July 31, 2007

1 Ch 26-29

Remember to re-read Deuteronomy 32:1-4, the Seasonal Canticle for this month; you can find the comments by following this link.

A depiction of Bathsheba asking David that Solomon succeed him as kingI can remember as a child being very disappointed when the dramatic picture on the cover of my comic books misrepresented the story that was inside. I even remember seeing a cover that made fun of the fact that the cover scene did not appear in the story itself. Today’s image for our reading of 1 Chronicles 26-29 is sort of like that. Although the image also apparently shows Zadok or Nathan anointing Solomon, the image primarily depicts Bathsheba asking David to make their son Solomon king as David’s successor (to see a larger version of the image click it; a data loss at this time prevents me from indicating from where we got it and linking you to that version.) In the chronicler’s account of Solomon’s succession there is no mention of Bathsheba’s request or, for that matter, Adonijah’s arrogance that prompted Bathsheba’s request (see 1 Kings 1:1-27). I usually try to stick to what we know from the account we are reading at that time, but in this case it serves to illustrate how the Divinely-inspired chronicler is selective with the details he provides in order to best serve his purposes. Of course, Chronicles is not the only book of which that selection is true, but we rest assured that God has provided all we need to know to repent and believe the Good News of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (You can find my previous post on these chapters here, and there is a folo on 1 Chronicles 29:21-22 and the multitude of sacrifices here.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 1 Chronicles 29:29 and Nathan’s and Gad’s books. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 as the Old Testament readings on the Ninth Sunday after Trinity, and hymn #28 from The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to 1 Chronicles 29:11-12.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 30, 2007

Ps 56 / 1 Ch 21-25

You may remember that after the events of September 11, 2001, more people were going to church for a time, and then after awhile attendance dropped back to where it had been before the disaster. That fact came to my mind today as I read Psalm 56, especially the first verse that speaks of those who take refuge in God until the disaster has passed. (You can find my previous posts on more of the psalm by following this link.) There’s an old war-related saying that there are no atheists in foxholes, but that says nothing about the soldiers when the danger has passed. Although at first we might think otherwise, the psalmist is not speaking like that. The psalmist has flown to God for refuge in the past and even now continues to take refuge in Him. We should not think that even after the immediate danger is over that the psalmist would think he no longer needs God’s protection, but rather we should think that now he feels himself to be especially in need of it. As long as we receive God’s forgiveness of sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we have all we need, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t still seek out His protection to greater or lesser degrees as we feel the threats against rise and wane. Thanks be to God that He is there as we do seek Him out and that He always provides us the spiritual protection we need.

American-born contemporary arist Darlene Slavujac Thau’s depiction of David and Solomon talking about plans for the TempleGod promises to work all things together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28, for example), and it is a blessing when we can see that come true in our lives or at least in the lives of others. Today in our reading of 1 Chronicles 21-25 we can see how God brought good out of the evil census David carried out and the punishment that resulted. In the wake of God’s mercy in sparing Jerusalem from destruction, David purchased the site for the Temple and stepped up his plans for it. (The image with this post is American-born contemporary Biblical artist Darlene Slavujac Thau’s depiction of David and Solomon discussing plans for the temple, and note the awe of the task and privilege of completing the plans that is indicated on Solomon’s face; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) In a similar but broader way God used humankind’s sin as an opportunity to show us His great love, by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins so that we will not be destroyed eternally in hell. Praise God that He freely gives us that forgiveness through faith, and, with His grace, persevere in that faith! (You can find my previous post on 1 Chronicles 21-25 here, and there’s a folo on 1 Chronicles 21:15 and God “repenting” here, although Dr. Murray and I exchanged emails about the philoshopical aspects of that topic last summer and I don’t think ever completely agreed we each understood them the same way.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 1 Chronicles 21:2 and God and the evil spirits. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Chronicles 21-25, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 1 Chronicles 21-25.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 29, 2007

Ps 55 / 1 Ch 16-20 / Biblog folos

How many of us think of ourselves as having enemies? Do you? We probably think of enemies of the kind we read of today in Psalm 55, human enemies that at one time might even have been close friends who then betrayed us. A good Lutheran might quickly respond that the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh are our enemies, and that’s true. But, what about God? Is God our enemy? Martin Luther could write that God is the enemy of all human beings, who are by nature sinful and unclean. But, God in Christ is also our friend, Who forgives our sin by grace through faith. The devil may try to convince us that God is only or remains our enemy, but the Holy Spirit teaches us all much better than that. Human enemies will come and go, rise and fall, but through them all our heavenly friend sustains us (v.22), and, with the psalmist, we trust in Him (v.23). (You can find my previous posts on this psalm by following this link.)

Larry Axelson’s photo of the symbol below the King David stained-glass window at Grace Lutheran Church in Elgin, TexasNext we go from reading a psalm to talking about psalms. From 1 Chronicles 16-20 we hear how David not only used psalms but appointed that they be used. The King David stained-glass window at Grace Lutheran Church makes the connection between David and the psalms and their role in faithful worship by picturing the psalms with a Star of David. (The photo is by Larry Axelson; to see a larger version of the image click it.) Although the historicity of the Star of David as actually used by David is quite questionable, the connection between David and the Psalms is not. Nor are there questions about the right use of the psalms in faithful worship today. We should not need commissions or bylaws to make us do what Spirit-wrought faith has brought about in Christians for millennia: hearts and lips that give praise, thanks, and petitions unto the Lord. (You can find my previous post with more about today’s reading here, and there are Biblog folos on 1 Chronicles 16:37-38 and 18:4 here and here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Chronicles 16-20, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 1 Chronicles 16-20.

I’ve let a few Biblog folos accumulate again, and I want to dispense with them today. First, in Thursday’s post regarding Psalm 52 I wondered whether it was the evil-speaker whose shame or nakedness was exposed, and a reader emailed to take the other view, that the shame or nakedness exposed was that of the person being spoken evil of. The reader pointed out how people’s false statements can affect us and how even truth taken out of context can be twisted. The reader also brought to mind how a straight razor can be used as a weapon and suggested that the victim of the evil speech might even be destroyed. The reader further pointed to James 3:8-10 and how the tongue should not be used to curse people who are made in the likeness of God Whom we bless with the same tongue.

Second, also in Thursday’s post but regarding 1 Chronicles 5:1 a reader commented on firstborn Reuben’s losing his birthright and Joseph’s line instead getting the double share that normally went to the firstborn. I had to go back and take a look at that, because the chronicler is the only one who seems to make the connection between Reuben’s sin and Joseph’s children Ephraim and Manasseh both inheriting land. Usually the explanation is that since Levi’s descendants had the Lord as their portion that the 12th allotment had to go to someone else, and the double share due the firstborn doesn’t usually get mentioned. In Jacob’s blessing of his sons and in Moses’s blessings of the tribes we still find Joseph and Levi blessed, as well as Reuben. As the reader rightly points out, however, the name of “Joseph” is not attached to a tribe, but the names “Ephraim” and “Manasseh”, the names of Joseph’s sons, are attached to tribes. The chronicler seems to have some additional information beyond that what we have in the Pentateuch, as also in the case of David’s challenge to his generals to take Jerusalem and how Joab came to be commander of the army (1 Chronicles 11:4-9 compared to 2 Samuel 5:6-10).

Third, regarding the image of Michelangelo’s “David” used in Friday’s post, a reader suggested David might be left-handed. As a “southpaw” myself, I was intrigued! I guess depending on what kind of slingshot it was, Michelangelo could well be portraying David as left-handed, which is kind of surprising given the usual views of left-handedness. The reader was not the only one to make that observation (see here, for example). Similarly, I mentioned to the reader that I thought the right hand was disproportionately large, until I saw the statue from behind (may not be suitable for everyone) and saw that there was a rock in his right hand. The reader sent this link, which presents yet another view, one that is supposedly the intended view, and also includes some discussion of and links to more talk about the slings. (Incidentally, this last page notably says the item in the right hand is not a rock but the other end of the sling.)

Fourth and finally, regarding the image in Saturday’s post and my suggestion that Mary, Elizabeth, Jesus, and John the Baptizer are in the corner, a reader emailed the following comment, “I think it might very well be the King who would secure David’s line forever. Why else have a couple of women and babies doing their own thing at the edge of a triumphal procession scene?” Why, indeed!

God bless your day, and may you let Him make it holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 28, 2007

Ps 54 / 1 Ch 11-15

Deists and others think of God as a clockmaker, Who created the universe and then left it to its own devices. (That view of God is a little different from the watchmaker analogy.) Aside from the historical anachronism, we can safely say the psalmist does not share the deists’ view. Today in Psalm 54 we hear in verse 4 the bold and confident confession that the Lord sustains us (the NIV and NASB are more definitive than the KJV and ASV). Verse 3 may get the Selah, the musical crescendo, but verse 4 is the center of the psalm. Interestingly, the Hebrew word samak primarily means “lean upon” and is best known for its use regarding the laying on of hands in the Levitical offerings and priestly ordination. The word, however, can also include the idea of support, as the Israelites leaned upon God and trusted in Him to sustain the righteous with His power. We, too, can trust in God not only to forgive our sins for the sake of Jesus’s sacrifice and to deliver that forgiveness through the priests He has ordained, but we can also trust in God to sustain us all our lives especially through those things He lets us face. (You can find my previous posts on Psalm 54 by following this link.)

