Bread – Keeping

August 25, 2015


Readings for Tuesday, August 25, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 1 Kings 1:38-2:4; Acts 26:24-27:8; Mark 13:28-37; Psalms 5,6,10,11

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In David’s instructions to Solomon from our reading today in 1 Kings, David says “Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man. And keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies…that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn.” 1 Kings 2:2-3

In and of itself, this is a great instruction to all of us – we should stand strong in the Lord and we should always walk in God’s ways according to His principles.

In fact, today the readings were so “surface” that I turned to my Hebrew-Greek Study Bible to see if any of these words were highlighted for definition. And, sure enough, something did arise. My ESV Bible says simply “and keep the charge of the Lord your God….to keep His … ordinances.”

The word “charge” here does not mean instructions as we would normally consider it, but instead means to keep watch, a watch-post, a sentry with two main parts, the first being the obligation or service to be performed and the second being something which must be preserved. The sentry is required to stand watch (the service) in order to preserve the peace and repel enemies (the something which must be preserved). Thus, the word “charge in this reading has more of the sense of the word “keeping” (which is also used in the same passage), with the service being performed the active preservation and protection of something valuable, and the something valuable which requires preserving is God’s principles, His laws, and His Word. The place God has put us in this world is to protect His truth and to proclaim it. For that we must be strong, and diligent, and consistent, and loving, and obedient. Without those who are charged doing their job with excellence, the world would decay and collapse beyond moral recognition. In a sense, God has charged us who would share the throne as adopted children with the protection of His presence on earth and, thereby, with the protection of the world.

But there is a second part to this, and in my quote that is the word “ordinance.” We think of ordinances as laws passed by cities, and so of “lesser” standing than commandments and statutes, and sure enough the quotation beginning this Bread goes from statutes to commandments to ordinances to testimonies, from strongest (perhaps) to weakest. But, as is so common with Scripture, what we think of when we say the word “ordinance” is not necessarily what God has in mind. The Hebrew word translated into “ordinance” is properly a verdict or a judgment, referring to all functions of government (legislative, judicial, and executive). You may summarize this concept by the word “justice,” an attribute of God. Thus, the word “ordinance” is not just a simple law, it is “the” law which transcends all others because it brings with itself justice.

So we are instructed to keep God’s justice, we are “charged” as sentries with the protection of justice.

How as a Christian have I protected justice today? How have I kept it? Have I treated others like I have treated myself? Have I made sure that the worker has received his or her fair pay? Have I honored truth in my speech and my behavior? Have I pointed out lying language for what it is? Have I lived today in integrity? How many lies have I told, how many minutes have I stolen from God, how many times have I closed the door on other people who need entry?

We must keep, protect, treasure, understand, and promote justice, God’s love and His law, in everything we do. And when we do this, we will get the government we do not deserve but the government which God has decreed, and that will be very good indeed.

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© 2015 GBF

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