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Click here to read Psalm 7-8  on BibleGateway.com

The question has been posed several times to us here at EverydayDevotions: what does it take to be a devotional writer? You’ll notice that the questioner leaves off such unimportant adjectives as “successful”, “insightful”, or “accurate.” We’d be tempted to read more into that, but sometimes if you know what’s at the bottom of the cone, you don’t need to eat all the ice cream.

In any case, the most essential ingredient for any devotional writer is deep felt conviction; or to use a more common term, arrogance. That’s right, my friends, behind every devotional you see in the Bible Book Store or read online (or “like” on facebook, hint hint) you will find a man or woman with the assumption that they have found something in scripture that has eluded the general population of goobers that go to NASCAR events and keep Kmart in business. Not only that, it has eluded the church as a whole for the last 2000 years.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT 

Well, let it not be said that we at EverydayDevotions don’t follow the trend. Today we’re going to be looking at a passage of scripture that has been pored over by PhDs for years, and yet we will claim to find something new. Why, you ask? The answer is simple:…if I think of what it is, I’ll let you know.

Psalm 7:14, according to the NIV, says “Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment.” If you’re a KJV fan, you get “Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.” The NLT says “The wicked conceive evil; they are pregnant with trouble and give birth to lies.” There’s a host of other translations, of course, but you get the idea. Why so many versions of one verse? Well, fun fact of the day, one of the hardest things to translate into another language is wordplay, such as puns, metaphors, alliteration, ect. The Psalms, consisting primarily of poetry, are ripe with these types of translation landmines.

So let’s look at one of these words, specifically the one that is translated “travaileth/conceive/pregnant.” The original word here is “chabal”, which is sometimes translated as bind, such as tightening a cord or twisting to bind something. So, if we go with that meaning, then the verse could be translated: “sinners are tied up in sin; what they conceive as mischief eventually is born as deception and lies.”

“THE PATH YOU HAVE SET UPON CAN ONLY END IN DEATH” 

It’s interesting that people who are not living by God’s plan can see some actions as simple mischief, but in the end they wind up twisted up and bound by their own lies. The Bible is clear in other passages that sin is pleasurable for a season, but it ends in death. It seems to me that this verse is reiterating that same concept in poetic form.  There’s no such thing as “innocent” sin.

How does this apply to us? The time to decide how far you’re going to go with your date is not when the windows are all fogged up; by then, you’re already tangled pretty tight in those cords. The time to decide how much you’re gonna drink is not when you’re on the 3rd round at the pub. The time to decide if you’re gonna do that shady business deal is not when you’re in the closed boardroom; it’s when you first see the prospectus. God warns us time and again that walking too close to the edge is not “exciting,” it’s foolhardy and dangerous, and once the cords are tight, it’s very hard to struggle free. Decide now how you intend to live; before the knots are tied.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Click here to read Jeremiah 34  on BibleGateway.com

Sometimes when you think things can’t get any worse, somebody throws another nail under your tire. This wonderfully uplighting principle is often called “Murphy’s Law,” which basically says “just because you think you’re a pessimist, doesn’t mean life can’t still come up with more things wrong than you can think of.” For example, it is inevitable that right when the Superbowl is on, the power will go out. And you’ll be in a basement with no windows. And all the flashlights will have dead batteries in them. And you’ll inevitably miss the first step running upstairs, faceplanting on the remaining steps in a fall cushioned only by the plate of nachos that you were carrying. And when you finally make it outside, you’ll see that there is one ray of light, coming from your burning roof.

Take heart, my friends. Murphy’s law is nothing new; even in the Bible we see how things go from bad to worse quite often. Let’s take a peek at poor Zedekiah today. Zedekiah was a king of Judah during the fun time of Judah’s history called Babylon-kicks-everybody-around-and-takes-all-their-stuff BC. So, Zedekiah, being the semi-righteous man he is, begs God to come and save his city, Jerusalem. Day after day, there’s no word from God, and the armies of Babylon are getting mighty close.

IS THERE ANYONE ELSE UP THERE I CAN TALK TO?

