Psalm 58

Hello, my friend.

We are in the middle of a whole series of Psalms which reflect David’s peril and anxiety, surrounded by circumstances all of which seem hopeless. And our Psalm 58 for today is one of the most difficult to discover any real blessing.  But, as we read through these imprecatory Psalms, we are reminded of 2 Timothy 3:16, which reminds us that all Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable for teaching.  So let’s jump in and dig.  There’s treasure here!

David immediately touches on a sensitive question.  Do I speak justly?  Do I judge uprightly among people?  Do I devise dishonesty in my dealing with others, with the government, with my employers?   David speaks with indignation against rulers who are dishonest, who lie while in high office, who are deceitful, as they twist the truth to their own benefit.  I was amazed to read just today that Clinton, in one deposition for the Paula Jones case, expressed memory-failure 267 times, saying I don’t remember 71 times, I don’t know 62 times, I’m not sure, I have no idea, I don’t recall, I’m not positive, etc.  It is this kind of furtive dishonesty that caused David to recoil with horror.  And one is startled by the level of judgment that David wanted God to strike these lying leaders with.  He doesn’t check his emotions here. He pronounces his verdict on these unjust leaders, using bold, vivid imagery.

Have you ever felt this level of indignation, of anger, of condemnation?  Fortunately the New Testament gives us an entirely different perspective.  We are to leave the judgment with God.  “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,” Hebrews 10:30.  And even in his wild imagery, David concludes by saying, “Surely the righteous are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.”  This is the final tribunal.  Galatians 6:7 is a strong answer:  “Don’t be deceived; God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit from the spirit will reap abundant life.  Let’s not be weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up”.  What a challenge; what an encouragement.  It’s always too soon to quit, whatever the difficulties.

“Thank you, Lord, for this strong reminder that we can trust all our anguish, our disappointments, even all our bitterness into your hands, knowing that you are a God of justice, wisdom and mercy, and you will work things out.  Thank you for each one in whatever special need.  You are Lord!” 

Thank you, partner.  I’m thankful for your fellowship.  Cheerio!

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000.

Psalm 58


Our culture can be confusing with its various gospels, theologies, movements and spiritualities. How do we begin to distinguish between the social justice movement, prosperity gospel, liberation theology, feminist theology, gay theology, Jewish spirituality, Hindu spirituality, Islamic spirituality, Buddhist spirituality, animist spirituality, the spirituality of poverty, the spirituality of social transformation and a variety of other philosophical, mystical and social movements, perspectives and experiences?

Syncretistic pluralism enters the church through exposure to these different forms of spirituality in our increasingly diverse, post-Christian culture. Some actually advocate the evolution of spirituality to something more plural, open and culturally diverse. Why not tie it to psychology, yoga, Wicca or eastern meditation? It’s progressive, edgy and chic! We are in danger of taking on board almost anything that falls under the label of “spirituality”. How serious is this problem?

According to a Gallup poll, most Americans (86%) believe in a personal God, which at face value sounds like a healthy statistic. However, individualism is so deeply ingrained in the American psyche that when asked to define “spirituality,” almost a third of Americans polled define it without reference to God or a higher authority: “a calmness in my life,” “something you really put your heart into,” or “living the life you feel is pleasing.” Many practice a “do-it-yourself” faith that takes pieces from various traditions to construct their own patchwork faith. For example, a fifth of people who describe themselves as “born again” also say they believe in reincarnation!

Perhaps this is one reason why a profound sense of unreality afflicts many churches. False teaching and heresy can intrude in subtle ways. We speak of ‘knowing’, ‘meeting with’ and ‘worshiping’ the living God, but it can feel superficial and inauthentic. Even the Lord’s Supper can be corrupted: Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:17 “I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.” Given high rates of Biblical illiteracy in most churches, people do not mature: sin goes unrecognized and uncontested, and relationships can be selfish and thoughtless. Could Paul’s admonition be true of our churches today, where the word ‘spiritual’ has degenerated into something so amorphous and pervasive that one can make it can mean whatever one wants it to mean?

