5)–for He is both, but He is also all around me–a protection that encircles me.

Deliverer speaks of my escape. Fortresses can be taken or overrun, but God will be there to be my way of escape, my hiding place. (See Psalm 32:7)

These verses not only give this great insight into the character of God, but they also suggest the appropriate responses for us:
1. Love
2. Trust
2. Call

I will love You, O Lord, my strength. For God love is an action word. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 reminds us that love suffers long, rejoices in truth, bears all things, believes all things, and so on. This is the love that instructs our love. As He gives us strength, we respond in love. In the economy of God, love is manifest through obedience. (See Deuteronomy 7:9, John 14:15)

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. A castle is only as good as the confidence its inhabitants have in it. If I don’t believe the fortress will hold, I will run out of it, into the open field and be destroyed. If I don’t believe the deliverer will come, I will try to save myself.

Shield suggests that one might be a way from the fortress–in the throws of battle. In battle, the shield is the miniature fortress–it may be all that separates me from the blows of the enemy, blows intended to kill or maim me.

Horn speaks of strength. It is used in the Hebrew Bible many times as a metaphoric expression of physical and spiritual power.

Stronghold is a synonym for fortress or castle. It speaks as those words do of defense, protection, and safety.

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies. In this verse, I am reminded that because of all that God is to me and does/has done for me, I will call upon God (who is worthy) and through Him I will be saved from my enemies. Again, God is the answer to the dilemma–His is the One who will save. He is faithful and He will be there to answer when I call.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

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O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

I rise to greet You when the dew still soaks the Spring flowers.
The lush forest of your presence awaits me.
An alcove of lush green trees in the secret forest is my morning time with You.

Cool breezes, earthy fragrance, warm sunshine greet me as I walk toward You, arms open wide, anticipating Your embrace, Your Word spoken over me–my hope, my comfort, my strength, my teacher, my love.

Abba! Abba!
Good morning!
Blessings to You, my Father God–Creator–Redeemer–Almighty One–Precious Protector–High Tower–Imanuel–El Shaddai–Adonai Tz’avot–I am yours! You are mine.

Forever is ours, my eternal love!

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But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust [confidently] in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever. Psalm 52:8 (Amplified)

How am I like a green olive tree in the house of God?

I am well-watered by the Word of God which washes over me daily as I study the scriptures. I am planted in the fertile soil–plenty of manure has fallen all around me over the years making the soil rich. I live in the glory of the Son which shines perpetually on me. And because olive trees grow wild if not properly tended, Adonai, the gardener, regularly prunes me for better growth and production.

I don’t strive to grow or worry about my leaves being green enough or when the rain will fall or how my branches will be trimmed–I confidently trust in the lovingkindness of my God, my Abba–forever and ever. I am His and He has never forsaken the righteous.


Branches of an Olive Tree on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem

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God is in the midst of her

God is in the midst of her [His city], she will not be moved; God will help her when the morning dawns. Psalm 46:5

When someone first made me aware of this verse, I took it for myself–I substituted myself for “her.” I considered it a promise from the lips of my King just for me. He would keep me from being moved in my trial, taken off course, distracted, or destroyed. He was already meeting me in the mornings–my special time along with the King of the Universe.

Through further study and exploration of other translations, I discovered that the “her” wasn’t referring to a person–rather it was referring to a place, to Jerusalem–the Holy City of God. I must confess that I felt just the slightest let down upon the discovery.

It is not that I don’t believe the promise that God is with me and will be with me–that He will never leave me or forsake me. That promise is clear in the scriptures. It was just a miss reading and misinterpretation of this particular scripture.

I pushed into the scripture and found that I could still find great comfort in the scripture–perhaps even greater comfort than I had first found when I considered that God’s promise to be in the midst of Jerusalem was epic. So many end-times prophecies will and are being fulfilled in Jerusalem. She (the city) must exist in order for these prophecies to be fulfilled. So God’s promise to preserve and maintain Jerusalem brings great hope, especially when Jerusalem today and in the recent past has been the seat of much unrest.