Finally, Zedekiah sees his ray of hope; Jeremiah the prophet steps on the scene. Finally, God has answered Zedekiah, and Jeremiah’s coming to tell him the details on how God is going to miraculously save his people yet again. Jeremiah tells him “yep, I have a word from God. Here it is: This is what theLord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and given into his hands.”

Can you imagine poor Zedekiah? Finally, after all his waiting for a Word from God, God looks him in the eye and says “you think it’s bad now? Just wait a couple hours.” How tough would it be to hear “yes, I have heard your prayer about getting you that promotion; instead, you’re going to be fired and unemployed for the next year.” Why would God do such a thing? Doesn’t he care?

THE SILVERISH LINING

In Zedekiah’s case, God did care for him. Though Jerusalem would be destroyed, “Yet hear the Lord’s promise to you, Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the Lord says concerning you: You will not die by the sword; you will die peacefully.” Judah had long forfeited its right to God’s divine protection, and nothing was going to change the fact that they would now reap the consequences of their actions. However, in the midst of the suffering, God remembered his servant.

This is often how God works in our lives. Sometimes we just can’t understand why God is allowing us to suffer like this. In some cases, unfortunately, it’s not because God is teaching us a lesson, but because we have to reap the consequences of our own decisions. But even in the midst of that, God still finds a way to show His love for us. Maybe we won’t see it till after the storm has passed and we’re sitting in captivity somewhere, but God is always working. He never forgets.

Even when the new guy at work drops a steel girder on the new truck you just bought yesterday. And haven’t had time to get insured yet.

 

Click here to read Judges 19  on BibleGateway.com

A word of warning to those of you who are regular readers of EverydayDevotions – typically we find a lot of humor in the Bible in these devotions, but every so often we come across certain passages of scripture that offer very little in the way of humor. This is one of those days.

In Judges 19, we read the story of a Levite and his concubine. There has been much discussion about this story regarding the relationship of the Bible to the issue of homosexuality in our modern setting. For most people, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is the big condemnation in scripture; but this story is just as powerful, and possibly moreso, since it concerns almost all Israelites, God’s chosen people who were supposed to be a shining light of his goodness.

THE DOWNWARD SLIDE 

In any case, while we could spend some time examining the sexual orientation angle, let’s look instead at the so-called protagonist of this story, the Levite. The first thing we notice about this man is that he is in a remote area; this was not one of the up and comers in the temple, but a simple everyday Joe living in the boonies.

Next, notice that he had a concubine. A concubine in the Old Testament setting was neither wife nor prostitute, but somewhere inbetween. They were members of the household, so they were more than just sexual partners, but they do not have the full rights of a wife, especially regarding inheritance. It would appear that they were basically women who did not have enough standing or looks or property to get married, but found a man that wanted an extra female around. It should strike us odd that a Levite, one of the priests of the nation, should have this sort of relationship.

The woman leaves this man and returns home, where he subsequently follows her to get her back. On the way home, they stay in a stranger’s home (very common in the Ancient Near East). Notice again how the author of Judges draws attention to the fact that this city he stayed in were composed of Israelites, not “sinful” foreigners.

In the course of the night, this “godly” priest sends his near-wife out to take his place with a town full of strange men, who essentially rape her to death. Shockingly, when he arises in the morning, he steps over her and calls her to get up and proceed on their way. It’s hard to imagine this heartlessness, especially from an Levite.

THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD 

I’ll leave the gruesome details for you to read on your own, but I think we need to take a good look at this passage, and a good look at ourselves. This Levite probably saw himself as the spiritual leader of his town, the pastor or priest of his day. Yet one compromise, taking a concubine, sends his life and the life of the nation at large into an alarming spiral.

We often think that because we are “forgiven” or under “grace,” that the problems of sin don’t apply to us like they apply to all those sinners out there. We can easily grow complacent in our walk with the Lord, and make little compromises like watching that movie, reading that book, or dating that person. This story should be a sobering reminder to us of the devastation we can cause to ourselves and others when we begin to think that we are beyond such earthly temptations. The Bible is clear that Pride leads to great suffering, and sometimes we can even become prideful of our salvation. We think that since we are God’s special one, that we can get away with little sins and nothing bad will happen.

We need to pray that God will keep our eyes open to the temptations around us and our hearts clearly tuned to his will. Nothing else will keep us from falling.

 


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