Clearly, not all “spirituality” is spiritual.

These guidelines, based on an article by theologian and New Testament scholar D.A. Carson, can help us differentiate between authentic and inauthentic forms of spirituality.

  1. The priority of the gospel. The gospel must be rightly taught and the sacraments rightly administered. Spirituality must be thought of in connection with the gospel. The gospel is of first importance, as it is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). It is by faith in God’s Son that we know the Father. It is by the cross and resurrection that we who were alienated from God have been reconciled to our Maker, Judge and Redeemer. Without the Good News of the gospel, people are left with nothing but religious legalism and false assurances. Bear in mind that the gospel is not just for non-Christians – it’s for Christians too: it doesn’t just ignite the Christian life, it is the fuel that keeps Christians going and growing every day.
  2. The gospel must not be eclipsed. The Spirit works outward from the center. Although it is important to be concerned with issues like abortion, worship styles, church government, counseling techniques, sociological issues and marriage seminars, if these are detached from the core of Biblical theology, then the periphery is in danger of displacing the core. The gospel should not be simply assumed. It must not be concealed. It should be continually proclaimed. True spirituality must be clearly anchored in the objective gospel. Our direction is always deeper into the gospel, not beyond, apart from, or aside from it.
  3. Personal knowledge of God. Christianity is not just a creed, a system of thought, a culture or a worldview. As we see in Acts chapter 2 and in authentic revivals throughout history, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin (John 16) and regenerates people individually and corporately. The Holy Spirit lives in regenerated believers, leads them (Romans 8:9, 14) and produces the fruit of the Spirit. Only God gives life to natural men and women who otherwise would not understand and embrace the things of God.
  4. The necessity of Scripture. Our understanding of what is spiritual must be brought to the test of Scripture. God’s Word is paramount: it helps us live according to God’s revealed will, and keeps us free from wrong doctrine and conduct. Scripture keeps us united and pure.  “Sanctify them by the truth,” Jesus prayed, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). There will never be much sanctification apart from the Word of Truth. Scripture places such a heavy emphasis on understanding, absorbing, meditating on, proclaiming, memorizing, reading and hearing the Word of God, that we ignore it at our peril.
  5. Life change. Life-transforming knowledge of God lies at the focus of true spirituality, and this has gospel and moral implications. Those who are truly spiritual live by the Spirit (Gal 5:16), put to death the “acts of sinful nature” and produce the fruit of the Spirit. Moreover, the Spirit enables and empowers believers to testify about Jesus (John 15:26-27; Acts 4:8) and long for His return: “Come Lord Jesus” (Rev 22). True spirituality is an all-of-life transformation of every aspect of human existence, personal and corporate, in the knowledge that God’s regenerated people live as His people, in His presence, for His glory.

Lord Jesus, in the eternal gospel you pour out your love, you free us by your grace, and you invite us into your transforming story of redemption. Thank you for being the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). You make all things new (Rev 21:5): you have saved us, you are saving us and one day you will completely save us. What Good News! Following you is the greatest privilege and the purest delight imaginable. Help us learn from you, encourage one another, finish the race, and complete the task of testifying to the wonder and the beauty of the gospel of your grace (Acts 20:24). Amen.

Written by Warwick Alcock, Director of Strategic Operations, Village Schools of the Bible (First posted July 26, 2019)


Carson, D.A. The Gagging of God. Christianity Confronts Pluralism. Zondervan, 2011.

Gallup, G. Americans’ Spiritual Searches Turn Inward. Gallup, February 11, 2003.

Grudem, W. Bible Doctrine: Essential teachings of the Christian faith. Zondervan, 1999.


