Today is Day 18 in the journey to better understand Psalms and Proverbs in the Bible. I started this by receiving a brief email from the Billy Graham Foundation about a 31 day challenge to read 4 or 5 Psalms a day and 1 Proverbs. According to the email, reading Psalms will help you to better understand God. Reading Proverbs will help you to better understand your fellow human beings.
These are a few passages from Psalms 86-90 and Proverbs 18. I just add my stream of consciousness thoughts on them as I go along.
Psalm 86 “In the day of my trouble, I will call upon thee: for thou will answer me.”
Some folks compare God to a lighthouse. Seafarers are out in the dark and in the storms of life. The lighthouse, ever faithful, shines a light in the distance to warn the seafarers of dangers such as rocks ahead or to give them hope of reaching their destination of land soon. The steadfast lighthouse lights up every night, no matter what, and those that seek the lighthouse will be comforted in the darkness.
Psalm 86 “Neither are there any works like unto thy works.”
The works of God in our environment are pretty spectacular if you stop to look. Take a moment tonight to consider the sky full of stars. During the day, look to the blue sky and clouds. Watch the sunrise or the sunset. Consider the little brook or the flowing waters of Niagara. Travel to the Grand Canyon and see the great cavernous of space and distance. Climb the mountains, journey across the seas, take in all the amazing cities all over the world. Think for a moment tonight while you look at the stars of all the people on this planet that are looking up at that same moment from places all over the world from Mongolia to the Congo to Switzerland, to the Arctic.
This place is pretty awe-inspiring.
Psalm 86 “For great is thy mercy towards me; and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.”
Life is not all rainbows and sunshine. Sometimes it literally is the lowest hell. We need the dips and valleys to appreciate the summits. To understand gratitude better, one must experience pain and suffering. This is life. It is still good, despite its drudgeries.
Psalm 86 “Save the son of thy handmaid.”
Hagar and her son, Ishmael, were wandering the desert alone. They had run out of food and water and were rejected and scorned by lover and friends. Imagine a child, left to despair in the desert to wander in the heat and suffering. The angel came and saved Ishmael at his lowest point and a fountain of water sprung up in an unlikely place. Ishmael went on to be the father of a great religion. Sometimes our destinies are far stronger than our current struggles. We got to go through it to get to it. A hero’s journey always contains a dark night of the soul and tests and tribulations along the way will challenge him internally. The wise man knows this and endures. The fool caves to broken spirit and despairs or dies.
Psalm 88 “I am counted with them that go down into the pit.”
You may be counted down and out but get up and keep going. True strength of character is revealed in adversity. Success is not about how easy the journey was. Success is about how many challenges you faced and kept going.
Psalm 88 “Shall the dead arise and praise thee?”
Ezekiel prophesied to the bones in the desert. He spoke word into their dryness and the bones joined together, stood up, and sinew and muscle and skin joined to the bones. The breath of God blew into the former dry bones and before Ezekiel stood a vast army.
Prophets do this. They speak life through the Holy Spirit into the deadened spirits of their listeners.
Psalm 88 “Lover and friend hast thou put far from me.”
One of the hardest ordeals to face is losing a loved one. This can be for many reasons in life. When we operate in a spirit of openness to the plan of God and to acceptance of an abundance mindset, we are open to the possibility of more entering our life.
Abraham wanted Isaac to marry a woman from his own country, so he sent a servant to his homeland. The servant traveled at quite a length of time. He came across a woman named Rebekah at the well and her kindness to the servant won him over when she fed and watered his camels.
Blessings are everywhere around us. We just need to be open to receiving them.
Psalm 89 “I have made a covenant with mine chosen.”
To be a chosen one, is to have an unspoken covenant from birth with God. It is the promise of his protection, love, and guidance through our lives.
Psalm 89 “I have exalted one chosen out of the people.”
David was working in the field when they came to find a good and faithful, loyal servant to fight Goliath and lead the people. He was slight of frame compared to others but he had a strong faithful heart. He was busy tending to the sheep like a good shepherd or leader would do when they found him.
