Friday, August 30, 2013

The Use of Psalm 8 in Hebrews 2

In Hebrews 2 the author quotes portions of Psalm 8? To what man does Psalm 8 historically refer? To whom does Psalm 8 refer prophetically? How does the author of Hebrews use this passage prophetically? What does the author mean that not all things are presently subjected to Jesus? When you think of your own life, what areas is it that Jesus suffered and “tasted death” for you? How should you respond?
            The author of Hebrews seemed to have a real affinity for the Old Testament especially the Psalter. In Chapter two verses six through eight he uses Psalm 8 to make a point he has been developing ever since the first chapter. The original historical setting was referring to mankind in general.  The psalm refers prophetically to the Lord Jesus Christ. The author uses the verses where it speaks of one being made a little lower than the angels. According to George Guthrie, “the word brachy (lit. little) in this phrase can be understood in two ways: a small measure of distance or substance (“just a little lower”), or a small amount of time (“for a little while”).[1] There seems to be some discontinuity in the commentary community on which of these is actually the best use. Guthrie is of the camp that “the latter meaning seems to fit the context better since the author is not interested in the degree to which the Son was of a lower status than the angels.”[2] There are others however that are concerned with the status of God in his condescension on the earth. Man himself was not in a place of  authority as the angels have at this time so when Christ took on flesh he in turn became a little lower than the angels; at least in terms of his human anatomy.
            While we are on earth at this moment Christ is king of heaven, while allowing the dark one to rule the earth. In due time he will return to subdue Satan. According to Richard Phillips, “’The world to come’ is the time when Christ’s lordship will be consummated over all, when all the promises and prophecies of blessing are fulfilled in his final reign.”[3] The typical Sunday School answer is in all areas. However, the best response to this prompting would be in the areas of my pride and ego, especially in all things related to Scripture. I can be very snoobish sometimes when it comes to doctrine and theology. I am just so happy to have a better understanding of the doctrines of grace and so many other things I don’t understand how people cannot see them. I have to remind myself that the Gospel doesn’t just operate in one part of life around certain people it should be a beacon of hope to all peoples; I just have to learn to get out of Christ way and walk in humility.

[1] George H.  Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary-Hebrews.(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998)98.
[2] Ibid.,98.                                                           
[3] Richard D. Phillips, Hebrews: Reformed Expository Commentary. (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2006)57.

Can You Neglect Your Salvation?

What does the author mean in 2:3 regarding “neglecting” salvation? Does the author include himself in that warning? Do you think that Christians can “neglect” salvation? Give reasons for your answer. How would you encourage a person who was afraid that they were “neglecting” his salvation? What would you say to help him avoid this situation?

                It would seem that in the authors’ time there were many believers who were falling away from the faith. While the word neglecting may seem strange until you take a closer look at the actual Greek word behind it.  The word paorreo describes a ship at sail that has drifted off course, or a ship in harbor that has slipped its moorings.[1] It also has the connotation of a ring slipping off of a finger or an object going in the wrong direction.[2]
            I would say yes that he includes himself in the warning because when you read it he uses the personal pronoun of we twice in giving this exhortation. George Gutherie believes that the word translated “ignore” in the NIV is an appropriate translation; because the original word there means to neglect through apathy or not care enough about something.[3] It sounds as though the pastor was not only preaching to his congregation, but was preaching to himself as he was writing.
            Do I think Christians can neglect salvation? That is a loaded question if I have ever heard one. I do not feel that a true Christian can neglect their salvation, I do feel that they can negelect the means in which they grow in sanctification. Richard Phillips describes what begins to happen, “without giving heed to the spiritual resources God provides, your heart will revert to greed, pride, avarice, sensuality and malice—all those characteristics that define our natural state in sin and lead to destruction.”[4] We are told in the New Testament that there will come a time when some we called brother will fall away, and not to be mad because they were never really one of us. Through the neglect or ignorance of the means of growth all believers will become stunted and stale.
I would first ask the person what do they mean when they say that they are neglecting their salvation? I say that because if they think that they have control of their salvation or misunderstand what it really is; then this is the time to help lovingly guide them back to the “dock” and “anchor” them is sound theology. Explain that there are two main areas to our salvation our justification which is passive and our sanctification which is active, and by not reading the Bible and praying then you are neglecting that aspect of your salvation. After clarifying this, I would then offer to help pray with and for them and offer some recommendations on things to help them grow in appreciation of the Bible so they would want to read it more often.