Frans Francken II’s depiction from the 1630s of David Entering JerusalemWe saw with yesterday’s post Michelangelo’s “David” calm and ready to face Goliath (even though yesterday’s reading didn’t say anything about those events). Today our reading is 1 Chronicles 11-15, and the image with this post shows David entering Jerusalem with the head of Goliath in tow, as it were. (Note that the figures are dressed more as if in the artist’s period and that David is perhaps wrongly shown on a horse.) Although today’s reading does talk about David entering Jerusalem (with details we don’t find in the 2 Samuel 5:6-10 account of that event), today’s reading doesn’t say anything about the head of Goliath. We do read in 1 Samuel 17:54 that David brought Goliath’s head to Jerusalem, however, and at least one commentator on that verse speculates that David either took the head to Jerusalem as a warning to its residents at the time Goliath was slain or that he saved the skull and brought it to Jerusalem when he later entered it as king. Artist Frans Francken II who painted this depiction of David entering Jerusalem, seems to have taken the second interpretation (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). More interesting to me about Francken’s painting, however, are the two women in the lower left-hand corner of the painting, and the two children playing there. The seated woman looks to me like the Virgin Mary, and the child on her lap looks like her child Jesus, while the older woman behind her (from our perspective) looks like Elizabeth, and the child in front of her looks like John the Baptizer. The more we look at images with our readings this year, the more I am enjoying the different things different artists do with their depictions. Despite the “foregrounding” of what I think are New Testament figures in the corner, the attention in the painting seems to be on David and his victory over Goliath. The time would come, of course, when David’s greater Son would be off His mother’s knee and on a mount of a different sort, entering Jerusalem to become victor over a greater enemy. Thanks be to God that by faith we view Jesus triumph over death and the power of the devil to save us from our sin. (You can read my other comments on 1 Chronicles 11-15 here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Chronicles 11-15, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 1 Chronicles 11-15.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make tomorrow holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:48 AM

July 27, 2007

Ps 53 / 1 Ch 6-10

When children are frightened, grownups can tell the children that there is nothing to be afraid of, but that doesn’t always make it easy for the children to stop being afraid. I suppose the idea is that the children are supposed to trust the grownups, to take their word for it. Like I said, easier said than done, even for grownups, sometimes. Today in Psalm 53 we hear the psalmist say in verse 5 that the enemies of God’s people were overwhelmed with fear without anything of which, humanly speaking, they should have been afraid. (You can find my previous comments on Psalm 53 by following this link.) How often today do we or people we know forget that there is more to be afraid of than what humanly speaking threatens us and them? People who do not take seriously that God exists and will someday judge the world are quite the opposite than Israel’s enemies in the psalm—those people who do not take seriously that God exists are not afraid when there is everything to fear! (They really need to read Ephesians 6:12.) Christ has overcome everything there is to fear, and those who trust in God can set their fears aside in Him. Believers have nothing to fear, except, I suppose, as F.D.R. said in his 1932 Inaugural Address, fear itself, if that fear so overtakes faith as to become doubt in God. There is no reason to doubt God, He is a lot more believable and trustworthy than even the most trusted parent or other grownup.

Michelangelo’s DavidWhen I went to read 1 Chronicles 6-10 today, at first I thought my system of picking images had broken down. A week ago I had jotted down that David would be an appropriate picture for today and located what I thought would be an appropriate image, namely, Michelangelo’s David (to see a larger and *caution* "fuller" version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). But, today as I read into 1 Chronicles 6, 7, 8, 9, and even 10, I became concerned because there really wasn’t a mention of David. Then, there it was, at the end of chapter 10! Whew, I was safe. You can read the comments about today’s reading here, and there is a reader’s comment in connection with 1 Chronicles 7 here and a folo to 9:17-29 here.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 1 Chronicles 10:12 and Saul’s remains. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Chronicles 10-12, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 1 Chronicles 10-12.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 26, 2007

Ps 52 / 1 Ch 1-5 / 2 Kings wrap-up

Many men and women shave, whether men’s shaving their facial hair or women’s shaving their legs. None of us may enjoy shaving, and, although we can think of bad things done with razors, we probably don’t think of razors as inherently bad. When I read Psalm 52 today I was struck by the razor in verse 2, where the tongue is likened to it. The Hebrew word suggests something that makes bare and thus exposes nakedness shame or that empties or pours out. Maybe I’m just too tired to see it, but how does that fit the psalm? Is the nakedness of the evil-lover or falsehood-speaker exposed? Are they the ones poured out? Those understandings would seem to fit the context, perhaps even as shaving reveals the skin of a man’s face? I’m a little more certain about the comments you can find by following this link, and I was comforted reflecting on how, even though Adam and Eve’s attempt to cover their sinful shame was pathetic (Genesis 3:7), God provided a better covering from His sacrifice for them, just as He covers our sinful shame with the righteousness of His sacrifice for us--namely, Jesus’s righteousness that we receive by faith through Word and Sacrament.

A depiction from the Codex Amiatinus of Ezra writingThe more I work with the students in my New Testament class on the importance of knowing as much as we can know about a book’s author, audience, date of writing, and the like, the more I appreciate how helpful such information can be in understanding its message. So, today as we begin another book by reading 1 Chronicles 1-5 I thought I would include an image of Ezra, who some think was the unidentified “chronicler”. The image, from the Codex Amiatinus, the earliest surviving copy of the complete Latin Vulgate Bible, rightly shows him with a collection of other writings, such as those that might have been consulted in putting Chronicles together (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). While we might be curious to know what else was in those writings that are no longer around for us to consult, we can rest assured that what God has preserved for our use is all that we need to know to believe that Jesus is the Christ and by believing have life in His Name (John 20:31). You can read more on the background of 1 Chronicles and on these chapters by following this link, and there are brief folos on 1 Chronicles 3:5 and marital irregularities in David’s line here and on 5:1 and Reuben’s birthright here.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with an Old Testament precedent for New Testament genealogies. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Chronicles 1-5, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 1 Chronicles 1-5.

Today I have a 2 Kings wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? Tradition suggests Jeremiah was the Divinely-inspired author of what was originally one book that we now know as 1 and 2 Kings.
What is the book? The original book of Kings presented salvation history from the time of Solomon’s rise to the throne through to the beginning of Judah exile in Bablyon. More specifically, 2 Kings tells of the time of the transition from Elijah’s service as prophet to that of Elisha unto both Israel and Judah had gone into exile.
Where was it written? If Jeremiah was the author, the book was most likely written in Judah.
When was it written? At least the concluding details of the book would have to have been added after the exile itself began in 586 B.C.
Why? The book of Kings was most likely originally intended for the people going into exile on account of their unfaithfulness to God, in order show them why they were going into exile and also how God was ruling history for the benefit of His people.
How? Like the “book” of Samuel that it follows in the canon, Kings emphasizes God’s covenants with His people, both that made at Sinai and that made with David. The author follows both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah to show God’s concern for the whole of His people.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 2 Kings, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume III: I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted August 1985. (This volume has 239 pages specifically on 2 Kings.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume I, The Historical Books of the Old Testament: Genesis to Esther. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1923. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 47 pages on 2 Kings.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 25, 2007

2 Ki 23-25

Remember Psalm 51 is appointed today, and you can find my comments on it by following this link.

Marie Odile de Laforcade’s depiction of Judah’s exile from Paule Landron’s 1991 “Histoire Sainte”As two days ago Israel’s being carried off into exile was the “big story” in that day’s reading and Biblog post, so today Judah’s being carried off into exile is the “big story” in today’s reading of 2 Kings 23-25. The image with this post is Marie Odile de Laforcade’s depiction of the scene from Paule Landron’s Histoire Sainte, edited in 1991 (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). For comments on the whole reading, see last year’s post, and see this folo regarding 2 Kings 23 and the nature of Passover celebrations.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 2 Kings 24:14-16; 25:11 and Judah’s Babylonian exile. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Kings 23-25, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Kings 23-25.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:02 AM

July 24, 2007

Ps 50 / 2 Ki 19-22

Contracts usually have two parties involved, one does this and the other does that. The builder builds the home, and the buyer pays the builder so much money. The Old Testament covenant worked that way: God delivered the people out of slavery in Egypt, and so they were supposed to live lives the way He describes them in Exodus 20:1-17. They did not live their lives they way they were supposed to, and so they got into all sorts of trouble. Reading Psalm 50 today I wondered about verse 5 and whether we are included in that call. (You can read my previous comments on the psalm by following this link.) I think we must say that we are included in that call. According to our sinful natures we are still under that old covenant, accountable to God for each and every sin, and so will answer to Him on the last day. According to our redeemed natures, however, we are certainly under the new covenant (or “testament”), but even under that one there has been a sacrifice made by God to consecrate us (or make us holy). The new covenant is one-sided: God in Christ does all that matters to the validity of the covenant. We who receive the benefits of that covenant by faith merely in return sacrifice our thank offerings, lips that confess and praise Him. May we do so already now so that we may do so eternally.