Psalm 57

Hello, my friend.    These are busy days, and for some, these are also stressful days, with new problems occurring again and again.  Whatever the situation, it is so important from time to time to listen to that word we read just the other day in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”  He is our refuge and strength, as Psalm 46:1 reminds us, and David, in today’s PSALM 57 says, “In you my soul takes refuge, I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”

No matter how dark the cloud, there is always sunshine behind it.  It is, in fact, the existence of the sun that makes the cloud significant.  One must just be patient and steadfast and absolutely resting in the fact that God is there, our refuge in times of need.  It is interesting, as I Samuel 22 tells us, that David wrote this when he was hiding from Saul deep in a cave.  Saul, in fact had later come into the cave to sleep and David had quietly slipped up during the night and cut off a corner Saul’s robe, as evidence that he could have killed the king but God restrained him.  And David remembered, as he was hiding from this evil king, that God was a greater refuge.

When I am inclined to be spiteful, or get vengeance, or speak evil about someone who has done me wrong, then finding refuge in the Lord, will change my whole attitude.  In fact, I will be able to sing with David, as he does from verses 7 to 11.  He uses the phrase “Be exalted, O Lord, above the nations… above the heavens” in vss 5 and 11.  And what does this mean?  Simply that my love for the Lord, my thoughts of His presence and my commitment to His will, will be higher than all other concerns and difficulties.  And David shouts, glorifying God, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.  I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the people.  For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.  Let your glory be over all the earth.”   When I truly say that, then I will see to it that God’s glory is especially over all my own world, my own, unique busy world, wherever and whatever I may be doing.  When His presence is around me, then the glory of the Son will enable me to be thankful whatever the clouds of difficulty there may be!

I know these are easy words to say, especially to some of you whom I know so well and who are undergoing such severe testings.  But there is indeed power in praise, and this Psalm is a great resource for simply exalting the Lord over all of our lives.

“Thank you, Lord Jesus, for Psalms such as these, which provoke our thinking, which bring strength in difficulties, and which encourage us to release our otherwise self-centered cares into your love.  Bless my friend who is alongside and everyone whom we know this day in joy or sadness, in need or great celebration. Thank you, Lord.” 

And thank you, my friend, for being along.  Cheerio!

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000.

Psalm 57

Psalm 56

Hello, my friend. Welcome to this blog. Thank you all for praying for us during these busy, sometimes pressured times, when energy seems low and inspiration seems diminished. Ever felt like that?

Well, David certainly did.  And here again in this PSALM 56 he begins his familiar expression of fear, even of deep anxiety. There is, at times, a tone almost of desperation in what he says, and we may have known moments like this.  And sometimes the pressure seems relentless, akin to what David says, twice in vs. 2 and 2, “all day long they press their attack, my slanderers pursue me all day long.”

He was probably speaking of people, but there are many other kinds of pressures that seem relentless in their persistence.  But then, after a pause, he says so strongly, vs. 4, “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid of what a mortal man can do to me”, and again in vs. 10, “In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?”  These are thoughts, phrases, even verses which one should underline and have for easy reference, when life becomes so difficult. 

And there is this remarkable little verse 8, where David says, and here I am reading in the King James Version, “Thou tellest my wandering: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”  Isn’t that something?  To know that God takes every tear as a precious evidence of my needs and keeps them in his bottle.  The child of God never suffers alone, for we have taken Christ’s yoke, we are learning of Him, and He is giving us peace (Matt.11:28)  And to whom is this great promise directed by the Lord?  It is to “all you who are weary and burdened”.  And he promises there in vs. 28, “I will give you rest.”    The NIV says every tear is listed on God’s scroll, in his record.  What a comfort to David, whose back was against the wall, as we read at the beginning of this Psalm, when the Philistines had seized him in Gath.   If it were me, writing down such a record would be the last thing I would do when my very life was hanging in the balance.  Not so with this sweet singer of Israel, he discovered such blessing in writing down his despair, his laments, his worries, for in so doing he could meaningfully reflect on the wonder of God’s love.

