Today is day 14 in the Billy Graham Words of Wisdom Bible Reading Plan. I listened to Psalms 66-70 and Proverbs 14 on YouTube. There was a lot this time to write down and really reflect on. According to the Bible reading plan, reading Psalms will build your relationship with God and help you to understand God better. Reading Proverbs will give you better insight into human behavior and our relationships with friends, coworkers, and family.
These are the quotes that stood out to me in the readings today and just my own stream of consciousness thoughts on them.
Psalm 66 “Let not the rebellious exalt themselves.”
Ok, when I first thought on this passage, I quickly imagined the building of the Tower of Babel in the Old Testament. The people of what must have been ancient Mesopotamia wanted to be like God so they built this enormous tower into the sky to reach the heavens but God caused the tower to fall. It was known as the Tower of Babel and now today when someone speaks in a confusing manner, they are known as “babeling.” That is because, not only did the tower fall but he devised a way in which to separate the people from uniting using different languages, genders, etc.
A house divided will not stand. If you want to conquer, you must conquer from within by changing the mindset of the people to feel that they are separate and unique from each other. Some countries have a multitude of parties in their parliamentary elections. Others, have a multitude of self-identifier groups like 10 or 20 racial groups or 10 or 20 genders or 10 or 20 creed identifications, etc. etc.
In order to become a friend to your neighbor, you must see the likeness between you.
I’m not sure about this phrase here because I like to see the commonalities among “brothers and sisters” rather than focus on our differences. I think we are better together and as long as we don’t operate in a spirit of overthrow and rebellion, we can do great things together. We are stronger and better together but it is important to stay humble rather than give in to pride which leads to self-exaltation.
This admittedly is a hard thing to do and I’m not that great at it, myself.
The second thing that comes to mind from this passage that is a thorn of a bit in my own side just as St. Paul had his own thorn of contention, is the phrase, “honor thy mother and father.”
As teenagers, we seek to pull away from our parents that raised and protected us, in order to develop our own identities. I see this in my own son. We made burgers together on the grill and he wanted to take over and lead how the burgers would be made and I let him but, honestly, we both struggled at it cause Dad was taking a nap and we wanted to do this as a nice thing for Dad. In the end, the burgers were a bit sub-par and out of frustration, my son made some comments about my cooking abilities in a rather rebellious way.
This is natural and these tensions arise in parenting with teens but when a teen becomes too rebellious and self-exalting to the shame of the parents, that can cause concern and issues. I am guilty of this myself with my own mother and father and need this passage reminder to honor and respect them more.
I had a good childhood. But some of us grew up with really harsh and bad circumstances as a child and were not unfortunately protected or given loving instructions for life and had to figure things out on our own and become resourceful. This life lesson too is a blessing in disguise because it developed resilience in us and later on down the road, we can acknowledge finally the benefit of having endured this and how it made us stronger and wiser and faster and braver and willing to take risks for better gains. Some of the most amazing people out there came from the hardest childhoods.
Psalm 66 “For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.”
Silver is heated up and melted to see its grain and value and quality. Likewise, people must under go pressure to become a diamond from a lump of coal or to become like a beautiful silver or gold from the heat of intense fire such as various struggles of life (trauma, divorce, crime, drugs, alcohol, etc.)
Another phrase they often say in Christianity is that “he’s got you on the potter’s wheel.” Humans, which in the Book of Genesis derived from clay or mud, are then put on the wheel of life just like Conan the Barbarian was put on the wheel of pain in order to make them bigger and better and stronger and wiser. He molds us into something better through our adversity just as in Japanese culture, kintsugi, is the process of taking beautiful porcelain vases that broke and inlaying gold to connect the broken parts back together to make a more beautiful and expensive vase.
People that have been through intense suffering in life, tend to have the most amazing aura or vibe about them and they are usually very compassionate and empathetic from having gone through their own struggles and turned around to help younger others. I see a lot of these folks in social welfare type of jobs.
“Well, I’s seen a share of sadness,
and a couple shares of doubt,
but I suppose a seed’s got to be buried,
before it’ll start to sprout.” (anonymous)
Sometimes when we’re in the dark, we think we are alone and won’t make it. Just remember a plant needs the darkness, to be buried, in order to break through and become something better from the little seed.
Psalm 66 “We went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into the wealthy place.”
Ok, so naturally, first association in this passage is, of course, the Israelites that come out into the Promised Land. But it took them about 40 years of wandering around here and there and everywhere like they were in a family circus cartoon. And, even then, only the young ones really got to go into the Promised Land, the ones that didn’t forsake the commandments. All these old folks, what happened to them? Did they stay in the desert or wander back to Egypt? No one really knows, but it was the young ones, the fresh faces that got to go in.