A depiction, by an unidentified artist, of Josiah hearing the words of the “found” book, as narrated in 2 Kings 22Stories are sometimes told of police officers in small towns enforcing some odd law tourists do not know about in order to raise money for their department or town. “Ignorance is no excuse,” the questioning tourist might be told, but at some level I think we could all agree that one who does not know about a law would have a hard time keeping it. When we read 2 Kings 19-22 today, we might wonder whether the kings knew what God’s law was and what they were supposed to be doing. (You can find my previous post on these chapters here.) Certainly Josiah’s most immediate predecessors were not doing it, but then we read of Josiah’s faithfulness and his rediscovery of a particular copy of the Pentateuch or at least of all or part of Deuteronomy. (The image with this post is an unidentified artist’s depiction of Shaphan reading the scroll to Josiah; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). We must not think that the torah had been completely lost, otherwise we would have to wonder why Josiah was faithful and even cared about cleaning out the Temple before the scroll was found doing so. Rather, we should think that the particular copy that was found was the Temple copy, kept along side the Ark (or at least in the Most Holy Place, Ark or not, I suppose), in keeping with Deuteronomy 31:26. Remember that the kings were to have their own copy precisely so that they would not forget what God’s law was and what they were supposed to be doing. Nevertheless, the discovery of this scroll (which some suspect may have been in Moses’s own hand or at least perhaps an older copy and closer to the original than others then in circulation) was cause for joy. In a similar way, every Sunday in the General Prayer of the Morning Service Without Communion we thank God for preserving “unto us in their purity” His saving Word and Sacraments. That Word and those Sacraments respectively tell us of and deliver to us the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Kings 19-22, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Kings 19-22.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 23, 2007

Ps 49 / 2 Ki 16-18

You Can’t Take It with You” is the title of an award-winning play and movie originally from the 1930s. I’ve never seen either, so I don’t know if the first half of verse 17 of Psalm 49 today plays a role in either or if they both simply state the universal truth. (You can find my previous comments on Psalm 49 by following this link.) Wealth does not save, only faith in Jesus Christ and the resulting God-wrought redemption do. Wealth, of course, is also not inherently evil. I don’t think that we should hear the second half of verse 17 as suggesting that every wealthy person descends to hell; instead, we can safely say the bodies of all people descend to the grave. I always think of Luke 12:16-21 and the parable of the rich fool. His foolishness (that is, his lack of a faith-relationship with God) is what damns him; faith in Jesus Christ is a treasure beyond measure. Faith is a treasure we want to share, too, for isn’t there some saying about friends and relatives being all that we can take with us (to the extent “we” take them)?

C. J. Staniland’s depiction of Israel going off into exileAs depicted in the image with this post by C. J. Stanliand, the people of Israel’s being carried away into exile is probably the most significant thing in today’s reading of 2 Kings 16-18. (To see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it; for my previous comments on the whole reading see here, and, for a reader’s comment on 1 Kings 16:3, see here.) Today in connection with the reading I looked at the picture and thought about what the nonverbal indications in the picture suggested about what must have been going through the people’s minds as they left. Today’s reading makes it clear that the exile was the result of the people’s unfaithfulness to God, but one wonders how well the exiles realized that, at least at first (before Kings was written for them in exile), even though God had been warning them for years. I also reflected on whether such a mass deportation of a single people group has happened in our time or is happening in our time. Hitler’s acts against the Jews kind of came to mind, although the events of 2 Kings were not genocide like that Hitler tried to carry out in the last century and others are trying to carry out today. We know what God’s purposes were with Israel’s exile, but we have to be much more general when it comes to anything more contemporary, since we don’t have specific words from the Lord regarding them. We do know God wants all people to repent, so we can say moving people to repent is part of what happens today, as it was in 2 Kings. We might also say that what happened in 2 Kings ultimately served God’s Church, and we likewise know that all that happens today is used by God somehow to serve His Church, which Christ loved and for Whom He gave Himself up to make Her holy, cleansing Her by the washing with water through the Word (Ephesians 5:25-27).

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Kings 16-18, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Kings 16-18.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 22, 2007

Ps 48 / 2 Ki 13-15

I’ll never know first hand what it is like to deliver a child, of course. From what I am told, the labor can be quite painful but also rewarding when the child is born (provided the child is born alive, as I witnessed personally a number of weeks ago). Today in reading Psalm 48 I was struck by the “labor” simile in verse 6, which is limited to pain, since I am used to the pain-to-joy metaphor in passages like John 16:21. Compare and confer Isaiah 26:17-19; 66:7-14; and Hosea 13:13-14. Perhaps the explanation is that in the case of Psalm 48:6 the labor-pain like fear is attributed to God’s enemies and not to His people, as in some of the other uses of the figure of speech. How comforting that in the end the earth gives birth to her dead and that by grace through faith in Jesus Christ we can be those who live forever with the Lord! (My previous comments on more of Psalm 48 can be found by following this link.)

David C. Hancock’s 2005 oil painting “The Tomb of Elisha”In the New Testament class I am teaching at Concordia this session we spoke the other day about the difference between resurrection and revivification, a difference that is connected to our reading today of 2 Kings 13-15. (For my previous comments on more of today’s reading, see here.) After Elisha had died, a man’s body was thrown into Elisha’s tomb and came back to life when the body touched Elisha’s bones. The image with this post is of contemporary Italian artist David C. Hancock’s 2005 oil painting, although in a Baroque style, titled “The Tomb of Elisha” (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). The man was revivified, that is, brought from death back to life but only as a temporary escape; the man no doubt later died. In our reading of Kings we have seen other Old Testament examples of revivification, too, 1 Kings 17:17-22 and 2 Kings 4:18-37. Those people once raised from the dead also died again later. People raised by our Lord (such as the son of the widow at Nain, Jairus’s daughter, Lazarus) and by His apostles also later died. That death after coming back to life will not always be the case. In sharp contrast to revivification is the resurrection to which we can look by faith in Jesus Christ: at the end of the age being brought back from death to unending life.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Kings 13-15, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Kings 13-15.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make it holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 21, 2007

Ps 47 / 2 Ki 10-12 / Folos

Popular culture these days is all about equality between different races, genders, and sexual orientations. We’re supposed to be working towards a classless society, too, where everyone has the same opportunities (not where no one shows any elegance, although we seem to be headed there, too). So, when I read Psalm 47 today I wondered about verse 9. (You can find my previous comments on the whole psalm by following this link.) Verse 9 struck me as if the point was that leaders became just ordinary people, but the real point seems to be that the leaders, and implicitly the people, of the non-Jewish nations became part of the people of God. Such is God’s great desire that all the people of the earth unite in belief in His Son and thereby receive the forgiveness of their sins. As we repent, human nobility and classes no longer matter (see 1 Samuel 2:8), but what matters is that we submit ourselves unto the King of Kings.

An unidentified artist’s depiction of Jehoash collecting money to repair the TempleIs it 797 B.C. or A.D. 2007? As we hear in 2 Kings 10-12 today monies given to restore the Temple were collected and initially used for such things as sacred vessels. The image with this post is by an unidentified artist and depicts Jehoash collecting those monies (click the image for a larger version; we found it, without any artist or source credit, here, but it appears to be a colorized version of the depiction by the unidentified illustrator of Henry Davenport Northrop’s 1894 Treasures of the Bible shown here). Although the monies initially were used for sacred vessels, quite quickly those sacred vessels and others were used for political purposes. What a sad outcome for a king and people who for a time were relatively faithful to God! I asked the question whether it was 797 or 2007 because one might ask whether monies people are giving to church bodies thinking they are for training pastors or overseas missions do not necessarily go where people might think they go. In its recent convention, our church body passed a measure calling for greater accountability over money raised in a recent campaign, and a shortfall in other monies prompted the convention delegates to call for a summit to work on bringing unity to the body so money can be more easily raised. There’s something wrong when the concern for unity in the Synod comes not from concern over pure preaching of the Gospel to save souls otherwise lost to hell but from concern over the Synod’s inability to collect money. God help us all to recognize our sins, repent, and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. (You can read my earlier comments on all of today’s reading from 2 Kings here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Kings 10-12, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Kings 10-12.

There are two Biblog folos today. First, I heard from two readers regarding my comments on Thursday about needing the Old Testament to understand the New. One reader made the following comment.

I thought how our knowledge of geography is limited by our taking each continent in turn and never really discussing their location in relation to each other. So, learning history about trade, travel and wars was handicapped by our incomplete geography studies! Your … student must want to put things “in a box” the same way. He will miss a lot if he doesn’t reflect that God gave both books for his learning. The New Testament is always saying “… that the Scripture might be fulfilled …”

We’ve talked about that connection, naturally, especially in the case of St. Matthew’s account. Another reader rightly commented, “The New Testament is not comprehensible without the Old Testament; without the narrative set up in the Old Testament there would be no need for a New Testament.”

Second, regarding yesterday’s discussion of Jezebel, a reader followed up on some of the other references to Jezebel in modern culture and reported the following.

Azimov and one other author suggest that the poor girl was picked on for practicing her religion. (I suppose you could say that, among other things.) From what I could see (not all, but more than enough) it goes downhill from there.

