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Today’s Reading

Devotional

The First Psalm is sometimes designated a wisdom psalm. In large part this designation springs from the fact that it offers two ways, and only two ways — the way of the righteous (Ps.1:1-3) and the way of the wicked (1:4-5), with a final summarizing contrast (1:6).

The first three verses, describing the righteous person, fall naturally into three steps. In verse 1, the righteous person is described negatively, in verse 2 positively, and in verse 3 metaphorically. The negative description in verse 1 establishes what the “blessed” man is not like. He does not “walk in the counsel of the wicked”; he does not “stand in the way of sinners”; he does not “sit in the seat of mockers.”

The wicked man, then, is grinding to a halt (walk/stand/sit). He begins by walking in the counsel of the wicked: he picks up the advice, perspectives, values, and worldview of the ungodly. If he does this long enough, he sinks to the next level: he “stands in the way of sinners.” This translation gives the wrong impression. To “stand in someone’s way” in English is to hinder them. One thinks of Robin Hood and Little John on the bridge: each stands in the other’s way, and one of them ends in the stream. But “to stand in someone’s way” in Hebrew means something like “to stand in his moccasins”: to do what he does, to adopt his lifestyle, his habits, his patterns of conduct. If he pursues this course long enough, he is likely to descend to the abyss and “sit in the seat of mockers.” He not only participates in much that is godless, but sneers at those who don’t. At this point, someone has said, a person receives his master’s in worthlessness and his doctorate in damnation. The psalmist insists, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers” (italics added). The righteous person is described negatively.

One might have expected the second verse to respond with contrasting parallelism: “Blessed, rather, is the man who walks in the counsel of the righteous, who stands in the way of the obedient, who sits in the seat of the grateful”– or something of that order. Instead, there is one positive criterion, and it is enough: “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (1:2).

Where one delights in the Word of God, constantly meditating on it, there one learns good counsel, there one’s conduct is shaped by revelation, there one nurtures the grace of gratitude and praise. That is a sufficient criterion.

Leviticus 4

Laws for Sin Offerings

4:1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If anyone sins unintentionally1 in any of the LORD's commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them, if it is the anointed priest who sins, thus bringing guilt on the people, then he shall offer for the sin that he has committed a bull from the herd without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering. He shall bring the bull to the entrance of the tent of meeting before the LORD and lay his hand on the head of the bull and kill the bull before the LORD. And the anointed priest shall take some of the blood of the bull and bring it into the tent of meeting, and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle part of the blood seven times before the LORD in front of the veil of the sanctuary. And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense before the LORD that is in the tent of meeting, and all the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And all the fat of the bull of the sin offering he shall remove from it, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys 10 (just as these are taken from the ox of the sacrifice of the peace offerings); and the priest shall burn them on the altar of burnt offering. 11 But the skin of the bull and all its flesh, with its head, its legs, its entrails, and its dung—12 all the rest of the bull—he shall carry outside the camp to a clean place, to the ash heap, and shall burn it up on a fire of wood. On the ash heap it shall be burned up.

13 “If the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally2 and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they do any one of the things that by the LORD's commandments ought not to be done, and they realize their guilt,3 14 when the sin which they have committed becomes known, the assembly shall offer a bull from the herd for a sin offering and bring it in front of the tent of meeting. 15 And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the LORD, and the bull shall be killed before the LORD. 16 Then the anointed priest shall bring some of the blood of the bull into the tent of meeting, 17 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it seven times before the LORD in front of the veil. 18 And he shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar that is in the tent of meeting before the LORD, and the rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 19 And all its fat he shall take from it and burn on the altar. 20 Thus shall he do with the bull. As he did with the bull of the sin offering, so shall he do with this. And the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven. 21 And he shall carry the bull outside the camp and burn it up as he burned the first bull; it is the sin offering for the assembly.

22 “When a leader sins, doing unintentionally any one of all the things that by the commandments of the LORD his God ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, 23 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish, 24 and shall lay his hand on the head of the goat and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the LORD; it is a sin offering. 25 Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering. 26 And all its fat he shall burn on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings. So the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin, and he shall be forgiven.

27 “If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by the LORD's commandments ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, 28 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. 29 And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and kill the sin offering in the place of burnt offering. 30 And the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. 31 And all its fat he shall remove, as the fat is removed from the peace offerings, and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a pleasing aroma to the LORD. And the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven.