You ever watch a movie where there’s a lot of conflict and drama and bad stuff but the parent keeps protecting the kids throughout the movie, like the movie The Quiet Place or maybe the sequel, and anyway, in the end…..the parent doesn’t really make it to the good place but they find a way to get the kids there. It’s kinda like the Dad in the movie Bird Box who doesn’t make it though he provided for the kids and the wife for a long time. That stuff is sad, man.
But anyway, parenting is like that. Sometimes we go through real fire like getting fired from a job and we still gotta be a parent and take care of the kids and figure out a new game plan. We spend our days like that guy in The Pursuit of Happiness, applying for jobs or working low paying prospects trying to show our worth and value, so we can move up in the world for our kids and we are running here and running there and never really stop running. But in the end, it is worth it, because either we or our kids down the road might step into that wealthy place.
See…sometimes, life ain’t about you. Sometimes, you think you’re the it actor in the play but in fact, you are just the mom or dad to the main protagonist. Sometimes, your kid got to see your struggle in life so that they can get something better and move up into the Promised Land themselves. So keep going.
Hannah raised Samuel.
Moses gave over authority to Joshua.
Ruth married Boaz and became the ancestor to Jesus.
Sarah raised Isaac and Hagar raised Ishmael.
Sometimes it ain’t about us, it’s about our kids and their futures.
Psalm 67 “May God cause his face to shine on us.”
This makes me think of God as the sun. If that’s the case, I’m like a sunflower always tracking the sun through the sky and getting my energy and life-force from it. I am like a plant that needs the sun for photosynthesis. Sunflowers grow abundantly in harvest regions of the world. They just grow there naturally and Native Americans associate them with crops and agriculture and abundant harvests.
In ancient mythology there are many stories of women like Clytie and Daphne that were turned into woodland items after a love affair. Clytie loved Helios, the Sun God, but he loved another due to the influence of Aphrodite and so she turned into a violet that followed the movement of the sun. Daphne, likewise was involved with a Sun God Apollo. She loved the woodlands and invoked her father, the river God, to turn her into a laurel tree to escape the chase of Apollo.
Psalm 67 “Blessed be the Lord who daily loadeth us with benefits.”
I’m not big about prayer at the dinner table admittedly but we do say out loud around the table before our meal, one thing that we enjoyed about our day and were grateful for. It’s a good reminder of big things and little things that brought us joy.
I’m grateful I wake up in the morning. A lot of people pass through the night so I am grateful for that. I’m glad for my health and family and friends and all the good things God set at my table and around me. It’s a good life. Life is good.
Psalm 67 “Scatter thou the people who delight in war.”
President Eisenhower was the Commander of Europe during World War II. He’s from my home state of Kansas. He hated war. He said he hated the futility of it. If you notice, through his tenure in office, there weren’t a lot of conflicts that the US joined into and it was considered the golden era the swingin’ 50s. This was a man that made his success and living through warfare and rose to a position of power and authority so that he could prevent other younger generations from experiencing the devastation and tragedy that he personally must have witnessed himself. I think the folks that are quick to sound the alarm for war, have never really been in it like what they say, chickenhawks. War is harsh and brutal.
Psalm 69 “I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my own crying.”
Speaking of war, one of the nasty effects of it is post traumatic stress disorder that affects both men and women and even children. This “sinking feeling” is depression and anxiety from the memories and the panic attacks associated with the feeling of loss of control and fear and the feeling of intense dread. PTSD is pretty awful for a human being to endure. Many do it alone or are isolated or thrown out of their homes to dwell on the streets and the PTSD can lead to greater mental health concerns down the road if not treated properly.
The best way to help someone with PTSD is unconditional love and acceptance. It’s hard. It takes a very long time but eventually little by little, the panic attacks go away and the person becomes stronger and stronger inside and can let go. They just need support and someone they can trust to stick by them in good times and certainly in these bad times.
Psalm 69 “For thy sake, I have born reproach. I am become a stranger unto my brethren and an alien unto my mother’s children……I have become a proverb to them……I was the song of drunkards.”
Oh wow, I can relate to this. This is painful.
When you decide to follow God or Jesus, people do this to you. When you decide to take up your own cross, to step out in faith, to spread ideas and teachings and beliefs you learned from the Bible, this will happen to you.
It is awful.
People just kinda stop calling or stop liking your posts on Facebook or sorta just distance themselves from you. You don’t hear from a relative that used to be friendly before. They just never call anymore or ask how you are doing.