I guess I didn’t expect it to go up.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make tomorrow holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 20, 2007

Ps 46 / 2 Ki 7-9

“The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” That quote is the refrain of Psalm 46 that we read today. (You can find my previous comments on the psalm by following this link.) “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” Martin Luther’s English translation declares, “a trusty shield and weapon.” I wonder how many people in the LCMS still believe that? Programs so have taken over the church body that the Lord’s Word seems to be regarded as impotent and assigned a place in a new museum as if it were that irrelevant. Imagine Abraham’s nephew Lot living in Sodom and Gomorrah thinking that God was with them and would protect them even as God planned to destroy the city with them in it. There’s a time that comes for getting out alive, as Lot and his family found out. The Lord Almighty is with those who are with Him, and sometimes that means leaving the place the Lord used to be but is no longer because the people have gone so far away from Him. If you are in the Holy City and God is watching out for her, then great; stay there, and I am sure you will be safe. But, the faithful Old Testament prophets knew when Jerusalem’s time was up and told people to go quietly before they were killed in her streets. God had left the city as kindling for its enemies because its people had so long turned away from him. God is still exalted among the nations and in the earth (v.10), just maybe not where he always has been and where we would like Him to be. Lord, have mercy on your people as they struggle with Your will for their lives and what being faithful to you means. Forgive us all for all our shortcomings, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

A cover image of Atlanta’s “Jezebel” magazineI think before I even knew the Biblical story I knew that Jezebel was not a good person or a nice thing to call someone. Then I ended up with an audio tape that had on it the song “Jezebel” by the group 10,000 Maniacs. the lyrics are puzzling and the music haunting. As I got to know the story, including her mention in today’s reading of 2 Kings 7-9, I learned that, indeed, Jezebel was not a good person or a nice thing to call someone. (You can read my previous post on the end of Jezebel and all of 2 Kings 7-9 here.) The same is true of the Jezebel in the New Testament (Revelation 2:20). Imagine my surprise to come across the image with this post while searching for depictions of the Jezebel from 2 Kings! (To see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) I almost would not have believed the image was genuine if I hadn’t also found the website for the magazine itself. We’ve come a long way, baby! I don’t know much, if anything, about all the items on the “Jezebel in Modern Culture” list, but I’m guessing they are not all negative. Society sure exalts the things God through the Bible condemns. We haven’t gotten to the point that there are lots of little children running around named Judas, but maybe that’s next. Perhaps the best thing to say, again, is “Lord, have mercy!”

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Kings 7-9, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Kings 7-9.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 19, 2007

Ps 45 / 2 Ki 4-6

In the academic world, there always seems to be a need for new ideas and approaches. What’s new is what gets attention and thus publication and eventually tenure. In the churchly “world”, however, what’s new is generally bad and potentially heretical. The Lutheran reformers, for example, were at great pains to demonstrate how what they were teaching was the original and therefore right understanding before things got twisted by the Roman Catholic church. So, I suppose I should be comforted when I reread psalms like Psalm 45 today, and find the Holy Spirit leading me to some of the same thoughts and reflections that I have had and posted before. I’m sorry if too much for your taste I have mentioned the New Testament class I am teaching, but again today it came to mind with Psalm 45:1’s statement that is used in reference to the inspiration of Holy Scripture and verse 2’s statement that brings to mind Jesus’s gracious lips mentioned in Luke--lips that by faith in Him bring the forgiveness of sins He won on the cross. In the class we didn’t make use of the psalm verse in connection with inspiration; at least one student has already complained about references to the Old Testament in a New Testament class. I don’t know how we can talk about one without the other! The saying is true: The New is in the Old concealed, and the Old is in the New revealed.

Éric de Saussure’s 1968 depiction of Naaman from “Bible illustrée; Textes de la bible de Jérusalem”One of the things I am also doing with the class is something I’ve been doing in the Biblog, too, and that’s emphasizing the Word and Sacraments as the means of delivering forgiveness of sins. Today an obvious place that we see the reading of 2 Kings 4-6 pointing to them is with the cleansing of Naaman. The image with this post is Éric de Saussure’s 1968 depiction of Naaman from “Bible illustrée; Textes de la bible de Jérusalem” (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). I made the Baptismal connection in my previous post on the chapters, but at that time I apparently missed the miraculous feeding of the reading’s pointing to the Lord’s Supper and the close connection with the resurrection, too! We thank and praise God that He works through such ordinary means to give us the forgiveness of sins.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Kings 4-6, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Kings 4-6.

God bless your day.

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 18, 2007

2 Ki 1-3 / 1 Kings wrap-up

Today we read Psalm 44, and you can find my previous comments on it by following this link.

American Jewish artist Phillip Ratner’s depiction of the chariot of fireI’ve been telling the New Testament class at Concordia about how Jesus sent out the apostles with His authority and they in turn sent their successors. Today as we read 2 Kings 1-3 we can reflect on the continuity and succession of Divine representatives in the prophetic office that not only goes back to the apostles and to Jesus but back to Elisha and Elijah (and even further back). The transitions are seldom as clear-cut and dramatic as with the chariot of fire that took Elijah and passed the mantle on to Elisha, but we can still draw comfort that God works through other means to see that His people have someone to distribute to them the forgiveness of sins Jesus won on the cross. The image with this post is American Jewish artist Phillip Ratner’s depiction of the chariot of fire (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). You can find my other comments on today’s whole reading here.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with the end of the account of Elijah. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Kings 1-3, but hymn #483 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to 2 Kings 2:9 and verses following.

Today I have a 1 Kings wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? Tradition suggests Jeremiah was the Divinely-inspired author of what was originally one book that we now know as 1 and 2 Kings.
What is the book? The original book of Kings presented salvation history from the time of Solomon’s rise to the throne through to the beginning of Judah exile in Bablyon. More specifically, 1 Kings tells of Solomon’s reign through to the end of Elijah’s service as prophet.
Where was it written? If Jeremiah was the author, the book was most likely written in Judah.
When was it written? At least the concluding details of the book would have to have been added after the exile itself began in 586 B.C.
Why? The book of Kings was most likely originally intended for the people going into exile on account of their unfaithfulness to God, in order show them why they were going into exile and also how God was ruling history for the benefit of His people.
How? Like the “book” of Samuel that it follows in the canon, Kings emphasizes God’s covenants with His people, both that made at Sinai and that made with David. The author follows both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah to show God’s concern for the whole of His people.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 1 Kings, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume II: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I & II Samuel, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted August 1985. (This volume has 273 pages specifically on 1 Kings.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume I, The Historical Books of the Old Testament: Genesis to Esther. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1923. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 48 pages on 1 Kings.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:19 AM

July 17, 2007

Ps 43 / 1 Ki 21-22

“Why have you rejected me?” the psalmist asks God today in Psalm 43 (v.2). What possible answers are there? When people feel rejected by God an usual first thought is that they have done something wrong, and we know that any sin does separate us from our Holy God. But, God has done something about our sin in the person of the God-man Jesus Christ, Who died and rose again to restore our right relationship with God. As long as we believe in Him, we are forgiven and not rejected by God. Unbelief, I used to drive home to my catechumens, is the only thing that damns. Clearly the psalmist is not an unbeliever, so we ask ourselves whether the psalmist really has been rejected by God. At first he wrongly reads his sufferings and afflictions as signs of God’s rejection, as we do sometimes, but, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, he and we know better. God disciplines those He loves, and His discipline is for our good. (You can find my previous comments on Psalm 43 by following this link.)

Dutch artist Caspar Luiken’s copper engraving of Micaiah before Ahab and JehoshaphatToday as I read 1 Kings 21-22 I was thinking of Psalm 119:46, a verse often used in connection with the festival celebrating the Lutheran Reformation. Micaiah faithfully spoke of the Lord before kings and in the face of false prophets, and he was not put to shame, for the Lord’s words through him about Ahab came through with a vengeance. (The image with this post is copper engraving depicting Micaiah before Ahab and Jehoshaphat by Dutch artist Caspar Luiken [1672-1708] from “Historiae celebriores Veteris Testamenti Iconibus representatae” now held in Pitts Theology Library at Emory University; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) Likewise the Lord’s words through His prophets about us will prove true in time. We faithfully believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sin, and then one day we, too, will see the throne room of the Lord. (You can find my previous comments overviewing all of today’s reading here.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 1 Kings 22:19-23 and the “evil spirits” from the Lord. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Kings 21-22, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 1 Kings 21-22.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 16, 2007

Ps 42 / 1 Ki 18-20

In one of the presentations to my New Testament class at Concordia University--Texas last week, I had to teach a bit about the geography of the Holy Land, and Saturday I had to trace some maps to give them the exam on some of that geography today. Thus, when I was reading Psalm 42 today I thought about just where the psalmist may have been that he describes his location the way he does in verse 6. (You can read my other comments on Psalm 42 by following this link.) In this case, commentators are quite divided as to precisely where the psalmist might be, but, in this case, the meaning of the psalm does not depend on the psalmist’s precise location. I’m grateful to know and understand more the geography of the Holy Land, because at times the understanding of the Bible’s text is enhanced by knowing the geography. I’m more grateful, however, to know that God knows where you and I are and that He provides nearby places for us to go to receive the forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ.

