Words of Wisdom: Psalms 21-25, Proverbs 5

I started reading the Billy Graham Words of Wisdom Bible Reading Plan. Each day I am supposed to read a few Psalms and Proverbs. Today is Psalms 21-25 and Proverbs 5. Reading Psalms is supposed to help your spiritual relationship while reading Proverbs is supposed to help your relationships with other humans.

These are the little nuggets of good info I got from the readings today and just my stream of consciousness thoughts on them:

Psalm 21 “Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger.”

The author is talking about people being held accountable for bad actions. But the words “fiery oven” make me think of being a little kid with my little playtime record player with my children’s stories’ records and specifically looking at the images of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednago.

This was my least favorite record to listen to as a little kid in the 80s. First off, the cartoon drawings were a little weird and the story seemed crazy. I mean who would willingly just walk into a fiery furnace?

But, as an adult, I find this story totally relatable.

Adults do absolutely crazy, death-defying stuff all the time…….from the technician climbing the windmill to fix something, to the lion tamer, to the school bus driver venturing out in sub-zero temps and thick snow and ice to deliver kids safely to school. We just go with the flow and board jet airplanes and all sorts of craziness and just hope and trust that we will be alright.

And we usually are, oddly enough.

You ever try to clear brush in a field by doing a burn? That can get a little crazy if you are not careful. The other day, we were clearing brush around the pond and watching it burn. The wind picked up a bit. I went in to stomp some out around the pine tree so it wouldn’t catch and pretty soon the wind kinda circled the fire round and I was with the fire board and water hopping and stomping and hopping and stomping (it probably looked ridiculous) trying to put things out so the pine tree would be ok. I just figured I’d be ok but at one point I picked up the fire board by accident with my finger and it burnt my finger and ouch, that hurt. I ended up with a little blister but otherwise, everything was fine. I don’t know if it is luck or something else, but that coulda got way worse and I thank God it didn’t.

If a little burn can cause a little blister to hurt that much, I can’t imagine willingly walking into a fiery oven.

Psalm 22 “Our fathers trusted in thee. They trusted and thou didst deliver them.”

When I was a little kid I coulda lost my Dad. He was saved by a medical student rather than a doctor. The med student was examining him, learning the ropes to be a doctor, and said that maybe they should x-ray something. Turns out the x-ray showed something very serious that had to be cut out immediately in emergency surgery.

My Dad trusted and he was ok. He was maybe 35 at the time and had 5 kids and a wife depending on him.

Psalm 22 “Bulls of Bashan………and horns of unicorns”

Ok, wait….whaaat? There are unicorns mentioned in the Bible?? I did not know that. So were these like unicorns of the movie Legend with Tom Cruise or were they unicorns of the sea like those cute little Narwhals?

And what the heck is a “bull of bashan”? I had to look this one up. Apparently, according to Google, Bashan was this:

“Bashan was the northernmost of the three ancient divisions of eastern Palestine, and in the Old Testament it was proverbial for its rich pastures and thick forests. In New Testament times, Bashan numbered as one of the great granaries of the Roman Empire.”

Northerners….they always cause trouble, just kidding, sorta…

I guess Bashan was a really wealthy region. So I guess what the author is saying is that he was surround by Bulls of Bashan or really wealthy people that he had made super raging mad. That would be troublesome a bit.

Psalm 23 “Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

Of course, I would be totally wrong if I did not include this line from Psalm 23, probably the best line in Psalms hands down. I have thought about this line before, how the author mentions a valley as if they are in a low place in life. The author doesn’t say death but rather the “shadow of death”. The “shadow” to me is the dread of death, the awareness of danger or the potential for death. A shadow is generally a darkness that shows forward of an object, like a precursor to an event. “I will fear no evil” reminds me of the poem written by John Donne, Death Be Not Proud.

This poem was written in 1609 during a time period when there was all sorts of disease and such. It still resonates today:

“Death, be not proud, though some have called thee”Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,

And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well

And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.”

Psalm 23 “thou preparest a table for me in the presence of mine enemies.”

I think God or the fates or Universe or whatever actually delight in doing this trick. How many times have we seen someone that was totally down and out for the count, tapped out, suddenly make a comeback? And how many times is that actually a leveling up over what they were even prior to the downfall?

God, they may have counted me out….but you God, you lifted me up and set a table for me of abundance so that they may scowl and scorn with envy. I bet you are laughing from Heaven with a bowl of popcorn in hand.

This is what God does for the broken-hearted and the scorned and downcast if they keep going through the trials and tribulations.

How many times, you see a drug addict become a drug addiction counselor or a former inmate return to help in the future with prison reform or probations or Bible study and such? And they generally get rewarded and blessed for their efforts.

Psalm 24 “lift up your heads”

This is just a little line in the Psalm but I thought about it. You ever see a super shy person? They keep their eyes down. They keep their head to the ground. What about a person that has been hurt or is discouraged or feels defeated? They keep their eyes downcast and their head hung low.