[1] Richard D. Phillips, Hebrews: Reformed Expository Commentary. (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2006)47.
[2]George H.  Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary-Hebrews.(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998)84.
[3] Ibid., 85.
[4] Phillips., Hebrews., 48.


          It is my hope that the title of this essay alone will get you asking some questions. Questions like, “What is a lament?” and “Should we pray like that?” In the following paragraphs it is my hope to explain what a lament is and why it is biblically acceptable to pray them. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a lament is defined this way, “verb intransitive 15th century : to mourn aloud : wail verb transitive: to express sorrow, mourning, or regret for often demonstratively :mourn; to regret strongly synonym see deplore; 2lament noun 1591 1: a crying out in grief.”[1]
            So in today’s vernacular we would say that “to lament is to fuss with God for our sorrow.” For modern day followers of YWAH it seems almost sacrilegious to think about going to God in prayer and blaming him for anything bad that happens in our lives; but that is exactly what these Psalmists did. The psalms are the best place to learn how to pray, and Logan Jones elaborates on that thought. Jones says, “The psalms teach us how to stand faithfully before God, asking and even demanding response, action and answers. The psalms teach us to bring our hopes, praise and joy to God. They also teach us to bring our pain, fear and sorrow.”[2]
            Something that is very intriguing is while most commentators agree that psalms of lament take up a large portion of the Psalter; it has been hard to find several that agree on which psalms actually deserve to be categorized as lament. Then, after figuring out which psalms belong in this genre there are two broader categories the lament of the people and that of an individual.[3] After reading the material for this week and learning just these basic tenants of a lament psalm it showed me how broadly I have been brushing over things with God. Jones in his article proposes that, “At its core, the lament is witness to a profound faith that takes God seriously and takes the covenantal relationship with God seriously.”[4] The only thing that arises with this train of thought is for a young believer it could become a discouragement or an even greater encouragement depending on the atmosphere of their theological heritage.
            There is a deepening of relationship that takes place when you confront God. As Morpehus said in The Matrix “I’ll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” This is exactly what praying the psalms of lament do they allow us to go deeper in our relationship with Jesus. Through the lament the psalmist invites each of us deeper into the life of faith.[5] One of the most touching psalms to me was the third psalm, because as Craig Broyles explains, “what is most remarkable about this psalm is the security (esp. vv. 3-6), and assurance (esp. v. 7b) believers can enjoy in the midst of dire threat.”[6]
            Of all the psalms that were covered this week (3, 6-7, 13, 26,44, 79-80) number thirteen has to be one that stands out to me the greatest. The author feels like God has left him alone and is unwilling to provide him with any kind of solace against his problems especially his thoughts. One of the hardest things to accept about this psalm was mentioned by Broyles in reference to the statement, “will you forget me forever.” Broyles says, “As hiding the face” implies a deliberate act, so will you forget me forever may imply the same—in other words, these problems may not have merely slipped God’s mind, God maybe deliberately ignoring them. That is a hard thing to grasp, God ignoring one of his children’s problems. But Isaiah tells us his thoughts are not our thoughts, and his ways are not our ways. (Is 55:9)
            In the end we learn to take everything to God because he is ultimately in control and wants to hear from us. By us speaking to him in frank, yet reverent manner there is far more good that will come of it than bad. Build your trust in our almighty God and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

[1] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary., Eleventh ed. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).
[2] Logan C. Jones, "The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow." Journal Of Pastoral Care & Counseling 61, no. 1-2 (March 1, 2007): 47-58. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed August 30, 2013)47.

[3] C. Hassell Bullock, Encountering the Book of Psalms. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic , 2001)136.
[4] Jones, Lament, 49.
[5] Ibid., 49.
[6] Craig C. Broyles, Understanding the Bible Commentay Series- Psalms. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999)51.