God is in the midst of her–a promise from God is an absolute “sure thing.”


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My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.

He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.

In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.

Psalm 62:5-7

I love this. I see myself in the psalmist’s description of himself. I wait before God–Adonai Eloheinu–the King of the Universe. I bring everything–all of me–and I wait. The psalmist says, “my soul waits.” The soul speaks of the entire being–mind, heart, emotions. I hold nothing back–leave no thought to flutter away to other concerns. Every ounce of my being is focused on His glory and majesty–who He is and what He has done. It is a natural out-flow of the command in Deuteronomy 6:5 (the Shema) to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

I wait only for God–“for God alone.” I have no other Gods before Him. He is my heart’s one desire.

In the waiting, God comes. So I wait in His presence.

I wait silently. As Solomon said, “God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.” In the silence, I am filled with expectation–hope.

The Psalmist explains the expectation in verses 6 and 7: “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense . . . In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength,
and my refuge, is in God.” Several truths about God are embedded in these two short verses.

God is my rock–unlike sand or soil, He doesn’t shift or move. He is reliable. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is my rock of strength–a place where no enemy can reach me. He is a hiding place. In Psalm 27:5, the Psalmist tells us “in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” The imagery is similar to this section of Psalm 62.

God’s presence–His character as my rock and my strength–allows me to say with the Psalmist–“I will not be moved. I will not be shaken.”


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In the coming weeks, we are going to be posting Bible studies from the book of the Minor Prophets known as Zephaniah. It is a short book, but it has a powerful message–one that might prove useful even today. I recommend that you start your study by doing answering these background questions and reading through the entire book in one setting.

  1. Who is the author of the book of Zephaniah? When did he live?

2. When was this book written?

3. Who was the intended audience of the prophecies of Zephaniah?

4 .What does the name “Zephaniah” mean?

If you are interested in other studies in the minor prophets, we have posted studies through the following books:






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The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1.

Even the psalmist acknowledges the presence of darkness in his life. To expect that in our life with God we will never encounter darkness is naive and foolish. Darkness is the human condition made worse by pride and self-righteousness. (See Romans 1) The psalmist also acknowledges that fear accompanies darkness like a one-two punch.

But God . . . God is light. It is the very essence of who He is. He has control over light–and consequently, darkness. After all, He spoke light into existence. (See Genesis 1:3)

The beauty of light is that it doesn’t compete with darkness rather light banishes darkness. Darkness must flee when light comes. Although often considered opposites, light is so much more powerful than darkness.

That being said, it is important to remember that God is the original source of light. He brings light into me, His vessel, and fills me with it. His light in me represents the work of salvation in me and everyone who is born again. (See John 3:16-21) God entered the dark abyss of my God-less soul and banished the darkness that had been there by bringing the light of His presence. His light–His very essence–dwells within me.

For You cause my lamp to be lighted and to shine; The Lord my God illumines my darkness. Psalm 18:28.

Fear not, Beloved, God is your light and your salvation. He will not allow the darkness to overtake you. Stand fast.

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Wait for and confidently expect the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.
Psalm 27:14 (Amplified)

The Amplified version brings out some interesting nuances of this text. First of all, we see that it is not merely waiting that is required. Rather it is waiting for someone in particular, namely the Lord. Moreover, the waiting is not passive as one might wait for a bus or a train, but this is waiting with accompanying expectation–confident expectation in the Lord and what He will do. We can have this confident expectation because of the promises that God has made to us in His Word. Promises like . . . “I will never leave or forsake you,” “I provide a way of escape from temptation,” “I will deliver you,” “I’ll come back for you,” and many others. We are instructed by the psalmist to expect the Lord to do what He has promised to do as we wait for Him to do so.