I was watching some Jordan Peterson video years ago and he referred to humans like lobsters and how the lobsters in a lobster group (no idea what this is called by the way…. a herd of lobsters..no…a gaggle of lobsters….no…a flock of lobsters, ok, a flock of lobsters), they kinda have a pecking order. The lobster that is the best is the one that stands tall and upright and lifts shoulders back and head up.

Likewise with humans, if we want to manifest good relationships with other humans who will not put us low on the totem pole or in the pecking order, we need to walk with face lifted up, shoulders back, and stand tall.

Psalm 25 “Let me not be ashamed.”

Oh God, this is the worst feeling in the world. Shame. Literally is worse than death. No, really! Humans were polled on what they were scared of most. Public speaking was #1. Death was #2.

Sometimes when we feel we got no friends and we are publicly humiliated by bullies a lot, God is our closest friend or at least our willful belief that he is around. And, often times, I think he might be. At least, I hope he is and that hope kinda helps.

One night I dreamed a dream. I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord.

When the last scene of my life shot before me I looked back at the footprints in the sand. There was only one set of footprints. I realized that this was at the lowest and saddest times of my life. This always bothered me and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma.

“Lord, You told me when I decided to follow You, You would walk and talk with me all the way. But I’m aware that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I just don’t understand why, when I need You most, You leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”


Psalm 25 “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions according to thy mercy but remember thou me for goodness sake, O Lord.”

St. Augustine was literally the most appalling guy you would ever, ever figure that would later become a saint. It was like Sam Kinison becoming a saint. He was notoriously wild in his early days, given to all sorts of debauchery and ribaldry. Then there was Paul, a persecutor of people of faith, who later went on to become the Apostle that probably spread the Bible more than anyone else. In the Bible, we have all sorts of reformed characters too like Rahab, the prostitute who hid the 3 Hebrew spies before the fall of the Walls of Jericho.

In any story, I like these characters best of all. They have redemption stories.

The thing that amazes me about the Christmas story is that it is a redemption story too. Jesus wasn’t born in a golden palace like a King should be. He was born in a really cruddy awful manger where no one wanted him and his parents were treated awfully. But he intended it that way so that his story could be relatable to everyone.

Sometimes the best stories come from the very worst beginnings.

Ok, I read Proverbs 5 but it was pretty much about telling the reader to avoid strange women for various reasons that encounters outside marriage and commitment can lead to all sorts of bad stuff. It kinda seemed obvious and self-explanatory to me so I kinda skipped that one for today. Just watch Johnny Depp’s character in the movie Libertine and you’ll get the picture. Pretty gross ending there and I’d prefer to keep my nose.

Ok, so next Psalms after this are Psalms 26-30 and Proverbs 6. Thanks for reading with me and I look forward to any comments. Thanks.


Author: J. Speer

I like to write. I have 5 books currently on Amazon, mostly fiction. I try to write positive and uplifting children's stories, expressive poetry for women, and interesting articles about personal growth, alternative medicine, and spirituality. My stories are often about diverse people but with human connection in mind through inner perspective. I love my characters especially the ones from my first book, Searching for Fire. I moved recently to Vermont. I live in the North Country region near Lake Willoughby, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. My heart will always be with Kansas but I love travel and meeting new people with diverse perspectives on life. I have found Vermonters to have many admirable qualities like stoicism and a love and stewardship of nature. My hobbies are writing, gardening, outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing, and hiking. I am an amateur herbalist. Many years ago, an alternative medicine doctor cured me of a respiratory illness by teaching me about vitamins and for that, I owe her a debt of gratitude. I recently bought a Jeep Wrangler that fits my personality and love for adventure. Associated with the military in my younger years, I have lived in Israel, Germany, and Virginia as well - all of which I loved in different ways. I thoroughly believe in the military spouse phrase, "bloom where you are planted" and endeavor to carry a positive optimism wherever I roam. Most days are good but admittedly I get down sometimes. I am prone to sadness or severe cynicism at times, so I turn to music as my consolation and source of expression or inspiration. My favorite songs currently are "How Deep is Your Love" by the Beegees, "La Vie en Rose", "A Million Dreams" or maybe Karen Carpenter singing "Close to You" or Elton John singing "Your Song." I also like "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us" by Starship or "I'll Stand by You" by The Pretenders. "Faithfully" by Journey always reminds me of rollerskating with friends in the 1980s. My favorite quotes are from the Velveteen Rabbit, Steve Jobs, and this one..."To the caterpillar it was the end of the world, but to the butterfly it was merely a beautiful beginning." Or there is the quote from Peter Pan teaching Wendy..."What if I fall? But, oh my darling, what if you fly?" I also believe in being a pearl - graceful on the outside but full of grit and gratitude on the inside. My favorite women of the Bible are Ruth, Hannah, and Hagar. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Cheers, friend.

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