My Poems Remind Me

Anyone who knows me and has seen my poems will be able to extract the message from the biographical history contained in them. But my primary reader—are you ready for this—is me. Much of what I have shared in verse are thoughts I must never forget.  My poems are written to remind me of the person I have become, how I got here.  They are written to encourage me to hold on tight in faith to the God who has walked beside all these years. If I may, let me extract a few lines from a few poems to expand.

Perhaps, I should start with something someone else wrote, put to music, and then passed on where it was sung over 200 times by a group of teenagers in upstate New York at a youth camp.  I remember the chorus. Here’s how we sang it:

Lord don't let me fail, I want to make the bride,
When my way is dark, keep me by your side
When my faith is weak, only let me see,
Something in my life, that You have done for me.

Life is filled with challenge.  Our faith in God and His provisions is mockingly questioned by a culture that finds Bible based principles hopelessly olde worlde.  Admittedly, we must with resolute conviction stand up in the controversial social winds that  blow.

and having done all, to stand. Stand 
therefore... Ephesians 6:13b-14a [KJV]

I took to verse to remind myself always that my faith wants the support of my testimony. In “Reflections” I wrote

The signposts left along the way
Are markers where I stopped to pray
Enlisting angels in the strife—
A testimonial to my life.

In “I Miss the Good Old Days” I reminded myself of the youth camp experience and the months that followed at an old fashion altar:

I really miss the good old days.
My faith is not a fraud!
My soul reached out in simple praise
To touch the heart of God.

When youthful hearts at altar rails
Beat strong in simple praise,
Not harrowed with presumed details
Of science—now the rage.

When spiritual things were wondrous new
And Jesus then was awed,
Back then there was one thing to do:
I lived to worship God.

In “The Child I Was” I encouraged myself to hold tight to those early days of my new found love for the Savior: [Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. – Proverbs 22:6]

There’s an adage told which was true of old
In the record of history:
That the child I was and the child I am 
is the child I’ll always be.

And now I’m old and if truth be told
I’ll be forever glad:
How I fell in love with the Word of God 
when I was but a lad.

The desire to pray I have today
And which is a part of me
Is the child I was and the child I am and 
the child I’ll always be.

I am 75 years along the way and there are far fewer steps out of the woods ahead than behind. My prayer daily is, “Lord, remind me of all you have done for me.” My prayer always:

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. - Psalm 25:4

In “As Enoch Walked” I prayed:

Lord, keep me from mere self pursuit
With Heaven out of view
Instead may I stay true through life
By walking close to You.

Amen.

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How I Know God Is Real.

How do I know God is real and that He cares about me?  The evidence is anecdotal rather than hard scientific “fact.” But think of it: if God is real to me, it means that He is in someway in my life and sharing my experiences.  That’s the quintessential definition of “anecdotal.” To depend on “science” for answers is to expect God to be a part of the science ..but He was the creator of it (its author) not the science itself. If you comb the heavens to find God, you will see His handiwork but not Him.  He dwells among His people!

And without faith it is impossible to please 
God, because anyone who comes to him must 
believe that he exists and that he rewards 
those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Why depend on a faith in the science that God made when we can have that faith in Him directly? God affects creation. He is not affected by it.


In 1967 with daddy near death, I traveled home from college to begin the summer’s task of working for the city of Buffalo, NY. at a housing development: mowing lawns and burning trash. I was 22 and a believer but not at all happy. The job was difficult for me—life was difficult:  dad was dying from a bad heart; my younger sister and mom argued a lot; mom needed an operation; and this job stunk—oh, did I mention, I proposed marriage to “my girl” and she said, “No.”

So, I got on a Greyhound bus and headed back to school under the pretense I was looking for better work. (I was self-deceived and desperate.) There is no work in Montgomery county, PA. for a boy without wheels. The bus would drop me off at the end of the country lane that connected to campus and I would walk it alone, now utterly despondent and without a clue. What now?

