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Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog. I am honored to have you visit. I hope you'll find my articles a blessing. I welcome your input and especially comments and questions.

I write as a Christian from Jerusalem, Israel about Biblical subjects.

I am particularly interested in the subjects of children, families, women's issues, corporal punishment, science and nature as these subjects relate to the Holy Scriptures.

For more information, see my website: www.biblechild.com

With every good wish - Samuel Martin

Friday, February 14, 2014

A little bit of openmindedness when it comes to the Bible can lead to a lot of new understanding

A little bit of open-mindedness when it comes to the Bible can lead to a lot of new understanding

Those of us who love the Bible are often very superstitious about it. We don't like change. We like God's Word to be solid, sure, unchanging, but is this the right attitude to have.

Whatever our attitudes toward the Bible are, the Bible itself tells us in no uncertain terms we are supposed to have a healthy, growth oriented approach to it. Yes, it is the same yesterday, today and forever, but we are always changing and growing and looking at things in life differently. We need to have this kind of orientation to our approach of looking at Scripture with a healthy sense of "growing in grace and in knowledge." Note a couple of texts which point this out so clearly. 

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (II Peter 3:18 ESV)

"so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." (Colossians 1:10 ESV).

"But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day." (Proverbs 4:18).(1)

Some practical advice on how to embrace this type of orientation towards Biblical learning

I guess one could enter now into a long dissertation about all of the ways one could change their attitudes towards Biblical knowledge and how there are many ways in which we can do some things a little bit differently and come to more accurate understandings of things, but I want to keep this post fairly light and just give one example.

This example does not require you to:

1. Do major study
2. Learn any new languages
3. Buy a new Bible version
4. Obtain any Bible helps or other resources
5. Do any comparative study of words or the like

No, it just requires you to look a little bit differently at what is already there in front of you. 

Let us look at an example of this from the book of Psalms. 

Have a healthy suspicion of English Bible Versions and because of that keep your mind open 

One thing that is important to remember about the Bible that we have today in English is that these versions, many of which are masterpieces of scholarship and reflect very well God's Word, still are productions of human beings and because of that, we need to keep our minds open to learning new things about that good old Book. But all along, let's remember one thing. Behind all of the human influence on the Bible, there is the Spirit of God in action. Be open to that Spirit and be open to looking at things differently. Here is an example of looking at things a little bit differently. 

The Book of Psalms and understanding it better

One of my favorite books in the entire Bible is the book of Psalms. It is a book which represents God's orientation to music in a way. 

The thing is, though, when we look at this book, there are layers on this masterpiece that have been placed there by mankind, which often are not helpful. One example of this is in how all of these Psalms are numbered, titled and organized. 

Here, though, we are just going to focus on one point: The titles to the Psalms.

Now this may seem a bit esoteric, but I think it illustrates a point of how we, by just adjusting our thinking ever so slightly according to the information that is already in front of us, we can have a new view of something which, in fact, has been there all along. It is just that our understanding of it was not in line with God's design.

The Book of Psalms, the titles and understanding one simple point to orient ourselves correctly

Many of us have read the book of Psalms and marveled at their beauty and majesty. Yes, they are magnificent. But there is more to them than meets the eye. There is so much to learn from this book because it reflects something of the mind of God which we want to come closer to. 

Have you ever noticed how some of the Psalms have these titles in front of them? Look at any Bible Version and you will notice this. For example, look at Psalm 45, it says something like the following at the beginning:

" To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil, A song of loves."

Now, this may seem insignificant and has little impact on the meaning of what we are reading here? Here we could be right and we could be wrong. If we just read over this, which is a part of God's Word, we may not see what God wants us to see here that is His design for His music book.

The thing is, when God designs His universe, His creation, His children or His Scripture, He does not need to check with us to see if we agree with how He designs things. No, it is up to us to orient ourselves towards how God designs, creates, thinks and does things. If we have this attitude always being open to God's Ways, we might find that God is more open to showing us how He thinks more and does things.

Now, getting back to this unimportant thing, let's take a look at another section of Scripture which has a writing style which is exactly like what we are here reading in the book of Psalms. It is found in the book of Habakkuk and I am going to here quote all of Habakkuk Three. Check out the design and note in particular the bolded texts.

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.
O Lord, I have heard the report of you,
and your work, O Lord, do I fear.
In the midst of the years revive it;
in the midst of the years make it known;
in wrath remember mercy.
God came from Teman,
and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah
His splendor covered the heavens,
and the earth was full of his praise.
His brightness was like the light;
rays flashed from his hand;
and there he veiled his power.
Before him went pestilence,
and plague followed at his heels.
He stood and measured the earth;
he looked and shook the nations;
then the eternal mountains were scattered;
the everlasting hills sank low.
His were the everlasting ways.
I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction;
the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.
Was your wrath against the rivers, O Lord?
Was your anger against the rivers,
or your indignation against the sea,
when you rode on your horses,
on your chariot of salvation?
You stripped the sheath from your bow,
calling for many arrows. Selah
You split the earth with rivers.
The mountains saw you and writhed;
the raging waters swept on;
the deep gave forth its voice;
it lifted its hands on high.
The sun and moon stood still in their place
at the light of your arrows as they sped,
at the flash of your glittering spear.
You marched through the earth in fury;
you threshed the nations in anger.
You went out for the salvation of your people,
for the salvation of your anointed.
You crushed the head of the house of the wicked,
laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah
You pierced with his own arrows the heads of his warriors,
who came like a whirlwind to scatter me,
rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret.
You trampled the sea with your horses,
the surging of mighty waters.
I hear, and my body trembles;
my lips quiver at the sound;
rottenness enters into my bones;
my legs tremble beneath me.
Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble
to come upon people who invade us.
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

Now, what we see here is how God designs His Psalmodic music go back to Psalm 45 for a moment in any version. I am going to quote here using the ESV:
To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah; a love song.
My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe. (Psalm 45:1, ESV)

With joy and gladness they are led along
as they enter the palace of the king.
16 In place of your fathers shall be your sons;
you will make them princes in all the earth.
17 I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations;
therefore nations will praise you forever and ever. (Psalm 45:15-17 ESV)

When you compare how the Psalm 45 compares to Habakkuk 3, note the differences. What you find is when English translators position the Psalms, we find that they are adding parts to the titles of one Psalm, which are in fact designed to be positioned at the end of the previous Psalm!

When we go to the ESV at the top of Psalm 46, we read the following:

To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1, ESV)

The thing is, though, when one looks at the context and information of Psalm 45, we find that the phrase in the title for Psalm 46 where is says:

"To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth."

This section, in fact, is linked, according to the model in Habakkuk Three, to the end of Psalm 45! Psalm 46 should begin with the title of just:

A Song. 

For more information on all of this and its importance, see Dr. Bullinger's Companion Bible, Appendices 64-66.


Now, this exercise in dealing with the book of Psalms might seem a bit academic, but what I am asking you to do is not change one thing about your opinion or orientation to the book of Psalms, but just to be willing to look at the information in a different way, which, in fact, could be closer to the way God actually designed it before English translators got ahold of the Bible. 

There is nothing wrong with English translators, but as I said before, we need to be growing in grace and in knowledge" and we need a healthy attitude to looking at things from that good old Book just a little differently. 

Many of you who read my blog or who have read my book on the corporal punishment of children and what the Bible says about it note that I am asking you to take a different view to the use of the term "child" in particular in the book of Proverbs, for example. I am not asking you to change your view towards God or His Word, but just to look at it in a different way realizing that it is possible that looking at it differently may get us closer to an accurate understanding.

I pray that is the result we all reach and are seeking in our approach to understand God and His Word. 

(1) I am grateful to my late father for his important booklet "Progressive Revelation" (Foundation for Biblical Research, Pasaden:CA, 1974) On the first page, my dad made reference to these three texts as follows:

"Let us first understand the intent of the phrase. By "progressive" we do not mean "moden" or "liberal." We are using it in the sense of something being passed successively from one point of a series to the
next. Or, even more definitely, "to progress step-by-step towards improvement until a desired higher plane of development is reached."

The principle is well attested in several biblical verses.

"But grow in grace, and in the knowlege of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (Il Peter 3:18).

"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful mn every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10).

"The path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18). 

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