And he closes with vs. 13, a little word of praise and intention, “I am under vows to you, O God.”  His commitment to the Lord was strong and forever.  “You have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”  This, my friend, is the result of praising the Word of the living God.  

“Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful reminder of your goodness, in the midst of badness, your peace in the midst of pressure, your love in the midst of a world of evil.  Help us all, Lord, just to lean on you, in the moment of greatest need.  Thank you for my friend who is alongside, even as we pray for some in very urgent need.” 

Thank you, my partner.  We press on, together.  Cheerio!

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000.

Psalm 56

Pre-Ascension Appearances and Ministry of the Risen Jesus

Picture by Gin on Unsplash

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26).

The Resurrection was the greatest miracle in all history: Jesus Christ was alive! Over the 40-day period after his resurrection, He appeared to various groups of disciples, proving beyond doubt that He had been raised from the dead by the power of God. Because Jesus rose from the dead with an immortal, physical body, every Christian united with Him has the guarantee of his own bodily resurrection (Philippians 3:21). Here are examples from Scripture of Jesus’s post-Resurrection appearances and ministry.

1. Jesus first appeared to women, including Mary Magdalene, on the Sunday three days after His crucifixion (John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9-10; Matthew 28:9-10). After initially mistaking Jesus for a gardner, Mary Magdalene told the other disciples the good news that Jesus was alive!

2.  Jesus appeared to two men on the Emmaus road (Mark 16: 12-13; Luke 24:13-32).  About four or five hours after Jesus’ Sunday resurrection, He appeared to two men traveling on the road to Emmaus.  Jesus joined in their conversation, and explained to them that the Scriptures were about Himself. 

3.  Jesus appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34).  When the Emmaus road men came back to Jerusalem on Resurrection Sunday evening, the disciples shared with them the news that Jesus had appeared to Peter earlier that day.  

4.  Jesus appeared to ten disciples, excluding Thomas  (Luke 24:37-49; John 20:19-24).  Also on Sunday evening, Jesus appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem, who were initially terrified, thinking He was a ghost.  He demonstrated that he was clearly not a disembodied spirit, showing his hands and feet, inviting them to touch Him, and eating a piece of fish in front of them. 

5.  Jesus appeared to eleven disciples including Thomas (Mark 16:14; John 20:24-29). Eight days later, Jesus appeared to the disciples including doubting Thomas. He invited Thomas to touch the wounds in his hands and side.  Thomas believed and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

6.  Jesus appeared to seven of His disciples on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-25).  Jesus appeared to disciples beside the Sea of Tiberias (a.k.a. the Sea of Galilee) after they had unsuccessfully fished all night.  Jesus told them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat and they caught 153 fish. After eating breakfast together, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, and concluded with “Follow Me,” and “Feed My sheep”.

7. Jesus appeared in Galilee to commission His disciples (Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 16:15-18).  A mountain on Galilee is where the risen Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

8.  Jesus appeared to over 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). Paul attested that Jesus  was seen not only by Peter, the twelve disciples, James and the apostles, but also by over 500 people at one time.

9.  Jesus appeared at the Ascension (Acts 1:1-11; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-51).  Jesus blessed His apostles at Bethany on the Mount of Olives where they watched him ascend to heaven.  

10.  Jesus appeared to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:8; Acts 9:1-19; 18:9-10; 22:6-10; 23:11; 26:12-18).  Jesus appeared to Paul during Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus; in a vision in Corinth; in a trance while praying in the temple in Jerusalem; and Jesus appeared to Paul while Paul was under arrest after a riot in Jerusalem.


We learn from Jesus that the resurrection is not an event, it is a Person. Eternal life is not an abstract idea, it is a personal relationship. Victory over death is not a future expectation, it’s a present reality. Jesus does more than give life; He is life, and confers eternal life on those who believe in Him. 

Let’s share the Good News!