Let’s just stop here. If something encouraging could happen here that could not have been anticipated or planned, might we think God was alert to my reckless behavior and He interceded? I had been home almost 4 weeks (from memorial day to June 21, the day I went back). School was in summer recess (a ghost town) and not even the faculty members who lived on campus could be seen.

But just off the main path, out in the open, painting the side of an old shack for a little extra cash, was my Greek teacher, Rev. Grazier, the one faculty member I had connected with the past 3 semesters at school.  He lived in or near Conchohocken, PA. around 40 minutes drive to the school. I would never have guessed to see him there.

He was the one person I would have arranged to see, however, if I had arranged anything but I had no way of reaching him nor did I think to. He was the one person God could use to speak to my soul, to encourage me to do the right thing and go home, to let God work out the knot in the tangled thoughts in my mind. (Sadly, daddy would die June 23.)

(Years later, I would call Rev. Grazier for more advice.  He even came to our wedding reception!  He missed the wedding—traffic.)

I called mom after conversing with my Greek professor and left for home. He “proved to be an encouragement to me.” [Colossians 4:11 CSB]

Would God ever step in to simply put His arm about me and encourage me to “wait on Him”? I have no doubts any more.

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you
are the God of my salvation; I wait for you
all day long. [Psalm 25:5 CSB]
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Free or Freedom

The recent election—still in dispute—was more than a question of differing ideologies, promises, or achievements. The bigger issue which America should be pondering is the question of “free” or “freedom.” Do we want free government provisions or should we be more interested—whatever the personal cost— in freedom.

Is there no conflict between these? I am officially “old” by some standards and wouldn’t mind my medical expenses, including drugs, being totally free. I wouldn’t mind a government check to liquidate my mortgage. I wouldn’t mind waiving property taxes on my home. ..and on and on I could go, but are their attached conditions that would give pause? I think I could get free dental but my dentist, whose office is within walking distance, is not on the list of dentists that provide this. My cancer treatment in Canada would have cost me nothing—as a canadian—but my oncologist informed me that I would be waiting months more before it would begin. (All tests show my cancer in regression.)

To be honest with ourselves, we need to define “freedom” before a comparison with “free” can be made. That definition is well stated in the U.S. Constitution. If this document is altered, even by amendment, or ignored or contradicted by statutory law, or in any way revisited or rewritten, the definition of freedom is changed. Freedom is defined in the U.S. Constitution. I see it primarily in a few lines—and nuanced in the remaining parts—of this document for which much blood has been shed, not to safeguard our democracy but to protect our freedom.

Consider: The U.S. Constitution describes a federated form of government which was and remains an agreement among, now, 50 independent states—all having an equal say in its construction. It’s uniqueness on the world stage is founded on three principle provisions:

  1. As a federation of states:
    1. the provisions of the 10th and 14th amendments,
    2. a Senate of 2 elected office holders from each state, and
    3. the electoral college. Even the smallest state is equally represented.
  2. The First amendment which enumerates 5 freedoms:
    1. Freedom of religion. The government shall make no laws regulating the establishment of religion.
    2. Freedom of the press
    3. Freedom of speech
    4. Freedom of assembly and
    5. Freedom to complain about the government or the right of petition to redress grievances without reprisal.
  3. And, most importantly 3 separate but equal branches of the federal government:
    1. The Executive, the President (One person, not an oligarchy or a hegemony) at the helm whose direction defines the direction for the country under their administration. They do not make laws, they implement and enforce them through their leadership.
    2. The Legislature makes the laws and approves a budget. And what must not be politically controlled:
    3. A Judiciary as a separate nonpartisan branch of government to interpret both constitutional and statutory law.

Freedom best thrives in a free market society in which we contribute to and participate in our  citizenship. If we want “free,” consider carefully the cost to our “freedom” which President Reagan once warned …is never more than one generation away from extinction.”[1]


[1] https://youtu.be/SDouNtnR_IA

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The Bible Contract for Marriage

The biblical idea behind marriage included procreation but its primary gift to society was the intimacy (“one flesh”)⁠1 possible between a man and a woman if they cared enough to discover it over the course of a lifetime. This social contract loses its force within the context of gay relations. Civilized society has broken the biblical arrangement for marriage—not only

  • by welcoming gay marriage as a norm but—consider the following—
  • by separating the social contract from its consummation [the marriage of virgins],
  • by a disregard for the intimacy associated with a henotic relationship (the one flesh idea proffered in Scripture),
  • by a casualness in sexual relations,
  • by the availability of a legally prevalent and ubiquitous, unchallenged, no fault, divorce,2 and
  • by legalized prostitution.

