Posted by: davidlarkin | June 15, 2018

Upon Edom I Cast My Shoe

I follow a daily Bible reading schedule I put together from several different reading plans.  In my Bible readings today (June 14), I read again a Psalm of David, Psalm 60. I like Verses 6-8; the metaphoric images always catch my interest and thought:

God has spoken in his holiness:
“With exultation I will divide up Shechem
and portion out the Vale of Succoth.
Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet;
Judah is my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin;
upon Edom I cast my shoe;
over Philistia I shout in triumph.”

Psalm 60:6-8 (ESV)

These words and symbols came through the mind of David, who was a warrior King, and the geography was also part of his Kingdom, hence the coverage of tribal territories by King David in his poetic reflections on his God. I like the geographical image presented of named regions, mostly named after Israel’s tribes or non-Israelite people groups, who have settled in the region at the time of David’s Kingdom. You can see most of the places named in these verses on the map of Israel after Moses returned the children of Israel to the promised land. In these verses, the tribes of the map are symbolic accessories, e.g., helmet and scepter, of the God of the Israelites, at the time of King David.

Looking at the map above, the tribe of Ephraim is settled north of Judah, where David was headquartered. Moab, not a tribe of Israel, is southeast and below it, Edom, not a tribe of Israel, but descendants of Esau, is below Moab. The twelve tribes are descendants of the sons of Esau’s twin brother, Jacob, renamed “Israel” by God.

And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel [“the face of God”], saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

Genesis 32:27-30 (ESV)

Much more could be written about these verses and have been over the many years since the Psalm was written. Historians of the Ancient Near East agree that David probably existed around 1000 BCE.

Believe it or not, for the past 10 years at least, I have read through all 150 Psalms every 7 weeks on my Bible reading program, and each day, I generally find something new to think or wonder about, or something old to re-ponder and appreciate.  My Daily Bible Reading plan is posted on this blog in the “Bible Reading” tab above.   Of course, I have my days of spiritual dullness and distraction, but on those days, the Psalms and other Bible verses I read are uplifting and help me stay the course of my now senior days, so to speak. Were I not thinking about the verses as I am reading, it would otherwise be a 150 part mantra for meditation since I am at peace when I read these.

Some of the Psalms are difficult and jarring. Most of the various emotions, desires and acts of man are represented in the Psalms and not always appealing, but these are contemplations, prayers, praises and petitions to God by imperfect and sinful mankind, a portion who recognise God’s existence and sovereignty.

Over my 47 years a Christian, I have read books and commentaries about the Psalms. My favorite is C.S. Lewis’s book, “Reflections on the Psalms” which I have read at least 3 times I can recall over the past 25 years since I first bought the book. It helps to have a knowledge of the Old Testament and the history of the times for a deeper experience in reading, but that took many years of study and reading as a layman, and not as a Biblical scholar or minister of the Word.

I read the Old Testament and the Psalms through my Christian lens, but appreciate the Psalms as they gave meaning to the Jews of the Old Testament times as well, to the best of my ability as a 21st Century man now.

A study Bible is very helpful. In the past, I have used a New King James Study Bible, an NIV Study Bible, and for the past five years I have used an English Standard Version (ESV) Large Print Study Bible which I love. The pages are covered with my handwritten notes and yellow highlighting covers a multitude of verses. However, that education and experience of mine is not necessary for experiencing the joy and comfort of the Psalms. Most any committed Christian and observant Jew who reads them regularly can tell you that. Even for those who do not believe, there is poetic and intellectual pleasure in reading the Psalms.

Note: The ESV Large Print Study Bible is expensive.  There is a less expensive paperback ESV Study Bible here.

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