There are many Goliaths in our current lives. They could be the Goliaths of fear or addiction or illness or cruelty and abuse. For a slingshot to work, it must be drawn back a far distance or swung about at a fast and hard speed to endure. This drawing back or drawing down or swinging fast in disorientation is what is needed for someone or something to go a very far distance to conquer a Goliath. The stronger the mess you endured, the stronger your message to help others. Do we follow the thoughts and ideas of the pompous man that endured no hardship in life? Or do we follow the actions and deeds of someone that endured much and learned to carry on bravely and with confidence?
Psalm 90 “They are like grass.”
Walt Whitman published his work, Leaves of Grass, a long time ago comparing the lives of men to blades of grass that grow perenially but are eventually cut down. Life is short. Love hard. Play hard. Enjoy what time you have while you can.
Psalm 90 “We fly away.”
Come fly away, come float, let’s fly away” (Frank Sinatra)
Everyone eventually flies away, young and old. Wendy asks Peter on the eve of her flight to Neverland, “But what if I fall?” To which Peter replies, “But, oh my darling, what if you fly?”
A bird flies out of the nest not by looking downward but forward and above to the new destination.
Psalm 90 “Teach us to number our days.”
Take a moment each morning after you wake up to appreciate that you did wake up from the night. Many passed through that same night. Have gratitude for your day. Seize the day. Carpe Diem.
Proverbs 18 “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire.”
I met a relative at my house. We had dinner and talked about things regarding spirituality and such. He asked if I was a good Christian. I thought that I was, having read scripture on my own and watched religious stuff on TV And online. He said, “Do you participate in fellowship?”
I said no. I said I preferred to keep my own company as I did not enjoy church sometimes for the company kept at the church could be comparable in my view sometimes to the Pharisees of Jesus’ time that preferred the appearance of religious superiority to the actual practice of kindness.
My relative said then that I needed to be in fellowship with others and join a Church. He said it was not about my past experiences but my willingness to serve others and help others and that is what defines a good Christian by their works and deeds.
I’ve thought about that conversation many times since then. He’s right.
A cup of murky water only becomes clean water when more water is added into it. That’s how you fix it. Not by throwing it out and starting all over but by being willing to add more to it.
Proverbs 18 “The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.”
As a writer, your gift is to feed the reader with good tidbits of information and carefully crafted words are a source of entertainment and intrigue to the receiver. I was watching an old video of Charles Bukowski where he elaborated on this point. He said many writers are lazy and non-expressive. He said writing must pack a punch. Every word must be full of emotion and emphasis to really engage the reader into your story experience and immerse them into a world of imagination.
Charles Baudelaire was a really gifted writer. Every story was a fascinating expression of words. A great writer is gifted like this. Rudyard Kipling lived in my home state of Vermont when he wrote The Jungle Book. His words of Mowgli and Baloo and Shere Khan are some of the best. One of my favorite poems is by Rudyard Kipling:
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”
Proverbs 18 “A man’s gifts make room for him and bring him before great men.”
Aesop was a slave but he was a marvelous storyteller full of wisdom. His gifts and natural abilities brought him much recognition and prestige among leaders and, in the end, he was granted his freedom.
Use your gifts, no matter your lot in life, and you will be heavily rewarded in time.
Vincent Van Gogh could have been counted out based on his mental challenges and struggles. So could have Edgar Allen Poe. But their abilities to rises above and create are what ultimately defined their legendary destinies.
Proverbs 18 “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city.”
To lay siege to a castle takes a lot of commitment and effort. Likewise, to prove our worth with those that find past fault with us, is a long and arduous climb. A great man is never recognized in their hometown.
Proverbs 18 “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.”
To make friends, one must first be a friend.
Proverbs 18 “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Sometimes our closest supporters are not blood. Our band of brothers and sisters can come from our surroundings in enduring great hardships like battles.
“This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile.”
(King Henry V, Act IV, Scene III, Shakespearean play on the Battle of Agincourt between France and England)
That’s what I got for today. Thanks for reading and have a good night!