Proverbs 4-6

Good morning! Much of today’s passage (Proverbs 4-6) continues themes which several noticed in your comments on yesterday’s passage. The imagery of wisdom as jewelry continues here in chapter 4, where wisdom will be a garland and crown upon the head. Imagery of wisdom as a path is present also, alongside mention of the alternate paths that foolishness will lead one down. But the main two interrelated topics in these chapters are adulterous/”loose” women, and the importance of discipline.

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Proverbs 1-3

Good morning! Today we leave behind the Psalms and begin another cornerstone of Wisdom literature, the book of Proverbs. This book catalogues all the collected aphorisms and wise sayings attributed to King Solomon and other ancient luminaries. Proverbs expresses conventional morality, of the sort that says living righteously always leads sooner or later to blessings in the end, proof of God’s favor. We’ve seen the limits of this worldview already when it came from the friends in the book of Job, but for what it’s worth, Proverbs captures the outlook of most people, most of the time. Many of the central chapters simply list one proverb after another, but occasional characterizations of wisdom as a woman are among the variations that give this book greater interest.

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Psalms 137-143

Good morning! Today with Psalms 137-143 we see our second-to-last day of the Psalms. Most of these chapters focus on a central theme of deliverance from enemies. Psalm 140, for instance, prays for salvation from the wicked, giving the impression of traps all around. Likewise Psalm 141 is a pious prayer for preservation in a time of evil, and is also a fixture in the evening prayer liturgy of many Jewish and Christian traditions. Yet two psalms—137 and 139—stand out especially in this group for their ability to channel the best and the worst of human experiences.

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Psalms 120-131

Good morning! After yesterday’s apparently never-ending Psalm 119, today we have a marathon of another sort, twelve psalms in one day! Psalms 120-131 are grouped together as the majority of fifteen songs stretching to Psalm 135. These chapters are all listed under the heading “A Song of Ascents”. These go by the name “pilgrim songs” in other places, and they were likely used for pilgrimages up to Jerusalem for the thrice-yearly temple festivals. Some of these psalms focus on the destination—Jerusalem itself—while others equate the physical “Mount Zion” with metaphysical confidence in the God who “dwells” there in the temple (see psalm 125), or focus attention on God alone. Regardless, each song declares steadfast hope and faith in God’s righteousness.

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Psalm 119

Good morning! The only text we have for today is Psalm 119, because it’s an extraordinarily long psalm. In fact, at 176 verses it’s by far the longest chapter in the entire Bible, and more than twice the average length of our daily passages. The psalm focuses on the goodness of divine law, praising God’s righteous commands in myriad ways. It is structured as an acrostic, a type of poetry organized so that the initial letter of each stanza or line spells out a message. In this case, the initial word of each stanza begins with one of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Within each set of eight verses for each letter, each verse begins with that letter (8 verses that start with alef, 8 verses that start with bet, etc). Obviously, we lose this effect when reading a translated text. With this form, the writer intends to communicate in structure as well as subject the comprehensive nature of God’s commandments—they stretch from A to Z, as it were. According to my Hebrew Bible professor in seminary, this makes for rather odd Hebrew sentences and syntax. He was not impressed with the psalm and felt it was entirely too long, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. Happy reading!

Read Psalm 119.

Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Psalms 120-131. Thanks for reading!

The Ministry of Reconciliation

Community United Church of Christ (St. Paul Park, Minnesota)

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

I’d tell you how great vacation was, but I don’t want to make you jealous. Javen and I just got back yesterday from more than a week in Montana. The occasion was my 15-year high school reunion, but the most important parts of the trip were visiting with my grandmother, aunt and cousins whom I rarely see these days.

Being in Montana, one can’t help but also notice the big sky and expansive scenery. On our last full day, Javen and I went with his folks to see Glacier National Park. This was a postcard-ready destination if there ever was one. Clear glacial streams, pristine evergreen forests, cool mountain air and jagged mountain peaks, each one higher than the last. We spent the day hiking and driving through Glacier, each turn of the road revealing scenery more stunning than before. By mid-afternoon, we were too glutted with nature’s riches to stop long and consider one more thing. So we drove past glacially-carved, pristine St. Mary’s Lake, and headed out the main eastern entrance to Glacier.

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