An unidentified artist's illustration of Elijah on Mt. Carmel for There’s really no doubt about where the significant events of our reading of 1 Kings 18-20 take place. One of the pages I came across while searching for images referred to the events of 1 Kings 18:16-46 as the “Carmel Contest”, but I’d say it was “no contest”, for false gods are hardly real opponents for the One True God. As depicted in the image with this post, by an unidentified illustrator for “God’s Promises Come True” (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it), the Lord answered Elijah and showed Himself to be the only God. Yet, quite soon the people were back in their old ways, and the prophet was back to being afraid. In our times people are likewise stuck in their sinful ways, and prophets can think the cause is lost. How comforting are God’s words in 1 Kings 19:18 that He preserves His faithful remnant. May we ever endeavor to be a part of that faithful remnant, no matter how few, and not join the heedless masses. (You can find my previous post covering more of today’s reading here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Kings 18-20, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 1 Kings 18-20.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 15, 2007

Ps 41 / 1 Ki 15-17 / Folos

When our enemies fail to triumph completely over us in the big picture, why is that? Today as we read Psalm 41 we might take verse 11 to say that there’s something in us that keeps that from happening. But, I think we know from elsewhere in Holy Scripture that that perception must be mistaken, at least in so far as it refers to us apart from Christ. With faith in Him, we have His righteousness and so God can be pleased with us. His pleasure is not so much despite our sin, for He forgives our sin and remembers it no more. Such are the blessings of faith in Christ! (You can find my previous comments on the psalm by following this link.)

Italian painter Giovanni Lanfranco’s depiction of Elijah receiving bread from the widow of ZarephathGod works through means, we say, chiefly in reference to how He delivers the forgiveness of sins to us in Word and Sacrament, the Word and something we can see. But, we can also say in other cases that God works through means, and we see an example of that today in our reading of 1 Kings 15-17. (See my previous comments on the whole of today’s reading here, and see discussion on 1 Kings 16:34’s fulfillment of Joshua’s curse here and here.) As depicted in the image with this post by Italian painter Giovanni Lanfranco (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it), God provided food for Elijah through the widow of Zarephath. God could have provided food for Elijah the way He miraculously fed the Israelites with bread from heaven, but instead He provided food through other means, first through the raven and then through the widow. (Of course, the Lord was miraculously providing flour and oil to the widow.) Such were the blessings for the man of God then, and such are the means of the Lord’s providing for His ministers today. God blesses each of us in many and various ways so that we can with our offerings and gifts be His way of supplying resources for His congregations and their ministers. Thinking of verse 3 of The Lutheran Hymnal #496, I know that prayers and bounties hold up the prophets’ hands, but God’s demands are only fully met in His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Kings 15-17, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 1 Kings 15-17.

Busy-ness with the New Testament class I am teaching at Concordia meant a few Biblog folos have accumulated in my email in box, and so today I will try to pass them all along to you. Regarding the shorter post Wednesday, mostly with links to previous posts, a reader emailed, “I find it useful to read the old posts again; I often see things I missed before.” That same day’s picture depicting Solomon’s famous exercise of his wisdom prompted a reader to email the following:

I liked the picture and the explanation of its origins, but I always thought those babies were only a few days old. These in the painting looked too big to be lain on without protest. “Artistic license”, as with David at Solomon’s coronation, I suppose.

Artistic license it is, I think, and the same artist! And, regarding the musical artists whose incorporation of a reference to Solomon I referred to in that post, a reader emailed:

I imagine the more prominent Old Testament stories may continue to be common knowledge; there seem to be so many Jewish people in the entertainment world. I wonder about familiarity with New Testament stories among people who grew up without Sunday School and church.

We certainly do not see as many New Testament references in popular culture, I do not think, and I know first hand of late that Biblical literacy overall is pretty low among those who grow up without Sunday School and church.

Finally, in response to my comment in this Q&A about how well Solomon was regarded in the New Testament, a reader made the following comment.

Do you mean the “Solomon in all his glory” remark, or something else? Saying that Solomon comes off second-best to the frailest of God’s own handiwork rather puts Solomon in his place, doesn’t it?

Jesus’s statement saying in Matthew 6:29 and Luke 12:27 that the lilies of the field are arrayed better than Solomon in all of his splendor certainly is at least to some extent Jesus’s putting Solomon in his place. I was thinking mostly about how the people reflected back on how great Solomon was and Jesus’s statements that He was greater than Solomon, as great as the people thought he was (see Matthew 12:42 and Luke 11:31).

There is a new Q&A on 1 Kings 11:1-4 posted here. God bless your day, and may you let Him make it holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 14, 2007

Ps 40 / 1 Ki 12-14

If you remember from Deuteronomy 17:18-20 that Israel’s kings were supposed to always keep a copy of God’s Word with them, that information will be helpful for you as you read Psalm 40 today. An alternate reading of the Hebrew for verse 7 would have the king say he has “come with the scroll written for me”, as in the NIV margin, which reading is a probable reference to the scroll the king was supposed to have. Even with the reading the NIV gives in the text, “it is written about me in the scroll” could still be a reference to that same copy of the torah, God’s teaching of law and Gospel. I think I had always thought the phrase was referring to prophecy about the king, and, reflecting again on the copy of the law, even that is not a completely separate understanding. In a very real way God’s written word talks about us, too, as that same written word is the means whereby we learn that we are sinners and that in Christ God has done something about our sin, offering free forgiveness through faith in Him. (You can find my previous comments on all of Psalm 40 by following this link.)

Gerbrandt Jansz van den Eeckhout’s 1656 oil painting “Jeroboam’s Sacrifice at Bethel” now in the state hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, FloridaIf the wise Solomon in Judah was already making sacrifices to false gods, should we be all that surprised that his “successor” in the northern kingdom was sacrificing to false gods? That’s part of what we hear today in 1 Kings 12-14. The image with this post is Gerbrandt Jansz van den Eeckhout’s 1656 oil painting “Jeroboam’s Sacrifice at Bethel” (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). We all do well to be reminded that, although we may not all commit crass idolatry as did some in the Old Testament, we all do not love the Lord our God as we should. Thank Him for making forgiveness available to us through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. (My previous comments on today’s chapters are here.)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Kings 12-14, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 1 Kings 12-14.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make tomorrow holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:57 AM

July 13, 2007

1 Ki 9-11

Don't forget to read Psalm 39 again today. My previous comments can be found by following this link.

Flemish painter Frans Francken’s 1622 rendering of Solomon’s idolatryI suppose if you sinfully want a lot of wealth and many wives, then the listing in 1 Kings 9-11 of all Solomon’s wealth and wives might appeal to you. What struck me in planning out the posts on 1 Kings this time through was the image from yesterday’s post, showing Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple, contrasted with the image for today’s post, showing Solomon worshipping other gods than the one true God. The image is a 1622 rendering by Flemish painter Frans Francken II that now hangs in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). There were at least temporal consequences for Solomon’s sin, namely that his son lost the bulk of the kingdom. Sometimes there are temporal consequences for our sins, too, but thanks be to God that for the sake of Jesus Christ He forgives our sin and through faith spares us from the eternal consequences we deserve. (You can read my previous post with more on the reading here.)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Kings 9-11, but two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to 1 Kings 9:3, namely #465 and #466.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 12, 2007

Ps 38 / 1 Ki 7-8

Today as I read Psalm 38 I was struck both by the psalmist’s extended description of his plight mixed in with his plea and by the lack of any sort of expressed confidence that God will hear the plea or promise to praise Him when He does! Having made that observation, however, I think we can identify with the psalmist. Sometimes, when our plights are as dire as the psalmist’s, it is all we can do to pray for help, let alone express our confidence that God will hear our prayer or promise to praise Him when He does. The prayer itself is arguably an act of faith that expects God to answer it, however. Truly the Spirit moves us to pray, gives us the words, and, when we do not pray ourselves, intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27). And, on account of the Son’s sacrifice for us, the Father hears those prayers and ultimately delivers us by grace through faith. (You can find my previous comments on Psalm 38 by following this link.)

French artist James Tissot's depiction of Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the TempleToday we also read 1 Kings 7-8, which includes Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the first Temple. The image with this post is by French artist James Tissot from about 1896-1900 (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). I think Solomon’s dedicatory prayer is one of the best and most-impassioned pleas identifing the sinfulness of all humanity and asking God for forgiveness. The connections between His Name, Temple, and Presence are also significant. See my more-complete previous post here.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Kings 7-8, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 1 Kings 7-8.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:52 AM

July 11, 2007

1 Ki 3-6

We read Psalm 37 again today, and you can find my most-recent post on Psalm 37 with links to others here.

Raffaello’s “The Judgment of Solomon” fresco on the second floor of the Papal Palace in the VaticanRecently I was listening to the CD “Combat Rock” by The Clash, and a lyric in the song referred to King Solomon and drove home for me just how significant of a figure he was that such cultural references can be made. Today in 1 Kings 3-6 we read of his request for, receipt of, and exercise of great wisdom. The image with this post is Raffaello’s fresco depicting that great wisdom (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). You can find my previous comments on the chapters here.

Although there's a passing reference to 1 Kings 4:1 here, there are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Kings 3-6, but two hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to 1 Kings 3:5: #395 and #459.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:12 AM

July 10, 2007

Ps 36 / 1 Ki 1-2 / 2 Samuel wrap-up

What do you think about when lying on your bed as you fall asleep or when you first awaken? At night I think I tend to review that day’s activities more than I anticipate those of the next day, and in the morning I tend to need to get out of bed so as not to fall back asleep! Today in our reading of Psalm 36 we hear the psalmist in verse 4 refer to the wicked people who plot evil while lying on their beds. (You can find my previous posts on this psalm, including one that overviews it, by following this link.) Maybe we are guiltier of plotting or even doing evil there than we’d care to admit. Part of our review of the day’s past activities might be in prayer, confessing our sins and thanking God for His mercy and grace forgiving those sins and sustaining us through the day. Likewise, part of our anticipating the next day’s activities might be in prayer, asking for God’s blessings on those activities, including keeping us from sin. I like and try to daily use Luther’s morning and evening prayers for such purposes, including the sign of the cross to remind me that I am baptized and forgiven by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Raffaello’s depiction of Solomon’s consecration as kingI enjoy looking for images for the Biblog posts, and one of the reasons is because I find out things I did not previously know and see all sorts of interesting works of art. Today’s reading is 1 Kings 1-2, at the center of which is Solomon’s becoming king and consolidating his reign (my previous post overviewing the reading is here). The image with this post is a fresco by Sanzio Raffaelo, painted for Pope Leo X between 1518-1519 in the papal palace’s second floor outside roofed gallery with open arches (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). I was intrigued by Raffaelo’s depiction of Solomon being consecrated as king in part by the figure lying on the ground in the lower right corner, who I thought might be David, even though the Biblical text does not say David was physically present. We might say Raffaello put David there with artistic license, since David was certainly present in spirit if absent in body. The image and today’s reading, of course, should remind us of David’s descendant who was greater than Solomon, Jesus. He is King of Kings and is the Christ, the One anointed to save us from our sins. With faith in Him we have forgiveness and eternal life.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Kings 1-2, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 1 Kings 1-2.

Today I have an 2 Samuel wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading. You will notice slight variation from the previously posted wrap-up on 1 Samuel.

Who was the author? The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the book of 1 Samuel, perhaps through Zabud, a son of the prophet Nathan (and thus a priest) and a friend of Solomon and member of his court (1 Kings 4:5). Whoever the human author was, he at least in part seems to have drawn from other written sources that existed at the time.
What is the book? The book of 1 Samuel is the first part of one book that originally also included what we know as 2 Samuel. The two parts in one book give the account of salvation history from the time of the judges through David’s reign. The book of 2 Samuel goes from David’s becoming king through final reflections on his reign.
Where was it written? If, as is thought, a member of Solomon’s court was the instrument of the Holy Spirit’s recording these events, the book was likely written in Jerusalem.
When was it written? The book is thought to have been written near the end of, perhaps right after, Solomon’s reign, which would put the writing around 930 B.C.
Why? At least in a very general sense, the book was written to show God’s faithfulness and true kingship despite the failures and foibles of human kings. By beginning with the prophetic work of Samuel, the book subordinates human flesh and blood to the word and Spirit in establishing kingship.
How? The author concentrates on the relationship of God’s covenant and the kingship by telling, in 2 Samuel, of the David’s actually becoming king, of his kingship’s accomplishments and glory, of his kingship’s weaknesses and failures, and of final reflections on David’s reign. As great as David, was, he was not perfect, and he needed, as do we, his Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 2 Samuel, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume II: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I & II Samuel, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted August 1985. (The section dealing with 2 Samuel runs 230 pages. After my study Bible, this is the first commentary I turn to, but it is a somewhat dated and harder to use, more-scholarly commentary.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume I, The Historical Books of the Old Testament: Genesis to Esther. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1923. (Like our Grace library, I have this volume on my shelf, and, although I didn’t pull it down at all while blogging on 2 Samuel this time through, I would think you would find its 46 pages on 2 Samuel somewhat helpful and generally accessible. The format runs the text in bold with the comments immediately following the relevant text, so you can in effect read the whole text and his conveniently-placed comments, if you like that format.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 09, 2007

Ps 35 / 2Sa 22-24

On our own we may be able to tell that there is a god, but we can’t know The God without His revealing Himself to us. We are reminded of that today in Psalm 35. In verse 3 we hear the psalmist pray, “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’” Now, we know that a person cannot pray to God without faith in Him, so the psalmist was not asking for God to reveal Himself to the psalmist for the first time, but the psalmist was asking for continued revelation. God speaks through Word and Sacrament not only to our souls, but He speaks to our whole beings (see vv.9-10). Hearing the Word and touched by the life-giving water of Baptism, our sinful bodies and souls are redeemed by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and our redeemed bodies and souls are strengthened by continuing to hear the Word and by being fed with bread that is Christ’s body and wine that is His blood. (You can find other comments on Psalm 35 by following this link.)

A. P.’s depiction of the Angel of the Lord on the threshing floor of AraunahRecently there’s been a lot of discussion among political pundits about President Bush commuting the sentence of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice-President Cheney’s former chief of staff, who lied to those investigating the leak of an undercover C.I.A. agent’s identity. The part of us that likes to see people get what they deserve may object, but we do well to remember that we are recipients, not just of a commuted sentence, but of an even bigger pardon! By grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we are spared the eternal death we deserve for our sins. I was reflecting on this today, as I read 2 Samuel 22-24, where God “commutes” the sentence upon the people Israel that came as a result of a perhaps prideful census. The scene of this act of mercy was the threshing floor of Araunah, which is where the Temple was later built. The image with this post, by an artist identified only as “A. P.”, depicts the Angel of the Lord on that threshing floor (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). For my comments on the whole reading, click here.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints 2 Samuel 22:1-7 as the Old Testament reading for Oculi (the Third Sunday in Lent) and 2 Samuel 22:21-29 for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, but The Lutheran Hymnal does not have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Samuel 22-24.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 08, 2007

Ps 34 / 2Sa 19-21 / Folo

No one wants to be materially “poor”, but we should all want to be spiritually “poor”. Today in Psalm 34 we hear in verse 6 how the Lord hears the poor person. (You can find my previous comments on the psalm by following this link.) These “poor” people are not necessarily those with few or no possessions, but they recognize that they do not have the resources to deliver themselves and so depend on God to do so. They are genuinely sorry for their sins and trust in God for forgiveness for Jesus’s sake. Note how in verse 18 the psalmist tells us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Verse 22 is also relevant in this regard, and there redemption and condemnation are specifically contrasted. Thank God that His Holy Spirit works through the law to crush our prideful spirits and move us to take refuge in Him!

An unidentified photographer’s undated picture of modern Jerusalem at duskThere are some people today who dream of a glorious new day for the modern city of Jerusalem. (The image with this post is an unidentified photographer’s undated picture of modern Jerusalem at dusk; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Some of them are Jews who are still waiting for the Messiah, and others think of themselves as Christians but expect Christ to set up an earthly kingdom based in Jerusalem upon His return. Our Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem in triumph once, and the failure of the Jewish leadership rightly to recognize Him as the Messiah then in part resulted in His rejection of the city. Behind those events are triumphant entries into Jerusalem like David’s of which we hear at the beginning of today’s reading of 2 Samuel 19-21. You can find my comments on the reading here. I was left thinking about the New Jerusalem that in Revelation 21 is described as coming down from heaven at the last day. Thank God that by Baptism our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life and so by faith in Jesus Christ we are cleansed so that we can enter that city. Pray that the preaching of the law and Gospel bring more to faith so they join us there in the eternal worship of the Lord.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 2 Samuel 21:11-14 and burial practices. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Samuel 19-21, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Samuel 19-21.

Today's Biblog folo is a reader question on Thursday's post, where I mentioned a "Who wants to be a millionaire" question that claimed when unmarried people are described as "living in sin" the statement is said "tongue in cheek". The reader asked if "living in sin" has become "tongue in cheek" because people in general do not believe in sin. I think the reader is probably at least partly right, but I think there also may be an element of mockery of Christian morality when and if "living in sin" is said "tongue in cheek".

There is a new Q&A on 1 Samuel 13, with several parts, here. Thanks to the reader for the question(s), and remember yours are welcome, too! God bless your day, and may you let Him make it holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 07, 2007

Ps 33 / 2Sa 16-18

I’ve been preparing to teach a New Testament class at Concordia University-Texas starting next Monday, and one of the first lectures deals with what we believe about God’s Word, that is, the Bible. So, today as I read Psalm 33 I not surprisingly reflected on verses such as 4, 6, 9. (You can read my other comments on the psalm by following this link.) Verse 4 reminds us that God’s Word is without error, that is neither its writers were deceived nor do they themselves deceive. Verses 6 and 9 emphasize the powerfulness of God’s Word, but we remember that as God exercises that power through the Bible we can resist it. His Word can and does give us new life by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, but we are able to fall away from the faith, to commit spiritual suicide, as it were. May God enable us to persevere in the faith unto life eternal with Him in heaven!