We are told to “be strong.” The strength the psalmist has in mind is mental strength. This strength speaks of choice. We are to choose to believe God and His Word. We are to choose to allow the Spirit of God to reign in our hearts and minds. As the Spirit fills us, we will experience the resulting fruit of the Spirit, namely patience, long-suffering and self-control.

Once we choose to go God’s way, He will flood our hearts with courage–courage we know could never be our own. Once we are strengthened by this courage, we are able to wait. God is still and always in charge.

In this verse, the first phrase and the last phrase are the same; bookends that reinforce the beginning and the end of the matter–wait on the Lord. It’s worth repeating.

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I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2

In a previous blog post, (The Sacrifice), we discussed the first part of this section–the sacrifice. The second verse goes on to give further direction in terms of how to be that living sacrifice–“do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed.”

What would it look like to be conformed to this world? I think of the difference between a thermometer and a thermostat. A thermometer merely measures the temperature–in fact is conforms by either rising or contracting to reflect the temperature. It does nothing to change the temperature. In contract, the thermostat when reflecting the temperature is dropping, kicks the heater into gear. It impacts the temperature. That is what it means to not be conformed to the world–but rather to be a force for transformation.

How we should view the world is described in different parts of scripture. One helpful passage is 1 John 2:15-17 where we are told, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” For these and many other reasons found in scripture, we should not be conformed to the world.

This passage tells us some important facts about the world including what it consists of, namely “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” Also we learn that the world is passing away–it is temporary unlike God who “abides forever.”

How does one not be conformed by the world–it is all around us? James offers some suggestions: endure temptation (James 1:12), be doers of the word and not hearers only (James 1:22), seek wisdom from above (James 3:17), and do not be friends with the world (James 4:4). In Ephesians we are told to do all to stand in the battle. To that end, we are exhorted to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). These are not the only means to the end of non-conformity to the world, but rather they are a starting point. The Bible is meant to be studied and read over and over until the Word of God penetrates our hearts and minds and we become restored to the image of God inside and out.

The renewing of our minds occurs when we live and breathe God and His Word. We see a picture of this renewed mind in Philippians 2:2-5, “[be] like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:2-5 Unity is evidence that our minds are being renewed. It is one way we “prove the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

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1 Halleluyah!

How happy is anyone who fears Adonai, who greatly delights in his mitzvot.

2 His descendants will be powerful on earth, a blessed generation of upright people.
3 Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness stands forever.

4 To the upright he shines like a light in the dark, merciful, compassionate and righteous.
5 Things go well with the person who is merciful and lends, who conducts his affairs with fairness;
6 for he will never be moved. The righteous will be remembered forever.

7 He will not be frightened by bad news; he remains steady, trusting in Adonai.
8 His heart is set firm, he will not be afraid, till finally he looks in triumph at his enemies.
9 He distributes freely, he gives to the poor; his righteousness stands forever. His power will be increased honorably.
10 The wicked will be angry when they see this; they will gnash their teeth and waste away,
the desires of the wicked will come to nothing. Complete Jewish Bible

Sometimes I can imagine myself just resting in the words of a psalm, basking in the beauty of what the psalmist is describing. Psalm 112, starting with a wonderful Hallelujah, is a great hammock in which to swing under the shade of a well-watered, leafy tree near a spring in a place like En Gedi or Banias. As you swing back and forth in a steady rhythm and feel the breezes blow over, you can be reminded of all the good that comes to the man or woman who fears G-d and delights in his mitzvot or commands.

  • They will be powerful and they will come into their power in ways that are honorable;
  • They will be bless and righteous in their ways;
  • They will be wealthy and successful and fair;
  • They will be generous with what they acquire, helping those in need;
  • They will be an encouragement to the others who are upright;
  • The wicked will be greatly annoyed by them, but nothing will come of their hatred, plotting or scheming.

It is a beautiful picture–what a wonder this G-d of ours! He is good, good, good! His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

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