John T. Willis

Tuesday, May 06, 2014


One of the most difficult challenges in human life is to REALLY be CONTENT. Here we will discuss this issue a little bit, but after "talking," it is VERY DIFFERENT to LIVE what we TALK or SAY.

I. Jesus emphasized the importance of being content.
   a. God has showered numerous gifts and talents on everyone. But apparently we are never satisfied. We want MORE and MORE.
   b. When the crowds came to John the Baptist, the soldiers asked him, "What should we do?" John replied: "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and BE SATISFIED WITH YOUR WAGES." Luke 3:14. But, is it not true that we feel that we need more and more money. We are NEVER satisfied.
   c. Jesus taught this same message in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:25-34:
    "Therefore I tell you, DO NOT WORRY about your life, what you will eat or what your will drink,
      or about your body, what you will wear.
      Is not LIFE MORE THAN FOOD, and the body more than clothing?
      Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather
                        into barns,
      and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
      Are you not of more value than they?
      And can any of you BY WORRYING add a single hour to the span
                         of your life?
      And why do you WORRY about clothing?
      Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.
      They neither toil nor spin,
       yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like
                         one of these.
       But if God so clothes the grass of the field,
       which is alive today but tomorrow is thrown into the over,
       will he not much more clothe you--you of little faith?
       Therefore DO NOT WORRY, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or
                         'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
       For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things;
      and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
       But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
       and all these things will be given to you as well.
       So DO NOT WORRY about tomorrow,
       for tomorrow will bring WORRIES of its own.
       Today's trouble is ENOUGH for today."
    d. All of our "concerns" are troubles which we import into our hearts and lives. The reality is: God GIVES us everything. Let us enjoy, and BE CONTENT.

II. Paul emphasizes the importance of BEING CONTENT. Here are only two texts which underline this truth.
     a. Philippians 4:11-13: "I have LEARNED TO BE CONTENT WITH WHATEVER I HAVE.
                                            I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty.
                                            IN ANY AND ALL CIRCUMSTANCES I HAVE LEARNED
                                            THE SECRET of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty
                                                              and of being in need.
                                          I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH HIM WHO STRENGTHENS ME."
    b. 1 Timothy 6:6-10: "There is great gain in godliness COMBINED WITH CONTENTMENT.
                                         For we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it,
                                         but if we have food and clothing, we will be CONTENT with these.
                                         But those who WANT TO BE RICH fall into temptation
                                         and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people
                                                          into ruin and destruction.
                                         For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil,
                                         and in their EAGERNESS to be rich some have wandered away from the
                                                          faith and pierced themselves with many pains."

III. The author of Hebrews emphasize the same truth about being content.
      a. In Hebrews 13, the writer gives a long list of admonitions for all of God's people These include such things as: "Let mutual love continue;" "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers;" "remember those who are in prison;" etc.
      b. Hebrews 13:5-6 says: "Keep your lives free from the LOVE OF MONEY, and BE CONTENT with what your have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you or forsake you.' So we can say with CONFIDENCE,
              'The Lord is my helper;
                    I will not be afraid.
               What can anyone do to me?'"

Share YOUR reversals and fears and shortcomings and insights and experiences with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Sunday, May 04, 2014

A Poet Beseeches Yahweh to Defend Him from His Enemies--Psalm 7

The superscription of Psalm 7 reads: "A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjaminite." Scholars conjecture over the meaning of Shiggaion, but the meaning is uncertain. The setting of the superscription is unknown. Most scholars agree that the superscriptions over almost all the psalms are later additions. One should pay careful attention to the psalm itself. The composer of Psalm 7 is clearly confronted by evil enemies. He prays fervently that Yahweh will deliver him from these enemies. Psalm 7 falls into FIVE parts, indicated by new addresses to Yahweh or change of emphasis.