32 “If he brings a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish 33 and lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and kill it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering. 34 Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar. 35 And all its fat he shall remove as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of peace offerings, and the priest shall burn it on the altar, on top of the LORD's food offerings. And the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he has committed, and he shall be forgiven.

Footnotes

[1] 4:2 Or by mistake; so throughout Leviticus
[2] 4:13 Or makes a mistake
[3] 4:13 Or suffer for their guilt, or are guilty; also verses 22, 27, and chapter 5

(ESV)

Psalms 1-2

Book One

The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked

1:1   Blessed is the man1
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
  nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
  but his delight is in the law2 of the LORD,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
  He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
  that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
  In all that he does, he prospers.
  The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
  for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.

The Reign of the Lord's Anointed

2:1   Why do the nations rage3
    and the peoples plot in vain?
  The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
  “Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.”
  He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.
  Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
  “As for me, I have set my King
    on Zion, my holy hill.”
  I will tell of the decree:
  The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
    today I have begotten you.
  Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
    and the ends of the earth your possession.
  You shall break4 them with a rod of iron
    and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
10   Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11   Serve the LORD with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12   Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
  Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Footnotes

[1] 1:1 The singular Hebrew word for man (ish) is used here to portray a representative example of a godly person; see Preface
[2] 1:2 Or instruction
[3] 2:1 Or nations noisily assemble
[4] 2:9 Revocalization yields (compare Septuagint) You shall rule

(ESV)

Proverbs 19

19:1   Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity
    than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.
  Desire1 without knowledge is not good,
    and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
  When a man's folly brings his way to ruin,
    his heart rages against the LORD.
  Wealth brings many new friends,
    but a poor man is deserted by his friend.
  A false witness will not go unpunished,
    and he who breathes out lies will not escape.
  Many seek the favor of a generous man,2
    and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.
  All a poor man's brothers hate him;
    how much more do his friends go far from him!
  He pursues them with words, but does not have them.3
  Whoever gets sense loves his own soul;
    he who keeps understanding will discover good.
  A false witness will not go unpunished,
    and he who breathes out lies will perish.
10   It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury,
    much less for a slave to rule over princes.
11   Good sense makes one slow to anger,
    and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
12   A king's wrath is like the growling of a lion,
    but his favor is like dew on the grass.
13   A foolish son is ruin to his father,
    and a wife's quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.
14   House and wealth are inherited from fathers,
    but a prudent wife is from the LORD.
15   Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep,
    and an idle person will suffer hunger.
16   Whoever keeps the commandment keeps his life;
    he who despises his ways will die.
17   Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD,
    and he will repay him for his deed.
18   Discipline your son, for there is hope;
    do not set your heart on putting him to death.
19   A man of great wrath will pay the penalty,
    for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.
20   Listen to advice and accept instruction,
    that you may gain wisdom in the future.
21   Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
    but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
22   What is desired in a man is steadfast love,
    and a poor man is better than a liar.
23   The fear of the LORD leads to life,
    and whoever has it rests satisfied;
    he will not be visited by harm.
24   The sluggard buries his hand in the dish
    and will not even bring it back to his mouth.
25   Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence;
    reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge.
26   He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother
    is a son who brings shame and reproach.
27   Cease to hear instruction, my son,
    and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
28   A worthless witness mocks at justice,
    and the mouth of the wicked devours iniquity.
29   Condemnation is ready for scoffers,
    and beating for the backs of fools.

Footnotes

[1] 19:2 Or A soul
[2] 19:6 Or of a noble
[3] 19:7 The meaning of the Hebrew sentence is uncertain

(ESV)

Colossians 2

2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

Alive in Christ

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits1 of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities2 and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.3

Let No One Disqualify You

16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,4 puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Footnotes

[1] 2:8 Or elementary principles; also verse 20
[2] 2:15 Probably demonic rulers and authorities
[3] 2:15 Or in it (that is, the cross)
[4] 2:18 Or about the things he has seen

(ESV)

Resources

Why We Need the Psalms

Yes, contemporary Christians should give time to this collection of clearly ancient, often unruly, sometimes alarming, frequently perplexing songs.

How Jesus Disarmed the Devil

This is one of the great verses of victory in the New Testament.

Psalm 1: Delight determines destiny