They just distance.
And some, will even tear you down publically or in gossip by saying harsh things about you being a hypocrite or a liar or full of it. They attack your personal character cause they cannot attack your message. So you become lampooned. You become a joke. You become a song for the drunk people and a proverb or a wise lesson for others on what not to do.
You suddenly are the Ned Flanders of The Simpsons. Everybody makes fun of Ned. But he’s really not such a bad guy and Homer could certainly do worse with other neighbors.
Proverbs 14 “The wise woman builds her house but the foolish pulls it down with her own hands.”
Don’t pull your own house down. I know, I know. We got a lot of women out there saying, “Leave that man, he ain’t no good. He doesn’t respect you. He gaslights you, etc. etc.” But when you leave that man, you leave the empire you built. It ain’t about the man. It’s about the time and energy and effort you spent investing in your family’s empire.
Don’t pull your own house down. Go to couples counseling. Be slow to anger. Read books about how to make it work better. Work on yourself. Maybe even separate for a while.
Don’t listen to some of these ladies, y’all. Sometimes, they….I hate to say it….but some folks just want your empire to crumble so they can snatch up a part of it. It’s true. I said what I said and I meant it.
Don’t trust every advisor. Now, if he’s abusing you or your kids…..that’s an entirely different story. But use discernment and don’t be foolish, tearing down your own empire.
Proverbs 14 “He who is perverse in his ways despises the Lord.”
This is true. There was a time, I wasn’t so big at all on faith and had fallen away. I was doing stuff here and there that felt real good but was bad for my soul. The more I did those things, the less I wanted to hear about God. I was like Wormwood shying away from the light, slinking away into the dark corner. It was about shame. All of it was about shame.
Proverbs 14 “The prudent considers well his steps.”
I live near Franconia. It is where Robert Frost wrote the Road Not Taken.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Sometimes in life, we hit a crossroads. We can go left or we can go right. We spend a long time like Robert Frost did, looking down both roads wishing we could take both and wondering which would be the best for us to take.
But be careful at crossroads, for that is where we often are said to meet the devil as well or temptation. He waits at the crossroads of our life to lead us in the wrong direction or down the shortened path or to the one that goes over a cliff.
Be careful at the crossroads. Pay attention. If you meet a devil and you are certain he is one, take the path he advises against. That’s my two cents. Unless he’s clever enough to realize you would do the opposite of what he says and switches the cups like a Princess Bride switch-a-roo. Then you might be screwed unless you figure out that he switched the cups again and you’re one step ahead of his game.
Be smart. That devil is crafty.
Proverbs 14 “The poor man is hated even by his neighbors but the rich man has many friends.”
This is so true. The poor man loses friends while the rich man gains more. They are in love and obsessed with his wealth and prestige and fame. The poor man can share a great wisdom to the rich man. The rich man will steal it and make much more money off the idea. The poor man could say, “Hey, that’s my idea!” But no one cares and no one listens cause no one cares really about the poor man in comparison to the rich man they value much more. And it’s not even the rich man they value. It is the smoke and mirrors, the illusion of success, that they love and seek to attain for themselves by association with the rich man. The rich man lacks real friends, just sycophants that seek to be him.
This is sad for both parties honestly.
Proverbs 14 “In a multitude of people is a King’s honor, but in the lack of people is the downfall of the Prince.”
Oh wow. That is a good statement. Really good. If I was royalty, I would hang that on my wall next to my bed or something. So basically, it implies that a king’s honor only comes from the love of his subjects. If the people love him, he has honor. If the people turn from the King, he is subject to danger and downfall.
So a King must always be aware of this and play to the love of the masses.
Proverbs 14 “A King’s favor is toward his servants, but his wrath is towards those who cause him shame.”
Ah, another King statement. Ok, these are correlated. A King must be swiftly wrathful with a servant that causes him or her shame due to the above statement. If he loses face with the masses or with the people, he will lose honor.
These are tied together and pretty fascinating. Maybe if you are a King, write them down and put them together near your bed to remember how to stay in power for a long time.
It reminds me of that line in the movie The Gentleman when the kingpin drug lord says, “When a lion’s hungry, he eats.” I guess the way to survive, kingship only is to be aware of the masses and their wavering support and meanwhile being trusting towards your servants but also swiftly disciplinary or even brutal towards those that dare to toss your authority.
Hmm….I’d make lousy royalty…..though I understand it and I find it fascinating.
Anyway, that’s Psalms 66-70 and Proverbs 14. That was quite a lot to unpack and an interesting session. Thanks for reading and I look forward to any comments. Have a good day!