OK, so now I know a few people, I learned some things last week and had no other Wednesday night commitments yet when week 2 rolled around. We were still unpacking boxes and at the time it still felt like we’re on an extended vacation. This is my frame of mind when I arrived at the week 2 “HE IS” study.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. NIV
KJV…for he that cometh to God must believe that HE IS, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
The name Jehovah means “I AM THAT I AM.”
The name Jah is the contracted form of that phrase meaning: “I AM.”
All throughout the whole entire Bible, the all caps written name LORD sometimes means “Jah” but not every time. There’s a distiction. Psalm 118 uses LORD 19 times, but meaning “I AM” only 6 times. ‘Why is this important?’ you may be asking yourself. Well, Beth and I will tell you. You like treasure, don’t you?
There’s a song we (BSF children’s leaders, not me & Beth, just so you know) teach to preschoolers. It goes:
The Bible is a treasure book of stories that are true,
It tells of people long ago, of folks like me and you.
You need to know and/or believe that the Bible REALLY IS chock FULL of treasure personally for you. And one of the treasures to be found in those pages is real meaning for today. Beth is awesome to mine out and explain meanings for scriptures that are heavily memorized and favored in the already Bible reading community. (Which is the toughest crowd out there!)
So Psalm 118 is part of the Egyptian Hallel. This prayer was recited by heart at every Passover meal with Psalm 113 and 114 recited before the meal (when you read Ps 114 & 115, can’t you just imagine little children listening and learning from those who recited with intention and expression? The skipping! The running! The trembling! The senses & the shouting! I may have to reinstate this practice at my dinner table).
Psalm 115-116 were recited during dinner, and Psalm 117-118 was always recited after the meal…
Did you get that???
…Jesus himself, along with the disciples, if they were experiencing that Last Supper Passover in the traditional way, would have been saying these chapters and verses together just hours before his trial and death on the cross.
From my distress I called upon Jah, (I AM) and Jah answered by setting me free.
So the word for “setting me free” is Merhab which means “spaciousness, wideness.” Then she goes on to say,
“How many of us are still convinced, even if our mouth/life/thoughts/actions/doubts suggest different that God’s ways constrict us, but it is worth it because we want to go to heaven and have rewards. But actually, for this time period, if we’re going to do the right thing, then we have to live pretty bound up, pretty constricted for all our earthly lives.
That belief is a toxic lie from the enemy.
Psalm 119:32 I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.
She then told a hilarious but poignant story about her daughter & some friends. The friends came over for dinner quite often and decided that each time they left, they would sneak something away and take it home with them. A picture, a knick knack, anything. Eventually, since no one was noticing, they got sassy enough to take a dining room chair! Finally, when they couldn’t stand it anymore, they invited the “victims” over and had all that stuff sitting around!
The poignant part of that story is that THIS IS WHAT THE ENEMY IS DOING TO US ALL THE TIME.
It is Satan’s job to do everything he can to take every bit of spiritual ground and God-given property out from under our feet. It is the enemy that is doing everything he can to constrict you.
Whereas, the “YES” -es in life are all the promises of God. (I will provide, I will protect, I will comfort, I will sustain, I will heal, I will carry, I will love you like a mother, I will save you from punishment, on & on)
Nothing testifies that “He Is” more effectively than a bound man set free.
(Unfortunately our free “talk” is drastically exceeding our free “walk.”)
We have to be willing to be seen as less in other people’s eyes, but at least it’s real. God said NO sin shall have dominion over you. (But our strongholds often are our comfort and/or motivation).
Did God call us to “at least” living?
“At least” I’m saved.
Are we practicing “stronghold management?”
God is singing over us songs of deliverance.
Psalm 118:5 In my anguish… KJV= distress
Hebrew=”metser” meaning something tight, like trouble, distress, pain, dire straights.
This quest for freedom is not a one-time event, but a process for all our days. Like with Jabez in the Old Testament:
1 Chronicles 4:9-10 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
Jabez asked to be free from the pain of evil. The enemy wants us crushed, speechless, where we can not proclaim the Word or the promises of God, or cry out to Jah, & ask for what we need.
When feeling crushed, SAY the Words of God…or even the NAME of God with CONFINDENCE. Not just in your thoughts. How had God seen you through before? How has He been evident in the life of someone you know? As it says in 118:5 CRY OUT TO JAH! Not randomly, but be specific! Who’s on you? What is your problem about? He already knows, but we need to make the connection between our own unsolvability and the knowledge that He can handle it. Because He can.
118:14 Jah is my strength and my song; Jah has become my salvation.
(Shannon’s turn) In the months before my mom died, I was living 500 miles away from her, juggling a husband, 4 small children, and 2 homes–hers in TN and mine in MI. When I look back, I have no idea how God put me where I needed to be in both of those places, over the time span of Aug 2002-Oct 2003 or how He provided in my absence in both places. I just know He did. I really didn’t cry out to him in a way that I remember today, but my soul was needy and He was there. I did nothing but trust. He did everything else. I not only received strength for each day and for the long term, but He was also my song because He showed me He was doing it and I wasn’t. This gave me a joy that doesn’t make sense in that kind of circumstance. And as for the salvation, well, there’s the eternal kind of salvation, and there’s also the constant rescue, like when my husband moves the oven mitt off the burner I just turned on, or moves a glass away from the edge of the table. The big kind of eternal salvation is essential, but there are thousands of ways I am ‘saved from making a mess’ physically and emotionally each day.
118:18 Jah has chastened me sore…
God chastises the ones he loves. Yasir (Hebrew): To chastise, reprove, discipline, instruct, give a warning.
The purpose of God’s disciple is changed behavior. Not just for the new believer, but all of us constantly need behavior modification (and sometimes behavior removal).
…but Jah has not given me over to death.
(Shannon’s turn) When I think of death in this sense, it is not the physical “end of life” death, but the darkness inside that comes from those oh-so-many “uh oh” moments. Some of them, in my case, are big ones like rebellious attitudes and actions, and some are little and constant. But when we call out to Jah, like a superhero, I AM rescues us from death of purpose, death of ministry, death of usefulness, death of priorities, death of partially-built dreams.
I will look in triumph over my enemies (Micah something)
Instead of having stuff from your home taken away, piece by piece, God promises Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Psalm 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
The Hebrew word for rejoice is “guwl” which means spin around with joy! Now that takes some room, doesn’t it? Spinning around with joy is the total opposite of constricted and bound up in sin.
We can never go too far or do so much that God will not welcome us home. Which brings us full circle in this Psalm because it starts with…
Psalm 118:1 Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting.
He loves you! Right now! Today! Because He’s good like that.