Lord Jesus, your victory over death shows so clearly that you are the long-time promised and much longed for Christ, the Messiah, the fulfillment of all the covenant promises God has made. Knowing everything about you to be true, loosen our grip on earthly treasures and deepen our adoration of you. Thank you for being our Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep and is now caring for us, at the right hand of the Father, with persistent tenderness. What joy, what hope this brings us today! In you we have life eternal and peace that passes all understanding; and so it is with grateful hearts that we worship you. Amen.

Written by Warwick Alcock, Village Schools of the Bible


The Nelson Study Bible. Nelson, 1997.

Smith, S. Everyday Prayers. Baker, 2011.

Pre-Ascension Appearances and Ministry of the Risen Jesus

Psalm 55

Hello, my friend.    I’ve been pondering today’s PSALM 55, and have been wondering what would we consider the most important things in life.  Some would say financial security, others fulfillment in ones career, and others may say that there is nothing more important than belonging to some group.  But I remember one of my students in South Africa, a Jewish student named Ernie Sax, who commented during one such discussion, “The most important thing is to have a truly loyal friend.”  The other students in the class, also prospective physical education teachers, laughed and said, “Hey, Ernie, we’re all your friends.”  And he said, thoughtfully, “Hey, I’m glad I am in this class with you guys, but we’re all just acquaintances.  I think if a guy goes through life and finds three true friends, he is rich.”  And they were silenced, and agreed.

There is a great passage in the Apocryphal Book, Ecclesiasticus, which goes like this, “A faithful friend is a true shelter.  Whoever finds one has found a rare treasure.  A faithful friend is something beyond price, there is no measuring his worth.  A faithful friend is the elixir of life, and those who fear the Lord will find one.  Whoever fears the Lord makes true friends, for as a man is, so is his friend.”  And in the very heart of our Psalm for today, we read, vs. 12, “If an enemy were insulting me I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him.  But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.”

And one thinks of that poignant moment, when Judas approached Christ with a group of men with drawn swords, the eve of the crucifixion.  Judas kisses him, and Christ responds with a very intimate word, ‘haitare’ which means ‘beloved.’ Judas, for a few pieces of silver, betrayed the Lord, his dearest friend.  Have you ever felt the sting of this kind of betrayal, there is nothing more grievous.  The Psalmist experienced it, and there are many who have also been stunned by the unbelievable betrayal of someone whom they loved and trusted.  And what is the answer?

Well, David reminds us of a wonderful resource in this time of heart-ache, in vs. 22, “Cast (or fling) your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”  Or as the Message translation says, “Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders–he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you.  He’ll never let good people topple into ruin.”  The hymn writer put it this way, “The Lord’s our rock, in Him we hide, a shelter in the time of storm.  Secure whatever ill betide, a shelter in the time of storm.  O, Jesus is a rock in a weary land, a weary land, a weary land;  O Jesus is a rock in a weary land, a shelter in the time of storm.”  He is enough.

“Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the joy of your refuge, the peace of your presence, the wonder of your love.  We trust you, we love you, we thank you.  Bless my friend who is alongside and especially those in urgent need. We wait on you, Lord Jesus.” 

Thank you, friend, for being alongside so faithfully.  I praise God for you.  Cheerio!

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000.

Psalm 55

Psalm 54

Hello, my friend.   These are busy days in all our lives, and one gives special thanks to the Lord for health to enjoy all one experiences.  I hope all is going well with you, and even in the midst of difficulties you are sensing God’s presence. I was touched this morning to read an article by Pastor Carl Taylor in which he quoted the following written by Charles Spurgeon, the great English Baptist preacher of the last century:

It may be that there are saints who are always at their best and are happy enough to never lose the light of their Father’s countenance.  I’m not sure there are such persons.  For those believers with whom I have been most intimate have had a varied experience and those whom I have known who have boasted of their constant perfectness have not been the most reliable of individuals.  I hope there is a spiritual region attainable where there are no clouds to hide the sun of our soul.  But I cannot speak with positiveness, for I have never traversed that happy land. Every year of my life has had a winter, as well as a summer, and every day, its night.  I have hitherto seen clear shinings and heavy rains, and felt warm breezes and fierce winds. Speaking for many of my brethren, I confess that though the substance be in us, as in the teal tree and the oak, yet we do lose our leaves and the sap within us does not flow with equal vigor at all seasons.  We have our downs, as well as our ups, our valleys, as well as our hills.  We are not always rejoicing.  We are sometimes in heaviness through many trials.  Alas, we are grieved to confess that our fellowship with the Well-Beloved Lord is not always that of a rapturous delight; but we have at times to seek him and cry, “O that I knew where I might find him.’”

This is a long but significant statement, especially as we have seen the frequent turmoil and anguish of David, the Psalmist.   As in our PSALM 54, for today, he begins with the cry, “Save me, O God…hear my prayer, O God, listen to the words of my mouth.  Strangers are attacking me, ruthless men seek my life, men without regard for God.”  But in your Bibles you find, after that vs.3, the little Hebrew word, Selah, which an old Hebrew scholar told me means, “Wow, think about it.”

And David does think about what he had said, and immediately in vs. 4 he says, “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.”  And there in the final verse 7, he says, “God has delivered me from all my troubles….”  So I just send out this sincere word of encouragement to you, if you find yourself in these mood swings.  God is our refuge and strength.  He will see you through.

“Thank you, Lord, for this time of careful, prayerful thinking and this word of encouragement.  Help us to patiently cling, Lord, when the winds blow strongly. Bless my dear friend who has joined in, in whatever situation each one may know.  We love you, Lord.” 

And I thank God for you, my co-worker.   Cheerio!

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000.

Psalm 54

Meet our Summer Teachers: Ryan Habbena

Tell us a little bit about yourself

Originally from Willmar MN, I have been in the Twin Cities with my wife, Jenny, since 1996.  We have 4 children (2 girls and 2 boys, ranging from 6-20 years old).   I have been in pastoral ministry for over 20 years and also currently oversee 2 ministries dedicated to Biblical teaching and education. 

How long have you been with Village Schools of the Bible?

I am coming into my tenth year with Village Schools of the Bible.  It has been a rich blessing to see the impact of God’s word in the lives of so many.  And it’s been great for my own discipleship as well.  Fresh treasures are unearthed every time one digs into the word of the King.

What are some of your key passions in ministry and teaching?

Obviously, the central passion is to know the living Christ.  Having our Biblical theology rooted in the realities of history and geography is a key to knowing the King – for He is the God of time and space, of history and geography!   One of the handful of watershed moments in my faith was when I first went to the land of Israel in 2009.  This was the first of 7 trips to the promised land over the last decade.  Those who have taken any of my classes know how much experiencing the culture, geography, and history of the promised land motivates and informs much of my teaching and focus.   The Lord has chosen a people, a land, and city, and it is so exciting, to not only see Biblical history in this light, but also watch it continue to unfold before us, as we are, indeed, living salvation history right now. 

Tell us a little about your summer class, “Handling the Sword of the Spirit”?

The word of God is called the “sword of the Spirit” in Ephesians 6:17. Furthermore we are called to “correctly handle” the word in 2 Timothy 2:15.  The truth is this:  there are right ways and wrong ways to read and interpret the Bible.   In this class, I want to survey the tried-and-true principles of proper Biblical interpretation.   We will certainly be looking at “maxims” and “principles” in theory, but these principles will be seen and demonstrated with certain Biblical texts that well-highlight how they work in practice.  The goal is to equip the class with the framework and tools become good interpreters and expositors of God’s inerrant word.  

Meet our Summer Teachers: Ryan Habbena

Psalm 53

Hello, my friend.   Our PSALM 53 for today begins with a strong statement, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”  This word for fool in the Hebrew is ‘nabal’, which literally means a stupid, wicked person.  The Greek word in the New Testament is ‘moria’, which means absurd, foolish.  Paul uses it rather sarcastically in I Cor.4:10, when he says, “We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.  We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ.  We are weak, but you are strong. You are honored, we are dishonored.  Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.”  In other words, he is really describing the condition of a fool. 

And we find this word ‘fool’ used several times in the Psalms.  Psalm 14:1 is identical to our verse 1 in today’s chapter.  Psalm 49:10, which we have just recently looked at, says, “All can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others.”  And Psalm 92:6 says, “The senseless man does not know; fools do not understand.”    Indeed, to be thrilled with seeing the wonder of a mountain range, or to be gripped by the glory of a sunset, or to enjoy the bursting forth of buds and flowers in spring-time and say, “There is no God” is the conclusion of a fool.

And David startles us by stating, in vs. 2, “God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.”  Oh, lots of people go to church on Sunday and would be offended if one asked if they were a Christian or not, but they never seriously seek God.  They fulfill an evangelically religious routine, but the mark of a true Christian is one who seeks God, not only in His Word but in daily life, to seek, to know, to love and to share the Lord.  And without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, none of us ever could do this.  Why?  Because, as vs. 3 says, “Everyone has turned away, there is no one who does good, not even one.” So this is a great Psalm for self-examination.  We easily call other people fools, but are we in fact showing consistent evidence of being a child of God by earnestly seeking Him.  It is important to pause, review, and react.

“Thank you, Lord, for this short but strong chapter.  Oh, we see so much foolishness around us, such absurdity, on TV, on newsstands, in the world around us.  Help us be like lights shining in a dark place.  We may be considered fools for you, Lord, but better that than foolishly wasting all you have given us.  Bless my friend, who is alongside, and those this hour in urgent need.  We lovingly pray for them.” 

Thank you, my friend, for your fellowship.  I thank God for you.  Cheerio.

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000.

Psalm 53

Psalm 52

Hello, my friend.  As you have read through Psalm 52, you find again it is kind of dirge followed by a hymn of praise.  I think the contrasts can be summarized in two words “uprooted from the land of the living”,  vs. 5, and “rooted like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God”, vs. 8.  And at the end of the journey, this makes all the difference.

In the first section, vss.1-5, David is referring especially to a man named Doeg the Edomite, who had revealed himself as a traitor.  You can read the story in I Samuel 21 and 22.  Doeg was not only a traitor but as a friend of King Saul killed 85 priests of the Lord, even as the King had accused David unfairly of betrayal.  Here in vs.1, David describes disloyalty as characterizing a man who is boastful of his evil, deceitful, loving evil rather than good, falsehoods rather than speaking the truth. And the end of such a person is to have lived a fruitless life for self and sin.

But David shifts the whole focus in vs. 7, and says the righteous will see and fear that such a man as Doeg could have dared defy the living God.  And then he says, so lovingly, “I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever.  I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good.  I will praise you in the presence of your saints.”  I love this picture of an olive tree, deeply rooted, flourishing with fruit for the nourishment of the needy.  And what encouragement and blessing this last phrase of vs. 9 brings.  “I will praise you in the presence of your saints.”

Oh, how we need each other.  So often we are inclined to hide our loneliness, our needs, our bewilderment, feeling it would be a sign of weakness to share it with other saints.  But isolation, alienation and aloneness result in further weakness. A single log burning in a fireplace will soon die out.  But a log alongside several others will burn brightly, fulfilling its purpose there.  And the believer living in close fellowship with other believers will be stronger and give others strength as well.

“Thank you, Lord, for the huge privilege of being counted among the saints, unworthy though we are.  How I thank you for the each one who has joined along this way, in prayer and encouragement.  What a privilege to be together in the Body, with you as our Head, our Shepherd, our Owner.  Bless my friend who has linked in, and especially those in serious medical and surgical need.  Thank you, Lord, that you can provide.” 

And thank you, partner, for being along.  Cheerio!

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000.

Psalm 52