All of these are not only socially acceptable but are promoted without apology through the TV media, in academia, and now even in the church.

Prostitution

Speaking of prostitution: It is now considered a career choice for younger women—perhaps working their way through college. The Bible, both Old and New Testament, uses it metaphorically as an example of Israel’s unfaithfulness in relationship with God. Prostitution must be within the Divine Law categorically forbidden.⁠3 The distinction made in English between “married,” adultery, and “unmarried,” fornication, does not exist in Biblical Hebrew.

Maidenhood

Even the Hebrew word for a newly married young woman incorrectly loses its ancient cultural setting and allowed to include any young woman regardless of how sexually active she might be.⁠4 It is more difficult, though, to maintain this position in Genesis 24 when Abraham’s eldest servant finds a “young woman” to wed Isaac. That she would have been a virgin of marriageable age is unquestioned.⁠5 The distinction in Biblical Hebrew between eligibility for marriage and virginity⁠6 does not exist. Some reason that Mary, according to the prophecy was a “young maiden,” not a virgin, else, the word for virgin would have been used.⁠7 No one doubts Mary’s virginity upon marriage. The angel clarified that point to Joseph⁠7 but the catholic faith maintains that she remained a virgin throughout her lifetime. The words do not rule this out.

Though now considered archaic, a maiden was a girl or young woman, especially an unmarried one or a virgin.

The Marriage Bond

Marriage, as a bond, is solely a legal requirement.  We wed for the tax breaks or to get into the ICU for a visit with a hospitalized spouse. In a modern civilized culture marriage is, therefore, open to an interpretation which may include gay relations—and, who knows: polyamory might be a few years away.

Believers who perhaps cannot claim the “Adam and Eve” experience can and should endorse that possibility for others, especially their children. Just because we may have had to negotiate the deep swirling waters of marital discord doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take the bridge.


1 Genesis 2:24
2 Malachi 2:16 NLT “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”
3 Exodus 34:14-15a Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.“Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods…
4 The RSV of Isaiah 7:14 uses the phrase young woman:Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Imman’u-el.” Most english versions read “virgin.
5 Genesis 24:43 See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,
6 see Leviticus 21:14 where the words are clearly distinguished: אַלְמָנָ֤ה וּגְרוּשָׁה֙ וַחֲלָלָ֣ה זֹנָ֔ה אֶת־אֵ֖לֶּה לֹ֣א יִקָּ֑ח כִּ֛י אִם־בְּתוּלָ֥ה מֵעַמָּ֖יו יִקַּ֥ח אִשָּֽׁה׃
7 The Hebrew provides a word for virgin: הַבְּתוּלָה
8 Matthew 1:20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
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Chutes and Ladders

On hearing about hundreds of lawyers being deployed by both major political parties to hopefully assure a fair election, I thought of my fourteen year old granddaughter. Thinking of her reminds me of how silly, wicked [a New England word] proud I am of her. Even now, instead of spending time on electronic tablets or smart phones, I would always catch her reading a book. But I shout the loudest about the time we played “Chutes and Ladders” with grandma. How does this relate to hundreds of lawyers? I’ll tell you.

She was 4 and losing the game. For those who do not know the game because they weren’t blessed with children that needed to keep babysitters busy, a “chute” is a slide. If you spin the wheel and your next move lands you there, you have to slide all the way to the bottom of the chute. If you are lucky to land on the bottom rung of a ladder, you climb all the way to the top.

87 is the beginning of a long chute to the bottom!

Our 4 year old granddaughter was winning with a loud smile when a spin eventually put her on square 87, the top end of a chute! If memory serves (at least it is an exciting thought) she went from 28 to 84 and then on her next spin, the arrow said move 3 spaces. And I could see tears peeking out from behind those baby blues. She wanted to change the rules but grandma and I encouraged her to keep them. Win or lose, following the rules is a principle worth cultivating. (We didn’t quite say it that way, but you get the point.)

When she was four. The old man is me! If you think her cute, she only gets lovlier—inside as well as outside.

Eyes wet, saddened by the realization grandma or I could win since she had to negotiate, the entire board (again), our adorable (in many ways) young granddaughter reluctantly consented. (She was simply brought up to obey the adults even though grandma and I were and are pushovers.)

She started over following the rules … AND SHE WON!!!!

 

Why can’t grownups be like my granddaughter!? We wouldn’t need to worry about someone rigging an election—either party.

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Sexual Preference

In the early nineties, as a pastor, I was pressed to declare my position on a number of, then, new social postulates that required the church’s response. We were burying young adults that succumbed to the Aids virus—often the result of promiscuity or engaging in gay relations. This alone sought from christianity a more merciful voice than the fire and brimstone message of earlier days that preached an absolute holiness or else. For me, at the time, the issue that overwhelmed belief was “abortion.” I read a symposium on the subject made up of brilliant, scholarly, religious minds who came to no biblical conclusion worth hanging a theological position on.

Now the matter of gayness has revisited the privacy of our convictions and it seems impossible for the “pastor” to avoid the discussion. A recent Washington Post article alerts our catholic friends, “Pope Francis has called in a new documentary for the creation of civil union laws, giving his clearest support to date for the rights of same-sex couples while breaking from the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.⁠1

LGBTQ concerns have invaded the pulpit and at least in innuendo the homily or sermon must address it. Some churches have openly accepted gay marriage as a modern social model. The nuclear family defined as “one man and one woman” plus the kids, is now politically incorrect. Family includes all types of relations including gay couples, with or without adopted little ones. Most preachers will probably pick and choose their Sunday text carefully avoiding any biblical reference to homosexuality hoping to avoid what now cannot be avoided. For reasons this blog cannot go into—it takes a book—LGBTQ is part of social life now in the civilized northern hemisphere and silence is consent! If that’s what the church wants to say to its world, they should say it openly.

Well, I was happy contenting myself with the theory that although the bible only references the religious practice of homosexuality and not “marriage” relations, per se, I could still maintain that the only biblically endorsed formula for familial relations was and is “one Adam and one Eve.”⁠2 But a recent interrogation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett by Senator Hirono of Hawaii gave me pause. The Washington Post article headlines, “Sen. Hirono grills Amy Coney Barrett for describing sexual orientation as a ‘preference’⁠3 It appears now generally accepted that because hormones are involved in sexual attractions (and they are) that homosexuality—and all LGBTQ behavior—must be genetic, not a preference or choice but a biologically driven impulse, and therefore cannot be subject to religious moral judgment.

Scientists,” reads wiki,⁠4 “do not know the exact cause of sexual orientation, but they theorize that it is caused by a complex interplay of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. Although no single theory on the cause of sexual orientation has yet gained widespread support,” the article continues, “scientists favor biologically-based theories.”⁠5 Homosexual orientation—not preference—cannot be a sin since it is part of nature and not choice.

I don’t believe God agrees.

So now, I must declare myself. I have counseled, befriended, and worked with gay men and have found some genuinely interested in and hungry for all Jesus offers, which pulls on my natural inclination to empathize. I know what a draw hormones cause. Just ask my wife! (No, don’t.) But what God does in all of this is a question for His grace which we should not presume to know in full. When it comes to the bema, though, behind which we are privileged to speak as divine oracles,⁠6 we must not preach social norms. We must prayerfully represent His Word to the best of our calling or vocation. If there are consequences—and there will be, if I read my Bible right, let us count it as a badge of honor to faithfully represent Him.


1 https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/pope-francis-civil-unions/2020/10/21/805a601c-139e-11eb-a258-614acf2b906d_story.html
2 Mark 10:7-9 [ESV] ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother [and hold fast to his wife, missing in some manuscripts] and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Frankowski BL; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence (June 2004). “Sexual orientation and adolescents”. Pediatrics. 113
6 Exodus 18:15 [KJV] “the people come unto me to enquire of God.
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Will He Find Faith?

Rod Dreher, senior editor and blogger at The American Conservative 1 in his book, “The Benedict Option” wrote:

“…faithful … Christians—… theological conservatives within the three main branches of historic Christianity—…know that if believers don’t come out … and be separate, 2 …, their faith will not survive for another generation …in this culture…. They recognize an unpopular truth: politics will not save us. … they have recognized that the kingdom of which they are citizens is not of this world 3 and have decided not to compromise that citizenship. What these … Christians are doing now …a strategy that draws on the authority of Scripture …[is] “exile in place 4 [embolden for personal emphasis]

This is not the rhetoric of the street corner prophet inspiring fear in an election year. This is not the outcry of an enraged citizenry whose political and religious zeal have welded together reaching a crescendo in an all or nothing election scenario. This is not using Scripture to explain or endorse or discredit—whatever—what we feel in this time of heated political dialog. This is not the voice of christian disaffection trying to buttress a dying church by discrediting the very government for which Paul admonished prayer. 5 This is about survival as a church!

Dreher argues: “This is not just about our own survival. If we are going to be for the world as Christ meant for us to be, we are going to have to spend more time away from the world, in deep prayer and … spiritual training—just as Jesus (did). We cannot give the world what we do not have.” 6

In a letter to soldiers in 1798, John Adams, a Founding Father … remarked:

“We had no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. …Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” 7

We, as christians, need to live with eyes wide open in a world 8 we are not part of. We need to become “street-wise” to the cultural and social change all around us, a change that is predictably going to see us more and more as outliers. As a civilization we have moved away from a faith in a transcendent God who communicates His love to His creation …to a deistic or even vague definition of a god who has wound the clock of the universe and left science in charge …to no god at all. A generation of millennials whose faith in the christian God has eroded away—some to an agnostic or even atheistic point of view—are not aware that their mindset is a product of the postmodern age we live in. Sociologist Christian Smith 9 used the term “secular revolution. 10 No god, no absolute code of morality, no sin. Whatever makes you happy. Sociologist Philip Rieff, the great interpreter of Freud, described the shift in Western consciousness like this: “Religious man was born to be saved. Psychological man is born to be pleased. 11

Don’t fret the outcome of the election—any election—that understandably you have a patriotic interest in. Go, vote!! For a believer, whose trust is founded in a God that will direct our paths, there is really only one vote that counts—His!

Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? ” Luke 18:8 CSB

Be mindful instead of the outcome of the faith of our children and grandchildren if we fail to live out our faith in front of them. Above all, put prayer back on the schedule. If it’s there already, make sure it is a priority.


1 https://www.theamericanconservative.com/about-us/
2 2 Corinthians 6:17 CSB “come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord
3 Philippians 3:20 CSB “our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ
4 Dreher, Rod. The Benedict Option (p. 18). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
5 1 Timothy 2:1-2 “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
6 Dreher, Rod. The Benedict Option (p. 19).
Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
7 John Adams, Letter to the Massachusetts Militia, 11 October 1798, U.S. National Archives, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/99-02-02-3102.
8 John 17:15-16 ““I am not praying that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world
9 Christian Stephen Smith is an American sociologist, currently the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. Smith’s research focuses primarily on religion in modernity,” -wiki
10 Dreher, Rod. The Benedict Option (p. 39). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
11 Philip Rieff, The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith After Freud, 40th anniversary ed. (Wilmington, DE:
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Hosea 1-3

As part of a men’s Bible study on the minor prophets, Hosea is first, I have started enjoying the Hebrew text in Hosea 1-3. We will have guide books to direct discussion (my copy of the 2 book series on the minor prophets is on order). But below might be something that will most likely not be discussed. I am not totally comfortable with any translation but here’s the CSB, Christian Standard Bible:

Then the LORD said to me, “Go again; show love to a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, just as the LORD loves the Israelites though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.” Hosea 3:1

Go again

It is interesting that the word “again” is not translated as part of the first clause [The KJV missed it altogether]: “Then the Lord AGAIN said to me…” The reason is the accent or tone (The prepositive disjunctive tonal יְחיִב). The word order is “And the Lord said unto me again Go…”. Prepositive means we flip the 2 words: GO AGAIN. Which means the Masoretes that came up with the accents read this: “And the Lord said unto me ‘Go again…’.” The accents or tones are NOT inspired but I think most translators are comfortable with their understanding …and so am I. The Contemporary English Version  is incorrect:

Once again the Lord spoke to me. And this time he said, “Hosea, fall in love with an unfaithful woman[a] who has a lover. Hosea 3:1 [CEV]

Is there a difference?  If God were to instruct Hosea a second time to marry Gomer, this would suggest his reluctance, even repulsion, with the idea as something sinful since he knew of her past.

If the word again belongs with the word “Go” we are led to interpret this to mean Hosea took her back after they were wed and had 3 children together, and that she left him again (Hosea 1:2) for her paramours.

Woman or Wife

But should the word “woman” be translated “wife”? Hebrew has one word for both! The NIV suggests: “Go, show your love to your wife again…”

A Hint-A Friend

Here’s a hint: the word “friend,” is translated (I think incorrectly) in the CSB “another man.” The word more correctly means “husband” because it references an intimate friendship. This can only be her husband or paramour—not just “another man.”

Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend,… [KJV]

But the next word ‘AND’ by some scholars is saying that Gomer has two intimates, her husband AND her paramour.

If so, the phrase in the CSB which reads “woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress,” might better translate “a woman who is both beloved by her husband and [yet – KJV] an adulteress.” And since this whole lesson for Hosea is a lesson in God’s burden for unfaithful Israel this fits best.

God’s heart ached beyond our ability to describe it …let alone feel it …that is everyone but one man, Hosea, whom God instructed to reunite with his unfaithful spouse and live the trauma the Divine heart was living.

Raison Cakes

Oh, “raison cakes”? Is this for real!! Yes, in our culture it might be caviar. She was living the life giving herself to rich dudes that lavished attention on her. But was this Hosea’s wife or Israel or both?

Husband vs Master

Hosea 2:16 [NIV] reads “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’” The difference between master and husband in the Jewish culture of the time is pivotal to an understanding of the message of this prophecy for our time.  Ask any married woman what this means!  But looking into the culture brings us to a sacred promise: betrothal.

Betrothal

A man betroths (takes) a woman in Ancient Israel, Jezreel—never the reverse.  ..And there is a reason.  The word carries an old nuance meaning to pay for or take possession of.

Then David sent messengers to say to Ish-bosheth son of Saul, “Give me back my wife, Michal. I was engaged to her for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.” 2 Samuel 3:14

Thus Baali or my master takes on a double meaning.  Israel worshipped Baal but this brought Israel, like Gomer, into bondage, the sole possession of a cruel master.  God’s betrothal meant He purchased Israel as Hosea purchased Gomer back for a price.

I will take you to be my wife forever. I will take you to be my wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. Hosea 2:19

The price of justice and love was Calvary!

Declares

P.S. Oh, I think the word “declares” instead of “saith” or “says” is contextually significant as well. No one will agree with me but the Hebrew word is warm and private, personal and secretive.  It is a message to the heart not front page news script.  Take this for what it seems worth to you, but it fits Hosea 2:19.  Our betrothal to Christ is a revelation of His compassion given to us individually in the secrecy of a faith that hears that still small voice of love.

But then I will win her back once again.I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly there to her [Hebrew: to her heart]. Hosea 2:14 NLT

Hosea’s marriage becomes a tale of God’s romance with Israel—and dare I say, the Church. It was a rocky and emotionally painful relationship for both because, in psychological terms, Gomer and Israel—and dare I say the Church—is searching for love without a self identity that accepts it. They have lost their way, spiritually.

A relationship with Baal as her master—and Baal must have a modern interpretation for the Church (Matthew 6:24; Revelation 3:17-18)—was temptingly attractive despite the fact she knew (in her words: Hosea 2:7), “ I will go back to my husband…, for then I was better off than now.”

There is much here to research about the heart of God and the relationship He longs for with us. These first three chapters are but the introduction….

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A Lesson in Truth

[Yet you desired faithfulness [truth] even in the womb (inward parts, i.e. the heart and mind); you taught me wisdom in that secret place (my thoughts). Psalm 51:6]

You Desired Faithfulness [Truthfulness]

This one verse should have been expanded—if not already—into countless sermons on salvation as well as texts on counseling. David arrives here after a winding journey through self-justification to self-condemnation to blaming his mother for giving him birth. Off the record, I little doubt, he could have rationalized a way of blaming even Uriah; for, had he not neglected his wife that fateful night, David wouldn’t be in this state of mind now. Perhaps, some time elapsed while he tried in his own way to assuage the pain, to sleep through the nightmare. To be factual: the Ammonites killed Uriah.

This is an all to familiar dialog between counselor and counselee. Blaming everyone else first seems to be a recognizable mile marker on the road to recovery for us in finding our way back to the right path.

God is not listening yet, when we are not honest within ourselves. Maybe we do not really know ourselves well enough, we don’t know why we did what we did. Maybe we are unprepared to give an account of our behavior. Nonetheless, without truthfulness, there is nothing here of any therapeutic value. There is no opportunity for God to restore David’s joy or heal his conscience because he has not yet decided to be truthful in prayer. David murdered an innocent man in order to be legally free to covet his wife, just because she was too beautiful to resist. Self-deception has a name and it is “David.”

David’s humanity cannot absorb murder and keep its identity. So David needs God desperately to touch his life and get him back to a time before this indefensible act of a numbed conscience. He would not be the young David again, whose innocence sought the Lord’s prayerful presence, until he confessed. Confession meant—and always means—admitting truthfully the sin that separated him from God.

Here is the preacher’s sermon on salvation or repentance or revival or whatever topic he wishes. Here is the message of the Cross. You shall confess the truth and it will set you free!⁠1

You Taught Me Wisdom…In … Secret

The Lord taught Me Wisdom,” David testified, “in secret.” The secret place he spoke of, the heart physically hidden from literal sight, was an analogy of the soul or the seat of deep feelings and thoughts where what we do and say originates. These feelings and thoughts might be deeply buried under the debris of years of fun and amusement designed to cover over painful experiences. We may have been living a lie, an intentional neglect of what discipline once tried to drum into us, and now whatever we once heard or knew as wisdom is not wisdom anymore to us.

David was tortured by the memory of his crime against God in committing murder and adultery. God had to send Nathan, though, to entrap him and push him forward into reconsidering what he had done. How much time had gone by might be estimated by how long the joy of his salvation was not part of his experience. Kings go to war each Spring and David was in the habit of getting God’s counsel.⁠2 It might have been a while since this was true.⁠3 His Psalms are a diary of his prayer life which must have been on pause.

Yet, David’s heart was still a heart after God’s own heart. This had not changed, but his sin contradicted this truth and disrupted the relationship. Here is where David discovered something kind about the God he served: “In my guiltiness, You taught me, Lord, to be truthful to myself. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts [heart], And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.⁠4

C. H. Spurgeon interprets, “God is teaching him truth concerning his nature, which he had not before perceived.⁠5

If I may: God reads the heart,⁠6 not the outward perception of things. Truthfulness pleases Him; so, an honest prayer of repentance, a prayer for God’s mercy, waits on the breakthrough when all self-justification ceases. While we fault others on our knees, expect God to use the time—as Spurgeon correctly interpreted this verse—to “teach … [us] truth concerning …[our true] nature, which …[we] had not before perceived.⁠5 Blaming a spouse or a friend or a congregation or the world has no therapeutic value if we ultimately want God to restore our joy.

Faithfulness, Lord, you desire in the heart⁠7In the closed chamber of the heart.”⁠8

Who would have guessed that one benefit of true confession before God is a lesson in Truth!?


1 John 8:32
2 1 Samuel 23:2, 4; 30:8; 2 Samuel 2:1 David enquired of the LORD
3 Psalm 51:8-12 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
4 verse 6 הֵן־֭אֱמֶת חָפַ֣צְתָּ בַטֻּחֹ֑ות וּ֝בְסָתֻ֗ם חָכְמָ֥ה תֹודִיעֵֽנִי׃
cp. Job 38:36 מִי־֭שָׁת בַּטֻּחֹ֣ות חָכְמָ֑ה אֹ֤ו מִֽי־נָתַ֖ן לַשֶּׂ֣כְוִי בִינָֽה
NKJV Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart?
LXX τίς δὲ ἔδωκεν γυναιξὶν ὑφάσματος σοφίαν ἢ ποικιλτικὴν ἐπιστήμην. Who has given to women skill in weaving or knowledge of embroidery?
Vulgate: quis posuit in visceribus hominis sapientiam vel quis dedit gallo intellegentiam. Who hath put wisdom in the heart of man? or who gave the rooster understanding?
5 C. H. Spurgeon. p. 936
6 Hebrews 4:12 discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.; 1 Samuel 16:7 The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
7 cp BDB p. 377
8 BDB. p. 711 cp Psalm 25:5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
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I Did An Evil Thing!

The language of Scripture is full of passion and inspiration.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. [Thou art pure in Thy judging. YLT] Psalm 51:4

You are Right, Lord, I Did An Evil Thing!

This is the true definition of confession; it is agreeing with God! All self-justification, all rationalization, has ceased. When David confessed that he knew his transgressions, it wasn’t just admitting what he did—and he probably couldn’t say why—it was a confession of his wrong against God.

What I have done,” David admitted, “was evil.” The word evil has an emphasis on the consequence⁠1 of David’s unconscionable act.

The world might not agree. Cultural evolution is slowly eroding any bible-based foundation of morality discarding any definition of “sin”, redefining the nuclear family unit in terms of any and all social contracts, explaining away conviction as a self-inflicted guilt, and arguing against the reality of a God of mercy which makes everything else seem reasonable. Today’s world might contend that: this psalm is merely the unfortunate state of a man whose conscience misdirected him into thinking he needed to make amends.

But David knew God and knew God to be consistently wise, truthful, and merciful. In God’s eyes, in His judgment, what David did was evil! After a year went by (according to one scholar) and after Nathan cornered him, David, finally, agreed. The misery he felt may have helped drive him there.

So-In View of Which, On This Account

If God punishes him, David feels that, it is earned. He doesn’t appear, though, to be particularly anxious about this possibility.⁠2 Judgments is what judges make; so, God might intend at this point in relationship with David to make this a lesson in the painful consequence of doing evil.⁠3 (Thus the use of the word “so.”)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. [A man dare not turn his nose up at God!] A man reaps what he sows.⁠4

David emotionally exposes his own back to the lash because he knows he is in the wrong but he also knows the love of God.

God is in the Right

God is in the right whatever His judgment! …to quote Abraham, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?⁠5 ”God’s judgment is pure, clean. (“Beyond all controversy.”)⁠6 If I may say it: unlike us, God’s decisions, conclusions, evaluations, judgments, perspective—call it what you will—is never based on a bias toward us much less a hidden, self-seeking motive, as if greedy for power. God’s judgment is based on covenant and the one we are under now was written in the Savior’s blood on Calvary.


1 This is the word used by Samuel when Israel asked for a king in lieu God’s leadership, cp. 1 Samuel 12:19. The consequences of sin.
2 In a cursory review of the Hebrew terms that might suggest some form of punishment I have yet to read David’s thoughts on the subject.
3 But I might add quickly that David knows God to be merciful. Punishment seems reserved for the proud not the humble who confess. But we will let this point rest here for a while.
4 Galatians 6:7
5 Genesis 18:25
6 C. H. Spurgeon. p. 935
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