Dr. Matthew Postiff, the pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Ann Arbor, taught my Elementary Hebrew class in the 2006-2007 school year. While teaching this class Dr. Postiff produced and assembled a number of mp3 files to assist our students with the pronunciation of Hebrew. These tools include files related to pronouncing the Hebrew alphabet, vowels, the vocabulary for the first 40 lessons in Allen Ross’s Introducing Biblical Hebrew, and links to websites that have mp3 files for reading the Hebrew Bible. These files have been placed on his blog entry for October 5, 2007. I highly recommend these sources for students in first and second year Hebrew.
On October 6, an article appeared in the Guardian Unlimited entitled “I am creating artificial life, declares US gene pioneer.” This was also followed by FoxNews in an article “Report: Scientists Create New Life Form in Lab.” As the reports describe, scientists from the J. Craig Venter Institute have supposedly created “artificial life.” However, this is another case of premature reporting. In reality, what happened at this institute is a new form of genetic engineering. To see the other side of the story, Answers in Genesis made available for the web, on October 8, Dr. Georgia Purdom’s expose of this creation of “artificial life.” Check out her article entitled “Have Scientists Created a New-Life Form in the Lab?“
Early this morning, I downloaded five podcasts, entitled “Living with Lou Gehrig’s disease, from Dr. Gene Getz’s 15-minute daily radio program, Renewal Radio. The title of this week’s program (October 8–15) immediately caught my attention because my own father died as a result of Lou Gehrig’s disease about 11 years ago. In the five interviews, Dr. Getz interviews a medical doctor who has had Lou Gehrig’s disease since 1998 and is almost completely paralyzed today.
The common name, Lou Gehrig’s disease, often associated with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is derived from the famous New York Yankee baseball player who was diagnosed with this disease while he was still playing first base for the Yankees in the 1930s. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that influences the nerve cells in the brain and spinal column.
My father, Robert V. McCabe, Sr., was diagnosed with this disease in the early summer of 1995. A little more than a year later, late August of 1996, he died as a result of it. For two weeks in the summer of 1995 and again in the summer of 1996, I flew to his home in Waxahachie, Texas in order to spend time with him and my step-mother, Sally McCabe. It was heart-wrenching, over those four weeks, to watch my dad suffer with this disease and progressively lose the use of his body as he dies. Though my father had periods of great discouragement, the Lord was faithful in preserving his faith. My step-mother, whose first husband had been a strong Presbyterian pastor of my home church and died from cancer in the early 1970s, showed her typical godly patience in taking care of my dad until his death.
Dr. Lanier’s testimony of handling ALS, since he initially diagnosed it himself in 1998, is both informative and edifying. In an era when a theology of suffering is marginalized and neglected, Dr. Lanier’s testimony calls us to embrace Christ’s lordship in the midst of suffering. Check out “Living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease” and may God grant us the faith that perseveres in the good and bad times of life (Eccl 7:13-14, ESV).
With my post on September 23, “The Wisdom of Psalm 1,” we saw that Psalm 1 is a wisdom psalm that has a precise structural arrangement. Presently, I will identify the basic message of this psalm with a focus on its contemporary applicability.
Initially, we should look for the subject of Psalm 1. What is helpful to remember is that various writers of the psalms introduce their subjects within the first few verses of each psalm. In Psalm 1 the subject is found in v. 1: “the blessedness of the godly man.”
The psalmist develops his subject by using a prolonged contrast between two types of people: the godly and ungodly. The verses of this psalm fall into three structural units. In the first unit, vv. 1–3, the author develops his theme by contrasts. He begins v. 1 with a pronouncement of blessedness on the godly man. A contrast immediately follows by picturing the blessed man avoiding the wicked man’s influence. In v. 2 the psalmist gives the basis for the blessed man’s godliness, his commitment to the Law, and illustrates in v. 3 the extent of his blessedness. The second unit in vv. 4–5 begins with a contrast, “the ungodly are not so.” This is to say, the ungodly do not receive the blessings that the godly receive. The psalmist then illustrates their unstable life in the remainder of v. 4. In v. 5 he concludes the second unit by describing the judgment of the wicked. He once again draws a contrast by indicating that the ungodly will be separated from the godly. The third unit, v. 6, contrasts the godly and ungodly. The godly have a special relationship with the LORD but the ungodly will perish.
To correlate the message of Psalm 1 with a contemporary setting, we should start by observing that the Hebrew term translated as “blessed,” in v. 1, denotes that joyous condition of those living under the Mosaic Covenant who in faith worshipped and followed the Lord of the Covenant, Yahweh. We can correlate this today with those who are living for God’s approval, as a consequence of having been justified by faith. In short, the subject of this psalm is living with God’s approval. Verses 2–6 indicate that those living with God’s approval are motivated by God’s approval of them. Psalm 1’s big idea is that God’s approval provokes godly living. An expository outline of this psalm would look like this.
With its presentation of the godly man and his relationship to the Law, Psalm 1 is the first of two psalms that introduce the book of Psalms (note how the use of the term “blessed” at the beginning of Psalm 1:1 and as one of the last few words in Psalm 2:12 provides a rhetorical connection between the two psalms as an envelope construction). Psalm 2 with its emphasis on the sovereign rule of the Davidic king completes a two-psalm introduction to the Psalter. With a subsequent post, we will look at Psalm 2.