An unknown French artist’s depiction of scenes from Absalom’s life as found in the Shah Abbas Bible (circa 1250)Most of us would probably choose fame over infamy, but I’d almost bet that those who set out for fame are more likely to end with infamy. Absalom, whose demise we read of today in 2 Samuel 16-18, is certainly one who wanted fame but ended up with infamy. (You can read my previous post on these chapters here.) Absalom may have wanted fame, but he chose to do some infamous things. We first hear of Absalom as a son of David in 2 Samuel 3:3 and as a brother of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13:1, but when he’s next mentioned in 2 Samuel 13:20 and verses following he’s not doing the kinds of things that would bring fame. By the end of yesterday’s reading he was conspiring to take the kingdom from his father, and in today’s reading he’s in open rebellion that results in his death. The image with this post depicts scenes from Absalom’s life: in the upper left is his army battling David’s, as described in 2 Samuel 18:6; in the upper right is his death, as described in 2 Samuel 18:9, 14; and in the lower part is David waiting for the news, as described in 2 Samuel 18:24 (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). The original image is by an unknown French master working with tempera and gold leaf on parchment and is found in the Shah Abbas Bible, which dates to around 1250. We do well to not only think critically about Absalom but reflect on how our own actions are not of the kind that bring fame. We openly rebel against our Heavenly Father and King, for which rebellion we deserve death. Thanks be to God that out of His love and mercy He delivers us from that death by grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Samuel 16-18, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Samuel 16-18.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make tomorrow holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 06, 2007

Ps 32 / 2Sa 13-15 / Rape

With all the rain we’ve had in Texas of late, I’ve had friends around the country ask if I’m okay and how the water has affected me. I appreciate their concern, but I’ve had to smile, too, since the only real direct effect on me has been keeping me from the pool once and a while. There is a more serious threat from mighty waters in Psalm 32, which we read today. Waves, for example, constantly seemed to threaten to engulf the land. The waters in verse 6 are mostly a figure of speech for other threatening forces or circumstances. The psalmist recognizes that with faith in God the waters do not threaten him, and we, too, know that, with faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, waters do not hurt but help us. The living waters of Holy Baptism bring death to our sinful nature but birth from above to the redeemed nature, and thereby they work forgiveness of sins, delivers us from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe. (You can find my previous comments on Psalm 32 by following this link.)

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri’s “Amnon and Tamar”Thank God that most of us will probably never know what it is like to be raped, as Tamar was by Amnon, as we read today in 2 Samuel 13-15. More will know how difficult it is to forgive an intimate sexual sin and so might better relate to Tamar’s amazing willingness to stay with Amnon after he raped her (see specifically 2 Samuel 13:16). Tamar clearly knows the disgrace she faced and the life she would live not being able to be offered to another husband, so she may have been thinking of herself. (One commentator points out that Amnon’s sending her away would make it look like she had seduced him, instead of the other way around, and the same commentator points out that since Amnon was stronger and had sent away any who might have helped Tamar she really didn’t bear any guilt.) In the whole account of Amnon, Tamar, and Absalom today, Tamar’s behavior is the only one that I find remotely godly, and she hardly had any good help dealing with what had happened to her (for example, in 2 Samuel 13:20, her brother tells her to keep it quiet so as not to make a public scandal for her half-brother). There was forgiveness available for them, as is there is for us, through repentance and faith in God, but sadly there was no reconciliation after those sad events, and the failure to address the situation properly only led to further sins. You can read my post on all of today’s reading here. The image with today’s post is “Amnon and Tamar” by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (1591-1666), who was known as “Guercino” (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it).

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 2 Samuel 15:7-8 and Old Testament vows. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Samuel 13-15, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Samuel 13-15.

Also on the topic of rape, the Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray had this recent Memorial Moment, which one of our readers pointed out to me was fairly “explicit”. I’d agree, although I think it is hard to discuss such a topic without some degree of explicitness. I’m also not sure I’d agree with everything the good Dr. Murray and St. Augustine said. Another email about that Memorial Moment brought a reader’s surprise that women would commit suicide rather than be raped. (I am more familiar with accounts of women committing suicide after being raped.) The reader further remarked about always having thought the expression “fate worse than death” to be figurative, but, with reference to our reading of Judges 19, the reader thought maybe the expression may have some literal truth. I might add that the eternal torments of hell, the so-called “second death”, are certainly a fate worse than death in this world, the so-called “first death”. Thanks be to God that we escape the second by grace through faith in His Son Jesus Christ!

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 05, 2007

Ps 31 / 2Sa 10-12

“I’m in your hands,” we might say to the barber or hairdresser when we sit down in the chair. We entrust ourselves to all sorts of people for all sorts of things: parents to raise us, teachers to instruct us, and doctors to care for our bodies. Reading Psalm 31 today I noticed in verse 5 how the psalmist and we commit our spirits into the Lord’s hands for the purpose of His redeeming us, and we also notice how the psalmist and we trust God to do so. We might get a bad haircut, not the best upbringing, a not-so-great education, or malpractice, but our trust in the Lord for our redemption by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is never misplaced. (You can read more on Psalm 31 by following this link.)

Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward portrayed “David and Bathsheba” in the Oscar-nominated 1951 movie by that nameRecently I heard a question on “Who wants to be a millionaire” that described the expression “living in sin” as “tongue in cheek” when used in reference to two people living together outside of marriage. Well, maybe by some. People are willing to justify all sorts of things, but that’s not just a new trend. In 2 Samuel 10-12 today we hear about David’s adultery with Bathsheba, but I read that their adultery was being justified already back in the 1951 movie “David and Bathsheba”, starring Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward in the title roles, as shown in the image with this post (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). The movie reportedly portrayed both David and Bathsheba as unhappy in their marriages, without any Biblical evidence that they were unhappy in their marriages, and without any legitimacy to the claim that if they were unhappy in their marriages that would somehow justify their adultery! The only justification, that is, redemption, for our sin is the all-availing sacrifice of Jesus. There are no excuses for the sin, but, as David repented and the Lord took away his sin, so we repent and by grace through faith in Jesus Christ He forgives us. You can read my original post on all of 2 Samuel 10-12 here, and a folo to the original post is here, to which I might add that 2 Samuel 11:11 does seem to suggest that, if the Lord’s Ark was at the battlefield, perhaps David had an obligation to be there himself.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with a possible similarity between David’s taking Bathsheba and Xerxes’ taking Esther. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Samuel 10-12, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Samuel 10-12.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 04, 2007

Ps 30 / 2Sa 7-9

I imagine that most of us have had overnight guests in our homes. In Psalm 30 verse 5, weeping is portrayed as a guest that comes in at evening to lodge for one night. The translations pretty much all paraphrase the more-literal wording of the Hebrew. Now, some of our guests who originally were going to stay for one night may have ended up staying longer, but, when it comes to the weeping the psalmist describes, we can be sure that by grace through faith in Jesus Christ ultimately there will be a morning of rejoicing, and an eternal morning at that! For my other comments on this psalm, follow this link.

An image by Wendy TsaiHoratio Alger, Jr. is a name that may rightly or wrongly come to mind for making use of the literary archetype of people going from “rags to riches”. We may know people from our own lives who have lived real rags to riches stories. The Bible is full of such accounts, not the least of which is that of David, whom the Lord took from shepherding sheep to shepherding the people of Israel. Today in 2 Samuel 7-9 we hear the Lord speak of that rise and also promise to build a house, that is a dynasty, for David, even as David’s dynasty will build a house, that is a Temple, for the Lord. The greatest interweaving of these two ideas comes in the person of Jesus Christ, Who is Himself a descendant of David and the “temple” of the Lord. He is the true spotless Passover Lamb Who has bled and died for us sheep. The forgiveness His death has earned for us is ours freely by grace through faith in Him. The image with this post can be seen as depicting David or Christ with one hand on the shoot from Jesse’s stem and the other on the sheep (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). The image is by Wendy Tsai, who I think is a contemporary, award-winning Australian artist. My previous post on 2 Samuel 7-9 is here, and there is some discussion about 2 Samuel 8:4 and the hamstringing of horses here.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Samuel 7-9, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Samuel 7-9.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 03, 2007

Ps 29 / 2Sa 4-6 / Biblog folo

Can you and I give glory and strength to the Lord? Today in verse 1 of Psalm 29 we hear a call to do so (KJV). How can we who are inglorious and powerless give glory and strength to the Lord Who is all-glorious and all-powerful? Looking at other translations is helpful, as the ASV, NIV, and NASB translate “Ascribe to the Lord”, and we notice in the second half of verse 2, in all the translations, the parallel use of “worship the Lord”. When we come before the Lord to receive the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we confess Who God is and who we are in relationship to Him. We ascribe glory and strength to Him and admit that we are inglorious and powerless. In so doing, we are His people who receive His blessing of peace (v.11). You can find my previous posts on Psalm 29 by following this link.