I. The composer casts himself on Yahweh to defend him from his enemies. 7:1-2.
    a. The poet addresses Yahweh as "O Lord my God" in 7:1 and 7:3, then "O Lord" in 7:6, 8, then "O righteous God" in 7:9. Several other times, he refers to Yahweh in the third person. The poet declares that in Yahweh he takes REFUGE. Then he beseeches Yahweh to "save" and "deliver" him from his pursuers. 7:1.
    b. Then the poet persuasively tells Yahweh that if Yahweh does not save and deliver him, his enemies will tear him apart like a "lion" and drag him away with no rescue. What a vivid picture of the heinous attempts of the poet's enemies. See the same figure in Psalm 22:13. 7:2.

II. The composer propounds a self-imprecation if he has mistreated his enemies. 7:3-5.
     a. It is always possible that a person is responsible for conflict rather than his enemy. So, the poet in Psalm 7 want to make sure that his enemies are at fault, and not himself. So he openly declares, "IF I have done this, IF there is wrong in my hands, IF I have repaid my ally with harm or plundered my foe without cause"--THEN. Returning evil for good is a serious sin, and the psalmist does not want to be guilty of this at all. 7:3-4.
     b. The poet says IF I have committed such sins, THEN let my enemy pursue and overtake me, trample my life to the ground, and lay my soul in the dust. This is a powerful self-imprecation, indicating that the psalmist is very serious and feels that he is not guilty. 7:5.

III. The Poet beseeches Yahweh to appear and correctly JUDGE between the two groups in this court situation. 7:6-8.
      a. "Rise up, O Lord" is a very common appeal meaning "Swing into action," assuming that right now Yahweh is not responding. "Awake, O my God," is a similar call or summons. The psalmist's enemies are in FURY against the psalmist, so the psalmist beseeches Yahweh to rise up in his ANGER. He declare that Yahweh has appointed a judgment. It is totally up to Yahweh to assess and make the decision about this conflict. 7:6.
      b. The poet beseeches Yahweh to "assemble" the peoples and "take his seat on high" in heaven to give his judgmental decision. Yahweh alone "judges" the peoples. 7:7-8a.
      c. Then the psalmist turns to himself personally, beseeching Yahweh: "Judge ME according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me." The poet knows his heart, and he is sure that Yahweh knows his heart and life. 7:8b-c.

IV. The Poet sharply distinguishes between the righteous and the wicked. 7:9-11.
       a. First the poet beseeches Yahweh to let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous, making a sharp distinction between the righteous and the wicked. Yahweh "tests" the minds and the hearts, he is a "righteous" God in making such distinctions. 7:9.
        b. Then the poet carefully describes Yahweh's nature: Yahweh is "my shield" or protection (see Psalm 3:3). He saves the upright in HEART. He is a "righteous" God, as he has already addressed him in the second person in 7:9. Yahweh has indignation every day. 7:10-11.

V. The Poet concludes by declaring that Yahweh will punish those who do not repent. 7:12-17.
     a. The poet now declares: "IF ONE DOES NOT REPENT," then: God will whet his sword; he has bent and strung his bow; he has prepared his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts," all prepared to punish the wicked. 7:12-13.
     b. Then the poet describes the wicked: they conceive evil, are pregnant with mischief, and bring forth lies. Here are three normal steps in sin: sin always begins in the heart, which is like a woman conceiving a child in the womb; then the woman become pregnant as sin grows; and finally sin gives birth in various types of external sins like adultery, drunkenness, murder, and the like. 7:14.
     c. Sinful people spiritually and in life make a pit, dig it out, and fall into the hold they have made. Their mischief returns on their own heads, and on they own heads violence descends. Sin is ironic. Whatever a person sows shall also reap, as Galatians 6:7 clearly teaches. History has shown consistently that when people sin against godly people, the sinners will reap what they intended to do against the righteous. 7:15-16.
     d. The psalmist concludes by bursting out in thanksgiving and praise because Yahweh is righteous and carries out righteous decisions and practices. The poet resolves to give thanks to Yahweh the thanksgiving due to his righteousness, and sing praise to the name of Yahweh, the Most High. "The name of Yahweh" is a circumlocution for Yahweh himself, not a proper name. 7:17.

Share YOUR insights and problems and reservations and ideas and experiences with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis