“Those who try
Their life secure,
Will lose it.
But those who lose
Will keep it.”
ὃς ἐὰν ζητήσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ περιποιήσασθαι, ἀπολέσει αὐτήν, καὶ ὃς ἂν ἀπολέσει, ζωογονήσει αὐτήν.
Luke indicated that Jesus said that those who try to make their life secure or save it (ὃς ἐὰν ζητήσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ περιποιήσασθαι), would lose it (ἀπολέσει αὐτήν). But those who lose their life (καὶ ὃς ἂν ἀπολέσει), would keep or preserve it (ζωογονήσει αὐτήν). In chapter 9:24, Luke indicated that Jesus said that anyone who wanted to save his life (ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι), would lose it or have it sent away (ἀπολέσει αὐτήν). Those who lost their life (ὃς δ’ ἂν ἀπολέσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ) for the sake of Jesus (ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ), would save it (οὗτος σώσει αὐτήν). Jesus told his disciples how to save their lives. Something similar can be found in the other synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 16:25, and Mark, chapter 8:35. Mark indicated that Jesus said that whoever wished, desired, or wanted to save his life, he would lose it. Matthew indicated that Jesus said that whoever wished, desired, or wanted to save their life, they would lose it. However, anyone who lost their life for the sake of Jesus, they would find their life. This is also similar to Matthew, chapter 10:39 and John, chapter 12:25. In order to gain your eternal life, you have to lose your life for the sake of Jesus. Anyone who thinks that he has found his life or soul, will lose it. On the other hand, anyone who loses their life or soul for the sake of Jesus will find their life or soul. Thus, you have to lose your life or soul in Jesus, in order to truly live, a common theme about losing your life for Christ. Have you lost your life in Jesus?
“Those who serve
These idol gods
If any of these gods
Fall to the ground,
Must pick them up.
If anyone sets them upright,
Cannot move themselves.
If they are tipped over,
They cannot straighten themselves.
Gifts are placed
Just as before the dead.
The priests sell
That are offered
To these gods.
They use the money themselves.
Their wives likewise
Preserve some of the meat
But they give none of it
To the poor
Or the helpless.”
Next this author attacks those who take care of these idol gods. These caretakers were themselves ashamed. If any of these gods fell to the ground, they must pick them up. They have to set these gods upright since they cannot move themselves. If these idols are tipped over, they cannot up right themselves. In other words, there has to be someone around these false idol gods, because if anything happens to them, these caretakers have to straighten things out. Gifts are placed before these images, just like gifts for the dead. However, these caretaker priests often sell the sacrifices that were offered to these gods. Then they would use the money for themselves. Their wives likewise would preserve some of the meat with salt. However, they gave none of it to the poor or the helpless.
“It is a snare for one to say rashly.
‘It is holy.’
Then only begin to reflect after making a vow.
A wise king winnows the wicked.
He drives the wheel over them.
The human spirit is the lamp of Yahweh.
It searches every innermost part.
Loyalty and faithfulness preserve the king.
His throne is upheld by righteousness.
The glory of young men is their strength.
The beauty of the aged is their gray hair.
Blows that wound
Cleanse away evil.
Strokes make clean the innermost parts.”
Watch out for snares or traps. When someone thinks that something is holy and then makes a vow, they might be caught because only later do they think about what they just agreed to do. A wise king winnows or gets rid of the wicked ones. Then he drives a wheel over them. The human spirit is like God’s lamp that searches his most inner part. If the king is loyal and faithful he will preserve himself. Righteousness keeps the king on his throne. The glory of young people is their strength. However, the aged are beautiful because of their wonderful gray hair. Any blows that wound people clean up any evil in them. These strokes clean the innermost parts of their human bodies. This seems like an argument for corporal punishment.
“The wise child loves discipline.
But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
From the fruit of their words,
Good persons eat good things.
But the desire of the treacherous is for violence.
Whoever guards their mouths preserves their lives.
Whoever opens wide their lips comes to ruin.
The appetite of the lazy craves,
But gets nothing.
The appetite of the diligent is richly supplied.”
The wise child loves discipline because it leads to knowledge. However, the lazy mocking scoffer does not listen to criticism. Good people eat good things because of the good fruit of their words. The treacherous only want violence. If you guard your mouth, you will preserve your life. However, if you open your mouth wide, it will only bring you ruin. The lazy people crave for food but they get nothing, while the appetite of the diligent gets richly supplied and satisfied.
“With my whole heart
I will keep your statutes.
I cry to you.
Thus I may observe your decrees.
I rise before dawn.
I cry for help.
I put my hope in your words.
My eyes are awake before each watch of the night.
Thus I may meditate on your promise.
In your steadfast love,
Hear my voice!
In your justice,
Preserve my life!
Those who persecute me with evil purpose,
They are far from your law.
You are near.
All your commandments are true.
I learned from your decrees.
You have established them forever.”
This psalmist cried for help to Yahweh from his heart. He wanted to be saved because he kept the statutes of Yahweh. He rose before dawn with his crying prayer to Yahweh. In the middle of the night, he would get up and meditate on the promises of Yahweh. He wanted the steadfast love of Yahweh in his justice to preserve his life. He was being persecuted with an evil purpose by those who were far from Yahweh’s law. He wanted Yahweh near him because his commandments were true. He had long ago learned from Yahweh’s decrees that had been established forever. So ends this section on the nineteenth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Qoph.
A Prayer of David
“Incline your ear!
I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life!
I am devoted to you.
Save your servant who trusts in you!
You are my God!
Be gracious to me!
I cry to you all day long.
Gladden the soul of your servant!
I lift up my soul to you!
You are good.
You are forgiving,
You abound in steadfast love
To all who call on you.
Give ear to my prayer!
Listen to my cry of supplication!
In the day of my trouble,
I call on you.
You will answer me.”
Psalm 86 seems like a personal prayer of David. There is no other indication in the title. David wanted Yahweh to listen to him by giving him his ear. He wanted an answer since he was poor and needy. He wanted to preserve his life since he was devoted to Yahweh. He trusted in Yahweh as a servant. All day long he cried to Yahweh, his God. He wanted Yahweh to be gracious to him and gladden his soul. He knew that Yahweh was good and forgiving due to his steadfast love. David wanted Yahweh to hear him in the times of his trouble. He called and expected an answer.
“Let the groans of the prisoners come before you!
According to your great power
Preserve those doomed to die!
Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors
The taunts with which they have taunted you!
Then we your people,
The flock of your pasture,
Will give thanks to you forever.
From generation to generation
We will recount your praise.”
This psalm ends with the request to listen to their prayers. The Israelites considered themselves as prisoners who were doomed to die. Indeed the psalmist wanted God to preserve them. He wanted God to return sevenfold the taunts that had been delivered to them. They were his people, his flock. They would give thanks forever so that generation after generation would praise him.
“Consider how many are my foes!
With what violent hatred they hate me.
O guard my life!
Do not let me be put to shame!
I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me!
I wait for you.”
Yahweh should protect the psalmist from his foes and enemies. They hate him violently. Yahweh should guard his life and rescue him so that he would not be put to shame. He took refuge in Yahweh as he hoped that his integrity and uprightness would preserve him. Meanwhile he waited on Yahweh.
“A Miktam of David.
In you I take refuge.
I say to Yahweh.
‘You are my Lord!
I have no good apart from you.’
As for the holy ones in the land,
They are the noble ones,
In whom is all my delight.”
Psalm 16 is a little longer psalm of personal faith in Yahweh. This is called a Miktam of David. Psalms 56-60 also have this title. It may refer to a wind instrument or a cymbal or tambourine. The Hebrew meaning of Miktam is uncertain. The psalmist or David asks God to preserve him. He takes his refuge in Yahweh, who is his lord. There is nothing good apart from God. The English language unites good and god with just a simple “o” difference. The psalmist delights only in the holy ones, the noble ones who live in the holy land.