Contemporary artist Marie Odile de Laforcade’s “The Feast around the Ark”The Ark of the Covenant as the Lord’s presence with His people was a significant part of Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. We heard about the Ark in Joshua, but there was very little in Judges, perhaps reflecting the people’s loss of appreciation for the Lord’s presence with them. In 1 Samuel the Ark is again a center of attention, as it is today in 2 Samuel 4-6. (You can find my previous post, which gives an overview of the whole reading, here.) Especially chapter 6 tells of David’s bringing the Ark up to Jerusalem and the festival that accompanied that journey. The image with this post is contemporary French artist Marie Odile de Laforcade’s “The Feast around the Ark” from Paule Landron’s “Histoire Sainte”, which was edited in 1991 (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). I don’t know that the Ark would have been out in full view for the people (you may remember from Numbers 4:5, 20 that the Ark was supposed to be covered whenever it was moved), but I think the image still gives an helpful idea of the festival. The Ark itself may be long gone, but, like the people in David’s time, we still have the Lord present with us to bless us with the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is really, physically present in bread that is His body and wine that is His blood in the Sacrament of the Altar. As John the Baptizer declared and as we sing in the liturgy, “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!”

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 2 Samuel 6 and David and his wives. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Samuel 4-6, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Samuel 4-6.

The Biblog folo today comes from a reader’s response to yesterday’s post on Psalm 28, particularly my discussion of the “story” that Palestinian shepherds break the legs of their sheep to discipline them. The reader appreciated my pointing out that the story as often told from the pulpit may not be true and reported reading other sermons online where the broken leg is mentioned as a result of having strayed. One such sermon the reader quoted, one by British Reformed Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), preached September 28, 1884, on Luke 15’s parable of the lost sheep, emphasizes the “uplifting action” of the Shepherd’s delivery of the sheep. The sermon also quotes from and expounds John 10:28.

Here are our Lord’s own words, “I give unto My sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall any pluck them out of My hand.” Hands of such might as those of Jesus will hold fast the found one. Shoulders of such power as those of Jesus will safely bear the found one home. It is all well with that sheep, for it is positively and experimentally the Good Shepherd’s own, just as it always had been His in the eternal purpose of the Father.

I’m not sure of all of Spurgeon’s theology, but we can agree that as long as sheep remain in the fold (that is, the Church in union with Christ, from which people can truly wander away from again), they are indeed made secure by the power of the Good Shepherd, Who will not let anyone take them from Him.

Reader questions led to two new posted Q&A: this one on 1 Samuel 31 and this one on Ecclesiastes 11. God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

July 02, 2007

Ps 28 / 2Sa 1-3 / 1 Samuel wrap-up

There’s a story that’s often told, with some variation, about Palestinian shepherds breaking the legs of straying sheep and carrying them over their shoulders while the leg heals so that the sheep better learn the shepherd’s voice and don’t stray in the future. One published version of the story is in Herman William Gockel’s My Hand in His: Ancient Truths in Modern Parables (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1961 revised and republished in 1999), and he doesn’t give a source for the claim. There are places in Holy Scripture, such as Psalm 28 that we read today, that at least describe a shepherd carrying sheep (v.9). (For my most-recent previous post on the whole psalm and links to others, see here.) Other Old Testament passages describing the Lord carrying His people are Deuteronomy 1:31; Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11; Isaiah 63:9. Especially note in Isaiah 63:9 the carrying of the weak, the lifting up of the helpless to remove them from danger. Like Psalm 28:9, Isaiah 40:11 speaks of the Shepherd feeding His flock, gathering the lambs and carrying them, and gently leading those with young. Ezekiel 34:11-16 describes the Lord as the Shepherd seeking His sheep, delivering them, feeding them, and healing them. In the New Testament, Luke 15:5 similarly speaks of a shepherd picking up a lost sheep that had strayed and was helpless in fear. Whether or not we think the story of the broken leg to learn the voice is true, we can draw comfort from the Good Shepherd’s calling us by name and leading us out and His laying down and taking up His life for us.

One other thing about Psalm 28 that I had not noticed before is that verse 9 is part of the Te Deum Laudamus we use in Matins. One reason I may not have noticed it before is that we sing “govern them” where the KJV translates “feed them” and the ASV, NIV, and NASV translate “be their shepherd”. Apparently alternate readings of the Hebrew text are behind the differences.

Salvador Dali’s “Planctus David in mortem Saul”I guess President Ford was the most recent significant national leader to die, and he wasn’t in office at the time. For a national leader who died in office, I think we’d have to go back to President Kennedy. His assassination may give us a rough equivalent to the death of Saul we read of yesterday (Saul most likely would have died if his suicide hadn’t expedited the death), and Kennedy’s funeral may give us a rough equivalent to the mourning for Saul we read of today in the first part of 2 Samuel 1-3. (My previous post on all of today’s reading is here.) The image with this post is Salvador Dali’s “Planctus David in mortem Saul”, one of his watercolors done between 1964-1967 as illustrations for “Biblia Sacra” published in 1969 with 105 lithographs from original watercolors (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). David mourned Saul even though he knew that he was going to succeed Saul, and even though David would soon know that of his own line would come the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ, Who suffered and died to save us from our sin. As for the bloodshed that accompanied David’s succeeding Saul, we should be thankful our system of government provides for a little more orderly transition!

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Samuel 1-3, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 2 Samuel 1-3.

Today I have an 1 Samuel wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the book of 1 Samuel, perhaps through Zabud, a son of the prophet Nathan (and thus a priest) and a friend of Solomon and member of his court (1 Kings 4:5). Whoever the human author was, he at least in part seems to have drawn from other written sources that existed at the time.
What is the book? The book of 1 Samuel is the first part of one book that originally also included what we know as 2 Samuel. The two parts in one book give the account of salvation history from the time of the judges through David’s reign. The book of 1 Samuel goes from the time of the judges to the time of David’s reign.
Where was it written? If, as is thought, a member of Solomon’s court was the instrument of the Holy Spirit’s recording these events, the book was likely written in Jerusalem.
When was it written? The book is thought to have been written near the end of, perhaps right after, Solomon’s reign, which would put the writing around 930 B.C.
Why? At least in a very general sense, the book was written to show God’s faithfulness and true kingship despite the failures and foibles of human kings. By beginning with the prophetic work of Samuel, the book subordinates human flesh and blood to the word and Spirit in establishing kingship.
How? The author concentrates on the relationship of God’s covenant and the kingship by telling, in 1 Samuel, of the birth, youth, and calling of Samuel; of the Ark’s being captured and returned to Israel; of Samuel’s serving as a faithful judge and deliverer; of the people’s demanding a king; of God’s giving them such a king, Saul, who soon showed himself to be unfaithful; and of Samuel’s anointing David to succeed Saul. David, too, would prove less than the ideal human king, David’s greatest Son, Jesus Christ.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 1 Samuel, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume II: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I & II Samuel, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted August 1985. (The section dealing with 1 Samuel runs 269 pages. After my study Bible, this is the first commentary I turn to, but it is a somewhat dated and harder to use, more-scholarly commentary.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume I, The Historical Books of the Old Testament: Genesis to Esther. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1923. (Like our Grace library, I have this volume on my shelf, and, although I didn’t pull it down at all while blogging on 1 Samuel this time through, I would think you would find its 57 pages on 1 Samuel somewhat helpful and generally accessible. The format runs the text in bold with the comments immediately following the relevant text, so you can in effect read the whole text and his conveniently-placed comments, if you like that format.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:30 AM

July 01, 2007

Dt 32:1-4 / 1Sa 28-31

For what do you praise God? I’m sure you and I might mention any number of things, including that for which we chiefly praise Him, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Today as we read Deuteronomy 32:1-4, the seasonal canticle for July, we can reflect both on Moses’s call in the second part of verse 3 for us to praise the greatness of our God and on Moses’s own statement of praise in verse 4. (My post on the canticle from last year is here, and my more recent post on Deuteronomy 31-34, including two hymns related to the canticle, is here.) How often do we praise God for all the things He does? Do we praise Him for allowing us to get sick? Do we praise Him for not making something work out that we wanted to work out? The Divinely-inspired Moses says all God’s works are perfect, all His ways are just, and that He does no wrong. We objectively (officially) believe those statements, and so we should praise God as Moses does. Maybe if we more often did praise God as Moses does we would subjectively (personally) believe them better.

American artist William Sidney Mount’s “Saul and the Witch of Endor”Probably the most intriguing part of our reading today of 1 Samuel 28-31 is Saul’s encounter with the witch of Endor, even if that part of the reading is not the most significant part of the events of which we hear. (My previous post on the whole reading, including some comments on the witch episode, is here.) The image with this post is Saul and the Witch of Endor, an 1828 oil on canvas by William Sidney Mount (1807-1868), the original of which is in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Mount is said to be America’s first major genre painter, who went from being an apprentice sign painter, to painting portraits, to painting historical scenes (such as today’s image), to genre painting, which in this usage means paintings of everyday life. You can see why his historical scenes have been described as “linear, flat and brightly colored”. You and I may not misuse God’s Name by consulting fortune-tellers, but we probably fail to always use God’s Name as we should, and we certainly sin in other ways. Thank God that by grace through faith in Jesus Christ there is forgiveness for all our sins.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Samuel 28-31, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that are said to refer to 1 Samuel 28-31.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make it holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM