Are the Psalms messianic?

Do the Psalms tell us about Jesus? Are these verses about Christ?

Psalm 22 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? … 16 They have pierced my hands and feet.

Psalms 118 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

The New Testament writers thought so. So did the church fathers. Were they right? Or were they bending texts to fit their beliefs? What did David intend? Does authorial intent define the meaning? Or is meaning in the ear of the hearer, whatever the reader wants it to mean?

When the church fathers used the Psalms this way, the Jewish leaders were mortified. They pointed out that no one read the Psalms like this until after Jesus died, so the Christians were merely imposing their own meaning on Jewish literature.

Should we be seeing the Messiah in the Psalms? Everywhere? Nowhere? In a few cases? What do you think?

Continue reading “Are the Psalms messianic?”

How to read Psalms

This post is longer than normal. It walks you through how to process the Psalms, with Psalm 3 as the example.

Open Psalm 3.

How do you read Psalms? We love the first one: a fruitful tree by the stream. Psalm 2 is more confronting, but we like to read about God’s anointed Son. Then Psalm 3 is about facing enemies. What do you do with that?

If you don’t have enemies, perhaps you skip it and try to find something more joyful? Or perhaps there is someone who’s making your life difficult, so you read on … until you reach verse 7. Are you really supposed to pray, “God smack them in the face and smash their teeth in?”

If you ever end up in court for punching someone, please don’t offer as your defence, “The Bible told me to.”

There is a better way to read the Psalms. They aren’t about “me and God.” You won’t get far if you approach them with the attitude, “What’s in it for me?” You need to ask, “What has this meant for God’s people before me?”

Whose voice?

Who is the me in Psalm 3? No, it’s not you, the twenty-first century reader. Who poured out this graphic lament about the enemies arrayed against him? Any ideas?

Continue reading “How to read Psalms”

Time to rest

Taking it easy now Christmas is over? Catching up on some rest? Or is Boxing Day “shop ’til you drop?”

What is rest for you? Laughing with family after a meal? Time to yourself? Watching a movie? Savouring a good book? Playing golf? Walking on the beach? Falling asleep?

I’m not suggesting we observe the Sabbath. Legislated rest seems a bit like “Hurry up and relax!” The Ten Commandments were laws God gave Israel. Nowhere were the nations commanded to take Sabbath rest. But are we missing out? Continue reading “Time to rest”

Should Christians support or oppose Trump’s impeachment?

What should Christians make of Donald Trump’s impeachment?

  • Is Christianity Today right to condemn him as unfit for office, that he “should be removed … not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments”?
  • Is Franklin Graham right to keep supporting him, claiming “No President has done more for the Evangelical community”?

Do Christians have a moral responsibility to stand up for righteousness? Or should Christians stay out of politics? What’s our role?

Continue reading “Should Christians support or oppose Trump’s impeachment?”

500 posts

This is our 500th post. It’s a gift to you: an online resource to help you see life the way Jesus saw it — as the kingdom of God.

With the Scripture Index, you have a free commentary on Matthew 1-14 (144 posts). We’ve also covered Genesis 1-36 (71 posts) and Exodus 1-14 (35 posts), showing how to read the Old Testament as the kingdom story. We’re currently in Ephesians (20 posts), since the epistles spell out how to live as the kingdom of Christ Jesus our Lord.

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How credible is faith now?

Who do Aussies trust? The ABC asked us, and our answers are revealing:

  • We trust:  doctors/nurses (97%), scientists (93%), police (84%), judges (80%).
  • We mistrust:  celebrities (8%), politicians (19%), corporate executives (20%), religious leaders (29%).

Celebrities are fake, of course. Actors are somebody they’re not. When Jesus spoke of hypocrites, his word literally meant an actor, someone playing a role in a Greek play. He called the religious leaders actors. Aussies agree.

But if the church’s message is faith (trust), while our leaders are not credible (not to be trusted), will the church disintegrate? Will people vote with their feet? Continue reading “How credible is faith now?”

Mary’s Christmas message

Mary was overwhelmed. A torrent of thoughts and emotions. A flood of fears and hopes. Her life would never be the same. What would this mean?

She was giving birth to someone greater than Caesar. She was trusted to raise the child who would conquer the world. Nobody’s life would ever be the same.

She was still processing it months later when she left Nazareth to stay with Auntie Elizabeth. She was still processing it years later when her son grew up and left home. Her roller-coaster of emotions finally took shape — in the life of her son.

Years later, she had another visit: not an angel, but a researcher interviewing eye-witnesses for a biography. Her friends assured her she could trust Doctor Luke. So, she did. Her deepest thoughts and feelings made it into his book:

Continue reading “Mary’s Christmas message”